Bale, A changed Man?

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Bale, A changed Man?

Post  Dan on Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:48 am


Grey bloodshot eyes found focus on an upside down cot & the pile of clothes that clung to the mattress as if defying gravity. His breathing was controlled, in deeply through the nose & out slowly from barely parted lips. Wavering vision swept across the room as his concentration wavered. He caught site of the standard issue Naval pistol. It sat in a holster that hung upwards from the hook beside the cell’s doorway. The sight only reminded the man of the pistol he’d lost. Solomon Bale grunted moving his eyes again so that he could see the face of an ornate chronosphere upon the far wall. It took him a little longer than normal to calculate the time, what with it being upside-down.

“An hour” he whispered gritting his teeth.

Minutes later a chime & whir of hydraulics signalled that he had a visitor, but the rogue pilot paid no heed as the fought to keep his balance. From the corner of his eye, Bale could see that the visitor has stopped at the threshold awaiting an invite to entre.

Bugger him, he thought.

Silky, smooth words broke the silence a few moments later. The high-gothic inflections of the man’s low gothic words announced who it was; the Seneschal spoke with an amused chuckle.

‘What are you doing now Bale?’

‘Marcus…’ the pilot said the name with malice & the seneschal almost recoiled from the threatening tones his own name had been spoken in.

‘What do you want now?’ he added a while later. Marcus seized the equally hostile tone of these words as an invitation to enter, though they were anything but. The older man shuffled over the Bale’s cot & lifted a grimy pair of overalls with his thumb & forefinger as if he was lifting an item contaminated by some warp spawn evil. He moved the clothing & allowed it to fall to the floor. Making a space in the mess of Bale’s quarters, the Seneschal finally sat.

Bale lifted an eye brow.

‘Do make you self at home Marcus, shall I summon a servitor with some honeyed nettle tea?’

Marcus, smiled, this was a considered improvement in the man temperament.

‘Why that would be n….’

‘What the fuck do you want old man!’ Bale cut in harshly.

‘Hmpf’ was all the reply that the Baron’s lapdog could muster. He composed himself, as he always did before he started to speak again.

‘You were missed at the Baron’s briefing’ he stated mater of factly ‘where were you?’

‘You know I was here’ replied Bale nodding through the open doorway towards the guard stationed outside.

‘Indeed, but you had duties elsewhere, need I remind you that you’re under contract with the Von Easton dynasty, to attend the duties fitting you rank as commander of the flight deck…’ The Seneschal pulled a parchment from amongst a number of others he kept within the folds of his robes. Even upside down, Bale recognised the contract he’d signed months earlier. ‘one such undertaking is detailed here under article five, sub section 3 line twenty two. The named signatory is to attend all meetings, briefings & conferences seen as necessary to the assigned rank & at the discretion of those whose rank is superior to and…’

‘I get it Marcus, no need to blather on!’

‘Well… good sir, I shall ask you again. What were you doing?’ Marcus had twisted his head round as he spoke as if attempting to look Bale in the eye. The Seneschal made quite an amusing picture.

The pilot allowed his right leg to drop first, to be followed by his left. With his feet firmly on the floor Bale pushed himself off his hands & came to stand opposite his visitor. His head swam & he held out an arm as the blood drained from his head. He rubbed his eyes & then yawned, before reaching for an ornate vase. For a heart beat the old man wondered whether the unpredictable vagabond was reaching for some concealed weapon. If Bale was unpredictable beforehand, recent events had pushed that trait to an excess now. Bale brought the vase towards him & turned it upside down. A bottle of amasec fell from it, into Bale’s waiting hand.

‘Your alcohol was confiscated! How did… Who got you that?’

‘Calm yourself Marcus, your master has already taken my freedom & my soul, the least you can leave me is a little drink!’

Bale took three long gulps before handing the bottle over to the older man. Marcus snatched it & summoned the guard to enter. He handed the bottle over muttering something about contraband & another room search.

‘Really Marcus, another search? Is that really necessary? It took me hours to make the room presentable.’ Bale smiled at his own little jest as the Seneschal scanned the wreck of a room. In truth Bale had left his quarters as he’d found it following the last search.

‘Bale, this has to stop!’ commanded the Seneschal ‘The blatant disregard for orders, the drinking, the womanising, the gambling, your relentless pursuit of Ulrika… it’s too much, it really is!’

‘Marcus, Marcus, Marcus… the Baron drank the first of my soul & you would have my give up the rest? All you’d leave me is my unparalleled skill as a pilot. How do you expect me to concentrate on that when you refuse me every little vice?’

‘They are not little vices though are they? You disrupt, you manipulate & you deceive…’

‘Ha! If you’re worried about your own job Marcus, you shouldn’t be, my nose is far from brown enough for that?’

The Seneschal stood angrily & the action would’ve been threatening had he been wearing his power-armour. As it was Bale just smiled with a predator’s look in his eyes. The old man made to leave, but turned as he reached the door.

‘One more thing & I’d thank you for a straight answer’

‘Suppose I owe you at least one, my dear Seneschal Marcus’ answered the pilot with a mocking bow.

He ignored the jibe, ‘why were you standing on your head?’

Bale shrugged before giving his answer. ‘I’m testing myself Marcus. You could say I’m being the consummate professional. Ensuring that I can still do everything I could do before. You have no idea what we went through down on that planet, you think we over reacted, me & the navigator. Truth is, I actually felt that a part of me was being drained away in those vats, like my very essence had been torn from me…I lost something of myself then & I want to know what’s missing.’

‘Perhaps it’s your self control Bale?’

‘Ha! Marcus, you old fool! You need to thank the Throne, I still have that. I returned to that planet with a Thunderbolt packed to the brim with air to ground ordinance… If I’d lost my self control, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.’

Bale simply smiled as the Seneschal finally left. He didn’t add, ‘and you’re lucky I found Kane first or it may have been you I strung up.’

The door slid closed on its hydraulics.

Bale ran his fingers back though his slick black hair & crossed the room to his desk. He stepped onto its surface knocking a pile of papers to scatter & fall across the floor. Oblivious, Bale pulled away part of the piping from above desk & another bottle slid from its hiding place.

The vagabond pilot removed the cork with his teeth & spat it across the room as the door opened again. This time Ulrika entered with a four man security squad, evidently tasked with another search of his quarters.

Ulrika caught site of the bottle in his hand ‘All intoxicating substances are to be surrendered at once, by command of the Van Easton’s!’ ordered the Arch Militant in her dominating tone. Bale loved that voice, it sent his juices flowing. He gave her a wink as the guards edged forward cautiously, shock mauls in hand.

Ulrika shook her head in warning as the bottle moved towards the rogue’s lips. Bale simply smiled, closed his eyes & took a long swig as the guards rushed him.

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Dan

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