Hank is a Co-Admin that helps run the Guild.


Recent Statuses

5 days ago
Current Thanks for all the congratulations and well wishes, everyone. Much love!
6 days ago
For those still unaware; I'm going to be a father! Girlfriend is currently 26 weeks pregnant with a little girl. :)
4 mos ago
It's my birthday! :D
7 mos ago
5 year anniversary with my girlfriend today. Thought it would be a funny date back then because of April Fools but also because I wouldn't forget it. Logic held up so far.
1 yr ago
Staff members don't show up as "profile visitors". Y'all never know how much I'm creeping... *winks aggressively*


Original join date: August 2008
Moderator since: 20 January 2016
Co-admin since: 5 May 2017

26-year-old Dutch guy living in Amersfoort, NL, with my girlfriend. I love Italian food and German beer. Also Belgian beer. And Dutch beer... just beer, really. Other than roleplaying my favorite pastimes are playing videogames, going on roadtrips through eastern Europe and scrunching up my face when the DJ drops Russian hardbass.

In the old version of the Guild I was the record holder for 'Most Infraction Points Without Being Permabanned'.

My primary roleplaying genres are fantasy and science fiction. Big fan of The Elder Scrolls, Warhammer 40,000, Mass Effect, Fallout and others.

Most Recent Posts

Everything that was up became down and vice versa. A split second later, Laura became aware that she was falling. Bizarrely, her first instinct was to clutch the laser rifle holstered across her chest with both hands. What had happened? It had all happened so fast. The sky, the turbulence, the engine.. she remembered seeing the engine catch fire. But why? What was --

Something grabbed her, mid-air, something attached to a voice that the wind snatched away immediately. They were still spinning and falling but Laura suddenly felt strangely safe and sheltered. She couldn’t feel the air tugging on her skin and her clothes anymore. All she could do was clutch her rifle. All she could do was --

Her bones rattled inside of her skin and her brain felt like it was trying to escape through her ears. A terribly loud crash and a sudden sensation of having stopped in the most definitive sense of the word were the last things she heard and felt.

"Hey there, wake up Initiate. You alright?"

Laura’s eyes opened slowly, blinking as her swimming vision slowly resolved into focus. The expressionless helmet of a suit of power armor stared at her. “Paladin?” she murmured inaudibly and sat up straight, her hands going up and down her body and her head to check for injuries, her training kicking in and taking over. Fortunately, almost miraculously, she was free from grievous injury, but her left ankle felt tender and a patch of dark wool on her upper right arm told her that she was bleeding -- but not severely. She blinked a few more times and looked at the soldier again. Not the Paladin, she realized, but the Knight. What was his name? Estanza?

Her fingers found the grip of her laser rifle, its sling still across her torso, and she exhaled slowly, trying to steady her shaking hands. She was armed and alive and she wasn’t alone. That was already more than could be hoped for considering the circumstances. But… how had she ended up here? Where was she? The place looked like an abandoned warehouse.

"Something happened with the Vertibird. Paladin Moss, the Knight Sergeant, you, and I all fell out of it,” the Knight said. Esteves, Laura remembered, that was his name.

“Hey, kid. Shut the hell up,” came another voice, belonging to McDowell.

Laura glanced at him but said nothing. Even without the super sledge, the Knight-Sergeant was intimidating. She looked back at Esteves and nodded. “Yes,” the young woman managed, louder this time, and rolled her jaw. “Yes, I’m alright.”

She climbed to her feet, using the implacable steel of Esteves’ suit for support, and looked through the scope of her rifle. Even the glass lens had survived the descent, and a quick pat-down across her thigh confirmed that her 10mm pistol was still in its holster. That, too, was a miracle. She frowned and tried to recall the details. Someone had grabbed her… she looked at Esteves again and realized that it was his voice that had called out to her during the fall.

“You caught me,” she said. It wasn’t a question. The realization caused her heart to quicken; she’d survived a horrible crash-landing in the arms of a knight in shining armor. She’d be dead, if it weren’t for him. A mixture of gratitude, admiration and embarrassment washed over her. Forcing down the urge to look away and crawl up into a ball, the Initiate placed a hand on the Knight’s arm and conjured the bravest smile she could muster -- before realising that he couldn’t see it behind her gas mask. Maybe it'd extend to her eyes. “Thank you, sir.”

“Where's the Paladin?” McDowell said, but this time he was already gone before she could say anything, stomping out of the warehouse to look for Moss. Laura exchanged a glance with Esteves, his eyes barely visible behind the visor of his power armor, and she chuckled, grateful for the distraction. She desperately needed an objective, something to focus on, and searching for the Paladin was as good of a goal as any. After a final check to make sure that she still had all of her belongings and that she could put her weight on her painful ankle (which she could, but not for too long at once), she followed McDowell outside and took stock of their surroundings.

The sky was red to the south. That was the first thing she noticed. Laura’s eyes widened at the sight and she breathed a curse into her respirator. She’d seen something like that before, when they were forced to divert around the battered slag that was all that remained of Minneapolis. “Rad storm,” she said out loud, and only then looked away to find McDowell presenting himself for duty to the Paladin. Following in his example, Laura clicked her heels together and saluted.

Oddly enough, this was her forte. Deep into unknown territory, potentially surrounded by threats, with nothing more than a few allies to rely on. Laura steeled herself with the knowledge that she was useful now, even if she wasn’t wearing power armor or carrying a gatling laser. Figuring out the lay of the land, steering them clear of trouble and surviving out in the wilderness. It wasn’t what she’d expected out of the Commonwealth, but then again, none of them had.

