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So, this is an actual play transcript of our text chat Dark Heresy game. I've found out that as much work it is to clean up the raw text (and shorten it occasionally), it is still more interesting and takes less time than writing an actually informative summary from scratch, so you will get the detailed version whether you'd prefer a more succint one or not. DM comments are in italics. Session started with a short intro about the characters’ trip to the orbital docks above the Hive World of Piety, where they were to meet soon. Not much time is spent on how they were recruited – we can always revisit the matter in flashbacks, if it ever becomes relevant. After a few days of ****ing around on the orbital, waiting for everybody’s ship to arrive, their recruiter and contact, Rose announces that now would be a good time to meet up and discuss their mission, because that’s what the = ][ = is paying them for. The meeting will be in two hours, and they can spend their time however they want. OOC, everybody starts asking questions about Piety. A successful Common Lore: Imperium test informs the battle psyker and the arbitrator about the hive’s relatively recently gained reputation as a wretched hive of scum and villainy. A follow-up Common Lore: Adeptus Arbites test also nets the info that the planet used to be a model example of arbitratorial accomplishments, until a few years ago someone pulled the plug on their funding. Meanwhile, the scholar psyker botches her roll, and is convinced that Piety is a feral world famous for its extensive libraries. With the exception of the arbitrator, who decides to watch news and get a map of Piety, nobody really knows what to do with their time, so our heroes gather about half an hour before the appointed time. Let’s meet them! Kationa (scholar psyker) spends the couple of hours of free time just meditating. She felt nervous beyond belief but didn't want to show it, so she mentally steels herself for what is to come. A little before the meeting time, she heads to the designated room and waits patiently. She's a tall but painfully thin woman in a frayed robe that is a little too big for her and slides down her shoulder. Her skin is pale and shows signs of torture - scars and marks can be seen all over. Her hair is thin and pale, but most notable are her eyes, which seem to be cybernetics. They are completely white and featureless, giving her a creepy other-worldly type appearance. Despite all this, she holds herself proudly, standing up straight, and she looks at the others as they arrive with interest. Lazarus (assassin) creeps up silently well before time, aiming to leave an impression of quiet eagerness. He is tall, skinny and has an extremely crooked nose. Otherwise, he seems pleasant enough, and carries himself with some sort of aristocratic determination. He is snugly enveloped in a body glove, with a nasty looking rifle on his back and a very curious weaponised gauntlet on his right arm. He just stands by the door, looking at the other arrivals. Third to arrive is Kelegh (battle psyker), a tall and thin young man, with built-in lenses in his eyes. He's wearing a simple but clean robe, which is adorned with prayers for the Emperor, and looks at anyone present with curiosity, but not aggressively. He’s armed with a sword on his side and a las pistol on the other, his face has a bit darker stains than his natural skin color. "Good day to you. I'm Kelegh" – he introduces himself. "You are not the contact. Who are you?" – Lazarus. "My name is Kationa," says the woman, a little shyly, but she gives a faint smile. "I guess we are going to be working together?" "I am Lazarus. Of the most noble house Golgotha." He eyes the woman up and down, but says nothing. "I am a servant of the Emperor, just as you are, I presume?" – Kelegh "We all are. Or should be, at least." – Lazarus Kationa doesn't offer any further name, but she meets Lazarus's gaze. Despite her ragged appearance, her manner and bearing are of the nobility. This is the moment when our Arbitrator, Mordecai, joins the group, fashionably late. His browsing of the local news channels, unfortunately, yielded no useful informations (or did it?) – the steel production rates have surpassed the guidelines set in the last five year plan, the war on Tranch rages on (The Emperor wants YOU!), the committee designated to evaluate sainthood has received 50 new petitions this quarter. He arrives a few minutes before the meeting, drawing a small gulp from his amasec for confidence before entering. He is a tall, well-built man, with dark skin and semi-long black hair fashioned into dreadlocks. He wears his black Arbites uniform and has a well-maintained shotgun slung on his back. His left cheek has a blue Imperial Aquila tattooed on it. He tries to appear confident and politely nods to everyone present. "Greetings.", he says before sitting down awkwardly, eyeing Kationa. Despite his relative lateness, they still have about 10 minutes to socialize. Lazarus gives an appreciative nod to Mordecai. "Hello," says Kationa to the newcomer. "So, have any of you done this kind of... uhh... work before?" she asks, trying to break the ice. "I have just finished my training, lady, and I have been looking forward to meeting you all." – Kelegh "I ...suppose. *looks around again* We seem to have a colorful gathering present. Not sure what is in store for us. Though judging by the weapons, I can take a