Author's Preamble: I just realized a grave error. Doctors in WH40k are known as Medicae. Hence, Doctors shall be reverted to Medicae...i.e. Medicae Ally Damien.

I am deciding to rate this to Mature after the next chapter. Kindly add this story to your Story Alerts to make sure you're notified of the next release.

Read & Review Please

XXIV – Rubicon

A single caseless slug was unclipped from the rifle, releasing a bang into an auditory tide of gun-bursts. The solid-slug guided by perfect aim tore into space. It pierced and sliced into the bullet-ridden mannequin's forehead, creating a smoking, rounded hole in the dense platerized material.

She unaligned her eyes from the Autorifle's oversight, squinting slightly to examine the damage she has inflicted on the target over a hundred feet away. Her palms gripped the heavy mixed-alloy of at least several millennia old, feeling the heated weapon and shifted it about. She re-ascertained its weight, her eyes resting on the heaviness and the intricate, functional beauty of a relic. Unlike its mass-produced las descendents, it was a machine handcrafted and built to last. No less, it was more than ever an adornment that any soldier would proudly carry to their graves, to have it laying by their bodies in sarcophaguses as proof of their valour and strength.

Crafts of such sophistication were no longer produced for the masses of the 41st millennium. Time has allowed technological pathways to manufacture weapons at volumes in a greater quantum at a fraction cost, at the expense of course, on aesthetics, lifespan and durability. The very best, the expensive, were reserved for the Imperium's niche and elite few.

Comparisons were easily drawn, and the technological differences were glaring. The technology behind the slug-throwing mechanism, needless to say, was obsolete. Its accuracy would begin to deteriorate at a distance of two hundred feet. It was bulky in design and was absent of advance sinks that would efficiently dissipate the enormous heat generated by the rapid ammo discharge. The fifth magazine would effectively jam the machine. However, as many members of the Adeptus Mechanicus would agree, like all relic technology, they were generous in firepower. The Autorifle was unmatched at close range, where a single bullet was capable of punching through Class III armour. Lasrifles, on the other hand, could only impart cauterizing marks.

Its shortcomings notwithstanding, her scrutinizing did not deter her from drawing appreciation from the etchings and glyphs with origins from the 31st Millenium. She was an aficionado of martial weapons, a passion commonly run in the veins of the militaristic Symmachus. She was raised as a combatant with a combined formal education in a Prestigious Militant Schola. At a young age, she quickly cultivated fondness for antiquities of the Imperium's military arsenal. These relics told tales of her ancestors - the footmen and the Imperium's progenitors who won, defended and handed the Imperium down to the generation that was now.

It reminded her of her roots, and it strengthened her pride. Giving her more reasons to inherit the fervor and pledge of her forefathers to bring the fight to the Imperium's enemies.

And they, the forefathers who wielded these weapons, were claimed to be great and hardy warrior, no longer men of such stock were produced, many suggested. Such reasoning carried weight, these ancient weapons would require great skill, endurance and strength to operate. It was seventy pounds heavier, almost twice the weight of the weapon's modern counterpart. It lacked current technologies that would assist in marksmanship, therefore requiring the users to rely on elaborate training, experience and intuition to guide the bullet to hitting the mark. It was the limitations in technological aids that drove them to be greater warriors.

She rechecked the results of her practice, head stretching over and eye squinted to examine every bullet hole. She produced a smirk - a self-assuring smile that retold her confidence, faith and skills that was undiminished, still tightly fastened and unbroken even when she was put through the terrible, unrelenting torrents of torturous trainings and physical bashings. These were skills, her second nature, that would never fade away – training, focus and discipline, all incepted since she was a child. Allies, thicker and more dependable than most people that surrounded her. Unlike people, they were difficult to kill, they never betray. And for that, she depended on no one but herself.

The real test, epiphanies concocted, was probably against oneself.

She turned to begin her trek back to the Munitorum. She had not forgotten the stringent instructions given by the Administrators. To practice within the Sanctum of Fire required strict compliance to the Temple's procedures. Only one weapon from the Munitorum was allowed at a time, and it was a hike through a network of confusing and poorly labelled corridors and tunnels all cramped within a dome-like structure. The Sanctum was located outside the Temple, stretching over twenty hectares, large enough to train a small army.

She exited the shooting range to make way towards the Munitorum where the other thousands of weapons were stored. The Chamber's auto-gates logged her exit, swinging wide open before letting in a gust of sheer force - a magnitude enormous in scale where firepower was measured. She could feel the tremors resonating off the walls and floors, with muffled explosions, blasts and gunfire ringing from adjacent chambers.

Although earlier dampened by the Assassinorum's proclaimed prodigy's sudden appearance, - Valaruz 17th, the other candidates were unfazed by the Munitions instructor's sudden departure. It did not bother them, but, on the other hand, provided the candidates what little chance they can to 'blow off some steam', as Oswald have expressed. They relish the break from their tormentors and they did not hesitate in arming themselves with whatever they fancied at the temple's arsenal. Carting off with Autocannons, Bolters, and even Missile Launchers. Hanging strings of ammunitions over their shoulders, hauling cartridges and boxes of slugs along.

