In caelo quies! Ave Imperator!
Thought for the Day:
"The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Imperium."
-His Majesty's Imperial Guard
Main Square, Lescatie
"Hmm? You again? Wasn't expecting someone this early in the morning." said the quartermaster.
The portly man yawned loudly before sifting through his files. As usual the office was messy with reports and papers stacked higher and the Grenadier idly noticed a few new scorch marks on the quartermaster's table. Likely a result of burns from his pipe. How sloppy. The discipline here was surely lacking if they allowed this sort of behavior.
The Grenadier stood at attention patiently as the man went to work looking through the different jobs needed to be accomplished today. He stood utterly silent, unmoving but ready at a moments notice. In fact, if not for the slight rise of his chest indicating he's breathing, the quartermaster was sure the Grenadier was replaced with a lifeless statue. It was rather unnerving really.
"Well. Here ya go, high priority or so the big man up top says." grunted the quartermaster.
He lit his pipe again while the Grenadier gazed at his new mission and it's objectives. He noted to his distaste the ashes littering the parchment and wiped away as much as he could before reading.
Order Directive #194
Designation: Search and Destroy
Ilian Quadrant, Lescatie
Last night's purge of monster infiltrators and their sympathizers were thorough but not completed. The storm blanketed the city and covered the tracks of possibly dozens of more spies and their thralls. Reports of suspicious activity in the Ilian quadrant have been reported. Investigate and capture if abled. Dispose of them if containment is not possible.
- High possibility of slime infiltrators reported. Equip as necessary.
0900 hrs, 7th of Ixoln's Comet, 839
Search and Destroy. Something the Grenadier was well equipped to do, trained to do, born to do even.
He consulted a map of the city, eyeing the faded parchment and examined the numerous districts and quadrants that made up the city of Lescatie. He found the Ilian Quadrant soon enough, and made sure to memorize the rest of the city's layout as well. You never know when that knowledge would come in hand. Intel is crucial for any mission and he left satisfied with his newfound familiarity with the inner workings of Lescatie.
"Ilian Quadrant. Impoverished and delipidated living quarters." the Grenadier pondered. "Slimes, semiliquid monsters impervious to most weaponry."
He checked his hellgun over. The weapon hummed quietly in his hands. It was immaculately maintained, and its machine spirit was rugged and reliable. He likewise procured some precious incendiary grenades, looking them over before pocketing them in his webbing. He was adequately equipped to deal with the predicted threats.
The Grenadier set out at once, leaving behind an exasperated quartermaster who grumbled about rude soldiers and never ending mountain of paperwork and bad news.
"Oh yeah, my morning was just fine. How was yours?"
He sighed, taking a deep breath from his pipe before exhaling. Idly he sorted the numerous files and reports, taking careful note of reports concerning amalgamation heretics and sightings of strange creatures from the southern territories of the Order. Come to think of it, the northern provinces have been awfully quiet lately as well...
The quartermaster made a note to notify the King of these developments. Lescatie had numerous lucrative dealings with the northern territories of the Order, and they were mutually dependent as a result.
"Perhaps there have been delays with the couriers...but the merchants too...?"
The quartermaster pondered the silence from their trading partners before writing out a missive to the King. Lescatie was dependent on them for the furs and pelts trade, not to mention a variety of other exports for their economy.
Somehow though, the man just had a feeling that Lescatie was going to have more then just petty economic concerns in the future.
The Grenadier marched at a brisk pace, never once slowing down on his single minded objective. Mutants must be purged, to be put down with extreme prejudice, no exceptions. Traitors are to be executed and ruthlessly hunted down, and the mission must be completed no matter the cost.
He walked past the armory once again, briefly pausing to check it only to find it empty. His comrades must have left already and went on their own mission. The Grenadier stopped for a moment, before shrugging and resuming his march. He was adequately equipped for the mission. He knew that. He just...wanted to give it a quick check.
He left the quadrant's barracks with a strange cloud over his mind, leaving him in deep thought. Then a literal cloud appeared overhead, causing him to pause as he gazed up at the gloomy sky. The grey skies shooed away what little sunlight was left. Droplets of rain splashed down onto the damp cobblestone, onto the impoverished roofs of houses.
The rain came down lightly but steadily. A light rain began blanketing the area, leaving the city once again showered in water. It soaked his greatcoat's outer layer, speckling his helmet and blurred his gasmask. He wiped the water off before resuming his march. The weather may be problematic, but he will shoulder on.
He continued along the poorly maintained road, dodging Lescatians going about their day and children playing in the streets. Merchants cursed as they hauled their wares and soldiers saluted him as he past. Priests gazed at him with worry and suspicion while nobles sneered at him, as if he was less then dirt.
He moved without regard to others, shoving aside those who were too slow to move and scaring away others. Whether they be indignant priests or angry nobles, he cared not. His strange equipment and eerie visage marked him as a foreigner and the people of Lescatie shied away from him.
Nobles stared at him as he past, redfaced in anger, but his fearsome appearance and heavily armed status meant that neither the noble nor his guards wanted to chance a fight with the ruthless soldier. They glared at him instead, scoffing at the uppity lowborn mercenary and warning him to be more careful, lest he face repercussions. The Grenadier didn't even deign to reply, already walking away long before they spoke a single word.
The citizenry whispered at him as he past, gazing at him with suspicion and fear. Many more cursed him, foolishly assuming he could not hear their venomous words. They blamed him for the woes that the Order has been facing lately, believing his appearance and those of his ilk were omens of death and misery.
