Tilusch Kaunitzer was in love. It wasn’t a story slate romance love, where two sweetheart lovers are torn apart by fate and circumstance only to come back with fierce kisses sealing an enduring love for the ages. Neither was it an action adventure vid love, with an intrepid guardsman hero saving the damsel in distress from a hideous xenos creature, all the while making witty comments and keeping perfectly coiffed hair. You couldn’t even call it a steady, comfortable love, made of everyday moments stolen in between catching snippets of rest while working two downhive jobs and hustling the local card players, just to make the payments on the “efficiency” hab capsule.
In sad truth it was an incredibly unequal and one-sided love, where Kaunitzer supplied all the sweat equity, adoration, and pampering while his money-hungry shrew of a wife took complete advantage. It was a painful love – torturous and cruel, its days filled with a thousand shallow, sharp injuries to his heart like the tenderest caresses of a slaaneshi daemoness to its new favorite plaything. It was a love where pride was swallowed and hectoring was stoically borne in the hope that love might someday be returned, with the desperate tinge of bitterness at the back of the throat that came with knowing deep down it likely never would be. And it was this love that landed Tilusch Kaunitzer nearly naked, shivering in fear, in a cage with another prisoner. Completely unfair, to be sure…but nothing in this grimdark universe ever is.
The day started out like any other, with Tilusch rising to get ready for the day at 0400 from the sofa, where he had been banished to by his wife the night before for some unknown infraction. A quick shower, a bite to eat, and a generous helping of recaf saw him to his morning shift job as a line cook. After completing this 8 hour shift preparing vat cakes and grox bacon (with only two robbery attempts, a rarity in the poorest part of the hab), a 45 minute trudge further uphive then got him to his second job at the Port Gyre hangars, a part time security guard gig that he worked on Tuesday and Sunday evenings to help finance the costume jewelry his wife put on layaway.
Though the pathways he took from job to job were dimly lit and littered with refuse, the hangars were clean and well lit by comparison. Harsh white lights illuminated the perimeter fencing around the hangars, revealing razorwire strung both along the top of the fence and in the open ground between the hangars and the rest of the hive. Groundskeepers clearly kept the terrain clean, and this allowed chevroned floor lights to conspicuously mark the entrance and the subsequent pathway to the main administration building where the guards made their headquarters. It was to here that Kaunitzer made his way.
Changing into his uniform in the guard locker room, he greeted his fellow guards with a polite nod, asked after their families, and listened with a polite but disinterested air as they went through the motions of lying about how great things were. Behind him, Kaunitzer heard his partner Salucci cracking jokes in his familiar accent. Kaunitzer made eye contact, and with an upwards head nod to Salucci, Kaunitzer placed his right hand over his heart and extended three fingers while making a circle with his thumb and pointer finger in the universal sign of the half aquila. Together, Kaunitzer andSalucci headed over to read the night’s assignment roster slate. “Looks like central dispatch has us on that strange private hangar again,” Kaunitzer said, raising an eyebrow at Salucci. “I wonder what’s in there?”
With a shrug, the two linked up and headed out to execute the security circuit of their assigned hangar. Twenty three boring circuits on their predefined route saw early evening come and go, and though the night reached the witching hour the overhead lighting’s machine spirit still lit the hangars. It felt comfortable and safe, and with that came mind-numbing boredom, so Kaunitzer began to babble about his wife. “I met my baby on MinistrorumMingle.com, you know,” Kaunitzer told Salucci. “She’s the light of my life, and i’m working this job to get her something special. I mean, I know we have our issues some times, but she’ll come around and let me sleep in the bed again if I can get her this jewelry, you’ll see!” The rolling of Salucci’s eyes in complete disbelief of that statement was the last thing Kaunitzer remembered before waking up caged.