Inquisitor Trequill was feeling somewhat more charitable towards that Ordo Xenos spook, Nelthas, since she had loaned him her ship and Navigator to speed him on his journey. The ship, the Nostramus, was a spartan thing, barely light cruiser class, but he had to admit; it had it where it counted. His stateroom was as plush as anything he could want, but more importantly, the ship was outfitted with the most advanced Mechanicus systems available. In fact, much of it was entirely unfamiliar to him; reverse-engineered Xenos tech, he assumed. The command deck was a wedge-shaped structure three stories tall lined with matt-black cogitator stations each connected by a snaking mass of cables to a silent and immobile servitor dressed in the crimson and brass of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Some of these stations would light up at unpredictable intervals as their particular functions were activated, the servitors suddenly twitching to life. At the crux of it all was the navigator fulcrum, a transparent sphere of greenish fluid held in place by arcane field generators.
The Navigator in question, Dom Hellaith of house Sennesh-Constantine-Matsumishi, was a horror to behold. Yet despite the flapping gills, translucent skin, protruding eyes, bulging forehead and purplish veins; she was apparently considered quite the catch amongst the young eligible males of the great houses of the Navis Noblite. She came with a host of suitors and sycophants – hideous unrepentant mutants all. The worst part was she was apparently in the midst of some sort of extended copulation ritual, evidenced by the obscenely throbbing device that attached her and several of her suitors together at the nether regions. This device, he was told, ensured that only the finest seed would be the source of the next scion of the Navis Noblite. Just the thought of it made his skin crawl. Never-the-less, Dom Hellaith was supremely proficient at her job. They had made the transit from Schindelghiest to Cypra Mundi in merely six weeks, traversing nearly the full breadth of the galaxy, loosing only 22 days Imperial standard time. Dropping out of warp after a seemingly endless stretch of boredom, Trequill was absolutely stunned to see the grand spindles of the massive space station of Cypra Mundi filling the view ports. Not as stunned has his quarry would be, he was thinking…
The stop at Cypra Mundi was unfortunately necessary as he needed to check in with the Segmentum Obscurus Ordos command. The wait in the foyer of the Ordos sanctum was interminable. The chamber was vast and cold; but owing to the fact that it was limited by the confines of a space station, it was not nearly as excessive as similar Ordos edifices he had visited in his travels. Never-the-less, the expanse of glossy black marble and towering ornate statuary was clearly designed to impart insignificance to those who waited. No less than seven other Inquisitors loitered here waiting their turn for an audience with the High Lord. Each was a singular presence, some surround by a host of exotic henchmen. He recognized only one by reputation. The massive suit of golden baroque terminator armor was an image widely circulated on the pictcasts and could only mean he stood in the presence of the Witchunter Borros.
The hard-line puritan was flanked by a squad of stormtroopers in immaculate white carapace, arrayed in perfect formation. Borros stood stone still reciting scripture as he patiently waited, making no effort to engage anyone in conversation. Treyquill was extremely thankful for that. None of the dogma Borros would inevitably spew was of any interest to him what-so-ever. In his opinion, Borros was the embodiment of the worst the Ordo Hereticus had to offer. That kind of blind adherence to doctrine was everything his master, Onrholt, had preached against his entire life. Unfortunately, Borros’ aloofness was not shared by everyone…
The wizened Ordo Xenos Inquisitor, Glaxx, endeavored to engage him in conversation nearly the moment he walked into the room. The ancient and invalid inquisitor was held erect by a spindly brass apparatus and maintained by a host of support servitors. He obviously had a wealth of experience to impart, unfortunately, his conversation consisted of a stream of disconnected trivialities interrupted constantly by inane contributions from his sycophantic hangers-on Trequill heaved a huge sigh of relief when the nuncio called Glaxx into the audience chamber.
Free at last. Treyquill spotted a refreshment servitor and immediately snatched a glass of something and downed it in one gulp. Absinth – and a good vintage, he grabbed another glass in each hand before the servitor scurried off. He made a bee-line away from the rest of his fellow inquisitors and stood looking up at an ornate tapestry depicting some bloody event in Imperial history – just which one he wasn’t quite sure... He took another drink and noticed an individual who sat silently in a shadowed corner nearby surrounded by four intimidating Grey Knights. At that moment, Trequill realized he stood alone. Strangely, he had brought no entourage, he was traveling light these days and he was beginning to like it.
“Grace,” a breathy and cultured voice said from the shadows.
Treyquill wasn’t quite sure what that comment referred too. He let it hang in the air for a moment before he replied.
“Indeed…” he said neutrally.
“Nocturne, the Enigma Cabal, I remember thee,” the shadowed voice said.
A host of memories flooded through his mind, mostly consisting of death, darkness, and desperation, yet he could not place that exquisite voice.
“You have me at a disadvantage,” he finally admitted trying to get a glimpse of the speaker between the hulking forms of the Grey Knights.
