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Saturday, April 24, 2010

By All Means

The note lay artistically pinned under the severed mass of cables. One corner stuck out imploringly, which the Chaplain snatched as the rest of 10 Squad piled into the chamber.
"'Beloved Brother-Chaplain Goldi...'" Goldi's metal voice was terrifyingly calm. "'By the time you read this missive, I will have left the ship, along with Metalon, the Mad Squad and Soji and some of his Death Guard. We are bringing the Orphan. And we have released from stasis and are bringing away the suspect dreadnought 4saken1.

Soji's Detatchment

"'I apologize for this utter affront to your honour and to our friendship, but my homeworld will be avenged - by all means necessary.
"'Your internalization of your grief at the loss of our world serves only to drive you on into warfare, and has no rational extension to the original problem. By purging the universe of Varius, Nosteromo and the fiend Dragger and their ilk, may we not save all of their prospective victims, anywhere?
"'It saddens me to leave you behind. You have been a true friend.
"'Signed Esqyuin E588 Fortunus Morus Kyoob.
"'Wolfram High Forgemaster.'"
Chaplain Goldi's ancient skull felt like it would shatter with all the energy contorting where his facial muscles once ran.
He crushed the synbond of the note in his gauntleted fist, and felt his body start to quake with rage.


Metalon sighed, as best he could.
"You venting gas?" asked Kyoob, his full harness whirring as he worked and worked.

"Me? No, no... it's just..."
Kyoob heaved a sigh of his own. "Leaving them behind."
"They may even come after us. Our battle-brothers."
"I know. But they... after all we lost, their choice was..."
"Do not presume now to say they derelict their duty," said Metalon, shrugging Kyoob's fine needles and pincers out of his ventral compartment. Kyoob stood back, a little warily, from the behemoth and wiped his gloves on a rag, shaking his head. "Lon, I would not suffer to hear those words either. In this life, we have merely to see the way for ourselves, not pass judgement on others, least of all..." They both stared out the vacdome at the speeding distorted goo of the Warp.
Metalon broke the frustrated impasse. "Are you almost finished? I'm feeling restless..."
"Nearly done," said Kyoob absently, cleaning the tip of an elegantly bent servo-arm.
"What have you been doing all this time in there??"
"Lon, I need you mad for this..."


Goldi cursed the traitor dreadnoughts, cursed that flea-bitten space-station and cursed above all, Kyoob's flim-flam affability in quelling his suspicions. The whole thing with 4saken1 had stunk; but Kyoob just seemed to shrug it off:
"If what he stated is true, we now have a sane Brother interred in an Astartes Dreadnought hull, which was previously just occupied by a traitor of Chaos, Emperor damn its bodiless soul."
"B-b-b-but the machine spirit..." one of the helots had blubbered.
"Dreadnoughts are not actuated by machine spirits. The suit is clean. And one of our Brothers speaks from within it..."
"Get it out of my sight," was all Goldi had grated.
How could he have ever been so foolish?


Las-fire crackled through the air with the shouts of drilled Guardsmen along the catwalk and the grim grinding of oncoming tanks. Kyoob was on the vox, crouched behind a building as around him, the Mad Squad tried to keep balanced on the narrow strip of pavement between the back of the building and the steaming, toxic-smelling river. An armed transport was coming up their flank. "Mr. Causton, I do not have time to parse your incessant complaining right now." He flapped at the Madders to move on to the datapoint. They would take some fire, but the archeotech mounted in the squad's standard would help.
"But the cargo... it was a Defiler!!"

"Looks like a Defiler," repeated Kyoob impatiently.
"Sir... a Defiler!!!!"
"Looks like a Defiler," said Kyoob and severed the link. He rose and jogged out to the damaged dreadnought. "Stiff little prat."
He looked up from his work for a moment, just in time to see Soji on the tower arch his back unnaturally and vomit out a huge, nightmareous mass of black and tines.
Kyoob was dumbfounded, as the multi-melta he'd just repaired was shot away, all he could do was gaze at the impudent blasphemy as it started cleaving Guardsmen with its gigantic slashing blade.

A call came in from Causton on the ship. "Sir, we're picking up a sword-shaped object? on radar??"
Kyoob's jaw was slack. "I..."
A stray shot from the Imperial side clipped him between his pauldron and chestplate and spanged off into some dingy corner. Black blood dripped down as he watched it spatter, then looked up again as the impossibility warbled a triumphant scream from out of its fetid jaws.

"I... know... it's Sedub... it must be..."
Then 4saken1 rounded on him.


He remembered bleeding, he remembered diving into a Land Raider, somehow there was the Orphan from somewhere. He remembered digging deep, he remembered working up enough fury to hurl himself at a mass of Imperial Ogryns, the mass in which his assailant, 4saken1, was haply drowning, his arm and legs torn off.

The assault ramp clanging open to those horrible sounds, the wall of seething rippled flesh and savage metal appendages, talons, claws... then blackness.
Then the instantly familiar thrum of 80by4e06020 special 8 over 66. Inarguably. His engine.
Kyoob opened his eyes in the surgical suite. He chuckled. "Aptiman."
The droid giggled. "I was saved by a big metal spider. He stood over me and protected me. Isn't life exciting??"
"Am I..."
"You're your old copy, I'm finishing rerezzing your body and your equipment. Just updated your memory."
"Beautiful. How lucky my leggy new friend succeeded!"
"Lucky," said Nosteromo.


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