• Member Since 27th Apr, 2012
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iowaforever


A writer who writes things.

More Blog Posts225

  • 28 weeks
    Omake: The Magic of Friendship

    Nigthmare Moon had managed to reach the castle before her sister's insipid student and her friends. That would give her all the time she needed to set her trap, and perhaps located the Elements of Harmony before the others did. The dark alicorn roamed the decrepit throne room, searching for the best place to lay in ambush for when the little ponies arrived.

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    4 comments · 324 views
  • 30 weeks
    Happy New Year to you all

    Welcome to 2020.

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    3 comments · 122 views
  • 34 weeks
    Season 10 Bingo

    Hello all,

    As you may have noticed, my updates have been... well, sporadic. I've been dealing with some job-related issues and that's eaten into a lot of my focus, such that I haven't really gotten back into the rhythm of writing again.

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    1 comments · 174 views
  • 64 weeks
    Omake: Three Times Concerning Naomi's Scars

    “... And it is welcome that you all have improved so greatly since our departure.” Sister Naomi continued, Ruth hanging on her new Superior’s word with every word. She looked out the corner of her eye at her new Sisters, some new recruits while others were older veterans, all of them kept their focus on the Superior as if she were the Emperor Himself.

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    8 comments · 430 views
  • 69 weeks
    April Post, Starring Me

    Hello all!

    For those of you that have followed me for some time, it is now April. A lot of stuff happens or has happened in April. First off, today is my Birthday. Go me, I survived another revolution around the sun.

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    6 comments · 212 views
May
14th
2019

Omake: Three Times Concerning Naomi's Scars · 4:57am May 14th, 2019

“... And it is welcome that you all have improved so greatly since our departure.” Sister Naomi continued, Ruth hanging on her new Superior’s word with every word. She looked out the corner of her eye at her new Sisters, some new recruits while others were older veterans, all of them kept their focus on the Superior as if she were the Emperor Himself.

As they should, for she is the representative of His Order.

“I am proud to have you as part of my command, and I am sure we will serve the Emperor well in the years to come.” Naomi finished. “Sister Alice, take the girls to the showers. They deserve some rest. You are all dismissed.”

“Yes, ma’am.” the Sisters chorused, Ruth smiling up at Naomi as she departed. Sister Superior Hannah was one thing, a stern teacher and a harsh disciplinarian, but Naomi... She must be the Emperor’s Wisdom made manifest. I must learn more from her.

“Come on everyone,” Sister Alice said, rising and ushering the Sisters. “Shower quickly before the Retributors arrive. Those gun-nuts always leave this place smelling like the wrong end of a Rough Rider parade.” This drew a few chuckles from the older Sisters, while Ruth’s smile merely slipped a little. She knew of Rough Riders, but what did that have to do with her Sisters?

Perhaps that is something I must learn. Ruth thought. Emperor, Bless your servant with understanding.

The showers were not spectacular, just two walls with ten nozzles for water each. Off to the side were two bins filled with dirty training clothes and other debris, each Sister stepping up to deposit her clothes for cleaning before going to shower. Ruth quickly stripped down, folding her pants and shirt as neatly as she could before setting them gently on top of the other clothes.

“You know there’s no need to be so prim, little Sister,” Sister Alice said as Ruth stepped up to her shower. “It’s just clothes at the end of the day.”

“We must always take care for our gear,” Ruth said, turning to face the older Sister as water splashed down her back. “For to neglect even the smallest thing is to besmirch the Emperor’s Vision for His Daughters.” there was a pause before Alice threw back her head and laughed, a throaty laugh that filled the entire room.

“Oh, you’re an adorable little Puritan, aren’t you?” she chuckled before turning to her own shower. “Naomi’s going to love you.”

“If she’s capable of loving anyone,” another of the older Sisters said. “That woman can be a greater hell than any heretic when she wants to be.” Ruth said nothing, turning around and allowing the shower to wash away her sweat. There was a brief silence, Ruth mulling a few prayers in her mind before Sister B’ellana spoke.

“Sister Alice,” B’ellana asked. “Why does Naomi always wear her armor?” another pause, Ruth reaching for some soap rather than engage in the conversation.

