Gav and Bob
Gav Smith was part of the Imperial Guard. He was a Guardsman and this made Gav very happy. Gav liked being a Guardsman because then he could do the will of the Immortal God-Emperor and that was one of Gav's most favorite things to do in the whole world. Today it was Gav's turn to fetch the huge sack of potatoes from the food wagon and to peel them. Gav liked to do this because he also liked eating potato peel. The Commissar said Gav was a good Ogyrn because Gav did all the things that he was told to do. This made Gav very happy. The Commissar was not like other Commissars because he did not shout and shoot people for being scared of things like small spaces and the dark. This was good because Gav did not like small spaces and Gav was scared of the dark because that was when nightmares came to get you was in the dark. The Commissar was Gav's friend. The Commissar was not an Ogyrn like Gav and was really smart and could read and write and Gav could not do that because it was too hard, not even the Sarge could read long words. But the Commissar said that that was ok because Gav was better at killing orks than he was. This made Gav very happy because Gav liked to be useful.
'Do you want to help peel the potatoes Bob?' asked Gav.
Bob was one of Gavs friends. They had come from the same tribe on the planet Barakak. Gav missed his tribe. When the war against the Orks was over he would be able to go back home. Or if more than 10 years was over. It had been nearly 2 years and they had nearly won. The Commissar said this was because Gav and his friends were such good fighters and that they were making the Emperor happy by killing nasty orks. The Commissars name was Larrykin Von Kelvsetine but he said that Gav and his friends could call him Arry if they wanted to because they were all friends.
'Yes please.' Said Bob. Bob liked eating potato peel too.
For breakfast it was mash potato and mushy peas. Gav did not like mushy peas. Peas should come in a pod and they should not be mushy. Gav had used to grow peas for his tribe. Gav missed his tribe. But he had such wonderful friends here as well. It was good to have friends. Especially when you had to kill orks. Gav killed orks with a big las-cannon. The Commissar said it was a gift from the Emperor so Gav kept it clean and shiny and made sure that he did not put it down somewhere and forget where. But some times he did. But then the Commissar would come and tell him where he had lost it and then he would tell Gav to not do it again. But Gav always did even though he never meant to. This made Gav sorry. Bob killed orks with a las-cannon as well but Bob did not lose his so much. Gav sometimes wished he was as good at not loosing things as Bob was. The Commissar did not have a big shiny gun like Gav. All Arry had was a small long-las-rifle but that was ok because the Arry was very small. Commissar Arry was very clever because had been everywhere and done everything. Once he had stood on a landmine and one of his legs was made of metal. And it went clonk when he kicked a stone. Gav was happy that his foot is not made of metal because it sounds cold.
Bob liked having potato-peeling contests with Gav. Gav kept on loosing but Gav did not mind, because he was peeling potatoes for the Emperor.
Gav loved fighting. He wished he was better at it. Whenever he sparred with Bob, he always ended up knocked out. But he didn't mind. He knew that Bob was helping him get better. And the better he got, the better Gav could serve the Immortal Emperor.
Gav hated the small tank he had to ride in. Every time he was called to serve the Emperor, he had to ride in that scary, dark place. But it was all right, because Bob was there and he'd lead all the other Ogryn in a rousing chorus of "Da Empruh is Da Best". They only knew the chorus, anyway, but it helped the dark, tight place seem less scary.
The flashing lights always made Gav happy. That meant he was going to serve his Emperor! That meant the door would open and he'd be able to shoot his gun. Gav loved his gun. He loved when he fired it and the enemy died. He'd hold down the trigger and shout at the enemy, making them die in the name of his Emperor, his best friend Bob right beside him. He liked Bob. Bob was his best friend.
Gav had fought all kinds of enemies of the Emperor.
His favorite were the Greenskins, cause they seemed to like fighting as much as Gav did. He knew to go for the big ones, the one who was hitting all the others. It was a race, to see who would kill the big one first. Bob usually won. If you killed the big one, the regular Orks would be easier to beat.
The bugs scared Gav. They made him sick to his stomach, especially when he slammed the butt of his gun against their head and they blew up all over him. They smelled bad, and tasted bad. You couldn't cook bugs, not even the Stumpies could make them taste good. The pants stealers were the worst. Gav always made sure his belt was extra-tight when he fought pants stealers.
The humans who'd turned against the Emperor always made Gav extra angry. Why would they stop loving the Emperor? What did the Emperor do to them, except love them and protect them? Gav always loved killing bad humans. It made him feel good. Commissar Arry said that was good. Being angry against trayterrs was good. That made Gav happy. When Arry first told Gav that, he'd hugged Arry so hard he'd had to stay in the Medicae Hotel for a week. The food was really good when Gav visited.
Gav had only faced the metal heads once, but he knew that he never wanted to do it again. No matter how hard you hit them, they'd just get back up again. It wasn't fair. Every other enemy was kind enough to die when you showed them how bad they were. The metal heads were cheaters, coming back to life like that. Bob said that Arry said that his professor Kain at the big school was scared of the metal heads. Gav didn't believe him. Commissars aren't scared of anything, and Kain is some kind of Super Commissar. He must melt metal heads with his eyes or something.
Gav hated the Elders. They were like shiny bugs. You'd almost get your hands on them and they'd slip through your fingers. Their little arrows hurt, too. Bob was better at fighting Elders than Gav. He'd back them into a corner and crush their mushy bodies with his bare hands. 'Dey break easy once ya korner 'em.' Bob would say, shiny blood covering his uniform. That made Gav smile. He missed Bob. Bob always made him smile.
Gav was there the day that Arry died.
One day Gav and Bob and all their friends had gone for a walk. They were walking through a forest. Gav liked the forest because it smelled like home. Arry was walking at the back of them. He always did this to make sure none of them got lost. Gave once got lost. It had made him scared. Arry never got lost. He was really smart like that.
But then an ork all dressed like a tree shot him. Gave did not see it happen. He could not stop it. The sound of Arry dying had warned them all. They had killed the nasty orks with the big guns the Emperor had given them. But Arry was dead.
They took him back to the camp to see if the flesh fixer could fix him. He tried but Arry had already gone to the Emperor. This made the whole tribe sad. Everyone in the tribe liked Arry. Arry was smart.
They dug a hole for Arry to sleep in. Bob was the priest of the tribe so Bob said the death words over the place where Arry slept.
The whole tribe wept. They did not weep for Arry because Arry was with the Emperor. They wept for them selves because they had been left behind.
Losing Arry was bad. But losing Bob made Gav sadder than ever.
Bob was the reason Gav hated demons as much as he did. He'd fought them before, and he'd found them all to be so confusing. Some of them were easy, charging or shambling forward with big swords or small daggers. They broke easy. The skinny ones were like Elder, but they made Gav feel weird. Look at them was like looking at a girl Ogryn after Gav had learned what they were for. But they broke easier than the redskin or rotting demons, once you could stop them from dancing.
The last demons were the kind that took Bob. He hated them most of all. He hated their laughing at him.
They'd surprised them after Bob and Gav had been leading their new Commissar - Gav could never remember his name - into a church to the Emperor. Gav had a headache the whole time. They'd made the place bad. They'd broken statues of the Emperor and carved a weird flame all over the church.
That's when the demons had attacked. They'd burned the Commissar before any of Gav's group could react. They looked like water that had grown faces. Looking at those faces made Gav's nose bleed. Gav would never forget those faces.
Bob rushed into the thick of things, like he always did. Bob was always that way, charging forward for the Emperor, killing his enemies. Bob was good at that. He was a good friend.
The water demons were fast, really fast. They jumped back and burned Bob to a crisp, but Bob didn't die like the Commissar. Gav sometimes felt bad that he couldn't remember the Commissar's name. He hoped someone remembered the Commissar's name.
Bob caught one of the water demons with his hands and ripped it apart. It was pink before, and it had been happy. Laughing. Now the two pieces were blue, and they weren't happy anymore. They attacked Bob and bit at him. The other tribe had started killing the other water demons, but they were too late.
Bob's last words always made Gav sad. "I'm gonna miss the potatah skins..." Gav beat the blue water demons until he was slamming his hands into the floor of the church. He kept it up until he realized his hands were bleeding. He kept doing it until he realized he was crying. He kept crying until the General had found them.
Gav still misses Bob. Bob was a good friend.
Gav had never wanted to kill one of his friends. The General was a friend. But he wanted to kill the General once. He wanted to kill the General when he said that Bob needed to be burned.
The tribe had their ways. Bob needed to be honored and buried, like all good friends. But the General said that Bob's body was sick. That if they didn't burn it that those water demons could come back.
They burned Bob's body right there in that church. But not before Gav got his tribe together and gave him a short, proper funeral.
Gav was Bob's best friend. His other tribesmen let him give the last words.
"Bob wuz a good friend. He liked to fight. He liked potato skins. He was a good soldier fer da Empruh. Now he's wif dah Emprah." Then one of the General's friends burned Bob's body right there in the Emperor's church.
