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Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






"I don't know, dammit. Go -- go get a cup of coffee. Get a snack. Get a souvenir. Get a tattoo, for feth's sake. Just get lost."

The novices just stood there, staring.

Sister Superior Torres sighed. "Look," she said, "girls, the Marines aren't picking us up until 1400, this is probably the only time in your cloistered little lives you're going to get an hour to wander around a civilian spaceport, and I am literally fething sick to my stomach of being around you so continuously that our fething periods have fething synchronized. So go have some fun."

"Is that...." Novice Ginevra began. She stopped when she notices Torres's eyebrows arch in exasperation. "That's an order, isn't it, ma'am?"

"And that keen intuitive insight into commander's intent is why I made you Provisional Squad Leader," Torres said, tapping Ginevra on her Aquila badge. "Yes, it's an order."



This is the end. Superior Torres sends Ginevra's Novice Squad of teenage trainee Battle Sisters off on their own to go shopping, BECAUSE THAT CANNOT POSSIBLY GO WRONG, fish-out-of-water snark turns grimdark in an instant, and Ginevra has to make the most important decision of her life. And there the story of her novitiate, which started here, comes to an end.


1. Bolter B-Word Privileges: Ginevra begins her Novitiate, the hard way.
2. Ollanius Pius Requiem: Novice Ginevra encounters the Imperial Guard. There is singing.
3. Able Baker: Expect some sort of Inquisition.
4. The Beginning: Every Sister's story begins with tragedy... and paperwork.
5. Dancing with the Astartes: The finale, involving the galaxy's nicest Space Marine, a shopping trip, and permanent scarring. (This story)

About the series:
Spoiler:

I thought there was going to be one more installment of the Novice Ginevra stories I started with Bolter B-Word Privileges, a kind of epilogue, but once I finished this story, "Dancing with the Astartes" (yes, the name's another horrid pun), I realized an epilogue was utterly unnecessary. I have vague ideas for stories about some of these same characters as full-grown Battle Sisters, but that's for another time, if ever. Certainly after I finish my master's thesis. (I let myself spend a day on this story as a reward for passing my comprehensive exams).

Technically this story is stand-alone, like the others in the series, with a protagonist, character development, conflict, resolution, the works, and you don't have to read any of the others to understand it -- but at least one big moment in the story will be "huh, what?" instead of "oh no!" if you haven't at least read Able Baker.

You'll also get more out of this story if you read The Beginning, the fourth story, which is mercifully short.

There's also a reference to Ollanius Pius Requiem, the second story, though it's pretty self-explanatory. But read "Requiem" anyway because it has swearing, Firefly references, and my attempt at Latin.

(Ok, they all have swearing and Firefly references, fine).

And once you've read all that, you might as well read B-Word, because it's short and introduces all the characters, so, you know what, actually you should have read that one first.

So, feth it, just read 'em all in order.


And, now, "Dancing with the Astartes" in full, hidden in spoiler tags to prevent Wall of Text:

Spoiler:
"I don't know, dammit. Go -- go get a cup of coffee. Get a snack. Get a souvenir. Get a tattoo, for feth's sake. Just get lost."

The novices just stood there, staring.

Sister Superior Torres sighed. "Look," she said, "girls, the Marines aren't picking us up until 1400, this is probably the only time in your cloistered little lives you're going to get an hour to wander around a civilian spaceport, and I am literally fething sick to my stomach of being around you so continuously that our fething periods have fething synchronized. So go have some fun."

"Is that...." Novice Ginevra began. She stopped when she notices Torres's eyebrows arch in exasperation. "That's an order, isn't it, ma'am?"

"And that keen intuitive insight into commander's intent is why I made you Provisional Squad Leader," Torres said, tapping Ginevra on her Aquila badge. "Yes, it's an order."

Ginevra shivered. She felt terribly vulnerable in her black utility uniform after living for months on end in battle armor, with her back to the bustling foot traffic of the spaceport concourse after months hunting heretics through rubbled cities, with her hands empty after months of carrying a bolter every waking moment. Months with Superior Torres always at her side.

"Ma'am," Ginevra asked, "you're not coming with us, ma'am, are you?"

"Intuitive genius!"

"But you said yourself, ma'am, it may be the only..."

"Ginny, daaaahling, I've seen a sickening number of civie starports," the Superior said. "Literally sickening in some cases, actually, so I take back what I said about getting a snack. For coffee they have to boil the water, though, just don't get cream, and tattoos should be ok if you make sure you see them clean the needle....hmmm....."

"Ma'am, you've seen a lot of civilian starports, ma'am?" Ginevra asked.

"Yeah. I spent six years undercover with an Inquisitorial kill team. How do you think I got so foul-mouthed, cynical, and generally nasty?"

"Oh." Ginevra smiled slightly. "I'd just assumed you were born that way, ma'am."

"Aha! And when you assume, Ginevra daaahling, you make an ass out of Ume...."

"... and he just hates that," Ginevra finished.

"Besides," Torres said, climbing atop the pile of matte grey caskets, "someone has to stay with all our guns and armor and gak." She patted the casket, then patted the plasma pistol on her hip. "And since I am the only one whose sidearm is not currently in the locked and sealed shipping containers, I respectfully suggest I am the logical one to guard said containers."

"That is logical, ma'am," Ginevra said.

"I don't need logic, I outrank you." Torres clapped her hands abruptly in that way that still, after all these years under her tutelage, made the novices jump. "Everybody still got your emergency money? You can actually spend it in a non-emergency situation, now, since we're about to depart this planetary system and its local currency will henceforth avail us not a gak."

All the novices fumbled more or less hastily in their pockets and brought out identical zippered black pouches. All the novices except for one.

"Luna?" Torres said gently.

"Yes?" the blonde novice replied dreamily.

"Did. You. Lose. Your. Money?"

"Ohhh," Luna said. "Oh, no, I made sure to keep it, it was very shiny."

"Shiny?" Torres asked, flatly.

Ginevra closed her eyes and braced herself.

"Shiny and pretty," Luna said, pulling something out from under her uniform jacket, "so I made this! " It was a necklace of coins -- shiny ones, in fact -- each punched neatly through the center, right through the face of some double-chinned local potentate, and strung together.

"Shiny," Torres repeated.

Ginevra sighed in mild relief. This could have been so much worse.

"Okay, girls," Torres said, sighing, "everyone open your money pouches and give one unpunctured, legally valid coin apiece to Novice Luna."

"Ma'am," Novice Portia said sharply, "why should we be punished because Luna..."

"Portia shut up," Ginevra said in a single breath. It was almost a reflex by the point.

"Yes Provisional Squad Leader ma'am," Portia replied, just as automatically.

The girls all handed Luna coins. Torres watched the blonde's eyes sparkle.

"Hmmmm. Ok," the Sister Superior said, "now, Luna, why don't you give those to your Provisional Squad Leader for safekeeping, m'kay?"

"Aww!" Luna made a little pouty face.

"'Aww,' what?" Torres prompted.

Luna thought. After a lifetime in military schools, she still seemed to have trouble with this one. "'Awww, ma'am'?" she said finally.

"That's my girl," Torres said. "Now. Get. Lost."

The novices shuffled a few meters away, then stopped in a clump around Ginevra. She sighed, then suddenly realized how like Torres she must sound. "Okay," she told the other novices, "we're unarmored and unarmed in unfamiliar territory...."

"You have unarmed combat skills that can break most of the people here in half, you scaredy little bitches!" called Torres from behind them. "And the war on this world
is over. We won, remember?"

"... um, so we're going to stay together in our usual four-girl fire teams," Ginevra continued. "Portia, Luna, you're with me..."

"As usual," Portia grumbled.

"....so you don't get into fething trouble on account of being a hateful bitch and a spacecase respectively, is why," Ginevra snapped. "And Granger, you're with me to be my backup brain on account of actually being smart. Penelope, you've got your usual B-team."

"Yes'm," came the chorus from the other seven novices.

The four girls of Fire Team Bravo (not Baker; Ginevra would never, ever call anything Baker again) ambled off towards one end of the starport's shopping concourse. Ginevra led Fire Team Alpha slowly, carefully towards the other end, into the buzz of the crowd and the blast of piped-in music:

You put yourself in stupid places
Yes I think you know it's true
situations where it's easy to look down on you


There were people everywhere, no two of them alike, all in different clothes and colors and body shapes and (oh help) smells. The sides of the wide concourse buzzed and glowed with shop signs. And there was that music, much too loud, and more disruptive to clear thinking than the roar of battle because it didn't sound like any war hymn Ginevra knew:

I think you like to be the victim
I think you like to be in pain
I think you make yourself the victim almost every single day


"Torres was joking about the tattoos, wasn't she?" Ginevra asked Granger, trying to whisper but having to raise her voice over the music and the crowd.

"I don't think so," Granger shout-whispered back. "The Book of Uniforms, Chapter XXXII, Verses 9 et seq, 'a Sister who has honorably completed a campaign, or a Novice having likewise completed her field training deployment, may memorialize said campaign with appropriate scarification or tattooing such as the authorized campaign badge, Sororitas fleur-de-lis, Imperial Aquila or Death's Head, or names of martyred comrades, such that...."

