The acolytes quickly make a plan to cover their tracks. At first, they debate the possibility of damaging the exterior hatch, creating an explosive decompression and sending evidence of the hybrids into the void. Although potentially effective, the acolytes determine that it would risk damaging a large part of Foundation – drawing unwanted attention to their activities.
Instead, they choose to cleanse the area with flames, hoping to make their fight look like an underworld struggle gone wrong.
Before setting fire to the building, the acolytes harvest the most incriminating pieces from the hybrids’ bodies. If needed, they now have physical evidence of the horrors transpiring deep within Praxos.
Furthermore, Calidus retrieves a transponder from their rented cutter and stashes himself in an abandoned hab across the abandoned street. This way, the acolytes will be able to find their way back from within Praxos and Calidus can keep a vigilant eye in case more of the xenos abominations return to their slaughtered kin.
Once ready, Caradoc shoots open the building’s lock from the outside and Ishamael starts the inferno. Quickly retreating down the rocky tunnel, the acolytes don their void suits and make their way back to their vessel.
After a short voyage, they return to the dock district. Still believing their hab to be compromised, the acolytes mount up aboard their vehicles and head to Krieger’s domicile. This evening, however, Krieger is joined by Murco – an aged Valhallan acolyte that the party had encountered previously aboard the Reliant Dawn.
The acolytes brief the two senior agents on what they have discovered, presenting the evidence of xenos-human hybrids and of an organized human-trafficking operation.
During these conversations, the acolytes realize that out of all of those having disappeared, the Combine adept Seran Tellic is an outlier. They ask Krieger to investigate the nature of Tellic’s work in High Haven, hoping that it will lend some insight into her kidnapping. Furthermore, the acolytes turn over Seran Tellic’s access cognomen for the High Haven lifts – understanding that Krieger has a resource that can adapt the gene-coded device to one of their own signatures.
The acolytes spend the night on Krieger’s floor. Murco keeps an uneasy watch over the door.
During the evening, Caradoc convenes with a stubborn machine spirit, decrypting part of the dataslate recovered from the now-deceased owner of the Praxos-Urquain Geological Services. He finds that the coded one-way messages are being sent to a small relay station in Foundation.
Hoping to draw out other hybrids or perhaps even a more sinister foe, Arkady crafts a fake message, posing as the merchant and asking for an emergency meeting the next night.
To help in the success of their planned ambush, the acolytes also decide to recruit an impoverished worker – using him to tip off Praxos’ Combine enforcers that a major illegal weapons deal will be occurring at the same time and place as that just sent by Arkady.
After a brief morning meal, Arkady heads out and beings spreading a network of misinformation and lies throughout Foundation – obfuscating any details regarding the previous evening’s firefight and tenement fire.
The rest of the party heads to markets to refresh their supplies – purchasing a bulk order of microbeads – greatly increasing the group’s short range communication capabilities.
Before the evening cycle returns, the acolytes recover Calidus and brief him of their plan. Hoping that the hybrids have taken the fake meeting as bait, they will use the ensuing chaos of the Combine enforcers’ raid to capture one of their enemies for interrogation. With Murco, they prepare the meeting place – an abandoned building – and rig it with numerous explosive charges in case the plan goes south.
The acolytes wait in hiding until the prescribed time. Although any hybrids fail to show up, a large patrol of Combine enforcers ends up storming the building. Reading their lips, Calidus determines that the enforcers have found nothing and have determined that the situation is a false alarm.
The party is dismayed by the failure of their plan, wondering if their forged message was convincing enough.
Uncertain about their next steps, the acolytes decide to split up.
Arkady and Calidus head to the relay station in Foundation to determine the ultimate destination or recipient of their dataslate’s previously sent messages. Taeric, Ishamael, and Caradoc head back to House Terryn to inform them of the results of their investigation into the missing prospector Desun. Felpox returns to Krieger’s to study the hybrid’s harvested corrosive bile and glands.
Tracing the coordinates that Caradoc provided, Arkady and Calidus eventually locate the small vox relay. Inside the cramped and cluttered officio, they attempt to convince the clerk to give them access to the relay’s encrypted repositories. With the right amount of currency smoothing over his conscience, the clerk is ultimately assuaged, providing the two acolytes with the information they desire.
Navigating through numerous records, Arkady sees that the merchant’s message are deleted a few days after each one has been marked as read by the intended recipient. Arkady locates the acolytes’ own false message, seeing that it was accepted, processed, and received.
Among the messages in the relay repository are a few with a high-level Combine cypher. Breaking the code, Arkady discovers that a source inside High Haven provided the recipients with an advanced warning of the Combine raid. Additionally, the source informs the recipients that an Imperial investigation may be responsible for the safe house fire in Foundation.
Yet again, the conspiracy grows.
Meanwhile, the acolytes at House Terryn inform the guild officers that although Desun has fled, they have recovered most of the funds he had been given. House Terryn’s representative is grateful, promising that should it ever be required, he is more than happy to return the favour.
Meeting up, the acolytes again return to Krieger’s for a briefing. Informing him of a Combine connection, Krieger is remarkably unsurprised. He informs the group of his own findings – Tellic was working in an anti-corruption department of the Combine. The acolytes realize that it is likely that Tellic got too close to whatever or whoever has been involved.
Needing time to collect their thoughts and plan a new course of action, Calidus departs, deciding to check on their hab and to determine what has happened to the address that they passed on to the now-deceased merchant. Making the short journey on his veloxic cycle, Calidus checks the perimeter of the building for any suspicious activity. Reasonably confident that he isn’t being surveilled, Calidus stalks his way inside and up the few flights of stairs to their hab level.
Predictably, he finds that the address the acolytes provided has been broken into. Calidus quietly and carefully enters the abode, finding a single body in the middle of the room – torn open by some kind of razor sharp weapon.