Author Topic: Rewards of the Enemy  (Read 3735 times)

Offline Heroka Vendile

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Rewards of the Enemy
« on: August 12, 2009, 06:20:47 PM »
Rewards of the Enemy


Date: 103.900.M40
Location: Darklight [Adeptus Mechanicus Facility]
Planet: RT67-XC2 (pop. 128)

Technographer 3rd grade Lor Bescal grunted in pain as his face slammed into the hard metal decking. Bright red blood started to stream freely from the broken nose as he scrabbled back onto his feet, cursing the piece of cabling he’d tripped over, before running off down the corridor. Dark red mechanicus robes flapping around him as he went.

The sounds of battle raged behind him as he raced to the unmanned comms chamber, the small detachment of skitarii and combat servitors assigned to the complex were staunchly fighting to the last against the enemy.

They had come out of nowhere; the facility had been quiet – aside from the normal background noises of any place belonging to the adeptus mechanicus – being primarily a place for theoretical research rather than the noise-some manufacturing for which the mechanicus were better known. The western entrance had been blown open before any sirens had sounded, taking them all completely by surprise.

Xenos soldiers had stormed through the doorway, quickly despatching those in the immediately surrounding chambers of the underground complex. Those who could fought back, but to little avail, within minutes the aliens had forged their way straight across the facility to the only other entrance at the eastern side, effectively splitting the defenders into two separate forces. More aliens continued to stream in, their goal to simply obliterate all within.

As soon as the severity of the situation had been realised, and with the volume of noise around them and level of panic on the internal vox traffic that didn’t take long, Magos Travock had ordered Bescal to run and contact Stormhaven for immediate assistance.

Meanwhile everyone from the lowest serfs to the Cyber Seers and even the Magos herself grabbed weapons and joined the fighting, putting up a good front, but one which couldn’t last against the overwhelming numbers assaulting them. A dozen aliens would rush down narrow corridors at once, so that even though more than half would be killed, the remainder would still manage to get in close and brutally despatch the mechanicus trying to hold them off.

As Bescal reached the final corridor junction on his journey, he almost ran straight into Enginseer Holf, coming from the corridor to his right. Behind Holf were six serfs and Mech-Wright Baalsk, armed with a mixture of weaponry – mostly improvised in the case of the serfs.

Hellgun cradled in one arm, Holf pointed down the corridor across from where Bescal had come from,

“Xenos coming round from Omega block, we’ll hold them back while you contact Stormhaven. Quickly now!”

With a nod, Bescal turned and went up the corridor to his left to the comms room, while Holf and the others set themselves up in firing positions around the junction.

An explosion sounded elsewhere in the complex, the sound and the faint rush of increased air pressure rolling around the corridors and chambers.

Finally Bescal heaved open the door into the comms room and moved over to the vox units, quickly rattling off the proper prayers as he rapidly checked everything was working. Satisfied, and just as Holf and the others opened fired back at the junction, he spoke into the vox,

“Stormhaven this is Darklight. Repeat, this is Darklight. Do you copy Stormhaven?”
The vox buzzed and crackled in his now shaking hands.

The gunfire and screams were getting louder, he glanced over his shoulder at the doorway, the lights overhead flickered and went out for a second before coming back on again.

Fumbling in desperation at the controls, he turned to vox to full spectrum transmission and tried again,

“Stormhaven this is Darklight. Stormhaven in the name of the Omnissiah please copy!  Stormhaven this is Darklight.”

The noises from outside the room had ceased. Bescal turned back to the entrance again, unable to see down the corridor to the junction from where he stood, tightly gripping the vox sets mouthpiece in his hand.

“Stormhaven, anybody, please come in!” desperation filled his voice.

Steady footsteps could now be heard coming up the corridor over the general sounds of conflict echoing around the place.

“No, please, no.” muttered the adept.

The vox crackled loudly in his hand, with half-heard words cutting through the harsh static,
“…light thi… …ven …py?”

Hope flooded through Bescal,
“Yes! Yes! This is Darklight. Stormhaven do you…”

His voice trailed away as the horrifying xenos abomination calmly stepped into the comms room and turned to face the adept. Without even consciously thinking to do so, the bionics of his right eye clicked automatically, taking a still pict of the creature for future cataloguing and study.

Bescals bottom lip shook uncontrollably as tears trickled down his face from his organic left eye to mix with the blood from his nose. His bowels emptied themselves and his hands went slack, dropping the vox-piece to the floor with a clatter. He quietly gibbered,

“Omni-nissiah prot-t-tect m-m–”

Calmly and without fuss the creature raised its gun at the human and fired.

