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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 11
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 11
    * * *​

    The stairs were neither short nor long. It was just enough to exhaust an already quite exhausted and battered man with heavy luggage behind the shoulders. Along the way, Olga noted apathetically that the stone steps were worn, smoothed to the point where they looked as if they had been walked up and down for generations. This created additional difficulties - she had to be careful not to slip. At the top, there was another sculptural group, three circles on an intricate pedestal.

    Twice Olga rested briefly, sitting down on a moderately cool rock. She even wanted to lie down and mindlessly relax, but the wide-open space made her nervous. Some shit might sneak up on her. The light came directly from the high white ceiling, semi-circular, which looked like a corrugated pipe cut lengthwise. In the smooth glow, everything seemed equally sterile, lifeless, and doll-medical.

    Climbing the stairs, Olga once again thought about what is categorically incomprehensible. Where had the people gone? Judging by its size, the Station must have been well populated. Yes, and the Machine spoke of mass deaths and other horrors. Okay, let's say the corpses were removed somewhere ( by whom and where?). But the panic must have left traces anyway - garbage abandoned things, broken utensils. For an area that had suffered a disaster of this magnitude - to the point of near-desertion - the Station looked too well-kept. And at the same time too abandoned, as if people had left here more or less disciplined months, or rather years ago.

    It's weird.

    And there was no more water.

    Olga climbed up, shifting her legs with difficulty, and she shamed herself for her stupidity. She should have asked Machine to give her a normal flask, some chocolates, maybe some overalls. All this must be in the engine room, the local workers had something to eat, didn't they?

    I'm getting dumber with fatigue, she decided to herself, breathing heavily. Well, at least the triple ears of Mickey Mouse, as she called the landmark above, were getting closer.

    As Olga stood up, she realized that these were not ears. The composition looked more like another steampunk sculpture about two meters high. Three dials and a large valve underneath them. All based on a structure of intricately intertwined pipes. The structure looked both very practical and unbearably pompous. It seemed that just turn the valve and the black pointers would swing beneath the perfectly transparent glass. It looked like just another monument, like the recent mechanical hand with a comb in front of the Machine's hideaway.

    She took off her backpack and, with a sigh of relief, threw it onto the stone floor. A gigantic passageway opened before her like a trunk stretched out in length. It had the same walls, made of monumental panels with monstrous rivets, and a concave ceiling, though not corrugated like the stairs, but made of transparent panels with frequent grating. Outside, the view was of the same space. The star shone dazzlingly bright, but the glass seemed to punctuate the yellow rays in some clever way. The light seemed painful, but it was not blinding. Olga thought that she would still have to make a blindfold to protect her eyes, but she figured it would be better to go further in the shadows from the bars.

    Far ahead, the huge passage changed shape and transitioned into something incomprehensible, geometrically correct, but intricately twisted. As if a single corridor began to branch out, and at once in several planes, at different levels.

    Olga checked the diagram of the Machine. It took some effort, the sheets were crumpled in her pocket as she fled from the terminator. But the strict lines and symbols of the printer differed favorably from Fidus's doodles, so the girl quickly got her bearings. Yeah, that seemed about right. Fortunately, there was no need to get into the tangle of branches. The route turned a little earlier and led to a staircase or an elevator.

    One thing was confusing: the tower was clearly visible from the glass tunnel in front, which means that there should not be a "trunk lid" above my head. Could it be a hologram? Or some illusion of architecture?

    My teeth ached, softly but piercingly uncomfortable. Her skin itched as if tiny bristles were sliding across her body. Olga shook her head and decided to take another break. The sculpture seemed secure enough to sit, leaning against it. As she approached closer, the girl realized that there was something wrong with the dials. The whole composition seemed faintly floating. Slightly deformed, as if it were made entirely of wax that had been blown around with hot air from a hairdryer. Olga took out an old knife and tapped softly on the glass, then on the pipes and cylinders of the dials. The sounds were right, that is, the sculpture seemed to be made of appropriate materials. But if the metal had heated to that degree, why hadn't the glass melted at all and the plastic burned the hell out? And here, the paint didn't even peel off.

    The sounds in the dull silence resounded far and loudly. Olga looked around and decided not to experiment anymore, to be on the safe side. And she didn't want to lean into the steampunk either. It was necessary to go further. The toothache, meanwhile, intensified. Olga felt the roots of her hair itching, her mouth was dry and generally very hot. The itching crawled under her fingernails so that touching anything seemed unpleasant to the point of being painful.

    And the hum ... there was a monotonous hum in the ears, as if the bones of the skull resonated, transmitting the vibration to the auditory nerve. Olga shook her head, trying to shake out the sounds, like water after a bath, but it only got worse. The monotonous humming stratified into a chorus of muffled voices. They whispered something, spoke, tried to shout, and died helplessly, dissolving into nothingness. The hallucination seemed surprisingly real. The sound grew, and now a myriad of voices was pleading with the girl, warning, trying to stop her. More was to come, the world seemed to vibrate with the silent scream, like glass with an electric razor against it.

    Olga cursed tiredly, without fire or emotion, thinking that since her appearance here swearing was the basis of her speech. She wanted to bend over for her bag but decided first to at least symbolically comb her hair and generally assess the damage done to her appearance. The wood seemed warm, and somehow cozily warm in a special way. The glass, on the other hand, was cool, again pleasantly, very peaceful, like a breeze blowing on a hot, hot day. Just holding the homemade glass in the hand felt good, just right. If only it weren't so dizzy...

    Olga did not feel dizzy, it was more like a sudden stop of a merry-go-round. The world around her was in motion, spinning and yet unshakeable. Or vice versa. The cry of invisible voices grew stronger, merging into a gloomy surf that rolled over her consciousness, announcing something unspeakably sinister. It seemed that somewhere in the depths of the Station a real dark chorus had awakened, announcing the arrival of unspeakable horrors to gothic accompaniment.

    Olga took the mirror more firmly, feeling the hard edges crashing into the skin of her palm, not painful, but palpable. She raised it to eye level and looked into the murky glass...

    Hit.

    It was like a blow that struck at once through Olga's entire being, shook every cell, echoed the electrical signals that ran through the nerve wires. Trying to keep her balance, the girl staggered, flailing her arms. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a blue-violet wave of gas fire rushing down the "trunk" corridor. Then the traveler was enveloped in a glow and blacked out as if a switch had been flicked.

    ... and also abruptly turned it back on. Everything around me remained the same, but at the same time, it changed amazingly. It was as if the "Ballistic" had been completely abandoned not for years, but decades. Rust corroded the metal in deep, wet sores. Gray, some impure-looking stone, helpless against the cracks. Olga thought that the station she had seen before bore the mark of abandonment, but the real decay was revealed to her only now.

    The ceiling, high as a nine-story building, was gone, hidden by a veil that looked more like a spider's web than anything else. Only a spider's web, incredibly thick and woven from threads the thickness of a shoelace. The solid grayish weft descended low, so low that Olga could reach it by standing on tiptoe and extending her arm. The mere sight of that fringe sent a chill down her spine. The strings looked too much like thin leather laces, and she didn't want to think how the Station got so much leather. And now and then there was a shiver through the curtain as if it had been blown by the wind. Only there was no wind. The air hung, musty and stale, filled with the smell of mold. Imagination readily conjured up the image of something beyond creepy, something lodged in the center of the web, swaying it with its heavy breath.

    There were probably still windows somewhere up there. But not a single starlight shone through the cobwebs. The lights came from dim greenish-blue gas lamps that must have been some kind of emergency lighting. In contrast to the harsh, contrasting shadows provided by the light of the local sun, the shadows from the lamps seemed alive, flowing. They seemed to shimmer in the corners as a mass of ink, frozen under direct sight and moving as soon as my eyes were averted.

    The shred of gloom silently emerged from the gloom, tall - over two meters tall, to be exact - and skinny, like a man on stilts. The figure was broadly human, except that it was wrapped in either folded wings or a saggy mantle that dragged across the dirt floor. No, seemed it was the cloak.

    The whisper of unseen voices comes back. This time, however, quietly, as if accompanying the unfolding action with a background of hopeless despair. In general, everything that was happening seemed like a horror movie skilfully choreographed and incredibly realistic. This was the only thing that kept Olga from bursting into hysterics. A general state of detached grotesque. Here was the action, here was the panorama captured by the digital camera, and here was the musical accompaniment.

    Only they don't give you popcorn. And it's terrifying.

    The figure moved in the direction of the dial, silently, as if floating above the floor, but somehow strange, zigzagging, like a ghost with a motor. Suddenly it stopped as suddenly as it had appeared. It froze motionless, like a statue, even the fabric froze, falling in heavy folds, like on a monument. Now, as she came closer, about ten meters away, Olga was convinced that it seemed to be actually a man, without wings, but in a hooded cloak. And she also thought that the infernal alien seemed to be blind. At any rate, there was nothing in the creepy "monk's" behavior that showed he could see a visitor from the past.

    Blind Batman. Or something from the tales of the black hand and the coffin on wheels.

    And just as she thought about it more or less clearly, the figure twitched. The way a person with a loud clap of the hands over their ear flinched. The unknowing shit moved its head, and the girl saw that the figure had no face. In the opening of the hood, a blind, perfectly smooth surface, like frosted glass, gleaming in the reflected glare.

    Vidocq!
    [​IMG][​IMG] [​IMG]

    That's right, that was the name of that movie about the weirdo who took souls in a glass mask. The invisible face was hidden under something similar, only without a single protrusion. And as if in time with her memory, the cobwebs above her head quivered, and the grim alien moved again as if listening. The grave chorus fell silent, all at once, as if it feared to draw even the shadow of another's attention to itself.

    "Who are you, my guest?"

    In the first seconds, Olga did not realize that she heard a real live voice, and was quite intelligible. And when she did, she shuddered, quietly dropped to her knees, wrapping her arms around her skinny shoulders under the jacket that had never completely dried. She bit her lip until it bled, the salty taste on her parched tongue. She wanted to scream and howl, to drive away a creeping madness. Because the voice wasn't in her ears, it was coming out of her heartbeat, out of the echo of panicked thoughts in her head, out of the sound of blood running through her veins.

    "I know you're here."

    From behind him stretched out, unfolding, something mechanical, resembling both a scorpion's tail and a robot arm. The artificial arm moved in a circle over his master's head, its joints snapping. The iron fingers moved very purposefully and unpleasantly fast as if attracting invisible threads in the musty air. It was as if ... searching for something.

    "Oh, now I see. A poor, suffering child. With a soul that is full of pain."

    It was not a voice at all, and it was not in Russian or any other language. Rather, it was the knowledge of what the unknown person wanted to express. The knowledge was complete, imbued with infinite shades of emotion, surprisingly sincere and kind. The knowledge was born in the silence of the iron and in the sound of the water droplets that ran down the walls. It was whispered by the stone, suggested by the cold breeze that blew in from the void.

    It was too much. Too much for one day and one person.

    Olga felt she'd had enough and closed her eyes.
    * * *​
    Do you still think that mess with Warp it's a good idea???​
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2021
  2. Extras: Images
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

    Joined:
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    Fidus Kryptman var.1
    [​IMG]

    Fidus Kryptman var.2
    [​IMG]

    Olga (but blonde)
    [​IMG]

    Olga var.2 (but younger)
    [​IMG]

    Other images
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Threadmarks: Chapter 12
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

    Joined:
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    Chapter 12
    * * *
    The cloth of the robe rustled, in a peculiar way, very soft, like a silk ribbon. At the same time, both near and infinitely far away. Olga clutched herself into a lump, covered her head with her hands with such force that her joints were in a tired pain as if she hopelessly persuaded the master to stop torturing herself.

    That's enough. She's had enough. There is nothing. There's nothing and there can't be.

    A rustle. The rustling grows closer, wider, and wider, filling the universe. Like silk.

    Gentle, new silk...

    Like a hair ribbon, the very first gift of her life.

    Olechka, wake up, it's time for breakfast!

    What is it? Where is it from...?

    Well, there you are again, hiding. You're probably under the table with the book again, aren't you?

    The smile of a mother, the best person in the world. The kindest, brightest person who loves you just for being in the world. A mother's love is the last refuge for even the most disgusting scoundrel. But little Olga is not like that, she's good. And her mother is good. Everyone is very good, even her older brother and daddy. Only daddy has become angry a lot. And when he is angry, he drinks a lot of water from a bottle and becomes very strange. And he does strange, unpleasant things. And brother imitates him in everything and also behaves badly. My mother gets upset and feels bad.

    Found ya! Who's the prettiest? Who's the smartest? Who's the most obedient? Who is going to put the book down and go to the table?

    Olga felt warmth. A pleasant warmth glid over her body. It washed away the heaviness, the pain, the fatigue. This is how the summer sun warms up when the morning chill is gone, but the heat of the day is a little late. So warms a light-down blanket on a Sunday morning, giving moments of the most wonderful sleep of the week.

    She didn't open her eyes, but even through her tightly closed eyelids she could see, feel, the golden glow that gently flooded everything around her. It was pleasant to sit in, it called to dissolve in the glow, to float away on the carefree waves of happiness somewhere far away from here. Somewhere where everything would be fine.

    As it was once ...

    Porridge is healthy, and we'll make it delicious, too! A drop of butter, a spoonful of syrup... Like this. A spoonful for Olechka.

    Mirror. The mirror she found. How she wants to look into it and see a child's face with naughty pigtails. A face from her childhood, which seems so far away that it was not there at all.
    She was named after an ancient princess. Her mother chose it herself so that the girl would have the most beautiful name. It sounds full and deep, resonating with every sound, like a bell ringing. And if you want, you can also soften it, very, very gently. Olenka, Olechka... Oleshek, Oleshek, where are your horns? That's what Daddy used to call her, when he came home, bringing the heavy smell of gasoline and work. It was so great! But time went on. Dad would come back later and later. And "Olesha" was called to his daughter less and less often. It was as if everyone had forgotten her name."Daughter, daughter" to her mother, who began to fade, fade and turn into a shadow of her former self. And her father always had other words ready for her now... So did her girlfriends, who had become "exes" overnight.

    The warm, kind light around her faded. Deep gray shadows seeped through my eyelids. They surrounded me, like the Dementors from the fairy tale about the magical freeloader with the round glasses. They swarmed, emptying the soul, picking out all the light and good things that remained in the memory to the very bottom. Everything that was "before", leaving only what became "after". After little Olechka stopped being a beloved Olechka and understood well what bitter water is poured into special bottles for adults.
    Mirror! Here it is, warm and cozy, even through the fabric of the jacket it clings to the palm of the hand.

    "Poor child."

    Who said that? Olga didn't understand. The voice was just present. It came from everywhere, but it did not break into consciousness from outside but was born very softly, naturally. Like the whispering of the best friend in the world, who would never let her down and would always give her a shoulder to lean on.

    Like the words... of a mother?

    "Children. They were once called the flowers of life. In the age of steel anthills, few people know what a "flower" is. But I do. I remember. A child's soul is like a closed bud, ready to blossom, to open to the world. The most amazing miracle of the universe is a child whose destiny is not yet written. But like a flower, it is easy to trample, to humiliate, to mutilate. And how often this happens..."

    Olga wanted to cry. The tears rolled away on their own, seeping through her eyelids. Somewhere far, far away, at the very bottom of her consciousness, a lonely, pathetic voice of common sense screamed, wailing, warning her of something bad. That it was time to open her eyes and look around, no matter what horrors awaited her. That she had to save herself.

    But it seemed too scary. Olga fumbled with the dirty fabric and pulled the trinket out of her pocket. She clenched it in her fist. She pressed her knees to her chest, wrapped her arms around herself, trying to regain the feeling of all-encompassing warmth. To dive back into the golden glow. She wept bitterly in self-pity and understanding how right the kind voice of the world's best friend was.

    There were times when she wanted to die. But now she just didn't want to be. Olga felt like she was in the middle of a terrible merry-go-round of memories, a swirling theater of sinister shadows.

    It's because of you he drinks!

    Catch the freak.

    Why isn't your homework done, you bitch!

    The boots are dirty again! And they're torn, too. There's not enough money for you. You're like a homeless!

    It's meanness, real meanness to get so dirty!

    Why are you yelling, why are you yelling? Oh, does the belt hurt you? Doesn't it hurt me to wash your clothes every day? You've been messing around in them!

    What a beautiful barrette you have. Give it here, I need it more.

    Catch her, beat her!

    You'll eat it because it's healthy! Or do you want to die of tuberculosis?!

    "It's okay. It's okay. After all, what has already happened is gone forever, it's gone. It is dispelled by the blowing of time and is only stored in our memory. All the evil in the world is only the memory of our grief, a heavy burden that man cannot shed. But it's so easy to straighten up, to straighten your shoulders, to leave behind everything that has been slowly poisoning your soul."

    Olga howled, choking back tears, whimpering at the correctness of the invisible Friend's words. Who became closer than a mother, better than a mother. After all, he understood her like no one else. And his speech promised peace, deliverance from grief, a new life.

    "It's okay..."

    The voice sounded very close. It reached out and wrapped around Olga's very soul like delicate silk. It enveloped her, shut her off from all the horrors of the past and the present.

    It promised.

    It gave peace.

    "Now everything will be all right... I'll show you how to throw off the weight that people carry on their weak shoulders. It's as easy as walking through a tough door with no walls. You just have to see it and go around it. But before you can give up evil, you have to realize it. To understand it, to let it go."

    Just want to ... To understand, to let go.

    And finally the obliging, frantic memory, with treacherous readiness, showed Olga what was the worst. Well, almost... Worse than her drunken father, worse than poverty and unsettlement, worse than her sadistic brother and angry peers, who had discovered too early and too quickly how easy it was to bully a weak girl who loved books.

    What's stuck in her soul with a thin needle forever. She can't forget it, she can't get it out! The words once spoken in the heat of a woman, exhausted to the limit by her backbreaking labor and family troubles. Disappointed by the failure of her daughter, from whom so much was expected and so little received. And then repeated, in the same state of unconsciousness. And again, a little calmer, just out of anger. And again, a little calmer. And again, and again. Over and over again. Until they were just a regular statement.

    I wish you were dead. I would have cried on your grave and lived in peace

    I wish you were dead...

    "You want some happiness. But I will give you something better."

    "What could be better than happiness?" - silently asked the little, little girl. And her best friend answered:

    "His anticipation. That moment when suffering still lasts, but you already believe in a better life. You know that the bad will pass and the good will surely come. Better than happiness is the
    near hope of finding it. And I will share that hope with you."

    Hope... Yes, it was wonderful. It was clear and wonderful. Everything, at last, became clear. Olga smiled, opened her eyes. The light was everywhere, and she was light. And next to her towered the tall figure of the Best Friend in the world. And how could he have seemed scary to her? On the contrary, there was no one more beautiful and wonderful in the whole world. Someone always ready to support, encourage, and share her happiness. Someone who shares Hope.

    Olga smiled again, feeling the movements of her lips generate waves of pleasant warmth. Which, in turn, spread throughout her body, tingling her nerves a little. The girl had long forgotten what a genuine sincere smile was, and not just a routine reaction to a pleasant sensation. And now she remembered, and happily shared that memory with the universe.

    How good, how amazingly good, when you can really leave behind the weight of misery and memories. Olga smiled even wider, feeling her consciousness dissolve in a stream of golden light. Her Best Friend slowly reached out to take her by the arms, to take her away... Where...? Though what difference did it make. And the girl firmly knew that now all the time was at her disposal. There was no need to hurry anymore.

    She looked in the mirror and saw exactly what she was supposed to see. A very handsome, strong-willed, yet lacking in stiffness, face with eyes of an incredibly deep, rich cornflower color. The unruly hair, always sticking out in all directions like hedgehog needles, was now flowing in a wavy hairdo. It seemed to live a life of its own, flowing smoothly, caressing her head with the gentlest of touches. Olga smiled at her reflection, and it answered her... with a delay that lasted a fraction of a second.

    The girl turned the mirror to appreciate the art of the makeup artist who had shaded the play of light and shadow on her face, highlighting her cheekbones. And an unsolicited memory fluttered to the back of her mind. Something to do with... No, no way to remember.

    The reflected beauty shook her head, put her finger to her lips, warning against unnecessary thoughts that disturb harmony, that return misery. A wing of platinum hair fluttered again with wonderful smoothness.

    "No need to look back," the silky voice rustled. "No need to pick up again all the pain you've left behind."

    My best Friend's words... Something in them resonated, something familiar. Familiar and extremely unpleasant, like a damp patina on an expired soybean sausage. It still looked delicious and inviting, but the touch was already unpleasant and promised long prayers to the sacred white stone. She didn't want to think about it. She did not want to remember, but she also could not dismiss it at all. The reflection in the mirror winked invitingly, and the cornflower eyes flashed an extreme concentration of ultramarine.
    "
    Your road leads forward, only forward."

    Olga's heart thudded, missing one beat. The gradation of resentment and frustration of the girl with the naughty straw-colored hair was vast and rich. And a large part of it was " show attention and humiliate" fun. For obvious reasons, it was mostly the "girlfriends" who were into it. But my brother made his mark, too. The most important element here was the first stage when it was necessary to lull the victim's guard, to make her believe that all the broken is glued, and the outstretched hand of friendship will not strike at the last moment. But the blow always followed, no matter how much one hoped for the best.

    But that's all behind, isn't it?

    Olga looked at herself in the mirror, looking for support in her new image. So beautiful, so fairy-tale like at the ball...

    At the ball.

    In a fairy tale.

    It's all happened before. She had seen it all before. But where? A long time ago, in another life, tens of thousands of years ago. A faded disc with a dozen movies on it, barely one on top of the other, with cropped credits. Some adventure crap, and then there's "Infinity Story" and "Labyrinth". The first Hollywood movie fairy tales little Olya had ever seen. "The Story" didn't hook the girl. But the second film touched her heart and inspired a hidden sadness and longing for another life. And then there was the gorgeous Goblin King. He was cool, stylish, charmingly long-haired, and bewitched by amazing visions. The heroine of the movie needed something... very much needed.

    Yes! The heroine was looking for her lost brother. And Olga herself was also looking for something. Something very important... Something connected with the deep blue color. And black, too. Black and blue, like the bruises from hard beating.

    And then it flashed in her head. That's what happens when a person remembers about a frying pan on the stove in a half-slumber. Or when, in a sweet pre-morning nap, one suddenly realizes that he hadn't set the alarm clock and now he's definitely overslept. The sudden realization hits at once and brutally, like a hammer blow. That's what happened now, to her.

    Kryp! The wounded, maimed Fidus, who waits for her. He will die without her.

    The reflection wrinkled, its lips pressed together in displeasure. Olga looked at herself in the mirror, and now she could see that it was not her that was reflected in the uneven circle. A very similar face, and yet a completely different person. A mask. A cunning deception. The outstretched hand of friendship, covertly and thickly smeared with snot. A needle stuck in stealthily. An insult that is thrown into a trusting face with a gleeful laugh.

    A fraud!!!

    The body worked faster than consciousness. Olga threw back the mirror and retreated a step. The golden glow turned into a tangle of threads that swiftly turned black and curled into ashy rags, clinging to the victim like the petals of a predatory plant. But the girl, with an unintelligible shriek, broke through the barrier. Where she had just been, it was as if a mournful wing had flapped. It whipped the mantle of the sneaking freak in the blind mask. His third artificial claw snapped, missing his victim by a finger or two.

    The mirror fell and shattered, all of it, including the wooden base. It shattered in a myriad of tiny shards, each one more like a needle. A silent flash of light exploded as if the trinket had been a flash grenade. Olga cried out. Covering her eyes with her hands, she bounced away awkwardly, seeing through the wave of ghostly light how the figure in the robe was spinning on the spot, grasping the air haphazardly with all three limbs. It looked like a crazed garden scarecrow.

    The girl stumbled and fell on all fours, crawling away. And trying to blink.

    The hallway around her returned to its normal state of dusty abandonment. Gone were the horrible tangle of leather cords, the rust, and other decay. And the garden scarecrow remained. But it had changed as if all the colors had been pulled out of it. Fucking sorcerer now looked like a half-embodied ghost. And deadly nonetheless. The long-robed figure was nowhere near as terrifying as the creatures in the apothecary's warehouse, but there was no doubt in her mind that she had now walked on the edge of something terrifying beyond belief. And irreversible.
    Olga froze, trying not to even breathe. The scarecrow froze in place, head spinning and arms outstretched. The shards beneath its feet crunched, shimmering with a mysterious light as if illuminated from within. Oh, it wasn't an easy mirror she'd found back then... But the blind freak seemed to have lost her.

    Keep it quiet...

    Olga moved, still not getting up, crawled on all fours in a roundabout manner, intending to get to the bag. For several minutes this strange scene lasted, as if from a movie. The attacker, trying to hear the victim, and the furtive fugitive. Olga did make a couple of noises. Her hands and feet were stiff and unresponsive, still shackled by the drowsiness. But the scarecrow also went deaf. Now there was nothing, absolutely nothing left of her best friend.

    Hope? Stick it in your ass, thought Olga vindictively, quietly slipping her hands into the straps of the bag. Now it was necessary to walk in the opposite direction to get further, according to the map of the computer.

    "I don't think so," said the voice in her head, oozing good-natured irony.

    Oh, fuck...

    Olga froze. And the figure took two quick steps in her direction, but at an angle, not directly. Now the fugitive from Vidocq did not seem blind. It was as if he perceived the world differently, not with his eyes, not with his ears. He froze again, staring into the void with his glass mask.

    "Self-sacrifice, that's commendable," the voice said, speaking directly to the meanings in Olga's head. "But where did it get you?"

    The girl pulled the strap over her right shoulder with trembling fingers.

    "Father. Mother. Brother. Peers. They all bought something in their lives."

