[Fanfiction] Legacies

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Kalenath
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[Fanfiction] Legacies

Postby Kalenath » 28 April 2016, 15:39

I really hated how the game Space Marine ended. THQ was planning two sequels and then they went under. We will likely never see what happens to Captain TItus or that whiny little brat Leandros. Although we can hope for a Space Marine II it likely won't happen soon if at all.

So, this is MY imagining what happens after the events on Graia in Space Marine. According to canon, that took place after the events of Dawn of War II. We shall see LOTS of space combat in this. Hold on, it's going to be a WILD ride. But then again... Adeptes Asartes wouldn't have it any other way.

FOR THE EMPEROR!


_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Asartes Honor

"Begone."

The young Space Marine stared at the guard at the door, his shock evident. He was clad in formal robes instead of the usual power armor and while he carried his bolter slung across his back, only a fool would draw it when both guards at the door stood ready with power weapons in hand. Even in his power armor, he would not have had a chance. Both of these guards were handpicked champions, veterans of hundreds of years of combat. He stood well within their reach and neither was happy to see him.

"I do not understand." The Ultramarine known to some as Leandros simply stood, his jaw slack. "I requested an audience."

"What is to understand, stripling?" The guard on the left asked calmly. "Chapter Master Calgar does not wish to speak with you. His exact words were 'If I see him, he dies.'" At that, Leandros recoiled.

"What did you expect?" The other guard asked snidely. "A promotion? You betrayed your captain and your brothers to the Inquisition. You cost us Titus. Be very glad you are a full battle brother or you might have been sent to the Master of Servitors as punishment for such an act of faithlessness." To be turned into a cyborg to serve as a menial laborer for the rest of his existence... Leandros swallowed hard. Such a horror was unthinkable.

"I did as the Codex demanded." Leandros snapped.

"No." The first speaker retorted. "You were afraid."

"I know no fear!" Leandros snapped, his hand now on the grip of his boltgun. Neither of the others as much as flinched as he slowly released it. Even here, even now, he was still a battle brother and was allowed to carry weapons. He wondered at times if it was to give others an excuse to shoot.

"We have seen the transcripts of what happened on Graia." The other guards said firmly. "Whether you were afraid or not is immaterial. You chose to betray your brother captain to the Inquisition. Do not expect trust from any of us or any kind of leniency from the Chapter Master. You have your orders. Begone." The guard repeated.

Leandros stared at the two armored guards and then turned and walked away. He jerked as he saw a form in red power armor striding towards the door he had just been barred from. He turned and stared as the power armored Space Marine nodded to the two guards and they let him pass. The bewildered Ultramarine shook his head and started for the armory. He had a lot of work to do and a long time to do it. Ordinarily, a servitor would be tasked to clean the weapons that had been stored in the Ultramarine's armory since time immemorial. Some of those weapons hadn't been touched in millennia. He had no idea what a Vulkite Culverin was for or how it worked, but he had been tasked to make it functional and none of the Chapter's Techmarines would help him at all. That was merely the first of thousands of weapons that he had been detailed to refurbish. The list was two hundred pages long. Such menial work for a Space Marine was demeaning in the extreme.

Leandros was an Ultramarine. He would obey orders, no matter how they rankled. He still felt he had done the right thing, but no one else believed that. Maybe... Maybe he needed time to think.

He had plenty.


***

"I never expected to see you again, Captain Diomedes." The Chapter Master of the Ultramarines was cool and considered. He was both a peerless warrior and a matchless statesman in one. His armor even now bore the scars of honorable combat against the foes of the Imperium. The red armored Space Marine who stood before him nodded.

The Blood Ravens were not what they had been. For a long time, they had been as secretive or more so than even the Dark Angels who defined the word. They still had secrets, but then again, every Space Marine Chapter did. Now however, they had stepped out into the light. They had submitted to review by a number of authorities, including an embassy of Ultramarines. The fervor that had cleansed their ranks from the taint of the Ruinous Powers had been extreme but needed. Now? They were free of corruption for the moment, but many eyes would be watching.

"I know, but I had to say this. You were right." The red armored Space Marine shook his head. "I was wrong. Pride can blind any of us, but it took me completely. I give apology to you and your Chapter for insults given. For my blindness. For my arrogance and stupidity. I am just glad my flaws did not cost you as much as they cost me. Speak your sentence and I shall abide by it. We wronged you. We owe you." Such an admission hurt, that was clear to anyone with eyes. Marneus Calgar stared at the red armored form and then nodded.

"We all make mistakes, Captain Diomedes. You fought honestly and believed honestly. You were less than diplomatic, but your faith and honor was never in question. Anyone can be misled." The Chapter Master of the Ultramarines said after a moment. "You came all the way to Maccragge simply to apologize?" He didn't bother to keep the disbelief from his voice.

"Chapter Master Angelos has been loud about fixing things when we can." Blood Ravens Honor Guard Captain Apollo Diomedes said with a sigh. "Many things we did under the previous chapter master can never be fixed. We may never know the exact cost of Kyras' deceptions but what we can fix, we must. We caused strife between chapters. We cannot always trust the Imperium, but we have to trust our brothers in arms."

"Don't tell the Dark Angels that." Calgar said with a snort that Diomedes shared after a moment.

"I am not that stupid nor arrogant anymore." Diomedes agreed. "But the apology was only the official reason that I am here."

"And unofficial?" Calgar asked carefully.

"Squad Corvus was with the Liberation Fleet that was sent to Graia." Diomedes said softly. "We know what happened." Calgar tensed and Apollo raised a placating hand. "What is between your battle brothers is between them. We have no right to interfere in your chapter's politics nor would we wish to. We have enough trouble with our own. We have opinions of course. Everyone does, but we also have our duty to Emperor and Imperium."

Both Space Marines bowed their heads. It wasn't a religion, per say. Space Marines did not hold to the common Imperium belief of the Emperor as a god. They knew better. He hadn't been mortal and he hadn't really been human in most regards. He had created the Primarchs who had then fathered the Adeptas Asartes. Things had gotten complicated when many of said Primarchs and their legions had turned against the Emperor, but all Space Marines knew who they owed their very existence to.

"That we do." Calgar agreed when both raised their heads. "So... what?"

"Inquisitor Thrax is known to us." The Captain of the Blood Raven Honor Guard said firmly. Calgar stiffened and Dimoedes nodded. "We believe he is Radical."

"Oh, not again..." Calgar actually raised a hand to his face at that as Diomedes nodded.

The very thought of using some powers to fight darker powers was anathema to any right thinking Space Marine. It wasn't a matter of religion either. It was common sense. Some things just were too dangerous to play with. Unfortunately, not everyone thought that way. The Radical movement in the Inquisition seemed to think that the end always justified the means, even when it led to worse things eventually. Not much else was known about them. The Inquisition hid their secrets well. Still, the messes they left in their wakes were equal to some Adeptas Asartes assaults on occasion. Space Marines had been called into clean up a number of such messes. It was never pretty.

"We have no proof. We do not know what he is planning. We do not know that he is doing what his peers have." Diomedes said flatly. "But Captain Titus showed a resistance to Warp energies." Calgar stiffened again and Diomedes nodded. "Your battle brother Leandros was not quiet in his denunciations. The ranking Imperial Guard officer survivor, one Lieutenant Mira, was far more circumspect, but she tried to protest through channels. She vanished two weeks later." Calgar's eyes narrowed and Diomedes nodded. "According to records, an Inquisition ship left the system eight hours after that."

"From everything that I have seen of the records, that young lieutenant was a hero. All of her commanders were killed and her force was in tatters. Most Imperial Guard would have fled or died where they stood. She rallied her men and fought. Fought smart and fought hard. A credit to the Imperial Guard." Calgar said flatly. "She and her men stood against the whole Ork horde until Captain Titus' forces arrived." Diomedes nodded. "And even when the Traitor Legions struck, she held her men together. I know for a fact that her High Command was going to decorate her." Diomedes nodded again.

"Human she may be, but she is a credit to the Imperial Guard indeed." Diomedes agreed. "The Guard that I have spoken to about this are all in agreement. She was to be decorated and promoted. We do not know what happened to her, but we can guess."

"She was connected to Titus. So, you think this Inquisitor -Thrax- took her." Calgar looked as if he wanted to spit for a moment. "Titus surrendered to the Inquisitor to keep her men and his brothers from facing Inquisitorial wrath. If they took her..." He trailed off.

"Then the Inquisitor abrogated his oath and nothing he said can be trusted." Diomedes finished the thought. "We need to know what happened to her and Titus. The Blood Ravens stand ready to assist in any way we can." Calgar stared at him, apparently dumbfounded by such a declaration. "We have not always been comfortable allies, Chapter Master Calgar." Understatement of the millennia... Diomedes carefully did not say. He personally had called the chapter the 'Ultrasmurfs' a few times. Something he regretted now. "But we are Adeptas Asartes. We stand against the darkness in defense of the Imperium. If this Inquisitor took your captain, it cannot be for the good of the Imperium."

"We do not know that." Calgar frowned a little. "Titus was one of our best but even then, if there is doubt..." He trailed off as Diomedes shook his head. "What?"

"We are not ambivalent in this, Chapter Master." Diomedes said softly. "We lost one of our own and are seeking him as well. We believe Thrax may know his whereabouts." Calgar waved for him to continue and Diomedes took a moment to gather his thoughts. "What do you know of the Aurelian Crusade?"

"An attack by Orks and then Tyranids. Eldar were involved." Calgar replied instantly. "Your chapter stopped them, but there were repercussions. The Ruinous Powers came later. The Ordo Malleus moved in but then was called off." Odd that, but Calgar had seen odder in his career.

"Yes." Diomedes looked away and was that shame on his face? It was! "The second phase was not our finest hour. But the first part... That was." Calgar did not interrupt and the commander of the Blood Raven Honor Guard spoke again. "Whatever you have been told is incomplete. When the Orks were pushed to attack the sector by the Eldar, we had one strike cruiser with half a company in the sector. Two escort frigates. That was all." Calgar stared at him and Diomedes nodded. "Three squads of battle brothers. One squad of scouts. Led by the youngest Force Commander in our chapter's history."

"Half a company?" Calgar breathed. "They are a credit to your chapter."

"Them. Yes." Diomedes said sadly. "Not all of us." Calgar shook his head and Diomedes shook his. "What I am about to relate is virtually unknown outside of our chapter. When the Tyranids were defeated, the hive fleet splintered as they do." Calgar nodded. His chapter knew that enemy very well. "The Black Legion took advantage of the unsettled times to invade." Calgar nodded, he had known that. "What no one knows but us and now you is that Kyras had ties to the Black Legion." Calgar stiffened and Diomedes nodded. Such a thing was an affront to everything the Adeptas Asartes stood for. A chapter master of Space Marines working with the Ruinous Powers? Things started to make sense to Calgar that hadn't. No wonder the Inquisition had looked so closely at the Blood Ravens after such a mess. The Inquisition would not have hesitated to brand them all traitors if they had found any trace of further taint. Diomedes nodded as Calgar frowned in understanding. "We do not know how long or what form those ties took completely, but he spread the taint thoroughly through our brothers. When we discovered this, we acted. We serve the Emperor, not traitors."

"That will be hard to prove." Calgar was noncommittal.

"Agreed. We have purged our ranks severely, but now we have recovered." Diomedes said flatly. "Hence my mission here. I offer our assistance to the Ultramarines chapter to seek out this Inquisitor and determine what he is doing to your captain. If he is using powers that should not be used, we can notify the Inquisition."

"And what will they do?" Calgar demanded angrily. "Deny it? Cover it up? Sometimes I think Logan Grimnar has the right approach in dealing with those snakes." He shook his head. "Don't repeat that."

"Wouldn't dream of it." Diomedes said with a shrug. "Even if it is a horrific insult to snakes." Calgar shook his head again. "Thing is, the force commander who led the Aurelian Crusade was lost to us. We seek him and believe the one who took your captain may have answers as to where our lost brother may be."

"What is his name?" Calgar asked. "The force commander?" He froze as sorrow crossed Diomedes' face. "Captain?"

"I do not remember." The Blood Raven said sadly. "I can see his face. I can hear his voice. But Kyras erased his name from our minds. From all of our records. He fought with honor and upheld the Emperor's Light. He stood me off even when I was blinded by my pride and I cannot remember his name!" This last was almost a shout.

"The whole chapter?" The master of the Ultramarines seemed horrified. Diomedes nodded. "I...see."

"The Force Commander fled an order of execution. Or... I do not know. No one does." Diomedes said softly. "When Angelos took his fleet and went for help from the Imperium, the other stayed. He felt his duty was to the rest of us. Kyras ordered him executed." Diomedes scoffed. "Executed for killing a traitor in his force's midst who was corrupted beyond all hope of redemption. He simply vanished from the Strike Cruiser he had been confined aboard. None of his men knew where he went. Even after Kyras was defeated, when Angelos was elevated to Chapter Master and all who remained pure were exonerated, no one knew how he had escaped. Or if he had."

"If?" Calgar queried slowly.

"An Inquisition ship left the subsector that day." Diomedes replied. "None of us thought it amiss. They come and go as they will. There were more than few of them around. But it does seem convenient and Thrax was seen nearby about that time. I was busy hunting the Black Legion."

"That is thin." The Ultramarine Chapter Master sounded deep in thought.

"Agreed." Diomedes shrugged. "We have no other leads. One Inquisitor was determined to prove he had escaped into the Warp, but there was no residue. None of his wargear had any discernible taint."

"It can be insidious." Calgar mused, but then he scoffed. "If anyone knows that, you Blood Ravens do."

"We have been as careful as possible..." Diomodes allowed. "But Chapter Master Angelos wanted me to ask for more oversight." Calgar stared at him and Diomedes nodded. "Yours."

"You cannot be serious." It wasn't every day that the Chapter Master of the Ultramarines looked poleaxed. "What are you asking?"

"We want a closer relationship with the Ultramarines." Diomedes said softly. "This goes against the grain." Calgar nodded, but remained silent. "But we cannot allow what happened to happen again. We have to be more open, but... There must be limits. We bear secrets that must remain secret. Every chapter does." Calgar nodded soberly but did not interrupt. "Our secrets nearly cost us everything and Gabriel thinks we need more oversight. Oversight we can trust."

"His words?" The master of the Ultramarines asked carefully. The Blood Raven nodded. "I see."

"Only a fool doubts Ultramarine honor." Diomedes said softly. "I have been a fool, but not in this. Gabriel is correct. We need more eyes on this. We need to be absolutely sure the taint is gone."

"You are proposing an alliance?" Calgar asked, his thoughts obviously moving quickly. "Between the Ultramarines and the Blood Ravens? Or more?"

Chapters did not merge unless calamity befell them, calamity so severe that said chapter could not recover. To even contemplate such without such a calamity was well nigh unthinkable. Then again, wasn't that one thing the Blood Ravens did very well? The unthinkable?

"For now, Gabriel thinks joint training will suffice." Diomedes replied. "As for the future? None can say except maybe the Emperor. Gabriel wants a closer relationship and I cannot blame him. We have been under strength for so long it almost seemed proper. But it is not. We adhere to the Codex and we will prove it."

"This is not something for me to decide on whim." Calgar said flatly. Diomedes nodded. "I will think on this but for now... What did Angelos have in mind for joint training?"

"A hunt." Diomedes said with a smile that was less friendly, but not directed at Calgar.

"Thrax?" Calgar asked softly and then he nodded as Diomedes inclined his head. "If he took your Force Commander as well as our captain... Yes. I can see that. We have many questions for him."

"Then let us go get some answers." Diomedes paused. "Carefully."

"Oh, come now." Calgar actually laughed. "This is an Inquisitor we are talking about. If he is taking our brothers, then we need to know why. If he has good reason, then let him speak it. If not... Then we will speak with him." There was little doubt as to how the Ultramarine meant that. "You have personnel here?"

"The Heroes of Tython asked to seek their commander." Diomedes replied. "Gabriel said 'yes'."

"All of them?" Calgar asked dubiously.

"Captain Thule is in command, but Sergeants Tarkus, Thaddeus and Cyrus came with me." Diomedes smiled a bit grimly. "Techmarine Martellus came along. They are on one of the escorts that accompanied the Retribution here." He shook his head. "Not many of others are left, but those who are, came. We need to know our brother's fate."

"As do we."
Last edited by Kalenath on 10 September 2016, 13:57, edited 1 time in total.
You deny the Greater Good? I regret that.

YOU will regret the seeker missile that is now homing in on your personal biosignature. Have a nice day.


:P

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Kalenath
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Joined: 17 March 2016, 17:55
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Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies

Postby Kalenath » 10 September 2016, 13:56

Pain

Everything hurt.

Every single fiber of her being was on fire. She was being burned alive in this whatever it was. She tried to scream and could not. She tried to fight and she could not. She tried to curl up and let the pain course by her and she could not. It flowed through and around-

No! She would not give in! She would never give in! She was a soldier of the Emperor! She would not surrender! No pain could break her!

It stopped.

Her skin was still burning. She was burning. Every muscle, every nerve was on fire. But she was lying on something hard and something cool was being poured over her. The shock made her gasp and then something was holding her hand gently as she sobbed.

"It is all right." The voice in her ear was female, kind. The woman was speaking high Gothic, but...the accent was not one she knew. Was it? She couldn't bring anything to mind. Something was rubbing her... her bare skull? Where was her hair? What was going on? "The Emperor protects and he protected you. You are going to be all right."

She took those kind words into a painless slumber.

***

"Report." The tone of the person speaking was not quite polite, but no one blamed him. He was in charge of the military forces in the area. Not a light burden at the best of times, which these were not.

"The human is alive although I am not sure why." The medical professional turned to his screen and touched it on. A grunt came from the other and the medic shook his head. "My special assistant says it was the Emperor's will she lived."

"Considering where we found this one..." The other said with a snap. "...I highly doubt that. I have to admit though. She is one tough gue'la to have survived that." He turned and the red circle within a 'T' symbol on his rectangular shoulder armor was clear.

"Shas'vre, she is not weak, whoever she is. Did the Water Caste have any luck deciphering her ornamentation?" The medic asked the other who nodded. "She is not of us. But she can be. What do we know of her?"

"She is of the Gue'la Imperial Guard." The armored form was scrutinizing the holo that showed their latest patient. "As you say, she is not weak or weak-willed or she would have perished in that machine. The engineers did not think she would survive being removed or until arrival at your medical facility. That in and of itself is a minor miracle."

"More than you know, Shas'vre." The medic said quietly. The other turned to scrutinize him and the medic nodded. "She was implanted with a biological weapon. The trigger failed. It was designed to attack us."

"Is the weapon disabled?" The other demanded. He relaxed a little when the medic nodded. "Can you remove it?"

"We have." The medic reassured the soldier. "It is being analyzed now. My assistant says it seems too straightforward for those sorts though. We are scanning her for more oddities now. If we find any, we will notify you immediately. But if we had..." The soldier just grunted. His method of dealing with the problem would have involved an airlock.