The rooms’ surfaces turned red in a split-second as Bescal was splattered across them, leaving little more than a crumpled mess on the floor.

The creature slowly turned its head to check the small room for any other targets. Satisfied, it turned and marched back into the corridor, the sound of its march echoing down the hallway.

The vox crackled into life where it lay in a puddle of gore on the floor,

“Darklight, this is Stormhaven, do you read? Repeat, Darklight this is Stormhaven. Had some tech problems, you hearing us now? … Darklight?”
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Rewards Of The Enemy

Offline Heroka Vendile

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Re: Rewards of the Enemy
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2009, 06:23:49 PM »
Date: 271.914.M40, Day of Union [local]
Location: High Kings Grand Palace
Planet: Korzakol III (pop. 39.7 billion)

Late evening summer sun blazed through the ten foot high windows that ran the length of the richly decorated hallway. Outside, over twenty thousand acres of pristine private gardens and managed hunting grounds were going into shadow as the sun gradually lowered behind the mighty peaks of the Himmelbergs.

Between each of the wide windows ancient marble busts of long-forgotten dignitaries stood on their plinths, the carving so exquisite as to be near lifelike. The hallway was positioned on the forth floor in the High Kings Grand Palace. Placed halfway along its length, the largest set of doors was the main entrance into the Debzinger, the vast, warehouse-sized throne room of the High King. The doors themselves were huge things made of solid silver, every inch crowded with delicate etchings of important scenes from the royalties history, a large imperial eagle dominated the design, with a wingspan the width of the two doors.

Seb Vorschal walked along the ludicrously expensive carpets of the hallway towards the group of ten royal guards stationed outside the doors. A huge amount of noise was coming from the open doorway into the hallway. The largest reception in centuries was being held today, and the Debzinger was nearly full to bursting with politicians, royalty, rulers, diplomats and other such people from neighbouring systems, as well as everyone who was anyone from the planet itself.

Ten shot glasses filled with Belsanz, the local alcoholic beverage of choice if you wanted to loose all feeling in your taste buds quickly, were sat on the silver tray that Vorschal was carrying. The guards ignored him, after all he was just a servant, that was until he stopped and turned to face their sergeant, a man in his fifties with short grey hair and a beard, saying,

“A drink for each of your men to toast the Day of Union, compliments of the Palace Master.”

Momentarily taken aback, the sergeant quickly regained his composure and turned to his men, saying with a wide grin, “Gather round lads, free Belsanz.”

In short order all ten men were stood around Vorschal, each having collected a glass of the black liquid and slung their autoguns over their shoulders. The sergeant raised his shot glass and proposed the traditional Day of Union toast,

“To those who died for union”

“And to those who maintain it this day.” chorused the nine soldiers before all ten knocked back their drinks in one, placing their glasses back on the tray then ambling back to their positions.

The sergeant smiled at Vorschal again, and then frowned slightly. A second later realisation dawned and his eyes went wide in fear,

“You frakhead.” He wheezed, before dropping to the floor stone dead, along with the rest of his squad who all followed suit within two seconds without making a sound.

Vorschal smiled, the soldiers had all collapsed out of sight of the thousands milling around inside the Debzinger. He squatted down beside the sergeant, depositing the tray on the floor and acquiring the sergeants’ autogun. He then reached into the inside pocket of his formal black servants suit and retrieved a small device, a simple grey box with a number pad. Into which he entered a code, the box started buzzing quietly.

“Come on, come on.” Urged the poisoner as the box continued buzzing for several long seconds. He furtively glanced up and down the hallway, which was still empty of anyone but himself and the ten bodies. He looked at his chrono, what was taking so long? Silence fell inside the Debzinger and then he could hear the High King begin giving the toast,

“To those who died for union.” Called the vox-enhanced voice from through the doorway.

The buzzing stopped and a light at the top of the device turned green. Vorschal smiled again, looking up at the windows lining the corridor.

“And to those who maintain it this day” came the booming response from the assembled masses inside.

At the same moment the huge window directly opposite the doorway exploded into the hallway, small fragments flying everywhere, a couple pieces slicing across Vorschals unprotected face, leaving him with several shallow cuts.

Within twenty seconds at least two dozen men had come through the blasted window on grav chutes, landed and were in position around the doorway. The sounds of their arrival had been completely hidden by the roaring applause coming from inside the Debzinger. They wore dark green carapace armour and had respirator helmets on, hellguns strapped tightly to their chests.

Two of them had instantly moved over to and slammed Vorschal onto his back, one pinning him in place while the other pointed a hellgun his face and asked,

“Name?”

“Not for three days pay and a kick in the balls.” He answered quickly.

