The Hunted (2)
Second time around after some tweaking. I hope you enjoy the first part?
* * *
There is nothing like hunting a man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter..
* * *
Morthen Stroms... Leader and Arch-Veneficus
Deaglán Ó Báire... Bodyguard to Stroms
Mubarak Salih... Bodyguard to Stroms
Juliana Zadian... Head of Security/ Pilot
Garxan Mansmay... Ex-Mechanicum
Eadfrid... Ex-Mechanicum - Pilot
Sergeant Garcha... Mercenary
Bien Hoc... Unsanctioned Pysker
Fidèle Bouchaud... Apothecary
Marcellus Lucretius Auxientius... Head of Intelligence
Ezel Uzan... Navigator, House of Rollant
Shala Ia... Captain of The Alabama
Brother Ohlsson... Astral Claws Chapter (Excommunicate Traitoris)
Brother Rothach... Relictors Chapter (Excommunicate Traitoris)
* * *
Ferrand de san Martinez... Lord Inquisitor - Ordo Hereticus
Arch-Magos Flavius Cutov... Adeptus Mechanicus
Huan Hsue... Captain of The Wrath of the Emperor
Ingfred Wolf... Interrogator – Ordo Hereticus
Felícia Cortes... Scribe
Auxilium Quartinus... 2ic The Wrath of the Emperor
Vanzina Galina Makarovna... Sanctioned psyker
Lucas Grevenslag... Intelligence expert
Khafs-nofru... Interrogator (Ordo Hereticus) and pilot
Ruben Lawry... Cardinal of the Ecclesiarchy
Dieter Gustloff... Captain Inquisitorial Stormtroopers
Arruntia... Calculus Logi
Brother Zoran Berezovsky... Techmarine, The Crimson Sabres (Excommunicate Traitoris)
Palatine Talanova Alisa Stepanovna... Order of the Silver Sword
Nunciate Advance Casandra Balakhnova... Order of the Silver Sword
Anastasija Lacitis... Captain of the Black Ship, Anima Nobiscum
* * *
The Wrath of the Emperor
THE AVENGER CLASS Grand Cruiser broke into real space like a hammer blow on the anvil of the old gods.
Its huge triangular prow crackled with massive energy waves and multiple explosions, driving back the dark and filling the area around it with brilliant light and unimaginable pyrotechnics.
The ship was only a quarter of its length out of the warp before a spray of tiny fighters fanned out before it, skipping and darting in all directions like children eager to please their mother and protector.
Before the hull had even started to cool, huge guns, weapons points, multi-lasers and bombards began swivelling in their mounts as auspexes searched desperately for any sign that an enemy might be lying in wait for just this opportune moment. Blast doors were lowered and the decks were cleared for action.
Almsmen and other combat-ready troops moved into pre-assigned positions and broke open munitions packs and readied close-quarter weapons, primed to repel boarders or protect vital points and machinery.
Within seconds the full measure of the beast was beheld as The Wrath of the Emperor broke free of the warp and translated into the today. Chronometers and onboard computers immediately calculated Imperial time (adjusted) and all working systems were updated in the time it took to blink.
Five seconds later, another vessel exploded into being beside the massive planet destroyer, and took up position as escort to the Flagship.
Though only two kilometres in length, The Firestorm-class Frigate The Sword of Tizona, bore all the marks and scars of a seasoned veteran. Blooded during The Third War for Armageddon and credited with numerous ship kills, this hunter wore its honours with pride, flouting Imperial Navy protocols, by proudly showing every lance strike, hard round and blast mark it had received.
The third vessel arrived almost at a silent glide, with none of the fanfare and pageantry of the other two ships. It was a Dauntless-class light cruiser for sure, its shape and configuration was well-known. It was however devoid of all the spikes, towers and paraphernalia commonly found along the hulls of regular Imperial Navy ships. This was sleeker, more aerodynamic, more a dagger than a blunt axe. It was also the darkest of black in colour, a deep matt impervious to light.
As it moved into position to the rear of The Wrath of the Emperor, a distant star was reflected off an emblem on its prow, a solid silver Fleur-de-Lys, the standard iconography of The Adepta Sororitas, foot soldiers of The Ecclesiarchy and scourge of the heretic. The Black Ship Anima Nobiscum heralded death and pain to the weak of mind and rotten of heart.
