The rugged old transport pulled up to Bryant’s building, and he shrugged off sleep hurriedly. Bryant yawned and stretched as he rose from his seat. After his joints had stopped popping and complaining, he moved to the door and muttered his thanks to the driver. Again he was met with only a begrudging good night. Man, the commissar must really be going nutty if he’s making the transport guys pull extra duty Bryant thought to himself. He shook his head violently trying to pry sleep’s grip on his brain loose as he staggered to his doorway. He swiped his key card and stepped inside as soon as the door began to open.
Yawning again, Bryant fired up his personal computer and poured himself a cup of tea from the tea pot languishing on his stovetop. After he poured himself a cup of tea, Bryant returned to his computer and inserted the stolen key card into the receiver on the keyboard. As the computer continued to go through the rebooting process, Bryant stood up and paced a little bit to ward off the wave of exhaustion that was threatening to overwhelm him.
It didn’t take long before his computer fired up and he could tell by the difference in lighting that it had arrived at the login screen. When Bryant took his seat in front of his monitor, he almost spit his tea all over the expensive equipment. Maneuvering the screen to bring it into more focus, he was stunned by what he saw. Instead of the usual blank login dialogue box, Bryant saw Commissar Kulinov in the name slot. Even more surprising, there were anonymous dots already keyed into the password slot as well. Figuring it was worth a shot, Bryant hit the enter key. His computer screen went completely black.
“Shit!” Bryant swore and slammed his tea down as he leaned forward hurriedly in his seat. He began to hit keys furiously, but before he got very far an hourglass appeared in the middle of the screen. Bryant listened, amazed, as he heard the fans and hardware in the computer tower firing and he realized it had worked. Welcome Commissar flashed across the screen and Bryant felt a wave of satisfaction wash over him. It was tempered soon enough, however, when he remembered that he was not a commissar and therefor this was grounds for summary execution. Sweat began to form on his brow but Bryant noticed a blinking icon on the desktop.
He clicked on it and was surprised when a large, stylized graphic of the Imperial Eagle popped up on screen. A few seconds later, a series of documents began opening in rapid succession; Bryant wasn’t even able to watch and keep track of them all as they continued their onslaught on his desktop. After about a minute, the torrent subsided and Bryant began to sift through them. Looks of curiosity, satisfaction, and excitement crossed his face in equal terms. As Bryant began to realize what he was looking at and saw the facts that were staring him in the face, his look quickly changed from wonder and excitement to one of horror.
He could scarcely believe what he had found, let alone that he had found it in the personal files of an Imperial Commissar.
Pvt. Anderson looked at the radio receiver as if it had just sprouted fangs and bitten him. Sgt. Chavez wore an equally shocked look upon his ragged features; neither of them could believe the orders they had just received.
“Situation is fluid? Pardon me Sergeant but what the hell does that mean?” Anderson inquired.
“Damned if I know son. Get power back on that auspex, we can’t afford to be down here blind to much longer. Something’s not right here, and I don’t want to be caught with my pants down when the shit starts flying.” Sgt. Chavez replied as he moved to inform the rest of the squad.
Anderson began to fiddle with the equipment for a third time as Sgt. Chavez informed the squad they would be staying put for a little while. As the squad renewed their defensive positions, Anderson got the auspex working again and a soft yellow glow again lit his face. He looked in confusion at the device and whacked it against his chest plate a number of times. Sgt. Chavez turned at the noise and looked at him questioningly.
“Sergeant, the contacts back.” Was all Anderson said with just a hint of frustration in his voice.
Immediately every soldier’s eyes snapped outward as their lights scanned the darkness for any sign of movement furiously. Sgt. Chavez hurried over to where Anderson was kneeling and grabbed the auspex from his shaking hands. He looked at it furiously as if it was to blame for all the troubles they had encountered on this Emperor forsaken mission.
“It looks fine to me Sergeant, I don’t have any idea what could be going on.” Anderson stated shakily. He followed with a brief string of curses.
“We have to assume that its working properly until we get conformation it’s not.”
“Sergeant,” Anderson looked at the Sergeant with a look of pure disbelief on his face,” Do you realize how big that contact was? In these tunnels? I don’t know if there’s even anything on this planet that big I mean that thing would have to be…
“That’s exactly why we have to assume that the auspex is giving us a correct reading, Private.” Sgt. Chavez replied grimly.