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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-17-10, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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Default Unguarded Minds

This is a rewrite of an older story. Hope y'all like reading it as much as I do writing it.

Unguarded Minds.

Ever since Thorne had heard the words “recalled for reassignment” Thorne had been in a bitter mood. Sitting in the kitchenette of his shared quarters he glowered at the door across the lounge area from him. The isolation was unsettling. A week ago they had been recalled to the Garrison and brought here under armed guard by provosts. He missed the men and women of his section.

As a carrier soldier of the Elysian Intelligence Cadre he was not used being the one left in the dark. That fact grated against his nerves, like loosing ones sight or voice. In this comfortable prison he might as well have neither. And he only had the Green Girl for company.

He wiped a hand over his bald head and cast his glaring eyes around the sparsely furnished quarters. A comfortable two-seat brown sofa, two matching chairs and a low table took up the tiny space of the lounge. Small kitchenette had an oven, a worktop and a square chrome table with two chairs. The bedrooms were no better.

Hearing movement behind him he swung his gaze around as Elyra entered the lounge. As usual she wore her battle dress uniform, navy blue and a beret atop her short blonde hair. Her piercing blue eyes locked with his and a slight smile played out the corners of her mouth.

“Good morning,” she said. “Looking forward to another day of rest and relaxation?”

“I was thinking of petitioning our watchers for a sparring session actually,” he said sipping his recaf as she came into the kitchen and set about making herself breakfast.

“I’ll spar with you, unless you’re scared of losing to a Green Girl,” she said it with a slight sneer that betrayed how deep the nickname cut. Thorne had been the first to call her it but who had told her he didn’t know. In any case he refused to apologise on principal, she was green and a girl.

“Sure, I might not be so young as you but I’m not an old man yet,” he laughed. He had tried his best to build bridges with the young woman since they were quartered together and was pleased to have had some success.

“Well I guess we’ll see about that,” she said her tone softer with a full smile on her face now.

“I’ll go get my jacket then,” Thorne stood gulped the last of his drink and set the cup by the pot for when he got back.

He was halfway across the lounge area when the door opened, he stopped. A stranger entered wearing a red tunic and trousers. Behind the first man came another, this one in a black bodyglove with a turtleneck that covered the entire lower half of his face. Neither appeared to be carrying a weapon but both men exuded and air of total self-confidence.

“Both of you sit down please,” the first man said indicating the sofa while he settled into a chair, the second man simply stood by the door. Thorne just caught a glimpse of the provosts outside.

Without really knowing why Thorne found himself obeying. It was the last thing he would normally have done. He didn’t like it but even as he thought up the words to protest they vanished before he could say them. From the look of her Elyra was experiencing much the same thing. She simply left her breakfast still cooking on the oven-top and went to sit down. Her face was severe with frustration much as Thorne’s must have been.

The intruder simply smiled at them as he watched them obey his instructions. And then with a brief head movement he sent the other man to turn off the oven.

“There,” he said once the two soldiers were seated. “Now we can get acquainted.”

“Holy Throne!” Thorne’s voice had suddenly returned and he sputtered the first words that tumbled through his mind.

“You’re a witch!” Elyra demanded with a little more composure as she leapt to her feet. But already the second man had intercepted the motion with a leaping kick and she fell back clutching her ribs.

“Enough, enough, all of you,” the first man said. “It will be easier if I introduce myself first. I am Luther Trant, servant of the Holy Orders of the Emperor’s Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus. Guardian and confidant to Inquisitor Amelia Gerro.”

He produced a rosette from his tunic. It dangled from his clenched fist for them to see. Thorne found his voice had gone again and though still gasping for breath Elyra was also staring gape-mouthed at the man. Luther Trant smiled apologetically returning to the rosette to its pocket. “I am sure you both have questions, please make them brief and I will answer as best I can.”

“What do you want?” Thorne asked after a moment of marshalling his bewildered thoughts.

“We are recruiting you,” said Trant.

“Wha-what for?” Elyra managed between gasps. She had managed to pull herself upright at least.

“To work for my mistress of course, the two of you have been selected as ideal candidates to help us further our current investigation,” Trant said, then added. “Hail, three cups of recaf please.”

For a moment the second man didn’t move. Then he simply turned and went to make the drinks. Thorne watched him go, the balance and poise of the man showed his years of martial training. The apparent vacancy of his expression betrayed by the light of his eyes, a man who saw without looking. A dangerous individual.

“You are a witch though, right?” Elyra asked drawing Thorne’s attention.

“A telekine, yes,” Trant laughed.

“He didn’t seem to obey as easily as we did,” Thorne said.

“He wouldn’t. Hail is a devout of the Shadow Temple, children of that sect undergo a rigorous mental conditioning that strengthens them against powers of suggestion and mental deception,” Trant said.

“What do you need us for? What makes us ‘ideal’?” Elyra asked.

“Your training in covert operations, the fact that you have only recently arrived on Dravos. No you can’t refuse Sergeant. My mistress is unable to conduct this operation single-handed, I would be easily be detected by the enemy. And Hail, though utterly capable, is still just one man.”

“I see, so when do we get to meet your mistress?” Thorne asked as he was handed his drink, Hail gave the rest out and then with a polite nod from Trant he left the room.

“Soon, Hail is just making some final modifications to your records,” Trant said. “I am sorry.”

“For what?”

“To be of any use to use to us you both need to be dead. Executed for a breach of discipline I am afraid.”
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Well.... This really proves that you're good in what you do..


And do hurry up with the next installment....


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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-18-10, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you. I am glad you like it. I took note of your comment on Life of a medic, I hope I haven't put snarst off. It really would make a great story.

Section 2.

The ground car slowed to a stop in the yard of what appeared to be a convent. Elyra could see women of girls across a broad age range walking the grounds in sky blue hooded surpluses. There were gardens, the first she had seen on Dravos, she supposed that was one privilege of being in the upper-hive. She saw fountains and statuary of an assortment of angelic beings.

Beside her Thorne was taking in the same surroundings though it seemed to her that he was untouched by the beauty that she saw in it. The hard-minded and cynical personality of the man grated. He struck her as the kind of person who could find an enemy in every shadow if only he looked hard enough.

As they clambered out of the car she felt the crunch of gravel beneath her feet. Hail remained in the car and drove off. She guessed there must be a parking garage somewhere in the grounds. In front of them stood a structure of seven spires interconnected by a maze-work of artfully crafted suspension bridges. Unlike the grounds the building was relatively plain, unadorned by murals or frescoes and yet shapely and comforting in its simplicity.

“The Sanctuary of Saint Valentina Rosa, it is beautiful isn’t it,” Trant said, once more her skin prickled in agitation at his intrusion on her thoughts.

“Can you stop hearing other people or is it beyond your ability?” she asked in a waspish tone.

