Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Threat to Liani Alpha

Therin Calhoun surveyed the Governor's court as he entered the opulent audience chamber. Despite his sunken eyes, the Astropath had no difficulty recognizing the myriad nobles, each dressed in the garish finery that was in season this year. The Liani system was a prosperous one, with several productive agri-worlds. Powerful mining cartels extracted a number of useful minerals from the asteroid belt. The manufactorums of the hive world Liani Alpha turned these minerals into both civilian products and war materiel used in the Ultima Segmentum, the Segmentum Obscurus, and even the Segmentum Solar. A sizable portion of all of that wealth went here, to the nobles that ruled the system and the Governor that reigned over them in turn.

The system had not known any substantial violence in almost a millennium, since an Ork Waaagh had been repelled at great cost. Therin thought of the proud martial tradition this had created, how it had slowly decayed into the sad state it was today, and how thin-blooded these nobles were compared to their ancestors. They grew fat while others fought for their security. He was a gifted Astropath, and he suspected that he had been assigned to this world as some part of a trade negotiation. They certainly had no urgent need for someone of his skills. He couldn't recall the last time he had to conduct a difficult sending.

Putting on a somber face, Calhoun prepared to make his monthly performance. He stepped in front of Governor Auriol's throne and awaited acknowledgment. The Governor looked up from the courtesan he was currently flirting with, and composed himself.

"Welcome, Master Calhoun. Are you prepared for this month's reading?" The Governor requested a monthly reading of the Emperor's Tarot, loving to hear predictions of solace and prosperity.

"At my lord's whim," answered Therin. The Governor nodded to his attendants, who rushed forward with a small table and stool for the Astropath. From within the sleeve of his grey robe, Therin drew forth his tarot deck, a stack of seventy-eight crystal wafers, specifically designed for him and tuned to his psychic abilities. He took a seat and began laying the cards. The members of the court quieted, moving to observe the ritual.

Therin always used the simplest layout for the Governor's Court. The five card spread was the easiest to interpret, and provided more than enough information for the Governor's superficial needs. He flipped the first card, and his eye's widened in shock.

"The Shattered World, upright," he announced loudly. A murmur of fear went through his audience. "It conveys war on a massive scale." He flipped the second card.

"The Beast, rightward. This portends savage creatures battling each other. Some come to consume the world, others to save it." His hands trembled as he flipped the third card, but he took heart when he saw it.

"The Adeptus Astartes, upright. The Emperor's Angels battle to secure the world from its invaders." Therin flipped the fourth card, the second signifier. It should provide further illumination on the first card, describing the beasts that would savage the world.

"The Lost Child, inverted. Ancient forces return, finding everything they remember has changed." Therin gulped. "This card is incompatible with the Beast, and so portends a different force. More than one enemy approaches us." He flipped the final card.

"The Inquisitor, upright. Hidden motives and daggers in the dark. The warriors of the Emperor will not be as we expect, but they serve him nonetheless." Therin raised his empty eye sockets to regard the Governor. "This is a grave reading. Enemies converge from many sides, and only the Imperium's most elite armies can stand against them."

"There are no Astartes in our system, and we've no sign of enemies approaching," Governor Auriol announced, calming the panicked muttering of his nobles. "Even so, your readings have always been accurate before, Master Calhoun. We shall double our scans for enemy activity, and increase patrols at the edge of the system."

"And Master Calhoun, prepare yourself to send a request for aid, broadcast as wide as possible. If your reading is accurate, we must be ready."

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