Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

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Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Fri Jan 30, 2015 5:14 am

The freighter bay of the Deathwatch destroyer was a hive of activity, as crew and servitors worked to unload supplies and cargo. Banks of lights along the bay walls illuminated the large, bustling space with harsh yellow-white light that gleamed off every metallic surface and cast a puzzle of conflicting half-shadows. A line of cargo shuttles was neatly parked down one side of the bay, tended to by clusters of techs and servitors as they refuelled and carried out maintenance on each vehicle. Other crew ferried full crates and containers off the shuttles and stacked them in ordered piles along the opposite wall, where they were marked off by sharp-eyed supervisors before then being sent to other parts of the destroyer for unpacking. Other crates, already divested of their contents, replaced the ones removed from the shuttles, to be refilled again later once the destroyer reached its destination.

The rumble of cargo hauler engines and refuelling pumps mingled with the calls of the supervisors and the whine of hydraulics. The combined sounds echoed throughout the bay, occasionally punctuated by the clanging ratcheting of wrenches or the strident hiss of an arc welder wielded by the maintenance crew. The sharp scent of fuel wafted through the bay, accompanied by the tang of hot metal and the combined aromas of sweaty humans, grease and oil. And undercutting everything was the constant, humming throb of the destroyer's great engines, felt rather than heard, pulsing through the deck platings like a slow heartbeat as the ship powered through space.

High in the upper reaches of the bay were sturdy gantries that criss-crossed the space like geometrical spider-webs, bearing armoured pipes and cable bundles where they could be easily accessed for maintenance. Unlike the wider bay beneath, the gantries remained in shadow, only dimly illuminated by light reflecting up from below - there was no point wasting energy by lighting areas that didn't need to be lit. Up here, the destroyer's engine-throb wasn't quite so evident, and the other sounds of the bay were scattered and muted slightly by the lattice of gantries. It made the shadowed areas above feel almost like another world - a part of the bay still, and yet apart.

At one end of the bay, Jahi perched high up on one of the wider gantries, clad in combat boots, pale grey fatigues, and a crimson tunic instead of his armour. He sat comfortably cross-legged with his book open in his lap and a carbon-stick in one hand, idly tapping out a soft rhythm against his thigh. His other hand propped up his chin, elbow resting on his knee, as he leaned forward to observe the workers down below. Every now and then he'd straighten and make some notes or sketches in his book, his handwriting neat and precise and his sketches anything but.

A slight sound behind him made Jahi's carbon-stick pause mid-word, and he smiled faintly to himself before resuming his writing, not bothering to look around. "I was wondering when you would show up," he commented mildly.


Last edited by Skits on Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:24 pm

A shadow strode out of the darkness and revealed itself to be a tall, blonde, young Astartes with regal bearing and self confident smirk. 

"Actually, so was I."

Scipio Azarach. Formally the second eldest son of House Azarach, once destined to rule but now destined for war, leaned his perfectly symmetrical frame against the gantry railing. Extensive breeding programs and genetic modifications had been used by his parent house to craft the perfect political tool. He would become a man of astounding charisma and aesthetic magnetism, he would lead their House into the revered higher council. He would forge their immortality.

That was the plan anyway... until the local Space Marine Chapter known as the Knights Tempest plucked the young boy from his holiday palace on Planet Baharen's eastern continent, claiming him as their legal population tithe. House Azarach could do nothing but thank them for the honor and quietly seethe as their political prodigy was whisked out from under them.
Scipio looks back on those days, those vivid memories and laughs at the shallow, self serving goals of his 'parents'. How could they not see the bigger picture? Not to worry. One day he may return and illuminate their flickering little lives with the Emperor's Glory.

"I managed to get myself lost among all the lane ways and hatches up here." He adjusted the fine blue tunic under his grey tabard, and settled into a slouch. "There's a good game of 5-pips going on behind the freight elevator. If this gets boring I think I'll go join it."
Scipio stared down into the scurrying humans and watched the patterns emerge. Patterns of power, lines of authority linking the workers together. After a few spins of the chromometer he gave Jahi a playful tap with his foot.

"Seriously, why are we up here?".