The soldier pointing the gun nodded and stopped aiming the gun at him, waving for the other man to stop pinning Vorschal down. He then turned and left Vorschal to get up by himself, asking a trooper who was reading an auspex,

“Do we have lock-down?”

“Yes captain.” Came the reply, without looking up from the auspex.

The captain then turned back to Vorschal, who had managed to pick himself up by now, taking a fake Inquisitors rosette from one of his pouches and holding it out to him.

“You know the plan Seb.”

“Yes I do, Captain Actus.” Answered Vorschal, taking the proffered rosette and depositing it into a pocket. He dropped the autogun he’d taken to the floor and weaved through the troops and through the silver doors into the Debzinger. The crowds were mostly bunched at the far end, towards the elevated throne on the far wall, but the huge room was still stowed-out. The cheers and roars of applause were still continuing, and Vorschal weaved at a quick walk through the teeming crowds with ease, gradually making his way to his allotted position for what was to follow.

A few minutes later, just as he had reached his place about two thirds up the length of the Debzinger, right in the core of the tightly packed audience, a voice that wasn’t the High Kings’ boomed out over the speakers placed along the chambers walls,

“In the name of the Emperor, this planet and its populace are now under the control of the Inquisition. High King Samu-Yerero and his line are hear-by relieved of all authority.”

A second later the startled expression on the High Kings face vanished, along with his brains, as a sniper round blew up the top half of his skull. Vorschal knew without looking back that the shot would have come from the main doors.

The crowds cried out in shock at the death of the High King. Vorschal braced himself for the inevitable mayhem that was now seconds away. The voice boomed from the speakers again,

“The ruling classes of the Andario sector have been found negligent in their duty of ensuring the protection of the Imperiums property and its people. For this crime, you shall all be executed for the good of the Imperium.”

Vorschal down counted in his head; three, two, one.

The noise level shot up higher than it had been during the earlier cheering, as nearly two thousand dignitaries, planetary governors, nobles, politicians, industrialists and military commanders were hit by the severity of their situation. And just to add to the sense of chaos, the only exit was now guarded by forty inquisitorial stormtroopers with hellguns, who had just started opening fire.

The panic was instantaneous, some rushing towards the exit, some trying desperately to get away from the gunfire, dozens were trampled to death in the first minute. Vorschal simply lay about himself with his fists, fighting himself a clear path to the throne. And violence between the victims sprouted up everywhere, random punch-ups started and old scores were settled. And during all this, anyone who came within range of the hellguns was cut down mercilessly.

Gunfire from weapons belonging to some people in the crowd were going off as well, adding to the death toll as people fought not to be crushed in the surging bodies. Vorschal came across a man, a diplomat of some sort by the looks of his attire, who had some how ended up with undoubtedly someone else’s guard-issue laspistol. Vorschal broke the mans arm and shoved him down to the floor to die under hundreds of swarming feet, relieving him of the laspistol as he fell.

The acolyte then proceeded at a slightly better pace through the crowd, towards the throne. The other royals and dignitaries who had been stood around the High King had either taken further shots to the head themselves, or had disappeared into the crowd, which had surged up the steps and milled around the throne itself.

He stumbled into a small gap in the surge of bodies, within which a navy and guard officer were duelling with sabres. Vorschal shot the navy officer in the side of the head. The guard officer grinned viciously at him and nodded thanks for the assistance, then turned and melted into the surging crowd again, which promptly refilled the space now that there was no combat occurring.

Forging onwards up the packed steps to the throne dais, Vorschal continued to shove, punch, kick and fire indiscriminately to clear a route. Having broken a real servants nose and shoved him to the side, he found ahead of him a pretty young noble lady, battered and bruised, yet staunchly being protected by a personal bodyguard who fired wildly with two autopistols at anyone who got too close or he didn’t like the look of.

Seb quickly grabbed the stumbling servant back and dragged him in front of himself as a meat shield, fired at the bodyguard, scoring solid wounds to the chest and left arm. The guard shouted in agony and fired back with his good arm, three bullets impacting in the human shields chest, while the forth went wide and blew out the skull of a priest stood beside Vorschal.

The return las shots despatched the bodyguard permanently. Dropping his now dead meat shield, Vorschal leapt forwards, snatching up one of the autopistols to replace the run-down laspistol with his right hand, while his left grabbed the terrified young ladys wrist firmly. He yelled at her to be heard over the mayhem continuing around them,

“You’re coming with me!”

He yanked her forcefully along behind him as they continued the last few meters to the throne, she screamed and wailed at him, struggling to release herself with her free hand. Ignoring her complaints, he continued to forge their way up the final steps, until the two of them were crouched in the small gap between the back of the throne and the rear wall of the Debzinger.

