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Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






"Join the Inquisition, they said. See the galaxy, they said. Save humanity, they said. Do tons of paperwork, they said. Oh wait, they forgot to fething mention that last one, didn't they?"

The unexpectedly boyish-looking Inquisitor slammed a fat folder back on the teetering stack, took a sip of coffee, and then spat it out all over his makeshift desk. "And who" -- he gagged -- "what mutant, heretic, or traitor brewed this unspeakable gak?"

Novice Ginevra winced and raised one black-gauntleted hand. "Uh, sir, I did, Inquisitor Tudyk, sir."



"Able Baker" is another Novice Ginevra story, a sequel of sorts to "Bolter B-Word Privileges" and "Ollanius Pius Requieum," although you can read the three in any order. The full story follows below in spoiler tags to prevent Wall of Text.

EDIT:
The full five-part "Novice Ginevra" series, in order, is
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. (This story).
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.

I'll be revising these stories eventually (there's at least one more to come) and re-posting the completed series as an article, so I am grateful for any comments -- especially suggestions and even outright criticism. Gushing praise isn't bad either, though.

[Edited: This story now has two sequels, The Beginning -- because that's totally the logical name for the fourth story in a five-part series -- and Dancing with the Astartes, the final story.]

[Edited 1/5/2014 to explain where the hell the unnamed 4th Squad novice got a cigarette & to fix typos. Edited 3/22 to subtly shift the order of some lines before and after Susan's Big Decision].


Spoiler:

"Join the Inquisition, they said. See the galaxy, they said. Save humanity, they said. Do tons of paperwork, they said. Oh wait, they forgot to fething mention that last one, didn't they?"

The unexpectedly boyish-looking Inquisitor slammed a fat folder back on the teetering stack, took a sip of coffee, and then spat it out all over his makeshift desk. "And who" -- he gagged -- "what mutant, heretic, or traitor brewed this unspeakable gak?"

Novice Ginevra winced and raised one black-gauntleted hand. "Uh, sir, I did, Inquisitor Tudyk, sir."

Ginevra felt all (uncovered) eyes in the tent turn her way. Tudyk looked at her disgustedly. The leather-clad assassin/bodyguard behind him looked at her suspiciously through the eye slits in her mask. The grey-haired gunman looked at her sympathetically, the barefoot girl dreamily, Sister Granger anxiously, and the scribe briefly, very briefly, with an almost imperceptible flicker of his human eye before it looked back down at the documents his bionic eye had never left. Ginevra prayed silently to the Immortal God-Emperor of Humankind to open a deep hole in the dirt floor into which she might sink forever, but He did not.

Tudyk cautiously lowered the mug, as if it might explode, and set it back onto his desk -- well, the door with three bullet holes propped up on cinder blocks that served as his desk. "Have you ever made coffee before, Novice Ginevra?"

"No, sir, Inquisitor, sir. Novices aren't allowed stimulants, sir."

The grey-haired gunman chuckled like an indulgent but well-armed grandpa. "Boss, given they're a bunch of teenage girls with boltguns...."

Bolters, Ginevra mentally corrected him, but not aloud.

"....a no-stims rule might be wise, yeah," Tudyk said. "But, hell, this is worse than Astartes coffee. Have you ever tried...oh, gak." He'd noticed some coffee splatter on his shirt, which was otherwise covered in a garish floral pattern Ginevra had not previously associated with the Ordo Hereticus of the Holy Orders of The Emperor's Inquisition. He dabbed at the stain with what looked like somebody's arrest record. "Okay," he said, "can anybody find this motherfether's file?"

Tudyk jerked a thumb at the one person in the tent who hadn't looked at Ginevra, because he couldn't, because his head was covered in a shapeless brown sack. His arms were bound behind him. His ankles were also bound to each other with just enough slack that he could shuffle along, but he couldn't at the moment because he was also sitting in and tied to a metal chair.

"Please don't kill me," he whispered. "Please don't kill me just because you can't find my file."

"Oh for feth's sake," Tudyk said. "I'd just send you back to the end of the line in Charlie. Spell your last name again."

"D -- DeKalb. Dee eee kay ay ell bee." The hooded man was shaking.

"No record," the scribe said in a grating mechanical voice.

"There's no one named 'DeKalb' on the entire gakball planet?" the gunman asked, incredulous.

"Correct."

"S-sir, may I?" Sister Granger said.

It was everyone's turn to stare at Granger now. The bushy-haired novice cringed. Ginevra felt a sharp pang of sympathy.

"May you what?" the Inquisitor asked.

Granger choked, squared her armored shoulders, and then stepped over to an ammunition box now filled with files. She flipped through the contents quickly, pulled out a folder, and handed it to Tudyk without a word.

"DeKalb, Terrence Carter, 019-34-8268?" the Inquisitor read aloud.

"Yes! Yes! That's me, your lordship, that's...."

"How'd you know?" Tudyk asked Granger.

"It was filed under 'k,' sir," she said softly. "The archaic form was 'De Kalb,' sir, two words, sir, and the Administratum tends to use the archaic...."

Tudyk turned to the scribe and smacked him on the head with the folder. "And you didn't know that?"

"You did not ask me to find 'De Kalb,' two words," the scribe replied, unfazed. "You asked me to find 'DeKalb,' one word."

"You literal-minded piece of -- maybe I should stick a cogitator in this girl's head and replace you!"

"Please don't," Granger said softly.

"Her youth and specialized Sororitas training render her incapable of replacing me," the scribe said in the same monotone.

"I oughta have you shot, you pretentious toaster, a fething paperweight could replace you, you, you lousy...."

The grey-haired gunman whispered conspiratorially in Ginevra's ear. "Don't worry, kid, they're always doing this. Like an old married couple, y'know?"

"Uh -- no?" Ginevra whispered back. "I don't."

"Right. Sisters. Convent. Never mind." He gave her an affectionate pat on her armored shoulder. Ginevra suspected he'd have ruffled her red hair or pinched her cheek if she didn't have her helmet on and the visor firmly down. "Smoke?" he offered, lighting one for himself.

"We're not allowed stimulants, sir."

"It's actually a mild sedative." He took a puff. "Also helps cover the smell."

"Please don't kill me," the hooded man said again.

He had wet himself at some point and a yellow trickle dripped down his already filthy trousers. It was dark yellow -- he was dehydrated like everyone else who'd spent days waiting in Zone Charlie -- and blended indistinguishably with the other fluids soaking the now-reddish mud beneath the chair. Novice Granger, who like Ginevra had her visor down, still wrinkled her nose up in disgust. The grey-haired gunman muttered, "Gonna hafta move the chair again...."

"Please don't kill me, don't kill me..."

"Please don't tell me how to do my job," the Inquisitor said abstractedly as he flipped through the file. "I don't tell you how to do yours -- oh wait I do. Why were you involved in the cult, DeKalb?"

"I wasn't involved, your excellency, there's been some mistake...."

"Like everybody else we've detained, sure. Glau?"

The dark-haired, barefoot girl sitting next to the Inquisitor -- on the other side from the scribe -- looked up. She'd been resting her head on a pile of files and looked more than half-asleep. "Wha?"

"Him, Glau."

"Lying," she said, then put her head down again.

"'scuse me," the grey-haired gunman told Ginevra as he stepped over to the hooded man and smacked him with some kind of metallic rod. There was a nasty buzz and prisoner's muscles spasmed, his jaw clamped so tight he couldn't scream.

Tudyk made a check-mark on a scrap of paper. "DeKalb," he said without looking up, "why were you involved in the cult?"

"Love," DeKalb sobbed, "we just wanted to bring more love into this world...."

"Don't you love the God-Emperor, DeKalb?"

