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Made in nz
Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore.

  • Chapter 1

  • Chapter 2

  • Chapter 3

  • Chapter 4

  • Chapter 5

  • Chapter 6

  • Chapter 7

  • Chapter 8

  • Chapter 9

  • Chapter 10

  • Chapter 11

  • Chapter 12

  • Chapter 13

  • Chapter 14

  • Chapter 15

  • Chapter 16

  • Chapter 17

  • Chapter 18

  • Chapter 19

  • Chapter 20

  • Chapter 21

  • Chapter 22

  • Chapter 23

  • Chapter 24

  • Chapter 25

  • Chapter 26

  • Chapter 27

  • Chapter 28

  • Chapter 29

  • Chapter 30

  • Chapter 31

  • Chapter 32

  • Chapter 33

  • Epilogue

  • Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Extract

  • Going clockwise: Marcel Torris, Attelus Kaltos, Elandria and Jeurat Garrakson.

    Check out the Prequel: Secret War: A Sanction for Sanity
    Chaos invades the world of Elbyra and one lone teenager fights a desperate fight for survival amongst the rubble of his bombed-out once beautiful, beloved city. Living to survive not surviving to live. But his world is turned around when he saves a sergeant of the local PDF.

    This message was edited 37 times. Last update was at 2020/12/04 07:14:24

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    Gunfire. Las and solid projectile alike ripped down the corridor, stray rounds punching holes through the wooden walls, showering us in pouts of exploding dust, which engulfed much of the hallway in a thick, white haze—forcing my colleagues and me into cover. Two of whom, Jarvus and Callague, never made it. A las round burned through the side of Jarvus' skull as the ex-guardsman desperately dived. Callague was dead before he could even move, the poor bastard almost cut apart by the intense fire.

    Cursing, I blindly fired my autogun from the corner, Into the dust-obscured corridor. 'Spray and pray' is the technical term, and wondered for the hundredth time why I had joined this line of work. No way in hell could I get a clean shot; my only hope was to pin the assailants.

    With a quick-fire signal to Garrakson behind me, I slipped back, and the ex-guardsman took my position.

    "Fire in the hole!" he sang out in his oddly melodic voice, and with a grunt, the middle-aged man hefted a tube charge down the hall.

    The explosion's deafening roar preceded by the hefty clatter of falling debris.

    Without hesitation, Elandria and I slid into the corridor. Side by side, we sprinted through the dust and debris, firing our auto guns from the hip. Two unfortunate gangers buckled and collapsed under our withering fire—a pair of darkened figures stunned by the grenade's force.

    At the last moment, we dropped our weapons and fell upon our enemies—Elandria drawing twin monomolecular enhanced blades from the sheaths on her back. I drew my mono-sword from its hip scabbard. Elandria let out a spine-chilling cackle and dodged a ganger's clumsy blow, then countered with a deft slice, relieving him of his head.

    Not in such humour. I parried a ganger's stabbing knife and kicked my boot's knife into his shin. The man's agonised scream became gurgling as I stabbed through his chest, and I kicked the convulsing idiot off my blade. Immediately, I was forced to duck the next Hammer's wild swing of the butt of his Lasgun. My blade arced into his left hip and through to his right shoulder. The man gurgled blood then fell onto his back.

    Beside me, Elandria finished the last ganger, disembowelling him with a quick slice of Setsukia, then decapitated him with Katrina.

    She and I worked well together, but our combat styles could not have been more different. I was taught the way of the combat pragmatist: to do anything and everything to win, to fight with quick, brutal and practical techniques.

    She fought like a gymnast, with acrobatic and fanciful techniques I found at first contemptuous. But I could not deny that she was skilled, very skilled.

    She had yet to reveal what school of assassins she was taught in, but I could hazard a guess.

    Elandria enjoyed killing. To such heights, it disturbed me and her obsession with decapitating her victims, unnatural. Hence why she wielded twin blades: Setsukia, for blocking and wounding. Katrina, specifically to decapitate. She fought while amped on combat drugs, which I was taught to do too, but detested. If you relied on enhancements, what good would you be without them? I supposed that was why her fanciful style was so effective.

    I do not enjoy killing; I do it because needs must, in a professional manner and pride in my work. I am Attelus Xanthis Kaltos, I am a mercenary, and that is that.

    Despite her ruthless, bloodthirsty nature, Elandria was an attractive young woman. At times her beauty held me in awe. Her skin, deathly pale and her straight brunette hair, jaw length. But I was wise enough to know a girl like her was only to be looked at, not chased being so indoctrinated by her cult, all she would ever know was the mindless urge to kill. It was quite depressing, really.

    The four that fell to our blades were the last; another three had taken the brunt of the blast.

    'Good work, you two', said Garrakson, his heavy boots crunching on the debris as he approached our backs.

    Elandria and I turned to our colleague. Elandria was tense, shaking and as she spun, she almost toppled over. Fortunately, Garrakson was smart enough to stand out of range of Elandria's blades; she was hugely unpredictable when in such a state.

    I shrugged. "All in a day's work," I said, trying to sound nonchalant. "We must be getting back before the local Magistratum arrive."

    Garrakson grimaced slightly. "Or the damnable Arbites."

    "C-cut the chit chat s-shall we?" said Elandria her voice was painful, needy. "Our master will be wanting to hear of our exploits.' She was twitching madly now, another reason I kept off stimms; the withdrawal was intense.

    "What?" said Garrakson. "Our exploits being that we lost even more good men chasing yet another dead end?"

    I sighed; Garrakson's words rang true. I had been part of Taryst's army for half a year now, and so far, this had to be the most horrible, thankless job I've ever had.

    Taryst, a famous Rogue Trader, well known throughout the Calixis sector as a master of trade and business. For an unknown reason, who was waging war against the gangs of this Hive world: Omnartus. So secret this struggle was any mercenary who joined had their mind blocked from psyker intrusion. That was over two thousand men and women. Emperor only knows how even he could afford it.

    "What are we to do about Callague and Jarvus?" I said, starting down the corridor and past Garrakson, although already knowing the answer.

    Garrakson sniffed, causing his scarred, square-jawed face to contort. "Do what we always do," he said, shaking his head. "Leave 'em; we don't have the time, kid."

    "Just for a change, huh?" I sighed. "Poor bastards. I hope that the Magistratum treat them well."

    "Why does it matter?" asked Elandria; despite a drug-induced withdrawal approached with such feline grace, she seemed to float. "The dead are dead; it does not matter how well you treat them."

    I sighed again. No matter how many times I explained it, she still didn't understand.

    Garrakson sniffed again, but this time he hawked up a wad of phlegm he unceremoniously spat to the floor. "Okay, kiddies, we split up," he said. "Elandria go south-west-"

    "Yeah, yeah," I sneered. "We know the drill: I go south-east, and you go south, meet at the base at eighteen hundred, we know."

    Garrakson shook his head with a bemused smile. "How long has it been now?"

    "One hellish half of one hellish year," I answered, though I was not sure either.

    "Hellish? Hellish?" said Garrakson. "Now that's the damned understatement of the damned century. Alright then, just move out now, if you know the bloody drill so frigging well."

    And we did it, yet again.

    I ran out of the building and into the polluted, darkened streets. My black flak jacket whipped and snapped in my wake.

    I did not need to check my wrist chronometre's compass to know I ran southeast. Ever since I was a child, I had an innate sense of direction. I could find my way through the thickest of bush on my homeworld, Elbyra, with only my wits.

    As I silently moved, my thoughts wandered. Half a year ago, our squad numbered ten, but with the losses of Callague and Jarvus, now we're reduced to four.

    The fourth was Torris, an ex-Arbitrator. He was wounded in our last incursion; the poor bastard lost an eye then got knifed in the guts. His condition was still uncertain. I was not into praying, but I was tempted to for Torris.

    It was quite depressing, really; seeing your colleagues killed off, one by one. Was it like this to serve in the Imperial Guard? Perhaps I should ask Garrakson one day if I ever remember to.

    Better do it sooner rather than later, Garrakson maybe the next. Or perhaps me.

    I shook away the morbid thought. The morale of Taryst's army was at an all-time low. We may be mercenaries; throne gelt was a good incentive for us. But Taryst expected us to give up our lives without ever telling us why.

    We were human as well if we had a cause, a meaning! It could make us fight all the harder.

    Anger started to well, my jaw clenched. What was the point of implanting us with psychic blocks if you don't give us any information to protect?

    But I was no stranger to secrets and sabotage. Everyone has an ulterior motive. I learned my lesson 'trust' from my dear old dad, my dear old frigging father.

    I sighed; too many memories suddenly flooded back. I shook it away, now was not the time for sentiment.

    There was never any time for sentiment.

    I turned a sharp corner out of the alleyways and into the main streets.

    We were meant to meet at the base at 1800 hours, but I intended to get there sooner. I felt I needed to speak with the employer, a mother figure to us, and was more of a mother than my own ever was. Her name was Glaitis; she saved me after my first, futile assassination attempt. Glaitis taught me the way of the assassin in more detail than my father ever would. And she knew my father, my real father.

    My brow furrowed, and I sped up my already fast pace.

    She never looked up, and she never seemed to need to as I entered her office.

    "Ah! Attelus Xanthis Kaltos. What is it that brings you to my humble abode, my apprentice?" said Glaitis. She was a tall, harshly beautiful woman, and I couldn't help my gaze gliding over her. Glaitis sat at her desk, long legs crossed. Her cold blue eyes studied a data slate intently.

    My jaw clenched. I hated it when Glaitis used my last name, and she was well aware of it. It was part of her constant testing, which drove me nuts. It was to anger me so I could learn to control my anger- I almost always failed.

    I swallowed the anger, and nervousness replaced it. A nervousness that overtook me when in her presence.

    "I-I am here to advise you of-."

    The sharp snap of the data slate suddenly shutting interrupted me, and she fixed me with her piercing gaze.

    "No stuttering young one, unless it is an act! You are to be confident! Precise in your words and your demeanour and stand up straight! Your posture is utterly horrendous!"

    I did as told, holding back an annoyed sigh.

    "Now, Young Attelus, you may start again."

    "I am here to advise you that we have lost two more members of our squad."

    "And who were they?" she said, her gaze falling to her data slate, uninterested.

    "Callague and Javus."

    "They are of Taryst's ilk," she stated.

    I nodded, already knowing what she was about to say.

    "If they are not part of our own organisation. I do not care, and you know this as well as I. come out with it then. I know you, child, tell me the actual reason you are here."

    I let out a heavy sigh, hoping that it didn't sound too fake; right now, I was testing myself to see if I could hide the exact reason why I was here. "The men are losing morale-"

    "I am well aware of the state of the morale, my apprentice," she interrupted. "You are just here to seek guidance for your own melancholy. Am I correct in my assumption?"

    I hissed air through clenched teeth, hesitating my response. Damn it, outwitted yet again!


    She smiled a steady and starkly rare expression.

    "At least you have learnt from my teachings the value of deception, young Attelus, but yet not the proper technique. As I told you when we first began your training, your father had taught you well in the basics; close-quarters combat, swordsmanship, ranged weaponry. But he had neglected the more subtle arts of an assassin's trade."

    My jaw set at the mention of my father.

    "Do not do that!' she hissed. "That is one of your many tells young one. You do when you are annoyed or angered. Remember, I have taught you time and time again: 'give nothing to your enemies or your allies.' That proverb was handed down to me by my master, and now I hand it down to you. Do you understand what it means, child?"

    "Yes." I barely said rather than sighed. I started regretting coming here.

    "Good!" she sat back in her chair. "Now, tell me. What troubles you, young Attelus."

    Her voice softened; she seemed legitimately interested. That had always taken me back, how she could change from harsh, berating teacher to tender and kind-hearted motherly figure in the blink of an eye.

    My heart skipped and suddenly found words hard to form; when she changed like that, it would always give me a strange tightness in my chest. I had no idea why.

    "I- I hate this!" I managed to blurt. "We have been here for six months, and we have nothing! Nothing! Just more corpses and questions! It's hard; every frigging day is the same! A new lead we are sent to track down and- and! We are only to find a new dead end!"

    "I know," she said softly. "I know it is hard."

    "But you know what else?" I snarled. "I get the suspicion that frigger Taryst knows more than he lets on! That he could give us information that would allow us to do our jobs, but for some idiotic, selfish reason, he holds it back! I don't know why, but I have my ideas!"

    Glaitis placed her elbow on her desk and cupped her jaw in her smooth, tender hand. A slight smile played over her full purple lips. "Really, young one?' she cooed. "And pray tell, what are these 'ideas'?"

    I stiffened; I said more than I should have. But I did not stutter. I looked Glaitis straight in the eye and said, "That the information would damn him, that he is desperate to keep it secret so much, that if it were even slightly leaked out, his life would be jeopardised. That he could be branded as a heretic and a traitor." I sighed. "That's why."

    My attention dropped to the carpet, and I waited for her response.

    After what seemed an eternity, she finally said, "I have to say, my young one, I am impressed."

    "What?" I said, looking back up. Of all the responses that were the last, I had guessed.

    "Yes, that you would have at least a little tact to figure out makes me believe that finally, my lessons seem to be getting through to you. I, myself, had come to suspect Taryst for quite some time but for you to figure it out all alone," she laughed.

    I stood, seemingly frozen to the floor. Never had Glaitis complimented me like that before.


    "That, young one. Is the true key to survival in our...line of work," she said. "The first rule, 'know your enemy.' It is a simple and obvious statement, but you have learnt its true meaning."

    I winced with a curse, finally realising...

    "You have it, child."

    Her smile turned cruel.

    "Everyone is your enemy."

    I Leant on the wall of the dirty, smoggy alleyway and smoked a lho stick. My colleagues were yet to arrive, but I did not mind. I was early, and it allowed me time to do what I do best; think.

    It was frigging typical of Glaitis to retract a compliment. After her words filtered through my numbed mind, pride started to well within me. My posture straightened, so straight, I stood taller than ever before, but then she said.

    "But do not let it go to your head, young Attelus, Xanthis Kaltos. For though, I am not sure when you began to suspect Taryst. In all likelihood, it would be far too late."

    "What?" and I was back to being hunched again.

    She stood and approached me from around her desk; I could not help my eyes running up her lithe, full-figured body.

    Glaitis shook her head; she knew, she always frigging knew. "By now, Attelus, if you were alone, working out in the field, and it took you this long to suspect your employer? You would be dead; you did well, young one, in this endeavour, but next time..."

    "Frig!" I snarled and sighed: "Try doing it a little quicker.".

    "Indeed, and remember this piece of advice, young one and remember it well: 'trust nothing, suspect everything.'"

    I nodded wide-eyed.

    "I will," was all I could manage.

    "And Attelus, as much as I try to encourage you to try...think a little less. Do think on my words now," her face turned dark. "Think on them long and hard, now leave. I have much work to do."

    I took the Lho stick with my index finger and thumb.

    "Trust nothing, suspect everything," I said. The irony was Glaitis meant herself too.

    Is this what it meant to be an assassin? Being some paranoid, psychotic, schizophrenic, trusting no one, not even yourself?

    I sighed out smoke; it reminded me of my father how he would act when some slightly suspicious stranger walked past our home, how he reacted when anyone but me came close. For the first time in a long time, I felt something other than anger at my father. I felt sorry for Serghar Kaltos.

    Was he the product of this 'training'? No, I was beginning to think it was brainwashing. Was this why my father neglected to teach me the 'subtle arts?' He did not want me to be a lonesome monster like him?

    I took the Lho stick and eyed it; I used to be a chain smoker. They helped me in my darker days. At Glaitis' instruction, I had quit (which seemed hypocritical as she encouraged the use of potentially deadly combat drugs). Still, since we came under Taryst's employ, I drifted back to the dirty habit, a coping mechanism indeed.

    Was the life of an assassin what I truly wanted?

    I tapped the ash off the Lho stick and put it back in my mouth.

    I didn't know what I wanted anymore.

    I inhaled the sweet smoke, took the dying smoke between my index finger and thumb. Exhaled and flicked the stub onto the rockcrete ground.

    I kept leaning against the wall, not moving to step it out. Elandria did it as she emerged from the shadows.

    "Lost in your little world once more, eh?" she said.

    "Not lost enough to miss your clumsy approach."

    I could not see the expression on her face behind that cold, featureless mask, but I could hazard a guess.

    Elandria was many things, but socially intelligent was not one of them.

    She stood for a few seconds, trying to make a coherent comeback and the best she came up with was, "why is the son of Serghar Kaltos smoking Lho? Does he think himself too good for the rules?"

    My jaw set. I tried to keep my father's identity a secret, but Glaitis had to go and tell Elandria. Perhaps it was yet another 'test', but what that bloody woman wanted to test exactly was a mystery; was it my patience? Or my skill at combat when I lost my patience?

    I sighed contemptuously, and that riled her up.

    "What does that mean?"

    "It means what it means," my tone insultingly melancholic.

    "Yeah!" she snarled. "Well, let us see what it truly 'means' when I separate your head from your shoulders!"

    And she reached for her blades.

    I grinned then, in a blink, slid into a combat stance and drew my sword.

    Then Garrakson suddenly seemed to appear between us.

    Elandria and I yelped in fright and leapt back.

    "That's enough, kiddies," he said. "I think that we've had enough violence for today."

    Then he turned to me. "And kid, if you want to sheath your blade in her, may I suggest using your 'other' blade instead."

    I felt my face go hot.

    "What?" demanded Elandria, her wide, beautiful green eyes switching back and forth between Garrakson and I. "What is this 'other blade' you speak of, Garrakson? Attelus Kaltos only wields one. Is-is it the knife in his boot?"

    "Try a little higher, missy," said Garrakson, and I blushed even worse.

    But she still didn't get it.

    Garrackson sighed. "Alright, let's get moving, kiddies. We've got exploits to report."

    My face still seeming on fire, and Elandria still confused. We slipped south toward the 'back way.' The entrance designated to us dirty dogs of war. We were not good enough for the public entry.

    Elandria and I walked on Garrakson's flanks; into the dirty, barely six-metre wide alleyway. We were aware of the cameras watching us—thirteen of them, perched about five metres up on the grim, grey walls. I reminded myself of them every time, just in case.

    We came to the entrance, a well-hidden set of double doors. Garrakson tugged open the panel hiding the keypad and typed the access code.

    Elandria and I kept watch, which was fine with me. My back was to the gorgeous assassin. In my immature embarrassment, I could barely at look her and counted myself lucky. Her indoctrination had given her a naiveté of such personal matters.

    Actually, on second thought, I was not lucky at all. Luck had abandoned me long ago.

    I hissed a curse. Then I could not help grin and shake my head.

    Abruptly, I was brought into reality by the slight hissing of the opening doors, and we silently slipped in.

    We walked into what was once a maintenance entrance, now was a highly secure, fortified maintenance entrance.

    If there was a literal embodiment of Taryst's paranoia: this was it. Mercenaries crawled throughout the ten metre wide, hundred-metre long walkway. At every three metres: were waist high rockcrete walls. It was on a sharp incline, so each wall overlooked the last and twelve small balconies jutted from the walls: ten metres overhead. A sniper crouched in each; their Long Las rifles tracked us as we walked.

    I hated the place. I would always try to find some way to sneak or fight through without getting evaporated by billions of las, solid projectile and high-velocity hot shot rounds, besides stealing a uniform or complete camouflage. I came up nil; it was as close to impregnable as I knew. It would take hundreds, perhaps thousands of Imperial Guardsmen to storm it, and their casualties would be horrendous, but it would work...eventually. That or an entire company of Space Marines, but even they would suffer: a high yield hotshot round punches through power armour with ease.

    Elandria and I silently walked through the crowd of highly armed and armoured mercenaries. But Garrakson seemed to greet each frigger in frigging turn. He knew them by name and stopped for idiotic small talk with them. I was almost glad at Callague's and Jarvus' demise; the walk would have been even longer with them.

    After twenty long minutes, we arrived at the end. Here two servitors, both with an autocannon for arms, stood constant vigil at the doors.

    They slid open, and Colonel Barhurst walked out. The grizzled old bastard approached with a warm grin and outstretched arms. But he was contradicted by the ten grim, faceless Stormtroopers escorting him.

    "Ahh! Garrakson, my good friend!" Barhurst exclaimed. He was well into his two hundred, but the use of extensive and expensive rejuvenate treatments kept him looking in his mid-thirties. Though a heavily scarred and beaten man in his mid-thirties. According to my research, he was one of Taryst's longest-serving allies. He abandoned his duties as a Colonel in the Tamarsk 30th to join the Rogue Trader, so wanted by the commissariat and Inquisition for dereliction of duty. But thanks to Taryst's goodwill and huge influence, he eluded justice so far.

    I never liked Barhurst; the man was sycophancy incarnate. Taryst was the real commander; all Barhurst did was carry on the Rogue Trader's commands, and when asked to do anything himself, he would pass it onto others. He was charismatic, friendly, but it was an obvious facade. How Taryst couldn't see the incompetence of his second was quite beyond me.

    "How goes the hunt?"

    "Another dead end," said Garrakson; the contempt in our squad leader's voice was well hidden, but not from me. "And we lost Callague and Jarvus."

    Barhurst made an exaggerated frown; it was like an alien making a sick parody of human emotion. 'Sorry to hear that, my friend. Master Taryst is up in his grotto waiting for you."

    Then Barhurst turned to Elandria and me, smiling smugly. "And you two know the drill."

    I sighed, yes I frigging know, do you need to remind me every single time? I thought, and my teeth clenched.

    Hesitantly, I unstrapped my sheathed sword, placed it on the nearby table and slipped off my wrist-mounted throwing knife compartments. I took my autopistol from my shoulder holster, then lastly and most hesitantly: my right boot, which contained the hidden knife.

    Elandria did it with even more aversion than I: letting go of her twin swords, her autopistol and knife.

    "Good!" said Barhurst. "You can head on up now."

    And just to make sure, we had to file through a metal detector.

    Every single damn day for six months, we went through this gak. Saying it was quite depressing was a frigging understatement.

    I might have to start on Obscura just to get over this monotony.

    I shook away the thought. I have seen the damage that the drug can do. I have been through the damage it could do, and I will never go through that again.


    In silence, we rode the up elevator the three hundred stories of Taryst's tower. On a hive world like Omnartus, buildings of such excessive calibre were almost a given. I was from an Agri world, though it was not without great cities of its own. Varander, the capital of my home country: Velrosia was a bustling, beautiful metropolis. Varander sat on the north coast of lake Varander. A lake was so large it could be classed as a sea. I spent the majority of my teenage years living there.

    I missed Varander. The last I had seen the city, it was reduced to rubble.

    Then there was Varanier, the capital of Elbyra's largest nation: Maranger. That was a fantastic city, harsh and sparse. It was a metropolis of granite and grit, an embodiment of its people.

    Neither city was on terms with even the smallest of hives. Many packed ten times the population of Elbyra into an area the size of a Varanderian suburb.

    Omnartus was dead. Millennia of intense colonisation, mining and pollution had destroyed its ecosystem. But when we rode this elevator, it would make my dreary days worth it. As we rose high enough to emerge from the pollution, I would glimpse the might of nature. That despite humanity's wanton destruction, here still held a beauty of its own. The sun dominated, and in the distance, the peaks of Omnartus' many mountains broke through to the clear air, like icy white islands in a sea of black and brown. But despite everything, each mountaintop contained life: a one in a million plant had the sheer power and audacity to survive in below zero temperatures. That it thrived despite the odds was a testament.

    Of course, I kept this romanticism private; no self-serving mercenary should be like this. Despite having seen so much death and grim darkness, I still held onto slight aspects of my sixteen-year-old self, the foolish, naive me, before being forced to find out how horrible it is to live in this galaxy. That was why I was having second thoughts; I was beginning to doubt whether I could handle the damage this life could cause, physical and mental.

    No, the damage it will cause.

    I sighed, attention stapled to the world outside, hoping like hell my back facing Elandria and Garrakson was enough to hide my emotions.

    Then it happened, what I dreaded most: the end of the journey.

    "300th story; Master Taryst's living quarters," said the elevator's pre-programmed, monotone voice as the ascent abruptly stopped. "Restricted access, retinal scan required."

    My jaw clenched, and I looked up, seeing the three cameras crowding the elevator with their damnable presence.

    Surely Taryst was watching the feed? Surely over the dozens of times, we have been up here, the Rogue Trader could discern who the hell we were?

    I could tell Garrakson shared my teeth grinding frustration; the ex-guardsman stood and waited for about half a minute. Then with a heavy sigh, he pushed his face into the scanner.

    "Employee 568; identified as Jeurat Garrakson," said the computer. "Access granted."

    The doors slid open, and we filed out.

    We entered Taryst's lavish living quarters. Elandria in the middle; Garrakson and I on her flanks. Red dominated Taryst's little world, a deep, bloody crimson.

    The windowless corridor was five metres wide and about fifteen in length. At the end was a thick crimson and gold curtain. I had never been through those curtains. Taryst would always meet us out here. I knew Garrakson had, and I was sorely tempted to ask the ex-guardsman but could not pluck up the courage. Well, him and Glaitis.

    Two straight-backed guards stood in front of the curtains. They were in golden, ostentatiously emblazoned carapace armour; they held equally fancy hellguns. I had never seen their faces nor talked to them, but I could not help admire their discipline and stoicism.

    Curiosity ate at me. What was beyond the curtains? It could be anything: a secret shrine dedicated to the Ruinous Powers? Or perhaps a den of sin and hedonism? (That could be a shrine to one god, but I would rather keep from uttering its name)

    But I was not sure if I wanted to know. No, I wanted to see, but whether I should was an entirely different question.

    I was finding Ignorance was very much bliss in this galaxy (which is ironically against Glaitis' teachings)

    I sighed. It was far too late for that; I had long passed that event horizon. Short of having myself lobotomised, there was no going back.

    Just like my dear old damnable dad.

    "GREETINGS, MY DEAR FRIENDS!" The deep voice abruptly boomed, and the boss himself flourished out of the curtains.

    I winced, not in fright but contempt. Every time Taryst would greet us this way. And it every single time, it smacked of utterly forced, fake enthusiasm.

    In all honesty, I had come to suspect Taryst of withholding secrets right from my first week of employment, and how could I bloody not? Even if I had told Glaitis' then, it would have been too late in her lofty opinion.

    "My friends!' he echoed as he approached us. "My friends!"

    Taryst stood over two metres tall. He was big-boned and corded with muscle; he cut an intimidating figure.

    His strong-jawed face was plain. His tanned skin, complemented by a finely maintained black moustache and goatee. His smile glaringly bright and, like his greeting, fake.

    During the months, I noticed Taryst had aged; now, there were bags under his eyes and wrinkles here and there. Being utterly paranoid all the time would do that.

    I wouldn't trust him as far as I could frigging throw him.

    "Attelus, Jeurat!" Taryst cried as he came close, his two guards in tow. He paused at Elandria and, with surprising dexterity, eclipsed her hand in his, then lightly kissed the back of it. "Mamzel Elandria, what news have you brought me today?"

    My jaw set as I saw Elandria's pale skin blushing like mad.

    Garrakson cleared his throat; he was the only one used to the Rogue Traders over the top extroversion. "My lord, we have arrived at yet another dead end."

    Almost violently, Taryst let go of Elandria's hand. He stood and turned on his heels; his back faced us. "And Callague, Javus?"

    "I am not sure, sir."

    Taryst spun on Garrakson. "And what does 'I am not sure' mean?"

    Garrakson shrugged. "I don't know, sir, meaning that they are either still lying in the pools of blood we left them in or in a Magistratum mortuary either/or."

    His dead tone shocked me so much my jaw dropped.

    Taryst grimaced slightly and, for a second, looked like his five hundred years.

    "I-I am sorry to hear that."

    Garrakson stayed stoic, kept his gaze locked to Taryst's.

    Taryst flinched away. "And as well as no news on your target?"

    "Zilch," answered Garrakson. "No sign of this Brutis 'Bones' yet sir, he is quite the enigma."

    Now that is the frigging understatement of the millennia, I thought.

    "Then what exactly happened?"

    Garrakson sniffed. "They went immediately hostile, sir, ambushing us as we entered their base of operations, even with our cover. We managed to fight our way to their cogitator bank but found the memory all wiped. I haven't seen such ferocity since I fought in the guard, sir. From what I gathered, if we captured and tried to interrogate one of the hammers, we would be wasting our time. They were like cultists, sir. This Brutis "bones" must be getting very influential in the local gangs if they will fight for him like that. The crazy bastards."

    Taryst looked desperately at Elandria and me.

    "And you two agree?"

    Elandria nodded and blushed to the floor. My jaw set again, and I said simply, "yes."

    I could not bother with more detail; I just wanted to get away from Taryst.

    Taryst grimaced disapprovingly.

    "Alright, another dead end it is then!" he exclaimed with forced humour. "And quite literally too!"

    The only one laughing was Elandria, both Garrakson and I, not so amused.

    "Okay then, and I thank you all for the update, and I apologise for Callague and Jarvus; they were good men." Then he turned away and began back to his curtains. "Dismissed, all."

    "Oh, and young Attelus," he said, suddenly stopping his tracks and making me halt in mine. "Come! I very much wish to speak to you!"

    That was the last thing I wanted to hear.

    This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2021/04/18 21:04:24

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    I sighed while watching Taryst disappear between the curtains. I needed a drag of Lho almost as much as I did not want to follow that literal embodiment of psychotic paranoia.

    I slipped out my ceramic box of Lho sticks from my flak jacket pocket and eyed the two guards while slowly beginning to open it.

    They just stood there silent, deathly still.

    I carried on, attention fixed on the guards, more interested in what they would do than the smoking itself. I opened the case, tugged out one lho: put it in my mouth, then pulled out my igniter.

    I hesitated halfway through the movement, expecting the guards to do something.

    No, still motionless.

    I shrugged and lit the Lho.

    I inhaled the smoke and sighed it out, gladdened my stupidity did not cause my torso to be bisected by laser fire and that, perhaps paranoia had not entirely taken Taryst's mind...Yet.

    I did not understand why Taryst had those two standing there. I had only seen such ostentatious bodyguards accompany planetary Governors or Lord Generals; perhaps he wanted to state that he too was deserving of such charges as those great and mighty servants of the Imperium? Being a great and almighty Rogue Trader and all.

    Well, actually, perhaps so. At least unlike many Lord Generals and Lord Governors out there (and especially the latter), Taryst had earned this power, this prestige. According to the research I had garnered, I would not put it past Taryst to have that doctored.

    I took another inhale and blew out the sweet smoke. Why do you want to talk to me, Taryst? So many reasons flew through my thoughts then, each more obvious than the last and even more dodgy than the one before.

    I pulled out the Lho between index finger and thumb, eyeing those still guards once more and found I envied them. Life for those two idiots seemed so simple; you stand and guard. Did they have to worry about political intrigue? No. Did they have to worry about their master's constant berating at even the slightest of mistakes? Somehow I doubted it.

    Alright, enough loitering, I thought, putting the Lho back between clenched teeth. Let's get this over and damn well done with.

    I walked toward the curtains, slowly, casually. Hands in the pockets of my flak jacket and the lit Lho, hanging out the corner of my mouth.

    I was almost there when a massive, golden gloved paw was suddenly held right in my face, making me stop.

    "Excuse me, sir," said the left side guard with forced politeness, the voice vox enhanced. "Would you be so kind as to dispose of the contraband?"

    My brow furrowed heavily, and I sighed, annoyed but unsurprised. I took the Lho stick by thumb and index finger and handed it to the guard.

    "And the container as well, sir?"

    Barely containing a groan, I snapped it out of my pocket, the movement so swift, so smooth that the guard took a few seconds to notice it was right in his face.

    And why don't you chop off my balls while you're at it, huh? I thought sorely.

    "I-I thank you, sir, now you may pass through; you will have your Lhos returned when you leave."

    I glared up at the much taller guard. I frigging well better, I thought as I passed through the curtains. Or you may be waking up a eunuch.

    That is, if you are not already, a eunuch.

    I emerged into the living quarters and quickly took in my surroundings. It was a much smaller area than I thought, ten metres in width, fifteen in length. The crimson red walls lined with gold. Placed nicely in the room's epicentre was a tasteful, beautiful, white (with gold lining) marble water fountain with three wide, red couches around it. A small side table set at each armrest, all covered with expensive liquor bottles. The couches arranged three metres away from the fountain, but otherwise, the room was completely and strangely empty.

    Most prominent was the door at the opposite end of the room. The adamantium door was a contrast to the rest of the decor; it was hard not to note. It was quite interesting that Taryst did not seem even to bother hiding it, a fake door, perhaps? Or perhaps I was looking into it a bit too much.

    "My friend!" yelled out Taryst as he leaned back on one of the couches, "come! Take a seat. I have amasec of the highest quality and cigars! Relax, we have much to discuss!"

    I didn't move an inch. "No. But I would castrate someone for a smoke of Lho."

    "Sorry?" Taryst's eyes widened.

    The corner of my mouth twitched, idiot!

    "Hmm, sorry, do you have any Lho to smoke?" I rephrased it as smoothly as possible.

    Taryst's look of shock disappeared. "Yes, young Attelus, come, sit. I have plenty."

    I sighed and hunched in defeat, beginning to approach. I really didn't want to move an inch but saw little choice in the matter; Taryst's over-friendliness was getting on my nerves.

    Taryst leaned over his couch, opened one of the draws on his table and took out a rather fanciful box.

    "Here, take as many as you want, young Attelus," he said, sliding the box open and holding it out to me.

    My jaw set. Why did he have to call me 'young Attelus' continually? Attelus would just do; I knew that I was young, I did not need to be constantly reminded by someone else besides Glaitis. She still called me 'child,' a rather dated title seen as though I was twenty-three frigging years old.

    Keeping my annoyance again silent, I nodded thanks and drew out two, meanwhile pulling out the igniter.

    I smiled, finding it funny that the guards outside would make me give up my lhos but forget my igniter, which I could potentially do more damage. I was skilled in that aspect; my father had taught me how to turn anything into a potentially lethal weapon, even lighters, especially lighters; he was an equally avid smoker of Lho as well.

    "You still stand, young Attelus, come and sit."

    "Thank you, sir, but I would rather stand," I said, trying for the soft yet forceful tone that Glaitis had taught me.

    Taryst shrugged. "If you wish it rather."

    I slid one of the Lhos into my mouth and lit it, drawing the smoke deep. "Yes, thanks, but now might I ask why you called me here?"

    "Ahh yes, my young friend," said Taryst as he suddenly got off of his seat and moved to another table, opening a drawer. "I have been studying into your records, your curriculum vitae."

    My eyes turned into suspicious slits. 'And how exactly did you get your hands on my "curriculum vitae"?'

    "I had a young friend of yours look into it for me; you know the one, the young friend under my employ, the young friend who you had secretly hired to look into my past for you."

    I winced. "Vex-"

    'Vex Carpompter' confirmed Taryst as he pulled out a data slate from the table's draw, "the ingenious young hacker. How very audacious of you, young Attelus, to try such a trick under my very nose. You would have gotten away with it as well, but for-."

    My jaw set yet again. "Reasons you will not divulge?" I finished.

    "Exactly!" he grinned. "You are smart young Attelus, too smart for your own good, it seems, using the very person who inspects the system to check the information."

    I was not sure what to do. Was Taryst going to kill me?

    Vex even had almost unlimited access to the cogitator systems of Taryst's whole corporation. Actually, I had forgotten entirely about my under the table agreement with the infamous hacker. It had seemed like such a small request and seemed even smaller after the pathetic results.

    "No, young Attelus, I am not going to kill you if that is what you are thinking," then his eyes turned into evil slits. "I was tempted to before, though. Very tempted."

    My brow furrowed; I was beginning to dislike where the hell this was going. "You were tempted to until you saw into my files, right?"

    "Answer me this young Attelus," said Taryst. "Did you act on the volition of your teacher or your own?"

    I hissed through my gritted teeth. I hesitated in my reply, seeing that my very life may depend on my next sentence, so I chose my words very carefully and told the truth.

    "No, Glaitis did not ask me to do it, not directly anyway; I was acting under her teachings."

    "And does she know of your attempt at espionage?"

    "Again, no, not that I know of anyway."

    Taryst smiled and fiddled his data slate with a large thumb. "I see young Attelus; your answers confirm what your records state. I can see that you are nothing like your ally, young Elandria; she is a blunt instrument; she knows very little besides how to kill people in a very gory, all be it, very pretty fashion. You, on the other hand, are a far more subtle instrument, infiltration, espionage, assassination in your very, very short career; you have done it all, have you not?"

    All I have done very well, I shrugged, trying very hard to sound nonchalant and keep the welling pride from my tone. "Yes and no, I have been on many missions but mostly the more menial stuff. I have done some infiltration, but most of what I know Glaitis has taught in the theoretical, not the practical."

    "She doesn't believe you ready yet?"

    "Yes," I answered, knowing I should not be divulging such information, but my instinct for self-preservation was overwhelming my instinct for keeping secrets. Also, Taryst probably knew this already. "I did not start my training of the 'finer arts' of the Assassin's trade until my employ into mamzel Glaitis' mercenaries."

