After catching their breaths and binding their wounds, the acolytes quickly search the bodies of the cultist patrol and the remains of the terrifying assault vehicle. After finding mostly ammunition and a few crude weapons, Amador discovers a House Talamar Oathkeeper, a rare weapon and badge of office for Talamar trading guild officers. Amador and Uziel also attempt to strip the machine guns from the cultists’ tracked vehicle.
The acolytes make their way through the guild district and finally find the private guilder cargo lifts. From the rumbling and shaking of the spire, the acolytes surmise that the conflict is escalating and that the hive is losing structural integrity.
Using the slain guild-servants’ access cogs, the acolytes enter the ornate lift and continue their journey up the spire. After a few minutes, the whole spire shudders violently, and another massive rumble moves through the superstructure. The lift screeches to a stop, loses all power, and slowly starts to fill with smoke. In the pitch black, the acolytes climb through the service hatch in the roof of the car. Just as the acolytes make it to a maintenance ladder in the middle of the massive elevator shaft, a flaming car comes shooting downwards, smashing the lift they just departed, and tumbling into the darkness.
After a long climb, the acolytes arrive on what they believe is their correct floor. Upon prying open the door, the party finds more darkness; an entire level gutted by fire and combat. While navigating the charred hallways, Tybs stumbles into an enemy patrol. Using the newly discovered House Talamar Oathkeeper, Tybs engages the enemy.
After a brief, but incredibly violent firefight, the acolytes push upwards again, finally reaching the Balcony. Unfortunately, instead of easily finding Archibald, the acolytes find a massive gathering of Scintillan Fusilers and Zetah PDF troopers. Hundreds of troops wait, huddling under monumental stone archways leading out to St. Lucia’s Square.
Uziel finds a Scintillan Colonel who briefs him on the situation. Archibald’s unit at the air defense batteries in St. Lucia’s Cathedral are cut off and haven’t been heard from for hours. Enemy troops have also fortified the square in preparation for landing fresh waves of troops. The Imperial commanders are now preparing a large push to retake the square.
Multiple Ministorum priests begin making the rounds up and down the line, reciting prayers and other blazing rhetoric. Soldiers are shaking, reciting litanies of protection, and checking their weapons. A Commissar stands beside a machine gun pit and cocks his bolt pistol. The artillery barrage stops. The line goes quiet. Men tense up.
A young priest climbs a stack of boxes in the middle of line. The acolytes recognize him as Thomas, the missionary from the chapel aboard the Reliant Dawn. He bellows a batte-cry at the top of his lungs and the charge begins.
The Imperial officers blow their whistles and the line surges, pushing the acolytes into the horror and chaos in the square. The secessionists have crated patchwork trenches everywhere, including flamer pits and machine-gun nests. Aircraft – both enemy and Imperial – are making strafing runs and dueling overhead. Dozens of mortar rounds begin in the mass of Imperial troops, one gravely wounding Grax.
The carnage is overwhelming and the Imperial push eventually slows and stops. The acolytes find cover in the shadow of a large, ornate fountain. Finding a maintenance hatch leading under the square, the acolytes requisition two Scintillans – Corporal Erioch and Trooper Octavius.
Following a series of walkways suspended below the Balcony, the acolytes discover an unguarded route into the belly of the cathedral. Slowly skulking up the concrete stairs into the main chamber, the acolytes begin to hear harsh, guttural voices barking orders.