"A trap." The armored form said slowly. The medic nodded. "For us. No wonder the ship was deserted. But to place it so carefully on our path... What else can you tell me?"

"Not much." The medic said with sigh. "There was no identification with her, just the pigment that infused parts of her body and with the brain injuries... She may or may not be cogent when she wakes." Both of the watchers turned back to scrutinize the sleeping human on the screen. She wore the usual blue gown for patients and a covering shielded her eyes from the light of the room. Restraints were not needed at the moment, she wouldn't be capable of movement for a time, let alone conflict. "All we can do is wait now."

"We will be arriving in a matter of hours, medic." The team leader said quietly. "Will your people be ready?"

"The Earth Caste stands ready, Shas'vre." The medic clasped a three fingered hand to his chest. "We will spread the Greater Good."

"The Ethereals tried once here." The armored form said absently. "They failed, but through no fault of their own apparently. They were simply overmatched. Such can happen to anyone. Even Commander Oshavah is not omniscient."

"No." The medic agreed. "But he is closer than anyone else." His grin was wide and the armored form shared it. "The Ethereals never expected us to come back here, did they?"

"No." The commander said with a shrug. "They lost a great deal here. They will amass a much stronger expedition and take much longer to come here again. By then? We will have entrenched ourselves."

"The base, sir?" The medic asked. "I heard of a distant relative who served here. She didn't make it out. Our family would want me to look in my free time."

"After all this time, it is highly unlikely that anything will be left." The other's tone was milder now. "The 'humans'-" He enunciated the word heavily and the medic smiled a little. "-tend to destroy anything they think might be impure. Having seen some of the other enemies they fight, I cannot say that such caution is unwarranted. If brutal." He shook his head. "After we get settled in and the defenses are set, I can authorize such expeditions. But.." He held up a hand as the tech smiled. "Not alone. We have no idea at all what trap might have been left. From what I understand the base switched hands several times in the fighting after Sha'so Or'Es'Ka was pushed out."

"Bloody butchers." The tech said softly, his gaze far away.

"For now, focus on your tasks, Fio'El Ke'lshan Torom." The officer said quietly. "We will have time to mourn our losses when the base is up and running again. But this time, we will see the defenses secured first."

"As ordered, Shas'vre." The tech nodded in the proper way of a subordinate dismissed to duties before turning back to his consoles. "I will keep you updated on the human's condition." The other left wit6hout comment and the med tech turned to another console. "Sister Agatha? How is our guest?"

"She woke for a moment, but then fell unconscious again, Fio'El. The burn fluid soothed her as we suspected it would. A small mercy, but a well thought one." The voice was human and the form that appeared from nearby was as the voice supposed. She wore ornamental robes that were not -quite- Tau in design and her ornamentation was anything but Tau. Ordinarily, such would not be permitted at all, but she was a special case in a number of ways. Her scarred face was solemn as she turned her blind eyes from one side to the other. One thing he liked about her, she never let her lack of sight slow her down even if she did refuse the tech that could in all likelihood let her see again. She was odd that way, but no one doubted her integrity or devotion to her duty. "I never expected to return here. Certainly not like this."

"We are not here to fight, Sister." The Fio'El said quietly. "The base we will build here is here to gather information. Nothing more."

"It is never that simple, Fio'El." The woman said with a frown as she turned back to the room she had come from. "Part of me still wishes I had died that day, but that would have been betraying the Emperor. I failed my duty to my sisters, but I survived and spread the Emperor's light as best I can in my darkness."

"If more of your kind believed as you do, there would be a lot less strife in the universe." The other said with a sigh. "But as it is? I am glad to have you here. The others have questioned, but your compassion and skill are wonders to behold."

"You are kind to an old blind Gue'la, Fio'El." The human said sadly. "I know my place and it was to be a slave and then a lab rat." The medic stiffened and she shook her head. "I know that you of the Enclaves do not feel the same as the ones who took me in the raid on Kaurava IIIs moon. Otherwise, you would not have rescued me from their lab, treated my wounds, tended me through my infirmity. But your leaders want something I cannot give. I cannot give you my faith. I cannot show you how what was done happened. I cannot."

"I do not want that, Sister Agatha." The other said quietly. "I asked for you on this expedition because I know we will encounter other humans. With you, there is a chance at discourse. Without? There is none. The Water Caste seeks communication and..." He broke off as the sister grimaced. "Sister?"

"They will not talk to you." Agatha said sadly. "The only communication any of the Guard will be allowed is from the barrel of a lasgun. Our guest would have better luck talking to them than I would after what happened with my sisters here. I missed that, being captured by the Dark Eldar. If I am very lucky, they will simply shoot me. If not?" She shivered. "Your philosophy has much to recommend it. I can see the Emperor perhaps agreeing. But the Imperial Guard will not."

"Sister... If you could go back to who you were before, would you?"

"That woman no longer exists, Fio'El." Agatha said flatly. "If she did... She would be horrified by what I have become." Whatever the other was going to say was cut off by a cry. The medic spun to see the human woman writhing on her bed but Sister Agatha was already in motion.

"Be careful!" He snapped even as he ordered a new set of scans and a drone with some specialized equipment. The woman shouldn't have woken so soon. Something was very wrong here.

***

Agatha swallowed as she entered the room. She couldn't see the other, but the sister could smell her. Without sight, her other senses took on new meaning, honed far beyond human norms by necessity. She could still smell the scorched flesh. The techs assured her it was only the outer layers of the woman's skin and it was healing quickly with the medical skill of the Earth Caste but the smell remained and only years of discipline coupled with her devotion to aiding those less fortunate allowed her to keep her composure and her stomach contents. The other was moaning, but it sounded odd.

"Is she awake?" Agatha asked.

"I am not sure." The med tech replied, concerned. "Her brain scans are erratic. She may be having a seizure."

"Or something far worse." Agatha said with a snarl even as her hand dropped to her side and she felt the door close behind her, equalizing the pressure in the room. "Fio'El, do not quibble with me on this. If she... alters from human in any way, vent the compartment." A gasp sounded but she was in motion. "It would be a far kinder death for me -and her!- than many." She felt the edge of the bed and reached out to the moaning woman. "Easy, easy..."

She heard words and felt fear rise, but relaxed as she realized the woman was speaking Gothic. If she had been speaking something else, Agatha probably would have strangled her as she lay. Again, far kinder. But then Agatha gasped in recognition. The woman was praying! Praying to the Emperor for deliverance.

"It is all right." Agatha said softly as she reached out to touch the seared flesh with gentle fingers. "You are not alone. The Emperor has delivered you. You are in pain from your burns and nothing we do can ease that quickly, but we will tend you. Easy..." She crooned, unsure if anything she was saying was getting through.

"I... What?" The woman sounded awful but strength beyond normal for humans resonated deep inside it.

"What is your name, Dear?" Agatha asked. "Mine is Agatha. I am here to help. I cannot wave my hands and magically make your pain vanish, but I can be here with you, share your time if nothing else."

"Mira. My name is Mira." The woman said after a moment, her voice steadying. "Did Titus make it?"

"You were the only one we found." Agatha filed the name 'Titus' away for future consideration. Right now, she had a pressing concern. "You need to rest, child. You are badly hurt. While we did what we could, it will take time to heal."

"This isn't an Imperum ship, is it?" Mira asked, her tone suddenly flat. "I can't see, but I can hear and what I hear isn't like any Imperium ship I have ever been on."

"I won't lie to you." Agatha said quietly. "It isn't an Imperium ship." Mira seemed to shiver under Agatha's hand. She brushed the skin she could feel. "You were found on a small ship. It had seen hard fighting, but you were the only one aboard and you were inside some kind of evil machine."

"What?" Mira could not possibly be faking the sense of confusion, fear and consternation that Agatha could both hear in her voice and feel in her fingertips.

"Removing you from the machine was difficult, especially since you had been implanted with a nasty biological weapon that would have triggered if any of the other crew had touched you." Agatha said softly. "Luckily, I was here. They detected it and while I can't see, I can obey simple instructions fairly well."

"Why can't you see?" Mira asked, suspicion rising. "Why can't I see?"

"In reverse order..." Agatha kept her voice calm despite the old, old pain that surged through her empty eye sockets. "You cannot see because the medics covered your eyes. We fear that what burned you may have damaged them as well even though you wore a breather helmet in the machine. We don't know yet so, it is a precaution. As for myself? I lost my eyes along with my world." Agatha turned away from the other for a moment, the pain surging in her. "For the Dark Eldars, it was sport, you see. When they caught someone who could resist, they took their time. What they did to me, broke me. It took years for me to bring myself back to see the Emperor's light. It was always there and I can see it now even without eyes."

"Sister." Mira breathed and Agatha smiled a little.

"Once." Agatha corrected. "Now? I am an adjunct to healers. I serve as an ambassador of sorts. I bring the Emperor's light into dark places just as I did in the Sororitas, if a trifle less violently."

"And yet, you work with xenos like the ones who took your eyes." Mira couldn't wrap her mind around that. Such was clear from her tone.

"These are not the ones who took my eyes." Agatha said quietly. "These are the ones who rescued me from those. Who healed my wounds, cared for me in my weakness and never once demanded that I forsake the Emperor." She heaved a sigh. "I didn't understand at first. Not for a long time. I tried to die, several times. They didn't stop me, Mira. Something else did. I am not sure what, but I have suspicions. Then I met their leader and everything changed for me."

"Would they stop me?" Mira asked and Agatha felt a rock form in her stomach.

"No." Agatha admitted. "Their philosophy is that every life is precious but also that every being has a right to choose for such. Not all adhere to the same truths any more than all humans do. But they are remarkably coherent from what I have encountered. Far less alien than some I encountered in my previous life. If you are calm and in control when you choose such, they will not gainsay it. I wasn't." She said with a sad smile of memory. "It took Commander Oshavah himself to shake me out of my depression in its entirety. But he is... something." She shook her head. "No one I have ever met, barring the canoness of my order who I heard preach once, had the same level of..." She paused. "I don't know how to describe it. Charisma maybe? A feeling of knowing your place and accepting it? It wasn't mind control. It wasn't drugs. I knew those feelings from my time as a battle sister. He just accepted me as I was. He did not ask or command me to change, just asked me what I wanted." She laugh a little. "I had no idea. Still don't, to tell you the truth. But I enjoy healing, helping others. That hasn't changed since I was a novice."

"So... You are with them?" Mira said slowly.

"Mira, what use has the Imperium for a blind Sororitas?" Agatha asked softly. "One who failed to martyr herself when given the chance? I live, therefore the Emperor still has need of me. Somehow. Some way. I have to believe that. I still spread the Emperor's light, just not from a flamer anymore."

"I can't believe you." Mira said softly, turning her head under Agatha's hand. "I can't!"

"No one is forcing you to." Agatha said with a frown. "And no one will. We are not the Ethereals. We do not have the wherewithal nor the inclination to force others into our midst. Some of what we do is troubling, but we are focused on surviving, Mira. And right now, that has to be your focus. You have to recover from your injuries. Don't give in, Mira. The Emperor is with you. I am with you. You are not alone. Right now, though... You need rest to recover. So, sleep."

She brought her other hand up and laid the mask in it over Mira's nose and mouth. The woman gave a small moan and fell asleep.

"Rest well, soldier." Agatha said softly as she brushed Mira's head where hair would have been. Then she jumped as an alarm blared. She ran for the door, but the medic's voice sounded from an intercom.

"Stay there." The medic declared. "You are safer in there. We just went to battle alert. We have detected enemy ships at the edge of the system. Not Imperial."

"Who then?" Agatha felt fear rise and quieted it with a prayer.

"Orks."
You deny the Greater Good? I regret that.

YOU will regret the seeker missile that is now homing in on your personal biosignature. Have a nice day.


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Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies

Postby Kalenath » 11 September 2016, 15:45

Green? Best? HA!

Space is big. It had been said many times by many people, but the sheer size of interstellar distances were incomprehensible to most. The vast distances and small number of viable destinations allowed for a great deal of freedom in choosing where and how to approach star systems. Travel in the warp, while hazardous, made a mockery of interstellar distances. It was exceptionally dangerous to travel through and most would think twice about any long duration trip through the dimension that housed all kinds of nasty psychic and demonic forces just waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting. Most.

Orks didn't usually go for the whole silly 'navigation' thing that others demanded to travel in the Warp. The way they saw it, if they got somewhere, that was good. If they didn't? It was still good because the Warp would spawn things for them to fight while stuck in it and there was nothing that Orks liked more than a good fight.

The Tau abhorred violence as a race. They found it an inefficient use of resources that could be much better used elsewhere. That said, they were not stupid and had encountered Orks far too many times to count. They knew their enemies well. Orks, while often cunning, had two basic plans in space. Charge to get close enough to ram or board and charge faster to get close enough to ram and board. Their marksmanship was pathetic to say the least, but when one was suddenly swamped by a few hundred --or thousand!- greenskins in the confines of a spacecraft, pinpoint marksmanship was often counterproductive. While you shot one in the head, three or four more got close enough to gut you with their brutal Choppas. Quantity had a quality all of its own when dealing with greenskins and the Tau had learned their lessons well.

A BattleKroozer, four Kroozers, a Terror Ship and twelve escorts of various kinds turned to charge the outnumbered Tau fleet that had surprised them as the greenskins leisurely approached the system in search of loot. Even as the Orks were turning, the Tau ships were moving gracefully apart, their unified command structure splitting them up to be less attractive targets for unpredictable Ork ordnance while opening their own lanes of fire.

The lead Tau ship, the Hero class cruiser Shas Kauyon, was the first to empty her missile tubes. Two of the remaining three line ships in the Tau fleet did likewise. The Gal'Leath class flagship Mesme Kai, not to be outdone, fired and then quickly reloaded her eight missile tubes faster than any of her cohorts. Her crew -heavily augmented with Fire Warriors- had been spoiling for a fight this whole trip with nothing to do but drill and train. The Lar'shi'vre Class Cruiser Lur'tae'mont, of the type codenamed 'Protector' by the Imperial Navy, was a far newer design. Her fire, while lesser in magnitude than the massive flagship's, was far better targeted. The other ship in the Tau line bided her time. Il'Fannor class starships did not normally carry gravitic launchers for ordnance and the La Eur'ii was no different. She had been laid down as a trader, not a warship and on this trip, she was packed with troops and gear for the base. With any luck, this battle would be decided before the enemy reached beam range because as old as she was, she had little chance in a direct conflict with an Ork ship of similar size. She would focus on any escorts that entered her zone, hopefully burning them down before they reached ramming distance. The five Orcas and one Messenger gunship that had been carried into the system on the gravitic hooks of the Shas Kauyon and the Mesme Kai, spread out even as Manta bombers and Barracuda fighters left launch bays. Outnumbered the Tau might be, they generally were against Orks. Outclassed?

Nah.

The Battlekroozer took no less than eight hits from the missile swarms and simply broke up even before the Mesme Kai 's second salvo reached the onrushing greenskins. To the observers, it seemed as if the Ork point defense hadn't even tried. Then again, maybe they had. It didn't really make a lot of difference. Ork gunnery was nothing to be proud of. Before the Orks had managed to even halve the range, the Tau ships each got another salvo off, the Mesme Kai two again.

Before the Orks had closed the distance to a third, almost three quarters of their force was helplessly adrift or floating wreckage. The Terror Ship broke into three pieces, two of them still firing but none capable of independent movement. Two of the Kroozers were blown to pieces, the other two were battered almost to wrecks and three escorts had caught missiles as well, simply evaporating in the sheer power of the Tau ordnance. But then they were close enough and the odds shifted. No less than six Brute ram ships lit their massive thrusters and darted towards the Tau force, bent on slamming their crude but strong vessels into the hulls of enemy ships to deposit Ork warriors. That is, if they were lucky. If not? They would smear themselves and their cargos over shields and hull armor. The two remaining cruisers and three escorts closed with an almost anticipatory glee as the brutes closed the gap. But the Tau had come prepared for such. The denizens of the Farsight Enclaves knew Orks had been here and they knew how to fight Orks.

In a maneuver that Elder or Dark Elder ships might have managed if caught flatfooted -no one else- the fleet of Tau vessels split up further. Each shifted their course and speed to throw off the ramming attacks. Five of the ram ships flew right through the Tau formation, hitting nothing but drawing the fire of every Tau ship. The sixth, through sheer luck or some insane Ork god laughing, managed to slam full into the bow of the Shas Kauyon. This was what they had intended, but it didn't work so well for them. Tau ships all had a powerful deflector shield that pointed towards the front of the ship. The crew of the Shas Kauyon didn't even feel a bump as the ram ship vaporized against the energy barrier.

Now however, the Ork's strengths came into play. The two remaining Kroozers, battered as they were, still had a lot of firepower that they sent at the closest Tau ships, two Orca escorts and the La Eur'ii even as shoals of torpedoes arced from each. It was impossible to tell at a glance which ones had ordnance and which ones held Ork warriors. Both would be equally dangerous. The remaining escorts also charged, each trying for a ramming course on a different Tau ship. If they could ram or just get Tau shields to drop, Tellyportas on each Kroozer would send hordes of Ork warriors into the corridors of the Tau vessels. That could be very bad for the Tau.

But again, it had been planned for. The Lur'tae'mont shifted position, swatting an Onslaught gunship out of space with an almost negligent blast of railgun and ion cannon fire. Her bow turned to the two Kroozers and her tubes erupted once more. At this range, point defense was irrelevant. Both Kroozers staggered in space, one vomiting air and debris as secondary explosions shook it. The Shas Kauyon, the Mesme Kai and the La Eur'ii all poured fire into the Kroozers from ion cannon and railguns at a range where missing was simply impossible. No Ork ship ever built could stand up to such a Tau barrage for long and both of the Kroozers exploded in quick succession. The three remaining Ork escorts scattered as the cowardly greenskins did when faced with enemies they could not possibly prevail against, but the Tau escorts took exception to that.

Even as Manta gunships moved to finish off both Kroozers and check each wreck for signs of life, four of the five Orcas took off after the three fleeing Ork ships. The other Orca remained with the Messenger as close escort against the Ork torpedoes that were even now trying to seek and detonate or bore their way into Tau hulls. The Orks split up, each ship going a different direction and two Orcas pursued two of them. The third, seeing itself suddenly free from pursuit, seemed to hesitate. Then they piled on even more speed. Too late. The Shas Kauyon fired two missiles that caught up with the fleeing Ork before it had gone a hundred kilometers. Only two, but no more were needed. Technically, one probably would have sufficed, but no one trusted a single weapon to do a job. Even as the glare of the detonation flared and vanished, both sets of pursuing escorts scored hits on the remaining Ork ships and just like that, the battle was over.

