Disclaimer; I do not own any rights to the wondefully creative and elborate world of Warhammer. This is merely for my own amusement, and perhaps the entertainment of others.
Against the line of expectation
Again standing in this wretched cold, Peter thought. This is shaping up to be the newest low of my duties…
Inquisitor Peter Malas, obsidian level second class of the Ordo Inquisitore, was standing in the docking bay of the planet's off-world transport area, waiting for confirmation. Confirmation of the most darkest kind. He waited for confirmation of death.
For the forth time that evening he pulled a small dataslate out of his breast pocket and swiftly reviewed it again. The glowing green runes displayed the progress the Inquisition had made with the interrogations and prosecutions, not to mention the executions, on Celtus Prime. As the Ordo feared, the influence of the warp in the time of the occupation, which ran for nearly two decades, had been extensive. The numbers on the slate were not portraying a very optimistic picture. No, Malas thought, the reality is far more bleak and grim than we would have wanted it to be. The number of identified psychers was already in the twenties and rising, and that are just the people turned psycher by the insane Chaos proximity. The psychers born and bred by that vile Chaos spawn, those were the real threats in the area. And the Inquisition had trouble locating them.
Malas cursed with a closed mouth. He had not aired his feelings yet to any of the overseeing high Inquisitors, but in the pit of his stomach he felt the influence of Tzeentch. For a moment the saliva in his mouth tasted like a mixture of copper and promethium fuel. The skin on the back of his scalp tingled. Bah, Malas thought, even the name itself gives you the creeps. Tzeentch, the changer of ways as they called him. Malas had seen many cultists in his already admirable career, but the cultists he witnessed on Phero Lunar had impressed him the most. He shivered. All the cultists simply out there to cause as much carnage as they can, or conquer as much space as they can are manageable, the imperial troops could deal with them. But complete chaos zealots, high in dedication, purpose and in tactical shrewdness, those were the ones they all had to fear the most. And now, he feared them to be here…. He shivered again. But not because of his suspicions, no, just of the cold. Damn it was freezing!
Two weeks before he had been standing here, right on that very spot, waiting for the special package that was being send. A Culexus assassin, send out by the Officio Assassinorum, to deal with the more powerful and yet uncaught psychers. He remembered everything, even though he tried to forget it. The unnerving presence, the glowing eye, the unmatched feeling of terror and nausea. Malas shivered again. This time not entirely from the cold.
Two days ago he had received word from the Culexus, calling for a meeting. Or at least he had received something for the darn creature. Nothing, not one sign of it had come to his attention since the moment it was set loose here on Celtus Prime, and now just this. The encoded message was little more than the coordinates of the spacedock, illustrated only by the word "contact". Some back and forth communicating with the diplomatic branch of the assassins guild told Malas that the beast had identified and neutralised a contact, and was bringing him in. Malas didn't even bother to ask how the assassin would bring the psycher back to him. He shivered yet again. The cold kept having less to do with it. He put away the dataslate, and pulled his gloves back on. Great Emperor it was cold! The temperature made him breath slowly, forming thin, white clouds in front of him, the cold slightly stinging the back of his throat. To warm himself up a bit, Malas started pacing around. Just to keep his muscles going. Four paces from the entry door to the pile of crates to his right, then three paces to the low boxes on his left, and six paces back to the door. He walked the concourse a few times. He relaxed a bit, the track took his mind off things a little.
The sixth time he crossed the floor from the door to the crates he saw something approach from the far end of the hangar. Or rather, he heard something come his way. A strange, scraping noise, like someone was dragging some heavy, metallic object across the cement floor. Malas stopped his little marathon, and looked around to see where the noise was coming from. It continued for a few seconds more, and then disappeared into the shadows. Malas frowned, and a disciplined hand was already reaching for the small needlegun on his belt. Slowly, without taking his hand of his gun, Malas took a few paces forward, trying to pierce the darkness of the cargo hangar, only lit by the lightbar hanging above the door behind him. He quickly turned when a small can clanked against the steel door behind him, sounding impossibly loud. He felt his heart rate jump, and his blood pounded in his ears. His needlegun was pointing at the can, the hairs on his arms and neck standing straight up.
"You need to calm down my dear Peter, stress can be murderous you know…"
Malas' heart leapt up, and he swung the gun round again. With his breathing fast and irregular, he scanned the dark side of the hangar again, looking for the source of the voice he just heard. He couldn't see anything. Just long shadows, and large stacks of crates. Cold sweat was forming on his lower back.
