Dark Heresy: The White Chamber

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Vay

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Severus was leaning forward in him throne, servo arms moving about his back, next to the throne on a small pedestal containing blooded pieces of glass. He winced as one of the arms pulled out a piece of rib to get at grass lodged behind the bone. Needles fed anesthesia into his bloodstream as the bone was added to the pile in the bowl.

"Weren't you psykers meant to be keeping an eye out for any surprises?" he growled wincing again as his arm gave a jerk, more needles inserted themselves into his shoulder dulling the pain as nerves were repaired. "How in the name of the onmisiah did they miss... " he winced again and there was a soft kink in the bow.

It was then that Zaylin walked in. "Man of the hour." he muttered seeing the psyker his still usable left hand gripping the throne. "If its trill alive theres nothing we can do. The Admiralty has decided they don't wish to help us root out heresy and they'd rather sit idle while the faithful die. Not that it maters much to me what they do." his gave turned to the floor as the anesthesia and working servo arms make it difficult to speak.
 
W

Warmaster Death

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"Judging by its mass and psy-readout, and the power of the Halycon pattern torpedo with an Antellium core plasma warhead, which costs around three point six million thrones to create not including Administratum ledger and record keeping fees of around 450 thrones per quarter and storage surcharges of around 100 thrones a week, I would suggest you try to remain focused on the true objectives here Luitenant, which i might add is several puts you at a lower pay grade than some of the acolytes present, and with a clearence level lower than even the two sergeants in those tubes there, perhaps a modicum of respect for rank and your betters is in order" the Hulking form of Adeptus Mechanicus Artisan Cain Jericus appeared at the bulkhead and made his way directly to the Liutenant, stopping only to check the data slates on each healing chamber

"and as i said earlier, Antellium Core plasma warheads tend to vaporise anything man made and msot things that are not, whats more from what after action images i have seen from my brothers in the ships Mechanicus contingient, the filth was wiped clean by blessed firepower" the Artisan droned, his voice mechanical and harsh.
 
D

Darkness

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The sneer in Julius’ face seemed to be permanent, but he had no reason to be smiling at the moment, of the whole squadron of acolytes he’d made it back the worst, lucky for them, bad for him, he needed those fingers, the last good, natural ones he used to have.

The Guardsman wasn’t known to be this silent, and even Vates wasn’t doing so well, they just faced a daemonhost, and left around thirty Guardsmen to die, sure, that was what all Guardsmen were paid to do, but it wasn’t worth any amount of money to get killed that way.

But it was all for the Imperium, even if the Emperor didn’t seem to like the way he shot his gun. This was the second time he wondered if he had chosen the right profession, if he should have instead chosen to be a member of the administratum, or a priest, or stayed working at the station as a mechanic, at least there wasn’t a chance to lose his arm on a daily basis in those posts.

He didn’t say a word while the spirit of his throne worked on the bionic replacements, too numb from the anesthesia to care about the little differences between his new fingers and his right arm, he tilted his head back, deciding he’d let the machine work, and take a rest, after all, they wouldn’t be doing much fighting any soon.
 
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G

Glazer

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What was Eli feeling as one of the machines set to work on repairing his torn up shoulder? Nothing physically, but mentally? Shock, regret, maybe shame? Perhaps, but more than anything it was anger and determination that he was feeling. He had stopped keeping track of how long he had been stuck in those Emperor-forsaken trenches after his first year there. It had certainly been a long time, but he had never been wounded, never seriously. That had been his first experience with combat since he had been taken off of the line and look at what had happened! How could the Imperium have been so blind that they had not seen what had been waiting for them down there?! Eli shook his head. His mind was beginning to wander down a dangerous road. It was never wise to question to Imperium. He winced as the throne began stitching his arm, then sighed in relief as the machine administered an extra dose of anesthesia. He would rest for now. There would plenty of time to reflect later...
 
K

Karsikan the Berzerker

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Alarius lurked in the shadows of the healing careful not to betray his presence before he'd intended to reveal himself, he'd hitched a ride on the Elsinore after completing a separate assignment on Cloister, They appeared to work for Inquisitor Conway as well, which meant that they, at least the majority of them, could be trusted. It was interesting that he'd been assigned a much simpler target than they had, but he knew why, had he fallen the explosives in his body would have killed them all without a doubt, and they appeared to be far more than just casual sacrifices, except for maybe the psyker.
 

