Well, I finally got up after a half hour delay, eating dinner as I write. Roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn, and brownies. Good times.
Descending Orbit, Day 1, 1300 hours
"Ah, Ani. I missed that horrid scratching sound of your voice on my eardrums."
I smiled warmly under my helmet. Sam and I always had an... interesting relationship.
"You're still just angry I killed more things on Desolatia than you." I said smoothly. He smiled.
"Nah. I'm just angry I never saw below that suit." he chuckled.
"Max has. Ask him about it sometime. Maybe he can give you some pics or something."
Derrick was across the hold from me, checking our flight path on a dataslate.
"You're looking well. No wounds, scars that I can see." he said. His optics whirred as they focused.
"New armor." I said, tapping the breastplate of the Mark VI. He nodded.
"I see. Semi-Powered Assault, Recon variant. The newest version, too."
"So, you have fifty creds plus nine years interest?" I asked the tech adept offhandedly. He tapped his thin robes, making clunking noises as his augmetics hit each other.
"Sorry. Left my bank statement in my other robes." he said.
Harken got up from speaking with Max in the cockpit, and stood in the center of the hold, a holomap blossoming in his hands.
"Alright team, Heronia IV. Peaceful, sound world. Recently paid 150% of the required Guard and Administratum tithes. All in all, very nice place." he began. Cooper raised his hand.
"Then why are we here sir? And why did you feel the need to bring heavy armor along?"
He gestured at me, then at the cockpit door.
"Well, there's been whispers of a cult intrusion in the higher levels of the planet's rulers. High Lord Pruitte is accused of several counts of Grand Heresy, and his underling, Lord Fletcher, is accused of being an active member of a Chaos cult, here on Herodia."
"What's the nature of the cult, sir?" I asked.
"Good question. Our recent intel points to either Tzeentch or Slaanesh, although given the rulers' disposition, Slaanesh seems more likely."
"Very good sir."
"Now then. We'll be landing at Ross Field Spaceport. Anya, Max, I want you out of those suits for the time being. Here."
He threw me a pile of clothes and a set of dogtags marking me as Anya Cirov, a refugee from the Cadian system.
I changed in the arms locker at the shuttle's rear, and then took the controls from Max as he swapped too. We packed our armor into a nondescript footlocker with the Cadian Guard logo on it, and listened as the radio crackled to life.
"Inbound unidentified you are in Ross Field airspace. Squawk ident and proceed to pad nine, repeat pad nine."
"Ross Field tower this is Shuttle seven of the Fredric's Hope, carrying refugees and mercenaries from the Cadian Gate."
The shuttle bounced slightly as it touched the pad, and our party stepped down the ramp to meet a bored-looking guard with a holstered stubber pistol and a metal detector.
He ran it over Sam, then Cooper, simply waved Derrick past, then Harken, and finally myself and Max. He didn't even bother to scan the footlocker.
We walked through the port, noting the vast amount of refugees and other people, from Herodia and the surrounding systems. Harken finally found the front doors, and we commandeered a groundcar to use.
Derrick stopped the car in front of a seedy looking hotel and bar in downtown Jorian, the planetary capital. We stepped from the car, looking at each other. Harken looked at the sign and smiled.
"Alright. Don't eat anything without a tox strip, don't drink the water, and do not talk to people with less then pants and a shirt on. Oh, and don't accept drinks from women, for you," said Harken, indicating his retinue, then Max. "Or men, for you." he said, indicating me.
We stepped up to the door, noting the CLOSED sign hung from the doorknob. A single guard was standing in the front.
"We're closed." he said.
"And I'm Danal Harken." said Harken. "Can we see tonight's special?"
"We're closed." repeated the guard. He reached for a stubber at his waist.
Max leapt forward, grabbing the man by the head and knocking him against the wall. He slumped to the ground.
"Nice move." said Harken, waving us inside.
A few people sat around a circular bar, a small band playing in the corner. Women in various stages of dress walked around, occasionally speaking to the patrons. A single man, extremely fat with a stained white shirt, stood behind the bar, cleaning a glass.
"Hello Parker." said Harken smoothly. He ran a finger along the bar. "I see your staff hasn't improved much."
"Well, what am I going to do. The girls are where the real money in the place is at." he said.
"Now then. Do you have my money?"
"Uh, no. Not that much. Give me three days-" began Parker, a trickle of sweat forming on his brow.
"Listen. I'm a tourist. If I like what I see here, we may stay a while."
Parker looked at Max and I, easily the largest people in the room, and nodded slowly.
"You're a little well armed for refugees." he commented, looking at the pistols on my belt, and Max's HAR on his back.
"You're a little under armed for a bar owner." I replied.
"Hm. I like you, sweetheart. You need a job? Got some openings..." he asked calmly.
"Look at my eyes, not her chest, fatty." said Harken, pulling the man to face him.
"Fine. We got rooms at the top floor. Landing platform too. Here's the key. We're even, right?"
Harken took the key. "The depends. Can we count on no riffraff making their way in here?"
"And no trouble from your normal... assortment of women?"
Parker sighed. "Fine."
"And as much food and drink as these two want." he gestured at Max and I. "They don't drink, but they like lots of food and sweet drinks. Properly cooked, please."
Parker grumbled under his breath. "And you'll wipe my debts?"
The fat man rubbed his hands together. "Fine. Deal. You got the top floor to yourselves. I'll get Krystal to move the girls down the street, and I'll keep the gangers and hive trash out of here. Happy?"
Harken smiled. "Was it worth ten thousand creds plus interest, Parker?"
The man sighed. "I'm not sure anymore."
Harken chuckled and led up up the elevator, opening the door.
"Alright. Four rooms. Me, then Derrick and Cooper, then Max and Sam, then Anya."
"Sir. Request to bunk with Max." said. Max seconded. Harken narrowed his eyes.
"Any particular reason? I was going by gender."
"We're going by profession, sir." said Max. "Buddy system too sir."
"Very well. Sam, you're bunking alone. Stow your gear."
As the sun set on Jorien, Derrick, Max, Cooper and I played tarot, while Harken planned the mission to come.
You'll forgive me, but you must be mistaken. I've met your makers, and they don't even know your name...
GIVING CHASE- ORDO HERETICUS FIC (Updated Mar. 19)
Hat in the Ring