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    Default [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    The Ceremony of Innocence
    OOC Thread


    The webs of causality propagating across the galaxy at superluminal speeds are not just invisible to most; they are all but inconceivable to the human brain. Whether an alien could contemplate how the skeins of fate interweave is an academically interesting thought experiment, albeit one destined to be terminally temporary. Even the vastness of the Imperium, with its teeming billions of adepts who pass their days between libraries of cogitators, analysing and processing and discarding discrete quanta of information, can only scratch the surface of the interplay between cause and effect. Theirs is a small world, a local universe, tunnel-visioned; much like the Imperium on the whole in that sense, as it hides its people away from the horrors of the malicious galaxy.

    Lo was not destined to enjoy the twin paradises of isolation and ignorance. Lo was different.

    Lo was a Hive World that was open to the sky.



    1

    Their arrivals were surprisingly efficient. Upon alighting from whatever spacecraft had deposited them on this volcanic world, with its ugly, dirty bruise of a sprawling hive as seen from the descent, each of them was unceremoniously grabbed by a waiting Arbites officer and marched away from the rest of the new arrivals. One flash of their escort’s badge was enough to skip the immigration and customs queues. Doors opened into clean, brightly-lit corridors, every last corner of which were occupied by buzzing auspices and vox-casters. They met for the first time in the empty waiting room, easing themselves down onto the steel benches to wait for the next to arrive. The vid-screen on the wall was blank, and the hum of the servo-skull making slow circuits of the room drowned out any noise from outside. The single door opened only when the next member of the team arrived, but the officer that brought them would answer none of their questions. Slowly, time passed, as the population of the room swelled: one, two, three, four, five.

    Five was the total, it seemed, for mere minutes after the fifth of them arrived did the door open for the last time. They were ordered out, down more corridors, out the underbelly of the spaceport to a cold platform and a sleek train. Its doors were expectantly open; inside, the seats were leather and the ambient lighting was a soft cream - a welcome break from the waiting room’s fluorescents. Once the five of them were on board, the doors slid shut with a pneumatic hiss and the train began to move.

    Once free of the spaceport, the vehicle was carried the the city on a viaduct, passing above and between towering buildings, and beneath an open, clouded sky. Off to one side, in the midst of a wide, uncovered area of greenery, was a bulbous conglomeration of spheres and domes, shining golden in the afternoon sun - a governer’s palace, at a guess. Many of the other structures the rail wove near looked equally impressive and important. There was a blue, perfectly round spire, its tip occluded by the clouds; a series of twisted arcs and arches, connected by tubes and rails; a layered bastion that could only be described as a castle, mountainous peaks rising into view behind rockrete walls. At a junction, the train angled towards this last building. As it approached, a section of the wall slid away just in time to avoid a collision at blistering speed. It decelerated as it passed into the shadow of the complex.

    The train slowed to a halt, but the doors remained shut. The carriage lurched upwards - the passenger section was being lifted through a large shaft, the previously stylish vehicle having become an amazingly decadent elevator. Light zoomed past, so fast that their after-images seemed to be slowly crawling upwards rather falling downwards. Finally, the carriage came to a complete stop. The doors opened to an ornate corridor, icons of Imperial saints and symbols of the Adeptus Arbites lining the walls between the “platform” and the ancient, wooden door at the other end. From behind it came the sound of footsteps. The door opened with a creak. They stepped inside.

    The chamber beyond was an office, warmly decorated with more of what looked like actual wood. The desk in the centre was piled high with papers: forms and folders and memos of all sorts. An empty mug, the bottom stained brown, smelled of stale recaf. A glass ashtray held the remains of many lho-sticks.

    “Gentlemen. Welcome.” The door behind them shut; the man who had opened it was dressed in extremely formal Arbites attire. There were sashes, and medals - lots of each. He was middle-aged, with a balding head, stubbled cheeks and dark crow’s feet around his eyes. When he spoke, his breath stank - a heady mix of caffeine, lho, and possibly other legal intoxicants. On his shoulder, a servo-skull perched, its red eyes flicking between the newcomers.

