A tale of two tendrils... III

"Captain Laseraptor," Zap called out, holding a roughly built axe aloft in one hand.

"Zap?" he replied with a raised eyebrow.

"Please speak to the Priestess as such. She isn't a civilian, she is a Machine Priestess. Speaking to her or calling her anything but Machine Priestess Aristaka is informal and offensive. If she wishes, I can execute you for the offense," Zap declared in a tone akin to an excited teenager.

Everyone so armed, immediately drew their weapon and leveled it at the lobotomized cyborg. Even so, Trevor knew the rogue toaster could easily disembowel half the bridge crew before enough fire could be leveled on it to bring it down.

"Is that so?" Trevor replied, staring the Skitarii down, unwaveringly.

But is was the glare from Aristaka that defused the situation.

"We have a duty, during off hours, is those nicknames suitable to use, Captain," Zap muttered, tearing the head off the axe and reducing it back down into its base components.

A full minute passed before anyone felt comfortable putting their weapon away.

"Tech Priestess, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask that you keep this thing on a shorter leash from now on. I can't have it barreling through the ship, disrupting operations, and threatening personal. Frankly, knowing you as I do, I'm surprised you haven't flushed it out the nearest airlock by now," Trevor said.

With a gesture of her mecha arm, Zap went skittering back into the bowels of the ship and towards the cargo hold, where the less disruptive Skitarii were still kept.

"It has its uses. ...So do you," she replied.

He smirked, "Not the same, I hope."

She shrugged.

Minutes passed into hours as the Righteous Indignation crept through space into the dark shadow of Yivv's most distant moon.

"Uh, Captain," the sensor tech said.

"Yes," Trevor replied, glancing at the sensor screen over which the crewman was engrossed.

"Apparently Lord Commissar Miles and Major Maxolan are on the planet. They just engaged with Choas cultist, blood pact, and traitor Astartes," the crewman reported.

Trevor gritted his teeth. Fellow soldiers were engaged in combat, and with traitor Astartes nonetheless. They were capable soldiers, no doubt. But on their own, most of them would likely be slain by the fell battle brothers. And yet, for the moment, his orders precluded him from rendering aid.

"Captain, we can't...," Aristaka began.

"I'm well aware of that, Tech Priestess," Trevor replied with a bitterness that left even the incompassionate Aristaka searching for a word of comfort.

Rather than attempting and letting words fail her, she simply placed a gloved hand on his shoulder. Knowing the amount of effort that it took a creature such as Aristaka to make such a gesture, he did indeed take a modicum of comfort from it.

All remained silent for several seconds until crewman Carl, spoke, "Also.... Lord Inquisitor Kunnus himself has sent us a message. It says, 'Do not let the heretics claim Connar Foulbolt, if they do, execute him.' Also... he's coming here, to Yivv. We are not to alert anyone, not even the Major or the Commissar of his arrival. He is coming to claim Foulbolt for, examination?"

Carl stopped and looked at his captain with a quizzical expression.

"I thought Inquisitors always say they are purging anyone they suspect being a heretic, they don't use words such as examination, do they?" he said.

"That's above your pay grade, sailor. Mine too, as a matter of fact," Trevor replied.

Another crewmate looked over, "Half a year, that's the time limit they have, half a year and the Inquisitors are probably going to glass the planet."

"That's enough speculation," Trevor said.

Those three words and the bridge went silent again.

These new orders certainly complicated things a bit more. Trevor's brow furrowed in deep thought.

"Alright, then! Instruct the Astropath to relay confirmation of our orders. Carl, I need boots on the ground on the double. Find a way to get our drop ships down to the surface without being noticed," he ordered. Then to Aristaka, "Can you hack into the PDF network? I need everything there is to know on this Connar Foulbolt character."

"Of course, Captain," she said and turned crisply on her titanium heel and left.

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