“Frightened he’ll realise you’re attracted to him?” Thorne asked at her shoulder, Trant laughed the comment off, Elyra simply ignored pugnacious.

“Follow me please, I need to present you to our hostess before we meet the inquisitor herself,” Trant said moving off still with a smile on his lips.

Thorne fell into step beside her and they approached the doors of one of the nearer spires. It wasn’t long before they attracted looks from the nuns. She guessed they were nuns of some kind. Trant ignored them; Thorne seemed to be scanning the grounds for something. Elyra couldn’t help but return the stares once she noticed it a few times.

“What have they done to their faces?” she asked no one in particular.

“Scars,” Thorne said simply.

“But why?”

“They are penitents after a fashion,” Trant explained. “They are girls who have been taken in from the lower levels of the hive. There girls are either gang members or else joygirls, in either case they are tattooed or branded in some manner. They ritually burn these marks from their skin, the pain cleansing their eternal souls.”

“Emperor alive! Is it really worth it?” Thorne asked. Elyra glared at him, Trant merely shrugged.

“They seem to think so.”

“Pain is a formidable tutor to those who have lost their focus,” the voice was strong and steady but smooth, a voice that was never raised in anger. Thorne and Elyra both startled to realise that Hail had rejoined them, neither had heard his approach.

“Indeed. Ah, here she is now, Mother Tarish is the matriarch of the convent, she has agreed to harbour us for the duration of our investigation,” Trant said drawing their combined attention to an elderly woman who stood waiting ahead of them.

Like so many of the women here she bore scars on her face, their smoothness stark against the papery texture of her skin. Elyra was surprised to note the apparent vigour of the woman, she was straight backed and stern though her skin suggested an age well over eighty.

As they drew closer the woman inclined her head, first to Hail, then Elyra, Thorne and almost as an afterthought to Trant. If he noticed the rudeness then the psyker didn’t show it. He smiled disarmingly into the woman’s scowl.

“These are the two others I told you about,” Trant said. “Sergeant Tonius Thorne and Corporal Elyra Vaughn.”

“Greetings to you both,” Mother Tarish had a hard voice, but remarkably clear.

“Ma’am,” they replied.

“You have been prepared quarters, if there is anything you require then please submit a request to your mistress who will in turn address it to me. Please do not interfere with the introspection of the sisters.”

“Yes ma’am,” they answered. She nodded and then turned to leave. Trant smiled after her and then continued towards the spire. Thorne and Elyra exchanged glances and followed.

The interior of the spire was a large circular space. The floor area was covered with a large matted area that spread from an altar on the far side of the circle from them. The altar was carved of stone in the shape of and Aquila. Behind this stood a statue of the Emperor, and two other statues either side of him. They looked like Astartes to Elyra but they had plumed helms and were armed with some kind of halberds. Kneeling before them was a figure in ornately crafted armour. It looked like a scaled down version of the Power Armour worn by the two warriors beside the Emperor.

“Who are they?” she asked Trant feeling distinctly foolish for not knowing. But it was not Trant who spoke.

“The Legio Custodes are the Guardians of Holy Terra, before them the genuflecting Saint Valentina,” Hail said making the sign of the Aquila, everyone else followed suit.

The floors above the hall of worship appeared to be the residences of the sisters. Each level was a practically planned series of corridors leading to a central gathering point. The sisters lived in cells off the corridors closed off by simple curtain hangings. Where the curtains were open they could see spare yet comfortable living spaces. Each sister had a small bookshelf, a desk and a cot to sleep in. A few hung paintings of orthodox religious art, but they were few.

Inquisitor Gerro had been given the entire fifth level of the spire. A sister stood watch at each entrance to the level so as to escort their fellows through without interfering with the inquisitor’s affairs. Trant had explained that since they were only a small retinue they could keep to the centre of the level allowing the sisters to pass around them with minimal exposure. The sisters apparently liked their privacy, but like anyone they were powerless to refuse the Inquisition.

As they entered the central space taken over by Gerro and her retinue they saw two hooded and robed figures. One wore white and bore the cogwheel symbol of the Adeptus Mechanicum of Mars. The other wore muted crimson robe of crushed velvet, unadorned and cut so that it exposed not a single patch of skin. They were both studying a cogitor unit set up on a table in the open rectangular that on the other levels served as a gather point for the sister.

It was the crimson robed figure who noticed them first. With smooth unhurried motions it seemed to glide over to meet them. The figure nodded to Trant and then it turned to Hail.

“We have lost enough time on recruiting these two. You must take up your position. Do not initiate any direct action without my expressed approval. If you are discovered withdraw and contact me as soon as you may. Understood?” the augmetic voice was harsh and garbled only barely betraying the femininity of the woman beneath those robes. In horror Elyra realised who the red robed woman was.

“I understand,” Hail went to one knee before Inquisitor Gerro then rose and left.

Elyra now grasped why they had been chosen. From the way she hid herself it was easy to guess that the woman beneath those robes had been grievously disfigured and was therefore incapable of conducting covert operations.

“Luther. I will need you and Sergeant Thorne with me. Show him to his cell and then be prepared to leave by ground car in thirty minutes. I need to brief Corporal Vaughn,” the rasping voice issued once more from that hood and the sound of it sent shivers down Elyra’s spine.

“Yes ma’am,” Trant said then turned to Thorne and motioned towards one of the corridors leading off from the main area.

Once they were gone Elyra found she was all but alone with the Inquisitor. The deep shadow inside the hood turned upon her and she felt frightened by it. What caused the reaction she did not know, but knowing it was irrational didn’t make the feeling go away. For a moment they just looked at one-and-other. Then the inquisitor spoke, “I would not normally send a fresh agent out alone. But I have no choice, time may be limited and I cannot afford to miss opportunities such as this.”

“I, I don’t understand,” Elyra admitted. There was a sound like static that she guessed was laughter.

“No. Of course you don’t. I will try to keep this brief. We are here to investigate the possibility that the aristocracy on Dravos are attempting to shield unsanctioned psykers from the Black Ships. This cannot be allowed,” Gerro said.

“Why would they do that?” Elyra asked in some confusion. Another hiss of laughter.

“What would not parents do for their children?” Gerro said.

“I see. So what do you need me to do?” she asked.

“The aristocracy favour an academy in the upper hive for the schooling of their children. It has its own security force. They are controlled and regulated by the Adeptus Arbites.

“Today they are sending a pair of inspectors to the academy to review the arrangements there. You will pose as one of the inspectors. Your training in intelligence gathering and security protocol will be invaluable to your cover.”

“Are we co-operating with the Arbites?”

“They requested our presence. At present they lack the resources to move openly against the aristocracy. An unfortunate consequence of the crisis on Sanctity. You know of this?” Gerro asked.

“It’s all anyone is talking about here. They say the Inquisition invoked Exterminatus. But I don’t know how true any of it is,” Elyra said not wanting to sound impertinent.

