“There is no need to dissemble here, I know why you have come. You have come for something real, something unique, something to drown your boredom in spilled blood and deafen you with the wild beating of your own living heart. You have come to find the Beast House. Now tell me, what’s your pleasure?”
—Ryrin Night Eye, Mistress of Beasts
The fighting pits and carnivora offer a bloody and popular diversion on many worlds where the rich and poor alike pay to see bloodshed and vicious creatures do battle for their sport. Such places are often magnets for all kinds of illegal activity, outcasts and wanderers, and the worst they say belong to the organization known as the Beast House.
No one knows who heads the so-called Beast House, nor do many realize quite how far it has spread through the pale underbelly of the Markayn Marches but according to some it is a secret empire built on vice and suffering. Rumor has it there are other, even more unwholesome services the Beast House can provide; who can say what dire secrets lie at its heart? There have been several attempts by Imperial agencies to penetrate the higher echelons of the Beast House---none have ended well.
Humanity hates and fears the alien. For millennia this attitude has been taught and ingrained in each successive generation. Indeed, the very word “xenos” conjures up deep-seated feelings of horror and revulsion within the heart of the average Imperial citizen. However, there is a flip side to this ingrained loathing, a terrified fascination with the alien, and in the dark sub-levels of blood sport arenas and fighting pits, this dreadful attraction is played out for those that can afford the spectacle.
In its most common form, such bloody entertainment and the arenas that provide it are quite legal. Bull thornox battle to the death in Iocanthos barter-kraals, and carnosaurs rampage against teams of human gladiators upon Scintilla’s many Red Circuses nightly. Yet, removed from the garish lights of such public entertainment, the rich and the jaded, not to mention the lowest of the low, crave more desperate, darker, and forbidden pleasures. Their preferred games feature unwilling fighters, innocents stalked for sport, and creatures so vile and dangerous that the Imperial authority forbids their use on pain of death. Within the Calixis Sector, the most widespread and powerful network of such illicit arenas have but a single, whispered name---the Beast House.
As long as there has been a Calixis Sector, it seems as if there has been a Beast House. It is not in any true sense a cult, rather it is closer to a criminal network. However, behind this façade worse things lurk than can be found at the heart of any narco-gang or underhive clan. So insidious has the Beast House become that the name and the role of this secretive organization has become ingrained upon the psyche of Calixian civilisation---the Beast House and the horrors it secretly contains go unobserved and unlooked for, hiding almost in plain sight. While local enforcers may raid an unlicensed arena linked to the group here or the Adeptus Arbites may break up a xenos-creature smuggling ring there, the Beast House goes on undiminished. Indeed, it is actually strengthened by the removal of those in its employ “weak enough” to fall foul of the authorities.
Today there are Beast Houses on many worlds, but few realize just how far the Beast House has spread through the criminal underbelly of the Golgenna Reach and how far its tendrils stretch into the dim stars beyond the sector. The Beast House is more than a set of physical locations, a trade, or even a loose guild of hunters and dealers in proscribed creatures. The hidden truth is that the Beast House is a criminal empire that spans worlds and is founded on blood and pandering to the very worst aspects of human nature. Centuries old, it maintains its shroud of secrecy by working through layers of intermediaries and local agents, and it is growing stronger year by year. It hides many dark secrets the Inquisition is only just beginning to suspect, and for some in the Ordo Xenos, the realization is dawning that they may have let a serpent of alien-tainted corruption coil around the very heart of the Calixis Sector.
The Beast House by ReputeEdit
In the shadowy entertainment zones on the edge of underhives from Sibellus to Solomon and beyond, the name “Beast House” is synonymous with extreme blood sports, arena combats, and the xenos-creature trade. Likewise, many jaded sons and daughters of the wealthy great houses also know the term through wicked and scandalous tales of hunts and monstrous things forbidden by the restrictions of Imperial law---all provided for discerning clients at enormous expense. Stories and rumors about the Beast House have been doing the rounds, high and low, for so long most believe that the name itself is little more than a traditional affectation for those who deal in the blood sport trade. The popular belief held by most is that if an original Beast House once existed, it is now is long gone and that others have long since sought to cash in on the legend to further their own reputations. This is a view shared by many local enforcer groups, most criminal groups, and until relatively recently by the Adeptus Arbites and the Ordo Xenos. However, recently several incidents have come to light casting a far darker pall over the Beast House and its secrets.
