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/tg/ - Traditional Games

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[ERROR] No.30783407 [DELETED]  [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

“To serve the Imperium is to die for it.” That was the first thing I heard – officially, anyway – upon arrival at Scholam Augusta. I stood in the Great Hall of the newly-founded Scholam, waiting with all the others.
“Your parents understood this, and that is why you are here today. Rejoice that their service earned you a place here.” I was an orphan, like the hundreds who stood with me; salvaged from the flotsam of the Augustan Crusade to become a piece in the grand Imperial machine. The speaker was a tall, thin, grey-bearded headmaster.
“You will be sorted by age, then tested to discover your potential, then sorted again according to the results.” I was four, in standard Imperial years, and wondered what 'potential' meant.
“Be not afraid. While you are here, you are protected better than you can possibly imagine.” I had seen vast spacedocks with dozens of battleships and cruisers drydocked for repairs as I stared out the small starboard viewport on my way down from orbit. I held a toy ship, a miniature of the ones I saw, tightly to my chest. My mother said it was a present from my father. I did not yet know who my father was.

>> No.30783431

“Shed no more tears, for your peers will be your new family.” I had run out of tears crying for my mother on the voyage from the front. My family, such as it was, was the Fourth Polluxian Regiment. They existed by then only in the databases of the Administratum.
“Obey instructions and this shall be over quickly, with the evening meal to follow.” My stomach rumbled. The hundreds of children around me began shuffling along, following the words of smiling women in white outfits. I had no choice but to shuffle with them.
“This way, please, five years standard and younger, this way.” I followed after a woman with bouncing black curls of hair and a matronly tone to her words. The strongest memories I had of my mother were of her laughter and her smile. The woman reminded me of neither.
I met the eye of another boy, a bit taller than I was. I waved and smiled. After a moment, the other boy did the same, as if he had to think before reacting. We would dine together for the first time that evening.

>> No.30783476

“Antonius Pollux, please step forward.” They had stopped in a different hall. The woman who led us read from a dataslate. “Antonius Pollux, is he here?”
“Your name is Antonius,” my mother had whispered every evening. “And I am Dione. We are of Pollux. Now sleep, and the Emperor will watch over you.” Her mother had whispered similar words to her, and so forth through the generations for as long as the humans had lived on Pollux.
“That's my name,” I said softly as he stepped forward. “That's me.” She smiled down at me. Her smile was not so bright as my mothers, nor so wide.
“Come this way dear, it's time for your tests.” She led me by the hand into the room beyond. I was asked to sort objects, to make choices, to sing, to run, to jump, to read, to solve puzzles, all while men and women observed from behind semi-reflective glass. Eventually I reached the final test. I could smell hot bread through the door beyond. A short man dressed in black and silver stood between me and the door. The man glanced at a dataslate, then looked at me.
“Antonius Pollux, can you tell me the first lesson you learned here at Scholam Augusta?”
I did not know what to make of the question, and hesitated before answering. I thought in silence until I had an answer, then spoke. The short man chuckled in reply.
“Well done, lad,” the man said. “Now go on, dinner is waiting.”

Years passed. I grew.

>> No.30783487

“In the Emperor's name, move!” I was angry. Again. I led four people in a combat-sim through the unrelenting downpour, but I could only rely on two of them. Methodical Navarro passed me at a steady jog, splashing softly through the mud, not even winded. Only two meters behind him came Vesuvia, her short-cropped hair plastered to her head by the rain; her com-sim accuracy rating was rapidly approaching proverbial. And then there were the two, winded and gasping, that brought up the rear: Pavo and Lagois, my two burdens. Pavo wrote hymns to enflame the soul, and Lagois' voice had brought a Lord Commander to tears, but here they were worse than useless.
Still, we were winning. Despite having only half a team, we were winning. I was winning. My command. My victory. I could almost hear the Colonel’s grunt of approval. I could imagine the jealous glares from Metullus and Creon. One last obstacle stood between my team and triumph, one last after two days in the rough: our principle objective, the Drop-Dead Gate.
I dove into the trench with Pavo and Lagois. Navarro and Vesuvia voxxed back and forth, covering the approach to the gate with their Lasguns. The two walked in opposite directions along the trenchline. The unmistakable CRACK of las-fire echoed across the grounds as they shot at combat servitors. I turned to Pavo and Lagois, letting my competent soldiers do their duty.
“You two ready for the final push?” I asked. Lagois nodded, but Pavo still gasped for air. “Shit.” I spat the word. No time for water, not when the margin for victory was so thin. “His asthma again?”
Lagois' eyes widened. She and Pavo were an item, or so Scholam rumor had it.
“Medkit, girl! It's in your pack!”
She scrambled in her haste, spilling the contents of her pack into the sticky clay of the trench floor. I took her shaking hands and held them for a moment, looking her in the eye. “You can do this. You've trained for this. Just breathe.”

