Halo answers

Reddit Halo

2008.06.17 19:21 Reddit Halo

Reddit's home for all things Halo, the franchise developed by 343 Industries and previously developed by Bungie.
[link]


2019.10.26 19:45 OhHiIAmCoolIGuess RoyaleHigh_Roblox

An unofficial subreddit for Royale High, a game on Roblox. For art, tea spills, memes, you name it. Have fun! 👑 --- Thank you to these wonderful artists! --- Banner art: u/B911431 Icon art: u/ichig0_pnq
[link]


2012.12.01 03:02 Over 100,000 Served!

/HaloStory is a place for people to go to discuss the story and lore of Microsoft's hit sci-fi franchise -- Halo.
[link]


2023.05.28 18:32 Fickle-Entertainer84 My First Experience

This story is a little hard to talk about, I've talked about it once but didn't wanna get into it much but thought maybe I should start from the beginning with these 2 orbs. I was only about 11 years old at the time, I had lived down the street from 2 other kids around the same age. I had been to their house many times before and had never experienced something so vivid. But either way I'm about 11 years old and the season outside was fall, I ran down the street to see if me and my friends would be able to hang out. I reach their home and knock on the door, their parents answer and proceed to let me inside. Now for everyone wondering what the set up to this looked like I'll do my best to keep the description but this was over 10 years ago and their house was honestly a disaster. So as I entered the door I'd step into the kitchen, as I stepped through I could smell something burning, it was strong smelling never smelling it before it hit me strong. Not knowing I figured I'd just ask one of my friends, but I stopped before reaching their living room because above their kitchen table I was seeing 2 orbs circling around each. Almost as if they were in fight for control of the house or just constantly in motion but you could see them vividly as they spun around in circles at each other. I couldn't help but stare in amazement from never seeing something so interesting. So I turn through this sheet they have in the doorway of their home into the living room. Sitting on the couch were both my friends playing Halo on the Xbox. I sat near them on the couch and asked them what had been burning and they told me sage, at that time I had no idea what it was but the smell was growing on me but years later my future friend would actually tell me what sage is used for. So after a few mins of watching them play I asked what with the weird light in the kitchen? 1 is black and 1 is white, I'm trying my best to describe what I saw to them as I came inside. They look at each other and a friend says to me that it actually isn't the first time this has happened. As we are all talking about the orbs somehow they made their way through the sheet in the doorway to the living room from the kitchen. But at that point it didn't seem like they were seeing it or letting it bother them but I kept my eyes on them until it got late and I was already given permission to stay there that night. As I began to head towards the bedroom which was back through the kitchen I accidentally ran through the orbs, nothing happened at first. But about 5 mins after walking through the kitchen into my friends room I went to turn on their tv. As I went to turn it on I heard this loud snarling then bark in my ear, I turned around and my friends were still on the bed. I asked if they heard that dog bark and they responded what dog? I said come on y'all didn't hear a dog just now, like you guys didn't just bark in my ear? Again they responded but confused no we don't even own an animal, also I already knew since that wasn't my first time there but I just really needed to know. After the first bark about an hour went by before I would hear it again snarling and barking at me that night. This would happen about 3 times that night. After that night my thoughts on the paranormal have forever been open and I'm curious to know more. But that was my first experience into the paranormal. Question how would someone go about documenting these paranormal events but with little to no budget? I want to try and debunk this small ash that seems to follow me for the past 5 years and now my girlfriend is starting to see it. Any ideas from anyone?
submitted by Fickle-Entertainer84 to ParanormalTrueStories [link] [comments]


2023.05.28 17:23 emmyemails 22 [F4A] let's exchange emails

Bilang halos mamatay-matay na pag nagchecheck ng emails, gusto ko mawala yung anxiety ko by having something to look forward to pag nagchecheck. Sooo let's write letters to each other through emails. Note that this is very different compared to chatting lang; need ng effort and a bit of vulnerability and mystery(?) and sana consistency kahit di tayo araw araw nagsesendan ng email.
I don't have preferences sa age/sogie/physical appearance/school/etc. Basta don't be bastos. If you're up for it, send me a dm, short intro about you, why you want to try exchanging emails, how often you want to exchange. I'll send you a short intro about me tapos if bet mo yung sinabi ko, send me your email address and I'll send you an email.
PS: if you're from UP, are you willing to exchange your UP mail with me? Please add your answer sa dm mo hehe salamat.
submitted by emmyemails to PhR4Friends [link] [comments]


2023.05.28 17:15 MarioKing1137 One Track From Every Album. Make Your Own

You have 12 slots to fill to make your dream Metallica album.
Take one track from every Metallica studio album, and for the last slot, chose either I Disappear, No Leaf Clover, Human, Lords Of Summer, Blackened 2020, a Beyond Magnetic track, a track from Lulu, or a second track from any album. NO COVER SONGS!
Take into consideration what TYPES of songs you would want on an album, as well as how the album would be split into an A-side and B-side. There are no wrong answers, I just want to see how different people think.
For me, I would choose:
A-side
  1. 72 Seasons - (album opener)
  2. For Whom The Bell Tolls
  3. The Frayed Ends Of Sanity
  4. Halo On Fire
  5. Hero Of The Day
  6. The Unforgiven III - (A - side closer)
B-Side
  1. The Memory Remains - (B - side opener)
  2. Of Wolf And Man
  3. Sweet Amber
  4. Master Of Puppets
  5. Fade To Black - (second RTL)
  6. Hit The Lights - (album closer)
submitted by MarioKing1137 to Metallica [link] [comments]


2023.05.28 15:05 resurrective Chapter 17 – The trial of heart

The black domes, they were pocket dimensions, which were completely detached from the material world. Bound to the stream of souls, flowing inside the ephemeral branches of the world tree, they presented a personal hell for each person cast into them. They are a limbo of regrets, the hell of one’s own making, places where the living meets the dead.
There’s only so many ways to elope them. One must either reconcile with the restless souls, or join them, succumbing to their rage and regret that they carried into their afterlife. After all, to even get there, one must possess unparalleled strength and resilience; and only those who had caused deaths and destruction on their path to greatness can even hope to get to this trial.
Freia, Flare, the First princess of Jioral. For some – a good friend, lover, and companion. For others – a nightmare embodied, a vessel of divine powers, a force to be reckoned with. She had many enemies: princes and princesses felled by her authority, treacherous servants and greedy nobles, the knights, who opposed her corruption, slavers and bandits, destroyed on her quest for redemption and restoration of herself… But there were more. Children she had burned, serving her kingdom, women who perished by the tides she conjured, men that had been torn apart by raging tornados of her making, elderly that were buried under the rubble she created…
And how did she oppose them?
“Flagella terram et vescere inimicis meis, o magnum tempestas ignis!” The sorceress chanted, spinning her staff above her head. Then, right before the raging mob reached her, she hid from them behind a vortex of fire. One move and this wave of heat would incinerate everything and everyone in this accursed realm. But…
TRAITOR!
DON’T HIDE FROM US, FLA-A-A-ARE!
COME TO US, SISTER!
YOU WERE NEVER ONE OF US!
USURPER!
GIVE ME BACK MY MOM!””
THE FALSE PRINCESS!
SUNNARI (die)!
THE DAUGHER OF A WHORE!
YOU SHOULD’VE ROT IN THE SLUMS!
Curses and jealousy, bitterness and hatred. The chorus of tortured souls surrounding the fiery boundary couldn’t be silenced even by the roaring flame. There couldn’t be any redemption.
“I’m sorry for all of you, who unjustly died by my hand!..” And even though there were people deserving their apologies, those who had to perish in favor of Flare’s political ambitions, those she sacrificed to appease her tyrannical father…
THEN JOIN US, FLARE!
PAPA! WHERE ARE YOU?! GIVE HIM BACK!
REPENT, BITCH! DISPELL YOUR WITCHCRAFT!!!
“But I won’t give in to you!” The pink-haired woman exclaimed, absorbing mana into her staff. “Furthermore, there’re those of you I will never regret killing! And there are those, for whom I must live! I MUST GET OUT OF THIS PLACE!!!” Then, she slammed the lower tip of her weapon into the floor made of the absolute darkness. Instead of wailing, being consumed by fear, guilt, self-loathing, and, ultimately, perishing, Freia sundered this entire “world”. One magical strike from her, and cracks of white and gold covered the entire dome. The wall of fire faded, but when the vengeful spirits rushed forward to maul their prey, they crumbled into piles of black salt. “I’m so… so sorry!” The girl lamented, kneeling near the remains of children, whose future she stole. “But I… I must move forward. I must save…”

Sparks and crackling, whistle and dazzling – time and time again the surge of lightning breached through the veil of darkness.
UO-O-O-O-O-O!!!” A guttural scream filled the oppressive silence under the dome. Eve Reese, so childish and bashful, so eager to prove herself, now wore a stone mask of indifference. “Nira-a-a (no-o-o)!!! Yuarmta (I won’t forgive you)!!!” Cornar yelled, held still by at least seven shadows, he had been tortured, killed, bruised, smitten by the raging element of lightning. No longer did the girl see him as a threat; no longer did she cower at the feet of her former husband. Maybe, Eve was condemned to getting back her memories as a means of punishment, something that would make her sympathize with this petty little tyrant…
Yuarm yau (I don’t need your forgiveness).” The Me-ua kahul spoke, looking at her crackling right arm, trembling with power and guilt combined. Not for forsaking her would-be-spouse, not for becoming Panakea’s pawn…
These souls, these loyal shadows – turned out, she never called upon them… until the very end. Her subjects, her brethren… Eve feared that if she let them out, they would tear her tyrannical husband into little pieces.
“Haa… Haa…” And now, she had to choose. To turn around and let someone else fix her problem, or… “Haa… HAA!!! HAA!!! HAA!!! SUNI (I’ll kill you)!!!
A Punch to the maw, to the chest, through the ribs, to the heart! He didn’t die! He couldn’t die here! This scumbag of a man, this monster just wouldn’t go away! No matter how much pain she caused him, no matter how many times she slit his throat, broke through his torso, shocked him with spells, cut him with magical light…
And what of Cornar?
A-A-A-A-A!!! A-A-AGH!!! HA-HA-HA-A!!! NA SHENBATA, SETOAN (you can’t get rid of me, woman)!!!” The son of Hakuo never relented. He relished in his immortality, laughed through the hellish torments Eve inflicted upon him. The skinned lion spotted a weakness in Eve’s heart, and he pressed at it, as if breaking the girl would get him back to the world of the living…
No, he wanted to take Eve to the world of dead.
“Gha-a-a-a… Agh-h-h…” The queen-to-be grabbed her forehead, her rugged breath not only siphoned all the focus out of her, threatening to cast the girl into a pit of despair, it also deteriorated her control over the mana she wielded. Unlike the city of salt, there was enough ambient magic to harvest here, but doing so would require skills, precision, and, most importantly, personal discipline and control over one’s own mind.
Praibi, orna Iblis (Drain yourself, my Iblis)!” The prince of Batnara shashu tribe provoked, feeling the grip of the shadows losing its strength. A little more, and he’d be free… A little more…
“Hm…” But Eve wouldn’t relent. She once again covered her arm in a coat of magical lightning. She would never surrender; the queen would never let anyone treat her like a slave ever again. Not after Keyaruga’s perseverance taught her a lesson of resilience. Not after his gentleness, however tainted by his wounds, showed her what true love should look like.
She took a swing, prepared to strike…
“…” But then, two winged shadows stopped her hand. Amda and Sana, they were barely recognizable in their spiritual forms… but Eve would never mistake her parents for anyone else. They couldn’t speak, yet they still communicated with their daughter through other means. Emotions, wishes, urges – they never wished such evil to befall their daughter, but what they hated even more – was to see their child descend into the same pit.
“I… I don’t… have to?..” They asked her to stop, to let them relieve her of that burden. “B-but!.. No! You will die!” The girl snarled, grabbing her parents in a hug. She knew what was to come – her mother, father – they wished to sacrifice themselves to drag Cornar back to the afterlife. But that… wouldn’t that mean she’d lose them all over again? Wouldn’t…
“…”
Yes! You’re dead! So what?! What do I?..” The feeling of pain and powerlessness engulfed the verdant woman. Barely had she found the strength to stand before her fallen tribe, before those who she desired to see the most now left her.
YOTJAR (finally)!!!” With Eve’s will getting weaker, so did the shadows of her ethereal court. Her tyrannical husband finally broke free, slamming and stomping her shadows, as they fruitlessly tried stopping him. Amda and Sana Reese hugged their child for the last time… and now they stood up to defend their precious daughter. That is… the least they could do.

Freia broke inside another dome. From the outside, they looked like bright constellations of stars, formed on the points of a massive, galactic-scaled pentagram. The personal chamber for each of the contenders. One was broken from the inside, collapsing inwards, into a black hole with an orange halo – this was Freia’s dome. There were four more. Two were dimmed, two still shone brightly. The Hero of Magic travelled through this empty space, lit by numerous distant stars. In her current form, things like speed, form, and time – none of them mattered, aside from her destination. And now, she had to choose one of the two luminous chambers.

What is true power? Does one determine this abstract concept by the weight one can lift with their muscles? Maybe it was the charisma necessary to lead the masses? Enough money to influence others? Authority earned or inherited?
“Well-well-well…” Whatever the answer truly was, Ellen had none of it right now. No strength to fight, no troops to hide behind, and certainly – those who opposed her now had little if any need of whatever amount of gold she now carried.
WENCH!
TANOUTUR (murderer)!
NEZAH (why)?!
MERA RIVARO (my life)!..
YAU MA (how dare you)!
YOU’LL PAY FOR WHAT YOU’VE DONE, BITCH!!!
Oh, they came for Norn. There were hundreds, if not thousands of them, some she could recall from her Murian and Teuteccain campaigns – the series of expansions past the great wall; others were the court warlords she and John unseated in her ascension; rebellious villagers too came to exact their revenge on the younger princess, after her demons decimated them; and there were the victims of Buranikka’s carnage. This was the mountain of corpses Norn Clatalissa Jioral used to climb onto the very peak of political power…
“Now then, what do you want from me? An apology? Maybe my penance?” Even now, surrounded by countless dead souls, whose entire being now revolved around their grudge, the girl wouldn’t let herself be crushed by their rage. Not mentally, at least.
DIE!
MAN WOR YAKSI (give me your eyes)!
SUFFER, YOU MONSTER!
I JUST WANTED TO LIVE!!!
And so, hundreds of voices began howling in unison. So passionate, so eager to share their hardships and aspirations, that Ellen actually started pitying them a little. So many words, so much pain in them.
“Haa… I guess, that something like this was bound to happen someday. Well…” Instead of listening to the rest of the traumatizing nonsense and wailing, the crimson-headed cutie just began… to simply undress. “I don’t have the power to struggle, I can’t break out of here, and all of you came here for me. So go on. Rape me, maul me, kill me, do whatever you want. I’ve already done everything I wanted.” Ellen, now naked and completely defenseless, stretched out on the ethereal black floor, looking into the endless black void above her. The raging souls now came closer and closer, dozens of faces now loomed above her, as their hands reached out to grab the fallen warlady and tear her apart. This… was the end.
Keyaruga, Setsuna, sister… I hope you won’t miss me too much.
And so, she closed her eyes. Time to finally die.



There was no pain, nobody dragged the girl around, not even a single blow fell upon her. Ellen was… safe?
A-A-A-A!!!
UGH-H-H!!!
YOLA-A-A-A-A (it hu-u-u-urts)!!!
Slice and dicing, the ripping of flesh and clattered bones, “death” of a sort, dealt to the undying, torment for the tormented who themselves wished to inflict suffering upon her – someone kept the restless souls away from the princess. Someone precise, fast, and masterful with his tools of mayhem.
“Haa, is that you, Organ?” Ellen asked sullenly. Denied her excruciating retribution once more, she could only cover her tightly shut eyes with her palms.
“How did you know, Your Highness?” Indeed, it was him. As brutal as he was gallant, the deceased demigod was the only one out of these dead souls, who spoke to her, and not wailed at her like some sort of a beast.
“I know only two men, who’d come for me here, and the other isn’t so discreet, you moron.” The young general replied, opening her eyelids. The first thing she saw was the Champion of Jioral, covered in black blood. His prized amber eyes were no more, only black gaping holes were there instead. “Why’re you here? Do you want a piece of me for yourself?” The girl asked, still unwilling to stand up. Honestly, she felt robbed at this moment. This would be such a fitting end for her, but no! “Don’t tell me you’ve just barged in here to… Pff! PROTECT… me.” The second princess spat these words through her painfully clenched teeth.
“First things first, Lady Norn, I suggest you cover your shame and cease this indecency.” The warrior spoke, piercing and slashing the mob with his sword, impaling them with his hidden blade, tossing them back with his kicks. He was far from his prime form, and so, wounds and sores, cuts and lesions were left on him, as he, alone, overpowered dozens of raging men and women, keeping them away from the girl he swore to protect. Indeed… “Forgive me, princess, but I made a vow to your mother, and death is hardly a valid reason to…”
YAKS… (giv…) A-A-A-A!!!
“…to renounce my…”
DOKI-I-I (step away)!!!
“…loyalty to her!”
Despite everything, no matter the odds, Hawkeye continued to push back the angry spirits. He couldn’t dodge, as every missed blow could land on the lady, he couldn’t step back, as she needed protection more than any time in her life, and, certainly, sustained by this oppressive dimension, he couldn’t die. He couldn’t kill anyone, as they just rose anew from their own black blood, but the man couldn’t retreat.
“He-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh…” The princess chuckled, curling her torso in order to sit up. It hurt her stomach, but the girl persevered nonetheless. “Why am I always surrounded by stupid stubborn men, who just can’t help but dingle their balls before me? Seriously, a dead man, upholding a promise to a dead woman, how much more ridiculous can this get?” The girl scoffed, pulling back her panties, bra, and whatever she left lying around, back on. After all, why even bother now? “Be honest, idiot! What do you want from me?”
“I came here…”
Slash, backflip, tackle, toss – Organ Trist twirled around his commander, pushing back everyone, who came too close to his prized princess.
“…to ask you, Lady Norn!..”
Shoulder slam, side-kick, a flurry of bloodshed embodied in the son of Artemis!
“…to save my…”
Stabbing enemies with that hidden blade, crushing their skulls with the handle of his blade, ripping their eyes out and tossing them away – however useless this double-sided brutality may seem, Hawkeye had purpose, skill, and, most of all, conviction, that allowed him to push the mob away.
“…daughter! Save Marianna!”
After all, what can be stronger, than a father, eager to protect his dear child?
“And you think keeping me alive will help you with that? You, moron, this bloated pigeon trapped me here! I have only one way out – fucking death!” The second princess, now properly clothed again, yelled however loud she could. Unable to comprehend the reasoning behind this idiocy, the girl just stood there, pulling her crimson hair. “Also, you’re severely mistaken! I’m not Norn! Norn’s dead! My name is…”
“…Elly! Elly-y-y!!!” Barely had the princess opened her mouth; before the dome had been breached from the outside. The Hero of Magic emerged above the ground. She levitated, using magical blue flames; she secured her sister by forming a wall around her, a barricade made from powerful ice spears. The sorceress even went so far as to send one into the undead Champion, it was one he easily avoided, though. “Step away from my sister, Organ!!!” The raging magician demanded, pulling her sibling towards her with a gust of mystical wind.
Ghh! Oh, hey there, Friea!” The fallen warlady spoke, bracing herself against the dizziness her brief flight had caused. Still, this didn’t look good. The last time those two met, Hawkeye severely injured the pink-haired girl, and she just wouldn’t live through it again, unless two gods appeared to help her. This time, though, it was her turn to be a deity-savior.
“Get away! You’ve bested me once, but this time, I can crash this entire realm down onto your head!” The Hero of Magic promised, putting her staff between her sister and her enemy.
“Aw shit, this just gets better and better…” The little genius lamented, nervously shaking her head. Not only was her glorified suicide rudely interrupted, but now this situation threatened to kill her sister as well. Still…
“Elly, Elly… Ellen? Ellen the Adopted?” Despite Freia’s expectations, Organ Trist was more interested in the new name she called Norn, rather than anything else, really. He already had his fair share of battles, after all. “Ho-ho-o! I guess, in the end, you really did become the better version of yourself! And the ‘brother’ in question – is that sir Keyaru?” The blinded man asked with the same smugness he once boasted with in his grandiose life.
“What’s the point of answering you now? Aren’t we just traitors to you?” The heroine replied with every bit of animosity she had in her. “Hold on, Elly, I’ll get you out of here.” Freia stated, charging her staff with the magic that shaped this entire “world”.
“Heh, aren’t you afraid of what that damn poisoned pigeon might do to you for breaking her rules?” The crimson-haired cutie scoffed, witnessing the entire black dome covering with cracks.
“I don’t care about her rules! All I want is to see you safe!” The sorceress spoke with even more defiance toward Caladrius than Norn ever had in her. If needed, she would challenge this feathered nightmare to a duel, anything, just to save her family.
“I see…” Hawkeye uttered, kneeling before the two girls. All that time, rather than monitoring Freia’s moves, his supernatural senses were aimed outside, to make sure no restless souls cross the fence of magic ice. But now… “I see your eyes, Princess Flare, they’re just like hers. I’m sure; you’ll make Lady Reeharoze proud of you yet.” Now, before he once again departs to the other side, there was one last thing to tell them. First praise, then a claim… “Lady Ellen, I beg of you. The life of Marianna now lies in your hands.” …and finally a plea. With all that said, Organ Trist crumbled, his body turned into black salt. And with it, the entire realm began to collapse in itself…
“Hold tight, Elly…”

And now, there was only one dark dome left. Arguably, the worst of them all, this particular world was to be the prison for Keyaruga… or his cemetery. No doorways to run into, no windows to jump from. He was alone, trapped with hundreds of those who were slain by his hand. Those poor bastards – the restless souls, their minds were so obsessed with hatred, and their grudge – powered by the sheer immortality of their ethereal blackened bodies. This was hell in its purest form. The question is – a hell for who, exactly?
YE-E-E-E-E-EAH!!! IT’S HEALING TIME!!!” Keyaruga snarled and began splattering blood all over the place. Everyone who was touched by that substance became horribly mutated – their heads bloated, their muscles strained so much, they crushed their very bones! “WHAT’S WRONG?! KILL ME!!! KILL ME NOW!!!” The man demanded, dancing around his would-be tormentors with his blade, blessing his foes with the exquisite gift of perpetual agony! Saber in his right hand, Georgius on his left, one complementing another.
Despite what the lad asked, nobody could bring him down. His immortal flesh defied any blade, his bones healed in an instant, his mad frenzy alleviated any pain.
He thought he could kill his enemies for the second and final time, give them proper death in the most excruciating manner. He was wrong…
DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE! AGAIN! AND AGAIN! AND ALL OVER AGA-A-A-A-AIN!!!” The hero yelled chopping off heads and severing limbs! He killed so many, he couldn’t even count the slayings! He murdered the same people over and over, each time their agony being more exquisite then the last!
Kill a man once, he won’t even notice, his rage will only rise! Kill him thrice – he’d waver! Five – and the seeds of fear are sown. Ten – and he’s broken completely!
Keyaruga just couldn’t help himself, he hated these scum so much, he just couldn’t contain all his passionate hatred. It was so strong, that the feeling of pure, raw, primordial wrath transcended every possible modification he had put into himself.
A-A-A-A-A!!! UGH-H-H-H-H!!!” A soldier was weeping, hugging his boot. “S-S-S-S-SPA-A-A-ARE ME-E-E!!!
YO-O-OU!!! I remember you!” The healer spoke, raising the cretin by his neck. “My first kill! You watched me being raped, drugged… BEATEN!!!” The man yawped, slicing off his upper face with one nimble slice. “AND YOU NEVER!!! EVER!!! EVER FUCKING HELPED ME!!!” The lad, tainted by black and red blood, slammed the sentry into the ‘floor’…
A-A-A-A-A!!! PLE-E-E-EASE!!!” …and gleefully sliced off his arms, ignited sparked his left armored hand into a gauntlet of blazing heat!..
GU-GHH-GUU!!! UA-A-A-A-A-A-A!!!” And finally, cauterized the wounds, just so that the retard wouldn’t die too soon.
WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU LOOKING AT?!!!” The crazed avenger yelled, grabbing Leonard, so conveniently nearby, weeping. “YOU SAID, I’VE DONE NOTHING FOR THIS FUCKING KINGDOM?! I’LL SHOW YOU, WHAT I CAN DO NO-O-OW!!!
And so he did, the madman rested his two fingers on the sadist’s forehead. A second passed, and a purple spark had announced the richest form of suffering.
Oh… U-u… Uo-o-o-o-o-o… Khh…” Indeed, although it wasn’t as vocal as previous ones, Keyaruga was more than pleased with the result. He knew of a human having specific nerves, specifically for reacting to pain. And he just overloaded them. Toxic spiders, dangerous medusas, venomous snakes and scorpions – all of them could do that with their poisons. Hell, even Keyaruga could brew neurotoxins. But damn, this thing had one ultimate merit compared to all of those – the instant effect, so potent, in fact, that the victim can’t even cry out from the excruciating pain!
“He-e! That’s a neat trick.” The lad mumbled, approaching a maid, lying on the “floor” like an embryo. Flare’s bodyguard shivered and sucked her thumb, completely lost to this twisted world. Just one little touch… “Pam! You’re already dead!” Keyaruga sneered tapping his armored fingers by her temple.
Uh… Uh… Ugh… W… Wha-?.. A-A-A-A-A-A-AGH-H-H!!!” The woman grabbed her skull, but it was too late. All the blood, bile, and even marrow now came into her brain, bloating it, up until it burst in a fountain of black blood and shining entrails.
“Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!! I FUCKING LOVE IT!!!” The deranged healer laughed so loud, and his presence was so overwhelming now, that nobody even dared to come close to him, let alone attack, unless they wished to become a victim of a new twisted experiment. Oh, their fear, this agonizing panic! They’re giving me a fucking boner! I wanna fuck! I want a woman! Oh, this! This will do nicely!
And so, Keyaruga dropped his saber, unfastened his belt, ripped the dress, slapped that ass which he had found, grabbed it, pushed it in! The woman with a blackened tail was slowly dying of blood loss, but that barely concerned the lad. He grabbed her pelvis and began to move, so fast, so frantic, and so mindless, that no one could see a human in him. No-o, this was a wild beast, slamming his bulging cock into the defenseless female, too tired to react, let alone resist somehow. She wasn’t even tight, just barely warm, but even that was enough. A few minutes of such suffering inflicted on her, and he came, this was a brilliant orgasm, deeply perverted, and twisted to the very core…
Oh, that’s the fucking best! I love it so much!
Keyaruga grabbed her hand, wiped his penis with it, pull back his pants, and…
I don’t remember her. I wonder, who that is.
He pushed the body, rolling it to the back.
“Ha-a-a… Hello again, Kailia…” The mad lad recognized her instantly. An agent, sent to find and assist Eve Reese in her quest, hired by someone named Carol. But that alone wouldn’t be enough to get Keyaruga to brutally rape her. “You’ve killed my Norn, but I spared you. Heh, after Kali left, I tasked you to ward off whoever they sent after my Eve, but… It seems like you’ve failed. Really, really sad.” The healer spoke, resting his left hand on her dying flesh, recovering it in an instant. And just like that… “Oh, fuck!” She nearly stabbed him with a knife. Gods only knew where she got it from… “Sit still.” But then, Keyaruga just pressed his finger on her forehead, and completely shut down her limbs functions. He pitied her… but could do nothing for this miserable leopard woman.
“Haa… Damn, it’s getting boring here.” The hero lamented, picking up his weapon of choice. At this point, he just put it back in its sheath. Only then did he spot a couple of new faces in the crowd of weeping bastards. “You there! You don’t look like you should be here. What’s… wait…”
STAY AWAY FROM ME, MONSTER!!!” The woman cried, she was weeping into her man’s now tainted shirt.
Heh! He-heh! No-no-no-o! Oh no-o-o!” Keyaruga frantically shook his head, unable to believe what he just saw. This was the worst. This… “Anna! Kurt! What… What’re you even doing here?! I… I avenged you! You shouldn’t have…” His parents were there, they stood among the thugs, slavers, robbers, bandits, zealots, murderers… But they… they weren’t one of them…
You killed us, traitor. You raped my wife, after everything she’s done for you. You’re disgusting little shit!” The mighty harvester told him, pointing his war-scythe at the hero. The only thing that held him at bay, though, was his spouse, loudly crying with black tears pouring from her eyes.
“Heh… You… really think I’d…”
No. But you’ve proven it.” Kurt spoke with the coldest possible rage in his voice. Keyaru’s cruelty couldn’t be doubted, after all. Not after everyone he maimed this day. “I don’t give a fuck, what the hell is wrong with you, but I’ll slice your guilty ass as many times as I need.” The older man spoke, pushing Anna aside. And then, he lunged.
Kurt struck as a true warrior – he was swift, accurate, precise – his war scythe – basically a reforged farming tool, grazed Keyaruga’s torso, cut his leg, he even stabbed his foster son through his chest. But… there was no blood.
“Calm down, you two.” The hero demanded, stoically taking hit after hit, like the heavy glaive-like blade was nothing. While Anna crumbled to her knees, lost in her weeping, Kurt wouldn’t stop attacking. “You can’t kill me, I’m immor-…” Barely did the lad say so; before his foster father grabbed the handle in a wide grip, and just swept his head off with one precise strike.
NO-O-O-O-O-O-O!!!” Strangely enough, despite all of the delusions his parents had about him, Anna just couldn’t stand seeing her child being killed so brutally. “A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A!!! WHY-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y?!!!” As Keyaru’s head rolled on the ground, the thugs, at least those who weren’t affected by any of hero’s inventive afflictions, started to get rallied again.
You had it coming, you ungrateful dipshit!” Kurt spat through tightly closed teeth. He couldn’t watch, couldn’t face what he had to do with his adopted prodigy. Even if he was a criminal. Even if…
“I really did…” But the bastards weren’t enjoying the show for too long. Right when the healer seemed to fall, a new body started to grow from his neck-stump, the clothes, the pouches, the weapons – everything turned into ash just to materialize again on the proudly standing conqueror of death itself.
What devilry is this?” Kurt’s reaction was understandable. A mix of fear, anger, and disgust, was all over his tainted face. In turn…
KEYARU-U-U-U!!!” Anna just dashed forward to hug her child. No matter, how disgustingly atrocious his resurrection was, without even looking at the beheaded body that now lied nearby, the woman just went ahead and embraced the lad. She… didn’t seem to be in her right mind, even for a dead soul.
“Anna, I… I…” The shivers began taking a hold of him. His hands, his knees – they trembled so much, this simple touch he though he lost forever, this… This was enough to make him cry. “I’m sorry… I’m so, so, so, so-o-o sorry!..
DIE, FUCKER!!!
THAT YOU HAVE TO SEE ME DOING THIS!!!” Keyaruga yelled, grabbing Leonard by his wrist. Just a little pressure – and he dropped his sword, the weapon faded into nothingness. Then, the man pushed Anna back, punched his foe in the gut, and proudly showed his captive to his family. “Haa… He-heh! He-e-e… This… This is Leonard, Flare’s… right hand…” The hero spoke, this time trying to maintain his sanity, as his parents now cautiously looked at him. “I… I came from the future! I had to rewind time’s flow itself… Because Flare was evil, and he…” Then, the man put his hand onto the barely struggling imbecile, thus transforming him into Keyaru, the motionless child, whose entire mobility, except for breathing, was shut down for the ease of what he was about to do. “I killed Flare! And he took my guilt. Then…” Afterwards, the healer went ahead and summoned raging flames upon his free hand. Kurt and Anna watched motionlessly, as he placed the magic-shrouded palm onto his ‘own’ face, burned it, scourged the blackened flesh with the sorcery he ‘learned’ from Flare… “My trick was revealed, and he headed out to our village, looking just like me. The rest… you know the rest.”
And finally, Keyaruga dropped the motionless doll, unable even to cry out from the excruciating pain the Hero of Healing inflicted upon it. He then faced his parents, still shocked by such a display of merciless brutality, they couldn’t even properly reply, this entire spectacle of bloodshed, mayhem, rape, torture, demonstration of immortality, and now – proofs of metamorphosis – all of that left them utterly silent.
“Kurt, Anna… I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you… But I can’t let you, or any one of these fuckers keep me here! I… I have a family! Freia, Setsuna, Ellen, Eve – I so wanted you to meet them… But you can’t now. You… might not believe me, and I understand that.” The red-eyed lad uttered, as his posture slouched more and more, along with his fading bravery. “This is what it’s like to be a man! I must be strong! I have to be ruthless now, so that nobody would challenge me in the future!” The man added, now turning his back to his foster parents. He stood straight, he stretched his shoulders, took a deep breath, and… “LISTEN HERE, YOU FUCKING MONSTERS!!! WHAT YOU’VE FELT NOW IS BUT A TINY BIT OF WHAT I’LL DO TO YOU, ONCE I’M FUCKING DEAD!!! NOW YOU WILL GO INTO THE DEEPEST PITS OF HELL, AND WHEN YOU’RE THERE, PRAY I DON’T FUCKING DIE ANYTIME SOON!!! BECAUSE WHEN I FINALLY KICK THIS SHITTY BUCKET, I’LL FIND EACH OF YOU, AND WE’LL BE PLAYING FOR THE WHOLE OF ETERNITY!!! BUT WHY WAIT, WHEN WE CAN HAVE SOME FUN NOW, HU-U-U-UH?!!!
The speech was told, the impact made. His words were so zealous, so passionately intimidating, that the weeping fools now reached a whole new depth of despair.
GET US OUT OF HERE!!!
SAVE ME-E-E-E!!!
HE’S THE DEVIL!!! DE-E-EVIL!!!
UA-A-A-A-A-A-A!!!
KUUNDA (I’m so scared)!!!
HE-E-E-E-E-ELP!!!
And so, this entire crowd, this mob of immortal corpses, just ran away. Everyone, who could still stand on their feet, began fleeing in panic, trampling each other in the process. What they failed to notice, though, is that the dome is endless only for its main victim. Everyone else just came up against the invisible wall.
The Trial of Heart – its goal is twisted, to be certain. To pass it would mean releasing the dead souls from their grudge toward you. A saint would shift it to forgiveness, but the deranged avenger pumped so much fear in those criminals, that their hatred was replaced by the purest and most animalistic terror. Still, with the task done, the souls began to dissipate in a white light. They would finally be free…
REMEMBER!!! YOU’VE NOT SEEN THE LAST OF ME!!! WE’LL MEET AGAIN, YOU FUCKING SHITBAGS!!!” Unfortunately for them, though, Keyaruga’s long shadow still loomed above them all. And such, even in relief, the crowd continued to cry, to sob, to wail, to…
“Keya… ru…” But not all left because of dread. When the avenger turned around, his foster mother, crumbling into white flakes, stood on her tiptoes to give him a last kiss on the cheek. “You’ve grown… so much…”
And so, she faded. Kurt quickly followed, although it wasn’t forgiveness or benevolence that filled his raging soul. No, it was an impotent acceptance. He saw Keyaruga as a mirror, in which he saw himself, before he deserted the royal guard and found himself in Alban.
“Someday… you’ll follow my path…” And this was what the man spoke at last, dropping his war-scythe to the ethereal ground. With no souls to redeem in the most twisted of ways, the dome of blackness quickly turned insufferably bright.
The Trial of Heart had been passed.
submitted by resurrective to RedoOfHealer [link] [comments]