guess." – Mordecai "I've done work for the Emperor." – Lazarus Mordecai clears his throat. "Be that as it may, my name is Mordecai Vern, pleasure to meet everyone." *His voice is deep and slightly growly, but he is clearly audible* "I've been in... training for a while," Kationa says awkwardly. "This is a great honour." That's what she keeps telling herself anyway. "So, what do you think of this planet?" Kelegh asks, looking around at everyone, smiling. "We haven't even left the dock yet, what's there to think?" – Lazarus "A sad departure from its earlier glory, I've heard bad things about it." sneers Mordecai. "Feels heavy," says Kationa, who has spent pretty much the entirity of her life in space. After a minute or two without anyone talking, Kelegh starts chanting almost silently, looking in the distance. "Should we go in?" – Lazarus Mordecai look at Kelegh then at Lazarus. "...Yes, we should do that." The battle psyker focuses his eyes on the others, straightens up and eagerly starts walking in the room. The others follow.. It's a fairly huge and imposing area, probably aimed at important nobles doing important things. Business meetings. Discussing imperial taxation. Blowing rare drugs off the backs of hookers. That kind of stuff. There's an abundance of mahogany (or a fairly convincing fake, at least) and crimson tapestries. Mirrors create an impression of even bigger space. Sharp lights bathe the room in a golden blaze. Looks like a colossal waste of the Imperium's resources. A huge table sits in the middle of the room, with four chairs and pre-arranged data-slates on one side, and Rose on the other one. She looks exactly like she did when she recruited the characters: seemingly in her fifties, short grey hair, piercing blue eyes, serious expression, vaguely uniform-like clothing. Mordecai salutes. "Madam." Lazarus does likewise. Kationa walks in slowly and looks around with interest. She then stands uncertainly and watches Rose for further instruction. Kelegh bows politely, but says nothing. “Welcome, Acolytes”, Rose greets the group, then motions toward the chairs. They all sit down, Lazarus glancing at his slate curiously. “Your first task: I have given you two hours before this meeting. Report what you did with it.” - Rose "I meditated and prepared my mind, Ma'am," Kationa answers nervously. "I did as ordered - proceeded to the meeting place." – Lazarus. "Checked the surroundings of this place, madam, and my would-be companions." – Kelegh "I have read up on local news, acquired a map of the hive *Mordecai shows it* and inquired about the status of Piety." “I see” – Rose, fixing the group dispassionately, with an inscrutable expression. “Your next assignment will be about as significant as the one I just gave you.” “We've received news of... unrest among workers of the lower levels. It seems that certain... peculiar... mutants plague the streets at night and around dawn. The locals are convinced that they must be unholy devil-spawn and a sign of certain doom” - she rolls her eyes, but her tone remains cool and professional. “These creatures are reportedly harmless, but the effect they have on worker morale is significant. It is usually the job of the Arbitrators to deal with problems caused by mutants, but understandably, they refuse to do anything - their resources and manpower are better spent elsewhere. Your job is simple enough: deal with the problem. The hows are up to you, but I expect you to keep the Scintillan Dictates in mind when you represent our authority. Any questions?” Apparently, nobody in the group knows what the Scintillan Dictates are. Heresy! Thankfully, they are on the first page of the data-slate. "What is peculiar about the mutants?" - Kationa "How long has this been going on? Is there a pattern in the locations these mutants appear?" – Kelegh “The data-slates provided have the information for these questions. Seek the file named "Incident report #782.” – Rose Everybody checks the report, which seems inconclusive, at best. It was penned by a certain Thraxus Brent, Regulator of the Gamma-321 Precinct, who seems to be utterly uninterested in his job by the looks of it. It informs the reader that the sightings have been going on since two weeks in Districts 318-329, says that the mutants always died before he could get there, and that the specimens he observed "looked incapable of living". The area in question is quite big, seems to almost completely envelop the southern part of the lower levels. "Mutants deserve to die anyway." – mutters Lazarus. It also refers to Appendix C for pictures, but that doesn't seem to be a part of the report. "We need to talk to this ... Brent guy about work ethics." - Kelegh "We most certainly do. And questioning the local workers would be prudent as well. Checking archives for possible earlier appearances is also a possibility." Mordecai looks up at Rose. *Is this the only report we have of the mutants? What about this Appendix C the report mentions?" Rose motions him to hand over the data-slate, then skims the report. “Looks like it was either misfiled, not included by our informant, or this... Regulator Brent made it up completely.” Mordecai just stares at her, deadpan. "....Excuse me?" Kelegh looks shocked, too. “Regulator Brent doesn't seem like the most stalwart servant of the Imperium. It seems in the realm of possibility that he refers to these pictures which he did not include at all, and if pressed on the matter, will say that they must have