What the Ordo Xenos KnowsEdit
The Ordo and the Sector Arbites are slowly recognizing that there is a dark thread connecting those who run the blood arenas and those who deal in xenos beasts. In the last few decades, encounters and reports of dangerous and proscribed xenos-predators appearing in illegal arenas or the hands of depraved recidivists have steadily increased in the sector’s core worlds and on Scintilla in particular. Subsequent investigations into these occurrences pointed time after time to the so-called Beast House. Further investigation also turned up rashes of disappearances among the poor and the underclass in the areas where a particular Beast House was said to exist, rumored links to smuggling rings, murder for hire, strange sightings of creatures, and other peculiarities. Yet nothing was concrete enough to show an overarching threat.
It was only when Inquisitor Layvan and his retinue disappeared while investigating the Beast House on Fenksworld that the full attention of the Ordo Xenos came to bear on the organization, and it has not liked what it has begun to uncover. Currently, Inquisition backed elements are conducting a widespread series of covert investigations into the Beast Houses on several worlds, but they have met with little success in penetrating its higher echelons. However, alarm at their discoveries to date is spreading due to the Beast House’s links to many of the wealthy houses and criminal gangs across the Golgenna Reach and Markayan Marches and the suspicion that extreme and dangerous alien corruption lies at the Beast House’s heart. In direct response to ongoing events and with characteristic subtlety, the Ordo is doing its best to uncover the full extent of this xeno-crime before it takes overt and decisive action, rather than attempting a premature strike risking the Beast House’s fragmenting and scattering only to resurface latter. This strategy, while sound and based on past experience, is not without the wider risk that the alien corruption may spread further before it is checked and thus is the cause of some contention within the Ordos.
The Xeno Conspiracy on FenksworldEdit
Fenksworld has long been a breeding ground for cults and conspiracies, many of which have been known to spread out into the wider sector, and the notorious independence of its rulers has much to do with this. One collection of conspiracy tales persisted for decades about a shadowy group based in the dilapidated sections of Hive Nova Castillia’s industrial underbelly, devoting themselves to obtaining illegal xenos specimens for the purposes of study and experimentation. This rogue cabal of xenophiles and heretics persisted on the edge of the Holy Ordos’s attention until three years ago a junior Xenos Inquisitor called Layvan and his retinue undertook a close investigation of the circumstantial evidence.
Layvan quickly discovered the group was little more than a front for a darker conspiracy. His last communiqué alleged that the conspiracy used a hidden facility somewhere in Nova Castillia to breed and augment a variety of vile alien and mutated creatures, which were then transhipped through the busy orbital port and out across the sector to various Beast Houses on other worlds. Shortly afterward, Layvan and his entire retinue disappeared, and despite the sudden and direct action by the Holy Ordos and a full Adeptus Arbites backed operation to seek out and purge the suspected xenophile presence, no trace of Layvan or the xeno-lab was ever found.
A year later, a raid on a heretek workshop on the distant hive world of Solomon recovered a damaged data slate. Ordos officials reconstructed the dying and confused testimony of Layvan’s savant Acolyte Urisa from the slate. The recordings contained on the slate show scenes of some hidden industrial center given over to xenos flesh-craft, where Urisa alleges that hundreds had died in blasphemous experiments and that monstrous things walked. Clearly suffering from shock and blood loss, Urisa’s testimony was garbled and rambling, but he clearly named the Beast House as the secret power behind the conspiracy.
Structure and OperationsEdit
“I’m not interested in your money or who you are, pretty one, just how nice you can scream for me.”
—Shakas Wvendal, Beast Slaver
The Beast House operates to supply, store, and in some cases, even modify or breed creatures for use in arena-circuses and blood sport operations in the criminal underworld. It has also been known to provide beasts to private owners, including cults and hereteks, for their own dark ends. There is a great deal of money to be made from this illegal trade, and in order to do so, the Beast House acts to control the supply chain, running the whole operation from initial capture of the creatures to their distribution. Should a location prove too remote to effectively operate on, the Beast House will trade with those who can---such as those who capture beasts from the death world of Burnscour in the Koronus Expanse. Furthermore, the Beast House sometimes acts as the secret owner or backer of the venues that host its creatures, often taking a hand in incidental activities such as gambling and criminality that surround these places.