2023.05.28 13:57 Colt_Leasure The family next door disappeared. The answer to their vanishing is in the woods.

1
I live in a suburb surrounded by forest. My house is in a row of other properties built next to a tree line. The neighborhood was always quiet. The sounds of crickets, birds, and sight of black bears were routine on most summer days.
The scenic area was something I was always grateful for. I lived completely alone since the death of my parents. An accidental fire took both of their lives. Once I collected my inheritance, I relocated to a much more peaceful region. I had always fantasized about moving there.
I tried to start a relationship with Samantha. I had gone to High School with her sixteen years before. She had gone on to become a respected Detective. My attempt at something long lasting with her failed. She was too career oriented. I was reeling from grief. Focusing on building something meaningful with her was a pipe dream.
Things around my community changed once the Murphy family went missing.
The first sign that something was off on that Wednesday was how their blinds had closed. Their silver Chevy Chrysler remained parked in the driveway.
A tennis instructor at the country club noticed the wife of that house did not show up for the program. He called their number to make sure everything was alright. When no one responded, he notified the authorities. Rumors abounded immediately among the home owners association about an alleged affair. The gossip only furthered when the married couple and their three kids were not found in the abode.
I watched from my balcony as the patrolmen roped the place off with caution tape. The domicile was a three story building with brick chimney’s and a few peaked roofs in the style of English towers. They were beige, light blue and crimson.
On the morning of the Murphy’s desertion of society, the architecture became a hollow image. It was one that was once filled with activity and life.
The law did what they could. Any success they may have had in the investigation was secret. A few months passed by and they removed the caution tape.
I followed the on-line police logs. The weather was pristine and clear the day they vanished. The fact that there were no witnesses to what direction they may have gone disturbed me.
I had heard how the man, Frank Murphy, had a bit of a temper and always had a bourbon in hand. I had heard mutual friends describe him as an alcoholic in denial of his servitude to liquor. He was an indignant individual who knew no true repercussions for his behavior. He always had bail money from a software company he founded and sold a long time ago.
I was never close to that family, but I peered out at their vacant house far more than I ever had. I was in need of an answer. What could have happened?
2
I called Samantha one evening as I sat on my bed, wondering how she would respond to my reaching out. We were never argumentative or on bad terms. I still worried about her reaction, and hoped it would not be a dismissive one.
I heard her say hello. Her voice still impressed me. I had almost forgotten how silky her tone was. I knew it could change to a much firmer pitch when she was interviewing a suspect.
“Hi, Sam. I’d like to know if you’d be free tomorrow for a cup of coffee. We can go to that place, The Bean Field, off Pond road. It’s been a while and I know you have a lot to tell me about what’s new in your life.”
There was a pause on the other end, and for a second a bout of anxiety hit me. I judged my own words as robotic, stilted, and sure to push her away. I reasoned she was summoning an excuse to get out of having to interact with me. How dare I presume she would even entertain the notion of having a meeting.
“That sounds great,” she said. “Tomorrow is my day off, luckily for you. I’m in the middle of an incident right now. It’s a five car pile-up about forty minutes from where you live. I’ve gotta run. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
When she hung up, I was triumphant. I looked at our old text conversations. I realized we had not been in communication with each other for over twelve months. Now was my opportunity to reconcile that gap of unintended avoidance. I knew it would be an undeserved opportunity.
3
I sat outside of the cafe the next morning at a black metal table. I had a view of rolling hills dotted with trees. A highway with multitudinous shrubberies sat on either side of it. I sipped a piccolo latte while waiting for her.
When she arrived and stepped out of her hatchback in the parking lot, her appearance floored me. She had not dressed up for our supposed date, but that did not make a difference. She had arrived from the gym and wore shorts and a top set. She donned a gray and green hoodie.
She sat across from me and reached for the menu.
“Can you go to the front and order me avocado toast?” Samantha asked. “I’ll also take a mocha with a few shots of espresso. Please.”
I did exactly that. When I returned with her items, she apologized for consuming her meal in less than two minutes.
“I hadn’t eaten since five PM yesterday,” she said between sips.
“I understand,” I said. “I doubt you ever have a consistent schedule anymore.”
“You’re right, but that’s why I have to enjoy my free time when I can.”
We settled into talking about what had happened since we last saw each other. I referenced my trying to learn another language (French) with the hopes of moving to Europe or Canada.
After fifteen minutes of small talk, I asked her about work, but I did so with caution. It started with me wondering about what the call she was on when we were on the phone was about.
“A drunk driver blew a stop sign and hit two other vehicles,” she said. “It was ugly. A few people died. We’ll see if the man in silk pajamas gives him the proper sentence or a traffic citation.”
“You know, I’m curious about what happened to the Murphy’s, if they’re hurt or not.”
“You and everyone else,” she said. “We’ve been getting so many witness accounts, and so far they’ve all been bogus. All I know is what I saw when I got there.”
“I didn’t know you were one of the responders,” I said.
“Yeah. Something about the place was off from the moment I walked in. I found heavy items in placed they should not have been in. The toolbox was not in the garage but on the second story. A disassembled snowblower lay scattered everywhere in pieces. The oven door was on their bed. Frank Murphy was not the strongest guy in the world, either. For him to cause the kind of property damage I saw doesn’t make a lot of sense. At the risk of sounding crazy, inexplicable things happened when I was there.”
“Like what?”
“I was under the impression that something was playing a trick on me. Electrical outlets sparked a few times out of nowhere. The ceiling fan would go from still to spinning when I looked up at it. Books would fall off of the shelves. A volume on black magic, of all things, almost hit the top of my head when I walked on by. Another book about fairies collapsed with it.”
“So the home intruder set up a bunch of weird diversions,” I said. “I’ve heard of that before. These killers or kidnappers want the victims to think there was more than one of them. It’s so their account’s disputed in court.”
I’ll tell you right now,” she said, “we didn’t find any outside DNA.”
“So it’s a case of family annihilation,” I said as I took a long swig of my beverage. “I don’t know if you can substantiate the facts, but a few people have said that Emily had a big life insurance policy. Frank knew about. He may have been using steroids and having an affair, and that could have contributed to-“
It occurred to me that she eyed me with suspicion, as though I was digging too deep. I could also tell she regretted letting information about the forensic results slip.
She stood up and stared at me with a flash of anger in her eyes.
“I thought you wanted to piece something back together with me,” she said. “I didn’t know you wanted to play armchair investigator like every true crime fan. You know, your parents were kind. I wish you’d follow their example. I’ll let you get the bill.”
She walked back to her vehicle and I knew it would be a while before we conversed again.
Later that night, I stared out my window at the Murphy home. I saw a star shoot across the sky, and it almost seemed ready to plummet into the side of their house.
4
The next evening, I took a walk around the suburb. I spotted a thin line of dried red fluid along a path which led into the woods.
I was attempting to get in some movement to get my mind off of the events of the day before. Negativity and self-deprecation were all-consuming. I felt the need for a long saunter to try and release some of the meandering and pessimistic energy I accrued.
When I saw the carmine ribbon along the dark soil, a sense of worry filled me. I was not that far removed from a cul-de-sac with palatial manors a block away. There was no way I could speculate on me being the first to see it.
Could it be a hint where they are? I thought.
The notion seemed absurd, a reach.
I had read in the local newspaper that there was an uptick in bobcat sightings due to recent wildfires. The animals relocated during prior summers. I reasoned it could have been a house pet which became a victim after it got snatched away into the overgrowth.
I followed it, and the uneven road of red stretched on past many bushes and over logs. A shrill chirping in the background became louder. I moved between two conifers with petrified wood and found myself in a part of the forest I had never been in.
There were so many branches that it blacked out the falling sun. Ahead of me was a clearing. A swarm of gnats and mosquitos descended upon it. The sea of insects soared together in chaotic unison as a wave among the sedges and lichen.
I looked towards the right of the meadow and saw a ramshackle tree house. I trailed the red line towards it. I peered in through one of the windows and saw a statue of a woman with wings. I knew she was not an angel. There was no halo, nor were her organs of flight feathery, but rather they were thin and bat-like.
I entered the place knowing the danger I was putting myself in. I had tracked mud in and was oblivious to the incriminating actions I partook in. I was trespassing and risking stumbling into whoever may have owned the land. My curiosity got the better of me and caused me to keep moving forward.
The room was sparse but decorated. The walls had carvings of men and women, also with wings. Their bodies held yogic-like positions as they reached out to one another mid-air.
A piece of parchment with a few words sat in the corner. I picked it up and read it:
‘Humans are the greatest living beings to play tricks on. Especially when they go through a time of drought and extreme cold.’
I sat it down where I found it, unsure of what to make of it.
I touched the central figure’s neck. The chiseling was not only cold, but below freezing, as though I had submerged my hand in a polar pool.
The noise of some kind of bird attempting to escape a confined space reverberated below me.
Something brushed against my leg. I looked down and saw an army of glow bugs float up between the cracks, and they circled around me. They were like dragon flies. At the time I had labeled them as such, but in reality their shapes were far too humanoid.
I walked back home. I went to bed and slept. I was still perturbed at the wine-colored avenue and cabin.
I awoke in the middle of the night after something tapped at my walls from the outside. I peered out and saw the Murphy home, and observed how the blinds over their casements were wide open. A hive of mites filled every inch of the interior.
5
I found the decomposing body of a chipmunk stuffed into the tailpipe of my vehicle the next day.
This horrified me, because the deliberation of the act was too evident to ignore. While I did have a surveillance camera on my porch, the coverage of my vehicle was non-existent. I calmed myself down by thinking it was likely a tempestuous child. I retrieved a pair of medical gloves and disposed of the creature before going on with the errand. The rotting body had a horrible smell. It was like an onion left out in humidity for days, and my stomach turned as I sealed it off in the garbage with the lid.
The next morning, I looked in my closet. Some of my favorite shirts had disintegrated. Holes and patches of destroyed fabric littered them. I found it odd, and even searched on-line for possible answers before I decided it had to be a moth infestation. I sprayed lavender. Information on a website statEd that was a cure-all, but the problem persisted. It bothered me that I had not seen a single aphid, but I pushed that concern away.
A few days afterward, when I had tossed my disheveled pieces of attire, the power in my house went out. This was not such an unusual occurrence during the heavy winter months. For it to occur in the summer was strange.
It was a rolling blackout. Once my house had electricity again, I noticed how someone moved items around.
Something turned my kitchen table on its side and stuffed into a part of the kitchen I would have never placed it in.
I grabbed a butcher knife and did a sweep of the premises, and I did not find anything. There were no footprints or signs of anything else tampered with. When I got to the second story, birds nested along the tree tops, and the repugnant odor of fish attacked me.
My allergies became insufferable over the next month. Nothing purchased over the counter which helped it.
6
I went to the beach on an overcast day. After roughly half a mile of walking, I saw an illustration someone had drawn in the sand with a stick. It was of a being with airfoils.
A light precipitation had fallen earlier. As I trailed along the former part of the sand, a glint in the corner of my eye caught my attention. I looked out at the water and saw what appeared to be a light blue outline of wings beneath the surface.
A phosphorescent wall of creatures surrounded me.
As the days march on, I know I am stalked by something I cannot rebel against, let alone have any agency or autonomy over. My pillowcases have shredded, the pipes in my basement have burst, and someone left me a gift at my front door. When I opened it, I saw mice scurry away. It was a book, and it was one about the history of fairies.
I picked it up and had to blow the dust off of it. Someone had stolen it from a musty subterranean chamber and brought it here.
I theorized that it was Samantha, passive aggressive with her disappointment in me. Yet I flip through its pages and find it all too familiar. I cannot help but wonder if this is a sign of something far more dangerous.
submitted by Colt_Leasure to Colt_Leasure [link] [comments]


2023.05.28 13:55 Colt_Leasure The family next door disappeared. The answer to their vanishing is in the woods.

I live in a suburb surrounded by forest. My house is in a row of other properties built next to a tree line. The neighborhood was always quiet. The sounds of crickets, birds, and sight of black bears were routine on most summer days.
The scenic area was something I was always grateful for. I lived completely alone since the death of my parents. An accidental fire took both of their lives. Once I collected my inheritance, I relocated to a much more peaceful region. I had always fantasized about moving there.
I tried to start a relationship with Samantha. I had gone to High School with her sixteen years before. She had gone on to become a respected Detective. My attempt at something long lasting with her failed. She was too career oriented. I was reeling from grief. Focusing on building something meaningful with her was a pipe dream.
Things around my community changed once the Murphy family went missing.
The first sign that something was off on that Wednesday was how their blinds had closed. Their silver Chevy Chrysler remained parked in the driveway.
A tennis instructor at the country club noticed the wife of that house did not show up for the program. He called their number to make sure everything was alright. When no one responded, he notified the authorities. Rumors abounded immediately among the home owners association about an alleged affair. The gossip only furthered when the married couple and their three kids were not found in the abode.
I watched from my balcony as the patrolmen roped the place off with caution tape. The domicile was a three story building with brick chimney’s and a few peaked roofs in the style of English towers. They were beige, light blue and crimson.
On the morning of the Murphy’s desertion of society, the architecture became a hollow image. It was one that was once filled with activity and life.
The law did what they could. Any success they may have had in the investigation was secret. A few months passed by and they removed the caution tape.
I followed the on-line police logs. The weather was pristine and clear the day they vanished. The fact that there were no witnesses to what direction they may have gone disturbed me.
I had heard how the man, Frank Murphy, had a bit of a temper and always had a bourbon in hand. I had heard mutual friends describe him as an alcoholic in denial of his servitude to liquor. He was an indignant individual who knew no true repercussions for his behavior. He always had bail money from a software company he founded and sold a long time ago.
I was never close to that family, but I peered out at their vacant house far more than I ever had. I was in need of an answer. What could have happened?
*
I called Samantha one evening as I sat on my bed, wondering how she would respond to my reaching out. We were never argumentative or on bad terms. I still worried about her reaction, and hoped it would not be a dismissive one.
I heard her say hello. Her voice still impressed me. I had almost forgotten how silky her tone was. I knew it could change to a much firmer pitch when she was interviewing a suspect.
“Hi, Sam. I’d like to know if you’d be free tomorrow for a cup of coffee. We can go to that place, The Bean Field, off Pond road. It’s been a while and I know you have a lot to tell me about what’s new in your life.”
There was a pause on the other end, and for a second a bout of anxiety hit me. I judged my own words as robotic, stilted, and sure to push her away. I reasoned she was summoning an excuse to get out of having to interact with me. How dare I presume she would even entertain the notion of having a meeting.
“That sounds great,” she said. “Tomorrow is my day off, luckily for you. I’m in the middle of an incident right now. It’s a five car pile-up about forty minutes from where you live. I’ve gotta run. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
When she hung up, I was triumphant. I looked at our old text conversations. I realized we had not been in communication with each other for over twelve months. Now was my opportunity to reconcile that gap of unintended avoidance. I knew it would be an undeserved opportunity.
*
I sat outside of the cafe the next morning at a black metal table. I had a view of rolling hills dotted with trees. A highway with multitudinous shrubberies sat on either side of it. I sipped a piccolo latte while waiting for her.
When she arrived and stepped out of her hatchback in the parking lot, her appearance floored me. She had not dressed up for our supposed date, but that did not make a difference. She had arrived from the gym and wore shorts and a top set. She donned a gray and green hoodie.
She sat across from me and reached for the menu.
“Can you go to the front and order me avocado toast?” Samantha asked. “I’ll also take a mocha with a few shots of espresso. Please.”
I did exactly that. When I returned with her items, she apologized for consuming her meal in less than two minutes.
“I hadn’t eaten since five PM yesterday,” she said between sips.
“I understand,” I said. “I doubt you ever have a consistent schedule anymore.”
“You’re right, but that’s why I have to enjoy my free time when I can.”
We settled into talking about what had happened since we last saw each other. I referenced my trying to learn another language (French) with the hopes of moving to Europe or Canada.
After fifteen minutes of small talk, I asked her about work, but I did so with caution. It started with me wondering about what the call she was on when we were on the phone was about.
“A drunk driver blew a stop sign and hit two other vehicles,” she said. “It was ugly. A few people died. We’ll see if the man in silk pajamas gives him the proper sentence or a traffic citation.”
“You know, I’m curious about what happened to the Murphy’s, if they’re hurt or not.”
“You and everyone else,” she said. “We’ve been getting so many witness accounts, and so far they’ve all been bogus. All I know is what I saw when I got there.”
“I didn’t know you were one of the responders,” I said.
“Yeah. Something about the place was off from the moment I walked in. I found heavy items in placed they should not have been in. The toolbox was not in the garage but on the second story. A disassembled snowblower lay scattered everywhere in pieces. The oven door was on their bed. Frank Murphy was not the strongest guy in the world, either. For him to cause the kind of property damage I saw doesn’t make a lot of sense. At the risk of sounding crazy, inexplicable things happened when I was there.”
“Like what?”
“I was under the impression that something was playing a trick on me. Electrical outlets sparked a few times out of nowhere. The ceiling fan would go from still to spinning when I looked up at it. Books would fall off of the shelves. A volume on black magic, of all things, almost hit the top of my head when I walked on by. Another book about fairies collapsed with it.”
“So the home intruder set up a bunch of weird diversions,” I said. “I’ve heard of that before. These killers or kidnappers want the victims to think there was more than one of them. It’s so their account’s disputed in court.”
I’ll tell you right now,” she said, “we didn’t find any outside DNA.”
“So it’s a case of family annihilation,” I said as I took a long swig of my beverage. “I don’t know if you can substantiate the facts, but a few people have said that Emily had a big life insurance policy. Frank knew about. He may have been using steroids and having an affair, and that could have contributed to-“
It occurred to me that she eyed me with suspicion, as though I was digging too deep. I could also tell she regretted letting information about the forensic results slip.
She stood up and stared at me with a flash of anger in her eyes.
“I thought you wanted to piece something back together with me,” she said. “I didn’t know you wanted to play armchair investigator like every true crime fan. You know, your parents were kind. I wish you’d follow their example. I’ll let you get the bill.”
She walked back to her vehicle and I knew it would be a while before we conversed again.
Later that night, I stared out my window at the Murphy home. I saw a star shoot across the sky, and it almost seemed ready to plummet into the side of their house.
*
The next evening, I took a walk around the suburb. I spotted a thin line of dried red fluid along a path which led into the woods.
I was attempting to get in some movement to get my mind off of the events of the day before. Negativity and self-deprecation were all-consuming. I felt the need for a long saunter to try and release some of the meandering and pessimistic energy I accrued.
When I saw the carmine ribbon along the dark soil, a sense of worry filled me. I was not that far removed from a cul-de-sac with palatial manors a block away. There was no way I could speculate on me being the first to see it.
Could it be a hint where they are? I thought.
The notion seemed absurd, a reach.
I had read in the local newspaper that there was an uptick in bobcat sightings due to recent wildfires. The animals relocated during prior summers. I reasoned it could have been a house pet which became a victim after it got snatched away into the overgrowth.
I followed it, and the uneven road of red stretched on past many bushes and over logs. A shrill chirping in the background became louder. I moved between two conifers with petrified wood and found myself in a part of the forest I had never been in.
There were so many branches that it blacked out the falling sun. Ahead of me was a clearing. A swarm of gnats and mosquitos descended upon it. The sea of insects soared together in chaotic unison as a wave among the sedges and lichen.
I looked towards the right of the meadow and saw a ramshackle tree house. I trailed the red line towards it. I peered in through one of the windows and saw a statue of a woman with wings. I knew she was not an angel. There was no halo, nor were her organs of flight feathery, but rather they were thin and bat-like.
I entered the place knowing the danger I was putting myself in. I had tracked mud in and was oblivious to the incriminating actions I partook in. I was trespassing and risking stumbling into whoever may have owned the land. My curiosity got the better of me and caused me to keep moving forward.
The room was sparse but decorated. The walls had carvings of men and women, also with wings. Their bodies held yogic-like positions as they reached out to one another mid-air.
A piece of parchment with a few words sat in the corner. I picked it up and read it:
‘Humans are the greatest living beings to play tricks on. Especially when they go through a time of drought and extreme cold.’
I sat it down where I found it, unsure of what to make of it.
I touched the central figure’s neck. The chiseling was not only cold, but below freezing, as though I had submerged my hand in a polar pool.
The noise of some kind of bird attempting to escape a confined space reverberated below me.
Something brushed against my leg. I looked down and saw an army of glow bugs float up between the cracks, and they circled around me. They were like dragon flies. At the time I had labeled them as such, but in reality their shapes were far too humanoid.
I walked back home. I went to bed and slept. I was still perturbed at the wine-colored avenue and cabin.
I awoke in the middle of the night after something tapped at my walls from the outside. I peered out and saw the Murphy home, and observed how the blinds over their casements were wide open. A hive of mites filled every inch of the interior.
*
I found the decomposing body of a chipmunk stuffed into the tailpipe of my vehicle the next day.
This horrified me, because the deliberation of the act was too evident to ignore. While I did have a surveillance camera on my porch, the coverage of my vehicle was non-existent. I calmed myself down by thinking it was likely a tempestuous child. I retrieved a pair of medical gloves and disposed of the creature before going on with the errand. The rotting body had a horrible smell. It was like an onion left out in humidity for days, and my stomach turned as I sealed it off in the garbage with the lid.
The next morning, I looked in my closet. Some of my favorite shirts had disintegrated. Holes and patches of destroyed fabric littered them. I found it odd, and even searched on-line for possible answers before I decided it had to be a moth infestation. I sprayed lavender. Information on a website statEd that was a cure-all, but the problem persisted. It bothered me that I had not seen a single aphid, but I pushed that concern away.
A few days afterward, when I had tossed my disheveled pieces of attire, the power in my house went out. This was not such an unusual occurrence during the heavy winter months. For it to occur in the summer was strange.
It was a rolling blackout. Once my house had electricity again, I noticed how someone moved items around.
Something turned my kitchen table on its side and stuffed into a part of the kitchen I would have never placed it in.
I grabbed a butcher knife and did a sweep of the premises, and I did not find anything. There were no footprints or signs of anything else tampered with. When I got to the second story, birds nested along the tree tops, and the repugnant odor of fish attacked me.
My allergies became insufferable over the next month. Nothing purchased over the counter which helped it.
*
I went to the beach on an overcast day. After roughly half a mile of walking, I saw an illustration someone had drawn in the sand with a stick. It was of a being with airfoils.
A light precipitation had fallen earlier. As I trailed along the former part of the sand, a glint in the corner of my eye caught my attention. I looked out at the water and saw what appeared to be a light blue outline of wings beneath the surface.
A phosphorescent wall of creatures surrounded me.
As the days march on, I know I am stalked by something I cannot rebel against, let alone have any agency or autonomy over. My pillowcases have shredded, the pipes in my basement have burst, and someone left me a gift at my front door. When I opened it, I saw mice scurry away. It was a book, and it was one about the history of fairies.
I picked it up and had to blow the dust off of it. Someone had stolen it from a musty subterranean chamber and brought it here.
I theorized that it was Samantha, passive aggressive with her disappointment in me. Yet I flip through its pages and find it all too familiar. I cannot help but wonder if this is a sign of something far more dangerous.
submitted by Colt_Leasure to nosleep [link] [comments]