She moved down the corridor, her imagination armed with the image of a glorious battlefield - a narrow valley rained down with projectiles of destruction. The dome's high rounded ceiling created atmospheric and spectacular volleys of booming echoes, the aural discharge peppered euphoria into the air. She could feel her heart pumping with adrenaline every thud, her excitement swelled while feeling the temperature rising with every projectile spent.

She moved quicker, her nimble feet guided by her curiosity that wrestled over her determination to 'mind her own business'. Against her conscience, she undertook a brief reconnaissance mission upon a wide court flashed with moving lights. She could feel a wave of intense heat emanating from the chamber. The Patrician spied through the glass gates, catching the sight of a sweat-drenched, brown-skinned man incinerating his targets with a flamer. She could not remember his name, but it was the Tallarnese other than Assir.

His suit was stripped down to his waist, hoisting a fuel tank on his back with legs rooted steadily to the ground, producing a wide grin as the ignited fuel licked everything within range except for the porous steel walls.

The Tallernese appeared to have the arson's fascination, unaware that Kira was stealthily spying on him. But a loud boom was erupted from somewhere, followed by a slight tremor. The Tallarnese halted, released the pressure trigger to reduce the barrel's pressure. Annoyance was evident on his face as he glanced to the source of the explosion. He looked back through the Auto-gates, and saw no one. Kira was already gone, dodging out of sight just in time and silently slipped away, not wanting to engage any invitation to any form of 'bonding'.

But her curiosity had not been sated, where she circled and climbed a few flight of stairs, the path leading her to an observation deck overlooking a large field of scorched earth. It stunk of fumes and was painted with destruction. Charred metals were scattered everywhere. Burns splashed on the walls and floors. She looked to her surrounding and decided to stay within the yellow-marked safety zone, looking over to the other end where a platform was constructed. She squinted to identify a small figure standing firm shouldering a large Missile Launcher.

A projectile then whistled before her; her eyes blinked to an instantaneous white flash; her reflexes provoked by the deafening boom; her balance thrown off by a gust of force. Her body instinctively curled inwards but remained steady and balanced. She opened her eyes after a full-second; a horizontal cloud of smoke was slowly dissipating before her and in a distance, the disintegration and utter destruction of a metal hulk. She looked towards the platform on the other end where the shooter hollered in excitement, "FUCK YOU! YEAH!" The white male unleashed a rowdy torrent of excitable cheers, "WHOO HOO!"

Typical, she sneered, irritated by the crass, uncultured behaviour. She could not stay there any longer, her eyes and ears were sore.

She moved on to the next destination, climbing flight of stairs after another. Before long, she stood before a junction, the right would lead her to the Munitorum, the other direction would lead her to the Sniping Training grounds. She hesitated for a moment, but she turned left towards Sniper's gallery, taking her through another series of corridors. At the end was a locked vault door, a sign indicated that it was occupied. She guessed that it was the Sniper's vantage point. She searched around and spotted another ladder, she guessed it would lead her upwards to an observation deck.

But she could not proceed, knowing that whatever that she would observe above would cause pain to her spirit. Her esteem was in the danger of being bruised, it would crush her spirit when she was being compared to candidates who were claimed experts of the Sniper Rifle.

She was indisposed to staring straight in the truth. Her courage teetered in the balance, her greatest disadvantage was in danger of being revealed.

She turned tail. Her curiosity was defeated.

The sights before her, however, quickly salvage the Patrician's mental fortitude from her wreck-pile of insecurities. The amount of stacked containers did not fail to overwhelm her, yet again. Weapon of various design and age were individually air-sealed in their respective casings, emanating age and history that were profound.

Dust particles ascended towards the bulbs hanging down from the ceiling, all spaced out evenly down all fifteen rows in the Munitorum. Her return from the Sanctum of Fire did not diminish her fascination, her eyes lit with strange wonder and curiosity.

She took her time to examine the weapons closely, stumbling upon a larger case. She peered through the glass panel housing an exquisite and monstrously-sized Halberd standing nine feet tall. From the thick of the hilt to the wide blade, the tiniest detail did not escape its maker's attention. It was a Force Weapon, designed for Librarians, Grey Knights and Psykers to imbue their psychic energy to make it an extremely potent melee weapon. It belonged to the late Brother Tomac Lotret of the Grey Knights, of gene-seed originated from the Primarch of Imperial Fist.

The Force weapon was described to weigh close to a half a tonne, and it rightfully should. From the glint of the crystallized-titanium encrusted shellac, to the wide, thick span of the diamentium blade, even without its wielder, gravity itself could pull down its weight to slice any mortal in two like hot blade through butter. It could sever a Daemon's head and flay the thickest of hides.

She felt a chill running down her spine, as such was the power of the Adeptus Astartes whom possessed the strength of Gods. They were the Emperor's Angels of Death, far superior to their mortal counterpart, wider in girth, and taller in height by a superior nominator.