“I am sorry to say that it is true,” Gerro said. “I myself was present at the event.”

There was something different in the voice, a subtle change of pitch that may have betrayed some kind of emotional inflection. Elyra noticed it but dared not asked more. The news itself was enough to leave a hollow feeling in her chest.

“In fact. I fear that the contamination I witnessed there may not have been isolated. The entire sector is under extreme scrutiny from both Ordos Hereticus and the Odro Malleus,” Gerro said. “If we are to prevent wide scale catastrophe we must quickly isolate any concentrated psyker activity across the sector.”
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Two Ordos in one sector?... Holy Crap! The pressure!...\

Nice one mate!....

About life of a medic: Yeah, well you have to be careful... Tone down a bit or remain the same but encourage more... Cause we want aspiring authors to develop their skills here in Heresy...

I'm still thankful though that you decided to sign up here...

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This is amazing stuff keep it up man.+rep

No Pity! No Remorse! No Fear!
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-21-10, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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My apologies that this took a while. Mister Trant did not enjoy the cell bay and it took a good deal of persuasion to even get that section done. I am still not too happy with it but can't put my finger on why, so criticism is more than welcome. Anyway you didn't come to read my moaning, lol.

Section 3.

They stood in a private waiting room of the Arbites’ Courthouse, a fortified compound near the central administration district. Trant sat next to the Inquisitor, Thorne stood by the door. It pleased the psyker to see that the Guardsman revelled in his new role. Specialising in static and personal security made him a perfect guard dog for the Inquisitor.

At first he had been sceptical of Hail’s assertion that he was unsuitable for the role. But now he saw that the decision was sound and though he would never admit it he liked the fact that he could read Thorne. He would know in advance of any betrayal by the Guardsman.

No, Thorne was not the kind of man whose loyalty to the Emperor could be swayed or bought. He stood as proud as a newly enrolled private on parade in his new carapace breastplate, hands never far from the butt of his laspistol and the short power blade hidden at the small of his back.

Sensing the approach of an Arbite, Trant sent a coded hand signal to the other two. Thorne tensed, the Inquisitor gave not the slightest indication that she had even noticed the gesture. Trant knew they both clearly understood.

The door open and a stern faced young man entered casting his eyes over the three of them. His eyebrow rose as he took in Thorne’s martial appearance. But he did not comment. Instead he turned to Inquisitor Gerro.

“Marshal Primus Ruis apologises for the delay. He will see you now, if you will follow me please,” the Arbite said without introducing himself.

Inquisitor Gerro unfolded from the chair and then swept up to the man in the time it took Trant to stand. The four of them set off, Thorne and Trant brining up the rear. They passed through quiet corridors until they came to an office area. Were there should have been a hustle of activity of Arbites and Tech-priests at the cogitors it was quiet.

Trant noticed that there were far more Tech-priests than Arbites. It made him think back to Sanctity. The numbers who went with them, a fleet of ships, three Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors. He remembered the courage of the Arbites in the final sixteen hours as they attempted to evacuate as many as could be saved.

He watched the flashes in his mind. Madness gripped the planet. On the evacuation fields riots started among the desperate and those contaminated. In the streets abominations poured from the homes and temples. He bore witness to the collapse of the Imperial Guard cordon, three regiments strong. In the temple of the Martyred Lady he saw the Daemons walk. The balefire erupting from the mouth of the sacrificial priest in his arms engulfing him.

With a chill riding the length of his spine he pushed the memories away. They were not his. Hidden beneath the robe Inquisitor Gerro gave nothing of the turmoil in her thoughts away, not to anyone but Trant. Silently he pressed reassurance on her, but she resisted. She accepted that the sacrifice of the Shrineworld was utterly necessary, but she felt shame for her Ordos’ failure to act sooner.

They passed through a small office space with a single empty desk in it. The young man went through another door into a larger office with a single occupant who sat at his desk waiting for them. Trant noticed how the desk was positioned just so that the Marshal Primus was framed perfectly by the Imperial Symbol. Trant motioned for Thorne to halt at the door. An order he obeyed without so much as an eye-blink. Now was no time to show dissent.

“Inquisitor Gerro,” Ruis said rising, he was the tallest man in the room, broad yet trim. Not a man given to excess. A loyal man Trant found after inspecting his thoughts and a few surface memories.

The Inquisitor inclined her head but did not speak. Not until the young man withdrew to the office outside closing the doors behind him. Trant surveyed the room quickly, as much out of personal interest as professional.

Wider than it was long with plain grey walls. The only decorations appeared in the form of scholam certificates, legal notices, decrees and oaths of appointment. There was nothing that was not a reminder of the official status of the office holder. No art, nor picts of family or friends. Such emotional ornamentation was entirely unsuitable for the office of the Marshal Primus of Dravos, Enforcer of the God-Emperor’s Laws and Protector of His worthy citizens.

The man himself though was quite different Trant knew. A man devoted to his duty yes, but there was more than that. He had a love of performance art, a wife and three daughters. His idea of relaxation was to listen to the musical compositions and recitations of his eldest. To watch the childish antics of the youngest. He even took pride in the forthright personality of the middle child, frustrating though her rebellions maybe.

Inquisitor Gerro swooped onto one of the deliberately uncomfortable chairs on their side of the desk. Her posture however would have anyone believe it was a comfortable armchair. The physical plays of such meetings were never as interesting as the emotional responses they caused. Trant found the human capacity for deception quite intriguing especially from two organisations dedicated to the pursuit of truth.

“I am here to deal with your request for our intervention regarding psyker activity on Dravos. Disclose to me in concise terms the progress of your investigation since your communiqué. Also provide me with a fully detailed report.”

The Marshal Primus was taken aback. Both by the bluntness of her words and the sound of her voice. Trant listened to his mind working as he stumbled for a reply. He would have to acquiesce of course. But he had rather hoped not to lose complete control of the situation. More out of fear of not knowing what was happening than because he believed he was better positioned to handle the matter.

“Very well,” Ruis said after a pause. He selected a data-slate from a drawer of his desk and handed it to Gerro.

“You still have the prisoner?”

“We have her contained in a limiter-field,” Ruis answered now eager to end the meeting, his pride bruised.


As they entered the limiter-field Trant felt his mind being forced back into his skull. A wave of nausea swept over him. In the isolation memories emerged, memories of the Black Ship. Fear and dread reared inside of him and tears welled in his eyes. Thorne gave him a questioning look but he was unable to respond, his mind raced to find the Litany of Devotion.

“The God-Emperor is my light in the darkness. His will is my crusade. I walk my path with a glad heart, for the Emperor protects the Righteous. The Emperor protects the Righteous,” he repeated the words sub-vocally, disorientated by the sudden severance of his connection to the minds around him.

There were two large holding pens in which rogue psykers were kept to await the Black Ships. Either they would be destroyed, or tested and certified for sanctioning. Trant’s had once been held in just such a cage. The memories surfaced unbidden. He could taste the stench of fear and the waste and dirt of hundreds penned up and simply left to rot.

