This chapter was conceived after I marathoned Saki in two days, when I should have been taking care of other things (like my Azumanga Daioh fic). As my beta put it, this is so wrong that even reading it makes one feel ashamed...
WARNING: contains moe, shoujo-ai, Space Marines. If you are offended by any of the above, do not read.
It's For Your Own Good.
In the grim world of the far future, there is only war.
Leaning against the bookshelf, Hisa took a moderate sip of her favourite jasmine tea. She gave a small, devilish smile in anticipation of the spectacle that would soon unravel in front of her eyes; a spectacle that was inspired mostly by her own actions. She already knew that the new girl was something to behold, and she was anxious to see it again.
"I can feel you're really turned on", whispered Mako, her green-haired friend and acting vice-president of the club. "About the game, I mean", she added mischievously.
"Yeah, we really did hit it this time", answered Hisa, looking rather pleased with herself. "It's good to know that my instincts haven't failed me."
"'Your instincts had a good basis in statistics that time", mused Mako, adjusting her glasses and taking a look at the green table, where two girls — one with pink hair, the other with brownish — were sitting facing each other, calculating, feeling, reading from each other's eyes and movements. "That Miyanaga girl is really dangerous, making Nodoka pent-up and nervous like that."
"That's one of the reasons I'm so glad Miyanaga's here", Hisa nodded and took another sip. "We need to toughen Haramura up a little, she's been feeling a bit too relaxed lately with that combination of hers."
"I wonder, though... If she were facing some other opponent, would she feel the same as now?" Mako's smile widened a little.
"Good point. Oh well, we'll find out soon enough."
Saki was already concentrating, or at least doing her best. She had promised Nodoka she'll give it her all from now on, and she was going to keep her promise... But playing against an angel descended from heaven wasn't easy. Especially such a... well-endowed angel.
As usual, Nodoka played it cool, starting with building a formidable defence, but at the same time preparing an early attack, designed to test her opponent and possibly throw them off-balance. Saki wouldn't fall for it, though; it was still pretty standard set-up, no matter how perfectly or quickly it was executed. She'd seen much more aggressive openings from her family before, and this one didn't feel particularly threatening... The real danger loomed in the second line of Nodoka's elegant formation.
Nodoka's face was still, but far from being emotionless; her mouth was tightly shut, and her eyes were shining with a mix of concentration and... inspiration? Her delicate hand moved across the table to grab a single dice. Saki was following her movements eagerly, but remained focused on the table. Her excitement was rising, fuelling her senses and promising to take her to a new level of consciousness soon — if everything would go right.
She wanted to win. She would win. She'd promised.
Nodoka declared end of the phase.
"Waaaaah! Geroff meeeee!!!"
Mako and Hisa glanced towards the entrance of the spacey club room, vaguely curious about the kind of torture Yuki was practising on Kyotaro this time. Apparently, this time Yuki was hanging on her "husband's" back, arms and legs tightly wrapped around him; he was trying to get rid of her somehow, but the fact he was holding two large bags in his both hands wasn't helping.
"Yay! Go, Squiggy!", exclaimed Yuki with extreme glee, and held Kyotaro even tighter. "Make Yuki-sama proud! Advance!"
Kyotaro stumbled towards the President and her friend, moaned, and finally fell to the ground with a loud thud like a falling tree. Fortunately, he managed to fight his survival instincts and kept his hands — and bags — away from his falling body.
"Time to dismount!", announced Yuki, and jumped off the limp body of her ride. She then picked up the bags and brought them to an empty table at the back, skipping merrily.
Kyotaro stayed where he was, laying motionless for at least fifteen seconds. Then he sat up, gasping for air and trying to formulate obscenities at the same time.
"Hey, President!", announced Yuki, "I brought the new stuff you ordered! All plastics, and some glue and stuff."
"YOU brought it?!", shouted Kyotaro, finally raising to his feet menacingly.
"All right, all right, knock it off", Hisa waved her hand dismissively. "It's good you're so full of energy, but we have a match here, and it's getting interesting."
"Haaaaa?" Yuki had a long look at the table. "Cool, they're at it again! There will be bloodshed!"
"Yes, there will be bloodshed this time!", roared Kyotaro, approaching her menacingly, huffing like a (very lean) locomotive.
Yuki smiled brightly. "That's the real power of Waaaagh! you're displaying now! Keep it going, boy!"
