After a few days of canvasing the crowds, the acolytes set out, trying to get a true lie of the land and acquire some much needed transportation.
From their cramped and simple dwellings, the party heads deeper into Midstone – to Praxos’ main market district. Like Midstone’s streets, the markets are full of traffic, both vehicular, as well as pedestrian. Most merchants occupy stalls littered across a large stone square as well as under the awnings and overhangs of the adjacent buildings. Other peddlers make their way among the crowds, carrying or towing their collections of trinkets, goods, or refreshments. The smell of sweat and smoke drifts over the press of bodies.
Arkady locates a simple outfitter, acquiring a set of armour for his compatriots.
Caradoc also makes his way among the stalls, attempting to locate some cranial armour to further reinforce the sturdy feudal warrior, Taeric. Familiar with the needed specifications of the augmentation, Caradoc finds a suitable piece and finalizes the transaction.
After a semi-successful day at the market, the group returns to their hab to discuss their next steps.
Felpox goes about setting up a small operating area and spends the next few days bolting the armour to Taeric’s skull. Packing and bandaging the wounds with mashed herbs and plant coverings, he keeps the warrior in a drugged daze, keeping watch for vengeful spirits and maintaining a vigil over Taeric’s condition and life signs.
Calidus, Caradoc, and Arkady head back to the market, finding a scrap dealer at the edge of the district. Arkady and Calidus bargain for a wrecked Hectin autocarriage, acquiring it as well as a Veloxic cycle. They limp the damaged carriage back to their hab, where Caradoc and Calidus spend the next few days repairing it back to working order. Calidus learns much from the talented servant of the Omnissiah, as they gut the vehicle and revamp the body work – turning the once enclosed civilian craft into a rugged open-topped high-capacity transport.
Over this week full of healing and repairs, Ishamael wanders Praxos’ crowds, probing the dock district and Midstone for rumours or other oddities. He discovers that not only are there constant rumours of disappearances in Praxos’ slums deep below in Foundation, but now there’s word that people are starting to go missing from Midstone itself.
After recovery, Taeric rejoins the rest of the party. Mounting their new vehicles, they return to the market once more, finally attempting to find Varl Krieger at one of his scheduled dead drops. Among the crowds, Calidus notices a solitary wandering figure vaguely matching Krieger’s description. Ishamael reaches out to the man’s mind, pushing a telepathic message that they have arrived by order of Valdane. Krieger departs down an alleyway, subtly motioning for the group to follow.
Rounding the corner, they find Krieger gripping what appears to be a weapon in his long storm cloak. He speaks a nonsensical phrase about some kind of “thirteenth sunrise.” Without hesitation, Caradoc replies an equally nonsensical sentence regarding the depth of the “ninth night”. As the acolytes realize that some kind of psycho conditioning has been hidden deep inside their minds during their indoctrinations aboard the Reliant Dawn, Krieger ushers them off the streets.
Krieger takes the party to a nondescript hab block some distance off of the main thoroughfares. Entering the hab, he takes a long look around before bringing the acolytes inside. Then, he sets security latches on the door and thumbs a small device sitting at the bottom of the frame. Walking over to the table, he reaches underneath and toggles yet another switch. Finally, he seems to relax.
From his clothing, he removes and stores his hidden weapons and gear and then pours a round of cold recaf. The acolytes drink slowly as they recount the details of the recent events of Tertia-12.
Krieger then explains the situation on Praxos, offering that there have been a number of disappearances over the last few weeks. Some of the victims have turned up, however, in pieces. Krieger has confirmed identities of a few from marks and names on their shredded up garments.
From what he can tell, there has been little to no pattern – the disappearances have been from both the slums in Foundation as well as a few from Midstone, mostly regular citizens with no personality issues, signs of addiction, or unsavory connections.
Krieger explains that due to his continued investigation of the Combine, he has yet had the chance to fully delve into the disappearances. Now that the acolytes have arrived, he can turn over his meager findings for them to use. Krieger produces a dataslate from a locked storage chest and slides it across the table. Lighting up the room, it shows the names and images of three individuals that have recently vanished:
The closest, geographically speaking, is a woman, 28, Seran Tellic, a mid-level Combine Adept or clerk. She defaulted on her payments for her hab in Midstone. Although no one has seen her for a while now, it wasn’t reported until recently.
