Following their great battle in the elevator full of recently-widowed nine-month pregnant cancer-surviving soup-kitchen volunteers who were on their way to donate blood after working twelve-hour shifts at the Wrath Prime Burn Unit for Blind Orphans and Amputee Puppies of War Veterans, Plug and Template set about investigating their set of retrieved skulls. Three days pass with no contact from the Inquisitor Overlord, but a news report soon alerts the group of large-scale attacks and riots spreading through the Hive. Not even the arbitors seem able to restore peace and over one billion are reported dead. The group is also made aware of a ship that has docked bearing a strange cargo, though Template’s contact at the docks is unable to provide any further information.
Achieving technological séance with the severed head of Atelles, the group inquires after the Libre Nox. The magus’ head tells them sinisterly that the three true copies will transform mankind into gods if brought together. He reveals himself as an agent of Tzentch (a name whose mention causes the lights to flicker and the testicles to retract) and openly provides that the final book lies in the possession of the CEO General of the Skallen Hegemony. Prophesizing that the future of man lies on the newly-summoned broken world, he wishes a vigorous coitus upon both the Emperor and the Omnisiah, before his head explodes like a boiling cantaloupe.
Singe goes to see Tristana and is told that the Krellik Brothers have disappeared and that the Spiders have disbanded following the appearance of a new, unknown criminal group. This gang has taken over the drug scene, flooding the Hive with the season’s hottest new flavor of mindfuck: Shard. Lacking even the willpower of a flesh-eating bacteria on an all-meat diet, Singe squeezes a shard of Shard until it cuts into his hand, thus “beholding,” which is what it seems the kids are calling it these days. Whilst tripping balls, he experiences the summary hopes and dreams of some solipsistic megaverse of human consciousness, brushing the omnipotence of god and going just a teensy bit more corrupt. With the egg of his brain now in the frying pan of drugs, he spends most of the foreseeable future chasing the dragon and craving omelets
Within another two days, the mass addiction to Shard has brought almost total peace to the Hive. Template runs a thorough battery of medicae tests on the strung-out Singed, but discovers nothing odd despite Freja’s insistence that there has been a disturbance to his aura.
Soon, the temperature at the adventurers’ headquarters drops and the group passes out, awakening in the same prison-themed dreamscape their Inquisitor had summoned them to in their first encounter. Still milking the warden-gig, the Inquistor appears and instructs the gang to stop Skallen. Unexpectedly, he also says that all his other agents have fallen (dun-dun-duuuuun!). The group then wakes up for realsies, never having left their shop. Plug investigates the skull of the Skallen agent and, finding nothing, strips its technological implants for a closer look. The markings determine that the parts were manufactured on-site at Skallen HQ and that their technology is, like good sex, experimental and completely heretical. Further research by the team’s trusty arbitor reveals that Skallen’s CEO’s name is Julien K’klem.
Having learned nothing in kindergarten, the group rushes to their influential contacts to tattletale on the potentially culty, book-having CEO. Plug manages to broker a deal with the Adeptus Mechanicus, procuring some scrolls and a milquetoast offer of assistance. The arbitors are less helpful, but “allow” Octia to pinch some gear from their storage.
The group journeys to a Mechanicus Temple near Skallen HQ, hoping to examine the potentially heretical tech of that sect (which they believe to be in league with the Hegemony). Breaking in, they discover the complex to be gutted and its iconography defaced. The group immediately decides to transform the abandoned shrine into their base of operations, but barely have time to hang curtains before they receive a news ping. A large militarized force is moving aggressively across the planet, striking several targets simultaneously; including the Arbites and the Skallen Hegemony. Sensing distraction and the opportunity to let others do their dirty work for them, the group departs to peep the corporate HQ.