Story:Love Can Bloom
It all started so simply....
Love Can Bloom is the title of one of the most
well-loved, heretical, and tl;dr who let the Ecclesiarchy in here? commonly-known pieces of writefaggotry ever to grace /tg/. Once upon a time, there was a drawfag named Miko. She made a comic about a Vindicare assassin falling in love with Taldeer from Dawn of War: Dark Crusade and Dawn of War: Winter Assault. The scene was genuinely well-drawn, so despite it causing nerd rage, /tg/ deemed it worthy of note.
And then, as if to take the above and accelerate it into something more, a skilled writefag drew a fanfic for this. There was a mixture of nerd rage and delight. As the story panned out it told an intriguing and surprisingly deep tale that is widely considered some of the best to come out of /tg/ in the last few years. The story was beloved by the tubernets, who either broadly appreciated it, openly mocked it, or more commonly, both.
The story tells of LIIVI (52.6 in the Roman Numeric system), the aforementioned Vindicare temple assassin, assigned to eliminate a fleeing, critically-injured Taldeer following the fall of the Eldar stronghold in Dark Crusade. Genuinely moved by the sight of the woman and the fact that she is the last of her kind on the planet, LIIVI goes against his orders and becomes Taldeer's guardian, fighting through increasingly-difficult odds in a galaxy determined to destroy them both. The engineered killing machine that is LIIVI discovers his humanity, and Taldeer confronts her inner demons - figuratively and literally. It has spawned at least 2 spin-off works, not the least of which is Core of Brutality and Imber, a continuation of the series. There is also Lofn which is just d'aww.
And then, as if to drive the point home, recent scenarios in Dawn of War 2 have suggested that the entire fucking thing is canon. NO they haven't. They just said that Taldeer died. They plucked a singular, random soulstone from Kyras's demonic ass without even stopping to interview the fucking gem. Predictions: Trolling.
Also LIIVI is now quoted in Dark Heresy:Ascension, and the book also contains a picture of a Farseer stalked by a Vindicare. Win!
"Exitus Acta Probat: the Outcome Justifies the Deed." -Dictum Vindicare
The Vindicare creed is that enemies of the Imperium of Man die ignoble deaths. No trials for these heretics, no recognition of any ability they hold, not even a record of their order to be killed. A quick, surgical procedure, a reflexive, impassive, reaction to eliminate an enemy that leaves behind only the slightest of blemishes, soon to be hushed up and covered for fear of prompting more invisible, bureaucratic executions. Traitors and rebels may gird themselves for the unlimited waves of guardsmen crushing their towns underfoot, continent disintegrating orbital bombings, and fearless, unstoppable, merciless space marines. Yet, how they quail when oh so casually, their honored leader, god figure, demagogue, idol, chosen one, noble general, great hero, neighbor, friend, mother, father, child, or beloved fall lifeless, a round dark hole in their forehead.
"Do not fail."
Most munitions that this assassin had dealt with previously have been subsonic, quiet, subtle machines that he is expected to keep hidden and assemble on site; other dogmas stated that all weapons had to be popular with those populations that were to be affected, to show the Emperor's judgment came from the people.
And then there was the Exitus rifle.
Tough enough to break a terminator's Tactical Dreadnought Armor, quiet enough to not wake the baby you are using for a fire brace. It is immense, huge and unwieldy, a full one point eight seven meters long when fully deployed, nearly as tall as the man carrying it, weighing eight kilograms unloaded, a full nine loaded.
"One shot is all I need."
By all means, Governor-Militant Alexander should have dispatched a Culexus. Whatever psychic blasphemy the witch unleashed, would have been stifled by the sheer terror generated by it. It was as close to monster a human could get and still be beloved by the Imperium. Only just.
Lukas Alexander hated those things. That's why the Vindicare had been dispatched. That, and a tangible reminder of the consequences of failure.
"Standby for drop order." The sighting array switched through the spectra, finally settling on human normal. The Vindicare enjoyed those brief moments when the targets were confirmed.
Eldar. Perhaps a one and two five meter tall one. Neck doesn't break easy, little bone. Very flexible. The Primary was having trouble with its helmet, and the Vindicare waited. A combat mission was free of the various restrictions, implications, and extenuating circumstances that were far too often glued to it. A swift kill was all that was necessary.
"Appears injured," he murmured into the mouthpiece. Just in case Lukas was listening. He was a paranoid man, the Inquisition playing both sides in the conflict between Astartes and Guard. Better to assuage the Governor that he was following policy.
"All the better. Drop her," The commander had no appreciation for the moment. Orders were orders. His finger was on the trigger-
"Wait, something's happening-"
"What do you mean you can't? Soldier? What's going on?" Lieutenant Ardrin shot a glance at the monitors across the screen, running down the various cryptorunes that festooned the archaic mechanicals, "The Techpriest checked every last one of these things for flaws in their machine spirits, so I KNOW there is nothing wrong with you. What is the difficulty?"
"I say again, assassin, what is the problem? Are you under attack? Is the Eldar dead?"
The glow of the glass machine in front of Ardrin said nothing. He sighed, and then turned to the vox operator next to him, currently relaying status reports on the destruction of a building to Lukas.
"Inform Lukas that the Vindicare is unresponsive." The officer nodded, speaking a word of prayer before entrusting it to the waves on the wind. The response was short in returning.
Dispatch two chimeras fully loaded. Contact the killer's handlers. Pray for forgiveness.
To know the future is to look upon an ocean of possibility. Twisting, turning vast and serene at the distance. What a harmonious blue it seems ahead of you, blended together with but the vague hints of surf and wave edging and bouncing across the way. You approach it, details start to come forth, and for a moment, you can see the lines of tide, the touch of the wind, rocks set in there, and aquatics going in and out of it.
Now you are on the beach, and you can see the future coming at you, then pulling back, a hunger determined by rocks in the sky and the density of particles hundreds of miles away. You stumble over a gewgaw vomited forth by the surf, but you can't stop walking forward. Cold, it seems to push you away at first, but then it pulls, pulls firmly. Suddenly, the possibility and limitless potential you saw a mile back is gone, replaced by green and white and blue pulling you down into the dark.
That's how this battle was. It seemed so simple, so easy at first. Then she stepped in, and suddenly she was in the middle, sucked out and away, her possibilities narrowing and tightening like water running down lungs. In the distance, screams of her kin, valuable every one of them, more long lives dimmed and smothered by a horde of sparks. Quick lived humans.
Then it was impossible. She had gone so far as to charge, for a moment caught on the path of the warrior all those blood obsessed spoke so highly of. And what did she get?
Stabbed through the torso for it.
It was the adrenaline, the tactical necessity, her own fate, to flee. Anything but cowardice. The helmet was stifling. It had to come off, she had to breath- It wasn't the helmet. It was blood, filling her throat. She leaned heavily on her spear, opening her mouth, spit and blood running out like a fountain, that she used to know.
A kilometer and a half under her, she hears grinding.
The tide is coming back to her.
"You had better give me a GOOD reason why in the name of the Throne you gave an order to move out my assassin on your own, Ardrin!"
Lukas was angry. Still injured, with the high of triumph dashed upon the rocks of disappointment, he was hardly pleased. He had had to order his troops that they could not stand down yet, and the reaction had been as expected: Nineteen floggings, one execution for Conspiracy to Sabotage Imperial Morale.
"Sire, I have served you lon-"
"Yes, from Cadia. I had TRUSTED you. Do not dare bring up any terms of friendship, I should have you SHOT for disobedience."
"Well- Look at your condition."
The medicae swam around Governor Militant Lukas Alexander like flies, stitching up wounds and removing broken ribs to replace with new ones. His power packs had burst, scorching a full half of his torso. And unlike Sturnn, mused Ardrin, Alexander tolerated the longer treatment time to heal the cosmetics. Of course, unlike Sturnn, Alexander was to be a governor.
"That, that damn witch unleashed her, her, her witchcraft upon me," Lukas stuttered, as a greater dose of the pain dimmers hit him, "And she g-GOT away, if you had just let me-"
"Let your retinue carry you around, with a mobile med station at the ready, and your soldiers distracted from securing Tyrea? Of course, I'll just invite those Orks next door to share a glass of Amasec sire."
"I have a commissar outside."
"And I know you're smart enough not to execute an honest aide," Ardrin spread his hands, "I was thinking of the greater campaign."
Alexander sighed, nodded slowly, wincing again, "Very well. I'll afford you this luxury. I must admit," He waved the untreated hand down to himself, "I was hardly in any condition to act. Thank the Emperor for unh - the fine medical supplies the men got from those Tau- Not that we need to tell anybody about this."
"Of course sire. And the Officios of the Assassinorium?"
"I expect they're already here."
The Eldar's biology is similar to a human's. They still have sweat and adrenal glands, they have pupils that dilate, lungs that draw in more oxygen in preparation of a standard fight or flight situation. What they do not have are the instincts of a human being. A human being (As was drilled into the Vindicare at the Temple) when confronted by a situation of fear will scream to alert members of its family unit, will attempt to either keep the predator in sight, or flee blindly to shelter or more family units. A sign you have done a job poorly is when the target is allowed to display the fear instinct. Typically, these instincts manifest themselves in the "Secondaries" onlookers, targets of opportunity, and the populace that one is attempting to get the message to. This is considered victory.
However, when it comes to Eldar, they do not follow human instinct. The Farseer in the Vindicare's sights does not scream, she draws her foot back, places both hands on her weapon, lowers her center of gravity. Sweat does not appear on her skin, rather muscles tense and relax, testing each. A moment of sensitivity in her abdominals, then release, as the weight shifts once more. A gloved hand reaches up, pulls back long black hair out of her eyes.
But her eyes, they do dilate. The Vindicare's spymask zooms in on the point to which he already looked; those frightened eyes focusing on a patch of dirt. Sharp metal breaks through dry dirt.
The ocean is around Farseer Taldeer now. She drifts on the eddies, bobbing away from the hungry black below. Whenever death came close, she could feel it tugging, not the ocean tide, but something hungry. Fate mocked her, jeered her, pointing down there, but she had to ignore it, put it out of mind. And the smell of Lameras.
She drifts up, her fingers running down the wraithbone howling spear, runes of victory, rage, Khaela Mensha Khaine, Biel Tan, rebirth, death, and Ulthwe, sliding between her fingers. She breathes in the sharp air of an alien world, one that she always loathed, but now was smelling familiarly of something. On the air was something else, rust, and the innate, repulsive soulessness of the Great Enemy. Her eyes flutter, pale light filtered by eyelashes. An eddy washes over her; voices of dirt and stone and dead bones buried saying, "Here."
She draws her hair back, swallows her blood, and looks at the ground. Wicked knives sprout from dead Earth. Wraithbone whistles through foreign air.
Sweep in low, drag it out so as to finish it, it moves down, dips into the ground, tearing up yellow grass and slamming into the pair of hands, pulling it up, revealing the roots of a vile steel skeleton. Only half out, and her spear is only half through the second hand. The first falls on the ground behind it, rolling and twitching in its search for flesh and blood.
She surges forward, as the hand pulls out of the edge of her blade with unnatural strength. She steps across and in the blink of an eye slams her foot into the things face, ramming it back into the ground, revealing the neck. A bare instant before a response was formulated in the thing's brain, Wraithbone severs its head, sending sparks gushing.
Taldeer had to rely upon speed. The only moment they were vulnerable, and even then was just barely was when they came out of the ground. She might have had a chance before, but-
She feels her side. Blood warm, with stray strings of meat snapped with her last exertion. And as if to remind her, pain shot through her body, sending her to her knees. She looks up, the Flayed One uncovered, emerging from the ground, performing what she logically knows to be status checks of their corporum, but what for the life of her seem to be the stretches and aches of predators reawakened. Cracks of stone lodged in their living metal echo across the valley. There was a tomb under here, there had to be.
One comes closer, cocking its head. Insanely enough, she wonders why it hadn't already struck. Was it checking the database against traps and ruses pulled millennia ago? Verifying her against accounts of age old enemies reserved for torture or consumption? Come on, she thought bitterly, gripping her spear, this one line of fate where I don't die, needs you t-
"Windspeed, 4km/hr, distancing, 1.6 km, .67 cm adjust."
Foreign thought. Tasted li-
"Necron. Acid rounds recommended. Shoot the joints."
She blinked, astonished, as the sun was blocked out by a raised hand.
A kilometer and a half away, the slight sound that one could mistake for a finger snap is heard.
Taldeer raises a hand in front of her face as a bullet rams into the center necron ribcage, shards of hypersonic shrapnel nudged by fate and her mind away from her. The metallic horror's spine, set at a one hundred and forty five degree angle, tilts, its claw flailing at where an Eldar used to be in its fevered program, before the acid finishes what a near kilogram round couldn't, and it falls in half.
Three flayed ones look to the horizon, as another finger snaps.
Lukas Alexander stayed where he was, overseeing the incineration of the Eldar corpses, the troopers clad in chem masks and biochemical armor. He turned his head, slightly, to see three men far apart from one another. One was leaning on an ammo dump, having a smoke, the other carefully standing guard in front of an entirely unimportant building. The third, was a man dressed in immaculate uniform who had conveniently forgotten any sort of identifier.
"Soldier," Alexander turned back to look in the pit, promethieum lapping the sides. A weak hand raised, and one of the incinerators yelled, pointing down. All five turned their main jets on the offending motion.
"I need to brief you sir," the soldier blinked carefully, "On the situation."
Lukas nodded carefully, turning away from the bubbling hiss, "And your comr-"
The soldier stepped far too close to the governor in the space of a moment, placing a hand on his shoulder, his pinky sliding along to the Governor's carotid.
"My credentials are all in order, and don't bear mentioning sire. Where and when would you like the briefing?" The pinky slid up to the base of the chin, following the line of the pulse.
There was much the Governor Militant would have said. He would have laughed at the false soldier, threatening with a finger. Lukas would have loved to tell the fake all that Lukas had done in service to the Emperor of Man. He would have struck the man, shot him, and ordered the other two executed. Would have.
"I feel, we should meet immediately. Alone. In my command tent," He whispered, his mouth suddenly run dry.
"Thank you, Governor Alexander," the soldier murmured, removing his hand and turning on his heel. "But I feel that Ardrin should come, wouldn't you say sire?"
"Of course," Said the Governor, turning, following the man, and coincidentally followed by the other two soldiers minding their own business.
Behind him, the smoke drove high into the sky.
"Now," Said the man of the Officio Assassinorum, "You can be candid," he spread his hands, "Forgive me, my lord, but the secrecy of our service holds utmost sway over any respect for command. Do you wish to have me flogged, or denied rations? I believe those are penalties that you may inflict on me."
Lukas had just sat down, and paused, looking up, "Pardon me? Just who ar-"
"Specific ranks, alas, I can not divulge, even within these sound proofed walls, and before you say commander, the Inquisition had the walls soundproofed, just in case of a situation like this. Helps to assure no unfortunate leaks of confidential information. Would like to lock me up in the stocks? They have some stocks on the ship."
"It's a good thing your officer is unarmed," said the man turning on his heel, placing a too clean and soft hand on the Governor's table, "He seems the type to resist, fortunately my two comrades are just the type to take him in with a minimum of fuss, hmm, assaulting a fellow officer, my my, what a time at the whipping post for me!" The man turned, a smile on his face.
"Who ARE you?"
"My name would seem nonsense to you, I'm afraid. Actually, I should rephrase that; names, at least in my temple, are determined by missions completed. I feel that as Governor, at least in this current crisis, you must have some means to refer to me."
"And you would be?"
"Midilv," As Lukas opened his mouth, "I regretfully ask you to puzzle that one out for yourself."
"Why are you speaking so deferentially?"
"Because I am a loyal servant of the Emperor, and the Inquisitor has instructed me to obey you."
"There is an Inquisitor here?"