The Beast House protects itself by making extensive use of local intermediaries on the worlds where it operates and maintaining progressive layers of secrecy about its true size and what it can supply. This secrecy means that many of those who work for it don’t know the full truth and that parts of the group and its assets can be “cut loose” if faced with sanction by local law enforcement, or when infiltrated by outsiders, with little danger to the other parts of the organization or its true masters, the “beast slavers.” Just how many true members of the Beast House are privy to its inner workings remains unknown to the Holy Ordos, but probably there are no more than a few hundred in total scattered across the Golgenna Reach and the Markayn Marches, and perhaps that many again operating to acquire savage livestock on numerous far flung worlds and roving hunting ships.
Of these, those who lead the organization and hold the power of life and death over their fellows and their creatures are fewer still. This last group consists of the most secretive and dangerous members of the Beast House. They are the beast slavers, hunt masters, and flesh crafters who are the true driving force behind the organization. However, all report to a single mysterious authority who’s power and mastery over the Beast House is without question, a man known as Solkarn Senk.
The Restraint of BeastsEdit
The Beast House trains any creature that comes into its hands, using methods of brutality and mental conditioning to increase its willingness to fight and kill on demand, often rendering the unfortunate creature insane or making an already dangerous predator a ravening and near-uncontrollable killer. However, for some beast slavers this is not enough. They resort to surgical and chemical augmentation, creating horrific cyber-creatures and fitting unruly beasts with injector rigs to increase their fighting potential whilst also easing their control outside of the arena. Additionally, many creatures, especially those sold for use in public arena fights, are also fitted with a surgically implanted cortex bomb for euthanasiation in emergencies (treat these devices just like the explosive collars found in the Dark Heresy armory, with a blast radius of 1 metre). However, these implants are crude and can easily be dislodged, damaged, or fail to fire. As a result, they have a 20% chance of failure. It may even be the case that capricious beast slavers will deliberately supply creatures to others with malfunctioning cortex bombs for their own sadistic pleasure.
The Beast House will deal in the transportation and smuggling of their illegal xeno-breeds, often with Rogue Traders. In 806.M41, a group of the Beast House made trade with Captain Raoul Sendethian, a Rogue Trader with a charter both ancient and extremely limited in scope, whose vessel---the Pride Ascendant---had recently discovered the remains of the Celestial Paragon, lost in M32 and now nothing more than a space hulk. Upon it, his crew encountered and infestation of Genestealers and managed to capture them in cryogenic tubes at great cost. They were sold to the Beast House of Scintilla for millions of thrones, but the Rogue Trader was captured and interrogated by Inquisitor Felroth Gelt and the foul xenos were tracked down and destroyed while still in their cryotubes---all except one, an unaccounted for Genestealer whose tube was already empty when they had arrived.
The Outer CircleEdit
The outer circle of the Beast House is made up of hired muscle, local criminal groups, and contacts developed through bribery and coercion to serve the Beast House’s interests, acting as a legitimate cover (such as licensed arena or trader operations), keeping it safe from the authorities, or simply buying its services. Made up of largely ignorant intermediaries or individuals bribed or scared enough to keep their suspicions to themselves, the Beast House at this level appears to be no more or less than a criminal enterprise dealing in xenos creatures and illegal blood sports with extensive off-world contacts. Such intermediaries may work for the Beast House without ever knowing they have done so. Others looking to enhance their reputation (and wealth) may well pick up numerous, often contradictory, rumors and dark tales that they are more than happy to spread. Of these hirelings and go-betweens, only those who show the uncommon bloodlust and particular talents the organization favors will be chosen by the Beast House to be drawn further into its ranks.