The girl was shaking uncontrollably, fear shining bright in her eyes as she stared at the blood-splattered man in servants clothing next to her. Vorschal stared back at her for several long seconds, a slight frown on his face. Eventually he simply nodded, placed the autopistol into her still-shaking hands and said,

“Stay here, shoot anyone who comes near that isn’t me. Okay?”

After a moments pause, she took a proper hold of the pistol and nodded furiously, still shaking quite badly. With that, Vorschal stood and moved around to the front of the throne, punching in the face a servant who was attempting to rob the High Kings corpse. The man stumbled backwards, tripped and had a PDF officers drawn sword pierce through his back and straight out his chest. This took the officer by surprise, knocked over by the body slamming onto his weapon, sending them both flailing to the ground and under the crush to die.

Meanwhile Vorschal grabbed the High Kings body and unceremoniously dumped him off the throne onto the floor. He then proceeded to climb up and stand upon the thrones seat, affording him a clear view out over the madness below. Hundreds of corpses littered the hall, many survivors had grouped together and were in the relatively calm area between the chaos on the tightly-packed steps and the kill zone of the stormtroopers firing range.

Satisfied that enough had happened, he reached into his pocket and retrieved the fake inquisitors rosette. He gathered his thoughts and calmed his mind. Then, quiet as a whisper, he uttered,

“Stop.”

Silence fell instantly, everyone had frozen on the spot, their bodies forced to enact the powerful psychic command.

“Look at me.”

All present turned to face him where he stood atop the throne, holding the rosette out for all to see. Vorschal smiled pleasantly at them before continuing,

“I am the Inquisition. And I hereby judge that the ruling classes and commanders of the Andario sector have proven themselves worthy once more by the forced removal of their weak elements.”

Still they all stared and listened in silence, they were no long under his psychic influence, but his oratory skills were playing their part now,

“Within two years war will come to the Andario sector. You must be ready. As has been done here today, you must all remove the weak elements of your organisations, to purify them for the coming struggle. For only the strong can survive, and you have all proven yourselves strong enough this day.”

The audience started muttering quietly as he paused again; meanwhile the stormtroopers had formed into an honour guard on the inside of the entrance to the grand hall.

“As the seat of power within the sector, the Korzakol system will now be under the governance of the new Lord General. From this moment onwards, you may all consider every world of the Andario sector to be under martial law.”

Vorschal could be very confident that the previous Lord General Belkon wouldn’t have survived the events that had just occurred, as he had had many enemies, both political and career-based.

“Lord Major Dragheim, are you present?” he called out to the audience. No answer came, so he continued through the list of the most senior military personnel.

“Lord Major Gotung, are you present?” the silence continued, the audience on tender-hooks to find out who their new ruler would be.

“Sector Fleet Admiral Vyal, are you present?” Vorschal sighed slightly, to project the appropriate outward air of regret. However, his master would be pleased with the deaths of the four men at the head of the military in the sector, all had been political animals with little interest or skill in their particular fields.

Satisfied that he had done all that was required, Vorschal pointed over the crowd below him to the huge doors at the opposite end of the Debzinger, most turned to look at what he was gesturing at. There they saw, walking up between the honour guard of inquisitorial stormtroopers, a man entering the chamber. He was tall and slightly built, wearing the black uniform common of military staff officers in the Andario Sector, his black hair was crew-cut in an attempt to disguise the fact that it was starting to recede and a neatly trimmed goatee portrayed the air of authority missing from his narrow, gaunt features.

Vorschal took a depth breath and made the loud proclamation, using a small amount of his psychic ability to boost the volume for added effect,

“In that case, by the order of the Inquisition, Senior Tactical Strategic Advisor Cornel Jericho Norhouse is hereby promoted with immediate effect to the rank of Lord General and, by dint of martial law, to the position of acting Lord Sector Andario.”

As Norhouse reached the head of the honour guard, the stormtroopers turned and marched in step with him up the long length of the Debzinger. The crowds parted to let them through, a small smattering of applause gradually growing as it dawned on them all that this was their new lord and master, a man who technically answered only to the Segmentum Governor and the High Lords of Terra themselves.

Meanwhile, as the crowds were distracted, Vorschal got down from the throne and turned round to retrieve the young noblewoman, only to find her stood beside the throne with the autopistols muzzle, pressed against his chest.

“Ah.”

“You are no Inquisitor!” spat the girl vehemently, her voice nearly drowned out by the clapping and cheering surrounding them, making Vorschal the only one able to hear her words.