It was the figure in the shadows, the hidden terror that stalked the dreams of the enemies of the Emperor.
Ahead of them lay the vast, dirty brown and yellow cloud of the Uthiea Nebula stretching a staggering ten thousand light years from Galactic north to galactic south. It was an impressive sight, even for a seasoned space traveller. One might even say breathtaking, if one had the time to look up from the auspexes and data banks spread out in front of them. The hundred and forty thousand or so crew that manned The Wrath of the Emperor did not have that luxury. Their revered guest did not consider sightseeing as a worthy, or efficient use of anyone’s time. Any infractions or lack of discipline would result in swift sanction.
+ INITIALISING +
“Oh Great Machine God, I implore thee to cast your benevolent gaze upon our systems, the Divine Right. Let your burning power seethe through its circuits. Let your undying wards lay upon its matrix and circuitry. Let your supreme intellect watch over this operation and assist me in my never-ending search for knowledge.”
+ LOADING SEARCH PARAMETERS +
+ LOADING +
+ INITIATING LORD MARTINEZ PROTOCOLS... VERMILION LEVEL +
+ LOADING +
+ SEARCHING +
+ ADD SYSTEM WIDE +
+ LOADING +
“The Emperor Protects.”
+ PRAXIS GATANIA SUBROUTINE IMPERIAL COMMANDER +
+ ACCESS DENIED +
Hunt the heretic, cleanse the unclean
+ ARBITES MAINFRAME +
+ ACCESS GRANTED +
+ PLANETARY DEFENCE FORCE SUBROUTINE +
+ LIMITED ACCESS +
Patience, He that has patience can have the will
+ ADEPTUS ADMINISTRATUM - ACCESS GRANTED +
+ ERROR - FIREWALL INITIATED +
+ ACCESS LIMITED +
+ MARTINEZ ACCESS OVERRIDE +
+ ACCESS GRANTED +
Patience is a gift to the truly anointed
+ Arch-Magos. This is station 31/20. Long range Auspex has detected ships approaching. We are being scanned +
+ PROXIMITY ALERT +
+ AUSPEX SCAN +
+ INCOMING VESSELS CONFIRMED +
+ Two thousand Kilometres and closing +
+ Where are our fighters? +
+ Recalled and secure by order of His Lord +
+ Lower shields. Send out Standard Imperial Greeting +
+ Unknown vessels. This is The Admiral Swinton of the Praxis Gatania Outer-Rim Flotilla. Heave to, lower your colours and prepare to be boarded +
+ ACCESSING NAVAL DATABASE +
+ Greetings Captain Zorich. We are unregistered vessels on Imperium business. Sending our clearance now +
+ Unknown vessels. You will immediately cease your scans and Heave to. This is not, I repeat NOT a request. You will comply or face ultimate sanction +
+ I am sending you our clearance now Captain +
+ TRANSMITTING +
+ Instructions received. Thank you for your co-operation. If there is anything we can assist you with, do not hesitate to ask. The Emperor Protects +
Indeed he does
+ You will remain in contact and await further instructions Captain Zorich +
+ ALL SYSTEMS SEARCHED - STANDBY +
+ 13 OF 14 PARAMETERS FOUND +
+ AWAITING INSTRUCTIONS +
Knowledge is power
ARCH-MAGOS FLAVIUS Cutov noted the position of the Flotilla and then checked their position with readings he had already inputted.
There was a pattern here which they had not anticipated.
He flicked a long tendril that had snaked out from within the folds of his robes, and brought up a blitz of intricate lines, spirals, shapes and machine code which seemed to float in the air before him.
There were literally hundreds of ships in this system alone and from their designation markers, a great many of them were military.
With quick flicks of his only human hand, he cast off erroneous information and lesser input and with his other, extensively modified bionic limb, he pulled in items that were of interest or items he could store away for further use.
+ INPUTTING THE ADMIRAL SWINTON TRANSMISSION LOGS +
Very interesting. He will not be happy
A small comment on a Administratum file drew his attention.