Asmodeus

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"Of course it's dead!" spat Lieutenant Gadron as Jericus confronted him in the hallway. "If the Elsinore wants something killed, then Hell itself cannot interpose!" He pulled his officer's cloak around him and moved away from the Tech-Priest. "The Inquisition should've dealt with this rogue a long time ago. I hope your pay grades comfort you in your failure!"

He strode away, just out of earshot as Zayin's insult echoed from the chamber behind him. "Prepare for warp!" the lieutenant repeated, his bionic eye flashing a last glance at the Tech Priest. And then he was gone, the Scribe Servoskull following after him.


Meanwhile, in the Apothecarium Chamber, Vates rose from his drug-induced stupour, feeling the skin on his face harden into scar-tissue. "Zayin, Severus, calm yourselves. Not even the Elsinore's Navigator foresaw the Daemonhost. The Evertore knew what he was doing when he set the trap. He veiled the daemon... just as he has veiled all his plans so far."

He leant back in the throne, eyes half-closed as servo-arms seared his other wounds with las-burners. "We shall consult Inquisitor Conway on return to Sheol XVII. The Evertore was his student, his Cell-Brother for 23 years. Only Conway can direct us now."

The windows of the chamber began closing, great plates of adamantium sliding over the glass as pre-warp checks were carried out. At the same time, the great machine spirits began whining and rumbling through the depths of the ship, sealing chambers and corridors. Jericus just had time to step into the room before the Apothecarium Chamber was locked down. And all that was left in the corridors were the sounds of Servitors beginning their patrols.

It was forbidden to gaze upon the Immaterium during warp travel. Anyone found in the corridors or peering through the shielding would be summarily executed by the servitors. And by statute all Psykers needed to be accounted for and monitored. The machines would keep close watch on this chamber due to Zayin's presence.

The entire ship shuddered as Geller fields began to generate around it, and in the depths the Choir of Twilight sung in time with the machine-spirits - a hallowed chorus meant to soothe the warp-bound souls. The lights flickered out, shrouding the acolytes in darkness, and then their stomachs and minds began to twist as quixotic waves bent the ship out of real-space.

Jericus and the other Acolytes took what seats they could find, strapping themselves in and closing their eyes in silent meditation. And on their lips as always came the prayers, that their jump into the warp would not cast them adrift in space and time... that centuries would not pass and they would not be sent thousands of light-years from the Calixis Sector.

To jump into the Warp was to accept that you may never return... or that everything you knew would no longer be there when you reached the other side...



Darkness... broken now and then by silver flashes...

Vates saw faces, stretched wide in screaming horror, naked torsos daubed with blood, orifices ripped and weeping bile.

Screams and laughter sliced his mind like blades... he saw them, a thousand wretched souls squeezed like rats through a tunnel, ripping open on barbs and thorns...

The faces of the guardsmen on Cloister... the Mendicant Order... and others, unknown and deformed...

His family, transmuted into ash and tears on the altar of the Emperor... His golden light a distant eye above the horizon of torment...

Conway... his fellow Acolytes... the crew of the Elsinore... screaming, ripping skin from each other's bodies...



Then with a dry heave the scream rushed up from Vates's stomach and expelled itself, echoing around the room as his eyes snapped open.

It seem like only a second had passed, but the world was at a slant now. Fumbling, he grabbed at his servo-restraints, thumbing the release. He tumbled out of his throne and rolled a short way across the floor before colliding with Eli's chair. The floor was sloping... the ship's gravity must have malfunctioned. Clutching at his face, where the serum-needles had been ripped out, the Arbitrator pulled himself up.

The barriers on the windows were rolling back, white light glaring through.

For a moment Vates feared he was about to gaze upon the Immaterium and lose his soul forever in the swirling madness. But then the glare faded and he saw the pinpricks of stars.

They had dropped out of warp.

And hanging in the darkness, less than 200ft from the starboard side of the Elsinore, was another vessel, huge and silent, drifting dead between the stars.

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They had barely avoided collision with the hulk. Already the Acolytes could hear the Elsinore waking up again, Machine-Spirits stirring back into life, orders echoing down the corridors as the officers tried to deal with the unexpected event.

How far had they travelled? How much time had passed? How had they fallen out of warp if there had been no storm?

Vates gripped Eli's throne and pulled himself closer to the window, gazing at the drifting space hulk. Beneath it's aquilla prow, he read the huge inscription in Imperial Gothic.