Foreigner. Murderer. Doom. The words were hushed but they were the same. He was an outsider, a glorified mercenary at that and one that was not to be trusted. A remorseless killer and a boogie man to scare children with. The people sneered at him. What use were these savages? They had their noble heroes, warriors of virtue and dignity. There was no need for his kind, who were strangers, who were barbarians, who were as bad as the monsters they fought if not more so.
They who have brought nothing but ruin ever since they first appeared. Disease. Death. Famine. They were a plague, harbingers of misery and ruin. These "imperials" and their rumored worship of the God-Emperor. How ridiculous. There was no such god in existence. They whispered and sneered, cursed and laughed, pointing their fingers at the outsider.
The Grenadier hardly noticed. He had a mission to complete, and civilians will either get out of his way or he will make them. So he ignored their words, their curses, their sneers and poisonous words. He was a guardsman of the Death Korps of Krieg. To live was to serve. No matter the suffering they must endure for Immortal God-Emperor. His divine will be done, no matter the cost. No matter the sacrifice.
He owed these people nothing. Their insults meant nothing to him. Their sneers ignored, their words washed over him, and he marched on without a care in the world. There was only the Korps. There was only the Emperor. There was only the mission to complete, everything else was secondary.
He stopped as he stared at the entrance into one of the poorest districts in Lescatie, scanning the area in suspicion. Here the buildings became less neat and organized, and more rundown and hastily put together.
Ilian Quadrant was truly impoverished, a shanty town housing the dregs of Lescatie. A place that most opted to ignore, as if acknowledging this part of the city would make Lescatie any less noble then what it should be. Here the prim and proper citizenry were replaced with people who were malnourished and desperate. Clothed in rags and as dirty as the district they lived in.
Thieves and cutthroats were common here, and a place of such simmering resentment would be a perfect place for a spy looking for sympathizers and and saboteurs.
But where to start so far? The district was like a maze with how haphazardly some of the dilapidated housings were constructed. It was as if the city planners of this district simply slapped together buildings shoddily and called it a day.
The Grenadier idly watched as a crumbling structure nearby creaked and groaned, as if wounded. The rotting planks holding up it's gaping hole in the side of the wall likely had something to do with that. The sorry state of the home barely qualified as standing, only being upright through sheer force of will and the many, many crude placements of planks acting as support.
Despite the ramshackle appearance, the inhabitant inside of it hardly seemed to notice, too busy fiddling with something in his hands. He was grumbling under his breath, his dirty clothes and scraggy beard a good indicator that he was one such scum that lives in Lescatie's dark underbelly. Around him was an assorted pile of what appeared to be junk and odd trinkets and baubles. A collector of sorts, and one that may have information. A good place to start his investigation.
"Have you encountered any suspicious activities in these parts?" the Grenadier ordered as he marched up to the man, ignorant of things such as personal space.
"Eh? Some un' talkin to meh?" the man said as he turned around before yelping upon seeing his skull faced visage. He dropped the trinket in his hands onto the ground in shock, holding his chest dramatically. "Gah! Yer one of dem funny looking freaks!"
The man held up his hands in surrendered,
"Look mate, whateva' yer heard bout me ain't true! I'm a gud, 'onest an 'ardworking man, swear on me momma's life!"
The Grenadier didn't give a single fuck what this man was attempting to say.
"Have you encountered any suspicious activities in these parts?" the Grenadier repeated, putting extra emphasis on his words.
The vagrant in front of him blinked before rubbing his bearded chin in thought. He certainly knew something based on how his eyes brightened up but instead of answering the Grenadier right away, he hesitated.
"Well good ser, me memory' been splotchy lately! Maybe a lil something could clear it right and propah!" the man said, making an exaggerated thinking sound, not that the Grenadier noticed. The imperial was growing slightly annoyed. Did this man see anything or not?
"So you have seen something?" the Grenadier questioned again. The man seemed vaguely amused, eyes glinting in hope. "Meh memory ain't been too gud lately ser, I dunno if I can remember."
The Grenadier simply stared on, his mind beginning to realize that the vagrant certainly knew something. He wasn't sure what the man was expecting but it was clear he knew more then he let on, but was withholding that information. But why? It seems he will have to loosen this man's lips to find out any intel.
"You will tell me what you saw." the Grenadier ordered, this time with a colder voice.
He grabbed the man by his shoulders and slammed him into the walls, causing the man's eyes to bulge out in shock. The imperial marched leaned forward into his personal space growling and the man gulped as he waved his arms wildly.
"Errr wait wait wait ahhh I-I-I-" he began stuttering in fear as he realized the Grenadier was not going to follow along with his little charades.
He cleared his throat nervously.
"Ye-ahem. You see good sir, trust ole' Henry when he says he ain't seen nothing worthwhile!"
The staredown only continued and the vagrant began sweating as the Grenadier gazed at him with soulless, dark eyes hidden behind his lenses.
They were like an endless void, devouring everything around it until nothing remained. He felt petrified, his skin became clammy and his pulse quickened. It was like he had thunder roaring in his head and a ceaseless ringing kept echoing painfully in his ears. He could scarcely think or hear a thing besides the menace in front of him.
"You will inform me of all the knowledge you contain." the Grenadier said chillingly.