"We -- the Ministorum on this planet preached only hate, your excellency. Hate and fear. Fear and hate. We only wanted to spread love, sir, love, we didn't realize what kind of people -- what kind of things -- our movement would..."

"Things?" Tudyk said sharply, looking up. He turned to Glau again. "Has he actually seen...entities?"

Ginevra and Granger exchanged puzzled looks. The grey-haired gunman chuckled indulgently again.

Glau looked at the prisoner, her eyes not quite focused. "Nope," she said at last. "He's just talking 'bout mutants."

"Yes," DeKalb sobbed, and he really was sobbing, there were wet patches appearing on his hood below where his eyes would be. "Hideous, unnatural...."

"Did you ever take up arms against the planetary government or any agent of the Imperium, DeKalb?"

"No! No, sir, no...."

"Glau?"

"True."

"Did you ever provide material support to individuals who took up arms against the lawful authorities, DeKalb?"

"No, no...."

"Glau?"

"Lying."

"'scuse me," the grey-haired gunman/torturer told Ginevra again, as if he were breaking off some conversation they'd been having, and stepped back over to the prisoner for another muscle-spasming smack of the metal rod.

"What kind of material support did you provide to the insurgents, DeKalb?" the Inquisitor said, absent-mindedly picking up the coffee mug before remembering and putting it down with a slight shudder.

"Food, sir, just food."

"Gl...?"

"And shelter!" the prisoner shrieked, interrupting. "One time I let a squad stay in my house, one time, just one, they would've killed me if..."

"Lying," Glau said, interrupting him. "Three times, and he volunteered to let them stay the first time. He was proud to, then."

"'scuse me." SMACK.

"Three times," the prisoner sobbed. "I didn't know the first time, I didn't understand..."

"Do you understand now, DeKalb?"

"Yes, lord, yes, I understand...."

"Do you repent of your heresy against the sacred doctrines of the Adeptus Ministorum, DeKalb?"

"Yes, sir, I understand now, I understand why we have to fear, fear and hate, hate and fear, hope just makes you let your guard down, love just lets the wrong ones in, love opens the door to Hell...."

"Do you repent your sins against the God-Emperor of Humankind, DeKalb?"

"Oh yes, excellency, oh, oh, yes..."

"Glau? Fear/sincere?"

"40/60."

"That's pretty good." Tudyk looked at his scrap of paper. "And he's, what, a certified level seven crane operator?"

"Level eight," the scribe said in a monotone.

"Don't correct me," Tudyk said, idly backhanding him. "And how short are the construction trades given all the rebuilding that's gotta be done?"

"37 percent short."

"Okay, then." Tudyk stamped something with his signet ring. "Able."

"Oh please sir don't kill me please...."

"For feth's sake," the Inquisitor said irritably. "I'm just sending you to a labor camp, you idiot. You'll probably live, like, a decade."

"Oh thank you, thank you thank thank you....

"Shut up," said Tudyk.

"Shut up," the grey-haired man said, hitting the prisoner with the rod again. Then he cut the bonds tying him to the chair. The man slumped off it into the filthy mud.

"Next," said Tudyk.

"Next!" the grey-haired man yelled, sticking his head out of the front flap of the tent.

Ginevra went to the back flap. "Portia! Susan! Got another for Zone Able!"

The two other armored girls slung their bolters and walked over. "Can he walk himself?" Portia asked.

"What do you think?" Ginevra said witheringly.

"Fine, fine, we'll drag him," Portia said. Ginevra glared at her. "Um, we'll drag him, Provisional Squad Leader ma'am."

"Thank you, Novice Portia," Ginevra said.

The two other girls slumped into the tent towards the prisoner. Granger had clamped some kind of instrument around his wrist. "He'll be fine," she told the other novices. "More's the pity. Heretic pig."

Susan and Portia dragged the man to his feet and half-carried him out the back of the tent, just as two Novices Ginevra didn't recognize pushed another hooded prisoner in through the front.

"Hey, G -- Provisional Squad Leader?" Portia called back over her shoulder. "Holding for Zone Baker's getting pretty full."

"This one's for Able," Ginevra said.

"I know, but we noticed Baker holding's too full," Portia said. "They're, like, pushing each other up against the wire."

"Serves them right," Granger said, checking out the new prisoner as the grey-haired man tied him to the metal chair.

"Yeah, but the posts are starting to lean," Portia went on. "The posts holding the wire. The pens weren't that well made."

Ginevra arched an eyebrow.

Portia sighed. "They weren't well made, Provisional Squad Leader ma'am."

"Thank you, Novice Portia," Ginevra said. "Uh, Inquisitor, sir...."

"I heard," Tudyk said, without looking up from his file. "Your squad hasn't done Zone Baker yet, have they?"

"No, sir."

"Okay, get your relief in here and take everybody from Baker holding to the zone."

"Yes, sir." Ginevra saluted -- the Inquisitor didn't notice -- and stuck her head out the front flap.

"What?" asked the Provisional Squad Leader of the novices out front.

"Sister Lavender," Ginevra said, "we've got to escort, um, the ones in Baker holding over to the arena."

"So?"

"So we need you get in here and relieve us on the holding pens and stuff."

"So where's our relief?"

"Um," Ginevra said, looking around. She could see the rest of the other squad, pointing their bolters at a bunch of hooded people sitting on the ground. She could see the Retributor heavy weapons Sisters, standing watch atop the stadium wall. She couldn't see another Novice squad, though.

"Um," Ginevra repeated. "Wait one."

She retreated back into the tent.

"....involved in the cult, Delacroix?"

"I wasn't inv...."

"Lying."

SMACK.

"Uh, Inquisitor, sir?"

"Where's your relief?" Tudyk said irritably.

"They're right out front, sir," Ginevra said, "but they can't find their relief, and...."

"....and we can't leave the folks out front unsupervised, right. Dammit." The Inquisitor ran his hands through his short, blond hair. Then he smacked his scribe on the back of the head. "When I told you to requisition Sisters for guard duty, why the feth did you let them fob so many teenagers off on you?"

"You did not specify 'Sisters of Battle,'" the scribe droned. "You stated only 'Adepta Sororitas personnel.' Novices are Adepta S..."

Tudyk smacked him upside the head again. "I oughta have you shot, burned at the stake, disbarred..."

"I'll -- I'll go find their relief, sir," Ginevra said. When the Inquisitor didn't stop berating his assistant, she shrugged, saluted, and headed out the front of the tent.

"And find some decent coffee!" Tudyk hollered after her.

"Sir, yes, sir," she said as she stepped outside.

"So where's..." Provisional Squad Leader Lavender began.

"Working on it," Ginevra said without breaking stride. She walked along the line of hooded prisoners and followed it back to where it ended at the stadium gate.

She clanged her gauntleted fist on the door. "Provisional Novice Squad Leader Ginevra here!"

A slit snapped open in the door. The black eyepieces of an Battle Sister's helmet stared coldly back. "Oh, hey, kid," came a voice from the helmet. "Gimme a sec, this thing sticks." There was a moment's rattling and then the gate swung open with a gust of wind, moving so fast Ginevra had to step back to not get hit.

"Thanks," she told the adult Sister as she stepped through, taking care not to tread on the line of hooded prisoners sitting and shivering on this side of the gate.

"How's Inqy Stinky?" the Sister said, locking the gate again.

"Grumpy, ma'am. Hitting his scribe a lot, ma'am."

"Ha! How unexpected." The Sister kicked one of the sitting prisoners with an armored boot; the hooded -- man? Woman? It was hard to tell under the rags -- fell over with a squeak. "He's been up 48 hours straight 'processing' these little fethers. Don't know why he doesn't just roll a few barrels of promethium in here and roast 'em all."

"No, ma'am," Ginevra said noncommittally and kept on going.

