Eventually, a month passes aboard the Reliant Dawn with little news from Valdane or other members of the crew. During the uncomfortable, idle, directionless time, fights and substance abuse become common among the acolytes aboard. For the most part however, the warp travel is uneventful.
On a seemingly normal day cycle, the acolytes awake to the sounds of servitors pushing around tables and chairs in the common area. A few acolytes had already gathered there, watching from the sides of the room.
Tybaltius admits that he has woken up with a splitting headache and that his eyebrow ring is missing. He attributes this to his time spent gambling the night before.
Surprisingly, a heavily-armoured Valdane emerges from the turbolifts and briefs all of the gathered acolytes on the developing situation.
His agents have traced the source of Aristarchus’ heretical and xenos-tainted Tarot Deck to Zetah VII – a hive world that straddles the border between the Calixis and Askellon sectors. Valdane’s sources are sure that a noble, Tyranius Archibald III – of the Guild House Archibald – is the source of both the xenos-tained deck as well numerous other heretical artifacts making their way through Calixis space. Unfortunately, there are complications surrounding his arrest.
Chaos-led secessionists have recently started an invasion of the Calixis Sector – and Zetah VII is caught directly in their midst. Because Zetah VII has been under siege for the last thirty-six hours, the acolytes’ insertion will be a combat drop. Numerous inquisitorial cells will be distributed along the spire as to provide the best chance of locating Archibald. Casualties are expected to be high.
Valdane tells the acolytes that their mission is to determine Archibald’s location within Zetah VII’s main hive and gain details about his supplier. If Archibald is dead, the acolytes will need to recover all of his trading guild records and accounts.
Valdane departs and the acolytes move to the flight bay to find their pilots, assignments, and other supplemental gear. Emergency lighting turns on and vox speakers announce for the crew to take battle-stations.
As acolytes scramble to their ships, Tybaltius finds a note in is pocket. Addressed from Valdane, he reads it to the others:
Unknown to your Bloodborne Brothers, Sorgoth and Archibald had expanded their smuggling business into the realm of xenos artifacts and archeotech. My agents had suspected that they also may have had a disagreement over profit sharing. The information on your ring has confirmed these details.
Likely, this is the reason that Sorgoth ordered you to kill Archibald. We suspect that Sorgoth has now taken on a greater role in the xenos-smuggling trade and that he may have also recently sought transport off-world.
Your mission is to find and interrogate Archibald, obtain the details of his supplier, determine Sorgoth’s location, and execute Archibald with extreme prejudice.
Move quickly and use your knowledge of the hive to accomplish these goals. I have given your cell the best chance of locating the heretic.
Anything else is a secondary concern.
Tybaltius explains to the others that Sorgoth was the leader of the Bloodborne Brothers, a vicious gang on Zetah VII. Tybaltius himself was a senior member – his signature eye-patch hiding his gang tattoo.
Sorgoth had tasked Tybaltius with assassinating Archibald. Instead, Tybs used this time to gather crucial data regarding the noble’s wrongdoings. After Sorgoth found out that Tybs was sleeping with his wife and hadn’t immediately killed Archibald, he had Tybs arrested and shipped to an off-world penal colony.
Now, it seems as though Valdane found and used the information on Tybs’ now-missing eyebrow piercing for his own purposes.
The party eventually finds their pilot, Lt. Antarro Corvath, who leads them to their assault craft. The acolytes are told that they’re dropping on the lower part of the hive spire’s apex. Multiple units of Scintillan Fusiliers and Zetah Planetary Defence Forces are currently engaging the enemy all along the spire and should be able to provide some support – or at least, a distraction.
The Reliant Dawn translates out of warp space. Soon after, the air rushes out of launch bay, leaving a dreadful silence before the engines kick in.
Bursts of light poke through the slits in the side doors of the assault carrier as it leaves the belly of Dawn. Fragments rattle against the hull. With the evasive maneuvers Lt. Corvath is taking, the acolytes can only imagine the true scale of the orbital conflict.
The eventual atmospheric re-entry seems calm in comparison. However, it too is replaced by chaos as the sounds of attack aircraft, orbital bombardments, flak, and anti-aircraft fire reverberate throughout the crew compartment.
After a few agonizing minutes of descent through the chaos, a green light comes on in the compartment. The gunners stand, slide open their doors, and pivot their guns into position. The two door-mounted heavy bolters begin barking to life, covering the acolytes’ descent.
As they start their slide down the insertion cable, Corvath radios a warning. A small group of secessionists are on the roof. A lone missile starts streaking skyward. The acolytes leap to the spire roof as the missile impacts the assault craft. Corvath tries to keep it level, but his other engine explodes, sending the craft into a spiral and crash.
The acolytes eventually fight their way into the spire, weaving through various maintenance corridors and administrative wards. Corvath manages to radio the party, informing them that he’ll try to make it to ground level.
As they approach a series of turbolifts, the acolytes find a large group of nobles arguing with three hive enforcers. The enforcers are trying to push the crowd back from shuttle access points – hoping to allow imminently-arriving Imperial causalities to be evacuated.
The party decides that they can’t waste any more time and they decide to leave the two disputing groups. As they enter the turbolifts, the party hears echoes of gunfire and a few explosions coming from the direction of the crowd.
Having now found their way into the guild district, the acolytes set off to find the Archibald Guild House. The district is abandoned, but debris, bodies, and shell casings show signs of recent conflict.
Inside Archibald’s office, they find two guild servants burning piles of documents and trade records. Through questioning the servants and searching the room, they discover that Archibald has been drafted into the Planetary Defence Force and has been assigned to the air defence batteries at St. Lucia’s Cathedral – located on St. Lucia’s Square. Tybs – a past resident of the hive – knows its general location.
After hearing the sound of some bizarre tracked vehicle, the two terrified guild servants make a break for it. One of them is shot down by Tybs before making it to the door. The other manages to push past Uziel and makes his way into the street.
A chaos secessionist patrol is making their way through the district – looting bodies and buildings. The fleeing guilder is shot down by the secessionists’ heavily armed assault vehicle.
The acolytes fan out and prepare an ambush. Amador arms a demolition charge for Uziel, but they fail to destroy the durable, tracked vehicle. After an intense firefight, the acolytes finish off the cultists.
Heavily wounded, the acolytes now search the corpses and the assault vehicle before heading to the guild cargo lifts.
Hopefully, they can find their way to the Balcony – a once great area of prosperity and huge, exotic markets. The Balcony’s open-air platform wraps around the spire apex and was once filled with markets, parks, shrines, cathedrals, and offices for the nobility and hive elite.
The Balcony also holds their crucial objective – St. Lucia’s Cathedral.