“You going tomorrow night?”
Roger lifted his eyes from the thick stat-report in his hands.
“What do you think?”
Derek leaned back and flung his feet onto his own desk that butted against Rogers.
“C’mon man; Ryan is going, she digs you, you dig her; when are you two just going to get it over with?”
“I’m working here, De”
“So? I’m working too; doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the spoils, right?”
Roger sighed and placed the report on the desk. It was dead anyway; nothing that warranted any real attention.
“Look… I, er. Saw Kelly the other day. Last week.”
Derek nearly chocked on his coffee and sprang forward.
“Wait wait wait; when you say you saw her you mean…”
Roger sunk lower until his head pounded the desk.
Derek clenched his eyes and his fists, opening and closing his mouth but producing no sound. Roger didn’t look up.
“Are you ready to say it?”
“No no,” Derek maneuvered his chair so that he was directly in front of the larger man. “I want to remember this.”
Roger sat up and swiveled to face his partner.
“Okay.” Derek took in a deep breath. “Go.”
“You were right.”
Silence hung between the two.
“And,” Roger sighed, “I’ll never do it again.”
Derek opened a broad smile. “Yeah, right.”
Roger pushed the wheeled chair backwards and got up with a heavy sigh. Six weeks he had made it; six solid weeks without crawling back to Kelly Price; bane of his fucking existence.
“I’m getting coffee. Outside coffee; want some?”
“Na,” Derek want back to his desk and buried his face in a scream sheet. “Try not to fuck Kelly on your way.”
“Shut up.” He snarled, his huge bulk slamming into the double doors and propelling him outside.
The streets of New Conquest were greasy and wet from morning rain, and the sky was grey and misty eyed; ready to break down again at any moment. Roger pulled the collar on his coat close and stuffed his hands in the wide pockets as he made his slow, laborious walk down Imperial Ave.
What the fuck had he been thinking?
No, it was more than that. He had been a member of the Inquisition for six years, and was a spec ops pacifier before that. Gene altered and pre-coded for supra human strength and ability that pushed the limits of the Henley Act. He schooled in Europe and south Asia, trained with the Black Gate, got his paper from the Chair itself; literally built to be the perfect human being.
His nemesis weighed 115lbs and was almost a foot shorter than him.
His moody thoughts lifted when he found himself in front of the coffee shop, but he couldn’t make his way inside. An urge slicked down the back of his spine and his eye twitched.
He spun on his heel and splashed his way across the mag traffic; his official ID stopping movement across the grid ever so slightly to let him pass, and then he dove into the green framed doorway that smoked from the ally.
Inside, the thunder of electromagnet entanglement slammed into the doors dampeners and the ancient glow of dying chemical lights splashed the synth wood bar top with sickly color that hit him through a fog of cannabis and tobacco smoke.
Really? This is what you’re going to do?
The flimsy stool groaned under his weight, and the mechanoid blinked to life.
“Howdy, stranger; what brings you in here on a cold-”
“Functional only.” He snarled.
“Functional speech. Drink?”
“Whisky, any kind, leave the bottle.”
The human machine hybrid reached under the bar and produced a bottle filled with a thin, amber liquid and a square wooden cup.
“Enjoy.” It said monotonously before sitting down and dimming its eyes.
And midlife crisis in three, two
Roger shut the AI up after the second long pull out of the bottle.
Space twisted in the dark ally. A cat darted away from the unnatural shift as visible light fractured and fell apart in ways physics were insufficient to explain. The rain had returned and seemed to drain towards the epicenter of the quiet, visual abomination, when a bright static flash erupted off a nearby incinerator and the twisted frame deposited a lithe, black mass onto the wet ground beneath the groaning steel canyon of the city.
The room was softening slightly, but the sequencing was doing its work, fully revved up and the small buzz was evaporating rapidly.
“Hey.” Roger grunted, more than half the bottle gone already.
The mechanoid lit up.
“Got anything stronger?”