    "I see; how about a test, young Attelus, the ultimate test to see if you are finally ready. I want to employ you."

    I raised an eyebrow; this I actually saw coming. "Tch! You want me to spy on Glaitis you?"

    Taryst raised his own eyebrow. "You seem surprised despite your forward guessing."

    I'm surprised that you're so damn predictable, I wisely refrained from saying.

    "Young Attelus, do you truly want the life of an assassin? One living always in the shadows? One of death and thanklessness? Or would you rather a life of meaning, a life of profit, a life of happiness? I can get you that, a way to escape, a way to get away."

    I glared up at Taryst. Was this coincidence? Just as I am beginning to doubt, Taryst here comes to me with this request and gives me such an incentive.

    I did not believe in coincidence.

    Also, I could not help remember my conversation with Glaitis' before, 'trust nothing, suspect everything.'

    Did she guess that Taryst would pull such a stunt? Or did she already know that he would?

    If either were the truth, there would be no way in hell I could hope to keep it a secret.

    Was it, again, potentially a coincidence?

    I genuinely hoped that it was.

    Taryst looked at me with an almost sympathetic expression. "I know what it was like to be your age, not to know who or what you are. It's hard young Attelus, take your time in your decision, but I have to ask that you make up your mind before you leave. Though my indecisiveness was of a completely different subject, the struggle is the same."

    I sighed. Could I betray her? The woman, who had saved my life, took me in, cared for me and taught me everything she knew—potentially destroying six years of hard work and struggle?

    It was for freedom. Which I was not sure would be worth it; this was a harsh universe. I was beginning to believe that the term 'freedom' was a word that could only use with irony, that it ever being literal of use, was forever lost.


    "Excuse me?" asked Taryst, seeming, almost bemused.

    "No, I can't do it, I-I just can't."

    "Why?" carried on Taryst, beginning to sound forceful.

    "I have my reasons," I said, sounding timider than intended, not expecting such a change in Taryst, he seemed almost childish, almost sulky.

    "No! I know why!" he snarled. "I have heard of how you act around her, like some little, pathetic, love-struck puppy! Can't you see that she is using you like some mindless pawn! Like a slave!"


    "You have two ears and are smart. Apparently, you know exactly what I said."

    "You- you think I am in love with her?"

    He just glared at me.

    I scoffed. "Don't be ridiculous! She's three times my age! And Like a mother to me, that -that's disgusting."

    He grinned. "To be honest, I don't blame you, young Attelus; I would be head over heels for her as well. If she was my type, of course, beautiful, intelligent, confident, deadly."

    "Sh-shut up!" I meant to snarl but rather whined, and I felt my face flush.

    He shook his head. "So, can't you see this is unhealthy? That it is all the more reason to do what I ask?"

    I swallowed. "I-I can't; I just can't, Taryst, do you know what you exactly ask? What the consequences will be if I'm found?"

    Taryst nodded. "I do, I researched your employer before I hired her services, and your death would be...Very painful indeed, but if you succeeded, the reward would be worth it!"


    "I would make you rich! And you could go back to your home planet, live an easy life of luxury and wealth. A life of freedom and meaning."

    I gritted my teeth. 'Trust nothing, suspect everything' the meaning of that motto was double-jointed, to say the frigging least, Glaitis I knew meant herself as well; she could in all truth never be trusted, ever.

    I knew why Taryst would ask me to spy on her. He was paranoid, psychotic, but from time to time, I could not help suspect that Glaitis had some hidden agenda that was far, far bigger than me, bigger than even Taryst's corporation.

    I could only hazard a guess how large that goal indeed was. I was some pawn in that plan, yet every time a strange, powerful feeling in me had made me deny it, some feeling that was foreign and strange to me.

    Was that feeling love?

    "Take your time, young Attelus," said Taryst, "it is a hard favour to ask; I understand completely."

    "No!" I stepped forward. "I have made up my mind!"


    And I answered without hesitation and with the truth. It felt good to be real, to be genuine for the first time, in a damn long time.

    I left Taryst's quarters, trying hard to mask my haste. On the way out, I had almost forgotten to retrieve my Lhos. Lucky for the guard, I didn't.

    I caught the elevator and twitched in impatience the whole ride down, tapping the tip of my boot on the floor.

    I had told Taryst, no.

    The rogue trader had taken the answer in due course and did not try to convince me otherwise again. Perhaps he had known that he could not change my mind, or he didn't care. The look in his eyes almost exclaimed the former, seemingly accusing me of foolishness and cowardice all at once.

    Perhaps I was a coward and a fool. But I was not about to risk my life for what could easily be a lie. There was no guarantee that Taryst would keep his end of the bargain; the odds would not at all be in my favour.

    Afterwards, I had tried to levy some information of Vex's fate from the Rogue Trader, but to no avail. Taryst was too smart to be coerced into slipping on his words.

    As much as I hated to admit it, I liked the little nerd; I did not wish to see him dead over such a trivial matter.

    Actually, why I was still alive was a wonder in itself. Taryst had more than enough reason for shooting me, just on the grounds of trying to infiltrate his systems and even more for flat out refusing his request. Letting me live would make sense if I found Vex dead; it would send the message: "do not cross me again, young Attelus or this will be your fate."

    It would indeed, I would not be crossing him ever again.

    Despite myself, I could not help smile my evil smile; the sentence went through my thoughts as a perfect recording of Taryst's voice, everything from tone to demeanour.

    When the elevator reached my intended level, I slipped out the sliding double doors and ran down the corridor, heading to the northern side of the building where Vex's office was. Nimbly I dodged and weaved my way through the many of Taryst's employees in the road.

    It took me only five minutes to reach the cogitator workers section. I had earlier learnt the layout of the lower floors (the ones I had access to anyway), The quickest way to get here or there, just in case.

    I fast-walked through the lines upon lines of cogitator banks, each having a thin, decrepit serf sitting, typing madly. The clicking sound turned into a crashing as thousands upon thousands of fingers pressed keys. The noise enveloped the entire two hundred by three hundred metre cavern in its near-deafening cacophony.

    I fought the need to cover my ears and started to approach the entrance to Vex's office.

    I paused near the door. I was cool, calm, my face set in determination; if Vex were dead in there, it would make little difference, just another death and one more did not matter in a galaxy this vast. It was not my fault; Vex had accepted the bribe; it was his fault for going through with it. If he were truly as smart as he claimed he was, he would have told me to shove it.

    But maybe it was my fault, how old was Vex? Fourteen? And if so, perhaps it was his youthful ignorance that had made him take the job, and then it would indeed be my fault.

    I sighed and reached for the door but again hesitated as I realised something that made my guts churn. I wasn't armed! Who was not to say that someone wasn't standing over poor Vex's corpse, a silenced gun trained at the doorway, waiting for me to enter? I glanced about. They would not need to silence the weapon; I doubted that even the roar of a bolter could be heard over that racket.

    "Oh, this is depressing, really!" I exclaimed in frustration, so loud that even a few of the nearer serfs looked up from their work and glared at me in disapproval.

    I grinned as an idea hit me.

    "Hey everybody! You know who is a damnable frig wipe!" I yelled even louder and with even more looks of anger. "Oh, come on! Can nobody can guess!"

    "Shut up!" said one as he got off his stool.

    "Shut up, huh?" I grinned at the man. "Huh! Shut up, really? He must be a really big frig wipe if he beats Taryst!"

    Now that got more attention, which was exactly what I was looking for, so I stepped through the door and found.

    Vex was standing alone, utterly unharmed, inspecting one of his many Cogitator units with an intense expression. His attention snapped to me as I intruded space and his eyes widened with surprise.

    "Hey, Attelus, I didn't- Gak!"


    The "Gak!" was him getting cut off mid-sentence by me, grabbing him by the collar of his tunic and the "bang!" me slamming his back against the wall.

    "Wh-what did I do?" he whined in his pitiful way, well as whiny and as pitiful as one could be when being suffocated. But Vex achieved it better than most would.

    "You little bastard! You frigging little bastard!" I snarled, accompanied by another violent slam. "You told them!"

    "I don't know what you are talking about," he gurgled back. "Told them, what?"

    My anger turned in on itself as I pulled him from the wall, spun him about and smashed him hard against the nearest Cogitator.

    "Were you born an idiot, or did you lose the brain cells along the damn way!" I snarled. "Our agreement, remember? The one where I paid you one thousand throne gelts, and you would check the systems to look into Taryst's past, remember? Remember!"

    Each 'remember' was accompanied by a violent shake, which threw around Vex's head like whiplash.

    Vex could only gurgle back, his face almost turning blue.

    I let off a little pressure, a little.

    "I don't know!" he hoarsely managed, and then tears started to well in his eyes. "An agreement that I look into the system? I don't remember it, by the Emperor, I swear! I swear!"

    Then the tears started to flow freely down his face. "I swear!"

    It was then when the realisation hit me. Then guilt followed, and I let go of Vex's collar. Still crying, the young hacker slumped onto the floor and curled up in a fetal ball, whimpering pitifully.

    I stumbled back; Vex's mind was messed with! His memories of the whole incident erased by some warp touched freak! I should have realised it, damn it! Taryst had psykers place the blocks on our minds! Of course, he would have them for other uses!

    And I had just strangled an innocent person who did not know why. Even if Vex had remembered our agreement, it would have been plucked from his memories without any knowledge.

    I cursed; this was all my idiocy, my fault. I should have remembered that Taryst had psykers, how stupid was I to forget-

    I cut myself short as my eyes widened in epiphany. But one reason why I had done it was because of the blocks! Vex had told me that they had done it to him as well! I was no expert on those warp-touched. Perhaps, with their knowledge of how they had placed, the block knew they could have bypassed it. That is, assuming Vex had even been blocked at all.

    I looked down at the whimpering and shuddering form. My brow furrowed heavily. I started to feel a potent and almost intoxicating mix of contempt and rage begin to well at the pit of my gut. How pathetic! I felt the overpowering urge to kick the kid while he was down.

    Teach him to toughen the hell up.

    Don't make this any worse than it is if Glaitis finds out, I thought, forcing down the rage, the contempt.

    Then I turned and stormed out the door, leaving the pathetic foetal form of Vex to writhe in its self-pity.

    It would also explain how Taryst knew I was having second thoughts.

    I was right; the damnable Rogue Trader had left me a warning and through Vex also! An even worse one than if I found him dead. I winced as the words echoed through my thoughts, "do not cross me again, young Attelus or that will be your fate."

    But this time, the ominously similar sounding voice of Taryst laughed.

    I sighed. I stood in my shower, the high pressured water crashing against my thin, pale, but solid body.

    My usually rigorous, daily training lasted five hours with a fifteen-minute break between each hour. It was disciplined and harsh like my father had taught me. It seemed my daily regime was the only thing I kept consistently disciplined.

    The schedule was; the first two hours were dedicated to swordsmanship, the next two on unarmed combat, and if I had the time, I went to Taryst's shooting range, spending the last hour practising firing drills, both Garrakson and Torris would almost always be there. So I would go to for the company as well.

    That was before poor Torris got maimed, of course.

    I winced as I remembered. Again I had forgotten to visit my comrade in arms at the medicae! That would be, what, the fifth day in a row? I couldn't even recall that either.

    Throne did my limbs ache! Today was certainly not the first, but hopefully, the last I would neglect my regime, not saying I didn't train; I did, but way too hard and had ignored to stretch before. After retreating from my crime scene, I retrieved my weapons from security and went straight home to my hab block. Immediately, my sword was out, and I was slashing the air in a blind and rusty rage. My years of training and discipline were thrown out the window. I barely lasted half an hour before I was gasping for breath and weak from exertion.

    But my anger was all but spent.

    I was an idiot, a complete and utter idiot! I had no excuse to beat up on Vex, even if he had willingly told, I should have seen his treachery coming and planned for it in advance. 'Trust nothing, suspect everything" those words could not ring any more accurate right now!

    No, I had to lose myself in my anger. I've had that problem ever since I was a child, something would happen that would anger me, and I would hurt people badly.

    'A blind rage' I heard it called once; I could not recall who had said it exactly.

    It was as if something had taken over me. I would lose control, and all I would do is hurt the one who had done me wrong, no matter what.

    My father had taught me how to control that side of myself and curb it if it occurred, and I had learned it well. But with Vex, I slipped and fallen into that abyss; that was the first time in a long time, going on six years now.

    That I did remember and that I remembered well.

    Poor Vex Carpompter, he did not deserve my wrath. All of my repressed anger from the last six months was almost taken out on the kid; he was lucky I didn't kill him.

    No, I thought. I was lucky that I didn't kill him.

    I shuddered at the thought, and the soothing feeling of the constant stream of hot water disappeared entirely as a horrible sensation of sickening guilt welled in my guts.

    Taryst was right! Sudden rage overtook me, and I punched the tiled wall. Blood intermingled with water, and pain erupted through my hand.

    I am a coward! A bully who takes out his anger on those weaker than him because he is too scared to take it out on those over him!

    That is the very definition of cowardice.

    Sighing, I turned off the faucet. I tried to ignore the agony of my left hand and my dullened, aching limbs. But I could not ignore that both were of my own volition, of my idiocy.

    It was quite depressing, really.

    I walked out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around my waist, my face foul.

    I caught a glimpse of the form standing in my room, and that was all I needed to see. In the blink of an eye, I snatched up a nearby knife, about to let it fly.

    But I stopped mid-movement and felt my face flush as I saw that the form was Elandria, who was also aiming an Auto pistol at me.

    "Drop it," she said.

    I immediately did as told.

    "Now kick it over to me."

    I looked at her with hooded eyes; I had bare feet damn it! But gingerly, I kicked the knife to her, which bounced and rolled over the carpet.

    "Mistress Glaitis wishes to speak to you," she informed in her emotionless voice. Her mask was off so that I could see her just as emotionless, pale, attractive heart-shaped face. The gun still pointed at me.

    My embarrassment disappeared as my eyes widened in fear. My palms were suddenly wet with sweat. I had guessed that my teacher would want to talk to me, but I was not at all prepared for it.

    "J-just let me get changed," I stammered as I scrambled to gather some clothes from that of the many that lay about and could not help be embarrassed at the messy state of my living quarters.

    "You have three minutes," she stated.

    "Okay, but, uhm, can I, uhm, have some privacy, please?"


    I sighed, then the sudden and impatient twitch of the Auto pistol made me jump and search all the faster. She had me, hook line and sinker, or for want of better cliché, I was caught out in the cold. Never in my life had I felt so exposed, that was why Elandria was a real assassin, and I was not. Though she lacked my training of deception and espionage, she knew how to catch those at their most vulnerable, and she certainly had succeeded with me.

    Though, I could not help but wonder what would happen if I had actually thrown the knife? I may have got her; she had not reacted to me until a full second after I had stopped the throw.

    If it were anyone else besides her and Glaitis, I would have let it fly without hesitation. Perhaps that was why Glaitis had sent Elandria; she knew I had a weakness for the fairer sex, a weakness that she could exploit, a weakness I needed to eliminate.

    It took me two minutes to hurriedly slip on my clothes from the floor, smelling, day-old tunic. I had tried hard to hide as I put it on and had succeeded with admirable grace.

    I nodded to Elandria and walked out the door, but she followed me down the apartment building's corridor.

    "Where are you going?" I asked over my shoulder.

    "With you."

    My jaw set. "To escort me, right?"


    Barely, I kept the fear from my face; if Glaitis had Elandria guard me, the master assassin was meaning business.

    I swallowed, really meaning business.

    It took us twenty long minutes to arrive back at Glaitis' base of operations, and all the way, I had Elandria holding her auto pistol in my back. Every single step made me dread more and more whatever Glaitis had in store for me. I struggled to hide the fear even with my back to her. The stress of suspense was almost overwhelming as my heart thudded in my chest. I had never bothered to try garner any information from Elandria, knowing full well it was futile. I doubted that Glaitis would have told her anything, and everything I tried to say to Elandria she answered with mindless monosyllables. For her, it was not entirely out of character, but it was doing nothing to help my nerves.

    We rode the elevator up to Glaitis' office. Taryst had given the master assassin the top floor of one of the rogue traders many separate buildings surrounding his main tower. Naturally, she is the leader of a very professional and well-off company of mercenaries; she only got the best for her living quarters.

    The elevator arrived, and the doors slid open. Immediately I was prompted out with a shove of Elandria's pistol. My teeth on edge, I hesitantly complied, and we entered into the foyer beyond. It was no more than six metres wide, a corridor. At each side and lining the stark white walls were long, black leather couches, and our boots echoed over the polished back marble tiles. The contrast between hers and Taryst's quarters could not have been much more apparent.

    Glaitis never kept any guards, which showed her arrogance in her abilities and arrogance that entirely justified. She has survived for this long, and I have seen her skills first hand, and they are quite breathtaking. I gritted my teeth as Taryst's words echoed through my thoughts. I was not in love with Glaitis! And he was a fool for ever thinking so.

    A woman sat at the end of one of the couches, her smooth, long legs crossed together as she reclined back. Her high boned, youthful and attractive heart-shaped face was on the profile as her large eyes studied a data slate intently. Her long, violet coloured hair was pulled back into a ponytail and relief washed over me as I saw who she was.

    Castella Lethe didn't look up as Elandria, and I approached her, "tsk, tsk Attelus, what have you done now?" she sighed with a smile as she bounced her crossed leg.

    Despite my anxiety, I could not help but grin. I liked Castella; she was always charismatic, always friendly, and she had a fun, dry sense of humour I could appreciate. If any woman I would be accused of being in love with, I rather her than Glaitis. She was also confirmed to be Glaitis' successor if ever the master fell, and I agreed. Castella was an excellent choice; she was extremely extroverted, confident and held almost everyone's respect in the company. Except for Elandria, who seemed to despise Castella for the reason that I could not or cared not enough to comprehend.

    "Completed yet another assignment, I see," I said, trying to slow my advance, but Elandria was intent on not letting me.

    Castella snorted. "Of course, Attelus, would I be here if I hadn't?"

    I shrugged. "Goes, without doubt, Castella. I was actually making sure that you were not some fear-induced mirage."

    "Wow, Attelus. If you are that scared, shall I say a little prayer for you?"

    I frowned and furrowed my brow. "I was actually hoping for a more proactive form of help."

    She shrugged, pouting her full lips. "What could be any more proactive than the divine intervention of the Emperor of Mankind himself? Ohh, wait, you don't believe in that thing, do you? Oh well, never mind, you're screwed then. Bye!"

    Before I could make a coherent reply, I got shoved through the glass double doors, and I could not help wonder. Why the hell she was just sitting out there?

    This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2021/04/15 21:25:43

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    As before, Glaitis sat at her desk. Reclining her long, lithe form back in her leather chair, feet planted on her desk. She looked positively relaxed, but her piercing blue-eyed glare said otherwise, and I had to fight to keep myself from wincing under its intensity.

    My breath caught in my throat as I saw her, and my heart sped. She was, she was-.

    Then my jaw set. Taryst was right! Glaitis must know; she must've used it to manipulate me! Why had no one in the company ever mention it?

    Glaitis would have ordered them not to, of course. My fear replaced by giddying disgust, and I found myself reconsidered my decision on Taryst's proposition.

    "Mamzel Glaitis, here he is, as ordered," said Elandria behind me, her smooth, soft voice flowed like silk. But the pistol never relented in sticking in my back.

    "I can see that, thank you, Elandria," said Glaitis. "Good work."

    I glanced over my shoulder as the pistol finally let off. Glimpsing the young assassin bow slightly- likely she had never noticed Glaitis sarcastic tone and turned to leave.

    "Stay, Elandria," ordered Glaitis as she sat forward, leant her shoulder on her desk and cupped her smooth jaw in the palm of her hand. "I have a task for you which I will tell once I deal with him."

    "As you order," said Elandria.

    Then Glaitis turned her glare on me, and I met it, although it took all my willpower to keep from flinching.

    "Why did you do it?" she asked bluntly, and despite myself, I flinched. I had expected her to fly straight into a rage-fuelled lecture, saying things like: 'you have disgraced our company!' Or 'your idiocy could have cost us our reputation!'

    I hesitated; no matter how hard I tried, Glaitis always outwitted me; it was infuriating. In all my years under her tutelage, I could never predict what she would say or do.

    "She asked you a question, worm! Hurry and answer!" I flinched at the sudden words that erupted behind me, and even Elandria started in surprise.

    I clenched my teeth, recognising whom the voice belonged to and turned to see Darrance approaching. He was one of Glaitis most senior employees and a right bastard, the true epitome of arrogance and snide superiority. I knew nothing of where he came from, but I could hazard a guess, and my guess was this: he was some son of some member of the Imperial Hierarchy who had squandered and spoilt Darrance and thus creating this monster. How and why Darrance became an assassin was beyond me; perhaps the governor got sick of his creation and threw him out into the cold.

    Despite my dislike for the ponce, I could not deny his skill. Neither Elandria nor I had any idea he was in the room until he chose to reveal himself.

    My jaw set as I turned back to Glaitis; this just emphasised how much I had to learn.

    "Yes, young Attelus. I did indeed ask you a question," said Glaitis, an evil smirk curling her full lips. "Has a feline stolen your tongue, by chance?"

    I could think of a no more fitting cliché at that moment.

    "Hey, Darrance," I managed through clenched teeth, but I kept my attention fixated on Glaitis. "I see you have returned from your assignment as well, and so I assume it was a success, then?"

    "I am not here to waste time tarrying words with a fool like you!" snarled Darrance. "Mamzel Glaitis asked you a question, and you will answer, or so Emperor help me I will-!"

    "Darrance," interrupted Glaitis; her eyes were attached to my own and her voice soft but the warning in it evident, but I could detect slight amusement in the words and her eyes. What did she find so entertaining? My audacity of taunting Darrance, who was three decades my senior and who could potentially beat me in a fight with his eyes closed and one arm tied behind his back? Or perhaps the sheer idiocy. Either way, I was making progress.

    The senior assassin said no more.

    "Now, child, please would you finally deign to answer my question? Why indeed did you beat up on poor little Vor?"

    "I believe it is pronounced, Vax, mamzel," corrected Darrance timidly.

    "Oh, yes. Sorry. Indeed it is; why did you beat up poor little Vax?"

    "Vex," I corrected gruffly.

    "Sorry, young one?" she asked.

    "Vex! His name is Vex," I said impatiently, so she cared so much about the poor kid that she would forget his name.

    No, I corrected. Glaitis' memory was almost photographic. No way in hell she forgot, especially when she was only informed a few short hours ago. She was testing me again.

    I glanced sidelong at Elandria; my fellow squad member must have informed Glaitis of my meeting with Taryst and Glaitis. Glaitis must be testing to see if I had betrayed her.

    "Hmm, indeed," said Glaitis as she sat back, tapping her perfect nose with an index finger. "I know you, young Attelus. To all but the most educated, you seem...chaotic, strange, random. But you really are not; there is some method to your madness, some surprisingly sane reasoning as to why. Funnily enough, nothing like your father, who was always as straight and narrow as anyone can get. That is a trait I can admire, one that would help you if you ever meet the requirement of making you a full-fledged assassin...That is if you live that long, of course, but for me, it makes you predictable."

    I smiled; now I knew the game, so I could play, but decided I could not tell her. If I confirmed her of Taryst's proposition, it would take away any potential leeway I may have in the future, and so, I followed one of her many teachings, "the best way to lie is to tell the truth."

    After hissing out through clenched teeth and I said, "the little bastard told."

    "Told? The little bastard told whom? And of what! Answer straight, young one! I begin to tire of your meandering!" Glaitis snapped, making everyone but me flinch in fright.

    "I had made an agreement with Vex a few weeks ago. I paid him to search the systems for more detailed information into Taryst's past. Just in case, but came up with nil for anything of any use. Taryst hides his tracks very, very well."

    "And so you were stupid enough to be surprised when this young hacker betrayed you? So you strangled him right in his very office? Right were dozens of witnesses could see you do it?"

    "Pretty much," I said, trying hard to keep my cool and to keep any remorse from my voice. "I let my anger overcome me. I was idiotic, stupid and foolish. I make no excuses and am ready to face my punishment, mamzel."

    "Punishment, young one?" sighed Glaitis, and she could not hide her rising ire in her voice. "Believe me, Attelus Xanthis Kaltos, you will face punishment. But for now, you escape it; we have far more important matters to attend to."

    "What!" both Darrance and Elandria exclaimed together incredulously, and I could not help but smile. This I had actually seen coming. Both Darrance and Castella just suddenly being here, Glaitis earlier saying that she had a "task" for Elandria. I had gambled on this and had won, and I could not help but wonder if Glaitis knew this, and that was why she was so flustered—knowing the game, indeed.

    "Quiet, both of you!" she roared. "I like this no more than you do! We have this task, and we are to act before Taryst can know, and we need all of us to do it!"

    I grinned and asked, "and what is 'it' that we have mamzel Glaitis?"

    Glaitis eyes narrowed. "Information 'it' is, child. Information on the whereabouts of this 'Brutis Bones.' The man that Taryst seems so desperate to hunt down."

    Elandria and I sat in silence in the back seat of the old Hesuitor 89. We watched as the hive outside drove by. It was midnight, but the lighting of the hive conquered the darkness in a blazing haze of artificial day, and the hustle and bustle of traffic had not abated.

    A hive city like Omnartus never slept. Imperial bureaucracy was everything. It was more important to the survival of mankind than the Magistratum, the Ecclesiarchy, the Adeptus Arbites, the Imperial Guard or even the Adeptus Astartes. Everything rode upon its ever-turning cogs. As long as Omnartus lived, millions upon millions of serfs would sit and type upon their cogitators, every second of every day, monitoring countless upon countless lines of information.

    It hurt my mind that more counted on them than those who fought for the Imperium than those who gave their lives in the war. They say that they fight for their Emperor, but in all honesty, it is so this organised chaos can survive.
    To say it was quite depressing really was the understatement of the millennia and many more millennia to come.

    I could only thank goodness that I wasn't one of them.

    Besides the countless bureaucrats coming and going from their daily drudgery, Many were party goers, wishing to temporarily alleviate their boring lives with a foray into the nightlife. We were driving through Omnartus' night district and at its peak. I wore a high-quality silken suit with a white shirt, black blazer and black pants. Castella had told me it was the latest in men's fashion, and yes, I had noticed many in similar attire along the way.

    Elandria sat next to me and was stunning. Her black hair was tied back, revealing her beautiful high cheekbones. Somehow, her pouting in anger made her even more appealing. Also, she was wearing make-up—a first for her since I had met her six months ago.

    I sighed, placed my elbows on my thighs, intertwining my fingers together and began to relay for the umpteenth time, Glaitis' plan.

    After the master assassin's revelation, immediately Castella burst into the room, grinning almost from ear to ear.

    "Ah yes indeed, information retrieved by yours truly, of course!" said Castella, with an exaggerated bow. "You can all thank me later if you like."

    Initially, Castella's entrance took me back, but sudden revelation replaced this, and I turned to Glaitis.

    "So I see that you have been doing your own extracurricular investigating while under Taryst's employ, master?" I said.

    Glaitis grinned. "Why, of course, my young apprentice," then she looked to Castella. "And do not take all the credit for yourself. Do not forget that Hayden had as much of a hand in it as you did."

    Castella hunched forward with an animated pout. "Pah! Details!" Then she grinned slyly. "And now I'm betting that you are wondering how I knew what you were saying, right?"

    "No," said Elandria. "We can all see your earpiece quite clearly."

    Castella grimaced another extremely animated expression that made me smile.

    "Pah! Details!" she repeated.

    "All right enough of your clowning," sighed Glaitis, but I could hear the amusement in the master assassin's voice. "Now we move onto business."

    "We have located through much investigation the possible location of Brutis Bones," Glaitis said. "His all evidence points toward a bar in the night district of the hive as his base of operations. It is highly popular for the locals; it is named "The Twilight bar."

    Castella let out a derivative snort which made me smile all the broader; I could not have agreed any more. "The more I hear that name, the cheesier it sounds," said Castella.

    "Yes, I know," sighed Glaitis. "But the bar provides an almost perfect cover for the gang leader; it is high class, quite sophisticated and-."

    "And so it wouldn't be believed by anyone looking because it would be too obvious", I cut in. "What do they call that? That's right, a refuge in audacity."

    "Indeed, young one," said Glaitis. "Taryst being the utter genius he is, had left that area for last in his investigation as you and Elandria may know."

    "Yes," said my squadmate, and to my surprise, I could detect an undercurrent of annoyance in the young woman's voice. Elandria did not like being left out of the loop. In all honesty, neither did, but I could hide it, and by then, I was used to it.

    Glaitis could also tell Elandria's dislike, emphasised by the master assassin's patronising glare.

    Glaitis moved on. "Thanks to Hayden Tresch's hacking ability. We were able to get a full layout of the plans for the bar." Glaitis pulled out a control wand, and with a flick of her wrist, the lights died, and a giant, sophisticated hologram sprang out from the middle of her desk.

    "It is located on the far North-West end of the night district's main street, the Dawn of Ages Boulevard. As you can see, there are three entrances, the main being on the southeast from the Dawn of Ages Boulevard. One is placed on the northern side and the other on the south; all are guarded constantly and all watched by surveillance cameras. The security is very tight indeed as befitting such a leader."

    I shrugged. "But I'm guessing no tighter than any other club in the district, so they don't draw suspicion."

    "Indeed, and also, it is no match for us at all," said Glaitis. "Here is my plan, Elandria; both you and Attelus, both of you dressed satisfactorily for the occasion, will enter into the bar via the front entrance, posing as legitimate patrons. As a dating couple, of course."

    Beside me, Elandria stiffened in obvious distaste, which made me more upset than I cared to admit.

    "But, mistress," I said. "If you send in Elandria and myself...with our activities, together with over the last six months, the odds of them knowing our faces would be higher than if you sent in Castella or anyone else."

    Glaistis smiled. "Of course, and that is what I gamble upon that viewing your entrance into the bar will spike up the suspicions of the ones running it. They will not turn you and Elandria away for fear of spiking your own suspicions. I believe that you two will be very, very closely monitored indeed."

    My jaw set. "So we are the distraction, then?"

    "Never miss a beat then, do we, child?" she said. "But that beat was about as subtle as an explosion. Yes, you and Elandria are the distraction once inside; I want you both to-."

    "Start a bar brawl?"

    Glaitis frowned. "Yes, child. Start a bar brawl, and we need a big one, indeed. One that will distract the vast majority of the moody hammers acting as bouncers so both-."

    "Darrance and Castella can slip in unnoticed and plant bugs in the bar? But why not just have us plant them? It would be easier."

    "Actually, child. I was going to say that Darrance and Tresch do it. While what you say is true, what we are not sure of is the surveillance in the bar. It is well hidden. But what we do know is two elite assassins in syn-skin body gloves will move unseen; we just need you to distract the hammers for long enough to do it. Also, we don't want them just placed in the bar itself but in the back rooms, too. Otherwise, it would be just pointless, wouldn't it?"

    I shrugged; it made sense. But why was Glaitis doing this? I knew Glaitis, and she would only move if this information were one hundred per cent confirmed. She never did anything halfway. I suspected she wanted to plant these bugs to find the reason why Taryst was so desperate to find Brutis Bones, but there had to be more.

    I set my jaw.

    "So, there is the plan," said Glaitis. "Whether you take it or leave, it is immaterial we are doing it. I have a transport readied for you both in the parks and suitable clothing. After, of course, you take a shower, Attelus! You smell like you haven't washed in days! Dismissed. And Castella, make sure that you go over the details with the lovely couple for me."

    "As ordered, mamzel," said Castella with a bow, and I frowned in annoyance as we all turned for the door.

    "Oh and, young one," called Glaitis at my back, making me freeze. "Do not for a second believe that you are off the proverbial hook. You will face your consequences one way or another, and you will keep that in mind, understood?"

    I swallowed noisily, "y-yes, mamzel."

    "Oh, and young one, stop interrupting me mid-sentence; you are not doing yourself any favours."

    "Y-yes, mamzel."

    "Good, now leave before I make you leave."

    I did as ordered and quite hurriedly indeed.

    "We are here," growled a voice knocking me from my reverie. Darrance glared over the driver's seat at me as the car was coming to a stop. The senior assassin's face foul.

    I grinned. "Yes, thank you, good driver," I said in my best up hive accent. "We must really be getting to the party chant us, dear?"

    It was Elandria's turn to glare at me. "What are you doing?"

    "Why getting into character, my dear."

    "Well, if you call me 'dear' one more time, you will find yourself sorely lacking a head."

    I grinned even wider. "Well, good luck with that endeavour, my dear. Since you lack the proper appliances to pull through with said threat."

    Elandria started in remembrance. Both of us were unarmed so that we could go through the bar's detectors. Then she smiled. "I have not tried it with my bare hands yet, 'dear.' But then there is always a first time for everything. Isn't there?"

    "Shut up, you two and get moving!" snarled Darrance. "I have yet to get into position, and I will not have this mission ruined by your unresolved sexual tension!"

    I flinched in embarrassment and moved quickly, opening my door of the old limousine, swiftly got out, walked around and like a gentleman of old, opened the door for my 'date.' All the while; I fought the urge to cover my eyes from the blaring lights.

    Elandria clumsily climbed out, she was still unused to wearing Stilettos, and I frowned as I wondered if it was wise sending her instead of Castella. I offered her my hand, which she reluctantly took.

    Gently pulling her out, I placed my arm over her shoulders, pulling her close and steadying her walk as we moved down the street. Almost immediately, the old Hesuitor violently drove off, leaving a cloud of exhaust in its wake.

    "W-What are you doing?" she said, though only slightly struggling.

    "Making sure that you don't fall on your face, my dear," I answered and then cried out theatrically and so loud that many a passing pedestrian look my way in bemusement: "Oh Emperor forbid! That my lovely date would slip and break her nose on our very first engagement, I would never hear the end of it from father! Oh, Emperor forbid!"

    "Lovely?" she said wide-eyed, and we started to approach the bar.

    When I saw the long line of potential patrons waiting for entrance into the Twilight bar, I barely stifled a curse. I hated waiting in lines; it was my anathema. Well, one on a long list with many more.

    I sighed. Then Elandria, my arm still over her shoulders, glared at me.

    "What's wrong now?" she growled.

    "Nothing, nothing," I said lightly. "I am just so entranced by your-."

    "Shut it!" she snarled. "Your 'character' is even more annoying than you are."

    I smiled patiently. Elandria's constant grumpiness was beginning to get on my nerves. "May I ask you a question, my dear?"

    "No," she pouted, "but I know you will, anyway."

    I grinned. "Now that you have said that, I will. Have you ever done undercover operations like this? You have always sat out our earlier missions as reserved reinforcement."


    I frowned; it was evident from the start that Elandria's skill set seemed more militaristic than the other assassins of our organisation. Seemingly the cult that trained her neglected to teach the complexities of civilian infiltration in favour of the battlefield and stealth specialisation. Hence why she could barely place one foot in front of the other while wearing high heels or act like a high-class hive citizen for more than three seconds.

    I sighed. "I guess that answers a few questions, yes. But could you, at least try, to be in character when we line up?"

    "But I thought we were to make them suspect us as being undercover?"

    My jaw set. Why was she so insistent on antagonising me so? Actually, I suspected she wasn't doing it on purpose at all.

    "That is true, but it does not mean we can't be professional. We are gambling on them knowing our faces, and even if they don't, the fight we start will hopefully suffice for the distraction even without the extra attention. Perhaps acting convincingly may cement any suspicion of our position in Taryst's private investigatory force."

    "Whatever," was her reply, causing my anger to rise, but before I could reply, we arrived at the end of the line. It was depressingly long. I did a quick headcount of the crowd of young, ostentatiously dressed pretty people and found that approximately sixty locals in total waited for the huge hammer acting as the bouncer to let them in.

    Inside the bar, the music blared, and the boom of the bass line tingled my teeth.

    Despite it being called a 'bar', the Twilight Bar resembled a club first and foremost. Prior booking was a must to gain access, and thanks to Hayden Tresch's hacking expertise, we were on the list. Under aliases, of course.

    That made me wonder, how long had mamzel Glaitis actually known about this club and its connection to Brutis Bones? Just judging at how long this line is alone that a booking needed to be at least a week prior to guarantee entrance.

    Perhaps Tresch had not hacked into the system at all? Perhaps they had made the booking legitimately? But if that was the case, why act now?

    I could hazard a myriad amount of guesses. But the most obvious was, once again, that Glaitis was testing me, and whether it was a test of my abilities or if I betrayed her was another question, entirely.

    Or perhaps, I just needed to get it through my thick head that the universe didn't revolve around me and my idiocy.

    "Attelus Kaltos, stop it," Elandria's voice abruptly ended my revere. "Stop leaning on me."

    With a start, I let off my weight, feeling my face flush in embarrassment. "S-sorry about that."

    "Lost in your little world once more were we, dear?" she said with a contemptuous sneer that seemed to exclaim my idiocy and hypocrisy at once.

