001>> Set Time=00:00 where hab/chrono=THDOE0906/637(26)
Baumis hurried down the hall, dodging neighbours and the occasional vagrant, pulling his coveralls on as he went. Chance and a quirk or orbital dynamics had let a weak beam of sunlight find its way through Rann 4’s filthy atmosphere and through the crack in his hab window shutter to finally crawl across his face to wake him. The chrono at his bedside, normally so reliable, had failed at some point in the night, and his alarm had not sounded.
002>> Mass lifter 0085377/52636 Door open where level=-60 Override=Yes
He reached the lifter bank and hit the call button, relief flooding him as the arrival chime rang almost immediately. The heavy bulkhead began to grind open, and Baumis went to step through when he heard his name called. Ma Grisim was waving him over, doubtless keen to engage in some meaningless gossip about the governor and his family. Baumis mouthed an apology and swung back, stopping at the threshold as he noticed the yawning gap where the lifter platform should’ve been. He gasped as he caught the leading edge of the door and pulled himself back.
‘Are you alright, dearie?’ called Ma Grisim from down the hall.
Baumis waved her off, took a last look at the drop and headed for the stairs.
003>> Transit line 34-Kappa Terminus 348-3 set stop=null
Baumis didn’t stop as he left the stairwell. Sixty-four flights dodging the dregs of the previous night’s revellers had been exhausting, but he was already late and getting later. The mid-morning smog was burning away, and the hive gleamed dully in the light of the system’s sun. Great pennants hung from the side of the tallest spires, commemorating the once-in-a-milliennia conjunction of the constellation known as Dorn’s Belt. The systems colloquially called the Seneschal, the Templar, the Castellan, and the Praetorian were lining up with distant terra for the first time in nearly nine hundred years, and the Ecclesiarchy had proclaimed eighteen days of celebrations. The local populous had taken it very seriously, and the streets were paved in empty disposable liquor containers and discarded streamers. Scummers from the sink were picking through the detritus for scraps of salvage and lost trinkets,
Baumis jogged to the transit line to find a small crowd gathered in front of the ticket office. The tired-looking official peered out from behind the scuffed armaglass while frustrated commuters yelled obscenities. It only took Baumis a moment to see why, the departures board above the beleaguered ticket seller showed cancelled. For everything. Baumis checked the chrono on the board. He was late, but he could still make it. Hemiki had been really very insistent about his punctuality. Almost alarmingly so, in fact. Now, if he could find a rickshaw, he stood a chance.
004>> Select Ridtek Systems where Servitor location=<5km from 1743:9749 set maintenance mode=full
The servitor driver stared blankly ahead. It was the fifth one Baumis had tried, but all the semi-mechanical rickshaws were shut down. A sliver of tape ran from the credit machine announcing scheduled maintenance, duration unknown. Baumis spotted one of the giant screens that were counting down to the conjunction. Not long, not long at all. He might just make it if he ran.
005>> Upload image…All enforcers, arrest on site, suspect Baumis, R. Lethal force authorised.
Baumis ducked behind a pile of rubbish sacks and waited for the running footsteps to fade into the distance. He had no idea why the local procurators were chasing him, but he had no intention of stopping to find out. Confident they had gone, he snuck down the alley to the unobtrusive door hidden at the back. Weird, he thought he would’ve seen one of the grey-robbed watchers guarding the entrance, but there was no one. He went in and made his way to the hall at the back, smoothing down his clothes as he went. He was late, but hopefully, that wouldn’t matter too much.
The hall was dim. A few candles guttered on the floor, throwing scant illumination on what looked like mounds of clothes. Baumis called out, but no answer came, so he ventured further in. A scent caught in his throat, the tang of copper, and he gagged. As he approached, he could make out the details. Seven mounds of clothes turned out to be seven bodies, their necks a ragged mess and their vitae covering the symbols carved into the rockcrete floor. The symbols hurt his eyes, and he heard whispers, just on the edge of hearing. Seven bodies. He was supposed to meet Hemiki and the others. The other six. Baumis turned and fled.
Back on the street Baumis walked slowly back towards his hab block. A young woman stopped him, still in her cups from the night before and embraced him. A street vendor passed him a cold iced wine. The late morning sunlight played off the spires, making them shine golden. Baumis felt like a weight had lifted. His brush with death making him feel more alive than he had in years. He stopped at a crossing, waiting for the lights at the junction to change. A firm hand pressed against his back and pushed. Baumis staggered into the street, turning to admonish his assailant and missed the cargo-8 bearing down on him before it was much too late.
006>> run cleanup.exe execute
Clade Vanus Operative Theta Epsilon 6
Alert Vermillion Level Threat
Ritual at conjunction of ‘Dorn’s Belt’ to be halted.
Prevent arrival of key sacrificial elements by any means necessary.
Delay or terminate.
About the Author
Andy Clark is an avid reader of all things Warhammer having rediscovered the setting with the Horus Heresy series. He’s recently got back into painting models after a two-decade gap and wonders why he ever stopped. This is his first foray into writing 40k fiction.