Classification: Civilized World
Prefecture Able, Subsector Isulis
Angelos Hive, Sub Level 12, Precinct 77
Ordinate Quaestor Sera Centis studied the man before her.
The man was relaxed, smiling easily, holding an air of refinement, nobility, and superiority. Orimus Hera, Rogue Trader, borne from High Calixis. Hera seemed amused by the Quaestor’s presence, propped in his chair, swathed in fine garments, rings, dark hair braided and adorned with gold that sparkled almost as much as his amber eyes. He was handsome or beautiful. The Quaestor was certain it was one or the other.
Ordinate Quaestor Centis, of the Divisio Auditae had concerns. She directed his attention to the cold and bright data slate before her on the table.
‘Please note the issue I have discovered upon auditing your bill of lading against the ship manifest and inventory.’ She indicated with a pale finger the numbers highlighted.
Hera adjusted himself and took the slate into his hands. He tossed the slate back down.
‘I see no issue.’
‘Perhaps not,’ she nodded, taking the slate back up and cycling through a couple of lines of data, ‘it is a relatively minor issue. However, I would be remiss if I did not address these to our satisfaction.’ She indicated the badge of her office.
The Quaestor continued, ‘The Divisio has absolute authority in this matter, and demands that all tithes and declarations are accurate. No matter if it’s 114 kilos of mass discrepancy, or 100 pallets of vellum. The Scales must be balanced.’
Orimus snapped upright, eyes glinting hard and fierce.
‘You waste my time over 114 kilos? This can be explained for any number of reasons! Atmos recycling, pressure changes, wasted cargo, evaporated moisture. You detain me, drag me from my business, scare off my partners, and parade me in front of your soldiers for 114 kilos? Any and all of these are likely explained by variance.’
‘That is true. However, the variances have been accounted for. I have run the calculations myself. The original variance was 371 kilos. I’ve been able to justify all but 114.’
‘Then you’ve made a mistake.’ He slumped back with arms crossed.
‘That is improbable. Let’s walk through the process together.’ Centis pulled up more calculations and data to reference.
The Ordinate Quaestor notes that Orimus Hera did not object to her calculations or data. The math worked. No mistakes.
‘Please explain this variance.’
‘I don’t know what you want me to say.’
‘Speak the truth, Trader,’ she implored softly.
‘You’re making a terrible mistake.’ Hera shook his adorned head.
‘The data indicates that I have not. And I will be submitting these findings to the Ministorum, the Arbites, and the Sector Naval Detachment. The consequences are far ranging and, I believe, will be crippling to your business, if the Scales are not balanced. You will be censured and sanctioned.’
Orimus looked mournful. Dejected, he hung his head, shaking from side to side. He wiped his face with a bejewelled hand and looked upon her once more.
With tears in his eyes, he pleaded.
‘Ordinate, Sera, please, do not pursue this. You are a gift, a wonder, an innocent lamb. Please do not go any further. By the Emperor’s Golden Light, let it be. Your life is not worth 114 kilos.’
‘I cannot release you from this. The Scales are Uneven. I have finalised my findings due to your reluctance to submit. You are hardly in a position to make threats upon my life. In fact, I am the only person in the galaxy now that can help you.’
‘Damn your Scales. And damn your Divisio.’
His face changed from a pleading countenance to that of determination and patrician scorn.
His hand produced a thereby unseen Rosette. His other hand produced a stowaway compact bolt pistol that discharged into her chest as soon as the Ordinate recognised what the objects were.
Outside of the interrogation room, two scribes approached the two standing sentries, who turned to answer the pistol’s retort.
With extreme precision, the scribes buried their glistening obsidian knives into the Arbites’ chests two times each.
Inquisitor Hera knelt to sputtering Ordinate.
He cradled her head.
‘What was the 114 kilo discrepancy?’
The Inquisitor’s retinue of Interrogators dressed as scribes entered the chamber and began securing an escape route.
‘It was a Culexus. I regret this, Ordinate. The Ordo Hereticus has spent too much time on this operation, and this mission is too critical. I wish you hadn’t been so damned precise.’
She nodded, gulping down air.
‘I made a mistake.’
About the Author
Mario has been a fan of Warhammer since 2007 when his friend invited him to a table top day and gave him his first Black Library book, The Gaunt’s Ghost Omnibus.
He is currently painting his first ever 40k army- The Raven Guard.