And finally, here we are, last part of this story


Inquisitor Traela envied the Adeptus Sororitas. Fighting for the Emperor was simple for them. You found the heretic and then you purged it with fire. Simple, inelegant, and effective. If any of those battle-hardened Sisters realized how much paperwork went into the effectiveness of a planet-wide purging, they might renounce their vows and take up work as a joygirl for the sake of simplicity.

Taera was bent over her large wooden desk, electroquill scratching vigorously upon a scrolling bit of parchment in tune with her words. She held a large sheaf of casefiles before her, going through each one and handing out sentences as she deemed fit.

Every Guardsman, PDF, Arbites, and civilian who'd come into contact with Daemonic forces during the purging of the pleasure world Mannec was subject to a rigorous interrogation by her staff, some of them important enough to warrant a visit from her or one of the few other Inquisitors who'd been investigating this world before all Warp blew up.

The center of Victory City - an old name left over from the Crusades, when the reticent government of this world had been 'convinced' to join with the Emperor's cause - had ceased to be in a five-mile diameter. For weeks afterwards, a stable Warp rift had poured daemons into the surrounding environment. The brunt of the Guard stationed on this world (fortuitously, as they'd only been here waiting to be shipped to the front of the 14th Black Crusade) slowly ground the Slaaneshi daemons back. And now Traela was to make sure no corruption could spread into their ranks.

Traela was an aging woman, teetering just a few years shy of her eightieth year. Juvenat procedures had kept her features as crisp and beautiful as they'd been during her early thirties; she had the high, aristocratic features of the kind of woman one would usually see fawning at the arm of some watery-eyed official in most every peaceful Imperium-held world in the galaxy.

Peace. Traela sighed and closed her dark blue eyes, rubbing one of her hands over them. Fighting the peace was almost as bad as fighting the wars. Peace gave way to boredom, and then boredom gave way to the frakking nightmare that had descended on Mannec. Bored officials joining bizarre sex groups, bored youths joining violent hive gangs, bored politicians joining secretive divination cults. It all stank of the kind of stupid, banal evil that Traela had to deal with day-in and day-out.

She took a sip of water from a bowl before going back to her work. "Private Halk Spetzer. Wounded in combat by the daemon kind known as a Daemonette. Interviewed, shows signs of restlessness, increased libido, and a need to touch things." She didn't even need to think, speaking into her electroquill's grille as she passed judgment on Private Spetzer.

"Sentence: brain-scrubbing followed by initiation as a battle servitor." She tossed the bit of parchment on her OUT pile, which teetered almost as high as her IN pile. She continued through the lower ranks, passing out sentences as she went. Hard labor was the kindest she could be, and in some cases she would give the kindness of a swift death to the horribly mangled.

She straightened up with surprise as she came to a bit of parchment which bore the seal of the Captain of the local Guard himself. Traela had learned in her years as an Inquisitor that she got more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word or a gun, so she'd allowed the Captain - Emperor-damned if she could remember his name - to flag any cases he deemed unique or requiring further investigation. This was the first time she'd seen that privilege enacted.

She read the name aloud. "Sergeant Gav Smith, Ogryn Bone 'ead of the 25th Karanak Ogryn Auxilia." She meant to read the rest aloud, as well, but found herself leaning back and continuing on in silence. Well, she now knew the Captain was no fool. She'd expected him to either let her run rampant through his entire army or mark every man alive in the hopes of saving them.

This was indeed a special case, if the write-up was to be believed. An Ogryn single-handedly defeating a member of the Thousand Sons traitor legion and then defeating a Slaaneshi Greater Daemon with nothing but the help of a Sisters Repentia.

Traela brushed some of her silver-white hair from her face, standing up and leaning over her large desk. Warp-dammit, where was that thing? Papers fluttered to the floor as she sought out her communication hub, a bit of technology she'd been able to 'acquire' thanks to one of her group's excellent scrounging skills. With it, should could tap into pretty much any sort of communication available, either to call her personal assistant or the Captain himself.

