July 23, 2010
July 19, 2010
Darkness has taken you, leaving you endlessly falling into an empty oblivion without sight or sound: a cold iron table and a bright light above you, the mocking voice of a child, the reeking stench of beasts and raw meat, weightlessness, the hammering of great machinery, and finally, fetid black water oozing beneath you and chill winds stirring foul air.
You wake slowly to find yourself paralysed in cold darkness, your voice silent and your body limp and useless as a rag doll. You are helpless to speak or act, or even hold your thoughts together, but you can hear the ragged breathing of others in the dark telling you that you are not alone in your fate and feel the bone-deep ache in your limbs confirming that you yet live.
Sickly green lights flicker on in the walls, and a dozen figures appear, wadin shin-deep through rank waters to the cold platform on which you and the other tangled forms hang. They wear ragged cloaks over dark body armour, their faces are covered by grotesque animal masks fashioned from glittering metal and stitched skin. Each mask is different, one a hound, one a serpent, another a swine, and so on, while the leader wears the gilded visage of a Jackal with crimson teeth.
Chains are released and you are dumped into the ice-cold filth of the water with the others, all are helpless, heaped up like in a mass grave for the living. Each of you is swiftly and perfunctorily examined by the masked men like livestock in a market. The Jackal Mask barks a curt order, and he and the others back away swiftly into the darkness.
Frost creeps across the walls, and the waters beneath you grow cold as the grave, as from the darkness of a human-shaped, spike-studded metal cabinet comes into view, pushed along by two stunted and misshapen figures. Another shadowed form, tall and lean, hangs back on the edge of sight behind them.
Horror is heaped upon horror as the cabinet is opens to reveal the severed head and mutilated torso of a young woman floating within in a column of unearthly light. The woman’s eyes snap open and cruel white light floods out. You feel the stabbing claws of a vile force invade your mind with its polluting touch as you and your fellow captives finally find voice enough to scream.
The force withdraws suddenly as the iron cabinet snaps shut. A silver-clawed hand rises from the darkness and indicates three captives turn. The misshapen figures lunge forth and drag them screaming into the darkness where they are abruptly silenced.
Mercifully you are not among them.
The light fades and oblivion takes you again.
You awaken once more to find yourself in a wide, circular, high-sided pit, perhaps some fifteen metres across, along with a number of fellow captives. The ground is covered with moist, reeking sand and is littered with broken bones and other detritus. Set into the rusted metals walls at irregular intervals are spiked and studded iron gates of varying shapes and sizes and flickering lumen globes recessed behind heavy mesh. Some six metres above you, the walls of the pit are topped with sabre-like, inward-curving blades and loose coils of corroded razor-wire. Beyond is a blackness from which you can hear the distant rumble of heavy machinery.
(You’ve no gear, no body armour, no weaponry. If you had armoured clothes, you’re in your underwear. If you had armoured underwear, I hope you’re not shy. The characters feel generally beaten up and quite groggy.)
July 18, 2010
It had been a seven month chase, personal time. Curiously, thanks to some odd motions during the warp, it had also been seven months real-time. At least so it had read according to the lone Imperial orbital high above the feral swampworld.
The acolytes, acting alone from Pitgober as had become tradition now, throughout the half-routine, half-taxing persecution of the Beast House, had landed several miles around the hillside from this last enclave. They travelled with Pitgober’s prime, Pater Tran Holbert, his Navigator, Shen Sa’Hal and some others. The Beast House had accounted for the loss of three accompanying acolytes; Benedictine Prathus Hand, Mentor Hank Hossman and Sister Tresti Olek. Talon and two elite fighters had since departed the enclave to pursue five escapees who fled into the swamplands. The stench was unbearable.
