Love and Krieg
Since Love and Krieg was a collaborative effort in some ways, with stories, ideas and suggestions being thrown around off the cuff, its position in the 40k universe isn't set in stone. The rough basis for the setting is that of a typical Imperial World, far from the effects of war and horror, very much like ours in the present day. How the 68th Krieg came to be stationed on such a peaceful world, whether by clerical error or some greater implication, is up to reader interpretation. Eventually, a bigger picture was revealed and a relationship between the planet, the reasoning for the deployment of the 68th and the Imperium as a whole was suggested.
It should be noted that there are probably going to be two continuities, branching off after the first segment. The first details the unnamed civilian, Krieger Female Model 68b #6345, and the suggested larger metaplot. The second plans to sport a far looser connection to the fluff, more akin to a lighthearted romantic comedy, complete with requisite road-trip. Somewhere in between, you can find a series of side stories.
So, Krieg-chan is basically Violet Evergarden before she got her character development.
- 1 Those Idle Days
- 1.1 First Mission
- 1.2 Beachhead
- 1.3 Precautions
- 1.4 Introducing the CO
- 1.5 Opposition Spotted
- 1.6 Behind Enemy Lines
- 1.7 Digging In
- 1.8 Reconnaissance
- 1.9 Casualty
- 1.10 At Ease
- 1.11 Notification of Family Visitation
- 1.12 Formal Outing
- 1.13 Security Detail
- 1.14 Christmas Operation
- 1.15 Final Inspection
- 1.16 Medal for Valorous Action
- 2 The Bigger Picture
- 3 See Also
- 4 External Links
Those Idle Days
I was once set up on a date with a Krieg chick on one of those dating websites. It was pretty weird to say the least. She showed up to my house at exactly seven in full combat gear, lasgun and gasmask included. We went to dinner and she didn't even take her mask off, she just sat there at attention staring at me. I tried to talk to her but she would just nod at everything I say. Eventually our food came and she still didn't take off her mask but when I turned to look away for a second her food disappeared. We went to a movie after that, she just sat there mask and all. However, I went to go the bathroom halfway through and she followed me out and stood guard outside the men's room. I think I heard her hitting someone who tried to come in but I am not sure. After the movie I decided to go home and on the car ride back tried to talk to her again and all she would do is nod. Before I went back inside my house we saluted each other, which frankly I have never done on a date in my life.
It gets even more strange. The next day after work I came home and found her standing in my living room. We saluted again. Apparently she had decided to move in as she had a backpack and duffel bag with her. She sleeps in my bed but she just lies there rigid with her lasgun at her side, I am never sure she is asleep anyways. She always gives me rations to take with me to work and has rations ready for me at exactly six o'clock every evening. Of course, I am also pretty sure that she was the one who dug the trench around my house while I was at work this week.
I am not sure if I have a live-in girlfriend or a live-in soldier. Maybe both.
I decided to take Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 with me to the beach for a short trip. I thought it would be nice and maybe the change in scenery would get her to lighten up. I told her about the trip a week ahead of time to give her a chance to get ready and she woke up promptly at five in the morning on Saturday, without the aid of an alarm, and waited in the car for me to get ready.
I had told her that we were going to the beach but I wasn't sure at first that she understood what that was, as she was dressed in the same neatly pressed greatcoat she always wore (does she clean it when I am not around?). Our car ride was uneventful, I would talk, she would curtly nod. I think she also kept turning off the radio and adjusting the air conditioner when I wasn't looking, that or I am having electrical problems with the car. When we got to beach I shocked to find out that she did understand exactly where we were going. As soon as she got out of the car she removed her greatcoat revealing...........warm weather fatigues.
She had her sleeves rolled up to exactly a centimeter above her elbows, revealing her hands and arms for the first time. Her shirt was pleasantly form fitting and unfortunately buttoned up all the way and her pants were equally as form fitting as her shirt and disappointingly long and tucked into her boots.
It wasn't perfect but it is the most casual that I had ever seen her. We went for a nice walk along the beach, in total silence, she with her lasgun slung over her shoulder ready to bring to bear at the first sign of trouble. She always walked in step with me on my right hand side except for a brief stretch when we passed a group of women playing volleyball, she then switched to my left depriving me of a pleasant view.
I had hoped to go fishing at a small pier but I didn't have a fishing license and she kept pointing to a sign that said "no fishing without a license" and kept blocking my way. It is the most forceful she has ever been with me.
After that I waded around in the ocean for a bit, she stood on the beach watching. All and all it wasn't a bad day......... that is until we came across a group of kids building a sandcastle.
I don't even know where she got the shovel but she was on them with it in a flash. Quickly she began to build ditches, bunkers, and ramparts around it. She was forcing the kids to help her directing them with dramatic and threatening gestures and shoving them from place to place, ignoring the cries from the younger ones. Eventually some of the parents saw her and came at her yelling. Big mistake, she quickly leveled her lasgun and opened fire. Fortunately she didn't hit anyone before I got there to stop her, I think they were warning shots though I am still certain that those families are traumatized for life.
All things considered, it wasn't that bad of a day and could have been worse.
Despite what you might think I like having Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 around. I enjoy my time with her. However, there are a few problems here or there like in any relationship.
After a while of living together I got it into my head that she really didn't need to have her gasmask on all the time. I was perfectly comfortable in letting her have it on when we were outside but her wearing it in the house was starting to bother me. The first time I tried to take it off was early in the relationship. She was standing at attention in the living room and I just went up and tried to take it off. I found myself on the floor in pain. I didn't see what hit me but guessing from the bruise, she smacked me with the butt of her lasgun. I guess she was just too fast for me to notice or I was too intent on the mask to see.
The second time I tried was when I thought she was sleeping. Long story short and with similar results as the first time, it didn't work.
The third time I tried giving her a direct order to take it off. I was shocked when she didn't comply. This made me question the nature of our relationship. Were we really boyfriend and girlfriend first and foremost? Was a Krieger just simply programmed to not follow such an order? Was I a bad CO that she was there to aid and guide, a drill sergeant maybe? Or, dare I wonder, was she simply being insubordinate? Perhaps a combination of one or all.
I later, after much thought, attempted for the fourth time to get her take off the mask. If direct action, subterfuge, and orders wouldn't work I would try tactics. "Krieger Female Model 68b #6345" I told her, "It doesn't make tactical sense for you to have your mask on inside. The lower lighting and number of doorways and corners makes the issue of reduced visibility a concern. Additionally, as this is our HQ the importance of protecting against infiltration is very important and the most sound way of accomplishing this is through facial recognition."
