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Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Finally, Mat asked, "Where are we?"

Alex waved over the room. "This is my boyhood home. I grew up here." He pointed out the window. Mat walked up to it and saw a village sitting next to a sea. Houses of white stone huddled next to each other as people went about their business on old pavement. "That is Rhodes. It's a small town, but the people are friendly and know how the best ways to cook fish. I've saved a few recipes."

Mat didn't know when, but an aroma wafted into the room. It reminded him of the fancier restaurants of Ovlast where the food always costed twice as much as it was worth. He had sneered at the rich fools who wasted money to prove their 'worth', but now he wouldn't mind a bite.

"But, to actually answer your question, this is the planet Delos."
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Mat paused, racking his head of the planets of Balov. He had never really cared about the other planets, and it had been years since he had been in school. That didn't stop the sinking feeling that Delos was not one of them. He became stiff as he stared at Alex. "...you're one of those aliens that invaded, aren't you?"

Alex snorted. "I can't tell you how ironic it is to be labeled an alien, considering what I've seen. You are, however, technically accurate. I am not of Balov, though I did not 'invade' this system. I came here to liberate and protect Balov from actual aliens."

"And what counts as a 'real alien'?" Mat said spitefully.

Again, Alex raised a hand and snapped his fingers.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Mat stood on a metal platform, overseeing war. Men in grey, metal armor fought with green men on thin walkways. Before Mat could focus, a roar behind him made him spin around. In front of him, a giant in purple armour stood facing a dozen green men. Mat blinked as he could see the green "men" better. Their ears were too pointed. None of them seem to have hair. Most different of all, their teeth were fangs with two tusks in their mouths. "They're not human."

From beside him, Alex said, "Correct. Though there are many similarities, make no mistake, those are actual aliens. Remorseless and in love with killing for the sake of killing. They are the Orks."

Mat threw a glance at Alex before his attention locked on the fight erupting before him. The giant fired with a strange pistol that seemed to shoot white lava. Several of the... Orks melted but the rest charged the giant. The pistol seemed to scream in agony, and the giant threw it.

"Cover your eyes," Alex warned.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Mat's vision went dark. To his own surprise, his hands had obeyed without thought. Before he could question what just happened, a star blasted him. Even though his eyes were closed and covered, Mat thought he might've gone blind for a moment. He backed away as he pulled his hands down. He breathed a sigh of relief despite how many spots he was seeing.

Then he noticed he was standing on air.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Alex had an amused smile as Mat screamed. "Easy, easy. This is nothing more than a memory. You're perfectly safe from gravity." The dark-skinned boy shut his mouth and tried to fight his fear. "Walk back to me. One step forward."

Although his instincts howled in dismay, Mat bit his lip before he forced himself to take a step. The air, against all evidence, held his weight.

"Good, now take another."

Still not quite believing his eyes, Mat took another step. Then another. He kept walking until he was back on the platform. He released an intense sigh of relief before he threw a sharp glare at Alex, who continued wearing his smile.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Although the fight continued before them, Mat tried to ignore it for now. "How are you doing all of this?"

"I'm like you, Mat. A man possessing extraordinary power. Except where you have an affinity for fire, I have an affinity for the mind, among others. More importantly," Alex said, "I can teach you how to master your gift."

Mat paused as he glanced around the memory. Even knowing it wasn't real, Mat knew he couldn't tell the difference. There was great power involved here. Yet, he frowned. "Nothing's free. You're not here 'out of the kindness of your heart'," Mat accused.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






"True," Alex conceded. "I'm not here to give out charity, but instead I'm offering you a trade."

Although circumspect, Mat asked, "What kind of trade?"

Alex smiled. "Simple. I teach you how to protect yourself from those predators, and you protect me for a single day in the real world."

Mat balked, his brown eyes wide with shock. "Me. Protect you? I'm just some homeless kid."
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Alex grinned...

----

...and said, "You are more capable than you think."

Anasya could not disagree more with the alien. Aloud, she answered, "I'm just a cleaning lady. I am not some master spy or some movie secret agent."

Mr. VonSalim's grin never wavered. "That's what precisely makes you powerful. Most people would never give you a second glance, would never expect you to be anything other than harmless."
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






"I am harmless," Anasya replied wearily as she rubbed her back. "I can't fight. I can barely make the walk from home to work."

"Not all battles are fought with fists," Mr. VonSalim said, exuding nothing but patience. "And I would never ask you to do anything physical. My request simply involves pressing a few buttons. Nothing more, nothing less."