"Playback off, please," Ginevra said curtly. She was thinking hard now, or at least trying to think despite the music infiltrating her brain:

You know all the right people
You play all the right games
You always try to be everything to everyone


"And the coffee?" Ginevra asked after a moment.

"Um," Granger shrugged, "if our superior officer gives us authorization to ingest a particular stimulant...."

"What I want to know -- ma'am -- is why we have to be here at all," Portia interrupted. "Why can't we just take an Ecclesiarchy ship like the rest of..."

"Shut up Portia."

"Yes Provisional Squad Leader ma'am."

"We can't take ship with the rest of the Novices because they've already left, Portia," Ginevra said, "which is because we had our tour extended at the request of the Inquisitor himself, which as I've previously explained to you multiple fething times is a fething honor, and the next ship home just happens to be Adeptus Astartes."

"Who of course wouldn't be permitted to land at a Church facility," Granger sniffed. "The Marines don't even understand the God-Emperor's -- well -- God."

"So. Fething. Weird," Ginevra agreed.

"Wait, I thought these guys were Templars?" Portia said.

"No," Granger said snippily, "they're not decent Emperor-fearing Marines, just an oddball variant of Ultramarine geneseed that can grow beards for some reason. 'War Dogs,' I think. And where's Luna?"

"Oh gak," Ginevra said.

All three remaining girls looked around wildly, with a little more panic than they'd have shown in an actual combat situation with real live rounds incoming, because at least that was a familiar environment by now.

"O God-Emperor," Granger wailed to the heavens, or rather to the erratically flickering light strips in the ceiling, "Superior Torres, why did you send us out into this alone?"

You say they taught you to read and write
Yeah they taught you how to count
I say they taught you how to buy and sell your own body by the pound


"C'mon," Ginevra said, "stay together, Granger eyes right, Portia eyes left, move move move."

I think you like to be their simple toy
I think you love to play the clown
I think you are blind to the fact that the hand you hold is the hand that holds you down


"Gakgakgakkitygak gak," Ginevra muttered, trying to scan the crowd and shops systematically, "it's just like Luna to get lost and probably killed and raped and murdered by some creepazoid civilian in the first five minutes we...."

"Dumb blonde at 9 o'clock, range 10 meters," Portia said, pointing. Ginevra spun round and locked on target just in time to see a familiar golden head disappear into some kind of tiny shop full of paper print-out magazines and a lot of other things that were baffling but definitely, unmistakably, regrettably, shiny.

"We're going in," Ginevra said, Granger and Portia falling in step behind her. The three girls stormed towards the small, stinky shop, which had its own, entirely different music blaring. (Something about someone being unable to lie about liking big butts -- rifle butts maybe?). "We will stay focused on retrieving Sister Luna and exfiltrating her to -- ooh, they have Commissar Cain books?!"

"Focused," Portia sneered.

"Shut up Portia. Get Luna. I'm busy." Ginevra slowly spun the creaky wire rack full of dubious-looking paperbacks. "I have that one -- I have that one -- is that? No...Oh yes!" She snatched one triumphantly.

"Commissar Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, Volume 37: Slaughtering the Noseless Blue Xenos Filth-Scum of Gravalax, Part III?" Granger read skeptically over her shoulder. "Didn't you read it already?"

"I read Cho's copy before she redeployed," Ginevra pouted. "I don't have my own."

"So can't you just get it on your dataslate? Wouldn't that be...."

"Souvenir, hello!" Ginevra said, wagging the paperback in Granger's face. "It's a fitting reminder of the backwards planet on which we first fought and bled and killed and burned in the God-Emperor's glorious Name."

"I don't get it," Granger replied.

"Well, I will." Ginevra turned the book over and over. "I can't find a requisition number, though...."

"You have to buy it," Granger said witheringly. "With your money."

"Oh. Oh right." Ginevra turned a little red. "Then this little sticker is -- hmmm." Her eyes narrowed. "How do I know that's a fair price?"

Granger looked closely. "It's -- um -- only half a crown," she said. "We have ten each. Well, nine after bailing out Luna. Why do you care if...."

"A penny saved's a penny earned."

"What?"

"I..." Ginevra stopped. "I just remember hearing that somewhere, is all."

"It's like you're channeling some cranky old miser lady," Granger grumbled.

"Well, Novice Granger the financial genius," Ginevra snapped, "why don't you calculate whether it's a fair price or not, then?"

Granger blinked, opened her mouth, closed it again.

"Well?"

"Um, the gross planetary product was 87 trillion crowns before the uprising," Granger. "Um, so assuming that value has fallen in half from war damage, and, um, that there are, um, a million shops like this, each with a hundred books -- but wait, wartime inflation..."

"Oh for feth's sake, Granger."

"Well, just buy it then!"

"Well, I will!" Ginevra looked across the cluttered little shop to where the cashier sat inside a dirty box of mostly translucent and presumably bullet-proof plastic. He looked unshaven and slovenly and suspicious, in the dual sense of being a suspicious character and looking at the girls with suspicion.

"So I -- I just go up and give him the money things?" Ginevra said, a little weakly.

"Coins," Granger corrected.

"Fine!" Ginevra hissed. "You know so much about it, you go buy it!"

"I will not!" Granger whispered furiously. "It's your stupid book, you go up and talk to...."

"So, my good little man," came an elegant, arrogant, resounding voice, "bring down that geegaw at once so I can get a decent look at it."

Ginevra saw who was speaking and boggled. "Portia?"

The cashier glared at Portia from his dirty box. "I ain't good and I ain't little and I ain't yer man," he muttered. "Whatcha want?"

Portia took a second to recover her hauteur. "I want -- I want...." She gestured vaguely at the rack of items just above the cashier's head.

"She wants the shiny one," Luna chimed in, having sidled up soundlessly as she always did.

The cashier turned his turtle-like neck just enough to see where Luna was pointing. "Tha music player?"

"Yes," Portia said, uncertainly, and then, haughtily, "Yes. Give it here."

"Yer mama ain't never taughtcha to say 'please,' missy?" the cashier grumbled as he heaved himself off his stool and started unlocking the little silver box from the rack.

"Why are you buying that?" Granger whispered, coming up behind Portia. "It's probably incompatible with our hymnal systems and filled with filthy popular songs about -- about love and flowers and things."

"I want it," Portia said primly.

"That'll be sev..." the cashier began.

"It'll be a souvenir of this backwards hellhole," Portia went on, ignoring him.

"Eight crowns eighty," the cashier said.

Portia blanched.

"Ya buying?" He tapped it against his side of the plastic.

"Yes, yes, I am," Portia said, smacking down her money purse in the little tray. "You may keep the change."

"An' tha wallet?" the cashier said, sliding the tray over to his side, taking out the purse, and dumping in the music player before he slid it back.

"Ah -- certainly, my good little -- sure," Portia finished a little less imperiously than she probably would have liked.

Ginevra looked at Portia skeptically. "And where did you learn to be such a horrid condescending bitch? In the specific circumstances of shopping, I mean."

"I -- I don't know," Portia said, trembling between hauteur and tears. "Saw a lady do it once. A very elegant lady."

"Where?" Granger asked, but Ginevra had already pushed past her.

"This book says 50 pence," Ginevra said, squaring her shoulders, "but the cover's kind of wrinkled."

"Feth you. No discounts."

"But..."

"No."

"Okay," Ginevra said, slumping. She handed over a coin and got a bunch of smaller coins back, which she spent the next minute carefully counting and recounting with several suspicious looks at the cashier.

"What warp entities are possessing you two?" Granger asked. "And where's Luna?"

"Gak!" Ginevra and Portia said at once. All three girls surged back out of the shop and almost fell over the blonde.

"Look," said Luna, pointing across the shopping area, "we can go see a dancing show!"

The other novices stared uncertainly, blinking at the lights and wincing at the blaring music:

Hey you're a crazy bitch

"I dunno," Granger said, "those signs look garish, and everyone going in is an adult male...."

but you feth so good that I'm down with it

"But it says 'REAL LIVE GIRLS' on the sign," Luna pointed out. "We're real live girls. Why wouldn't they let us in?"

When I dream, I'm doing you all night

Ginevra shook her head. "I just have a bad feeling about this one, okay?"

scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Luna looked sad. "I want to dance."

"I know, I kinda do too, but..." Ginevra looked around for something to distract her.

A silver Imperial Aquila gleamed like a beacon of hope. In the shop window below it were death's heads and statuettes of saints. The sign said PILGRIM'S PLACE.

"Look!" Ginevra said. "Safe and shiny! Let's go there!" And she shoved the girls into the shop.

It was small and cramped but quiet, dimly lit and blessedly quiet. The only other people inside were a pair of little old ladies cooing over a painting of Saint Celestine. There was no one at the wooden counter, but there seemed to be another room behind it, an office perhaps, with someone bustling around inside.