The Inner CircleEdit
The Beast House’s inner circle is made up of those who directly control outward activities, primarily the capture and trade of illegal and proscribed aliens. Secretly they also control its hidden lairs and beast-pits, and assassination, torture, narco-dealing (particularly combat drugs), mass murder, and slavery are sidelines many also indulge in. They are uniformly psychopathic, cruel, and callous individuals, selected for their brutality and skill. Rightly feared by those they deal with, a reek of darkness and a lurking feral madness hangs about them that even hardened recidivists are wary of. Consequently, few local criminals and gang leaders will cross them. Those who have direct dealings with the Beast House’s inner circle may quickly develop grave misgivings about doing so despite the rewards. Conversely, for some, the first inklings of the horrific truth of what the Beast House is are a lure rather than a warning sign, and they soon fall into the depths of what the Beast House has to offer.
The Heart of DarknessEdit
Very few know or dare suspect what lies at the Beast House’s dark heart, and the Inquisition has never been able to glean anything more than a few scattered after-action reports by shocked Adeptus Arbites strike teams. Therefore, the Holy Ordos have not yet come to realize just how dangerous or powerful the Beast House is. Behind the scenes, the Beast House is steeped in blood and unimaginable savagery. Aside from trafficking in forbidden creatures, Solkarn Senk’s true disciples conduct their own awful games and bloody entertainments, as well as creating utterly illegal fleshworks to satiate their lust for violence and sport. These include capturing alien beasts so terrible their mere presence threatens thousands of lives, fabricating murder gholams from living victims, and creating “forced” mutants and other transgenic blasphemies to serve their sick needs for spectacle and the hunt.
Senk’s inner circle are the true Beast House, and each one is a monster easily as terrible and deserving of death as any pure alien threat. Should this dark truth be fully uncovered, the Holy Ordos will be forced to strike immediately and resolutely to destroy the Beast House, but such is the widespread infiltration of Senk’s followers into the underworlds and dark recesses of the Golgenna Reach that they are more than likely to survive to work their evils again.
Three Houses of HorrorEdit
“I us’d to know an old mirker sewerjack, drink in here often one time. He us’d to say some nights he’d hear things out by the junction under the old meat-mills---horrible things---roars, screams, and bellows of great things echoing up from the dark vents---’nough to freeze the blood. Sometimes he’d hear more too, he’d hear a crowd screaming and yelling and cheering all deep down in there. Funny thing---he’d said the sound of that crowd frightened him most of all...”
—Nemo Hakeswsill, Reclaimator, Hive Gloriana, Solomon
The Beast House is a set of physical locations as much as it is an organization. Apart from its members, creatures, and public fronts, it also is comprised of dozens of distinct operations centred on hidden facilities and lairs where it can keep and modify its creatures and conduct its own private and bloody business. Each of these locations is referred to by the organization simply as the “Beast House,” adding to the confusion of others and leading many locals to believe that the place they have heard of in dark stories is the “true” home of the organization. The fact is that no one, save Solkarn Senk, knows just how many lairs there are or just how many serve him. Each Beast House has its own unique and often macabre character and garners its own tales of terror. Three are detailed here as examples.
The Iron Pit of Scintilla
The Scintillan Beast House is perhaps the most endemic and widespread in the Calixis Sector. It has contacts with many of the licensed Red Circuses that operate openly on the fringes of the Scintillan entertainment zones and in the many underhive trade-outposts on Sibellus and Gunmetal City. They also supply exotic fodder for the arenas and services for certain noble houses and wealthy cartels who desire private entertainments.
In addition to this almost public face, darker rumors about the Beast House may be bought for a price from narco-gangers and rakehell gamblers in the obscura dens connected to the trade. The rumor goes that in the sub-levels, beneath several of the most ill-reputed Red Circuses and pit fight venues, down past the blood sluices and drain culverts, somewhere in the gore-reeking darkness, hidden Beast House arenas exist where the wealthiest and most depraved secretly travel to indulge their craving for violent spectacle. The worst of these goes by the whispered name of the “Iron Pit,” which rumor places in the deepest and most lawless sector of the Sibellus underhive where even the narco-gangs will not operate. Said to occupy the great space of a long-disused reactor vessel, the Iron Pit is a huge three-dimensional maze of gantries, cages, and murderously trapped rat-runs into which innocent victims, the most savage xenos-creatures, and slave-fighters are released for the depraved sport of the onlookers. It is said only the most well-connected and powerful can get invites to these events, among them scions of the greatest noble houses, the richest cartel agents, and even officers in the Magistratum and the military. Vast sums are wagered on the results, and for those losers who cannot meet their markers, the pit itself awaits.