2023.05.28 13:27 wheresthelambsauceee Voosh quiz - win a free game

Hi vaushites. I found a steam key for a game that i already have in my account, so i thought i would give it away to my fellow shitters. But first you gotta prove you're worthy
The key format is 12334-45667-78890. Replace the numbers with the corresponding number(s) or letter(s) you can work out from the clue. All clues are related to Vaush or something Vaush has talked about.
This is so autistic. Good luck gamers
1 - First letter of the surname of a philosopher that Vaush once referred to in a debate as a "miserable, bitter incel"
2 - Conspiracy theorists love this letter. Associated with the phrase "WWG1WGA"
3 - 19xx, birth year of "Team TERF" comedian
4 - Initials of gaming video essayist Vaush constantly praises
5 - First letter of the surname of meatball fascist
6 - 20xx, year that the Iraq war began
7 - First two letters of a place that famously wept after Vaush's absence
8 - PVxx, Vaush streamed 24 hours of Halo to fundraise for this org
9 - How many years ago was same-sex marriage legalized in all US states
0 - First letter of rhythm action game that Vaush still hasN'T PLAYED THE REST OF ON STREAM
-
EDIT: Solved by u/Sentric490. Answers here
1 - H for Heidegger
2 - Q
3 - 73 (Dave Chappelle)
4 - JA for Joseph Anderson
5 - D for DeSantis
6 - 03
7 - TA for Tacoma
8 - 22
9 - 8
0 - H for Hi-FI Rush
submitted by wheresthelambsauceee to okbuddyvowsh [link] [comments]


2023.05.28 11:05 cherie_bun CALCULUS RANT

I know i'm supposed to review ngayon dahil finals na namin sa calculus bukas since nanganganib na grades ko and I can feel na mag ssummer ako, I just wanna rant how its so hard to study specially kung yung prof is hindi magaling magexplain in detail. Ang hirap sumunod and the reference book is answers lang meron without steps paano siya na solve. Minsan inaask ko nalang sarile ko if is it me or the prof HAHAHAHA. Sa examples madadali lang pero pag quiz or exams halos iba na yung questions, if its too late for me, I just wish na effective yung prof for the special term
submitted by cherie_bun to Tomasino [link] [comments]


2023.05.28 10:30 deathB4dessert Forged in Valhallah Chapter 1 (SkyKnight series, book 5)

Behind the larger moon of Nebo, the large hulking mass of ship named Glazier, was holding its geostationary orbit as the battle commenced below on the planet of Valhallah. Injured and inactive Marines, Sol Stellar Infantry, and Vaalorian Navy personnel walked the halls of the great ship, or were held in the Medical bay. Medical suites were filled to capacity and overflowing with casualties. Injured Vaalor and Humans were everywhere. Several Cariolinous could be found to be bandaged or missing bits or limbs. Blaine woke to the sound of a medical examination table beeping away in the background, and instantly regretted moving his head, which pounded like a bass drum. “OOooh, fuck! My head! What the fuck happ- UNJHH! Mmmff, fuck! That’s not good!” He said, looking down at his ribs which were bandaged and bloody. Looking around, he noticed he was alone, and so tried to heal himself. The flames ignited around his palms; and as he focused, a rib snapped back into place, almost rendering him unconscious. He cursed under his breath, and was about to try again, when Constance walked in. “Ahh! Captain! You’re awake! Good! Good… So, you’re not going to jump up and break my wrist so you can get back into the fight, are you? I must say, I’m no longer interested in trying to stop you. But, my sister is.” She said, looking him over. “What? Why would Glam want to stop me? She was all for getting away from the Aquila, when we were on our way here…” Blaine asked, puzzled. “She’s a mommy, now.” Constance said. “Oh.” Blaine croaked. “Are you sure you should be sitting up? You don’t sound too good. You do understand, you got lucky. You caught a round just as you came onto the shuttle, and therefore the others were able to slow the bleed long enough for you to make it aboard the Glazier. We were able to stabilize you with some donor blood, luckily enough. There’s two universal human donors on this craft right now, but there was three. Contingency Captain Richter was killed in action yesterday.” Constance said. Blaine groaned again. “Fuck. I’m gonna miss that asshole.” He said, a heavy weight seeming to slam into his heart. “You knew the Contingency Captain well, I assume?” Constance said, trying to gauge his mental state. “We were in a lot of situations together. We used to refer to him as ‘the human earthquake’. He was a demolitions specialist, Ms. Helsbane.” Blaine said. “How many made it out of Zubrim?” “Well, thanks to your quick efforts, Zubrim was lost without many casualties. We expected more. Twelve Sihn Rifles and all of Zubrim Air Defense made it out. General Sihn is alive and well, and you even saved two Seals. Marconia Traviar, and Ah’lahn Capia, both Seals of their own respective SkyKnight contingents. Here… you read the report. I expect you’re not going anywhere for a few days…” Constance said, and handed him a qwikslate. “Your translator is working flawlessly, Constance. Thought I’d say…” Blaine said, as he accepted the qwikslate. “The translator is off. I spent the last three months learning English. How am I doing?” Constance said, smiling expectantly. “Really freaking good! That’s really impressive! Three months?!” Blaine said, astonished. “I’ve always been a fast learner.” Constance mused, happily. “That’s good…” Blaine said, distracted by the qwikslate. “I’ll… um… Leave you to it, then?” Constance said, and walked out, not waiting for an answer. “Yeah…” Blaine said, not paying attention. He tapped the qwikslate screen, and looked at the HUDvid recordings for Zubrim, and Operation Black Watch. He played through several recordings, taking in separate angles of the battle, trying to recreate a 3-d picture in his mind of the chaos. He rewatched his HUDvid, and realized what had really happened. As he’d run from the crash site to the Fort, he’d unknowingly passed within a hundred yards of the Mahl front lines. They had seen him, but he’d been too busy with trying to reach the Fort to notice. His HUDvid had recorded their positions, however. Five rows of at least a hundred Mahl warriors, had watched him limp passed, within a mere twenty yards of them. They hadn’t reacted, or broken cover at all. But, they had obviously taken notice of him if his HUDvid was to be believed. Blaine realized then, that these were no ordinary Mahl. These were well trained and disciplined warfighters, and they were leagues apart from the Mahl that had attacked Sol, in both space and capability. They were well armed, with plasma rifles and several recognizable firearms in their midst. Some of them, American made. Blaine saw the rifles from his homeland, and felt a pang of guilt and hatred in the same moment. He found new drive in that moment, and reignited the blue flames, trying again to fix his shredded insides. He felt things twist and knit, and a feeling of intense nausea welled up within him. Finally, he could handle the nausea no more, and he extinguished the flames and promptly vomited bile. Laying back against the bed, he felt his mind wander, and fell unconscious again. Sometime during his slumber, Constance came back in to check his bandages, and almost lost her mind when she saw the healed wounds. She remained silent, but quickly left and returned with Captain Krinski, and Glam. They waited in the medical suite until he woke up. “Mmmuh, Mornin’ Cap’n. What’s up?” Blaine said, coming around groggily. “I muzt know… how? Jhoo are healedt! Just jyesterday, jhoo ver on Deat’s doorshtep! How are jhoo alife?” Anastasia said. “Uhh…” Blaine said, hesitantly. “Look, I don’t care if whatever you did was illegal. We have a lot of injured who could benefit from the technology.” Constance said, eagerly. “Uhh… It’s… not technology?” Blaine said, hesitant still. “Then what is it?” Constance begged. “I need to know! There are people who need this, desperately!” “Spirit Fire.” Blaine said, looking at Glam. “Like, what happened to Fern when he died?” Glam said, curious. “Kinda. Spirit Fire cannot be wielded by the dead. But, the dead are the source. It is the power to heal, or destroy by fire. And it’s extremely rare. My great grandad could barely do what I can, and it’s got serious side effects…” Blaine said. “How does it work?” Constance said, desperately still trying to bottle it for later use. “The Ancestors choose an individual to heal others, by the energies of the Ancestral Eather, through the conduit of the chosen individual. Depending on the physical strength of the individual( I presume), the power can be super-strong, or mild. The energies are specific to the one being healed and the virtuosity of the act. What’s more, the energies can cause women to become fatally attracted to the individual if it’s a man, and vice versa. Also, healing oneself can be a horrible experience, let me tell you!” Blaine said at length. “Now, promise me on pain of death, that you’re never going to tell anyone. I’m serious!” He added, with a glare. “Y-yes! Of course!” Constance said, taken aback. “I don’t belief jhoo, Captink. Show meh. Or, I vill hafv jhoo trown in shainz, for lyink tooh jyur feddow vorfighterz!” Anastasia said, snarling slightly. “Captain, I believe him-” Glam said, trying to intervene before things went awry. “VELL, I DON’T! Andt ziss is shtill mine craft! VHAT DO I HAFV TOOH SAY OR DO, TOOH MAKE ZHAT CLEAR, CAPTINK?!” Anastasia roared. Three Brasscar stepped into the doorway, all sporting tasers, at that moment. “Uhm… This is going to get a hell of a lot more complicated the more people you involve, Captain. By the very nature of what they might see or experience! You do understand that if I am telling you the truth(which I really am), that you cannot keep it a secret with so many involved, right?” Blaine replied. “Corrinda, Please brink zeh Corporal in? I’m churr Captink Preiss vill not argue againsht healink hiz own crroo…” Anastasia said to one of the Brasscar. “Yes, Ma’am. “ Collinda said, and went to retrieve the aformentioned individual. “It doesn’t matter, then, if you end up getting me killed. Fine… So beit.” Blaine sighed, and sat up. At the same moment, Collinda walked back in carrying a very gravely injured Japfey on a stretcher, aided by yet another Brasscar. Blaine stood up and walked unsteadily to where the two Brasscar held the stretcher between them. “Corporal… You can’t tell anyone, clear?” Blaine said, as Corporal Japfey looked up at him with a wan smile and a distant stare. “Sure, Cap! I’ma butterfly!” Japfey said, his eyes crossing slightly. “And I’m a lepidopterist.” Blaine chuckled. He focused on the blue fire, and heard seven separate gasps as everyone collectively drew a deep breath of astonishment. Japfey shook his head, and looked around him. “Cap? The fuck, Sir? What’s going on?” “I’ll let you read the report and watch your HUDvid, Corporal. After which, you will speak of it to nobody. Is that clear?” Blaine repeated. “Y-yessir! I’m just slightly confused- how did I get here, and how did you get better? I watched your drop, remember?” Japfey said, stunned. “Watch the HUDvids, Japfey.” Blaine said, wearily. “Satisfied, Captain Krinski?” “I’m… Yah, Captink. I ahm satisfiedt. Jhoo may leave unhinderdt, andt ooll here are svorn tooh secretsee, jah.” Anastasia said, still in shock. “But-” Constance began. “No… C’mon, Sis. There’s other ways.” Glam said, realizing that what Blaine had been saying about his life being in jeopardy wasn’t just idle chat. Glam guided Constance out, who was still struggling to keep Blaine in her sight. “But, Glamrica! He could… Stop, dammit! I can walk on my own, girl!” Constance protested. “Then DO SO! The Captain needs to leave, and get some rest on his own ship, for HIS safety!” Glam snapped at her, shoving her out of the room. “Jess… for jyur safety, Captink… Please return tooh zeh Aquila.” Anastasia said, suddenly realizing the implications as well. “Yess’m. Are any others of my crew on board, Captain Krinski?” Blaine asked, as an afterthought. “Jess. Narah Sihn arrived ziss mornink. She’s vell, just berry scaredt. Her Fadder didn’t make it tooh zeh Imperial Palace, and zerr is no vord on his veraboutz…” Anastasia said. “Vy? Vhat is zoh important about zhat?” She added as Blaine made a beeline for the door. “James.” Blaine said, walking out. He searched the Medical suites first, finding them full of injured personnel. His heart ached to help them, but he knew the cost was too high to do so. Moving quickly, he found Narah staring blankly at a wall in the second to last Medical suite on that wing of the bay. He touched her gently on the shoulder, and smiled when she turned to look at him. Narah jumped up and wrapped him in a hug, so quickly it startled him. She held him like a vise, and started to cry silently. Then, stepping back from him and letting go reluctantly, she voiced her desperate fears. “He’s missing, and nobody knows what happened! One minute they were flying along, and the next they just disappeared off of the comlsink and tracking scopes! Nobody has heard a single thing from them since, and no demands from any would-be kidnappers! It’s like they just…” Narah stumbled through, and sniffled. “Disappeared. I understand. Get me a suit, and a dropzone.” Blaine said, his eyes flashing reddish behind the normal soft brown. Narah didn’t argue, nor did she wait for confirmation of what she thought she’d just heard. Without a second’s breath, she was running full-out for the shuttle bay, and skidded to a halt at the S.U, Aquila, before smashing the code into the doorway keypad. She grabbed his rifle, a fresh Seraphim suit, and his sabre, before stopping momentarily to stare at the particle beam cannon on the floor. She shook her head, looked at it again, and then shook her head again, before rushing back out the door and barely stopping to close it again. Again, she tore off towards the Medical suite she had just left, and found Blaine staring at the same wall she had just been. “Uhh, Baby? I.. I’m not sure this is smart. I just… Maybe we should bring Rosey.” She said, looking at his feet, shamefully. “Maybe. Let’s not until we know. Where is Lisa, or Jupiter?” Blaine said. “Lisa is on board, with Hector. They should be in the Galley, right now.” She said. “Nav Officer Renhardt… She’s MIA, too!” “What? Wasn’t she flying the shuttle that brought me?” Blaine said, suddenly questioning just how long he’d been asleep. “Yeah, silly.. She… She went out after James and Daddy went missing, to try and find them. She’s a great pilot, but I don’t think she’s really qualified as a Spacejumper.” Narah said, hesitantly. “Can you take these? They’re getting heavy.” “Sorry.” Blaine said, taking the suit. “Then I'm going to need the Ortiz clan. Monster is always good to have in a fight. And Lisa can fly the shuttle and shoot, so we’re good for now.” “I’ll send her a.. Text?” Narah said, looking at him with a puzzled expression. “Yeah, a text would be a great idea.” Blaine confirmed, missing her query but answering it all the same. Narah stood in a corner with a qwikslate, typing like mad, while Blaine suited up minus the jetpack. This he carried with his rifle in one hand, and the sword in the other. Narah looked up from her qwikslate as he finished, and nodded. “Good. Let’s go shoot this goose, babe! I has a lot o’ questions what need answers.” Blaine said. Narah let out a short cackle, and smiled. “Yeah. Let’s shoot the goose! What’s a goose?” “Not important. C’mon…” Blaine said, putting an arm around her and guiding her towards the door. “Just what do you think you are doing, Captain?” Brashi’i said, standing in the doorway. “Where the absolute fuck did you appear from, and how do you guys keep doing that?! You and Jupiter both! And you, Narah! Just all of a sudden, Pop-goes-the-weasel, and you’re in my face!” Blaine said, finally letting vent to something that had been frustrating him for several weeks. “You really don’t know how well that neuro-link device works, do you? It literally retrained our bodies to walk much more quietly, after we took turns running through one of your sims. What do you think I was doing, when I was in the sim?” Brashi’i waved him off. “Well.. then you’re going to love learning this next trick… Love you!” Blaine kissed her on the cheek and Brashi’i promptly fell unconscious. “What was that? What did you just do to her?!” Narah squeaked, looking at the crumpled heap of woman on the floor. “Quickly, quickly… she’s not gonna be out for long…!” Blaine bustled her out the door. “But-” Narah said. “Goooo!” Blaine chided her. “It’s ‘the kiss of bliss’... a Martial arts technique I learned when I was a kid. She’s going to wake up in a few seconds!” “Fine! But don’t you ever-” Narah said, as he hustled her towards the Galley. “Shh! Hi! Yep! Just a human… Nothing to see here…” Blaine said, pushing her on, as people turned and stared at them. “Blaine… I’m not joking.” Narah said, stopping right in front of the Galley. “Neither am- OOF!” Blaine started to say, only to be lifted bodily from the floor by a hefty punch to his ribs. “What the fuck, you asshole! You just fucking punched a commanding officer in the chin, you human pile of gutless crap!” Brashi’i screamed from behind him as he collapsed. “dammit… Hi, Baby!” Blaine said, smiling through the pain. “Don’t you ‘Hi Baby’ me, you slippery fuck! Or I’ll punch something you can’t heal!” Brashi’i spat, turning blue as her rage welled within her. “Huuhhh…. GASP- I didn’t punch you… mmmnnngh… I pushed a vertebrae out of place, rendering you instantly unconscioussss… fuck! Why the ribs? Why always the ribs?!” Blaine said through tears and intense burning in his lungs, rolling slightly back and forth on the floor. “Whatever you did, IT FUCKING HURTS! You really thought I’d just let you walk out, no whatever and not a by-your-leave? You must be fucking crazy!” Brashi’i screamed, her fists still curled into tight balls and her face the image of twisted fury. “Yes. Precisely. Because, in fact, sweety… grunt… Enough time has already been wasted with being down. Which is why I’m not stopping, for fuck-all.” Blaine said, standing back up, still clenching his ribs. “And I’ll do it again, if you’re gonna try an’ stop me, Brash…” “Stop you? I just wanted to know what you were doing! Narah is on suicide watch until her father is located and retrieved. Or did you not know?” Brashi’i said, still snarling at him with intense venom. “Why would she want to kill herself? We’re literally going to get him?!” Blaine blurted out through the throbbing of his bruised ribs. “Why not say that, you stubborn fool! Why just knock me out, and run?” Brashi’i said, still breathing heavily. “Because..” Blaine wheezed, “I don’t have time for all of this crap!” “What the fuck is five more minutes gonna cost you?” Brashi’i spat. “Maybe my sister’s life, Brash. So, one more time… Get the ever loving fuck, out of my way!” Blaine said, finally catching his breath. Brashi’i said nothing, but stepped aside symbolically, using one hand to gesture forwards passed her. “Thank you! For Chrissake…” Blaine said loudly, and turned around to find Lisa and Hector staring at him, in utter amazement. “When and where, Caballero?” Lisa asked, seeing he was in no mood for small-talk. “Now. Shuttle.” Blaine said, nodding at Hector. Hector smiled and winked back. “On it, Cap!” Hector said, and dragged Lisa towards the shuttle bay. “Anything else, or can we go?” Blaine said, looking around at the crowd that was gathering to watch. With a lot of muttering and sheepish looks, people stepped back and made a thoroughfare for them, towards the shuttle bay. Blaine sighed, grabbed up his equipment, and walked the shame mile. Narah quickly caught up to him, and took his jetpack to carry for him. Blaine was grateful for the relief of pressure on his aching ribs. A shout sounded behind them, as Brashi’i vented her anger and strode into the Galley. “You ok? I heard the thump off that hit!” Narah said, trying to comfort him. “I’ll be fine! She used the wrong hand- probably the reason for the scream. Remind me to fix that for her if we make it back?” Blaine said, jokingly. “Yeah, right after I break my fist on her mouth.” Narah said, giggling. Blaine chuckled. “Damn, bloodthirsty, aren’t we?!” “Well, she did just try to stop us from getting my Dad. Thanks for not taking no for an answer, by the way…” Narah said, smiling at him. “I wouldn’t have, anyways. You know how I feel about our family… Now, imagine that I’ve felt that strongly about my sisters since we were little. You had nothing to fear… I was going with or without her permission.” Blaine said, and increased his pace. “So, this isn’t about my Dad?” Narah said, crestfallen. “I didn’t say that. I said that I have more than just him as personal investment, in this situation.” Blaine said. “Good save.” Narah said, smiling again. They walked onto the shuttle, and sat down, as Lisa negotiated their departure. This was made more complicated by the fact that they didn’t have any official orders or flightplan. Lisa finally got them clearance, by threatening diplomatic tensions between Humans and Vaalor. She turned off the comslink, and spoke solely to the four present. “We are flying into a shitstorm, with no backup, I’m pretty sure. Since that’s the case, I need to know, Cap- how much is this worth to you?” Lisa asked. Hector rolled his eyes, but stayed silent. “I’d shoot the President, to make it happen.” Blaine deadpanned. “My resolve knows no end.” “Ok… That’s good enough for me! Hang on… We’re in for a ride!” Lisa said, and dove for atmosphere. The walls of the shuttle began to heat up and glow, as they dropped through the atmosphere. Blaine felt as the shuttle began to shake from the buffeting, and Lisa pulled up on the yoke. “RRRrrr-you-son-of-a-bitch! Rah! Come about!” she grunted, as she pulled. The shuttle slowed, and started to become more aerodynamic. Lisa cruised to the coordinates that Narah gave her, and they came to a hover at 1500 feet. “We’re here…” Lisa said, and set the hover function to auto and stood up, stretching. Blaine stood up, and readied his rifle. Opening the door, he was met with a faceful of wind, and nearly sucked from the craft. He looked around at Lisa, with a smirk, and engaged his suit’s magnetic system. Looking back out the door, he asked, “You sure this is it? We’re a thousand feet up, at least!”
Lisa looked at him, and shook her head. “I can’t hear you!” “Helmets!” Blaine shouted, donning his. The rest of them pulled on their helmets, and the silence was shocking to behold. Everyone started talking at once. “We’re in the right area, right?” Blaine said. “Whoa, so quiet!” Narah said. “Middle of the fucking air! Narah!” Lisa shouted, crossing her arms. “God, thank you! I fucking hate HALO jumps!” Hector sighed. Unfortunately, all that was heard, was a cacophony of insane noise. “What?” everyone said at exactly the same time, which had the strange effect of sounding like a Beachfront quartet. This had the women giggling, and the men chuckling too! “Ok.. so… Are you sure this is the spot, Narah?” Blaine asked, as he got his mirth under control. “Yep. This is the marker from the computer. I didn’t change anything. We’re exactly where their beacon was last, before it disappeared. Lisa, spin us around slowly. Let’s get a good view of how this place looks.” Narah said, nodding. Lisa did as she was told, and sat back down in the pilot's seat. She disengaged the hover function, and started to rotate the craft. This caused the shuttle to slide forwards slightly, and suddenly the scenery changed. Instead of a windswept 1500 foot altitude without a bottom, they were a mere 50 feet up and maneuvering between trees in a tropical forest. “OH SHIT!” Lisa cursed, and quickly brought the yoke up as high as she could pull it without dislodging it. The shuttle shot straight up, and soon they were hovering over the top of the Amazon Rainforest on Earth, according to their instruments. More specifically, somewhere outside of Anza De Esparanza, Brazil. “What the… fack?” Blaine said, as a brightly colored Scarlet Macaw landed on the shuttle deck, and squawked at him. “Huh? Am I missing something?” Narah said. “Lisa, take us back! I need to check something!” Blaine said, a sudden realization dawning upon him. “Ohh, kay?” Lisa said, and hesitantly set the shuttle back towards its previously known position. They slowly maneuvered back through the trees, and then suddenly they were on Valhallah, again. Blaine smiled and shouted for joy, realizing the implications. “You wanna fill us in on what just happened, there? Or, should we just guess?” Lisa asked Blaine as Narah’s eyes got wide as saucers. “A laminar wormhole! A literal fucking laminar wormhole! BETWEEN EARTH AND VALHALLAH!” Blaine said, his face wreathed in smiles behind his visor. “Are you saying-” Lisa said, slowly catching on. “THAT THE LEGENDS ARE ALL REAL! THEY’RE HISTORY!” Blaine said, closing the door and smiling like a madman. “So, Thor, Meremere, and all that?” Lisa said, suddenly looking stunned. “Yeah, Thor, Moljnir, and all that!" Blaine confirmed. “So, if it’s a laminar wormhole, where is James, and where’s my Dad? Narah said, bringing everyone back to the reality before them. “They should be on one side, or the other. Your guess is as good as mine as to where. However, what’s bothering me, is why didn’t they just fly back through? James would have turned back!” Blaine said, at a loss for answers. “Just like you did. So.. Lisa? Take us back through, but keep the shuttle at 3000 feet, so that we can have time to deploy our wings.” Narah said, before sitting back down. “What’s on your mind, hun?” Blaine said, sitting down next to her. “Recon.” Narah said, stone faced. “Right. Well, where we came through at, I’m sure we hit a tree the first time. Perhaps we should start at the base?” Blaine suggested. “Good idea. Lisa, change of plans… I want you to get us as close to that tree we hit coming in, without landing right at its base, I want to make landfall.” Narah said. Lisa looked at Blaine. “What, you want permission?” Blaine said, smiling garishly at her. “Right. Back through. Don’t mind me if I change my pants afterwards! You SA’s are crasee!” Lisa said, and flew the shuttle back through the wormhole. “There’s a clearing over there… I’m gonna put down there.” “Ok, gear up, expect predators!” Blaine said, belting on his sword and grabbing his rifle. “What kinds?” Narah said. “Snakes, spiders, Caiman, Crocodiles, Jaguar, Ocelot, and Puma, to name a few. Big cats, and venomous snakes. Spiders as big as a dinner plate.” Blaine said. “I hate spiders, homie!” Hector said, staring at Blaine and turning pale as a sheet. “I fuckin’ hate ‘em!” “Then, keep your eyes peeled, don’t walk through any webs, and don’t panic if you see one. They’ll only chase you if you run.” Blaine assured him. “Ok… I’m good… Ok…” Hector said, nodding and psyching himself up. “Good. Don’t touch flowers. No matter how pretty.” He said, looking from Narah to Lisa. “Why?” Narah asked. “We’re in the rainforest. Everything here is trying to kill and eat something else. Nothing is safe. Even things that might seem so.” Blaine said, seriously. “Ok… So, what should we eat if we’re here for a while?” Narah said, being sensible about her questions. “Only what I hand you. Don’t eat or touch anything else, especially if it’s brightly colored.” Blaine warned her. “Why?” Narah asked. Blaine looked skywards for patience. Lisa came to his rescue. “Everyone knows bright colors mean venom or poison. Especially in the rainforest. With rare exception.” “Oh. You know, that’s not the case on Valhallah. Or my planet.” Narah said. “That’s why I asked.” “What’s your planet like, Narah?” Blaine said, trying to distract from the hike they were now embarking on. “Crazy enough, it’s a lot like yours. Just, venomous plants and animals are usually also trying to hide, whether predator or prey. Reds are normal. Yellows and greens, too. Most of the brightly colored plants only become so when fruiting. And most are not toxic. It takes an expert eye to be able to discern… What are you doing! You said not to eat anything brightly colored!” Narah suddenly shrieked, as Blaine peeled a banana. “Yes. I did. I also said don’t eat anything that I don’t give you. This, is a fruit known as a banana. It’s actually edible. Just, be careful when you pick them. See?” Blaine pointed to a large spider crawling across a banana leaf. “I’ll have to keep that in mind…” Narah said, as she stared at the slowly moving spider. “What’s that?” “One of the most deadly spiders known to mankind. Its bite would probably be harmless to you, but to us, it’s a very excruciating way to die, and very embarrassing as well. Basically….” Blaine said, before whispering in her ear. “Oh! That’s… both horrible and strangely … it kinda turns me on!” Narah said, smiling. “It’s not as nice as you think. It’d be like popping a bean, and never being able to rub it relaxed again, until you finally die from a heart attack. Us humans are naturally afraid of spiders, because of spiders like that.” Blaine said at length. “Yeah, sounds a lot worse when you say it like that.” Narah said, frowning. “Hey! That’s Archangel armor!” Blaine was suddenly right next to her, peering through the woods towards where she was pointing. A single scale stuck from a tree branch. Blaine looked down, and around the area across the ground. A large four-clawed bipedal print, told Blaine the worst was to fear. “Mahl.” Blaine said, as Lisa followed his gaze. “Oh, Christ!” Lisa said, terrified. “I thought they didn’t land on Earth?” “They didn’t, or these woods would be crawling with Brazilian and UN forces. No, this is a loner.” Blaine said, looking at the trail they left behind. “I’ll tell you this… James is being smart. She’s obviously being dragged. Your father is walking… With a limp, but walking.” He said, pointing to the trail leading from the tree through the underbrush. “How’s she being smart? She’s letting herself be dragged off by that brute! Why not just rip his arms off and beat him with them? She obviously can…” Narah pouted. “Precisely! She’s not! Which means there’s a good reason. Either she feels bested, or there’s a larger game afoot!” Blaine said, gritting his teeth and causing a vein to pop in his temple. “So, what do we do?” Narah asked. “Follow. In dead silence.” Blaine said, looking at her severely. Narah nodded, and followed him. They walked for the rest of the day, silent and slow. Blaine stayed in the lead, following the trail ahead. The Mahl stopped a couple of times, each time for water. They came finally to a tree, where the trail dead ended at it’s base. Blaine waited for the rest to catch up, and then smiled at Narah. Narah scowled at him puzzled at why he’d seem so happy at losing the trail. “Look up.” Blaine said quietly, grinning at Narah and the other two. A deep guttural growling roar, issued from a ball of fur halfway up the tree, sporting two others who were wearing Seraphim suits. “Hi, bonehead! I’m Blaine. You’ve got something that belongs to me. How’s about you give them back, and I don’t … make a mess…” Blaine said cheerily, smiling and waving to the Mahl. “GRRrrr, WHY SHOULD I?!” The Mahl said in a deep voice, which almost matched his growl. “Because! I’m allowing you to keep your arms. That’s more than she will do.” Blaine said, pointing to James. James smiled, and twisted around, grabbing the Mahl by his arm. “Ready, Freddy?” She snarled. “James! Wait-” Mordecai said, terrified. The Mahl made as if to bite her head off, and James changed. Her hair stood on end, and her face twisted grotesque. The Mahl stopped momentarily, looking at the savagely frothing woman in his claws, and suddenly had second thoughts about thinking her a mere weakling. That, didn’t matter, however. James ripped the Mahl’s head off of his shoulders, and spat down the creature’s esophagus. Then, they all came crashing out of the tree. Landing hard, Mordecai groaned as he lay still. James landed catlike, and ripped the offending Mahl’s bodily remains to dreg shreds, with her bare hands. Then, she roared, and passed out face first into the loamy soil of the rainforest floor. Blaine ran to Mordecai’s side, and looked him over. The elderly man had a broken wrist, and a large gash across his brow. Furthermore, he was completely unconscious. Blaine wasted no time, the blue flames glowing brightly in the failing light. Narah was at his side before he had finished, and watched, with tears in her eyes. “What about James?” Narah said, looking at Blaine as he finished and extinguished the blue fire. “Well…” Blaine said, and squatted next to her. He opened her eye, and checked the reactivity. He then became visibly worried. James wasn’t reactive at all. It was like her mind was empty. Like her soul had left her body. Blaine whimpered, as he held her hand to his lips. He looked around, like a scared child, and then closed his eyes. Blue light lit up the undergrowth, and blinded Lisa and Hector as they slowly walked closer. “SOB… GASP! Not yet, kiddo! Not yet!” Blaine’s voice could be heard from within the giant blue-white halo. “Please!” “Uhhn… Bean? Wha? OH! Fuck…” James’ voice could be heard saying. The light subsided and left Narah, Lisa, and Hector blinking furiously and rubbing their eyes. Blaine could be heard crying, as he hunched over, but nobody could see well enough to understand why for several minutes more. Then James slowly rolled over and stood up, weakly. “Bean… It’s ok… C’mon! We gotta go! It’s getting dark again!” She said, panic rising in her voice. “I…I-I thought… Yeah. Let’s go….” Blaine said, tears rolling down his cheeks. They ran flat out, for several minutes, before Blaine shouted at them. “STOP! We need to set camp! Don’t run in the woods at night!” “Scrape a clearing! I’ll get some firewood, and you, go get a bunch of banana leaves. You do know what those are, right Narah?” James said, helping as much as she could. “Yeah, I know what they are. I’ll be right back.” Narah said, and disappeared into the undergrowth. “Uhm.. Cap?... Do monkey’s eyes glow?” Hector said, as he stared into the gathering night. “No. Why, Monster? Find a monster?” Blaine said, and chuckled at his joke. “Nah, for reals, Cap! Look!” Hector said, pointing at two reddish orange orbs in the undergrowth. “Whoa! Hector! You found our monster, alright! It’s the apparatus that is creating the wormhole!” Blaine said, noticing where they were. “See? There’s the broken tree we hit earlier, Narah… Narah? Sweety?” Blaine looked around, worried. Then, he heard a muffled squeak which sounded oddly familiar. “I’m comin’ hun!” Blaine bellowed, and tore off through the cycads and the bromeliads. He found her being wrapped up by a massive anaconda, and drew his sword. Swinging deftly, he struck the creature clear to its spine with a fatal blow, directly behind the snake’s skull. He then roared mightily, as he peeled the massive jaws from Narah’s shoulder. Sobbing in terror and desperation of breath, Narah wriggled free of the snake’s coils, and slithered her way back several feet from it, wiping her skin like she was covered in some slimy sludge. Her heart raced, and she sobbed harder as she stared in terror at the thing that had just held her in its coils and tried to crush the life out of her. James ran up, and realized what had happened. She walked over to Narah and sweetly said to her as she helped her stand, “I’m so sorry! Come on! Let’s get you away from here!” The two quickly walked back to camp, James taking the chance to see to Narah’s wounds. Blaine sliced a huge chunk off of the snake, and carried it back to the fire he’d been starting just previously. Building up a pile of wood, he concentrated on the crimson and gold flames, and then the pile leaped to life with flames flickering merrily. The smell of cooking flesh, mixed with the day’s happenings, drew the six individuals to partake without argument or aplomb. Smiles were in short supply, but were certainly easier to manage with meat to fill their bellies. Narah was still clammy, and therefore wouldn’t let anyone touch her. Blaine made a joke about who would have died first, the snake or Narah, and Narah smiled at his attempt to cheer her up. “Maybe we should just sleep in the shuttle.” Blaine suggested. Nobody argued the logic, and so around an hour later, they were all back inside of the shuttle. They fell asleep, unaware of the several sets of beady little black eyes that watched them from the topiary level of the forest. Mahl clung to trees all around the clearing, hanging upside down from the vines and Burna trees. They didn’t make a sound, and simply watched until morning light, before disappearing into the jungle treetops, silent as a wraith. —----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Brashi’i sat with her thoughts, mulling over her feelings on the previous day's activity, and wondering about the man she’d let go. Had he left and simply decided to not come back? Or, was there another, more sinister reason for his absence? She sipped her strong drink, and sighed to herself. If he was gone, then he would move heaven and earth, to come back to them. That much, she was certain of. A voice like a thunderstorm, pulled her from her revelry. “Vhat troubles jhoo, Madam Zeal? “ Anastasia said, as she sat down next to Brashi’i. “Nothing, Anastasia. I’m fine.” Brashi’i replied, haggardly. “I’m just worried about my crew.” “Vee hafv naht oolvays seen eye tooh eye, Brashi’i. Zhat does naht mean zhat I do naht vorry, tooh. I hafv mine own reasons, tooh vhant Captink Preiss tooh return unharmedt, jah?” Anastasia said, winking at the bartender. “I understand. Still, I’d rather not talk about it, kay?” Brashi’i said, delicately. “Zhat is fine. I vos only tryink tooh be friendly, Madam Zeal.” Anastasia said, accepting her drink from the slightly surly bartender. “Tank jhoo, Frankie.” “I have no idea what happened to them, where they went, or how to get them back. They vanished in the same place exactly, as Ensign Price and the General.” Brashi’i muttered, as a patron walked passed them. “Jyur man…. Zeh Captink… He is naht a childt. He vill be fine. Jhoo vill see!” Anastasia reassured her. “I know… It still doesn’t make it easier. Enjoy your drink, Captain. Good night.” Brashi’i said, downing the rest of her drink and leaving.
submitted by deathB4dessert to HFY [link] [comments]


