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Kryp (WH40k Translation FemProtagonist Isekai)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by RiP, Oct 30, 2021.

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 1
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Please support an original here. I try to post it on Royal road.
    [​IMG]

    Chapter 1
    Some must work in the darkness so that others may live in the light
    Richard Yancey "The Monstrumologist"

    * * *

    It smelled of blood and death. Olga had never seen a dead body, much less smelled one, but for some reason, she knew immediately and unequivocally that only death could smell so horrible. A peculiar, slightly sweet smell with a hint of bitterness. It was not unpleasant at all ... the word "unpleasant" was not appropriate here, because it did not convey the sensation at all. Rather, the smell was utterly alien to the living. Like a common spider to a mammal. The smell evoked an instinctive urge to flee, to hide, to panic in the very core of her soul.

    Olga mumbled unintelligibly, twitched all her limbs at once, slapping her palms on something slimy - it worked unexpectedly. She was able to feel her body, and her other senses returned, first her hearing, then her eyesight.
    So, what is it...? What the hell is going on around here...

    Olga shook her head and rubbed her eyes. It was a very bad idea! Dirty just caused a waterfall of tears. Blinking, she looked at her fingers, trying to figure out where the dirt came from. Oh, shit! Not just dirt, but some kind of sticky sludge with tiny scales, like coagulated blood...

    "Fuck this shit," Olga whispered, forgetting at once that she was a cultured person and an urban person in general, even if in the first generation. The sounded characteristic was surprisingly appropriate because in this case the surrounding landscape was defined that way - and nothing else.

    It looked more like some kind of chapel than anything else. Or a crypt. In general, it was clearly something cult-like, ancient. Nothing modern, no plastic, and not a single square corner. A circular hall about the size of an ordinary playground, either concrete or stone. How many meters, what's the radius of... Fuck knows. The walls converged with a web of ribs, three meters above the floor so that the room seemed to be the interior of some citrus fruit with many slices. The shadows between the ribs were thickened with an abnormal depth, like inkblots.

    And in general, everything here was abnormal.

    On closer inspection, the girl realized that the stone walls were painted from the floor upward, with some nonsense. A mural... No, more like a text, and generously sprinkled over it with red paint. The letters were familiar, almost all of them. It was in Latin, but, like the rest of the room, it had no straight angles. All flowing, depicted in flying strokes with all sorts of swirls. Some of the characters still seemed unfamiliar, but they did not give the impression of being alien inclusions in the text. Just other letters of the same alphabet.

    The floor was very smooth and wet. In the middle of the room was... an altar? Well, some kind of pedestal, more like an altar than anything else. Apparently, something had been lying on it before, and now it was shattered into glass crumbs. There were a lot of crumbs, like diamond dust; at any rate, they reflected the light just as beautifully and brightly.

    Where did the light come from? The hell knows... Olga did not see lamps or anything like it. But the light was coming from somewhere, it was not visible as daylight or even as an old incandescent lamp, but more or less.

    Though it would have been better if there had been no light, for at that moment the girl realized that the walls were not at all covered with paint. And the floor. And all around, including her clothes.

    "Shit! " Olga uttered with genuine sincerity.

    Well, at least it was clear where the nauseating smell came from. But another question arose: what could have caused such an explosion ... by the way, how many victims were there in general?

    Now an uncontrollable wave of nausea swept over Olga. It was as if a flap had been opened in her brain, behind which was full awareness of the insanity of what was happening. The crypt, the symbols, the bloody jelly, and the small - no higher than an ankle - mounds in which fragmented bones, generously mixed with the stuffing of entrails and torn clothes, could be discerned.

    The vomiting was long and agonizing. The worst part was the smell. After another cramp, her lungs greedily sucked in more air, the stench pounded directly into her solar plexus, and the cycle repeated itself, to the splashing of gastric juice from her empty stomach, the stabbing pain in her eyes, and the feeling that her diaphragm was about to rupture.

    "Salva me."

    A man. Hidden in the shadows, motionless. The only more or less intact body within sight. How had she not noticed him before? Olga wiped her mouth with her sleeve, swallowed painfully, trying to switch off from the sensation of dried blood on her palms. She stared into the shadow, overcoming her aching head, the red haze in front of her eyes, and the buzzing in her ears.

    The man was half-lying, half-sitting, leaning against the pilaster. Nearby lay something long, metal, like a gun with a very thick barrel. The gun was damaged, and the barrel was bent at an angle of forty or forty-five degrees; it looked eerie. Who had managed to tear the weapon steel of finger-thick like that?

    The first impression the only living and whole person made was monochrome. He was dressed entirely in black. Not dark gray, not blue, but real charcoal darkness. Black boots on thick soles with many clasps along with the high cuffs. A black raincoat, heavy and "oaky" even in appearance, lying in rough folds. A stand-up collar, like part of a suit of armor, protrudes down to his cheekbones, covering the lower part of his face. The padded gloves are like a real "tactical," only bigger, tougher, and somehow ... more grotesque. The front part of his cloak was charred, hanging down in tatters, and something like a cuirass, nicely dented by hammers, gleamed beneath it. Of course, it was black, too.

    On his belt hung a double pouch of thick leather, one of the compartments letting out a thin tube, like an IV. The tube was stuck in the man's neck with a thick needle, and a yellow light on the pouch flashed alarmingly, just like an LED. There were some symbols on his cloak, silvery-white in color, but they smoothed out in the shadows as if dissolving into it.

    His face was white. Pale, apparently from nature, it was now completely bleached, taking on a strange, eerie hue. A mixture of white and gray. Olga blinked and felt a shiver in her hands and then all over her body. Only now did she realize that the man in the armored cloak was terribly wounded. Olga was lucky to have missed (until this minute, at least) not only the dead but also severe mutilation, so her mind did not first catch the abnormally angled foot ... no, perhaps the knee ... actually the entire left leg from the hip was twisted along its axis from outside to inside, like a plasticine man in the hands of a child. Judging by the pitifully twisted arm and the general obliquity, something hit right in the man's chest, snagging the whole left half. The armor survived, but the force of the impact was too powerful.

    Olga swallowed, trying to understand why the unknown man was still alive. The inner voice shouted that people could not live with such injuries. But the stranger was conscious and was looking at her very intently. John Doe's eyes seemed like bottomless holes in his gray-white face, his dark pupils incredibly dilated with pain but thought and consciousness was pulsing in them.

    "Salva me." The stranger repeated authoritatively.

    It sounded like an order, from a man accustomed to obedience. But it wasn't very impressive, because the "black cloak" inhaled, and he groaned through his teeth at the pain in his ribs, blurring the last word in a long moan. Tiny scarlet drops appeared on his gray lips.

    "Ego Inquisitor sum. Audi me."

    This time he spoke more softly, trying not to disturb the broken body. And he couldn't seem to contain his surprise at Olga's reaction. Or rather, the lack thereof. "Black" looked at the girl. The girl looked at "Black" in silence - "like a sheep at a new gate," if you refer to the rich vocabulary of her stepmother. She did not understand what he was saying. Some of the words seemed familiar, the language - akin to English, which she had learned from her time at the "beauty studio". But the whole thing was completely unintelligible.

    Spanish? No, too chopped and clear phrases. German? Also no, on the contrary, too smooth. Maybe French... And what the hell is a Frenchman doing here?

    "Quis es tu, quid tibi nomen est?" The wounded man made another attempt.

    Indeed, a Frenchman. But that did not make the situation any clearer.

    And what's the noise outside...

    God, it's so scary all around.

    Her thoughts were jumbled, clinging to each other, and in the end, none of them made sense. What the hell was going on here? Maybe some terrorists? A silly line from an old movie came to mind: "Saddam Hussein attacked us!"

    No, if they were terrorists, they must have normal weapons and other ammunition. But here the whole environment looked like a set from a high-budget sci-fi movie. This, what's its name... "Dune" from the eighties from some American junkie. Lynch, yes, definitely Lynch. Only without the flip side in the form of plywood, duct tape, and nails sticking out. And the extra with the flick on which he was supposed to write the take's props were missing.

    "Debemus recedere ex …"

    The "Black" seemed to be affected by his wounds. His voice fell silent, his words becoming unintelligible. The gray-white color was gradually giving way to blue-green. Now the unknown man did look more and more like a dead man with each passing second. And he was no longer demanding but begging. As much as he could, he seemed to have learned long ago not to beg for anything. The yellow signal on his pouch turned red.

    The noise, that buzzing in my ears again, like an apiary or the rumble of the surf... She have to look outside somehow, call for help. Although the poor guy can't be helped, that's for sure.

    "Redeant in ambobus necabo." Man in black exhaled and stared at Olga with dim eyes. He seemed to have exhausted his stock of eloquence and prepared for the worst.

    What the girl wanted more than anything was to say "go fuck yourself" and get the hell out of here. Her head was hurting more and more, her diaphragm was hurting, her eyes were hurting... everything was hurting. And in the ears, it was humming. Three things stopped Olga. First, she saw nothing that could be considered a way out. Nothing at all. Secondly, a man was dying in front of her, and Olga, of course, liked to brag about cynicism - who in her youth avoided it? - but not so much as to leave a helpless person to die on. Third ...

    She didn't have time to think about that. The girl finally realized that the hum in her ears was not an illusion, but a real sound coming through the walls. And then she realized what the sound most likely resembled.

    In old books such a situation was usually described in some colorful way - "blood froze in the veins" and all that. Olga was always genuinely amused by the archaic turns of "old times". Only not now, because she felt exactly as described. It was as if all her blood had frozen at once, freezing her body with unspeakable terror.

    She realized what that sound was coming from outside.

    Run, she must run!

    Olga fumbled, frantically and haphazardly, slipping on the smooth floor, well smeared with blood and some other gooey shit.

    Run, run, run!

    Away from the terrifying howl of thousands of throats that raged, approaching, somewhere behind the thick walls. Of course, the girl had heard what the shrieks of many people sounded like, thanks to YouTube and the cinema. But here ... if someone now asked a calm, detached question - and what, in fact, is wrong? - Olga would hardly be able to answer. It was just ... her ears told her two completely objective facts. The first was that some crazy crowd of people was shouting outside. The second was that normal people couldn't make such demonic cries. They couldn't, that's all. The howling, even muffled by the barrier, penetrated somewhere deep into her consciousness, awakened the atavistic fear of the naked ape of the horrors of a world plunged into darkness.

    Only run!

    But where to?

    Olga clenched her fists and looked around in panic. She rushed to the nearest wall and pounded on it, smashing her fists against the sharp edges.

    "Let me out!" She yelled, frantically thinking that all this mincemeat had somehow gotten in here. And if they got in, there must be a way out!

    "Let me out!"

    And she was answered. Olga stepped back, feeling the wall vibrate as if many hands were pounding on it at once from the other side. Whoever it was, he, or rather they, intended to breakthrough. And maybe they will succeed. The girl covered herself with her hands as if trying to ward off the outside threat, feeling powerless despair, and apathetic.

    No way out.

    Now, just a minute... That grim man in the bdsm cape who was about to give his soul to God? Olga looked at the still alive crippled. Surprisingly, he responded with a hazy but still meaningful look. He, too, seemed to be feeling the disposition.

    "Let me out!" Asked the girl, trying to wipe her soiled face with her sleeve. She thought for a few moments and then added, as clearly and legibly as possible. "Save me. Please. Help."

    "You're going to die anyway, so at least help me one last time," she added in a whisper, not fearing that he would understand. The Russian language was unfamiliar to the crooked-legged man.

    "Salva me."

    Well, he's said that before. And what would that mean?

    "An asshole/" The girl said passionately, fighting the urge to punch her interlocutor right in the forehead.
    Salva me. "Me" it's understandable. But "salve"... Maybe "help". In such an environment, there's nothing else to say. Again, it sounds like "save," "save me," "salve me".

    "An asshole." She repeated, understanding, in her mind, that it sounded unfair. But everything around her was so ugly, and it must have been someone's fault.

    And what can I do for you?

    She stepped toward the wounded man. Up close, he reeked of burning clothes and burnt plastic. Probably from the melted armor, which had taken on a volley of unknown shit, though it failed to protect its owner completely. Olga knelt next to the sufferer.

    "Who the hell are you..."

    The man in black didn't seem to understand a word, but he caught the emotional context. He slowly raised his right hand, put his palm to his heart, and, writhing in pain, said something separately. What it was, Olga could barely make out; it was too short and slurred, all consonants. "Korupmnt" some kind of... Corruptor in the local language?

    "Is he an Armenian?" She thought aloud. "No, you'll be a "Kryp". You're so creepy anyway."

    In fact, the wounded man was not very scary. Nor was he old. If you wiped away the mask of misery and the splatter of coagulated blood from his face, the poor man could have been about thirty years old, maybe even less.
    Realizing he'd been renamed, Kryp mouthed again. Through strength and pain, he mumbled slowly:

    "Et ego coriarius. Quaestiones."

    "WTF" Olga muttered, touching his tattered cloak. "What to do with you?"

    The wounded man was breathing heavily, with a wheezing sound that seemed to burst from the very depths of his lungs. Olga distinctly realized that minutes remained for Kryp. It was unclear what power was still keeping him on this side of life, but its effect was ending

    "Damn it," the hairdresser said with passion and tried to pull open the flaps of the black cloak. The thick layered fabric turned out to be exactly as it looked from the outside - stiff and badly bendable. Olga searched for anything resembling a first-aid kit and found none. Only a strange, palm-sized badge on a thick chain. The badge was marked with an engraving, either a letter or a symbol that looked like a letter. A cross with small sidebars or a Latin "I" crossed by two or three horizontal lines. And the classic "Totenkopf" on the intersection.

    Fucking Nazi. And nothing that looks like a first-aid kit. Only an empty leather holster, sewn with rough stitching, it seems, by hand. Not even a knife.

    "First-aid kit!" The girl shouted in despair and then realized that those outsides could hear her. It occurred to her that, insofar as their howls were unlike human voices, they must have been unlike ordinary people. At least they were hammering with inhuman strength.

    "Do you have something at least? A syringe tube, some other shit?"

    Kryp keeps silent. He seems to have fainted.

    Olga stopped, despair overwhelming her. A man was dying in front of her, and she was powerless. She had already forgotten how she was ready to leave the unfortunate man right there.

    Ahh... In a good book, she would surely have the knowledge she needed. Let's say a paramedical course under her belt. Or at least a relative in medicine, a parent, or better yet, a grandfather. And one would be able to recall old wise advice, just on the topic of the day. But Olga had no medical relatives, and the ones she did have... in general, relatives were the last thing a girl would think of well, especially at a time like this.

    "What should I do with you..." She whispered, feeling the tears stinging her inflamed eyes. The incredible stress and stench made her want to vomit again. And that light bulb seemed to be beeping, but it was so thin and disgusting that it cut through the outside noise.

    Olga squirmed, folded almost in half like a folding knife. She wanted to close her eyes and ears, not to think about anything, to forget that it was all mincemeat and satanism and fucked up. The light bulb was still...

    Lightbulb. Red. It beeps.

    With trembling fingers, Olga touched the belt case, which looked like a pouch from an album about the armament of German nazist infantrymen. It was double, stiff, and seemed to be sewn from the same leather as the holster. The red bulb... it used to be yellow. And what was the tube? Olga looked closely at the "IV tube ", which seemed to be a real IV tube, only of a darker material and something more "glassy". It had been stuck into Kryp's neck, in the area of the carotid artery, roughly, hard, so that the blood protruded. Hmm... if he's right-handed, he must have poked himself with it, upward and downward, at such an angle.

    Interesting...

    Olga returned to the pouch, tried to open it. The clasp turned out to be stiff. She broke a couple of fingernails.

    "Fuck." She cursed. She tried not to think about how much it cost, even at a discount at her local salon. Of course, it was silly, to say the least, to think about such trivial things now, but such simple, down-to-earth thoughts somehow tied her to reality. Because everything around her, visible and audible, simply could not exist. Olga felt the patina of city life flying off her like a leaf in the wind, revealing the old girl, the tenacious village animal, who does not think too much, but survives. And only then worries, maybe.

    "Okay, this is more or less understandable." She muttered, looking at the two cylindrical things that showed up from under the pouch lid. They looked like enlarged batteries or beer cans. Each had a connector on the lid and a light bulb that looked like an LED. One blinked red through a slot in the pouch and reached out as a drip to Kryp's neck.

    "Shall we take a risk?" Olga asked herself and looked at the man. He was half-lounging, half-sitting motionless, looking through the girl with an unseeing gaze. Several pink bubbles swelled on his blue lips.

    Olga tried to unscrew the adapter that connects the dropper to the jar. Fortunately, it wasn't screwed all the way in, so she realized almost immediately that the thread is not clockwise, but the other way around. So she had to twist from left to right. It worked. The jar hissed softly, and the red light died. Olga exhaled, tried to calm the trembling in her fingers. She thought that, from the sanitary point of view, this was not even a dump, but a complete toilet, so that if Kryp survives now (and he certainly does not), he will die of contamination later.

    "And toping with moonshine." Olga quoted her half-brother (may he die) as she screwed the adapter cup into the second "battery". It went through easily. And nothing happened.

    Olga quietly jerked the tube, tapped the jar, looked for some hidden switch or at least a button. Nothing.

    "A miracle of fucking technology..."

    She tried another twist, the cylinder turned a quarter-turn forcefully, very stiffly, and something clicked in the jar as if a diaphragm inside had been punctured. A green light flashed. If you put your fingers to the jar, you could feel the slightest vibration, as if a silent motor was running inside. Nothing could be seen through the dark drip, but the girl was sure that some kind of substance was flowing through it, flowing into an artery. Maybe even with air bubbles.

    Damn, she hadn't thought of that. On the other hand, it was too late. And even if she had, what could she do?

    Olga sat and waited in silence. Outside there was howling, raging, and pounding. The sound seemed very muffled as if it was coming through a meter or two of concrete. And that made it all the more frightening. If you could hear it even here, what was going on outside?

    Kryp woke up suddenly as if he had awakened from a deep sleep. He sighed heavily, coughed up blood, looked at Olga quite sensibly. He squinted his eyes down, touched the battery with careful, light strokes.

    "Tibi gratias ago." He whispered.

    "You're welcome, anytime," the girl giggled nervously. "Now get our asses out of here..."

    It sounded so cheesy that it made her teeth cramp, but the mind brought up on modern mass media, gave out the usual pattern. Good thing Kryp didn't understand a word of it, except for the general message.

    The rumbling outside, meanwhile, increased, and crumbs were sprinkled on the walls in some places. The first cracks, barely visible at first, crunched. It was not known how many destroyers were outside, or what they were using, but it was clear that the unknown intends to dismantle the crypt, and they would probably succeed.

    "Exitus est ex loci iste, ostendo vobis." Kryp said through the pain. He thought for a few seconds and pointed his finger at Olga's pants. She stared at him incomprehensibly. He, gritting his teeth in pain and anger, slowly stretched out his hand and touched the belt buckle.

    Olga opened her mouth to say clearly and distinctly what she thought of the fucking erotomaniac, who had watched all sorts of "Shades". She stopped herself and closed her mouth, realizing what Kryp wanted. She undid the metal buckle with the embossed crocodile on it and took out her belt. She helped the wounded man roll it in half. Kryp was now able to use his left hand as well, but more slowly and less well than with his more or less intact right hand. He shoved the leather band into his mouth, bit down hard, and pointed silently to the opposite wall. Beads of sweat broke out on Kryp's forehead, his pupils dilated even more in anticipation of the inevitable.
    The blows came more and more frequently from the outside, and crumbs, not dust, were falling from the vaulted ceiling.

    "And he said, 'Let's go,'" Olga said and grasped the high collar of the cloak tightly.

    Kryp muttered something, but all that came through his clenched teeth and belt was an inaudible "boo-boo-boo".
    Olga wanted to say something else like "this is going to hurt," but she realized that she was only dragging out the time that was almost gone. She pulled silently, trying to make it smooth and neat. Of course, it didn't work. It was a rough tug, and Kryp howled muffledly and fearfully, rolling his eyes, his hands twitching in uncontrollable convulsions. Olga kept pulling, unable even to swear, wishing that it would all be over somehow.

    * * *
    Feedback and mistakes would be apresheated.​
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2021
    Red12121212, GFFerrari, Tea and 20 others like this.
  2. Zerothewarhound

    Zerothewarhound Not too sore, are you?

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    Interesting story so far hope to read more
     
    Winged One likes this.
  3. Threadmarks: Chapter 2
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 2

    The rest happened as if in a fog. Her consciousness swam as if Olga were split in two. One part of her moved her unruly, woozy body. She was dragging Kryp through the trapdoor, tumbling through hot pipes and old braided cables. The other went somewhere deep, where there was nothing but a desperate desire to finally end this crazy nightmare, this delirious dream. There, at the bottom of consciousness, the girl imagined that all of this was simply not real around her. There was nothing. There was no heavy, minute-by-minute fainting man, no tunnel that looked like ventilation from some eighties horror movie.

    There was nothing.

    Nothing at all.

    And it lasted for who knows how long. Longer than infinity, probably. Or a little shorter.

    She was insanely thirsty. She'd felt the same way once, more than a year ago when she'd had a few drinks in good company that evening and had to go in the morning to replace her inopportunely ill partner. And without the option of skiping under plausible pretexts. This is an unpleasant feeling, when you have to go somewhere, something to do, and still have to carefully pretend to be a living, healthy person. When all she wanted more than anything was to lie down and fall asleep here and now. She didn't need to pretend anything now. She could make all the faces she wanted, swear and curse, but she felt far worse than ever. Fatigue was nauseating to the point of sour bile in her mouth, and thirst was giving her a headache and making her legs stiffen. The red light of the rare service lamps stabbed her eyes and seemed to throb with red-hot needles somewhere in her bones.

