Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Fluff IV: Codan Chapter Three, Collared

This week Codan gets a furlough on an isolated space station- but it isn't for pleasure! Time to enjoy your morning cup of joe and read this week's Saturday Fluff submitted by Six-Deucer!
CH3 "Collared"

With a grinding noise, and a tremendous "whoosh", the airlock clamped into place and the traffic tunnel was pressurized.  On
command, Codan began marching forward, feet shackled, and in cadence with the other men of his unit. Down the opening ramp,
and towards the space station that the Solo Unum had docked with. Codan was eager to go aboard, it was likely he could at
least pick up a clue from the local residents about where they were, or where they were heading.  During his service, he had
traveled extensively through many sectors in the galactic east, and recognized many regional dialects.  Perhaps he had even
heard of this station, there were not many that provided the service for which they had come.
Codan stole a brief glance down the ranks of his comrades as they marched, the tension on their faces was obvious to anyone
who bother to look.  Yes Codan was eager to board, but he was certain that he was the only one.  This is where they would be
fitted with the signature accessory that goes along with being a soldier in a penal legion, the explosive collar.  It was all
his fellows had been talking about for weeks, the reactionary fools.  Codan was intimately familiar with the device, having
detonated more than a few in the past.  Codan had known this day would come for years, and would gladly trade the collar on
his neck for an end to his boredom, and a shot at freedom.  All things weighed and considered prior to his decision to
Codan spent the next few minutes bumbling his way out of the traffic tube, and through a de-con scrubber.  Following the
instructions of a pompous naval officer who was translating for the kriegsman in charge of their field trip.  The fool might
know his way around a flight deck, but he had no place marching infantry troops in formation.  He did appear to be having fun
though, snickering each time his commands led an inmate to bang his shoulder against a corner, or bulkhead.  Eventually, at
an agonizing pace, the unit made it's way into the station proper.  The raucous of jumbled voices, and the glow of neon
greeted Codan as he entered a very large and populated merchant quarter.   It was apparent that the station must not have an
office of the Adeptus Ministorum, as some of the shops advertised substances and services considered contraband by the
Looking into one shop, Codan saw two wealthy-looking customers haggling over a small jar of ghostfire pollen.  Codan hoped
the kriegsmen hadn't led them aboard to get fitted with frenzon-dispensers along with their collars.  Codan had seen it done,
but it didn't make sense in this case.  The foreigners had taken extra care with their training, why do that just to hook
them up with combat drugs and loose them on an enemy in a homicidal and suicidal rage?  During the last few weeks, training
had indeed intensified, but there were surprisingly fewer deaths.  Often, Codan had observed an inmate nearing his physical
limit, his body unable to gather enough breath to sustain itself, only to have training cut short just in time for the poor
wretch.  The Kriegsman in charge of training was a canny son of a bitch.  His goal it seemed had changed in order that his
soldier's lives were spent less lavishly.  Whatever his end goal, his training had paid off in spades.  The inmates of his
unit were about as physically fit, and as proficient with a lasgun as your average imperial trooper.  Which is to say hardly
impressive, but a huge improvement to the sorry lot they had been a month and a half ago. 
That Kriegsman made Codan uncomfortable.  Not nervous or fearful, Codan had never been afraid of anyone, but he didn't like
looking at the man.  Codan could not understand his language, but he could tell from the way the man spoke, and interacted
with his fellows that he was both respectful and respected among his peers.  A soldierly camaraderie, and contented peace of
mind that comes from knowing your place in the world, and accepting it.  Codan had once had that.  All lost years ago, the
day Codan the hero had found his limit, had broken, and dared not do his duty.  Even his desire to serve his beloved Emperor
had turned sour in his stomach like a piece of uncooked pork.  Codan had resolved to avoid the man as best he could, even if
the kriegsman did not know it, Codan felt judged every time he met the man's gaze.
A few of the less disciplined inmates began taking shorter steps as they marched by a pleasure house.  Barely-clad Women up
above on gated ledges, beckoning down below to passersby.  They quieted quickly when they noticed the leg-irons.  Codan
stifled a snort of contempt as the man to the left of him hung his head dejectedly.  The ugly fool had probably never found
a woman to lie with him voluntarily.  The Kriegsman said something in his native tongue, and the naval officer commanded a
halt.  A few more words were shared between the two, and the naval officer instructed them towards a large shop across the
walkway.  They entered what appeared to be a busy warehouse, with work-benches covered in electronic paraphernalia lining the
length and breadth of the large room.  A very old man approached and addressed the naval officer in an irritatingly familiar
accent of low gothic.  "Another batch eh?" the man said.  "How many ya got this time"?  Interesting, the kriegsman had docked
here before....what did it mean?  "Two units of twelve only, Dimmamar seems to be experiencing a drought of convicts" the
naval officer joked.  The old proprietor did not seem to recognize the joke, "so few, I will hardly cut a profit, are you
sure you can't round up some more"? The Kriegsman said something quietly to the officer, who then stated "it is more than
enough for us, and mind your questioning".  The old man looked at the inmates, then back to the officer "of course, of
course", "it is only that I cannot sell your custom collars to anyone else, and I made so many in advance".  The naval
officer stepped forward and opened a large silk pouch, "we have been authorized to pay more per unit, get them fitted
quickly, we are on a specific schedule.
The old man grinned widely, "of course, of course" he said as he clapped his hands together.  The large room erupted in
motion as workers started seating inmates along benches, near their workstations.  A few of the inmates were began sobbing
quietly as their necks were being measured. Codan gave it no thought, he had much information to sift through and piece
together, the shopkeeper had let some valuable tidbits slip.  A small weasel of a man with thick spectacles approached Codan,
and gingerly motioned for the large man to sit down.  Intending to distract himself from the sight of the little worm, Codan
looked across the room and out of a large window, perhaps he could see the whores from here.  All thought drained from
Codan's mind along with the blood from his face, as he suddenly recognized the name of a bar across the way.  Codan seized in
sudden panic, tasting blood in his mouth from having bit his tongue.  He had been here before.
The Naval officer chuckled as he watched Codan shaking in fear as he was collared.  The Kriegsman tilted his head slightly,
as though curious of Codan's reaction.

Chapter 4


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