    The corner of my mouth twitched. I needed to learn to keep myself from being lost in my thoughts. I shrugged.

    "Oh, I do apologise, my dear, oh how my idiocy knows no bounds, please forgive me! Please do!"

    Elandria gritted her teeth then turned away. I grinned, which made her shut up, and again, I took another comprehensive look across the crowd.

    I flinched midway through as I saw through the crowd two young, gorgeous women eyeing me with enthusiastically flirtatious gazes.

    I felt my face turn bright red. Then tore my attention away, up toward the three surveillance cameras watching us from above. Castella had informed me of their positions during her in-depth briefing earlier, but I wanted to see for myself. Just in case.

    When I looked back, the two women were still looking at me luridly. I tried to avoid their eyes by looking down at my wrist Chron. In all my research into Omnartus' culture, I could not recall reading about the local women being so obvious about their attraction despite the guy of interest having another woman already under his arm. Perhaps they had a sixth sense? They could just tell by instinct that Elandria and I were not a real couple?

    I looked sidelong at Elandria, who still had her attention away. My jaw set, or perhaps she was just making it so frigging obvious it wasn't funny.

    I sighed and reached into my pocket for my lhos. It had been a while since my last smoke, and the cravings were getting to me.

    I lit the Lho clenched in my teeth, using the activity to try averting my attention from the two women, who were still looking even now. The line then finally made a step forward, and I began to tap the tip of my shoe on the rockcrete sidewalk.

    I am not a partier; I am an assassin who kills people for a living. And being the dangerous job it is and that I would quite like to live past my twenties, I spend every waking hour for training. Making sure I have the necessary skills to live to see the next day.

    The line was speeding up. Already, we had made another step. I glanced over my shoulder and, to no surprise, saw that five more had lined up behind us, and as I did this, I accidentally caught the eyes of another young woman.

    I flinched, turned and sighed, hunching animatedly; then Elandria looked to me.

    "You're strange," she said.

    I looked at her sidelong, exhaled smoke and slipped my ceramic Lho casing back into my pocket. I was used to Elandria's extreme lack of subtlety, but it took a hell of a long time to acclimatise to.

    "Yeah, well. Tell me something I don't know."

    "There are many things I do not understand, like how, after so long training in martial arts and weaponry that your posture could still be so terrible."

    I immediately straightened; Elandria had a point. If I were to act as an upper-class hive citizen, I had to stand like an upper-class hive citizen who were stereotypically straight-backed and refined. Both traits I sorely lacked. Perhaps that was the real reason those two young women were looking at me so intently, they must find my bad posture entertaining, and at that, I inwardly cursed. That had to be it; no other reason could explain it.

    "There, is that better?" I growled.

    "Now you are just overdoing it."

    I sighed and went back to being hunched again.

    This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2021/04/15 21:24:17

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    According to my wrist chron, the wait in the line lasted only fifteen minutes, but for me, it felt like a whole frigging hour. Did I say I hated waiting in lines? I did? Good, so now it's doubly emphasised.

    When we stood in between slight steps, I tapped the tip of my shoe on the rockcrete and the whole way; I smoked Lho as my attention darted around like quicksilver. About halfway through the line, Elandria hissed at me, "really could you stand still for more than three seconds?"

    I blew out smoke and replied simplistically, "no."

    She kept quiet after that; perhaps Elandria was smarter than I gave her credit for perhaps she was aware it was an intended ironic echo of her catchphrase, and then I made a mental note that I should make use of her 'whatever' more often.

    Once we had finally made it to the end of the line, I whispered in Elandria's ear, "let me do the talking."

    "Whatever," she hissed back. "Just be careful not to knock out the Moody Hammer with one of your nervous twitches."

    I pursed my lips; that actually wasn't a bad idea. I had yet to come up with a decent plan for starting this brawl. Just looking over the line alone, I decided that this task would be easier said than done; sure, I could easily pick a fight with one patron, but initialising the needed chaos would be a challenge. The majority of the patrons were upper-class dandies who I doubted had ever taken part in a full-on bar brawl in their pampered lives. If it was a lower hive bar, well enough said, really.

    We approached the colossal Hammer standing at the door, that despite his low browed, vat-grown, square-jawed appearance, a lot of his kind has his hooded, beady eyes gleaned a slight modicum of intelligence. He wore a suit not dissimilar to my own, and he held a data slate in his vast, meaty paw. I quickly noted the large, black tattoo on his neck, which showed he belonged to the "Greasers", a local gang who was one of the first our intelligence had reported being reeled into Brutis Bone's little alliance. The holstered laspistol barely was hidden under his blazer, the microbead in his ear and not just that but two more huge hammers standing inside the shadowy entrance to the club.

    The Hammer smiled a surprisingly welcoming, toothy smile and gave us both friendly nods. "Sir, Mamzel, may I ask that you state your names, please."

    "Indeed," I said, I may have put on a hammy performance earlier for Elandria's sake, but as Glaitis taught me, the true art in undercover acting is subtlety. To not get carried away and not let stereotypes rule your mindset, but that is, of course, unless the role calls for it, "I am Autius Davian-Meggs, and this lovely young woman is Riculia Harviad."

    As I said this, the Hammer scrolled down his data slate. "...Sir Autius Davian-Meggs and mamzel Riculia Harviad, you are indeed on the list. Welcome to the Twilight bar, and may you enjoy your time here."

    "Thank you, and we will," I smirked slightly as Elandria and I turned into the club. I was not surprised at the doorman's professionalism and politeness; it would be a given for a club this high up and well known, but the colleagues in the entranceway did not share the doorman's friendliness. I could feel them glare at us, suspicious and unyielding with bulky arms folded in an 'intimidating' fashion.

    I pretended to ignore them, assuming they wouldn't treat their regular customers in such fashion or else their 'bar' would have closed down a long time ago. The evidence so far pointed to this being more and more a Brutis Bones operation.

    This could also prove that our rival organisation knows our faces at least.

    I glanced over my shoulder at the doorman and saw him talking intently, his index finger placed against the microbead in his ear.

    We followed through the three-metre-wide corridor; the hologram planning had proven right; the hallway curled subtly to the northwest. The steel walls dulled down into a dark crimson, metallic sheen, and the walls trembled in time with the bass line. The way the building little advanced is that the main entrance's corridor split the club in half, starting from the southeast and ending in the northern corner. According to the information gathered: the west side of the building was the private area for the VIPs and the east general club and bar.

    "So? Do you have any kind of plan yet?" Elandria hissed right in my ear, her soft voice causing me to start slightly from my thoughts.

    "Some semblance..." I said, twisting my pinkie finger in my ear.

    "Which means nothing?"

    "No, it means what it means 'some semblance,' I'll think of something, I'm...Adaptable."

    "Adaptable? Is that what you are calling it now?"

    Before I could make a reply, my pocket vibrated, and swiftly I reached in and slid the small listening device in my ear.

    "We're in," I said, though I knew that they would already know.

    "Good work," Castella's voice came from the tiny speaker. "Where are you now?"

    "Still in the corridor, not yet through the second security station, the one with the metal detectors," I said. "I find this place very interesting this is, very...Pretentious I can almost smell the pretentiousness in the air."

    I heard Castella giggle on the other side. "What do you expect when it's called the Twilight Bar?"

    "Well, I expected that the main corridor would be darker and be more of a reference to its namesake; perhaps the building itself hates what it's called so much, so somehow, through sheer force of will, rejected it."

    Again Castella laughed. "Alright, alright, you know the drill; you have four of these devices; make sure you drop one in this corridor and another at the second station on your way in the other two; keep with you and Elandria so we can communicate with you inside."

    "Yes, we know, we know, didn't you just say that I knew the drill yourself?"

    "I did, but as you know, one can never be too careful, you know, just in case, good luck and may the god-Emperor's virtue be with you."

    Then she cut the link.

    I immediately halted, slipped off of Elandria, and pulled one of the listening devices out from my pocket. I took off the back adhesive and stuck it against the wall. The advanced, little piece of tech immediately camouflaged itself in the wall's colour, texture all but invisible to the naked eye.

    "One down and just one to go," I said, standing back to full height and offering my arm back to Elandria. "May we move, my dear?"

    Elandria begrudgingly took it and growled, "if you call me 'my dear' one more time-"

    I sighed. "Yes, I know, I know I will be sorely lacking my head, I know."

    We walked through the detectors without consequence; the listening devices were made from a rare and expensive Plasteek that was all but invisible to most scanners.

    The two huge hammers posted at the checkpoint were just as affable as their colleague at the door. With the combination of my quick hands and the aide of Elandria, I successfully placed the listening device at the checkpoint. When we entered into the club itself, dozens upon dozens of dancers jumped and leapt to the music, a massive orgy of activity that seemed to move like white caps on the sea, rising and falling, rising and falling. It was almost entirely dark. The only light source lasers beaming down onto the countless cavorters, projecting patterns, and numerous different patterns changing from flowers to even the Imperial Aquila. It was quite an amazing sight to behold.

    Quickly I changed my tact, glancing over the crowd, my brow hooded in concentration and noticed three more gangers straddled through the people, each eyeing both Elandria and me with distinct suspicion, and I barely held back a sigh. I knew they were low-hive gangers; I knew that they were muscle, but they wouldn't know subtlety if hit over the head with 'A Guide to Infiltration and Espionage.' Though it is an utterly terrible and pretentious book which the author (whose name I cannot recall) he blatantly did not do the research, it would help these idiots' skills in that field by leaps and bounds. That wasn't saying much, of course.

    Then it hit me, it frigging hit me, and the realisation caused me to sigh and place my face into the palm of my hand if these gangers were this pathetic and it has taken this long for Taryst's 'elite' to find this place.

    I didn't want to begin to think about it; it was depressing, just damned depressing.

    But, actually, perhaps that was it. This 'bar's' security was so stupid and sloppy that it wouldn't stick out from the rest of its ilk, or was I just over analysing it?

    I didn't know, and I didn't care anymore.

    "What the hell is wrong with you now?" demanded Elandria; her raised voice heard barely over the music, but I could listen to her well, her words enhanced by the bud in her ear.

    "I hate my job," I groaned, my voice muffled into my hand.


    I dropped my arm back to my side and said instead. "These guys are complete idiots."

    Elandria smirked. "Please, do tell me something I don't know," she said, "I see three Hammers in the crowd, two armed with laspistols, one with a high calibre auto pistol all in torso holsters, right?"

    "Hmmm, interesting," I said.


    I gestured with a lazy hand; a small indistinct movement aimed toward the Hammer with the autopistol.

    "See? His pupils are dilated, and even in this terrible light, it is obvious his skin is a shade lighter than his norm, that Hammer is scared, very scared."

    "Scared of what?" asked Elandria, then a big, evil grin spread across her symmetrical face. "Scared of us?"

    I shrugged. "Hmm, perhaps, that seems logical. He may be a survivor, a survivor of one of our many skirmishes against Brutis Bones' organisation over the past months he may even be the one which they had learnt our identities from."

    Elandria grimaced in utter disgust. "A survivor! We were thorough! We let none escape!"

    "See! It is that exact attitude that would have allowed for his escape in the first place, but this we can turn toward our favour, though it also looks like we will have to reevaluate our plans."


    "Because we will both die if we don't. If we make one wrong step, even try slightly to start a fight, he will shoot us; he's as twitchy as a frigging Obscura addict on withdrawal."

    "Even shoot through a crowd of civilians?" she smirked.

    I sniffed and glared at her sidelong, I knew she was ruthless, but I was hoping that there would be some line for Elandria.

    "Perhaps, but that is one risk I am unable to take; at first, this was to be innocent fisticuffs against other club-goers, but if we are to do anything, we will have to take care of that Hammer first."

    "Kill him?"

    I grimaced. "If it comes to that but-"

    Suddenly the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, and a cold shiver slid down my spine. The air temperature dropped dramatically, and the once enthusiastic crowd halted its partying as everyone shook in instinctive terror.

    I had felt this before, and I knew what it was.

    Elandria turned to me, her eyes white with animalistic fear. "Psyker!"

    My earpiece suddenly came to life, and Castella's uncharacteristically urgent voice erupted over the mic.

    "Attelus! Attelus! Cough if you copy damn it!"

    I quickly complied.

    "Good! We have two new additions to the line outside and-and the people they are just-just parting, letting them through, I!-I can't make out their faces but-but-!"

    The line began to fizzle and crackle, warping Castella's words into indecipherable syllables, then entirely descended to nothing but static.

    I felt my heart beating a thousand miles a minute and the fear! Oh, the fear! The adrenaline pumping! But still, I shivered in the unnatural cold, and then I noticed Elandria, who looked at me in utter terror, whose lower lip shook, and her body wavered.

    "Why-why, are you smiling?" she stammered.

    "I'm smiling?" I asked, genuinely bemused. "Well, I guess I would now that everything is going according to plan, to my plan anyway."

    I don't know if you had thought I had forgotten about Taryst's little psyker cadre or you had forgotten, but this, this I had actually seen coming, yes.

    I knew I had to act; perhaps that time was short, so I moved. Dodging and weaved through the frozen club-goers within milliseconds, I reached the Hammer with the auto pistol; the ganger was never able to react to my advance as his glazed eyes stared dumbly to the ceiling, his mouth gaping open in severe shock.

    I smashed my elbow straight into his solar plexus, which impacted in a sickening "crunch!" and the Hammer let out a feeble gasp for air, his torso bending in under the force. I gritted my teeth and followed on, punching him in the kidney, then the ribs, finished him by sliding to his flank and delivering a brutal, low side kick snapping his knee inward and causing the Hammer to let out a strangled howl of utter agony. I now had his Auto pistol in hand (which unsurprisingly already had the safety off), and I fired one round into the ceiling, yelling out at the top of my lungs, "down everybody down!"
    Luckily the crowd were not so frozen in fear that they were unable to acquiesce to my request, and with frightened yelps, they did as told, all accept the two remaining bouncer Hammers who were only just now numbly reaching for their weapons.

    I shot them both, one through the head and the other in his chest, the shots accompanied by even more screams of terror.

    "Damn it, what the hell are you doing?" demanded Elandria as she retrieved one of the corpses' Las pistols and raising it to cover the entranceway.

    "Improvising," I replied.

    "Didn't-didn't you just say that 'everything is going according to plan'?"

    "All according to one plan, yes."

    "Then it isn't improvising, then is it?"

    "Whatever," I sighed, and I found the unconscious Hammer's three backup ammo clips, and I slipped them into my pockets.

    "So what is it that you improvise now, oh you magnificent bastard you?"

    I looked over my shoulder at her shocked, was that an actual joke? A backhanded compliment, perhaps? Or something else entirely?

    "Cover the door for me, would you. I have unfinished business to attend to."

    "Then what the hell will I do when that Psyker gets here then?"

    "Pray too, that Emperor of yours!" that was my reply as I turned into the corridor leading to the VIP area, my confiscated autopistol raised and ready as I advanced.

    I had not forgotten about Taryst's psykers, I had an idea in the back of my head that this little independent operation of Glaitis' would have been tracked, but that also begs yet another question, why would Glaitis have played this move?

    She must have known of Taryst's psychic allies and was aware without taking the proper precautions that we would have been found out, and I could hazard a myriad amount of guesses as to why but now was not the time to-.

    As the corridor began to curve southward, I heard it, sudden and deafening, gunfire reverberated within the passage. I gritted my teeth, risking a look and what I saw made my eyes widen in fear.
    One Hammer had lost his mind; he fired his stub automatic limply and indiscriminately into the crowd of terrified, screaming VIPs, two of which already lay dead.

    The man was grinning mindlessly, foaming from the mouth, and his body moved loosely like a marionette. This was defiantly a psyker's work, and this would have been nightmare fuel unleaded if I had not seen it many times before. Without breaking stride, I shot him, I shot him straight through the face, the back of what was once a Human's skull exploded out into a cone of gore, the thick, red matter coating anyone near and the body dropped like a sack of spuds.

    I left the corridor and out into a cacophony of cries as the VIPs all saw the small skinny bastard who held a smoking autopistol walking right through their midst.

    Are you really scared of me? Didn't I save all your hides? I thought Glaitis had once said that being a hero was overrated, and once again, she proves to be right, and I kicked the corpse as I walked through. "Shame about the face," I muttered.

    I came to the door, which led to the 'restricted' area and studied the lock. It was one of your typical password encoded things, and to the consequential cry of many an onlooker, I raised my pistol, turned away, covered my face with a forearm and blew out the lock with one deafening pull of the trigger.

    I kicked the door open then was forced to throw myself back into cover mere milliseconds before the torrent of las fire cut through the air. I had managed a glimpse of the lone Hammer, the lone Hammer with crazed eyes, who stood six metres down the corridor and who still kept spraying on full auto despite my absence and whose insane screams of fear I could hear well over the rounds, he had no cover, nothing.

    I only had to wait for several seconds for the fire to stop and to hear the familiar hiss of emptied Las weaponry, then I stepped out.

    "You idiot!" I roared and put two rounds through his torso. Of course, his idiocy and the other's fear could be explained by the psychic presence. Now I could see my breath steaming and the ice on the walls; I grinned; thank you, Taryst, you are making this way too easy.

    I kicked open the door at the end of the corridor and entered into what I remembered from the schematics a larger room and found it was a recreation room one that was already held and makeshift fortified buy three more of Brutis' Bones mooks. I was almost caught unawares, not prepared for an organised defence and was immediately forced back into hiding as they opened fire. I had accounted for the psyker's presence to be more lasting, and at times like this, I would kill for a grenade or manstopper rounds; they would easily blow fist-size holes through the table which they had turned over. It looked like it wasn't going to be so easy after all.

    I briefly leaned out and fired off my last three rounds, forcing the Hammers to duck behind their table. Ejecting the empty clip, slamming a fresh one home, and without hesitation, I leaned back out. Even now, I am not sure if it was skill or luck which was the cause of me managing to scalp one of the Hammers as he rose from hiding, but either way, it shocked his comrades into submission long enough to allow me to sprint the distance and shoot them both through their faces at point-blank range.

    I vaulted over the table and retrieved a laspistol from one of the corpses; after checking the charge gauge was full, I moved on now with a big grin on my face.

    The shots reverberated in the confined corridors as I fired two point-blank rounds into the Hammer's chest, and my front kick followed on, colliding into the limp corpse and propelling the dead Hammer into the next of his colleagues in line. Both bodies fell to the floor in a mass of writhing limbs and screams. While lunging over the screaming Hammer and the corpse pinning him, I shot the next ganger as he was bringing his stubbrevolver to bear. Still, the fourth ganger in line was thinner and more nimble than the others as he slid past his collapsing ally and lunged into a hook punch intended on smashing in my head. In an inner-outer block that pushed the attack off course, I blocked the fist with a forearm, augmented his momentum, and caused his punch to connect straight into the rockcrete wall instead. His hand broke with a sickening crack, and the Hammer bellowed out in utter agony a bellow which became abruptly cut short as I pistol-whipped him in the base of the skull, causing his forehead to follow after his fist in cracking against the hard surface.

    He also wasn't much taller than I was, so hence an effective human shield, and just in time, I hooked my arm around the man's neck, turned the limp form to face the next aggressor as he opened fire. The human shield took three rounds from the Hammer's autopistol (I could only thank the Emperor that none of them wielded shotguns). Jarring the corpse with each and almost caused me to let go before I managed to shoot the hapless team killer over the shoulder of his murdered workmate.

    The next Hammer, an older and horrifically scarred monster, attempted to follow my example as he roughly shoved his traitorous allies corpse toward me to mask his advance. Still, I slid out the way, pushing my back against the wall, and the two dead men collided into each other, falling to the floor in a heap. The large ganger was on me and threw a deceptively fast hook that I barely managed to back peddle out the way from, he was actually pretty good, much to my surprise, and my attempt at bringing my pistols to bear was interrupted by his follow-on, a right jab that I swayed under and then an uppercut I narrowly sidestepped. The next attack was a lunging back fist that sent me back-peddling even further and almost made me trip over the corpses that I had left in my wake.

    The Hammer stopped his assault and glared at me balefully, one of his eyes milky white the other a piercingly bright blue.

    "Put those pistols away," he grunted as he cracked his knuckles. "I see you are a worthy opponent, so let us truly see who is the better fighter."

    I sighed and complied, dropping both my pistols to the floor with a clatter.

    "Hmm, right," I said. "But first, just one question, are you by chance Brutis Bones?"

    "No, I am-"

    Before he could continue any further, I knelt, picked the pistols back up and shot him five times; the first exploded out his guts; the second blew a ragged hole in his chest. The third burst open his right bicep, the fourth hit him in the thigh, causing him to spin around so his back was facing me and the last ripped out the base of his spine, and he fell straight to the floor, flat on his face. I knew it was overkill, but these 'Honour Before Reason' idiots were usually tough bastards, and that was the only way I could make sure he wasn't ever getting back up. Taryst wanted Brutis Bones alive, so I would have made an effort if it was him.

    Sighing again and wondering how the hell such an idiot could have lived as a ganger. I casually lowered my laspistol and put a neat black hole through the forehead of the Hammer, who was still struggling to escape from under his dead ally.

    I felt dirty; sure, I could have beaten the idiot eventually if I had done the honourable thing and fought fair, but that would have wasted time, and time was one thing not on my side.

    As I moved through that maze of cramped, brightly lit corridors, the closer I came to the area I guessed was Brutis Bones' quarters. More and more, a feeling of unease grew at the pit of my gut, that almost the very air disturbed my very being, and with that feeling, it became more and more evident the lack of any psychic activity around me. Only one thing off the top of my head could explain this phenomenon, the presence of a blank. A person whose very existence nullifies the activities of the warp around them, dissipating all psychic abilities at a certain radius. It would explain a lot, Taryst's apparent need for an army to track down this enemy even with the cadre of psykers at his beck and call. But there had to more to it than that, even with the blank here making this place all but invisible, why hadn't Taryst just captured a lowly Hammer and had one of the psyker's delve into their mind? Was Taryst so paranoid at having the activities of his psykers found by the local authorities so frigging overwhelming?

    That also begs the question, how the hell could Taryst know my thoughts so well that he could tell of my doubts about my job? Perhaps the answer lies in the "blocks" placed in mine and all my fellow mercenaries minds; perhaps they allow the psykers to read our thoughts without giving off any hint? Was that even possible? I didn't know. But if it was true, then it only confirms that Taryst didn't want anyone outside of his organisation knowing of this hunt and the complicated precautions he was prepared to take to keep it that way.

    Then 'paranoia' was a frigging understatement.

    But this 'answer' was just fuel for many more questions; why did Glaitis allow her apprentice to be implanted with these things? Why would Glaitis have both Elandria and I along to this operation if Taryst could have his psykers read our minds? And I will not say that it was "because she didn't know" idiocy; she knows, she knows everything. I can say that with an amount of conviction that I hadn't felt in ages. Perhaps she wanted to have Taryst reveal his organisation by forcing his hand? But then why would she want Taryst to show himself in the first place? Could Garrakson know more than he lets on as well? He was our leader and longtime senior in Taryst's company?

    But most importantly, what was the cause behind all this paranoia and why the hell was so much effort going into tracking down this low life gang leader?

    The answer to that I could hazard a myriad amount of guesses upon.

    I reached the end of yet another corridor; stopping at the edge, I pushed my back against the wall and glanced around the corner.

    Two Hammers stood guard at the doorway situated halfway down the next hall; both were bulky men, both held autoguns, and both glanced about with nervous expressions.

    Without hesitation, I stepped out and vacated the nearest ganger's brains out the side of his skull with one autopistol round. The other turned to me in almost admiral discipline, attempting to bring up his autogun to fire.

    He managed it halfway before my las shots killed him, one blew through his ribs, and the other blew out his neck.

    I ran on, unloading and reloading my smoking pistols on the move, then pushed my back against the wall next to the already open entrance. I could not help but think that perhaps this was a little too easy, and you also may be wondering why I am doing this? Why it is simple, and it is not what you may think if it is that I bring in Brutis Bones finally Glaitis will see me worthy and promote me to full assassin-hood? Well, that would be a bonus, but no. I am and have never been a particularly ambitious person. I have no dreams of ascending Glaitis and taking her blood-soaked throne (the metaphorical one, of course, but at times, I have wondered). No, I just wanted to have this frigging job done, finished so we can move on to something else. I hated this crap and was frankly sick of it; that is why I am throwing myself blind into the Wolves Den, killing anything and everything in my ways like a Hitman on heat. The poor Hammers who stood in my way were just the instruments for me to take my anger and aggression out on, almost like Vex was.

    I physically winced at the thought and felt the guilt I had suppressed over the earlier hours boil back to the surface. I swallowed hard and forced it back down. I still had plenty more frustration to go around,
    Now, with that finally explained, I took in a huge breath and slipped through the doorway. My pistols raised and covering the interior. The room I emerged into was large, at least eight metres in length and fifteen in width, a brightly lit rockcrete cave. Barren to an extreme, and there were twelve thick, square pillars, six along the diameters of the room. It was empty except for the one figure who stood in sight, right at the epi-centre, he had his back facing me, but I could see the heavy carapace armour he wore.

    "Brutis Bones, I presume?" I said, covering him with my guns.

    No answer; the man just stood deathly still and stayed silent.

    "Hmm, right. I'm not going to bother to say for you to surrender. This place looks like it's been built specifically for a firefight, isn't a coincidence, is it?"

    Again he replied with silence.

    Something inside me snapped. "Don't you give me the frigging silent treatment, you bastard! Do you have any idea the crap I have been through to find you!"

    "I can't believe that so many of my guards killed single-handedly by a kid," the man said abruptly. "A foolish kid playing at games far too large and complicated for him to even begin to comprehend."

    I wasn't sure how to reply to that; what he had said had hit quite close to home.

    "And nope, sorry kid, I am not your Brutis Bones; he is, in another castle, you could say."

    I gritted my teeth, widened my eyes and tightened my hands on the grips of my pistols.

    "How the hell do I know that you actually are him and not just lying?" I asked, struggling to keep my voice neutral; if this wasn't Brutis Bones, then Glaitis' intel must have been misled; no, I sincerely doubted that. If this were Brutis Bones, she would know, and if this man who talked to me now isn't him, then it would just reinforce that this is one of her feints used to force Taryst to show his hand.

    The man shrugged. "You can choose to believe or not to believe, kid, either way, it's the truth, now I may not be him, but that doesn't make me want to live any less so..."

    Then he spun, as quick as lightning, and he held a stubb revolver raised and firing.

    All I could do was a lunge, diving behind the nearest pillar just in time. But I was not fast enough to dodge the one round which skimmed my left shoulder, the sharp pain erupted up my arm, and I yelped out as I hit the floor.

    Getting into a crouch, I pushed my back against my pillar, cursing savagely. I had his back wholly covered, and yet the bastard still got the drop on me!

    A few more shots rang through the vast room; then there was silence, the only sound the ringing clatter of empty shell casings falling to the floor.

    "You really are him, aren't you?" I said.

    "Maybe, maybe not," the man replied.

    My reply was me suddenly leaning out slightly and wailing off four shots in his general direction.

    "Well, either way, you're fighting me now, and either way, you are going to pay the consequences!" I said as I lunged out into the open, my guns blazing.

    I ran, sprinting sideways and fired my pistols at my opponent, who ran with me. The bellowing, rudimentary consistent and combined sounds of our weapons discharging over and over echoed throughout the interior with a horrible, deafening cacophony. They tore into the decor, which wrought in a new and far more interesting scenery of bullet holes in the rockcrete walls and pillars.

    Making it to the next pillar and leaving the clatter of spent shell cases in my wake, I pushed myself up against my cover. I lent outlet off a few shots with my Laspistol, then I spun to the other side rockcrete cover and neatly caught my enemy off guard as he attempted the same manoeuvre. The man barely made it behind his colonnade as I opened fire. Then without hesitation, I moved, running toward the other side in an attempt to bridge the gap while I wailed away with my pistols to keep the bastard pinned to prevent his reconciliation.

    Without hindrance, I found the other side of the same colonnade that my opponent cowered behind, pushed myself against the pillar, then slid out, pistols raised and found the man had gone.

    I snarled out a curse, turning just in time to catch him as he came around the other side of the pillar and desperately knock his raised stubb revolver's aim off course. The round once meant to cave in my skull shot off, its fate only to create yet another smoking crater in the wall, and I followed on, kicking out viscously at the man's groin. The man sidestepped the attack with almost contemptuous ease and attempted to bring his gun to bear on me again. My inner-outer block smashed the shot aside, after which I opened up with my autopistol.

    Despite the shot being point-blank, the man still managed almost to dive out the way; instead of exploding his ribcage, the round impacted against his shoulder guard, its kinetic force caused him to turn in mid-lunge, and he hit the floor clumsily, I could clearly hear him gasp out his lungs ejected air with the impact.

    I didn't hesitate, shooting once! Twice! Hitting him as he rolled across the floor, but that was all I could muster before he made it behind the next pillar, and my pistols clicked empty.

    Sliding around the first colonnade, I knelt and began reloading; I had six clips left, four for my autopistol and two for my las. Along the way of my massacre, I had pilfered them off the corpses of my many victims, and I could also hear my opponent following suit along with his pained gasps and grunts as he performed the task.

    "You know," I said as I slammed home a fresh clip into my autopistol. "You would be dead if you weren't wearing that carapace."

    "I know," he replied, and I could not help but be surprised by the sadness in his words. "You're good, kid. I'll give you that."

    "I know," I echoed back.

    "Perhaps even good enough to kill me," he went on, "and that I actually wouldn't mind, I have lived a long life kid, killed a lot of people I really wouldn't mind. Going out with one final blaze of glory."

    I grinned. "Well, if you're so keen to die, why don't you just step out and make this easy for me?"

    The man sighed. "You and I know I can't do that; your boss, Taryst, wants me alive, doesn't he? There is more at stake here than one old man and his lowly life; my mission demands that I live amongst the populace of Omnartus to complete it, so I can't give up; I can't let you kill me or anyone; else."

    It was my turn to sigh, "and what the hell is it that is exactly at stake?"

    "More than you could imagine."

    Something in those words made sudden indescribable fear crawl up my spine, fear even more potent than the presence of the blank, fear even more potent than the psychic activity of earlier.

    "W-what do you mean? Who the hell are you?" I managed.

    "I'm nobody, no one. But I know who you are; you are what I said you were earlier, nothing but a kid, a kid caught up in games far too complex and adult for him. Just some poor, innocent kid who's been thrown into this mess and for what I am about to do, I am truly sorry."

    I gritted my teeth; somehow, the fear was even more potent than before, my heart shuddered in my chest, and my hands began to shake uncontrollably.

    "Sorry? W-what the hell are you sorry for?" I demanded.

    "For this."

    I heard a beep, the brief pure sound of a press of a button, small non-descript, but somehow it held more weight than any of his words.

    I flinched in fright as I heard a nearby, small section of the wall slid open, revealing the darkened room beyond and what stepped out from its depths made my heart turn to ice.

    "I am truly, truly sorry."

    It stood at three metres tall, its enormous bulky body utterly corded with a musculature not at all possible for a normal human being. It was naked except for a torn old loincloth, it's pink, the swollen skin was covered all over with countless hideous scars, both its hands had been severed at the wrists surgically replaced with two huge, razor-sharp axes, and its teeth filed into ugly incisors.

    The Arco Flagellant didn't make a sound, no roar from its smiling maw as one would expect from such a monster, and that somehow made it even more terrifying, silently, and with grace belying its bulk, it turned its attention to me then lunged for the kill.

    Despite my utter terror, I still managed to dive out the way of the Arco Flagellant's charge. I landed and neatly rolled into a crouch and turned in time to see it practically eviscerate a frigging three metre thick solid rockcrete pillar with just one swipe of its huge axe. It then shoulder barged straight through, carrying on as though it was nothing. The wanton destruction showered the surroundings with chunks of rockcrete and an explosively ejected cloud of dust.

    This was one enemy I couldn't defeat; this, this thing was so far out of my league that even if I was full equipment with armour, everything I would be nothing but a speck to it. Even less of a nothing than that damned pilaster it had just destroyed with nought but its forward momentum and its shoulder.

    I crawled to my feet, a clumsy and hard action as my sweat-slicked hands almost slid out from under me twice. The task of getting up must have taken me no more than a few seconds but felt like a lifetime; any second, I expected the thing to bear down on me to deliver the killing blow, but it never came and once up, I turned, and I ran. I ran like the coward I am.

    My heartbeat so fast my chest hurt, my whole body shook so hard I was in utter agony. I sprinted as quickly as my aching legs could go, but still, I never felt it was nearly enough.

    I made it out the door and turned right, the way I had come and barely a millisecond after the Arco Flagellant crashed the entranceway.

    I never looked back; I didn't dare. I just ran and ran as my arms flailed about like curtains in the wind; my breaths came out as agonising rasps. Every step I made felt like a million more, and I never looked back, but I could feel its presence behind me, tailing me, descending on me like a predator about to pounce upon its prey and with every step, I took I expected to feel its axe cut through me.

    Those corridors seemed to go on forever; these were the corridors which mere minutes ago I had slaughtered my way through, and I now ran for my life through them. Terrifyingly I almost tripped over many of the dead gangers I had killed. Even in my fear-fueled state, I was able to see the irony that falling over one of them meant falling to my demise.

    When I finally made it out of that maze, my body almost ejected itself out the door, out into the club beyond, and the relief that washed over me in reaching it here was completely and utterly unjustified.

    But despite myself, I slid to a stop and turned to look back and found the monster wasn't there, that somehow, someway, I had lost that inhuman thing in the maze, as the corridor behind me was completely and utterly devoid of life.

    Perhaps it wasn't as manoeuvrable as I was through those sharp turns, so it had lost its way? And I was too busy mindless in my flight ever to notice?

    I glanced around and, to my complete horror, found that the partygoers hadn't moved an inch since my earlier exit; they all stood gaping and staring at me with terror milked eyes.

    Something deep down inside me said that the Arco Flagellant would never be lost. That it would hound me until I was dead or it was, I knew soon, very soon that it would come down that corridor and massacre anyone and anything in its path, these people included. I could leave them, run and run, leave them to be slaughtered, delaying it further so I could have a slighter semblance of a chance to escape.

    And why not? They were nothing! The sons and daughters of haughty, arrogant, corrupt aristocrats and bureaucrats! Whatever the galaxy would never mourn them, they were nothing, just dozens of lives among trillions more.

    But yet they were innocent, these people, these men and women they had come here to dance to enjoy themselves. To forget their worries and find some slight joy in this Emperor-forsaken universe, millions of people die every day, whether killed by the numberless Xenos that ravage humanity on every front or those of our petty species, the insignificant members of humanity like myself. Perhaps I could conquer my cowardice and work for once to prevent even just a few of those millions of souls instead of being a contributor. If I died, and even if one of them survived, they would remember the small skinny bastard who gave his life to protect them; That my sacrifice would mean something for someone.

    I was wrong; I was the nothing I had died inside almost a decade ago when war had ravaged my world, my country, my home. When war separated me from my mother and forced me into a world of ruthless scavenging, a life, toiling away for survival amongst the ruins among the rest of the beasts I-.

    It was then that I noticed that despite everything, I had kept hold of my pistols.

    I smiled, bowing my head, and felt the tears abruptly swell in my eyes and roll down my cheeks, this was the first time I had cried in a very long time, and boy, did it feel good. I thanked the Emperor that I had my answer, and seemingly almost on cue, I heard the repeating, quick-fire plodding sound of the Arco Flagellant's running at the end of the corridor.

    I raised my pistols and cocked back the Hammer of my auto; perhaps this was the retribution for what I had done to Vex; perhaps this was my vindication for my selfish cowardice.

    The smile never left my face even as the creature bared down upon me, and my shots fired ineffectually off of its thick hide.

    A voice, a womanly, low soft, beautiful voice spoke in the impenetrable black, a familiar voice. One I felt I knew well but could not recall to who it belonged to It came off somewhere distant, far, far out in the blackness.

    Was this death? Was what the church of the Ecclesiarchy taught about death complete crap? Was death just this black void of nothingness?

    I had never believed. My mother was highly religious, but I never was; we were opposites. We were so similar in our personalities but different in our beliefs; we would clash countless times, verbal fights of stunning ferocity on both sides. Now I think back at it; it was a miracle that the Ministorum never found out about my Heretical words. That my mother loved me enough never to tell them.

    I believed that the Emperor was never the god that people proclaim him to be, but a great man whose wisdom and power was indeed God-like. But how could he ever have wanted this for us? All the suffering, all the death? The rampant poverty, the chaos, the mindless religious fanaticism in his name, the millions of planets dedicated to the hives of organised chaos and the meek, brainwashed bureaucrats who knew nothing but their small boxes and the Cogitators at their fingertips our whole encompassing bureaucracy?

    If this were indeed death, I wouldn't mind; I felt safe here, I felt truly free just floating in this black, in this nothingness and that voice, that beautiful, beautiful soft voice oh I could listen to that voice forever.

    Slowly though, the voice came closer, as if whoever the voice belonged to silently walked toward me through the black.

