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Perfect Warriors

Discussion in 'Role Playing' started by Colapse, Jun 22, 2018.

  1. Imperius matt23 Curator

    Arnock looked to Sidon and he felt a since of pride overtake his body. Not for himself, but the shear stubbornness of such a warrior to endure all the wounds he had, and still come out with a commanding presence. Pride in the Third was a hard thing to come by as of late, but it was a welcomed feeling nonetheless. Listening to his commands were all the more inspiring as well.

    Arnock slammed his fist to his chest as he looked to Sidon, "So said, so shall it be. I shall not return to this place until I have scoured every planet within the sector. Any where the traitors appear against the loyal, so too shall I be there to crush his head under heel. In this darkest hour, we shall be a beacon to which the loyal shall gather." Arnock then looked to the rest in the room, giving a proud nod to each of them, before he spoke, "Remember the fallen. Answer their cries for vengeance. And never yield in the face of treachery, even if it costs your life." With his final words said, Arnock turned from the council and left to begin preparation for his new mission. This mission was the one that would allow him to once more grace the service of Terra. To defend her from being defiled by the twisted sons of traitors. As daunting as the task was, deep down within his body, Arnock felt reassurance. Almost as if this had been the course to which his life was destined to take. The only thing left was to find out what was waiting for him at the end.
  2. Brother_Draconion Draconion Well-Known Member

    From the Private Journals of Vitaly Sokolovsky, Entry #671, dated 675.007.M31

    By this point in my life, half my material being is metal, plastic, and exotic composites - supposedly immune to fatigue (contingent on 10,000 use-hour diagnostics and maintenance). The other half is posthuman flesh, supposedly engineered beyond human failings by the most brilliant mind ever produced by humanity.

    Yet, I am weary, weary in a way that has nothing to do with fatigue toxin accumulation or operating wear. For lack of a better word - and at the risk of apparently admitting to superstition - I am weary in my spirit. The burdens of this war sit ill with me. During the Unity Wars and the Great Crusade that followed, the enemy was clear, the mission was clear. The rules were clear. A fighting man could endure any danger, any hardship, and close his eyes, going to either rest or grave with a clear conscience, knowing his duty had been done with due diligence. This war is different, for it is a war of fratricide, that began with an act of basest perfidy, and continues to be defined by betrayal, conspiracy, ethical compromise and far too many moral grey areas frankly none of us were ever prepared to adequately address.

    None of us have clean hands anymore in this war, and we are faced with the choice of clinging to the principles we knew and losing it utterly, or winning by any means (often the foulest) necessary, and losing ourselves in the process. I have taken more than one oath - public and private - to help win this war for the Emperor or die trying, and I intend to deliver on my promises. Yet, not for the first time do I wish I could wake up from all of this to find it all a fever-dream, and go back to making the galaxy a better place for all humanity, like we did when we were younger and more innocent.

    Composite Mission Footage, Interdiction - IVth Legion Supply Convoy #832-Epsilon, dated 677.007.M31

    +++Scroll to End-minus-15, Mop-Up segment.+++

    +++Compliance. Segment reached, playback initiated.+++

    [Dimly red-lit darkness, punctuated by gun flashes and silhouettes of men fighting. The sounds of combat echo in what sounds like a vast space occupied by pounding machinery that quickly idles to a low purr. The sounds of combat stop, and the low noise of helmet vox-clicks can be heard.]

    Sokolovsky, Forgemaster: Forgemaster to all points - enginarium is secure. All boarding teams report status.

    Alcibiades, Captain: Bridge team here - mopping up the last of the mortal resistance. Astartes opfor - four dead, three in custody.

    Yezdigerd, Lieutenant: Hangars are secure. No one is going anywhere.

    Theron, Sergeant: Gunnery Control Primus, secure.

    Eumenes, Sergeant: Security Command, secure.

    Sokolovsky, Forgemaster: All groups save for Bridge, commence sanitisation followed by immediate resource reclamation. We will extract on the clock, so make the most of your time. Bridge, hold position - I am coming to you. Separate key appointment-holding POWs pursuant to interrogation.

    [From across the ship, the sounds of gunfire and melee weapons intermingle with curses, pleas for mercy and death cries and gurgles as executions begin. Blood splatter paints the lenses of several security cameras.]

