Et tamen sol fulget


Thought for the Day:

"Burn the heretic. Kill the mutant, Purge the unclean."


Main Keep, Lescatie

There was a loud creak as the heavy banded doors opened and the Grenadier walked though carrying a small bundle in his arms. He scanned the dungeons before his eyes settled down on the current and only occupant.

The mutant looked utterly miserable, tugging at her shackles in discomfort. She flinched when he had opened the doors and she flinched again when he silently walked up to her, staring at her as still as a statue. Strangely enough however, she seemed to calm down a little as he drew closer, staring at him in recognition.

"Oh..." she said softly, "...it's you...I'm glad you are okay..."

"..."

The Grenadier took out a report and found a nearby chair to sit on, still silent as he scanned the contents given to him by Straum. He set the bundle on his lap while taking careful note of his new duties. The mutant gazed at him in curiosity, nervous and apprehensive.

"Name?"

"Are we doing this again?" she said in confusion, tilting her head.

"Yes. I will see if the responses match what you have told Lord Commissar Straum before."

"But I've already...fine…" she sighed. She sat up a little straighter, facing him with a wavering but determined gaze.

"Very well...my name is Adela...just Adela…" the mutant introduced herself.

The Grenadier nodded, checking his report.

"What are you?"

"I am a succubus…"

"What is your role?"

"I was supposed to be a spy...or a scout. They weren't very exact. Plus I was just a simple regional one...meant to observe small villages and towns…" she started.

"Why?"

"At first it was because a few mamono from the Extremists asked me to due to my familiarity with the region. I didn't see why I shouldn't so I obeyed...and eventually I grew to like it…"

He narrowed his eyes and repeated, "Why?"

"Nothing malicious I can assure you…" she said quietly, rubbing her arm.

"Simply observing...I never intended to hurt anybody if you're concerned. I just...wanted to understand humans. I spent months getting to know them, observing silently from the side and sometimes...sometimes blending in...living like they would…" she curled up on herself, reliving old memories, "Humanity is fascinating...the lives of the villagers fascinated me...they were different and I wanted to know more...understand more…"

She smiled bitterly, "I thought maybe I could find a husband…"

He hummed in thought, marking things out.

"Who were you with?"

"..."

She stayed silent and the Grenadier gazed at her scornfully and suspiciously.

"Who were you with?" he repeated, and she grimaced.

"I-I...I was…" she took in a strangled breath, "I was with my sister...Nadia...she was my only family…"

He nodded, taking note of this. She didn't reveal the name of her sister last time. How curious.

"What happened?"

"C-Can we n-not talk about this...please…?" she whimpered, but he was unconcerned.

"You will answer the question succubus." he said scathingly, uncaring of her grief.

She teared up, but nodded, "Very well...it was just...just another day…"

She hugged her knees closely, eyes brimming with tears.

"My sister and I were just observing the villagers when they came along…" her eyes became sunken and haunted, "...cultists...and soldiers of your order…"

She was silent for a while and the Grenadier tapped his fingers to hurry her along. She gulped tearfully, nodding at him.

"It was horrifying...they fought each other viciously. The cultists and you imperials mauled each other savagely in the village…and so many died...people just living their lives...snuffed out in seconds..."

He nodded. Nothing that he already didn't know. He gestured for her to continue.

"We watched as the cultists were eradicated by the imperials...but by then half the village was already a smoking ruin...and there were so many bodies…"

She breathed in deeply, steadying herself.

"...then that...that monstrosity came...it was terrifying...something I have never seen before...a twisted, metal behemoth wrapped in eldritch flesh and wreathed in hellfire…"

"Daemon…" the Grenadier said simply.

"...it must have been a demon...a true demon...it was a horrific creature…"

"Quite. What happened next?"

"My sister and I watched as that abomination destroyed what was left. Most of the villagers we have been among with for months were eradicated. I only hope some managed to escape."

"Irrelevant. I speak of my comrades and the daemon."

"R-Right. Well we both saw how your soldiers fought...they fought bravely...they even wounded the...the…abomination..." Adela grimaced, rubbing her arm nervously, "...but that only seemed to anger it. That monstrosity...it reaped a terrible toll on them...I wanted to run away...I wanted to run away so badly…"

Adela curled up on herself even more, hugging her knees to her chest.

"But Nadia...she wanted to fight. She wanted to help those men and...and…"

She trailed off again, hiccupping as tears rolled down her face. The Grenadier hummed, tapping the report again impassively.

"Continue." he said and Adela nodded while trying to control herself.

"I a-apologize…" she gasped, "My sister...she helped them by rushing in with a spear...she was always the more talented of us...with...well with her magic…"

"Foul sorcery?" the Grenadier noted as Adela continued.

"She imbued her spear with it...trying to drive the creature back...and she must have succeeded because...because...that thing...it was hurt!"

Tears flowed freely now, "But it wasn't enough...and it's retaliation...it was horrendous...she exploded in front of me...just...just blood everywhere…"

She curled up more and the Grenadier sighed, rapping his hand on the bars.

"Focus." he said dully, "What happened after."

"I...I do not know...because...well...after Nadia was blown apart by that...that...that abomination...I lost track of myself…" Adela said nervously, "I only know that the last imperial blew himself up...a bright, loud explosion that purified that demonic construct…it was a brave sacrifice...I wouldn't be alive if he hadn't done that..."

"I see."

"After that...well...I just sat there...for hours...trying...trying to heal her...uselessly...I tried so hard to heal her but…" Adela sniffled, this time unable to stop the tears spilling out of her eyes.

The Grenadier watched on blankly as the prisoner began crying quietly, sobs and whimpers wracking her defeated frame. He checked the report and nodded, writing down additional details that she had revealed and correlating with what was already known. Not much it seems. Regardless that was to be expected. He was just here to feed her really and he began unwrapping the bundle he brought with him.

"Here." he handed a loaf of bread to her, "Eat."

Adela sniffled, wiping at her face before gazing at him gratefully.

"Thank you..." she murmured quietly, taking it with shaking hands.

She nearly dropped it, grimacing as the chains rattled while she clutched it to her bosom.

"..."

He watched her carefully as she bit into her small meal eagerly if with some difficulty.

"It's like biting a rock..." Adela said lightly, "May I have some water...?"

"..."

He was not given any and his silent staring must have made her uncomfortable as she flushed red.

"Apologies..." she murmured again, curling on herself.

"..."

She seemed even more uncomfortable, squirming lightly as he observed her. She did not act like how he thought a mutant would. She did not even look like a normal mutant in his eyes. She had little in common with the monstrous abominations he has fought on Vraks Prime and lacked anything abhorrent about her really. She was remarkably human in fact save for her wings and horns...but there was just...something off about her.

No matter. He'll figure it out.

Creeeeeeeak

"We're done here." he said simply, chair skidding loudly as he stood up.

"Wait..." Adela spoke up, causing him to pause.

He turned to look at her and she gulped, breathing in deeply and brushing away any stray tears.

"I...I can help you...I will help you if it means preventing what happened that day from occurring again..." she declared, "I...I can be useful...please..."

"That is not up to me to decide." he said simply.

Adela took a shaky breath before nodding, "I...I see..."

He grunted and began walking towards the door. As he did, he felt the succubus' eyes on him as she called out, "Safe travels imperial."

"..."

He glanced at the mutant briefly before he turned and left.


"Your verdict Grenadier?"

"She is suffering from trauma, both from what she has seen and experienced. The death of her sister as well as the village she was observing has shaken her."

"How interesting, though I suppose even mutants could develop bonds."

"Quite. Her use to us is questionable sir..."

"All in due time grenadier. Despite this, I do believe having a mutant of these lands under our service has it's uses. She'll serve us or die."

"Your will be done." the Grenadier nodded, saluting the Lord Commissar.

"Good. Anything else of note?"

"She requires water."