"He is not... Public," Midilv leaned in, his lips drawn taut across his too symmetrical, pore-less face. "Of this you should mention in thanks to your prayers to the Emperor tonight."
"The Vindicare," Lukas raised a hand before Midilv spoke. "And just the facts, thank you very much. I'm not in the mood for your shame and self mortification, or hints at machinations above and below," Lukas leaned in. "Just. Tell. Me. About. The. Vindicare."
The two casual guardsmen entered, bearing Ardrin between them. Ardrin looked clearly intoxicated on victory amasec. Looked. Midilv continued, heedless of the new company.
"The Vindicare. Right. Where to start: The obvious. He shouldn't be capable of this."
The entirely ordinary guardsmen lined themselves behind their speaker in formation. Lukas stared at the three of them, as he sat back heavily, color draining from his face.
Rebellion was something that happened to ordinary men. It was something that happened in myth to the Space Marines long, long ago. The Assassins were an urban legend. They were a myth. Alexander was unaware of their existence until shortly before the invasion of Kronus. They were said to be inhuman. Machines of flesh and bone and Imperial propaganda. They were ideas, they were mankind's secret monsters, held on short chains and reduced to lives as valuable ammunition.
How can ammunition rebel?
Appeared recently. Date of origin, areas of operation, all invalid and untaught to the Vindicare.
The N20 coolant sheath is cool to the touch. A bad sign. Heat distends accuracy, and it should be freezing through the gloves.
The finger snaps, and the kick rams into the Vindicare's shoulder. A kilometer away, wraithbone spear impales the already fragmented skull, and pulls down, ramming through into the torso, pulling her up. Through the scope, she glitters. She shines. She glows radiant. In every spectrum.
Range has to be shortened, concludes the Vindicare. Naturally, in order to increase accuracy and allow a change to the secondary weapon. Naturally.
The Vindicare stands, and starts moving forward. His eye never leaves the scope. And the scope always seems to find itself back onto her. The finger snaps again.
Farseer Taldeer's hands come apart, and together, the fingers dancing and sliding across the wraithbones, her eyes, following the head of the blade, as it slides, up and away, traces of the bitter living metal following from the body.
Two down, five to go. The tide pulls around her, leaving her untouched where only moments before she was doomed. How?
Heavy footsteps crash into and rise from barren earth, as another silent Necron charges the Farseer from behind.
She feels the shot through the waves before it hits. A bullet, sliding through the machine's equivalent of a right thigh, and ending in it's left knee. She kneels, bringing the blade up, into the falling creature's neck, and then pulling back to impale the one that tried to stab her with claws lost from a bullet.
A human. A human was helping her. She could tell, by the caliber of the rounds. All brute force, no understanding of the harmony of a battle. Not made to end the battle right, but to end the battle now.
She couldn't be more thankful. The abomination in front of her still lived, sliding forward, scratching the wraithbone. She stepped back, pulling her weapon free, and nearly stepped too far before she felt the fates turn down into the dark hunger, and stopped in time to miss the claws of the one behind.
She leaps again, soaring by her will, and glanced down. Three left. One of them damaged. Confidence runs up and down her, as she falls back to earth, bracing herself as the pain in her side reminds her that she isn't unhurt herself, but she still feels so good. The three turn as one to face her.
There is a snap. Two Necron automatically track the third's head as it flies off the already damaged neck, landing on the ground to their right. They turn back to her. Waiting, for something. She couldn't lose the initiative.
She surges forward, low and ready. The one on the left has uneven footing, the living metal slower to adapt to the rocky landscape under it than true flesh. She steps first to the left, fate singing its assurances for the direction, then drives in, spear ahead-
And sees the Necron take it. No reaction. His comrade, is a blur of motion.
The Fates laugh, as the necron metal and her armor emit a symphony of shrieks.
The Necron she impaled looks passively on, it's hands reaching out and holding onto the spear as she attempts to pull it back with her one good hand. No use.
She lets go, twisting, biting her lower lip as the last of her arm guard gave way, giving the slicing talons access to her untouched flesh, she pulls, her bitten lip gives blood, and her arm shrieks in pain as she falls back, injured arm held close, she pulls back.
The impaled Necron stares down at her spear, as the metal dislodges it, slowly shaking and undulating it free. The other, stares for a moment at the blood on its claws, the ragged cloth and skin held, and compulsively wipes and twitches it across itself.
The two turn, diving low, scuttling forward, going on either side of her.
The ocean is gone. There are no tides, no eddies, no drifts anymore in the possibilities. Every way points down.
Ordinary human beings do not hold a rifle in one hand, and a pistol in the other. Much less a rifle designed to pound a near kilogram round across a battlefield to, if necessary, blow apart a monstrosity spawned of nightmares and the unholy vagaries of the Warp. The pistol was little better than a sized down version of the rifle. This is because it might break your arms. A space marine wouldn't do it because it was stupid.
The Vindicare reflected on this as he jumped over the embankment, rifle down his shoulder, and pistol in his hand. His eyes switch between each in the time of a blink, lining them up with two skulls.
This is going to miss, he thought. Two snaps were matched with two unbearably loud reports of metal rammed into. Those bullets aren't even going to kill them, probably. Two metal skulls were reduced to molten, slightly caustic and soggy shrapnel. I'm probably going to end up hurting something.
He landed with grace, next to Farseer Taldeer.
"A Vindicare should not be mistaken for a human being. Contrary to a human being, who is filled with distractions, memories, and connections to others, a Vindicare is a well oiled machine. He was raised and trained, from birth, that the only reason he wasn't dead, raped, ruined, or suffered under any other horrible abuse that we could think of, was because of the Emperor. They were taught that they were selfish monsters, to even think of being different from their fellows. Their vocabulary is limited to only that which they need. Any deviation is punished by torture. They were taught to hide from their teachers and administrators, and to only come out when the mission was complete, and only when they received word from an authority figure that acted the impeccable imperial. Any deviation was punished with torture. The sense of smell is cultivated carefully. We have attempted to teach them to tell the difference of weapons by discharge smell. Any exposure to perfume, or anything pleasant and unneeded in their missions is punished by torture. Callidus require some socialization to blend in. Culexus, with their small pool of recruits have need to take in any they can find. Eversor, their combat drugs do the trick. Never shall you find any more well disciplined than a Vindicare."
"So what happened to this one?"
"We failed to punish him for a botched mission."
"A botched mission? You let him live after a botched mission? And you gave him to me after that? I am responsible for liberating a world-"
"One of a million, sire. And oh so many people want assassins. This was one of them. An Inquisitor working on a world desired to send a message to the governor. The Vindicare was supposed to take out one of the primary's personal secondary's."
"His mistress. The Inquisitor added stipulations. The Vindicare finished the job, but he failed to complete these stipulations."
"How did you manage to defy an Inquisitor?"
"His luck held. The Inquisitor was shortly thereafter purged before he could bring his wrath to bear, and the Inquisition informed us that they would take no action against us."
"He did kill her, right?"
"Then what's the matter now? He was fine earlier in the campaign."
"Combat stress? Machines do wear out, barring proper maintenance. Some machines sooner than others. Does it matter? What matters is that your men out there shall not find him, even with our guidance that we provided them."
"We are not sabotaging them. I'm just telling you that the Vindicare are trained to be a force of nature. They strike as lightning upon the heretic, they are as hard to catch as the wind, and they are as easy to find as a mote of dust in the rainforest. Do not worry though. He will be found. There is always a contingency."
Slaanesh was near.
It shouldn't be like this. She was trusted to come, to guide the lessers to extinguish the threat throbbing rotten in the core of Kronus, and leave them in confusion. Yet, here she was, helpless, losing blood, fallen to fool pride; at the mercy of something. Someone. Someone with a presence at least. She took a small comfort in that, and the soulgem at her neck.
Primary suffering internal bleeding, blood loss severe, the thoughts came through again. Her eyelids flickered momentary glances of a too bright gray sky. Why did they come unbidden?
Pain, pain, currently showing resignation. Job unclean, Primary has high chance of survival. Good mission. How, how, how to clean primary?
The thoughts were jumbled, mashed, rigid iron roads set that his thoughts ran through, but there was something active in there.
She felt a hand touch her. She opened her eyes, and pushed out, pure reaction.
A moment, and she was sitting up, regretting it immediately as fire lanced up and down her. The thoughts came again.
Primary is active. Medical science far easier than expected. Damage to self, superficial. Now... a lengthy pause, then hesitant, uncertain, Converse?
"You're okay...?" A voice flat and muffled came behind her. At first a statement, then a question, as she tottered again. This time, she was caught.
Commissar Daniel glared out of the top hatch of the Chimera.
"This is RIDICULOUS!" he shouted, turning to the poor sergeant down inside the chimera, who was genially standing and listening to the bellicose man.
"How so, sire?"
"The soldiers of His holy wrath should not be prancing about in the middle of nowhere, chasing some worthless incapable who got himself lost! We should descending upon the Orks, take advantage of our victory-"
"Do you doubt Lord Lukas?" The sergeant casually said, looking away.
"If I didn't have all my faith behind noble lord Lukas Alexander, I wouldn't be doing this," Commissar Daniel finished with a glare. The sergeant nodded amiably, a large happy grin on his face.
Local yokel, thought the Commissar, as he stepped back inside the chimera. Probably never even heard of Cadia, much less appreciate what the glorious Imperium was doing, gifting this pathetic dirtball with the grace of His mercy to liberate it. He glanced at the auspex. Five kliks left.
He leaned back, pushing forward his cap. Commander of thirty guardsmen, each armed with the best weapons they were ranked for, with the authority to kill any one of them or any one in their way to recover one missing soldier, and all he wanted was a drink.
"No, get, get, off..." She pulled against whatever was holding her, had to get up, get away from the mon-keigh-- but she was oh so very tired. She stilled, still looking down, tensed, waiting. The seas of fortune were still, she had to reflect that stillness.
"Primary, I, I...I'm, I'm sorry, you're not Primary, you're..." The voice was muffled. She stared up. Faceless. Matte black stealthsuit, a pistol in the holster. Comm mike, dangling by a wire. Compact, hard frame, well formed for a human.
In a purely military sense of course. She had to estimate that it was best to just lay back. She was hardly in any shape to resist him, and he wasn't hostile. Yet. Stay neutral. Clipped. Communicate in their gothic language, but make clear no weakness.
"Farseer Taldeer. Your name?"
"L-I-I-V-I," He had a mind of iron, well trained to keep her out. It was always hard to translate human thought, but she prided herself on her mastery of psionics. Yet, frustratingly, she was on near equal footing with a mere soldier with a gun. All she felt were some whispers of emotion. Autonomous, instinct, identification.
"Do you always spell things out, Liivi?" Liivi? Strange name.
"I think this is my first time." She noted with surprise her captor was rusty in his own tongue.
"Why were you shooting the Necrons?"
"Secondary objective: destroy hostile combatants."
"And the first?"
Liivi paused, looked away.
A whisper of a thought passed through her head, as she stared intently at him. The iron bars of his mind shifted, subtly, until they stuck.
"To protect you."
"A full history of the Vindicare's career, if you please."
Lukas blinked, glancing at the now fully conscious and hurting Ardrin. "History? You're the handlers."
Midilv sighed, leaning back in his chair, opening hands for the "guards" behind him to place a dataslate and quill into. "We do take care of him, keeping him in an isolation cell and maintaining his health, yes; but if you recall, your landing at Victory Bay and the following conquests were chaotic. He was out of our hands and served on the field."
"But," Ardrin said, "he would leave between missions, just disappear. We assumed he was going back to you."
"Mission probability post-combat rejuvenation/isolation, reset and remaintain for next operation in greater campaign." Lukas glanced over at one of the four faux guardsmen.
"Don't blame him, he doesn't know how to speak. Blending with civilian populaces isn't our strong suit; best to avoid only after one's proven his worth. That is our temple's dogma. We have proven success by this. What he meant was that your assassin was probably removing himself from the soldiers, as taught, and to attain a good position with field of fire, and if possible, meditate, insert a food pack to his veins, clean and repair his weapon, and sleep half hour cycles. Not that that matters, I want to know every single thing you ordered him to do in the bare three months he has been out of our eyes."
"Support of soldiers in taking the industrials of Victory Bay," Ardrin wrinkled his nose, "Nasty fighting. We got tipped off about a Tauphile schism. Er, Tau sympathizers were fighting each other."
"And I ordered him to cover fire. Occupants were in the house, I ordered him to clear it. There was a family."
"Hmph. Wouldn't affect him. He understands families to be the smallest and most informal squads, nothing more. He wouldn't care."
"Protect me?" Taldeer realized she had to remain casual. There was a lie in his voice, even if it wasn't in his mind. Some mon'keigh thug hired by one of their damned Inquisitors who wanted to be "enlightened" or to steal technology, just what she needed, "Why me?" She was too injured to argue right now.
"It is a duty." He doesn't know, she realized. And he was very confused about it. Typical idiocy, these humans hadn't even explained the purpose to their henchmen. Guess that's what you get when you are so many with so short to live.
"Perhaps," Farseer Taldeer said, "You may do something about my injuries. And cease holding on to me."
The most important thing at the moment was ensuring immobility. Her men would come soon, she could be evacuated easily, and this one human would. Would.
She would think on it.
She was not expecting that.
"How? Well, shouldn't you know that? I've felt it flash through soldier's minds." When I hack them to screaming pieces with my weapon, let's not mention that bit. "When, they, uh..."
"Are dying? I was taught that was a common response, the call for a 'medic'. It replaces or supplements call of maternal member of the family squad, or paternal more rarely. Nurture, healing, are associated with it. I am taught that if the shot is unclean, and the target is out of sight, all those who bear the common sign of a healer are to be shot," Taldeer stared, and Liivi stared down back at her, then, as if to explain, "To disable any chance of the Primary resuscitating and rendering the mission a failure."
"Perhaps it is best if you set me down. And keep watch for more enemies, while I treat myself."
The surf doesn't chop. The tide ebbs, insignificant, rising and falling, like the ocean was sleeping. Farseer Taldeer sits on the beach of tomorrow and in the Tyrea plains of Kronus.
Three kilometers away, through the rough terrain, wraithbone psychoplastic bubbled as the last of the consecrated promethium burned off of the Bonesinger's arts. The webway was long destroyed, reduced to shards as she had evacuated through it.
A mere kilometer under her, the presumed home of the necrons had turned quiet; for now at least. As she recalled, the nearest possible position of her battlegroup was at least fifteen kilometers away.
And nine meters away was the human. Mon-keigh. Killer. Assassin. Weapon. Savior. He had knelt down, rolling out a plastic canopy which he laid his rifle down upon, and was cleaning it one handed. The other carried a pistol, straightening and pointing at the rustles of wind, and the far off thunder of ordnance. The face mask remained intently focused on the rifle the whole time.
Farseer Taldeer took out her runestones, and after a moment's contemplation, her shuriken pistol. She grabbed a handful of her dice, raising them to her spirit stone. She was injured, cut off from support, alone with a self declared assassin. Time to roll the bones.
Nine rounds used. Eighteen remaining. Hellfire, turbo penetrator, and shieldbreaker ordnance, still in reserve.
Movement at 321 degrees. The arm holding the Exitus pistol snaps over by reflex, the third eye sight unable to clearly catch up. Primary was rolling dice. All of her equipment was beside her. She appeared to be dropping some sort of smaller equipment.
The N20 coolant sheathe emits a small hiss as it slides over the barrel. The Vindicare returns his pistol to the holster, replacing the magazines. Packing together and reassembling his rifle.
They would be tracking him now. The small electronic whine on his person told him as much. The terrain was rougher, the commander had chosen the battlefield to hem in the Eldar, force their hover vehicles to slow and show themselves above cover. Made for a difficult time sending forces out of the base though.
The Vindicare stood up, flicking through the spectra as he glances over a horizon purple, green, pigment streaked, ruined soup of black and white. A concrete heat signature, atypical of a chimera half a kilometer away.
