Assault on Anomgen Base, Pt. 5

Filip hadn’t vomited when they’d crashed into Anomgen Base. He’d passed out, but only for like a second. Max was kind of proud of him for that, honestly.

Trass’khar had hissed in the kid’s face and then licked it with his prehensile tongue. If the serpentii wanted, its spittle could be as caustic as chemical weapons, but there was no reason for that now. On its own, Trasky’s spit just made your skin tingle a little and was lemon-scented.

Max chuckled to himself at that. Evidently it was a mark of shame amongst the serpentii to have such innocuous saliva. When Max had told Trass’khar that it wasn’t a bad thing at all, he’d hissed out something that roughly translated to, “Oh, good. At least the apes like it.”

“What are you laughing at?” Filip asked. There was a hint of nervousness in the kid’s voice, but it wasn’t showing in his body language, in the way he held his pulse rifle. You might have seen it in his eyes, the way they darted around, but constant threat assessment wasn’t a bad trait in a soldier. “What’s so funny?”

“Everything, man. Everything’s funny.”

Filip sniffed in distaste but said nothing. Max just shrugged and turned his attention back to the task at hand, as best as he was able. Psykers could be unnerving, he knew. It was easier to focus one’s energies and powers if they were single-minded, and individuals who could naturally fixate on certain things tended to be more likely to manifest psionic abilities. It was a sort of chicken-or-the-egg type of thing, and nobody really knew if psionic power brought out certain personality traits in people or if something else predisposed those folks to both. Powers weren’t necessarily limited to certain personality types, but there was some correlation there. If you were an angry person, learning how to channel your psionic potential into blasting people was easier than learning how to use it to heal them.

If you were powerful enough to get famous, you tended to get a nickname based on whatever your personality was like. By the time he’d graduated, he’d earned a nickname of his own: The Harlequin. Everything was funny, man. He’d chuckle to himself during tests. He’d laughed as he spat blood after Grigor Zonda knocked him on his ass during a sparing match and knocked out one of his teeth. And as the war with the Annexers dragged on, as months became years and he’d had to bury more and more friends, he told stories of the good times they’d all shared together, misadventures in basic, those surprising moments of levity on the battlefield that hit you just as sudden and as hard as a bullet to the brain.

And now here he was in an enemy base, surrounded, no obvious escape, on a rescue mission because Genni thought she could appeal to her brother’s better nature.



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