>> No.30783513

She closed her eyes and inhaled. “Yes, sir,” she replied.
I picked up the medkit and handed it to her. “Give him the Antinflam. I'll pick up the stuff.”
Her panic faded as she administered the hypomed. I knelt in the trench and cleaned off her fallen gear as best I could. A few spare power packs. Mess kit. A blind grenade. A blind grenade.
“Lagois,” I held up the grenade. “Do you know what this is?”
She rubbed Pavo's back as his breathing returned to normal. “It's not a smoke grenade! I know what those look like now. Why?”
I was too happy to be properly furious. Of course we'd get a bit of non-standard kit – of course she'd pick up the pack with it inside – of course I'd be a damn fool and trust her when we did an inventory check that first night. Of course I'd have this now. The Emperor protects His own.
“This is not any grenade. This is a blind grenade. And this is how we're going to be the first team to ever pass Dead-Drop gate without a single casualty.”
I explained my plan. Even Pavo looked excited, and he'd been miserable from the moment he saw he was placed on this exercise. If we pulled it off, we wouldn't have to buy our own booze until we left Scholam. It was simple, really. We could stay all day in the trench and pop training servitors until we ran out of power packs, but we needed to pass through the gate to finish the mission. There was a fifty meter run through flat, open terrain between the trench and the gate complex. The servitors were no great shots, but they'd open up on full auto las fire if we just ran for it. The standard doctrine was for two gunners to remain behind and snipe servitors as they appeared. Teams with an expert shot could get four people through. But we had a blind grenade, and were facing servitors.

>> No.30783533

“All ready? Good. On my mark, pop smoke.” Pavo and Lagois got into position with their smoke grenades.
“3... 2... 1... mark.” They pulled the pins on their grenades and threw them over the trench. This was all to give us a chance for our main trick. I let the smoke spread. “Nav, Sue, get set.... now!”
Navarro stood and threw the blind grenade with all the force he could muster. The grenade arced high into the no-man's-land between the trench and gate. I saw the servitors standing guard track the grenade through the smoke, and then...
FLASH. With a single shot, Vesuvia blew the grenade out of the sky. The crackling sky betrayed the invisible lectro-pulse that would blind the servitors better than any amount of shooting. And since they were merely temporarily disabled rather than shot, they wouldn't be replaced by others.
“Go!” I screamed as we lept out of the trench, our uniforms the same grey-brown muck as the soil. We all screamed and ran, our legs pumping. We had seconds before the servitors would recover. I took a few wild potshots in exhilaration, barely aiming, no time to do anything more than run -
A shout of warning. Vesuvia was pointing, only meters from the gate. Up, up on the portcullis – a shape – a person – brown hair caught in the spotlights – holding a lasgun, pointed right at me – I swung my own weapon around but I was too late, too late, I was shot and I tumbled the last four meters through the gate as my leg burned in pain.

>> No.30783551

“ComSim results as follows: Group: Pollux, A. Time: Two days, fourteen hours, seven minutes, thirty-one seconds. Casualties inflicted: Twenty-three. Casualties taken: One. Casualty List: Pollux, A.”
A dead-eyed servitor, vocal cords replaced by Mechanicum construct, read out my failure in silence. No one spoke. We all worked to catch our breath after that last desperate sprint. I sat with my back to the wall, clutching my arm where I had landed on it badly. I held my lightly-toasted leg out straight. I could smell the baked clay and fabric from my trousers mixing with the sour scent of burned human flesh. I felt ill, and it had nothing to do with any smell.
I heard the tread of boots coming down to greet us. I looked up to see the Weapon-master and the Colonel coming down the hall, speaking to one another as they approached.
The Weapons-master was a particularly belligerent Enginseer in charge of the Scholam's small armory. Popular rumor held that he'd bested an arco-flagellant in an officially-forbidden-yet-unofficially-permitted Mechanicum combat arena. Somewhat less popular rumor claimed that the arco-flagellant had belonged to a favored Magos, and the Weapons-master had been punished by way of his assignment at the Scholam instead of on the front lines. I found both stories quite easy to believe. Every whirring joint and clicking mechadendrite hinted at an efficiency of punitive violence restrained only by the continuing good-will of the Machine God and his own short temper. If he had a name, no cadet knew it.