“Ad victoriam! Initiate Grimshaw, ready for orders as well.” Having said that, Laura looked around and an icy sensation crept into her bones. “Where is the vertibird, sir?” Her thoughts went out to Dr. Kinsley and Chowder. She'd been so excited to see them again.
featuring the ever-lovely @Stormflyx


Laura drew her arms up around her and stiffened in her seat as she felt something wet and enthusiastic pressing into her side. She pressed a hand to her mouth, embarrassed at her exclamation of surprise, and glared at Thaddeus as he sniggered into his beer. He stopped and cleared his throat as he looked away. Grown up or not, he was still the little brother.

The wetness turned out to belong to the nose of a very happy-looking dog. “Hey, boy, you gave me quite a fright there,” Laura cooed to Chowder and leaned down to pet him. That’s when she saw what it was that he’d dropped by her chair: her missing boot. Laughing, Laura pinched his cheek. “So you’re the little rascal that stole my stuff! And here I was blaming the Squires. It’s a good thing you’re so adorable! How can I stay mad at that face?”

Chowder expressed his gratitude by licking her hand.

Meanwhile, Thaddeus, aware of who the dog belonged to, looked around the mess hall and swallowed when he saw Dr. Harper Kinsley standing by the entrance. His head whipped back around and he whispered: “You do know whose dog that is, right?”

“One of the doctors?” Laura said absent-mindedly as she and Chowder were play-wrestling with the boot. It was already covered in drool, she reasoned, so a little more wouldn’t hurt. She would have to clean it up anyway -- but at this point she was just glad to have it back.

“Yeah,” Thaddeus hissed, “and not a nice one. Dr. Kinsley is her name. Just take your boot back and send the dog on his way.”

Frowning, Laura straightened up. “Surely this Dr. Kinsley person can’t be that bad.” As if sensing the doctor’s gaze on her, her eyes were drawn to the auburn-haired woman by the door. Putting on her most affable smile, Laura gestured for Harper to join them.

“Jesus Christ,” Thaddeus muttered.

From the back of the hall, Kinsley took in a sharp breath, drawing her lip into her mouth to bite down on it. Chowder had damaged the boot. At least, that’s what she thought as she pushed her pen back into her ponytail and slipped her free hands into the pockets of her lab coat.

She made her way to the table with measured steps, her eyes were heavy lidded and there was a ringing in her right ear, but she walked onwards regardless. Stopping but a pace from the siblings. Kinsley’s eyes switched between the two of them, and then landed on Chowder, who was rubbing up against Laura happily, his fur sprinkling out like snow with every pet and scratch. Kinsley’s brow creased and she groaned.

“Did he chew a lace out?” She asked, pointing her intense gaze at Laura. “Or did he pull a buckle free?” As always, her voice was mellow. She did not move from her spot, nor did she remove her hands from her pockets - her fingers twitching idly in the comfort of the fabric.

Just to be sure, Laura glanced at the boot again but confirmed that everything was still there -- just slimy and glossier than normal. “No, no, the boot is fine, it just needs a wash,” the Initiate said reassuringly. She felt her smile waver beneath the doctor’s piercing stare, however, and was suddenly aware of why Thaddeus had been so apprehensive. “I love dogs,” she blurted out and gave Chowder another vigorous rub on his head as if to emphasize her point. “It’s just... you see, we didn’t have any in the Vault, and most of the dogs we’ve seen weren’t exactly cared for very well--”

Thaddeus snorted and shook his head. “You can say that again. I’ll never forget that pack of ferals that took Donnelly’s leg off.”

Laura shot him a disapproving glare. “Hush, you,” she hissed and smiled back up at Harper. “I just wanted to say that your dog is very cute.” She scratched Chowder beneath his chin. “What’s his name? Where’d you get him?”

It had been Alex who'd found Chowder. It had been Harper who'd helped him to put the wriggling pup into a box with a ribbon for their daughter. She remembered cutting the holes in the box for the run beforehand. A breath caught in her throat when her mind conjured up the image of her then toddler's face pulling at the purple fabric.

She remained staring at Chowder, never blinking as she waited for the moment to pass. "I found him in the wasteland," she lied, following it up with as much of a smile as she could, for the second or two before it felt too heavy to hold up. "His name is Chowder," she said with a slightly embarrassed sigh. "He has his own backpack," she added, looking at the young Initiate again.

"He likes you," she commented, removing a hand from her pocket to gesture. "He likes most people… But he seems to really like you."

Laura audibly gasped. “You have your own backpack?” she asked Chowder and tried to picture him with it on. “Aww, that’s adorable!” She looked back up at the doctor and grinned. “Well, I really like him too. I bet he’s smart enough to tell. He seems like a man that knows who his friends are,” the Initiate said. Sure, the lady had an odd manner, but she didn’t seem so bad.

“You did a good thing, rescuing him from the wasteland,” she added with sincerity.

Still visibly awkward, Thaddeus got to his feet. “I saw someone I know at the bar. You mind if I…?”

Laura waved him away. Relieved, her brother made his way through the crowd. “I’m Laura and that’s my brother, Thaddeus,” she explained. “Don’t mind him. He gets shy around strangers. You’re Dr. Kinsley, right?” she asked and glanced at the now-empty chair.

Finally, Kinsley blinked - several times in quick succession before taking the seat. She watched Thaddeus walk away, sensing that it was her, and not something else that had really had him leave. It mattered not.

"That's me." Her eyes drifted to Chowder, who was in a state of absolute bliss with his new friend. Reclining himself onto her with his eyes closed and tongue hanging from the side of his mouth. Droplets of his own drool at their feet, beaded down his legs. Kinsley shook her head and laughed slightly. "It's nice to meet you Laura," she said as she placed her elbows on the table, pushing a thumb to the corner of her eye. "You may see his backpack soon… We're leaving for a mission before long. Off the Prydwen, that is."