"Merk, I'm going to need to speak to a few people. One through astrotelepathic means and the other locally." Her aide responded groggily, though promptly. Well, hell to him for sleeping. They could sleep when they were dead.

"You'll need to use my full weight as a Inquisitor to reach the first one. I don't expect an answer for some time. It will be a member of the Space Wolves Adeptus Astartes chapter, a novitiate named Grenlis. I'll also need to speak to the Captain of the local Guard unit, as soon as possible." She let the line die without listening for her aide's approval.

Looking down at the sheaf, she mused for a while. Ogryn Gav Smith. Besting two Daemonically-fueled entities and living to tell about it. Quite a valuable commodity, if the stories were to be believed.

Gathering the required information was the hard part, especially with astrotelepathy gone to hell as of late. With nothing more to do about Gav Smith of the 25th Karanak Auxilia, she set it down as the lone sheaf in her PENDING pile, before sitting back down and returning to her work.

"You know, you could have just called me yourself, Inquisitor. I know you can." Captain Stolt stood before her, his armor still broken and unpolished from the weeks of hard fighting he had endured. Like most from his planet, he was wide and muscled, with a shock of black hair over a surly and scar-ridden face. It was no wonder to Traela his regiment got on so well with Ogryn; they seemed to be not too far separated, evolutionarily speaking.

"Force of habit, I'm afraid." She chuckled and motioned to her gigantic pile of papers. "Giving it to my aide allows me to get this mess sorted out." Playing the stupid detective was a trademark of hers. You could grill a man when you needed to, but most of the time it wasn't required if you acted disarmingly ineffective at your position.

"At any rate," she said as she stood, picking up Gav Smith's sheaf before her. "Let's get to the point: this Gav Smith fellow. I'm quite surprised that the only person I find in this entire pile with your personal seal to be an Ogryn."

Captain Stolt remained visibly unaffected by Traela's doddering demeanor. He simply inclined his head in recognition. "Yes'm. Gav is a valuable asset to our regiment. He fights well, he can train his tribesman better than any other Bone'ead, and his faith.." Stolt smiled, something that looked remarkably feral on his scar-ridden face. "Well, it simply must be seen to be believed, madam Inquisitor."

That'll be the day, Traela thought. She'd ridden across the galaxy in her own personal ship, from planet to planet, and had seen every manner of so-called faithful servants of the Imperium turn on the Emperor. Ogryn were brutal and stupid, and their faith was the same way, so far as Traela was concerned.

"Well, that remains to be seen, Captain." She replied neutrally. "Let's continue. The report reads that this Ogryn defeated a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh alongside a Sister Repentia, name of Tarla." She let that hang for a moment, before continuing. "I don't suppose you witnessed this personally..."

Captain Stolt bristled somewhat, but held it in check. Traela hid her own smile of amusement with the practiced ease that came with years of dissembling.

"You know that I didn't. I was on the opposite side of the Chaos line, as my reports have stated."

"So..." She continued, "Was there a dead body when you arrived on the scene?"

Stolt looked like he could've hit Traela if he could. "Again, you know there wasn't, Madam Inquisitor. Daemonic corpses vanish after they are killed. Everyone above the rank of sergeant knows that."

She nodded. "All you have are the reports from some of the Adeptus Sororitas that there was a fading corpse of some stature when they arrived. And of course Gav's... spare testimony." She'd stopped herself from saying 'unintelligent', not wanting to upset Stolt to the point of being uncooperative.

"Madam Inquisitor, Gav wouldn't lie about something like that. Hell, I'm not even sure he knows HOW to lie." The exasperation showed on the Captain's face, a tiredness born of too many days without sleep and endless meetings of his sort. "If that Ogryn were a politician, he'd be the first honest one in the history of the Imperium 'sides the Emperor."

Traela could sense that this meeting was edging towards a shouting match, so she defused the situation with a smile and a wave of her hand.

