While Guild Girl was finalizing the minor details of the quest the strange trio of adventurers offered me and my companions, I took the opportunity to wait outside the Adventurer's Guild for Jurgen to arrive. I wanted to give my aide a brief warning about what we were about to do so he wouldn't be surprised that we were working with xenos and possible xenos sympathizers.
While I might have encouraged the possibility of potential friendly fire 'accidents' in the past when circumstances allowed them to go unnoticed, we could not afford to be careless without the might of the Imperial Guard backing us up. The reputation I had garnered during our brief time on this planet could only go so far as to protect the both of us, and I did not want to risk everything I worked so hard for falling to pieces because I couldn't be arsed to give my aide a quick reminder. Not that I believed he needed one, but it never hurt to be too careful when your continued survival depended on it.
I didn't have to wait long for him. Hardly a minute had passed before I noticed a sizable gap open up in the stream of people milling about in the street and the familiar sight of my malodorous aide came into view in the path that had naturally formed around him. I must say, as disconcerting as it was that the locals learned to avoid my aide so brazenly, it did make our trips within Frontier Town go by that much quicker.
"Something wrong, Cain?" Jurgen asked me as he saw me waiting for him.
"Not exactly." I told him, trying my best to think of a way to tell my loyal aide that we would have to work with a xenos rather than shoot them for the first time since we arrived on this planet.
There had been a few rare occasions that we had to work with the likes of the Tau and even the Eldar before, but those tentative alliances had always been spurred on by a far greater threat. This time, our cooperation would not determine whether or not we would live to see another day or be devoured by the latest tendril of the Tyranid hive fleets that encroached upon Imperial space.
At least, that was what I sincerely hoped, although I was quite aware of how the most simple of tasks had a tendency to go ploin-shaped whenever I was involved.
"We've been hired to clear out a nest of goblins by a group of adventurers and investigate the surrounding area to see if there is anything else that requires our attention." I told him, carefully easing into the part I dreaded telling him.
"Will we need to bring the Trukk?" My aide asked.
"Yes. From what our employers told me, our destination is quite a distance away." I nodded towards him.
We hadn't been able to use the oddly reliable (for a piece of Orkish equipment) vehicle as much as Jurgen would have liked on account of most quests only being a few kloms away and Goblin Slayer's personal aversion to the "deathtrap" as he liked to refer to it when he thought Jurgen and I weren't listening. While I was certain my aide simply wanted to bring the vehicle along to slay our targets that much faster, I couldn't help but to notice the way he perked up slightly at the prospect of being behind the driver's wheel again. His enthusiasm was good and would make it all the better to break the last bit of news regarding our quest to him.
"There's something you should know about our employers before you meet them, Jurgen." I told him.
My intrepid aide looked at me quizzically for a moment before his curious expression was replaced by a slight scowl.
"Xenos?" He inquired with venomous contempt.
"Yes, I'm afraid so." I reluctantly informed him. "It seems that the Eldar and another group of humans acting independently from the kingdom we are in have found their goblin problem to be more than they can handle."
"Bloody knife ears." My aide grumbled to himself, among other things that I couldn't quite make out, none of which I could assume were pleasant by any means.
"I'm just as happy about this as you are, Jurgen, though I'm afraid we have no choice but to cooperate with the xenos and her companions for the time being. With that said, the Eldar did offer to enlist her people's help in contacting the Imperium once we succeed." I said.
"The Eldar wants to help us get back to the Imperium?" My aide asked me, sounding just as skeptical as I felt when I first heard her offer.
"Yes, yes she does." I said, grinning at her prior naivety. "I can't think of a better reward, can you?"
"No, sir. No I can't." My aide said as he adopted a smile similar to mine. "Not unless we're the ones who get to execute her when we finally leave this place."
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Jurgen. We still need to cooperate with the xenos long enough for them to help us with their own demise." I said in an attempt to curb my aide's enthusiasm now that we were on the same track of thought.
