Emperor Preserve

Sinophia - The Turning Hand
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WRITEUP IN PROGRESS

Like the fizzle of a melta gun blast deflected off the hull of a Leman Russ, a shaft of light from the doorway struggled and failed to illuminate the Breath of the Emperor as the inquisitorial cell filed in. Thick incense filled anterior chamber, leaving the air suffused with a rich, heavy smell and obscuring the drinking hall’s furnishings and inhabitants with a thick pall of smoke. While overbearing in most circumstances, in this case the smoke worked in everyone’s favor, as it masked the stench of the polluted waterway which clung to Kaunitzer’s robes and armor.


SUMMARY——

The team has learned the following facts:

  • The Breath of the Emperor is a high class establishment in the Turning Hand which panders to offworlders, but clientele is now few and far between.
  • Doketh is the name of the local coinage. Thrones are worth more than Doketh, but exchange rate is as yet unknown.
  • “13 Doketh” is a reference to a notorious tax that the nobility has implemented per crate of lho sticks. There is a statement that often follows mentioning of this by individuals who are against the tax, but no one caught the phrase
  • there is one major player in the Quorum approved lho stick trade, and their packs are marked with a stylized “M”
  • The stylized “M” is the symbol for the noble family Maywroth
  • The underworld of Sinophia is ruled by sinister parody of the nobility, and the Rag Kings and Rag Queens that make up the seedy underbelly of the world are known collectively as the Undertow
  • There are workers putting up a large Aquila icon on Haarlock’s Folly
  • There seems to be a section of Haarlock’s folly where someone or something is being kept, as there are guards looking IN (as opposed to facing out to prevent people from getting in)
  • Saint’s Mouth is the name of the Bay
  • Vicious murders which may or may not be connected have nonetheless inflamed both the nobility and the undertow, and have set them against each others. The murdered:
    – Castillo, Rag King, dismembered while in transit
    – Mam’sel Zamura Rolart, ripped apart in her dressing room
    – Legate Senh-Ar Dole, offworld trader and undertow moneylender, disappeared and entire household dismembered
    – Viscount ??, killed at manse, security system inexplicably stopped working during attack but resumed after, killed by severe beating
  • One red herring clue leads to a boy that looks like the contact they are looking for, but isn’t. Luckily he has in the past been mistaken for this youth. The actual contact’s name is Barabbas and he seems to have joined a cult near Apker’s Cathedral.
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Asset replenishment at the Turning Hand
Making the family proud

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From: Intios; Adeptus Administratum & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus

When the firefight at the barge was over, both Karpath and Kaunitzer were down. I rushed to where our skiff had docked. The skiff had taken multiple hits from shotgun and heavy weapon’s fire. Kaunitzer’s motionless body was barely afloat with his arm caught on the remaining floating portion of the battered skiff. My eyes then immediately caught sight of the hover cart floating on its side in the canal about 7-8 meters from the edge.

Was it Kaunitzer’s voice in my head that told me to pull him out of the water? I quickly dismissed that voice as I pulled out my grapnel and hook to try to retrieve the hover cart. I couldn’t get it to hook on. As I stared at the cart, I wondered if I should use the gantry crane to pull it out of the water or should I just drop my backpack and dive into the canal. A few moments later, I see Arion with the help of one of the local dock workers driving the small gunboat towards me. As Arion gets near, it is obvious that his micro-bead is not working so I start to frantically point at the hover cart so that he picks it up first.

With the hover cart taken care of, we put both Karpath and Kaunitzer’s bodies onto the gunboat. We make it to Haarlock’s Folly by waterway. Upon arriving at the tower that is Haarlock’s Folly, we finally meet Adjutant Fihad Constantine. We told him that our cell is in need of immediate medical attention. Constantine directed one of the Arbites officers to drive us to the Commercia district, where the best med-lab was. We also ask where we may be able to get resupplied. We are told that the Turning Hand, at the edge of the Commercia district would be best.

My wounds seem to heal much faster this time around. Now with some quiet time on my hands, I reflect upon being in Sinophia. I know that Sinophia was once a world of pivotal destiny and economic power, but now is little more than a forlorn and forgotten relic of the past. This frontier world is situated on the furthest reaches of the Ixaniad Sector. My family, prior to the Inquisition, would have nothing to do with it, for fear of tarnishing its reputation.

Now that I’m on my feet, Arion seems eager to salvage what equipment he lost in the canal battle. I am also eager to see if we can find anything that was originally on the hover cart. We needed to get underwater gear so we had an Arbites driver take us to the Turning Hand. While in transit on the Fortune’s Path, I was able to do some research on Sinophia and its capital Sinophia Magna.

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The Turning Hand is equivalent to an ancient meeting house – a very fancy one that has seen better days. It’s the oldest meeting house on Sinophia, said to have existed for more than a millennia and has succumbed by inches to the Sinophian malaise. During the centuries of prosperity, merchants, traders, information gleaners and other fortune-seekers would meet in the Turning Hand’s golden halls to exchange information, eat, drink and mingle in the incense-fogged atmosphere. People still come to trade and deal in whispers, but the bustle of the place is long gone. The alcove tables are not filled & one does not need to make reservations for private dining. The Hand has now become the ill-lit haunt of what few off-worlders come to Sinophia. Here, one is likely to find agents of foreign cartels, far travelers and silent strangers sipping spiced amasec and muttering discussions amid the empty spaces and echoing salons. The Hand’s great central chamber, is a richly decorated (but long-faded) domed room dominated by seven great pillars, each ten times the height of a man and glittering with tarnished golden fume pipes pumping incense into the air. Meanwhile, faces of cards from the Emperor’s Tarot – enameled on brass sheets – rotate on chains dangling from the painted ceiling. Designed to hold hundreds, the chamber seems now oppressively silent and ill-lit, it’s high stained-glass windows shrouded in grime and rainwater. A circular bar fills the center of the crimson carpeted floor and decrepit-looking servitors see to patrons’ needs under the watchful eye of the plump elderly owner.

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We approach one of the alcoves and discover a trader by the name of Mateo Pinto. We ask for underwater gear and he said that he should be able to get one within a day. As we exit the Turning Hand, I realize that it has not stopped raining since we landed on Sinophia. A day later, while the others are still healing, Arion and I return to pick up what Mateo Pinto refers to as a survival suit. On our way out, Mateo says to stop by anytime. With a simple wink, I tell him that we will surely see him soon.

