Somewhat dismayed by the lack of any solid evidence, the acolytes depart Barrow’s hab. With the start of Praxos’ coming night-cycle beginning to take hold of Foundation, they navigate their way back to the massive lift and return to Midstone.
They search out Krieger’s domicile, looking to gain more information about the “Brotherhood” and their supposed ties into Foundation’s labour movements. Reaching the senior agent’s hab, they find the door locked and without answer. Although they think of breaking into the hab, the acolytes decide against it – knowing that Krieger’s slightly paranoid nature and fondness for gadgets could well translate into the presence of unseen booby-traps.
Instead, the acolytes return to the market district to leave Krieger a dead-dropped message – a request to meet the next morning.
The acolytes pass an uncomfortably cold, dark night in their meager accommodations.
With the returning illumination of the station’s fluorescents and the restarting of the station’s heaters and recirculators marking a new dawn, the acolytes return to the market yet again. Purchasing new bedding and ration packs, the acolytes load up their autocarriage and return back to Krieger’s.
The Interrogator bids them welcome and the two groups brief each other on their progress. Krieger has continued to dig into the Combine’s operations without much luck. Mostly, he has kept an eye on Brenner, whose behavior has regularized into a set working routine in High Haven.
In lieu of a long explanation of the last few day’s events and investigations, Ishamael quickly relays the details and his visions through a telepathic exchange. Krieger agrees with the acolytes’ assessments that there is likely Genestealer involvement in Barrow’s gruesome murder.
Furthermore, Krieger affirms that “the Brotherhood” is The Brotherhood of Praxos, a recently-formed fraternal organization that helps provide basic sustenance as well as helping resolve labor disputes on behalf of the working classes. The Brotherhood has started making inroads into Foundation’s various refineries and mines and has begun taking over a few minor labour contracts.
The acolytes set a meeting time with Krieger for the next night and decide to set out and gather information on their last outstanding victim – the low-level prospector Callen Desun.
To find his trail, they search out a merchant that may have ties to House Terryn, the prospector guild that reported Desun missing. Calidus manages to locate a dealer of tapestries, pottery, and fineries that seems to be of a slightly higher standing than the other merchants in the district.
Calidus and Ishamael claim to be visiting merchants representing House Arkady who are seeking to purchase a suitable gift for House Terryn and to set up delivery of the aforementioned purchase.
Among the available goods, Ishamael notices a bizarre, asymmetrical pot. The merchant explains that the piece is Glavian, from the Scarus sector – a fine example of their exquisite craftsmanship that is a few hundred years old.
Calidus attempts to make the purchase on credit, but as House Arkady is a new arrival in the Askellon Sector, he is forced to use hard currency and a trade of the exquisite Combine chrono recovered from Seran Tellic’s residence.
As the rotund merchant finalizes the agreement on his dataslate, Calidus glances over to see House Terryn’s coordinates brought up on screen. Calidus and Ishamael inform the merchant that they have changed their minds, deciding to take the pottery themselves.
The acolytes find House Terryn located in Midstone, on the cusp of Magnutia Gardens, Midstone’s artificial biome. This surrounding area is taken by guilds and merchant houses too wealthy to brush shoulders with unwashed masses, but not wealthy enough to warrant a permanent stead in High Haven. Gilded double doors and double wide blast windows decorate a mostly stone-grey façade. A large crest of an equine creature and a carrion bird looms over the entryway.
Inside, unlike most guild offices, House Terryn is rather utilitarian. Simple workstations and large cogitators are positioned about the room. A mess of papers, geological samples, and dataslates are stacked high atop most. A few figures in simple uniforms turn their heads as the acolytes walk in. One approaches, a mid-aged man with scruffy, bronze-coloured hair that introduces himself as Quinten Marus, Chief of Terryn Prospecting for the Southern Field.
Having formed a suitable cover story, the acolytes inform Marus that they are sanctioned bounty hunters that have been hired to locate Desun. They ask for any details regarding his whereabouts.
Marus explains that Desun’s name is familiar to him, and that Terryn is looking for the prospector as well. He explains that Desun had acquired a down payment to do a geological survey and assessment of some rock formation on the underside of Praxos – and area know as the Understone.
