Coppertop vs Kaylin: Interval 01 (Terrible Things)
Within the first month of recovery and recuperation that follows the mission on Thordas...
Life on the ship is slow, compared to the harrowing events planetside. The escalation from one battle to the next, the ever-tightening fist of war - and then, an abrupt glacial period of enforced rest. Even the view outside is reduced to a dim fog with the ship in warp. It's enough to drive anyone stir-crazy, let alone the fast and lethal hand of the Emperor...
Luckily, the adepts in charge aren't keeping the acolytes sealed up in the medibay, excepting the heavily-wounded Modesty. They've been encouraged to recover in body, spirit, and mind, and to that end physical therapy is always an option. Also known as "get off your lazy acolyte asses and work up a sweat".
Standing in the gym already looking to the dummy in front of her, Kaylin was still for only a moment before sweeping her heavy sword foreword with a martial kiai, swinging it in a swift, long slash to bear straight through the practice dummy as she readies herself for the rest of her training, getting used to the massive weapon once again.
Coppertop has been at the other end, pounding out pullups. Those acrobatics don't come easy - hauling himself up and over an obstacle takes more than momentum and verve, it takes upper body strength, and he's got to keep his up. But his sets are done, and he's rubbing sore arms when he catches sight of Kaylin; he promptly trots over to meet her, shaking his hands out. They haven't seen much of eachother, none of them have, so even the standoffish warrior is a welcome sight!
Kaylin turns and looks to the young man and inclines her head to him, her mask gone now, youthful form clothed in a tight black bodysuit like most assassins. "Coltrane...that was your real name, wasn't it?" she asks, voice a bit quiet as she lowers the massive blade a bit. "You're quite agile."
"Yes," he chuckles, "but only our bosses use it. Thank you, comes from walking on eggshells all day. How are you? You were in pretty bad shape when we lifted off - we all were."
She flushes slightly and bows her head, looking to the side. "A moment of weakness, nothing more. I am imperfect, and it was a weakness I shouldn't have allowed myself. Pay it no mind."
"None of us are perfect- never mind. Are you going to beat yourself up over it? You took down a hereticus terminus, Kaylin, with your blade alone - and an entire base of Imperials couldn't do that with all their guns. I'd say you're entitled to a little off time."
"Not my blade-the marine's. But in any case." she shrugs lightly. "I've repented adequately for my transgression, and with the Emperor's grace I continue. You're a very odd assassin, looking for time off. Your temple must be rather different from my own."
"Yes..." He shrugs. "I've never found strength in repenetance for mistakes, or denying the things that make me human. But!" He claps his hands. "It sounds like you're in fine spirits, for you. That's good."
"As fine as ever." she notes slightly, smiling. "I'm not quite used to being considered much of a human."
"Does it help?" He tilts his head. "I'm not trying to disrespect your temple, or the way you do things, but... are you stronger?"
"Of course." she said with a nod. "It is the denial of self that allows us to become something. Through destruction of self and complete faith in the Emperor's cause, my strength is unwavering. Or at least, it is assuming I am strong enough in my faith."
"And any failure on your part is a weakness in your faith?"
"Or flesh. It fails too."
Coppertop grimaces. "Tell me about it." He rubs his neck, almost hesitant, before he makes his mind up about something and crooks his finger for her to follow, backing up towards the more open mats. "Someone taught me once that only through the merciless application of violence and death can the Imperium be sustained, weakness and corruption winnowed out, the Emperor's own sacrifice honored. The only path to strength was expiation in blood - by preference someone else's."
Kaylin follows him, cocking his head to the side. "I was taught that should the Impirium be cleansed of the heretic, the witch and the mutant, or in other words the sins of mankind and the imperfections of character, that it would stand strong. Only through fire and blood can we redeem ourselves; in that I agree with you." she smiles slightly. "Are you asking to spar?"
He laughs. "I said they taught me - I didn't say I believed it. Kaylin, I was raised like that, but it... never rang true for me. It didn't stick." He shrugs off his jacket, hanging it up on a weapon rack as he picks up a practice blade, frowns, sets it down and picks up another. "I realized that, and I chose my own path. I took responsibility for my own strength and for what is done with it." Holding the blade at his hip, he turns, regarding her. "Do you think that's weakness?"
