|Secret War Warhammer 40,000
Author: Adrassil PM
After his organization is hired to hunt down an influential ganger on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse, forever more.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Crime - Inquisition & The Emperor - Chapters: 20 - Words: 141,257 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 11 - Updated: 05-13-13 - Published: 05-13-10 - id: 5967026
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Gun fire. Las and solid projectile alike ripped down the corridor, stray rounds punching holes through the wooden walls, showering us in pouts of exploding dust, which engulfed much of the corridor in a thick, white haze. Taken off guard, my colleagues and I were forced into cover, two of whom, Jarvus and Callague, never made it. A well aimed Las round burned straight through the side of Jarvus' skull as the ex-guardsman desperately dived for cover. Callague was dead before he could move, the poor bastard's corpse almost cut apart by the intense fire.
Cursing, I blindly fired my auto gun from the corner, through the dust obscured corridor, "spray and pray" being the technical term and wondering for the hundredth time why I had decided to join this line of work. No in hell way could I ever get a clean shot my only hope was to pin the assailants.
With a quick fire signal to Garrakson behind me, I slipped back from the corner and the ex guardsman taking up position in my stead.
"Fire in the hole!" he sang out in his oddly melodic voice and with a grunt the middle-aged man hefted a tube-charge down the hall. The explosion rocked the building, all sound drowned out by its deafening cacophony and preceded by the hefty clatter of falling debris.
Without a moment's hesitation, Elandria and I slid out of cover, side by side we sprinted down the corridor, through the dust and debris and all the way we fired our auto guns from the hip. Two unfortunate gangers buckled and collapsed under our withering hail of bullets, they were only a pair of darkened figures still stunned by the grenade's force.
At the last moment we dropped our weapons and fell upon our enemies, Elandria drawing twin monomolecular enhanced blades from their sheaths on her back as I drew my own mono sword from it's hip scabard. Elandria let out a spine chilling cackle as she dodged a ganger's clumsy blow and countered with a deft slice of her sword, relieving her hapless attacker of his head.
Not in such humour. My face grim I parried one ganger's stabbing knife and kicked my boot's knife into his shin. The man screamed out in agony then was cut short as I stabbed my sword through his chest and finished him by kicking the convulsing idiot off my blade. Immediately I was forced to duck the next ganger's attack as he swung out wildly with the butt of his Las gun, the man was in mid recovery but in the blink of an eye I struck, my blade arced into his left hip and straight through to his right shoulder, the man gurgled out copious amounts of blood then fell onto his back.
Beside me, Elandria also finished her last attacker, disemboweling the ganger with a quick slice of Setsukia then decapitated him with Katrina.
Both she and I worked well together but our combat styles could not have been more different. I was taught the way of the combat pragmatist: to do anything and everything to win, to fight with quick, brutal and practical techniques.
She on the other hand fought like a gymnast, with acrobatic and fanciful techniques that I found at first contemptuous, but I could not deny that she was skilled, very skilled.
She had yet to reveal to me what school of assassins she had been taught in, but I could hazard a guess.
Elandria enjoyed every kill, to such heights that it disturbed me at times and her complete obsession with decapitating her victims was nigh on unnatural. Hence why she wielded twin blades; Setsukia was for blocking and wounding, while Katrina was specifically to decapitate. Also she took combat drugs before battle, a process I was actually taught to do, but personally detested. If you had to rely on artificial enhancements what good would you be without them? I suppose that was the reason why her fanciful style was so effective.
I on the other hand, I do not enjoy killing, I do it because needs must, in a professional manner and with pride in my work, this job to me is nothing but a means to an end, I do not intend to be an assassin forever, I have other goals for my life, though in all likelihood I will not live to see them through.
But despite her ruthless, blood thirsty nature Elandria was without doubt an extremely attractive young woman, at times her beauty held me utter awe, almost reducing me to a drooling idiot. But I was wise enough to know that a girl like her was only to be looked at, not chased, so indoctrinated by her cult was she that all she would ever know was the mindless urge to kill. It was quite depressing really.