I thought for a moment this wouldn't work but she eventually relented and took off her mask to reveal a beautiful face with piercing blue eyes..... and a blank expression.
I don't know what came over me but I walked right over to her and gave her a kiss, full well expecting the butt of her lasgun in my stomach. To my surprise she adjusted her lips to meet mine, though she remained at attention and still had that same blank expression on the rest of her face.
I suppose you need to work through things in any relationship.
One last thing, as I was walking away to go upstairs I could have sworn I heard her say, "Sir." Though that was probably my imagination.
Introducing the CO
Taking Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 to meet my mom was a bit stressful. First off, I am not sure that she even really understands what a "mom" is and secondly, explaining her to my mom was going to be difficult. I have tried to explain to her over the phone but I don't think my explanation could fully convey the situation.
When the day came I found Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 dressed in what I assume is formal dress. She had on a pleasantly tight button up black shirt with emblems on the collar and a few medals and ribbons on the right breast, matching black slacks, so-shinny-they-reflected boots, and an open greatcoat made of thinner material than her combat issued one. Of course, she had put on her mask since we were going out.
She had to drive too. I had hurt my ankle the day before, I tripped over some barbed wire that was for some reason surrounding the mailbox. Driving with her is something else. She obeys every traffic law to the letter but somehow is able to accelerate faster than I thought the car could up to the speed limit and she takes corners at full speed unless posted otherwise.
We eventually got to my mom's and I was absolutely shocked when she took off her mask. She noticed my shock and pointed at her expressionless face and nodded at me. Facial recognition. I guess she thought my mom must be my CO or something.
Things did not go well at first. She saluted my mom when they met, stood at attention the entire time, and didn't talk. I would have to say, this is the most awkward time I have ever spent around my mother but at least it was uneventful.
Until, that is, my mom brought up the subject of digging out back in her garden. Upon hearing that I quickly looked around but Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 was already gone. I had visions of trenches and fortifications all throughout my mother's garden. However, when I rushed outside there she was standing at attention with a spade in hand. I guess that fortifications at such an important location required direct supervision from the person in command. After explaining to my mom that she wanted to help and that it would be ok she was put to work. She planted everything in that garden and did all the edging in under half an hour, It took me close to eight full hours to do it when I had previously helped my mother a few years ago.
This pleased my mom greatly but not enough to end her concerns about my relationship with a cloned and heavily indoctrinated female soldier. All and all it could have been worse though. Interestingly enough, Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 wasn't exactly sure what to make of our visit, on the way back to the car she gave me, changing her expression for the first time, a slightly concerned look. I suppose she thought that the garden wasn't properly fortified. I told her that she did great and gave her a quick kiss. She shot me back a quick half smile before returning her expression back to its usual blankness.
Jealously is an ugly thing but some say it is an ugly necessity in a relationship. This said, I was still a bit blindsided by Krieger Female Model 68b #6345's first jealous reaction. I personally would like to think that I am a trusting man and I had no reason to doubt Krieger Female Model 68b #6345's commitment to me and assumed she had nothing to be jealous of with me.
One fine afternoon we were at a local establishment, having a few drinks, watching a few games, and generally relaxing. Well I was at least, she was watching the entrances and conducting patrols of the area. Though I think she did have a few drinks, I never saw her actually drink, but I would order her a beer and after a while it would be gone. This may or may not have anything to do with the story.
While she was on patrol I got to talking to the bartender. She was in her mid twenties, had dyed black hair, nice face, and a nice curved body. I had been coming to this bar for a while so I knew her a bit. Truthfully, I had a thing for her and had wanted to ask her out but I was never really the type of guy who could just go up and do that sort of thing. As we are talking she gets closer and closer to me and puts a hand on one of my shoulders and whispers in my ear. "Why don't you ditch the weirdo and we go do something after my shift?" She kissed the side of my cheek as she drew away. Needless to say I was stunned.
So stunned that I didn't see how Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 ended up behind the bar and behind the bartender. She tapped the bartender on the shoulder and pointed towards the back door.
The bartender then told her to fuck off and called her a freak and said that I was better off without her. She then put her hand forcefully on Krieger Female Model 68b #6345's shoulder and that was her biggest mistake. With a lightning flash Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 dropped the bartender with the butt of her lasgun and proceeded to initiate a beat down.
I had to jump the bar, grab Krieger Female Model 68b #6345, drag her out of there, and throw down a bunch of cash on the bar to cover the drinks. Won't be able to go back there either, which is too bad because it is a nice place.
In the car Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 gave me a long look with her expressionless face and I could see tears forming in her eyes. I told her I loved her and that she didn't need to worry. We kissed and on the rest of the ride home she rested her head on my shoulder. Though she was still cradling her lasgun, her hands ready to bring it to bear and open fire at the first sign of trouble.
Behind Enemy Lines
I have not been to a zoo in many years. I had years ago reached the age where if I wasn't there with a woman at my arm or kids in tow I looked like a creepy weirdo. I had always enjoyed the zoo though and now that I was with Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 I decided it would be a perfect place for a trip.
She was sporting her usual combat gear, I had told her to wear "whatever" though truthfully I was hoping she would have chosen her warm weather fatigues. She marched dutifully in step with me at my side and I was even able to convince her to take her mask off by telling her that since the place was overrun with small children underfoot and that the chance of a gas attack was low that visibility would be more important. We had a great time, I showed her all the different animals and talked about the ones that I loved to watch when I came to this very zoo as a boy and she looked on silently with a blank expression. We even went to the petting zoo and I was able to get her to feed some of the animals. I thought there was going to be a incident after a goat tried to eat part of her coat but instead of shooting it she just got into a staring match with it. After about ten minutes I decided that enough was enough and was able to get her to move one, though she did give that goat a long look as we walked away.
Everything was great and I was enjoying this time with Krieger Female Model 68b #6345. However, we did end up having an incident that cut our day short. I must confess that ever since I was a little boy I have been afraid of snakes, terrified really, and whenever I went to the zoo I would go into the reptile house to try and face my fears. I made the mistake of telling Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 this. I should have known something was up when she put her mask on the second we entered. She then took out her lasgun and started opening fire on the snake enclosures, blasting the slithering bastards apart with deadly aim. This was all well and good, but this was also a public place with small children everywhere and needless to say people started to panic. Things got even worse when she tossed a grenade into the enclosure where they kept some of the larger constrictors.
