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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-08-12, 06:26 AM Thread Starter
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He stared out across the room, the flickering images of dazzling colors and shapes becoming unfocused and splotchy as thin, sickly green liquid blasted against the window. The droplets of rain reflected the bright burst of light as a las-pistol was fired, a far-off sharp and quick yelp marking some fool’s demise. The man inside, splayed across the mediocre second-hand couch with a bottle of some off-planet drink held precariously in his hand, didn’t move as the torrential storms of the “rain” that fell from above blasted against the shoddy scrap metal roofing of his shack. Here on Axun II they were as common as the filth littered across the streets and dripping down from the vast darkness above onto the neon advertisements.

The man watching the pict-screen clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth in a manner that simultaneously conveyed disappointment and boredom. Sliding the windowpane open he crawled in, the third eye at the nape of his neck that constantly seeped purplish pus watching behind him in mock caution.. Here in the depths of this shithole of a planet no one was safe and none were trusted. Awkwardly shuffling the oddly-jointed, gangly legs sprouting down from his barrel-like torso over the windowsill, he fell into the room, the taste of dirt and lho-sticks sticking in his mouth like thickly wadded cotton balls.

Rising, gathering the dirty and tattered robe around his horror of a body, he walked over to the small crate in the corner of the room, rummaging through its contents. Gathering up a few thrones and some twist-piss liquor, he turned again to the pict-screen. The heavy winds had sprayed the rain onto the screen, and through the distorted view of the droplets he saw two norms discussing the new policies of the young Planetary Governor, who was determined to revive the slums of Axun II into thriving bazaars. Scoffing slightly, the looter turned to leave and saw the residential man had sat up, staring at the open window in dim confusion, the swill and lho in his system not quite letting him comprehend its meaning. The looter walked past, pushing open the bent and corroded piece of metal affixed to the doorframe and walking back into the streets.

From a small diner across the way, a man stared through an ornately decorated pair of binoculars. Gloves covered in intricate gold stitching brought the binoculars down, and the man looked to his partner. While he himself was clad in a robe dark as the walls of the city-shaft , a simple design brought to life by the gold and turquoise stitching running across its surface, his partner looked barely better than the twists and gangsters they were surrounded by, a thick leather overcoat wrapped around his body, underlain by a an off-white and ragged t-shirt and a pair of dark copper-colored pants, the ends stuffed into his boots. Only the poorly-maintained badge pinned over his heart signified him as a former Detective of the Adeptus Arbites, his true Redemptionists badge likely tucked away. He was moving a gelatinous stain across his plate from side to side with his fork, as if debating whether to consume the vile substance or not. The Arbites Chaplain glanced back to the twist-thief as he ambled along the street with his new-found spoils.

“This place really is quite horrid.”

His partner looked at him; eyes covered by artificial contacts making it seem as if the man had black pools filled with disdain showing him the world. He consistently spoke in a monotone, uninterested tone of voice. “I thought all places were bathed in the holy and blessed watch of the Almighty Emperor, Chaplain.”

“Some places are too deep for the Emperor’s Light to reach, blocked by their heresy and their feeble lives not devoted to His cause. “

“It is these places the Ecclesiarchy, in conjunction with the Adeptus Arbites , must bring them back into the watchful gaze of His Majesty to be judged. With this in mind the Segmentum Tempestus branch of the Redemptionists was created, Adeptus Arbites and Ecclesiarchy priests specially selected to enact the holy wrath of His Gracefulness.”

“I see you’ve managed to learn the creed.”

“Nothing better to do. Any word on the brewing fanatics?” Again, that colorless voice.

The voice-box hastily implanted after a nasty engagement with the twist gangsters could only speak in that off-kilter, flat voice. Every word seemed to be same as the last, and you never knew if he was joking or deadly serious.. The Chaplain still had not gotten used to it.