ACHERADE

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Seiji

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Zayin had been standing at the center of the chamber as the Elsinore departed for the warp. He had always hated that part of space travel; he could... hear, the things out there. Just inches from the metallic surface of the ship. They were always there, always whispering and looking for the closest, open mind to really work their words.

He daren't touch anything, for fear of losing himself. For fear of--

Clutching his psy-staff tightly, Zayin nearly fell as he braced himself, their warp traveling underway. He prayed silently, prayers he hadn't heard since he was a child, prayers he could hear clearly as he realized he was practically screaming the words. He got a grip on himself, or as much of a grip he could conceivably attain, and his voice moved down several decibel levels.

It seemed only a moment had passed since he had been praying when he suddenly did fall, his eyes flinging open just in time to catch himself before slamming his head into one of the healing creches. He cursed loudly and rolled along the deck floor, vertigo holding him firmly down.

Suddenly he screamed, screeching in fear as the windows began to open. Fearing he was going to see the warp, he threw an empty healing casket between himself and the window with his psyker ability, in a vain attempt to prevent his soul from being burned to cinders.

But nothing happened. The voices were gone, and the world was suddenly... well, upright, at any rate. He dropped the healing casket and pushed it noisily across the floor with his mind, settling it somewhat back into place. Standing up, he weakly worked his way closer to the view port to see the massive man-made celestial body: a Space Hulk.

"In the name of the Emperor..." he whispered, crossing himself in the sign of the aquila as he did.

"What the frack-- where the frack are we?! What the frack is that?!" He turned angrily to a servitor and demanded immediate contact to the bridge, demanding it relay his questions verbatim.
 
V

Vay

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Severus shook in his restraints as even in the near darkness of a sedated mind he knew where they were, but in the warp you never knew where you were going, you could only pray. But prayer was not in his drugged mind, though his lips moved it was out of routine, an old habit ingrained in him from years of indoctrination, his eye open yet unmoving. It was only when he slumped sideways from the shift in gravity that he came awake. And yet he though he was still trapped in dream. There down the sloping deck and out the still opening windows a multi-coloured blur hung in space. As his vision sharpened the hulk came into view and it was then that the ancient machine chose to release him and he slid halfway to the floor before he caught himself and stood.

"Perhaps the omnisiah has brought us luck, but weather good or bad....."he left the quietly voiced sentence unfinished.
 
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Karsikan the Berzerker

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Alarius noted the shift in the gravity and his absurd agility instantly compensated for it. He decided that it was best to make himself known, whatever this was he could not operate in secrecy to his would be allies. He rushed to where the records stated Vates quarters were, brushing past the scurrying crew he arrived at the arbitrator's room the decided better of himself and sprinted to the bridge, an assassin revealing himself in your private quarters, how was that supposed to appear less than menacing. Even if he was wearing his habit.
 
D

Darkness

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Julius had closed his eyes during the travel through the Warp, he’d never liked to see space, the vastness, and the dangers so much larger and more dangerous than any gun he could lift with two hands made him insecure, he had only seen tyranids once, from the distance, and still he couldn’t help but feel defenseless against machines that were born to destroy everything in their path.

But maybe he wasn’t thinking positively enough because of the anesthesia, and lack of action tended to make him think too much, and what filled his thoughts wasn’t helpful to the mission, but he couldn’t avoid remembering what happened to men after they were infected by chaos, or to the ships that risked everything for a faster way home.

Then it stopped, he heard the spirits of the machinery that would never cease to unnerve him lower their hums and moans, he sighed in relief, however, he could only hope that the travel had been successful in all objectives, and that was the only thing he could do, hope until they saw home, and then again hope that he would keep his job.

The Guardsman opened his eyes, he didn’t like to be too far away from actual ground, but he’d been through much worse in the ground than in space. He got out of his seat, and he joined the other Acolytes on the floor of the ship, he fell on his bionic arm, gripping the handle of the seat with too much force, and bending it slightly down. He stood there, his mouth inches open, his eyes set into the Hulk, and the fact that they would probably have crashed into it did not help his confidence with ships.

“I hope that ship’s trouble is the engines…”

The feeling that something was wrong was in him, but then again, as an Acolyte, something always went wrong.
 

Asmodeus

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On the bridge of the Elsinore, one might have thought the warp had leaked inside, such was the chaos within the ornate chamber. Those who could move were running back and forth with orders, while those fused to their chairs simply babbled their reports, faces lit by the eldritch glow of their consoles. In the centre of the cavernous room, a preacher of the Ecclesiarchy was giving a warding sermon and directing his servants to purify the room with censers. And up on the command platform, the Captain was in heated debate with the Acolytes.