"Wow," Granger whispered.

"Shiny," Luna squeaked.

"Lame," said Portia. "It's just crap versions of stuff we have back in the abbey."

"Shut up Portia."

"Yes Provisional Squad Leader ma'am."

"You're just sour because you spent all your money on a silly secular souvenir instead of something real," Ginevra said with a gesture that took in the whole shop. "An icon of our faith from the world where we first fought for it...."

"Can I help you young ladies?" came a gentle male voice.

Someone had been in the back room, and now he stood at the counter, a older, dark-skinned man -- darker even than Torres -- with a trim grey mustache and closed-cropped, curly grey hair.

"Welcome to Pilgrim's Place," he said. "I'm Mister Glass. And you...." He paused. His eyes flickered over their black uniforms, over the fleur-de-lis patches on their shoulders, and went wide. "You are Adepta Sororitas?"

"No, no, no," Ginevra said hastily. "Well, almost. Novices."

The little old ladies squealed. "Itty bitty Battle Sisters!" one said as they shuffled over with alarming speed. "They're so pretty and pure and sweet!"

"Please don't do that," Portia muttered as one of the little ladies got on a stool to pat her on the head.

Glass bowed and made the sign of the Imperial Aquila. "I'm honored to have you in my store, Daughters of the Emperor." He gestured. "Please, take anything you like."

"Okay!" Portia said brightly, reaching for a silver statuette of Saint Praxedes smashing Tyranids with her mace. Granger slapped her hand.

"No, no, Father Glass," Ginevra said, "we couldn't...."

"I'm not a priest, Little Sister," Glass said, "and it would be my honor."

"Oh -- okay," Ginevra said, gently fending off a little old lady standing on tiptoe to pinch her cheek. "Thank you." She looked around, hoping to find something inexpensive -- and stopped dead, staring at a picture of intricate looping patterns on the wall. "Those are beautiful."

"Thank you, Little Sister," Glass said, coming around the counter. "They're my own designs."

"Designs?" Ginevra asked. "Designs for what?"

Glass smiled. "Devotional tattoos."


***

"Bored now," Portia said. "Bored, like, an hour ago, actually."

"Shush," Granger said, not even looking up from the pretty little pocket hymnal she was reading. "We haven't even been here an hour."

"Still bored. When's Ginevra gonna...."

"Shush!"

"Fine." Portia slumped back against the wall and looked over to the corner where Luna was in animated and giggly conversation with the two little old ladies, who had somehow produced three tiny teacups, a teapot, and a plate of scones, all in a lovely blue floral pattern accented with silver skulls.

A shadow filled the shop window. Then something huge came in the door.

It was a man, to a first approximation. But he was so tall he had to duck his dark-haired head not to hit the lintel, so wide he had to go slightly sideways not to hit the sides of the doorframe. He had massive muscles on his thigh-sized arms and torso-sized legs. His running shorts were plain blue, but his t-shirt read "ROLL BLUE TIDE ROLL / legio xiii / GALACTIC CHAMPIONS M31-M41."

"Get out of here," Portia snapped, "you huge mutated...."

"Portia!" Granger gasped.

"So there you are," the massive man said with audible relief. "Thank Guilliman. Wait -- aren't there supposed to be four...."

"Listen, you hulking abhuman slab of meat," Portia lectured, going up on tiptoes in an attempt to look him in the eyes but only coming level with the bottom of his dark black beard. "And you listen good."

"Portia..." Granger repeated weakly.

"This shop is for decent humans made in the Emperor's image...."

The huge man choked back what sounded suspiciously like a laugh.

"Portia...."

"And you'd better drag your filthy bulk back..."

"Portia that is the Astartes."

"Oh." Portia looked up at the big smiling face and swallowed. "Oh. Hey. Sorry. I -- I kind of mistook you for someone else."

"It's the pauldrons," said the Space Marine. "Nobody recognizes us without the pauldrons. I'm Brother-Captain Manganiello, 3rd Company, Drop Hounds." He held out an enormous hand.

Portia shook it and squeaked, "I'm me."

"That's very true," the Marine replied. "Okay, I found the other four girls, and there should be four of you...."

"Oh my goodness an Astartes!" the two little old ladies shrieked in chorus. With almost military precision, one fell over backward in a faint as the other fell face-forward and prostrated herself upon the floor. (Fortunately neither had far to fall and they didn't seem hurt). "O Angel of Death!" cried the still-conscious little old lady in a high and quavery voice. "O living image of the God-Emperor! O....

"Oh boy," the Brother-Captain said. "This is why I wore civilian clothes. Where's the fourth girl?"

"Ginevra?" Portia said. "Um, she's in back."

"In back?"

"Getting a tattoo."

"Oh for feth's sake," Manganiello said in a low rumble, kind of like an exasperated dump truck. "You girls aren't allowed to do that!"

"Yes," Granger piped up nervously, "we actually are, Brother-Captain, Book of Uniforms, Chapter XXXI, Verse 9, 'a Sister who has honorably....'"

"Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah," interrupted the Marine. "Just get her out of -- oh, hey."

"What's going on?" asked Glass, emerging from the back room. "Brother Abhuman, you are welcome here, as long as you don't knock anything over and refrain from bellowing...."

"Astartes," Granger said.

"O God," Glass said and immediately prostrated himself.

"Gak!" The Brother-Captain threw up both hands in exasperation and made two holes in the ceiling. "Oh, dammit, sorry."

"I am honored that one of the God-Emperor's chosen should leave an imprint of His mighty hand...."

"Shut up." Manganiello covered his huge face in his huge hands, which were now lightly dusted with plaster. "Gak." He uncovered his face again. "Sorry, sorry, I didn't mean to snap, it's just very frustrating trying to get anything goddamn done."

"O glorious geneseed of the God-Emperor's mighty Sons...." wailed the little old lady.

Granger sniffed. "He doesn't even believe in the God-Emperor, you know," she muttered darkly to no one in particular.

The Brother-Captain rubbed his temples. "Can someone get the fourth girl out of the tattoo parlor before she gets, I don't know, dicks drawn on her face or Chaos sigils or something....?"

"I'm here, Brother-Captain," Ginevra said, stepping around the corner. Eyes as keen as a Marine's might have noticed blue markings on her upper arms in the instant before she pulled her uniform jacket back on over them. "I'm fine."

"Oh thank Guilliman," Manganiello said. "No face dicks."

"Uh, no," Ginevra said, staring at him uncertainly before saluting. "I'm Provisional Novice Squad Leader Ginevra."

"Yeah, great, then you should know better," the Brother-Captain said. "Your Sister Superior should know better. Sheesh. Let's get out of here." He turned on one huge heel with shocking agility and stepped out the door without remembering to duck. "Gak. Sorry!"

"It is an honor to have the imprint of your head..."

"Oh for feth's sake."

"Here!" Ginevra said, throwing her little money purse at Glass as she and the other girls scurried out of the shop.

"But it was my gift!" he cried.

"Then use it to fix the door!" she yelled and ran to catch up with the great strides of the Astartes.

"It is an honor...." Glass replied, but the rest was drowned out by the crowd as they dove into it.

"What a mess," Manganiello said, trying to rub plaster dust out of his curly black hair. "What a feth-up. I hate, hate, hate civilian areas."

"Superior Torres knows what she's doing, Brother-Captain," Ginevra snapped, finishing the last buttons on her jacket.

"Sure she does, Little Sister," the Astartes sighed. "Sure. Let me tell you, kid, I wouldn't let a bunch of teenagers loose unsupervised in civie country, and my Scouts at least have, y'know, some idea of what life outside the Adeptus is like. I mean, they had childhoods, they had fething parents, they....."

He caught the stricken look in Ginevra's eyes before she realized it was there. "Geez, kid, sorry," the Marine said. "That was over the line. My bad."

"It's -- it's a privilege to have entered the Emperor's service so early," Ginevra said.

"Uh-huh."

They crossed the crowded spaceport concourse in silence -- well, except for the crowd and the music blaring well I guess this is growing up -- with the four girls moving easily in the Space Marine's wake.

Granger finally spoke up. "So nobody ever guesses you're, um...."

"Nope." Manganiello grinned. "Everybody pictures us in power armor. Wear your workout gear and everyone just thinks you're an abnormally handsome abhuman."

"I don't think you're abnormally handsome," Luna chimed in.

The Brother-Captain sighed. "Handsome for an abhuman, I mean."

"You're cute, though."

The Astartes' ears turned bright red, but all he said was, "Finally!"

They could see other half of the squad now, which had already gathered around the stack of shipping containers and Sister Torres.

"Hello, my prodigals," the Sister Superior said. "'And a hulking gorilla shall lead them' -- not quite the verse I had in mind, but it'll do. Did you girls have fun?"

"Ma'am, yes, ma'...." Ginevra began.

"This one was getting a tattoo," interrupted the Marine. "Did you authorize that?"

Torres raised an eyebrow. "In general terms."