Anasya fixed the alien with a deadpan stare with her tired eyes. "I am no fool."
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






"I'll show you," Mr. VonSalim offered as he waved a hand. The floral-patterned wallpower dissolved as familiar, rich walls of the Directorate stood behind them. In seconds, the pair were standing in one of the Directors' office. Actually, Anasya realized, it was the same office where she had finished her duties this day. Or was it yesterday?

Mr. VonSalim pointed at the bathroom. "This way." Although Anasya had no doubt the alien had never been on Balov, he confidently strode forward. He opened the door and entered the procelain room with Anasya trailing behind, unsure of what the red-haired man was up to.

Once within, Mr. VonSalim immediately headed to the side wall before holding his hand out to one section.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Although he never touched the wall, one of the porcelain tiles slid away, revealing a finger scanner. Mr. VonSalim never pressed it, simply pointed at it. The device chipped and an entire portion of the wall opened. "This way, please."
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






No matter how solid the environment appeared to be, Anasya could not overcome how surreal everything felt as she follow the alien into a small, secret hallway. They turned right and faced an elevator. Seemingly without a care in the world, Mr. VonSalim summoned the elevator and stepped inside when the doors opened. He waited expectantly.

Anasya reluctantly shuffled inside. As the doors closed, she finally couldn't contain her confusion anymore. "Is this a dream? Are we here? Is this a memory?"

"We're not here," Mr. VonSalim explained as he pressed the small button labeled '12'. "This is a combination of memory and farsight. I can see the interior of the building, but I'm using information from various memories to show you how to go to the security center."

"Security center?"
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






The elevators opened. Inside was a large room, dominated by dozens of security monitors which oversaw every square centimetre of the Directorate. Beneath the screens was an enormous electronic console that extended from one side of the room to the other. Nine members of the Nightwatch attended to the console, reading out reports, verifying security matters, and manipulating the console.

Anasya froze. Mr. VonSalim chuckled, "You're in no danger. We'll start over here." He walked over to the center-left of the room, while Anasya tiptoed behind him, her eyes never leaving the Nightwatch.

"Relax. See, watch." Before Anasya could stop him, Mr. VonSalim slapped the sitting Nightwatchman next to him. ...or would have if his hand hadn't simply flowed through the man's head. "We can't interact with them, they can't interact with us. You're perfectly safe."
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Although Anasya slowly relaxed, she threw a confused glance at the ceiling. "But, the bathroom entrance?"

"That was for your benefit, I haven't actually done anything. Now, over here," he explained as he gestured to several readouts and buttons, "this section controls the automated turrets built into the Directorate's walls." He slid over to the center of the console, "Here, this button controls the forcefield around the Directorate. Finally," he finished as he moved to the right side of the room, "this is the communications network. I need you to deactivate this for me."