“I never said I was.” Replied Vorschal truthfully in a calm voice before adding, “Drop the gun.”

He added just enough psychic pressure into the words for the command to be followed instantly. A surprised look appeared on her face as the gun clattered to the marble floor of the dais.

“Now then,” continued Vorschal, taking the ladies hand, “you will come with me quietly and we shall leave.”

He hadn’t used his powers, but she nodded acceptance anyway. They disappeared into the crowd just as the honour guard made it to the top of the throne dais. Before Norhouse stepped up to the throne itself, he stopped briefly to stoop down and take the sceptre of his new office from the dead fingers of the High King.

Satisfied, the new Lord General sat down upon the throne which was now his. He took in the throng before him and felt the weight of his new position come down heavily upon his shoulders. He began his first official speech,

“Much loss and suffering has occurred here this day. Yet this is but a miniscule fraction of the loss we would have suffered had change not come this day, for a most vile and abhorrent alien race will attack us within two years time. They will show us no mercy in their quest to conquer the Andario sector, and so in return we must be able to give them no quarter and scupper their plans. You will all be given quarters within the palace for tonight, as I am calling a grand council for tomorrow for which attendance will be mandatory. My staff will de-brief you on today’s events once you have left the Debzinger. Only the fit and the walking wounded may leave, the rest should be left where they are and will be attended to by the palace medicae unit.”

He paused, the men and women in the audience showing all manner of expressions on their faces; hatred, approval, dismay, fear, shock and satisfaction.

“You are dismissed from the Lord Sectors’ presence.”
It's all fun and games until someone shoots their own guy with a Graviton gun instead of the MASSIVE SPIDER.
The Order of Krubal
Rewards Of The Enemy

Offline Heroka Vendile

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Re: Rewards of the Enemy
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2009, 10:02:09 PM »
Date: 271.914.M40, Day of Union [local]
Location: Copperhelm, Sword Class Frigate [low orbit]
Planet: Korzakol III (pop. 39.7 billion)


“And no-one has since stepped forward to contest Norhouses’ claim to the position?”

“Correct sir, although undoubtedly questions will arise soon as to who will take over once martial law ceases.”

“Indeed.”

The two men stood in an observation dome, their faces illuminated solely by the light reflecting from the planet below them as they stood side by side gazing out at the stars.

“And why, pray tell, have you brought the Lady Lyra Keff-Darga back with you Seb?”

“I came across her in the mayhem, something about her mind caught my attention. She will have an important part to play in what is to come sir, of that I am certain.”

“Hmm. Well, if you are sure about it, then she may be given the appropriate clearance.”

“Thank you sir.”

 Inquisitor Petros Toglar turned to face his acolyte, a stern look etched on his face, “This had better not become a repeat of the last time you took an interest in high-class tail.”

Despite his best efforts, Sebs cheeks started to redden in shame; he bowed his head down to regard his feet. His error of judgement eighteen years ago during the Oppitta enquiry had lengthened his masters’ investigation by a year and cost the lives of a dozen undercover operatives. He had been very lucky to not have been spurned from the Inquisitors employ.

Silence hung heavy in the air for a good minute before the Inquisitor turned back to regard the stars.

“Dismissed.”

Vorschal bowed deeply then paced quietly out of the chamber, off to attend to his further duties.
 
It's all fun and games until someone shoots their own guy with a Graviton gun instead of the MASSIVE SPIDER.
The Order of Krubal
Rewards Of The Enemy

Offline Heroka Vendile

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Re: Rewards of the Enemy
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2009, 02:11:12 AM »
Date: 285.914.M40
Location: Baskana [Capital City]
Planet: Korzakol III (pop. 39.7 billion)

The streets of the sprawling garden city of Baskana were always a beautiful sight on clear sunny days such as this. On these days the city was claimed to outshine all other settlements in the Andario sector with the serene vistas presented the length and breadth of its colonnaded and quietly bustling streets. It was a place full of low, marble buildings and wide pedestrianised streets lined with the finest sculptures.

However to storm trooper captain Roberto Actus it was just another potential battlefield, as he walked through the sun-kissed lunchtime crowds he was constantly evaluating the lay of the land – the closest cover, the best sniping positions, which civilians he suspected would be concealing firearms on their person. As always the soldier felt slightly uncomfortable in civilian clothing, viewing it as necessary camouflage for the environment rather than a chance to enjoy being out of his usual military fatigues.

Currently he was heading up 23rd Boulevard, in the heart of the banking district, to its junction with Shepherd Street, where he was to meet a contact at one of the many benches situated beneath the ornate three-storey clock tower at the centre of their crossroads.

