This is sort of filler material between the last two Apocalypse games that I've played in 7th. Perhaps a little too much, but it gives you an insight into the background of the Living Saint, Faith (my take on Celestine, of course). You may sort of recognise some of it, in a way...
Her story starts on this thread:
The station, littered with corpses, is bare of any living thing but her. Standing on the wreck of a maulerfiend, Faith hears an incongruous sound break the post-battle silence. A lone avian, much like an old Terran dove, flutters down from the sky, singing. It lands on her outstretched hand, and she strokes the bird, her smile seeming strange in the face of the bloodshed. “Be free,” she says as she lifts her arm. The creature takes wing. The saint whispers, again, “be free.”
She walks to Sophia, and already there's movement from her. Trusting in her friend's revival, Faith kneels by the grizzled commissar, who coughs twice, glancing up at her. He stands cautiously, taking in the carnage. Seeing one of the members of his bodyguard stir, he levels his gun, but she reaches across and directs the barrel away from the struggling soldier “If you want to shoot someone, check the traitors.” There is steel in her tone. He eyes the guardsman suspiciously, but sees no sign of taint. “Very good, ma'am.”
Others begin to regain their feet, amazed at the slaughter and their own survival. Faith is hit by waves of weariness, but more stand again, wounds healing, life restored. There is jubilation among the men, although it recedes a little – replaced by fear – when one of the space marines that stood by her rises, light gleaming from the gold on his armour. After checking his surroundings he moves to his fellows, who are also recovering. Once sure of their condition he begins the process of ensuring that the traitors are all dead. If he has concerns about the revival, he keeps them to himself. Looking for a little respite, the saint walks away.
She goes to her sisters, cleaning their armour and weapons, already preparing for the next battle. Their faces show determination, although both seem troubled by something. They greet her. She gives them a thoughtful look. In the background she can see the guardsmen executing wounded enemy soldiers. They give the Khornate marines a wide berth, though, leaving them to others more suited.
Then she moves to where Blood Angels lie broken, their armour rent by dozens of vicious blows. Moving nimbly aside she avoids a stirring giant. “Welcome back.” The marine is plainly confused. She moves on to the next, and fatigue strikes her again. For a moment she kneels, just as an angelic figure regains his feet. He reaches down with concern. “You need not abase yourself,” he says. “I know.” She replies. The marine's helm angles quizzically, but she rises slowly and continues, restoration following in her wake.
Isobel lands nearby. “Are you all right?” Faith is about to reply in the positive, when tiredness overwhelms her. She collapses as her seraphim calls for help...
The Saint Dreams of Killing
Some time after leaving the city she arrives at a hamlet. There are few structures – most have been damaged by gunfire, as have the vehicles. She moves into the settlement cautiously, hearing loud music from the largest building; a man is thrown through its double doors. He lands on his back as she draws her pistol, slipping into a nearby alley. Moments later a muscular but strangely twisted thug emerges, approaching the man who tries to regain his feet. The newcomer's skin is greenish, and a strand of drool hangs from his chin. Laughing, he straddles the other man and punches him, slowly, but with great power.
Choosing to conserve ammunition, Taarna approaches them swiftly, kicking the attacker viciously in the side of his head, knocking him off his victim. Before he can recover the sole of her boot slams onto his neck. She feels vertebrae snap, but he still struggles. Now putting all of her weight onto him, however, his motion lessens and, eventually, ceases. She holds him there for some time after he is still, just to be sure, nodding at the victim, who drags himself to his feet and limps away.
Approaching the door she hears several deep, rough voices of the barbarians. Through the doors she sees one, probably the leader, shouting, another covering terrified musicians with a shotgun; they still play, nervously. The last is tormenting patrons at a table, near several bodies. Three to one isn't great odds, so she targets the shotgunner. The bolt explodes in his shoulder – she's disappointed, as she wanted to get his neck – and he collapses, fatally wounded. She strides in, pistol aimed unswervingly at the leader.
He laughs at her. This is not the reaction she was expecting. Fury rises, but she forces herself to be patient. Gesturing with her empty hand, she points first at the raider at the table, and shakes her head dismissively; the same for the leader. Then she points to herself, points to her gun, and makes a circle around her head, and a chopping motion at her arm. The leader looks a little confused, and then grins. “You want Moebius! Good luck with that!”