Laura’s smile widened. It was her experience that people, even the gruff and standoffish types, opened up with a little effort. “It’s nice to meet you too, doctor,” she said, but what Harper told her next made her eyes widen. “Tomorrow morning at 0400?” she asked in a hushed voice.

Kinsley nodded slowly, "got my request today… I believe that's what it said. I have to pack our things tonight," she hadn't cottoned on to the implication immediately, not until there had been a pregnant pause. She twisted her head to Laura's direction, pointing a finger at her; "ah!" she realised. "You too. Well then, you'll have him with you for company." The doctor pressed that finger against Chowder's nose.

"Have you got your medical clearance?" She quizzed, shifting in her seat some. She hadn't seen this Initiate in the clinic before. Although, even if Laura had been there… Kinsley didn't always pay attention unless they were on her table. Maybe the girl had been along earlier and that was where the dog had got her scent in the first place.

Her initial excitement at the prospect of traveling with Chowder and Dr. Kinsley was replaced with a rush of heat to her cheeks as it dawned on Laura that she’d forgotten something. “Fuck,” she whispered and clamped her hand over her mouth for the second time that evening. “Pardon my language, doctor,” Laura added sheepishly and ran a hand through her hair. “That’s something I should do, isn’t it? I was so caught up making sure I had all of my gear and supplies and drawing Knight-Captain Reddon’s portrait that I forgot all about it.”

She tapped a finger against her lips and frowned. “Is there still a doctor on call at the med bay at this hour? Or… do you think you could…?”

So that's who she was. The artist. The doctor had heard whispers of an Initiate offering her services. It all felt a bit like the more narcissistic members of the crew were enjoying that a bit too much… Showing off their portraits to each other. It had become something of a fashion statement.

Kinsley stared at her again, differently this time - it was the stare of brief examination. She moved closer to the girl's face, squinting as she took in the details over her skin. "Hmmm… You're young, you look healthy. Unblemished. You won't need too much of an exam, Laura," she said, pulling away swiftly. "Come by whenever. I can do a formal sign off following some questions." She then got to her feet, and as if by a silent command, Chowder shifted from Laura's side back to Kinsley's.

Grateful, Laura nodded. “I’ll come by in a little bit then, doctor. Thank you.” It wasn’t just the willingness to complete the formal sign off that she was grateful for and she resisted the urge to smile. Unblemished. That she was, and proud of it, too.

Thaddeus returned to the table after the doctor and her loyal pet had left with two new beers in his hands and a puzzled look on his face. “Well?”

Laura sighed and flicked a beer mat at him. “She’s not bad at all, Thad! You should really be more patient with people. She agreed to sign off my medical clearance, you know.”

He snorted. “Better you than me.”

An hour later, after Laura and Thaddeus had said their goodbyes, the Initiate knocked on the doorframe of the med bay. “Dr. Kinsley? It’s Laura, I’ve come for that sign off.”

Meanwhile, the doctor had been keeping herself busy with the task of sterilising her tools. They were all lined up in a hot water bath, doused with disinfectant, doing their time until they were ready to be packed into her surgical roll. On the side of her desk, a number of bandages and other medical supplies - also waiting to be packed.

Having anticipated Laura's arrival, Dr Kinsley had placed a paper sheet over her exam table, and for good measure had rolled out a cloth partition. It was unlikely that anyone else would come by at this hour - but she was stringent in following her processes.

"Come in," Kinsley called out - her voice still quiet and slightly fragile. In the furthest corner, Chowder had curled himself into a tight ball, fast asleep. Only the bubbling of water and his snores could be heard within the med bay. "Just take a seat on the table… I'll be a moment," her tone and mannerisms pithy as always.

Laura did as she was told and made herself as comfortable as possible on the metal table. Even through the fabric of her fatigues she could feel the chill of its touch on her buttocks. That's one thing she didn't like about life with the Brotherhood. Everything was so spartan. But she smiled at the sight of Chowder fast asleep and forgot all about the cold metal. The idea that the bond between humans and dogs has survived the apocalypse gave her hope. Not all good things were out of the world just yet.

She considered Dr. Kinsley for a moment. The older woman was obviously intelligent, otherwise she wouldn't have been a doctor, but Laura couldn't help but notice a dullness where there should be a sharpness, in her mind, and a sharpness where there should be a softness, in her eyes. Laura had seen that look before, when she was a child. A recon team had come back decimated -- fortunately not her father's. It was the first time the Vault had learned of the existence of Deathclaws, though they came up with a different name.

It was all the men had been able to day. A demon. Dr. Kinsley had seen her own demons, but what could they be?

"Ready when you are, doctor," Laura said.

Kinsley picked up a tray carefully, several tools were placed across it. Nothing sharp, nothing that looked painful - just standard fare. A torch, a tongue depressor - amongst other things. The woman quietly shuffled to Laura, peering around the partition with a small smile. "I think you're fine, but I have some questions… Illness is commonplace in the wasteland. Better I know about you in case, well…" she stared blankly at the Initiate on the table, regarding her with a more curious gaze than she usually would - letting her eyes linger longer.

The doctor placed the tray down, and stepped in front of Laura, her eyes upon a pad of paper now, far from focussed on Laura at all. "Have you been ill before?" She asked first, and without waiting for an answer she followed it up herself; "are you prone to stomach aches, headaches, muscular pains, sore throat…?"

