What you don't see will harm you
With those two words a man was condemned to death.
Without another thought, Abel Horgan, Planetary Governor and ultimate arbitrator over life and death on the planet, breathed on the gene-reader and sealed the fate of a forgotten man for a forgotten crime.
He looked up from his desk and sneered at his assembled lackeys and sycophants. Preon fashion dictated that government officials wear judicial wigs and powdered their faces white on public duties. He detested the practice, likening them to walking corpses.
Oh yes, he thought, your time will come.
“That is positively the last duty I perform today..” A blue-robed Administrum sector procurator raised a wavering hand.
“My Lord, the Imperial tithes…”
“No,” Horgan interrupted. “They can wait,” he turned to a Canon of the Ministorium, “and so can your sermons.”
He stood abruptly causing a minor ripple through the gathered throng, who were all forced to go down on one knee. He tuned to an army officer at the far end of the room who was wearing the crimson and blue of his Praetorian Guard.
“Colonel Durcáin. I will be in my personal quarters. I do not wish to be disturbed unless the Emperor himself comes knocking.”
The gathered officials muttered as they were lead out.
Horgan’s quarters were on the uppermost tier of the Imperial Palace. Glale Hive spread out before him in a brown and grey stain. He spat contemptuously as if the sight of it disgusted him. He downed the glass of Amsec and slammed the crystal glass down, venting some hidden fury.
“My love, is that you?”, came a soft voice.
Horgan tuned as a tall female glided into his chambers.
“Katherine,” he stuttered. “How did you get in here?”
His concubine looked as resplendent as ever.
She was wearing a gown of the purest Lugraria silk that was almost see-through, leaving nothing to the imagination. Low-cut at the front, it accentuated her ample cleavage. Her long blonde hair hung in waves down onto her neck. She looked at him through those deep penetrating green eyes and pursed her red lips.
Immediately, as he always did in her presence, he began to relax, followed by a feeling of growing excitement.
She was close now, he could smell her and feel her breath on his neck.
“Don’t be angry my love, I sneaked in when the cleaning servitors were not looking.”
Highly unlikely, he thought.
“I shall have them all mind scrubbed and then…”
“They do not matter,” she soothed, and placed a tiny kiss on his ear.
Hogan backed away slightly. Katherine was good for him. She helped him through difficult times, she calmed him down, but he did not need her tonight.
He did not for the love of him, know why or how he had managed to attract such a beauty, but at this time.. this time of change, she came into his life and all seemed good.
“The dinner..” he whispered.
“Yes the annual Mercatores Dinner was where we met.”
“I love you.” He blurted.
Katherine stroked his shoulder.
“Are you leaving me again tonight?” She purred.
Hogan coughed and then pulled slowly away from her. She smiled back.
“Just one of those meetings, with my friends and away from prying eyes. Cards, yes it is cards tonight.” He almost sounded convincing.
Katherine dropped her head slightly and then looked back up.
“I will be waiting for you to come back.”
* * *
Hogan left by a secret door behind the main throne room, and used a mag-lift to take him to the lower levels. A non-descript door lead him out into a covered street. He was met by Colonel Durcáin and a small squad of trusted men.
“Never my lord.”
* * *
The meeting place was a small deconsecrated chapel in the Riverecords District, a long way away from prying eyes and the centre of government. It was not a place a Planetary Governor would ever be seen dead in, but needs must. This meeting was vital for the future of his planet.
The entrance, a large arched door was guarded by stim-bulked gang-types. With a nod from Durcáin, they stepped aside and back into the shadows.
Immediately, and without warrant, Hogan felt a slight chill of fear. As if sensing his unease his bodyguard moved in closer.
The door opened without a sign and the group moved in.
It was dark by any standards, but in the distance was the glow from a fire. Hogan was aware that there were silent seated figures in the pews on either side of him. They gave off a musty smell but made no noise. As the room opened up Hogan could see a long table and behind that was a blazing fire. Above the fire was a large round sigil, but he could not tell what it was. As he tried to read it his head began to pound and he felt faint.
He noticed the tall figure sat at the head of the table.
“Ah,” the figure hissed. “The prodigal son has arrived.”
His bodyguard stopped and advanced no further. Hogan gave them a confused look but carried on.
The figure stood and Hogan momentarily halted, such was his confusion.
The figure was robed and hunched over.
“This is dangerous.” Hogan began, subconsciously looking right and left.
“Your new master does not fear this Imperium.”
Hogan threw a package onto the table.
“The codes you required. This will enable you to take over with little effort.” He placed a hand on the package. “My position remains.”
“Of course,” the voice hissed. “A new order will rise and drive your corpse God out.”
“A risk…”. He felt lightheaded and almost swooned. The robed figure caught him before he fell.
“I do not know what became of me.” He stuttered.
“All is well,” the voice whispered, the hiss gone, “... Abel Hogan.”
Hogan froze. Confused.
Green eyes gazed back. A towering figure stepped into the light next to the voice, a great warrior in grey power armour wielding a long bladed polearm.
The robe fell. It was Katherine, but she was wearing a black body glove. Her face twitched and changed before his very eyes. No longer beautiful, but now stern and unforgiving.
“Inquisitor Jacolien Vulker actually. You traitor. Did you honestly think that one such as I would fall for a beast like you. I name you Proditor ad Imperium
and your life is now forfeit.. Abel, my love.”