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2 yrs ago
Current I just want someone to play Cyberpunk with ;_;
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2 yrs ago
the spookiest soccer coach
2 yrs ago
In the sort of mood to hack my wrists open and paint the walls
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4 yrs ago
Hurt me.
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Sister Dominica was the vessel of His judgement, swift and deadly. It was a simple task to arrive at her appointed position, and remain out of sight. She kept her knife sheathed within the civilians' clothes, preferring to avoid the risk of a shimmering light giving away their position; instead, as the whistle came, she handed herself over to Him and let her hands travel where they may. Wordlessly, the voice she had always trusted moved her to dash forwards, muscles pinging like taut elastic as she steamed towards the leftmost traitor. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the image of the great Celestian falling upon the enemy, before she delivered a stinging punch, swinging outside of her body and into the neck of the traitor whose attention was drawn by his fallen comrade.

Like cardboard in heavy rain, he folded, hands going to his neck. A failure. That blow should have killed him outright. Lisbeth silently tallied another mark against herself as she set about finishing her task. The guardsman, wheezing as he sucked unsteady mouthfuls of air into a dented windpipe, could only raise his arms up to chest height before a heavy shin struck him in the cheek, bringing him to the floor on his back before a heavily-muscled Sororitas pinned his arms to the floor with her legs. Without a word, Lisbeth's arms dived towards the sides of his head, already beginning to become slick with blood from a broken cheekbone, and plunged her thumbs through his eyeballs. There was a momentary resistance before a moist pop, and thin bones cracked as Lisbeth stirred the insides of his brains, forming a sticky, porridge-like paste of bone and mashed flesh. It gave Lisbeth a little measure of joy to know that the traitor died in horrid pain, a welcome appetiser for the judgement and purgation to come.

Her task finished, she wiped the pink jam from her thumbs on the collar of the dead soldier's fatigues, lip curled in disgust. She would not waste prayers on this one. Instead, she grabbed his dropped rifle, pulled the bolt and ejected the magazine to check the state of charge, and rammed it back into the port, satisfied. They were not part of the trinity, but las-weapons at least had the virtue of silence. Quietly, she fixed the bayonet stolen from the dead guard's belt, and nodded towards her commander. "Celestian?"
Even without her armour, Lisbeth couldn't feel anything but utterly secure in His light, utterly certain in His protection. She had almost stepped out of the aircraft rather than jumped, and rolled easily across the floor to stand, half crouched, as she accepted her orders with a silent nod. They would be the Emperor's judgement, silent and swift, rather than his flaming sword today. She envied the Confessor, already injured in the course of His duties, but pressed on anyway. All things come in their time, she reminded herself, as without a word she moved into the complex.

She raised her arm in a closed fist, the signal to halt as she peered around a corner - two guards were posted by a door - if not the armoury, then likely some other important section; how very typical of the enemies of the Emperor, to pretend at such great schemes and then give away their key position in an act of obviation. The problem was how to draw them away for long enough to get behind them, the distance too great to despatch them without giving enough time to raise an alarm. The other end of the coridoor was within sight, but to attack from that side would have it's own dangers. A pincer movement, then.

Shuffling back slowly, not even making a sound with the brushing of the fabric against her scarred skin, she addressed her sisters in almost inaudible High Gothic. "Two targets. I will go back the way we came and turn against ourselves, until I am at the far end of the coridoor. On your signal, Sister-Celestian, I will strike from the far side while you strike from here, and with His grace we will each fall upon one before his brother in treachery can make a sound. Sister-Celestian?"

One thought stuck in Lisbeth's head as she read the dark-skinned warrior's face for a reaction. I wish I still had my sword.
When the order came to turn about and abandon pursuit, Lisbeth's heart sank. She knew her place, but to allow the enemy to get away with such a perfidious crime, not just against the humble people of Cekrov but of all Mankind, and leave only the Guard to chase the enemy rankled. Her arms ached to swing her blade in pursuit of vengeance, and an iron will burned inside her to pursue victory, at any cost. But I know my place. The Guard would flush out the foe, and if the Saint still lived, she would restore Him as soon as possible, and all of the fighting and struggle would finally come to an end, with the God-Emperor awakened to protect His people in the flesh once again.