Although it is normally rare that prospectors are willing to work on the underside of an asteroid – as superstitions state that any that try will fall off into the void – Desun was one of the few that was willing and Terryn had successfully worked with him in the past. Now, it seems like he has pocketed his down payment and ran.
Marus informs the acolytes that House Terryn had even sent a collections team to Desun’ residence without any luck. Finally, Marus offers a finder’s fee if the acolytes can recover Terryn’s lost funds. The acolytes collect the prospector’s address and depart.
Desun’s hab block is located in one of Midstone’s poorer districts, close to the Foundation Lift. It is a squat, grey building among a sea of squat grey buildings. At the top of a few flights of stairs, they find his chambers, locked.
Calidus heads further up and scopes out the roof, seeking a method to possibly enter Desun’ hab from an exterior window if the situation so requires. Caradoc instead focuses on the door’s sturdy locks, eventually opening the entryway after a few attempts. Unlike Tellic’s hab, Desun’s appears to be untouched, with nothing appearing amiss or out of the ordinary.
Among the prospector’s papers, the acolytes find an invoice for the hiring of a small surveyor’s cutter from the Praxos-Urquain Geological Services. It appears that Desun had made a payment for half of the required amount – with the second half due upon completion of the trip.
As another false morning arrives, the acolytes track down Praxos-Urquain among the many terminals and warehouses of the dock district. The front half of the diminutive officio housing the firm is an open stall, allowing customers and new clients to quickly interface with the rotund figure manning the location.
The acolytes inquire about Desun’s business and the owner claims that the prospector had paid for Praxos-Urquian’s services, scheduled the flight, logged the flight plan, but never showed up.
As such, the acolytes convince the purveyor to return the credits to House Terryn and to allow them to take over Desun’s flight plan. They register their details and secure their flight – providing their address as that of the hab next to their own.
As they finalize the paperwork, the merchant explains that a shuttle won’t be ready until the next day.
Ishamael and the others sense some unease in the man’s words. Suspicious of a lie, the acolytes step aside to discuss the matter. Deciding that the merchant may be playing a role in Praxos’ disappearances, Ishamael forces his way into the man’s panicked mind, showing him the horrible damage that the psyker can inflict.
As Ishamael telepathically threatens a horrific fate, Calidus quickly and quietly slips inside the officio’s back rooms. Calidus makes his way to the front of the stall, grabbing the man and pulling him into the back storage area to question him.
The frightened merchant breaks down and explains that some odd looking fellows offered him payments if he provided information regarding prospectors that were planning on performing any surveys of the Understone.
The merchant claims that he has only provided this information a few times, and this is the first where the prospector never showed up for his scheduled flight.
Furthermore, the merchant explains that he sends these messages to a secure one-way channel. He includes flight details, information about the prospectors, their addresses, and everything else available – as he has now done with the acolytes’ information mere moments ago. Although he never gets answers back, the odd men later show up to collect more information and deliver payment.
With the required information in hand, the acolytes force the purveyor to ensure that their flight is booked with sufficient equipment aboard.
Deciding that the nervous merchant could potentially compromise their investigation, the acolytes gag and bind him to a chair with strips of torn cloth. The acolytes then exit out the back of the room as Ishamael taps into the warp and sets fire to the man.
The merchant’s muffled screams and the crackling of Ishamael’s wych-fyre are easily overwhelmed by the numerous and varied sounds of Praxos’ busy piers and void docks.
The acolytes slip deep into the dense crowds as the psychic fire begins to spread throughout Praxos-Urquain’s storage rooms and document archives. The acolytes close in on their rented shuttle as the first wisps of smoke begin to escape from the officio’s sealed doors.
As the acolytes greet their pilot and mount up aboard the cutter, panic begins to grip parts of the crowds. Emergency crews begin filing through the crowds, making their way to the rapidly-engulfed building.
The acolytes’ pilot – unaware of the tragedy that has just befallen his employer – maneuvers the craft from the landing pads and out of Praxos’ large void gates.
As the fires flicker behind their speeding craft, the acolytes inspect their new gear and make ready for the darkness of the Understone.