    “Welcome to Lo,” the officer said again. “I am Detective-Commander Ambelus. Before we go any further, I require you to state your name and verbally recognise your secondment to the Adeptus Arbites, Xenos Task Force ‘Aquila’, with all concordant responsibilities and strictures.” He nudged the servo-skull; silently, it hovered towards the group, extending a thin microphone. The Detective-Commander scratched his chin absent-mindedly, as if bored by the formality.
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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    Gallus' eyebrows shoot up as the servo skull approaches him, leaving him slightly nonplussed.

    However, he coughs and finds his voice, saying in his best sonorous projection, " Gallus Drake, reporting, and recognizing my assignment to the Adeptus Arbites Xenos Task Force Aquila and its ... required responsibilities and strictures."

    He quirks an eyebrow at the Commander as if to say, 'now what?'

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    Hidden mechanisms beneath Gareth's robes whirred softly as he stepped forward, his vox-synthesizer crackling into life as the skull floated toward his face.

    "Gareth Castius of Emperor's Island, prepared to do what is required by this Task Force."

    Having made his introduction, the tech-priest stepped back, bowing his head as he awaited further instruction.
    Last edited by Doc Kraken; 2012-10-11 at 02:56 PM.

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    Sebastian remained calm and composed for most of the trip, as was his usual attitude. Being a scion of one of Malfi's ruling families, the young noble was almost accustomed to extravagant means of transportation, towering spires and other extreme examples of Imperial architecture. He was not too fond of waiting, almost detained, in a plain room, but thankfully he had several interesting things to read about, stored in his data-slate. Upon their arrival, he stretched his tall and thin frame, set his robe straight, took a moment to make sure his appearance was in accordance with his status and proceeded to take the required statement in the senior arbitrator's office.

    "I, Sebastian Yorke, scion of the noble House of Yorkes, hereby acknowledge my secondment to the Adeptus Arbites, Xenos Task Force "Aquila", with all concordant responsibilities and strictures. May the Emperor help me fullfill my duties with dilligence".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daisuke1133 View Post
    Calimos, I wish I had even half your talent for verbosity.

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    Castus stands ramrod straight, awaiting the skull to get to him. All of this reminding him of the inspections by the drill abbots of the Schola. When the floating automaton comes to him, Castus begins his statement.

    "Castus Wolfe. I recognize my secondment to the Adeptus Arbites Xenos Taskforce Aquila. I am ready to carry out any and all orders, Sir."

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    "Right you are, sah. Count me in. Y'all probably know the name's Ji... James Mustang Westingkrup."

    The cop with the big moustache and the idiosyncratic star-shaped badge seemed quite laid back and happy to be here, answering the detective with a grin and something of a drawling voice. Why he's so happy is anyone's guess. Maybe he's just friendly.
    Last edited by bluntpencil; 2012-10-12 at 04:57 AM.

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    Detective-Commander Ambelus nodded once Westingkrup had spoken his piece; the servo-skull did not seem nearly as happy. Something inside it began whirring.

    Ji Jayms Mus Tang Wes Ting Krup” it repeated in flat tones, each syllable squeezed out with the same robotic emphasis. “Unfamiliar dialect/accent Low Gothic verbal communication. Confirm secondment.

    “Confirmed,” yelled Ambelus, slapping the servo-skull aside with his palm. It rolled, internal stability mechanisms stirring to re-orient the bone chassis. Once upside-up, it hovered away, touching down on a bookshelf. The light dimmed from its eyes.

    “Sorry about that,” muttered Ambelus. “Never was much good with servitors, but we had to get that out of the way.” He stepped over to the desk, tapping an unobstrusive button set into the surface. The lights in the room dimmed; to the side, a painting receded into the cieling, leaving a vidscreen. It was illuminated with the fist-and-scales of the Adeptus Arbites, and the Imperial aquila. Above them, the words Adeptus Arbites: Task Force (Xenos) shone brightly. Below, it concluded with Operation Aquila.