Being asked for input was not a comfortable position for Lisbeth. She was a warrior, and a servant of the Emperor, and through the chain of command ordained from the Golden Throne itself she humbly accepted her orders and her mind was pure, too small for doubt. The responsibilities of command and decision-making she left for those who were her superiors, and until He ordained that she should be fortunate enough to be lifted to their position it was not the little nun's place to assume that she knew any better than anyone else. That said, she had been ordered to offer her opinion, such as it was, and a loyal servant obeyed without question. Already her thinking had approached too close to questioning, and she would set herself penance as soon as practical.

"Sisters, I suggest that we storm the palace and destroy the enemy with all prejudice. If the Governor's life is forfeit then he will reside at the Emperor's side as a martyr. If the enemy lose their nerve and flee, we will chase them down and destroy them. I am loathe to place the lives of the peasants at risk to take part in...lies," she spat, as though the word were bitter poison, "but it matters little. If we are faithful, we will be victorious. The taking of hostages is the act of a coward, and such cowardice cannot stand for long against our faith. Few as we are, perhaps we might split our numbers, to create the impression of a larger force - or perhaps we might use an alternative route," she suggested, tapping the tip of her chin with an armoured finger. "Confessor, Sister-Celestian, do you have the authority to commandeer a flying machine? If the enemy expect us to storm their gate...maybe we should attack from the skies instead?"

What I wouldn't give for a few Sisters-Seraphim right now.
The Confessor's words were not lost on Lisbeth. For a few moments, she stood on the green, ignorant of the fire around her, barely even aware of the shrieking bullets and the hiss of the las-blasts fizzing through the air. She rolled to the floor as a sweeping beam cut the air where she was standing, and fiddled with the grenades tied to her waist, pulling a cluster of three from underneath her rosaries. Gripping the pins in her teeth, she yanked down, and then lobbed them towards the enemy, hunkering down for a count of one, two, and then pushing herself up with her arms and legs, launching herself towards the burning buildings. As soon as she was visible again, the door-slam bang of the grenades went up, tossing dirt in all directions, maiming those between the two little cottages where the bundle had come to rest. While two of the traitors ducked behind a discarded cart to check on their companion, Lisbeth flicked the toggle on the side of her bolter and let loose with a stream of full-auto fire, recoil straining her wrist as she fired, pounding the area with explosive bolts.

When the gun clicked empty, she released it, allowing the heavy weight to hang from the leather strap, and instead drew _Persephone_, screaming as she vaulted over the cart, delivering a steel boot to the face of one of the traitors. The other fumbled with his pistol, landing two glancing shots on her shoulder that would leave superficial burns but otherwise did little to stop her furious advance. She crushed the side of his skull in with the pommel of her power sword, before sprinting across the way as a stubber opened up with a cracka-cracka-cracka drumbeat, spouts of earth launched around her feet as she made her way to cover, to take breath for a moment.

As she breathed, two more came around the corner, armed with shotguns, and they were the faster to react. The taller one, a grim-faced soul with a thin mop of red hair, unloaded two quick rounds into Lisbeth's gut, shards of metal embedding into the black surface of her armour, scratching away lengths of white scripture carved into the plates. None penetrated to her flesh, but the impact left Lisbeth stunned for a moment, and would lead nasty bruises later. The second thrusted a bayonetted rifle towards her, shining metal blade heated up by the flames, and caught the join between her greaves, slicing deep into her hip. To her shame, the frenzied sister cried out, before punching aside the shotgun now levelled at her head, and rode the momentum to spin, catching the rifleman with the heavy edge of her vibrating blade, the power field stripping away flesh and bone as she hacked through his chest, leaving him with a gaping wound along her side.