    [Some time later, in a brig cell, the corpse of an Iron Warrior slumps to the deck. Its cranial cavity has been broken open, emptied of its contents. Blood runs into a drain in the middle of the floor.]

    Alcibiades, Captain: So, he proved resistant to the end.

    Sokolovsky, Forgemaster: And it mattered not. I have the information we need, including current cyphers and fleet timetables. Now to hide our tracks. Signal all teams to prepare for extraction.

    Alcibiades, Captain: As you order, Forgemaster.

    [Six Iron Warrior vessels - four cargo haulers and two escorts of medium tonnage - tumble through the void, thoroughly-gutted by salvage teams and left adrift. Yet, not all life is lost to them. As though to a prearranged signal - or upon a timer - still-functional warp drives sputter and flare to life, opening portals to the ominous other realm of pure potential and utter madness. The gossamer flicker of Gellar fields is notably absent in every instant, and the swirling madness of the warp breaches reaches out to drag the doomed vessels and their murdered occupants into the Empyrean, there to be forever lost, adrift on tides of insanity.]

    The Christening

    Vitaly watches from an overhead observation gantry in the main vehicle service bay of the Sovereign as maintenance robots and servitors put the finishing touches on the reappropriated (as he likes to think of it) Stormlord, now repaired, refurbished and heavily modified. Where the stubby pinwheel barrels of the mega-bolter glowered pugnaciously from a blocky, brutalist turret, now the smooth, prism-tipped barrels of an enhanced turbolaser reach gracefully from a domed turret - a perfect hemisphere of laminated armour printed onto a geodesic frame under vacuum and micro-G conditions. The vented muzzle brakes of his signature V.O.T.E.C. weapons peek from both sponsons, as well as a trio of ordnance-class versions adorning new casements in the forward hull, covering the vehicle's forward 120-degree arc. The sponson-top lascannons remain, but the exhaust stacks are gone - a testament to the new twin-core stellarator that now powers the vehicle's systems. Vitaly's eyes drift to the aft of the vehicle, where the passenger bay had once been. Externally, little has changed, save for the fine seams indicating a set of interlocking bay doors that open to the sky over the drone berth that has been installed in its place.

    As he watches, the workers put a new paintjob on the tank. Every plate is painted a light-drinking matte-black - Raven Guard black, as some wags like to call it - with labels in an osseous white - bone white, according to those same wags. A commotion at the secondary aft entrance draws his eye. An Astartes prisoner has been brought from the brig, and is even now struggling against his guards' clutch while venting a nonstop stream of snide, mocking commentary.

    "It really is so refreshing how busy, how earnest you all are about this. Almost as though you think you actually have a chance at winning. It's adorable, really. It's going to be even more adorable when the Warmaster finally catches you and shows you just how futile it all is...but don't stop on my account! I do so love it when the prey struggles."

    With a brief flex of will through the MIU, Vitaly floats over the gantry railing and down to the workshop floor to stand before the prisoner, who cracks an ophidian smile and runs a pointed tongue over sharpened teeth, his mouth entirely too wide to be normal.

    "Vitaly! I thought this had your signature scrawled all over it. All this earnestness, like a child seeking to please his father."

    "Neron. I see your time in our hospitality has failed to teach you introspection. Expected. You always were a vacuous and superficial sort."

    The prisoner's trilling laugh resounds over the machine noise of the workshop, gaping, scarred holes at either side of his neck betraying Jendon's none-too-gentle ministrations to remove the bio-weapons grafted by his once-mentor for study. Neron's voice still retains an unpleasant stereophonic discordance, however, grating on the nerves like nails across a blackboard. But it no longer causes flesh to rupture and bleed like it had when they had captured him in a raid on a Traitor IIIrd Legion convoy.

    "Oh, Vitaly. Always so earnest, so serious, so eager to please...whom, really? Father? Our Father? He no longer needs pleasing - though he could teach you so much about it - for he has all the pleasure in the universe at his fingertips. No, I suspect you still long to please that other father, your adoptive one - the grim, joyless and thoroughly sad one, who wouldn't know fun if it shot him in the knee. Who, it must be said, stands on the same side of things as our true Father. You must be so confli-"

    The sound of Vitaly's servo-arm cracking across Neron's mouth like a striking snake echoes like a whipcrack across the metal walls. Neron's lower jaw hangs, limp and misshapen from the impact, no longer able to form words, though he still quakes with mocking laughter, despite the bloody tears starting from his eyes.