She levels the gun at his face. He smiles again, moving slightly closer to her. “You know he was a pit slave? Killed his masters, set up his own operation.”
Again he draws closer. They are now three metres apart. “He'll chew you up and spit you...”, and he lunges. Quickly, though, Taarna takes a step back and shoots him in the hip. Greenish gore sprays across the room, and he falls. The thug grunts as he lands, feebly trying to hold his stinking entrails in. She flicks a glance at the other mutant. He is very, very still.
Pointing at the groaning barbarian, she mouths “talk”, and angles her head. He coughs “I'll say no more... bitch.” She looks at the other raider and shoots the leader in his back. Somehow he lives, though, still reaching for her, so, with furrowed brow, she puts a bolt into the top of his head. She points with her pistol, and again mouths “talk”.
The last is more motivated. He tells her that this Moebius has many followers; escaped slaves and bandits in the badlands, based near an extinct volcano. It was that way for years, until a month ago, when a glowing green meteorite landed in the caldera itself. Somehow Moebius gained power from it, and, after killing several mine owners and other officials exposed first his men, then those of the surrounding groups, to its energies, even those that didn't want to be. There's something inside it, that talks to them. It told them to attack the city, to gain it power though sacrifice. He can hear it in his head…
Taarna nods, and gestures to the doorway with her pistol He moves very carefully. Some of the people in the building go to thank her, but she silences them with a cutting gesture and a grim look. She follows the last raider outside, where there's now a small crowd. Many are armed with improvised weapons, shouting at her prisoner, looking ready to tear him limb from limb.
They don't get the chance. His headless corpse collapses, a fountain of off-coloured blood briefly spraying from the neck, chunks of skull and flesh spread on the ground, and the sound of the bolt pistol echoing around the street.
She gestures to one of the crowd, carrying a burning brand, pointing to the corpse, and then the building. He looks confused; she angrily grabs it from his hand, throwing it into the mess of the last attacker, before taking a fuel can from a nearby trashed vehicle and emptying maybe half of the liquid onto the corpse. The fire flares. She gestures with the can to the building she fought in, puts it down and, reloading her bolt pistol, she starts walking west.
When she awakens she seems confused for a moment. “West,” she mumbles. Isobel's eyes narrow. “What do you mean?”
“We have to go back.”
“To the crater. It's there again. We have to go back there and kill it, once and for all.”
Sophia lands nearby. “What's happening?”
The saint looks at her, sadly. “It's hiding in the crater. To the west. It's back. The... ...thing that I fought, when you first found me. It's returned, somehow.”
The Geminae look at each other. “Well, we have allies now.” Sophia gestures to the Imperial forces now gaining some degree of discipline.
“This is down to us – me. I failed before, so I have to make it right. And I can't risk any of them getting close, getting corrupted...”
Isobel raises an eyebrow. “These are brave men. They won't be turned.” Faith snaps back. “Bravery alone won't stop it. It's down to me. It's why we came back to Taarakia, why we dropped out of the warp. It must be this way. It's my destiny.” The Geminae look at each other. Destiny may mark someone as special, even glorious. But it has other connotations, too. Final connotations…
"I don't expect you to come with me.”
Isobel's face twists in anger. “You think we'll abandon you?”
“No, never. But,” she smiles, sadly, “I won't force you to come. You're free. Be free.” Sophia quickly says “I will freely follow you, wherever you go, whatever you do, whatever the cost.” Isobel looks less sure for a moment, but adds “And I will be at your side.”
Faith smiles wanly, and she bows her head. “I expected no less.”
When she's sure that all of her allies stand once more she bids them farewell. There are cheers from the guardsmen, stoic silence – but nodded heads, and the occasional aquila – from marines. The sisters refuel their packs and replenish their ammunition, courtesy of the Blood Angels, whose captain expresses his eternal thanks, no small thing.
Making their way west at pace, a number of twisted mutants try to stop them. All fail. In fact, only once is their pace really slowed, when they encounter a small detachment of Death Guard traitor marines – even they don't last long, although Sophia falls once to their venomous blades. But the poison of chaos isn't limited to the physical. As the caldera comes into view a deep, strong voice enters their minds. “Taarna. At last you have returned to me.”