The mass panic did help us get out of there without being detained and I don't think the eyewitnesses can tell one masked Krieger woman from another. Still I think I will wait a while to go back to the zoo. I really should have been more upset than I was but given the fact that she did it for me and that I really hate snakes I just couldn't be mad.
A relationship can't be one sided. I have come to realize that we were for the most part doing things that I wanted to do. So one weekend I decided that we were going to spend some time doing something that she enjoyed. I told her to grab her spade and get in the car and we drove out to the park.
The drive was uneventful and I think she has gotten better about messing with the AC, though she still must be changing the radio when I am not looking. When we got to the park I decided to take one of the trails that would take us further away from the more commonly used areas. I took a brisk hiking pace and I could tell that she was enjoying herself, spade in hand and lasgun at the ready. Eventually we got to a clearing several miles from the parking area and I revealed to her what we were doing.
"Today, Krieger Female Model 68b #6345, we are going to build a trench and breastwork and you are going to be in charge!"
As soon as I said this this she forcefully shoved me around until I was apparently in the right spot and pointed at the ground. After I started digging so did she. I never realized that digging a trench was so much goddamn work and I cursed the heavy clay soil where I live. We kept digging for hours and every few minutes she would stop what she was doing and come over to me and indicate with forceful hand gestures and shoving that I was not working at an ideal speed. The hours passed and mid-morning became late afternoon. I was dripping with sweat and had dug, being charitable to myself, about a tenth of the trench she had and to be honest my breastworks were piles of dirt with sticks on them. I tried to take a break a few times but whenever I did she would come over and pull me to my feet.
Eventually, I told her we were done and it was time to go home. I had to tell her several times in fact. I felt bad about cutting short her fun, and the long silent walk back to the car felt more depressing than the walk to the site, though the pain I was feeling in every inch of my body didn't help.
I thought that I had ruined her enjoyment of an activity that she loved and was feeling pretty down. However, when we got in the car she took off her mask, leaned in towards me and gave me a quick kiss. I guess sometimes it really is the thought that counts.
I'd been with Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 for about nine or ten months, and I started getting an impression that things were... different. I mean, the rations were waiting for me when I came home from work every day, but there seemed to be the barest half-inch of slouch when she marched about the garden, and I swear I saw her tapping her foot once when she was standing to attention outside the front door ready to receive the postman.
She was an indoctrinated soldier, after all. She needed action! Truth be told, there wasn't much call for war where we were, so I could understand where she was coming from. I had a look through the paper, and as luck would have it I saw that the Army was having one of its open days in the area. You know the type - let everyone have a poke inside an APC, dump helmets on top of the kids and let them pretend they're big damn heroes, rope some of the stronger men into a gun-run tournament, that sort of thing.
Wielding this, I approached Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 and declared portentously "Soldier, we are embarking on a mission - a training op to test your ability to perform an intelligence-gathering reconnaissance operation, to determine potential enemy capabilities!"
I don't know exactly what happened next, but things went a bit spinny and when I woke up I was in the public car park area of the local duke's manor, on whose land the open day was being held. Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 was standing before me, dressed in full combat gear - and lathered head to toe in mud and leaves for camouflage.
But the eyepieces of her gas mask were positively gleaming!
The open day was being held on a stretch of water-meadow beside the river which ran underneath the duke's manor. It was, as I said, your usual deal - a few vehicles pulled up, small gazebos with stands and soldiers demonstrating miscellaneous bits of equipment and arranging photos of civvies smiling with night-vision goggles on their heads, and a corporal trying to disentangle children from over-enthusiastic knot-tying practice.
I'd been amongst the crowd for a few minutes when I turned around and realized that Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 wasn't actually with me. For a while I span around, disoriented, but after catching a glint of a lens from the treeline over on the other side of the river I tramped over and found Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 lying under strewn branches in her own foxhole, viewing the open day through binoculars literally screwed into the rims of her gasmask's eyepieces and scratching copious notes into a... pink Moleskin notebook (I suppose the woman will out somewhere).
She seemed disappointed that I had found her - I wondered if concealment was part of the fun. She brightened up when I suggested that the "enemy alert state was low" and that "close quarters survey" was possible, although several visitors tripped over her as she insisted on leopard-crawling everywhere in the show area. Still, the kids loved it, a big herd of them rolling about trying to imitate her, and all of the soldiers thought that she must have been one of them doing a demonstration and no-one accosted her.
The displays were interesting enough, I suppose although they didn't really interest me - I was there for Krieger Female Model 68b #6345's sake more than anything else. The day was ending and I was just about to suggest that we leave when I saw Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 suddenly standing to attention and being noisily upbraided by a very red and furious-looking staff sergeant.
Alarmed at what this might have entailed - had she tried to "capture enemy equipment to impair their defensive capability" and stolen a gun? - I hurried over to see what was going on, but the staff sergeant roughly shoved me back (which sort of ran counter to the whole open day ethos before anything else). What struck me more, though, is that Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 took absolutely NO action to intervene...
I shuffled back over to the car park and watched her for the next couple of hours. As the light fell and sunset came she spent the time helping the other soldiers box up the display, being regularly castigated and upbraided by the apoplectic staff sergeant (who I gathered from the faint echoes of his bawling mistook Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 for another soldier actually back on base).
When she came back, she had taken off her mask, and was wearing a faint smile and rouge-dusted cheeks, flush with the pleasure of being ordered about, which the low sun didn't entirely conceal.
I think I felt a little stab of jealousy that day.
Now, I'm not stupid enough to suggest that we go play laser tag, but I am stupid enough to suggest that we go play paintball. I had to my credit explained in great detail to Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 exactly what paintball was and what the rules were and each time she appeared to be listening as she looked straight at me with her familiar but blank expression.
When we got there I had a hard time making her keep her lasgun in the trunk of the car but she seemed ok when I gave her a paintball gun and I swear she made a squeal of pleasure when I put on the paintball mask.
I have to say paintballing with her was awesome. We were a team with her taking point and me sweeping from side to side and she must have nailed ten people and I got another five. Everything was going well until I foolishly jumped up on a small hill and was shot at point blank range by three guys crouching behind the fold of the land waiting in ambush.