    "You mistake me for someone interested in conversation," says Vitaly, augmetic fingers grasping a handful of Neron's tangled white hair and dragging him unceremoniously towards the tank, "I have another use entirely in mind for you."

    By now, about thirty Astartes are gathered before the tank - a mixture of Techmarines and commanders from various sub-units invited to witness the christening of the Millennial's latest acquisition. Vitaly had not been ignorant to the recent mood of the Millennial. They had been wounded on Ios, bloodied, and then hunted across void by their enemies, surviving by the skin of their teeth. They were frustrated, angry, and wanted to fight back, to turn the tables, to hurt the enemy.

    He would boost their morale, fire their bloodlust, and remind them the enemy was as mortal as they were by giving them a foretaste of that.

    "Brothers and fellow servants of the Throne. I welcome you to the christening of the latest addition to our vehicle pool. As you know, we won this spoil from the Traitors on Ios, though not without cost - four speeders and eight brothers, skilled pilots and seasoned warriors all were lost to gain us this prize, to say nothing of all the other brothers that fell that day. The enemy owes us a debt of blood, and we will claim it with interest, one drop at a time."

    Neron, meanwhile, is doubled over, shuddering with wordless laughter at Vitaly's words, even as bloody drool oozes from his slack lips to pool on the floor.

    "In normal circumstances, we would break a bottle of wine upon the hull of this worthy machine as we give it its new name. Being as we can no longer spare such indulgences, I have chosen a vintage more appropriate to the times we face."

    At these words, Neron ceases his laughter and glances about in amused confusion, before turning to Vitaly with a shrug, as though to say, "Where's the wine?"

    With a sudden, violent exertion of machine-strength - the same strength that singlehandedly kept his assignment from Perturabo from falling into ruin upon Nikaea - Vitaly slams Neron's face into the frontal glacis of the Stormlord, causing the armour to ring like a bell as a bloody splatter erupts across the fresh paintwork.

    "Machine! I call you to service!"

    Neron's eyes roll in his skull, his brains scrambled by the impact, as Vitaly hauls him back from tank and then cannons him straight back with another resounding clang.

    "Machine! I call you to war!"

    Vitaly punctuates each line of the litany of christening with a brutal smash of Neron's face into the hull, until the Traitor Emperor's Child hangs limp in his grasp and his skull begins to emit crunching sounds as posthuman bone begins to crack and then fragment under the repeated, violent impacts.

    "Yours is to safeguard the brothers of the True Legion!"

    "Yours is to uphold the rule of the Emperor!"

    "Yours is to slay the traitor, to tear down his works, to punish his crimes wherever he may be found!"

    This penultimate line is punctuated by three smashes in rapid succession that actually cause Neron's skull to crack like an egg and begin leaking its contents over the hull. A moment of inspiration takes Vitaly as he chambers for a final, triumphant smash against the tank's plating.

    "Machine - I name thee Punisher, and consecrate thee to service forevermore in the Blessed Emperor's name!"

    Dropping Neron's twitching corpse at his feet, Vitaly steps to one side to allow the servitors and robots to do their work. Some move to clean up the excess blood spillage, while others being lacquering the main stain to the armour as a battle honour of first enemy blood spilled, and a promise of more to come. Yet others come to finish painting the tank's personal livery in osseous white.

    Meanwhile, messing servitors move amongst the crowd of invited spectators, distributing glasses of carefully-hoarded wine from Vitaly's own secret stores. Vitaly pauses to mingle with his brothers, many of whom are due to accompany him and Jendon to Task Force Minteril, and they discuss the campaign ahead of them soberly, yet with some degree of grim hope.

    At length, when the gathering disperses and everyone returns to their work, Vitaly turns about to glance back at the Punisher. A faint frown begins to crease his face as he sees the stylised skull logo painted upon the flanks and central glacis. For some reason - perhaps an error in the paint mix, or an unforeseen interaction with the weather and chemproof layers of the main coat - the designs all ran and dripped downward, giving the skull a strangely elongated and half-melted aspect. Yet, as he inspects the design at length, he finds it strangely appropriate, and gives his approval for it to be lacquered on and made permanent.
  3. Jorimel Jorimel Well-Known Member

    As Aleph heard the words of his once-Sergeant Sidon rasp out, he felt a surge of pride touched by the melancholia of the realisation that it was all so long ago. It seemed as ancient as the sands of Chemos itself, that first time he had assembled with his Squad to purge the enemies of the Emperor. But - even without Astartes recall - Legionary Aster felt that he would have remembered it. Some things were as much a part of him as his bones. He was Alephoros Aster, of Fourth Squad, even as he was now Legionary-Captain Aleph, Palatine Exemplar, last survivor and first teacher of the Palatine Blades.