He shook his head, the black folds of cloth twisting and folding over one another in the process, hooding his eyes and casting a shadow over his long and thin face, and that perpetual crooked grin, a caricature of a smile, one that seemed to sneer and scoff in the same movement. “These unholy warp spawn,” he spat, gesturing to the mutants dispersed through the diner. One’s many eyes flicked in his direction, blinking all with a light snapping sound. “, don’t like to talk. “

His partner set the fork down with a small, tinny clatter, pushing the untouched gel away from him. “Twists aren’t going to. Have you arranged the meeting with the Governor?”

“Tomorrow. We’ll have to travel up to the higher Hive levels to get to his offices.”

“Fantastic. “

It had been like this for the last three weeks. When they had initially come to the planet, the cult activity had been booming, wanton slayings of the wandering, unregistered twists in the slums, eight-pointed stars carved over their bodies. The leads had been plentiful and the outlook optimistic. Then it had all shot down. The slayings became random, spread out. The twists weren’t talking anymore. The Planetary Governor was too busy trying to revive the cult’s slaying grounds to give them any reliable information. Three weeks of tracking false leads and skirting ambushes.

Arbites Chaplain and Redemptionist Skraen Dargus looked out into the streets of the city-shaft again, fliers plastered on the diner windows coming loose from the force of the liquid, whipping away into the torrent. From the window’s reflection, he noticed the many-eyed ogryn mutant, glancing with a multitude of eyes in their direction and the direction of an orange-jacketed gangster with long unwashed hair and no visible mutations.

“Castor.” A hushed whisper, barely moving his lips.

The Detective followed his gaze as the orange-jacketed man reached inside the folds of his jacket and the multi-eyed ogryn stood, a clearly modified shock maul in hand, electricity dancing in long and painful arcs across its head. Other twists and slum-folk in the diner either sank into their seats or left the diner as inconspicuously as possible, having lived here long enough to know when a brawl was about to take place.

The orange-jacketed man pulled a las-pistol, taking aim for Castor. The Detective ducked into the cover of the bar counter, grabbing a bottle of some ale, hurling it at his shooter. The man cursed as he was doused with swill, letting off wild bursts from his las-pistol that burned holes through the wood of the counter, so close he could feel their scorching heat as they passed. Drawing his hand flamer and standing in the same, fluid motion, Castor took aim and let fire engulf the man.

In the same moment, the ogryn surged forward in the same instant, the revving of a chainsword heard as Skraen drew his holy weapon, kicking a wooden seat in the ogryn’s path. The monstrous beast shattered it with a hit of the shock maul, and Skraen had to roll under a table to escape the man’s charge. The sudden movement threw his hood back, revealing cybernetics replacing most of the left side of his face in a ragged grouping of augmetic replacements for his ears and parts of his jaw, among other things. His head was bald and scarred, weathered and lined. His eyes burned green, the light of battle in their depths, his smile gone.

Skraen stood, spreading his feet and adopting a relaxed and balanced posture. He looked over the ogryn, noting the close feet and wild method as he swung the shock maul sideways towards Skraen’s head. Easily parrying the blow to the side, metal grinding and whining as the chainsword struck true, he swung his foot into the creature’s abdomen, sending him clumsily stepping back in a desperate effort to stay on his feet. He swung his blade in a swift blow towards the ogryn’s neck; the dim-witted being accepting the feint, then brought it back and stabbed forward into the creature’s thigh, twisting the blade as he pulled so it wrenched the man’s leg from his body in a spray of gore and meat.

As the ogryn began to spasm in pain on the floor, he slammed his foot into the mutant’s wrist, sending the shock maul skittering away as the arcs of lightning died out.

The engagement had lasted less than a minute.

The crooked smile gained its place on the Chaplain’s face once again.”Emperor, let Your undeniable light burn on the misshapen and the twisted, so I can see them with pure sight, and purge them with righteous fire. “

The Chaplain took a moment to gain his breath, picking and dabbing at the spots of crimson on the sleeves of his robe, and looked in the detective’s direction. “If you would do the honors?”

“As always,” said the monotone, uninterested voice.

