A quick disclaimer from me at the begining of 2017. All my stories will be within the 1100 word limit. This does not include the title (or maybe it does sometimes!), my name and the word count. It does not include any expanations or words, quotes etc, which I usually insert after the end. I hope that is OK to everyone?
* * *
The Long Watch
It had been a long and laborious shift.
Emperor’s balls, but aren’t they always?
Paulo Bahamonde was in desperate need of a drink, or something else to take away the dull throb behind his eyes. He would go to The Blue Crustacean Club
, get drunk on Cadian Pilsner and then stuff his face with those wonderful pastries they serve there. Then he would waste a handful of coins on the rigged slot machines before staggering back to his grey box to sleep.
Or maybe not? Damn them all.
The Blue Crustacean
was a sleazy rat-infested hole that preyed on the likes of him, fleecing hard-working servants of the Imperium of their hard-gotten gains. The stimm-built muscle on the door meant that there was always a No Money Back Policy.
Tonight, he thought, tonight I shall fleece them instead, and there would be nothing they could do about it.
It was risky of course. He worked in the Macharius District, which was a militarised zone full of busy-bodies and everyone he should avoid, but Frack it, he would go home happy tonight for a change… if only the headache would go away.
Eight bells tolled. Shift end. The ancient vox-amp crackled into life.
Praise the Emperor!
“Praise his Majesty!”
We honour his sacrifice!
“He sacrificed himself so that we may live!”
All Hail the Emperor!
“And off to the Crustacean we go... praise the Cadian Pilsner, praise the reconstituted…”
“I believe the correct reply is ‘We are his humble servants’… Bahamonde, or did I hear something different?”
Damn! Overseer First-Class Kumar. The pedant had heard his remarks.
Bahamonde turned very slowly, hoping above all, that his nemesis was not there and he had imagined the whole thing.
A rotund, grey-hooded man glared back through small piggy eyes. Sweat glistened on his flat forehead, his thin lips were drawn back in a grimace of rage.
“Paulo Bahamonde. For years I have shrugged off your impudent remarks and slights. I have put them down to your inability to communicate correctly with your fellow workers because of your high intelligence and other skills. That is it I think. You just cannot control what comes out of your mouth. Tonight, you excelled in stupidity, tonight you crossed that line. Tonight, was heresy. Tonight…”
“Oh, do shut up fat ass.”
The Overseer nearly swallowed his tongue.
“What did you say?”
“I said shut up. Go to sleep. Do not wake up until tomorrow morning. When you do, you will forget about this little episode. In fact, you will praise me, again, for all my hard work and diligence.”
The Overseer staggered slightly before toppling forward into Bahamonde’s outstretched arms. He gently lay him down between one of the rows of pews that lined the walls of the Domum autem Ducatum
and then stood up quickly before anyone else noticed.
It was always risky using his powers. He only used them sparingly. He was, after all, an unsanctioned Psyker and if he was caught, he would be shown no mercy. Recently however, he had been more risqué and had used his gift for his own delight and pleasure. He secretly enjoyed the power it gave him.
I will stop using them, he thought, then added, but not until I have had a good night at the club.
* - *
The evening was chilly with a frosty wind blowing in from across the sea. He pulled his hood over his head but the material was so threadbare that it provided very little protection from the elements. He joined the heaving mass of workers and allowed himself to be carried along. Their body heat was at least something.
He Predictably found himself at Saint Drusus Boulevard and dropped left into a small side alleyway and away from the throng. The human tide continued on their way, unabated, like a never-ending sea of grey golems.
He tasted bile in his throat and before he knew it he was heaving heavily, spilling the meagre contents of his stomach onto the rubbish-strewn floor at his feet. He feebly clasped his throat as if he could stop this reflex. A stabbing pain pierced the side of his head and appeared to pass through to the other side.
By the Emperor, what is happening?
He fell to his knees, unable to control even his basic functions. He looked up at the tide flowing by, pleading for some sort of help, some sort of sign. He was disappointed, the grey continued, on and on, forward and on.
He finally got to his feet and saw her.
A face, a pale face in the crowd was looking back at him. She was beautiful, an angel of unsurpassed perfection, and she was smiling at him. He had seen her before, he was sure of it.
Her white cloak fluttered open and he saw power armour.
He tasted blood in his mouth.
“It makes sense now. It is you. You are making me sick,” he struggled. “Whatever you are, whatever you are doing is making me the way I am. You are poisonous to me, you are toxic.”
A man in a long trench coat stepped out of the shadows beside him. He was holding something up in his hands.
“Do you know what this is?” He said in a soft, melodious voice.
Bahamonde’s legs gave way once more. He began to sob uncontrollably.
It was a small silver plate which bore a glowing red rune.
“We have been watching you for some time, Paulo Bahamonde, Secundum Genus Scribae
, the scrivener. I am Interrogator Wolf of the Holy Inquisition,” he gave an imperceptible nod. “This is Sister Berehta of The Order of the Silver Sword. She is an Untouchable and here to protect me… from you. Our ship awaits in orbit and from there we transit to Holy Terra.”
“I have always been a good servant of the Emperor.” Bahamonde whimpered.
The Interrogator gently placed a hand on his head.
“I know you have, and now you can serve him again by sacrificing your soul to Him.”
Tu per Gratiam in Lucem.
By his Grace you go into the light.
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