“Do not fear death, for should you fall, I shall raise you up again to continue our grand conquest.”
-Ferrue Fayne, to a congregation of the Blessed Flesh
Following the near catastrophic events on Valos Krin, and the large-scale investigation that followed, acolytes Dume, Luck, Gunn, Bishop and Silvain have been tasked by Interrogator Jaxx to head to Hive Gloriana on the planet of Solomon to investigate a strange mass murder with the presence of a Xenos artifact. Fortunately, Solomon is Gunn’s home world and he is able to act as a guide for the group, briefing them on the inner-workings of the hive, the political atmosphere and the various rumors and urban legends that abound. This particular request for Inquisition assistance has come from the planet’s local enforcers, an agency under the Imperial authority of the Departmento Munitiorum called the Sanctionaries. Unlike normal planetary enforcers, the Sanctionaries hold both local and Imperial authority and while not as well-trained or equipped as the Adeptus Arbites, the Sanctionaries are far better equipped and trained than enforcers of most worlds. The acolytes proceed to an underhive area of Hive Gloriana known as the Gallows Way, where the massive unsightly industry of processing the hive’s deceased population into materials useful to the Imperium, such as corpse starch rations, takes place. The atmosphere and living conditions in the Gallows Way are atrocious- dirty water constantly drips from the ceiling (a product of the cumulative runoff from the hive levels above) and pools on sections of the ground, the stench is nauseating and lighting is slim to none. The inhabitants of the Gallows Way live a decrepit life, many working in one of the Carrion Guilds’ massive Charnel Houses (where bodies are received and stored till processing) or Factorum Mortuariuses (where the bodies are processed into usable resources). It is in one of these Charnel Houses (Charnel House 17 which is owned by the Fayne brothers) that the party makes contact with Oath-Captain Nils, the commander of the local Sanctionary Precinct.
Oath-Captain Nils shows the acolytes the mass murder scene, which is in one of the Charnel House’s massive warehouse-sized areas used for body storage. A literal mound of bodies lies in the open space of the room, surrounded by shelves full with bodies that have been preserved for storage. At the top of this mound lies an individual wearing a necklace bearing a strange obsidian-like crystal. There is an obvious feel of strangeness in the crystal’s presence and many of the Sanctionaries doing crime scene security report feelings of unease and paranoia. The crystal does indeed seem to be Xenos in origin and Gunn takes the crystal for safekeeping while the group investigates the scene. While the body at the top of the mound cannot be identified at the moment, many of the other bodies are identified as various underhive residents, many of which work in the various Charnel Houses. Of an additional puzzling note, it appears that some of the bodies, due to the levels of decay, appeared to have been deceased for some time prior to their participation in this mass murder event. The acolytes find Oath-Captain Nils to be a serious no nonsense individual that despises incompetence and hates the ganger scum that inhabits the underhive and below. She gives the acolytes a general overview of the Gallows Way and offers only the bare minimum of assistance. The acolytes decide to split up and explore different avenues of investigation. Luck and Bishop make contact with various workers in the Charnel House to see if anyone knows about the mass murder. Silvain and Dume go to the Scrap Market to question the locals and Gunn decides to maintain a vigil outside the Charnel House to watch for anything suspicious and question the passersby.
The crystal starts to play with Gunn’s perceptions and he can tell with his knowledge of psyinscience that there is a Warp connection with the object. While waiting, he is approached by a woman who offers to show Gunn something more exciting than watching a Charnel House. Gunn, unsure if this is real or a product of the crystal playing tricks with his mind, follows the woman through the underhive to a desert-like expanse of powder called the “Bone Yard.” Through a nearby passage that leads into one of the main weight-bearing walls of the hive, Gunn is taken to a reception area of sorts where he voluntarily relinquishes his weapons and is lead to a small stadium-like area facing a central stage where people are playing a high-stakes gambling card game. After he is securely strapped into restraints that have been modified to deal a lethal jolt of electricity, Gunn learns that he is one of many similarly restrained individuals that make up of the living currency of this highly proscribed gambling game known as “Damage.” With a large amount of Throne Gelt waiting to be won, the game is being live-streamed to select underworld establishments and individuals. As the night passes, Gunn sees that the player that he is “currency” for is the last of two remaining players and in the last high-stakes hand, Gunn’s player loses. As the people around Gunn are killed by electrocution, Gunn utilizes his unsanctioned latent psychic ability to transform himself into living flame, burning through his restraints and freeing himself. Unfortunately, Gunn’s sudden transformation, and novice mental fortitude, opens his person to daemonic possession. No longer in control of his actions, Gunn watches trapped in his own body as the daemon brings havoc to the Damage game, killing player, spectator and security personnel alike with fiery death. Some of the destruction is live-streamed before the cameras go offline and no one survives the ordeal but Gunn, who collapses into unconsciousness amongst the burnt surroundings.