    Her left shoulder trembled, and the bag almost fell off. Olga bit her lip to the drop of thick and strangely cold blood.

    The figure straightened up and froze with his arms at his sides.

    "Self-confidence. The suppression of complexes. Sense of greatness. Relief from fears. The common pleasure, finally."

    The last phrase sounded with sad and understanding sympathy. Olga blinked, biting her tongue to keep from screaming at the last words. She felt as if her very soul had been turned inside out and shaken, revealed to the world to the utmost corners. And then plunged into the village latrine. Tears trembled again on the tips of her eyelashes. Somehow it occurred to her that after so much sobbing, her eyes must have turned red all over, like a vampire's.

    They acquired for a time what they lacked. But they didn't pay. It was you, poor child, who paid the bill. Your time for their time. Your humiliation for their brief enjoyment of their importance. Your tears for their laughter. Pain and heartbreak for ...

    "No!!!" burst out of the girl, on its own. A terrible cry, breaking from the depths of her soul, which denied everything, demanded to stop, not to continue, not to awaken what had been long and firmly buried.

    "Oh, yes." The creepy scarecrow sensed weakness and took two confident steps in the exact direction.

    Now Olga did not doubt that the creature - as wild as it sounded - was targeting her thoughts, feelings, emotions. It was provoking her, stalking her. Which meant that it was necessary not to cry. To clench her teeth and suppress the urge to scream again in a voice of fierce longing. The pale undead was already three-quarters faded, dissolving like a movie projector beam in a stream of steam. A little more, and it would be gone completely. She just has to endure.

    "It was your beloved brother, wasn't it? It was him, wasn't it?"

    Olga kept silent. She bared her teeth like an angry rabbit and pulled her homemade backpack up so that it didn't pull her shoulders down so much. The vented composition was now placed strictly behind her, and the sinister undead straight ahead and slightly to her left. Olga held back a sob and stepped quietly to the right. The figure was still saying something, but the girl managed to ward off the stranger's words. Not for long, but enough to take imperceptible steps around the enemy in an arc along the wall. It helped greatly that the enemy was visibly weakening. As reality itself pushed him into the other side of the world, the sorcerer's voice faded as well.

    However, the self-control that was forced out on the pitiful remnants of the will was not enough for long.

    But everything repeats itself, doesn't it? Alone, in another world, in another time, with a knife against dangers, you can't even imagine. And for whom is all this for? You don't know anything about the Inquisitor. How much evil has he done? How many innocents did he torture in the name of blind faith?

    A step, another step. The enemy sensed her proximity, made quick turns on the spot, turning his head like a radar. But in vain.

    "Again, someone buys something for himself that he is deprived of. And again you pay someone else's bill. Only this time voluntarily. Selflessly. Ready to trade your life for extra hours of life for the Inquisitor."

    Olga estimated that now she could run. On the other hand, who knows what kind of spurts the enemy is capable of. No, it was better to go slowly, but safely.

    "A useless life, which even its master does not need because it brings only disappointment. After all, our poor Fidus has spent his whole life in humiliation. A weak nobody in the shadow of the glory of the great Kryptman Sr."

    Wow. And Kryp, it turns out, has a long history. However, the mention of the father-child problem didn't really strike a chord in her heart.

    "Only this time, the price will be too high. No one will say thank you. No one will even experience passing gratitude. They will take for granted all your sacrifice, all the mad courage of a lonely little woman. And they will condemn you for a "heresy" you don't even understand."

    Fuck you.

    "Child, there are many paths ahead, but if you go to the Inquisitor, all of them will eventually lead you to death. Think about it."

    The scarecrow man seemed to have exhausted his set of persuasions. His words sounded weighty and right, but Olga remembered all too well the feeling of unclean stickiness that turned the golden light of hope. Maybe regarding Kryp the scarecrow was right. Except that he himself did not wish the unexpected guest any good. Which meant that he had to go to hell with all the pathos and heartfelt speeches.

    Olga was greatly tempted to think expressively, or maybe to say something very effective, catchy, loudly, in farewell. But she still shuddered at the mere sight of the steel hand that hovered over her owner's head. If the demon was tracking her by the vivid images in her head, she shouldn't be giving him a clue.

    Fuck him.

    She walked sideways for a long time, keeping her guard up. Trying to keep her eyes on the scarecrow and the road ahead at the same time. At last, she was out of sight, turning into the side passage, as marked on the diagram.

    - - -

    The figure stood absolutely still, so still that even the folds of the cloak sagged in heavy folds as if carved from stone. Only the arm behind his shoulders had a life of its own. It swiveled on its owner's head, flicked its four knuckles, and generally acted as a living, seeing thing. A steel snake with cores of cable, always on watch, always on his master's guard. As it went on for about five minutes, maybe more. The sorcerous creature was either sinking into the deepest contemplation or ...

    Without warning, the figure shook its head. The blind mask caught the dim ray of light, absorbing it without a trace. And, as if in response to a silent command, the tangle of a giant web trembled. The tinder, woven from the skin of the most loyal, most worthy servants, swayed and shuddered as if it were alive. Or as if something massive was descending from above, moving the thick threads with a multitude of hands.

    The manipulator twisted once more, clicked, and folded at three joints, hiding in the folds of the cloak. The warlock removed his hood, revealing his head, completely bald and disproportionately small to his body. The mask hid his entire face and was bolted directly to his flesh with the usual self-tapping screws. The inflamed wounds were bleeding faintly, as they had very recently, and oozing acrid pus, but the figure was not at all bothered by it.

    The web swayed particularly violently, then swayed several times in a hushed rhythm, as if the invisible creature descended to a lower level and froze in anticipation.

    "She rejected the gift, I can't see her anymore," said the man (or rather, not a man a long time ago) in the sinister mask. This time he spoke for real, the words were muffled from beneath the mask, not adapted to voice transmission. But the hidden interlocutor understood everything.

    "I can't find her. But you can."

    The sorcerer waved his hands and wiggled his fingers, which, unlike anything else, seemed quite normal. On the dirty, scuffed floor, a string of footprints slowly emerged, as if imprinted with lilac-colored ink glowing in the half-dark. The trace floated and flickered, like an image on a faulty television set, striving to fade into the shadows. But the ominous figure continued to draw the prints out of oblivion with deft strokes.

    "Follow her," the masked man ordered. "Don't hurry, don't spook her. We need her. And her ward, too."

    He was quiet, with his head tilted to the side, as if listening.

    "Of course," the sorcerer paused and admitted. "Amazing willpower. Who would have guessed that so much courage was hidden in such a pathetic shell..."

    The invisible in the nets expressed disagreement, rather symbolically, not for the sake of argument, but accuracy.

    "Do you think so?" asked the sorcerer from under the mask. "The complex of an unloved child, who wants to earn the approval and attention of the parents... In this case - the father figure embodied in the courageous inquisitor... Yes, perhaps."

    He was quiet.

    "But I think the strong maternal instinct that she unconsciously transfers to Kryptman has more to do with it. After all, he appeared to her at once weak, helpless, just like a baby."

    A pause, filled with an ominous silence and mute speech that only two could understand.

    "Father or baby, it doesn't really matter. The important thing is that she takes Kryptman very personally, so she will return to him. And she'll lead you to him."

    After thinking for a while, the figure clarified the order:

    "Kill the Inquisitor. Bring me his head and spine."

    This time the mysterious servant (or maybe the companion? who knows) was not happy and directly expressed his dissatisfaction.

    "Because I'll pull from his postmortem memory everything the Inquisitors know about us," the sorcerer condescended to explain. "And because I like the idea of making a "servo" out of him. Let him serve after death what he unsuccessfully tried to fight in life."

    There was a grim irony in the invisible one's reply.

    "Yes, not without success," the figure admitted, gritting his teeth from beneath his mask. "And all the more he owes me."

    Another pause. The invisible one asked for instructions regarding the second subject.

    "Alive. Intact. Unharmed," the tall one said, very distinctly and very clearly. "I need her. We need her."

    The manipulator trembled, turned around in an attacking snake, its fingers spread out like the tip of a trident, reflecting its owner's latent excitement.

    Yes, our time is running out. We have accomplished much, but we have not achieved complete success. Soon the Inquisitors will come in full force. Time is running out, it is time to leave. But this soul is amazing, unique. It comes from a time when the Other Side was safely hidden and locked away. That is interesting in itself. It is a phenomenon worthy of the closest scrutiny.
    But most importantly, it can be used.

    The web twitched again. The threads shook. The unknown interlocutor seemed to have descended even lower, to the point of extreme interest. Through the shaggy sweat of leather cords now peered... something. Something the average person should not see. And no one should see anything at all. Because there are good things, there are bad things, and there are things for which there are no definitions because no language can describe their essence.

    "Yes," judging by the changed tone, the man smiled wryly beneath the blind plaque on his face. "When I test and prepare the girl, you will absorb her soul, dissolve and distill it. Then I'll make a transcendent lockpick with which we can open the most invisible doors in the Other Side. And no psyker, no navigator will be able to trace our paths."

    The Invisible One manifested himself materially for the first time. It looked as if a multitude of people had slipped their greedy, convulsively twitching hands into the loops of the leather washcloth at once. And just as quickly yanked back out. A few dark drops slapped the floor, and the tarlike viscous liquid hissed into the marble.

    "If it didn't work in this place, well, we'll try in the other," one monster promised the other, and immediately warned him. "Be stealthy, don't spook the girl. She's been carrying the "flect" too briefly, the scent is barely detectable, and it would be hard to guide you and let it manifest. Our reward, however, will be quite generous. You follow the trail, and I'll prepare the lab."

    * * *

    So, a brief look at Olga's past.
    Also, cavalry is on its way. Hurrah.​
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2021
  4. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Best friend and Hope? in WH40 it mean smart Chaos leader.But - dude from Vidoc could be Chaos sorcerer.Tzaaneth existed in 19th century,according to lore./good movie,by the way/
    Olga is extremally lucky to survive till now.If she keep alive Krypt,she could become Acolyte.With her luck,she eventually become Inquisitor.And die heroically.

    P.S Sorcerer was right about dying if she choose Inquisition - but he do not said when,and that her fate as sorcerer acolyte would be worst.
     
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  5. RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Ha-Ha. It's so fun. You know ALL paths lead to death. If you are not Eternal, Demon Prince, or Lucius.
     
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  6. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Or pulpfiction protagonist.They never died,only rode to the sunhine with blond boobzilla.
     
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  7. Threadmarks: Chapter 13
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 13 of 16

    What this "astropathy" was, Olga did not know. However, it had to be admitted: compared to it, all the previous architecture of the Station could be confidently considered ultra-conservative. At least, it was clear that on Ballistica lived, albeit strange, but still, people, and accordingly, the living space was somehow organized around it. Here ... The farther Olga got, constantly checking the computer drawing, the stronger she got the feeling that people did not live and work here. Or, more precisely, not entirely people. In every way.

    First of all, from a certain point, she noticed that straight angles disappeared. Everything became smooth, rounded, and streamlined. It was also three-dimensional. The corridors meandered, merging seamlessly into one another, diving into the gaps of nowhere and spiraling upward. It was not clear how they had climbed up them. Probably, they rode on some carts, for which, by the way, there were rails, and not double, but triple. The middle band did not seem to be of ordinary steel but gleamed with gold. Though there was no way to tell if it was really soft gold.

    Olga fumbled with the hilt of an old knife and wondered if she could try to break off a piece. The temptation was great, but the mere thought of dragging a little more weight was a wistful horror. No. Maybe some other time...

    Never mind, there will be a feast on our street, too. And a truckload of candies will crash under our windows.

    The walls were painted a plain white with a creamy hue. And it looked like a whole gang of crazy sculptors and equally crazy graffiti artists had worked on them. To begin with, everything was hand-drawn in intricate symbols. The style was very different from the previous location. There were almost no number-like signs and none of the usual skulls. But there were plenty of intricate patterns, like Satanists' demon-calling dabs, and the frequent repetition of the three letters, "AAT," in every conceivable form. It seemed as if the locals were trying to protect themselves or summon some unknown shit before they all fell into the ground. And they were doing it long and hard, as if they were painting for a long time, very diligently. Clearly, they painted for years (or maybe even centuries?), with a heart.

    The vibe of a fortress under siege was reinforced by bundles of long spokes growing straight out of the walls, like porcupine needles or tricky antennas. Looking more closely, Olga realized that there was a certain pattern. The winding lanes of the corridors and the entire design, in general, seemed designed to catch something free-flying and point it toward the antennas. It was as if streams of water or radio waves were running through the corridors and behaving like a normal draught.

    Some sections of the wall were covered with thick bars, apparently of copper. And in some places, the most common barbed wire hung from mighty rebar crutches. And burned, even slightly melted, as if it had been struck by lightning. And there were no doors, only continuous corridors. After thinking for a while, Olga decided that maybe the doors were well disguised, and since she didn't need them anyway, the hell with it.

    By some miracle, she didn't get lost. Or maybe she was, but she didn't notice it. Anyway, a quite ordinary elevator was waiting for her at about the indicated point. Olga dutifully tried to activate it, pulling a long, intricately curved knob with a large red stone. The platform did not move, and not even a light bulb flashed. Olga sighed heavily and began to look for some kind of technical ladder, and her experience suggested that there would be one.

    It's was.

    The girl looked down. She thought down is not up. But if she fell, it would take her a long time. She wanted to swear but realized that she was dead tired, and she had no strength even for swearing. All this inhuman nonsense - tractors, demons, three-meter mutants, sentient computers, crazy vidocq - all blended into one lump of feverish delirium. She didn't want to remember it, much less think about it.

    "I hate you all," she announced into the void and prepared to climb the riveted stairs, covered in condensation and rust stains. The bag was pulling on her shoulders and pressing against her back.

    Descend, cross over, descend again. Another technical tunnel. It looked like a laundry tunnel and let her out into the familiar atrium. More precisely, in the corridor that just exited into the atrium. Olga felt the tears coming to her eyes. This was becoming a habit. Only this time - for a change - it was tears of happiness. Almost even tears of tenderness, as when she returned to her home.

    Olga reached or rather weaved her way to the railing. She threw off her backpack and leaned against the cold, wrought metal, trying to imagine how many fucking kilometers she had walked, climbed, and crawled in the depths of the fucking Station? And how long it had taken. And how much time had she spent in this forty-thousand-year era, anyway?
    She should have gone to save Kryp, but the girl froze in a blissful stupor, resting.

    It was getting dark. It looked like the star was moving away to the opposite side of the Ballistic Station. The statues below loomed in almost indistinguishable shadows. It was dusky and quiet. Olga looked down again. Spitting impishly, she imagined that there was someone's bald spot far below. And thought with all the common sense available - did she need to save Kryp?
    The asshole in the mask was right about something, no matter how you look at it. Well, Crip. Well, Fidus. Young guy, good-looking. So what? There's a lot of good-looking people in the world. And there's a lot of ugly ones among them, she knows it too well.

    What does she know about Kryp? How can he help her?

    And anyway, why the fuck did she rush off into the middle of nowhere, risking her life?

    Olga understood that she overthinking. That she should take a break to think, to rest, to sleep. But all understanding dissolved in the growing wave of anger. And one simple thought - what the fuck, actually!

    She kicked the duffel bag with the heavy first-aid kit inside it. She took a heavy gulp - she was thirsty. She whispered:
    "Kryp, are you an asshole too?"

    Meanwhile, deep shadows crept in from the corners. It looked like it was going to be a natural night. She wondered if there was any illumination.

    Olga sighed heavily again. This action was becoming as habitual as the regular tears.

    "Ah," she exhaled sadly, pulling up her backpack by the strap.

    Well, let's hope you're not dead after all.

    According to Olga's calculations, she should have walked a few dozen meters along the balcony to get to the hole with the skull. And there was Fidus, who was either alive or not. Well, it's time to see.

    Although it would have been better if he had died.

    Some... very rational thought. It's a sensible and very logical thought. If Kryp had died by himself, so many problems would have been solved.

    To chase it away, Olga paced faster. Thinking more and more she began to call Crip by his funny name - Fidus. Funny... She looked out into the abyss of the atrium and quickly crouched behind the railing. A black dot, dark even in the gloom of the approaching darkness, was climbing up. Like a flea, it crawled from floor to floor, crawling up the wall. Like a spider. Except that given the distance, this "flea" should not be the size of a small fly-eater.

    Olga strained her eyes to the point of pain, squinting in an attempt to see more. Surprisingly, at that moment she did not even think that she might be in danger. Fear was caused, rather, by another outlandish sight, itself. The flea climbed another three or four stories up, and Olga was able to get a better look at the creature.

    The legs are more than four but seem to be less than a dozen. It was either a short tail or an elongated torso. And the head... like the head of a praying mantis or an elongated bulb. She'd probably seen it all before, hadn't she? Her throat was tight, and the sweat on her back under her backpack felt as if it had turned to ice at once. And at once, as if she could read her mind, a nimble shadow on the wall twisted and slid onto another floor. It disappeared from view.

    Olga sat clinging to the railing. She was afraid to breathe and afraid to look back. It seemed that a creepy shadow was already lurking behind her. Just waiting for the victim to turn her head.
    At last, the girl exhaled when her chest began to sting from lack of air. The demon didn't seem to notice her and was minding his own business. The same one that killed the big guy in the alchemy warehouse? Or was it a different one? How many of those freaks could there possibly be?

    Olga suddenly wanted to go back to the fairy tale that the masked jerk had created for her. It was very cozy there. But she had to be strong. She had to keep going. Thankfully, there was not much left to go on. Every step was difficult, her knees ached and even seemed to squeak with stiff cartilage.

    But still, she made it.

    Kryp understood everything at once. Olga did not bring help. And this was a real blow to him. Olga was already used to the fact that the cape bearer had a tungsten rod instead of a soul, which could not be bent. The more frightening was the rapid, almost instantaneous transformation. The Inquisitor seemed to shrink, to droop. His face, already contorted with a grimace of enduring pain, melted into a mask of hopeless despair. For a few minutes, Kryp lay there, clenching his jaw and twitching his healthy arm as if to beat out an inaudible rhythm. The girl, meanwhile, pulled the first-aid kit from the bag, hoping that this time, too, Fidus would figure it out.

    He figured it out. Although he looked at Olga with immense surprise. It seemed that the girl had pulled out of the bowels of the Machine some amazing rarity, which Fidus had never expected to see. But, anyway, the lame man got it right and began rather briskly injecting himself with something that looked like disposable syringe tubes. Then it was time for another hygienic procedure, combined with wiping with ointments and plasters. Olga worriedly noticed that they were having water problems again. And she took a couple of generous sips of coffee meth, to relax her mind a little. The head rumbled weakly, the warmth began to spread from the stomach. Olga very "incidentally" remembered that she had not eaten anything... How long had it been? Yes, since she had appeared here or so it seemed. Given the exertion, hunger would soon turn into exhaustion. And she didn't want to eat much, apparently, the constant stress had blocked her instinct for a while.

    One thing was good. It seems the Machine's medicine kit was a treasure of miracles. The Crip had gone from being dead to looking like a very sick man, literally, in front of my eyes. And there seemed to be painkillers in the kit, so the grimace of suffering finally left his haggard face.

    Swallowing and suppressing the desire to spit after hygiene marathon number two. Olga searched her pockets for "Scheme B," which Machine recommended she give to the Inquisitor. She found it, but, contrary to expectations, the crumpled sheet of Fidus was not very impressive. Apparently, Kryp expected more. It brought the wounded man out of his gloomy stupor a little, though. And Fidus, pushing himself, began to ask questions.

    Things were slow, given the language barrier, but they were gradually moving along. Primarily through an exchange of drawings. The wounded man was very surprised to learn that Olga had only seen one big man. Cripe called him "Imperatoris filius elected". Olga remembered Machine's description of the "X-Factor" and clarified that there seemed to be two big men, but all had gone to the other world. Here the conversation came to a standstill. The usual symbols of death and destruction said nothing to Crip. He stared perplexedly at the painted coffin and the stylized grave, until, at last, Olga crossed out resolutely the two figures symbolizing the "elekted". And then she crossed again, making horrifying faces.

    But when it came to the description of the six-legged creatures... Looking at the schematic sketch of a creature, the inquisitor flinched and looked at Olga. The girl did not even really understand what exactly was expressing the look of an unwilling companion. It was a strange expression. It was a mixture of surprise, disbelief, and something else. It was the look she had seen in people who remembered something they wanted to forget but could not. She saw the same expression in her eyes in the mirror, in the morning, after ...

    She turned away, suppressing a sob. The Black One interpreted it in his way. He thought the girl was frightened (which was actually true). He tried to soothe her gently, even reaching over to stroke her head. And then he insistently asked, or rather demanded, to draw the monster again. Olga did her best. She patiently pulled the details out of her memory. It had to be said, the face, depicted a second time in the notebook, came out better indeed, more expressive. Scarier, at least. Crip stared at it for a long time with the same expression. Then he leaned back on his bed, closed his eyes, and clenched his healthy hand in a fist against his heart. After a long pause, he asked quietly but distinctly into nowhere:

    "Patrem, recte vos?"

    They returned to the dialogue with the drawings. When Olga drew a cloaked figure with a third arm over his shoulders. Fidus perked up again, he clearly understood who was depicted by Olga's hand, despite all the cartoonish conventionality. In Creep's tired gaze the girl read another stage of amazement and a note of deference. And she, looking at her adventures in retrospect, straight up even squatted. Indeed, the list looked solid. You can just shoot a movie - here and superhumans, and strange monsters, and the Machine, and finally, a scarecrow in the mask. Just like in the fairy tale about Kolobok, who got away from everyone.
    Kolobok by the way escaped the Wolf, the Bear, but was eaten by the Fox in the end.
    She would also like to know who all these freaks are.

    Fidus went back to studying "Scheme B" again, sighed heavily, and said something incomprehensible. It sounded without much optimism, but not entirely hopeless, more like a description of the hard, joyless work that was impossible to avoid. And then he seemed to fall out of reality, going either into deep meditation or fainting. At this point, Olga decided that today's adventures were enough. The rubber "rations" were running out. No more than half a bottle of water remained. She should have got some more napkins to wipe Kryp off and preferably another bottle of this not-cognac to keep her sane. But that was all for tomorrow. More precisely, after the rest.

    She plopped down on the hard floor without taking off her jacket. She covered herself with the lab coat, which had lost the sleeves that had been used to wipe Fidus. She crouched down, wrapping her arms around her knees. Just like the Alien who'd had his head bashed in by the giant. Olga was shaking and freezing, and she kept thinking that a fang-faced face with a mantis-like head was about to come out of somewhere, but she fell asleep surprisingly quickly.

    Her sleep was discontinuous, nervous, and she often woke up. Her back and legs ached. Twisting and turning over, Olga did not notice how she snuggled up to her companion. It became a little cozier. Fidus turned out to be warm and moderately soft, and she could comfortably lay her head on his hand. Olga fidgeted half-asleep, getting comfortable, and quietly dozed off again.
    The inquisitor came to his senses. The girl whimpered softly in her sleep, very thinly and pitifully. She was dreaming of something unkind again. Kryptman stroked her blond head, ran his hand gently over her shoulder like a curled-up kitten. She did indeed seem very small near the almost two-meter tall inquisitor. Fidus pressed her tighter. The companion in misfortune calmed down, biting her finger without waking up. The exhausted inquisitor lay staring up at the low, red-lit ceiling. Stroking a very brave and, it seems, very unhappy blond girl. And he was thinking about something of his own.
    * * *
    And 100% sciense proof reason why computers not so good. Tzeenche approves it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2021
  8. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Nobody expected pillow Inquisitor.Great work ,author!
     