Now whenever Gav peels potatoes, he thinks of Bob. It doesn't hurt as bad anymore. Now he smiles and remembers how good a friend Bob was. Bob always mad Gav smile. Even when he was dead, he could make Gav smile.
Gav couldn't eat another potato skin. It didn't taste good anymore.
Gav remembered the day he found the bad man who'd brought the water demons to the world. He would never forget that day. It was a week after Bob had been burned at the church. Bob was a good friend.
The bad man had made an entire planet stop loving the Emperor. He was one of the Space Marines that had stopped loving the Emperor. He was blue and gold and made Gav's head hurt when he spoke. Gav hated him more than anything he'd felt about before.
Except how much he liked Bob.
The bad man had taken over one of the big churches on the planet. He was killing people to make more water demons. Gav wanted to stop him. He wanted to make the bad man pay for killing Bob. Bob had been such a good friend. Gav would make the bad man pay.
A lot of Gav's human friends died to get to the bad man. The bad man had brought his friends with him. His friends killed a lot of Gav's friends. That only made Gav hate the bad man more. His fellow Guardsmen slowly made it closer to the big church. Gav wasn't scared of his small tank anymore. He was angry. He would make the bad man pay.
"Foolish dullard. You hardly deserve to be considered sentient." The bad man used big words. His voice made Gav's head hurt. His eyes bled, but he continued to try to run towards the bad man.
Gav's tank had been blown up, and a lot of his friends were dead. They'd been good friends, but not as good as Bob. Bob was Gav's best friend. Gav would make the bad man pay.
The bad man was as big as Gav. He was standing on top of a big set of stairs, right at the entrance to the church. He made Gav's human friends die with lightning. And he laughed. Gav hated it when the bad man laughed. He wanted to make the bad man shut up forever.
The bad man struck Gav with the lightning. It hurt. It hurt real bad. Gav almost stopped running up the stairs. But then he remembered Bob. Bob wouldn't stop running. Bob would keep going. Gav wanted to be like Bob. Gav wanted to make the bad man pay.
Gav would always remember the day he walked with little godlings. The bad men in the blue and gold armor were hard to kill and they used heresy and magic. That made Gav hate them. Gav heard whispering in his head. They whispered how he could have everything he ever wanted. But they had nothing he wanted. They had taken a friend from him. Gav roared at them and the bad men had died when he shot them. They could not whisper to him, his mind was too full of the Emperor's love. But they were too hard to kill and they kept coming back.
But the Emperor had sent his children to help him. The Emperor had a lot of children and they were all very strong. All of the Emperor's children were little godlings. Gav and the tribe fought with them. They were very hairy and had teeth that were just like Gav's teeth. They had armor just like the bad men but it was grey and blue. Gav wished he could wear armor like that.
When the war was over the godlings in the grey armor gave gifts to the tribe. They said the Emperor loved them very much.
Then they sang songs for the dead.
"Evolution has left you behind, scum. It's a pity you're too unintelligent to understand just how foolish you are." The bad man wouldn't stop talking. Gav swung his big fists at him, but the bad man was fast. Faster than Gav thought he should be. Gav was getting tired, trying to hit him.
The bad man hit him with his big staff. Gav went flying into a statue of the Emperor, shattering it. He felt bad. He wanted to apologize to the Emperor for breaking his statue, but he couldn't catch his breath. His entire body hurt. He'd never hurt so bad in his life.
The bad man was kneeling beside him. He grabbed Gav's neck and squeezed.
"I pity you, poor creature. For this, you shall get the kindness of a quick death."
Gav lifted himself up suddenly and headbutted the bad man.
"You killed Bob!" He shouted. He grabbed the bad man by the throat and lifted him up, driving his fist into the bad man's stomach. "You killed Bob!" The bad man shot lightning at him, but Gav hardly felt it. He was angry. Bob was a good friend, and the bad man's demons had killed him. Gav would make the bad man pay.
The bad man kicked and punched at Gav, but Gav wouldn't let go. His arms hurt from holding the bad man up.
"You killed Bob!"
He tossed the bad man onto his stomach and jumped on top of him, grabbing his strange helmet and slamming his head down into the concrete. Again and again and again.
"You killed Bob!" SLAM
"You KILLED BOB!" SLAM
"YOU KILLED BOB!" SLAM. Gav was crying now. Bob had been a good friend.
"YOU KILLED BOB!" SLAM. The bad man wasn't moving now.
"YOU KILLED BOB" SLAM. The bad man's helmet was leaking this strange powder.
"YOU KILLED BOB!" SLAM. SLAM. SLAM. SLAM.
He was still slamming the empty armor into the ground when the Emperor's grey children came. His skin was burned and blackened, his eyes were bleeding as he cried, and every bone in his hands were broken.
But he'd made the bad man pay.
"In the Name of the Emperor, I scourge the evil from my tainted flesh..."
Repentia Tarla threw her arm back, bringing the arco-flog over her shoulder in a long, lazy arc. The electro-tips of the torture device scored across her flesh, lips drawing back over yellowed teeth in a hiss of held pain. Letting her arm go limp, she savored the pain. Pain was a cleansing fire that washed the unclean and impure away.
The besmirched Sororitas was practically nude, kneeling on the cold steel floor of her Naval transport's chapel. Her body was covered in bare strips of yellowed and ragged parchment. Blood-red ink listed her many sins and heresies, as well as the names of martyrs holier than she could hope to be. Her fellow Repentia had left after their morning two-hour flogging had been complete. Tarla remained. Her sins could not be expunged so easily.
The pain had slowly subsided. She knew better than to constantly whip at her scarred back. The white-haired amazon was an expert at pain; she waited between lashes, so her new pain wouldn't fade into the old.
Her sins clawed at her mind, bringing blood-stained tears to her aquamarine eyes.
Slaaneshi cultists had infiltrated deep into the bowels of an agri-world, and her convent was the fastest to respond. With faith and fire she and her sister expunged the pleasure-seeking heretics, driving them back deeper and deeper into their only permanent city.
It was in that city that she found her damnation. She had been a proud Sororitas then, her blood-red armor and holy bolter the only tools she required to dispense the Emperor's justice.
During the purging of a gigantic joygirl brothel, Tarla had become separated from her squad by the collapse of a ceiling. Cut off from her sisters, she had to find another way out of the tainted building.
The winding halls of the brothel held many delights for the mortal mind - murals depicting acts too debauched to contemplate, statues of almost unholy beauty, and a cloying, heady musk that invaded her nose and senses, whispering promises into her mind.
The heat inside her started as but a mere flicker. But as she stumbled from one room to another, her sense of direction lost in the tainted brothel, it began to grow into a fire the likes of which she'd never experienced. She oozed in her suit of armor, breasts painfully sensitive against the harsh, cool metal of her chestplate.
By the time she'd found her way out of that damnable place, she had been corrupted. Her breathing heavy, her eyes glazed, she stumbled into the open air through one of the back doors. The alleyway was dank and filthy, trash receptacle turned over and dirty children feeding from the scraps.
One of her sisters, Marzia, rushed towards her from the entrance to the alley, relief written on her young face. Dear Marzia, with her flaming red hair and soft, pouted lips. The novitiate had barely uttered a sound before the corrupted Tarla was on her, pressing a lecherous kiss to those tempting lips.
Tarla flogged herself again, hissing once more and remembering her mind's corruption in those moments. She had wanted to strip Marzia of her ugly armor and enjoy her flesh in ways she couldn't even conceive. Even with her faith, that deeply corrupted joygirl house had corrupted her, and she would've raped the poor novitiate in that alleyway were it not for the appearance of the rest of her squad. Three of them had to wrestle Tarla from Marzia, and Tarla had only stopped struggling when their leader cracked her forehead with the butt of her bolter.
The Repentia raised her arm once more, meaning to flog herself again. A hard, callused hand wrapped around her wrist, making her gasp in surprise. So intent on reliving her shame, she'd not even heard the other enter the chapel.
"Why pretty lady hurt herself?" Tarla turned and looked up into the innocent, ugly face of an Ogryn. Half of his face had been taken up by augmetics, a clear sign that he was one of the so-called Bone 'eads. He wore a sweat-stained white shirt and a pair of dirty brown pants, permanently-unshined boots shifting about nervously.
"You wouldn't understand, Ogryn. Now release me..." Tarla finally choked out, her surprise dulling to a soft, simmering anger. Stupid creature, interrupting her like that. Tarla had never been one to fully accept abhumans. Ogryn were slightly more acceptable than Ratlings for their unshakable, if uncomplicated, faith in the Emperor.
The Ogryn released her as commanded, looking like a beaten dog who had been scolded by its master. Despite herself, Tarla felt a small pang for being angry at the big brute.
"You came to worship, then?" She asked.
The big brute nodded. "Yarp..."
