Wandering in Dark Places (40K)

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Wandering in Dark Places (40K)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2014-12-27 06:53am

Ivar Trask

I'm not much of a philosopher. Deep thinking isn't something I'm good at. Stealing, killing, keeping order, and knowing when to keep my head down are more my skill set. That don't mean I don't have any ambitions. I got plenty, I just don't reach too far. That gets your cut off.

That's why I'm standing in this Throne forsaken jungle on this Throne forsaken planet in this Throne forsaken rain breathing through this Throne forsaken filter mask because of the Throne forsaken spoors in the Throne forsaken air. Why am I here? I'm here because important men need men like me to make things run smooth. They don't care how much blood it takes to lube the gears and neither do I.

The pit's below me. It's huge, nearly a kilometer in diameter and the top of the xeno step pyramid showing in the bottom. The digging machinery is run by servitors and supervised by a bunch of tech-heads. My job is to keep the tech-heads on schedule and run the muscle.

Yelsin climbs up the scaffolding towards me. He's wearing weather cloak and filter mask like everybody and his las is slung around his shoulder. "Boss."


"They think they've found doors."

"Finally. Thank the Throne." I unsling my combat shotgun and head on down. The tech heads are waiting for us as we stepped off the scaffolding and onto the step pyramid.

"Rohrs. Tallin."

Rohrs was a pretty red haired piece that I would love to pin against the wall and give a good shafting too. She thought she was too good for me and for now she could get away with it but I would have my day. I always do. But for now, she could get away with it. Tallin was skinny and nervous. Knew his place. "This it?"

"We think so," said Tallin. He was almost stuttering. "The carvings on these panels is more elaborate, like the other doors." The stone was covered with wavy bullshit markings. I couldn't honestly tell which was which.

"Then get it done. Blow 'em."

The tech heads got back as the demo guys came forward and rigged charges. The bullshit not stone composite or whatever the pyramids were made of was tough, but not too tough. Don't want to damage the good stuff inside. That was enough to make fortunes. The captains, his contacts, his officers, and even mine. Especial-fuckingly mine.

Boom wen the detonators and a black maw leading to the inside was revealed. I headed over to Starky with the commo set. "Tell The Man that we've got it open. He can land when ready."

Starky relayed the message. The Man liked to be in on the ground when we made good finds, but he didn't much like nasty surprises so part of the job was to clear the way just ahead of him. "Yelsin, Dax, Rivers, Two Knives. Sweep in front."

They unlimbered their guns and turned on their underbarrel lights. Nine times out of ten this shit isn't necessary and every one of these pyramids has been stone dead and harmless, but the right way to do it is the right way do it. No one wants to get their face bitten off because some asshole got sloppy.

"Harben, Stills, Painless, Virgo. With me." We head in as the second wave. Perks of being boss. The interior is like the other places. Wavy patterns on the walls with clusters of gems here and there. Gems worth good money. Doors on the other end are open. Beyond is a ramp down.


"Boss?" asked Rivers.

"Usually we have to blow them open."

"Not everytime."


"Boss!" said Yelsin. "You gotta see this!"

I gestured for the boys to come on. We headed down the ramp and it did a turn about and came to another interior room. The first wave was there and Throne had they made a fine. The walls were same as usual, but there were four waist high podiums composed of clusters of crystal rods. In front of each podium was a floor to ceiling column of transparent crystal. "Throne."

"Rivers. Auspex. Tell me that's what I think it is."

Rivers ran the machine. "The rods are corundum boss. Sapphire and ruby. The pillars are diamond."

"Holy Throne. Six meters by two meter columns of xenoformed diamond. Worth, fuck, worth who knows how much in the Cold Trade. And on the second room. Crack the next door. The Man is going to love this and we're going to be able to fuck every whore in Port Said."

"Yes sir, Mister Bossman," said Yelsin with a shit-eating grin on his face. He and Dax headed to the door. They slung their guns and reached for the join where the doors came together. Sometimes you could muscle them, sometime you couldn't.