been misfiled. As I have stated earlier, this case is not exactly high on the priority list of the Adeptus Arbites.” - Rose "He never reckoned the report would come under such scrutiny. The fool." – Lazarus "Is there any reason to believe that this Regulator intentionally aids the mutants by his sloppiness?" - Kelegh “I have no idea. Do investigate. Seems unlikely to me, though.” - Rose “Whether it's intentional or not does not matter. Innocence proves nothing." – Lazarus Mordecai slowly nods. "Fool indeed. I suppose we should still interview him. Sloth or not, he is still a trained Arbites, he might have noticed something the factory workers have not. One more question. In what capacity are we to conduct our investigation? Inquisitorial or pretending to be an Arbites cell?" "But the information may be important in our investigation." - Kelegh “You have identifications which prove that you are here in official capacity as members of the Adeptus Arbites to conduct an internal investigation about reported incompetence of a certain Thraxus Brent, Regulator.” Kationa looks up again. "It seems we need to get down there and start investigating then," she says. "We seem to have a few leads to get started with." Mordecai hums to myself, reading the data-slate again. "If the Arbites ignore this... who asked for Inquisitorial involvement? Was there an official petition for help?" “We have our sources” – Rose says cryptically. Mordecai nods. "I was hoping someone in a higher capacity had run his or her own investigation we could question." "One very important issue remains. While you're not with us, who of us shall lead?" – Lazarus “You are agents of the Inquisition. Initiative and determination are more important than your capacity to follow orders. I do not believe it is necessary to point out a leader... unless you give me a reason to” – Rose answers, her slightly chill tone implying that she would prefer if they wouldn't force her to, and even if they did, they wouldn't like the results. “I'm sure we can work it out between ourselves," says Kationa quickly. "Initiative it is, then." - Lazarus "Yes, it's probably best to let leadership develop as we go along." – Mordecai, then he changes the subject. "...Where, when or how can we contact you once the investigation is over? Do we have a time limit to wrap this up?" Rose chuckles, amused. “I *will* find you, and I *will* know if you've done your job, Acolytes. The time limits will become apparent when they bear relevance, I believe.” Mordecai nods again, gulping quietly. "What abot... uhh... expenses?" asks Kationa nervously. “I’m informed you have monthly wages?” – Rose asks, sounding a bit confused. Kelegh smiles silently. "We most certainly do… though not everything is within reach of our wallets. The Imperium may be generous with its wages, but the merchant are less generous with their prices. And trudging through the lower hives can be ...detrimental for our health. Perhaps we can requisition rebreathers, or poison neutralizers, if it is not much to ask?" - Mordecai “Fill out the appropriate forms, and I'll see to it that they will reach you in time” Mordecai fills out the forms and request 4 gas masks and 2 doses of detox. Nobody wants anything else. I have them roll Logistics, as per Only War, which they fail, to my great delight. Now I get to generate random items from the list that includes things like a regimental supply’s worth of dirty laundry. The results are fun, but unfortunately, they don’t arrive in this session… "Some of us might also need... clothing more suitable for Arbites Intelligencers," says Kationa. "Also some kind of travel pass to the lower hives?" “You current clothing is appropriate enough, I believe. Intelligencers are generally not too choosy about their uniforms, nor are they very concerned about fashion.” – Rose. I’ve totally forgotten how crappy and tattered the psyker’s starting clothes are. Oh well. “The travel passes are included among your identifications.” "Let's get this done." – Kelegh, standing up. He bows towards Rose "The Emperor is with us." Mordecai stands up as well. "Very well, let us be off. Shall we?" "We shall." Lazarus starts toward the door. Kationa stands and bows. "Thank you, ma'am," she says and turns to leave. Mordecai salutes again before leaving "We will deal with this mutant plague." Rose motions for them to get on with the formalities and get out of her conference room. They leave. -- After they leave, Mordecai makes a more detailed introduction of himself, noting his specialty in non-lethal takedowns, investigation- and medicae-related training (also the shotgun). Then he asks the others what their strengths are. "I'm a psyker," says Kationa after a moment, and with a bit of shame. "I can do assorted things, but am best at divining the Tarot." "I mostly kill, but I can maim too if necessarry," Lazarus says without a hint of humour. "I am trained in the use of psy and these" Kelegh pats his sword and las pistol. Mordecai nods in turn as everyone says their part. "Divination will be useful for us, assuming you don't blow yourself up." "So we have at least TWO mutants on our team. I... loathe mutants." – Lazarus. "I'm not a mutant" – Kationa "Lies!" - Lazarus "No one mutates willingly. Cut them some slack." – Mordecai "If I were a mutant, would the Ecclesiarchy want me to work for them? Definitely not." - Kelegh Mordecai slightly winces as Kelegh mentions working for the Ecclesiarchy. "I am not going to