    Other memories waited, dark wings embracing his mind as he remembered the flickering lightshow of weapons fire and distant lightning. How in the darkness, gaunt, tattered, a King in rags despite his master-crafted armour, the Night Haunter waited to take his dreams. Aleph remembered his words, though even now he did not know if they were a threat or a bleak warning. Sometimes it seemed as if Curze knew, knew all of this, all of this and more to come. A threadbare soul flensed by visions, burdened by too much foreknowledge to ever truly dwell in the here and now.

    Aleph had learned. He had studied the ways of the Eighth with the fervour common to all of Fulgrim's sons. But when he had taken in the secrets of the Night Lords and their ways, he had refused to allow the desert sun to be eclipsed by night's shadow.

    I have come to learn how you fight, Luc, not become you.
    The sentence had sat between them, poised like a knife's edge in a dirty alley until Lucoryphus had smiled, then cawed out his raucous laughter, baring teeth that were, even then, too numerous and too sharp.

    Other eyes were on him then, as his hands tightened around the hilts of his blades, unalike twins each sharing the same thirst for vengeance and true justice. Vitaly requested that he join him. Whether he reached out to a Brother as well as to an asset, others might doubt, but Aleph knew. But it was not to be.

    "... the mission I have in mind for our Palatine Exemplar is his and his alone."

    "It will require a certain degree of cold fury and swift vengeance with clear objective, so I don't want for its purpose to be cast aside by pure hatred. If he wants," Sidon looked at Aleph now, "He can bring his Blades with him, but that briefing is for the two of us only. At this moment at least." The old soldier finished, looking at Aleph to seal the moment and acknowledge his words.

    "I will do as I am commanded." Aleph drew himself up - which hurt, but the pain was nothing to the half-obliterated shell that Sidon now wore. "Not only this. But it will be my pleasure and my cold purpose to bring justice to the betrayers in ways that they do not suspect and cannot imagine. When there is darkness, I will be there. Where there are shadows, I will find them. When the light of the Emperor is at its dimmest, in their hearts, there will my blades be also." He bowed, formal and proud.

    "I am Legionary Alephoros Aster and as this is my oath of moment, I so swear."

    "Camille, Cautorious. Kenjiro. I will come for you."



    I am a Brother to Dragons, and a Companion to Owls

    In the days after the briefing, Aleph had much work to do. Almost - yet not quite, for it would make no sense to take a battered blade into a fight - he ignored the sutures and bandages of the Apothecaries' trade, and busied himself sparring and training with his students as far as he was able. He set aside time to speak with Brona and ask if he would be prepared to follow him down the dark paths of hunting out their former brightest and best. And finally, when he was compelled to leave work and no longer permitted to keep his wounded Brother Extrovious company, he retreated to his chamber and brought out his case.

    In this portfolio lay his history, and that of the Third Legion. His portrait of the Phoenician, as he had appeared to his sons in the Apothecarion at Istvaan. The noblest of figures who had knighted him, kneeling, as a Palatine Blade. The contemplative studies of his fellow Squad and the less reverent sketches from their time in the Clubhouse. His first, cheerful portrait of the Squad as a whole, lined up in cheerful, laddish camaraderie. And, wrapped in felt, the dark portrait of the last father to let him down. Death at the Masquerade. The tear within the jester's eye. Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter.

    He took out parchment and paper, and wrote. An explanation to whomever might find his work and become his heir. A plea to the historian. A warning to the curious.

    These are my historical records of those with whom I served, and those whom I once called Brother who have failed me. Those who have rejected the Emperor's Light lie here, among the loyal, among the smothered innocence, among the dead. Do not destroy these works. I ask you that. For in here you shall find accurate representations of those whom we now fight, portraits replete with the answers only Art can give. Look upon the traitors numbered here. Study them. See what horrors corruption brings, even to those we once called noble men. Learn, and in so learning, be warned.


    He signed the work, sealed it and went to see if Brona might be found. He needed to talk to him, and then to Sidon.