The doors opened like a shot. Two barbed tentacles as thick as a man's torso grabbed them both and pulled them into the darkness beyond. We opened up. Yeah, not so good for Yelsin and Dax, but they were fucked anyway. Autoguns and shotguns roared deafeningly. Las beams cut the darkness. Something huge darted forward and tentacles lashed out again. Something hit me in the head and I went down.
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Re: Wandering in Dark Places (40K)

Postby Grimnosh » 2014-12-27 09:39am

This sounds like good and proper fun.

Wavy patterns carved into tough black stone, could be something from the Necrons, but they are not the only races out there after all. As for the tentacle beasties, well who knows until IO posts again.
You know, its remarkably easy to feed an undead army if all you have are just enemies....

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Re: Wandering in Dark Places (40K)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2014-12-30 07:04am

Iskhandar Krain

With the presence of a dozen minders, the trolley car was cramped and claustrophobic. Under other circumstances I would have spent time at the window, gazing into the huge construction bay where the skeleton of a navy cruiser hung motionless in zero gee. Massive slabs or armour and colossal equipment spires are dwarfed to the size of minnows by the size of the cruiser and the kilometers of distance.

If there had been time I wouldn't be in the trolley car, instead dropping from gantry to gantry, clicking on my mag boots in between leaps. But I didn't have time and I didn't have the freedom. It had been a long time since I had the freedom. So I stood at the center of a group of eight men huge men sworn to guard my life and to take it should I become a danger to those around me.

The car reached the far end and began to crawl down the wall. The car reached the stop and the gates hissed open. The first two minders marched out. They were big men, bulked up by heavy armour and full cloaks, their features shrouded by death's head helms. The shock-staves in their hands were more than enough to force right of way.

I had seen them force through angry crowds before. With the staves they could take on ten times their numbers without having to resort to the lascarbines. I've never seen them kill. I hoped I never would.

We took up most of the corridor. The pace they forced was fast, but my legs were longer and I was carrying less gear. I kept up. We were heading to a docking ring. Through the observation portals I could make out the shape of a ship. As we got closer I stepped aside to get a better look. My minders reformed around me.

It was a big one, two kilometers long but lacking the swordblade build of a frigate. Too wide and too many gun castles backed by too many weapon emplacements. It was a system monitor, a gun boat built without warp drive or Geller field and the extra mass given over to power plants, armour, and guns. As ships went they were tenacious bulldogs and were usually the meanest ship in a system navy.

One of my minders, Cabrah I think, gently pulled me back. The airlock was cycling. Behind us I could hear more boots on metal and I turned my head. Servitors with specialist auger arrays and unusual tool arms were escorting a bald man wearing a white coat. They were following in our wake.

Grey clad PDF spacers were waiting for us. The directed us down the boarding tube and through the other side. The air inside contained the metallic and oily scents of station air, but seemed staler. I think some of their recycs were having issues. More spacers directed us down a corridor until we came to a large blast door guarded by ship's security in heavy armour. Their pump fed large bore shotguns were not pointed at us. Their were more ship security on the other side and doors on either side of the corridor.

They were counted off. My minders got rooms in batches of two and were given key cards. I got one to my self. The kid who handed me my card looked barely eighteen. "Meals at 0700 ship time, 1200, and 1800," he said. "Mess is a little further down the hall. You may mingle with anyone in this section but you may not leave this section without permission."

"What is this about?" I asked.

"I don't know and even if I did, my orders are not to talk about it," he replied. There was fear in his eyes and it wasn't fear of me. The white coated man and his servitors were being handled. The servitors went to one room, the man to another.

He looked at me. He was almost my height, which is considerable, but more slender. His right eye was either covered or replaced by a multi-lensed optic. He was bald, with numerous scars criss-crossing his head. He displayed no fear when he looked at me. "Psykanna," he said without inflection. "Interesting. I don't suppose you know why we're here?"