+ EXPAND +
+ Post 4AA/9L- Transit: Ucscurn trading vessel seeking permission to pass through the rings of
Otravis Secunda. Fears of Reaver activity in area + + Draianus - Rophus Inbound Tripartite fuga salutem: Permission Granted + + QUERY; UCSCURN, Eislorix SYSTEM, ULTIMA SEGMENTUM +
+ VESSEL NOT LISTED ON IMPERIAL MANIFESTS +
+ ACCESS RECORDS ON ABOVE PARAMETERS +
+ NO RECORDS FOUND +
The Arch-Magos stepped back from the hololithic display.
No records found?
The vessel was unknown, that is, it was not listed on any database that was used locally.
No records found?
If the Arch-Magos had facial muscles, he would have probably frowned. But as his face consisted of an oval diamond covered in a thousand compound eyes, this was quite impossible and anyway it was an inefficient use of his time.
He allowed himself a scratch of machine code instead.
Unknown vessels like this were not uncommon. The vast Imperial machine was sometimes fallible and there were anomalies that let things slip through, but with all the other information he was receiving, a form was growing before him.
Without notice, he suddenly detected a rise in blood adrenaline levels in the frontal lobe of his brain; this immediately caused a rush of pleasure throughout his body giving him a feeling of lightheadedness and well-being. The Arch-Magos, in a previous lifetime would have called the word...excitement.
Note: Check Frontal lobe functions for signs of decay or possible infection
His pneumatic legs raised him up to his full height and twisting at the hip, he moved away from his station and made his way to the Sanctum exitway.
+ Lord Martinez. This is Arch-Magos Flavius Cutov. Are you awake? +
There was a pause, no more than two seconds, before a gruff, deeply-accented voice returned.
+ I have only slept one hour in the last twenty-four so technically I am still asleep +
Cutov absorbed the remark and passed it through his behavioral dampers.
Why do these mortals insist on using the wasted method of communication called sarcasm
+ My Lord, I have a 13 out of 14 template result for you +
The message was blunt and without any emotion. The information he had collated appeared to be of the utmost importance to the Master of this fleet.
+ You asked me to inform you if any of my findings were verified. Everything leads me to the conclusion… +
The Arch-Magos heard what he thought to be a spluttered cough, followed by items being dropped or knocked over.
+ Cutov, a 13 of 14 is very rare, are you sure? +
The Arch-Magos momentarily halted and considered the question. He was absolutely certain that he had checked all the systems… several times. The information he had gained was correct. The margin for error was within acceptable parameters .
+ I have run a quick diagnostic my Lord; my systems are functioning at 99.97 per cent. I am almost certain that the information is correct +
There was a longer pause this time and then a deep baritone burst of laughter.
+ Almost 99.97% certain + Came the reply + From a an Adept of the Mechanicum, that is not very reliable +
Cutov ran the sentence through his behavioral systems again and realised that Lord Martinez was being… sarcastic… again. He would however, run another diagnostic if Martinez required further confirmation of his findings.
+ My Lord, I will shut down and purge my systems and I will essay again +
This time the reply was quick and without humour.
+ No, no, for the Emperor’s sake Cutov, do not purge yourself, I am more than happy with the result. Meet me in the Stratagem most expeditiously +
* * *
“The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend”
~Aristoti, ancient Terran Philosopher
HE WAS AN OUTCAST.
For years too innumerable to count, he had traveled the stars, always moving, always hiding, always looking behind.
For he was being hunted.
He had seen his brothers and sisters burn; he had seen them flayed, he had seen them die in the most barbaric ways imaginable. Once, he had even watched one of his brothers being crucified in front of a baying mob while soldiers jeered and took bets on how long it would take him to die.
The outcast could only look on and do nothing, for to reveal himself would mean instant betrayal and death.
What were their crimes in the eyes of their compatriots?
They were different, to some an aberration.. devils, witches.. unnatural.
Man is an ugly creature.
An academic once said that Humanity was only a few meals away from his barbarian roots. If normal life is disrupted and hardship steps in. Despite thousands of years of civilisation, enlightenment, glory and advances, we would revert to base creatures in an instant.
It is a wonder that our race has survived for so long.
So if a person is different, or perceived as different; our civilised brains will always always fall back to the little brain in its head, the cerebellum, he ancient core of our brain we used when we first crawled out of the primeval swamps and began to climb trees.