"Ma'am excuse me ma'am but the Book of Uniforms Chapter XXXIII Verse 9 says...."

"Thank you, Granger," Torres said, cutting her off mid-gabble. She turned back to Ginevra. "Let's see it."

Ginevra looked at her feet. "It's -- it's still a little sore, ma'am."

"I'm sure it is," Torres said. "Sore but not, I presume, invisible."

"Yes, ma'am," Ginevra said. She took a deep breath, stood at attention, and looked Torres straight in the eyes as she took off her jacket.

It was warm, so she was just wearing her regulation tank-top underneath. Everyone could see at once the delicate blue calligraphy written on each arm, just below the shoulder. They could even read it.

"'Michael,'" Sister Torres said, looking at the right arm. "That's the Guardsman who died, isn't it?"

"One of them, ma'am, yes."

"Good choice. Not a typical choice, to memorialize someone outside the Sisterhood, but the Imperial Guard deserves all the respect it gets." Torres moved around to the other side. "'Rafael'?"

"Rafael Sibelius Eckhart, ma'am. The heretic I burned," Ginevra said. "I mean, the first one."

"Really."

"He told me -- he told me to remember him, ma'am," Ginevra said, "and I want to. I want to remember that the enemy sometimes has a name and a heart and a human face that still needs burning anyway."

Brother-Captain Manganiello winced.

"That's not the kind of memorial listed in the regulations," Torres said softly.

"Not explicitly, ma'am. But the list of examples says 'such as,' ma'am, it's not exhaustive."

"I'll allow it."

"Thank you, ma'am." Ginevra began to pull her jacket back on.

"Wait."

"Ma'am?"

"The third name, Ginevra. Did you think I didn't notice?"

Ginevra froze.

"I can see the tops of the letters over the hem of your shirt, dear." Torres smiled, not warmly. "What is the name you have written over your heart, Ginevra?"

Ginevra closed her eyes and pulled her shirt down slightly so everyone could read:

SUSAN.

"Ah," her Superior said.

"Ma'am," Ginevra said, eyes still shut tight, "I will never say her name aloud, I will never speak of her to anyone, but I want to remember for myself, if only to remind me what not to...."

She stopped. She could hear a familiar whine.

Ginevra opened her eyes. Sister Torres was powering up her plasma pistol.

"Wait a fething minute," Captain Manganiello boomed. "I don't know who this Susan is or was...."

"She is not and never was," Torres said, almost sleepily, without taking her hand off the power stub or her eyes off Ginevra.

"Fine, whatever -- religious nutbags -- but this is crazy," the Marine said. "C'mon, she's a kid, she's 15 years old...."

"Sixteen now," Luna interjected unhelpfully.

".... ok, 16, she's a teenage kid," Manganiello said. "Teenagers make mistakes, Superior!"

"They do," Torres said, still locking eyes with Ginevra. "They waste limited skin on words that have no meaning."

Portia choked. "Oh God, Ginevra, say something. Say you're sorry, say you didn't mean it, say anything...."

Ginevra said nothing. Everything was silent except for the distant roar of the spaceport crowd -- it seemed worlds away now -- and the whine of the pistol.

"Ma'am," Granger said, voice quavering. "Ma'am, if you keep cycling your plasma pistol like that, it's going to overheat, it's unsafe...."

"Yes," Torres said. Her voice was low and soft and dreamy, her eyes half-closed. "It is."

She held the pistol out towards Ginevra -- not pointing the barrel at her, holding it sideways.

"Take off your shirt," Torres said.

Ginevra wordlessly took off her shirt, leaving her in just her boots, trousers, and bra, the word SUSAN now completely unobscured.

Torres pressed the white-hot breech of her plasma pistol against the letters.

Luna screamed.

Ginevra didn't make a sound. She didn't move. She just stood there, every muscle clenched, eyes still locked with Sister Torres, as the air filled with a sizzling sound and the smell of burning flesh.

Portia threw up.

"Oh feth," Manganiello said. "You fething maniacs. You fething fanatical sadomasochistic maniacs."

The plasma pistol's whine cut off abruptly. The sizzling sound went on a second longer. Then Torres pulled the gun away from Ginevra and holstered it.

Ginevra slumped forward and almost fell. Manganiello and Granger both rushed to catch her, but she righted herself before anyone could touch her.

"May -- may I put my jacket back on now, ma'am?" Ginevra croaked.

"In a moment, my dear," Torres said. She picked up the black jacket and ripped off the Aquila badge, then handed it back. "There you go, dear."

"Ma'am. Thank you, ma'am." Ginevra's voice was a dry rasp.

"You're welcome, my dear."

Torres walked away and took her seat on the grey caskets again, picked back up her cup of coffee, picked up her book. Ginevra stood in the same place, swaying slightly, eyes focused on nothing in particular.

"So...." Portia began, stopped, started again. "Does this mean I'm Provisional Squad Leader again?"

"Shut up Portia," Luna said calmly.

"Good point," said Portia.

"Oh God," said Granger, scrabbling in her medical kit, "hold on, Ginny, I've got this, hold on..."

"No," said Superior Torres.

"'No'?" Granger wailed.

"I do not authorize the use of Sororitas medical supplies for injuries not incurred in the line of duty," Torres said, taking a sip of her coffee, eyes still on her book. "Stow your bag."

Granger slumped.

"You don't authorize the use of Sororitas medical supplies," Manganiello growled.

"Correct, Brother-Captain."

"Fine." The Marine swept Ginevra off her feet and carried her off in his arms like the child she actually was.


***


"Feth, kid, I'm really sorry." Manganiello dipped one huge finger into the tub of burn cream and smeared it on Ginevra's chest. She winced. "Sorry."

"It's okay," she said hoarsely.

"I should never have said anything. If -- if I'd had any idea..."

"It's okay," Ginevra said again. "I deserved it."

"No!" Manganiello slammed his hand down on the little metal café table so hard it rang and bent a little and almost fell over, so he had to wrench it back into shape. Eyes all around, already staring at the giant and the girl, widened. He glared at them and they all looked away. "No," he said again, more softly, "no, you didn't."

Ginevra smiled very slightly. "You don't believe in the God-Emperor, do you?"

"What? Of course I believe in the Emperor," the Marine said. "He's plenty real."

"But you don't believe He's God. Even though you're genetically engineered in His image."

"Wellllll," Manganiello said, smearing on more burn cream, "we Astartes believe that the Emperor was and is the ideal human -- a great warrior, a great leader, a great scientist, a great psyker -- unequalled by any mortal before or since, natural or augmented, and we revere him as the author of our genetic...."

"So, no," Ginevra said.

"Yeah."

Ginevra chuckled slightly, then winced again. "I can't understand that," she said. "How can you not believe? Being what you are, how can you not feel His might and mercy in your every cell?"

"His mercy," Manganiello rumbled, "was not much in evidence today."

"I disobeyed an order and I lived," Ginevra replied.

"Feth."

The two sat in silence for a while, him rubbing more burn cream onto her wound. His hands were huge and leathery but unexpectedly gentle.

That was an unsettling thought.

"You can stop now," Ginevra said, wondering at herself.

"Stop?"

"I mean, you've reached the point of diminishing returns with the ointment," she told him hastily.

He looked at the gooey mess he'd layered on her chest and had to laugh. "Okay, okay, I'm overcompensating out of guilt. I'm sorry." He wiped his hand on a pathetically small napkin. "I'm sorry I didn't have any proper Astartes medicine on me," he added, "I didn't expect to be treating any wounds today, I just grabbed the first thing at the first pharmacy I could find....."

"Thank you for trying," Ginevra said, and she was shocked to have to choke back tears.

"Oh, kid, kid," the Space Marine said, taken aback. Then he took a breath, set his shoulders, and -- with tremendous caution -- hugged her.

"Please don't do that," she said, muffled by his massive chest.

"Sorry."

"It makes it harder for me not to cry," Ginevra said, "and you need more deodorant."

"Yeah, I know, it's something in our geneseed that makes our pits -- well, yeah."

There was an awkward pause, him hunched over in a chair too small for him, her rocking slightly back and forth in a chair too large for her.

"Do you want me to take you back now?" he asked at last.

"No," she said.

"Do you want -- do you want me to take you somewhere else?"

"Yes," she said. "Yes. I would like you to take me dancing."

".....What."


***


"I haven't done this since before I joined the Marines," the Brother-Captain said. He gingerly wrapped one of his hands completely around Ginevra's wrist and put his other against the small of her back, which in relative terms looked very small indeed. "I mean, my parents made me take lessons, but that was before the trials and the whole six-months-naked-in-the-wilderness thing and the genetic augmentation and the -- hell, I think the last time I danced with anyone was in junior high."

"I've never done it," she answered, looking at the couples dancing past. None of them seemed to be holding each other in the formal pose the Space Marine was going for. They were usually just wrapping arms around each others' necks and kinda grinding their bodies together, but Ginevra found that prospect unnerving, so she figured she'd let Manganiello try it his way.