    I wasn't scared, never was I scared, and I could start making out the words that became more explicit as the voice came closer. What was it that it said? It sounded like a prayer of some kind, the prayer like the voice felt familiar, but I couldn't quite recall what it was.

    Then it stopped, the voice; gone, and my heart emptied at its absence. Was I supposed to spend the rest of eternity without its comforting words, without its company?

    Wait, my heart? What?

    "Attelus," whispered the voice in my ear. "Open your eyes."

    Without hesitation, I did as told and found myself alive, lying in one of the many beds in Taryst's medicae facility and that the voice had belonged Castella. She sat at the end of my bed, her hands clasped in prayer against her forehead with her elbows on my duvet.

    She was so beautiful, and to see her there filled me with such indescribable joy at being alive.

    I tried to open my mouth to speak out to her through my dry, crack lips, but all that I could manage was a pathetic rattle as though my body had forgotten how to talk.

    She stopped her praying and looked at me, her eyes were red with tears, and it hurt me to see such beauty marred. But her smile, oh her smile, it was a smile of indescribable happiness, one of great relief, a smile which showed the weight which had left her shoulders.

    I tried to move my hand to beckon her closer, but my whole world became racked with pain at the effort, utter agony, which made me close my eyes and grunt out in response.

    It took me until then to realise I was covered from head to toe in bandages and to see the drip cord which fed into my arm.

    But she got the hint and leaned closer, nearing her ear toward my mouth for me to speak, and I said, "Stop praying; I'm trying to sleep."

    Castella threw back her head and laughed out loud; it was a sweet sound, a beautiful sound from a kind person who seemed to utter nothing but sweet sounds.

    She laughed so hard she had to wipe a tear from her eye, and she sat back down on her chair.

    "It's good to see that you are still yourself, Attelus," she said.

    I tried to smile, but even that hurt.

    "You have been out for a long, long time, my friend," she carried on.

    "How...Long?" I fought to say.

    Her eyes widened into a pained expression that told me I really didn't want to know.


    Her perfect face suddenly curled up, and tears ran down her cheeks. The change in emotion was so fast that I didn't know how to react.

    "Th-thank you," she squeaked.

    I couldn't manage to ask what she was thankful for, but she still answered.

    "Thank you for proving to me that you still are a good person. Ever since I had first met you, I knew you weren't like the rest of us, that you weren't evil, that you still cared for more than just yourself. Thank you for proving to me you still are human," she sniffed heavily and wiped away her tears with her forearm, "after-after what you did to Vex I began to doubt you, I had begun to believe that you had devolved into the monster, but I see now that doubt was unfounded. You stood alone Attelus, against an impossible enemy; you willingly put yourself on the line for the good of others, you-you."

    She couldn't continue her sentence as she teared back up again.

    "And-and thank you that now I know no matter what happens, no matter how hard it is, you will still be that good, kind, compassionate person inside. I just regret that we couldn't have got there in time to save you earlier, and for that, I am sorry, Attelus, I am truly, truly sorry."

    Even if I had been able to speak then, I couldn't have; I was taken aback at her emotional outburst, never in all my career that I would have ever suspected that Castella cared for me so much, never.

    She was always a friend, the only person I could talk to with humour and trust, who saw me as a person and not some know-nothing apprentice.

    But then I realised something; I couldn't recall at all what had happened in that club after the Arco Flagellant had charged me; how the hell had I survived? Had any of the club goers escaped? What exactly had happened?

    Castella sniffed again, and as if reading my mind, she said, "you did it, Attelus. You held off that monster for long enough that those people could escape; you went one on one with an Arco Flagellant long enough that Elandria, Hayden, Darrance, and I could stop it before it could cause any more damage. If you had died Attelus, your sacrifice would not have been in vain, and I swear I'm telling you the truth; I know you aren't the most trusting person in this world but believe me, on this, be proud Attelus."

    She sniffed again, but this time it had humour in it, "when we took you to Taryst's medicae facility, they said there was no way you would survive, that you would die within hours, but I knew you were stubborn, and you held on, you lived and-and most importantly, thank you, thank you for living, thank you."

    Oh, how I dearly wished I could reach out and comfort her or even thank her, but everything was so hard, so, so hard, couldn't keep my eyes open, anymore, anymore, I blinked, once then twice, then I embraced the sweetness of sleep.

    This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2021/04/15 21:23:10

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    Author's Note: I've been thinking about this story a bit and I'm going to say this: I'm really proud of it. I began it back in '09 (Or even earlier, maybe?) I was stuck in a gakky job and going through a quarter-life crisis and I'd just began GMing. I wanted to play a proper roleplaying game of Dark Heresy but my friends at the time were just interested in fighting, being newbies and mostly playing D&D before that. Where I had RP'd a Dark Heresy campaign with a group of seasoned veterans and they'd rubbed off on me. So I came up with the concept of this story as a Dark Heresy campaign but felt it wouldn't work when my group were all just interested in battling. So I had a whinge about it on Astronomicon.com (FFFFFF) and a pole and people voted for me to harden up and write it as a story.

    So here it is. It all began as a concept, a small idea of where it'll go (But it went in a direction even I didn't know) and I made it up as went along but it evolved into a character-driven story I'm still quite proud of even after learning so much over the years since I began.

    I lunged, the crackling power sword in my hands, slicing a horizontal arc at my opponent's torso.

    My movements were so sure, so fast, so skilled that my eyes could barely follow; never had I known myself to be this good and never had I ever wielded a power sword either.

    But somehow, despite my incredible speed, my breathtaking confidence and skill, blindingly fast my enemy managed to dodge. Serghar Kaltos back-peddled just away from reach, and the handsome, grim-faced man that was my father slid in, slashing through vertically with his power sword.

    Never would I ever had dreamt I could fight my father to a standstill Serghar Kaltos' skill was legendary; his speed and agility rivalled that of an Eldar's, and these immeasurable talents honed from decades and decades of experience and training. When I was young, he and I would spar for countless hours. I was good, excellent, but I would never win no matter how hard I tried; never could I ever even begin to touch my father, and I could tell even then that he was just forever toying with me, forever holding back his real skill and strength.

    Now he wasn't, but still, my blade was able to come around and knock his attack off course; my body seemed to move on its own like water and fire in one. In the blink of an eye, I riposted and stabbed forwards in perfect balance, the tip of my power blade aimed at impaling his chest.

    The ever-practical Serghar Kaltos simply sidestepped the thrust. Still, my body followed on as if expecting such a trick, keeping the thrust forwards, I turned my hips, causing the crackling blade to follow after my father's movement.

    Serghar didn't hesitate; he parried with his blade on an angle, so my momentum caused my sword to slide up to it and, off-course, throwing me into being overextended and overbalanced, then he came in to perform the killing blow. A short slash aimed to disembowel.

    I cried out, knowing this to be the end, that no matter how good I was, there would be no way I could ever hope to counter. And yet, despite my overbalance, despite my overextended position, my body moved. With extreme cat-like dexterity beyond my comprehension, I slipped clear in a move of outrageous audacity I slid forwards, sliding around and behind my father while he was still in mid-cut, and then I stabbed my power sword through his back.

    I wanted to scream out no to halt the blow! But my body wouldn't let me. I resented my father, he was a hypocrite and a liar, but I never wanted to kill him. He was still my dad; he was always the one who looked after me, put up with me, who taught me how to shoot a gun, how to wield a sword, how to read and write, how to survive. I had no intention to ever hunt him down in some mislead vengeance.

    Without my permission, my body lent in and said something into the dying Serghar Kaltos' ear, but what I uttered I could not hear.

    Then abruptly, I pulled back and tore my blade from his torso in an angle which caused his body to spin around to face me and for one brief moment, I was able to look into my father's face, but now it wasn't Serghar Kaltos. No, the wide-eyed dying form which faced me now was that of Glaitis. Who, despite the ugly gaping hole in her chest, grinned at me with hideous, terrifying insanity. But it was when I looked into her glazed eyes then I screamed, as utter terror tore through me, terror which far exceeded anything I had ever felt before, terror which consumed me and drove me to the brink of insanity.

    Because it was in the reflection of her large, blue beautiful eyes, I saw myself; I saw my face so much like my father's but framed by my long brown hair. Still, my expression was contorted, twisted and deformed into an insane, hideous, and grinning maw, a mirror of Glaitis' own.

    My screams turned into muffled yells as I awoke back into the medicae ward, back into the agony of the real world, but despite the pain, relief washed over me as I realised it was a dream. I lent back into my pillow, my yelling turning into strangled gasps.

    It was then the medicae rushed through the door and to my bedside. I instantly recognised him as I had met him the first and only time I remembered to visit Torris after his injury, but to my annoyance, I could not quite recall his name.

    "Mr Kaltos, are you alright? I heard screaming."

    I could not answer; it still hurt to talk; I could only look up at him.

    "I see," he said, "it was a nightmare."

    He pulled out a small flashlight from his white jacket pocket and shone it into my eyes. "After what you had gone through, I would not expect any less, young man."

    When he pulled away, I caught a glimpse of his name tag, Feuilt that's right, medicae Yarran Feuilt, the guy, seemed decent enough from the very brief bits of passing dialogue we have shared.

    "It's good to see you are finally awake, Mr Kaltos; everyone was beginning to worry; it has been more than a week since you last woke up."

    I clenched my teeth in disbelief, a frigging week!

    "But believe it or not, you have been through the worst of it; you're lucky you are young. Another solid month of recovery, and you should be back in working order."

    A month of recovery? Wait, another month! I have been unconscious for that long! By the Emperor! But I shouldn't have been surprised; it was a miracle that I was still conscious at all, actually going from what Castella had said a month was way too quick, really.

    I don't believe in 'miracles' and, in all honesty, I didn't believe any of Castella's earlier claim either. There was no way in hell that I could have held off that beast for so long that all those people could escape. I remembered well the size of that room and the size of the crowd stuffed into that space.

    There was no way in hell that there couldn't have been collateral damage; I would have had to dodge and weave its attacks. Perhaps she had just worded it wrong, but I doubted Castella would not be so sloppy. If Glaitis had concocted this lie, she would have engineered it to sound more legitimate, surely.

    Or perhaps that I am just legitimately that excellent, or perhaps Castella just wanted to give good news when I finally awoke, and she would tell me the truth later? But that would piss me off because she lied and-.

    I wanted to scream and roar out the frustration and anger that suddenly flooded to the surface. Do you have any idea what it is like to live in a world that you can't believe in anything! That everyone close to you lies about anything and everything, that you are forced to question any act of kindness because there may be some treachery behind it? Everyone has their petty agenda, everyone! And there would be nothing they couldn't resort to see their ambitions through. I am an idiot, a complete and utter idiot that it has taken me this long to realise that.

    'Trust nothing, suspect everything' a saying which now seemed so redundant it was laughable.

    It was then I realised that medicae Feuilt was studying me; his beady eyes glinted with concern.

    Suddenly he turned, grabbed the nearby stool, slid it next to my bed and sat down.

    "Now I am no psyker, but I can tell when a patient is in distress and well," Feuilt paused, grinned and scratched the back of his skull, "but you wouldn't need to be a psyker or a thirty-year veteran of the healing arts to tell that you must have a lot of questions."

    I set my jaw and treated him with the best glare I could dare; oh, you could not imagine the stockpile of questions I have gathered and needed answered, I thought.

    "And well, you are not exactly in the condition to ask them, so I will tell you what I know and of the best of my ability," he sighed. "When you were first taken into us, you were in bad shape; well, to be honest, saying that you were in bad shape is like saying a star going supernova is a bad thing for the planets orbiting it. It is an understatement."

    Well, I would have never figured that out, I thought sardonically.

    "Almost every bone in your body was broken, well, shattered, but remarkably your skull and spine were mostly still intact, and you had the slightest of life signs." Feuilt's expression turned hard. "Honestly, we had pegged you for dead. As I said, your bones shattered; there was no way we could re nit them and even if you did survive the trauma of the impact which caused it, that your brain would have been damaged beyond repair. But your employer, Glaitis, she wouldn't give up and under her orders and too much, much sweat and toil, we managed to stabilise you for the first week. So you lived long enough that she could," he hesitated, and an almost incredulous expression creased his already old face. "So she could bring in a new surgeon, who uhm, worked by interesting methods. For only an hour at most, we were not allowed to enter this room while that new surgeon worked; whoever it was, it never even asked us anything. Still, I could not deny the psychic presence emanating from this room." Feuilt shivered, "after that, that hour whoever it was just left, as quickly as they came."

    I wasn't too sure what to make of this news so far if Feuilt was telling the truth, which I did believe, or at the least, he thought it was true. Then perhaps, the story of Castella's "you were stubborn and held on to survive" was complete and utter frig, but I could see that Feiult wasn't telling me the whole truth. Like if the healer were indeed a psyker who somehow didn't get its healing of me detected by the local authorities after the incident at The Twilight Bar. Indeed any new psychic activity would have been treated with extreme suspicion if it was sensed, of course, and then why did Taryst allow it? And also, why would Glaitis go to so much effort to save me? A mere, lowly apprentice?

    But all that paled in comparison to one substantial huge lingering question, why were we still here? After Glaitis' 'extracurricular' activities and the subsequent chaos at The Twilight Bar, wouldn't Taryst at the very least fired Glaitis for going behind his back? I could hazard a myriad amount of guesses at this, but one seemed to fit, that Brutis Bones' was still at large, whether they had confronted and killed or captured that man I had fought at the man meant he wasn't Brutis or that was Brutis, and he did escape. Or the whole 'independent' operation was known to Taryst, and for some reason, Glaitis lied to us about it.

    But if the former were true, I would once again emphasise the full extent of Taryst's desperation that he would keep us around after that incident. That he needed our skills so badly brought this into an even larger light, and now I know that perhaps Brutis Bones or that man I fought has connections with the Holy Inquisition. That would explain the enormous funding it has and them being able to keep a pet Arco Flagellant and if they were Inquisition, why couldn't they make contact with the local authorities? As Taryst seems to be going to insane lengths to hide from them?

    What that man in the Twilight Bar had said then echoed ominously through my thoughts; that there was more at stake than I could imagine, now his words could not ring with much more truth.

    "When we were finally permitted to enter your room," said Feuilt. "We found that you were still unconscious, but you were completely intact; your shattered bones miraculously re nit, and your brain activity was back, functioning at normal parameters."

    I expected more elaboration from the medicae, but he trailed off once more, confirming that he wasn't telling me everything.

    How had this psyker who apparently completely healed me but yet here I am, still lying in this bed where even the slightest of movements causes complete agony? How did he even know that I would be at full order in four months?

    Damn it, Feuilt, your explanation was creating nothing but more questions, and if I couldn't get those missing details during the next month, once I get well, I will frigging ring them out of the old bastard and Emperor; damn the consequences!

    Feuilt smiled almost nervously. "Also, during your month-long coma, quite a few people came to visit you, Garrakson, young Elandria, Torris and if you are wondering, Torris has recovered from his injuries. He now has a new augmetic for his missing eye, and he is out on the field working at full capacity now. Even Taryst himself once visited you."

    I felt glad about Torris' recovery but felt a pang of guilt; the guy had visited me during my injury, but I had hardly visited him; the next time, I will have to apologise. But at the medicae's mention of Taryst, I sighed; he would have only come to have his psykers withdraw the information he needed from my mind.

    "A few new people as well, a light, snarky man named Darrance. He came once. A friendly, big man called uhm Hayden a few times, but most prolific of all was that woman Castella she came in every day and every day prayed over you, it was no coincidence that she was there the first time you woke up, your lucky that you have so many who care for you so much."

    I could understand Hayden and Castella (though her coming in every day was quite shocking), And even to an extent Elandria, but Darrance? Perhaps Glaitis had forced him to or something; that was the only explanation I could theorise.

    "Well," said Feuilt as he got off of his chair. "That is enough exposition for today, young Mr Kaltos. I really should not have told you so much, but I felt you deserve some explanation at least, and as your medicae, I advise for you to not stress too much over the information I have given you, and stress, no matter how small, will slow the healing process. You need to relax. I will inform everyone you are awake," and with that, Feiult turned and walked out the door.

    I sighed to myself once Feuilt had left. Did he just ask me not to stress out about all the gigantic holes in his 'exposition?' And now that I am stuck here immobile and alone as well? Medicae Yarran Feuilt really didn't know me, did he?

    For the next three hours, I lied alone, and I lost myself in thought as I stared up at that white, tiled ceiling.

    I thought over a myriad amount of subjects, the first being how interesting it was that a psyker had repaired my shattered body. I really didn't know that it could be used in such an extreme healing aspect, though it made perfect sense in retrospect. With the power to manipulate much of your surroundings and warp other people minds to your own will, why couldn't psychic talents be used to re-nit bones?

    Perhaps that was the reason why I was still bedridden; I am still suffering from the trauma of having my shattered bones repaired by a completely foreign and unnatural force.

    My body was destroyed beyond repair; the skill and power of that mystery psyker must have been beyond phenomenal to accomplish such a task. Perhaps the psyker brought in was one of Taryst's cadre? But why would it then take a week before he/she or, on a more frightening note, "it" could be brought in to repair me and once again, my thoughts went to that one question I really wanted to avoid thinking about; why would Glaitis go to so much trouble to save me? I wanted to avoid this question as much as possible as I was unable to make a coherent theory on the answer. Was it because she genuinely cared for my well being? That I doubted, everything she did, good or bad, seemed to have something behind it which aided her mysterious agenda in one way or another.

    I always knew I was but a pawn in that agenda, but now, apparently, I was a slightly more special pawn.

    My constant circling and a futile train of thought were eventually interrupted by my first visitors, three of them to be exact.

    Elandria was first through the door, her pale face as impassive as always, but she treated me to a slight, almost respectful nod. Then she silently went and leaned against the wall, crossing her arms over her chest and gazed off, generally looking bored; her attention sometimes came back to me, and when she noticed, I noticed she quickly looked away. I had always found it sad that it was such a rare occasion when she smiled legitimately; it would have been nice to see her smile, especially now.

    Garrakson was next, wearing his usual scarred old guard carapace armour, with a big grin plastered on his equally marred face.

    "Hey kid, good to see you're finally awake," he said, then he frowned. "Damn it, though; you bloody well took your sweet time."

    Yeah, I thought in good humour, having most of your bones shattered would do that to a person.

    "Yes," said Elandria as she unknowingly spoke my thoughts but was devoid of humour, "but that is what would happen to most people after they had most of their bones shattered."

    "Now that's where your wrong, kiddo," corrected Garrakson, "no, most people would be dead."

    "Well, Attelus Kaltos isn't 'most' people, is he?" said the third person as he entered. The tall and dark-skinned Torris grinned at me widely with the white teeth that contrasted his complexion, and though I knew one of his eyes was an augmetic, yet it was hard to tell which. It seemed that Taryst had spared no expense for the ex-arbitrator, and I was glad to see that.

    "He is the mighty hero of the Twilight bar who sacrificed himself to rescue the young party-goers from a monster of horrible power; no, Attelus is now a hero, a legend, a god amongst men."

    My eyes widened. Did everybody already know of what had happened? Except for perhaps medicae Feuilt, he didn't seem to, but I was extremely sure he was also not telling me entirely what he knew anyway.

    "Yeah, yeah, keep it down, Tor," said Garrakson. "By the Emperor, I swear you and Taryst should have a competition to see which of you can chew more scenery."

    "But," added Elandria, "whether he actually 'sacrificed' himself is, really, up for interpretation."

    Not liking at all where Elandria was taking the conversation, I tried to shoot at her a death glare to make her shut up. Still, it was an attempt that failed miserably, going wholly unnoticed, and Torris and Garrakson gave her bemused glances.

    "What does that mean?" asked Torris, almost accusatory; I could tell he had an idea where this was also going.

    Elandria grinned wickedly. "I think the real reason behind it was Attelus Kaltos meant to use the 'innocent' party-goers as human shields to protect him from the arco-flagellant until back up arrived, and he was just extremely lucky; it did."

    "No!" I managed to exclaim even though it caused me pain to do so. "No! That wasn't what I intended to do at all!"

    Her words were cruel and truly callous, but perhaps they weren't without merit? Perhaps all she, Castella, Darrance and Tresch had found was a bloodbath, and this may be even more evidence pointing to Castella lying to me.

    She shrugged, seemingly almost frightened at how genuine my heartfelt rebuttal was. "I am no psyker; I can't read thoughts," she said, pouting. "It's what I would have done if in that situation."

    Everyone stared at her in utter shock. So this was the true Elandria? Someone so inherently evil and brainwashed that she couldn't even begin to comprehend that someone in the same line of work as she could do any good. She said that what she said wasn't meant to be cruel, that it was from genuine ignorance, which made it even worse.

    "Elandria," said Garrakson with an icy calm, the ex-guardsman's face was dark, as hard as a stone, and for a minute, he was utterly terrifying.


    "Get out."


    "I said, get out! And that's a frigging order!" snarled Garrakson suddenly, and that was the first time I had ever heard him raise his voice in anger. Even Torris, who had worked with Garrakson for a long time, seemed surprised by the outburst.

    Elandria flinched at the intensity, but then irrational rage began to spread over her fine-featured face, and for a second, I could have sworn that it would come to blows as she glared up at Garrakson and while he stared down stoically. To be honest, I wasn't sure who would win if it did; Garrakson had the obvious advantage of size, strength and reach, and he was well versed in basic brawling and guard CQC drills, but Elandria was even my equal in close combat; she was sly, agile and very, very fast. But in these confined quarters, Garrakson had the upper hand, so to speak, as Elandria had little to no room to manoeuvre.

    Elandria seemed to realise this as after what felt like an eternity; her face twitched back into its typical impassive, then she turned and walked out the room, muttering, "whatever", as she closed the door behind her.

    Garrakson turned back to me. "I'm sorry about that kid," he said. "Both Tor and I know that you wouldn't do such a thing."

    At that line, I looked away, feeling extreme guilt welling at the pit of my gut as I acknowledged just how close I had come to abandoning those people who, in my opinion, would have been equally as monstrous.

    "I-I," I swallowed back the pain which had come with that utterance. My earlier exclamation must have done more damage than I thought, "I was, the one who had lead that Arcoflagellent to those people; I was responsible for it, so I had to try to make up for it."

    "Fair enough and noble words Attelus," said Torris, but he and Garrakson exchanged almost guilty glances. "But we heard about what you did to Vex."

    "And that was one frigging hard pill to swallow," growled Garrakson, his harsh tone somehow making me feel even more guilty.

    "Now, Attelus, we don't know why you hurt that kid, and to be honest, don't care," said Torris. "We just want to know if that you did in that club whether or not you did it was mostly out of guilt for what you had done to that kid."

    Despite myself, sudden irrational fear pounced to the surface, fear which turned my heart to ice, I did indeed do it in part to that guilt, but I wasn't sure whether they would agree with that. I had been left to guess about oh so much while working under Glaitis. Still, I never before had I felt this weight of consequence and uncertainty, and it terrified me beyond belief; Torris and Garrakson were mercenaries, hired killers, selfishness was all part of the job, so why the hell was this so damn important to them? Why did they care!? Why couldn't my actions be enough?

    "W-why? Why the hell do you want to know?" I managed.

    "It's a simple question, Attelus," said Garrakson, "and a simple answer yes or no, you can take your time, but we aren't moving until you answer."

    I desperately looked from Garrakson to Torris back and forth, back and forth, desperate to find some clue in their impartial expressions, but to my dismay, I found nothing.

    Finally, I sucked in air through clenched teeth before saying, "yes, it was a partial contributor to my action," and it was almost physically painful to admit.

    Both Garrakson and Torris exchanged looks then Garrakson finally said, "yes, we thought as much."

    "It was pretty damned obvious," said Torris. "But it was good to hear you say it."

    "So? You two already knew, but you still were still willing to put me through that?" I said, sounding more exasperated than I should have.

    "You were willing to throw away your life then, and there weren't you, Attelus?" said Garrakson, ignoring my statement, "and doing it because you felt guilty about what you did to Vex would have been stupid."

    "You are extremely lucky to survive," said Torris. "If you had died, you wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to apologise to that kid legitimately, and so your sacrifice to him would in all likelihood seemed hollow and self-important."

    "What you really needed to do was to face the music in the first place. You should have built up the courage to say you're sorry to his face, and you are extremely lucky to get a second chance to do it," said Garrakson; then, immediately, his face lightened. "But it is also good to hear you didn't do it just because of that."

    "W-what would have happened if I had?" I asked, feeling an extreme mix of both guilt and relief.

    "Let's just say that this lecture would have gone on for longer," said Garrakson. "We may be ruthless mercs, kid, but we still care about a few things."

    "A very few things," emphasised Torris with good humour.

    "Kid, we'll leave this subject only if you promise us is that the very first thing you do once you recover is you find Vex, and you frigging well apologise."

    It was deja-vu all over again when I was a child. I remembered that my father and had given me similar lectures after every single time I had fallen into that blind rage and had hurt others because of it. Like every time, I had found it extremely hard to face the person I had hurt afterwards. But once I had worked up that courage and confronted the kid and said sorry, it was like a weight was taken off my shoulders.

    No wonder Glaitis insisted on calling me 'child' as I was still one on so many facets.

    "No," I said with newfound determination and much to Garrakson's evident surprise. "I swear it."

    We conversed for the next half hour, with Elandria all the while staying outside, and through them, I found out that now everything was back to square one.

    "We're still running into dead ends," Torris had said. "Still chasing our tales."

    "Though our bloody encounters against the hammers have been a lot fewer kid," said Garrakson with a sniff. "It seems that they have gone even further into hiding."

    "Hmmm, not surprising, in all honesty," I managed. "And it also seems that Brutis Bones is in, someway, involved with the Inquisition, which explains the organisation's funding as well as Taryst's paranoia. I had a slight suspicion, but when I went in there, I wasn't exactly expecting they'd have a frigging Arco Flagellant."

    "Fair enough," said Garrakson with another sniff; he didn't seem at all surprised at my conclusion. But he wasn't stupid; he would have at the very least guessed it also or, on a darker note, knew it.

    "Well, we'd better go," sighed Torris as he got off his seat. "We've still got to take our newest report to the big man himself."

    "Right," agreed Garrakson. "We can't keep him waiting in eager anticipation to hear more of our 'exploits'."

    "Garrakson, wait," I said, causing the ex-guardsman to halt his exit. "Do you truly think that an apology would be enough for Vex?"

    Garrakson smiled and shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not, kid, but it's something which is better than nothing."

    Then he turned to leave but once again, I stopped him.

    "Just one more thing, could you send in Elandria for me? Before you go, I need to talk to her."

    Garrakson looked to Torris, who shrugged and said, "I don't see why not, boss; we can spare a few minutes."

    The ex-guardsman sighed. "Sure, kid, but don't take too long; we all know that it will be tough, but we don't have all day to wait around for you to have your fun."

    I felt my face flush, and Torris sniggered in agreement, then they left.

    "We'll wait outside the medicae," I just managed to hear Garrakson inform this to Elandria before he shut the door behind him.

    I only had to wait a few seconds before Elandria entered.

    "What do you want?" she asked.

    "Could you please close the door, Elandria?" I croaked.

    She looked at me with a strange uncertainty, then she turned and hesitantly complied.

    "So now will you tell me what the hell is it you want?"

    "Thanks, El; I just have one thing I want to know. No, one thing I truly need to know, in the Twilight bar, what the hell exactly happened?"

    "Hah!" she exclaimed suddenly and with a resounding bitterness so potent it took my breath away. "Didn't the great Castella Lethe tell you when you first woke up? Or don't you trust even her now?"

    "I-I truly don't know who the hell to trust anymore," I admitted, my words sounding more strained with sadness than I had intended.

    "What did she actually say to cause you to be this...?" she trailed off.

    "Suspicious? She said that all of the people I had attempted to protect had survived that they all fled and had escaped the Arco Flagellant's wrath, but in all honesty, it seems far too good to be true; I just wish I could remember it."

    And the reason why I couldn't remember I could hazard a myriad amount of guesses on.

    She grinned. "Oh indeed, I guess that would be suspicious, but you know what? I'm not going to tell you."


    "Oh no, and you know why? Because you don't deserve it!" she suddenly closed on me from across the room so fast it made me flinch in surprise, and she brought her face so close to mine that our lips almost touched. Her expression was one of cold rage, and horrible fear gripped me as it seemed she was going to kill me, and I would be utterly incapable of defending myself.

    "What you did was beyond stupid," she hissed, and I could feel her spittle speck on my face. "To throw your life away like that out of some misguided self-righteousness just makes me sick, and for what? To save the lives of a group of pathetic nothings who you don't even know! For such complete and utter idiocy, I believe you need to be punished. In fact, I would have let you die for it, but for some reason, quite beyond me, mistress Glaitis wanted to keep you alive. No, I won't answer your question. I will let you lie here and writhe in your own uncertainty; it is the very least you deserve."

    It was then that the realisation hit me, and the pain of it was beyond description. "Glaitis put you up to this, didn't she?" I cried. "She had Castella tell me that, and she knew I wouldn't believe it! She knew that the disbelief would eat at me; this is the punishment for what I did, oh no! No!"

    That was cruel; even for Glaitis, it was cruel. Could this be the one reason why she had me saved, to torture me this way? What kind of people do I work for, who would do such a terrible thing?

    Elandria got back to full height and grinned that disturbing grin. "Maybe or I could just be doing this extracurricular, but that I won't answer as well. Oh, I do hope that you have your fun, Attelus Kaltos; I know I will."

    With that, she turned and walked away, ignoring me as my desperation overwhelmed my pain as I writhed in my sheets and pleaded out after her impervious back; "please don't do this, please don't be this cruel Elandria, please Elandria. Please! Elandria! Elandriaaa!"

    Her only reply was the slamming door, leaving me all alone once more.

    This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/04/15 21:19:29

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    For a long time afterwards, unrelenting agony swept through me from head to toe.

    I could barely breathe, my vision blurred as tears welled in my eyes, but otherwise, I stayed silent, never did I whine or complain, determined that I would not show such weakness just in case they bugged the room. I had already shown enough weakness as it was. I had moved far too much and now dealing with the consequence that was all I seemed to do lately, dealing with retribution in one way or form, perhaps it wasn't actually for my actions at the Twilight Bar the reason why Glaitis was putting me through this hell? Perhaps it was for what I did to Vex?

    But why would Elandria have said it was for what I did at the Twilight Bar? In all honesty, I could not imagine it was about the Vex incident; the term 'selflessness' was the very anathema of Glaitis' soul. Sure, you were expected to sacrifice yourself for the contract. Still, only after it was fulfilled, before that you were supposed to resort to anything and everything to win, and we still had yet to hunt down Brutis Bones and so, contract unfulfilled as simple as that.

    I had faced down the Arco Flagellant without giving a single thought of what would happen if I somehow had survived. That wasn't just punishment; this was Glaitis' cruel attempt at teaching me a lesson, that such kind actions would lead to nothing but pain and misery. Again, it was the brainwashing; she was trying to break my spirit, turn me into a monster like Darrance, like Elandria, like my father, like her.

    She was putting so much effort into my indoctrination, which I still couldn't understand; why was I so damned special? As Elandria said in the eyes of any assassin, excluding Castella, what I did in the Twilight Bar was idiotic, beyond idiotic; shouldn't that act be enough to make Glaitis believe me a liability not worth any more effort and leave me to die?

    Was all this because of who my father was? Serghar frigging Kaltos was it that she believed his immense skill and ability was hereditary, and perhaps it even was. Still, surely she could have taken an apprentice of a younger age, which would be far easier to brainwash and would be less likely to suffer any crisis of conscience. She took me in when I was eighteen, which is ridiculously old for any starting apprentice. Children, usually as young as five or at the oldest ten, were the typical age for assassin training; perhaps she believed my father had brainwashed me already? Or being forced to scavenge and murder among the ruins of Varander during the Chaos incursion destroyed any semblance of my humanity. Well, if she counted one of those she was wrong on either, I could not help feeling some pride in.

    As I had said earlier, I had always found it impossible to understand Glaitis, and just as I was beginning to believe I finally had her pegged, she pulls this stunt. It seemed trying to understand how the woman's mind worked was akin to understanding the infinite miasma, which was the warp. Like the immaterium, I suspected that it would drive one insane in the process.

    I sighed, and that act brought back the pain; I was buried so deep in my thoughts; it had acted somewhat as anaesthesia. I grasped out for the alarm hanging from my fluid feeder with a lack of coordination I couldn't believe, and I felt more and more depressed with each missed grab; now it was beginning to sink in that my once swift coordinated hands were lost, maybe even forever. I dared not even think how long it would take for me to earn back such skill if I ever could. I needed to summon someone, anyone, to my aid. I could not lie here with this pain any longer. But I could not help wonder why no one had come to check on me after I had screamed at Elandria.

    Finally, my bandaged fingers found the button, my thumb pressing down with all the strength I could muster, and perhaps I had pushed for a bit too long, but I wasn't in the condition to care.

    I lay back in my bed, gasping for breath, my tear-blurred eyes gazing up at the eternally white tiled ceiling, and I only had to wait a few seconds before my door opened and someone stepped through. I was not sure who, as all, I could make out was a white blur.

    "Mr Kaltos!" cried the man who I could only assume to be medicae Feuilt as he ran to my bedside. "Oh, God-Emperor! I need help in here, now!" he roared, and I had no idea why there was so much urgency in his voice. I was just in pain; I was always in pain; what could be so bad? But I could not think on it any longer as suddenly darkness took me once more into its sweet embrace.

    I dreamt again, though, unlike my last; I was aware it was a dream; the first portion was a sparring match of unarmed combat, non-contact against a beautiful young woman with long brunette hair who I knew was Elandria.

    I was winning quite convincingly, leading her attention with quick high hooks, jabs, and crosses, allowing my low and medium kicks to bypass her defences with ease.

    She was smiling and laughing in utter, genuine joy that I would never see from the real Elandria; even though she was losing and my own heart sang with happiness, I felt alive. I felt free; it was intoxicating. I could do this forever, but as I knew this was a dream, I also felt horrible heartache, knowing that she would never be this way in the real world.

    But at times, my sparring partner would briefly, inexplicably transform; sometimes she was Glaitis, sometimes she was Castella, sometimes an attractive blonde woman who I had never seen before. Always one of those four and with each switch, I would feel my emotion change, from Glaitis I would feel suspicion of such strength it made me sick to my stomach, with Castella came to a strange uncertainty my heart turned into ice and leapt it in my chest but not in a fearful way. It seemed to bring even more happiness than when it was Elandria. When it was a bizarre feeling that was alien to the blond woman from her and me, I felt fear, the great fear that made my attacks sluggish and my feet heavy but also an extreme familiarity. Like I had known her for my entire life, but yet I had not, what I felt from her was the strangest of them all.

    Then I dreamt that I was back on Elbyra, once more a scavenging orphan among the ruins of Varander, I was so heavy and ached all over, every footstep being a horribly fought battle against screaming limbs, I wanted to stop to sit and rest, but my body moved with a life of its own. My eyesight boarded with white, and I couldn't raise my attention; it was fixated inexplicably down to my feet, and the rubble which I walked over and I felt my mouth move but could not hear any words from my lips.

    I had dreams. No, I had nightmares many, many times when living in the ruins of Varander. Nightmares which I could only suspect to be repressed memories of the horrid acts I committed in my desperate fight for survival, acts that I could never, ever admit of doing to anyone. But here I could remember them all, my mind sifting through them like a pict reel. My eyes burnt, and tears flowed freely down my face, and my sanity slowly degraded away.

    I begged for the images to stop! I pleaded! I even prayed! But they would just keep coming over and over again, seemingly with more glee as though my mind did it to spite me, and still my body kept walking over the debris, left foot, right foot, left foot right and despite it being a dream, I could feel my bare feet meet the cold, hard rockcrete.

    Then I fought, I began to fight against my body and my mind with every ounce of my will. It was like trying to stop a ship spinning out of control through the black nothingness of time and space, but I never halted. I resisted and resisted for what felt like hours then days ignoring the images which forever flipped through my mind's eye. But for every second I fought, I felt more pain until it transcended into unimaginable agony. My mind and my body seemed to scream to say that the suffering would stop if I just stopped resisting, but I kept fighting and fighting, never giving up, for I knew that if I didn't, I would be stuck in this hell forevermore.

    Finally, my feet slowly, slowly, painfully came to a halt and immediately I collapsed, falling onto my face and gasping out for breath and agony. Then the images stopped, and my pain: forgotten, replaced with such joy that I got to my knees roaring out to the heavens; it was the first time seeing the sky, which was so crisp, so blue, so beautiful that it took my breath away and I wept.

    I had won! Although I was not sure what I had won precisely, then the sky disappeared, and everything faded into a shining eternal white.

    The shining, eternal white turned slowly receded into the white-tiled ceiling of the medicae facility, and my sight cleared further, revealing the three faces looking down at me, each expression hidden behind medical masks. Still, I could make out the concern from their eyes; they were saying something, something I could not hear.