Saki was feeling a bit nervous now; she was doing reasonably well, but she couldn't quite get the grasp on the flow of the game yet. Nodoka was such a good player! She did make small mistakes at times, but never allowed them to disrupt her plan, or Saki to take advantage of any of them. Saki could be in trouble by now, but she felt that Nodoka wasn't exactly in her best shape yet, either. She didn't show anything, but Saki knew that the angel's power was yet to be awaken. And strangely enough, she was anticipating it; this would make the game even more fun, and playing against awakened Nodoka was a sight worth losing a battle. Not that she meant to lose.
"Turn two, starting movement phase", she declared softly.
Her right hand hovered over the table for a brief moment, as if not sure what to do; but suddenly, she felt it. She felt the Flow for a brief moment, and it told her that something was not quite right. Nodoka was apparently aiming to use a small wooden area to get a foothold on Saki's side of the table, which would be a significant advantage in taking one objective guarded by a fortified squad of Warriors... But was it really Nodoka's plan? A small, clear area just behind Saki's artillery lines, one of many such places on any battlefield, suddenly started to look to her like a soft underbelly, waiting to be pierced by a well-aimed attack that would endanger a large part of her heavy support. She wasn't sure what Nodoka's plan was, but she was pretty sure that Nodoka was aiming at this particular spot, and that such an attack could spell disaster. This needed to be dealt with, and quickly.
Saki's hand unwaveringly moved to her Necron Destroyers — a squad she kept as a fast-reaction force, up to this moment pretending to be just another auxiliary light support. The hovering Destroyers quickly secured the area, moving swiftly over broken terrain. They probably wouldn't be able to fight off any serious surprise attack on their own, but this particular squad was accompanied by a particularly strong, melee-oriented Necron Lord: the second-in-command of her army. Even a very strong attack force executed by Sisters of Battle best elite backed up with an Act of Faith would have a hard time dealing with this, and even if they did win, Saki would have plenty of time to react before anything happened...
"Interruption", said Nodoka softly, making Saki's hair stand on the back of her head. Something was wrong... Even more wrong than before.
Nodoka reached across the table and put a small, sapphire token next to the Destroyers. "Act of Faith: Curse of the Machine God!"
Saki froze in confusion. Curse of the... Machine God? Was it... Oh no! This was sixth edition stuff, something she didn't really know from experience; when she had played with her family, the game was still back in the fourth edition. Hisa made sure that she would learn everything that's come up lately, but sixth edition stuff was not exactly new, and she must have missed some rules. Nodoka obviously analysed her perfectly; otherwise she wouldn't be trying to manipulate her into moving her Destroyers over broken terrain!
Saki shook the surprise off as quickly as she could. "Rolling Dangerous Terrain on 4+, re-rolling successes", she declared automatically, and reached for six dice — five green ones for the Destroyers, and one red for the Lord. She shook the handful of dice quickly and rolled, praying for high results; to her dismay, the green ones were showing 1, 1, 2, 5, and 6, and the red one was simply a 1. She re-rolled the 5 and 6, and she got a 5 and another 1. She imagined her Destroyers' hoverboards suddenly failing in mid-air, and their riders suddenly falling towards the sharp rocks, mechanical arms flailing aimlessly in panic...
"Four Destroyers down, Necron Lord takes a wound", announced Nodoka. "Rolling for consecutive damage for the Lord."
The next moment, Saki was looking, stupefied, at the dice Nodoka rolled; it was pretty clear that her Necron Lord did not have a soft landing. Actually, he took enough damage to be killed more than twice. Of course, his survival chances in this situation were slim to begin with...
Saki sighed. "No Resurrection Orb against this, right?"
"I'm afraid not, I still have almost full Faith Pool."
"Then I'm rolling for morale..."
A minute later, Saki could only helplessly look at her artillery, running towards her side of the table on its spidery legs in panic completely unfit for mechanical beings created only to kill. And it hadn't even taken a single hit!
Apparently, the angel has finally awaken.
"Miyanaga-san's left wing seems completely messed-up now", observed Mako from their auditorium by the bookshelf. "It's not over yet, but she's being badly beaten."
"Must've been painful, too", agreed Hisa. "That was a pretty dirty manoeuvre on Haramura's part. She says she plays by logic, but she sure knows how to analyse people's knowledge of the rules."
"Nodoka is just mighty good with those special powers!", exclaimed Yuki. "I don't use them that much myself, but she really likes them!"
"I wonder what Miyanaga's going to do, now", Hisa mused. "She looks a bit distressed, but she won't go down so easily... And she hasn't shown her true strength yet."