Tarla shifted to the side and allowed the Ogryn some room to kneel before the large, golden effigy of the Emperor. The gigantic brute went to one knee next to her, washing her with that horrible, natural smell that was unique to his species.
"May dah Chaos men be crushed by dah Guard. In dah Emperah's name, amen..." The brute bowed his head before the golden statue, and Tarla could only laugh softly in bewilderment.
"That's it?" She asked, amused. She had memorized codex after codex of prayers, blandishments, and holy writ in her quest to become a Sororitas, and to hear so simple a prayer delivered so genuinely was oddly disarming.
The brute rose, his voice confused. "Yarp. Wot else is dere tah pray fer?"
Tarla could only shake her head in amusement. Perhaps this big brute had been sent by the Father as an omen, to show Tarla what true faith looked like. Ogryn were abhumans, yes, but the simple devotion this one showed seemed more real than any of the scripture and verse she'd memorized.
Not knowing why, she offered her name. "I'm Tarla, Sister Repentia..."
The Ogryn raised his left hand in a salute, coming to some semblance of attention.
"Gav Smith, Bone 'ead. At yer service, sistuh..."
"Let me see if I have this straight..." The Commissar said, pulling his oculars off and rubbing the bridge of his nose. "You want to buy an Emperor's Day present from one of the local vendors?"
Gav nodded enthusiastically. He liked this new Commissar. This Commissar was old and wise. Gav never learned his name. He couldn't remember much, and what he could remember about Commissars was all about Arry.
Ten years. It had been ten years since Arry and...Bob had died. If Gav had been a normal human, he would have been thrown by how quickly such a time had passed. As an Ogryn, he simply accepted it with the same simple, child-like worldview with which he accepted everything.
"This wouldn't be a present for that Sororitas I see you hanging around with every now and again, would it, Sergeant Gav?" The Commissar smirked a bit, his voice barely containing the amusement he felt.
Gav shuffled his big, booted feet. "Yarp, suh." He nervously gripped the edge of the Commissar's large desk, crimping the smooth metal. The Commissar didn't yell at him. He was a nice Commissar. Not Arry, but nice.
The Commissar sighed and leaned forward. "You know, I could have you punished for asking something like this. I could construe it as insubordination... I could be angry, Gav." The Commissar always had to make things simpler for Gav. Arry never had to do that. He had always talked simple.
The Commissar hadn't been angry, and had even decided to accompany Gav on his trip to the town. It was a great day, and Gav was happy.
The planet they were on was near a lot of other planets taken by the Chaos men. Gav was happy to have another chance to hurt the Chaos men. They were the men who killed Bob. He'd killed that blue-and-gold godling, but he knew that there were more. Thanks to the metal parts in his head, he knew what that meant now.
The planet was a great place. It was a place people went to have a good time. The town was all lit up for Emperor's Day, and the lights made Gav happy. He and the Commissar walked along the main street, weapons held at ease before them.
The Commissar had told Gav that there might be Chaos men on this planet, so they had to be prepared. Gav didn't mind. He liked his big gun. Having it around reminded him of the big guns Bob used to use. And besides, if there were Chaos men around, Gav wanted to hurt them good before they could hurt him.
"Would you get that filthy thing out of my shop!? He's frightening away all the business and breaking everything!" The shop owner was mean. Gav didn't want to break things, but the shop was just so tiny! Every time he moved, his elbow or the tip of his gun would touch something and send it clattering to the ground.
The shop was full of statues. Little ones, big ones, some even bigger than Gav. Statues of the Emperor, of the Emperor's godlings, of his fellow Guardsmen. There were even a few statues of Ogryn.
Gav turned when he heard the shopowner begin to yell again. The Commissar was standing by the shopowner's counter, leaning against it. He smiled and nodded as the man continued to berate his big friend, before reaching down and unholstering his laspistol. He set the gun on the counter with a small clatter, never saying a word.
Gav was glad the shopowner stopped talking. He was mean.
It took Gav only a few minutes to find the right one. The simple-minded abhuman didn't know why, but the small statuette seemed much more beautiful than the rest.
"How much fer this'un?" He gingerly picked up the tiny statue, turning and knocking over three more on his way to the counter.
The shopowner harrumphed and looked down at the little statue. "Twenty thrones."
"You'll take five." The Commissar set the large, gleaming gold coins on the counter and picked up his lapistol. "Come now, Sergeant Gav. We have to wrap that before you give it to her."
"Now, see here, you.--" The shopowner began, blanching when he found himself staring down the barrel of that standard-issue Cadian pattern laspistol.
"My friend Gav is very set on giving this to a special someone. Think of this as... an Emperor's Day sale..." The Commissar smiled and holstered his pistol. Gav liked the Commissar. He was a nice man. Not like Arry, but nice.
They were barely out of the shop when the explosions started.
Gav turned his large, bald head towards the center of town, his one fleshy eye going wide. A large corona was spreading up and up into the sky, turning the post-dusk sky into early dawn. He winced and held up a large meaty hand as the flash became blinding, sending everything into stark relief.
The Commissar was yelling into nothing, a hand on his ear. Gav looked down at the little statue, before opening one of the pouches on his belt and slipping it inside. He patted the leather pouch before readying his gun.
"Follow me, Gav. We'll meet up with your tribesman two kiloms to the east." Gav nodded, acting as if he understood what the Commissar was saying, before taking off after the man, big booted feet stomping on the rockrete below him.
The lights of the city flickered and then went dark, making what was once a joyous city dark and scary to Gav. But he was with the Commissar, so that was all right. The Commissar would know what to do.
Gav was panting by the time they ran up to the frantic Guard column heading into the center of the city. Groups of PDF, hastily drawn conscripts, and grizzled veterans ran about the towering Ogryn in a frenzy. Orders were barked, weapons were ready, and oaths were reaffirmed. Somewhere in the distance, another explosion ripped through the town.
Gav found his tribesmen milling about near the entrance to a Chimera. Chelt, a small man even by human standards, stood at the top of the mud-caked ramp with a bucket full of potatoes, calling to the shuffling Ogryn.
"C'mon! We got a ton more in here! Get on in!" Gav came up behind his...three, four FIVE, five tribesmates and prodded one in the back.
"You 'eard Chelt! Git in! We got Chaos men t' smash! First one t' smash a Chaos man gets a lotta potatoes!" His tribesmen grinned and whooped and hollered, clambering up on-ramp and unknowingly dragging a rather unwilling Chelt into the Chimera with them.
Gav didn't fear the dark, enclosed space like he used to. Maybe it was the metal bits in his head. Gav thought it might be because he knew he was going to be killing Chaos men today. His anger was bigger than his fear today.
The noise outside was getting louder and louder. Gav could make out men yelling, lasguns firing, and some sort of singing. Well, it didn't really sound like singing, but it was the only word the hulking Ogryn could give to the strange trilling sound that grew inside the cab.
Suddenly the Chimera lurched around, pulling a quick one-hundred and eighty degree turn. It kicked up a billowing cloud of dust and debris as its tracks worked to keep the squat metal box turning. The lights began to flash as his squad readied their guns.
"FER DA EMPERAH!" "CHARGE!" "SMASH DA LITTLE'UNS!" Booted feet stomped down the hatch, followed swiftly by the more light tone of Chelt's boots. Gav swiftly assessed the situation- the Chaos men were over there, right in front of him. He pointed at them and yelled.
"Dere dey are! Smash 'em! Smash 'em fur Bob!" None of his tribesmen now remembered Bob. They were all replacements for other losses they'd had in the ten years since Bob's death. Gav still used that line every time they charged. It felt right.
The Chaos men were hiding behind broken cars and overturned boxes. They dressed funny, in a bunch of flashy colors and dresses. As he came closer to the line of Chaos men, he realized that the singing was coming from them; they were laughing and giggling even as they were shot down, writhing in their own pools of blood as if they were having fun.
Gav hit the line of Chaos men like an oncoming train, barreling through them and sending the bad men flying. He'd forgotten to even fire his gun, he realized as he splattered a woman's head with the butt of that gigantic weapon. Oh, well. Maybe he'd get to fire it next time.
The melee continued unabated, the bad Chaos men rushing at Gav and his tribesmen, eager to get blown to bits by close-quarter blasted or smashed apart by the slab-like muscles of the Ogryn.
Gav was slick with blood and other bodily fluids, his gun empty from how many of the bad men he'd shot. He killed with enjoyment, knowing that he was doing the work of the Emperor as he clubbed a young boy to death. Or was it a girl? It was hard to tell with normal humans, much less these Chaos men.
Gav grunted as he felt bullets slap into his back muscle, digging in slightly before that tightly corded musculature and hard bone stopped it from hitting anything vital. He turned and found himself staring down a great, hulking Chaos man wielding a heavy stubber. The man was almost completely naked, and Gav found himself laughing as he saw the man had a great big breast on the right side of his chest.
