Havelas wakes up in a life-size replica of a Tranvielle-IV Miekshell (a large mollusc-like sea-creatures hardened exoskeleton) filled with Druxagne (the 792, if his nose is not deceiving him). Entwined in his limbs is a still sleeping young girl with jet-black hair, of whom Havelas has no recollection. Looking around, he finds himself in the centrepiece of a large lounge, rich tapestries and marble stone lit by honest-to-Emperor sunlight filtered in through windows set in one wall. Wherever he is, it must be pretty high up and a pretty expensive place, that much is certain.
Havelas looks around, as he tries to remember how he got here. To his right he sees another beautiful young girl, hung by wrist-chains from the roof high above. She appears awake but somehow not quite there. A drowsy smile plays upon her lips as her head lolls back and forth, her long blonde hair hanging down below her generous bosom. Havelas tilts his head and concentrates. He remembers her face (and some other parts), but can’t place her name. Havelas climbs down from the decorative fountain he has spent the night (or at least part of the morning) in, and almost slips in a small pool of what must be blood. There is no sign of whom it might have come from. To his left along the wall are statues of people Havelas imagines must be very important, or at least like to think so themselves. One of the statues has a large erect phallus, that now wears an inflatable grox. Havelas experiences some instant recollections involving that grox, but forces the memories away.
Everywhere he looks there are scattered articles of fine clothing, including some improbable looking shoes and masks. In a corner lies a pretty boy with dark curls and long lashes, drowsing on a transparent body-moulding bag of some sort of gelatinous materials. He smiles and looks at Havelas through half-closed eyes, and mutters “You are crazy, man. Craa-zy…”
A tall set of ornate double-doors open, and a tall woman on impossible stiletto heels stride in. She wears nothing, and wears it well, her dark red hair flowing behind her as her hard blue eyes lock on Havels. In her right hand she holds a feline mask, and in her other a neurowhip, the sparkling tendrils trailing on the floor behind her.
“Oh, is my little egghead darling ready for some more?”
Apparently he was. A while later, and thoroughly exhausted, Havelas finally remembers her name: Lady Beatrix IV of House Catallus.
Later that evening, Havelas has managed to extract himself and finds himself back at the Valen-Zenith Hegemony’s Malfian conclave, speaking with Castus and Uthak. Uthak has shown touching concern, and seemed worried that Havelas had been away without word for more than a week. ‘Has it been that long?’, he wonders to himself. It’s a blur: Parties and soirées, grav-diving from the spires and other dangerous extreme-sports, jetracing, hunting (mostly mutated wildlife in the underhives, but also some dreg and other low-life scum down there that provide some sport by actually shooting back), more carousing and lots and lots of young, nubile, delicious women. And a few boys too…
Still, he has something to show for his efforts: Rumours, gossip and information.
Partying amongst the decadent nobles has revealed a great multitude of “secret societies” and clubs. Something for all sorts of special interest groups, and for those with a general desire for mystique. These are obviously things one are not supposed to talk about, but which exist in order to have something to talk about. But while most are harmless pastimes, some are whispered to be more than that: Some have real power, their members controlling high position in Malfis governing bodies. Others are fronts for more sinister cults, from proscribed splinters of the Imperial Creed to other altogether different purposes. Malfi seems to be infested with secret groups and cabals, turning on each other and hiding ever more layers of secrets within secrets.
Also, the business elite are concerned with a possible new player in the game. Someone is lobbying and maneuvering, and while the activities appear innocent and unrelated at first glance, a pattern can be discerned by a trained eye. But it links to no known group. Examples include certain shifts of power within PDF and Enforcer organizations, which while not precisely glorious and enviable are nonetheless of some importance to the Hive and Malfi.
GMs note: You may choose what you wish to share with your team, and what you keep to yourself.
Castus mentions his intentions to conduct investigations in the Underhive, and requests your assistance. Uthak shrugs and says “Sure”, but Havelas wrinkles his nose in contempt and says the filthy dregs can all go to hell for all he cares. He leaves the other scum-lovers to it, and walks of to wet his throat.
Some time later, Castus calls him to his suite, where he shares more news.
Castus: “I just received some messages from our brother Warn. He seems to require our aid in a matter that happens to coincide with my own matters. A happy coincidence.” He shows you a datapad with the messages:
“Been in discussions with House Greim and House Cawdor regarding possible expeditions of discovery into ancient artefacts in the subhive. Any information you may uncover relating to a lost Manufactoria in the Scarlus sector is of relevance to me. Keep a low profile…”
“In conjunction with Brutus and House Cawdor/Greim, we will start the search for the lost city of Scarlantis, beginning with the search for the lost outpost of Kastormore – that may (or may not) be close to Ash Falls. Any help, advise or your participation to this end is welcomed”.
Castus: “The Tech-Priest has also been practising his superb social skills, and has made some mighty enemies. He could most definitely use our help. Take a look at this”
He produces a holo-scroll addressed to Castus. Unrolling the scroll, a 3-dimensional display is projected from an unseen emitter in the scroll-works, and Havelas is presented with a Contract.
Att: Adjudicator Conslusivas Octius
Subj: Priority Commision and Long-term Patronage Opportunity
You have been carefully selected as one of a select few candidates with potential for compact-partnership with the glorious House Ran-lo. As an individual of great skill and resourcefulness, our eye has noted with approval your performance and effectiveness in dealing with stalled compact negotiations and sensitive management restructuring. Independent sources also affirm this evaluation, and it it with confidence that House Ran-lo invite you to participate in this Commission of Induction.
House Ran-lo, most ancient, venerable and honourable of Houses on Malfi, Defender of the Faith, Patron of Artis Majoris, has for millennia been the cornerstone of culture and industry on Malfi. Holder of the ancient Writs of Forge, Ran-lo has been the foundation upon which Hive Primus is built. Long and venerable tradition…
GMs note: The list goes on for a considerable length describing the excellence of House Ran-lo, leaving no room for mistake as to which house all glory and respect belongs. Havelas skips ahead to the interesting bits.
… as the Rock upon which this Temple is built.
Now is your chance to share this glory, as an auxiliary to House Ran-lo and a trusted friend. Be the one to complete this Commission, beat your rivals and fellow candidates and prove your superiority in the field, and you can be assured of a long and fruitful working relationship with the grandest of grand Houses.
A deadly insult has been made, which must be addressed without delay or restraint. Having publicly scorned the generous offers made by House Ran-lo, and tarnished our great image and reputation, the Client of the Commission has aligned himself with the treacherous dogs of insignificant House Greim and their lackeys of House Cawdor. Having carried out acts of sabotage and espionage, this Renegade Tech-Adept, whom we have on good authority is a wanted Heretek and Renegade of the Honourable Mechanicus, is planning an unauthorized mission of exhumation in the territories of our great and illustrious past.
Be the Agent of Justice, and correct this atrocity. Bring this Magos Warn Borg (who is believed to be associating with Xenos and Witches) to conclusion of his toils, and aid the efforts of the Righteous House Ran-lo.
We will contact you upon successful completion of this Commssion.
Castus closes the scroll, and puts it back in his coat. He smiles grimly and states “We leave tomorrow”.
Havelas is reluctantly convinced to come along, as a favour to noble House Greim and to protect his fellow egghead.
GMs note: Any preparations for en expedition into the underhive must be taken now. What gear do you bring?