    I wanted to laugh, smile to say that their fear was unwarranted that I was fine but found myself unable to do anything; then I felt my eyelids grow heavy, and I blinked once, then twice, and the third stayed shut. I slept, but this time I did not dream; all I saw was the peaceful nothingness of black.

    Never had I slept so soundly, never had I felt so at peace.

    I also had a deep sense of satisfaction. I had earned this rest after going through that hell; I had more than made it.

    But somewhere out in that thick black, I could hear voices barely audible at first, but it was similar to Castella's prayer; the voices seemed to slowly approach, closer and closer until I could listen to the conversation.

    Two voices, one which I recognised instantly belonged to Glaitis I could tell without a shadow of a doubt; her tone was haughty and deathly cold, even more so than usual and sent shivers up my spine.

    "Did he pass your test?" demanded Glaitis.

    "Yes," answered the other, the voice was distinctly female, as soft as silk and echoed ominously. It was alien and monotone but held indescribable wisdom; just from that one word, I could tell the speaker held knowledge of the forbidden so much so that it would drive anyone else insane. "He has remarkable willpower for a M-."

    "Don't you dare call us that!" snarled Glaitis with such rage it made me flinch. "We are neither your pawns nor anyone else's!"

    "Your position here seems to contradict your words, Glaitis human; you are but a pawn of fate as is everyone else. I am but fate's messenger I exist to make sure all will run its intended course, for I am the only one with strength and tact enough to do so."

    Glaitis let out a growl of frustration which was so out of character I wasn't sure what to think.

    "You are just as arrogant as the rest of you're kind!" she roared.

    "Do not pretend to be able to lecture me on arrogance, human," said the voice as though scolding a child. "You cannot imagine what I know, what I have seen, what I have done you are but a mere child; you are like all your kind! Nothing! It isn't arrogance to state so; it is a fact, simple fact."

    I listened in shock; I wasn't sure if this was real or just a dream; perhaps these two talked at my bedside? I tried to force myself to be awake but found I was unable, as though my eyes were weighed shut.

    "Y-you almost killed him," stammered Glaitis and I had never heard her sound so weak and timid. "Your test almost lost you, your newest pawn."

    "But that is all he is," said the voice, and I could almost feel the contemptuous sneer with the words. "A pawn to use as I please, it is all in the name of fate, and even if he dies, I still have you, do I not?"

    "Y-yes," sighed Glaitis, utterly defeated. "Yes, you do."

    What was this? Who or what was it that could speak to Glaitis with such influence and power? Had Glaitis made pacts with the ruinous powers? Why the hell did I hear all this?

    But worst of all, I felt with sickening certainty that they were talking about me.

    "It is good that you learn your place," said the extremely tall, thin form as it seemingly materialised out of the black. Its armour was esoteric, form-fitting and utterly intimidating. From its alien shaped helm, two small, glowing, lifeless red eyes seemed to stare straight at me, piercing into my very soul.

    Glaitis had shown me picts and taught me of them, but I had never seen one with my own eyes, an Eldar!

    "Now you see what your 'mentor' indeed is Mon'Keigh, see how she is nought but my servant," it said. "You will follow in her footsteps as fate decrees, as I decree it to be."

    With a cry, I awoke and sat bolt upright in my bed.

    I was back in the real world, back in the medicae facility, back to the pain.

    But yet, no agony swept through me like fire. I was okay.

    I raised my hand to my face and flexed my fingers, expecting that the movement would cause the pain to shoot back, but again nothing. Was I healed?

    But how? Perhaps I was unconscious during the entire estimated month of recovery? Glaitis' voice had said that the Eldar's 'test' had almost killed me perhaps that was the dreams, perhaps that was what caused me to fall into a coma?

    With the thought of Glaitis, I closed my fist and clenched my teeth as sudden rage curdled within my slight form.

    I needed to talk to my erstwhile mentor; I needed to know what I had heard was only a dream! But deep within me, I knew that it wasn't that what I had witnessed was true.

    I was no Imperial zealot; my ideals did not adhere to the rampant xenophobia with the rest of the Imperium. But if the Inquisition were to ever find out about our mercenary force working in cohesion with the Eldar, there would be no escape; they would hunt us down without mercy and crush us underfoot.

    How could Glaitis be capable of such idiocy! How!? What could drive her to become a servant of the Eldar, and why was I to 'follow in her footsteps'?

    I needed to talk to her, I needed to hear the answer from her full lips, and I began to clamber out of bed, still half expecting the pain with the movement.

    But then the door suddenly opened, and my jaw dropped as I saw who stepped through.

    It was Glaitis.

    "M-mamzel?" I stammered, completely unable to hide my bemusement, but it was then that the explanation why Glaitis had allied with the Eldar just suddenly became painfully clear.

    Farsight, Glaitis craved control of her fate and that of everyone else. But I never imagined that she would go to such an extreme scope for that control, but it explains oh so much like how she could be so far ahead of enemies seemingly able to pull through with perfect, convoluted schemes and who was more skilled; at such power than the Eldar? Though in the ironies of ironies, she had no control now at all, the Eldar was her complete and utterly undisputed master.

    She was just as much a slave as I was.

    "Child, I see that you are finally awake; I came down to see your condition."

    I stayed silent, feeling my jaw set ever so slightly, wondering why she had used such a weak lie.

    She moved across the room to my nearby window and closed the shutters with an abrupt, Clack!

    "I am sure that you have questions-."

    "What happened," I interrupted with such force in my voice that it took me by surprise. "I need to know what the hell happened in the Twilight bar!"

    A look of terrified shock appeared on Glaitis' face but was gone as quickly as it came. An empty smile replaced it.

    I took note of that expression; I could hazard a myriad amount of guesses as to the reasoning behind it.

    "I am not even sure if you will believe anything that I say about that young one," she said almost tenderly. "You did not believe Castella; why would you believe anything that I would say?"

    My eyes widened; she did indeed have a point. Why would I believe her even if she told the truth? At times like this, I truly wished I could read minds.

    "You have finally learned the truth, young Attelus, 'trust nothing, suspect everything' you may have known those words, but now you understand the true wisdom behind them, it is the only way to live in this world you are almost an assassin you are almost there."

    I sighed. "If that is the only way to live, then...Really what is the point of living?"

    Glaitis threw back her head and abruptly burst out laughing, which caused me to flinch in fright.

    "Ahhh, this is the consequence of taking an apprentice who is so old, so self-righteous, so stubborn. That is the one thing in this world which is in no short order of young one "the point in living" to some their service to the Emperor is their point," and I could hear a slight undertone of bitterness at her mention of 'The Emperor.' "Some serve the ruinous powers; some serve for the good of humanity; your 'point' is to serve me."

    "So that is it?" I cried. "The only point is to serve another? But they serve because they believe what they do is right! How can I serve you when I can't trust you?"

    Her expression turned as hard as steel. "Because you know the consequences if you do not, you have seen the consequences if you do not a-"

    "A fate worse than death," I finished, my eyes widening in fear.

    "I saved you Attelus Xanthis Kaltos, I took you in, I have given you purpose just remember that, and also do not be so naïve that only trust and belief are what drive them, just like you they have a fear of consequence."

    "Yes, yes I know," I sighed, Exterminatus the destruction of an entire planet that was the ultimate consequence and that was the first which came to my mind, but I could not help but wonder with a glance at Glaitis.

    What is your purpose? What is it that drives you?

    Glaitis turned and began to walk to the door. "That is all I have to say, young one. I encourage you to think about my words and-"Then the realisation hit me.

    "There are other purposes that I can think on for living," I interrupted. Internally cursing as I realised that I had never once wondered what exactly the relationship between my father and she was; all that she had said was she knew Serghar Kaltos on a 'personal level'. "How about...Revenge being one?"

    That made her suddenly halt in her exit, her hand still laid on the doorknob.

    I smiled; now I was finally unravelling this woman after that dream; I knew she was human and not some all-powerful, all-knowing being.

    She was like every other human, flawed and idiotic.

    "Yes, young one, that is another purpose indeed," her voice was halting as though barely keeping back anger. "After the medicae checks you out, you are to report to Hayden immediately for briefing; he is on the fifth floor of my tower, don't keep him waiting."

    With those words, she closed the door leaving me all alone.

    So this was all about my father, and this confirmation brought in all new and very interesting revelations about why she had taken me in; perhaps she was using me as a hostage? Or as bait? It also explains why she was so eager to keep me alive, but why train me? Wouldn't it be easier to keep me in a cell or something?

    Was it all just about Serghar Kaltos? Or was there more something more? Surely not just revenge would have enough inertia to drive mamzel Glaitis into cooperation with Xenos?

    I sighed and silently swore that I would answer these questions no matter the price.

    This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2021/04/15 21:54:33

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    I paused just outside the entrance of Glaitis' tower, my hands inside the pockets of my flak jacket, a smoking Lho stick hanging out the corner of my mouth. It was good to finally get out of bed, out of that hospital, away from the stench of disinfectant mixed with crap. It was nice to escape into the day, and as if to make it even more cliché, it was raining.

    While looking up at the overcast sky, my thoughts wandered. According to good medicae Feuilt, I had barely been in a coma for two days. Still, Feuilt had said earlier that I had yet another's month's rest before I could be at peak performance, and despite this, the medicae had given me a clean bill of health, much to his evident bemusement.

    Even more interesting was that barely moments after Feuilt had answered my call for aide, my heart almost immediately stopped; the medical staff had worked for a good half an hour to try to revive me but to no avail. Then just after they had given up, my heart seemed to start back up again mysteriously; my eyes opened, and then I fell into deep unconsciousness. That was the second time I had come close to dying, it seemed...Cheap.

    So it seemed that was what Glaitis had mentioned in my dream; the Eldar's test having apparently 'almost killed me' perhaps me managing to stop that walk through the ruins of Elbyra was signifying my escape from death's door.

    I shivered, once again recalling the images that I had seen and quickly forcing them from my mind.

    That was a time of my life I would rather forget, but now, that Xenos had dredged it up from the far recesses of my subconscious and, for what? Some test? What kind of sick creature would put someone through that?

    I could still recall what the Eldar had said to Glaitis, its thoughts on humanity as a whole. For the first time, I actually felt sorry for my mentor; having to commune with such a creature would be beyond my comprehension, and then it said that it wanted me to follow in Glaitis' footsteps.

    My wet, long brown hair was now in my eyes, and I was forced to brush it from my face. Never would I ever ally with the Eldar, never would I willingly do something so idiotic after what it had put me through, after seeing first hand its horrific arrogance and disregard for humanity.

    I lowered my head and sighed out smoke, taking them almost all the way smoked Lho with thumb and forefinger, dropping it to the rockcrete, then stamping it out with the tip of my shoe.

    "Time to get this over and damn well done with," I muttered while walking through the automatic sliding doors simultaneously, my hands instinctively slipping back into their respective pockets.

    I rode the elevator up, spending the entire time tapping the tip of my shoe on the floor impatiently.

    It was more due to the cravings, the consequence of over a month without a smoke, already I had burnt through six Lhos on my walk over here, but that didn't seem enough, frig it.

    One thing that had also taken my notice as I collected my belongings when leaving Taryst's tower was that I noticed the distinct absence of Colonel Barhurst.

    When I asked the colonel's second, major Olinthre, he answered that Barhurst was sent away on recruitment duties. That it was a recurring thing that the great colonel would every six months annually leave for two more to search for new members for Taryst's private army.

    When I pointed out that it seemed unorthodox for the colonel himself to act as the recruiter, Olinthre just shrugged and said, "Hey, it's always been that way, kid and hell, you won't hear me complaining; about it."

    I nodded my thanks and left; this proved to be yet another interesting development, yes. Was it a mere coincidence that our little incursion against the Twilight Bar just happened to coincide with Barhurst's leave of absence? But why? He wasn't at all a threat to us, and so I was unable to fathom the reasoning behind it, but I knew with every fibre of my being that it wasn't a coincidence; there was no such thing in this line of work.

    After what seemed to be forever, the elevator finally found the fifth floor, and I stepped out the double doors.

    "You're late," said Hayden Tresch; he was a big man, standing well over two metres and built like an Astartes. Like Torris, he was once an Arbitrator. Still, unlike Torris, his demeanour was one which I could imagine an Arbitrator possessing, a no-nonsense professional attitude and a ruthless one at that.

    How he had left the Arbites to become an assassin working under Glaitis, I had no idea, but I knew that he had been with Glaitis straight from the very start and was the oldest in our organisation.

    From what I knew, he was at least a decade older than my erstwhile mentor, and ironically for a person of such large stature, he was a sniper and the best I have ever seen. I could only assume that such a stony resolve would be a great contributor to that line of work as quite a few snipers I have met and a few I have killed seem to adhere to this temperament.

    He was also a very skilled hacker but was nothing compared to Vex.

    I winced, just remembering that I had yet to see the kid to apologise.

    I liked Hayden. I could not help but respect his hardline attitude, but he had a softer side which he let reign from time to time; he reminded me of Garrakson, a version of Garrakson, which was a whole lot grimmer and harder anyway.

    The other waiting in the hallway made me frown and furrow my brow; it was Darrance who sneered in contempt when he saw me, and sometimes I could swear he looked more feminine than many actual women I knew.

    "Why, it's good to see you to Hayden," I said.

    The ex Arbiter smiled ever so slightly, but Darrance sniffed loudly, then his attention snapped straight at me, his face as hard as a stone.

    "You've been smoking," he stated.

    I sighed; Darrance must have been in love with Glaitis or something as he followed her every order to the letter and will reinforce this with an almost fanatism, which is ironic as Tresch would allow for far more leeway, and he was an ex Arbitrator.

    "The mistress has a strict policy against the smoking of Lho, for which everyone must adhere!"

    Now it was Tresch's turn to sigh. "Give the kid a break, Darrance; after what he went through, I think he is entitled to it just this once, but Attelus, just make sure none of us actually catch you do it or else-"

    "Or else you will have no choice but to bring it to Glaitis' knowledge," I finished. "Fair enough, and thank you for the leeway."

    Although, in all likelihood, Glaitis knew well of my recently resurfaced habit.

    In that instance, I could not help wonder if anyone else working for Glaitis knew of her ally, which I did indeed doubt it, but out of all of us, Hayden would. As I stated earlier, he was the most longest serving in our organisation. Also, how long precisely has she been allied with the Xenos anyway?

    I pushed away these thoughts; there would be time to dwell on them later.

    "So Glaitis said for me to come here for briefing."

    "That is 'mamzel' Glaitis to you, apprentice," said Darrance. "And yes, we are here to brief you. Let us get this farce over and done with, shall we? We have an interesting development from the Twilight Bar incident that the mistress thinks you may find interesting. However, I do not know what you could ever possibly attribute is beyond me."

    My jaw set ever so slightly. "And what is this 'development' exactly?" I asked.

    "That is exactly what it is, apprentice," said Darrance. "A development. No more, no less you will see what it is soon enough."

    "Wouldn't it be better to be briefed on what it is I am about to see before being shown it?" I pointed out.

    Darrance raised his finger, about to argue but was interrupted by Tresch as he chuckled.

    "Yes, Glaitis mentioned that we are to 'brief' you didn't she?" he said. "Let's just say we want it to be a surprise, okay?"

    "Actually, she said that just you were just to brief me, without Darrance."

    Darrance sneered at the slight but did nothing more.

    Tresch shook his head. "Alright enough, smart mouthing from you, kid, I'm not sure I can stop Darrance if he decides to try slice you to ribbons; let's move on, kid."

    We walked on, through the thin, poorly lit corridors Tresch in the middle, Darrance and me on his left and right flanks.

    "Attelus, so how much of your one-man storm of the Twilight Bar do you remember exactly?" asked Tresch lightly.

    "I remember most of it, except what happened after the Arco-flagellant charged me; everything after that is a complete blank."

    "And so," said Darrance. "Then you remember that it was your own stupidity that led to your horrific injury, that mistress Glaitis' is your master that she has far more experience and intelligence than you will ever have, do not disobey her again for she always knows what to do, she has never lead us astray."

    I sighed; as much as I hated to admit it, Darrance had a point, but he had no idea just how true his words were. It was then that I couldn't help wonder; some people worshipped the Emperor, some people worship the Ruinous powers, some people worshipped money; I suspected that Darrance adored Glaitis, oh if only he knew the truth if he knew what I knew.

    Finally, we reached the corridors' end; two guards stood on sentry at both ex-Imperial guard veterans, both under Glaitis employment. Our organisation may revolve around assassins, but we had a small contingent of just over five hundred mercenaries for basic sentry work.

    Both the poor bastards looked bored out of their skulls, but if anything, Glaitis paid them well, and it was an easy job so they wouldn't complain.

    They nodded respectfully to Tresch; then, one opened the door for us.

    We walked into a small room, the walls metallic and reinforced like a holding cell and through a panel of single-sided glass, I could see a slightly larger room; Castella stood with her back to us as she stared intently into the other room.

    She looked over her shoulder and treated us with a smile.

    "Good to see you're up, Attelus," she said.

    I nodded and smiled back about to reply but cut myself short as I saw what the other room contained; One man sat alone tied up to a chair; he was haggard, old and beaten to a bloody pulp.

    I approached the window, gaping shock; the wounds were brutal and would scare him for life, the torture this poor man had been through I could not imagine.

    "You don't recognise him?" asked Tresch as he stepped up beside me.

    "No," I said softly. "Should I?"

    "He was the one you fought in the Twilight bar," said Castella. "He was wearing a full-face helmet, so I don't blame you for not knowing."

    I turned to her, my eyes wide with shock at the razor-sharp edge in her voice and almost immediately, her attention went straight to the floor.

    "Even if he hadn't worn a helmet, I doubt that I could recognise him now. How? How did you capture him?"

    "He attempted to escape through a secret passage in the bar," said Darrance. "Mistress Glaitis herself was waiting outside and accosted him there; she revealed that she knew of the exit from the schematics but chose to keep it a secret."

    Well, I knew that there could be yet another reason how she knew, but I kept such thoughts to myself.

    "It's obvious now that mamzel Glaitis wasn't intending at all for us to plant the bugs," I said. "That it was a ploy so she could capture this man."

    But that wasn't just it. I was utterly sure, and I suspected it would in some way or another coincide with the absence of Barhurst.

    "Good deduction Attelus," said Castella. "We have made the same conclusion also."

    I smiled, savouring the compliment.

    "But one thing I don't understand is if the infiltration of this bar was extracurricular, away from Taryst's devices, why are we still under his employment?" I said. "Wouldn't he have been pissed that we went behind his back?"

    Darrance shrugged. "Maybe the mistress had actually informed master Taryst of it and told us otherwise; we are assassins; we are only told no more than what we need to know."

    "Hmmm," was my only reply as I placed my finger and thumb onto my chin in thought; it was a valid point and one that I have considered, but somehow I doubted it, and again my thoughts reeled back to the coincidental pre-ordained absence of colonel Barhurst.

    One thing that was also interesting as to why I was shown this I did not know if I still had the implant in my brain or not; perhaps the psyker which Glaitis had brought in to heal me also got rid of it, but surely his psykers would have noticed that? Perhaps it was still there, and this was because of a new, more open alliance between the two? Or it could be as Darrance said that Glaitis had actually informed Taryst of our espionage of the club, and they were in a more open alliance than they had insinuated right from the start?

    "So you want me to talk to this man?" I asked, deciding not to reveal my thoughts to my colleagues, not yet anyway.

    "Yes," said Tresch. "We've been talking to him over the past month but has yet to reveal any reliable information, and as you well know, we are sure he is a Throne agent of some form, so his mind will be blocked from any psychic intrusion. "

    "We also never revealed anything on your condition to him," said Castella. "I bet that he will be shocked to see you up and about."

    I could not help grinning at that.

    "Alright, send me in," I said.

    I stepped into the interrogation room, and as I closed the door, the man suddenly started, spluttering into consciousness so abruptly it made me flinch in fright.

    His back was facing me, and he attempted to turn his head to try to see who had entered.

    "What the hell is it now?" growled the man, his voice horrifically horse but whistled slightly due to a severely broken nose. "Is that teal haired bitch come back to beat on me again?"

    I was approaching him as he said this, but the words causing me to stop in mid-stride although I couldn't see the three assassins standing watch, I turned to face the one-way glass anyway my eyes wide jaw hung open, expressing the deep shock I felt.

    Castella did all this? She was the one who had beaten this man so brutally?

    That would have been something that I would expect from Darrance and even Tresch, but Castella?

    Perhaps my disbelief in her claim of me saving all those people in the Twilight bar was inherently justified. Perhaps she wasn't at all who I thought she was; I have seen some gruesome things in my very short life, but what they did to this throne agent was hard for even me to stomach.

    Tearing my attention back to the brutalised man, I felt something I would not have expected to feel.

    I felt truly and utterly sorry for him; I had expected to be angry, to hate the person who had ruthlessly let loose the Arco Flagellant to slaughter me and to cover his escape, but in all honesty, I could understand it. He had a mission to complete, although one I did not know and if the stakes whereas high as he seemed to believe them to be, once again, it came down to the saying "anything and everything to win." He, too, was a professional like me, but there was one huge difference between us; he was doing a job which, in his view, was right and true. I am not, yet now here he was, trapped, beaten and unable to do what he needed to.

    I could not help but wonder how he felt; it seemed that so much hung the balance for him was he not just defiant outwardly but actually genuinely? Or perhaps he was actually terrified and depressed? Scared that his capture would invariably lead to his mission to fail?

    This I wondered because in all my life I had never known real conviction, I worked, and that was that, never did I ever believe in any 'cause' it was the job and only the job to get it done and move on, that this throne agent's world seemed so foreign it almost alien to me.

    That was the way of the mercenary, and to be honest, to say that it was quite depressing really is an understatement of breathtaking scale.

    "Who's there? Stop hiding whoever the hell you are!" the man yelled, struggling in his bonds.

    Without any word, I moved into his field of vision, holding the water flask that Tresh had given me up to the man's face, and he drank from the straw greedily, his eyes too black and swollen to make out who I was.

    I was unsure what to say; never before had I actively taken part in any interrogation, a few I have witnessed, but that was all; taking away the flask, I finally said: "I survived, you know."

    The man's attention snapped straight up at me as he obviously recognised my voice, but I couldn't make out any expression; then, he shook his head and spat blood out on the floor.

    "Well, goody for you," he said bitterly.

    I was not so sure if it was actually 'goody for me.'

    "I'm sorry for what my colleague did to you," I said.

    "Well, your sorry isn't going to affect anything, kid," replied the man. "I know that this is the how the world spins. I'm a professional; I know this is all part of the job."

    Then he wheezed out what I could only guess to be a laugh. "Maybe next time, I should try to negotiate my contract."

    "That would indeed be wise," I agreed, and I could not help but feel an edge of respect for the old man. "And in all honesty, I am not sure that we will ever wean any information from you; you seem to be a man of conviction that so much so that you would rather die than give us whatever we want."

    "You're a smart kid," he said. "But your 'colleagues' don't seem to agree."

    I looked sidelong at the one-way glass. "No, I guess they wouldn't."

    "Or that or they know it but choose to avoid the fact," said the man.

    "Or that," I said. "But can I ask a question?"

    The man's nose whistled as he attempted to sniff. "Kid, do I look like I capable of keeping you from asking it? Although I do still hold the ability not to answer, so I am not going to guarantee you will get one."

    I paused, not sure how to word it at first.

    "W-what is it like?" I could only stammer.

    The man sighed. "What is what like, kid?"

    "What is it like to, I don't know, to be a person of conviction? What is it like to be a person to believe in something so much that they would willingly die for it?"

    What seemed to be incredulity crossed the man's beaten features, "that was the very last question I guessed that you would ask."

    "Answer or don't answer," I said impatiently. "As you said, it is still your choice."

    "It is," said the man. "And I will answer but on one condition."

    "What is it?" I growled.

    "Before you said that 'whatever we want' as if you didn't know what I was being interrogated for, is that true?"

    I frowned, bemused. "Did I say that?" I shrugged. "Well, it is really 'whatever we want' as I don't know if you are actually Brutis Bones or not, I know that if you weren't, my colleagues would be interrogating you to find out where he is."

    "And if I was Brutis Bones?" queried the man.

    I smacked my lips, realising that I didn't actually know. "I could hazard a guess," I admitted hesitantly, or thousands I thought sourly. "Why do you ask?"

    "No reason," said the man lightly. "And now I will answer your question, and the answer is, I really don't know."


    "Kid, in truth, I have always been this way. I have always believed that the God-Emperor knows what is best for humanity, that in my service to the Holy Inquisition, I can truly aid in that plan, to be this person of "conviction" as you call it is as natural to me as breathing. So asking me that is like me asking you what is it like to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide."

    "Well, that's," I trailed off, scratching my head, "well, that's anticlimactic; who the hell are you anyway?"

    "No one of consequence."

    "I must know."

    "Get used to disappointment."

    "Hmm, okay."

    "Actually, I lie," said the man. "Because you are a strange one, I will give you information, information that I have so far kept hidden from your associates, and I only give it because you might already know it."

    "What is it then?"

    "Your boss Taryst holds someone captive, someone of great influence."

    I would have asked 'who?' but did not want to give away I didn't know.

    The man smiled with gapped teeth and those still in were cracked and loose.

    "He holds in that tower of his my superior, my Inquisitor's Interrogator; he has kept her prisoner right from the beginning of this debacle."

    I tried to keep my expression neutral and glanced to the reflective glass, then my microbead buzzed, and Tresch's voice came through.

    "Attelus, get out here now."

    I nodded and moved to leave; then the man asked, "Hey, where are you going, kid?"

    "Thank you for the information, No One of Consequence," I said. "But now I have more pressing issues to attend to."

    "You really didn't know, did you?" I heard the man say just before I closed the door.

    I stepped into the observation room, my attention to the floor. I sighed and slipped my hands into their pockets.

    "Is he actually Brutis Bones?" I asked.

    "No," answered Tresch. "We don't believe he is."

    "I thought as much," I sighed again. "And Tresch, sir, did you look at the schematics of the Twilight bar when you took them from the local database?"

    "No, when mamzel Glaitis ordered me to get them, she also ordered that I could not look directly into the file."

    "Hmm right," I looked up and saw both Tresch and Darrance were there to greet me, but Castella was strangely absent.

    "Uhm, where did Castella go?"

    Both Darrance and Tresch briefly looked sidelong at one another; the glance seemed to be almost nervous.

    "She left apprentice," answered Darrance impatiently. "Are we now finished with your line of inquiry yet?"

    I looked at them both, bewildered, wondering why they had such a strange reaction about Castella's absence. "N-no, w-what the hell are we to do with this new information?"

    "Why, nothing apprentice," said Darrance simply.

    "What?" I snapped. "If what he says is true, we could-"

    "Taryst is our employer," interrupted Darrance. "While I agree this information is valuable and I have no doubt, this 'No One of Consequence' is telling the truth, you forget that we are still under Taryst's employ, who he holds and doesn't hold captive is his own business and what are we going to make of it? Go up to Taryst in his tower and demand that he confirms this accusation?"

    "But!" I tried.

    "I agree with Darrance, kid," said Tresch. "This information is something to lean on; we know it, and that is enough for now."

    With a sigh and a frown, I said, "yeah, I guess you're right."

    "Of course we are right, apprentice," said Darrance. "You seem to forget that we have been in this game a lot longer than you have."

    Tapping my shoe against the floor, I finally asked the question I have had one hell of a time to dredge up the courage to ask them.

    "Uhm, can you tell me what the hell exactly happen in the Twilight bar?"

    Both Darrance and Tresch glanced at one another again, and then it was Tresch's turn to sigh.

    "Sorry, kid," he said. 'But we're under strict orders not to tell you."

    "Hmm, right," I said, finding myself utterly unsurprised, and I clenched my jaw.

    The awkward silence must have lasted no more than ten seconds before Tresch finally broke it.

    "You're dismissed, by the way, Attelus," he said. "Get back to you're hab unit, and we will contact you when we need you, is that understood?"

    I nodded as that was all I could manage and turned to leave, but as I did, Tresch said at my back.

    "By the way, good work on the interrogation, kid."

    I stopped in my tracks, my back still facing away and felt a smile spread across my face. To be complemented by Tresch in such a way was something to be proud of.

    "Th-thanks," I said, and I walked out the door.

    I didn't go to my apartment, instead electing to go back to Taryst's tower. There was still that specific promise I had to keep, and I had every intention to see it through, despite the nerves playing hell on my guts.

    In all honesty, I understood why Tresch and Darrance would sit on this information, but neither of them seemed particularly surprised they could have known or didn't care either one would not surprise me at all.

    Sighing to myself, I turned off the main street into one of the many alleyways leading to Taryst's tower. Having decided to take the long route around, but something didn't feel right; ever since I had left Glaitis' tower, I could not shake the feeling that I was being watched.

    I paused to look over my shoulder, finding that once again no one was there; shrugging to myself, I turned to continue but immediately froze in my tracks as I saw the figure appear right at the other end of the alleyway.

    I flicked my wrist, ejecting a throwing knife from its sleeve into my hand. So my paranoia was justified after all. Could this be one of Brutis Bones' mooks?

    There was one way to find out, and I began to walk toward the person, he was in shadow, but I could make out that he stood at just under two metres tall and built like an Astartes could it be Tresch who had tracked me here to tell me off for now following his orders.

    I made a few more metres when three more figures joined the original in blocking my path, and I glanced over my shoulder to see, to minimal surprise, four more were beginning to approach from the other entrance. I could see now that they were all wearing expensive black suits with no gang markings or anything at all.

    But they had yet to draw a weapon on me, interesting.

    Now the others at the end began to advance on me; they were all brimming with confidence, so sure of themselves well that wasn't entirely unjustified as there were eight of them.

    I activated my microbead to call for backup, but my only reply was white noise.

    Hissing a curse, I stopped; now they were close all eight they had me surrounded, and I had no way of getting any reinforcement, but in all honesty, I relished this a test of my abilities after my recovery.

    I grinned. "So, you guys come here often?"

    They didn't answer to my quip only kept on approaching all with stony expressions.

    "Hmmm," I shrugged and, without hesitation, threw my knife straight into one of the nearest man's throat, and he fell to the floor gurgling, dying.

    The rest didn't seem to notice as they stopped their dogged advance and one by one drew their weapons; all of them wielded axes, small woodchoppers that would be easy to conceal and potentially do a whole lot of harm, the smart bastards.

    One attacked, with a cry, he lunged, sweeping out his axe at my skull.

    Despite my month-long recovery, despite what I went through, my body never forgot; in the blink of an eye, my sword was drawn and blocking his attack. I glimpsed an expression of incredulity spread across his face.

    Three more followed their mate before I could counter, swinging at me with their respective axes.

    I parried a vertical swing, ducked under another, and I sidestepped the third.

    With a laugh of delight and the blood singing in my veins, I ejected another throwing knife from my sleeve as another two came at me. One axe slashing down at me, the other following around horizontally, I parried them both with quick-fire movements with my sword.

    One followed on with a front kick aimed at my chest, but I countered, slipping away from the attack and by stabbing my knife straight into his thigh, the man screamed in agony, but before I could do anything more, the rest of his buddies were onto me.

    I swayed under one swinging axe and smacked away another flurry of attacks, all from individual opponents.

    One assailant came at me from behind, but I was running on instinct, so I sidestepped his attack barely, and I turned my hips, smashing my elbow into his face, which impacted with a hefty crunch as I shattered his nose.

    I blocked a horizontal slash by bringing my blade over my elbow and knocked down another with an overhead sweep. After front kicking the first attacker in the guts, I back peddled from another three as they converged on my flank. I blocked the overhead slash of the first and countered by throwing my knee around into his solar plexus. The second I parried, but the third was already on me, so I was forced to knock away his before I could ever hope to counter. I repelled a fourth assailant's attack then another as he attempted to open an ugly wound in my torso. One tried for a low blow swinging his axe in an arc aimed at ripping into my thigh.

    Back peddling from that attack, he followed on by slashing at my skull, an attack which I ducked. I was just in time to turn to face another on my flank, barely managing to block his slashing axe.

    Clenching my teeth, I countered by kicking him in the knee with my boot knife. The man howled out in pain, but I was not quick enough to stop another's front kick from colliding into my torso; the blow knocked the wind out from me and sent me stumbling back. I ignored the throbbing pain to recover just in time to duck under a sweeping axe and saw, much to my amusement the man had a messed up bloody nose.

    With a roar, the man twice my size crouched down low and charged straight at me in an obvious attempt to spear tackle me to the floor.

    I sidestepped, and front kicked the blade at the tip of my boot into his torso; sidestepping another slash, I parried a follow-on swipe, then boxing swayed under a back fist and brought up my blade right into his wrist.

    The next two flew straight at me. I parried the first, a vertical slash, then the second's overhead attack. The first followed, and too quickly for me to counter by punching me square in the face, his fist met my jaw with a crack! And sent burning waves of pain through my head; I was sent stumbling back, just recovering in time to duck another axe.

    Clutching my face with my free left hand, I slashed out at my attackers, the attack stopped dead as one blocked it, but I slipped my sword from the hilt of his axe into a vertical slice at his comrade in line who back stepped out the way, now it was my turn for the offensive.

    I slashed at the third and he to block, but with all the momentum I could muster, my attack caused his block to turn out, allowing me to bring around my elbow into the side of his skull and to make sure I roundhouse kicked my boot knife into his armpit as he collapsed.

    I grinned at the four remaining attackers raising my sword; I could feel my breaths were now coming out as ragged gasps. I didn't know if I could keep this up for much longer; my fitness was not what it once was.

    Then with a roar, they made to charge.

    "Stop," the deep, commanding voice echoed through the alley, causing the four assailants to stop immediately, though standing with barely contained restraint, and as I turned to the speaker, my jaw dropped.

    The leader was wearing light blue power armour covered from head to toe and a long brown cloak hanging from his shoulders.

    And emblazoned on the power armour's chest a gigantic, very unsubtle 'I.'

    "S-so are you Brutis Bones?" I stammered.

    "No," said the Inquisitor as he began to approach me and shaking his head, "I bear no relation to your mark."

    He pulled out his Rosette and held it out, although it was somewhat unneeded.

    "I am Inquisitor Nonin Edracian, and I would very much like to talk to you young Attelus Kaltos."

    This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/04/15 22:14:09

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    Hello everyone! I posted Secret War on Reddit and got a PM asking if they could do an audio version on their Youtube Channel, which is pretty cool, so I said yes and they'll begin doing it there pretty soon so throw them a sub! Here's the link! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUrHH_aKF9PgG1kQL0J5cBA. Anyway, onward with the story.

    I grinned at the Inquisitor. "Really? An Inquisitor? Whatever would have given me a clue?"

    Edracian laughed, and I blinked as I realised that the sound was in my mind, "I see that your eye is as sharp as your wit, boy; I am sure that will really get you far in your line of work."

    I frowned, finding myself unable to think of any good retort; I just shrugged and said, "So you wanted to talk, Nonin Edracian, that is what you said?"

    "Yes, yes, it was."

    "Well, was sending these axe-wielding psychopaths to kill me? Was that truly so necessary then?"

    "Yes, yes, it was."

    "Well, then why was it so damned necessary then?" I growled. I should not have been so angry about this. I was an apprentice assassin, working for a woman who has been in the business for a very long time. Someone sending people to kill me or capture me to get to her was just a part of the job. I knew this, but I was tired and wasn't in the mood after all the crap I'd been through and now this development.

    "It was a test; I wanted to witness for myself the capabilities of the son of Serghar Kaltos."

    My jaw twitched; why was he still insisting on speaking psychically?

    "So," I sighed, "was I up to those capabilities?"

    +No, you still have a long way to go.+

    I shrugged while as cool as I could, simultaneously sheathing my sword, took out a Lho stick, placed it in my mouth and lit it.

    "Well, then now you have your answer. Can I go free?"

    +No, we still have much to yet discuss.+

    I held the smoking Lho between my forefinger and thumb, eyeing the well armoured Inquisitor.

    "I did think as much, yes," I said, then suddenly I spun, stabbing the lit Lho stick right into the eye of one of the men guarding my back; the poor bastard let out a blood-curdling scream of agony and turned away, clutching at his face. I followed on by front, kicking the next enemy right in the chest, sending his limp form sprawling silently straight to the rockcrete ground.

    I drew my autopistol from the chest holster hidden under my flak jacket, blowing out the backs of the skulls of the remaining two men. Then I turned back to Edracian then emptied the rest of the clip of the automatic pistol into him. The gunfire echoed in the alleyway as the manstoppers ricocheted across his armour; I had no real hope of killing him even at such close range. Still, the bullets' kinetic force sent him reeling with each round, one managed to hit the gap in the knee, and the Inquisitor fell into a kneel.

    In the blink of an eye, I had my pistol reloaded and began to advance down the alleyway, meanwhile laying down a withering hail of fire into Edracian's large form, then I fell into a sprint straight past the stunned Inquisitor.

    I slid to a halt as I approached the turn at the end of the alleyway pushing my back against the wall while carefully peering around the corner. I wasn't surprised when two more men were advancing down the next street, perhaps drawn by the fire, perhaps called here by the Inquisitor, both wielding high calibre auto guns and both immediately opening fire the second they saw me.