Where the monstrosity of Daemons would trample the Universe and consume the Imperium, the Space Marines were the tip of the sword that has been forged not only to meet the Warp creatures head-on but to drive the offensive to the very gates of the Eye of Terror.

The Space Marines were once humans - sifted and chosen from candidates numbered in thousands. Very much like Vindicare Assassins, she guessed. Only the best would be granted the prized gift – the gene-seeds of the respective Space Marine chapter. Their bone structures were then enhanced, their body masses enlarged and the number and quality of vital organs added to combat immortal foes as well as the harshest of environments and injuries. They were engineered to be Supersoldiers, their purpose was to win thousands of battles, standing equally, if not greater, against malicious foes that would have driven Men to extinction.

She murmured a prayer, Emperor watches over the Angels of Death whom protect the Imperium.

"Most spectacular..." a familiar, friendly voice called out to the spell bound Patrician, prompting Kira to turn around.

It was Juydith.

"It's the entire collection of Vostroyan weapons dating back even to the 39th Millennium," she beamed with pride, "I recognize one of the Autocannons, it was engineered and blueprinted by one us Grussts. The model was put through the Mechanicus' mass production cycle circa 001.M34 during the Fourth Black Crusade."

Kira nodded slightly, but could think of few replies. She was not as savvy as Juydith where heavy weaponries were concerned. But it was just a matter of time before she could be as armed in knowledge as Juydith.

"Lieutenant Lurista had not been exaggerating when she said that agents of the Assassinorums are weaponry savants," Juydith continued, "The amount of care invested into the weapons is beyond reproach," Juydith continued her praise, "Every gun and ammunition are meticulously inventoried, labelled and maintained. Some of the ancients seemed like it was fresh from the forge. They even included a brief description of the weapons and history, the Munitorum could easily qualify for a museum."

"Indeed," Kira merely said. Unspoken words ran through her head.

Juydith's smile did not prolong, however. A sigh was released from her chest, "Kira..." she said softly.

The Patrician glanced towards Juydith, shocked by her words.

"We're going to die, aren't we?" the Vostroyan blurted, dispelling Kira's pensiveness.

"It's a cowardly thing to say, I know," the Vostroyan quickly added, lowering her head in shame, hiding her misty eyes, "My family would have disowned me."

Family, Kira immediately understood Juydith with a deep measure of sympathy, she was not in her best mental state herself, but she fully understood how she felt. Both of them shared a similar sense of pride and duty to their families, an inheritance of duty and responsibility that became a great honour and burden at the same time.

"It's futile. The ending is the same no matter how I see it. I'm merely statistics and I know well that a prodigy I'm not. I'm not an expert sharpshooter. I'm no operative worthy of the Assassinorum...I'm just a drop of the countless men and women that the Temple have disposed of," she began shaking violently, "This is no test, this is madness."

Kira swallowed hard, acknowledging her fears and doubts to be true.

"We're only delaying the inevitable, only the Emperor knows how this will end," Juydith began to whimper, "This is too much," she broke down and sobbed terribly.

Kira shut her eyes and drew breath as strongly as she could, "I..." she stammered slightly, "I..." she bit down her bottom lip, inducing a little pain. Her hand reached out nearly touching the Vostroyan, but withdrew her arm immediately. Many thoughts flashed before her. But from deep thought, her eyes suddenly hardened with resolve, as if she recalled some hard lessons.

"Prior to the Vindicare Temple," Kira said coldly, "I was assigned on an escort mission for an Emissary," Juydith continued her whimpering.

"We..." she paused, waiting for Juydith to pay more attention, "We were travelling across the Galactic borders when we happened along the borders of hostile space. All was well until our radars identified a band of Xeno pirates." she paused, piecing her thoughts together, "It was the Dark Eldar with a force much more formidable against our meagre fleet. With only a handful of Frigates and a Destroyers, we were outgunned, outnumbered and outmanoeuvred.

Our defences did not last long, and our team, the core escort group - a platoon of young and inexperienced initiates, soon had to face directly with the boarding party with only a barely seasoned Captain to lead us. The enemy corrupted the ship's core and disabled the internal defences with the vile intention to pillage, enslave and torture the convoy down to the very last man.

Knowing the savagery of our foes, terror stuck like lightning into the fragile hearts of the young. The Captain's resolve and leadership, too, had lost to the collectively weakened morale. The panic chamber clattered with the metal base of our boots, literally. Chaos erupted, many opted to end their own lives before the end. Knowing it would be an easier fate than the inhumane torture that'll await them.

But it was then the Emissary whom came forward, standing before us, armed, donning his old suit with all of his laurels and decorations. We learnt instantly then, from his hardened and fearless speech, that he was a retired officer, who had toiled through many campaigns and skirmishes, triumphant with valour and courage.

With the demented Xeno just about to blow the buffer gates, he said these very words:

'Every mortal soul knows fear, for the simple reason that to live is to bear hope. The hope that we will live to see another day, hope that we will live to see a better day. But it a strange thing that it is hope that would ultimately be our demise. Our death. We, as defenders of the Imperium, have to accept the fact that we are already dead. For it is with that acceptance that we would be able to function like a soldier. A warrior without fear. A defender of honour. All battles, all victory, and all of the Imperium depend upon it.

