|On his Imperial Majesty's Secret Service
Author: WkCIA PM
In the Noble Brightness of the Far Future, there is only HIGH ADVENTURE! as Imperial Agent and qualified Tax Accountant Alera Jumil and company promote reason, understanding, and adventure in his Imperial Majesty's Imperium! AU using Brighthammer40kRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 4 - Words: 14,310 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 09-02-12 - Published: 05-02-10 - id: 5939584
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
999.M41, Cadia Segmentum Obscuras
The visage of the man on the screen was noble, calming, inspiring. His demeanour radiated peace, his eyes wisdom, and the gentle lines around his mouth, compassion.
Many things were said of the Minister-Master Horus, but very few could say that he was unknowing. After all, his Lunar Wolves Space Marines were now the Watchers of Horus, the great founding Legion and its subsidiary Chapters pledged forever to find, hunt down, and placate emotional entities that manifested in the warp. There were very few things of which they did not know, and the great eye, a stylized Eye of Harmony they had taken as their new Legion symbol, served as a watchful beacon of hope to his Imperial Majesty's subjects and a stern warning to his enemies.
We know what you are doing.
Alera Jumil was flanked by Monris Rekesten in a conference room on the Starry Jupiter, a hololith set into the middle of the table lit up with a three dimensional representation of the Emperor's favourite son and right hand man (after the twelve Ministers of Terra, of course.) The Eye of Harmony was proudly emblazoned on the Minister-Master's powered armour. Alera was nursing her left arm, still itchy from the dermal regenerators which had repaired the damage done to it by a bone spur from a monstrosity caused by an Emotional Entity. Her right hand nursed a cup of Ulara tea.
"It fits the same parameters as the attack on Ms. Fyrovski." Monris shrugged, as if such a thing was a routine matter. "A power congruent to a Lord of Order, but apparently orders of magnitude more powerful, overcomes that Lord and overpowers a subject of the Lord." His eyebrow perked up. "Mayhem ensues."
Alera spoke up after a sip from her cup. "From what I understand of what Brother Tolgerias told me, it's actually worse than that. They're not congruent per se, but actually logical extensions of the Lord, taken to some nightmarish extreme. Khorne suddenly becomes a blood soaked brute concerned with nothing but martial valour; Slaanesh cares more about experiencing pleasure than treasuring love; Nurgle has so much compassion for the weak and weary that he makes them accept and want that state; and Tzeentch…" she trailed off slightly. "Well, neither of us can think of what could the horrific logical extension of Hope be, but we are agreed that neither of us would like it." At that, they both nodded.
"Your counsel is troubling," the Minister-Master said, frowning. At this moment, however, Horus did not know what to do, a feeling he had not felt in over ten thousand years. He remembered that time, and he did not like how he had come so close to making the wrong decision. He turned to his right. "Abaddon?"
"Sir?" came the voice, courteous and formal, belonging to one of the Minister-Master's greatest soldiers. A man who had saved countless lives in his ten thousand years of service, feted as Abbadon the Protector. He stepped forward, bringing his power armoured figure into the frame of the hololith's display.
"How go my brothers? Have they any news about the Lords since the last request?"
"Sir, none; but mayhaps I may offer my thoughts…?" Horus nodded.
"Our brothers in the Legion and your brothers find the call and presence of the Lords far fainter. Quieter. But the number of… emotional entity materializations," and there he paused to let the modern phrase work around his mouth, used to Gothic as it was spoken ten thousand years earlier, "are ever on the increase, Sir."
Abbadon shrugged his shoulders slightly, as if he was not sure how to interpret that situation. "Never have I known a time when the Lords of Order wane, yet their minions' power waxes. These new eruptions must be somehow discernible."
"That is an idea that's worth thinking about," said Monris, speaking up, and suddenly a whirlwind of thoughts carried him down a path toward a possible solution to their problem. "If there is a qualitative or quantifiable difference between the circumstances of a materialization, maybe we can pinpoint another EEM, ah, emotional entity materialization," he clarified, as the ancient space marine and the primarch on the hololith perked up their eyebrows at the acronym in confusion, "before it occurs, and see if we can distinguish ones that cannot be dealt with normally from the others."