Kaylin looks to the massive blade before grasping one of the training sword, whirling it once around her wrist before exhaling out gently. "A weakness? No. But you and I live in very different worlds. You have a soul." she points out, leveling the blade to him idly. "A weakness, perhaps not, but you also serve a different purpose than I."
Coppertop grins, looking around at the ship. "It looks like the same world to me..." He returns his eyes to her, shifting his weight ever so slightly to combat tension.
She cocks her head to the side slightly. "Perhaps you should have your eyesight checked. You are not a pariah." she points out before rushing foreword, whirling the practice sword once before striking upwards, swiftly to disrupt his guard only to reverse her grip and snap it back down for his shoulder, the movements sure and swift, without the usual hatred or weight that she offered in battle.
Coppertop strikes out, shockingly fast, moving not with the cocksure and showy parkour he exhibits in the field but with a training more primal and focused - the blade ringing twice in quick succession, his muscles taut as he stops each blow with bone-jarring rings of metal. "We live," he breathes, "in a world of terrible things." He thrusts her blade away, sweeping with the same motion into an upward slice that would take her ear and scalp off if not checked.
Kaylin watches his parries with a slightly raised eyebrow, his speed impressive before he snaps an uppercut to her that was easily dodged with a swift shift of her head back before she moves to take advantage of the opening, thrusting the point of the training weapon towards his sternum. "A good strike, but a bad time for it."
Coppertop is already moving, his blade skating along hers as he spins around - back meeting hers for a moment before he twists back to face her, sword at his hip once more and ready to draw. "We've killed some. We hunt others. They're a danger, aren't they - a danger to the Imperium." The fight doesn't seem to be over yet - it's just the style's ready position.
"I kill." she said simply as he watches her. "I rip the cancers of the Imperium out, bleeding and screaming, burning and crying. Those that deny such things... All are the Imperium's enemies, and deserve the terror I bring them." she notes before eying the blade at his side. "A drawing style. It requires a curved blade, and is ineffective with chain-weaponry, thus not one that I practice regularly, but..." she notes before grasping a second one from the rack, twisting them both around her arms before dashing foreword, quite swift as she she whirls to bring one of the blades in a heavy stroke towards his head, rolling with her weight behind it to measure his reaction to a heavier swing.
Coppertop scythes his sword around as he twists under the strike, driving into her blade and adding momentum to the swing. "The Imperium-" His exposition halts for a moment as he reverses his motion, anticipating a second strike and shifting away. "-I will kill for them, for the people, the ones your cancers hurt. Because there are terrible things out there."
Kaylin watches him back up before pressing foreword, one blade sweeping swiftly in a pair of hacks almost meant to bring about a counter attack before she spins, the other blade held low in an underhand grip as it sweeps in front of her to catch an assaiult just to lash out for his chin at the last possible moment, her wrist snapping up to bring the weight-loaded tip of it to his face, a heavy blow despite the speed of it that could easily have split his face in half with a real blade. "There are terrible things in here, too." she points out, smiling slightly. "I'm one of them. When my work is done, I will be unnecesary, and discarded as such. The terrible thing without and within both can be destroyed only by becoming a monster yourself."
Coppertop stop-blocks each hack with a crash of steel, taking a step back, before jerking aside to avoid the upswing - barely making it, taking a stumbling step away as he returns his blade to the ready with a quick motion. "I don't buy that. Like me, you've been raised that way, to kill for a creed - for ideas they came up with long before we were born."
Kaylin cocks her head to the side slightly, pausing a moment. "Can you really not feel it?" she asks with a raised eyebrow. "Something wrong with me?"
"Slag it," Coppertop laughs, "I'm trying to make a point!" Sobering, he regards her. "Yes, I feel something wrong with you. It's the way you hide behind the mask. You don't need it among friends.
"You saved my life down there, so I'm going to give you something back. I'm going to ask you a question. I know what your answer is right now, but it'll stick with you, and that's the point. You're strong enough to be the Emperor's monster. Are you strong enough to be Kaylin?"