Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Purging of Tartaron

"Then I say the planet is lost! The Emperor's grace must be granted to those pitiful souls, and the heretics responsible for this debacle should be destroyed, vanquished before their filth can taint the system's citizenry any further."

Murmurs of agreement echoed from the darkened cells spaced evenly along both walls of the council chamber. Princep Franco looked obviously satisfied with his colleagues' positive response as he folded his arms and retreated backwards into his own recess. For a short time, each council member conversed quietly with his immediate neighbors. Finally, a slow, deep stocatto counted five beats as the council speaker signaled for attention with his gnarled staff on the ancient wooden floor.

"Bring to order, brothers. If there are no counterpositions, and we have not heard one yet, I believe we should draw the debate to a close. The resolution for martial response to the so-called Usurpers of Tartaron is hereby passed, let the Emperor be praised. Call end of session."

"Here, here," the council answered, before the members began to quietly shuffle from their stations. Tradition demanded total silence until the last man had left the chamber.

As Speaker Wendell passed through the outside doors, he began to move more briskly, his posture straightened, and his demeanor darkened substantially. The humble and wise personality of the council elder gave way to the cynical distrust of the inquisitor. He gestured to a servant waiting nearby in the chamber wing and spoke low and tersely as they walked.

"Fetch ye to Sister Belandra, and tell her our hands are become free on Tartaron. The mercy of His flame will be granted. Also, instruct Captain Braun to muster a small force of his best men and equipment. Several platoons with support elements. Our adversaries will have the advantage of defending their own homes, and I shall want a diverse set of tools if I truly intend to excise this sickness."

"Of course, Lord. I'll arrange it at once." The attendant bowed and turned to deliver the inquisitor's orders. Belandra and the Sisters of Banon could be depended on to accomplish their righeous task and inspire the men of the local garrison to their fullest potential on the battlefield. Still, with so much lost and so much left to lose on Tartaron, it was not enough to be highly prepared, highly capable. Tasks like these required a stacked deck. He would need just one more tool for this job.

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