Every other step that the padre took was accompanied by a heavy thud as his staff thumped down onto the walkway set between the myriad of pipes that gave Conduit – an infamous part of Absalom Station – its alternative name, Pipetown.
Passing from lit area into unlit area, he seemed to dissolve each time he stepped out of the light. Those watching from the shadows shrank back as his solid white eyes passed over them, the lack of a pupil unnerving even the hardest of them. His skin was a dark green, whilst thin light yellow lines traced their way over his skin.
‘Hoy, hoy bot boy. You looking out of place. What seeking you here?’ The speaker was a human female, stepping out of a corridor into the junction just before him. Rolls of fat badly restrained by an ill-fitting boiler suit threatened to split the threadbare material and spill out. Her hair was long and thick with grease, whilst her skin was pocked with numerous white heads. A scar pulled up her lip, making it appear as though she was permanently sneering. ‘Please sister, there’s no need for such insults. I am clearly an android. Not a bot.’
‘You’re an arseknuckle is what you are bot boy. You’re here for what?’ Her lip raised a fraction, a genuine sneer. The android slowly slid his right foot back, angling his body, moving his staff slightly to hide the fact.
‘I’m looking for the Seven Hooves. I wish to bring the word of Sarenrae to them,’ he said, keeping his voice neutral but as friendly as he could manage. Even after five years of living amongst other sentient beings, he still struggled to project emotions in the way that they viewed to be correct.
‘We ain’t looking for no padre here. Piss off,’ she said, drawing a home-made scattergun from a holster on her back. It was dramatic and if it was something she needed to do in order to feel in control of the situation then he was willing to let it go. For the moment.
‘Am I correct to infer from your words that you are one of the Seven Hooves?’
‘What?’ Her scattergun pointed to the floor as she asked that, face screwed up even further in confusion. He sighed, biting back a sarcastic comment.
‘Are you one of the Seven Hooves?’
‘Not just one, the rest are with me,’ she smiled, baring teeth so rotten he was surprised she wasn’t screaming in agony. As she spoke the rest of the Seven Hooves stepped out of the shadows and into the corridor junction to join her. ‘How ‘bout you give us that nice stick and all your nice things. Then we let you go.’ The scattergun started to rise.
He didn’t reply. Not verbally anyway. She got the staff, straight between the legs as he flipped it upwards, dropping it as soon as it struck home. His other hand was a blur as he drew an automatic pistol and opened fire. As the leader dropped to the floor his first two shots took the nearest gang member in the throat. Gurgling, the man clutched at the gaping wound as blood poured out of it.
‘Fucking move, Jamee!’ Another of the Seven Hooves stepped forward, lunging forward with a crude spear, knocking the unfortunate man to the floor. The padre stepped to one side, letting the spear glide past him, closing the distance before he unleashed a spray of magic missiles into her chest. She dropped to the floor, coughing up thick clots of blood and lung, feet drumming on the floor as she died.
<Behind you> he said telepathically to his next opponent, stepping into the centre of the junction at the same time. His target instinctively looked over its shoulder before realising its mistake and whipping her head back around, mouth wide in a shocked ‘O’. That split second was all it took for him to cast an energy ray, acid splashing over her face and sending her reeling away with a horrific cry of agony.
Pain exploded in his side as a scattergun roared. His armour prevented the crudely-made ammunition from piercing him, but it still felt as though a dwarf had hit him with a hammer. Riding the impact, he continued to turn until he was facing his attacker. The man was cursing, frantically trying to unjam the scattergun. Three shots from the android’s pistol dropped him, scattergun clattering to the floor from nerveless fingers.
The remaining two members of the Seven Hooves threw their weapons to the floor as he turned to face them. ‘We surrender innit, no more shooting eh?’ said one, smiling broadly.
‘In that, you are wrong,’ the padre said as he calmly shot them both in the face, their bodies crumpling to the floor. Popping out the magazine from his pistol, he quickly reloaded, before placing it back in its holster. Calmly he stood in the centre of the junction as the gang members finished dying, their death tremors, whimpers and groans gradually fading.
Taking a couple of steps he knelt beside the leader of gang, placing a hand gently upon the back of her head as she lay on the ground, clutching at her groin.
‘Sister, it is a shame that things came to end in this way. I would have gladly spoken to you about the way you have been treating the vulnerable people in this vicinity, but instead you acted true to form. Stupidly, and violently. And so, I bring the word of my goddess and burn the evil from here.’
A hideous stench of burning hair and flesh filled the air as he unleashed another energy ray directly into her skull, burning through to her brain in the blink of an eye. As with the others he waited until her body had finished spasming before standing up and dusting his clothes down.
‘The blessings of Sarenrae be upon you all. May you find peace in her golden light and be reborn in her name,’ he said, turning his gaze upon each of the corpses as he spoke. Bowing his head as he finished, he stood in silence for another minute before bending to pick up his staff and walked slowly back the way he had come.