“What do you think, little Sister?” Alice countered.

“I heard it was because Naomi is one of the most beautiful Sisters in the convent,” chirped a third recruit, Yana. “Were she to be seen outside her armor, she would eclipse Gracia and Celestine with her beauty.”

“That’s a new one,” the second veteran said. Ruth had finished with soap and was now rinsing her hair.

“No, it’s not that...” Sister Amelia said, her face contemplative. “It is a mark, a mark only the Emperor can remove. She appears hidden but can only move forward when it is accepted.” Ruth said nothing, still focusing on rinsing her hair, but her fellow Sister’s words did linger; Sister Hannah had said Amelia had been blessed by the Emperor with the gift of foresight, so perhaps this was some form of it manifesting.

Or just poetic nonsense, Ruth thought. Some of the older Sisters shared the same sentiments.

“No need to speak prophecy about it, girl,” a third veteran said, playfully yanking some soap free from one of her fellow’s hands. “Sister Naomi likes to wear her armor almost at all times, and we’ve accepted it. In time, you’ll accept it too.” Ruth turned off the water for her shower, giving her hair a shake before turning to Sister Alice.

“Permission to return to my quarters, ma’am?” she asked, coming to attention as best she could given the circumstances. Alice looked to her with one eyebrow raised.

“I thought you were just putting on all that pomp for show...” she mused. “And wouldn’t you rather go back with your Sisters?”

“Yes, but there is no sin in wishing for a few moments solitude to pray, ma’am.” Ruth replied.  Alice traded a glance with some of the other veterans before speaking.

“Just this one time, little Sister.” she said. “But remember, you’re a part of this squad now. None of this lone hero thing unless you want to die on our first day on Morya.”

“Yes, ma’am!” Ruth said, quickly making the sign of the Aquila before stepping to the end of the room. There, she found a series of white robes waiting for her, and after selecting one that matched her size she stepped out into the corridor of the ship.

The hallway was abuzz with activity, mostly Mechanicus and Imperial Navy personnel making sure the vessel’s Machine Spirit cooperated. Ruth kept her head down as she made her way back to the barracks, her hands clasped below her chest as she walked. Those that did see her gave her a wide breadth, some muttering apologies lest they offend a member of the Adepta Sororitas.

“Blessed Emperor, watch over Your servants,” Ruth said, just loud enough for some of the others to hear her. “Let their work be fruitful and their passion strong, that they may guide us to smite Your enemies wherever they may be found. Holy Emperor, let Your Shield fall upon these men and women who give themselves to You, Lord of Man and Master of the Imperium. Let no blemish fill Your Sight, no sin mar Your Blessings, for Your is Truth, Light, and Strength.”

She did not know if anyone took her blessing to heart... but perhaps, the Emperor smiled on them already.

By now Ruth had reached the barracks hall, spotting dozens of Sisters from as many squads preparing for war. Morya was still weeks away, so Ruth had heard, but the Sisters of the Martyred Lady were not one to leave things unprepared. Ruth passed quickly through the hall, giving those Sisters that greeted her a friendly nod as she passed by in search of her quarters. The transport the Gracia Convent had been provided was quite roomy for one of its class, such that each quad had its own room rather than a large communal quarters.

Perhaps not as great for bonding with the new recruits as a whole, but Ruth was not one to question the Emperor’s design.

Finally, Ruth found the door marked Delta-14, the final barrier between her and her quarters. Smiling, she pushed the door open and quickly stepped inside, closing the door so she was completely alone. Four bunk beds and a single were pushed off to one side, nine almost identical suits of armor arranged neatly on the other. The door to Naomi’s quarters was closed, but Ruth knew she had no business going in there.

Perhaps she is very private, and that’s why she wears her armor all the time.

Ruth pushed that thought out of her mind as she crossed to her armor, an older set covered with scratches and dings, yet tracing the fleur-de-lis and Aquilas set upon the chestplate she could do nothing but grin with barely restrained awe.

This is my armor, blessed by the Emperor Himself, she thought. I shall not fail Him...