Escorted by two fully armed and armoured Arbites they walked down the narrow space between the pens. The cages were relatively empty. The Black Ships must have been recently. Trant was glad of that knowledge. It was all he could do to hold himself together.

“Your prisoner is held in a solitary cell,” one of the Arbites said as they neared the end of the bay. Two more Arbites stood either side of a mesh gate that led into a narrow corridor. Gerro barely paused for them to open the way for her. Thorne followed without breaking pace, Trant was struggling just to place one foot in front of the other.

Through the gate the corridor was lined with blank doors, each with a small hatch for observation. Pict-recorders followed every movement and Trant knew that even in the cells there was no privacy. Psykers were simply too dangerous to be without scrutiny for even a moment.

Eyes down cast Trant could see grilled vents. In the event of a security breach the entire section would be locked down and the Life Eater virus would be pumped through these vents. Not even the wardens would be spared. Too much was at stake.

The prisoner they were concerned with was held in the second cell on the right hand side. The two Arbites paused a moment before entering. First they checked through the shutter. And then they opened the door, sweeping in with weapons raised. One kept aim on the prisoner; the other panned the barrel of his bolter around each corner of the small unfurnished room.

The smell alone was horrendous. It triggered Trant’s gag reflex, even Thorne recoiled. Inquisitor Gerro remained utterly impassive. Her augmetic implants filtered the air and along with her eyes voice and much of the rest of her she had lost all sense of smell. She drifted over the threshold with an implacable, upright posture.

Inside the cell Thorne gasped.

“Holy Throne,” he breathed. The girl who cowered before the levelled weapons was just fifteen years old. She shuddered with silent sobs but had long since given up on pleading. Trant knew without needing to read her that she had begged and pleaded until her throat was raw with the effort. He had done the same. It had not helped him in the slightest.
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Section 4.

It had hit had come to her on the return journey from the Primus Academy. Elyra had taken out a dataslate and stylus in order to finalise her written report for the inquisitor upon her return to the convent. Something, that had hung in the back of her mind throughout the inspection finally snapped into place.

She remembered looking around the control centre. It was almost impressive. The Stipa, the personal protection force of Dravos’ nobility had the entire Primus Academy covered from this one location. Perimeter walls had been constructed to segregate the facility from the rest of the Hive, including from the levels above and below. They kept a three shift watch pattern with a staff of eighty security personnel on site at any one time. To Elyra’s mind there was only one question that she could not answer.

Dravos had a fairly turbulent history, but still she found it hard to justify any real necessity for the sheer level of protection given to what was more or less just another scholam. The Arbite Sergeant who accompanied her, a woman named Kira Lys seemed entirely unconcerned by it. Just another matter of routine inspection.

“It’s the same on many worlds,” she had said. “The rulers like to flaunt military power and wealth, so we have to remind them that they only possess it by the Grace of His Divine Majesty.”

That explanation seemed suitable to her. Elyra on the other hand considered that the point of flaunting military and economic wealth might well be ruse. A flashy piece of something designed to catch their eye and prevent them from seeing something infinitely more dangerous.

She had seen not a shred of evidence to support the Inquisitor’s line of investigation. She had not expected to. Even as complacent as the Arbites had grown here there was no way the Academy could attempt to train rouge psykers here without someone noticing.

She had toured the Academy facilities, dormitories, gymnasiums; the educational facilities were breath taking. It seemed that in the three millennia of its existence the Academy had been expanded many times, to allow new subjects of intellectual study. She had not even heard of many of the subjects on the syllabus. But that was not her concern.

They had trekked the grounds for nearly three hours escorted by a Stipa officer dressed in a white uniform jacket and breeches with gold piping. He wore white gloves and a pair of brown leather jackboots. An autopistol and a duelling sabre hung from his waist. Aldo Kerch he had called himself, Overwatch-Commander of the 5th Guards Directorate.

The rank appeared to be an equivalent to a company commander in Imperial Guard terms but the organisational structure of the Stipa was unfamiliar to Elyra. From this though she discerned that the officer cadre attached to the Academy could only number three or four individuals. From their inspection of the control room she could also identify only one grade of NCO a Vigilator, a squad or section command rank.

Such a simple chain of command could be effective if administered properly. But her observations concluded that the gap between a vigilator and a watch-commander or overwatch-commander was simply too great to allow a subordinate to effectively take command in a crisis. A point she would mention to Inquisitor Gerro. Taking out the officers would effectively eliminate the Stipa’s ability effectively co-ordinate itself.

It was thinking about their walk through the grounds that had made the jamming cogs in the back of her head slip loose and begin turning. The shrine.

Overwatch-Commander Kerch had been leading them along a permacrete pathway that circled the Academy’s main building. He had been pointing to the guard towers set at intervals of four-hundred meters along the perimeter walls. Both Kira and Elyra had been listening in attentive silence.

“Each contains a two-man team with a mounted .50 calibre autogun. The mount can traverse one-hundred and eighty degrees outwards from the wall. The only exceptions being those slightly larger towers you see at corner-points. Each of those has a two, two-man teams, and thusly, two mounted weapons,” Kerch had an inexhaustible love for the sound of his own voice.

It was then as she looked toward one of the towers he had indicated that she had seen the shrine. A small but well appointed building, quite distant from the other Academy structures. The architecture was exquisite, a smooth white stone with grey-whorls across the surface. Each block seemed to fit together to form a beautiful pattern.

For a moment the sight of the building had enraptured her to the point that Kerch and Kira had moved on several paces before noticing her absence. An exasperated Kerch had cleared his throat loudly right in her ear to get her attention.

“I… I was just looking at the shrine,” she apologised feeling a slight flush at her lapsed attention.

“What? Oh, yes, the shrine. It is a lovely building isn’t it. Until you get up close to the gargoyles at least,” Kerch said laughing as he glanced at the building. Then he turned and marched on back to where Kira waited. The Arbite was looking at Elyra with a look that seemed at one agitated and curious.

With a last look back at the shrine Elyra saw the gargoyles. Prominent appendages, which circled the small dome of the building. As she turned away though, that was when she saw him. Standing just outside the doors that led into the portico.

The man wore the robes of a pastor. Yet to her mind the baring of the man was too martial. His position in relation to the door. He looked more like the doorman than the priest welcoming his flock to the fold. And the alertness of his gaze as he watched her. Even as she hurried to catch up with Kira and Kerch she could feel his stare.

She decided that this too would be worth mentioning to the inquisitor upon her return.


Hail sat along the table from the Tech-priest, Janus Velon. The adept had not greeted him when he entered. Indeed he had given no indication that he was aware of Hail’s return. Such trivialities would not distract him from his own duties. Namely the monitoring of public news broadcasts and the personal vox intercepts of selected individuals.

