Faith and Betrayal
Quint didn’t know what to expect as the shuttle screamed downward through the upper atmosphere over what looked like an inhospitable world covered in snow and ice. A chance look at a thermostat in the pilot’s cabin displayed a non-survivable outside temperature of -210 degrees Celsius. Despite the professional, and personal, relationship Quint thought he shared with Coronnia, the Reeve-Captain of the Tormented Bliss would not disclose the name of the planet, or even the sub-sector they were in. She deflected all inquires aside with a sexually playful look at Quint and a comment about how it was a secret and better for both of them not to speak about it.
The shuttle descended closer to the planet’s surface and its low-flying route over treacherous mountain ranges revealed a desolate and unforgiving landscape. The shuttle’s interior heat was on maximum but still the planet’s cold could be felt and Quint shivered a little before Coronnia’s body moved to rest comfortably against his- close enough to share body heat, but not so close that it would be taken as an expression of affection by the crewmembers present.
The shuttle’s machine spirits suddenly blurted out a series of alarms and the pilot and co-pilot frantically started working dials and chattering on the vox. “Defense batteries are tracking us Captain. I’m sending the authenticate codes as we speak.” The alarms quieted down and a sudden descent brought the shuttle in a valley where up ahead almost concealed by the surrounding snow and ice-covered mountains two structures could be seen. The shuttle was clearly going toward the structures- immense blue white-colored bastions hidden in the middle of nowhere.
…That was two hours ago. Quint was now in one of those structures, which he had since learned was part of a hidden Logician base called the Spa. Upon arrival, he had been received by armed men and women, thoroughly searched and scanned, subjected to a thorough medical exam and now found himself unarmed, but wearing very comfortable clothes sitting at a table with good food and amasec in a simple room that was bare of any decorations. Nearby two men wearing gray-colored adept robes stood and watched Quint from a respectable distance while a third brought more amasec and food for Quint and the man across from him.
Stignus Tai looked at Quint with a friendly expression as he took another sip from his glass of amasec, his finely-crafted augmetic right eye was laced with minute lines of gold and its golden pupil seemed to sparkle. The Logician agent was Quartiz’ principle point of contact for his work with the heretical tech-cult and while Quint had never personally seen the man commit acts of violence, he had heard many stories from credible sources that the man was not one to trifle with.
So far the conversation with Stignus had been a pleasant affair, and the two sounded like old friends as they shared jokes and friendly banter while Quint relayed the events that took place on the planet of Faldon Kise where Quint located, but failed to retrieve, the exterminatus weapon that the Logicians were seeking. Quint talked about the strange agent of unknown allegiance named Lotus, who died detonating the exterminatus weapon, the Genestealer Cult, and his subsequent capture by the Dark Eldar and later release. At the end of Quint’s report Stignus sat in silence for a long moment sipping amasec. Quint busied himself with eating and drinking, not wanting to interrupt his handler’s thoughts.
“So,” Stignus broke the silence, “the exterminatus weapon has been expended and Lotus is dead.” It seemed more a statement than a question and Quint simply nodded his head in response. “Most unfortunate,” Stignus continued, his tone had changed, but Quint was not sure how to read the new inflection. “Quartiz, there were many operations counting on the success of recovering that weapon. I’m afraid this information is going to upset our superiors.”
Quint countered with the presence of the Genestealers, the civil uprising going on in the city, and the agents from various organizations dogging his every move. All this Stignus received in silence but appeared to be listening.
“I believe that your mission was compromised by a variety of obstacles, some of which indeed appear to be out of your control. Unfortunately, those we answer to will not be so easily appeased. You have valuable skills and talents, and I would like to continue to put those to good use, but I think that we will have to introduce some insurance- insurance to ensure that you have the best interests of the organization in mind when performing your work.
Quint looked at Stignus trying to hide the confusion that he was experiencing regarding the meaning of Stignus’ words. He started to open his mouth to make an inquiry but he suddenly felt woozy and unsteady. He gripped the table for support. His amasec glass fell from his hand and shattered on the floor. His vision was starting to blur as Stignus’ voice continued in the background, “Quartiz this is certainly not personal as I rather enjoy your company, but loyalty must be assured.”
Just before his bionic eyes ceased to function, Quint was dimly aware of three more figures entering the room. His grip on the table finally faltered and he fell to the floor. As he lost consciousness he heard Stignus talking to someone else, “Magos Caerivus, update me when you are finished.”