When one cannot explain something logically, his base instincts take over and something that is not the norm, something that does not fit the time or place is dealt with through ignorance and fear.
Death usually follows.
Morthen Stroms had been hunted down through the Millennia by men on horses, or with dogs and other wild beasts. He had been chased across land, sea and air and out into the stars and beyond and he had always managed to stay one step ahead, one breath away from discovery or capture.
They had formed Special units or groups to find him and his kin and wipe out their existence.
Groups like The Inquisition.
He had seen off the Fraternities and the Dominicans, The Innocent Pope and later Torquemada, the high-and-mighty. He had survived the Narsay extermination camps and escaped the Corporation War purges. He had fought the Thunder warriors, evaded the assassins, he had survived them all, and all of them had failed to judge him.
And still he faced them, here in the time of The Emperor of Mankind, ruler of a billion planets.
But now things had changed.
The latest batch of psychopathic zealots put the ancients and their methods to shame. These so-called brave and loyal servants of the Emperor make the Spaniards and the Narsay’s look like small children at play.
Perhaps his days were now numbered?
But the passion within him still burned brightly and his infinite strength still shone through. He was not ready to give up yet, not after so long. He believed that he still lived for a purpose, and although their numbers had dwindled, he knew that he still had brothers and sisters out there amongst the stars.
One day, he knew that they would all meet again. One day they would sit at the feet of their father and a new dawn of enlightenment will begin and Mankind’s true future will be revealed.
Until that time he would keep running and hiding, and he would agitate, harass and bring enlightenment to the subjugated and the oppressed, and he would bring a glimmer of light and hope to small corners of this dark Imperium.
It was, after all, his destiny…
* * *
Better than I remembered it being, Brother Edmund, the changes you made are noticeable and in a good way. I am interested in the continuation of this tale, if you are willing to tell it :).
GORD HIVE WAS burning. Osery Hive was overrun.
For six days battles had raged through the streets, subways, levels and habs. Entire suburbs were shrouded in smoke and violence. In Gord, the magnificent Sicuro Di Fulvio shopping District, famous for its boutiques and exotic eateries, the thousand-year old Metro station and the cathedral to the Blessed Saint Flekie (may he never falter), were now in the hands of the mob.
The District seven Arbites Precinct house was a smouldering ruin and the Starport on Siarut Heights was close to being overrun. All but two of Gords needle spires, which dominated the landscape for miles around, were shrouded in smoke.
The authorities called it a catastrophe. The local citizenry called it: Block war!
Months of simmering tensions between the gangs, cartels and the all-round no good; increased Arbite activity and an uncharacteristically long and hot summertide, had caused an eruption of violence not seen for many years.
It was, therefore, the perfect time for Morthen Stroms and his crew to slip into the Hive unnoticed.
MORTHEN STROMS. Outcast. Fugitive. Heretic.
For his sins, he was also the leader of a group of very hard and capable individuals who travelled by his side looking for sanctuary and peace. They did not bide by Imperial Laws, nor did they recognise The Imperial Truth.
To follow such a man as Stroms came at a price and they were now classed as Columnarius.. criminals and outlaws like him.
They would receive no quarter from any agent of the Imperium.
But they were not on Rophus to meet any representatives of the Imperium, they were there to carry out business.
* * *
PAINTED IN THE colours and insignia of the 22nd Rophus PDF Auxiliary Squadron, the Valkyrie Sky Talon slipped down through the thick grey upper atmospheric smog, and into a meandering pattern between the towers and hab blocks.
Stroms could quite rightly give himself a pat on the back for this latest endeavour. It had taken some hard negotiations with the cartels, and some devious manipulation of local officials to set this meeting up. All of that on top of avoiding Imperial Navy pickets, Orbital batteries and annoying fighter patrols.
They were nearly there now and he hoped it was all worth it.
“We have company,” he said almost casually, “hard to port, drop two hundred, and get us into…”, he swept an area of the city ahead and pointed to a communication array crackling with lightning and atmospheric charges, “... there please.”
The pilot, an ex-merc narc’s runner, raised an eyebrow from behind her dark sunglasses. She immediately turned in the direction he had indicated, easing the ship into a tight curve.