The voice grows stronger. “I've been waiting for you. Your presence makes my victory complete.” The women move on, unaffected by the words, although, perhaps, disconcerted by the source's ability to reach into their minds. Faith calms them. The saint has defeated this monster before. She will again.
However, they are all less confident when the voice explains, in mocking tones, how it brought her back to life, and that all of her warring in the Emperor's name is merely a farce; she is its thing, whether she knows it or not, and all of those she has brought back from death will be its playthings – especially her Geminae...
Mutants ambush them once more, their rifles far outranging the warrior women, but the latter soldier on, heedless of their wounds. Snipers swiftly slaughtered, the sisters reach the base of the crater. A small settlement squats there, stinking. Things scuttle and titter among the rude huts and piles of trash. The women burn it.
They can hear the buzzing in its voice now. It promises her that she cannot kill it; it can always return from the warp; she will eventually weaken and fall while she resists it. But as its servant she can never truly die, and nor can her minion. She shouts: “Stop!”, and comes to a halt. Her seraphim stand ready. She shouts up at the extinct volcano. “All your plans have come to nothing, and now you die. Go back to whatever hole you came from, and tell them of the power of faith in the Master of Mankind. Tell them of what awaits them if they travel to His realm. There is nothing for you here but defeat”.
Laughter is its only response.
She leaps to the ruined crater, and can see the thing has grown out from under the rubble. It tries to reach their minds again, but Sophia and Isobel begin to sing the Liturgy of Faith Eternal, and she joins in, their voices drowning out its mirthful threats. She can see the squirming thing within its fleshy cage – much more clearly-defined than the first time. It's a poxed lump of filthy green skin, heaving, and there are other… creatures swimming independently in the fluid sac that surrounds it. “Soon I will be reborn. Then we can duel, and you can see what a godly blessing truly is.”
A twisted face regards her with many insectile eyes; its tongue – tipped with a stinger – runs along the inside of the ovum. it's the most repulsive entity she's ever seen. The surface of the cocoon begins to tear, and flies struggle from the fluid and buzz out. Not waiting for Loc-Nar to emerge, she sends a gout of holy flame at it, burning the insects to nothing. She's almost amused at its incredulous outrage – as if she would ever regard a challenge from it, of all her enemies, as worthy of honour. It evokes a cry for aid, a call to its minions, a psychic scream that reaches halfway across the continent. Faith turns to her escorts, “Sing, sisters. Be filled with joy while this monster burns. But stay back from the filth.”
The saint rams the fiery blade into the daemon, coating it – and her – in purifying flame, channelling every iota of her enraged contempt into rending the thing, cooking its flesh away with blessed promethium. Once or twice twitching limbs emerge from the cocoon, grasping or spearing at her, but she lops them off, her blade spinning skilfully in gleaming arcs of hate. The smaller beasts within die too, impaled; squealing as they burst, their remains are seared by the heat. Now her breathing is ragged, but she refuses to stop for a moment, tearing and slashing what remains of the nearly-born Loc-Nar into chunks of inert flesh, cooking them to ash.
At last she seems to have completed her task, her reserves of fuel nearly exhausted, her body shaking with weariness. Nonetheless, once, then twice, she rages again, hacking at some small piece of the daemon prince, screaming in utter fury. Eventually she takes off her helm, her hair plastered to her head with sweat, her eyes wild. Her skin reddened from the heat – in several places so badly that it's burned. The Geminae look on in awe – perhaps afraid of what their leader has become. Then they leap forward to catch and drag her away as she collapses...
The Saint Dreams of Doom Approaching
It's nearly fully dark. Occasionally lights wink across the waste. Taarna navigates using them, finding the results of violence wherever she goes. She doesn't bury any of the bodies. At one refuelling stop she's forced to shoot them, however, when they start getting up and trying to eat her…
She heads on cautiously into the wilderness, always to the west, eventually seeing more lights – but also hearing cries of pain. Speeding up she spies a prospector's tiny prefabricated home – and three of the thugs standing around two battered bodies, seemingly planning to move on. They appear to only have hand-to-hand weapons, so she uses a little of her remaining fuel to drop from the sky like an avenging angel, severing the arm of one of the mutants.
However, the others back off, and one sprays her with las-fire from a hidden sidearm, ablating some her protection and burning her arm. She drops the blade in shock. Her response is to draw her own pistol, cursing her need to conserve ammunition and promptly wasting three shots on slaying him. The last, unarmed, puts his hands up, grinning nervously as he surrenders. She shoots him in the face.
