Hadrian's Ascension


The smell. That’s what he first noticed. It smelled of dark and damp, juxtaposed with the sharp smell of antiseptic. Opening his eyes he sees that he lies in a solitary pool of light strapped to a table surrounded by darkness. Hearing movement he turns his head and sees a man dressed in surgical clothes inspecting some instruments. Noticing his inspection the man turns and addresses him with a smile.

“Ahh, at last you’re awake! I’m eager to start you see. It’s rare that I work on a member of the Mechanicus so I’m quite curious as to the efficacy of our standard techniques on you!”

“What do you mean work on? Why am I restrained?” Hadrian responds in concern.

“Forgive me, I have gotten ahead of myself in my excitement. I owe you an explanation before we begin.” The unnamed man begins checking Hadrian’s bonds. “You have been in service to Inquisitor Sand for some years now and you are known to be well versed in various forbidden areas of knowledge. While that is necessary in your line of work, it is also concerning.” Satisfied with his examination he nods and continues passionately. “We must be sure of your purity. We must be certain that you are worthy of our trust. I warn you, it will be painful. That is the only path to the truth. Most recently I’ve been working with techniques in bone breaking. I may break every bone in your body before we are satisfied. Fear not! If you pass these tests I will make you better than new! Now, let’s begin…”

Hadrian wakes suddenly. Bathed in a cold sweat, he sees the man standing beside his bed and his still waking mind imagines he is in a new permutation of the now familiar nightmare. A breath later he realizes the truth.

“You.” Hadrian says flatly. His voice tight with anger. “If I had a gun I might not be able to overcome the temptation to shoot you.”

“Now, now. There’s no need to be like that.” Says the unnamed man, smiling ruefully. “I did warn you, and I kept my promise. Your body is even better than it was when you came to me. Or it will be once you’ve recovered. I’ve reinforced your bones by wrapping them in a lattice of plasteel.”

“I do not think that it is worth the price. The experience haunts my dreams.” Hadrian responds heatedly.

“In time I hope you’ll recognize the necessity.” The man gestures to a gleaming wooden box on the small table next to the bed. “Consider this a get well present from me. May it guard you well.” He then gives a short bow and leaves the room.

Hadrian stares after him for a time. Eyes unfocused, lost in thought. His eyes are then drawn to the box. Curiosity compels him to pick it up and inspect it. The smooth, polished wood of the red box almost glows in the light. The imposing “I” of the inquisition is engraved in the lid. He finally opens the box and finds it lined with black velvet, with an exquisitely crafted Hellpistol nestled within. Hadrian smiles grimly at the irony. Lifting the gun from the box he notices an inscription engraved into the butt; “Quaerere Veritatem, seek the truth” he translates out loud.

Several weeks have passed since his ordeal. As he has done most days since discovering the riverside veranda, he is whiling away his time reading in the sun and watching the people sail their pleasure vessels leisurely down the river. Not for the first time he glances at the door and marvels at the dichotomy of his experiences on this world. On the other side of that door is torment and agony, but here outside the world goes on in peace and contentment. Bathed in the warm light of a brilliant yellow star and enveloped by humidity, even his nightmares seem reluctant to come into the sunlight and instead lurk in the darkest corners of his mind. “Soon I’ll leave this place behind. Patience” Hadrian thinks. “I’ve obviously been found worthy as I still live. Eventually they’ll get around to telling me that” he muses. And so he passes the time reading on most days, trying to relax as his strength gradually returns.

The sound of the door opening makes him look up. A man in well-tailored clothing closes the door and approaches Hadrian where he sits reading, gives a short bow, then introduces himself. “Magos Hadrian Augustus Line, it’s a pleasure to meet you. You may call me Varius. I’ve been assigned to instruct you on your status, may I join you?”

“Of course.” Hadrian responds, gesturing at the seat across from him. “I’ve been hoping such a conversation was coming soon. I’d like to return to my duties.”

“I’m sure. And now that you are recovered you will.” Varius slides a data slate across the table. “This slate is gene coded to you alone. On it you will find your new authorization codes. These combined with your new badge of office will open many doors for you.”

“Ah yes, I had noticed the new electoo.” Hadrian says, looking at his left arm where it lay dormant.

“I advise you to be cautious when using Inquisitorial authority. It can close doors as well, and it may draw unwanted attention” warns Varius. “The codes will also allow you further access to the archives and to more proscribed areas of research. I’m certain you will use these resources in the name of the Emperor.”

“I serve for the good of mankind.” Hadrian responds formally. “I assume Inquisitor Sand is aware of my status?”

“He is, and he’s expecting you to contact him now that you are released for duty. I believe he has a job for you…”

Hadrian's Ascension

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