  9. Threadmarks: Chapter 14
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 14 of 16
    * * *

    Olga woke up instantly, with no transitions and no period of drowsy semi-drowsiness. It was surprising, considering how exhausted the girl had been in the past few days. She was awakened by a sensation. Something strange, as if a draught had blown across her heated face. Or a feather brushed across her cheek. A feeling on the verge of the tangible, even the slightest bit over the edge. So weightless that it was as if it did not exist. But still, Olga woke up, opened her eyes, groaned softly, seeing the hateful red light behind the thick bars.​

    "Again," the girl whispered. "It's about time for someone to save us... Machine, help me out, you're our only hope."​

    She was thirsty, even more so, she was hungry. Her body howled pitifully from the pain in her joints and demanded at least a mattress, but all this was already a familiar background of hardship, to which Olga had become accustomed. And yet ... Something was wrong. A vague feeling settled on the edge of consciousness, not allowing her mind to dive back into oblivion. Olga tried to concentrate and understand what had awakened her. Nothing, however, was going on around her. The lamps still buzzed faintly, casting a blood-red glow. Pipes hissed behind the concrete walls. Distant machinery hummed, keeping life in this depopulated station. Rather than humming, they sent a humming vibration through ...​

    Stop.​

    Not sent.​

    Exactly - silence. Or ... Olga could not focus and realize what she felt by instinct, inherited from thousands of generations of wild forefathers. The feeling was too deep, hitting right into the subconscious and the most ancient parts of the brain. It was perceived as an unnatural silence as if something had changed in the world. So the ancient monkey did not see the jaguar creeping up but heard the birds around him fall silent. Something natural was missing.​

    Something had changed. Something was happening.​

    Or it could have happened.​

    Her vision refused to focus after her slumber, and everything in front of her eyes blurred. Kryp sniffled noisily beside her, his torso piled up, his back against Olga's palm. He seemed to be asleep, dreaming about something very bad. Or maybe the pain was back and running its claws into the tortured mind even through the heavy sleep. Or both. Trying to move as quietly as possible, Olga released her hand. Her stiff fingers tingled with the renewed flow of blood. The girl blinked, and for a moment it seemed to her that the low ceiling moved. The red light blinked, darkened as if a rheostat had been turned on somewhere.​

    She felt her fingers begin to tremble. A drop of saliva crawled to the corner of her mouth, trickling thinly down her cheek. She wanted to scream in horror and throw a fit of hysteria. Kryp, still awake, twitched and groaned. His sleeping demons only seemed to be getting stronger. Olga stared upward, clenching her teeth and clenching her fists. Everything seemed normal, the illusion was gone, like a mere accidental illusion, a trick of vision.​

    Seconds went by one after another. Olga trembled, frantically hoping that it was just a trick of her tired mind. And then, without any blinking or contemplation from the corners of her eyes, the low gray ceiling went convulsively distorted, like a wave of interference on an old TV screen. A red light flashed. Thin strands of pig-like stubble slid from the rough surface. They did not grow but appeared in the surrounding universe. It was as if they had always been there, just a fraction of a second behind time, or maybe the opposite, ahead by the same fraction. And now they were aligned with the universe, penetrating reality. And the stronger the penetration was, the thicker and thicker the "bristles" grew.​

    "Kryp..." the girl whispered, feeling her lower abdomen twist in a spasm of raw terror. "Kryp. We have to go."​

    Fidus woke up instantly as if he hadn't slept at all. Olga covered his mouth with a narrow, icy palm, not even thinking that he might repeat his earlier reaction with the attempt of murder. However, the medication created a miracle, or maybe she was just lucky. Kryp understood everything instantly. He understood and took her palm firmly with his healthy hand. He squeezed it, silently, as a sign of understanding. Olga didn't understand what Kryp did next, but judging by the characteristic gesture and the quiet hissing, he injected something into her neck, probably another syringe from Machine's medicine kit. Almost immediately a cramp jerked Fidus' head back, and a long, long breath hissed through his clenched jaws. Olga thought she heard the creaking of the wounded man's teeth. Whatever Kryp had charged himself, the thing was strong and worked instantly.​

    The girl packed her bag, trying to act quietly and quickly. At the same time, she was surprised at how quickly and naturally the transition from "all rest" to "run as fast as you can" happened. And it is absolutely unclear - from whom, but faster. Her hands continued to shake, things were haphazardly shoved into the bag. She still wanted to fall on the rough floor and throw a fit of hysteria. Olga bit her lip. And then something touched her hair, piled up in dense felt, touched it with a soft, almost caressing motion. Olga tilted her head and looked up, biting her fist to keep from screaming out loud.​

    The ceiling of the tunnel disappeared for good. In its place - still blinking in an alternation of real and ghostly - came down the familiar mass of leather cords. It looked like blood- and grease-soaked loofah. Or a spider's web. How could it be? Olga had no idea, and there was no time for logical analysis.​

    "Run," she whispered, and no translation was necessary. Judging by the pupils, if Fidus didn't see what his companion saw, he felt the nearness of the otherworldliness anyway.​

    Let's run.​

    Yes, indeed, the injection was strong. Creep's body was still twitching in convulsions, but Fidus could even move his injured limbs in a limited way. Olga tried not to think about what was happening to his already broken arm and leg. Crip, judging by the expression on his haggard face, neither. This time he almost didn't have to be dragged. Fidus crawled quite briskly, stretching and pushing like a long crab. But it was Olga who had to twist the hatch lock again.​

    Falling outward, Fidus fell, hitting the stone floor hard and unable to hold back a long, agonizing moan that lingered at the very edge of a howl. The wounded man turned even paler. Olga grabbed him under her healthy arm and helped him up. Again she was surprised at how tall Kryp was when he wasn't lying down and hooking in pain. Blood trickled down Fidus's chin. He bit his lip and broke his nose. Apparently, Machine's medication thinned the blood, because the red fluid poured profusely, like from a good wound.​

    "We must go, we must go," Olga whispered, trying not to look up. She already knew that the entire dome of the atrium was already overgrown with leather cobwebs.​

    "We must go..."​

    Run.​

    The thought that she could just leave Kryp here was once again a red-hot needle in her mind. It screwed in, threw the sprouts of desire in all directions, opened up with the overwhelming realization that it was so easy. Just unclench the fingers, take a step to the side. And Kryp would die. And she - perhaps - will live. Who needs her, after all? What was coming was probably coming for Kryp, who had shit all over the villains' plans, as the Machine had bluntly written.​

    The leather loofah above trembled, moved like a living thing, and came in a heavy wave. On the stone floor, something either jumped or collapsed. It slammed, more like a loud, hard slap, splashing bright yellow-orange slime on the stone floor. Olga and Kryp froze like statues. What Fidus was thinking only he knew. The girl was left with only one thought, surprisingly senseless and at the same time sensible, given the circumstances. It was a good thing there was not much water and not much food, and so she drank just a sip at a time. Because now is a good time to piss herself, that's the minimum.​

    The creature looked like an enormous hulk, about the size of a minivan, wrapped in several layers of webbing. The sack pulsed incessantly, going through some kind of peristaltic spasms. And in general, it was living an unhealthy, intense life. It was as if several rhythms of life were superimposed on one another at once, rasping the shapeless carcass. Throughout the pus-yellow, red-veined surface, there were scattered in disarray ... limbs. At any rate, it looked more like limbs than anything else. It looked like tentacles, but with a non-tentacular angularity. It was as if the joints in the long limbs were appearing chaotically, without any order or rule of anatomy, only to vanish instantly. There were no eyes or anything even remotely resembling sensory organs or any organs at all in the creature. But at the same time, the most cursory glance produced an unpleasant, disgusting impression of a certain orderliness, an uncanny, otherworldly purposefulness in the actions of the blind and deaf creature. It was a completely irrational feeling that appeared to Olga as complete knowledge along with a clear understanding-whatever the bag of no bones was, it had appeared on her and Kryp's soul.​

    The monster trembled again, shaking in a fit of convulsions. Like a comet, Olga reached a whole new level of fear, realizing that inside the creature were not organs and other stuff, but hands. An incredible multitude of hands is in constant motion inside the gourd. Quite human palms, fingers, whole hands were moving under the thick skin, pushing, groping blindly, trying to scratch their way out. It was as if hundreds, perhaps thousands of souls were trapped in the pus bucket, obsessed with the blind desire to escape. It was the same with the limbs, a hideous parody of the statue at the entrance to the Machine Hall, countless hands packed tightly in slime, and a yellowish-slimy covering.​

    "Demon," whispered Fidus, and Olga understood without translation, so clear and recognizable it sounded. She guesses some of the words hadn't changed in a shitload of centuries.​

    The creature moved and, with unexpected speed, crawled and rolled toward the hatch from which the fugitives had escaped moments before. It was unclear whether the demon was driven by reason, instinct, or something else, but it was something that controlled the convulsive movements of the absorbed arms in the carcass, turning its blind impulses into a quite deliberate movement. Reaching the wall, the gourd stretched out in length, like a scrap of gut sewn up at both ends. It lifted one end to almost human height. Many "hands" gripped the wheel with "fingers" that grew straight out of the covering - quite human palms that moved like suction cups, encased in the same slippery skin. The creature "tensed," went in waves, like a gullet through which a large lump is pushed. A moment and the metal shrieked like a living creature. With a deafening crunch and clang, the thick hatch flew out of the frame along with its hinges. Whatever the creature was, it seemed to have terrifying strength. A moment more, and the "gut" stretched even harder, wriggling and nudging itself, climbed inside.​

    Without talking, Olga and Crip staggered away, as far and as fast as they could. Both would have loved to run as fast as they could, but even the Machine's first aid kit had a limit to what it could do. The medication had taken the edge off the pain, but the fractures and shattered muscles were still there. Fidus was as weak as a baby and just as slow. The creature, meanwhile, squelched and tossed invisibly, muttering like a repeatedly amplified burp.​

    We won't make it, the girl realized clearly when the demon gurgled particularly loudly. A loud slap behind her announced that the beast had fallen back out of the tunnel. The creature was definitely blind, but how did it follow its prey?! Olga clenched her teeth, stubbornly looking beneath her feet, taking Crip's weight on her shoulder. The wounded man was shuffling on unsteady legs, she didn't even want to imagine the pain he was in now, despite the injection.​

    "Curre," Kryp whispered, exhaling heavily. "Salvum fac temetipsum."​

    He tried to push his companion away.​

    "Fuck you," Olga exhaled, pushing him forward and dropping the bag. It was impossible to drag Fidus and the bag at the same time.​

    "Move your hooves, asshole ..."​

    Her heart was beating hard and fast against her ribs, and sweat washed down her face like in a steam bath. All the clothes she was wearing seemed to get soaked through in a minute. The girl looked down, and from the exorbitant effort, she began to glitch. It seemed that with every step, translucent waves of lilac flame scattered from her feet. And the glowing footprints lasted a few moments before fading silently to the cold floor with the half-erased emblems.​

    "Salvum!" Fidus shouted out loud, flailing and pushing her away with his big hand. Or rather, he slapped her hard - that was all he was strong enough to do. Blood poured down his whole lower jaw, making him look like a vampire. His pupils dilated, almost to the iris, like those of a madman. It was beyond biology, but Crip had managed to turn even paler so that he looked like he'd come from the underworld.​

    Olga let go of him and took a few unsteady steps, trying not to look in Kryp's direction. He, on the contrary, did not take his eyes off her. If the girl had looked now, she would have seen a bitter smile, or rather only the pale shadow of a bitter smile touched the bloodied lips of the inquisitor. But Olga did not look, retreating step by step, clasping her hands in a lock with such force that even her fingers seemed to crunch.​

    "Salvum," Fidus repeated for the third time, and the girl finally ran away.​

    The yellow star was just preparing to roll out from behind the edge of the huge panorama. So the atrium drowned in the pre-dawn twilight. The gray shadows seemed to drink all the color from the world around them, and the greasy washcloth above shook with tangled cords of human skin. It was very quiet, with only the squelching and sniffling of the slimy sack, flattened by the relentless movement of thousands of hands, countless souls imprisoned within it. The bloodied inquisitor straightened even more, though the pain in his fractured leg clouded his eyes.​

    "Imperatoris custodit animam meam," whispered Fidus Kryptman, because he had no strength left to scream.​

    The sack moved straight at Fidus, rolling over and slapping his hands haphazardly. Behind the creature was a wide, wet streak, and even the stone seemed to be smoking from the goo. Kryp was scared to death after all, at the last moment, when the webbed sack came close, Fidus closed his eyes. And the atrium exploded with a piercing scream.​
    * * *​
     
  10. Threadmarks: Chapter 15
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 15
    * * *
    "Cavalry!"

    Kryp closed his eyes even tighter, thinking he was having a near-death hallucination.

    So this is what death looks like... Well, a dignified ending to a not-so-successful life.

    "Cavalry!"

    Nothing happened. No one was killing him. Only the stench spread out in a dense cloud, clogging his swollen nose like hard absorbent cotton. Fidus could feel the huge mass that stood at arm's length. He could hear a gurgling in the rotting womb and a steady slithering noise, as if from the countless fingers that rustled the demonic sack from within.

    Who is screaming so terribly? And where is the clanking coming from?

    "CA-VA=LRY!" Olga yelled, pounding on the iron railing with the blade of her old knife. - I call the cavalry!!!

    The gourd rushed forward, ignoring Creep, simply sweeping him out of the way. For a moment, Olga's mouth gaped open as she stared at the rolling shit that was hurriedly nudging itself with its "arms". The monster moved unbelievably fast for a creature with such mass, and yet devoid of legs. Olga thought that maybe the idea of calling for help was not such a good one. What's more, it was probably the very idea that was going to get her killed.

    The thought had somehow exhausted itself. It's hard to think when you're running away. Olga moved along the railing, toward the viewscreen. She expected to run to the pillar that loomed farther away. Then, after passing a thick faceted pillar, turn sharply and try to hide in the labyrinth of "offices". With each step, it became clearer and clearer that she was fucked. She just wouldn't make it. She hadn't made a correction for her exhaustion and the mountains of trash she had to avoid by looping around. Only now did Olga realize how weakened she had become after days of no food, chronic fatigue, and endless terror. Her legs seemed to barely move, any obstacle-even a small chip under her sneaker-threatened to topple over.

    The girl was no longer running, but rather walking quickly. The gurgling was getting closer. The demon kept its pace with ease, rolling a little faster than Olga's steps. Just enough so that the victim had no hope of breaking away and hiding in the deserted rooms. And then her ears reached the most wonderful sound in the world, the sound of angelic trumpets - the familiar hissing, for which, in fact, the fugitive had started a performance with shrieks.

    "Quickly ... Bitch..." ...the girl squeaked out, stopping.

    She had to bend down and lean her hands on her knees, gulping for air. So, breathing heavily, she saw two thin twigs, like short scythes or wildly long claws, resting on the wrought iron railing. They trembled, taking the weight of an invisible body, so much so that they left visible notches in the metal. The monster swung over the railing in one cohesive motion, ending up exactly in the middle of the line connecting Olga and the sack, five meters each way. Up close, the creature seemed even creepier than it had been in the alchemical warehouse, and in a sort of... solid. And inanimate. Despite its decidedly biological nature, the beast seemed closer to machines than to creatures of flesh and blood (and chitin, for that matter). Too murderous, too mechanically precise.

    Alien.

    The evil sack stopped, wiggling its tentacles. It was silly to speak of any emotion in relation to the pus bundle, but it seemed to Olga that in the bubble's purposeful movements there was... uncertainty. Some kind of malfunction.

    "Hey, kill each other," Olga whispered it at first and then realized that she had spoken the thought aloud. At the same time, she remembered from what movie this "I call the cavalry" came to mind. That is, the movie came to mind, as well as the fact that Taktarov played in it with a machine gun, but the name completely slipped out of my mind.

    And if they don't?

    She took a step back. Then another, fighting the almost irresistible urge to rush to the railing and jump down. To finally get it all fucking over, once and for all.

    With deceptive, almost weightless ease, the "mantis" was joined by the second. It looked like a stamped copy of the first, down to the smallest detail. The wood crunched under its supporting paw, showing that the monster actually weighed a lot.

    God help me.

    Olga took another step back. The monsters didn't seem to be interested in her at all. At least something nice! Yes, and the purulent bubble was finally distracted, shifted its "arms" to the top, and froze, trembling in the dim light. Mucus rolled down the gelatinous, slimy sides like a parody of profuse sweat. Behind the bubble, Olga saw Fidus. The guy lay motionless, like a broken mannequin. Tears came to his eyes. Olga did not know what she felt more sorry for - the poor Kryp or the futile efforts to save him.

    She blinked back a tear and missed the start of the fight. The mantises attacked simultaneously, as coherently as if they were communicating telepathically. They darted in geometrically precise arcs, coming out on the conditional "flanks" of the bubble (if you count its "front," the part facing Olga). And where the onion-headed number three came from, the girl did not understand at all. It seemed to have jumped from behind the broken and piled into a sloppy barricade of chairs, similar to theater benches. Apparently, it was the spider's custom to attack in threes. Everything was silent, with only the scraping of claws on the stone and the scattering of debris. It seemed that the crawling jellyfish was going to die, Olga remembered all too well how three of the same freaks had made giants with stern cannons.

    The sack gathered itself into an almost perfect ball, spread its arms like a devilish parody of a kolobok, and... The first "mantis" flew into the well of the atrium, bringing down a whole section of heavy railing with wrought iron bars. The bag seemed to intercept it in flight. And, turning on the spot, threw it further, using its opponent's inertia and its insane force. The monster squealed in flight, tried to latch on, waving its sickle-shaped claws frantically, but in vain. The fall was high, so the meowing screech sounded for a few more moments, but no one cared anymore.

    The demonic jellyfish took the second opponent on the chest, rolling right under the blow. A broad, swift as a thought, the claw opened the glossy side of the meter-long slit with surprising ease, without resistance. The slit splashed generously with mucus, and the momentum of the movement and the oncoming roll of the sack threw the mantis onto the thick foil. The edges of the "wound" wrapped up, spreading even wider, the wet side of the jellyfish swelling from the inside. The monster stuck to his opponent, the sack wrapped its entire surface around the mantis, grabbed it with thousands of greedy fingers, and began to pull it right into the ripped side, devouring piece by piece. At the same time, the sack stretched out a bundle of tentacles two or three meters at a time, holding the third at a distance.

    As Olga had already noticed, the six-legged freaks made incredibly disgusting noises, but the cry of the mantis being sucked alive sounded surprising... alive. It combined the terror, the pain, the despair of a living, thinking creature. The usual screeching gave way to almost human screams. The third freak flailed back and forth, trying to come to the aid of its fellow creature, clawing at its tentacles with sharp strokes, but the bubble threw more and more out of its gelatinous body at a rapid pace.

    Olga ran, skirting the creatures fighting to the death in an arc, back toward Fidus. Her legs became even tangled, the girl fell, smashed her hands in blood, rose again. And, sobbing with fear and despair, she continued to stubbornly strive forward.

    Don't die, please, just don't die!

    The sack rolled onto one side, crushing the devoured one. So that the wild cries were immediately silenced. It wiggled in place, muttering and squelching, then rolled in the opposite direction, right on top of the last six-legged creature. The claw cut healed, without a trace. The onionhead disappeared, swallowed without a mark. The bowsman, too, disappeared, swallowed without a trace. The sack slid over the sluggishly twitching stumps of its own limbs, picking them up and absorbing them right through the translucent hide. The remaining monster slid back, moving its claws, glancing around with two quick strokes of its broadhead. Either he was dissatisfied with the prospect of a fight, or the creature was assessing the battlefield.
    Fidus was alive and almost conscious. "Almost," because he seemed to be balancing on the edge. His eyes were unfocused, his lips were twitching, dropping flakes of foam, and his jaw was slack.

    "Get up!" Shouted Olga. "Get up now!"

    The sound of her voice seemed to bring some life back into Kryp's empty gaze. Fidus snapped his teeth shut and stared at the girl with an inexpressible mixture of horror and gratitude. And despair, but the girl tried not to think about that.

    "Get up!!!"

    Olga could not see what was going on behind her, but she could hear it. It sounded like the creatures came together one on one and intended to smash the whole floor brick by brick. It rumbled like an excavator, methodically smashing everything within reach of the shovel.

    "He'll kill us!"

    Who "he" was didn't matter much anymore. Whoever won, it was obvious that the fate of the two men would be decided quickly, very quickly. Olga was crying, no longer restraining herself. She pushed and pummeled Kryp, realizing that she could not pull him, much less lift him.

    "Come on, please... Get up... Let's go."

    Fidus wheezed, coughing up blood. Olga ran her hand through his stiff, shoe-brush-like hair, wiped the scarlet streak from his pale, like a dead man's face with her sleeve. She looked down from above.

    "Please," she said very quietly, looking into the young man's bright eyes, full of pain and gloom.

    Please ...

    The noise stopped, which meant that now they would have to deal with a winner. And Fidus answered Olga with a direct, very meaningful look. He took her hand firmly and squeezed it, not at all like before, when his grip was weaker than that of a child. Gritting his teeth, in one breath Crip stood up, and Olga sat down, her jaw dropped. It was too creepy, too unbelievable. They switched places. Now Fidus was looking down at her. There was the distinct mark of death on the man's face, and the fire of fanatical determination blazing in his eyes. In the dying man's hand, the blade glinted icily. When had Fidus managed to pull it from the sheath on Olga's belt? God knows. But he did.

    "Run," Kryp said, and Olga understood him, or maybe she thought she understood him. Perhaps her consciousness, twisted to the limits by the horror of what was happening, had ceased to distinguish between reality and phantom, between the real and the imagined.

    "Run, Olla."

    She looked upon him as a deity, the embodiment of the Emperor, the true King of Glory. And that made Fidus feel very peaceful. He turned toward the enemy, who swung around, waving his spurs, spreading greedy fingers under his pelt in readiness to accept new prey. His broken leg burned with fire, and the young man knew he could stand, but he would not take another step. He had the will, but his body could not take another step, his muscles and torn ligaments could not endure it. However, there was no need to go anywhere.

    "I am Inquisitor Fidus Kryptman!" He shouted frantically, raising his blade, the simple soldier's knife of the Guard. There was something incredibly symbolic, very right, about dying with such a weapon in his hands. As a true warrior, one of an endless army of those who, century after century, had passed on to one another the Duty and the Will of His, the greatest and best of men.

    "I'm not afraid of you," Fidus spat blood at the blind creature, and this time there was only truth and confidence in his words, straight and fierce as the cleansing fire. The young man took the knife with both hands and brought it up, preparing to fall forward, multiplying the weak blow with his weight. One blow, and then he would die. After that, the demon would kill the girl as well, but it would no longer be his fault. And even if Kryptman Jr. did not live as a true inquisitor, even if no one will ever tell about his last moments, but at least he will die exactly as an inquisitor should. Fighting the true, genuine Evil to the last opportunity and beyond, where the will becomes immeasurably stronger than the mortal body.

    "I am the protector. And you are powerless against her while I am alive."

    It sparkled and hit right through the ears and into the skull. A thunderous noise rolled around. Then it hit Kryptman, violently and terrifyingly, shaking every nerve, every last cell. Fidus, slipping into the unconsciousness of a deep fainting spell, realized that it was not the enemy that had struck him, but the pulse of an electric paralyze.

    There was a roar and a rumble overhead. The cacophony was eerie as if a battlefield with a mad sawmill had erupted all around it. There were gunshots, the rumble of nearby explosions, and a sound unbelievably similar to a chainsaw, only about three times bigger and more powerful than a regular one. There was also shouting all around, loud and loud. There was also howling and creaking and God knows what else. Even through the closed eyelids, there were flashes of blindingly bright light, as if an electric welding machine was going off at full speed. It smelled like ozone.

    What is it?! What happened?!

    She was standing, and then everything around her began to explode, lightning was striking, something else was... Olga covered her head with her hands, trying to hide her ears with her elbows at the same time. She wanted, as usual, to crouch down, pulling her knees to her stomach, but she did not have time. She was crushed by something that looked like a hydraulic press, at least as heavy and unrelenting. It seemed as if the invisible thing was about to go through her spine and diaphragm.

    I was stepped on, the girl realized.
    I was stepped on!


    Something particularly loud exploded, so loud that the girl went deaf despite her ears tightly covered with her palms. God, how loud a real gunshot sounds... It was like being hit in the ears with tennis rackets. It really, really hurt. But the rumble of the battle subsided. Judging by the fact that no one was in a hurry to remove his leg from Olga's back, the conditional "good" who came to the rescue won. Well, probably. At least, that's what I wanted to believe. As if accompanying Olga's brief thoughts, the weight disappeared from her back, and at the same time, something painfully hard hit her from the side, knocking her under and tossing her face upward.

    And now they've turned me over, Olga guessed.

    She didn't want to open her eyes, but she risked opening one narrow slit of her squeezed eyes. Right next to Olga's nose there was a Barrel, with a capital B. One might even say Huge Barrel. From this distance, it seemed bottomless and as wide as a railroad tunnel. The round and smooth pipe, with walls two fingers thick, reeked sharply of something burnt and chemical. Behind the barrel began a metal box, and behind it, in turn, a gauntlet of gauntlet-like knight's mitts. The hand seemed human but incredibly large. Farther away, somewhere in the conditional infinity, two green lights burned, like night binoculars from a game. The eyepieces glowed grimly and did not promise anything good. The humanoid figure buzzed and clicked as if a dozen wall clocks were going at a time inside the hull.

    "Oh," Olga said honestly, or rather half-suffocated squeaked, not knowing whether to rejoice in the unexpected rescue or to prepare for death.

    The barrel loomed up, taking up almost the entire world.

    It's a stupid way to end, the girl thought, waiting for life to drown in the blinding flash of a gunshot. She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, the smell of burning chemicals becoming almost unbearable, and then abruptly weakened.

    "Surge," someone from the distance said in a human voice. And the heaviness disappeared.

    Olga sighed softly, expecting the fractured ribs to burst into her lungs, but nothing happened. After a little breathing, she opened her eyes a second time, a little bolder now.

    To her right stood an iron giant, like an axe-wielding giant in two drops of water. He was as cubic, tall, and frightening. In one hand he held with seeming to ease a ghastly-looking cannon, like a machine gun with a disproportionately short barrel. The gun, by all appearances, was shoved into Olga's face. A trickle of whitish smoke was still streaming from a hole in the gun's housing, which looked like a sliding curtain with a handle.

    To her left, a man of normal proportions looked down silently on Olga. Tall, however, barely reaching the middle of the steel giant's chest. Dressed in something flowing, dark, like a raincoat of thick leather. A similar robe was on Kryp, over his cuirass. The man was completely bald and wore a white headband for some reason. Every inch of his face was also covered by an intricate pattern of infinitely intricate tattoos. It seemed to be symbols of some kind, letters of sharp as if chopped, like Viking runes. In the bright light, Olga couldn't see any clearer.
    The man stared, frowning unhappily. Olga looked back with one eye, afraid to open the other and not daring to lift a finger at all. The bald man shook his head with a heavy sigh and showed the girl his open hand. The smooth skin, exactly in the middle of the palm, was mangled by a thick scar. It looked like a drawing, scorched or carved, and not just once. Olga recognized the silhouette of an eagle-like bird that was popular in the area. Obediently, rather than by common sense, she slowly and timidly folded her fingers in a gesture she had spied on Kryp. She rolled her eyes, and, as best she could, she gave a look of extreme piety on her face.

    Well, maybe the experiment was not beneficial, but at least it did not spoil anything. In any case, they didn't seem to think about killing Olga on the spot. The bald man raised an eyebrow, chewed his thin lips, made a gesture as if stroking something invisible. The faint movement was echoed in Olga's head in a flash of a strange sensation. It was as if his fingers had slid right through the crinkles. It didn't hurt, and at the same time, it was extremely uncomfortable. A second eyebrow rose now, and a lively interest peeked through even the runes of the elaborate tattoo.