He emphasized his threat by taking his bayonet knife out of it's scabbard. The man grimaced as he saw 8 inches of glittering and extremely sharpened steel. Before the Grenadier could finish his next threat however, the man suddenly threw himself down upon the Grenadier's feet, teeth clammering and knees weak.
"Argh! Apologies my good sir! I heard an ole' acquaintance was up to no good! He'd been making rounds by the walls a lot at odd hours at night."
"..." the Grenadier leaned forward, peering into the man's terrified eyes.
He whimpered and his eyes darted around rapidly looking for an escape. He began sputtering, sweating profusely as he saw the Grenadier examine his bayonet in his hand, turning the blade over al while gazing at the man silently.
"T-The walls near the orphanage! It's run by the ole' nun, th-that's all I know! Swear it on the chief god 'erself!" the man continued on, hoping to satisfy the Grenadier's interrogation.
"..." the Grenadier stayed silent, causing Henry to sweat even more but the imperial merely stepped back.
The Grenadier calmly gauged the level of truth that could be in the man's word, before deducing them to be true.
And if they were not, he'd come back and beat the shit out of him if that was the case. He nodded, sheathing his combat knife and turning around and leaving. The man sighed in relief before wiping his sweaty brow and cursing nosy foreigners.
The Grenadier carried on, intent on completing his new objective with the new information at hand.
His next objective was clear now. He would investigate the walls...by an orphanage...
Truth be told the Grenadier should have asked him to be more specific about the directions. The imperial gazed at the labyrinth that was Ilian Quadrant, filled to capacity haphazardly with crowded, shoddily built homes. He scanned the area patiently, committing to memory the many features and surroundings as to better prepare himself before moving forward. There were many places for him to investigate and he will have to be very careful and thorough in his search.
The Grenadier stopped as he gazed down at the child before him. The Grenadier had turned the corner and stumbled right into her, causing her to fall backwards and drop something from her hands. Angrily, the pink haired girl stood up and glowered at the Grenadier with as much intimidation as she could.
"Watch where you're going you brute!" she sulked at him, much to the Grenadier's apathy.
He silently moved aside to walk by her when annoyingly enough, the pinkette suddenly stepped in front of him to get in his way.
"Hey! Are you not even going to say sorry? Oh sorry for bumping into you so rudely. I should have watched where I was going." the girl whined. She puffed out her cheeks and blew a raspberry at him.
"You made me drop my sweets! That was one of my favorite ones too!"
The Grenadier could hardly care less so he moved on. However the little girl stayed stubbornly in his way and as he moved to shove her aside, he suddenly found himself starting to float in the air.
"A witch?" thought the Grenadier in alarm as he levitated off the ground.
The girl frowned at him, narrowing her eyes as she took in his appearance. His rude attitude, eerie mask, and foreign equipment...
"Hey wait a minute...you're one of those foreigners! Called imperials right?"
"Hey! I asked you a question! The least you can do is answer me! I'm a hero don't you know?"
At that the Grenadier's interest was piqued.
"A sanctioned psyker?"
He tilted his head in thought, something that the girl took note of.
"Mimil! Mimil Miltie! The 12 year old prodigy?!"
The Grenadier opted to stay silent. There was no reason to respond and so he said nothing to the infuriated girl.
"Ugh. I've heard from the others that you imperials are extremely rude but this is really surprising! Hmmph."
She then set him down, causing the Grenadier to fall on his ass as he stopped being levitated in the air.
He grunted before getting up silently like a ghost. He then stood motionlessly and stared down the now nervous Mimil. His skullfaced, eerie gasmask made her freeze up and she felt goosebumps. Upon seeing she has nothing left to say, the Grenadier finally moved on. At this the girl snapped out of the sudden chill she was immobilized by and she stared at the back of the Grenadier incredulously.
"Hey! You can't just bump into me, knock me over, then act as if nothing happened!"
Annoyingly enough the little hero began following after the Imperial, poking at his back and pestering him like a bug. The Grenadier grunted as he shoved her aside with the butt of his hellgun that he unholstered quickly. There were traitors and mutants to purge, he had no time for games.
"What are you even doing anyway? Because if you're looking for something, it's obvious that you don't know where you're going!"
He did not bother to answer that. Instead his eyes scanned the surroundings, checking every nook and cranny and analyzing the people around him with critical lenses. All while the tiny spitfire relentlessly followed after him, her inane rambling a constant white noise for him.
This carried on for quite some time...
Chaos Encampment, Osaros Region
"Ohoho, wot's dis? The lil laddie croaked already? Bit disappointing innit?" mocked a guard. The cultist peered through the cages, seeing only the unmoving figure of the kunoichi and the two shivering werewolves in the cell. Hmmm that's strange, he could have sworn the uppity bitch was fine, or at the very least not going to die anytime soon. And she was so pretty too. Pretty enough to wonder how she'd look after he broke her. Well, there's little fun in violating a corpse.
He was about to move on when something glinted in the dark.
Before his eyes could comprehend what happened, his heart had already been pierced with a bolt. He gave a quiet gasp before letting out a wet gurgle and collapsing into a heap. The kunoichi breathed heavily, despite her attempts at trying to keep quiet. Holding the corpse carefully, Ioriel gently laid the body down before anybody else noticed.
She was shaking horribly from the ordeal, vaguely hyperventilating and trying to still her rapidly beating heart. Unfortunately the grisly deed was not unnoticed, especially by the other prisoners and especially her cellmates.