There was something about Kinsley’s gaze that made Laura want to squirm, as if to avoid her scrutiny, but she forced herself to sit still. “I had bronchitis once, as a child,” she answered the question and frowned as she tried to recall more instances of illness. “But I’m not prone to any of those things, no. I mean… I have nightmares,” Laura added, her voice dropping a little. “Sometimes… well, often. Does that count?”

“Depends,” Kinsley said with a shrug of her shoulders, placing the pad down as she placed her hands as carefully and unobtrusively as she could on Laura - starting with her neck, placing two fingers either side of her - just below the ears. “How often? Is it recurring imagery? Accompanied by other symptoms? Sweating, shaking, chest pains…?”

Satisfied with her findings, she picked up her torch, placing a finger below the girl’s chin to tilt her head upwards. She shone the penlight at Laura’s blue eyes - just enough to check that her eyes too, were fine. Her manner was meticulous and clinical - leaving little room for small talk or comforting words.

The way Kinsley went about her examination reminded Laura of the doctor in the Vault and she relaxed a little. “I get them about once a week. Used to be more frequent right after… right after we got here,” she explained and exhaled slowly. “Right after we got to D.C. And yeah, sweating, uh… what do you call that, shortness of breath? That, and it’s like I can’t move when I wake up.” She bit her lip. Her fingers fidgeted with the fabric of her pants by her knees. “Like there’s something standing at the foot of my bed.”

Laura took a deep breath and smiled. “Silly, I know, they’re just dreams,” she said, followed by a brave attempt at a laugh.

"Well, yes. They're just dreams. But once a week is well over excessive for such night terrors… Usually a symptom of another problem…" Kinsley explained, suddenly interested in gazing into Laura's eyes again, the clinical and cold visage slipping to reveal a worried frown.

"So," she began, clucking her tongue as she broke eye contact and looked up. "They're also not just dreams. If we're to leave and venture out I may need to prescribe you something to… keep the things away from the foot of your bed." With pen and paper in hand, she scrawled against the paper, the corners of her mouth twitching to a half smile. "Can't… Can't promise it'll cure you of it completely, but it will at least help…" she folded the script, and placed it beside Laura on the table.

She blanched at that and swallowed hard. Medication? Laura wanted to open her mouth and protest, to say that it wasn’t that bad, she’d managed this far, how being with the Brotherhood helped, they’d be with Paladin Moss, everything was going to be fine, and most importantly, that she didn’t want to look weak to the others. But she bit her tongue. She was raised to trust the doctor and their orders and if Kinsley thought that it was necessary to help her keep her wits about her in the field, then so be it. Seeing the doctor’s impassive expression momentarily reveal a glimpse of concern was unsettling enough.

“So,” Laura said, echoing Kinsley, and cleared her throat. “What else? I promise I don’t have any further medical concerns.” She looked down at her hands sheepishly.

Kinsley placed her hands at her sides and tilted her head, giving her one last look over. "No. You're in very good health. Good eyes, healthy nodes, temperature is fine, positive spirit… Is your cycle regular?" She asked, glancing sidelong at the girl as she began collecting up her equipment from the table.

Suddenly and without warning, Laura missed her mother terribly. She nodded at first before realising that Kinsley wasn’t looking at her as she was packing up her tools. “Yes, it’s fine,” she said. “It’s… I’m not…” Laura took a deep breath and conjured a smile. “I’m focusing on my work and my training. It’s regular.”

“It’s healthy to stay busy, but remember to rest,” the doctor answered - oblivious to the shifts in Laura’s demeanour, and especially so to the longing that she was experiencing for her mother. Kinsley simply walked away from the table, tools in hand. “Recreation is healthy too, a balanced life... You know, blah blah,” she found herself saying aloud - as if her words were simply recited from the same page she’d been reciting from for over two decades. She looked over her shoulder, “I just mean — don’t focus so much on one thing and miss out on others while you’re young, is all.”

Kinsley approached the back of the room, turning off the burner for her equipment. The bubbling subsided. “Monotony is...” her already soft voice drifted even more so as she found the irony in her own words, “a dangerous, slow burning illness.”

Laura considered herself pretty good at reading people and prided herself on that skill, but she thought that even a total blunt could have sensed the hard vacuum in the room centered on Kinsley. She felt a pang of sympathy for the doctor and wondered again what it was that she’d been through that had burned the life out of her eyes.

“Then maybe a change of scenery will do us good!” she said brightly, her use of the plural pronoun an educated guess. “Do you…. know anything about the mission? The message was so sparse, but, well, you’re a Senior Scribe, so…” Laura got to her feet and, before Kinsley could even respond, waved dismissively with her hand. “But if you’re not allowed to tell me, that’s fine, I understand.”

Kinsley sighed, narrowing her eyes to try to recall any specifics beyond the meeting time and place; if there were any within the message, she hadn’t paid enough attention - clearly. “Only the when and where, Initiate,” she answered, her tone slightly clipped as she remembered that - not only was she the doctor, but that she was seen as some kind of authoritative figure in the hierarchy of the Brotherhood. She didn’t care too much for it, not at all. Her mind was only ever occupied with the vial, and with Chowder’s remaining days. It was never too exhausting to act the part, however.

“Just the time and place,” she repeated as she looked down and away from Laura. “So I’ll see you there,” she spoke, setting an air of finality down between them both. No smiles, no goodbyes, just sterile silence.

“Oh,” was what escaped Laura’s lips without thinking. The tone that Kinsley adopted was sufficiently similar to that of the drill sergeants for Laura’s training to kick in and she straightened up, pressing a clenched fist to her chest. “Of course. Thank you, doctor. Ad victoriam.” She inclined her head in a final gesture of gratitude and she swiped up the prescription from the table before turning on her heels and marching out the door.

