Prequel - A Day in the Life of Erasmos Ng

'Coordinate: two three three point eight six three nine,’ the voice blared into Erasmos Ng's ear as he duti­fully typed the number 233.8639 into the cogitator before him.

'Coordinate: two four two point seven four six eight. Coordinate: two three eight point five nine six one. Correction: two three eight point five eight six one. Further coordinates pending. Wait.'

With that, the voice in his earpiece fell abruptly silent. Granted brief respite from the endless stream of num­bers that assailed him every minute of his working life, Erasmos Ng turned his tired eyes to gaze at the cav­ernous interior of the room around him. As ever, Data Processing Room 312 was a hive of mindless activity as a thousand other bored and dispirited souls just like him went about their labours. Here, numbers were crunched, data entries updated, reports filed, then col­lated, then cross-indexed - all amid a constant din of clattering type-keys and whirring logic-wheels that put
him in mind of nothing so much as the sound of an insect army on the march. Still, he realised it was a spu­rious analogy. The labours of insects at least served some useful purpose. While he had long ago begun to doubt that what went on in Room 312 served any pur­pose at all.

'Coordinate: two three five point one five three zero,’ the voice in his earpiece crackled into life again. 'Coor­dinate: two two two point six one seven four. Coordinate: two three six point one zero one five,’ And so on, ad infinitum.

Resuming his task with a weary sigh, as he typed the new set of coordinates into the cogitator, Ng found himself reflecting sadly on how often the shape of a man's life came to be dictated by the happenstance of birth. If he had been born on another planet he might have been a miner, a farmer, or even a huntsman. As it was he had been born on this world - on Libris-VI. A world whose only industry of note resided in a single enormous Administratum complex the size of a city -one of many thousands of such complexes the Admini­stratum maintained across the galaxy. Lacking other prospects, like his parents before him Erasmos Ng had entered Imperial service, becoming just another small cog in the vast bureaucratic machine responsible for the functioning - smooth or otherwise - of the entire Imperium. A selfless and noble calling, or so they told him. Though, as with so much else he had been told in his life, he no longer believed it.

'Coordinate: two one eight point four one zero zero,’ the voice - his unseen tormentor - said, his tone smug and mocking even through the static. 'Coordinate: two two one point one seven two nine,’

Now, at the age of forty-five and with thirty years of mind-numbing tedium behind him Ng knew he had risen as far in the Administratum hierarchy as he was likely to go. Specifically, to the heady heights of Assis­tant Scribe, Grade Secundus Minoris. A records clerk by any other name, condemned to spend every day of his life hunched over the cogitator at his workstation in Room 312. His appointed task: to type into the cogita­tor the never-ending series of numbers spoken to him by the disembodied voice over his earpiece. A task he performed seven days a week, twelve hours a day, bar­ring two permitted fifteen-minute rest-breaks, a full half-hour for his midday meal, and a single day's unpaid holiday every year on Emperor's Day.

Beaten down by the bleak dreariness of his existence, Erasmos Ng found he had long ago stopped caring what purpose his labours served. Instead, for thirty years now, he had simply performed his allotted task, repeti­tively typing coordinates into the cogitator again and again and again, no longer caring what - if anything -they meant. A lost soul, adrift in a dark and endless sea of numbers.

'Coordinate: two three three point three three two one,’ the voice said, grinding his soul down a little more with every word. 'Coordinate: two two three point seven seven one two,’

Then, just as he finished typing a new set of coordi­nates into the machine, Erasmos Ng abruptly realised he might have made a mistake. That last coordinate -was it 223.7712 or 223.7721? But long past giving a damn one way or another he simply shrugged, put it from his mind, and went on to the next one. After all, he consoled himself, it hardly really mattered whether or not he had made a mistake. He had long ago realised his labours, like his life, were of no importance.

And, in the end, they were only numbers…

Mission 1 - Skrynne

++Transmission++MU LEVEL++
+LT Ferdinand Lazar
++Malice: Reference Number 71-12-7-6++
+++Contact: SGT Konstantin+++

Message recieved.
Mission Briefing

++Vox Recording: Troops transport [MF-128725] waiting to board Orbital Lander 0194:HADES++

“A commissar and a death world, are you frakking kidding me?”
“That’s what it said.”
“But sarg-”
“Why would need a Hangman if we-“
“I said stow it you prat! Talk like that with a commissar around is one good way to get yourself Found Wanting.”
“…They know we’re an urban recon unit right?”
“They know.”
“I’m sure it’ll all be fine, High Command wouldn’t send us somewhere just for us to die.”
“Thankyou for your input Trooper Mithras, now all kindly shut up.”
“Private channel Sarg?”
“Fine Mordeci, Fine.”
-Switched to Channel 4 Alpha-
“Janus please be straight with me…we’re all going to die aren’t we?”

++Recording Ends++

++Access Granted++
++Location: Skrynne++
++Unit: Malice 71st [6-7-12]++


Combat Log

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