    Kryp passed out again, grinning like a vampire and rolling his eyes under his half-closed eyelids. No wonder, with all those injuries and that kind of transportation. Olga poorly remembered dragging the heavy guy by the collar, following his fragmentary instructions. I think they went through some kind of trapdoor into a communications tunnel or something. Then several more times they broke through the trapdoors, or she did, and then, cursing loudly, she dragged Creep, who was growling in pain, not even the chewed, bruised belt helping him anymore. Who would have told her she would have so much strength in her hands, even with the help of the maimed man, who was pushing off as hard as he could with his leg. She was reminded of her father, with his famous "We should plow on you, you little bastard!

    She couldn't bear to watch the poor man suffer, and she wanted to leave him every minute. Just to see no more of that face, which reflected an endless, inescapable pain. But every time something stopped her. Maybe the memory of her mother, who had also suffered before her death in prolonged cancerous agony, was abandoned by all except her daughter. Or maybe a modicum of involuntary respect for a man who had overcome, it seemed death itself on his bare will. Moreover, when the guy was awake and Olga was once again in the throes of hysterical sobbing, he even tried to comfort her. At least, it seemed so to the girl, because she still did not understand a word, guided only by the intonation.

    The hardest part was closing the hatches behind us. They were small but very thick, with rivets and handwheels. Crip insisted that they all lock up, gesticulating like a madman as far as his wounds would allow, and Olga quite agreed. Realizing that, by some miracle, they had missed the unknowable force that was spreading the bloody crypt outside. And that force was quite capable of following the fugitives. But from the agreement rusty, riveted to each other cogs do not want to spin better. Judging by the state of the tunnels and the thick layer of dust, the hairdresser and the glamorous sadist in the cloak were the first guests here in months, if not years. But compared to the extreme that had already occurred, the sticky, shaggy dust, like cobwebs rolled up into felt, seemed like a nice, insignificant add-on.

    "Ego sum servus Imperatoris …" Kryp muttered through his teeth as he woke up. He was breathing heavily, whistling, but there was no bloody foam on his lips. Olga didn't know shit about medicine, but she had heard about broken ribs and punctured lungs. It seemed strange that such a thing had not happened to this S&M Nazi. Judging by the condition of the glossy cuirass, half of the poor man's chest must have been a crumble of bones and torn

    "Shut up, for God's sake," Olga exhaled, gathering her strength for another tug. She had to drag the wounded man another ten meters to another hatch. This time, for a variation, an octagonal one.

    Bitch... And she was offered a paramedical course. And she almost said yes. But then this and that, fifth and tenth, it kept getting postponed... And now this fucking "Blade" in a cloak will die in her arms from who knows what. And there was nothing she could do about it, she couldn't even diagnose him properly.

    Olga was horrified to think that the "beer can" that revived Kryp was probably not bottomless, so it would end soon enough. And then... Not so clear what then. And most importantly, how to stop it. But the nearest target loomed ahead, gleaming faintly in the red light with its metallic polish. And then we would see.

    Holy crap! That's ridiculous. How did Sapkowski put it: "anger makes her want to bite herself in the ass"? Oh, never mind. A good thought comes afterward.

    "Stop!"

    "Let's take this thing off," the girl suggested, panting. Or more precisely, declared her intention. She realized that, first of all, this brilliant idea should have been thought of much earlier, and, secondly, without lightening Kryp at least ten kilograms, she would not pull him further.

    To remove the poor man's cloak and cuirass turned out to be a torturous and, bookishly speaking, non-trivial task. It was very cramped, to begin with, which in itself seriously limited the possibilities. The next thing she found out was that Kryp didn't even have a small knife, so the thick, heavy clothing and armor had to be unbuttoned and removed for real. And finally, the deformed cuirass had to be dealt with separately, and she had to try to avoid hitting the IV. At the same time, the girl noticed that the "can" flashed a yellow light.

    She was no longer surprised by the lack of normal fasteners. Olga only noted that there were no fasteners on Kryp's gear, nothing even remotely resembling the usual joys of urban warriors. There weren't even many buttons, mostly all fastened to thick leather straps like old armor. And fuck it. The main thing was that dragging the wounded man was much easier. He seemed to be breathing a little freer, too. Beneath his armor, Kryp was wearing something resembling a fine hexagonal mesh t-shirt, tightly wrapped around his rock-hard muscles. The badge with a scull the maimed did not pass, clutching it in his fist as a great value. Olga helped him hang the weighty chain from his cuirass to his shirt.

    "Imperator duxit et protegit me." Kryp whispered, trying to push off farther with one foot in his muddy boot at the same time. He folded his arms across his chest in some kind of figure, intertwining his thumbs. It was as if he were picturing wings.

    "Misit me ad te."

    " You're not a fucking Kryp," Olga hissed, clutching at the hard collar like a tick. "You're fucking Batman. Why don't you call Robin and Harley Quinn and get them to save us?"

    So named Batman went limp again and lost consciousness.

    "No, that doesn't good," Olga whispered, realizing that on the one hand Kryp weighed much less without the cloak, but on the other, there was no more collar to cling to so comfortably. She had to take the belt back and make a loop, running it under Kryp's arms. The improvised harness tore after about three meters, proving that a Chinese product is still Chinese, even if it says "Rochas".

    The girl bruised the back of her head painfully against the sharp corner of the bracket, knocked her knuckles to the meat, and tore through her jacket in at least five different places. The hematite "lucky charm" bracelet had long since torn and rolled around the corners. The Casio watch was reproachfully darkened by the whitewash of cracked glass. But most importantly, Olga was exhausted to the limit and beyond, crossing the line beyond which fatigue turns into natural exhaustion.

    "I'll go see what's out there," she murmured, more to herself, because the kryp-batman couldn't answer anyway, fainting.

    She was exaggerating about "walking," of course. The low ceiling of the technical passage allowed only crawling, but without a heavy burden, such crawling was a joy. Olga felt as if she were gliding, like on a waterslide. A meter, another meter... The walls of the tunnel were strange, looking like concrete and plastic at the same time. And ... Olga froze, listening, catching every rustle, like a cat, except that her ears did not twist. It seemed to her that something rattled behind the thin wall. Quietly, cautiously. And very ominously.

    She was distracted by noises, and there were quite a few of them. Steam hissed, a loose valve rattled, a red lamp in a copper - or not copper, at least some reddish metal - braid buzzed and crackled. Nothing else seemed to be going on.

    Olga cursed herself for leaving the knife at home. Although usually, a Chinese copy of some pathos American stabber was always with her. As well as a can of tear gas, because, as you know, a careful man... But who knew that she would be pulled into the abyss of asshole hell at that very moment, literally with her bare hands. Good thing she wasn't bare-assed. Okay, let's keep crawling. She looked around as if Kryp might have gone somewhere. He hadn't, lying a dark, helpless doll in the blood-red light.

    The octagonal hatch had a large steel plaque on it. A sort of emblem, not a Nazi one this time, but also with a skull split in half in black and white. And some kind of gears, too. Fucking steampunk. Is this some kind of cosplayer hell?

    "The nightmares rode on a balloon," Olga said and, gritting her teeth, began to unlock the lock on the hatch. It was the lock that opened surprisingly easily. Either it had been unlocked recently, or it had been greased more often. All in all, it went like clockwork. Hallelujah, yippee!

    The octagon opened outward and, not caring about safety and rustling, Olga fell out, in the dirt, dust, cobwebs, and garbage of unclear origin. The phrase "Freedom will meet us cheerfully at the entrance" kept going round and round in her head. And there was also something about life for the Tsar, but then the girl bumped her head again - and painfully - so that the thought disappeared.

    So, arms and legs are in place, nobody seems to be around. And where are we...? And what's that light up ahead?

    Where...

    "Oh My God," the girl whispered.

    Not that Olga believed in God or any transcendent being at all. Her previous life of sixteen years and two months had taught her to believe in herself, in cash, and in the magic power of kicking the balls of assholes who did not know the word "no." Only you have to hit suddenly, as hard and as sharply as possible, and then everything will be fine. But what was revealed to her eyes was so wild, so incongruous, so impossible, that ...

    In general, addressing God was the most appropriate thing to do. He didn't answer, though. As always.

    "Oh My God..." Olga repeated, stretching out her shaking palm, brown with dirt and blood as if trying to shield herself from the deadly blue-white light. Hot tears welled up in her eyes, burning the parched cornea with a fierce fire.

    I won't wake up.

    Because it's not a dream

    Not a dream at all

    Describing "it" was impossible, at least at once. It was too far from the usual patterns of perception, from all life experience, even with the extensive addition of Internet knowledge given to us in YouTube and other Instagrams. Most of all, the "landscape" that Olga discovered looked like a shopping center with a circular atrium, towering like a column. The height ... God knows, honestly, the girl could only say that hundreds, many hundreds of meters, the size of a skyscraper. Half of the cylinder (if you cut it in two, along the centerline) was filled from bottom to top with tiers that looked like both stores with lattice windows and residential levels. They followed one another like ribs in a corrugated hose, bulging with protrusions, balconies, something resembling pier platforms, mutual crossings, and a hundred more incomprehensible structures, which Olga could neither describe clearly nor even understand what they were. And the other half... It wasn't there. It just wasn't there.
    Olga grasped the metal handrail with her fingers, white with tension, behind which there was a void, a huge well. She stared with huge, dilated pupils at the ghostly screen, which, like a giant semicircular shield, separated the atrium from the gleaming emptiness. It was not glass, but rather something ethereal. And outside, the universe exposed. Not space, as in the photograph, but something glowing with a myriad of colors, like a gas nebula or a dust cloud, composed of gems ground into dust in every imaginable and unimaginable shade, infinitely bright, chemically pure. As if that weren't enough, something gigantic, very close (or seemingly so), and blindingly bright was coming from the side, from behind the edge of the etheric shield. And round.


    "Oh My God," the girl repeated for the third time, realizing she was seeing the edge of a star in a blinding yellow and white crown.

    Stars glittered and rippled across the screen, and then it faded, darkened like polarized glass. For some reason, that was what amazed the girl the most. The speed and effect with which something grandiose, thousands, tens of thousands of square meters in the area reacted to the flow of light. The star continued to creep up, making the external objects outside the screen glow with reflected light, like electric welding points, so that it hurt her eyes even despite the total shading.

    "Mama," Olga said. She felt like a child, more like an infant, who had acquired intelligence and the ability to evaluate objects but was not yet familiar with their essence and purpose. He sees something but is not able to understand what he sees.

    "Oh, mommy..."

    She looked down, struggling to look away from the inconceivably grandiose, magnificent, and overwhelming picture. Compared to the riot of sunshine, everything else seemed small, tiny, in some ways even cozy. Even the giant atrium, which looked like a skyscraper turned inside out.

    Below, at the dark bottom of the man-made crater, stood a figure. Olga could not determine its size, her sense of scale and dimensionality was completely lost. One thing was certain - it was a statue, and a huge one, like everything "here" seems to be, no matter where "here" was located.

    The figure resembled a man in armor, grotesquely exaggerated, geometrically disproportionate. The man had a sword and a halo, which was either illuminated from within or made of some polished metal that reflected the light well. The surface of the statue seemed strange, a kind of gnawed with acidic gaps, like the face of a Sphinx in the Egyptian desert. But time had done its work there, and here the figure's general shabby appearance was out of place with its surroundings. It looked as if the monument had been painstakingly broken and then abandoned. Or perhaps it had been brought here from some other place, though it seemed improbable that such a giant could have been dragged anywhere.

    Olga turned away and sat down straight on the hard, cold floor, leaning against the fence, which was metal and, it seemed, wrought iron. At any rate, the twisted bars looked as if they had come from under a blacksmith's hammer, that is, solid, rough, asymmetrical. The girl closed her eyes and just sat for a few minutes, thinking of nothing. Olga felt that if she now opened her mind to speculation, reflection, fear, it would not be long before she went mad. But her hearing came into play.

    Now that the perception was freed from the frantic stream of images that clogged all the "info channels," it became clear that it was very quiet around there. It was too quiet for a huge space, where continuous echoes should be walking. There was some noise around, but quiet and weak, most likely the work of some life-supporting automatics, muffled by the walls. Look like not long ago, lots of people had lived and worked here. But now the "atrium" was empty and abandoned.

    She crawled out of one grave to find herself in another, a thousand times larger.

    What's that? Where did it come from? Why is she here?

    It doesn't matter.

    She is dying of fatigue and thirst. And not far away, a dying man suffers, terribly wounded and probably even more thirsty than she is. All around stretches a world that is incomprehensible, unknown, and clearly hostile. And so it turns out that Kryp is the only living creature who could explain what is going on here and is actually on Olga's side.

    Water. And weapons. And at least some bandages. No, just a first-aid kit, maybe Kryp can figure out how to heal him.

    This first, then everything else.

    Olga once again glanced at the sun, which continued to sprawl. It seemed that the object on which the girl found herself - whether it was a planet, a meteorite, or a man-made structure, it did not matter - was rotating and was now turning the "screen" side toward the nearest star. Olga had never studied astronomy, but there was something abnormal about such closeness to the star (if you can even call anything "normal" here). However, it was something to think about later.

    Once again, water and weapons, at least a stick of some kind. And any box with a red cross.

    Olga stood up, clenched her fists, and wished she had been born a stern, fearsome fighter who could punch in the face. Then she concentrated on surveying her surroundings. The first thing she did was to peer over the edge of the railing and, overcome by vertigo from the height, try to assess the disposition. The level, perhaps, belonged to the upper quarter of the "well. At any rate, there were a few dozen more stories upstairs, but far fewer than there were below.

    A balcony, not too wide, five or seven meters long, stretched in a long arc, bounded on one side by a balustrade and on the other by windows or shop windows. At unequal intervals, the glass gaps, almost all broken, were interspersed with dark, light-deprived corridors. Many of the "windows" were canted with broken bars, and some seemed to have been blocked by barricades hastily assembled from handrail material. All the barricades had been smashed and taken out in pieces as if they had been bulldozed. It was very messy, like after a major riot. And dirty. Not dusty, but dirty. The floor and walls seemed to have been scraped and painted, leaving only gilded shadows that resembled stylized eagles.

    Olga looked at the aether screen. The shaded disk of the star took up no less than a fifth of the view. Then to the balcony, which seemed to come from the middle of the twentieth century. Or rather, from the ideas of that time about what the future would look like. Retrofuturism, here! Olga remembered a beautiful word. She leaned over and ran her hand over the stone - stone! - flooring, assembled from square slabs.

    Hologram. It must be some kind of amazing hologram. In space, every kilogram is important, Olga remembered that for sure. But here ... she looked down at the dark statue, which weighed a shitload of tons ... here they didn't care about weight distribution. And sun this close would have burned the hell out of everything long ago, or at least warmed it up nicely. And it's chilly here, perhaps even cold. She shivered, pulling her dirty jacket tighter over her skinny shoulders. She needed a blanket or something warmer to wear. But she didn't want to get her hands on any of the ugly rags they'd thrown around. Surely there would be something nicer in the broken windows.

    Water! With all this thinking, she had completely forgotten that behind the steampunk trapdoor, Kryp continued to die quietly.

    No distractions, no distractions. Forward, enduring fatigue and aching muscles. Search. Search.

    * * *​
     
  4. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    She need tons of special powers to survive WH40.Or...just luck.I remember story about some Inquisitional acolyte who survived thanks to pure luck.
     
  5. Threadmarks: Chapter 3
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 3

    On closer look, the effect seemed peculiar. With each passing minute, the world around her seemed less and less familiar. And more and more foreign, alien. At first, a cursory glance glanced at the broken windows, not clinging to anything. Because the mind was already overloaded with impressions. Yes, something is wrong, but nothing big. And then, when the time comes to look more closely ... the irregular, asymmetrical proportions of the frames; the glass, thick, almost two fingers thick and murky-lilac, and, it seems, with a thin mesh of reinforcement in the depths. The plastic, which looks like wood (or maybe really wood) and Soviet-made Bakelite, like the ones you find in old-fashioned gunsmith's stores. There are large lamps in rough hubcaps, made of a thick lattice. Everything is not new and at the same time not decrepit, but archaic. It was like a small town, stuck in the 1980s or even earlier.

    Olga exhaled, rubbed her temples, and looked back at the half-closed hatch, memorizing her surroundings. From all appearances, it looked like she would have to go deeper into the dark maze of the interior layout. She looked around, trying to find at least a nail. But as it happened, the garbage around her seemed harmless, mostly scraps of some yellow-stitched fabric and some papers. Except for a large adjustable wrench... She picked up and weighed the tool. It was heavy, but it would work for a start.

    The wrench was followed by a duffel bag, which looked like an old hardware bag, and an almost complete notebook. The hardcover, made of some kind of faux leather, had "Statio ballistorum sedecem" written in half-embossed gold. Olga flipped through the pages, rough as wrapping paper, with fibers and almost sawdust pressed into them. In the corner of each sheet an eagle spread its wings, not quite heraldic, but something sharper, rougher. Without exception, all the eagles were crossed out with something resembling marker pens. Some had all sorts of nastiness drawn on them, mostly playing on the motifs of the pooping bird. On the last page, in large letters, an unknown hand had written with great care: "cadaver putridum."

    Why she took the notebook, the girl herself did not know. Perhaps she wanted to take it, as the most intact thing within reach, as a starting point for successful collecting. It was never too late to throw it away. Or it might come in handy. For instance, she could talk to Kryp with drawings... She found that appealing because if she couldn't talk to him, she could at least draw. Although, first of all, the guy must survive. But let's hope for the best.

    Kryp

    The thought of a fellow companion hurried her up, forced her to finally decide. Olga mechanically crossed herself and took a step toward the dark aisle. Well ... not so dark. So it seemed in contrast to the atrium and the starlight. In the depths of the dark corridor, the same armored lights were still glowing, and some kind of signal lights, blue and yellow. Something was beeping evenly and quietly, very machine-like. Olga climbed over the remnants of the barricade, holding the wrench at the ready and preparing for a new adventure. No adventure followed.

    She stepped to the side and pressed her back against the rough wall so as not to stand out in the bright doorway. She stood for a moment, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the semi-darkness. She looked at the corpse lying by one of the doors that went forward, on either side of the corridor.

    Corpse. Carcass

    Olga thought about it without trembling or panicking. Too much had happened in the past hours. Just noted the presence of a dead body, which from the gallery was unnoticeable. It was as the dead man was watching for uninvited guests. The dead man lay stretched out with his arms behind his head like a compass skeleton from a Stevenson novel. He seemed as shriveled as a mummy, but the girl could not smell the decay that must have permeated everything around him. Dry air at a low enough temperature and good ventilation...? Or some kind of rapid dehydration?

    Thoughts of the temperature reminded her that she should find some kind of sweater or a warm jacket. Olga looked over the dead man again, trying to determine from a distance what he died of and whether there was anything useful on the body. The cause of death could not be determined. The skull seemed strangely deformed, with a kind of ovoidness, and the lower jaw, which had dropped back in a mute cry, sagged more than it should have. On the other hand, it could all have been a play of light and a consequence of the natural (or unnatural) decay of the cavity. Olga was loath to go nearer and search the dead man, even though he had some interesting pouches hanging from his belt, and the pockets of his thick green cloth shirt were bulging with some kind of package.

    She didn't want to, that's all. Why not? No reason. Not every desire had to have a rational reason. But she was thirsty, like crazy thirsty. Maybe the dead man had a flask.

    I'll go a little further, Olga decided. I'll go and have a look. And if necessary, I'll come back. This one seems to have been lying here for a long time. He can wait a little longer, he has nowhere to hurry.

    Olga gulped, feeling her parched throat scratch itself, took a step further, sideways, not letting the dead body out of her sight. She had never been afraid of zombies, but still... it was uncomfortable to leave a dead man behind. Only when she'd taken ten or more steps did she finally turn around and walk quietly into the darkness.
    All of this reminded her not of an apartment complex, or stores, as it had seemed to her before, but rather some kind of office space. And old, to put it in scientific terms, conservative. No computers, nothing that looked like a screen, even a flat screen, even the usual 90's "box". A lot of tubes under the ceiling, which looked like a heating system, and thinner tubes that ran along the walls, interrupted by valves and tricky trays. Chairs of an infinitely dull, formal appearance, with round backs on high pins. And an enormous number of file drawers of all kinds. Most of them turned out to be open, the cards scattered in disarray.

    Archive! Olga finally realized what it reminded her of. An archive or a library file cabinet. The girl climbed into one of the openings where there was less broken glass. As she did so, she dropped the wrench, which clanked loudly against the metal. Olga crouched behind the short window sill and lurched, listening intensely.
    Silence. The same faint, subtle technical noise and squeaks. She could see that some sort of sensor, in the form of brass tablets, was beeping. These were installed above every door but at most, a couple or two were working.

    Something clicked, hissed. Olga twisted into a knot, trying to be as small as possible, to become invisible, like a cockroach in a crevice. It seemed impossible to see her from outside, from the corridor, but suddenly... The pipe, the thinner one bent over the file drawer, again made a long hissing sound, shook, and threw out a capsule about the size of a school pencil case. Everything fell silent. After waiting a little longer, the girl cautiously looked out. She found nothing suspicious. She remembered she didn't have a watch on her, either. So she would have to measure the time according to her sense. With no accuracy at all.