Juliana Zadian trusted her bosses instincts and he was never wrong.
The Auspex had not picked anything up, but that did not mean that something or someone was out there. Despite Garxan Mansmay’s excellent skills, and natural abilities, even he, the ex-Martian Adept who had worked alongside the best minds in the Imperium, was not a miracle maker. The Valkyrie was over a hundred years old, and before the team requisitioned it, it had seen heavy-duty combat for many decades.
Some of the electrical systems were verging on antique and hardly reliable.
“Juliana, my dear friend,” Mansmay would often say in his monotone, metallic voice, “you cannot seal a black hole with a plaster.”
“He’s a plucky one this…” said Stroms, clearly losing patience.
+ Callsign designation Niner-nine-four-Alpha. You are entering a hostile environment. Martial Law has been imposed. This airspace is now out of bounds. Change course to two-one-six-five and await further instructions +
Stroms sensed the interceptor before he saw it settle in off their starboard wing. It was a Mark Seven Mohapi-class Lightning, more accustomed to ship to ship battles than escorting heavy lifters.
Stroms had to give the fighter pilot some credit, he was on them so quick that they never saw him coming. He raised an eyebrow to a robed Adept behind him, who merely shrugged his shoulders in reply.
Juliana grinned and then cocked her head.
“Do your thing Boss, we haven't got much time.”
Stroms could see the Lightning pilot staring back through a tinted visor. He was pointing left with a gauntleted finger.
Stroms nodded at a red-robed Adept sitting next to Juliana.
“Try and do your bit first Eadfrid. Let’s try and do this the natural way, before I try anything else.”
The Adept straightened up and a second later a long, thin tendril appeared from his sleeve and plugged into the cockpit controls in front of him.
“Two-one-five. We are a Medicae vessel delivering urgent supplies to the…” he paused, “ Red-One sector. We carry the personal authority of Colonel Aare Peetre himself.” He shrugged then added, with a touch of desperation, “There are men dying down there.”
The Lightning pilot was quiet for what seemed like an eternity before replying.
+ You will comply with my directions and await further instructions +
The temperature in the cockpit of the Valkyrie suddenly dropped and hoarfrost began forming on the instrumentation.
Juliana turned to the Adept.
“I dunno why he doesn’t do it straight away, it would save a lot of trouble.”
The Lightning suddenly veered left and a second later its afterburners exploded into life, rocketing it up and out of sight in the clouds above them.
“I love it when you do that,” Juliana teased, “What did you say this time?”
“Juliana. I use my gifts sparingly and not for your amusement.” He turned back to the cockpit instruments.
“Never mind that,” Juliana pressed, “what did you do?”. She turned and squeezed his knee.
For the briefest of moments Stroms felt a frustrated urge, an urge to let go, long hidden and controlled. As usual he fought his desires and his thoughts towards the dark-haired pilot with her dark-lined eyes and full open red lips. He put any notions he might have towards her way back into the depths of his mind.
“It was boring really. The pilot was so starchy, so… straight laced. I told him his wife was having a baby…”
“That is boring…”
“Twins… which might not be his!”
“My Lord,” Eadfrid interrupted. “We are here.”
* * *
JULIANA BROUGHT THEM in onto a disused sports pitch on the North-East edge of the Hive. Tucked in amongst blocks of pre-fabs and Mechanicum Factories, the small landing site was naturally hidden by the overhangs and paraphernalia of an overbuilt, overcrowded tenement area.
Any natural grass had long died away and had been replaced by dirt, gravel and the detritus of a million inhabitants.
It was wonderfully camouflaged and ideal for contraband smuggling and moving around unseen.
Juliana cut the engines and the cockpit went silent.
She quickly removed her sunshades and reverently placed them into a small box by her feet. She then retrieved a Navy-issue laspistol and tucked that into a shoulder holster under her flight jacket.
I need you to remain here sent Stroms
I know. But these vermin cannot be trusted
“They are here.”
A tracked vehicle moved towards them from the shadows and attached itself to the front landing gear of the Valkyrie, before towing it towards a large hangar-like building nearby.
Once inside, the two-storey corrugated Plasteel blast doors slowly closed behind them.
Stroms stepped down onto the greasy floor and quickly assessed the situation they had found themselves in.