Once she was out into the bowels of the airship, Laura exhaled the breath she had subconsciously been holding in and rubbed her temples. “Damn,” she muttered. Overfamiliarity with a senior officer was an inherent risk in her personable way of dealing with people and it wasn’t the first time she had been subtly reminded of that fact. Pausing beneath an overhead lamp, Laura unfolded the piece of paper.

Canine companionship, each evening, as long as required.

Laura had to read it twice before it sank in and she began to laugh.
In Hmmm. 8 days ago Forum: Introduce Yourself
Hi there, @Fugitive. Can you rephrase your question in proper English?
The creaking of the Prydwen’s hull and the dull throbbing of its engines as it maintained anchor over the Capital Wasteland were only interspersed by the sound of Laura’s pencils flying across the off-white pages of her sketchbook. Bold lines, drawn with confidence, carved out the countenance of Knight-Captain Reddon while soft shading and gentle touches of the graphite filled in the blanks. Her eyes, wellsprings of crystalline blue, flitted between the drawing and Reddon’s own face and she frowned, pressing the bottom of her pencil against her pursed lips.

He was seated opposite her in the unused nook of the Prydwen that she used as her studio. The Scribes that dwelled and worked in this part of the airship had initially grumbled at her intrusion but quickly changed their tune and tolerated her presence after she’d drawn them each a flattering portrait. Reddon’s face was cast in a stark contrast of light and shadow by the light fixture that hung from the low, rivet-studded ceiling. His makeshift seat was an empty crate that Laura had confiscated when no one was looking, and his empty suit of power armor stood by the entrance into the cranny, as if standing sentry for nosy intruders.

There was something intimate about drawing someone’s portrait, Laura thought, and she hated being disturbed while she was working. As such, she was quietly grateful for the notion that the sight of the Knight-Captain’s suit would scare off the Squires that roamed the lower decks of the Prydwen and did their best to be a pain in everyone’s ass… as adorable as they were.

“Is there something wrong?” Reddon asked, having noticed the frown on Laura’s face. He glanced away from her face when she met his gaze and went back to looking straight ahead like she’d ordered -- it was much easier to draw someone if they weren’t moving, after all.

She smiled and motioned reassuringly with her free hand. “No, everything is alright, you’re doing great. I was just thinking about which technique to apply, that’s all.”

“Oh,” Reddon said. He cleared his throat and shifted on his crate a little. “That’s good.”

The truth was that Laura wasn’t giving Reddon’s portrait her undivided attention. She took a deep breath and straightened up, putting her thoughts about the mission out of her mind. It wasn’t fair to the Knight-Captain. They’d set the date for his sitting weeks ago, after all. That this happened to be the last day before her departure to lands unknown was a coincidence and a consummate professional wouldn’t let that affect their work.

But it was so very hard not to think about the mission…

After an hour had passed, Laura cleared her throat and got up from her own seat -- a real chair, of course -- and gently tore the page from the sketchbook. Paper was hard to come by so as much as Laura would have liked an easel with a large canvas to work with, she had to make due with a supply of sketchbooks that the Brotherhood had liberated from an old factory a few years ago. Her heartbeat quickened as she handed the portrait to the Knight-Captain. That first moment of judgement always made her nervous, no matter how many times she’d gone through it by now, and no matter how sure she was that her work was good. Reddon’s face embodied several of the noble qualities that Laura admired in the Brotherhood of Steel and she’d had to suppress her awe while she worked on immortalizing the Knight-Captain’s strong jaw and heavy brow. She’d been with the Brotherhood for a few years now but that feeling never changed. They were still nothing short of heroes to her.

Fortunately, his face lit up immediately when he looked upon Laura’s rendition of himself. “Wow, I don’t know what to say,” Reddon said and glanced up at her with sincere gratitude in his eyes. “Thank you, Initiate.”

Her tense shoulders sagged with relief and she reciprocated his smile with a wide one of her own. She hadn’t known the man before he approached her with the familiar commission for a portrait; evidence that her fame was spreading throughout more than her own circle within the Brotherhood. “You’re very welcome, Knight-Captain,” she replied and inclined her head, still beaming.

“So what do I owe you?” the man said as he got to his feet as well and reached into his pockets.

“Standard rate is thirty caps,” Laura answered. She hadn’t known Reddon before he’d approached her, but she had made sure to do her research on the man in the weeks between their first meeting and this appointment, and discovered that he was something of a rising star in the Brotherhood’s ranks. “But you were so well-behaved -- as a model, I mean, sir -- that twenty-five caps is all I’d be comfortable accepting. Most of the men… well, you know what they’re like,” she continued, rolled her eyes and laughed. “Nothing short of a miracle if they sit still for more than two minutes.”

Reddon laughed and nodded as he counted out the caps. “That’s very kind of you, Initiate,” and she saw the glint of budding affection in his eyes, much to her satisfaction. One could never have too many friends in the Brotherhood, especially someone with a little ambition.

After Reddon re-entered his suit and stomped away, Laura gathered up her drawing instruments in her arms and made her way back to the Initiates’ quarters, which was little more than a few rows of beds and footlockers over the power armor bay -- loud, crowded and filthy. Laura longed for the day of her Knighthood and the much more private quarters that such a rank would afford.