"Experience the kiss of death, blunted thing!" The bad Chaos man spat, pulling down on the trigger. He fired three shots- two missed, and one ricocheted off Gav's thick forehead- before he screamed out in surprised ecstasy.
From shoulder to hipbone, a great chainsword swathed through the Chaos man, sending a great spray of arterial blood in almost every direction. The two halves separated and flopped to the ground, leaving Gav smiling as he straightened up.
Standing there, heaving her monstrous chainsword onto her shoulder, was Tarla, her blood-stained parchment clothing wafting in the breeze.
"Hello, Gav." She said. "Doing the Emperor proud, I see." She smiled. Gav smiled, too. It was going to be a good day.
Fighting alongside Tarla was a lesson in humility for Gav. She almost scared him.
"In the Name of the Holy Father!" She'd yell as she and her squad of similarly-clothed sisters charged through torrents of lasfire, Gav and his tribesman following in their wake. Watching her sisters torn apart by heavy bolter fire or instantly incinerated by lascannons didn't seem to matter to Tarla. If anything, she just ran harder, holding that large chainsword over her head and whooping like she was a demon, herself.
The Chaos men were fighting to protect some sort of ritual in the center of town. Gav had heard some of the men yelling about it as they continued their frantic race towards the center of the city. Gav knew that whatever they were planning, it was definitely nothing good.
Two of his tribesmen had died, one with a hole punched through him by a lascannon, the other swallowed up by scores of gibbering, giggling Chaos men. Tarla's squad was doing even worse, half of her original twenty members cut down before they'd reached the edge of ground zero.
Gav had never seen such destruction before. It seemed as if everything in the center of town had simply ceased to be, replaced with scorched and blackened earth. The Chaos men formed a tight ring around the center, fighting like the madmen they were to keep the Guard from derailing their plans.
The fighting began to bog down when the Guardsmen smashed against the ring of those Chaos men. Gav could see men and women in the uniform of the local police among the Chaos men, as well as the peedef, or what the Commissar called "Retard Guard." Gav never really knew what that meant. He didn't thing the Commissar would tell him even if he'd asked.
A Leman Russ tank barked its commanding voice not feet from Gav, deafening him momentarily as it spat death towards the men who'd stopped loving the Emperor. Gave raised his empty gun and yelled out as he saw a score of Chaos men shredded by the gigantic impact, only to grimace as the gap was quickly plugged.
"Gav!" He turned his head towards that feminine voice, seeing Tarla standing atop the ruined, smoldering chassis of a Chimera. He waved.
"I see more of your tribesmen to the west! Let's join them for a final charge! By the Emperor, it is a good day to die!" She raised her chainsword and ululated at the Chaos men before hopping off the chassis and disappearing into the smog-choked night.
Gav took off after her, wondering what she was so happy about.
Tarla hadn't been joking when she said she'd seen more of his tribesmen. If Gav could count that high, he'd have been able to count himself among thirty of his own tribesmen, as well as ten Sisters Repentia and twenty Sororitas.
"This is where we shall make the breach!" A tall, scar-ridden woman in a suit of golden armor yelled at the gathered flock, raising her crackling power sword high. "Repentia! Ogryn! Lead the charge and force a gap! We shall follow you into the breach!"
Gav was one of only two Bone 'eads left among the Ogryn auxilia, so he and his counterpart — a happy-go-lucky sod named Jim — split the rest of his tribesmen into what amounted to two equal squads, give or take a couple confused in-betweeners.
Tarla and her fellow Repentia sent up a great cry. Gav and his fellow Ogryn raised the guns into the air and fired - well, except Gav, though he yelled really loud - stomping towards the tightly packed line with Tarla's screaming, whooping sisters in tow. The armored sisters hung back, moving forward slowly, a few shooting grenades over the gaggle of berzerkers and into the line of Chaos men.
Gav and Tarla ran side-by-side, the Ogryn's loping, flat-footed gait matching Tarla's swift, agile grace. She revved her chainsword and whooped, grinning ferally, her aquamarine eyes burning with purpose.
The charge was only halfway through when a great boom sounded throughout the battlefield. Another explosion sounded from the center of town, though there was no bright flash accompanying.
Then the entire Chaos line fell down dead, grins of insane ecstasy locked on their rictus-frozen faces.
The stink of burning flesh made Gav cough, slapping a paw-like hand over his nose.
The sisters had taken immediate action, burning the bodies of the fallen Chaos men in the tense silence following their sudden deaths.
Nobody ventured past the circle of dead heretics, Guards and Sororitas alike frozen in confusion. Only the woman in the golden armor seemed to know what was going on, barking at the General and his friends to 'make ready a defense' and 'secure the perimeter'. What that meant to Gav was walking back away from what had looked like a fun scrap, that gun held over his shoulder and a look of confusion and mild fear crossing his face.
"Take heart, Gav" The Ogryn turned and smiled as Tarla appeared beside him, chainsword held over her shoulder in a similar fashion. "The fight is not yet done. The enemy is up to something behind the flames. I can feel it." She still had that almost scary smile on her face, despite bleeding from several places across her scarred form.
"Ya al'right, sistuh?" Gav spoke, leaning against the same Chimera chassis she'd launched from minutes before. He pulled his water canteen from his belt and popped the top, swigging the warm liquid with great, wet gulps before wiping his mouth with his arm.
"Pain is weakness being purged from the body." She spoke, before her features softened somewhat. "I'm fine, Gav." She smiled and took the water bottle when he offered it, finding the liquid remarkably refreshing. She'd hardly known she'd been thirsty until the water had hit her lips, and now she almost drained the large canteen. Licking her lips, she handed it back.
A moment of silence passed between them, abhuman and fallen battle sister standing across from each other. Tarla's mind was reeling, thinking of the possibilities of what was going on behind that curtain of fire.
Gav was trying to remember something. He had something to tell Tarla...no, something to give her...what was it?
"This is one fine Emperor's Day..." Tarla commented, staring off into the roiling smoke rising from the burning cadavers.
"No'snot..." Gav responded, sarcasm failing to translate for him. "We got attacked an'..." His fleshy eye widened for the second time that day as he clumsily reached for that pouch.
"I got ya somethin' fer Emperah's Day, sis--" Gav had to clamp his hands over his ears, bending over double.
A shrill call struck across the battlefield, wavering and ululating in ways that made men soil their undershorts accidentally. Gave stumbled and almost knocked Tarla down, the Repentia also covering her ears and hissing as blood seeped from her nose.
"They come!" "Contact!" "All over us!" "Emperor help us!" Gav looked up to see figures leaping over the bodies of the dead Chaos men.
Skinny demons. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. They danced and hopped towards the panicking Guardsman line. Some rode two-legged things with long noses and even longer tongues. Others rode chariots or even flew with wings of their own. Gav furrowed his brow and hefted his gun, suddenly remembering that he had an extra clip of ammo clamped round his arse. Grabbing it and slamming it into place, he turned to Tarla.
"S'good day t'die, right?" He fired off a round towards one of those skinny demons, the spreading cone of shrapnel shredding the leering, lecherous thing. It vaporized as if had never existed, a whispered sigh following in its wake.
"IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER! DIE! DIE! DIE!" Tarla swung her chainsword at one of the skinny demons, who just twirled out of range, giggling and smiling. The demon clicked its massive claws and danced forward, meaning to take Tarla's head off. The Repentia was fast, raising the whirring teeth of her weapon to take off the hissing creature's claw with one deft stroke.
Gav held one of the creatures by its neck, grinning at it clawed fruitlessly at his slab-muscled arm. Raising his arm up, he slammed the thin, delicate thing against the ground again and again and again, until slick, blue-black ichor covered the front of his uniform, hissing and steaming the cool of the night air.
"S'good day..." He mused as he backhanded a trilling demon atop a mount, sending the silly thing flying over the burnt-out Chimera chassis. He didn't notice the several cuts across his body that the skinny demons had been making. He did start to feel a might dizzy, though it certainly wasn't from blood loss. His skin felt a bit too hot, and for some reason the colors in the world seemed too... hot.
He winced as he felt a claw dig deep into his back, turning 'round to get at the demon but grabbing onto thin air as it danced away, giggling at him. He hated that laughter. It reminded him of...
"SMASH 'EM!" He reached down and grabbed a big chunk of rockrete that had once been part of a building. Hefting it above his head, he hurled it into a mob of the demon things, crushing a good five or six of the tittering, hateful things. "FER BOB!" He added as he picked up another slab and hurled it, getting only one as the dexterous mob flitted away as one.
"Settle down, blunted one..." Gav reeled as that voice hit him, stumbling back to see something taller than him moving out from the smoke.
It was thin and lithe, taller than the two-legged machines some of his Guardsmen friends drove. Two pairs of thin arms moved with unnatural grace around a chest festooned with swollen, pierced udders. Its androgynous, horned face grinned down at the two beings, long tongue sliding out to taste the air.