Last edited by Dingo on Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:16 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:56 pm

Jahi blinked and tilted his head to look up at Scipio, one fine black eyebrow raising. "You managed to get lost up here?" He paused for a beat, the corner of his mouth lifting slightly in wry amusement. "I'm impressed. That is quite the feat." He shifted around a little to better face Scipio, making the finely-wrought chain around his waist that his book was attached to clink with the movement. "The dice game? Did you happen to see if the gentleman with the scar over his eye was still on his winning streak?" he asked, even as he resumed writing.

The tap of Scipio's foot and his question made Jahi pause again in his note-taking, and he looked up once more, absently tucking his carbon-stick behind one ear. "We are here to observe," he replied simply, gesturing to the people working down below. "One can learn much just by watching. Given our mission brief, if we are to convince others that we are... 'normal'...." He paused to make air-quotes with one hand before continuing. "We need to learn how to act like it."
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:20 pm

Scipio arched an eyebrow right back at his learned Brother.

"Normal? I was never normal to start with. I was born, engineered, as political weapon. I never worked a day. I never felt need, never lacked anything. Didn't even understand the concept of responsibility. I haven't felt a connection with anyone until the Knights Tempest chose me to be a brother."

He scanned the throng of humans below again.

"I didn't even know a connection was a thing to be had."

He shook his head and smiled at Jahi.

"Listen to me and my deepening mood. This is your fault Brother, this introspective ramble" He waved his hand at the workers. "Tell me what you have observed, explain this scholastic endeavor. What have the unwashed masses taught you?"
"And..." he added impishly "... keep me out of your analysis, lest I stab you with your own quill."

Scipio frowned.

"Carbon...stick-thing. Why aren't you using a quill?"

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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:37 pm

"Then you will have even more to learn," Jahi replied with a faint smile. "It would not do much for our disguise if you only look like a labour-built gene-bred, but act like a high-born noble. A good subterfuge relies on the details." His smile widened slightly as he gestured for Scipio to sit nearby. "As for your 'introspective ramble'... do not worry about it. I am used to such things - it comes with the territory. And I will keep any analysis I make of you entirely to myself, never fear."

Scipio's question about the carbon-stick made Jahi let out a soft huff of amusement. "I use a graphite stick because it doesn't need ink," he explained. "Ink can be rather fiddly out on the field, and is not nearly as convenient to carry around." He closed his book and retrieved his carbon-stick, then slotted it neatly into a compartment down the book's spine to demonstrate. "They are easier to fabricate as well."

He pulled the stick back out and opened his book again, then gestured down to the working crew below. "As for what I have observed... quite a lot. Different patterns of speech, colloquialisms... an entertaining number of curses. The way they move, the body language they use, the way they interact with those higher, lower, or equal to them in rank and standing. This is all information we are going to need to absorb and understand if our cover is to be believable."
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:40 pm

Scipio nodded thoughtfully. It made sense, posture and prose was always relative to the importance of whomever you were talking too. They were usually unconscious decisions made by your mind... it will be an interesting undertaking.

Over the next few hours Scipio said very little, he just watched and he mimicked the workers below.
Subtly, nothing too obvious. He simply tensed and released muscle groups in time with the worker below him as they went about their chores. Limping, lifting, dragging, climbing. He imagined himself doing as they did. He also imagined that their lives must be rather... mundane.

"I wonder if they are satisfied with their lot." He suddenly said out loud. So deep in thought was he that he had forgotten to modulate his voice... so it came out as unearthly daemon growl. It was the curse of his Chapter; a voice box savaged by the flaws of their gene-seed. Scipio shook his head and tried again.
 
"I was <cough> I was wondering if they are satisfied with their lot in life. If they aspire to more, or if this is all they know." Scipio looked a little embarrassed.

"Well done Scippy. Just throw your weakness out there unannounced. Give it a kick, let if be free" he thought to himself sourly.

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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:20 pm

As the time passed, Jahi divided his attention between watching the humans below, and subtly studying the Astartes beside him. The notes he wrote, however, were limited to his observations on the humans.

He was in the middle of writing another sentence when the sudden, unexpected deep growl of words beside him made Jahi jerk upright in surprise, his head turning quickly to look at Scipio. He recalled reading something in passing in the briefings on the Knights Tempest about a faulty voice box, but the terse notes hadn't prepared him for the reality of it.