    Forced back, into cover I glanced to Edracian, who was now lying prone on the ground and slowly struggling to get onto his feet. I had very little time.

    They had stopped their shooting, and I reached into one of the inside pockets of my flak jacket, pulling out a mirror, one I kept on me, not for my rampant narcissism, but for moments like this when I needed to look around something during a firefight. Raising the mirror to reflect down the next alleyway, I caught a glimpse of the two men approaching quickly but cautiously, their rifles raised and sweeping through every possible angle.

    I glanced back to Edracian, and it was then I saw more figures appear right at the other entrance of the alleyway, three of them and all wielding auto guns. I cursed savagely but luckily for me, they didn't open fire, perhaps afraid that they may hit their boss by accident, and the range was utterly terrible to try hit my small form anyway, as I crouched low in the shadows. Mooks like that could never make precise shots at 200 metres.

    With a shaking hand and reaching again into my jacket, I tore out another autopistol clip. Then threw it with all my strength around the corner immediately; I followed suit, my autopistol raised and firing.

    The two attackers were caught off guard for barely half a second as the ammo I threw bounced and clattered at their feet, but that was all I needed. With three shots, I killed them both; my first hit the left sideman in the shoulder, the second blew a ragged hole in his chest as he opened his mouth to scream, the third was a clean headshot.

    Both corpses were barely falling when I was up, sprinting down the street meanwhile re-holstering my pistol. I stopped quickly at the bodies, snatching up one of the auto rifles, a few extra clips of ammunition and the one I had tossed, then carried on through the alleyway as fast as my feet could carry me.

    There was a T junction not far ahead; as it came close, I followed my training, pushing my back against the right-hand wall and sliding along cautiously, my rifle raised to cover the left side, which I knew led to a dead end.

    Finding it devoid of any life, I turned to cover my rifle the right, quickly professionally switching around the alley; it too was clear.

    Hearing a cry behind me, I glanced over my shoulder just in time to glimpse one of my many attackers emerging from around the last corner.

    A mere millisecond before he opened fire, I was into the cover of the turn-off. I had banked on them seeing the corpses of their comrades for it to cause them to yell out and give themselves away; luckily for me, my gambit had paid off. It seemed now that Edracian's henchmen had a camaraderie of sorts; perhaps I could use that once again to my advantage.

    The enemy's full-auto fire quickly died, and as it did, I leaned out, returning my withering hail, which forced the man behind his corner.

    After that quick burst, I did not wait to exchange more fire; I was already moving on, sprinting almost recklessly. These back alleys were like a maze made of five-story high dull grey rockcrete walls. They were empty other than a few small piles of garbage strewn about it was as lifeless as the rest of Omnartus, so they would afford no cover to cower behind other than all of the many twists and turns, but I knew the path well, having used this route on a few occasions. I had to head south for half a kilometre that was toward the relative safety of Taryst's base.

    I had barely made it to the next turn before my pursuers were out in the open and shooting.

    My desperate dive only just carried me into safety. In cover, again I tried my microbead and again got nothing but white noise. I cursed before I could use my microbead in this area but now. Edracian must be using a jammer, either that or his psychic abilities.

    This Edracian, just how powerful was he anyway? What was he doing here? Why was he trying to capture me; why had he chosen to reveal himself now? Amongst all these questions, I did have one thing I was sure of; that he was yet another player in this convoluted game, a game that seemed to be growing ever more convoluted by the second.

    I sighed and briefly leaned out, blasting back at my attackers on burst fire, forcing them again to cower around their cover.

    This firefight was frigging awkward, to say the very least; it would have been over a long time ago if I had a grenade.

    Note to self, I thought, from now on, carrying grenades on me when I can.

    Luckily for me, the enemies seemed to have no grenades, or perhaps they did and chose not to use them.

    As their gunfire paused once more, I retaliated, firing another blind flurry, then once again was moving on, ejecting the almost empty clip and slamming fresh one home; I sprinted.

    I realised then that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't catch the bastards off-guard they were too well trained, used their cover too well. The reason why I seemed so intent on killing my attackers is that Edracian could have more of his henchmen waiting for me further through the alleys, just waiting to catch me in a crossfire.

    There was another four-way intersection ahead. I knew well that if I wanted to go to Taryst's base, I would have to turn left but decided against it, as that is the way my enemies would expect. Skidding to a halt, I elected the right; instead, it led straight to the north back into the busy main streets, intending to try to lose myself among the crowds of potential pedestrians.

    The alleyway was long and, like all the others, utterly empty; as I sprinted, my heart leapt in my chest, expecting at any moment Edracian's men to shoot me in the back as I fled.

    But I heard no shots ever echo through the alleys announcing my untimely death, and I managed to emerge out of the darkness out into the bright lights of the main streets.

    It was five in the afternoon, and luckily for me, the street was bustling with activity. On my homeworld, this street would have been classified as a highway; it was eight lanes, and traffic roared past.

    I had forgotten the streets name, but I knew that it was one of the main supply roads through this part of the hive. It was then I realised that I was still holding my stolen autorifle, and the pedestrians saw me run out; a few glimpsed the gun in my grasp, and they halted their walking, raising their hands and began to back away with fearful expressions.

    Ignoring them, I skidded into another turn, making my way east along the sidewalk and cursed under my breath, trying my best to hide my weapon from people passing by while dodging and weaving through the crowd.

    Glancing over my shoulder, I saw no sign of my pursuers, but I was far from any safety yet; I needed to find a way to hide my gun so as not to attract the attention of the local authorities. I winced; I could have just dropped it when running through those alleyways, but it was too late for that now.

    My sword was legal though, the local law allowed citizens to carry bladed weapons but only for self-defence and as long as one has a license. I have one, a fake one, of course, along with my fake local identification. Still, I could not risk magistratum involvement, just in case that Edracian had them under his thumb being an Inquisitor, he had that power at his grasp.

    But with those people seeing me earlier, the odds that of one of them using their vox unit to call the Magistratum were very high.

    Violently I cursed my idiocy. It seemed to be one mistake after another, first walking straight into Edracian's ambush and now-

    I didn't see the person walk into me, too lost in my self-berating, and I turned to them, finding myself face to face with a woman, an attractive woman with long black hair, deathly pale skin and dark, dead eyes.

    One glance was all it took for me to know she was not anyone normal, and I attempted to break into a run.

    But it was too late; her hand was already right out in front of my nose, and I flinched as she sprayed a brief pout of mist straight into my face.

    "Ahh crap," I managed to gasp. My vision went dark, and the last thing I thought before completely losing consciousness was on the sheer irony of it all.

    Suddenly I awoke, spluttering back into consciousness as my body racked with violent coughs.

    I curled forward but not far, the movement constrained by the rope which bound me. The room mostly enveloped in darkness; only I was illuminated by a weak light hung from the ceiling just above me.

    "He is awake right on schedule, my lord," a voice emerged from the darkness, a soft-spoken woman's voice which eerily reminded me of the Eldar from my dream.

    +Yes,+ said another voice which I immediately recognised as Edracian's, once again the words echoing through my very thoughts.

    "Your mastery of poison would be inconceivable ever to doubt, Miss Ellak," said the Inquisitor as he stepped into the light, he was still wearing his power armour, his face still hidden behind that imposing mask.

    +Hello, young Mr Kaltos.+

    I was in mid-reply when interrupted by another flurry of coughs.

    +What did you say?+ asked Edracian.

    I laughed and replied, "I said, deja vu."

    I could not see Edracian's face but could imagine him smile as he said, +yes, I assume that you would feel way, would you?+

    My jaw twitched. "What the hell does that mean?"

    Edracian's helmeted head shook in what could almost read as contempt. +I actually have a mole inside your organisation, young man, and they have been in there for quite some time now, quite some time indeed.+

    Glaring up at the Inquisitor, I wasn't sure what to think; perhaps he was lying as an attempt to gain my respect before they interrogate me, or if he was telling the truth?

    "Who is it then?" I said. Although I knew he'd never answer and hardly in the mood for my usual deadpan snark.

    Edracian laughed. +Why just telling you, Mr Kaltos would be inconceivable! Where would the fun be in that? You will just have to find out all on your own, I'm afraid.+

    I sighed. "Alright, whatever, so are you going to ask any questions or not? I'd like to get this over and damn well done with."

    The Inquisitor's helmet tilted slightly, a movement that reminded me of many of the native birds back on Elbyra.

    +Oh, no, young Mr Kaltos, you quite misinterpret my true intentions behind this little kidnapping of yours. I have no need to interrogate you; why would I when I already have someone in your organisation feeding me information? No, you are here so you can perform for miss Ellak and I a little favour, wait! No! That is the incorrect term, Miss Ellak; what is the word for it is? It's a favour but one that no one could refuse? When they are forced to do it?+

    "An order master," answered the woman from the darkness.

    +That's right; an order, thank you miss Ellak.+

    "The pleasure is all mine, master."

    Edracian's helmet turned back to me. +Miss Ellak here is from the Venenum temple of the officio assassinorum, how they practice the art of death I am sure Miss Glaitis has already informed you that hasn't she? Miss Ellak is also my most loyal servant. But all of my men are loyal to me though I bet miss Glaitis wishes she could say the same, am I right?+

    "Yes," I growled; my patience was wearing thin now, concluding that Edracian was utterly insane. "Now, what the hell do you want me to do?"

    +Oh!+ cried the Inquisitor's voice in my mind. +I apologise; it seems I went a bit off track there, did I not?+

    With that, he suddenly spun on his heel, so his back was facing me, and he walked a few steps away.

    +You have been to the top of Taryst's tower,+ that was a statement, not a question and his voice, if you can call it that, suddenly changed into the epitome of seriousness which made me blink at the sudden change of tone. You have been in his quarters; you saw that big adamantium door of his.+

    "Hmm, yes, and let me guess. You want me to see what is behind it?"

    Edracian suddenly turned back me so fast it caused me to flinch in fright.

    +Of course!+ he yelled so loud in my mind that it made my ears ring.

    I shrugged. "Well, I can tell you already, well, assume really. That behind that door he is holding captive a member of your organisation an Interrogator-"

    +That I know!+ Interrupted Edracian. +What I need you to do is find the exact condition of Taryst's captive, whether she is still alive or not.+

    I nodded. "Hmm, okay."

    The Inquisitor looked away into the darkness and nodded to who I could only assume to be 'Miss Ellak'. To my minimal surprise, the woman who had ambushed me earlier stepped into the light hold in her hand a very, very large syringe.

    I struggled in my bonds. "W-what is that for?"

    +Insurance,+ answered Edracian, his attention still to the slowly approaching, Venenum assassin. +Insurance to make sure that you will follow through with your end of the bargain.+

    He looked back at me. +You of all people should have guessed that.+

    Then the needle stabbed straight into my forearm, miss Ellak finding a vein as easy as I would find my way through a forest and agony erupted up my arm.

    The agony made me scream out, but it was gone as quickly as it came.

    +You have been injected with a special poison,+ said Edracian. +One which will kill you in a few hours if you do not receive the antidote.+

    I sucked in air through clenched teeth, my body shaking uncontrollably.

    "Really? 'A few hours?' Could you be a little more precise?"

    Again I could almost feel Edracian smile. +Why that would be inconceivable young Mr Kaltos-+

    "Yeah, okay '; where would the fun be in that'," I interrupted. "I know, I know."

    Edracian tilted his head again. +So once you complete your objective, you are to meet a few of my men at an appointed rendezvous point, they will give you the antidote, but I will only give you the coordinates once I know you have accomplished the mission I have given you.+

    "And how will you know that then?"

    Edracian held out his hand, showing me what looked like a small pict taker.

    +With this, of course, young man, once you get through that door if you find the Interrogator's dead, you are to take a picture of her, it is set up that once you do it will automatically send it straight back to our cogitator and if you try to fake the picture we will find out.+

    I sighed as I felt a sudden surge of desperation. "B-But how the hell am I to do this! I will be found Taryst has psykers who can easily read my mind to see my true intentions; I won't even get near before being caught!"

    Again that invisible smile. +You need not worry about Taryst's psyker young, Mr Kaltos, as she is very much unable to do anything now.+

    I looked up at Edracian. "What?"

    +Oh, she isn't dead, just hurt,+ said Edracian lightly. +Badly, not as bad as you were, of course. Your colleagues ambushed her and her bodyguard during your little one-man storm of the Twilight bar; they took advantage of the soulless being kept in that building as she lost her power, which made her easy prey, and that was why they took so long to rescue you. Because that Arco Flagellant was actually the blank.+

    My eyes widened now it was making sense, but that is if Edracian is telling the truth, of course.

    "But still how-"

    +I don't care!+ Edracian's voice suddenly flared in anger. +How you do it is not what I care about, only that you do!+

    "Alright! Okay," I sighed, my mind desperately whirling through a myriad amount of potential plans. "So? I take a picture of her if I find her dead. I understand that, but what do you want me to do if I find her alive?"

    +If she is alive, why then kill her, of course, and then take the picture,+ said Edracian simply. +What the hell did you think I wanted you to do?+

    I was blindfolded as we drove through the streets of Omnartus, my hands tied behind my back. The ride was smooth, and the seating was very, very comfortable what I could only deem to made of pure high-grade leather.

    The Inquisitor, he didn't seem to do anything by halves, I'll give Edracian that.

    +The picter will get through Taryst's security,+ said Edracian in my mind interrupting my thoughts. I had utterly no idea if he was sitting near or even if he was in the vehicle at all, "It is made from a special plasteek that is immune to most detectors."

    "Uh-huh," I replied, utterly disinterested, having already guessed such a fact. "I have a more interesting subject that we could discuss."

    +And what is that young Mr Kaltos?+

    "You said that my colleagues had injured Taryst's psyker."

    +Yes, yes, I did.+

    I frowned. "Until you told me that, I was under the impression that perhaps Glaitis and Taryst were working with more cohesion than what was initially let on, and that was how my organisation got away with the incident of the Twilight bar. That was why we are still under the rogue traders' employment, you seem to know everything, so can you tell me why we are still here? I am sure that Taryst would understand if his prized psyker was hurt and who did it."

    Again, that strange smile. +A good question, young Mr Kaltos, an excellent question indeed but one that has very little to do with your mission, sadly.+

    My jaw set. "What do you mean it doesn't have anything to do with my mission? If something has happened to Taryst, then if I am to get through him and then through that door, I'll need all the information I can get."

    Then it hit me, and I smiled. "You don't actually know, do you?"

    Or you are just choosing not to tell me, I thought.

    +No I shall admit that I do not,+ sighed the Inquisitor's voice. +But it does not matter, in the end, I just need for you to take that picture, that is all.+

    My jaw twitched. After I potentially murder this Interrogator, of course, I have killed a few throne agents in my career, but an Interrogator? The potential consequences for that could be quite dire indeed.

    I could only hope that she was already dead.

    "Do you have a plan yet?" asked Edracian.

    No, I thought sullenly, "some semblance," I said instead.

    +I am sure you will think of something.+

    There was no mistaking the edge of threat in those words, and I barely held back a sigh; really Edracian, did you need to threaten me even more? You held all the cards; you've got me right where you want me, so just leave me alone.

    But why does he want this picture anyway? What exactly would he do with it?

    "How long have I been away for?" I asked, deciding that attempting to asking those questions was utterly pointless.

    +Half an hour,+ said Edracian. +You will have to decide on the excuse you will use for your absence.+

    "Of course I will," I muttered, a little surprised at the short amount of time gone by since my kidnapping.

    Then the vehicle came to an abrupt halt.

    +This here is your stop, young Mr Kaltos,+ said Edracian.

    "Why me?" I said abruptly.

    +Excuse me?+ asked Edracian.

    "Why did you spend time and resources to kidnap me instead of using your mole for this job?"

    +Questions, questions it is always questions with you, isn't it? I do have my reasons for that young Mr Kaltos, reasons that you do not need to know.+

    With those words, suddenly, rough hands grabbed me by the arms and hauled me from my seat; I heard the familiar sound of an opening door then someone cut my bonds.

    Suddenly I got shoved out of the vehicle, barely turning my body in time to keep the tarmac from breaking my nose on impact.

    I heard the deafening squeal of tyres as Edracian's transport abruptly drove away, and I pulled off my blindfold while slowly getting onto my feet.

    They had dropped me in another alleyway, one which I did not recognise was devoid of any life, but I could see quite clearly Taryst's tower looming over the surrounding six-story buildings. Quickly I calculated that I was less than half a mile away; at least during my walk, I could try and come up with a plan of some description. At least I hope I can.

    I paused at the turn toward the alleyway entrance into Taryst's tower and, with a quivering right hand, reached up to take the smoking Lho from my mouth.

    I was scared, utterly terrified; the only thing helping my nerves was the Lho, having smoked through my entire supply on my trip here. Edracian had thrown me straight into a situation that was unfair, to say the very least, damn him!

    But life isn't fair; I reminded myself quickly while signing out smoke, and I could not help wonder what my father would have done if in this situation.

    The answer was as clear as day, he would have slaughtered all of Edracian's mooks and killed the Inquisitor without even batting an eyelash, but for me, that wasn't an option at all, lacking the skill and hard-earned experience of Serghar Kaltos.

    Cursing under breath, I began to march toward the hidden door. During my walk over here, I could only conjure up one plan; I would tell Taryst that I had reconsidered his proposal and spy on Glaitis for him, but only on the condition that he allows me to see what is behind his door.

    Honestly, I doubted it would work, suspecting that Taryst had given me that option once and only once.

    It was the only semi-realistic plan that I could think of; what else could I try? Go in there guns blazing? Try to use my considerable skill in stealth and guile to sneak in? None of those considerations could come close to ever succeeding, and so, no way in hell.

    Ignoring the cameras watching my approach, I roughly tore open the hatch concealing the keypad and, with clumsy, shaking fingers, typed in the password.

    I barely waited for it to open before moving on and starting up the hill, through the hive of activity at a quick pace, my face a grim scowl of determination.

    Many of Taryst's mercenaries actually nodded to me in respectful greeting as I made my way to the tower entrance, and I tried my best to nod back convincingly; it was getting a whole lot harder to mask the fear I felt.

    Finally, after what seemed like an hour, I reached the peak of the service way, and I had to say I was a little out of breath.

    There I found Major Olinthre standing at the security station, two of the elite Stormtroopers standing at his sides; he was looking at me with a determined expression on the major's handsome face.

    I liked Olinthre; he was, in many ways, which I would want to be one day, laid back, charismatic, friendly and an utter womaniser. I wished that I could have half as much influence with women as he did.

    Still, I could not comprehend why he wasn't the commander of Taryst's private army instead of that sycophant Barhurst; actually, yes, yes, I can.

    He saluted me with a sharp snap of his boots. "Attelus."

    Taken off guard by his uncharacteristic formality, I managed a weak salute in return. "Major."

    "I need to talk to you," he said in a tone that would brook no argument.

    My heart turned to ice; did he know what I was planning?

    "S-sure, okay," I managed.

    His expression still hard, Major Olinthre nodded and turned on his heels, walking away with the two Stormtroopers following him.

    "Follow me," he said over his shoulder, "and you can keep your weapons."

    My eyes widened in exasperation; why could I keep my weapons?

    Well, this said something that he more than likely didn't know what I was here to do.

    Allowing myself a slight sigh of relief, I followed.

    Without a further word, we walked through the top checkpoint; the detector never went off as I went through it, and I could not help but nervously eye both of the enormous Servitors standing guard.

    I could not help sigh slightly with relief as we passed through the doors without me being reduced into bloody, smouldering chunks by autocannon fire.

    When we were halfway through the large cargo bay, we headed toward the elevators. That perhaps Major Olinthre was the spy who Edracian had bragged about?

    It made sense; it certainly would explain why the major allowed me to carry my weapons inside.

    But from the way the Inquisitor said it, I was under the interpretation that the spy was part of Glaitis' organisation, not Taryst's.

    Could Olinthre be like me, a triple agent? Be working for Taryst while spying on the rogue trader for Glaitis while spying on her for Edracian?

    Frowning, I eyed the captain, my brow furrowing. Never could I claim to be the greatest judge of character, but Olinthre always seemed a soldier first and foremost; even after turning into a merc, he still seemed to cling onto some semblance of his old honour.

    I clenched my teeth, glancing sidelong at a mercenary as he walked close by and I could not help briefly wonder what they thought of me just walking in here with my full armament.

    No, Olinthre couldn't be the insider; there must be something else behind it; perhaps he has found something and, for some strange reason, decided to trust me with it? But why me? I was the very last person to trust with anything.

    Two more Stormtroopers waited at one of the eight elevators, seemingly holding it for us.

    I noted that as all six of us filled in that it wasn't the one lift that led up to Taryst's office, and glancing up, I found that it was devoid of any overt surveillance.

    One of the Stormtroopers keyed the destination level to where I could not quite see, and the elevator began its ascent.

    My attention plastered on the growing numbers, nerves playing at the pit of my guts, and I said to Olinthre next to me. "Anything wrong?"

    Olinthre's expression stayed neutral. "You will see," he only growled.

    The elevator finally found its destination abruptly; the Stormtroopers and Olinthre filled out into the foyer beyond, but I stood still frozen to the floor.

    Olinthre turned back to me, grim-faced, "you coming then damn it?"

    "S-sorry," and jogged to catch up; it was the 31st floor, Vex's floor.

    Unsurprisingly we silently headed northward, making our way through the thin corridors in an exact echo of the route I had walked months before. The five Stormtroopers formed an escort formation around Olinthre, and many of Taryst's serfs walking the other way, and I was eager to make room for us.

    My heart thudded in my chest, my fear threatening to overwhelm me.

    I'm pathetic! I decided with a wordless snarl, I could fearlessly face down a dozen gangers as they attempted to murder me, but when forced to face up to some stupid kid who I had almost killed! But killing was in my nature; I get paid to do it daily; why should I have to apologise? Why the hell should I have to feel guilty damn it!

    So was this, is the major making me talk to Vex now? Was this because I had forgotten to stop in when I had promised to apologise?

    But why would he let me keep my weapons then?

    Unless he wanted me to kill Vex, it didn't make much sense.

    Again I came back to and with some relief that this was about something else, something more, and Vex was just a part of it.

    We came out from the corridors into the cavernous cogitator room with the cacophony of constant clashing of keys, causing me to cover my ears.

    But still, I could not help smile, with all the hell that I have gone through, with all the death and destruction their colleagues were put through still these serfs will sit and type, it reminded me of the ancient idiom, "the more things change, the more they still the same."

    Not that much has changed at all; we are still chasing our tails searching for this Brutis Bones, which just further emphasises my point really, and there it was, Vex's small box office that sat in the midst of it all.

    Olinthre came to an abrupt halt just outside and turned to his men yelling over the deafening sound.

    "You two guard the door, make sure no one gets in, not even if it Taryst, especially not Taryst," he turned to the remaining two. "You guys check the room make sure there aren't any hidden bugs! Make sure you are damn thorough; you got that?"

    I stood shocked, my jaw open dumbly, but the four Stormtroopers didn't hesitate; they simultaneously saluted with 'yes sirs!' and moved swiftly to perform their appointed tasks.

    Olinthre then turned to me, his face distinctly lightening. "These are men I know I can trust Attelus; they are loyal to me, over Barhurst or even Taryst."

    "But how can you tell?" I blurted out.


    "How can you tell that they are the men that you trust if you can't even see their faces? For all, you know they could easily be someone else."

    The captain smiled and shrugged. "True, but I choose to have faith and believe that they are who they say they are."

    My jaw set slightly at his mention of 'faith.' Faith was an utterly idiotic concept that didn't ever fit within the realms of reality.

    The door into Vex's office opened, and one of the Stormtroopers stuck his head out, nodding to us the all-clear.

    Olinthre nodded back. "Let's go."

    We both began our approach, and it was then I realised that none of even the nearby serfs had ever noticed the presence of the six fully armed and armoured figures in their midst, and I could not help but shake my head in contempt.

    I walked into the room just after Olinthre, and one of the Stormtroopers abruptly closed the door behind us.

    A few of the large cogitators had been pulled from the walls and moved about, and the room was almost a complete mess, most of it being snack junk food packaging, and Vex stood among it, his face contorted in anger.

    "Frig it, Olinthre!" he yelled with alarming force. "Your men didn't have to be so rough with my equipment! Do you have any idea how much this all costs!"

    "I apologise," said Olinthre calmly as he ripped off his leather gloves. "I didn't want to do it, but you know who we are up against and the precautions we must go through to make sure we survive, and frig who taught you such dirty language?"

    Vex stood simmering, then he turned his back to us and began to work furiously on one of his cogitators.

    "I see you have Attelus with you," said Vex quickly.

    "Yes, I believe we can trust him."

    I could not help but flinch, the words cutting more in-depth than I cared to admit.

    "Okie dokie, if you think so, you're the one who's got the gun and the soldiers, so I can't complain, can I?"

    Both Olinthre and I glanced at each other, each of us assuming the question to be rhetorical.

    I could not help but see that Vex had changed; he seemed a lot tougher with how he was talking to Olinthre; he used to be far more timid and shy.

    Far, far more timid and shy, and I could not help think that my assault might have something to do with this new character development.

    "But I'm guessing," carried on the young hacker quickly. "I'm guessing the reason you choose to trust him was because of what he did at the Twilight bar, is that it?"

    "Could be," replied Olinthre with a smile that seemed to suggest he was humouring the kid.

    "Okie dokie, then now are we tell him of our findings then?"

    I stood there a little confused; why wasn't Vex mad at me? Why wasn't he demanding an apology? It was the very least that he deserved.

    "Yes," said Olinthre turning to me, "what you said a few hours ago piqued my interest, so I decided to hire Vex here and begin my own investigation."

    "Yes, that he did," confirmed Vex needlessly. "But be honest, it was more than just that, wasn't it?"

    Olinthre sighed. "Yes, yes, it was; ever since you were forced into a coma, few things have gone... "

    "Awry?" I finished turning to Olinthre; it was the first word I uttered since walking in.

    The major nodded. "Ever since that night, the psyker under our employ, Karmen Kons, she has gone missing, just disappearing seemingly, and Taryst refuses to explain why or to sanction any sort of search for her."

    Olinthre looked nervous. "Also, he granted permission for your master Mamzel Glaitis to call for that psyker to heal you. Even though he had a very strict edict right from very the start of this operation that Karmen Kons would be the only one to use any psychic abilities among us, my suspecting something wrong was there, but you made me act on it."

    "As well as that, we have received no word from Colonel Barhurst after he left for the recruitment drive," added in Vex.

    Olinthre nodded. "That's right; usually, we'd be getting very accurate and daily reports from the colonel; I always suspected he did it to make sure that we didn't forget about him, but this time, nothing."

    I listened intently to this information, but I could not shake a nagging feeling of familiarity at Karmen Kons' name. That was the name of the faceless behind the scenes psyker, and it wasn't even a cadre as I had initially thought but just one woman, apparently.

    "How many people know of this information?" I asked, placing my chin between my thumb and forefinger.

    Olinthre and vex glanced at each other. "As you know of the psychic ban, everyone," said the major. "Of Karmen Kons and her operations only me, Barhurst and Taryst and of her disappearance only me and Taryst. Barhurst's communications only come to Taryst and me; Vex only knows this because I told him earlier."

    "You also must know the secret behind the psychic blocks then?" I asked.

    At that question, Olinthre's face immediately turned white as chalk. "Y-yes," he sighed. "I knew that someone would find out; eventually, I don't know the technical crap, but I know they are designed to block out almost any intrusion but..."

    "But-but what?" said Vex.

    "But for one psyker, they can be bypassed," explained Olinthre. "Only Karmen Kons can get through the block and not just that, but she finds it easier; it allows her to read thoughts without expelling as much energy as she would normally."

    "How are they implanted into the mind?" I asked, barely holding back a triumphant smile; I was right! Finally, right about something through all this convoluted crap!

    "I don't know," Olinthre sighed. "All that I know is that she does it, somehow."

    That also begs another question: How could these blocks have gone unnoticed by the Omnartus Verispex technicians of the local Adeptus Arbites when they had studied the dead bodies we left behind? How hadn't they been tracked back to Taryst and his private army? Not just that, but how was Edracian able to talk to me through my thoughts if my mind was blocked? Was mind talking a different thing than reading thoughts?

    "As far I know," said Olinthre interrupting my train of thought. "The only minds inaccessible from Karmen Kons are mine, Taryst's and Barhurst's."

    I nodded, briefly checking my wrist chron; it had been roughly three-quarters of an hour since I was dumped out of Edracian's vehicle; I still had some time, I hoped.

    "Alright, I can see why your suspicion peeked," I said. "But why are you telling me this now? Is there something else? Something that Vex found, perhaps?"

    "It was indeed; first, I have to inform you that I don't have complete access to Taryst's systems, his own personal ones, to be precise, so I attempted to hack into his database."

    "Also," said Olinthre. "The cameras in his elevator the feed can only be viewed by him."

    "I don't know who had installed the security of Taryst's files, but it is good, very, very, very good, maybe even the best I have ever seen. Maybe it was a priest of the Adeptus Mechanicus that would be the only explanation that I could think of, but I am me and me being me the genius that I am; I was able to access some of Taryst's database."

    "Did you find the surveillance feeds?" I asked.

    "No! No, no, no, no! That would take a long time; for anyone else, it would take months, but for me, a week or two but I was able to gain access to the log of retinal scans, which are also only accessible to him for the people accessing his floor for the past few months."

    "Hmm, right," I said.

    A grin spread over Olinthre's face. "As far as we know," said the major. "Only once he has left his room, and that was to visit you briefly, Attelus, when you were in a coma."

    Vex turned back to us. "I have also checked into the medicae logs and found that Taryst had, in fact, arrived at exactly the right time that would take for him to walk from the elevators to the medicae bay."

    My jaw set slightly, wondering where the hell this was all this was going.

    Next to Vex's cogitator, a printer suddenly began to print off something, the elevator log I could only presume, and the young hacker reached over and tore off the paper and handed it to me.

    "Look at the local calendar the eighteenth day of the month of Estarius and the time of 2:53.56.24," he said.

    I complied, reeling hurriedly through the well organised and precise log, and saw something which made my heart turn into ice, and my hands went clammy with sweat.

    "It's-it's," I managed.

    "Yes, yes it is," said Olinthre grimly.

    There it was as clear as day the retinal scan wasn't actually recorded as belonging to Taryst.

    It was Barhurst's.

    This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/04/15 23:38:20

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    I looked back up to Olinthre, my eyes wide, and I could imagine my face being even paler than usual.

    "Have you actually seen Taryst over the past few months?" I asked. "Has he been even more recluse than normal?"

    "That's the thing," said Olinthre. "While he still never leaves his quarters, he still talks openly to the investigation squads and me, his mannerisms are the same nothing has changed except for his decisions.

    Clenching my teeth, I shook my head. "You are aware that while we are having this highly confidential conversation, this Karmen Kons could easily be listening in that Taryst could have feigned her disappearance to draw out anyone conspiring against him...Like us."

    Olinthre shrugged. "I know, but I don't care; if she truly knew, something would have happened right after I talked to Vex earlier, for all I know, she could be dead."

    The corner of my mouth twitched in contempt; how typical of a soldier to think so simplistically.

    Of course, Edracian had claimed earlier that my colleagues had injured this Karmen Kons during the Twilight bar incident, but it would be wise to take everything that deranged Inquisitor claims with a grain of salt.

    I sighed and shrugged, placing the paper on a nearby cogitator, "for all our sakes, I hope you're right, frig it."

    I could easily see where this was leading. With this development, perhaps I could "encourage" good Olinthre to go up to "Taryst's" condo and confront the rogue trader, the major taking me with him, of course. From there, I could get access to this mysterious door.

    Finally, for the first time in a long time, it seemed luck was on my side for a change.

    At least I hoped it was luck, this seemed to smack of something that Glaitis had cooked up behind the scenes, and perhaps she knew of my kidnapping and my deal with Edracian, but she hadn't tried to stop me yet.

    "So," I said, attempting to push the conversation where I wanted it to go. "What are we going to do now?"

    Olinthre's square jaw set in determination. "We're going up there, and we're going to ask Taryst what the hell is going on."

    I barely held back a smile; everything was all according to plan, yess.

    "What, now?" asked Vex, perplexed. "B-but, don't we need a plan first?"

    "You don't need to worry, Vex," said Olinthre. "Because you are staying right here, I can't have your death on my conscience if anything should happen."

    "And make no mistake, something will happen," I said with complete certainty.

    Olinthre gave me a sidelong glare, a look which seemed to show his complete disbelief that someone so young could be so cynical.

    He can think it's cynicism; I prefer to call it pragmatism.

    Vex shook his head, a slight smile on his face, "no, I didn't expect that you would want me to come with you; I would very much get in the way."

    "In fact," said Olinthre, his attention still on me, "I am leaving my men here to protect you, Vex."

    My eyes widened in disbelief, as did Vex's, and the two so far silent Stormtroopers glanced at one another.


    "No Attelus," interrupted Olinthre, then he turned to the Stormtroopers. "Aithyre, Geron, Daveth, Rayle, they have been good soldiers, no great soldiers I will not put their lives on the line for this crap; I won't, I just won't."

    I opened my mouth to argue to say that if we went up there and if anything happened that Taryst would surely find out about their involvement and kill them anyway, that it was idiotic that we could use all the help we could get.

    But I could tell arguing was pointless Olinthre had that determined look again; he would brook no argument.

    Olinthre turned to me. "Sorry, Attelus, it's just you and me. I'm afraid."

    My jaw clenched. "Let's get this over and damn well done with then," I growled.

    The major smiled down at me. "Lets," and he began to walk to the door, but I stood still, my attention to the floor, shoulders hunched and shaking as I started to work up the courage.

    "Attelus?" Olinthre asked.

    "I'm sorry!" I finally blurted out. "I'm sorry about what I did Vex, I had no right; I was a jerk and a complete frig head. I'm sorry, I truly am."

    Vex didn't reply for a while; I was already sweating the small space profusely with so many Cogitators stuffed in it made the place as hot as a furnace. Still, I was somehow sweating even worse now; my body glove's internal heat dampeners didn't seem to help at all.

    "You were a jerk," agreed the young hacker, and I let out a long sigh of relief, not realising that I had held my breath the whole time, "and no, I don't forgive you."

    My attention snapped straight to Vex; as much as it sucked to hear those words, I knew that he had every right not to.

    "I-I understand," I stammered and turned to leave.

    "But!" exclaimed Vex causing me to stop in my tracks, "but I will forgive you on one condition."

    I could not help sigh in relief and turn back to the hacker, "name it."

    "Only if you let me punch you in the face as hard as I can."

    My eyes widened; that was it? That was all? It was then I was reminded of how young Vex was. Only someone of such youth would think that was enough retribution for such treatment.

    I almost felt guilty, while I knew that a thin person could be just as powerful and robust a fighter as someone twice their size, Vex was never trained, and I have been punched in the face many times in my life, I could not help suspect that Vex's would barely even hurt at all.

    Swallowing, I said, "h-how about three punches to the face Vex perhaps that would suffice more?"

    Vex grinned, and I knew that grin well; it was one which I had also worn on many occasions; it was when someone knew that they were being underestimated, "nope, I think one'll do."

    I frowned and nodded, scratching the back of my head. "Hmm, okay, fire away, but do you mind if I close my eyes?"

    Vex's grin widened. "Why, are you scared?"

    My reply was a brief nod; hell yes, I was scared. Scared that if my were eyes open when Vex tried to punch, my self-defence instincts would take over, and the poor kid would end up with a broken arm or worse.

    Vex shrugged. "Sure, I don't see why not."

    Closing my eyes, I leant forward, giving Vex a clear shot. Then the punch came, with no fanfare or ceremony, and he hit me right in my cheekbone with surprising strength. Sharp pain abruptly flared through my face, and I was sent sprawling to the floor so fast that I was barely able to stop myself from smashing my nose into the hard rockcrete.

    He somehow had hit me harder than Edracian's mook did earlier.

    Still, on the floor, I turned back to Vex, my eyes wide with shock and clutching my face, which was going to leave one hell of a bruise.

    But it indeed was the least I deserved.

    Vex was smirking triumphantly down at me as one of Olinthre's men approached and abruptly pulled me back to my feet. Woozy, I clung to the Stormtrooper.

    Was I woozy? Woozy! How the hell could this kid hit so damned hard!

    Vex grinned. "Apology accepted Attelus Kaltos,"

    I nodded, still holding my face. "Th-thanks."

    "I bet you are wondering why it hurt so much, right?"

    Yes, I thought but said nothing.

    "Garrakson had taught me how to punch while you were in a coma," said Vex. "That was nice of him, wasn't it?"

    "Yeah, real nice of him," I said sarcastically.

    Both Olinthre and I exited Vex's office, only pausing briefly for the Major to order the Stormtroopers to stay put and tell some other, supposedly inspiring hold the line crap.

    We walked on through the cavern of cogitators, me sulking silently while still holding my cheek and Olinthre studying Vex's print out intently.

