Alygias was annoyed. He was not annoyed because of the giant gun pointed at his head. He was not annoyed that his supplier had betrayed him. He was annoyed that he had blundered into this stupid trap in the first place. He expected his lord would be equally piqued if he got his brains blown across the walls. Such was life though.
"No funny business sorcerer," the creature holding the gun, or rather extruding the gun as the thing appeared to be a member, although an unusual member, of the Obliterator Cult and thus could reform his body to produce the weaponry he needed. The unusual bit came from the fact that while the man was clearly a Space Marine he bore none of the flesh blending features of a "normal" Obliterator, as if any servant of Chaos could be considered normal, per se.
"Oh, I can assure you that with that multi-melta pointed at my head any business we will do shall be in no way funny," Alygias says dryly.
"Told you, he funny," a lilting, off kilter voice says from above Alygias. Looking up, he finds the Raptor that had been following him since he made landing on this world, its talons allowing it to perch precariously atop a nearby post. While not as unusual as the strange Obliterator, the Raptor was a tad more slight than normal, and the jump packs were not the kind normally favoured by the Raptors.
"Ah, the chirping bird that has tried my patience for the past week is the source of my woes. How ruefully unsurprising," Alygias says with a sigh. "I should have fried you earlier."
"Shut it sorcerer. Now, we're going to play twenty questions, and if either I or my friend here doesn't like your answer, you turn into just another smear on the wall. Now, first question: what are you doing here on Anachronous?" The Obliterator asks gruffly.
"Conducting research," Alygias says in a tired fashion.
"Research, huh? Involves slaves then?" The Obliterator asks.
"Yes, lots of them. I don't see you holding up anyone else in the markets," Alygias says sardonically.
"You picky. Picky, picky, smell the slaves and don't like them, start sniffing around where you not wanted," the Raptor accuses.
Looking between the two, Alygias says, "So it's you two I should be talking to then."
"We might have what you want, or we might just have other business that you're nosing into sorcerer. Now for the important question, will there be more? More like you, looking in places you're not wanted?" The Obliterator demands.
Sighing, Alygias simply shakes his head and says, "No, my research is my own, and there are few, if any, others out there that would want to duplicate it."
"You're the only one?" The Obliterator demands.
"Yes," Alygias says wearily.
"Why?" The Obliterator asks.
Exhaling deeply out his nose, Alygias says, "That is a complex question the demands a complex answer. Why am I the only one, or why am I doing what I am doing?"
"The latter answers the first, so tell me," the Obliterator says.
"It's good to see that not everyone is an idiot these days. Fine, I am working on a grand project for the glory of my god Tzeentch, trying to take evolution to its next, logical step," Alygias explains.
Spitting, the Obliterator says, "Damned sorcerer, knew you were a worshipper of that schemer just by looking at you."
The motion to spit turned the Obliterator to the side, revealing markings on his armour that showed him to be aligned with the Plague God, Nurgle. This was utterly bizarre as not only did the Obliterators serve no single god, but the man looked like dirt had a natural aversion to him.
Seeing Alygias' askew look, the Obliterator growls, "I'm an asymptomatic disease carrier, perhaps the sickest joke Nurgle has ever played. My blood's got enough contagions in it to wipe out a small hive despite the fact that I look like I shower in disinfectants regularly. Incidentally, since I form all of my ammo out of my own flesh and blood, getting shot by me will give you a real bad day. Happy now that you know my life story?"
"Quite. In any case, the reason I am seeking pre-adolescent humans acquired in raids and not bred here in the Eye is not because I am a perverted Slaaneshi, but rather because I seek to unravel the designs of Tzeentch with regards to the human genome, so that I might play my part more effectively," Alygias explains.
Both the Obliterator and the Raptor look at him without understanding.
Sighing, Alygias says, "I seek to better understand the corruption and mutation perpetuated by my god, but to do that I first must understand what is being corrupted and mutated. Thus I need fresh, clean specimens."
"Why young; why alive?" The Raptor asks.
"Because unlike the idiots in charge, I do not appreciate waste," Alygias says contemptuously. "When my initial studies are done, I find that pre-adolescents are quite a bit easier to turn into useful servants of Chaos than teenagers or adults. Especially with my talents."