The next is a man, Saul Barrow, 53, a worker in Foundation. They found what was left of him near the refinery in which he worked – Seisman Smeltery.
The last on the list is another man, 32, Callen Desun. Krieger is not sure where he lived. Desun was a low-level prospector that often did contracts with House Terryn. Terryn registered him as missing with the local Arbites – it seems like he owed them some money that they’re keen on collecting.
Having set the acolytes onto the most recent trails, Krieger he explains that he will resume his inquest into the Trade Combine’s operations on Praxos to determine if anything is connected. The acolytes explain that they have made their own contact, Dalsius Brenner. Krieger promises to keep a close eye on him, especially with Brenner aware that the Inquisition in operating on Praxos.
Using an address from Krieger’s notes, the acolytes begin by proceeding to the residence of Seran Tellic. Unlike other, higher-ranking members of the Combine, Tellic lives in Midstone. There, the acolytes find her thick, squat building off of one of the lesser highways. Climbing up a few flights of stairs, they arrive at her door, sealed.
Calidus picks the sturdy lock, opens the door, and is immediately hit with the smell of alcohol and stale air. Inside, Tellic’s small living quarters are a mess, with furniture and items knocked over haphazardly. After a cursory glance, it appears that there was some kind of struggle. The mattress is stained with urine and a few drops of blood. A bottle of amasec lays half broken behind a chair.
Ishamael sequesters himself in Tellic’s quarters, peering into the warp, hoping to catch a glimpse of what transpired. Like his vision from a few days before, he sees two robed figures coming to take away a terrified woman. She fights back, shattering a bottle over one of their faces. Furthermore, her own nails tear out while she tries to keep herself from being taken.
Before leaving Tellic’s hab, Calidus locates a cog token used to access to the lifts to High Haven, mostly likely where Tellic worked.
Next, the acolytes investigate the most recent registered address for Saul Barrow. Although they have the coordinates from Krieger’s information and a general idea of their locations, finding either in Foundation’s twisting, ramshackle press of buildings and its maze of dirty streets presents itself to be a challenge.
Eventually, they arrive at Barrow’s hovel, a small, crooked door along a dirt passageway. His address is scrawled upon the hatch in simple rust-coloured paint. The door is closed, as is a small window covered by oxidized metal shutters.
Once inside, they find that Saul Barrow’s domicile is a simple place, minimally furnished. Cracks of florescent light poke in through the shutters, lighting the dust hanging in the air. His bed is a thin mattress on a plain metal frame. In one corner of the room is a small oil furnace. Cooking utensils sit atop. On the other side stands a simple writing desk with a well-worn leather chair.
Inside the small desk the acolytes find a variety of letters and correspondences. The first appears to be some kind of letter from a local foundry’s union – the organization’s letterhead looks official enough. The note is short, simple, and to the point, explaining that now that “The Brotherhood” owns the Seisman Smeltery contract, there is nothing the union can do to aid in Barrow’s labour disputes.
The second letter is signed by Barrow himself. Scrawled on simple parchment, it’s addressed to an unnamed member of the Trade Combine. In the letter, Barrow complains about “The Brotherhood’s” monopoly on labour contracts and pleads with the Combine to intervene. He claims that he will soon start raising the matter to higher authorities.
The last is another message written by Barrow and addressed to his sister. He complains that he is being pressed out of the lucrative shifts and having a hard time making ends meet. He notes that he has vocally expressed his concerns and issues about what he calls “The Brotherhood”, but that he feels like he is mostly being ignored.
Finding no concrete evidence of Barrow’s disappearance or any wrong-doings, Ishamael once again stares into the Sea of Souls. Through alien eyes, he stalks past the belching steam vents and smoke stacks of Foundation’s tangled ceilings. Below, a man in workers’ garments leaves a facility. Following the worker from high above, Ishamael prowls down twisted and cramped corridors. Feeling nothing but searing hate and hunger, he leaps, tearing into the screaming man before the vision fades out – bearing striking similarities to his previous auguries.
Calidus finds a set of Seisman Smeltery workers’ coveralls and the acolytes depart Barrow’s abandoned hab.