The four that had fell to our blades were the last; three more had taken the brunt of the blast. 'Good work you two' said Garrakson as he walked up behind us.
Both Elandria and I turned to face our colleague. Elandria was tense, visibly shaking and as she span she almost toppled over in her haste. Fortunately for him, Garrakson was smart enough to stand out of range of Elandria's blade; she was hugely unpredictable when in such a state.
I shrugged. "All in a day's work," I said, sounding far more nonchalant than I felt, "we must be getting back before the local Magistratum arrive."
Garrakson grimaced slightly, "or the damnable Arbites."
"C-cut the chit chat s-shall we?" said Elandria her voice was painful, needy, 'our master will be wanting, to hear of our exploits.' she was twitching madly now, another reason why I kept away from stimms; the damn withdrawal was intense.
"What?" said Garrakson, "our exploits being that we lost even more good men chasing yet another dead end?"
I sighed, Garrakson's words rang true. I had been part of Taryst's personal army for half a year now and so far this would have to be the most horrible, thankless job I've ever had.
Taryst, an infamous Rogue trader who was well known throughout the Calixus sector as a master of trade and business, our employer and who, for some unknown, esoteric reason was waging war against the authorities and local gangs of this Hive world called Omnartus. In fact, so secret this struggle was that any mercenary who joined had to have their minds blocked from psyker intrusion, and that was twenty thousand men and women. Emperor only knows how even someone as rich as Taryst could afford it, on top of wages and living expenses.
"What are we to do about Callague and Jarvus?" I said as I started down the corridor and walked past Garrakson, though I already knew what the answer would be.
Garrakson sniffed, his scarred, square jawed face contorting with the movement. "Do what we always do," he said as he shacked his head, "leave 'em; we don't have the time kid."
"Just for a change huh?" I sighed deeply, "poor bastards. I hope that the Magistratum treat them well."
"Why does it matter?" asked Elandria who despite a drug enduced withdrawal approached us with such feline grace she seemed to float instead of walk, "the dead are dead, it does not matter how well you treat them."
I sighed again; no matter how many times I explained it she still didn't understand.
Garrakson sniffed again but this time he hawked up a wad of flem which he unceremoniously spat to the floor. "Okay kiddies, we split up," he said, "Elandria go south west-"
"Yeah, yeah," I interrupted dryly, finding it hard to hide my disgust, "we know the drill; I go south east and you go south, meet at the base at eighteen hundred, we know."
Garrakson shook his head with a bemused smile, "how long has it been now?"
"One hellish half of one hellish year," I answered, though I wasn't entirely sure either.
"Hellish? Hellish?" said Garrakson, his dead panned tone almost as sarcastic as my own, "now that is the damned understatement of the damned century. Alright then, just move out now, if you know the bloody drill so frigging well."
And we did it, yet again.
I ran out the building and into the polluted, darkened streets with my black flak jacket flowing in my wake.
I did not need to check the compass on my wrist chronometer to know I was running to the south east, ever since I was a child I had an innate sense of direction, an instinct. I could find my way out of the thickest of the bush in my home world with only my wits.
As I moved, swiftly, silently my thoughts wandered. Half a year ago our squad numbered ten, but now with the losses of Callague and Jarvus we were reduced to four, Garrakson, Elandria, Torris and myself.
Torris, an ex-Arbitrator, had been wounded in our last incursion and badly wounded. The poor bastard lost an eye and had been knifed in the guts. His condition was still uncertain, I was not much into praying but I was tempted to for Torris he was a good man, for a self serving merc anyway.
It was quite depressing really; it was very hard seeing your comrades in arms slowly whittled away, one by one. Was it like this to serve in the Imperial Guard? Perhaps I should ask Garrakson one day, if I ever remember or get around to doing it.
Better do it sooner rather than later, Garrakson maybe the next, I thought grimly. Or maybe me.