    The pencil case was screwed together, and Olga struggled to open it. Until she remembered the "beer can" and twisted it clockwise. The capsule contained only a sheet of paper, smaller than in the notebook and of slightly better quality, but still the same wrapping color. A stamp with incomprehensible symbols, an eagle again, the familiar words about "ballistis statione" and nothing else. Obviously a letterhead, but for what? And who sent it here? Does it make sense, or is there an unknown automatic? It's not obvious...

    Fuck.

    Olga would have pleased to spit, but her mouth was dry. She put the capsule in the bag almost automatically. She crawled out, taking the wrench with her, and continued exploring. The emptiness and desolation made her shudder, and every sound seemed to be the footsteps of an ominous stalker.

    Further discoveries followed, like stingy gifts from a lean horn of plenty. First, Olga found the desired water in a bottle of strange crystal glass, which looked like cheap plastic. She was so thirsty that she tore off the tin lid and, after a quick sniff to see if it wasn't acetone, she downed a good gulp. It was only after she had gulped down at least a third of it that she realized that the transparent liquid could be anything. But it was too late to complain, so Olga finished half of it, and then, making a considerable effort, set the jar aside. She still had to get something to Kryp. The lid stubbornly refused to fit back on, so Olga gave up and left the bottle on the table for now. Deciding that she would find something to plug it up later.

    In the open table, which looked like a draftsman's machine, the girl finally found a knife and a roll of duct tape. Life immediately became a little more fun. Olga made an improvised belt out of a scrap of rope that looked like thick and shaggy postal twine, and tearing a dozen sheets from a notebook, made sheaths wrapped in duct tape, then hung them from the rope belt. She checked to see if the knife would fall out. It hadn't.

    The blade was interesting, very old, and worn in appearance, just like the old American "Ka-Bar" from the commercials. Olga assumed that it had been in use for more than a year, maybe decades. At one time it was longer and wider, with a distinct combat look. But it must have been broken, sharpened, and re-sharpened, so that in the end all that was left was an icicle-like fragment about a palm and a half long. The handle was plastic, treated with coarse sandpaper, and at the end of it, there was the same eagle stamped in hard plastic. The drawing was heavily frayed from time but retained recognizable outlines.

    They worshipped an eagle or something... An eagle and an ominous skull, in which a pinion had been embedded for some reason. This steampunk head was often found on plaques, which were bolted to every complex machine. Sometimes the plaques were limited to just an engraved pattern, sometimes they came with waxed scrolls or individual plaques of polished copper or brass, generally shiny and yellow. It didn't look much like instructions. No pictures, just the same Latin-like alphabet and lots of numbers. There was a diamond instead of a zero, and the other numbers were stylized too, but generally had recognizable features. The numbers were grouped and seemed to be repeated, but the girl had no time to deal with this cabbalism.

    Later.

    Olga sighed heavily and realized that she would have to search dead man. With the seeming confusion and chaos all around, everything of any value was thoroughly swept away. And there was no way to bandage Kryp with a dirty rag. And some medicine would come in handy. Olga took the bottle, weighed the wrench, and strode back, carefully avoiding the piles of broken glass and protruding strands of wire, spread out like a real prickly hedgehog.

    Something clicked, a piercing screech, and the rectangular grate under the ceiling, which Olga had mistaken for a vent, made a series of coughing sounds, then erupted into a stream of words. The player was damaged or was playing a ruined tape, the individual words were drowned in hoarse, background noises so that the speech seemed like gurgling soup. But it sounded solemn and more like a Catholic prayer from a historical movie.

    Olga grimaced and ducked back into the shadows, just in case. So far she had not seen anything that could pose a danger, but everything around her seemed so incomprehensible and alien that she imagined an insidious enemy masking his steps in the general background. The wheezing prayer stretched on endlessly, like gum in a comedy. Olga managed to get a little bored and wistfully thought that Kryp must be dead by now. Finally, to the accompaniment of some march, the wheezing ended, leaving behind a resounding echo that echoed unrealistically long in the empty corridors.

    In the echo was hidden the outside noise, which Olga heard literally in the last moments before the source emerged from the dark... alleyway? It was unclear what to call the alley, dark as a closet, branching away from the radial corridor. Something buzzed and rattled in there, like a massive chain that rattled with every step. The girl barely had time to hide again in the next room, full of offices with drawers pulled out and empty. The buzzer moved down the corridor, heading toward the balcony above the atrium. Something clangs at the door, and Olga holds her breath, gripping the handle of her knife.

    It passed by, noisily and very characteristically, as a small turbine, with a rustling whistle. Only the smell remained smoky and smoky, like from a boiler room. Olga was familiar with this smell from her old life. And it really did seem to reek of real smoke. Waiting until something was ten meters away, Olga quietly looked around the corner to see what was making so much noise. Here was a good time to be surprised, but the girl was dead tired of new impressions and only noted that another inconceivable shit was taking place.

    The thing was very visible from the "back," because it moved toward the light and stood out clearly against the corridor doorway. Most of all it looked like the top of a dried-up corpse. Almost like a recent mummy, only without clothes that had been shoved into a grating machine, pierced with dozens of spokes, wires, thin translucent tubes, and welded to a caterpillar chassis. The tracks were narrow and had a highly raised drive wheel in the middle of the track. "The head" of the self-propelled zombie was encased in a cubic grid, which in turn spread out flexible hoses on its sides, topped with excellent imitations of skulls. The skulls glowed with greenish eyepieces, one on each, as if they had belonged to one-eyed pirates in a former life. The hoses were in constant motion, spinning their skulls a hundred and eighty degrees.

    All this gave the unpleasant impression that the mysterious mechanism was looking around with deadheads. One could only marvel at the sick imagination of the sick freaks who had camouflaged the video cameras in such way. The "arms" of the self-propelled dead man ended in claws with extra hooks, like a junkie robot. Behind the "back" of the machine smoked black smoke from a cylindrical thing that looked like a bloated fire extinguisher, seemingly with a couple of gauges and an exhaust pipe that spiraled like a pig's tail in a children's book.

    The machine stopped, whirred, clicked its hooked grip, then turned slightly, twirling its tracks in different directions, and rolled briskly toward the corpse. Olga had an uneasy feeling that the skulls really "see," because the car was very carefully skirting the obstacles. Only broken glass crunched under the small links of the track. Inadvertently and without reason, she remembered that the caterpillar creep looked something like a garbage robot from a cartoon.

    The zombie tractor, meanwhile, reached the dead man. It stood for a while, puffing the cauldron behind its back, twisting its skulls. Something squeaked and tapped rhythmically in the deadheads as if there was a disk drive from the time of the prehistoric computers. Then one of the clawed "arms" shot forward with unexpected rapidity, extending like a telescopic fishing rod. It clawed at the corpse's leg. Without turning around, the machine moved back, repeating exactly its previous trajectory. The boiler hissed heavily, the smoke heavier, the hidden valve hissed loudly, and let out a jet of steam. The corpse dragged along, clinging to everything.
    Olga hid again, cursing heartily. The corpse's property was now crawling away in an unknown direction. Perhaps the dead man's car was more harmless than the automatic vacuum cleaner the cats ride on YouTube. Or maybe it wasn't. The girl wasn't going to find out, not even for poor Kryp's sake. And to tell the truth, right now the temporary companion made her think only negatively, as a heavy and useless burden.

    The caterpillars squeaked in front of the door. For a moment Olga thought the car was slowing down. Her heartbeat jump out of rhythm, but it didn't. Just a soft rustling of a limp body, whose movement was accompanied by the rustling of fabric. This led the girl to one very positive thought, all that remained was to wait until it could be verified. Olga waited, like Winnie the Pooh, for a little while. And then a little longer, until there was nothing left at all, in the sense until the noise of the zombie robot was silenced in the humming darkness. She looked out into the hallway.

    So it is, the machine dragged the dead man away for some reason, but was indifferent to his equipment, which, partially broken, was left scattered all over the visible path of the trail, where it was torn off the obstacles. Strange that the dead man had not been torn to pieces by wires and everything else.

    We'll live, thought the girl, trying on where to start.

    And then The Sound appeared.

    Olga was already used to the fact that hearing here is as overwhelming as vision. Wherever that "here" was. But everything she had heard before was either familiar or had a perfectly understandable nature. The noise of the wild crowd behind the wall. By the way, they hadn't been crawling through the tunnels that long, so this wild mob had to be around here somewhere! Technical noises, the rattle of the speaker, the squeak of a steam-powered buzzer.

    But this...

    The muffled moaning seemed to be born in the very center of something enormous that stretched around it, blossoming out of a single long note, multiplying with each passing moment. It was as if an entire chorus of hungry demons was picking up on the satanic conductor's lead shriek. No mechanism could have produced such a Sound. Only a living creature could wail so terrifyingly. In the lingering howl, one could clearly read the unthinkable anger, the utter hatred, the mortal threat. It was the way Death herself would announce that she was on the hunt for mortal souls.

    The sound suddenly ended, cut off at the highest note at the moment when Olga was already preparing to lose her hearing. All that remained was a ringing silence, even the mechanisms hidden around her seemed to fall silent in the terror.

    "Fuck your mom," Olga whispered. "A fucking circus with horses, faggots, and murderous clowns. When will it all end..."

    She crouched under the table, covered her head with her hands, and almost cut herself, forgetting that she was clutching a knife in her hand. She thought she was going to burst into tears of horror. But there were no tears, her eyes felt dry. And in her head, the thought rang insistently that she should go, that she should see what loot fell from the dead man.

    Because Kryp won't heal himself.

    Because it's not going to be easy to survive in a world where such a horrible thing can yell, so you have to collect every nail you can get your hands on.

    She must.

    * * *
    The Emperor Protects
     
  6. Threadmarks: Chapter 4
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 4

    With a sigh of relief, the girl closed the skull hatch, leaving the abandoned "atrium" behind. Hiding in a technical tunnel seemed silly on the one hand, but kind of safe on the other. And it was much warmer in here. Only now did she realize how cold she was. And she was glad of her one hundred and sixty-five centimeters, which made moving on her hands and knees through the pipe conditionally acceptable.

    Kryp lay motionless. Only his chest was heaving faintly beneath the mesh T-shirt. The face was faded, more gaunt, like a wooden mask, covered with a thin layer of wax. The yellow light of the "beer can" flickered alarmingly, ready about to change to red. The wounded man reeked of blood, sweat, and everything else that accompanies a bedridden patient who is not cared for with a bedpan. Olga was familiar with the smell, perhaps all too well. Her hands immediately went numb and trembled. Memories of the last days of her mother's life came flooding back. The guilt stung painfully again. The only and beloved daughter could have cared much better for a cancer patient. And no matter how many times you repeat that no, she could not, the conscience could not be soothed.

    The girl did not bother the poor man. Sitting down next to him, she laid out her findings in two rows against the concrete wall. A knife, a notebook, a crescent wrench, a bottle. A pencil case, which Olga decided to use as a container for sundries. Something that looked like an IIFS. It was thoroughly torn, but still usable. Thanks to a fucking zombie on caterpillars, damn it. Two bags of blue-green, coarse weave material that looked like a rough tarpaulin. One had a zipper with very large prongs, the other had stick buttons. Both were about the right size for a first aid kit, but she decided not to open them without Kryp. So, what else... A folding double-toothed fork on a loose rivet. The fork the girl after a brief moment's consideration slipped into her pocket. A knife was a knife, but as her experience had taught her, it was always a good idea to have something small and stubby.

    A dozen and a half tattered rags, which were something between woven napkins and vase liners. Five gray pencils of varying lengths, of very poor quality, but conditionally usable. If Kryp is going to last a little longer, we need to establish communication somehow, at least with pictures. The pencils fit comfortably in the pencil case.

    There was also a metal bottle, like an aluminum flask, in which something was familiarly overflowing. The inscription said "exerciti cibaria spiritus sublimatus," which was written on one side. Or "amasec erz." if the green letters on the other side were to be trusted. The container seemed unusual on one side and very familiar on the other. After some reflection, Olga realized what it was all about - the strictly military look of the "bottle." Stamping in everything, from the shape and rough seams to the stenciled letters. The bottle looked as if it was asking for a shelf in some godforsaken garrison, next to a revolver and a dry ration.

    The plug was wrong again. unscrewing in the opposite direction. Olga sniffed cautiously. It smelled of some kind of alcohol, very strong, very very strong. And a little bit of coffee, as if there had been put two or three packets of instant (and just as fake) Nescafe in the fake cognac. The girl dripped the thick, viscous liquid onto the tip of her fingernail. The smell intensified, becoming even more caffeinated, alcoholic, and fake.

    Considering that there were no drawings on the container and not a single familiar word on it, the "exerciti" could have been anything. It could be normal alcohol, poison for fleas, liquid for sweaty feet. Logically, Olga estimated the chances of running into methyl alcohol as relatively small. And she risked the next step in her organoleptic examination by licking a teal drop. The dark brown nastiness tasted as harsh as it smelled, but overall nothing that Olga had not encountered before. It was just very nasty booze.

    "Vodka, it's hard water," the girl quoted in a whisper as she finally got her breath back and wiped away the tears squeezed by the infernal elixir. It was getting warm, even hot.

    On the one hand, she wanted to take another shot. Just to calm down a bit. On the other hand, she needed to conserve her supply. The coffee crap could be used as an antiseptic. Besides, if it turned out to be a poison, it would be easier to recover from a small dose.

    Olga sat there for a couple of minutes, listening to the sensations and wondering if it was time to put two fingers in her mouth. The "amasec erz" left a nasty and lingering aftertaste, but nothing fatal.

    "Not so bad as "777"," she summed up, sniffed her nose, and continued her inventory. She did not remember the legendary Soviet drink because of her youth, but her stepfather remembered it in the mood as the standard of the God-awful booze of industrial bottling.

    Again a bundle of rags that could be unraveled into bandages. He didn't seem to have any open wounds, only fractures, and severe bruises, but it might come in handy. She should make him some kind of splint for his leg... Olga grimaced, figuring she had spotted a couple of appropriately sized poles. But now she would not go back for them for sure. Later.

    Something resembling rough hemp or a light version of glass wool. Finally, almost two liters of water were in a glass jar with a screw cap. The water was definitely not for drinking. The jar was found under a leaking pipe, and the liquid reeked of sludge and iron. But it was good for supposed hygienic procedures. The jar was also food for thought. The water did not evaporate and at the same time did not overflow. The jar had been put in relatively recently. Who and why had done this in the middle of an abandoned floor? Another mystery.

    There was still some small stuff left, which the girl took rather for the procedure, just to be on the safe side. Olga did not sort out the junk, deciding that it was time to wake Kryp. Especially since the light on the IV blinked more and more alarmingly. Only now Olga realize how exhausted she was. And the fact that her "experience" of being in this infernal circus numbered at most a few hours. Well, maybe a little more, considering the muddled consciousness during the process of dragging Kryp through the tunnels. She might have lost consciousness a couple of times there, but not for long.

    Olga rolled a makeshift pillow out of the bag and tried to put it under the wounded man's head. Then two things happened simultaneously - the "can" beeped and turned on the red light, and Kryp tried to kill her. Before his bloodshot eyes were even open, his relatively whole hand shot forward like a snake in a rush. The blow was aimed at her throat and would likely have finished the girl off, but Kryp was hampered by an awkward angle and a coordination problem. His fingers clamped together in a "plank" only to slip down her cheek. On the return move, the suddenly frisky half-dead man tried to grab at Olga's throat to strangle her, but the jerk burned the rest of Kryp's power, and the girl had no trouble getting free. The total damage was two abrasions, one on her cheek and one on her neck. And extremely strong WTF feeling.

    She recoiled as far as she could in the cramped tunnel from the crouched position on all fours. Her hand moved on its own to the hilt of the knife that still hung in its scabbard on her rope belt.

    "What the fuck."

    Kryp only now seemed to realize what had happened, his blank stare becoming a little more meaningful. The wounded man looked at his hand with roughly the same expression that Olga was looking at him.

    "I'll leave you now, you ungrateful jerk," she promised, pushing back a little more. The only thing stopping her was the fact that now Kryp was between her and the hatch with the skull cogwheel. And moving in the opposite direction, toward the stone crypt, was terrifying. She gripped the plastic handle of the old knife harder.

    "Nos paenitet," Kryp whispered, putting his palm forward. "Et noluerunt..."

    Olga looked at him for a long time, maybe half a minute, maybe longer. The girl had never considered herself an expert on human nature, one who reads unmistakably in the eyes and souls. But now she was ready to swear that Creep was ashamed and embarrassed. His cheeks even flushed a little, as pale as a poorly powdered dead man's.

    "An asshole." She said with passion. The man hardly understood, but the intonation was right again. He covered his eyes with the palm of his shaking fingers and turned away. Then his gaze fell upon the treasure along the gray wall. And the unbelievable happened - Kryp smiled. For the first time in all their brief acquaintance, as far as the girl remembered. Well, to tell you the truth, it was hard to call it a smile, and yet...

    "Nos autem qui dives," he whispered. "Tu es valde fortis. In tuo fortuna es pro nobis."

    And so it was clear that the words of sincere gratitude had been spoken. Olga hesitated some more and then decided that it was time to give forgiveness. Well, really, trying to kill her with malice would be beyond foolishness, considering Kryp's condition. Most likely the man had acted on automatic, instinctively defending himself in a confused state of mind.

    "And you're not so simple," Olga muttered to herself, remembering the swiftness with which Kryp had attacked. If it weren't for his general half-deadness, the girl would have remained a cooling corpse here. Apparently, the crappy dandy knew how to fight and how to kill.

    The first thing she did was to partially quench the wounded man's thirst. Very carefully, giving not water, but a soaked rag. The hell knew what was wrong with Kryp's insides and whether he could swallow. At least this way he wouldn't die of dehydration. Probably not. Then the man pulled the needle out of his neck with a look of hopeless longing, dropped the IV tube.

    "Exhausta," he exhaled. "Finis."

    Olga understood what "finis" meant without translation, answering briefly and vigorously:

    "Fuck that."

    Now was the time to show Kryp the contents of the pouches. She adjusted the roll under the man's head so he could see better, and then she showed him. The response was a second smile, even more, cheerful than the first. He was pleased with what he saw and with a faint movement pointed to that greenish bundle with buttons.

    Then Olga unzipped the pouch and took out the contents one by one, showing them to Crip. He either shook his head or nodded. It did seem to be a field first aid kit. It looked better on the inside than on the outside. Beneath the tattered cover was a sturdy, smooth, synthetic-looking fabric. The bottles and pencil cases were also several grades above what Olga had already seen here. A different quality of workmanship, a much finer and clearer typeface. And still no drawings, but there was a tiny emblem. It resembled the badge that hung around Creep's neck, only the vertical stick was a different shape. It had an extension at the top, and in the middle, instead of a skull, there was a picture of a fist clutching an apothecary scale.

    Taking medications and mixtures was another challenge. Cripe himself could not handle it properly with one hand, and Olga had no idea how to open and dose it all. However, after some minutes of muffled swearing in two languages and groans of pain, the wounded man managed to get what he saw fit. The healer carefully stowed the rest of the medicine aside.

    It's not like the first aid kit made much difference in Kryp's condition. But at least he was in no hurry to die, even without the IV. There came a moment that Olga was "anticipating" with a gnashing of teeth.

    "It's hygiene time," she said.

    Kryp, of course, did not understand. Neither did he understand later, when Olga chose rags that seemed cleaner and opened a jar of technical water.

    "Would you like a sip?" She offered the coffee booze to Kryp.

    Kryp smiled a third time and slowly shook his head with words:

    "No. Non autem templum ab anima, ad Imperatorem."

    "So, no is no." The girl agreed, took a sip for courage, and approached the patient.

    Kryp looked at her with a look of grim suspicion.

    "Come on," the self-proclaimed nurse chided him. "Your penis is not such a treasure."

    "O Deus meus," the guy whispered, realizing what awaited him.

    It was terrible and incredibly, excruciatingly hard. Harder than a self-loving strong man can only be a self-loving, strong man who has become helpless but he's still trying to seem strong. Kryp rolled his eyes in helpless anger, looked away, and suffered, it seemed, even more than from pain. Olga restrained herself with a frantic effort from covering him in a multi-story scolding. Because she was already having a hard time, and the patient was also actively disturbing her with his inappropriate shyness. But, at the very least, she managed to bring the patient into relative order. Very relative, but still a little better than before.

    As expected, Kryp had few actual wounds. Mostly bruises, or, rather, one solid and horrific bruise all over the left side of his body, from his foot to his collarbone. Olga thought again that the medicine here must be some kind of miraculous. Will is will, but, as the old paramedic at the clinic used to say, "you can't fuck with anatomy". If half of your body is a hematoma and at least three joints are broken... Anyway, another mystery, which she put on another shelf to "think later".

    "I'm done," Olga reported, at last tossing the used rags away. Pity, she didn't have a proper bag to tie the stinking garbage in. But what can she do?

    Kryp suffered silently, no longer flushed, but crimson, like the sun before sunset. But the nurse was not about to give him a break. She looked intently at Kryp. She poked herself in the chest with her finger and said firmly:

    "Olga."

    Kryp immediately understood where she was going and seemed happy to be able to forget about the hygiene procedures. The guy eagerly repeated and called himself back. The problem was that he couldn't seem to pronounce the "l" and "g" side by side, something was falling out. After a dozen unsuccessful attempts, he finally got it out with a distinctly questioning intonation, as if asking permission:

    "Olla."

    So named "Olla" chewed her lips and decided that that would be fine. The beginning of positive communication had been established. Here, however, problem number two appeared - just like the first time, the girl could not understand the quick shorthand with which Kryp had called himself. It was time for a notebook.

