Valdane's Chronicles

Shadows Over Praxos - Part 6

K. Durano and the two faces of Dalsius Brenner.

Besides the body on the floor, Calidus sees no further signs of struggle – the attack was brutally rapid. Although Calidus is unable to discern exactly what weapon caused the fatal wound, the victim’s congealed blood informs him that the attack took place some time ago.

Returning to Krieger’s, the acolytes pass another restless night.

Without answers, the acolytes decide that Krieger should use his access to High Haven to find Brenner in order to set up a meeting – hopefully he can provide some kind of additional insight or clues into the events aboard Praxos.

In the meantime, the acolytes return to the vox relay station in Foundation. Finding no new communiqués, they copy all the data they can. Scanning through the merchant’s records and sent messages, Caradoc finds the names of two other missing prospectors.

Ishamael splits from the group, looking into these new leads. Finding their habs, the story is familiar – low level prospectors had obtained survey contracts for the Understone. Like Desun, they have vanished without a trace.

The group returns to the docks, searching out the local Adeptus Administratum Officio. The small edifice is poorly lit. The meager candlelight and ancient glow-globes barely light the dust hanging in the air. Two ancient scribes and a handful of servitors wander the stacks of tomes and spools of parchment, moving records back and forth, correlating data, and logging mountains of new entries.

The acolytes manage to get their help, beginning a search for any records of K. Durano and Severus Onan – the first disappearance from Tertia-12.

Severus Onan yields no information, as no such records exists.

Ishamael reaches into the scribe’s aged mind, attempting to discern whether or not he is withholding the truth. After so many exhausting days and sleepless nights of travel and investigation, the unfocused Ishamael loses his grip on reality. For only a moment, the barrier between reality and the Warp weakens. The stacks of records and books shake violently as realspace begins to peel slowly away. Many inside the officio are knocked off their feet. Ishamael regains focus.

Knowing now that the scribes are telling the truth, the acolytes assume that Severus Onan must be one of a few forged identities used to spread the genestealer taint.

Although unsettled by the bizarre station-quake, the scribes continue their work, pulling all records for K. Durano. Thankfully, they find only one – a woman, now thirty-seven years of age, born in Foundation. The acolytes find her last known address of habitation as well as the report of her disappearance three weeks ago.

Deep in Foundation, the acolytes manage to locate Durano’s address. The hab is occupied – a faint flickering glow spills from the dirty viewports and out into the desolate street. The acolytes knock on the door, meeting Durano’s brother Cheg. He welcomes the acolytes inside, hoping that they may be able to help him determine his sister’s whereabouts.

Cheg explains that Killian was a welder down in the mines. After being laid off, she had joined the Brotherhood of Praxos. Although she had reservations – noting their odd behavior – she believed that they were her only way of making a living or getting a hot meal. Shortly after, she went missing, having simply failed to come home after one work cycle.

With the night cycle settling in around Foundation, the acolytes return to their borrowed homestead.

During the night, Krieger returns, explaining that Brenner was absent from his post today. Although Krieger searched for him, he had no luck in locating the missing adept. Inquiring with Brenner’s superiors, Krieger learned that Brenner’s behavior over the last few days had been erratic.

Now, with Brenner’s disappearance, the acolytes worry that he too has been kidnapped. They believe that perhaps, like Tellic, Brenner may have come too close to the corruption within the Combine and the truth behind the Praxos’ hidden heresies.

With a convincing story, the acolytes gain access to the private High Haven lifts and journey up to the top of Praxos. As they exit the lift, it’s immediately obvious just how remarkably wealthy High Haven is.

Great ceilings arch hundreds of metres overhead with large viewports looking out into the void beyond. The rest of High Haven’s ceiling is covered with sophisticated photo panels, displaying beautiful renderings of a serene sky. Massive glow globes high above create the illusion of numerous small suns beaming down onto the various esplanades and streets sprawling out from the lift exit.

Using Krieger’s intel, the acolytes manage to locate Brenner’s residence – the small villa appears to be untouched. The acolytes make their way down a rear alleyway and silently force their way inside. Scanning the finely furnished chambers, the acolytes notice that many garments and pieces of luggage are missing.

Now suspicious and confused, Caradoc attempts to access Brenner’s holo-table and cogitator. Communing with the encrypted machine spirits contained within, Caradoc gains access to all of the adept’s files. Among them, Caradoc finds copies of personnel logs, including Tellic and other members of the Combine’s anti-corruption bureau. Additionally, Brenner has been monitoring Combine enforcement vox channels and other encrypted communications sent from the terminal match those intercepted at the vox relay.

Lastly, scanning Brenner’s credit accounts, the acolytes discover that he has withdrawn large amounts of funds to purchase currencies for many of Port Aquila’s neighboring worlds.

Not only is Brenner the Combine mole, but he’s now also on the run.

Using the terminal’s built in vox, the acolytes warn Krieger that Brenner is attempting to escape Praxos Station – if he hasn’t already. Krieger and Murco scramble to intercept him at the docks.

Before departing, the acolytes syphon Brenner’s remaining funds, laundering the credit through Arkady’s various familial holdings. They also take numerous works of art and tapestries to use later in battering efforts.

Heading back down to the docks, the acolytes set out to find the local Adeptus Arbites precinct. The armoured edifice towers over the surrounding warehouses and landing grounds. Covered in arrays and spotlights, it looms over those coming and going from Praxos’ ports. Inside, the precinct is a whirlwind of activity as numerous adepts scramble to process incoming logs and data.

The Chief Judge welcomes the acolytes and explains that Krieger and Murco have already enlisted his aid. The half-dozen Arbitrators under his command have already been deployed to the docks with the two senior acolytes – hoping that they still have a chance to catch Brenner.

The acolytes give over their electronic and physical evidence in hopes that it may speed the Arbites’ efforts. With curious glances, the Chief Judge’s senior staff take possession of the remnants of the slain hybrids’ bodies.

The acolytes radio Krieger, hoping to get an update. Krieger tells them to get down to the docks to aid in the search and to strengthen their cordon.

The acolytes get as close as possible to the piers, but the thick crowds force them to dismount their vehicles and proceed on foot. Fully armed, they begin making their way through the clutter of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Suddenly, numerous gunshots ring out from deep within the district. Mass panic errupts. Straining against the crushing wave of bodies attempting to flee, the acolytes push deeper into the crowd.

The acolytes’ microbeads crackle to life with the sound of Krieger’s labored breathing.

“I think we’ve got him cornered.”

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