He looked up at the clock face, if he remembered how to read the local timing system correctly, it was just past midday. Observing the public seating from this distance, he could see the contact was already sat waiting for him.

As Actus approached he pulled two hand-sized packages wrapped in brown paper out of his pockets. The contact was a fairly average and uninteresting looking man who currently had his nose in a newspaper and hadn’t noticed the captains’ approach. He coughed politely and announced,

“Good day to you Mr Ziegler.”

“Yes? Oh! Hello, hello.” responded Maukii Ziegler eagerly, shoving his paper aside and standing up to shake Actus’ hand, only to realise that he had the packages in his hands. “Ah, yes, well. Shall we sit?”

“Yes we shall.” replied Actus, already moving to do so.

Ziegler sat back down again, tidying his messed up newspaper and setting down on the bench while asking, “I thought we were just meeting here then going elsewhere for lunch?”

Actus smiled, half-raising the two packages in his hands, “I brought lunch for us both with me, I can’t stay long.”

“Oh, well alright then.” Ziegler smiled genially.

“Would you like the fish or the grox roll?”

“Uh… the meat please. Think the wife is getting fish in for dinner this evening.”

Actus pass the appropriate package to Ziegler, while moving the conversation in a more worthwhile direction, “I want to discuss your pay for the particular… acts… that you carried out for my employer the past month.”

Ziegler had unwrapped his sandwich and was about to take a bite, but stopped to say, “Ah yes, I’m still perfectly happy with the amount discussed previously.” Then lent over slightly and quietly added “Although if you’d told me beforehand that it was all part of the plot that placed this Norhouse chap in power then I’d have willingly done it for less than half that. I never did like the royals much.”

The contact smiled and took a bite of his meal. Actus’ own smile had thinned and become pursed lips. He spoke as Ziegler took a second mouthful of his lunch.

“My employer has decided it best to pay you double the agreed fee, just to smooth out any difficulties or chance of later investigations getting anywhere.”

“Re-reh?” came Zieglers muffled, slightly wide-eyed response.

Actus simply nodded confirmation, before standing up, pocketing the fish sandwich. Ziegler quickly swallowed what was still in his mouth, “You’re leaving already?”

“Yes, you enjoy the rest of that sandwich; I’ll be in contact again when your payment is ready to collect. Goodbye Mr Ziegler.”

“Goodbye dear sir.” returned Ziegler as Actus walked away again. He watched him for a moment until he disappeared into the crowds. Looked down to regard his sandwich and taking another bite he wondered if it was just him or did it taste a bit unusual for grox meat, he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was that was different though.

With an indifferent shrug he finished off the last of it, half-wondering why the mystery man hadn’t eaten his own sandwich at all. Picking up his paper he went to stand up and head back to work, but his legs didn’t respond. Maukii frowned and attempted to say “What the frak?”, only to find his throat was bone dry and his tongue going numb. Panic filled him, his heart started pumping furiously, his vision blurred and his lungs were on fire.

With crushing realisation Maukii Ziegler saw that he had been tricked and was being killed off to remove the evidence of his small role in the recent coup. He last desperate thoughts were of his dear wife Belia and his horror that her life might also be in danger.

His limp body slowly slid down to lay on the bench, closing his eyes he stopped resisting the pain, letting it wash him into unconsciousness shortly before his straining heart gave its final beat.

Actus watched the death scene through a shop window, from here it looked for all the world like Mr Ziegler has simply decided to take a couple minutes rest in the midday summer heat.

That was the forth target he’d dispatched for the Inquisitor today.

Walking out of the shop, he headed off down Shepherd Street towards the east of the city, dropping the unopened fish sandwich into a bin as he went.

Twelve to go.

+   +   +


The sun was reaching its zenith as Actus walked through the twisting alleys of the Kazabia, one of Baskana’s poorest outskirt slums. The contrast with the wealthy and beautiful heart of the city was absolute. Earlier in the day he had been in wide avenues and surrounded by some of the best architecture on the planet, walking side-by-side with rich merchants, now he travelled along the shadowy warren of passages that crisscrossed the ramshackle slum district. Violence and gang warfare was the norm in this area, although the arbites did an excellent job of ensuring it never spilled out into the more civilised areas of the city.

Actus found it strange that despite the sheer size of the galaxy, you could still run into ghosts from the past at complete random. It was this very fact that was leading him to the ‘Burst Barrel’ drinking den in the heart of the slum, owned and operated by a man he had met two decades ago, Boz Pordine.