    "Tolle eam," commanded the man in the armband.

    Olga did not understand how three or four men with grim faces and ominous-looking rifles came to be nearby. Not as brutal, of course, as an armored diver, but also very impressive. The armed men's gear was reminiscent of Kryp's armor. It was the same black, solid, straps with holes in them. They took the girl without further ado, yanked her upright. She was pushed, pointing in the right direction, without much harshness, more of a businesslike, unyielding manner. She now seemed to have a personal entourage and guards.

    Well, at least it wasn't a execution squad.

    "Quia non conveniunt," the steel giant muttered, muffled, with a withering wheeze, as if the speaker were defective.

    He and the tattooed man argued, but without much energy, in a low-key manner. The girl, meanwhile, was led on without any reverence, carefully and at the same time businesslike. Like a thing to be delivered from one point to another without breaking on the way. A team of men hosed down a bubbling puddle of greasy slime. Judging by the smell, the smoke, and the usual gas masks, they were pouring acid or some kind of caustic. She wanted to believe it was the remains of a fart bag. Above their heads floated the already familiar skulls, at least a dozen of them. One had real iron handles attached to the bottom, like a little terminator. The bonehead was diligently scribbling with a fountain pen on a roll of yellow paper. It looked maddeningly comical, though Olga was too exhausted to even smile, let alone laugh.

    Kryp was carried past. The wounded man was placed in something that looked like an open-topped coffin. So the girl even flinched, thinking Fidus was dead. But no, the boy seemed to be quite alive and even blinking. The coffin moved on its own, sliding a meter above the floor without any legs or wheels. However, Olga was beginning to get used to the local wonders of science, so she was not even surprised. The flying stretcher was accompanied by two women in white armor, reminiscent of a smaller version of the armor of an iron lumberjack with a cannon. They, too, frowned grimly and businesslike - apparently, walking on serious cheeks like after a week of constipation was a must in this millennium. Olga wanted to smile at Kryp through the force after all. But at that moment the girl was pushed in the back so that she almost lost her balance. And then the plane's coffin disappeared behind the backs of the attendants. The girl sighed and walked on. They didn't seem to be in any hurry to thank her for saving Fidus.

    Olga's legs were shaky and she waddled as fast as she could. They stopped pushing her, evidently realizing that her ward could not walk any faster. One of the brutal escorts silently slapped her on the shoulder with a gun, attracting attention. When the girl flinched, turning around, he also, without uttering a word held out his free hand something like a small bar of pressed sugar. The girl nodded appreciatively and immediately took it in, snapping her teeth like a six-legged creature in a fight. From the taste, it was more like glucose, but either way the bar was sweet and must have been terribly nutritious. Only now did the girl realize how hungry she was. The guards looked at each other, and Olga noticed some semblance of emotion on their faces - a restrained amusement and a touch of compassion, no other than from her miserable appearance

    She wonder what a shower looks like in the far bright future?

    Some men and women of a quite human appearance were passing by, though they wore strange clothes, almost all black, or at least in dark colors. Most carried weapons, and many wore patches and badges with incomprehensible symbols. However, the familiar upright stick with a crossbar and the inscribed skull was often repeated. Station XVI seemed to come alive again, filled with movement and human voices. Life was returning to the crypt.

    Olga thought that no matter how it turned out, things had not turned out in the worst way. Yes, still nothing is clear, everything is strange and even disturbing. However, at least there were people around, not evil freaks. And they're not trying to kill her anymore. Everything will be fine from now on.

    It certainly will.

    Because it can't get any worse than before.

    She smiled, breathed in the air, still filled with the smell of acrid weapon chemicals. It made her feel... lighter, or something. After all, this was all her doing. She went to the machine. She called for help. Where else would an army come from? She survived the unimaginable. And she saved Kryp. She - Olga - managed to do and experience more amazing things in a couple of days than she had in fifteen years of her previous life.

    Yes. The adventure is over.

    Or maybe it was just beginning ... Who knows?
    * * *​
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2021
  11. Threadmarks: Chapter 16
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 16

    * * *


    From: Temporary Operations Center "Sigma", Cruiser "Wrath of the Righteous", Order of the Sleepless

    Inquisitor Kalkroit Schmettau

    To: Ballistic Station XVI

    Inquirer Essen Pale

    Network Or.He., temporary communication line MMVCMXCIX

    encryption: cLXIlwNn5, variable code: #3#&#?

    Network of the Order of the Sleepless

    encryption: FaKOknNhP, variable code: activated

    To the glory of the Emperor who guards and protects! In His Name, before whom we bow and serve.

    I am glad that very soon I will be able to see you with my own eyes. And our communication will continue without the tedium of all means of communication. In anticipation of this, I would like to share with you some thoughts on matters that cannot be delayed even for a few hours.

    Dear friend, I have read your preliminary report with great attention. I must say that I read this voluminous work as an inquisitor of Ordo Hereticus, devoid of anger and partiality. But also as a picky mentor whose heart is close to all your accomplishments and failures. I am proud to say that both of these roles have been more than satisfied. The work you have done is truly profane. After some refinement and polishing, the report can be presented (and undoubtedly will be) directly to the Magister, to put an end to Operation Imma, which - unfortunately! - so ignominiously ended.

    However, we should discuss some of the nuances of the very "refinement" I mentioned above. I will allow myself to give you a few tips that (maybe!) will seem to you to be of some use in giving the investigation its finality and perfection. Let's call it like this.

    First of all, I must say that I wholeheartedly share the characterization you have given of Inquisitor Kriptman's actions. Moreover, I will say without a shadow of a doubt that here, in the course of the command meeting, the leadership of Kryptman, Jr. was criticized with much, much more vigor and the use of much more energetic epithets. Particular displeasure was expressed by our good friends in the Order, who place the loss of two chosen warriors directly on said persona. Though it must be said that F.K. has contributed to his belittling by repeating tales of amazing new xenos at a time when the warriors of the Order of the Sleepless have clearly fallen victim to mutants. Well, when the Emperor intends to punish a man, he deprives him of his mind.

    However ... We should not forget that sad as it is, the word "Kryptman" is still often heard in the corridors, which we shall modestly call "High" and stop at that. Even if it is firmly associated with the prefix "senior," but a name is a name. The late Inquisitor, who overthrew the Maharitan Heresy, still has friends and associates who are sometimes overly committed to the spirit of corporatism.

    I will therefore take the trouble to recommend to you, let us say diplomatically, to smooth out somewhat the overly acute angles in characterizing the actions of F.K. I assure you that his grandiose failure has not gone unnoticed by the superior Institution and will not remain without the most vigorous consequences. However, we should not give our detractors even a reason to think about biased conclusions. Moreover, it makes sense to maintain an account in, shall we say, a somewhat more benevolent tone, adding some quite objective motives to justify the failures of the F. K. Such as the need to act under conditions of categorical lack of time and resources against a truly dangerous enemy, who was already defeating the significantly more experienced His servants. Emphasize this, carefully but quite definitely, without the possibility of double interpretation.

    Be assured, Kryptman, Jr. will be forever denied the benevolent attention of the Instance. However, if you follow my humble advice faithfully, you will acquire a reputation as a humble, benevolent man, able to rise above personal accounts and family conflicts of a subjective nature. And I think you will agree with me - to turn the defeat of a non-friend (for we will by no means call an enemy a comrade-in-arms in our hard work for the good of the Empire even in thought, much less in the written word) into a stepping stone to your elevation is not just a victory, but a victory won twice.

    Second ... Here I must pause and gather my thoughts, because the mishap with the person called "Olga" turned out to be quite complicated, despite the seeming obviousness and ease of its possible resolution.

    On the one hand, I fully agree with you that the natural and only possible retribution for her can only be a cleansing flame. For active assistance to the inquisitor can in no way be considered a mitigating circumstance. After all, the honor and meaning of every person's life are to serve the Father of Mankind faithfully, including by helping His authorized servants in every way. And just as it is natural for us to breathe, to sleep, to pray and believe, to have the courage of a soldier in the face of the enemy, to carry out orders flawlessly, it is just as natural to preserve the life of the wounded inquisitor. Accordingly, the fulfillment of this duty is but an infinitely lighter fluff on the scales. On the other side, however, rests the heavy burden of sinfulness, beginning not even with the possession of the fleck, of which "Olga" confessed without delay or overtures. No, I will draw attention to the fact that her descent into the abyss of sin began at birth, in a world deprived of the Emperor's divine light, His covenants, and the Faith.

    Thus, again, I absolutely and completely agree - "Olga" is to be indicted and purged.

    But here, too, I must - for the second time in a row, to my deep regret! - to add that embarrassing, cutting word "however".

    Yes, however, there are additional circumstances to consider. The fact is that not too long ago I had a behind-the-scenes conversation with a representative of Adeptus Mechanicus, who have a keen interest in the investigation (which is understandable, given their protectorate over "B.S. XVI"). The Technocrats generally take a restrained and commendably unbiased stance, but with certain reservations. It has been brought to my attention by a representative that the Gearsmen (and I - may the Emperor protect me! - use the word without a trace of neglect or derision) have found themselves in an ambiguous position, and the agent who caused this condition is none other than "Olga.

    Logis assured me that the AM's intervention in our (yours, my friend! now only yours) investigation would continue to be extremely limited. Despite the fact that the main enemy once belonged to their community. And the Gearsmen do not intend to ask for leniency in "Olga's" fate. Among other things, because they share what our enemies call "excessive radicalism," which I prefer to think of as liberality and mercy on the edge of criminal neglect. Yes, that is what we are, servants of the Inquisition. We must mitigate hard-heartedness even where it seems impossible to do without it.

    But the problem is that the logs impartially testify: the cogitator of the Station communicated with "Olga". And not just "communicated" through a reverent performance of the necessary rituals, but directly favored and guided the gal. It is known that a particle of Omnissia lives in every machine, and the Station's cogitator, as the Logis assured me (in a rather uncompromising manner), if not the standard of the divine presence, is very close to it.

    So if we look at the situation from a certain point of view, the burning of the gal may cause some misunderstanding and even friction between our Communities. For, of course, it is possible, with due observance of the rituals, to turn a heretical gal into ashes, but then a rather confusing dilemma arises. If the cogitator is sinless, do we not punish the innocent? And if the maiden is guilty, won't the communication with her tarnish the reputation of the cogitator, and consequently the AMs themselves?

    It is no exaggeration to say that the predicament caused us to rack our brains, including literally, for my interlocutor's skull gleamed with polished steel and exquisite engravings, and required regular oiling with cooling oils. The situation hovered precariously between two poles, where on one side was just retribution for sinfulness and a direct challenge to the principles of the Mechanics. And on the other was the visit of a cohort of Skitarians, ready to take the girl away for her numerous investigations and to slaughter anyone who might bear witness to the direct interaction between the uninitiated, unrefined by decades of docility "meat" and the sacred cogitator.

    But there is no difficulty that His faithful servants could not have resolved, so long as they intend to reach an agreement for the benefit of all. First, we take note that the burning of "Olga," though proper, would be untimely. Thus, AM's reputation would not be damaged. We have also acknowledged that the very idea of Kryptman, according to which the maiden should not only be forgiven and left alive but also encouraged, is ridiculous. In this way, the honor of our Ordo will be preserved.

    As an amusing remark, I will tell you that Fidus insisted and persisted, wishing to send "Olga" to the Schola, so there in toil and discipline she might learn the craft of the Acolyte of the Inquisition. Let this observation amuse you by diversifying the businesslike and, perhaps, overly strict contents of my message.

    But back to the point.

    What should we do in order to combine objective benefits?

    We decided that the most correct thing to do under the circumstances would be to appeal to the Ecclesiarchy. That she, in her untiring concern for the spiritual perfection of the Empire, should take upon herself the burdens of Olga's fate. The maiden should be commended for her services and then allowed to purify herself by continuing her service, but already in an entirely different sphere, far removed from the affairs of either the Inquisition or Mechanicus. I submit to you how to soften the final version of the report so that "Olga" is not a heretic, but only a victim of ignorance who can atone for her unwilling sin in the service of the Adeptus Purificatum of the Imperial Church. Which service, based on impartial statistics, will soon lead her to death, rather than finally, one might even say - naturally - resolving the mishap for everyone's benefit.

    The other questions, while responsible and important, are quite tolerable for some time. I intend to discuss them with you personally.

    Your friend and mentor K.S.

    With the hope of an early and long-awaited meeting.

    May the Father of Mankind protect and guide you!

    End of transmission.

    Network Or.He., timeline MMVCMXCIX closed, memory block defragmented

    encryption: cLXIlwNn5, 2^3^&^|| key change executed

    Network of the Order of the Sleepless

    encryption: FaKOknNhP, variable code: use blocked

    * * *​
     
  12. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    So,she would be SoB.And meet Krypt later.Why not gave her to Mechanicus ? it would made everybody happy.
    P.S fun thing - in WH40 she get best possible place except maybe Tau.Or,to be precise,less bad.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2021
  13. RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    She is a sinful heretic. And you're suggesting Inquisition must just let her get away with it??? It's very suspicious. Also, it's a Warhammer, nor Equestria.
     
    The_Bajar likes this.
  14. Threadmarks: Epilogue
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    So, before an epilogue, there is a serious question.
    For an author writing it's not the main business. If you want a good story about WH40k write it yourself. That's what he said. And I as a reader want to squeeze so much text from him as it's possible.
    So I start this thing with translation just to convince him that his scribble has potential. I'm so bad. *evil laugher*
    Is this story has the potential to make money?


    Epilogue
    * * *​
    No one remembered why the squad was called the "Communist Sanitary Squad". Arguing about the name, as well as trying to find some kind of prototype, was a traditional discipline of the newcomers. No, why "Sanitary" - it is clear, the "cleaners" were doing that too. But where did the main work, that is, the actual purification go? And who were the "communists"? It was prescribed to consider them unconditionally a good thing, as well as the red banner of the detachment, but without any reference. Even in the Lives of St. Clarence, the official patron of the Squad, there was no answer, not even a hint of a clue. Nevertheless, the Squad has maintained an unbroken tradition for more than five hundred years, bearing the burden of dignified and responsible service.​

    A tracked armored vehicle was hurtling down the street, spitting steel links out of the sidewalk. A siren wailed, though there was no need to do so no one would think of doing anything to obstruct the Squad. On the contrary, everyone, whether on foot or on wheels, was in a hurry to get out of the way of the car under the red flag of the SCC. The old engine sipped on promethium and murmured with the smooth monotony that is characteristic of tried, venerable machines with a well-honed Spirit inside. Normally the crew tried to leave in a lineup of at least five transporters of varying caliber and purpose, plus a BaneWolf in case things got really bad. But shit hit the fan again, and a reserve crew with punished and rookies, a total of ten men plus a senior mentor, was thrown into action. Big Bertha couldn't be counted as either a rookie or an offender, but there were no other mentors at the base, so she took command of the rabble. Now it was up to her to figure out how to get things done without getting killed by the whole squad.​

    Inside the vehicle was shaking and rattling. Bertha was making a mental note of what the companions were doing and guess what kind of trouble to expect. Everyone was busy. The "Holy Man" was kneeling in the corner, as usual, praying under a handwritten poster that said, "Fuck the Evil!!" The poster was pretty shabby, even though it was a sheet of sturdy, flexible plastic. No wonder, considering that the proclamation had already changed three armored cars.​

    The "Priest", on the contrary, was not praying. He was busily checking the chemical sprayer, covered with parchment scrolls, like the annual letter to the Golden Throne of good behavior, with Ecclesiarchy stamps. The staff priest believed in general that prayer should be offered only after a good deed was completed, not before.​

    "Crybaby" sobbed, fingering his dirty, oily face with his chubby palms. It happened to him regularly. The staff flamethrower was afraid of dying in sin, and even more of fire and acid. The "Sinner" indulged in his favorite pastime of embroidering another symbol on his red reflective vest despite the shaking. Bertha didn't share the belief that if you put nine hundred and ninety-nine sacred prayer lines on your gear, then the evil forces wouldn't notice your soul and there was a chance of getting into the three percent of survivors of docility. As a three-time novice already, Bertha could responsibly report that the honorable service of Purification was killing everyone without discerning the labels. On the other hand, the hobby of embroidery was harmless and godly and reliably occupied the mind, which was a good thing from all sides.​

    The Savlar's nose turned up absentmindedly, revealing to the world the unhealed ulcer he'd got from his distant mines. The ex-convict, of course, had never been anywhere near the famous moons, but he told everyone that he had crawled out of the deepest dungeon. Everyone pretended to believe him. The "Savlar" was clearly trying to impress the new girl, but, frankly, not very well. She withdrew into herself, as usual, staring blankly through space, as if she were seeing something beyond the grasp of mere mortals. Well, or moved to the point of losing touch with reality.​

    The lass was a headache for the tutors, and no one could say exactly why. Yes, a savage from some barbarian world had a poor command of normal speech. At first, she couldn't even pray like a human and understood nothing of everyday life. The whole squad laughed good-naturedly, telling each other how the blonde tried for the first time to put on a hazmat suit and gas mask. And "Olla" - so the girl was listed in the accompanying documents - was a sullen loner, who and with no one was not a friend and not even a couple of words without an absolute need. On the other hand, what Olla did not know, she learned quickly. She prayed regularly, and being unsociable was not a vice. The "Sinner", for example, never spoke to anyone at all, communicating only in gestures. He deemed it unworthy to desecrate the universe in which the Emperor resided by the sound of insignificant speech. As for equipment, the squadron learned how to properly handle government property quickly, usually no longer than a day.​

    The armored truck jerked particularly hard so that the "Smoker" coughed and choked on the smoke of his vile pipe. Аnd the "Wretched Man" smacked his head first on the bracket and then, in the opposite direction, on the acid cylinder. Through the armor again came the shrill howl of the siren, with which "Driver" was clearing an already free path. Bertha sighed, gripping the handrail tighter. She turned her thoughts back to the new girl.​

    Yeah, she didn't give her much cause for concern. The squad had seen far more colorful adepts. But still... There was something about her that wasn't right. Something alien and strange. Not threatening, strange. As if she'd descended from the highest floors of some steeple in a rich Hive, but her mind was still in her old life. This case should be Olla's first real, "combat" experience, and the mentor was very concerned about the acid reagent handler. More precisely, the girl's aloofness, her uncomplicated indifference to what was going on around her.​
    The red light above the side sliding panel that replaced the usual transporter hatch lit up. That meant no more than a couple of minutes left.​

    The mentor was distracted for a moment, and when she looked at her ward again, she found her staring at Bertha in turn, and quite consciously.​

    "Deceived," said Olla unexpectedly, with a strong accent, but quite understandable.​

    The car was wildly noisy, the soundproofing had become in disrepair long ago, but communication was through the radio and laryngophones, so everyone could hear the new girl.​

    "What?" asked Berta, reflexively, almost like an ordinary person, not a Mentor.​

    "He fooled me," the girl repeated, dull and expressionless, wrapping herself in the sizeless jumpsuit like a warm cloak. The rubberized fabric creaked and creased with difficulty. "Savlar" laughed vilely, snorting and dropping slime with a hole instead of his nose. He stopped, catching Bertha's very grim look.​

    "It happens," the Priest said as smoothly and evenly as he did, crossing himself with an aquila. "Everyone is deceived by someone. Only the Emperor is perfect, was and will be, blessing the galaxy with himself and through himself."​

    Olla looked at the priest with a wild look and then went back into herself as if to turn her pupils inward. But she clutched tightly to her gas mask bag. Bertha sighed, feeling the hot air filtered through her respirator. Some nuance seemed to have cleared up. Apparently, the girl really was a city girl, recruited "on trust." It was rare, but it happened, too. She is guessing the girl won't be in the squad for long.​

    The "Priest" stood up, grasping securely the handrail that ran the full length of the compartment under the low ceiling. He yelled loudly:​

    "Come on, brothers, let's fuck the evil's ass!"​

    "Fuck the Evil!!!" A chorus of ten gulps came back in more or less unison. Only Olla seemed to remain silent. Oh, and "Crybaby", who was clutching the sprayer with both hands, so that the tears were already rolling down his face in generous streams. It got cold in the car, despite the midday heat and the running engine. Her mentor saw the frost gather in the corners in a whitish film, and shuddered to think what lay ahead of them. If the manifestation is so clear and strong, then the real trouble lies ahead. And BaneWolf, with his blessed acid cannon, the last argument for the worst-case scenario, is gone...​

    "Put on respirators!" commanded Bertha. "A closed cycle!​

    A red light blinked, the transporter slowed down, jerked, turning around on the spot and backing up.​

    Let's work.

    Olla got tangled up in the gas mask gear again, and the "Wretched Man" unexpectedly helped her untangle the corrugated hose, properly buckled the strap, grabbing the absorbent cylinder in the right pocket so it wouldn't fall out. The girl hesitated, pulling on the gas mask, but managed it. Behind the round glasses, her gaze finally lost its mad notes, became empty and unexpressive.​

    Bertha sighed heavily again, trying to make it look imperceptible in her respirator. She thought that the blonde was finished, and soon. And whoever had recruited her into the Purification was a total asshole. The common man had no place among the novices of Adepto Purificatum, where hell was no farther than the exhaust of a chemical flamethrower, or even the mere thought of evil.​

    Then the armored vehicle shuddered, swayed on its worn shock absorbers, and finally froze. The sliding panel slid aside, and there was no more time for idle reflection.​

    * * *​

    Fidus did not like the family mansion. Hidden deep in the rock, the apartment complex was technically more of a fortified bunker. But it reproduced the ambience of an old mansion. It was gloomy, empty, and lonely to live here. Even the servants did not brighten up life, because many generations of Kryptmans were traditionally served by servitors.​

    Fidus wandered through the dark enfilade of rooms, sadly and methodically drinking wine from the deep cellar. The wine was good, but it intoxicated him slow. It only made his melancholy worse, and his thoughts were too much. More than the young inquisitor, the worthless son of a great father, would have liked.​

    You deceived her.​

    "No."​

    Fidus suddenly realized that he had said it aloud. He shouted, rather, trying to drown out the quiet but piercing whisper from the void.​

    You deceived her.

    "No," whispered Fidus. "There was nothing I could do."​

    But you didn't even try, the voice didn't stop​

    Kryptman waved his hand as if trying to ward off a ghost. He dropped the bottle, which clattered on the thick carpet. It gurgled softly - the wine spilled in a thin stream, soaking into the fabric at once. The shadows seemed to thicken even more - some of the solar panels that powered the lights directly had failed after the recent storm. He should have sent a repair crew outside, but Fidus forgot.​

    Kryptman sat down in the first chair he could find, wrapped his arms around his aching head. Repeated a third time, threw into the middle of nowhere in despair:​

    "No..."​

    Yes, came back from the darkness.​
    Yes. You betrayed a person who wasn't afraid to go through hell to save you. Sacrificed her so as not to draw more attention to yourself.

    The straw-haired girl appeared to Fidus's inner eye as clearly as if the inquisitor were looking at a pict. She was short, thin, and had very beautiful eyes of a rare shade - transparent blue, like the sky at dawn. Beautiful and very expressive.​

    "Yes, I betrayed her... " Fidus whispered as if confessing to himself in the semi-darkened crypt of the family bunker could fix or change anything.​

    He wanted to get drunk, to forget, not to listen. But even in the hop, the inquisitor could not hide from the unspoken call of conscience. The synthetic air-conditioned air smelled of good wine, a little more of dust. And a heavy sadness.​

    Kryptman sat silently for a long time, burying his fingers in a loose lock of hair. The pain returned with renewed vigor, despite medical assurances that the body had been restored to its former condition, including complete regeneration of the nerves. The red-hot needles methodically tormented the entire left side of his body, from his ankle to his neck. His fingers trembled in an uncontrollable tremor.​

    Fidus threw back his head and blinked, feeling everything in his field of vision blur.​

    "Yes, I betrayed her," he repeated. "Yes, it's true..."​

    He sat like that for a long time, dropping his hands limply, blinking frequently. The younger man's lips were moving rapidly and finely as if Fidus were engaged in a silent and furious dialogue with someone unseen. Then Kryptman slapped himself painfully across the face as if wiping away a painful stinging insect.​

    She had kissed him then, on their last meeting, short and crumpled. Olga stood on tiptoe and pecked Kryptman's cheek. He was silent because he didn't know - what to talk about. Neither did she - the girl was very bad at gothic. But in her eyes Fidus read naive, trusting gratitude, and hope, and absolute trust. Faith in the man for whom she had risked so much, body and soul. In the one who had come between her and the demon, like a true hero who denied fear.​

    Into someone who already knew there was nothing, he could do to help her. Doesn't want to help her, so as not to put his already miserable, unsuccessful career in jeopardy again.​

    Will you help me? - she asked, ridiculously twisting accents and separating syllables​
    You won't leave me?

    And he replied:​
    Yes. I'll help.​

    And he was silent, his jaw clenched shut, making unimaginable efforts not to reveal himself, to hide the storm in his soul. He seemed to have frightened the girl with his stone face without a trace of emotion. At any rate, Olla left with her head bowed, often turning around with a pitiful, pleading look. Grim and voiceless adepts escorted the girl, who was marching straight to her indefinite service in Adepto Purificatum.​

    The place from which they don't come back.​

    You could've saved her.

    "Yes, I could," Fidus whispered hopelessly, answering himself. "At the cost of rank and regalia."​

    Having ceased to be Inquisitor Kryptman. Breaking the long chain of the Emperor's servants that has been forged over the centuries, piece by piece, life by life.