"I don't doubt the honesty of Gav. I'm sure he reported what he saw. But when dealing with the Daemonic, what you see and what you remember isn't always what truly happened. Encountered with the Ruinous Powers tend to warp the thoughts and memories of those in close contact with them, and Gav has already faced Chaotic powers once before this." She held the sheaf of paper up. "Unless my reports are misleading."

Captain Stolt relaxed visibly and nodded. "Gav's a good soldier, and one of the smartest Ogryn I've had under my command. It would deal a real blow to our regiment if he were... retired." Stolt danced around the issue as any normal man under stress would have. Traela thanked him for his presence and allowed him to leave.

Pushing Stolt like that had yielded the results she'd been looking for. Gav had the confidence of his superior officers. Stolt hadn't been acting simply out of pity. What to do with this bit of information, that was the question.

A week after her meeting with the Captain, during a quiet moment following a rather good dinner provided pro bono by one of the local cafes, Traela received an urgent call from her aid.

Space Wolf Grenlis had received her astrotelepathic relay, and was standing by to directly liaison with the Inquisitor.

Her dinner ended immediately, and she moved to her desk. Though she had ostensible power over anyone in the Imperium, keeping a member of the Adeptus Astartes waiting wouldn't do well for her.

She thumbed the activation rune on her communication hub, and the three-dimensional pict feed whined as it began to power up. The lens atop the boxy arrangement flared to life and projected a fuzzy holo-image, no taller than her shin. She slammed her fist into the com-hub, bringing the image into greater focus.

The Marine was imposing even though he'd been shrunk smaller than herself. He stood before her in full armor, a great pelt of wolf-hide draped over his gigantic pauldrons. His face was youthful and unblemished, a great shaggy beard framing a pair of feral eyes. The holo-image's colors were washed-out, but she could make out the bright yellow on one of his pauldrons, framing the famous crest of the Space Wolves Chapter.

"Inquisitor Traela." Grenlis offered an incline of his head, but no more. "I heard that Ogryn Gav is in some trouble. How can I help?"

Grenlis had retold of the pacification of the holy world Caelis with the simple, straightforward honesty his Chapter was renowned for. They'd landed where the fighting was the thickest, and had battled their way towards the corrupted chapel where they'd found their job already done.

"The Ogryn's unit had apparently smashed through a section of the city lightly defended by the Sorcerer's minions. He'd sent most of them to fight us, giving Gav and his tribesman an easier time of it. When we got there, as you've probably read, we found him sitting on top of the dead Sorcerer, bawling like a newborn. Only thing we could get out of him was 'He killed Bob', over and over again."

"So you believed him when he said that he'd killed the Sorcerer?" Traela found herself pulled into the story, despite herself. She leaned over her desk, arms crossed and supporting herself below her chest, staring at this tiny simulacrum of a man who'd tower over her in real life.

Grenlis nodded. "We was badly burned over most of his body, and when we tried to pick him up, we found that most of his fingers were broken. Probably from the job he did to the Sorcerer's face." Grenlis grinned, showing off a mouth of unnaturally sharp teeth. "He'd smashed that bastard's face in until there was nothing but dust left."

Traela let that digest for a moment. The Captain she took with a grain of salt. He was only human, of course. But an Astartes was something else altogether. The only chapter more trustworthy about matters Chaotic than the Wolves were the Grey Knights.

"Thank you for your time, Grenlis. You've been most helpful."

Grenlis nodded, before making the sign of the Aquila. His image vanished from before Traela, leaving her with only her thoughts.

The last step in every special investigation was an interview with the subject. Gav had been discharged from the Medicae facility and was currently residing in a make-shift barracks that had been formed from one of the largest hotels on the planet. Seeing her interviewees on their own ground helped to relax them. Calling them in to some antiseptic room with a single light fixture tended to result in to many nervous breakdowns.

Getting in had been easy. She'd hardly noticed the servitor who'd greeted her at the door, noting that it looked marvelously new. Probably one of the most recent ones she'd signed over into mindless servitude. Oh, well. Green-eyed thing probably deserved what was given to her.