She ignored the other Initiates that were there, who were stood in a circle and yelling at something with great and unintelligible enthusiasm. It could be anything, from an impromptu wrestling match to an intense round of dice or cards, but she had greater things on her mind. Much to her chagrin Laura discovered that one half of the finest pair of boots that she owned was missing and she was forced to exchange her leisure shoes for her second-best pair of boots, muttering an aimless insult at the imaginary Squire she pictured in her mind as having made off with her boot while smoothing over some severe creases in the leather by the toes of her left foot. Instead of going back into their usual place in the locker, Laura stuffed her pencils and her sketchbook into the rucksack she’d already prepared for the mission.

The mission…

The pace of her heart quickened again. She glanced at the time on her pocket watch and hastened to tie her shoelaces. Thaddeus would already be waiting for her in the mess hall.

Unbeknownst to her, she missed Paladin Moss by a hair’s breadth and stepped into the mess hall to the usual raucous noise of Knights recalling their glory and the excited, animated conversations of Scribes discussing new discoveries. The loud voice of the Knight-Sergeant that she knew as McDowell carried over the din but she wasn’t listening to him, for her brother Thaddues beckoned for her to join him by one of the tables. A bottle of lager already awaited her. She met his grin with a grateful smile and the two siblings clinked their bottles together as soon as she sat down.

“Ad victoriam,” they said together.

“Spill it,” Thaddeus said immediately, wasting no time. His hair was the same shade of black and his eyes were the same hue of sapphirine, but they were evidently not twins; Thaddeus had their father’s gaunt cheeks and deep-set gaze as opposed to Laura’s full and open face. A scar across his mouth had once split his lips in twain and he spoke with a slight lisp. He must have only just finished his shift, Laura realized, for his overalls were still stained with oil and grease.

“I’m leaving tomorrow morning,” Laura responded in kind. Her eyes were brimming with equal parts excitement and nervousness. “Really early. Mission details were sparse. Very sparse. Something’s up, Thad, but I don’t know what. Apparently this came straight from the Elder. You know what that means.”

He took a few seconds to digest what she’d said and leaned back in his chair, eyes wide. “From Maxson himself? Damn, Lau.” Thaddeus whistled appreciatively. She could see the conflicting emotions in his eyes: sadness that she would be leaving, concern that it would likely be something dangerous, but also a generous understanding for what it could mean for Laura’s career. “Where are you going?”

She threw up her hands. “See, that’s the thing,” she whispered and bit her lip. “I don’t know, the briefing didn’t say. I think I’m not even supposed to talk about this with you. If it hadn’t stressed secrecy so much I’d have asked around with some of the officers that I’m friendly with. But it said to pack plenty of rations and ammunition, so… probably not downtown D.C.”

“Probably not,” Thaddeus agreed and took a large swig of his beer while his mind worked. “You know,” he continued, thinking aloud, “one of the vertibirds never came back. I overheard Kells complaining about that the other day. Been wondering who they’re gonna send to get it back ever since.”

Laura frowned. “What are you suggesting? That this is a rescue mission? When does that ever happen?”

He shrugged. “Never, but isn’t that exactly why they’d be all hush-hush about it?” He rapped the table with his knuckles. “Who’s leading the mission?”

Feeling foolish but rather being safe than sorry, Laura looked around the room to see if the man in question was there, watching her, waiting for her to slip up. He wasn’t. She saw Senior Scribe Owen, who the briefing had mentioned, but he was embroiled in his own conversation. “Paladin Moss,” she answered at length.

Thaddeus raised an eyebrow at that. “Doesn’t that basically confirm that this isn’t an ordinary operation? Moss has Maxson’s favor, I hear.”

“You hear a lot of things,” Laura muttered sardonically.

Her brother sniggered at that. “People forget about the Lancer in the driving seat all the time, Lau. They say all sorts of shit they shouldn’t around us. Don’t underestimate what I might know.”

“Fine, you braggart, let’s say that that’s true,” she replied, humoring him with a half-smile. “What do they want with an Initiate like me, then, if this is so important? You know that I’m not about to turn down an opportunity to prove myself, but--”

“But why isn’t this a team of veterans, right, I know,” Thaddeus interrupted, finishing her sentence for her. “Have you forgotten how we came here? The briefing suggested extended field ops, right? Who better than the girl that trekked from fucking Montana all the way to the Capital Wasteland? You’re not just an Initiate, Lau. You’re good at this and you know it. We both are.”

Laura sighed. “So why aren’t we both on this mission?”

Thaddeus laughed. “Because, for all of our experience and grit, there is still a very real chance I might crash the vertibird against the very first building we encounter.” Before Laura could tease him about it, he held up a silencing finger. “That shit is harder than it looks, alright?”

She chuckled. A moment of silence fell as both Grimshaws nursed their drink.

“Hey,” Thaddeus said softly, and Laura was roused from her reverie to see the sincerity of feeling in her brother’s eyes. “Don’t do anything stupid, okay?”

Laura took his hand into her own and brushed her thumb against his skin. He’d developed so many callouses since they got here. There was precious little left of the younger brother Laura remembered from their days in the Vault. As she so often did, she saw their father in him. Don’t do anything stupid. It had been Deckard’s motto.

“I won’t,” she promised and tucked a loose strand of black hair behind her ear. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

featuring the magnificent @Bright_Ops

“Apologies accepted,” Apollyon said, following Rupert around the room with his eyes. They glowed faintly in the half-gloom of the firelight. His smile widened. “Though you don’t answer to me, I believe, so there’s no need to apologize. Come, sit,” he said and gestured for a chair on the other side of the table. The aristocrat sat up straight and placed his elbows on the table. Rupert looked gruff and common, but there was a touch of pride to him. It looked well-earned, a hard worker’s pride, not the soulless vanity of upperhivelings.