    “For the duration of your time here, you are henceforth official members of the Lo Precinct Adeptus Arbites. Your acceptance of your secondment grants you the following effective ranks within the Arbites: operational rank, Investigator; clearance rank, Detective-Superintendent; command rank, Enforcer.” Ambelus’ eyes were glazed over, as if he were reading off a list that only he could see. “For those of you unfamiliar with the structure of our organisation, what that means is you can ask to be briefed on almost any info I have, but don’t go ordering the regular boys around. Common sense, but putting this task force together has been a bureaucratic nightmare, so consider yourselves officially enlightened.” He picked up the recaf mug, felt its weight, sighed and set it down again. His fingers drummed against another button.

    The image on the viscreen changed to a slideshow of devastation: buildings either on fire or already burnt-out shells; blackened, misshapen corpses; broken railway lines like the one that had brought them to the Precinct Fortress, the metal twisted and buckled as if it were no more rigid than paper. Finally, there was a video feed. The camera panned over a morass of deteriorating buildings, a slum dotted with pinpricks of fire.

    “This is Vulpis Ward. Broadly speaking, that name covers about a tenth of Lo Hive - the south-western extreme, roughly. The area you see here is on its outer border. Vulpis is not a safe place. In fact, it’s barely part of the Imperium. The planetary defence forces have for all extents and purposes lost control of the region; what industry remains has fallen into the hands of gangs. It’s hard to say if anyone is in charge of Vulpis Ward. There are always local warlords carving out new fiefs there, but none of them ever last long. Nearly one billion souls live in Vulpis Ward, barely two hundred kilometres from where we are at this very moment, in a hive that we built, and yet they may as well be at the other end of the galaxy for all the influence the planetary government has over the region.” The Detective-Commander frowned; the lines around his mouth got deeper, settling into place as if it were his most frequent expression. “Needless to say, this is a touchy subject among the upper echelons of the administration. I would like nothing better than to see Vulpis Ward returned to its rightful rulers, but the Adeptus Arbites would have to start a protracted military campaign that would take years, if not decades, and our dear Governor Demirci refuses to acknowledge that the area is effectively in rebellion.

    “We might not have control over Vulpis Ward, but we have our eyes and ears there. These images were relayed to us eight days ago. The word in the street is that this was an attack by alien raiders. Unfortunately, the sources of this information are … questionable. The Planetary Defence Forces consider it to be nothing more than simply more fighting between the warlords.” He paused. “You may infer that I disagree. But even if Xenos are mounting some sort of attack, it’s not the Arbites’ place to try to defend the hive. And frankly, I don’t trust the PDF to do their damned job. Which is where you come in.” Another tap against the desk; now, a face was onscreen, a man with a thick jaw and plenty of scars only partially hidden by his thick brown hair.

    “This man is Augustin Kelleher, and he’s a high-ranking member of a gang called the Brass Eye. They’re new on the scene, here, and we’re not quite sure what to make of them. Seems they act as middlemen for other organised crime enterprises in the hive. They traffic drugs, arrange hits, smuggle - the usual. Nothing all that severe. We think they’re actually trying to avoid attracting Arbites attention, which is sort of cute.” Ambelus allowed himself a brief chuckle. “They failed. We’ve got a mole in Kelleher’s crew, an Arbitrator by the name of Marcus Volkes.” Kelleher’s face was replaced by the image of an arbitrator in uniform, minus his helmet. His face was dutifully blank on screen. “Kelleher usually runs protection rackets, and we’re taking an interest because we don’t know who exactly the Brass Eye is extorting. Volkes is trying to determine if they’ve turned anyone in the planetary government. For now we’re letting them away with their minor business - but if we get evidence they’ve got anyone powerful on their side, we’re prepared to come down like a tonne of bricks.

    “Volkes’ last report, though, was worrying. He said Kelleher seems to have shifted focus. He’s trying to get involved in the interplanetary importation business. Volkes ain’t sure why - says it’s a big change from how Kelleher usually operates. The rumour is that the Brass Eye are about to start dabbling in the Cold Trade. And to do that, he’s started paying off members of the PDF.” The commander’s face darkened.