That seemed to make the Lord Commissar pause, blinking as he gazed at the Grenadier with a quirked eyebrow. The man stared blankly back, still standing at attention.

"Very well. It would be no use dehydrating our prisoner."

With a nod, the Grenadier returned back to standing silently onto the side with the others.

Nearby, their other pressganged mutant stared at them nervously, sweating slightly at what she was hearing. She murmured to herself as she rubbed her hands fearfully, clammy and pale from her nerves.

"There...that should do it..." the gremlin said, looking at them anxiously.

She clasped her hands together in a nonthreatening way and moved aside for the stormtrooper to inspect, gazing at it critically before nodding.

"Excellent." Jyrki said, waving the Lord Commissar over, "Sir! It's good to go."

The towering man nodded, walking over to examine the contraption that the gremlin had jury rigged for them, looking down at her and giving her a cold look, his expression thoughtful.

"Let us see how much our helper has done for us here..." he said idly, causing the gremlin to grimace.

The Lord Commissar began tinkering with the vox-caster, trying to find a better frequency.

This time they had more success, and though the transmission was still scratchy, it was audible and more importantly, legible.

{"...-...-Thi-...-...-...-jor 882-...-...-...-...-...-...cutoff from Imperial lin-...-...-fo-...-nants of th-...-...-49th an-...-he 15-...-ments-...-...-..."}

Straum sighed to himself, adjusting the dials again and the antenna to get a better signal.

{"...-...-re in unfamili-...-rritory and cu-...-...-ines and regi-...-...-requi-...-...-e are low o-...-unition an-...-...-...-are unde-...-...iege from strange muta-...-ave-...-oget-...-ion-...-...-oyal Makai-...-...-...-...-..."}

"Blasted thing." sighed the Lord Commissar, frowning intently. Nearby, the gremlin paled significantly and she squirmed as the Grenadier and stormtrooper loomed close by.

"Uhhhh...errr..." she mumbled in fear, especially as Jyrki not so subtly edged towards the combat knife in his webbings. She gave them a sheepish smile, one that faltered upon seeing the man thoroughly unamused.

She looked to Lennie in desperation, whimpering slightly and the ogryn looked like he wanted to walk over, but a stern glare from Jyrki stopped him and he sat down on a stool that seemed far too tiny for him.

{"...-...-...-his is Major 8-...-972-Sigmu-...-...of th-...-...-9th Death Kor-...-...-ith remnants of t-...-...-3rd, 149th, and the 158th Death Korps regimen-...-...-stranded in unfamiliar territory-...-..."}

The Grenadier perked up upon hearing the familiar regiments in the vox and the imperials listened on closely, scarcely breathing.

{"...-...-uire immediate as-...-...-...-tact with an-..."}

{"...-erial forc-...-egion. We have d-...-...-...-ition and supplies. We a-...-...-ge mutants who have ba-...-...-he Royal Makai. We re-...-...-ur coordinates are -...-age will repeat."}

"Well gentlemen...it seems we're not alone." Straum said dryly.

"Quite." Jyrki agreed with him, "Your orders sir?"

"It seems this transmission is on repeat. I will continue to monitor it and write it down. Perhaps our...ally here could also assist me in getting clearer transmissions." Straum responded, "But for now we need to stabilize this region and our influence on the locals. Eliminate those rats in the tunnels. Leave no survivors."

"Understood." responded the Grenadier and stormtrooper, snapping salutes.

The gremlin shrunk on herself, feeling distinctively uncomfortable and feeling like a cornered hare in the den of a wolf.

{"...-...-ajor 88724-..."}


The three imperials moved as a blob, with Lennie moving so nervously that he kept bumping into them. Ogryns didn't do tight spaces and claustrophobic tunnels. The very idea of it must have terrified their big abhuman comrade and he was antsy. As such he was moving erratically and clumsily, or more so then usual anyhow. It was beginning to agitate the stormtrooper when the big lug would barrel into their paths.

"Lennie stop that."

"Soorry suh! Joost scared!" the ogryn said, sheepishly rubbing his large head. He clutched his ripper gun nervously like a green recruit rather then a veteran abhuman that has slaughtered alien beasts from primordial times.

"Relax. You're not going down there with us. Likely just guarding the entrance. I know how these places get for you." Jyrki sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose as they walked. This was great news for the ogryn however as he gazed at the man happily.

"Really?"

"Yes. I'll make sure of it Lennie."

"T'ank yoo Yoorkeey!"

The stormtrooper sighed to himself, shaking his head in amusement. They moved at a brisk pace, with the two imperials following after the stormtrooper.

"The local guards have been notified of the tunnels. They had gathered in force alongside their...'heroes' and are already combing the tunnels as we speak." Jyrki told them as they walked.

"Soo wee doon't hav' te' goo intoo the tuunneels?" Lennie asked.

"Unfortunately big guy we are. Well...we are. You can stay outside." the abhuman did a fist bump in joy as the stormtrooper chuckled, "Ludwig and I however will be accompanying the Lescatians."

He had a light sneer on his face as he scoffed, "These locals...they'll be bumbling around in the dark. Just like every other time we fought these...monsters."

The Grenadier nodded, having remembered his own time with the locals. A decidedly less then stellar experience. The rest of the journey was quiet as they marched silently through the streets of Lescatie, making their way towards the home of that heroine. Parshe was it?

Regardless it was currently experiencing a lot of traffic, squads of guards moving back and forth relaying orders and getting armed. It seems they were already starting the search, not that the imperials minded. Let them trigger the traps first.

The three of them shouldered past indignant guards, their familiar grim appearance enough to make many of their protests die in their throats. The Grenadier sneered at the locals while Jyrki directed Lennie to stand guard outside.

"Keep the area secured big guy. This won't take long." Jyrki told him before unclipping his helmet and slipping it on, "It is time to hunt, brother."

The Grenadier gave him a curt nod and together the two of them entered into the manor, dodging the various maids and guards walking around in a hurry like ants. They shouldered by anyone too slow, earning grunts or yelps for their troubles. Any that tried to raise concerns about their lack of manners of course would find the imperials steadfast in ignoring them.

The two imperials descended down into the basement to find a gathering of Lescatians, shuffling nervously as they listened to a man giving instructions. He was richly decorated, with numerous engravings and an ornate covering all over his armor. He looked like a pompous twat. They saw Parshe again, the heroine looking surly and agitated at them all. No need to guess why. Regardless the two imperials made for a startling attention grabber as the locals turned to gaze at them warily upon hearing their heavy footfalls.

"Ahh imperials...I wasn't aware that you all would be joining us today..." muttered the apparent leader of this particular group.

"We believe our support will be invaluable in this operation." the stormtrooper said menacingly, "After all, we have experience in these matters."

"R-Right...we look forward to it then."

The Grenadier didn't respond, simply shouldering past the guards and descending down into the tunnels, the stormtrooper not far behind him.

"Just stay outta our way Lescatian. We can handle this."

The Lescatians bristled at their words but did not otherwise react or say anything else, though the Grenadier took notice of how Parshe seemed to glower at them. She in particular was glaring at him, giving him a strange look as she hummed while tilting her head in thought.

"There is little time to waste then brothers. We must expunge this filth growing under our city with due haste!" the leader of the group said nervously, raising a hand in surrender to placate his comrades as they glared at the imperials.

The group descended down into the hidden tunnels icily, neither side caring much for the other. The two imperials nodded, separating down separate tunnels to accompany the split Lescatians.

The Grenadier skulked in his area cautiously, alert and aware of his surroundings. He could hear the clumsy footsteps of the Order troops that were with him, Lescatian guards and a few of their heroes. They looked distinctly uncomfortable, their faces pale and their gaze nervous as they explored the sometimes cramp, sometimes crude, and always dark tunnels.

Weaklings.

These tunnels were nothing compared to the death traps that were the catacombs of Vraks' underbelly. The Grenadier felt only contempt for his "allies" and was forced to listen to their dragging feet and clumsy bumps.