"No," I replied. "Who are you?"

"Evingon Smythe," he replied. "Invigilator-Magnus, Adjunct Councilor, and Investigator-Magistrate." Having been at Port Said for scarcely longer than a year I barely understood those titles but if what I could glean from them was accurate he was a royal councilor, a senior official in the secret police, and prosecutor and judge combined.

"You don't know?"

"No," he said irritatedly. "And someone will pay dearly for this unless they are very, very well connected."

This definitely seemed like more trouble than I wanted. I opened the door to my suite. The furnishings were simple, but high quality. Thick rugs, a large bed, what looked like an en suite bathroom, brass light fixtures, and so forth. Not luxurious but far nicer than common steerage.

"Better make yourself comfortable and practice patience boy," said Smythe. "The powerful like to make other men wait. Reminds them who holds the whip. I should know."

"As you say sir," I replied. "If you'll excuse me, I'm very tired," I lied.

"Go," he said with a wave of his hand. I closed the door behind me and sighed with relief. What in the Emperor's name was going on?
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Re: Wandering in Dark Places (40K)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2015-01-02 04:17am

Valeria Corinus

The interior of a Rhino stinks of oil, promethium, and human sweat. A dozen men and women in full combat gear leave very little space. I hate cramped spaces. I'm not claustrophobic, I just don't like tight spaces. This made me more inclined to inflict violence than usual, which was good because we were raiding Low Hive gangers and that meant I was probably going to have to kill a lot of people. Such is the cost of duty and the price of insurrection against the God-Emperor's rule. Or those of his anointed vassals, as was the case in this particular matter.

There was a loud crash from in front. "What in the Thirteen Hells was that?" asked Wells. As we were all wearing full night-black Enforcer Carapace armour with full helmets and face shields, I could recognize him mostly by his choice of swear worlds. The Imperial Cult on his home world was . . . odd. Within the bounds of orthodoxy, but odd. He had to shout to make himself heard.

Our Rhino came to a jarring halt. Loud bangs rumbled from behind. Explosions. "Heavy weapons!" I shouted. The ambush was simple and effective. Knock out one of the lead vehicles and one at the back and all the vehicles in between are trapped. The gangers shouldn't have anti-armour weapons, but clearly they dead. Someone undogged the hatch and kicked it open. "Out out out!" I shouted.

My boys and girls began piling out. Something hit the Rhino. It felt like a giant was using it as a gong. I staggered against the side and banged my head hard against the Rhino. Smoke was everywhere and the thunder of heavy weapons was constant. I groped for the hatch and found it. I flopped out like a fish out of water. My boys and girls pulled me out and too my feet.

Half the column was burning. We were using Rhino variants with turrets fitted to the Rhino chassis equipped with autocannons with coaxial water cannons. The water cannons weren't in use, but the autocannons were. Those that were still operational. Our column was surrounded by hab stacks twenty stories and weapon's fire was coming from far too many of them. A missile contrail streaked through the air from an upper story window some two hundred meters away to strike the turret of the Rhino two vehicles behind us. The turret exploded in in fire and steam, flipping ten meters up in the air and then it came crashing down. It crushed a poor bastard when it hit the street.

Las and solid rounds were coming at us from dozens of windows. Our riot shields and the Rhinos gave us some cover but we were getting hit from all sides. We were getting hammered. A few of us were returning fire, but that wasn't doing much. An autocannon was chewing up the Rhino in front of us. Someone, I think it was Benarus, took a high powered las hit in the throat. The tissue vaporization blew open ragged holes in the front and the back. Hot shot long las by the the look of it. Shit.

I gestured to Rickard, pointing at the door of a nearby building. It's hard to be heard over the sound of all this gunfire. "Get the door! I'll cover!" I think he got it. He tapped his combat shotgun and nodded. I gestured. "Go!"