The surprise and pain of being shot caused me to fall over.
Krieger Female Model 68b #6345, did not take this well. Moving faster than I thought possible she was over the hill and on those guys. She didn't stop at shooting them, she was actively beating them while they were on the ground with her gun and stomping on them with her boots. I got up as quickly as I could and grabbed her trying to get her to stop. When I did she jumped as if startled and I quickly got her out of there.
She was silent during the ride back, no surprise, but she kept her mask on which was now odd. I wasn't sure what happened back there but I think I had made the mistake of saying that when you are shot and go out you "die." When we got home she took her mask off finally and I could see that her eyes were red, even though she had on her blank expression she had been crying. I told her I was sorry for worrying her and I embraced her my arms for a long while.
I don't want to give the impression that my relationship with Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 consists only of dramatic moments. For the most part we are like any other couple.
On a normal day she wakes up around five, I am not exactly sure because she doesn't set an alarm. I assume she then showers and brushes her teeth, even though I don't hear the water running her toothbrush is always wet and her towel is damp when I get up. I personally don't get up until six at the earliest. I work irregular hours and used to be able to sleep in some days close to noon. However, Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 isn't really a fan of that and if I stay in much past nine I wake up with a sharp pain in my side, I think she pokes me with her bayonet. If I get up with enough time I try to get in a little exercise before I get cleaned up, she seems to approve of that and I need it. I shower and shave and come down to breakfast. Breakfast is either canned rations or two eggs, a piece of toast, and a piece of fruit. I am not a breakfast guy really but I eat it anyways. I then try and talk to her about what my plans are for the day and she will look at me blankly and nod. She then hands me a MRE and I am off.
I am not really sure how she spends her day. I got a second car, a used Volkswagen, and told her to use it if she wanted but truthfully she has put few miles on it. I will say however, that the trenches around the house and the yard as well as the breastworks are incredibly well maintained.
Forty-five minutes after I get back from work we have dinner. Unless I tell her that I am cooking or that we are going out she will prepare something involving corned beef or hash. After that I talk to her about my day, I get blank stares and nods. I ask her about her day, get blank stares. Then we usually end up watching TV, She is partial to old war movies unsurprisingly.
Of course we do go out, spend some time with other couples, and I occasionally do things with my friends and she occasional puts request for leave on my desk.
Despite how early she gets up it seems that I am always in bed before her, I think when I get in bed to read for an hour or so she is checking the perimeter. After that she joins me.
Not really that exciting but I suppose life is really routine punctuated by excitement.
Notification of Family Visitation
Visiting relatives, something you just really have to deal with I guess. One day I was shocked to open my door to find three female Kriegers standing on my step. The saluted me, I saluted back, and they just walked into my house. I went to find Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 and asked her what was going on. She went to my desk and handed me a piece of paper that said "Notification of Family Visitation", it was right there on my desk triple stamped and everything. I told her that I remembered and incidentally had to run out and pick up some air mattresses.
When I got back home Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 and the three others were standing at attention in my living room, only Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 was without her gasmask. She motioned for them to hand me something, they were identification papers. Krieger Female Model 68b #6344, Krieger Female Model 68b #6346, and Krieger Female Model 68c #6345. She then motioned for her sisters to take off their mask, as they did so she looked at me, pointed at her face and nodded. Facial recognition. This was all well and good except that Krieger Female Model 68b #6344 and Krieger Female Model 68b #6346 had the exact same face as Krieger Female Model 68b #6345. At least I could tell Krieger Female Model 68c #6345 apart, her eyes were a different shade of blue, her nose had a slightly different shape, and she kept her hair noticeably shorter than her sisters.
While I was still reeling from all this Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 marched her sisters outside to inspect her fortifications, an event that took hours giving me time to set up the air mattresses and get ready for bed without any prolonged interaction.
I had work the next morning and thankfully things start like any other day except there were more damp towels in the bathroom and four blank faces staring at me in my kitchen.
After I returned home from work I found them all rigidly siting in the living room. I started to ask them about their day when I noticed that all of them were staring at me intently. That is when I realized that recently I had gotten into the habit of giving Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 a kiss when I got home. This was now routine and I was expected to do this. I could tell which one was Krieger Female Model 68c #6345 easy enough but Krieger Female Model 68b #6345, Krieger Female Model 68b #6344, and Krieger Female Model 68b #6346 looked identical.
I decided to go for it, walked over to where they were sitting and gave the one on the right a deep kiss.
When I was done I saw three faces around the room look at me and nod and the face of the Krieg girl I kissed smile for a brief moment. I picked correctly. I wish I could say that it was true love but honestly Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 and the other two Model 68b sisters were identical in every way. Truthfully, I had bought Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 some perfume a while ago and I kissed the one whose scent I recognized. Not very romantic but good enough I suppose.
Later I took them all to the park to dig trenches together, this time I wisely choose the role of "supervisor." We also went to a comedy club (blank stares and nods all around) and a minor league sporting match.
Eventually it was time for them to leave and I gave them all salutes and awkward hugs goodbye. Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 and I then went inside and sat down on the couch together.
I didn't mind the visit from Krieger Female Model 68b #6345's family as much as I initially feared. Krieger Female Model 68b #6344 and Krieger Female Model 68b #6346 were perfectly fine. Krieger Female Model 68c #6345 with her slight variations was alright as well, except that when I hugged her goodbye she grabbed onto my butt. I am just going to file that away as her not knowing what to do when being hugged but given how competitive sisters can sometimes get I will remember to watch myself around that one should we meet again.
Things had gone slow recently and I decided that Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 and I should go out for a night together, since it had been awhile.
We had done quite a bit of what normal couples do, except we had left some things out. So I decided to take her Ballroom dancing, as I felt a club situation would make her feel uncomfortable considering all the people, and last time I had that bartender hit on me so things got ugly.
Now I had little experience from what lessons I was taught as a kid, but I had the basics down. As Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 drove us to the Ballroom I felt myself getting more nervous and wondering if this was a bad idea.
I had explained to her earlier that we'd be dancing and that some older couples took this very seriously and to not react to any scoffs they gave us, considering her gear.
I had told her to wear something fancy, and she came in what I assumed to be her regal military party style gear. It had her ribbons, her medals shined so bright that I almost went blind looking at them.
We pull into the parking lot and I try reiterating to Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 that we would not be competitive towards the other dancers. I was in for a "treat".