"What. Are. You. Doing?" whispered Olyrei, the terrified werewolf looking between the kunoichi and the corpse currently in her arms. Already the blood was pooling around them alarmingly quickly. The other prisoners in the cells began murmuring, causing the guards on shift to gaze at them suspiciously. A few of them banged on the cells to quiet down but a few more were now scanning the prison more carefully, their eyes glinting with the chance of a fight happening.
"Escaping. I have a plan..." answered Ioriel, making her voice as low as possible. Already there was too much attention, and one guard began walking over, the same one that hurt Nyssa. He glared in their direction, trying to determine what happened before scoffing.
"Shit. Shit shit shit shit-" thought Ioriel as she struggled to find a pair of keys on the corpse, anything to get out! Unfortunately all he had was his crude shortsword, more akin to a hunk of iron hammered into shape and roughly sharpened.
"OI! Wotcha doin mate? Git up maggot!" questioned the guard as Ioriel lifted the body up and pressed their heads close. "I swear by the bloodfather, if yer tastin the cargo before the cap'in, why the bloody bastard's gonna ave' yer hide!"
"...alright...this is fine...breathe in...breathe out..." thought Ioriel as she waited for the man to get closer. Just as he noticed the blood pooled around his comrade, the kunoichi flung the corpse off her at him suddenly.
The guard yelped in surprise as he fell over from the weight of his friend and the kunoichi used her ninjutsu as fast she could. Her body became shrouded again and she slipped through the bars before she was immediately dispelled. Coughing she doubled down in pain as she felt her body protest her latest move. It felt like her insides were twisting up and she was wracked with a ragged, bloody coughing fit.
She was far too weak to be throwing around anymore ninjutsus. She's rather sure she's nearing her death if she continued on. She was far too weak to use any further ninjutsu arts, and if she forced them they'd only be lacking, even lethal to her if she carries on. She got up shakily and leaned against her cell for support while the cultist bared his teeth at her.
"YOU MISERABLE PIECE OF SHITE!" snarled the guard as he tossed the corpse aside. At this point the commotion was getting more attention as the other cultists began looking around confused at the growing incident. The guards were alerted and a few of them started barging over, shouting and arguing with one another. The prisoners were terrified, unsure of whether to cheer on the mamono or hope this blows over.
The spearman spat on the ground and with an angry snarl, he held his cruel spear closely and charged at her.
The blade in her hands was woefully unfit for her, made for a brute rather then a graceful shinobi. But it would have to do. As the cultist thrusted his weapon forward, the kunoichi tracked the trajectory of his blade, and instead of deflecting or dodging the weapon, she instead darted forward. With years of training and experience, she evaded the spear's thrust, and then stomped on the shaft as it past! This move staggered the guard and he was thrown off balance, falling forward and helpless underneath her.
He seemed confused, as if unsure of what just transpired. He did not have to ponder for much long as a heavy blade slammed into his back and burst through his chest. He let out a wet gurgle, choking on his own blood as laid bleeding out on the ground. In a shower of blood Ioriel extracted the blade from her second kill, grimacing intensely. She felt horrible, shaking harshly and looking at her bloody hands.
Before she lost herself however she steeled her mind, breathing deeply and trying to ignore the cultist's weak gurgles as he bled to death. With a final death rattle he was still and the kunoichi felt like collapsing. Instead she hardened her resolve and struggled to her feet.
"OI! OI OI OI! There's a prisoner loose!" snarled the voices of the rest of his friends.
Ioriel sucked air through her teeth as she gazed at their angry, vengeful forms rushing towards her. Thankfully it seemed she chose the opportune time to escape, as most of the guards were in the middle of rotating out. As such she only had to fight a dozen at a time rather then whole scores of cultists.
Gauging the distance between them, the kunoichi chucked the heavy sword in her hand towards one of the figures. The cultist she aimed at dodged to the side, but the one behind him barely had time to react before he was skewered through by a crude piece of junk. His comrades ran past him with nary a glance, so intent on gutting the defiant mamono.
Ioriel picked the spear from the last cultist's cold hands and gave it a quick twirl. Crudely made, but more balanced then the "sword" she had earlier. She deflected a sloppy mace blow, slamming the shaft across the snarling cultist's face and knocking him back into his comrade. With a quick few thrusts she poked a half dozen holes into another, leaving him to collapse and bleed out.
It was rather obvious that as far as warrior skill went, the kunoichi certainly had more finesse and skill with her borrowed spear weapon. One on one she could keep her distance and she found that even a near miss was useful for maiming the cultists with how much razorwire was wrapped around it. The cultists were strong and fit but they were also slow and brutally straightforward. As a result, they became easily predictable as a result.
However she was still outnumbered and with how exhausted she was, Ioriel was unable to capitalize on her advantages. Slowly the cultists began to surround her and though she deflected as many attacks as she desperately as she could, she wasn't going to hold up forever. She kept them at bay with her longer reach but eventually, her posture slipped further and further with each attack until one final blow knocked her backwards.
With a gasp she fell down onto the ground, feeling the air being knocked out of her lungs. She shakily got up onto her feet but leaned heavily on the bars, looking on helplessly as a cultist rushed at her.
"Time to die mutt!" cackled the cultist as he raised his blade high for the finishing blow. Ioriel willed her tortured body to move, but could only whimper as her limbs practically collapsed on her. It took all she had to lean on the bars and not fall over, and as the blade arced towards her, the kunoichi closed her eyes for the inevitable. Instead however she felt herself get pushed and the falchion slammed down onto the dirty floor with a loud CLANG.