"Step back, handmaidens." The tall thing lifted a finely-crafted broadsword as big as Gav, twirling it around with practiced ease as the smaller demons flitted away to seek new victims. "I wish to see how hard this thing shall fight in the name of Bob."
"He shan't be fighting alone, foul thing." Tarla fell in beside Gav, revving her gigantic chainsword. She was bleeding even worse than before, her parchment sprinkling little droplets of her precious life fluid across the blasted hellscape with every lazy wave in the soft breeze.
The laughter of the Keeper of Secrets made Gav wince and Tarla growl. "Ohhohohohohoo... how cute..."
Gav was amazed at how fast such a big thing could be. He'd seen the Emperor's godlings move fast, and had thought he'd seen the fastest things in them. But this gigantic creature put them all to shame. Claws and sword came down towards Gav and Tarla.
Had it been a one-on-one fight, Gav would have been shredded within seconds. But having to split its attentions between two foes meant that Gav only had to block half a flurry of blows, most of which glanced off his strong skeleton when they pierced his flesh. He began to grow confident, raising up his gun to blast away at the tall, spiteful creature, whooping and hollering as he went.
He wouldn't have noticed his arm missing had it not been for his gun. It had stopped firing, so he looked down to find that the entirety of his arm from below the shoulder had been ripped off, neat as if it had been sheared off with a cutting laser.
Gav fell onto his arse and looked down at his bleeding stump of an arm. As an Ogryn, his physiology was markedly different from humans. Harsher gravity on his homeworld meant that his veins were markedly more contracted than normal, meaning he could suffer loss of a limb without the immediate threat of bleeding out. Shock, however, was still a threat. In that state, Gav forgot the melee and began to search for his missing arm.
"Enough!" The Keeper of Secrets threw aside the Repentia's feeble efforts, the blood loss finally slowing Tarla's reflexes. With one great cry, she threw herself at that thing which had dared to hurt Gav, tears rolling down her face. Gav, who had been nothing but kind to her...
The cursed thing's tail whipped about, disarming Tarla before impaling the Repentia upon its barbed tip with ease. The Keeper's grin growing all the wider. It could taste the woman's despair as she realized her death was imminent, tossing her aside to turn on the Ogryn.
"Your little friend is dead, blunted one. Well... close enough..." It went to one knee, leaning down to put its face level with the Ogryn's. Ugly, vile thing. Killing it would be a kindness.
"I'll take my time with you... you deserve a modicum of experience... such a blunted thing is bound to have had so little..." That jaw hung open in a feral grin, tongue sliding out.
Ogryn rarely move quickly, or have good ideas. If they have one, they usually don't have it while having another. Sometimes, though, in the great galaxy, an Ogryn might have a moment of clarity.
Grabbing one of his grenades from his belt, he popped the simple trigger mechanism off and shoved the weapon into the gloating thing's hateful, toothy mouth.
The Keeper of Secrets Ak'fth'laasth had only seconds left in the Empyrean to realize its error in judgement before its head exploded in a shower of gore.
Where was that voice coming from? Gav stood above the broken and twitching body of the Keeper of Secrets, his arm momentarily forgotten as he heard the feeble voice calling to him.
"Tarla!" He remembered! A vague image of that horrible thing impaling the Repentia on its tail flashed through the Ogryn's head. He looked down at the hissing, dissembling corpse, fighting back the urge to punch it.
Gav's booted feet grew louder in Tarla's hearing. Her sight was all but gone, the blood loss and trauma rendering her blind. She felt big, sweaty hands taking hold of her body, lifting her into a sitting position and almost crushing her into a sweating, stinking chest. She closed her eyes and lay her head on that chest.
"Tarla... Tarla, dun't go t'sleep... don't sleep, Tarla..." He shook her until her eyes popped open again, tears rolling freely down his cheeks.
"It's over, Gav... I gave my life for... nn... the Father... now I can... d-die... in peace...." Tarla smiled and reached up, finding Gav's bumpy, stubble-covered face and caressing gently.
"No!" He shook his head. "Not now! I haven't evun given ya yer present yet!" He reached down into that pouch and pulled that statuette out, taking one of her hands and slipping the angelic figurine into it.
Tarla grinned. "Gav...it's beautiful..." She wouldn't tell the Ogryn she couldn't see it. It would be too cruel.
"Thank ya, sistuh..." Gav's voice had taken on a grave tone. Tarla noticed it and her face became set. She could hear them, encircling the two. Giggling, trilling. Gav was staring down a slowly tightening circle of Daemonettes. They watched and waited, drinking in the last dying feelings of the Sister Repentia.
Despair was a foreign feeling to an Ogryn. They usually died too quick to feel anything except quiet disappointment that they could no longer serve their Emperor.
As the circle began to close, Gav began to feel the tendrils of despair choking his heart. Everyone he loved died. Arry first... then Bob. And now Tarla, one of the few humans who'd ever treated him really good. Not just decent, but really good!
With nothing left to do, the Ogryn bowed his head in prayer.
"Emperah... if y'can hear me... I dun't care if'n I live... I dun good... but Tarla... forgive her... for whatever she dun..." The words came slow, blood loss and his own ignorance fighting against the feelings that wanted to be voiced.
"Save 'er... In the Emperah's name...amen..."
The Daemonette cackled and moved in closer. Gav curled himself around Tarla's motionless corpse, unwilling to stop protecting her, even in the face of death.
A bright, white beam of light pierced the space between Gav and Tarla. The Daemonettes hissed and hopped back, their flesh burning and popping and peeling. Gav was launched back by a shockwave that was heard across the battlefield, banging against that burnt-out Chimera chassis and sliding down onto his arse.
"Follow me, my sisters! The grenade has disoriented them!" Bolts ripped through the bodies of the shrieking daemonettes, the buzzing of eviscerators cutting swathes through the horrible creatures.
Sororitas marched in calm lines, bolters held at their chests, firing on full auto into the screaming melee. Repentia and Daemonette were taken down with impunity, the area scoured of daemonic taint within short order.
Gav saw none of this, of course. The blast from the blessed grenade had knocked him against the burnt-out Chimera chassis, the blunt trauma combined with blood loss finally knocking him unconscious.
Tarla had received minimal damage from the grenade, thanks in part to Gav's protective nature - his body had shielded her from the worst of the holy blast, though what little she did receive only exacerbated her condition.
Gav awoke in a medicae facility days later. He would need extensive grafts, a bionic arm, and perhaps even debriefing by the Inquisition about what he had been witness to.
Gav didn't care about any of that. His first question, when he could croak it out, was:
"Is Tarla okay?"
"It was the only way to be sure, Gav. She had already been tainted once! Prolonged exposure to the Slaaneshi demons might have--" The Sororitas didn't get the rest of it out. A bedpan flew at her head, crumpling into the wall right where her head had been.
Despair had once again taken hold of Gav's heart. They said it was standard procedure for one twice-cursed as Tarla. She would have turned back eventually. At least this way she would be useful, they said.
Gav's anger was tempered only by his inability to move. They'd doped him up something fierce, a compromise between the General and the Canoness. The Canoness would've rather not told the abhuman, simply let him assume that Tarla died. The General said that the least Gav deserved was the truth. So they'd doped him so he wouldn't be able to hurt anyone. They hoped.
Gav was crying again, his one arm flailing as the emotions fought to come forth. He'd hardly understood a thing the Sororitas had said, but the gist of it was clear. Tarla was alive, but...
He felt a gentle hand press against his shoulder. He calmed down almost immediately, looking up into the one aquamarine eye Tarla had left.
She'd been mind-scrubbed and turned into a servitor. It was said that small parts of her still remained in her living brain, but to Gav, this was somehow worse than just letting her die. The entire left half of her face had been replaced with metal bits, a mesh grille in place of where her mouth had been. That one aquamarine eye stared down at him in bovine complacency, that single good, human, fleshy hand gently stroking at Gav's shoulder. The rest of her body had been left to rot, replaced with a humanoid chassis built to be the greeter of some hospice somewhere, eternally signing people in and making recorded, polite conversation.
Gav let that one human hand continue to stroke his shoulder. Maybe it was just the metal brain working, trying to calm him down. Gav liked to think some part of Tarla was still in there. Tarla had been a great friend, just like Bob.
Two days later a Leman Russ tank crushed the statuette left out on the battlefield. Nobody noticed.
Inquisitor Traela envied the Adeptus Sororitas. Fighting for the Emperor was simple for them. You found the heretic and then you purged it with fire. Simple, inelegant, and effective. If any of those battle-hardened Sisters realized how much paperwork went into the effectiveness of a planet-wide purging, they might renounce their vows and take up work as a joygirl for the sake of simplicity.
Taera was bent over her large wooden desk, electroquill scratching vigorously upon a scrolling bit of parchment in tune with her words. She held a large sheaf of casefiles before her, going through each one and handing out sentences as she deemed fit.