The ogryn’s flesh began to bubble and burst, body oils seeping away and hair burning. The stench was unbearable- the ogryn’s human-like screams was somehow soothing to Skraen, like a familiar friend greeting him once more.

Castor holstered his hand flamer. “They’re getting more organized- these two have been trailing us since the lifts.”

Skraen nodded, turning away from the ogryn’s ruined visage. “We leave soon for the Governor’s offices.”

“What should we do with the bodies?”

“Leave them. As a message.”

The ogryn’s screams began to die out, either from the lack of oxygen or the sweet release of death.


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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-08-12, 10:34 AM
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An interesting fight scene.

Some of the description felt a little repetitive; for example: "...watching behind him in mock watchfulness." I feel this would be more engaging withuot the repetition of watch.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-08-12, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave T Hobbit View Post
An interesting fight scene.

Some of the description felt a little repetitive; for example: "...watching behind him in mock watchfulness." I feel this would be more engaging withuot the repetition of watch.
Fixed, good spot there. I changed a few sentences that didn't read right as well. Thanks for the help

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-08-12, 03:49 PM
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No bother.

I sometime use the same word several times in a paragraph myself when writing a first draft, so I am used to looking for it.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-08-12, 07:30 PM
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this is, in my eyes, fascinating. im currently writing a book, but i keep getting lost with how to describe people and places. any tips for a guy who's been working on a book for 10 years and only gotten to chapter 3 for the amount of rewrites?

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-08-12, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HUMYN HYBRID View Post
this is, in my eyes, fascinating. im currently writing a book, but i keep getting lost with how to describe people and places. any tips for a guy who's been working on a book for 10 years and only gotten to chapter 3 for the amount of rewrites?
Well I'm not exactly the most experienced guy on the website(hell who am I kidding I'm not even in the top 10 ), but one of the key things I always try to remind myself of when I'm writing(even if it takes saying it out loud) is to show and not tell. I had to learn that through the advice several people on Heresy gave me on my earlier stuff, and I've always been drastically more satisfied with what I write because of it. Another thing is you really have to write in a setting that interests and fascinates you, if you want to describe it well. That's all I can really think of( I'm sure others could do better), but if you're looking for more writing tips I wrote an article-type thing for The Founding Fields a bit back which you can read here. Good luck with your writing and thanks for the comment!


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-09-12, 03:22 PM
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Not bad. I will look for more.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-09-12, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
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Side by side, the two Arbites traveled down the street. A sight they were, Skraen in an elegantly gothic greatcoat, high-necked and long-sleeved, the color of Terra’s oceans, elegant rings dotting his fingers, Castor in an old weather-beaten trench coat, the bottom hems encrusted with dirt, spots of blood and layers of black human soot accessorizing his garb.

Disease-ridden beggars lined the gutters, asking the men for money for their next paltry “meal”, others rifling through filth in a worthless effort to find the treasure that would rocket them from their place in this twisted society.

The hovels of those killing and robbing enough to be able to have a home were crumbling makeshift piles of rusted metal and rotted wood. Many were splashed with blood, some long dried and blending in with the rust, some fresh and dripping slowly to the ground, almost seeming to create Rorschach images as it streamed.

At the end of the street you could see a fraction of the walls of the city-shaft, expanding higher than the eye could see or the mind truly comprehend.

Dark and impenetrable, you could imagine you were trapped in the center of the world. A solid rock face was all that was seen above. So it was for each city-layer of the infamous hive-shaft of Axun II, excepting the last layer of the shaft, who could see, in the far reaches of the heavens, a pinprick of light. Then, there was the lift.

It was a thin and impossibly long tube running along the shaft walls, located always on the furthest eastern reaches of the city-layer, being used in the ever-so-rare circumstance that one rose to where they could start over again in a better place, or when the high thought it a trivial past-time to look upon those suffering.

The tube was hospital white, darkened by the shadows and stained at its root with blood and filth. A long-dead body rested against it, its flesh beginning to rot away from the bones. It had two right feet, literally, and the twisted visage of some sort of face sprouted from its chest, the warped flesh forming a scream, eternally. Its head was gone, the flesh of its stubby neck ragged and torn. Likely the target of a bounty.