Vindicare doctrine taught that engagement with pursuers should never be undertaken when the targets knew where you were. Misdirection, panic, and dissolution were the three objectives when handling hostile trackers.
The Vindicare placed a fresh three round clip into his magazine, and stepped low among the long grasses, following the yellow white smear of thermal exhaust in the sky.
Lukas took another gulp from the water, sweating from every pore, as the three Officio Assassinorum handlers stood before his table, their poreless faces still. Ardrin was to his left, pale and shivering, still suffering from the chemicals washed through him.
"So, it's very nice that you explained to me exactly how much you think I screwed up in handling your defective wind up killtoy, who apparently was so perfect that he fucked up a job before he came here; but you haven't explained to me how I avoid having to worry about receiving a bullet between the eyes whenever I go outside from the one of the Imperium's finest fallen."
"Napalm the area, a good three kilometer radius should serve to deprive him of oxygen. Deploy the Aeronautica and carpet bomb the area. Break the Obsterm dams up north and deploy a third of your manpower salting, poisoning, and watching the plains flood that'll occur."
"Hyperbole is very charming, and useful in military situations, and not in the least unwanted."
"And sarcasm is a pleasant and original way to respond to statements you do not like. All I have told you are guaranteed ways to eliminate your problem," Mildilv waved his hand, "Of course, we can wait for him to run out of ammo for his Exitus weapons, which would allow you to run normal operations without worrying about officer heads popping, and then for him to run out of food."
"That would actually work?"
"Of course. He is incapable of social contact, and dependent upon the nutritional packs he has been indoctrinated to consume. He might well starve. Barring any civilian assistance, three weeks from now, you won't have to worry about him, if the Orks or Space Marines don't get him first."
Ardrin for the first time spoke, nervously. "And the farseer? What if she intervenes?"
Mildilv raised an eyebrow. "Then he'll die sooner, with an injured parasite clinging to him."
The chimera of the Imperial Guard is about as simple and reliable as a vehicle can get without it being pedal powered. Long lived chimeras in active use soon resemble their namesake, seeming mechanical abominations with piece after piece welded to them. The hatches replaced by doors stolen from civilian buildings, hastily covered in metal roof sheeting. Shorn off track pieces replaced with crudely fitted boiler plates. discarded power pack casings molded into hinges. The machines would run unwell, sending the Techpriests and Enginseers into hysterical fits, begging forgiveness from the machine spirits, and repairing and replacing what they could identify and find at the parts depot. But the older chimeras would get a slow mottled look over them, like a child mixing clays in a creche, it was impossible to separate metals and alloys at a basic level without rebuilding the whole thing. They wouldn't run well, but they would most certainly run.
A chimera, as taught in vindicare doctrine, was a terrible headache to deal with. Tanks were less of a worry, as those deploying tanks against assassins were considered tactically inept, and the vindicare gained some honor in tying up valuable resources. Height, urban combat, and tactical use of screens would put the tanks on even footing. A chimera on the other hand, could always be used.
A sniper holed in a building, the chimera would bash into the ground floor, disgorging soldiers. If the building collapsed, so what? There was always another chimera. No illumination, headlights shot out, smoke screening everything? Just drive. You'll find your way out eventually. As much as anything else the turbo penetrator round was developed to counter these situations.
Two chimera crawled through the bush and over the hills and rocks, as the kilogram heavy, green banded bullet was placed in the chamber.
Commissar Daniel poked his head out of the hatch again. The tech guy had said the auspex picked up something coming closer. Should be in sight range. One MIA, and all this trouble. He hoped that this was really one huge birthdate surprise for one of the soldiers. So that he could then shoot whoever was responsible.
"Got a direction?"
"Should be Cardinal East."
"Left or right soldier, or pass me up a compass!"
"Just a little to your left sir."
The Commissar turned, squinting through the haze of heat at the long grass and lumpy excuse for terrain. A glint of something.
Then a crack, a flash of light somewhere to his right, and something gave a soft *Tink* in the chimera's lower armor.
"ENEMY FIRE!" shouted the Commissar, pulling down the hatch, as the surprised soldiers sat up, the political officer shouting at them, "Move, move, move! A man on every gun, and any gun that CAN shoot to the right, shoots! I want a wasteland I can name after myself, do you comprehend soldiers!" They followed his orders as best as they could, barring what could only be done by consulting with the planet's geographer. A hailstorm of red stabs of coherent light obliterated the area and the rigged flint and rock that had provided the target.
Misdirection. LIIVI holstered his pistol, creeping low through the grass, trying to get himself into a more advantageous position.
"Cease fire," said the Commissar, his day much improved. The soldiers relaxed, standing at ease, hands still holding the side mounted lasguns, venting excess steam outwards. "Driver, park us as near as you can to that suicidal stain, and give cover to the second chimera. Chimera 2, tell your squad to deploy and move in. Investigate the area. If there's a corpse, ID it, if there is isn't, bring me a corpse. Copy?"
It was a risk, yes. Taking a squad of soldiers out of a perfectly safe armored personnel carrier begged for snipers, traps, and a whole lot of corpses. But that would betray targets. Feeling a bit like Ibram Gaunt, the commissar leaned in to the driver, "Stick as close to them as possible, if they bug out, move us out as quickly as possible, then get a bead on who fired on us, clear?"
"Sir," muttered the driver, pulling alongside the nervous squad extracting themselves from the second chimera.
The troops, true to form stayed close to the chimera, practically hugging the tread guard, sweeping in close, led by their lasrifles, eyes peeled for mines or traps. The second chimera pulled up alongside the first, the guardsmen squeezed in between.
The Vindicare watched them, five hundred meters behind. The one at the front, one point six meters, was the leader, the paternal. A soldier from the back, covered in spare las cells, a tear still visible in his sleeve moved forward, with a little undue haste to exchange words. On one helmet, the word, "TEATIME". A man pointed at his boot, hopping forward on one leg, speaking out the side of his mouth. Laughter.
The Exitus rifle fired.
The Commissar was next to the wall of the chimera when he heard the squeal. He fell immediately, laspistol to the ready, facing the wall. Maybe it was the adrenalin, or perhaps it was the initial charge of the rifle failing, and the drill bit activating, but somehow Daniel managed to watch a steel line, occasionally sending sparks and slivers of metal out, raise along the wall, ending somewhere just short of the drivers hatch, shorting out lights as it traveled along, shrieking.
In the dark, he heard the thumps and screams of the soldiers outside, the panicked revving as the driver slammed down the accelerator, the lurch to the right, equipment falling around them, then another, definite slam.
Outside, the Vindicare watched through the scope, watching a track fly free, a joint broken by his shot, hanging for one brief moment before the driver hit the gas, sending the tread whipping at the crowd of soldiers. The chimera lurched left, lacking pull, slamming into the other, doing mostly cosmetic damage, but serving the Vindicare's purpose. Screams, and a commissar and a crowd of soldiers leapt out, weapons brandished and at the ready.
Panic. The rifle was slung, and low through the long grass, the assassin moved forward, pistol out.
The most immediate problem was restoring the squad's rationality, and calming them down before they panicked entirely. A quick glance proved what the commissar had initially thought. Gouges in the side of the chimera, severe damage to the soldiers, and a track torn off on his chimera. The first thing to do in any case is be the first man to set the example.
"Spread out, fire at the first thing that moves," was admittedly a bad choice, but something had torn a large gash through his chimera, and incapacitated a squad, what was he supposed to do? Break out the rations? "You men, left, the rest of you, right, drivers, up to the multilasers- fan anything coming with fire, keep looking, it could be a Carnifex for all we know!" Another bad choice of words.
Buzzing. Clicking insects hopping across. Rustles of eighteen soldiers, rattled, going through the fields, rifles first. A Commissar, standing between two chimeras wedged together, covered by two multilasers.
One of the guardsmen falls with a sudden gasp. A powersword points, an order is given. A confused man, who had the wind knocked out of him by a thrown rock suddenly finds himself surrounded by red searing flashes.
The Commissar, raising his laspistol, catches a glimpse of something sandy, black, darting ahead of him. A pair of useless shots whiz into the undergrowth. Something whizzes by the Commissar's face.
This is it, Daniel thought. Death or glory. The powersword crackles with death dealing life, as the commissar ran forward, the blade held aloft. He had to say something inspiring, he realized.
"FACE YOUR DOOM, foul XENOS!" he hopes one of the troops hear it.
He runs into the grass, waving his blade around. A lack of mandibles and claws key him off that something's wrong. The grass catching fire is the second.
The guardsmen ran. What were they supposed to do?
They were spread apart, something had torn apart the chimeras, their leader had shouted something and disappeared, and now the grass was catching fire? What could they do?
The drivers only had the sense of mind to abandoned the crippled chimera, before they drove off, past the soldiers, relaying the panic and breaking of their unit to the base, heralding their failure and embellishing the story to seem as if they encountered an entire Ork WAAAAGH! in the long grass. In their haste, they forgot the wounded.
Private Gnaeus lay on his back, staring up at the patch of grey sky, rounded by black smoke. He was one of those wounded left behind- perhaps, he considered, the only one.
Gnaeus rolled his head over, to a figure, hazy and blurred against the dark smoke, red flickering across its brow, fire licking away from its feet, ash swirling around it, "What does it mean?" Gnaeus was paralyzed from the waist down and had bone jutting out of his leg like wheat out of a farm. Who was he to argue importance with an angel of death?
"Teatime?" A nod. The smoke crawls off as the shadow steps forward.
"Teatime- It was sarcastic. A joke," far times, on Cadia. "I worked in a house, as a guard for a while. Guy I worked for always had a special time for Benzran Tea," the Reaper cocked his head at this, Gnaeus waited a moment, then launched on, feeling vaguely blasphemous, whispering through the pain. "Never took briefings then, just him and his cup. Serene even during a war, so long as he got that hot flavored water of his. So me and my mate, we said, 'all's well so long as its tea time.' We put Teatime on our helmets, a joke, that we'd stay cool. Serene as a fatman and his cup. Guess bloodloss and brain damage is doing that more for me, huh?" The Angel of Death did not laugh at the joke. Gnaeus couldn't blame him. Wouldn't seem proper, laughing at a dying man.
Flakes of ash fell around the two, smoke drifting over them. The Vindicare considered this for a moment. He shrugged, bent down and took hold of a lasrifle, then reached over to pull two powerpacks from Gnaeus's pockets. Gnaeus for his part did not resist. The assassin rose, half turned, then paused. "Do you require the Emperor's Benediction?"
"No, please," Gnaeus looked up. The gray sky turned blue, even as the window narrowed as the smoke thickened, "Not yet. I don't want to die yet."
"Very well," Again, the Vindicare turned, heading for the smoke.
"Wait," the cripple struggled, turning, crawling after the shadow heading into the dark, "Hold on, I have to ask you," his eyelids were like lead weights, dragging down, but one burning mote was left in his head, "Hold on, please, hold on," It was all dark now, "Please," pain flared anew, even as the world was dark, Gnaeus's hands digging into embers.
"Tell me, will it hurt? Please, tell me?"
The Angel didn't lie.
His body was left still for a time, until eventually, uncertain hands reached over, turning the body to face up, folding the hands over its chest, and shutting the eye lids. Imitation to last respects it had seen time and time again through the lens of his scope.
Farseer Taldeer pursed her lips to suppress a grunt of pain as she probed at her wound. Blood crunched, as she dragged at more of the half crystalline clotting. Maybe I won't die yet, she thought, maybe first I'll turn into a crystal like the other old men. Make an interesting landmark for the Imperial colonists, she reflected bitterly. Then, picked apart by mon-keigh for purposes of romancing each other.
The runestones still lay, bounced across where they were. From time to time, her attention waned from her wounds to glance at them. The ground splits, the mouth smiles, the fall is good. Sweet fruit in dead mouths. The love of the enemy. Walk through fire.
For once, she wondered as she picked off the choice stone from the stone of the blind man seeing, wouldn't it be nice if they would say something like, enemy troop movements, allies position, things that would be practical?
She arose, picking up her helmet, and putting it on.
"That only increases your target profile," she froze, her helmet half on. It was like being snuck up on by your own shadow.
"Aren't you quiet," muttered Taldeer, as she finished placing her helm on, "And aside from that, why should you care what my target profile is like?" It seemed strangely wobbly. She felt along the chin, seeking for the pins that held it in place.
"It is harder to maintain unit integrity and speed if we draw conflict to ourselves," The Vindicare set down the lasrifle carefully, as he approached Taldeer. Taldeer for her part was doing her best to ignore him.
"'Unit integrity'? Forgive me for desiring a little independence, but I'd rather not depend upon a sociopathic mon-keigh," she tapped her helm, "I'm going to need this."
"It has taken damage."
The Vindicare stepped forward, as Taldeer turned around slowly. The sky was turning darker by the moment, not that either of them would care, she mused. Was he trying to intimidate her with his height? Well, she thought, gripping her spear, she was not about to be pushed around by something that hadn't even been born by the time she had killed someon-
The Vindicare reached forward, placing a single finger on the helmet. He pushed it slowly, ninety degrees. She saw the hints of his psychic signature through the wraithbone, as LIIVI stepped back.
"Did your strap break?"
"Very well," said the Farseer, removing the helmet and setting it to the ground to her side, "You don't have to demean me."
"And the... Wings?"
"They stay," She would not toss away her soulstones so easily. Taldeer raised her head, then glanced to the horizon, "Where do we go then... Suppose you hadn't thought of that, did you?"
"I have thought of that. Since I have failed my original assignment, and as of yet the planet has not been secured, standard Imperial protocol concerning Xenos Farseers would result in-"
"They'll hunt me with killteams." A nod.
"Awfully kind of them, concerning everything," Taldeer crouched, placing her palm on the ground, "I wonder if it's Sturnn," she muttered, her hands playing through the cold ground, winding and dancing. She closed her eyes for a moment, and nodded.
"I have a direction," she paused a moment, biting her lower lip before glancing at the assassin, "You are coming with me, right?"
"Good." They'll have a torch to follow.
The dirt was dispersed, the shell casings buried, and the helmet left hanging from the wretched root that watched, the last drops of blood crystallizing upon it.
Mildilv leaned back in the chair, staring at the concrete ceiling. "I estimate half dead." One of his entourage shook his head.
"Standard morale dispersal, sixty three percent break."
"Just the officers, maybe two beyond that--"
"I get it, it was a bad idea to send the men after him, but I thought after all he is--"
The fingers were wrapped around Alexander's eye and gently tugging before the pain hit his brain, and he was face to face with Mildilv's angry eyes set in the emotionless plastic face.
"Do NOT end that sentence. You did more than just kill, maim, ruin, demoralize, or damage equipment and personnel, you have ARMED him. With a LASRIFLE."
Ardrin sniggered. Alexander fell back, his eye watering, his hands snatched over it.
"It's a lasrifle," muttered Ardrin, "Most armors just get a blister. If he's using that, it's an improvement over that bleeding huge exitus."
"What does a laser do?" Mildilv turned to Ardrin, shaking a barrel out of his sleeve.
"Emit-" Began Ardrin, uncertain now as the assassin's attention was turned directly towards him.
"EMIT HEAT, quite capable of vaporizing water by the by, a main component of our bodies, I believe the heat the average militarized laser puts out is 500? Sure, 500 degrees Celsius, we'll aim low," Mildilv scratched behind his ear, producing a small power pack, bits of fake flesh still hanging off of it.
"Now, what do you suppose happens when, oh, ten cubic centimeters of human flesh gets evaporated?" The leads plugged into the barrel with ease, as Ardrin made to move out of his chair, finding two pairs of hands on his shoulders, the assassins at his back.
"Wanna find out?" Said Mildilv taking aim with his ad hoc laser at Ardrin's face, held in place.
