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Thread: The Secundus

  1. #21
    Chaplain Scorpius_78's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    The Eye of Terror or PA i get the 2 mixed up

    Re: The Secundus

    Good stories take time man. And I think we are all willing to wait to see this great one continue.

    As always keep up the good work
    We will fight are way to Terra its self, drag that corpse of leader off his Throne and throw it at the feet of are gods

    Quote Originally Posted by x-esiv-4c View Post
    If you have even glanced at the codex:Ultra then you know for a fact who Marneus Calgar is. Infact, if you replace the name Jesus with Marneus in the bible...You actually have codex:Ultra.

  2. #22
    Librarian Kravunhive's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    London, UK

    Re: The Secundus

    Finally an update for The Secundus! As usual, feedback and comments welcome... Hope you enjoy.

    -|[ The Secundus ]|-
    -[ The Pits]-
    -[ part 1 ]-

    “It is only just that those who have shunned the rules of Imperial Law be sentenced to do hard time. It is also just that they will do even harder labour.” - Anon

    Hard labour. The term can be defined in so many different ways. The Secundus casts the phrase in a whole new light. There are very few convicts who can escape the mandatory work details. Every inmate at some point will take a trip down to the Pits. And if the guards have it in for you, maybe you’ll stay down there.

    Deep beneath the surface, labyrinthine mine sprawl into the darkness. Under armed guard, the convict chain gangs chisel away and the world’s rocky foundations, tracing the seams of the precious metal, Malleus Obscurite. A single tonne of this extremely rare metal can fetch a pretty penny on the Commerce Markets. It is so valuable that inmates use it as part of a crude monetary system with the prison complex.

    Creatures lurk in the darkness. Dribbling mutants slaves toil to meet production quotas. The unbearable labour and the exhausting heat are enough to break any man. To serve with a work detail in the Pits is a daily encounter with death.

    + + +

    Chief Custodian Agrippa exited the relative protection of the central Security Tower at the heart of Block 5, Sector West 16 and marched onto the yard of base level. Several dozen other custodians, all of who were geared up for the start of another shift on day cycle, flanked him.

    The guards wore thick combat vests and were armed with suppressive power mauls. They flowed through the levels of the prison in groups, spreading out around the tiered gangways and taking up positions on the stairwells.

    Agrippa his loved his job. Not many of the other custodians could say that. Most were here only for the pay. But for Agrippa it was more than that. It was the routine and discipline. Years of service in the Imperial Guard had honed his being. He’d paid in blood and lost an arm as well for his servitude. Before becoming a penal custodian he’d worked as a Schola Progenium drill instructor but babysitting snivelling whelps didn’t challenge him enough. When he heard about the Secundus from an old friend, he signed up as soon as he could. A decade later he was still here. The power he held over the scum of the Imperium fuelled his ego. He had worked hard and earned his position as Chief Custodian of Block 5.

    The caged animals glared at him behind the iron bars. Almost anyone of them would kill him if they had the chance and knew they’d get away with it. But he utilised methods to subdue their violent, primal instincts. He’d forged a reputation of utter respect through fear. The lowlifes that populated these cells knew only violence and he’d fight fire with fire.

    He panned his head around the prison block, sufficient that his men were properly dispersed.
    He tapped into his vox-bead, 'Ok, open all cells.'

    A series of clang clacks rattled around the block and the buzz of a siren sounded as the operators in the Security Tower flicked the switches to open the cell doors.

    'Count!' Agrippa yelled. The volume began to rise as over eight hundred inmates dragged themselves out of their cells and onto the count line.
    'Rise and shine, maggots. Cell 14 get the lead out! Step up to the mark. Quickly, come on.'

    Agrippa didn’t like them wasting his time; he had a tight schedule to keep. His count officers worked down the lines checking the inmates were accounted for.

    'All souls accounted for, sir!' Voxed his head Countman, once all the levels had reported in.

    Agrippa smiled. 'Ok maggots, work detail. New shift pattern.'

    The inmates groaned and voiced their objections. He strolled the count line absorbing the abuse the animals threw at him. A foolish inmate, voiced his dislike of the custodian and bleated an offensive sexual slur involving Agrippa’s mother.

    Without a second thought the Chief Custodian brought down his power maul squarely onto the mans head. The skull gave a hollow crack and the man dropped instantly, dead. He could take the abuse, it was the animal’s way to try a ware his spirit down, but it didn’t work on him. Disrespect, however, would not be tolerated. The abuse and jeering died away shortly after, although a few voices from the upper tiers could still be heard.

    'Work detail, lets have it. As I call your name step out off the count line!' Ordered Agrippa.

    One by one the names and serial numbers of over one hundred inmates were called out. The ragtag group of convicts assembled as ordered. Tybalt Thorn was a little surprised to hear his name and cautiously stepped out. He looked back at his cellmate, Kolt, who gave him a reassuring nod.

    On second tier, Major Revic cursed as he heard his name called but there was no point protesting for long.

    + + +

    The work detail was escorted out of Block 5, flanked by armed custodians with autorifles. In a holding cell the group were shackled together at the waist. They made a long chain gang that rattled as the walked in a scruffy single file. Their hands and feet were also chained, restricting their movement somewhat.

    Revic had moved closer to Thorn prior to their binding. He smiled. 'Looks like it’s a stretch in the Pits. I hope you’re good with a rock hammer.'

    Tybalt didn’t reply, he didn’t have the faintest idea of what the Pits were, but he was sure he was about to be educated.

    'Stick with me and you’ll come back alive.' Said Revic holding on the final word before the detail were marched out of the holding cell and through a complex series of winding corridors.

    The gang were led out of the Western Wing and into a courtyard Tybalt had never seen before. In front, a huge gatehouse loomed over them. As the gate slowly creaked open, a large tracked vehicle, covered in grey dust and scarred with rust and battered dents, awaited them.

    'Unfortunately, this is where we part ways.' Agrippa said sarcastically. 'Enjoy the Pits, bring me back something I can use.'

    Tybalt hadn’t a clue what the custodian meant by that. The detail was handed over to another team of custodians. These guys carried similar weapons but wore re-breathers and carried rifles with lamp packs slung under the barrels. An officer barked an order and the gang were herded on the vehicle like cattle via an access ramp at the rear. Once the convicts were secured, the great vehicle lurched away on it tracks.

    The ride was hot and uncomfortable. Tybalt had no idea where they were going but for the first twenty minutes the vehicle had been rumbling along on a flat surface. After a short stop the angle changed and he could tell that they were travelling downwards. Revic was behind him and leaned in to whisper to him.

    'We’re going underground, lad. The Pits are mines. We smash the rocks up that the Twists drill out for us. It’s back breaking stuff and if you think you’ve worked hard before, just you wait.'

    Tybalt wasn’t filled with confidence. The work he could handle but the mention of Twists made his skin crawl. Mutant slaves weren’t uncommon in the Imperium, and it shouldn’t have surprised him that they’d be present here on the Secundus. Imperial dogma taught him to cast out the mutant and he had never tolerated them before. But now having to work side by side with them, even being mentioned in the same sentence as them, lowered Tybalts spirits. His spirit sank to a new depth on his first day in the Pits.

    It later became known to Tybalt that the tracked transport was a Mass Hauler. It came to a rest in a vast section within the mine workings. The detail were unloaded and put to work immediately. As Tybalts eyes accustomed to the gloomy darkness, he was shocked to discover the size of the operation.

    The Pits, this one identified as Pit 06, were like an underground quarry. A huge cavernous area had been hollowed out over the course of thousands of man-hours. Hundreds of workers, both human and mutant, worked on different levels within the underground chamber. The quarry pit stepped down several hundred feet, like an inverted pyramid and Tybalt could see a huge mechanical bucket-wheel excavator churning up the rock bed.

    The heat and noise was unbearable. Haulers travelled to and from the chamber after being loaded up with vast tonnage of ground up rock. The Pits were the source of the rare metal Malleus Obscurite, mined here and processed offsite.

    Tybalt turned a rock fragment over in his hand and noticed it contained small silvery pieces of the priceless metal.He noticed Revic slip a lump inside the neck of his boot. He thought it best not to ask as Revic winked slyly at him.

    Around the excavator the mutant slaves, drilled away at the walls breaking off huge lumps of rock wall with their cumbersome drills. Then the human convicts broke up the rock with sledge and rock hammers. Hundreds of work gangs, Tybalt guessed were from other parts of the prison, took part in this operation. This was a full-scale industrial operation, overseen by the custodians and advised by a cadre of mysterious tech adepts.

    Revic was right, the work was backbreaking. Sweat ran off Tybalts body and he quickly became dehydrated. If he or anyone else slowed up, the patrolling custodians would forcefully encourage them to get back to work. The dust irritated his eyes, choked his throat and nose. He had to constantly spit to clear his mouth of the gritty dust.

    After several hours of hard labour, water was finally passed around. He gulped it down, hungrily demanding more but didn’t receive a second helping. The brief respite allowed him to catch his breath. He noticed several convicts in his gang had passed out. They were unhooked from the rest of detail and were unceremoniously thrown into the back of a Hauler by the guards.

    'You work well, lad.' Said Revic finishing the last of his water ration.

    The ex guard soldier had removed his prison shirt to reveal his solid torso. Beneath the sweat and dirt that caked his body, Tybalt could make out the scars of old las burns. More noticeable was the massive winged skull with crossed daggers that covered the man’s chest. Tybalt recognised the tattoo from his guard days and reminded him why he was right to fear the Xenobane.

    Revic chuckled. 'Are you checking out the ink or are you that way inclined?'

    'No, I was just thinking. I didn’t think I’d end up side by side with the founding member of the Xenobane. Small Imperium.'

    'Aye, it is that.' Revic, threw his tin cup aside and hefted up his rock hammer again. He smashed it down on the rocks at his feet, sending chips flying off.

    Tybalt picked up his hammer again after a glare from a nearby custodian. The two ex soldiers laboured for a while not saying anything until the Major broke his rhythm.

    'This isn’t the first time you’ve encountered the Xenobane is it, Thorn?'

    'No. Are you disappointed?'