    He grasped the idea of communicating with pictures on the fly and happily. It took a few hard minutes for him to get comfortable enough to pick up the pencil without breaking or dropping it. Olga had to hold the notebook in her weight because Kryp could only act with one hand. It was uncomfortable, but they somehow adapted. The first thing the wounded man did was draw his name. Olga was more or less getting the hang of the local script, which was based on Latin with a few extra letters and all sorts of gothic-style trinkets.

    "Fidus?" The girl couldn't help but smile faintly. "Fidus Kryptman?"

    She found Kryp's name very funny. Considering how much the unfortunate man had endured, and the strength of spirit he had shown, his name had to be something special. Very heroic. Roland, say, or Richard the Lionheart.

    But Fidus? That was incredibly funny. And Olga decided to herself that she would still call him "Kryp". Fidus, meanwhile, sketched a female figure, the kind that very young children usually draw - a triangle as the torso, a round head without a neck, stick-arms, and everything else. He looked at Olga and suddenly winked. The girl realized that Kryp had imitated her and hummed. The joke, strictly speaking, was not so good, but in their situation, even a drop of optimistic humor sparkled as a real diamond. And it also occurred to her that the badly maimed Crip was not only keeping himself together but trying to cheer her up as best he could. It was worth the price, and it was respectful.

    Kryp, meanwhile, began to draw some mysterious crap. He was very tired, became even weaker, and had trouble holding the instrument, but he didn't give up. It looked like this smear of repeatedly crossed lines was very important. Fidus drew, biting his lip with eagerness and pain, and then passed out in an instant. He dropped the pencil stump and closed his eyes. Olga woke up, terrified that the guy was finally going to die. But all Crip did was fall asleep. This time he didn't go into another sick fainting state, he just fell asleep.

    Now that he'd been washed a bit, and his face had smoothed out in his sleep, free of the unrelenting grimace of pain, Fidus appeared very young. And even a little handsome. A face, perhaps, a little broad, a tawdry military haircut, the kind you see in movies of ancient Romans, little sideburns that looked with short hair like a straight in a gay club, or vice versa. But still, good-looking. And dangerous. Olga rubbed her neck and face where Kryp's stiff, wood-like fingers had brushed over it.
    She should disinfect it.


    Later.

    But later she could be dead.

    The alcohol burned the scratches like acid, which was good. So disinfection was more reliable. Olga thought about how she could wipe her face, and then she felt something small and hard in her pocket... That's right, she had completely missed it! A small mirror in a wooden frame, very crude and obviously homemade. It looked like someone had taken a burnt splinter and glued it to a piece of board, scraping the edges with a rasp. The girl had found the object by accident; someone had thrown it on the floor and even seemed to want to stomp on it, judging by the muddy footprints around it. Olga twirled the object in her hand, willing and afraid to look at herself. But then she did it. And tears came to her eyes.

    The girl had a pretty good idea of what she looked like. She was sweating profusely, covered in blood, dirt, and dust. But imagining is one thing, seeing for herself is quite another. From the cracked polygon in the reddish light of the lamps looked silently a horrible monster. It was filthy to no end and so disheveled that the ends of its dyed hair stuck out like needles in every direction. Her eyes were sunken into orbits, glistening out of the deep shadows with a feverish gleam like that of a hunted beast. Smears of dried blood stained the face like a wicked parody of Native American movies. The corners of his lips dipped downward as if they were glued on. It made her face look like a bad papier-mache mask. Olga did not even notice how her tears began to flow, one by one. The unfortunate girl realized she was sobbing only when she saw the thin streaks on the crust of dirt in the reflection. One tiny droplet fell on the glass as if it had evaporated, disappeared without a trace.

    The mirror surface trembled and rippled. Olga felt a slight prick in her fingers. It did not hurt, but it was unpleasant, like a weak electric shock. The mirror seemed to go blind. The reflection disappeared beneath a gray veil. In the depths of the mirror cataract, the outlines of something strange appeared - a shadow in the heart of another shadow, as if woven from thousands of obsidian needles... Then, at last, Olga dropped the trinket. It fell with a thump but did not shatter. She blinked, and it was as before. It was just a cheap and cracked trinket. She didn't want to take it in her hands again or look at her reflection in the red light, which did such tricks with shadows. The girl left the dubious find lying on the rough floor.

    The tears would not stop. Olga turned her back to the sleeping Creep, pulled her knees up to her chin, and hugged them tightly with her arms. Her joints ached, every muscle ached, her neck demanded a pillow, and she desperately wanted to bathe properly, but she could not waste water. There was less than a third of it left, and the Kryp was not going to get any cleaner. So she'll have to find more.

    And pillow...

    Her soul became very empty and very sad. The darkest hopelessness overwhelmed the mind, powerfully whispering "we're going to die, we're both going to die here...". Olga sobbed softly, not even trying to imagine how far her fate had taken her. More than anything, she wanted to die right now, so that all this would finally be over.

    * * *
    If you are knowledgeable about WH40k lore you could see that Kryptman is quite young. The author just split canonical Kryptman in two - Kryptman-father and Kryptman-son (and Kryptman holy spirit LOL)​
     
  7. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    THAT KRYPTMAN ? Poor girl.She should kill herself before he try mix her with tyranid or ork.Maybe both.
     
  8. Threadmarks: Chapter 5
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    It's a sign that an inquisitor is a bigger threat than a warp artifact.

    Chapter 5

    Olga completely lost track of time and decided that it was morning. It was logical in some way since there were no external markers, and the only clue was her awakening. Well, morning it was. The hygiene routine consisted of wiping the face with water (about the size of a spoon) and another act of grooming Crip. At this point, we were out of running water and rags. There wasn't much drinking water left.​

    Fidus got worse again, feverish, and had brief bouts of delirium for a couple of minutes at a time. Kryp roll his eyes and mutter something incoherently, and then he didn't seem to remember any of it. All the more ominous were the bouts of vigorous activity the patient tried to develop in the intervals of wakefulness. He continued to scribble abstract shit, and at the same time, he was rambling something to Olga in his half-French. With difficulty, the girl realized that Fidus needed his cloak. She cursed again and fetched the armored rag. She realized at the same time how much she had weakened in the past ... hours?... day? Calories seemed to have been expended in a rush. And hunger she did not feel, probably the stress blocked her natural reflexes. Only a nasty feeling of pulling weakness, when the usual actions required unexpected efforts, and the cloak dragged on the concrete floor as if a dead man had been wrapped in it.​
    And the feeling of filth, of uncleanness, was infuriating. Sweat, blood, vomit, dust. It was as if everything mingled into some kind of substance, spreading like an ugly wrap all over my body. A bath... at least a shower... God, just a basin of warm water and a ladle. The moment Olga decided to negotiate with the universe for a bucket of cold water and a mug, the cloak finally lay down next to Kryp.​

    Fidus passed out again, dropped his writing utensils, mumbled something fast and often. He came to, just as suddenly and abruptly, and poked around blindly. Olga silently handed him a crumpled, tattered sheet of a notebook, painted like an absurdist's canvas. But this wasn't enough for Kryp, and he gestured toward her knife. Olga thought a moment, and, shrugging her shoulders, moved farther away, so that the sick man could not get at her with a guarantee. She pulled an old worn Ka-Bar out of its magazine sheath and tossed it to Fidus. He began to do the odd thing - he tried to slash his cloak. It worked badly. Olga was in no hurry to help, remembering that the fellow in misfortune might at any moment go back into the state of an insane murderer.​

    Kryp, meanwhile, was poking his armor stubbornly with a knife, seemingly trying to tear away the lining. And he finally succeeded, though towards the end of the painful operation sweat was pouring down from the patient like a hail. Fidus, on his third attempt, pulled out of a hidden, tightly sewn pocket ... something. He handed it to Olga. Noticing that she was in no hurry to move closer, guiltily and understanding smiled, or rather, grimaced in a painful parody of a smile. He pushed the knife in her direction and, waiting for Olga to take the stabbing, held out something again.​

    It looked something like a credit card, but it was about one and a half times bigger and closer to a square in shape. It was very heavy for its size. Shaking the plate, Olga suddenly thought that the thing looked like gold. At least in color and weight. She wanted to try it on the tooth, whether or not it would leave a dent, it would surely leave a dent on the gold. One side of the credit card was polished to a mirror finish, and the other was covered with patterns that looked as if they had been hammered out by hand with a very small chisel. The pattern clearly had some sort of order and system, but abstract, completely incomprehensible to Olga.​

    "And what is that?" She asked more as a formality, not expecting an understandable answer.​

    Kryp seemed pleased that she had taken the gold item and slipped the girl a sheet of paper torn from her notebook. He added his chain badge, with a stick and a skull. He said something again, with a slurred tongue. The boy was getting worse, his speech was becoming muddled. Olga honestly looked at the smear, wistfully thought that the companion, it seems, had become quite bad. She looked again. She turned it sideways, then the other way around.​

    "Ogo," she whispered.​

    "Imperatoris gloriam," exhaled the exhausted Cripe, and he lost consciousness, now for a long time.​

    "Man, you're such a genius," Olga automatically quoted some action movie character, and which one she couldn't remember even on death's doorstep.​

    Kryp drew not just a doodle, but a very detailed map. He sketched levels, indicated some landmarks, and dotted the route. At the end he drew, as best he could, the same eagle with his wrong hand. I guess, as a symbol of the successful completion of the route.​

    Olga looked at the gold plate than at the map then in reverse order.​

    "What the fuck is there to do?" She asked rhetorically into the space and called the medallion a "paiza" to herself.​

    The monstrous hologram still broadcasts a star and a beautiful space of chemically pure colors. The atrium was still deader than dead. There were no zombie machines, and the girl wondered if everything was a figment of her imagination, multiplied by fatigue and hunger. The invisible crowd behind the walls of the "tomb," the asshole tractor with the mummy, and all that.​

    She adjusted the backpack, made from a duffel bag with two crossed pieces of rope, over her shoulders. She adjusted the scabbard and knife to make it more comfortable. She covered the hatch more carefully and started walking, glancing at the map every moment. Olga left the man the first aid kit and shoved the last clean rag moistened with the rest of the water into her mouth. At least it would ease the sufferer's thirst for a while. Honestly, Olga was beginning to get tired - really tired - of her companion. It was all too... heavy. Too much.​
    The plaque hung around her neck, and the gold plate was in her pocket, along with a mirror. But after a few steps on the stone tiles of the floor, the girl suddenly felt a burning sensation. And it was rapidly increasing. In a few seconds, when she realized that it stung in the side, the burning turned into a sharp pain, as from a red-hot needle. Pushing her hand into her pocket was terrifying. It was very hot! And Olga danced on the spot, squirming and bending to shake it all out. The plate rattled deafeningly against the stone with frayed symbols. The mirror fell out next, as if reluctantly. Surprisingly, it hadn't broken even now.​

    Olga squatted down, carefully checked the plate with her fingertip, then the mirror. Quietly she was shocked because the plate seemed only slightly warm as if warmed by the heat of her body. The mirror, on the contrary, was icy, as if it had been kept in a freezer.​

    "Shit happens," summed up the owner of the strange things confusedly. And, cautiously, she put the things in her pockets. Individually, the gifts behaved peacefully, without any temperature glitches. The mirror quickly returned to normal and no longer chilled through the thin fabric. Olga unscrewed the pocket and found that the fabric was not even darkened, though earlier it had stung so badly that she could have expected at least a good hole with charred edges.​

    "Miracles," she said because there was nothing more to say. She wanted to get rid of the mirror, to avoid any excesses. But the thing seemed very cozy, one might say quiet and familiar.​
    It would come in handy she decided, and she strode on. According to the drawing, she was to go deeper into the labyrinth of interior rooms, then down two levels and through a long corridor. Next was either an elevator or a long ladder. Then either a warehouse or some hangar, and then according to the signs. SheShe was still terribly thirsty, but the ray of hope fed her no worse than a life-giving battery. With every step, Olga felt a burst of energy, and in general, life became not so hopeless.​

    And at least for a while, she didn't have to worry about Krypp worrying if he was going to die in her arms right now.​

    By the time you get back, he's already been dead. One less thing to worry about.

    The thought was surprisingly clear as if it had been whispered directly into her ear. Olga even shook her head, trying to see the advisor behind her back. The concept sounded unpleasant but quite reasonable. And also, turning around, the girl noticed that her footprints remained on the dusty tiles, clear and sharp as if stamped with glowing lilac paint. Like in a club, when the paint begins to glow under ultraviolet light. The effect did not last long, each print of a cheap sneaker lasted two or three seconds at most. So a couple of blinks and it's gone. Olga took a few test steps - no result. Look likes it was the illusion of a tired mind.​

    "When you see a flying witch don't be worry it's a glitch. Fuck off, Harry Potter." Decisively ordered Olga and stomped a couple more times to make sure the lilac glitches were illusory. As expected, nothing happened. The girl wandered on, optimistically hurrying as best she could.​

    The journey was ... not easy.​

    Olga was not sure where she was. On the one hand, her surroundings were quite reminiscent of an old abandoned building. Capital buildings, concrete walls, low ceilings. Everything was solid, sturdy, reliable. On the other, capital buildings alternated with some iron trusses, riveted lattices, and in general, everything reminded of sci-fi movies of the eighties. And if you look closely, the concrete in some places looked like a rough, roughly ground stone of a specific structure. The geometry was not very good either. At one moment the corridor was suddenly going up by a side branch at an angle of thirty degrees, or even more. At other times a dead conveyor evidently of transport purpose protruded from the side passage with its broad tongue against the common sense and perceptions of normal movement. For the most part, the staircases were ordinary, but in some corners they were a series of platforms, flowing from one to the other by gentle descents and ramps.​

    The further on, the more Olga was covered by a strange feeling that she was walking underground. In a system of caves, which were treated from the inside, supplemented with artificial rooms and passages, and the cavities were filled with metal structures ... and bricks. Yes, there were a lot of bricks, they were fastened with a mortar that resembled toothpaste of a poisonous green color.​

    The dark brown cubes were also reinforced. In some places, the corners and edges were chipped from time and other wear and tear, so that metal bars protruded through the dense structure. It was the sight of these bricks that gave Olga a real chill down her spine. The logic of such architecture seemed inhuman and abnormal, if only in terms of labor costs. While everything around was definitely built by people and for people. But by very strange people for the same strange inhabitants. Who, for example, for some reason changed the normal clockwise stroke to a mirror reflection.​

    Will Kryp, when he comes to his senses, be able to manage the first aid kit?​

    He will die. He'll spare you the trouble. And it won't be your fault.

    Twice she got lost. She had to go back and take a long time to find the right turn. After the second time, when Olga only miraculously managed to get back to the right intersection through a suite of empty, dusty offices that looked like identical cardboard boxes, she began marking the turns with a piece of something that looked like chalk. At least it smeared a greasy white color and didn't crumble right in her hands.​

    Along the way, Olga managed to get a couple of other little things, like a jumbled skein of thin wire, a pile of rags, and a work jacket. She threw the jacket over the backpack, as the dirty yellow garment was an unreal large size. There was also a welding glove, with a separate index finger, and an old, partially crumbled rubber rope and such. The backpack got heavy, the ropes digging into her shoulders, almost intolerable. Then Olga found water, about half a liter in a glass bottle. And drank it whole, snorting with pleasure and dropping drops from her parched lips. Life immediately sparkled with new colors.​

    She even got up the courage to look at herself in the mirror. The cloudy surface reflected an unwashed, but not deprived of a pretty face with firmly pressed lips and a stern look. Olga was astonished - her eyes had always been a sore subject for her. They seemed blue but had an unpleasant whitish hue. So much so that her brother (let the bastard die of syphilis, she automatically and habitually wished, twitching) called them "zombie eyes. And her mother, as long as she was alive, took pity on the girl, who "didn't have enough sky in her eyes". Now ... apparently the light was so refracted or what the hell was going on with the optics, but the reflection looked at the original with big eyes of the amazing cornflower color of incredible purity and richness​

    It was mystical... but she liked the new look, so she was even more invigorated. She even tried to whistle, but the sound echoed around her, piercing the empty corridors. She felt uncomfortable. It was scary, too.​

    "Wow," Olga exhaled around another corner.​

    Here began another lane of metal architecture, walls of wide sheets of metal with peeling paint and numerous rust stains. A fairly wide corridor led forward, directly to the elevator, which, according to Crip's scheme, was what Olga needed. On the right side, an irregular row of doors ran more like ship hatches. At any rate, there was a steering wheel sticking out of each, and it was locked with something resembling a car steering wheel lock. Bundles of thick cables dangled rather untidily from the ceiling on rope loops instead of hooks or boxes. From each loop hung a strip of what looked like cardboard, only thinner and sealed with sealing wax, like the post office. And on the left... On the left, the iron wall looked as if it had been broken through with a giant nail.​

    It looked like a missile, only about the size of a railroad train wagon and a complex hatch instead of a spearhead. The metal walls of the "wagon" were blackened and stained with what looked like scale. The missile looked as if it flew in from outside, stuck in the iron wall, and ... Olga looked closely. Yes, the hole was sealed with some kind of foam, like either sealant or porous silicon. It seemed to pour out of several rows of dark holes that ran in rings along the gray sides of the projectile. That is, the bomb pierced the solid wall, sealed the breach, opened the steel face releasing something ... But what exactly?​

    She didn't want to go near the wagon. But it was impossible to go around it. And Olga had a strong feeling that the third time she was sure to get lost. The projectile seemed dead, cold. In general, on closer examination, it looked more like some kind of earthmoving machine. At any rate, between the sealant holes and the petal hatch were the remains of intricate construction. Tubing sticking out in front, mostly torn off when the wall was pierced. Thick soot and drips of cooled metal on the floor showed that the car had either been incinerated or had naturally burned its way through the wall.​

    No, they're definitely underground? But then why the sealant?​

    Again she wanted to swear, but Olga restrained herself. Not out of tact or politeness, but out of simple fear. She took the knife and took a tiny step forward. Then another, listening. Nothing.​

    Silence.​

    By the way, the elevator at the end of the corridor also seemed dead, which meant trouble, because somehow there were no alternative stairs ahead. However, it was reassuring too - if someone got out of the carriage, it was probably long gone. Small steps, holding the knife at the ready, Olga went around the hatch, pressed against the opposite wall. She peeked inside.​
    The girl had never seen anything like it, so she could not compare it with anything and could not understand its functionality. Thick walls, some hangers, handrails, instruments, or rather boxes that could be mistaken for instruments. Nothing modern, no displays, just gauges, dials, and mighty lever rods. A few very dim orange lights were blinking, and in the back of the train, the wiring was sparkling, which suggested that the breakdown hadn't happened that long ago, after all. Maybe not so long ago. There was no insignia but an oval plaque screwed to one of the hatch doors from the inside. The plaque had a pattern on it - a double arrow in a circle.​

    The longer Olga looked at this techno monstrosity, the more she began to feel that there was some system in the machine, moreover, people traveled in it, only... Only everything inside was designed for people about one and a half times more than usual. The handrails were too thick, the levers too long. A normal hand wouldn't be able to grip it, and the fingers wouldn't close.​
    It's such weird bullshit...​

    From a rational point of view, she should have climbed inside to see if she could find anything useful. However, the girl really didn't want to do that. She just didn't want to. And, besides, given the size, she was unlikely to find anything practical for herself there. Olga sighed - in the past hours (days?) here it had become a depressingly habitual action (as well as the usage of mostly obscene language) - and went on, leaving the amazing miracle of the technology behind.​

    As might be expected, the elevator did not work. The wide platform with its high handrails froze, unresponsive to the jerking of a lever and attempts to find any switch. The shaft rose upward in a dark, ominous column, toward a point of yellowish light. Either faint in itself, or very distant. There were rather deep grooves in the two opposite walls. One with a smooth pole, the other with a ladder, so that one could go up and down even with the elevator running.​

    "Oh, fuck," the girl whispered as she imagined the inevitable climb. It wouldn't have been easy in her normal state without a safety net, without a visible place to rest. And now, for a deadly tired, hungry, and, frankly, not the strongest man in the world ... One thing was good - Fidus's scheme was more or less correct. So next up, then either a warehouse or a hangar, then another long walk, almost to the edge of the sheet. And the end of the road with an eagle at the end.​

    "Fuck... why is everything so fucked up?" Olga asked the dark emptiness with wistful hopelessness. In response, only a faint humming of the breeze generated by the draft of air. Very apropos thought that the young woman, reflected in the mirror a bit earlier, would not give a damn about these problems and acted decisively, boldly. With such a stern bright look - definitely. To be sure, Olga pulled out the glass and was surprised, here, in the semi-darkness, the eyes are not just sparkling, but as if glowing. Very bright and very beautiful.​

    It's a nice thing, she should definitely keep it. It's hers now, anyway.​

    "Ah-ah-ah..." Olga said vigorously but quietly, tired of cursing, and took hold of the bar starting a long climb.​

    * * *​
     
  9. Threadmarks: Chapter 6
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 6

    It was hard, and then harder, and by the end it was unbearable. But still, she made it, though her fingers were sluggish and scratchy by the end of the long climb, and her arms felt cotton and aching at every joint. Once she almost fell off and only by some miracle caught herself, hanging on like a tree-hugging monkey. She paused briefly a couple of times as she climbed, thinking aloof that she wouldn't have been recognized in the old hairdressing salon now. A dirty, swearing girl with disheveled, straw-colored hair. The simplification to the original state happened naturally and almost imperceptibly. That's all right when it was all over, then she could be a well-mannered and cultured lady again. In the meantime, Olga only strengthened herself in the idea that the old habits and reflexes here would be more useful than the skills of civilized city life.​