Skraen and Castor were the subject of more stares than they could see as they approached the lift. Skraen pressed his badge of office against the scanner, overriding any needed passes to progress out of this fleapit. There was a sense of overwhelming silence as the lift’s system processed the new information. Everyone watched, some rose to their feet and edged closer. The doors slid aside and the Chaplain and Detective entered, many rushing to the doors in a vain effort to gain freedom from the hell they lived. The doors closed instantly after the Chaplain’s trailing coattails flowed in.

Castor tapped in the code, and the lift began to hurtle upwards. The desperate wails of hundreds of those teased with the prospect of freedom would have haunted lesser-or perhaps better- men. Castor heard their wails and a frown appeared on his damaged lips, something that would have been imperceptible to most. For Skraen, it was as plain as day, and coaxed another of his crooked smiles.

As they rose, they saw the layers of city pass by so fast they were nearly a blur. If ever one could see the true way that the classes of Axun II lived, it was now. Each layer was a bit cleaner, a bit less populated. Each was cast in dark shadows from the walls, though. None were immune. Nine layers, each housing the population of a small world. Then, there was the surface.

Light flooded into the lift, true daylight, a welcome sight that blinded the two men. It was impossibly white and pure. As the blinding left, they could see the surface city. Stretching out across the majority of the planet, it was one huge writhing mass of the wealthy and empowered, of state-of-the-art technology and high-minded intellectuals, of ruthless political games that led to the death of thousands, and of every need sated. It's shining, perpetually clean buildings stretched towards the two suns, a vast range of mountains crawling with people less then men.

The lift met the thousands others that led to the billions of locations of the city, each intertwining and winding across the city of Vettaan. Their lift turned and jinked through the tubeways, eventually reaching a point where it rose vertically along a towering building, the hub of every Imperium-held office whether it be the Ecclesiarchy, the Administratum, or even the dreaded Inquisition.

Each was sectioned off into a layer of the tower, special encrypted permits required to get inside the first ring of security measures, of which there were nine. It was constructed from many layers of the sturdiest materials existing, and was said with pride to be one of the strongest and most durable constructions of the Imperium.

The lift turned diagonally into the building, heading towards the planetary governor’s office.

******

Skraen stalked down the corridor, observing the different artistic treasures housed on the otherwise bare and surgically white walls. Eventually he reached the end of the hall, pressing his Redemptionists badge to the scanner located on the otherwise featureless wall, door sliding apart from a seam that did not exist moments ago, entering the planetary governor’s office as the door slid aside into its alcove.

The governor’s assistant was hunched over his desk, busily writing. Skraen looked to the reports and smiled as he saw the seal, watching the man sigh in relief as they entered, glad to escape the endless forms required by the Administratum.

“Who are you and what is it you want?”

“Chaplain Dargus and Detective Castor with the Ecclesiarchy and Adeptus Arbites, respectively, here on authority as Redemptonists. We're here to see Governor Tirnas.”

“The Governor is out at the moment. May I ask the purpose of your meeting?”

Castor looked towards the man, face blank. “We’re exterminators. We’re here to eliminate your cult problem.”

The man’s eyes grew wide and he set the auto-quill down on his desk, a silence entering the room as the whir of electronics vanished. “Cult? Here?”

Skraen smiled as he watched the man’s surprise. The normal folk were always surprised to hear Chaos had taken root near them. Everyone believed they were the exception, that Chaos was a far-off myth, a boogeyman to convince you to follow the sanctions of the Emperor. If they knew about it at all.

“Indeed. The weed of heresy has sprouted in the fields of Axun II, and it is our holy duty to find its root and obliterate it, and all those associated.”

“Where has this cult come up?”

Castor picked up a book from the man’s desk, the stitching on the front. “A Study of Man’s Trust, and The Ill That Befalls Him.” By Tarmek Judunslaught.