    "God, forgive me, help me," cried Fidus, feeling the remnants of the groggy feeling leave his consciousness. In vain, no one came to help and soothe the inquisitor's sick conscience.​
    Kryptman got up and unsteadily walked to the library. He was shaking as if in post-operative fever, so the road took a long time. The library greeted the young master as the rest of the house did with silence and half-darkness. Fidus gestured to the servitor, who had rolled up, and followed the machine with the brain of the former man down the aisle between the cupboards. The servitor needed no light, destructive to old folios. The mechanical servant was guided by an infrared searchlight​

    Kryptman, too, could have walked through the book warehouse with his eyes closed. He had spent so many years here as a child. But he preferred to turn on the cozy lamp above the reading table. It remained to find what he was looking for.​

    Here is a row with selected recollections of the great figures of Ordo Hereticus. Here are practical guides to the methods of interrogation and investigation, the most shabby, read-out of all the books. An introduction to the art of unraveling criminal mysteries for the young inquisitor... Copies of some of the Kryptmans' reports, published "in folio," for parade performances. Annual handbooks and glossaries on sects, cults, heretical communities, and xeno-races. All wrong, all wrong.​

    Yeah, here.​

    A separate cabinet stood apart and seemed like a novelty compared to the carved wood that reigned in the temple of old literature. It looked as if it had been hastily made, with diligence, but without any experience in carpentry. It was solid, sturdy, and a little crooked. A dozen wide shelves were filled with journals of all kinds and quality, from sumptuous notebooks covered in real leather to a few notebooks sewn into a single booklet with an awl and thick thread.​

    Fidus froze, looking at the last shelf, about three-quarters full. And the last diary, most sumptuously published, by special order. Not from the skins of the most devoted adepts, as it were, but also very dignified and rich. The red-and-black volume seemed to complete and crown a long line of memorable entries.​

    Kriptman picked up the journal with a trembling hand and carried it to the reading table, which looked more like a lectern. Fidus sank into the hard chair and froze again, as if hesitant to read Kryptman Sr.'s notes. Time itself seemed to stand still in anticipation, the minutes dying, barely born, one by one. Finally, with a barely audible rustle, the book opened.​

    'I began to keep a diary long ago, more out of tradition than a practical necessity, and also to satisfy my vanity. I thought that the hour would come when Inquisitor Kryptman would be gone, but that the record of his life would remain for centuries, preserving the memory of me in a different way than the archives of the Ordo Hereticus, which conceal everything and let nothing out. This is certainly a sin, but I think it is a forgivable one. There did not seem to be much left to record, for I say openly before men and God and my conscience that I have always faced the threat, no matter how severe my fate was.​

    However, things turned out differently ...​

    I have lived long, much, much longer than I had expected in my wildest dreams. My life ends in honor, respect, recognition of colleagues and comrades-in-arms. And every step of this way is marked in the chronicle that began with one skinny notebook and now occupies more than one cabinet of my vast library. Today I am looking at a vast collection of volumes that strictly and impartially record the ups and downs, the successes and failures. But I confess that I feel ... only sadness. For I shall soon be leaving this world which has been blessed by the grace of the Emperor, a world in the keeping of which I have also been a part, of which I am proud, without concealing it. But it is not death that frightens me and makes me timid. It is not death that frightens me, but the certain knowledge that I have lost the main battle. And the knowledge of this cries out from the pages of my memories, my unbiased diary.​

    Yes, I am going away defeated. But in the sadness lies a comforting germ, the name of which is hope. Hope that the hour will come when my research will be remembered, extracted, and used to know the Great Enemy. Perhaps the most terrible of all, which mankind has met and will meet in the victorious march through the galaxy.​

    The last volume of my chronicle is not a diary, not a painstaking daily record of events. It is a cumulative story, an extract of my quest, of the struggle I have waged for decades and - alas - alone, feeling the skeptical smiles behind my back and hearing the benevolent sneers of disbelieving colleagues.​

    If you are reading this, it means that my hope was not in vain. The crumbs of knowledge that I picked up like bread crumbs in a forest full of mysteries and dangers, the sinister facts that I painstakingly collected and categorized - all will be useful to you, no matter who you are, who opened this book.​

    If you are my colleagues of the Inquisition, remember me with a kind word and thank me for my unrequited, ungrateful labor, which brought me only sarcastic mockery during my lifetime. I do not consider myself worthy to sit beside the Emperor in death. My soul will fade into nothingness so that your commemoration will not reach me. But it is not the dead who need a good word, it is the living who need it, and so you will not do good for me, but for yourself.​

    If my son is browsing through these pages, I will refrain from admonishing and commenting, for all that needs to be said has already been said.​

    Turn the page and find out that many years ago, during an operation on the Sta... '​

    From here on, the entry was cut off, the tail of the "a" dropping down, thinning, instead of curving into a hook. This letter was the last letter Fidus Kryptman the Elder wrote. And the last thing he ever did.​

    The son turned the page, revealing a large black-and-white full-page drawing that was enclosed separately. He stared at it for a long time, then took another picture out of his pocket, put it next to him, and stood staring at it again.​

    The images were completely different. One drawing was done in the confident style of a good artist - every inquisitor necessarily took a course in academic painting, because the equipment was not always at hand. Often one had to rely only on one's memory and a steady hand. Fine paper, expensive charcoal, smooth and accurate lines.​

    The other was scribbled with the cheapest stylus on a similarly crummy sheet of old notebook paper that had come out of recycling and was doomed to perish in the same place. A hand that, at best, scribbled a man with circles and straight lines.​

    And yet, the two completely different images, separated by nearly a decade and a half, quite clearly depicted the same creature.​

    A large, disproportionately bulbous head. The round eyes were rolled out, and the mouth was gnarled with small triangular teeth. Senior Kryptman's drawing conveyed in great detail the expression of absolute, boundless anger on the muzzle, which could well be called the face. Junior had seen both mutants and xenos, and was used to perceiving and not being surprised by their strangeness. But still, the sight of the creature made him shiver, and a trickle of icy sweat ran down his spine. He wanted to look around to see if the shadow of death with the head of a toothy mantis was creeping up behind him.​

    Fidus leaned back on the hard chair, polished by the backs of dozens of generations of Kryptmans. And whispered again a phrase that Olga had heard once before, but did not understand.​

    "Father, were you really right?"​
    * * *​
    That's it. There is a second book and I can talk with the author about translation too. If there is interest.​
     
  15. Bogdan

    Bogdan Getting out there.

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    There is interest. A question is the next book just as dark or darker? But would love to read.
     
  16. Threadmarks: The Squad Prologue
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    The Squad by Igor Nikolaev
    Prologue
    * * *
    "Why have you come, Kryptman Junior? My Order is not welcome to you."

    Even seated, the giant seemed two heads taller than Fidus, who was standing. The shapeless cloak-like garment, with its many pleated folds, slid down to the floor, widening like the base of a spire. The cloak seemed to show a deliberate peacefulness on the part of its wearer. To reach the power spear, which rested on a stand of plain wood without polish or varnish, one would have had to tear through the fabric, wriggle out of his clothes. But Fidus wasn't fooled; if anything happened, no obstacle would stop the spear's master.

    Kryptman averted his eyes; it was too hard to bear the unblinking gaze of his interlocutor. The dark dots of his pupils stared fixedly, immovable, like laser sights. The blue irises were a remarkably clear shade, without a single speck or string of blood vessels, multiplying the impression of inanimate optics. Nevertheless, the space marine's eyes were real, alive. They had simply seen a lot in their owner's long life. Perhaps too much.

    "I have enough time ... Inquisitor..." the giant paused for a barely perceptible moment, a graceful stroke of disregard for his guest's status. "I can afford to spend it lavishly, without being stingy. The question is whether you're in a hurry."

    The captain of the thirteenth squadron finally took his eyes off the inquisitor and looked out the window. An ordinary wide window with an angular frame. A perfect copy of the original from times immemorial, when Terra was not yet the center of the universe, the wellspring of the true faith and the luminous Astronomicon. The porthole of the captain's prayer room now faced the shaded side, so there was half-darkness behind the armored glass. But soon the cruiser would change course, and the fierce light of the yellow star would flood the octagonal chamber.
    The smoke from the incense lamps flowed low as if clinging to the wooden floor. On it was the symbol of a two-pointed arrow, inscribed in a circle, with a steady hand. A barely perceptible circulation of air pulled gray streams along the walls, stripped of ornamentation and decoration. Only pristine metal, steel with frequent rivets, just like a thousand years ago, the hour the cruiser came off the shipyard slipways. The metal, though, was almost hidden beneath the scrolls that covered the ten-foot walls in several layers, like fresh shavings. Precious parchment, cheap paper, scraps of leather from devoted adepts, even wooden planks. With seals of consecrated sealing wax, simply glued, in some places nailed through metal like soft wax. Different material, different words, but the handwriting is the same, machine-accurate. Not prayers, more like notes. The memory of the ages.

    "My Order is not pleased with you," the giant repeated. "Neither am I. But now that you're here, it would be impolite to chase away... the Inquisitor."

    There was that pause again, barely noticeable, almost imperceptible. Clear and direct clarification of what the speaker was thinking about Fidus. The big man's voice sounded smooth and deep, with an intangible warmth. It was the humming of an engine, all its parts fingering together and working in perfect harmony, under the meticulous supervision of a well-tempered spirit. Fidus was not deceived, the warmth was not for him. The great warrior was simply at peace with himself and saw no reason to be annoyed by an insignificant visit from an insignificant man.
    "I see that your soul is in turmoil and your thoughts are confused. We could pray together," the captain suddenly suggested. "Then you'll tell me what your concern is. But I'll tell you right away...:

    The giant shook his head, the snow-white strands of hair trembling in time with the movement. Usually, warriors of the Order shaved their heads to make it easier to maintain and repair interface connectors, and to treat head wounds. But Sage was the exception, perhaps because he rarely participated in combat. Now the Order claimed his other talents.
    "You definitely came with a request, but given the preceding events, this is a drum whose pounding will not reach my ears."

    "I don't understand..." Now the inquisitor shook his head. He wanted to put his hands in his pockets, cross his arms over his chest, or otherwise build a psychological defense. Fidus was in no danger here, and yet he felt awkward and uncomfortable.

    "Well, let me be clear," the captain's voice had lost much of its good-naturedness, and now it reeked of the coldness of a cryogenic chamber. "Inquisitor Kryptman, you did not kill two of my brethren, but you are responsible for their absence. You can justify yourself all you want, but your words are like a distant drum in the night. It sounds, but its thumping doesn't touch my heart. I think that analogy makes sense to you?"

    Fidus clenched his teeth and bowed his head low, trying to hide the blush of anger. It was more of an instinctive reaction, though. He can't fool the giant's supernatural senses anyway.
    "Sleepless men can think what they like," Kryptman lifted his chin and looked straight into the captain's blue eyes. "I don't take the blame! I didn't call them to break the embargo!"
    "That's a fact," the space marines agreed sadly. "But your report number four, written in panic ink on a sheet of horror, encouraged them to do so. However, your mistake could be understood. Not forgive, but understand ..."

    The giant sighed with an unpretentious sadness that, for his size and chest width, looked like a gust of warm air from a small blast furnace.

    "We could if you admitted your guilt and repented. Instead of persisting in tales of some terrifying xenos that no one has ever seen and that guard in the darkness like wolves against lambs. The bona fide delusion of the seasoned inquisitor is an original quirk. But when performed by a young boy, it is no longer a stylish folly, but annoying foolishness."

    Fidus was silent because there was nothing to say. More precisely, there was a lot to say, but it was all useless. Kryptman had already realized clearly that they did not believe him, just as they did not believe his father, and it was useless to persist. At least, to persist openly and directly.

    "I need help," he finally said. "I've really come to ask... for advice."

    "Advice?" The giant seemed genuinely surprised. "From me? What could a lone servant of the Order of the Sleepless say to you?"

    "I need your wisdom," Fidus said firmly. "The knowledge of a man who has lived for centuries, and though he was born for war, he has made a name for himself in another field."

    The captain smiled coldly, with a faint note of superiority.

    "I am not a human being, young inquisitor. I am both more and less than mortal. But in a way, you're right, I have seen many things... Well, let your drum sound in the darkness."
    Fidus inhaled and exhaled as if to oxygenate his blood before throwing himself into the abyss, toward the invisible beasts.

    "I need to save a woman."

    The captain's thin eyebrows raised by themselves, his eyes gleaming in the distant glow of the star. "Wrath of the Righteous" was completing a U-turn maneuver, the line separating light and darkness sliding across the hull as it approached the prayer hall. Suddenly the bloodless lips of the thirteenth squadron commander stretched into a miserly smile.

    "That girl? The young creature that has been transported through the millennia? Are you talking about her?"

    "Yes," it sounded like an exhale of relief, and Fidus was glad that there was no need to go into a long explanation. However, the captain's next question was expected and heavy.

    "Why?"

    Kryptman thought for a while.

    Why? Why indeed?

    "I owe it to her," Fidus said through gritted teeth.

    The Inquisitor repeated these words many times, imagined the conversation with the sage, and seemed to have achieved perfection. But now the usual smoothness of speech was gone, melted under the gaze of the Emperor's angel.

    "She saved me despite the horrors that surrounded her. She saved me without even knowing who I was. Simply because she was compassionate."

    Each word was literally forced through his throat, clawing at the sharp edges, scratching at the very soul.

    "I owe it to her. And I want to help."

    "You had an opportunity to simply prevent such an outcome. But you didn't use it at the time," the captain reminded him impassively. He remained motionless, only the bright eyes gleaming in his stone face and the cape barely visible rising on his chest.

    "Yes, it's true."

    A wave of searing shame came again, burning Kryptman's soul.

    "I had an opportunity, but I didn't use it. I chickened out."

    The main thing was said, and Fidus exhaled, feeling a little better, just a little.

    "I want to get her out of the Purification Service," he said firmly as if cutting the safety strings. "I want to save her from death."

    "In Adepto Purificatum, people survive."

    "Three percent. That's common knowledge. One and nine-tenths percent. That's for real."

    "But how can I help you?" surprised the captain. "You're still an Inquisitor, that's your business. I am infinitely far from the Purification. Though, if one accepts that any act for the glory and good of the Imperium are uniting, then we are all, of course, brothers in service."

    "I tried, but I did not succeed. My group was disbanded, and the adepts were transferred to other inquisitors. The Council strongly advised me to refrain indefinitely from any investigative action. I'm almost under house arrest. I have contacted our archivists and lawyers, and they have found no way to resolve the matter officially and legally. Until the term of obedience expires, it is impossible to get a person out of Adepto Purificatum."

    "You forgot the case of the Great Deed," the captain reminded.

    "No, I haven't. She is a weak girl, she will not survive even docility. What to speak of Deed..."

    "The weak girl was strong enough to drag a certain inquisitor through the air ducts," the space marine grinned. "Don't look so surprised, Fidus, two of our men died there. Of course, the Order meticulously studied and double-checked all the materials of the investigation. And at the same time, Olga, not even knowing Gothic, managed to get through quite a bit of the Ballistic Station, running away from mutants, servitors, and heretics.

    "Mu..."

    "Mutants," the captain repeated with polite firmness. "Yes, we took note of your version and checked it, too. No, you're wrong, the Order, the Inquisitors, and the Gearmen have gone over the station one by one and found no trace of the Xenos described. Mutants, yes, as in any facility that is sufficiently inhabited and large. However, no more than that. Take that to heart and don't indulge in any more fantasies. At least not here."

    Bright light slipped into the prayer room with its first rays, like a swordsman testing his enemy's defenses with a test lunge. There were no filters on the windows, and Kryptman automatically squinted his eyes, wondering how a space marine could tolerate the brightest light.

    "However, I agree, she will not survive docility. And you decided that I could replace your army of archivists?"

    "You're not just the Emperor's chosen warrior. You are a ma..." Fidus hesitated a spark of restrained amusement flickering in the titan's eyes for a moment. "Astartes, who has devoted his life to knowledge, diplomacy, languages. The art of negotiation, of achieving goals without war. You have spoken and succeeded with men, heretics, xenos, and God knows what else. You have communicated as equals with the Ecclesiarchy, the arbiters, my colleagues, all administrations. And I thought ..."

    Fidus took a breath, took a deep breath.

    "Maybe you can advise me on something no one else knows. Find loophole in-laws and precedents that no one else has taken advantage of."

    The giant rose with unexpected ease. His cloak fluttered like wings, pulled itself up to his waist, and formed wide sleeves. Apparently, the material was unusual, with shape memory. The captain walked to the window past Fidus, looked at the star without even squinting, though the inquisitor already had to cover his eyes with his palm. Kryptman saw only a dark silhouette against the blindingly bright background.

    "I'm afraid I can't help you here."

    Or you don't want to?

    "I don't want to," the captain said as if he hadn't noticed the inquisitor's insolence. "Your weakness is your burden. But if I wanted to..."

    The blinds clicked, lowering one step at a time, blocking out the bright light with an intricate system of slats. Now only the soft light of the lamps illuminated the room.

    "Some laws and rules can be circumvented, others arbitrarily interpreted. Sometimes it is possible to collide norms, taking advantage of the differences. But in this case, all these avenues are closed. When one becomes a novice in the Adepto Purificatum, there are three ways one can leave the Service."

    The space marine raised his fist and enumerated, flexing his fingers:

    "Purified after six years of docility. Forgiven, having done the Deed. Or dead. There are no other ways."

    Fidus looked at the broad palm with three fingers, each more the size of a small projectile. The inquisitor realized that the nails used to fasten the captain's notes to the walls were not nailed with a hammer.

    "That can't be," Fidus blinked, struggling to keep from sighing. He had hoped to the end that the old sage, equally adept at war and peace, would be able to help. The captain smiled, very sparingly, in a way that made the inquisitor wonder if he was dreaming in the shadows.

    "I've seen a lot..." the space marine said slowly, measuredly. He stood beside Kryptman, and the man could physically feel the incredible energy sleeping peacefully in the spacemarine's modified body.

    "I saw burning planets whose deaths shone in the darkness of space as funeral pyres. The dark light of warp illuminated the galaxy from nothing and nowhere. The storming of orbital fortresses and the deaths of innumerable armies as billions of tragedies united in a single torrent of suffering that drove astropaths mad. Manifestations of entities are so astounding that the mind cannot even perceive them, much less understand them. All these moments of life dissolved into the river of time disappeared."

    "The giant touched his index finger to his temple under the white strand of hair."

    "And yet they remained in my memory. Memory and knowledge have made me, as you put it..." Astartes hummed, "A diplomat. Sometimes you have to live many lives and see millions of deaths to realize a simple thing. Every problem has a solution. But sometimes that solution requires looking at the problem from a very special angle."

    "I don't understand."

    "I can't help you get the girl out of the Purification Service by unprohibited means, it's impossible. However, if you decompose your task into its constituent elements and look at them more closely, more broadly, shall we say, then... who knows? There's a lot to think about."

    "So my drum was loud enough after all?" Kryptman grinned, unhappily, with the corners of his mouth down. Hope struggled in the inquisitor's soul with apprehension.

    "It's hard to surprise me. I thought you would ask for yourself, so I agreed to the meeting, and the Master allowed you to come aboard the "Wrath of the Righteous". I wondered how willing his father's son would be to humiliate himself and diminish the worthy name of the Kryptmans. But I was wrong, and it is interesting. Almost unusual. It is my personal experience that when a man sets foot on the road of cowardice, he follows it to the end. Perhaps you are an exception. Perhaps..."

    So there is a solution? - Kryptman repeated the question, holding his breath.

    "Yes. But you won't like it. And you'll probably die performing it."

    Fidus licked his lips, nervously smoothed his sideburns, ran his fingers over his sunken cheeks, lowered his hands, and clenched his fingers into fists until his knuckles cracked. And he uttered one short phrase:
    "What should I do?"
    * * *

    https://litmarket.ru/books/epidotryad

    ЭпидОтряд

    Автор: Игорь Николаев , Алиса Климова
    Цикл: Криптман #2
    Продолжение истории Ольги и Фидуса Криптмана младшего.
    Вархаммер, злодейские происки, ужасающие тайны, инквизиторы и один попаданец, который предпочел бы никуда не попадать, особенно в темный мир безысходного будущего.
    И как обычно - всегда рад донатам и прочему воспомоществованию, поскольку творчество идет сугубо в свободные промежутки между отчаянной борьбой за существование.​
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2021
  17. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    So,they would live.Good/or bad/ for them.InWH40 quick death is usually best alternative.
    And your story is not worst then average WH40 book.
     
  18. Threadmarks: The Squad Chapter 1
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Part 1
    The unit of technical support

    Chapter 1

    "Take it."​

    Olga pulled the edge of her scarf up to her nose. Despite the long-legged jacket lined with some kind of fur, the cold wind seemed to bite into her bones. It was no wonder since Olga had always been skinny, and meager rations did not help her build up a layer of fat. It seems that in this shitty universe, human life costs a small fortune, and everyone eats only prison rations. In fact, no matter where and with what she was fed here, the food invariably evoked strong associations with prison rations. And the food was always given in iron bowls with inventory numbers of two or three dozen digits.​

    "Sign here."​

    "Know it."​

    Olga pulled the ears of her knitted hat lower. Her almost shaved head was constantly freezing. Sluggish, wistful thoughts barely stirred, like the snapping fish in a frozen aquarium. The 'host,' a huge aunt, looked sternly at the skinny girl. Olga stared at the aunt in silence, wondering who it could be and why she was signing off on some kind of statement for the newcomer. And where, in general, fate had thrown her. The prison ship did not bother to enlighten the prisoner about her future fate and ignored her timid questions.​

    The landscape around was bleak, industrial, strangely similar to the usual steppe in winter. There was a lot of sand, a lot of ice, a lot of concrete, and blind boxes of buildings scattered without any order. Or at least seeming order. Chimneys that exuded black and white smoke into the dark sky. Power lines, or something strongly resembling them. Metal trusses and bundles of wires, sagging heavily. If you try a bit harder, you can convince yourself that this is the real Russian steppe. You just don't have to think that most of the buildings don't have a single window, that the lattice trusses are twice as high as usual, and that instead of cars, you see monstrous constructions that look like steam tractors with trailers. And you don't have to look at the flying skull with three bird's feet hovering over the transmitting side's head.​

    "Well, that's it," the acolyte said grimly, without any enthusiasm, measuring Olga with a critical eye. As if checking to be sure she was worthy of escaping his custody.​

    The girl shivered silently, feeling the pain in her shoulder and ribs on her right side again. Her acquaintance with the asshole in the gray robe had begun with him beating her for not reading the prayers hard enough. Olga would have loved to spit in his porridge or hit him on the head with a pipe cutter, but she had already realized that the attitude toward religion here was... specific attitude here. Accuse her of heresy, and things would end badly. She had to swallow the humiliation and learn the prayers.​

    "Take it," the man in the robe grimaced, and the skull scribbled on a sheet of paper with a feather, apparently recording the act of transfer.​

    The acolyte's angry face clearly said: "now she's your responsibility".​

    "I accept," the aunt muttered, handing the acolyte a folder of signed documents without any reverence. The folder was very old. The golden eagle on the top cover was almost worn off, losing its solidity and turning into a smudged spot. The robed goat handed the file to the skull, which picked up the burden with its third iron claw and sagged down considerably, trying to keep the weight down. The motor in the yellow-and-white head buzzed like an angry bumblebee. The red lenses blinked rapidly, clicking the hidden mechanisms.​

    "The Emperor will Protect," the jerk folded his arms across his chest, crossed his thumbs, and stared into the gray sky with lean piety.​

    "Truly it will Protect!" The aunt repeated his gesture, but with much more sincerity.​

    "Protect..." whispered Olga, following the general example. Fortunately this time she was not confused and said the correct word in the local language, not confused with Russian.​
    There was no Emperor in the sky. A thing flew by with a low rumble, leaving behind it a distinctly anti-environmental streak of coal-black exhaust. A large star flashed with a cold light, hovering motionless just above our heads. Probably a satellite or some kind of orbital structure.​

    After performing the obligatory ritual, the man, without saying goodbye and without dignifying his companions with an extra word, went back to the flying machine, which looked like a fantastic airplane that despised aerodynamics. At any rate, Olga never understood how one could fly with such short, thick wings. Judging by the rumble and clatter that this bucket of spare parts made in flight, it did not understand either, and moved solely by the grace of God.​

    Olga sighed heavily, adjusted the tarpaulin strap on her shoulder. Along with her clothes, the girl had been given a duffel bag, a hundred liters' worth, before boarding. But the novice's luggage was languishing at the bottom of the bag, not weighing her down. It's a bleak future, she thought. This was not a tale of the triumph of progress, but a tale of the great construction site of communism. At any rate, the clothes issued by the captenarmus on the ship with the bars, the evil guards, and the constant prayers could immediately and without re-stitching be used​
    in any movie about the horrors of GULAG and forced labor.​

    "Olla," the aunt said unfriendly, looking at the girl with the same sour expression on her face as the man.​

    "Olga," she corrected mechanically and cringed, realizing that she had said too much again.​

    "The accompanying documents say 'Olla,'" the woman said sternly. "So it's Olla. Order above all."​

    The aunt was more like a retired bodybuilder. She was powerful, cubic, brutally strong, even at a short look. And she was dressed much better than Olga, in some kind of quilted overalls with a hood. Where anatomically there was supposed to be a waist, a tarpaulin belt with many pockets for tools encircled the powerful belly. On her left shoulder was a phosphorescent blazon with some kind of symbol, like the letters 'S,' 'C,' and something else.​

    The plane howled and rattled as if a bucket of nuts had been thrown into its spinning womb. And took off, though it seemed impossible. Olga glanced at the short-winged menace, suppressed an automatic desire to cross her eyes in relief. Instead, just in case, she performed an aquila, almost dropping the bag from her shoulder. She looked at the bodybuilder, waiting for instructions.​

    "Let's go," said the aunt, unfriendly.​

    Olga followed her thick-gloved hand. The sardelle-shaped fingers pointed to a tractor that stood literally in the middle of the frozen-sandy steppe. The machine was smoking and shining its only headlight.​

    "As you command," Olga sighed, adjusting her bag again.​

    From the concrete landing pad to the tractor, It didn't seem far away. But it was a long way on foot, and in oversized boots that hung off her legs like chains. Inside the truck was cramped, uncomfortable, and reeked fiercely of chemicals and gasoline, which was called 'promethium' here. But at least the engine filled the cabin with invigorating warmth, so much so that the girl even took off her hat. She took off her mittens and rubbed her cold palms together. There was not a crumb of nail polish left on her cropped fingernails, her skin cracked and burr-faced.​

    Oh hands, my poor hands...