2023.05.28 01:43 Deriggs007 First Traeger grill - A Flatrock!

For pellet grills/smokers, I've always been set on my Recteq's (RT700 and a Bullseye) and love them, but I was in the market for a griddle as well and have been going back and forth between pretty much everything on the market with 100's of hours of research and was set between the Flatrock, Campchef and the Halo 3/4B . I had a blackstone, but as I am getting older, I'm turning into a "buy once cry once" kind of guy.
I was able to see every unit in person and ultimately chose the Flatrock for these 3 reasons.. The 5 year warranty, the build quality vs the Campchef and availability of Traeger vs the Halo.
Figured I would share some information from my experience with this unit and what I like and dislike about it. In no specific order
  1. Build quality you can just tell is leaps above what Blackstone or other cheaper units, but at the end of the day, it's some burners on a griddle - I appreciate the build quality for sure. The only unit that's probably better built is a Halo 3B or 4B, but much harder to find.
  2. I like the electronic functions, the propane gauge is nice, I like the flame sensors as well. This isn't talked about in a lot of reviews you find online, but you need to know that the unit must be plugged in for the sensors, but you can use a 9v to ignite. So 2 unique features require you to be plugged in.
  3. Putting the unit together was pretty straight forward, but I am not a fan of the propane tank holder. I don't know if I did it right or what, but it doesn't sit in place well. I think I may have the bracket backwards, but I need to find another person on this. Outside of the bracket, everything else is great from putting together. Took me about an hour. You need to note that you get instructions in the package that link you to the traeger app and instructions. It does not work to load any instructions/video. I had to youtube for the video. Just an FYI
  4. Burn in was easy , seasoned well, cooks well, but I think like any griddle on the market, the whole 'zone' thing is a joke. The griddle does have pretty even temperatures across, which has its own pro's and con's. The thing about Blackstone with it being so drastically uneven is that you can also use that to cook to your advantage. Maybe spend a bit more time to toast bread in a corner because it's 150degrees cooler than another part of the griddle. You can't do this on a flatrock, since the temperatures will all be between 20-30 from each other.
  5. I love how big the shelves are, and nothing on them get too hot, just warm to the touch when it's close to the griddle. I also picked up all the P.A.L addons and while they're all nice, you can't really fold the shelves down when you want to store it because they slide around. I do not have the cover, but I am not sure if you have to put the shelves down or not. Keep that in mind .
  6. The casters are great, all high quality and all 4 can be individually locked.
  7. You can level each leg individually, but it's not so easy compared to like the Halo for example
  8. Grease management: I'm not a fan of its location, but I've worked around it already. Because of its placement, you lose a lot of cooking surface because you can't put much in the corner next to it. Traeger really should have placed it in the corner like a campchef. This is probably my biggest gripe, but it's not that bad. You just need to get adjusted to it, but I feel like I have a lot less cooking surface since a whole section can't be cooked on with anything runny because you fear of losing it down the grease drain. Anything not runny next to the grease hole ends up cooking faster since it gives off heat as well. Really wish they would have placed it into a corner.
  9. The lid is solid, but for a premium unit, the lid should be able to act as a dome, but it says you can't while the burners are on. I wish they would clarify that if I decided to turn off the burners when making smash burgers, can I close the the lid when cheese is melting? I think the answer is no. That is another big benefit of the Halo unit. You can use the lid like any other grill.
  10. The LED lights for the propane gauge is really bright, not a big deal at all, but if you don't want that shining on you all the time, I tend to turn the grill off and the switch is located behind the unit which can be a bit annoying based on your setup.

Overall my complaints are just minor, they performance is great, I think it's some of the best griddle food I've made and I like how even everything is. My only qualms is the bracket (which could be my fault), and the biggest is the placement of the grease trap.
I wish they would add an P.A.L addon for trashbag holder as well.

Thanks!
submitted by Deriggs007 to Traeger [link] [comments]


2023.05.27 20:50 Shelts89 Duty's - 30k Fan Fiction

Hello everyone!
Just wanted to share a story I wrote and has been picked up by the good people at Cold Open Stories.
Hope you enjoy!
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
++ Do not look to us for kindness. Do not look to us for hope. We are not the kind children of this new age. We are the rocks of its foundation. ++
Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the VII
A flash of light burned in the black of space.
Is this it? thought Cassian Torr, Captain of the 117th Company, VII Legion. Has Horus come?
His twin hearts beat faster at the thought, even as the more logical parts of his mind ran through a thousand other possibilities. Yet ultimately he knew what he had seen: a ship. A ship tearing its way into real space. Into the Sol System. Into the heart of the Imperium.
He scanned the endless void, eyes scouring the debris and detritus that littered the outer regions of Terra’s system. Searching for more flashes. For more ships. For any sign that this was the first pebble in an avalanche of violence that would crash against the walls of Sol.
Yet none came.
‘Speak to me, Captain Narsus,’ he said, turning to look back at the Oath of Unity’s mortal commander. His golden-yellow armour purred with even that slight movement, the sound lost in the cacophony that was the bridge. Astartes, mortal crew, Tech Priests and servitors bustled in constant motion, the ordered and smooth running of the Gladius Frigate hidden amongst the apparent anarchy. ‘What is it we face today?’
‘A single ship, my lord,’ replied Narsus, voice heavy with exhaustion. ‘Not military class. A merchant trader; its code identifies it as the Destiny’s Daughter. I am picking up no shields or weapons signals. Their engines are practically dead. They’re simply drifting.’
Torr knew the long hours and endless days being demanded of the man were unfair, that no unaugmented human could hope to keep up such work for long. Yet it was what Dorn and the Sigillite deemed necessary. It was what victory in the name of Unity and the Imperial Truth deemed necessary.
And Torr would not have the Oath of Unity found wanting. When this madness was over, when Horus was defeated, the Imperium would be rebuilt as it should have been. As the Emperor willed it. As a bastion of truth, science, reason and hope.
What has Horus sent against us? Torr asked himself as he looked back into space. Is this some new trickery? Some new lie?
He had patrolled the edges of the Sol System for years. Ever since the Eisenstein had brought the impossible news of Horus’s betrayal to Dorn and the Imperial Fists. In the intervening years, the entirety of the system had been transformed into a fortress – patrols like his, its first and furthest line of defence.
But it was a line yet to be tested.
Nothing had reached the Sol System. Not since the Eisenstein. It was as if silence had engulfed the galaxy. Yet Torr knew this could not be true. All eighteen Legions – loyal and treacherous – could not have just gone silent. Something out there, beyond the cold of the void, had changed.
He saw this also in the Oath of Unity’s Astropath. In her whispered mutterings. In her nervous glances towards the open void.
Summons had been sent to those Legions, Expeditionary Forces and Forge Worlds known to be loyal, a tsunami of astropathic messages to sweep through the galaxy. Yet nothing came back. No ships reached them. No messages. Are we alone? Have all our brother Legions turned their backs on the dream of the Imperium? On their oaths and vows? On Terra?
Something unfamiliar wormed its way through him at the thought. Is this fear? That emotion was all but unknown, ever since he had been plucked from the ice hives of Inwit and raised to the ranks of the Legiones Astartes. And yet, he pondered, perhaps its echo still exists somewhere within.
‘Are we receiving any communication from them?’ he asked, his voice flat and hard, masking his thoughts and fears. ‘Does anything live aboard?’
‘No communications, my lord,’ answered Narsus. ‘But we are picking up life signs. Not many, but undeniably human.’
Torr nodded. ‘Very good, Captain. Make full speed to intercept. Have weapons ready to fire, but hold until commanded.’
‘Your will, my lord,’ said Narsus. He paused for a heartbeat. ‘Should I alert Lord Falkar? The Sigillite’s orders may pertain to this.’
Torr rubbed his armoured gauntlet across his closely shaven scalp, feeling the iron of his centenary mark of service riven into his thick, transhuman brow. The mark of over a century of service to the ideals of Truth and Unity. It reminded him of the campaigns he had fought. Of the brothers he had lost. Of the horrors he had seen. He shook his head. ‘No. Lord Falkar’s involvement is to be a last resort.’
He opened his Legion vox link. ‘ Sergeant Haster, prepare a boarding party.’
+++
Shadows and silence filled the Destiny’s Daughter. Torr and Breacher Squad Haster moved through her corridors in purposeful unity, methodical and thorough. Their shields overlapped to create an impenetrable wall of ceramite and iron. The golden yellow of their thick MKIII armour was bathed crimson as emergency lumens flashed endlessly throughout the seemingly deserted ship.
Torr heard a click in his helm, followed instantly by another, as he had every five minutes since the boarding operation had begun nearly an hour ago. The signals told him that Breacher Squads Solon and Carr were moving through the ship on schedule, having met no resistance or signs of life. He suspected he’d receive the same ‘all clears’ again in five minutes.
He clicked back in reply, then let out a growl of frustration. His trigger finger itched, aching to feel the kick of his bolter, to hear its roar.
He took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm, and silently chided himself for the moment of laxity. He remembered the words of his father and Primarch, Lord Dorn: Discipline. Duty. Unyielding Will. These are the measures by which every warrior is judged.
Am I bored? he asked himself. If he was being honest, he’d half hoped to find an ambush aboard the Destiny’s Daughter. To see his traitorous brothers advancing towards him, bolters roaring their madness. The colours of those Legions he had once fought beside – the regal purple of the Emperor’s Children, the sea-green of the Sons of Horus, the blood-splattered white and blue of the World Eaters – flashed through his mind and he ground his teeth. He wanted to kill.
Astartes, he reflected, were not built for such lengthy periods of inactivity. For long years of patrol and garrison. For what was now demanded of him and his brothers.
‘Is all well, Captain?’ asked Haster, the Veteran Sergeant’s gravel voice filling his helm’s private comm-link.
‘All is well, Brother-Sergeant,’ Torr replied. ‘I was distracted. Thank you for drawing my attention back to the duty at hand.’
He heard Haster’s grunt of laughter in his vox-link. ‘Some things never change, it seems. I’ve been watching your back since we were Initiates. What would you do without me?’
Torr felt the corners of his mouth tug into the beginnings of a smile as he checked their position against the ship’s schematics on his retinal display. They were not far from the centre of the ship and the cargo hold. Where, according to Captain Narsus, the only signs of life could be detected. ‘Not long now,’ he whispered to himself as the rhythmic clang of their armoured boots echoed throughout the labyrinthine corridors.
+++
Explosions ripped open the cargo hold’s blast doors, filling the hallways with smoke and fire and a storm of metal shards. Even through his helm’s environmental dampeners, Torr felt his ears ring.
Then the screams started.
‘Only fire on my command,’ he ordered as he raised his breacher shield and began to advance alongside Squad Haster. Smoke enveloped them for the briefest second, before they emerged into the cargo hold of the Destiny’s Daughter.
Torr finally saw something from beyond the Sol System, from the chaos that had engulfed the galaxy.
Ragged humanity filled the cargo hold, stretching out into the dark corners of the vast room. Men, women and children huddled together, their clothes hanging loosely from bone-thin limbs as wide, terror-stricken eyes stared back at him from faces too thin with hunger. Pleas for mercy, prayers for help, and screams of panic filled the air. Most shied away from the approaching astartes, hunching over in small groups, as if they could disappear into the gloom.
One man, braver or stupider than the rest, stepped out from the crowd. He clutched an autogun in his shaking hands, the weapon rusted almost beyond repair.
Do it.
The words rushed unbidden into Torr’s mind as he felt the increasingly familiar itch in his trigger finger. Adrenaline coursed through his veins as his eyes settled on the barrel of the gun.
Do it.
‘Begone, foul daemons!’ screamed the man, his voice breaking into a high-pitched squeak. ‘The Emperor protects!’
His final words were taken up by others amongst the crowd. It rallied them, as it echoed in the open cavern of the hold. Torr grimaced. At what those words implied. At a belief in the divine, so at odds with the enlightened ideals of the Imperium. Yet also of loyalty.
His hand shot out, too fast for a mortal’s eye to follow, and snatched the gun from the refugee’s hands with a savage twist. He felt the man resist for the briefest moment, before giving way with a pained cry.
Torr looked down at the man – on his knees, a grimace across his face, cradling one shoulder. He felt a moment’s satisfaction at the release of violence, before he crushed it with a force of will. These are citizens of the Imperium. They deserve our protection.
He dropped the gun. It clattered to the ground, the metallic ring echoing from the walls. Almost deafening in the silence of the hold.
Something behind the man flinched at the sound. A muffled cry reached Torr’s ears.
A girl, he thought as his eyes settled on the crouched figure. Perhaps four or five years old, Terran Standard. Though, he had to admit to finding estimates of age hard with such young mortals. Her hair had been crudely shorn to the scalp, but small tufts stuck out from amid the stubble. She clung tightly to the man’s back, keeping herself in his shadow, even as she stared up at him. Her eyes, wide and dark, met Torr’s. Yet she didn’t look away.
Brave, Torr thought, for a mortal. For one so young.
‘Stand down, civilians,’ he said, voice amplified by the vox in his armour. ‘You are safe now. You are in the custody of the Seventh.’
He noticed the girl wince at the sound of his voice, pressing her hands to her ears and looking down at the floor. Somewhere in the recesses of his mind, he dimly remembered the first time he had seen an astartes. The sheer size. The aura of violence. It had been overwhelming.
Torr dropped to one knee, bringing himself as close to the girl’s level as possible. He removed his helm, remembering a treatise written by Guilliman on first interactions between astartes and mortals. Such simple measures, the lord of the Thirteenth argued, lessened the shock when interacting with members of the Legions. It humanised them in the eyes of the unaugmented.
Torr almost laughed at the idea. As if I have not given up my humanity to become what they need me to be. To become a shield for their kind. To become a weapon against the horrors of this universe.
He reached forward slowly, resting his gauntleted hand on the girl’s shoulder. ‘What is your name, child?’ he asked, doing his best to keep his voice light and the hint of a smile on his lips. He knew such verbal and physical cues were important to the unenhanced.
‘Patti,’ whispered the girl, bringing her gaze up to meet his once more. ‘Is… Is Mama here? Papa said she would be, even though she couldn’t get the same ship as us.’ Sobs began to wrack the little girl’s body and she hurled herself back against her father’s body, burying her face in his thin shirt.
Torr felt the temperature drop, permafrost creeping across the floor. Radiating out from the girl. Crawling up his arm. Psyker. He pulled back and turned to meet the father’s eyes.
‘We’re from the Lastrati System,’ said the man, his voice edged with hope, yet tinged with fear. ‘When the traitors came… There was such chaos. We got separated.’
Torr shook his head.
‘Yohanna,’ continued the man, his words tumbling out too quickly. ‘Yohanna Taraf. That’s her name. I am Emil. Her husband. There must be news.’
‘No,’ said Torr, his voice now stone and brooking no argument. ‘Yours is the first ship to have reached Sol in nearly two years.’
Emil fell silent, his jaw working wordlessly. The buzz of chatter filled the air, spreading like wildfire throughout the refugees as Torr’s words reached the ears of others.
‘The first?’ Emil asked eventually as he clasped his daughter’s hands. ‘But there were so many.’
Torr stared back for a moment, seeing the tears begin to trickle from Emil’s eyes. ‘I am sorry.’
He stood and turned his back on the man, looking over the silent wall of ceramite that Breacher Squad Haster had formed behind him. His eyes met Haster’s, seeing his old friend had also removed his helmet. ‘These people are not to leave this hall.’ He paused. ‘But do not harm them. They are loyal citizens of the Imperium.’
He turned his focus back to Emil and Patti once more. They were on their knees, arms wrapped tight around each other. The halo of frost around them crept ever further across the floor with each second. Their bodies rose and fell with choked sobs, tears streaming down their faces. Torr’s transhuman senses heard Emil whisper reassurances to his daughter as he stroked her hair. He told her that her mother would be okay. That she would find a way. That the Emperor was watching them. To have faith.
Superstition. Torr looked away in anger. Primitive. Illogical. He felt sick at the irony of it. That the Legions had spent two centuries crusading across the stars, destroying such beliefs and bringing the Truth to the galaxy. But, here it was. At the very heart of the Imperium itself.
Yet it is these people that stand loyal. Unlike my brother Legions. Unlike those I fought with. Unlike those I shed blood with. The thought soured in Torr’s mind, his mask of stone slipping to anger.
He saw the faces of those he had once fought beside from the Traitor Legions in his mind. The faces of those he had called once Brothers. Sar Krael of the Sons of Horus, his olive skin in stark contrast to the once brilliant white of their old Legion. Varon of the Emperor’s Children, his porcelain features marred by the occasional faint duelling scar. Kargur of the World Eaters, his brutish features only accentuated by a myriad of criss-crossing scars and his permanently broken nose.
Torr clicked his vox-link open, drawing himself back to the present. ‘Captain Narsus, do you hear me?’
‘Yes, my lord,’ came the reply, static scratching in Torr’s ears.
‘Inform Lord Dorn and First Captain Sigismund that we have made contact with refugees from the war.’ He paused. ‘Then prepare several parties of your mortal crew to board the Destiny’s Daughter. They are to bring food and water. Medicine too.’
‘Your will, my lord,’ replied Narsus. ‘I will see to it at once.’
Torr watched Patti and Emil for a second more. Their cries were hushed and lost in the vastness of the hold, their prayers faint, yet distinct. Other refugees shuffled away from them. Away from the creeping frost and the aura of cold. Away from the girl. From the psyker.
His stomach churned at what he had to do next.
‘Captain Narsus,’ he said once more. ‘Inform the Lord Falkar and the Sigillite’s agents too.’
+++
Torr watched black figures move through the crowd. Each bore the stylised I of Malcador, the Sigillite and the Emperor’s right hand, upon their chests. A symbol that conferred upon them nigh-on unlimited power.
He watched them methodically approach each group, dataslates in hand, recording each story – and he saw the fear and confusion in each refugee’s eyes. These men were something new, something unknown. And despite being just ordinary men and women – no, Torr corrected himself, Malcador’s people would never be ordinary – they seemingly commanded greater fear than the astartes of the VII Legion.
Disquiet filled Torr at their presence. At the nature of their work.
He glanced behind to Squad Haster. Each stood immobile, a fortress of ceramite and gene-enhanced flesh in their own right. Each proudly bore the black fist of the Seventh, declaring their allegiance for all to see. The Sigillite’s people could not be more different than the Sons of Dorn. What do they portend for the Imperium?
Sensing movement in the periphery of his vision, Torr looked towards the cargo hold’s doors. His eyes settled on a lone figure in burnished gold armour, a great blade at her waist, a crimson top knot tumbling down her back.
A member of the Silent Sisterhood.
Revulsion flooded through him at the sight. His twin hearts beat faster. Adrenaline began to pump through his gene-enhanced body. His hands clenched into tight fists.
He closed his eyes and forced himself to breathe deeply. To calm himself.
Opening his eyes, he found his gaze drawn to a group of the Sigillite’s agents. They were dragging a pair of refugees towards the Sister. Emil and Patti. Torr felt anger rise hot inside his chest at the realisation.
Tears stained the father’s cheeks, a look of weary defeat written across Emil’s face. The face of a broken man. Patti screamed. Her knuckles turned white as she gripped her father’s hands, his shirt, his arms. Her legs kicked wildly, her movements more frantic as she grew closer to the Witchseeker.
Torr’s eyes met hers. They were bloodshot and puffy, a river of tears flooding from them. Help me! Please! Help me! The words – Patti’s words – screamed in his mind. He shuddered. A ripple of terror ran through him, her own fear and anguish shared for just an instant.
His eidetic memory ran through her story. He remembered the way her father had described the terror and confusion as drop pods had rained from the sky above Lastrani. He could almost picture the mad scramble amid the ruins and smoke of the space port. The feel of fingers slipping apart as Patti’s mother was dragged away by the current of the crowd. He could almost smell the stench of sweat and piss as they had huddled in the dark of the Destiny’s Daughter, as it shuddered beneath the onslaught of cannon fire.
More superstitious minds might call it a miracle, he thought, pondering the immensity of the refugee’s luck. And this is the greeting they find from the Imperium? From those supposed to protect them? To be torn from each other’s arms after all they have suffered?
Something inside Torr snapped. His fingers curled involuntarily around the grip of his sword and he felt the blade slide just a fraction from its sheath as he strode towards the diorama of misery. Refugees stumbled from his path as the heavy tread of Squad Haster following echoed in his ears. As he had known they would, even without orders. They were his Brothers.
Is this the Imperium we fight for? Is this the future of humanity? The future my brothers died for? One of secrets and shadows? One where innocent people disappear in the night?
‘What is the meaning of this?’ Torr thundered as he neared the agents.
The closest flinched before turning to face him, his eyes wide as he took an involuntary step back. Torr heard the man swear under his breath as the chemical smell of fear filled his gene-enhanced nostrils.
‘Lord captain,’ the man started, ‘my orders are-’
‘I did not ask for your orders, Chosen of Malcador,’ growled Torr. ‘They are plainly clear. I asked for your reasons.’
The click of light footsteps sounded nearby. He glanced towards the sound, seeing the Sister had turned towards them, her face a passionless mask. He felt cold, an unnatural sense of dread filling him, as her eyes settled on him. He looked away quickly, returning to the mortal before him.
‘These people,’ began the agent again, straightening his back and meeting Torr’s gaze. ‘These people are to be transferred to-’
‘Silence,’ snarled Torr. He punched a finger in the direction of Patti and Emil. ‘Their only crime is fleeing the atrocities of the Traitor Legions. This girl could be trained. Her talents could benefit the Imperium. Instead, you drag her away into the shadows. Does your master fear little girls so much?’
The agent’s eyes flared angrily for a second, before flickering to the space behind Torr. The corners of his mouth tugged into a smile.
‘Is our presence so distasteful to you, Captain Torr?’
Torr remained silent as he turned to face this new speaker. Ice-blue eyes stared back at him from a hawkish face of ghostly skin. Silence settled between the two, stretching out for long, pregnant seconds.
‘I am always astounded by your kind’s aptitude for petty behaviour, Captain,’ continued the man, turning his own gaze upon the sight of Patti’s father. ‘It could be argued that such pettiness is the cause of all this madness.’
‘Indeed, Chosen Falkar,’ replied Torr after a moment.
He studied the Sigillite’s man. Falkar was painfully thin, with the typically near-emaciated and elongated form of those born and raised in the low gravity of space. Yet, despite the sheer difference in size and bulk that the astartes carried, the man weathered Torr’s gaze as if made of stone.
An impressive feat of mental strength, conceded Torr as he repressed the now familiar itch to draw his weapon. At the mortal’s display of defiance.
Torr ground his teeth as Patti’s pleas for help, her prayers to the Emperor, moved further away. He heard the scuff of her feet dragged across the floor. He heard a body slump to the floor, Emil’s sobs joining his daughter’s cacophony. The desire to draw his sword, to hear the bark of his bolter, swelled inside, near overwhelming.
You have failed them.
‘You speak of pettiness,’ snarled Torr, ‘yet you are not the one who has fought across the length and breadth of the galaxy. You are not the one who has seen his Brothers die. You are not the one who has sacrificed their very humanity. All this, I have done with the ideals of Unity and Truth in my hearts.’
Torr gestured across the hall, pointing at each of the Sigillite’s agents with a sharp jab of a finger.
‘You and your kind threaten those ideals. You sink this war into shadows and secrets. You are a poison that stains the Imperium.’ Torr spat. ‘What was the purpose of those sacrifices – my brothers’ sacrifices – if we throw our ideals away? We must hold ourselves to a higher standard.’
Falkar met the astartes’ tirade with a surprising calmness, his ice-blue eyes almost blazing in the gloom of the ship’s hold as they met Torr’s stare. ‘And what, lord captain,’ he replied, ‘would be the purpose of those sacrifices should we lose this war?’ Falkar let the question sit for a second. ‘We are a new weapon, Captain – or a new poison, as you say – because this is a new war.’
Silence hung for an eternity between the two of them. Eventually the mortal turned to look across the mass of humanity that filled the room. He took a deep breath and clasped his hands behind his back.
‘Our enemy is insidious, Lord Captain. They will not just come for us with bolter and chainsword. They will not just come to tear down our walls. They will come to tear down our very purpose. They will come to destroy everything we believe in. They will come from the shadows and dark. We are the shield against these threats. That is why the Sigillite created our order.’
‘Then you have already failed,’ Torr said after a moment. ‘You cannot defend the ideals of Truth and Unity with lies and deceit.’
Falkar shook his head and pulled out a dataslate, fingers flicking through its contents. When he’d finished, he looked up and met Torr’s eyes once more.
There is something different in him now, noticed the astartes. The hard edge is gone. There is sadness there. An exhaustion of the soul.
‘Then I am sorry, Lord Torr,’ started Falkar. ‘For what I must ask of you now.’
He held out the dataslate. Runes of the highest authority flashed across its surface. Torr read the orders, even as his stomach tightened. As his trigger finger itched once more. As the desire to rip his sword free filled him.
‘No.’ He growled the word through clenched teeth.
‘No?’
Falkar’s eyes momentarily flashed in surprise. Just for an instant, but Torr saw it. He did not expect resistance, he realised. Not from a Son of the Seventh. They think us cold. Made of stone. They do not understand the fire that burns within. The drive. The Purpose. The ideals.
‘No,’ Torr growled once more.
‘There is no refusal here, Captain Torr,’ replied Falkar, his voice now clipped with an icy steel. ‘These orders come from the Sigillite himself. And co-signed by your father. Would you deny Lord Dorn’s command?’
Torr froze. Co-signed by your father. The words haunted him. To see Lord Dorn and the Seventh dragged down into the mire of shadows. That was what they meant.
Would you deny Lord Dorn’s command? The words flittered through his head as he thought of what was being asked of him. Of how they had treated those fleeing for safety.
What kind of monsters have we become? he asked himself.
He thought of Patti and her father’s story. He thought of all he had heard from the refugees. He ran through every detail. He knew, as sure as if he was there himself, what happened in the Lastrati System. He knew what happened when the Sixteenth had come.
Anger swelled inside by what his erstwhile cousins had done. By what the once proud scions of Horus had become. Disgust filled him at the thought of those warriors he was once proud to have served alongside. By how far they had fallen.
What kind of monsters have they become?
He looked down at the dataslate again. He read the words again.
+ Immediate transfer of all non-psykers to the internment prisons of Titan for processing and interrogation. +
‘Why?’
Falkar breathed deeply and nodded, a look of relief washing across his face. ‘Because of what they have seen. Because of what they know. Because their tales of daemons and gods and monsters cannot be allowed to spread throughout Terra’s defenders. Because these stories, and those that would spread them, are a weapon for our enemy. As sure as any bolter.’
Falkar fell silent and looked back across the refugees. Torr turned with him a second later.
Is this the future you fought for? The question whispered in the back of Torr’s mind. Is this the Imperium you would be a part of? But what is the alternative?
He thought of the defenders of Terra. Of the fear he has seen in their eyes already. He thought of what he had heard today, of the tales of gods and daemons, and what it would do to their fear. He knew Falkar’s words to be true.
Images of Terra burning filled his mind. Of its walls cast down. Of his brothers broken. Of its citizens slaughtered. Of its ideals ground into dust.
Will you do what is necessary to prevent that future?
With that question echoing through his thoughts, Torr clicked open his Legion-coded vox channels.
‘Squad Haster, make ready.’
He heard the thud of ceramite boots on the floor as they moved to attention beside him. He heard the click of boltguns loading. He smelled the tang of fear in the air.
He glanced sideways towards Haster. His old friend’s face was a grim mask, unreadable save a fury blazing in his eyes. A fury at me? pondered Torr. Or at what we must do? What have we become?
But Torr knew such anger was irrelevant. He knew what must be done. What duty demanded. He looked back across the refugees arrayed before him.
‘Citizens of the Imperium,’ he said, his gene-enhanced voice carrying easily throughout the hanger. ‘You will accompany us back to the Oath of Unity. There you will be processed and sent for internment on Titan. These are the orders of Lord Dorn and Malcador the Sigillite. Do not resist.’
Anger filled the air almost immediately after his pronouncement. Questions and shouts spread like wildfire through the crowd as something snapped in their collective minds. The sight of the astartes warriors before them, once a promise of salvation and deliverance, now the face of repression and danger.
One woman stepped out from the crowd. Her face, painfully thin from malnutrition, was a contorted mask of rage. She held a broken piece of piping tight in two hands.
‘Why are you doing this?’ she screamed. ‘What crime have we committed? You should be protecting us! Helping us!’
‘Stand down, citizen,’ commanded Torr. The fury in the woman’s voice was a spark to his own base instincts. He fought to keep his voice calm. He fought to stop his hands from reaching for the bolt pistol at his belt.
‘You are monsters!’ screamed the woman. ‘You oppress us! For what crime? Have we not suffered enough?’
‘Stand down,’ said Torr once more. A warm heat began to spread through his muscles as they loosened. He felt his hearts thump faster. His trigger finger itched once more. He found he had drawn his bolt pistol.
Her cry was taken up by the rest of the crowd. They pressed forward, towards Torr and the other Imperial Fists. Torr made to step in front of Falkar, but noticed the Sigillite’s agent had disappeared.
A howl of pain split the air. One of the black armoured figures tumbled from the horde of refugees, kicked to the ground. Their throat had been slit. Their face was a mass of bruising radiating out from caved-in eye sockets. Blood wept from stab wounds across their body. Torr’s eyes settled on their empty holster.
A gunshot rang out. Torr felt its force against his pauldron. Heard it ricochet against the dull steel of the cargo hold’s roof.
He raised his pistol. Squad Haster appeared in his periphery, shields locked together, bolters ready. There was no need to open the vox channel this time. Not with his brothers so close.
‘Fire.’
+++
Dead bodies littered the cargo hold. It was an abattoir. Blood coated the floor and splattered the walls. Bodies – of men, women and children – lay at unnatural angles, their limbs torn like petals from a flower by the explosive power of bolt rounds. The stench of shit and piss and gunsmoke filled his nostrils.
Accusing eyes stared back at him. Over six hundred dead. He had made the count himself. His eyes met the dead gaze of Patti’s father.
Why? they asked. In Torr’s own voice. It is the question he asked Falkar. Now it is the question he asks himself.
Torr opened his eyes, bringing his mind back from the slaughter in the cargo hold of the Destiny’s Daughter. Agony shot through his arm. He bit down, grinding his teeth and tasting the iron tang of his own blood as he shut out the effects of the Pain Glove.
Discipline and unyielding will, he reminded himself, but the question remained. It echoed through his mind.
Why?
But Torr knew the answer.
Because you are a weapon. A monster.
Because it is what you need to be. Because it is your purpose to be the rock upon which the Imperium can be built. To find victory, so that those that come after you can build a better world.
Torr knew this in his hearts. He had heard his father speak on it. He remembered giving his oath aboard the Phalanx. He remembered kneeling before his Lord Dorn, hand thrust into a brazier of fire, and swearing to be the weapon that the Imperium needed. To never give in. To find victory. No matter the cost.
No matter the cost.
He thought once more of the refugees. He thought of Patti and her father, Emil. Of what they suffered at the hands of his treacherous cousins. Of the danger they posed to the Imperium’s victory. Of what they had suffered at the hands of the Imperium.
He thought of Falkar’s words. ‘And what, lord captain, would be the purpose of your sacrifices should we lose this war?’
And he vowed anew that he would not lose. That he would find victory. He vowed to do whatever was necessary. He vowed to be that monster now, so that the Imperium and its dream could live on.
For that was his duty. And duty is all.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
If you you enjoyed that, please give it a rating over on the website, and check out the other stories in that anthology!
https://40k.coldopenstories.com/dutys-burden/
https://40k.coldopenstories.com/category/short-fiction/anthology-xii/
submitted by Shelts89 to Warhammer30k [link] [comments]