Every Guardsman, PDF, Arbites, and civilian who'd come into contact with Daemonic forces during the purging of the pleasure world Mannec was subject to a rigorous interrogation by her staff, some of them important enough to warrant a visit from her or one of the few other Inquisitors who'd been investigating this world before all Warp blew up.
The center of Victory City - an old name left over from the Crusades, when the reticent government of this world had been 'convinced' to join with the Emperor's cause - had ceased to be in a five-mile diameter. For weeks afterwards, a stable Warp rift had poured daemons into the surrounding environment. The brunt of the Guard stationed on this world (fortuitously, as they'd only been here waiting to be shipped to the front of the 14th Black Crusade) slowly ground the Slaaneshi daemons back. And now Traela was to make sure no corruption could spread into their ranks.
Traela was an aging woman, teetering just a few years shy of her eightieth year. Juvenat procedures had kept her features as crisp and beautiful as they'd been during her early thirties; she had the high, aristocratic features of the kind of woman one would usually see fawning at the arm of some watery-eyed official in most every peaceful Imperium-held world in the galaxy.
Peace. Traela sighed and closed her dark blue eyes, rubbing one of her hands over them. Fighting the peace was almost as bad as fighting the wars. Peace gave way to boredom, and then boredom gave way to the frakking nightmare that had descended on Mannec. Bored officials joining bizarre sex groups, bored youths joining violent hive gangs, bored politicians joining secretive divination cults. It all stank of the kind of stupid, banal evil that Traela had to deal with day-in and day-out.
She took a sip of water from a bowl before going back to her work. "Private Halk Spetzer. Wounded in combat by the daemon kind known as a Daemonette. Interviewed, shows signs of restlessness, increased libido, and a need to touch things." She didn't even need to think, speaking into her electroquill's grille as she passed judgment on Private Spetzer.
"Sentence: brain-scrubbing followed by initiation as a battle servitor." She tossed the bit of parchment on her OUT pile, which teetered almost as high as her IN pile. She continued through the lower ranks, passing out sentences as she went. Hard labor was the kindest she could be, and in some cases she would give the kindness of a swift death to the horribly mangled.
She straightened up with surprise as she came to a bit of parchment which bore the seal of the Captain of the local Guard himself. Traela had learned in her years as an Inquisitor that she got more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word or a gun, so she'd allowed the Captain - Emperor-damned if she could remember his name - to flag any cases he deemed unique or requiring further investigation. This was the first time she'd seen that privilege enacted.
She read the name aloud. "Sergeant Gav Smith, Ogryn Bone 'ead of the 25th Karanak Ogryn Auxilia." She meant to read the rest aloud, as well, but found herself leaning back and continuing on in silence. Well, she now knew the Captain was no fool. She'd expected him to either let her run rampant through his entire army or mark every man alive in the hopes of saving them.
This was indeed a special case, if the write-up was to be believed. An Ogryn single-handedly defeating a member of the Thousand Sons traitor legion and then defeating a Slaaneshi Greater Daemon with nothing but the help of a Sisters Repentia.
Traela brushed some of her silver-white hair from her face, standing up and leaning over her large desk. Warp-dammit, where was that thing? Papers fluttered to the floor as she sought out her communication hub, a bit of technology she'd been able to 'acquire' thanks to one of her group's excellent scrounging skills. With it, should could tap into pretty much any sort of communication available, either to call her personal assistant or the Captain himself.
"Merk, I'm going to need to speak to a few people. One through astrotelepathic means and the other locally." Her aide responded groggily, though promptly. Well, hell to him for sleeping. They could sleep when they were dead.
"You'll need to use my full weight as a Inquisitor to reach the first one. I don't expect an answer for some time. It will be a member of the Space Wolves Adeptus Astartes chapter, a novitiate named Grenlis. I'll also need to speak to the Captain of the local Guard unit, as soon as possible." She let the line die without listening for her aide's approval.
Looking down at the sheaf, she mused for a while. Ogryn Gav Smith. Besting two Daemonically-fueled entities and living to tell about it. Quite a valuable commodity, if the stories were to be believed.
Gathering the required information was the hard part, especially with astrotelepathy gone to hell as of late. With nothing more to do about Gav Smith of the 25th Karanak Auxilia, she set it down as the lone sheaf in her PENDING pile, before sitting back down and returning to her work.
"You know, you could have just called me yourself, Inquisitor. I know you can." Captain Stolt stood before her, his armor still broken and unpolished from the weeks of hard fighting he had endured. Like most from his planet, he was wide and muscled, with a shock of black hair over a surly and scar-ridden face. It was no wonder to Traela his regiment got on so well with Ogryn; they seemed to be not too far separated, evolutionarily speaking.
"Force of habit, I'm afraid." She chuckled and motioned to her gigantic pile of papers. "Giving it to my aide allows me to get this mess sorted out." Playing the stupid detective was a trademark of hers. You could grill a man when you needed to, but most of the time it wasn't required if you acted disarmingly ineffective at your position.
"At any rate," she said as she stood, picking up Gav Smith's sheaf before her. "Let's get to the point: this Gav Smith fellow. I'm quite surprised that the only person I find in this entire pile with your personal seal to be an Ogryn."
Captain Stolt remained visibly unaffected by Traela's doddering demeanor. He simply inclined his head in recognition. "Yes'm. Gav is a valuable asset to our regiment. He fights well, he can train his tribesman better than any other Bone'ead, and his faith.." Stolt smiled, something that looked remarkably feral on his scar-ridden face. "Well, it simply must be seen to be believed, madam Inquisitor."
That'll be the day, Traela thought. She'd ridden across the galaxy in her own personal ship, from planet to planet, and had seen every manner of so-called faithful servants of the Imperium turn on the Emperor. Ogryn were brutal and stupid, and their faith was the same way, so far as Traela was concerned.
"Well, that remains to be seen, Captain." She replied neutrally. "Let's continue. The report reads that this Ogryn defeated a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh alongside a Sister Repentia, name of Tarla." She let that hang for a moment, before continuing. "I don't suppose you witnessed this personally..."
Captain Stolt bristled somewhat, but held it in check. Traela hid her own smile of amusement with the practiced ease that came with years of dissembling.
"You know that I didn't. I was on the opposite side of the Chaos line, as my reports have stated."
"So..." She continued, "Was there a dead body when you arrived on the scene?"
Stolt looked like he could've hit Traela if he could. "Again, you know there wasn't, Madam Inquisitor. Daemonic corpses vanish after they are killed. Everyone above the rank of sergeant knows that."
She nodded. "All you have are the reports from some of the Adeptus Sororitas that there was a fading corpse of some stature when they arrived. And of course Gav's... spare testimony." She'd stopped herself from saying 'unintelligent', not wanting to upset Stolt to the point of being uncooperative.
"Madam Inquisitor, Gav wouldn't lie about something like that. Hell, I'm not even sure he knows HOW to lie." The exasperation showed on the Captain's face, a tiredness born of too many days without sleep and endless meetings of his sort. "If that Ogryn were a politician, he'd be the first honest one in the history of the Imperium 'sides the Emperor."
Traela could sense that this meeting was edging towards a shouting match, so she defused the situation with a smile and a wave of her hand.
"I don't doubt the honesty of Gav. I'm sure he reported what he saw. But when dealing with the Daemonic, what you see and what you remember isn't always what truly happened. Encountered with the Ruinous Powers tend to warp the thoughts and memories of those in close contact with them, and Gav has already faced Chaotic powers once before this." She held the sheaf of paper up. "Unless my reports are misleading."
Captain Stolt relaxed visibly and nodded. "Gav's a good soldier, and one of the smartest Ogryn I've had under my command. It would deal a real blow to our regiment if he were... retired." Stolt danced around the issue as any normal man under stress would have. Traela thanked him for his presence and allowed him to leave.
Pushing Stolt like that had yielded the results she'd been looking for. Gav had the confidence of his superior officers. Stolt hadn't been acting simply out of pity. What to do with this bit of information, that was the question.
A week after her meeting with the Captain, during a quiet moment following a rather good dinner provided pro bono by one of the local cafes, Traela received an urgent call from her aid.
Space Wolf Grenlis had received her astrotelepathic relay, and was standing by to directly liaison with the Inquisitor.
Her dinner ended immediately, and she moved to her desk. Though she had ostensible power over anyone in the Imperium, keeping a member of the Adeptus Astartes waiting wouldn't do well for her.
She thumbed the activation rune on her communication hub, and the three-dimensional pict feed whined as it began to power up. The lens atop the boxy arrangement flared to life and projected a fuzzy holo-image, no taller than her shin. She slammed her fist into the com-hub, bringing the image into greater focus.
The Marine was imposing even though he'd been shrunk smaller than herself. He stood before her in full armor, a great pelt of wolf-hide draped over his gigantic pauldrons. His face was youthful and unblemished, a great shaggy beard framing a pair of feral eyes. The holo-image's colors were washed-out, but she could make out the bright yellow on one of his pauldrons, framing the famous crest of the Space Wolves Chapter.