We hauled ass across the street with riot shields held out to cover us against some of the incoming fire. Las and solid rounds struck around us. The accuracy was pretty bad but they seemed to have a lot of shooters. A pair of hits rattled my shield. Rickard shifted his shield and readied his gun. He blew the hinges and kicked it in.

One of the fuckers who was trying to kill me got the range. I took several solid hits from a slugger on my riot shield. My arm ached from the hits but my shield held. I ran through the doorway. Rounds smacked into the wall.

"Rickard. Window. Covering fire." I was practically shouting. I switched magazines from Amputator explosive-submunitions to Executioner seeking rounds. I got to a window and began firing methodically at the windows where they were shooting at my people.

I burned through half a drum and changed windows. Over the squad vox I yelled "go for the door!" and resumed shooting. It didn't take me long to burn through the Executioners. I withdrew from the window and reloaded with Amputators. There were seven Arbitrators in the room with me. Four of my people hadn't made it.

"Covering fire for the other squads. Rickard. Stakks. Zoltan. Push in and secure the interior area!"

There's an explosion behind me and the shockwave hits me like a hammer. I hit the ground hard and am stunned for a moment. I half crawled, was half dragged away from the new hole in the wall. "Throne of Earth!" I swore.

"Intelligencer, what now?" Stinnes asked.

"Get our people out of the kill zone. Get us some kind of reliable vox-link instead of this hash. Attack into the ambush. Auspex and servo skulls to get us some mapping worth a damn! Go building to building and take the fight to them. No rebel wins a fight against the Arbites! Ever!"
Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2015-01-19 07:03am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wandering in Dark Places (40K)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2015-01-05 06:37am

Daren Sehotas

"I don't know about this soup," said Galt. "There's something off about it."

"That's because you're a half-civilized savage who should be in a labour hab," drawled Ariq. "Here's a clue: something doesn't have to be heated into a molten state by excessive spicing to be good."

I smiled at that. Galt did have next to no taste when it came to food, with a definite preference for quantity above quality. His waistline was beginning to reflect it.

"Just because you're a wuss Ariq doesn't mean that a real man doesn't appreciate proper flavoring," he replied. "And she's back."

I noticed. How could I not? Tall, wearing a Skyrinx fur lined jacket and with long legs to die for, and a tan that was either genetics, her medicae's best work, or time under a sun lamp. Piercing blue eyes and shoulder length golden blonde hair. And I like them slim and leggy.

"Yeah," I said. She walked over to the cafe's counter, which gave me a nice view of her ass. I enjoyed the view as she got a sandwich and a mug of something and took a seat at a table by the balcony. It gave her a good view of the city, not that there was much to look at.

I drank the last of what was left and I pushed my chai mug into the table and my chair back. I straightened my tunic and cleared my throat.

"Oh shit," said Ariq. "My boy is going for it. Attack run commencing."

"After you fail," said Galt, "I'll show you how its done."

I strode across the cafe toward her table. She looked up from her sandwich. "Hello," I said. "My name's Daren Sehotas, of the Mass Works Sehotas. Mind if I join you?"

She smiled and looked up at me. "That always work for you, pretty boy?"

I shrugged. "Not always, but sometimes it gets my foot in the door. Hard to tell if the name matters more than my looks?"

"Let me relieve you of your dilemma: you're not that good looking."

"I suppose that will be my burden to bear. You, on the other hand, are definitely that good looking. I'm here and I don't even know your name."

"Is this where I'm overawed by your presence and let you court me?"

"Truthfully, I was hoping it getting me enough of an in that you'll get to know me before deciding to kick me to the curb."

"And why would I be worth your time?"

"Well, when I came over all I could say is that you're stunningly attractive, have good taste in eating establishments, and bother to read so there was at least a little common ground. Now I know you're not that impressed with the family name and have a good sense of humour so I'm definitely interested."

"You know nothing about my life."

"See? We have plenty to talk about. New depths to discover."