The line of hooded prisoners petered out. There were hundreds more as-yet unhooded, sitting and shivering or just wandering listlessly around what had been a regulation athletic field but which was now "Zone Charlie."

Up in the stands sat a few dozen Sisters, both adults and novices. Some had their weapons trained on the crowd. The rest were eating rations or chatting or saying prayers.

"Up here, Ginny!" yelled a forceful female voice. Ginevra looked up to see her squad's Mistress of Novices, Sister Torres. She was sitting in a front row seat, her steel-booted feet up on the railing, her helmet off as she drank a cup of coffee, her dark, curly hair rippling in the wind.

Ginevra scrambled up the steps, past the adult Sister on guard, and saluted Torres. "Ma'am!"

"Wassup, kid? How's Inquisitor Crankypants?"

"He hits his scribe, ma'am, and wears these crazy shirts with flowers on them."

"Well, who's gonna tell an Inquisitor to stop?"

"And he didn't like my coffee, ma'am."

"You made coffee?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Had you ever made coffee before?"

"No, ma'am."

"Surprising you didn't poison him."

"Came close, ma'am."

"Good kid. Why do you have your visor down?"

"The smell, ma'am."

"Ah. You'll get used to it. What d'you need?"

"A relief squad, ma'am."

"Isn't 3rd Squad right there?"

"Yes, ma'am, but they can't find 4th to relieve them."

"Well, 4th's right there." Torres pointed at a group of novices huddled together a few rows up. "Go get 'em."

"Yes'm," Ginevra said, started moving, stopped. "Ma'am?"

"Yesssssss?"

"Our squad's supposed to deal with, um, Baker."

"Ah." Torres took a thoughtful sip of her coffee.

"Why 'Able, Baker, Charlie,' anyway?" Ginevra asked. "Isn't it supposed to be 'Alpha, Bravo, Charlie'?"

"You want to tell the Inquisitor his zone nomenclature is non-regulation?"

"No, ma'am!"

"Thought not." Torres looked Ginevra straight in the eyes. "You girls haven't done Baker Zone yet, have you?"

"No, ma'am."

"Would you like me to come along?"

"Yes, ma'am, Sister Torres!"

"M'kay. Get 4th, I'll get my gak together."

"Thank you, Sister Torres!" Ginevra said, saluting, her heart much lighter, and walked quickly up the stairs to 4th squad. They looked up at her warily as she approached but said nothing.

"You girls are 4th Squad?" Ginevra said.

"Why?" said a Novice that Ginevra didn't know, speaking around a short cigarette or something like one in her mouth. She was sitting on the steps, hunched over, back to the wind, with both hands cupped over the cig so it didn't blow out.

"We're not allowed stimulants," Ginevra said automatically.

"Feth you," the girl replied, equally automatically. "It's actually a mild sedative, anyway."

"We're not allowed...."

"I. Need. It."

Another Novice stood up and walked over. Ginevra recognized her vaguely, from a hurried briefing for Provisional Squad Leaders two days ago: She was 4th's PSL. She wasn't too sure about her name, though. "Hey, uh, Cho?" Ginevra said.

"Hey, Ginevra," the other squad leader replied. "What's up?"

"We need a relief squad."

"Why?" Cho said suspiciously.

"Well, holding for Baker is full, and...."

"No," interrupted the girl who'd been smoking. "No, feth no, we just did Baker."

"We just came off Baker," Cho said, the pitch of her voice rising. "You bitches haven't even done Baker yet. We were just on Baker for three hours."

Behind Cho, one of the novices suddenly burst into tears. Her squadmates looked at her, embarrassed, before one slid over and patted her awkwardly on her armored back with a gauntleted hand.

"No, no," Ginevra said. "We're doing Baker. My squad is, I mean."

"What?"

"I mean, we're supposed to be taking the Baker prisoners to the small arena and, y'know," Ginevra said. "But 3rd Squad is supposed to relieve us at the holding pens, and they need you to relieve them on the intake line, so...."

"Ohhhhh," Cho said. "Well, that's different. Would someone stop her crying?" The crying girl choked it down to hiccupping sobs. "Sorry," she told Ginevra, "we're all a little frazzled." She turned back to her squad. "Okay, girls, let's get our gak 'n' go."

"Feth that," said the smoking girl. "I'm resting."

Her squad leader kicked her, not too hard, in the rear. "You're done. You're getting up off your armored arse and coming with the rest of us."

The girl stubbed out the cigarette or whatever it was. "Yes, Provisional Squad Leader, ma'am."

Ginevra led 4th Squad down the stairs, picking up Sister Torres on the way ("What was all that about, Ginny?" "Misunderstanding, ma'am"), back out the gate ("Say hi to Inqy Stinky for me, kid!"), and over to the tent to relieve 3rd Squad ("Where exactly were you, Cho?" "Feth you too, Lavender.")

"Inquisitor?" Ginevra said, stepping back inside the tent. "I...."

"Lying," Glau said. The grey-haired gunman smacked the current hooded prisoner with the prod. He had moved the chair.

"Do you repent of your heresy against the sacred doctrines of the Adeptus Ministorum, Eckhart?"

"Y - yes, sir."

"Lying."

SMACK.

"Do you repent your sins against the God-Emperor of -- oh, hello, you're back, Ginevra. Kind of you to rejoin us, finally," the Inquisitor said. "Coffee?"

Oh gak I forgot oh feth he's going to execute me, Ginevra thought.

Then Sister Torres stepped past her with a thermos. "It's Departmento Munitorum coffee, sir, not Adeptus Ministorum, I'm afraid," Torres said.

"Well, it's gotta be better than her gak," Tudyk said, pouring himself a cup and glaring at Ginevra. "Wish it were Ecclesiarchy, though, that's the good stuff. Where'd your own coffee rations go?"

"We traded with some Guardsmen, sir," Torres said.

"You what?"

As if he shared the Inquisitor's disgust, the prisoner made a violent retching sound inside his hood.

"They needed it more than we did, sir," Torres said.

"Well, that was stupid," Tudyk said, sipping the coffee. "But this is passable. Did you find your -- ah, I see you did find your relief," he said, looking over Ginevra's shoulder at Provisional Squad Leaders Cho and Lavender standing behind her. "Throne, don't you all crowd into the tent," he said. "I just need a squad leader and a trainee Hospitaller in here, okay? The rest watch the prisoners out front and back."

"Sir, yes, sir," Cho and Lavender said in chorus, then looked at each other irritably. Cho stepped back out of the tent. Lavender stepped into the tent, the rest of her squad behind her.

"No! You do not all troop through my tent to the holding pens!" the Inquisitor shouted. "One squad leader, one medic, the rest of you go the gak around!"

"Uh, sorry, sir," Lavender said, chivvying her girls back. "I'm very sorry."

"Lying," Glau interjected.

"15-year-old girls with boltguns," the Inquisitor said, eyes lifted heavenward or at least towards the top of the tent. "Why dost Thou afflict Thy faithful servant with teenagers, O Lord?"

"Uh, boss?" the grey-haired man interjected, putting his hands on the prisoner's shoulders and wiggling him back and forth in his chair.

"Oh, right." Tudyk took a long sip of coffee. "Do you repent your sins against the God-Emperor of Humankind, uh..."

"Eckhart," the scribe said.

"I knew that!" Tudyk smacked the scribe again. "Eckhart, do you -- um, where were we?"

A pause.

"Are you going to hit me if I answer?" asked the scribe.

"I'm definitely gonna hit you if you don't."

"We were repenting sins against the God-Emperor, sir."

"Okay," Tudyk said, not smacking him. "Do you repent your sins against the God-Emperor of Humankind, Eckhart?"

