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Coppertop vs Kaylin: Interval 02 (The Judgement of Men)
Posts : 33
Join date : 2009-05-21
|Subject: Coppertop vs Kaylin: Interval 02 (The Judgement of Men) Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:10 pm|| |
Coppertop vs Kaylin: Interval 02 (The Judgement of Men)
During the preparations for the attempted capture of Little Gunner, many months later...
Coppertop, an hour or so after Caiten's debriefing, has come to the conclusion that he won't be needed at the caravan. So he's pulled up a chair and has music playing in his commbead, dataslate over a crossed knee, plotting out how best to disable the underground facility.
Even had he been paying attention Kaylin would have made little noise, coming up behind him to tap him on the shoulder. The white mask was in place, black visors covering her eyes where they would have been within it, and she stood as she usually did, no skin showing between the mask, the red cloak and the bodysuit covering her hands. "You seem to be busy." she notes as she looked at the plans for a moment, cocking her head to the side.
He cranes his neck to look up at her, thumbing the music down. "We've all got work to do... hi, Kaylin. It's been a while - how are you holding up?"
"Depends when you ask me. I am as always when you catch me properly focused. But I have been lacking focus more and more, lately. And yourself? It has been some time."
"So far I have successfully avoided being seriously injured this run, so I'm doing well, thanks," he laughs, before gesturing. "Sit down, sit down. What's this about focus?"
"Your question, you might say." She said, a slight edge to her voice as she sat. "Have you faught the necrons yet? I have found them to be odd; they don't feel pain, and fire does not seem to cleanse them as it should."
"The Necrons?" He nods, setting the dataslate aside. "Lethargic, unmotivated, tough bastards. Their power sources - the glowy green things? They're self-cleansing if you can break 'em."
"I know. I destroyed one in a city several weeks ago when I routed out a cult there. I take it their power source is of interest to you?"
"I had to take a lascutter to one when we first encountered them. It left an impression..." He taps the dataslate. "The cultists, their glowsticks, the power sources, it's all tied together."
"I had to use my axe." she shrugs her shoulders slightly. "It had interesting results. Their glowsticks serve as means of communication, from what I understand."
"Really?" He brightens. "I hadn't heard that. I'll have to think about that... so far, all I know is they're going to serve as a means of fuel. That place is going to go up like a furnace. But never mind that. They're just machines, drones - dangerous, but hardly the threat of Loran or a warboss. I guess I'm a bit jaded about them."
"You haven't met a pariah, then. Not simply a machine, it would seem, or at least one with intelligence enough to worship their false gods." she said slightly bitterly, shaking her head. "When I say communication, I mean identification and information among the members of the cult, I don't know if that helps you."
"Ah. I'd figured it was something like that, but Modesty is the one facing them. I've been skulking around, staying out of sight..." He tilts his head. "I did meet a pariah, but not socially. It had studied very hard at being human."
"They were humans, once. Like me."
Coppertop gives her a bemused look. "Nice choice of tense."
"I only know because I was told by the pariah I killed. He explained that they were able to utilize humans that lacked a soul, like I do, and turn them into what he was. You're planning on blowing up their tomb?"
"Kaylin, I would consider information from a source like that to be less than credible." He shakes his head. "The tomb? No, I was down there. Blowing up something like that is an exterminatus job. I'm just going to do something about their power base in the city, their manufacturing and storage facility."
"I see. I would offer you assistance, but I don't believe you would take it, and I think I'm necesary for the next assault. May I ask you something personal?"
"I'd say you are. If it weren't for that, I would... but I'm just going to sneak in, sneak out. They won't know I've been there until I'm gone." He tilts his head at this next. "Boxers."
She blinks before biting back a laugh, unable to keep the smile out of her voice. "Cute. What I really wanted to ask is why you seem so determined to break my focus."
He grins, leaning back as he sobers. "That is a personal question. And it's a complicated answer. All right... the short version? We're a lot alike."
"Are we now? All I can see are differences."
"When all you have is a wrench, everything looks like a lug nut. I'm not sure I'm ready to have this conversation with you, but I've been where you are, and I put it behind me. You haven't. It makes me take a personal interest in you."
"I suppose I should ask you, then why 'putting this behind me' would be a good thing."