So bear your arms, men' he said, 'Unleash your wrath upon the enemy and fear no pain. For you cannot die, for you are already dead.'

Juydith's sobs have reduced, still whimpering, yet seemed to have drawn some effect from the story.

"Our lives have already been forfeit since the day we joined the Guard," Kira said coldly, "Perhaps you and I are the same. My family has been serving the Jantine Patricians through generations. And you are the First Born of your parents, required by Edict to serve the Imperium. It is fated that we were born to our duties. More so, save the Emperor, do we not face a certain Death? That is a fate that we cannot change." Kira pause, "But, there is one thing, the only thing that we can alter. A force that is within our grasp - that it is to ensure our deaths are delivered with honour. Your families..." she paused,

"OUR... families are depending on us."

Juydith sobs slowly dissipated. Her head nodding slightly as she drew a deep breath, wiping away her tears.

And in an unprecedented move, Kira moved forward and wrapped her arms around Juydith. Squeezing both her arms together, hugging her, startling the Vostroyan, not knowing that the Patrician was longing for one too.

With a violent jerk, Medicae Ally roused from a deep sleep from her chair, shaken slightly caused by dreams that she had immediately forgotten. She looked at the time, and felt like she had been asleep forever. The room had turned dark, sunlight no longer poured into the large Trauma Unit. Medical Apparatus beeped and dim lights flickered in that late evening. A strain stretched from her neck to her back, the terrible ache compounded from the awkward sleeping position on the chair upon her sleepless nights.

She wiped the drying saliva on the corner of her lips, reaching for a glass water to wet her throat. Her burning, dehydrated lips cooled by the liquid. She quickly realized the pathetic state that she had allowed her to be in.

She summarily studied Valaruz 17th's stats and concluded that he had stabilized, now laying comfortably in the bay before her. He had suffered heavy injuries from his latest mission in Xesxes, arriving back in the Valaruz Temple in critical condition, where he nearly lost his life. She was glad that he pulled through, but now that he appeared to have survived the ordeal, she ironically hoped that he would not wake too soon. A surmountable challenge lay before him – to survive the Inquisition.

The Assassin had gone beyond the previous mission's parameters, instead of just accomplishing the core mission - to cripple an infestation of Tyranid Lictors, his involvement has spurred a series of events that led to the collapse of Xesxes's entire icy-cold Northern Ridge. He had also carried out an unsanctioned assassination of Governor General Verne and his mistress. The entire regiment, following the Assassin's departure, was sucked into a power struggle. A political rift erupted, splitting the Brass with several disputing ends.

The Inquisition did not intervene until the Assassinorum released Valaruz 17th's official debrief, detailing an account of treason in the midst of the Xesxes' Ordo Militant. 'Treason', was all that was needed to have the Directoris effected– bringing all involved personnel to the suspension of his or her title, privileges, rank and assets, including that of the Assassin. They were now running a full audit and were sweeping for signs of corruption, treason, misconduct...whatever that was deemed heretical. Rumours were that many on Xesxes had been hauled to the Inquisition ships.

Innocence is guilty of wasting the Inquisition's time.

But whatever the story was, she was convinced that the Assassin was incapable of the accusations that anyone would lay on him. May it be or treason or heresy. However, those who know Valaruz 17th would be wary of his dissenting reputation. His callousness and arrogance could make a difference in the Ordo Sicarius's decision – the slightest insult or misbehaviour on Valaruz 17th's end could very well make flag him as Heretical. And who knew whose wrath he has incurred during the mission? Statements could be used against him, the tiniest doubt could be his doom. He would be interrogated... or worst, tortured – a fate worse than death.

She looked at him, a rogue, border-lining heretic - some has labelled him. She was reminded of a time when he was embroiled in an argument against with one of the more pious, supercilious junior Orderlies. He criticized, mocked and provoked so much of the narrow outlook of the Ecclesiarch that the Orderly screamed and choked for the lack of breath.

She suddenly chuckled at the recollection, admitting that while frustrating, his juvenile antics and wit was a charming complement to his arrogance.

She looked at him, comfortably tucked in, revealing his chiselled, muscled bare shoulders and defined neckline. She examined him closer - his thick and dangerous eyebrows, his rugged beard, his gaunt and solid cheek bones face, his tanned skin that marked light scars from his battlefield experience. More so was his well-proportioned body that made him altogether an attractively-packaged individual. He was dangerous, strong and talented, commanding a mysterious magnetism that members of the opposite gender would find attractive.

All of a sudden, her worries were dispelled. As careless as he was, his mysterious and unpredictable ways always seem to provide escapes to the problems he had caused.

And mysterious and unpredictable he was. No one had really attempted to understand the Assassin. Not even Father Ozmattix could control him. At that, however, there was evidence of him being gregarious, always seen to have a drink and a good laugh with the lower Temple's staff. He was surmised to be a loner too, often wandered beyond the Temple's compounds at odd hours. But when he did remain at the Temple, his became a restless spirit that haunted the Temple, drifting from chambers to chambers, spending many hours smoking his cigarettes in solitude.