All of the Tau ships had taken damage, but none of them had boarders. Which was good. Teams of Fire Warriors in XV-8 Crisis suits moved to check the hulls of each ship, making sure none of the Orks who had been blown clear of the wrecks managed against all odds to grab hold of something as they sailed past. Orks needed oxygen to survive, but the spores that they came from did not. Ork bodies had been dreadful surprises to Tau in the past and they had learned. Two of the Orcas had taken hull damage and the La Eur'ii had several breaches. The aged ship was on her last voyage and everyone knew it. She had served well and bravely for several centuries, but technology had passed her by. The Farsight Enclaves did not have the same logistical support that the main Tau Empire did, they relied on what they could produce themselves or occasionally 'borrow' from shipments between sept worlds. The designs for new battlesuits or ships like the Lur'tae'mont came to the Enclaves from various sources, few of them legitimate.

One boarding torpedo managed against all odds to find gap in the point defense coverage and slam into the La Eur'ii, finding a hull breach to spew forth its green tide. Unfortunately for the Orks, said hull breach was in the process of being sealed by a Cadre of Fire Warriors. Only a few of the Fire Warriors were in XV-8 Crisis suits but one of them was in something else. After a brief skirmish, the Fire Warriors fell back, the Orks of course pursued and came face to face with the sole XV-104 'Riptide' battlesuit that the expedition boasted. The resulting fight was very brief and left another pair of hull breaches that the Fire Warriors were quick to start sealing.

On reflection, the battle had gone almost completely in the Tau's favor. Eighteen Air Caste Tau were killed including a Manta crews who got a little too close to a piece of wreckage that wasn't quite wreckage until their squadron mates were done with it. Four Fire Warriors perished in the battles and in containing the sole boarding. Sad, to be sure, but nowhere remotely as bad as it could have been. Orks were no joke to fight in close quarters.

The ships formed up again and started for their planned destination, the second of the inhabitable worlds of the Kaurava system and its sole moon. They hoped to make moonfall without being detected. In this, they failed.

They were not unobserved.

***

The Tau could be excused missing the small ship that they passed on their way into the system. It looked like a piece of space debris. This was totally on purpose. It wasn't capable of long interstellar flights. That wasn't its mission. The owner of the ship had other vessels for that, but none for this. The sole room on it was almost utterly dark except for the hologram that showed the Tau entering the system.

"Well..." The soft voice was utterly devoid of emotion. "It would seem your heretical friend failed. The Tau are coming." There was no answer and the voice heaved a fake sigh. "Come now, Titus, no need to be rude."

"The only heretic I see here is you." A deeper voice. It was calm, but rage sang underneath it.

"I defend the Imperium, Titus." The other said silkily. "Do you need another reminder?"

"You can hurt me, but you will not break me." The other replied even as energy sang through the air. A grunt of effort was the only result. "You are a liar and a traitor and I will see you dead!"

"Words are cheap, Titus." The other said with what amounted to glee as the energy hummed louder.

"If you kill him, what does it prove?" Another deep voice sounded.

The lights that had been dim in the room came up in intensity. A table near one wall held a shaking form. It was humanoid, but one glance showed it wasn't human. The male Adeptas Asartes was straining against the metal that held him to the table despite the energy that flowed all around him. A human in power armor marked with Inquisition sigils stood by a control console and another Space Marine, this one in full red armor, stood near one wall, his boltgun aimed at the table.

"His ability to withstand warp energies has to be from the Warp." The inquisitor said with a shake of his head. "Nothing else makes sense." There was no reply from either of the others and he turned to the red armored giant. "We go to Kaurava I. You will need to change your armor."

"No." The Space Marine gave no sign of anger. Indeed, no sign of any emotion.

"Be reasonable." The Inquisitor said with a grunt of displeasure. "After what your Chapter did here..."

"I was not here." The other said calmly. "Captain Boreale was. If my chapter master had been here instead, you know what Kyras would have done when the Governor General attacked."

The Inquisitor paused and then nodded, manifestly against his will. The events on Kaurava had sent ripples through the Imperium. Not only had the Governor General slaughtered most of a company of Space marines, he had also done the same for an expedition of Adeptas Sororitas. Details were vague, but from what had been gathered, the sisters had demanded that Governor General Stubbs surrender himself and his men to Ecclesiarchy review. Such a review would have left few of them alive, no matter their guilt. Stubbs had attacked first before the Sisters had been fully secure in their holding, grinding their defenses into paste beneath the treads of his tanks. Such an attack would only end one way and none of the Sisters had survived it. Maybe. The Inquisition had some odd reports about a possible survivor, but they conflicted as such usually did.

What happened to the Blood Ravens was more clear. They had come chasing a force of Traitor Space Marines. Mistake number one? They had focused their efforts on that, leaving the other squabbling forces to fight amongst themselves. They had obliterated the enemy stronghold, killing the leader -a traitor named Carron- in the process. But doing so had allowed the Orks to assault their base facility. When the Space Marines returned to defend their base, both sides had been devastated by energy blasts from above. No one had paid much mind to the Tau base. Mistake number two. Even as the Blood Ravens had reeled from that, Governor Stubbs had acted. His tanks had torn through the weakened forces of both the Orks and the Space Marines. Only a few Blood Ravens had survived to be sent to Imperial Guard Command for eventual repatriation to their chapter. Only one had escaped. The Orks had died almost to a greenskin, but no one assumed they were gone for good.

If the Chapter Master of the Blood Ravens had been present, he likely would have ordered the area bombarded into sterility by orbital cannon. Nothing would have survived. Then he probably would have ordered an all out assault on the Governor General. Then again, he had secretly been a heretic all along, so...

"If you show up as a Blood Raven, they will take offense." The Inquisitor said flatly.

"Let them."

"You swore to obey my orders." The Inquisitor snapped, patience fleeing.

"I swore to defend the Imperium." The Blood Raven replied. "Not hide my face from murderers and traitors. The Tau, I can see taking advantage. They are xenos, it is what they do. The Guard? No. They wanted revenge for Kronus. They got it." There was a minute shrug of massive pauldrons. "Now they have to live with it. Sooner or later, the Chapter will respond. At the very least, they will try to recover Blood Raven gene seed. When that happens, the Governor General better be prepared. Gabriel Angelos is not one to trifle with." He stiffened as the Inquisitor looked thoughtful. "What?"

"Who would the Chapter send?" The Inquisitor asked.

"An apothecary." The Blood Raven said flatly. "I am not one and no, I will not fake being one."

"You are a pain!" The Inquisitor snapped, ire rising. "I saved you. You owe me. If not for me, you would have been executed as a heretic by a heretic."

"The debt is acknowledged." The red armored form replied. "But there are limits." He didn't add anything more. He didn't need to.

Both paused as laughter came from the form on the table.

"So sure of you own saintliness, Inquisitor?" Titus managed between grunts. "What was the quote? 'Those who rule from glass castles should not throw boulders'."

"You will show me your secrets, heretic." The Inquisitor hit a control and Titus' grunts became strained.

"One way or another."

***

No one saw another ship slowly inch away from the scene. A Space Marine craft, a small cruiser. It was not a regular design. Its markings were also not any regular chapter. The badge was a book with a sword through it. Only a few in the Imperium would have recognized the markings. The Inquisitor definitely would have, if he had seen them, but they worked hard so that he would not.

The Grey Knights kept their secrets better than the Inquisition did.
Last edited by Kalenath on 22 September 2016, 00:29, edited 1 time in total.
You deny the Greater Good? I regret that.

YOU will regret the seeker missile that is now homing in on your personal biosignature. Have a nice day.


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Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies

Postby Kalenath » 12 September 2016, 11:49

Memories of Kaurava

It was very quiet. He liked the quiet. Loud got people killed in his line of work. He could do any number of tasks in complete silence. Hence the complete breakdown and reassembly he was doing on his sniper rifle while his finally up to full strength squad worked on their own weapons, at the moment bolters and a shotgun. Their tools clinked just a little as they worked. His did not. He eyed them and they focused tighter on their tasks.

Scout Sergeant Cyrus was not a normal Space Marine, if there actually was such a beast. His way of fighting was not to go toe to toe with an overpowering enemy, trusting in armor to keep him safe while he pounded the enemy down. Oh, no. Cyrus' way of fighting was far more subtle. He was a sniper, a sapper, a scout and a spy all in one. He had been an assassin more than once, and his enemies only rarely saw him coming. He had been training scouts for the Blood Ravens chapter for a long time, almost since he had returned from his stint with the Deathwatch.

A small smile graced the grizzled old warrior's features for just a moment before vanishing. The memories of what he had done with that elite group of alien hunters were among his most treasured. They hadn't been fun. The Deathwatch were only called in when nothing else would work to solve the problem. They did not care about appearances, about tradition, or about slavish devotion to duty. All they cared about was results. Mush like another group he had been affiliated with more recently, come to think of it...

"Cyrus?" A familiar voice brought the scout of out of his reverie and he turned to see the armored form of his fellow sergeant Tarkus appear at the hatch that led out into the bowels of the ship. He checked and to his internal amusement, he had assembled the rifle correctly despite his brief lapse of concentration. Plus one for training. "Captain asked for you."

"Tarkus?" The scout said with a nod as he rose. "Problem?"

"Not that I know of." Tarkus shrugged slightly. "But you, me, Thaddeus and Janus, so... Maybe news." Cyrus frowned slightly but made it vanished before the higher ranked sergeant would have to take notice of it. Tarkus stood by the portal, waiting for the scout who nodded to his team.

"If we have to move, it may be on short notice." Cyrus' words were half muse, half command. But he knew his people would take them as a command. "Check everything." All of the other scouts bent to their tasks with renewed will. He smiled a little at Tarkus as he left the armory, a rare moment of camaraderie. There were few the old scout truly trusted. Tarkus was one of those. "At the very least, everything will work."

"For how long?" Tarkus retorted and Cyrus smiled a bit more freely. "These waits are the worst."

"Always have been." Cyrus agreed. "Always will be." He glanced around at the adorned corridor they were traversing and shook his head at the emblems. No Blood Ravens markings on this ship. No. "Once the fighting starts, everyone settles down. Until then? We train."

"Yeah." Tarkus led the way to a large door that Cyrus knew led to a vehicle bay. Not a normal place to find a Space Marine captain, but then again, their captain was anything but 'normal'. The huge door with its stylized 'U' slid to the side and the pair of Marine stepped forward into a bay that seemed cavernous.

Tarkus led the way deep into the bay until they reached an area that was set up like a command center. Two other space marines stood there already. One in Blood Raven colors, the other in the blue of the Ultramarines. Cyrus wasn't always sure how to take the Ultramarines, but he had seen Captain Janus' work and knew the man for a consummate professional. It was the other that took and held Cyrus' instant regard.

The form had two legs and two arms like a human, but there the similarities ended. The massive machine was gilded with golden battle honors and an iron halo crowned it. None of which mattered to the being encased within and Cyrus knew it.

"Captain Thule." Cyrus nodded as Tarkus did. "You called us here?"

-A message has been received but it is odd.- Cyrus felt a flutter within him at the voice.

Regret? Some sorrow. Pride? Pain. Captain Davian Thule had been one of the greatest commanders that Cyrus had ever served under. The man had been incredible at almost everything he did. What was more, he hadn't had an arrogant bone in his body. Oh, he had possessed pride in his skill and accomplishments, but it hadn't translated to arrogance like in so many other Space Marines that Cyrus had known. He had been devoted to the men under his command, hazarding himself on numerous occasions to keep them safe. In the end, that had cost him. Only heroic efforts on the parts of Cyrus and his team as well as an Apothecary and Techmarine had saved any of the man who had been Captain Davian Thule. Now, he was encased in a Dreadnought and he wasn't letting it slow him down at all. If anything, he was far more dangerous now than he had been in life.

"What is the message, Captain Thule?" Captain Janus wasn't entirely sure about the 'joint training' any more than the Blood Ravens were, but his troops were well trained. The Ultramarines had provided a half company and an associated strike cruiser, The Winds of Talassar, to ferry them on their hunt.

-It is for Sergeant Cyrus.- The Dreadnought turned with everyone to look at the scout who froze. -It is obviously a code. But not one of ours.-

"Who...?" Cyrus cut himself off and shook his head. "Let me hear it."

A static filled voice sounded from one of the consoles. The voice was almost certainly male, but beyond that, nothing else could be ascertained. It spoke three words. "Borealum. What was lost can be found. Eight days. Obligation fulfilled."

"What?" Sergeant Thaddeus started, but froze as Cyrus paled. For the old veteran scout to lose control in such a way was unthinkable. "Cyrus?"

"Where did that come from?" Cyrus demanded in a tone of iron. "When?"

"It arrived less than an hour ago in our daily data dump." Captain Janus said after a glance at the dreadnought. "It came from Maccragge, but there is no signal origination before that."

"There won't be." Cyrus had his face under control now, but his eye... More than one of the watchers looked away from whatever was in the scout's flesh and blood eye. "Captain Thule, I... Code Daedalus."

-Countersign is 'Icarus Rising', Sergeant.- Was the voice from the machine kinder? Cyrus relaxed a little. -Classification is satisfied with only veteran commanders present. Speak.-

"Borealum was our nickname among the 10th Company for the fortress that we created on Kaurava II." Cyrus kept his voice quiet. "We had been pursuing the traitor Carron's warband for almost a year when he went to ground on Kaurava IV. We landed when the Warp Storm was detected. We detected Chaos forces, we engaged."

"I know not this world, Kaurava." Janus said as the other Blood Ravens looked at one another. "I assume whatever happened there was bad?"

"We lost all of the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Companies, five squads of the Tenth and three squads of the First. We also lost a squad of allies who had shown up for the fight with Chaos. Without them, we might have all perished in that foul place. An entire Chapter might not have been enough. It was that bad." Cyrus said flatly. Janus recoiled a little and Cyrus nodded.

"What happened?" Janus asked. Cyrus turned to the dreadnought who motioned with both arms.

-Speak, Sergeant.- Captain Thule said calmly. -That happened is past. There must be no secrets here. It is our shame, not yours. You and yours did everything they could. -

"I still feel it, sir. They were mine. I trained them." The scout felt old pain, old regret. He shunted it aside. "As for what happened, Captain Janus? I don't know it all. I was in the field when our base was attacked. Orks had infested the nearby mountains, but Captain Boreale insisted they would not be able to strike with enough force to defeat us before we could hit the Chaos stronghold and level it. He was half right. My scouts did what we could, harried the enemy, slowed them long enough for the main force to return. It cost us though."

"It would." Janus said softly. "And then?"

"The massed force of Blood Ravens met the Orks in the middle of a jungle. Our base had been carved out of the rock above it. A place called 'The Lands of Solitude'." Cyrus said quietly. "I was setting up a shot on a Nob, I remember that. Next thing I know, the world turned bright. When I woke up, most of the jungle was gone. Almost the entire area had been devastated by an strike from a weapon we never saw. It was wide spread, but seemed to have been focused on our landing area. It destroyed our Thunderhawks and our sole orbital relay. Some kind of Tau weapon. They had a base on a moon that Boreale discounted as irrelevant." The last word was harsh. "Just like he said we didn't need backup communications."

"He left two intact enemies behind him while he struck at the Chaos fortifications?" Janus asked, dumbfounded. Cyrus nodded savagely. "Did he harry them at all?"

"He didn't feel the need, sir." Cyrus said with a growl. "They were fighting each other. He felt they would keep each other busy while we finished off the traitors." He didn't say any more, but his tone spoke volumes.

"I hate to speak ill of the dead, Sergeant..." Janus said with a grunt. "But that was stupid. Not to mention against the Codex." Tarkus and Thaddeus nodded at that.

"You are not saying anything I didn't, sir." Cyrus said flatly. He took a deep breath and continued. "After the blast... Few of my brothers were capable of fighting at peak after that and we had no way to evacuate with our transports and communications destroyed. We expected the Tau to come. They didn't. Instead, the Guard came."

"The Guard?"Janus asked carefully. He had been briefed on the Blood Raven's less than stellar history with the Imperial Guard. Cyrus nodded. "And they..."

"Killed everyone they found, sir. Wounded, hale, armed, unarmed, apothecaries collecting geneseed, if the Guard saw power armor, they shot at it. Often with heavy artillery. I personally saw a squad call in a missile strike on a single wounded scout." Cyrus said softly. "They tore the Orks apart too, but the greenskins had lost a lot more than we had. I found out later, they did take some prisoners but the Guard killed Captain Boreale and almost all of the other survivors of the Tau bombardment. They encircled the area and blew my brothers' final positions to pieces with long range artillery. It worked." Cyrus said sadly. "Boreale hadn't wanted to dig in. He felt mobility was more important. In end, that is what killed him. Lack of preparation and nowhere to seek cover when the big guns started firing."

"By the Emperor..." Janus inhaled. "You have my condolences on the loss of your brothers, Sergeant. Such is never easy."

"No." Cyrus agreed. "Anyway... I argued with him, but he was in command. Others felt as I did, but we were all Space Marines. We had our orders even if they made little sense to us. 'Borealum' was our inside joke for the fortifications he let us build. Kaurava II..." Cyrus closed his eyes for a moment. "We had to go. It was our duty to face the Ruinous Powers. We were not going to fight the Guard. At least..." He qualified. "I don't think so. Captain Boreale was never open about his plans."

-And he never liked you.- The voice from the dreadnought seemed a little dry.

"I don't care if they like me, sir." Cyrus said a bit more sharply than intended, and then bowed his head. "Apologies, sir. I do my duty. I did as instructed. I trained the scouts as he wished and only as he wished." Hate sang in his tone now.

"Cyrus..." Tarkus said softly. "He is gone. He is dead. You cannot undo what happened. Leave vengeance to the Emperor." The scout took a deep breath and nodded.

"That message had to have come from one group, Captain Thule." Cyrus said softly. "You were there for the debriefing. I was ordered not to speak of it." He shut his mouth.

-Speaking of them can have grave repercussions.- Thule replied. He turned the dreadnoughts sarcophagus to Janos who frowned. -What do you know of the Ordo Malleus, Captain?-

"Inquisition dedicated to fighting the forces of Chaos." Janus replied instantly. "They have access to..." He froze as realization struck. "Them?" He demanded of Cyrus who looked at Thule.

-He cannot answer.- Thule said quietly. -I will. The Blood Ravens have always been under scrutiny. It was not until Kronos that I understood why and I cannot speak of that. The repercussions would be widespread and not limited to our chapter.- Janus nodded slowly. -But on Kronos and on Kaurava, squads of Space Marines of unknown origin came to our aid. Their armor was silver, and they bore weapons that none of us knew. They fought Chaos with the strength of a thousand battle brothers."

"I know of whom you speak." Janus said softly, his tone almost reverent. "I have seen them myself. But yes, we must not bandy that information about. Sergeant? They contacted you?"

"This seems to be their way." Cyrus admitted. "They were very secretive, even for Space Marines."

"I'll say." Tarkus snorted. "I saw them on Kronus and thought to myself that the Dark Angels had nothing on them for sheer 'Not gonna talk. Ever.'"

-What they do and how is not our concern.- Thule reminded the assembly. -Cyrus? What obligation?-

"I..." Cyrus was steeling himself and nodded to the dreadnought. "After the battle, I attempted to exfiltrate the area. I planned to steal a guard shuttle, make my way to the battle barge that way. Send a signal to chapter command. Something. I was caught." Shame sounded. "I walked right into a trap. A rookie mistake and I walked right into it."