Taptaptaptaptaptaptap

Click

Bump

Taptaptaptaptaptaptap

It was getting grating to him but he was undeterred, simply blocking out his emotions while sweeping the tunnels. While his allies bumbled around in the dark like fools, he moved through the tunnels with experienced ease, having done so before in numerous battles on Vraks. He was no Engineer but the grenadiers were called to fight down in Vraks underbelly once.

These mutant scum would be like children compared to the horrors of traitor astartes. The Grenadier idly flexed his fingers, remembering the horrors of skirmishing with the fallen champions of mankind. They had barely survived, shutting their tunnels closed and cutting the heretics off, at the cost of half their number dead and twice that wounded and crippled.

As he was sweeping the tunnels, one of the Order soldiers approached him.

Not just a soldier, a hero it seems. Based off her calm, almost relaxed demeanor and better equipment. She gazed at him with curiosity. That and the ridiculous color of her hair, a rather bright pale blue, platinum even.

It was an eye sore in the dark and he stared impassively as she approached.

"Greetings imperial." she said, giving him a small bow.

"..."

She seemed to understand, almost like she was expecting that as she nodded her head.

"My name is Wilmarina Noscrim. May I have yours imperial?"

"No." he responded evenly, turning back around to scan the tunnels.

Wilmarina shrugged, undeterred.

"Very well then. I understand. The city hasn't made many attempts to...welcome you or your order..."

The bluenette rubbed her head sheepishly. He didn't care. He preferred it that way.

"Regardless, it is shameful to act that way. But I fear my people fear outsiders to an unhealthy degree...not to mention all the troubling rumors regarding your ilk."

He grunted nonsensically, unimpressed and uninterested.

"I guess what I'm trying to do here is to make amends."

"I have no quarrel with you Lescatian."

"That's not the point." she said softly, "What I'm trying to do is make you feel welcomed. It's unbecoming of us to treat you allies with such scorn and suspicion. I apologize on behalf of Lescatie."

"..."

"...very well...regardless it is a pleasure to be working with you. I feel much better knowing we have the rumored imperials working with us, rather then against us as some reports would say."

"..."

He walked away, uninterested in continuing this discussion while Wilmarina sighed. The heroine gazed at the back of the imperial in thought, hand outstretched and moving as if to follow him before thinking better of it. She turned the other way and followed her own path.

The Grenadier did not completely ignore her however as he examined the tunnels opposite of her. He was concerned at her words. Had some guardsmen fallen? Or were they simply on the wrong side? No doubt in his mind that if Straum's agent had not swooped him up, he would have likely been stirring up trouble against the "heretics" right now. It was not their fault they were Emperor-less heathens.

A virgin world...utterly ignorant of not only the God-Emperor but also the horrors of the 41st Millennium itself. This world would have been perfect for colonization and reconquest. If only Chaos had not gotten it's foul grip on it first.

It was a good thing Straum had the vox up. Hopefully they'll find their brothers in arms and piece together a coherent force. Preferably before the Mechanicus. There's no doubt in his mind they'll be lobotomized and righteously so by the vengeful cyborgs at desecrating their technology with heresy.

The tunnels were claustrophobic, looming around him. He was displeased to find that they were poorer in quality then even the tunnels under Vraks. For the Lescatians and most likely the traitors, they would have no trouble walking through. For the Grenadier however?

His bulk was quite imposing, and he found it difficult to move fast or comfortably. Moving sideways was an awkward experience but it was nothing compared to his time on Vraks. He kept his bayonet nearby just in case however. These tunnels were tight and the corners were many. An ambush would be trivial to pull off here and while he had faith in his armor and armaments, best not leave things to chance.

He heard coughing in the distance and moved quicker, stumbling upon the coughing prone body of one of the Lescatians. Her face was red and sweaty, her eyes glossed over and a dumb smile on her face as she reached out for him. He smashed his hellgun against her face and she was out like a light, falling unconscious from his savage blow.

Nearby, a small canister was spraying a purple mist. He smashed his fist into the contraption and it stopped hissing. Though that still left the Lescatian under him, who was now groaning in her forced dirt nap. He sneered, raising his hellgun up to execute her when a hand reached over. He reacted immediately, slamming the person into the wall behind him who let out a terrified yelp as he pressed a bayonet against their throat.

"W-Wait wait wait!" Parshe shrieked, face terrified as she stared at the soulless, blank skull of Ludwig's mask.

"..."

He stepped back, scoffing as the young hero coughed raggedly, clutching her throat and gazing at him with fear and anger.

"You barbare!" she hissed, "T-That w-w-was j-just uncalled for!"

"..."

He said nothing, simply turning around back to the still barely conscious Lescatian on the ground as Parshe massaged her sore throat and coughed.

"Wait. Hold on." Parshe interrupted, face paling more as she recognized his intent.

She hobbled over and squeezed by the Grenadier's imposing bulk, standing in front of the prone woman, "H-Hold on. She's not too far gone yet."

He grunted, gesturing at the moaning woman.

"She's compromised." he stated, "Already she is beginning the process."

"She's not sprouting wings, or ears, or claws, anything like that yet. Its a good thing we caught this early. She's salvageable." Parshe insisted, "Besides, we can't just kill her like this. It would be cruel."

"Cruel would be letting her turn."

He shouldered passed the heroine and grabbed the still moaning Lescatian by her hair, preparing to sit her throat with his bayonet despite the angered words of the girl when he heard it.

He tossed the woman in his hand to the side and pushed Parshe out of the way as a shadow suddenly burst out of hiding. A false wall flipped back into place as the would be ambusher shouted gibberish, trying to smash a crude club at the Grenadier's face. The man grasped his wrist and twisted it, causing the man to gasp in pain and drop his club.

Then the imperial growled as he swung the man hard against the wall, smashing his face flat against the surface and cracking the bastard's nose. Tossing him backwards, the Grenadier sneered in disgust at the pathetic sight before him.

Just another dreg of Lescatie it seems, a man that blends into the crowd as just another poor urchin scum. The traitor stood still groggily, swaying on his feet as he gazed at the Grenadier with hate, fear, and dizziness.

"Die you monster!" the man shouted, rushing forth with his fists held high.

The Grenadier scoffed, lunging forward with an attack of his own and sending a gloved fist that smashed at the man's throat, causing him to choke and gasp uselessly for air. The Grenadier didn't stop, slamming his other fist into the ambusher's stomach next and causing him to hack up blood and bile as he doubled over. As the final hit, the Grenadier went for the low blow, rearing back before launching his fist forward and smashing it against the man's jaw and sending him sprawling backwards.

The man was floored, literally and figuratively, and left as a broken unconscious heap on the ground with a dislocated jaw. Ludwig sneered at the man on the ground, disgust at defeating such a weak traitor so easily. Truly these people were a pathetic lot. He exhaled tiredly, shaking his head at the sight as he rummaged for his bayonet.

"That was very impressive outsider." Parshe murmured quietly behind him, causing the Grenadier to glance at her in curiosity.

The young heroine looked at him with faint respect, "You fought savagely."

"Hmmm." the Grenadier dismissed, "Nothing impressive."

"And yet you disabled him in but mere moments. That is impressive, so no need to be so modest you brute." Parshe proclaimed, walking over to the unconscious man and nudging him with her foot, frowning slightly. With a sigh she said, "Look at him. You beat him senseless."

"And now I end him permanently." the Grenadier stated coldly, unsheathing his glittering bayonet.

Parshe however shook her head, "Just like with the guard, you should not kill this man."

Before he could cut in, she continued curtly, "This is not out of goodwill to this trash. For all I care he could die...I guess. But think of how much better it would be if we can capture him."

"I doubt he holds any real intel. Look at him." he gestured at the poor state of the man, healthy likely due to the effects of these mutants and traitors, but sparsely equipped. He fought with no training nor real battle prowess, merely a rat that tried to bite it's predator.