Velon was a long-time servant of the Machine-Cult and by now his body was more augmetic than biological. Hail wondered how such a thing might alter one’s perspective on reality, of one’s-own-self, even. He imagined that in many ways it would heighten focus. The body and mind stripped of the biological and emotional requirements of human kind. An intellect in a box, free to pursue focused, impartial reasoning for many times the lifespan of an un-augmented person.

He smiled, thinking what his mentor would have made of such a view point. Master Galatae had been a strict, dogmatic and highly introspective teacher. Always he had maintained that the purpose of discipline was not the repression or suppression of fundamental aspects of humanity.

“Wherein lies the use of fully objective reason if you have not the humanity to appreciate the knowledge it provides?” he had once demanded when Hail had talked of emotional suppression as a means of enhancing focus.

“The point is simple. Discipline is not about suppression, or repression, of the human condition. It is about balancing that nature with the objectivity required to fulfil our duty to the service of the God-Emperor,” Galatae had continued. “After all, the Emperor loves his faithful subjects. Does he not? How then can we justify crushing their love for Him in the name of objectivity and reason?”

Such debates, held by an open hearth before bed, were little more than a comforting memory now. Though their import had lost none of their potency in the years since Hail had set out on his own Life Quest. It was the first duty of every Shadow Templar to set out into the galaxy in search of the destiny the God-Emperor willed for them at the moment of their birth.

Galatae’s had led him through a life of battle in the Imperial Guard. Until he was discharged of his duties. The scarred remains of the young man who had set out returned to the Shadow Temple on Firona then. There he took up the rank of master and took to raising the Temple's children in preparation for their own Quests.

Hail wondered if he too would one day return to the world of his birth, or if it would be his fate to find his destiny lay somewhere else. He refused to contemplate the notion that he could die without finding it. The God-Emperor divined a Destiny for every soul, no matter how lowly.

He sensed the motion behind him but did not turn as Inquisitor Gerro swept into the communal area. She did not acknowledge his presence. Her attention was directed towards Velon. The Tech-priest remained apparently oblivious as the billowing robe swooped down on him at his cogitor.

“Janus. I require a communication link with the Taya’s Purge,” she said. The Velon looked up briefly, the mask of augmetics that served as his face regarded the inquisitor without comment. And then he nodded and bent back to his cogitor.

Turning his gaze from Gerro Hail found Trant. The psyker slumped into a chair at his right hand. His distress was obvious, his skin paled, forehead beaded with sweat and his eyes rimmed with the effort of fighting back tears. Trant gave him only a cursory glance before shaking his head and massaging his temples with the heels of his palms.

Thorne stood by the door. If anything his condition looked graver than Trant’s. He was staring at his hands. Turning them over to look at both the backs and the palms. As if he were not sure they belonged to him anymore. His eyes flickered to Hail’s. To his mild curiosity Hail saw a pain there that looked to have shaken the very foundations of the man’s resolve.

Hail said nothing. It was his nature to observe. He rarely offered counsel that was unasked for. What wisdom he could offer, anyone could ask. But he would not preach to anyone. Dogmatic ranting was in his view more often counter productive. A person their true strength within themselves. It could not be given to them.

“Hail,” he turned to the Inquisitor.

“What actions are the Stipa undertaking to find Tania Forrel?”

“Events move quickly, ma’am. They appointed two Investigator-Marshals to administer the inquiry. They have already traced the Tania Forrel to the Arbites Courthouse,” Hail said, not for the first time he wondered what had motivated the girl to turn herself in. She must have known there would be little hope of redemption for her.

Inquisitor Gerro seemed to consider the news for a moment. Then the metallic-masculine voice of Janus Velon broke into the conversation. He said, “Twenty minutes ago an Investigator-Marshal Kaeros placed a call to the Lord Protector, Altair Xant. The call confirms our intelligence. The Lord Protector has ordered the immediate arrest of Ser Antonis and Dame Lucial Forrel on charges of harbouring a mutant.”

“They intend to sacrifice the Forrel family to save the greater conspiracy,” Hail said. Gerro’s cowl seemed to ripple before she spoke.

“Instruct Marshal Primus Ruis to secure the Forrel family for interrogation. If they are left to the Stipa they will be killed,” she said.

“Securing a senior member of the nobility will mean the Arbites will be unable to assist us in any assault against the Academy,” Hail said. The Silent Sisterhood could be relied upon to help them presuming the Black Ship Taya’s Purge could arrive in time but that was unlikely.

“We can’t let them escape!” Thorne shouted the words. “Not after what they’ve done!”

“Calm yourself,” Trant spoke with an effort, his voice hoarse. Apparently containing the anger and resentment of the former Guardsman had taken a good deal of effort. Nonetheless Thorne appeared subdued, though his body still quaked with the contained fury.

“The Order of Saint Valentina conducts military training,” Hail said. He had observed their drills, the doctrine was outmoded by any standard and their weapons mostly obsolete, but he sensed strength in their devotion that could count for much in the direst need.

“It is but part of their devotions,” Trant objected. “You can’t be seriously considering using them to take on the Stipa and the PDF?”

“The sacrifice of Heroes is blessed in the eyes of the God-Emperor. How much more so the sacrifice of the Humble?” Hail countered.
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Hey, sorry it's been a while, the busy-busy at work has been a drain. Anyhow hope you all enjoy this.

Section 5.

“We have a Warrant of Internment of Ser Antonis and Dame Lucial Forrel,” the Arbites Sergeant said. The Vigilator Fulk eyed the proffered dataslate with suspicion.

“I have not been notified,” he said as if that ended the matter. Behind him a second section of troops had moved up to reinforce the Guards around the gates of the Residences Quarter.

“The Adeptus Arbites are not bound by any law to advise planetary security of their investigative procedure. You will stand aside or be charged with impeding the process of Imperial Law,” Sergeant Fay said, his voice told of a grim determination and his faceless helm met the Stipa with an unwavering blank stare.

Behind the Vigilator the troops began to mutter, fingering their weapons nervously. Fulk glanced back, as though checking he was not alone and motioned the men to steady themselves. Fay’s Arbites stood stoically in two squads behind him, their Rhino transports idling as they waited for admittance.

“I have instruction that the Forrel Residence is under a Prohibitoris Order,” the vigilator began; Fay raised a hand to silence him.

“It is a matter of Imperial Law, Vigilator. Therefore my orders take precedence over the authority of the Stipatores. If you and your men do not stand aside willingly I will have to force your compliance,” Behind Fay both squads of Arbites fanned out. They faced the Stipa at point blank range. Outnumbered and outgunned.

Before either of the two leaders could speak one of the Stipa panicked. Shots rang across the square. A single weapon followed by a splutter of uncoordinated fire quickly building to fierce exchange. Blood flowed freely over the permacrete within moments.


“What will happen to the girl?” Thorne asked Trant.