"What are you doing kunoichi?" screamed Olyrei in fear. The werewolf was up against the bars of her cell, having managed to push Ioriel out of harm's way and shoving the surprised cultist back before he could recover. The werewolf squeaked in fear and quickly backed away. She hid as best as she could with her packmate in their cell, giving her a scared but encouraging look.
"Get up! Please free us!"
Despite how heavy her limbs were, Ioriel clumsily stood up, forcing herself to stand upright again and leaning on the cell to hold herself steady. However the reminder that she was fighting not only for her own survival, but the survival of all these helpless people as well fueled her with determination.
"Feh. We're gonna flay yer hide and use em' as our standard!" one of them said eagerly, voice tinged with sadism. The odds of around a dozen and more guards vs just herself were not favorable and the kunoichi steeled herself as she prepared to survive the onslaught, planning to give it her all.
However her defiance was not alone, and a guard yelped in surprise as the prisoners in the nearby cell grabbed him through the bars. With days of repressed anger and fear, the prisoners tore into the man savagely. They slammed him hard against the bars and when he was down, began gouging out eyes and beating at him with their fists.
This act of defiance was followed by the rest of the prison as they became imbued with hope. Their desperation far outweighing their fear as they fought back against their oppressors.
Even as the cultists got their vengeance by viciously stabbing to death the doomed prisoners, the kunoichi took advantage of their distraction. She gripped the spear in her hand tightly and brought it down hard onto the locks of the nearby cells, shattering them in one blow. She was fortunate then that the lock was in shoddy condition. While her weapon chipped and cracked with each hit, it stayed remarkably intact.
Both Nyssa and Olyrei were freed, the former teary eyed but determined while the latter was guarded yet hopeful. The two werewolves wasted no time making their escape, turning to the other cells and attempting to free them next.
"Give them hell sister. For our fallen." whispered Olyrei as they passed, picking up weapons or even rocks to smash the locks.
The kunoichi nodded, moving to defend them as from the guards. She deflected a clumsy strike from a cultist, the man snarling and frothing at the mouth. The werewolves retreated away quickly from the cultist to free the others, while the kunoichi kept the cultists back. She frowned as the demented man's next strike snapped her shoddy spear in two, the wooden shaft splintered and useless. She ducked low to avoid his overhang swing and dropped the broken half before gripping the remainder like a dagger.
"Quickly my brothers! We must put down this uprising down before the cap'in hears bout it!" snarled the cultist as he tried to stop the mamono, but by then it was too late.
As the prison erupted into chaotic fighting, the cultists found to their shock the tables flipped as they began being picked apart piece meal by piece. They were far too outnumbers and with how closely the cells were together, droves of prisoners were freed one after another until the cultists began facing dozens of angry prisoners at a time.
The kunoichi quickly slayed the one fighting her, dodging his wild blows until she slipped through his defense and punctured his heart with the spear head. While she lamented the action of taking a life, she found that it was hard to feel sympathy for the amalgation heretics. As the corpse sagged in her arms and she knocked him aside, all she could think about was the lives these men had taken. They were horrid people, more akin to savage beasts than man.
Her musing was interrupted as a corpse smashed against a nearby cell, rattling the bars.
The kunoichi turned to see a cultist surrounded by the bodies of slain prisoners. He finished giving one struggling man a new red smile around his neck before gazing at her scornfully.
His polished blades in each hand and odd bits of crimson metal adorning his leather harness gave him a more seasoned look. His chest was bare and littered with scars, and yet she had a feeling his skin was tough enough to stop blades.
His eerie helmet was scuffed but finely crafted and lovingly maintained, and was adorned with what looked like two large bladed horns sticky with blood. On his back were numerous more swords strapped to his person, along with javelins and knives. He was armed to the teeth and the meanest bastard she's ever seen.
He glared at her from underneath his helmet and pointed a blade at her scornfully.
"This changes nothing meat. You will all die, whether it be by my hands or by the rest of my companions. Do you think you are the first revolt we had to deal with?" said the lead cultist with chilling certainty. The kunoichi narrowed her eyes, never once looking away as she knelt down and picked up a blade from the bodies littering the floor. A poorly balanced falchion, with odd spikes adorning it. A subpar weapon but one that will suit the job.
"Heh. At least you ain't a coward mutt. You've certainly showed your fangs. Let's see how well you dance then with the chosen." the cultist taunted, scrapping his two blades together and adapting a foreign combat stance.
The kunoichi likewise got into her own stance, neither of them moving. Then, in but a moment, he was upon her before she could blink, swords gliding with ease and experience. The kunoichi desperately deflected, grunting as her arms wavered from his blows. Unlike the rest of his comrades, this one was a skilled fighter.
Each strike was like that of a roaring tide, unrelenting in it's power and flawless in it's execution. If they weren't fighting for their lives, the kunoichi would almost say she was impressed as she counterattacked. He was unrelenting, a wildly different experience fighting such a warrior.
Unlike Straum's relentless and experienced swordsplay or the stormtrooper's sheer bullheaded strength, this cultist was like a viper. Dodging, blocking, and otherwise absorbing every strike and counter attacking with rapid jabs with his twin blades.