    "You will call me Bertha," said the aunt, performing complicated manipulations with three levers and five handwheels. "Mentor Bertha."​

    The vehicle creaked terribly and started moving. Judging by the way the miracle truck shook, the word 'shock absorption' was completely forgotten in the distant bright future. Any bump under the high wheels transmitted a painful jolt directly to the ass of the passenger.​

    "Yes, Mentor..."​

    "Behind my back, our assholes call me Big Bertha or BiBe. Behind my back, because I could kick their teeth in."​

    "I got it, Mentor. I will not follow their shameful example."​

    Bertha looked suspiciously at Olga, but the girl was warming up conscientiously. She had the bliss of a kitten on a warm stove on her face.​

    "Five hundred and sixty-seventh maintenance squadron. You'll get the bracelet later. Remember. Five, six, seven."​

    "Yes, I did."​

    "You're a junior novice. You'll be in my vehicle, a canister loader. We'll see about that. It's a simple job, responsible. But first, three days of training. You'll master the equipment."​

    "As you command," Olga agreed. "I will. I will master it."​

    Bertha looked at the novice again. The woman's eyes were unexpectedly beautiful, with very clear whites, almost no blood vessels, and contrastingly bright irises. The elven eyes on an orcish face.​

    "Do you have any idea where you're going?" Bertha, the orchid girl, suddenly asked.​

    "No," Olga admitted honestly. "I was sent here from the prison ship."​

    "Prison?" She didn't understand. "Don't say it out loud."​

    She snorted with contemptuous indignation.​

    "What are you talking about, you little fool? Calling monks the jailers.​

    The girl rubbed her fingers, which did not warm up and seemed wooden.​

    "Sorry, Mentor. I don't understand the rules yet, but I try very, very hard! For the Emperor's light to warm... uh... illuminate my soul! Ja... the monks said I must atone for my sins," Olga paused and dared to add quietly. "But I had no sins."​

    "So you're not a volunteer?" Bertha seemed very surprised.​

    "No."​

    "And not from in a penal brigade?"​

    "No. I didn't do anything," Olga breathed on her fingers to warm them further. A slight vapor dispersed through the rattling cabin.​

    "They're completely screwed," Bertha said indignantly, spinning a big wheel wrapped in leather cord. "Soon they'll be sending children to us," she paused, then added angrily, more to herself than to her companion. "I'll tell everything to the commandant, and we'll write a complaint together. We'll have a look at your case."​

    Olga got warm, curled up in a ball inside her jacket, and pulled her mittens back on. She wanted to cover her eyes and doze off. The tractor rolled briskly forward, bouncing on bumps, occasionally the headlights of oncoming cars slid over the cab. On the left side was something that looked like a forest of gas flares, very high, almost a mile high. On the right was an embankment, just like a railroad track, with gravel and semaphores. Though the truck rumbled relentlessly, the engine rumbled more quietly than an ordinary internal combustion engine. An outlandish helicopter flew over the tractor, gliding too fast for Olga to see the details.​

    "Ork shit," Bertha cursed, not sure why or for what reason.​

    "Where are we going?" the novice dared to ask.​

    "Five hundred and sixty-seventh maintenance squadron," the woman explained slowly, almost syllable by syllable, as if for a feeble-minded. "Radial-12"​

    "Will they feed me there?" Olga squeaked softly.​

    "Are you hungry?" Bertha muttered.​

    "Ugu."​

    "You will." with unexpected good-naturedness informed the aunt. "There are forty thousand ways to die in the Epidemic Squad, but they don't starve you."​

    "Is it supposed to be like that?" she asked cautiously, pointing to the blinking pictogram on the dashboard. The tractor's control panel was austere and minimalist, and the red gear symbol stood out especially ominously.​

    "No," the bodybuilder wiggled her mighty shoulder irritably. - The spirit of the machine isn't happy. When we get there, the "pinion" will please and placate him.​
    Bertha waved her right hand as if she were trying to imitate half an aquila and muttered something incomprehensible. Apparently, the mysterious "pinion" was not to the mentor's liking. Well, thought the girl, just everything seemed normal - and here you are. You mustn't forget, they're all crazy here, all of them. You say the wrong word, and hello.​

    Time passed sluggishly, there was no clock in the cabin, and the constant twilight settled overboard. It seemed to Olga that the jolting journey lasted twenty minutes, but it might as well have taken a couple of hours.​

    "We're almost there," Bertha said, spinning the wide wheel dashingly.​

    Olga pulled herself up higher, fidgeting in her chair, whose upholstery had deteriorated to the point of being a symbol, the idea of steel-framed upholstery. Ahead of her loomed an enormous structure, strikingly different from the standard and faceless boxes. The structure resembled a hangar in the form of half of a barrel cut lengthwise. Above the 'barrel' rose several lattice towers, united into one complex by large bundles of wires and cables. Bundles of parabolic and lattice antennas stuck out to all sides of the world, some rotating at different speeds. All the construction was flanked by red lights to warn against collisions with aircraft. Given the height of the structure, the precaution seemed appropriate.​

    Around the hangar ran a complex system of concrete lanes, not roads, but rather 'tracks,' overpasses. When the tractor got out on one of them and tapped its wheels on the old slabs, Olga noticed numerous dents in the concrete surface. Heavy tracked machinery had clearly been driven here. Through the thin walls of the cabin a long, mechanical howl could be heard. A dreadful siren sounded. The howl rattled her teeth and made her want to crawl into a very deep hole. The siren sounded again, and then there was silence. After the siren wailed, the usual background noise seemed distant and unimportant.​

    "We made it," Bertha said with satisfaction. "But we must hurry. Hold on."​

    Olga couldn't hear her very well. The alarm was still ringing in her head and ears. So when the tractor rushed forward like a spurred one, galloping over the joints of the slabs, the girl almost bit her tongue. She was shaking and reeling like a frog in a ball, to the point of bitterness in her throat.​

    "We're here."​

    Olga fell out of the cabin, not thinking straight and trying her best not to vomit. With a lot of effort, she stayed on her feet, almost unsteadily. Her empty stomach knotted in devious knots, bile felt like it was gurgling somewhere under her tongue.​

    "I brought it," Bertha reported dryly to someone. Or not reported, but informed, just dry and unfriendly.​

    "The novice is weak these days," said a thick bass blurred shadow, a couple of heads shorter than the mentor, but just as broad in the shoulders.​

    Olga swallowed, straightened up, leaning her shoulder against the heated side of the machine. The tractor stopped almost at the very gates of the hangar. Each flap was twenty meters high, if not more. Something inside was humming and whistling like a huge steam locomotive. A couple of dozen people, maybe a little more, were bustling around the structure. They all gave the impression of hard workers, extremely busy with a very important job. Something that looked like a forklift with its 'claws' up high was rolling by. A 'servitor,' like a soldier at a parade, walked by, carrying in a large basket of welded metal strips all sorts of small things - gasoline canisters, scraps of wires, and so on. The locals had a passion for grave creepiness. Even the robots were disguised as zombies.​

    "Cover your ears," advised the shadow.​

    While Olga wondered what that meant, the siren howled again. Now, closer to the source and without the barrier of the cabin, the sound was physical, pounding her ears and her whole body like an acoustic hammer.​

    "Yes, the novice is weak these days," the shadow repeated.​

    After blinking, Olga realized that it was actually a medium-sized, very broad-shouldered man with a bald, shaved head. The cold did not seem to bother the man. Instead of the usual jackets and overalls, he was dressed in some kind of cassock, and with sleeveless chainmail stretched directly over it. The rings gleamed in the spotlight and looked plastic. Instead of a belt, the man had a chain on which hung a skull and a thick book with metal clasps.​

    "Things are strange with her," Berta said briefly. "We'll have to sort it out."​

    "We'll figure it out," the monk-like interlocutor replied. "Nothing happens without the Emperor's will, and every action is guided by the path He has marked out for everyone."​

    "The Emperor will protect," said Bertha piously, folding her arms in a familiar gesture.​

    Olga took a frantic gulp, struggling to overcome the attack of nausea. She also tried to imitate an 'aquila,' but given her condition, it turned out more like a parody of a dying swan.​

    "We're leaving now."​

    The monk looked down at Olga, sparkling with unexpectedly benevolent eyes, almost invisible between the thick flaps of his tortoise eyelids.​

    "Welcome aboard, child."​

    "A... Board..." the girl exhaled incomprehensibly as the whistling and noise increased.​

    And then she went numb when the hangar resident finally began to crawl out of the shelter.​

    "Mobile squadron number five hundred and sixty-seven of the Twelfth Battalion, Second Road Maintenance and Repair Regiment. Self-propelled purification center 'Radial-12'."​

    "God, I understood nothing," Olga whispered, staring with dilated eyes at the monstrous armored train crawling out of the hangar.​

    The huge mechanical snake was made up of wagons ten meters high or so. By eye, Olga estimated that it was no less than five human height. The carriages alternated in pairs - first came the 'cube', which looked like something residential, two-level at least. It had sparse windows and the usual doors with down ramps. Then a deaf tin without a single window, but with wide panels, which, served the purpose of cargo gates and ramps. There were five or six pairs of them. Closing the long track was a gun platform with packs of rockets set vertically. The head carriage, or the 'steam locomotive,' glowed angrily through a narrow window opening in the deckhouse, blew steam through valves at the very rails, and buzzed.​

    Olga took a breath, wiped her sweaty face with her sleeve. A long telescopic flagpole stretched upward from the locomotive cab. On it unfurled a broad red banner, painted with white symbols, which the girl could not make out because of the darkness. Music began to play, some sort of march dominated by brass and timpani. The rhythmic howl reverberated far into the cold air, and the stars, real and manmade, winked deadly above her head. What was happening was eerily reminiscent of a rehearsal for the filming of a Civil War movie - an armored train was leaving, a red banner was flying, a march was playing, but not a soul on the platform.​

    "Is a revolutionary commissar with a revolver expected?" she asked.​

    Stupid, stupid, stupid! Haven't you had enough?! Hold your tongue!

    "What? What commissar? - Bertha was genuinely surprised. "We are not in the Guard, we do not have a commissar. I'll shoot you myself if I have to. Get aboard!"​

    "But... How?" Olga looked helplessly at the moving behemoth.​

    "On the move! Follow me, do as I do!"​

    "To the glory of Him and our good patron Saint Clarence!" proclaimed the monk. "You're with us now, valiant sister of the Communist Sanitary Squad," and he added, in a lower, businesslike,​
    and quick tone. "Hurry up, child, or you'll be left behind, and that will be treated as desertion."​
    * * *​
     
  19. Extras: Faces of the Squad
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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  20. Bogdan

    Bogdan Getting out there.

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    Please fix the images they don't show.
     
  21. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Indeed,images do not work.But - maybe imagination is better ? anyway,please continue.We love to see how poor girl suffer in dark grim future.But i salute her courage.most people tossed in WH40,if they do not die arleady,would go mad or kill themselves.Including me.
     
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  22. RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    OK. I change pictures into links. It's work now.

    You know, more is always better than less. If you don't like the author's vision you can always wipe it out of your memory. For example, some readers and me too, see Bertha like that.
    [​IMG]

    An example of Taylor Habert living and prospering.
    And couple words about Kalkroit Schmettau. It's a minor spoiler, but anyway.
    So he was a big friend of F.K.Senior. It was some kind of bromance. Slaaneshits, quiet!!! But then something happened and Kalkroid felt betrayed. He got a grudge against F.K.Senior. And later transfer it to his son. F.K.J.

    Also, my friends from WH40k universe sent me an interesting picture.
    [​IMG]

    Also, I cross post this story on RailRoad too. Please support with a review.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
  23. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Your visions are OK.Worm universe is almost as fucked as WH40/only difference - nobody try eat their souls,and they have very small chance for victory/
    And Russian Orthodox church was part of russian state from Ivan terrible coward times,so it is like IoM.Only they have no sexy sororitas.
     
  24. Threadmarks: The Squad Chapter 2
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 2
    * * *​
    Most of the surface of Mars had long been hidden beneath an artificial cover, where the factory complexes, launch pads, electromagnetic launch catapults, power transmission lines, and pipelines were linked in an endlessly complex network. Strings of communications ran away from the multistage terminals, and the tracks of the three superheavy trains rolled relentlessly along with them. Only a few sections of the ancient surface seemed abandoned, wild. Cliffs covered with reddish sand, cut by weak winds, as they were before the advent of man. One of these reserves, reminiscent of the pristine Martian nature, remained the Tharsis Bulge.

    The enormous table rose from the stony desert into the low, yellow-clouded sky. On closer examination, the single structure appeared to be assembled from a multitude of supports connected in seeming randomness, replete with asymmetrical transitions and fractal geometry. The cyclopean structure pierced the atmosphere, connecting the planet to the orbital network. It was also an antenna, part of the planet's defense system, and performed about fifty other basic functions, most of which were either undefined on Gothic or kept secret for reasons of utmost secrecy.

    Here some specific rituals of Omnissia service were performed. Here holy hermits dissolved in contemplation of the beautiful, ideal embodiment of pure mathematics. The great philosophers 1100010110 0000011101 0000101110 1111010001 1000001111 0100001011 0110110100 0010110101 1101000010 1111011101 0000101110 0011010000 10110101 comprehended through intense reflection the hidden facets of His Universal Majesty and discovered new aspects of pleasing machine spirits. Here were held certain mysteries, events, and encounters which were to remain hidden from any outside view. Or on the contrary, revealed to the city and the world, as is the case today.

    The elevator platform was due to descend in less than an hour.

    The Manipuls of the Twelfth Legion of Tharsis stood like statues for the fourth twenty-four hours since the "Throne Forge" arrived at the outer docks of the Tsiolkovsky Olympic Tower. The red cloaks of the skitarians hung heavy as if cast from metal. So that they could not be moved even by the endless wind, which drove clouds of fine dust along the grandiose pillars.

    The Fabricator-General of Mars was returning home.

    The occasional spectators who appeared in the outer square looked at the frozen warriors without much interest. Only children and young acolytes occasionally approached the statues to examine their galvanic armor and the original nuances of their equipment from a respectful and safe distance. However, even if children, like their peers from worlds disfavored by Omnissia, began to climb onto the 'statues' heads, the statues would remain motionless. Only a direct order from the lord of Mars or the Fabricator-locum could move the iron fighters. According to tradition, the full legion had to escort the Fabricator-General's transport in full foot formation to the Temple of All Knowledge, and only then go to recharge, check, and feed.

    "Not according to tradition," corrected himself (or rather eliminated the defect of evaluation) the bulky mechanicus, observing the static picture of the respectful vigil of the wanderers on a rather primitive video panel of general use.

    "By standard protocol," he corrected his initial assessment. The corners of the metal body under the robe formed a bizarre configuration, showing how far the mechanicus had gone on the road blessed by Omnissia to abandon the original, imperfect human form.

    "Are you suggesting to reconsider it?" The second interlocutor, who looked more like a centaur with a bundle of technodendrites instead of the lower half of his body, was interested.

    "The Ql12/I43 protocol has interdependencies with one hundred and fourteen Tharsis Twelfth Legion support protocols. There are also direct connections of the first level of attachments to the systems of twenty-eight support units of Olympus. Making changes and adjustments to the linked algorithms without compromising the effectiveness of the Forge will require eighteen thousand four hundred and forty-six man-hours of adepts and standards control operators."

    The angular mechanicus paused for a full three milliseconds and then demonstrated that he was still capable of what people call a 'sense of humor:

    "Therefore, I will submit this concept for consideration when I find one guilty enough to punish him with so worthless a job, every second of which offends the Omnissiah in the absence of further justification for doing it."

    The room where the two men had their binary conversation was a sort of combination of a service room and a cell. Here they often found peace and tranquility in prayer, aware of themselves as part of a God-like mechanism, a cog in the cog which is the beginning and the end of all movement, of all progress.

    "Our partners from Terra consider the process quite solemn and majestic. Having conformity with the algorithms of the Imperial Cult," the "centaur" did not argue, but rather provided objective information.

    "Our partners still believe that each time the Fabricator General descends to the surface of Mars on a special platform eighty-three hours and eleven minutes after completing his solemn visit to Terra. Thereby repeating the return of the Martian envoy ten thousand years ago."

    Before the word 'partners' the cubic-angular mechanicus gave out a long and meaningless series of zeros. This could be interpreted in various ways, from mild irony to a clear indication of the place and role of the said servants of the Emperor. An indication understandable only to a pure mind, sanctified by proximity to machine perfection.

    Both servants remembered, without deeming it necessary to mark it 'aloud,' by any form of communication, that in those early days both contracting parties wanted to sign the treaty. And at the same time to get away from unnecessary memories of the previous era, when the Explorers collected forgotten Terran technology, burning out all the Terran barbarians they encountered in the same Arizona desert. So Mars was represented at the negotiations by a man, though born on the red planet, weakly augmented, almost indistinguishable from the average Terran. The gravity of the Mother of all planets of the Imperium undermined the envoy's health, so returning home required specific manipulation. And laid down traditions that outlived their creators for centuries.

    "He's here."

    Again it was not a question, more exchange of mutual acknowledgment.

    Adeptus Mechanicus, in a scarlet robe without insignia, entered the room, clattering on the steel floor with the metal shoes' soles. In the mirror-polished surface, the visitor's reflection slid like a large blot of blood. The newcomer was tall, but that's not what attracted attention. For his position, which gave him access to this room, he seemed surprisingly human. Almost as human as an ordinary mechanicus of the lowest rungs of initiation.

    The unbuttoned breathing filter hung loosely from one strap, revealing a lean face completely devoid of functional augmentations. Only the very correct, symmetrical features would seem unusual, and that only to an extremely attentive observer. Four segmented, insulated outer cables ran down his back, disappearing into the folds of his cloak at the waist, encircled by a wide brass technobelt. And... that it. The guest might well have been mistaken for an Astartes who had decided to devote himself to the mysteries of Omnissia, to sustain the spirits of the chapters' machines. Assuming, of course, that the Emperor's angels could be so short and thin. However, the dozens of well-coordinated 'Crusaders' accompanying the Martian immediately dispelled misconceptions about his status and true nature.

    "Fabricator General," the angular mechanic bowed as much as his design allowed. He greeted the highest person aloud, as he was accustomed to doing by a long-standing habit, unregulated, but also numbering four digits of years.

    "Lexico Arcanus of the Parliament, Doturov," the newcomer replied without expression.

    The Lord of Mars was in a position to communicate regularly with those who were not blessed with access to encryptors or even the simplest technolingua. And his very position implied honed diplomatic skills, the ability to condescend to any level of communication.

    The "Centaur", Mars Fabricator-locum, did not change position by even a hundredth of a millimeter. It showed no visible reaction. Everyone present already knew that he considered the use of infinitely primitive human speech a voluntary act of regression. There was no point in emphasizing it once again. After waiting ten milliseconds to convey his protest and rejection exhaustively, he pulled out a tentacle that looked like a thin cable in a ringed braid and pulled back the hood on his robe, which might more properly be called a technical protective covering rather than a garment. The cylindrical antennas of interference generators protruded from what in humans would be called the base of the skull. They protected against any unauthorized access to the local noosphere of the Fabricator-General.

    To the uninitiated, it might have seemed amusing that the fabricator-locum thought the speech reprehensible, but informed the completion of the procedure in the same anachronistic way, raising the manipulator with his finger outstretched. A strange parody of the very old and so human "okay" gesture...

    "Geller's fields are stable," Doturov reported with the hexacode. "I'm ready."

    "We're listening."

    It was not a dialogue, it was not an amalgamation of consciousness. In general, any definition given in the categories of any advanced human language could reflect only an infinitesimal part of a process, driven not by logic, but by mathematics.

    Information. Evaluative categories. Variants of development. Complex multivariate sequences of events. Solution pathways. Acceptable impact categories and acceptable outcomes in a complex interaction.

    Dozens of Terra intelligence agencies have sought to penetrate the heart of Mars. At least imagine who and how the fundamental decisions are made. To see not what is on display, but the real underside. None of them could have imagined that these efforts were in vain. The strategic planning of the Great Forge did not involve any organ, assembly, or at least a regulation understandable to man. Technically, Mars' top leadership did not "plan" at all, as did the Lords, the Munistorum, or any other Imperium structure. The flow of information revealed by Doturov filled the unified triple consciousness into a single system. The noosphere, Mars' greatest achievement in information exchange (of course, irretrievably lost during the Great Schism) allowed not just the awareness and verification of vast amounts of data, it prevented even the shadow of the possibility of alteration, reduction, or distortion of the data.

    Six point eighteen hundredths of a second later, the rulers of Mars knew everything that had been collected by the head of the logis of the Martian parliament. A volume of information that would have taken the administrators of the Ecclesiarchy decades to review for the first time alone. The process of processing the data, assessing impacts and consequences went on in parallel, thousands of thousands of simultaneous paths intersecting in incredible ways. What could be called the controlled superconsciousness of the Fabricator-General glided over the interweaving of information currents like a runner on a loom, adjusting the process, ordering it. It debugged the flows, checked the most important algorithms, corrected the inevitable distortions of objective data in such arrays. One of the side threads, a low-priority one, not existing in isolation from the main task, caught the General's attention.

    The ruler of Mars has long since experienced nothing even remotely resembling "curiosity". The categories 'interesting/uninteresting' themselves testify to an imperfect thought process, revealing the flawed nature of the mind. Consciousness, being locked in a dungeon of a carbon medium, is catastrophically limited in resources. It is forced to divide processes into categories of subjective priority and to justify the excruciating trap of existence.

    Nevertheless...

    The General's attention was increasingly focused on the sequence of episodes that took place very far away from Mars many months ago. And the man, who had long ceased to be human, not outwardly, but in his soul, felt interested. Of course, not idle, as most of the higher hierarchy of the Imperium has.

    "Why wasn't the object requisitioned? Our mission at the Station had all the resources it needed, from diplomatic pressure to open hostilities."

    "According to the data available, deemed highly credible, the object was planned for use in the mid-level internal politics of the Ordo Hereticus."

    "An intra-corporate intrigue?"

    "Yes."

    The noosphere did not imply emotion, but it did not deny it either. The data streams transmitted by Doturov changed slightly, taking on the kind of uncertainty typical of processing complex equations with infinitely large numbers. This could and was interpreted by Fabricator-Generals as a kind of apology, a sense of unease that such nonsensical, humanly irrational motives as a struggle for influence, a status rivalry, had such an important place in the description.

    "The extraction with the available forces implied a seventeen point eighty-three hundred percent probability of failure," Doturov continued.

    "Acceptable."

    "However, if successful, the loosely managed interaction of the assets involved would not allow the conflict to be curtailed. And with a probability of eighty point thirteen hundredths of one percent, it translated to the level of the conclave of the sub-sector Ordo Hereticus and the chapter of Adeptus Astartes, clearly indicating our interest in the object. This would have been undesirable, given the five major interaction programs for the next thirty standard years. Too many unpredictable developments dictated by subjective categories, such as wounded ego, changed the balance of interests, antipathy towards the ministers of Omnissia, and others."

    "Reasonable. Continue."

    The interception of the information flows of the involved assets of Ordo Hereticus and Adeptus Astartes showed that within approximately two months from the moment of calculation the object is not threatened with physical destruction. This is dictated by the bureaucratic standard and the passage of the mandatory stages of the investigation. Taking advantage of the time lag, our responsible executor reached an agreement that optimally balanced the interests of all parties involved. This allowed us to stabilize the situation and develop an expeditious seizure plan without demonstrating Adeptus Mechanicus' interest.

    "The probability that the object will eventually come into our full possession is negligible. The probability of the object's survival is determined to be zero point six-tenths of one percent for the next nine months."

    "This is a fact. The specified probability makes it irrational to deploy an independent operation on the extraction of the object. But it is enough to formalize such extraction as a side effect in the implementation of a set of higher-level measures. In the final node, all interaction will be reduced to a small fluctuation of probabilities within the framework of our regular cooperation with Ordo Malleus."

    "What kind of collaboration?"

    "The "Glass Cat" Project. Geller emitters need field testing. The probability of failure is zero point thirty-two hundredths percent.

    "What justifies your interest, Lexic Arcanus?" The Fabricator-Locum, who was watching how the priorities of the information flows were changing, inquired.

    "Our investigation included a study of the object's interaction with the cogitator deployed at the ballistic station. Objective evaluation required a comparison of interaction efficiency with the benchmark, i.e. protocols of regular operators. The delta was plus three hundred and six percent. This discrepancy was separately noted in the logs of the cogitator, as well as a direct indication of the spirit of the machine to prefer to work with the object, instead of the regular operator."

    "Given the origin, qualifications, and perspectives of the object, its impact is too insignificant to bring the issue to our level."

    "According to preliminary estimates, the study of interaction methods with the subsequent refinement of operational protocols will entail a two percent reduction in the average Forge's machine time costs. With a sustained useful result for the next three hundred years. In addition, the object is valuable as a witness to the era when the foundations of our ethics and faith were being established."