    'Throne no! It means I’ve done a good job spreading the message.' The Major laughed as he whacked another lump of rock.

    Tybalt knew the man was right. The Xenobane were a force to be feared. They called themselves a military fraternity but they possessed an ultra radical ideology that was born out of the wars of the Kydon Liberation. During the decade long campaign to purge the sector of Ork invaders, certain military commanders indoctrinated their troops with a strong militaristic belief in the purity of Mankind, the Emperor and its Glorious Fight against foul Xeno’s who would encroach upon His Domain. The atrocities the Orks committed across the sector only reinforced their ideals.

    The Xenobane belief was effective and produced many victories. It strengthened Imperial resolve and boosted moral and Major Decius Revic had been one of its principle founders. After the war, Revic was a celebrated hero and with the conflict over his forces were disbanded.

    However the war was never over for Revic or his most diehards of followers. The years of fighting had left thousands of men traumatised and on the verge of madness. Refusing to believe the fight was over, Revic rallied his most loyal soldiers to undergo a private campaign to cleanse the re-established Kydon worlds of any Xeno taint.

    After several incidents the Xenobhane were later labelled as a terrorist group by the Imperial authorities, as Revic’s brutal purges led to the deaths of hundreds of citizens. Reluctant to execute war heroes and veterans the Xenobane were imprisoned for their crimes instead.

    'Those were the days, Thorn. Bloody days where the air was heavy with the smell of blood. Ork blood. Were you there, in the Kydon campaign?'

    Tybalt shrugged. 'No, I hadn’t served yet.'

    'I guess not, a bit before your time eh, lad. Don’t worry, we won and I took the glory.’ Revic chuckled, beaming with pride.

    'I’ve read some of the history. Were you at the Siege of Janus Hill?'

    'I was. Those Greenskins didn’t die easily. It took four months of near constant shelling and waves of infantry assaults to finally crush them. I lost many good men in the final assault.' He smashed another rock imagining it to be an Ork skull.

    A shackled mutant in tattered rags shambled over to the pair carrying a large bolder. The creature was cursed with the hunched back probably through years of inhuman toil. His face was drawn with bulbous blue eyes and his jaw carried a distinct under bite. It dumped the rock at Revic feet before turning to leave.

    'Hey, Twist, watch it, you almost crushed my foot!’

    The mutant was slow to respond but whether this was due to his affliction or simply his intelligence wasn’t clear. It turned and gave a little smile that suggested it purposely meant to do Revic harm.

    'Do that again and I’ll cut your throat!' Revic threatened.

    'We got a problem here?' A voice said. Revic thought it was one of the patrolling custodians. But was a little surprised to see it was a mutant standing to his right. The Major smiled when he saw who it was.

    'Ajaxx, you mutated bastard, keep your freaks in line and outta my way.'

    The mutant Ajaxx, was a tall creature, square jawed and thick muscled. His clothes were little more than a mishmash of tattered rags sewn together.

    'We don’t appreciate you calling us freaks, Rev. We got enough problems with the guards without your ignorant remarks.' Ajaxx’s voice was deep but toned with calmness.

    'Your friend there almost crushed my foot.'

    'Perhaps, perhaps not.'

    'I’m serious, if you or anyone of your lot get in my way I’ll gut them!' The Major was shouting now, drawing the attention of others, mutant and human convict alike. Tybalt watched the situation sensing the rising tension and preparing for trouble.

    'Alright, back to work you two!' Shouted a custodian through a vox amplifier.
    The mutant backed off joining his twisted comrades as they quarried away at the rock wall. Revic picked up his rock hammer cursing as he smashed boulders.

    'Who was that?' Asked Tybalt.

    'Ajaxx. He runs the Twists in the Pits. Likes to think of himself as a messiah for his kind.' He spat into the dirt.

    'I see.' Said Tybalt going back to his work.

    + + +

    For another hour the convicts in Pit 06 worked with little respite. Tybalts muscles were shaking through exhaustion and his hands felt as rough as sandpaper. His mouth was dry and his eyes were red raw from the irritating dust particles.

    He took a moment, pausing his rock crushing and looked into the chamber beneath him. The massive excavator had been churning away for hours eating deeper into the planets rocky core.

    'Hey, Tybalt. We got company.'

    Revic alerted him to the approaching group of mutants. There were four of them. One was the hunchback from earlier the others were deformities of varying descriptions. It repulsed Tybalt to look at them.

    Revic took up a defensive stance resting his rock hammer over one shoulder. He wiped his brow and spat into the dirt. The mutants stopped at the point where the phlegm landed as if it was a crude territorial marking.

    'You’re not carrying any rocks, so I guess you’re here for the conversation?' Said Revic, sarcastically.

    You don’t like us very much?' Said the hunchback, acting as the groups leader. He spoke with a drooling slur that Tybalt founding annoying.

    'No.' Said the Major frankly. 'You disgust me. You should all be put down.'

    The mutants laughed, then one of them said, 'Down in the Pits, you’re on our turf and down here lots of accidents can happen. Especially to those who don’t like us.'

    'Really easy for someone to get caught up in the excavator. Messy.' Added the hunchback.

    More laughter.

    'That a threat?' Said Revic flexing his fingers around the hammer grip. 'I’ve fought things bigger and almost as ugly as you. Step any closer and I’ll crack you open.'

    'Do you think that’s wise?' Said the hunchback goading the Xenobane. 'Look at where you are; this place is filled with mutants. You take one of us down and you’ll never see the surface again.'

    Revic contemplated it for a minute. He looked at Tybalt. A little smile split his face.

    'When you put it like that.' he began. 'It’s a chance I’m more than willing to take.'

    He swung the hammer at the full length of the pole’s reach, cracking the hunchback across the face. Bones snapped as blood and teeth flew out of the mutants jaw. Then Revic lunged at the next closest mutant screaming a war cry of the Xenobane.

    In the split second Tybalt had to think before his warrior instinct would take over he thought how insane Revic was. But Tybalt had no time to think of anything anymore other than survival. One of the mutants was on him seconds after the hunchback had hit the dirt. He brought his rock hammer up across his chest to block the attacker who slashed at him with a sharpened hand chisel. He parried a series of moves before seeing an opportunity to counter. He knocked the tool out of the mutant’s hand before jabbing the pole hilt into its stomach. With the creature doubled over Tybalt thrust his knee into its face knocking him over.

    Meanwhile Revic was like a man possessed. He had draw his concealed blade and was slashing wildly at the remaining two mutants. They backed away every time the blade came close only to attempt a countermove a second later. Other convicts had noticed the fight breaking out and downed tools to observe. They shouted and jeered the fighters on. Mutants encouraged their comrades while the humans offered Revic advice on how best to kill the pair of twists.

    Custodians, now aware of the disorder, moved to intercept but were blocked by the gathering crowd. They tried to force their way through whilst a voice on a vox amplifier yelled the convicts to desist.

    Revic swiped a backhanded slash that tore the face of one of the mutants in two. The twist screamed and held his hand to his face, blood running everywhere. The other, seeing his comrade go down, backed away towards his mutant supporters but Revic wasn’t going to let him get away that easily. He grabbed the twist by the throat and kneed him in the genitals. The mutant winched and yelled out as Revic plunged the crude little blade into his chest.

    After twisting the blade free, Revic threw the dead mutant to the ground. The body landed at the feet of Ajaxx, how had just pushed through the crowd. He shot a scornful glare at Revic. His eyes narrowed with rage at the slaying of his fallen comrade.

    'You’ll bleed for this.' Said Ajaxx, before charging at Revic.

    Ajaxx, followed by dozens of other mutants angered at the killing, charged. The human convicts too charged in support of Revic and Tybalt and a within seconds the crowd had erupted into a massed brawl.

    [ continued in part 2 ]
    Last edited by Kravunhive; 01-09-2013 at 10:44.
    They have seen more death and ruin than another soldier sees in ten lifetimes.
    - General Sejanus

    Projects: Battle of Icarus Plateau | Lexxian IX "Sawtooths" | "The Famous" 42nd Drop Trooper Regiment
    Fiction: The Secundus - Short stories set on the penal colony of Bale Secundus - * New Chapter added 04/06/14 *

  3. #23
    Librarian Kravunhive's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    London, UK

    Re: The Secundus

    -|[ The Secundus ]|-
    -[ The Pits]-
    -[ part 2 ]-

    Tybalt ducked as a rock tool whizzed over his head. He countered his attacker with a swing of his hammer to the ribs, hearing them crack under his blow. The brawl in the heart of Pit 06 had begun to over spill into the adjacent levels. Everywhere mutant and human convicts were engaged in hand to hand fighting. They used whatever they could muster for weapons; rocks, chains, hammers, pick tools, even concealed weapons like Revic’s blade.

    Although the convicts were chained together they didn’t allow this to hinder their ability to fight. The melee pulled them in different directions bringing them into contact with a different enemy every other minute. The violence was brutal, typical of prisoners confined with simmering hatred for everyone around them. They’d learnt their trade in the gutters of hive worlds and used it now with deadly efficiency. Each thrust; each slash ended a life or seriously crippled one. The caged animals were loose, only force of arms could halt their carnage. The custodians were drawn into the melee. They waded in with power mauls striking anything that moved. It didn’t matter if those they struck were a threat or not. They cared little for the convicts only that order be restored. This unbiased treatment earned the ire of the prisoners who retaliated with equal fury.

    Tybalt watched as a human caved in the skull of twist with a large rock. While a group of frenzied mutants hacked a pair of cowering humans to death with pick axes. Someone screamed before a razored blade eviscerated into someones stomach. Somewhere else someone was yelling wildly.

    An eyeless mutant thrust a blade at Tybalts waist. He dodged the attack at the last second and managed to wrap the chain between his wristlocks around the mutant’s neck. He pulled the chain tight cutting off the air supply of the struggling twist, desperate to free itself.

    As he took the life Tybalt felt a feeling wash over him. A feeling akin to satisfaction. Was he pleased to be killing a mutant? Or was he simply pleased to be killing in general? Before today he hadn’t killed anything or anyone since he last engagement on Acheron before his conviction. Was he becoming like these animals, relishing in the kill.