Examining the two victims, she's too late to save them. She cradles one that is still hanging on to life, briefly praying for his soul. Finding some flammables, Taarna immolates the corpses after liberating the laspistol. Then she treats her injury. It isn't serious, but could slow her enough to make a difference – careless foolishness. She extinguishes the flames after an hour, then buries the denizens of the homestead carefully and hacks the charred remains of the others into pieces. They won't trouble her again.
Unwilling to travel further in this dark, unknown, terrain, she sets up camp in the prefabricated hovel. The door of the shabby hut has been torn off, so she fixes it as best as she can. Food and drink raise her spirits, and she prays at the tiny shrine that the previous inhabitants had lovingly tended, then prepares to sleep sitting, with weapons reloaded and easily-reachable.
In peace, she dreams.
Taarna Dreams of Years Ago, When She Was a Child.
Her parents had taken her to see the wise woman, concerned with the way she said she could “talk to the birds.” The old harridan sniffed and looked the child up and down as she held one of the local avians gently in her hands, whispering nonsense to it. Her father was irked. “Taarna. Stop that!” She ignored him.
The elder grinned crookedly at the child. “You're like them, you know. Free as a bird. As long as you respect their freedom. So set it free.” She gestured to the bleak sky. The girl, afraid, opened her grip. “Be free”. The creature stayed on her hand for a while before flapping away. She watched it, transfixed, as the adults said things she didn't understand behind her.
“She has a very , very minor talent, nothing more. They won't take her.”
When the black ship came, Taarna was examined, but let go, after some discussion. The men in black informed her parents that she was to be given over to the local sororitas before being taken offworld for instruction. They would have a day to prepare.
The family never saw the old woman again.
The Saint Dreams of Capture
She wakens with a start, to red warning runes and pain. Her whole spine is burning, and her right arm is trapped. Helm audio is out, muted in order to prevent severe hearing damage from extreme stimulus. The hut has collapsed on her.
The pistol is already in her hand.
Taarna sees motion through slim shafts of grey dawn light and squeezes the trigger, being rewarded with a deep cry of pain. Gunfire rains on the ruin, but between it and her armour she weathers the storm of las and stub. The auto-sense starts picking up the noise, although it seems strangely muted, as if the sensors are damaged. As a bulky shape occludes the light again she opens up, putting two rounds into it, seeing green briefly stream in from the hole covered by the body.
A voice yells, “Stop!”
The shooting ceases. For a moment the morning is still.
“I want this one alive – for a while. Dig him out and tie him up.”
Desperately she tries to free her trapped limb. The joints of her armour have locked, though, protecting her from the sheer weight of the small building bearing down, but rendering her unable to bring her weapon to bear properly.
Suddenly there's even more pain, as a lumbering force hammers down on the collapsed roof. It starts smashing the structure with titanic blows. Stifling a cry, she holds the gun ready until the mass above her shifts and light enters. Where there's light, she's heard, there's hope. No hope for the mutant above her, however, who explodes as bolts enter his groin and digestive tract from below. The effect above must be startling, as she hears panic from all around. The rain of gore is certainly revolting.
She still can't move most of her body, though.
“Guurh. Use weight.” Suddenly there are impacts from every direction. She realises they are throwing things from all sides to cover their motion, and anxiety builds as it continues. Soon they will make a concerted attempt to expose her. Unwilling to allow herself to be taken alive – and keen to enact some vengeance – she detaches a grenade from her belt.
She isn't ready when the weight shifts violently back. Suddenly there's a lot more light, although the helm reduces the glare. Still her left arm remains trapped. Taarna manages two shots into the first visible target before an arm rips the gun from her hand. Panicking now, she grabs at the grenade, but can't pull the pin with only one hand free and with her face covered. Frustration wells within. Then two meaty fists grab the bomb from her grasp.
Her helm is torn from her head, and she smells the reek of the recently-killed. Taarna sees a huge, twisted grin, framed by steel armour, and hears “It's a girl, you idiot cowards. Some girl just killed three of you!” and she's slapped, back-handed, into unconsciousness.
It will continue here:
Edited by Brother Sefiel, 01 November 2017 - 09:53 PM.