He purses his lips. "Take off your mask."
"Any particular reason?" She asks, cocking her head to the side.
"Why shouldn't you?"
Kaylin blinks for a moment before pulling down the robe's hood and reaching behind her to undo the strong straps holding it in place. After a pair of clicks it came free, separating from her face to leave red lines traced around the edges where it met skin. "I wear it when I do the Emperor's work...it feels awkward, to leave it off." she notes as she put it to her lap.
"Thank you." He extends a hand for the mask. "May I? I swear I'm not plotting anything, I'm just curious."
She hesitates for a moment before handing it to him, a slight dust of red on her cheeks, though she wasn't sure why she was embarassed. It was of strong construction, probably some sort of hardened ceramic, shaped in the form of a serene woman's face in decent detail. The straps that secured it were firm and the clasps strong enough to hold it in place without moving in battle, while the eyes were covered with what looked to be a relatively good photovisor. It was heavier than it looked, though not much.
Coppertop traces fingertips across the inside, avoiding the photovisor as he studies it, tilting it around to check it out from a few angles before looking up. "I wanted you to take it off because I'm talking to you, Kaylin. I'm not talking to the mask. We're not doing the Emperor's work right now... this-" He points to the dataslate with the mask. "-is the Emperor's work, out there is the Emperor's work and the blades you carry are the Emperor's work, and that work matters, but right now I'm talking to you. Kaylin. And you also matter."
"Why do I matter?" she asks with a sigh, looking to him and shaking her head. "I am a tool, a servant of the Emperor. His works matter; why should mine? What have I done, or can do, that is important as Kaylin compared to what must be done as the Emperor's Blade?"
He pauses, gauging her. "All right. That's how you've been raised, that's what you know. You're following an imperative thousands of years old. You're fighting for the dead. When you remember that out there are millions of human beings depending on the Emperor's work, that we're protecting them from the dark heresy that threatens their well-being- Kaylin, I'm here for you, and for me, and for them. I'm here for what it means to be human. I'm fighting for the living. Fighting for the dead is just... wrong."
"I'm not fighting for the dead, I'm fighting for the sake of those that will come." She points out, cocking her head to the side. "I'm fighting because the Impirium is a terrible place, and only through cleansing can it become a place of piety and purity. Would we, assassins, soldiers, fighters, be needed if there were no xenos to kill? If there was no corruption to eat the Impirium alive? And neither you nor Wilhelmina understand--what it means to be human? I don't have that! I just don't! I wasn't born with it, the same as some people are born without arms, or legs! I'm not just being poetic about it: do you know what it means, to be a pariah?"
Dryly, "From what I can tell, it means hiding behind a mask so you don't have to feel."
"I wear a mask because what I do is done not in my name, but in the Emperor's, because what makes Kaylin worthy enough to do something in her own name?" she snaps. "It means that this huamnity that you talk about, that Wilhelmina talks about? It means I don't have that! What makes a human human, Coppertop?" She asks, looking slightly wounded by the assertion that she didn't feel.
He leans forward. "What makes Kaylin unworthy? You're arguing in circles. 'I wear a mask because I am unworthy, I am unworthy because I'm not human, I'm not human because I'm a pariah, I'm a pariah so I wear a mask'. But none of it exists anywhere but here." He waggles the mask. "What makes Kaylin worthy? Kaylin does. Only you can take that away from yourself, and slag it, but you're doing a great job of it. Well done."
"Since when have I ever been able to make Kaylin anything?" She mutters, shaking her head. "What am I supposed to do, exactly, to make myself into anything, when all that will happen is that I get taken back and broken back down?"
Coppertop studies her, tossing the mask back and forth from hand to hand. "I'll make you a deal. Wear the mask-" Plucking the mask between thumb and forefinger, reversing it so it points at her like a blade. "-be the Emperor's weapon for this mission, I'll back you up and I won't say a word, not even to myself. But once we're done, Coppertop Coltrane and bare-faced Kaylin have a date with the obstacle course. And we'll keep at it until we kick its ass. Do we have a deal?"
She looks at it for a moment before taking it from him idly and sighing slightly, sliding it over her face once more as her hands move behind her head to affix it properly. "I notice you didn't give an option for if I said no." she points out, voice already calmer.