“Health advisory; consumption at present rate can result in rapid onset alcohol poisoning-”
“Im sequenced, I need something-”
“Imperial Law prohibits the sale of intoxicating agents beyond set level for individuals currently undergoing sequence addictive therapy. In order to-”
Roger finally found his badge somewhere in the bulky coat and flashed it.
“Recognized; Imperial Inquisitor Roger Armstrong. Removing restrictions. Suggested synthetic heroin composite-”
“Just get me something stronger.”
A gunshot echoed through the dusty bar from the ally.
Roger stashed the badge and was on his feet before the sound was through the building; the rush of chemical enhancers slithered through him sickly and he felt the surge of combat alertness annihilate the alcohol and its effects.
And we’re back.
He slammed through the back rooms and past the noise of desperate lovemaking, tweekers coming down from a binge, and the rustle caged animals.
High impact, mag or better; sure to be solid state; careful.
Another shot thwanged beyond the corboposit doorway. Roger lifted his heavy Amramax SS and his grip charged it on as a targeting reticle winked to life across his vision. Behind him, one of the fleshworkers peaked out of a small room.
“Back inside, mam.”
The door unlocked with his proximity, and a blink sheathed it open.
Roger swung his massive arms in front of his face and stepped from the stale air of the bar into the weeping city streets; high pre-molecular bonded walls reached above him, and he maneuvered his way around a massive buttress that supported everything above the old structure. Orange lamplight did its best to expose color, but the sky was almost black with the storm, and the ally was a haven for darkness.
“Imperial officer; do not move and put your hands where I can-”
Then he saw it.
The lean, tall figure was draped in a black trench coat from some bygone era; probably made of real animal skin; his hair, thick and lengthy was painted to his face, and in his hand a bizarre electrically charged weapon dangled; his onboard did its best but could find no record of any kind for either the retinal scan or the weapon.
“What the fuck…”
Surrounding the man, the heaving masses of organic life writhed and bled rivers of black ooze that smoked in the rain; Roger couldn’t see clearly from this vantage point, but they looked like some kind of illegal genetic mutation; brilliant and horrible in the flashes of light that bathed the ally, they gave off a rank oder that smelled noxious and terrible.
The kid, who had to be no more than 16, was covered in it. Roger stiffened.
“Do not move!” he hissed, rain coming down his face in sheets.
“Wha- where, where am I?” the child looked up, the black blood of the fallen creatures was smeared over his features, and thick glasses masked his eyes.
“Drop the gun!”
“I said drop it!”
He looked down, as if he had forgotten he was even carrying a weapon.
“Jesus Christ.” He let the gun fall.
“Roger, Jesus, Roger I-”
He started to move forward, but a warning shot from the SS blew a shower of stone across the kids face and he stopped.
“How do you know my name? What are these things?” The AI on his chest flooded data into his mind, but nothing took; whatever these were, there was no record of them, and whomever this kid was, he hadn’t been born in known space; or he was a damn good dipper.
“Oh fuck; you don’t know me yet?” The boy raised his hands in surrender. “Roger its me, William ah Kenix; I called myself Kenix I – I think… I’m not-”
The Pfft of an air propelled device blew past his ear, and planted itself into the boys neck.
Roger swung his tree trunk arms with the speed of a blade, but the data feed told him he was too late. Whatever it was slammed into his chest, and the force shuddered past the weave and shook his bones.
He dropped the gun before the assailant could take it; no need, they were in close.
Wheeling back from the blow, the mass of inky shadow that had delivered it billowed across his vision.
Cape, fast; meant to disorient.
But the arms darted out with skill and speed.
Roger shifted his weight so that the blows lanced off target and his bulk soaked up the hits like sunlight. The moves were fast, and he still didn’t have a proper look when something flashed across his view. The figures, now manlike and clearly masked moved past him, but the anti-dazzel help together and Roger wrapped two massive hands around the cape.
“Frak of a day.”
He pulled and the weight of his opponent toppled like rock; off balance but soon regained, a booted foot sliced by his head, missing only just.
Fast, fast fast.
One more tug brought him in close, and he slammed an open palm into the masked face; the only two points of light from white slits of eyes.