She watched in astonishment as he raised his gauntleted hand and swung, not only shattering the falchion in her hands but also breaking her posture and leaving her wide open for his armored fist. She was knocked backwards onto her knees for the second time that day, sputtering for air. With gasping breaths, she dodged his swings that opened up horrific wounds on her person. She hissed in pain as he barely nicked her cheek while with his other sword, sliced opened her knee.
"Shit! This is not good!"
She quickly sent a hard jab at his throat and winced. It was like hitting hard stone, and with a harsh kick he retaliated and sent her flying backwards. As she got her breath under control, the cultist growled as a few escaped prisoners tried to kill him with stolen weapons. Seeing this, and being weaponless, she sighed as she gazed apologetically at the prisoners. She turned around and fled quickly, melting into the shadows unnoticed in the chaos that was the prison riot.
"I'm sorry. May the gods watch over you. I am in no condition to fight..." she thought as she left them to their fate.
Already the ground was drying quickly with blood of the slain and she grimaced as she saw their agonized faces. She whispered a prayer for the departed and followed the bloodied footsteps. A few desperate fights were still happening around her but they were rapidly ending in the favor of the prisoners. And even if they weren't, the cultists were savaged enough that they would barely be able to chase after her.
She would be of no help to the desperate survivors though, certainly not injured and unarmed as she was. So she instead followed after the dozen or so footprints of the other prisoners who filed down a hallway, rather then chance the entrance. Not that they could get through the big heavy iron doors anyhow. And none wanted to stick around when the rest of the guards came back to find their companions slaughtered.
Hobbling along, Ioriel made her escape deeper into the repurposed dungeons, praying for safety and that everyone was okay.
She would learn quickly that hope is but the first step on the road to disappointment.
Meanwhile the cultist carved up his attackers as easily as he would carve up cattle.
"Out of my way meat!" the cultist snarled, easily parrying and disarming the unfortunate man by lopping off his hands.
The prisoner opened his mouth to scream only for the cultist's falchion to slam into his mouth. With expertise, he extracted the blade in a shower of blood and in that same motion, sliced the top half of another prisoner's head in one stroke. Another tried to keep her distance with a spear, jabbing at the cultist with wild desperation. He easily dodged the clumsy thrusts and flung a javelin at her, skewering the woman through and sending her into a broken heap.
The next prisoner tried to raise the blade in his hand to block, but the cultist's savage strike shattered his poise and he fell down onto his knees with his arms broken. The blade in his hand shattered and useless and he gasped in horror. With another graceful swing, the prisoner's head rolled down to join the rest of the bodies while the cultist breathed heavily.
Mock clapping echoed in the poorly ventilated dungeons.
"I'm surprised you still fight so well brother."
With a snarl the cultist turned to look at who dared to challenge him. A towering man stood in front of him, with a buzzcut head and a face of cold stone. He wore only fatigues on his legs and a harness on his torso, leaving his powerfully built torso bare to see, marred with countless tattoos and scars both ritualistic and those from the fires of war. He had the looks of a seasoned Brontian Longknife.
"Underneath all that filth, I can see that you were once like me."
He held his pendant of the Aquila up, the glimmering gold shining even in the dark. The cultist snarled hatefully, spitting on the ground upon seeing the symbol. The brontian narrowed his eyes in thought.
"Was it so easy to betray Mother Bront? Our beloved Imperium? The Immortal God-Emperor?" the brontian asked carefully.
"For eleven miserable years did I fight for the Emperor! For eleven long miserable years, I watched as my clan died all around me. We were nothing to him. He was nothing! Can't you see brother?"
"All I see is a man broken from the weight of the duty we had. The Emperor only asks that we stood brother. And yet, you have fallen."
"Tch. A lapdog for the corpse god til the end. Why am I not surprised?"
"Funny. I could say the same about you. You are but a slave to darkess. A lord of slaughter as likely to praise you as to condemn you to a cruel death."
The two stared at each other carefully, noting each other's stances.
He gave an indescribable stare at the traitor, whom glared back with venom. The sounds of battle was beginning to die down, and in their little corner of the prisoners they were unnoticed. Alone and without interruption.
"We were noble warriors. Defenders against the evil that festers in our beloved Imperium. And yet here you are. Spitting in the faces of each and every single one of your ancestors. They must be so ashamed."
The traitor brontian snarled, frothing as he spoke.
"What do you know of my clan? What do you know of shame? What do you know of evil? What do you know of my HONOR?"
Where once he was a level headed warrior, now he stood enraged.
"Where was the honor in defending the oh so important hive lords? Who sneered at us, looked down on us, and used us as cannon fodder! Where was the honor in killing newborn babes barely old enough to even crawl? The honor in slaughtering hundreds of people simply because they were getting too uppity?"
He went on a tirade, voice strained with rage.
"There was no honor in that! None of that! You accuse me of consorting with evil, but the truth is that I already was consorting with evil. The Imperium is a festering wound, full of corruption and pettiness. It is a bloated corpse that has refused to die, just like it's so called god. I had no purpose. No direction! Not once did the CORPSE ON THE THRONE EVER GUIDED ME!"
His knuckles became pale and his grip was so strong that the handle began to creak.
"I prayed everyday for help. For guidance in this cruel galaxy. And yet all I received was SILENCE! When the nobles threw down the banners of the Imperium, we were there to put an end to a rebellion before it was even born! When the commissariat and the ecclesiarchy both declared our regiment, my clan, condemned alongside the traitors, we accepted our fate."