"This is something I believe the Watchers deal with on a regular basis? Would you be able to spare someone?"
Horus understood the logic and the request. The Watchers of Horus knew well how to detect and analyse the pure energy from a warp disturbance into realspace, both with the science of the Imperium and the art of scrying the warp itself. He could certainly spare someone with the skills and knowledge to assist the Imperial Agent.
"We have a young librarian with us with three hundred years of service," said the Minister-Master, forgetting the short-lived lives of baseline humans, even with Juvenat treatments. Alera herself was only one hundred and fifty, and a well experienced agent. "He hails from the Blood Ravens Chapter of the Word Bearers' Legion. He knows both the science and the warp-science when emotional entities rip into our realspace. We will send him to you."
Horus nodded sagely, knowing at least that he could help somehow.
"His name is Azariah Kyras."
Ally Terenas sat on a park bench in Cadia's capitol district. Great glittering spires rose up into the sky around her quiet oasis, in the middle of which was the Parliament building, first built on the planet in the 32nd millennium. It was a quiet space in the middle of a bustling city, and she found it most agreeable.
Around her, she saw children run and play, their laughter filling the air and putting her mind at ease. She saw office workers taking a break for lunch running the paths that crossed the park, dressed in training gear. She saw others just walk, or sit down on the grass for a moment and contemplate, or play any number of games across the grass. She cocked her head sideways in fascination as she noticed an Ork dressed in the robes of their Trader's caste, sitting cross-legged under a small copse of trees, apparently meditating. She noticed the humans tried to avoid him, while still trying not to make it obvious that they were. There might have been peace between the Emperor and Great Khan Thraka ever since the Second War of Armageddon sixty years ago, but his subordinate warlords never needed much provocation to fight the Emperor's Imperial Guard and Space Marines- whether for profit, jockeying for position at the Great Khan's Bosspole, or Coming of Age ceremonies for their young warriors.
She always found the use of male pronouns amongst the Orks strange, one of her cogitators chimed at her. What is the use of male gender amongst a mono-gendered race reproducing via spores?
It's what they want to be called, she said.
Aren't they technically fungi? asked another of her onboard computers.
That's rude! she said to herself.
Ally took in all the sights and sounds, and let them filter through her internal cogitators for analysis and archival. It was a favourite past time, especially when she saw or heard or found something new to record and analyse.
Every now and then, amongst the throng of humanity and the boys playing Guardsmen and Orks, the Orks distinguished by the green face paint, she would notice a couple holding hands, or daring a quick peck on the lips and daring others to notice them, lost in each other. Normally it would just amuse her, but today, a feeling washed over her that she couldn't quite describe. She turned to her left, and looked over at Garen Danar, sitting with her on the park bench in companionable silence.
An olfactory sensor told her why she was feeling so odd. She smiled and poked her friend playfully.
"You got it on last night, Mr Hot-Shot pilot," she laughed, as Garen's face contorted from shock to amusement.
"I can't be that obvious," Garen said, trying very hard not to smile beatifically and failing at it.
"It's the smile," Ally teased, noting his cheeks beginning to glow a bright red. "Anyways," she said, closing her eyes and turning up her nose in the air, just so, "it is just so crass to make it obvious to everyone that you clearly had a good time last night, what with the self satisfied smile and the obvious lack of tension and the pheromone count…"
"I can't help the last one!" Garen chuckled, as his glance darted carefully back to take a look around the park. "And aren't you supposed to be looking for another preacher we can get more information on instead of prying into my love life?"
"I have cogitators for that, and they're working on it right now. And you know perfectly well I like to enjoy the scenery."
He smiled and turned his head away, back to an unobtrusive scan of the park. Peace reigned as the two continued to watch and wait, with the sole exception of the slightly over-adventurous group of children who went over to ask the Ork whether he'd like to play Guardsmen and Orks.
Some hours later, she was still in a reverie when the pilot spoke up next to her. She didn't notice it at first, because the Ork was now giving the children a lesson in how to bawl WAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUGHHHHH at the top of their voices and they had insisted on emulating his volume and general incoherence.