"Inquisitor Traela." Grenlis offered an incline of his head, but no more. "I heard that Ogryn Gav is in some trouble. How can I help?"
Grenlis had retold of the pacification of the holy world Caelis with the simple, straightforward honesty his Chapter was renowned for. They'd landed where the fighting was the thickest, and had battled their way towards the corrupted chapel where they'd found their job already done.
"The Ogryn's unit had apparently smashed through a section of the city lightly defended by the Sorcerer's minions. He'd sent most of them to fight us, giving Gav and his tribesman an easier time of it. When we got there, as you've probably read, we found him sitting on top of the dead Sorcerer, bawling like a newborn. Only thing we could get out of him was 'He killed Bob', over and over again."
"So you believed him when he said that he'd killed the Sorcerer?" Traela found herself pulled into the story, despite herself. She leaned over her desk, arms crossed and supporting herself below her chest, staring at this tiny simulacrum of a man who'd tower over her in real life.
Grenlis nodded. "We was badly burned over most of his body, and when we tried to pick him up, we found that most of his fingers were broken. Probably from the job he did to the Sorcerer's face." Grenlis grinned, showing off a mouth of unnaturally sharp teeth. "He'd smashed that bastard's face in until there was nothing but dust left."
Traela let that digest for a moment. The Captain she took with a grain of salt. He was only human, of course. But an Astartes was something else altogether. The only chapter more trustworthy about matters Chaotic than the Wolves were the Grey Knights.
"Thank you for your time, Grenlis. You've been most helpful."
Grenlis nodded, before making the sign of the Aquila. His image vanished from before Traela, leaving her with only her thoughts.
The last step in every special investigation was an interview with the subject. Gav had been discharged from the Medicae facility and was currently residing in a make-shift barracks that had been formed from one of the largest hotels on the planet. Seeing her interviewees on their own ground helped to relax them. Calling them in to some antiseptic room with a single light fixture tended to result in to many nervous breakdowns.
Getting in had been easy. She'd hardly noticed the servitor who'd greeted her at the door, noting that it looked marvelously new. Probably one of the most recent ones she'd signed over into mindless servitude. Oh, well. Green-eyed thing probably deserved what was given to her.
Removing herself from the elevator shaft, she watched as the activity of the hallways parted in her wake. Half-dressed Guardsmen quickly hurried back into their rooms and closed the doors, some of them dragging giggling joygirls along in their wake. Traela would have to talk to the Captain about such things. It wouldn't do to take chances on a world that had fallen to Slaanesh.
Finding room 594, she raised a hand and knocked briskly, taking a moment to straighten out her attire. She'd chosen a simple calf-length black overcoat over a skin-tight pair of pants and a blood-red shirt, a heavy Inquisitorial symbol hanging from her neck, nestled in her cleavage. She'd kept herself in good condition, and it helped when she went undercover. Besides, she knew for a fact that life was damn short, so she might as well flaunt it while she had it.
The floor quaked with what sounded like the approach of a Titan, before she heard a fumbling at the latch.
The door open, and Traela found herself staring up at Gav Smith, Bone 'ead of the 25th Karakan Ogryn Auxilia. The Ogryn's one good eye regarded her with a mixture of mild confusion and innocent interest.
"Help you?" He asked in a deep baritone voice, a bit of spittle nestling on her cheek. She wiped it away without thinking.
"Sergeant Gav, my name is Traela. I'd like to speak with you about a few things. May I come in?"
"Yarp." He nodded once, before opening the door and trying to move out of her way. "Mind the mess, miss."
Mess was a bit overboard. A few old cloths hung on a line hastily hammered in to hang across the room, a gigantic cot taking up fully half of the otherwise pristine room. Gav went and sat on the edge of that cot, looking at Traela with that same mixture of confusion and innocent interest.
"This'n be about Tarla, innit?" He spoke. "Dey been askin me after her for weeks." Well, he was far and away more intelligent that his kinsmen, even those with the Bone 'ead operation. A point in his favor, but this scrum ball match wasn't over quite yet.
Traela had found her conversation with Gav to be enlightening and, in places, wholly surprising.
It was true what Stolt had said about Gav's faith. It was child-like and innocent, strong in its simplicity. Even when he was speaking of the horrible death of his friend Bob or the worse fate of Tarla (Traela felt no pang of regret about her thoughts earlier, unable to connect Tarla to the green-eyed servitor she'd met at the entrance), the Ogryn always noted that it must have been in the Emperor's plans for them to die.
"Dey woulda lived if'n the Emperah wanted 'em to. But I guess 'e wanted t' talk to 'em hisself." He nodded with conviction, before reaching up to rub the stump where his left arm had been.
"Gav, what about the daemons you fight. How do you feel about them?"
The Ogryn balled his one good hand into a fist and grunted thickly. "I hates them demon things. They killed Bob, and they turned Tarla into..." Gav couldn't find the words to describe it. What had happened to Tarla had come as close as anything would to shaking his faith in the Emperor. He hadn't been out of his room for weeks for fear of running into her and breaking down all over again.
"When you fought the Keeper of... the four-armed daemon, what was going through your mind, Gav? What can you remember?" Traela leaned forward somewhat, looking up intently at that simple creature.
Gav leaned back in his cot, his face screwing up with effort. "I remembuh... I felt... hot... like I was burnin' up. The colors... the colors o' da world were brightah... but I was angry, too..." He nodded with certainty. "Dat thing made funna Bob. I wanted to peel its head." Traela jumped as Gave brought his titanic fist down onto his knees. "Peel it like'a potatah... like me an' Bob usta do..."
Traela laughed. "Good for you, Gav. That's the right way to feel about demons. Do you still feel hot sometimes? Do the colors around you still seem bright?"
Gav laughed and shook his head. "Naw... though I sometimes get hot when dey turn up da heat at night..."
Traela nodded and stood. "Thank you, Gav. I think that will be all." She made the sign of the Aquila. Gav tried to return the gesture, but remembered that he didn't have that arm anymore.
Traela often found that when something seemed to be simple on the face of it, oftentimes something would come along to send you all the way back to square one. As she exited the hotel and walked the short distance towards the building currently housing most of the top IG brass and herself, she felt her comm pad shaking at her belt. Pulling it free, she looked down to see the aging face of her counterpart from the Ordo Malleus, one Stran Threenus.
"I hear you've been visiting abhumans today. Wouldn't be that Gav Smith, would it?" Stran's voice was congenial on the face of it, but Traela could sense that he was here to complicate her life.
"Just left, in fact. On my way back to HQ." She offered no more than that, hoping her attitude would tell Stran to piss off where she couldn't. Though they held the same rank and held no authority over one another, Traela knew to tread lightly where her fellow Inquisitors were concerned.
"And what is your conclusion about the blunt?" Stran wouldn't be deterred from being a nosy bastard, of course, so Traela resigned herself to whatever the man had in mind that would make her day harder.
"He's untainted, so far as I can tell. His Captain vouches for him, and I've got corroborating evidence from Adeptus Sororitas and a member of the Space Wolves. I was considering sending him back to his unit."
"Ah... yes. Shame. I was hoping I wouldn't have to do this." Stran didn't look as if this bothered him in the least. "I received a transmission from a member of our chamber militant. I'm sure you've heard of them..."
Stran continued, heedless of any response Traela had been mustering.
"I've informed them of the Ogryn Gav Smith's encounters with the Ruinous Powers. It is in their educated opinion that he is too great a risk to be allowed to rejoin his unit. The taint of two Great Powers are likely within his veins."
"I just spoke to him, and he seemed--" Stran held up a hand to forestall her.
"I have no authority over you. But the Grey Knights are another matter entirely. I wish you no ill will, Traela. For the good of yourself, do not put that Ogryn back in his or any other Guard unit. Turn him into a servitor, set him free on the planet. I don't care. But disobey a command from the Grey Knights at your peril."
The line went dead. Had it not been for the expense of that comm-pad, Traela would've smashed it against the cobblestone street.
It wasn't like she cared for the Ogryn. Traela hated being used, and hated it especially when that usury came from people who were supposed to be on her side.
Traela was in a foul mood as she sat behind her desk, that sheaf of paper held out before her.
A simple signing of the bottom line could end Gav's life by a bit of poison. Another signature could turn him into a powerful battle servitor. And another could discharge him from the Guard with full benefits, leaving him on this planet as they went off to face Abaddon Thrice-Damned.
None of the options on that sheaf of paper seemed to fit. Killing or mind-scrubbing Gav was a waste of good talent. Any Ogryn that could face a Chaos Sorcerer and a Greater Daemon, even with help, was a greater asset than any battle servitor.
Discharging him seemed like the best option of the three, but even that one set her teeth on edge. For one, the feeling of usury rankled every time she looked at that little signature line. For two, Gav seemed so damned eager to get back at the front line.
