Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

Rex Christus, I ache this morning. Forgive the profanity, Lord, but it feels like my bones loosened themselves in their joints overnight.
There’s a harsh light on the streets, as if Heaven is searching the dimmest corners of its mighty demesne for sinners. Ha! They’ll find more than a few in these twisted ways. Titheport is a planet filled with bile, turning the masses into sinners who feel the gloria militarius does not enrich their lives. Which is true: those who serve Caesar get only dust, so it is written. The planetary authorities are improving, but there’s a long road ahead. Lucifer spake truth when he said that “the woes of man were ever of man’s making, whilst angels look on.”
“Utterest thou, Leftenant?”
I shake my head to loosen the devil’s maudlin grip.
“Heed me not, crusaders. I’m in a dark mood this morn. Prepare thyselves. We have good work to perform.”
Placing a hand on the hilt of my pistol, I gesture toward the double doors that mark our destination.
“At last, we shall purge the brothels!”
Sergeant Malcolm. His father survived the Calvinist Rescripture and that faith’s view of the secular world is so dark I often wonder if they actually fell instead of discovering a new gospel.
“Sergeant, the Magdalene Missions are a blessed outreach and you know my stance on the preaching of minor creeds whilst on duty.”
“I ask forgiveness, Leftenant.”
“Not mine to grant. Pray well.”
I’ll not leave any to stew on the matter. Taking the steps two at a time, I swing the portal wide.
“Templars!” There’s fear in her tone.
I raise a hand: “Let none who wash the feet of the worthy fear our tread this day. Let those who hailed us approach.”
“Be welcome, Knight Leftenant.”
Her voice is throaty and her eyes make the sinner inside me howl.
“Thou callest, matron?”
She gestures towards a waif in a homespun robe.
“Not me. The little one spots things my footwashers won’t.”
Ever a truth. Fear of attracting God’s wrath via those elected to his service is the biggest reason so much goes unaddressed. Some of my fellows are brutal sinners. They disgrace the service. One day, I shall chase them from my temple, and I will use something a lot less forgiving than a whip. Your pardon, Lord. ’Tis naught but righteous anger.
“Step forward, child. What seest thou?”
Raising a hand, he points toward the high ceiling off to the left.
“There’s a devil in the rafters, Sirrah. I seen it watching the girls and wiping it’s mouth.”
“Describe the infernal to me, child.”
“Ruddy and blue with grey teeth and wings like wet towels.”
A pleasure-addicted Ferrucatoan telepath. The wings atrophy and go limp. By the time they look like ‘wet towels’ the creature is but days away from final frenzy, driving all within a dozen city blocks insane.
“Sergeant Malcolm!”
“There’s a sodden Brothel Creeper somewhere in the main hall. Bring it down.”
“By your command.”
The advantage of a strict upbringing is near-immunity to sinful influences. Even I can’t confront a Ferrucatoan.
Malcolm storms in trailed by Chaplain Flanders. Both have Gatling carbines at the ready. No energy weapons here, there isn’t a Tesla grid to support them.
“We see thee, sinner!”
The Gatlings fire with a hammer-on-steel percussion and something wails until it hits the floor.
As the corpse is dragged out, a familiar figure steps round the matron, hand raised. I pause, then reach out to lay armoured palm against her delicate hand.
“Blessed Be, dear son.”
“Ever near, mother.”