    He expunged the thought from his mind as quickly as it had entered. A hooded mutant appeared to his left and he redirected his attention to the pair of blades carried by his possible killer.

    Revic stabbed his bloodied knife into the neck of twist, blood jetted out as he pulled it free. He was wild eyed and consumed with battle lust. He shouted an old Imperial war oath at the top of his lungs. Proclaiming the death of each mutant as debt paid to the God-Emperor. Warm blood splashed across his face and he began to laugh. He beat his bare chest with one hand, thumping the Xenobane tattoo.

    Ajaxx half cleaved the head off the shoulders of a human convict with a pickaxe. The lifeless body toppled away. Ajaxx moved through the melee, murdering anyone how was an enemy, anyone who was human. He hunted for Revic and he wouldn’t rest until he had spilled the ex-guardsman’s blood. He screamed Revic’s name at the top of his lungs. Each blow of the pickaxe brought him closer to his target.

    + + +

    Custodian Kole snapped the shin of a convict who attempted to ambush him. The riot in the excavation levels hundreds of metres above was at its peak. The chaos had travelled down into the heart of the Pit like a tidal wave about ten minutes ago. One spark was all it needed for violence to erupt.

    This was move than a simple riot; this had transcended simple inmate unrest. This was species warfare, humans and mutants. And the custodians were right in the middle of it.

    There was no coordinated effort to suppress the violence and Kole hadn’t received any orders from the Master-at-Arms on containment control. He would have to defend himself with force. The other members of his squad were spread out fighting their own battles. He was alone. And he’d have to muster all his strength and remember back to his training if he was to survive this mess.

    Kole was assigned to guard the excavator crew and was responsible for the lives of over a dozen tech adepts who crewed the powerful machine. In the chaos nobody had bothered to shut the excavator down and it had continued churning up the rock bed. Kole moved down a metal gangway towards the control cabin in the hope of pulling the plug. Crazed and vengeful convicts did their utmost to hinder his efforts and so far he’d fought his way through several convicts, part of a frenzied mob that had swarmed on the huge mining machine.

    A lean prisoner with crude ink work covering his gaunt face now opposed him. The convict carried an industrial wrench used to tighten pressure pumps. The tool was slick with blood, the prisoner smiled, gritting his black teeth at Kole as he approached.

    The custodian rushed him pulling back his power maul. Opposite the convict clumsily hefted the wrench; he swung it, missing Kole, who then managed to sidestep the blow. He countered, cracking the maul into the side of the prisoner’s head. The convict toppled over the edge of the gangway railing.

    Kole moved on, he was only a few yards away from the control box now. Another convict appeared but he was clutching his chest, blood leaking out of a gaping wound. He offered no resistance but Kole still put him down.

    In the control cabin a dead servitor lay slumped over the gears and leaver panel. Kole had no knowledge of the machines complex operation and there were no tech adepts in sight. He pulled the corpse off the panel, his eyes jumping all over the place bewildered by the array of buttons, switches and levers. He saw something that looked like a power slider but its operation was described in binary code. He guessed that it could be used as a power control and concluded that this would be a logical choice.

    He placed his hand on the lever and was about to pull down on it when an assailant appeared welding an axe. He turned but the axe was already in motion. It landed squarely on Kole’s forearm cutting through his carapace gauntlet, muscle tissue and bone. He screamed as blood coated the control panel. A second axe blow knocked him backwards and became embedded in his chest carapace. He rolled on the floor clutching the stump of his arm. The convict stood over him, a bald headed brute the size of a tank, peered down and smiled at Kole before crushing his throat with three heavy stomps of his size ten work boot.

    The brute turned to the blooded panel and grabbed hold of Kole’s severed arm that still gripped the lever. The brute laughed and used Kole’s own arm to pull the lever upwards. The control cabin began to shake. Had Kole been alive he would have been right, it was an instrument to power the excavator wheel. A rev counter began to increase slowly, the excavator wheel grinded faster, tearing into the rock.

    The brute moved the lever higher to full power. The cabin began to vibrate much more violently now. The rev counter spun uncontrollably now, somewhere steam vented from rupturing pipes, and red warning runes flashed on the panels monitors. The brute cared not. He continued his insane laughter.

    The excavators wheel burrowed into the rock bed at speed that the diamond incrusted teeth weren’t designed for. Chunks of rock flew out in all directions as the teeth ate away, deeper and deeper.

    At the point where the rock met the teeth a hissing sound erupted from the heart of the grinding. It grew louder getting more high pitched until a metallic clang signalled the death of one of the diamond heads. Following the clang was a low rumble that built up in strength and sound.

    Convicts fighting around the excavator slowly stopped as they became aware something was wrong. Seconds later a gaseous eruption exploded out of the ground as the excavators teeth tore through the last barrier of rock that surrounded a hidden gas pocked. The blast shattered the excavator wheel and blasted clusters of rock and twisted fragments of metal in all directions. The ground, where the stump of the excavator was eating into, fractured and split. It began to crumble away, falling in on itself.

    The brute in the control cabin was still laughing as the drill chassis was ripped away from its iron foundations and swallowed into the increasingly gaping chasm.

    Convicts, mutant and human alike, scrambled in panic as the very ground at their feet disappeared. Hundreds were consumed into the abyss, falling into the darkness along with rock, tools and other mining machinery. A Hauler tried to reverse away from the rupture, its treaded tracks backed over fleeing convicts crushing them to pulp but it was hopeless the ground buckled and the vehicle lost it’s footing. The machine tumbled into the dark along with its payload and it’s screaming crew.

    + + +

    The fault being created in the heart of Pit 06 didn’t stop with just the rock bed being consumed. The abyss continued to widen with a ravenous appetite. It went to work devouring the stepped levels that rose out of the pit. The gas pocket had triggered a reaction in the surrounding rocky foundations weakening the entire area. Now the whole mine was in jeopardy. Great sections of the mine warped and broke away, crumbling in on itself.

    Tybalt steadied himself as he felt the tremors. He looked over the edge and saw the fracture at the Pit’s bottom. He just caught the sight of the excavator tower being consumed by a rapidly widening fault spreading through the mine. Prisoners began to run and Tybalt felt himself being pulled in opposite directions. He was still part of the chain gang, still shackled at the waist to the men next to him.

    One of those was Major Revic. Seconds before he was wild eyed and drunk with bloodlust but the sudden tremors had sobered him up. He began to pound away at his own shackles with a small hammer and sharpened chisel he’d acquired. He struck fiercely and after several solid blows managed to free himself from one side of the gang. He was still hooked up to Tybalt and the others along the line to his right. He cursed and hammered away again.

    The sound of the rock snapping and smashing was all around. Voices shouted as bodies ran amongst the chaos.

    Something grabbed his feet. He looked down to discover it was the hunchbacked mutant that started this whole ordeal. The mutants face, bloodied and fractured from the initial hammer blow, snarled at him. It clawed at Revic, spitting blood and curses in equal measure. Revic kicked him away and went back to freeing himself.

    Tybalt too was in the process of freeing himself when the rockslide caught up with him. He tried to run towards Revic but his footfalls didn’t purchase and he felt like he was treading on air. He called out to the Major who looked up from his work. His reaction was swift. The Old Guard ran towards a jutting piece of rock that stuck out of the rock floor and he ran around with the chain in tow, bracing himself to halt Tybalt’s descent.

    As the ground gave way beneath, Tybalt found himself falling, him and the others of his chain gang all fell into the abyss. Tybalt hadn’t imagined this was how he would die. He had always thought it would be some distant battlefield charging towards the enemy, a loyal servant to the Imperial Throne. This was unexpected.

    He tumbled down trying to grab hold of any rock that hadn’t fallen away into the chasm. His hands became torn and bloodied as struggled to halt his fall. A yank from the shackles at his waist jolted and stopped his fall. He looked up and saw he was dangling by the chain.

    On the solid ground above that by some miracle hadn’t fallen away, Revic formed a crude wench. He counter balanced the weight of the fallen chain gang by supporting himself with the rock he’d wrapped around. His hands bit into the rusty chains as he struggled to keep a hold of Tybalt, dangling over and below the edge.

    Tybalt had now managed to support himself on a piece of the cave that hadn’t crumbled away which was now a cliff on the edge of the newly created abyss. He tried to pull himself up but couldn’t. He was weak from the fighting and the days toil but that wasn’t the only problem. He looked down below and he could see the rest chain gang, at least ten other convicts, all linked together swinging over the mouth of the abyss.

    They cried and screamed for help, trying to pull themselves up but the weight of each other hindered any attempts at self rescue.

    Above, Revic began the task of pulling the gang up from the depths. He slowly backed around the rock, winding himself and the chain around it, like a pulley. It was a colossal effort. The weight of the others at the end of the line was immense. He felt the shackles cutting into his waist and palms of his hands. He began to bleed.

    Tybalt aided the Majors rescue attempt by climbing up the rock face where he could. Those further down the line did the same where able. They cheered and thanked there would be rescuer, offering rewards of smokes and narcotics if they survived.

    Revic heaved one last colossal tug of the chain round the rock, just enough for Tybalt to reach up and pull himself up onto the lip of the cliff. The prisoner rolled over, exhausted. The weight of the gangers below still tugged at him. Wearily he got up and began to pull them up too. He backed up towards Revic, the strength of two men making the task slightly easier.

    'Thanks.' Said Tybalt panting.

    'I didn’t do it for you.' Replied Revic lied through clenched teeth. ‘I can’t hold them much longer.’ He slipped losing his footing on one leg.

    The line jolted towards the edge, Tybalt with it. He was pulled right to the edge again and looked down at the gang who were protesting the slip. Revic managed to re-establish his footing.

    'Tybalt, I can’t hold you all.'

    'We can do this, pull!'

    'No! We can’t.'

    The old soldier was loosing his strength. One more slip and Tybalt would go over the edge again and Revic along with him. He glanced around and caught sight of the small hammer and chisel he had been using earlier to free himself. The tools lay on the ground by Tybalt’s feet.