"We were deployed to frigid wastelands fighting the encroaching tyranids. Many of my kin died with the emperor's name on their lips. They served valiantly in the end without question and yet nobody remembered them! We were forgotten! CAST AWAY! We were valiant defenders! If not for us that planet would have fallen! AND YET NO ONE SAW FIT TO EVEN REMEMBER THE NAMES OF THE MARTYRED!"
He began talking feverishly, his words barely legible despite the volume.
"Instead we were sent to different battlefields, one after another. We were denied rest! Denied the ability to replenish our losses! I watched as one by one, my kinsmen fell in battle or lost themselves in the endless, ceaseless wars until all that was left of my family were broken husks!"
He gave an angry howl, stepping forward until the two of them were face to face, and yet the loyalist stood unbowed. He stood calmly and stared at the traitor in the face as he finished his tirade.
"When chaos invaded the last backwater planet we were on, there was practically no one left. Just crippled men with broken minds and souls. I watched as the rest of the my clan withered away. We fought them, and we lost! And when we were captured, we were given a very simple choice. Join them, and become more then what we were now."
The loyalist could only give him a sad look, one filled with disappointment.
"And yet have you truly changed? Have you not simply exchanged your chains for another master?"
It was a calm accusation. One that the cultist glowered at.
"That may be so. But the Lord of Slaughter at least heeds my calls. Everyday I offer him skulls and he in turn answers my cries, my prayers, my worship. I am more free now then I ever was under the carrion lord's reign. More powerful then I ever was. The champion of my battles. I am the master of my fate. And I shall decide my destiny. Even if I am to die on some nameless battlefield, it would be of my own will!"
The loyalist looked at him with only faint amusement. He sighed and said,
"How sad you are then brother. It's obvious to me now, you let the galaxy break you. You are not alone in that. We have all suffered. For we are all the brave sons of the God-Emperor. We martyr ourselves willingly and without acknowledgement, because in our hearts we know we did our duty. My clan fulfilled their ultimate oaths with pride! We did it with stoic resolve. Because we knew, in the end that while our bodies may rot, our bones wither, and our names forgotten forever to time..."
"We. Were. Loyal. We were dutiful. We were valiant! We held the line, and gave it our all. Sometimes that's all we can do...and it's all the God-Emperor asks of us. To stand and die for Him and His people. We may die tomorrow. Hell we may die just moments from now. But we die knowing we gave it our all, and we die knowing we fulfilled our sacred roles in His service. But you...? Where once we would have been stalwart brothers in arms, now we stand as enemies."
The two of them stared at each other. Slowly the cultist breathed heavily before looking at his bloodied hands.
"You speak of such things like you're proud to be used. You speak of those deeds like you were proud to die for an uncaring lord..."
"I will not kill an unarmed fool. A slave you may be to the corpse god, but you are a warrior."
With a thud, the two blades from his back were thrown at the guardsman's feet, whom could only look at with vague interest.
"Pick up your blades, my slave brother from Bront. Today we will face each other as warriors. A duel between forsaken brothers. I will give you an end that was denied to my kinsmen."
The loyalist looked at the blades carefully. He eyed the worn leather, the polished steel, and the engravings on the hilt...
"Very well...what is your name then? Bastard child of Bront."
The words stung and the cultist snarled.
"That doesn't matter anymore. I am the betrayed. The forgotten. I was forsaken. On my honor today, you will die by my blade brother. That is all that matters."
"Very well. Prepare yourself. I shall free your soul from it's torment. For what it's worth, you had served...you deserve that much brother."
Together the two of them faced each other with cold and calm resolve. A soldier vs a warrior. A loyalist vs a traitor. Both chewed up in the fires of war and spat back out. They were brothers in arms. They could have been brothers rather. But not today.
"Glòir don Impire!"
"Airson an gaisgich trèigte!"
Ilian Qudrant, Lescatie
"Honestly do you even know your way around here?" Mimil said incredulously, her words toned with a hint of mischief and mirth.
The Grenadier paused before looking at her.
"I have sufficient information."
If one doesn't know the guardsmen of Krieg, you could almost think he was offended. No he was merely correcting her statement. Kriegers do not sulk. They are peerless soldiers, disciplined to a fault. He knows perfectly where he is going.
At least he should anyhow, but it seems that the map he had memorized regarding Lescatie's districts and quadrants was outdated or sorely lacking, because there was no rhyme, reason, or structure to the Ilian Quadrant. Not to mention he has yet to even find a structure decently built. So the orphanage didn't seem to be anywhere in sight currently.
"Really? Do you really? Because we past by that same house about twice now. Look."
Now that the Grenadier took note of that, the house was rather familiar. It had that nauseatingly bright yellow door speckled with green painting, looking like someone vomited on it. He must have took another wrong turn in the damnable maze that was this quadrant.
Silently he scanned his surroundings one last time, taking note of the routes he already took before making a left. Still his shadow did not leave, instead following after him with faint amusement.
"You know...I frequent this quadrant a loooooooot~!" she said in a singy song voice. "If you just told me why you were here, I could probably help a meathead like you."
Mimil huffed at him, crossing her arms like- Well like a petulant child.
The Grenadier stood still for a moment, the gears in his mind turning briefly before turning to her and explaining his mission. He likewise informed her of his lead that he got from the collector, which caused the girl to wrinkle her nose in faint shock and disappointment.