    "Has the object been oblation of by the Omnissia?"

    "An assertion or denial can be made only after the subject has been made available for full investigation with all necessary resources. Until a comprehensive investigation is completed, the allegation can only be accepted as a hypothesis."

    Fabricator-locum "remained silent", or rather refrained from appropriate influence on the flow of information, because Doturov's thesis was true. In fact, the decision had already been made, it was only necessary to detail the course of action.

    "The outlined plan has a significant amount of probabilistic operands. Who will start the implementation in the sector?"

    "I intend to supervise the operation personally. I request the permission of the High Lord of Terra and the Fabricator General of Forgeworld Mars to use the "Naglfar" type courier and temporarily reassign the XJ-9 Squadron of Basilicon Astra.

    If an ordinary person could perceive the information flows of the hexacode, he would estimate the form of Fabrikator-locum's reaction as a surprise.

    "In my lifetime, the Lexic Arcanus of the Parliament had not yet left Mars."

    "My last flight outside the Iron Ring was three thousand two hundred and sixty-one years ago. But the successful implementation of the proposed plan I consider significant enough to the purpose of the Omnissian cause to deprive the planet of my valuable presence for the time being."

    "Irony is the refuge of an insecure mind," said the General, aloud. And in parallel, or rather far ahead of the fluctuations of the air produced by the imperfect vocal apparatus, he summed up:

    "I authorize the implementation of the proposed plan."

    The Fabricator-General shook his head, indicating a nod, exactly as another protocol, originally designed to communicate with unworthy technolingua, prescribed. But after a vanishingly small digital moment, he still decided to clarify one question-the hexacode, like the noosphere, did not allow for lies, but the experienced mechanicum was able to operate on the priority of information process evaluation.

    "Lexic Arcanus of Parliament Doturov, do you have any other reason to be interested in taking the object?"

    "I have." he agreed. "It's less important to me than optimizing the current operator protocols."

    "The code to unlock the third "Naglfar"," the array of encrypted data was additionally protected by Doturov's crypto-key and transmitted along with the exact location of the ship in the Oort Cloud and the digital sigil of the High Lord of Terra. "In thirty minutes this area will be cleared during the exercise of the expeditionary legions."

    "Your junior Monitor tried to scan the conversation," said the "centaur", adding a touch of untranslatable digital humor to the remark.

    "Curiosity is a necessary quality for becoming a logis," Doturov replied. "I will decide on the necessity of his further existence after the completion of the project. Removing the blocking fields."
    Moments later, the Fabricator General disappeared. Of course, the lord of Mars was not about to waste time - eighty-three hours and eleven minutes - returning from orbit. He teleported straight from the Iron Ring, dealing with pressing matters while the elevator descended with fitting solemnity to the surface, laden with the gifts of Allied Terra. When the descent was complete, the Lord of Mars would move back to solemnly step onto the surface of the God-sanctified planet. Where the General had teleported from for this meeting and where he was headed now, Doturov did not know. It did not matter. The efficiency of the machine that controls thousands of Forges and Knight Worlds of the Galaxy did not depend on the physical location of its controlling mechanisms.

    Left without a master, the Crusaders synchronously changed formation and scattered across the complex. The ancient machines would be worthy opponents for the skitarians ready for the assault. Mars had always known how to keep a secret. An ancient instruction, preserved in the personal archive Doturov, said: "If the future is the emptiness of the happened, then the past must be made the same emptiness." When the brief exercise was over, the chosen warriors of Mars would become even more effective and deadly, and the electronics of the combat robots, which might contain fragments of the binary code of the meeting, would turn to molecular dust. The same fate, without exception, awaited all who, by their misfortune, found themselves within scanning range of servitors and inferior mechanicus. Alas, the virtue of information - its tendency to leave imprints on all aspects of the universe - sometimes proved to be an unfortunate disadvantage, justifying costly measures.

    The Fabricator-Locum quickly headed for the exit of the bunker, where an empty 'F' series transport capsule was waiting for him. Most likely also equipped with a passenger teleportation system - its speed did not allow it to leave the range fast enough.

    As for the young, ambitious Logis, who had only recently reached Monitor Malevolus status, Doturov already had quite definite plans for him.

    Preparing for departure, Lexic Arcanus turned to the memory bank, recalling all the collected images of the object. Using a small fraction of his mind's computing resources, he derived an average version. Then he compared it with the basic phenotypes of the Imperium population, seeking as an exercise for the mind to determine the changes that had befallen humanity along the paths of galactic wanderings. It didn't take long, and Doturov moved on to charting the engagement and adjusting the plan schedules of his current tasks.

    The operation of the divine machine of government once called the Martian colonial empire, could not depend on the state of one of its cogs.
    * * *​
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
  25. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    So,she could survive as robot.Better then other options.
     
  26. RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Looks like you are a very good informed optimist. But Kryptman has plans too.
     
  27. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    surviving as robot in WH40 working for Mechanicus - it is indeed very optymistic for average joe/or olga/ in WH40.Almost all get something worst.

    But,if Olga is lucky alive,you could save her in the end of all chapters using old pulpfiction trick - thanks to herculean strenght of Will,Olga survived.
     
  28. Threadmarks: The Squad Chapter 3
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 3
    * * *​
    The wagon with the big number '3' on the side was indeed a two-story carriage. The first level was devoted to a garage and a workshop. Bertha had gone somewhere on the way, muttering about some documents, so Olga was accompanied by an armored 'monk'.​

    The centerpiece of the garage was a monstrous machine, a monstrous, tank-like structure that came straight out of World War I. On the sides of the self-propelled coffin hung logs and some sacks, chained together, and a concrete mask seemed to have been put on its forehead. Probably for more protection. Above the disproportionately small and two-story turret protruded three antennas, coiled and tied into a bundle, so as not to touch the ceiling.​

    The steel box, painted a shabby army-swamp color, inspired reverence and, at the same time, light horror. It was the marks left on the armor plates by some unknown force. It was as if the car had not been shot at, but scratched and torn through the tough metal with even tougher claws. In some places, the steel was a bit 'leaking', as if the APC had been sprayed with very corrosive acid or heated until it lost its hardness. The tank looked like a tired veteran who had seen some crap in his long life. She didn't even want to look at the vehicle, let alone imagine herself inside.​

    The workshop looked more like an altar. All the tools were crudely engraved with ubiquitous skulls and gears. The workbench was barely visible under a layer of frayed, oil-and-dust-gray paper and seals of the post-office kind. It seemed as if people prayed here rather than worked and repaired. In a farther corner, some sinister tubes on valves protruded from the wall and were locked with barnacles. Under the downward-curved nozzles were cylinders piled in special boxes of welded fittings. And above it was a riveted brass plate with the inscription 'ACID/FIRE', below it was handwritten 'do not twist, you faithless wankers!' at least that was how Olga translated the crooked letters.​

    "Yours, instead of Smoker," the monk pointed to the cylinders. Or rather, one of the big carts next to it. The two-wheeled dinghies were about shoulder height and seemed solid, at least made of cast iron. Judging by the construction, each was designed to hold two tanks. The cylinders could be removed from the brackets or connected to something with corrugated hoses.​

    "That's it. There." The monk pointed to the spiral staircase and went sideways, rounding the tank.​

    "Aaah..." Olga squeaked, holding out her hand after him. The monk did not react at all. The girl was left alone.​

    She could have followed her escort. She could have stayed where she was and waited for something. Olga shrugged her shoulders and chose the third way - she decided to follow the instruction. After all, if she was in any danger, the bald fat man in the chain mail would not leave her alone. She thought, vindictively, that perhaps the big fart didn't want to climb the steep and narrow steps.​

    Between the first and second floor was another, what looked like a technical level, very low, with electrical circuits, pipes, and boxes. Here the red and yellow lights were flashing, and something was squeaking and clicking. Olga sat down on the warm metal and took a breath. A slight vibration indicated that the train was rolling forward, and apparently at a decent speed. Soft music could be heard from above, and soft and indecipherable speech could be heard. It was bright, and the warm air flowed in waves, pleasantly brushing a frozen face.​

    Olga rubbed her fingers again, gathering her thoughts, thinking about what to do next, how to introduce herself, how to "enter the hut". She could not think of anything in particular for lack of appropriate experience and knowledge, so she decided to act according to the circumstances and cautiously.​

    Thanks to the size of the train, the second (or rather, the third) floor seemed more like a ship's floor than a railway floor. Everything was spacious, iron, solid, with rivets and screws, which, perhaps, could not be unscrewed without a gas wrench. A large room played the role of a wardroom for all, and a narrow corridor stretched onward, with four-class compartments on either side.​

    Several people were sitting at the big table, almost all wearing the same clothes, like very roughly knit wool overalls. Above the table hung a radio or intercom balloon, which exuded soft music in the style of the forties. Olga was immediately reminded of her favorite Mel Gibson from 'What Women Think. The song with the hat and the wine. Something similar was playing.​
    The men drank the ubiquitous cognac with a flavor of cheap coffee under the idiotic name of 'amasek,' and played 'regicide. That is strange chess with no fixed rules and no limit on the number of participants. In a corner of the room a dark-skinned big man was kneeling, and on his broad shoulders hung like a cloak, a scarlet vest embroidered with small hand-lettered letters. The big guy was silently and methodically pounding his forehead against the metal wall, not hard, but palpably.​

    "Hello," Olga said softly, her fingers doing the usual eagle, and added just in case. " The Emperor will protect!"​

    "No," corrected one of the players, a long-haired, unjuvenated man with a face extremely expressive and yet wrinkled, like Iggy Pop, aged in a binge of alcohol and drug abuse. "Wrong. The Emperor will not protect."​

    "What?" the girl interrupted, not believing her ears. Maybe it's time to run screaming 'heresy!!!'​

    "The Emperor protects. Always," the hairy one explained admonishingly. "He is sovereign in the past and the future."​

    "The Emperor protects," Olga quickly corrected herself.​

    "That's right," he waved vaguely toward the corridor behind him. "That way. Make yourself comfortable in the empty spot. Dinner in three rings."​

    After thinking for a while, Olga decided that this must mean an invitation to take an empty place. The welcome was, to say the truth, not particularly warm, but on the other hand, it was better than some stupid traditional ritual of "residence permit". It was getting hot in the jacket, and drops of sweat appeared on the forehead.​

    A siren roared overboard, short and angry, like the signal of a warship on a maneuver. No one paid attention to the sound. Olga walked around the table with the players, stepped further, past the galley (or something that looked like a self-service galley) with a plastic sign screwed to the titanium and a sign that said Эstop, you'll crack!" Passed the bathroom with another inscription right on the door "bad shooter worse than a heretic!" Next were the parlor compartments, good-looking and almost as native, from RRR. There were no doors, but instead, there were heavy curtains made of the ubiquitous tarpaulin, which, judging by the ink stamps, were military.​

    Olga looked into a couple of compartments. In one she saw a short, gaunt man, looking like a white-haired elf with the face of an eternal crybaby wearing a long scarf. In another, a creepy freak with the badly shaved face of a psychopath or a war criminal was sleeping by the light of a battery of candles. Olga shook her head and went straight to the end of the carriage, reasoning that the farther away, the fewer neighbors there would probably be. And so it turned out, the last two sections were uninhabited, it seems, a long time ago, the surface had time to get pretty dusty. Olga chose the left one, where the only thing left of the previous occupant's belongings was a regicide board without pieces, perched on the edge of a plywood table. And also a small aquila, not very skillfully, but carefully hand-carved from a piece of soft plastic of light green color.​

    Olga was already wearing the symbol of the double-headed eagle around her neck, issued by the pris... ahem, a church ship. The metal stamping cut her skin with its sharp edges, and, twisting in her fingers the work of an unknown carver, the girl decided that this would probably be better. Just find a lace to hang it and ask if such a substitution violated any rule.​
    Olga threw her travel bag on the bottom rack, her hat, jacket, and scarf on the top rack, sat down, and leaned against the smooth wall with its rows of rivets. The metal gave off a slight chill, but it wasn't freezing. A very narrow window, a couple of palms wide at most, was locked by a powerful flap on three screw-locked latches.​

    Not even a ship, but a submarine of some kind... Or a battleship.

    Olga sat mindlessly staring at the board, enjoying a moment of peace. Everything was working out just fine. No one was bothering her, there was a place to rest, and dinner was promised. A little afraid of the faces of fellow travelers - they all seemed very strange, "non-standard" as if the same troupe took character actors from different sides of the world. But people did not seem dangerous or harmful. The future and unknown work were very frightening, but it was not so close yet.​

    In general, life did turn on its front to Olga, and it seems that this front was not a scrotum. But, of course, when a man is sure that everything is going well, some kind of trouble is bound to happen. For the Hostile Powers do not sleep.​

    For Olga the trouble materialized at first in shuffling footsteps, to which the girl paid no attention, overpowering her drowsiness as she waited for supper. The shuffling was approaching, revealing a man who was not too heavy, with a brisk stride, but who had a badly wobbly foot. And then the curtain creaked to the side on rings threaded through the bar, and a disgusted face strode into Olga's compartment.​

    In fact, this face would have seemed handsome if it had a nose. But there was no nose, so the result could have been photographed for an article on the classic symptoms of syphilis. In the eye sockets, with the lower eyelids turned inflamed whites and black pupils. The air hissed through his mangled sinuses, giving the impression of a large, wild animal breathing. The intruder was bald, and not from nature or a razor. Judging by the sores, his hair had gone out from some disease. Below the neck was a tattered brown cloak of bad leatherette; normal skin could not be so ugly as that.​

    Olga looked at the intruder with amazement. He rotated his eyes as if he could not focus his gaze on the girl.​

    "What do you want?" Olga asked bravely.​

    "Give your share," the leather cloak muttered, in a way that made the girl feel a little sorry for him for a moment. The lack of a nose was causing the poor man a lot of problems, including slurred speech.​

    "Take it out, lay it out, pay it off," the noseless man blurted out, grinning and making faces. "Hands in pockets, don't keep the goods, show it to the good inmates! It's a burden for a useless guest, but for a decent prisoner it's a joy and a pleasure!"​

    It was then that Olga realized that, apparently, she had been visited by some local superfly, not too respectable, but aggressive. It was so typical behavior as if it hadn't happened in thousands of years. The girl hesitated, painfully choosing words of a foreign language, and the guest interpreted the pause in his own way. He muttered something and with unexpected dexterity threw forward his skinny arm, for which the sleeve of his cloak was too short. A very painful flick on the very tip of Olga's nose followed.​

    Fuck off! - The girl cried out, pushing the hated hand, and jumped up, looking around in terror. Was it really a prison again? And all those men in the corners are "men" for real?

    So, Blatnye is the alphas, the men are in the middle. The untouchables are the bottom.​

    "You've got to be kidding me!" The convict wailed, turning himself on, hysterically opening his mouth with droplets of saliva in the corners of his cracked lips. It seemed as if in a moment the noseless man would grind his yellow-gray teeth like an overgrown wolf.​

    "You don't know what you're doing, you're a first-timer! You have no respect for the decent guys.! I'm not a fool, I'm a Savlar, I've sewn up a Grox's ears to arbiters, stomped out the red moon, passed the green one, ran away from the red one! I'll...​

    In fact, he said all this in a slightly different way, in other words, but the general tone and scraps of words that Olga could understand were forming a familiar and understandable pattern from her childhood. He was a flamboyant, a bit of a dabbling kid, who had memorized the right words and had learned how to arrange them in a virtuoso way appropriate to the moment. But something in the fiery and twitchy tirade of the 'Savlar' seemed wrong to Olga, a little unnatural.​

    Eyes... A man in or near hysteria has a rather peculiar look that cannot be confused with anything else. And the pupils of the noseless prisoner seemed almost normal, not corresponding to the aggressive hysteria that was about to burst into a violent outburst. However, the thought flashed at the back of the mind and disappeared, the mind did not appreciate it and did not even remember it properly. Because Olga was possessed by a single desire.​

    So that it would finally be over. Any way it wants, but it's over.​

    And then lie down, at last, close the eyes, forget about everything. And the hell with dinner 'in three rings,' whatever that meant.​

    She looked into the Savlar's face, concentrating on the wet gap between his upper lip and the bridge of his nose, on the translucent drop that trembled in time with her breath, ready to tear​
    down.​

    "We'll fix that," said the girl, keeping her eyes on the drop.​

    "A-a-a... what?" Asked the inmate stupidly.​

    "We'll fix it in a moment! - Olga put her right palm forward as if to slow down the Savlar's already deflated pressure. She no longer cared what she had to say, any word seemed very funny and appropriate. And the noseless man seemed to be setting himself up for one well-thought-out scenario, but as soon as things went wrong, the outlaw was confused, not knowing what to do next.​

    From the outside, it looked... unusual, in a way that would have left the casual onlookers dumbfounded. The short and retarded girl, who looked like a confused chicken thanks to the yellowish fluff on her haircut (though of course, only natives of agrarian planets could appreciate this resemblance) suddenly with a wild, animal scream slammed the regicide board in the face of an intruder. She was so violent that colored plastic stickers indicating playing squares were sprayed with blood.​

    The girl had never been heavy, and now she had, well, maybe fifty kilograms. Nor was she particularly strong. She had the not right constitution, and Olga had not acquired the habit of exercise. On the other hand, her opponent, too, was quite subtle, just taller, and the board was quite solid. The result was pleasing to the eye, at least to Olga's eyes. The convict squealed in pain and surprise, recoiled, shielding his arms, but it was too late. Olga was already clawing at him, not like a chicken, but like a skinny cat. Her sharp teeth, still unspoiled by the excess of sweets and Coke and the rations of the Inquisition and the Ecclesiarchy, clacked at the Savlar's eyes. The girl mechanically tried to bite his nose, making no correction for his absence.​

    "Aaaaah!!! Take the psycho away!" The savlarian shrieked, trying to hold back the distraught Olga, who was intent on nibbling at his face.​

    "It's too much," one of the new colleagues reasoned aloud. "It's time to pull them apart."​

    "She's going to maim him!" Another voice, much more concerned, answered.​

    For Olga, the world was reduced to the size of a tiny tunnel about the diameter of a drainpipe, at the end of which the hated face of the Savlar was red and yellowing. Only at that moment girl saw there a very different face with very distinctive and familiar features. The 'brother-in-law' was also a felon and liked to "ask for the stuff" and everything. Olga firmly remembered his gaze, the disgusting watery eyes that always had a nasty grin in them. A disgusting sense of superiority, an obvious "you won't tell anyone"! The same look as the fidgety jerk with the ulcerous bald spot.​

    "Hey, break them up!"​

    The savlerian managed to squeeze his eyes shut, or the distraught foe would have torn them out. The short-cut fingernails scratched his eyelids, leaving deep abrasions. The convict's wild howl melded with the freshman's uterine growl. Then a violent blow under her ribs lifted her into the air and tossed her aside. Something angular, cold, and hard struck beneath her shoulder blade, finally knocking out her spirit. Olga shook her legs, feeling only pain and a heavy thought:​

    Again... Again I am beaten... when will it all end...

    "You can't be left unattended for even a few minutes," said a familiar voice somewhere far and high up.​

    In a few convulsive sighs, Olga managed to get her breath back and even look around. It took her a few seconds to recognize Big Bertha in the broad figure that hovered under the fluorescent lamp. The bodybuilder looked ominous, her ugly and large face not promising anything good. Savlar crouched at his mentor's feet, crying loudly and tearfully. Bitter tears mingled with pink streaks.​

    "Again?" the Mentor only asked, looking down at the convict. He curled up, even more, wailing more pitifully, but his sincere grief didn't seem to resonate in Bertha's soul.​

    "He... started..." Olga exhaled in two breaths. She had no desire whatsoever to cover for the legless bastard. And she stops caring about such bullshit like "real [insert as appropriate] don't snitch" a long time ago.​

    "The Savlar wanted to test the new girl," the man, who looked like an Indian in a wide-brimmed hat, suddenly entered the conversation. His shoulder-length hair was divided into many strands by silver beads, and his skin was an earthy brick color. As if the "Indian" was not enough of a hat, he had a ribbed helmet around his neck, like a tank helmet, with wires from a laryngophone.​

    "But he gets too much."​

    "I've told you so many times, you degenerate prisoner," said Bertha, pulling back her right foot in a heavy shoe that looked like a cross between a soccer boot and a mountaineer's shoe. 'Don't drag your old habits into a place of worship."​

    Apparently, the short tirade did not imply response, being purely rhetorical, one might say admonitory. For the next half a minute or so, Olga tried somehow to collect herself and get up, while her mentor kicked Savla's with both feet. Without the classic top-down jumps right onto the body, but competently, quickly, and brutally. Just enough to cause maximum pain without injury. It looked impressive, Olga even admired it. Until the Mentor turned her attention to her.​

    Bertha lifted the frail newbie with one hand, like a kitten by the scruff of the neck, before shoving her face into a puddle of her own. She gave a second slap, quite relaxed and clearly at quarter strength, but Olga felt her teeth falter.​

    "All novices in the Order of the Purifficators undergo the test of faith," Bertha said in a dull voice, shaking Olga. "They all stand in constant readiness to sacrifice their lives for the Emperor and Humanity. What is the meaning of this?"​

    The iron fingers loosened, and Olga sank to the floor. She rested her palms on the floor, feeling the stiff nap of the rug and unable to get up. Bertha, meanwhile, looked around the gathered members of the squad with a very heavy and unpleasant look that none of the novices dared to meet directly.​

    "It follows that it is unacceptable to introduce into the daily life of the Squad strange, malignant, and ungodly habits that deprive its members of the beacon of faith."​

    Bertha did not give the impression of someone with a flair for oratory, so the woman was probably quoting some statute.​

    "Simply said, you can only die in service. And you are supposed to fight against His enemies. He who starts swinging fists isn't just breaking regulations. He is challenging the very essence of our service. And therefore, he sows the seed of heresy."​

    Bertha paused for a long moment, giving everyone time to absorb. Judging by the silence, everyone had been touched.​

    "So is the one who indulges in an unworthy act."​

    Another kick drove Savlar under the bottom rack.
    "All week long you've been cleaning the tambours, shoveling snow and ice, filling all the cylinders," Bertha sentenced the convict. "And if it happens again, I'll make you drink a glass of water from the cooling circuit."​

    The noseless man muttered something unintelligible, but, judging by his tone, extremely agreeable. Despite the rumble in her ears and wobbly teeth, Olga thought that prison concepts in the distant future were somewhat unstable. Or the Order knows how to drive even the "bluest" person into life by the "red" law.
    "Tomorrow night we train on the roof," the bodybuilder sentenced the others in utter silence. "Because St. Clarence would cry when he saw his children."​

    No one dared to challenge the punishment.​

    "And you..." Berta's fat finger pointed at the girl.​

    "I am," Olga grimaced in pain but thought it best to somehow signal her involvement in the process of communication. Judging by the faces of her colleagues and the silence - "heresy" was not to be messed with even a quarter of a fingernail.​

    Fucking cellmates... you fucking jailbirds, goddamn it.

    "In the case of an act of hazing, you should go immediately to a superior," Bertha quoted again. "That he resolves the conflict and determines the appropriate punishment for each. Anyone who engages in self-inflicted abuse defies the rules, hence the Ecclesiarchy itself, body and spirit of the Ecclesiarchy."​

    Olga became quite sad, mainly because she did not know how to behave next. Whether to fall at her feet, begging for forgiveness, or silently imitate universal repentance. Bertha glared angrily at the newbie subject, and then, at last, she took pity.​

    "But you're still at the beginning of your path, so the punishment for the first time will be moderately severe," Bertha finally showed mercy. "You'll clean out the hangar."​
    The mop was too long and heavy, the bucket was small, the water was scalding cold, the ribs hurt, and the fingers ached. The hangar with the tank seemed enormous. But the girl thought she got off easy. Just a couple of slaps in the teeth. Just a sleepless night with a floor rag. Slushy mud mixed with oil and some other chemical crap.​

    Just...​

    I wish you were dead, Olga asked the universe once again. She especially wanted Kryp to die, preferably of cancer and AIDS at the same time.​

    "Are you a new one?"​

    It sounded with an emphasis on "you".​

    "Well, I am," Olga said unfriendly, looking at another new face. She looked and straightened up.​

    All the people she met on the infernal train were of a respectable age. Only Savlar seemed younger than the others, but his ugliness immediately added another dozen years to his age. And now a young man stood before Olga, young and fabulously, unbelievably handsome.​

    In the world of a distant and by no means happy future, the girl met many people, but among them, there were surprisingly few who could be called handsome. No, they were not ugly (at least, most of them were not), it was just that these faces did not fit into the usual canon for Olga. A slightly different ratio of features, long or short noses, frog-like eyes... All of this created a lingering sense of something strange, wrong, and as a consequence, ugly. And this guy was... perfect. As if he'd come off the pages of the Catholic priests' annual calendar.​

    Perfect and very young, tall, thin, but not scrawny, with brown hair trimmed just below the ears. It might have seemed overly feminine, especially with such a pretty face, but somehow it didn't. Even the tattoo of the Latin letter 'I' on his forehead did not spoil the young man. However, under the circumstances, Olga's attention was attracted not only by the semi-divine beauty of the young man but also by the bowl in his hands.​

    "Take it."​

    Like an angel who appeared to the tormented sufferer in answer to her pleas, the handsome brown-haired man handed the girl a bowl of something that looked like porridge. A spoon, wooden for some reason, but with an inventory number and a ubiquitous aquila, was stuck in the thick, cereal-like slurry.​

    "Shank you," Olga thanked, working her jaws furiously, because first the spoon jumped into her mouth and filled it with hot and spicy food, and then the sufferer realized how hungry she was and how grateful she was to her unexpected benefactor.​

    In spite of its disgusting appearance, the mess was very tasty. Most of all, the food resembled a thick soup with a very greasy broth and mashed potatoes. It was probably the tastiest thing Olga had ever tasted. Although she could not say that she had such a wide choice.​

    "Thank you," she repeated, just in case, after the first third. Even though she had learned the basic 'Gothic' quite well (Thank God. The basics of ancient Earth languages were more or less intuitive, it made the process easier), she still had problems with pronunciation, and she wanted the guy to appreciate the gratitude.​

    "You are welcome," he said and smiled.​

    He smiled very well, kindly somehow. With surprising sincerity, as if a bowl of munchies for a stranger had endowed the benefactor with complete happiness. It was the sincerest smile Olga had ever seen since she had been here, and the girl automatically snarled, following an old rule and a tried-and-true principle. If one holds out an open hand, one holds a stone in the other. And the handsome man was now more likely to inspire suspicion. Too pretty, too sweet. The syphilitic Savlar, the mangy BiBe, and the other faces in the cockpit were all in their proper places, appropriate to their surroundings and the infernal locomotive. Even the elf with the scarf and the eyes of the unfortunate rabbit. This cover boy was not.​

    She turned as if to protect the bowl, working the spoon even faster, squinting at the guy.​

    "You're Olla, I've heard about you," he said as if he hadn't noticed the change in the girl's attitude.​

    Olga only sighed, trying not to choke on her soup. She had already realized that no one here was going to pronounce her name correctly. And that was another point in the list of grievances against Kryp, alas, seemingly useless, in principle unrevenged. And it was at his suggestion that Olga was recorded in the interrogation documents as "Ollha" and was not going to change it.​
    Still, she didn't want to be a pig to the end. After all, the sweet, handsome man had brought her something to eat, and that was worth something. So far he'd treated her better than anyone else aboard the rumbling mad train.​

    "Yes, that's me. What's your name?" she asked between two spoons.​

    "Demetrius," the young man said, embarrassed for some reason. His cheeks were marked by cute dimples, and his face was flushed, the kind of blush you can't put on with regular makeup, the kind you'd have to be born with.​

    The name said nothing to Olga, so she shrugged and, scraping the tin bottom with a wooden spoon, answered simply:​

    "Well, nice to meet you..."​

    Well, not only you can distort the names.