Blood seeping from her own wound, Lisbeth's leg gave way, and she sprawled to the floor, a race between her and the red-head to grab the nearest weapon. The shotgunner had a head start, but the conditioned reactions of a true warrior were faster than the advantage of surprise and treachery. Grabbing the discarded las-rifle, Lisbeth jammed her finger into the trigger, pumping six blasts out towards the shotgunner, two striking him in the gut and a third in the middle of the chest before he collapsed, smoke rising from the scorch-marks on his flesh. Behind her, the striken heretic stirred, and she rolled, squealing as her hip twisted and the torn muscles rubbed against the dirt, locking an iron fist around the traitor's throat. He did not have time to choke before the sister crushed his carotid artery, his brain barely aware of what had happened before he sank into the darkness.

When she tried to stand, she found herself crippled, barely able to do much more than crawl, and resolved herself to keep fighting, reloading her bolter, and aiming it squarely in front of her, waiting for the next treacherous soul who dared to test themselves against a servant of the Emperor...
Lisbeth hadn't stopped smiling throughout the whole trip. The trip through the countryside was a blessed relief from the hot, turgid air of the city, and a gratefully-recieved reminder of all that He had given mankind. Fields of crops waved in the breeze as the open-topped carrier moved along tarmaced roads, birds tweeting between belches of low, monstrous noise from the carrier's engines. Hours passed quickly for the sister, rapt in a sort of childish joy as the world rolled past, though the rest of the crew did not seem to share Lisbeth's fascination for the world of Cekrov and the quiet, humble agricultural work that continued as they moved by, work that had continued for tens of thousands of years and would continue for tens of thousands more, with every soul content with their place, clearly defined by His plan, with no need for thought or doubt or consideration, only to hear and to obey and to please Him. It was a beautiful future, and it would come to pass soon.

"Sister," Lisbeth had asked Alexa, after hours of chirping about how wonderful this world was, no doubt boring the enlisted men to tears in the process. "When we get to Sarton, and we bring the saint back to Terra, do you think we will get to see Him? I hope we get to see her raise Him. What do you think will happen when He is returned to us?"

Whilst Sister Lisbeth's sheer joy was admittedly infectious, Alexa couldn't bring herself to be quite as optimistic as her sister in arms. Certainly, the world was wonderfully pleasant on the eye, and it'd be truly glorious to bear witness to a resurrection on a scale as grand as that - and yet, her prior fears stuck, the possibility of possession over Sainthood holding in her mind, and even if this girl could revive the dead with His holy power, if using His own power to restore Him was at all possible, the difference in scale between a mere mortal and the long-dead body of the God-Emperor Himself was as a comparison of the masses of heretics and the Imperium's benevolent rule.

"If He is brought back to us by our actions," Alexa quipped, "then I imagine He will reward us greatly - or else, allow the prestige of such a grand act to be its own reward," she added somewhat belatedly. The negative tone imparted to her words wasn't entirely the fault of the vox this time, though she would certainly play it off as though it were if queried. It wasn't that the idea was grotesque to her, of course it wasn't! But it seemed very unlikely to come to pass.

"When He returns," continued Lisbeth, totally unfazed by Alexa's measured scepticism, "I think I'd like to be on a planet like this. After all, once He comes back to us, there won't be any need for us to fight, will there? The heretics and traitors are bound to see the error of their ways, and I'm sure there's no way any aliens could possibly bother us with the Emperor walking amongst us again." Within her mind, Lisbeth felt the warm smile of a father, and she knew exactly who He was. "I know," she said, to the voice of the Emperor, silent at the moment. He was probably busy preparing for His imminent return, that would explain why Lisbeth couldn't hear Him. "Sisters? Sister-Celestian?" A loud clunk from the engine stole her words away, and she satisfied herself in continuing her conversation with the gigantic Hospitaller opposite. "I think I will miss fighting for Him, but I'm sure what awaits us will be far better than any other victory, right, Alexa?"

"It'd certainly be nice to have all our problems solved with His return," Alexa nodded. "But, even when He was present during the Great Crusade, He couldn't be everywhere at once... though, if the Living Saints are envoys of His power, perhaps He could present Himself to all and sundry through them?" It was unusual for Alexa to speak so much, but that idea did make her feel a bit better: the God-Emperor had ways of projecting himself.

