[personal profile] purplekitte
Title: One Day More, chapter 4 (other chapters)
Fandom: Warhammer 40k
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1600
Summary: Adventures of the Dark Administratum, or, Maloghurst the Twisted’s secretary is really competent.


Theodora Thyella had a dataslate and an itemised schedule and was ready to conquer the galaxy. Again, but for the Warmaster this time.

Something like that. She was beginning to think being drunk before noon had not been the best life choice she’d ever made.

No one cared. With all the recent troubles, things were more disorderly than ever and she still was more competent than almost anyone else she had to deal with daily, but she felt like she’d be better equipped to deal with this situation without hitting her head against a wall if she’d been sober.

‘Goats.’

‘The ceremonies for summoning the aid of our allied powers in the Immaterium demand them, and we’re running low,’ Elit Lane explained again.

‘Weren’t they doing human sacrifice over there? I can get you more prisoners anytime.’

‘That too, but this is a different matter. You see, the power investment in violating the ancient taboo of...’

Theodora tuned out the next five minutes as she checked her messages, colour-coded the itinerary for tomorrow’s meeting about malfunctioning lumins, and considered exactly how she was going to track down every person who had installed bad chairs in a room she might someday use to turn them over to her boss’s torture squad.

‘That’s why it’s absolutely essential that we have a stock of goats to have sex with, then ritually kill.’

‘Thank you. That was informative. So you’re running low?’

‘We could hardly have predicted the two hundred percent escalation in VB-40 form submissions in the last quarter. Then Harold agreed to trade half our livestock to the 28th Expeditionary Fleet in exchange for crates of dehydrated field rations.

Much more efficient field rations, for every other purpose. ‘Give me one minute.’ She called up the most recent report she could find about rations available on the ship and paged through the sections on nutrient paste and its recycling to get to miscellaneous. ‘Will grox do?’

‘I am told they will suffice, but they’re an uncouth and low-class way to be running an operation.’

She snorted. ‘Tough. When we rendezvous with the next supply convoy, they can afford to be picky. Our allies on Mars might be diligent in making sure we continue to receive shipments of munitions, but everything else is disrupted. I can also offer you (delicious) silkworms and snails (no that probably wouldn’t work for your purposes), some columba birds and ducks, the piranha-sharks from water purification system (don’t you dare take all of them). Oh right, there are the ratting cats not on this list. Don’t take too many of them either or we’ll end up with a rat infestation everywhere and that would be unsanitary.’

‘Wait, we have cats to keep rats off our spaceship? Why don’t we have robots for that?’

‘That would be outrageously inefficient.’ Next thing you know someone would ask why they used sword in space instead of bombarding everything from orbit and had boarding parties instead of ships shooting at each other from astronomical units apart. That was why Theodora was in the newly-formed Munitorum, not a combat regiment. ‘Next on the agenda, Henrika. What do you have?’

Henrika looked back over the notes on her dataslate. ‘A full inventory of janitorial servitors reveals that--’

Lu Donel burst into the conference room, and Theodora could have kissed him, until she heard what he had to say. ‘Perturabo’s here two days early.’

‘Tell him to go home,’ Theodora said automatically.

‘Help!’

‘Excuse me, this requires my immediate attention.’

She made her escape and put some distance between herself and the committee. Locking herself in the nearest maintenance access room, Theodora switched over to the neural link the tech-adepts had set her up with for when typing was too slow. Everything swam into her vision at once.

:Jaza, how’s the bridge?:

:About how you’d expect. ‘I’m the Warmaster! Don’t come over here until I send for you! I don’t have time for this!’: Major Pierson reported back.

Theodora was already redirecting schedules, messaging people’s secretaries with memos to give them, drafting apology notes to half her contacts with the Iron Warriors and strongly worded letters to the other half about what happens when you don’t give people proper warning about the obvious consequences of their actions (not that hell or high water could stop a primarch, but some courses of action could be presented to look more convenient and appealing than others).

Two bounced back messages hit her like an itch around her ear and she reread the send lines with a blink. No, no one would be passing on a warning to Torgaddon and Loken. ‘Lucky I didn’t write Sejanus too as well at this rate,’ she muttered to herself. The headache from using the neural link hit her as she turned it off and the hangover and the annoyance that the more helpful half of the Mournival in this sort of situation was unfortunately too busy being dead to be useful.