The Medicae, however, have a different account on him. Where she recalled, but never spoke of, the almost regular times where she had bedded with him, as a result of the Assassin's forward advances.

But what did it all mean?

Medicae Ally Damien came from a respectable family. The culture, education and parental guidance that she grew up with equipped her with the more complex understanding of the dynamics of relationships between men and women. She knew since a child the meaning of love between two people, and what it meant to be in a relationship.

Dating, marriages, partnerships, sex, mutual-exclusivity and contractual reproductive consents (whoring out, some families colloquially coined), she grew up well to learn the difference. And she became the few who, beyond serving the Imperium, that longed for a happy life. A life that she acknowledged that the most of the Imperium did not know exist. He was a friend...perhaps. A companion whom she shared many good laughs, flirts and physical pleasures. She would lay in bed with him, listen to the stories of his missions, his hilarious insults on the people around them, and at rare times, expressing his morbid outlook and emotions. At some point, she believed that they shared some kind of connection and bond, one that, however, will not lead to fruition. Perhaps both of them kept their distance where she speculated that he never wanted to go beyond commitment, doing things like what normal couples do, sharing a different form of intimacy other than just physical attraction and sex. What was she to expect from the Assassin? The prisoner of war who is and forever bound to service, whose life was given to protect the Imperium. Men who were taught and trained to be killers, not lovers, not suitors, not fathers. She knew at some level, he was a deeply troubled soul. But he kept it to himself, appearing to be mostly aloof and distant when they were together.

She understood all these, and although she has long accepted the fact that the relationship would lead to a dead end, with him around, she could always feel excitement and a fleeting moment of happiness, then all the more her heart would ache thinking that he could depart one day and never hear of his return. That cautioned her many times to keep her distance, and meanwhile, she could perhaps find another and reduce the pain of an inevitable meltdown, but she had not found one that she have such strong feelings for, not from the depraved Temple, at the very least. So she stopped suppressing her feelings and held on to the toxic feeling.

Misery loved company. It was an accident she saw coming, yet she walked into.

And the timing could not be more ironic, at the time when work and his absence allowed her to take her mind off him, the death of Chief Medicae Mohmar placed her closer than she ever could be to Valaruz 17th.

"Ughh..." the male before her groaned, causing Ally to jump and reached to his side, her hands clutched his arm gently, "You're awake."

He tried to rise, his hand held to his head, grimacing in pain, ", maaa..." he had trouble speaking, "Fuck," he finally managed, "Where the hell am I? How long was I out?"

He was displaying normal cognitive abilities, allowing her to breathe a sigh of relief.

He squinted in the dark room, "Ally? Is that you?"

"Yes," she replied, "You can relax, you're in the're fine. There are some Tyranid toxins left lingering in your system, and your heart and liver are weak, it'll be.." she glanced to the time, "…about two hours before we can safely prepare you for a dialysis."

"Ah shit," the Assassin relaxed laying back down, "Yeah, it's all coming back now. It's that fucking Lictor, pressed me deep into the snow in that valley. Got a good cut or from that tumble off the cliff," he groaned still, "Not that Nids are that heavy to begin with anyway, lifted it like a good push-up," he spoke with his forearm blanketing over his eyes, drawing steady breaths.

"Most won't survive such encounters, especially with such heavy use of Adem" she reprimanded, "I've read the flash report, the Emperor was with you."

"The Emperor had nothing to do with it, love," he smirked in pain, his statement causing her undue discomfort with the knowledge of him under the microscopic attention of the Inquisition, "You do know you're suspended, don't you? The Ordo Sicarius is going to draw out an extensive investigation on your actions on Xesxes. Many speculate that it won't be a simple inquiry, there have been rumours about this being a political agenda amongst the High Lords of Terra."

"Nothing new, it seems," he lamented, ignoring her subtle reprimand entirely, "Those imbeciles will continue biting each other's arse for as long humans exist. And even if this will lead to the dissolution of the Assassinorum's seat, so be it. Whatever that will happen is just a matter of time."

Medicae Ally understood his point although she realized such callousness could expedite his demise, "You have really lost faith in the Imperium, haven't you?"

"Faith? Hundreds of thousands still die daily and Aliens keep eradicating our planets one after another no matter how far we thought we've beaten them back. Meanwhile, here we are, butchering our own men just because the idiotic few who occupy the great Terra round table has little else to do other than discussing the myriad ways to kill us. Just so the rest would perpetually dream of the Emperor in their shit holes." he cooed amusingly, as if he had repeated himself countless times, "But not that it matters anyway, as long as I'm allowed my quarterly pass, indulge in the material world and be in the company of beautiful women," he winked tiredly at the Medicae, "...then I'd happily kill anything the Imperium asks me to."

"That's it?" Ally tried to mask her anger, "That's all you live for? As a mercenary?"