She'd seen many normal humans after a great loss like Gav's Tarla. Most of them were listless in their devotions, a deep feeling of abandonment settling over them. A few outright renounced the Emperor. Gav seemed impervious to such things, eagerly looking forward to the day when he could 'serve dah Emperah again.'
Keeping Gav useful but maintaining her own autonomy became top priority to Traela. She would not be dictated to, but she wasn't about to piss in the face of the Grey Knights by going against their will.
The answer came to her as she poured her third glass of amasec. It hit her like the force of a Daemonhammer, and with a grin she signed Gav's discharge papers.
"L... Leavin'?" Tears were welling in the Ogryn's big brown eye as he stared down at the stamped bit of paper.
The Guard had been his life. He'd fought beside Arry and Bob, then beside Tarla. He'd seen so many other friends fight and die for the Emperor. This was his life, and now Traela was sitting behind her desk and telling him that he wasn't going to be a Guardsman anymore.
Traela held up a hand and patted the Ogryn's larger mitt. "You've served the Emperor well, Gav. But your ten years were up a long time ago." She didn't want the giant Ogryn bawling in the middle of her office.
"But... I dun't wanna leave. Wot am I gonna do fer dah Emperah now?" Gav felt scared, really scared for the first time in his life.
This was a mistake, it had to be a mistake. The General wouldn't let this happen.
"Did I do sumthin' wrong?" Tears flowed freely now. "Cuz if I did somethin' wrong, I can jus' go to th' church and ask fer forgiveness and--"
"Gav." Traela's voice was calm and reassuring. She stood up and smiled her most ingratiating smile. "Just because you're leaving the Guard doesn't mean you've stopped being useful to the Emperor."
Gav could only stare at her in worried confusion. Traela pressed on.
"I do a lot of good work for the Emperor, all around the galaxy. My work is small, but it's very important. Sometimes it's very dangerous, and I need someone to protect me."
She picked up another bit of paper and held it out to Gav.
"You can serve the Emperor again. By signing this bit of paper, you will be the personal bodyguard to an Imperial Inquisitor." She waited for a moment, then added. "You'll be my personal bodyguard, Gav. You'll protect me so I can do the Emperor's work around the Galaxy."
Gav didn't know how to sign his name. So he just put a big, shaky X where his name should go.
Traela smiled and took the bit of paper back. "Very good, Gav." She folded the slip of paper and tucked it into one of her drawers.
Gav felt a weird tingling in his tummy. The world seemed to be rushing at him, making him dizzy. This was all happening too fast, and yet...
Gav had heard Arry talking about Inquisitors a long time ago. He'd said that they were some of the biggest heroes in the Imperium, that they could make sure entire worlds kept loving the Emperor, all by themselves.
Traela seemed too small to be so important, but if Arry said it, then it must be true.
Traela buzzed her aide into the room, the small man nervously edging around the Ogryn to stand before his boss.
"See to it that this Ogryn gets the best prosthetic arm possible. I want it to be able to hold some kind of gun so he can use another weapon with his good hand." She turned to Gav.
"We're going to be leaving in a few days, Gav. If you have anything left to do on this world, I suggest you get it taken care of." She nodded to her aide, who turned to the Ogryn and began the slow process of ushering him out.
Gav could only think of one thing he had left to take care of on this planet.
The sensors that kept what used to be Tarla's brain alive sent an electrical current through her broken body, bidding her to rise her head from her current tasks.
"Hullo, Tarla." Gav stood before the servitor that held the flesh of Tarla. She was currently using a cleaning attachment on one of her arms to make one of the hallways of her home a bit cleaner. What was left of her mind bristled as how dirty everything was.
"Hello, sir." Came her response, her voice choked and hazy through the grille set into her broken, infected jaw. "How might I help you tonight?"
Gav felt himself on the verge of tears once again, but he held them back with a force of will. Tarla wouldn't want to see him like this.
"Ah'm gonna be leavin' soon, Tarla... they said I'z no long part of dah Guard..."
The cogitator in Tarla's head searched for the appropriate response, as she straighted and adopted the most congenial expression her cavalcade of augmetics allowed.
"It was a pleasure to have you in our hotel, valued former member of the Guard. Ave Imperator." She bowed and straightened, looking up at Gav with that one still-good aquamarine eye. Even now, the lack of proper moisture to her eye was giving it a milky film, blotting out what little intelligence had been left in that iris.
"I just..." Gav started, swallowing a sob that threatened. "I just wanted t' say that... you was important t' me... you was one o' my best friends, Tarla..." Gav couldn't stand it anymore. He turned and blundered his way past a group of Guardsmen who cursed and brayed at his passing.
The servitor who used to be Tarla went back to her work as if nothing were happening. Only a few moments later did she notice a leakage around her fleshy eye.
"Oi! Who's the new guy?" Sheexa didn't mind that she'd just lost her arm wrestling contest with Grint, Traela's pet psyker. She liked to test her muscle against his warp-enhanced muscle. Right now, though, she was more concerned with the hulking behemoth that was ascending the loading platform into Inquisitor Traela's personal ship, walking alongside the woman herself.
"Settle down, Sheexa." Traela responded. She was used to her demolitions expert's bravado. She was from Catachan, after all. Until Gav came along, Sheexa had been the biggest member of her crew at a good 6'6", with the muscle to back it up. Next to the hulking form of Gav, Sheexa looked like a little girl.
"This is Gav." She reached up and patted the Ogryn's bionic arm. "He's going to be my bodyguard during my undercover operations."
"He's got the bulk for it, true enough." The voice that Ratling Trobb used would've done better on a man twice his size. He was dressed in the comfortable clothing of his kind, his only military markings being the tattoos trailing up and down his strong little arms. The stumpy, bearded abhuman hopped down from one of the crates he sat upon, shouldering his favored weapon- the sniper gun most of his kind were so natural with- and looking up at the towering Ogryn with a grin. "Big boy, ain't he?"
"He has a good soul." Grint spoke, his voice hazy and far away. What little of his face wasn't hidden by a heavy cowl looked no more than fifteen, one of his withered hands coming to rest on Gav's chest "Better than most of the stunted ones you bring here, Mistress." He smiled to Traela under his cowl.
Gav took all of this in with the same confused, innocent look he always had. Traela had grown to like him in the few days she'd known him. With nothing better to do, the Ogryn had come to visit her once in a while, and in that time she'd learned just how intelligent he could be.
Sheexa smirked, crossing her arms under her chest. She wore a white armless top and a pair of camo pants, boots almost as big and grimy as Gav's covering her feet. She eyed Gav up and down, sizing him up. "You speak, big guy?"
"Yes'm, ah can speak." Gav raised his left hand in a salute, and Sheexa could only laugh.
"Wow, so polite. I think I like this Ogryn." She reached up and gave Gav's shoulder a hard smack. "At least I'll have someone to arm wrestle who won't cheat." Grint only grinned under his cowl.
Gav smiled. The people Traela had around her seemed like nice people. Especially Sheexa. That smack against his shoulder had been strong. It even stung a little bit. Gav liked strong people.
After he'd been shown to his quarters and introduced to the few remaining members of Traela's crew, Gav sat in his own room and stared out of his viewing port. They were minutes away from embarking, leaving Mannec behind forever.
Ogryn aren't, by nature, a reflective species. They live in the moment, and are much like Orks in that respect.
Gav had lived to be an older age, comparatively. Most of his brethren died off before they saw their twentieth year. Gav was nearing some part of his thirtieth- he couldn't remember which- and was gaining what others could call wisdom.
He sat there as they began to take off, his body ignoring the G-forces that were being exerted upon it, and looked back on all his hard years of service to the Guard.
He smiled, remembering the day Bob had started a food fight in their mess hall. Arry had been so angry.
Arry. He remembered how Arry had tried to help Gav read. It had never gone anywhere, but Gav loved him for trying to teach him.
His face softened when he remembered Tarla. He remembered that moment just before the skinny demons had attacked, when they had shared his canteen and hadn't said anything.
He'd done good things for the Emperor, but bad things had happened to him. He never made the connection most would; he never saw the Emperor abandoning him, or questioned the Emperor's love for him.
As Gav Smith sat there on his cot and watched the blueness of the sky fade into the darkness of space, he smiled.
Wherever he went, whatever he did, he served the Emperor. And that was good.
Note from the author:
And that's the end.
I wanted to end it in a way that left it open for other writefags to have a crack at it. I tried to leave the characters surrounding him with enough room for character development while still giving a good amount of information about their personality.
My part in the saga of Gav is now at a close. Thank you all for reading, and especially for encouraging me. It's so easy for people to be negative on the Internet, so I know how great it is when they aren't.
So go forth and tell of Gav's adventures as Traela's bodyguard.
Ave Bob. Ave Arry. Ave Tarla.
- Original thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/8382189/
- Sequel thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/8428449/
- Traela thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/8500900/
Ave Bob. Ave Arry. Ave Tarla.