They were in some sort of maintenance bay, and the blast doors spoke of military. The space was large enough to easily house ten Valkyrie’s, but it was empty save a few storage containers and stacks of unmarked crates. Ahead of them were a series of doors and reflective windows.
Stroms looked through the windows and into the room beyond using but a fraction of his preternatural powers. He could see ground crew; civilians employed by the cartel; indentured into service by none too friendly means. He felt fear.. and anticipation.
Stroms smiled inwardly.
Now he could see the muscle. Six stim-bulked ‘clanners’ carrying a variety of ‘stubbers’ and blades. One carried a Krak grenade, Astartes-issue.
In the rear area was more muscle… a lot of muscle including Mercs and ex-military. He also felt the faint aura of a psyker somewhere within the complex. The psyker was not active yet and Stroms was tempted to seek him out and challenge him. That could wait. He had other work to do and it would take all his skills to achieve it.
Juliana, Deglan, Mubarak. Six to ten shooters beyond the wall
The rest of his party joined him on the hanger deck and fanned out into a defensive line.
Stroms nodded towards a wooden crate marked ‘INDUSTRIAL CLEANING FLUID’.
Sentry gun. Cold He warned.
These people are very nervous, Stroms noticed. The secure hanger, no overhead surveillance, lots of ‘heavies’, not to mention the non-standard and very expensive Tarantula Sentry Gun. This spoke of clients with troubles and serious trust issues.
Juliana. Keep the engines hot. We might have to leave in a hurry
Send down Dombi
Yes. I need his.. presence. Tell him.. very carefully, no heavy weaponry, but he can bring pistols and light stuff with him
Affirmative Boss. Dombi is on his way.. he’s very excited
The hanger boomed into light as dozens of overheads were switched on, illuminating the area with harsh white light. There was a crackling sound as an old-fashioned tannoy system rasped into life.
“No weapons. Place your weapons onto the ground.”
Stroms held up a hand as his companions brought their Lasguns, rifles, plasma pistols and Needle gun up to the ready position. His troops were good, but the odds were not yet in their favour.
“Bollocks!”, he clipped back. “No way, as they used to say in the old days… Jose!”
There was a long pause before the voice cracked out again.
“No weapons. Leave your weapons behind and step forward.”
Stroms sighed and visibly dropped his shoulders. It was all for effect of course. It was all a game. A game that he had played out a thousand times.
“B-O-L-LO-C-K-S” Stroms spelt out. A few members of his group chuckled.
That will please them Boss
Juliana. Arm the Hellstrike missiles and crank up the Heavy Bolter. Let’s see if these clowns are serious
The Valkyrie’s twin engines hummed back into life and just to make a point, Juliana opened up the throttle, increasing the engines pitch so it became uncomfortable to the ear.
In an instant the crate containing the sentry gun collapsed and the Tarantula clicked into operation, its twin lascannons shifting left and right to find its target.
Stroms remained impassive, folding his arms across his chest and cocking his head slightly to the right. Dombi now joined him, settling behind his left shoulder. He held an enormous spiked club in his massive hands.
He grinned at Stroms.
The Tarantula’s weapons stopped their search and then the system shut down. The Lascannons dropped, pointing at the flight deck.
One of the group, a tall stocky man wearing a mixed bag of combat clothing and equipment, stepped forward and placed a large box on the ground in front of them. He lifted the lid and flicked on a switch inside. A pulsating yellow strobe came from within.
“Now we can play these games all day if you like,” he paused, “or, my friend Deaglán here will arm the Tau Aedificium Exterminatore device and level this building and all the surrounding streets.”
The man called Deaglán knelt down and placed a thumb over a large red button.
Don’t over do it
Boss, it’s me you're talking to
I know. That is why I am nervous
Deaglán Ó Báire
Columnarius, Proditor Interfectorem, In circuitu malum ovum (all-round bad egg), Ex-Sergeant Pindaris 44th Heavy Infantry Regiment, Awarded the Medallion Crimson for conspicuous action - despite wounds [very, very bad, almost mortal], during the Medrilles Insurrection, Hero of the Imperium [Honorifica Imperialis - awaits (unconfirmed)], The Triple Skull Medal - Storia Pacification, Regimental heavyweight Boxing champion [3 years running], Guerilla fighter, Mercenary, Assassin, Ork-killa, general dogsbody, Connoisseur of fine Amsec’s and Vittles
Scribes NB: Descriptives added by Deaglán Ó Báire (Read only) +
++ Personal Reminiscences 71/7172 - Morthen Stroms. ++
It was ten, no, eleven years ago in a eatery… no, a Tavern on… the name of the planet's name has always escaped me.
