The Munchkins of the Ordo Lootus set their affairs in order on Malfi, and agreed (reluctantly) to work with the Acolytes formerly in the service of Inquisitor Virinar. You know nothing of their work on Sinophia, save that you are requested “not to blow up the House of Dervus”. After reporting to Inquisitor Sand, the group were ordered to Cyclopea to aid an ongoing purge there. The journey was cut short by a priority Astropathic message, which rerouted you to Sinophia with new orders. See attached Mission Briefing. Clever minds deduce that this re-routing might be deliberate subterfuge designed to hide your mission there from other inquisitive eyes.
A Rainy Arrival
Landing on Sinophia to a grey torrent of rain, you are met by nobody, your arrival unexpected. Making your way towards the Arbites precinct in a borrowed motors kiff along the waterways (the mai road was out, blocked by a collapsed arteria bridge) you blunder into an ongoing firefight between an armoured transport barge and an attacking band of pirates. You fend off the raiders, and are thanked by the somewhat surprised guards in the service of House Maywroth.
The Haarlocks Folly
“People keep on seeing strange, unearthly lights around the Haarlock’s Folly at night. That whole headlands is haunted and accursed.”
The Arbites have moved into the old abandoned tower after their previous fortress was destroyed in the Empty Men incident. For information on the tower, and the incident, see the Sinophia document attached. You are met by Fihad Constantine, Adjutant to the Arbites Proctor Marshal of Sinophia, who informs you that yet another murder has occured mere hours ago. He has sealed the crime-scene, and it awaits your examination.
The Corpse of Bal Grey
Bal Grey is the latest victim of the mysterious attackers, slain only hours before the Acolytes’ arrival in orbit. Bal Grey was trusted muscle and a reliable fence for the Undertow, and one of their junior bosses, a so-called Rag Baron. He lived and died in a rundown hab at the edge of the infamous District XIII of Sinophia Magna. The Acolytes arrive in a narrow street in District XIII, which is lined on both sides with moulding garrets. It is close to the river; a light mist is rising, and the air is scented with damp and the smell of stale food. The road is sealed off by an armoured unit of Adeptus Arbites. The body of Bal Grey is in his tworoom hab on the fourth floor. Block residents have been ordered to stay in their habs, and little can be heard but the growl of the Arbites Rhino, which has its engine running and its pintlemounted heavy stubber manned in preparation for trouble. The fourth floor is splattered with dried blood; there are still chunks of flesh on the floor of the landing, and one of the three doors stands open. The smell is horrific. Inside Grey’s hab unit, the corpse is twisted across the centre of the floor. It is clad only in a pair of dirty military fatigue trousers. A discarded pump shotgun with a mangled barrel lies on the floor next to it. The cause of death is clear: The corpse’s head and chest have been smashed in and the left arm ripped out of its socket, and the blood pooled on the floor is slowly congealing in a halo around it. A pair of old PDF dog tags confirms the corpse’s identity as Bal Grey.
The reinforced wooden door of the hab has been broken through with brute force, and the chains and locks have been smashed away from their mountings. There are two rooms within, a bedroom and a tiny bathroom, and the hab unit shows signs of both a struggle and a hasty, crude search by the attackers. There is a mattress on the floor of the bedroom and a promethium burner in the corner. A few books and a copy of the Imperial Infantryman’s Uplifting Primer had been stacked neatly on a small set of shelves. Marks from shotgun fire can be seen around the door. From the door to the centre of the room, a dozen empty shell cases litter the floor, and the room still stinks of gunfire. An old ammunition box lies open on the floor near an open hole in the floor where the boards have been pulled up. The box is filled with soiled and damp cartel bonds and a few Imperial Thrones. A piece of thick red fabric that had been clearly wrapped around something now lies discarded next to the ammo box. You also found a dozen vials of Ghostfire Pollen Extract (see page 184 of The Inquisitor’s Handbook for details)
In an alleyway outside the house, a second mutilated body has been found whose condition represents another mystery of its own. Clearly showing the marks of multiple shotgun blasts, it lays untouched and guarded by an Arbitrator. Anyone who stops to examine it notices that the flesh of the corpse is greenish and slightly bloated, as if the corpse had been dead for more than a few hours, and surprisingly little blood is on the body or ground around it.
Proper medical examination reveals a good deal more: The corpse died at least three days ago. The shotgun blasts that felled it were both much more recent and, curiously, post mortem. Two or more Degrees of Success reveals that the arms and hands are covered in bloodless cuts and splintered wood. You also find a series of strange marks cut into the corpse’s flesh around the base of its neck, as well as the presence of what appear to be extensive stitched wounds.
Back at the Folly, Biologis-Adept Lecto Talanis identifies the body as one recently processed, and autopsy reports confirm that the corpse was that of a recent murder victim gunned down in the current troubles and taken to the Arbites mortuary.
The Current Situation
Sinophia Magna is in a state of rising tension caused by the recent murders of members of the nobility and Undertow. The anticipation of an impending open war between the criminal underworld and the Enforcers who serve the nobility is palpable.
“Three people have died in the last week in horrible circumstances that defy imagination; apparently the last ripped himself apart, and the Arbites are trying to cover it up.”
Initial facts suggest that the assailants are phenomenally strong and are able to jam surveillance gear and move unseen through the city.
Both members of the Sinophian nobility and leading members of the Undertow have become victims of these murders.
The uneasy truce between the Undertow and the Nobility is being threatened by increasing tensions thanks to the recent murders. Vox traffic is being jammed, random raids by the Enforcers are increasing, and cargo and assets belonging to the nobles are being attacked and stolen.
The animated corpses of the attackers have autopsy scars as well as sorcerous marks cut into their dead flesh.
Bal Grey had a former rival and sometime business partner, Juvinal Priator, from which he “got paid off with something flat all wrapped up in red cloth”. He is a somewhat infamous figure with a reputation as a slaver, killer, and warp dabbler known to both the Enforcers and the Adeptus Arbites.