"Feth you." There was a spitting sound from inside the hood. A small spot of blood appeared just where the mouth must've been. "Feth your corpse-god."

The grey-haired guy hit the prisoner with the rod, harder than usual, and held it on him for several seconds until his thrashing overturned the chair into the mud.

"Aaaaand that's definitely one for Baker," Tudyk said, tossing a file in the trash bin. "Take 'em away, Ginevra."

"Yes, sir," she said. She grabbed the man's arm but he didn't move. "Portia! Susan! Get in here!"

"Next!" the Inquisitor yelled. Some of the girls from 3rd Squad hauled another prisoner in the front of the tent as Ginevra, Portia, and Susan dragged Eckhart out the back.

"You're just in time," Portia told her. "Baker pen is really full."

Ginevra raised an eyebrow at her.

Portia sighed. "Containment for Zone Baker is already significantly above nominal capacity, Provisional Squad Leader, ma'am."

"You been reading a thesaurus while I'm gone, Novice Portia?" Ginevra said. Portia glowered; Susan snickered.

The holding pen was pretty full, though. There were maybe forty people in the confined space, too many to all sit down at once, and the standing ones kept bumping one another into the barbed wire. Half of them had little bloody spots along their clothing at exactly the same height.

The rest of the squad was stationed in a loose perimeter, weapons out, except for Luna. The willowy blonde stood back a bit, positioned so she could hose down the whole pen with her flamer but not hit any of the other girls.

"Hello, Ginevra," Luna said dreamily. "This is very boring."

"Uh, yeah," Ginevra said. "Well, we're gonna do something different now."

"Okay, my pretty little bitches," Sister Torres said. "Let's move 'em out."

Third squad helped them yank people out of the pen one after another, Torres expertly threading a cord between each successive prisoner's arms so they had no choice but to stumble along in line.

"C'mon, scum," Ginevra said to the prisoner at her feet -- Eckhart -- and prodded him with her boot. "Get up."

"I'm on break," came the muffled answer through the hood.

Ginevra almost laughed but kicked him in the ribs instead, just not too hard. "Sister Torres, ma'am!"

"Yeah, Ginny?"

"This one just got out of the tent, ma'am, he's going to take a minute."

"Okay," said Torres, looping the cord through another prisoner's arms. "You bring up the rear, then."

"Yes'm."

"Just don't get chatty with the heretic, m'kay?"

"No, ma'am!"

The rest of the squad was already headed towards the secondary, smaller arena in the shadow of the main stadium. Each girl had her own hooded prisoner to prod along, even Granger, who kept poking hers with the muzzle of her sidearm. Torres tied off the cord behind one more prisoner, smacked him on the ass with an armored gauntlet, and shoved him stumbling after the others.

"Break time's over, Eckhart," Ginevra said, prodding the prisoner with her boot.

"You remember my name," he said hoarsely.

"Don't let it go to your head," she said, kicking him in the head by way of emphasis, just not too hard.

Eckhart made a retching noise inside his hood. "Feth, stop hitting me. Every time you fething hit me, it's gonna take longer."

Sorry, she almost said, but she caught herself.

She let him lie a moment. "Now, your highness?"

"Okay." He rocked about on his back. "Hand up?"

With his own hands bound behind his back, Eckhart wasn't going to get up any time soon. Ginevra reached out, then thought better of it. She took her bolt pistol in one hand and pressed it against his temple while she helped him up with her other hand. "Don't try anything stupid," she told him.

A hoarse, choking laugh. "Too late."

He was alarmingly tall, now that he was standing, and a lot bigger than even an athletic 15-year-old girl. Ginevra wished she'd kept Portia or Susan or both back with her to help.

Ginevra shoved him forward, not too hard, and he stumbled off after the others. Sort of. She had to grab his arm with her free hand and poke her pistol into the small of his back to guide him. "Move."

He moved. Not fast enough. The rest of the line was already disappearing through the gateway into the small arena. She prodded him with the gun to go faster.

"What's your name?" he asked.

"Shut up and keep moving."

"You have me at a disadvantage, young miss," said Eckhart. "You know my name. I don't know yours."

"Shut up, heretic."

"Well, that's true, you don't know my given name, do you? Rafael Eckhart."

"Shut. Up."

"How do you do? I'd shake hands but I'm a little tied up." He started to laugh at his own joke but it turned pretty quickly into hacking coughs. More blood spattered the lower part of his hood, beneath the mouth.

She jabbed the pistol really hard into his back. They were finally at the small arena. An adult Sister standing guard opened the gate to let them in.

"Hurry up, honey," she chided Ginevra, "your friends are all already here." She cuffed Eckhart. "Yours too, traitor."

Ginevra shoved Eckhart through the gate and followed him in.

Into Zone Baker.

Ginevra didn't know what this small secondary arena was for, originally. Whatever it had been, the viewing stands were almost empty now, except for a few Sisters keeping watch, and the sand of the arena floor was blackened. Most of the other novices were tying their prisoners to a row of wooden stakes. Torres stood back watching, Luna with flamer ready at her side, while Portia was sticking another stake into the ground.

"We're -- ugh -- we're gonna run out of stakes before we run out of heretics," Portia said, trying to force hers in. It splintered. "Dammit! These things are such cheap gak!"

"My full name," came a whispered voice, "is Rafael Sibelius Eckhart. I was a musician."

"Shut up," Ginevra whispered back. She pushed him forward.

"I composed and taught girls like you piano," Eckhart said. "Remember me."

She shoved him up against a stake. "How...." she looked around. "How do we tie them up?"

"I like cats but I'm allergic, so I could never keep one in my apartment," Eckhart said. "Remember me."

"Shut up!" Ginevra snapped. "Where are, where are, y'know, the tying things?"

"Here," Susan said, handing her a short plastic cord. Then she went back to struggling with her own prisoner, a hooded woman who kept sliding down the stake and sobbing on the ground. "C'mon, get up," Susan said desperately. "C'mon...."

"Tell them your name!" Eckhart shouted. "Don't just cry, dammit! Tell them your name!"

Ginevra smacked his hooded face with her armored fist. That shut him up for a minute while she tied him tightly to the stake. Susan's prisoner just kept sobbing.

More blood soaked the bottom of Eckhart's hood. "Oh, well," he said thickly. "My hair was brown. My eyes were grey. Remember me."

"Shut! Up!" Ginevra spat out. She yanked the knots tighter and stepped back.

The hooded woman was still sobbing in a lump on the charred ground. Susan squatted next to her, face in her hands.

"My n-n-n-name is Minnie Cartwright," whispered the woman, choking back tears. "My name was Minnie Davis Cartwright and I had four grandchildren. Remember me."

"Okay, Susan," Ginevra said, a little shakily, "let me help you with...."

"No," Susan said.

"What?"

"No," Susan repeated. "I'm done."

"Okay." Ginevra shook herself, squared her shoulders, and walked over to the weeping woman. "I'll do it."

"I'm done," Susan repeated, standing up, and she began to walk away.

"Susan?" Ginevra said. "Susan, what...."

"I'm done." She kept walking.

The other novices were all looking at Susan at this point, even sleepy-eyed Luna with the flamer. Sister Torres looked at Ginevra instead and raised one eyebrow.

Ginevra took a deep breath. "Novice..." she croaked. She swallowed. "Novice Susan! Get back here, now!"

"No," Susan said, not turning. "Done."

"Susan!" Ginevra shouted.

Susan kept walking away, right towards Torres and Luna with the flamer. "Dammit," Ginevra muttered and started running after her. "Novice! Susan! Stop!"

"My favorite colors were blue and red," Eckhart called after her. "I took painting classes but I sucked at it but I kept taking them anyway because it was relaxing. Remember me!"

