Digging in the Dirt

There is no substitute for zeal!
— Evocation to the Immortal Emperor

Sent down by Inquisitor Astrid Skane to investigate Ysai Ydumi and the mass disappearances of members of noble entourages (but not of the nobles themselves), Jack finds himself in need of backup and sends out for help. A few days later, Arbitrator Aenid Fraal, Psyker Xanthia, Cleric Atellus and Commissar Cadet Calpurnia Jemadar land on the planet, posing as the entourage of “Baron Skane”, with word to meet Jack at Food Dispenser 628.

Calpurnia intimidates a little bureaucrat into giving them directions and finding them a guide. The guide, who was the fastest of many vagrants to reach for a couple of Thronegelts (coins), is called Pretty Boy; he was once part of the entourage of Lord Heran from Scintilla but was thrown out with the rest of his group to earn a living hunting for ancient Eldar artifacts. It seems that’s what happens to all new arrivals - including our heroes - as soon as they arrive; they are fitted with a communication manacle and thrown out of the Port into the City to scrounge.

Pretty Boy guides the group to Food Dispenser 628 in a shantytown five miles from the Port, and they meet up with a decoy selected by Jack. They observe scavengers dumping bits of Eldar dross into a food dispenser, have them appraised, and receive food in exchange. Once Jack is satisfied these people are not here to kill him, he reveals the subterfuge and they compare notes on the situation.

Outside Jack’s tent there is a scream. The jumpy investigators rush out to find half a dozen toughs shaking Pretty Boy up for his coins. They leader pokes Pretty Boy’s eye out before anyone has time to stop him. The investigators rapidly rout the thugs, especially after Aenid crushes one’s head with the butt of her shotgun; they keep a couple to interrogate. They also end up collecting a gaggle of frightened people wanting their protection. Alas, Pretty Boy dies of his injuries.

They learn the following:

  1. New arrivals are dumped by their lords to search for Eldar junk, mostly bits of apparel, but the materials that are highly prized are the occasional items made of a bone-like material that reportedly “sing into the head” of anyone who comes in contact with them (obviously heretical, tainted artifacts).
  2. People who have no communication manacle are second-generation (or more), born on this planet.
  3. Digging is for newbies. The more efficient way to make a profit is to gang up and shake diggers for their finds or food.
  4. The area around Food Dispenser 628 is pretty much played out; people expect that vague Planetary Authorities will soon move the dispensers to another location - a rare event that has not happened here in decades.
  5. The thugs who killed Pretty Boy are part of the Red Thumbs, a group of perhaps 600 bravos led by Torgo, a fearsome brute who reportedly uses Eldar artifacts to bolster his power. The only way to the top is to defeat Torgo in single combat. Most Thumbs are armed only with clubs, etc.
  6. The Red Thumbs’ rivals are another gang, the Blood Fleas, led by Thorne. They are fewer, don’t have any Eldar artifacts, and are less gratuitously bloodthirsty - more Mafia-like - but have the use of some modern Imperium weaponry.
  7. Thorne is reputed to have a plan to handle the next migration accompanying the food dispenser move. Normally, it’s a time of terrible hunger and cannibalism, since there is nothing edible to humans on the planet, but it’s said that Thorne has a plan to avoid the famine and unpleasantness.

The investigators need confirmation of any heretical acts or any activities against the Emperor’s rule. They vaguely form a proto-plan that will need refinement but revolves around:

  1. Jack using his abilities at infiltration to uncover the planetary authorities’ involvement, and advanced information about the upcoming move of the food dispensers.
  2. The rest using their brutally straightforward approach to impress Thorne, form an alliance if possible - or take over the Blood Fleas otherwise - then leverage this to get close to Torgo and assess the nature of the Eldar taint.
  3. As bargaining chips with Thorne are their weapons and training in using them, possible information about the Move, and the chance to get Torgo out of the way.
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