I tell her that it's a ballroom and I get an enthusiastic nod. I had no idea what to expect.
We get greeted by the other couples and after a bit of warm up, I find she's actually a pretty decent dancer. Actually, in retrospect that's undercutting her. She was an EXCELLENT ballroom dancer.
I guess every week at the Dance hall there is a bit of a casual competition, it's not long before the host announces that the best couple will receive a trophy and 100 dollars. I glance nervously over to Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 who I briefly catch with a sly smile before she returns to her expressionless state.
So we begin, except she's taking the lead, I felt like I was getting dragged, almost thrown around. I was not familiar to playing the woman's part, but I managed - I was glad my mother signed me up for these when I was a kid!
Despite my awkward attempt to play the woman's role in Ballroom dancing we found out we'd won. I get dragged to the top of the stage with Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 and she gladly accepts the trophy, nodding quickly (which I assumed was her way of showing joy) and only letting a small smile slip by.
We get back to the car and she pulls me over and gives me a long deep kiss. I guess she really loved the night out. I was glad. We spent the 100 bucks on a nice dinner. I felt she deserved it.
We put the trophy on the mantle in the kitchen. I think she shines it regularly because it's always shining as brightly as her medals were that night.
I suppose I should tell about the time I took Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 to a friend's wedding. I knew from the start that I would need to handle this with great delicacy. I explained to her what weddings were, who was getting married, why we were going, and what I was going to be doing. You see, I was in the wedding, I was an usher. Thankfully I was not a groomsman because I can't imagine how Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 would react to me walking down the aisle with another woman. As it was, I basically described my duty to her as security/escort detail and she nodded when I asked if she understood what that was.
On the day of the ceremony she had donned her formal uniform again and we drove together to get there early. (I was finally feeling better from the bachelor party. Man that was a wild party. I personally am glad that Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 can't recognize the signs of a strip club. The glitter, smell of booze, and cheap perfume.)
Things went off without a hitch for a while, that is until Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 decide to give a three shot salute at the end of the ceremony. Other than that, perfect.
I had explained to her about the reception. For the most part we stood around talking to people. Well I talked she stood guard. I explained to her that I was supposed to at some point dance with the bride and dance with my mother (who was rather embarrassed about the whole celebratory shot thing) and told her that I would dance with her later and not to get upset. This went fine and when I got to dancing with Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 we ended up doing that slow shuffling dance that white people do to slow songs far longer than I would have thought.
Eventually it was time for the bouquet toss. Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 joined the other unmarried women. I had explained to her what this was about and expected her to react with her usual blank lack of interest.
I was wrong. She beat back four women surrounding her and tossed aside the brides late thirties aunt like a rag doll. She then stood sharply at attention and saluted the bride. Walking over to me with the bouquet in hand I could swear she was smirking.
It was nearing Christmas time and I was stressing out what to get Krieger Female Model 68b #6345. I thought about some new perfume (consider I had used it before to tell which one she was when her sisters visited), however it didn't seem appropriate. I never owned a pet as a kid, mostly because my mother was allergic, and I was always jealous of my friends who had dogs.
I had an idea. I wasn't sure how Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 would react around pets, so I asked her in passing if she had experience with animals (excluding our zoo/snake experience) and she gave me a rather enthusiastic nod. I hoped that didn't give away the nature of my present.
I ended up going down to a breeder while Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 was busy adding new fortifications during our first snowfall of the season. I wasn't sure what kind of dog she'd like, but I assumed by her personality something that was used in the military. I figured a German Shepherd puppy should do the trick.
The breeder let me sit in with the puppies in the kennel and they were all so friendly and happy. I had a real hard time picking the perfect one considering that they were all so cute - that and I knew practically nothing about animals. I decided to go with a German Shepherd, I was wondering if I should start considering names for him except I figured I'd leave the honors to Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 however I wasn't sure how she'd convey what she wanted to name him to me.
I brought her out for hot chocolate and snow fort building(However, did I say snowfort? I mean snow war zone considering she made a full size trench and a giant snow replica of what I assumed to be a Leman Russ Tank), while leaving the puppy at our house in the backyard with a neighbor watching over him, just to make sure he didn't hurt himself in the mass amounts of trenches, fortifications and barbed wire.
After only an hour of playing I suggested that we should go home. I could tell she was giving me confused look despite being in full winter gear and a gas mask, I think she knew I was up to something.
I had never seen her drive so fast, it's almost like she knew she was getting a Christmas present early. I found myself gripping the arm rests in fear as she barreled home, despite obeying the traffic laws (somehow).
We arrive and I ask her to close her eyes as we nearly trip over the fortifications, finally making it to the back yard. The German Shepherd darts over to us barking excitedly and I see her throw her lasgun back over her shoulder as I assumed she opened her eyes. She fell to her knees and embraced the puppy as it jumped up onto her.
I saw the glass circles of her gas mask fog up, and I realized soon after that she was crying tears of joy.
After we went inside she immediately started working on a gas mask for her new companion and even a little coat to keep him warm during the winter. Her eyes still a little red from the crying earlier and the emotionless expression still on her face as she worked with vigor.
Later that night as she finished walking the dog, inspecting the fortifications she got into bed and cuddled me close, as our new companion rested at the end of our bed, I fell asleep and slept the most soundly I had in years.
This was going to be a good Christmas after all
One day at dinner I realized that I had never met the rest of Krieger Female Model 68b #6345's family. Remembering the somewhat odd meeting with her identical sisters I was fearful of what the meeting might entail but I decided that I owed it to her. I asked her if she ever wanted to introduce me to her folks.
Even through her thick greatcoat I could see the suggestion terrified her. Her stoic nature broken by at least a minute of horrified hand wringing. To comfort her I told her it was just a suggestion, if she was too scared we didn't have to.
This got her to snap into stillness and moments later she marched out of the room. Sounds from the bedroom were terrifying and she had locked the door from the inside. I ended up falling asleep on the couch.
When I woke up the next morning I found her huddled up against me. As I put my hands around her, I felt her hands were still locked together in a nervous hand grip. Trying at first to pry them loose (and giving up) I instead settled on holding them instead. After a while she grasped back. She snuggled deeper in and we enjoyed ourselves for at least another hour, doing nothing on the couch. The longest time I had ever seen her inactive.
After a while though, it seems even the comfort of our embrace was not enough to keep her still and she launched to her feet, taking me with her.
