Immediately after landing, they’re set upon by a handful of Inquisitorial storm troopers as well as a large number of Mechanicus adepts, servitors, and tech priests – members of the Adeptus Biologis. It seems like word of the acolytes’ experience has already gotten back to the Dawn. Questions begin flying from the science and security representatives as the acolytes are shepherded down the Dawn’s corridors and away from their typical lodgings.
Separated from Brenner and Kaur, the acolytes are placed in biologis quarantine, undergoing a few weeks of debriefings, body scans, medicae checks, and psychological screenings.
Eventually, they’re released back into the general population to recuperate. They take time to tend to their gear and acquire a few more pieces of necessary equipment.
Arkady, unhappy with they amount of information they’ve received regarding this new threat, sets out to find the Dawn’s archives or any kind of Inquisitorial library. Convincing the senior agents to grant him clearance, he locates Perrin Lemant, the Reliant Dawn’s chief savant and caretaker of knowledge. From among the dark and dusty archive stacks, Lemant recovers a few tomes, offering them to Arkady to study.
After a few days, the party is once again summoned and taken to Inquisitor Valdane’s briefing chamber. He stands in the corner, nodding acknowledgement as the group makes its way inside.
Valdane is explains that the creature they encountered on Tertia-12 was a Genestealer – a vanguard organism of the Tyranid race that excels in the infiltration of other species’ inhabited worlds and vessels. First encountered sixty years ago, it had yet to be seen in Askellon space until now.
The Inquisitor thumbs an activation rune on the table and once again, a holographic view of Port Aquila crackles to life. A single image is highlighted and the hologram zooms in, revealing Praxos Station, a facility the size of a small hive.
Valdane explains that some time ago, the Inquisition started receiving rumours of disappearances aboard Praxos. At first, they had attributed it to Combine wrongdoings. However, with the information the acolytes managed to recover from Tertia-12, there is a new belief that these events may all be connected.
As such, Valdane tasks the acolytes with investigating the disappearances on Praxos and to find out if they are. Additionally, if there are other Genestealers present, they are to find out how they entered Port Aquila and then destroy them for good.
Lastly, Valdane explains that the Heretek from the recovered vid-capture is familiar to the Inquisition – although they have not seen his presence in some time. If the acolytes find him on Praxos, they are to question and kill him.
The acolytes are told that once aboard, they should find lodgings and transportation and seek out Varl Krieger, one of Valdane’s senior agents. Although looking into the Trade Combine’s operations, Krieger is likely to have information that could aid in the acolytes’ investigation. Valdane provides a simple description of what Krieger may look like as well as the times and general location of where he receives his dead drops.
Heading to the Reliant Dawn’s flight bay, the acolytes find Brenner waiting for them. They mount up aboard Corvath’s shuttle and once again depart into the depths of Port Aquila’s asteroid fields.
After a journey slightly shorter than the last, the massive Praxos Station eventually slips into view.
Gaping void gates welcome small and medium sized vessels inside the safety of the station’s confines. Those vessels too large for the gates maintain a safe distance close by, their swollen hulls disgorging cargo and shuttles to the awaiting port.
Passing through the gates into an absolutely gargantuan and cavernous hold, the acolytes hear the rush of returning atmosphere. Lights ahead flash warnings of gravitational return and the multitude of shuttles coming and going switch between their plasma engines and their atmospheric thrusters. Those shuttles still too heavy for terrestrial gravitation wait at the threshold. The acolytes’ Arvus continues through to the mess of landing pads, docking clamps, and other berths.
The docks are easily reminiscent of Desoleum’s Port Gyre. However, rather than built up the side of a hive, Praxos’ landing areas are spread out, like false waterfront piers under a plasteel and ferocrete sky. These piers filter traffic in from the smaller landing pads and giant void gates. Most travelers and workers are on foot, but numerous haulers, autocarriages, and cycles motor past, emerging from shuttles, cargo landers, and the holds of other vessels.
Eventually, Corvath, in communication with the dozens of control towers, chooses and sets the Arvus down inside one of the less-cramped landing areas.
Pulling up the relevant documentation, Arkady recounts how Praxos is separated into three distinct areas:
First, there’s Midstone – connected to the docks by a few main arteria networks and fast travel rail lines. Midstone is supposedly no different than most typical mid-hives and is home to the majority of Praxos’ 647,000 habitants. It also hosts Praxos’ main markets.
Beneath Midstone, dug deep into the heart of the asteroid is Foundation. Past Midstone’s market district, a massive lift shuttles cargo and passengers down and back. Most have no reason to travel there, as Foundation is mostly home to refineries, slums, and ore mines.
Finally, atop Praxos sits High Haven – the main seat of the Combine’s holdings aboard the station and where the main Praxos control centre is located. From the warehouse district along the docks, High Haven is accessible from a series of private lifts.
Even in the hustle and bustle of the piers, it’s clear that like the rest of Port Aquila, the docks are run by the Combine. Ahead, where the pier meets the main assembly areas, a security checkpoint screens those arriving and departing, checking logs and manifests for discrepancies and outstanding tariffs.
At the checkpoint, Arkady presents forged documents indicating their presence as a merchant envoy and the acolytes easily pass through the Combine’s screenings.
Once through, it becomes more evident that besides the Combine, many other guilds have holdings here. Large stamped guild crests mark various warehouses, storage yards, and small- to medium-size officios.
Additionally, towering over the landing areas, a large black structure looms, covered in arrays, spotlights, and a large aquila. It seems that even the Adeptus Arbites have a small contingent here.
Now, past the piers, merchant stalls are set up, attempting to make quick sales of goods and services to incoming visitors. Equipment, transportation, guides, and other forms of labour are readily available, for a price.
As they make their way through the crowds, Brenner stops and informs them that he must check in with the Combine and deliver his report. He wishes the party well and departs to High Haven.
The acolytes attempt to secure some transportation – an autocarriage and cycle. However, with a lack of credits on hand, they are forced to take the dirty and cramped public hab-conveyors.
They exit the transportation network in the very middle of Midstone, which, in turn, sits at the centre of Praxos. Surrounded on all sides by officios, guild halls, and hab blocks, Midstone is a sea of grey metal and rockcrete. Midstone’s many throughways, streets, and corridors are thick with foot and vehicle traffic as the masses come and go about their daily business. Over the streets hangs scaffolding, numerous walkways, and messes of cables and conduits. Every so often the passageways open to small courtyards, terraces, or public squares.
Using their assumed identities, the acolytes secure lodgings in a nondescript hab block.
Their first night’s sleep is uneasy, as many are still plagued with nightmares of the tunnel and of the Tyranid.
Ishamael takes time to ask the Emperor for guidance, seeking to read the ebbs and flows of the warp. He feels dread, knowing that Praxos is full of many evils. Catching brief glimpses of a woman taken, a man cleaved apart, and strange faces in the crowd, Ishamael knows that many challenges await.
Over the next two days, the acolytes canvas Midstone’s crowds, attempting to determine if there has been any news or rumours of their arrival. Although thorough, their inquiries are inconclusive.
Now, the acolytes set out upon their task – peering into the shadows hanging over Praxos.