>> No.30783568

In contrast, the Colonel was a veteran campaigner from the early days of the Augustan Crusade. Despite the numerous honors he had earned, he wore only the insignia of his rank on his well-tended uniform. He had a thick white moustache and a ragged scar across his forehead. He walked on one bionic leg that never quite matched the rhythm of his natural one, giving him a distinctive step that drowsy cadets soon learned to fear. If he reached you before you recognized his gait, you'd certainly hear his voice as he explained in excruciatingly loud detail exactly how you failed the Imperium by dozing without permission. It was easy to admire the man, and the crusade benefited from the lessons he passed along to it's officers as they graduated from the Scholam and left for the front. To his friends he was Hannos Abraham, but we students thought of him as 'the Colonel,' the man in charge of the Scholam's future Guard officer corps.
“That was an exceptionally clever use of resources,” said the Colonel. “A shame it didn't quite work. I was looking forward to your squad joining me tomorrow night, young Pollux. I suppose it will have to be Creon again.” He sighed. Creon, although quite proficient on the battlefield, was exceptionally dull company.
“Sir, there was someone present on the portcullis. No servitor shot Antony, I swear it,” said Vesuvia. Pavo and Lagois nodded in agreement.
Navarro, who had run too fast to see whatever had shot me, only looked confused. “But... no one's allowed in the Roughlands during Com-Sim besides servitors and trainees,” he said. “Why would – how could anyone...?”

>> No.30783593

The Colonel cut Navarro off, staring straight at me as he spoke. “Cadet Navarro is quite right. There were only servitors guarding the gate. You must be mistaken.”
“But sir -” began Pavo.
“Enough.” The Colonel and I spoke the word in unison. After a moment's pause, he nodded for me to continue. His eyes still had not left mine.
“It must have been a servitor. One must have recovered faster than the others from the grenade,” I said, letting my gaze drop. My leg stung as I forced out the lie. “My gamble failed. Sorry, Pavo, we're not dining at First Table tomorrow.”
Pavo looked like he wanted to say something, but a glare and a shake of the head from Lagois kept him silent.
“Now that that's settled, hand over your packs to the Weapons-master and fetch a speeder. You'll want to get cadet Pollux to the Apothecary before infection can set in,” said the Colonel, breaking the tension. We handed over our gear and the Enginseer stalked off in his usual silence. The colonel helped me to my feet. Pavo and Lagois headed for the garage immediately, but Vesuvia and Navarro hesitated.
“Go on, your gallant leader won't perish in my care, I assure you,” said the Colonel. The two didn't turn away until I rolled my eyes at their concern, at which point they followed after the other pair towards the garage. The Colonel helped me over to a bench while we waited. We sat in silence for a minute.

>> No.30783623

“They're a credit to you, you know. To wait for your permission after I've dismissed them... well. That level of trust must be earned,” he said at last.
“Thank you, sir,” I said. My leg stung and I tried to keep it as straight as possible. “You flatter -”
“I 'flatter' no one, Cadet, and you know it,” he snapped, interrupting me. He sighed and looked upward, mouthing a familiar prayer. “You know I gave you Pavo and Lagois as a handicap, correct?”
“I assumed so, sir. I doubt the Emperor wants either of them on the battlefield. Still, you let me have Navarro and Vesuvia...”
“Bah. Half a squad and two mules, that's what I gave you. Yet you kept everyone alive. You've got what it takes to be a very fine officer. You've got the creative streak Creon will always lack and you're not a born bootlicker like Metullus.” He paused.
I was speechless. To hear him speak what could be my own thoughts aloud was disconcerting, to say the least. I couldn't figure out where he was going with this, either. “Sir?”
He turned to look at me. “Don't look into what happened at the Gate, Pollux. There are some things it's best to turn away from, and this is one of them. I don't know why it happened, but it did, and I'm ordering you to let it go. Is that understood?”
I could hear the speeder coming. “I understand, sir. I'll let it go.”
“Good. Now get that leg healed. I'll see you at mess.”
I saluted. He gave the sign of the aquilla, and turned to walk away. As Navarro helped me into the back of the speeder, I thought of how bitterly it tasted to lie to the old man's face.

>> No.30783672


>> No.30783845

I liked it, but where the fuck is the rest. You've given us like one third of a story OP

>> No.30784744

agreed, so far so good, the charaterization is good for an intro and it grabbed my attention but, i want moar.

>> No.30785084


>> No.30790578

Guessing that won't be tonight? Well keep up the good work OP, I enjoyed your writing.

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