I'd heard there was a secret chord
that David played and it pleased the Lord
but you don't really care for music, do ya?


The music sounded almost like a hymn, she decided, and that was comforting.

"So," the Brother-Captain said, "um, I guess I'd better lead?"

"You're the captain," Ginevra replied, "and I'm -- and I am no one."

"Don't say that," he said as he started to move her, lifting her up so she kind of skimmed the dance floor with her toes. "Don't ever say that. I'm just worried I'm gonna step on you...."

"If you tread upon my feet, I'll just say so," she said.

"No, I think you'll howl with agony as your bones crunch...."

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew ya


Ginevra let him move her, more or less in time with the music, and tried to figure out what she was feeling. She could sense an unfamiliar pressure building in her chest, but only in her chest, not in the -- not in the other places the sermons mentioned when warning young novices against Damnable Desires. The warmth coming off his massive body and his strong hands reminded her of something, something so deeply buried she couldn't remember what it was.

Baby I've been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya


"Oh, feth this," the Space Marine said suddenly. He lifted her up entirely off the floor, pulled her to his chest, and lowered her gently so she was standing on top of his feet. "There," he said. "Now I don't have to worry about stepping on you."

The tears came and Ginevra still did not know why.

There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do ya?


And then she saw.

Ginevra saw a grown man dancing with a little girl, her arms wrapped tight around his waist, her face against his slightly paunchy belly, her feet on top of his.

"Her father," Ginevra whispered.

"Hmmm?" Manganiello asked.

"I have to go," she choked. She somehow slipped out of his arms before his superhuman reflexes could react and ran, half-blind with tears, across the dance floor, careening off couples in her way.

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew ya


"Hey!" the Brother-Captain shouted, and some of the couples she'd hit cursed at her, but she was through the crowd and out the dance hall door, with only the music in pursuit:

It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah


She outran the music and she stifled the tears. But as soon as her eyes cleared, she suddenly could see them everywhere:

Fathers holding their daughters by the hand, dragging them out of toy stores or scolding them or buying them ice cream or just walking together with quiet smiles.

Mothers shoving squabbling kids ahead of them or corralling them into restaurants or drying their tears or walking along with a child holding either hand.

Families -- oh God, entire families -- walking together.

Ginevra threw up in an already overflowing waste basket and lurched over to a railing she could lean on. She had gotten up to a higher level somehow, or maybe she'd stayed on the same floor and there were more levels below she hadn't known about, because she was on some kind of walkway. She was overlooking an atrium ringed by tier after tier of stores, going down it seemed into the dark depths of the planet.

She watched a mom, a dad, and four squabbling kids of various sizes hustle underneath her on the level just below. It was only three meters down, she realized, she could just jump. Jump down and run away and rip off her insignia and never come back.

And then what? she asked herself. She wouldn't be walking alone into a ruined city in an active warzone like -- like someone she wouldn't name -- but she was still more likely to get robbed or raped or murdered than to find a family who'd accept her. And if she found a family -- what would she do with them? Sit around the dinner table with them and talk about urban purification tactics? Go shopping with them and keep looking for a requisition number instead of a price tag? Go dancing with them? Hug them? She didn't even know what families did with each other.

Or she could jump from a slightly different spot, Ginevra realized, and she'd just keep going down and down and down until she hit something, and even then part of her would still be going down forever in the dark. That was tempting.

"No," she whispered to herself. "Neither."

She took a deep breath and stood up straight, straight like a soldier, straight like a Battle Sister of the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas, straight like someone unnamable walking away into the ruins, straight like Rafael Sibelius Eckhart tied to a stake and awaiting execution.

"I will be a Sister of Battle," Ginevra whispered to herself. "I will be a Sister of whatever the Emperor needs me to be."

She turned to go back, but Brother Manganiello and Sister Torres were already there, standing together just a few meters away, watching her, silent.

Ginevra went down on one knee.

"The Emperor is my father," she said. "His church is my mother. The Adepta Sororitas are my sisters, the Astartes and the Guard my brothers. The people of the Imperium are my sons and daughters. Martyrdom is my bridegroom, and battle is our wedding rite."

Torres smiled, a little teary-eyed. Manganiello's expression was unreadable. Ginevra took another deep breath.

"Let those whom I protect have peace," she recited. "Let those who grow weary find respite, and those who repent their sins receive forgiveness. But as for me...."

Ginevra took one last deep breath.

"....there is only war."


Edited April 29 to add that bit of detail to just-before-the-ending people said it needed.

This message was edited 8 times. Last update was at 2015/07/27 01:41:38


BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN BABY BURN IT DOWN

Novice Ginevra stories: Bolter B-Word Privileges (Sisters of Battle), Ollanius Pius Requiem (Sisters & Guard), Able Baker (Inquisition), The Beginning & Dancing with the Astartes (Marines)
A sequel: Army of Minerva - A Sister Ginevra Story
And you should read Lynta on why there is no canon in 40K

 Psienesis wrote:
Well, if you check out Sister Sydney's homebrew/expansion rules, you'll find all kinds of units the Sisters could have, that fit with the theme of the Sisters (as a tabletop army) perfectly well, and are damn-near-perfectly balanced.

 
   
Made in sa
Bane Lord Tartar Sauce





Saudi Arabia

Not quite so hard a kick in the feels as Able Baker, but still an excellent look into the broader setting of the 40k universe and the sheer absurdity of its principal players.

IMPOSSIBLE IS RELATIVE
Boss, everything you make is gold.

Dubstep Tau, let there be LIGHT.
Blind them with SCIENCE, a tutorial series for adding LEDs and effects to your models.
Powerlifting and Plasma, a Romantic Comedy 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Well, it's .... a happy ending? .... sort of?

BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN BABY BURN IT DOWN

Novice Ginevra stories: Bolter B-Word Privileges (Sisters of Battle), Ollanius Pius Requiem (Sisters & Guard), Able Baker (Inquisition), The Beginning & Dancing with the Astartes (Marines)
A sequel: Army of Minerva - A Sister Ginevra Story
And you should read Lynta on why there is no canon in 40K

 Psienesis wrote:
Well, if you check out Sister Sydney's homebrew/expansion rules, you'll find all kinds of units the Sisters could have, that fit with the theme of the Sisters (as a tabletop army) perfectly well, and are damn-near-perfectly balanced.

 
   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

Good stuff, as per usual. The characterisation remains great, as does the presentation of the less-often-seen aspects of 40k.

However, there were a couple of things that I'm not sure worked here.

- The music I wasn't sure about, although I suppose they did have a meaning within the story. It's just 20th/21st music in 40k that seems a little out of place.

- The characterisation of the Space Marine also felt a little odd to me. The more down-to-earth nature works amazingly with the Novices, but I think I prefer Space Marines to be more aloof, more distant, and less human. This may just be a matter of preference, though, and it's obvious why you've chosen that style to fit the story.

On a less critical note, the ending, although tragic, was great, A real reminder of the grimdark setting. In the last few lines I was internally screaming at Ginerva 'don't do it! Run away!', a testament to how real and developed you've made these characters. I'll have to re-read them all in order at some point, but even as a standalone this was very good.

Any idea where you're going to take your writing next?

Paradigm's New Blog- 02/12: Reign of the Supermenl

Available for Commission Work. PM me for details. 
   
Made in gb
Mekboy Hammerin' Somethin'





Papua New Guinea

Aww, all growed up. You spelt Glass as 'Grass' once but I assume that Granger not getting the right number of 'I's in XXXIII was intentional? Not so smart after all!

I liked it and the Marine's t-shirt made me chuckle out loud.

Well done on your exams by the way.


Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Show me your god and I'll send you a warhead because my god's bigger than your god.
 
   
Made in sa
Bane Lord Tartar Sauce





Saudi Arabia

 SisterSydney wrote:
Well, it's .... a happy ending? .... sort of?


Well, it's as happy an ending as the story could have. When Ginevra is contemplating her jumps, she's really exploring all the possibilities for the future. Her story only has a finite number of ways out: death, frantic escape and eventual pursuit and death, or a lifetime of service culminating in, you guessed it, death. I do think that her decision to stay came on a bit too easily, like that scene could have used just a few more seconds of turmoil. Perhaps when she's contemplating her escape, a thought could flash through her mind of herself as an aging priestess in some backwater church way out in the plains where the Inquisition wouldn't think of looking for her, but then she realizes that the number of souls she'd save in that little parish somewhere pales in comparison to the lives she could be saving as a bolter bitch. If you've ever seen 25th Hour (if not, shame on you, go download that gak and watch it right the feth now) you just have to picture the father's speech at the end as Edward Norton is contemplating his own escape.

IMPOSSIBLE IS RELATIVE
Boss, everything you make is gold.