He turned back toward her, his green eyes settling on her. "Do this for me, and I'll cure your granddaughter's illness and ensure that you and your family lives comfortably for the rest of their lives. And, at no point, will you be in danger. I will ensure you complete protection."
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Anasya wasn't sure what to think of Mr. VonSalim's offer. A part of her wasn't sure she should believe it was possible. Another, weaker part warned her that this may all be an elaborate trick. A third part of her feared betraying her world. And on and on it went as so many feelings and thoughts jumbled within her. She opened her mouth to speak and...

~~~

...and Director Chukhay stared warily at his bed.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






"Is there something wrong?" His wife asked, glancing over her book as she laid comfortably beneath the covers.

It was a stupid question. So many things were going wrong, even without the alien fleet above their heads. Ovlast may be under the firm control of the Directorate, but the rest of the planet was slipping away from their grasp. As the situation worsened, Kravchuk was becoming increasingly erratic. Ten Night Watch members were dead, along with several dozen civil servants and 'suspected' civilians. It had forced Chukhay to divide his attention between stabilizing Balov and covering up his fool of a peer. And this didn't even touch on the dream he had yesterday...

"It's fine," the wide man said as he laid down.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






For once, the smoothy silk of the covers offered no relief as as Chukhay couldn't help but wonder if his dreams would be invaded again. Maybe it wouldn't happen. Maybe he would finally enjoy a true night of rest. Or maybe he should avoid his dreams as much as he could. Given the enormous stress he was under, it wouldn't be surprising that he would skip a night's sleep. There were so many conflicts to resolve. Maybe he wouldn't sleep after...

Chukhay opened his eyes to find himself in an elaborate parlor. He sat on a blue antique sofa next to a living fireplace. The scent of vodka wafted in the air from an opened bottle on a coffee table. Two glasses sat next to it. Chukhay barely noticed all of this as his eyes narrowed on the being sitting across from him.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Unlike the previous dream, the alien warlord did not hide his true size. The giant took up the whole couch he sat upon. "Hello, Director," he said off-handedly, his focus on a map next to the vodka. Glancing down, Chukhay saw it was map of Balov. Flags sat on each of the major cities. Most of the flags were the familiar blue-and-red stars of the United Balovian Alliance. However, most of the cities featured one other flag, sometimes several. They came in myriad colours and images. Only one city had one flag: the capital itself, Ovlast, proudly flying the Alliance flag.

That changed when the warlord pointed at the city Mosoch. The Alliance flag fell over, leaving another flag, a white one featuring a road and a star, standing alone. "It appears, Director, that the Path of Prosperity have complete control over Mosoch, and Pitirsverg is not far behind."
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






"Quite so," Chukhay muttered bitterly. "The progress of these various rebel elements could be seen as quite miraculous."

The Warlord grinned and shrugged, "Lady Luck appears to be enarmored with them."

"Or manipulated. Perhaps the rebels are lucky, but it is not luck that is responsible for the death of hundreds of Night Watchmen across the entire planet," Chukhay accused. "Does this not reveal that your prior offer is a sham?"
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






"Explain something to me, Director," the Warlord said as his grin faded away. "What possible use could you have of a network of spies and killers who are fanatically loyal to an old regime and not to the future?"

Chukhay stared stonily back. "They are working for the interests of Balov, nothing more."

"Most of them are not working for the interests of humanity," the Warlord smoothly countered as he leaned back in the couch. "The few who have managed to keep their consciences intact have already agreed to defect or to remain neutral in this tumultuous transition, including one of your favorites, Agent Tasha."

Stunned silence reigned. Finally, Chukhay whispered, "How many dreams are you in?"

With a shrug, the Warlord said, "I'm not keeping count."
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Chukhay forced the fear and awe away from him. He could not show weakness at this moment. "Still, you are asking much of me without giving me much optimism that you will uphold our bargain."

The grin returned as a giant hand swept around the room. "Is this not enough?"

Although puzzled, the overweight Director did look around the room. To his surprise, he noted a painting over the fireplace. It displayed a man in golden armour and wearing golden leaves around long, black hair. In his hands, the man held a flaming sword as he stared imperiously at Chukhay. Yet, the true surprise was across from this first painting. On the opposite wall hung a portrait of Chukhay himself. His painted self wore a uniform he did not recognize and sat in a plain chair, erect and somber. "What is this place?"
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






"This is your mansion, six months from now. This room is your public parlor to entertain visiting lords and dignitaries. Tonight, though, it will serve a different purpose. In thirty minutes, you and your second grandson will be returning from the starport. He is in the midst of a break from his studies on Terra. The two of you aren't particularly close, but you are hopeful that he'll give you greater insight into the heart of the Imperium. Hence, the vodka."

Chukhay didn't know what to say. One of the secrets of Kravchuk that Chukhay had learned after great effort was that the man actually employed a seer. According to the law, mystics, foretellers, and others possessing unnatural gifts were forbidden from their... eccentricities. But, as in with so many legal matters, the Director had ignored it. Upon first hearing it, Chukhay had nearly panicked and moved against his comrade, until he had learned just how unreliable the woman was. The woman was constantly voicing out confusing metaphors and mysterious riddles, and only on two occasions was her advice clear and straightforward.

What the Warlord...VonSalim had just done could not compare. It felt as though the giant was simply reciting a moment from a movie than casting his gaze into the future.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






"And you can guarantee this?"

VonSalim wore a small smile. "Few things are set when it concerns the future. Take the sofa you're sitting on. It was made in a style favoured in ancient Roma and is your wife's favorite colour. You chose that one because it was what your wife preferred, and you wanted additional legitimacy to your authority by emulating the empire that has clearly left its mark on the Imperium. But you could easily have made a different decision."

Although Chukhay felt nothing, the blue sofa transformed into a white one with black designs covering yet with a complete back to it.

"This one is more akin to something found in antique Italia, during the distant 1500s. More ostentatious and the colours are something that pleases your eye. Both valid decisions and both equally likely. So, no, I can't predict the future with complete accuracy." VonSalim paused before he continued. "Though one trader will try to offer you a yellow couch, claiming it's from Jermani. Don't believe him and report him if you would, he's a con man who's managed to evade the Arbites for four years."
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






After a momentary pause before VonSalim focused on the Director. "One thing is certain, though. All of this," he said as his hand swept over the room, "will never come to be if you reject my offer. Do you understand?"

Chukhay sighed and...