2023.05.27 20:48 Shelts89 Duty's Burden

Hello everyone!
Just wanted to share a story I wrote and has been picked up by the good people at Cold Open Stories.

Hope you enjoy!
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

++ Do not look to us for kindness. Do not look to us for hope. We are not the kind children of this new age. We are the rocks of its foundation. ++
Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the VII
A flash of light burned in the black of space.
Is this it? thought Cassian Torr, Captain of the 117th Company, VII Legion. Has Horus come?
His twin hearts beat faster at the thought, even as the more logical parts of his mind ran through a thousand other possibilities. Yet ultimately he knew what he had seen: a ship. A ship tearing its way into real space. Into the Sol System. Into the heart of the Imperium.
He scanned the endless void, eyes scouring the debris and detritus that littered the outer regions of Terra’s system. Searching for more flashes. For more ships. For any sign that this was the first pebble in an avalanche of violence that would crash against the walls of Sol.
Yet none came.
‘Speak to me, Captain Narsus,’ he said, turning to look back at the Oath of Unity’s mortal commander. His golden-yellow armour purred with even that slight movement, the sound lost in the cacophony that was the bridge. Astartes, mortal crew, Tech Priests and servitors bustled in constant motion, the ordered and smooth running of the Gladius Frigate hidden amongst the apparent anarchy. ‘What is it we face today?’
‘A single ship, my lord,’ replied Narsus, voice heavy with exhaustion. ‘Not military class. A merchant trader; its code identifies it as the Destiny’s Daughter. I am picking up no shields or weapons signals. Their engines are practically dead. They’re simply drifting.’
Torr knew the long hours and endless days being demanded of the man were unfair, that no unaugmented human could hope to keep up such work for long. Yet it was what Dorn and the Sigillite deemed necessary. It was what victory in the name of Unity and the Imperial Truth deemed necessary.
And Torr would not have the Oath of Unity found wanting. When this madness was over, when Horus was defeated, the Imperium would be rebuilt as it should have been. As the Emperor willed it. As a bastion of truth, science, reason and hope.
What has Horus sent against us? Torr asked himself as he looked back into space. Is this some new trickery? Some new lie?
He had patrolled the edges of the Sol System for years. Ever since the Eisenstein had brought the impossible news of Horus’s betrayal to Dorn and the Imperial Fists. In the intervening years, the entirety of the system had been transformed into a fortress – patrols like his, its first and furthest line of defence.
But it was a line yet to be tested.
Nothing had reached the Sol System. Not since the Eisenstein. It was as if silence had engulfed the galaxy. Yet Torr knew this could not be true. All eighteen Legions – loyal and treacherous – could not have just gone silent. Something out there, beyond the cold of the void, had changed.
He saw this also in the Oath of Unity’s Astropath. In her whispered mutterings. In her nervous glances towards the open void.
Summons had been sent to those Legions, Expeditionary Forces and Forge Worlds known to be loyal, a tsunami of astropathic messages to sweep through the galaxy. Yet nothing came back. No ships reached them. No messages. Are we alone? Have all our brother Legions turned their backs on the dream of the Imperium? On their oaths and vows? On Terra?
Something unfamiliar wormed its way through him at the thought. Is this fear? That emotion was all but unknown, ever since he had been plucked from the ice hives of Inwit and raised to the ranks of the Legiones Astartes. And yet, he pondered, perhaps its echo still exists somewhere within.
‘Are we receiving any communication from them?’ he asked, his voice flat and hard, masking his thoughts and fears. ‘Does anything live aboard?’
‘No communications, my lord,’ answered Narsus. ‘But we are picking up life signs. Not many, but undeniably human.’
Torr nodded. ‘Very good, Captain. Make full speed to intercept. Have weapons ready to fire, but hold until commanded.’
‘Your will, my lord,’ said Narsus. He paused for a heartbeat. ‘Should I alert Lord Falkar? The Sigillite’s orders may pertain to this.’
Torr rubbed his armoured gauntlet across his closely shaven scalp, feeling the iron of his centenary mark of service riven into his thick, transhuman brow. The mark of over a century of service to the ideals of Truth and Unity. It reminded him of the campaigns he had fought. Of the brothers he had lost. Of the horrors he had seen. He shook his head. ‘No. Lord Falkar’s involvement is to be a last resort.’
He opened his Legion vox link. ‘ Sergeant Haster, prepare a boarding party.’
+++
Shadows and silence filled the Destiny’s Daughter. Torr and Breacher Squad Haster moved through her corridors in purposeful unity, methodical and thorough. Their shields overlapped to create an impenetrable wall of ceramite and iron. The golden yellow of their thick MKIII armour was bathed crimson as emergency lumens flashed endlessly throughout the seemingly deserted ship.
Torr heard a click in his helm, followed instantly by another, as he had every five minutes since the boarding operation had begun nearly an hour ago. The signals told him that Breacher Squads Solon and Carr were moving through the ship on schedule, having met no resistance or signs of life. He suspected he’d receive the same ‘all clears’ again in five minutes.
He clicked back in reply, then let out a growl of frustration. His trigger finger itched, aching to feel the kick of his bolter, to hear its roar.
He took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm, and silently chided himself for the moment of laxity. He remembered the words of his father and Primarch, Lord Dorn: Discipline. Duty. Unyielding Will. These are the measures by which every warrior is judged.
Am I bored? he asked himself. If he was being honest, he’d half hoped to find an ambush aboard the Destiny’s Daughter. To see his traitorous brothers advancing towards him, bolters roaring their madness. The colours of those Legions he had once fought beside – the regal purple of the Emperor’s Children, the sea-green of the Sons of Horus, the blood-splattered white and blue of the World Eaters – flashed through his mind and he ground his teeth. He wanted to kill.
Astartes, he reflected, were not built for such lengthy periods of inactivity. For long years of patrol and garrison. For what was now demanded of him and his brothers.
‘Is all well, Captain?’ asked Haster, the Veteran Sergeant’s gravel voice filling his helm’s private comm-link.
‘All is well, Brother-Sergeant,’ Torr replied. ‘I was distracted. Thank you for drawing my attention back to the duty at hand.’
He heard Haster’s grunt of laughter in his vox-link. ‘Some things never change, it seems. I’ve been watching your back since we were Initiates. What would you do without me?’
Torr felt the corners of his mouth tug into the beginnings of a smile as he checked their position against the ship’s schematics on his retinal display. They were not far from the centre of the ship and the cargo hold. Where, according to Captain Narsus, the only signs of life could be detected. ‘Not long now,’ he whispered to himself as the rhythmic clang of their armoured boots echoed throughout the labyrinthine corridors.
+++
Explosions ripped open the cargo hold’s blast doors, filling the hallways with smoke and fire and a storm of metal shards. Even through his helm’s environmental dampeners, Torr felt his ears ring.
Then the screams started.
‘Only fire on my command,’ he ordered as he raised his breacher shield and began to advance alongside Squad Haster. Smoke enveloped them for the briefest second, before they emerged into the cargo hold of the Destiny’s Daughter.
Torr finally saw something from beyond the Sol System, from the chaos that had engulfed the galaxy.
Ragged humanity filled the cargo hold, stretching out into the dark corners of the vast room. Men, women and children huddled together, their clothes hanging loosely from bone-thin limbs as wide, terror-stricken eyes stared back at him from faces too thin with hunger. Pleas for mercy, prayers for help, and screams of panic filled the air. Most shied away from the approaching astartes, hunching over in small groups, as if they could disappear into the gloom.
One man, braver or stupider than the rest, stepped out from the crowd. He clutched an autogun in his shaking hands, the weapon rusted almost beyond repair.
Do it.
The words rushed unbidden into Torr’s mind as he felt the increasingly familiar itch in his trigger finger. Adrenaline coursed through his veins as his eyes settled on the barrel of the gun.
Do it.
‘Begone, foul daemons!’ screamed the man, his voice breaking into a high-pitched squeak. ‘The Emperor protects!’
His final words were taken up by others amongst the crowd. It rallied them, as it echoed in the open cavern of the hold. Torr grimaced. At what those words implied. At a belief in the divine, so at odds with the enlightened ideals of the Imperium. Yet also of loyalty.
His hand shot out, too fast for a mortal’s eye to follow, and snatched the gun from the refugee’s hands with a savage twist. He felt the man resist for the briefest moment, before giving way with a pained cry.
Torr looked down at the man – on his knees, a grimace across his face, cradling one shoulder. He felt a moment’s satisfaction at the release of violence, before he crushed it with a force of will. These are citizens of the Imperium. They deserve our protection.
He dropped the gun. It clattered to the ground, the metallic ring echoing from the walls. Almost deafening in the silence of the hold.
Something behind the man flinched at the sound. A muffled cry reached Torr’s ears.
A girl, he thought as his eyes settled on the crouched figure. Perhaps four or five years old, Terran Standard. Though, he had to admit to finding estimates of age hard with such young mortals. Her hair had been crudely shorn to the scalp, but small tufts stuck out from amid the stubble. She clung tightly to the man’s back, keeping herself in his shadow, even as she stared up at him. Her eyes, wide and dark, met Torr’s. Yet she didn’t look away.
Brave, Torr thought, for a mortal. For one so young.
‘Stand down, civilians,’ he said, voice amplified by the vox in his armour. ‘You are safe now. You are in the custody of the Seventh.’
He noticed the girl wince at the sound of his voice, pressing her hands to her ears and looking down at the floor. Somewhere in the recesses of his mind, he dimly remembered the first time he had seen an astartes. The sheer size. The aura of violence. It had been overwhelming.
Torr dropped to one knee, bringing himself as close to the girl’s level as possible. He removed his helm, remembering a treatise written by Guilliman on first interactions between astartes and mortals. Such simple measures, the lord of the Thirteenth argued, lessened the shock when interacting with members of the Legions. It humanised them in the eyes of the unaugmented.
Torr almost laughed at the idea. As if I have not given up my humanity to become what they need me to be. To become a shield for their kind. To become a weapon against the horrors of this universe.
He reached forward slowly, resting his gauntleted hand on the girl’s shoulder. ‘What is your name, child?’ he asked, doing his best to keep his voice light and the hint of a smile on his lips. He knew such verbal and physical cues were important to the unenhanced.
‘Patti,’ whispered the girl, bringing her gaze up to meet his once more. ‘Is… Is Mama here? Papa said she would be, even though she couldn’t get the same ship as us.’ Sobs began to wrack the little girl’s body and she hurled herself back against her father’s body, burying her face in his thin shirt.
Torr felt the temperature drop, permafrost creeping across the floor. Radiating out from the girl. Crawling up his arm. Psyker. He pulled back and turned to meet the father’s eyes.
‘We’re from the Lastrati System,’ said the man, his voice edged with hope, yet tinged with fear. ‘When the traitors came… There was such chaos. We got separated.’
Torr shook his head.
‘Yohanna,’ continued the man, his words tumbling out too quickly. ‘Yohanna Taraf. That’s her name. I am Emil. Her husband. There must be news.’
‘No,’ said Torr, his voice now stone and brooking no argument. ‘Yours is the first ship to have reached Sol in nearly two years.’
Emil fell silent, his jaw working wordlessly. The buzz of chatter filled the air, spreading like wildfire throughout the refugees as Torr’s words reached the ears of others.
‘The first?’ Emil asked eventually as he clasped his daughter’s hands. ‘But there were so many.’
Torr stared back for a moment, seeing the tears begin to trickle from Emil’s eyes. ‘I am sorry.’
He stood and turned his back on the man, looking over the silent wall of ceramite that Breacher Squad Haster had formed behind him. His eyes met Haster’s, seeing his old friend had also removed his helmet. ‘These people are not to leave this hall.’ He paused. ‘But do not harm them. They are loyal citizens of the Imperium.’
He turned his focus back to Emil and Patti once more. They were on their knees, arms wrapped tight around each other. The halo of frost around them crept ever further across the floor with each second. Their bodies rose and fell with choked sobs, tears streaming down their faces. Torr’s transhuman senses heard Emil whisper reassurances to his daughter as he stroked her hair. He told her that her mother would be okay. That she would find a way. That the Emperor was watching them. To have faith.
Superstition. Torr looked away in anger. Primitive. Illogical. He felt sick at the irony of it. That the Legions had spent two centuries crusading across the stars, destroying such beliefs and bringing the Truth to the galaxy. But, here it was. At the very heart of the Imperium itself.
Yet it is these people that stand loyal. Unlike my brother Legions. Unlike those I fought with. Unlike those I shed blood with. The thought soured in Torr’s mind, his mask of stone slipping to anger.
He saw the faces of those he had once fought beside from the Traitor Legions in his mind. The faces of those he had called once Brothers. Sar Krael of the Sons of Horus, his olive skin in stark contrast to the once brilliant white of their old Legion. Varon of the Emperor’s Children, his porcelain features marred by the occasional faint duelling scar. Kargur of the World Eaters, his brutish features only accentuated by a myriad of criss-crossing scars and his permanently broken nose.
Torr clicked his vox-link open, drawing himself back to the present. ‘Captain Narsus, do you hear me?’
‘Yes, my lord,’ came the reply, static scratching in Torr’s ears.
‘Inform Lord Dorn and First Captain Sigismund that we have made contact with refugees from the war.’ He paused. ‘Then prepare several parties of your mortal crew to board the Destiny’s Daughter. They are to bring food and water. Medicine too.’
‘Your will, my lord,’ replied Narsus. ‘I will see to it at once.’
Torr watched Patti and Emil for a second more. Their cries were hushed and lost in the vastness of the hold, their prayers faint, yet distinct. Other refugees shuffled away from them. Away from the creeping frost and the aura of cold. Away from the girl. From the psyker.
His stomach churned at what he had to do next.
‘Captain Narsus,’ he said once more. ‘Inform the Lord Falkar and the Sigillite’s agents too.’
+++
Torr watched black figures move through the crowd. Each bore the stylised I of Malcador, the Sigillite and the Emperor’s right hand, upon their chests. A symbol that conferred upon them nigh-on unlimited power.
He watched them methodically approach each group, dataslates in hand, recording each story – and he saw the fear and confusion in each refugee’s eyes. These men were something new, something unknown. And despite being just ordinary men and women – no, Torr corrected himself, Malcador’s people would never be ordinary – they seemingly commanded greater fear than the astartes of the VII Legion.
Disquiet filled Torr at their presence. At the nature of their work.
He glanced behind to Squad Haster. Each stood immobile, a fortress of ceramite and gene-enhanced flesh in their own right. Each proudly bore the black fist of the Seventh, declaring their allegiance for all to see. The Sigillite’s people could not be more different than the Sons of Dorn. What do they portend for the Imperium?
Sensing movement in the periphery of his vision, Torr looked towards the cargo hold’s doors. His eyes settled on a lone figure in burnished gold armour, a great blade at her waist, a crimson top knot tumbling down her back.
A member of the Silent Sisterhood.
Revulsion flooded through him at the sight. His twin hearts beat faster. Adrenaline began to pump through his gene-enhanced body. His hands clenched into tight fists.
He closed his eyes and forced himself to breathe deeply. To calm himself.
Opening his eyes, he found his gaze drawn to a group of the Sigillite’s agents. They were dragging a pair of refugees towards the Sister. Emil and Patti. Torr felt anger rise hot inside his chest at the realisation.
Tears stained the father’s cheeks, a look of weary defeat written across Emil’s face. The face of a broken man. Patti screamed. Her knuckles turned white as she gripped her father’s hands, his shirt, his arms. Her legs kicked wildly, her movements more frantic as she grew closer to the Witchseeker.
Torr’s eyes met hers. They were bloodshot and puffy, a river of tears flooding from them. Help me! Please! Help me! The words – Patti’s words – screamed in his mind. He shuddered. A ripple of terror ran through him, her own fear and anguish shared for just an instant.
His eidetic memory ran through her story. He remembered the way her father had described the terror and confusion as drop pods had rained from the sky above Lastrani. He could almost picture the mad scramble amid the ruins and smoke of the space port. The feel of fingers slipping apart as Patti’s mother was dragged away by the current of the crowd. He could almost smell the stench of sweat and piss as they had huddled in the dark of the Destiny’s Daughter, as it shuddered beneath the onslaught of cannon fire.
More superstitious minds might call it a miracle, he thought, pondering the immensity of the refugee’s luck. And this is the greeting they find from the Imperium? From those supposed to protect them? To be torn from each other’s arms after all they have suffered?
Something inside Torr snapped. His fingers curled involuntarily around the grip of his sword and he felt the blade slide just a fraction from its sheath as he strode towards the diorama of misery. Refugees stumbled from his path as the heavy tread of Squad Haster following echoed in his ears. As he had known they would, even without orders. They were his Brothers.
Is this the Imperium we fight for? Is this the future of humanity? The future my brothers died for? One of secrets and shadows? One where innocent people disappear in the night?
‘What is the meaning of this?’ Torr thundered as he neared the agents.
The closest flinched before turning to face him, his eyes wide as he took an involuntary step back. Torr heard the man swear under his breath as the chemical smell of fear filled his gene-enhanced nostrils.
‘Lord captain,’ the man started, ‘my orders are-’
‘I did not ask for your orders, Chosen of Malcador,’ growled Torr. ‘They are plainly clear. I asked for your reasons.’
The click of light footsteps sounded nearby. He glanced towards the sound, seeing the Sister had turned towards them, her face a passionless mask. He felt cold, an unnatural sense of dread filling him, as her eyes settled on him. He looked away quickly, returning to the mortal before him.
‘These people,’ began the agent again, straightening his back and meeting Torr’s gaze. ‘These people are to be transferred to-’
‘Silence,’ snarled Torr. He punched a finger in the direction of Patti and Emil. ‘Their only crime is fleeing the atrocities of the Traitor Legions. This girl could be trained. Her talents could benefit the Imperium. Instead, you drag her away into the shadows. Does your master fear little girls so much?’
The agent’s eyes flared angrily for a second, before flickering to the space behind Torr. The corners of his mouth tugged into a smile.
‘Is our presence so distasteful to you, Captain Torr?’
Torr remained silent as he turned to face this new speaker. Ice-blue eyes stared back at him from a hawkish face of ghostly skin. Silence settled between the two, stretching out for long, pregnant seconds.
‘I am always astounded by your kind’s aptitude for petty behaviour, Captain,’ continued the man, turning his own gaze upon the sight of Patti’s father. ‘It could be argued that such pettiness is the cause of all this madness.’
‘Indeed, Chosen Falkar,’ replied Torr after a moment.
He studied the Sigillite’s man. Falkar was painfully thin, with the typically near-emaciated and elongated form of those born and raised in the low gravity of space. Yet, despite the sheer difference in size and bulk that the astartes carried, the man weathered Torr’s gaze as if made of stone.
An impressive feat of mental strength, conceded Torr as he repressed the now familiar itch to draw his weapon. At the mortal’s display of defiance.
Torr ground his teeth as Patti’s pleas for help, her prayers to the Emperor, moved further away. He heard the scuff of her feet dragged across the floor. He heard a body slump to the floor, Emil’s sobs joining his daughter’s cacophony. The desire to draw his sword, to hear the bark of his bolter, swelled inside, near overwhelming.
You have failed them.
‘You speak of pettiness,’ snarled Torr, ‘yet you are not the one who has fought across the length and breadth of the galaxy. You are not the one who has seen his Brothers die. You are not the one who has sacrificed their very humanity. All this, I have done with the ideals of Unity and Truth in my hearts.’
Torr gestured across the hall, pointing at each of the Sigillite’s agents with a sharp jab of a finger.
‘You and your kind threaten those ideals. You sink this war into shadows and secrets. You are a poison that stains the Imperium.’ Torr spat. ‘What was the purpose of those sacrifices – my brothers’ sacrifices – if we throw our ideals away? We must hold ourselves to a higher standard.’
Falkar met the astartes’ tirade with a surprising calmness, his ice-blue eyes almost blazing in the gloom of the ship’s hold as they met Torr’s stare. ‘And what, lord captain,’ he replied, ‘would be the purpose of those sacrifices should we lose this war?’ Falkar let the question sit for a second. ‘We are a new weapon, Captain – or a new poison, as you say – because this is a new war.’
Silence hung for an eternity between the two of them. Eventually the mortal turned to look across the mass of humanity that filled the room. He took a deep breath and clasped his hands behind his back.
‘Our enemy is insidious, Lord Captain. They will not just come for us with bolter and chainsword. They will not just come to tear down our walls. They will come to tear down our very purpose. They will come to destroy everything we believe in. They will come from the shadows and dark. We are the shield against these threats. That is why the Sigillite created our order.’
‘Then you have already failed,’ Torr said after a moment. ‘You cannot defend the ideals of Truth and Unity with lies and deceit.’
Falkar shook his head and pulled out a dataslate, fingers flicking through its contents. When he’d finished, he looked up and met Torr’s eyes once more.
There is something different in him now, noticed the astartes. The hard edge is gone. There is sadness there. An exhaustion of the soul.
‘Then I am sorry, Lord Torr,’ started Falkar. ‘For what I must ask of you now.’
He held out the dataslate. Runes of the highest authority flashed across its surface. Torr read the orders, even as his stomach tightened. As his trigger finger itched once more. As the desire to rip his sword free filled him.
‘No.’ He growled the word through clenched teeth.
‘No?’
Falkar’s eyes momentarily flashed in surprise. Just for an instant, but Torr saw it. He did not expect resistance, he realised. Not from a Son of the Seventh. They think us cold. Made of stone. They do not understand the fire that burns within. The drive. The Purpose. The ideals.
‘No,’ Torr growled once more.
‘There is no refusal here, Captain Torr,’ replied Falkar, his voice now clipped with an icy steel. ‘These orders come from the Sigillite himself. And co-signed by your father. Would you deny Lord Dorn’s command?’
Torr froze. Co-signed by your father. The words haunted him. To see Lord Dorn and the Seventh dragged down into the mire of shadows. That was what they meant.
Would you deny Lord Dorn’s command? The words flittered through his head as he thought of what was being asked of him. Of how they had treated those fleeing for safety.
What kind of monsters have we become? he asked himself.
He thought of Patti and her father’s story. He thought of all he had heard from the refugees. He ran through every detail. He knew, as sure as if he was there himself, what happened in the Lastrati System. He knew what happened when the Sixteenth had come.
Anger swelled inside by what his erstwhile cousins had done. By what the once proud scions of Horus had become. Disgust filled him at the thought of those warriors he was once proud to have served alongside. By how far they had fallen.
What kind of monsters have they become?
He looked down at the dataslate again. He read the words again.
+ Immediate transfer of all non-psykers to the internment prisons of Titan for processing and interrogation. +
‘Why?’
Falkar breathed deeply and nodded, a look of relief washing across his face. ‘Because of what they have seen. Because of what they know. Because their tales of daemons and gods and monsters cannot be allowed to spread throughout Terra’s defenders. Because these stories, and those that would spread them, are a weapon for our enemy. As sure as any bolter.’
Falkar fell silent and looked back across the refugees. Torr turned with him a second later.
Is this the future you fought for? The question whispered in the back of Torr’s mind. Is this the Imperium you would be a part of? But what is the alternative?
He thought of the defenders of Terra. Of the fear he has seen in their eyes already. He thought of what he had heard today, of the tales of gods and daemons, and what it would do to their fear. He knew Falkar’s words to be true.
Images of Terra burning filled his mind. Of its walls cast down. Of his brothers broken. Of its citizens slaughtered. Of its ideals ground into dust.
Will you do what is necessary to prevent that future?
With that question echoing through his thoughts, Torr clicked open his Legion-coded vox channels.
‘Squad Haster, make ready.’
He heard the thud of ceramite boots on the floor as they moved to attention beside him. He heard the click of boltguns loading. He smelled the tang of fear in the air.
He glanced sideways towards Haster. His old friend’s face was a grim mask, unreadable save a fury blazing in his eyes. A fury at me? pondered Torr. Or at what we must do? What have we become?
But Torr knew such anger was irrelevant. He knew what must be done. What duty demanded. He looked back across the refugees arrayed before him.
‘Citizens of the Imperium,’ he said, his gene-enhanced voice carrying easily throughout the hanger. ‘You will accompany us back to the Oath of Unity. There you will be processed and sent for internment on Titan. These are the orders of Lord Dorn and Malcador the Sigillite. Do not resist.’
Anger filled the air almost immediately after his pronouncement. Questions and shouts spread like wildfire through the crowd as something snapped in their collective minds. The sight of the astartes warriors before them, once a promise of salvation and deliverance, now the face of repression and danger.
One woman stepped out from the crowd. Her face, painfully thin from malnutrition, was a contorted mask of rage. She held a broken piece of piping tight in two hands.
‘Why are you doing this?’ she screamed. ‘What crime have we committed? You should be protecting us! Helping us!’
‘Stand down, citizen,’ commanded Torr. The fury in the woman’s voice was a spark to his own base instincts. He fought to keep his voice calm. He fought to stop his hands from reaching for the bolt pistol at his belt.
‘You are monsters!’ screamed the woman. ‘You oppress us! For what crime? Have we not suffered enough?’
‘Stand down,’ said Torr once more. A warm heat began to spread through his muscles as they loosened. He felt his hearts thump faster. His trigger finger itched once more. He found he had drawn his bolt pistol.
Her cry was taken up by the rest of the crowd. They pressed forward, towards Torr and the other Imperial Fists. Torr made to step in front of Falkar, but noticed the Sigillite’s agent had disappeared.
A howl of pain split the air. One of the black armoured figures tumbled from the horde of refugees, kicked to the ground. Their throat had been slit. Their face was a mass of bruising radiating out from caved-in eye sockets. Blood wept from stab wounds across their body. Torr’s eyes settled on their empty holster.
A gunshot rang out. Torr felt its force against his pauldron. Heard it ricochet against the dull steel of the cargo hold’s roof.
He raised his pistol. Squad Haster appeared in his periphery, shields locked together, bolters ready. There was no need to open the vox channel this time. Not with his brothers so close.
‘Fire.’
+++
Dead bodies littered the cargo hold. It was an abattoir. Blood coated the floor and splattered the walls. Bodies – of men, women and children – lay at unnatural angles, their limbs torn like petals from a flower by the explosive power of bolt rounds. The stench of shit and piss and gunsmoke filled his nostrils.
Accusing eyes stared back at him. Over six hundred dead. He had made the count himself. His eyes met the dead gaze of Patti’s father.
Why? they asked. In Torr’s own voice. It is the question he asked Falkar. Now it is the question he asks himself.
Torr opened his eyes, bringing his mind back from the slaughter in the cargo hold of the Destiny’s Daughter. Agony shot through his arm. He bit down, grinding his teeth and tasting the iron tang of his own blood as he shut out the effects of the Pain Glove.
Discipline and unyielding will, he reminded himself, but the question remained. It echoed through his mind.
Why?
But Torr knew the answer.
Because you are a weapon. A monster.
Because it is what you need to be. Because it is your purpose to be the rock upon which the Imperium can be built. To find victory, so that those that come after you can build a better world.
Torr knew this in his hearts. He had heard his father speak on it. He remembered giving his oath aboard the Phalanx. He remembered kneeling before his Lord Dorn, hand thrust into a brazier of fire, and swearing to be the weapon that the Imperium needed. To never give in. To find victory. No matter the cost.
No matter the cost.
He thought once more of the refugees. He thought of Patti and her father, Emil. Of what they suffered at the hands of his treacherous cousins. Of the danger they posed to the Imperium’s victory. Of what they had suffered at the hands of the Imperium.
He thought of Falkar’s words. ‘And what, lord captain, would be the purpose of your sacrifices should we lose this war?’
And he vowed anew that he would lose. That he would find victory. He vowed to do whatever was necessary. He vowed to be that monster now, so that the Imperium and its dream could live on.
For that was his duty. And duty is all.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
If you you enjoyed that, please give it a rating over on the website, and check out the other stories in that anthology!
https://40k.coldopenstories.com/dutys-burden/
https://40k.coldopenstories.com/category/short-fiction/anthology-xii/
submitted by Shelts89 to 40kFanfictions [link] [comments]


