The suite at hotel Imperial was predictably palatial. The range of high ranking Imperial travelers was vast, ranging from buying agents for the big commercial guilds, to ships captains, to the wanderlust afflicted nobility. I had guested with them a time or two, usually as the companion to one paramour or another. I suppose that wasn’t too different from what I was doing now. I suspected Hadrian would be angry with me for the clumsy way I had misused his force staff, but there wasn’t much to be done about that now. I crossed to my room and stripped out of my dust stained finery and wiped myself off with the luxuriously soft towels that they seemed to supply as though they expected a regiment of bathers rather than one, toasting the wet ones into the laundry hamper. The sound of conversation, muffled through the door told me that I had a few minutes so once I was clean I combed out my hair and braided it in a style that I felt was sufficiently different from my previous hairstyle to avoid instant recognition but severe enough that it could be something worn by an adept of the Administratum. Given the length and luster of my hair it probably wouldn’t help much, but it seemed like a reasonable way to get it under control.
With my hair dealt with and my jewelry removed I changed into a white leather bodyglove with embroidered gold panels around the waist and bust. Needless to say, my clothing purchases from what I now realized was the previous day had been delivered with all the punctuality money could buy. I added a pair of knee length boots of a soft gray leather that had been buffed to a near sheen and sealed with a series of military style buckles in gold, the bright metal tying the boots to the embroidery nicely. I wasn’t going to bother to add any jewelery, my supply of it was fairly limited as our shopping had focused on clothing and the few pieces I would need for the party, but an idea struck me and I took a sapphire ring with an elaborate wire casing in gold and electrum and slipped it on my finger. I will admit that the ensemble was a bit more than strictly casual, but being dressed nicely was rarely a disadvantage, particularly if a man might be angry at you.
When I came back into the parlor I found hadrian and his tech priest friend in deep conversation, the crewman having apparently left or been sent on some errand. Both of them fell silent as I entered. Hadrian sucked in his breath and Lazarus emitted a low hissing sound which i woul slater come to understand as the sacred binary language of his bult. I crossed the room and took a seat on one of the couches. The adrenaline of the chase was wearing off and I could have used a cup of recaf, but this didn’t seem to be a good time to call room service.
“I told councilor Ignatius we were staying here,” I began, unsure if that was the most pertinent point. Hadrian nodded his head.
“I’ve rented several rooms including the penthouse,” he explained. The cost of that was staggering to me, but it did mean that anyone trying to find us in what amounted to a small hive stack would have a lot of ground to cover. The Hotel Imperial also had excellent security, a necessity given its clientele, and it would be tough to conduct any kind of a search while evading geneseed sniffers and servitor skulls. That meant we were probably as safe here as we were anywhere on the planet.
“He definitely reacted when I mentioned xenoarchaeology, more than someone surprised at a strange specialty. I tried bringing up glowing runes but that may or may not have narrowed it down any,” I told them. “I think by that point he had recovered enough to be more guarded.” Lazarus emitted another burst of binary nonsense.
“There is a footman in his livery delivering a card now,” Lazarus informed us. We wouldn’t know until we checked with the front desk, but I felt confident it was the invitation we needed.
“Do you think the assassins were his?” I asked Hadrian. He shrugged his shoulders laconically.
“Its possible it was the local nobility, but they were in place quickly and were well equipped. The sniper long las worries me a little,” he admitted. I arched an eyebrow.
“A little??” I demanded. He shrugged again.
“The long las isn’t a common choice outside the guard, its an oddity and that makes me uneasy.” What significance that had still escaped me.
“The real question is was this an attempt to kill an Inquisitor, or just an attempt to snuff out an uppity aristocrat?” he posed. I considered it. On the one hand it seemed like alot of force to kill one popinjay socialite, on the other it seemd like too little to take out what might have been the spear of an Inquisitorial warband. An idea occurred to me.
“What if the thugs were never meant as assassins?” I asked. Lazarus and Hadrian both looked at me in incomprehension.
“What would have happened after the sniper killed you?” I asked. Shadrian smirked slightly.
“I’d have made my accounts to the Golden Throne I hope,” he japed. Lazarus issued another burst of binary that might have been laughter. I rolled my eyes.
“I mean what happens after that?” I pressed. Hadrian considered it for a long moment and then his eyes brightened.
“Someone would have called the arbities!” he exclaimed. I nodded remembering the arbities gear the thugs had been wearing. It wouldn’t have fooled an actual law enforcement officer, but it probably would have been enough to get past panicked partygoers.
“Right so then our friends would have swooped in, taken your body, probably taken me and possibly others in for questioning,” I agreed. That hung in the air for a while.
“Its a lot of resources to put in place with less than twelve hours notice,” Hadrian pointed out. That was true, no one had even known we were going to the party until a few hours before. No one except Superior Duke Hostas. Hadrian and I shared a look.
“We need more information, and for that we will need to preserve our covers. Luckily most of the witnesses are dead, electrocuted or otherwise unable to report what happened. But the fact that two rather impressive fountains were destroyed is going to be a little hard to square without socialite covers,” Hadrian began he didn’t seem angry but I forestalled him anyway, holding up the sapphire ring.
“Devastating fashion sense?” he asked, cocking an amused eyebrow.
“In a sense, I used my digi-weapon when I was threatened,” I explained, wiggling the ring threateningly.
“I sense no machine components,” Lazarus said flatly. I slipped my make believe weapon onto my finger.
“Well lets keep that to ourselves shall we?”
Further discussion was interrupted as the doorbell played a blast of the March of the Primarchs.
"Room service," a haughty voice called through the expensive armored paneling.