"Even Space Marines can be shaken." Janus said reasonably. Cyrus nodded. "The Guard?"

"Worse." Cyrus blew out a deep breath. "The Dark Eldar." At that, every other Marine in the area stiffened. They had all heard stories or seen the remains left by the deranged cousins of the Eldar. "They were scavenging the battlefield and caught me as if I was an initiate myself. Before I knew what was happening, I was disarmed and in a cage. I was not alone."

"Cyrus..." Tarkus breathed in horror, but Thule cut him off.

-Let him speak.- The dreadnought commanded and Tarkus nodded. The scout nodded to both and continued.

"They had taken my weapons and armor, but I was not defenseless." Cyrus said softly. "There were two in the cage with me. A broken, sobbing blinded sister of battle and a brother that I did not know. He never spoke. The first time I caught him awake, he signaled in battle code that he was mortally wounded. He asked me to deliver a message if I managed to escape. I promised I would." He chuckled sourly. "Wasn't much chance of that, but it was all I could do to ease his passing. One night, he handed me a tightly wrapped scroll and then fell back. When I checked him, he was dead."

"A scroll?" Janus asked. "What was on it?"

"I never looked." Cyrus admitted. "I had no sooner hidden the scroll in the remnants of my gear when an explosion sounded nearby and the power failed to my cage. My implants had functioned and I had planned to blow several bars anyway. In the cover of the explosion, I did so. I asked the sister to come, but she never seemed to hear me. I am not proud that I left her there. There were Tau fighting the Dark Eldar and I don't know what happened. I fled."

"Unarmed? Unarmored? Only thing you could do." Janus said firmly and Cyrus smiled a little at him. "And then?"

"I made my way to an Imperial Guard outpost, stole a shuttle and flew to the Battle Barge 'Ravages of Honor' that had brought us to that accursed place. I boarded and contacted Command. They were not happy. The Governor General spun some lies about being attacked in his palace. We didn't but Segmentum Command didn't care. We had been smacked down for Kronus and that as all they cared about. We got what we deserved. May they." Hate sang again in his tone. "If I ever get a shot at that human..."

-Cyrus- Thule's tone was mild, but the scout stiffened anyway. -Let the past stay in the past, Space Marine. We need to deal with the present and the future. The obligation?-

"I sent the message and the scroll where he told me to." Cyrus said softly. "I didn't expect a response, but I got one. They said 'Obligation acknowledged.' I have no idea what the scroll was or why it was so important. Frankly? I don't want to know."

"Probably wise." Janus admitted. "From what little I know of them, they guard a lot of secrets."

"They would not have sent this without a reason, sirs." Cyrus said, thinking hard. "Can we get there in eight days?"

"Barring a freak warp storm? Easily." Janus replied instantly. "Captain Thule?"

-'What is lost can be found' can be taken any number of ways.- The dreadnought replied. -Both of our chapters have lost much over the millennia. Either way, it is not that far out of our way, true?-

"We had no other leads." Janus said with a shrug. "I will order a course change and prepare my company." He nodded to Cyrus." And maybe get you some closure."

"I am never going to get the closure I want, Captain." Cyrus said softly. Janus gave him a look, turned and left. "I need... some time..."

-Go Cyrus.- Thule said softly, his massive hand coming down to barely touch the scout on the arm. -We will make ready.- As Cyrus turned to go, he heard Thaddeus speak.

"Is there any chance of recovering geneseed after all this time?" The assault sergeant asked quietly.

Not Boreale's if I have anything at all to say about it. Cyrus through darkly as the door shut behind him. Then he prayed.

Emperor, for one shot at the Governor General, just one shot...
You deny the Greater Good? I regret that.

YOU will regret the seeker missile that is now homing in on your personal biosignature. Have a nice day.


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Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies

Postby Kalenath » 13 September 2016, 13:05

Moonrise

Mira wasn't sure what was going on. She had slept a great deal, she had no way to tell how long. It was odd though. She wasn't hungry or thirsty. She also didn't need the facilities. Had her captors-? Her thoughts took an abrupt right turn. Whatever the hell they were who had her, they didn't have to be kind. They could have slapped her into a tiny cell or a cage and experimented on her if they had questions. Instead, the room was just that, a room. A medicae facility recovery room if she didn't miss her guess. She had been in her share. At least, she had been in Imperium ones. This room was different. The lack of ornamentation was a telling sign. Any Imperium medicae facility would have signs, warnings, slogans, and/or emblems blazoned everywhere. She sat up slowly and checked all of her extremities. All of her finger sand toes moved when she willed them to and she breathed a sigh of relief.

"Good morning, Mira." A neutral male voice sounded from a hidden speaker and Mira jumped. "I apologize. I did not mean to startle you. How do you feel?"

"I..." Mira clamped her mouth shut and pondered her options for a moment. Insulting her hosts was likely not a good idea. "Good. I feel good. If a bit weak and very confused." She rubbed her bare skull and frowned. She had never really been vain, but her hair had been an indulgence that she had taken pleasure in occasionally. "What happened to me?"

"We found you in a machine that was keeping you alive. It had done several things to you that we have been working to fix." The other had not introduced himself, Mira noted. She did not comment on that. "What it did and why, we are still determining carefully. The Inquisition really like their traps."

"That they do." Mira shivered in memory. "Am I a guest or a prisoner?"

"We prefer guest. We cannot allow you the run of the ship." The other said quietly. "But confining you when you haven't done anything but be hurt and left for us to find seems barbaric."

"Left for you to find?" Mira asked, even more confused. "I was... We were trying to escape. He got free and... I..." She groaned as her head hurt. "I..."

"Easy." The other said quickly. "Don't push it. You had brain damage from what was done to you." Mira hissed in fear and the other spoke in a soothing tone. "We have done what we can. Now? You need to take time to heal." He paused. "From your reactions and what you have not asked, you know we are not human."

"Agatha said as much." Mira said softly. "She did not say who, just that you were not human. So... She works for you?"

"Yes." The other was calm and controlled now. "You do not know us except what your Imperium has taught you. That no non-human can be trusted. Because of that, while I would wish otherwise, I know you cannot trust us. All we ask is that you not try to harm anyone while you are here. We are debating if we can send you to a human world or not. That would be a death sentence if we did so to the wrong place or time."

"I serve the Imperium." Mira was comfortable with that if little else at the moment. "I am a soldier. It is all I know."

"Well, soldier..." The other was gentle. "For now? You cannot fight in your condition without causing more harm to yourself. Will you let us tend you? Agatha is sleeping but she will be happy to help you. It is what she does. She helps humans who come into our circles of influence."

"You are not like any... um... others..." Mira bit back the word 'xenos'. "...I have ever encountered."

"You have dealt with non-humans?" The other sounded interested now.

"Orks." Mira said flatly.

"Oh." The other made noise of such disgust that Mira had to smile. "Yeah. We don't like them either."

"I don't know anyone who does." Mira said with a chuckle that to her surprise wasn't forced. She felt pain start to impact her senses, ignored it. The other was perceptive however.

"You are in pain." The other sounded worried. "Will you let us tend you?"

"Do I have a choice?" Mira asked softly.

"Yes." The other replied. "Agatha fought us for years, both passively and actively. We did not want to let her die. At first, that was because she was a source of information. But then, she became a friend. Her faith is strong and it helped her through her troubles. I do not like seeing sentients in pain, healing others is what I do. We wish to establish at least a basic level of trust, so unless you are about to perish, I will not take choice from you."

"Am I about to perish?" Mira asked.

"No." The other reassured her. "You lost the outer layer of skin from most of your body and there will be complications from that. The main reason you are in isolation now is that we worry about infections. We have garments ready for you, but getting into them will be difficult for you. Agatha will help, but she will sleep for another half shift. Do you want to wait for her?"

Mira thought about that and then shook her head. "No. I need... I want to know what is happening. What happened to me and why."

"Very well." The other sounded reassured. "I will send a nurse in along with a drone. They will help you into the garment. It will not be easy getting into it and you will have pain even when wearing it. But it will protect your skin while it heals, notify medical support if you have any difficulties and allow you to be mobile."

Mira nodded and sat back, keeping her face calm as the door opened and a form stepped in. The non-human was humanoid but she had blue skin and large eyes. She had a large Y shaped groove in her forehead. She wore a set of green robes and had an odd headpiece that jutted up from where the rught ear would be on a human at an angle. She nodded to Mira as a disk shaped thing with menacing looking machinery hung underneath it hovered in behind her.

"Mira?" The non-human said softly. "I am Por'El Salierra. I am acting as a nurse. I am here to help. I will do my best not to hurt you."

"Let's just get this done." Mira fought to stay relaxed as the hovering thing eased closer to her. The nurse nodded and stepped close.

***

It hurt a lot.

The machine had projected a field that had lifted Mira right off the bed. The nurse had been gentle removing the thin gown that Mira wore, but it still hurt. Then it had gotten bad. Mira had found herself crying as the nurse had held her more than once. Salierra had never spoken sharply to her even when Mira cursed and tried hard not to struggle. Getting her fingers covered had been particularly harsh. Despite the first thing put on being a sprayed on white substance that had soothed her skin and cushioned the rest, even then, every movement had brought more pain. Finally, Mira lay back on her bed, panting from the exertions. She stared down at the grey body suit that covered her from the neck to her toes. Tech that she could not identify flashed from parts of it, but her pain was fading.

"Last piece." If Salierra had been human, Mira would say she was fighting tears. The blue skinned alien held up a small thing and Mira eyed it. "This will cover your head except for your face and I can have hair made for you. It will not act as real hair, but it will look better than bare skin." Mira had never heard such a note of kindness in an alien voice before. She hadn't thought such a thing could exist. Mira tried to reach for the thing Salierra held, but her hand shook very badly..

"Wha-?" Mira swallowed hard as Salierra took hold of her hand.

"You have pushed yourself past your limits, Mira." The nurse said softly, laying Mira's hand down beside her. "You need rest. I will put this on while you sleep." She smiled a little sadly. "Do you want hair? We can replicate some artificial substitute for you until your natural hair grows out again."

"I... I don't know." Mira felt dizziness sweep through her, followed by a lethargy. "What is happening to me?"

"Your body is reacting to the sudden lack of pain." The nurse patted her hand gently. "You really need to sleep now, Mira. Rest, human. When you wake, you will be hungry, thirsty and need gentle exercise to loosen up your muscles. But for now? Just let your body heal. You are in no danger here." Her voice was so soft, so calming that Mira felt her eyes slowly close. "That is it, Mira. That is it. Good night."

"Good night." Mira mumbled and then was asleep.

***

Salierrra finished her work and rose. She stretched stiff muscles and nodded to the drone. It would stay where it was until Mira was awake and out of any possible danger. She strode to the door and did not stop until she as in the middle of the decontamination room. It sealed and she closed her eyes as the spray of energy washed over her. The cycle wasn't long at all and she had a lot to think about. When she stepped out, she was not surprised to find the Shas'Vre in charge of the military forces with the Fio'El who ran the medicae facility. The Fire Warrior nodded to her.

"That is one tough Gue'la." Salierra said sadly as she moved to where a glass of water had been set of her. The Earth Caste medic nodded but did not speak. "Shas'Vre, she wasn't lying."

"I defer to your experience on that, Por'El Salierra." The soldier said quietly. "As always, your methods are less brutal than mine." He smiled a little. "And this time, no harm done."

"I don't like lying to her." Salierra said with a frown. She wasn't a nurse. She was one of the head diplomats assigned to the mission in case they needed diplomacy. Her skills in gaining information rivaled any interrogator, but her methods were very gentle."We needed to know. She truly does not know what happened. She had no way of resisting the subharmonics while in such pain and she will not remember answering the questions I posed. She never even heard them or her responses. It is irrational, but I feel soiled by this. Her pain was so much and she fought it so hard. I used that to probe her memory and I..." She sighed. "It was needed. The Greater Good must be served. But I do not think she will forgive me when she discovers what I did. When she wakes, I will explain."

The female Tau trembled a little in reaction. Her empathy was a powerful weapon. The problem with such a powerful weapon was that it cut both ways. She cared. She really and truly cared for people, both hers and others. That was a weakness at times, one reason she had never risen any higher in rank. Another was that she was happy doing what she did. Most of the time.

"You need to rest." The Earth Caste medic said softly. "She will sleep for a shift, perhaps more. Your note about her hair was well taken. We can fabricate a covering for her in her original hair color. We have samples from her follicles."

"Females of almost any sentient race put stock in their appearance. I know I need to rest." Salierra smiled but it was a trifle melancholy. "Keep me informed. I think I like this human. Lost, alone and in pain, she still managed to remain civil. That is rare." She nodded when both looked at her. "Yes. I recommend beginning a preliminary Indoctrination. We could certainly use someone like her."

"If she decides we are trapping her, it will not end well." The Fio'El said delicately. Salierra nodded her face grave.

"So, we do not." The diplomat said firmly. "We show her the truth and let her judge for herself. But we must beware. As Agatha said, her faith has been shaken. We must not shake her further or it can do permanent damage. We meter out the truth in doses she can handle. Under no circumstances do we lie to her again. She will find out and any chance for trust will be gone. We keep her pain under control, keep her calm and try to find something for her to do." She paused as the Shas'vre looked worried. "Nothing sensitive. Maybe helping Agatha?"

"Agatha will be busy." The Fire Warrior said with a grunt. "The guards here did not put up much of a fight. So we have thirty seven more mouths to feed and guard."

"Were there any of their political officers?" Salierra asked. "There had to be one for that many troops."

"He did not survive the assault." The Shas'Vre said with a frown. "He was not killed by our weapons." Both of the others winced at that. "We have the female who was with him sequestered from the others."

"Typical." Salierra groaned. "These Gue'la are so infuriating sometimes. Some are like Mira, tough and fair minded. Others are brutal and barbaric enough to give even Orks pause. Some are simply impossible to fathom. Telling them apart can be next to impossible at first glance." She heaved a sigh. "I will make ready for the interrogations."

"After you rest." The Fio'El said sharply. "The prisoners are going nowhere and none are in danger of dying. You are exhausted, Por'El."

"I..." Salierra looked at the Fire Warrior but he just shrugged. "Pushy medic."

"We all serve the Greater Good, Por'El Salierra." The medic smiled as she nodded. "Pushing yourself into a collapse will not help anyone. Don't make me order you sedated." Salierra just groaned again and he shook his head. "Por'El, please."

""I will rest, Fio'El." The diplomat said formally. "I will be ready to begin the interrogations in a shift, Shas'Vre. It that satisfactory?" She asked the medic who nodded.

"We will have as much basic information as can be garnered from their belongings and surroundings as possible for you, Por'El." The soldier promised. "But my instincts are telling me this was not a popular posting. The humans are not the best that I have seen of the Imperial Guard."

"We will work with what we are given." Salierra replied and then set the glass down and started for the door only to pause as a medical drone hovered after her. She turned to the medic who met her gaze impassively. "Do not even think it."

"You are going to your assigned quarters and your are going to sleep." The Fio'El said in a tone that matched the Shas'Vre's for iron. Then again, in his field his word was law. "I know you, Por'El Salierra. You will find an excuse to keep going long past the time you should." Salierra stiffened and then slumped.

"There is so much to do and so few hands." The Water Caste female said weakly. "I will not shirk my duty."

"You are not." The Shas'Vre replied before the medic could. "We all have different skills. I cannot do what you can. You cannot do what I can. I could have produced answers from this human Mira, but we couldn't trust mine." He smiled at Salierra who nodded. "Nothing will happen in a shift, Por'El. Get some rest."

"Shas'Vre, Fio'el." Salierra turned and left the medicae facility without another word, ignoring the drone that followed her.

The ship that had been their home for so long felt empty now with so many out and about, working to refurbish the dilapidated moon base. The humans of course, had destroyed all of the tech they could find and access. They had slapped their crude iconography everywhere and basically ignored most of the place.

Salierra paused at a window and stared out across the grey expanse. So much death had happened in this place, so many lives lost and for what? It was too far from the Empire. The Ethereals wouldn't have been able to hold it. The Ethereals' expedition had been sent ostensibly to study the warpstorm, since such were rare and almost impossible to study safely. But Salierra knew better. They wanted everything they saw. Their grasping matched any human she had ever encountered for sheer greed on occasion. Oh, they masked it better. The Greater Good was not a euphemism for so many. But she and her colleagues in the Water Caste who called the Enclaves home had seen the truth. Farsight's truth.

The drone beeped at her and she scowled at it before turning and moving towards her quarters. The door opened for her and she smiled as she saw the spacious area -sinfully so on a spacecraft- spread out before her. She sank down onto a cushion and let her emotions loose. Tears started falling that she wouldn't have let any see. She had to be strong, for herself, for her colleagues, for the Greater Good. But it hurt. It hurt so much sometimes. Helping Mira was a good thing, balanced on so many bad that she had chosen as necessary for the accomplishment of her missions. She was Tau. She served the Greater Good and-

She gasped as something went hiss behind her and then she was falling. But cold arms caught her and lowered her to the cushion as consciousness fled.

That sneaky medic had the drone gas me!

But... why were the arms... wrong?
Last edited by Kalenath on 22 September 2016, 00:36, edited 1 time in total.
You deny the Greater Good? I regret that.

YOU will regret the seeker missile that is now homing in on your personal biosignature. Have a nice day.


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Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies

Postby Kalenath » 14 September 2016, 09:55

Levels of Good

"What?"

It wasn't very often that Shas'Vre Vior'la Oxa'are felt as if the whole world had come crashing down around him. He knew the feeling from his Trials by Fire, the tests by which a Fire Warrior proved he was capable of assuming the burdens of higher rank. Each test was as unique as each Fire Warrior was. The warrior who called himself Vior'la Oxa'are had faced the tests three times, succeeding each time. Each had been brutal in the extreme. One did not rise in the ranks of the Fire Warriors through family connections or political power. Especially in the Farsight Enclaves.

"The drone was disabled!" Fio'El Ke'lshan Torom repeated from his station. "Por'El Salierra is not in her quarters! Instituting a full ship scan."

"Alert! All Fire Warriors to alert!" Shas'Vre Vior'la Oxa'are snapped into his com, alarms instantly starting to blare. "We have an intruder! Por'El Salierra is missing. Find her!" He strode to a multipurpose console set in the wall nearby that wasn't in use an keyed his codes in. A schematic of the huge Explorer class ship appeared, showing each deck as a different color. He shook his head and his words went to the medic alone. "Most of the teams are out working on the base. Whoever this is, they picked a good time."

The sounds of running feet thrummed through the deck.

"How did they get aboard?" The Fio'El demanded even as he secured his own area with drones and his few personnel. A glance at Mira's monitor showed the human woman sleeping. One less thing to worry about. Then he snarled half heartedly as a door opened and Agatha staggered in. Her hair was a mess and her garments looked hastily thrown on, but her face was serene. "Agatha."

"You may need me." The blind sister made her way by touch to a wall where a seat unfolded for her. "What happened?"