They all watched Saki moving her forces around in order to close the gap, and taking some random shots at Nodoka's advancing troops. A few Sisters died with Emperor's — or in this case, perhaps Empress'? — name on their lips, but aiming at them was surprisingly difficult; Nodoka used terrain obstacles perfectly to minimise her losses. Once Saki's shooting phase was over, things weren't looking too good for the Necrons.
"Oh look!", Kyotaro poited out, " Haramura-san is moving the Engines!"
Sure enough, Sisters of Battle's army suddenly shifted from the perfect defence line to an orderly, mathematically flawless assault. Penitent Engines advanced on their massive mechanical legs, accompanied by squads of Sisters in power armours, and Exorcist batteries aimed at weak points in Necrons' defence lines. Soon after, a hail of rockets hit the machines hard, pounding them harder into their improvised fortifications and preventing them from mounting any substantial resistance.
"It's over in the next turn", declared Yuki, looking both pensive and smug, which in her case was quite an accomplishment. "Nodoka-chan will have her Heavy Flamer squads in range, this will clear the path for the big things. Nobody can withstand her Engines when she has Celestine!"
Sure enough, a winged female figure, looking a bit like a miniaturised version of Nodoka herself, was clearly visible behind the assault forces; her sword was gleaming gold, catching rays of the afternoon sun, and her hair was flowing gently around her slender silhouette. One didn't need to know the rules to feel that no army can possibly lose with this being fighting on their side, urging them on and cleansing their souls of fear and darkness.
They heard Saki declare the beginning of her third movement phase. Surprisingly, she didn't seem distressed any more; she was alert, focused, almost mechanical, but at the same time they could feel her fiery aura quite clearly. Every one of them was eager to see her next move... but once it happened, their eyes widened in surprise.
Saki's troops formed clean, regular lines and left their breastworks, welcoming their attackers with open arms. Row after row, they stopped in front of the assaulting troops, gauss carbines at ready; swarms of Scarabs were buzzing around them, clicking their mechanical wings. Only their general, another Necron Lord holding a Resurrection Orb and geared for mid-range combat, stayed behind with a small retinue of Warriors to overlook their honourable but seemingly hopeless last stand.
"Has she lost their mind?", inquired Kyotaro. "She can't possibly think those Warriors will just kill everything!"
Mako nodded. "If there would be twice as many, then maybe... But why didn't she stay hidden behind the lines? It would at least improve her chances a little..." She narrowed her eyes, trying to get some clue from the battlefield, but didn't seem any wiser.
"Maybe she just wants to end it quickly", shrugged Yuki. "She saw she couldn't win, and decided to go with style?"
"That may be true", said Hisa slowly, her tea cup forgotten on the bookshelf, "but I don't really think so... She's not the type to give up now, with style or not."
"Maybe she's counting on 'I'll Be Back'", mused Kyotaro.
Yuki shook her head. "No way, she won't get more than half of them back, and they'll be crushed in Nodoka's next assault turn."
In the shooting phase, the Necron Warriors opened fire indiscriminately on the ranks upon ranks of advancing Sisters. Their deadly weapons indeed hit the enemy hard; the Sisters couldn't use cover effectively so close to the enemy, and their armours weren't providing much protection against the terrible barrage. Many of them fell on the spot, leaving open gaps in their formation; one Repentia squad was decimated, two Sisters squads were pinned, and one Dominion squad had a sudden case of common sense, and despite St. Celestine's commands decided to watch the battle from as far from the front as possible. Still, these losses were definitely not enough to break the assault; what's more, having fired their rapid fire weaponry, the Necrons couldn't assault this turn.
For a moment, Nodoka looked a bit displeased with the losses her beloved Sisters suffered, but apparently she didn't give it much thought; her Sisters kept advancing unless they were almost face-to-face with the mechanical horrors they were fighting, and raised their own hand weapons. A few dozen of boltguns aimed at the Necrons sprung to life, and covered the mechanical horrors with a hail of imaginary self-propelled bullets the size of small missiles. The Necrons were literally mowed down, falling to the ground en masse and in pieces; those that miraculously survived were covered with fiery clouds of heavy flamer templates, or taken down by melta fire. The remaining few were shredded to pieces by the hulking Penitent Engines in the following assault phase.
"So much for resistance...", murmured Mako. "I'm afraid she's done this time."
"It was a fun bloodbath though", commented Yuki, smiling brightly.
"She still has her Lord", observed Hisa, "he was protected by the ablative Warriors in the shooting phase, and he was out of their assault range. But let's see if Miyanaga can do anything with him. I mean, if they don't just Phase Out now."
"Hey, why didn't she assault with her Scarabs?", asked Yuki suddenly. "Making them just hover in the back makes no sense!"