"We didn't know the nature of the Enemy then, though. Without the advantage of surprise, there's no way they could ever stop Him a second time." The earliest spark of a thought questioning how the Emperor could have been beaten at all was born, and then swiftly crushed, a perfectly conditioned mind squashing all traces of doubt. "As long as we obey, He will be our shield." Lisbeth cast a glance behind her, as the craft began to crawl up a gentle hill. "Do you think we're nearly there yet?"

"Mm. You aren't wrong." Alexa considered Sister Lisbeth's words, then wondered what it was that made her so... optimistic? Certainly not dense, but she was so certain that this girl would be a Saint, and so convinced that the Emperor's eventual return would be the balm to all their worries... was Lisbeth a more faithful servant than herself? Possibly. She couldn't help but recall her violence on Athega Tertius - the death of a comrade drove one to righteous fury at times, of course it did, but after they'd been told to hold them prisoner for interrogation...

She put it out of her mind as Lisbeth asked whether they were there yet. "I imagine we're not far off," came Alexa's response, leaning out of the craft a bit to get a better view... only to catch sight of black, oily smoke, just over the hill. Oh, no.

"...but we might want to be ready for a battle," she murmured, thumbing her bolt pistol in its holster. Optimism was excellent for providing an ideal to aim for, of course... but sadly, realism tended to provide a more accurate image of how things might turn out, on the whole.

Lisbeth hadn't stopped smiling. Permanence was laid at her side rather than on it's strap, Persephone hanging limp at her hip. She even found time to wave at a group of peasant children leading a grox-cart during the conversation, and they'd returned the gesture. This was a quiet world, it seemed, and outside of the temptations of the city the simple hard work kept the people free from distractions or improper thoughts. She wondered if those children had ever seen a servant of the Imperium before, beyond statues and the tales of their elders, and if in years to come they would tell their own children about the time they saw the avenging angels of the Ecclesiarchy. "What do you mean, Sister?" Lisbeth's eyes travelled to follow the direction of Alexa's gaze, and as she saw the plume of smoke rising from the distance she realised, with a terrible dread, what the Hospitaller was talking about.

"No..." Her pale skin turned almost grey, and her eyes grew cold and glassy as the promise of paradise seemed to be stolen away. "Tell me that's not Sarton." She turned to Victorine, to Alexa, and back, pleading. "Please! It can't be..."

Now, as the convoy rolled to a halt and the group caught sight of the burning cottages and the wails of the dying echoed across the hills, Lisbeth's smile died.

And there went the optimism. Frankly, there wasn't much to be optimistic about - houses were aflame, people were dead and dying, and they had evidently arrived much too late to prevent whoever had invaded from achieving their goal. Whilst this gave a little more credence to the idea of the girl being a Saint, it also rather suggested their goal was to kill her - unless, of course, that possession had simply led to the inevitable.

Alexa said nothing more to Lisbeth, but drew her weapon at Sister-Celestian Victorine's command, stepping out of the craft once it came to a halt. Gunfire was audible, meaning this was likely an external raid - meaning, they needed to act quickly if they wanted to salvage anything resembling a potential Living Saint.

"Sister-Celestian, I believe we should confirm whether the girl has perished or been captured, and pursue her kidnappers if so." She didn't like to suggest something that was probably obvious, but she felt she had to make the statement just in case. There was vengeance to be sought her, for certain, but also victims to rescue, and potentially one of extreme importance to the Imperium.

Lisbeth's heart fell heavy, and her previous optimism gave way to horror, and then despair. Not again, she thought, strapping Permanence back on as she hopped out of the carrier. They cannot take Him from us again! As she absorbed the scene, her mind turned once again, this time from despair to anger. "Sister-Celestian," she growled, in a tone quite unlike herself. She sounded more like the Confessor, or perhaps even the bass drone from Alexa's faulty helmet. "Orders? Permission to engage?" she urged. Lisbeth could feel her arms beginning to shake, and her hand drew closer to her sword and the clutch of grenades around her waist, rather than the longer-range (perhaps, the more sensible choice) bolter.