"You're right!" Mildilv said, thumbing the powerpack, as the barrel warmed to lethality, "I'm expecting an explosion too, as human flesh and blood is evaporated, with no place to escape to but out! Well, usually. If you're lucky, there'll be a hole in your face for it to fly out of it, or maybe this thing'll disperse across the surface, frying the whole thing. I suppose we won't know until the experiment is completed then, huh?"
Governor-Militant Alexander set his carapace armored arm in front of the barrel.
"I don't recall giving you permission to fire upon my men."
"Hmph," Mildilv flicked the barrel, prematurely discharging what weak energy gathered into the arm. The steel glowed red hot, forming a temporary bubble, before fading away. "True. The lasrifle CAN be resisted by armor, a heavy scarf, or even a particularly bad case of fog. But sometimes it blows through both, in the case of lucky moments of inductive heat, using enough juice, or simple Grace of the Emperor. However, an open joint," Mildilv set the barrel down, returning to his seat as the two face dead associates returned to their ranks behind him, "an exposed eye, a rough patchjob...these can all be broken by a lasrifle. A rare feat for even the most accurate of marksmen, but a possibility. And he will never run out of ammo now. Please," Mildilv bit through his false lip, his teeth meeting with a hard click, looked up, and with trepidation in his eyes, "I'm going to have to tell the Inquisitor."
"You said he'd just starve to death anyway."
"Maybe he'll just shoot any new Vindicare we send down to support you, and take their rations? No, no, this is unfortunate, but I do not wish for this damnation on my soul." He stood from the table, false blood dribbling from his false face.
"Where are you going?" Governor Militant Lukas Alexander rose from his chair, grabbing Mildilv by the shoulder.
"To die, probably." The disguised man brushed off the Governor's hand, and walked out of the command bunker.
"We are heading towards the Ork lines."
"I know," The horizon carried heavy clouds, pregnant with rain and storm, ready to match the distant horizon's flashes of light and distant ordnance.
"Do you have allies among the Orks?" Taldeer gave the Vindicare a look.
"No. I managed to manipulate some Orks, that is true," Taldeer waved her hand in the air, "I can hardly do that again."
Like the noise of stones crashing into each other, the war thunder rolled through them. Softly shaking the ground.
"A mission type in the Vindicare Dictum, is to initiate conflicts between two opposing forces. It will be done."
A deep resonating cry echoed in the distance, as a rock whizzed end over end in inexpert circles over the heads of the pair.
"You have experience in this then?"
"Negat-- No. I mostly dealt with affairs of the state."
"Discouraging sedition and treason. Recently I've been employed in combat support."
Taldeer nodded, and then picked up step to get beyond the assassin.
Ahead the choirs of the battlefield roared its welcome.
The Inquisition of the Imperium of Man is quite possibly the most powerful organization across known space. By its whim, heresy is dictated. By its need, armies march. By its judgment, planets burn. The Space Marines, undisputed, mighty warriors, the grandchildren of the Emperor of Man bow to the whims of the Inquisition, even if they do bite and champ at the bit. Inquisitors step the range of Holy Terra's Throne, to the Black Library of the Eldar, to the interior of the Eye of Terror. What would have a man damned and executed for heresy the Inquisitors engage in. They are the unchallenged and ultimate authority.
A horizontal river fell upon the ten thousand Liberators of Kronus stood to ranks, as the Valkyrie landed on the pad set before them. Full dress, immaculate, even those imprisoned, all stood to their full attention. Not a one wished to be found wanting.
Governor Militant Alexander stood in the front, waiting unwavering as the dropship settled down before him, whipping water into his eyes and coat. He had to look good. Not just his own fate, but that of his world rested upon it.
Cherubim fluttered out, carrying multilasers in their bellies, as the nine foot bulk of sacred, artifice armor stepped out.
Gilded gold wrought across the ceramite plate, inscribed with prayers of benediction and psalms of wrath. At his waist hung a power sword, its wraithbone sheath clacking against the ceramite in the wind of the storm. Lightning flashed, picking out the bionic eyes under the hood. He glanced behind him, as two figures appeared, a techpriest, and someone in a robe--
Who repulsed the Governor. "No," he whispered, staring, as the cowl of the robe turned left, and right mechanically as it proceeded down the steps.
The Inquisitor glanced across the assembled ten thousand veterans of the Kronus Liberators, and turned aside to walk to Alexander, who was frozen in terror. He had felt this before, this terror that sapped at the very soul.
Lukas's reverie was interrupted by the Inquisitor's hand.
"Get rid of them," He grabbed Lukas's shoulder, "And cease your cowardice."
The nausea grew as the abomination drew closer, maintaining a respectful step behind the Inquisitor. Lukas nodded, every hair standing on end, and turned to his Commissar, whispering in his ear, "Dismiss the men."
The Commissar started bellowing out orders, as Lukas led the Inquisitor back to the command bunker, ruing the treachery of the Vindicare.
"It's unprecedented," The Inquisitor said, as he crowded into the bunker, staring at the consoles, the Techpriest having taken a seat and started rattling off the status and location of the rogue assassin, "Well, at least for this temple," the Inquisitor shot a glare at Lukas, who sat in the corner, rubbing his forehead, "You do understand-"
Your life is forfeit if you breathe a word of this to anyone not cleared to know it, thought the Governor Militant.
"Your life is forfeit if you dare to breathe a single word of this to anyone not cleared to know it."
"And the Farseer?"
"No one knows. We had sent out a scouting party, but they have yet to return."
"Hmph. He's heading towards a combat zone," murmured the Inquisitor, ceramite finger tracing the route of his assassin errant on the watch screens.
"Yes, a team of Kasrkin are holed up resisting Orks a little beyond the mountains, I've dispatched some men to--"
"Call them back."
"I'm sorry? I can't see how it would harm--"
"We have the greatest opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, Governor. First, as an Inquisitor, I know well the way the common man thinks; even if you DO save the men, and by some miracle they all survive, they shall criticize you for even leaving them in that situation, and I desire your administration to remain stable without any further scandal. Second, I require that one of the most secret orders the Imperium has ever known to remain a secret, and beyond that, that they can be corrupted must remain a secret."
The baleful, flickering green glow immersed the inquisitor's grin, under the red glow of the bionics. His fingers were playing with the handle of the bolt pistol.
Lukas stared at the Inquisitor, locking eyes best as he could and slammed his fist down on the comm button, "Ardrin! Tell Yoland to recall the men, and that I have rescinded the order. Rather--"
Call out the Basilisks, Mouthed the Inquisitor. "Call out Tennyson's basi-" All of them. "All. All of them. All of the basilisks."
Ardrin's reply cut out with a squawk as Lukas flicked off the button.
"Give me a show, Governor," Said the Inquisitor, as he swept out, his retainers following.
The sea was far off, in the horizon. In the horizon, it was chopping, surf sloshing about, but above it was a storm, thunder and lightning wrapping around and around and around--
This wasn't right. She shouldn't be doing this, she wasn't looking ahead right now, to be sure, she could always feel the ebb and flow of fate running along her ankles in the back of her mind, but she shouldn't be seeing it unless she wanted to.
The hunger. Behind her.
She turned, and beheld the glittering dust of spirit stones. Beneath a burning sun, they danced like embers above the bodies of eldar, common and noble, all with their hands plaintively in the air. The air, beset with gasps for breath and whispered pleas, as under their bodies, roiled the dark and cracked ground, flesh and blood growing under them, mouths spawning again and again, coiling like cancer across and over the bodies. The gasps became screams, and the whispers became cries for help.
Blood shot out in squirts like bullets, staining and stinging Taldeer's face. Drills of flesh and bone, rammed down, again and again in the mass, a sick parody of sexual congress. One, a bonesinger was propped up, an organ set before her, as she was puppeteered to play to the scene, arms wrapped around hers, snapping softly like acorns under foot. Eyes grew like weeds, wrapping and rising, staring upon the grisly scene.
It waits, said a voice that managed to skip her ears. There's no one left, but you. echoed the foreign thought, as the Farseer tried to spin, to turn away, but always found the same scene going.
And you're the climax.
The pink flesh moved on, rolling toward Taldeer, leaving broken, hollow, desecrated bodies, no two the same.
She awoke weeping.
They were maybe nine kilometers away from the Ork battlefront, when the Primary had passed out. She had still walked seven steps more, but the sound of a quick slowdown of heartbeat, change in breathing, and missteps grated on the previous light footed rhythm that she had displayed.
On step six, she was beginning to fall, and LIIVI began to move. He caught her on step seven. Her black hair fell around his hands, as he carefully lowered her to the ground. He felt the minute stresses her breathing put upon her suit. The small strains her muscle went through, as she slowly fell into REM sleep, and her body relaxed control. The warmth of her through his gloves. Her eyes, shut, her lips, twitching, whispering.
He wasn't sure why, but he held her a little more tightly at that moment. For just one moment. Before lifting her to his arms, carefully, and moving on. When water started to pour from her tear ducts, he was six kilometers away. He didn't know Eldar could lacrimate. He glanced around, infrared spectrum. Some small pockets of warmth were out there. Only one within a kilometer and a half. He carefully set down Taldeer on her side, before shooting the rat.
He had seen people comfort others, when they had commenced the standard grieving patterns. He had seen a lot of grieving, rarely before the mission, but often after. He had watched them, cling and cry on one another as their beloved died, or they bore witness to the Emperor's wrath.
Her hand wiggled about, scratching at the ground through her gloves. He reached out, carefully, and took hold of it. She calmed down almost immediately, as the frenzy of motion beneath her eyelids increased.
That wasn't that hard, he thought, as he kneeled down next to her. Her hair was in her eyes, wet and plastered to her face. He reached down, leaning in--
Her eyes snapped open.
"They're all dead."
She knew it. Slaanesh had claimed many, some had been saved, but the fact remained--
She was the last Eldar on Kronus. To be sure, that had been the last stand, the main base and the first landing zone that had fallen to Imperial forces. She should have thought of the practicality of it. But she had held out hope, that there was some pocket that had passed the purges of all the other empires and interests that were on this planet. But they were gone. Had she known that, when she ran off, drawing the humans away from the evacuation, ensuring the safety of the survivors? Or was she still deluding herself to some hope.
Her hand was caught on something. She looked, as LIIVI released his hand from hers, and drew it back.
"Are you," the spymask stared at her for a time, before continuing, "Ready for moving?"
"I'm fine, I," her hand ran down her side, between the ribs, to where her wound had opened again, "I-I could just...Use a hand."
Pathetic. He is an assassin, who disobeyed orders from the people that brainwashed him. Why should he help you, with that plaintive plea for pity?
His hand took hers. Her arm was slipped over his shoulder. She leaned on him. They walked.
He was warm.
The rain killed the smoke, but one could see the black columns spearing the ground across the field. The central bunker, was now nothing more than a mash of concrete, occasionally spattered red. For now, the Orks rested in the only way Orks could, jeering, fighting, yelling at one another to get moving, get fixing, and get fighting again. Taldeer glanced across, sensing the psychic miasma and overwhelming presence.
The WAAAAGH! was upon these aliens. They were set on a hillside, overlooking the lumbering mass of the Orks. Thousands of them. With Emperor knew how many grots, noted the Vindicare as he picked out the scuttling shapes and the noises of the servile orkoids.
"Wish those kill teams of yours would show up sooner," muttered Taldeer.
"What then?" Together, they had been putting off this question. What they would do? And it was they were now, they couldn't help it. She couldn't help it.
She needed him.
"I...I hadn't thought of that," She glanced down, "First, we'll think of these things."
Down in the pit, as Uzgob Nekkstompa, a Nob and a 'ard boy to boot wit' more bullets in 'im than a shoota perked up. A scent was in his nose. Strange to fink of it actually, now that, true to Nob form, a momentary thought went through his 'ead. His nose had been blasted to Gork long ago, replaced by an iron plate to stop the bleeding. Though suspicious, one could not deny the scent, up and through the smoke, he peered, his bionik peeper whirring and sparking as it zoomed with the focus of the nob. Somethin' was up among the rocks.
"OI! LOOKIT THAT!"
As the faces turned, it was like watching a bright green fungal bloom, as shining green faces turned, following the raised claw of one of the bigger Orks.
LIIVI glanced over to Taldeer, as she hissed an inhalation to say something. He sprinted, and pushed her out from behind the rock, and down the hill as it was shattered and pulverized into powder as well over a thousand guns, approximately thirty rockets, six laspistols, a bolter, and three thrown grots rained death upon it.
The Vindicare checked her. No broken bones, but she was bruised, and looked a mite angry, "We need to get lower. To the trenches," advised LIIVI, checking his weaponry.
"Go towards the hail of bullets?"
"CEA- SEEZ- STOP SHOOTIN THAT BIT YOU GROT SWILLIN MAGGOTS!" Shouted a nob, with a loudspeaker implanted in his throat. The bullets swayed, searching and spreading across the hill, knocking down what few stubborn trees grew out of the rock, and eliminating anything that claimed to be more than a foot tall.
"Alright, into the trenches, me in front, you in back, cover me."
They ran like mercury. She breathed a prayer to Khaela Mensha Khaine to guide her through the coming battle, while the Vindicare made several, fatal, statements with his Exitus to what few orks were in the trench they headed for.
"THEYZE COMIN’ STRAIGHT FOR US! READY YORE CHOPPAS BOYS, ITS TIME FOR SOME FUN!" The Orks roared their appreciation.
Mother dirt and father mud embraced the two as they splashed into the trench, a final wave of fire whizzing over their heads.
"Now what?" Taldeer looked to the Vindicare.
"I was following you," The Vindicare reacts to the primary- usually to shoot them, but the assumption in this case that the Xeno knew what it was doing.
"Oh," shit. "Do your bunkers have underground complexes?"
"Depends upon the Enginseers. But they never connect into the trenches."
"Great, well I suppose we're all just--"
Thirty kilometers away, someone shouts fire.
A bare minute later, inside of the valley above the trenches, three hundred incendiary rounds burst, in the air and on the ground. Bright, white, light interrupts farseer Taldeer.
And the world around the two becomes little more than fuel.
The Incendiary: Tactica and Proper Oblations
Honored and hallowed be the Incendiary, most cleansing of the Imperium's weapons. Doled out by holy flamer, delivered by blessed shell, released from our pure skies. In all forms, in all ways, it is the Most Magnanimous Emperor's love that is on display here; to give opportunity long for the Enemy to confess his sins, to be burned free of their taint. How can one not marvel at a God Emperor so kind?
Application and Distribution of the Emperor's Love
Concerning when one desires to give the Infidel forgiveness at a range, one must review these tenets in deploying the Mercy of the Imperator. 1) Proper Prayers and Devotion; to ensure Proper Phosphorus and Detonation! 2) Launch a volley of the Emperor's High Explosive Wrath first; to open the sinful timbers and flammables of the Heathen (For maximum mercy, limit rounds to ensure only injury and immobility for those struck) 3) Send the Emperor's Mercy (Take care in setting the timer; you desire at minimum a seventy percent airburst for a correct Storm of Penance) 4) After fifteen minutes (Enough time for a confession), deploy shrapnel rounds to eliminate any who would attempt to halt the Emperor's Forgiveness with mere blasphemous water.
Depending on the Storm of Penance, your soldiers may have to wait anywhere from one to five bells to deploy and liberate the souls from their accursed shells.
-- Section of Kronus Archconfessor Militade's "The Emperor in the Munitions: A Veteran's Guide to Proper Faith in Artillery", currently subject to Ecclesiastical review.
Ardrin carefully set the roughly tied together, hand written pamphlet down, half fearing that it might spontaneously turn "Merciful" upon him. It was, regrettably, the best text that he had upon this subject with him. He hadn't really worked with artillery all that much until now. Someone had to bear the Inquisitor's whims while Lukas led the army.
Three hundred smoking barrels stared at the sky, sizzling in the dribbling rain. Fifty rounds HE, two hundred and fifty rounds IN. Timers varied from fifteen to seventeen point five seconds. The flashes beyond the mountain range signed success back to the crews of the Basilisks, loading in the next volley.