Posts : 33
Join date : 2009-05-21
|Subject: Re: Coppertop vs Kaylin: Interval 02 (The Judgement of Men) Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:11 pm|| |
He grins, letting it sit for a moment. "Don't worry about it." He leans back, snagging his dataslate and running a thumb over the edge. "We're still tainted by our brush with the Adeptus Mechanicus... maybe they'll transfer you to a less heretical unit and you'll never have to deal with me again."
"Unlikely. My equipment stipend has been revoked, same as you all." She points out dryly before shrugging. "I never was told what the actual heresy involved was."
"Really?" He tilts his head. "Guilt by association... sorry about that." He spreads his free hand. "We were called to the engine room, we came, the engine room is the sacred and inviolate territory of the Adeptus. That was enough."
"I never did like the mechanicus." she notes, shaking her head. "Too many secrets, too many hidden finds, too much investigation into matters that ought simply to be purged. And they were utterly useless against the necrons."
"I didn't think of it at the time. It made perfect sense - if you need help with the machine spirits, who else do you turn to but Acolyte Coltrane?" He grins, before sobering. "It's been a hassle, but I don't mind, because focusing on that distracts them from what really happened down there. I don't know if they haven't thought it through, or they're choosing to focus on the lesser threat..."
"What do you mean, what really happened down there?"
Leaning forward again, "Everyone knows the power failed, and then the Gellar field failed, and then the ship dropped out of the Warp. We cleaned up after the Warp, fixed up the systems and were on our way. Kaylin, the engine room was emptied courtesy of Loran. Who brought the ship out of Warp?"
Kaylin cocks her head to the side lightly with a raised eyebrow behind the mask. "You?" she asks questioningly, unsure. "Or did Loran do it?"
Coppertop nods slowly at her first guess. "I brought it down. I brought down a ship of the line, an Imperial battleship. Oh, I couldn't have done it anywhere but there, I had to have immediate access to the engines, but... they're giving us all a lot of slack, Kaylin, they're allowing us mistakes and doubts, and I think it's because they have an idea of what we can become. If it's not that, it's because they haven't taken the time to think about just what it means."
"I'll never be an inquisitor, certainly." She notes, shaking her head. "You might be, if you lost a bit of your roguishness. I can't imagine any of the others as one."
"What fun would that be?" He laughs, straightening up. "No, I'll take my lumps with a smile. If they want to hold my thrones, let 'em. They could have decided I was too great a risk, and..." Coltrane draws a thumb across his throat with a wet sucking sound.
"The thrones are unimportant, I find. I don't spend them on personal items, and I'm not one for extravagence. I do wonder, I suppose, quite why they're sending a team like us against what amounts to a tomb world, considering that the more prudent course of action would be to destroy it."
"Investigation? Understanding? Even the most hawkish Space Marine must know it's better to find out how they come to life than waste countless lives and centuries of infrastructure."
She sighs and shrugs. "I suppose. But it just feels as though there isn't enough containment. I watched five necrons rip through a small encampment, and ten rip through the better part of 150 men. Shouldn't there be more superior forces ready within the tombs to quell them when they wake? We must be able to sense them, by now."
"Questioning the Emperor's judgement?" he asks lightly.
"Questioning the judgement of men."
He smiles. "That's a start. Kaylin, they knew they were sending us down - Vlad, Modesty, Mina and I - and didn't warn us at all. Penance? I don't know. But someone has plans, and they don't mind expending lives to see them through."
"I think the tech priest knew as well. Certainly the ruins were archetypical enough; if they knew anything about the necrons, as I'm sure they must, they would have recognized them."
Tapping the dataslate, "There's your answer, then. Someone is hoarding knowledge, and if it feels as though there isn't enough containment, that's because there isn't."
"But that would be pointless; sending an expedition out to be butchered."
"And yet, we learned a great deal in a short while."
"Through evidence; I haven't been TOLD anything." she points out, shaking her head. "Which is infuriating."
"I can't argue with that. But evidence is irrefutable; we have no doubts, and we'll certainly remember. I'm not taking their side, where 'they' equals 'whatever asshole sent us in unprepared', but I will say it was an object lesson well learned. And we came out with knowledge they may not have known themselves."