debate the Emperor's will." - Lazarus "Wise" – Kelegh "We should.. uhh.. focus on the mission." – Kationa. "I spit on all mutants, psykers and other heretics," Lazarus mumbles quietly to himself. "Spitting isn't the most effective weapon." – Mordecai, trying to lighten the mood. Lazarus sighs. "All right, so obviously we only have two candidates for team leader." "Do we now?" - Mordecai "I could do it!" says Kationa, trying to stick up for herself. "Obviously it's going to have to be the dark skinned one." – Lazarus, referring to Mordecai. "Do you accept the responsibility of being the leader?" – Kelegh, to the arbitrator. He hesitates a few seconds "If you are willing to place your lives in my hands and follow my orders, I will try to live up to your trust." "We need a decision maker in case of opinion differences, and someone to arbitrate disputes, if we want to function as a team. An Arbitrator seems a good choice for that" - Kelegh "Yes, Mordecai, you seem to be good with interpersonal relations.... you will need that, once you start answering for the group's deeds." - Lazarus "Very well, I will do my outmost to keep our little troupe alive." - Mordecai Kationa nods. "Alright." In the meantime Mordecai shows everyone the map of Hive Piety and notes the points of interest. Kelegh starts looking for chemicals-dense places whose waste products might cause mutations, but without any of the Medicae, Chem-Use or Scholastic Lore: Chymistry skills, his attempts are doomed to failure. Mordecai, who picked up Medicae as an elite advance, also tries his hand at it, but fails miserably. So they decide to visit the Arbitrators, in order to get some info about this Thraxus guy, who wrote that report. After a short trip, they arrive. Mordecai shows the nearest arbitrator his cover-ID. "Greetings Arbitrators. We were sent from Scintilla under orders to investigate a certain Thraxus Brent among your ranks. There have been...concerns regarding his competence in the service of his duties. Are you keeping an archive of the local Arbites up here on the station?" “Well, we mostly have records about the men stationed here” – arbitrator. “Maybe I could look up if he was stationed here earlier, then I could dig out his files for you?” "That would be perfect, thank you." “Or, we can take a look at how many times he's been on the station, although I doubt this would interest you very much”, he offers absent-mindedly, while typing on the terminal he has in front of him. “Mmm... nope. Never been here”, he concludes. "Not even off-duty?" - Mordecai “Well, he shipped in a few months ago... looks pretty green.” – arbitrator. "Can I have the exact date?" “Three months ago, in February.” A short discussion ensues about the unwieldiness of the Imperial Calendar and how it will be better for everybody if we use real-world time units, and assume that the characters actually say what’s appropriate. Mordecai nods. "Thank you for your time ..." he peeks at his nametag. "...Investigator Koch. Stay vigilant." He starts turning away, then turns back. "One more thing." *still in a polite tone, but with a stern edge* "I heard the local Arbites are having a tough time lately on Piety. What happened here? Something about funds drying up..." Now that’s a line of inquiry which is worth at least a -10 modifier. As expected, he fails his Charm roll. “Yeah, that's about it” Brecht shrugs. A successful Scrutiny roll makes it obvious to Mordecai that he does not wish to talk about it. The reason is probably embarrassing, maybe even dangerous. Mordecai, however, does not relent. He leans in close and whispers to him: “The Imperium doesn't just freeze funding one of its best and brightest. What happened? A riot gone awry, a stray shot and a nobleman? Raids on ships or something worse? We are alone, and after we leave, we will be taking a report back to Goreman himself. If you have suspicions, now is the time to name them. Unless you want to find yourself one day outmanned and outgunned against a mob whipped into frenzy by some petty crimelord grown fat under lax eyes." He gets an opportunity to reroll, because I’m willing to count his roleplay as a change of circumstances. This time, he succeeds, although not too well. “Worse”, Albrecht says, grimly. Mordecai nods and hands him the data-slate, still whispering "Can you write it down on this?" “I don't really know the specifics” he whispers back. “Only thing I've heard - don't know for sure, mind, but *heard* - is that somebody ****ed up so hard, he angered the Inquisition itself.” Cue gasping. "No!" – Lazarus. Mordecai hushes him. "Quietly", then turns back to Koch. "The Inquisition may be the harshest punisher of incompetence, but the whole Precinct? That sounds peculiar. Around when did this happen? And who could know more" “About 10 years ago? 8? Something like that. Mind you, I've never set foot on the actual *planet*, so my knowledge is fairly limited - but if I had to guess, I'd ask around there.” Mordecai nods and straightens his back again, then says aloud "Thank you Investigator Koch, your helpfulness in the matter of Brent will be noted in my report once this matter has been settled." With this, the group leaves. A short discussion ensues about the necessity of rebreathers, but I point out that every info on the data-slate points toward the air being breathable. So they get to the landers, strap themselves in, and are off. -- The Hive sees a fair bit of aerial traffic, so the trip takes some time, but