Back at the canal where our firefight took place, Arion donned the survival suit and jumped into the murky water. He was able find his pack and some of the items on the hover cart. Unfortunately, most of the electronic equipment was not operational and any clothing was unusable. We waited for the rest of the cell to recuperate before making another stop at the Turning Hand.

I warmly greeted Pinto by saying, “Master Mateo, I know that you are the one that can help me and my associates resupply. Here is a long list of what we are looking for.” Pinto seemed eager to trade. Sciscitatio was able to get a majority of the items we were looking for. I thanked him for his help and he said, “It looks like I will need to resupply before we meet again.”

Before leaving, Karpath asked Mateo if the image or phrase “a pack of Lho sticks with 13 doketh” meant anything. Mateo said that it sounded familiar but being an off worlder, he wasn’t sure. It seems the search for our new Inquisitorial acolyte has begun in earnest.

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Sinophia Magna's Waterways Were Cleared, But Not Without Cost
NOW, where's this teenager with a bad complexion we crossed the sector to find....

The Acolytes of the Inquisitorial Cell Sciscitatio continued to battle the raiders who had attacked the armored barge on the waterways of Sinophia Magna on the frontier planet of Sinophia. Two of their number had fallen, Tilusch Kaunitzer & Karpath Rommulus.

Intios maintained the sniper position he’d found high up on a gantry, but quickly ran out of viable targets from his perch. Arion, having dispatched the two raiders he’d found on the back of the barge, made brief contact with the crew he found there. The assassin then proceeded to cut & hew his way through all the tattooed disheveled foe he found and worked his way forward, creating a crimson path.
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A couple of dockworkers, knowing the sounds meant that a merchant barge was under attack, grabbed what weapons they had & sprinted towards the las bolts & shotgun blasts. Ardite & Skarky made their way aboard the stricken barge, but found their foes already in retreat.

The raiders apparently didn’t like the way the battle had turned & were now turning tail, belly-crawling towards the boats tied to the front of the barge while hurling firebombs to cover their retreat. Intios, having adjusted his position to the ground, picked off a couple before they reached the skiff with the mounted heavy weapon. He managed to also fatally hit one of the other skiff’s drivers. One craft of raiders did successfully speed away, as did a couple more attackers who slithered into the murky waters of the canal.
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Shortly thereafter, a substantial force of Sanctum Enforcers arrived aboard skiffs and began questioning the crew, as well as tending to the wounded. The Acolytes identified themselves as Inquisition, and gave a statement as to what had occurred. A medic examined the fallen Inquisitorial soldier to the sound of the Enforcers promptly executing wounded raiders. The Acolytes’ wounds being beyond the abilities of field treatment, the Cell hurried off on one of the raider’s skiffs, using the dockworker Ardite as a guide.

They reached the beach near Haarlock’s Folly and were met by a couple of Adeptus Arbites, who’d been alerted by the Sanctum Enforcers. The Arbites drove Sciscitatio to the imposing tower, which had been recently repurposed to an Arbites Precinct. There they finally made first contact with Adjutant Fihad Constantine, who had sent the communique’ asking for Inquisitorial involvement in the first place. An Arbites officer was ordered to drive the Cell to the Commercia District, which they were told had the best medical facilities in Sinophia Magna. The city’s Surginarium had closed some years ago, and the PDF’s medical facilities had been destroyed in the action that hopefully cleansed the planet of Logician’s earlier that year. So a medical supply house in the Commercia had been repurposed to a med-lab and a Mechanicus Biologis with other duties had been pressed into service.
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Acolyte Kaunitzer struggled to overcome his grave injuries, but within 5-6 days the entire Cell had miraculously bounced back from injuries that included two near death. Two of the Emperor’s servants first strove to recover equipment lost in the dirty canal water. After renting a suit for water salvage from a willing merchant, they managed to find most of what was lost…though not all in working order.

With that, they headed back to The Turning Hand, on the border of the Commerica District, to see what goods they could acquire. Acolyte Intios rolled up his sleeves & worked Mateo Pinto pretty good, one of the merchants he was able to find in the mostly empty cavernous halls there, who had provided the survival suit earlier.

In their limited travels around Sinophia Magna so far, the Cell got their first taste of observing distrustfulness of the population. Obviously, the Cell is a group of grim looking, armored & heavily armed strangers. However, even beyond the Acolytes sticking out, citizens distrust & fear of strangers could not be missed. The other feature of Sinophia Magna that was not possible to overlook was the nearly ever present precipitation. It had let-up briefly after their battle for the barge, but had not truly stopped raining since their arrival.

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Wet with Water & Blood
That didn't take long - we hadn't even reached town

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TO: Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla, Ordo Xenos
FROM: Acolyte Karpath Rommulus, Ordo Xenos; Sinophia System
SUBJECT: Mission Update
PRIORITY: Moderate

After running into the building and escaping the fire from the snipers and the heavy machine gun we decided that it would be best if we ran to the roof to return fire. We met Arion on the stairway up to the roof where he killed one of the snipers and handed off the rifle I asked for to me. He continued down the stairs and outside the building to take out some of the other snipers. Intios and I continued upward to the roof of the four story building and moved to the edge.
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Intios and I set up on the roof and started firing upon the other snipers. I took out a sniper from a building across the canal after trading some hits with him and I also took out one of the snipers on the building adjacent to the building we were on. The other sniper on that building was quickly taken out by Arion.
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During this time Kaunitzer was still on the boat trying to lay suppressive fire on. Unfortunately with us running into the building the enemies lost targets to shoot at and all fired at Kaunitzer. He was doing ok until the heavy machinegun began firing into him. The machine gun took him and the boat out.

From the roof we spotted some men trying to sneak up on us from the crane but Intios and I quickly dispatched the two before they were able to get an advantageous position on us.

After taking out the second sniper on the roof Arion went off to take out some more men and from there I lost visual on him.

Running out of targets to fire at I decided to run down the roof and run to the building where the two snipers were at. After shattering a window and jumping through, a dock worker armed with a laspistol aimed at me and told me to stop and identify myself. I blew him off and told him I don’t have time for this and continued to make a move towards the building. Unfortunately for me I thought the heavy machine gun was focused elsewhere and would not be able to fire upon me. Through fire from the heavy machine gun and the sniper fire from before I fell clutching onto life. It appears that the emperor isn’t done with me just yet.Ongoing_Waterway_Battle_1.jpg

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Solomon to Sinophia via the Warp
Who said traveling through the Warp was easy?