They sat in Thorne’s enclosure. Thorne was sipping recaf though he wished it were something much more potent. Trant followed the pathways of the Guardsman’s thoughts with dismay.

“In all likelihood she will be destroyed, summarily once the Taya’s Purge arrives or upon her return to Terra,” he said. Thorne’s mind chewed his words over and he took another deep swallow of the stimulant.

“They don’t always destroy them though,” he said. Trant knew the argument already and raised both hands to forestall it.

“I am different,” he said.

“How?” Thorne spat word spat like an accusation.

“I was detected in my infancy,” Trant said, he did not allow emotion to register. Outside of the limiter-field he was in full control of his mind again.

“I don’t even remember my parents, or even which planet I was born on. Tania Forrel has been raised and schooled by Heretics. That she turned herself in, and at great cost to her mental stability is sadly a fact that will be overlooked. The potential for contamination is too great. I am sorry for her, truly I am.”

“Yeah and Horus was sorry too,” Thorne mumbled into his drink, his argument crushed. Trant ignored the blasphemy, the mind of the man had been shaken in the containment cells, so had his own if he cared to admit it.

“Thorne, we cannot save. But we can at least give justice to the courage she has shown. Focus upon that,” he said. Thorne looked up, angry words flooding his mind too fast for him to say them. But the truth could not be denied.

“Aye,” he said at length then raised his mug of recaf as if in toast.

“Justice for lost Innocence,” his tone still held sarcasm but beneath it Trant could feel the man’s resolve hardening once more. Shaken, but not broken by the madness they had witnessed.

The vox-set next to Thorne’s cot squawked.

“Mister Trant,” the metallic rasp of Janus Velon filled the space. “We have received word from the Adeptus Arbites. The situation is critical.”

It was Thorne who picked up the handset and acknowledged the signal. He listened for a moment, his eyes widening. Trant read the anger in his mind and he knew the words Velon had used. He also knew how poorly they relayed the bloodbath that had erupted as the Arbites forced their way into the Residences Quarter to secure the Lord and Lady Forrel.

“The bastards,” Thorne breathed replacing the handset in its receiver. “They killed Antonis Forrel. The Arbites have Lucial but she is in critical condition.”


The Sanctuary of Saint Valentina Rosa had become a hive of activity in her absence. As Elyra drove the ground car along the gravel road towards the parking garages she passed assemblages of sisters, gone were the sky blue surplices. Now the Sisters wore midnight blue battle dress uniforms and gleaming silver breastplates. They were armed with old sigis pattern lasguns, all battered metal casings and uncomfortable skeleton stocks.

They were arranged in light company formations of around one-hundred and fifty sisters-militant in each. There appeared to be five companies and a reserve detachment of barely a hundred. Elyra drank the scene in, she could see Mother Tarish walking the lines with a younger woman, perhaps in her early thirties, the woman wore the uniform of the sisters-militant only a small circlet of gold wreaths denoting her superior status.

She was shocked to see a man, walking with them. He wore segmented plate of carapace, coal black with silver trim. A silver Aquila adorned his breastplate and a helmet was hooked onto his belt. The helmet was smooth with only the single slit ocular to mark the face and a sweeping neck-guard on the back.

They walked three abreast though she noted that the male figure stood on Mother Tarish’s right. Elevated by position above the senior sister-militant who stood to Tarish’s left. It occurred to her that the man must be Hail, a young and handsome face with strong cheek and jawbones and an aquiline nose. His smooth skin was tanned beneath crew-short blond hair.

She slowed as she passed the trio, though only Hail seemed to notice or acknowledge her. He nodded in her direction to show his recognition. Then he turned his attention back to the sisters. Elyra spurred the ground car along and into the garage. Tech-servitors emerged from alcoves as she got out, performing diagnostics on the vehicle to ensure the health of its machine-spirit.

As she reached the entrance to the spire hosting Inquisitor Gerro and her retinue she found Hail and the sister-militant waiting for her. She smiled in greeting. Hail returned a half smile saying, “The Inquisitor requires an immediate debrief.”

“I’m fine, thanks for asking,” Elyra said striding past him. “I have everything I think we’ll need.”

“I hope so. Events are moving almost faster than we can keep pace. There has already been a shooting incident between the Stipa and the Arbites,” Hail said. Elyra’s head snapped round at his words.

“How long ago was that?” she asked.

“Approximately forty minutes. Inquisitor Gerro ordered the Arbites to arrest members of a noble family. The Stipa had been given the same order. One of the nobles is dead. The other is under intensive care at a private medicae facility,” Hail answered.

“Ours or theirs?”

“The Arbites have custody. In response the Stipa have initiated a security purge here in Dravos Primus and in two other hives, Ellesse and Hiinde,” Hail’s smooth voice betrayed little in the way of emotion but his manner told of a simmering wrath somewhere deep within.

“Are we preparing to make a strike against the governors?” Elyra asked as they mounted the spiralling staircase that would lead them up to their make-shift command centre.

“We will aid the Arbites in maintaining order as best we can. But our own investigation takes precedence. The Administratum here and on Dravos have alerted Phorinax of the situation. Though reinforcements may be slow to arrive,” Hail said.

“Anything else I should know?”

“Not at present. The Inquisitor requires your intelligence report before we can take further action,” they fell into silence now as they reached the level the sisterhood had given over to Gerro and her entourage.

As she entered she noticed that the entire retinue was present. Thorne was wearing a breastplate and a helmet sat on the table before him. Trant she was surprised to see wore armour too, breastplate, greaves and a helm cradled under his arm, a lass pistol and an ornate staff tipped at one end with an Aquila and ending in a straight double-edged blade at the other.

But it was the Inquisitor herself who took her breath away. Her face was a mask of augmetics designed in a skull fashion, her upper body was a patchwork, a single fully augmetic arm one her left, the right augmetic only from the elbow. Her right leg was also not her own. As yet she had not donned her armour but it was clear that she would be doing so. The Tech-priest remained hunched over his cogitor attentive only to his ministrations.

“Corporal Elyra,” Gerro said. Her voice seemed alien somehow to the body that issued it. Trace femininity in its tone the only aspect that remained of her gender at all. “I must have your report immediately.”
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-08-10, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you very much to those of you reading this. Here is the latest instalment, enjoy.

Section 6.

“Chariot Two-Gamma has been breached. Two Alpha and Beta are sustaining effective enemy fire. Four-Delta and Five-Alpha and Gamma have suffered mechanical failure,” Sister Fiera announced to the crew compartment.

Hail acknowledged this latest update on their advance with a short nod. Since emerging into the open park that surrounded the entrance level of the Primus Academy the Order’s first and second companies had taken heavy fire from the defence towers. To assault the small vehicle’s entrance on the west perimeter wall Corporal Vaughn had reported they must cross a thousand meters of exposed terrain.