Dubstep Tau, let there be LIGHT.
Blind them with SCIENCE, a tutorial series for adding LEDs and effects to your models.
Powerlifting and Plasma, a Romantic Comedy 
   
Made in sa
Bane Lord Tartar Sauce





Saudi Arabia

I'm also kind of disappointed that you skipped the pure comedy gold of having a group of novice Sisters walk into a strip club, especially when Luna would be easily entranced by the shiny pole and Portia could totally lose her cool and try to drag the girl offstage only to have them both fall into a conveniently placed mud (or jello, I'm not picky) wrestling pit while Ginny and Granger (in the future, know when not to base your names on Harry Potter) watch in a kind of catatonic disbelief.

You missed the chance to have me spitting my coffee out on my computer screen, is what I'm saying.

IMPOSSIBLE IS RELATIVE
Boss, everything you make is gold.

Dubstep Tau, let there be LIGHT.
Blind them with SCIENCE, a tutorial series for adding LEDs and effects to your models.
Powerlifting and Plasma, a Romantic Comedy 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Yes, I understand, I enjoy The Nargles in the Air rather too much, and, at age 17, I wrote a story in which the heroine and villainess are battling in the kind of power armor you can't wear much under and then fall off the building onto the lawn about 50 stories below, which breaks the suits but not their will to get out and fight on hand-to-hand -- at which point the lawn sprinklers go off.
But it didn't fit here, mate, it really didn't.

As for the ending:
I.... I didn't make Ginevra suffer enough? Oh no!
Actually, I may want to drag the pain out a little more. Thoughts for the rewrite when I put these together in an article.
I'm glad it had punch, though. It's easy to say "there is only WAR!," but the whole point of these stories is that can't be true for everybody all the time. The grimdark really hurts when you know that people have an alternative they're giving up.

Music:
Was a deliberate experiment, and not without risk, so I'm very interested in people's opinions on whether it worked or not.
There are just so many songs that I listen to when I brainstorm those stories (not when writing -- can't concentrate) and some of them have stuck in my head, I wanted to try including some of them. The piped-in music in the spaceport gave me an excuse to do a soundtrack in-story.
Yes, the songs are all late 20th or early 21st century, but they also have familiar names, speak English with a dash of butchered Latin, etc. I attribute all these things to what TvTropes calls the Translation Convention: They're really speaking Low and High Gothic, have utterly foreign names like "Q@zba(k 32," and are listening to 41st Millennium pop music entirely composed of dischordant pinging sounds, but since that would be completely unintelligible to the readers, we translate all of it into contemporary English and contemporary cultural references.
Bonus Sydney Points to whoever names the most songs correctly.

Space Marine characterization:
Yes, I had fun with that. All my characters are more down-to-earth, scruffy, and generally human than their counterparts in most 40K fluff, with the notable exception of Commissar Ciaphas Cain & co. (which is why the Cain books are the only 40K fiction I can actually stand to read).
But Brother-Captain Manganiello is exceptionally down-to-earth. (Bonus Sydney points if you recognize the name without Googling it). I wrote him that way to make him a good foil for Torres and the naive Novices. I could also have a contrast if I made him much more fanatical than them, since this is a fairly laid-back bunch of girls by Sororitas standards, but then he would've come off as kind of a dick, and I wanted him sympathetic.
In fact, when I finished the story, I realized that the genetically augmented centuries-old superhuman war machine was in fact the most human character in it. He's the Only Sane Man pointing out all the crazy around him in much the same way the reader would. And "Joe Astartes" is my mental model for the Ultramarines and most of their offspring, who in my headcanon are in fact pretty low-key guys who get terribly, terribly embarrassed by the in-universe propaganda that we're actually reading when we read the fluff.

Typos: I'll fix Grass/Glass. I'll leave Granger's error as it is -- it was not intentional on my part but does end up being a subtle way of showing how rattled she is. Very subtle. So subtle I'm a little worried that Gogsnik noticed it.....

Finally, Gogsnik: Thanks, mate. I'm pretty sure I passed. 90% of people did in the program's worst year on record, and I'm a professional writer who didn't have a nervous breakdown during the test, so I think I'm safe.

BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN BABY BURN IT DOWN

Novice Ginevra stories: Bolter B-Word Privileges (Sisters of Battle), Ollanius Pius Requiem (Sisters & Guard), Able Baker (Inquisition), The Beginning & Dancing with the Astartes (Marines)
A sequel: Army of Minerva - A Sister Ginevra Story
And you should read Lynta on why there is no canon in 40K

 Psienesis wrote:
Well, if you check out Sister Sydney's homebrew/expansion rules, you'll find all kinds of units the Sisters could have, that fit with the theme of the Sisters (as a tabletop army) perfectly well, and are damn-near-perfectly balanced.

 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






PS: What's wrong with naming all the girls after Harry Potter characters and the adults after Firefly or (in one case) True Blood actors?

Besides the fact that it's incredibly juvenile of me, of course, but as long as I'm writing fanfic, I might as well "borrow" lots of people's intellectual property, from Leonard Cohen to JK Rowling, not just GW's.

BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN BABY BURN IT DOWN

Novice Ginevra stories: Bolter B-Word Privileges (Sisters of Battle), Ollanius Pius Requiem (Sisters & Guard), Able Baker (Inquisition), The Beginning & Dancing with the Astartes (Marines)
A sequel: Army of Minerva - A Sister Ginevra Story
And you should read Lynta on why there is no canon in 40K

 Psienesis wrote:
Well, if you check out Sister Sydney's homebrew/expansion rules, you'll find all kinds of units the Sisters could have, that fit with the theme of the Sisters (as a tabletop army) perfectly well, and are damn-near-perfectly balanced.

 
   
Made in sa
Bane Lord Tartar Sauce





Saudi Arabia

If you want a great read that isn't the usual bolter-porn, I would read The Emperor's Gift, a novel about Grey Knights and the First Armageddon War. There is a fantastic scene where a group of people come face to face with Bjorn the Fellhanded and completely lose their minds trying to act all pious before him, and he's just like "Oh not this crap again."

IMPOSSIBLE IS RELATIVE
Boss, everything you make is gold.

Dubstep Tau, let there be LIGHT.
Blind them with SCIENCE, a tutorial series for adding LEDs and effects to your models.
Powerlifting and Plasma, a Romantic Comedy 
   
Made in us
Calm Celestian




Florida, USA

First off, just finished reading all five in order, and well, hot damn! Quit your day job and just do this.

Songs:

Everclear - Everything to Everyone
Sir-Mix-A-Lot - Baby Got Back
Buckcherry - Crazy Bitch
Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah

That's all I've got.

There is a fine line between genius and insanity and I colored it in with crayon. 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Ha! Thanks. All correct. There are two really subtle references you missed, though -- one is a single line of a Blink-182 song and the other is actually a Kasey Chambers quote in the dialogue.

Also I forgot to thank Gogsnik for saying he enjoyed the Ultramarines t-shirt. I had fun there.

BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN BABY BURN IT DOWN

Novice Ginevra stories: Bolter B-Word Privileges (Sisters of Battle), Ollanius Pius Requiem (Sisters & Guard), Able Baker (Inquisition), The Beginning & Dancing with the Astartes (Marines)
A sequel: Army of Minerva - A Sister Ginevra Story
And you should read Lynta on why there is no canon in 40K

 Psienesis wrote:
Well, if you check out Sister Sydney's homebrew/expansion rules, you'll find all kinds of units the Sisters could have, that fit with the theme of the Sisters (as a tabletop army) perfectly well, and are damn-near-perfectly balanced.

 
   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

 SisterSydney wrote:

Music:
Was a deliberate experiment, and not without risk, so I'm very interested in people's opinions on whether it worked or not.
There are just so many songs that I listen to when I brainstorm those stories (not when writing -- can't concentrate) and some of them have stuck in my head, I wanted to try including some of them. The piped-in music in the spaceport gave me an excuse to do a soundtrack in-story.
Yes, the songs are all late 20th or early 21st century, but they also have familiar names, speak English with a dash of butchered Latin, etc. I attribute all these things to what TvTropes calls the Translation Convention: They're really speaking Low and High Gothic, have utterly foreign names like "Q@zba(k 32," and are listening to 41st Millennium pop music entirely composed of dischordant pinging sounds, but since that would be completely unintelligible to the readers, we translate all of it into contemporary English and contemporary cultural references.
Bonus Sydney Points to whoever names the most songs correctly.

I do think it worked, and the lyrics did add to the story. I might try reading it without the lyrics in to see if it changes any of it. It was just a little jarring at the start. Certainly effective though.

Space Marine characterization:
Yes, I had fun with that. All my characters are more down-to-earth, scruffy, and generally human than their counterparts in most 40K fluff, with the notable exception of Commissar Ciaphas Cain & co. (which is why the Cain books are the only 40K fiction I can actually stand to read).
But Brother-Captain Manganiello is exceptionally down-to-earth. (Bonus Sydney points if you recognize the name without Googling it). I wrote him that way to make him a good foil for Torres and the naive Novices. I could also have a contrast if I made him much more fanatical than them, since this is a fairly laid-back bunch of girls by Sororitas standards, but then he would've come off as kind of a dick, and I wanted him sympathetic.
In fact, when I finished the story, I realized that the genetically augmented centuries-old superhuman war machine was in fact the most human character in it. He's the Only Sane Man pointing out all the crazy around him in much the same way the reader would. And "Joe Astartes" is my mental model for the Ultramarines and most of their offspring, who in my headcanon are in fact pretty low-key guys who get terribly, terribly embarrassed by the in-universe propaganda that we're actually reading when we read the fluff.