“It could be anywhere. Your friends, your superiors, your rivals, your lovers, those you think below you until they rise up and destroy you. All that is known is that use the slums as their hunting ground, and that they likely spread over every single layer of the shafts and across this so illustrious city. And that the good governor has information that will make our investigation much easier.”

The man, beliefs and reassurances drilled into him from years of service to the Imperium crashing to the ground, fumbled with the vox for a moment before finding the correct button. “Mr. Tirnas, two Arbites are here to see you.” Pressing another button, the thick ceramite doors royally burst outwards, revealing the ostentatious trappings of the governor.

Tall oak bookcases rose to the heavens seated upon mahogany flooring, Jittarian-woven rugs guiding the eye to the monstrous and lavish rosewood desk. The governor looked upon them.

His face was lined, hair tousled and thin, sweat gathering in pools under his arms and on his brow, suit wrinkled. On the pict-screen, he was a youthful figure, with a head of full and freshly combed jet-black locks. Missing a juvenat treatment means you can’t fool the masses until you’re once again pumped with chemically combined youth.

“What is it, officers?” His voice was hoarse and quiet, like the rasp of leather against steel.

The quiet musical harmonies playing from the desk vox were drowned out in the expressionless, grinding resonances of Castor’s voicebox. “We require any and all information you have on the cult slaying in the shaft-hive. “

“By that you mean..?”

“He means what he says, Governor. He is a pious man in the service of the All Blessed One, and as such would not stain his honor with lies and veiled questions.”

The man sighed, resting his elbows on his desks, hands folding over each arm in turn. “I’ve skimmed the reports compiled by the local Arbites. They’re causing a stir in the Board.”

“The board?” screeched the voicebox.

“The Board for the Revival of the Lower Circles and the Subsequent Undertaking to Restore-“

Skraen’s crooked smile gained a centimeter as he took a carefully measured step towards the man, stopping mere centimeters from the end of the desk, looking down to the governor, the embedded desk lighting reflecting off the polished silver of his augmetics. Governor Tirnas could see his reflection in the man’s ruined face. “That’s quite enough, governor. Sadly the local Arbites are a gang of glorified highwaymen who are just as bad, if not worse, than the scum they con for money. Perhaps you could …educate us on this disruption in your Board.”

“They believe it could cause problems during renovations, and that investors may lose faith.”

“From what’s you’ve said, it seems this was a particularly trying problem. Perhaps your colleagues have enlisted their own forces for investigation? They may have compiled reports which could be useful to my partner and I.”

“Why are two off-planet Arbites here anyway? Shouldn’t you stay where you came from?”

Skraen leaned in close to the governor’s face, a sneer on his lips, the bright and wild green of the man’s eyes showing his lust to see the heretic cleansed with fire and the whole of the Warp ravaged in eternal infernos. “We are here as followers of the Redemptionists. I find your planet lacking in faith, uncooperative to His holy agents in their hunt for a den of sacrilegious witch-kin. Do you know what happens to the heretics of a world, and those who protect them?”

“I- I do not protect-“

“Castor?”

The voicebox emanated it’s emotionless string of tones. “Those who defy the Redemptionists in their holy directive to cleanse the Imperium of it’s enemies are themselves cleansed with fire and steel until their ravaged flesh turns to soot.”

Tirnas swallowed, trying to wet his dry and tight throat. “I’ll check with the Board.” He said. Skraen smiled his crooked smile. He still sat straight with this head high, but his voice was timid and shrinking back.

“Your cooperation is greatly valued, Governor. “

The Redemptionists turned and left his office, the soothing tones of the desk-vox following their exit.

*****

“What’s next?”

“Now we see how those on the surface live.”


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The stage was full to the brim with the garish twirling of the performers, the guests dressed in the finest robes at the height of fashion. Paper lanterns rose far into the sky, millions of them, some trailed by long, elegantly flowing streamers in colors bright and dull. Hearty chuckles rose from the strained lungs of the nobles, some so hedonistic their weight could not be supported on mere human legs, powerful Mechanicus replacements taking hold.

