Faith and Betrayal
Catching up with the Past
The Starlight Hotel – Hive Hospice
Planet Cantus – 13 Years ago
Rain splintered the roof of the seven story building causing a low static to block out the noise from the ground below. A shallow pool of rain-water swept across the boots of the stationary assassin curled around the butt of his rifle. The man shivered slightly beneath the dense tarp cover he had carefully erected a few hours below as his eye stared unblinkingly down the crude scope.
His cross hairs hovered over a dark shape moving admits the windows on the fourth floor of the building opposite the hotel. A large crowd had gathered in the conference room but the assassin kept his bead on a single large mass making its rounds through the other occupants. Far beneath them all, on the flooded streets below, a convoy of dark limousines rolled up to the curb and began to unload the important occupants they carried.
“The Chancellor’s convoy has arrived… T-minus thirty minutes before the meeting starts.” A gruff voice cut though the earpiece embedded in the assassin’s ear, but the solitary figure made no move.
“Roger. Tracking the target now…” The minutes crept by as the cold rain water began to pool higher and higher around the crouched assassin. He fought the shivers rippling across his arms in an effort to keep his aim true. Ten minutes into the wait, he noticed the crowd beginning to thin and the dark mass he had been tracking come clearer into focus.
“The delegation is thinning…” The assassin whispered, his grip tightening around the weapon.
“Stay calm. Keep to the time table.” As the gruff voice came over the earpiece again, the assassin saw his target take up a stationary position for the first time in nearly half an hour.
“The target is docile… I have a clear shot…”
“Stannis… Keep your head and wait.” As the assassin’s gaze ran through his scope he clearly saw the face of the planetary governor rolling with laughter from some inside joke. The governor’s bodyguards had moved away from the windows and the rolling mass of fat that was the assassin’s target was in clear view.
“We don’t know which room they’re meeting in… I have line of sight now…” The assassin’s voice jabbed through the cold dreary air. He could barely keep his teeth from chattering but his hands were perfectly still, ready to take the shot.
“No. We don’t have any intel on the interior. The shot’s too risky.”
“Waiting is too risky…” The assassin’s tone had raised as he saw the telltale signs of his target beginning to move. The governor would only be in position for another few seconds before disappearing once again behind the velvet curtains lining the window.
“Stannis, do not take that shot… Do you hear me?” The assassin’s grip tightened and he shifted his weight onto his back foot. “Stannis? Come in!” The governor’s figure was less than a second away from fading from view. “Stannis?!” The voice coming over the earpiece was a barely distinguishable yell, but the assassin paid no attention. Silently, he exhaled his breath and squeezed the trigger.
The muzzle of the rifle flashed but the dim noise it made was inaudible over the hum of the falling rain. There were a few moments of silent crystal clear static drifting through the air before the first scream echoed from the conference room.
Deep Behind Enemy Lines
Planet Kulth – Thirteen Weeks Ago
The roar of a truck spewed across the jungle canopy, invading the silence the lone Vindicare had been enjoying for the better part of an hour. Beyond his cover, he watched the high-topped covered assault vehicle speed past and come to a stop a few hundred yards away. Within seconds, a squadron of guardsmen had spilled out of the back and were busy unpacking their gear.
The sergeant waded back from the cab of the truck with a lit cigar burning between his lips. He slapped one of the soldiers on the back of the head and yelled something the assassin couldn’t hear. With a salute, the soldier climbed back into the truck and disappeared from view. The sergeant barked orders to the rest of the squad and a few soldiers quickly stood up and barred the back of the convoy, locking the first soldier inside.
The watching Vindicare edged forward a few inches and brought his rifle’s scope up to his eye. He watched silently as the Sergeant began yelling at the men and slamming his fist against the truck’s door. The assassin smiled beneath his mask as he heard the rustling brush and faint war-cries reaching out through the jungle.
The next few moments were a blur. Green-skinned humanoids burst from the trees and attacked the group of soldiers without warning. Automatic fire and yelling filled the air as the battle raged on. Exhaling, the assassin brought his crosshairs up and took a bead on the nearest green-skinned head he saw. As he fired, he watched the air around his target evaporate into a crimson mist.
Like clockwork, the assassin began to make his rounds. His scope lined up a shot on the head of one of the soldiers, fired, then realigned on one of the green-skinned figures. The entire group of combatants began to fall one after another, regardless of which side they fought for. Inevitably, the assassin’s crosshairs lined up on the sergeant and the resulting shot sent the half burnt cigar flying into the underbrush.
The aftermath of the bloodbath was grisly. Bodies from both sides lay motionless in the path and a pool of blood was beginning to form beneath them. The Vindicare crept forward and began to wade through the carnage. His pistol made short work out of any unfortunate survivor he came across, and eventually the assassin made his way to the caravan’s lock. Pulling the bar aside, he pried the door open and peered inward.
Seated in the very back of the shadows with a lit flamer draped across his lap and a blank expression on his face was the soldier. Wrapped around his neck was the tell-tale explosive collar which marked this regiment of the penal legion. His deep dark eyes shot out of the darkness and he slowly walked forward into the light. As he climbed down from the truck, he turned to the assassin and eyed him quizzically.
“You’re the last person I expected to see….” The soldier spoke with a calm voice, showing no reaction to the carnage around him.
“I felt it was time you rejoined society, son.” The assassin’s gruff voice came out of his mask’s speaker and seemed to dissipate into the air soon after. The soldier hefted the flamer on his shoulder and looked around.
“You sure took your time about it…” He spoke, inspecting the bodies of his comrades. “Why now?”
“He found him…” The assassin pulled out a faded picture and presented it to the soldier. The man took it and stared at the faded picture of a small gunslinger as the assassin continued. “But there have been complications…”
“Complications?” The Soldier didn’t take his eyes off the picture, running his hand over the five letter name sprawled in familiar handwriting at the bottom.
“I’ll tell you along the way, Stannis…” The assassin began marching down the path towards the caravan’s destination. The soldier stood in confusion as he shrugged his shoulders.
“Where are you going?”
“To take the outpost… That is your mission isn’t it?” The assassin looked back over his shoulder as he spoke. The soldier flailed his arms around at the bodies laying before him.
“But you killed my squad!”
“I know…” The assassin beckoned him forward and kept walking. With a sigh, the soldier bent over and picked up his sergeants fallen rifle before following the assassin without a word.