The Burst Barrel was one of the few permanent-looking buildings in the slum, made from brick and clearly older than the slum itself, engulfed by the poverty long ago. A triumvirate of burly men stood at the main entrance, battered lasguns with PDF branding held in their hands, the black market weaponry being essential to ensure the Burst Barrels unique status as a recognised neutral territory from all the slum gangs. As such the building was full of small meeting rooms where deals could be struck, packs made and hits arranged, as well as having ten different entrances and exits to ensure no two cliental could be linked directly unless the appeared in the main bar.

As Actus approached, the bouncers turning to regard him, the largest took a step forwards, hand raised, and asked, “Whit’s yer bussnus?”

“Amberfield.” Came Actus’ prompt response, ignoring the look of surprise on the faces of the three men as they stepped out of his path and he strolled straight through them to the open doorway.

Once inside he walked along a wood-panelled corridor, the once dark timber now pale and cracking with age, bringing him to a compact room with five locked doors leading from it. A similarly distressed wooden desk in its centre, behind which sat a short man who was currently bent over trying to read a newspaper through a broken pair of glasses perched on the end a stubby nose. A chain on which hung dozens of different styles of door keys, both digital and traditional lay on the desk beside him. Without looking up, and apparently still reading the paper, the man asked, “Gang allegiance?”

“None.”

The receptionist looked up over the rim of his glasses, an eyebrow raised quizzically as he regarded the visitor. Actus couldn’t be bothered waiting for a response, speaking again before the small man had a chance, “My entry pass is Amberfield, I am here to meet Ardro Daxy, but first I wish to speak with Pordine.”

The receptionist snorted, not effected at all by the use of the password the way the guards had been, putting his paper down on the desk and snatching up the chain of keys as he stood. “Daxy’s a piece of [EXCOMMUNICATE],” he stated with a sneer, “Owes the boss near eighty Thrones in bar tab alone, never mind the gambling debt. Emperor-only knows why he don’t get the lads to lay into him.”

He walked over to one of the doors directly behind the desk and expertly found the correct key on the chain for the lock, the large ornately handled brass key sliding in perfectly. The receptionist opened the door and stepped aside, gesturing Actus through saying, “Fifth door on the left for the bosses office, ain’t locked, go straight in.”

Actus nodded to the cretin and headed through the doorway without another word into the stone-walled corridor beyond, the receptionist shut and locked the door behind him. Flickering yellow electric lamps hung along the walls at head height, bathing the well-worn stonework in a sickly glow. The captain headed off along the passageway, which took a left and a right turn before he reached the fifth door on his left side. Without pausing he put a hand on the handle and went straight in.

Boz Pordine had always been a very light-hearted chipper person when Actus had previously known him those many years ago. As an out-of-favour military advisor and liaison officer of the Obrisid Sector high command with a strong weakness for women and gambling, Pordine had found himself appointed the unenviable task of being Rogue and Free Trader liaison. Trying to keep tabs and good relations with so many different people on behalf of the sectors high command had put a huge strain on him, leading to the drinking and gambling. Pordine had made himself literally penniless, the family fortune used up to clear gambling debts, and in doing so become even less popular in the politics of the high command. Eventually he was dishonourably discharged, the only thing saving him from court marshal and execution being his family’s tenuous blood link to the royal family of the Obrisid Sector.

Since then the bad luck had prevailed while he fled the disgrace in his home sector, travelling half a Segmentum, performing simple cons to fund him as he went, before winding up in the Andario Sector and eventually landing on Korzakol III. Of all things it had been gambling which had won him the Burst Barrel establishment.

As such, it wasn’t really a surprise to Actus that with his office décor Pordine had sought to emulate his lost wealth, lavish but tattered furniture of various styles filling the room. A large writing desk full of small drawers was against the wall near to the door, four different armchairs, with many burst fabric seams, were placed around a circular card table whose pedestal was carved into the shape of two back-to-back imperial eagles, a glass-fronted drinks cabinet overflowing with alcohol stood in one corner.

It was the people rather than the décor which surprised Actus. Sat around the card table were Boz Pordine, in smart but battered attire; Ardro Daxy, wearing a heavily patched shirt and dirty trousers; and two others Actus didn’t know who were dressed similarly to Pordine. The host noticed Actus’ entrance immediately, his chair facing the doorway, while the other three turned to look at the visitor. The captain noted the worried look that flashed across Daxy’s face momentarily.

“Actus my good fellow!” announced Pordine as he got up to greet his old acquaintance, dropping a hand of cards onto the table face-down. Actus smiled warmly as Pordine came over and shook his hand, guiding him towards the armchairs and adding, “Can I offer you a drink of anything?”

“No thanks. Who are your friends Pordine?” enquired Actus amicably.