He could see Scipio's embarrassment though, and made no comment on the voice. Instead he merely hummed thoughtfully for a moment, considering what Scipio had said. "I would say that some are satisfied, content with where they are and what they have," Jahi replied eventually, his tone thoughtful as he turned to look back down at the bay. "Others are not - they want more, and either strive for greater, or stagnate where they are, wanting but not knowing how to achieve." He shrugged casually. "And there are others who range between those extremes, or change from one to another through their lives. No two people are ever exactly the same."

He watched the people below for a moment, then glanced back at Scipio, his expression curious. "What about you, if you do not mind me asking? Are you satisfied with your lot?"
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:43 pm

"Me?" Scipio looked surprised. "Huh. Me..." he chewed the thought over for a while. Finally he shrugged.

"My lot has never been mine to start with." he pointed down at a laborer with a box. "My life has always been as he is now. A job, mission, a purpose. Going from one point to the next at the direction or intent of another. No choice, no option, no question." He drew a finely balanced blade and spun it around in a glittering arc.

"I have ever been a weapon." He gestured at Jahi with it. "Singular goal, singular purpose. Destruction of the targets designated to me. Either as the political tool my oh-so-loving parents had designed me for, or as the Emperor's own scalpel I have become." He spun the blade once more and then leveled it at another worker.

"My lot is nothing more than to kill those my masters deem worthy of death. That's it. I have no choice, no regret, and no compulsion otherwise." He frowned. A thought percolating. He looked at Jahi, a speculative expression in his face.

"It occurs to me that I am a liar. If I truly never thought these things, then the question would not have occurred in the first place." His eyes narrowed. "Was that your doing? A subtle pull on the fabric of my mind? Teasing the threads of thought?" Scipio crouched down. A grin playing across his face, excitement clear, his eyes betraying the hundreds of implications being calculated within.

"That's a trick we can put to use."

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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:03 pm

Jahi listened to Scipio's reply with interest, slotting in the information with what he already knew from briefings and what he'd figured out from their few prior conversations. The knife glittering through the air drew a moment's appreciation for Scipio's deftness in handling it, and Jahi made a mental note to see if the other Astartes would be interested in sparring later.

He raised an eyebrow at Scipio's speculation, then blinked at the questions and Scipio's obvious excitement. Jahi shook his head, his mouth twisting in a slight grimace. "As useful as that might be, I am sorry to say that manipulating other peoples' minds is not part of my repertoire. My skills lie more in the realms of manipulating the physical. The thoughts you have are entirely your own."
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:23 pm

Scipio stared at Jahi for an uncomfortable length of time. His eyes scanning his face, they darted about. Reading, evaluating, judging. Finally he stood up again.

"Well that's a considerable disappointment." He smiled, clearly taking his squad-mate at his word.

All 18 subconscious indicators of lying came up as standard. His breathing was unchanged and his pheromone count was normal. Everything Scipio had learned about Jahi from his hours of playing Stragium and Regicide told him that his psychic brother was being honest. Such a pity, THAT would have been one hell of an edge to have.

With a sigh Scipio went back to people-watching. After another two hours he was finally bored of it all. So he kicked Jahi in the leg again.

"Hungry yet? I could do with some recaf." He looked around. "And a change of scenery... lets go watch people on their downtime. Need to cover that aspect as well, yes?"  


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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:27 am

Jahi remained calm and unperturbed beneath Scipio's intense scrutiny; he was used to the suspicion and distrust psykers like himself were most often greeted with. In fact, it was almost reassuring, compared to the calculated excitement that Scipio had shown just before - that had come as a surprise.

He was somewhat surprised again as Scipio took him at face value, and didn't press the issue. It was a nice change, and Jahi relaxed slightly as Scipio went back to observing the people down below. He'd been worried that his particular abilities might drive a rift between himself and his squad mates, but it seemed that wouldn't be an issue - at least for now.

Jahi had just turned to a new page in his book when Scipio's foot met his leg. He tilted his head in Scipio's direction, a thoughtful look on his face as he considered the suggestion. "A change of scenery and a hot cup of recaf would be nice," he agreed with a nod, closing his book and slotting his graphite stick away. "And observing people in other situations would indeed be beneficial."