    'Tybalt, you’ll have to cut them loose.'


    'Cut them loose, it’s the only way.'

    'We can save them!' He protested.

    Revic deliberately loosed his grip slightly to emphasize the point.

    'Do it lad. The tools are by your feet.'

    Tybalt looked at the tools and then at the gang below. He saw into the eyes of the nearest convict who had clearly heard the Major’s idea.

    'I’m sorry.' Said Tybalt and bent down to pick up the tools.

    He braced himself as the weight pulled at his waist. He began chipping away with the hammer.

    'No, please, no.' Screamed the dangling convict. 'He’s cutting us loose!'

    More cries of protest and mercy sang from the gang below. Tybalts hands began to shake. Tap. Tap

    'Please, no. No!' Cried another

    Tap. Tap. Tap.

    'God-Emperor, have mercy!' Said another, even further below.

    Tap. Tap. Clang!

    The rusty metal chain snapped away at his waist. Tybalt fell back as the weight lifted. The chain gang screamed as they plummeted away into the darkness, their cries fading into the gloom.

    Revic, shattered, stumbled over to the younger prisoner and collapsed beside him.

    'There was nothing we could have done.' He said with seemingly genuine sorrow.

    Tybalt slowly nodded his reply.

    He surveyed what remained of the mine working. There was surprising little left intact. The entire floor had collapsed away and much of the different rock levels had crumbled away too. Stranded sections of rock islands were now all that remained of the once cavernous excavation. Some of the platforms were populated with surviving convicts or custodians. There was no way back up to the surface as far as Tybalt could make out. Apart from their immediate little island, the rest of the area around them had fallen away into the abyss. Luckily they still had light from the roof mounted glow globes that were drilled into the rocky ceiling. Thank the Emperor the wiring ran to generators above ground.

    The cavern echoed with the cries of the stranded. Barely less than a hundred people, from a workforce of thousands, had survived the collapse. Revic spat into the dirt.

    'So, what’s the plan now?' Said Revic
    Last edited by Kravunhive; 01-09-2013 at 10:45.
    They have seen more death and ruin than another soldier sees in ten lifetimes.
    - General Sejanus

    Projects: Battle of Icarus Plateau | Lexxian IX "Sawtooths" | "The Famous" 42nd Drop Trooper Regiment
    Fiction: The Secundus - Short stories set on the penal colony of Bale Secundus - * New Chapter added 04/06/14 *

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Maps used to say there were dragons here...

    Re: The Secundus

    Awesome work again, good to see you back.

  5. #25
    Chapter Master Ragsta's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Re: The Secundus

    Mate, that was really good reading - loved the latest two updates! The death of the custodian was nicely done.

    One tiny criticism I will say is there are some typos and unnecessary wording BUT I do know how hard it is screening all this stuff. Keep it up, this is good stuff.

    You should watch a couple of episodes of 'Oz' for future inspiration - this story really does remind me of that brutal programme.
    Imperial and Ork starships, random Imperial troops and now the developing zombie plague...
    Building the Orkmada- BFG Orks
    World War Z
    Quote Originally Posted by GomezAddams
    Right I'm going to head off, got cowgirls with massive racks to paint - its a hard life

  6. #26

    Re: The Secundus

    Just caught up on the story, excellent as ever

  7. #27
    Librarian Kravunhive's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    London, UK

    Re: The Secundus

    Wow, I am a disgrace. Nearly a year with no updates. Officially this story should be dead. However it's far from it. I am going to finish this. I started it so I owe it to myself and those who read and commented on it to see this creation through to the end. So here is the latest update. Please, re-read the story to reacquaint yourself with the characters, settings etc. And I am sorry to those of you who followed this, I let you down... Here it is, c&c welcome, thank you.

    -|[ The Secundus ]|-
    -[ The Aftermath]-

    Maximilian Locke sat in his office in the top spire of the prison fortress. His office was ornately decorated with all manner of civilised ornaments; a far cry from the squalor endured by the prisoners in the dungeons below. His long career within the Adeptus Arbites had been richly rewarding and had reached its zenith upon his posting to Magistrate of Bale Secundus nearly two decades ago. When he arrived, the Secundus was, in his eyes, a failing institution. His predecessor was something of a liberal thinker and such thoughts could not exist within the penal code of the Lex Imperium.
    The Emperors Laws had to be respected and offenders would be punished thoroughly.
    Maximilian Locke, Magistrate of Bale Secundus. He commanded respect, awed by his custodian staff and rightly feared by the common inmates. He held the keys to punishment in one hand and the hangman’s noose in the other. Punishment was the only route to salvation in his eyes and by the God-Emperor he would work hard to save these lost souls.

    From the main window of his office he commanded a fantastic view of the prison complex. The in all directions the various prison hab wings were stacked side by side each housing nearly a thousand dangerous and degenerate dregs of humanity. Barracks, supply blocks and water towers, dotted among the various wings. The ancient stone wall dominated the smaller buildings as it ran the parameter of the complex. Outside of the wall beyond the landing fields the industrial structures of The Pits and adjoining refinery works.

    A knock at the door disturbed him from his work. He’d asked to be left alone for the remainder of the day while he wrote his report on the prison-housing situation. He called for his guest to enter. It was Chief Custodian Agrippa. Locke smiled.

    ‘Sorry to disturb you sir but we have a situation in the Pits.’

    ‘More rioting, Agrippa? Shoot the ringleaders once you establish order, I’ll let you decide how much force is necessary to quell the dissent.’

    ‘Actually sir, its not a riot. Something else.’

    Locke sat back in his chair. ‘Something else?’

    ‘Yes, sir. There’s been a major structural collapse in one of the pits.’

    Minor collapses happened from time to time. The loss of production was always regrettable. But the event Agrippa began to describe was horrific and shocked Locke. A quick review of holo-vid surveillance footage of Pit 09 had earlier enlightened Agrippa of the situation. It appeared that during the unrest the excavator wasn’t shut down as per protercol. Instead convicts highjacked the machine driving it harder into the rock bed. From what could be made out ofrom the last few remaining minutes of footage was that the mining machine had ruptured a gas pocket beneath the rock. The resulting explosion caused the floor of the pit to cave in, falling into darkness and consuming everything and everyone that was in the Pit.

    ‘How much product was lost?’

    Locke’s question didn’t take Agrippa by surprise, in normal society he’d have half expected the Magistrate to ask how many were dead, at least of the custodians. Agrippa didn’t have an answer instead he offered more information.

    ‘Currently a rescue attempt is underway. It’ll take a couple of hours to secure all the equipment required.’

    ‘A rescue mission?’ Locke frowned. ‘For your men?’

    ‘Yes sir, and a few scattered convicts. We have sightings of stragglers on isolated pockets of rock that didn’t fully collapse.’

    Locke thought for a moment. ‘Leave them.’

    ‘Sir?’ The comment surprised him.

    ‘You heard me. Leave them.’

    ‘But my men?’

    ‘I will not tell you a third time, Agrippa.’

    Symon Astor watched as the bullish Chief Custodian walked away down the hall from Magistrate Locke’s office, his face attempting to hide its apparent anger.
    After a few minutes of silence he could hear the thud of a fist slamming on a desk. From what Astor had just overheard he knew the Magistrate would be pissed. As an ex-Administratum official he’d spent a lifetime calculating tithe tributes for a dozen worlds and knew the kinds of figures that would be lost. Malleus Obscurite was a priceless metal worth thousands per kilo on the local hive world exchanges. Locke was heavily invested in the mining operation here, not just professionally but personally too. Under Locke’s instructions, Astor had created a series of false companies and holding accounts to channel money from brokering such deals with Imperial nobles and Artisan Guilds. Locke was already a very wealthy man and it astonished Astor that the Magistrate would react in such a way. The man’s greed obviously had no limits.

    Astor went back to filling out the monthly logistics report that would keep the Penal world operating. The door opened and Locke appeared. Astor didn’t look up from his work.

    ‘You are not to speak of this to anyone you understand.’

    It wasn’t a question. But in reality Astor wouldn't need to say anything.

    + + +

    It had been the middle of the night cycle when the storm broke. Cheers, cries and whistles spread throughout the numerous cell wings of the Secundus like a rippling tide. As word of the disaster spread order was strained as custodians battled against the feral-like reactions of the inmates. Like caged beasts they rattled their cages and screamed insanities, tormenting the guards and fellow prisons alike. Years of suppressed emotions erupted in a rage of destructive behaviour. Cells were mindlessly dismantled, beds shattered, sheets shredded and soiled mattresses thrown outside into the gangways.

    Master-at-Arms Lyon Hess watched the frenzy from within the safety of the Cutodian Tower of West 16. He’d ordered his men back into the tower for lock down and ordered the release of automatic weapons and shotguns. He checked in with Central Security and reported the disturbance. Apparently similar incidents were happening across the entire prison. Central ordered two days of total lockdown and reduction in temperature to help quell the unrest.

    + + +

    Persephone Moss hid in the shadows of her cell clutching her hands over her ears to drown out the noise around her. She closed her eyes and purged her mind of the chaos outside. She needed calm. Absolute calm if she was to find him. She sensed the world around her. Frothing and bubbling with the usual rage. A twisting abyss she had become accustomed to every time she slept. She navigated the sea of damned souls, occasionally finding a warm glow of light. But they were not him. Kind of heart and soul but they weren’t not who she sought. She dived deeper. Deeper into the complex abyss until, there, she found him.

    + + +

    Kolt was alone in his cell and observed the destruction around him. He shook his head. He didn’t understand this kind of fruitless violence. He couldn’t understand the point of destroying your own mattress; many inmates would be wishing they hadn’t done that in the days to come.
    He sat back on his bunk and thought of the news he’d just heard. Tybalt was down there.
    He’d not known the ex-guardsman for very long but he hoped he was alive. He needed him to be.