She laughed. "Alright pretty boy, sit down. And you can collect whatever bet you made with your friends. You just passed lunch."

"Excellent. So, mysterious lady, what is your name?"

"Bellamora Skaringulfar."

"Don't know the family."

"No reason you should. Not everyone who lives in the High Spires is a noble or a retainer."

"Now I'm more interested."

"Hmmm," she said. "And what's in it for me?"

"How does wealth and power sound?"

"You're a little young for the 'power' part."

"Yeah, but I work for the government with the education that the family bought and in a job commensurate with my status. I have a ton of power to abuse. Trust me."

"I don't know if I should."

"Well, if you want I can have you arrested to prove it. Dark cell, isolation, blasted with cold water. Senseless beatings optional."

"I'll pass."

"Are you sure? If you want slightly less creepy I could read you all the unclassified bits of your official file. Not nearly as fun as getting to know you, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes."

"Does this actually work?"

"Only on the ones with a sense of humour."

"Alright, you've got your shot. I'm free tomorrow night. Take me someplace interesting."

"Any preferences?"

"Surprise me."
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Re: Wandering in Dark Places (40K)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2015-01-06 07:04am

Iskhandar Krain

It wasn't long before I felt the soft rumble of maneuvering thrusters and then the push of the main drive. The grav compensated for most it, but at this I was an old hand. We were on our way.

A PDF functionary came to summon me to dinner. The dining hall wasn't far and it was big. There were well over a hundred people inside and it was clearly for officers and guests by the decor. The room was covered in wood paneling and crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Besides the host of guards and servants, there were at least two tech priests, several high ranking PDF officers, several Sororitas Sisters in formal robes, and a gaggle of high functionaries/nobles that I couldn't identify. It was an impressive gathering, almost all of whom outranked me.

But not all. I quickly saw the lines of rank and status. A small table off to the side hosted three astropaths and two fellow Psykanna psykers. The Psykanna psykers I knew. They were from Port Said's compliment. I took my place there, among my fellow psykers and our omnipresent wardens.

"You should eat up," said Jules. "They're feeding us pretty well."

"That's because of them," said one of the astropaths with a nod of her head, a withered woman who looked to be mummified. "It's just simpler to include us as well."

"There speaks the voice of optimism," said Jules. "Think she would have learned better, living as long as she has," Jules continued. She should talk. She didn't look much older than mid thirties, but she was a expert biomancer as well as being valuable enough to get juvenant treatment. She could be any age.

"Fool," said the astropath. "We're just here to be used up and fed into the furnace."

"Cheery," said Jules. I took a spoonful of soup. It was potato based and subtly spiced. It was delicious. We ate well, but not this good. "Good, isn't it?" said Jules. "Try the wine. And this is just the soup course."

"Anyone know what's going on?" I asked. "Three Psykanna psykers, three astropaths. That's a lot of psykers and then there's the rest."

Jules shrugged. "Something in space."

I rolled my eyes. "Genius."

"Nothing good," said the talkative astropath. "Too many of the great and good hauled out here without a 'by your leave'. Someone powerful, someone very powerful with a great deal at stakes. Six psykers to send to the furnace. Six packets of fuel to burn on this mystery."

"Flavia's right, you know," said another astropath. Bald, male, hard to tell his age. Juvenant treatments. Silver optics set with aquamarines filled his eye sockets. "You don't conscript the powerful over nothing and we are another resource to be used and used up."

Flavia cackled. "Someone has learned some wisdom."

"Yes," said the male astropath, "but having said that, the young woman is quite correct. The food is excellent and if we die we can die having dined well. I look forward to the meat course."

"Do you think," I asked softly, "it could be," I hesitated here. There were some things one did not say lightly. "The Inquisition."

The table went silent. "Yes," said the male, "yes that might be the case."

"They aren't real," said Jules.

"Yes," said the male, "they are. They do what they do, conscript whatever resources they want, do their damage, and leave. Not much is left in their wake."

"You survived."