"It would be best to kill him now." the Grenadier shrugged, "Keeping this one alive is a waste of resources. Our capabilities are limited as of right now."

Chrrriiiiiick

The false wall that housed the ambusher was creaking, interrupting their conversation as it slipped open, grinding stone on stone and spraying dirt everywhere. The Grenadier trained his hellgun on it instinctively and Parshe pivoted to mirror him with her sword in hand. The both of them waited cautiously, a beat of silence save for the gasping low breathing of the two unconscious people beneath their feet. As the silence continued, the Grenadier slowly trudged forward to grasp the opening and forced it open. What greeted the two of them was another eerie tunnel, this one completely dark and lacking a lantern.

"Another one. If there's more hidden tunnels, this place will quickly become a maze."

"Quite."

"I think we'll be down here for quite a while."

"..."

Not unless they brought flamers. They'll just burn the rats out and smoke them out of hiding. The Grenadier gazed down the tunnels and clicked his flashlight on, illuminating the dark tunnels to find...

Just another narrow hallway, roughly dug out and crudely held up by wooden columns. He shone his light up top, left to right, and everywhere he could see only to find nothing but dirt and wooden columns. Grunting, he turned back to the hero beside him, gazing at him with a determined gaze.

"You can go." Parshe spoke up, "I can handle these two."

"A mere child, securing two prisoners by her lonesome?" he said dully, though Parshe bristled at him and gave him a harsh glare.

"And here I thought you were cool for a second. I just wanted to impre-" she sighed, trailing off as she fumed. Then she shook her head before pointing at the bodies, "Listen outsider, I'm a hero, I know what to do. Besides, do they look in any position to resist?"

The two of them were unconscious courtesy of the imperial, and the Grenadier thought about it for a moment as Parshe stared defiantly at him. The Grenadier scoffed, shoving her aside. If this hero wanted to waste her time capturing two useless nobodies who was he to argue that point. But he had his orders and he knew what he had to do. Despite her protests, he walked up to the dreg he had disabled and then nonchalantly jammed his bayonet through the man's throat.

The traitor began gurgling, his body convulsing as the Grenadier drew a red smile from ear to ear and slit his throat.

There were more rats to hunt.

"Do what you wish." he replied curtly, Parshe gazing at him with anger and horror but she nevertheless moved for him to pass, the Grenadier giving her a sneer under his mask.

Weaklings. Good for cannon fodder and not much else in his eyes as he stepped into the new tunnel that had opened up.

It was quite obvious now that these tunnels were not made for him, pressing against his sides tightly and forcing him to move delicately and with his bayonet out instead of his hellgun. The bulk and length of his faithful weapon would do him no good here as he stalked the tunnels. It was like a snake, moving crookedly with no rhyme or reason and he sighed as he came across a point that split apart the tunnels.

The left seemed small, as if made for someone half his size while the right was just another normal hallway, though slimmer then most. He was tempted to follow the left, but his own bulk would work against him. Moving delicately, he went right and squeezed through the narrow confines and moved quickly, eager to find his enemy. He came to the end of the tunnel and narrowed his eyes, walking up to the "dead end" and knocking on it experimentally.

It was hollow and grunted as he looked for a way to open the passage way. There had to be some mechanism that the traitors used to move through these tunnels. As the Grenadier shouldered his hellgun to pat the sides of the wall down, he blinked as the wall shifted. He stepped back and was already reaching for his hellgun again as the voices behind the wall became audible.

"-nd we can escape through he-"

A startled gasp as the traitors opened the hidden passageway to find the intimidating bulk and ghastly appearance of a Krieg grenadier standing silently in front of them.

"Eeek!" the woman squeaked, her wings and horns marking her as a mutant and the man beside her a traitor. The man shoved the mutant aside and began running for it, shouting at her to move.

They ran quickly and the Grenadier slammed at the opening passageway to force it open faster. It gave them precious seconds to run like hell was after them, which was an apt description as the Grenadier began his pursuit.

As the Grenadier followed after the retreating traitors, their terrified yelps and hurried footsteps echoed in the tight confines of the tunnels. They were fast and were better accustomed to these tight tunnels but the Krieger was relentless, chasing after them as fast as possible even as his shoulders caught on the edges of the walls. He turned the corner and growled as he saw the tunnels once again splitting apart and the Grenadier examined them both quickly before following after the leftmost one. He scarcely moved a few feet when a voice made itself known.

"Outsider! Wait!" shouted a voice, causing the imperial to turn around quickly and snap his hellgun up.

"Identify yourself." he said bitingly.

"Do not fire outsider! I am a knight!" the voice said, turning the corner.

The Krieger narrowed his eyes in distaste upon spotting the man, a heavily armored man standing before him. He was even bigger then Ludwig, with his shiny armor giving him a heroic aura and added bulk. He had a kettle helmet with chain coif to protect his neck and face and his half plate armor looked tough enough to thwart most attacks from melee weapons. Most.

The Lescatian waved at the imperial, gesturing him to follow him.

"Come outsider. This way. I saw them, if we hurry we can catch up to them." the hulking Lescatian said, his voice muffled by the chain coif. The Grenadier grunted, not bothering to answer the man as he followed after him. He backtracked quickly, following after the other man going the opposite route.

As he scurried through the tight tunnels, he began to grow suspicious however as he no longer heard distant sounds of terrified traitors and their footsteps. Only his own and this knight. The imperial was confident he was tailing after the traitors, and yet this guard had claimed they were the other way. At the time the Krieger had no reason to doubt this man.

Now it felt like a mistake.

The question was, is this man incompetent or worse...a traitor as well? He was strange. There was something off about the man...the way his eyes glinted and the way his entire form seemed eerily strong.

As the Lescatian continued to stride through the tunnels with ease, the Grenadier narrowed his eyes and held his hellgun tightly. Finally, the pair began to make their way to the end of a tunnel, the man still talking inanely. The Grenadier ignored him, instead taking careful consideration of his environment, the tight enclosing walls on both side of him and how it made aiming awkward.

The fact that the limited light almost meant that he nearly missed the Lescatian subtly taking out his arming sword. The fact that the many twists and turns they had, most of which the man navigated with ease, would throw off many would be pursuers for the loop.

"-nd we're here." the man finished, still facing the wall.

"A dead end." the Grenadier summarized, already aiming his hellgun at the man's back.

"That's right imperial." the Lescatian said.

A beat of silence as the Grenadier prepared to order the man to stand down before the knight suddenly turned around and threw a dagger at him. The Grenadier leaned to the left, letting the dagger ricochet off his helmet rather then dig into his neck. The traitorous filth charged him, shield raised and aimed at the imperial while screaming hoarsely as his attack failed.

The Grenadier opened fire, managing to send one shot out that the Lescatian just barely dodged, the metal pauldron glowing as the heat of the lasbolt sailed past his shoulder and illuminated their dark surroundings with a bright blast. The man screamed again hoarsely in rage and fear as he crashed into the Grenadier, barreling into him hard and slamming the shield like a battering ram at his chest to send him flying backwards.

With a loss of breath, he landed on his back and grimaced before just barely dodging the thrust the Lescatian made by rolling his torso to the wall. He had dropped his hellgun and the Grenadier retaliated with his foot that hit at his armored knee ineffectively. Thinking fast, he raised his hellgun and blocked the next slash, mentally muttering a quick apology to the machine spirit for the damage as the blade bit into the gun.

"Stand still you bastard!" the Lescatian shouted before squealing in pain as the Grenadier shot his foot again, this time aimed squarely at his groin.

