In the wake of the Battle of the Yoke, 1st Company are rotated back to Gulch for R&R. The squad make good use of this time to trade and gather supplies, including a new arm for Fausta.
During travel the squad are pulled out of their usual routine and escorted to a small meeting room by a squad of naval armsmen. Commissar Skorse makes her presence felt, and interrogates first squad regarding the death of Lt De Bray. Each member of the squad is questioned in private, though it seems to be little more than a fishing trip.
Tensions rise within the squad. Fausta and Sly confront Casmirre, unsatisfied with his response that “he told the Emperor’s truth”. Fausta questions his loyalty to the squad, driving the otherwise level-headed Casmirre to the brink of violence. Only Mordecai’s timely intervention prevents a fistfight.
In the wake of the interrogation, Sergeant Haggard confronts Sly and accuses him of bringing unwanted attention to the squad. He gives up his share of the smuggling proceeds in disgust, warning Sly against further illicit activities.
The squad is mired in suspicion and paranoia just in time for their arrival on Virbius. After mustering in a makeshift town, the company are given their new assignments. The bulk of the regiment are assigned to assist with the coming offensive, but 1st are summoned to see Captain Lhorens.
Despite Commissar’s Skorse’s clear protestations the squad are assigned to a special operation under Colonel Garn of the 37th Maccabian Janissaries. The unit travel to FOB Epsilon 12 and receive their briefing from Colonel Garn, managing to insult his men’s honour in the process.
Mordecai lends his assistance in the infirmary and inspects the unusual wounds suffered by the Janissaries. He is able to identify the effects of the toxin and recover a decayed sample from a recently deceased Janissary. The toxin is of unknown origin, and does not match any known Imperial compound. Furthermore, the pattern of injuries is inconsistent with typical Imperial weaponry.
Two riders approach the camp at dusk and meet briefly with the Colonel. The natives seem less than impressed, one referring to Garn as an “effluent worker”. Sly engages one of the riders, Lorak, and gleans information about local history, learning of the Dark Ones and their long predation on the tribes of Virbius. Lorak agrees to join with the squad as a guide and brother-in-arms, with the promise of taking the fight to the enemies of the Stormlord.