"Three hundred incendiaries," Ardrin wiped the oil slick water from the pictoslate, trying to glean what was going on from the skull servitor, "And this time, cut the timers to a straight sixteen seconds, I think that's optimum airburst."
A chorus grunted agreement. Ardrin glanced over the command chimera's top again, staring out to the mountain pass far away. No firestorm yet, but this next volley would handle it. He shut the hatch as he went down.
The incredible bulk of the Inquisitor's armor and equipment took up a full third of the passenger space, and the Inquisitor's conscripted retinue filled up the rest of it, forcing Ardrin to stand leaning next to the door to the driver's room. The Inquisitor himself, now that Ardrin got to see, was actually rather scrawny. A humble cassock, far from the glinting lesson in waste covered the man's slight frame, what pieces weren't removed and replaced with gleaming steel.
"I heard the initial bombardment," the Inquisitor said with a fond smile, disturbing beneath the clicking ocular implants, "It sounded like the fanfare of saints. Have they hit?"<br\> "Yes sir. The Orks won't know what hit them." <br\> "And the traitor?" <br\> "If he isn't incinerated in the next volley, he'll wish he had been."
Artillery was supposed to be a non-issue, or an advantage when taught in the Vindicare temples. Admittedly, rare would be the primary or secondary who would stand still when being hit with an artillery bombardment, but at least they would be out in the open, and what was one finger snap in an inferno of noise? Serving as spotters, eliminating artillery crews, timing shots, all these things, the Vindicare had been taught and drilled. Reacting to being surrounded by exploding steel?
Cover ears, open mouth, find cover.
He was in cover, inside a muddy trench that was shaking and spattering all over the place. Already he could feel the tensing of his mask and implants, countering the noises and trying to counter the dizzying amount of shocks. He was fine, so long as nothing hit him. And her?
She was down on the ground, hands clamped over her ears, long hair spattered with muck sticking to her face, biting her lower lip. She was quivering.
His hand slid away from his head, heading for hers, when her eyes snapped open, and she grabbed his hand. Her lips parted, shaping the word 'move' through the thunder.
Their hands held together, they slipped forward, as a white phosphorus shell landed behind them, evaporating what little moisture had been there. Maybe ten more feet, before they fell again, this time into a partial hole that a grot had dug, before forming the wallpaper.
They pressed together in the momentary sanctuary. Dirt and mud slid down in rivulets around the pair, as they held one another, the world around them flying into the air.
It must have lasted maybe, ten, twenty minutes at the most. Ten to twenty minutes of fire and thunder. Of that time, the moments where they were together in the side of the trench must only have been an instant. It seemed an hour of racing hearts. Running fingers. Fluttering heart beats. Warmth through cold mud and napalm heat.
Then it was over. The shaking stopped, the thunder stopped ringing in their ears, and LIIVI reluctantly let slip Taldeer through his arms. Water and sweat reflected phosphorus fires rising on the horizon, as she leaned back, on her knees, looking down for a moment.
The roaring laughter of Orks snapped her eyes back on the Vindicare.
"The shells, again, this time higher."
"Airburst," Assassin again, he took out his pistol, hands running memorized lines of maintenance, cleaning what little made it through the holster, "Fragmentation?" "No. Fire. Lots of it."
He stood, stopping for a moment, and uncharacteristically awkwardly reached his hand to her, a second too late as she stood. "Cover. The bunker," Taldeer stared down the maze of trenches, in her mind's eye, dark storms flashing thunder on the ocean horizon, "We better hurry."
They stepped lightly through the mud, surrounded by dim shapes of Orks waving in the flames. For the moment, the trenches were clear, and the Vindicare's mind focused through the sights of his pistol, a fresh magazine topped off inside.
Above, the sky rained water as a consolation.
"Azrael, loaded." <br\> "Sixty guns loaded, my lord." <br\> "Hold until they all load," The Inquisitor placed his cowl on his head, and stepped up the ladder to the top of the Chimera. <br\> "Belial, loaded." <br\> "Uriel, loaded." <br\> 300 basilisks. One driver, one loader, one commander. Nine hundred men, at his beck and call. Nine hundred souls saved from damnation. Inquisitor Madek's mouth tightened, drawing his lips back in a crude curve.<br\> "Raziel, loaded." <br\> "Lightbringer, loaded. That makes all guns loaded. Your orders sir?"
Ardrin waited below, as Inquisitor Madek sat at the side of the Chimera, happily staring across the field.
"Fire," whispered Madek.
Three hundred shrieking packages of flame filled the sky.
Uzgob Nekkstompa wheeled about, bellowing, a squealing grot in one hand and his shoota in the other, trying his hardest to make more noise than a warband of Orks set on fire, and variously hitting and shooting each other.
Needless to say, he was hardly successful. Not even pointing out sum unorky softies running through the trenches roused more than a handful of lazy shots and rockets. Uzgob Nekkstompa, though a 'ard boy, was no Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter when it came to rallying the fractious orks.
So, figured Nekkstompa, him being canny and whatnot, he should go out, and 'unt some 'eads. If Gorgutz could get an army behind him by waving around some skullz, why couldn't he?
The characteristic shriek of incoming basilisk shells only proved to Nekkstompa that his course of action was in the right, as he barreled through the flames after the pair fleeing for the bunker.
The tiniest of taps, a spray of mud, and another step was taken by Farseer Taldeer down the trench. Her lungs ached, and she could feel the scrape of crystal clots inside her armor, but she had to move. A storm would come soon, and she needed to be in port then. An ork stumbled into the trench, fire dripping from him, a gun in his hand. A sharp sound, and a rush of air from behind, and its wrist is reduced to bloody scraps.
Maybe he wasn't as fast as her, she thought hesitantly. Maybe he was keeping her in front of his gun because he didn't trust her. That moment in the trench-
Did not merit reflection, she thought, as the tell tale shrieks of artillery sounded over the hills. The ramp was just bare steps ahead, to the shattered bunker.
LIIVI had already consumed the first magazine when he saw the bunker, and Taldeer moving into it. He was just stepping out of the trench, when his head suddenly felt like not moving.
"Oi fink I can kitch 'er jus' foine, 'oomie," The Vindicare was thrown down into the muck, as the mass of green muscle clanked past him, "You'll just have to siddown there and hannle the heat for a bit, 'fore I come back. Hope you'll have a lil' bit of fight leff in ya."
LIIVI managed to see the Ork nob ram into the bunker, cracking the concrete sides, before the air and sky caught alight.
"No other species in the galaxy has had quite the relationship that man has to fire. The Eldar have used it in war, and left it behind, on occasion to bring it forth, or to refer to it in poetry interchangeably with molten metal. Chaos draws inspiration to fire only insofar as mankind has influenced them; and even then, warpfire is its own entity, something diseased and gnawing, generating none of the warmth of a comfortable flame. Tau barely understand what fire IS, considering it a dangerous weapon; their fire caste serves in duty and shame, not pride. Orks are the second to men when enjoying the fires; but even then, they hold no passion to refine and craft the flames which they like to see and feel.
But man... Man has a love for fire. Napalm, white phosphorus, promethium, oil, gasoline, meltas, plasmas, firestorms, incendiaries, firepower, fireline, flamethrower, fireteam, firefighter, the flames of war, fire, fire, fire. What else could be said to have benefited as much from man as fire? What other element has been defended, nursed, tutored, fed, and loved more than fire? Our cities, our books, our people, our enemies, our friends, our dead, our living, our greatest works and most heinous feats; all of them, fed to the ever hungry flames," Inquisitor Madek chuckled, turning to Ardrin, "And there it is," he pointed to the roiling light beyond the mountains, "Years of brilliant minds worked on that one. For warfare, for country, for humanity? No. We wanted to see what fire, raw unchained flame, could do."
"Yes... Yes sir," Ardrin stared, as a dark angry cloud formed, crackling with thunder, waves of hungry lapping flame roiling and struggling against the rain, spewing ash high.
"Return the basilisks to the Governor. I am happy. Put forth my symbol of office, and take me closer. I'll need to speak to the victors."
Taldeer crawled forward, coughing, eyes watering, as a wind pulled past her and heat radiated at her. She had to get down the stairs, she thought, as she felt for the steps. Ragged, broken. She couldn't breathe. She fell, into the dark and jagged rock. She tried to control it as best as she could, her hands out. Eyes closed. Lungs burning.
By the time she reached the bottom, the sting had left her lungs a bit. Flakes of burnt paper danced in swirls around her as she came to a rest on a bed of shell casings and ash. She glanced up, the steel door far above, the wheel lock handle firmly shut. She reached up, grasping the steel. She closed her eyes, in brief thanks that it was cool to the touch. She heard thumps on the steps, and involuntarily breathed easy. LIIVI survived.
The ocean screamed. Her eyes bolted open.
Her hands shot out, leaving the spear on the ground, grabbing the wheel, pulling with both hands, up, up and away in a swirl of ashes, from the powerclaw that tore up the concrete. She glanced up, bracing her feet against the ceiling, seeing for a moment the murderous red glint of the eyes of an Ork, a grin displayed in what pieces of his face weren't iron.
"'Allo poinny ear," The double barreled, four magazined pistol clacked a challenge, "I loike yer 'ead."
How does one survive a firestorm?
Dig deep. The sizzling of the rainwater hitting the thermal bubble above. The shriek of the cremated orks. The sting of the infrared radiation burning the skin within his suit. Dig until you don't feel it. Mud ran through his fingers and slammed into his rifle. The N20-
He pulled the cover out of his pants pocket, and held it close to himself, ignoring the pain. The Hellfire round, the Shieldbreaker. They'd have to be covered. His pistol was already in the mud that was baking to clay, the rifle halfway after it. He smelled his flesh cooking, as he clung to it, crouched hugging the side of the trench. The red and white waving around him, the shadows of orks rushing this way and that, the ashes shearing across past him.
He would burn or live, based on the whims of thermodynamics.
Through the dim roar of oxygen being devoured, noises could be picked up. Orkish ammunition cooking off. Grots squealing. An argument, laughter.
A lilting voice.
A call. A voice more suited to song than terror.
The fire swept through the trench, greedy and hungry, roaring challenge to dissent. Hairline cracks began to appear in his visor.
Outside, fire whistled. Taldeer was short of breath, and clinging upside down to a steel door bracing herself to the ceiling certainly wasn't helping. The Ork, mass of muscle and steel he was, didn't look the least bit taxed, as he lifted his power claw, clacking the wicked edges together. A spark flew.
"The... the world outside this bunker is incinerating... And you want to claim my HEAD?" She put up a hand carefully, delaying, "Listen, ork, I-"
"Oim Uzgob Nekkstompa, yur PoinnyEar SoontobeNekkStomped, and dat's as much talkin as I can stan'. Gimme a foight!" The Ork lashed out with his powerclaw, as Taldeer folded up, cursing the human who HAD to stab her in the most important muscle group. Sparks flew as steel tore, and the Ork pulled his claw back, lifting his pistol, yelling gleefully as it began to bark and kick.
Ricochet filled the hall, as Taldeer rolled forward, grabbing her spear, her nervous system following the skeins of the warp. She relaxed, her muscles flowing and jerking like a marionette on the strings. Her hair, caught, slipped, and flashed around her. The ocean tide carried her around the Orkish ammunition, as her fingers ran and slipped along the wraithbone runes.
Her spear struck powerclaw. The Ork gripped, and pulled, bringing Taldeer face to face with her enemy.
"HIT ME!" Roared the Ork. He was granted his wish, her foot whipping up into his face, aided by the leverage of her caught spear, her whole body behind the blow, knocking the ork back into the steel door.
The Ork grinned, spat a tooth. Barely phased by her full force. His pistol raised, with a slurred, "Juss' the right distinse," dribbling around its teeth.
Just the right distance to spray her with automatic fire, which she couldn't dodge in the narrow end of the hall. She gave a sad grin. The ocean was calm.
Her singing spear batted aside the blood spray, as the Ork was struck clean in the shoulder untouched by bioniks. The Ork glanced to his right shoulder, as with a crack, his clavicle snapped, sending the arm to the ground.
"Well thass jus’ queer," muttered the Ork.
For a moment, some of the ashes floating in the air were illuminated with a red line of light. A sizzle, as the ork's exposed left knee cap was bathed in photons. Then it exploded.
The Ork fell over, shrieking, as the Vindicare let loose the empty power pack, slapping a new one into the muddy mess of a lasrifle.
"You were expecting me?" LIIVI stepped into the room, lasrifle at the hip, covering the obscenity slinging nob. <br\> "I am a farseer. Surely you'd've been briefed on my capabilities," she glanced over, keeping her face still and an eye on the ork. LIIVI looked unharmed. But there was something... "Mmm," The Vindicare stepped forward carefully. The suit, was designed to be fireproof. This did not help the skin underneath it that much. "Are you-" <br\> "The door's open," The Vindicare tabbed the lasrifle to ‘Full discharge’, and shot another blast at the Ork's other arm, "You can take sanctuary in there. I'll be along soon, I have to recover my equipment."
The door was a mangled mess, nearly torn off its hinges. But it was insulated, and would serve better than nothing.
"It's still on fire out there." "Most of the fuel in the area has been extinguished, the storm has ended. I should still be capable of being predictable when you're in trouble."
LIIVI crept out, heading for his supplies, when he turned towards the sky. Streaking meteors dropped in the distance. Meteors with atmospheric brakes.
Taldeer stepped for the dark, rubbing her side. At least this time, the blood wasn't clotting crystal. Or maybe that was a bad thing. And LIIVI's comment-
Was he, it upset? It was hard to tell. And more than that, it was hard to tell if she should even care or not.
"I'll be predictable," she mumbled, stepping through the hatch. She received a vicious kick to the shins.
Hopping back, grabbing her leg, she stared down at the ork, who had managed to prop himself up against the door with stumps and a leg, who was giving her the glaring of a life time.
"C'mon poinny ear! See if'n yoo kin take me wivout yer pet 'oomie!"
The wraithbone spear communicated the displeasure with the ork's inability to suffer from bloodloss. The leg flew free, and Taldeer kicked the still yammering torso to the side, and sealed the door shut behind her.
Well, she thought bitterly, soon he'll be gone anyway. And she won't care. Her people's fate depended upon her. Who could care about one mon-keigh when the potential lives of thousands of Eldar, and possibly the galaxy depended upon her being alive?
She sat heavily against the wall, and slid down it. Just keep telling yourself that, taunted a little voice in her head, that you can get another chance to make up for the hundreds lost in this useless mission. Keep lying to yourself.
From his vantage on the hillside, Captain Diocletian could see the Orks were shattered by the Guard's bombardment, mostly, true to the Inquisitor's predictions. No Guardsmen were in sight too, a relief (at least to Captain Diocletian), just as the Inquisitor promised. And the Grey Knights were marching alongside their fellow marines... Just as the Inquisitor promised.
One could ask what they were doing, marching upon mere xenos, but Captain Diocletian already knew the answer that would not be given: they were there to watch for heresy among the Blood Ravens. "For the Emperor," he whispered, before stepping down, to join his fellows in securing the pass. His eyes lingered on the ringing grey armored soldiers, nemesis halberds at the ready.
LIIVI stepped back from the trench, his visor clicking unhealthily as it zoomed back in and reverted to standard. He gathered his things, and sprinted back to the bunker, as Astartes and Ork met in battle.
Brother Onus, of the Grey Knights, cocked his head. The xenos before him fell back on the point of his halberd, spasming and shrieking, before turning into ash. Contemptibly, he flicked the sparking instrument of the Emperor’s wrath. A waste, for this precious blade to be used on contemptuous xenos.
Something… A purity seal rustled on his arm. A rune gently creaked. Through the smoke and vaporized mud, he smelled the foul stench of the warp on the air for a moment. The bunker.