    + + +

    Thero Ostina sat in the throne of his cell. He had been brought the news of the disaster by his retainer, Severus. The disaster at Pit 09 was a double set back for him. The priceless metal mined in the Pits passed through his control and he had an understanding with the Magistrate where he would extract a small tax from the raw mineral and ship it off world via his contacts back on Monarch. The profits paid for his comfortable living here on the Secundus as well as financing his families operations on his home world. The loss in product would undoubtedly have a knock on effect later.
    But the other set back was the loss of Tybalt Thorn. The convicted guardsman was the key in forging an alliance with Xenobane. Through him he had planned to use the Xenobane as a weapon to deter the ambitions of his archrival Kato Sulla, the only other Monarch who could challenge his authority here.
    He sat back in his chair and contemplated all the possible outcomes and planned his next move.

    + + +

    In his cell the snake hissed at the news of the disaster. The leader of the Hydra’s gang, Venom spat at the thought of being denied his vengeance. He knew the guardsman, Thorn, was on the roster for the Pit work detail. Fate had played a cruel joke on him. Without the ability to repay Thorn for the insult and lack of respect it made him appear weak. Weakness was failure and he couldn’t abide failure.
    He turned to his cellmate another Hydra ganger. The tattooed brute sat on cells latrine reading a small adult pict-novella. Without thinking Venom slid a small blade out of his pocket and slashed the man’s throat. Blood squirted from the wound like a fountain.
    Sometimes his anger got the better of him. He called for a guard from his cell door. But no one heard the call; no one came to his assistance. He sat on the cold floor and watched as the life of his cellmate faded away.
    Last edited by Kravunhive; 01-09-2013 at 10:47.
    They have seen more death and ruin than another soldier sees in ten lifetimes.
    - General Sejanus

    Projects: Battle of Icarus Plateau | Lexxian IX "Sawtooths" | "The Famous" 42nd Drop Trooper Regiment
    Fiction: The Secundus - Short stories set on the penal colony of Bale Secundus - * New Chapter added 04/06/14 *

  8. #28
    Chaplain Red Scorpion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Co. Durham/Newcastle

    Re: The Secundus

    I love your writing - really good stuff. I look forward to the next installment!
    The Ammobunker - A great forum for Modellers and Painters!
    Chris' Miniature Woes - my Necromunda/Post-Apoc/Zomb-Apoc/Fantasy blog. Check it out!

    I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure!

  9. #29
    Chapter Master Ragsta's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Re: The Secundus

    Hurrah! An update! I am very pleased.

    Please don't take so long to post another one this time, it makes me sad
    Imperial and Ork starships, random Imperial troops and now the developing zombie plague...
    Building the Orkmada- BFG Orks
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  10. #30
    Commander Nineswords's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    The Eastern Fringes

    Re: The Secundus

    Great setting, read the whole thing in one go!
    The Emperor upholds a teleological scheme for the future of man, unifying and perfecting humanity through the intense application of martial violence, and I will endeavour to uphold it.

  11. #31
    Librarian Kravunhive's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    London, UK

    Re: The Secundus

    -|[ THE SECUNDUS ]|-

    -[ The Story So Far ]-

    So it has been 1 year, 2 months and 28 days since I last updated this story. I apologise, I know many of you enjoyed what I had written and were probably (hopefully) looking for its continuance.

    While I have been busy with my day job and writing other short stories, this story, The Secundus, has never gone away. Every now and then I add little bits to the plot or create a new character but I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write a new chapter. Until now…

    I had to dust off a few notes, but I thought it would be good to do a quick recap of the story and characters for everyone’s benefit.

    -|[ Dramatis Personae ]|-

    -[ Prison Staff ]-
    Magistrate Maximilian Locke
    Chief Custodian Agrippa

    -[ Convicts ]-
    Tybalt Thorn
    Persephone Moss
    Kastra Rayen
    Symon Astor

    Nine Spiders Gang

    Hydra Gang

    Major Decius Revic

    Ostina Monarchy
    Thero Ostina

    Sulla Monarchy
    Kato Sulla

    The Twists

    -[ Chapters 1 & 2 ]-

    Tybalt Thorn, captain of the Corsican 12th, is tried by court martial and found guilty of cowardice. He is spared execution and sentenced to life imprisonment on the penal world of Bale Secundus.

    Tybalt arrives on the penal colony known locally as, the Secundus and is housed in Sector West 16, Block 5 with roughly eight hundred other inmates.
    He is bunked with a juvenile hive ganger named Kolt.

    Within hours of his arrival Tybalt is challenged by members of another gang called the Hydra’s, led Venom. Tybalt defends himself when they try to kill him, severely injuring his attackers and damaging Venom’s pride.

    -[ Chapter 3 ]-

    Tybalt spends his first few nights in his cell and is having trouble adjusting to his new life. He is plagued by dreams of the last war he fought on Acheron against the Orks.

    Another inmate, Persephone Moss, who arrived on the Secundus at the same time as Tybalt, hides in the shadows of her cell. She senses his bad dreams and appears to him in a vision calming his soul and helping Tybalt back to sleep.

    -[ Chapter 4 ]-

    Kolt, the hive ganger and cellmate of Tybalt meets with his fellow gang members. Their gang is called the Nine Spiders, partially named after the old gang back on their hive home world, Carpathia.

    The Nine Spiders have a running feud with the Hydra’s, a result of working as hired muscle for two opposing crime families incarcerated on the Secundus.

    Talon, a member of the Nine Spiders, points out that Hydra’s have more gang member than them. Breach, another member comments that to defeat the Hydra’s all they have to do is take out the leader.

    Talon isn’t so sure killing Venom will end the conflict.

    -[ Chapter 5 ]-

    Venom, newly released from solitary confinement, challenges Tybalt in the dinning hall. A potential fight is broken up when the powerful figure of Major Decius Revic intervenes. Revic is ex-guard and the two talk about old Guard loyalties and discipline. Revic rants about his disgust for the hive gangs. Tybalt has heard the name Major Revic before but cant remember from where.

    Kastra, a female inmate, takes pity on Tyablt and offers him some nutrition bars.

    Back in his cell Tybalt remembers why he’s heard of Revic before; he’s the leader of the Xenobane, an outlawed extremist military fraternity.

    -[ Chapter 6 ]-

    Kolt is called to see his boss, Thero Ostina, scion of a crime family from a hive world called Monarch.

    Ostina, lives like a king on the Secundus, his wealth and power have ‘influenced’ the Magistrate into giving him a comfortable living. Ostina runs the criminal black market within the prison selling narcotics and other contraband. Ostina’s authority is currently being challenged by a rival crime lord, Kato Sulla; also from his birth world. The two scions both employ ganger inmates to collect their debts and protect their interests.

    Ostina tells Kolt that he wants to engineer an alliance between the Nine Spiders and the Xenobane by using Tybalt as the mutual link. The Xenobane are all ex-Imperial Guard soldiers imprisoned for their extremist anti-xeno ideology. Thero believes he can win any power struggle if he has real soldiers on his side.

    Kolt isn’t so sure his master’s plan will work. Ostina adds Tybalt and Revic’s names to the next mining work detail.

    -[ Chapter 7 ]-

    Revic and Tybalt are sent to the Pits, a vast mining district that operates within the vicinity of the penal colony, to mine a rare and valuable metal called Malleus Obscurite.

    Chain gangs of human convicts work side by side with the mutant slave levies. There is hostility between the two breeds and Revic almost comes to blows with a mutant labourer but Ajaxx, the messianic leader of the mutant slaves. Custodians defuse the situation for now.

    Later a group of mutants return to confront Revic and attempt to kill him. However Revic draws first blood and slays them. Ajaxx furious at the death of his brothers charges Revic. A riot results between human and mutants, which the custodian guards cannot contain.

    Ajaxx and Revic seek each other out in the battle but never clash.

    The battle sees many killed. At the heart of the mine is a huge Excavator, a machine that digs deeper into the ground. During the riot, control of the excavator is lost, its huge claws continue to dig and rupture an undetected gas pocket. The resulting explosion causes a structural collapse and the very floor gives way. Prisoners, slaves and custodians alike are all swallowed up into the darkness.

    Revic and Tybalt are lucky to survive as the ground around them forms as islet amongst the bottomless abyss. However Tybalt slips and is hanging off the edge being pulled down by the weight of the chain gang he and Revic are a part of.

    Revic is tries to pull Tybalt and the rest of the chain gang back onto solid ground but they are too heavy. Tybalt has to cut the others loose and they plummet to their deaths.

    -[ Chapter 8 ]-

    Magistrate Maximilian Locke is brought news of the riot and disaster in the Pits. He doesn’t care for the loss of life only the loss of production. Mining Malleus Obsecurite has privately made him a wealthy man.

    As news of the riot spreads across the prison, the inmates grow restless. A lockdown is declared to ease tension.

    Persophone Moss searches for the soul of Tybalt amongst the darkness. Kolt hopes for his cellmate and new friend’s return. Ostina ponders his next move. And Venom is angered that he cannot get his revenge on Tybalt.

    + + +

    That brings us up to date. I apologise in advance for the double post but it only seems right that the next chapter should follow on from this. For old readers I hope it’s been worth the wait and thank you for your continued interest. For those new to the Secundus (hello & welcome) I hope you enjoy the story.
    As always c+c much appreciated.

    Thank you
    They have seen more death and ruin than another soldier sees in ten lifetimes.
    - General Sejanus

    Projects: Battle of Icarus Plateau | Lexxian IX "Sawtooths" | "The Famous" 42nd Drop Trooper Regiment
    Fiction: The Secundus - Short stories set on the penal colony of Bale Secundus - * New Chapter added 04/06/14 *

  12. #32
    Librarian Kravunhive's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    London, UK

    Re: The Secundus

    -|[ The Secundus ]|-
    -[ The Abyss ]-
    -[ part 1 ]-

    MALLEUS OBSCURITE. Extremely rare and incredibly valuable. It has only been discovered on a handful of worlds in the Imperium. The Adeptus Mechanicus had spent centuries studying its properties and developing it for practical uses. Bale Secundus was discovered to have rich deposits of Obscurite metal by Mechanicus Explorator teams. A mining operation was established and for decades the Mechancius excavated it using servitor drones and mutant slave levies.