"Portia, shut him up!" Ginevra yelled. She caught up to Susan, grabbed her by the shoulder, spun her round. "Novice! Where are you going?"

"I don't know." Susan pulled free and started off again, only to run up against a glaring Sister Torres.

"You've disobeyed a direct order from your Provisional Squad Leader," Torres said softly.

"I can't do this."

"We all have to do this, Novice Susan."

"I can't! We're -- I'm training to be a Sister of Battle," Susan said, starting to cry. "This -- this isn't battle."

"We are Sisters of whatever the Emperor needs us to be, Novice Susan."

"I can't."

"This is an in or out moment, Novice Susan."

There was a long silence, broken only by Eckhart's groans and Portia's grunts as she beat him.

Susan unsealed her helmet, took it off, and handed it to Sister Torres. "Out," she said.

"Out, then," Torres said in a voice as quiet as it was terrible.

Susan popped her back-and-breastplate, pulled off her pelvic protection, undid her greaves and vambraces, and set all the armor tidily in a pile. Then, clad only in her padded bodysuit and boots, she walked past Torres towards the arena gate.

"Susan!" Torres called after her.

Susan stopped but she didn't look back. "Yes, ma'am?"

"The boots too, Susan."

Susan took off the boots and walked away, barefoot, over the blackened ground. The Sister at the gate opened it for her without a word. Susan started through, then stopped.

"My name is Susan," she said. "I was a Novice of the Adepta Sororitas. Remember me."

Then she left.

"Huh," Sister Torres said. "Okay, are they all staked up?"

"Sister Torres, ma'am?" asked Portia. "Shouldn't we, ah, go after her?" She waggled her bolter suggestively.

"Go after whom, Novice?"

Portia blinked. "Uh, Susan?"

"Never heard of her," Torres said. "Are all the prisoners staked up?"

A pause.

"Provisional Squad Leader Ginevra," Torres said, speaking very slowly, "are all the heretics secured for purification?"

"Ah..." Ginevra looked around. There were ten hooded figures in a row, tied to ten stakes, one for each person in the squad if you counted Sister Torres. "Yes, ma'am."

"I never married her," Eckhart said through a spasm of violent coughing. "That was my mistake," he gasped. "Remember me."

"Your mistake," Torres said in that same quietly terrible voice, "was to participate in an insurrection against the God-Emperor and His servants that cost so many of them their lives."

Michael, Ginevra thought, remembering the young soldier she'd never even gotten to speak to.

"My name's Serena Davis!" shouted another of the bound and hooded prisoners. "I shot an Arbites detective in the face and I'm not sorry! Remember me!"

"My name is Joe Early," the prisoner next to her said, almost inaudibly. "I fix -- I fixed groundcars. I, y'know, liked dogs. Remember..."

"Girls, step clear, please," Torres said sharply. "Flamer specialist?"

Luna stepped forward, her eyes focused on nothing in particular, the pilot light of her flamer flickering prettily in the wind.

"Luna, no!" Ginevra thought. Then she realized, as everyone turned to stare at her, that she had said it aloud.

"Provisional Squad Leader?" Torres said, grinding her jaw.

"Luna, give me the flamer," Ginevra said.

"Why?" Luna asked, smiling vaguely as she unclipped the fuel tank from her back armor.

"Yes," said Torres, "why?"

"I'm Provisional Squad Leader," Ginevra said quietly. "I should do it."

Torres nodded.

Ginevra took up the flamer.

"My name is Lawrence Darrell," said one of the hooded men, somehow managed to turn his face almost directly towards Ginevra. "I -- I grew prize tomatoes and had two sons. Remember me."

Ginevra tried to find the trigger but her hands were shaking too badly.

"You can do it, Ginny," Torres said softly in her ear. She gently laid a hand on Ginevra's arm to steady her, her other hand on her shoulder. "Just breathe. Breathe with me."

Ginevra heard Torres inhaling deeply, exhaling; she could feel Torres's strong hands on her. She forced herself to take a long, deep breath.

"My name was Rafael -- Sibelius -- Eckhart," came a hoarse rasp. "I loved...."

Ginevra pulled the trigger.

When the flames died down, Torres gave Ginevra a sudden hug, their armor clacking together, and kissed her on the top of her helmet. Then just as suddenly she let Ginevra go.

"Okay, girls," Torres said loudly, "let's get the next batch."

This message was edited 10 times. Last update was at 2014/12/23 03:27:58


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
Xenohunter Acolyte with Alacrity




England

Really enjoyed this story, it was wonderfully dark and gritty in it's simplicity, and serves as a reminder that the Imperium is a harsh place.
The psychological aspect was a great addition as well, "Remember Me" might have made for a good title if you hadn't gone with "Able Baker".

Really liked this one, keep it coming.
But if I might make a suggestion? Best keeping all stories concerning a certain character/group of characters in one thread; makes it easier to keep track.

Castra

"It is human nature to seek culpability in a time of tragedy..."

"It is a sign of strength, to cry out against fate, rather than to bow one's head and succumb."

-Cpt. Gabriel Angelos: Blood Ravens 3rd Company-

 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Thanks. A good point about the title, but "Able Baker" has the advantages of being (1) less on the nose and (2) a pun. A horrible, gruesome pun.

Also a valid point about presentation.

I'm eventually going to put all these stories in a single article -- once revised: that's why I'm so eager for suggestions & even outright criticism.

For these first drafts, though, I prefer a different thread for each story so you don't have to scroll through comments to get to the next installment of the fiction and vice versa. That also makes it clear WHICH story any specific comment is about.

You'll notice my homebrew units threads tend to be the same: I'll present one set of units/rules, get comments on them, revise, get more comments, rinse & repeat; but if I have a different set of units, I'll make a different post to keep the two discussions from interfering with each other.

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
Hallowed Canoness





Between

Remember Me would be a good title if it wasn't the name of the book about the original, real life situation this piece was based off.

The only criticism I have is that Susan is effectively a deserter, and a deserter is as good as a heretic when doing holy work. While she's young enough that she doesn't invoke the 'sisters never fall!' nerdrage switch in me, I can't help but feel she would go Repentia - she's still an emperor-loving Battle Sister, after all, she still believes in the cause and the mission, even if she can't bring herself to execute helpless prisoners.

Unless that's what the disarmouring was supposed to represent? If so, it probably needs spelling out as such. Maybe a note that she is going to present herself to the Canoness to petition her for the right to repent?

I would comment on the lho-smoking sister, but she gets told off for it, so I'll put it down to incomplete training.



"That time I only loaded the cannon with powder. Next time, I will fill it with jewels and diamonds and they will cut you to shrebbons!" - Nogbad the Bad. 
   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

A well-written piece, like the others. I must say I like the trend of avoiding the combat stuff for more psychological/moral/personal stories, it certainly adds a lot to and does a lot with the setting.

Keep it coming.

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

Available for Commission Work. PM me for details. 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Thanks. I am indeed trying to avoid any combat scenes in these stories, though I have a vague idea someone will suffer through an artillery bombardment at some point, without the opportunity to shoot back or do anything but hunker down and endure, of course.

As for Furyou's many good points:

 Furyou Miko wrote:
Remember Me would be a good title if it wasn't the name of the book about the original, real life situation this piece was based off.


Hello, now that's interesting, because I had no real-life incident in my mind when I wrote this -- at least, in my conscious mind: Lord knows what my subconscious gets up to with things my waking brain has forgotten but the deep, dark pools below remember....

The only book I can find online (well, in a five-minute search) that sounds like it might be the one you're talking is a Holocaust story, Always Remember Me -- that's not the one, though, is it? I'd love a link.