"Old Henry didn't deserve that treatment! You should apologize to him!"
The Grenadier was almost incredulous at her. Almost. Instead he merely stared at her and coolly said,
"That is of no concern to the mission."
"Bleh. It's bad enough that he lives in a dump like this, you didn't have to threaten the poor man like that! Come on, let's go get you to apologize." Mimil chided.
She grabbed at the Grenadier's hand and then fruitlessly trying to drag him along back to the collector. She whined as she grinded her shoes against the cobblestone, tugging with all her might, but the imperial would not budge.
The Grenadier merely raised his arm, causing her to yelp as she was suddenly in the air. He then shook it and she dropped down painfully on her butt, whining and glowering at him. Content he moved on again, planning to go back to investigating the nooks and crannies of the quadrant when he was suddenly levitating again.
"This warp damned psyker..." thought Ludwig with faint annoyance before he brought his emotions back into check.
The Grenadier watched dully as the hero gave him a dirty look, bringing him close and then flicking her finger against his mask. He felt faint annoyance before he squashed those emotions.
"That was very rude you jerk!" Mimil huffed, giving him an angry pout.
The Grenadier briefly considered ignoring her before disregarding that idea. It was quite obvious that this pysker was not going to just let him go, as inane as her request was. And he was quite confident that harming her would bring dire consequences...
This was quite annoying, he should be concerned with finishing the mission, not entertaining the whims of a child. A hero she may be, but she was not a soldier. Never the less, once the Grenadier was set down, he decided to just get it over with.
They made for a disconcerting sight. A foreign soldier garbed in eerie and intimidating equipment and heavily armed getting dragged along by a humming child. Granted the child was Mimil and could likely defend herself rather well with magic, but it was still a rather interesting sight. She held his hand tightly and brokered no room for argument as she forced him to backtrack. All to apologize? Ridiculous.
"Heeeeeeenry! Oh Henry! You still there old man?" the pinkette cried out as they came upon a rather familiar home. And as usual the vagrant inside of the home was holding something in his hands.
"Eh? Do me ears deceive me?" the collector said as he turned around, hiding whatever it was in his hands behind his back. Then he panicked,
"Oh by the Chief fucking God 'erself! You again?"
"Hey! Language! And yeah, I brought...um..."
Mimil trailed off embarrassed as she turned to look at the Grenadier.
"Uhhhhh...what was your name?"
"Oh come on! Just your name!"
Instead of replying the Grenadier simply walked up to the collector, who tried to scoot away in fear. He yelped in surprise as the Grenadier grabbed him harshly by the shoulders and stood him up. With shaky legs, the man waited for a beating. One that didn't come.
"I require additional information." the Grenadier started, however he was interrupted again by the hero.
"Wait what? No that's not why we're here! You're trying to apologize you brute! Not scare him to death! And let go of him you're going to dislocate a shoulder or something!"
The Grenadier almost wanted to curl his fists in annoyance and shout. But he was of the Korps. Emotions were beyond him. However he did release a rare small sigh. Especially as the little spitfire began lecturing him on useless things like social etiquette.
Ridiculous. He needs to get back to the mission.
He had to admit though, it gave him a small vindicated joy to ignore the hero as he more or less interrogated the collector about everything he knows. And much more thoroughly this time. Now if he could just get rid of this annoying little pest by his side, who was now angrily poking at his side. He has endured countless years of battlefield wounds from lasbolts, stray shrapnel, torture, and even a particularly annoying encounter with warp lightning. The last one was the worst really. He's unlucky to be alive.
This in comparison was nothing.
It was however persistent.
"Stop ignoring me!"
Incredibly persistent. The collector meanwhile did not know if he should be wetting himself from fear or doubling over in amusement as he watched he exchange. Thankfully for all of them, the painfully awkward situation melted away as shouts of "Monster!" and "Slime! Slime!" began echoing outside as citizens ran and screamed.
Without a moment to waste the Grenadier immediately turned and bolted, more eager then usual in fact, and left behind a flabbergasted hero and vagrant in the dust.
"By the Chief God that imperial is just so annoying! Well might as well rescue him from the slime, ugh!" Mimil whined as she ran out after him.
Henry the Collector sighed as he collapsed shakily onto his scratchy, flea ridden mattress. He dropped what he was holding and wiped his sweaty brow with shaky hands.
"Somehow I don't think that foreigner gonna need much help..." the vagrant mused, gulping fearfully.
He went back to fiddling with his trinkets, picking them up in his hands from where he dropped them.
Among them was a shiny pendant, covered with mud. In the other was a cross, but one that had some...altercations to it.
It was Druella's cross...a symbol of her corruption...
The man sighed.
"I'm sorry. This is too risky..."
He gave a wary glance around before tossing the pendant into a nearby sewer drainage. The rain water flowing through swiftly dragged it along and the cross disappeared into the sewers, out of sight, out of mind.
He then held the other trinket. He wiped away the mud staining it before sighing in thought. The double headed eagle shined at him, despite the dark clouds overhead.
"An Aquila huh...?"
He held it close to his chest.
"The Emperor protects..."
A.N: I'll be honest Guest I haven't had the fortune to read any Death Korps centric books. All's I got are wikis and other fanfic portrayals of kriegers, and of course my own personal depiction of them. I'll take that into account however.
Perhaps I am making our dour boys in gasmask just a tad bit too expressive huh?