I am a troubled man. My profession is even more troublesome. I stood on a viewing deck aboard Port Noct, a vast station in the void between the Kurgan worlds. I took a pull on the lho stick in my mouth as my contact wandered up to me. Smiled at her. She grimaced at the mere sight of me. The Inquisitorial agent now coming to a mere bounty hunter.
"Walk with me." I nodded and pulled on the lho again, falling into step as we wandered down the void-terrace. "Lord Ivar has need of you."
"Aye, and why has Lord Ivar not come to me himself? Why hasn't he invited me to see him personally?"
"Because he is a Lord Inquisitor and that kind of thing is beneath him. This is a suitable location for recruitment as any," she waved her hand to the vast shantytown where void-born serfs lived their lives in the slums of a space station. Of course, I thought.
"Beautiful. I am sure he is a wonderful man."
"You are lucky I stand sarcasm. The target is on one of the Kurgan worlds, of course. You are familiar?"
"Aye. I know this is frontier space to the Imperium. I have heard talk in the taverns that pirates and raiders have set their sites on these planets. Easy pickings. Very lightly-defended. I know the truth is an armada of Legionaries are en-route to conquer the place and are using it as a jump-point to take the fatter systems nearby." The woman was stunned, silent.
"You have intercepted our communications, then."
"Aye, I have an expert in that area. I'm a no-stone-unturned kind of guy." I tossed the spent lho stick to the ground and stepped on it, proceeding to open my flak vest and lit another stick.
"Rude. Well, you are in this now. There is no abandoning the operation, then."
"Or I die."
"Or you die."
"Good. Where can I get started?"
"There is a cult belonging to an agent of the legion on Mortia VI. They are operating within the capital city, if it can be called that, and are feeding intel to the armada. Take them out."
"You don't have people for this?"
"Right now, you are our people."
"And what about the armada itself?" I blew out a puff of smoke to hide the absolute fear within me. I knew what we were fighting, and I did not like it.
"Right now, that is Ordos business. Go." I grunted, nodded, and left.
"Anything to get off this damn thing," I waved goodbye and returned to my borrowed flat by the docking bay, where the armed freighter Lion's Claw was clamped into the station's hold.
It was a small ship, but it got me and the rest of the crew where they needed to go, and was helmed by a less-than-famous Rogue Trader Djanko Hakkon. The man needed to desperately resupply when we had arrived as well. This is going to be an interesting run. I have stepped up from chasing pirates and gangers to fighting a cult. Damn. I went through my things I had brought ashore. A shortsword of which I was too familiar with, my old combat shotgun, taken from a pirate vessel, a bolt pistol and that was that. I stopped by a small hub in the slums while en-route to the docks where I picked up a few more packs of lho-sticks and a few cigars as a gift for Hakkon. He'd enjoy them, he loved cigars. I took my gear and found the Claw awaiting me.
"Hey! We're ready to get going a day ago." cried Tholt, the Squat voidsman at me. I shrugged.
"Business deemed I had to wait a day late. Sorry." I tossed the little guy a cigar.
"You're lucky I don't keelhaul you."
"You're right I am." I made my way straight to the bridge, explained Hakkon the business. Told him it was important. We're all in this business together. We all split the profits. There's a reason we're in a frigate and not a star galleon.
"We are lackeys of the Ordos now, Ask. Hmm?"
"It would seem so." I shrugged, offering him the cigars. He took them with a grin and a bow.
"Well then. I can give you a compliment of my guardsmen and-"
"I don't need a compliment to help me out where I'm going. We need to make for Mortia VI."
"That's quite the hellish place or so I've been told."
"Well good that means we're getting closer to our quarry." I cracked my neck. "When can we be ready?"
"We can move out now, we'll be there in less than a week."
"Good. Throne. Let's get a move on. I don't want to be there more than I'd have to be."
And that is the worst part. The calm before the storm. In a tin can floating in an empty, cold void.