    “Then there’s this man.” A third face flashed up onscreen, this one all wildly styled hair and tacky jewellery. “Hadrian ‘Hex’ Gurner. He’s a small time merc that the Grand Precinct has a file on. Wanted in multiple jurisdictions for piracy, murder, theft, aggravated assault - you name it. He turns up here, and starts asking questions in the underworld. Questions like, ‘Where can I get involved in the Cold Trade,’ and ‘How can I get in touch with the Brass Eye’. And he’s asking them loudly - stupidly obviously. He’s the fall guy for somebody else, he has to be. He’s just too much of a moron to land here and start asking questions like all by himself, especially when he seems to have no idea how to go about it. My servitor could arrange a meeting with the Brass Eye better than he could.”

    Ambelus punched a finger down at the table; the vidscreen went off and the lights in the office brightened. “So here’s what we know.” He began to count on his fingers. “One, the Brass Eye suddenly wants to get involved in the Cold Trade. Two, Gurner suddenly wants to get involved with both the Brass Eye and the Cold Trade. And three, the planetary defence forces are ignoring rumours of a possible Xenos attack on the outskirts of the hive, possibly because Kelleher’s paying somebody off.” He paused, letting the details sink in.

    “Operation Aquila is a two-pronged approach to this thorny issue. I understand you lot have all received a bit of training about the most frequent encounters we have with Xenos and the Cold Trade. Your objective is to investigate the suspected link between the Cold Trade and possible corruption in the planetary government. There are two immediate avenues of approach: first, get in touch with Volkes and find out what Kelleher is up to, and second, keep an eye on Gurner and figure out who he’s working for. And do it discreetly. I don’t want to risk Volkes’ life, and I don’t want to scare Gurner off. And most of all, if my worst fears are confirmed and this is tied to somebody high-up in the administration, I don’t want to tip the Arbites’ hand until absolutely necessary. Trust nobody but Volkes and myself. Let me be absolutely clear on one final point: this must be done by the book. I know cutting corners sometimes help to get to the root of an issue this complex, but if the Adeptus Arbites ends up having to take action against the Loi planetary government, I want it to be absolutely blindingly obvious to Lord Sector Hax that we’re doing the right thing.”

    Ambelus suddenly seemed to sag. “That’s the bones of it. I know that’s a lot to throw at you when you’ve only touched down here a couple of hours ago, but you can see why I felt the need to bring in some outside talent. Whatever questions you have, now’s the time to ask them.”
    =][=
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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    "Sure thing, sah...

    We've li'l authority to be ord'rin' the other sheriffs around, I see, that's all well an' good...

    What authority we got on other concerns? Like the PDF fer example? Let's say we need their boss-types rounded up an' asked a few things... can that be arranged?

    I'm assumin' such matters will be dealt with by those wi' bigger hats than us, but it bears askin' is all... don't want to be gettin' strung up on jurisdictional matters when trouble comes a-knockin'."


    Jim wants to be sure of a few details, so slowly asks some questions regarding jurisdiction. He also continues on, clearing up some other matters,

    "Now, I understan', this may be on a need-ta-know basis, but, are there any other lawmen on the job? Any other teams o' gumshoes? I don't wanna be steppin' on anybody's toes, y'see.

    Aaaand... how often should we report in to yerself? Some folks are appreciatin' initiative and such, but, personally, I think that a bit o' communication wi' the head honcho helps keep things by the ol' numbers. Prevents us from mistakenly strayin' off the rails an' whatnot."

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    Gallus is visibly shaken by the imagery, compounded by the idea that he'll probably be hip-deep in something similar not too long from now.

    He waits in silence, trying to hear whether anyone answers the question, "Where should we start?"

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    Ambelus shot the Metallican a cool look. "You don't beat around the bush, Westingkrup, that's for sure. Jurisdictional conflicts are to be avoided. At all costs. This operation is ..." He blinked. "Operating, for lack of a better word, on a need-to-know basis. You want to bring anybody official in, you come to me. There aren't many people on Lo with a bigger hat than mine. But frankly, if it has to come to that then I have misjudged your usefulness."