"Por'El Salierra interviewed our guest." The Fio'El said delicately. Agatha did not react and he sighed. "Agatha, we needed to know."

"Mira will not react well to that." Agatha said flatly. "And then? Mira didn't cause this. Not in the condition she was in." She tapped controls with the skill of long practice and then pulled a headset out of the wall, sliding it over her head. It would relay audio cues to her so she wouldn't miss anything in conversation. She was listening to a summary and her face fell as she heard what Mira had said. "Poor girl."

"The Por'El agreed." Shas'Vre Vior'la Oxa'are replied without emotion. "Personally? I can see her point, but my duty is to the mission, ship and crew. We need to find her."

"The Por'El or Mira?" Agatha asked.

"Mira is sleeping. We got the garments on her but that exhausted her." The Fio'El said quietly. "Por'El Salierra was exhausted as well and went to her quarters to rest. The drone I sent with her was disabled."

"You sure she didn't do it?" Agatha asked with a tight smile. "She doesn't like being spied on." She knew and liked the Por'El. They shared a similar sense of humor.

"It wasn't her." The Fio'El replied. "I cannot scan her anywhere on the ship. I should be able to pick up her transponder anywhere within two kilometers of the ship. Either she is further than that away or she is being shielded somehow."

"Shielded." The Shas'Vre said firmly. "There is no other way for someone to get onto the ship. So, either she is here and we will find her, or she is close."

"Why take her?" Agatha asked after a moment. "I mean, she is important, no question. But as a hostage, she is virtually useless. She will not allow herself to be used for such." Fear for her friend sang in her tone and was tamped down.

"Would humans take her? We may have missed one." The Shas'Vre asked Agatha who thought about that.

"Possible." Agatha admitted. "But if so, I don't see why. Whoever did it was obviously skilled to get aboard without being detected. But why her?" She repeated and then froze. "Someone... who would know she is a diplomat." It wasn't quite a question.

"What?" Both the medic and the soldier glanced at each other and then at Agatha.

"Who would know what she is?" Agatha pressed. "No offense, but to most humans, all Tau look the same."

"None taken." The Shas'Vre said mildly. "I find most human look the same to me. What are you saying, Agatha?"

"Who would recognize the Por'El for what she is? One of the highest ranked diplomats on this expedition?" Agatha said slowly. "Is it possible that one of your people survived here?"

"I..." For once, the Shas'Vre was stuck completely speechless. "Fio'El?"

"I wouldn't think so." The medic sounded dazed and who could blame him? "It has been almost ten human years. The ones who came here were all adults, at the least in their second decade. To hide for so long?"

"They did not bring children with them, did they?" Agatha asked.

"Not into a war zone." The Shas'Vre replied instantly. "Much as I dislike the Ethereals' methods, they are not universally altogether evil. It would be inefficient for another thing."

"What if..." The Fio'El was staring off into space. "I know of two cases where families began in warzones." He shook his head. "No, they would have sent any offspring away as dangerous as this place was."

"But they didn't think it was that dangerous." Agatha said softly and the others looked at each other and then at her. "Did they?"

"Travel here and back was very difficult." The Shas'Vre was nodding slowly. "Oh dear."

"That is speculation. We should stick to the facts.." Agatha said softly. "What we know is that the Por'El is missing and someone disabled the drone. That says 'Tau' to me. That means is it highly unlike that whoever it was will hurt her."

"That is assumption." The Shas'Vre word was grudging, but he wasn't dismissing her opinion out of hand either. "But certainly plausible. No matter what, we cannot track her."

"You can't." Agatha said soft as she rose. "Fio'El, please ask Shaper Jarl to meet me at the Por'El's quarters." Both the soldier and the medic inhaled at that. She was asking for Kroot?

"Agatha." The medic's voice was flat. "Don't even think it. You are not a warrior anymore."

"I don't need to be for this, Fio'El." Agatha smiled widely.

"All I need is a nose."

***

"You look tired, human Agatha." The words were hissed, but completely understandable as Agatha followed her memorized path to the Por'El's quarters.

"I feel like regurgitated monkey brains but I am needed, so I am moving." Agatha replied and the other laughed. He made her very nervous, but he was never less than polite to her.

"I would say you look almost inedible." The Shaper replied. Agatha smiled. He wouldn't come out and say it, but his words were a rare admission that he was worried about her. "Why call me?" He asked.

A valid question. The Kroot were not her favorite members of the Farsight Enclaves. It wasn't anything they did in her presence, it was what they were and what they did in battle. Beings who considered sentients food had always made humans nervous. Likely always would.

"You have the best nose for scent I know." Agatha said simply. "Mine is far more sensitive than a normal human's, but that is not saying much."

"You think we can track whoever took the Por'El by scent?" The Shaper asked carefully. "She is careful to remain odor neutral." It was appreciated by a lot of races with sharp noises, the Kroot were only one such.

"Yes." Agatha stopped at the door, aware from the sounds that the pair of Fire Warriors that the Shas'Vre had assigned to her had stayed back a little ways. Not surprising. The Tau tolerated the Kroot as very useful additions to their battle forces, but they too were nervous about them on occasion. "All we have now are assumptions. The few facts we have are these: The Por'El was here. The drone supervising her was disabled. She is no longer here."

"Who dared sic a drone on the Por'El?" The Shaper asked with a laugh. "She cannot have taken that well."

"I doubt she did." Agatha had to smile at the carnivore's humor. He always managed to put her at ease despite knowing that he was essentially the head chef of his small tribe and she could wind up on the dinner plate. "Thing is, if I or one of your people had been detected in the wrong place, alarms would have sounded. The Por'El's quarters are off limits without her permission, the Fio'El's or the Shas'Vre's. Which I have." She qualified quickly.

"Good point." The Shaper mused. "You think a Tau did this?" He could not quite keep the disbelief from his voice.

"The Shas'Vre and Fio'El think whoever took the Por'El was shielded from scan somehow." Agatha replied. "But I have yet to see a shield that can work on scent."

"There are such things." Jarl said quietly. "But they are fairly noticeable. Even on a Tau ship, if someone is walking around with a dead animal, smearing it's blood everywhere, someone will notice. Eventually." The derision in his words cut deep. Agatha raised a hand as murmurs of anger came from the Fire Warriors.

"He speaks the truth." The blind sister said calmly. "Your people as a whole are far too trusting. Will you help us, Jarl?" She asked.

"I like the Por'El. Her kind are far too rare." The Kroot said calmly. She felt a scaled hand take hers. "She appreciates a good joke."

"Let's get her back."

***

Salierra roused, aware of oddities. She was not in her quarters. She remembered the feeling of a gas knocking her out, her assumption that the Fio'El had sedated her and then odd arms that had eased her to the floor. She opened her eyes and everything was dark.

"Cover eyes." The words were in no language that Salierra knew but translated into her mother tongue. She prided herself on knowing at least something of almost every language that existed in her area of operation. But this... It wasn't so much a language as it was the clicks and- She froze and did as instructed as realization dawned. Light blossomed around her and clicking intensified. "No harm."

She cracked her eyes and saw bright light through her fingers. She blinked quickly to adjust her vision and saw what she expected. A Vespid was perched nearby. She glanced around and froze. The 'room' was a cave and it seemed filled with Vespid. At least a dozen of the insectoid forms stood or perched around the room. Some of them were armed with the neutron blasters that the Ethereals had given them, others with makeshift spears, bows and arrows. From the look of the rock walls, she was still on Nan Yanoi, the moon that had served the Tau as their base in Kaurava. All of the insectoid forms wore torso armor that was in the colors of the expeditionary force that had come here and died.

"Tau." The Vespid bowed to her and she managed a nod even as her head swam. Something swung with her head and when she touched it, she felt chitin. The words were coming to her ears from that thing, not from him. "Apologize for discourtesy. Needed communication. No other way."

"You have been here since the moon base fell." Salierra said softly. The Vespid made a motion that was obviously meant to be a nod. "Why? Why not leave with the others?"

"Duty." The Vespid -this had to be the spokesbeing of the swam, a Strain Leader- was calm. Salierra wracked her mind, trying to recall everything she had learned about the Vespid. It wasn't much.

"Duty?" Salierra sat up. None of the watching Vespid reacted and she folded herself into a neat position that would allow her comfort as well as freedom of motion if needed. Not that she had any chance in a fight against a cave full of Vespid. "What duty? To who?"

"Shas'O Or'Es'Ka order. We obey." The Vespid replied, rising. She stared behind him at...the wall of small stasis tubes that had been shielded from her sight. They were Tau in design, but far too small for adults.

"Oh my god!" Salierra said weakly. "They had... children here?" The Vespid nodded to her. "But... I..."

"Tau come back. Tau take young." The Vespid said firmly as it rose. All of the others did as well. "Duty done."

"Wait." Salierra felt fear rise, but she hadn't any idea why or how. "Wait! What will you do now?"

"Duty done." The Vespid's voice sounded tired now. "Time." He started for a door that she blanched when she realized it was marked 'Airlock'. All of the others followed him! Some lay down their weapons, but none slowed.

"No!" Salierra screamed, rising and running to try and block the way. Silly that, each of the Vespid took wing and flew around her. "No! Please! You have lived so long! Here? We can help you people!" Tears started falling as she realized she couldn't stop them. The Vespid leader landed in front of her.

"You like Shas'O Or'es'ka, not like others. He call us 'friend'. You call us 'people', not 'thing', 'bug', 'monster'." The Vespid touched her arm gently. "You follow Ethereal?"

"No." Salierra was too spent to equivocate.

"That good." The Vespid said softly. "Live long. See much. Do much. We go now. No bring disorder swarm. No good."

"You stayed here, protected these children for all this time and now you will just... die?" Salierra begged, reaching for the Vespid who shifted back effortlessly. "No. Please."

"You good." The Vespid said quietly. "We evil. We go. No place strain Greater Good."

"Yes, there is!" Salierra begged. "Maybe not the Ethereals', but Farsight's? Please?"

"You serve O'shavah?" The Vespid looked at her with its odd faceted eyes and she nodded. "That good."

"Most of the time." Salierra was crying hard as the Vespid reached out to take her arm.

"No cry, Tau." The Vespid sounded kind now. "Is way. Life, death, rebirth, new life. Nothing last forever. Not even Vespid dishonor."

"How can it be dishonorable to save the lives of children?" Salierra demanded. Instead of answering, the Vespid spun her to look at where she had woken. The nest was... She gagged as she realized she had lain on bones. Dozens, hundreds of bones. Human, Ork, Eldar. She saw other bones she didn't know. "Wha-?"

"Duty." The Vespid replied calmly. "Protect Tau offspring. We stay. We do. We kill for selves. Not for Greater Good. We evil."

"No." Salierra said quickly. "No, you are not! You were given a command and you obeyed it. No more."

"We serve no more." The Vespid said firmly and then spoke more carefully. "We would die soon regardless. Now? We die free of obligation. Do not grieve for us, Tau. We serve the Greater Good. You Vespid friend. We remember."

Salierra was crying as the Vespid released her arm and moved toward the door Each Vespid stepped up to her touched her arm and then retreated, moving to stand by the door. The airlock opened and most of the Vespid filed in even as Salierra begged them incoherently to stay. One paused, reached back and touched her gently. It looked from her to the strain leader who buzzed something. It buzzed back.

"Tau. Turn to side." The strain leader said softly. Salierra was too overcome to do so and the Vespid by her took hold of her arms and gently turned her, then reached out with a careful claw to raise her tear streaming head. "Look." Salierra stared at...eggs. At least a dozen large eggs that looked oddly slick in the bright light sat in another stasis pod. Vespid eggs. But... how? She spun to stare at the Vespid who she could swear was smug. "We free of Ethereals. Young have chance. Tau and Vespid."

Salierra slowly reached out to the Vespid who had touched her and hugged the insect carefully. It buzzed in her ear and she could swear it was soothing her. She sank to her knees right there, the other holding her arm, helping her down. It stood back up and then touched her skull. Something fell away into its hand. It bowed to her and then moved to the airlock where the others waited.

Salierra could do nothing but stare at the airlock through her tears as it closed. She was still sitting there, crying, when shouts came to her ears.

"Here!" A familiar voice sounded and she was suddenly surrounded by bodies. "She is here! Call the medics!"

"Salierra?" Agatha's taut voice pulled at the distraught diplomat, but she couldn't move or articulate. "Jarl?" She pleaded as the diplomat felt human hands on her arms and the human hugged her tight.

"She is unharmed physically." What was the Shaper doing here? Of all the people Salierra might have expected to rescue her, the Kroot was not on the list. "Por'El? What happened?"

"A miracle." Salierra waved to the wall with the stasis pods. Jarl hissed in incredulity. Agatha just held her.

"What do you see, Jarl?" Agatha asked.

"Thirty Tau pods of some kind I am not familiar with." The Kroot said, confusion reigning. "Por'El? What are these? Who brought you here? I do not recognize the smell. That is how we tracked you."

"Those are stasis pods." Salierra said weakly. She felt Agatha suddenly stiffen. "Children. They had children here and they left a guard force to protect the kids."

"I do not see or smell any guards." Jarl sounded tense and Salierra understood. She understood the Kroot quite well after long talks with him and others.

"They are gone." The diplomat sobbed into Agatha's shoulder. "They said their duty was done. They said they were evil, that there was no place for them in our Greater Good. I tried. I tried to convince them. They wouldn't listen."

"But where did they go?" Jarl demanded and then his voice choked off. When he spoke again, it was tight and strained. "Por'El Salierra...the only other exit from this room..."

"IS AN AIRLOCK!" The diplomat screamed, cutting him off. "I know. All I could do was watch." For a long moment, there was utter silence in the room. "They were Vespid, from before. Oreska's private guards. He ordered them to protect the children. They did. I don't know how many they killed to protect the children. But they did." She slumped, spent. "They did."

"Oh, Salierra." Agatha was crying now too even though she had no tear ducts. She sang a prayer softly and hugged Salierra again. "We will get you home and taken care of. We will get the kids to safety and then see what has to be done."

"Don't look at me." Jarl warned even as bustle sounded in the close distance. "You do not want someone like me around a bunch of immature Tau. They might inherit my table manners."

Salierra couldn't help it. She laughed. The pain and tension she had been carrying faded and she relaxed for the first time since waking. But of course, Agatha couldn't just let the Kroot have the last word.

"Oh, I don't know." Agatha had a grin in her voice. "We could probably use some extra hands when it comes time to change the babies. Nevermind the smell. You are a big tough warrior. You can take it."

The sound of utter horror from the Kroot had Salierra smiling even as the medics came close and took charge.
You deny the Greater Good? I regret that.

YOU will regret the seeker missile that is now homing in on your personal biosignature. Have a nice day.


:P

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Kalenath
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Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies

Postby Kalenath » 15 September 2016, 09:55

Imperial Diplomacy
(at almost exactly the same time)

The greeting party was unwelcome but completely expected. Inquisitors made people nervous. It was part and parcel to who and what they were and often made their work of ferreting out secrets easier. If Thrax had wanted to sneak in, avoid Imperial attention, he could have easily. He didn't. What he wanted in this system was only accessible through the Governor General. Kaurava IV had been quarantined so thoroughly that even Thrax's heavily stealthed ship wouldn't have been able to get past the sensors and weapon platforms without being blown to pieces. So, he decided to pay a visit to Kaurava I and the Governor. As always, he was prepared for trouble, Inquisitors never knew where or when enemies would pop up. But he wasn't overly worried about that. He wasn't alone.

As soon as he stepped onto the ramp of his ship, Thrax picked out the form of the Governor General among the babbling throng. But it wasn't until his companion stepped out of the ship that everyone suddenly fell silent. Few Inquisitors had the sheer physical presence of an Adeptas Asartes. Then again, this Space Marine had his helmet on, was fully armed with boltgun, bolt pistol and chainsword. Few would notice the other weapon slung across his back as well. The fact that he did not seem hostile was little comfort. In this case though, it wasn't the armor or weapons that silenced everyone. It was the heraldry on said armor. And the fact that his Godwyn pattern boltgun was in hand and ready.

"Inquisitor." The Governor General sounded calm, but his eyes were flashing. "Your visit is unexpected."

"It is a poor excuse for an Inquisitor who is expected to show up when and where others wish." Thrax nodded as he stepped towards the man. Several guards moved to ready their weapons and Thrax paused. "I cannot recommend that anyone shoot at the Commander here. It would be a very bad idea. Probably a terminal one."

"You bring a Blood Raven here?" The Governor General said flatly. "Do you know what they did?"

"Oh? What did they do to incite such... hostility in your men?" Thrax inquired idly. "From what I understand, they destroyed a force of Chaos Space Marines and then you killed half their chapter here." The Governor General paused in whatever he was going to say and the Inquisitor forged ahead. "After of course, the Tau did most of the work for you. Very efficient, I have to say." He shook his head, ignoring the hostile looked that many were sending his way. "I am honestly curious. Did anyone from Segmentum Command even bother to check your report? Or did they just file it under 'forget'?" His smile might have given a shark goosebumps.

"My report was perfectly clear." The Governor General replied without a touch of heat. His eyes were cold though.

"Oh yes." Thrax admitted. "You were attacked. You responded. Simple. Funny thing though, you didn't list any casualties in that 'attack' on your palace." His eyes were cold pits of darkness. "Odd that Adeptas Asartes, who specialize in decapitation strikes, failed to kill a single one of your men in trying to kill you." He shook his head. "The Commander and I are not here to revisit old choices. We need to get to Kaurava IV. I need to get your permission to do that, hence why I am here. The only reason I am here."

"And if I refuse your permission?" The Governor General asked, to all appearances openly curious. Until you looked at his eyes.

"Well, maintaining the quarantine is your responsibility." Thrax replied. "I am sure the Guard will do so much better this time that the last time at stopping the Ruinous Powers in their tracks."

It was totally deadpan, but it was a zinger. No one knew for sure what had brought the Warp Storm to Kaurava and all of the associated powers that fought over the four worlds but historically speaking, it was almost always a human doing something stupid with the Warp that caused such and the humans on Kaurava IV had almost all been Guard. By the time the dust had settled, thousands of enemies, including Chaos Space Marines, Dark Eldar, Eldar, Orks, Adeptas Sororitas, Adeptas Asartes and Tau had fallen. The Guard's casualties had been close to a million. The damage was still being repaired. The Guard had lost almost three quarters of its fighting forces in the initial Chaos onslaught. It was a miracle to some that they had managed to recover so quickly and retake the system from so many disparate forces. Many in the Inquisition suspected worse things, but that was their job.

"We maintain the quarantine." The Governor General actually growled. "On the Inquisition's orders."

"And I am sure you are managing that as well as you managed the moon base of Kaurava II." The apparent non-sequitor had the Governor pausing and Thrax shook his head. "Or did you not know that a force of Tau just reclaimed that?" His tone was not -quite- snide.

"What?" The Governor General actually blanched. He spun to a uniformed subordinate and snarled at the man. "Contact the base. Now!" The man nodded jerkily and ran to a comconsole set against one pillar. "You had better not be playing with me, Inquisitor."