    "...Demetrij"​
    * * *​
    Demetrius it's kind of a guest character. There is a lot of content about him. There.
     
  29. Threadmarks: The Squad Chapter 4
    RiP

    RiP Seeker of Silence

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    Chapter 4
    * * *​
    Olga dreamt something beautiful, amazingly wonderful. There was warm sunshine, summer, lots of greenery, and an ineffable sense of peace. Everything bad was gone, left somewhere unimaginably far away, and everything good...​

    And then the siren screamed again. As it turned out, the matte ceiling of the 'compartment' was not just a piece of plastic, but also a light panel, now it pulsed with a purple light in the rhythm of the sound signals. This was something the girl had never heard before. It was not the usual steam train horn that she was used to hearing, but a mechanical howl that simultaneously announced the arrival of atomic war, the fall of the asteroid, and the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. The heartbreaking sound twisted in the joints with a vicious vibration, resonating in every nerve. Olga jumped up on the bed with a shriek, banged her head on the top shelf, and fell on the old rug.​

    From the sounds of it, the whole huge wagon was in a feverish movement. The tarpaulin canopy moved to the side, creaking on the aluminum rings, and the face of the neighbor, the one who looked like a war criminal, stuck out into Olga's seat.​

    "Get up!!!" wailed the freak nicknamed the Wrecker, the other squad's spray gunner.​

    And desapier.​

    "Damn it," Olga whispered, realizing that she understood nothing. However, her body was already acting on its own, obeying the knowledge imparted during the past week by Big Bertha.​

    Stand up.​

    To bless yourself with an aquila.​

    Ask the Emperor loudly for his blessing.​

    (at the same time, to think once again that the entire Empire is irreversibly touched by the collective mind of trillions of people because even the local god is some kind of mummy, but god forbid to say that kind of thing out loud)​

    And down to the gear and the armored vehicle.​

    Red lights were flashing all over the carriage, sirens were wailing, squadmates were rushing around. Olga bumped into everything and everyone. And then the situation suddenly settled down, that is, going from one aggregate state to another. The girl found herself together with the rest of the squad in the passenger compartment of a cubic tank, almost embracing a cylinder on a cart.​

    The wool pants and a knee-length diving vest, twisted in two layers, were drenched with sweat. The heavy, oversized rubberized overalls hung over the skinny body like a parachute rolled up in several layers. The gas mask around the neck stank of Chinese plastic, the cylinder defiantly showed rusty residue on the side, looked damn heavy, and damn unreliable. Above the hatch that led to the cockpit of the driver hung a plate with screws screwed on it, with an inscription that Olga could only half-heartedly translate as "Fuck evil" One corner of the sign was stained with dried splashes of a suspicious red-brown liquid.​

    The vehicle shook once, then twice. After a few moments, the shaking became a steady process. The deathly wail of the siren receded, began to fade behind the armor plates. With one hand the girl grasped the leather band that acted as a seat belt. With the other, she grabbed hold of the cylinder wagon until it began to toss all over the compartment.​

    Big Bertha was shouting something into a loudspeaker that looked like a singing microphone. But the noise of the engine and the rattle of the metal inside the tank muffled the words. Olga had a laryngophone loop with headphones hanging around her neck, over her gas mask belt, but she had completely forgotten how to use it. So her ears picked up only scraps of hurried phrases, something about some "rupture", "vysshurov" and "mutats".​

    "This is going to end badly," thought Olga grimly, grasping the safety strap tighter. It was hot and scary.​

    Training in the Squad was staged like everything else in the world of the forty-thousand-year-old future. That means not in a human way, but according to an alternative logic. Olga was expecting something akin to 'boot camp' with notes, memorization of staff schedules, and so on. However, no one was in a hurry to enlighten her about the Squad and it seemed that Mentor Bertha, as well as the fatheaded monk, had little idea what to do with the new girl at all. The training was a joint effort of the entire wagon team and was limited to practice. Olga has learned to remove and put on a chemical protective coverall and to use a gas mask very much like the Soviet classic gas mask but with a panoramic window instead of two round corners. I mastered the art of handling a gas cylinder and a trolley. Learned the names and job descriptions of the other staff members. And... that was it. Except that the girl finally ate more or less acceptable food and had a decent night's sleep.​

    Olga was afraid to ask about anything, deciding to postpone it for later. During her daily prayers, she diligently played the part of a true believer, not forgetting to shout loudly about how the Emperor would protect everyone, frantically wishing death to the mysterious xenos and the more understandable heretics. She tried to listen attentively and speak as little as possible. Step by step, word by word, she built a picture of the world in which she found herself.​

    The planet where the Squad settled had no name of its own, only a long series of letters and unofficial but quite common nicknames for the colonists - "Beacon" or "Ice Port". As far as the girl understood, originally "Beacon" had no value meaning, the only continent was a snow-covered tundra, and the giant ocean could only provide plankton. There were no minerals here, agriculture was hopeless.​

    But the dying star system itself turned out to be extremely important. For some unknown reason, it was convenient to set up a comprehensive navigation center here, serving an entire 'sector' (whatever that means). The "Ice Port" was beloved by "navigators", "Imperial Tarot readers" and some kind of "astropaths", who were mentioned, necessarily making a gesture of protection against the evil.​

    Although most of the beacons and certain "towers" were placed into orbit and asteroids, much of the infrastructure was deployed directly on the planet, concentrated around a large spaceport. People on 'Beacon' became numerous, and for some reason, there was some work for the Squad.​

    The Squad itself was a sort of order under the Imperial Church, but with a distinctly militarized bias. The Squad included two regiments, one servicing orbital facilities, the other planetary. The regiment was divided into separate battalions, each battalion being quite an independent unit assigned to some sort of "bunker". No one seemed to know how many battalions and bunkers there were in the regiment, but logic and Olga's battalion number - "12"- suggested that there were definitely a dozen.​

    The most interesting and practically important for Olga began further, at the company level. Each company had at its disposal a separate armored train with a nuclear engine, running along a given route. All this was called strictly peaceful - road repair work, maintenance, and so on. However, the girl was firmly confused by the clause about "sanitary and epidemic purification", and by the fact that the company's units were armed with armored vehicles, automatic weapons, and real flamethrowers. Whatever the "purificators" were doing, it seemed that "something" could fight back.​

    And, Lord have mercy, it seems now Olga was about to see what (or who) was being "purificated" by the Squad.​

    The armored vehicle rushed forward, galloping across the tundra-like a multi-ton deer. The heavy vehicle, by all appearances, was capable of good speed. Olga, being the staff carrier of the spare cylinder for the flamethrower-one, did not know whether to scream in terror beforehand or to relax and enjoy the minutes before it began. Bertha kept her gaze on the girl, pressing her thin, pale lips into a barely visible string. Only now Olga noticed that her mentor, the company and wagon commander, wore small earrings with transparent stones in her ears. In general, the mighty aunt might have seemed even pretty, if it were not for the malicious look, the shoulders, the size of which would be the envy of another beefcake, and a huge gun, the size more appropriate to the giants on Ballistic.​

    "We're coming up!" the staff shepherd shouted from the turret. The same monk who kept his plastic chain mail on. In the tank, he played the role of machine gunner, and outside, in addition to the priesthood, he wielded a chemical sprinkler.​

    The tank drove smoother. Olga checked the gas mask hose and the ribbed filter cylinder, everything was in place. The flamethrower, behind whom the girl had to drag the spare cylinder, a bitterly unjuvenile and short man with an elf face was crying, nervously adjusting the scarf wrapped around his skinny neck at least a dozen times. Looking at his tears, Olga thought that the crying flamethrower was a complete mess, perhaps worse than a fleeing general. She felt like bursting into tears herself. Only Bertha's serpentine, unblinking gaze stopped her.​

    Flamethrower Two, a.k.a. Sinner, was embroidering some symbol or short saying on his red reflective vest. There were already several hundred of them on the rag, and none of them seemed to be repeated. Noticing the newcomer's gaze on him, the seamstress responded with a straight look and a sudden wink with a benevolent smile. Of all the squadmates Sinner was the one Olga liked the most, and in addition (except Demetrius) was quite in line with her idea of male attractiveness. He resembled an Ethiopian, with unusually expressive features and a tattoo of Ecclesiarchy across his forehead, he was not handsome in the usual sense, but extremely masculine.​

    The imagination immediately wanted to send the Sinner somewhere in the desert, with a burkus, a camel, and a musket, to fight against European colonizers, to exact blood feuds, romantically kidnap European beauties, and the like. Also, the second flamethrower was always silent. As the Holy Man once put it, the Sinner was quite capable of speech but considered himself unworthy to defile with words the universe where God the Emperor had once spoken.​

    The compartment smelled of gasoline and tobacco (though was it tobacco?) of the Smoker. The former balloonist (whose place had now been taken by Olga), now a gunner, smoked a short, opium-looking pipe. The Smoker kept his mouth open at all times, his eyebrows raised, his forehead furrowed. This made his face look like the face of a rodent, with all its lines converging on a single point on the tip of his nose. Even huge glasses with thick lenses of yellow glass could not disturb the impression of general "mousiness".​

    The tank goes faster, turning on the siren. Bertha said something quickly into the microphone of her headset. The weeping elf sobbed even more bitterly. Olga stared at the iron ceiling, so as not to see the faces of the other colleagues and not to think about the fact that very soon... what exactly was going to happen, she did not know, but she reasonably assumed that nothing good was going to happen.​

    As if by order, in the rhythm of her unhappy thoughts, the temperature inside the car began to drop. Olga rubbed her eyes just in case, thinking that perhaps the tears clouded her vision, but no, she did not imagine it. Her breath condensed in the yellow light in clouds of steam, and the corners of the compartment froze over. Frost began to bite through the seams of her jumpsuit, the sweat of her woolen underwear hanging heavy on her body as a cold compress. At the same time, the engine was still howling, and the heat radiators under the iron benches continued to exude waves of heat.​

    The balloonist became very, very scared. In difficult and dangerous circumstances it is human nature to look for the guilty party. It was easier for Olga in this respect, she knew exactly who was to blame and to whom she owed her participation in dubious activities with flamethrowers and acid.​

    Damn Kryp, I hate you, you'd better be dead out there all by yourself.

    The red light above the side sliding panel that replaced the usual transporter hatch lit up. The Mentor was distracted for a moment, and when she looked at her mentee again, she found her staring at Bertha in turn.​

    "Deceived," Olga suddenly spoke out.​

    The vehicle was wildly noisy, the soundproofing had fallen into disrepair long ago, but communication was through the radio and laryngophones, so everyone could hear the new girl.​

    "What?" asked Berta, reflexively, almost like an ordinary person, not a Mentor.​

    "He fooled me," the girl repeated, dull and expressionless, wrapping herself in the sizeless jumpsuit like a warm cloak. The rubberized fabric creaked and creased with difficulty. "Savlar" laughed vilely, snorting and dropping slime with a hole instead of his nose. He stopped, catching Bertha's very grim look.​

    "It happens," the Priest said as smoothly and evenly as he did, crossing himself with an aquila. "Everyone is deceived by someone. Only the Emperor is perfect, was and will be, blessing the galaxy with himself and through himself."​

    Bertha sighed, feeling the hot air filtered through her respirator. The "Priest" stood up, grasping securely the handrail that ran the full length of the compartment under the low ceiling. He yelled loudly:​

    "Come on, brothers, let's fuck the evil's ass!"​

    "Fuck the Evil!!!" A chorus of ten gulps came back in more or less unison. Only Olla seemed to remain silent. Oh, and "Crybaby", who was clutching the sprayer with both hands, so that the tears were already rolling down his face in generous streams. It got cold in the car, despite the midday heat and the running engine. Her mentor saw the frost gather in the corners in a whitish film, and shuddered to think what lay ahead of them. If the manifestation is so clear and strong, then the real trouble lies ahead. And BaneWolf, with his blessed acid cannon, the last argument for the worst-case scenario, is gone...​

    "Put on the respirators!" commanded Bertha. "A closed cycle!​

    A red light blinked, the transporter slowed down, jerked, turning around on the spot and backing up.​

    "Let's work."​

    Olla got tangled up in the gas mask gear again, and the "Wretched Man" unexpectedly helped her untangle the corrugated hose, properly buckled the strap, grabbing the absorbent cylinder in the right pocket so it wouldn't fall out. The girl hesitated, pulling on the gas mask, but managed it. Then the armored vehicle shuddered, swayed on its worn shock absorbers, and finally froze. The sliding panel slid aside, and there was no more time for idle reflection.​

    * * *​

    The "I don't understand anything!" state had become customary, but today Olga could honestly say that she did not understand much more than usual. Everything promised horrors soon, an encounter with the unknown, a bloody hell of asshole sodomy, and for someone to leave with incredible music.​

    And... nothing happened.​

    The squad unloaded from the tank (by the way, it was called quite earthly - "Chimera"), being in full readiness to cause destruction and arson. Olga managed not to fall, not to get under anyone's feet, to roll out the cart with the canister, and even to follow Crybaby, not too far behind. The little elf seemed to be as strong as a dwarf because he effortlessly rolled a bulky flamethrower that looked like a cannon from "Aliens" with a manipulator for extra support.​

    The familiar landscape stretched all around, only there was less of the usual tundra and more buildings. The atomic armored train went from the sparsely populated industrial periphery to places more urban. Here there were roads with fairly normal asphalt, and buildings that looked like typical apartment buildings only twice as high. All this resembled a district center, but a big one. The streets looked as if they were dead, with only flashing five-color traffic lights. And there were people here, Olga could see frightened shadows flickering in the windows, there just wasn't a single soul on the streets. Were they afraid? What were they afraid of? It was all a mystery...​

    The lack of actual life in the district center was more than compensated for by the outside activity. Now and then, with the roar of engines and sirens, another vehicle arrived, from huge buses to futuristic-looking trucks. The neighborhood was filled with police officers, stormtroopers, and scientific people with numerous devices. It was all living its own bustling life, bustling and seemingly oblivious to the Squad. Amid the tactical carnival, the fierce flamethrowers were transformed into mere ragamuffins in a decrepit tank, with poor and outdated equipment.​

    Is that all?'

    Olga perceptibly cheered up and thought that perhaps everything was not so terrible as she had imagined. At least not today.​

    "I don't get it..."​

    The priest scratched his broad nose, moved the thrower to an upright position, securing the bracket. The heavy thing tilted the monk on his right side, the yellow cylinder behind his back glowing menacingly with the emblem of chemical danger. Arbitres respectfully avoided the big man in the chain mail - out of respect for his rank, but also because "chemists" were considered even crazier, more dangerous, and more responsible than the operators of the sanitary flamethrowers.​

    "I don't get it," repeated the Priest. "For the ninth time in a row."​

    "Yes..." Bertha took off her respirator, letting the mask hanging from her belt. The cold air bit her chin and lips.​

    "What's going on," the monk didn't ask, judging by his tone, but rather asked a rhetorical question. "One false alarm after another."​

    Bertha shrugged her broad shoulders as far as the weight of the combi shotgun allowed.​

    "It's as if all that shit has been chewed up by staff from the ocean..." The monk didn't finish, for fear of mentioning the unholy out loud.​

    "We'll be out of business, this way." Bertha made a light-hearted joke.​

    A Verispex Adept, in his massive armor like a two-legged crab, with his detector bars protruding in all directions, quickly approached the squadmates. Behind the Adept flew a servoskull, connected to its master by a long cable. The skull spread its long spider-like legs and jerked them as if it wanted to catch the icy wind.​

    "Excuse me, sirs," the Verispex Adept said in a businesslike manner. "We are very... embarrassing. It seems to be a mistake again."​

    "Zero activity?" Bertha clarified.​

    "Alas, yes."​

    "It seemed as if they were dragging the shit straight to the host..." The Priest was speaking in circumlocution again, but his interlocutors understood him well.​

    "It was so much that our seer went mad," the adept said confidentially, bowing his head.​

    "Is that all?" Berta couldn't resist asking.​

    "That's all," Verispeks looked gloomy, as befits a responsible employee, who will now report to all the instances for at least a week.​

    "Okay," sighed the Mentor, "then give us a mark that the call is processed."​

    "I'll attach a request for a 24-hour stoppage of Radial-12," the adept clarified. "Maybe we'll find something else. Though it's unlikely, of course..."​

    "Whatever you say," Bertha agreed. "That's up to the Commandant, not our question."​

    "Bring your papers," summed up the adept sadly. "We'll describe it."​

    The Priest looked silently at Bertha, and the mentor nodded just as silently and subtly.​

    "Get in the car! We are waiting!" the monk shouted loudly and then added more quietly. "No need to freeze your ass..."​

    * * *​

    The train stood on the outskirts of the 'district center. The cold wind howled shrilly behind the thick boards, tried to shake the huge structure, chalking white snow on the tracks. Olga, who got out of the hot shower, wrapped a towel around her head, more out of habit - the short bristles of her growing hair did not require much drying. She could have opened the armor flap and looked at what was going on overboard, but the girl already knew that. Just the bustle, the organized chaos, the spotlight, the flying machines that landed minute by minute, falling from the inky skies. All in all, nothing interesting.​

    Olga sat up, adjusted her drawstring pants and her shirt, which looked like a two-ply tank top, all clean and warm. The used clothes spun under Madman's care the floor below in the tricky washing machine, which cleaned without water. Demetrius chanted prayers, Savlar occasionally recited the "emperor's blood", trying to cook in the galley "proper munchies for convicts", the normal food rations the legless tried not to eat, because "not by rank to stoop to the government food". Olga was tempted to point out to Savlar that he is serving a sentence on the general, and it is not the nature of a real, smooth convict. But the girl subdued the urges, not wanting to inflame​

    "Evening in the house, fire in the fireplace, the Emperor in the heart."​

    The Priest was delicate; he tapped his knuckles on the wall first, and then he threw back the curtain. Olga jumped up from the shelf in a disciplined manner, bracingly folded her fingers in a tiresome aquila, and reported:​

    "The Emperor protects!"​

    "Protects, protects," the monk moved a shovel-shaped palm with calluses that looked like horny patches. "Sit down, girl."​

    Olga even more diligently bulged her eyes in a loyal grimace, expecting a trick.​

    "Sit down," the Priest, with obvious displeasure in his voice, no longer asked, but ordered.​

    Olga flopped back down without breaking her fingers, keeping the expression of fiery and fanatical idiocy on her face.​

    "Don't do that either," the Priest grumbled irritably, thought for a moment, and then said. "At ease!"​

    Olga relaxed a little, cringing in anticipation of bad things to come.​

    The monk sighed, glinting his small eyes under the gray bushy eyebrows. With a mechanical, familiar motion, he smoothed the skull on his belt chain, polished to a lustrous shine by thousands of such touches. He unhooked a frayed book in a wooden cover with a clasp, put the weighty volume on the table.​

    "That's good, that's right," the monk's finger pointed at the homemade aquila around Olga's neck. "It was made by a worthy man with true faith in a good heart. It's a well-worn thing."​

    The girl swallowed, trying to figure out what this tricky test was and how she should behave.​

    "Do you know what the main trouble of a shepherd is?" The uninvited guest suddenly asked, putting his palm on the cover of his bible.​

    "I don't know!" The girl reported back.​

    "Idiots," the monk reported. "Idiots who emasculate the ritual and the spirit of His words. Cruel punishers, ready to burn for... anything."​

    "Excuse me, sir... Priest, I don't understand!"​

    Olga stared diligently at the wall, avoiding the intelligent gaze of the minister of the cult. The girl was aware that in matters of faith she always walks on the edge, and any careless word can send her to the other world. And from her adventures on the Ballistic Station Olga suspected that here "the other world" was not a metaphor.​

    "Faith is in your words, on your tongue," said the Priest in a low voice. "But it is not in your heart, so your speeches are loud but empty, like a well that has run dry."​

    He paused, looking intently at Olga. The girl suddenly felt hot and gripped the plastic aquila tightly with both fists. Not that Olga believed in the miraculous power and support of the symbol, but she needed to keep her hands busy in order to hide her trembling fingers. The monk noticed the gesture and nodded slightly, as if approving.​

    "You're trying to play pious through ritual. It's not bad, not bad, let's face it. But still not enough."​

    Damn it, Olga thought to herself, feeling a cold trickle of sweat run down her spine.​

    "W-what?"​

    "My child," the monk said constructively. "Don't be afraid. If I smelled anything unholy or heretical in you, even the size and weight of a snowflake, you'd have been blown overboard as hot ash. But all I see is a lack of faith that comes from ignorance. And ignorance is not the vice of man, but his shepherd."​

    The monk flicked open the cover of his book. With both hands, he touched the first page, like a blind one. On the thick yellowish paper was a black image of a tall man dressed in a suit of armor and huge shoulder pads, already familiar to Olga. The knight clutched a hammer in one hand and raised the other above his head with a clenched fist. The Priest's face lit up from within with reverence, sincere, without a trace of pretension.​

    "You were taught by bad shepherds," the monk reported. "They needed blind faith, strict ritual. Well, there's a place for that in the Imperium, too. Not here, however. Not under the sacred flag of the color of the blood of the righteous. Why do you think that is?"​

    Olga swallowed, squeezing the green eagle even tighter. The Priest waited.​

    "I don't know," the girl whispered, feeling like she was putting her own life on the line.​

    "If you were to begin speaking without content, without faith, it would be your last words," the monk said simply and mundanely. "But you've admitted that your soul is an open book with blank pages. And that is good. The path to light begins with the awareness of darkness."​

    Oh, god... Fuck...

    "You're in the Squad now, child," the Priest said softly. "Our work is deadly to the body, but there's a far greater danger hanging over the souls of the purifiers. That's why I'm here, among the small ones. That's why I don't shout 'heresy' for any reason, but temper the souls of my flock with understanding. The time will come... and it will come, believe me, when hostile forces will attack your being, try to steal the essence of your humanity. And when that happens, only true faith, based on rigorous knowledge, will protect you. Do you understand?"​

    Olga nodded slowly, cautiously, as if wishing to reserve for herself the opportunity to take back the gesture, to refuse it, to declare that it was just a movement without meaning or reason. The monk smiled a miserly, restrained smile, carefully wiped his palms on the sleeves of his cassock, reverently, without a bit of pretense, turned the page, uttering:​

    He is the Emperor and God, both a creature and a supernatural being. Therefore, our Lord is truly perfect and is above every substance on this side and the other side of the universe.​
    Olga expected to see a new picture according to what she had heard. With some divine content, but she was categorically mistaken. There was a diagram on both sides of the page, covering the entire spread. Stylized as a wide temple with a domed roof, filled with numerous and incomprehensible figures-symbols, but nevertheless, quite a clear scheme with squares and inscriptions. Olga understood something about "custodes" and "munistorum".​

    "Preaching should fill the souls of the congregation with godliness and faith," the Priest said. "But the ignorant mind cannot fully perceive the light of truth. So to begin with ..."​
    He put his broad palm on top of the scheme.​

    "This, child, is the Imperium. The beautiful creation of God the Emperor, within whose walls the peoples of countless languages find shelter. Let us see the structure of Humanity's house and the gatekeepers, stern but fair, who guard its gates..."​
     
    Winged One, Dapperlurker, ATP and 2 others like this.
  30. ATP

    ATP I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Joined:
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    Fun thing - was what lie in commie states,in IoM is true.They live in die in shit,but their Faith could at least save their souls.And what Chaos would do to them is far worst then IoM.
    IoM should thanks for enemies like Chaos and Nids - without them people would welcome any invader as saviour,and rightly so.
     
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