    As the prison population grew from hundreds of thousands to several million the new Magistrate, Maximilian Locke, brokered a deal with the Mechanicus. For a fee he would supply them with limitless manpower to bolster the workforce. The partnership provided great commercial benefits to Locke and other private investors who sought to exploit the planet mineral wealth. In time the Mechanicus was reduced to supervisory role while corporate Imperial interests took over the mining operation.

    With industrial profiteering comes short cuts and certainly no attention was paid to the workers safety or living conditions. And why would it be? They were convicts, slaves to another man’s greed. With safety an after thought industrial accidents were common and slave lives were lost.

    * * *

    TYBALT THORN AND Major Decius Revic were two of those slaves. And they had survived. The collapse of Pit 06 left them stranded on rocky island in the middle of an abyss that dropped into nothingness. A riot triggered by racial differences between mutant and man ignited a powder keg. In the confusion the great Excavator machine at the heart of the mine ruptured an undetected gas pocket and caused structural collapse. The rock bed disintegrated and swallowed man and machine alike. There were a few other lucky survivors such as themselves but their chances were slim.

    Revic and Thorn were fighters. Ex-guardmen who had seen the horrors of war and death aplenty. They had survived the wars and they were determined to survive this.

    They hadn’t wasted any time. Revic knew that there wasn’t likely to be a rescue party and knew they had to save themselves. Their options were limited however. From their islet they could see the exit clearly enough. The main tunnel that led the surface was way over in the distance to what Revic believed was the south but there was no way to reach it. Between their island and salvation stood an abyss separating them like torrential river with no a bridge to cross. They would need to climb down from their island into the darkness and then find a way to climb back out again. Wearily they began their descent.

    It took them several hours to climb down into the nothingness. They gathered up what tools remained to them. A battery powered glow lamp and a pair of rock axes were all they had at their disposal. A heavy iron chain still bound them together but they decided to not blunt their tools until after they had made their descent.

    The going was slow and treacherous. The rock axes were crucial to their climb, using them to establish a secure purchase on the rock face before making the next move down. Several times one of them would lose their footing causing a heart-wrenching tug on the end of chain. Each time they thought that was the moment they were to plummet to their deaths. It made Tybalt think of the men he had to cut away during the riot. He could still hear their screams and pleas.

    They hadn’t realised that they had reached solid ground until they did, so dim was the affect of the lamp pack. They looked back over the course they had just descended from.

    ‘That had to be several hundred metres at least.’ Revic panted.

    Tybalt scanned the lamp pack around. From what he could make out, jagged rocks and rubble lay about everywhere. The gas pocket opened up into an entirely new cavern. They stood there directionless staring at a black nothing with only a few meters of light before them.
    ‘Which way?’ Tybalt asked.

    ‘Shine the light on me.’ Revic ordered. He looked his wrist chron and pressed one of the small buttons. The digital display flicked over to a compass. The dial took a few seconds to calibrate but it finally got a reading. ‘This way.’ He said pointing south.

    The rocky floor bed was rough and uneven and each step was a struggle. Tybalt stumbled on something that didn’t feel like rock. Shining the light revealed a body crumpled on the floor. The body was broken but Tybalt recognised the face. The last time he had seen it was when it was screaming, falling into the darkness.

    ‘The chain gang.’ Tybalt whispered.

    Revic followed the chain line revealing more broken bodies. ‘Check the bodies. Maybe one of these poor bastards has something we can use.’
    Hefound a pair of nutrition bars in one of the deceased’s pockets and handed one to Tybalt. They also sourced another glow lamp. Tybalt found a crude shank imbedded in chest. Pulling it free he cleaned it before pocketing it.

    THEY CONTINUED FOR another hour sporadically finding more bodies. Some broken and half buried; some mutilated during the violence of the riot. They stopped each time to loot the bodies. At first Tybalt had treated the bodies he looted as respectfully as he could but the more they discovered the less he did so. Necessity overtook his concept of compassion.
    ‘Ah, this will be useful.’ Proclaimed Revic, he held up a battered shotgun, the former property of a deceased custodian. He racked it a few times and tested its operational readiness. Further looting the corpse supplied him with a flak jacket and half a bandolier of shells.

    The Major was in his element and he cut an impressive figure from what Tybalt could see of him in the gloominess. Revic’s past was as impressive as it was colourful and would’ve made for a good novella or propaganda campaign on civilised Imperial worlds. From the image the old veteran projected Tybalt could see why men were drawn to him. Decius Revic was soldier the common rank and file could relate to and not full of the pomp and grandeur that other officers were so obsessed with.

    ‘Any water?’ Said Tybalt.

    Revic shook his head. They were both thirsty and becoming increasingly dehydrated, the air was thick with rock dust. Not to mention they were both exhausted from their climb and the battle previously.

    ‘We need to think about resting up. We’re beat.’ Said Tybalt exhaustedly.

    ‘Agreed, but I’m looking for something down here.’


    ‘One of the Hauler’s to provide shelter. Plus they’ll likely have more supplies inside. I’m sure I saw one fall during the rupture.’ Said Revic with certainty.

    ‘Like finding a needle in a haystack in this darkness.’

    ‘The Emperor Protects.’

    That was something Tybalt hadn’t heard in a while.

    THEY KEPT ON but their pace was slower. They’d been awake for nearly eighteen hours and fatigue was total. Revic had to rest. He sat on a rock pile laying the shotgun across his lap. He pulled out his nutrition bar and tore open the wrapping and attacked the contents with relish. Tybalt had flopped to the floor next to him. He had been more conservative with his bar, taking bites throughout the day.

    ‘It’s funny,’ began Revic with a mouth full of food, ‘this is first time I’ve felt truly free in years.’

    Tybalt thought about it. He had no idea what Revic had gone through during his years on the Secundus but he was sure they both shared similar feelings on their treatment within the military legal system. But they represented two extremes of Imperial military justice. Revic was a convicted terrorist, while Tybalt was accused of cowardice. They were both however, disgraced officers.

    The years of incarceration hadn’t dimmed the old officers anger within Revic it just simmered more patiently under the surface.

    ‘This isn’t freedom.’ Said Tybalt spitefully.

    ‘Free enough. I wouldn’t expect you to understand, lad. Not yet. A few more years and you’ll look back on this moment with a longing to be this free again.’

    ‘If we survive.’ Said Tybalt with a hint of hopelessness in his tone.

    ‘That’s defeatism, son. I never tolerated in the Guard and I won’t now. I’ve always looked out for my men.’

    ‘Is that what I am? One of your men?’

    ‘The Guard looks out for it’s own.’ Revic replied sternly, before finishing his nutrition bar and discarding the wrapper. ‘This place, the darkness, it reminds me of a nocturnal world during the Kydon campaign. Throne take me if I can remember what it was called. We were fighting off greenskin ambushes in the pitch black. Sharpened the senses that did.’ He paused. ‘I don’t want to alarm you but we’re being watched.’

    ‘Watched?’ Tybalt said cautiously, looking around him for something he didn’t know what.

    ‘Out there, Scuttlers, a breed of feral dog that haunt the depths of the Pits.’

    Tybalt was about to pan his lamp around into the darkness before Revic stopped him.

    ‘No. We keep moving.’ As quietly as possible he racked the shotgun.

    Tybalt kept the rock axe firmly in his grasp, ready.

    -[ continued in part 2 ]-
    Last edited by Kravunhive; 11-07-2013 at 01:02.
    They have seen more death and ruin than another soldier sees in ten lifetimes.
    - General Sejanus

    Projects: Battle of Icarus Plateau | Lexxian IX "Sawtooths" | "The Famous" 42nd Drop Trooper Regiment
    Fiction: The Secundus - Short stories set on the penal colony of Bale Secundus - * New Chapter added 04/06/14 *

  13. #33
    Librarian Kravunhive's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    London, UK

    Re: The Secundus

    -|[ THE SECUNDUS ]|-
    -[ The Abyss ]-
    -[ part 2 ]-

    THEY MOVED QUICKER, almost at a half run. Tybalt was filled with a sense of paranoia. His mind played tricks on him and he saw shapes and objects in the darkness leap out at him. He dismissed them each time and focused on keeping pace with the Major.

    Revic led the way. The only sound was the echo of their heavy footsteps and the clinking of the chain that joined them. The veteran navigated the rocks and occasional bodies with the expertise learned from a lifetime of fighting in rugged conditions. He knew the scuttlers were out there waiting for one of them to slip up or stumble. Then they would strike.

    The terrain got more difficult after ten minutes of quick timing. The rocks piled up and began to incline which led up a small uneven hill. The bodies too were less scattered and the discovery of bits of wrecked machinery told Revic they were at least in the right area. The Emperor Protects.

    There was a tug on the end of the chain. Tybalt had stumbled, loosing his footing.

    ‘Up, lad. Up. We gotta keep-‘ Revic cut himself off. ‘Oh shi-.’

    A shrill noise, like howling pierced the quiet. It was echoed by similar calls in different directions. Revic panned the lamp from left to right. They were surrounded. He went back and aided Tybalt back to his feet.

    From the darkness came the small pattering of clawed paws. What started as a trot quickly developed into a gallop.

    Instinctively Revic swung the shotgun in the direction the sound came from. The scuttler leapt into view and passed into the beam of his glow lamp. For an instant he saw the dogs small head with its hideously fanged maw and dead lifeless eyes, perfectly evolved for hunting in the darkness. It’s body was slender enough to be mistaken for a starved animal but each muscle was tight.

    Revic only glimpsed it for a second before his shotgun blew its skull apart in a hail of blood and bone fragments. The blast echoed in the abyss for what seemed like eternity. While the flash burst illuminated the darkness just long enough for Revic to glimpse at what waited for them. His keen eyes spotted dozens of scuttler hounds as they encircled them like carrion birds circling a corpse.

    This’ll be interesting. He thought.

    THE BRAVEST OR stupidest of the pack had struck first and died. Now the rest descended on them in force.

    Now back on his feet, Tybalt swung the rock axe around smashing it into the side of an advancing scuttlers skull. The creatures fragile head stood no chance against the industrial tool and the lifeless body spasmed as it tumbled down the rocky hill. Already another dog charged at him, with teeth gnashing and dripping rapid saliva.