at least it's not the usual nightmare with vomit-inducing turbulence and stuff. They enter the atmosphere, and, in the distance, can already see the huge, rust-colored stain on the face of the planet that is Hive Piety. After about half an hour of uneventful flying, the lander finally crosses the mountains that border the hive to the south. A further 10 minutes, and the group arrives in the port of District 281, in the Middle Hive. Kelegh stands up as soon as they land, and can hardly wait to see the place. Kationa looks uncomfortable at setting foot on solid ground, but she tries to look confident and controlled. "Where shall we begin, then?" "At Precinct Gamma-321. As good a place as any." - Mordecai "Are we going straight to see Brent, or ask around first what's happened here?" - Kelegh "Should we make a parallel investigation?" asks Lazarus. "Maybe some of us should feel the pulse of the hoi polloi..." Mordecai raises an eyebrow. "What's a hoi polloi?" "It's the unwashed masses. Maybe 2 people go see Brent, and 2 go ask around. The problem is, how and where to meet up afterwards?" - Lazarus "We should prepare accomodations somewhere and meet there when we're done. I'm sure there's a hotel for ship crews or something we can rent. The question is, who goes where? I can interview the locals and Kationa can maybe divine us what eyes and ears missed. Kelegh and Lazarus, can you handle Brent?" - Mordecai "I suppose." - Kelegh "…I don't have any money," mutters Kationa is a low embarrased voice. "Now that I think about it, as Intelligencers, we may get rooms in the Precinct as well." – Mordecai, with his player looking hopefully at the GM. The GM concludes that indeed, they should be able to receive room and all assorted bells and whistles, and if they are really Charm-ing, even a modest amount of funding. Their chances for the latter, however, would be pretty slim without the Bureaucracy skill. "What do you say, Lazarus?" - Kelegh "Um..." - Lazarus "I can deal with Brent if you're more comfortable pestering the locals." - Mordecai "…I feel more at home with the criminal element." – Lazarus. "So maybe I could harass some scum?" "Should I pretend you haven't said that?" – Mordecai, smirking. "Yes, you should better pretend. It was a slip." "Fine, you go with Kationa, I go with Kelegh. I want to press the funding issue anyway. Though for now stick to the workers. I doubt the criminal part of the hive has much to do with this, apart from maybe selling the critter cropses." - Mordecai Kationa looks at Lazarus warily, having not forgotten his comments about her being a 'mutant'. "Come on, this way I can keep an eye on you. I'll even posture as your bodyguard while you interview the rabble." - Lazarus "Very reassuring..." - Kelegh "You don't need to keep an eye on me," Kationa says wearily, but she follows him anyway. "Let's go." "Be nice. The Emperor expects us to do our job." - Mordecai "And where do we meet up later?" - Lazarus "The Precinct. We'll get some rooms there." - Mordecai "Good. Off we go then." Lazarus and Kationa leave. -- We shall start with Team Mutants and Assassins! After a brief discussion, they decide to hit the bars. Kationa inquires about disturbances, monsters and mutants, while Lazarus just sits down in a shadowy corner and eavesdrops on the conversations of random people. They roll Inquiry and Awareness, respectively, at +10 modifier, and both succeed. After a while, they meet up to share info. "Told you I didn't need watching," Kationa says with a smirk. "I found out that as well as there being mutants, there is also a Father Solomon and his followers who have been setting everything on fire. Lots of fire." "Really? Interesting, I've heard that people cannot get to their workplaces because the streets are flooded with mutants. And they have some kind of bad luck curse." – Lazarus. "The bad luck curse?" "Yeah, if you cross a street where unhallowed blood has been spilt, that's 5 years of misery. Silly hivers." "That sounds like ship-board legends. Many are twisted out of fact, so there may be something toxic about the blood that we should check." "Means we'll either need a live one, or a piece of a dead one. And then have our quack have a look at it." Kationa nods. "We may have to watch out for Father Solomon though - he may get in our way." "Arsonists are not our problem, BUT... if they're a heretical cult, and they MIGHT be... Either way we might need a lot of rope." At first I didn’t understand why would they want to hang them, if they always have a bonfire ready, but it turned out they just want to bring them in for questioning. "Unless they are Emperor-zealots who burn mutants... in that case they're useful. We need to look into this." "As long as they don't burn me." - Kationa "You have nothing to fear as long as you're not a mutant." I point out that psykers are technically mutants, but they don’t seem to mind. "I'm not a mutant. You were the one who called me that." "So there you have it," Lazarus smiles. "Safe as houses." "Still... these Emperor zealots like to burn psykers as well as mutants." "They don't need to know you're a psyker. OR, we could just hit one of them over the head and drag him somewhere for questioning." "I think we should definitely question them. They probably know more about these mutants than anyone else. I'm not sure we need to hit them over the head though, unless they threaten us." "Shall we go into these seedier parts and look for a zealot or two?" "We