I shook away the morbid thought, the morale of Taryst's personal army was on an all time low sure we were mercenaries, for us, money was a good incentive to fight, but Taryst expected us to give up our lives without ever telling us why.
We were human as well, if we had a cause, a meaning! It would help us to fight all the harder.
Anger started to well up inside me; my jaw clenched as my teeth ground together, a regular occurrence when I got mad. What was the point of implanting us with psychic blocks if you don't give us any of any information to protect?
But I was no stranger to secrets and sabotage; I lived my life by ulterior motive, rarely trusting anyone, I had learnt my of lesson "trust" from my dear old dad, my dear old, frigging father.
I sighed, too many memories just suddenly came flooding back and I forced them away with a swallow, now was not such a time for those thoughts. I turned a sharp corner, out of the alleyways and into the main streets.
We were meant to meet at the base at 1800 hours, but I intended to get there sooner. I felt I needed to speak with the employer; a mother-figure to us and was more of a mother than my own ever was. Her name was Glaitis; the woman who had saved my life after my first, futile, attempt at assassination. The woman who had taught me the ways of the assassin in far more detail than my father ever would. And she knew my father, my real father.
My brow furrowed and I sped up my already fast pace.
She never looked up as I entered her office, she never seemed to need to.
"Ah! Attelus Xanthis Kaltos, what is it that brings you to my humble abode my student? " said Glaitis. She was a tall and harshly beautiful woman my gaze glided over her as she sat at her desk, studying a data slate intently with her cold, calculating and crisp blue eyes.
My cheek twitched as I clenched my jaw, I really did hate it when she called me by my middle name, of course she knew this well, it was all part of her constant testing that drove me nuts, the point to catch me off guard so that I could learn to recover but no matter how many times I always recovered badly.
'I-I am here to advise you of-.'
She interrupted me as she snapped the data slate shut and fixed me with her piercing gaze.
"No stuttering young one, unless it is an act, you are to be confident! Precise in your words and your demeanour and stand up straight! Your posture is utterly horrendous!"
I did as told, barely holding back an annoyed sigh.
"Now Young Attelus, you may start again."
"I am here to advise you that we have lost two more members of our squad."
"And who were they?" she asked, turning her attention back down to her data slate, barely interested.
"Callague and Javus."
"They are of Taryst's ilk," she stated rather than asked, keeping her attention squarely down.
I confirmed it, but I already knew what she was about to say.
"If they are not part of our own organization I do not care, you know this as well as I, come out with it then, I know you Attelus, tell me the real reason you are here."
I let out a heavy sigh, hoping that it didn't sound too fake, right now I was testing myself to see if I could hide the true reason why I was here, "the men are losing morale-"
"I am well aware of the state of the morale young Attelus' she interrupted, "you are just here to seek guidance for you own melancholy. Am I correct in my assumption?"
I sucked in air through my clenched teeth. Hesitating my response. Damn it! Out witted yet again!
She smiled a steady and starkly rare expression.
"At least you have learnt from my teachings the value of deception young Attelus and yet not the proper technique, apparently. As I told you when we had first begun your training your father had taught you well in the basics; close quarter's combat, swordsmanship and ranged weaponry but he had neglected the more subtle arts of an assassin's trade."
My jaw set hard at the mention of my father.
"Do not do that!' she hissed, "that is one of your many tells young one, that is what you do when you are annoyed or angered, remember what I have taught you time and time again; 'give nothing to your enemies or your allies,' that proverb was handed down to me by my master and now I hand it down to you, do you understand what it means young one?"
"Yes." I barely said than sighed. I was really starting to regret coming here.
"Good!" she sat back in her chair, "now, tell me what troubles you young Attelus."
Her voice had softened and she was legitimately interested that had always taken me aback, how she changed from harsh, berating teacher, to tender and kind hearted motherly figure in the blink of an eye.