This is interesting. In most 40k fiction I've read, the character that basically provides an audience voice for anything involving SM is generally a PDF/Guard soldier, a human seeing a demigod. So reversing that does show just how insane/inhuman the SOB are, which works. Again, it's just a little outside the norm (if there is a norm in 40k).

I also find that view of marines as a whole rather intriguing; it's not something I would necessarily agree with (I can see IG propaganda blowing stuff out of proportion, but I think fluff-SM are as good as they are made out to me.... This may just be because I have 6 space marine armies, though). Your theory is certainly credible, and offers a very different spin on 40k.

About the ending, as others have said, I think it maybe could be longer. The reference to the other stories was a great way of tying it all up, but maybe a couple of flash-forwards to life as either a full Sister or some priestess or runaway could be an interesting way of doing it, just to really get that 'time stands still' moment across.

Once more, though, great stuff.

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Made in sa
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Saudi Arabia

While this is a nice ending to Novice Ginevra, since from this point on she'll be a full fledged Sister, the time you've taken to develop the characters has made this fertile ground for the growth of future tales.

IMPOSSIBLE IS RELATIVE
Boss, everything you make is gold.

Dubstep Tau, let there be LIGHT.
Blind them with SCIENCE, a tutorial series for adding LEDs and effects to your models.
Powerlifting and Plasma, a Romantic Comedy 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Thanks. I'm not saying Brother-Captain Manganiello isn't a terrifying demi-god of war when he needs to be, just that he's a pretty regular guy the rest of the time. Perhaps he's even self-consciously trying to act "normal" so he doesn't make civilians freak out more than his sheer size already does. (You saw his frustration at being worshipped). Though my mental image of him even among his own troops is pretty matter-of-fact.

"Okay, brothers, buncha Tyranids again today, here's the briefing slides. Gonna drop the hammer on their fethin' heads at these three points and converge on the objective -- pretty standard -- place the targeting beacon on it so the Navy fethers can actually hit something for a change and then exfil fast, fast, fast before they swarm us. Any questions? No, Bob, you can't bring a 'nid back as a pet. Any real questions? Ok, roll Blue Tide roll!"

Of course, his chapter (Drop Hounds) doesn't have to be representative of the Ultramarines-descended chapters, any more than my Novices have to be representative of the Sororitas.

BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN BABY BURN IT DOWN

Novice Ginevra stories: Bolter B-Word Privileges (Sisters of Battle), Ollanius Pius Requiem (Sisters & Guard), Able Baker (Inquisition), The Beginning & Dancing with the Astartes (Marines)
A sequel: Army of Minerva - A Sister Ginevra Story
And you should read Lynta on why there is no canon in 40K

 Psienesis wrote:
Well, if you check out Sister Sydney's homebrew/expansion rules, you'll find all kinds of units the Sisters could have, that fit with the theme of the Sisters (as a tabletop army) perfectly well, and are damn-near-perfectly balanced.

 
   
Made in gb
Wight Lord with the Sword of Kings






UK

I liked it alot - but then thats been true of all your work.

It kinda fits most of my own views of 40k Universe as described by Abnet, ADB and S. Mitchel so that goods.

You have mastered the art of make the darker elements worse by contrasting periods of ligtht - most impressive....




I AM A MARINE PLAYER

"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/528517.page

A Bloody Road - my Warhammer Fantasy Fiction 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Than you, Mr. Modern. Who's "ADB"? Maybe an author I should be reading? Book recommendations are a good thing.

 bossfearless wrote:
While this is a nice ending to Novice Ginevra, since from this point on she'll be a full fledged Sister, the time you've taken to develop the characters has made this fertile ground for the growth of future tales.


Thanks. I have some vague ideas for "Sister Ginevra" stories, where she'd still be a protagonist or even the main one. I even have an idea for a story where the reader sees actual combat... briefly, from a command-and-control Valkyrie when it touches down to drop off the Canoness before immediately rocketing back up out of range of ground fire. Also ideas about how the really annoying part of being bombarded with long-range artillery is how debris ends up falling in your coffee. And a very, very messy death in a non-combat accident due to faulty maintenance.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2014/03/24 18:35:23


BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN BABY BURN IT DOWN

Novice Ginevra stories: Bolter B-Word Privileges (Sisters of Battle), Ollanius Pius Requiem (Sisters & Guard), Able Baker (Inquisition), The Beginning & Dancing with the Astartes (Marines)
A sequel: Army of Minerva - A Sister Ginevra Story
And you should read Lynta on why there is no canon in 40K

 Psienesis wrote:
Well, if you check out Sister Sydney's homebrew/expansion rules, you'll find all kinds of units the Sisters could have, that fit with the theme of the Sisters (as a tabletop army) perfectly well, and are damn-near-perfectly balanced.

 
   
Made in gb
Wight Lord with the Sword of Kings






UK

ADB = Aaron Dembski Bowden

He writes really awesome 40k Stories - my favourite is Helsreach, but the Night Lords Trilogy is close behind.

Lots of interesting ideas, characters, twists and turns and unusal story structures. HIGHLY recomend.

I AM A MARINE PLAYER

"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/528517.page

A Bloody Road - my Warhammer Fantasy Fiction 
   
Made in no
Generalleutnant





Muslpelheim

 Mr Morden wrote:
ADB = Aaron Dembski Bowden

He writes really awesome 40k Stories - my favourite is Helsreach, but the Night Lords Trilogy is close behind.

Lots of interesting ideas, characters, twists and turns and unusal story structures. HIGHLY recomend.


Agreed on all acounts, ABB really produces some awesome stories for 40k
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Thanks. I'll do my usual hunt for used copies on Amazon....

Also: I'm curious, anyone pick up on how Ginevra and Portia were behaving in the first shop? Granger is right when she says they're "channeling" other people -- five Meaningless Sydney Points to the first person to guess correctly who.

BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN BABY BURN IT DOWN

Novice Ginevra stories: Bolter B-Word Privileges (Sisters of Battle), Ollanius Pius Requiem (Sisters & Guard), Able Baker (Inquisition), The Beginning & Dancing with the Astartes (Marines)
A sequel: Army of Minerva - A Sister Ginevra Story
And you should read Lynta on why there is no canon in 40K

 Psienesis wrote:
Well, if you check out Sister Sydney's homebrew/expansion rules, you'll find all kinds of units the Sisters could have, that fit with the theme of the Sisters (as a tabletop army) perfectly well, and are damn-near-perfectly balanced.

 
   
Made in gb
Mekboy Hammerin' Somethin'





Papua New Guinea

 SisterSydney wrote:
So subtle I'm a little worried that Gogsnik noticed it....


You know when Monk says, 'it's a blessing... and a curse' well if only I could actually use my eye for detail for some kind of critical analysis but I just read stories/watch films et cetera and either like them or not, I just like to be entertained.

I like these stories. I will say, they are quite different to the background as presented by GW and I am aware of it whilst reading, but in their own context that doesn't bother me. I was thinking about this instalment today, and two things occurred to me. Firstly, I'm not too sure about GInevra having a memory of dancing on her daddy's shoes, I do wonder that, she would have probably been a toddler in order to have done that and yet, as an SoB, we have the whole 'from birth' angle. Hmm. Secondly I thought the story gave an angle on Manganiello which was quite sad in its own way. Obviously Ginevra is aware of the ordinary human life being denied her, where the Brother-Captain didn't seem to be, but it seemed sad that him trying to comfort her is about as close to a family he will ever get himself.

As for book recommendations, it isn't a BL one (I have most of them and only got bored by one so, I wouldn't know how to recommend them specifically) but you should read Grunts! by Mary Gentle (assuming you haven't). I think you would really like it a lot.

Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Show me your god and I'll send you a warhead because my god's bigger than your god.
 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Thanks. Manganiello was with his family through at least "junior high" (an Americanism, obviously), so he was at least 13 when he started the trials for the Adeptus Astartes -- which I understand is pretty typical. So the irony is, as he points out in the story, the average Marine actually has much more of a normal childhood than a Sister of Battle.

If you read The Beginning, you'll see I'm pretty liberal with the Sororitas "from birth" thing, though. (And the fluff is sparse). Portia doesn't actually "enlist" until age 4, Ginevra doesn't get sent to Schola until the ripe old age of 5 -- whereas Granger is literally "from birth," which might explains where she's much more strait-laced.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2014/03/25 03:30:36


BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN BABY BURN IT DOWN

Novice Ginevra stories: Bolter B-Word Privileges (Sisters of Battle), Ollanius Pius Requiem (Sisters & Guard), Able Baker (Inquisition), The Beginning & Dancing with the Astartes (Marines)
A sequel: Army of Minerva - A Sister Ginevra Story
And you should read Lynta on why there is no canon in 40K

 Psienesis wrote:
Well, if you check out Sister Sydney's homebrew/expansion rules, you'll find all kinds of units the Sisters could have, that fit with the theme of the Sisters (as a tabletop army) perfectly well, and are damn-near-perfectly balanced.