could try. Do we want to meet up with the others first?" They agree to meet up, and head for the precinct. -- Meanwhile in Team Law-Abiding Citizens… They take a train and after about three hours of travel, end up at their destination. It’s in a fairly seedy neighborhood, with dilapidated buildings and two green-looking recruits in worn uniforms at the door of the Precinct Fortress. “Not exactly a welcoming neighborhood. We shouldn’t split up” – Kelegh. “I didn’t plan to.” Mordecai turns to the recruits and flashes his ID. “I’m Intelligencer Vern, sent here from Scintilla in a matter of internal investigations. Who is the captain of this precinct?” “Thaddeus Vex, sir” – Recruit 1, saluting. “Lead me to him, please. I have to talk to him” – Mordecai, in a polite, but cold tone. “Yessir”, they mutter, and obey. They get to the captain pretty soon. “Captain Vex, I’m Intelligencer Vern, and this is my partner, Intelligencer Kelegh. I have to talk to you about an internal investigation.” The captain halfway rises up from his chair, then falls right back into it upon hearing the phrase “internal investigation”. “Internal investigation? About what?” Mordecai eyes him up deliberately. “I’m going to be honest with you, Captain. Have you heard about the reports concerning the mutant plague in Districts 318-329? Others have.” short pause, letting it sink in. “They don’t think much of it on Scintilla, either… BUT… a certain Regulator, Thraxus Brent was assigned to this case, and he did an abysmal job of it. News of his ‘work’ have reached the ears of important people. Even more important people that the Lord Marshal…” He gives the captain a meaningful look. “Piety has already disappointed the Inquisition once… when was it? 10 years ago? 8? …And people like Brent aggravate the situation even more.” he pauses to look what effect his speech had. His speech was awesome enough for me to reward it with a partial Fate refresh! Unfortunately, he didn’t spend any Fate points, but he does gain a temporary one, to be spent in this session, otherwise it’s lost. It also had a profound effect on the Captain, who goes pale and starts to sweat profusely. He’s a bit old and fat, having a heart attack does not seem out of the question for him. Kelegh goes out to get him a glass of water before he dies on them. (Actually, a glass of water would do very little to prevent a heart attack, but he doesn’t have Medicae, so it’s kind of appropriate.) “Don’t worry, Captain, not everything is lost yet. Our boys have convinced them to let your people correct the mistake, that’s why we are here. I’ll talk to Brent, if he’s not past hope, we’ll kick his ass until he tracks the source of this mutation back to its source, even if said source is the toilet of the Planetary Governor himself.” – Mordecai “Of course. Just grab him and kick away as much as you like”, mutters Vex. Meanwhile, Kelegh gets back with the water, sees no immediate medical emergency, and decides to hold on to it for the time being. “Don’t worry, we’ll get excellent results out of Brent, and everything will be forgiven. In order to accomplish this, however, I will need complete access to the databases of your precinct. Who knows, how many decades ago there might have been a chemical spill whose effects are just manifesting? Oh, and I’ll need accommodations for 4 people. Two of my men are already examining the site of the contamination.” “Of course, of course. Whatever you want” – Vex, still terrified. They also order him to get Brent into an interrogation room where they can talk, then they’re off. -- Back to Mutants and Assassins, who just arrive. They are greeted by the green recruits from before, they flash their fake IDs, and get assured that their esteemed colleagues are right now at an important meeting with the captain, but will surely be available soon. They take a seat and wait. Lazarus fiddles with his weapons. From time to time he looks up to check on Kationa. Just in case. Kationa perches on the edge of the seat and gives a slight glare back at Lazarus. "I'm really not going to explode," she says in a prim tone. "I know you're not," Lazarus pats his hunting rifle knowingly. "I've seen them psykers at work before. It was nasty." "Well, I'm not like them," she says firmly. "I wouldn't be here if I was." She tries to change the subject. "You're a noble? How did you become..." she hesitates and gestures to him. "...what you are." "You mean a killer? I guess, like you, I was... born this way. Much like mutation, great talent does not make choices based on social standing." "You mean you didn't have a choice?" "Freedom of choice is an illusion. But the Emperor does not frown upon gifted killers. He embraces them. Whereas psykers..." Lazarus trails off. "What's keeping them?" "I stood in the light of the Emperor. That's what they do." They get interrupted by an arbitrator who announces that their companions await in Interrogation Room 3. They decide to join. -- So, back to Room 101... I mean, Interrogation Room 3. Thraxus is sitting in a plasteel chair, with a confused expression. There's a desk before him with a huge lamp with its considerable amount of light shoved right in his face. So, his expression is not as much as confused as somewhere between "confused" and "oh god oh god I'm gonna go blind". Mordecai switches the lamp off and lets him get used to the dimness. "Thraxus Brent. My name is Intelligencer Vern and these are my collegues, Kationa, Lazarus and Kelegh." He