As I stood up I realized she was wearing her full dress uniform, neatly pressed and medals gleaming brightly. Sans her gas mask I noted how neat her hair was. Straightened out and properly policed. She noted the crinkles in her dress with a look of irritation and spent the next few minutes ironing them out.
The door bell rang. As I opened it, I was greeted by a crisp salute. This was the first I had seen of a male Krieger guardsman up close and they were every bit as stoic as their female counterparts. I saluted lamely back and I swear he was wearing a sympathetic look under his mask. He handed me a crisp note.
'Your Presence is required at the Company CP. Report in immediately.'
The signature underneath was neat but the words were alien to me. I handed the note to Krieger Female Model 68b #6345, who accepted it with a sigh of defeat.
The next few hours were spent at a terrifying pace as she relentlessly undressed me and put me into a suit not so dissimilar as her own. I realized she had probably spent all night making it. Next she worked on my salute, my posture and my bearing. She tried to get me to handle her rifle but I refused.
Finally she led me outside where I was surprised to find a neatly parked armored vehicle outside, complete with Krieger guardsman detachment, standing in perfect formation. Had they been waiting all morning?
As I exited the house, in unfamiliar clothes and prompted into an aggressive marching pace I wondered what exactly I had gotten myself into.
As I struggled to match Krieger Female Model 68b #6345's relentless pace down the front garden, the men who had been waiting at the side of the ferocious looking transport lined up alongside me and followed me in.
Inside it was uncomfortable and cramped, but I noted that me and Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 had been given the front most seats and that some of the others had been forced to stand in order to give us room.
As the transport rumbled along I noted the sparse documentation the lined the walls of the dark hold. Right of Ownership for Chimera APC to 68th Line Infantry Battalion. Command Platoon. Commanded by Krieger Model 68.
It didn't take long to put two and two together. All her sisters had the suffix 68. Whoever Krieger Model 68 was must've been their father. Apparently I was dating the daughter of a military officer. And if military dads are notorious for being hard to please, how much worse would it be that I had to please a Krieger dad?
A shotgun welcome may not have been entirely out of the question.
As we rumbled along in silence I couldn't help but notice that Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 was decidedly down. Her usual stiff posture and uncompromising body language had given way to nervous slouching and almost obsessive hand wringing. Her eyes moved erratically as she calculated what I assumed were all the worse case scenarios possible.
I knew this was my fault. I had managed to turn my perfect little soldier girl into a trembling wreck. I pulled her close and planted a kiss on her forehead.
At first she struggled and resisted but I could tell by her lack of force it was superficial. She gave in and rested her head against my shoulder. She was given some looks by the other soldiers in the hold, whose eyes she couldn't meet despite their masks. I glared at those who seemed able to judge her with a glance and they quickly turned their heads upward, chins held high.
Better than nothing.
The journey took a turn for the worse as the relatively smooth ride we were having started to get progressively more bumpy. I did my best not to complain.
Finally the loading doors opened and the troopers in front of us marched out in perfect order. As I stood to stand up she pulled me back down. Checking to make sure we were alone in the dark hold she gave me one of the fiercest hugs I had ever received. Then got up without another word.
We both exited the hold together.
Whatever this place was before the Kriegers took garrison duty it certainly wasn't civilian any more. The dirt ground was marked by the depression of thousands of military boots marched in perfect cadence. In the distance even the smoke that rose from the rows of perfect tents seemed to keep straight despite the wind.
In front lay a larger tent to which the Guard who had accompanied us on the journey had formed a line to. I'm sure it was intended to be more honorary than intimidating but it didn't help to notice they had not left a single avenue of escape between the hold of the Chimera and the tent entrance.
As we reached the top of the little slope I realized that the camp spread for miles and miles around. Further to the front I noted that the mini-earthworks that Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 had erected in front of my house were an almost perfect replication of those that stood proud in the distance in the horizon. Albeit with a lot more men and some mean looking long barreled artillery pieces.
A guard held the tent flap open with one hand and saluted as Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 stepped in. I followed after.
The tent wall was lined with decorations, banners and other military paraphernalia. However, these were strewn about haphazardly, as if they were here more for storage reasons than for the Commander to remind himself of his glorious achievements. Aside from the clutter, the remainder of the tent seemed conspicuously sparse. A thin looking bed, a working desk and a dining table was all that occupied the rest of the large space that rank afforded the General. The only weakness it seemed he allowed himself was a small picture frame that lay downwards on his work desk.
Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 coughed loudly and nudged me violently. I realized in my rush to take in the surroundings I had failed to acknowledge the man I had come in to impress.
He too was dressed in impressive uniform though it contained many more shining medals than Krieger Female Model 68b #6345.
He was rough looking, and could almost be considered weathered if his terrifyingly scarred face did not put that description to shame. He held his hands behind his back and his face held one of expectation.
Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 saluted sharply and I was fast to follow her lead. This seemed to please him and a pleasant smile crossed his face. He saluted us back and crossed over to his daughter who he hugged awkwardly. I could see as he approached me that he was puzzling over civilian greeting etiquette. I put him out of his misery by grabbing his hand and shaking it warmly. This too seemed to meet with his approval.
He gestured us over to the dining table, and motioned for us to sit. We sat in silence for a few moments and I couldn't help but feel that the looks that Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 and Model 68 shared were some sort of silent communication that I would otherwise have to ignore. Eventually he slipped me a piece of paper.
It had my name on the top and seemed to be a collection of information that had been acquired since I had entered the Imperial Schooling System. Nothing too personal but enough to make me nervous. He cleared his throat loudly and thumped his finger pointedly at the bottom, where a verification signature was required. I signed.
He smiled again and clapped his hands. A guardsman emerged from outside bearing what looked like lunch. We dined on a bunch of hastily prepared yet surprisingly tasty sandwiches. At the end he seemed intent on scrutinizing me, locking me into a stare he was happy to maintain.
A squeeze under the table from Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 told me she had my support. Heartened, I matched him, stare for stare.
After what seemed like an age he broke off and smiled again. The grip on my hand under the table tightened. He stood up sharply and offered me his hand. I was puzzled for a moment until I realized all he wanted to do was shake. I returned the offered hand with a hearty grasp.
The test seemingly passed, he returned behind his work desk. As he sat down he gave another one of his small smiles.
'Inspection Passed. Dismissed.'