"Captain, is it true?" asked Arbitrator Vates, "Jericus tells me the warp-engine is dead... that the spirit within it has fallen silent..."

The Elsinore Captain was well over seven-foot tall, grown think and lanky from a life of low gravity. His hands were clasped behind his back as he looked down at the Arbitrator through his bionic shades. He seemed to be the only one remaining calm on the bridge, and his mechanical voice betrayed no sense of panic.

"You pry too much into our affairs, Acolyte. And I do not have time to answer your questions. You are confined to quarters."

"That is not in your remit." Vates stepped closer, standing at the head of his team, who were variously slouched against the railings of the command platform. "Until you deliver us back to the Sheol Moonbase you are bound under the obligations of the Inquisitorial Summons. That includes full liaison on all matters relating to the Evertore."

Behind the captain, a pair of servo-skulls were hastily working through a stack of papers, scrutinising the Administratum paperwork that the Inquisition had sent them. Almost a hundred pages of bureaucracy written in High Imperial Gothic, and even the machines were struggling to work out the details of the Elsinore's obligation to the Inqusition.

"This is nothing to do with the Evertore," the captain replied as he pushed past the Arbitrator and waved a slender hand to direct a pair of maintenance-servitors.

"I beg to differ, Captain," Vates answered, doing his best to maintain decorum. "The Acherade was a Chartist vessel and it would only be this far from the Stygian halo-routes for one reason."

"And what reason is that, Arbitrator?"

"The Mendicant Order," said Commissar Pius, stepping forward to back Vates up. "The people of Cloister relied on charity from rogue traders and missionaries. That ship out there must have passed through the Cloister system recently."

"And what if it did?"

"Then the Acherade could be the ship the Evertore left on."

"The Acherade is a hulk. We shall alert a salvage team at Sheol once our warp-core is repai..."

"It's not going to be repaired!" Vates interrupted sharply, causing the captain to turn. "Whatever killed your machine-spirit is the same thing that's stranded the Acherade." The Arbitrator pointed through the window to the drifting hulk off the starboard side. "The answers lie on that spacehulk, and as servants of the Inquisition it is our duty to seek those answers out."

Some of the bridge crew were staring now, perplexed by the unsettling silence on the command deck. The towering officer returned the stares of the Acolytes then peered past them at the servo-skulls. One of the winged skulls finished its research of the Inquisitorial statutes and drifted over to him with a freshly written sheet of parchment. The Captain read the findings and then lowered the parchment, his face betraying no emotion.

Looking back at the Acolytes, his cybernetic voice rasped, "We shall deploy a docking claw. You have four hours. And then we are leaving, with or without you."


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S

Slyen

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Pius had spent more time than the others in the healing throne, resisting the urge to emerge and join in the argument with the Lieutantant. While they were in the warp he rested, toning out all but the low hum of power being fed to the machine. Then they dropped back into real space and chaos seemed to follow.

The trip should have taken days and yet it felt much less than that as he emerged from the machine. Perhaps they found an alternate and faster route he thought, or perhaps something worse. The panic was all around him and it only took looking out of a view part to see why.

He felt a shiver go down his spine when he read the name on the prow of the hulk. Something didn't seem right and he didn't feel like sitting back would solve anything. He then made his way in the direction of the bridge, if anyone would have answers he would find it there. He stopped short though, right outside the doors as he heard voices.

"We shall deploy a docking claw. You have four hours. And then we are leaving, with or without you." He heard a mechanical voice say before heading in right afterward. Looking towards Vates and the Captain he spoke up, "I supose I should go inform the others we are going to be taking a little trip, can we at least get access to the ship's armory?"
 
T

Tain

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Garen lingered nearby, looking on the conversation while partaking in his trademark silence. He was quietly impressed with their team leader Vates, who was keeping his cool in the face of the infamous bureaucratic bulwark that stood between every 'special' operations group and their duty.

He had been on the Elsinore during the last sortie, coordinating logistics for their next mission after striking a repertoire with the supply officer... but more importantly, keeping an eye on the psyker under hush-hush orders to make sure he didn't go batshit. Purely precautionary, and hopefully completely unnoticed. He simply had to stand there and watch while the tattooed man went through an experience some describe as equivocal to having a rose bush drug through your nose.