tosses him the data-slate with his report. "Your disgraceful work has reached important people on Scintilla and they expect us to remedy your mistake before the higher-ups drain Piety of every last Gelt. In essence you have two choices. With our help, you will turn your attention back on this case and solve it. Flawlessly. OR, with our help, you will be made an example of." Kationa doesn't interrupt and just watches politely. Kelegh leans close to him, so that he can see the sanctioning brand on his left forearm and just studies his face and eyes closely for about a minute, without a word. “You are not an arbitrator!”, he exclaims, seeing the brand, and starts to struggle with his bindings. “Who are you?! WHO ARE YOU???” Mordecai rolls his eyes, then bitchslaps him with his ID. "Whoops, forgot to show this to him." Kationa does speak up now. "We're here to help," she says, being the 'nice one'. "To clean up this mess before it gets out of hand. You want to help with that, don't you?" “What?” – Thraxus, channeling Pulp Fiction. "Tell us about the case" - Kationa "Anyone skimming your report can tell you didn't give two figs about it. But you are a trained Arbitrator. I refuse to believe you didn't notice SOMETHING useful." - Mordecai “Well, the mutants seemed... off”, he starts. “Like, they had these ****ed-up mutations with the... long... and... soft-looking limbs… It was, like, they couldn't even stand! "Tentacles?!" - Lazarus “No ,they had arms and legs, but they were... off! Like... malleable or something, couldn't support their own weight, they had to crawl. And their whole body was like that, like if their bones went all soft and stuff. Gum-like. Every damn one of them.” Mordecai shakes his head "That's peculiar, even among mutations." "If it's a random mutation, and not some deliberate tampering with nature..." - Kelegh “I was, like, ok, one mutant is like that, it's cool - I mean, not cool, he's obviously a mutant and therefore has to be put down -, but a whole lot of them? And there WAS a whole lot of them, mind you. Streets were crawling with them. And also, creepiest thing? They seemed... dunno. Aware. Driven. Like, ok, I don't have an arm and a leg, can't walk, but I HAVE to get there even if I have to crawl all the way.” "Could it be a disease combined with madness?" - Lazarus “Let him finish first." - Mordecai “They were crawling for a long time, I guess. Their skin came off totally. They were leaving blood trails after themselves, like snails, except, you know, not. And all the while, they were *aware*. They knew what they were. They knew what happened to them. And they knew they had to be there, or... I dunno. Still, they died after a few hours.” "Why didn't you put this in your report?" - Kationa “I had other cases. Had to run. Too few of us, too many crimes. Also, not enough vehicles.” "This is unacceptable." - Lazarus "And what was so much more important than this???" - Kelegh “Well, there was this imperial official guy with his eyes gouged out, then the smuggling ring with the military-grade weapons, also some suspected cult activity... stuff like that. Cult activity turned out to be bull****, though.” Mordecai nods, thinking. "You said they were driven. Where? In which direction were they going? Or a specific place maybe? Where were they coming out of? Every hole knook and cranny in the area? Did they resemble anything? Rats, insects, degraded humans?" “They were like humans, only with the bones turned gel-like and the limbs all elongated. Dunno where they might have been coming from. I was in kind of a hurry, couldn't really follow them. They came from the south, this much I can tell. As for where they were going? Everywhere north-ish. It was like they were spreading or something.” “Did you ever hear of someone starting fires in the area? Father Solomon?" - Kationa Mordecai and Kelegh look at her weirdly. “Never heard of him. Must be a newcomer. Probably some preacher from the upper levels, seeing the opportunity to convert souls, coming down?” "Have there been reports of excessive fires though? Or did you fail to look into it?" - Kationa “Look, ma'am, looks like to me that whoever this Solomon is, he's probably only burning the muties. Nobody complained so far. As far as I'm concerned, locals probably think he's doing him a service.” "YOU've never heard of him, yet we hear of him 2 hours after landing here?" - Lazarus “What could I say? I'm not THAT pious” – Thraxus, shrugging. Lazarus turns to the others. "This sod's report is not going to look good." "It wasn't looking good in the first place, but he did earn some points just now. We have more leads. Any other questions?" –Mordecai, turning to Brent. "If not, you are dismissed for today. We're borrowing you from captain Vex, you'll come with us tomorrow." “Good, good” – Thraxus, relieved. “…Will any of you unchain me now?” Mordecai lets him go "Rest up, we'll have work tomorrow." He scurries away. "He is obviously hiding something." – Lazarus. Cue Scrutiny rolls. He fails and obtains no information. Mordecai tries his hand at it, too, and gets a botch – with it, comes a strong sense of having been lied to. His player decides to use that temporary Fate point from earlier to get a re-roll, which succeeds. "I'm pretty sure he doesn't." – Mordecai, then he turns to Lazarus and Kationa. "So...Father Solomon?" "Let's discuss what you learned." Kelegh, looking at Lazarus and Kationa "Someone names Father Solomon has a gang down in the lower