“Blessed Emperor, forgive me,” Ruth spun, finally realizing she was not alone in the room. The unmistakable silhouette of Sister Naomi could be seen at the far end of the room, crouched before the small altar the Sister had set up shortly after they had come aboard. She had not noticed Ruth, so focused was she on her prayer, and it took a moment for Ruth to realize she had removed her helmet.

“Blessed Emperor, forgive me of my sin,” Naomi repeated, the rest of her armor creaking as she rocked forward slightly. Ruth took a tentative step forward, keeping her steps quiet so not to disturb Naomi. Prayers of Repentance were not ones to be interrupted, especially if the one doing so was a lowly Sister like Ruth. But what would Sister Naomi asked repentance for? Ruth asked, her curiosity rising. Perhaps she could take her place and listen, and then perhaps Sister Naomi could confide in her.

No, arrogance is unbecoming of a Sister of the Order of Our Martyred Lady. If Sister Naomi does not wish to speak, then it is not for me to ask. Ruth continued onward, moving further to Naomi’s right so she could reach her prayer rug quickly without disturbing the Sister Superior. Just a simple movement, but whether it was the rustling of her robes or a creaking piece of metal beneath her foot, the next step saw Naomi stop praying and turn to face Ruth.

“What are you doing here?!” Naomi cried, Ruth taking a step back in shock. Sister Naomi was an older woman, that much Ruth had already assumed, but her breath caught as she saw the mark on Naomi’s face. Black scars burned in the shape of a bladed flower dominated the older woman’s right cheek, a twisted mockery of the fleur-de-lis of the Sisterhood that Ruth could not draw her eyes from.

Ruth stammered before she spoke again “I-I am sorry Sister Naomi!” she said quickly, stumbling back and bumping against her armor as Naomi rose to her feet. “I-I did not mean to disturb you. I only wished to-”

“To what, find out why I always wear my armor?!” Naomi snapped, her hand flying to her cheek to hide the scar as she advanced on Ruth. “Well, now you know! Will you brand me a heretic, a blasphemy against the purity of the Order?!”

“N-n-no, never!” Ruth cried, tears forming at the corners of her eyes as she continued. “I only came here to pray, I swear by the Throne! P-p-lease, Sister Naomi, I love you-”

“Liar! Not even the Emperor would love one as wounded as I!”

“You are my commander and mentor! I would die for you!” Ruth collapsed on her knees, her tears flowing more freely now. “Please, Sister Naomi! Punish me however you wish, but I meant no offense! I would never betray you, Sister, no matter what we face!” she waited, biting back her sobs as she waited for Naomi’s judgment. When she felt nothing, she ventured a glance upward, seeing Naomi had drawn back... and was fighting tears of her own?

“S-Sister...” she started.

“You saw nothing,” Naomi said, grabbing her helmet and withdrawing towards her room. “You say nothing of this to your Sisters, not until I tell you. If you mention even the slightest thing about this, I will make you wish for death.”

“Sister, I’m sorry...”

“You saw nothing!” and with that Naomi yanked her door open and stepped out of sight, slamming it hard enough to make Ruth flinch. For almost a minute she did not move, as if waiting for Naomi to return and impart a real punishment upon the junior Sister. Sensing this was done, Ruth quickly crawled to her prayer rug, making the sign of the Aquila across her chest before praying.

“Emperor forgive me of my sin,” she pleaded, tears continuing to flow down her cheeks. Faintly, she thought she could hear Naomi sobbing behind her door, but Ruth shook her head to not allow that thought to linger.

It was not for her to know...

But...

“Emperor, hear Your servant and forgive me,” she said. “I mean no shame to come upon my mentor, Sister Naomi. Is she not the picture of purity among Your anointed? Why should I blaspheme against Your will? Blessed Emperor, forgive me of my sin that I might be cleansed, and Sister Naomi may look upon me without fear or shame.” The Emperor did not answer her, but Ruth waited in silence as if expecting His Word. When nothing came, she clasped her hands tighter, repeating the prayer before the door to Naomi’s room opened.

“Sister Ruth?” she said, her voice low. Ruth let out a small yelp, turning to see Naomi standing in the doorway, her head hanging. “You’re still here?”