    The commander paused, as if considering his next words carefully. "Very few people outside this room are aware of this operation's existence. I want it to stay that way. However." The next sentences were delivered slowly and deliberately. "I cannot rule out that there may be other interested parties. The Cold Trade is a serious matter. I am the commanding officer of the Adeptus Arbites on this planet, and I have assigned you to deal with this operation." His face was a mask, carefully controlled to allow no scrap of emotion to escape. "So, as far as I'm concerned you are the only people working this investigation. If you come across any other interested parties, it is within your remit to decide how to deal with them."

    He sighed. "As for communication, I would appreciate being kept informed. You can contact me directly from any Arbites station in the hive. Use the callsign 'Angevin' over the network. Nonetheless, you may take your operative rank seriously. I expect my Investigators to act on their own initiative and make command decisions in the field as they see fit. That applies especially for this task force - for everything except, as I mentioned, jurisdictional issues."
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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    Sebastian Yorke listened carefully to Detective-Commander Ambulus, as he briefed them on the case they were assigned to. When he finished, we contemplated the various information for a while and then he spoke up.

    "Commander. Impressive presentation. It does seem though as if on Lo, things are getting out of hand with that situation and it wouldn't be too far fetched for one to assume that if things detoriorate further, the planet may even need the intervention of the Imperial Guard. From what you said though, the current governor has not and quite probably will not - at least not without considerable pressure - admit that he's losing control over his planet. Knowing a few things about planetary government and those who are placed in such positions of power, he will not admit his responsibility, nor relinquish his powers easily.

    Now, you urged us to be discreet and cautious and I completely agree with you. You did say also though, that we are to carry out this investigation by the book. Pardon me, sir, but if we are to do things by the book, which if I'm not mistaken involves brandishing of badges and direct methods of approach, we will surely expose our investigative efforts to those unsavory elements of Vulpis ward that we wish to avoid. If you mean it though, that we are to conduct an undercover investigation that eschews the overly public and "noisy" methods of approach, in favour of a more careful or refined approach, taking care not to commit any additional crimes or cooperate with criminal elements and adopt their dubious methods while doing so, then it is totally understandable sir.

    Something else as well. How will we recognise your man, Marcus Volkes and will we be given some sort of code, phrase or other ID mark for him to believe us. Also, we will certainly need a place to set up a base of operations. Will Mr. Volkes provide us of any directions to assist us in that endeavour or you have already a suitable place in mind?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daisuke1133 View Post
    Calimos, I wish I had even half your talent for verbosity.

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    "Start?" Gareth whispered, eyes still fixed on the blank viewscreen. "We start with the symptom of this...disorder. This anarchy that has overtaken the Ward. We should start with Kelleher."

    The tech-priest shook his head, trying to focus. What he had been shown had shaken the man to his core. He knew that not everyone submitted to the just and lawful rule of the Imperium, that there were those who flouted authority and rejected the divine. But to be so close...to know that nearby, nearly a billion men and women stood outside the aegis of their own species, in defiance of all that he knew to be right, chilled his soul. He cleared his throat.

    "Apologies. My deduction is undocumented. As you say, Gurner is a fool, wishing to contact a more well-informed one. He is either bait or a pawn for others who can easily afford his loss. So - we go straight to the source. We find why he might be interested in Kelleher, what this...animal is attempting. This knowledge may give us insight into Gurner's masters."


    With an effort, he tore his gaze away from the vidscreen.

    "Detective-Commander, how might we best contact your man Volke?"

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    The images of the ruined ward weighed upon Castus; as much as the Schola prepared him to have a will as firm as steel, such destruction was meant for the homes of Man's enemies not the homes of Man himself. Bringing himself back to the present, he opened his mouth to speak.

    "Are there any locations that Kelleher frequents? Places we might consider staking out to gather information more surreptitiously."

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    "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."
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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    "Noted and understood, Detective-Commander." The tech-priest rasped, turning to face the other task force members. "I believe we use the safehouse for matters of convenience. It does little good to plan for possible errors by sacrificing known utility. Though we must needs dwell among lost souls, this is how we can achieve the greatest good in the shortest amount of time. Efficiency is key."

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    Gallus nods while looking at the display. He seems to have recovered himself, and speaks with a sense of authority beyond his meager station.

