On the High Imperial world of Oogilove, situated in the Terminus Systems, Knightlord Thorn meets with a prisoner. The cyborg, Sega, willingly offers to commit seppuku due to his failure to protect High Legatifex Kimleigh, daughter of The Highemperor, in CatH Post?. Thorn, however, offers him the opportunity to hunt down the one partially responsible for the girl's death - a salmitton. After the deed is done, Thorn advises Sega commit the offered seppuku even though The Highemperor wouldn't demand it.
The Salmitton Creature
The planet Oogilove, located in the High Empire's Terminus systems, is a barren ball of nothingness save for one single mega castrum. The small rock is entirely worthless as is the rest of this small neck of the Terminus Systems. However, strategically it means everything. The closest set of systems to the void that bridges the gulf between the Milky Way and its closest neighbouring galaxy - Andromeda.
And so Knightlord Thorn, one of the most trusted advisers to The Highemperor of the High Empire (try saying that five times fast) marches through the corridors of the crystalline fortress of Oogilove. He resents being here on principle. Not because the task isn't important but because the name of this stupid place is abhorrent. Whoever was the original founder of this particular castrum was, Knightlord Thorn will go and scowl at their grave. That'll teach 'em.
He barges into the cell room. It's quite comfortable albeit a little formulated. A bed with pristine white sheets, plenty of crystalline technology for the prisoner to use and watch holographic movies, there's even a pleasant water tank with creepy fish-things swimming about. Thorn suspects the horrible little creatures originate from a world far too close to Tartarus, making it spawn such hideous monstrosities. And yet everyone tells him that they're "creepy and cute" at the same time. Oxymorons don't sit well with Thorn. They should be cute or they should be hideous. Choose one!
The man seated in the cell raises his head slowly. With the same level of grace that he rose his head he lowers his body into a a kneeling position and lowers his head again.
Sega: "Allow me a sword, my Lord, so that I may commit seppuku and rid my emperor of my failed existence..."
Knightlord Thorn: "Indeed our emperor is in a state of despair that I have never seen in him before. I imagine he, himself, forgot what it was like to experience pain such as this. For that I would gladly allow you to take your own life. That would be the honourable mode of conduct for you now... however... you were imprisoned at the time."
Sega: "I make no excuses for my failure, my Lord. My incarceration was my own fault. I was caught trying to remove a dangerous element from the High Legatifex' side."
Knightlord Thorn: "So I am told. Some stray nobody, correct? The Highemperor tells me she liked to collect them..."
Sega: "She did. Many of them unsafe. I was forced to kill several such creatures to ensure her safety. The basilisk was especially troublesome. It killed many soldiers before I finally managed to choke the brute. I told her it must have choked while trying to swallow a fat ensign."
Thorn turns and watches the ugly fish. One of them pushes its bug-eyed face against the glass and starts licking it, as though trying to taste the man standing there.
Knightlord Thorn: "And this, what was the creature called again?"
Sega: "A salmitton. I confess I underestimated how much attention the High Legatifex was doting upon the creature. Had I known she liked it so much, I would have taken more care in how I disposed of it."
Knightlord Thorn: "Kimleigh--"
He pauses as he says her name. He almost feels his emperor's pain upon the very sound of the word.
Knightlord Thorn: "The High Legatifex was very disparaging of your conduct towards this, as she claims, innocent creature. She kept very, very meticulous logs."
Sega: "I believe she also wrote a similar log when I killed her pet bacteria. Had that disease entered the population..."
Knightlord Thorn: "Of course you are correct, Guardian. And, as it turned out, your concerns of this salmitton were, perhaps, vindicated. One way or another this creature led to the events that claimed the princess' life."
Sega: "I do not place the blame on the creature, my Lord. I blame only myself for not killing her more efficiently."
Knightlord Thorn: "Sometimes it is impossible to save someone from themself, Guardian. But you can finish what you started..."
Sega rises his head as Thorn turns to face the kneeling cyborg.
Sega: "It would be an honour, my Lord."
Knightlord Thorn: "Once you have disposed of the salmitton you may commit seppuku if you still wish. The Highemperor will not enforce it but I, personally, would highly advise it."
Sega bows his head again, without any sign of fear or sorrow at the prospect.
Knightlord Thorn: "Then go. Find your prey. Clean the slate so that we can all move on with our lives..."