"You have understood precisely, Adept Yorke," nodded Ambelus. "You're right; I wasn't exactly clear. You should feel free to do your jobs, but as discreetly as possible - and yes, do try not to commit too many crimes yourselves." It might have been a joke, but the last instruction was delivered in the same flat tone as the earlier briefing. Detective-Commander Ambelus did not seem the sort to find much about crime very funny.

He tapped at the table some more; the vidscreen turned back on, but this time the lighting remained strong. On display was an aerial map of Lo Hive: a jagged, bulbous construction, its traditional-constructed circular core erupting in tumourous annexes that almost looked like festering architectural boils. The scale casually belied its size; according to the markings, it was hundreds of kilometres from end to end. The data seemed almost unbelievable, even if any of the task force had seen it with their bare eyes on descent to the planet.

Various districts were labelled, Vulpis Ward blinking prominently. Isolating the anarchical region from the more civilised core districts was a strip of land (albeit perhaps tens of kilometres wide) connected to a larger district labelled Fulminous Crescent.

"The Brass Eye is believed to be strongest in Fulminous Crescent," said Ambelus. "It's an industrial slum, with the usual gang problems. You could call it Lo's underhive and you would be correct in almost every interpretation except the literal one. That's where Kelleher resides mainly, according to Volkes. It's also the closest you can get to Vulpis Ward on the trains - the rail system in the Ward itself has mostly been taken over by the locals, and even though there is a limited amount of central control, it's all too easy for the mobs to set up physical obstacles on the tracks when we try to move trains by remote.

"There's a moderate Arbites presence in the Crescent as we tackle the excesses of organised crime there, although I must admit that we have not had much success - and, as you can imagine, the closer you get to Vulpis Ward, the more dangerous it is for an Arbitrator to walk his beat openly. Volkes and I communicate using a dead drop - he drops off his reports at a predetermined location and the district Arbites pick it up later and relay it to me. And vice versa, when he needs new orders or information. Your first contact with him will have to be by this method. The Crescent station chief can run you through the process.

"As for a base of operations, there are two choices. You can set up here in the administrative district" - on the map, the lower-right quadrant of the hive's core blinked the words St Drusus' Shield - "or you can use one of Volkes' safehouses in the Crescent. Right now I'd suggest the safehouse, since at a guess you'll probably be operating in the south of the hive for most of this operation - but that does mean you'll have a long commute if your investigation brings you back up here, or further north." Ambelus shrugged. "One thing DeMirci has got working here is the transport, I'll give him that. If you've got permission to travel and you can afford it, you can get from one end of the hive to the other in less than half a day. Your call where you settle in first."