"I have a question I want to ask."
He paused, an odd expression coming over his face. "Do you ever wonder… what might have happened if things were different?"
Ally cocked her head to the side, considering the matter for a moment. "Of course! Quantum state fluctuations extrapolated to the macro-scale model of the universe would postulate the existence of all sorts of different states for things…" and then she realized she was babbling, and the sentence petered out. She turned to him. "What do you mean?"
"Ever wonder if we met under different circumstances whether we'd be different?"
Ally laughed. "I have to say meeting when the Gellar field of your ship nearly drops while you're in warp transit wasn't the most auspicious of beginnings."
"I've just been thinking about that. There I am, in the Control moderator room, and there you are, deciding to bring me along for the ride rather than just giving me a lasgun and telling me to hold out." Garen paused for a second. "Ever wonder what might have happened if you didn't bring me along?"
The thought had never really occurred to Ally, and she set her cogitators on the matter. She had archived the parameters of the situation at that time, and she played the scenario in her head repeatedly, considering what would have happened had she not taken him and not been able to rely on his knowledge of his ship. The entire analysis took approximately .68 seconds. It was nearly an eternity.
"I calculate that I'd have had a 98.9% probability of failure within the acceptable time parameters to have the Gellar field up and established. I also calculate a near one hundred percent probability that I would have spaced myself out an airlock." She grimaced sheepishly.
"I just wonder," Garen said, "If I didn't have you to help me find Raelin. I don't know. It seems so silly knowing that I did have you and your auspex. I don't think I ever had the chance to say Thank You."
"For what?" Ally asked. "You helped me save the ship."
"You helped me save my wife."
"She wasn't your wife then. She was just the comms tech you managed to smuggle on board from the Sororitas. You could have totally dumped her."
Garen snorted. "What, for you?"
The question hung in the air for approximately .68 seconds longer than it should have.
"You know what, you're totally right. I half think I brought you along because I was attracted to you," Ally pretended to joke. Garen laughed in reply, not having any pheromone sensors or voice stress analysis cogitators of his own.
The two continued to scan the park for a while longer.
"I'm glad we met, though." Garen said.
"I don't think that would ever change." Her voice was a little softer now, almost wistful.
It was then that she felt it. An irresistible impulse, a hope, a mad compulsion, almost, and she could feel her biological parts droop with fatigue and her blood sugar levels fall and the sun warm her face amidst the always cold air of Cadia, and then children were now running around their bench with the Ork screaming WAAAAAAUUUUUUGH delightedly and a couple on the grass shared a kiss and then Ally rested her head on Garen's shoulder not realizing it and it was totally inappropriate and By the Omnissiah he has a wife and she's your friend but human courtship rituals and customs do not consider your current actions to be evocative of the concept of infidelity and she saw in her mind's eye herself and Garen sitting in loving silence now watching the sun set over Cadia and his arm was around her and she was warm and happy and get rid of Raelin, he can be mine, I have a plan and now she was sighing contentedly because she didn't care.
He shifted to make her more comfortable.
It felt right.
About ten seconds later, they both flinched, as if they had just been scorched where they had touched.
"I'm so sorry!" Ally cried, a sudden feeling of embarrassment rushing through her body, which very quickly turned into a deep and abiding anger, and she wasn't entirely sure why.
"What was that about!?" Garen nearly snarled, and his brow creased into confusion at the anger he was displaying which his conscious mind told him wasn't proportional at all to what he should be feeling.
They both took deep breaths, and felt a measure of calm seep back into themselves.
Crowd congregating approximately one hundred metres from present position, one of her cogitators suddenly said, and Ally's eyes widened as she saw a crowd spring up almost from nowhere amongst the people in the park. A beat arbiter stood a little off the crowd, and he could be seen speaking into his commlink. A few of the crowd saw the motion and began to boo derisively at the law officer, who terminated the call and stood impassively with his hands behind his back. He was only there to keep an eye on proceedings. Passers by stopped to look at the group, clearly bemused by the whole situation and hoping for a way to while the afternoon away.