Through the flame and the bullets, Brother Onus starts forward, stalking his prey. A prayer of thanks on his lips.
Light from the fires drifts through what flecks of ash remained disturbed as LIIVI stepped down to the shelter. The Vindicare reaches for the door, then hesitates. Through the gash, illuminated by a single dim bulb above her was the primary. Staring into space, head leaning against her shoulder. A black lock of her hair straying over her eye, down her lips, over her pulsing jugular, the adrenaline crash had struck her, he wouldn't even have to use a bullet, just quick and painless. If he had to kill her.
He shouldn't be thinking this. Some part of him knew. He opened the door.
"LIIVI," she started looking up, "Listen, I have something-" <br\> "No time," The Vindicare shut the door behind him, shoving the lock into place, <br\> "Evacuation necessary, conflict is starting anew. Space marines are far more thorough than orks," LIIVI took his rifle from the shoulder, and rammed a clip home into the internal magazine. It was still dirty. He had to hope it wouldn't jam.
"At least they'll be distracted by the orks." <br\> "Tunnels usually lead to Imperial outposts. Judging by the directions the marines came from, we probably won't come into hostile contacts. Marines don't have the forces necessary to mount garrisons in this province yet." <br\> "That's, that's great, LIIVI," smiled Taldeer.
"Come?" LIIVI looked at her, sitting. He reached out his hand, after a moment's hesitation.
She took it, regret filling her mind. The ocean current was pulling her, no matter what she wished..
Captain Diocletian was disappointed. This was a cleanup operation, little else.
"Engage at will, there's no challenge here," the order carried across the combeads, as the marines separated, many putting aside their bolters in favor of monomolecular knives. No need to waste good ammunition on undesirable scum.
Craters, fires still raggedly burning. Little else remained. He had to hand it to the Guardsman, give them artillery, and they can-
His shoulder pauldron shattered. Captain Diocletian frowned, and glanced over. Across the way, he saw a grot duck into a trench. He sighed, and took out his bolt pistol. A tink, and a bullet ricocheted off his arm. And he heard a strange call.
"Mo' dakka." Another voice picked it up, and it became a chant. "Modakka, modakka, modakka, modakka," By this time, Captain Diocletian had eased back, and marines across the field picked up their heads, staring, the voices seeming to come from everywhere and melting together. "ModakkamodakkamodakkamodakkamoDAKKAMODAKKADAKKADAKKDAKKADAKKA"
Across the trench, green heads popped up, one or more guns accompanying each.
Captain Diocletian gave a grim grin. No atonement for idle waste today. “Engage them, meet your foe,” he started forward, pounding across the cracked and dried mud, chainsword lifted, “And sing praise to the Emperor, for letting the enemy wet your blade today!”
Brother Onus stopped in the trench, cocking his head. Orders to charge. He saw several of his brothers obediently marching back, to fight xenos. He did not care. He had come to hunt the Enemy. Not to waste sacred relics on enemies material.
He stood in front of the ruined bunker. The Enemy had been here.
He stepped down the stairs, as the war started anew behind him, and the guns drowned out the thunder of the storm above.
The rain was pouring down the steps like a waterfall when the Assassin and the Witch came to the end of the hall. The door was knocked off its hinges, a guardsman broken on it. They carefully stepped over him, avoiding signs of passing by.
The outpost had been manned by two men, both now dead. The dead ork in the center of the floor, strangled by a wire spoke of their courage.
The rain outside had rallied against the fire, attempting to drown and smother it for defying the weather, even as treacherous lightning aided and abetted the enemy.
This is it, thought Taldeer, sparing a glance for LIIVI. Just a while more.
"Let's head out," she said, "Quickly, come on, we can get moving," She reaches for him when he raises his hand, and freezes.
"Wait. I heard something."
"Back there, in the tunnel."
Clang. Clang. Clang. It picked up speed. Clang.
Like an iron gavel pronouncing judgment. The pair, stepped back and out of the outpost, the Vindicare raising his rifle. The rain and wind swept along, spattering the two in cold, as the outpost glowed with inner light.
Clang. There was a scraping, cracking sound, as something moved against the ceiling. Clang. The light grew closer, and there was a faint hum. Clang. Then it was there.
The Grey Knight stood in the doorway, as LIIVI and Taldeer stared up from the bottom of the hill, blazing and glowing with the light of his manifest wrath.
"FOUL ONE," the voice resonated, deep, echoing through the armor, "THE STINK OF THE WARP IS UPON YOU," The Grey Knight stepped forward, and out of the outpost, setting his halberd behind him. It crackled in anticipation.
This is it.
To her left, the Vindicare, the mon-keigh tensed. She could see it all. His finger touching the trigger, the weapon jam.
A ton of blessed ceramite artificer steel pounded down, one leg slamming into Kronus's flesh after another, tearing great gouts of soil up.
This is it. The Mon-Keigh, he'll reach for his pisto-
"Taldeer!" An unexpected hand shoved her away, a note of panic in his voice, now for this moment bizarrely familiar, "Get away from he-"
The Grey Knight's back hand slash, the halberd, tugging into his flesh, lifting him up into the air.
A disposed toy. Mon-Keigh. "SCUM!" The mon-keigh, it's usefulness expended. Living the moment it was fated. The mon-keigh... falling. The mon-keigh's blood. On her face. The mon-keigh- "M-Mon-Keigh..." She shouldn't care.
"THIS IS THE JUDGMENT OF THE RIGHTEOUS!" The Grey Knight, stood over his corpse. LIIVI's corpse. Raising his halberd.
She shouldn't care. She shouldn't be hurt. She shouldn't look in his vainly struggling form.
"KNOW REDEMPTION IN- *HRNNK*?"
The light blazed, and a keening noise could be heard, as runes of warding, protection, and holiness brightened.
"W-W-WHAT WITCHCRAFT- IS THIS?"
His arm, his arm, it was bending, bending the wrong way. He stumbled back, struggling, to execute the traitor. Something cracked. His middle finger waved, popped out and broken.
"EL-ELDAR?!" His felt lost touch of the ground, and he felt the armor dragging at him. His left arm waved around, as he pulled on the bolter trigger, firing, uselessly somewhere behind him.
He heard his seals cracking. The sacred runes breaking. His arm, broken, in three places. His neck, pulling, pulling. He spun, slowly in the air, and then suddenly fell. Crack, headfirst into the ground. Again. Again, again-
The invisible grip loosed, and he fell, sliding down the hill. A rather heavy, well accoutered mon-keigh ragdoll.
Taldeer stood, stumbling, slackening staring, breathing in and out evenly. The cacophony, the snickering peals of the warp faded away from her mind. She had risked so much, and for what-
"Liivi!" She rushed forward, running over to the fallen assassin, "Please, please, Liivi, get up human, get up!" The blade had entered the small intestine, and worked its way up, searing and tearing as it went. She drew her hand away, and found blood and ashes.
Above, the atmosphere eddied, wrapping and softening the rain, sending snow down as paltry recompense, as the assassin took stuttering gasps.
The rain from the night before had reduced the battlefield to a muddy ditch. The burning Ork corpses left a black smear of smoke across the horizon, as Ardrin sat next to the pilot of the command chimera, waiting. He couldn't stand to be in the same room as the Inquisitor, as his pet Culexus just gave him the heebie-jeebies. If the heebie-jeebies came in nightmare form of endless oblivion.
One of the Grey Knights had gone missing; no sign of any corpses matching the Adepta Orthodontia molar records. The Inquisitor was rather pleasant about it.
A bunker had been discovered, with a tunnel. The marines were too busy, setting up a base in preparation to launch assault against the guardsmen over the hill. The Inquisitor hadn't wanted to go through the tunnel on foot. So, they drove out to the outpost.
The pilot nearly ran over the Chosen of the Emperor.
The APC was pulled over. Faceless gasmasked elite glamour boys stepped out, putting up their hellguns like it would mean a damn to a space marine. The Inquisitor stepped out, flanked by his Adeptus Mechanicus, and Culexus.
Ardrin stayed inside, staring through the viewport. The Inquisitor approaches, pushes over the Grey Knight with his foot. Nothing. Everyone relaxes.
Then they jump, a momentary flash illuminating the armored figure. The Inquisitor leans in. Beckons for the Techpriest. The helmet is pried off. The face... A glance, Ardrin got, but he saw it was flattened, bludgeoned. Whispers. The Inquisitor nods, stands, and waves one of the stormtroopers over. He speaks on the radio. Everyone gets back in the Chimera. Except for the Inquisitor. He stops, and tosses a word over his shoulder to the marine.
The marine's face turns stony. Seizes up. Asks a question. The Inquisitor shakes his head. Steps into the chimera.
"Well," announced matter of factly, "This is interesting." "What did you say to him," it isn't exactly a question. It's an accusation. That face. It was of a man doomed.
Inquisitor Madek glances up, "Did I speak to you?" "No, no, but what," Ardrin gulps, "What did you say to him?" "The truth," the optic units stared, emotionless, "That he was damned, for his failure to apprehend the enemies of the Imperium. When he dies," The Inquisitor looked down, for a moment admiring his boltpistol with a distant smile, "He will be denied the Emperor's Grace."
The chimera goes silent, as the soldiers stop their breathing. Shock, all around, save for the Culexus and the Techpriest, who stare downwards.
"And also, Ardrin? Don't speak back to me," The Inquisitor settled back, staring at the ceiling, the ghostly smile still on his face, "That's a sin."
"Make for the spaceport. There've been interesting developments, and I believe they'll head there eventually. Felix? Contact my barge. Tell them, Psalm, 144:1. Make all necessary arrangements. Now I," whispered the Inquisitor, "To sleep, pure of heart and worry..."
Inquisitor Madek's personal barge is in a little bubble of calm, in an orbit at constant war. Imperial Naval stand off with the Blood Raven fleet, all the while fighting Orks, Tau, errant eldar raids, the Chaos fleets and the occasional, mysterious necron vessel. Their fortunes turn and twist, but always the same: Inquisitor Madek's vessel is guarded, and never touched.
Psalm 144:1, of the Litany of Hate.
The Barge is devoid of human life. But it is filled with abhuman life. Servitors scuttle around, Tau shriek and cry in cages, and the cargo-
Currently, it lies empty. Save for one reinforced casket. No glass faces outside to allow a viewer to look in, for it would be too weak.
Blessed the Emperor, my strength, be.
A grasping metal arm swings out, wraps around it, and drags it, emitting sparks the whole way, shrieks of metal falling on deaf durasteel. The odyssey across the vast and lonely cargo bay does not quiet the hunk of steel. At the end, it is placed before the doors, set on a steel bar.
With loud, shrieking claxons, the doors part, and the Tau prisoners gasp for air again. The doors part a bare ten feet, before with a sliding snap, the bar sends the casket flying with what air pressure couldn't do.
It spins, end over end, as around it thousands of navy men fight and war to hold a place above a planet.
The casket falls towards it.
That teaches my hands to war...
Molten layers of durasteel dribble off as it falls. It was not specifically designed for orbital entry, but it serves. End over end, it falls and falls, and the outer layer slips off. It has a rough aim of where it needs to go. A rough idea, and a rough mission enters the skull.
Vindicare. Farseer. Dead.
A bare ten miles above ground, the outside of it detonates, bits at a time. The fall hiccups, again and again, as layer after layer is blown off.
Ten meters above ground, it seemingly detonates. It manages to arrest its speed, to only half of terminal velocity.
It is driven three meters into the ground, and kills an unfortunate Odewillin that strayed too close.
It hisses, and pops, as the last powder of explosives detonates. The slag runs off, leaving behind a mere steel plate blocking it and the world.
...And my fingers to fight.
A clawed hand pierces through, and tugs off the steel like paper.
Fear me, for I am your apocalypse.<br\> -Dictum Eversor
"And call up Governor Alexander, your friend," Inquisitor Madek sways with the bumps, optics still closed, <br\>unsmiling. "I want him to explain to me how my asset managed to get tainted by Chaos."
I should have left him there. He had served his purpose.
He owed me nothing - yet he gave himself to me willingly.
Why? I know not.
He is nothing more than a pathetic human.
An inferior race.
But still I broke off my wings so that I might carry him easier.
I took him from that place, into the snowstorm where our tracks will not be found.
He is heavy. And he is dying. And he is slowing me down.
But I will save him.
Why? I know not.
He is still warm. I can feel his blood ebbing across me. For every beat of his heart, another, slight spill of heat. The heat blows away on the winter wind. His blood is still warm. But fading. And I have spilled scarlet myself.
The snow laps greedily at our footsteps and our lifeblood, covering them without a trace as we fade away.
Battle still raged behind them. Far off, in walls of steel and concrete, trenches of dirt and burning promethium, space marine and ork reveled in fire and bolter. Taldeer stopped a moment, breathing in and out, her lungs burning. She held the human over her shoulder, his feet still dragging in the snow. His rifle sheath, with frost covering it. She looked around. Disputed territory. Ork banners held up, some burnt, some empty, some shattered and buried under the snow. Exhortations of war broken and buried under the white blanket. The Vindicare beside her coughed, tensing for a moment, his hand digging into her own- then he slackened again. The blood warmth washed over her side again. She had no need to watch the skein of fate to see that survival was improbable. She was needed elsewhere. She shouldn't die, freezing, clinging to a weaponized man. She shifted his weight again, and pulled forward with her spear, panting again as she passed under twenty meter high declarations of war, pulling through the winter.
"Inquisitor." Inquisitor Madek snorted sharply, blinking away the sleep. He frowned. He was cold. He should have packed more clothes than just a cassock. An idiotic desire to empathize with the guardsmen perhaps. "I've heard tell that cleanliness is one of the signs of divinity,"
Madek roused, sitting up, slipping on an ill fitting gentle smile, "I don't think I have to fear any usurpation here. What is it, Felix?"
"The storm," Felix pointed out to the wall, where some diodes sputtered, "The corpus mechanica would be better served if I-"
"I can barely give a damn, we're on the road to the spaceport, we can get it fixed there."
"That's another thing," Lieutenant Ardrin, resembling nothing more than a big black fly came into the room, holding a buzzing comm, "The city, currently our forces command it and will be reinforced, but, the agents of Chaos are attacking it. They hold the entrance to the city we're heading for." Veteran soldiers. No courage, no faithful bone in their body they. Merely the survivors, benefit of the brave souls of the Emperor's truest servants. A fine degree of cowardice uncaught by commissar, that's all that experience breeds. They that survive are just rewarded for their base desire of living. Disgusting.
"I believe we'll be fine," Inquisitor Madek gave a serene grin, "The Emperor protects."
Sponge Weeds seemed to be an architect's dream come true. Plentiful, verdant, and tough, to early colonists of Kronus, they seemed to be a nightmare, great wide fields of sticky, dark, meter high reeds, choking swamps and rivers, ensuring most of the southern continent was a morass of stagnant water and painful to clear reeds. Chop them down, more would grow from the inevitable chunks that rushed out of the thing when it was cut, the water held within flooding out. They would gum up the irrigation, showing up in every single farm. "Spongeweeds," became synonymous with unwanted guests, and even became momentarily popular as a term for rapists before use of this term was purged and suppressed by the Ecclesiarchy. Until one ambitious young pioneer decided to attempt to use it to make a house.
Foolish idea, was the universal thought at first. The soaking, stinking reeds would make for a great big mess everyone was convinced. At least until lacquer was applied to it. Cyanide, bacteria, toxins, as soon as the living reed felt under threat, it would stiffen up and hold, sometimes for years at a time if the rudimentary immune system sensed the poison was still there.
Furthermore, reeds cut together would eventually mold together, sealing the area with a near vacuum grip. The house would generate warmth in the winters and hold off the heat in the summers, as the still living yet paralyzed plants reacted to the climates. This architectural fad and art material lasted fifty years before a pysker wandered too close and felt pain. Other pyskers had entered houses, but registered no complaints, and the people protested, but to the Imperial Church this was evidence enough to burn the lot of the suspicious, ugly living buildings. They said the fires were responsible for the harsh winter and cold summer that followed. Standard imperial architecture was followed from then on, but on occasion, out in the wilderness, you found the occasional hut. Like this one.