The Beast Hunts on Fedrid
The world of Fedrid is famous for the ferocity of its native species and its popularity with hunters and would-be beast slayers from across the sector, in particular the scions of nobility, many of whom treat the (largely) controlled dangers of a Fedrid hunt as a mark of prestige and status. Access to the world is tightly controlled, and removal of any live specimens is strictly prohibited. However, money talks, and hunting licenses can change hands for many thousands of Thrones in the courts of Scintilla and the upper echelons of the great merchant houses.
The Beast House, perhaps understandably, has its claws sunk deep into these quasi-legal hunts, illegally exporting creatures from Fedrid and providing guides, skilled trackers, and protection for many nobles who wish to hunt there. If rumor is to be believed, it also secretly partitions parts of the deadly forest as pre-prepared game reserves. Not all who hunt on Fedrid use or indeed tolerate the Beast House and its hunters, for they have a dark reputation with others of their profession. In particular, many of the feral natives despise and fear the Beast House, killing its agents when they can. Stories persist that deep within the darkest heart of the steaming equatorial forests of Fedrid a Beast House lair sits built in the long overgrown ruins of some ancient alien temple. It is said that terrible rites occur there and that in the catacombs beneath, it is men, not beasts, who are the prey.
The Hell House on Solomon
The hive world of Solomon is a dark place, much given to legends and myths. One such story speaks of the Hell House. It is a myth that seems intimately linked with the shadowy operations of the Beast House, which operates here almost entirely in the shadows of the underhives with no official recognition of its existence at all.
The so-called Hell House is said to be a vast decrepit spiremansion whose wealthy owners retreated from their polluted world and sealed themselves up within, using their resources to turn their home’s lower vaults into a museum for their collection of forbidden xenos beasts and mutated creatures. Legend has it that, as the years passed, the family grew ever more corrupt and insane and that they drank alien blood and conducted unspeakable experiments to keep themselves young and grant them unnatural powers. They grew increasingly obsessed with furthering their collection and obtaining the most deadly and strange xenos creatures, so that they in turn could feast on them and grow ever more powerful. It is said that in order to further their terrible ends, they gathered feral world killers and murderous beast hunters to provide them with new specimens, eventually leading them to create terrible living gholams to abduct victims to feed their awful collection.
The myth of Hell House is but one of a dozen such stories along the lines of the Sleepers, the Resurrected, the great Beast of Solomon, the night-heeled ripper and many more that intertwine and point to some dark truth beneath the world’s façade of civilization. Stories of the Hell House have been whispered for countless years and are particularly persistent in the smoke-levels of Hive Gloriana, where sudden spates of disappearances and the discovery of mutilated bodies are blamed on it. The local enforcers dismiss such assertions as foolish dreg nightmare stories and wanton scaremongering, but it is a telling fact that the stories are told and re-told in the gynsinks and Lyceums near where the Beast House organisation is rumoured to have links to the pit fights and gambling halls. For those investigators with an interest in hive folklore, it is noteworthy that in the oldest versions of the fable, the Hell House is sometimes called the “the House of Cages” and the name of the head of the decaying family at its heart is Sire Kor Sank, the beast father.
Against the ArbitesEdit
Only in the last few years have the Arbites made the chilling realization that their persecution of the Beast House is far from the success they had thought. Full-scale Arbitrator assaults have broken the House’s operations with two major prosecutions at Malfi and a string of successes across the Adrantis sub-sector, but Detective-Intelligencers at the Great Precinct level are now piecing together clues that imply that the House is not reeling from these setbacks, or even ignoring them, but actively benefiting from them by using such prosecutions to prune their less capable cells. The House’s backbone operations and leaders, as far as the Detectives can tell, have remained entirely quarantined from the Arbites’ efforts.