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TO: Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla, Ordo Xenos
FROM: Acolyte Intios; Adeptus Administratum & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus
SUBJECT: Mission Update
PRIORITY: Moderate

My wounds from Three Stakes’ Rest did not heal as fast as the others. I was able to see the Inquisitorial Memorandum that was put together after receiving the clues that our cell found. At the bottom was a note from Inquisitor Karkalla stating that we will be meeting once we are all healed up.

Within seven days our cell was summoned to the offices of Hyplion Trading at the base of Endecott Spire in the upper hive. Inquisitor Karkalla was seated and to our surprise, so were Salucci and Kaunitzer. I give my debriefing to Karkalla and he tells us that he is in system for a couple of reasons. He is here to personally meet with Inquisitor Silas Marr to try to get his support for the Sciscitatio task force. Karkalla also states that he received an Astropathic message from our Inquisitor Globus Vaarak. Varaak’s message spoke of the planet of Sinophia and specifically a young bandana wearing male with grimy skin and a pack of Lho sticks with 13 doketh. Karkalla states that this vision of Vaarak’s is fairly strong and both Inquisitors believe that may be the next recruit into the Inquisition.

Karkalla then says, “Since Sciscitatio cannot be in multiple places at once, I am temporarily dividing this cell. Salucci and Kaunitzer having survived Three Stake’s Rest and being exposed to the Warp have now been seconded into the Inquisition, under my command. Odessa will be the prime of one group and have Salucci’s help in further investigating the cold trade here on Solomon. The rest of you will take Kaunitzer and head to Sinophia to look into Vaarak’s vision as well as this most recent communique I received from the Adeptus Arbites on the planet.” He hands us the data slate with a message from Arbitrator Constantine.

As we all sit in shock of the recent split of the team, we have no choice but to proceed. I hear Karpath shrug and say under his breath, “We got the whinny one?!” Arion is making some sort of claim about getting badges signaling that we are with the Inquisition. By this point, it is clear that Karkalla is not paying attention to any of our objections so I just say thank you and we will make do with the resources he has provided. Karkalla tells us that the void ship Fortune’s Path will be leaving in a matter of days to take us to Sinophia.

With a long trip ahead of us, we decide to meet the trader Aexel Essing one more time to stock up on any equipment we may have lost. Upon re-stocking our equipment, we were ready to board the Fortune’s Path. The ship was captained by Joyhall Bizzerat. We were asked to join the captain at his table for dinner the first night on board. He told us his Astropath, Ga Samarase, has estimated a 138 day trip in the Void. We still needed about a week to get to the proper jump point. The captain did mention that it was unusual for ships to travel to Sinophia. Not only is Sinophia suffering a slow decay, the Periphery subsector has seen a buildup of Imperial forces in the nearby system of Kulth. While information is scarce, there are possible rumors of Orks, Sessionists or something even more sinister.

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On the eighth day, the Fortune’s Path was ready for translation into the Warp. All of the crew members were on deck in anticipation of their translation ritual. With a loud hum that filled the corridors and a barely noticeable lurch, the crew members all standup and run back to their original stations. I realized this was the moment of translation into the Warp because I saw a vision of my old Administratum superior, Frangeeso. A strange and disturbing sight. I found out later that both Karpath and Kaunitzer had visions of their own. Visions that were very specific to each of them.

While attending dinner at the captain’s table, I thanked him again for taking us on our journey. I was able to pick up on conversations with the other passengers about the nature of the ship’s journey. Crew and passengers openly wondered why we were traveling to Sinophia. It offers no Warp Routes & takes us into the Imperium-forsaken Periphery. We’re chancing luck & just might end up between the forces of Lord General Ghanzorik and Warlord Ghenghiz Grimtoof. With Kulth being buried in war for decades, why would the Fortune’s Path be traveling so close to these hotspots?

While most of my downtime is spent on my study materials, the others have taken on different activities of their own. Arion has spent most of his time mapping out the ship, while Karpath has taken it upon himself to whip our new acolyte, Kaunitzer, into shape. Everyday sessions of PT for Kaunitzer has led him to avoid Karpath at all other times of the day. I tried my own hand at Karpath’s PT but an hour later, my still recovering wounds made me stop.

As I was taking part in PT with Karpath andKaunitzer, I started to notice what looked like a growth on Kaunitzer’s side. Not knowing what it was, I told Karpath to keep a look out while training. Karpath said that he didn’t notice anything odd. By the third day, the growth looked pronounced to me so I confronted Kaunitzer forced him to agree to a physical. It should be noted that the force came from Karpath, who was happy to oblige my request. When Medical Officer Leena Bodelson did not find anything wrong with Kaunitzer, I immediately told her to examine me as well. She found no ailments on either of us.

Nearly at wits end and ready to shoot Kaunitzer on site, I calledArion to explain the situation. Arion came into the med bay and simply said, “Disrobe now, and that’s not a request.” Kaunitzer wide eyed did not have any recourse and simply complied. Arion took the flat part of his knife and pressed against the protrusion I saw on Kaunitzer. When his knife disappeared when pressed against the outgrowth, Arion said that there was nothing there. Various thoughts ran through my mind. I stepped back and told the medical officer that the Warp travel must be affecting my mind. She said she understood and prescribed some sedatives. I give both Arion and Karpath a disheartened nod and said, “I will be in my room.” I then pointed in the direction of Kaunitzer and said, “I will be staying away from him.”

The next day or so were uneventful. Arion never seemed to be in his room and was always around and about the ship. Karpath keep insisting that Kaunitzer continue with his PT regimen. Then one morning I was abruptly awoken by an alarm in the corridor. Half awake, I reached for my micro-bead and asked Arion and Karpath, “Is it just me or do you guys hear an alarm?” Karpath quickly responded, “I hear it too.” I told him I would meet him outside once my gear was on. Karpath was waiting outside and Arion soon quickly joined us. Kaunitzer was nowhere in sight. I asked a crewman what the alarm was for and he stated that there was a fire in the kitchen.