"I was at the edge. A whole ship vanished like it was piloted into a black hole. Not one of them was ever seen again. I hope the Inquisition inducted them, but we all know that it could have just as easily shot them into the sun. So much power and so much secrecy. No one keeps secrets as well as the dead."

"And yet you are an astropath and alive."

"One who sent no messages and never boarded that ship. We're a valuable resources, essential even, but there are enough to waste a few here and there. And they hate us. Hate us and fear us. They're always more at ease when we're dead."

There was nothing said after that. He was right. They were always happier with us dead, no matter what we did for them. The dinner was excellent. I don't have the pallet to judge the wines or the knowledge to identify most of the dishes, but they were delicious. Tender meat that slid off the bone, splendid sauces, and tasty vegetables with a light custardy dessert.

I slept well on silk sheets. I took more meals in the luxurious dining chamber and exercised in a corner of the well appointed gymnasium. The day passed and another night. We took in another fine breakfast. Servants cleared away the dishes and five men entered. Four were PDF security troops in hardened void armour and autofiring shotgun. The fifth was very tall and wore a red silk robe. Black armour covered his body and his face was hidden by a chrome skull mask. He walked to the far end of the hall and turned back to face us.

He levitated up until he was floating a meter off the floor. His voice came through clear and loud, probably due to equipment built into his helmet. "Ladies and gentlemen, you have been wondering who has conscripted you and why. These questions, and others, will be answered.

"I am Helix and I am an agent of the Throne. This operation is proceeding under the power and authority of the Inquisition." A holograthic stylized 'I' and skull insignia floated in the air. "Failure to offer full and complete cooperation is treason and heresy.

"Your skills are needed to assist with an investigation." The eye vanished, to be replaced with an image of a space ship. Leaner than a freighter, maybe a frigate, and mustering many gun emplacements. "This is the sprint trader Saint Gustav's Pride. She was found on the outskirts of the system, cold and open to the void. This does not fit the pattern of any known threat in this subsector. Investigation is required. We are fulfilling that requirement.

"We will make contact with the ship in three hours. Prepare yourselves. That is all. May the Emperor watch over you all. We are doing His work."
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Re: Wandering in Dark Places (40K)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2015-01-19 07:02am

Valeria Corinus

The next few minutes were a blur. We provided covering fire for our comrades as they attempted to reach the relative safety of the building we held. We burned through our supplies of Executioner rounds firing the seeker projectiles into heavy weapons positions. Some fell silent, others did not. We attempted to supress the enemy's fire and were in turn driven back by shear weight of fire. They were lousy shots, but there were a lot of them.

The walking wounded carried the crippled into interior of the hab stack. We kicked down doors and shot any who showed any sign of resistance. We tore sheets into bandages and secured beds for the wounded. Only a few took advantage of the beds. All of them wanted to fight.

Field Medicae trained troopers made use of our few field medkits. More were burning with our Rhinos. "Anyone got a vox set with any range?" I yelled out.

A junior trooper who I didn't know had a backpack vox. "Here ma'am," he said as he slipped it off.

"Good," I said.

"What's the plan Intelligencer?" Rickard asked. His helmet was off and there was dust on his shaved head.

"Anyone with more rank than me?" I asked.

"Not that made it," he said.

"You," I said to the junior trooper. "Get me the courthouse. I need to speak with the Lord Marshall."

I turned back to Rickard. "I'm going to see if we can get reinforcements. This is a direct assault on Imperial authority. Find eight troopers. I want two four man kill teams sweeping this hab stack. The enemy could be close."

"The enemy is close," he replied. He saw the look on my face. "Yes ma'am."

"What are you waiting for?" I said. "Get to it."

"Ma'am?" said the young trooper, holding out the receiver. "I have the Lord Marshall."

I took the receiver. "My Lord, we urgently require assistance."

"To whom am I speaking?" he rumbled back at me.

