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In the cluttered mid-hive of Sibellus, a journeywoman metal fabricator suspected of stealing Mechanicus archprints and using them to build cages for the Beast House vanished from her family’s modest forge less than an hour before the Arbitrators blasted in the entry hatch. There was no spoor for the Mastiffs to track, and whatever papers she used to escape from the hive and possibly from the planet, were good enough to pass Arbites checkpoints that had been put on alert for her.

At the far borders of the Malfian Sub-sector the shipmasters of the long-haulers Tread of Generations and Rock of Sybea arrived in orbit at Cindar to confer with a delegation of the Machenko Dynasty. Detectives had set their traps very carefully. The ships were suspected of conspiring to delay shipments of fissile elements to Cindar, running the fuel stocks for the reactors critically low and driving prices so high in the resultant panics that the Dynasty could charge almost any price they wished. When the doors closed, however, every trick, device, and spy the Surveillors had planted went dead, their machine-spirits struck blind and deaf until the doors opened and the Dynasty delegation graciously showed their visitors out. The next day both ships departed, and, by amazing chance, every informant the Detective-Espionists had placed onboard ended up in the same drunken group that just happened to be left behind on the docks when the ships pushed back and left for their jump points.

Such alarming reports have been crisscrossing the Great Precinct more and more frequently. The Arbites can see the evidence of activities of Two-and-Mirror, but have barely begun to piece together any information about the organization, let alone land any counter-blows to it.

Two-and-Mirror has no real criminal aims of its own. It is an enabling organization, one with a unique channel of information into the heart of Adeptus Arbites operations and the skill to construct countermeasures that it sells to any criminal willing to meet its prices. It knows techniques to foil very specific design loopholes in cyber-mastiff and grapplehawk sensors, and it knows Verispex doctrine and can wreck the evidence those adepts look for. It knows the techniques of the Detectives, and can extract information on their informants and operations. It knows many of the Arbites’ codes and their code-breakers, and can translate the former and thwart the latter---always for a price.

The most unnerving thing about Two-and-Mirror’s techniques is that they are obviously based on intimate knowledge from within branches of the Arbites, and they are able to update that knowledge as it changes. That indicates multiple points of failure within the Arbites, all organized and made available for buying, or to a handful of senior Arbites who can obtain the information through proper internal channels before they sell it outside.

Neither option helps Precinct Commanders sleep at night. Two-and-Mirror is elusive, even to its customers. It is almost impossible to find; rather, its representatives will discreetly make it known to clients that they have skills which may shortly become very valuable. Agents, drops, and meeting-places are marked with the combination of symbols that give the organization its name---there will be some combination of a hand, a bird, and a mirror, different each time, that will provide the clue. The symbology is a wry crack at Two-and-Mirror’s nature: the eagle of the Adeptus and the gauntlet of the Arbites, inverted in reflection.

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