The ball was a celebration, hosted in the grand homes of those with coffers ample enough to afford it. In this case, Jaquor Kintiss the IV. It was a tradition that had long since lost its meaning and become the grandest pissing match on all of Axun II. The nobles dressed their finest, many in the billow robes made from an exotic lighter-than-air material, billowing up around them in a show of their regality. They brought with them a gallery of their wealth, using their influence to herd in exotic creatures and important guests. Tech-priests and Commissars, exquisitely disguised assassins and Ecclesiarchy priests. The whole of the Imperium was represented by its gluttonous representatives, gorging themselves on the finer aspects of life.

All the while, miles and miles below, the Ninth Circle wallowed in filth and heresy, mutation rampant and anything that could wreck their minds enough to offer an escape a prized artifact.

Castor looked to the Chaplain. He was no better than the arrogant nobles around him. Jewels adorned his exquisitely tailored clothing, his long formal coat a plethora of colors, each seamlessly blending with the next in a pattern so designed that he could be dressed in a thousand different colors depending on which angle you saw him. He went into the crowd, delivering his concocted lines, enticing people into his web until they were left helpless under the confusion of his words and the wine he slyly convinced them to drink.

Castor had kept himself to a dark bodyglove, protective against most small-arms fire, hidden under the dull grey robes of the Administratum, a hood kept low, a compact las-pistol with a 15-shot clip in a shoulder holster, and on the sides of his torso, two small blades hidden in the pockets of the bodyglove. While the Chaplain began his own investigation into the heresies they hid deep within, Castor slipped into the shadows, easily overlooked by those too caught up with their own imagined self-worth to care about a lowly Scribe skulking through their midst.

Jaquor Kintiss was a man of clean conscience and sound mind, with an unmarked reputation and a heart of pure gold. That was the common belief, at least. Those influential enough to be in the loop and those who had dug too far into a case knew otherwise. Nothing solid could ever be put on him, and he would always slip through the cracks just as easily as he slipped the thrones into the local Arbites’ palms. With his benevolent smile and care-free attitude, he was the last to be suspected.
Numerous instances forged tenuous links between him and the cult of Axun II, however. Otherwise pointless shipments of wargear too easily “seized by outside forces”,
eyewitnesses seeing him at the attacks of the cult, looking on. Random trips to the lower levels.

And so they came here, where his friends and business partners were all gathered.

Someone would know something. And if they didn’t…

Castor slipped through a doorway, into the darkness of another room. Reaching under the thick hood, a pair of goggles fell over his eyes, tactical displays cast on the lenses atop the image being displayed on the phosphor screens. The room was cast in green, each detail picked out in the artificial light. A low thrum came from the common room as the guests chortled and crooned over themselves.

Slowly moving across the room to the stairway, moving up the oddly-shaped boards of polished wood. Each was unique, never the same measurement, some only a few centimeters out. It was disorienting- not to mention annoying. Stretching his legs to reach the next step, he struggled to step lightly enough to stay silent. It was a futile effort, and he drew his las-pistol just in case.

Reaching the top of the steps, he crouched down, moving against the wall. He examined the long hallway, checking over his shoulder once before standing slightly, keeping his knees bent a bit as he stole his way through the house. Reaching the end of the hallway, the tall ceramite doors, deceptively covered in planks of wood, gave a foreboding presence to the entryway.

He reached to one of the small pouches on his waist, popping a tab open and reaching in with clumsy gloved fingertips. He pulled out a multi-key, advanced in its design and the best that could be mass-produced for Redemptionist use. He had to admit, being part of the institution certainly had its perks. He’d be damned if he would ever complain if he had a fraction of the basic equipment of the Ordos, though.

He slid the multikey into the access slot on the small scanner next to the door, and stepped to the side of the doorway as it did its work, checking the pistol’s safety and watching the end of the corridor. Moments later, the multikey flashed a faint purple, a bright white spot in his vision. He pulled the device out and tucked it away as the doors slid open soundlessly, their faint groan belying the weight they suffered.