Hisa nodded. "My thought exactly. I guess we'll find out soon, too."
Saki didn't seem moved at all by her apparent horrible defeat. She simply declared, "I'm rolling for 'I'll Be Back' now, Haramura-san."
Nodoka did not point out that calling for this rule was just delaying the end of the battle; she just nodded and leaned forward a little, almost touching the table with her large breasts.
Saki grabbed a handful of six-sided dice. "Resurrection Orb active. For the Necron Warriors squad one, twenty fallen...", she stopped to roll the dice and examine them briefly, "eighteen back up."
Nodoka didn't flinch; it was a very good roll of course, bordering on insanely good, but it didn't make much difference in the end; eighteen Warriors were still no match to her forces, and they would Phase Out anyway due to their side having been decimated.
Saki gathered her dice. " For the Necron Warriors squad two, twenty fallen...", she rolled, "nineteen back up."
This time, Nodoka looked at her with a visible hint of surprise; one such roll could be called fortunate, but two in a row were at least unexpected. Still, thirty seven Warriors were no more dangerous than eighteen.
"Necron Scarabs, squad one, nine swarms fallen... Nine swarms back up."
This time, even Hisa looked surprised; she looked at Mako, who was simply stunned, staring at the table with her mouth open with unspoken question or complaint. Hisa gave her a large smile, and was awarded by a rosy tone to Mako's cheeks.
They watched on, as Saki's Necron army was literally rising from the dead. Squads were reforming, imaginary dust was falling off discarded parts which were assembling back together as commanded by the Orb, and the fallen Warriors's eyes flickered to unlife. Sisters' forces looked like they were ready to break any time without any Morale tests; the same horror was getting more and more visible on Nodoka's face.
"Turn four, starting movement phase", declared Saki casually.
Not hindered by their fortifications, the Necrons did what they were most feared for: they advanced upon the Sisters like a wave of living steel, cold and silent like death incarnated. Discarding their shooting, they fell upon their helpless foes to engage them in close combat. Dark blades were jabbing, mechanical arms were crushing, wings were buzzing, and close-quarters firearms were decimating the Sisters despite their heroic defence. Penitent Engines fell, soon to be covered by a wave of walking metallic skeletons, and the Sisters who remained on the battlefield scattered like frightened pigeons, running towards their own edge of the table; St. Celestine was not among them.
No one in the room has uttered a word until the very end.
"Your playing style is really... surprising", said Nodoka softly, gripping the railing tightly with her pale fingers.
The two participants were just outside the club room, on a terrace overlooking beautiful gardens of the Kiyosumi High School's. Haramura Nodoka was standing near the edge of a terrace, while Miyanaga Saki was a few steps behind her, slightly rocking on her heels. They both looked very serious.
"I... I'm sorry, Haramura-san!", uttered Saki, taking a hesitant step forward. "I... I..."
Nodoka turned around swiftly, her gorgeous hair flowing behind and adding to her angelic beauty. "No, Miyanaga-san... I'm not angry, far from that. I'm... impressed."
Saki's eyes went a little wider, glimmering with a trace of hope. "You... really think so, Haramura-san?"
Her former opponent nodded. "Yes, I am. I can't deny that this was a bit... frustrating...", she slightly hung her head, "but it only means that I need to improve even more. And... I'm proud of you."
This time, Saki allowed herself an open, radiant smile. "Th- Thank you, Haramura-san! You, you shouldn't really, you were so good at the table... And this was really fun!"
Nodoka actually smiled, too. "Yes, I've had good fun, too."
Only now they noticed they were standing so close to each other that their breasts almost touched. They both blushed a little, but didn't step back.
"Next time, I'm gonna be the winner", declared Nodoka, looking directly in Saki's eyes.
"I... I'd like to play again, too", whispered Saki, not able to tear her eyes away.
As most people who've had a least a brief contact with Warhammer 40.000 might point out, some of the rules presented above are not in accordance with the real game. The reason is, Saki and Nodoka are playing Seventh Edition Warhammer 40.000, which is completely fictional at the moment (current edition is the Fifth, and it hasn't been around very long yet). It is so because I didn't want to limit myself too much with the rules, so I needed to have some control over them — Warhammer 40.000 is a pretty dull game to watch as it is now, and I wanted to present some flashy gaming. :) Don't worry, the changes will mostly be insignificant — I want to take a few jabs at the game too, so it would be pointless to change it beyond recognition.
In the next chapter: Kyotaro vs. Yuki! But it will only be written if I can see that you're interested, so please review!