    Revic let off two more rounds with the shotgun each shot shredding a target. A scuttler caught him in his blind spot and pounced on his back sinking its foul claws easily through the flak vest and into his flesh. The old soldier let out a yell and tore the feral dog off his back and threw it into the darkness.

    He turned and stumbled up the rock pile. Another scuttler snapped at his heals as he moved, eventually biting into his boot tripping him up. Revic aimed the shotgun. He pulled the trigger and the weapon made an unnervingly hollow and empty click. His eyes widened. The scuttler had ceased wrestling with his boot and snarled and readied it’s body to pounce.

    Then the sharp edge of a rock axe swung in and half decapitated the dog. Tybalt Thorn stood over the old soldier and held out a hand.

    ‘On your feet Major.’

    Revic clasped the younger man’s hand and hauled himself to his feet. He loaded a couple of shells into the gun’s chamber and racked it.

    ‘Let’s get the fhuk outta here.’

    REVIC COVERED THEIR retreat with a pair of shotgun blasts while the remnants of the scuttler pack pursued them. They scrambled up the rock pile eventually reaching the summit. A wrecked hull of a hauler lay before them half buried in the rubble. The half eaten remains of few bodies littered the ground, likely victims of the collapse and then scavenged by the scuttlers.

    The pair raced towards the metallic hull hoping to find an entrance. Tybalt scanned his glow lamp over the wreckage unable to find a breech any where.

    Revic started to reload his shotgun feeding it shells in quick succession. The frantic panting of an oncoming scuttler made him pause for a moment. As the rabid dog bounded closer he used the butt of his weapon and smashed it into the animals face. The scuttler was knocked back and wasted little time to renew its attack. Revic didn’t give it much of a chance and blew its front leg off with the shotgun. The creature stumbled and whimpered in the darkness.

    ‘Up there.’ Tybalt exclaimed. ‘I think I see an opening.’

    He climbed on top of the wreckage and found what looked like an access hatch to passenger cabin. The doorframe of the hatch had twisted upon the impact of falling into the abyss. The hinges were partially buckled and Tybalt was sure he could pry the hatch open with the rock axe.

    The chain between them limited their movements and Revic had had to back up to the side of the wreckage while he fought off the last of the scuttlers.

    ‘Hurry up lad I don’t have many shells left.’ He said as he watched the snarling drooling creatures pace back and forth around him. He waited for one of them to strike first carefully trying to track each dog as it moved. He only had two shells left and was going to make them count.

    Tybalt continued to work on the hatch. The hinges were stubbornly refusing to give and he had to resort to cutting away them with rockaxe’s bladed edge. Each swing of the axe resulted in a metallic clang that echoed in the darkness. If the noise from Revic’s shotgun didn’t attract more scuttler packs then his cutting certainly would.

    ‘Hurry up, lad.’

    ‘I’ve almost got it.’ Tybalt said raising his arms for one final swing. He was just about to make the swing when the hatch began to move from the inside. He shone the glow lamp on the door as it opened and was greeted with a custodian’s shotgun pointing back at him. Tybalt took a step back and almost lost his footing.

    ‘You?’ Said a voice within the hatch, surprised.

    The light of the glow lamp pulled back the shadows cast within the vehicle to reveal the owner of the shotgun. Tybalt could scarcely believe it.

    ‘Ajaxx?’ He said.

    Revic involuntarily turned his head towards Tybalt upon hearing the mutant’s name, momentarily taking his eyes off the circling pack. He realised his mistake but it was too late. The scuttlers launched their final attack.

    As one they lunged at Revic with teeth and claws aplenty. They savaged the Guard veteran but he wasn’t about to give up so easily. He swung and battered the shotgun around like a club in a furious melee. But the creatures over powered him and managed to pull him to the floor. Tybalt was pulled off the wreck too by the chain that still bound the convicts together.

    ‘Help us.’ Cried Tybalt hoping the words would reason with Ajaxx’s conscience.

    Ajaxx, the so-called messianic leader of the mutant levies of the Bale Secundus mines thought for a moment. He leaned out of the hatch and witnessed the savagery below. He saw Major Revic, the leader of the Xenobane, all bloody and torn up, wrestling with the scuttlers rolling in the dust. Hearing the human’s cries as claws and teeth rendered his flesh bought him a perverse kind of pleasure. In a split second he weighed up his options. To help or to abandon the humans who had sowed him nothing but contempt.

    He began to close the hatch. Fastening the locks from the inside he could hear the muffled cries and snarls of the battle outside. He smiled.

    MAJOR DECIUS REVIC. Hero of the Kydon Campaign and founder of the Xenobane was dying. He’d fought in many battles on dozens of worlds and had faced all manner of the Imperium’s enemies. Throughout his career he’d suffered many wounds but the ones he was receiving now were easily the most mortal. He was soaked in his own blood and that of the scuttlers he’d killed. Somewhere in the melee he’d lost his shotgun and had resorted to using his rusty old shiv blade. He slashed and stabbed with the ungraceful fury one could expect of a hive ganger. This was a fight for his life and one that he was losing.

    Three of the beasts were on him at once slashing and biting. His forearms were cut to ribbons and almost every other place on his body had received some kind of wound. But he felt no pain. He was past that point now. What little adrenaline his body had left had numbed him allowing him to focus on the melee.

    Tybalt Thorn. Former captain of the Corsican Twelfth fought his own battle. He desperately fought his way towards Revic but each time he got closer another scuttler would appear. The dogs tried to overwhelm him too with their numbers and drag him to the floor but each time they were denied. If Tybalt went down he knew they were both finished.

    Revic sank his blade deep into the gaping jaws of the last scuttler. The dog gagged and spluttered a stream of blood that blinded Revic but he threw the dead animal off him. Slowly he pulled himself to his feet and wiped his eyes. He looked around at the carnage. The rock floor was slick with blood and littered with bodies. He still clenched his knife in his right fist.

    Propped up against the wrecked hull Tybalt sat panting and holding the wounds he’d received in the melee. His were nothing by comparison to Revic’s but the old soldier seemed unfazed. Or so he thought. The weary veteran staggered and few paces before his legs gave way and collapse in a heap next to Tybalt. They were both utterly exhausted but they weren’t safe yet.

    ‘Get us inside that hauler.’ Said Revic faintly.

    Tybalt got to his feet. He couldn’t climb on top of the wreck again without freeing himself from the Major. He picked up the rockaxe and with an almighty swing he severed the link that bound them.

    Back on top of the hauler he resumed his attack on the hatch hinges. There was fiery determination in his eyes and the fact Ajaxx was inside with a shotgun wasn’t going to stop him.
    Again the hatch opened from inside and Ajaxx aimed the weapon at him intent on ending this charade. But Tybalt wasn’t playing games anymore and jumped into the hatch feet first knocking the mutant back inside. They both crashed around the haulers uneven upturned interior, the shotgun clattering away. They struggled in the dimly lit cabin, Tybalt eventually overcoming Ajaxx with a salvo of heavy punches that knocked the mutant out cold.

    Victorious, he gathered up the shotgun and placed the barrel under the unconscious mutants chin. He pulled the trigger. Click

    Tybalt checked the weapon over. It had been a bluff. It wasn’t even loaded. He yelled out a curse and pulled the weapons strap over his body. He began searching the cabin, specifically for a medicae kit but instead found several pairs of custodian handcuffs. He bound the mutant’s hands around some of the vehicles twisted framework.

    Tybalt climbed back out of the hauler and kneeled at Revic’s side. He was in a bad way with bloody pouring from the slash wound in his back, not to mention the numerous other injuries he’d sustained.

    ‘Can you walk?’ Said Tybalt, trying to pick his comrade up.

    ‘I can mange.’ Insisted Revic, summoning up enough strength to stand.

    It took some effort for them to climb into the hauler with Revic eventually needing Tybalt to steady his climb into the vehicle. Once inside, he sat Revic down in one of the passenger seats, the Major letting out a hiss of pain as he did so.

    ‘There’s got to be a medicae kit around here.’ Said Tybalt.

    Revic spat a glob of blood on the floor before he noticed the handcuffed mutant, Ajaxx. ‘ You didn’t kill him then?’

    ‘He’s unconscious.’

    ‘That’ll soon make two of us.’ He quipped dryly. ‘Hurry up and find me that medicae kit.’ Tybalt moved into the back of the haulers ruined hold and began rummaging through the storage lockers.

    His wounds hurt like hell and he was feeling it more now as his adrenaline levels were subsiding. He examined his wounds running his fingers along the ridge of the rent on his back. It stung to touch it. On the floor, Ajaxx stirred with a groan slowly starting to come round. Revic smiled bearing his gritted bloody teeth.

    ‘As for you, mutant. We’re gonna settle some old scores.’

    + + +
    They have seen more death and ruin than another soldier sees in ten lifetimes.
    - General Sejanus

    Projects: Battle of Icarus Plateau | Lexxian IX "Sawtooths" | "The Famous" 42nd Drop Trooper Regiment
    Fiction: The Secundus - Short stories set on the penal colony of Bale Secundus - * New Chapter added 04/06/14 *

  14. #34
    Marine Svenson's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: The Secundus

    Wow, great stuff! Just read the whole thing over the course of 2 days, really gripping story!
    *Hecate:* “Of course it is ... if you were fighting in a giant bowl of custard”

  15. #35
    Chapter Master Ragsta's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Re: The Secundus

    Always a pleasure seeing more updates here, it read very indeed
    Imperial and Ork starships, random Imperial troops and now the developing zombie plague...
    Building the Orkmada- BFG Orks
    World War Z
    Quote Originally Posted by GomezAddams
    Right I'm going to head off, got cowgirls with massive racks to paint - its a hard life

  16. #36

    Re: The Secundus

    I have really enjoyed the story so far, any more updates on the way?


  17. #37

    Re: The Secundus

    Wow, I read this originally when you first posted it, saw it crop back up and thought "ooooh interesting". Its awesome bud please keep adding more to it

  18. #38
    Librarian Kravunhive's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    London, UK

    Re: The Secundus

    Thanks, Little Horus and Nasha for picking this up again. And thank you to everyone else who's be patient with the slow progress of this story and rest assured it still continues to be worked on. But for the last year or so I have been working on two other stories which I will hopefully start posting soon.