The smell of burning flesh stirred her soul with an incandescent rage. They were so close to the Saint, to mankind's deliverance, and once again, the Enemy had stolen Him away from his loving subjects. If the Saint still lived, Lisbeth would find her, and her captors - or murderers - would be torn apart in a fountain of gore before she was done with them. Be my Sword, Lisbeth, spoke the Emperor, and the slight twitches betrayed her eagerness to bring justice to this tragic scene. Selfishly, she hoped Sister-Celestian Victorine would not notice her reddening eyes, and the welling of enraged tears beneath the tattoo on her face.
The party dragged on for far too long. Lisbeth's place was not to be standing around waiting for the liquor to stop flowing - her job was to bring the fires of retribution to the enemies of Man, and she was trapped here standing awkwardly in the middle of a hall, half-drunk nobles all around. Outside the sun dipped below the horizon, and the thin fabric of her pink dress was little protection in the chilly hall. The partygoers in their layers of finery - most probably laced with thermal generators sewed into the garments - did not seem too bothered. One made eye contact with Lisbeth as he approached, a thin, lanky young man with slicked-back hair and a brown fur coat fastened with a gaudy, golden aquila. "Siiiister," he said, intonation rising and falling with each long vowel, "a pleasure to meet such a...radiant servant of the Imperium." He leaned into Lisbeth a little, a glass full of sparkling wine swinging dangerously with each movement and threatening to topple altogether.
"Thank you," mewed Lisbeth. This was not what she was meant for, and these interactions came awkwardly to her - much easier to be among her own sisters, without the need to exchange complicated preening words.
"No, thank you, for gracing us with your presenccce," the baron smiled, swaying gently. The stink of alcohol on his breath and the red in his eyes betrayed his intoxication. Lisbeth suppressed the urge to cringe, and smiled a little too broadly. "Baron Torsten Ingvarsen, dear lady," slurred the sloshed youngster. He was barely a few years older than Lisbeth, but the cracks in his features were a clear mark of a life lead too-comfortably, with all forms of sensual gratification available at a moment's notice.

Lisbeth coughed politely, clearing her throat with a hand across her chest as the baron came closer still, and Lisbeth took a polite step, small enough to be mistaken for a gentle chance of stance, away from the baron's clammy skin, and then another, before she found herself backed against one of the filigreed walls of the great hall, hidden by the shadow from a statue to her left. "I've always admired your sort, sister," said Torsten, "selfless servants. I wish all those in my employ were so dedicated to their role. Many resent the fate the Emperor has ordained for them." A sweaty hand landed on Lisbeth's shoulder, and a chill ran down her spine. "Perhaps, later, we can retire to my chamber to discuss-"

Lisbeth did not allow him to finish the sentence. She was not a fool. She knew exactly how it ended, and though she kept her mind clear of such impure thoughts, she was aware of the sins that others indulged in. Lisbeth was all too happy to help this lost soul mend his ways, starting with a vice-like grip around his loins, squeezing down hard. Strangely, Baron Ingvarsen became quiet, and his eyes wide. "I am a daughter of the God-Emperor, and I am not your whore. I have slain witches, aliens, heretics, and creatures you wouldn't be able to imagine in your worst nightmares. You get any closer and I will tear it off, and even Sister Alexandra will not be able to repair you." For a few moments the two were still, with Lisbeth's eyes locked with Ingvarsen's, tears welling.
"You - impudent-" Another sentence Lisbeth would never hear the end of. As Ingvarsen raised a hand, Lisbeth clenched her fist tighter and yanked down, drawing a squeak from the baron, who promptly collapsed in a drunken heap, whimpering.
"I trust you will see milord Confessor before we leave, baron. Enjoy your evening," said Lisbeth, satisfied that she had done her duty for the night, and made her way back to her quarters with a carefully concealed smug grin.