The response to this was a second wave of rigorously-planned assaults on the Beast House’s walls of secrecy, conducted by taskforces of Surveillors and Personators organized across the Pendulum and Stave High Precincts with astonishingly little of the usual politicking and territorial feuds. The operations were catastrophic failures, with entire teams of field Detectives vanishing with no intelligence to show for it, and traps and ambushes being laid for the Arbitrator squads who attempted to scour their sites of operations for clues or bodies. Since then the Beast House investigators have been on notice that Detective-Commander Doyenko is taking a particular interest in their progress, and are feverishly working to vindicate themselves..
With infiltration proving such a costly and fruitless approach, the Arbites are switching tacks and exploiting a defining weakness of the Beast House: its constant need for exotic and vicious animals. The thinking is simple: force the Beast House into visibility by choking the trade in combat creatures down to so small a fraction of itself that no hunting and transportation operations can escape scrutiny. Arbites ships are staging rolling interdictions of Fedrid and its cousin death worlds, seeding the system with spy stations when they move on. Quarantine edicts at space docks across the sector are being tightened, and ships whose routes have even brushed a death world, or one noted for dangerous fauna, are liable to be scoured by teams of Verispex. A small detachment of the bravest and most capable cyber-mastiff handlers is currently in special training on Scintilla, working with customized dogs whose sensory arrays have been built specifically to hunt down the Beast House’s cages.
The backlash against the operation has begun. The beast trade is small, but its market is elite, and the sector’s bluebloods have been listening to the complaints of their procurers and passing them on with interest to their Imperial governors. The backbone of the operation, the fleet interdiction, needs far more ships than the Precinct Fleet can afford to give it and despite its best efforts its coverage is patchy. The taskforce has had to resort to placing Chartist vessels under Adeptus commissions to assist with the interdiction, much to their chagrin. The Detectives are trying to make a virtue of this necessity by setting careful watches on these privateers, watching for evidence of Beast House collusion or infiltration.
Inquisitorial Threat BriefingEdit
Although long believed to be little more than a habitual name given to illegal blood arena operations and xenos-creature smuggling, the Beast House now has been revealed at least in part to be a widespread, unified, and dangerous organization, whose dealings with the alien warrant its destruction and the extinction of its members. Much of it remains hidden behind layers of secrecy and more mundane criminality, but what seems certain is that vile inhuman practices and abominable xenos fleshworks lie at its heart. The whole of the Beast House is believed to be under the control of a single arch-recidivist known as Solkarn Senk.
Senk is, to put it bluntly, a monster who has forfeited his life in the Inquisition’s eyes, a human who has thrived and built a petty empire out of the vices and suffering of others and the hunting of alien and human prey. Senk’s organisation has a front in quasi-legal fighting arenas and the criminal underworld dealing in the provision and breeding of dangerous beasts with sidelines in running hunts and blood sports for the wealthy. Its connections and clientele are extensive and powerfully situated— from doomsday cults and narco-gangs to powerful factions of the sector elite and Rogue Traders with dealings beyond the writ of Imperial law. The Beast House organization is the current subject of widespread covert and overt Ordo Xenos investigations whose outcomes will determine a more comprehensive and final action by the Inquisition. The Beast House and its activities should be treated with the direst suspicion and the utmost caution.
As a ResourceEdit
What It Provides: The Beast House is able to obtain a live example of almost any alien species, as well as many forms of alien technology, especially melee weaponry.
Prerequisites: Forbidden Lore (Cults, Heresy, or Xenos) +20.
Resource Test Modifier: +30.
Price/Cost: The Beast House requires either an extortionate sum of money, the patronage of a powerful individual (and certain favors owed by him in advance), a large number of slaves for the Red Cages, a rare and exquisite specimen to fight in the Red Cages, or some other despicable payment.
Scum: The Beast Slaver
Cost: 100 XP
Some in the Inquisition actively seek out those who have been former associates of the Beast House, however peripherally. Such an obviously dubious individual is a potential infiltrator into the darkest reaches of the underworld or simply has use as a “lightning rod” for elements the Inquisitor wishes to flush out. Their agreement makes little matter either way.
Effects: Apply all of the following changes to your character:
Skills: Gain Forbidden Lore (Mutants) (Int) or Scholastics Lore (Beasts) (Int).
Talents: You start with Melee Weapon Training (Shock) and Peer (Underworld).
Corruption Points: You begin the game with 1d5 Corruption Points.