From her description the mounted weapons in the tower could fire at up to two-thousand meters range. The assault had almost faltered at the first hurdle. Untested in battle the drivers of their outmoded half-tracks had panicked when the medium calibre emplacements opened up. To their credit they pressed through the concentrated fire.

Elyra’s report had not been wrong. The Stipatores were a well drilled military organisation. Structurally weak so she predicted, but for the Order of Saint Rosa to exploit this weakness they would have to take the fight right to the enemy. Hail had faith in the Sisters’ devotion to the task, but their competence was yet to be gauged.

“Distance?” he asked through his personal vox.

“Four hundred meters, sir,” a sister answered from the crew compartment.

“Trant, Sister Avriel, we will deploy all capable units at one-hundred and fifty meters. Those who cannot deploy are to regroup and provide suppressing fire against the towers. Understood?” he said switching bands to the command overlay.

“Understood,” Avriel’s melodic tones were clipped by distortion.

“The enemy’s surprise is giving way to resolve in the face of our casualties. At this point a decisive blow could still break them,” Trant said.

“Understood,” Hail said closing the channel.

It was just a few short minutes later that eighteen of the original twenty-eight Chariot pattern half-tracks sloughed to a halt before double gates of panelled durasteel alloy. As the doors of the troop compartment swung open Hail made the sign of the Aquila across his chest and hailed the God-Emperor for this chance to further His cause.

Outside on the permacrete the rattle of autogun fire and the solid thunk-thunk-thunk of the Chariots’ pintle mounted AGL’s. The Sisters of the Order formed up well though the moment they had emerged into the open the weapons towers had re-tasked their aim. Hail led his section from the front, drawing a single-edged power-sword and bolt pistol as he began the short sprint for the entranceway.

Through the enhancing optic lens of his helmet he could see where the AGL’s had begun to chip away the ferrocrete walls into which the gates had been built. The panelled durasteel was chipped and scorched from detonations but there was insufficient damage to constitute a breach. Hail smiled though no-one could have seen it, the accuracy of the blast marks was reassuring.

Those sections that had not been able to deploy due to damaged vehicles were taking up firing positions. Using light support weapons, heavy stubbers, light mortars and grenade launchers to engage the weapons towers. Their effectiveness was diminished by range but the enemy fire against the advance began to loose its efficacy.

On Hail’s left he could see Trant and Sister Avriel leading the second company’s charge. The psyker had never been made for the battlefield but Hail understood the prudence of attaching him to this assault. He looked out of place in heavy carapace and helmet, a laspistol in his hands though Hail new his accuracy was poor. He had borne up well though, accepting his duty with stoic determination not to fail the Inquisitor.

Sister Fiera ran alongside him, listening attentively to her vox-pack, a large and ungainly device that was almost certainly going to attract the enemy’s eye. None the less her angular, scarred face showed nothing but her focus. Hail could see the fervour in all the Sisters’, they wanted this battle he realised.

The Order had originally been a military organisation, officially founded after the Horus Heresy. Saint Valentina herself had led the first sisters when the forces of the Great Betrayer had invaded the forge world of Oscillion in this very sector. Though she was not canonized until many centuries after Horus’ defeat.

It seemed the Order had not forgotten its heritage even if much of the Imperium regarded it as little more than a myth. Today they wanted to do honour to that history and to the God-Emperor. Hail felt his spirit rise with theirs, his heart quickening and his choler rising but his focus remained.

Though they paid heavily the assault force made it into the shadow of the wall. Quickly the sisters set to with demolition charges requisitioned from an industrial manufactorum in the mid-hive levels. The gunners in the towers abandoned their mounted guns in favour of small arms.

They had the advantage of the exchange from an elevated position. Hail knew that the charges must be primed quickly before the enemy routed them. Avriel co-ordinated fire-teams in an effort to suppress the enemy meeting some success. Until the enemy began dropping grenades, standing back in cover so as not to present a target.

“They are weakening with desperation,” Trant shouted over the snap of exchanging lasfire and the crump of detonated explosives.

“We need access now!” Hail shouted at a sub-commander who was leading the demolitions teams.

“A few moments sir. The Chariots have not quite struck deep enough,” she replied panting with effort, her face pinched with stress.

“Hurry!” he shouted back. Then he rounded on Trant, “What can you sense beyond the gate?”

Trant closed his eyes as he reached out with his mind, the effort visible. Hail waited, he felt a chill in the air as the psyker went to work. In spite of the heat in his armour it was an uncomfortable feeling. After a moment the other man’s eyes opened again, concern etching itself on his already lined face.

“They are concentrating their defence around the shrine. There is fear and desperation setting in that we have not withdrawn,” the psyker said.

A hand slapped Hail’s shoulder and he turned coming face to face with the sub-commander. “We’re ready,” she shouted.

“All sections fall back on me,” Hail ordered over the vox.

By sections they withdrew covering their own withdrawal. The units that had covered the charge were beginning to advance to them now in anticipation of the breach. The tower gunners moved back to their mounted weapons firing into the mass of Hail’s heavily punished force. At fifty meters he ordered them sisters to go prone and instructed the sub-commander to detonate the charges.

The ferrocrete crumbled under the intense force of the blast. Durasteel panels bent and twisted in the heat and were flung inwards. Hail silently praised the demolitions section for their precision. Any enemy troops immediately behind the gate will have suffered heavily under the barrage of shrapnel. The towers either side of the gate fell silent and crumbled outwards, their outer supports sown with explosives as well. It had been a punishing ordeal for the sisters, but now the way was open.

Hail rose to his feet, around him, buoyed by the effectiveness of the blast the sisters rose as well. At a full charge they advanced into the breach, to death or glory in the name of their God-Emperor.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-14-10, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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Hey again hope you're enjoying the action, here's the latest piece back from re-draft.

Section 7.

Thorne followed on Gerro’s heels as best he could but the Inquisitor’s pace was utterly unrelenting. She strode beneath the portcullis of the Fortress Courthouse, a resplendent embodiment of the Emperor’s will. Her glossy red and gold armour shimmered in the light of las and solid round discharge and danced under the light of burning fires.

Around them the platoon strength of sisters militant had formed a small shield wall the rest coming up on their flanks and following with a rearguard. Chariot half-tracks trundled along in their midst, as yet only five of the vehicles had been destroyed or rendered useless. The cordon had broken beneath the Inquisitor’s resolve.

He remembered the exchange very clearly.

The Watch-Commander had approached them with two escorts. Gerro had met them halfway insisting that Thorne waited with the sisters assigned as her command squad. He had watched as the four had met, standing some twenty meters apart.

“Desist in the name of the God-Emperor of all Mankind. I order you to unbar my path,” she had said raising a hand to her breast drawing the officer's attention to the Inquisitorial Rosette hanging from her neck.