"Are you calm yet Peter?"
Malas jerked the gun to his left side, covering the wooden boxes.
"I would like to talk to you, but not like this…."
Malas' left hand crept to his left hip, where a small forcerod was stowed away. If this was some freak psychic attack, he would be partially protected by the psychic hood incorporated into his clothing, and he would at least have something to strike with. His eyes sprinted down the boxes and crates stacked all around him.
"In the name of our hallowed Emperor, show yourself!"
His words were brave enough, but somehow the dark seemed to absorb the strength of it. A whisper answered his call, coming from everywhere and nowhere.
"Well, if you're sure you're up for it……"
Nervously Malas traced his gun around, preparing himself for the worst. From behind one of the crates a scruffy, dull brown dog with sagging ears walked into the light, and sat down on his filthy tail.
"Hello Peter, so nice to meet you in person at last..."
- ∞ -
"What was that ?"
One of the junior officers on the command bridge of the Navy Frigate Righteous Endeavour woke up with a start, now looking back at the dark screen in front of him, the one he was supposed to be watching. His fellow communication officer looked at him from his own console.
"What was what?"
"I…I... I thought I saw a small bleep on my radar screen, it kinda looked like a distress beacon, though I'm not sure…."
The other looked in disbelief at him.
"A distress beacon? Coming from where?"
The first shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
"Well, I…I don't really know…"
"What! You mean you think you saw something, but you can't even say if it's true or not? Oh man, I'd make up my mind quickly if I were you, before old rusty comes and…"
"Comes and what lieutenant?" a raw and smoky voice growled behind him.
Both men jumped up from their seats, throwing a salute.
"Sir, everything is orderly and quiet sir!"
Executive officer Herman Grolep, watch commander of the communications bridge, affectionately dubbed 'Old rusty Bones' by the crew because of his two artificial legs made of steel, eyed the two men suspiciously.
"Mmm, I'll bet."
He stiffly walked to the centre of the room, and with some discomfort he sat down on his chair, overviewing several screens displaying statistics and background static. He tapped a few buttons, calling up the communications logs of the past four hours.
"Nothing yet from our pretty boy down on the surface? No call for help yet?" he asked the two slightly cowering men.
The second shot the first a nervous glance, while the first felt the muscles in his buttocks clinch.
"Sir, well, I…I…"
"You what lieutenant?" snarled Grolep.
The fist man ducked a bit more behind his console.
"Well sir, I...I may have…"
"We don't work with dontknows and maybes here lieutenant, so either you report something or you shut up and watch that damn screen of yours!
So what's it gonna be!"
Only the tip of the lieutenants head was now visible over his console.
"Everything quiet and orderly sir…" squeaked a small and wavering voice.
"Good. Now I want to keep it that way tonight, so try not to doze off you pea brains."
Bahg, Grolep thought, they can't even get me any descent men these days…
- ∞ -
Behind his back Malas was frantically pushing his distress beacon, trying to communicate back to the ship. He had 14 men of the Corps Inquisitore waiting on the vessel he travelled with these days, the Righteous Endeavour. On his command they could be on the planet's surface in under 15 minutes. Although this situation was unexpected, Malas always carried a small beacon in a pouch on his belt, so he would never be totally surprised and cornered. Once activated the device should display an acknowledgement from the other party, telling the person handling it that the cavalry was on its way. But…
"You know what the problem is with technology and electronics? They are so.…. so delicate, and easily put aside."
Malas' eyes widened as he saw the affirming green light on his palm size device blink and fade out.
"Fortunately, we don't need such devices now," the dog remarked, "nor the additional men, it's just you and me dear Peter, perfectly alone."
"Who are you?"
Malas could not believe he was about to have a conversation with a dog. He tried reminding himself that the animal was possessed by some daemon or psycher, making it nothing like a dog anymore; it was a form of the wicked, an outer shell used by the vile.
"I believe that I am a dog currently, a mongrel usually lurking around the lower parts of the habs. And I think I have flees running around my ass."
The mutt used one of its back legs to scratch its back, but kept looking at Malas. And was that a smile on its face? Malas shook his head and blinked his eyes, but there was no mistake about it. The sides of the canine's mouth were strangely pulled upwards, into a mockery of a smile.
"What's the matter Peter? Never saw a smiling dog scratching its ass before?"
Malas forced his breathing to a regular rhythm, trying to assess the situation.
"I want to know who you are, not what you're using to show yourself."