Removing herself from the elevator shaft, she watched as the activity of the hallways parted in her wake. Half-dressed Guardsmen quickly hurried back into their rooms and closed the doors, some of them dragging giggling joygirls along in their wake. Traela would have to talk to the Captain about such things. It wouldn't do to take chances on a world that had fallen to Slaanesh.

Finding room 594, she raised a hand and knocked briskly, taking a moment to straighten out her attire. She'd chosen a simple calf-length black overcoat over a skin-tight pair of pants and a blood-red shirt, a heavy Inquisitorial symbol hanging from her neck, nestled in her cleavage. She'd kept herself in good condition, and it helped when she went undercover. Besides, she knew for a fact that life was damn short, so she might as well flaunt it while she had it.

The floor quaked with what sounded like the approach of a Titan, before she heard a fumbling at the latch.

The door open, and Traela found herself staring up at Gav Smith, Bone 'ead of the 25th Karakan Ogryn Auxilia. The Ogryn's one good eye regarded her with a mixture of mild confusion and innocent interest.

"Help you?" He asked in a deep baritone voice, a bit of spittle nestling on her cheek. She wiped it away without thinking.

"Sergeant Gav, my name is Traela. I'd like to speak with you about a few things. May I come in?"

"Yarp." He nodded once, before opening the door and trying to move out of her way. "Mind the mess, miss."

Mess was a bit overboard. A few old cloths hung on a line hastily hammered in to hang across the room, a gigantic cot taking up fully half of the otherwise pristine room. Gav went and sat on the edge of that cot, looking at Traela with that same mixture of confusion and innocent interest.

"This'n be about Tarla, innit?" He spoke. "Dey been askin me after her for weeks." Well, he was far and away more intelligent that his kinsmen, even those with the Bone 'ead operation. A point in his favor, but this scrum ball match wasn't over quite yet.

Traela had found her conversation with Gav to be enlightening and, in places, wholly surprising.

It was true what Stolt had said about Gav's faith. It was child-like and innocent, strong in its simplicity. Even when he was speaking of the horrible death of his friend Bob or the worse fate of Tarla (Traela felt no pang of regret about her thoughts earlier, unable to connect Tarla to the green-eyed servitor she'd met at the entrance), the Ogryn always noted that it must have been in the Emperor's plans for them to die.

"Dey woulda lived if'n the Emperah wanted 'em to. But I guess 'e wanted t' talk to 'em hisself." He nodded with conviction, before reaching up to rub the stump where his left arm had been.

"Gav, what about the daemons you fight. How do you feel about them?"

The Ogryn balled his one good hand into a fist and grunted thickly. "I hates them demon things. They killed Bob, and they turned Tarla into..." Gav couldn't find the words to describe it. What had happened to Tarla had come as close as anything would to shaking his faith in the Emperor. He hadn't been out of his room for weeks for fear of running into her and breaking down all over again.

"When you fought the Keeper of... the four-armed daemon, what was going through your mind, Gav? What can you remember?" Traela leaned forward somewhat, looking up intently at that simple creature.

Gav leaned back in his cot, his face screwing up with effort. "I remembuh... I felt... hot... like I was burnin' up. The colors... the colors o' da world were brightah... but I was angry, too..." He nodded with certainty. "Dat thing made funna Bob. I wanted to peel its head." Traela jumped as Gave brought his titanic fist down onto his knees. "Peel it like'a potatah... like me an' Bob usta do..."

Traela laughed. "Good for you, Gav. That's the right way to feel about demons. Do you still feel hot sometimes? Do the colors around you still seem bright?"

Gav laughed and shook his head. "Naw... though I sometimes get hot when dey turn up da heat at night..."

Traela nodded and stood. "Thank you, Gav. I think that will be all." She made the sign of the Aquila. Gav tried to return the gesture, but remembered that he didn't have that arm anymore.