As the traitor recoiled backwards and doubled over in agony, the Grenadier hurriedly got up and snarled, taking out his bayonet and moving quickly. With his hellgun damaged, he will not risk using it and he slipped his backpack off to rid he excess weight. The man fought through the pain despite the debilitating pain in his lower region as the gritty imperial crashed into him, slamming him onto the ground. The Grenadier's first thrust punctured through his armor, the armor resisting but being pierced through when the Krieger brute forced his way in. It made contact with his skin based off the agonized expression on the Lescatian's face, the man growling angrily as he pushed back as much as he could.

He dropped his shield and reared his fist back, sending it flying at the Grenadier's face and smashing his helmet off for his troubles. The Grenadier saw stars but retaliated with a strike of his own, his gloved fist slamming into his face with force while he clutched his bayonet securely. The both of them wrestled for control, the Grenadier forcing the Lescatian down with gritty experience and trying to keep him still as he tried to puncture the bayonet through the armor's weak points. He went in for the killing stroke when the bastard's sword came glinting by his left, causing the Grenadier to intercept it with his bayonet to prevent losing his neck and likely his head.

Their blades locked together in a struggle for dominance, one that he was at a severe disadvantage at. His only saving grace being the Lescatian's awkward position and the fact he only swung with one hand from the ground. The Grenadier growled, hand shaking with exertion as he kept the arming sword from slashing at his throat while trying to retaliate. It was made more difficult as the Lescatian raised his fists and pummeled at the Krieger's chest. The Grenadier felt bile rise to his throat as he forced the man's arm down before striking with his fist again to daze the Lescatian. While the man was gathering his bearings, the Grenadier drove his bayonet into the Lescatian's sword hand and skewered it clean through, causing him to scream in agony and rage.

"Bastard!" the knight snarled. Dropping his sword, the Lescatian used his other to rain a flurry of blows on the imperial's chest again, the force behind the strikes causing the Grenadier to be buckled off and losing his grip on the bayonet. The two combatants hurried onto their feet, the Grenadier leaning on the wall clutching at his chest while the Lescatian stood in pain, grabbing the Grenadier's bayonet and throwing it onto the ground in rage.

"Now it's on you freak!" he said scathingly, "I'm not some mutt you can put down like the rest of the rabble. I got blessings now. From our lovely soon to be new overlords."

He gave the imperial a wicked smile, "But you won't be around to see it!"

He began barreling forward and the Grenadier pivoted on his foot, dodging his forward attack and retaliating with another fierce kick to his groin, though this time the Lescatian anticipated it and caught his foot.

"Not this time asshole!" he shouted, swinging the Grenadier into the wall and causing him to slam onto the hard surface full force.

The Grenadier felt rattled and he tasted blood upon his lips, having bit his tongue. Grunting, he reached forth with both his hands and aimed them at the bastard's eyes, causing the Lescatian to scream loudly as he let go of the Grenadier's leg and went for his arms mutilating his eyes instead.

"MYEYESMYEYESMYEYESMYEYES!" the traitor shrieked rabidly, grabbing the Grenadier's wrists and trying to pry them off. The imperial was relentless and he pushed harder only for the man to knee him in the groin next, causing Ludwig to grimace and his slight lapse in strength was all the knight needed to push him aside, causing the Krieger to recoil backwards in pain as well.

As he shakily leaned on the wall doubling over, the Lescatian was screaming still as he leaned on the wall opposite of him. The two of them recovered themselves as quickly as they could, with the Lescatian rubbing his bloodshot eyes and gazing at the Grenadier with teary eyed fury while the imperial for his part was stoically getting ready for another round, pushing aside the absolute gut churning pain coursing through his loins.

This was definitely a lot more challenging then he expected, not having expected such ferocity from a local. It appears not all of them are weaklings after all, the hulking man in front of him breathing heavily in anger.

"Fuck knocking you out. I'm going to murder you!" the Lescatian snarled while Ludwig stayed silent, the man grunting as he braced himself.

The narrow confines of the tunnels meant that the only way to fight was forward, no circling each other waiting for an opening. You strike hard and you strike fast.

The knight advanced forward with fury on his face, trusting in his bigger size and heavier armor to win the day while the Grenadier faced his advance head on. Then the two were pummeling at each other like savages, the knight striking first with a savage armored fist smashing against the Krieger's face and causing his lenses to crack.

He repaid him with an equally as savage punch across his face, knocking the man's kettle helmet off and leaving only his mail hood. They exchanged a flurry of blows, their armor helping the two fighters to stomach the blows respectively but only for so longer. The longer the two had their slugfest, the more likely it was for the bastard's traitorous fellows to escape.

That's what this knight was doing, distracting them. The Grenadier had to end this soon as he absorbed a savage punch that left him reeling for breath. Ignoring his body's demands to collapse, he powered forth and barreled into the knight's chest, causing the man to cry out. The Grenadier didn't stop, he picked the man up in a tackle and moved him, slamming him into the dead end.

With a crack, he heard the Lescatian's cry of pain and the Grenadier growled as he slammed the traitor against the dead end again. The man retaliated by slamming his elbow onto the Krieger's back, causing the imperial to hack up blood and bile as he got knocked down. Freed of his grip, the Lescatian tried to stand up but the imperial simply brought his head up into a headbutt, smashing it against the man's face and causing the knight to cry out in pain.

He fell backwards onto his ass and struggled to his knees while clutching his bruised face as the imperial kneeled on the ground before standing up. As the Lescatian was recovering, the Grenadier rushed forward with a right hook, smashing it against the man's face and causing him to spit out a tooth. Then he struck with another one and the man gained a nasty bruise on his left eye.

The third strike however was intercepted by the knight's armored hand and the Grenadier grunted in pain as the knight twisted his arm, forcing him to contort his body in an attempt to relieve it. The knight's retaliation was brutal as well, armored fist slamming into the Grenadier's stomach while the other kept his arm bent. As the Grenadier tried to wiggle free while blocking the Lescatian's attacks, the traitor charged, forcing the Grenadier to backpedal but he was not able to prevent himself being slammed into the wall and then thrown onto the ground.

As he laid sprawled out in a daze, the knight brought down his foot onto the Krieger's elbow and the imperial was not able to stifle his brief cry of pain as the limb cracked and he felt stabbing pain over his arm.

"Argh!" he spat, slamming his fist at the knight's knee and forcing him onto the ground. However the Lescatian wrapped his hands around the Krieger's throat next, trying to strangle the life out of him as the imperial kicked with his legs and used his arm to resist.

With his left in agony, it was up to his right hand as he slammed his fist ineffectively at the knight's chest, armored throat, and then face. As his vision dimmed and his strength, the Grenadier gurgled as he pressed his hand against the knight's face to push him off.

"Die die die die die! Come on make this easy for both of us!"

The Grenadier emitted a constricted growl as he pressed his fingers into the man's face, digging into his eyes and causing the knight to scream again. It was a battle of who could last the longest and even though the Grenadier felt his strength waning, he was able to outlast the knight whose grip began to weaken before disappearing entirely as the Grenadier dug his fingers deep.

He let go and tried to recoil backwards, but the Grenadier refused and instead of digging his fingers deeper, he instead curled them and gripped onto the eyes he was clawing at. He succeeded, managing to snatch and pull out an eye as the knight screamed loudly. Even as his lungs begged for air, the Grenadier instead pushed his advantage and pulled harder, yanking the eye out of its socket with a disgusting squelch and snap as the Lescatian fell backwards screaming.

Gasping for breath, the Grenadier fell onto his back and began breathing in deeply while throwing away the bloodied orb in his grasp. Getting onto his feet again shakily, he keeled over as his body began contorting in agony while the knight continued to flail on the ground. Still struggling for air, the man began moving quickly and hobbled over to his discarded bayonet to pick it up in his bloodied grasp and descending onto the flailing Lescatian.

The man was screaming intelligibly, rage and agony and most potent of all, fear. Through blurry vision he was able to see the imperial advancing towards him while covered in blood, bayonet in hand. The traitor squirmed but he was not able to crawl away fast enough as the Grenadier loomed over him, slamming his bulk at the man's chest and causing him to hack up blood.