"So, until such a time arrives, I will need you to at least show a bare minimum of civility to the Eldar and her companions that is no different to that we have shown to the other xenos and xenos lovers we've seen so far." I continued. "This won't be a problem, will it?"
"So long as the xenos and her dupes don't make it a problem." My aide dutifully answered.
"Then we're in agreement." I told him. "Now, go ahead and get the Trukk ready for us. It shouldn't be much longer until we are ready to leave."
"So, what's this armored carriage Goblin Slayer keeps on telling us about, Commissar?" The annoying Eldar asked me as we departed from the Adventurer's Guild.
In the time it had taken for me and my aide to have our little discussion regarding our newest companions, Goblin Slayer had already started telling her secrets about Jurgen and I's arsenal that I would have personally preferred him to keep quiet about. Not only that, but apparently the Guild also has a policy preventing anyone from walking into an ongoing discussion regarding a so called 'urgent quest' provided by a kingdom, leaving me with little company in the hour long meeting until Priestess walked in with clothes that weren't drenched in whatever Goblin Slayer had spilled on them earlier. I gave the girl a brief breakdown of everything that had transpired in her absence and thankfully she wanted to accompany us on our quest as well. For a moment, I thought she would have backed down after hearing how our company would be composed solely of Silver Ranked adventurers aside from ourselves and Jugen, but if anything this seemed to energize the young clergywoman.
I found myself surprisingly touched by her determination and willingness to accompany us on what was sure to be a dangerous quest. The girl still hadn't found it in herself to pick up a weapon of her own, claiming it went against the teaching of whatever religion she practiced, but that hadn't stopped her from proving to be a valuable asset on our adventures together. While a living photon flash grenade, amateur medicae, and glorified wall might not have been the greatest asset to have at my disposal, Priestess' presence had made more than one quest go by smoother than it would have otherwise. An enemy that can't see or reach you is quite easy to kill, after all, to say nothing of being able to seal any minor wound instantaneously.
It was as I was finding myself rather impressed with how the girl had come from being that scared, uncertain novice that wet herself on her first quest to someone that I found rapidly approaching Jugen in terms of reliability that Goblin Slayer and the other three adventurers accompanying us on our journey finally rejoined us. With all of their affairs settled, there was nothing left to stop us from meeting up with Jurgen, who was likely getting ready to charge into the Adventurer's Guild with his melta at the ready if we took much longer.
Now the only issue I had to deal with before we met up with my aide was the Eldar's annoying curiosity and incessant desire to learn more about us.
"It's not a carriage, it's a Trukk, and I'm sure Goblin Slayer can tell you everything you need to know about it." I told the xenos woman, hoping that would be the end of it.
It was not. "I tried to get the armored weirdo to tell me a little bit about it after mentioning you had your own means of transportation, but every time I try to get him to talk about it he… freezes up." She said, offering a look of mild concern at Goblin Slayer who stiffened at the very mention of what was slowly turning into the second greatest bane of his existence next to the goblin infestation scourging the planet.
"Well, if he won't tell you anything about it, then far be it from me to say anything either." I said, laughing as the Eldar pouted, a far cry from the haughty attitude I expected from her species.
"Of course, I think it is best for you to experience riding in the Trukk yourself since there is nothing quite like it, especially with Jurgen driving…" I trailed off, letting out a nervous laugh knowing exactly what my aide was capable of behind the wheel.
"W-what's that supposed to mean?" The Eldar asked, finally starting to realize that Goblin Slayer wasn't being obtuse solely because of his obliviousness to other people's feelings.
"He probably means that his aide drives like a drunken owlbear. Does that sound about right, Cain?" The squat assumed with alarming accuracy.
"While I don't quite know what an owlbear is yet…" I said, hoping I would never have the chance to find out after skimming through a few pages of a so-called 'monster manual' I purchased from Guild Girl that was filled with nightmarish xenos and chaos-born abominations the likes of which I had never seen before, "...'drunk' is one of the many terms a lot people have used to describe my aide's driving."