Garen was by now speaking into his commlink, doubtless taking notes, and he stood up and began to amble over to the group, as if interested in what spectacle it had to offer. He turned back to Ally and mouthed sorry, talk later, promise as he kept on walking.
Ally could live with that.
She cocked her head to the side, and her vox picked up the chanting of the crowd. "DON'T KILL HOPE WITH TAXES" seemed to be the most common call, although a few seemed to be somewhat pungent criticisms of the Church of Nurgle. Her left eye focused with a precision that no natural eye could ever match, and she saw a priest of Tzeentch step up so he rose above the rest of the thronging crowd. He began to harangue them, and while he did so, she noticed some helpers of his pass flyers into the crowd, both paper and datapad.
Garen was halfway there, intending to join the crowd of gawpers surrounding the demonstration, and Ally was monitoring the situation, which seemed fairly under control, until the priest pointed at her.
She froze for a second in surprise, perhaps wondering if the priest was trying to attack a priest from another religion, but then she realized what he was pointing at; the children and the Ork, still merrily pretending to blast each other with toy Lasguns.
"See the fetid Xenos?" shouted the priest. "See how he defiles our young ones with his barbaric tongue? And see the priestess of the Machine God do nothing, sitting on that bench idling while good humans are corrupted by the filth of the Xenos?"
"YES," came the reply.
"Will our pathetic Governor-Representant do anything?"
"NO!" came the chant in unison.
"Shall we suffer such unclean filth to live?"
"NO!" and it was then that Ally saw Lasguns appear in the hands of several of the people in the crowd.
Ally's eyes widened even further. She made a surreptitious motion with her head, almost a tiny nod, and opened up a vox channel to the Imperial Agent.
"Aeronautica sends Rose, classify?" she said.
"No need, we're secure. Report."
"We're about to have a riot, and I think it'll get nasty rather quick."
Alera Jumil practically jumped from the hovercar, landing on the ground with alacrity and sprinting toward the crowd that was rapidly growing in its intensity and ferocity. She saw a line of arbites, standing at attention and ready to take cover behind their riot shields. Their riot prods were in their holsters but on full display, as a warning. Several of the protestors were waving lasguns or auto slug pistols in the air, but they did not seem yet ready to use them.
They were arranged in a circle, with the children and the Ork inside the protective barrier of their bodies. The crowd jeered at the Ork loudly, while the spectators shouted back at the protestors to just get a life already and let everyone go home, not quite realizing the hypocrisy of their positions. The boys were terrified, but they saw the grim faces of the arbites protecting them and the sneer of contempt on the Ork's face, and they took heart.
Garen waved the Agent over at a discreet distance from the crowd, and it looked all to the world as if Alera had just joined her friends at the fringes of the spectators to see what was going on. Ally stood with them, her Mechanicus robes shrouded by Garen's jacket.
"You have to blend in," he'd said, as he had draped the garment around her, shivering slightly at the cold. "I don't want you getting shot."
Ally had found it oddly comforting.
"I have a Vox to the head arbiter," Garen said, and he pressed a button on his commlink. "Hello? Sergeant Rares? This is Mr Danar and Agent Jumil."
The Agent spoke, her voice firm. "Report."
"Ma'am," came the response. "Unsafe to attempt forcible extraction from area, crowd has firearms. I don't want to provoke a violent response. Crowd is not dispersing from oral commands."
"Acknowledged," Alera said. "Confirm if an extraction is possible through spectator crowd. Attempt oral dispersal."
A tinny voxcoder squawk was then heard over the noise of the crowd. "ALL BYSTANDERS. PLEASE DISPERSE. THIS DEMONSTRATION MAY CONTINUE BUT ALL BYSTANDERS ARE TO DISPERSE FOR YOUR SAFETY."
It appeared to be working, as the outer edges of the spectators began to peel off, in ones and twos, and then larger groups, as they decided that they had had enough excitement for the day. The group of arbites could begin to press through with the dispersing crowd, inching slowly away from the demonstrators, who began to come ever closer to the line of arbites. Some of them had their riot prods out now, not yet activated but ready at a moment's notice.