My heart skipped a beat and I found words extremely hard to form. When she changed like that I would always be taken aback, feeling a strange tightness in my chest, I had no idea why, or what it was it just happened. "I- I hate this situation!' I managed to blurt out. "We have been here for six months and we have nothing. Nothing! Just more corpses and questions! It's hard every frigging day is the same! A new lead we are sent to track down and- and! We are only to find a new dead end!"
"I know," she sighed heavily, "I know it is hard."
"But you know what else?" I snarled, "I get the suspicion that frigger Taryst knows more than he lets on, that he could give us information that would allow us to do our jobs but for some, idiotic, selfish reason he holds it back, I don't know why but I have my ideas."
Glaitis placed her elbow on her desk and cupped her jaw in her smooth, tender hand, a slight smile playing over her purple lips. "Really, young one?" she cooed, 'and pray tell; what are these 'ideas'?"
I immediately stiffened, realising that I had said more than I should have, but I did not stutter. I looked her straight in the eye and said with confidence; "That the information would damn him, that he is desperate to keep it secret so much that if it was even slightly leaked out, his life would be jeopardised by someone or something, that he could be branded as a heretic and a traitor." I sighed, "that's why."
My attention dropped to the carpet at my feet and I awaited her response.
After what seemed to be an eternity she finally said, "I have to say my young one; I am impressed."
"What?" I said, looking back up at her, of all the responses she would say that was the last I had guessed.
"Yes, that you would have at least a little tact to figure out makes me believe that finally my lessons seem to be getting through to you, I, myself had come to suspect Taryst for quite some time but for you to figure it out all alone," she laughed.
I could only stand still frozen to the floor, never had she complimented me like that before.
"Th-thanks?" Was all I could manage.
"That young one is the true key to survival in our...line of work,' she said 'the first rule; 'know your enemy' it's such a simple and obvious statement but you have learnt it's true meaning."
I winced as the realization hit me. Then I quickly cursed, wincing as I realized how obvious it was.
"You have it child," she said, her smile turned cruel. "Everyone is your enemy."
I stood outside, my hands in the pockets of my flak jacket, leaning against the North West wall of the organization's tall office building, a smoking Lho stick hanging out the left corner of my mouth , awaiting for my colleagues but in all honesty, really doing what I do best; thinking.
Once again my mind recalled what Glaitis had said to me, it was atypical of her to retract a compliment; after her words filtered through my numbed mind, pride started to well up inside me, and my posture straightened, so straight that I stood taller than ever before and then she said.
"But do not let it go to your head young Attelus, Xanthis Kaltos, for though I am not sure when you began to suspect Taryst in all likelihood it would be far too late."
"What?" and I came back to being hunched again.
She got up off her seat and approached me from around her desk; I could not help it as my eyes ran up her lithe, full figured body, right from head to toe.
She shook her head, she knew, she always frigging knew, "by now Attelus if you were alone, working out in the field and it took you this long to suspect your employer? You would be dead, you did well young one in this endeavour but next time..."
I cursed, snarling it out like some ravenous beast, "try doing it a little quicker" I finished with a sigh, my expression dark.
"Indeed! Also remember this piece of advice young one and remember it well; "trust nothing, suspect everything."
I nodded, wide eyed; the frog not stuck but truly grafted into my throat, "I will,'" was all the words I could manage.
"And Attelus, as much as I try to encourage you to try...think a little less, do think on my words now,' her face turned dark, 'Think on them long and hard, now leave; I have much work to do."
I drew my left hand out of its pocket and gripped my Lho stick with index finger and thumb.
"Trust nothing, suspect everything." I thought on that piece of advice yet again and came to the same realization once more; the pure irony of it that Glaitis meant herself as well; she was an extremely literal woman.
Was this what it meant to truly be an Assassin, to be some paranoid, psychotic, schizophrenic? Trusting no one, not even you?
I sighed out smoke as my thoughts wandered to the many memories of my father; how he would act when some slightly suspicious stranger walked past our front yard, how he would react when anyone but me came close. Then for the first time in a long time I felt something other than hatred for my father, I felt truly sorry for Serghar Kaltos.