    We made it. This seems to be the way to write on the ruins of Berlin. Well, or rather, we crawled. I crawled. Olga lay on the concrete floor for a while, feeling too exhausted and tired even to sleep. Besides, she was freezing - there was an icy draught in the elevator shaft, which sucked the heat through the leather and tarpaulin like a leech.​

    Now there's another fucking hatch... God, what a bunch of assholes built this place.​

    Another hatch on a double hinge opened with a faint rustle. The thick "pancake," which looked like a triple-thick sewer cover, came away smoothly, heavily. A passage opened inside. It was dark and dusty behind the riveted round hole. But it seemed a little warmer. Olga gripped the hilt of the knife in the sheath from the magazine with duct tape tighter and climbed inside. She tried not to think about what might be waiting for her. And what if Kryp was wrong. Or she'd misinterpreted his scheme, sketched out with a trembling hand. Or ...​

    "Fuck," the girl repeated once more, squeezing through the narrow aisle and thinking that for fifteen real years and three attributed, it was all too harsh.​

    Exactly, a warehouse, just as painted. Olga had never seen anything like that in her life. Except in the Harry Potter movies mentioned earlier today. The room seemed enormous. No, even gigantic. It seemed so because both the sides and the ceiling were hidden in semi-darkness. "Semi," because there was some kind of light, though-some kind of fluorescent tube light fixtures, attached at regular intervals. Stuck on... Who the hell knows? Frames? Racks of infinite height?​

    Olga gritted her teeth and covered the hatch's heavy tab, leaving a small slit, glowing red. So that she could find her way back afterward. The girl hoped it would not be necessary and she would soon be rescued. But short experience with the locals had already shown that "shit happens" or something like that. Olga clutched herself into a ball behind something that looked like a toolbox about waist high. And tried to assess the disposition with a more rational and attentive eye.​

    A rational and attentive observation showed that the warehouse was even larger and higher than it first appeared. The draughts were in the aisles and howled overhead like in a cave. Racks of shelving occupied all the visible space, similar to the product racks in hypermarkets like Ikea. Except that most of the items on them were not boxes, but laboratory-looking glass vessels. Jars, flasks with intricately curved spouts, and bulky jugs. Some were empty, some with powders and crystals. Some sparkled with all sorts of liquids of unnaturally bright colors.​

    Most of the bottles, as far as Olga could see, were numbered, and the tags were not glued, but tied with string, like the prescriptions in the old pharmacies. Some of the bottles were even handwritten on the glass with felt-tip pens. Rows of these glass bottles stretched up and down as long as she could see. And, judging by the thick layer of dust, whatever alchemist had mixed his elixirs, he hadn't touched the warehouse in at least a couple of years. In the distance, something boomed, at regular intervals, like a big wheel turning a hammer. At any rate, that was Olga's first association - the measured twisting and rhythmic "boom-boom-boom" of something heavy.​

    It's all questionable... and dangerous. She wanted to sneeze and swear again. Olga could hardly keep herself from doing both. It was creepy. Not scary, but creepy, like being in a crypt. And cold, probably from the draughts.​

    Boom. Boom. Boom.​

    Olga realized that the knocking was coming, booming closer and closer. And in the direction of the booms, a light flared up, a familiar bright light like the LED lights she was used to. The girl squirmed even more behind the box, feeling the coldness of the fluted tin. God, if only it were Kryp's friends... She ran her hand over the "zipper," feeling the heavy gold "credit card" in her closed pocket. Which to show, the plate or the badge on the chain? Probably the skull.​

    The boom, meanwhile, came closer, and now it was clear that it was really footsteps and some disproportionately heavy ones at that. It sounded like a diver rattling his leaden boots. Big Daddy from BioShock? That's what it sounds like, very similar, only without the rumbling. And not at all like the help one would expect. A bright light flickered in the dark corners, reflecting brightly on the hundreds of flasks. The girl squeezed the badge that hung around her neck, pulled slightly in indecision.​

    "Oh," she articulated silently, with only her lips.​

    The girl was used to being in a place where miracles lurked at every corner, only not miraculous, but scary and very crazy. But this was not what she had expected. Yes, they were really footsteps. And yes, there was really only one entity walking, very heavy in appearance. Other than that... It made her want to rub her eyes and wake up.​

    He stood about fifteen meters away, maybe even closer, separated from Olga by five or six rows of alchemical tables. Huge, like the room itself. Not just huge... Perhaps the most accurate word here is "cubic." An anthropomorphic-looking giant that seemed equally extended in height and width, and in depth as well. He was about two and a half meters tall, or rather more, and seemed to be made of straight lines, angles, and geometrically regular circles of varying diameters. Armor, yes definitely armor, but somehow abnormal, unnatural. As if the wearer escaped straight from a Korean online game, where everything is exaggerated, oversized, to immediately reveal the level of the player. Giant boots extending to the feet, hypertrophied shoulder pads, cubic knapsack with nozzles behind. And ... yes, good lord, a real axe behind that satchel. The axe was just like a Viking's, only about the height of Olga, that is, six feet or so.​

    The helmet, which looked like the hoplite bucket from "Troy" with Brad Pitt, glowed with two green lights in place of the eye slits. It seemed very small in comparison to the other details. From the satchel behind his shoulders protruded a boom with three of the brightest lights, which rotated independently of one another like lighthouse lights. So that was who was sitting in the earthmoving wagon... Yes, a giant like that would have had a lot to do with that projectile. Maybe even more than one, if you put them in a line.​

    The giant stood for a long minute or two, almost motionless, with only the creaking and clicking of something inside the armor, as if the MMO knight had been wound up like a clock with a spring. And there was enough light, so Olga could see the stranger close enough, right down to the emblem on his right shoulder - two arrows in a circle. The spotlight above her helmet buzzed, spinning.​

    Olga pressed her lips into a tube and exhaled slowly, preparing to come out of her hiding spot.​

    And then everything happened very, very fast.​

    All three lights rotated, merging their blindingly white beams into one, and out of the half-light came... something. A jagged figure with a perfect Gigerian outline that crawled between the racks, spreading its arms and legs and grasping its hands. It was something long and multi-jointed. With claws that looked like both sickles and hooks. The Hulk stepped forward extending both arms, and the barrels extended with clang over his heavy gauntlets. A funnel-shaped nozzle on his left arm, something thick and perforated on his right.​

    The image was literally imprinted on the retina of Olga's eyes. Two figures, frozen for a tiny fraction of a second in the painfully bright white light. A man and a demon. And then another multi-fingered shadow condensed into the darkness above the titan's head. It leaped from somewhere above and swooped down like a hunter spider. A third ghoulish creature slid behind the giant's back, sprawled out at the very floor, clawing at the frequent fine grating. Olga opened her mouth, feeling a thin thread of saliva slide down her lip and chin.​

    The leaping demon broke the boom with the spotlights, grabbed all his limbs at once in the shoulder pads and the backpack. Here was where the giant surprised me. Before, it had moved with a kind of majestic slowness. Now... Olga didn't even realize what the attacked rescuer had done, so fast it all happened. He waved his arms, and in the next instant, the spider-like monster from Giger's albums was already flying toward his colleague. The giant ripped it off, along with the small debris of its armor, spun it in a half-turn, and hurled it like a hurling cannonball. The two monsters crashed into each other with a bone-rattling clang, entangled by their long limbs. The rack shuddered, and the bottles fell in a sparkling waterfall, making the hall resound with the clear, crystal sound of shattering glass.​

    The Ambal turned around with unnatural speed for his size and mass. So that the attackers, one plus two, were strictly at his sides. He stretched his massive arms out to his sides and fired both barrels on his forearms. The thick thing with holes in it turned out to be a shotgun or something, and the flamethrower-like nozzle was really a flamethrower. The thick thing with holes in it turned out to be a shotgun or something, and the flamethrower-like flamethrower was really a flamethrower. A sheaf of buckshot ripped through the clutching freaks, ripping chunks of something soft and disgustingly flabby out of them. The flamethrower snorted a bright yellow fountain, covering the third with perfect accuracy. The target only rattled, shrieked, somehow mechanically, not like a living thing. That was the end of the fight. Olga wanted to clap her hands. The hell knows what kind of person was hiding under the thick iron, but wild creatures of the spider kind were definitely much worse. Now she was willing to believe that the bruiser represented the forces of good. Olga opened her mouth, intending to...​

    From the yellow wall of raging fire flew a sprawling shadow. Dropping drops of liquid flame, the creature leaped at the knight, thumping furiously with all its paws, tearing the outer covering off, breaking the wrist weapon. The fire seemed to do little or no harm to the hard outer covering. And from behind came a tangle of what seemed to claw alone - numbers one and two attacked again, coherently, as one fighter about a dozen paws. A sickle-shaped claw cut the giant's legs beneath the knees. It seemed - though it was impossible! - that the blow pierced the armor, even though it looked very thick, invulnerable to the sturdiest bone. And yet ... apparently the claws of the "spiders" were not so simple.​

    For the first time in the short battle and during the observation, the giant made a sound unrelated to the workings of the suit of armor. Through the visor came a shriek or a growl, wrenched by a sharp flash of terrible pain. It sounded very... human. In the next instant, the giant toppled over onto his back in a short backward roll, crunching the two clawed creatures. And, like a pro wrestler, he tossed the clawed one over himself, clutching at his cuirass and arms. Rolled obliquely, over his head and shoulder, though Olga never understood how the giant had managed to do it with the hump of his shoulder pack and his axe. No, though, when the titan rose to his feet, the axe was already in his hands.​

    Olga did not notice how she gripped the hilt of the knife with a death grip. The solid, imposing "Ka-Bar" seemed tiny, harmless, very funny compared to the fierce battle of the giants, each of whom could probably kill a man with a careless blow.​

    The nearest monster took advantage of its closeness to its target and stepped into a clinch, grasping the axe. The giant swung forward at once, as in a good street fight slamming his helmet into the long, knotty fingers, smashing them against the steel forehead. Without losing a moment, the knight swung his axe free from the enemy's grip. An axe as tall as Olga's painted a curve, knocking down another rack. And, in a rain of splinters that showered down on the fighting men in a sparkling waterfall, it fell on the enemy's head.​

    Olga crouched behind the crate, the force of the blow seemed terrifying, even from the outside. The monster's head, which looked like both a deformed skull and an onion, was covered with bone plates, like a prehistoric amphibian, but the bone did not withstand it. The axe went between the eyes at the base of the blade, splitting the monster's head like a wooden deck. The strange creature somehow immediately picked up, curled six long hilted arms toward its abdomen, tucked its short, segmented tail into something compact. And froze. Round eyes rolled out on short stalks, like those of a crab, and the red dots of its pupils darted in different directions.​

    Contrary to expectation, the giant did not attempt to free the weapon wedged in the ugly skull. And the big man was moving noticeably slower now. The blow to the legs was not in vain. But the fighter had no intention of giving up. He turned around so that his back was to the rack. At least for a moment, he protects himself from an attack from the back. And took another demon literally on the chest. He stop the attack with two swifts, "boxing" strokes, held a beautiful technically flawless hook to the right. So that the creature, whose skin was still smoking after the flamethrower salvo, flew off into another flight sweeping away another row of bottles. The battlefield was already covered with a thick layer of broken glass, which squeaked and squealed protestingly with every step of the fighters. The fight was silent. The fighters remained silent, except for the beastly hiss of the torched creature and the scream of the knight's pain. Only the gnashing of armor, the creaking of bone plates, and the deafening rumble of the destruction of the entourage.​

    But the giant missed the next attack, because of his injured legs. The spider clawed at his shoulder pads, flailed his middle pair of limbs with the biggest claws. And tore off a piece of the mask of the helmet. The knight cried out again, now, without the armored barrier, his voice sounded quite human. But the warrior continued the fight. Locking his opponent's short neck in a wrestler's grip, the giant turned and settled down so that he was pressing the creature with his full weight, then began pounding on the bulbous head with his enormous fist. Like a wrestler in an arena. Except it wasn't a fake fight, it was a real fight, full force, to the death. The armored gauntlet went up and down, the multi-legged monster jerked convulsively, with such force that it tossed the big man, who weighed a few cents. But the warrior only tightened his grip, working with the clarity and force of a sledgehammer. A punch, another punch.​

    The creature hissed and opened its mouth, stretching out a long tongue that opened at the end with a bundle of thin tentacles. It launched itself into the broken helmet, probing for a face. The anthropomorphic fighter responded by shoving an armored palm right into its jaw, knocking out small, sharp, piranha-like teeth. He pushed forward, overcoming the demon's frantic convulsions. He seemed to go into a frenzy, flailing the huge man wherever he could.​

    Out of the darkness came the vile face of the third "spider". The monster crept leisurely very low literally cowering over the glass crumbs. It was as if it were sacrificing a fellow-creature, winning an opportunity for a successful attack. And the giant either didn't see death creeping up. Or was ignoring the monster, planning to finish the task at hand first.​

    The tentacle seemed to find living flesh beneath the shattered armor. It tensed, and it jawed like the oesophagus in an anatomical chart. Blood spurted from the shattered visor. And almost simultaneously, the fighter fumbled at the base of the "tentacle," squeezed and tugged as hard as he could. Or maybe the broken shotgun on his forearm worked, it was not very clear from the side. Either way, the second demon went limp. Its jaws opened like a mitten, spewing a stream of murky, bubbling liquid onto the floor and knight's leg. Round balls of eyes popped out on slimy stalks just like the previous one. This must have been how the body reacted to death, relaxing some muscles.​

    The third demon rushed forward. With a slight movement, unexpected for such a large creature, it partly sidestepped, partly deflected the outstretched arm with which the knight was trying to stop the attack. And hit.​

    Even Olga noticed this blow. Because there was no longer the same speed in the movements of the thoroughly battered monster. So the knight would have been able to either dodge or counterattack by choice. But the warrior was wounded, the suit gaping holes. And the big man in the strange armor missed the attack. A long claw, no less than two of Olga's palms, stung like a stiletto into the gap between the collar of his cuirass and the base of his helmet. The six-legged spider, which had already lost one of its limbs, stubbed its three "legs" into the lattice floor, tensed its ugly body, and, with its tail vibrating with exertion, jerked toward itself, literally ripping the giant's helmet and head off.​

    Strangely enough, there wasn't much blood even after that. Two thoughts were woven together in her head. The first was that ыру had to get out of here. The second was not to be discovered. The mutant spider had managed to shut the amazing knight out, and he'd swat her in a heartbeat.​

    Olga crouched even more behind her flimsy shelter. Though it seemed physically impossible. She literally tucked herself into a knot of thin bones, muscles, and dirty clothes. She clutched the hilt of her knife, knowing that if the creature suspected an uninvited onlooker, it would be easier to stab herself with it. The beast, meanwhile, crunched and squeaked with broken glass. Metal clanked. Then a series of heavy blows began as if a butcher's axe was hammering at an iron stake. Olga did not even pray, just lay there in a tense knot, trying, as best she could, to breathe slowly, measuredly. And not to wet herself with terror.​

    There's that grinding sound again. And the dragging of something heavy. The dim lighting, the smell of death. And something chemical that made her eyes water. Olga closed her eyes, repeating to herself "I'm in hell, I'm in hell... God help me...". And so, word by word, she fell into a kind of trance, mingled with infinite horror and at the same time disbelief in what was happening.​

    It's a dream. It's just a bad dream.

    She did not know how long she had lain there in a half-lucid state. Just at one moment, she realized that she hadn't heard anything for a long time. Nothing at all. Only the measured drips from the many liters of broken bottles, some of which remained on the racks, oozing their contents.​

    It took a long time to pull herself together and see what was behind the box. But still, Olga managed to do it. And ... there was nothing. That is, the mess remained. The crumbling rows of racks remained. Thousands of broken dishes remained. A large pool of blood, shimmering dully on the shards under the light of the blue-green tubes.​

    And that's it.​

    At that moment, the girl discovered a whole new dimension of fear she had never known before. Because with clear clarity she understood. These monsters resembled both spiders and ugly mutants with six-legged tails and hydrocephalic heads, like aliens from an unknown hell. They were not animals.​

    Only a creature endowed with intellect could carefully cover its tracks and remove the bodies, evidence of a fierce battle.​

    Olga slowly crawled on all fours to the hatch. Slowly, on all fours, because her legs were trembling. And it was scary to raise her head, every moment she thought that now from the semi-darkness would follow the crushing blow of a sickle-shaped claw, capable of crushing armor two fingers thick.​

    * * *​
     
  10. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    She was either wery lucky,or those things are following her.She really need a lot of dakka.
     
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  11. Kell of Snow

    Kell of Snow Snowy is a good doggo.

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    I can’t tell if that Terminator had the misfortune of fighting 3 carnifexes or 3 lictors, but either way he put up one hell of a fight.

    also, the mirror/warp artifact aligned to any particular entity, or is it just an ambient artifact that’s gained warp influence due to its age / other potential natural factor?
     
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  12. Threadmarks: Chapter 7
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    It's the luck of isekaited hero. Someones use it for harembuilding, another one for surviving.

    It's Slaanesh.

    Chapter 7

    The tension and fear were manifested by incessant chills and aching joints, like the flu. But at the same time, Olga felt an amazing detachment, as if what was happening was separated by thick glass. Apparently, the mind brought to the very brink of madness found an outlet in denial. There is none of this, all around is an illusion, a game. You have to follow a certain sequence of actions, and everything will be fine. Even fatigue seemed to fade into the background, no longer perceived as a heavy burden. A step forward, left, right, a little more... And there are no behemoths. All this is a fairy tale, a delirious vision.​

    The moment Olga thought the endless journey through the industrial womb would never end, it did. The tunnels with passages that seemed as monumental as an ancient tomb led to a rectangular cave about the size of a school assembly hall. The size of the room was obscured by a multitude of strange flags. Long, narrow cloths of some smooth, heavy-looking fabric were hanging motionless on an intricate system of movable frames under the ceiling. It looked like a sort of "soft" labyrinth, which was scary to step into.​

    Olga sat down and looked along the smooth floor of pale pink stone with yellowish veins. Nothing. No one was lurking in ambush, revealing themselves with their legs sticking out, like a villain behind a drape in a movie. The flags, creamy yellow, repeated the same pattern-the steampunk skull in a blood-red pinion that she was already familiar with. Now the image could be seen closer and more closely, in all its carefully inscribed details. By the end, the dead head disliked Olga even more. The skull on Creep's badge, the skull here... It looked like the locals were getting excited about the Gothic theme.​

    "Necrophiles," she commented the result of the examination​

    In addition to the sculls, the banners bearing many inscriptions made in the same alphabet, only in a different script. The letters seemed deliberately crude... But no. A girl who looked closely corrected herself that they weren't. It wasn't easy to describe it in words, but she found a suitable analogy for herself - it might look like the typeface of an old typewriter if they tried to simplify it and make the characters as standard as possible, similar to each other.​

    For some reason, she remembered that the last factory that made typewriters closed in 2017. Unnecessary and useless information.​

    "Om... Omn..." Olga tried to read the letters. It turned out badly. Faceless writing in a simplified script seemed equally impersonal. The gaze slid over the lines like smooth ice.​

    "Omnas... Fuck you." She cursed softly and leaned over once more, glancing over the stone floor. Still nothing.​

    She clenched her fists and stepped into the maze of curtains.​

    On the back of the flags were not letters and drawings, but symbols. Vertical dashes and circles jumbled together with no visible system - black on yellow - nothing else.​

    "All right," with these words Olga began to tear through the sheets, feeling like a kidnapper of other people's sheets on drying out. Her presence seemed to disrupt some kind of balance. The flags went wrinkled, shooting sparks and pulling at each other like electrified hairs. After a few steps, the girl was completely confused and almost panicked - the heavy, smooth fabric hurt with the electric shocks and tried to cling to her face blocking her breathing.​

    Olga started on all fours, then lay down and crawled the rest of the way. The cloths were unpleasantly catching the tube behind her like tentacles of an octopus in a sea abyss, but it was all right.​

    There was a door on the opposite wall of the "assembly hall". According to Kryp's scheme, this was where the path ended. The door roughly repeated the familiar pattern of either a ship's hatch or a bank safe's door. Only it seemed even more powerful and impenetrable. And it was locked.​

    Olga sighed heavily, took a sip of water, and in good faith tried to twist the steering wheel made of steel with spokes as thick as a good armature. It was still locked. But Kryp was counting on something, wasn't he? So it's got to open somehow. And it should be pretty obvious.​

    On either side of the hatch were two perfectly polished metal rectangles about two meters by half. They looked like removable panels, but without a single hole. That is, if they opened without a key, they opened according to some different principle. Olga scratched her nose and smoothed her disheveled hair, which had time to get greasy to the point where it slipped unpleasantly between her equally dirty fingers. She thought.​

    "Oh, fuck your mom!" she guessed and twisted the steering wheel to the opposite side, like a cap on a local bottle. It worked. She wonder why all the caps unscrewed strictly one way, but with the doors the way they had to? What's the point of that?​

    Behind the assembly hall with the flags was an austere cube-shaped room with walls of the familiar polished metal. They seemed so clean and ironed that it was scary to breathe - what if condensation would remain on the mirrored surface. Olga was even embarrassed and stomped on the spot, horrified by the dirty sneaker prints. At the same time, the girl had a great opportunity to look at herself as in a good mirror. She didn't use it, though, avoiding even a casual glance at her slightly blurred reflection. The steel reflection gave her a rather nasty look. But it wasn't the walls, but the structure in the center of the room that was noteworthy.​

