The Light Cutter breached the thick layer of atmospheric cloud and smog that coated the planet and was greeted by the leviathan scale and glittering lights of Century Hive. The mega metropolis consumed the land around it for miles and its central Spire reached high into the sky but seemed to just fall short of piercing the cloud layer.
Looking out of the cabin windows the passengers of the Light Cutter were awestruck with their surroundings. It was both terrifying and incredible to think that mankind could achieve such things. But their training had taught them to push aside their feelings, to look beyond the cosmetic and into hearts and minds of world and its people. But for a moment the cadets regained what it was like to feel anything again other than suspicion.
Cadet Sevrin Moss absorbed her surroundings with the fanaticism her training had honed her to do. In her mind she referenced back to the layouts and district maps she had been studying intently these last four months on the journey to this world, Monarch.
During the voyage she had had access to the hives political, sociological, economical and criminological records and had taken much time to acquaint herself with these various demographics to a level where she felt as though she had lived on Monarch for several years. As the Light Cutter skipped over the surface she began to recognise certain landmarks. Unmistakeable was the Sprawl, the lawless zones of block housing that lay before the cities Curtain Wall.
Like the thousands of hive worlds spread across the Imperium, Monarch and its capital, Century Hive was archetypal of their kind. Massive overpopulation strained resources to breaking point and unemployment and crime were rampant. For her first posting, Sevrin Moss definitely felt she was being thrown in at the deep end.
The Light Cutter dropped several hundred feet so that it just clipped the tops of the hab blocks that sped past under it. The craft manoeuvred to align itself with the monumental Century Gate. The Gate stood at the entrance to the hive. Ornate and intimidating its scale was breathtaking. But Sevrin knew it was more than just a gate; it was a fortress and a checkpoint into the hive. A permanent garrison was stationed here with approximately sixty thousand men at arms. The Light Cutter was enveloped in its shadow as it past through it.
From the window Sevrin could clearly make out the opened gate pulled back on ancient hinges. She could also just make out the traffic on the arterial roadways below as hundreds of thousands of autocar lights streamed into and out of the hive along the main arterial routes.
When the craft cleared the gate the view opened up exposing the expanse of the inner hive. To say it was colossal was an understatement. The central Spire rose into the sky like a giant iron mountain. Three separate tiers constructed around it like a pyramid, each level representing a different step on the social ladder.
Sevrin could make out more districts and zones as the crafted headed for its landing zone. The manufactory zones of Primus, Secundus and Tertrius formed an industrial heartland, which was surrounded by endless blocks of worker habs.
The Upper Tier was reserved for the Imperial nobility, wealthy guilder families and the like. Great estates and palatial housing lined the avenues while monuments to Imperial Glory stood in marble paved plazas. The grand architecture and religious regalia of the Golden Basilica dwarfed the financial pulse at Grand Commercia and adjoining Guild Halls.
At the centre of all this wealth and splendour stood the House of Directives, which was the government centre that administered the running of Century hive. Its classical gothic architecture design was clearly inspired by the masons of Terra’s past.
The Light Cutter banked as it circumvented the spire. A looming and ominous structure came into view and Sevrin knew that they were almost at their destination.
The Arbites Precinct stood out from the other buildings of the Upper Tier. It closer resembled a fortress than a building of governance. Its dark grey stone walls were lined with towers and battlements manned by servitor’s hard-linked into the various defensive weapons. The Precinct building itself was a tall blocky structure but had extensive grounds to house the various facilities needed to maintain a strict vigil over this world.
The craft’s speed decreased dramatically as it came into land on the landing platform. The pilot said something over the inter-comm but Sevrin didn’t catch it. She was too anxious about her new assignment.
The Cutter touched down the landing platform with a soft thud, the impact suppressors of the landing legs absorbing much of the impact. A boarding ramp lowered and the passengers disembarked in single file. In the bay a Proctor in the typical dress of the Adeptus Arbites ordered them into rank and file as they finally touched solid ground for the first time in months. Sevrin’s legs felt funny as they readjusted themselves to non-simulated gravity.
Marshal Andonis Van stood on the landing platform as the band of fifty cadets disembarked the Cutter. New bloods all and untested in the field. They came from all over the Imperium, the orphans of Imperial servants and soldiers and like him had almost certainly grown up in one of the infamous Schola Progenium’s. Most of them were no more than muscle to bolster depleted patrol teams but a few were clearly not street Arbites, probably verispex technicians or cogitator programmers that had a vital but supporting role in administering the Emperor’s justice.
Some, if they survived, were destined for something more.
When they were assembled the Proctor had them stand to attention. They did so and gave the salute of their order. Marshal Van approached them, his heavy boots clanging on the solid floor of the landing bay. He walked up the line looking at no one but he stopped when he reached Sevrin Moss and removed his helm. His revealed face was a long tale of hardship, decorated with scars and marks that told of a lifetime of service. A serious burn mark covered his neck betrayed by the telltale healing signs of synth-skin grafted on to repair the damage. His head was clean-shaven revealing more battle scars. He spoke.
‘I am Marshal Van, overseer of this Precinct and the jurisdiction of Century Hive. This hive is infected with a disease that lingers within the soul of every man, woman and child. That disease is disobedience.’ He paused, looking over the faces of his new cadets.
‘Disobedience rots at our society from the inside out. What starts out at simple unruliness can quickly swell into outright defiance and eventually into open rebellion.’ Another pause.
‘Disobedience is everywhere and it is your duty to route it out and eradicate it. The status quo must be upheld. Loyalty to the God-Emperor and to the Imperium must be maintained. No one is beyond the reach of the Lex Imperium. Even you.’
He allowed the words to sink in. How could these fresh Cadets go on to instil fear in the population if they didn’t experience it themselves? Fear was a powerful tool.
Marshal Van paced the line again retracing his steps. He re-secured his combat helm. He looked almost sinister, only his jaw being visible, his eye hidden behind the visor. He took one last look at the group.
‘Duty starts at 08:00 hours, local time tomorrow. Briefing at 08:30 sharp in the auditorium. Proctor Kless will escort you to your barracks.’
With that Marshal Van departed the landing bay heading inside the precinct building and out of sight. Proctor Kless began shouting orders and the cadets marched in single file before being escorted off of the landing bay.