hives, setting fire to everything. Most likely some kind of zealot, but we think it is worth following up to see what they know." – Kationa. "Well, the mutants crawl and slither and leave their blood in the streets. People are superstitious about it, they refuse to cross those blooded streets, and fail to appear at work. The Emperor's Holy Economy is at stake here." – Lazarus. He also gains a temporary Fate point for coining the phrase “The Emperor’s Holy Economy”. It’s near the end of the session, though, so it doesn’t see use and is lost. "Yes, I plan on checking up on missing workers. Assuming they're not underhive nobodies. That's why we got access to the Arbites archives. We'll be milking that all evening, so get some decaf." - Mordecai "Why is Father Solomon a problem?" - Kelegh "Cults need to be investigated." - Lazarus "He may interfere with our investigation." - Kationa "He has followers and his followers have eyes and ears. They may be useful. I'm not good with zealots though." - Mordecai "Let's talk to him, learn anything he or his group knows, and we can still do away with them if they are found guilty of heresy." - Kelegh "We need to look at this blood as well. It may be toxic in some way, or shed clues." - Kationa "Good idea, blood samples. Someone get some forensics gear from the Verispex department please." - Mordecai "I have no idea what you're talking about. I'll let you handle these details." Lazarus steps back. Mordecai hangs his head "Yeah, you'd just blow our cover like this. Anyway, I'll requisition some forensics gear, then I go to the database/archives/monitoring stations/whatever else there is.” With it, he’s off to requisition stuff. He books a Verispex adept with matching gear, and tries his hand at getting protective gear against toxic environments, but the distinct lack of toxic environments around dooms his attempt to failure. I also inform the others that Fearless Leader will probably be busy for the next few hours sweeping around in the precinct’s databases, so they might want to do something without him. Lazarus is the first to show initiative… "I'm taking the psykers out for a walk." - Lazarus "A walk?" - Kationa "I don't think I WILL BE TAKEN out for a walk..." - Kelegh "Enough with the semantics, let's go!" – Lazarus If we’re already talking semantics, am I the only one who is not keen on the prospect of being taken out by an assassin, even for a walk? "Where are we going?" - Kationa "First, the clothing emporio. Then, we look for zealots." - Lazarus "We're going clothes shopping?" Kationa looks absolutely over the moon at the prospect and her eyes light up with glee. But then her face falls. "But I have no money." "Why should I need more clothes?" – Kelegh. "My sanctioning brand is covered by default. It only shows when I want it. But talking to the zealots is a good idea."" "I'll lend you some. Kationa needs clothes to cover up her psykishness." - Lazarus "Really? Thank you!" She looks delighted. "I hate looking like a beggar, whatever they said on the Black Ship." They leave in the direction of the mall to buy some non-tatty robes and ominous cloaks, because Lazarus wants his pet psykers to look badass, then depart from the store with their spoils and go in the general direction of.... the lower levels where the zealots lurk. -- Meanwhile in the Precinct Fortress, Mordecai seems to enjoy his newfound privileges as Big Brother. He starts off by rolling Tech-use to access the files, which he promptly botches. A spent Fate point later it is merely a normal failure. Fortunately, he still has access to the files his cover identity’s clearance entitles him to. First order of business is combing through missing person reports, of which there is no shortage. He could spend his whole life here, reading those. So, instead of reading through them, he just looks at the numbers, and notices a 60% increase in the districts affected by the mutant plague compared to the other low-level districts. Both have way higher numbers than the middle hive, though, but that is to be expected. Then he looks up structures in the affected districts that might attract the mutants, but finds nothing that isn’t present in the northern ones, too. Only thing that is unique to the southern districts is the southern border of the Hive (duh). Disappointed, he starts digging for some info about the Colossal ****up that presumably caused the local Arbites to fall out of favor. His initial inquiries of higher-ups being demoted/killed/coming under suspicion of heresy yield a fair number of higher-ranked arbitrators (mostly in leadership or administrative positions) being demoted and transferred – mainly to Sinophia Magna or into the Divisio Immoralis. Also, there is a huge list of casualties around this time, but his clearance is apparently not high enough to look at the cases they were working on. Frustrated, he starts to look at cases near this date which involved a large number of manpower, and were either extremely successful or very unsuccessful. He finds a rather involved operation just a few months earlier that managed to root out heretics among the highest echelons of the nobility – they have completely purged a noble house and heavily pruned two others. Curiously though, nobody who worked on this case was among the casualties. This is the point where he gives up. -- And this is the point where the session ended! Everybody gains 100 XP, we agree on when the next game will be held, and we're off to sleep.