    Only the painting of Akurduana, shining like the last ember of the phoenix's fire, remained in its place on his chamber wall. An icon for the secular, an inspiration when there seemed no more air to breathe.
  4. Brother_Draconion Draconion Well-Known Member

    The Parting

    Date: 750.007.M31

    Time: 1645hrs, shipboard time

    Location: The Sovereign, Main Hangar B

    Vitaly stands atop an overhead gantry, overseeing the transfer of stores to Minteril's squadron. The core of his personal workspace - his favoured tools and facilities - had already been packed up and setup sometime back. Today was the transfer of the vehicle pool and the expendable stores - fuel, ammunition, spares, and a hundred other precious items in eternally short supply - for the guerilla operation to harrass and degrade the enemy's rear lines. The Forgemaster watches with a cold, critical eye as the Punisher is manoeuvered on grav pallettes into position for the docking clamps of a Thunderhawk transporter. To accommodate the vastly reduced storage space in Minteril's squadron, the mighty superheavy had been taken down into storage configuration, its secondary weapons and other external components stripped and packed into internal storage. The twin barrels of the primary weapon had likewise been removed, packed into impact-proof casings, bolted and strapped lengthwise to the hull for maximum space conservation. A curious choice of vehicle for lightning strike-and-fade operations, but the Millennial had Vitaly's foresight to thank for their expanded air wing - still overstrength despite lengthy attrition - which allowed for significant rapid transport capability. The Punisher could be setup in a hangar bay within minutes by highly-trained technical crews and specialised servitors - of which there was currently no shortage, thanks to Vitaly's propaganda ops - and then hot-dropped into combat to bring massive pressure to bear upon mission-critical points, before being relocated the same way. Used properly, the system was an unlikely but immensely powerful asset to a guerrilla force, capable of upsetting the tactical balance of power in a way no traditional light raiding force could.

    Rasping a few curt instructions to the cowering logistics crews to tighten up on loading safety protocols and underscoring his point with thinly-veiled promises of severe punishment, he turns away, his mind already on another objective. Spotting a figure in ornate armour six berths down, he levitates over the railing and floats through the air in the direction of the Palatine Blade contingent preparing for its own departure. @Jorimel

    "Aleph. Brother."

    Vitaly's emotionless rasp, as always, erases all nuance from his speech. In this case, it hides well the turmoil he represses deep inside. Once, Aleph and he had shared a special bond, even within the close-knit squad of novitiates they had once been. They had both been artists of a kind, and starry-eyed idealists, at that. Even their long sojourns with two of the grimmest Legions had not only failed to dim their idealism, but strengthened it, tempering it to maturity in the fires of adversity. Their shared creativity and desire to work to the good of all had been a moral anchor through even the grimmest days of the Great Crusade.

    Now...there had been no falling-out between them. Good-natured Aleph had never given him cause for suspicion or resentment, nor - he hoped - had he given Aleph reason for the same. But duty had simply caused them to drift apart - they had almost no opportunity nor reason to speak outside of curt communications in the heat of battle. And now, they were each going their separate ways into the dark, to hunt the most dangerous of prey, a task more than likely to end in death, alone and unmarked in some obscure place.

    Vitaly was damned if he would let his brother go into those shadows without at least one token of the brotherhood they had shared...still shared, he hoped. He had once been as human as they had come - capable of love, laughter, joy, anger, and all the shades of emotional nuance in between. Now, he stood irrevocably changed by betrayal and the filthiest of wars. Shorn of all human nuance as a defence against the horrors he had seen - and stood to see far more of - he could only express himself in the language of the material world. Of things that could be quantified by formulae, graphs, and charts. Of things that could be beheld by the eye, held in the hand. Of the tangible, the solid, the permanent. And so he had poured every ounce of his regard for Aleph into crafting this gift - what may well be his last - holding nothing back.

    Holding up an equipment case of a size as might contain a pistol, he opens it to reveal an armour gauntlet. Crafted in a similar style to his own artificered armour, it encompasses multiple overlapping articulated plates to maximise both protection and dexterity without compromising either. Aside from the obviously masterful craftsmanship, the piece is simple and minimalistic, the streamlined design and smooth fit of the components giving it an insectile, alien appearance. Protruding only slightly from the knuckle plate are a trio of compact beam emitters, such as might be seen on thermal ray weapons. The gauntlet itself is only slightly bulkier than a standard power armour gauntlet, indicating the built-in weaponry. As for aesthetics, it has already been painted to match the Palatine purples and golds in hard-wearing chem and rad-resistant paint usually rated for heavy armour, with the additional hard sheen of reinforcing resins over the top.