“Prmehdel” said the man beneath Rogers crushing fist.
“What?” he replied, loosening the grip slightly to hear him speak.
The masked man gently laid his hand on Rogers arm.
At once, Roger saw the spiderweb of cable that snaked out of the arm length glove the man wore, tumbling across the chest and vining out of a small backpack, but it was too late.
The voltage exploded through his body like electric rivers; soaking him in nerve ripping pain and shorting out the AI. His movements locked up, and when the pack shorted, the charge bounced his huge frame across the ally and into the ancient wall, crumbling it.
“Stay down.” The voice behind the mask graveled, and looking up from the pile of stone, the black visage of a shapeless man towered over his fallen form; a shape he knew all too well.
Training had him springing up like a ball bouncing, but the tech didn’t respond; the currents that ran the AI and regulated his splicing changed half a million times a second; matching frequency was the closest thing to impossible, but there was no doubt; he was rebooting, and his organic components had ben drugged by the glove.
“Im- impossible. You.”
“Roger, I’m not here to hurt you, and we don’t have much time.” Same crushed stone voice that gritted like rough weave.
“Wait – you are; I know what you are.”
The shape… it can’t be.
“You have to tell me, Roger; what year is it?”
“What?” the system was coming online, antigens counteracting whatever cocktail the-
He can’t be, thats not possible.
“ROGER! Listen to me!” He pulled an old 2d image from his belt; an image that make his heart sink.
“No!” he managed before a well placed bladed hand knocked the air out of him.
“If you don’t answer me right now, she dies.” The shadow with eyes pulled out what looked like a detonator; impossible to be sure without the AI.
“If you hurt her, I sware-”
“WHAT YEAR IS IT?”
“4998.” He gasped.
The gravel was gone, and a smooth voice blew past the mask. “No, Jesus no…”
He moved with speed to the crumpled body of the boy and placed a gloved hand beneath his nose which sent him coughing and convulsing awake. As the rain continued its torrential march, the distant sound of sirens boomed off the city walls.
Roger stacked himself into a sitting position.
Make it faster.
“What did you do to him?”
“I dosed him; he could kill us all if he regains full functionality. Do you know me?”
“I know what you look like, but thats not possible.”
“What do I look like?” The inky form gathered itself into a column of black topped with the burning white lenses.
“You look like-”
“Nightflight?” He gritted.
“Nightwatch. The old Nightwatch from the war.”
“Hmmm.” His head bowed and plunged into a moment of thought as the sirens got closers.
Roger stayed sitting, but life hummed through his muscles.
The boy who called himself Kenix was standing, but the dose was still guiding his movements; glassy eyes and wobbly on what looked like a fighters stance.
“Roger,” the masked man said, snapping from his thought. “You and I must talk; we have to and soon, but first you need to trust me.” He produced a small comm from the blackness of his belt and clipped it to Rogers coat.
The sirens were touching down outside the narrow ally when the cape extended an arm and launched a swing-line through the air. Roger staggered to a standing position; radio suddenly rebooting and flooding his senses; he cranked it all down.
“A bluff; I’ll contact you tonight.”
Suddenly, the lenses flared and he seethed out words dripping with hate.
“WHO- Who is that?”
Roger glanced back at the enormous mural that dominated the wall.
“Where the fuck – who is that? That’s the fucking Emperor.”
The shadows of Inquisitors bobbed across the side of the building as they flooded into the ally.
You’re up; ice this guy.
But something held Roger back; something in the stance of the dark figure draped in shadows and the bobbing body of the kid.
“You’ve seen that face before?”
“I have.” he said, attaching the swing line to his belt.
“But – who did you know him as?”
The line went taught, and the agents exploded into view from behind them.
“I knew him by his true name,” he said, somehow smoking weariness and sorrow through the suit that hid every feature.
“What is it? Tell me!”
What are you doing?
“Destroyer,” he said sadly. “His name is Destroyer.”
With a gut wrenching speed the line pulled the two men into the darkness of the upper buttresses, and their bio signature winked out of existence across the Imperial spectrum.