Dhakkans Cell #1: "Freeing
Lilitha": Guardsman Kaarl's Tale
Keep in mind, Kaarls point of
view is highly colored by his personal prejudices and attitudes!
Disrespect, thats why I was
there. The locals had no respect for a uniform. A soldier gets a
liberty and he wants to have a good time! He doesn’t want any trouble,
but then there was that disrespect, and somebody had to teach them
didn’t they! So I taught them some respect, and next time they see the
uniform of 93rd ‘Cutas they’ll be right and proper respectful.
Course I got hands like
spatchcocks* and I must have taught some of them a little too hard. I
don’t recall exactly. It had been a long night lifting the glass and my
memory is a bit soft around the edges. All I know is at some point
everything went dark, and when I woke, I found myself in a cold cell
underneath the Governors palace with nothin’ but a bucket and the too
tight explosive collar of the penal legion locked around my neck. You
might think that was the worst; but no, the worst was, having little
Ish’* standing outside my cell in his dress blues, looking in at me
with his unnatural eyes* and moaning about having to spend the rest of
his liberty guardin’ me when he could have been off makin’ the rounds
with the local poxie brontie. Not a good recipe for a hangover cure I
can tell you.
That and the screamin’, the
screamin’ was no help either. A woman-girl she’d been screamin’ when I
first woke up and she hadn’t stopped since. Emperor knows how long
she’d been screamin’ before I woke but she coulda screamed on forever
in that dungeon and nobody would have ever heard her. Except on that
night me and Ish’ heard of course. That pitiful caterwaulin’ echoin’
down those dungeon corridors would have been enough to make any man
edgy, and little Ish’ was no exception, so he just had to go
investigate didn’t he? And when Ish’ got back from his investigations
he was pale white and shakin’ with sick all down the front of his
blues. He was so shook up he actually let me outta my cell! Said he
needed the back up, and we should go up and get my gear and weapons.
All strictly against regulations of course, I could have quoted Ish’
chapter and verse but who was I to argue? Besides, that was his never
mind and I wanted to get away from that soul chillin’ caterwaulin’,
that and the already cold cell had dropped from cold to freezin’ in the
time it took Ish’ to find the keys and set me free.
Up top in the palace courtyard
a bunch of unlikely sorts had assembled, strange lookin’ bunch. Only
one that looked like he was worth anything was an Arbite, he had the
badge and the uniform anyway, that’s worth somethin’. By the time me
and Ish’ had my gear sorted out that buncha misfits had decided that
they needed to go down into the dungeon to investigate the “waves of
psychic emanations”. All I wanted to do was to hot foot it back to the
93rd, but something about what Ish’ had seen or felt had got him fired
and he was all for going back down with the rest of them. Well, the
93rd sticks with its own so I got myself ready and we all headed back
down into the Governors dungeon. It didn’t take long for us to figure
out where to go. The screamin' and the bone chilling cold led us to the
right door, a big old iron door covered with frost, the kind of door
that says “Don’t open me if you know what’s good for you!” We’ll we
didn’t, so after some fussing with the keys the Arbite got the door
unlocked and he pushed it open a crack.
That’s when everybody hit the
floor pukin’ their guts out onto the pavers. An invisible wave of sick
rolled out through that little crack like a Lehman Russ and knocked
everybody flat, everybody but the 93rd that is. We hit that door like
the Emperors Elite ready for the anything!
Except for what we found. The
Planetary Governor, book in hand, screaming in some evil soundin’
language I never hope to hear again, lashin’ some chained woman-girl
with an electro-whip, and blood, lots of it, old, dried, clotted, fresh
runnin’, blood, blood, blood.
There I was, Kaarl, mixed up in
the business of my betters. A Planetary Governor in the sights of my
Las Gun and me itchin’ to pull the trigger. Wantin’ to stop that
electro-whip from comin’ down one more time and raisin’ still one more
scream! But that’s not for a plain soldier like me to do, that’s for
the and great and mighty, officers work. Not for Guardsman Kaarl. So
instead I gave him a warnin’ shout over the din of his evil chantin’ in
my best parade ground roar, but that whip hand kept comin’ down
machine-like regular and the chantin’ growl never even slowed. So it’s
“For the Emperor” and charge! And with little Ish’ one step behind, I
made a grab for the electro-whip. But you know, between the slippin’
and slidin’ on the blood and the whip crackin’ dangerous close to the
explosive collar clamped around my neck I never actually laid a hand on
the Governor! The other lot had finished with their sick spell though
so they piled in on him too and quick as you please he was trussed up
snug like a pig at a banquet. Me, Ish’ and the Arbite marched the
Governor down to the very cell where I started the night and locked him
up tight to wait for those that might have an interest in him.
Then things got bad. When we
got back to the bloody room, the rest had already released the
woman-girl from her chains, and time got strange and slow, and the
woman-girl was a demon queen, and there was that kiss.
And a flash of light.
But I won’t talk about that.
Won’t even think about that! And by the time I did start thinkin’
proper again I found we weren’t in the dungeon any longer, oh no. We
were in the open, under the stars, and the Dungeon, and the Governor,
and the Palace, and all the Governors men were burned up and gone. Only
thing that was left was me, Ish’ and the misfits, standin’ in a crater
on a spire of rock with no way down.
That’s where the Inquisition
found us. They took us, questioned us, trained us, and now I’ll be
taking my orders from Inquisitor Dhakken. I’m an Inquisitors man now.
You got to respect that.
*Kaarl rolled the quirk “Hands
like Spatchcocks” I thought it might mean that he has large hands,
hence its use here; however, the only definition I can find for
Spatchcock is “Young Chicken” so I’m not sure what having hands like
spatchcocks would be like. I’ve left it in because I think its
*Ish’ or Little Ish’ is Kaarls
nickname for K.C.’s character Ishmael Havelock.
*Ismael Havelock rolled the
quirk “Eyes like a Cats”.