He rose smoothly to his feet and rolled his shoulders, letting his book dangle at his hip. Then he suddenly gave Scipio a mischievous little grin that made him look even younger than he already did. "Lead the way. Let us see how lost you get this time."
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:14 am

After 15 minutes of traversing the complex pattern of girders and walkways, Scipio managed to lead them back where they started. He stared at the familiar corner. Like it had betrayed him somehow.

"Fine. YOU lead. Where I grew up we had these things called hallways. And doors. AND MAPS." He growled. "And stop looking so damned stoic about it."


Scipo folded his arms and waited for Jahi to take over. Just because HE grew up on blasted starship...

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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:41 am

Jahi dutifully followed Scipio around the maze of girders and walkways, keeping a completely straight face despite the fact that he wanted to laugh like an idiot. Scipio's betrayed expression when they wound up back at their starting point didn't help.

He raised an eyebrow at Scipio's growling, then finally allowed himself to quirk a smile. "There are maps, if you know what to look for," he replied benevolently. As Jahi began walking, he pointed out a subtle pattern of rivets at one of the junctions of girders. "See those? The patterns acts as reference points. Once you are familiar with the patterns, it is much easier to navigate."

He soon led them out of the maze of girders and down into a proper hallway, then started towards the mess hall. "Have you been ship-side often?" he asked casually as they went.
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:47 pm

"Me? Yes. Often. A good third of my life, pre-abduction."
Scipio strode along behind his red garbed brother, relieved to be following someone else through the maze.

"Of course, it was never anything like this. Private solar yachts, pleasure liners, luxury cruisers." He slid a hand down a dirty pipe and inspected the grime.

"Didn't ever see a square of floor that wasn't covered in thick yinsarrian carpet or a naked women. Usually both." Ducking under a needlessly low girder he vainly tried to flick the oily crud from his fingers.

"I own one you know. A solar yacht. Beautiful ship, 350 units long. Big galley, huge observation deck. Crew of 200... or so."
Scipio finally gave up and wiped his hand on a utility servitor's jerkin as they came down the last set of steps.

"It would last about... oh, 12 ticks against a gunboat. And about a single half-salvo from this vessel."
He sniffed the air, and headed towards the common corridors.

"Do you smell pastries?"

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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:47 pm

Jahi listened with interest as Scipio described his previous lifestyle. The comment about naked women made him blink though, and he tilted his head slightly. "Naked women?" He hesitated for a moment, then just let out a thoughtful "hmm" and didn't comment any further on it.

Instead, he focused on Scipio's words about the solar yatch, and did his best not to smirk as he saw the other Astartes wipe his stained fingers on the servitor's jerkin. "Sounds like quite the ship. Where is your yatch these days?"

As they reached the common corridors, Jahi sniffed at the air as well, then nodded and flashed Scipio a quick grin. "Definitely. Fresh-baked, too." He paused thoughtfully, an almost mischievous light dawning in his eyes even as he schooled his expression back into calm innocence. "How many do you think we'll be able to get away with?"
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:00 pm

Scipio shrugged. "No idea where the yacht is. Probably went back into the family holdings."

They walked along the corridor to the galley. Scipio had pulled out his data-slate and was making inquiries about his boat.

"I wonder if I could get that relocated to me here. It would make an excellent undercover vessel for Inquisitorial agents." he growled, almost to himself. "It would guarantee a better life for the crew thats for sure. Anything would be better than the unkind ministrations of my older brother."

He waved his hand at Jahi as he clarrified "Family brother. Not Astartes Brother."

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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:31 pm

"I am sure the Inquisition would appreciate having such an asset for undercover work," Jahi agreed with a sage nod.

Scipio's comment about the treatment of the yatch's crew made Jahi blink and pause for a moment though. As someone who had spent the majority of their life on a ship, Jahi couldn't fathom anyone mistreating a ship crew. The crew were the lifeblood of a vessel, and without them the ship was nothing but a cold tomb in space. He felt that was probably a topic best avoided, however, and so stuck with a safer thread of conversation.

"Ah, you have an older brother? Do you have any other siblings?" he asked curiously as they drew nearer to the galley, the scent of pastries becoming noticeably stronger.
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:40 pm

"Younger brother, younger sister." Scipio was inspecting pastries at the refractory counter. "If I ever get to go home, I'll make sure my sister advances to future head of the house and holdings."