Taldeer stopped, falling to one knee, the weight of the assassin driving her down. Her muscles were stiff cracking against one another, wishing only to lay down and die. She wheezed, staring down at the snow. Little red spatters filled it. Hers and his. She couldn't tell them apart, they were both bright hued and crimson.
Maybe if she stared long enough, she would see one shrivel and crust and the other crystallize and powder. She slapped the ground with her hand, fighting the welcome hands of a sleeping death.
She looked up. A small house. Wooden. Some shelter from the biting wind. Just a few more steps. She bit her lip as she rose to her feet, carrying her savior, blood spilling from her side as the wound broke once again. She dragged forward, heading for the leathery wood flap of a door. Her hand reached for the door knob. She hesitated. A slight scuff of a noise in side. The pistol is steady in her hand as she pushes open the flap with the barrel. The noises getting louder the whole time.
The door turned, squeaking and crackling on frozen hinges, the unfrozen edge flapping in the blizzard wind. Didn't look like there was anything. A gas tank stood in the center of the room, a line running into the cast iron stove, radiating welcome heat. Two doors, one ajar to a chair with the bottom cut out over a bucket, and the other firmly shut.
Taldeer shrugged off the assassin, leaning in to whisper, "You'll be warm in a moment Liivi." She slipped inside, sweeping the room with her shuriken pistol, the singing spear unslung and behind her. The noise was coming from above. She was moving, her gun pointed at the ceiling, when she felt something catch her other hand from behind. Her hand- She whirled around, pistol raising to free her spear hand- The assassin's glove was wrapped around her own, slackening, as it fell down in the door way, shivering. The door opened as the Vindicare was dragged in, a slight trickle of blood running across the absorbent floor. Taldeer leaned next to him, leaning in close. His heart had slowed since last time. An occasional shiver would wrack a part of him. The gash- She gulped down the bile as she something shift and slither through the mess of blood and ribs. He shouldn't die. The door creaked.
Taldeer spun on her heels, spreading her hands and kneeling before the Vindicare, her shuriken pistol and Singing Spear out. Someone stood, stark naked but for a sheet over his shoulder, in the door way, a primitive slug thrower at his shoulder. Underweight, hairy, and yellowed by liver failure. A shivering blue eye held between the bead, pointed at her head.
"I-I-I never thought they would send another, to me, to my nightmares!" The gun rattled, parts scraping and clacking together, "I, I've killed before! I'm a veteran. A veteran of a secret war of soul and damnation. You won't have! Have! Have me! That's not yours to take, I never let you!"
A madman. Dribbling in whatever local dialect that the humans paid courtesy too. She could barely glean the words meaning, much less the order. In all probability, she could move and slice him from jaw to groin before he could fire his pathetic gun in the wrong direction. But- Her brows furrowed together, she whispered in low gothic, "We only seek shelter from the storm, we are but mere travelers," couching her words in a recognized story, she tried to manipulate his mind. The discharge practically deafened her, and the human brought the black smoking barrel up to her eye.
"Manipulations! Orienteering, on basic desires?! Fuck you bitch! No more," He leaned in, eyes furious, "No more. I used to be a good man, before you showed me! Emperor..." He whispered, "Emperor protect, are you my daughter? I can't tell. I thought, I thought I ate you earlier. I can't tell," he stared down, squeezing his eyes shut, yellowed tears leaking out of his eyes. The gun rose, the man inarticulately sobbing into a hand, it wavered above.
"I," am your daughter of course father, don't shoot me, and your son, you had a son didn't you, followed by a shot through the throat. Eminently survivable, reasonable action. "I am not going to play along with your delusion, mad one," Taldeer brought her shuriken pistol up, and into the watery blue eyes. One shot that would be it. "Leave us be. I do not wish infecting his wound with your blood. And for the sake of your family, get a hold of yourself." Stupid. The old man turned, the slugthrower up. She could get off two shots in the time it took him to get aiming.
Whizz. The first nicked his hairline.
"-h is the"
The second cut through his thigh born artery.
"path to redempARRRRRGGH"
The bullet fired, hitting wide, thumping into the ceiling, sending filthy half frozen water across the room. Taldeer moved back, and snapped her spear at his hands. The blunt end of the wraithbone snapped his hands like a carrot, the broken bones held within a sack of meat. The gun fell to the floor, discharging into the wall. The wraithbone blade was held against his neck. "Surrender."
He opened his mouth to speak, and all that came out was blood. The shriveled old corpse fell back. Bullet had entered by way of the esophagus, tumbled through thalamus, hypothalamus, medulla oblongata and cerebellum, then, by his estimates, got lodged in the occipital lobe. His Exitus pistol lowered, the Vindicare let his head drop back to the floor. His mask was full of blood. He panted through it. His eyes closed. He was superficially aware of a presence standing above him. Through the numbness, a cold drop prickled his right arm.
"He was hardly a threat." Primary. Taldeer.
"It was necessary."
"Well," her voice came closer, as hand fell on his chest, "I'm not about to berate the man nearly disemboweled, but somebody's going to have to clean that up if we're going to be staying here more than an hour. "Is there plumbing?" He heard the gentle sloshing of water. "I don't know about your species, or even about you yourself, but amongst my people," Splash. A fire ran down the numb line that the Grey Knight had cut into him, "Cold or no, the wounds need to be sterilized," the assassin, for his part only twitched.
He stared at the pistol in his hand. He had never gotten around to reloading it.
The blade had started at the base of his bottom, leftmost rib, and worked up, ending at the right clavicle. It was a surface cut, the first rib was cut and the second broken, but after that no other bone damage. The muscle had been shorn off, and it looked like that where it had gone, the flesh had fried. The heart was barely visible, thumping and pulsating.
Fortunately, she reflected, humans had a whole lot of space in their body as opposed to eldar. The blood loss was the most important thing. And sterilizing the room. The alcohol would help a little. And the corpse. Of course, the man had to be eating. Why did he shoot him? The damn silenced pistol, it could have been any time during that fight, and she wouldn't have known. But. It was only after she had told him to surrender. His mouth opened. The blood splattered. She shook her head, as she wrapped the body in the sheet it had been wearing, and dragged it out into the snow. He shoots a lunatic who was waving a gun at you. Most people would firmly place that under the pro column. It just means-
She let go of the sheet on the corpse. As if on cue, the man splayed out, a shiver running down his veins and arteries.
Teeth. Teeth on his tongue. And two noses in his hair.
Her eyes widened, and she turned back to the cottage, as the door slammed shut.
Her feet barely touch the snow.
To Eldar, all mankind move clumsily, and slowly, kittens staring about in the dark, their arms blindly reaching to the sky like teetering towers, waving back and forth, unsure nerve and tendon spasming.
Men looking upon Eldar see disquieting grace. Deliberate steps. The care of a surgeon in the movement of a runner. Even the enhanced assassins, and those among the Space Marines unimpeded by their armor seem to have no instinct about them, their speed the speed of a pneumatic press, or an out of control piston. All forcing through the air, no cutting.
But the Vindicare had seemed different. It wasn't speed, as much as being in the right place at the right time. She should've known damn it. She rammed into the door, the half frozen bark, far from its native swamp, dully creaking. She pounded into it again, pulling at the door. It warped and stuttered, held shut by something.
More foolish than a human, she thought bitterly. Her spear was still inside too.
She glanced around, running around the house, as she felt the pull of the sea.
Back, a bare hour maybe, that's when she should have seen. (shortly after the Grey Knight fight)
"Come on!" by instinct, her hand reached up, flicking away the blood on her face. She felt more warm blood smear on. The rain was turning to snow, and his breath had started to turn irregular. Shock? He had to live. From stem to stern it had cut, running more shallow along the way. His bottom two ribs, one was cut clean, the other hanging by a sliver of bone. The metal plating had done little good, still bubbling where the marine's glaive had touched. Fried nerves, cooked skin- Human. Mon-keigh.
There were more of them than the stars. Why should she care. A hand slipped under his head, and another one ran across his back.
She shouldn't be caring.
His body shuddered, as he hacked. The mask. Blood was catching under it. Flooding it. He couldn't breath. Her hands ran up the synskin collar, reaching under it, pulling it up as it went along. The mask fell into the snow, taking a lot of blood with it. It dribbled across the snow, and she gently tipped him over, as he hacked, bloody froth coming clear.
"Liivi," she whispered. His eyes were squeezed shut, as he fell back, breathing, coughing occasionally. Dark hair. Short cropped. His cheekbones stood out. What wasn't a smear of blood was- No. Nothing to think about. The snow was falling quick and fast now. She had to go.
She grabbed the mask, and pulled it back onto the Vindicare as gently as she could, but in the middle, he leaned in. Lips brushed. And maybe. Just maybe. They might have held together, a little longer than was appropriate for a bleeding man's comfort.
He fell back into the snow, immediately, as if by some miracle, calmed. She stared. Through the blood, she could taste something else. Lemara. He tasted like lemara.
She carefully pushed the mask back on his face. Around them, the storm begin to howl. She lifted him to her shoulders, and then fell back. There was a cracking noise. The wraithbone had had enough, evidently. How carelessly then she tore off the other spirit stone mounts. Leaving her with just one refuge, in case of death. She had reasoned, she could come back for them. Isolated place. Wouldn't be that hard. They were just getting in the way anyway.
She hefted his arm onto her shoulder, and he had just barely enough life to push with his legs. She stood.
’"WHY-"’ The hollow roar of the Grey Knight's audio must have been malfunctioning, she heard something else whispered. She probably should have been listening.
"He saved my life."
’"YOU-"’ more hollow whispers ’"YOUR GREAT ENEMY?"’
"No more words," She turned, dragging the Vindicare off into the snow storm with her, "You should die soon out here."
The Grey Knight had sounded confused. She had chalked it up to his ego's breaking at defeat. He had been beaten severely. And his attempt to kill the enemy of the Imperium he had seen had been foiled by another agent of the Imperium. The Grey Knights are the greatest weapon mankind has against Daemons.
In all their years, they have never had one fall to chaos. They are the few to be entrusted with the full secrets of what the Imperium knew of daemonology, chaos, and the warp. Their very presence pains demons, makes them sluggish, ineffective. They hunt daemons, first and foremost, and in this task, they must be expected to be the best warriors that humanity can dredge up.
Taldeer ran around the hut, looking for any entrance, as the wood boards creaked at her presence. Why would he engage a farseer alone? Her fingers ran across boards merged together, one flesh over another, warm and twitching to the touch. Why would he try to finish off the Vindicare, if there was another opponent in the field? The Great Enemy.
"Wake up Vindie," the Assassin blinked the sleep from his eyes. Taldeer entered the door, shaking the dripping snow from her spear, smiling serenely at Liivi.
She Who Thirsts.
"Wake up." Liivi started, sitting up, as a flustered Taldeer approached, with a smile, shaking the wet off of her spear. "How are you?"
"I'm-" the Vindicare tested himself, and set himself back, "I'm going to need a moment. The nerve endings are still broken."
"Good... We'll have to pass the time then, won't we?"
"The inhabitant. I don't smell him."
"I took him out," Taldeer shrugged, setting her arms straight and jamming her hands between her feet as she sat in a position of mock meditation, "Figured we wouldn't like any dead guy laying around here."
"The defecation," the Vindicare turned his eyes towards Taldeer, "The blood."
"Shh, I was just lucky to find a mop and soap in this hick's place," Taldeer placed her ungloved hand on Liivi's shoulder, pushing him gently back down, "Just go to sleep, hmm?" The wood groaned under the Vindicare, as he lay back. A fresh magazine was struck home into the pistol. A nervous system of wires and thrice blessed metals kicked in, as the pistol rose to Taldeer's face. She grinned.
"Do you get off on this?" The pistol made six very good points in reply, while the Vindicare kicked himself back.
Taldeer started, as she felt the ocean kick, before stepping back. Two large, holes burst through the wood, the rubbery sacks burst and making a squealing, squelching noise. The problem with the architecture of Kronus, that caused the Ecclesiastical purge was the pysker's report. The pain he felt was purely sympathetic, a crude intelligence, but an intelligence en masse was inside the homes. The local Arch Cardinal had wanted any reason he could find to burn the homes, as disgusted as he was at the concept of living houses, and he had found it. They were aliens, possibly intelligent aliens. As the homes burned into the night sky, and the reeds, already depopulated by the rapacious desires of the colonists, were uprooted wherever the crusaders could find them, they were nearly driven into extinction. Whether they had gone on this path for centuries and they had somehow managed to keep it in secret, or it was started in response, no one can ever be sure.
But the plaintive, stupid, mewling minds of plants turned their thoughts to Chaos. The shaking reeds vomited forth the filthy, turgid water into the snowstorm, as Taldeer leapt back. They rustled and undulated, swearing and cursing in ways only the grass and wind could respect. They called upon a goddess that had long grown bored of them. The weeds shriveled and shrunk desperate to hold onto what water they could. Taldeer reached with her hands, and broke and tore the twisted remnants of an empire that never was, and broke through.
"Hah... Haha..." The pseudo Taldeer fell back against one of the walls, as it twisted in vegetative joy, she spread her hands, "You wound me."
"That was the intent," an empty mag thudded across the floor, as the Vindicare reached for another.
"Do you like it?" The Taldeer fell forward, her eyes watering, her delicate, pale hands reaching for the hole in her throat, she stared upwards, mouth running blood, at the Vindicare, "Is it better, when you can just kill those that you make the object of your affections? Simplifies the fun parts, I bet?"
"Quiet," The pistol coughed, ramming a bullet through the forehead, blood spattering against his visor. Small lasers immediately evaporated it. The Vindicare stood, hand at his side. He switched through the spectrums. All of them showing the same thing.
"Something wrong?" whispered the heap from the floor, "Would it have been better if I didn't talk?" The visor was in error. The sounds weren't matching up right. The gun was too loud. There wasn't that much blood. He didn't smell death.
"Close," Thermal signatures rose in the shape of a smiling woman, covered barely by black stained leather, "It-"
The pistol coughed too loud again as a round black hole appeared in the forehead.
The house shouldn't be this big. Taldeer stepped forward, her shuriken pistol drawn. A small comfort. The wood walls seemed to pulse and breath, as water passed down the reeds. They pressed in, weak, minds drawn together by some human that wanted a place for the summers. Her ocean was dark. She was in the waves. She was strong here.
The Great Enemy. She had been a fool.
No one falls in love outside of their species. Not without some manipulation.
"So, why are you going back?" Mused a voice. Taldeer held, her pistol raised, her hand squeezing, crackling with energy.
"I have no reason to explain to you, or your ilk."
"She was bored, you know," Something stepped out of the shadows, something that was a color and a smell and a industrial accident, "She has been waiting soooo long, to finish what you started. You can't tease a girl forever," A hand touched Taldeer's shoulder. She shot up. Something hissed and shrieked, and for a blink of a moment, Taldeer was standing in a kitchen, strange, viscous blood dripping across her. Then, she was somewhere else.
"I know you are impatient beast. Your kind always are. When you come back, I will kill you."
"Oh, I will be entertained," The voice had changed pitches, almost recognizable, on surrounding on all sides, "I will be entertained by your other. Your savior, as we jerk him by the chains we gave him and he shoots you full of holes!"
As if on cue, a buzzing noise of a hundred bullets whizzed at Taldeer. She held still, and waited for the thing to get bored.
General Governor Militant Lukas Alexander rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Inquisitor Madek, I do not know anything more than what my trusted officer Ardrin has told you. If you will pardon me, I have a war against those beloved space marines you invited into the pass my men softened to run."
"There is something more, Governor. There must be."
