Mosha's Treasure

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim, dark future there is only war.

Mosha's Treasure

Postby Dannymac247 » Wed Jun 05, 2013 7:44 am

Small feet pattered frantically on the hard steel and plascrete as Mosha dashed down the tunnel, running as though the very demons of the warp pursued him. He'd made the run often enough to know it by heart... 27,432 running strides from one end of the tunnel to the other. 2 strides in a second, a good loping pace he could maintain even in the poor air conditions, just around four hours of straight running there, and then the same to come back.

You didn't HAVE to run it, of course. A runner might lose their step and injure themselves, or worse fall into the bilges, a chemical soup beneath the path that had accumulated over millennia, the by product of thousands, or perhaps millions, of trips through the warp. But he knew, in his heart, that it could all end in a flash, a single whim of the gods who lived above, there on the command deck. One cry to the Machine Spirits and every entrance in and out of this passage would slam shut, the path would glow bright, and any vermin who had dared the path, human or otherwise, would be gone. Mosha had lost friends this way, others who had attempted the passage. He had followed after, but they had simply been gone, without even a sprinkling of ash on the path to mark their final rest. The thought spurred him on, a moment, his steps reaching 3 per second before he forced himself to slow again... exhautstion was as real a threat as the Machine Spirits above.

As always as he ran, his mind wandered, imagining the plascrete below his feet warming, the shutters on the sides starting their descent. Other children spoke of those who leapt into every one, waiting to gain the nerve to continue, lost forever in their cowardice, dead of starvation but spirits left to cry out at the living. Again, he was forced to check his pace, and tried not to look to the sides as he ran.

In the distance, he thought he could see it, the end. He closed his eyes, evaluated. It was too soon, there should have been another fifteen minutes left, at least, but it seemed this was not the case. Perhaps his strides were growing longer. The old woman had often claimed he grew taller, perhaps there was something to it. He had not attempted this run in a few months.

Yes, there it was, clearly ahead, the final goal. But the shutters could fall at any time, and it wasn't until he'd hurled himself through them, as if they might have crushed him during his passing, that he accepted that he'd made it.

His twenty-ninth crossing of the Main Drive. No other Bilge Rat had survived more than ten.

He lay there for a moment, gulping the too-thin air while fishing in his belt for a morsel. It was a prize... a bit of jerky taken from the upper decks, meant for the Captain's (the word crossed Mosha's consciousness in the same way others thought of the God Emperor) soldiers. He tried it, and found it's tough, salty sensation to be one of the most delicious he'd ever had. Only one thing surpassed it, and that memory spurred him to stand again, stretching out his legs before continuing.

The room he was in seemed gigantic. He stood at the edge of chasm, that seemed to go down forever. It was only a trick of the light, he knew, but even so he shuddered slightly before hurling himself over, his arms spread wide.

It was the most curious sensation he had ever experienced, the odd sense of his acceleration slowing, the odd tugging he felt in his gut as the gravity well lessened until it was gone, then reestablished itself in a different direction. All around him was debris, flying in one direction or the other as it orbited the nexus of the gravity well.

Right at the point where it switched he turned, until it felt as though he had leaped upwards at incredible speed, his arms stretching out. There ahead of him was the platform, but he wondered, for a moment, if his gained weight would be a problem... could he make the jump, and what would happen to him if he couldn't?

His hand lashed out and found purchase on the jagged plascrete, and he groaned as he pulled himself up onto solid ground, wrapping his had in a clean rag brought along for that very purpose before he went into a different tunnel, his manner now freer. Most of the threats navigated, he started to feel jaunty, and wondered if he would do something special to celebrate a thirtieth crossing, should he choose to make one.

Mosha watched as he moved. Occasionally, there would be a strange rattling... such always sent him scuttling to the edges of the hall, and once he only barely avoided a terrible scalding as steam was released from the pipes below. His breaths were even smaller than usual, and he struggled to avoid the cough and strong intake of air that would follow it... such things could be deadly, here, depending on the ever-present steam.

The heat increased as he moved, sweat pouring off him. It was no longer needed in the pipes, or so he had been told, and so the machine spirits allowed it to vent its rage into the air, perhaps later to be recombined in the engine. He didn't know if he believed all that, but frowned as he passed a mostly rotted skeleton. He avoided looking at the strips of clothing that hung limply from the bleached bones... it was painful to think of a child making it so far, only to die here. He hoped it was no one he'd known.

The path ended, and there it was, that joyous sound. Mosha gave a smile as he clambered over the edge of the path and dangled, pulling the containers from his pack and letting them fill with the brilliant, clear fluid. It was there, pouring into the cistern, free to take for anyone who made the journey and survived. The source of the greatest taste he knew in the universe...

The water was clean, sparkling with life and minerals gained from purification, unsullied by piping or the leaked chemicals of the engines and bilges. The cleanest drink any bilger could hope for. A fortune.

Assuming, of course, he made it back. Mosha took a deep swig, then refilled the canister. In four hours or so, he'd be wealthy. Assuming he made it back.


===================

After doing a lot of research I discovered that one of the bonuses of a universe where no one knows why technology works anymore leads to a lot of handwaving in the canon, which in turn leaves a lot of room to maneuver. Maybe the vast ships of the Imperium do have a place where the artificial gravity flips, perhaps there is a place where the water recycled for crew use is at its natural purest, and perhaps poor children know a secret, if dangerous, way to get to it, water even cleaner than what the captain, the head of their universe, speaks.

As far as I am currently concerned, Mosha could be on nearly any Human capital ship, but I choose to believe that this is the Shadowdancer. Whether he'll meet Katrina Malakan, my favorite Rogue Trader, remains to be seen, but nearly anything is possible.
Dannymac247
 
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