"Perhaps..." he smiled dismissively, he pondered for a moment, his smile slowly fading, "It used to be all about the action though."

Ally was taken aback, the Assassin rarely spoke of things in the past tense, "'Used to be?' How do you mean?"

"By being different?" The Assassin seemed to be placing some thought, before he grimaced, "Ouch..." he suddenly grabbed his head, "It bloody hurts when I try to think," he closed his eyes, frowns cracked all over his face, "Hand me some painkillers if you will sweetheart."

"No," she responded immediately, "Your body is flooded with toxins and sedatives, anymore and you'll destroy your liver and give you a heart attack."

"I'll be no better in this pain," his state seemed to worsen, "Go get Moh', I need a second opinion," Valaruz 17th always refered to Medicae Mohmar as Moh'. Ally narrowed her eyes.

"He's dead," she said coldly.

Valaruz 17th stopped his fidgeting, "Really? When?"

"Couple of days ago," Ally scratched her head irritatingly. "You don't need a second opinion, the only thing you need is sleep,"

"Has the Temple already incapacitated your brains? How the fuck am I going to sleep with this fucking headache?"

"FUCK YOU," Ally snapped.

The Assassin paused, seemingly taken slightly aback with her behaviour. However, a coy smile slowly surfaced, "I know, you've been waiting on me haven't you?" His chagrin wide, "How long has it been since we've fucked?" He leaned forward to touch Ally's arms, only aggravating the Medicae.

"You think everything is about you, don't you? You narcissistic asshole. Do you have any idea what I've gone through?" her voice trailed with emotion, "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT THE WHOLE TEMPLE HAS GONE THROUGH?"

The Assassin's smile faded.

"The Inquisition is lurching the temple left and right, the Father and the Assassinorum Tactica are working day and night to support your defence and here you are with parading your ignorance and immaturity,

Mohmar died after a security breach. A candidate attempted escape, injured a dozen and killed him along with another two.

Now, with him gone, Ira and possibly the whole fucking temple would try to kill my patients. Just because they're fucking bored.

The whole Temple is about to collapse, 17th, if you still have not realized. The Inquisition will find fault in something...ANYTHING...and you will be the first to go if you don't get your shit together."

"Indeed, very interesting," he replied, "But I don't see how any of your wonderful speech is going to cure my headache."

"Fuck you," Ally almost whispered, "FUCK YOU," she screamed, hurling the dataslate on her hands against the foot of the Assassin's bed, smashing it to pieces.

The Medicae walked towards her office, anger pounding in every rapid step. She was mad, furious, frustrated…tired at tall the crap that she has been going through. Her patients were not getting any better, Valaruz 17th was an asshole and it everything seemed like a nightmare that she wanted to just wake up from.

Her hands were inches from her door when her personal vox rang,

"Oh...!" it was the shriek of a familiar female's voice, throwing the Medicae into a state of intrigue, "It warms my heart knowing that my intuition is right, that someone does care for the pretty little thing and it turns out to be you. How are you this evening, dear Medicae?"

Ally did not know how to respond to the woman, her voice was familiar as she tried matching the voice to a face.

"I have to apologize for disrupting your evening. I have tendencies to be inconsiderate during stranger times, as you would remember from our previous appointment for my embarrassing sexual problem."

"Yes, Lynn," she finally remembered, the image of what she would define as a slut appeared before her – the Munitions Instructor, "I know you," her intrigue turned into annoyance, "What do you want?"

"Ah, I'm guessing either you're in a bad mood or I did not leave too well of an impression." she pouted, "Well, either way, it has become somewhat of a common avenue that women have a certain distaste over me. I have learned that it is universal that no woman would enjoy being in the company of another woman who is much more sexually gifted. Lest jealousy and envy manifest when male attention are robbed from them. Lieutenant Dessler notwithstanding. He certainly is intelligent, I'm thinking a girl like you would be exactly his cup of tea."

Annoyance began to lunge on the Medicae's patience.

"Just so you know, I have long passed on when it comes to the affairs of men, but this one is certainly not your typical male as I'm sure you've noticed. His ways have, in some way, rubbed off on me," she chuckled, enjoying her own puns, "It's too bad that he could not last, just about when euphoria was about to kick in. But what can I expect? A rat is a rat. When skin begins to flay, not even the meanest, toughest son of a bitch could resist."

Flay? Horror slowly creeping upon her, "Wha...?"

"And a tough rat the Lieutenant was, didn't really scream as loudly and long as I hoped he would. Should have considered giving him other drugs to keep him from passing out, would have prolonged my enjoyment..."

Ally was dumbfounded, caused by twisted confusion and fear.

"Oh, darn," the twisted Instructor pouted on the other end, "I didn't tell you what happened, did I. See? In a planet quite far away, there was this family of rats, of nature was to spread deadly plagues across the lands they trot– spreading disease so dangerous, at one point, an entire colony of men was wiped out.

Then there were these cats. Special cats. Natural hunters, of duty was to eradicate the existence of pest and vermins. So these cats begin their hunt, searching in every nook and cranny for these rats.