Traela often found that when something seemed to be simple on the face of it, oftentimes something would come along to send you all the way back to square one. As she exited the hotel and walked the short distance towards the building currently housing most of the top IG brass and herself, she felt her comm pad shaking at her belt. Pulling it free, she looked down to see the aging face of her counterpart from the Ordo Malleus, one Stran Threenus.

"I hear you've been visiting abhumans today. Wouldn't be that Gav Smith, would it?" Stran's voice was congenial on the face of it, but Traela could sense that he was here to complicate her life.

"Just left, in fact. On my way back to HQ." She offered no more than that, hoping her attitude would tell Stran to piss off where she couldn't. Though they held the same rank and held no authority over one another, Traela knew to tread lightly where her fellow Inquisitors were concerned.

"And what is your conclusion about the blunt?" Stran wouldn't be deterred from being a nosy bastard, of course, so Traela resigned herself to whatever the man had in mind that would make her day harder.

"He's untainted, so far as I can tell. His Captain vouches for him, and I've got corroborating evidence from Adeptus Sororitas and a member of the Space Wolves. I was considering sending him back to his unit."

"Ah... yes. Shame. I was hoping I wouldn't have to do this." Stran didn't look as if this bothered him in the least. "I received a transmission from a member of our chamber militant. I'm sure you've heard of them..."

Stran continued, heedless of any response Traela had been mustering.

"I've informed them of the Ogryn Gav Smith's encounters with the Ruinous Powers. It is in their educated opinion that he is too great a risk to be allowed to rejoin his unit. The taint of two Great Powers are likely within his veins."

"I just spoke to him, and he seemed-" Stran held up a hand to forestall her.

"I have no authority over you. But the Grey Knights are another matter entirely. I wish you no ill will, Traela. For the good of yourself, do not put that Ogryn back in his or any other Guard unit. Turn him into a servitor, set him free on the planet. I don't care. But disobey a command from the Grey Knights at your peril."

The line went dead. Had it not been for the expense of that comm-pad, Traela would've smashed it against the cobblestone street.

It wasn't like she cared for the Ogryn. Traela hated being used, and hated it especially when that usury came from people who were supposed to be on her side.

Traela was in a foul mood as she sat behind her desk, that sheaf of paper held out before her.

A simple signing of the bottom line could end Gav's life by a bit of poison. Another signature could turn him into a powerful battle servitor. And another could discharge him from the Guard with full benefits, leaving him on this planet as they went off to face Abaddon Thrice-Damned.

None of the options on that sheaf of paper seemed to fit. Killing or mind-scrubbing Gav was a waste of good talent. Any Ogryn that could face a Chaos Sorcerer and a Greater Daemon, even with help, was a greater asset than any battle servitor.

Discharging him seemed like the best option of the three, but even that one set her teeth on edge. For one, the feeling of usury rankled every time she looked at that little signature line. For two, Gav seemed so damned eager to get back at the front line.

She'd seen many normal humans after a great loss like Gav's Tarla. Most of them were listless in their devotions, a deep feeling of abandonment settling over them. A few outright renounced the Emperor. Gav seemed impervious to such things, eagerly looking forward to the day when he could 'serve dah Emperah again.'

Keeping Gav useful but maintaining her own autonomy became top priority to Traela. She would not be dictated to, but she wasn't about to piss in the face of the Grey Knights by going against their will.

The answer came to her as she poured her third glass of amasec. It hit her like the force of a Daemonhammer, and with a grin she signed Gav's discharge papers.

"L... Leavin'?" Tears were welling in the Ogryn's big brown eye as he stared down at the stamped bit of paper.

The Guard had been his life. He'd fought beside Arry and Bob, then beside Tarla. He'd seen so many other friends fight and die for the Emperor. This was his life, and now Traela was sitting behind her desk and telling him that he wasn't going to be a Guardsman anymore.

Traela held up a hand and patted the Ogryn's larger mitt. "You've served the Emperor well, Gav. But your ten years were up a long time ago." She didn't want the giant Ogryn bawling in the middle of her office.