    As we entered the corridors and out of the deafening crashes of the serfs, Olinthre said to me absently, "you really shouldn't keep touching your face like that Attelus, it won't help you at all."

    My sidelong glare was the only reply which Olinthre got.

    The major smiled, seemingly quite enjoying my suffering.

    "Fine be that way, but I have to warn you, Attelus, if you were in the Imperial Guard and acted that way-"

    "What would happen?"

    Olinthre grinned. "You would just have to sign up to find out, wouldn't you?"

    The corner of my mouth twitched then I turned my attention back forward.

    "So Attelus, how long have you worked as an Assassin for?" asked Olinthre out of the blue.

    "Why?" I growled, quickly realising that this sounded a lot like small talk.

    "Why? Because I'm just interested, that's all."

    I looked at him, trying to detect a reason behind this but came up with nil; that was what it exactly seemed to be, small talk.

    With a shrug, I answered, "just made seven years now; how long have you worked for Taryst?"

    Olinthre frowned; he was still studying that sheet, "around ten years, hmmm."

    "What is it?"

    Olinthre suddenly stopped in his tracks and looked straight at me. "Frig," he said. "That is one hell of a bruise you've got there, Attelus."

    I raised an eyebrow, "What?"

    "Yeah, man, the kid got you good, yeah. It's all big and blue; we better see medicae Feuilt."

    That was an act that much was blatant, but why would he want to see Feuilt? And if we did this, it would just use up even more of my precious time.

    I sighed. "Yeah, okay, maybe he'll bandage it or something."

    The major smiled, and we moved on.

    "So what is your home planet?" asked Olinthre after a few moments of silence.

    My brow furrowed, wondering where the hell this line of questioning was going; it was strange; I don't think anyone has ever actually asked where I came from before.

    "E-Elbyra," I answered hesitantly, thinking that maybe I should not be giving out this information so freely.

    Olinthre's eyes widened. "Ah! Elbyra! The small Agri world I know it actually."

    My eyebrows raised in surprise. "Really, have you been there?"

    The major shook his head. "No, no, actually I should re-phrase, I know of Elbyra; the way I found about the planet was because I once served alongside the Velrosian first regiment during my time in the guard."

    I nodded; Elbyra was only recently taken in by the Imperium; it would be just over three hundred years ago, as I could recall from school. We Elbyrans attempted to resist at first, particularly the country of Maranger who have always been warlike, but we were still a little primitive; we were indeed a feudal world then, and so it didn't take long before we were under the fold. It wasn't until twenty years ago that the entirety of Elbyra raised their first regiments of Imperial Guard, one drawn from each country on the vast continent; Velrosia, Maranger, Galak Heim, Despasia.

    "It was in my last year in the guard," said Olinthre. "My regiment was fighting Orks on the planet Belfost, and the Velrosians were sent in to help us, the famous 'first amongst equals' at first; we all scoffed at the arrogance of the title, but quickly I saw it was justified. They were good, one of the best regiments I have ever worked with actually, well-disciplined, reliable and their general he was a hard bastard. Tathe was his name, and he had a son working inside the regiment as a commissar. His father forced him into the schola progenium when he was young; Delan Tathe was an arrogant little punk but very skilled with a blade; you remind me of him, actually."

    My jaw set slightly. "Thanks," I said; it was kind of funny how such a large galaxy could feel so small at times.

    I smiled and said, "The Velrosian 1st has made a name for themselves over the last twenty years; my country seems to breed natural warriors. Around a thousand years ago, Olinthre, Velrosia fought the far larger and numerically advantageous invading Maranger to a standstill, a war which lasted over four decades before Velrosia was finally overwhelmed. But it was barely after a year of occupation when the Velrosian rebels led by the young and now legendary prince, Royd Antares, they ousted Maranger and Royd slaying the corrupt Maranger king Voltarin in single combat."

    "Although that great act of heroism would lead to events that no one could ever have foreseen. The legend of King Royd of Velrosia was a sad tale that ended in utter tragedy, but that still doesn't stop all Velrosian children wanting to be him growing up, myself included. Of course, my love for sword mastery and hand to hand combat was in part because of that legend."

    And my father made me learn, of course.

    The corner of my mouth twitched slightly, wondering why I had just suddenly said all that information. It has been a long time since I talked about my homeworld.

    Olinthre smiled and nodded as we walked out of the corridors and into the elevator lobby.

    "And where are you from, major?" I asked.

    "Cadia," answered Olinthre simply.

    My eyebrows raised in surprise; I knew of Cadia, of course, the mighty fortress world which guards the only navigational route too and from the Eye of Terror. The Cadian Imperial Guard regiments were amongst the most well known and lauded in the whole of the Imperium so that Olinthre would know of and praise the Velrosian 1st so highly was indeed something to be proud of; that's if the major was telling the truth of course.

    Olinthre pushed the elevator call button and turned back to me.

    "I served in the 266th regiment for a good ten years with Garrakson under my command as a sergeant."

    That surprised me also; I had no idea that both Garrakson and Olinthre were from the same planet, let alone the very same regiment.

    Olinthre shook his head. "That was the best decade of my life, don't get me wrong, we all went through hell, that's for sure, but the brotherhood we shared, the friendships we developed. Attelus, war is a terrible, terrible thing, but nothing else could ever bind comrades together so well."

    "There is only war," I could not help intone under my breath.

    Olinthre sighed sadly. "Yes, I can't disagree with you on that."

    "It was hard to see your comrades slowly whittle away Attelus, to die off, sometimes one by one, sometimes even by the dozens. You must have an idea by now; your squad was much larger when you first started fighting in this complete and utter farce."

    The major's face suddenly contorted in horrible rage while his eyes watered with barely contained tears. "But to have your entire regiment, the friends! The comrades who you have fought side by side for years on countless battlefields! To have them all slaughtered right in front of your eyes like they were cattle, you can't imagine what that is like!"

    His sudden outburst made me flinch in fright, and I could only stand around like an idiot, not knowing what to say.

    Olinthre sighed again. "I-I'm sorry for that, Attelus; I didn't mean to-"

    Olinthre was interrupted by the elevator's arrival, and we slipped inside.

    We went up a few floors before Olinthre finally said, "Taryst saved us from that hell hole Attelus, he saved Garrakson and me from being slaughtered just like the rest of our regiment and for that I truly respect him, and for that, I owe him everything. I was always prepared to die for the Emperor but not in that way, but not that way."

    "And for that, I will always be ashamed; I am a coward, Attelus. I should have died in duty along with my comrades, but yet here I am. Working as a soulless mercenary for an ugly and backstabbing corporation that really shouldn't exist, but now it's time to face up as you did with Vex, it's time to finally, truly face up to my mistakes."

    I nodded, and that was all I was capable of.

    I winced as Feuilt dabbed my sore cheek with a disinfectant wet piece of cotton.

    "Yeeep," he said. "Young man, you are going to have one frig of a bruise."

    My jaw twitched, and I glared accusingly at the grinning Olinthre; really, is that why we came up here so that Feuilt could state something, I already knew?

    "Actually," said on the medicae, "you are lucky that you didn't break your zygomatic bone; that was one hell of a punch."

    "Well, the person who threw it has been practising at the art non-stop over the last month," I growled and flinched again as more pain coursed through my face.

    Feuilt's eyes widened. "What, just so they could do this to you? What did you do to warrant such retribution?"

    I frowned and furrowed my brow, bemused at the medicae's apparent ignorance.

    "Well, I guess it doesn't matter," sighed Feuilt. "Just be careful, two injuries so quickly one after the other, just try, be, a, little, bit, less, clumsy next time."

    He dabbed between each pause, and I could not help bristle slightly at being called clumsy; I wasn't clumsy, I was never clumsy.

    "Alright," said the medicae as he got up and turned to a nearby draw pulling out a bandage, pulled off the adhesive tape then planted onto my face.

    "Just wear that for the next few days," he said. "It will keep down the swelling and help prevent the bruising; I'll give you a few more if this one ever falls off."

    "Thanks, doc," I said, sounding more grudging than intended.

    Feuilt shrugged. "Yes, young man, just make sure you don't come back for any time soon, okay?"

    I nodded and briefly played with the idea of telling Feuilt of the poison injected into my system but quickly declined the notion that Edracian could be watching me even now, and I didn't know what kind of poison it was. There were a few kinds that I could name off the top of my that would kill a man in a few hours. Still, here I was dealing with an assassin from the Venenum temple, and their knowledge of poisons was unrivalled throughout the Imperium; it was very likely that Feuilt would have no clue what it was at all.

    Feuilt nodded back, then turned to Olinthre. "So major now, will you tell me why you are here as well?"

    Olinthre was leaning against the wall with his arms folded over his chest, and he pushed himself off.

    "Yes, I will Feuilt, something has come to my interest recently," Olinthre said, and he held up the print off of the retinal scans to the medicae.

    My eyes widened; what was he doing? Why was he telling this to Feuilt?

    Feuilt's brow furrowed in bemusement. "Where are you getting at major?"

    "This, my friend," said Olinthre, "is a print off from the records of people who have used their retinal ID to access Taryst's condo over the past month."

    The medicae frowned deeply; still confused, he slipped on a pair of spectacles and took the sheet, studying it intently.

    "Yes, it is," agreed Feuilt. "But what does this have to do with me?"

    My eyes widened as it suddenly hit me. "Because you've been going up there to treat Taryst's injured psyker!" I blurted out without thinking.

    Both Feuilt's and Olinthre's attention snapped at me; their expressions were both amazed and confused.

    "H-how, did you know that?" stammered Feuilt.

    I winced, internally cursing my idiocy, then my face went bright red, and I scratched the back of my head. "Uhm, a lucky guess, I guess."

    It was a terrible lie, I know.

    But I barely held back a sigh of relief as Olinthre returned his suspicious gaze to the bemused medicae. "So you admit it then? As the records show, you have been visiting Taryst far more than normal over the last month."

    It was Feuilt's turn to sigh. "Yes, yes, I do admit to it Olinthre as you know, I go up once a week to give Taryst his weekly juvenant treatment, but..."

    "But this time was different?" I asked and immediately regretted it as Olinthre's attention briefly snapped straight at me again; damn it! Why the hell did I always feel so inclined to finish people's sentences!

    "But...Yes, this was different, young man; Taryst took me through that large door in his quarters; in there he is keeping an extremely injured psyker, a woman by the name of Karmen Kons, he told me to treat her and to keep it a secret."

    Olinthre looked at the medicae with extreme incredulity and said, "but! But! How! Not even I'm allowed through that frigging door, and why wasn't I told what happened to her!"

    Feuilt raised his hands in a protective motion as it seemed for a second there that Olinthre would strike the medicae. "You must understand major, I was not informed of such information, but it does not end there."

    "And what the hell does 'It does not end there,' mean?" yelled Olinthre.

    The medicae didn't flinch, facing down the angry ex-guardsman with admiral courage. "When I was first taken to her, she was unconscious due to head trauma, but I was ordered to keep her in a coma via a drug named Diporisan, which needed to be injected every two days; that is why my retinal scan is logged in at every second day."

    "I don't understand," I said, interrupting anything that Olinthre was to say. "Why didn't you give Taryst some syringes so he could do it himself?"

    But what I was really thinking was why Taryst would want to keep his little psyker in a coma, and the reason why I asked such a small question was that I wanted to take Olinthre's thoughts away from it.

    Perhaps the psyker had found something? Or did something wrong during the raid on the Twilight bar?

    Feuilt shrugged, "I don't know, but I am guessing that he suspected no one but himself would be able to see the records, so my visitations would not arouse suspicion."

    That made my eyes widen; if this was such a secret, how did Edracian's spy find out? The spy who seemingly worked for Glaitis, or was there someone else in Taryst's organisation?

    "Well, they have now," growled Olinthre.

    Feuilt turned back to Olinthre. "So I am curious, how is it, then you got your hands on those records major?"

    "That is none of your business, medicae."

    "Alright then," sighed Feuilt. "I don't know how you got your hands on that information, but I can still tell Taryst that you have it, so do not intend to get angry at me again, Olinthre!"

    A wolfish, predatory grin spread across Olinthre's face. "Well, it doesn't matter if you do, medical, as the three of us are about to say a little hello to the good rogue trader right now, isn't that right, Attelus?"

    "Yes, that's right," I agreed, and I paused as I realised. "Wait, what do you mean 'us three'?" I asked.

    "Because Attelus Kaltos, because good medicae Feuilt here will be accompanying us, isn't that right Feuilt?"

    Feuilt's face grimaced in utter rage, but it was quickly gone, turning into a look of defeat. "Yes, yes, I will be accompanying you, major."

    Olinthre grinned that grin again. "Good!" he said brightly. "Let's go then, shall we?"

    We silently rode the elevator up to Taryst's penthouse, standing with Olinthre and Feuilt on my flanks.

    Earlier on our walk from the medicae, I asked Feuilt with as much casual interest I could feign. If he had seen anything behind that door, anything of any importance, but the only answer I got was that the door actually led to an elevator that went down into an underground bunker that he hadn't been shown much of the shelter at all.

    Perhaps he was lying, but I didn't want to push the medicae for more information with Olinthre around; the ex-guardsman's suspicion of me was high enough as it was already.

    With the thought of the ex-guardsman, I could not help but steal a sidelong glance at Olinthre, my jaw twitching slightly.

    Perhaps I should've pointed out the pure hypocrisy of Olinthre making poor Feuilt come with us, Feuilt who in all essence which had done nothing wrong he was just following orders.

    But me being the complete coward I am, my mouth kept shut, not wishing to force any confrontation with Olinthre, I needed to stay on his right side, him being my only real ally in this idiotic endeavour.

    Well, how "true" Olinthre was as an ally has yet to be elaborated on. I would be keeping an eye on the major after his tirade with poor Feuilt. I was beginning to wonder about his mental health.

    I then looked sidelong to the medical, who stood as emotionless as he was motionless. He hadn't complained about the dangerous position he was in, but life was unfair, as I had said earlier. I couldn't help but respect the medicae for his apparent stoicism.

    I sighed slightly and reached into the pocket of my flak jacket for a smoke while tapping the tip of my shoe against the floor, very much unlike the good medicae my nerves were really getting to me the entire ride I fidgeted in one way or another while wholly ignoring the annoyed looks from the Major and medicae.

    The attempt to retrieve my Lhos was far harder than it should've been, my shaking fingers fumbling to find the little ceramic case that caused me to curse a couple of times under my breath.

    Finally, I managed to tug out the case and opened it with a flick of a thumb, then began to search for my igniter.

    "You aren't going to smoke, that are you?" growled Olinthre at my back which made me flinch in fright.

    "And I hope that you are aware of the dangers to your health of smoking Lho," said Feuilt. "Or of the potential effects for both Olinthre and myself when you smoke in such proximity to us in here-."

    "Yeah, yeah," I interrupted while hurriedly slipping my Lhos away, really not wanting to hear much more of the medicae's tirade.

    "Are you a bit nervous, Attelus?" asked Feuilt.

    "Yeah, just a little," I said. "We are about to confront the leader of a huge multi-planet business franchise who has a huge army at his beck and call and may or may not already want us dead and may or may not has lost his mind, so I am a little bit nervous, yes."

    Feuilt smiled. "I understand we all have our ways of dealing with our anxiety Attelus, you, I see, deal by fidgeting and by displaying extreme sarcasm, which is not uncommon for others your age and the smoking of Lho, of course."

    I sighed again. "So, are we a psychologist now as well?"

    Feuilt smiled wider. "Why I've dabbled, although I doubt it would take a genius to figure that out."

    "Of course you have," I said, "and what is your way of dealing with anxiety medicae?"

    "My faith," he answered without hesitation.

    My jaw set at the medicae's response, first frigging Olinthre now Feuilt both being idiotic believers in 'faith', a smile spread across my face, and I looked up at the cameras looming over us and said;

    "Whatever happens, happens."

    Before either Olinthre or Feuilt could respond, the elevator had stopped its ascent, and again the automated voice announced in its typical monotone "300th story; Master Taryst's living quarters restricted access retinal scan required."

    Wordlessly Olinthre unslung his lasgun approached the retinal scanner, and placed his face into the machine. At the same time, I still watched the cameras with great interest, wondering whether Taryst was watching us ascend to usurp him.

    I drew my autopistol from my chest holster, racked the slide and turned to Feuilt. "Stay behind us, Feuilt."

    The medicae's exterior of apathy was gone, his nod of reply very nervous.

    "Employee 106; identified as Toron Olinthre," said the computer, "Access granted."

    We all quickly stepped into the sides of the elevator in case of any immediate retaliatory gunfire from Taryst's bodyguards.

    But there was nothing.

    I glanced questionably at Olinthre, who, with a similar quizzical look, nodded back and together with guns raised, we slipped out of the elevator and into the corridor beyond.

    What we saw as we stepped into that red, overly pretentious hallway made my jaw drop and Olinthre bark out in disbelief.

    She stood at the end, kneeling over both Taryst's bodyguards' corpses, seemingly studying them intently.

    "You!" roared the ex-guardsman. "How in the Emperor's name did you get up here?"

    Elandria was suddenly on her feet, and she eyed each of us blankly. "I was allowed," she answered.

    Both Olinthre and I had here wholly covered, but I could not help but feel a little unnerved; what was she doing here? Was this Glaitis making her move?

    "Did you kill those men?" demanded Olinthre, his tone betraying his nervousness.

    Slowly, Elandria looked over her shoulder at the two dead men behind her as though only just realising they were there. "No," she answered. "They were both already dead when I arrived."

    Scarily without a shadow of a doubt, I knew she was telling the truth, and that made me all the more nervous.

    Suddenly, Elandria grinned her evil grin from nowhere, and her attention snapped straight to me.

    "This is it, Attelus Kaltos," she said.

    "This is it for what, El?" I asked.

    "Finally, we will see who is truly the better of us," Elandria said as she slowly almost theatrically drew Setsukia and Katrina.

    I kept my pistol firmly trained on her. "I don't want to fight you, Elandria."

    "Oh, but you do," she laughed darkly. "You are just as interested as I am in seeing who is the superior one; I know it."

    "Glaitis has ordered you to kill me, hasn't she?" I asked.

    "That is mamzel Glaitis Attelus Kaltos, and yes, the master did order your death, so I will not be holding back."

    "Well, I wouldn't have it any other way," I said and opened fire.

    Almost faster than the eye could follow, she dodged the bullet swaying sidewards, and her somersault carried her lithe body out of the trajectory of both my next shots.

    Olinthre had no time to react before she had crossed the distance between us, and me in vain emptied my pistol at her acrobatic form.

    She flew at me in a horrifically powerful butterfly kick which would have taken my head off if I hadn't managed just to duck underneath.

    My sword was suddenly drawn. I slashed horizontally, attempting to catch the young woman in mid-flight, but she dodged, twisting out of harm's way with almost impossible grace.

    She landed perfectly and followed on by pirouetting into a powerful hook kick which forced me into a backstep, her heel barely missing my nose.

    Elandria kept up her offence, thrusting Katrina at my guts, a thrust which I sidestepped and countered with a horizontal slash. An attack she cartwheeled just out of range from, but her dodge was also an attack as she attempted to shatter my jaw with her feet.

    I swayed away and slid into a vertical slash which would have sliced her skull cleanly in two if she hadn't parried with Setsukia, then countered by cutting with Katrina.

    My dodge was a desperate leap back while simultaneously ejecting a knife from my sleeve and throwing it straight at her face at point-blank range.

    Elandria knocked my projectile out of mid-air with almost contemptuous ease and lunged forwards. She quickly made the distance while spinning into a vertical blow which was far too powerful for me to parry, so I sidestepped, sliding nimbly around her while cutting at her back.

    Elandria leaned low, just under the blow and swept her leg out in an attempt to take my feet out from underneath me, but I danced over the kick and stomped down at her.

    She rolled out the way, across the carpet and into a feline-like crouch, her dead, drugged up eyes looking up at me under a furrowed brow.

    "It looks as though your time in bed hasn't affected your speed, " she growled, getting back to her full height.

    I grinned through my gasps that little skirmish would have lasted less than a second or two, but already it had worn me down a bit.

    "Well, that's me," I said, "the Autarch Speedyrificus."

    Elandria raised an eyebrow. "What?"

    "Nothing!" I replied quickly, wondering what the hell I had said as well.

    Then without hesitation, Elandria was lunging at me again.

    I slipped from the slicing Katrina's path then weaved underneath the stabbing Setsukia.

    My counter was a quick short slash, slashing up toward her ribs.
    She spun sidewards out of the path of my attack. It was yet another fanciful dodge, but I'd like to think that I learned a lot about Elandria's fighting style over the past six months. I knew that her spins, her flips, her cartwheels and such were usually far too fast for me to take advantage of the openings they create, and I knew they weren't just for show either. She used them to build momentum, which added much more power to her strikes; it was a deadly mix of speed and power that made her such an exceedingly deadly enemy.

    Elandria spun into a stroke with Setsukia, the blurring blade arcing in a decapitating cut that I kept clear of by backstepping. Against an offensive dual wielder with her speed, I wasn't ready to risk parrying. I didn't want to open myself to one of her next blows or even potentially be disarmed.

    She flowed into a high front kick that I sidestepped; I would have loved to slice my sword straight into her leg then, but again she proved to be far too quick.

    Clenching my teeth, I stepped into the offence. Slashing out horizontally with my sword an attack which Elandria parried with Katrina, and she flowed with the blow, turning her hips and augmenting my attack in an attempt to push me off balance to impale myself on the tip of Setsukia.

    I would have been surprised if not running on instinct, it was the type of defence I used, and so the appropriate counter had been drilled into me over and over again by my father a long time ago.

    In the blink of an eye, I pulled my blade back, reposting into a blindly fast overhead vertical slash that Elandria barely blocked with both her swords. A smile spread across my face at seeing the surprised look on her beautiful features; then I kicked out with my boot knife straight at her knee.

    In hindsight, it was foolish of me to think that she wouldn't have anticipated the attack; I had gained much knowledge of her style, and so should she of me. I found that out the hard way as she suddenly slipped sideways, pulling her blades from the block and just managing to dodge my crippling kick. Luckily my skill had prevented me from putting too much pressure on my sword; otherwise, I would have been overbalanced and open to her counter cut. Hence, I knocked aside Katrina a mere millimetre with a desperate defence before the short sword sliced through my guts.

    Elandria's second attack was a thrust, the tip of Setsukia moving so fast straight at my face that the sword seemed to phase into reality, and I leaned away. My dodge was quick enough to keep Setsukia from impaling my skull but not fast enough to prevent it from opening an ugly, gigantic gash across my cheek and tear off Feuilt's bandage.

    Crying out as the horrific pain spread, I leapt back, away from any follow on that Elandria could muster, then fell into a defensive stance.

    Elandria stood, her swords held limply at her sides, grinning at me with that sinister grin of hers.

    "You are slowing down," she stated.

    I could barely respond with the lull in the combat; my fatigue was back at full force, my heart was thudding through my chest at a mile a minute, and I couldn't stop gasping for breath if only I were at full strength if only I could breathe properly.

    Elandria shrugged. "You are weakened, but even at your best, Attelus Kaltos, I am sure that I would win."

    "Dream...on," I managed and glanced briefly over my shoulder to check on Feuilt and Olinthre, who both stood frozen still with expressions of utter awe.

    "I don't want to fight you, Elandria," I said, turning back to her.

    "Really, why did you try to shoot me then?"

    My jaw twitched slightly, so I don't have to waste my frigging time fighting you, and I was aiming at your leg. I also thought but said nothing finding it hard to imagine a convincing lie.

    "So tell me, El," I said in an attempt to change the subject. "Did I save all those people at the Twilight bar?"

    "Not this again," she growled.

    My jaw set as sudden anger welled at the pit of my guts. "Yes, this again," I growled, "did I or didn't I? Now spit it out before I kill you."

    Her face turned grim. "I am not telling you, so if you by some miracle actually kill me, you will miss out on it."

    "There are no miracles; there is only men," I said, suddenly recalling the quote although I could not quite remember from where it came.

    She grinned again. "If that is true, then you are positively screwed."

    I grinned back. "Then I am positively screwed, I guess, but really, I don't mind that it would be you who screwed me."

    Elandria's face immediately turned a stark red, evident in contrast to her deathly pale skin.

    I stepped forward, looking her straight in the eyes, her drugged dead but somehow still beautiful brown eyes. "I-I don't want to fight you, Elandria."

    "Why?" she asked.

    "Because I don't want to fight you!" I yelled.

    "Why don't you want to fight me?"

    "Because I don't want to kill you!"

    "Why don't you want to kill me?"

    My reply caught in my throat; why was she pushing this? Damn it! I turned my attention to the floor, unable to keep eye contact with her any more.

    "B-because I don't want you to die, Elandria."

    "Why, Attelus don't you want me to die then?" she said softly.

    I glanced at her. Why, because you are so damn beautiful, it hurts every time I look at you?

    "Just because!" I snapped.

    It was pathetic! But I couldn't; I just couldn't talk properly; my heart leapt like it wanted to burst out of my chest, my throat had a massive lump in it, it was hard so, so hard.

    It was strange going from one second fighting her, to this, me struggling to confess, well I had no real idea what I wanted to admit exactly.

    She tilted her head slightly, her pale face a mask of utter bemusement.

    "Why, Attelus, why?"

    "Because Elandria," I sighed, "I don't want you to die; it's because I know what you have been through."

    I paused, trying to swallow back the lump in my throat, "and I know that you never had any choice in the matter, any choice to be what you wanted to be, to do what you wanted to do. That-that any real choice in your life was stolen from you when you were so young a-and you didn't deserve that Elandria, no one does; I-I want you to live so you could one day have your own life to escape this crap, too."

    My left hand clenched into a tight ball while the right gripped my sword's hilt all the harder, "and that may be in your new life that I'd be able to be part of it, that I'd like to be by your side to help you through I-I."

    I dropped my sword and kicked it away.

    "W-what are you doing?" she demanded, her voice now high pitched, almost scared, her expression of grim determination disappearing entirely into one of extreme uncertainty.

    "Giving you a choice Elandria," I answered, feeling tears welling in my eyes. "You can kill me or let me pass, but either way, I know now that you truly aren't the monster that you claim to be; your uncertainty now is proof of that."

    Elandria was shaking in utter terror now, and I could even see tears in her own eyes; she had utterly no clue what to do, "Attelus..."

    I closed my eyes, "just make the choice, Elandria; I won't fight it either way."

    "What the hell are you doing!" I heard Olinthre roar, "don't just give up, you idiot!"

    I ignored him, and despite my eyes being closed, the tears now flowed freely.

    "I-I," stammered Elandria, "I don't understand, I-I just don't, why can't, why can't I do it? Why can't I kill you?"

    Then I heard a clatter as she dropped her swords. "I-I can't."

    My eyes opened, and I was greeted for the first time Elandria cry, and by the Emperor, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen as they weren't tears of sadness; they were tears of joy, utter joy.

    In all honesty, I had expected her to kill me that her years of brainwashing would win, so to see her Elandria somehow overcoming it was so astonishing I could not help stand in shock and awe. It filled me with such unbelievable hope that if she could do it, why couldn't I?

    Despite my self, I approached her, pulling her into an embrace she didn't fight, only tightly embracing me back and sobbed raggedly into my chest.

    I held her all the more, and it was then I truly realised that I loved her, and she truly loved me too, and the joy it brought was beyond description.

    The single gunshot roared, reverberating the very corridor to the core, and Elandria suddenly gasped, her eyes widening with shock, and she collapsed so fast that I had no time to catch her. I just saw with dawning, utterly numbing horror the vast ragged hole in her back.

    My shock was so intense I never saw Taryst slip back through the curtains at the end of the corridor, a smoking gun in his grasp; neither did I hear Olinthre scream the rogue trader's name and run after him nor Feuilt sprint up to try to help me with Elandria.

    I fell to my knees and slowly pulled her into my arms, turning her limp form over so I could look into those big brown beautiful eyes; it seemed so unreal I couldn't begin to comprehend.

    She smiled weakly and whispered, "you're so stupid."

    "H-how?" I managed.

    "Th-that you didn't believe Castella when she said you saved all those people," her voice was barely a whisper now. "Because you did save those people, Attelus, you did."

    "Please don't talk, El," I said, wiping away my tears with a forearm. "T-try to save your strength."

    "Thank you, Attelus Kaltos," she said, ignoring my plea, and she placed a soft hand against my cheek. "Thank you for caring for me despite all I did, thank you for being the only one who-who."

    She never got to finish her sentence as her hand fell away, and she gasped one last time, then died still cradled in my arms.

    This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 00:39:00

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    It must have been a good minute that I knelt and held her close, the world; everything was but a blur, my attention fixated down, down to the only girl I had ever really loved. I never loved Glaitis, no it was some form of sick, idiotic infatuation developed from her oppression that both Taryst and I had mistaken for love.

    I felt nothing, not the tears flowing down my face or even Elandria's blood soaking through my clothes; it was unreal, nothing real.

    But no matter how long I held and looked down at her, she was still dead; there was no miraculous opening of eyes, no sharp gasp for air. I would've attempted genuine resuscitation if I wasn't so brain dead. Or perhaps deep down, I knew that it would be all for nought.

    Feuilt was the one who brought me back to reality, the medicae actually having to grab me by the shoulders and physically shake me to do it.

    "She's dead," I said, never hearing Feuilt's yelling even though he was right in my face. "The bitch is dead."

    Feuilt's sudden backhand connected with my face, sending agony through my cheek.

    "If you loved her, then don't you dare talk about her like that!" He yelled while flicking his hand to cope with the pain.

    I clutched my jaw, staring at the floor, then sudden anger welled within me, and my attention snapped straight up at the medicae.

    "Why the hell not!" I roared. "She was a bitch to die on me; how could she do this to me, how could she!"

    "Do you actually think that this death was by her choice?" snapped Feuilt with extreme exasperation. "Are you so damned selfish and arrogant that you believe that she died on purpose to spite you? To make your life more miserable? What? To add more stupid melodrama to this slowed story of yours? Grow up!"

    "B-but she-!"

    "It was a bullet in the back!" He interrupted. "She never saw it coming, Attelus! Even I could tell that she wanted more than anything to be with you! That she wanted to live! Get the hell over yourself!"

    He was right; I was being idiotic, had my paranoia got so rampant that I would believe that she would do this on purpose? I felt physically sick at the very thought.

    Feuilt approached me and leaned down to take Elandria from my arms.

    "W-what do I do now?" I asked Feuilt.

    "Take Elandria, take her back to my clinic; you are in no condition to do much else right now."

    I wordlessly nodded, looking away, ashamed of my pathetic performance.

    "W-what about you?"

    "I am staying," said Feuilt. "Olinthre ran into Taryst's den someone needs to help him."

    "I-I loved her."

    "I know Attelus, I know you did," said Feuilt. "Now go."

    Nodding again, I began to get to my feet but hesitated midway.

    "No," I said.

    "Excuse me?"

    "I said no, Taryst did this; I need to know why, and I need to make him pay."


    "This isn't up for argument, medicae," I interrupted while giving him Elandria. "You're a good person, Feuilt; you deserve to live; I won't allow you to throw your life away, not for this."

    Feuilt looked like he was about to argue but stopped, nodded understanding and made for the elevator.

    "Don't die, Attelus Kaltos," he said. "Life is tough, but you must live on, or let me reiterate, don't let yourself die."

    I looked over my shoulder. "I won't Feuilt, I swear it," I said and meant every word; I was a coward but not that much so.

    Then I went to collect my weapons.

    Cautiously with autopistol raised, I approached the curtains leading into Taryst's den.

    I was angry; I was more than angry, as white-hot rage welled at the pit of my guts rage that I could barely hold it at bay.

    But I held back the urge to rush in blind; in all likelihood, Taryst had heard my conversation with Feuilt, so he must know very well that I was coming.

    I had learnt my lesson on the potential consequences of letting anger rule you after what happened with Vex.

    Near the curtains, I stopped, clenched my teeth, then in the blink of an eye, my sword was drawn while holding up my pistol, and with one clean arc, the monomolecular enhanced edge sliced cleanly through the think fabric.

    Quickly I covered the room with my pistol sweeping the gun professionally from left to right.

    From what I could see, the room was empty; nothing had changed since my last time here, still with that marble fountain, the couches set around it, the small tables at each couches end and that massive adamantium steel door on the opposite wall.

    Sheathing my sword, I stepped inside; in a double-handed grip, my pistol still swayed back and forth, my gaze still searching for some semblance of life somewhere anywhere; there were a few places to hide I could see behind one of the couches or the fountain.

    My heart leapt in my chest as my anger overtaken by fear; I didn't like this at all; something was wrong.

    The sudden crash behind me almost made me almost jump out of my skin, and I spun to see.

    A shield was on a void shield that Taryst had installed in case of a firefight in the corridor, as, obviously, the fancy red curtains wouldn't provide much cover for the rogue trader. I couldn't get through unless I destroy the power source, which I couldn't help believe to be at the bottom of that elevator behind that adamantium door.

    There would be no going back now.

    I turned back around.

    "Taryst, I know you're there!" I yelled at the top of my lungs; my patience already worn away. "Come out and show yourself!"

    No answer.

    "Get out here now, or I'll-!"

    "Or you will what Attelus?"

    Without hesitation, my aim snapped straight to the voice's source, on my right side, an area I could have sworn to be empty the last time I looked a mere second ago.

    My eyes widened as I saw who it was. "Olinthre!"

    The major stood his hands up and empty and looking nervously at my raised pistol. "Uhh yes, it's me, kid. Now could you lower that gun of yours?"

    I didn't; I kept it firmly trained on him. "What the hell happened, Tolon? Where the hell's Taryst?"

    Olinthre shrugged. "When I came in, the place was empty; my guess is that he already went down the elevator to safety."

    "Did you turn on the shield?"

    "No, Taryst must have; I wouldn't have a clue how to do it now. Could you please put down the gun, Attelus?"

    "No, and how the hell did you just suddenly appear there? I could have sworn that no one was there a second ago."

    Olinthre smiled. "Maybe it's your mind playing tricks on you Attelus, you've been through so much today; why don't you just go home and rest."

    "I can't exactly do that as I am trapped in here," I smiled back. "Now, who the hell are you?"

    Olinthre's smile abruptly disappeared. "It's me, Olinthre; who else could I be?"

    I shook my head, feeling pride well within my chest as it all just suddenly came together, as all the evidence just seemed to fall into place unexpectedly. "Now it all makes sense, yess. This explains why Taryst changed his ideals, why it was Barhurst's retinal scan in the records instead of Taryst's. Why Taryst ordered his prized psyker to be in a drug-induced coma, the answer is obvious. I'm just ashamed that I didn't think of it sooner; it's because Taryst isn't really Taryst, just like you aren't really Olinthre."

    The smile was just suddenly back on Olinthre's face. "Oh, you think you have it all figured out now, do you?"

    Ignoring the sarcasm, I grinned. "Indeed, so what are you exactly? Who are you working for?"

    I swallowed back the lump in my throat before I asked the last question. "And most importantly, why the hell did you kill Elandria?"

    Olinthre grinned evilly and shook his head. "Foolish child, you think that you are so smart, don't you?"

    Suddenly the major was no longer the major seemingly fading from existence, and Olinthre was replaced by...Me a perfect mirror image of me, everything copied down from my flak jacket and thin build, my pale skin and long brown hair.

    "Is this appearance more pleasing for you?" the new Attelus Kaltos asked me.

    I barely kept my composure, barely kept my pistol aimed. "W-what the hell are you?"

    Attelus grinned back at me and said in a voice also my own. "Why anyone you want me to be, so who do you want me to be? Oh, I know!"

    My image fazed away and was replaced by the tall long-limbed form of Glaitis. "Hmmm, young one now is this more pleasing now?"

    "I assume that you can turn invisible as well? That is how you appeared so suddenly; how long have you been masquerading as Taryst?"

    Glaitis shrugged. "I do not see any harm in telling you, child; it was since the night of the Twilight bar incident."

    "And before that you were Barhurst, were you always Barhurst?"

    The Glaitis thing smiled. "I was indeed Barhurst but only for the past half of a year."

    My heart thumped in my throat. "You could have killed me," I managed.

    "Excuse me, young one, you mutter. I cannot quite understand what you said."

    "I-I said that you could've easily killed me before, why didn't you?"

    "Orders," answered not-Glaitis simply.

    "From who?"

    "Why she is standing right in front of you, young Attelus Kaltos."

    "Glaitis? Glaitis is your boss?"

    "Got it in one!" said not-Glaitis. "Did you not ever wonder why Glaitis had engineered the Twilight bar incident? And no, it was not to plant listening devices, it was not even to capture that throne agent-"

    Then it hit me. "It was so we would draw out Taryst's psyker!"

    "Yes, so I could get a clear opening to Taryst without the psyker filth being there to get in my way, my mind may be unreadable for her, but she still could have stopped me."

    "And Taryst?"

    Not-Glaitis grinned. "Dead; his corpse is rotting down in the bunker as we speak; he never saw me coming."