Lisbeth wasted no time in taking off the ridiculous costume she'd been ordered to wear, and was glad to be back inside her robes after a swift wash, but found herself unable to sleep. After trying most of an hour in prayer, she conceded and decided to at least use her time usefully, preparing for tomorrow's labours. With her arms and armour under lock and key, her only option was to try and learn more about the planet - and, inevitably, the miracles. A servitor, standing sentinel over the libraries, was only half-helpful, and it took Lisbeth another hour to find the records she sought - the few witness statements from the rural communities the girl had travelled in. At the start, she was professional, but quickly the adoration in the records drew her in, and Lisbeth was utterly sure that this was a true Living Saint. Her mind raced with possibilities, of lost friends who might be returned - and of His restoration. If this girl could be brought to Holy Terra, the God-Emperor's internment in the Golden Throne might finally come to an end, and all the strife and misery Man endured could be brought to a close.

She slept well after that, her dreams filled with hopeful thoughts and the dream of a perfect Imperium, free from heresy, mutation, and the baleful influence of the alien. All this could come to pass, dreamed Lisbeth, if only she did her part. She rose before dawn, and was ready and eager for the day's work when the group assembled in the hall. She was practically giddy, and she could not resist a warm smile as she acknowledged the arrival of her fellows with a nod. "Is-is it time to go?" asked Lisbeth, with the demeanour of an excited child.
Lisbeth was only half-listening to the conversation between her superiors; there was nothing of interest for her in their musings. Anything she needed to know, she would be told, and anything else was above her station. It was her holy mission to follow orders, not to eavesdrop on the conversations of others - even if those orders did take her to strange places. When the procession finally made their way into the staggering main hall, Lisbeth could not suppress a hushed "By the Throne!" Even after all the churches, chapels and holy places she had stood in, the scale and opulence of this place were amazing. She could scarcely see the ceiling, and all around her symbols of wealth assaulted her senses. Like a small child, she was swept away, pulled toward the glass case within which her arms and armour were sealed, stood upright by some unseen mechanism, Persephone and Permanence polished to a blinding sheen, the black plates of her ancient suit of armour cleaned and re-sealed, the sacraments inscribed on the plates given a new coat of ice-white paint, sharp and clear even through the thick glass.

Suspended behind the armour, the heavy strings of rosary beads coiled around two poles like the folds of some enormous serpent. A more sober woman would have seen them and thought of all the sins and failures they represented, and be still, but Lisbeth was not a sober woman. Totally ignorant of the nobles circling the room, Lisbeth fluttered from spot to spot, her mouth open and her eyes wide, like a child on a the morning of a feast-day. It was only when she realised that the rest of her sisters were being spoken to that she brought herself back to reality, and sheepishly made a quick retreat back to the Sister-Celestian's side. Given how quickly she had lost her head, Lisbeth thought it best she not compound her error by saying anything, and instead mumbled a half-hearted "Your grace," bowing slightly.
Even new scars about her neck and temple could not pierce the shield of quiet joy that she held before her, nor the slight kink on the bridge of her nose dampen her spirits. She stared back from the mirror with a simple, stupid smile that knew nothing but war and dauntless faith. A pale pink dress fitted poorly to her form, too loose about the chest and far too tight about the arms, stretched almost to breaking point over her thick limbs, hanging barely half an inch above the grating on the floor. Her skin was half-visible through the barely-there fabric, and the crown of white flowers in her loose, fire-red hair made her look more like a child than a dedicated servant of the Emperor.

The hushed giggle and whistles of passing crew did not bother Sister Dominicia; she barely even registered them. The concerns of laypeople and their strange attitudes toward the body were matters for wise scholars, not the sisters of the Orders Militant. Lisbeth's duty was to hear and to obey, not to become embroiled in the physical desires of those she was sworn to protect. A pair of ridiculous shoes in matching pink with a sharp heel forced her to take each step slowly, at times moving out her arms to maintain balance.

These were strange orders, but they came from one of His appointed servants, and so they were to be followed to the letter. I protect, and I ask only that you obey. Obeyance had never once been in question – Lisbeth was ready to die for her beloved master at a moment's notice – but her doubts lay elsewhere, much like the noble Confessor. Both had expressed concerns – the former about his role in the events of the last few days, and Lisbeth in her own abilities, and what the consequences for her sisters might be. For the first time in years, Lisbeth could hear her own footsteps without the clink-clink-clink of rosary beads, and their absence was a heavy burden to bear. Outside of her armour, with so much skin open to the elements as she made her way down toward the docking bay, Lisbeth felt naked, and ashamed. Even under orders, she was abandoning her duty to carry the mark of her sins and failures with her, and it was not a change that sat easy with her.