"Governor General..." Thrax heaved a sigh. "I have far larger concerns than your ambitions. I don't care if you picked a fight with a chapter of Adeptas Asartes. I think it is stupid in the extreme. But hey, it was your choice. The Commander and I have business on Kaurava IV and that does not concern you. If you deny my permission, that is your right. If so, I will take my request to Segmentum Command."

Unsaid was that if he did so, Segmentum Command might just take a close, hard look at the goings on in Kaurava again. Inquisitors or other agents of the Imperium might descend in droves to seek out anything and everything out of the ordinary they could find. To say it would be messy would be an understatement.

"And if I refuse to let you leave?" The Governor General froze as a click sounded. A boltgun being taken off safe. Every eye turned to the Blood Raven who was aiming at the Governor General now.

"That would make a hell of a mess." Thrax didn't flinch as several of the Governor's guards readied their own weapons. "If anyone fires, this will end badly for you, Governor General. You and most of your retinue will die here. Your Rosarius might stop his bolts, but it won't stop the bolts in this." His hand came up with an oddly shaped weapon. A bolt pistol that had a crossbow attached to the top, one designed to cut through any defenses.

"Governor General, Sir!" The officer at the com called. "Moon base is not responding. Long range detection picks up unknown power sources."

"Emperor!" The Governor General said with a growled epithet. "Stand down!" He commanded. The guard hesitated and he put his hand on his holster. "I said stand down. We have Tau to kill. Commissar Brenn!"

"Yes, Governor General." The sinister form of a commissar stepped from a shadow nearby. He had an ornate laspistol in hand. "Orders?"

"Ready the men." The human in charge of the Kaurava system said flatly. "We are going to Kaurava II." He spun back to Thrax and the Blood Raven. "You are coming."

"Am I?" Thrax, to all appearances looked bored.

"You want to go to Kaurava IV? Fine. I will take you after we deal with this." The human paused as the Inquisitor shook his head. "It wasn't a request, Inquisitor."

"You seem to forget that I am not under your command, Governor General." Thrax's voice was soft, dangerous. He opened his mouth again only to pause as light flashed around him. He sighed even as the Blood Raven spun, aimed and fired in one sinuous motion. "That was dumb. Of course I am shielded from lasgun fire."

The rapid crak-crak-crak of the Blood Raven's boltgun split the hangar and a scream sounded in the distance. One that cut off suddenly.

"No!" The Governor General bellowed as his men took aim and the Blood Raven spun to aim at him again. "Blood Raven, stand down! That was not at my orders!"

"You do not command me." The massive armored form said flatly. He did pause as Thrax raised a hand. "Inquisitor?"

"We came here to see the residue of the Warp on Kaurava IV first hand. We came to conduct an experiment that should have no repercussions at all beyond the planet. That is why we came here, because of the strict quarantine." Thrax said with another sigh. "We have neither the time nor the inclination to cater to your whims, Governor General. Tell us to leave and we will. Try to kill us and this will get very bad, very quickly." He shook his head. "If you do manage to kill us, I am sure there are many within the Imperium and without who would applaud you, just as they applauded you when you killed the Order of the Sacred Rose and the Blood Ravens." At that, the whole hangar was suddenly still. "But this time, there will be other people questioning. Not just Astra Militarum who you can bribe, coerce or blackmail." The silence before had been complete. Now it was deafening. "Gabriel Angelos now leads the Blood Ravens. I think you know his reputation."

Understatement. Few who knew of the Blood Ravens did not know the name Gabriel Angelos. A more staunch defender of the Imperium was hard to find. But also, someone who did not take wrongs done to himself and his chapter lightly. If he had been here instead of Indrick Boreale, things might have been very different. At the very least, the Guard wouldn't have had it nearly so easy.

"We beat the Blood Ravens before." One of the uniformed flunkies behind the Governor General said firmly. "We can do it again!"

"You?" The Blood Raven standing there did not bother to hide his derision. "Really?" He didn't bother to shift his aim from the Governor General.

"You cannot talk to me-" Whatever else the flunky was going to say as he clawed for his holster was cut off as the Governor General spun and backhanded him.

"Shut up, Colonel." The human in charge of the Kaurava System said in a cold voice and the man froze, his hand halfway to his mouth were blood fell from a broken lip. "You were not there. I was. We had numbers, we had firepower, we had surprise and it still cost us. I made the choice I did. I have no regrets about it." He said to the Space Marine with no fear.

"Good for you." The Blood Raven relaxed just a little. His boltgun tracked away from the Governor General but no one else relaxed. He had not put its safety on. "You know what you owe. Sooner or later the debt will be called in, one way or another. By my chapter or others, it matters not. I will not be calling in the debt unless you choose for me to. I am bound to another cause. Be glad."

"Sir!" The officer at the com called. "Detection reports new contacts! Chaos Raiders!"

"Heading for Kaurava IV?" Thrax demanded. The Governor General looked at him and the Inquisitor snarled. "They may seek what we do. Governor General, we must go to Kaurava IV before the day is out. There is a rare conjunction in the Warp that will focus there. The experiment I wish to try is to seal a known rift in the Warp there. If they open it..." The Governor General blanched and nodded.

"Then we have a Chaos incursion on top of the Tau one." The Governor General said with a growl. "Right... Inquisitor, head to Kaurava IV. You are cleared through the quarantine. I will send the fleet to buy you what time we can and provide fire support if needed. The Tau can wait. The big gun there was disabled."

"Let's hope it stays that way." Thrax said with a growl of his own as he turned to go back into his ship. "Commander." He said quietly when the Blood Raven did not move.

The Blood Raven and human Governor General locked eyes for a long moment. Then the Governor General nodded once. He turned and left, his retinue following him as he started to bark orders.

"What was that about?" Thrax asked as they entered the ship.

"A promise to a comrade. He is not for me to kill."

***

It was an age old conflict that was being acted out for the millionth time at least. The forces of Chaos had always striven to undermine and destroy the Imperium of Man. They had come very close ten thousand years previous with the corruption of Horus and the ignition of the Horus Heresy. The Emperor had been mortally wounded, kept alive only by the arcane workings of his Golden Throne and the daily sacrifice of thousands of psykers. Time and time again since, the Imperium had been beset by Chaos. So many times, it had nearly fallen. It would have but for the heroes who protected it.

Chaos raiders were fast and powerful with extremely long range weapons. The Imperial Navy forces opposing them were not as fast, but heavily armored and armed. In many ways, it was a classic running engagement. However, the Imperial forces were between where the Chaos ships were and where they wanted to go, so despite the vastness of space, the Chaos ships had to through them. That suited the Imperials just fine.

It began as it always did. Four Chaos cruisers with over a dozen escorts ran towards the massed Imperial fleet surrounding Kaurava IV that was shaking itself into from stillness to battle readiness. The flagship, a modern Overlord Class battlecruiser called Lance of Terra was the first Imperial ship to start moving, her crew stoked to a frenzy by the Governor General's commands. She was followed by the Gothic class cruiser Inferno Exuberant, two Lunar cruisers, Decision Courageous and Doom Of Flame. The Stone of Sabre, an ancient Grand Cruiser that really should have been decommissioned and scrapped centuries before was slow to get going, but lit her drive to full to catch up even as shoals of escorts moved out and around. Dauntless class light cruisers, Cobra, Widowmaker and Firestorm escorts all flew at their ancient enemies. Such a mismatch should have spelled certain victory for the Imperials. But then, things changed as more ships appeared just behind the Chaos cruisers, jumping out of the warp far too close to the gravity wells for safety. Then again, most Chaos captains didn't really care for such. That didn't even count the ones who were not sane..

More than one person in the Imperial fleet felt a touch of fear as the ships were identified. A Despoiler Class Battleship that looked to be the Fortress of Agony. It hadn't been seen since the Gothic War. Or no one had survived to report seeing it. Another large Chaos ship was beside it, a Desolator class battleship that no one could see the name of. The postulant boils and icky looking stuff all over it made it hard to see any of the ship's hull. No one sane would board that ship, not with Nurgle's touch all over it. Four more Chaos cruisers and an even dozen escorts followed the battlewagons out of the Warp. Two of the cruisers seemed to be damaged and one of the escorts simply blew up. Exiting the Warp so close to a gravity well had its dangers.

"Pity neither of the big ones blew up."

Fleet Admiral Geralt Simms was not a happy man as he stared at the display. He had more escorts than the Chaos fleet did. From his readings, he had more fighters and bombers if he added those based on the four habitable planets and myriad stations. He sent orders to scramble them all. He would need them. The orbital weapon platforms would add a significant chunk of firepower as well, but they were immobile. Easy to outflank and destroy from a distance if his mobile forces were lost.

"Kaurava IV is the target." The chief astropath reported to no one's surprise. "Their trajectory puts them..."

"Over the Peninsula of Iseult." Geralt said quietly and the astropath stared at him, his inhuman eyes wide. "That is where the Chaos had their fortress. Figures that is where they are going."

"Can we stop them, sir?" A young ensign asked. Geralt turned to him, face blank and the young human froze.

"Whether we can or not, ensign Koris, we are going to do our duty." The Admiral said quietly. "Yes, they are fearsome. But so are we! We are the Imperial Navy! We are the line in the stars! We take no crap from anybody! Least of all Chaos filth!" A cheer sounded, with ensign Koris snapping a sharp salute. "All ships, engage the enemy! We hold this line and none of the Chaos scum gets through!"

A priority message chimed and he stepped to his console which darkened to give him privacy. The audio would feed into his implants and no one else could hear except maybe the ship's commissar, who wouldn't talk. The admiral was not surprised to see the Governor General on the screen.

"Admiral?" The commander of the Kaurava System said quietly. "How bad?"

"They have two battlewagons, sir. The correlation of force is adverse. We have a chance as long as I can get the fighters and bombers here in time." Geralt said quietly. "Our ships are good. I checked the readiness just last week. But the numbers don't lie. We might be able to hold them off the planet, sir, but it will cost. Orders?"

"I am releasing the planetary defenses for the quarantine to your control, Admiral." The Governor General said quietly. "If they land, you are cleared to use anything and everything." Geralt stiffened and the Governor General nodded. "Everything."

"There are people on Kaurava IV, sir." The Admiral wasn't arguing, just making sure. Many had been caught out by the quarantine and never allowed to leave. Supplies were dropped for outposts and a small science facility, nothing major, but several thousand military personnel were trapped there. A number of civilian settlements had managed to survive the various incursions somehow and had expanded since the war. He didn't have numbers for them. Less than a million in all likelihood. A small price, perhaps but not an easy one to live with.

"If the Ruinous Powers get there, they may try to open what the Blood Ravens closed." The Admiral stiffened at that. He hadn't been here when the war for Kaurava had occurred, but he had heard stories, everyone had. "If they bring the Warp Storm back, we haven't seen bad."

"No, sir." The Admiral swallowed and nodded. "Understood sir. If needed, I will fire it."

"For what it is worth, you acting under my authorization of the quarantine." The old human on the screen suddenly looked tired. "If they land..."

"You are cleared to Exterminatus Kaurava IV."
You deny the Greater Good? I regret that.

YOU will regret the seeker missile that is now homing in on your personal biosignature. Have a nice day.


:P

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Kalenath
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Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies

Postby Kalenath » 16 September 2016, 09:50

Kinds

Mira felt a lot better when she woke. She still hurt, but it was lot less than it had been. The other thing, the thing that made her smile, was Agatha's singing. The sister was singing a hymn of praise to the Emperor and Mira joined in. Her voice wasn't nearly as good as Agatha's but Mira needed the support that faith brought her. They concluded the hymn and Mira opened her eyes to find Agatha sitting beside her bed. She smiled, but then realized that Agatha looked bad. Fatigue, sadness, worry, all of these shone on the blind sister's face.

"Agatha? Is something wrong?" Mira asked, shifting herself a little to try and minimize the pain she felt.

"Nothing you did." Agatha sighed and her face relaxed. "You met the Por'El."

"She wasn't just a nurse, was she?" Mira could not miss the tension that Agatha tried to hide. "Not a problem, Agatha. Did they find out what they needed?" Agatha had no eyes to goggle at her, but the rest of her expression said she was. Mira smiled. "Come on, Agatha. One does not survive long in the Guard without learning to read between the lines. A human appears out of nowhere, left for you to find and you just leave her to rot without asking anything? No. You need answers. It hurt a lot less than an Imperial interrogation would have." She shifted again and winced. "I think."

"You are far calmer than I would have expected." Agatha reached out and took her hand. "Far calmer than I was when it happened to me." She grimaced. "Then again, the Enclaves were not the first to interrogate me and the others were far more stringent. Still fairly gentle, but far more stringent."

"I am angry." Mira admitted. "But not with Salierra or your bosses. I can understand why she did it and she was so nice. I never thought to meet a nice... Um..." She paused and Agatha gave her hand a pat.

"The Tau are generally." Agatha replied. "Not all. Their soldiers have taciturn down better than the most disciplined Guard unit I have ever seen. But even they are less straitlaced than Sisters or Space Marines. They are all about efficiency and results, not protocol."

"That is refreshing." Mira smiled and then heaved a sigh. "Will they alter my mind? Mindscrub me?"

"No." Agatha gave her hand another squeeze. "The Ethereals might have. But we don't have any here."

"What are Ethereals?" Mira asked. "I vaguely remember something about that name from a briefing a while back. But I never faced Tau in battle."

"That is good." Agatha set her hand down, but kept her on Mira's. "I never did either, but I read reports and the Guard are almost completely outclassed. Good thing the Tau don't have huge numbers or the Imperium would be in big trouble."

"So... The Tau are not a problem?" Mira asked, puzzled. Agatha snorted and Mira shook her head. "I am confused."

"I know." Agatha reassured her. "You are probably also hungry. You have been on nutrient osmotic drips for a time to keep you healthy, so you won't really need food. But those don't fill your belly. Up for a walk?"

"I..." Mira swallowed hard. "I don't know."

"Let's see." Agatha took hold of Mira's hand again and urged her up. Mira sat up and then at Agatha's motion, swung her legs off the bed. She stood up and was surprised when she didn't stagger. The bed was lower than she had thought, and Agatha was shorter than Mira by half a head. But the sister's sheer presence was comforting and Mira felt herself relax as Agatha smiled at her.

"How long will I be in this suit?" Mira asked as she rubbed her hands down her sides, and then over her covered ears feeling the not-quite-human cloth texture. She could feel just as she always had and hear fine through it. It felt almost like skin. "It is skin tight, but that is..." She grimaced and then did so again when she realized that such was wasted on Agatha. "It feels both right and wrong."

"We are not sure how long. It takes the place of your outer skin while you regrow it." Agatha said with a small frown. "They have never had a human with such widespread burns survive before. The medics will strive to be gentle, but they will poke and prod, fair warning." Agatha paused and then spoke again. "Do you want a uniform to cover it? It might make you feel better."

"Could you do that?" Mira asked, curious. "I mean, I don't know what I am. A guest? A prisoner? I don't know."

"Right now, you are a patient." Agatha said firmly. "Until you decide what you want to do, you won't be allowed to run around loose, but we won't clap you in chains or anything either. I would welcome you among us, but it has to be your choice. If it is pressed... bad things happen." Her face was far away, her blind eyes seeing something that only she could. "The Emperor will lead you to your path. I cannot."

"You still believe." Mira said softly. "Even living with xenos?" She paused. "With Tau." She corrected herself grimly.

"Yes." Agatha said quietly. "Now, we won't give you a weapon." She grinned as Mira chuckled.

"I didn't think you would be that stupid." Mira said softly. "But yes, I think I would like a uniform. Cadian pattern. Lieutenant's rank if you can."

"I am pretty sure we can." Agatha said with a nod. "They have a lot of records and... well... They record a lot about who they fight. The Guard here in Kaurava wear Cadian style armor. It works for them." She smiled as Mira's stomach growled. "Hmm, I think I hear someone being hungry."

"Can't hide anything from you." Mira said with a grin that faded. "One thing. I was in isolation. Am I dangerous now?"

"You were implanted with a very nasty bioweapon." Agatha's face had a savage cast now, but it wasn't directed at Mira. "Add to that, you were exposed to several diseases that might or might not affect the Tau badly. We don't know. We would rather not find out, so you were in here until any reasonable incubation period lapsed. It has. You have been decontaminated as well. You are clean for both bacteriological and viral weapons."

"I can understand that." Mira winced. "Bioweapons are nasty. Effective at times, but nasty. Wait..." She paled as memory struck. "Salierra was in here with me! Is she...?" She broke off as Agatha squeezed her hand.

"She is fine." Agatha reassured the soldier. "She was checked over thoroughly going in and out. They wanted to use a drone, let her talk through that. She told them 'hell no!'. She has always preferred a personal touch." Mira stared at the sister who chuckled. "Wait till you see her on a tear. She just might make a Commissar back off."

"I find that very hard to believe." Mira said quietly.

"You have seen her good side." Agatha said with an exaggerated shudder. "Believe me, if you see her angry, you won't forget it." She shuddered again. "I certainly won't. But then again, I deserved her ire."

"Long story there." Mira just shook her head.

"Let's just say that from my earliest memories, I had a very hard head." Mira made a small noise of consternation and Agatha chuckled a little."Oh, yes. I was a bit of a handful at the convent."

"Now, why would that not surprise me?" Mira asked and froze as a piece of the wall opened up and something slid out. "What?"

"Your uniform." Agatha said quietly. Mira spun to stare at her and the sister smiled. "They work fast. We want you as comfortable as we can make you, Mira. We cannot magically wave our hands and make your pain vanish or new skin grow but we can help. So, we will."

"I..." Mira swallowed hard as she touched the folded uniform and then carefully unfolded it. Indeed, it was a set of Cadian fatigues. It even looked like her size. There was no armor of course, but she felt her eyes burn as she slowly unfolded it all. To waste such effort on a prisoner... But was she a prisoner? She didn't know.

"We don't know your medals." Agatha was quiet, respectful as Mira examined the uniform. "Tell us what you want on it and we could fabricate some if you wish."

"Medals just mean I lived when a lot of people didn't." Mira said softly as she slid the pants on, one leg at a time. It hurt, but she managed. Agatha held onto her arm to steady her when she might have stumbled but then released her. "I never felt worthy of them. High Command kept giving them to me, but I never felt worthy of them."

"That means you were." Agatha said softly as Mira pulled the blouse on and slid the fasteners closed. It fit just right. "If you wanted them, then you were a menace and not worthy of them." Mira turned to look at the sister whose face was bleak. "Yes, I knew some who wanted them. It never ended well."

"No." Mira agreed. "It doesn't." She sat back on the bed and pulled the boots on. Just like the rest, the footgear fit her like a second skin. Er, third skin after the medical suit. She paused at an odd thing that had sat at the underneath the pile. It looked like hair but had an odd silver thing on one side. "What is this?"

"Ah. They got it done." Agatha reached out to touch it and smiled. "It's a wig with attached communication device. It's not your real hair, but it will cover your head and it will allow us to reach you in case of emergency."