When we arrived at the kitchen, we saw the remnants of some burned out equipment. Kaunitzer said he was prepping some food with Dessert Chef Sergio Lamartina. After leaving, the kitchen caught on fire and Lamartina perished in the flames. Kaunitzer was the first one on the scene. The crew told us the fire may have been worse if he didn’t arrive on the scene so quickly. I shook my head and said to the others, “A real fraking hero we have here.”

By day 24 of the ships calendar, the journey was going smoothly until all of a sudden, the entire ship turned sideways. Everyone on board was thrown around but there did not seem to be any major injuries. Captain Bizzerat told us that the ship had hit a Warp rift. There didn’t seem to be much concern on the captain’s face when he informed us of this occurrence. By day 29, the ship reset itself and everything was back to normal operations.

On day 32 at the captain’s dinner, Bizzerat informed us that we were coming out of the warp but close to the Zater III system. It will take about 2 ½ weeks intra system to get to Sinophia. On day 33, we were out of the Warp.

As the Fortune’s Path approached Sinophia, our cell packed up our equipment and thanked the captain for getting us here before schedule. We boarded a shuttle that took us towards Orbital Zega platform. We could see one other orbital platform teaming with Imperial Navy activity. Zega on the other hand was quite sparse and seemed like a half functional way station. As we headed towards the terminal that would take us planet side, it was odd to see that the disassembled shuttles don’t seem to have enough parts to make up a whole shuttle.

There was only one pilot, Epifano, who was flying down to Flavius Starport, near Sinophia Magnus. The shuttle flight down was anything but smooth but we did make it in one piece. At the landing pad, a scribe by the name of Charon greets us in the pouring rain and said that he did not expect any visitors today. We told him we could clarify things inside. My Fenksworld cover did not seem to hold up so I showed the Administratum clerk our Inquisitorial Sciscitatio letter. We told the clerk not to mention this to anyone and then asked for directions to Haarlock’s Folly in Sinophia Magnus. We were told that since the major bridge into town was down and impassable, the easiest way would be by waterway. The clerk gave us a map and directed us to a small pier, where we were able to make use of one of the skiffs.
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The water ride was to take no more than 30 minutes. Approximately 10 minutes into the trip, we began to pass a working manufactorum. This active factory was producing enough sound and billowing smoke to drown out activity for blocks. As we passed the factory, we began to near sounds of gun shots from both solid projectile and las fire. As we got further along the waterway, we could clearly see a large barge being blocked by a downed crane in the water. There were at least three small boats surrounding the front of the barge.

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We hear the sounds of a heavy solid projectile weapon. I see on one of the small boats, a mounted weapon. I ask Karpath, “Is that what I think it is?” His simple nod and response was, “Yes, possibly a modified heavy stubber.” We can see on the large barge, various people running about wearing blue vests. The others on the small boats are not uniformed and in various disheveled dress. Kaunitzer is asking if we can go around in a different direction. The shortest way to Sinophia Magna was being blocked by the barge. As we get closer, I see the heavy mounted weapon start to point in our direction. Kaunitzer yells out, “We can’t go that way, that weapon has range on us.” At this moment, my longlas was already in hand and I say, “They don’t have range on me.” As soon as I saw the heavy weapon stop rotating and pointed directly at us, I called out, “I’m taking the shot!”

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With the pull of the trigger, the gunman’s right arm disappears. Karpath starts to speed up the skiff towards to barge. We start to take fire from the small boats. Karpath then makes evasive maneuvers and almost loses control but was able to rein things back in. A second gunman takes up the position of the heavy gun pointed at us. Another pull of the trigger and his left arm disappears. By this time, our skiff begins to travel underneath a gantry crane approximately 40 meters high. I see Arion look up and knew exactly what was coming next. He shoots his grapnel and line at the gantry. Once it connects, he swings up and out towards the bank of the canal all the while barking something to the effect, “I’m getting off of this death trap.” Arion swings to the left bank and starts sprinting towards the nearest building.

Karpath realizes that the skiff is not made to take more hits. He quickly steers left toward the bank. As soon as the skiff touches solid land, Karpath and I are on our feet and running off. Unfortunately, Kaunitzer takes a hit that momentarily disables his arm. Knowing that he cannot easily disembark, Kaunitzer stays on the skiff and continues to shoot suppressive fire towards the barge and heavy weapon boat.

Karpath and I start running towards the same building Arion entered. With gunfire all around us and from the rooftops, we are both hit but Karpath is able to remain on his feet. I am hit in the leg with what I believe to be a hunting rifle bullet. Unable to stay upright, I fall forward and become momentarily dazed. The next moment I’m on Karpath’s shoulder as he’s running towards the building. I tap him and quickly say that I’m ok. He drops me on my feet in front of the building and then he dives into the doorway.

Now it’s time to get to the roof in order to get a higher vantage point and return fire.

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Solomon - Hive Gloriana
Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.

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TO: Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla, Ordo Xenos
FROM: Acolyte Tilusch Kaunitzer, Ordo Xenos; Hive Goriana, Solomon System
SUBJECT: Mission Update
PRIORITY: Moderate
MESSAGE FORMAT: Pict Recording submitted by Acolyte Kaunitzer

When we last left the Sciscitatio Task Force, the acolytes came upon Tilusch Kaunitzer and his colleague Iacopo Salucci in the old manufactorum in Three Stakes’ Rest, where the Kaunitzer and Salucci had been imprisoned weeks before. Kaunitzer and Salucci were a little more worse for wear psychologically if not physically, but after being rescued from their captivity and armed with weapons looted from the dead, the two security guards aided the escape back to the Arbites stronghold. It can hardly be said that the two acquitted themselves well, apart from being able to help carry the wounded and some accidental gunplay on Kaunitzer’s part, but sometimes quantity can make up for quality. Kaunitzer and Salucci were later drafted into service by Inquisitor Karkalla. While the two men simply knew too much and silencing them would be the most expedient course of action, it was deemed more use could be made of them to further the cell’s cause; Emperor knows there are always uses for meat shields.

Following the leads that have been uncovered, the cell has now been split into two groups – Odessa and Salucci leading further efforts in Hive Gloriana, and Arion, Intios, Karpath, and Kaunitzer making their way off world. En route to Sinophia, Kaunitzer has been tasked with giving a status report to Inquisitor Karkalla. The following is an excerpt from the transcription of the pict recording of Tilusch Kaunitzer’s report to the Inquisitor Karkalla, Ordo Xenos.