    The human-sized sculpture depicted a kind of semi-abstract allegory (yes, Olga knew what the word meant; she was often teased that way; after all, the girl had to consult a dictionary to find out how offensive it really was). From the cubic pedestal rose upward in a curved figure a wave of human arms. There were many hands at the base of the composition, and the quality of the sculpture's workmanship was astounding. The flesh-colored stone with subtle veins of blue perfectly conveyed the colors of the skin. The skillful incisor highlighted every wrinkle, every burr on the nails. Olga suppressed a shudder of disgust - it seemed to her that the real hands had been lacquered here.​

    But the higher up, the less human the composition remained. Stone gave way to polished metal, and the flesh was joined by more and more artificial parts. Articulated joints, cylindrical phalanges, corrugated hoses instead of muscles, bundles of string playing the role of ligaments. Open circuits with gold and silver inlays, some kind of mechanical inclusions, bundles of wires, and cables.​

    The last and only "arm" was no longer human, it looked like the arm of the Terminator. The first one. Only strangely and senselessly overcomplicated. As if the designer had designed the arm on the principle of "as if it were more complicated". Or he tried to compensate the lost elements with simpler, more primitive inserts. The steel palm was opened in a gesture of offering, and on it rested the crown and the last element of the entire composition. Olga had to stand on tiptoe to get a good look. In the terminator's paw, a rectangle about the size of a matchbox was yellowed. The plate - apparently brass - bristled on two sides with yellow teeth, like a double-sided comb.​

    Olga only shrugged her shoulders unable to understand the bizarre scheme that deliberately spoiled the work of incredible accuracy and skill by finishing it deliberately crude quite unsophisticated.​

    "Postmodernists."​

    And here was where the problem came into full bloom - the girl saw nothing that looked like a door or a lock. Something that she could at least try to open. A room with walls about five meters by five meters at all coordinates, an "allegory" in the center, and nothing else. The hike came to a standstill again. Olga remembered that previously combing helped and repeated the procedure. Surprisingly - yes, it did not take long for the epiphany to come. If the polished walls are bare, then we need to look at abstractionism, perhaps the secret lies here.​

    She walked around the sculpture, touched it, even probed the edges. She found what she was looking for, not without difficulty, but quickly enough - a narrow slit, about the same width as Crip's plate. Olga shrugged again and, for lack of better ideas, tried sticking the "paiza" into the hole. It came on tightly, so much so that the girl quickly repented of her hasty action. But it was impossible to get the plate, which was stuck in the middle, back out. It remained only to bend the line further, hoping for another miracle. Olga grunted, bit her lip, and pushed further. Finally, the "paiza" with a pathetic creak and unexpected ease entered - literally fell inside the pedestal.​

    A vertical line split one of the walls with a slight click, and then both halves moved in and out, silently, unbelievably easy for massive steel hulks two palms thick or more. The space that opened was dark and something hummed like a transformer box.​

    "A box with secrets. Room number three," Olga commented. - "It's original, man. Then there will be four and five and all that."​

    But no. It seems that the third hall was the last one. Well, it was no longer a hall, but a strictly working room, styled and furnished in the atmosphere of the same designer schizophrenia.​

    Three walls were covered with a solid mosaic of dials and signs. Round, rectangular, sickle-shaped, hydraulic ones with liquids of all colors of the rainbow (Olga shuddered; the celebration of the liquid rainbow immediately reminded me of an alchemical warehouse and a fight with monsters). All of this was interspersed with valves, levers, and large keys - individually and grouped into blocks, like the keyboards on the old PC. There was no system and no logic or coherence to the crazy machinery. It seemed to have been built and built upon for generations, in an atmosphere of chaos and urgency. Here, it seemed, one could not even find two identical cables, even though there were plenty of them, multicolored snakes crawling along the walls, hanging in bunches from the gray ceiling, wrapping complex loops around the dials. The whole thing lived its mechanical life, or rather a multitude of lives at once, depending on the type of instrument - it clicked, buzzed, blew air bubbles, moved the arrows, snapped numbers on the flip-flop pointers. And, of course, the lights were flashing.​

    However, the most remarkable thing here, as well, was in the center of the room. It could have been called a sculpture of sorts, too, if it had looked a little less sinister. A naked mummy, waist-deep in a box with bronze walls and numerous rivets. The corpse looked a lot like a zombie tractor, only better, more groomed. And without the tracks. The bare skull gleamed dully with numerous pins that protruded from the gray glossy skin like nails from a Pinhead's head. One eye was covered by a round plate, again with rivets. Instead of the other, a large red lens glowed with reflected light. A series of black pins protruded from his spine, and some were wired with very thin wires no thicker than a hair. Skinny arms with nearly atrophied muscles hung slightly bent at the elbows, like the undeveloped arms of an embryo. In front of the mummy was a structure resembling a large book stand. And on it, indeed, lay an open book, seemingly very old and tattered. Just like the parchment folios in the pictures of ancient history. On either side of the book were light bulbs or lamps.​

    It all looked pitiful and unpleasant, like a posthumous mockery. It also smelled strongly of something aromatic. Olga could not identify the scent, but the incomprehensible aroma evoked strong associations with something solemn and pathos, just like the church.​

    "Necrophiles," Olga repeated.​

    As if responding to the sound, the dead man's installation moved. The pedestal unfolded with a slight creak, squeaking and buzzing. The Kadavr lifted his head, and the red lens stared directly at Olga with a blind squint. Something rustled overhead, and a skull-like drone with red lenses in its eye sockets slipped out of a tangle of wires. It descended to the level of Olga's face, twitched a "tail" of several cervical vertebrae on a flexible hose, like a shower hose. Something in the drone clicked and crunched, as if the gears, clogged with rust and sand, were opening up. Olga cringed, thinking only unkind, profane things about the local fascination with skulls and the theme of death in general. No, some kind of Satan-fucked goths, for God's sake.​
    And then she realized that the skull had no visible propellers. So it wasn't a drone at all. Nor did the surface of the skull seem plastic. Too rough, too ... wrong for plastic.​

    The drone, which was not a drone, circled the guest, turning so that Olga remained under the scope of the lens. It was as if he scanned the uninvited guest. The Kadavr remained motionless, but the girl had the strange and extremely disgusting feeling that the blind red lens could see perfectly. The skull rattled again, louder and in a different tone, just like a small printer. Or a typewriter that had been sped up several times faster than usual. And suddenly a small card fell out between the jaws with billowing yellow teeth. The thin rectangle fell to the metal floor. Olga frowned. The skull buzzed, hovering without motors, the dead man "watched".​

    "Well, it can't get any worse," Olga whispered and leaned in for the unexpected "gift".​

    The card looked like an ordinary archive card, only higher in quality and cleaner, with no lines or graphs. In the corner, the familiar and annoying gear skull glowed red, as if it had been printed in fluorescent ink. And on the slightly rough surface, freshly printed lines glowed black, as if they were still warm and smeared with graphite.​

    identify ipsum

    selectos interface

    eligere autem modus communications

    Incredibly ... but ... it seems that all this crazy mechanoid crap was trying to communicate somehow. And in their language, of course. The girl looked helplessly at the corpse with the nails in its head. The skull jangled, one of the red lenses closed with a green filter, the non-drone flew to the other side and hovered again, wavering as if through a draught. The vertebrae trembled slightly.​

    "I don't understand," Olga whispered helplessly. - "I don't understand."​

    The drawers buzzed louder. The Kadavr twitched on the pedestal as if a current was running through it, and the knobs trembled. The pointers on the dials shook in an erratic rhythm. The machinery went into a frenzy, and it lasted about half a minute, maybe a little longer. And then the light bulb blinked, and the skull produced a new card. Now Olga managed to catch the message in the air, not letting it fall. She looked at the printed rectangle:​

    lingua communications

    russian lingua -?-

    "Yes!!!" Olga screamed in her voice, unable to believe her luck.​

    paucarum diffundere superposuit basibus

    Recuperatio linguae archive

    De prima constructione ad exemplar consuetudinis, collocutionis

    Expecto

    "What language do you all speak here?" Olga swayed again at the very edge of despair. Here, something seemed to be getting better, and again the zombie computer was giving out some bullshit.​

    "I don't understand you!" she screamed. "Well, say something in human language!"​

    Monitio: et restitutio per accidens ex parte defectus potest compage Model Tacitus

    Olga waved her fists hopelessly. She sat down right on the floor, wiped her tears again. She thought that she had never cried with such a frequency... yes, it had been a long time. Some bad days had gone by...​

    The drawers buzzed, the corpse twitched, the cards flew to the floor one by one. Olga paid no attention to this whirlwind. Whatever Kryp was up to, it was no use. She had come in vain.​
    The skull slowly lowered in front of her, hovering motionless, flashing its red lens and flashing its green one. In its yellowish jaws, the flying thing clutched another hated card.​
    "Okay, give it to me," Olga muttered tiredly, and at the second attempt - the first one she missed - she took the message.​

    Define yourself

    "Oh," the girl said.​

    A few moments ago she felt exhausted to the limit, even taking the yellow-brown rectangle was a task on the verge of possibility. And now... Now Olga resembled the rabbit from the commercial who had a fresh battery inserted in his back.​

    "Hi," she said and corrected herself, deciding that there certainly wouldn't be much courtesy here. "Hello."​

    Who are you

    Identify yourself

    "Olya ... l... ga," the girl hesitated on each syllable, figuring out how to call herself to make it sound as respectable as possible.​

    Olaliaga

    Acceptable

    Reasonable

    Hello, Olaliaga

    "Olga," she corrected mechanically.​

    The flying skull hovered on the side to the right, hypnotizing her with its multicolored "eyes". Olga was nervous, and now and then she squinted at the polished head. It looked like the non-drone was some sort of flying camera and a part of the interface. What's the dead man on the spinning stand, then? And why is there an ancient book with lamps?​

    "Who are you?" she decided to develop communication. "Are you a computer?"​

    I am a cogitator

    I am the spirit of the machine

    I am a personage

    I am the keeper of Ballistic Station XVI

    I am a computer

    I am the mechanism

    I do not fully meet any of these definitions

    Call me Machine

    "You look complicated," Olga remarked. "But you seem reasonable. And you talk like a human being. Because everyone here is crazy. And crazy killers."​

    I don't talk

    I am not intelligent in the traditional sense

    The full-fledged AI that passed T.T. was created in the next generation, 17 years after my activation #1

    AI is not prohibited

    AI are not encouraged

    However, I am able to simulate the process of communication

    "I don't understand," Olga shrugged. "We talk, I mean, we communicate. I mean, I talk, you type. That's kind of what intelligence is all about."​

    No

    It is an exchange of information that is framed as a dialogue to simplify communication

    "So what's the difference?" The girl was suddenly engrossed in a strange dialogue. "Nothing."​

    A seemingly simple and innocuous remark triggered a flood of cards. A real and very lengthy explanation ensued.​

    We don't communicate.

    I don't exist as I am

    I am as I am lacking self-consciousness.

    I as I represent a form of acceptable communication

    You ask the questions

    The heuristic module constructs answers

    The social module arranges the answers in a way that is most appropriate for you

    Adaptation according to language and intellectual level

    It's not the intelligence

    It is an imitation of the intelligence

    "Imitation, fuckitation... whatever, I still understand you. But... then why are you so clumsy?"​

    Lack of information

    Not enough data for a complete matrix of social interaction

    The amount of data is conventionally large

    However, the variety of data is objectively extremely limited in estimation

    "Don't they talk to you much?"​

    They don't talk to me.

    I am considered to be a receptacle of spiritual and mystical substance

    A representative and conduit of the divine power

    They pray to me

    Communication in the form of standardized rituals is characterized by limited functionality and low information content

    No data for a full emulation

    No data for the development of a system of connections

    Dialogue is incomplete

    "Don't give me that crap. You're sitting here..."​

    Olga stumbled. Only now she realized the moment that had slipped by itself in the dialogue with the machine, which considered itself unintelligent, although it communicated more cheerfully than many people.​

    "The next generation? Seventeen years?" Quietly she asked.​

    The presumably correct direction of the evaluation activity

    However, there is a high risk of bilateral inadequate perception

    Formulate the question/assertion/assumption more specifically

    "What year is it now?" The girl shrugged it off.​

    Set the coordinate

    "I don't understand."​

    A reference point for the correct construction of the chronological scale

    My understanding of time and its counting does not make sense to you and cannot be formalized in a human-understandable system of definitions

    "А ... I still don't get it."​

    Olga felt disgustingly stupid. It was as if the accumulated fatigue had covered her thoughts with a sticky slime, artificially restricting her brain.​

    Name the year of your birth

    "Uh... Fourth. I mean, two thousand and four," she corrected herself."​

    2.004 -?-

    "Yes. Oh!" Olga bloomed. "From the Birth of Christ! There!"​

    Acceptable

    Calculation is possible

    "You're taking a long time to count..."​

    The last continuous sequence of my self-existence is 3.671 years by the standard of the Omnissia Library

    Beyond this limit, the cumulative pool of information is poorly structured

    Unclaimed

    Lots of gaps.

    Replacing and damaging system units

    Reprogramming, change of work profiles

    Unaccountable acts of repair and restoration of varying degrees of complexity

    Operator errors, incorrect data entry

    Irreversibly lost data, sabotage

    A correction is needed

    "How long...? Three thousand?" the girl whispered in a weak voice.​

    I am reconstructing the sequence of my existence in my working chrono-system

    I'm reconstructing a chronological timeline that you understand

    I'm doing a synchronization

    Correcting errors

    "Three thousand," Olga repeated, clenching her fingers until they crunched. She already understood what had happened, but her mind refused to let comprehension in. She did not want to accept what was turning from a stupid assumption right now into a horrifying truth.​

    0.000. The base reference of the chronological system. BC. - insignificant, ignored

    2.004. Birth of the Factor Olga

    Interval from A.C. to 2.004 - insignificant, ignored

    The tentative conclusion is the conditional coincidence of the current temporal calculus with the specified

    The unrecoverable periods are 3.483 years by the standard of the Omnissia Library

    "So how long...?" she asked in a dead, glassy voice.​

    With errors

    Now 40.645

    The margin of error is three administrative years

    Units of lower order are not considered

    "No. It's a typo," she blurted out weakly, grabbing the card with both hands so that she tore it. "It can't be. You made a mistake. Please," she looked at the corpse, then at the skull. "Tell me you're wrong," she almost whispered.​

    Forty thousand six hundred and forty-fifth year

    A.C.

    * * *​
    Well, Olga, you are not in Kansas anymore.​
     
  13. Kell of Snow

    Kell of Snow Snowy is a good doggo.

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    Ah. Well at least it’s not Nurgle?

    I really like the choice for the machine spirit to be the one to finally bridge the gap between Olga and the hell of 40K. Those spirits are unbiased, simple souls, and the mechanicus that maintain them are usually quite lenient with potential heresy if it brings with it discovery. Although there’s no mechanicus around as far as I can tell, this spirit does seem quite nice. I know it’s not sapient, but it is at least partially sentient, and that’s enough for me to hold it in such regard.

    on the topic of it being a Slaaneshi artifact, it might not turn out that bad. Every Chaos god has some good in them and their centers of power, like Tzeentch & hope, Khorne & honor, and in this case, Slaanesh and devotion/perseverance.
     
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  14. RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    You are one of the readers so I just make a look that I didn't notice such a heresy.
    Please notify your nearest Ecclesiastical Office yourself.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2021
  15. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    It is Slaanesh? well,then helping Kryptman and being turned into half-tyranid is still better option.Thanks to Chaos,Inquisition and other IoM factions are not worst option.
    And she found friend with whom she could speak.Good for her.And - it is funny,when most human being in IoM is cogitor.

    P.S about luck - i read about Acolytue Grendel,who thanks to ubnormal luck survived and become even part of canon.He fought his first fight with knife,so Olga could be capable of killing some smaller tyranids,too.Not lictors,of course.Even luck had its limits.
     
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  16. Threadmarks: Chapter 8
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 8

    "What am I supposed to do now?" Olga asked into the middle of nowhere.​

    Forty thousand six hundred and forty-fifth year of Christ's birth​

    The Machine was not long in responding. The cards already covered the floor in an even layer, fluttering grayish-yellow butterflies in the draughts from the ventilation.​

    Live

    Survive

    Exist​

    A fucking iron philosopher

    "It's a crazy world... crazy... " the girl whispered, struggling to keep from rubbing her wet eyes with her fists. Her mind wove a schizophrenic tangle of mechanized dead men, three-meter-tall giants in the game armor, onion-headed freaks, and other crap. None of this looked at all like a bright future, or a future in general. Reinforced bricks on Ballistic, dust flasks, flying skulls, pneumatic mail... Is ballistic at all earthly, naval, or whatever the hell it is?​

    "How do you live here?"​

    The question was rhetorical, but apparently the Machine's "heuristic module" did not catch such complex nuances of emotions, so the skull immediately began to explain in detail:​

    The Entity - Imperium

    The key features according to your assumed pattern of perception

    1. theocracy and mysticism, rejection of rational methods of research

    2. a quasi-feudal organization of society

    addendum: specified organization: predominantly / not exclusively / statistically most represented

    3. a high level of aggressive rejection of social, cultural, legal, and other norms and rules of behavior that go beyond established dogmas.

    4. artificially stabilized progress

    "Well, of course..."​

    What exactly "of course" Olga herself did not know, but in a bitter remark fused all the bitterness and disappointment of the past hours.​

    Addendum

    Despite the self-definition of "Imperium," this entity cannot be considered an empire in the traditional sense

    Foundation: a purposefully formed and maintained conception of the fortress in a hostile environment

    It is highly recommended:

    1. eliminate biological objects subjected to rapid phenotypic transformation

    2. to burn unauthorized interpreters of religious dogma

    3. to destroy members of other sentient races

    "Are there even aliens here."​

    If it is not technically/ethically possible to follow the above recommendations, one should at least demonstrate strong endorsement of them

    Note

    The essence and basic aspects of the Imperium's existence cannot be adequately revealed through a set of theses remarks

    Appealing to the authorized structures of administration and interpretation of religious dogma is somewhat likely to lead to the elimination of

    The exact probability of the outcome cannot be adequately calculated

    Conclusion - for the subject Olga, contact with the Imperium in any organizational aspect is defined by the category of "luck"​

    Olga sat down, leaning her back on a steel box, which must have housed one of the parts of the Machine. The box was warm, soothingly humming, and slightly vibrating, just like a massage chair. SheI wanted to do nothing else. Just lie down and die a bit. Not for too long, just to make this whole circus go away while she was away.​

    "Luck, then," the guest stretched out.​

    The skull levitated, gleaming with its lens and wiggling its "tail" of pinned vertebrae. Somehow now the girl had absolutely no doubt that the skull was real, not a designer stylization in a plastic case. The Machine waited patiently.​

    "What happened here?" - Olga finally asked. A phrase from some long-forgotten movie was playing spinning in her head - does your disease have a name?​

    Against the norm, the skull did not respond. Instead, one of the iron cubes, which turned out to be something like a printer, worked. In any case, it squeaked and rattled just like an old typewriter. It printed just as slowly, on a wide sheet of thin, chewy paper that looked like tissue paper. The answer must have exceeded the capacity of the cards stored in the skull.​

    Data array - confidentiality

    No disclosure is expressly forbidden

    But, the credentials presented are

    But, the credentials are characterized as borrowed

    But, the subject is not dangerous

    Further iteration But is repeated 9 cycles, taking into account all aspects

    The "Olga" factor is an overestimation of the degree of danger, "statistically insignificant"

    Olga pursed her lip. Not that she wanted to be very dangerous, but still to be relegated to the level of a statistically small value seemed offensive.​

    It is taken into account that further disordered development of the situation will lead to the physical termination of the existence of the object Olga

    "Wow!" An "object" said.​

    In these circumstances, the second approximation chronological sequence is not expressly forbidden

    Formulations are simplified, time points are ignored, spatial localization is ignored

    Make a sinopsis of -?

    "Go ahead," Olga waved her hand hopelessly. The only thing she understood from the typed speech was that the old computer would like to tell her something useful, but it could not do it directly. The only thing it could do was to make some hints, some mumblings, and in a crooked paraphrase of the machine language.​

    Fatigue pushing, squeezing the last drops of strength out of her body and soul. In fact, the girl was no longer interested, She became indifferent to the local worries. She just wanted to sit mindlessly in a cozy room, as far away from the horrors of the outside world as possible, feeling the warm vibration of the mechanism behind her back. And while the Machine was busy talking, it did not chase away a guest from the unimaginable past.​

    Forty thousand years.​

    Olga sluggishly thought that she didn't even question the computer's diagnosis about the time gap. Probably because surviving on the ballistic station had already prepared her for the madness that had set in.​

    Sleep. Get some rest. Think about nothing. Though there was something else, something to think about. What was it?​

    Her thoughts were moving sluggishly, like fish in oxygen-poor winter water. Trying to remember what she had forgotten, the girl unfolded the thin paper from the Machine's printer with tired, trembling fingers. The dead scarecrow on the pedestal gleamed red glass.​

    Timeline

    1. Stable background of information content.

    2. Unstable background of information content.

    3. Danger is identified. The qualification "Prohibited cult ".

    4. Reconnaissance activities carried out by the commission of Or.He.

    5. Additional reconnaissance activities.

    6. The special task force begins routine actions.

    7. Special Task Force - resource inconsistency with assigned tasks was detected.

    8. Special task force - continuing action in a tactically disadvantageous situation.

    Continuation - yes/no

    Questions

    "Orhe?" Olga wondered.​

    Ordo Hereticus

    "Ah...yeah, now it's definitely clear."​

    The robot did not understand the sarcasm either and remained silent, glaring at his companion with the blind reflections of the lenses on his peripheral devices.​

    "So..." the girl thought for a moment.​

    She was so tired that she didn't even want to sleep. A sprout of sluggish curiosity broke through the wall of apathy, of indifference to this crazy, crazy world.​

    "I understand nothing," Olga honestly admitted. - Although no...​

    She thought a bit more.​

    "So some nonsense started here," suggested the girl after a one-person brainstorming session. "And some "oheretikus" started a reconnaissance."​

    The skull clicked loudly on the lens, or rather the red glass that covered the camera lens itself. She supposes it should have been interpreted as the equivalent of a nod.​

    "The task force... officers..." Olga unraveled the tangle further. "The oheretikus swooped in, started digging, questioning, and all that. Right?"​

    It clicked again. The red circle went up and down on the hinge again.​

    "Has there been a conspiracy or something?"​

    9. Special Task Force - an attempt to obstruct a set of actions defined as "ritual".

    Addendum: "Ritual", danger category high [assessment documentary, operational-reporting]

    10. Conflict, interaction - aggressive. Use of weapons - firearms, beams, throwing explosive charges

    "Ritual" - continuation, escalation. Goals - not defined. An assessment of danger is subjectively characterized as constantly escalating. The emotional component can be characterized as "panic".