Meanwhile, as Gunn is involuntarily participating in the Damage game, the rest of the party is combing the Scrap Market (that serves as the local business district) for information. Their inquiries lead them to a local information broker, reclaimator and seller of somewhat usable scrap materials named Cog Lostok. In exchange for information on the identity of the person at the top of the mound of bodies and who may be responsible for the mass murder, Lostok offers to provide the information to the acolytes if they complete a task for him. He names several jobs that could be completed as payment and the acolytes decide on taking the job of getting rid of Lostok’s competitor, a lieutenant of the Red Walk gang named Facebiter. While the Red Walk’s territory is under the underhive in the lawless area of the downhive, Facebiter has decided to come to the underhive during the day and sell scrap metal of his own. Badly in need of rest and food, the acolytes decide to wait till the following day to deal with Facebiter and wonder about the status of Gunn, who they have not heard from since leaving the Charnel House. Renting some slum accommodations in a shipping crate that has been converted into a bare bones living quarters and eating corpse starch rations, the acolytes take turns keeping watch and sleeping, wary of being robbed or killed.
Gunn wakes up in the burnt ruins of the illicit gambling house to find the burnt dead and dying around him. His clothes and possessions have been burnt away and he does not know where his weapons are. Playing dead he notes several robed figures with various sharp objects, such as rusty nails and rivets, barbed wire, hooks and broken bones pierced through their skin all over their bodies and causing festering wounds, pouring through the wreckage. One of them is examining the spot where Gunn was restrained and calls out triumphantly as he shows his comrades the Xenos crystal that Gunn was in possession of. The strange figures depart with their prize and Gunn uses his telepathic powers to project his image to Luck, who is bedded down with the rest of the group.
Gunn Requests help and Luck is able to convince the others that she knows where Gunn is and leads them (with Gunn’s projection offering assistance) to the burnt out gambling house. Upon arrival, Gunn explains his story (leaving out the part about manifesting psychic powers and becoming a daemonhost) to the group and while skeptical, Gunn’s story seems convincing enough. After Gunn salvages a weapon and clothing (but not able to find his prized swords), and the group completes a fruitless search of the premises, the group heads out to scout out the area where Facebiter sets up shop so they can plan their attack.
As they enter the main residential area of the Gallows Way, an area called the Drains due to the constant stream of water flowing through the streets from the levels above, where Facebiter has set up shop, Silvain is immediately converged on by the poor destitute masses pleading for blessings and assistance; apparently it has been a very long time since an official of the Ecclessiarchy has been in these parts to administer to the faithful. With an ever-growing crowd to deal with, the party decides that Silvain should tend to this impromptu flock while the rest deal with Facebiter. Scanning from an elevated position, Dume is able to locate Facebiter’s shop set up in one of the hab shipping containers. Dume also notes the presence of several other Red Walk gangers with Facebiter, easily recognizable by their attire and the presence of an assortment of bladed weapons that the gangers prefer for combat. The group hastily comes up with a plan to pose as prospective buyers and make contact with Facebiter and his crew while Dume sits in overwatch from up high. There is a moment of tense interaction as the gangers size up these unusual clients, but the parties appear to come to an understanding with the prospect of money and escort the acolytes inside where they are introduced to Facebiter.
As the negotiations with Facebiter commence, Silvain’s preaching to the crowd is interrupted by the arrival of an intimidating force of Ecclessiarchy and Inquisitorial agents, including two squads of Adeptus Sororitas Seraphim led by an Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus, Witch Finder Rykehuss. Rykehuss orders Silvain to provide assistance with calming and crowd and coordinating efforts to separate the residents for “Purity Assessments.” Silvain complies and during a moment of privacy with the Inquisitor, he discloses his identity as an Inquisitorial agent currently prosecuting a mission. After his credentials are verified, Rykehuss explains that there was a daemonic infestation during a Damage game the night prior. This manifestation was captured on the live-stream of the game and he is responsible for the joint Ecclessiarchy/Inquisition operation to identify and locate the psyker that caused the daemonic intrusion. Silvain’s starts to have suspicions about Gunn’s story. Rykehuss tells Silvain that he will utilize his services for the rest of the day to help with securing this area and then he will be released to go back to conducting his master’s task.