-PICT RECORDING TRANSMITTING——-

Kaunitzer appears nervous, and smooths his robes before sitting at a barren desk. Spartanly furnished but almost hospital clean, the room behind him sports plasteel walls with metal studs and not much else. A pict recorder sits on the metal table before him, its machine spirit gently humming with life. Kaunitzer takes a seat and starts to speak.

Uhh, is this thing on?

Kaunitzer’s face gets closer to the camera as he inspects it. There is a brief tapping sound recorded by pict recorder’s auditory sensor, and then a clearing of Kaunitzer’s throat before he returns to his former position. Kaunitzer pulls a slightly crumpled sheet of paper from his pocket, and smooths it out on the desk before starting to read it out loud.

Hi uh, your excellentness? As instructed I will be recording my report of recent events – I understand that you’re supposed to get one of these from each of us. I don’t write so good so I hope a pict recording works for this purpose. Intios tells me there’s an official format to these things, so if you’ll just let me read from this paper one second…

You hear the rustling of paper as Kaunitzer pulls a worn note from his pocket. It is partially crumpled and partially folded.

To Inquisitor Nozeth Karku La…

Kaunitzer winces as he butchers the name Nazauth Karkalla.

…from Acolyte Tilusch Kaunitzer, greetings.

Kaunitzer pauses briefly as his chest puffs up dramatically at the word acolyte, which causes his paunch to jiggle slightly. This doesn’t last long, and he allows his shoulders to slouch back down.

Subject: Mission update, Priority low, format pict recording.

Kaunitzer none too carefully crumples the paper and looks down as he returns it to his pocket. Returning his gaze to the pict recorder, he continues.

After escaping from the building, Karpath was able to navigate the hive terrain and drive us away from the fighting gangers we encountered on the way out. I mean, i’ve seen some squabbles over territory before, but that one was a doozy. This didn’t seem like no turf war!

Kaunitzer’s eyes continue to grow larger and larger, a bit of frantic agitation creeping into his eyes.

Men were dying all around. Larger guys fighting little guys and gunshots and swords and [section redacted by order of the Inquisition. See Inquisitor Karkalla for clearance.…and…and…

Kaunitzer takes a long pause to visibly collect himself. He is shaking and a sheen of perspiration has formed across his brow, which he doesn’t seem to notice, but it is clear even in the grainy image of the pict. Kaunitzer tries to continue as if nothing happened – the madness hasn’t actually left his eyes, but he seems slightly more focused.

Uh, a couple of wrong turns and false starts later, we were able to make it safely to what I later understood was the Arbites headquarters. Karpath hastily parked our vehicle into what I would guess is the staging area for Arbites before they go out on patrol. It seemed like Karpath didn’t show credentials because we made it through security very quickly, but I may be misremembering because…well your greatness, I was scared. I guess they knew to expect us, because the Arbites were ready to help carry the two unconscious folks, who I later learn are named Intios and Arion, and we got them loaded into an ambulance with “Munitorium Labo Hospital for the Greater Emperor’s Glory” stenciled on the side.

Despite being gravely injured Karpath waved off assistance and walked into the ambulance by himself. I was amazed. The Arbites even throw everyone’s gear in with them, untouched, which I guess makes sense ‘cause who wants to rifle through the stuff of an inquisitorial acolyte right? That weird box – the one Odessa carried out – goes with them too. Damn thing still gives me the willies and i’m nowhere near it right now. Right? I’m nowhere near it right now?

Kaunitzer:’s eyes grow slightly more wild and frantic, but then refocus more quickly than before.

So anyway, the three injured go off in the ambulance, I don’t know where the creepy woman has gone, and Salucci is sitting on the curb dazed…

Kaunitzer comically wags his finger at the pict recorder and makes a stern face, changing the pitch of his voice for the next sentence.

…At that point i’m thinking to myself, ‘Tilusch, you just get home to your wife this instant, she’s probably worried sick!’

Your exquisiteness, pardon me for saying so but the thoughts of my wife were what kept me sane all those days in captivity. No one seemed interested in me anyway – not the Arbites , not the acolytes, and not even Salucci, and never in my wildest nightm…

Kaunitzer coughs to cover what he was about to say.

…err, dreams did I expect to come to your attention, so I exited the complex and made the 3 hour trudge downhive to try to get home. To be honest I felt guilty about it what with them saving me and all, but they all seemed busy doing their own things. I’m a nobody – i’m just a line cook and a part time security guard and Emperor knows i’m not a even good at either of those things.

His eyes suddenly harden, and gone is the non-assertive, self-effacing Kaunitzer of before. It’s almost as if the slight insanity coalesced into something…else…leaving you to wonder what may have just been born before your eyes.

I found my wife with another man when I finally got home. Sufficed to say I was…displeased.

A slight glitch in the manner in which Kaunitzer was sitting alerts you to the fact that a section of the pict recording seems to be missing, almost as if it was rewound and taped over. Kaunitzer’s face is flushed, much like one’s face would get if one had been screaming or ranting for a while. He leans back, crosses his arms, and sneers – an ugly look that seems out of place on his otherwise placid features.

So. No wife, no chef job, and when I go to check in on my guard job, the Arbites grab me, take my gear, and take me back to the precinct where I get put in a holding cell. The guys that detain me don’t tell me why i’m held, only that it’s an “inquisitorial matter” and that I could get restrained or killed if I attempt to leave.

At the same time my life is turning to shambles around me, it’s my understanding that Karpath and Arion were bedridden and on their way to full recovery in the hospital, though Intios barely scraped by due to some malpractice by the attending chirurgeon. By the way, Inquisitor, whatever he may tell you, Intios is still weak from being on his deathbed – since the doctor’s malpractice almost killed him, we’ll have to watch him to make sure he doesn’t overexert himself.

Throughout the soliloquy, Kaunitzer’s demeanor slowly returns to what you think of as “normal”, and a he cracks an affable smile…something that is completely at odds with the Kaunitzer of a few minutes before.