There one of little rats, the smartest of them all, whom did not want to die by having his guts ripped off by the aggressive hunters. He wanted to live. So knowing that they would eventually get caught, he went into cahoots with his hunters. He parlayed, giving up his entire family to the cats on a platter, hoping that the cats will spare his filthy, miserable life."

"WAIT...!" Ally tried to interrupt, she had no indication the point in any of these.

"And nice and friendly they were while his family were being rend to pieces. The double-crossing rat got what he wanted. He was granted a free pass from being chewed between the hunters' teeth. Furthermore, they sent him to be trained, giving him opportunity to be an owl, a hunter! But a rat is a rat! They should stay in their holes and feed on carcasses and wastes like the pests they are!

But they never learn, do they? When a rat wants to grow a pair of wings, can he gnaw them off the predators? NO. The predators will turn and fucking rip his head off from his scurry lil body."

"WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?" Ally screamed, "WHERE IS HE?"

"Oh, you should have been here. Oh, wait, you could. I'm just not sure you'll be able to take all the blood and his sweet screams."


"Why?" she cooed, "Because babe, I've been around. And men are vile creatures... most true for Lieutenant Dessler. A rat of a rat, a double-whammy, sorry excuse of a man.

And all women should be natural allies. I'd tell you to beware of Lieutenant Dessler, but instead, I've taken the liberty to do all mankind a favour. Scum like these are reserved for hell...come down to the Junction Chamber, we can watch him slowly bleed out till death."

Ally's thoughts were blocked for three full second, before she switched off the vox cast. Her eyes scanned the room for anything sharp...there was scalpel, needles, a hammer. No, she ran towards her desk and opened a drawer, hurled out all documents to retrieve a standard laspistol. She opened another drawer and removed a Field Medicae kit...Her hands held on to them dearly and dashed madly out of her office.

She hoped she could make it to the Junction Chamber in time.

It was a long, dark corridor...

Lights flickered with steady, rhythmic beats of water drops echoed in the mouldy tunnel. An irregular set of footsteps disrupted the tempo, lapped over with the sound of heavy breathing that sent rodents scurrying away into the darker recesses of the wretched, putrid sewerage.

Wastewater soaked into her shoes, adding weight to her already tired feet. The Medicae ran with heart pumping furiously, her mind keeping her body functional to reach the destination. It was a push by her protective instinct, by her sense of duty. To prevent another death, to prevent another murder. She was sick of all of these, she was sick of the Temple.

For repentance. She reflected the cruel words and impatience that she had inflicted on Koch, when all he had done was to assist her in making medical decisions for Valaruz 17th.

Here, she stopped, catching her breath before she forced herself to open the door, to whatever horrors that await her.

Her hand twisted the broken knob, pushing the heavy door inwards.

Soft shadows danced across her eyes, the dim room humid and stuffy. The smell of fresh, coppery blood greeted her.


Her nude, compact, curvy body glistened heavily in sweat with her back facing the Medicae. Her head turned slowly. Her hands, pelvis and thighs were stained with blood, not far away on the ground was a scalpel.

Ally felt sick in stomach.

Koch lay still and unmoving on a concrete naked, with hands and feet bound. Blood dripped down the uneven slab to form a small pool of thick red.

"Ah, and here you are..." the demented Instructor greeted her coldly, "...a Medicae's assessments would be most fitting today."

"Why...?" Ally grimaced in horror, shaking her head, "WHY?"

Lynn merely cast a smug smile at the Medicae, merely shrugging.

"WHAT DID YOU DO?" she moved, circling cautiously around the Munitions instructor to get to Koch. Her laspistol tucked behind her, veiled underneath her overcoat.

The wicked woman brought her bloody hand close the her face, the tip of her tongue stuck out, lightly tasting the blood on her index finger, "A you and me...of course," she chuckled, "I'm amazed though, how strong that Sildenafil is. All it took was a sharp blade, a little skinning around the base of his shaft, massive amount of friction...and the skin'll slip right off."

"I never asked for any of these!" Ally yelled as loudly as she could, about a dozen feet away from Koch, "What did he do?"

"You're painfully ignorant, aren't you?" madness cackled out of her bloodied lips, "The universe has no place for naivety or compassion," she pouted, "It is the innocence that drive idiots like you to their doom," she smiled, "Take this one for example, I've rid the Imperium another lying motherfucker before he could hurt anyone."

"YOU'RE INSANE," Ally spat, her distance between the Jopalli and her began to lessen, "I'M GETTING HIM OUT OF HERE."

The female lieutenant lost her manic cheer, sighing while scratching her neck frustratingly, "You don't get it..."


"THIS. WORTHLESS. PIECE. OF. SHIT. IS A RAT!" the instructor's shrilled back, "HE'S A SCOUR TO THE IMPERIUM."

Ally slowed down...she was almost there.


ASK HIM HOW HE GOT HERE!" Lynn began to pace towards the Medicae.

The advance of the instructor halted Ally. In panic, with one hand, Ally clumsily reached to her back and drew out the laspistol. Her arms shaking, pointing the weapon at the nude woman, "STOP."