 
   
Made in gb
Mekboy Hammerin' Somethin'





Papua New Guinea

I think that seems fair, I mean, realistically, even in the Imperium, how many actual Imperial servants are going to either die as their child is born or end up in circumstances where it is placed into the Schola immediately? Although, I take orphans and the way it is presented to mean actual orphans and not children who were just taken at birth. Doing it your way makes more sense to me.

Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Show me your god and I'll send you a warhead because my god's bigger than your god.
 
   
Made in sa
Bane Lord Tartar Sauce





Saudi Arabia

Is it bad that I really want to steal a couple of your characters for random, irreverent fanfics of my own?

Also, you can have one of mine if you want. Sister Claire of the Order Dialogous, whose sole purpose in life seems to be to chastise everyone for the use of profanity ("Language!"). She dies in a boarding action, sucked out into the vacuum, because she wasn't wearing a helmet, and nobody misses her because she was kind of a bitch anyway.

...

...

...I'm totally taking Luna and Portia hostage in a literary sense

IMPOSSIBLE IS RELATIVE
Boss, everything you make is gold.

Dubstep Tau, let there be LIGHT.
Blind them with SCIENCE, a tutorial series for adding LEDs and effects to your models.
Powerlifting and Plasma, a Romantic Comedy 
   
Made in gb
Wight Lord with the Sword of Kings






UK

 SisterSydney wrote:
Thanks. Manganiello was with his family through at least "junior high" (an Americanism, obviously), so he was at least 13 when he started the trials for the Adeptus Astartes -- which I understand is pretty typical. So the irony is, as he points out in the story, the average Marine actually has much more of a normal childhood than a Sister of Battle.

If you read The Beginning, you'll see I'm pretty liberal with the Sororitas "from birth" thing, though. (And the fluff is sparse). Portia doesn't actually "enlist" until age 4, Ginevra doesn't get sent to Schola until the ripe old age of 5 -- whereas Granger is literally "from birth," which might explains where she's much more strait-laced.


As you say the fluff is pretty vague - we do know that some orphans are honoured by being sent to the Schola but not if there is any age limits (likely not) - in the same way Astartes do vary a bit on how they recruit - Space Wolves taking their aspirants quite late (apparently so they can get some drinking and wenching in).

Descriptions of the Schola are very short - and very little on how it actually operates - we know it was horribly abused by Vandire and there were reforms that followed this ......................I think the only one who has even tried to tackle the subject is Sandy Mitchel and I liked his version a lot - a cross between a English Boarding school and the Hitler Youth seemed very 40k to me................ now a lot of this gets lost in the controversy about Sister Julian - who Sister Superior Torres seemed to have quite a bit in common with in terms of her experiences and general behaviour whilst still maintaining her fanatical faith.

..... "Yeah. I spent six years undercover with an Inquisitorial kill team. How do you think I got so foul-mouthed, cynical, and generally nasty?"



I AM A MARINE PLAYER

"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/528517.page

A Bloody Road - my Warhammer Fantasy Fiction 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






There's a Cain story where he's retired and running a Schola, isn't there? Is that the one where Sister Julian shows up? I've not read it, just the passing description of Schola in one of the first three books -- which as you say seems British public school meets Hitlerjugend, very fitting in my eyes, but apparently people were incensed by how Cain supposedly snuck over to the girls' side to... um... fraternize with a future Sister. Also it seems Schola ends very early in adolescence, at least for Sisters, who go on to their novitiate on Terra or Ophelia.

And yes, people should of course feel totally free to steal my characters that I stole from other people. Ginevra and Susan are pretty different as Novices than as Hogwarts students (not that either gets much characterization in the books, let alone the movies), but Luna, Granger, and even Portia are pretty much straight lifts, only with more swearing. For those who don't remember, Portia is the horrid girl who hangs out with and eventually dates Draco Malfoy for much of the Potter series - Rowling said Portia was actually one of the characters she hated the most because she was based on girls who we're mean to her at school.

BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN BABY BURN IT DOWN

Novice Ginevra stories: Bolter B-Word Privileges (Sisters of Battle), Ollanius Pius Requiem (Sisters & Guard), Able Baker (Inquisition), The Beginning & Dancing with the Astartes (Marines)
A sequel: Army of Minerva - A Sister Ginevra Story
And you should read Lynta on why there is no canon in 40K

 Psienesis wrote:
Well, if you check out Sister Sydney's homebrew/expansion rules, you'll find all kinds of units the Sisters could have, that fit with the theme of the Sisters (as a tabletop army) perfectly well, and are damn-near-perfectly balanced.

 
   
Made in ca
Longtime Dakkanaut





Calgary, AB

I think this points out very well one of the core attitudes/behaviours of ultramarines that every writer has failed to pen. They're just brainwashed dimwits that carry their little wee book around for how and when they are allowed to pee and in what direction to angle into the wind...the presentation of ultramarines is just absurd, and I hate the ultramarines for it. This presentation of astartes is a good one. Although there's a few problems, like the missing studs, scars or plugs all over the body. Then again, my personal interpretation of astartes is permanently butt ugly, with damnably near none of their original teeth remaining and metal incisors bolted into their jaw to replace lost teeth. Faces restitched multiple times over and over again with synthetic skin grafted on and ears chopped down to nubs... you know. ugly.

Also, I have huge problems with people stealing characters developed by others. I don't mean lifting the character and putting them in another environment, I mean taking over the character's story in that environment. For example, Ahriaman: Exile was incredibly infuriating. That was not Ahriman, that was some imposter running around with the characters name. There is no sense of changing identity, there is absolutely no sense of the roots from where the character came from or the transformation of what he becomes. None of the basic patterns of behaviour are there as established in A Thousand Sons, including approach to conflict or the sense of loss of control. Even accounting for the idea that Ahriman is bereft, lost, and who knows what else, that is not Ahriman in that book, not the former, not the latter and most definately not one in transition.

15 successful trades as a buyer;
16 successful trades as a seller;

To glimpse the future, you must look to the past and understand it. Names may change, but human behavior repeats itself. Prophetic insight is nothing more than profound hindsight.

It doesn't matter how bloody far the apple falls from the tree. If the apple fell off of a Granny Smith, that apple is going to grow into a Granny bloody Smith. The only difference is whether that apple grows in the shade of the tree it fell from. 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Not familiar with that Ahriman story, but definitely ain't gonna read it now.

Brother-Captain Manganiello is from an Ultramarines offshoot with sufficiently divergent geneseed he can have a beard, so their cultural practices about studs, quality of cosmetic surgery for facial wounds, covering interface sockets with flesh-colored caps when not in use, etc. could be different too.

Or perhaps the beard is a way to cover horrific scarring!

But, yes, appearance aside, I'd imagine Ultramarines proper to be pretty similar: probably more formal, but not simultaneously over-the-top superheroes and pants-on-head-stupid Codex fundamentalists that fluff often makes them out to be.

BURN IT DOWN BURN IT DOWN BABY BURN IT DOWN

Novice Ginevra stories: Bolter B-Word Privileges (Sisters of Battle), Ollanius Pius Requiem (Sisters & Guard), Able Baker (Inquisition), The Beginning & Dancing with the Astartes (Marines)
A sequel: Army of Minerva - A Sister Ginevra Story
And you should read Lynta on why there is no canon in 40K

 Psienesis wrote:
Well, if you check out Sister Sydney's homebrew/expansion rules, you'll find all kinds of units the Sisters could have, that fit with the theme of the Sisters (as a tabletop army) perfectly well, and are damn-near-perfectly balanced.

 
   
Made in gb
Mekboy Hammerin' Somethin'





Papua New Guinea

I quite liked Ahriman: Exile, certainly though he is, at least initially, quite a different sort of person but then, that was the point; Ahriman has a lot more humanity and nobility to him and that basically destroys him after the great big feth-up which is the Rubric.


Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Show me your god and I'll send you a warhead because my god's bigger than your god.
 
   
Made in ca
Longtime Dakkanaut





Calgary, AB

my imagination of astartes: as long as you have 9 square inches of virgin flesh remaining, you're still a neophyte. If half your organs didn't have to be re-stitched together, you're still a neophye. if one of your limbs wasnt split open and hanging on by sniews... still a neophite...

15 successful trades as a buyer;
16 successful trades as a seller;

To glimpse the future, you must look to the past and understand it. Names may change, but human behavior repeats itself. Prophetic insight is nothing more than profound hindsight.

It doesn't matter how bloody far the apple falls from the tree. If the apple fell off of a Granny Smith, that apple is going to grow into a Granny bloody Smith. The only difference is whether that apple grows in the shade of the tree it fell from. 
   
 
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