Hefting the small cutting torch,
Kaarl eyed the safe speculatively, how best to cut open the safe?
Perhaps cutting around the edge of the door? Or maybe burning a hole
through the locking mechanism? Kaarl began melting a hole down through
the heavy lock plate.
It had been a long frustrating day for Kaarl. Long hours spent standing in lines moving from petty bureaucrat to petty bureaucrat trying to retrieve information about the Cartage Capitol Holding Company and the Ship Children of the March. It had proved a nearly impossible task, not helped by the fact the Kaarl, and most of the other acolytes, were completely unprepared for it. After hours of moving from one smug adept to another in the huge overcrowded building complex that contained the Port Authority and Master of the Docks, they were able to obtain only one small scrap of information, the address of the Cartage Capitol Holding Company.
The Information came not a moment too soon. Fifteen more minutes of that nightmare and Kaarl new he would have snapped. As it was Kaarl had been barely able to contain the frustrated rage building inside him. The other acolytes had seemed to move easily through the hot crowded rooms even stopping for a moment to inquire into the problems of a ship captain missing a small amount of cargo. Not Kaarl, he had stumbled through the crowds, hands balled into tight fists, speaking only in strangled monosyllables, unable to make eye contact with any of the adepts, afraid that if he did he would lash out with all of his accumulated rage and try to beat the information he need out them. It was only later, as they ate a bad tasting mid-day meal in a port eatery that he was able to come up with a solution to the bureaucratic red tape that had impeded him.
Next time, he would simply shoot the first adept that was slow to assist him.
The thought made Kaarl almost giddy. In a flash of imagination he saw himself standing over the dead body of one of the civil servants that had sneered at him earlier, smoking pistol in hand, nearby bureaucrats cowering in terror. Except in his imagination it was not Kaarl as he was now. No, it was inquisitor Kaarl, the seal of the inquisition resting among a hundred other medals and seals of authority on the breastplate of his power armor. A Kaarl who would never be looked down on. A Kaarl who with a single word could marshal the forces of an entire planet to achieve his aims, respected Kaarl, feared Kaarl.
That momentary flash of imagined and excessive revenge passed through Kaarl like an electric shock. Kaarl was not normally a man who dreamed of the future, or planned for the next day or even the next hour. Kaarl allowed events to carry him forward and worked only to survive the situations he found himself thrust into. He kept his head down and did as he was told, usually. Now, in an instant, things were different.
“Inquisitor Kaarl” he thought, smiling like a shark. That had a pretty good ring to it. He reached his hand inside his armor and touched the inquisitorial seal that rested there, the seal felt hot to the touch. The power the seal represented, the respect that it could bring, and the fear that it could inspired suddenly thrilled Kaarl to the core of his being. He knew now that he had ambitions, grand ambitions, and maybe, just maybe, thanks to the badge of authority he wore, he had a slim chance of achieving them.
If only he could survive long enough.
Burning through the safe locking mechanism had not worked and despite the large hole in the door the safe remained tightly sealed. Kaarl frowned. Maybe burning through the door hinges would work? Kaarl commenced cutting.
The rest of the day had gone somewhat better. They had traveled to the Holding Companies location to find the companies warehouse apparently abandoned, closed six months ago. But appearances were deceiving, the neighbors to either side confirmed that shipments did still move through the abandoned warehouse, but now shipments came only irregularly, and only at night.
It was decided that the empty warehouse should be investigated. Working quickly in the blistering heat the acolytes broke into the warehouse through a hole cut by Kaarl in one of the cargo bay doors. Kaarl gleefully, if inexpertly, used his new cutting torch bought on a whim weeks before.
They discovered very quickly that warehouse was not completely abandoned. Two guard dogs had been left free inside to protect it. If you can call clawed, hairy, 8 foot tall creatures watch dogs. There was a brief fight which ended with the last creature’s head being pinned to the floor by Kaarls bayonet.
Kaarl felt much better about the morning’s experiences afterwards.
A search of the warehouse turned up a small safe hidden under the floor of one of the offices…
Cutting through the safe hinges had not helped either. Finally, Kaarl resorted to cutting away the entire face of the safe, peeling away the now red hot door with it. Eagerly he looked in…
Inside were the charred remains of what might have been photographs and the melting, smoking, ruin of a datacard…
*Tumble, tumble, tumble* a 6 and a
Well, the port master must be...that way, then!!! "The dice say it's over there...:"
Why aren't they following my instructions? Don't they know the warp is never wrong?? WE'RE NEVER WRONG. NEVER!!!!
*Rattle, rattle, rattle* a 1 and a 2...
"That way, now..."
How is the pistol? The pentagrams are rubbing off! I should etch them in blood next time. Blood is supposed to last...it always lasts...THE BLOOD OF A BABY!!!! No, no...that would be wrong...
Who is that man with the frill around his neck and the woman in a body glove standing next to him? She has such pretty CLAWS, LARGE AND RED LIKE A LOBSTER'S!!. No, no, that was before. Now she just has human hands. Interesting. Now just nails. Long CLAWS...no...nails. Long...
He's yelling. They're always yelling. There's something about him...something not quite right...
Over the body he stands, younger than now, smoke clearing from the barrel of the gun he's holding, the former captain of the ship lying on the deck, his brains peaking out. The ship is his, now.
All his. No one will know. He
scrubs the blood up. Blood...blood...drip...drip...blood.
*Rattle, rattle, tumble* a 4 and a 3. Mediocre. The story is always the same. Man kills man. Always for himself.
What's that orange beast dropping from the roof? Is that real? Or another vision? Kaarl is screaming, Praetus is screaming...must be real.
Just a moment, to see it in the warp, reach out to the blackness...point the gun at it and reach out to the blackness...eyes roll up and...
...the bullet is receding, coming back out of the femur, the blood is going back into the leg...BLOOD, ALWAYS BLOOD...the flesh is knitting back up, the bullet is flying
back, through the air, between
Kaarl's legs, over that mote of dust, under that hanging lamp...back,
back...into the barrel of the gun, back to lie in the chamber under the
hammer right before I...
...point the gun ***AT THAT SPOT*** and pull the trigger. Forward now, fast forward now, a sped-up blur...the orange beast spins, its leg explodes, it lands wherefrom it rose in the warp. THE WARP.
They shuffle through papers now. Layers. Layers of paper and burnt ash of pictures...pictures that show...mustn't look. LOOK. Sometimes it's best to just close your eyes and ignore the...
LOOK!!!!!! Will they listen? Will
they look, too?
*Tumble, rattle, tumble* a 6 and a 6. Most. Top. Best. ONE "6" SHORT OF HAVING YOU, VICTUS!! Sixes...in the dark...when I was 6.