“We have not met, yet greatly thou have aided me, though you knew it not. I offer my thanks,” the shadowy speaker said.
Just then the nuncio came into the chamber and rapped his staff loudly three times on the marble floor. “Inquisitor Treyquill, the High Lord will receive you now!”
“Fare well in your endeavors,” the breathy voice said.
“Until we meet again,” Trequill replied with more conviction than he felt. He doubted if they would ever meet again or if he would even recognize her if they did.
As the massively tall doors parted Treyquill ventured one last look into the shadows and saw the figure stand. Long raven hair and a finely sculpted porcelain face were the last impressions of her that he took with him; along with that voice that would haunt him for years to come…
The audience chamber of High Lord Melphas was as ostentatious and obnoxious as anything he might have imagined; and Trequill could imagine quite a bit. It was vast and designed to be awe-inspiring; at least forty stories tall and twice that distance long, decorated with massive gilded sculpture and impossibly tall marble columns. Surprisingly, it was not a singular audience chamber; in fact at least two other Inquisitor Lords and a half-dozen Adeptus Arbite Judges were simultaneously conducting proceedings in this chamber. The general din drowned out most of what was going on in adjacent venues, not to mention a good portion of the critical information imparted in the individual sections. The High Lord’s dais was somewhere several stories up, Treyquill could only vaguely glimpse it.
Trequill knew High Lord Melphas from his youth. While still at schoolagem, Melphas was an occasional and dynamic lecturer emphasizing the importance of deductive reasoning. Even then, he was a morbidly obese individual. As the years passed he grew into a nearly unrecognizable grotesque mass of bloated flesh made marginally mobile by the resources of the Adeptus Mechanicus. On this day, only his voice bore any resemblance to the man he once knew.
“Oliver!” That deep, rich, jolly voice resonated in the chamber. “I remember you well, those bright eyes, that sharp tongue…”
“My Lord, I am honored,” Trequill bowed deeply.
“Nonsense, let us speak intimately,” Melphas said.
Suddenly, Treyquill found himself rising smoothly and rapidly from the floor. When he reached the dais level he glimpsed copious amounts of Imperial splendor, but his attention was focused on the High Lord’s seat. Melphas was far less the man than he was expecting. His once corpulent bulk was now a pile of pale flaccid skin. The skeletal structure of his face was actually visible beneath the sagging folds.
Treyquill bowed once again. “My lord, you look… thinner…”
Melphas gave a low liquid chuckle. “Yes, I suppose I do. Cenobite parasites will do that for you,” he chuckled one again. “You look… dangerous…”
Treyquill snorted in surprise.
“No, really, you have cultivated an aura since I saw you last, what, fifty years ago?” Melphas said.
“Perhaps, or maybe it is merely the fact that I’ve been spending too much time in the company truly dangerous individuals…” Treyquill offered.
“Hardly, I have always recognized your dangerous intellect, I think it is only now just starting to shine through,” Melphas said. “What’s the word from the Charadon Sector?”
“The Tau have been acting up,” Treyquill said.
Melphas sniffed. “Better than a Tyranid invasion or Chaos incursion, I suppose.”
“Such an appraisal would be unwise. The Tau are a more significant threat than most suspect, but then that is a matter for the Ordo Xenos. “More importantly for us, Inquisitor Lord Dolgath has identified a considerably more insidious threat,” Treyquill offered.
“Dolgath… Your old schollagem mate, yes?” Melphas frowned. “As I recall, at the last congress, Inquisitor Yerth forwarded a motion of Excomunicatus against him. No others backed that motion, but it stands as a serious matter none the less.”
“Yerth is a twit!” Treyquill spat.
Melphas chuckled, “Yerth is but a tool, to be sure.” He took a long moment before he continued. “However, you may be certain other, more dangerous, individuals proposed that motion…”
“As you know, I am a true student of Onrholt,” Trequill shot Melphas a long significant stare. “Dolgath has become a radical, that much is clear, yet his record of service is exemplary. For nearly twenty years he has been in exile, but when the call to service came he answered the challenge without hesitation. New Boston would have fallen by now without him. Moreover, he has thwarted two significant threats to the Imperium – at least one of which was a truly ancient evil…”
“Yes, I read the reports. And now they are here, all the way across the galaxy in Segmentum Obscurus, on Mordian in fact!” Melphas exclaimed.
“They are merely husks now; they cannot harm anyone unless they are reconstituted… Yet, this cannot be allowed to happen. It is my purpose to snuff out whatever remains of this evil so that their shadows never again darken the galaxy,” Treyquill said.
“This is a worthy mission,” Melphas nodded without hesitation. “You have authorization to access whatever resources necessary to accomplish this goal.”
“My thanks…” Treyquill started to bow.
“You realize the success of this mission will likely vindicate Lord Dolgath in the eyes of the congress?” Melphas asked.
“I do,” Treyquill finished his bow.