2023.05.27 15:32 only4psj Upcat chemistry part

Hello po! As someone na medj alanganin sa chem (huhu, im a bio girly), i just want to ask past UPCAT takers kung gaano ka-heavy yung chem questions during your time po? Like if u can recall po, marami po bang question sa science na chem focused? I'm currently cramming chem din po kasi halos limot ko na rin ang concepts TT Answers are hiiiighly appreciated!
submitted by only4psj to peyups [link] [comments]


2023.05.27 14:21 Goldeneye0X1_ Chapter 3! Happy Reading

Previous Chapter
While returning to her dorm, Zdrada had to deal with angels turning their heads and whispering what must’ve been terrible things. She didn’t care right now. She dealt with bad comments to her face in Hell, and worse things behind her back. Same situation, different faces.
When she made it back to her room, she noticed the small box with the room number on it. A letter was sticking out.
“That was quick.” Zdrada said, thinking the angels delivered her schedule already. She took the letter into the room and sat on her bed. Belphegor was happily napping in her bed. Good to know that she’s keeping her promise for now.
Zdrada opened the letter and almost audibly questioned its contents. This wasn’t her schedule.
“Go Home Hellspawn.”
“Ugh.” Zdrada sighed. She ripped up the letter and tossed into the room’s trashcan. If they wanted to get a reaction out of her, they’d have to do better than that.
Zdrada laid down. She thought about what to do for two weeks. Sure, the Helltaker’s house is only a teleport away, but there’s no way Michael would let her have that kind of freedom. She could familiarize herself with the campus, but with all the angels around… bad idea. She needed some kind of disguise or something.
KNOCK KNOCK.
Strange. Jordyn said she had pre-semester class. Who else could it be? More curious than anything, Zdrada got up to answer the door.
It looked like Michael, but her face was too soft. And she was almost genuinely smiling.
“It has come to my attention that you enrolled yourself for me. I must ask, why?” Michael said.
“Well, one of the angels said that you are the busiest angel in Heaven, and enrolling myself would make it a little easier for you.” Zdrada replied.
“I see. Well, I now have some free time. Walk with me.” Michael said.
Michael and Zdrada walked around the campus. Michael giving Zdrada a tour. Between the buildings and other locations, Michael taught Zdrada more about Heavenly culture.
“After each week of work, the Lady will give a sermon to her lambs. You only need to be outside to be participating. As the Lady sees and knows all, lying about participation is impossible.”
“Is there a punishment for skipping?” Zdrada asked.
“Ask Lucifer.”
“So, I just go home.”
“You also lose my sponsorship. A lamb being cast out is a big stain on my reputation.”
Zdrada gave those words some thought. She needed Michael’s help. If she has to go outside once a week to keep it, that must not be so bad.
“Any other things I have to do?” Zdrada asked.
“As you know, things here aren’t free. I expect you to provide for yourself.” Michael replied.
“Fantastic. What jobs can a demon even do around here?”
Michael stopped. “I… don’t know. Normally, we don’t even think about things like productive demons.” She started to think hard, murmuring “no” and “definitely not” every little bit. Then she looked at Zdrada. “How good are you with a chainsaw?” she asked.
“What?” Zdrada asked, confused.
“Before you object, let me say it is productive.” Michael pulled out her teleporter, and pressed the button.
When the flash subsided, Zdrada saw that she and Michael were standing in front of what looked like a laboratory.
“Follow me.” Michael said, walking towards the building. Zdrada followed.
Inside was an angel in a lab coat. She saluted Michael, then asked. “Yes ma’am? Do you need anything?”
“I have a subject for you.” Michael replied.
Zdrada was confused. She wasn’t some guinea pig. “Hang on. I dealt with enough ‘research’ at home with Azazel. I’m not- “
The angel interrupted. “Azazel? Our intern, Azazel? She’s still alive?” she asked.
“Not important right now.” Michael said. “You were saying you needed someone savage enough for your tests, right?”
“Yes. Even our most willing subjects only go so far. We have a test ready right now if she’s willing.”
Michael looked at Zdrada expectantly.
“Fine.” Zdrada said. She didn’t like this, but if she wanted to afford her food and lollipops, she had to.
“Follow me.” The angel led the pair through the lab until they came to a door. The angel opened it and looked to Zdrada. “Step through here. Michael and I will be in the next room.”
Reluctantly, Zdrada entered the room and looked around. It looked like an interrogation room. A table was on her right. On it was a chainsaw and a pair of daggers. On her left was a dummy. Zdrada could see what she had to do without instruction, but with Michael with her, she felt that she had to wait.
On the wall above the table was a window. She could see Michael and the other angel enter the room and put headsets on. When the angel spoke, Zdrada heard it on the intercom.
“Okay, this is a test to see how messy mortals can kill each other. Before we begin, please state your name.”
“My name is Zdrada.”
“Excellent. On the table before you is a set of weaponry. Please choose what you want and ‘kill’ the target across the room.”
Normally, Zdrada would use the daggers. It’s more convenient than a chainsaw. However, given the question Michael asked earlier, Zdrada chose the chainsaw.
It felt almost natural when she held it. She started it up, and gave it a few test swings. Suddenly, she felt a bloodlust boil inside her. Everything the demons in school said to her or about her resurfaced in her memories. The letter the angels sent her. Even the terrible things Malina said to her when they were young. She saw them in the dummy.
She lunged at the dummy, stabbing it in center mass. Then pulling back only to swipe the torso in half. Then, when the top fell, Zdrada stood over it and split the head in half.
Then, calm. A euphoric sensation took her. Like she had just climaxed.
“Thank you. That was… some good data.” The angel said. “Please return the chainsaw to the table. We will see you in the hall.”
Zdrada put the chainsaw down as she found it, then exited the room as Michael and the angel met her.
“What did you do to me?” Zdrada asked. “When I picked up the chainsaw, I wanted to kill something. I’ve never been that angry before.”
“The chainsaw you picked up had a chemical on its handles.” The angel replied. “It slips into the bloodstream and straight to the brain. Ethically, we can’t use it on angels, but demons are immune to the side effects.”
“Am I infected now!?” Zdrada was panicking.
“No. No, you’re fine. The chemical only lasts a minute. Then your immune system will dispose of it.”
“She performed her duty. Compensate her.” Michael said.
“Of course. Follow me.” The pair were led to the front of the lab. The angel took some coins out of some compartment and counted out 40. “Here you go. Whenever you perform a test, this is what you will get as pay.”
Michael looked at the coins. “Forty cornets. That’ll last a month.”
“Don’t worry. Half of them are two-cornet tokens. Sixty is more than enough.”
“So each time I come in, I get paid this?” Zdrada asked.
“Yes. Don’t worry, this isn’t a normal job. Come in whenever you like. And you’ll be compensated.”
“Okay. I can handle this.” Zdrada replied.
Michael and Zdrada exited the lab. Michael pulled out her teleporter, and the pair were back on campus. “Sixty cornets for one test. I think we’re going easy on you.”
“Hang on. We need to talk about that chemical. What happened?” Zdrada said angrily.
“It’s a simple berserker serum." Michael replied. "We simply increased the speed of it activating. The side effects are dizziness and fainting. Demons, of course, don’t feel it because of their biology.”
“Any long term effects?”
“Your High Prosecutor would know. They use it for their job.”
Zdrada grumbled. If being angry was the cost of almost two months pay, she was getting off easy. The pair continued the tour until Michael was needed elsewhere.
“Want a ride to your dorm?” Michael asked.
“No. I’ll walk back.” Zdrada replied.
“Very well. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Michael flashed and was gone, leaving Zdrada alone.
Zdrada was walking back when she heard running footsteps behind her. Suddenly, she was pushed to the ground.
“Oh, sorry. I- “
“What the hell is your problem?” Zdrada pushed herself up and turned towards the voice. She was almost stunned.
The being in front of her was the spitting image of Judgement. If it weren’t for the white clothes, black hair, and shining halo, Zdrada would’ve thought Judgement snuck into Heaven.
“Judgement?” Zdrada asked.
The angel stopped picking up the mess she made when she ran into Zdrada. “How do you know that name? She’s been gone forever.” She then stood up and intimidated Zdrada, well tried to.
“She’s Hell’s High Prosecutor. I live with her.”
Instantly the angel’s gaze softened. “You know Judgement? She’s my sister.”
With all hostility gone, Zdrada helped the angel clean up her mess. “I didn’t know she had family. She never talks about them.”
“Yeah, that sounds like her. After she fell, she went no contact with us.”
“Did anything happen? Lucy talks with angels all the time. It’s not like Judgement couldn’t talk.”
The angel’s eyes looked like they had tears starting to well up. “No offense, but we just met.”
“Oh, sorry. What’s your name?” Zdrada asked.
“My name is Grace. Future Doctor of the Lady.”
When the mess was cleaned up, the pair stood up. Zdrada had to look up to meet Grace’s eyes. Now that she was recovered from the fall, she fully noticed how tall Grace was. “Uh, sorry. How tall are you exactly?”
“Yeah, I’m tall.” Grace said. “I was born with what’s called the ‘Atlas Gene’. I’m almost seven feet tall. My muscles are easier to maintain, and I’m very athletic.” Grace looked at her watch. “No! I’m late! Gotta go, bye!” She then dashed away carrying her papers.

It was dark by the time Zdrada made it to her dorm room. Once she closed the door, she realized the last time she slept, she was in Taker’s house. The exhaustion hit her hard. She barely took off her uniform when she almost fell on her bed. Thankfully, Belphegor wasn’t interfering. Sleep came quickly.

Loud church bells woke Zdrada. No doubt the signal to start the day. They were loud enough to even wake up her roommate. Before she went back to sleep, Zdrada had to ask something.
“Hey, is there a store I can get any nicotine suckers?” she asked.
Belphegor grumbled. “There’s a supermarket on campus. Get a map.” She then rolled over and fell asleep.
Zdrada stood up and stretched. Thankfully the bed was comfortable and didn’t give Zdrada much unwanted pain. She went to take a shower. After she got out and dried off, she realized she had one uniform. The rest of her clothes were her own from Hell. Normally, she wouldn’t care what others thought of her clothes, but here, she was ostracized because she was a demon. It’d be better to at least attempt to blend in.
Regretfully, Zdrada put on her dirty uniform and went to the supermarket. She looked up where it was on her phone. As prestigious as it was, The university was expected to have a digital map. On her way there, the angels were looking and talking again. It didn’t bother her now. Maybe that chemical didn’t affect her that much after all. Still, she was curious.
She called Justice on her phone. She picked up on the second ring.
“Hey, Zdrada. How’s Heaven treatin’ ya?” Justice asked.
“Not as good as Hell, to be honest.” Zdrada replied. “I wanted to ask you something.”
“Yeah? What’s up?”
“Do you know about the angel’s berserker serum?”
Justice’s tone was serious all of a sudden. “That’s top secret in Hell. How do you know of it?”
“I was a guinea pig in a scientific test, and I apparently used it.”
“How… Much?”
“I don’t know. It was a thin coat on the handle of my weapon.”
“Okay. That’s, like, a negligible amount. How long did the rage last?”
“Maybe 30 seconds.”
Justice was silent for a bit. Finally, she spoke, “Don’t take anymore tests. With that potency, and your unfamiliar body, the effects won’t be good after a while.”
“I’ll try not to, but that’s the only way I can get money here.”
“Of course, stupid racists. I’ll have Lucy talk to Michael. She’ll get you a proper job. I’ll see you later. Don’t take any more tests.”
“I won’t. See you later.” Zdrada then hung up. The conversation was long enough to get Zdrada to the supermarket, called Allmart. Zdrada walked in and was once again amazed. The place was huge. It didn’t look that big outside, but she couldn’t see any of the walls once inside.
An angel walked up to Zdrada. “Good morning. What are you shopping for today?”
Zdrada was shocked at the sight of a kind angel. “Uh. I need nicotine suckers and replacement uniforms.”
The angel produced a teleporter similar to Michael’s. In her other hand, she had what looked like a phone. She typed something on it, then pointed it to the teleporter.
BEEP
“Here you go. Press once for your suckers, once again for uniforms, and once one last time for the registers. Have a great day.” She handed Zdrada the teleporter.
“Thank you.” Zdrada said. She then pressed the button. Next thing she saw was a wall of suckers. She looked at a bunch of them and picked out enough to get her through at least a week.
She pushed the button again and saw rows upon rows of clothes. Another angel was attending the setup. Zdrada recognized her.
“Oh hey, Grace. You work here?” Zdrada greeted friendlily.
“Oh hi. Yeah, one of my jobs to make ends meet. Do you need anything here?” Grace asked.
“Yeah, I only have the one uniform.” Zdrada gestured to herself.
Grace frowned. “I see. Don’t worry. I can get you sized and almost buried in uniforms.”
The next almost hour was spent at Grace's workstation with Grace using a measuring tape to take Zdrada’s numbers. The two talked with each other and got to know one another pretty well. When she was done, Grace went to find the right size clothes, and came back with arms full.
“Alright. These are your size right now.” Grace said. “However, you looked and felt a little underfed, so these are a bit wider in the tummy area.”
Normally, Zdrada would be insulted, but Grace was different. Her gentler nature made the comment seem more like caring than hurtful. She took the wider uniforms into the dressing rooms and tried them on. They fit perfectly, and she could breathe easier.
When Zdrada stepped out of the room, Grace studied her. “Turn around please.” She asked politely. Zdrada did so. “I think it’s perfect.”
“Of course, YOU think so.” A Boston accent yelled.
Zdrada could see Grace’s shoulders drop and her face fill with annoyance. “You’re not helping this customer, Seraphina. I am.”
An angel walked over. Her dress was a gorgeously styled version of the store uniform. Her hair was almost bleach blonde, dressed in twin ponytails flowing down to her knees. Her skin was the now familiar tan that many angels had. Even her halo shone stylishly.
“Helping her be roasted until graduation. I always tell you. Those shirts and pants don’t go together.” Seraphina scolded Grace.
“And I always tell you that this is official Lazarus uniform. If it’s not to your liking, take it up with the headmistress.” Grace calmly said to Seraphina.
“Please.” Seraphina turned to Zdrada. “Babe, come with me. I’ll make sure you fit in.” She then pulled Zdrada by the arm.
“Uh.” Zdrada said. Totally lost.
“Trust me. It’s better to just go with her.” Grace said, defeated.
Seraphina turned around, “Oh no you don’t. You’re coming too. It’s time you learned fashion.”
Grace sighed, then walked where Seraphina was dragging Zdrada.
When the group got to her station, Seraphina looked at Zdrada. Zdrada could feel the burn of this angel's gaze exactly where she was looking.
“Grace, what are her numbers?” Seraphina asked expectantly.
“Right here.” Grace said with exasperation and handed her a clipboard.
Seraphina studied the measurements. She nodded approvingly, then went to grab more clothes.
When she was gone, Zdrada looked at Grace, still totally lost.
“That’s Seraphina.” Grace said. “She’s Archangel Uriel’s daughter, and she knows it. Even as a freshman, she’s the most popular and loved student here. At least she’s not too much trouble. She’s just stubborn and apparently knows everything about fashion.”
“Is she your supervisor?” Zdrada asked.
Grace laughed. “Devils no. She was hired 3 weeks ago.”
“And she acts like that!?”
“I did say Headmistress’s daughter.”
“Damn.”
Seraphina came back, arms full of clothes. “Okay. Just like Grace here, I gave you a normal pile, and a wider pile. Put them on and I’ll help you finish.”
Zdrada took the wider clothes and put them on. Even in the mirror in the dressing room, she felt that she looked better. She came out of the dressing room and Seraphina almost lunged at her.
“Okay. So, when you stand like this, you put your arm like this…” almost 10 minutes of posing lessons later, Seraphina was satisfied. “There. You’re like a model.”
“Are all the bracelets and necklaces really necessary?” Grace asked. “I doubt she would remember all them every day. Let alone in order.”
Seraphina studied Zdrada. “Hmm. I guess we could get away with just a single necklace. But not that rosary chain. It’s far too gaudy.”
“NO!” Zdrada yelled, then said calmly. “It’s an… heirloom.”
“Heirloom? Demon?” Seraphina sighed haughtily. “Well, I guess there’s some exceptions. Fine.”
Almost 2 hours pass before Zdrada finally passed Seraphina’s test. When she was about to press the button to teleport to the register, Seraphina piped up.
“I got you.” She grabbed Zdrada’s hand. “Press the button.”
Seraphina jumped over the counter and whispered into the cashier’s ear. She jumped back over to Zdrada’s side and gave her a box. “Open this after you leave. Put it on immediately.” She then pressed the button on her own teleporter and left.
The cashier rang up everything. “Alright. Ten uniforms and 6 bundles of suckers. Normally your total would be 600 cornets, but after your friend’s help. It comes out to… 5 cornets.”
Zdrada paid for everything and took her bags of clothes and suckers to go back to her dorm room. Once outside, she opened the box Seraphina gave her.
Inside was a black and gold beanie. The tag had a note from Seraphina.
“Wear this. Like, all the time. Your hair goes with it too much to not wear it.”
“Thank you, Seraphina.” Zdrada said aloud.
After she put on the beanie, she opened a lollipop, and walked to her dorm. On her way, no angels looked at her or whispered to each other.
submitted by Goldeneye0X1_ to Helltaker [link] [comments]


2023.05.27 11:21 silenuus [M4A] [Fate RP] "I ask of you, are you my master?"

((This post is open! Also, canon knowledge not required – if this interests you, please reach out!))
A magus cannot rest, even beneath the hammering rain.
The barrage against his umbrella only distracted him for a moment from the bitter cold that misted his breath. Around him, the ordinary, decent people of the world took shelter, seeking the warmth of cafes and restaurants until the worst of the deluge passed. Those unlucky enough to be caught outside huddled beneath umbrellas, newspapers, or a hood. But even in the circle of warmth, fear reigned. People looked up from their phones nervously, scanning the streets, and then back down. They hugged their coats tight; parents gripped their children’s hands. Something besides rain weighed on the city: the wave of “incidents” that had claimed multiple lives and left the police helpless. The duty of resolving these incidents lay on the master's clan. The Ritual required the blood of heroes, not of innocents, and he would not allow such to be spilled on his watch.
“Master, this way,” his Servant murmured. She walked a little ahead of him, hidden beneath a heavy yellow raincoat. It hid her foreign looks from passersby, but he could imagine her face on the other side: stern, cold, determined, a stoic look that hid real anger at injustice. He gave a soft murmur of approval before following her away from the main thoroughfares, toward the docks and warehouses that dominated the bay.
The dock district was the epicenter of the “incidents” – no surprise. Dark, oppressive, cramped, they promised a welcoming warren for vermin to hide in as well as an excellent hunting ground. Drunk sailors and longshoremen made easy prey, to say nothing of the odd out of towner who got lost around here. They all had been devoured for mana, and he meant to find out who had overstepped the laws of the Clocktower.
Thus, they walked onto the predator’s turf. The logic was simple: the simplest way to deal with an ambush is to spring it. A stalking predator only emerges from the underbrush when it thinks it has the upper hand. The question then, is whether they had prepared enough to compensate for the home-field advantage. Crossing into the nest, though, the young Master wondered whether any plan would be enough. It was almost pitch black beneath the thick rainclouds; shining signs and windows cast thin lines of light along the alleyways and roads, glinting against the water choking storm drains. There could be anything hiding in these blind alleys and derelict buildings. However, even prepared, he felt a tingle travel up his spine. The oppressive air felt suffocating.
A moment later he walked right into his servant’s back. She’d drawn up short, dropping into a martial posture.
“Close?” he murmured.
“Very.”
The scent of the enemy led them to a dark back alley. The pile of garbage in a rusted dumpster decomposed beneath a rat king's tangle of wires above, a snarled mess that – in theory – powered this building as well as several other buildings stealing power and internet. The Master stole a glimpse over his shoulder at the road outside. Empty. Silent save the rain. When he glanced back, his servant's red-hot sword sliced through a padlock. As the chain splashed to the ground, she pushed the warehouse's backdoor open, edging forward. He followed, crest pulsing with mana. They were close: the thick air tasted putrid. As they entered the offices in the back of the warehouse, the smell hit him: sickly sweet, nauseating. The predator was nearby. They had reached its den.
As they walked through the rear offices, the miasma only grew thicker. Not a single light was on: his Servant could see, but he could only make out shapes in the dark, broken up by the occasional beam of light from a neon sign shining through the hallways. His servant took the lead, her sword bared. The long linoleum floor stretched out forever between rows of mold-gnawed cubicles, and sweat beaded on his brow. Every footstep sounded like a thunderclap in the crushing silence. As the offices ended, they faced another door – this one leading out onto the floor. Here, the fog of disease grew thickest. His servant shared a momentary glance with him before she eased it open.
The creak of the unoiled hinge was like a scream. His blood ran cold.
He had heard that a certain magus had arrived in the city to participate in the Ritual of Heroic Blood. They called him the Mycoidist: his research had given him mastery of a parasitic fungus that would seize control of its victim, leaving them an empty husk he alone controlled. Now he saw that grizzly work firsthand: cordyceps, infested victims glistening with sporelike structures. Nothing human remained of them: they ambled around the room, obeying their master like machines. It was, perversely, the ideal magic for the Ritual: they had no need of their souls, so the Servant could feed on them with impunity. The young magus murmured a few words to increase the weight of the invisible spores around him, sending them to the ground. His servant had her own defenses –
Not that she would tolerate such injustice for long.
She sprung forward, blade flashing through the air. The cordyceps rushed forward to meet her, giving a gutteral, abhuman howl that echoed in the rafters. The master raised his hand, crest shining a brilliant blue-green in the low light. In answer to his incantation, several metal pipes ripped themselves out of the wall. It felt like a crude use for his research, but gravity had many applications. For example: turning rebar into javelins flying at eighty miles an hour. The fungal horrors were hard to kill permanently, but he could pin them down. Each spike staked another to the walls as his servant’s flaming sword cut through them. They had almost cleared the room when –
“MASTER!” she called. He barely had time to react before his servant shoved him aside. He hit the ground with a soft grunt. A split second later, the enemy Servant's blade split the air where he’d stood. A clash of steel, a burst of sparks, and his partner deflected the strike. The enemy servant ducked back into the rafters. “Stay close, master. I cannot guarantee your–”
He couldn’t sense an Assassin’s aura – no mortal could. But he didn’t need to, not one he had spotted the softer target. The magus charged forward, magic lightning his steps, as he sensed the fungal heretic in the darkness. “Keep him off my back! I’ll hunt his master.”
His servant had no time to answer before Assassin erupted from the shadow, venomous dagger flashing through the air. As the servants fought a hypersonic duel behind him, he followed the faint presence of the heretic through the open cargo bay doors, back into the pouring rain. They emerged onto the shorefront. Dozens of infected longshoremen wandered there, the spores even growing on a stacked labyrinth of crates. The heretic leapt away.
“Well, well. You seek the hunter in his den!” His raspy voice betrayed decades of self-serving evil. “I can’t begrudge you the fight, but… how does the old saying go… discretion is the better part of valor?”
The cordyceps froze, only to turn on the young master in unison. Must be two dozen, at least. This horror explained the disappearances at least – each one was a human being, a living person that the master had failed to protect.
His teeth ground. “You’re a madman who’s betrayed every principle of the Clocktower, to say nothing of your humanity. Spare me your advice."
“Such righteousness…! Your family’s legacy is famous but… I’m afraid… it ends here, with you. You and your crest will be put to work in my service, oh magus of gravity, but… oh, what is this?”
All around the young master, that spectral blue-green light shined like a vicious halo. He seized any projectile he could: the metal of a torn-out downspout from a nearby building, pipes ripped out of the ground and walls, the metal prods from a forklift. At its full potential, his sorcery could control dozens of objects.
“This land is the grave of countless mages,” the young master hissed. “Time to join them.”
The steel hail fell.
I hope you enjoyed this (rather long) introduction – and to be clear, it’s more a tone piece than a starter. (Though, if you wish to build on those characters/that situation, I don’t mind!)
The classic Fate/stay night games and shows have always been favorites of mine. It’s simply one of the greatest weeb high concepts ever: seven modern mages summon seven heroes of myth to fight to the death for the wish-granting power of the Holy Grail. Only one pair can survive and claim the prize – but often at a terrible cost to themselves, their values, and those they love. To secure the loyalty of their servants, each master possesses three command seals: spells they can use to issue absolute commands – even impossible ones. What ensues is a brutal war to the death, as they stalk each other through the urban jungle. Alliances shift, ideals clash, characters are tested – It’s the kind of idea that makes you jealous you didn’t come up with it! It also practically begs for you to add to it: the system invites making up new Servants, Masters, and settings.
So with the announcement of a new Fate game soon, as well as more Fate coming in fall, I thought I’d return to RPing for it. In particular, I want to go back to basics: I want to come up with a pair of characters, Master and Servant, and put them through hell as they try to win the war and fulfill their wishes. This would harken back to the tone of the original, so I’ll say up front to expect this RP to have some fairly dark content: horror, sex, violence, gore, civilian death, all that good stuff. I’m a proud authorial sadist: I like to put my characters through hell to find out who they really are. However, I want to juxtapose that heaviness with moments of fun and joy. A romance would be great – Shirou and Arturia’s starcrossed love has lived rent-free in my head for over a decade. I'm fine with writing a Servant or a Master.
(An edit: I wrote this prompt expecting these characters to be OCs, but I'm not opposed to using canon characters. That said, I don't care for doubling.)
All that said, I’m not married to the canonical setting. For sure I have a great fondness for the Nasuverse, make no mistake, but its quirks, opacity, and strict rules can make it inconvenient to write in. (After all, look at the spinoffs – they didn’t try to stick to canon much, either!) So, I’m totally fine with just taking the concept of a Grail War and plopping it down somewhere else, or in our own setting. We could replace the magic system, change the rules of the battle, or even move it to a completely different environment. What about a grail war in Victorian London? Or 1912 Vienna? Or a cyberpunk hive city, drowning in neon? This also means that if you’re not familiar with Fate/stay night and still somehow made it this far in the post, feel free to reach out if you find the idea interesting.
A few words about writing style. The sample above is much longer than my typical post. Most of them will be two to five paragraphs long, depending on the situation and context. I don’t believe in strict minimums for posts: I’ve seen two thousand word posts that say almost nothing and twenty word posts that knocked me flat. As for literacy, well, I’ve never been quite sure what “advanced literate” means, but that sample should be representative. I strive to post at least once a day, and I’ll often be available for rapid-fire posting. However, real life is prone to fits of busyness, so I hope you will be understanding about my availability – I will be of yours. Either way, I will make it a point to maintain steady OOC communication if something is going to interrupt our fun.
One last note: I have nothing against it, but I’m not familiar with Grand Order or its offshoots. If a character or concept from Grand Order inspires you, by all means pitch me on 'em, but be ready to adapt them to the tone and setting I’ve described.
To summarize:
  • I want a classic Grail War scenario: masters, servants, and a battle royale for the Holy Grail.
  • I don’t need our RP to take place in any official setting. We can use some alternate world, an original world, or any mix thereof.
  • I'm fine with OCs, canon characters, and any combination thereof, but I don't care for doubling.
  • I expect a fairly dark, serious tone broken up by lighter moments.
  • Be prepared for NSFW and horror content.
  • A strong masteservant relationship. If it’s a romance, I prefer to write the M in M/F relationships.
A little about me:
  • 32(ohgod)m, enthusiastic if aging weeb on the West Coast.
  • Veteran of both freeform and system-based RP, starting in the heady days of livejournal nearly, oh, fifteen years ago?
  • You can gauge my literacy level from the sample above.
  • My posting length varies with the needs of the scene. I don’t pad out short posts or cram down long ones. I’ve written from two hundred words to two thousand.
  • My schedule varies a bit. I pursue an advanced degree full time, so I tend to lurch between high and low availability. If I’ll be unable to reply for more than a day, I will communicate that. Other times, I’m free for rapidfire posting.
  • Friendly OOC. For me, half the fun of RP is meeting people from all different walks of life.
What I need from you:
  • To be 21 or older
  • To be enthusiastic and communicative
  • To add your own ideas to the plot
If you’re interested, shoot me a PM, not a chat. Include:
  • Your age, pronouns, time zone, and anything else you’d like me to know about you.
  • What you want out of this RP
  • An idea for a setting concept or character
  • An example of your writing
submitted by silenuus to roleplaying [link] [comments]


2023.05.27 11:16 silenuus [M4A] [Fate RP] "I ask of you, are you my master?"