“W-why would I go anywhere else?” Ruth asked. “You are my commander, and I would never abandon you...” she paused. “A-and I was hoping the Emperor would give me some guidance.”

“... Good.” Naomi nodded. “You’ll make a great Sister of Battle, perhaps even a Canoness in time...” another pause before Naomi spoke again. “Come in. S-since you’ve seen my scar, you might as well know the full story.”

...

“... And then I said to Sister Hannah, ‘No, you’re the one with communion wafer on her lips’!” Ruth grabbed a towel, rolling her eyes as Judith regaled the other two Sisters with tales from their training. The taller one, Rebecca, let out a light twitter of a laugh, bringing her hand to her mouth to hide her smirk as Judith joined in with a chuckle of her own. “Ooh boy, was she mad after that. I couldn’t walk straight for a week!”

“Oh dear!” Veronica said, fighting a smile. “Sister Hannah must have been feeling merciful that day.”

“Too merciful if you ask me,” Ruth muttered, wiping her face down before looking in a nearby mirror. Her eyes lingered on her new scar, the pale flesh breaking the “perfection” of the right half of her face, but she shook her head before it became too distracting. “Come, it’s late. We’ll need to rest before training tomorrow.”

“Well, getting to know one another is a fine training in itself,” Rebecca offered. “We’ve only been a squad for a few weeks and I still know so little about you, or Sister Naomi for that matter.” Holy Throne, why me? Ruth tightened her robe before stepping out into the hall, the other three Sisters following close behind.

The halls were quiet, unnaturally so. With mourning for the Five Hundred still in effect, many of the surviving Sisters barely appeared outside official gatherings, leaving Ruth to lead the others back to their quarters in silence. Ruth would have preferred silence, but her new Sisters were not so keen on the idea.

“Sister Ruth,” Veronica asked from the rear. “Why does Sister Naomi always wear her helmet? Does she not like us?”

“Why would you think that?” Ruth asked, not bothering to turn towards the other Sister. “There is no sin in wanting to be prepared for whatever may come.”

“But we’re thousands of lightyears from the nearest battlefield,” Rebecca added. “No one is going to be attacking Palisades anytime soon.”

“I think she wants to look scary,” Judith chirped. “It’s easier to be scared of what you can’t see than what you can see... or was it the other way around? Some saint wrote about that.”

“Regardless,” Ruth interrupted. “That is a matter for Sister Naomi, not me or any of you. When she wishes to tell you the truth, she will.” there was a pause before she looked to Veronica, offering her a friendly smile. “But she likes you, rest assure.”

“Oh, good.” Veronica said, giving a quick nod. By now they had reached the barracks, the halls still sparse of activity as they crossed the hall to their rooms, the Sisters breaking off once they reached their own quarters. Ruth continued on, stopping in front of a room two doors down from hers before knocking.

“Enter,” Naomi called from within. Ruth pushed the door open, closing it behind her as Naomi turned to face her. She did not wear her helmet, but Ruth was not so naive to stare. “Ruth, how are the new girls?”

“Flighty, but they can fight as well as any other Sister I know.” Ruth said, standing at attention as she continued. “Give them time, and they’ll make you and the Emperor proud.”

“Good, good.” Naomi nodded, turning away for a moment. “I think we’ll move on to drills in full gear tomorrow. Regardless of what Canoness Janessa says, I would like to get us back in the field as soon as possible.”

“Of course,” Ruth said, giving a quick smile. “And I welcome the chance to bring the Emperor’s Wrath on those who think us beaten after Morya.” her smile faded. “Although... they have started to ask questions.” there was a lengthy pause, Ruth tightening her hands as she waited for Naomi to speak.

“... Have they?” the Sister Superior finally asked.

“Yes, Sister Naomi,” Ruth continued. “Innocent talk, mostly. They just want to know more about you and I... mostly you, since you stay on the sidelines mostly and don’t remove your helmet.”

“And I intend to keep it that way as long as I can,” Naomi said, looking back at Ruth with a harsh gaze. “These Sisters have lost just as much as you and I have, maybe even more so if Sister Judith is still crying herself to sleep.”

“...She is.”

“Regardless, why would I wish to burden them with one more worry, that their Sister Superior is not as devout as they think she is?”