He was the product of this "training", no, now I was beginning to think it as "brain washing" Was this the reason why my father neglected to teach me the more "subtle arts"? He did not want me to become some lonesome monster just like him?
I took the Lho stick from my mouth and eyed it; I used to be a chain smoker, using them as a coping mechanism back in my darker days. At Galitis' instruction I had gone off them (which seemed ironic that she encouraged the use of potentially deadly combat drugs) but ever since we came under Taryst's employ I had slowly drifted back to the dirty habit, coping mechanism indeed.
Was the life of an Assassin what I truly wanted? Truly?
I flicked ash off the end of the Lho stick and put it back in my mouth.
I really didn't know what I wanted anymore.
I inhaled the sweet smoke once more, raised my right hand and took the dying smoke out, exhaling I flicked the stub onto the rockcrete ground.
I stayed, leaning against the wall; not moving to step it out, I did not need to; Elandria doing it for me as she emerged out the shadows.
"Lost in your little world once more eh?" she said.
"Not lost enough to miss your clumsy approach."
I could not see the expression on her face behind that cold, featureless mask but I could hazard a guess.
Elandria was many things but socially intelligent was not one of them.
She stood still for a few seconds trying to make a coherent comeback, finally all the best she could out with was; 'why is the son of Serghar Kaltos smoking Lho, does he think himself too good for the rules?'
My jaw set, I really did try to keep the identity of my father a secret but Glaitis had to go behind my back and tell Elandria, my presumption was it being yet another "test" but what that bloody woman wanted to test exactly was a mystery, was it my patience?. Or was it my skill at combat when I finally lost my patience.
I sighed, a contemptuous sound that really riled up Elandria.
"What does that mean?" she asked darkly.
"It means what it means," was my reply, my tone insultingly melancholic.
"Yeah!" she snarled, "well let us see what it truly "means" when I separate your head from your shoulders!"
And she reached for her blades
I grinned and in the blink of an eye; I was sliding into a combat stance; my left thumb flicked my sword's blade loose in its sheath, and my right, grabbed the hilt, beginning to draw.
That was when Garrakson just suddenly appeared between us.
Both Elandria and I yelped out in fright and leapt back.
'That's enough kiddies,' he said, 'I think that we have had enough violence for today.'
Then he turned to me, "and kid if you want to sheath your blade in her may I suggest using your 'other' blade instead."
I could not see my face but I felt it go insanely red as I instantly got it.
"What?" demanded Elandria, her confused attention switched between me and Garrakson, back and forward, "what is this "other blade" Garrakson? Attelus Kaltos only wields one, is-is it the knife in his boot?"
"Try a little higher missy," said Garrakson and I blushed even worse.
But she still didn't get it.
Garrackson sighed, "alright let's get moving kids, we have exploits to report."
My face still a dark shade of red and Elandria still quite confused, we slipped southward toward the "back entrance" of the organization's building, the way which Taryst's dirty little dogs of war were meant to skulk in and out of as we were not good enough for the public's entrance.
Elandria and I walked on Garrakson's flanks, through the dirty, barely six metre wide alley way, all of us well aware of the many cameras which watched our approach with their undying gaze, there were thirteen in all, each perched a good five metres up the wall. I had noted this right from my first entrance into the alleyway and I reminded myself with each subsequent walk through, just in case.
We came to the entrance, a well camouflaged double door way that anyone who passed it would in all likely hood never notice. Garrakson tugged open the hidden panel and proceeded to type in the access code.
Both Elandria and I stood watch for any civilians too curious for their own good which was fine with me; I could have my back to the gorgeous assassin, in my immature embarrassment I could barely look her in the eye, counting myself lucky that her indoctrination had given her a naiveté of such personal matters.
Actually, on second thought, I wasn't lucky at all.
I hissed a curse under breath and then I could not help grin widely, shaking my head to myself.