"Who are you?" The Obliterator asks suspiciously.
Taking a slow and shallow bow, Alygias says, "Alygias the Flesh Weaver, in the flesh, so to speak."
Snorting contemptuously, the Obliterator says, "Bullshit. Last that I heard, Alygias was dead at the hands of Lucius the Eternal."
"Fabius was particularly slow that day, but since he was only half-wrong and since I was half-right and thus flush with success, I was feeling in a generous mood and thus let him live. The slight of that annoyed him to no end, which is why he had that bounty placed on my head. Lucius nearly had me until he discovered that I wasn't paying attention to the fight, at which point he ran away in fear of actually dying permanently and began propagating that slanderous lie that he had absorbed me like all the other idiots trapped in his armour. Of course, since there was no way to prove such a claim, he never collected. I was quite happy however not to be chased my morons and let the rumours of my demise persist," Alygias explains.
"A… likely… story?" The Obliterator says, trailing off, not quite sure whether or not such a tale was believably or not.
"Oh come on, my other titles are Alygias the Picky and Alygias the Irate. I've punched more leaders of Chaos than any other man in the galaxy. I slugged Fabius Bile, I slugged Ahriman, I slugged Abaddon, I slugged Kharn…"
"Bullshit on that last one," the Obliterator points out.
"Okay, to say I slugged Kharn is a bit of an exaggeration. Rather post battle we both got amazingly drunk and I challenged him to a game of Shot for Shot. I got him quite good I must admit, but his follow up left me in a coma for a week. He was so amused by the fact that I, as a Tzeentchian sorcerer not only challenged him like that, but took the return shot without blinking that he forgot about me. He then got rather annoyed with his own men for being pansies in comparison and fortunately I wasn't moving at that point because he pretty much started killing anything that moved," Alygias explains with a shrug.
Pausing to consider this, the Obliterator says, "Actually, I did see him that one time. That actually does sound like something Kharn would do, from what I saw in the distance. Thankfully someone managed to shoot that damn hat off him before the massacre really got going."
"You punch lots," the Raptor comments.
Shrugging expressively, "I'm constantly surrounded by morons who far too often pay my bills, so I get annoyed a lot. Not enough to actually try and kill my employers, most of the time, but punching them in the face to remind them that they're paying me to do a quality job is simply the way I express my displeasure with their micromanaging."
"Micromanaging?" The Raptor ask, apparently more intrigued by the word than the actual context, but Alygias leaps upon the opening anyway.
"Abaddon was by far the worst, which probably explains why we're never getting back to Terra. The man, while charismatic on the surface and a sound leader, is a complete dithering idiot once you have to work close to him for any period of time. He seriously fails to get the big picture. The last time he hired me, it was to build him 'a force capable of conquering worlds'. Those exact words were what were written in the contract because I knew he would start dicking around if I didn't have that kind of latitude. I took twenty years and two-hundred fifty thousand applicants and produced a well organized force of a hundred thousand troops lead by a hundred expertly drilled and trained Space Marines, with fifty thousand support troops. That's a little less than a loss of a hundred thousand men in the process. Abaddon got pissed because when he heard that I had the best success rates for creating new Space Marines, he assumed that the three in four survival rate meant that if he gave me that many men to work with I would give him close to two hundred thousand Space Marines at the end. No! I get good results because I, unlike that hack Fabius, have standards! Three out of four of my subjects survive because I carefully screen twenty or thirty thousand men, not personally of course, before selecting the most promising four, and then I take my time. If Abaddon had hired Fabius, sure he would have had two or three hundred new Marines, but at the cost of hundreds of thousands. My way gives armies, not scraps to be crushed by Imperial armies!" Alygias rants for a time, to the amazement of his captors.
"Whoa… you've got to be Alygias, there's no way anyone else could be that pissed about things," the Obliterator says, suddenly lowering his gun in realization that he was pointing it at a man who had survived the Scouring of Prospero ten thousand years ago, give or take a few millennia for time in the warp.
"Incidentally, how did you survive punching Abaddon?" The Obliterator asks.