The only criticism I have is that Susan is effectively a deserter, and a deserter is as good as a heretic when doing holy work.... I can't help but feel she would go Repentia....Unless that's what the disarmouring was supposed to represent? If so, it probably needs spelling out as such....


I hadn't thought of her going Repentia. It's an interesting thought, too. But I think Torres isn't even according Susan the right to die for her redemption: She's made Susan a non-person, someone who never existed.

And Susan? She's a 15-year-old girl with significant martial arts training but no armor, no weapons, no shoes, no experience of life outside a convent, no money, and no food, heading out alone into a city that has barely finished a devastating civil war. (Remember the deserted buildings and rubbled streets from Ollanius Pius Requiem?). Part of me would like to imagine her striding out of the ruins five years later, scarred and strong and cynical like a female Road Warrior, but honestly it's a sentence of death -- and/or (I hate to say this) of rape, because life in wartime is especially cruel to women and girls -- and both Susan and Torres know it.

I would comment on the lho-smoking sister....


What's "Lho"? A typo or a drug I've not heard of? I'm not sure what's she smoking, honestly, but given there are dead and captured Slaaneshi all around, she could've picked up almost anything. It could actually be simple nicotine: A lot of people find it calming.
The fact that Zone Baker actually got a Sororitas Novice to the point of smoking... something.... is meant as a testament to the sheer horror of it.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2013/12/01 02:12:12


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 vn
Implacable Skitarii




Somewhere...

A Lho-stick is a popular Imperial narcotic, much like a M2-era cigarette, made of a rolled paper tube containing a scented plant-derived substance. The tube is lit and the resultant smoke inhaled through it, causing a mildly narcotic sensation. Lho-sticks are addictive and are common amongst the Imperial Guard and menial workers.
Just found it on Lexicanum
I've enjoyed your stories very much Can we have more please
And if you bring some more "grimdarkness of the battlefield" in your stories, it'll be more interesting. The SoB are warrior women, after all

   
Made in de
Shunting Grey Knight Interceptor






"The Inquisition - what a show. The Inquisition - here we go!"
I really liked the grimdark pun of the title. The story's quite grim as well, especially if one has read a bit about the holocaust.

"When in deadly danger,
When beset by doubt,
run in little circles,
wave your arms and shout." - Litany of Command (parody)

DR:80+SG-MB--I+Pw40k13#----D++A+/eWD-R++T(F)DM+ 
   
Made in gb
Xenohunter Acolyte with Alacrity




England

I would comment on the lho-smoking sister....


What's "Lho"? A typo or a drug I've not heard of? I'm not sure what's she smoking, honestly, but given there are dead and captured Slaaneshi all around, she could've picked up almost anything. It could actually be simple nicotine: A lot of people find it calming.
The fact that Zone Baker actually got a Sororitas Novice to the point of smoking... something.... is meant as a testament to the sheer horror of it.


Iho is the Imperial equivalent of tobacco; so an Iho stick is effectively a cigar.
If you read a Gaunt's Ghosts novel, you'll see this kind of thing a lot.
They also seem to simply call coffee 'caffeine'.
There are also several Imperial beverages that I know of, including Uskavar (comes from Macragge), Sacra (exclusive to the Tanith 1st and only) and Amasec, which is the Imperium's most common alcoholic beverage.

"It is human nature to seek culpability in a time of tragedy..."

"It is a sign of strength, to cry out against fate, rather than to bow one's head and succumb."

-Cpt. Gabriel Angelos: Blood Ravens 3rd Company-

 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Aha, thanks. So it's a case of Call A Rabbit A Smeerp. When something's identical or nigh-identical to something in real life, e.g. recaf = coffee, I'm consistently using the contemporary term in these stories to make the people in them seem familiar rather than exotic. Doing it the other way is a valid choice, but it serves a different purpose.

 Atropamin wrote:
I really liked the grimdark pun of the title. The story's quite grim as well, especially if one has read a bit about the holocaust.


I've definitely read cases of German soldiers -- not SS, I think, just Wehrmacht regulars -- who refused to shoot Jewish civilians. In the cases I've read about, remarkably, they were not disciplined -- which, the author argued, shows that the reason so many Germans obeyed orders to commit atrocities was not fear of punishment. I've actually read a quote from a senior Nazi leader (Himmler, I believe) saying that exterminating Jews by firing squad was too psychologically stressful for good German boys and they had to find a more humane form of genocide -- more humane for the those committing genocide, that is. Hence the gas chambers. That's one of my inspirations for this story.

The use of a stadium to contain prisoners prior to "processing," by contrast, was inspired by the Taliban doing it in Afghanistan.

The really interesting question here -- to which I don't have the answer myself -- is whether, by the end of the story, Ginevra is the hero or the villain or both.

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:

The really interesting question here -- to which I don't have the answer myself -- is whether, by the end of the story, Ginevra is the hero or the villain or both.


That's certainly a very interesting question, and part of why this piece is so appealing. From the IoM's point of view, she is certainly a hero, purging the heretic ad all that. And I think that what she did in taking the flamer and executing them herself rather than letting Luna (who seems to be far less aware/experienced from what I read from the other pieces) could easily be seen as heroic, defending her almost-innocence a bit longer.

On the other hand, you've got the idea of killing helpless prisoners, so it's not exactly black and white to say the least. To me, though, there is a certain heroism in trying to protect the others from being murderers, and it's not like she enjoyed what she was doing.

I imagine that everyone who's read this has a different and individual view, though, and I imagine that was exactly what you intended when writing this. This is a great example of why 40k is such an interesting universe, there is no good and evil, only degrees of both. I think that Ginevra is far more good than bad, though. It was a situation in which doing the right thing was impossible, but she did the best she could by protecting the others.

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

Available for Commission Work. PM me for details. 
   
Made in gb
Hallowed Canoness





Between

Au contraire, I believe that Ginevra is undoubtedly the hero - heroes get a pass for killing, after all, and the cult (the baker cultists anyway) do actively want to bring daemons into the materium, which is a guarrantee of suffering and torment for the vast majority of people on the planet.

In a way, grumpy as he is, the Inquisitor is a hero too. He is, after all, bothering to give the more innocent cultists who didn't know what they were into a chance to help fix the damage they inflicted.

Mutants? I have no problem with mutants on a personal level. The persecution of mutants is a crime. Killing mutants for being mutants and killing puregenes for aiding nonviolent mutants are both villainous works.

What I love about 40k lore is that it is about walking the thin line - illustrated so well in these stories - between doing what is necessary and going too far. Susan can't go far enough. Luna doesn't understand that there is a line. Torres, I think, had chosen to erase the line for the sake of her wards, Ginevra is finding the line and the Stinquisitor is drawing it. Straight so far, but he seems on the verge of his hand starting to wobble.



"That time I only loaded the cannon with powder. Next time, I will fill it with jewels and diamonds and they will cut you to shrebbons!" - Nogbad the Bad. 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






It's a very thin line, and I love your analysis of it.

Certainly the cultists were not only a threat to the Imperium but brought disaster to themselves and their communities, including thousands of people who had nothing to do with the cult and no desire to overthrow the Ministorum.

That said, not all of the cultists committed acts of violence, many of them probably didn't think the cult would end up leading a violent insurrection when they joined in the first place, and probably only a handful made the decision to appeal to...outside forces. In fact we have only a hint in "Ollanius Pius Requiem" that the Imperium thinks Noise Marines may be on the planet (Torres' reference to "sonic weaponry"), and we have no evidence whatsoever whether anyone successfully summoned a daemon.

Certainly, also, the Inquisitor is working hard to draw a line that many of his colleagues wouldn't bother to. That said, at least some of the people condemned to Zone Baker are there because of what they believe, not because of what they've done, which by 21st century Western standards is profound injustice.