"Intelligencer Valeria Corinus," I replied. "My lord, we are under heavy enemy attack. We need reinforcements immediatly."

"Where is Marshall Warington?" he asked.

"Dead," I replied. "Burning in his Rhino. My lord, the enemy was waiting for us in force."


"And yet it is happening. My lord, my people urgently need reinforcements. Heavy reinforcements." I resisted the urge to scream.

"Very well," he said. "I will assemble a relief force."

I bit my tongue. "Thank you, my lord."

"There will be an acounting after."

"Of course, my lord." He hung up. I breathed out. "You," I said to the junior trooper. "What's your name?"


"Kennerly, get the highest ranked Enforcer you can on the line. Then PDF and then see if you can reach the Sororitas."

Rickard came back, this time helmeted up. "Teams dispatched."

"Good. Assemble as many four man teams as you can."

"You're serious about counter attack." His voice was flat.

"You don't let an ambush suceed, you attack out of it. We attack, before they reposition, surround us, and systematically grind us down."

"They're ganger trash."

"Not anymore. Now they're amateur soldiers. We push now, before one their leaders gets into his to complete the circle. Routes around back, out of the firing lines or through maintenance tunnels. Auspex for path finding units."

"We should hole up, not this."

"You have your orders. Will you execute them?"

Rickard slammed his fist against his breastplate. "Ave Intelligencer."

"Then get it done."

"Ma'am," said Kennerly. "I have Grand Sentinel Boralis."

I stuck out my hand. "Hand it over."
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Re: Wandering in Dark Places (40K)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2015-02-09 04:55am

Daren Sehotas

What can I say? I was in a good mood when I walked passed the guards are the Golden Port and into Hall of Solemnity. The giant portraits of long dead ministers looked down on me from ivory walls, a circumstance that had long ago failed to intimidate me. I was almost singing when I walked into my offices.

The décor was typical of the ministerial offices. Deep red carpet, rich wood panelling, and desks of dark wood with ivory and brass instruments. "Deputy Minister," said Irene from the reception desk. She was almost an institution in this place. She was well over a hundred and had some juvenat work, but her eyes were chromed replacements. Her dark dress and hat were very conservative and, with the simple addition of a veil, would not be out of place in a funeral.

"Hello Irene," I replied, repressing the urge to whistle.

"The Minister wishes to see you immediately," she replied.

"Of course," I answered. The Minister was a solid old soul, but relaying the Governor-Commander's orders and holding forth at his social clubs were more his speed these days. "Let him know I'll be right in."

I crossed the chamber and went down the hall to to Minister's office where I opened the door and stepped in. Flora was at her desk in the outer office, a gorgeous red head who had earned her way out of the labour habs on her knees and her back if rumour was to be believed (and it probably should be believed because I had seen her records). She was also a competent secretary and the Emperor knows the Minister needed that more than he needed another mistress. She said "he's expecting you."

I knocked at the door to the inner office. "Come in," the Minister bellowed. There was nothing wrong with his lungs, which should be the case since they were literally the lungs of a twenty year old executed for something or another last year. I turned the knob and stepped inside.

The Minsiter's office was a sprawling affair with shelving set aside for awards, trophies, and pictures of the Minister with various dignitaries including the Cardinal and the Governor-Commander. A vast window dominated the far wall and several holos floated in the air in front of him, which was odd because he almost never used the holo display. "Sir," I said. "You wanted to see me?"

Here was where I would receive the Imperial Will, in the form of the commands of His viceroy, the Governor-Commander, and relayed through his servant the Minister and would begin the process of making that Will reality. "Yes, yes," he said waving his arm. The Minister was pushing one fifty kilos and his hand was flabby and swollen. The heavy gold rings had to be interfering with the circulation of his pudgy fingers, but that was the least of his health problems. "There's something of a situation."

"How so Minister?" I replied in my most earnest underling manner.

"The Arbites have gotten themselves into a spot of bother. Some kind of uprising. Need reinforcements and all that and it falls under the jurisdiction of our department. It needs to be seen to and done well."