"But... I dun't wanna leave. Wot am I gonna do fer dah Emperah now?" Gav felt scared, really scared for the first time in his life.

This was a mistake, it had to be a mistake. The General wouldn't let this happen.

"Did I do sumthin' wrong?" Tears flowed freely now. "Cuz if I did somethin' wrong, I can jus' go to th' church and ask fer forgiveness and-"

"Gav." Traela's voice was calm and reassuring. She stood up and smiled her most ingratiating smile. "Just because you're leaving the Guard doesn't mean you've stopped being useful to the Emperor."

Gav could only stare at her in worried confusion. Traela pressed on.

"I do a lot of good work for the Emperor, all around the galaxy. My work is small, but it's very important. Sometimes it's very dangerous, and I need someone to protect me."

She picked up another bit of paper and held it out to Gav.

"You can serve the Emperor again. By signing this bit of paper, you will be the personal bodyguard to an Imperial Inquisitor." She waited for a moment, then added. "You'll be my personal bodyguard, Gav. You'll protect me so I can do the Emperor's work around the Galaxy."

Gav didn't know how to sign his name. So he just put a big, shaky X where his name should go.

Traela smiled and took the bit of paper back. "Very good, Gav." She folded the slip of paper and tucked it into one of her drawers.

Gav felt a weird tingling in his tummy. The world seemed to be rushing at him, making him dizzy. This was all happening too fast, and yet...

Gav had heard Arry talking about Inquisitors a long time ago. He'd said that they were some of the biggest heroes in the Imperium, that they could make sure entire worlds kept loving the Emperor, all by themselves.

Traela seemed too small to be so important, but if Arry said it, then it must be true.

Traela buzzed her aide into the room, the small man nervously edging around the Ogryn to stand before his boss.

"See to it that this Ogryn gets the best prosthetic arm possible. I want it to be able to hold some kind of gun so he can use another weapon with his good hand." She turned to Gav.

"We're going to be leaving in a few days, Gav. If you have anything left to do on this world, I suggest you get it taken care of." She nodded to her aide, who turned to the Ogryn and began the slow process of ushering him out.

Gav could only think of one thing he had left to take care of on this planet.

The sensors that kept what used to be Tarla's brain alive sent an electrical current through her broken body, bidding her to rise her head from her current tasks.

"Hullo, Tarla." Gav stood before the servitor that held the flesh of Tarla. She was currently using a cleaning attachment on one of her arms to make one of the hallways of her home a bit cleaner. What was left of her mind bristled as how dirty everything was.

"Hello, sir." Came her response, her voice choked and hazy through the grille set into her broken, infected jaw. "How might I help you tonight?"

Gav felt himself on the verge of tears once again, but he held them back with a force of will. Tarla wouldn't want to see him like this.

"Ah'm gonna be leavin' soon, Tarla... they said I'z no long part of dah Guard..."

The cogitator in Tarla's head searched for the appropriate response, as she straighted and adopted the most congenial expression her cavalcade of augmetics allowed.

"It was a pleasure to have you in our hotel, valued former member of the Guard. Ave Imperator." She bowed and straightened, looking up at Gav with that one still-good aquamarine eye. Even now, the lack of proper moisture to her eye was giving it a milky film, blotting out what little intelligence had been left in that iris.

"I just..." Gav started, swallowing a sob that threatened. "I just wanted t' say that... you was important t' me... you was one o' my best friends, Tarla..." Gav couldn't stand it anymore. He turned and blundered his way past a group of Guardsmen who cursed and brayed at his passing.

The servitor who used to be Tarla went back to her work as if nothing were happening. Only a few moments later did she notice a leakage around her fleshy eye.

"Oi! Who's the new guy?" Sheexa didn't mind that she'd just lost her arm wrestling contest with Grint, Traela's pet psyker. She liked to test her muscle against his warp-enhanced muscle. Right now, though, she was more concerned with the hulking behemoth that was ascending the loading platform into Inquisitor Traela's personal ship, walking alongside the woman herself.