Then with a slight hiss the doors opened, both Elandria and I backed through the entrance, auto guns raised.
Through that door was another alley way beyond, what I could have guessed to once be a maintenance entrance now was a super secure, massively fortified maintenance entrance.
If there was ever a literal embodiment of Taryst's absolute paranoia this would be it; mercenaries crawled through the alley, a the ten metre wide, hundred metres long and at every three metres there was a check point with five guards stationed at all, the alley way also slowly elevated upwards, at five degrees so each checkpoint had high ground on the last and not just that but there were numerous balconies jutting out the walls, ten metres up, they each had full time guards all equipped with Imperial guard issue Long las sniper rifles.
I hated the place, every single time I would walk through it I would try to find some way I could sneak through or fight through without being messily evaporated by two billion las, solid projectile and massive, high velocity hot shot rounds and besides stealing a uniform or a complete camouflage each time would come up with nil, it was as close to impregnable as I knew. The only way to penetrate that I could think of was to have thousands of Imperial Guardsmen storm it, the casualties would be utterly horrendous but it would work...eventually, that or an entire company of Space Marines but even they would suffer as well, a Long Las high yield round punches through power armour with ease.
As we walked up through the crowd of highly armed and armoured mercs, both Elandria and I were silent but Garrakson had to greet each and every single one, he knew them all by their name and almost had to stop and small talk with each. I was finding myself almost glad at Callague's and Jarvus' demise as the walk would have been even longer with them.
After twenty long minutes, finally we arrived as the alleyway's end, here security was pumped up to an extreme with two auto cannon duel wielding servitors which stood constant vigil at the doors.
Exiting out was Colonel Barhurst, the grizzled second in command of Taryst's personal army, approached us with a warm grin and outstretched arms but was highly contradicted by the ten grim, elite Storm Troopers that escorted him.
"Ahh! Garrakson my good friend!" he exclaimed, Barhurst was a man well into his two hundreds but the use of extensive and expensive gene bathing kept him looking like a spry man in his mid thirties, though a heavily scarred and beaten, spry man in his mid thirties, as my research had uncovered he was one of Taryst's longest serving allies, he had abandoned his duties as colonel in the Tamarsk 30th to join the rogue trader in his endeavours. He was wanted by the commissariat and the Inquisition for dereliction of duties, but thanks to Taryst's good will and huge influence he had eluded justice so far.
I had never liked Barhurst, the man was sycophancy incarnate, Taryst was the true commander, all what Barhurst did was carry on the Rogue Trader's commands and when asked to do anything himself he would just order others under him to do it for him. He was charismatic and friendly, but a very fake charisma and friendly, how Taryst couldn't see the incompetency of his second was quite beyond me.
"How goes the hunt?"
"Another dead end," replied Garrakson grimly, I could detect the barely hidden contempt in our squad leader's voice, "and we lost Callague and Jarvus."
Barhurst frowned an animated frown, "sorry to hear my friend, Master Taryst is up in his grotto waiting for you."
Then Barhurst turned to Elandria and me, "and you two know the drill."
I sighed, yes I frigging know, do you need to remind me every single time? And you could do it without that idiotic grin? I thought this as my teeth clenched.
Hesitantly, I unstrapped my sword from my belt and placed it on the nearby table, with that I slipped my off my wrist mounted throwing knife compartments, my auto gun and lastly and most hesitantly my right boot which contained the hidden knife.
Elandria did it too with even worse aversion than I, letting go of her twin swords, her auto gun and her knife.
"Good!" said Barhurst, "you can head on up now."
And just to make sure we had no weapons on us we had to each pass through a metal detector.
Every single damn day for half an entire year I have to go through this frig, saying that it was quite depressing really was a frigging understatement.
Next thing I will be wasting my money on the heavier drugs than Lho, like Obscura to get over this monotony.
I shook away the stupid thought, as we walked through the entrance way.
I have seen firsthand the damage that drug can do, no...I have been through that damage and I intended to never go through it ever again.