Naked, but not unprotected. “You are my shield and my sword, my protection and my light,” sang the young sister, the familiar hymn causing a smile to spread across her face, twisting the fleur-des-lis tattoed around her left eye. Even unarmed, the Emperor would not allow harm to come to Lisbeth or her compatriots. If nothing occurred, it was certain proof that His protection and guiding hand were infallible. If something did happen, it was because He allowed it to occur, so that his most faithful servants could confront the wicked and root them out. If someone died, it was either because their faith was lacking, or He was rewarding them for their faithful service with the greatest of rewards – a place in eternity by His side.

Old lessons beat out the lingering doubts, and the memory of Catherine's dead eyes staring up at the roof of the coridoor made way for the simple joy of a servant fulfilling their role in His great plan. “Good morning, Sister-Celestian,” hummed Lisbeth. “You look wonderful. I hope milord Governor will be pleased with us!”
@Big Dread are you still joining the HMS Enemy Without?
Every instinct in Lisbeth told her to fire. The creatures ahead of her were not human, and therefore were not part of His perfect plan. She had been trained, taught, and psychochemically indoctrinated to hate creatures like the loathsome Gruk, and yet no order to fire came. The Confessor spoke with them, and then with the Sister-Celestian. Even after they had conferred, no order came. All that came was the instruction to move out, following in the path laid by the pathetic creature, and a bilious poison rose up Lisbeth's neck and played on her tongue. There was no justification for allowing such beings to continue to exist, and yet her squad were following like sheep.

Or lambs.

He was a soldier. No, not a soldier. He was not a guardsman. He was a warrior. He followed his commands and he executed them to the best of his ability. His arm strained a little as he walked forwards, boots ringing out clear and defined even as he locked his glaive above it. By the Emperor, he would not falter in his duty, nor would he falter from the path of righteousness. In sacred silence he stepped forward, bolt shells whizzing past his ear.

Thump-splat The sound of the enormous Sister Caroline hitting the deck could not be missed or mistaken. Soon after, a second noise came as the squad's commander fell to the floor, bleeding from an ugly wound in her gut. “By the Throne, stay down!” Bolts flew overhead as she hunkered behind a heavy metal crate, popping blind shots back with Permanence while Crusader Therebus found cover. Stuck here, taking fire and unable to pierce the heavy armour of the heretic, they were just waiting to die. Alexa's booming vox-unit suggested chucking grenades, but the Confessor seemed to disagree, placing himself in the line of fire, singing His praises as he moved onward. Stirred by his example, Lisbeth scrambled over to the Crusader, shouting into the side of his helm. “His armour is too thick! If we charge him, our blades might have better luck – but if we stay here we're already dead!”

He didn't need to find cover. He carried the cover with him, which in this case, as it had many others, was saving his life. He watched as the conversion field around the hulking chunk of admanatium strapped to his arm deflected shot after shot that should have felled him. "HERETICS," he called out, voice booming over the fire and joining in with that of the confessor. "YOUR LIES AND FALSEHOODS CANNOT STOP THE TRUTH!" He took a few steps forward, the hail of fire increasing in intensity as he walked forward. The observation of the sister next to him was correct of course, which was why he was moving up. "The end of this glaive is encased in the emperor's devastation condensed into the form of a power casing. If it touches his armour, it will cleave through it as water to sand." He turned to the sister next to him. "I will provide cover for us to close the distance, if you wouldn't mind, suppressing fire would be greatly appreciated sister."

“Understood. Make ready.” Lisbeth fired off the remaining rounds in her clip, before slamming a new one into Permanence, crossing herself with the aquila before coming up to one knee. “On my mark. Three.” She breathed out, emptying her lungs as she cleansed her mind of fear or doubt. “Two.” She breathed in through her nostrils, her eyes closed as she recited a catechism against the fear of death in her mind. “One.” She tensed her thighs, ready to spring out, her nerves trembling with excitement and anticipation. “Mark!”