Sliding into the room, the doors slid back behind him, and he looked around the room. A small desk was tucked away in the corner, much of the office being taken up by the rows of shelves containing priceless treasures and ancient texts not seen anywhere else on this world. Tucking his laspistol away inside his robes, and went to the desk. Skimming the pages littered across its top, blinking constantly, the physical impulse initiating the pict-recorder.

As each page was captured, he frowned. There was nothing here but finance reports. Setting the pages down, he looked around the room, engaging the scanning equipment.
He turned through the room, examining each panel on the walls.

There! A small room, with what appeared to be some archaic form of cogitator. As he reached around the walls for any sort of hinge or handle, a loud cheer erupted from the nobles on the floor below.

********

Skraen smiled, a smile born of zeal and bloodlust. His voice joined the hundreds of others, for what good it did. The booming roar of the ivory-skinned noble beside him made his ears ring, and his chest throb with the relentless bass tone.

Blood splashed through the gilded bars of the massive cage as talons ripped strips of flesh from the warboar’s flank, the grox twisting as it landed from its leap, lashing out at its foe’s hind-legs.

As the roars died down, the noble turned to Skraen. “Damn good fighting! I haven’t seen anything this good since…hmm, well, since that bastard Kintiss’ last party!”

“Indeed, my friend. This is very entertaining. Now, what was it you were saying about the lower levels?” Skraen was getting impatient, the man’s foul breath and unceasing howls staining his mood.

“Lower level- ah, thas’ right. There’s been some fighting or something. Twists git’ killed. Commonplace enough. People down there are piss-poor, wretched cretins. “

“You don’t think it could be anything more sinister? Word is there’s been more lately.”

The man turned his head to each side, jowls slapping his face. He leaned in close, the liquid twisting his beard worth more than the whole of the Eighth Circle. “Well, don’t spread this around, but little birdies ‘ave been chirping that there’s some sort of Mechanicus folk getting up to something down there. Some people are getting worried, the shiftier ones collecting up their investments in the Circles. “

“Interesting.”

“Right, right. ‘S all hogwash anyway, nobles get more paranoid and more rich every year.”

The war boar had charged the grox and was goring it apart with its tusks. The noble turned, screaming and cursing the beast as he lost his bet.

Skraen backed away from the man, blending into the crowd. Cults in the lower levels, something about machines. It was the word alright, told to him by everyone he asked. The screeching of rusted wheels turning sounded as the cage was rolled away, and the nobles’ attention turned to the vox-speakers blasting from the stage.

“Welcome, my friends. On this momentous occasion, we celebrate once again the victory over the Eldar raids, some two hundred years past.”

Skraen turned towards the voice, a quiet yet confident melody, worming its way through his mind. He found himself intrigued in the man, his subtle aura of command enticing. Jaquor Kintiss. The drunken nobles roared their approval at his words, most too inebriated to know what they supported.

“We are not without our troubles- the trade routes are dwindling and the lower levels have become a hive of degenerates. The newly elected governor,” here he paused, a playful smile on his face as he let the people cheer “, the newly elected governor, has put a plan into action, a glorious Revival of the Circles, bringing in exotic and flourishing trade and making us the star of the system. As a supporter of his procedures, I invite you all to stake your claim now- before it’s too late.” A wry smirk played on his features, and he held himself high. Despite his happy demeanor, a strange silence fell over the crowd as they murmured of the killings.

“Enjoy yourselves, until dawn breaks over our shining city!”

Servitors whirred through the crowd, passing out fine liquors to the guests as more of the beasts were rolled into the pit. Kintiss left the stage, approached by two figures clad in the black of shadows. His expression darkened as they spoke, and the two figures began to race towards the stairs. Skraen looked up to the ceiling, placing his drink on a servitor’s tray before slipping away from the murderous horde, unnoticed as they delighted themselves in the gore of the beasts.

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