"No mercy!" the Grenadier growled, pressing his agonizing left arm onto the the knight and holding him down while the right held the bayonet up high. The knight tried to raise his arms to ward away his death while his mouth screamed.

"NO!"

"No prisoners!" the imperial shouted, driving the bayonet closer to the man's face even as his arm tried to hold him back. The Grenadier growled, raising his broken left arm and slamming it at the knight's throat even as his own arm protested, stabbing pains causing him to bite his tongue. The knight gurgled, feeling his strength waning as each strike caused him to choke up before the Grenadier finally brought the bayonet down to bury it onto the man's remaining eye.

He drove it all the way down until the hilt was pressed up against the man's face. The corpse began to seize up and the Grenadier pressed down to keep the knight still as he went through his death throes. Blood gurgling in his throat, the man gazed at the Grenadier with an empty eye socket before he stilled. Grimacing, the Grenadier get off the corpse and sat down, leaning against the walls and catching his breath.

As the corpse gurgled blood, the Grenadier stilled himself. That was another rat down. There were still more to find and quickly, before they scurried off. With a heaviness in his limbs, the imperial stood up shakily, bending down to yank the bayonet out of the traitor's eye. He had to press his foot against the body to yank it out and he nearly fell backwards, coughing harshly.

How despicable. How sloppy. The Grenadier walked over to his hellgun and backpack, bending down to slip it on and groaning as his left arm protested his movements. He examined his faithful weapon, frowning as he ran his hand through the damage and sighed, shouldering his hellgun and gripping his bayonet tightly, knuckles pale and shaking. The Grenadier will cleanse these tunnels if that was the last thing he'll do.

He left the corpse to rot behind as he moved forward, intent on backtracking and finding more rats to slaughter.


Riverside Camp, Osaros Region

Ioriel couldn't help but pace back and forth, her tail swishing behind her nervously. Nearby, Magaera cleaned her newly acquired duel autopistols while Faolan sharpened his blades as usual.

Chrrick

Chrrick

Chrrick

"...Faolan...could you stop that...please?" Ioriel said lightly, looking at him pleadingly.

The Brontian raised his brow at her, giving her a look of utter bafflement.

"I beg your pardon?" he said with a voice that was decidedly unapologetic.

"I-It's grating..." Ioriel confessed, "And right now...I'm just...just..."

"Worried. For no reason." Faolan sighed, "She's in good hands."

Chrrick

"Unlike our friend here, I suffer from no delusions, kunoichi." snarked Magaera, "Her fate is precarious. It rests in the God-Emperor's hands now."

"W-Would it hurt for either of you to be...be...ugh!" the kunoichi grimaced and shook her head.

The Brontian shrugged, continuing to sharpen his tools while the arbitrator scoffed. Neither of them seemed too concerned about the fate of Nyssa and why should they? The kunoichi had a feeling that both of them saw the mamono as barely tolerable. At least she had the boon of being useful to them in combat. But for someone like the werewolf? Who was bleeding them supplies?

Neither of them seemed to care and she sighed, pacing still.

"You're going to dig a trench at this rate Ioriel." Faolan commented, causing her to sigh even harder.

"I can't help but be worried alright?" she grouched, frowning at him and causing him to hold his hands up in mock surrender.

"Now now. Calm down yeah? Just take it easy. Whatever happens, happens."

"Life is cruel Ioriel. It is merciless and unrelenting and all we can do is our very best." Magaera added in, not looking up as she put together her pistols.

Click

Ioriel sighed heavily and nodded at them both, sitting down with a heavy heart and mind full of concern. The healer was a professional, having been one for many decades, but she was unfamiliar with the tools and medicines the imperials and her had brought to the healer. As such, she was unsure if she would be truly capable of saving Nyssa's life.

It was a sobering thing for Ioriel, to have gotten this far but have it all end simply because Nyssa's situation was so awful.

Regardless, they were right. She was just going to wear herself out at this rate and she groaned as she found a spot to rest besides the both of them. Faolan seemed amused as he shook his head at her while Magaera gazed at her with an expression of utmost boredom and scorn.

"Tell me Ioriel...why are you...that?" the arbitrator said casually, causing the kunoichi to blink in confusion.

"Why am I...?"

"Different."

"Ahhh. Well I am a kunoichi...and uhhh...well...I'm a mamono."

"And just what is a mamono?" the arbitrator asked, "You are not human. That much is obvious and your unnatural characteristics mark you as a freak of nature, a mutant even, and yet you are not a slobbering beast hungering for our flesh and blood...yet."

"Wow...that's so...kind."

"I speak only the truth. You and the rest among us are mutants really. Unfit to be living amongst mankind...not that it matters now anyway seeing what our circumstances are."

"Well said arbitrator. Maybe add a few more scathing remarks. I'm sure she needs to hear more of it." Faolan guffawed, "But she is right. What are you really?"

The kunoichi frowned, scowling at them both. She swore the arbitrator had a smile on her face and she could definitely see the Brontian giving her a shit eating grin. She huffed, leaning against a boulder.

"Well there's not much to say really. I'm a mamono and...hmmm. How do I explain this exactly?"

The kunoichi now found herself in a rather awkward situation as they both gazed at her with boredom and faint curiosity. She certainly did not want to alienate these imperials, seeing how she's now relying on them for her continued survival.

"We are born of the Demon Lord's desire...to...spread...love and life..." she said awkwardly, grimacing as predictably both of them blinked at her.

Then they laughed. Or Faolan did. Magaera seemed to be in between scathing scorn and baffled amusement, a crooked smile on her face.

"Really? Love?" the Brontian scoffed, "I've heard some colorful words from the other people during my imprisonment."

"Quite. I say rape and mind break might be a better word for it." the arbitrator added in and Ioriel winced.

"I understand that some of my fellow mamono can be...overzealous in their pursuit to find a husband..." she said slowly, rubbing her head in exasperation, "And that some go through extreme measures to accomplish their goals."

This was a very awkward situation. Especially as Magaera was very forward about showing off how easily she could twirl a gun between her hands.

"So we heard...it's funny really. Is this a common trait amongst all of you?" the woman said casually and Ioriel hurried to correct her.

"No no! The ones you speak of and refer to are usually the Extremists...a rather...radical and overbearing faction..." she said nervously, "They are spearheaded by one of the Lilum and have rather...forward ways of getting what they want."

"I can see that they don't take no for an answer. And you are a part of them?" Faolan asked lightly, humming lightly as he polished his blades.

"Yes..."

She could just feel the drop in temperature and a faint chill coil around her.

"...but I was simply hired by them...I do not think it is good that we are...so...well..."

"Forward?" Faolan offered helpfully, "Gung ho? Enthusiastic? We can go on really."

"They're...misguided..." Ioriel said with a sigh, "And they're foolish...their leader Druella took her mother's dream differently..."

"And just what is this dream of this so called...'Demon Lord' exactly?"

"She was simply tired of all the bloodshed of the previous Ages. She loved humanity greatly and wanted to end the bloodshed between monsters and humans and did so when she took control to become the Demon Lord. With her immense power she transformed the entirety of monsterkind into the mamono...which is our most recent forms that you see now."

"So whores?"

"No!"

Even Magaera sighed as she gave a small glare at the Brontian, who just shrugged.

"We aren't whores..." Ioriel muttered, though not as confident as she hoped.

There were quite a lot of examples that proved otherwise in all honesty...but that was the exception...usually...

She shook her head, "Regardless we all have the same goal. We just want to find a nice man to start a family with, to spread the joys of love and to find peace."

"Sounds almost...touching...except obviously it is not as easy as that is it?"

"No...life is much more...difficult then dreams would want. Humanity did not accept our new forms and some of our members are admittedly...rather awful still." Ioriel sighed.

"I've also heard that you have issues with this...arrangement. You don't make human children."

