AMONG THE MISSING
“After being singled out and inducted into the service of the Inquisition, things have not quite gone as you had imagined them. Removed from your past life, you have been tested and measured, questioned and interrogated. But aside from a few lectures given in darkened chambers that left you sick to your stomach and a seemingly endless stream of codes and ciphers given you to memorize and destroy, you have been left largely to your own devices. Lodging under a false name in an anonymous habblock in Hive Sibellus, on Scintilla, the capitol planet of the Calixis Sector, you have bided your time for weeks waiting for the call from your masters, and perhaps, their verdict."
“At last that call has come and a blank-eyed courier has delivered to you a note featuring the cipher of the Holy Ordos. The message within was simple and perfunctory, containing a time, a date and a location. The instruction to come prepared and expect company is signed off with a single epithet — The Emperor Protects”
“At the appointed hour, you have made your way through the bustling faceless masses of the Administratum quarter to an unmarked service elevator platform set in the rear of a vast and imposing building covered in base-reliefs of skulls, half draped urns and other symbols of death, crowned by an immense statue of a weeping saint. It appears that you are expected; the wizened face of the platform’s inbuilt servitor studies you and pronounces “Pass” as you climb on board. As the note implied, you were not the only person called, and you make for an uncomfortable and diverse looking group standing in tense silence as the crowds throng by. The servitor control chimes active as the last one of you boards the platform and the elevator descends as the hatchway closes above you all with a thunderous boom. The platform continues downward for some minutes through maintenance levels, deep into the bowels of the government district.”
- At the end of the elevator’s slow decent you are deposited at the end of a wide grey corridor, lit by pale lumen globes in the shape of cherubs holding torches. Only the first part of the corridor is lit and the rest trails off into darkness. As you step off the platform more globes illuminate to show the path and, as you walk forward, more flicker into life before you, while those behind extinguish. There is but one path, the corridor is featureless and smells faintly of chemical disinfectant.
- After about five minutes, the corridor ends in an armoured metal door, which unseals and unlocks with a hiss of pressurized air and opens with a loud grinding of heavy gears. The room inside has a jumble of dusty metal crates (branded with unintelligible symbols) stacked against one wall, while a hospital gurney complete with restraint straps has been left toppled over on one side against the other. The room’s most striking feature is a wide mirror which fills the upper half of the opposite wall from the entrance. The mirror slowly clears to transparency to reveal a glittering steel chamber beyond. Inside the chamber looking out is a tall, thin-faced figure wearing white medicae robes with (rather incongruously) a red leather coat draped over his shoulders. Behind him, covered by a mottled grey sheet, is what looks like a body on some sort of frame raised upright for inspection. While above them in the air, a pair of white enameled skulls, encrusted with a variety of brass instruments and long hypo needles, hover expectantly.
- You may make any or all:
- A Perception Test at Routine (+20)
- A Common Lore (Tech) Test at Ordinary (+10)
- A Common Lore (Imperium) Test at Challenging (+0)
THE BODY IN QUESTION
- The figure in the chamber beckons you up to the glass with a gloved hand and after a static rattle, his voice issues from a small grill set into the ceiling:
“Greetings Acolytes, I am Medicae-Interrogator Sand and you are the new blood, are you not? Worthy additions to our holy war? Well we shall see, far be it from me to doubt my betters’ judgement, eh?"
“Well to the matter at hand. I represent the Holy Ordos of the Imperial Inquisition that we all serve. Our masters have called you here to assist us in the investigation of a matter of interest that has recently and unexpectedly come to light."
“Oh, yes, for your information, you are now in the depths of the Templum Mori, the house of the dead where the Lords Prefecta Mortem hold court and the fallen and the lost of the great city are named and counted. It will not surprise you then to know you are here to view a corpse, I doubt it will be your first, but it is, shall we say, quite singular!”
- Sand will causally brush aside any questions and carry on with his lecture, pulling aside the grey sheet to reveal the dissected and eviscerated body of an adult human. As he continues to talk, the servo-skulls will dip and bob out of sight to reappear with messy looking organic specimens in tests tubes and jars, clutched in their dextrous brass calipers, displaying them in turn for the Acolytes’ edification:
“Now if you will kindly attend and pay heed, I will take questions afterward."
“The body has been positively identified as that of one Saul Arbest, male, 23 years of age, hive worker, unskilled labourer certified. Formerly of the Tantalus Indenture, registered habitation: chamber 6/23 stack 717# Coscarla Division, southern zone, Hive Sibelius."
