This is a pre-quel to Love Can Bloom, where LIVII saves a sister of battle from the cog-boys
The slow grating clatter of the elevator fades away as you open your eyes from your gratuitous flashback scene, to see the empty, yawning cavern of the flight deck, the few personnel wandering around in the immobile background, specks against the vast grey speed painted siding with random cables and gantries spiderwebbed about.
Before you can wonder how someone could possibly stutter the "vee" sound unintentionally, the squeal and clatter of poorly welded wheels alerts you to a presence at thigh level. It's Sister Sinai. Half her body burned, two limbs and most motor function lost, you recall her as a vague detail from the equally vague introduction you rapidly clicked through. Her remaining fingers on her lone arm (Currently shivering under her cassock which looked to be a collection of loose spiderwebs for all the good it was doing) caked in grime squeeze together as they match her eyes shutting, as she breathes in.
"They, they say that the bionics are wasteful an-and if I wish to serve the Emperor I would have to become a servitor," for a moment, her lone eye looks down, red lines still faintly visible to your enhanced eyesight, "I'm...I'm happy to serve the Emperor...But-" As you, the reader reach for the mouse button, skubitos dripping from your malformed, sausage fingers, she looks up with determination. "You were kind to me. You preserved me. So, I have to ask, while, while, while I can still feel..." She looks down again, curling in slightly, blush seeping her face, leaving the final words unspoken.
You consider for a moment, your finely honed body and mind taking in every possible detail of the girl bordering womanhood (she's totally in, like, junior sororitas college or something its totally legal dude), a gasp, increased heart beat, a nervous quivering, the Adeptus Mechanicus behind her giving a thumbs up and winking, you finally decide to:
- 1) "...Let me carry you to somewhere we can finish our communication."
- 2) "Your fear betrays a lack of faith. See the chaplain and leave me be."
- 3) Genuflect.
- 4) J-J-J-JAMMM IT IN
- 5) NEEEEEERD RAAAAAAGGGGEEEEEE
- 6) "This is not enough pylons."
- 7) "Just as planned..."
>Anonymous has chosen Option 1! You have to report to briefing. You always ensure keeping at least twenty four hours readiness open between you and your arrival at the briefing. This was what enabled your fast response to the pirate eldar attack.
However. Something acts within. Some impulse long buried.
"...Let me carry you to somewhere we can finish our communication," The enginseer behind her tries to catch your eye, but you pay no heed behind your visor. She smiles. Her teeth. She tries to cover them, quickly, stretching her lips over it, hiding it, looking down again in shame. She must have been having trouble eating.
She's so small, so light, as you reach down, carefully placing your hands at points to support her. It's awkward. You hesitate, and then she wraps an arm around your neck, whispering into your ear, "It's okay, you can hold me just like this."
She clings with strength greater than you expected. Carefully, you hold her, as you crouch, keeping her in perfect balance, to grab her cart.
"No, leave it," she whispers again, "By the...The conversion is soon. I...I won't need it again."
You note the insinuation that you would have to carry her to her final fate. She clings again, and you catch a shortness of breath. She wants this.
You turn, heading for your meditation cell, a strange, old, familiar emotion arising at the pit of your stomach: Uncertainty.
The Bloodied is empty, save for a few wandering servitors and naval personnel scuttering away from the prying eyes of their superiors. Some stop to look at the strange, combat ready soldier holding on to the small, half made doll. One goes so far as to ask where you are talking the servitor's organics.
She squeezes deeper, and a hot gasp of air is detected by your synth skin suit. The helpful HUD also informs that moisture is being two streams running across the armored sneaking suit.
"Attend your duties," you whisper as you move along.
The cell is small, true. It was not built for comfort. Still holding her with one arm, you, after a moment, reach for the wall, and set the cot down you had folded away, convinced it would never be used. It takes up the whole six foot length, and squeezes a third away of the six foot width, of the room.
"The...The lights are out," she whispers. It is easy to forget the world you see is different from theirs. You reach, flick a switch never before touched. A bulb buzzs, crawls to a gloom dispelling yellow glow.