((This post is open! Also, canon knowledge not required – if this interests you, please reach out!))
A magus cannot rest, even beneath the hammering rain.
The barrage against his umbrella only distracted him for a moment from the bitter cold that misted his breath. Around him, the ordinary, decent people of the world took shelter, seeking the warmth of cafes and restaurants until the worst of the deluge passed. Those unlucky enough to be caught outside huddled beneath umbrellas, newspapers, or a hood. But even in the circle of warmth, fear reigned. People looked up from their phones nervously, scanning the streets, and then back down. They hugged their coats tight; parents gripped their children’s hands. Something besides rain weighed on the city: the wave of “incidents” that had claimed multiple lives and left the police helpless. The duty of resolving these incidents lay on the master's clan. The Ritual required the blood of heroes, not of innocents, and he would not allow such to be spilled on his watch.
“Master, this way,” his Servant murmured. She walked a little ahead of him, hidden beneath a heavy yellow raincoat. It hid her foreign looks from passersby, but he could imagine her face on the other side: stern, cold, determined, a stoic look that hid real anger at injustice. He gave a soft murmur of approval before following her away from the main thoroughfares, toward the docks and warehouses that dominated the bay.
The dock district was the epicenter of the “incidents” – no surprise. Dark, oppressive, cramped, they promised a welcoming warren for vermin to hide in as well as an excellent hunting ground. Drunk sailors and longshoremen made easy prey, to say nothing of the odd out of towner who got lost around here. They all had been devoured for mana, and he meant to find out who had overstepped the laws of the Clocktower.
Thus, they walked onto the predator’s turf. The logic was simple: the simplest way to deal with an ambush is to spring it. A stalking predator only emerges from the underbrush when it thinks it has the upper hand. The question then, is whether they had prepared enough to compensate for the home-field advantage. Crossing into the nest, though, the young Master wondered whether any plan would be enough. It was almost pitch black beneath the thick rainclouds; shining signs and windows cast thin lines of light along the alleyways and roads, glinting against the water choking storm drains. There could be anything hiding in these blind alleys and derelict buildings. However, even prepared, he felt a tingle travel up his spine. The oppressive air felt suffocating.
A moment later he walked right into his servant’s back. She’d drawn up short, dropping into a martial posture.
“Close?” he murmured.
“Very.”
The scent of the enemy led them to a dark back alley. The pile of garbage in a rusted dumpster decomposed beneath a rat king's tangle of wires above, a snarled mess that – in theory – powered this building as well as several other buildings stealing power and internet. The Master stole a glimpse over his shoulder at the road outside. Empty. Silent save the rain. When he glanced back, his servant's red-hot sword sliced through a padlock. As the chain splashed to the ground, she pushed the warehouse's backdoor open, edging forward. He followed, crest pulsing with mana. They were close: the thick air tasted putrid. As they entered the offices in the back of the warehouse, the smell hit him: sickly sweet, nauseating. The predator was nearby. They had reached its den.
As they walked through the rear offices, the miasma only grew thicker. Not a single light was on: his Servant could see, but he could only make out shapes in the dark, broken up by the occasional beam of light from a neon sign shining through the hallways. His servant took the lead, her sword bared. The long linoleum floor stretched out forever between rows of mold-gnawed cubicles, and sweat beaded on his brow. Every footstep sounded like a thunderclap in the crushing silence. As the offices ended, they faced another door – this one leading out onto the floor. Here, the fog of disease grew thickest. His servant shared a momentary glance with him before she eased it open.
The creak of the unoiled hinge was like a scream. His blood ran cold.
He had heard that a certain magus had arrived in the city to participate in the Ritual of Heroic Blood. They called him the Mycoidist: his research had given him mastery of a parasitic fungus that would seize control of its victim, leaving them an empty husk he alone controlled. Now he saw that grizzly work firsthand: cordyceps, infested victims glistening with sporelike structures. Nothing human remained of them: they ambled around the room, obeying their master like machines. It was, perversely, the ideal magic for the Ritual: they had no need of their souls, so the Servant could feed on them with impunity. The young magus murmured a few words to increase the weight of the invisible spores around him, sending them to the ground. His servant had her own defenses –
Not that she would tolerate such injustice for long.
She sprung forward, blade flashing through the air. The cordyceps rushed forward to meet her, giving a gutteral, abhuman howl that echoed in the rafters. The master raised his hand, crest shining a brilliant blue-green in the low light. In answer to his incantation, several metal pipes ripped themselves out of the wall. It felt like a crude use for his research, but gravity had many applications. For example: turning rebar into javelins flying at eighty miles an hour. The fungal horrors were hard to kill permanently, but he could pin them down. Each spike staked another to the walls as his servant’s flaming sword cut through them. They had almost cleared the room when –
“MASTER!” she called. He barely had time to react before his servant shoved him aside. He hit the ground with a soft grunt. A split second later, the enemy Servant's blade split the air where he’d stood. A clash of steel, a burst of sparks, and his partner deflected the strike. The enemy servant ducked back into the rafters. “Stay close, master. I cannot guarantee your–”
He couldn’t sense an Assassin’s aura – no mortal could. But he didn’t need to, not one he had spotted the softer target. The magus charged forward, magic lightning his steps, as he sensed the fungal heretic in the darkness. “Keep him off my back! I’ll hunt his master.”
His servant had no time to answer before Assassin erupted from the shadow, venomous dagger flashing through the air. As the servants fought a hypersonic duel behind him, he followed the faint presence of the heretic through the open cargo bay doors, back into the pouring rain. They emerged onto the shorefront. Dozens of infected longshoremen wandered there, the spores even growing on a stacked labyrinth of crates. The heretic leapt away.
“Well, well. You seek the hunter in his den!” His raspy voice betrayed decades of self-serving evil. “I can’t begrudge you the fight, but… how does the old saying go… discretion is the better part of valor?”
The cordyceps froze, only to turn on the young master in unison. Must be two dozen, at least. This horror explained the disappearances at least – each one was a human being, a living person that the master had failed to protect.
His teeth ground. “You’re a madman who’s betrayed every principle of the Clocktower, to say nothing of your humanity. Spare me your advice."
“Such righteousness…! Your family’s legacy is famous but… I’m afraid… it ends here, with you. You and your crest will be put to work in my service, oh magus of gravity, but… oh, what is this?”
All around the young master, that spectral blue-green light shined like a vicious halo. He seized any projectile he could: the metal of a torn-out downspout from a nearby building, pipes ripped out of the ground and walls, the metal prods from a forklift. At its full potential, his sorcery could control dozens of objects.
“This land is the grave of countless mages,” the young master hissed. “Time to join them.”
The steel hail fell.
I hope you enjoyed this (rather long) introduction – and to be clear, it’s more a tone piece than a starter. (Though, if you wish to build on those characters/that situation, I don’t mind!)
The classic Fate/stay night games and shows have always been favorites of mine. It’s simply one of the greatest weeb high concepts ever: seven modern mages summon seven heroes of myth to fight to the death for the wish-granting power of the Holy Grail. Only one pair can survive and claim the prize – but often at a terrible cost to themselves, their values, and those they love. To secure the loyalty of their servants, each master possesses three command seals: spells they can use to issue absolute commands – even impossible ones. What ensues is a brutal war to the death, as they stalk each other through the urban jungle. Alliances shift, ideals clash, characters are tested – It’s the kind of idea that makes you jealous you didn’t come up with it! It also practically begs for you to add to it: the system invites making up new Servants, Masters, and settings.
So with the announcement of a new Fate game soon, as well as more Fate coming in fall, I thought I’d return to RPing for it. In particular, I want to go back to basics: I want to come up with a pair of characters, Master and Servant, and put them through hell as they try to win the war and fulfill their wishes. This would harken back to the tone of the original, so I’ll say up front to expect this RP to have some fairly dark content: horror, sex, violence, gore, civilian death, all that good stuff. I’m a proud authorial sadist: I like to put my characters through hell to find out who they really are. However, I want to juxtapose that heaviness with moments of fun and joy. A romance would be great – Shirou and Arturia’s starcrossed love has lived rent-free in my head for over a decade. I'm fine with writing a Servant or a Master.
(An edit: I wrote this prompt expecting these characters to be OCs, but I'm not opposed to using canon characters. That said, I don't care for doubling.)
All that said, I’m not married to the canonical setting. For sure I have a great fondness for the Nasuverse, make no mistake, but its quirks, opacity, and strict rules can make it inconvenient to write in. (After all, look at the spinoffs – they didn’t try to stick to canon much, either!) So, I’m totally fine with just taking the concept of a Grail War and plopping it down somewhere else, or in our own setting. We could replace the magic system, change the rules of the battle, or even move it to a completely different environment. What about a grail war in Victorian London? Or 1912 Vienna? Or a cyberpunk hive city, drowning in neon? This also means that if you’re not familiar with Fate/stay night and still somehow made it this far in the post, feel free to reach out if you find the idea interesting.
A few words about writing style. The sample above is much longer than my typical post. Most of them will be two to five paragraphs long, depending on the situation and context. I don’t believe in strict minimums for posts: I’ve seen two thousand word posts that say almost nothing and twenty word posts that knocked me flat. As for literacy, well, I’ve never been quite sure what “advanced literate” means, but that sample should be representative. I strive to post at least once a day, and I’ll often be available for rapid-fire posting. However, real life is prone to fits of busyness, so I hope you will be understanding about my availability – I will be of yours. Either way, I will make it a point to maintain steady OOC communication if something is going to interrupt our fun.
One last note: I have nothing against it, but I’m not familiar with Grand Order or its offshoots. If a character or concept from Grand Order inspires you, by all means pitch me on 'em, but be ready to adapt them to the tone and setting I’ve described.
To summarize:
  • I want a classic Grail War scenario: masters, servants, and a battle royale for the Holy Grail.
  • I don’t need our RP to take place in any official setting. We can use some alternate world, an original world, or any mix thereof.
  • I'm fine with OCs, canon characters, and any combination thereof, but I don't care for doubling.
  • I expect a fairly dark, serious tone broken up by lighter moments.
  • Be prepared for NSFW and horror content.
  • A strong masteservant relationship. If it’s a romance, I prefer to write the M in M/F relationships.
A little about me:
  • 32(ohgod)m, enthusiastic if aging weeb on the West Coast.
  • Veteran of both freeform and system-based RP, starting in the heady days of livejournal nearly, oh, fifteen years ago?
  • You can gauge my literacy level from the sample above.
  • My posting length varies with the needs of the scene. I don’t pad out short posts or cram down long ones. I’ve written from two hundred words to two thousand.
  • My schedule varies a bit. I pursue an advanced degree full time, so I tend to lurch between high and low availability. If I’ll be unable to reply for more than a day, I will communicate that. Other times, I’m free for rapidfire posting.
  • Friendly OOC. For me, half the fun of RP is meeting people from all different walks of life.
What I need from you:
  • To be 21 or older
  • To be enthusiastic and communicative
  • To add your own ideas to the plot
If you’re interested, shoot me a PM, not a chat. Include:
  • Your age, pronouns, time zone, and anything else you’d like me to know about you.
  • What you want out of this RP
  • An idea for a setting concept or character
  • An example of your writing
submitted by silenuus to AdvLiterateRP [link] [comments]


2023.05.27 08:48 Orcwithabluehoodie Are there foundations for lore

Fudgemuppet's video on three mistakes people make when talking about Elder scrolls lore to me thinking. I agreed with the video
How yes these are the three main mistakes people in any lore community not just elder scrolls I ended up still in this feeling of hatred. Slight or benign hate not throwing my controller or breaking my keyboard just tired hate that this is the state Elder scrolls lore is in
Nothing lasts or is set in stone. Practically no foundation It's the same feeling I have with destiny lore or Warcraft lore Halo lore to.
Foundations and ideas set in the story in lore in his this new world works are changed maybes even erased or theories with answers to questions or plotholes left only by the community to solve for years then the devs who didn't the fix plotholes or let misconceptions
Example In destiny one the cult and trial of osiris are introduced as the a group of enigmatic mystics following Osiris the exile. Former apprentice to humanity's leader, a powerful warlock obsessed with the mysteries of the Darkness. With connections to the Vex and a warlock who led the vanguard while delving into Thanatonauntics and Ahamkara lore to gain knowledge. Brother vance was Osiris's embassy to the Awoken in the Reef and ran the trials for guardians. With lore hunting this was trainning for something coming.
In destiny two they changed the lore in two ways. First one was the grimoire the lore book that was out of game but was the method the devs used to tell the game's lore. It was discontinued and then later a dev said it was all just folklore. Design's folk your lore. Computer documents, lore with the written pov of machines who are actively seeing what's happening. Info from black boxes Yeah just folklore. Lore inconsistencies I get it they happen. But active rewriting of stories of details already set. Like Brother vance in Curse was now an annoying fanboy. Talking completely differently. Once a guardian warlock who lost his sight in the trials of osiris was now retconned. Like background details in stories that if they change doesn't effect the foreground but overt character retcons or changes to foreground details that are actively things messing up
submitted by Orcwithabluehoodie to teslore [link] [comments]


2023.05.27 07:37 drstardew931 Dreamed about him

This will be a long one, but I just want to see if anyone else has similar feelings or experiences.
My husband died April 9th in a motorcycle accident. I found out I was pregnant April 11th. We had been trying for about 7 months so I wasn’t surprised, but obviously upset under the circumstances.
I was in turmoil. Not eating, sleeping or even moving for about a month. I’m a scientist and very cynical about spiritual stuff. I tend to explain away “signs”. For example, there was a rainbow at his burial and his family was CONVINCED it was him… but of course there was a rainbow. It rained. And then was sunny. That’s how rainbows work. So, I wasn’t seeing anything from him and was very lost.
Around the 25 day mark, I had a dream. This is pretty rare for me, I haven’t had a dream in years. I dreamed that I was in a house that was being renovated. I can still feel the couch I was sitting on under my fingers. I had this overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t supposed to be there. And my husband walked through the room. He was so distracted and busy he didn’t see me so I followed him. I started just panicking and asking him questions. He stood up from the fridge with pizza in his mouth covered in dirt like he had been working. He looked so.. sad to see me. Like he wanted to tell me something but couldn’t? Like he was heartbroken for me. He just pulled me in, said he missed me too and everything is going to be ok. Kissed my head like he always does. This man came in to talk to him and they walked out together.
Again, I’m cynical. But after reluctantly talking to family, that man was his dead grandfather who I had never met or seen a picture of. I even described the watch he was wearing. My husband and him exchanged an inside joke in the dream that apparently was one they shared their whole life. I can describe the tile and scents and layout still a month later. I’m convinced I saw my husband in whatever space his soul is in. I just learned things there’s no way for me to know.
The dream scared me. Why wasn’t he happy to see me? Why did he look sad and worried?
I talked to him later that week and received another “sign”. I asked him if something bad was going to happen to me. 30 seconds of rain on a clear day and wind that knocked over only the stuff next to me.
At my most recent checkup, the baby had a halo in the ultrasound. The doctors found a lot of issues with me that will likely result in my passing. My health is deteriorating FAST.
And ever since then, I’m at peace. It’s like I have an answer. I don’t know if it’s normal grief or something more, but I feel like I have an understanding that I’ll be with him soon and he went first for a reason.
submitted by drstardew931 to widowers [link] [comments]


2023.05.27 02:26 sgtmiller1233 The Nature of Reclaimers (4) - AU Halo/NoP Fanfic

Hello everyone, Secondary Writer here, Its been a minute since we last posted. I wanna take a second to thank everyone that has shown interest in the story, we have been having a blast writeing it so far. This chapter is a bit special. We both worked on this together, writing and adding to it in real time. Critisism welcome! Hope you guys enjoy the read!
P.S. u/DoctorDildardo Will be releasing the next chapter, Stay tuned!
Credit to u/SpacePaladin15 for the amazing universe continued story. Also to NatureofPredators for all of the amazing fanfiction we have been reading. Thanks u/DoctorDildardo for including me in your project and help with the editing! Also, Thanks to Bungie and 343 for Halo 8D.
[First] [Prev] [Next]
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
Memory Transcription Subject: GySGT. John Macintyre, Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, 15th Battalion, 95th Company.
Date (Standardized Human Time): April 21, 2194
I was already storming down the hallway, halfway there. My combat knife was removed from its sheath. The two agents looked at me in a shocked panic and drew their sidearms, screaming at me to stand down. I can't just stand down, not when these freaks are torturing a venlil. God only knows what they could be doing to it. Vall was trying her best to calm me down, yelling after me “Mac, it isn't worth it!”
All I could see was red, her words didn't even register in my mind until later. Closer and closer I got, both agents had racked their weapons and were now pointing them at me. Not much further now. Suddenly my left leg felt heavy, it was hard to move. Son of a bitch! I stumbled in place for a moment, my anger not allowing me to understand what was happening. I chanced a glance down at my now overweight limb, it was Kevri. He was wrapped around my leg in a desperate attempt to stop my rage fueled march.
“Gunnery Sergeant, Stand down and return to your duties immediately or be treated as a threat and met with lethal force!” One of the agents says as he takes aim with his pistol.
I stood there a moment, looking to the two agents and then back to Kevri who was still wrapped around my leg. Poor guy was shaking, probably scared out of his mind. My anger started to dissipate at the sight of this. It was one thing to get myself killed, I didn’t want Kevri to get hurt because of me. If those agents open fire it would hit me and Kevri. I took a few deep breaths and re-sheathed my knife, still staring down the two agents.Fuck you, you goddamn spooks. I heard a small sigh of relief come from my leg, Kevri must have seen me standing down. I'm glad he’s at least calming down.
The distinct sound of claws on metal grating rapidly gets closer, Vall’s voice getting louder as she comes up behind me. “Mac! Come on, don’t do this again!” I shuffle to turn towards Vall, Kevri’s weight still preventing easy movement.
“Vall, I can't just let them do what they are doing!”
“We don't even know what it is they are doing!” she says as he grabs my hand.
“It doesn't matter! It's ONI,whatever it is can't be good. You dont know them like I do!”
“It matters when it is going to cost you your LIFE Mac! Is that how you wanna go out? Shot in your own damn ship because you couldn’t keep your head on straight?!”
I scowled and stood in silence at what she said, she was right, this isn't the way I wanted to go out. She was always right…always fucking right…
“All of you need to return to your duties immediately , Vacate the Area!” the other agent chimes in. Both of their pistols were slightly lowered, seeing the situation was being defused.
I said nothing, just started shuffling my way back to the supply bay. Kevri was still glued to my leg, I thought he might actually be stuck there. I might need a crowbar.
Is-is he done?” Kevri’s voice sounds off from my thigh.
I sighed “Yeah, I'm done kid. You can let go now.”
He isn't letting go…fuck.
I grabbed Kevri by his scruff and pulled him off me, being as gentle as possible. Once removed I put him down on the floor and patted his head lightly. I already scared the shit out of the poor kid, the last thing I needed was him to be afraid of me. I could even see the tears forming in his eyes. He’s so easily frightened, I don't know how the hell I'm gonna’ get him trained up…let alone get him into a pod for drop training. My thoughts were then interrupted by Vall.
“Ahem.” She said in a fake cough.
I turned my head to her quizzically “Yes, Sergeant?”
“Oh, we’re being formal now are we?” She said in a playful tone
“Well no, I ju-”
She interrupts me, snapping her paw to her head in a salute “Sir, I need your signature for this equipment sir!”
“Jesus fuckin’ christ Vall, cut it with that shit.”
“Hey, you’re the one that started it.”
“Just, put your Goddamn hand down. I still work for a living.”
“Whatever you say ‘gunny’.” Vall sasses at me as she places her paw back at her side.
I can't help but roll my eyes at her. Smart ass.
“H-h…What just happened?! You went from going on a murderous rampage to joking with the universe's most unshakable venlil!” Kevri finally speaks as it appears his brain caught up to the situation.
“Ah well uh-you see…” I tense up, trying to explain the sudden mood change
Vall came around and placed her tail on Kevri’s back, taking charge of the conversation Oh thank god!
“Mac and I go waaaay back, I know how to calm him down.'' She extends her paw outward for effect. “To keep it brief, and answer your questions, I'm not unshakable, I just know him very well. Mac really does not like ONI, don’t ask. And that, That was not murderous rampaging, You need to actually go to the battlefield to see that. That, was just directed anger.” She finishes taking her tail off his back and poking him on the snout with a paw before walking over to the door and heading through, returning to her lazy posture on the counter. “Now, are you two going to sign for this equipment or are you going to loiter in the supply bay all day?”
“What? Trying to get rid of us already, Vall? Thought you liked our company!” I gesture to me and Kevri while chuckling
“Liked, yes, but I also have other things to do like get some shipments ready fo-” a voice cuts her sentence short as we all turn to look at the door.
“I think this is the supply sergeant’s area. What do you think the agents meant by incid-” the person stops talking as they enter the Armory, Staring wide-eyed at what is going on in front of him.
A smaller voice trails in behind him, “What, why did you stop, it's just an arm...oh” another venlil. Another venlil was behind him.Un, Fucking, Believeable.
I must have been a sight, standing there clad in armor with Kevri hiding behind me, just shooting the shit with Vall. My eyes widened in surprise at their entrance. I don't think I could make this scene look any more awkward than it already was. What's more, this pair must have been the ones who were screaming, given their reference to the agents.
The Human is nothing much to look at as far as the military is concerned. He has a dark complexion, A buzz cut but obviously black hair, glasses? Why would a soldier need glasses in this day and age? Continuing on, he has a slender build, wait. THATS A FUCKING COLONIAL UNIFORM! Fuck, they’ll draft anyone apparently.
I eye the man up and down, making sure I see no wounds. I don’t see any so that's a good sign. I then shift my gaze to the new venlil, doing the same to him. He didn't like that much and seemed to shrink in on himself and quietly shuffled behind the man. I didn't want to think about what ONI might have done to them. I had to be sure.
“You two good?” I dryly ask.
“OH UH, YES SIR!” The Colonial shouts snapping himself to a salute” At least he can do that right. Sadly the Venlil beside him jumps and fumbles with himself at the sudden outburst, taking a moment to assess what just happened.
“Alright, alright, at ease uh-” I lean to get a better look at his upper arm to find a rank insignia, only there is none. Fuuuuuck.
“Sir, I only just transferred sir, My rank is PFC, Sir!” says seeming to notice the dilemma.
“Uhuh, and what rank is the venlil?”
“Private, sir!”
“I, uh, I just transferred as well” the tiny creature finally pipes up from behind the Pfc.
“The Corps will enlist just about anybody huh? And would you cut it with the sir shit? I think you put enough sirs in the last sentence to fill a medieval castle.”
“Yes, uuh, Sorry!”
Kevri would interject briefly “What's a medieval?”
I turned to Kevri “I'll tell you later.” He seemed dejected at that statement. I'm going to have to explain a lot of things to him when we get a moment to talk.
I turned my attention back to the PFC “Don't worry about it kid, I’m just glad you folks are okay.”
Out of the corner of my eye I see the Tanned Venlil quietly make his way around to the other two but I keep my focus on the PFC.
“Mind telling me what all the screaming was about?”
“UUhhh, Well si- Well… We kinda scared each other.”
What?
“You, scared each other?”
“Yes s- um, and then the lights blinded us.” the Pfc says while holding the straightest face.
“What lights?”
“They uh, The lights in briefing si- er, Sergeant.”
“So let me get this straight, and stop me if I'm wrong here.You were in a dark room, the lights came on and you screamed at one another?”
“Actually sir… We found each other in the dark, I uh, spoke a bit too loud, startled them,” he gestures to the venlil he walked in with, “They screamed, then I screamed, Then the lights came on because of that agent walking in… and the lights blinded us which in turn caused more screaming.” he finishes looking more and more embarrassed as he explains his story.
I just stare in absolute dumbfounded amusement at his story before chuckling out a retort "that sounds more like a bad first date than anything.”
I watch in further amusement as he snaps ridged. Glancing behind, I take note the tan venlil has also had a bit of a start.
"Anywho, give me a sec to finish up with the supply sergeant and we will be out of your hair. I'm sure you two are on a, ahem, very tight schedule." I flourish the last bit with as much sarcasm as I could muster.
“Sir…er, Sergeant, we literally just me-”
“Take the fuckin’ joke Private.”
I looked over at the group of venlil by the counter. Guess they would call that a herd… They appear to be asking Vall something.
\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
[First] [Prev] [Next]
submitted by sgtmiller1233 to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]