“You help the new crew adjust? How interesting,” he continued and rubbed his clean-shaven chin. “I know very little about the workings of such great ships, I’m afraid. Perhaps you can tell me more? My name is Apollyon Kaicero. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” He inclined his head gracefully.

Rupert… didn’t seem so sure of himself as to take a seat, despite the bowl of stew in his hands. However, after a moment he found himself accepting the invitation as he respectfully answered “Rupert O’Donald. It’s not so much helping the new crew adjust as it is… well, keeping everything in order. The nation crews are prone to fighting over those new personnel who are considered the creme of the crop… and since the new guys don’t know what the rules or boundaries are there are going to be a number of minor incidents for a long time.”

Getting settled into his seat but before he started on his meal, he politely asked “I’m guessing you’re one of the new hires that the captain is bringing on. If you don’t mind me asking, what duties are you being tasked with?”

“Nation crews,” Apollyon repeated back to him, tasting the words in his own tongue. It only made sense, given that the ships were crewed by tens of thousands of people, but it had never occurred to him that they would form something akin to nations to organize themselves. He’d simply never given it any thought. “That’s fascinating. You must be an important man.”

Apollyon leaned back and draped an arm over the back of the empty chair next to him. In doing so, his coat fell open and the laspistol and its power cells that were holstered there became visible. “Security,” he said, his voice a slow drawl, as if the answer bored him. “I suppose our lord and master considers me a cut above the common rabble, considering he invited me here.” Apollyon gestured at Rupert with his glass of amasec, gently sloshing the amber-colored liquid. “Just like yourself, Rupert.” His smile tightened into a smirk and he tapped his index finger against the rim of the glass; it chimed like a bell. “To us, important men.”

While the compliment about him being an important man was taken with a humble smile, when Apollyon mentioned his profession Rupert almost choked on a chunk of meat. Thumping his chest a little to clear his pipes, he took a second to calm himself down before he answered what had shaken him. “That… is going to be somewhat problematic.”

“You see… long ago in the ship’s history, the last head of security launched a coup that rocked the ship down to its foundations. While he failed, the nature of the fighting that took place between security and the rest of the crew causes the crew to view the position in a… very negative light, even to this day. Honestly, it was after the mess that the first of the nations was formed and the Janitor Union took over most of the duties that were normally tasked to the now gone security... “ Pausing for a second in thought, an idea quickly came to him.

“Tell you what. I’ve already got most of the internal stuff of the ship taken care of as far as security goes… but I can be the first to admit that my ability to keep our captain safe outside of it is… somewhat lacking? I’m happy to give you status reports on anything that you need to tell the Captain about if you’re content to let the Janitors take care of internal matters.”

Apollyon listened with rapt interest and had to resist the urge to laugh at the end of Rupert’s tale -- there had obviously been a misunderstanding in communication. “My dear Master O’Donald, my apologies. I never meant to imply that I would be in a position of authority over the crew of the ship. I was trying to be… polite about my profession, but I see that I should speak plainly.”

He put the glass of amasec down and made sure that his face was free of any visible tracers of humor. “I’m a killer. It is indeed the captain’s security, and his alone, that concerns me. If it is the… Janitors, you say? The Janitors’ job to maintain security aboard the ship, then by all means, as you were. My job is to keep the captain alive and to… well,” he explained with a shrug and a languid grin, “kill who or what he commands me to kill. I hope that clears up our little misunderstanding.”

It was rather clear that Apollyon’s answer had a calming effect on Rupert, since he leaned back into his chair as a relaxed breath escaped him. “Oh good. I’m glad we got that sorted out here and now before any misunderstandings happened. I’m already going to have enough trouble with that when it comes to the bloody tech priests.”

That drew a raised eyebrow and a chuckle from Apollyon. “The Mechanicus, eh? My father would complain about them at length as well. What are they doing now? Insisting on blessing the whole ship before anyone is allowed to step aboard?”

A sigh escaped Rupert as he shook his head. “It’s another one of the duties that the Janitors took over. Maintenance and the like. Didn’t have a whole lot of tech priests left after the failed coup and by the time the ship got more it had become one of our standard duties. Historically, almost every time we get new Mechanicus staff, it becomes a struggle over sovereignty… people have died in the past because of something that should have been repaired and sorted out sooner was left to get worse because the bloody cog boys refused to let anyone else who knows what to do actually do the job.”

The topic was clearly a sore one for him, but he recovered enough to ask “So how do you and the captain know each other? I doubt he would trust his personal safety to some random mook.” before he went back to sampling the stew.

Rupert wasn’t looking at him when Apollyon stiffened at the suggestion that he was some ‘random mook’ if he didn’t know the captain personally. “I don’t know him,” he responded levelly and tilted his head as he watched the High Janitor eat, like a raptor observing a mouse wandering through the grass far below. He took a deep breath and smiled again. “My reputation must precede me. Truthfully, I don’t know exactly what purpose the captain has for my skills. I can only guess that it must be something more intimate than making the rounds on the ship,” Apollyon said and rapped his fingers on the tabletop. His brow twitched. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Don’t you think?”

Looking up at the slight change in tone from his companion, Rupert took a moment to look over his former conversation and quickly review it for any blunders he may have made… and found it fairly question. “Forgive me, I didn't mean to offend. From what my predecessor told me about the former captain, his personal bodyguard was from a vassal family who had a long and proud history of serving the Livingstone family. I had assumed that if the current captain invited you personally it was a similar arrangement and I’ve made an ass of myself because of it.”