"Of course Minister." What in the Holy Name of the Emperor was going on? "With your permission I'll see to this matter immediately."

His heavy hand slapped off the holos. "Good on you, my boy. Knew I could rely on you." Which meant that he would get the credit and I would get sacked if things went wrong, but that's how things always went. This way I actually had a hand in my own fate, rather than praying that the Minister would manage to pull things off.

"Well, I'll be off immediately sir, to take care of this matter."

"Yes, yes. Put on a good show Sehotas. The honour of our department rests on your shoulders."

"Yes sir. I won't let you down sir." I bowed and retreated, heading back towards my offices. Thank the Throne Jehrone was there.

"Sir, there's been a situation."

"Yes, I know." Jehrone was a steady guy, not much older than I was, who had been scholarship raised out of the labour habs. My best move at this job was snagging him as my secretary. He short and skinny with curly red-brown hair and freckles but he could do his job better than most. I needed him now.

"So the Arbites are in a jam. Details?"

"A column of Arbites was brought under heavy attack by a hab gang with heavy weapons."

"A hab gang?"

"Yes," he replied. "A hab gang associated with the Glorious Rebirth Cult. They may in fact be acting as the cult's militia and have the contacts that that implies. While the Arbites have not told us the purpose of their raid it might very well have been to annihilate this gang before it becomes the nucleus of a revolutionary movement."

"The Glorious Rebirth hasn't been banned has it?" I asked. "I mean not yet. Borderline othodoxy, emphasis on redemption through work and suffering?"

"That's correct. Watch listed, but within the legal bounds. Until today, that is."

"Right. So what's the current situation?"

"The Arbites are under attack and have asked for assistance. We don't know much more than that."

"We know its reached the Minister and very little reaches the Minister without reaching us or the Governor-Commander first. So where did this come from?"

"The Governor-Commander's office."

"So we better have good news by dinner then. We need to coordinate coms between the Sentinels, the Arbites, and the PDF. Who do we know that can do that?"

"Refaines in the Support Department."

"Good. Get them on it. Then get me Grand Sentinel whatever his name is and find out what PDF units we have on hand that we can get to the area. And Grand Marshall what's his name of the Arbites."

"Yes sir."

"Not necessarily in that order but I want them and I want them as fast as possible. Also a map of the area if we can manage it."

"Yes sir."

I opened the door to my inner office and activated the holo projector. "Orbital observation, Piety Hive," I commanded. The sprawl of Piety appeared in the air, from the rundown outskirts to the blocks of labour habs to the spires of the High Towers and the Pristine Palace. I hit the vox. "Jehrune, where's the fighting taking place?"

He told me. I scrolled the map. Beetle-like Rhinos burned in the streets. "I have the Grand Sentinel," he said.

"Put him on."

"My Lord Grand Sentinel?" I asked.

"I am here, Lord Deputy Minister."

"Good. Have you been appraised of the situation?"

"I have, my Lord Deputy Minister."

"Good. The Governor-Commander expects this uprising to be crushed. By Imperial Law, the Grand Marshall of the Arbites has operational command. You will commit all of your available forces to assist in subduing this uprising. And Grand Marshall, I mean all."

"Deputy Minister, this is most-"

"Grand Marshall this is most irregular but I will be reporting to the Governor-Commander and to Arbites Judges by this evening. The Judges will be in a shooting mood. They will be looking for someone to blame who is not from their ranks. You understand how this works yes?"

"Why of course. There will be no room to doubt the dedication of the Sentinels of Piety when it comes to this matter. We shall do our part."

"Excellent. Expect additional reinforcements from the PDF."

"Will that really be necessary?"

"I don't intend to be found lacking in this matter Grand Sentinel."

"Well yes, most wise in that case."

"Good day sir."

"May the Emperor Protect." I hung up. "He had better. All our asses are in a sling."
The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana

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