~~~

...Paul stared at the giant standing in the middle of the street.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Commander Naro's last order rang in his ears. Paul glanced down at his vehicle. It was one of the few tanks that guarded Ovlast, and its main cannon was aimed directly at the red-haired alien. Standing in the round turret, all Paul had to do was shout out the order. The tanks would fire. The alien would die.

So would the the children standing behind and beneath the giant. That, of course, hadn't mattered to Naro when he had given the order. It did matter to Paul, but was it enough to disobey a direct order? To betray his home?

The alien, the Lord Primarch according to his dreams, silently waited and watched him. He had made an offer, but had based it on a nebulous future with only his word as collateral.

The seconds dragged on for an eternity as the crescent moon of Balovian soldiers stood at the ready, waiting for the shot that would end the war.

Paul grimaced.

The Lord Primarch frowned.

"Fire."

The Lord Primarch held out his hand.

Paul's tank fired.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






There was no explosion. To the stunned horror of the Balovians, the tank round hovered, twirling mid-air before the giant's outstretched hand. That moment of hesitation would be the last. The air crackled with power. Light exploded.

Twenty lesser giants in metallic armour formed a perimeter in front of their red-headed master. One stood in front of them all and wielded a set of threatening claws attached to his armour gauntlets. "Protect the Primarch!" This being shouted. With this order, Paul's platoon died. Where the armoured men fired, explosions ripped through kevlar and flesh.

Paul had no time to consider the utter foolishness of his choice before the Lord Primarch appeared before his tank. Interlocking his fingers into a single fist, the Lord Primarch raised and then slammed down. With raw strength alone, the blow broke through the cannon's barrel before crashing into the tank's front plates.
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Not only did the tank's front crumble beneath the ungodly might, but it catapulted Paul out of the turret. He spun forward through the air. Then, he landed on his back. In the roar of war, only he could hear himself wheeze as the landing knocked the air out of him. Before he could recover, the Lord Primarch stood above him. "You could prevent all of this."

Could? Paul thought as he stared up in terror. He waited for the robed titan to finish him off. But the Lord Primarch merely stared down at him. After a moment, he realized there was no sound. He looked around and saw that nothing moved. The grey-armoured giants had finished slaughtering his platoon and were advancing. The clawed leader's claws were in the middle of slicing through Naro's head. Paul couldn't help but feel a little morbid satisfaction at that.

He slowly stood up, but everything remained frozen. Paul turned and said, "This is a dream."
   
Made in ca
Secretive Dark Angels Veteran





Canada

I just binge read the entire thing. Very very nice story! I can't wait to see what comes next!

DC:02+S+G+MB+I++Pw40k14#+D+A+++/aWD7R++

"Some times you feel like a diick, some times you don't.
Slaneesh army's have dicks, Sisters of battle don't,
Because sometimes you want to play the dick,
Sometimes you don't " 
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






[Thank you!]

"No. This is a possibility." The Lord Primarch offered an index finger. Awkwardly, Paul grabbed onto it before the Lord Primarch lifted him off the ground. "This is the most likely future if you choose to reject my offer."

Paul grunted. "I liked the last dream."

"It is a pleasant future. But it will not simply happen." The giant gestured to the scene around them. "This is what happens when you simply try to flow with events. Reward comes to those who act and not simply react. And there is precious little time for you to dawdle now. My arrival can now be measured in hours, not days."
   
Made in us
Bounding Assault Marine






Paul didn't want to be reminded. These last three days had passed at a blur and in slow-motion. No matter how hard the government tried to suppress it, the rumour mill stated that the rest of the planet had already fallen to rebels. Ironically, it was the government's attempts to hide the truth that made the truth that much more obvious. Control was slipping, which meant the Balovian soldiers were put under twice as much scrutiny. It seemed everyday that the Nightwatchmen made a visit or a soldier would be told to report to HQ and not reappear the next day. His men were tired and standing far too close to the breaking point.

He didn't know if he felt relieved or even more stressed to know that events would soon come to a head, one way or another. "This decision would be easier if you could give me some guarantee besides your visions. I have no way of knowing they're not just tricks."
   
 
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