“Still, at least I can trust that you’ve been hired for your merit and skill rather than just because of who you are related to.” The fact of which seemed to increase the standing of Apollyon in the Head Janitors own eyes a bit. “For what it’s worth, I’m sure you’ll serve the Livingstone family well… if for no other reason then a deadstone pays no wages.” A dark, morbid joke, but an attempt at humor nonetheless.

It took a second for Apollyon to realize that Rupert had made a joke and he was pleasantly surprised -- the man had seemed like too much of a stoic, honorable sort until then. He laughed and raised the glass in appreciation. “Quite so, my friend, quite so,” Apollyon said and sniggered. “It is indeed in my best interests to ensure the captain’s safety, though I have to admit that it’s not the wages that concern me terribly,” he continued and finished the last of the amasec. He put the glass down and leaned forwards again, interlacing his fingers beneath his chin.

“You see, I find this prospect of traveling by a Rogue Trader’s side to the far-flung corners of the galaxy greatly exciting. I suspect that you and I come from very different social climates, as it were,” the aristocrat said, and for the first time during their conversation, an authentic sense of passion crept into his voice. “Well, I am bored of mine. Adventure, glory and danger, my dear Rupert, that is what I am after. Something to make me feel…”

The words hung in the air for a second as Apollyon inhaled sharply through his nose. “Alive.”

Rupert shrugged a little at the rather passionate speech the man was giving. “I don’t know so much about glory or adventure… to me, this is just a way of life. Between you and me…” He actually learned for a little and lowered his voice, as if sharing a major secret “...This is the first time I’ve ever left the Pride in my whole life. It is… honestly going to be a little humbling when we go to board the ship and I’ll be able to see the whole world I grew up and lived in for all of my life from an outside perspective…”

Apollyon was astonished. To live and die a whole life aboard a vessel… he could not imagine a more perfect microcosm that captured the meaningless lives of the riff-raff. No, not meaningless, he reminded himself as he looked at Rupert. Without him, and men like him, the voyage they were about to embark on would not be possible. He nodded slowly to himself, as if weighing the newfound appreciation he had for Rupert… and then it was gone. Short-lived, like all of Apollyon’s feelings.

“I shall be sure to be respectfully silent for the occasion,” Apollyon said in his most reassuring tone before flashing Rupert a winning smile and nodding towards the tray of food and drink -- he was seated closer to it than the aristocrat. “Say, be a good man and hand me that bottle of amasec, would you?”

The smile that Rupert offered back wasn’t a winner, but it was a solid second place… maybe a bronze depending on who was running. “Thank you.” He muttered back before turning towards the table with its many, many offerings of bottles to pick from. “Which bottle is the amasec?” He asked, slightly confused by the wide selection.
On the fifth chime of the clock the door to the chamber opened and a man stepped inside with a languid confidence at odds with the reality of his situation; he was a stranger stepping into a strange room about to meet a bunch of strange people he'd never met before. You wouldn't think so by looking at him, however. His back was straight, his hands were clasped casually behind his back and an easy smile played around his face as he cast his bionic gaze across the room, micro-devices clicking and whirring behind hiss artificial irises.

The room was empty. He was the first to arrive.

"Naturally," Apollyon Kaicero said quietly to himself and closed the door behind him as he put the keycard back into the pocket of his armored coat. The importance of punctuality and making a good impression had been drilled into him throughout his entire life, but the aristocrat had learned quickly that that wasn't the case for the degenerates he usually found himself working with. Many of them considered 'anything within the hour' to be close enough. He snorted at the thought, shook his head and set off on a stroll about the room.

It had to be said that he was pleasantly surprised at the tasteful upholstery of the space. It reminded Apollyon a little of home. "Ah!" he exclaimed softly at the sight of a table with food and, more importantly, drink, and he immediately poured himself a glass of amasec. These kinds of meetings were infinitely more enjoyable with a little buzz, Apollyon had decided early on in his budding career as a mercenary. He wondered where the Rogue Trader was and chided himself as he realized that the man must be waiting for the others to arrive before making a grand entrance. He'd do the same thing in his position, after all.

He had left the death-arc in his room -- it was impolite to bring such significant firepower to a friendly meeting, after all -- and therefore looked like little more than a highborn traveler taking a moment to enjoy the best that the station had to offer. His coat and clothes were dark, yet stylish, and his close-cropped blond hair almost seemed to glow in the warm firelight that emanated from the hearth. Apollyon swept his coat aside and made himself comfortable on one of the chairs by the table, crossed one leg over the other and sipped away at his amasec while looking around at the pictures of glory and honor that dominated the room, chuckling softly at their self-aggrandizing nature.

"Imperials," he whispered and shook his head.
Before the Night Lord could speak, the doors to the audience chamber swung open and something even larger than either Astartes entered with heavy footfalls.

It was another Ogryn, though it was immediately obvious at first glance that this one followed a different god entirely. There was no putrid and bloated belly, no noxious clouds of gas or the reek of decay. This one smelled of blood and steel and the light glinted dangerously on the tips of his proud horns.

"BLOOD! SKULLS!" Gharl yelled, for Gharl was his name, and he punched the air with his ripper gun. It made for a poor greeting but it was all he knew. His vast and muscular form was clad in monstrously thick carapace armor and he was armed with the aforementioned Ogryn-proof weapon, but otherwise the creature appeared to have no other belongings.

His gaze swept around the room, flickering from the important-looking Astartes to the equally important-looking man and woman on the couch, and he scratched his head. "Boss?" Gharl asked, but he was distracted by the other Ogryn in the room almost immediately -- and, more importantly, by its fleshy, disgusting, odious pet.

"Cute," Gharl decided.
Is there a deadline for character submissions and/or an ETA for the start of the RP?

Excellent. I'll post sometime later today.
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