You wrap up your report on operation Twisted Moon with a request for instructions as to the disposition of the relics that you have recovered to date. That done, you stretch and take a short turn about the void-hab to keep your legs limber. The next supply ship isn’t due for another few days, and a response from Watch Command wouldn't be forthcoming until the one after that, so somewhere between two and three weeks from now. Plenty of time for ZTO to complete its primary examination. Plenty of time for you to settle your kill-team back down and plan your next operation.
You gather the map up of the common room table before ZTO manages to spill lubricant or something over it, and open it up over your knee. Penciling in a rough estimation of the destroyed areas, you consider the unexplored sections of the map. Much of the ‘north-west’ section of the Capitalis Congestus has been explored, and the rough center of the hulk was torn to pieces with the Rok Breka. That leaves the ‘north-east’, ‘south-west’ and ‘south-east’ quadrants of the Capitalis Congestus to be investigated. You shrug and fold the map up. You and your kill-team will use the next few days to recover before your serious planning begins, which means you have that same timeframe to decide on your objective.
Three days later…
Interrogator MacWater interrupts your work on offloading supplies from the guncutter with a gesture and a worried look. You motion for the rest of your team to continue while you step into her quarters for a semi-private word.
“It’s not good Hunter.”
“What is not good?”
“Sorry. Word from my Inquisitor. Or rather, his second-in-command.”
“Inquisitor Ironside is dead, killed in action against forces unknown. From the message, several other Inquisitors are either continuing Inquisitor Ironside’s works… or tearing them apart.”
“And you, and by extension ZTO and my kill-team, are going to be caught in the middle.”
You you suck in a deep breath through your nose and let it hiss out slow from between your teeth.
Interrogator MacWater flinches, then hurries on, “well, not your kill-team, as you are part of the Deathwatch and not the Ordo Xenos itself, and ZTO is in something of an awkward spot because…”
You stop her with a gentle hand on her shoulder. “We can handle ourselves if it comes to that. I’m more worried about you.”
“Me? Why? Some other senior Inquisitor will take me into his or her service, or foist me off onto a newly-promoted Inquisitor of their own sponsorship…”
Her voice falters as she catches a glimpse of the hard light in your eyes.
“Oh. You mean that someone might issue a ‘no witnesses’ order.”
You nod, “exactly.”
She shrugs with remarkable equanimity, “at least you would make it quick if you had to carry out such an order.”
“So what’s the rest of the message? What parties are coming our way?”
Interrogator MacWater lets out a deep breath of her own. “Thumbnail-briefing version? Probably the Von Sebastions on one hand, and some unknown radical Ordo Malleus Inquisitor on the other. The Von Sebastions are a Rogue Trader house in good standing with the Ordo Xenos and the Deathwatch, from what I have heard, and worked frequently with Inquisitor Ironside.”
You nod your head slowly, “The Von Sebastions owned and operated the ship which brought me here; the Ignis. What is this about a radical Inquisitor though?”
“I don’t know her name, if it even is a she. The rumors had her chasing after Inquisitor Ironside for toleration of Xenos and/or some past slight. If she shows up first…”
You squeeze Interrogator MacWater’s shoulder very gently, knowing full well you could crush it if you used even a fraction fo your full strength. “We will fight that battle only if we need to. If nothing else, we can go to ground aboard the Capitalis Congestus and wait for the Von Sebastions to arrive.”
Interrogator MacWater shakes her head. “Something aboard the hulk is the target or the prize of this operation. My instructions were to assemble teams of scouts, map the hulk, and wait for future orders. Now there is significant confusion in the chain of command, Deathwatch Watch Command has dispatched this ‘Destroyer Six’ at someone’s request. I don’t know if it was Inquisitor Ironside or the unknown Malleus Inquisitor, and thus I don’t know if I should help you to recover whatever the objective is before Destroyer Six get here or to help you help Destroyer Six destroy the Capitalis Congestus.”
You squat down on you heels, bringing yourself down to eye level with Interrogator MacWater. “Watch Command was specific in my instructions to assist Destroyer Six, but they did not say anything about a recovery mission.”
She nods, “and that is what has me concerned that there may be a third cook stirring the pot. I don’t know which way to turn, who to trust anymore. Besides you and your team.”
You raise an eyebrow, “What about sending a message to the Von Sebastions? It is one of their ships that made the latest delivery, so you know that a message entrusted to the shipmaster would get to them.”
Interrogator MacWater barks a brief laugh, “given the murky depths in which the Ordos operate? Nothing is that simple. It’s worth a try though.”
You leave her to compose a message and return to help your kill-team finish the unloading process. Irrespective of future battles that may or may not happen, you have a mission to plan and accomplish.