Pordine frowned briefly then turned back to his other guests saying, “These are Chieftain Tysol of the Bloodswords; Chieftain Gastor of the Furyhawks; and Ardro Daxy, the best information fence in the Baskana underworld.”

“And how important are the lives of Tysol and Gastor?” asked Actus bluntly, stunning all present.

“I, err… in the grand scheme or locally? Heh heh.” Replied Pordine worriedly, trying hard to sound joking.

“I’ll take that as not very.” Concluded Actus, in an instant he had shoved Pordine to the floor with one hand while drawing a compact stubber from what seemed like nowhere with the other and firing two shots into each of the gang leaders before they could really react. Tysol slumped backwards in his armchair, dead from two chest impacts, while Gastor took the first bullet to the stomach, doubling him over and causing the second to blow out his skull.

“Holy [EXCOMMUNICATE]!” screamed Daxy as he was showered in gore from the chieftains head exploding, the informant flinging himself off the chair into cover behind what had been Pordines seat.

Not wasting a moment Actus ran at the chair and leapt feet-first at it, smashing into its backrest and toppling it over as Daxy desperately tried to draw a knife, lunging desperately out from underneath just in time. Actus lost his footing as the chair hit the floor, flipping him forwards onto his back, he somehow lost a hold of the compact stubber in the process, the pistol clattering off across the floor.

A split second later Daxy was knelt over him, knife in hand and striking for the throat. Actus knocked the blade to the side with his arm at the last moment; Daxy let the knife fly off to the side, instead thumping his still on-target hand into the captains throat.

Actus wheezed in pain as the fist connected with his Adams apple. Instantly Daxy seized his advantage and clamped both hands around the throat, squeezing with all his strength against his would-be assassin. Already spots danced across Actus’ vision as he tried unsuccessfully to punch Daxy in the side of the head, the lack of blood flow affecting his spatial awareness and making the swing wildly inaccurate. His face was bright red as he grasped ineffectively at Daxy’s hands, a wild grin on the scum’s face as he spat out, “Frakking piece of frakking damn [EXCOMMUNICATE]! Try kill me? Ya frakking shi-”

A single flash of red light blazed an instantly cauterised hole through Daxy’s head, from temple to temple. The tight grip round Actus’ throat eased and the body over him slumped to the side. The captain took huge gulping breaths that burned his bruised throat, coughing and spluttering as he shoved Daxy’s corpse off of him.

“What the Emperor-loving jun-fak-mo was that?” bawled Pordine as he came and stood over Actus, a PDF lasgun like the ones held by his doormen aimed squarely at the prone mans head.

Actus coughed again before wheezing, “My job.”

Pordine growled and kicked the toppled chair that Actus was still laying on the backrest of.

“Frakking Inquisition.” Spat Pordine as he turned and walked across to the desk, slinging the lasgun over his shoulder and beginning to rummage through the drawers.

Actus dragged himself upright, hands massaging his still burning throat, that hadn’t gone quite as he’d planned, but the target was dead and he was done for the day. Almost.

“Pordine, the Inquisitor has an offer for you, one you won’t refuse.”

“Oh really? That’s handy. Have to say I’d kind of expected something like this would happen eventually anyway.”

“Pardon?” Actus didn’t get Pordine’s meaning.

“Look,” Pordine closed a drawer and turned around to face Actus, who had collected his stubber and held it in his hand again, aiming it casually at Pordine, he raised an eyebrow at Actus, but continued anyway, “Running an establishment such as this, it’s obvious to anyone that eventually an unfortunate death or two would occur and result in the wrath of one of more gangs manifesting in the form of many bullets aimed my way.”

Actus nodded, gun still pointing in Pordine’s direction.

“As such, I have been prepared for such an eventuality since soon after I first took over this establishment four years ago.”

“Prepared in what way?” Actus asked, dropping the firearm to his side.

“A most spectacular finale for the Burst Barrel.” Answered Pordine cryptically, holding up a small device in his hand. Disappointed with Actus’ lack of any response, he stated dramatically, “This whole building is rigged to go boom.”

Actus couldn’t help but be slightly surprised by the explanation. Pordine pressed on,

“You see, if the building itself gets destroyed, killings all inside it at the time, then the gangs will just turn their accusations, and bullets, on each other over who is to blame. They all believe me dead too and thus I hop off this rock unseen and move on again.”

“I think the Inquisitor will like you even more now.” Stated Actus dryly.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2009, 01:07:24 PM by Heroka Vendile »
It's all fun and games until someone shoots their own guy with a Graviton gun instead of the MASSIVE SPIDER.
The Order of Krubal
Rewards Of The Enemy