The dog slowly shook its head.
"Oh Peter, why concern ourselves with such petty formalities, I'd have thought you to be more intelligent."
In his mind, a million thoughts were racing past, the one more futile than the other. He needed to think, to get out of this deadlock. But how! A little voice in the back of his mind, brought up by the rigorous training of the Inquisition, provided him with a slim piece of hope. Stall him, keep him busy till you can think of something else.
"What do you want of me?"
"Aaahhh, direct and to the point. That is what I would expect from an Inquisition man… What do I want with you?"
The dog tilted his head a little, giving that smile a sinister look.
"Well, I would like you to leave me alone. Not that I didn't appreciate the personal attention you have granted me, it was most flattering, but I would really feel a whole lot more pleased if you would leave me in peace. My plans are intricate enough, so my concentration is needed there. I really don't have time to play with you Peter, even if it is quite entertaining."
It took a few second for Malas to absorb and analyse the information, but something began dawning on him.
"The attention was simply to get to know each other, I meant no offence…"
"Well of course not Peter, and I don't hold you responsible for anything. It's only natural that you would react the way you did, it's the way you've been trained."
The dog stood up and walked to the stack of low crates to the left. It sniffed around a little, before it turned and lifted its right leg. Malas could see a dark puddle form on the floor.
"That just impolite, not to mention disgusting."
The dog chuckled.
"A dog's gotta do... I think this mutt had to go since this morning, it was getting quite pressing."
Suddenly Malas pulled out the forcerod from his hip pouch, and together with the needlegun pointed it at the beast.
"Now tell me who you really are, no fooling around."
The smile on the dogs face dropped a bit. Silence hung in the air. Nothing moved.
The smile broadened again.
"Why Peter, isn't this interesting…."
Without taking its eyes of the inquisitor the dog slowly walked back to the crate it first appeared from.
"My name Peter is of no importance, not yet. For now it will suffice for you to know that it's useless and dangerous to look for me, and that it's advisable to leave this planet now, before anyone else gets hurt."
Strengthened by the two weapons Malas grinned, and relaxed his muscles a bit.
"I don't thing you're in a position to make any demands. The Guard has taken down all remaining defences here, the cult has been rooted out. It's only a matter of time before we catch each and every one of you."
The dog stopped smiling.
"Yes, that was very impertinent of you. Quite annoying. Though not unexpected….."
It turned its head, and looked back into the shadows of the hangar.
"Leave now Peter, no need to stay here and be doomed. Go find your fortune elsewhere, I'd hate to see you die…"
Malas felt his temper rise. No beast of Chaos was going to address him like that. He was no pet to be ordered around.
"You filthy psycher" he hissed, "I will not be fooled by any of your guiles. And I swear to you, I will use any means necessary to stop you."
He powered up the forcerod.
"Starting right here."
A blast of blue, crackling energy sprouted from the tip of the forcerod, hurling itself towards the animal. Momentarily the entire hangar was bathing in a blue haze, as the ball of psychic energy exploded on the dogs back.
- ∞ -
Malas pulled down his hand he had used to shield his eyes, and looked down at the spot where the dog had been standing. Two eyes, dark like the fabric of space, were staring back at him. Malas could not help but look, and felt himself disappear in the immeasurable depths of those eyes. It drained all speech out of him, leaving him standing there, soundless and alone. The very air in the hangar stilled as if commanded to flow no more.
"Never do that again."
The dog didn't move its head or jaw, the voice was just there.
"Now for the last time, let things be Peter Malas of the Ordo Inquisitore. Let them be, and live…"
Before the dog walked past the crates it made one simple parting remark.
"And do leave the assistants at home, no use in sending out such inadequacy….."
It took a full minute for Malas to regain the feeling in his legs. Slowly he walked down the line of crates, to the spot were the dog had been standing. He looked down a corridor of crates, its end lost in darkness. Warily he edged a few paces forward, though he was sure the animal had to be gone by now. He froze as he felt his toe connect with a heavy object. He glanced down, and utter disbelieve and panic flooded his mind. He was looking down at a compact warp generator, its short barrel shaped in a circular form, like a great eye. Only this time, it generated no colour, heat or terror. Lifeless it lay there, a weapon without any power. A weapon that had once belonged to a very strange creature. Now only a dead machine, with a fragment of white skull attached to it. The shiver that ran from Malas' toes via his spine to his brain, was violent and painful, but not from the cold…
- ∞ -