The Watch-Commander did not speak, he recoiled turning to run. His escorts moved to raise their weapons, as did the men on the cordon’s perimeter. A shock of tension pulsed through the Inquisitor’s squad. They raced against time to bring their own armaments to bear.

The tension broke as the Inquisitor launched her attack. In blinding display of finesse her right arm shot out, fingers extended. One of her would be killers fell his throat torn open. Her left hand moved to her waist drawing a power mace up in an arc. The second soldier was lifted off his feet, his body spinning and twitching even after it landed a spare couple of meters distant. The crack of discharging power echoed from high-rise structures lining the boulevard.

Within moments carnage had been unleashed. Sisters poured from their transports. AGL’s and small arms fire rent the air with a symphony of battle. The casualties at such range were horrific. The flak armoured Stipa had superior numbers and the benefit of prepared positions.

The sisters’ equipment was certainly older but their carapace armour pieces had been well maintained. They bore down well under the punishment they received, crowded as they were around the bullet-magnets of their Chariots. Thorne raced forward towards the Inquisitor’s position. She had pressed her assault, bringing the Watch-Commander down with a vicious downward stroke that shattered the man’s skull and spine with the weight and discharge.

Together with squads of sisters in tow they charged the cordon. Las and slugs whined around them and clattered against the Inquisitor’s armour. Gerro did not even slow, her augmetics granting her endurance beyond the limit of mere flesh and bone. She vaulted a sandbag emplacement and laid to the enemies left and right of her.

The section broke in the moments it took Thorne to catch up. The Inquisitor swept on drawing a bolt pistol to supplement her mace. Thorne snatched up a fallen lasgun and some spare cells, if she kept up her pace he would quickly lose her, the range would be useful then.

“With me Sisters and we shall restore His light to this benighted world and cut the cancer from its heart,” she had said, her vocaliser amplifying her voice to a volume that blocked out Thorne’s own mind. The words had fired the Order’s troops into a vengeful frenzy.

They had cut into the Stipa lines with a terrifying ease. They passed two ammunition convoys pausing only briefly to decimate them before continuing their advance. Taken by surprise the Stipa struggled to respond, this together with the unrelenting savagery of the Inquisitor and the Order of Saint Valentina allowed the company to make an easy advance.

As they came within sight of the Arbites fortress they came upon a company of armour. They were in lager waiting deployment for an assault on the walls. The fighting had been vicious there.

Thorne ran at a crouch his lasgun spitting fire into the enemy crews running for their tanks. F90 light support tanks common to PDF and Imperial Armoured brigades across the sector. They were equipped with a small calibre cannon and a pintle mounted storm bolter they were designed for light infantry support and armoured scouting.

He had watched in amazement as a sister had climbed onto the hull of one of the F90’s and engaged the gunner with only a bayonet in hand. After killing the man with a single vicious blow that opened his throat she dropped into the crew compartment. Thorne had stared a moment, then the tank lit up from the inside. The explosion reducing the sister and the crew to ash and residue amid the rubble of the blown out vehicle

The suicidal fanaticism of the sisters was breathtaking. Sheer determination drove them into charges of insurmountable odds. The cost of such bloodletting could only be justified by the results. With the Inquisitor in the front of their charge the battle-sisters of the Order pressed right through to the Arbite Courthouse in less than fifty minutes.

Reaching the front of the siege line they were greeted by an enemy in withdrawal. Units regrouping after the latest advance on the walls wandered into their line of fire. With callous disregard the sisters set to the enemy, firing from their own lines upon the weary and the wounded alike. Inquisitor Gerro joined the slaughter hanging back with her blot pistol barking death at the enemy.

They found Marshal Primus Ruis in the yard at the front of the Courthouse. His appearance told them that he had seen his share of action today. His left arm was in a sling and he was bleeding from a wound above his right temple. Thorne noted the look of suspicious curiosity on his face as he took in the form of the Inquisitor.

“Marshal Primus,” Gerro greeted him with a curt nod, which he returned.

“Lady Inquisitor. I regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you any further assistance, since we are currently under siege,” Ruis’ tone voiced an accusation his words had not.

“Events are moving at an unprecedented pace,” Gerro said. “Nonetheless I require a prisoner transport vehicle with reinforced armour and a limiter collar.”

Marshal Primus Ruis stared in open hostility, Thorne’s hands tightened on the lasgun he held. But the Marshal merely shook his head and turned barking orders to a pair of Arbites. They were walking wounded but they would be enough to drive the vehicle they required. As they left Inquisitor Gerro turned to Thorne.

“Take a section from our command and retrieve Tania Forrel. Ensure that the limiter collar is fully functional before entering the containment area,” she said.

“Yes ma’am,” Thorne said.

“Sister Liscera. Take your detachment and report to the Marshal Primus for assignment. I have no intention of allowing the loyal Adeptus Arbites to go unsupported in this crisis,” Gerro said her vocaliser raising her voice again so that Ruis would be sure to hear. Thorne selected a squad commanded by a Sister Apheray and led them into the Courthouse proper.


“Lady, we have Colonel Lorae on the vox, he demands to know our authority and clearance,” Sister Melial said looking up from the starport’s flight control vox.

Elyra smiled, still unaccustomed to the title the sisters used to address senior officers. She was only a corporal and had certainly never been considered a lady. She did not take the vox horn instead she handed over a datarod.

“Play him this,” she said. In truth she would have liked to have spoken to Lorae herself, her first posting had been with the Elysian 92nd. But her cover demanded her discretion.

She listened to the message pre-recorded by Inquisitor Gerro, “Colonel Andar Lorae. Under the authority vested in me by the Holy Orders of the Emperor’s Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus. I hereby requisition from your regiment a minimum of one full combat company formation of three-hundred and ninety-five personnel, more if they are available. Failure to comply will result in Inquisitorial Sanction against your regiment. The troops are to be flown into Primus Starport by no later than 15:30 hour’s local standard time. I transmit with this message my authorisation commandline and dataseal.”

“Wonder what he made of that,” Elyra wondered.

“He knows it’s a recording. He wants to speak to someone in charge,” Melial said.

“Sister Venaxes, please see to the colonel’s needs,” Elyra said turning away and moving to the stations normally operated by the ground control directors.

“How are you doing clearing that landing field for us?” she asked.

Sister Alderick broke off an angry message to the team out on the field to answer her, “Slowly, but we will have the field cleared before the Elysian troops arrive.”

“Very well, see that you do,” she said, the last thing she needed was to have the valkyries in a holding pattern for too long. The Stipa had enough anti-air capability to deal with them if they got the chance.

For a few moments she simply watched, idly fingering the bull-nosed carbine she had taken from the armoury of the sisterhood. A weapon favoured by their assault squads. When the Stipa decided to contest for control of the starport and penetrated as far as the control room its short body may prove an advantage. She hoped it would not come to that, having served her first posting under Lorae in the 92nd she had seen frontline combat it was an experience she tried often to forget.
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