The look on Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 was ecstatic and her return salute was not its usual strict self but did not lack for enthusiasm. She took my hand and led me out of the tent with a generous yank.
Once we were outside she quickly pulled me into a fierce embrace and gave a little giggle before kissing me passionately on the lips.
This drew several irritated coughs from nearby but she didn't seem to care. And if she didn't neither did I.
She almost skipped back down the path with me in tow, back into the still rumbling hold of the chimera. The trip home was decidedly less nervous and I swear I almost got her to laugh on the trip back.
As soon as we reached home she slammed the door shut and gave me a sly look. My confusion did not help the matter as she shoved me towards the bedroom and manhandled me onto the bed.
The next kiss was one of fierce passion and longing and my mind almost slipped away in bliss. What came next was almost surprising. For such a good little soldier she was surprisingly gentle and sensitive to the touch. Several times her silence was broken just by the sensation of touch but her gasps of pleasure were music to the ear. I moved on from touching, much to my and her delight.
She was soft and very yielding. Any pretense of stoicism was lost as I entered, electing a series of delicious wriggles and squirms of delight as she struggled under me. Her usually emotionless face was contorted with smiles and her mouth was now constantly locked in a giant O from which I could hear her Ooooing in delight.
From her comfortable warmth and the sound she made, it wasn't long till I had to give in. As I slumped down, finished, to the side of the bed. She mounted me from the top with a sly grin. Obviously, we were not done yet.
The next morning was the first time I had seen her at the table in something less than her summer fatigues. Granted they seemed to be Imperial Regulation Exercise Clothes but it was the most relaxed I had ever seen her. As I rose from the room, wiping my eyes of morning dew I let out an oomph as she tackled me fiercely to the ground.
We were content to lie there and let her rations grow cold, just hugging for who knows how long. I took a sick day.
Later in the evening when she was showering, I found myself answering a knock at the door. Another Krieg Guardsman with another letter. With a salute and a salute returned he was gone, off into the night.
On the note, a simple message, the bottom signed with the again illegible scrawl I took to be the signature of Model 68.
'Grant her Permission to Speak.'
Medal for Valorous Action
It had never crossed my mind before. I had never looked up Krieger Military/Civilian regulations, but now her silence made sense.
For all the joy she had given me, this seemed like the perfect present. I just wanted make sure it was special.
Awash with her father's approval, the next few days were spent in absolute bliss. Mornings once spent at arm's distance were now all but gone, and ritual tickling sessions (of which I have lost every single one) became a common occurrence. Returns from work were now greeted with ferocious hugs instead of cordial salutes. Less and less of that all enveloping trench coat and I swear, the other day I almost caught her making far more revealing fighting fatigues.
And for a girl that worked so hard on her tough little soldier image, she was awfully fond of cuddling.
So one day, I told her I was skipping work to prepare a surprise for her. She looked confused and a little scared, her blue button eyes ablaze with suspicion. Still, I managed to subdue her with a boyish grin and soon enough she was off managing her trench work outside the house.
I needed this to be perfect. It took me weeks to find a jeweler with affordable prices, or a grocery which sold Krieger Standard Rations. Not to mention sneaking in all these goods inside my bag that I took to and from work. I sent off permits and requests for information, and this too took time to conceal from her.
I had called in at the local Krieg Barracks for her sisters a day earlier. I had gathered the three of them together and explained my plan. They all wore healthy looks of skepticism at the start but at the end they were smiling from ear to ear. I asked them if they had a suitable distraction in mind.
One shared look and a nod later and I was forced out of the barracks. The door to their quarters slammed shut and the giggling behind it began.
I was half way through preparations for tonight's meal when I heard alarm sirens wail off. I stepped outside for a moment only to see the sisters had decided to test out Krieger Female Model 68b #6345's trench works. With an assault.
I was mortified as I watched them charge up the steep mud embankment, complete with their heavy trench-coats and signature gas masks, entrenching tools raised menacingly. I could barely see through the heavy smoke they had laid down but the shovel heads looked decidedly less pointed and more fluffy.
I retreated back into the house, safe in the knowledge that I had some time yet.
A few hours later, all 4 sisters returned from their mock battle. I didn't know how serious their pretend fights could be, but by the tear in their clothes, the bent handles of their entrenching tools and the arm sling Krieger Female Model 68c #6345 now sported I feared perhaps I had gotten Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 into more trouble than I had thought.
Much to my relief, she came through the front door with a victorious grin, her Imperial Regulation Exercise Clothes (which she now wore with alarming consistency) covered in dirt and rips and 'acquired' pillow-head entrenching tools in both (thankfully healthy) arms.
Three of the sisters then promptly dropped their tools and squealed with delight despite themselves as they took stock of what I had done. I had covered the room in convincing razor wire, following Krieg Entrenchment Regulations. Sandbags lined the walls and flood lights had been hastily installed into the ceiling. Mud and dirt covered the normally neat floor. An old autocannon pointed out the back window. I had created a miniature trench in the house. The pleased surprise on Krieger Female Model 68b #6345's face was well worth the effort.
And I wasn't done yet.
I saluted them sharply, something that I had been practicing all week in the mirror. Her pleased look of surprise at what I had done to the living room did not compare with the delighted squeal she let out when she saw what I had done to myself.
I had given up looking for a tailor that could've done what I needed him to, so I had gone through town looking for a suitably willing Krieger Lieutenant. For an unhealthy amount of locally brewed Amasec, he had been wiling to lend me his uniform for a day after I explained what I needed it for.
'Attention! Officer Present!' I barked in the most professional voice I could muster.
All four snapped to perfect parade ground posture, their otherwise flawless military salutes broken by the smiles each and everyone shared. Krieger Female Model 68c #6345 made do with her other not so impaired arm.
I coughed to clear my voice and wipe the smile from my face. 'Today, we are gathered to offer Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 a medal for outstanding service.' I continued.
I reached into a coat pocket and withdrew a small black box.
'Presented with insurmountable odds, Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 mounted an assault on an opposition's position, with no knowledge of opposition strength, disposition or composition. Despite this she managed to fight her way through, showed endurance in the crucible of long combat ops, presented strength in the fires of action and an adorable amount of character.'
I stepped forward and opened the box, revealing the custom medal I had made special for her. I removed in gently from its velvet bed and stepped in front of Krieger Female Model 68b #6345, her body trembling.
