Free Legion by Dan Abnett

Book: Legion by Dan Abnett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dan Abnett
Tags: Science-Fiction
risking everything. You know what’s at stake. What are you doing?+
    ‘Being human for a change,’ Grammaticus replied.
    +John, we have eliminated agents for less.+
    ‘I’m sure you have, not in the old days, but in these latter days. I’m sure you have.’
    +I am not threatening you, John.+
    ‘Yes, you actually are,’ he told the mirror.
    +The galaxy must live.+
    ‘Right, right, and can’t I be allowed to live in it a little?’
    Gahet’s face faded slowly.
    Grammaticus rinsed his face in cold water from the stone basin. ‘Bastards,’ he spat.
    B EFORE DAWN, IN a cool, mauve twilight, the escort arrived to take Grammaticus back to the insertion point. He had already been up for an hour, ritually packing and re-packing his small bag. He told the escort to wait with the vehicle, and finished his chores, sipping tepid black caffeine and eating some preserved fruits and spelt bread left over from the night before. She surprised him by waking up.
    ‘Were you planning on leaving without a goodbye?’
    ‘No,’ he lied.
    ‘Good.’ Rukhsana brushed a strand of long, blonde hair off her face and looked him up and down. He had dressed in a simple desert suit of soft brown kid-skin, with Army-issue boots and a canvas jacket.
    ‘You don’t look much like a native.’
    ‘That part comes later.’
    All she was wearing was the sheet from the bed. ‘Well, goodbye, then. The Emperor protects.’
    ‘Let’s hope so,’ he agreed.
    ‘Try to come back,’ Rukhsana said. ‘I’d like to see you again.’
    ‘I’ll come back,’ he replied, not lying this time, ‘because I want to see you again.’
    Uxor Rukhsana smiled and tilted her head slightly to one side, regarding him. ‘There’s something about you, Konig. It’s as if you see right into me.’
    ‘That’s because I do,’ he said.
    T HE ESCORT, A young geno company bashaw and three sleepy troopers, were waiting for him in the rear yard of the palace compound. The ride was a light speeder, the hull of which had been sand-blasted back to bare metal by the environment.
    ‘Sir,’ the bashaw saluted as Grammaticus walked out of the lit doorway into the darkness of the yard with his bag over his shoulder. It took a second to place the man’s background accent… Yndonesia, Purwakarta Administrative District, perhaps one of the Cianjur hives.
    ‘What’s your unit?’ Grammaticus asked in Bahasa Malay. The bashaw blinked in surprise and smiled.
    ‘Arachne, sir,’ he replied. ‘I didn’t know you were a Pan-Pac, sir.’
    ‘I’m not. I’m from all over.’
    They got in and rode out of the yard, and through the descending levels of the ancient desert palace, via checkpoints, gateways and night-watch barricades where sentries lurked beside sputtering braziers, their rifles hooked through their folded arms. Papers and biometrics were routinely checked.
    The Nurthene had a subversive streak. Experience had taught the Imperial Army that the Nurthene had spies of their own, saboteurs too. It felt odd to be a spy checked on the way out.
    Outside the palace perimeter, the speeder picked up velocity and coasted along the bombed-out avenues and dust-dressed streets of the township surrounding the compound. The sun was threatening to rise behind the passing ruins. Grammaticus sat back in the rear seat, trying to relax, trying to compose his focus into identity immersion, feeling the breeze of motion against his face. He began to regret making a connection with the young bashaw. The officer, sitting up front, kept leaning around and talking to Grammaticus about places in Cianjur that Grammaticus had never visited, nor had any wish to visit. Grammaticus had been in Cianjur once, long ago. He’d been there as part of an army that had burned the place down, five hundred years before the hive the bashaw had grown up in had even been planned.
    He closed his eyes and thought of Rukhsana.
    It’s as if you see right into me. There was too much truth in that. His mind saw into

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