This is a bit of an off shoot from the story, "Unguarded Minds", it's set in the same sector at around the same time and the events are related.
The characters and plot though are different new. Any and all feed back is appreciated, criticism of the constructive kind especially welcome.
Please do enjoy.
Phorinax, Xionis Sector Capital World.
The Citadel Administratum, Hive Sorrina.
Magos Administratum Bertan Mellero was a man of taste. His private chambers were exquisitely furnished with fine couches of Gorlan Leather imported from Celephra, decorated in Sanctity style with whorled Vertande obsidian and marble columns and walls covered with bass-relief images. His workspace however was his pride and joy. An ensconcing cogitor-array with neural, terminal and vocal interfaces; multi-stacked data-registries and cognitive-banks. Crafter by the artificers of Forge World Oscillion.
It was his pride and joy. In his position as the senior Administratum official in the sector, his workload was never less than taxing. The cogitor-array allowed him to discharge most of his duties from his own chambers, it was an appreciated reward. Especially in troubled times such as those he faced now.
The Xionis sector was in a state of radical upheaval. Each day seemed to bring another crisis and to Mellero it seemed that the Order of the Imperium was losing its grip. Rebellions, xenos invasions, famine and catastrophe were rife within the sector. Latest and most damning of all was the Exterminatus of a Shrineworld, the outcry from the Ecclesiarchy was still causing problems.
And not least of all for the Administratum who were caught in the middle of a political rift between the Orthodox Religion of the Imperium and the Inquisition designed to protect it. It was a situation of inescapable frustration. He was powerless to reprimand the Inquisition and the Ecclesiarchy itself were simply too dogmatic to be reasoned with.
The worst part of it all though was the Xionis’ Lord Regent. Marsus Astarath was a man whose ego was bloated with the power of his position. In his vanity he surrounded himself with sycophantic imbeciles and yes-men. A fact that had blinded him, dulled his instinct for effective leadership and caused his negligence in dealing with these crises.
It helped not a bit that the Senatorium Imperialis had granted the Xionis Lord Regent semi-autonomic status to govern internal affairs within the Xionis sector. At the time, Mellero reflected, the arrangement had been Emperor-Sent as a blessing. Only now, when the internal crises outweighed the external threats did it prove itself to be a curse. One that he fully intended to rectify.
A chime from the array alerted him to a return on his security auspex. Using the neural interface he confirmed the return and activated the biometric reader. With a command on the touch-sensitive terminal interface he activated a monitor viewing live pict-feed from the passage outside his chambers. The monitor showed a man in dark robes approaching the gun-servitors stationed to guard his sanctum.
A neural return from the biometric scanner identified the intruder. Mellero smiled disarming the servitors as Magos Venartes entered their weapons range. He followed the progress of the magos opening one door at a time ahead of him. It was something he liked to do. Venartes would understand precisely what was implied. That Mellero was watching, and that he alone decided what progress the magos could make.
As the door to Mellero’s private office opened Venartes bowed, the chrome cap of his skull catching in the light of lumen-strips along the walls of the office. Mellero reclined in his throne-like chair and waved the magos to a soft armchair before him. The magos obliged, like a phantom he moved to the chair and sat his robes spilling over the arms completely obscuring the shape of the body contained within.
“You summoned me Magos Administratum,” Venartes said, his voice was little more than a rasp, adding to the eerie presence of them man. He regarded Mellero with platinum-grey eyes devoid of all life or humanity.
“Indeed. There is a matter I wish to discuss with you,” Mellero said.
“The Executive Securitas Administratum is ever at your command,” the magos answered. Mellero smiled, a gesture that Venartes seemed utterly incapable of, his face was stone-like in its range of expression and pale as death itself.
“I trust that you are fully aware of the current state of affairs within our sector?” Venartes merely inclined his head and Mellero was reminded how uneasy the Magos Securitas made him feel, his apparent lack of emotional capacity was difficult to face.
“The Adeptus Terra is appointing a Judge Advocate to inspect our response to the mounting crises within the sector. Their representative is due to arrive in three months,” Mellero said.
“I was made aware of this, Magos Administratum,” Venartes breathed.
“I see. Well, I intend to be able to prove that we should be reinstated as the sole governing body in this sector. This farcical semi-autonomous regency has gone on long enough. That is the reason I have need of you,” Mellero couldn’t keep a solicitous tone from creeping into his voice. Magos Venartes, however, was utterly unmoved.
“I am, as I have said, yours to command,” Venartes said.
“Yes, yes. The matter is of course strictly confidential. No one but you and I are to know of the proposed plan of action. Understood?”
“Perfectly, Magos Administratum.”
Venartes for his part found Mellero to be insufferably pompous. A man who liked to pretend to sophistication and intelligence while at the heart of it remaining little more than a signatory official. He liked to see his name on things and then claim the credit for the work others did under the authority of that name.
Zaro Venartes was utterly unlike the Magos Administratum, who had been born to a wealthy family and spoilt with the finest of everything that money and status could provide. Venartes had been raised in the Merican sub-hives on Terra by poor parents. He had strove and fought his way from those destitute pits of despair to the hive proper.
There he had become an officer for a private security conglomerate. Only years later had he been recruited by the Securitas Imperialis Administratum. From a lowly position as a field operative he had worked his way up.
Over a lifetime extended by juvenant treatments he had encountered most every kind of person the Imperium had to offer. Lords and ladies, tramps and thieves, the pious and the sinners alike. He had a razor-sharp mind and an acute ability to read and understand others. Such things were prerequisite in the industry of subterfuge, espionage and assassination.
In the twenty years he had served as Magos Securitas under Mellero he had come to understand the Magos Administratum very well indeed. A petty schemer with acute vanity and prone to delusions of grandeur. Yet nonetheless he was a man to whom Venartes and many better men must bow. That was the order of things.
“What would you have me do?” he asked.
Mellero smiled in a conspiratorial manner, “How easy do you suppose it would be to remove the Lord Regent?”
“With direct force, given the forces at your disposal, it would require decades of protracted combat. Marsus Astarath is a man of standing among the sector nobility,” Venartes said after a brief pause as he accessed the Administratum data-reservoir through an archaeotech neuro-vox implanted in his brain.
“Indeed, what about using a much more subtle method?” Mellero asked.
“A Securitas operative would be equal to the task, however there is still a significant chance of backlash, if the mission were to fail,” Venartes said. “The planetary and sub-sector governors would likely suspect our involvement. Given the current standing between yourself and the Lord Regent.”
“Dravos, yes,” Mellero said with a sigh. “I am open to any suggestions.”
“I will, with your permission, take the matter in hand personally,” Venartes suggested. Mellero considered it a moment, then nodded as though to himself.
“Yes, of course. It is, after all, your field of expertise. I am not so practiced in such matters as yourself,” Mellero said. Venartes inclined his head respectfully. It was the closest he had every heard to a completely honest statement from the Magos Administratum.
“By your leave,” Venartes rose, if he were seriously to turn this monumentally incompetent idea into a workable plan that fit with the timescale available to them he would need every moment.
“Oh, yes, of course. You will keep me informed though won’t you Magos?” Mellero said.
“Good, good. You are dismissed then,” Mellero was smiling as the Magos Securitas exited his chambers. The smile did not leave his face for some time as he turned his mind back to the many other matters that demanded his attention.