A protestor got too close, well within the range of the arbites' crowd control weapons, and then the riot prods of the line of arbites powered up, crackling with electricity.
The crowd of protestors jeered.
"THE ARBITES ARE PROTECTING THE XENOS SCUM! THEY'RE GETTING AWAY! THE FILTHY XENOS IS GETTING AWAY!"
Then, clear as a clarion call, the priest of Tzeentch, pure, calculating hatred in his eyes, uttered a phrase that send a chill through Alera Jumil's heart.
"COME, MY CHILDREN. LET US REMAKE THIS WORLD FOR SPORT! KILL, KILL, KILL!"
Blue stun bolts flashed out of the crowd and slammed into three of the arbites guarding the group. They fell to the ground, and suddenly the crowd surged forward and the other arbites could not close the gap in time. The crowd of frenzied protestors broke the line and commenced to punch and kick and claw at the arbites, and then a group armed with Lasguns surged forward and began to point their lasguns at their targets…
The Ork shouted an inchoate cry of anger and distaste and jumped between them. His chest disappeared into a pink mist from the Lasbolt that seared from the Lasgun in the hands of the man at the front of group of protestors and would have hit one of the boys with green warpaint in the head had the Ork not been in the way.
"Frak!" yelled Garen, reflexes honed by a quarter century of service in the Imperial Navy's shuttle service, and he had hooked his arms around both his boss and his friend and pulled them to the ground. Lasbolts hissed into the air where the three of them had been, and now there were screams as shots began to be fired indiscriminately into the crowd of spectators, now beginning to flee in crazed panic.
From the ground, Alera could begin to sense a huge, malevolent presence in the warp. It hovered over the priest of Tzeentch, exulting in every death, every hit, every gasp of pain. The priest's eyes began to glow a sickly red, and he began to slowly rise into the air, as if levitating.
Alera began to feel actively ill as waves of nausea washed over her warp-senses. Her eyes flashed blue, and she fought to regain control of herself by pitting her power against the presence…
*Do you know who I am?* a voice in her head suddenly asked.
*I am guessing Tzeentch.*
*My my, a clever girl,* it said. *You might be perfect for me after all.*
*You know, Alera, this universe is soooooo insipid. No Psykers worth a damn except your Emperor. You know, over in my place you're far tougher than this.*
*I know it's a long shot, but if we're all so pathetic here would it do if I asked you politely to leave us all alone?*
*Oh! Such touching hope. It sounds like something my bore of a brother, Tzeentch, would say.* The presence then seemed to pause and shrug. *Oh dear. It seems my followers here are insipid too. He's about to get squished. I'll have to use a different plan. Plans within plans. Sigh. I suppose it's what makes it fun.*
Alera suddenly felt her mind clear, and she could make out the incoming scream of a space marine's jetpack.
A dark red blur crashed into the priest of Tzeentch and smeared him into the grass, along with those closest to him. The shockwave threw yet more others through the air, and even on the ground Alera could feel the tremor of the impact. She looked up, and she saw a space marine Librarian, a powered staff in his right hand and a bolt pistol in his left. He stood up and crushed the head of a man who pointed a Lasgun at his face with the staff. His eyes burned a bright azure blue underneath his amplifier hood, and suddenly, a wave of blue fire erupted from him. It passed harmlessly through Alera, most of the spectators, and the children, but Alera gasped as the protestors caught fire and began to writhe on the ground in agony. Actual tendrils of physical smoke began to rise from their bodies.
It was several minutes later.
"I was not aware that I would be needed so soon," said the Librarian, his voice deep and low.
The Agent stared out at the scene of carnage before her, of bodies still smoking with psychic fire and jetpack exhaust, of broken bodies crushed by a half tonne of space marine landing upon them. With any luck, the Medicae could treat everyone. But she was not hopeful of that.
Alera Jumil marched up to him, fury shaking her every fibre of being.
"What in the Emperor's Frakking Name did you just do?" yelled Alera Jumil, her face inches away from the infuriatingly calm face.
"I believe," Azariah Kyras replied, the blue light from his eyes fading and a mirthless smile on his face, "I just saved your life."