With the arrival of the Inquisition and Ecclessiarchy forces, and their accompanying Seraphim squads sweeping the hab-blocks for any who have not reported for Purity Assessment, the acolytes dealing with Facebiter become aware of this complication when both Silvain and Dume use their micro-beads to warn them. Gunn, Bishop and Luck commence hostilities, attempting to take the gangers by surprise, but the paranoid gangers are ready for any treachery and what follows is a brutal melee punctuated by loud explosive blasts from Facebiter’s bolt pistol. True to the Red Walk’s appreciation of fighting with bladed implements, the ganger lieutenant fights expertly with his well-crafted sword and bolt pistol, and surprises the acolytes when he reveals that his jaw has been bionically modified to extend. Luck becomes the first victim to Facebiter’s mono-edged teeth when a portion of her cheek is bitten off. The sounds of Facebiter’s bolt pistol and the roaring chainswords draws the attention of the Seraphim squads and they begin to converge on the scene of the battle. Bleeding from numerous wounds, the acolytes are able to dispatch Facebiter and his gang and flee in different directions to escape the incoming Sisters of Battle, Gunn grabbing Facebiter’s sword and Dume grabbing his bolt pistol. Everyone but Luck makes it to safety. Most head to the Purity Assessment area and submit themselves to Rykehuss’ authority (where Silvain will later identify them to the Inquisitor as other members of his party) but Gunn, believing that he will be imprisoned or terminated because of his status as an unsanctioned psyker, sneaks away using his native-born knowledge of Solomon to avoid detection. Luck refuses the Sister Superior’s command to disarm herself and this starts a chase through the converted shipping container hab-block between the jump pack Seraphim and an agile teenage girl. Unfortunately it’s a race that Luck cannot win and the Seraphim surround Luck in one of the shipping container habs, trapping her. In a blaze of promethium from hand flamers and explosions from bolt pistol rounds, the container is reduced to a molten slag of perforated metal. Satisfied their quarry has been killed, the Sisters return to their task of rounding up the hab-blocks inhabitants.
Scared for his life, Gunn makes contact with Cog Lostok seeking passage downhive past the Sanctionaries’ heavy-fortified Purity Gate that separates the underhive and downhive levels. Displaying Facebiter’s sword as proof of payment for the completion of one of Lostok’s tasks, the reclaimator agrees to assist Gunn and puts him in contact with a guide to navigate the secret routes that bypass the Purity Gate. Looking to make a run for it on his home turf, Gunn believes his career in the Inquisition is over.
Following a brutal battle with Facebiter and a long day working with Inquisitor Rykehuss’ forces to assist in the Purity Assessments, the acolytes (minus Gunn) arrange for sparse accommodations and food (corpse starch rations) inside of Charnel House 17. As they settle down to sleep with the dead, they are relieved when Luck arrives. She is badly burnt but, by the Emperor’s grace, she managed to survive the inferno of the Seraphim. The acolytes briefly touch base with Oath-Captain Nils and she explains that the man on top of the mound of dead in the Charnel House was one of the owners of the Charnel House, Darnis Fayne (the youngest of the Fayne brothers).
In the morning, with no idea where Gunn is or his status, the acolytes return to Cog Lostok to report their success with terminating Facebiter. They find the Scrap Market nearly deserted with the arrival of the large Inquisition force making their way through the Gallows Way. Lostok explains to the acolytes that he has already fulfilled his end of the bargain when Gunn used their termination of Facebiter to pay for information to go downhive. Learning this, the acolytes become upset at this turn of events, expressing anger with Gunn and Lostok. This starts a tense argument with Lostok for the promised information and Bishop gets visibly agitated with Lostok threatening to bring the nearby Inquisition to Lostok to inspect his non-Mechanicus sanctioned tech. Lostok reluctantly agrees to help the acolytes, identifying the man as Darnis (which they already know) and explaining that the word is that the Faynes are involved in some type of big business transaction having to do with moving the dead downhive.
After getting directions from Lostok, the acolytes decide to continue their investigation by focusing on the Faynes, and head to the massive Fayne Factorum Mortuarius to look for answers. The Mortuarius is a disgusting place dedicated to the systematic dismantling of the dead into usable resources- a ghastly process utilizing a variety of hazardous and archaic-looking machinery fitted with numerous cutting implements, giant syringes, and chemicals. The acolytes wander through the seemingly endless maze of the Mortuarius largely ignored by the workforce of tech-adepts and laborers. Eventually, a worker offers to guide them to the overseer’s office and leads the acolytes down one of the body processing paths. It is in the first step of this processing, while wading through waist-high sludge made up of blood, bile, promethium, water and grease that the acolytes come under attack from individuals hidden amongst the workers and on the catwalks above. These individuals are armed with autoguns and shotguns and their bodies are covered in festering piercings.
After surviving the initial ambush, the acolytes become involved in a deadly battle that takes them through the various body processing operations as their attackers attack and retreat and attack again. The gun fire is only one of many obstacles the acolytes have to deal with as navigating through the various implements used in the processing operation pose a threat of their own. Eventually, wounded and covered in filth and gore, the acolytes dispatch the last of their attackers in the bone grinder room and make their way to the overseer’s office. There, they find evidence linking Ferrue Fayne with a downhive merchant in the Gantry and references to a group called the “Blessed Flesh” and a “Temple.” It appears that the acolytes most go deeper into the hive to find the answers they seek.
* GM’s Note: This mission was ran with modifications from The Dark Heresy 2nd Ed. adventure of the same name by Owen Barnes and Jordan Goldfarb. It can be found on the Drive Thru RPG website “here”.