Keepers of the Faith

The most dangerous weapon ever produced is faith!
— Evocation to the Immortal Emperor

The acolytes look up the two surviving officers of the 212th Volg Volunteers; Lt. Yancio now runs a Lower Hive tavern and Captain Kastler is a mid-level administrator in a processing plant. The acolytes suggest to Proctor Blando that they should be brought in for questioning at the same time, but without seeing one another.

They look like classic Imperial Guard veterans who have seen extensive action. Yancio has an augmentic eye, while Kastler has many more augmentics (arm, leg, guts tubes, etc.) They spent five years on Tranch at a time when Tranch was considered an imminent threat, waging a guerrilla war against Chaos cults. After the first two years, survivors of the 212th become a special unit sent on search-and-destroy missions. The regiment started 1,000 strong, was whittled down to 750 after the first two years, and returned with only 212. This represents unusual losses for the last three years and was put down to “bad luck,” as they faced many high-risk assignments. The worst thing encountered in last few months of deployment was a Chaos cult that had summoned five minor demons (the 212th had confirmed kills on three of them).

The officers confirmed that they used the same symbols found on the Yellow Line Killings victims back on Tranch. The Witch-Kin had the ability to summon entities and bind them into bodies, so the 212th discovered that the only way to destroy these entities was to write or carve the symbols on the possessed person's body before killing them. They say they don't recognize any of the people in the Yellow Line Killing pictures, but they do identify certain symbols for “psyker,” “cultist,” “demon-host,” “summoner,” etc.

Calpurnia presses them about the possibility that anyone from the 212th is still killing people they believe possessed here on Fenksworld. Lt. Yancio suddenly keels over dead – he just bit into poison pouch hidden in his mouth. The acolytes immediately check Kestler and remove a similar device from his mouth. They look crude, and are probably Imperial Guard home-made devices.

Sanctus Machina examines Captain Kastler's augmentics and determines all the injuries that required these augmentics were sustained at one time. They check records; it turns out that Kastler was captured by a cult, tortured, and nearly offered as a sacrifice but managed to escape to give the alert, nearly at the cost of his life. He was rewarded with a promotion and augmentics for his heroism, rather than just put down.

The acolytes question Kastler about why Yancio killed himself; he proves uncooperative, but clearly believes he is serving the Emperor. They play good cop, bad cop, or as Kastler puts it, “Good cop, bad cop, fat cop.” To earn his cooperation, they eventually reveal that they work for the Inquisition. Suddenly shaken, Kastler asks whether that means it's over? But a moment later he says he can't reveal his story as they are not actual Inquisitors; it would violate his oath. Eventually he agrees to tell them something if they will let him go and one of them comes with him to swear an oath.

They send Aenid Fraal with Captain Kastler, wired for sound. Kastler manages to lose the acolytes when they try to follow him and Aenid, but they keep listening in. He takes Aenid to an old abandoned hab block, where he pulls out a secret compartment. From it, he gets yellow paint and an aquila. He inducts Aenid according to the summary field ritual of the Imperial Guard. He then explains that he was approached on Tranch at end of his tour by an Inquisitor. His mission is to guard Volg Hive against the incursions of the Ruinous Powers. Tranch is a test bed for cults and fringe groups – and Volg Hive is a prime target. He and his men operating secretly for ten years in their attempts to deal with incursions of Chaos. They repeat the oath of Induction every time they battle Ruinous Powers and kill someone, hence the yellow lines left near victims.

They let him go and decide to check on his story by investigating Yellow Line Killings victims for signs of heresy. The latest victim was a midwife; there is no immediate sign that she might have been tainted, she seemed to be just an ordinary person. The vast majority of the victims were normal folk living ordinary lives. One rug maker swore a lot; when they investigate him, they find that the last rug he made turns out to have symbols that are vaguely similar to some of the Witch Kin glyphs.

They go back to the midwife case, check on the family of the last baby she delivered. They are emphatically not welcome. Aenid kicks down the door; the woman tries to force her way past with baby. Trapped, she huddles in a corner, trying to protect the baby from the acolytes. The baby has a cleft palate and has been heavily marked with crude purity symbols and aquilae with a stylus. Aenid calms everyone down, asks about the midwife. Apparently, she was known to leave babies with similar minor (or not so minor?) birth defects live.

A detailed review of the Yellow Line Killings victims shows some genuinely suspicious activities and some that are probably cases of over-zealousness. Calpurnia is still concerned, however, by the use of unholy glyphs. She decides to bounce the case to Inquisitor Skane before intervening. In the mean time, the investigation is left open so the acolytes cannot yet access the Library of All Knowledge. They must continue with their investigations by other means.

Rollando, in his covert identity, goes to his pre-arranged meeting with the Machenko Dynasty, and is introduced to the three brothers Shadrak, Mishak, and Abendigo, local Machenko representatives. The brothers hear Rollando's proposal for purchase of water-purifying equipment. At first, they suggest that he may be more interested in talking to specialized operations in Hive Nova Castillus because they are closer to the operation he describes. He switches gear and talks about another of his “projects,” reprocessing mine tailings from the primitive mines of Sephiris Secundus. The Machenko brothers are very interested and the conversation becomes technical, with Sanctus Machina's assistance.

The Machenko brothers offer their hospitality to Rollando and his entourage for the night.

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