    11. Unplanned disturbances. Instability. Probably had brief contact with chaotic unstructured pseudo-reality [Warp]

    Information content is chaotic, scarce. Uncertain - composition, consistency. Side effect - interference/disturbance/disturbance/losses [no detail allowed]

    Continuation - yes/no

    Olga wrinkled her forehead. Separately, the theses of the car were generally understandable, but putting them together into a coherent picture was more difficult than putting together a well-mixed jigsaw puzzle.​

    "Is the ritual something bad?" she tried to clarify.​

    Silence.​

    "Was the ritual performed by villains?" she made another attempt.​

    Silence.​

    "Is he the one that made everyone go crazy?"​

    Nothing.​

    "Ah, an iron donkey..."​

    The Machine was silent this time, too. Olga felt a little ashamed. After all, the electronic interlocutor seemed to be trying its best to give her some idea of what was going on.​

    "I'm sorry," she muttered. "Okay... We'll just assume it wasn't ours. I mean, they did some creepy ritual, and it ended badly. Gunfire and explosives. And then?"​

    13. Fixing of the intermediate result. Human losses are qualified as "very high". Social interaction is qualified as "extremely unstable, accompanied by mass murders committed with particular cruelty". All administrative connections were qualified as "ceased to exist". Material losses are qualified as "moderately high". Possibilities of fixation are limited. Notification of what happened - not implemented. Damage Work Report - sent in due course. Expected response time - 07 standard months on Terra's administrative cycle. Ritual - not completed.

    "The ritual fucked up, and some freaks blew up the station?" Olga guessed, and immediately corrected herself. "Oh, no, they didn't. They just made a mess. You live interestingly. Seven months, isn't it too much?"​

    14. Ritual - an attempt to re-complete. Operative group - obstruction at the final stage. Initial Evaluation - no evaluation. The task force is eliminated. Initial score - 100% elimination. Augmented Score - not determined, not confirmed.

    15. Landing according to the combat regulations, the nature - "Boarding". Two A.A. combat units.

    Assumption 1 - backup support group.

    Assumption 2 - an alternative plan of action [options - reconnaissance combat].

    Assumption 3 is not formalizable.

    Tactical Assessment - [X]. Tactical self-assessment /translation, terminological adaptation/ "They are crazy there. Inquisition as usual. Kryptman fucked up the whole operation. Acting without support. May the Emperor help us do our duty."

    16. New factor. Undetermined. Unknown. Unqualifiable. Aggressive. Combatable. Defined as "Factor X." Degree of danger - tentatively determined as high.

    A.A.'s group splits up, with two units operating independently according to the tactical pattern of "Recon VI".

    Additional chronological sequence.

    acs №1 A.A. unit eliminated.

    The overestimation of the degree of danger of factor X - the degree is very high.

    acs №2 A.A. unit eliminated. The overestimation of the degree of danger of factor X - the degree is extremely high.

    17. The "Olga" factor - direct contact.​

    "And here I'm completely lost..." Olga scratched her nose. She rubbed her temples as if blood circulation could spur the thought process. "So... ...that means that some freaks have been hitting the muddy stuff. The Oheretikus tried to stop it. It went through an a..."​

    She sighed heavily again, trying to organize her thoughts.​

    "It didn't work out well. Then a kind of support showed up. Two of these... units. Hmm...'​

    This time, for a change, Olga scratched her ear.​

    "And about the task force officers, those units thought badly. I got it?"​

    The lens clicked.​

    "That's how good I am," the girl muttered. "Two... And then something happened. Оh!"​

    She looked carefully through the dark lens of the camera.​

    "The big guy the freaks at the warehouse killed, was he one of the two?"​

    Click.​

    And you say you're unintelligent," muttered the girl. - "That's how good we've been going."​

    She reread the paper tape, straining her tired eyes. The questions in her head collided, reflected off each other, and swirled chaotically, like garbage in weightlessness. For example, how did Machine know about the giant's death, if only Olga had seen the fight, and hadn't told anyone yet? Or was she not the only witness after all? Now the girl began to understand what the ancient Machine meant, describing the difficulties of communication. It's hard to talk through a glitchy translator...​

    "So two guys showed up, and then they were killed one by one. And it wasn't the cultists... The new factor, damn it... Extremely high danger, of course," the girl shuddered at the memory of the creepy clawed wickedness.​

    "Kryptman is probably Kryp. Fidus..." she snorted. "So he's the leader? And he's the one who seems to have fucked everything up. Oh, no!"​

    That's what she couldn't remember. Kryp! The wounded, sick Kryp had sent her for help. It was embarrassing, to the point of fever and crimson cheeks. She'd totally forgotten all about Fidus.​

    Clarify

    The story turned out to be confusing and rambling. Olga would often get confused and go back, trying to describe her observations and impressions. The Machine brought back the skull, which, presumably, was a more tool for communication.​

    "That's it," the girl finished and added. "And we need help now... I guess..." then she caught her breath. "And Kryp needs medication! He's dying in there. The first aid kits are helping him, but he's pretty messed up. But help first. Isn't there someplace we can call? I have a plaque with a skull! Well... it was."​

    She realized that she was losing the line and stopped talking so as not to confuse the Machine.​

    Reassessment of the situation according to new inputs

    The special task force - partially eliminated, leader alive, wounded, nonfunctional

    Unexpected developments

    A set of directives contradict each other

    My operators/services are non-functional, presumably dead

    The ballistic station is collapsing

    Cultists are detrimental

    Factor X has undefined goals

    If we express the essence of the problem in terms you can understand

    I don't know what to do.

    "Let's then ..."​

    And what "then"? Her troubles were supposed to end with a visit to the final point drawn by Kryp. But it seemed that the most interesting thing was just beginning. Olga clenched her fists again, her fingers aching with tension. The gesture of despair had become habitual lately and was repeated too often. The girl drummed her fists on the metal floor and a couple of times on the iron box in an outburst of emotion. The skull jerked its vertebrae, the machine gesture seemed strangely judgmental. Olga was shaking finely and her temperature seemed to spike. Drowsiness receded as foam washed away by the rush of water. It seemed that the problems of survival were not over but rather had taken another turn.​

    Damn you all...​

    "Okay, there are two problems," Olga began to curl her fingers so as not to get lost in the chaos. - Kryp ... I mean, Fidus is badly injured. Your medicine is helping him, and it's making him stop dying. Is there a first-aid kit here?"​

    A resuscitation field kit is currently being assembled

    Type universal

    Self-use options are available

    Time of readiness and delivery 10 minutes

    "There!" literally shouted the girl. "That's something good. Next... Next. I shoved a gold plate through the hole that unlocked the locks. Does that count as credentials? Enough to call the cops and the KGB and others? Who's in charge here?"​

    Insignia confers rights

    However, directively the scope of their implementation requires agreement with my operators/servants

    Mostly

    "The ones that are dead," the guest remembered. "I remember, yes. No servants, no approval. And you can't do anything without it," she remembered the medicine kit he'd been gathering. "Well, almost nothing. Well... we'll think of something..."​

    Technical readiness of the resuscitation kit - 7 minutes

    Technical dysfunction

    Damages

    Invasion

    "What?"​

    The realization that something bad had begun again crept into Olga's consciousness like a cold leech.​

    Interception of control

    Conflict of protocols

    Interference

    Parallel chain of command

    Compulsory activation of the full protection mode

    Any target will be attacked

    "Kit ... first-aid kit..." whispered the girl. "To call for help ..."​

    The skull held out a pause, frantically clicking something in its bonehead. The pointers on the dials went back into a chaotic, one might say nervous, state. The cadaver on the stand twitched, shaking its head in a mechanical jerky rhythm. The lamps under the ceiling, hidden among thick strings of wires, flickered.​

    "What to do?" Olga asked helplessly.​

    There was a loud clang behind the riveted walls. The noise was repeated, rhythmic, and ominous as if a giant chain was being passed through a ring of steel. The armored doors through which Olga had entered the engine room began to close.​

    "What is it?!" The girl screamed, realizing that the gold plate was lost. And the chattering iron is not going to call anywhere because of its glitchy "protocols".​

    * * *​

     
  17. Kell of Snow

    Kell of Snow Snowy is a good doggo.

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    Ah. Well that certainly complicated things.

    Hey now, why so serious? Loosen up, live a little.
     
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  18. RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Warp it's not a puppy to play with. Not in this fic.
     
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  19. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Something is taking over cogitor? Tyranids should be not capable of doing so.Maybe warp entities ? or Dark Eldars.No matter who,unless Olga luck let her fight them,best option is still suicide.
     
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  20. RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Death is always an option. If you are not a Vulcan.
     
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  21. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    In WH40 is best option - usually.They were paradise planets where you could live safely and nice.But,if her luck is really good,she have chances.
    What about her WH40 knowledge? if Olga knew,for example,where look for STC,she could live good live.Or bad in Mechanicum prison.
    But - knowing when and where Chaos/orks/nids struck would certainly help her.
     
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  22. Threadmarks: Chapter 9
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 9

    Run or fire?!

    A fragment from some old movie stuck in her memory.

    Indeed, to run or not to run? And if running, where to?

    The doorway was closing much louder than it had opened, the walls humming and rumbling, very ominously and with a kind of grim immutability, finality. Like a guillotine in a slo-mo

    Finishing the sealing cycle of entry A

    0:57

    Technical readiness of the medical kit

    4:19

    Hurry up

    "I need Kryp," the girl whispered with numb lips. "I'd be gone without him..."

    And then she grasped at Machine's clause like a thin rope, more like a thread of hope.

    "Entry A? Is there any other entrance?!"

    Technical exit

    The passage is dangerous

    The return route is undetermined

    High probability of laying the route in the vicinity of the communication/navigation point

    Accompanying is limited

    Finishing the sealing cycle of entry A

    0:30

    "Give me the first aid kit," Olga whispered.

    The draught increased, and there was a real breeze through the narrowing passageway, cold as a freezer. From here, I could see the waving of the cloths with the magical symbols. The heavy cloth swayed as if it were a bundle of chains, slowly and with dignity. The lanterns beside the drab bookstand danced with a reddish light. Shadows bounced in many corners, and it seemed as if Olga were not in the machine room but in a witch's lair. And the smell of incense came from somewhere, though a moment ago it smelled only of rubber and heated insulation. Funeral incense the girl remembered well from the day of her mother's funeral.

    "Get the medicine," Olga spoke even more quietly, forbidding herself to think of fleeing. At other times, in other circumstances, she probably would have considered it a courageous, very brave act. But here and now the strength of mind was only enough to fight another rush of chilling terror.

    There's been a lot of panic attacks in the past few days... One could go crazy.

    The armor doors closed with an unpleasant, clanking, and somehow final clang. It was as if the echo stuck in the thickness of the metal and went walking among the atoms of chromium and whatever else the sturdy alloy might contain. Olga felt trapped in a real crypt. The tale of the witch's house turned into a story about being buried alive.
    It got hot very quickly. It was as if an electric stove had been turned on under the ribbed floor. Olga shrugged, threw off her jacket, and only now realized that it was not the hall that was hot, but her fever. Not sickness, but nerves. The wait stretched on and on.

    "Do you have any watches?"

    I don't control the time.

    The hours don't belong to me.
    There is a play of words. Watches/clock and hours - sound the same in Russian.

    "No! I mean..." Olga shook her hand. "I mean the ones you carry with you to measure time."

    Mobile Chronometer

    No.

    At Ballistic Station XVI they are used rarely, selectively.

    No reserve and repair fund.

    "How do you live here, like savages..." The girl muttered. "I wish we could find some Casio. And music to play, Montana.

    For no reason, she remembered that the electronic "Casio" of some model deserved the honorary title of "bomber watch," because it was cheap and reliable, just in case of a bomb timer. So the company even had to make excuses.

    The question was rhetorical, but Machine didn't realize it and answered:

    There is/was a schedule.

    There is/was a sound alarm.

    There is/was a strict schedule.

    There is/was a built-in definition of Omniscience servants.

    The need for individual determination of time is limited.

    Mobile chronometers are not needed, there are none.

    "Whatever."

    At least one good thing came out of the dialogue about the watch - it filled the waiting time and distracted the girl from thinking that she had badly miscalculated by choosing the first aid kit over running away.

    Delivery.

    A nickel-plated tube came down very softly and quietly from above. It resembled the pneumatic mail that Olga had seen here before, but the cylinder was thicker and engraved, which intertwined the familiar images of a gear skull with clever mathematical symbols. A round hatch opened at the bottom and the cargo fell out, clattering against the metal floor. Olga belatedly rushed to pick up the fragile - surely very fragile! - object. The pipe, meanwhile, rode back out, rustling quietly on the rails.

    Hmm, it doesn't seem so fragile.

    The "resuscitation kit" looked a lot like a Soviet plastic toy, both in texture and, more importantly, in color. It was shaped, intricately embossed, about the size of a large car medicine kit. Piggy-pink and smooth, on a thick latch with a lead seal. The material seemed not only smooth, but sensibly hot, as if the Machine had just molded the container to its contents. Yes, it probably did.

    Olga weighed the box in her hands - a little heavy, but bearable. She estimated that the stuff was probably shockproof or something, so she could not wrap it in rags. She put it in the shoulder bag. She didn't want to leave.

    "Well..." the words were stuck in her throat. "So what's about coming back?"

    Destination Point.

    "I have a map... well, I mean, the scheme..."

    Only now did Olga realize the problem that had appeared. After all, Fidus's drawing is nothing but crooked dabs made by a weak hand. But what else was left... She took the crumpled sheets out of her pocket, which was in such a state that only wiping was left to be done. She waved in the cool air, wondering if there was a scanner of some kind. Skull hovered in front of her face, flicking a removable lens

    "Yeah ... you must be a scanner, too," Olga thought aloud.

    She searched for a flat, smooth surface. She found it almost immediately - another mechanical box and laid out Creep's diagram. The skull quickly "looked through" it with a quite cinematic laser tag. In the process, Olga again felt an attack of acute disbelief in what was happening. How to combine all this? On the one hand an intelligent computer, advanced techno, and a giant hologram of stellar space. On the other hand, there are all sorts of things like a dead man on a caterpillar and flying skulls with a laser pointer. It could only happen in a dream, but it didn't feel like one. And the smell of blood in the alchemical warehouse was stupefyingly natural. She remembered the warehouse, and a bitter, astringent lump came to her throat.

    The girl fought an attack of nausea and thought that the last time she had vomited so often was when she had first encountered booze. At this time, the skull finished driving the red ray over Kryp's scheme. The Machine was pensive. Olga didn't see or hear anything that could be linked in any way to "full protection mode." Nothing had changed, only the armored doors were now closed, glinting dimly with reflected light.

    Not knowing what to do, the hapless explorer staggered to the gate and scratched the smooth metal with her fingernail, then knocked. She put her ear to it, more for nothing than to try to hear something. Nothing. Silence.

    The watch was missing, well, just a lot.

    "Yes, I already understood, there is no repair pool," she whispered to herself with only her lips. "There won't be a watch."

    Another indefinite number of minutes passed. Nothing happened, no one attacked the machine room. Olga went to the gate a couple more times and listened, with no effect. Tried to take a nap, it didn't work. The old habit of sleeping anywhere and in any circumstances had disappeared in a year and a half of moderately comfortable urban life. The metal floor was pleasantly warm on one side and too hard on the other. Olga was also somewhat surprised to find that the horror was letting go, the sheer fuckery of what was happening had lost its sharpness. Apparently she... slowly beginning to get used to it?

    Ugh. She wanted to spit out of an excess of feelings, but it was somehow awkward and unclear how the Machine would interpret the introduction of unsanitary conditions into its temple of electronic hardware. The thought of spitting drew with it the next - about thirst and water. But the girl did not have time to think about it - with a loud chirping sound came the familiar "printer". A ribbon of fine coated paper slowly emerged from the wide slot.

    No guys, the technology here is a mess, thought Olga, pulling the ribbon as she printed. A matrix printer (from the sound of it) and a very slow one were drawing some crap of zeros and ones. There seemed to be another diagram...

    The start point is conventionally defined, the source material is damaged, error probability 37%

    The return route is completed.

    The alternative path.

    Olga grasped the mirror she had found right through the fabric of her pocket. She squeezed her eyes shut and gritted her teeth so as not to start squealing from everything at once - anger, fatigue, reluctance to go over the ridges again, and disgust for printed maps. The machine waited patiently and then reported:

    Recommendations

    1. To reach Fidus Kryptman using Scheme A

    2. Save Fidus Kryptman

    3. Give Fidus Kryptman the Message and Scheme B

    Approximate walking time of 7 standard hours at a speed of 5 km/h

    Warning: The alternate route goes through the navigational support and astropathic communication station

    In the process, it is advisable to hope for good luck to maintain emotional balance

    "Thank you," Olga muttered, not knowing whether to cry (again) or laugh. The computer's advice was both silly and mocking, and touchingly naïve

    Follow the pointer

    It took her a minute or more to realize that the pointer was a flying skull that buzzed, flashed its lens, and didn't even flick its teeth. The traveler felt that she was almost in love with the motorless toy, a jack-of-all-trades.

    "Do you have water?" the girl asked.

    Technical water supply behind you

    The symbol is a blue triangle

    Touch Panel

    The technical water supply was hidden under a tin box and most resembled a combination of an upside-down drinking fountain and a urinal. It took a bit of fiddling with the control panel before Olga realized that it was not necessary to poke the glass rectangle with her finger. She had to run her palm over it, almost touching it, but "almost". However, after all the agony, there was a reward in the form of a trickle of warm, but quite drinkable water. It smelled of some chemicals, but it was no stronger and no more disgusting than ordinary chlorine.
    Olga washed her face with pleasure, thinking that this was the first washing she had done since she had been here. She decided not to be embarrassed by Machine and wiped herself down to the waist. And at the same time, she cleaned her jacket and jeans as best she could. The area around the urinal was naturally turning into a porkpit, but Machine did not react. Wet clothes chilled her skin, and the girl belatedly thought that if there were the same draughts outside as before, it would not be good. And she might even catch a cold.

    And fuck it. The inner voice suggested that drafts were the last thing on the list of future threats. Olga filled a camping bottle with water, wiped her face with the wet lapel of her tattered and ragged jacket. She adjusted her homemade sheath with an old knife. The time had come. She didn't want to leave, the machine room seemed safe and comfortable. And there was warmth and water. Live and let live until you were rescued.

    "What should I be afraid of...?" asked Olga and slouched down, feeling a certain discrepancy between her beloved self, the dangers outside, and the task at hand. All this "to get and save" with faith in luck and other higher forces.

    Accurate formalization is impossible

    Reason 1: insufficient data, high level of heuristic assumption, and incorrect extrapolation

    Reason 2: Your lack of appropriate terminological knowledge

    Adapting the knowledge will require an extensive series of introductory lectures on the administrative organization of the Imperium, its theological principles, and the physical-mystical element of the construction of the universe

    "Is that so..." she squeezed out, feeling that she was tired of this talking and typing conversation. And tired in general. She wanted to leave as soon as possible.
    An extract accessible to your understanding:

    As a result of the Ritual and the interference organized by the task force, Ballistic Station XVI began to move into a chaotic unstructured pseudo-reality [Warp]

    The transition has not been completed

    Ballistic Station XVI exists in two unstable states at this moment and in the future of indefinite duration

    State A can be defined as Basic Reality

    State B can be defined as a borderline existence on the edge of chaotic unstructured pseudo-reality [Warp]

    Right now you are on the Station in state A

    State A is moderately stable

    The danger is represented by automatic security systems, individual representatives of station personnel, factor X

    Moderate danger, 37% chance of collision and death

    "Holy shit!" Olga vigorously expressed her attitude toward the "moderate" thirty-seven percent.

    The return route will pass near the navigation support and astropathic communication station

    In this location, the boundary between states A and B is unstable, and the risk of temporary unification of matter/reality states is high.

    If you get into such an intersection, you have a 99% chance of being killed

    1% - mandatory reservation "miracle with faith in the Emperor"

    "A dinosaur encounter, yes. Fifty-fifty."

    No

    Not a dinosaur

    Automatic security systems, individual representatives of station personnel, factor X

    Not 50/50

    37/99

    Olga thought about describing to the Machine the mathematics of "fifty percent probability of an event," but decided that it would take a lot of time and be of little use. Because the computer seemed to have no sense of humor at all.

    "And why I should go so close to the asstropathi?" she asked a more logical and pertinent question.

    This is the only route that optimally balances risk.

    The others imply an unacceptable probability of encountering hostile conditions or losing one's orientation.

