“What is this?” Apothecary Caius Iras asked, his tone glacial. Terran-born, he was pale and grey-eyed—he did not bear as uncanny a resemblance to Horus as some other Luna Wolves, but he was still recognizably one of them. Clad in a simple robe, he nevertheless was an imposing figure. His thunderous expression was only enhanced by the fact that the left side of his face was marred by scars apparently left by something that considered a Space Marine to be a tasty snack.
The object of his wrath was a crude depiction of a phallus, painted with stolen pigment on the wall next to the Apothecarion. And just in case it was not clear, Iras thumped his bionic hand against it, the metal clanging in response like a bell.
The two other objects of Iras’s fury—two youths in the simple robes of Initiates—stood ramrod-straight in front of the angry legionnaire. One was tall, and whip-cord thin, a gang tattoo coiling around his left eye. The other, shorter, stouter, sported a Mohawk. Both looked out of their depth, being forced to brave the wrath of a Luna Wolf.
Another angry thump followed, making the youths jump nervously. It also seemed to coax at least one of them to try and offer some sort of an explanation.
“A dick, sir,” offered the taller Initiate, and the quiver in his voice wasn’t just caused by the fact that his voice was still breaking. He seemed quite aware just how inadequate his answer was, but nevertheless flinched when the Luna Wolf’s glare turned towards him.
“Really?” Iras’s voice oozed sarcasm as he turned to study the offending graffiti with mock-thoroughness. “And here I thought it was a deformed dog choking on a nutrient bar.”
“Um…” the shorter Initiate swallowed nervously. Like his friend, he turned his eyes away when his gaze met the fierce stare of the Apothecary.
“Yes, um,” Iras snorted. “The fact that you two consider this even close to a depiction of penis makes me question the judgment of my brother Apothecaries, because it means that either both of you are hideously deformed or suffer from some terrible sight-impediment.”
“That’s how everyone draws ‘em, sir,” the taller Initiate offered uncertainly.
“Everyone?” Iras repeated coldly. “I will have to consult my reference materials then. Perhaps everyone is developing malignant tumors.”
The two youths shuffled their feet nervously, their uncertainty fuelled mostly by the fact that the inevitable punishment had not arrived yet. Adjusting to the life of a Space Marine was not as easy and seamless for Cthonian gangers. The unwritten rules by which they lived did not apply any longer. Marking one’s territory did not end in a gang-war. It ended in an angry post-human giant snarking at you, and somehow the prospect was far more terrifying.
“Now that we have determined that you have no artistic talent and cannot be trusted to make a depiction of male genitals,” Iras continued, “let’s get to the point. I am well aware that your miniscule brains have yet to grasp the fact that you are no longer members of your little gang. This,” he thumped the wolf’s head embroidered on his robe, “is the only sign you need. Wherever you see it, you are on your ground. You are no longer members of a gang. You are Luna Wolves.”
There was more shuffling, but neither Initiate seemed to want to interrupt the Apothecary.
“As Luna Wolves, you are the protectors of Mankind,” the Apothecary growled. “You are supposed to be the best Mankind has to offer. You are to carry the torch of enlightenment to the darkest corners of the Galaxy. How exactly do you intend to do any of this if you are incapable of depicting something you see every day?” Then, after an ominous moment of silence, he added, “For now.”
Both Initiates, predictably, swallowed and instinctively covered their crotches.
“W-we could learn?” squeaked the shorter one.
“Learn?” Iras repeated, arching his eyebrows. “What a novel and intriguing idea.”
The taller Initiate gave the shorter one an accusing look, having apparently figured out that they were not supposed to interrupt and that his friend just gave the irate Marine more fuel to rant.
“And what, pray tell, have you been doing so far?” the Apothecary hissed. “Playing regicide? Enjoying a life of leisure?” Iras glared at the two, before roaring at the top of his voice, “You should know all of it by now!”
The Initiates flinched. The change of volume had been startling, not to mention a Space Marine yelling at close quarters could be almost deafening.
“If you do not…” the Apothecary said, trailing off to glare at the Initiates again.
“W-we’re terribly sorry, sir!” the taller one whimpered. “We didn’t think-“
“Indeed, you did not,” Iras snorted. “Now, since obviously you have nothing to do and I doubt you can learn a lesson unless it’s reinforced, you will clean your little artistic venture. And by clean, I mean you will lick it off.”
Both Initiates looked at him with wide, terrified eyes. Neither moved an inch, frozen rigid in shock. The Apothecary crossed his arms over his massive chest and started to tap his foot impatiently.
“Well?” he drawled.
“B-but it’s paint,” the shorter Initiate stammered out.
“That’s what the preomnor is for,” Iras snorted. “Once the wall is clean, each of you will write an essay on territorial markings in gangs in the form of genitals. Three thousand words.”
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