The enclave itself was a non-standard pre-fab, some large towers, a single L patterned office-hab block, a wide concourse for the beast pens and a scattering of smaller garages and warehouse sheds. The pens were still full, the fighting merely minutes concluded. The slaveholds were empty. The site was still not fully secured. The Rogue Trader, Estansen Ronto, having insisted on accompanying the acolytes on this mission, stood with his back to the other acolytes. He was swearing profusely at what seemed to be a site-wide scanner system. Financier Hank Scunner waited with his las-rifle raised and his eyes darting, scanning the visible complex. The Navigator waits, entranced and attuning himself to the locale. The prime, Holbert, looks to Petr, surely about to ask him to assess the site’s systems.
The dead Beast House foes had put up fierce fighting though were now quite comprehensively defeated. Their leader had died almost immediately, the rest had been surprisingly competent veterans, though ultimately few in number.
“I’m in here, by the way,” came a distant, very familiar voice. Petr straightened immediately, his mechadendrites tensed in arachnid unison. Vehekar knew its flow very well. Ventilator had expected it. Ronto, the trader, appeared unfazed, he continued to swear. Hank’s lasrifle jolted towards the pens. Holbert’s mouth dropped, his eyes narrowing in the same direction. The navigator did not react at all.
“Hello?” asked Uriah Tahr.
“And thus you see the lesson for the eighth hundredth time; foresight leads to a more wholesome, more complete kill. And sometimes a packaged corpse of fresh meat too.”
Talon stood in front of the blackboard, deep in Pitgober’s own library. She was clothed in hunting gear, as was Vehekar. The piles of books mounted high across the desks, their search more than thorough.
He shook his head. “In this case, I don’t seek a kill. The Beast House are cornered and I desire the last lieutenant planetside, alive.”
“Perhaps I misspoke,” she said, squatting. “This last lieutenant can die, it is his prisoner we truly seek as a unit. Have you figured out the identity of the prisoner?”
Vehekar remained silent, he scanned the books intently, the feeling of immitation about him. He scowled at the books, realising similarity.
“Petr’s rage,” he breathed. Understanding washed across the Lychen. “Does he realise? Does the Inquisitor hope to test us?”
She arched an eyebrow. “Who really knows, Vehekar, who really knows?”
“This is it: adieu, old friend,” said Silon, garbed in the raiments of Sinophia”s new Warden-General. The techpriest stood calmly on the windy starport, waiting to board the orbital shuttle.
“Indeed,” he said bluntly. “It has been a…fortunate episode. I bid Sinophia sees prosperity, that I need never return.”
Silon accepted the logical end gratefully, though still felt somewhat numb to the man.
“The Omnissiah’s blessings on Ronto’s ship, I’m sure. Your role under Pitgober should be … fruitful. Good day, Petr.”
“Good life, Silon,” he said and turned to join the others.
Later, as the shuttle drew to orbit, Silon’s comms blipped as Agent Talon responded to his earlier inquiry.
“Indeed, Enoch,” said Talon, the orbital line surprisingly clear despite the horrendous weather above Sinophia Magna. “Pitgober’s route correlates with the pursuit of Sale, seems likely that the pursuit of the Beast House is little more than a ruse. Still, I can’t deny…it seems surprisingly thorough. I tcan only hope Uriah hasn’t taken up an interest in beasts…”
It was the original meth-lab used by Silon & Petr to peer into the shard. Now Verbal and Silon shared an easy drink at the same bland table.
“You’re still a bent cop then,” stated Verbal with an ageless smirk.
“Who isn’t in this trade?”
“The Arbites will take a dim view, as will Pitgober. The Malleus aren’t to be messed with, you know this as well as I. It’s pure luck, or perhaps skill on their part, that Sale and Uriah haven’t been found yet. Marr still stands custodian for Sand?”
“Last I heard, he did,” said Silon as he ignored his friend’s warning. “Unlikely that it’ll change the Sector’s policy with mind to this rock. My rock, soon,” he toasted with a wink.
“Ambition won’t take you all the way to Terra, Enoch…”
“No, but it might set me through to a long, pleasant retirement in the forty-second millenium.”