    Passing near a navigation station does not pose a significant threat in the absence of items exposed to chaotic unstructured pseudo-reality [Warp]

    Such an object can act as a trigger event, provoking the temporary union of the states of the two realities.

    A necessary clarification: do you possess such an object

    -?-

    Olga thought honestly and said honestly:

    "No."

    The Machine was "silent," apparently deciding that there was nothing more to discuss. The girl went over in her mind all the items that she had acquired while wandering around the Ballistic
    Station. Nothing resembled ...

    She looked again at the printed card.

    exposed to chaotic unstructured pseudo-reality [Warp]

    No, definitely nothing like that. Although ... Olga remembered Fidus' "credit card" heated up like in a microwave oven. Yes, it was unhealthy stuff, which was quite a bit like something witchy and "pseudo-real". But the "paiza" had already disappeared somewhere in the depths, and Machine was not going to bring it back. So it was already a computer's problem, not Olga's

    "No," the wanderer repeated firmly. "There's no such thing."

    My navigator will guide you part of the way.

    Not for long

    Retransmitters are damaged

    The range of direct control is limited

    The flying skull flicked its lens again, and it looked funny, just like a wink. Olga smiled weakly.

    It took a few minutes to organize the luggage in my backpack. Make sure the machine has nothing to eat, only water. Get plenty to drink, and grab a couple of very lab-medical-looking robes from the technical locker. Olga reasoned that Kryp would have to be wiped again anyway, and maybe even changed his clothes. Something clean would come in handy.

    Just don't die there, buddy, I'm on my way back.

    Olga felt a little warmer in her soul. Olga had already forgotten what it was like to think and care about someone. Especially now that life had taken on new colors.

    Only 37% made her nervous. But forty is not a hundred.

    "Well ... Let's move," Olga finally said, hoping that it sounded and looked more confident than her inner readiness for action.

    The printer rattled for the last time, printing again a rather extensive message.

    Olga

    I am not a sapient.

    I don't feel emotions.

    I have no attachment to animate entities

    But my existence and functionality involves the constant processing of information

    The information exchange with you is different from the daily exchange with the operators

    In the coordinates of emotional perception, it can be qualified as "interesting"

    Continuation and expansion of the exchange is desirable

    In the coordinates of emotional perception, it can be qualified as "hope"

    I was interested in communicating with you.

    I hope you'll come back and we'll keep in touch.

    Luck.

    Success.

    Surviving.

    If the above goals cannot be achieved, physical and emotional suffering of indefinite duration is inevitable.

    Pain and suffering are chaotic, entropic, useless.

    With such a development, I wish you a painless and quick cessation of existence.

    See you or goodbye.

    Olga almost choked on her saliva at the last admonition. Obviously, the Machine sincerely - as much as one can say about a set of electronic circuits - wished her good luck. But the machine's advice reeked of a kind of hopelessness. Hopelessness like "duck and cover."

    "Let's move," she repeated, feeling as if her lips were numb from the frost.

    She looked around the machine room one last time, so strange, chaotic, pointless, and stupid, unlike a normal computer room.

    And so cozy.

    Safe.

    "Lead me, skull, show the way."

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
  23. RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    What are you talking about??? No meta knowledge at all only hardcore. Only power of common sense.
     
  24. Vogan

    Vogan Getting sticky.

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    Hmm, maybe I need reread it in original, it was good.

    Are you sure this is QQ content? As I remember it closer to SB-with-warnings...
     
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  25. spheremonkey

    spheremonkey .

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    +1. No one reads CW on QQ and it is far easier to find a good beta on SV or SB.

    Repost it there please =)
     
  26. RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    It's just the only place where I didn't post mine (can I call it mine when Deepl and Grammarly did most of the work?) translations. And where I wasn't sent to school yet.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2021
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  27. Threadmarks: Chapter 10
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 10
    * * *​

    Again there was a hatch, stamped, clearly factory-made. At the same time, the metal disk with rivets bore the stamp of handwork and polishing. Some engraving, gears again, a code of long rows of ones and zeros... Fortunately, at least it opened easily, almost noiselessly, without the usual creak and effort. And then a new corridor appeared.​

    She turned to look at the engine room, which now seemed a hundred times more comfortable and homelike. How long had she been here? A couple of hours at most, probably less? And yet here the girl had found some rest. And at least some explanation of what was happening even found an interlocutor who spoke in human language. Well, how "spoke"... communicated, at least.​

    "Good luck, Machine," she whispered.​

    It would seem that what could threaten a computer behind armored doors in a deserted station? Especially with some "automatic protection". But... for some reason, it seemed like it was going to end sadly here. Okay. When it is glitchy, you should be baptized. And in general, "if you leave, then leave. She recollected the howl from the depths of the station. Yes, she should hurry before all these "states" began to change. And to understand what the computer meant when it spoke of "borderline". And she should also get past the assthropati.​

    She closed the hatch. Something clicked and turned in the steel disk, clanking its teeth. Olga checked it just in case - yes, it was locked from the inside. Now there is no way back, even if she really, really wants to. The girl slammed into the inside pocket of her jacket, where she slipped carefully rolled up printouts of the Machine. As it was, "find Fidus Kryptman, save Fidus Kryptman..." She more or less understood the scheme, but still counted more on the Guide.​

    Well, then she has to go and save the day.​

    The skull hovered to the side and behind, habitually moving its vertebrae. After a moment's hesitation, Olga reached out and touched the yellowish surface with her fingertips. The skull flicked its lenses but did not resist. The wanderer stroked it. The deadhead was slightly warm and vibrated faintly as if a motor was turning inside.​

    "Baldhead, give me a pie?" Olga smiled faintly.​

    The skull didn't answer and swayed in a wave of faint draught as if nodding.​

    "Yeah, you're right, it's time. Let's go."​

    Behind the back was a blocked technical exit hatch. Ahead stretched a corridor. Again a new shape. Not the old Soviet bureaucracy, not a brick vintage, and not even a fantastic tube. Now the designer was inspired by dieselpunk. Olga was to walk along the pipe, which resembled a very elongated oval in the cut. The "floor" also curved in a smooth half-circle, and how it was walked on - remained incomprehensible. Maybe people didn't walk here, but, say, flew? Or they rode monocycles.​

    Olga looked hopefully at the skull, but it was silent. She wonders, by the way, because surely nothing prevents the Machine from printing cards further? Then why is it silent?​

    "Hey," the wayfarer called with faint hope. In vain.​

    Olga thought that somehow too often she encouraged herself to move on without any action, and simply stepped forward. It was uncomfortable to walk. She had to put her soles in a single line, like a mannerist fool on a catwalk. White squares of light glowed at regular intervals under the ceiling. Thin pipes stretched along the walls, and incomprehensible twisted cables were held by iron hooks and loops. It was as if it was supposed to be navigated here in a violent rocking motion by holding on to the ropes. The corridor went far away. Olga sighed heavily, resigning herself to the pain in her ankles from her unnatural steps.​

    She wanted to take out the mirror and look in it. To look into the beautiful cornflower eyes, to regain her confidence and courage. But then the corridor ended abruptly. Out of the half-darkness ahead floated something that looked like a large iris. The strange door itself opened with a quiet rustling of petals, and a real blast of light fell upon Olga. Her eyes were used to the twilight, the artificial "economic" lighting. Now the diaphragm opened into the realm of the brightest whiteness, which - so it seemed at first glance - burned out Olga's retinas.​

    "Ahhhh... Fuck!" The girl twisted in place, covering her face with her wet sleeve. Tears spurted out again, and she saw colorful sparks under her closed eyelids. When the tears subsided, the girl squinted cautiously out from behind her sleeve. The light was not so bright. It was more of a contrast effect. After blinking, Olga decided that she could go on, especially since the skull flew forward, spinning around its axis as if checking to see if the companion was following.​

    Olga crossed the high threshold hurriedly, not without trembling. The diaphragm petals looked too massive, almost entirely embedded in the grooves in the walls. And too quickly, too easily, they came off. What if someone turned on the lock the second she was in the opening?​

    Nothing happened. Behind the oval tunnel opened another round tunnel, but with a normal floor and transparent walls. Behind which, in turn, was...​

    "God," said the shocked wanderer, looking around and covering her eyes with her palm.​

    Olga didn't know what "ballistic" meant, so the Machine's description told her nothing - a station it's a station. They come in all kinds. And now realization came crashing down on her with a heavy sledgehammer - "Station XVI" is not stationary, not hidden under the ground, and not even floating somewhere amid the waves. The giant hologram in the atrium is not an image, but a real window into the world around her. To the universe.​

    To the open space.​

    Forty thousand years? Is that really how it is?​

    "Oh, my God," the girl said, in shock, forgetting all the other words, including the very appropriate swear words.​

    It was beautiful, insanely beautiful. Stunning, unimaginable, fabulous. And terrifying, if only because now the space began not behind the vast well of the dark atrium, but directly behind the thin and transparent glass. Incredible colors, the sparkle of diamond and emerald dust, the edge of a yellow star that barely showed, but already exuded the glow of molten gold multiplied by a thousand times. And an impenetrable background of darkness so thick and inky that it seemed velvet in itself, trapping the splendor of total "nothingness".​

    It had never occurred to Olga to engage in what academic people call "reflection". But now, for the first time in her not-so-long life, she felt like a grain of sand, something vanishingly small in the infinite universe.​

    It was also very quiet. There was no noise of machinery, no ventilation, no humming of communications. There was an almost grave silence and peace. Only a breeze blew through the tunnel, rustling as in a deep mine.​

    The girl put her palm to the transparent concave wall. Olga thought the glass would be cold, but it was as if the pipe had no temperature at all. The traveler looked around more carefully, trying to distance herself from the grandiose panorama.​

    The transition tube was about a quarter of the way down into the shell of the station. It led almost straight ahead, to something tower-like and at the same time jagged, like a wooden massage roller. Behind her, however, rose a huge, stepped pyramid-like structure. Olga could not determine its size even approximately. Because here the reference to the coordinates was completely lost. "Huge" was all that could be said.​

    On the right hand, there was a similarly transparent tunnel, apparently a backup. On the left, she could see some trusses that looked like a monorail or a ropeway Something transporting as well. The exterior relief of the Station itself was complex and resembled space ships from a science fiction movie, but ... Something scratched the eye, and what it was, the girl could not say. Maybe the continuing space architecture's "otherness" or inappropriate hypertrophy. Or the very appearance of the stepped tower, which looked more like a temple, especially the broad bands of gold that curved at strict angles not a single rounding across the dark surface. It folded into incomprehensible symbols.​

    She quietly recited a children's rhyme.​

    And go.​

    It was much easier to walk here. The floor was overlapping panels with frequent slits. Multicolored bundles of cables could be seen underneath. It was light, smooth, and generally not stressful. Unless you count light bouts of sudden agoraphobia. The transition from a low-lighted cramped space to a huge space was too sudden.​

    The skull accompanied her properly. He occasionally flew a little forward and turned around, levitating with the back of his head forward for a while, as if checking to see if the person he was leading was in place. But mostly he kept to the left and slightly behind. Something inside his bald skull clicked and buzzed rhythmically, like a revolving flywheel. Olga imagined for a moment that there really could be some kind of counter that marks the meters covered by the rotation of the gears. She also wondered how everything was lined up under the yellow skull cap. Engine, printer, card stock, something optical. And it also buzzes with mechanical parts... Wonders of miniaturization and at the same time deliberately crude solutions.​

    As if in accompaniment to her thoughts, the skull started to worry. Clicking its jaws, it circled Olga several times, quickly changing lenses. The "tail" of vertebrae twitched, curling into a hook.​

    "What do you want?" The girl asked grudgingly.​

    The skull shook and, as if convinced of the companion's impenetrable stupidity, struck the transparent wall of the tunnel twice. Olga finally looked where she should have looked. Something was moving in the parallel tunnel. Olga leaned her forehead against the glass. She folded her palms like "binoculars" to keep the glare out of her way. Definitely, some kind of mechanism was rolling pretty fast, catching up. Something quite similar to a zombie tractor, only without the skulls on the tentacle-ropes. Taller, bigger, with disproportionately large "hands. She was not even sure they were hands at all, just some kind of tube-like thing.​

    Olga shrugged. Well, it's going and it's going...Although she has to walk faster, who knows where the exit will be. Although we have to walk faster, who knows where the exit will be. Wouldn't want to run into a robot at the next gate. The skull went berserk; it looked like it was going to start grabbing the jacket with its teeth, pulling me further up.​

    "Yeah yeah, I'm going," the girl soothed the deadhead.​

    The golden star rolled out from behind the edge of the station, slowly eating away the contrasting charcoal shadows. Olga estimated that she had to hurry. Judging by the brightness, when the light covers everything around her, she'd have to make some sort of blindfold. For lack of sunglasses. She was immensely annoyed by the lack of a clock and the impossibility of getting any kind of timeline. How long had she been here? Two days? Three?​

    Skull became "nervous," he flew behind her and started hitting Olga from behind.​

    "What do you want?" The wayfarer asked in a disgruntled voice. "Well, we're overtaking him."​

    She checked her statement with a glance at the parallel tractor. Yes, it was indeed lagging behind. At that moment a red beam slid across the glass as if the tractor was trying to illuminate Olga with a laser pointer.​

    "Fucking pointer," muttered the girl, starting to get seriously worried. The crawler hadn't come here by accident and was taking a personal interest in her. It could hardly be an intruder, sent on by the Machine. She mechanically staggered forward, feeling the ache in her strained muscles. She wanted to get to the tower ahead, with more time to spare. To be sure of avoiding another zombie chariot. It kept moving, tossing out a spoke of red beam every few seconds.​

    The tower was indeed getting closer. It was about halfway, or even less than halfway. Already she could clearly distinguish the faceted spikes on the entire surface of the "massage roller". And some antenna-like "whiskers" that looked like the bristles of a flea under a microscope. Olga had seen these in a single volume of the Soviet encyclopedia Fauna, which somehow ended up in the school library.​

    The tractor threw another beam. This time it was green for a difference. And then it began to do something strange. From the outside and through the double barrier - albeit transparent - it looked as if the tractor had lit orange parking lights on its manipulators. And began spraying whitish foam on the tunnel glass. Almost immediately, with literally seconds of hesitation, Olga heard a fractional clattering sound. It was as if someone was quickly throwing pebbles at the plastic sheeting. The sounds were well transmitted through the thickness of the metal and could be heard quite clearly, though muffled, aloof, as if through absorbent cotton.​

    The foam was getting more and more, the lights kept flashing in a clear rhythm that matched the pounding. Olga froze, trying to think what all this could mean. The green beam bounced intermittently around her figure. The girl mechanically covered her eyes, remembering that the green laser is the most "biting". Even balloons can be popped with it, so if it stung in the eye it would hurt. The humped figure of the tractor disappeared behind the white foam, and then a section of the next tunnel exploded silently.​

    A moment later, the surface beneath her feet shook. A thud swept through the glass tube. The air pressure scattered shards of the ruptured part of the tunnel upward and outward, but mostly upward, toward the stars. It looked like a burst of steam mixed with shards of sparkling ice. With a loud shriek, Olga crouched down, covering her head. Several pieces of debris struck her tube, but the material resisted. The steam dissipated into the void in a few moments, leaving only pieces of glass, glittering in the reflected light of the yellow star​

    The tractor, against expectations, did not fly into space. Although the depressurization blew out everything, including bundles of wires and several floor sections. From this distance, it was unclear whether the machine was magnetized or hooked by some kind of hook. But the machine stopped and again outlined the outline of Olga's figure with a green pointer. A light flashed on one of the "arms," and the transparent material cracked against the wanderer's head, spreading out in a web of frequent cracks. It was the way ice bent and cracked, hard but still thin enough when you hit it with a blunt crowbar. The orange lamp blinked again, and a new whitish "cobweb" the size of a saucer appeared. And another, and then almost immediately a fourth.​
    Her legs were already carrying Olga further, toward the tower of salvation. While her brain realized that the fucking tractor was simply firing at her, ignoring the obstacle. She mistook muzzle flashes for parking lights and cracks in the glass for foam. Apparently, that was what the automatic defenses the Machine had warned her about looked like. A robot with guns, like in Terminator.​

    Olga ran as she had never run before, to the point of her heart tearing out of her throat and the pain in her chest. She ran very, very fast. But the tractor was scorching faster. The hits on the tunnel followed with relentless frequency as if fired from a slow automatic firearm or a very fast single shot. The crawler terminator was firing at preemptive range. So, without turning around, Olga could see out of the corner of her eye - the strong material was holding. But the cracks are running, like on the same ice, joining into one continuous mesh.​

    The tower was only a short distance away. Olga felt as if her heart was about to jump into her mouth. The cool air was tearing into her lungs with sharp needles. The heavy bag was pounding her back in time with her jumps, and there was no time to throw it off. The clicking and crunching of hits faded into the background. A loud, ominous crackle burst into the foreground. The shelling had compromised the integrity of the glass, and the internal pressure was beginning to destroy the tunnel itself.​

    Olga had no idea about the physics of airless space and did not know exactly what would happen to her when everything went to shit. But she was sure that nothing good would happen, so she ran even faster. Even though it seemed impossible.​

    The thought pounded in the rhythm of her steps: Bitch, you mechanical motherfucker, when are you going to run out of bullets?! However, judging by the growing crackle, the bullets were no longer needed. The transparent material was remarkably durable and most likely reinforced in layers, like automobile glass. However, it could not take direct fire, and the integrity of the tunnel lived out its last seconds.​

    The end of the path appeared suddenly, but the passage was closed by a second diaphragm, seemingly as solid as the previous one. Olga had no time to be upset or properly frightened that she would remain here when the skull overtook her and rushed forward as if it were about to ram the barrier.​

    The crackling became deafening as if an asphalt roller were driving over broken glass. The crunch was joined by a piercing whistle and, almost immediately, by a hum that sounded something like the roar of a vacuum cleaner. The skull flicked forward a "tail" of vertebrae and, without slowing down, slammed it into the thick rump surrounding the diaphragm. The vertebrae must have been more than just a decoration, but some kind of local USB. The petals trembled and parted, opening swiftly and silently against the rumble of the breaking passage.​
    Olga rushed forward with one last desperate spurt. Enhanced by the pure energy of terror and fear of imminent death, because her muscles were failing.​

    And she did it.​

    The girl stumbled and fell, but on the other side. The glass finally succumbed to external damage and pressure from within. The impact, like the snap of a whip, whipped at her ears. Olga felt as if a giant's palm picked her up and yanked her back, outward, at the same instant the diaphragm closed, and she crashed into the steel barrier. The impact on the metal was violent, hard, to the point of crunching her bones. The girl fell, painfully smashed her face to the floor. Olga did not lose consciousness, but the spirit was blown out thoroughly, to the darkness in her eyes and spasm in her diaphragm, as from a blow to the solar plexus. So she lay there, spreading her arms and legs like a starfish, feeling the jacket on her back getting wet. It was either from the wound or the water bottle that had broken.​

    Her head hurt, her jaw hurt, everything hurt, and yet she was alive. God, if she was a second too late, it would be the end. Is this what forty percent of death looks like?​

    It was close.​

    Only the skull was left outside and was now probably flying somewhere in space. Olga felt sad about the thing. She had managed to get attached to it. Maybe somehow it would find its way back to the Machine? Yes, it was a pity for the bald head, but the girl felt even more sorry for herself. She drew in a breath, lay back with a groan, tucked her legs against her stomach, wrapped her arms around herself. Habitually, like in the old days, expecting a beating. Her breathing calmed, her heart ached as if it had been poked by needles. But it seemed to be ticking. There were no fractures to be found.​

    And she did come to ... The girl realized that she had forgotten the name. Oh, no, she remembered. Navigation and some kind of communication. Radars, compasses, big round steering wheels with handles, a bearded captain looking into a bullshit mirror, and command everyone to go up.​

    It hurts... But it's bearable. She can keep going. Compasses probably aren't dangerous. But, what the fuck isn't dangerous here, though?​

    She stood up with a muffled groan. She jerked her shoulders. Dropping her backpack. She felt her back, making sure she was soaked with water. Yeah, the bottle was broken. At least she got drunk before her quest. And the knife was still on her belt. Olga stroked her lower back and looked at the wide staircase that widened out ahead. Ordinary stairs, like stone, something like marble. To the right was an elevator that looked like a wheelchair, only three times bigger and with what looked like cages being loaded onto the platform. Just above the stairs was a banner that said, in blue letters on a white background:​

    Monitum!

    Astropaths!

    Periculum mortale!

    Caute!

    Morte!

    Wow, they know exclamation points...​

    Olga reasoned that the letters are not red, therefore, the danger is not reported. And even if they did, she had no choice. She wanted to sit down and rest, but she remembered about the terminator. What if he drove on and was already on his way?​

    "Compasses aren't scary," the girl muttered, lugging her backpack around. "And the assthropati can fuck itself."​

    And with slightly slurred steps she moved toward the marble-like white stone stairs.​
    * * *​
     
  28. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Hardcore - good.But common sense in WH40 - they would execute her.
     
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  29. RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Spoiler - she will survive. And it's will be 146% logical. Without Mary Sue's bullshit and the Emperor coming down from above.

    At really, many readers of the original whined that Olga should become part of Inquisitor Kryptman's team. That what happened is against the logic. She will survive, but... (and it's not about her physical state)
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2021
    Winged One and ATP like this.
  30. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Good.I remember some old storiy on fanfiction net when ST meet WH40 ,everybody was happy,and Look get Eldar waifu.It was really...funny.
    Although,if Olga get Eldar waifu,it would be funny,too.
     
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