"No...that is a rather huge issue that we face admittedly. All our children are always more mamono. This is of course less then ideal and something the Demon Lord is trying to fix."

"I take it you have not been successful then if it has been a few hundred years or so huh?" Magaera said dryly, unimpressed.

"No...there has been some complications, but I am sure she is close to fixing it! Then soon humanity and monsterkind can live together in peace...well that was the plan before...before all this."

"Before us huh?" Faolan grunted, stretching his limbs, "Hmmm this is quite an interesting situation."

"I suppose so." Magaera scoffed, "I'm not even sure what to classify this...lunacy as anything other then a horrific accident."

"Ouch."

"That's rather nice of her actually Ioriel. She's actually conflicted." chuckled Faolan.

Magaera looked more then just conflicted, she looked absolutely thunderous as her expression darkened and she began muttering to herself quietly. Faolan for his part simply shrugged as Ioriel gazed at him.

"Well? What do you think of us?"

"If you stay outta my way I don't give a damn." he responded evenly.

"I don't know what I expected."

He gave her another shrug and she sighed, leaning back onto the boulder and gazing up at the stormy skies. It thundered distantly and Ioriel let out another drawn out sigh as droplets of rain began drizzling down slowly.

"What a miserable time to rain." she muttered.

As the droplets rained down, slowly turning the world around them dim and muddy, she felt the hairs on her body rise up in sudden dread Something felt incredibly wrong and she knew her companions felt that sensation as well when Faolan and Magaera alike suddenly began scanning their surroundings more alert. Then...

They heard it.

Distant shouts and orders. The heavy footfalls and splashing water.

Immediately the three of them shot up and began surveying their surroundings. Faolan looked behind him to check on their camp, a worried grimace on his usually casual face before he schooled it back to a half smirk. Their limited cover in the foliage hidden away meant that they had precious few seconds of relative peace to observe their enemy.

And it was their enemy most certainly. The cultists were moving forth dressed in simple leathers and chain, all proudly barring the iconographies of the Dark Gods. They appeared to be converted brigands, once simple cutthroats and outlaws now monstrous, bastard cultists. Many brandished simple melee weapons while others held crossbows, clutching them with experienced ease while they searched for the survivors. Ioriel grimaced as she saw them while Faolan and Magaera shared a glance.

"It seems our enemy has done our job for us." Faolan said lightly, ever the casual guardsman, "Now we don't have to go out and find them!"

"Quite. Now lets go kill them."

Ioriel nodded with the arbitrator, sitting back down behind the boulder to think. Then there came a sudden cacophony of rapid gunfire thundering loudly.

"Damnit. Fixer and his frakking trigger finger." cursed Magaera as she peeked above their cover.

Sure enough the Savlar Chemdog was firing his autogun recklessly, cackling slightly as he poured an admirable amount of firepower down range. Next to him on the same branch was the harpy, looking terrified as she huddled behind the hulking guardsman. At the base of the tree was their other comrade, Giggles living up to his namesake as he cackled as loudly as his gun.

Together the two of them unleased a volley of firepower that nevertheless managed to hit absolutely nothing and alert the enemy to their position. The heretics screamed and they took cover wherever they could, behind trees and rocks and even in ditches to escape the torrent of lead. It was a chaotic scene as the cultists began shouting at each other and returned fire, though just as inaccurately.

Bolts whistled by and the sounds of battle would surely alert the other pursuers as well. They should have expected this but for the heretics to have organized themselves so fast for a search party such as this was remarkable.

The arbitrator rubbed her face in exasperation while Faolan tinkered with a metallic object in his hands.

"Seems like our boys are having fun already." the Brontian commented, grasping the pin and yanking it free.

He then armed the frag grenade and tossed it far, the bomb landing into a nearby puddle with a plop before exploding violently and sending shrapnel to perforate a nearby heretic and obliterating the tree he was hiding behind.

Fearlessly the man charged forth while Magaera scowled and Ioriel watched on in concern. None of the heretics dared to poke their heads out of cover lest they get splattered by the literal carpet of gunfire. As such the Brontian was able to get close before they realized, and by the time they noticed the eager warrior it was too late as he efficiently and quickly dispatched them.

He parried a sloppy thrust from one heretic and slammed his swords through the man's chests, skewering him through and causing the man to collapse onto his knees. The Brontian then opened his blades up like scissors and disemboweled in one clean motion before swinging his swords again and cleaving his head off in one strike. The next heretic recoiled in alarm and he hurriedly backpedaled while aiming his crossbow high, unleashing a heavy bolt that the Brontian barely dodged, the projectile ricocheting off his shoulderguard.

He slashed his sword and lopped off the heretics arms before doing the same with the upper half of his skull. The blood had not finished sliding off his blades when he ran them through the guts of his friend. He had raised his buckler to block the thrusts but the blades had simply punctured through and messily revealed his entrails, leaving him gasping for breath as Faolan kicked him off.

The Brontian then ducked into cover as the heretics returned fire with quarrels and daggers. The Savlar Chemdogs meanwhile continued to lay down a whittling hail of bullets, but every gun had to reload eventually. When the two clicked dry for their respective weapons, the heretics charged forth.

Their melee fighters dashed forward while the crossbowmen took aim and tried to weather them down with deadly bolts. Unarmored as they were, the two penal guardsmen took cover behind or on the tree while the harpy shrieked in fear. Fixer, in uncharacteristic bravery, grabbed the terrified mamono and hopped down, narrowly avoiding being perforated by bolts as he did so. He landed and rolled, pushing the harpy aside as he stood up next to Giggles, who was angrily reloading his heavy stubber. The Mamono shuddered in fear before the Savlar snarled something intelligible in her ears and she ran off, likely to warn the others in their makeshift camp.

The other man meanwhile was still trying to reload his heavy stubber, the Savlar slamming the heavy barrel gun against the tree numerous times but the weapon remained stubbornly jammed. In a fit of childish rage, the Savlar stood up from cover as a few cultists rushed forth, using the gun's bulk as a club to slam into the face of the first snarling heretic.

The converted brigand's helmet crumpled and the man screamed as his eyes bulged out, but the Savlar was unconcerned and simply slammed his gun again and again into the bastard's face while Fixer laid down covering fire. He gunned down a heretic but the next one ate half a dozen rounds to the chest like they were nothing, rushing at him with a claymore.

He narrowly avoided being skewered and smashed the butt of his gun against the brigand's face. Not far behind them were the other heretics, brandishing dirks, daggers, and swords. They were in danger of being overrun and Ioriel rushed forward to help them while Magaera covered Foalan's flanks with her guns.

The kunoichi dashed forward, adrenaline coursing through her as she breathed in deeply and held her falchion close to her body. When she got close enough, she did a quick jump into the air and used her momentum to carry her sword through the armored neck of one of the brigands, piercing his mail and slamming sharpened steel through his throat. She extracted it in a shower of blood and ducked underneath the swing of another cultist, slicing into his legs and causing him to fall onto his knees.

His friend rescued him quickly, dashing forward and slashing with twin knives that kept Ioriel backing away in caution. The wounded cultist struggled to get up and did indeed manage to stand before Fixer domed him with a quick burst of gunfire, scattering his brains across the ground. The dual wielding knives user gaped in horror as the Savlar turned to aim at him before the guardsman was hit with a few bolts in return.

They struck his arm and torso, causing him to cry out in pain as he recoiled back. The cultist did not get a chance to use his stroke of good luck, for Ioriel proved it was only temporary when she dashed forward and skewered him through the neck with a quick thrust. Using his corpse as cover, she then ran at the line of crossbowmen, causing them to panic as they fired upon her as quickly as they could.