"Your Grey Knight declared somebody reeked of the warp, he was next to an Eldar, he could have sniffed the warp enchantments she used on him."
"It is not the same, neophyte. Tell me again, where you deployed him."
"Initial clearing of Victory Bay, deployment along with Operation Hammerfall as a spotter-"
"He cleared a house, used it as a firing position, dropped hundreds of rioters before they surrendered."
"Inhabitants of the house."
"A family, family of six."
"Hm. Last of the reports on the kill roster for him-"
"Oh good, that makes me ecstatic. I'm so glad you found that out. Beautiful. I'm going to get back to my war, that you helped my enemies with now."
"The weight will be upon your soul if you do not hel-"
"What else can I do? I'm not going to recite records that Ardrin has already told you about all day. Governor Militant, out."
"If you-" Inquisitor Madek stared, stunned as the vox buzzed silent. Then frowned. That would require retaliation. He turned to the Enginseer, "Brother Felix, if I could have a word with you about the newly deployed unit..."
Lukas switched off the comm, panting a bit. That was unwise. He closed his eyes, and sighed, before crawling back into the tank. He stood, taking the third door down the corridor, where the technicians saluted, pointing him to his seat. He gave a nod, before sitting down in the command chair. "This thing is checked right? I don't feel like going through a long checklist of what works and what doesn't."
"All eleven weapons, check, fuel check, tracks check out, everything is good to go my lord."
"Good," Lukas Alexander shifted uneasily in his command chair, glancing across the technicians. He had been a bit rude. He licked his lips, loosening the bolt pistol at his side, "No one in here leaves, no one in here enters, until this battle is over, you read?" A wave of nods, "Good. Set course for the space port." A deafening crunch of ice on steel, as the many engines in the Baneblade roared to life, pulling the tracks forward across the snowing landscape. Eleven guns waved over the horizon, searching for targets, seeing only the flanking forces of the Imperial guard, rolling behind. Greasy black smoke sailed up into the sky joining their brethren above the Kronus spaceport. Strangely, the assurances of Midilv seemed even less comforting, at the end of a tank column.
"It's not going to be of any use," The Daemon stood, shaking her head, blood and brains dripping from two dark red holes.
"True," The Vindicare lowered his weapon, his hand pressing against his side, the adrenaline was fading now, and he could feel something drifting in his body, "Leave me then, or kill me abomination. I shall not be diverted from my duties."
"No, of course not. You have the Farseer for 'diversions' from your duty, don't you?" The daemonette spread her hands, approaching the assassin, "You didn't- You didn't think these feelings were genuine, did you?"
"If we're going to have a conversation, you REALLY must stop shooting me."
The contents of Chapter Nine were deleted by the writer; supposedly, nothing relating to the story was lost.
note: had sex w/ demonette, felt ashamed.
"Of course, you would have known that... If you had looked inside of his head," the abomination's clawed feet tacked on the floor, annoying, precise, like a metronome by five, "Which I assume, you didn't?" Taldeer stayed, kneeled, still. The thing was confusing her, trying to make her distrust, lose focus, but... The soft noise, like leather being drawn taut heralded the monster's smile. "You DID."
"I delved into his mind while he slept. His memories...they horrified me. The things they did to him as a child and even worse - as a man. They twisted his mind and body endlessly. Till there was nothing left. Nothing but a weapon. A tool for the Imperium. Barely a soul in a body, this man, LIIVI, was utterly alone in this world. Even more so than I. He has nothing and nobody to go back to. I broke free from his mind. And after a moment to collect my thoughts, I laid beside him and slept," Taldeer turned, her head tilting up slightly.
Amusement, rippled on the tide in her head. "You were horrified?" Laughter, mirth traveled along the waves, "Horrified? You soft bitch, you delve into his skull while he sleeps, while he TRUSTS you," The voice paused a moment, and for a moment, the utter dark that blocked Taldeer's senses lifted, her, lying on the kitchen floor, the wall above filled with holes, before it returned, "And you dive into his skull?" The daemonette was behind Taldeer. She could feel it. Rasping along her soul, crying out that all that was wrong behind her- Yet she listened to the daemon's words.
"I MASTURBATED to those thoughts, you little innocent bitch," Taldeer's eyes made the lie that the daemonette strutted ahead of her, glittering multifaceted eyes reflecting her a thousand times being tortured, "How couldn't it arouse you?" The daemonette spread her arms, a viscous substance dribbling from her fingers, strands still leading back to her person, "A man, reduced to a machine, single minded, devoted to destruction and eradication, and you, you have him as your servant. Your patsy. The one who adores you,"
The Slaaneshi leaned in, smile playing across her lips, "Without even fucking with his head, or at least doing a damn fine subtle job of it, tell me you don't get a little wet at things you could make him do, wrapped around your little finger."
"I mean, at that as well, with just a single glance, A SINGLE GODDAMN GLANCE, you had him?" The Daemonette shook her head as she walked back, "Lucky, lucky little whore..." The illusion stopped, turned on her heel, staring at Taldeer. "Well? Say something? Anything Juliet?"
"No," Taldeer said, serenely, "I think you've told me everything I wanted to know already." The daemonette narrowed her eyes, snorted, then rounded on her heel. Imaginary tortures sprang anew across her, as Taldeer grinned, fearless now.
In the Temple of the Vindicare, all times were measured by the times of Earth. It took three days, nineteen hours and twelve seconds for the disobedient, alien sun to set. Eighteen hours and three seconds for the blasphemous second star to rise. Eighteen hours of tyranny before it fell. So on. So forth. All attempts to form an unofficial, logical time, were broken by the lash.
Yet, in those first few free months, the assassin kept a new time than the one he had once on his home world. It had been driven out of him. With burning rod and crackling leather, it had been erased. Expunged. With the rest of him, pulled out by the roots, taking great big bloody clots with it.
It was noon, on Holy Terra. The sun was high above Holy Terra. The Inquisitor had always told them that the clock was right. Checked by twins, they were. What light could make through the atmosphere, would be glinting off of the palace right now. The moon looked beautiful, this noon of Holy Terra.
"If you're done ruminating...The mission you fucked." The Vindicare looked down from the moon, to the longlas in his hands. He stood in a field where nothing grew but weeds, tall as his thighs. A flower was growing at his feet.
"Do not fail," intoned, from a year away.
"You're an awful good sport about this," whispered the daemonette across the road. She smiled, sadly, in the lips of Taldeer, sad eyes of Taldeer peering from under the sad brow of Taldeer, in the garments of Taldeer, "If, if you want this to stop-"
Taldeer's long lashes cast downward, covering aged eyes, wet and ashamed- "Yes."
A ground car trundled by, its primitive combustion engine hacking and coughing as it went. When the ton of motored steel passed by, the warp spawned abomination shrugged off the skin of Taldeer, a frown cracking its face. "Guess it ain't vulnerability then," muttered the deviant, dispelling the illusion.
"The target is going to Nightmarket," 12:34, on the minute in Pier delle Vigne, the streets blossomed. Under noon in Holy Terra, under moon of their world. No spymask. Stealthsuit and hood were under his coat and trousers, but he wasn't expected to have to use them. Inquisitor Uberti wanted to send a message. Already elements of the 5th Hastati were moving, securing spots for the Vindicare to fire, securing avenues of escape, securing the proper delivery of the message. A year ago, the Vindicare's hands moved, disassembling the weapon, placing the pieces in his coat. A year ago, he moved off, heading for the night market in full bloom. The red flower, fairer by any other name, a relic from twenty thousand years ago, a genetic miracle, a year ago crushed under his foot.
"Stepped on something," the voice from across the road lilted over. The world had no technology to speak of. The governor enacted dictums and creeds long ago, that forbade the populace from dealing with Imperial traders, "To preserve the culture and lifestyle of the honest folk of Florent." Currently on his two hundred and eleventh year by virtue of Imperial immortality drugs, rumor stated that the governor had gone into seclusion more as a concession to good taste not to flaunt hypocrisy than any sort of secret to hide.
Generations had the same portrait of the governor, smug, a little jowl, the Imperial regalia suiting him. Rogue traders freely tracked back and forth, even as lasgun bearing Adeptus Arbites patrolled the streets, keeping an eye out for citizens bearing too much technology. "You ever felt guilty?" Asked the voice, now on the other side of a building, as the Vindicare stepped along the sidewalk. The longlas disassembled, held in pockets on his person. The assassin did not answer. Night Market was a festive time, a relic of happier days. Night time used to be times of fear to those of Pier delle Vigne, long ago.
But how the city celebrated with gas lighting. They revered it to this day, elevating the hero of the city, Vigne the Gaslighter, with sainthood in their local Ecclesiarchical branch, and with his name upon the town. In celebration of their newfound safety, and liberation from criminals, the Night Market was opened. In recent years, it had become considered practically a form of open welfare for the criminal element, but, a reverence for tradition drove the Florents on to the market, nearly every night they could afford to.
Including one unfortunate young woman.
Third floor. Brick building.
"So nice to be able to see you fuck up something once. Well, this and falling for something that isn't even your species."
The long barrel spins, clicks in place on the main body of the lasrifle. A powerpack is shoved home. A whine, subsonic, pierces the Vindicare's ears.
"Always shooting chicks too, alright, the last lil' scene we played through, she wasn't that good, but this one," The daemonette was leaning on some boxes. Some sort of warehouse, she leaned over the edge, peering out the window, "She's something I'd like to spend a bit of time on, if ya- Oh by the way, good peripheral vision there, that all natural?"
The scope slid down the hollowed line, as the Vindicare stood at the window, his target coming along in peripheral vision. She was a courtesan. She was smiling, her parents had been mixed, one of them belonging to the dominant darker ethnicity with the silver highlight genetic tampering, and the other a plainer, more yellow woman who gained his attention by being an heiress. Somehow, they managed to produce a beauty enough to capture the attention of the planet. And the governor.
"Too high," muttered the Vindicare, words that were in his memory.
"Oh good. After that bad ass, click clang assembling bit, you go down a floor?" The daemonette rolled her eyes, "Real professional."
Vindicare walked by, his longlas fully assembled at his side. "Playin' hard to get," she mumbled. She hated being direct. But bit by bit, it seemed the only way. Canvas flaps crisscrossed the streets, like the product of a manic spider. Within the folds and turns and twists of the Night Markets tent city, merchants established their benches, displaying their wares for all to see. Behind the canvas, the Vindicare waited.
Leather and patchwork cloth didn't hide her from the IR on the scope. It was good enough. He really had no need to reach through, and pull apart a seam on one of the flaps, to see with his own eyes. She stepped lightly, a bag at her waist, over her arm, holding it like the farmgirl she once was distributing seed. Gift from the governor. No stitches. Molded together. Doubtless bought off world.
"X-L-I-I-I, do you have the target in sight yet?" The bored tones of Inquisitor Uberti crackled over his subdermal. For a moment, his skin twitched, set abuzz by the faulty installation just behind his temple. The next module performed much better.
"Good, good, my men will need a moment to get into position, just hold on." She twisted, the shotgun of genetic fate on full display. Coconut skin like her father, mother's fair hair, save for what silver patterned across her, flashing in the gaslight. "We're good, look to your right." The Vindicare glanced out of the corner of his eye. Inquisitor Uberti stood, a good nine blocks away on one of the sprawling balconies of the governor's equally opulent and space wasting manor. The Inquisitor's arm over the shoulder of a quivering, frightened man stuffed with great care into an officer's regalia. "Fire at will."
The cotton skirt blew in the wind, as she turned, the grin at the common folk faded, as she looked down the street, in curiosity at the waving man in the golden armor. Her head, flapped in the breeze, as she spun a last pirouette, a lazy circle falling down. The Night Market, within a moment, emptied, stepping and fighting each other to get away from the signature lasblast. Some of them trod upon their former maiden idol.
"That was it?"
"You're the one picking through my memory."
"And you remembered this as a botched job becau-"
"Pick back through the briefing witch," said the Vindicare, turning and pointing the lasrifle at the daemonette, "I am not in a verbose mood."
"You're going to try to shoot me again?" The Daemonette stepped forward, as Liivi felt her hot breath on the back of his neck, "You do know- I control everything you see. Slaanesh is the god of pleasure, sensation, excess- I, I control everything you can possibly see, hear, smell, touch, and taste, waving a pretend gun at a pretend me and pretend to pull the pretend trigger is not going to do a thing."
The memory faded, pushing LIIVI back into the dark. The gun, dripped and melted away with cinematic abandon. "Just sit tight there miboyo. I'll be back later." The daemonette opened her eyes again. Back to reality. The assassin in front of her had flailed about like a puppet with the way she had to manipulate his every sense before she had gone ahead and tied him up with a belt. The Eldar was at least still, but, at this the abomination felt her side, the wound still raw, "Bitch is tricky," the Slaaneshi murmured. She felt it again. The weak wash of a primitive intellect. The house called again. Noiselessly tunelessly. Begging for feeling once more.
"Barely a step above Tau," the daemonette murmured as she turned from the room with the tied sniper, standing at the precipice to the kitchen. The farseer was still there. Kneeling in the standing water. Fuck she hated that bitch.
"Still caught?" Asked Taldeer. "Well, I would go but-"
The daemonette drudged up a quick dream, a flash of her the head of the assassin in her hand, him naked kneeling in front of her, bound and gagged, "We haven't even gotten into anal yet, so I'm not about to leave this nice coz-"
"Cozy house of an abomination that had an intellect that you could barely sustain yourself off of and you reduced your last guest to a gibbering wreck, leaving you stranded in the middle of a blizzard, left alone-"
"Chaos is on this planet," The Slaaneshi sniffed, "I could just hop into the warp and back out on a battlefield somewhere, enjoying myself."
"I've never seen any of Eliphas's men deploy a single daemonette."
"Oh, so suddenly you're the expert on Daemonology."
"He'll turn," The daemonette turned away, heading back to the assassin, "We have all the world and all the time in it." The claws tacked away, angry. Taldeer waited, the ocean drift in her head whispering. Then, with some care, she crept forward another inch. A bare three inches away from the gun she remembered the mon-keigh had dropped.
About the Ending
This is just one oldfag's recollection, but I figure it's better than nothing.
The ending exists- or it did for about half a day. It was posted in an obscure way, I want to say a troll-ridden LCB discussion thread that was nearing autosage. No one saved it, apparently.
This is all secondhand, mind you. But it fits my impression of Bloom Writer- he'd always struck me as very shy and self-effacing, possibly to the point of having genuine self-esteem issues. I also recall that he was struggling to keep going; the "final chapter" may not have been very good or actually reached the end. (Or maybe the dude just had a shitty net connection, it's way too easy to read into these things.)
Either way, the anon who did see it gave us the gist of it a day later, and the plot points he passed on are worth sharing.
-The inquisitor was heretical and had been making knockoff assassins, including LIIVI (whose defects were limited to things like love blooming- he could snipe as well as the genuine article).
-LIIVI managed to cover Taldeer's escape but was captured as a consequence.
-Taldeer makes it back to her ship but winds up joining some rogue traders rather than returning to the craftworld. The implication is that she intends to find and rescue LIIVI.
So if you ever hear people talk about Space Pirate Taldeer, just remember: it's totally canon.
(That being said, there is no way to prove that any of the above is true. In the absence of any undeniable evidence to the contrary, the vast majority of /tg/ acts on the assumption that Taldeer and LIVII escaped back to Ulthwé, where they eventually have a daughter.)
- Love Can Bloom Epub Edition: https://www.dropbox.com/s/gnf2kgvlr8n3e4c/Love%20can%20Bloom%20-%20_tg.epub
Compilation of above writefaggotry
- Love Bloomed In Her Mouth
- Bedroom Infiltration
- Meet the Ulthran, in which Eldrad Ulthran meets LIIVI and decides he approves.
- Sister Sinai, in which we see LIIVI in action before he meets Taldeer.
Now with additional heresy!