All of us silent, we rode the elevator up three hundred stories. Upon a hive world like this it was a given to have a building of such calibre, but I was from an Agri world called Elbyra, though it was not one without great cities; Varander the capital of my home country, Velrosia was a bustling and beautiful metropolis, it was the city built upon the northern most part of the coast of lake Varander, a lake so large it could have been classed as a sea, I spent the majority of my teenage years living in that great city and then there was Varanier the capital of Elbyra's largest nation; Maranger that was an amazing city in itself, harsh and sparse it was a metropolis of granite and grit, a true embodiment of its hard people.
Neither was anything on scale term with even the smallest of hives, some which packed three times the population of Velrosia into an area the size of the smallest Varanderian suburb.
This planet was long dead, the intense human colonization and pollution had sucked away the natural eco system as naturally as those people that preserve it on my own world, but always when we rid up to the top of these three hundred stories it would make my dreary, deathly day worth it, it gave me great satisfaction to glimpse the might of nature, that despite man's wanton destruction the horizon still held a beauty all in its own; over the clouds of pollution the sun dominated everything , that far, far out in the distance the peaks of the mountains of the world broke out into the clear, clear air, looking like icy white islands in an eternal sea of black and brown, that despite everything each mountain top contained life; I read allot of research into this world and found that a one in a million plant, which had the sheer power and audacity to evolve and survive in well below zero temperatures and it thrived on these mountain tops it was a true testament to me.
Of course I have kept this romanticism private; no self serving mercenary should be like this, as much as I have seen so much death and grim darkness I still somehow hold onto slight aspects of my sixteen year old persona, the foolish, naive persona that had dominated my life before I found out how unforgiving and horrible it was to live in this universe, that was why I am having second thoughts, I was beginning to doubt whether I could handle the damage the life of an assassin could cause, both physical and mental.
No the damage it will cause.
I sighed to myself, attention stapled to the outside world, hoping like hell my back facing to Elandria and Garrakson was enough to hide my myriad emotions.
Then it happened, what I dreaded most, the end of the journey.
"300th story; Master Taryst's living quarters" said the elevator's pre-programmed, monotone voice as the ascent abruptly stopped, 'restricted access retinal scan required.'
My jaw set and I glanced up to the no less than the three cameras which crowded the elevator with their damnable presence.
Surely Taryst was watching the feed? Surely over the dozens upon dozens of times we had rode up and down this elevator the rogue trader could discern who the hell we were.
I could tell that Garrakson shared my teeth grinding frustration as the ex guardsman stood and waited for few seconds, then with a heavy, defeated sigh of his own he finally lent down to the scanner.
"Employee 568; identified as Jeurat Garrakson" said the computer, "access granted."
With that the doors slid open and we stepped through, into the room beyond.
We entered into Taryst's lavish living quarters, Elandria in the middle with Garrakson and I on her left and right flanks, red was what dominated Taryst's private little world, a deep, dark, bloody crimson.
The windowless corridor was five metres wide and ended abruptly only four metres down, what ended it was a thick crimson curtain.
Two straight backed soldiers wearing golden, ostentatiously emblazoned carapace armour, stood silent guard at each side, both had equally fancy hell guns slung on their shoulders, I had never seen their faces nor talked to them before but every time I came up here, I could not help admire their discipline and stoicism.
But by far more interesting I have never been behind that curtain before, always Taryst would meet and greet us here, Garrakson I knew had passed through and I was sorely tempted to ask the ex-guardsman but was not yet able to bring myself to do it, him and Glaitis...
My curiosity at what was hidden felt like it ate away at me, it could be anything; a secret shrine dedicated the Ruinous powers? A den of sin and hedonism? (That could be a shrine to one god in particular, but I would rather keep from uttering its name)
But I was not sure if I truly wanted to know, no I wanted to see, that was without doubt but whether I should was an entirely different question.