“But I know better, and they trust me,” Ruth took a step closer to Naomi. “Sister Naomi, if you just leave it silent they will find out just as I did, and where will that leave us all? Broken and scared, when we are already at our lowest point?”

“Regardless of what I do the result will be the same.” Naomi’s gaze softened. “You’re a good woman, Ruth, but I have had to live with this pain for far longer than you have. I know what I am doing.” Ruth opened her mouth to speak, to try and find some means to counter Naomi, but the words died in her mouth.

“Yes, Sister Naomi,” she said finally, giving a bow of respect before speaking. “Am I dismissed?”

“Yes. Go get some sleep.” Ruth nodded and turned her hand reaching for the door before she stopped.

“Sister Naomi,” she started. “I... I never judge you for your scars. I don’t think the others will either.” Naomi did not respond, so Ruth turned the handle and let herself out. Alone once more, she let out a long sigh and turned towards her room, tucking her hands in her robe as she walked.

She reached her room, stopping as she noticed the door had been pushed open slightly. She stepped inside, spotting Sister Veronica seated on Ruth’s bed, her hands wringing the hem of her robe. “Veronica?” Ruth asked. “What’s the matter?”

“I-I’m sorry to disturb you, Sister Ruth,” she mumbled. “But I really did not mean offense if I inquired about Sister Naomi.” Ruth opened her mouth to speak, but stopped herself. Were it anyone else, Ruth could easily launch into an hours-long lecture on proper decorum, but... Veronica was her Sister now; she was to be treated as a confidant, not an ignorant bystander.

And Judith deserves more lectures than this one does.

“It’s no offense to me,” Ruth said, stepping forward and taking a seat next to Veronica. “I am just a Sister of Battle, and not even the one in question. Why does my offense matter?”

“Well, you have known Sister Naomi for longer than any of us,” Veronica said. “I know it’s only been a few months since... but regardless, she must trust you above all others.”

“That she does,” Ruth said, looking away. “Our transport on Morya struck an antitank mine, and a nearby heavy stubber nest did not do us any favors. Naomi and I were the only ones to get out alive...” she paused. “I saved her life almost as many times as she saved mine...”

“I gathered,” Veronica said. “... I just don’t want to impose or anything. That would be-”

“No, don’t think like that,” Ruth said quickly, looking back at Veronica. “You are in our squad now, and what needs to be said will be said. Sister Naomi is a good woman, as pure and strong as any Sister Superior I have met...” a pause. “She is like a mother to me... Regardless, she will tell you everything when she is ready, when we all are ready. Just have faith in her that she will lead us where we are needed.”

“... I can do that,” Veronica said, nodding and giving a smile. “Thank you, Sister Ruth, for your guidance.”

“I am always happy to be of service to my Sisters.”

...

“... and then she left,” Tara finished, looking to the assembled Sisters with clear worry. “I’m sorry if I stepped into something I shouldn’t have, but I only wanted to help.”

“And you have, in more ways than you can imagine,” Rebecca said, placing a hand on the Student’s shoulder before continuing. “As Ruth said, we have been trying to get Naomi to open up a little more since we first learned, Ruth even more so, but to find that you have had so much success...” Ruth stood off to the side, missing half of what was being said. The other Sisters would not have noticed, but Ruth found herself crying once more.

The Empress’ Student... she thought. I knew Naomi would get help someday, but from the Empress Personal Student?! Oh glorious Lord of Mankind, you do smile upon her. She wiped away a tear, looking down the hall where Naomi had parted. It had been some time since the Sister Superior had departed, the shadows of a slowly falling night growing long in the Imperial Palace, but Ruth thought she could still see Naomi’s shape, her hand resting on her brand and her eyes filled with... Joy? Despair?

That is not for me to know, I suppose... Not yet.

“We shouldn’t interrupt her, though,” Ruth blinked as she was drawn back to reality. She turned as Veronica continued. “Sister Naomi said she would like some time alone, and having once of us going after her would be betraying her trust.”

“I just wanted to see if she’s okay,” Tara said, shying away as she continued. “She left rather suddenly.”