Had he been in Vates' position, he was not sure how he would have handled it. Offered the captain a full course meal, perhaps. Or shook the man's hand hard enough to ruin it permanently. Despite their leader's diplomatic efforts, however, bureaucracy seemed to take the upper hand slightly.

"We shall deploy a docking claw. You have four hours. And then we are leaving, with or without you."

Garen turned to glance at the rest of the present company upon hearing this. His gasmask failed to convey the appropriate emotions he was experiencing, however. Helpfully, his voice came low from the emitter set within the skull of his mask.

"... If he's not here after four hours, I will find him, and I will turn his arse inside out."
 
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Seiji

Guest
"Leave without us and you won't even need to worry about the Inquisition; you'll have a big, pissed off ME," Zayin said angrily. He hated politicking. It was nothing more than passive-aggressive bitching, or constantly reminding the other person that your stick was bigger than theirs. Or bigger looking. Zayin was of the mind-set that, instead of showing someone you had a big stick, just go ahead and use it to shatter their bottom jaw.

He spun on his heel, whipping his armoured greatcoat out behind him and kept his Psy-staff perpindicular to the floor. "Take all the time you're willing to waste in that fracking armoury of yours," Zayin said with a grin. He was getting himself excited. "I got all I need right here." He slapped the bottom of his Psy-staff hard against the floor, receiving a sharp, loud note in return.

And here
, he thought, thinking of the hellpistol he had holstered underneath his coat. As much as he might have trusted his psychic abilities, nothing beat a good gun at your side.

"We're all in on this one, right, Vates? Kind-of goes without sayin', I think. After that last debacle, ain't no fracking way you're leavin' me behind again. Find somethin' on that dead piece of shit or not, I'm tearing something in half."
 

Asmodeus

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The towering captain glanced over his shoulder at the Acolytes, then went back to watching the helm.

It was all the answer that was needed. The armoury would be opened... one last time.

"The Inquisition thanks you, Captain." Vates bowed low at the captain's back then turned to his Acolytes, gathering with them on the edge of the command platform. The candlelight of the bridge sent shadows flickering across his burn-scarred face.

"Providence smiles on us. We may have our redemption here." He was holding his power maul, pressing it compulsively into the palm of his other hand, almost drawing blood. "The Evertore may be on that ship and we have four hours to find him. Get whatever weapons you need and meet me at the docking claw."
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D

Darkness

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Julius passed a hand through his scruffy cheeks, now aware that he didn’t have feeling in most of his fingers now, if things went this way soon enough he’d be more machine than man, and he’d have to ask Caine about joining the Adeptus Mechanicus.

He walked along the other acolytes to the armory of the ship, some of them made idle chatter and while he would have done so otherwise, the walls of the ship were starting to feel closer to him than before and the Hulk a whole lot bigger. Not to say that he still needed to get used to his brand new bionic extremities, and hoped that the metal in them could repel the weapons of Chaos, at least so paying for the replacements wasn’t something on his mind.

Julius felt a lot safer once they entered the armory, the more weapons around, the less chances the enemy had of reaching you, or something along those lines was what his Lieutenant told him. The weapons and ordnance on the racks and tables made him think of all the possibilities, not only of ways of fighting, but of what they would face, in the case that Vates was right, and he usually was, to the Guardsman’s chagrin.

He picked up several Inferno shells, not really aware of how many he grabbed, but he filled up his ammunition belt nicely, and put the remains in a pouch on his pants, and in the end he stocked up on fragmentary grenades, getting seven of them and three more blinding grenades. He still felt insecure, like he needed more firepower, but he preferred to be able to run faster, last time he wasn’t fast enough he lost his arm, and so he left his equipment that way.

”We should hurry up, the Captain’s probably already counting down those four hours.”

He checked his sights on both guns, and left for the docking claw, trying to take his mind away from what could just be their last mission, as it always could be.
 
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Seiji

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Despite his display of bravado earlier on the bridge, Zayin did make an effort to equip himself for the mission ahead. He took an ammunition bandoleer and stuffed it full of spare hellpistol magazines, found a stock Guardsman equipment belt that he filled with standard kit, and he procured a demolition satchel on top of another bag that he filled with several grenades, the type of which he wasn't too picky about.

"Anyone have an auspex?" He asked loudly and to no one in particular. He felt that they would need one, but he'd be damned if he could find one in here, let alone the whole ship. It was fancy technology.