“Subject found dead on the midhive transit rail three days ago as the car returned to the main depot. Preliminary examination at the scene suggested death by drug overdose. Post mortem performed by the biologis forensic, however revealed certain anomies that necessitated our involvement."
“The cause of death was in fact total systemic failure brought on by tissue rejection of an implanted synthetic graft organ. Said organ destroyed his central nervous system while attempting to overcome the immune response."
“In short this…”
- The servo skull displays a sample jar containing a ten centimeter long whitish cord of waving glassy tendrils, still in motion, still alive.
“…crushed the life out of him from the inside."
“What’s it for? Unknown, but my opinion would be, in a word, ‘control’—neural and synaptic override, perhaps worse."
“There were other grafts and surgery of a less singular kind also; one lung replaced by a concealed storage cavity, possibly for his use as a courier. Also, one optic nerve removed, skin flayed from his stomach, I’ve no idea why. His system’s awash with alchemic traces, clotting agents, panimmune and the like."
“The surgery was expert, but by the lesions and tissue stresses, I doubt any care was given to whether or not it was painless. In fact, by the damage to his vocal cords, my guess was that he probably screamed as long as he was able to."
“But this little monster is what concerns us. Oh, you don’t need to know the genelore or the Omnissian edict, just that this is not only illegal, it is forbidden, it is heresy. Merely tampering with this kind of dark tech is enough to warrant a death sentence from the Holy Ordos, the Arbites or the Mechanicus."
“And I’m sure that you, as well as I, am wondering how such a rare and vile thing ended up wrapped round the spine of some anonymous habprole from the dusty end of the stacks."
“The man has no prior criminal record, he was rendered invalid by indenture — laid off if you will, some sixty days ago now and was reported missing thirty two days ago by his sister, one Lili Arbest, resident of the same habstack. More than enough time to get himself into all sorts of trouble, I’m sure you’ll agree. These grafts are no more than eight or ten days old at most. We have nothing else on him."
“This is to be a shadow investigation, no open official involvement and no notification of the local authorities, and no one knows he’s here either. Coscarla’s down hive, so a covert approach will draw far less attention than a boot through the door, and be far less likely to kill any leads to our heretic."
“Find out why and where if you can, better yet, find out how. Best of all, find out who is responsible. Go with the grace of the God-Emperor, oh and additional samples would be a blessing if you can procure them.”
- Sand has procured for them a “kit” of additional equipment but won’t acquiesce to any demands for further arms or manpower as he believes the Acolytes well armed enough to defend themselves, and that they should be talented enough to adapt and overcome if needs be
- Coscarla Pass Tokens: (One per Acolyte) These coded devices, each about the size of a small thick coin, will allow them legal clearance for the Coscarla Division and free passage on the transit rail around the midhive area.
- Hand Vox: (One per Acolyte) These are cheap and battered looking personal communication devices that use a private encrypted channel, and are good for a range of a few kilometers in the hive. Sand will happily explain that thanks to signal interference in the areas of the hive where they are going, vox traffic is almost impossible over any real distance or between levels, except by wire station, but these hand vox will let them keep in touch with each other at least.
- Low Hiver’s Overcoats: (One per Acolyte) These voluminous and somewhat tattered patchwork leather and canvas high-collared overcoats are common lowhiver garb in Sibellus and will easily fit over anything the Acolytes are wearing. They are also quite tough and will provide them with 1 Armour Point.
- Chem Lamps: (One per Acolyte) These small portable lamps use a chemical reaction to provide light and operate continuously while their shutters are open. Such lamps will illuminate an area of about a three meter radius around it or provide a six meter directed beam of whitish light.
- Coded DataSlate: This worn-looking brass cased dataslate carries basic copies of the information found in their briefing, a series of maps and data about the Coscarla and (largely empty) files on the Arbasts, including pictures of them and addresses taken from the Administratum register. The slate also has basic short range audio and visual recording and playback functions. The slate features a five key input code which Sand will give them, if it is accessed without this, its core memory will be wiped.
- BioSample Kit: Added as something of a hopeful afterthought, this satchel carries three small biostorage tubes and Ligatio. If one of the Acolytes makes mention of the kit skull, Sand will shrug and smile saying, “Well I’m not expecting deft surgery, but will just hack at it like an underdone Grox steak and not get it in the jar.”
- Money Pouch: This pouch contains 120 Thrones in loose coin and used notes, “For sundries and bribes. I’m sure if you need more you can be resourceful,” Sand puts it.