The words rang through his head and he pushed forward. He kept his head down, focused more on acting as a human shield than as an offensive force. He heard the boltfire rattling around him, every direction a hail of bullets and red-tongued guns, marking out the rockets of depleted uranium. As soon as he heard the sister behind him scream, he burst forward.

Death to the disbeliever!” screamed Lisbeth, and all at once her inhibitions and self-preservation vanished, firing away from behind the cover of the massive crusader and his enormous shield. A bolt glanced her shoulder and deflected away into the dark as she emptied Permanence. and let the weapon hang by the strap around her other shoulder as she tore Persephone from her scabbard, firing the ignition rune and sheathing the air around the blade in dancing bolts of blue energy. As the pair neared, she screamed again, this time wordlessly, all sense swept away by a tsunami of righteous fervour and the urge for revenge.

"By bolter shell, flamer burst and melta blast, the mutant, the heretic and the traitor alike are cleansed of their sin of existence. So has it been for five millennia, so shall it be unto the end of time." He declared the words authoriatorially. "LET ME DEMONSTRATE, HERETIC." His shield burst forward, and he watched the power-armoured opponent with a trained eye. Drawing his arm back, his glaive lanced forward, just as his peripheral became occupied with the howling sororitas.

Breaking away from Marcus, Lisbeth charged the heretic, both hands wrapped around her weapon as rounds flew towards her. A shot grazed her left thigh, the blasting mechanism firing off early and scorching the white paint off the engravings across her armour and knocking her off her stride. That was poor timing from the sister. Emotion... Useful only when channelled correctly, but only when it was channeled correctly. The sister now was half-lost... He dearly hoped that the taint of one of the dark gods had not befallen her, such was the rage. His spear was neatly dodged, his shield taking the brunt of the return even as the arch-traitor was hammered and sliced at by his companion.

With the wound in her head re-opened, Lisbeth's system was buzzing with adrenaline and her vision was completely tunnelled, with only the destruction of her target on her mind. Full of rage and spitting curses that would shame a sailor, she threw her shoulder into the massive armoured figure's gut, her tiny frame driving in like a torpedo. While her weight made little impact, the two-handed blow of her blade did much more work, the energy field around the honed plasteel slicing neatly through the armoured power cables that ran over the surface of the hardened shell the arch-traitor wore. The blow knocked the wind from his chest, and forced him to bend, just close enough for Lisbeth to headbutt him. The sick crack of bone from within her skull told her that her nose was now broken, and blood began to flow from both nostrils, but the disoriented warrior was now the only subject of her obsessions.

Fuck – daemon – traitor!” Each word, split between guttural noises, was spat with all the hate and bile Lisbeth could muster, punctuated by another blow of her sword, before she eventually cast it aside and balled her armoured fists, crying out in insensate rage as she pounded away on the traitor's face. The leader of the traitors returned blows, delivering punches to Lisbeth's gut that stripped the air from her lungs. As she flinched, the muscles in her torso reflexively contracted, and her last meal spouted from her mouth, splattering along the deck, but her blows continued, even as the strength in her shoulders failed her, and eventually, coated in blood, vomit, grease and dirt, she rolled away, spent.

If he told the truth, it was rather difficult to actually fight. The woman was a whirl of emotion and trouble around him, hampering his attempts to be able to actually do anything. As he fought, he noticed her and what she did, only pausing in his steady but sure assault as she hurled herself at the traitor with such force that she managed to stun him. He watched as she threw aside all dignity, mild disgust on his face, but used the opportunity to ram his lance deep inside the man's chest, avoiding the sister's mass with ease. When she stepped off the body, he gave the lance a twist- causing a cracking sound to come from the beast's ribs, and then extracted the humming end of his blade.

A few moments passed before she dragged herself up again, stretching to grab her sword as she rose. Half-bent, her shoulders drooping, wheezing away, resembling nothing so much as a brutal proto-ape. “Who – next?”

"What I believe the sister means to say... Who will receive the Emperor's redemption now?
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