And remember the Inquisitor is judging people based on a balance of what they've done, how sincerely they repeat, and how useful they are: Zone "Able" is also a pun, because having skills useful for post-conflict reconstruction is part of the criteria for getting there. The sobbing grandmother Susan refuses to help execute -- Minnie Cartwright -- could be in Baker because she's an unrepentant Chaos sorceress or because her repentance wasn't intense enough to outweigh the fact she's an old woman without valuable skills or the raw strength for unskilled labor.

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 ie
Hallowed Canoness




Ireland

Alright, since I've been asked to, I'll post my feedback publicly this time - although I feel I may be too harsh on you just for deviating from my preferred interpretation of the setting. As I already told you, I treat your stories as a sort of "guilty pleasure", because on one hand I think they've crossed the line to Cain-territory, but on the other they are very enjoyable to read, both for the cast itself as well as the progression from humour (story start) to grimdark (story end) you seem to follow.

My criticism regarding the frequency and, perhaps more importantly, choice of swear words is nothing new, but as you already said you are "contemporising" on purpose, so this is something we as readers just have to get used to, though it is rather non-standard for this franchise. The smoking Novice was another bit where I paused for a moment, although I can retroactively think of ways to rationalise it, such as some random Guardsman having offered her one after seeing her stressed out. I like to think this was the case, though it's hard to tell - the way the story treats her (not coughing), it could just as well be a "bad girl" who was always smoking even in the Schola, which I think misses even the relaxed Sororitas of your interpretation, as well as your goal of making it stand out as a sign of how terrible this situation is (which I think works wonderfully if it'd be more obvious).

Also, I feel you're overdoing it on the Firefly references; it was funny in the previous one, but here it got too much. Perhaps because "Glau" is even less of a usual surname than the others. Together with her physical description as well as her actions, this almost reads like crossover fiction.

Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this third of your stories just like I enjoyed the others. And I really, really liked the pun in the title and am almost proud of "getting it" (or expecting it) even before the actual execution.
Oh, and I also agree with Susan being let go as a "non-person" rather than turning her into Repentia. In the interpretation of the setting I subscribed to, meaning the studio material, the Repentia are simultaneously outcasts as well as role models to their fellow Sisters, the dual nature reflecting both their transgression as well as the burning passion to make up for it, and find redemption in death. The very lack of this burning passion necessitates alternative methods of dismissal, from simple execution to transfer to another Imperial Adeptus (like forced conscription into the nearest Imperial Guard regiment), but Torres' solution was perfectly acceptable as well, and perhaps even more grim in its own way.


SisterSydney wrote:The use of a stadium to contain prisoners prior to "processing," by contrast, was inspired by the Taliban doing it in Afghanistan.
Oh, I remember reading about that, and how cynical it was that said stadium had been built with UN funding before the Taliban took over.

SisterSydney wrote:The really interesting question here -- to which I don't have the answer myself -- is whether, by the end of the story, Ginevra is the hero or the villain or both.
Both.

"Presenting the Sisters as holy and pure, yet vengeful and uncompromising, in my view compliments the Witch Hunters. On one hand providing an example to Humanity on the very best a person can aspire to, yet on the other showing the necessarily harsh actions Humanity's guardians must take in order to protect its future. By the standards of the 21st century, these girls are fanatical zealots, but in the context of the 41st millennium, they are paragons of virtue, whose every action is a manifestation of the divine will of the God-Emperor of Mankind. It's all a matter of perspective, you see."
- WD #292, Andy Hoare, Designer's Notes

Also, what Paradigm wrote. Well put. One can see she'd make a good squad leader later on.
I also really like what Furyou Miko wrote regarding the lines, and how the various characters treat them.

SisterSydney wrote:Part of me would like to imagine her striding out of the ruins five years later, scarred and strong and cynical like a female Road Warrior, but honestly it's a sentence of death -- and/or (I hate to say this) of rape, because life in wartime is especially cruel to women and girls -- and both Susan and Torres know it.
It could make a cool background for a spin-off, though!
   
Made in gb
Mekboy Hammerin' Somethin'





Papua New Guinea

"How's Inqy Stinky?" the Sister said, locking the gate again.

That did make me chuckle.

I agree with Lynata about the style being not perfectly representative of the franchise but then, this is fan fiction and that gives you license to present in your own way so it works for me.

When Susan walked away and then walked over he blackened ground I thought she was then heading into the arena to take her place with the heretics (you check out but you can't leave). If I may suggest, Torres having a friendly moment earlier with Susan but then instantly switching from chummy to contemptful and basically telling her to 'eff off then' would have hightened the moment for 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 us
Preacher of the Emperor






Good point. I probably do need to do more to set up Susan in general.

Also it is quite possible she heads straight to "Zone Charlie" for "processing." Or that she tries to head somewhere else but the Novices on perimeter security pick her up and take her there anyway.

Insane detail about how the Novices are organized here:
Spoiler:
Notice that only Novice Squads 2, 3, and 4 are in the story.
Squad 1 is on the other side of the stadium, offloading new prisoners as they're brought in on Imperial Guard trucks. But the inflow of new prisoners has almost completely stopped, so Squad 1 is just hanging out waiting for someone to remember they exist.
Then there's a whole other platoon, Squads 5-8, that are doing perimeter patrols, roadblocks, and checkpoints about 500 meters outside the stadium walls. There's a rotation, and it was actually this other platoon that was in the stadium handling Zones Able, Baker, and Charlie all day yesterday, while Ginevra, Cho, Lavender & whoever's running 1st Squad were doing the perimeter security. That's why Ginevra and her squad are only now taking their first turn in Zone Baker.
Also, these are purely provisional platoons and designations -- the Sisterhood doesn't like to put so many Novice Squads together in one place for fear something horrible will wipe them out, but when the Inquisitor asked, they figured it was good training that would keep the girls safe and dumped 80 teenagers on him. He yelled and fumed and smacked his scribe on the head, then assigned the squads numbers that had nothing to do with their Sororitas unit designations.


 Paradigm wrote:
I think that Ginevra is far more good than bad, though. It was a situation in which doing the right thing was impossible, but she did the best she could by protecting the others.


 Lynata wrote:
Also, what Paradigm wrote. Well put. One can see she'd make a good squad leader later on.


Agreed. Susan's refusal was the most pure and noble thing to do, but its only practical consequence was to (almost certainly) get her killed. Ginevra made a terrible moral compromise to do evil herself so others could be spared its taint -- which is arguably part of what any combat soldier has to do (they kill so we don't have to) and definitely the trait of a leader. I had meant her as more of an "everygirl" to start with but she's clearly becoming something more.



 Lynata wrote:
I treat your stories as a sort of "guilty pleasure", because on one hand I think they've crossed the line to Cain-territory, but on the other they are very enjoyable to read....The smoking Novice was another bit where I paused for a moment, although I can retroactively think of ways to rationalise it, such as some random Guardsman having offered her one after seeing her stressed out. I like to think this was the case, though it's hard to tell - the way the story treats her (not coughing), it could just as well be a "bad girl" who was always smoking even in the Schola, which I think misses even the relaxed Sororitas of your interpretation, as well as your goal of making it stand out as a sign of how terrible this situation is (which I think works wonderfully if it'd be more obvious).


Good points for the revision. (Compliments are nice, criticism is useful). To make it clear how big a transgression this is, how big a sign that Something Is Wrong, I do need to make it clearer that she's never smoked before, so a cough or three could be in order, or even a bit of dialogue, e.g.
GINEVRA: Does your squadmate, um, always....
CHO: Smoke? No, no, never before today. Lots of new experiences today for everybody.