"Settle down, Sheexa." Traela responded. She was used to her demolitions expert's bravado. She was from Catachan, after all. Until Gav came along, Sheexa had been the biggest member of her crew at a good 6'6", with the muscle to back it up. Next to the hulking form of Gav, Sheexa looked like a little girl.

"This is Gav." She reached up and patted the Ogryn's bionic arm. "He's going to be my bodyguard during my undercover operations."

"He's got the bulk for it, true enough." The voice that Ratling Trobb used would've done better on a man twice his size. He was dressed in the comfortable clothing of his kind, his only military markings being the tattoos trailing up and down his strong little arms. The stumpy, bearded abhuman hopped down from one of the crates he sat upon, shouldering his favored weapon- the sniper gun most of his kind were so natural with- and looking up at the towering Ogryn with a grin. "Big boy, ain't he?"

"He has a good soul." Grint spoke, his voice hazy and far away. What little of his face wasn't hidden by a heavy cowl looked no more than fifteen, one of his withered hands coming to rest on Gav's chest "Better than most of the stunted ones you bring here, Mistress." He smiled to Traela under his cowl.

Gav took all of this in with the same confused, innocent look he always had. Traela had grown to like him in the few days she'd known him. With nothing better to do, the Ogryn had come to visit her once in a while, and in that time she'd learned just how intelligent he could be.

Sheexa smirked, crossing her arms under her chest. She wore a white armless top and a pair of camo pants, boots almost as big and grimy as Gav's covering her feet. She eyed Gav up and down, sizing him up. "You speak, big guy?"

"Yes'm, ah can speak." Gav raised his left hand in a salute, and Sheexa could only laugh.

"Wow, so polite. I think I like this Ogryn." She reached up and gave Gav's shoulder a hard smack. "At least I'll have someone to arm wrestle who won't cheat." Grint only grinned under his cowl.

Gav smiled. The people Traela had around her seemed like nice people. Especially Sheexa. That smack against his shoulder had been strong. It even stung a little bit. Gav liked strong people.

After he'd been shown to his quarters and introduced to the few remaining members of Traela's crew, Gav sat in his own room and stared out of his viewing port. They were minutes away from embarking, leaving Mannec behind forever.

Ogryn aren't, by nature, a reflective species. They live in the moment, and are much like Orks in that respect.

Gav had lived to be an older age, comparatively. Most of his brethren died off before they saw their twentieth year. Gav was nearing some part of his thirtieth- he couldn't remember which- and was gaining what others could call wisdom.

He sat there as they began to take off, his body ignoring the G-forces that were being exerted upon it, and looked back on all his hard years of service to the Guard.

He smiled, remembering the day Bob had started a food fight in their mess hall. Arry had been so angry.

Arry. He remembered how Arry had tried to help Gav read. It had never gone anywhere, but Gav loved him for trying to teach him.

His face softened when he remembered Tarla. He remembered that moment just before the skinny demons had attacked, when they had shared his canteen and hadn't said anything.

He'd done good things for the Emperor, but bad things had happened to him. He never made the connection most would; he never saw the Emperor abandoning him, or questioned the Emperor's love for him.

As Gav Smith sat there on his cot and watched the blueness of the sky fade into the darkness of space, he smiled.

Wherever he went, whatever he did, he served the Emperor. And that was good.


Note from the author: (the original on that is)

And that's the end.

I wanted to end it in a way that left it open for other writefags to have a crack at it. I tried to leave the characters surrounding him with enough room for character development while still giving a good amount of information about their personality.

My part in the saga of Gav is now at a close. Thank you all for reading, and especially for encouraging me. It's so easy for people to be negative on the Internet, so I know how great it is when they aren't.

So go forth and tell of Gav's adventures as Traela's bodyguard.

Ave Bob. Ave Arry. Ave Tarla.