    "I agree, that seems to make the most sense. No time like the present, gents?"

    He takes a step as if expecting to walk out the door and then stops, frowning slightly. He turns to the Commander and asks, "Might we get some copies of this data and these maps, for portable reference?"

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    Sebastian nodded to Commander Ambelus.

    "Understood sir. So, when we arrive there, we head for the local Arbites precinct, arrange a meeting with your operative, Volkes, then get set up in the safehouse and initiate our investigation".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daisuke1133 View Post
    Calimos, I wish I had even half your talent for verbosity.

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    "Hearin' ya loud an' clear, chief! I'll get movin' with this posse straightaway."

    The Metallican Arbite pats his pistol at his side, eager to get moving onwards.

    "I'm quite lookin' forward to this, gentlemen. Idle hands are the enemy's playthings, an' all that."

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    "Of course," Ambelus replied to Gallus, tugging open a drawer. He handed over two thin dataslates. "These have maps, and a copy of what I've just shown you. Volkes has a habit of taking a lot of notes during an investigation, so you'll likely find some handwritten stuff at the safehouse, which'll probably be more up to date. You'll also be wanting these." The commander placed what looked like a small stack of playing cards on the table. On closer inspection, they were thin, translucent plastic wafers, filigreed with layers of golden circuitry.

    "These are what the hive rail passes look like. There are various ranks issued to citizens, of which gold is the highest; unlimited access. As you might imagine they're bloody valuable on the black market, and a dead hint you've got powerful connections, either legitimate or otherwise. Don't go flashing them about. It generally leads to a lot of unpleasantness for everyone involved when one of these goes missing, particularly because the nobility's tend to be modified to command trains to go directly to their homes." He rolled his eyes. "'Course, we warn them against that sort of thing but they never listen. Not until half of Vulpis Ward turns up to plunder their estate. My point being, don't lose them." Ambelus glared at the team as they took the passes, as if daring them to go ahead and do just that. He waved haphazardly at the door they'd come in through.

    "The train will take you to Fulminous Crescent. Outside Saint Drusus' Shield, we don't link the rails directly to the Adeptus buildings so you'll have to make your own way to the Crescent Arbites station. The perfect chance to get a feel for Lo Hive." His mouth twisted oddly, as if one side wanted to smile while the other was trying to frown.

    "Good luck."


    2
    Exiting the Precinct Fortress, their transport was slow to leave the conglomeration of tracks weaving between the most impressive architecture of St Drusus' Shield. The rails were thronged with other carriages, most of which were almost filled to bursting with commuters; some appeared not even to have seats, forgoing them in order to squeeze in those few more uncomfortable, sweaty humans. The team's air-conditioned vehicle seemed a veritable paradise in comparison to what the lowest grade of rail passes allowed a Loi to travel on.

    Automatic protocols negotiated busy junctions, with the rails slowing to a complete standstill more than once as sleeker, less busy carriages got to move first. By the time the Fortress had disappeared between towering office-blocks, the tracks were less congested; evidently the centre of the city was affected the worst by the traffic. The skyscrapers became less dense, giving way to sprawling flat hab-blocks and manufactoria only occasionally perforated with taller structures. The sky was a hazy beige; through the wisps of smog, aeronautical vehicles were just visible, hanging beneath the clouds. Large colourful zeppelins seemed near-motionless, their gentle turns only apparent after minutes of watching; smaller aircraft flitted between their larger cousins and landing pads on the larger buildings.

    A woman's voice came on through the vox-grille. She sounded extremely bored.

    "Your destination is - " the recording paused " - Malleus Station, Fulminous Crescent. Travel time is approximately two and a half hours," she drawled.

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    Sorry for the delay, guys, I've been having a very busy week settling in at the office. Anyway here's an opportunity to chat amongst yourselves if you want; otherwise we can move right on through the journey. Let me know OOC if you want to skip ahead and I should be able to post again tomorrow either way.
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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    Gallus heaves a sigh, finds a seat, and turns his attention to Westingkrup.