"You are giving me access to your coms?" Mira exclaimed. "What are you, crazy?"

"Maybe a little too trusting." Agatha allowed, but did not retreat. "But your access will be restricted. There is also a locator beacon in it."

"If there is not one in the suit, I will eat the bed." Mira said flatly.

"Oh, don't do that. You have been sleeping on it, it would taste terrible." Agatha said with a wicked grin and Mira fought but failed to keep a laugh from bubbling out. "Yes, there is a tracker in the suit. Every piece of clothing they make has trackers embedded. But this one, you can activate in case of emergency. In case something happens and you need help. The other tracker is for location purposes only. If you try to walk into an armory or other restricted area, sure, it will set off alarms. But this... The Por'El thought she was safe aboard. We all did. She wasn't." Agatha looked away. "I was so scared I was going to lose my friend. I have lost so many..." The naked fear on the sister's face when she turned back to Mira touched the soldier deeply.

"You won't lose me if I have anything to say about it." Mira said softly. She took a deep breath and slid the wig onto her head. It felt heavy, but not cumbersome. The metal piece slid over where her right ear was covered by the grey suit and she heard a chime.

"Welcome aboard the Mesme Kai, Lieutenant Mira. Guest access is granted." A neutral voice spoke Gothic in her ear. "If you have questions, you may inquire at any time."

"Ah, thank you?" Mira said weakly, ignoring Agatha's wide smile. "What should I call you? I do not want to be rude."

"Courtesy is not required, but it is appreciated. You may call me 'Ship' or 'Mesme Kai'." The voice replied and Mira felt her face freeze. "I am the main artificial intelligence for this starship and I wish you a pleasant stay." The com clicked off and Mira turned to Agatha. She knew her face held terror.

"I know." Agatha said softly before the soldier could speak. "It took a lot of getting used to for me. You will be uncomfortable. The Tau use artificial intelligences for all kinds of things. And yes, I too know the tales."

"The Techpriests gave me the creeps." Mira admitted with a gulp. "But they were... sort of human."

"They wouldn't say so." Agatha said darkly as she took Mira's hand. "Mira, do you trust me?"

"I..." Mira paused and then slowly covered the sister's hand with her own. "You could have lied to me. I never would have known, would I?"

"You would have figured it out." Agatha said with a frown. "And then, you would never have trusted again. The Por'El never lied to you for that exact reason. She knew you would learn the truth sooner or later and you would never trust. Do you trust me, Mira?" Agatha pleaded.

"Yes." Mira said simply. "Like I say, you could have lied and didn't even though it made your work harder. Most would have lied at least a little. You didn't. Yes, I trust you."

"Good." Agatha said with a sigh of relief. "Then I will say this: It will take very long and very technical explanations for them to explain why AIs are considered a vital part of the Enclaves. They have put a great deal of thought into it, Mira. This isn't one of the horror stories from the Imperium. Yes, there is risk, but the AIs themselves are part of the solution."

"I..." Mira shook her head. "I don't know."

"For now, don't worry about it." Agatha gave Mira a gentle shake. "We can prove it, but it will take time. And look at it this way... No Techpriests." Mira had to smile at the sister's dry wit. "Come on, I can hear your stomach rumbling."

"It's not-" Mira broke off as her stomach rumbled. She stared down at her belly and then at the blind sister who smirked. "Good ears."

"What can I say?" Agatha's grin was ear to ear now. "You use what you have. Come on."

She led Mira to the door which opened for them. Mira was shaking her head as she exited the room in which she had been confined, but she was willing to wait for an explanation. For a while anyway. Energy washed over them as they stepped into a small corridor and Mira swallowed hard. Agatha gave her hand another squeeze.

"Decontamination." Agatha said softly. "It won't do anything to you. You are completely clean. You have been cleaned every day since you were put in there." Mira made a noise of inquiry and Agatha snorted. "Don't want you stinky." Mira fought her laugh and managed to stifle it this time.

"You are bad, sister Agatha!" Mira complained as the energy wash ended and the door ahead opened.

"Who me?" Synth-Butter might not have melted in Agatha's mouth as she led the way into a far larger room., Mira paused at the exit, but Agatha pulled her out even as others in the room turned to look at her. All Tau. "You can gawk later, Mira. I am hungry and your stomach is growling again."

"It's not-" Mira slumped as her stomach did growl. She stared down at it and then at Agatha. "You win."

"Of course I win." Agatha said primly. 'I always win."

"Only when you are not dealing with the Por'El." A voice Mira recognized spoke and a male Tau rose from his console to nod to her. "I am pleased to see you vertical, lieutenant Mira." She returned his nod and he focused on Agatha. "We will need you once you have the lieutenant settled." To Mira's surprise, Agatha seemed to deflate, but the sister nodded. He smiled at Mira who returned it hesitantly. "I hope you do not need our services again anytime soon, lieutenant."

"You and me both, um... What do I call you?" Mira asked with a frown.

"My rank is Fio'El." The Tau said with a smile. "You may all me that."

"Then... I thank you for your care and concern, Fio'El." Mira said formally. "I don't think any human would have done what you did. I am very confused and more than a bit scared by all this." Agatha gave her hand a squeeze and Mira nodded to the sister. "I do not know what will come of all this, but this I know. I won't look at all non-humans like I look at Orks from now on."

"Good." The Fio'El smiled widely. "Since none of us like Orks either." Mira seemed at a loss for words and the Tau nodded to her again, turning back to his console.

"Come on, Mira." Agatha said with a shrug. "They have work to do and..."

"I can hear you!" A loud voice sounded from nearby. "We are going to talk, Agatha!" Mira stared as every Tau in the room winced as one. That was Salierra's voice and she wasn't happy.

"Oh dear." Agatha swallowed hard and motioned for Mira to stay put. She moved to a door and froze as it hissed open. Salierra stalked out wearing a gown very similar to the one Mira had been wearing when she had met the Por'El. To Mira's amazement, Agatha bowed deeply to the irate female Tau. "Por'El, you needed the rest. I take responsibility."

"You drugged me!" The diplomat wasn't being very diplomatic as she snarled at Agatha. "I was in control."

"Barely." Agatha said sadly. "Por'El, please. I was very worried. I thought we had lost you." Naked fear sang in her tone. The female Tau stared at her and then threw her hands up in the air in a very human gesture.

"You... You..." Salierra was shaking, but Mira couldn't tell if it was from rage or laughter. "Of all the silly, stupid, human..." She heaved a deep sigh and then relaxed. She stepped forward and took Agatha's hands in her own. "You take too much on yourself, Agatha." Her tone was suddenly kind and concerned. "You are not an adolescent or Sister of Battle anymore."

"I know." Agatha said sadly. "I just..." She gasped and wilted as Salierra caught her. "You... Sneaky..."

Mira stared as Salierra laid Agatha down and a medic rushed up to check her vitals. He smiled and nodded to Salierra as a drone hovered close. It had been right behind Agatha and the sister hadn't seen it. It must have sedated her.

"She is asleep and will stay that way for about a shift." The medic reported. "We will get her to her bed."

"Good." Salierra turned to Mira who was gaping at her. "Agatha always does too much. Silly woman that she is, she simply cannot let others do things that she can. One of the first lessons we Tau learn in leadership school is how to delegate and when. She never learned that." Her gaze was sad as the drone lifted Agatha up and carried her off. "She can and will push herself into another heart attack if we let her."

"Another?" Mira asked, stunned. Salierra nodded and the soldier slumped. "I didn't know."

"How could you?" Salierra asked. "Anyway. She will sleep for two decs, about six or so of your hours. You need to eat and I need to talk to you."

"About?" Mira asked cautiously.

"Consequences."
You deny the Greater Good? I regret that.

YOU will regret the seeker missile that is now homing in on your personal biosignature. Have a nice day.


:P

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Kalenath
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Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies

Postby Kalenath » 17 September 2016, 09:42

Consequences

Mira followed Salierra back into the Tau's room where the alien female sat and indicated another chair near a table. The human manage not to flinch as a silent drone carrying a platter of some kind swooped in just past her head, deposited the platter on the table and left just as silently as it had arrived. Salierra nodded to it as she sat.

"Your meal. We have a supply of human foods for Agatha. She made some recommendations. I hope you like it." The Tau slumped a bit. "I apologize."

"For what?" Mira asked as she examined the platter. An obvious button was set on one side. When she pressed it, the top irised open and she stared at the meal that lay within. She recognized meat, vegetables and a form of bread, but none of it was anything she knew. It did smell good. There was a dull utensil inside the platter and she took hold of it with a frown. It was sort of like a spoon. Sort of.

"For interrogating you while we were getting the suit on you." Salierra said sadly. "We needed to know and-" She paused as Mira held up a hand. "Mira?"

"You were far gentler than the Imperium would have been. Than the Inquisition was." Mira said softly. "Did I tell you about Graia?"

"Some. You fought Orks there." Salierra kept her voice low. "Go on. Eat. You need it. We checked and you are not allergic to any of that. I had to apologize. I felt soiled by that."

"Salierra, Por'El of the Farsight Enclaves." Mira took hold of the spoon thing and doled herself a helping of the meat. It was soft enough to cut easily with the spoon. "You didn't hurt me. You came in and helped me in person, despite the danger. You needed to know. I am not angry with you. In your place, I probably would have done the same thing, but I couldn't have been so kind and gentle."

"You are a better person that I would be in such a situation. We Tau can be arrogant and pragmatic if needed." Salierra said with a sigh. "I personally think it doesn't serve the Greater Good when we do evil. There are times when you only have bad choices, when you literally have to choose the lesser of two evils. We strive to limit those times. Thank you for your words. I still feel bad about it."

"I cannot change your feelings. All I can do is offer my understanding as to why you did what you did.." Mira took a bite and paused, amazed at the savory taste. "Ummm. This is good." She smiled after she swallowed. "Much better than field rations."

"Some Fire Warriors tell me that field rations should be shot at enemies as weapons." Salierra said with a grin that Mira shared. "What do you want to do? If we send you to the Imperium forces here, the best you can hope for is a quick death. We did what we did to save your life, but they won't care."

"No." Mira took another bite, savoring the taste. "They won't. They can't. It is not in the Imperium's nature to trust anyone. Especially not their soldiers. Especially not when said soldiers have been out of their control. To my own unit, the 203rd Cadian, I am almost certainly listed as dead by now. If we had won free... I don't know what would have happened."

"You said the Inquisitor took you." Salierra's tone was soft, worried as Mira looked off into space. "But you didn't say why."

"My regiment was sent to Graia to stop the Ork invasion." Mira said quietly. "Graia is a Forge world. They make weapons for the Imperium. Lots of different weapons. But the main ones are Titans." Salierra stiffened and Mira nodded. "This isn't a secret and from what I understand about Tau space, you won't reach that area for a long, long time if ever."

"That explains the Orks' interest." Salierra said in a monotone. Mira nodded. "And you were sent to stop them."

"A lot of Guard were sent to stop them." Mira slumped, as memory flared. "Problem was, the Ork leading the Waaagh was smart. He knew the Imperium would respond so, when he landed, he took over the planetary defenses instead of destroying them." Salierra winced and Mira nodded. "We flew right into a firestorm. My regiment was the only one to make planetfall reasonably intact and most of my commanders were killed the first day. None but me lasted a week."

"Oh." Salierra swallowed and nodded. "I see. But you survived? And that left you in charge."

"Yes." Mira slumped, food forgotten. "It was... I had seen fighting before. My regiment had faced pirates, raiders, Dark Eldar corsairs... Nothing like that. I lost count, Salierra. I tried to remember how many comrades I lost. But I lost count." Her voice was tiny as tears started to fall. "I failed them, Salierra. I failed my men."

"No." Salierra reached out to take Mira's hand. "No, you didn't. You said the Ultramarines came. We call their kind Gue'ron'sha. They are fierce warriors who never give up. You never gave up, did you?"

"No." Mira looked down at the blue skinned hand holding hers. "I... I just..."

"You hurt." Salierra said sadly. "You walled yourself off to keep going. To do the job. I know Fire Warriors who have done that. Human or Tau, it hurts you, here." She reached up to touch Mira on the breastbone. Mira nodded. "You are a good person, Mira. A good soldier. You are hurt and recovering. Do not blame yourself for not being able to fight something that there was no way to anticipate or counter. How could you fight someone like that Inquisitor?"

"Titus did." Mira's voice was solemn now. "I doubt the Inquisitor killed him. He wanted to know something that Titus couldn't tell him. When Titus proved difficult, he took me. He wanted to punish me or something. He certainly couldn't use me to break Titus. Titus doesn't care about humans. He cares for the Imperium. The Inquisitor is a threat, I am not sure how or why. But Titus was not happy." Mira chuckled without mirth. "And when a Space Marine gets unhappy? Lots of people get unhappy."

"I bet." Salierra said with a dry smile. "Go on, eat. I have a proposal actually." Mira looked at her but the Tau glanced pointedly at the platter and Mira picked up the spoon again. "Agatha is a good person, but she is not young anymore. She has had one heart attack already. We have her under medical monitoring at all times in case of another. She is a good person and a good friend. I am loathe to lose her."

"I like her too." Mira agreed. "But what does that have to do with me?"

"There is a word in our language." Salierra said quietly. "Gue'vesa. Gue is 'human'. It was originally an insult, but it has become a bit more of a descriptor, if still fairly insulting the way many Tau use it. 'Vesa' is 'helper'. 'Human Helper'. Agatha is the Gue'vesa of this expedition. She was asked to come specifically to help us deal with any humans we encountered outside of battle. I may be a diplomat, but I am wise enough to know I don't know everything. I do not share your faith and it confuses me. But there is nothing inherently wrong with what you believe. You believe in your Emperor."

"Yes." Mira said flatly, uncomfortable with where this conversation was trending.

"I don't." Salierra was unaffected by Mira's tone ."And even if I did? What good would it do? I am a xenos." Mira started to protest and the Water Caste diplomat held up a hand. "Hear me out?"

"Okay." Mira took another bite and waited as Salierra gathered her thoughts.

"I have talked with a lot of humans, but most of them were born and raised in our enclaves. Worlds that were taken by Farsight and turned into fortresses against the myriad enemies we face in the stars. In the Empire, that belief would be eradicated. Subsumed into service to the Ethereals' Greater Good." The blue skinned female blew out a deep breath. "Many of the humans in the Enclaves believe that their Emperor sent Farsight to them to help protect them. That the Greater Good we espouse is directed by the Emperor. We don't." The Tau said with a grin that faded. "But they do. Agatha does."

"Oh." Mira shook her head. "I still don't understand why you want me."

"Well, first, you are available." Salierra said with a wry smile. "Second, you believe." Mira tensed, but Salierra waved for her to relax. "No, I am not calling you a fanatic. Agatha was one."

"Yes." Mira said softly. "Yes, she was. But now?"

"Now, she is a guide." Salierra replied just as quietly. "A liaison and guide. A helper for us to understand humans. To try to deal with them without violence."

"Salierra, I am soldier, not a sister." Mira protested. "Violence is what I know." She slumped a bit. "All I know."

"That is not true." Salierra reassured her. "If it was, why am I not dead?" Mira would not meet her gaze and the Por'El sighed. "Mira, we could certainly use you. As I say, Agatha is not young anymore. When we took this base back from the humans, we captured a number of Imperial Guard." Mira stiffened and the Por'El nodded. "If this were an Ethereal world, one of them would come. They would scrutinize the prisoners . Those they could use would be put to work. Those who, through stubbornness or stupidity, they could not, would be sent to a re-education camp to learn their place." Mira hissed at that and Salierra nodded. "Yes, it is as bad as you think if not worse. It wouldn't be violent, but it would be inexorable. One day, they would wake and their faith's focus would be the Ethereals instead of their Emperor." Disgust sang and Mira stared at the Tau who nodded. "We don't do that."

"What will you do?" Mira wasn't sure she wanted to know.

"If we cannot find a way to integrate the prisoners into our midst safely, we will release them." Salierra replied just as quietly. "Put them in lifepods and set them loose. The Imperium would pick them up eventually. What happens after is not our concern."

"I can see that." Mira licked her lip and then made a face as Salierra glanced pointed at her platter again. "Pushy."

"It is my job, Mira." Salierra said with a smile. Mira took another bite and chewed carefully. "I was bred and trained to help expand the influence of the Greater Good as we see it in the Enclaves. Commander Farsight is far too busy defending us to act as a diplomat very often. He is incredible at it as he is at just about everything. But he isn't perfect nor can he be everywhere. Each Caste has to do its part for the Greater Good."

"I can't do that." Mira said with a frown. "I don't believe in your Greater Good."

"You don't need to." The Tau reassured her. "If you remain with us, you will learn what it means. It is not a command to give up everything else you believe in. At least, not with us." She qualified. "There have been times when we had to act that way, but it never felt right. Forcing others into the Greater Good is not the way of the Enclaves. If you wish to go, we will put you in a lifepod and send you to the Imperium even knowing that we are sending you to your death."

"I would probably be right back into the Inquisitor's hands." Mira said darkly. Salierra nodded and Mira took another bite to settle her thoughts. "I feel..." She shook her head. "Am I drugged?"

"The short is answer 'yes'. There is a mild calming agent prescribed." Salierra replied. "It is administered directly through the suit. It is not meant to be mild altering, it is intended to help you stay calm when you are in pain all the time. Pain has a way of short circuiting rational thought in any sentient I have ever encountered even when medicated. The point it, I want to offer you a job. What do you want?"

"I really don't know." Mira admitted as she finished her meal and set the spoon down inside the platter. "This is all so new and I feel odd." Salierra nodded. "Do I have to choose now?"

"No." The Tau was kind. "We are in no danger at the moment. There are factions of humans fighting in the system, but none seem to be coming this way. We will have our defenses fully set up shortly." Mira stiffened and Salierra shook her head. "That is not your concern, lieutenant. Right now, you have to heal."

"I would feel better with something to do." Mira started as the drone from before appeared, picked up her tray and vanished. She shook her head. "That will take a lot of getting used to."

"Most of our people eat in cafeterias. Some don't want to leave their work however, so drones were set up to make sure they do eat." Salierra shrugged. "They do it to me when I get fixed on a task. Agatha's food is different, so she usually gets it delivered. We could use your help right now. We have a problem with one of the humans who was captured here."

"Oh?" Mira asked carefully.

"Yes." Salierra grimaced. "When we arrived, we had plans to take the garrison prisoner. We managed that, except for one. The Commissar was dead when we arrived to take him into custody. A guardswoman was in his quarters and..." She paused, thinking. "It is weird."

"The Commissar wouldn't have surrendered." Mira said flatly.

"The Fire Warriors didn't tell me what they had planned." Salierra said with a frown. "But I do know that an entire Breaching Team was set to take him." She sighed. "And when they blew their way in, they found the guardswoman and his corpse."

"You are right." Mira mused. "That is strange. What would you want me to do?"

"Talk to her."