"Oh? It sounds like you don't quite agree with 'a lot of people'." The squat surmised. "What would you say about this Gunner of yours driving?"
I gave his question a moment of thought before answering. "He is the best driver I have ever met, but Emperor help whatever is in between him and wherever he wants to go because anything that can't stop him…" Images of flattened shrubberies, partially crushed vehicles that hadn't moved out of the way in time, and hundreds of thousands of thrones worth of property damage flashed in my mind as I spoke,"...won't."
"Oh, gobblesnarks. You mean he's one of those drivers!?" The squat exclaimed in alarm.
"Yes, but since we will be riding with him, we have nothing to worry about." I assured him.
Well, so long as we were all strapped into our crash harnesses properly, as Goblin Slayer had learned the hard way.
"Might I ask what you are all talking about?" The big scaled abhuman asked innocently, ignorant of what we were discussing.
"You'll find out soon enough." I chuckled.
Before the Eldar could start complaining once again, we had finally managed to reach the spot Jurgen was parked at. Out of the three new adventurers we would be working with, only the squat did not look shocked at our mode of transportation. Apparently the squats of this planet, while by no means as advanced as what few of their kind hadn't been devoured by Hive Fleet Behemoth, were familiar with motorized transportation in some capacity. The same could not be said of the abhuman and xenos who wore a mask of intrigue and confusion respectively.
"What the hell is that?" The Eldar asked me as she physically recoiled away from the Trukk.
"That would be our ride." I said, holding back a smile as I noticed the look of disgust her face contorted into.
"No, not the carriage, the smell!" She said, gagging as she made the unwise decision to breathe through her nose while we were downwind of my aide's particular bouquet of offensive odors.
"Oh, that. That belongs to my aide, Jurgen." I pointed out, to which my aide popped an arm out of the driver's side window and lazily waved in our general direction.
"Well, this is going to be an interesting ride." The squat mumbled as he climbed in the open back doors of our transport.
"It always is." Priestess sighed in reluctance as she prepared to follow him.
"Why don't you sit up front with Jurgen this time?" I suggested. "I'm sure he'd appreciate your company."
"Uhm… sure?" The girl hesitantly agreed while she did as I asked, blissfully unaware as to why I wanted her beside my aide.
I did not trust the xenos and her companions at all, owing to my previous experiences with their kind that taught me the best place to keep them is within range of my chainsword or the sights of my laspistol. While I ordinarily would have leaped at the opportunity to take a seat beside my aide or take up position on the pintle mounted bolter, that would have left Goblin Slayer or Priestess as the only line of defense I had between me and the allies I couldn't fully trust. Letting Priestess act as my only other defender was not a valid option as she still wasn't capable of fighting a single goblin on her own, whether the reason was mental or physical, so that was why I wanted her beside my aide where it was safer for all of us.
I could have let Goblin Slayer act as the only person watching my back too, but knowing how coherent he usually was during and immediately after a short drive, I couldn't rely solely on him to handle things. Both of us would be required to watch over the odd trio in case any of them tried anything, not that I expected them to. Still, it never hurts to be prepared. It was the reason I had lived long enough to retire, after all.
"You don't really expect us to ride in that thing." The Eldar whined as she looked at me.
"Well, we could just strap you to the hood if you don't want to ride inside with the rest of us." I told her, gesturing to some of the spare crash harnesses inside the back of the Trukk.
The xenos woman let out a sigh before hopping into the back beside the squat, leaving only the lizard beastman beside me. For a moment, I was wondering whether or not he would fit, given his large frame and the thick tail that trailed behind him, a thought he also seemed to have. I was fairly confident he would be able to fit as this was a vehicle originally designed for Orks, but after Jurgen and I had taken to storing our adventuring gear in the back so we would never be caught without something we might need, we had lost quite a bit of leg room.