Not bothering to wait for an answer, he picked his Psy-staff up from where he had propped it just a moment earlier and left the armory. Reaching underneath his flak trench coat, he whipped out a few cards: Emperor's Tarot. He mindlessly twirled them in his hand as he made his way to the docking claw.
 
K

Karsikan the Berzerker

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Alarius held his Wrackblade while casually leaning up against the bulkhead, his thoughts wandered, Having grown up as a noble he knew all to well the game the Captain was playing, but to him it seemed like cowardice, or worse, A lack of faith, his thoughts drifted for a moment, back to his hell of a noble house, the corruption, the hatred, he saw red and it took all his willpower do stay the blade in his hand. He hated bureaucracy almost as much as he hated Chaos, for most of his life those two terms were not so dissimilar. he turned curtly and left the room, his mind screaming in hate.

Alarius after perusing the ships stockpile of weapons like a finicky costumer finally settled on some additional ammo clips for his auto-pistol, a Flamer with 2 extra promethium tanks. a silencer for his auto-pistol and a few blind grenades for crowd control. a pair of IR goggles and lastly a set of filtration plugs. he even dug up a melta bomb or two buried somewhere in the weapon racks, doubtful that it would be a good idea to use them on a space hulk like that, he took them anyway, same premise as a condom he figured.

He happens to take particular note of certain items the Ship's armory is lacking, in his mind at least. a suggestion he plans to make to the inquisitor when next he gets the chance, a ship can never be too prepared for anything.

After a great though silent fuss he settles on his final carrying methods for his equipment, grenades across the chest and thighs, pistol and ammo under his armpits, though careful not to restrict his movements, wrackblade at the shoulder, grip toward the ground, and flamer diagonal across his back, with the spare canisters across his back at the belt.

The entire time one could almost say he seemed happy, sure he felt the risk that they were all taking so would anyone but couldn't help but be almost cheerful at the second chance the emperor had given them destroy The Evertore, and so help him he would fulfill his duty if it cost him his life.
 
V

Vay

Guest
Severus was from a hive world, tolerating bureaucracy was second nature but when it stood between him and the job at hand he found it extremely taxing. As the Captain spoke he turned his knife over in his hands. They were all the same, those that hid behind paper, killing the Evertore was more important than all the bureaucracy in the Imperium.

He found himself imagining the Captains head at seen through his scope, but stopped himself as the others left for the armoury. Palming his knife and slipping it into its sheath, and giving the captain and with machines a cold look that was lost under the bodyglove and left the room.

Severus knew what he wanted from the ship's stores. He waled strait up to one of the equipment tables and took a laser sight, drawing his auto stub pistol he slid the sight onto the weapon and made a few adjustments. Next was a new holster to accommodate the modified pistol his old one he discarded. Into a hip bag he put clips for both his longlase and pistol and clipped a few melta and blind grenades. Corridors meant good sniping, corners did not. He had also put an inquisitorial tabard over the torso of his torn and patched bodyglove.

Once he was done he left quickly and without a word, four hours was not long enough to search a ship of that size so they needed to get on there as fast as possible.
 
T

Tain

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Garen waited patiently for the rest of the team in the foyer of the docking claw, just before the secondary airlock. He hadn't gone for broke with his equipment selection, choosing instead to place his trust in his venerable Hellgun. He did replace the Hellgun's standard charge pack with a Type XVII High-Efficiency Storage Pack, and stowed his axe in his footlocker in favor of a Mk XF Chainsword. But much like others in the squad, he wanted to be free to move if needs be. He pocketed a few more clips for the laspistol despite this. Paranoia and expecting the worst had never been a mentality for disappointment, in his experience.

He was running through some rudimentary maintenance checks on the Hellgun to ensure functionality when the rest of the group began to show. The checks were completely unnecessary. He had ran through the process a dozen times already; a throwback to his time as a storm trooper for the Death Korps. It was more idle fidgeting than anything, a replacement for Iho-sticks for someone who didn't have regular access to their mouth without de-masking, which Garen still refused to do.

He looked up wordlessly for a moment, hands still shifting over the body of his Hellgun almost autonomously as he finished a final functions test sequence. Sometimes the skull motif of his mask seemed to betray what he was thinking more than facial expressions ever could. His voice didn't quaver, and betrayed no sarcasm as it echoed in the hollow foyer of the docking claw.

"Who wants to take bets on who gets porked first? We'll have to start a pot or something. That way we can still collect from them even if they're dead."

He paused, then added with some amusement in his tone. "Unless we all die. But then it won't matter."