    As for the Secundus I have a couple of updates on the way...

    They have seen more death and ruin than another soldier sees in ten lifetimes.
    - General Sejanus

    Projects: Battle of Icarus Plateau | Lexxian IX "Sawtooths" | "The Famous" 42nd Drop Trooper Regiment
    Fiction: The Secundus - Short stories set on the penal colony of Bale Secundus - * New Chapter added 04/06/14 *

  19. #39

    Re: The Secundus

    Looking forward to reading those updates


  20. #40
    Librarian Kravunhive's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    London, UK

    Re: The Secundus

    -|[ THE SECUNDUS ]|-
    -[ Escalation ]-
    -[ part 1 ]-

    IT HAD BEEN forty-eight hours since the riot and subsequent industrial accident in Pit 06 mining district. During that time the prisoners of the Secundus had been on lockdown to prevent similar instances of unrest.

    Master-at-Arms Lyon Hess was an overseer of Block 5, Sector West 16 and had been so for roughly four years with a further seven years prior experience as a regular custodian. He’d followed protocol when reports of the riot from Central Security first began streaming over the vox. His team, a company of some fifty custodians, executed their orders with such proficiency that had this been a drill exercise they’d have passed with a commendation.

    Hess ordered the release of automatic weapons and additional fortification of the Security Tower that stood at the heart of the block. Most of the prisoners were already in their cells when the lock down was initiated with only a few stragglers needing to be re-caged. Since then the prisoners, being the animals they were, had destroyed their cells; smashed washbasins, burnt mattresses and soiled their sheets. A reduction in the blocks temperature had slowly brought them back under control.

    The cool down period had worked but now there was the aftermath to deal with. Typically the inmates not on work detail received an hour of exercise time each day and Hess would use this time to affect the servitor clean up crews. He ordered the release of the cell locks and activated a rune on the vox control panel.

    ‘The lockdown is over, all prisoners will come forth for inspection and head count.’ His voice echoed around the block.

    The klaxon sounded and was followed by the mechanical clanking of locks uncoupling and iron doors sliding back on their hinges. Wirily the eight hundred or so inmates of Block 5 came forward to be counted. Hess’s men moved through the block and along the upper tier banisters and conducted their count. The Countsman’s tally was off by nearly one hundred and thirty. Nearly a hundred of those had been assigned to the work detail in Pit 06 and had been marked as “missing unconfirmed dead". A few discoveries were made of murdered bodies and custodians swiftly apprehended those responsible. A settling of old scores was typical in moments of unrest.

    + + +

    Ius Verra, known in the Secundus as Venom and the leader of the Hydra gang, protested his innocence when the guards threw him against the wall and clapped his wrists in irons.
    ‘The fhuker went crazy and jumped me! I was only defending myself!’ The ganger spat as his face was pressed into the dank concrete wall.

    The cell floor was covered in a wide pool of congealing blood around the expired body of Venom’s gang and cellmate. Standing outside the cell, Hess looked at the expired man before him. ‘I wasn’t born yesterday, Verra.’ The custodian sighed.

    ‘Fhuk you.’ Cursed Venom before feeling the force of a fist into the small of his back.

    ‘Shall we throw him into solitary?’ Asked one of the arresting custodians.

    Hess shook his head. ‘The solitary cells for this block are already at capacity. He’ll have to remain in general population. Half rations, for six months, instead.’ He ordered. It seemed like a small price to pay for taking a life.
    Venom barely contained his sickly smile.

    + + +

    From across the atrium Kolt watched Venom literally getting away with murder. He’d spent the past couple of nights alone in his cell because Tybalt had been assigned to the work detail in Pit 06. Kolt’s boss, Thero Ostina had had Tybalt added to the roster in an attempt to forge an alliance with the Xenobane guardsmen under Decius Revic. Kolt believed the attempt was futile considering the complexities of prison politics between factions. He had no idea if Tybalt was alive. But it was all he could do was wait and see if Tybalt came back. Slim chances.

    + + +

    OLD THERO OSTINA didn’t have to leave his cell for the count. Indeed he didn’t even need to rise from his bed such was the level of his influence. But regardless Thero always woke early to read from his beloved books.

    His retainer, Severus had stood at the door when the custodians came around to perform the count. Severus never once flinched as a slightly overweight guard approached. The custodian was clearly intimidated at the bodyguard’s presence and avoided making direct eye contact with Severus.

    Monarch Ostina took his time to finish his current sentence before marking the page and returning the wrinkled book back to its rightful place on the shelf. The old Monarch pulled himself out of his chair and walked over to the cell entrance but never left the cell proper.
    ‘What news, Morrian?’ The Monarch said croakily.

    ‘Agrippa continues to search the Pit for his men. So far the only survivors have been a few cons and mutants.’

    ‘I see.’

    ‘But they paid the price for their part in the riots.’

    ‘Naturally. Agrippa must be angry that he lost so many good men.’

    The custodian laughed awkwardly, Ostina could see the beads of sweat forming on the man’s brow.

    ‘Thank you, Morrian, that’ll be all.’ Ostina said and returned to his chair. The fat custodian waited like a child waited to be rewarded with a treat. Severus produced several small glass vials that contained a liquid morphine substance called Drops. Morrian greedily snatched up his illicit reward and tucked them inside his uniform. He hurried away without saying another word.

    The Monarch sat in his chair and scratched the stubble on his chin. Severus entered his master’s cell.
    ‘Disgusting addict degenerate. He’d sell tales about his own mother if it meant getting a fix.’ The retainer commented.

    ‘I think it is time I spoke to the Chief Custodian personally, Severus. Arrange a meeting as soon as possible.’

    ‘Yes, lord.’ Severus acknowledged and backed out of the cell.

    + + +

    YARD TIME WAS a cherished moment and a brief respite in the caged lives of the Secundus inmates. Typically an hour a day was assigned for fresh air, usually after the morning meal. It was the only time the prisoners got to see the hazy deep red sun shine through the thick clouds of the grey Secundus sky.

    The yard was a concrete enclosure several hundred metres square and sided by high walls topped with sharp razor wire. Overlooking the yard were a collection of gun nests crewed by hardwired servitors that were slaved into the firing systems. They panned their sights around the enclosure scanning for signs of inmate unrest or escape. Additionally pairs of custodians patrolled the square among the convicts.

    The majority of the inmates of Block 5 milled around aimlessly, making small talk or taking the chance to do something physical. Prison politics wasn’t just confined to the jailhouse, even out here the yard was carved up into different territories. Groups of gangers and other factions protected their sections of the yard.

    Persephone Moss sat alone in one unclaimed corner of the yard, her head bowed and her eyes closed. She sat concentrating, blocking out the sights and sounds of the busy yard. When she focused her mind she was able to pull back the veil of the real world and reveal an ethereal mirror projection populated by the life-souls of those all around her. The souls swirled about her, some calling to her by name, others pulling at her arms and clothes. Tortured and tormented, these souls were haunted by the cruel deeds their lives had wrought and the wrongs they had inflicted upon countless victims. A thousand voices overlapped at once whispering secrets and offering temptations she struggled to refuse.

    She focused her mind and pushed the voices away. The souls of those around her were as black as coal and evil, some more than others; a rare few were golden hinting at steaks of kindness or slivers of remorse. But there was one that had shone more that these. A beacon of light she had detected in her first moments here. She knew his name and while his material form was lost to her she could find his soul. She called out for him in her mind. 'Tybalt,' she cried, 'Tybalt!'

    A hand touched her shoulder and broke her concentration. The material veil was drawn back again hiding the souls from her inner sight. She looked at the hand on her shoulder, her eyes were wide and tearful. A soft voice spoke to her.
    ‘Are you alright child?’

    She looked at the owner of the hand. A middle aged man crouched beside her trying to comfort her, she pulled away frightened.

    ‘It’s ok. I am not going to hurt you. I saw you here and wondered if you would like some company. We don’t get many women in this block. They are usually housed over in the women only facilities.’

    ‘I’m fine. I don’t need anything.’ She insisted, wiping the tears away from her eyes.

    ‘But yet you’re crying? Said the man. ‘This place can be tough on a person’s soul. It wears them down, makes them crack.’

    Persephone looked at him. ‘It’s a sea of lost souls here. Many of them evil.’

    ‘All souls are lost. But there is always His guiding light. Without it we wander from the Emperor’s Path and are open to temptation and the machinations of evil. The Emperor is our only Salvation.’ He proclaimed.

    She looked deep into to eyes and could see a hint of golden light shining in his soul.

    ‘What is your name?’

    Persephone told him.

    ‘I am Benedict. This place can be very lonely, Persephone, if you ever need to talk my cell door is always open. At least it is sometimes.’ He laughed awkwardly and stood up and was about to walk off into the crowd when he stopped and turned to her again.

    ‘A group of us gathers in the yard to offer our thanks to the God-Emperor and ask for his forgiveness. Personally I find it cleanses the soul and helps me look for the answers I seek. Would you care to join us?’

    She thought on this and asked, ‘Do you ever find what you are looking for?’

    ‘Yes. Sometimes we do,’ Said Benedict. ‘The Emperor works in mysterious ways.’

    ‘If it’s alright I’d like to join you.’ She said and stood up. They walked through the crowd of inmates together silently. A curious young girl, thought Benedict. Very curious indeed.

    + + +

    Inmate number BS41-5248, Benedict Daynce. Convicted 979.M41. Member of the Ministorum Priesthood. Excommunicated.
    Sentence: Life imprisonment to Bale Secundus.

    -[ continued in part 2 ]-
    They have seen more death and ruin than another soldier sees in ten lifetimes.
    - General Sejanus

    Projects: Battle of Icarus Plateau | Lexxian IX "Sawtooths" | "The Famous" 42nd Drop Trooper Regiment
    Fiction: The Secundus - Short stories set on the penal colony of Bale Secundus - * New Chapter added 04/06/14 *

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