Hubert was a pen-pusher, so the laspistol in his sweaty grip felt far more alien than whatever was pounding the fortress void shields. The invasion was an abstract to him, a one instead of a zero in a data field. He was separated from it by countless levels of fortress rockrete and plasteel. This far down you barely knew when the main orbital defence cannon fired, save for the odd trickle of dust from the low industrial ceiling. No, this laspistol wasn’t for fighting the invaders. It was for killing a human.
They had sent him the wrong chits again! He had warned them! He took his rank of Adeptus Administatum Junior Administrator Second-Class extremely seriously. Without the correct purity chits he couldn’t certify the ammunition for hoisting to the fortress’s primary firing deck. The pneumatic document tube that ran into his office was one-way, and only carried sanctioned chits. Chauncy and Amily knew every time they sent the wrong chits he had no choice but to climb all the way down to their office in the storage magazine to collect replacements. That was a journey he really wasn’t built for. They did it just to see him sweat.
Huburt squeezed the laspistol into his belt as he hauled himself onto the next rusted ladder. He had won the weapon in a game of Armageddon Hold ‘em against some of the Militarum garrison. He could still picture their scowling faces as their sergeant grudgingly slid the weapon across the table. Were they angry because they lost to a pencil-neck? Or did they think his natural card counting skills were cheating? Or had his lecture about improper wagers involving Munitorum assets ticked them off? Hubert didn’t know, he wasn’t a people person. He was glad there was no one around now. He was alone in the long, dark corridors and silent service risers. Everyone was topside, fighting. But the memory of the soldiers’ anger stoked his own rage higher.
Most of that rage was focused on Chauncy. Tall, muscular, handsome Chauncy. The vain idiot liked to boast that he had been accepted for the Tempestus Scions, but at the last moment he’d been transferred to the Administratum because his brilliant mind was too valuable to risk. It might have been true, he certainly had the physique for it.
‘But if that is true, why are you stuck down here as a Junior Administrator Third-Class?’ is something that Hubert had never dared say to Chauncy’s face. But he had certainly brooded on it alone at his desk during the dark hours of fourth shift.
‘If you send the wrong chits again I’m coming down here with my laspistol, and then you’ll be sorry!’ is something that he had shouted instead, the last time this had happened. They had both laughed in his face. Beautiful Amily’s laugh stung the most. He thought they might have had something special, one day. Fraternisation between Second-Class and Third-Class Junior Administrators wasn’t common, but certainly not unheard of. She had always sent him perfect chits, until Chauncy arrived. Then the laughing started. But nobody would be laughing when he was done!
Hubert finally burst into Chauncy and Amily’s office, red-faced with rage and the effort of the journey. He immediately ground to a startled halt, weapon half raised, like a Kastelan robot running out of dataslates. Chauncy was dead. His torso was spread open like a bloody tome on the desk. A lithe xenos-form loomed over his body, mantis arms folded beneath the low ceiling. It looked up at Hubert with a face of squirming tentacles, cocking its head as though studying him. The xenos didn’t look threatened by Hubert’s appearance, it seemed to be simply trying to understand what he might do next.
A flicker of movement in the corner of the room caught Hubert’s attention. He locked eyes with Amily. She was huddled under the table next to the pneumatic chit tube, an assortment of random chits clutched in her arms, eyes wide in her tear-streaked face. She looked at him imploringly.
As Hubert took all this in, he was struck by a moment of resolve. There was nothing left to do now but stick precisely to his original plan. Hubert stuck the barrel of the laspistol in his mouth and painted his brains over the walls of the Junior Administrator Third-Class munitions office.
About the Author
Chris Buxey is a writer, laser safety officer and occasional Tony Stark impersonator. He lives in southern England with his wife and two children. Chris has been travelling the Warhammer 40K universe for nearly thirty years and has so far managed to keep his heresies hidden from the Inquisition.