Too late to pull out now. Head held high, I took myself one step closer
'Despite her weaknesses and because of her considerable strengths it is no surprise Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 managed to capture the heart of the opposition.' I continued, the professional voice I had worked so hard on disintegrating into a gentle whisper.
'For this, we offer two honours, both are some of the highest local command can present.'
I unfolded the ribbon behind the medal and presented her with the piece of perfectly folded paper I had prepared the night before.
She unfolded the piece of paper. Mock documentation for permanent Permission to Speak that the Departmento Munitorum would have been proud of.
I smiled as she giggled in delight, her salute broken as she clasped the piece of paper with joy. I put one comforting hand on her shoulder as I used the other to pin the medal on her chest.
'The first is a Medal for Valorous Action against the enemy, which requires that the recipient receives Permanent Permission to Speak.'
She laughed, her words seemingly still stolen and hugged me tightly. I returned the hug briefly but then pushed her away. As I lightly moved her back, her eyes betrayed her worry that she had done something wrong.
I fell to my knees.
'Permission to Speak is also needed so Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 can accept the next honour.'
I produced another box, which I opened to reveal a more traditional wedding ring. Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 now held both hands in front of her mouth in surprise. Her sisters had done likewise since I had not told them about this part.
I took the ring and extended it to her.
'Krieger Female Model 68b #6345, will you accept the honour of allowing me to make you a married woman?'
There was a terrible moment of silence as she tentatively touched the ring. And then a sudden movement as she knocked it from me and bullrushed me to the floor, crushing me tightly with an ferocious embrace.
She nuzzled in deep and what she said next was so soft I almost couldn't hear it.
The silence broken, the room erupted into delighted giggling and hearty clapping. I hauled both me and her off the floor where she laughed happily into my shoulder as we rocked in each others arms.
Krieger Female Model 68b #6344 was making an audible 'awww' sound as she clapped, whereas her sister Krieger Female Model 68b #6346 was simply laughing with joy, a radiant smile on her face. Krieger Female Model 68c #6345 used her good arm to wipe a single tear from her face.
The rest of the night was spent in good cheer, all 4 sisters celebrating in grand style. For the first time ever, I watched Kriegers enjoy themselves with an unrelenting passion. Even the Rations I had managed to screw up was cause for celebration, which we cheered with a healthy amount of amasec. I didn't even know you could store that much in a woman's bosom.
As the night winded down and the other sisters left, me and Krieger Female Model 68b #6345 settled down to bed. We were both too tired to do anything but look into each others eyes and grin.
But I think, that was enough for both of us.
The Bigger Picture
Terranis, At a Distance
Lord Commander Alexis slowly scratched his beard as he examined the flickering green hologram in front of him. Dots represented systems with stars and planets, lines showing common travel routes in the warp and swirls the occasional anomaly. And then there was the tentacle shape of the extent of a Hive Fleet Kraken splinter. Despite the main blow of the Hive Fleet having been broken at Ichar IV, the Tyranids still had considerable numbers which were now drifting out of control. Lord Commander Alexis knew that the splinter fleet would eventually be defeated, as all enemies of the Imperium, yet every world lost felt like a stab in his heart.
“That one then? What is its status?” He gestured towards one of the points of light, which expanded to show a small solar system, a couple of planets in lazy orbit around a yellow star. Behind him the vox-grille of an administratum adept started listing information.
“Terranis, late industrial level planet, no hives. Varied but peaceful ecology, varied climate. No coherent planetary government, divided into fractious countries, all accepting Imperial authority. Tithe mainly in production of mechanical parts, weapons and food…”
“Yes, yes,” the Lord Commander interrupted, “not interested in that, what are its defenses?”
The Adept hummed as it searched the data-banks before continuing in the same monotone voice. “Local PDF forces equipped with autoguns and simpler weapon systems and armoured vehicles. 68th Krieg attached for preparation for the war. Raising morale, fortifying the planet and preparing local armed forces among primary tasks. Do you require further information?”
Lord Commander Alexis pulled his hand over his scarred face in an attempt to battle the oncoming fatigue. And to prolong the time needed for a horrid choice. The 68th Krieg would be a great addition to any force he could muster to try and beat back the Xenos advance. At the same time removing it would severely decrease the ability to defend the system. If whatever counter-attack he made was beaten back a fortress-world to fall back to would be a great boon.
“At current expansion, what is the estimated time before the Xenos reach the system?”
Silence interrupted only by the Adept’s humming.
“Five Terran years.”
He let out a sigh as he sealed the fate of the system.
“Leave them in place, send a message to the Governor to suppress information of the oncoming enemy as long as viable. Don’t want panic to erupt unnecessarily.”
He waved his hands as a signal to zoom out of the system, but cut it off as the Adept began to work.
“Oh, and send my regards to 68.”
Amidst the cold expanse of space, planets and stars do their dance, whirling through the cosmos at dizzying speeds, with the clamor of a warring galaxy as their accompanying symphony. In a quiet corner of the embattled Imperium lies the Sententia Subsector and its single system of interest, Terranis. On this day, known as Terran Solstice, there is much cause for celebration. By galactic coincidence, and although still separated by unfathomable distances, Holy Terra and Terranis are closer than they have been for millennia.
While there will be no acknowledgment, let alone any celebration, in the solemn halls of Terra, its sister planet has more than made up for the former's solemnity. The stern-faced, iron-disciplined Krieg 68th finds itself caught squarely in the midst of Terranis' festivities, for they are the closest thing to the Imperium beyond the Sententia Subsector. Momentarily suspended in time and place, Terranis celebrates.
However, the rest of the galaxy continues to turn. In an instant, planets are lost and reclaimed, and a voracious beast is kept at bay by the blood and toil of millions. The shattered husks of Kraken sail through the void, spreading like venom after the sting. Through the roil of the Empyrean, one beast's eye turns towards Terranis, full of life and vigor. Cut off from the Hive Mind, its splintered consciousness knows only one thing, hunger.
Within the labyrinthine halls of Terra, a withered clerk blows dust from a tome, revealing Terranis for the first time in centuries. He dips his quill in ink and begins to work.
In the darkness of his office, a Lord Commander gazes at the stars beyond the hull of his barge. He tries to comprehend the weight of lives measured in billions.
On the surface of Terranis, the streets are still flooded with blinding lights. At the stroke of midnight, a man and a woman embrace, praying this moment never ends.