You sit in the cot, as she looks around.
"Barren...Well, I. I guess it's at least all yours?"
She purses her lip, and slowly relaxes her arm, slipping off your neck, as you ease her down, upon her lap. She is quivering again.
"You are cold."
"Mmm," she shakes her head, vigorously back and forth, "Mmmnmmm, no, no, I'm...I'm not...Hhhnn, I'm just..." Her eyes run, as her face crumples up, stitches stretching, "I'm...I'mmmm."
She weeps. She folds into you, your HUD, popping up, informing you her temperature, her height, weight, blood pressure, heartrate, armaments (None) and her threat rating, and starts weeping.
Your visor blinks complaints of warm, salt water running over your legs, as you stare down at the guidance system for the Imperium of Man's next weapon system.
Her fingers dig across your abdominals, her tears and sobs of stopped now, as she clenches her teeth together, soft grinding coming to your enhanced ears. It hurts her, to feel the nerves meeting raw behind the steel, but she can't help it.
She was only sixteen.
- 1) Try to figure out how to comfort her.
- 2) Give her some time.
- 3) Ask her for what she needs.
- 4) ?????
For a moment, you think, you remember familiar scenes of this time and time again through the sights of your scope, the scenes playing out as the Emperor's wrath fell upon them, how the younger ones would panic. Fall to tears. How people comforted them.
For a moment, you reach for her. Then, you realize you have no idea how to do this. You would mimic displays watched from miles away.
"Be strong," you mumble, regretting as soon as you start it, "For the Emperor."
She quiets, a little. You wait. You give her time. She sniffs, looks up, her eye red, supported by her one arm, her face a sodden mess, "Forgive me my Lord, I," she whispers, "I just don't want, don't want this." She hesitates, looks at you. Whispers another apology, plucking at the hem of her shirt, she tries to wipe up the tears on your synskin. Carefully, you put a hand behind her, keeping her from falling.
You don't know what exactly she had done, to offend the Preachers of the Omnissiah. She was alone on this craft, a young apprentice of the Ecclesiarchy at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Pure luck, that you were there, seeing her mangled, torn near to pieces and almost as one with the machine as she was intended to be now. In truth, you had more pressing matters. But you were on your way anyway. She was crying out, and the enginseers were clamoring about her.
When you finally had reached her the recoil had torn apart her left side. She had been blinded by a piece of her flying femur. The tech priests were halfway to firing again by the time you tore her out of there. Running down the corridors, a shrieking package with bloody strings dangling off of it-
Truly generous medicae had saved her.
"But now, my cost outweighs my benefits," she whispered, "And I, I had damaged some systems. The Adeptus Mechanus lay claim to me, by right of treaty. There is no other way for me to repay my sins, they say. Father Martell agrees with them."
Her eye looked down, "I do not hate them, for they are right, and we are voyaging to blessed crusade; all are ready to be martyrs, for the cause. But," she bit her lip, "I, I, I, haven't lived. I wanted, I wanted to see Terra, at least once. To touch the Emperor's gate. To bend knee outside the chorus, or-" Her eyes travel up to you, then stop as she looks down again.
She lapses into silence for two, three minutes, before, with some effort crawling back onto the cot, touching the wall, leaning into you.
- 1) What the fuck are you gonna say? Wait her out.
- 2) Say, "wait here", and risk death by trying to fix things for the better for her?
- 3) Hugzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
She's warm. It is not that the cold bothers you- but the simple human contact, her earnest desire to be as close as possible-
You feel her hand wrap around yours, lifting it, and places it on her thigh, as she places herself in the crook of your arm. The eyes, still went, run across your ribs. Her nose runs across your side, before she settles her cheek next to your heart. She looks up at you, gulps.
"It's not long and..." She breathes, slowly, "I want my l-l-last moments to be happy- with, with you!" She interjects at the end, blushing at her oversight.
Her breathing accelerates. She's waiting for you to do something-
Footsteps, a chorus of three, coming down the hall. 56 meters and closing. The tell tale squeak of poorly maintained wheels confesses their intent.