I do have to commend your acolytes, Inquisitor. Emperor alone knows how I would react in a similar situation – but after 5 full days of getting patched back together, your team did not rest and they jumped immediately back into the investigation. The next part of this report I do not know first hand, but this is my brief impression of what happened after having spoken to the rest of the crew:

Intios, Arion, and Karpath reunite after being hospitalized, and seek out scribe Anita Arsette who they believe will have information about a Zach something-or-other. Ms. Arsette gives them information about the platform and public pathway at which he was seen, and further questioning leads them to try to track down visual pict footage from the security cameras of the area. This unfortunately is a dead end, so they go to seek out more information about Salucci and I, regarding the Trade Sable Hangars – which, by the way, was hangar 246 – where the two of us were abducted.

When I heard this, I was originally flattered – I thought that they were pursuing revenge for your newest acolytes…

Kaunitzer’s face falls.

…but it turns out they were following up not so much out of concern for us, but rather for what I’m guessing is the contraband that might be in the hangars. Frankly Karpath, Intios, and Arion probably could have just asked Salucci and I for this information, but they went to the management company and spoke with Ortiz Holstein. Mr. Holstein let them know that Salucci and I were guarding 246, which is a short and long term storage facility for off planet items.

The acolytes learned that three traders were using the hangars at the time in question: Oneida Kerst, Zax Holthan, and Jeina Melchert. The manifest turns out to be a dead end, and the pict feed just shows Salucci and I doing our rounds until we strangely disappear – my understanding is the tech priest Antee Lewkooz…

Kaunitzer shrugs as he does a terrible job with the name Antilochus.

…that was looking into it called it a “hiccup” in the feed. Long story short, turns out there’s this guy named Khouron Bellar who has a cousin he gave access to the pict feed, and this cousin cut out the portion where Salucci and I were taken captive.

Kaunitzer tilts his head to one side, scratches it, and scrunches up his face in confusion.
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Now here’s the thing…all the acolytes, even myself and Salucci, eventually end up in the same place, at the Arbites precinct – significantly higher uphive that i’ve ever been to before. I’m given these fancy new robes…

Kaunitzer makes expressive gestures to his clothing with his hands, and smooths an imaginary wrinkle.

…and you meet us there, telling the crew that Salucci and I are joining. Why? What makes me…us…stand out? Why did you send Salucci and the scary woman on one mission, and the rest of us to board the Fortune’s Path with captain Bizzerat? We are on the ship now, bound for the fringe world Sinophia in the Calixis Sector. I have been trying to make friends in the spare time that I have between Karpath‘s physical training regimen, but that doesn’t seem to be the lot of an Acolyte. I am afraid I am making a poor impression on the void born.

It is my fervent hope that I can meet your expectations. I honestly don’t feel I have anything to offer, but, by the Emperor’s toenails I am your man.

Kaunitzer looks suddenly humbled, except for a maniacal glint in his eye.

(in a small voice) When can I see my wife?
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Karpath's Flashback

As Karpath is lying down on a bed in the Munitorum Dominatus Labo Hospital for the Greater Emperor’s Glory he begins to have flashbacks to his time on Graia. In particular to when he lost his arm.

The sky was a dark color of red and black. With Orks ships streaming through the atmosphere by the thousands. So many of them it looked like ants in a frenzy. The Orks had taken control of the planetary defense cannon disabling any support for the 89th. But none of this broke the resolve of Karpath and his squad mates. They knew that the Emperor was with them.

He was on the front line against the ork invasion. He had been sitting in the same place for the last four days not leaving his foxhole or coming out from behind his heavy stubber. To his right was the squad psyker Canto Zarkov. To his left was his childhood friend and loader Tyruss Partheos. In the foxhole was also the squads medic Erioch Zarath and the riflewoman Acadi Rhia. Everyone else in the squad was dead. His mission here is to hold the line at all costs and to prevent the Orks from getting access to the Titan factories behind him. Karpath knew that the Orks would be attacking soon. He made sure that his heavy stubber was loading and ready to fire. From out beyond he heared the loud shouting of Orks as they charge. WAAAAAAAAGH! Karpath pulled back the cocking handle on his Heavy Stubber as the charging Orks come into sight. He began dispensing the Emperor’s Justice to the foul xenos by the form of large stubber rounds. For what feels like an eternity Karpath is laying on the trigger killing Orks by the hundreds as they charge into the killzone. But the Orks begin making headway, there is just too many of them. As the Orks get closer he pulls the trigger firing at a larger than normal Ork. The two seem to lock eyes after the burst from Karpath, and that is when Karpath hears that terrible noise. Click Click. Out of ammo. He looks over to the loader who gives him the sign that there is no more ammo left. The Nob sees his chance and charges the foxhole aiming for the pskyer who is fighting as if he was the Emperor himself incinerating Orks everywhere. Karpath grabbed a lasgun nearby and begins firing away at the Nob but is unable to drop him before he gets to the foxhole. As the Nob dove for the psyker about to tear him in half, Karpath jumped in the path of the diving Nob taking the swing to his left arm heavily damaging him. But in a remarkable show of strength and toughness Karpath begins fighting with the Nob seemingly ignoring all the hits the Nob gave out. Karpath gets the upper hand on the Nob and finishes him off with a few well placed shots from his trusty laspistol.

The medic came over to look at Karpath who is on the ground slumped over the Nob. The medic determines that he has to take off the arm if Karpath is to survive. The medic quickly removes the arm with skill and precision but causing a great deal of pain to Karpath. Karpath screams out as his arm is taken off and then cauterized by the Psyker instantly waking him from his near sleep state.Karpath proceeds to continue fighting with only one arm firing his laspistol at whatever moved fighting with the fury of the Emperor. The squad astonished that their squad leader is continuing the fight after losing his arm begins fighting on with renewed vigor.

Karpath looked behind him and saw three hulking figures wearing blue armor. With a cheer he shouts out that the Emperor has saved them. The Space Marines have arrived in the form of three UltraMarines fighting with the strength of ten men. The sight of the space marines begins stemming the tide of Orks. But just as the tables had been turned an Ork fired as rocket into Karpath’s foxhole knocking out the already wounded Karpath and killing the rest of his squad.