"Oh, I had a feeling Abaddon was going to be a dick at the grand unveiling, so I invited Kharn. I think my ability to punch morons in the face is granted by the gods, but the survival bit is all my own. Thus after Abaddon started ranting about how this wasn't what he had paid me for and going on and on about how this force would be useless in hauling the corpse of the Emperor off the throne, you know, his usual Tuesday speech, I punched him in the face and told him that it was what he paid for and if he didn't like it, tough. At that point Abaddon ordered my death, but then Kharn jumped in and called him an idiot. That kind of made everyone a little nervous, so I slipped away while everything was sorted out. Kharn eventually walked off with the army I built and used it to conquer an entire sub-sector before he ran it into the ground through sheer attrition. Abaddon wisely shut up after that and has been trying to get me to come back ever since, but I've told him that I'm not coming back until he actually proves he has a brain. My terms of proof involve the conquest of Cadia. I don't think I'll be working for him again anytime in the next ten thousand years," Alygias explains.
"You're very sarcastic, you know that?" The Obliterator says.
"Magnus the Red always told me that. I told him it was a coping mechanism to deal with the fact that I was surrounded by far too many idiots. After the little incident with the Space Wolves on Prospero and the Ahriman debacle, I told him that the only reason he wasn't being punched in his one eye was because of residual respect for him. His own sarcasm started to develop in full at that point from what I hear," Alygias says.
"How are you still alive?" The Obliterator asks.
"At this point, I am attributing it to Tzeentch having a very twisted sense of humour and the other gods sharing it to some degree. I can see that my hypothesis extends to Nurgle at least," Alygias notes while looking over the sparkling clean Nurgle Obliterator.
"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up at my misery, just like everyone else," the Obliterator says wryly.
"Can't be that bad, I mean if your bullets carry disease the way you say they do…"
"They do," the Obliterator interrupts.
"Err… right. Well, if they spread plagues and such, that must make you pretty valuable," Alygias points out.
"No, no not really," the Obliterator says with considerable weight on his soul. "I seem to cause advanced technology that I don't absorb to go haywire, something I attribute to one of Papa Nurgle's blessings. I can ride in a space ship so long as I don't get near anything important, like say the Enginarium, but smaller vehicles are all pretty much a no go, and I really annoy normal Obliterator Cult members, so they shoot at me on sight. Despite my best efforts, filth just slides right off me, so the Plague Marines pretty much shoot me on sight as well for being a heretic. Most other war bands have problems hiring me because one Obliterator really isn't enough, and I piss off half the pantheon since most Tzeentchian followers dislike me for the normal Tzeentch-Nurgle problems."
"Ouch," Alygias says in sympathy.
"Perry here is in pretty much the same boat. The other Raptors really hate her," the Obliterator says, jerking a thumb at the Raptor still perched above them.
"Her?" Alygias asks incredulously.
Taking off her helmet, the Raptor reveals distorted features blending human with avian to give rise to a distinctly aquiline face complete with the mouth partly blending with the nose to form a demi-beak and the eyes a brilliant golden-brown like a predatory bird. Despite all this, the features are still clearly feminine.
"I Seraphim before Chaos. Love fly. Kill many Raptors, become Raptor. Raptors angry, Perry not care. Perry fly," she says.
Looking between them, Alygias asks, "Okay… but this doesn't really explain why you decided to divert me here and then ask me all these questions about my work."
"Uh… well… you see… the thing is…" the Obliterator says while scratching his head in embarrassment.
"Orphans, we find, we hide, we home," Perry answers for him, preening at having got in a word before him.
"You… run an orphanage?" Alygias asks in disbelieving shock.
"We collect strays you could say, the ones like us, the ones no one wants, and mostly they're kids that managed to slip away from the slavers. They're smaller and can wriggle out of things easier. The slavers don't care much, the young aren't as valuable and without help they tend to be caught again in short order if they don't die first. We protect them, shelter them," the Obliterator explains.
"Why?" Alygias asks.
"Why not? Isn't Chaos supposed to be about freedom? Why can't we take in and shelter a bunch of kids instead of prey upon and abuse them?" The Obliterator asks bitterly.
Cocking his head to the side, Alygias smiles and says, "I have a business proposal then…"