The Instructor scowled, squinting at the weapon in disbelief, before she cackled into laughter, "HAHAHAHAHA, the nice Medicae is going to shoot me!" she laughed out sarcastically, unfazed at the Medicae, "How cute," she took another step forward.

Ally pulled the trigger and deliberately miss-fired to serve Lynn a warning. Lynn stopped in her footstep in return.

"COME NO FURTHER!" Ally screamed

"DUMB BROAD!" she hailed liked a banshee, teeth bared and feet picking up to a sprint towards the Medicae. Her lean athletic body pumped with menacing and murderous intent.

Ally let off a wail, screaming before she fired another shot. But the mad instructor still moved forward. Ally squeezed the trigger again. This time the las-round whirred and burned right through the Lynn's torso. It burned, and it was evident through Lynn's face. Her movement slowed to a stagger with legs began to limp. Her anger seemed to have melted away, replaced with agony as she struggled and gasped for air.

Her belly trembled violently, a vital organ might have been struck that her whole system was thrown into mutiny. The pretty face degenerated into a visage of a phantom, the pain would be unbelievable.

Ally watched the instructor's knees crumbled to the grainy floor, her voice mangled by the pain. The Medicae froze, she could not believe that she opened fire on a staff member of the Temple.

Ally's fingers loosened, the laspistol slipped from her grasp and dropped on the floor.

"What have I done?" Regret immediately enveloped her heart, she began choking in fear. Her whole world appeared to be collapsing. She had killed one of her own. The image of the Temple descending on her like vultures had her trembling down to her boots. Her eyes darted left and right, head peering at all four corners as she were a trapped rat.

"Me…medicae Ally," she was startled by a whimper, her head turned towards Koch. His chest was still moving, taking in air, "UGGGHhhhh…!" Koch tried to suppress his pain.

She slowly picked up her feet, and then sprinted to the side of the Jopalli. Her trained eyes immediately scanned his body for injuries. There were numerous puncture wounds all over the body. They were probably needles judging by the number of needles littering around Koch. Her eyes moved to his lower body, where blood was oozing out from his bloodied penis. A chunk of skin on the shaft had been removed, exposing his flesh to the air. As the most sensitive muscle of the whole body, with the Instructor's claimed torture method, it would be dreadfully painful that anyone would just pass out. Albeit the anguish however, it was not a critical wound. The savagery however, was likely to be extremely traumatizing.

"Koch…Koch," tears were flowing out of her eyes naturally, she quickly worked the bonds that were holding him down.

"Arghhh…." Koch cringed painfully, clenching his teeth together, taking in quick, rapid breaths, "Is she dead?" he asked while Ally was untying the last of the ropes.

Ally turned her head around to confirm, "No…not yet. She might be unconscious, but she is still breathing."

"Give her morphine…and induce sleep. Then patch her up. She…must not die." The Jopalli summoned every ounce of focus that he had, "My injuries are superficial, and I wasn't drugged," He groaned as he tried to move his legs, "Leave a morphine syringe and a blanket with me, I'd administer myself."

Ally opened her aid kit and did as she was instructed, "What's happening Koch? Why is this happening?" her hands were trembling.

Koch did not reply as his hand gestured for the syringe, "Apparently I have offended the Instructor," he said simply, grimacing.

"Why?" Medicae Ally lowered her gaze to a scowl, "Don't you know any better than to provoke the temple's staff?" She nearly screamed, "What are we going to do now? The Temple is going to have our heads!"

"Mmmph…!" He jabbed the syringe into his thighs, injecting the dose of morphine, "Calm down, Ally. Our priority is to preserve the Instructor's life."

"Yes, you've told me that! What then? The Instructor will report to Father Ozmattix. She will not rest until we are dead!" Ally was immensely frustrated, grabbing onto her hair.

"Then that will not come to pass," Koch bit his lower lip, waiting for the drug to cloud over the pain, "Where are we now?"

"We…we're at the temple…" Ally looked confused.

"No, here…this room specifically," he looked to be more and more relieved.

"This is the junction chamber, situated below ground. It's the chamber that houses the central node for telecommunication and electricity lines." Ally responded.

Koch lifted his body upwards and scanned the room for almost a minute, appearing to be engrossed in thought before saying, "We leave her here."

Shock overcame Ally's face, "What? NO!"

"Listen to me," Koch's hand reached out to grab Ally's arm, "It's the logical choice," his determined eyes stared right into Ally's, "You WILL sustain her, then we leave her here until we figure out the next step. The chances of being discovered are low, else the instructor would not…" Koch paused uncomfortably, "…would not have chosen this location to stage her torture."

"You're not serious about this…" Ally shook her head disbelievingly.

"WE HAVE NO TIME, ALLY," Koch yelled as he shook the Medicae, his face reeked with desperation, "YOU HAVE PULLED THE TRIGGER. THE DEATH PENALTY IS ON YOU ALLY, SO MAKE A DAMN CHOICE."

Ally's face turned to ash. Koch was right.