The next thing Karpath remembers is waking up two weeks later on a ship. He remembers the look of shock on the medical staff when he wakes up way sooner than was thought possible with someone as injured as Karpath. After a while he regains the strength to walk around and learns the fate of his squad and his unit. Karpath unable to cope with that his brothers and sisters were dead cries and slips into a deep depression. Karpath is regarded as a hero to those on the ship, but they are unable to chear up the depressed Karpath. During the trip Karpath is promoted to Lieutenant and is told that they are going back to Sepheris Secundus. It takes a very long time for Karpath to finally accept the fate of his unit. He eventually accepts it and knows to himself that he owes his life to the Emperor for it seems that the Emperor has bigger and greater things destined for the young Karpath.

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Tilusch Kaunitzer: A 40k Love Story, or How Kaunitzer Ended Up With Salucci in a Cage
There's no happy ending among the stars, only the laughter of thirsting gods.

Tilusch Kaunitzer was in love. It wasn’t a story slate romance love, where two sweetheart lovers are torn apart by fate and circumstance only to come back with fierce kisses sealing an enduring love for the ages. Neither was it an action adventure vid love, with an intrepid guardsman hero saving the damsel in distress from a hideous xenos creature, all the while making witty comments and keeping perfectly coiffed hair. You couldn’t even call it a steady, comfortable love, made of everyday moments stolen in between catching snippets of rest while working two downhive jobs and hustling the local card players, just to make the payments on the “efficiency” hab capsule.

In sad truth it was an incredibly unequal and one-sided love, where Kaunitzer supplied all the sweat equity, adoration, and pampering while his money-hungry shrew of a wife took complete advantage. It was a painful love – torturous and cruel, its days filled with a thousand shallow, sharp injuries to his heart like the tenderest caresses of a slaaneshi daemoness to its new favorite plaything. It was a love where pride was swallowed and hectoring was stoically borne in the hope that love might someday be returned, with the desperate tinge of bitterness at the back of the throat that came with knowing deep down it likely never would be. And it was this love that landed Tilusch Kaunitzer nearly naked, shivering in fear, in a cage with another prisoner. Completely unfair, to be sure…but nothing in this grimdark universe ever is.

The day started out like any other, with Tilusch rising to get ready for the day at 0400 from the sofa, where he had been banished to by his wife the night before for some unknown infraction. A quick shower, a bite to eat, and a generous helping of recaf saw him to his morning shift job as a line cook. After completing this 8 hour shift preparing vat cakes and grox bacon (with only two robbery attempts, a rarity in the poorest part of the hab), a 45 minute trudge further uphive then got him to his second job at the Port Gyre hangars, a part time security guard gig that he worked on Tuesday and Sunday evenings to help finance the costume jewelry his wife put on layaway.

Though the pathways he took from job to job were dimly lit and littered with refuse, the hangars were clean and well lit by comparison. Harsh white lights illuminated the perimeter fencing around the hangars, revealing razorwire strung both along the top of the fence and in the open ground between the hangars and the rest of the hive. Groundskeepers clearly kept the terrain clean, and this allowed chevroned floor lights to conspicuously mark the entrance and the subsequent pathway to the main administration building where the guards made their headquarters. It was to here that Kaunitzer made his way.

Changing into his uniform in the guard locker room, he greeted his fellow guards with a polite nod, asked after their families, and listened with a polite but disinterested air as they went through the motions of lying about how great things were. Behind him, Kaunitzer heard his partner Salucci cracking jokes in his familiar accent. Kaunitzer made eye contact, and with an upwards head nod to Salucci, Kaunitzer placed his right hand over his heart and extended three fingers while making a circle with his thumb and pointer finger in the universal sign of the half aquila. Together, Kaunitzer andSalucci headed over to read the night’s assignment roster slate. “Looks like central dispatch has us on that strange private hangar again,” Kaunitzer said, raising an eyebrow at Salucci. “I wonder what’s in there?”

With a shrug, the two linked up and headed out to execute the security circuit of their assigned hangar. Twenty three boring circuits on their predefined route saw early evening come and go, and though the night reached the witching hour the overhead lighting’s machine spirit still lit the hangars. It felt comfortable and safe, and with that came mind-numbing boredom, so Kaunitzer began to babble about his wife. “I met my baby on MinistrorumMingle.com, you know,” Kaunitzer told Salucci. “She’s the light of my life, and i’m working this job to get her something special. I mean, I know we have our issues some times, but she’ll come around and let me sleep in the bed again if I can get her this jewelry, you’ll see!” The rolling of Salucci’s eyes in complete disbelief of that statement was the last thing Kaunitzer remembered before waking up caged.

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Back to the Mid-hive
I wonder if they put me in a body bag?

From: Intios; Adeptus Administratum & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus

The last thing I remember about Three Stakes’ Rest is running down the catwalk toward the stairs down. As I ran down the stairs, I passed the shotgun wielder I was trading fire with. I pass him by a couple meters and took a point blank shot at him. To my surprise, my shot did not kill him outright. He was able to wheel around and shoot me with a shotgun blast. I don’t remember if it was my own screams ringing in my head but I did feel the sensation of falling down the stairs and hitting the floor below. All went black after that.

Odessa and Karpath were able to make it out of Three Stakes’ Rest and bring Arion and I back to the mid-hive. Apparently we able to obtain help from a couple of prisoners who were held in the manufactorum. I woke up in some sort of infirmary. It must be related to the Arbites stronghold as I see a fair amount of Arbitrators around. Karpath walks in and says, “Glad you’re awake. Here’s a dataslate containing a debriefing transcript of one of the prisoners we picked up in Three Stakes’ Rest. His name is Iacopo Salucci. It’ll make for interesting reading while you’re recovering.” I asked, “Did Odessa kill this person while getting this info?” Karpath just gives a wry grin and says, “That psyker will be the death of us. Get your rest but we need everyone on their feet soon.”

[In the words of Iacopo Salucci]

…I have known Tilusch Kaunitzer for a little while now. We were hired by the Trade Sable to be night guards at the Port Gyre facility. We were captured and put together in a cage within what we discovered was the manufactorum in Three Stakes’ Rest. I don’t know why we were thrown into the cage here. Maybe we got too close to the Trade Sable’s private hangar we were guarding?

After the first night in the cage, Kaunitzer would not stop talking about his wife. I told him that if we got out of here alive, I would strangle her myself. We were given meager rations and water during our detention. The armed guards in the manufactorum never spoke to us but kept on referring to someone as the boss. It must have been two weeks or so after arriving that Kaunitzer and I were awakened by gunfire nearby. These armed guards would often fire their guns in a further part of the manufactorum, but this new gunfire was very close by. Now we can clearly hear the guards running around and a fire fight of some sort around us.