Scipio gave Ash an darker look. "My dear older brother could do with some bolt-round diplomacy" he said, making a trigger-pull action with his finger."Actually, I wonder if that's the sort of thing I could arrange to have happen from here."
He became thoughtful. "We do have many resou... AHA! This one!" Scipio cheerfully claimed the most jam filled pastry he could discern, looking rather pleased with himself.

"Where was I? Oh yes. Murder. I want someone to murder my brother."

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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:54 pm

Jahi regarded the pastries on display thoughtfully as he listened to Scipio talk. He met Scipio's dark look with his usual calm expression, though Scipio's words left Jahi feeling a little bemused.

"I'm not certain that the Deathwatch is the... most appropriate place to look for such an arrangement," Jahi commented carefully after a moment. "But I'm sure one as resourceful as you could find someone somewhere to... dispense the Emperor's Mercy upon your erstwhile sibling."

He returned his attention to the pastries, and after a moment's deliberation finally selected one that, while not as jam-stuffed as Scipio's, was still suitably full-looking.
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:01 am

Scipio shrugged again, and licked some sugar off his fingers. He gestured to a spare table with an elbow and took a seat.
After grabbing two more pastries and a large hot recaff that is.

"So... you have family? A former life, or is this all you've known?" Scipio pointed around the mess hall.
He would be surprised if he got any real details out of his Brother regarding this, he was more interested in what he wasn't told. What cues and hints he could get from Jahi's body language.

Bit more fun, bit more telling, and very good practice.

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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:55 am

Jahi likewise grabbed a mug of recaff, though he limited himself to only one extra pastry. He followed Scipio to the indicated table and took a seat, setting both pastries and recaff down on the tabletop before him.

He'd just taken a bite of his first pastry when Scipio asked about his own family; Jahi quickly chewed and swallowed so he could answer. "I have spent my entire life aboard the Aten, my chapter's current flagship. I... do not really remember my own parents," he replied, his brow furrowed slightly in thought. "I am told that they were both members of the Spireguard - our ship's naval armsmen," he added in explanation. "But they were killed at some point in the course of their duty, defending the ship from attackers - and I was taken early for training as a neophyte, at any rate, because of my particular... talents."

He tapped the side of his head, then took a sip of his recaff and continued. "I have an older sister - she is also in the Spireguard, though I did not see her very often because of our different paths. Last I heard though, she is doing rather well for herself." He let out a soft chuckle. "I may even be an uncle by now - it will be interesting to find out, once my term with the Deathwatch has ended."
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Fri Nov 27, 2015 10:22 pm

Scipio nodded as the Psyker talked, freely it would appear, of his personal history. Interesting... but not telling. And his body language was relaxed and open.
"Huh." he though "...either a brilliant liar, or he's actually being honest." Scipio chewed thoughtfully on his pastry. "Or he's doing psykerish things. Ah well."

Scipio waited until his Brother had finished talking (or near enough) then fished around in his belt pouch and produced some dice. Deftly dancing them across his knuckles and onto the table, he raised an eyebrow at Jahi.
"No cheating. And the stakes are... loser collects and polishes all the spent casings on the next firing range practice." He held up his palm. "I'll sort it with the Range Officer. You in?"

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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Fri Nov 27, 2015 11:01 pm

Jahi eyed the dice curiously as they danced over Scipio's knuckles, then gave the other Astartes a wide-eyed, innocent look. "I?" He pressed one hand to his chest with a playful air of wounded pride. "Would I ever cheat, brother?" He held the pose for a moment, then dropped his hand again and grinned. "Sounds good to me. I won't cheat as long as you don't!"

He took another bite of his pastry, then raised an eyebrow. "And what shall we do with all those polished casings once we're done?"
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Dingo on Fri Nov 27, 2015 11:08 pm

Scipio blinked. "I... haven't thought that far ahead."

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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

Post by Skits on Fri Nov 27, 2015 11:53 pm

Jahi propped his chin up on one hand and gave Scipio an expectant look, doing his best to hide his amusement. "Oh? Well then, no time like the present, right? Any ideas?" He took another bite of his pastry as he waited for Scipio's reply.
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Re: Warhammer 40K: People-Watching

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