    "Given your role and fighting style, I have noted on multiple occasions your potential vulnerability to massed small arms fire and heavy armour. As such, I constructed this weapon to aid you in your duties. It is a thermoenergetic weapon that combines the functionality of both a melta and volkite weapon, rated pistol-class, but with significantly higher output than standard pistols. You can switch between modes via Black Carapace controls. I have included a user's manual hardcoded into the firmware, and your attending Techmarines have also been thoroughly trained in its maintenance. Usage is meant to be intuitive, however, so you should not find too much of a learning curve. Also, it includes a ray shield generator that, when activated, will give you the equivalent of a combat shield, though it will inactivate the ranged weaponry until deactivated. The construction is also ruggedised to higher tolerances than standard Legion armour, but even so, I do not recommend deliberately subjecting it to radical impacts...though, if needs must, it should shield or bludgeon well, but that is hardly the best use of it. May it serve you well."
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  5. Jorimel Jorimel Well-Known Member

    Aleph had not witnessed the baptism of Punisher, though he had heard all about it on the wildfire gossip that had spread between all decks. He could not summon up any sympathy or pity for the one who'd provided the blood tithe, for he was a traitor twice over in Alephoros' mind - once to the Emperor, and once to the Emperor's Children. Like so many, Neron had gleefully taken on the yoke of the Ruinous Powers in the mistaken belief that slavery to a new master was the same as freedom. It disgusted him still, on a deep level, but it no longer surprised him as it once had. No concern for Neron. No love lost there.

    That was not to say that he was free of concern.

    Brother Sokolovsky had been a constant in Aleph's life for almost as long as he could remember. He had always been a joker, and the squad morale had been lifted countless times by his complete lack of pomposity. Men of Vitaly's rank often took themselves too seriously, but he had always been able to laugh, not sparing anyone in his humour. Which, Aleph reflected, was as it should be. Vitaly was like an unofficial, bawdy and lowbrow version of Arnock, and just as vital to squad battle health. And, just as the interface on a cogitator belied its depth and complexity beneath, so it was with Brother Sokolovsky.

    As he took the gauntlet and checked its functions - the devastatingly elegant flame, the armour not diminished one whit by its added capacity - Aleph noted the designs that matched his artificer-made armour. There was decoration there, purple and gold, painted and sealed, the detail finer than a baseline eye could catch. He tilted the gauntlet, and discovered that if one flexed the armoured fingers just so it looked af if a serpent was being crushed, a serpent invisible at any other time, a perfect illusion that made him smile. In so many ways, he intended to make that metaphor real.

    "It's beautiful," is what he said, first, still processing. Aleph couldn't help but be reminded of something, an incident from the past, not so long ago but an age away - he had it. Extrovious. Reaching out to him for aid, calling him Brother. So much had hung in that word.

    Vitaly was a tower, a bastion against the ills of the technological world as much as a stalwart physical force. Aleph nodded at his words, smiling again, this time a little ruefully.

    "I must admit, I have noted that as well. It's been a thorn in my side innumerable times that the enemy won't just pause in their shooting until I'm finished with killing." He slipped the gauntlet on, the cascade of information scintillating between its circuits and his carapace works not felt, not as Vitaly would feel it, but passing as a sort of shiver across his skin and mind. He nodded, running the gauntlet through several dextrous routines as he continued.

    "A volkite and melta analogue, with a shield capability. I shall be very glad of it, I think. A part of your watchfulness always with me." Impulsively, he leaned forward and clasped his Brother in a warrior's embrace.

    "Thank you, Vitaly." He paused, stepping back. "I will not forget what we owe the traitors and every one I pay back, I will do so in your name also."

    "There is one thing that I want to ask of you." Aleph's face, never good at dissembling, betrayed his emotion.

    "My paintings. If - if I do not return after my mission, please - find a way to archive them, Brother. They depict our enemies as well as our friends, but I cannot let them go. Not all records are pleasant nostalgia. They remind me of why I fight. And - they are a record of Brothers now gone as well as those we must destroy."

    "Look after them for me, Vitaly, if you can. If time and duty allow."
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