TO: Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla, Ordo Xenos
FROM: Acolyte Tilusch Kaunitzer, Ordo Xenos; Hive Goriana, Solomon System
SUBJECT: Mission Update
MESSAGE FORMAT: Pict Recording submitted by Acolyte Kaunitzer
When we last left the Sciscitatio Task Force, they 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 expedient, 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 on pict recorder, and then a clearing of his 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. 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…
…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.
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?