***

Mira focused herself and straightened her uniform. Despite the human's misgivings, the Por'El had insisted that Mira wear at least a few of her medals. She focused and then nodded to the two Fire Warriors who stood outside the hatch. The alien armor was jarring to her, but it wasn't bad like the spiky bits that Orks or Chaos fanatics wore. She had to admire the clean lines of their armor, so different from her own carapace set that she missed even now. She also admired the cleanliness and professionalism of the guards. Despite Salierra's reassurances, Mira had almost thought that all Tau were like the diplomat and medic she had met. Nice didn't win wars. She needn't have worried. The Fire Warriors had challenged her professionally as she had approached and then checked her authorization to be present just like any well trained soldiers on security patrol she had ever worked with. She was impressed with their speed. They had a reply in less than a minute and then both nodded to her, raised their weapons out of firing position and stepped to either side of the door.

"Is she awake?" Mira asked. The one on the left nodded. "I am monitored, but please do not enter unless it looks like I am danger of death." The Fire Warriors looked at one another and then nodded as one.

Mira stepped to the door and it hissed open for her. She stepped in and looked around. The cell was small, but fairly comfortable as cells went. The only furnishings were a bunk and a small toilet facility set on one corner. The woman on the bunk wore Guard uniform, but it was oddly tattered. Bandages shone underneath the tatters and Mira's eyes narrowed. Those were not new bandages. But... Why? The base hadn't been attacked before the Tau. Had it? She knew the other could see her and was ignoring her.

"Sergeant Samantha." Mira said as she took one more step into the cell. She was just out of reach of the other now, but she wasn't really afraid. The other radiated despair. There was no response and Mira focused and channeled an old commander of hers. "Sergeant!"

The snarl in command voice had the sergeant off the bunk and straightening to attention before her brain caught up with her body. Mira did not give her time to set herself.

"Is this the best the Kauravan Guard can do?" The bite in Mira's calm tone might have tore the paint off the walls. "Lack of respect for a superior officer?" The sergeant jerked and then looked at her, really seeing her for the first time. The non-commissioned officer's eyes widened. "No. I am not from Kaurava. How I got here is a long and painful story that is not germane at the moment. How long was he hurting you?"

The only person on the base who could possibly have hurt the sergeant in the ways that Mira saw bandaged had been the Commissar. Anyone else, she would have killed. But him? He was in charge.

"Lieutenant. I..." The sergeant swallowed hard and Mira shook her head.

"Out of curiosity, how did you do it?" Mira asked, eying in the other woman's wrists. There were marks on her wrists. She had been bound. A lot. The sergeant stared at her and Mira shook her head. "I have known people like that, Sergeant. Bad sorts. But a Commissar?" She shivered. The sergeant seemed to wilt, just a little.

"He wasn't always like that, Ma'am." The sergeant seemed one step from crying. "He kept order, but... Not like that. He came back from the quarantine duty, Ma'am." She shook her head, eyes huge. "You have to believe me, Ma'am!"

"Calm down, sergeant." Mira kept her own voice calm and in control to help the other regain her equilibrium. "I am not here to execute you. I want to know what happened."

Instead of answering, the sergeant slowly reached down and pulled her uniform blouse up to expose her stomach. A large field dressing had been put on it and the sergeant pulled it off. Mira felt every ounce of breath in her body flee as she exhaled in shock. On the sergeant's stomach, a symbol had been cut deep into her flesh.

An eight pointed star.
You deny the Greater Good? I regret that.

YOU will regret the seeker missile that is now homing in on your personal biosignature. Have a nice day.


:P

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Kalenath
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Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies

Postby Kalenath » 18 September 2016, 07:57

Definitive

"Guards!" Mira snapped and the door hissed open behind her. The sergeant froze as she saw what was behind the lieutenant. "Stay where you are, but make your fields of fire clear. If she moves or changes in any way, shoot her. It will be far more merciful death than any other." She took a deep breath. "If I change in any way, shoot me."

"Lieutenant!" One of the Fire Warriors protested.

"The forces of Chaos are incredibly dangerous and insidious, Fire Warrior..." Mira paused. "What is your rank?"

"Shas'la, lieutenant." The Tau said slowly. "Why?"

"Because we have a massive problem here, Shas'la. I need to talk to your commander as soon as possible and neither the sergeant nor I should leave this cell until this is resolved." Mira turned back to the sergeant who eyed her. "What did the Commissar do to you, sergeant?"

"I don't remember it all." The sergeant had frozen when the door had opened and the Tau appeared, but her face was a study. "I went to give a weekly report and then... I was chained to something. He was hurting me and I..." Her face fell and tears started falling. "I prayed and prayed, Ma'am. But he just kept hurting me. I couldn't see what he was doing at first, but then I did. I saw what he carved on my stomach. I know what it means." She slumped. "He said I would be the 'Way'. Whatever that means."

"Nothing good." Mira said flatly as her communicator chimed. "Hold on sergeant. I need to take this call." The sergeant's eyes widened further as Mira touched her communicator and spoke aloud. "Lieutenant Mira here."

"Shas'Vre Vior'la Oxa'are here." A firm voice came from the intercom, not from her communicator. A smart choice in case he needed to ask the sergeant something or issue orders to the guards. He was totally in command. "What is the problem, Lieutenant?"

"What do you know about the Warp, sir?" Mira asked, not taking her eyes from the sergeant whose eyes suddenly lit with hope.

"The Warp?" The Tau commander asked, clearly he had not expecting that question. "Isn't that what you humans call the alternate dimension your ships travel through?"

"Yes." Mira said softly. "I am not an expert on it. What I do know is that it is inhabited by malign intelligences." The sudden silence from the com was absolute and Mira forged ahead. "On Graia, I faced an incursion by those intelligences. We call them the Force of Chaos." The sergeant blanched and then nodded slowly, her face smoothing as she relaxed. "Whatever you may think of the Imperium, the Forces of Chaos are no one's friends. The Imperium has been doing battle with them for much of its history."

"I have heard of these Chaos forces but I have never faced them." The Commander said softly. "I have access to more records than most. These... Chaos. Are they also called the Ruinous Powers?"

"Among other things, sir." Mira nodded to the sergeant who stared at her, dumbfounded. "They don't know about Chaos, sergeant. I will do what I can."

"Please." Sergeant Samantha begged. "Lieutenant, give me the Emperor's Mercy. I can't... I don't want to let them loose through me."

"Sergeant, calm down." Mira said firmly. "If it comes to that, I will do it. I have before. I give you my word, I will if it comes to that. It may not."

"You know what the symbols mean, Lieutenant!" Sergeant Samantha snapped. "I lost my family to the Warp Storm. I won't let that happen again!" She was tensing. To fight or flee, it didn't matter. The guards couldn't possibly miss at this range.

"Sergeant. Stand. Down." Mira snapped, patience fleeing. "They will shoot you but for all we know, your death may cause it." The sergeant stared at her and then wilted completely. "Guards, let her sit, but keep her in your sights." She waited for a noise of acknowledgement and then motioned for the sergeant to sit. The other human did without comment. "Sergeant Samantha, I need to know everything you remember. No matter how horrifying, painful or disgusting it may be, information is the only thing that might -might!- save you and us."

"You can't save me." Samantha said weakly. "Please?" She begged.

"I don't think so either." Mira felt a great weariness rise within her. "But maybe, we can spare the system another Warp Storm."

"What exactly do you believe is going to happen, Lieutenant Mira?" The Tau Commander asked slowly.

"Hell."

***

Mira had been politely but firmly escorted from the sergeant's cell. Two more Fire Warriors, these with some kind of shotgun-like weapons, had assumed positions outside the sergeant's cell. Mira didn't think it would help if something really nasty came through the sergeant, but right now, all they had was questions. Some of which she was answering.

"I am no expert." Mira said for about the fifth time. "I have seen some of them manifest in our world. I have fought some of them."

"So conventional weapons can work?" The Shas'Vre had turned out to be a grizzled Tau who looked and sounded extremely competent. She was glad of that.

"Sometimes." Mira temporized. "I... Look, I saw one kind and they were bad news. We hurt them with lasguns and other regular weapons, but it cost us. The ones I saw teleported and carried swords made of flame." The Shas'Vre stared at her disbelieving and she grimaced. "I know. I know it sounds crazy. It is crazy. But it is also true. The problem is, I have been told that there are lots of different kinds and not all of them can be hurt by regular weapons." She shook her head. "A lot of Guard usually die when the Ruinous Powers show up."

"Let me show you something." The Por'El said softly as she touched controls. She and the Fio'El were also present but neither had interrupted as the Shas'Vre had grilled her. A series of holos appeared overhead and Mira blanched as she saw what they depicted. Chaos ships fighting Imperial ones. She was no naval person, but the odds were heavily stacked in the Chaos's forces favor. "Are these the same?"

"Yes and no." Mira said softly. "Those are traitors. Ships that betrayed the Imperium and swore allegiance to the powers of Chaos. Every one of them is bad news but the biggest ones?" She pointed at two holograms and they enlarged before her eyes. "Those are old. Some of those ships have been preying on Imperial holdings for thousands of years."

"That is not possible." The Fio'El said firmly. "Humans do not live that long."

"Mira..." The Por'El said softly when Mira turned away, her face bleak. "What is it?"

"Shame." Mira said sadly. "An ancient dishonor that still comes back to haunt everyone who calls or called the Imperium home." The Por'El stepped close, her hand coming to touch Mira's arm but Mira barely felt it. "If you have perused any Imperial records, you have likely found mention of the Horus Heresy."

"Yes." The Por'El sounded confused. "An ancient betrayal by..." She froze. "Oh no. No." She hissed in horror.

"By Space Marines." Mira swallowed as the others both stiffened. "Who do not die of natural causes. They were... corrupted by the Ruinous Powers and... turned on the Imperium." Her words were halting and the Por'El drew her close, holding her tight as Mira shivered in fear. "I am sorry. I am sorry. The Emperor sacrificed so much to save us from his own son and we are still fighting the remnants of that horror today. They attacked us on Graia and I couldn't do a damned thing. If not for Titus and the Ultramarines... I would be dead." She was crying now as the Por'El held her.

"Then you are right." The Shas'Vre was shuffling through holograms with literally inhuman speed. "We have a big problem. I have read reports from Fire Warriors who have engaged these Chaos forces you speak of. They are rarely intelligible. The ones that are, are horrifying." Mira nodded, smiled at the Por'El and extricated herself.

"The Warp drives humans mad." Mira worked to keep her voice calm even as the Por'El kept hold of her hand. "Again, I do not know how or why. The only ones who do know, you cannot trust a word they say." Salierra looked at her and Mira shook her head. "Only a fool trusts the Inquisition."

"I don't see why we cannot help the sergeant." The Fio'El said with a frown. "Her wounds are not that serious."

"Her physical wounds, Fio'El." Mira said flatly. The medic stared at her and Mira grimaced. "The most damaging of the wounds that were done to her will have no physical traces, no injury to heal. From what I gathered before your guards came and got me..." She did not glance at the Shas'Vre, but she hadn't been happy at the time. "The planet Kaurava IV is under quarantine because of the Warp Storms that originated there. The Commissar did a tour of duty on one of the orbital stations that enforce the quarantine. He came back changed. Corrupted."

"From what I understand, your Commissars are trained from birth to resist such." Salierra was stunned. Mira nodded. "And he fell prey anyway?"

"No human is proof from such, Por'El." Mira slumped. "I myself might be a threat. Hell, Space Marines fall prey to the corruption and they are barely human. I don't know enough. We need Agatha."

"Waking her will hurt her." The Fio'El protested even as Salierra shook her head. "We can handle this. But... What is this 'Emperor's Mercy' the sergeant is demanding? I didn't think you Emperor had mercy." Mira stiffened and the Por'El gave her hand a warning squeeze. The Lieutenant took a moment to calm down before she spoke.

"The Emperor's Mercy is the last mercy shown to those who cannot be saved. Merciful death." Mira said flatly and the Fio'El recoiled. The Shas'Vre looked at her and then nodded once firmly. "She is asking me to shoot her in the head."

"No!" The Fio'El snapped. "I won't allow it!" The Por'El looked horrified and Mira pulled her hand free of the slack one that held it.

"You do not understand and I don't have the words to help you understand." Mira looked at each of the Tau in turn, her face creased by a frown. The Fio'El and Por'El looked horrified and one step from confining Mira for psychiatric review. The Shas'Vre... He was blank. She turned to the Fire Warrior and nodded. "Sir... If the sergeant dies and becomes a portal to the Warp as I fear, a horde of demons will appear inside the base." The Shas'Vre just looked at her and she slumped. "I had a good defense, a strong wall of fire against Orks on Graia. The damn demons teleported behind it and tore my men apart. Sir, please!"

"Our defenses are geared towards the Gue'la fleet and Guard." The Shas'Vre was calm, maybe a bit too calm. Resigned? "We could hold them off almost indefinitely as long as they do not get to the shield generators. But this?" He shook his head. "We couldn't defend against this."

"You can." Mira said firmly. "But it will cost. Static defenses won't work against demons or Chaos Space Marines. We learned that to our cost on Graia."

"We don't do that. Holding ground is not our way." The Shas'Vre said with a frown. "Well, we didn't. Por'El, Fio'El, I ask to have the special defense assembled ahead of schedule. We will likely need it."

"We do not have anyone trained to use it." The Por'El said with a frown of her own. The Fio'El was glowering at Mira. "Fio'El, she is giving us information that we asked for. Do not blame her that the information is not what we wanted."

"You are not killing the sergeant." The medic Tau said flatly. "We can put her in stasis."

"And then what?" Mira worked to keep here tone reasonable, despite the growing ire she was feeling. "Keep her there forever? It is not safe to have her here." Then she relaxed. She hadn't planned to. Was that the drug? "Not that killing her would be safe either, if it is what I think." The Shas'Vre waved for her to continue and she made a face. "She said the Commissar spoke of her being the 'Way'. I think that means she will become a portal to the Warp when she dies. A way past any defenses."

"So, we cannot keep her here and we cannot kill her." The Por'El shook her head. "So... What?"

"Some form of stasis may be the best choice." Mira said that despite her serious misgivings. "At the very least, it will buy us time." She looked at the holo of the system that the Shas'Vre hadn't banished yet and shivered. "If Chaos is here... Then they have a plan. Likely an insane one, but that is what they are. Madmen."

"We need you to talk to the rest of the Guard we captured." The Shas'Vre said after a moment. "In all the records I have seen, corrupted humans led the way for the Chaos incursions." Mira nodded. "IF there are more Chaos spies, we need to know."

"I may not be able to tell." The human was trying hard not to waffle. "But we do not have time to wait for Agatha to wake, do we?"

"No." The Shas'Vre said with a frown. "Por'El, Fio'El, I am invoking Defense Condition Three at this time." The others stiffened but he continued even as Mira looked confused. "We will need you both."

"Are you sure, Shas'Vre?" The Por'El asked, her tone worried. For the Shas'Vre, if Mira was not mistaken!

"Yes." The warrior Tau said firmly and turned to the medic.

"Under protest." The Fio'El snapped.

"Noted." The Shas'Vre said formally and turned to Mira. "Lieutenant Mira, you are human, not Tau. But in such an emergency, I need everyone working in concert. Are you-" He broke off as Mira braced to attention and gave him a sharp salute. He turned to the Por'El, mystified. Salierra wore a huge smile.

"That is her way of showing respect to a superior officer." The Por'El said quietly. "Mira, are you sure? They will call this treason."

"Surviving what the Inquisitor did to me will likely be called treason or heresy." Mira dropped the salute when it was clear the Shas'Vre wasn't going to respond. He likely didn't know how. "That said, you have a platoon under guard here? I don't know your methods, but I know theirs."

"Yes, thirty seven humans minus the sergeant." The Shas'Vre seemed back on firm ground now. "Thirty six."

"That would be almost two full platoons." Mira mused. "Probably another sergeant. No other officers?"

"Not that we could tell." The Shas'Vre shrugged when Mira looked at him. "We have been busy and all humans look alike to most of us. We will need them to help us recover the An'Kra. We will need it."

"The what?" Mira demanded, confused. The Shas'Vre hit a control and Mira was staring at the largest ground mounted xenos cannon she had ever seen in her life. "Oh..."

"I will talk to them."

***

"If they see you, they will be upset. Stay here." Mira said to the guards who had accompanied her. They ignored her. "Do I need to call the Shas'Vre?"

"We are acting on his orders, Lieutenant Mira." The Shas'la on her left said firmly as he hefted the oblong weapon that he carried. "You are not to be left alone with them."

"Gah." Mira thought about swearing, thought better of it. "At least stay close to the door. I will try to hold their attention, but if the Shas'Vre is right and these were sent here as a punishment, then they likely are not the best the Guard has to offer." She shook her head. "I know the type. Let me lead."

"Lieutenant, your safety is our priority." The Fire Warrior said with a frown that she couldn't see through his helmet.

"You can kill them all, but that does that accomplish?" Mira asked quietly. "If I am lucky, they won't be completely out of discipline and will accept the commands of an officer. If not..." She paused and then shook her head. "I wish I had a pistol." Mira froze as the Fire Warrior on the right took his hand off his long rifle weapon, reached down and took a strange looking pistol from a holster she hadn't seen. He extended it to her, butt first. "Ah..."

"Shas'Vre's orders, Lieutenant Mira." The Fire Warrior stood, the pistol extended to her as she stared at it. "Under Defense Condition Three, he can order such." She took the alien device gingerly and the Fire Warrior pointed to the side of it. "Safety here. Push to disable. Activation stud here. Single shot only. The pulses from this will only pierce armor with a lucky hit at point blank range."

"Arming a prisoner." Mira said in a monotone as she noted the big blue button. The rest of the pistol was fairly self explanatory except it had no magazine. "That cannot go over well with his superiors."

"If we all die, I think he won't care." The Fire Warrior said with a grunt and Mira nodded. "I have never fought this threat he spoke of, but I have heard stories."

"Any story you might hear does not do the threat justice, Shas'La." Mira took a deep breath and started for the door ahead, the Fire Warriors following her. "Out of curiosity, what would you call me if I was in your Enclaves, Shas'La?"

"Gue'vesa'ui." The reply came instantly. She looked at him, puzzled and he nodded. "It translates 'team leader of human helpers'."

"That works." Mira said with a smile. "Since I think I about to compound treason and heresy with theft and mutiny, I might be looking for a job soon. Let me handle this. I know the types." The Fire Warrior nodded to her and stayed a step back as she opened the door and stepped through.

No one noticed her.

The barracks wasn't even close to filled and her eyes narrowed as she took in the scene. Two forms in Guard attire were struggling in the midst of a crowd of others. Both male humans were large and brawny, but one was obviously hurt while the other seemed to be playing with his opponent. The hurt one went down suddenly and a loud crack carried all the way to where Mira stood. A bone had broken. The other drew back a kick, but Mira had seen enough.

She aimed her borrowed pistol at the ceiling and squeezed where the Shas'La had indicted. It fired.
You deny the Greater Good? I regret that.

YOU will regret the seeker missile that is now homing in on your personal biosignature. Have a nice day.


:P


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