— 1 —
“Gods and monsters come in many shapes and form, but none more deadly than the many-armed human kind who can both create life,
and just as quickly, destroy it.”
The dwarf planet Chandra, designate EL10 or hell by some, was simply called the Rock by the residents of Vikram’s Landing. The ramshackle shanty town—that had started out life as nothing more than a cluster of miner’s survival pods sheltered in a maze of interconnecting gullies—had grown exponentially the minute a pocket of the highly prized, and much sought after, crystals had been discovered. To the Ceres mining company, however, Vikram’s Landing was nothing short of a pustulant boil and no matter how much they squeezed, the damn place refused to give-up, let alone die. Vikram’s Landing, against all the odds, steadfastly clung to life just like those who populated it.
The independent miners had set up camp well before the Company had arrived and had found ways to survive in Chandra’s harshest of conditions. And whether or not Company employees, indentured or not, were bound to fork over their hard-earned credit to the Company for everything from their accommodation to their over-priced utilities, residents of Vikram found inventive ways to makes ends meet.
Like the time Ma Issy Camden and her boys figured out a way to syphon off a trickle of power from the Company’s then fledgling power grid that first year the Company were setting themselves up and establishing Main Town. Both sides learnt bitter lessons from the encounter, both sides learnt they would forever and always be in a battle of wills one the Company thought they could win.
Vikram, and its inhabitants, had other ideas.
— 1 —
THE CRATER, even at seven clicks distance, was clearly visible from space. The destructive forced needed to have created the dent on such a large scale was phenomenal. It was as if someone, some ancient God, had taken a gigantic hammer and hit it the moon on one side. Gasps had echoed around the darkened command bridge as images had popped into life on the master screens up above.
Whispers now endured as commands were given and ‘Aye-ayes’ of acknowledgment barked in reply. The bridge was alive with subdued activity but no one, busy at console or board, could concentrate for more than a moment before they glanced back up at the slowly looming mass of the devastated moon.
The moon itself was now on a rather awkward ellipse towards a small planet—that held it in its thrall—one of three uninhabitable desolate rocks that orbited the system’s star. There was every possibility it would crash into the small planet causing yet more local devastation, and who knew what sort of long term repercussions that would have in the future for the local area.
The Kigva, and her small flotilla of ships, had taken a number of hours to pass through just one of the many debris fields that littered this whole area of space, inbound toward the desolate moon.
— 1 —
“The darkness does not swallow the light, but gives birth to it.”
On this particular day, a glorious sunny day in mid-winter here on Pantheon the central world of the Imperium, the imposing figure of Ravan Tal strode with a purpose across the soft-pink marbled floor. Each footfall of her boots echoing about the cavernous interior of the Odessa’s Palace. Tall slender columns of fluted marble soared into a vaulted roof above, which was decorated in the renaissance style of another era. Heavenly cherubs looked down on the Inquisitor as she passed, but her eyes remained focused on a single point some distance hence. A huge arched doorway flanked by two soldiers dressed in their ornate palace livery. Each holding pikes stood at ease fending off hours of silence and boredom.
The Inquisitor approached like a black-clad figure out of history, cloak swirling behind her like the flapping wings of some huge monstrous raven of Pantheon myth. All she needed to complete the picture of menace was the long dark flowing hair of a Valkan. As it was, the Inquisitor wore her dark hair short, brushed back from her face, which was usually hidden beneath the hood of her cloak when out in public places. The one thing that identified her, if not her elevated status, was the large ornate silver clasp with the Inquisitor’s Sigil on her cloak.