2023.05.26 20:12 TheDrungeonBlaster Gutterpunks Reloaded #6: Under the Knife

-Red-
April 19th, 10:00 A.M., The Sprawl
Looming pools of shadow enveloped the room; the noxious stench of cheap medical chems was nearly suffocating, and only made worse by the constant buzzing of low-grade medical tech. Anxiety gripped my mind, as images of airborne propellers flashed through my thoughts--finally resolving upon a severed arm laying on a cold plascrete floor. I couldn’t help but scream.
I awoke in a medicated fugue, restrained by frigid metal straps. Panic gripped my mind. My arm struggled frantically, fighting an impossible battle against an unyielding steel clasp. Twin monitors beside the bed began to beep rapidly, matching my rapidly climbing heart rate. Finally, I managed to turn my head; a bloody operating table sat directly adjacent to my bed—bearing the stump of ragged meat that I could only assume was the remains of my arm.
Fuck.
A needle plunged into my neck. My thoughts skidded to a halt—nothing mattered except for the wave of euphoria that washed over me.
“Red, nice of you to join us,” Akari said, leaning over with me with a seemingly scientific intrigue.
Her face was painted with a grim, yet accomplished, melancholy. I’d known her for years, but this expression was one I’d not had the displeasure of knowing… not until she’d chopped my arm off, and presumably saved my life.
“Did… did the other two make it out?”
“They did. Nico carried you out, allegedly ‘killing dozens’ along the way,” Akari answered, sarcastically rolling her eyes.
“It was fourteen—I counted,” Nico interjected.
“I appreciate it, without you two I’d probably be dead,” I said.
“You would be dead, no doubt about it. But you’re not, and you even got an upgrade out of it. Or you will be getting one at least.”
“Glad to hear it. Can you let me up? I gotta be honest here, doc: the bindings are setting off my claustrophobia,” I explained, as the euphoria slowly began to crumble under the crushing weight of anxiety. Whatever she’d given me hadn’t been nearly enough.
"You're stable, but the operation is not yet complete. My assistant is currently retrieving your new arm.”
"How long have I been here?” I grimaced, grinding my wrist against the steel restraints.
"Forty-three hours. It was touch and go at first, but Nico's quick thinking saved your life… alongside nearly twenty hours of stabilization and constant care," She smiled, seating herself across from me.
"I... I don’t know what to say; I owe you big time, both of you,” I replied.
The clamor of footsteps echoed behind me-- the familiar sound of oversized boots scuffling towards the operating table.
Nico.
He emerged, clutching the arm he'd severed from Cleaver’s doorman. It was state of the art chrome, Xeno-grade military ware. Whoever had owned it before me had either served in the Lunar settling campaigns or got it off somebody who had. A .50 caliber auto cannon sat loosely unfolded above the top side of the wrist and the side compartment looked like it housed some sort of melee weapon.
"Glad you're finally awake, boss; means we should be able to install asap," Nico said, grinning from ear to ear.
"The good news is, installing the receptor port should be a relatively quick procedure, likely less than an hour. The bad news is, I can't risk heavy anesthesia, you lost a lot of blood, and we're still waiting on Trodes to bring more bags," she paused, a pang of sympathy flashing behind her eyes, "you ready for this, Red?"
"Chrome me up, doc," I growled.
The next hour was a blur of pain, adrenaline, and excitement. Other than the Teleoperations Module installed in my HALO, I'd avoided chrome my whole life. I figured good combat chems could make up for the difference. I was wrong. When the port was finally installed, the new arm fit in like a glove.
I didn’t waste a second in getting off the operating table.
"Now we'll be unstoppable, boss," Nico grinned, breaking his facade of professionalism.
"What do you say, Red, want to go the target range and give it a whirl?" Akari asked, absent mindedly rifling through a drawer of medication.
"Yeah, fuck it, probably not the worst idea. You gonna unstrap me, then?" I asked.
Akari walked over, never breaking eye contact, placing a paper bag of medications at the foot of my bed, before releasing me from my bindings.
"Listen, Red, there's instructions on the pill bottles. Read them. Take them religiously, or else your bodies going to reject the new arm, spit it out in a pussy mass of infection. Understood?" Her voice lost its gentle tone, growing firm.
"Got it, doc. No puss for me," I chuckled.
Nico led me to a back-alley target range, operated by a pair of unshackled androids, who called themselves Alpha and Omega. They never said a word, just directed us to a series of safety posters, and demanded payment for our time. Nico tossed a pair of cred-sticks, and we entered a roofed portion of the alley, lined with embedded V.R. projectors and speakers.
Tires were stacked high around metal poles, sheathed in an V.R. depiction of Vorrath soldiers, clutching plasma blades and gravity cannons. As the holograms flickered to life, primal screams blared across speakers above the range; darkness blanketed the alley as the light seemed to flicker in and out of existence. Finally, ballistics dummies emerged atop tracks, zipping through the darkness before finally assuming the appearance of armed gangers.
I fired a volley from the auto cannon, tearing soup-can sized holes into a ballistic dummy’s chest. With a flick of the wrist a mono whip deployed from my forearm. The arm moved of its own volition, kicking into combat mode, and slicing a second dummy into silicone sandwich meat.
I could get used to having this level of firepower—it certainly would have come in handy during my courier days.
"Not bad, boss. Maybe aim just a touch higher. Center mass is effective, but headshots are more satisfying," Nico whispered in a tone bordering on arousal, his eyes trained on my arm.
"I appreciate the tip, buddy, but when you're shooting something that leaves holes this big? Well, I'd say you've got a pretty good chance of clipping center and chunking the heart," I replied.
"And here I thought you were a man with panache," he laughed.
"I’m a man of practicality: I'll leave the fancy shit to you," I cracked a smile, "so, what happened after I went out?"
Nico's face was electric, barely containing his excitement.
"Before I ripped his head off, Cleaver told me the vault was in the heart of the Undercity, beneath a Harvester base," He bellowed.
"Harvesters, huh? Figures the bastard would have organ leggers guarding his stash. Harvesters are no joke, though. Cleaver was tough, but I reckon they'll have at least a dozen borgs of that size, if not bigger. What about Trodes and Conway, they turn up anything?" I replied.
"Trodes will walk you through his findings when he gets back, I can't follow the technical jargon." He shrugged, "but Conway's inserted himself into Fredo's circle, and it sounds like there's trouble in paradise. He said he managed to set up your meet with B.F.U. though."
"What do you mean?" I inquired.
"Fredo and the Don are allegedly in the middle of some big falling out, looks like there's the makings of a civil war brewing in the Casa Nostra. Conway thinks we can capitalize," he replied, ushering back towards Akari's lab.
"Sounds promising, I like it." I answered.
By the time we returned to the lab, Akari had set up a transfusion station, and Trodes was knee deep in another full immersion run, his body limply twitching in the chair. Akari's eyes met mine, and I made my way to the transfusion station, sticking myself to save her time.
"Alright, guys, Trodes should be done shortly, he was just erasing his trail, I think. But, in the meantime, I have something for each of you," She paused, reaching for a pill bottle, and tossing it to me. From within her jacket, she produced a neuro chip, and handed it to Nico.
"Combat stims?" I asked.
"Something custom, it should produce effects similar to that of an adrenal implant, temporarily boosting your strength and reactions. It'll last about an hour," she turned to Nico, "once you slot the chip, it'll allow you to turn off the limiters on your cyber limbs at will, amplifying your capabilities considerably. Needless to say, both of these gifts are last resorts, don't use them unless you have to; the strain placed on your systems will be substantial."
"This is incredible, Akari. Thanks again… for everything."
"Be careful, I don't want to replace another arm,” she replied, with a joking scowl.
Suddenly, Trodes shot up in his chair, frantically ripping the wires from his body. Akari ran to the chair with practiced calm.
"Everything okay?" she asked, scanning his vitals.
"Where's the restroom?" Trodes squealed.
Hardly containing laughter, Akari pointed him to a stall in the corner. Trodes raced off with the fervor of a thousand zealots, marching towards a holy war. Moments later he emerged, projecting an air of arrogance.
“I’m glad to see you’ve finally pulled through. While you were napping, I cracked the gig,” Trodes gloated.
I stared quietly in anticipation.
"The vault's security specs were hidden within one of Fincetti's shell servers, precisely as I anticipated. The vault has a time released, biometric security system, and is hidden within an AR maze, littered with traps and turrets," he said.
"Did you uh... Find a way around the traps and turrets?" I asked, nervously.
"No, but I have their locations and functions. I may have to find a way to travel on site, and disarm them for you," he pondered.
"No offense, Trodes, but do you think that's a good idea? I mean, no harm intended here, man, but you look fucking frail. And I've seen the way you twitch, I recognize a nervous system disorder when I see one," I said, trying to keep my tone as gentle and inoffensive as possible.
"As a matter of fact, I think it's a horrible idea, one that will likely result in my death. However, there's no way you'll succeed otherwise… and success could equate to astronomical wealth. It's a chance I'm willing to take," he replied.
"Just stay behind me, little friend. The bullets won't stop me-- nothing will," Nico chimed in.
"Or, better idea, we could try to find Trodes an exo-suit, something combat rated," Akari paused, cycling through contacts in her HUD, "as a matter of fact, I know someone who has one lying around. The thing is—I don’t think he’ll willingly part with it.”
"Are you talking about old Willy?" I asked.
"The one and only," Akari answered.
"Who?" Nico asked.
"Old Willy Jensen; mean old bastard, leads the Black Powder Angels. Got crippled a couple years back, so the crazy fucker had his body fused to a pre-war military exo-suit. It's by no means top of the line, but he's modded the hell out of it, so it can definitely keep up," I said.
"Did you say the Black Powder Angels? I have a score to settle with them," Nico growled.
"Well, then it looks like we have a plan. Hopefully Conway can finish working his magic in the meantime. I wanna move on this gig quick, before Fredo beats us to raiding his brother's vault," I asserted.
"Back at it then, boss?" Nico asked.
“I don’t think so: you two are supposed to be meeting with B.F.U. in two hours, I got ahold of Conway while you were out. I’ll get more data on Willy while you’re at it, but this is important: if we try to do this alone, we’re dead. Fincetti’s forces need to be occupied when we pull the job, or he’ll bring them down on you like the fist of God,” Akari explained.
submitted by TheDrungeonBlaster to WriteFantasyStories [link] [comments]


2023.05.26 20:10 TheDrungeonBlaster [SF] Gutterpunks Reloaded #6: Under the Knife

-Red-
April 19th, 10:00 A.M., The Sprawl
Looming pools of shadow enveloped the room; the noxious stench of cheap medical chems was nearly suffocating, and only made worse by the constant buzzing of low-grade medical tech. Anxiety gripped my mind, as images of airborne propellers flashed through my thoughts--finally resolving upon a severed arm laying on a cold plascrete floor. I couldn’t help but scream.
I awoke in a medicated fugue, restrained by frigid metal straps. Panic gripped my mind. My arm struggled frantically, fighting an impossible battle against an unyielding steel clasp. Twin monitors beside the bed began to beep rapidly, matching my rapidly climbing heart rate. Finally, I managed to turn my head; a bloody operating table sat directly adjacent to my bed—bearing the stump of ragged meat that I could only assume was the remains of my arm.
Fuck.
A needle plunged into my neck. My thoughts skidded to a halt—nothing mattered except for the wave of euphoria that washed over me.
“Red, nice of you to join us,” Akari said, leaning over with me with a seemingly scientific intrigue.
Her face was painted with a grim, yet accomplished, melancholy. I’d known her for years, but this expression was one I’d not had the displeasure of knowing… not until she’d chopped my arm off, and presumably saved my life.
“Did… did the other two make it out?”
“They did. Nico carried you out, allegedly ‘killing dozens’ along the way,” Akari answered, sarcastically rolling her eyes.
“It was fourteen—I counted,” Nico interjected.
“I appreciate it, without you two I’d probably be dead,” I said.
“You would be dead, no doubt about it. But you’re not, and you even got an upgrade out of it. Or you will be getting one at least.”
“Glad to hear it. Can you let me up? I gotta be honest here, doc: the bindings are setting off my claustrophobia,” I explained, as the euphoria slowly began to crumble under the crushing weight of anxiety. Whatever she’d given me hadn’t been nearly enough.
"You're stable, but the operation is not yet complete. My assistant is currently retrieving your new arm.”
"How long have I been here?” I grimaced, grinding my wrist against the steel restraints.
"Forty-three hours. It was touch and go at first, but Nico's quick thinking saved your life… alongside nearly twenty hours of stabilization and constant care," She smiled, seating herself across from me.
"I... I don’t know what to say; I owe you big time, both of you,” I replied.
The clamor of footsteps echoed behind me-- the familiar sound of oversized boots scuffling towards the operating table.
Nico.
He emerged, clutching the arm he'd severed from Cleaver’s doorman. It was state of the art chrome, Xeno-grade military ware. Whoever had owned it before me had either served in the Lunar settling campaigns or got it off somebody who had. A .50 caliber auto cannon sat loosely unfolded above the top side of the wrist and the side compartment looked like it housed some sort of melee weapon.
"Glad you're finally awake, boss; means we should be able to install asap," Nico said, grinning from ear to ear.
"The good news is, installing the receptor port should be a relatively quick procedure, likely less than an hour. The bad news is, I can't risk heavy anesthesia, you lost a lot of blood, and we're still waiting on Trodes to bring more bags," she paused, a pang of sympathy flashing behind her eyes, "you ready for this, Red?"
"Chrome me up, doc," I growled.
The next hour was a blur of pain, adrenaline, and excitement. Other than the Teleoperations Module installed in my HALO, I'd avoided chrome my whole life. I figured good combat chems could make up for the difference. I was wrong. When the port was finally installed, the new arm fit in like a glove.
I didn’t waste a second in getting off the operating table.
"Now we'll be unstoppable, boss," Nico grinned, breaking his facade of professionalism.
"What do you say, Red, want to go the target range and give it a whirl?" Akari asked, absent mindedly rifling through a drawer of medication.
"Yeah, fuck it, probably not the worst idea. You gonna unstrap me, then?" I asked.
Akari walked over, never breaking eye contact, placing a paper bag of medications at the foot of my bed, before releasing me from my bindings.
"Listen, Red, there's instructions on the pill bottles. Read them. Take them religiously, or else your bodies going to reject the new arm, spit it out in a pussy mass of infection. Understood?" Her voice lost its gentle tone, growing firm.
"Got it, doc. No puss for me," I chuckled.
Nico led me to a back-alley target range, operated by a pair of unshackled androids, who called themselves Alpha and Omega. They never said a word, just directed us to a series of safety posters, and demanded payment for our time. Nico tossed a pair of cred-sticks, and we entered a roofed portion of the alley, lined with embedded V.R. projectors and speakers.
Tires were stacked high around metal poles, sheathed in an V.R. depiction of Vorrath soldiers, clutching plasma blades and gravity cannons. As the holograms flickered to life, primal screams blared across speakers above the range; darkness blanketed the alley as the light seemed to flicker in and out of existence. Finally, ballistics dummies emerged atop tracks, zipping through the darkness before finally assuming the appearance of armed gangers.
I fired a volley from the auto cannon, tearing soup-can sized holes into a ballistic dummy’s chest. With a flick of the wrist a mono whip deployed from my forearm. The arm moved of its own volition, kicking into combat mode, and slicing a second dummy into silicone sandwich meat.
I could get used to having this level of firepower—it certainly would have come in handy during my courier days.
"Not bad, boss. Maybe aim just a touch higher. Center mass is effective, but headshots are more satisfying," Nico whispered in a tone bordering on arousal, his eyes trained on my arm.
"I appreciate the tip, buddy, but when you're shooting something that leaves holes this big? Well, I'd say you've got a pretty good chance of clipping center and chunking the heart," I replied.
"And here I thought you were a man with panache," he laughed.
"I’m a man of practicality: I'll leave the fancy shit to you," I cracked a smile, "so, what happened after I went out?"
Nico's face was electric, barely containing his excitement.
"Before I ripped his head off, Cleaver told me the vault was in the heart of the Undercity, beneath a Harvester base," He bellowed.
"Harvesters, huh? Figures the bastard would have organ leggers guarding his stash. Harvesters are no joke, though. Cleaver was tough, but I reckon they'll have at least a dozen borgs of that size, if not bigger. What about Trodes and Conway, they turn up anything?" I replied.
"Trodes will walk you through his findings when he gets back, I can't follow the technical jargon." He shrugged, "but Conway's inserted himself into Fredo's circle, and it sounds like there's trouble in paradise. He said he managed to set up your meet with B.F.U. though."
"What do you mean?" I inquired.
"Fredo and the Don are allegedly in the middle of some big falling out, looks like there's the makings of a civil war brewing in the Casa Nostra. Conway thinks we can capitalize," he replied, ushering back towards Akari's lab.
"Sounds promising, I like it." I answered.
By the time we returned to the lab, Akari had set up a transfusion station, and Trodes was knee deep in another full immersion run, his body limply twitching in the chair. Akari's eyes met mine, and I made my way to the transfusion station, sticking myself to save her time.
"Alright, guys, Trodes should be done shortly, he was just erasing his trail, I think. But, in the meantime, I have something for each of you," She paused, reaching for a pill bottle, and tossing it to me. From within her jacket, she produced a neuro chip, and handed it to Nico.
"Combat stims?" I asked.
"Something custom, it should produce effects similar to that of an adrenal implant, temporarily boosting your strength and reactions. It'll last about an hour," she turned to Nico, "once you slot the chip, it'll allow you to turn off the limiters on your cyber limbs at will, amplifying your capabilities considerably. Needless to say, both of these gifts are last resorts, don't use them unless you have to; the strain placed on your systems will be substantial."
"This is incredible, Akari. Thanks again… for everything."
"Be careful, I don't want to replace another arm,” she replied, with a joking scowl.
Suddenly, Trodes shot up in his chair, frantically ripping the wires from his body. Akari ran to the chair with practiced calm.
"Everything okay?" she asked, scanning his vitals.
"Where's the restroom?" Trodes squealed.
Hardly containing laughter, Akari pointed him to a stall in the corner. Trodes raced off with the fervor of a thousand zealots, marching towards a holy war. Moments later he emerged, projecting an air of arrogance.
“I’m glad to see you’ve finally pulled through. While you were napping, I cracked the gig,” Trodes gloated.
I stared quietly in anticipation.
"The vault's security specs were hidden within one of Fincetti's shell servers, precisely as I anticipated. The vault has a time released, biometric security system, and is hidden within an AR maze, littered with traps and turrets," he said.
"Did you uh... Find a way around the traps and turrets?" I asked, nervously.
"No, but I have their locations and functions. I may have to find a way to travel on site, and disarm them for you," he pondered.
"No offense, Trodes, but do you think that's a good idea? I mean, no harm intended here, man, but you look fucking frail. And I've seen the way you twitch, I recognize a nervous system disorder when I see one," I said, trying to keep my tone as gentle and inoffensive as possible.
"As a matter of fact, I think it's a horrible idea, one that will likely result in my death. However, there's no way you'll succeed otherwise… and success could equate to astronomical wealth. It's a chance I'm willing to take," he replied.
"Just stay behind me, little friend. The bullets won't stop me-- nothing will," Nico chimed in.
"Or, better idea, we could try to find Trodes an exo-suit, something combat rated," Akari paused, cycling through contacts in her HUD, "as a matter of fact, I know someone who has one lying around. The thing is—I don’t think he’ll willingly part with it.”
"Are you talking about old Willy?" I asked.
"The one and only," Akari answered.
"Who?" Nico asked.
"Old Willy Jensen; mean old bastard, leads the Black Powder Angels. Got crippled a couple years back, so the crazy fucker had his body fused to a pre-war military exo-suit. It's by no means top of the line, but he's modded the hell out of it, so it can definitely keep up," I said.
"Did you say the Black Powder Angels? I have a score to settle with them," Nico growled.
"Well, then it looks like we have a plan. Hopefully Conway can finish working his magic in the meantime. I wanna move on this gig quick, before Fredo beats us to raiding his brother's vault," I asserted.
"Back at it then, boss?" Nico asked.
“I don’t think so: you two are supposed to be meeting with B.F.U. in two hours, I got ahold of Conway while you were out. I’ll get more data on Willy while you’re at it, but this is important: if we try to do this alone, we’re dead. Fincetti’s forces need to be occupied when we pull the job, or he’ll bring them down on you like the fist of God,” Akari explained.
submitted by TheDrungeonBlaster to shortstories [link] [comments]


2023.05.26 20:09 TheDrungeonBlaster Gutterpunks Reloaded #6: Under the Knife

-Red-
April 19th, 10:00 A.M., The Sprawl
Looming pools of shadow enveloped the room; the noxious stench of cheap medical chems was nearly suffocating, and only made worse by the constant buzzing of low-grade medical tech. Anxiety gripped my mind, as images of airborne propellers flashed through my thoughts--finally resolving upon a severed arm laying on a cold plascrete floor. I couldn’t help but scream.
I awoke in a medicated fugue, restrained by frigid metal straps. Panic gripped my mind. My arm struggled frantically, fighting an impossible battle against an unyielding steel clasp. Twin monitors beside the bed began to beep rapidly, matching my rapidly climbing heart rate. Finally, I managed to turn my head; a bloody operating table sat directly adjacent to my bed—bearing the stump of ragged meat that I could only assume was the remains of my arm.
Fuck.
A needle plunged into my neck. My thoughts skidded to a halt—nothing mattered except for the wave of euphoria that washed over me.
“Red, nice of you to join us,” Akari said, leaning over with me with a seemingly scientific intrigue.
Her face was painted with a grim, yet accomplished, melancholy. I’d known her for years, but this expression was one I’d not had the displeasure of knowing… not until she’d chopped my arm off, and presumably saved my life.
“Did… did the other two make it out?”
“They did. Nico carried you out, allegedly ‘killing dozens’ along the way,” Akari answered, sarcastically rolling her eyes.
“It was fourteen—I counted,” Nico interjected.
“I appreciate it, without you two I’d probably be dead,” I said.
“You would be dead, no doubt about it. But you’re not, and you even got an upgrade out of it. Or you will be getting one at least.”
“Glad to hear it. Can you let me up? I gotta be honest here, doc: the bindings are setting off my claustrophobia,” I explained, as the euphoria slowly began to crumble under the crushing weight of anxiety. Whatever she’d given me hadn’t been nearly enough.
"You're stable, but the operation is not yet complete. My assistant is currently retrieving your new arm.”
"How long have I been here?” I grimaced, grinding my wrist against the steel restraints.
"Forty-three hours. It was touch and go at first, but Nico's quick thinking saved your life… alongside nearly twenty hours of stabilization and constant care," She smiled, seating herself across from me.
"I... I don’t know what to say; I owe you big time, both of you,” I replied.
The clamor of footsteps echoed behind me-- the familiar sound of oversized boots scuffling towards the operating table.
Nico.
He emerged, clutching the arm he'd severed from Cleaver’s doorman. It was state of the art chrome, Xeno-grade military ware. Whoever had owned it before me had either served in the Lunar settling campaigns or got it off somebody who had. A .50 caliber auto cannon sat loosely unfolded above the top side of the wrist and the side compartment looked like it housed some sort of melee weapon.
"Glad you're finally awake, boss; means we should be able to install asap," Nico said, grinning from ear to ear.
"The good news is, installing the receptor port should be a relatively quick procedure, likely less than an hour. The bad news is, I can't risk heavy anesthesia, you lost a lot of blood, and we're still waiting on Trodes to bring more bags," she paused, a pang of sympathy flashing behind her eyes, "you ready for this, Red?"
"Chrome me up, doc," I growled.
The next hour was a blur of pain, adrenaline, and excitement. Other than the Teleoperations Module installed in my HALO, I'd avoided chrome my whole life. I figured good combat chems could make up for the difference. I was wrong. When the port was finally installed, the new arm fit in like a glove.
I didn’t waste a second in getting off the operating table.
"Now we'll be unstoppable, boss," Nico grinned, breaking his facade of professionalism.
"What do you say, Red, want to go the target range and give it a whirl?" Akari asked, absent mindedly rifling through a drawer of medication.
"Yeah, fuck it, probably not the worst idea. You gonna unstrap me, then?" I asked.
Akari walked over, never breaking eye contact, placing a paper bag of medications at the foot of my bed, before releasing me from my bindings.
"Listen, Red, there's instructions on the pill bottles. Read them. Take them religiously, or else your bodies going to reject the new arm, spit it out in a pussy mass of infection. Understood?" Her voice lost its gentle tone, growing firm.
"Got it, doc. No puss for me," I chuckled.
Nico led me to a back-alley target range, operated by a pair of unshackled androids, who called themselves Alpha and Omega. They never said a word, just directed us to a series of safety posters, and demanded payment for our time. Nico tossed a pair of cred-sticks, and we entered a roofed portion of the alley, lined with embedded V.R. projectors and speakers.
Tires were stacked high around metal poles, sheathed in an V.R. depiction of Vorrath soldiers, clutching plasma blades and gravity cannons. As the holograms flickered to life, primal screams blared across speakers above the range; darkness blanketed the alley as the light seemed to flicker in and out of existence. Finally, ballistics dummies emerged atop tracks, zipping through the darkness before finally assuming the appearance of armed gangers.
I fired a volley from the auto cannon, tearing soup-can sized holes into a ballistic dummy’s chest. With a flick of the wrist a mono whip deployed from my forearm. The arm moved of its own volition, kicking into combat mode, and slicing a second dummy into silicone sandwich meat.
I could get used to having this level of firepower—it certainly would have come in handy during my courier days.
"Not bad, boss. Maybe aim just a touch higher. Center mass is effective, but headshots are more satisfying," Nico whispered in a tone bordering on arousal, his eyes trained on my arm.
"I appreciate the tip, buddy, but when you're shooting something that leaves holes this big? Well, I'd say you've got a pretty good chance of clipping center and chunking the heart," I replied.
"And here I thought you were a man with panache," he laughed.
"I’m a man of practicality: I'll leave the fancy shit to you," I cracked a smile, "so, what happened after I went out?"
Nico's face was electric, barely containing his excitement.
"Before I ripped his head off, Cleaver told me the vault was in the heart of the Undercity, beneath a Harvester base," He bellowed.
"Harvesters, huh? Figures the bastard would have organ leggers guarding his stash. Harvesters are no joke, though. Cleaver was tough, but I reckon they'll have at least a dozen borgs of that size, if not bigger. What about Trodes and Conway, they turn up anything?" I replied.
"Trodes will walk you through his findings when he gets back, I can't follow the technical jargon." He shrugged, "but Conway's inserted himself into Fredo's circle, and it sounds like there's trouble in paradise. He said he managed to set up your meet with B.F.U. though."
"What do you mean?" I inquired.
"Fredo and the Don are allegedly in the middle of some big falling out, looks like there's the makings of a civil war brewing in the Casa Nostra. Conway thinks we can capitalize," he replied, ushering back towards Akari's lab.
"Sounds promising, I like it." I answered.
By the time we returned to the lab, Akari had set up a transfusion station, and Trodes was knee deep in another full immersion run, his body limply twitching in the chair. Akari's eyes met mine, and I made my way to the transfusion station, sticking myself to save her time.
"Alright, guys, Trodes should be done shortly, he was just erasing his trail, I think. But, in the meantime, I have something for each of you," She paused, reaching for a pill bottle, and tossing it to me. From within her jacket, she produced a neuro chip, and handed it to Nico.
"Combat stims?" I asked.
"Something custom, it should produce effects similar to that of an adrenal implant, temporarily boosting your strength and reactions. It'll last about an hour," she turned to Nico, "once you slot the chip, it'll allow you to turn off the limiters on your cyber limbs at will, amplifying your capabilities considerably. Needless to say, both of these gifts are last resorts, don't use them unless you have to; the strain placed on your systems will be substantial."
"This is incredible, Akari. Thanks again… for everything."
"Be careful, I don't want to replace another arm,” she replied, with a joking scowl.
Suddenly, Trodes shot up in his chair, frantically ripping the wires from his body. Akari ran to the chair with practiced calm.
"Everything okay?" she asked, scanning his vitals.
"Where's the restroom?" Trodes squealed.
Hardly containing laughter, Akari pointed him to a stall in the corner. Trodes raced off with the fervor of a thousand zealots, marching towards a holy war. Moments later he emerged, projecting an air of arrogance.
“I’m glad to see you’ve finally pulled through. While you were napping, I cracked the gig,” Trodes gloated.
I stared quietly in anticipation.
"The vault's security specs were hidden within one of Fincetti's shell servers, precisely as I anticipated. The vault has a time released, biometric security system, and is hidden within an AR maze, littered with traps and turrets," he said.
"Did you uh... Find a way around the traps and turrets?" I asked, nervously.
"No, but I have their locations and functions. I may have to find a way to travel on site, and disarm them for you," he pondered.
"No offense, Trodes, but do you think that's a good idea? I mean, no harm intended here, man, but you look fucking frail. And I've seen the way you twitch, I recognize a nervous system disorder when I see one," I said, trying to keep my tone as gentle and inoffensive as possible.
"As a matter of fact, I think it's a horrible idea, one that will likely result in my death. However, there's no way you'll succeed otherwise… and success could equate to astronomical wealth. It's a chance I'm willing to take," he replied.
"Just stay behind me, little friend. The bullets won't stop me-- nothing will," Nico chimed in.
"Or, better idea, we could try to find Trodes an exo-suit, something combat rated," Akari paused, cycling through contacts in her HUD, "as a matter of fact, I know someone who has one lying around. The thing is—I don’t think he’ll willingly part with it.”
"Are you talking about old Willy?" I asked.
"The one and only," Akari answered.
"Who?" Nico asked.
"Old Willy Jensen; mean old bastard, leads the Black Powder Angels. Got crippled a couple years back, so the crazy fucker had his body fused to a pre-war military exo-suit. It's by no means top of the line, but he's modded the hell out of it, so it can definitely keep up," I said.
"Did you say the Black Powder Angels? I have a score to settle with them," Nico growled.
"Well, then it looks like we have a plan. Hopefully Conway can finish working his magic in the meantime. I wanna move on this gig quick, before Fredo beats us to raiding his brother's vault," I asserted.
"Back at it then, boss?" Nico asked.
“I don’t think so: you two are supposed to be meeting with B.F.U. in two hours, I got ahold of Conway while you were out. I’ll get more data on Willy while you’re at it, but this is important: if we try to do this alone, we’re dead. Fincetti’s forces need to be occupied when we pull the job, or he’ll bring them down on you like the fist of God,” Akari explained.
submitted by TheDrungeonBlaster to Novacityblues [link] [comments]