She’d done her duty, and was done here. That thought felt really, really good.

Carefully opening the door a slit to make sure no one was waiting to corner her about bolt round audits, she slipped out.

Glad she’d been working for him for the past thirty years, Theodora walked past her own desk and stuck her head into Maloghurst the Twisted’s office, which many people changed their route to avoid walking in front of, and said, ‘Mal, I updated your calendar with all the meetings with intelligence assets you told me to schedule. Apothecary Nippur wants to try on a new drug regiment on you, you have an appointment. I also sent you a bundle of allocations documents that need your attention after you’re done with Horus and Perturabo, a bundle that have been dealt with but you’ll want to give a read-over, and a list of the titles of reports I didn’t think were worth your attention.’

‘Very good. And?’

Nice to have an observant boss.

‘And I’m clocking out and going back to bed. I’ll see you tomorrow?’

‘You’re dismissed.’ He gave her a second look, his heavily scarred face shifting just a little into an expression she knew to identify as concern. ‘Get some sleep.’

‘Thank you.’

Theodora made her way back to the quarters in a daze. She took off her boots, put a blanket over her head, and thought that she should have gotten some water first but could not bring herself to move again even knowing she should.

She stared alternatively at the ceiling and the back of her eyelids for some time. She might have grabbed an hour of sleep in there, but she doubted it by the fact she didn’t remember waking up feeling worse.

She had been thinking the air filtration system was too loud, but that thought flew away when Trijata opened the door and turned on the illuminator as usual. Theodora groaned.

‘How was your day? Should I even bother asking?’

‘Seeing you makes it better.’

Trijata turned off the light and crawled under the blankets of their shared bunk as well. Theodora let her wife put an arm around her and leaned back against her.

‘Do you want to talk about it?’

‘I’d rather hear about your day. You were complaining about the Word Bearers annoying you to. How’s that going?’

‘I know Chaplain Erebus saved the Warmaster and opened our eyes to how we were being misused, but I still wish the Word Bearers would go away. We’re here to stop the Emperor declaring himself a god, not get involved in badly worded religious conflict between their cult and another.’

‘Mm. Maloghurst said that at least it looked like you got all the pockets of the Emperor-worshipping cult from the battle-barge.’

‘I think so. Might still be some lying low who hold deviant beliefs but never practiced publically. The senior iterators left are talking about sending us around to other fleets to win over hearts and minds for the Warmaster.’

‘Don’t worry: I’ll do the paperwork myself and keep you here.’

‘Good. Too much is happening too fast for me to be willing to leave you alone for a minute.’

‘It’s not official yet, but Maloghurst’s been having me make up plans for allocating munitions for a big campaign. I think the rumours about us turning to Terra are true.’

‘The Warmaster hasn’t made an announcement yet, and even then, it could be a lie to throw off spies. Still, it’s believable whether it turns out true or not.’

‘We’ll have all the time in the world to get things in order after that.’ Theodora sighed. ‘Anything else?’

Trijata considered. ‘One of the apprentices brought up an argument just like one I had with my dad when I was ten or so. I miss him. And my mother and my brother. For that matter, I miss Sindermann. He used to remind me of Dad all the time and we’d had that discussion before. Back before his slow decided into insanity. He was never the same since, what, Sixty-Three-Nineteen?’

Theodora shrugged against her shoulder. ‘If you decide to turn traitor, tell me first thing so we’re not accidentally working at cross-purposes. You’re the one who cares about morals. Principles are all well and good, but I’m on the same side you’re on before anything else.’

‘I know, dear. I bet we could not report each other, cause a bunch of mayhem, then run for it, and it would be exciting. If we totally took leave of our senses and got bored of everything we believe. Let’s not.’


(a/n: Apparently Maloghurst’s actually a good boss? I’m as surprised as anyone else. I feel like I should be making a ‘How many Space Marines does it take to change a light bulb’ joke here. Answer: Zero. They have other people who do that sort of thing. Otherwise they would be sitting in dark, waiting for the light to miraculously come back.)

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purplekitte

March 2015

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