And yes the squad leaders' names are Harry Potter references in addition to the Firefly references with the inquisitor and his pet psyker, probably I am pushing it, but outside of fanfic you can't play little games with copyrighted characters like this, so it's hard to resist.


 xalvissx wrote:
And if you bring some more "grimdarkness of the battlefield" in your stories, it'll be more interesting. The SoB are warrior women, after all


Actually, my plan is to never have an actual fight scene during one of these stories. It's all getting ready, the aftermath, being shelled from a distance with no way to respond, all the boring parts of war that most stories leave out -- and shooting helpless prisoners and/or their own side by mistake. I actually do have an idea for a story in which a Sororitas dies, but it's an idiotic, pointless accident involving a logistics vehicle.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2013/12/02 02:29:37


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
Hallowed Canoness





Between

There's plenty of bolter porn out there already, this is a good step away from that.



"That time I only loaded the cannon with powder. Next time, I will fill it with jewels and diamonds and they will cut you to shrebbons!" - Nogbad the Bad. 
   
Made in fi
Confessor Of Sins




Evil it might be, but executing properly condemned prisoners is something a soldier might have to do. And the inquisitor in charge held hearings and passed sentence according to some sort of rules instead of just burning everyone. Sure, we would deem these executions as incredibly harsh (and some probably as warcrimes) but the IoM is besieged on all fronts and threatened by internal dissent everywhere, with the ever-present threat of demonic cults summoning things from elsewhere. Grimdark. But with a sliver of hope in it. An inquisitor who does give you a chance, and Adepta Sororitas novices who can still see that their actions might have been over the top. I like it.

Off topic - or maybe on topic: My SoB certainly burn everything to the ground when they take to the field but they do feel bad about killing my mates' Space Wolves. Those guys do serve the Emperor, mostly, and they throw nice barbeques for me too. Gunnar always brings the big charcoal grill, and there's plenty of booze. Celestine and the Rune Priest Olaf getting into combat and basically beating on each other for the entire game without doing a thing also builds some respect. :-)
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Gracias. Although grumble grumble Space Wolves grumble grumble.

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 fi
Confessor Of Sins




 SisterSydney wrote:
Although grumble grumble Space Wolves grumble grumble.


Off topic: Well, it's a sort of running joke between us... SW like girls (according to some fluff) and AS like burning people that lay hands on them. After some grabbing and burning our armies have some respect for each other - my Sisters try to not get grabbed (close combat) and the SW try to not get burned (hand flamers, flamers, heavy flamers, Celestine). Also we both agree that Thunder Wolves suck against Sisters.

Back on topic though, would be funny to see the novices try to deal with real Space Marines somewhere. Marines (usually) don't pray to the Emperor but they're also greatly respected as his sons. And the Sororitas - while not quite Marines - do draw grudging respect from Marines that have fought beside them. Marines have the raw physical power through their enhancements (and insane self-confidence from their indoctrination), Sisters have the best training available to mortals and unshakable faith through their training. For example: novices deployed in same mission as marine scouts. What would Sister Ginevra think about some supremely self-confident Scout Sergeant who wants to do the mission with his own squad even if it gets them all killed in the finest traditions of the (stupid Codex won't-back-down) Marines?
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






Actually, I'm brainstorming the next Novice Ginevra story now and it'll put her in contact with Marines, and the generic, secular, Ultramarinated kind, not the more comfortable-for-Sisters Templars or the oh-my-Emperor-WTF chapters like Space Wolves or Blood Angels.

But as with the prior stories, there won't be any actual combat. (Plenty of conflict, though). My working title is, in fact, the truly horrible "Dancing with the Astartes".....

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2013/12/05 03:14:44


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 fi
Confessor Of Sins




 SisterSydney wrote:
A "Dancing with the Astartes".....


http://www.dakkadakka.com/wiki/en/Image:SpaceHulk_dance_steps

sorry, totally off topic :-)

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2013/12/05 03:24:41


 
   
Made in us
Preacher of the Emperor






No, on topic, that's from when the game and the community took themselves a little less seriously -- which I'm all in favor of. Grimdark with no grimsnark is just one step away from boring.

Also, I've edited the thread title to give a teaser of what the story's about.

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






For those of you who were wondering where a Novice of the Adepta Sororitas found a cigarette, let alone learned how to smoke it, I've added an explanation that came to me over the holiday.... Yes because that is the biggest thing that nagged at me about the story, seriously, I may be insane.

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

Neat, I almost missed it in fact but I like that Ginevra is probably getting the exact same 'look' into how the Inquisitor and his people work that the other novices (or some of them) have already had; the experience might seem personal and natural but is actually highly choreographed to get them used to it all, right down to a friendly offer of a smoke.

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

This was a very nice read. The whole 'remember me' bit was an excellent touch. However, when Susan storms off and Torres has suddenly never heard of her, I couldn't tell if that was literal or if Torres was just being a bitch. She could say something like "She doesn't exist anymore," and it would have been clearer. The next thing I would say is that you have a few really long strings of banter between characters that go too long without dialog tags. With the quick exchanges like those, back and forth back and forth, it becomes easy for the reader to lose their place. Perhaps add one or two tags into those exchanges to help readers keep track of the speaker order.

Aside from that, this was excellent, well thought out fiction. The attention to the little bitty details, the ones most people gloss over, the ones that really matter, that's what sold it. The difference in coffee rations from different branches is an excellent example of this.

Great job. I won't say something like 'keep it coming,' because receiving high quality work is a privilege and not something we can demand. But I will, however, say that I am looking forward to your next work.

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 to you both. More specifically:

To Gogsnik: I hadn't thought of that. Definitely the Sororitas commander hopes the Novices will learn about the Inquisition from this assignment (and stay safely out of active combat in the process), but I'm not sure the Inquisitor gives a feth whether they learn anything or not -- remember he says he didn't want them there. (Of course, Inquisitor: Could be lying!). My first thought was that grey-haired guy simply has avuncular and/or hebephilic tendencies that make him oddly friendly to the Novices, but it could be the Inquisitor has him systematically offering them cigarettes as some kind of test....

To bossfearless: Torres is being a bitch.
In fact, when in doubt, it's always safest to assume Torres is being a bitch, she's like that.
Glad the bit about coffee went over well. I do enjoy that kind of detail. (Read Ollanius Pius Requiem for a character's rant on how uncomfortable carapace armour is -- which actually turns out to be relevant to the plot).
And yes, dialogue tags. I start writing like a script, except of course a script tells you who's saying every line and I don't....

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: I've had "Powerlifting & Plasma" on my to-read list since I first noticed it existed, but I'm chronically behind..

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

Funny aside, I was writing an extremely silly fanfic from a battle sister's point of view, and I decided to explain why none of them seem to wear helmets. They were in the middle of a boarding action and the deck depressurized, and one after another the sisters not wearing helmets were sucked out into space. Finally, the novice decides to put her helm on and is immediately assaulted by centuries' worth of recycled body odor, flatulence, and that 'not so fresh' feeling. The whole squad devolves into a sudden ecstasy of flailing as they fight to stop themselves from pulling the helmets off and just suffocating blissfully.

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
Mekboy Hammerin' Somethin'





Papua New Guinea

 SisterSydney wrote:
To Gogsnik: Snip


Well I supposed even whilst I was typing my reply that I was reading too much into it. It could be that the Inquisitor is subtly setting the tone for how the Sisters view him. He doesn't care about them, doesn't like them and orders them around (that is the impression of the 'boss') one of his men plays the good cop though which generates some camaraderie making the novices know their place and feel well disposed towards the Inquisitor and his people. And it's a test too I would say, I couldn't say of they 'fail' by accepting though.

hebephilic


Ahh, another word learned. Wondrous.

Be Pure!
Be Vigilant!
BEHAVE!

Show me your god and I'll send you a warhead because my god's bigger than your god.
 
   
 
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