- 1) Give her a final moment with you.
- 2) Just hold her.
- 3) Ready your weapon.
- 4) Say goodbye.
- 5) ?????
Again, a flicker of memory. She leans into you. Her heart beat increases, her lone arm reaches for your mask, the foot steps drawing near, she for a moment glancing at the door in fear-
The mask slides off your face and for an instant you feel naked, ashamed, terrified. You're never supposed to take off your mask when dealing with others. The mask is supposed to be your new face, your only face.
Yet, for a sixteen year old girl doomed by misfortune to be lobotomized, its somehow easy as drawing breath to defy years of training and indoctrination.
She stares, open mouthed, uncaring of her shattered teeth and scarred body, shocked and surprised.
"You-" She whispers, "You're-" She doesn't have time to stammer an apology as you take hold of her and draw her in.
Behind her ribcage, her heart flutters like a bird in a frenzy, and for a moment she stiffens in fear- before eagerly diving back into you, drawing close, pulling herself off the cot and into you, her tongue darting into your mouth, surprising you. For too short a moment, you melt into one another, losing all grasp of responsibility, position, duty-
The door opens, and you both jerk away from one another. The Mechanicus is there, smiling. "Funny," he whispers, silver rimmed teeth flashing between studded lips, before he falls into business.
His hand raises, a metallic claw pointing, choosing the lamb, "It is time for redemption, Sister Sinai." A mite theatrical, like a common actor playing the role of the reaper.
Two navvies flank the tech priest, nervous. Unsure whether or not they had breached imperial secrets. You feel the girl next to you relax, slipping her grip upon you, "Th-thank you, you're..." She looks up into your face, composed, sad, but accepting of her fate, "I am lucky, to meet one like you, to pity me so."
- 1) "..."
- 2) "You have a beauty that no scar could dim. You are the kind one."
- 3) "You don't have to go."
- 4) ??????
"You don't have to go."
The Adeptus Mechanicus snorted then, raising an eyebrow.
"Excuse me?" "She doesn't need to go," you reply matter of factly. It was the truth. The charges were fomented by a tech priest desiring to make clear dominance in a match against the Ecclesiarchy upon the ship. Sister Sinai was a victim of an accident, certainly not a malicious vandal working against the tech priests.
"Assassin," the tech priest began charitably, waving to the two navvies flanking behind, who nervously ready their weapons, "I do not wish to appear curt, especially against one who is filled with the blessings of the machine god, BUT," the electric tone raises, overwhelming what natural noise there used to be, "I SHALL NOT BE DELAYED BY YOUR WISH TO SATE YOUR CARNAL LUSTS!" He pauses then, hisses, "If you keep this up, I shall have no choice BUT to call your inquisitor."
Beside you, Sister Sinai quailed, insisting that all calm down, that she'd be willing to go, she wishes only to serve the Emperor. The tech priest appears unwilling to compromise.
- 1) Let it go.
- 2) Condition 4; Negotiation.
- 3) Condition 3; Intimidation.
- 4) Condition 2; Coercion.
- 5) Condition 1; Elimination.
Silence. It is regrettable, you reflect, after considering your options. You were coming close to something before the indoctrination.
Two navvies. Flechette guns- one sawed off. In the cell, those whirring pieces of metal would make for an ad-hoc blender. Killing the two fools, small comfort as it would mean your's and the primary's death.
"Does your silence mean cooperation, or do you suffer from some malfunction?" "V-Vindicare?"
The simplest way would be to use the Exitus pistol- only five rounds in the magazine however. Reserve it. Three men, especially with the main threat drawing closer did not require expenditure of munitions.
"Oh no," whispers Sister Sinai, "Oh no oh no oh no oh no," Her eyes widen in peripheral vision. She expects it. So does the tech priest, stepping forward, drawing some augmetic or another.
Sister Sinai shrinks away. Good girl.
Your boot slams into his chest, meeting steel plating, causing the tech priest to stumble back, chuckling, brandishing a drill hand, and obscuring the shot of the two navvies beyond the narrow door. From the noise of it, the dermal plates were a slap job on his part. The navvies cry out, as the tech thinks that a drill is an effective weapon.