    With a half smile, he eyes the ostentatious badge, and says, "Well, Arbitrator Westingkrup... where do you call home? You remind me of the lawmen from the vids I watched when I was younger - slinging pistols and rooting out aliens in the backwaters."

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    I'm fine with skipping ahead, either way.

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    "Well well well, sonny..."

    That was how his dad always began stories, so sounded about right for Jim, too. Don't fix what ain't broke, he also said too, and that was a touch relevant.

    "I guess you could call Gunmetal City a backwater. Less folks bouncin' around there than in Sibellus, I s'pose.

    Still, it's a right ol' volcano, both metaphorically an' physically. Y'see, they use the heat from the fault lines to forge shooters fer the whole sector there. Of course, that heat gets inta tha blood o' tha locals too... right gunslingers the lot of 'em... well, the lot of us, I guess..."

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    A metallic complex whizzed by, the rails multiplying and diverging as they passed between platforms - barely possible to catch in a single frame of the human eye, the signs flatly stating CRUX were just visible outside the speeding train.

    Some time later, the vox-grille crackled into life once more. This time it was not the recorded woman; a real-live human was speaking on the other end.

    "Uh, Arbites-designated train inbound to Malleus Station, this is Malleus. Please respond."

    A ring of lights around a small white button under the vox-grille blinked into life.
    =][=
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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    The crackle of the vox cuts off any reply. Glancing confusedly around at his companions, Gallus steps forward and presses the button, making sure to pitch his voice with an appropriate authoritativeness.

    "Malleus? This is the 'Arbites-designated train.' Go ahead."

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    The male voice returned. "Be advised there is increased bandit activity operating in the airspace between Crux and Malleus stations. We repeat, increased aerial bandit activity. Be wary of approaching aircraft. Do you have enough ordnance to fight off a raiding party?"
    =][=
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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    "Aerial bandits? You're not serious are you, boy?"

    Jim doesn't seem to take this seriously.

    "What can they expect to take from us, eh, 'cept hot lead?"

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    At the mention of armed raiders, Castus begins readying his rifle for a confrontation. When Westingkrup makes his boisterous claims, he levels a glare at the arbitrator.

    "That's a nice bit of confidence you have there," Castus says to the gunslinger, "I hope you have something heavier than a revolver to back it up. Because from what I can see, we have a collection of small arms to fight against flying vehicles that possibly have armoured hulls and emplaced weapons."

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    "Confidence implies a plan. Do you have one? Time is of the essence, Westingkrup." Without waiting for an answer, the tech-priest pressed the vox button.

    "Negative, Malleus. Small arms only. Does this train possess anti-aircraft defenses?"

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    Gallus is momentarily stunned.

    To no one in particular, he mutters, "Are you kidding me? 'Aerial bandits?' This place HAS gone to ****... we're not even to the 'problem area' yet. For the love of ..."

    His muttering dies down to an incoherent grumble as he unslings a nasty looking shotgun and checks it over.

    Completing that, he pulls out a small autopistol that looks like its been around the block about a hundred times too many. He tries to ready it as well, but the slide catches. Punctuating his inaudible muttering, he slams it - hard - into a bulkhead a couple of times, and the slide racks back into place. He grunts, puts the pistol back in its holster under his shoulder, and braces himself against a windowframe, scanning the skies in a highly aggrieved silence.

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    Sebastian shook his head, even as he reached to his sidearm holster and checked his revolver's status, grasping it firmly, re-checking its ammunition and adjusting the laser sight scope on it.

    "Im not big on combat people. Back home we had security details and guards to handle that kind of stuff. My specialties as a person and a Verispex lie elsewhere, yet I'll try my best not to be a burden to a potential encounter of such danger. It does seem strange though that bandits possess even mean for airborne assaults".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daisuke1133 View Post
    Calimos, I wish I had even half your talent for verbosity.

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    Default Re: [DH] The Ceremony of Innocence: Arbites

    "If they're bandits, they'll be tryin' ta board this here train, not destroy it. We take cover, then get ta gunslingin' streets-style, gentlemen."

    Westingkrup actually speaks sense as he twirls his pistol on his trigger finger.

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