"I suppose." she shrugs. "Apparently there's a connection between pariah's and the necrons; I hadn't known that. I'm not good at making the broad connections, I'm afraid, so their knowledge is probably safe with me," she adds wryly.
"But you learned other knowledge - how they move, how they fight, how they think. True?"
"They don't think, largely, but for the pariahs from what I gather, but true."
He grins. "To be honest, this is all conjecture at this point; we've passed way beyond the point of anything I'm actually in a position to judge. But that's tactically awesome for you, right?"
"In some ways. In others, it's difficult, but it's better knowing than not. Can you track their energy, yet? I had assumed, but I suppose I don't really know."
"I don't have the tools for that - or the samples." He shrugs. "As you say, we must be able to sense them by now."
"I just remember the priests saying that the necron temples divulged energy almost constantly, just rarely energy that we can see. I don't know; I largely focus on killing what I'm told to kill, but I can imagine it being useful to find them."
"I have a hunch that we could do something with heat..." He shakes his head. "Which will have to wait. Right now I'm going to focus on bringing a little heat of my own. I'm not proud of sabotage, but I've been in there once and I can get in there again, so..."
"Can you get in there safely?" she asks with a raised eyebrow. "Don't they have defenses?"
"Your concern warms the cockles of my heart," he assures her. "I didn't find any defenses - other than a lot of people."
"And that isn't a defense?" She asks wryly. "Are you confident in your success? To the best of my knowledge you're competent at hiding yourself, but ill equipped."
He grins. "Not against Coppertop Coltrane. I am," he admits, "sending a request for some cameleoline along with the charges, but I've been down there once before without it."
"If you don't recieve it, tell me and I'll lend you mine." She said with a shrug. "I have a few charges remaining as well, if you require them."
"Thanks, Kaylin. I may have to take you up on it. What have you been up to, this last year?"
"The same things I usually am. Missions. Assassinations. I was briefly...returned...to the Redemptionists for further guidance before I was sent back once more." She notes simply, voice tightening slightly. "And you? Something of more interest, I hope."
"They locked us up and threw away the key. Apart from some training and tutoring..." He brightens. "I have some news that will cheer you right up."
Coppertop claps his hands. "I grew an inch!"
Kaylin blinks behind the mask before laughing slightly and cocking her head to the side. "Really now." she asks with a raised eyebrow, unable to keep it from her voice. "And what need do you have to warrant an extra inch? You should loan it to me."
He gives her an injured look. "You? You're head and shoulders above me! Next warboss we get, I'm riding into battle on your shoulders. You wave one sword, I'll wave the other, FOR THE EMPEROR!"
She chuckles at the idea and shook her head. "I don't know that you'll be riding me anywhere, Coltrane. Perhaps the Commisar, he would make a better war mount." she teases before blinking slightly, glad to havethe mask over her slightly flushing face as she realizes the implications.
Cheerfully, "He's prone to bouts of dying. You're more reliable, Kaylin; if you weren't needed at the caravan, I'd be glad to have you at my side for this." He taps the dataslate.
"I don't know; he is impressive, in melee combat, as he seems to frequent, but he lacks the art of it. He accepts wounds when he shouldn't, and doesn't have a feel for the battle as a whole, much less the mission. He's too blunt... but thank you, I think."
"He's a commissar," he notes, "or was. His role is more of... morale officer. I'll look to you or Mina for actual tactics; that's what you do."
"Mina would be better than I. I rarely work with a unit; an assassin is not a soldier, as you well know."
"Yes, I do. And I do look to Mina for that, as I look to Modesty to blend in - she really is talented, more so than I gave her credit for. But I look to you, and what I find in you is commendable." He smiles. "Have I put your mind at ease?"
"I suppose? I don't know that what you think of my tactical ranking within the group is particularly high on my list of priorities, but I'm glad that there's something to be gained," she notes wryly as she got to her feet slightly. "You've less time to prepare than you should, and I've been wasting it talking. Another time, I suppose."
He laughs. "What I think should be on top of everyone's list of priorities. I'll see you later, Kaylin."
Coppertop vs Kaylin: Interval 02 (The Judgement of Men)