After the gunfire settled down, I see a woman with an abnormally large head looking into our cage. She later introduces herself as Odessa. She quickly disappears and at that point, I see something I have never seen in my life. A portion of the manufactorum begins to rain blood. When the blood rain ceases, a blue twisting cloud appears before us. Kaunitzer and I have nowhere to run so we just put our heads down and hope everything goes away. All of a sudden, the door to our cage is thrown open and we are being pulled out by a tall man dressed in Imperial guard armor. He identifies himself as Karpath but insists that we call him Lieutenant. Odessa steps up and tells us that we are free but we must first serve the Emperor by assisting them with carrying two of their companions out. While I’m still stunned by what we saw earlier, Kaunitzer seemed to be in total agreement to help but still kept talking about wanting to see his wife.

Kaunitzer and I are quickly given some clothes, similar to the ones that the guards are wearing. We are also each given an autogun and stub automatic pistol. While I am helping with the two bodies we notice that the blue cloud starts to move slowly about. An instant later, to my unbelieving eyes, the blue cloud floats over a dead guard but the guard is dead no longer. What I can only describe as an undead being of grotesque appearance starts to run towards Kaunitzer. I hear a volley of automatic fire and Kaunitzer’s scream. The next second, he’s running away. I also take a shot at this undead creature but it is Odessa and the Lt. that put it down. We are then given instructions to get out of this area quickly.

With the bodies in tow, we follow the others through a series of hallways and even had to swing across chasms. In one of the narrow hallways, Kaunitzer whispers that he may have heard something down the passage ahead of us. Then he muttered something about being afraid of the dark. I told him maybe he shouldn’t have left the autogun behind. As we got further down the passage, there were definitely sounds of some sort of struggle. As I’m pulling the bodies along, I see the Lt. take the forward position. It’s obvious to me that we need to get through this crowd of people in front of us. I hear a grenade go off but just as I am getting the ringing out of my ears, Odessa steps forward and seems to concentrate on something down the hall. An odd and almost grotesque bulging of the veins on her neck was the last thing I saw before a ball of lightning formed around her and blasted me off my feet.

I’m not sure how we got out of the manufactorum but next thing I recall is being in the back of the vehicle that the Lt. was driving back towards the mid-hive. Upon arrival to a local precinct, I thought we were going to be let go but the others insisted on more questioning. Maybe they want to know what we saw and why we were thrown into the cage in the first place. I just want to get out of here and see my family.

[End dataslate transcript.]

It looks like I am going to have to get the rest of the transcript from Karpath. I did read some of Odessa’s notes stating that she found some dataslates in Zax Holthane’s office. There was even a note regarding the Rogue Trader auction but still no clue regarding time and place. As soon as I get on my feet again, I want to take a closer look at the data collected.

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Evacuation of Three Stakes' Rest
A good exit is one where there's functional members to evacuate the infirm

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TO: Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla, Ordo Xenos
FROM: Acolyte Karpath Rommulus, Ordo Xenos; Hive Goriana, Solomon System
SUBJECT: Mission Update
PRIORITY: Moderate
MESSAGE FORMAT: Submitted to Inquisitorial Locus in Hive Gloriana, Solomon

After vanquishing the foul servitor Odessa and I proceeded to search the offices for the information we needed. I failed to find anything relevant but Odessa discovered some documents and a few data slates that we shall inspect at a later date to determine the contents. She also found a strange weapon magazine that I expertly determined was a shotgun magazine. Odessa also searched under the rugs, in the plants, and between the couches finding a few mags for an autopistol and a key to an unspecified door.

We continued to look around until we found a corridor with a large hole in it we determined that it would be best to go back and check on the other acolytes. Coming back to the main room we learned that the warp whirlpool thing was growing bigger. We decided that letting the two poor schmucks out of the cell would be advantageous to use seeing how Intios and Arion were down for the immediate future. After a short conversation we discovered that they were Port Gyre hanger guards and had been there for a few weeks. One was named Iacopo Salucci and the other was named Tilusch Kaunitzer.
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Just as we were unlocking the two in the cell and arming them, the void whirlpool moved over a body and created this foul zombie warp monster. The zombie chased Kaunitzer after he put a full auto burst into the monster and Kaunitzer decided it would be prudent to run away. As Kaunitzer ran away Odessa and I fired on the monster until we downed the creature. Odessa identified the whirlpool as a direct portal to the warp. We decided that it would be best to evacuate the unconscious acolytes before the warp whirlpool got worse. On our way out Odessa discovered a strange box that showed obvious signs of the warp taint. We decided that it would be a good idea to take it with us.

Going the only way we thought we could get out we went to where the large gap in the floor was. As we looked down the corridor at the very edge of our vision we spotted a large hammer from those large hammer gangers. Deciding that I would be the best for crossing the gap alone due to my past training I hooked up to the grapnel and line and made the jump across. After landing on the other side I unhooked and sent the harness back over. I proceeded to check around the corner finding only the hammer and not the ganger that usually carried it. Taking turns swinging across the gap we got the entire cell across the gap but unfortunately we had to leave the magnetic grip of the grapnel and line behind. We carried Intios and Arion down the hall and sent Odessa forward to scout ahead to make sure we didn’t run into any unexpected surprises while we carried the other acolytes to safety.
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Odessa reported that she heard sounds of a melee going on ahead in the path. Odessa and I scouted forward and saw that the large hammer guys were fighting with these very shady characters. Taking advantage of the fight between the two groups we took the unconscious acolytes down the hallway until we encountered a group of five people two of them hammer guys, the other three were the other gangers. They were in our way and we don’t tolerate people that get in our way. I threw a grenade down the hallway into the middle of them killing a few of them and kicking off combat. I tried to stop one of the gangers from running away and maybe see if they weren’t hostile but they failed to heed my commands and ran anyways. During the combat Odessa exploded out in a huge wave of electricity disabling my weaponry and arm. Soon enough I regained the use of my arm and weaponry and we made our way out of the manufactorum.

I remembered my way back up to the Arbites stronghold and after some careful navigation we managed to escape the manufactorum with everybody intact and some of the information that we needed.

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