I was finding more and more that in this universe, ignorance could very much be bliss (which is ironically against Glaitis' teachings)
I sighed to myself; it was far too late for me to have such thoughts, long ago I had passed that event horizon and had travelled even further ever since, short of having myself lobotomised there would be no going back.
Just like my dear old damnable dad.
"GREETINGS MY DEAR FRIENDS!" the deep voice boom suddenly down the corridor and the boss himself stepped out from between the curtains.
I winced, though not in fright but in contempt, every single time he would greet us this way. And it every single time it smacked of utterly forced, fake enthusiasm.
To be honest I had come to suspect Taryst of withholding secrets right from my first week of employment under his regime and how could I bloody well not? And even if I had told Glaitis' that, it would still have been far too late in her lofty opinion.
"My friends!" he echoed as he approached us, "my friends!"
Taryst was a big man, standing well over two metres tall, big boned and corded with muscle he was an intimidating figure.
His strong jawed face neither handsome nor ugly but a strange in between, his tanned skinned was complimented with a thick, black goatee and his pearly white smile was glaringly bright and like his greeting, utterly fake.
In fact over the last few months I have started to notice that Taryst had aged, now there were dark, dark bags under his eyes and a wrinkle here and there had started to appear, being utterly paranoid would do that to someone.
I wouldn't trust him as far as I could frigging throw him, this was emphasized even more by the research I have had done into his past...The tiny amount that was able to be found.
"Attelus, Jeurat!" he paused at Elandria and with surprisingly gentle dexterity for such a large paw took her hand in his own, and lightly kissed the back of her palm, "mamzel Elandria, what news have you brought me today?"
My jaw set hard and my face turned murderously dark as I saw Elandria blushing like mad.
Garrakson cleared his throat; he was the only one used to the Rogue Trader's over the top extroversion, "my lord we have arrived at yet another dead."
Quickly, almost violently Taryst let go of Elandria's hand, got back to his full height and turned on his heals so his back was facing us, "and Callague, Javus?"
"I am not sure sir."
Taryst spun back to Garrakson, his face an edgy calm, "and what does it mean you are not sure?"
Garrakson shrugged and I could not help be shocked at the ex-guardsman's dead pan tone, let alone what he said; "I don't know sir, meaning that they are either still lying in the pools of blood we left them in or in a Magistratum mortuary either/or."
Taryst grimaced ever so slightly and just for a second he looked like his three hundred years.
"I-I am sorry to hear that."
Garrakson stayed stoically quite, not abating his gaze away from Taryst's.
Taryst turned away, "and as well as no news on your target?"
"Ziltch," answered Garrakson, "no sign of this Brutis "Bones" yet sir he is quite the enigma."
Now that's the frigging understatement of the millennia, I thought.
"Then what exactly happened?"
Garrakson sniffed, "they went immediately hostile sir, ambushing us as we entered their base of operations, even with our aliases. We managed to fight our way to their cogitator banks but found the memory all wiped. I haven't seen such ferocity since I fought in the guard sir, from what I gathered if we captured and tried to interrogate one of the hammers we would be wasting our time, they were like cultists sir."
"This Brutus "bones" must be getting very influential in the local gangs if they will fight for him like that, the crazy bastards."
"And you two agree?" asked Taryst, looking almost desperately to Elandria and I.
Elandria nodded and only blushed her attention to the floor, meanwhile my cheek pinched and twitched as I said; 'yes.'
I could not be bothered with a more detailed response; I just really wanted to get out of Taryst's presence.
Taryst grimaced again, more distinctly this time.
"Alright another dead end it is then!" he exclaimed with forced humour, 'and quite literally too.'
The only one who laughed was Elandria, both Garrakson and I, not so amused.
"Okay then and I thank you all for the update and I apologise for Callague and Jarvus they were good men', then he turned away and began to walk back to his curtains, dismissed all."
"Oh and young Attelus," he said, suddenly halting his tracks and making me stop in mine as I began to leave, "come! I very much wish to speak to you!"
That was very much the last thing I wanted to hear.