Two Commissarial Provost’s had entered the main drinking area and walked right up to Ó Báire who was sitting on one of those revolving bar seats by the bar itself. Ó Báire was not in any form of uniform that I could see, but his bearing said military. If he was military, the Provost's certainly had jurisdiction, on or off duty.
The senior Provost had demanded Ó Báire’s identity papers and just to emphasise the point, the other had drawn a shock-maul and held it menacingly in front of him.
We, that is Deaglán and I, have often spoken about the incident, and it always brings a smile to my face as Ó Báire’s version often changes depending on the quantity of Amsec he has consumed or if impressionable ladies are present.
“You see’ drawled Ó Báire ‘it was the way they asked me for my papers.”
“You did not have any.” I always corrected .
“No, well no I didn’t’ he smiled ‘ but that is not the point. It was the way they said it. Something like - ‘you there.. papers now.. or it’s the Apothecary for you… something like that.”
“They were only doing their job Deaglán, that was what they were paid to do.”
“Yes, I know all that. The point was, and I only have my Ma to blame for this, making me all respectful and polite and such... they never said please”
Now the next part of the story changes often in Ó Báire’s versions, but this is what actually happened.
At almost supernatural speed, Ó Báire had launched himself at the two Provost’s, taking them completely by surprise. He punched the shock-maul into the first provosts face, knocking him backwards and over a small table. He then ducked low and delivered a steamroller punch into the seconds man’s solar plexus, doubling him over, before punching upwards and shattering the man’s lower jaw. Ó Báire then leapt forward and delivered a sharp kick to the first Provost’s temple, knocking him out cold.
“I hate fuggin’ Provost’s” growled Ó Báire and I remembered him winking at me after he had taken the provost’s out, with a mischievous grin on his face.
The room had quickly cleared, and only a few semi-conscious patrons still huddled at the bar, oblivious to what had just happened or keeping their heads down and not seeing a thing. The barkeep had disappeared along with his door staff and enforcers.
With the provost’s unconscious and spread-eagled on the filthy floor, I suddenly found myself alone and at a table opposite the tough old fighter. I had a full bottle of Amsec in my hand and nothing else in particular to do at that particular moment.
Without thinking why, though I am always fond of the rough and ready of the underworld, I picked up the bottle and two glasses and walked up to Ó Báire and joined him.
Ó Báire had looked at me with conspiratorial eyes and then gazed longingly at the precious liquor.
“You hold a rare cargo there my friend” he nodded. I remember looking down at the label and shrugging or something like that. I could not for the love of trying remember where I had got it.
“Would you care to share it with a poor, lonely Ex-Guardsman like myself?,” Ó Báire had added, unconsciously licking his lips in anticipation.
It was at that point, after I had gazed into Ó Báire’s soul, that I realised that here was a man that I could spend time with. A man of honour, a man who only needed someone like me to follow.
I then found myself pulling up a stool and joining him. I filled the two glasses and slid one across to the burly brawler.
“I think,’ I smiled, ‘that you are going to need this… friend.”
The rough Ex-Guardsman smiled back and then held out a strong hand.
“Deaglán Ó Báire’s the name, and I think that I am about to enter a whole world of shite.”
* * *
This is a very entertaining read. A good inspiration for many who dream to write. It is quite 'wide open'. To that point I would just be careful about going too far off with your direction.
Other than that, like I said it was quite good!
Also, what the hell is 'bullocks'??
I knew you are a good writer but this is better than good. This is wow good. Is is fun and kept me reading to the end and longing for more. Your short stories are your weakness and you have been getting a lot better with them, but the long stories you write are great. You are able to flesh things out and build great character development. You don't have a word limit so we get to see your thoughts fully come to life. Can't wait for more. :good:
Any idea who Stroms is yet?
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