Ioriel screamed in fear and determination as she rapidly closed the distance and tossed the body aside to shoulder check the first cultist she saw, sending the man flying backwards from the sheer impact. However, the kunoichi lost her footing and she rolled across the ground to avoid a bad fall, covering herself in mud. The rest aimed to kill her but Magaera opened fire on them, sending one sprawling the ground choking from the bullet in his throat while the other nursed a bleeding shoulder.

The one that was on the ground scrambled to get up like Ioriel, a demented dagger in his hands as he sought to skewer her with it. She dodged his forward dash and then his wild slashes afterwards, being rewarded with only a few scrapes rather then having deep lacerations littering her stomach and arms. With a casual flick of her wrist, she ducked underneath his next swing and sliced open his stomach in one move, sending him to the ground. As the man struggled to react while holding his bleeding stomach, Ioriel slammed her falchion through his neck and watched with interest as blood poured up and out of his gaping mouth. He gurgled uselessly, staring at her with horror as she sank her blade deeper with a disgusting squelch.

She should have felt sickened.

She kicked the corpse off her blade and felt only contempt for the cultist, looking at her bloodied hands with faint satisfaction before Faolan was suddenly by her side, flicking her head with his wrist, "Focus!" before he was off, no doubt to slay the rest of the sorry rabble harassing them.

The kunoichi blinked before gasping and letting out a breath she did not know she was holding.

She shook her head as she joined her companions, dashing forward to intercept an overhang swing from a cultist that was aiming for Faolan, who was busy gutting another brigand.

"I had it handled." the Brontian dismissed as Ioriel slit the assailant's throat. The brigand clawed at her desperately even as a river of blood flowed from his neck.

She kicked his legs out from under him and tossed him into the mud dismissively.

"A thanks would be nice too."

Faolan scoffed, giving her a sly grin, "Right."

He suddenly twirled a dagger from his harness and flung it passed Ioriel's ear to hit into the throat of a brigand. Gurgling, the man dropped to his knees and let his weapon go, clutching at his throat uselessly before falling over and convulsing.

"I had that handled."

"Heh, if you say so doll." drawled Faolan nonchalantly, smirking at the scowling Ioriel before Magaera made her way over.

"If you two are done I'd like you both to remember where we are and focus! Come on, there's something off." the Arbitrator snapped, "They sent at us a wave of expendable rabble to smoke us out. Prepare for the real deal."

"Oh I know...and I have a feeling I know just what and who they are..." Faolan said, more seriously and grim this time.

"And just who are they then Brontian?" Magaera said, looking around with alert wariness.

A few bullets whistled by this time instead of crossbow bolts. They perforated their surroundings and sent ricochets of splinters and stone all over the place as the suppressive fire forced the three companions to hunker down behind cover wherever they could find it.

"FOUND YA MAGGOTS!"

The next wave of enemies that came out of hiding were not converted brigands like before, but rather ranks of armored and armed men with grisly weapons and trophies, their armor painted a bloody crimson.

"Blood Pact..." Faolan said grimly as the heretics charged forth, eager to claim skulls and blood for Khorne.

They strode forth with reckless abandon and gleeful slaughter in their eyes. Unlike the rabble they had sent forth just moments earlier, the Blood Pact were well trained and bloodthirsty. There was not a hint of hesitation in their step as they charged forth with swords high and guns blazing, their marksmanship driving the companions into cover. They closed the distance with reckless abandon and with startling speed, surprising the kunoichi as the point one swung a roaring sword similar to the one that the devil, Straum, had used against her.

Ioriel was ashamed to say she screamed in fright the moment she heard it's awful roar and grinding teeth, eager to taste blood. Her blood again. The wound on her stomach ached and she scrambled backwards, much to Magaera and Faolan's shock and disappointment.

"Stand and fight kunoichi!" Faolan snarled, using his blades to intercept the roaring chainsword and it's snarling user, the Blood Pact warrior pressing his advantage with his superior weapon.

The blades Faolan were carrying chipped away steadily, but the man was evidently aware of this as he quickly pivoted and unbalanced the warrior. He counterattacked quickly, swinging with all his might at the bastard's armored face.

Clang

The blades shattered into pieces, having been weakened by the chainsword. The Blood Pact warrior's helmet and mask was scraped and scarred by the force of the slash and the shrapnel that showered him.

"You're dead!" he snarled loudly.

He swung high but the Brontian barely ducked underneath his swing, shooting forward with his fist that slammed into the warrior's gut and sent him sprawling back. With his other hand, Faolan had gripped his wrist and twisted it, causing him to drop his chainsword.

However, the warrior simply grabbed Faolan by his shoulders and head butted the guardsman harshly before throwing him to the ground. As the two men brawled fiercely in the muck of the muddy grounds, both bereft of their weapons, the two women had to deal with the warrior's other friends. Magaera snarled as she sent a flurry of bullets downrange, showering the other lead warriors with lead, to little avail. They were heavily armored and they had a pain tolerance that was impressive.

The lead warrior swung his sword with bloodthirsty mania, the arbitrator being able to dodge backward in time to bust his kneecaps in with a quick burst of bullets. As the warrior was temporarily debilitated by his new injury, his comrade was sidestepping towards the arbitrator before lunging forward with a low guard, succeeding in passing through her defenses when she tried to dodge desperately.

The heretic's demented blade severed flesh and bone as easily as it would shred paper, slicing through the woman's right hand and shearing the limb right off! As the imperial recoiled backwards in agony and rage, Ioriel was already rushing forward to assist her companion. She slashed with her falchion only to watch the Blood Pact warrior shift his body so that he could absorb the blow with his armor, the blade slamming into it and scraping off the tough material. The warrior grinned despite his ghastly metal mask, his counter attack already in motion as he raised his gory blade with bloodthirsty relish.

The kunoichi gasped in fright as she dexterously dodged the overhang slash, the bloodied blade whistling past her ears as it took off a few wisps of her hair. She moved quickly, kicking her legs out to strike at his joints, but the heretic was barely affected, chuckling dryly as she backed away. To her relief, she saw Magaera still kicking, the hard biting arbitrator picking up a heavy dagger in her remaining hand as the other Blood Pact warriors got closer.

Out of her peripheral vision she could see Faolan struggling to escape the chokehold the warrior had on him, his eyes bulging and skin clammy and pale as he snarled and fought viciously against the heretic's grasp. The rising water was both a boon and a curse, with the slick mud causing the two of them to have a harder time getting a firm grasp on each other. Ioriel had to move quickly to assist Faolan, but the heretic in front of her was proving to be more troublesome then the rabble they've killed so easily before.

He was a killer and he knew it, sauntering over to her casually with confidence and ease.

"Heh. Go magirs, kill the other weaklings and corpse-worshippers." he told his comrades when a few joined his side to fight Ioriel. They seemed to glower at his words, but the heretic was adamant and they instead turned their attention to a defiant Magaera, a vicious Faolan, or the two howling Savlars fighting tooth and nail with guns and fists in the treeline.

The warrior chuckled dryly as he got closer to Ioriel while she warily backed away and circled him, the heretic eyeing her like a literal piece of meat to carve from the bone.

"Got a name mutt?"

"Fuck you."

"That's fine." the heretic guffawed, "I'll just carve it out of your mouth."

"I'm not so easy to kill." Ioriel said hotly, a sudden flare of hatred igniting inside of her as the disgusting piece of shit in front of her dared to laugh and...and...

Ioriel took a deep breath, focusing instead on the duel to come instead of the rage inside of her.

"Hehehe...I see..." the Blood Pact cackled, "Come mutt. Give me a show."

Overheard the rain bore down on them mercilessly while the wind howled as the Blood Pact warrior charged forth like a rampaging boar while Ioriel held her ground and prepared to bleed him to death. The field was muddy now, rain and blood turning it into a deadly battlefield where the slightest misstep would result in terrible death. Ioriel prepared to make sure it would not be her that would become food for the worms next on this miserable field.


A.N: There is no excuse. Ludwig's POV was just plain difficult to get out, rewriting it four times. Hope you all enjoy