“I’ll go,” Ruth said, drawing the others’ attention to her. “I know Sister Naomi better than any of you, and I have tried to get her to open up more on this before. I should be the one to make sure all is well.”

“Just be gentle, Sister,” Veronica said. “Who knows what Naomi is facing right now?” The Empress knows, but she is not in any position to comment. Ruth turned, starting off down the hall at a brisk pace. The path was not as familiar as she had hoped, twisting and turning as she hurried down the hall, her bolter rattling as she jogged.

Soon, she reached their quarters. Naomi had been in such a rush she had left the door open, her sobbing audible as Ruth stepped in and set her weapon down. “Sister Naomi?”

“My soul...” Naomi said, not even looking up from her seat as she cried. “She said my soul was beautiful... Why doesn’t she see how wrong this is?”

“Because she is right, Sister,” Ruth said, taking her spot next to Naomi and taking the Sister Superior’s hand in her own. “You are not broken, you are not a traitor. You are Naomi, Sister of the Gracia Convent and Disciple of the Order of Our Martyred Lady. Tara sees your purity and goodness, and offers them back to you.”

“I-I can’t accept,” Naomi said, shaking her head. “Decades of shame cannot be so quickly wiped out.”

“Says who? The Emperor walks among us once again, why should your shame endure Her Blessing?” Naomi said nothing, biting back sobs as Ruth reached up and turned the older woman’s head towards her. “Sister... Naomi...”

“Ruth...” she whispered. “I’m so sorry that I... Oh Terra, I’m so sorry I pushed you away!” With that Naomi pulled Ruth into a hug, the younger Sister reaching up to return the favor as Naomi wept.

“There is no need to apologize to me,” Ruth said. “I have always known you were blessed...”

“And yet I kept deflecting, refusing to speak,” Naomi continued. “No one ever looked past my shame... save you. And only now I realize that, I feel like such a damn fool.”

“Just let it out now,” Ruth said, gently tightening her hug as Naomi sniffled. “Your shame is gone... let now your beauty shine through, so others can see what I have witnessed.


These omtakes are mostly just plot bunnies that come into my mind that I wouldn't otherwise be able to work into the story without an extensive amount of reworking. Still, it's writing, and it helps map things out for the long run.

Report iowaforever · 430 views · Story: The Empress Returns ·
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Comments ( 8 )

I think it helps give more character to Naomi, and world build at the same time

Three things.

One, well-written as always; I live having these to tide me over between chapters.

Two, I, like Naomi, tend to struggle with forgiving myself and being gentle with myself. Because of this, a good friend of mine (who is a priest) once told me that I should never be so arrogant as to assume that God can't forgive me. I remember being caught up short by that, until I realized that pride doesn't necessarily mean that we think too highly of ourselves - sometimes it means we think too low of ourselves - we think we know better than God and other wiser people. This is part of why Twilight helping Naomi is one of my favorite scenes in the whole story. It's deeply satisfying.

Three, am I detecting some Honesty-shadowing with Ruth? Or perhaps Loyalty? Hard to say. Either way, I love Ruth.

That was sweet and awesome. I love Ruth and Naomi's relationship.

5058359 As someone who also struggles from being too hard on themselves, I've never thought of it like that before. Thank you for pointing me towards a better way to look at things :twilightsmile:

5059244
My pleasure. Mama always taught me, when you hear wisdom, pay it forward, because it's not yours to horde. One flawed human to another, we're all put on this earth to help each other, so when it comes to wisdom I figure "share it if you got it."

A heartwarming snippet of the Sisters' lives outside the main story. Not to detract from it, but in this part:

“That she does,” Ruth said, looking away. “Our transport on Morya struck an antitank mine, and a nearby machine gun nest did not do us any favors. Naomi and I were the only ones to get out alive...”

In 40k, crew-served machine guns are called stubbers, while infantry rifle-analogues are called autoguns.

5059744 As it happens when I rush these things :facehoof:

Glad you enjoyed the snippet.

5059808
I liked how you were able to keep the strict, no-nonsense duty and piety of the Sisters while still showing their individuality. It's no simple task to keep people in-character with both 40k and MLP at the same time, yet you're doing it well.

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