You duck under, grasp the arm firmly at the wrist, then reach with your bionic arm. He struggles, has some enhancements, a tough one, the drill is spinning sputtering and kicking- ah.
You feel the top of the dermal plate, and will your bionic to grip as hard as it can, and pull. The Adeptus Mechanicus shrieks. While the steel might be strong, the flesh surrounding it is weaker. The collar bone pops out before the left navvy, the bearded and jumpier looking one decides to just shoot through the tech priest.
A few get sputter through the plate, embed themselves in your syn skin. The rest finish the job you started on the tech priest. The right navvy comes through, gun first as the tech priest starts to crumple. The drill arm is still going as you toss it at him.
Hot blood spatters across your cheek as you roll into the hall, drawing inaccurate fire from the bearded navvy. He spares a second to see the red road of ruin running down his comrade's body left by the tech priest's drill before you're on him.
He fires again, and you feel hot gunpowder kiss your cheek. One hand has to grab the knife he attempts to draw, the other the gun he holds. You bring your forehead into his nose, hard.
Three times his breaking nose echoes in the hall, and he falters each time. First to his knees, then he is only held up by your strength alone, then before he can plea for mercy, you push the nose the last few inches into his brain.
A short step on the screaming navvy's throat ends his cries, the drill caught in his belly, uselessly attempting to turn through, jammed with gore and intestine.
In less than a minute, the combat is over. Not quiet, but definitely quick. You step over the growing puddle of blood, to stand in your cell's entrance.
Sister Sinai curls in the corner, wide eyed, blood spattered, shivering in her cassock, staring at you. Terrified.
- 1) Calm her down.
- 2) Go and do what must be done- she doesn't need to understand what you do to be saved.
- 3) Whoopsie. Maybe go back before traumatizing her?
- 4) Kill her. Complete all objectives, wait on your cot for the Inquisitor's assessment.
You linger, for a moment in the door. She stares, gasping shallow breaths- a few of her stitches have come loose. For a moment, you step forward, reach out, to help her, to wipe away the blood, but she flinches, cries out, throws her hands over her head.
Your hand, halfway to her face stops, curls up, then drops to your side. Back to the mission. You step by the shivering girl, snatch up your mask, pulling it over your face. You kick the ruined corpses clear of the door and into the hall, shutting the girl in your cell.
Your last glimpse before door closes is of the girl staring down, color drained, shivering, looking at the blood spatter on her hand.
The hall is empty, aside from the corpses. The Bloodied wasn't fully staffed as it was, and with the preparations for the drop onto Kronus underway, there was little sense in dallying when there was work to be done. All is quiet, aside from the thrum of the ship.
- 1) Dispose of the evidence, before someone notices.
- 2) Take advantage of the initiative, attempt to find the Magos to pressure him into sparing the girl before someone else comes to collect her.
- 3) Find Inquisitor Madek.
- 4) ?????
You breathe out, sigh. Fear. Something that was long gone in yourself, beaten out by the hammer of war and the anvil of training. It's almost nostalgic, recalling it now. What little scraps there are to recollect, those little holes that you can only guess at what used to be inside.
You kneel down, your hand reaching out for hers. her three fingers seem cold through even your thick gloves. She looks at you with hope.
"Your fear betrays a lack of faith. See the Chaplain," Your hand leaves hers, "And leave me be."
Odd feeling, seeing her eyes. You stand and walk off, looking away, as the quivering redoubles, muscles slacken, and she slides down. An Adeptus Mechanicus runs past, an eager look in his eye, as you reach, grasping one of the few pieces he hasn't sold over to iron and steel. He looks into your visor, as you gauge him. He scowls, and says, "I'll get her eventually anyway, what is it to you?"
Bionic gifts squeeze, as your thumb and forefinger come together, meeting at the clavicle. A dry bitter snap like a twig.
As he screams, and you walk off, you realize that this somehow alleviates the odd feeling. You should report to your psychologist handler at the next opportunity.