“Retirement from what? The Inquisition won’t forget about you out here,” continued Verbal, his gaze lingering on the Warden’s neck. The Warden, Silon, simply chuckled.
“No, I suppose they won’t, but they might forget about you. This Pitgober seems to be going after the Beast House for some inexplicable reason. He’s hired some Rogue Trader to ship you out, Estansen Ronto, I think. The last glimpse I saw…it looks like you’re eventually bound for destination: Strank.”
“I’ve never heard of it…”
“You’ve never heard of the Stenchbeast?”
“Oh,” said Verbal, his burned face fell.
It was late in the evening in Sinophia Magna when Ventilator finally graced thed office of the new Warden-General, Enoch Silon. The office was largely barren and undecorated save for the handful of curious gadgets and artefacts, surelyy some of Silon’s own additions.
“Ventilator,” said the younger man as he indicated the bare metal chair. “Please, sit down”.
The lingering psy-scent of previous occupents thoroughly populated the room, Ventilator detected several highly distinct, almost distinguished trails.
“Who has been here?” He asked bluntly.
“One Inquisitor Hans Pitgober and staff, of course,” Silon said casually. “Ordo Malleus, actually. He’s a protege of Marr’s, though they’re somewhat estranged now, I understand. He’s been overseeing the cleanup here and, if I might say so, he’s rather happy with the job we’ve been doing.”
Vent was possessed of an overwhelming expectation that Silon was about to have said, that he still want to say, that it was his job, not the team’s. Nevertheless, the newly instated planetary Warden continued apace.
“I even think we’ve managed to contain word of your little escapade with the shard, though it cost us a pretty penny and involved reacquainting myself with some people we’d best not speak of yet, not until Petr’s in a more concillatory mood.
“Still, that leaves us with a rather problemaatic conundrum facing us. Pitgober will leave the planet soon, a new senior Arbite has been put in place, as has the planet been reordered back to civility, barely. Agent Talon is already in Pitgober’s service, I understand Mr Vehekar will be joining her for the next few assignments off world. The Technomancer too is expected to join them within a few weeks and Mr Verbal, our own scarred paragon, will be joining Pitgober’s lead cell.
“For now, for yourself, I understand I could be of service…Pitgober remains within the building, well shielded thanks to his staff. He will not resent discussion with you and your…unique insights into events.
“Perhaps,” he continued conspiratorially. “He might even have a certain job for yourself, something to take you far from this … distasteful episode.”
The Warden blinked once and stroked a finger along the gorget he wore under his darker grey shirt.
July 8, 2010
One Day 12/01/08
It’ll be January and I won’t have exams. Ah, one day…
But, today’s the day of the first exam of 2008. Complex Analysis. Been revising for it and I feel…apprehensive. I almost know most of the stuff, but there’s every chance I’ll wake up tomorrow and know none of it.
Trigonometry and hyperbolic trigonometry.
Buckets of trigonometric tricks
Cauchy’s Integral Formula
Singularities & Zeroes
Residues of Simple and higher order Poles
Logarithmic Deriviatives and Logarithms of Complex Functions
The Argument Principle
Hmm, I can remember most names of parts of the course it seems, so perhaps with a night’s sleep tonight I’ll be ready for 9.30 tomorrow morning to actually sit the damned thing. Hopefully. Maybe, just maybe.
Aha! I knew I’d missed something. Laplace’s Equation, Harmonic Functions and the complex variable itself! Now I should be good to go. If only I’ll actually remember it all. Next two exams are Wednesday/Thursday being Atoms/Relativity respectively, which should be….insane on revising for. Then Pure a week on Tuesday. It begins again, I fear. Perhaps I’ve kept improving, perhaps this’ll reveal itself to be the cost of an extremely happy six months? An extremely bad set of exams? I imagine it weill. But then, my imagination can run wild sometimes. (more…)