"M'lord Cain, do you know if there are any seats inside that might be able to accommodate me?" The strangely garbed abhuman inquired, his tail, the obvious reason behind his question swishing behind him as he waited for my answer.
"Try standing out the top hatch. The handholds up there should be large enough for you to support yourself, but be careful not to grab onto the bolter. I don't want you accidentally firing off a few rounds during our journey." I told him.
The abhuman hummed thoughtfully before taking a few tentative steps inside the Trukk, carefully stepping around his two companions until he was able to stick the upper half of his torso out of the hatch. It was odd seeing his feathered headdress sticking out of the top, similarly to how the hatch seemed barely large enough for him to rest inside. The abhuman took a couple of seconds to adjust himself, accidentally slapping the Eldar in the face and apologizing for this mistake profusely as I did my best to keep a straight face while I watched the entire spectacle unfold.
"Yes, I think this will do." He called out to me.
"Great. We might be able to reach our destination before nightfall if we're lucky." I idly mused before stepping inside the Trukk and pulling the doors shut and taking a few extra precautions to secure them. We wouldn't want to have a repeat incident of someone falling out after a particularly nasty bump flung Goblin Slayer out last month.
"Okay, does everyone have their safety harnesses on?" I asked, before redirecting my attention to the lizard humanoid. "Oh, you don't have to worry about them, scaly. Just make sure you keep a tight grip on the hand holds so you don't fall out."
"I'm strapped in and I made sure long ears is too." The squat said as he pulled a gourd of his belt and popped it open, a strong smell of alcohol filling the air for a moment before he took a short swig from it.
"Like I needed your help for that." The Eldar grumbled, receiving a teasing look from the squat that suggested the contrary.
"I'm ready." Goblin Slayer said, holding his restraints tight in both hands.
"Me too." Priestess called out, her voice barely audible through the faint slot separating the back of the Trukk from the front seats.
"Okay then." I said, pulling out a map I had received from the odd trio of adventurers earlier and feeding it through the slot and into my aide's waiting hand. "Whenever you're ready, Jurgen."
"As you wish, sir." My aid phlegmatically replied before flooring the gas pedal and starting our adventure off with a screeching departure from Frontier Town.
That ride was memorable for a variety of reasons, especially for what it taught me about my newest companions. First of all, the lizard must have been some sort of adrenaline junkie because his tail swished around with evident excitement during the majority of our ride and acted as a constant hazard throughout most of our trip. The other, more unfortunate thing all of us in the backseats learned was that the Eldar was prone to car sickness, quickly setting the tone for how the rest of our adventure was going to play out.
Special thanks to Tireless Traveler for beta reading this chapter!
Surprise upload! Now, as much as I wanted to combine this chapter with the next one, the two of them did not feel as if they belonged together. So rather than tease you all by pumping out two half chapters over the course of two months I thought it would be best to push one out a little earlier than usual. Just don't be surprised if the next one is a little short too.
Mundane ramblings aside, I figured it would be important to remind you all that Cain is an Imperial citizen, and they aren't exactly known for their xenos friendly attitudes. Xenocidal, yes. Xenos loving, no. I figured that our hero and his aide would need to engage in some sort of mental gymnastics before willing to cooperate with the Silver Ranked Party, no matter how small of a logical compromise they were making.
holandia113: Ah yes. the great commissar Cain, the patron saint of luck and the hero of the imperium. Giving dating advice. And honest to the god emperor I don't know whether this is a "look how far you've fallen" or "look how things are looking up" moment.
I don't know about you, but considering how one option is a lot less likely to result in getting shot or eaten alive, I think Cain would see playing wingman as an absolute improvement.
A5-2874213225 grineer: (Driving arrangement predictions)
You were spot on with more than one of them spot on, lancer. Glad to see I'm not the only one who can easily imagine how this scenario would play out.
Well, that's it for me. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you all again real soon.