    I blinked my mouth agape, all this information; this revelation was almost too much. I never imagined that all of this had happened behind the scenes, that Glaitis could outplay Taryst so easily.

    "So you now understand, young one, we are indeed on the same side?"

    With those arrogant words, my confusion was suddenly back into anger. "So if we are on the same side, why, why the hell then did you kill Elandria!" I roared.

    "Again orders," answered not-Glaitis simply. "She was losing her edge; she was no longer worthy of working for Glaitis, so her life was forfeit."

    "What? So her finding her humanity made her expendable?" I yelled. "Is that why?"

    "Essentially, yes."

    The rage was almost all-consuming; my breaths were ragged gasps that hissed as air inhaled and exhaled through clenched teeth.

    "Tell me one reason why I shouldn't kill you right now," I snarled.

    The not-Glaitis shrugged still with that snide smile. "Why young Attelus, it would take a lot less time to tell you the reasons why you should kill me."

    My gun still on the not-Glaitis, I glanced at the adamantium door.

    "I presume you have access to that door?"

    For a second, a bemused expression crossed not-Glaitis' face. "Of course I do; why do you care?"

    "Because I need you to take me down there."


    "Because...Just because! Damn it!" I snarled as a plan was already forming in my mind. "Now you should really be asking yourself, do you or don't you want a bullet in your brain!"

    The Glaitis thing shook Its head. "You really do believe that you have the upper hand, don't you?"

    I grimaced about to reply when suddenly my pistol was gone from my grasp and flying across the room; then the not-Glaitis punched me in the chest, or what I believed to be a punch it was so fast I couldn't tell.

    Raw pain erupted through my torso as the blow sent me head over heels, face-first into the red carpet. Running on instinct, I suddenly rolled into a crouch, my sword suddenly drawn and searching the room for my enemy.

    It was gone; the living quarters was once more empty.

    I sighed; now, this was going to be one hard fight.

    After I climbed to full height, my ragged gasps echoed through the room, my chest hurt like all hell, and I could not help but suspect one of my ribs may be broken.

    It could have been a killing punch if the Thing had aimed at my centre, at my solar-plexus, so perhaps this proved that It was under orders not to kill me, but I didn't want to kill It either It being the only one with access to the bunker where my objective still lay.

    Again I glanced around, this time in search of my lost pistol and found it! Lain on the floor next to the door, but I had to immediately restrain myself from lunging for it knowing the Thing would be lying in wait, using it as bait.

    "So!" I said, thinking that if I could make It talk, that It would give away Its position. "What did you do with Olinthre, kill him too?"

    "You will see," came Its reply immediately, but the Things words seemed to echo from every corner, which made me curse aloud, of course, it'd know how to throw its voice, frig it!

    The Thing laughed an unsettling halting sound that sent shivers up my spine.

    My brow furrowed, my teeth clenched, and I spun, slashing out my sword in a sudden 180-degree arc.

    Nothing, and I heard it laugh just a millisecond before the blow smashed into my back, sending waves of pain through me and crashing me back to the floor.

    "Sure, keep that up," It said as I blindly attempted to attack in the general direction of the blow. "Keep slashing into the air, wear yourself out, allowing me an easier target, and I thought you were meant to be smart."

    In all honesty, I was worn out, my general lack of any apparent fitness and my brief but brutal fight with Elandria making sure of that.

    The thought of Elandria made the rage all of a sudden rush back, and with the pain temporarily forgotten, I began to get up slowly. But then the vicious kick connected with my side sending more waves of agony through me and forcing me onto my knees as I gasped for breath and coughed.

    "I may be under orders not to kill you, Attelus," it said. "But I am quite fond of loopholes-"

    It paused to kick me again, this time in the guts making me bend forwards.

    "-But mistress Glaitis never said that you could not be 'half alive,' did she?" another kick came this right in my crotch, complete agony tore through me, tears abruptly blurred my vision, and I saw stars I would have screamed out if not so winded.

    I rolled over, clutching myself and weeping openly. "I don't know," I whimpered. "But, there's, one, thing, I, do, know."

    "And what is that, you pathetic little wretch?"

    I managed a shaky grin. "You...will see."

    Again the things laughter echoed. "I truly doubt it, child, but before I knock you unconscious, there is one thing I would like to know."

    I didn't reply; I couldn't; the agony was too horrid, sickness welled in my guts so much I was afraid that I would puke in any second, and I could barely keep my eyes open.

    "Why do you want to go through that door so badly?"

    "Don't you know?"

    "Of course I don't know, you stupid boy!" it snarled. "Why would I be asking if I did?"


    "Tell me, if you do, I will knock you out now and spear you any more pain."

    Despite myself, I laughed; although it sent more waves of pain, I sniggered and said, "no."

    In the blink of an eye, I slashed out my sword, and again it cut through nothingness. But I didn't care; it was more a gesture of defiance, to show I would never give up, not now, not ever.

    "That wasn't my decision, boy," it said. "And like every decision, we all have to face the consequence of it, don't we?"

    "Yes...yes...we...all do."

    Another attack came, this one smashing painfully into my forearm, but now I was ready, keeping myself grounded against the force then cut out in its general direction but found more nothing.

    "I don't care how many times you hit me!" I roared. "I don't care if you break every bone in my body; I will make you pay."

    I smiled. "Anyway, I've already had all my bones shattered once before; what's one more time then?"

    "Insolent child!" It snarled out as a sudden and powerful new instinct made me skid sidewards and back to my feet.

    I had just dodged its attack, I just knew it, and this was emphasised further by the few seconds of silence which followed.

    "I'll ask you once again, why do you want to enter into the bunker so badly, Attelus?" It said, finally breaking the lull.

    "Why do you want to know so badly, Thing?" I countered; now It was uncertain, no longer brimming with such confidence, and knowing that made me smile.

    "This is not a game, child; answer the question."

    "No," and struck out but once more, nothing.

    "Foolish boy," It said, then punched me in the face; my world turned white-hot with pain, and the attack opened the cut on my cheek even further.

    Dazed, I still managed to strike back, but again it proved futile.

    Its kick followed, which impacted into my side, jarring me from head to toe and sending me stumbling a few steps, and yes, my counter was again ineffective.

    A fist smashed into my face, then another and another, each making me see stars and feel more horrific pain.

    But even still, I kept my footing, despite the agony, despite the black spots in my vision and wooziness again, I countered, and again it was for nothing.

    "Why don't you go down!" It growled and punched the attack opening the cut along my cheek even more.

    "Guess I'm tougher than you thou-"

    Another punch interrupted me, crashing painfully against my cheek, but this one, I couldn't keep my footing. Too tired, too off-balance, and the impact flung me into one of the nearby tables, but I managed to stop myself falling further, leaning against it for support.

    "Shut up!" It yelled and punched at me once more.

    I moved, sidestepping the punch while simultaneously picking up one of the bottles of alcohol and smashing it into where I thought Its face was.

    The Thing shrieked in agony as the bottle shattered, the shards of glass embedded into its skin, and the alcohol seeped into Its wounds.

    It stumbled away, now a disembodied, floating puddle of liquid that was beginning to mix with blood. "How did you know where I was?" It screamed through Its cries.

    "The blood from the cut on my face," I managed. "The blood which still coats your hands and has splattered all over you, you bastard!"

    My kick connected into it with a satisfying crunch and sending It hurtling to the floor, where It rolled around and moaned pathetically.

    I began to approach It but felt an overwhelming wave of nausea that sent me stumbling to keep my feet; shaking it away, I retrieved my sword, pinned the squirming figure underfoot and lowered the edge of my blade near the creature's throat, which made It yelp out in fear.

    "Now, whatever the hell you are, you will open that damn door for me," I growled. "And you are going to do it right, now."

    I placed more pressure with my foot onto the creature, which made it squirm all the more. "And change into something I can see, don't want you trying anything," I paused, "and if you even think of changing into Elandria, I will...Well, I don't know what I would do."

    "You will regret this-!"

    Sudden rage almost overtook me, anger that I'd been holding back for a long time. I leaned closer to the Thing, placing slightly more pressure with my sword and said with slow deliberateness. "Oh, perhaps I will, but you won't be able EVER to regret anything if you don't do it now!"

    The Thing laughed. "Can you hear yourself?" It cried. "You sound like a child! You wouldn't know how to intimidate someone even if you had a sword at their throat."

    "Do you want to die?" I asked, "I should really just kill you right now."

    "Why?" It asked. "Because I killed Elandria? I was under orders to kill her! I am like you, an assassin; we are the weapon! We are the tool! The one you should be avenging Elandria on is Glaitis-"

    I shook my head and immediately regretted it as the dizziness came back; my face was numb now, the newly forming bruises throbbing like hell. "Stop it! Just stop it!" I snarled. "There is just one! One! Question is looming over you right now, so shut up! Just shut the hell up! And make your damn decision!"

    "I should have killed you when I had the chance," It said sullenly.

    I smiled. "Yes, you really should have; I bet that you're regretting following Glaitis' order not to kill me now, aren't you?"

    The Thing changed, shimmering into form, into a mirror image of me. Me with an expression of frustration and pain but otherwise untouched with injury, no shards of glass protruding from my clone's face, and I couldn't help shake my head in evident distaste; why the hell did it have to change into me again?

    It smiled up at me, obviously enjoying my discomfort.

    I grimaced in disgust. "Get up and slowly."

    "Of course," and It did as told all the while still grinning at me evilly.

    "What the hell did you do to Olinthre?"

    It sighed, a familiar mocking sound. "Really, Attelus, do you really care?"

    "Would I be asking if I didn't?" I growled.

    The Thing tilted its head in amusement. "You do love to turn my own words against me, don't you? All this smart mouthing doesn't seem to be from someone meant to be mourning- ack!"

    It was interrupted by me placing more pressure with my sword against Its neck. "Yes, taunt me more, just see how that turns out for you," I hissed.

    "You are aware this has happened before, hasn't it?" It said. "But then you had me at gunpoint just mere minutes ago, and I got out with no problem, didn't I?"

    That I was well aware of, but now I knew or at least had a basic idea of my opponent's skill and speed, but that was immaterial even with such knowledge, I was still on the verge of collapsing. I could barely keep my eyes open; everything hurt. I was sure if my opponent chose to take the offensive, I wouldn't stand a semblance of a chance even with my sword against Its throat.

    Despite all of this and the pain, it caused I still forced a slow, deliberate grin to spread across my bruised, swollen face. "Alright, do it."

    The eyebrows on my clone's face raised in bemusement. "What?"

    "Do it, get out of this, just do it, show me."

    It looked at me, now not so sure of itself or not so sure of me; either way, I was getting somewhere.

    "DO IT!" I roared suddenly, and with such force, it made my enemy flinch in fright and even surprised myself.

    It stood there motionless, Its hazel eyes never leaving mine; how long we stood face to face, I didn't know; was it seconds? Minutes? But it felt like forever, all the while my heart leapt in my throat; in any second, I knew it could lunge forward and take me down; in any second, it could disarm me and break my neck. The pressure was intense every second I had to fight the fear twisting in my guts. Every second I had to fight to keep my feet from going out from under me; every second was a war to keep my eyes locked to Its as I knew if I looked away for a millisecond, It would have me.

    But finally, finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, Its jaw twitched in frustration, and It let out a slight sigh of defeat as It looked to the floor.

    "Now tell me, what did you do to Olinthre?" I said, trying hard to keep the relief from my voice.

    My expression on Its face turned into one of extreme shame; whether this was at It being outplayed by me or it's a shame of what It had done to the major, I wasn't sure.

    "He is behind that couch," It said with a gesture indicating which one.

    I pursed my lips. "Lead the way."

    Its jaw clenched, turned and moved toward the couch as I kept my blade against the back of Its neck.

    We slowly walked around the couch and found a dead major Olinthre his handsome face was now a deep shade of purple, his eyes were almost bulging from their sockets, and his tongue was hanging loosely from his mouth; it was apparent he was suffocated.

    Luckily Its back was to me so that it couldn't see my pain; Olinthre seemed to be a good person, and his death I felt to be responsible for, me being the one having egged him on into this.

    Olinthre didn't deserve this fate; he really didn't.

    "Now you know why you must not kill me, Attelus," It said with surprising melancholy. "The only way we can keep this charade up is if I can go on pretending to be Taryst if both Taryst and Olinthre here are dead and anyone finds out, Emperor only knows how the men under their command would react."

    "Well then, why the hell did you kill him then?" I said. "When you did this, you must have been aware of the potential consequences..."

    "He was going to kill me Attelus, if I had tried to talk to him as Taryst, he was going to kill me, and I still have a mission to complete."

    Olinthre was dead, and there was nothing more I could do for the poor major.

    "Alright, move," I said, "open that damned door."

    It nodded, and we turned toward that massive adamantium door.

    "Are you just going to kill me once I get that door open for you?" It asked.

    I smiled. "No, I still need to bring you to the bunker, just in case if there are any traps or security measures you will have to bypass for me."

    As we walked, I glanced down at my pistol still on the floor a good three metres away and well out of reach.

    I didn't dare to try and get the gun as the act of doing so could potentially give the Thing an opening.

    We approached the door, and It immediately flipped a slight switch which caused a touchpad to emerge from a hidden compartment in the wall.

    It reached over with my long spindly fingers and began to type in the code.

    "What's the password?" I asked.

    It paused in its typing and looked over Its shoulder at me, Its hazel eyes full with what seemed to be embarrassment. "Uhhh..."

    "What's the frigging password!" I yelled right in its ear while pushing more pressure with my sword.

    "Alright! It's-it's," It sighed. "It's j-garrakson."

    I raised an eyebrow in bemusement. "What?"

    "Please don't ask me for the details."

    I opened my mouth to ask anyway but decided against it.

    It finished typing, and immediately, what looked to be a retinal scanner slid out next to the keypad.

    It placed its face into the scanner.

    "Subject identified as Deltath Barhurst, access granted."

    The large doors opened in a slow, almost overdramatic way, revealing the grim, metal elevator inside.

    "You first," I said, giving It a light shove as we stepped inside.

    The Thing pushed the down button on the elevator, and it began its descent.

    "So, I see that you logged into the system as Barhurst with the retinal scan," I said.

    The Thing didn't reply. It only gave me a distinctly contemptuous sidelong glare.

    "From that, I can only assume, you can't actually shape change," I carried on. "Not properly anyway, the image which I see that is me is an illusion, so six months ago when you killed Barhurst, you had his eyes implanted into your skull, which really shows that you are very, very dedicated to your work."

    "Oh, so clever of you to figure that out," It said with a sarcastic sneer. "Do you want a medal?"

    I smiled. "So it's true then."

    The Thing only shrugged.

    It was then the elevator found its destination, and the doors slid open.


    "Yeah, yeah!" It interrupted, "me first, I know."

    We emerged from the lift and into the room beyond it was stark and bright, white tiles lining the walls and the floor. On each side were what looked to be large cells, six in total, and at the end was another doorway.

    "So, what now?" It asked over Its shoulder. "Are you going to kill me now?"

    "What's behind that door?" I asked, intentionally avoiding the question.

    The Thing sighed. "It's Taryst's panic room where he keeps his cogitators and surveillance systems and supplies just in case."

    I smiled. "Of course it is; how far are we below the planet's surface?"

    "Approximately seven miles," It said. "And before you ask, you do not need a retinal scan for access; it's a password again, and that again is j-garrakson."

    I shook my head; why did Taryst have all his passwords in Garrakson's name? Everything was getting stranger and stranger.

    "How do you open the containment cells?"

    "Each is opened with a basic switch outside each cell," It informed and looked at me again wide-eyed. "Are you going to kill me?"

    I met Its gaze, intentionally letting its question hang for a few seconds. 'No," I said and smacked It over the skull with the hilt of my sword.

    "Not yet."

    Stepping over the Thing's unconscious form, I walked toward the door looking intently through the windows of each cell.

    The first two were empty, but the second on the right wasn't.

    A corpse lay, and that corpse was without doubt Taryst, recognisable even after a while of decomposition.

    I wasn't sure what to feel, I held no love for the rogue trader, but he was one of those people who seemed larger than life. He had terrific charisma, a force of great personality before he retreated into this psychotic paranoia which ironically was one of the key reasons for his death.

    My attention turned back to the Thing masquerading as me, and for a second, some sick professional respect for it came to me; this Thing was a true assassin, one that behind the scenes had influenced so much in this game almost single-handed. It infiltrated Taryst's organisation without being detected for months waiting patiently for when to strike. It killed Taryst; one of the greatest rogue traders in the sector took his place as the head of a multi-planet organisation, and acting in such a convincing way, it managed to fool men who had been working under Taryst for decades. So much so that only one realised something was wrong and thought it had killed the girl I loved, and I would forever hate it for that. But It was good, very good I had to give It that.

    I sighed and moved onto the last two cells, and the one on the right made me freeze in my advance.

    A woman was in the cell; she lay on the floor in a deep sleep with a drip feed in her arm, she was blonde, and she was without a doubt the woman I had sparred within my dream.

    This must be Karmen Kons, the pet psyker of Taryst, the one who had allowed the rogue trader to delve into the minds of his employees and worked so long behind the scenes.

    She was beautiful with a lean if a bit malnourished body and heart-shaped face.

    This woman must know a lot; she was very close to the diseased rogue trader, perhaps even more so than Barhurst.

    If I could help her into consciousness if I could get her talking about what I could learn from her, but did I want to know it?

    I sighed again and turned away from the cell to the next and what I saw made me drop my jaw in utter horror.

    The corpse that lay within was barely recognisable after what must have looked to be a few months of decomposition. Still, being in such a stark environment, it could have been dead a lot longer; I could only be thankful that the door kept the stench inside.

    It wore a robe one that looked like a priest of the Ecclesiarchy would wear; although I wasn't sure who it was, I could see it was once a girl.

    I knew then, without a doubt, this was the Interrogator I was sent to take a pict of. I had this plan in my mind that if she were alive, I would force this chameleon thing to change into her, and then I'd kill It take a photo of its corpse. Send that to Edracian, then escape with the real Interrogator, maybe making whoever this person's master was, in my debt.

    That was the reason why I had knocked the Thing unconscious to see if It could hold onto a form while out cold. I glanced over to it, seeing that It still kept my appearance.

    Well, it looked like that plan was down the drain, and I reached into my pocket for the pict taker.

    But then it hit me like a punch to the guts, which made my eyes go wide, and my mouth gaped. If the good medicae Feuilt had been down here numerous times to give the psyker her daily dose of drugs, he must have at some point seen the two corpses in these cells; he must have known that one was Taryst! Wait, what it was, he said before I went through the curtains to confront Taryst; "Don't die Attelus Kaltos, life is tough, but you must live on, or let me reiterate, don't let yourself die."

    Did he know about me being poisoned?

    Feuilt was the spy that Edracian had bragged about, and not just that, he was also working under Glaitis as well; Feuilt was a triple agent!

    But how did he dodge the unscrupulous gaze of the psyker?

    I glanced over my shoulder to the unconscious form in the other cell; she knew something; she must know something. I turned back to the cell with the Interrogator's corpse. I pulled out the pict taker in my jacket's pocket and took the picture.

    "Well, well well!" came the voice through my thoughts, so suddenly, I almost made myself jump out of my skin. "You did it, Attelus Kaltos; why I am quite impressed."

    "Edracian!" I snarled. "Feuilt was your spy!"

    The Inquisitor laughed. "Of course, I thought it would be obvious, he was Glaitis' spy, Taryst's medicae but all along truly my agent, and I have another thing to tell you."


    "You were never poisoned, Attelus; we injected you with a nerve agent. You are not going to die; there is no cure; you never needed one!"


    "You did well, Attelus Xanthis Kaltos, you really, really did well. You jumped through all my hoops like a good little pawn."

    With a roar of rage, I smashed my fist against the glass of the nearest containment cell.

    "You bastard!" I yelled, "You frigging bastard! I swear! I will kill you! I will hunt you down, and you will pay! How dare you, how frigging dare you!"

    Edracian's voice only laughed. "Why are you so upset? Are you not used to being a pawn already? You have always been one, so it would seem logical."

    Then the voice was gone.

    I let out another roar and kicked the glass of the cell holding the comatose Karmen Kons, and I was about to kick again but stopped then pushed the switch to the jail.

    This Karmen Kons she was was going to help me; she would tell me all the information I needed, whether she wanted to or not.

    This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 02:23:34

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    The small cell stunk. Karmen Kons was hooked up to a medical apparatus similar to the one I was on when in a coma. It was made to hold the coma patient's body waste. But that was sealed tight; she stunk as someone would after not taking a shower in a month.

    I grimaced, gagging at the smell but hesitated, instead looked back to the Thing on the floor and hissed a curse under my breath. It could wake up any second, and here was I just letting it just lie out in the open. My teeth clenched with anger at my inherent idiocy, I walked over to the Thing and opened the nearest cell, punching the switch with a frustrated fist. I then grabbed it from its ankles and hauled It into the cell with a grunt.

    After closing the holding cell, I walked to the door at the end of the room; there must be something behind it that I could use to revive her.

    Setting my jaw, I hurriedly typed in 'jgarrakson' into the keypad, hoping to hell that the Thing had told the truth about not needing a retinal scan for access.

    But my worries were quickly allayed as the doors slid open, revealing the room beyond.

    I slipped inside my sword raised in a defensive posture and found myself wishing that I'd brought my pistol and that I'd drilled the mimic for more answers as who knows what defences that Taryst kept inside?

    The room was quite large and brightly lit, although the architecture was not as starkly white as the last room. It had a simple, practical layout that surprisingly contrasted Tayst's quarters' pretentious opulence on the top of the tower.

    In the middle of the room was a large work desk with an inbuilt cogitator and behind that, a small living area, while on the right-hand wall was another door.

    I looked at the desk cogitator; this would have to be the hub of all Taryst's knowledge of how his organisation worked, information on all the projects he had pored his vast wealth into over the decades. Perhaps even the records from his father and his father's father, but by far the most interesting was his true motivations. Why was he so hell-bent on tracking down this Brutis Bones if I could tap into this fountain of knowledge? If I could harness it I... I actually didn't quite know what I would do. I'd have to get Vex down here sometime to take a look.

    Carefully I moved further in; my sword still raised and approached the desk; now, I was no expert on how to use cogitators, but I could use them well. I found it on and immediately treated to the password request screen.

    I smiled, shook my head in contempt and typed in 'jgarrakson', but much to my choler found only the 'access denied' screen. I really shouldn't have been so surprised. It would have been really, truly idiotic of Taryst to have the same password for his files as well as his security doors, and I wiped away the blood from my split lip with a forearm then tried 'garraksonj', but that as well got 'access denied.'

    Sighing, I refrained from trying again with "garrakson" or 'jeurat' the security measures in this I could only safely assume to be in the extreme. If I got it wrong even once more, anything could happen; the cogitator could self-destruct or instantly wipe all the memory; either way, it wouldn't be very beneficial.

    Not very beneficial at all.

    I stepped away from the desk, pushing off it with a violent, frustrated movement, then glanced back over the room, and as I did, I don't know, something about the place just suddenly gave me the creeps.

    The only thing that interested me was the other door, and I walked over to it.

    As I came close, the door opened automatically and hesitantly; I stepped through.

    What greeted me on the other side was row upon row of supplies kept in shelves lining each wall in what must have been decades worth of food, water and just everything, spanning the length of a vast underground corridor.

    "By the Emperor," I said in no small amount of awe as I walked on, looking along the row on my right, I had no idea what to search for, but it was interesting just to look.

    I stopped and peered closer at one of the containers; it was made out of a clear plasteek which allowed me to see my reflection.

    To say I looked frigged would've been the understatement of the millennia; my face was battered, almost beyond recognition swollen and black and blue with bruises the blood from the cut on my cheek had dried, clinging to my face like a tattoo.

    In all honesty, I was surprised that my face wasn't worse; after going through such a severe beating, I was lucky to have all my teeth, and I was tired, by the Emperor was I tired.

    I turned away and began to make my way back to Taryst's quarters and stumbled through the door, then threw myself onto the bed and immediately fell into a deep, deep sleep.

    I dreamed, and everything in the dream seemed to spin forever like I was walking through a whirlwind, and I felt as queasy as all hell as my feet clumsily carried me as I stumbled through the rough, barren terrain.

    For what seemed like hours, this went on and on, and I could hear voices, seemingly hundreds of them from surrounding me; it was as if the spinning vortex was made from these that seemed to whisper in a chaotic, incoherent cacophony.

    But sometimes, I would hear coherent parts, words which I could understand words said in harsh, accusatory tones.

    "Coward!" the voice of my father would hiss.

    "Heretic!" my mother would wail.

    "Liar!" came Olithre's.

    "Useless!" snarled Glaitis.

    At every word, I'd stop in my advance to try to pinpoint its source inside the whirlwind, but no matter how hard I concentrated, it still alluded me. It must have happened dozens of times, just those four accusations breaking through the wall of incoherency.

    Then one word would break through a word that wasn't repeated before I instantly knew its source.


    I spun and found that she stood with me, right inside the whirlwind.

    "Elandria?" I said, taking a step toward her.

    She was wearing the dress she wore when we went to the Twilight bar so long ago now; she was beautiful, almost obscenely so even with her tears black with mascara running down her face.

    "Elandria!" I cried and ran to her, my heart lunging in my chest, but as I came close, her brown eyes suddenly snapped straight into mine with such intensity that it made me stop in my tracks, and she asked, "Why did I die, Attelus?"

    I stood staring at her, my mouth agape. "I-I."

    "Why did I have to die, Attelus Kaltos?" she said, her bottom lip quivering. "What did I do to deserve a bullet in the back? I don't understand it."

    Tears suddenly welled into my vision; what was I to do? Tell her the truth? That Glaitis had ordered her dead because she had found some shred of her humanity?

    I couldn't do that; I just couldn't bring myself to give her such a heinous truth; call me a coward, call me whatever I don't care. I reached out and took her in my arms.

    But I couldn't think anything could manage was; "I-I don't know, El."

    "No," she said no, my shoulder. "No, you know."

    Violently she tore from my embrace. "No, you know exactly why I died!"

    "I don't, El, please!"

    "It's because of you!" she yelled. "You killed me!"

    My heart sank. "No, El, I didn't kill you it w-!"

    "Shut up!" she shrieked. "Stop making excuses! You know you killed me! You did this to me! You killed me! YOU KILLED ME!"

    Before I could reply, I was suddenly hurled clear off my feet and into the air from the share force of her scream and was quickly hungrily engulfed by the hurricane, which began to spin me faster and faster over and over again.

    I closed my eyes and screamed, but the roar of the tornado utterly eclipsed my scream, and it seemed I got torn apart.

    All of a sudden, the hurricane was gone, my feet now inexplicably on solid ground, I had stopped. To describe how being spun through the air at such a speed, then halting was horrific in the extreme. I fell to my knees, gasping for air, my vision a blur, my guts churned with sickness, and I felt as if all my limbs were dislocated.

    It took what must have been a few minutes for my vision to clear, but it felt like hours, and slowly wobbly, I finally managed to climb onto my feet.

    I instantly recognised where I was; the interrogation room where I talked to the man known as No One of Consequence was identical down; this also included the chair with its back facing me, but anything that sat in it, engulfed in darkness.

    My heart thudded in my ears as a fear far stronger than I had ever felt before almost overwhelmed me. I could not help but believe it was Elandria sitting in that chair engulfed in the darkness. I couldn't face her again; she was right; it was all my fault if only I could've done everything differently, if only I could have saved her if I'd known.

    I turned away from the chair and looked to the one-way mirror; I saw myself looking back at me; everything was unsettling; who knew what could be peering at me on the other side of that glass? But despite myself, I began to approach it; seeing the look of extreme apprehension on my thin, I reached out to place the palm of my hand onto the glass.

    As I did, the darkness suddenly engulfing half the room seemed to flicker into light in the mirror, it lasted less than a millisecond, but I was able to catch a glimpse of what was in the chair.

    What I saw made my fear transform into a panic, an extreme panic that sent jolts of pain through my very soul, the panic which made me spin and run to where I remembered to door to be.

    The door was there, but there was no mechanism to open it to my heart retching disbelief. I glanced over my shoulder and saw with dawning horror that the darkness began to slowly spread itself bit by bit to engulf the entire room; it moved haltingly as if in some sickeningly unnatural stop motion.

    I turned back to the door; the terror caused tears to well into my vision. I screamed, smashing my fists against it, begging for someone, anyone, to open the door for me.

    Despite the pain echoing through them over and over again, I bashed and screamed, but no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, the door always stayed shut.

    I never looked over my shoulder, but I could feel it advancing on me, and with it, the fear and anxiety increased simultaneously.

    Finally, I stopped as I knew it was about to fall on me, and I reached for my last shred of courage then turned to face the darkness as it took me into its horrific embrace.

    I stood still, not even daring to move—my ragged, anxious breathing the only identifiable sound in the room.

    Then I felt the hand, the slimy hand slide slowly, almost tenderly down my cheek.

    I clenched my teeth and tried to move, to raise my hand to push it's away, to kick out at it, but it was as if my hands and feet seemed made from stone; I could only cry out in disgust and fear then the light flickered on.

    I was face to face with a corpse that had been rotting for a long, long time; its eyes were missing its flesh, a horrific green with half of its face hanging off.

    I screamed, but my scream cut short as its fingers cold, rotten fingers wrapped around my throat like a vice.

    The lights then began to flicker on and off again, now violently as though done by a belligerent child. Then the corpse's mouth slowly opened and opened and opened until it was gaping open so far that no human could ever manage, and I could hear the sick, slow popping of its bones.

    In all honesty, my fear almost was forgotten as I watched the sheer ridiculousness of it, almost jaw-dropping. Its open mouth suddenly snapped forward, engulfing my vision in darkness.

    With a scream, I awoke, sitting bolt upright in my bed.

    I glanced around to see that I was in a room a small room that was a complete mess with clothing and books, all sorts of junk strewn about with varnished wooden, and through the window, the sunlight poured through the cream coloured curtains.

    Shocked, I jumped out of bed. I knew this place; I knew this room.

    I approached the window, manoeuvring through the mess with finesse and, with a violent motion, jerked open the curtains. The view that greeted me was stunning the huge beautiful lake of Varander and the hilly city itself; this was without a doubt this was my city, my house, my room.

    "Attelus?" called a voice that I knew immediately identified as my mother's. "Attelus, I'm coming in!"

    The door opened, and she stepped in a concerned look on her pleasant face.

    "Attelus, are you, okay I heard-"

    She was interrupted by me embracing her hugging her like I never hugged anyone before.

    In all honesty, in the back of my mind, I knew it was a dream, but sometimes times I truly, truly missed my mum. I still didn't know whether she was alive or not when the chaos invasion engulfed my world. But it would be the most realistic to say she is most likely long dead.

    "Mum!" I cried, hugging her all the harder.

    "A-Attelus! Let go; I can't breath!"

    I immediately did as told. "Sorry, mum, I didn't mean to..."

    "It's alright, son," she said with a smile. "You just need to know your own strength after all that training with your father but is everything okay? I heard a scream."

    "Just a nightmare, mum," I assured her, shaking my head. "Just a nightmare."

    I turned to look out the window again, out to the view of Varander; the last time I had seen the city, it was rubble destroyed almost beyond recognition to see it in its former glory was soothing.

    "Well, it sounded like a pretty horrific nightmare, son," she paused. "Attelus, are you okay I've never seen you be so intent on the view before."

    I smiled and waved her away. "I'm fine, mum. Don't worry so much."

    "Okay," she said hesitantly. "Oh, and I'd like to say, why did you replace me?"

    My brow furrowed in bemusement, and I turned back to her, "what?"

    "Don't 'what' me, my son," she said with slow deliberateness. "Why did you replace me with that Glaitis bitch?"

    I gaped, unsure what to say, completely caught off guard by this outburst.

    "Is it because she's better than me, is that it?" my mother demanded. "Is she a better mother than me?


    "Well, you need to remember Attelus! I gave birth to you! I was the one who raised you, looked after you even after your father left us to go kill people!"

    "Raised me?" I laughed with such contempt; it even surprised me. "Raised me? Who the hell are you kidding! No, you were too frigging busy getting high to look after me! To busy escaping with the damn Obscura!"

    "You have no idea what I was going through!" she screamed back. "You don't understand I needed it. I was in pain because they were always attacking me!"

    I sneered. "What is the frigging daemons again? Is that it, mum? So what next? Will the Emperor himself ride down on a great gold chariot to take you as his bride now? Is that it?"

    "DON'T YOU DARE!" she roared with such fury it almost caught me off guard. "Don't, you, DARE! take, His, name in VANE!"

    "The Emperor was real, Mum. I have no qualms with that, and he was a great man," I said, shaking my head. "But I can't believe him to be a god! How can he have let all this pain and suffering happen? All the injustice? All the death!"

    "Oh, he will, but you will not see His glory! You will not be worthy!"

    "The hell am I not worthy!" I snarled. "Just because I don't follow the teachings of the Ministorum blindly? But otherwise, I'm not an evil person! I follow the laws; I've never killed anyone! I want to be a historian, mum! I will contribute to Imperial society far more than you ever have! So unlike you, I am actually worthy! But it will never happen!"

    "How do you know!" she roared. "How do you know!"

    "Because I live in the real world, mum!"

    She shook her head. "How old are you? You are sixteen! You haven't even lived half as long as I have! You haven't seen nearly enough yet to claim that you live "in the real world"."

    "Well, dad is older than you and holds this same belief!" I said.

    "Don't get me started on your father," she growled.

    I shrugged, turned and went to collect my towel. "Alright, whatever," I sighed. "Now I'm going for a shower."

    "Stop right there, Attelus Xanthis Kaltos," she said with such force I did. "You still didn't answer my question; why did you replace me?"

    "Not this again, mum," I groaned.

    "Yes, this again, son!" she snarled. "Now tell me!"

    I sighed. "It's because mum, it's because you're dead."

    Her eyes widened. "What?"

    "You're dead, mum. I don't know how or when you died, but I know that you're dead; I needed help after the war; I was a street urchin, so I turned to Glaitis," I sighed. "I never meant to replace you, mum. In all honesty, it was really an alliance of convenience..."

    I trailed off in my sentence and said instead. "But there is no such thing as coincidence."

    "I'm dead?" My mother said. "Why?"

    "I'm sorry, mum," I sighed sadly. "But that is the way the universe works, but I have to say before I go, I love you, and I miss you I really, really do I wish oh how I wish everything could be different, that the war never happened, that dad never left us."

    "I love you too, son," she said, and tears began to well in her eyes.

    Again I hugged her. "I love you more, mum, and don't worry, Glaitis could never replace you, never. Now I've really got to go."

    "Where are you going, son?"

    "I'm going to wake up now, mum; this is just a dream."

    "Oh," she said, "goodbye then, my son."

    "Goodbye. My Mum."

    My eyes slowly opened, my vision blurry as I immediately fought to keep my eyes open; this was followed quickly by the dull throbbing ache of my face, which confirmed that I was back in reality.

    With a groan, I rolled over and lost the fight, my eyes seemingly just slamming shut and then came the sudden rush as deep sleep took over.

    But something even stronger, sudden, a horrific sickness hit me. My eyes snapped back open and causing me to throw myself bodily from the bed and sprint through the door into the bathroom beyond. I stumbled over to the toilet and vomited into the bowl, three times in total, mewling pathetically in between each.

    After a few minutes more of moaning, I finally managed to slowly get up from my knees; I approached the sink and ran the tap.

    My face hurt like hell but by far worse was the sickening agony in my groin.

    Splashing water over my face and looked at myself in the mirror, many had said during my life that I was quite handsome, and I guess it was true, but in all honesty, I never actually thought about it; I was just me. But now I was as ugly as all frig.

    I scooped up more water and rinsed my beaten face again, actively avoiding my reflection now and savouring the sting as the water went into the many cuts on my face, which allowed me to forget the pain in my groin briefly.

    The adrenaline had carried me on in the fight with the Thing; it had allowed me to carry on. Now it was gone, and here I was dealing with the damn consequences.

    I shut off the water flow and walked out the door, feeling the fatigue weigh heavily on my eyelids.

    Immediately my eyes snapped wide awake, and my hand shot straight to my sword as I saw a completely conscious Karmen Kons in the doorway.

    We stood for a few seconds staring at each other, her attractive face in an expression of extreme confusion.

    I internally cursed my utter idiocy, realising I had forgotten to close her cell.

    Kons tilted her head slightly. "Attelus?"

    Her word broke me from my frozen state, and without hesitation, I moved, making the distance between us in a millisecond with my sword suddenly held at her throat.

    "Karmen Kons, I assume," I said.

    She looked at me sidelong with wide eyes I could tell her face was one not used to expressing surprise.

    "How-how are you? You? Why are you?"

    I furrowed my brow in bemusement, ignoring the pain as I did. Then it hit me, she must have seen the unconscious Thing that looked like me in its cell, and now here I was. Damn, that would confuse anyone.

    "I...uhhh, uhmm," I muttered, unsure what to say or do, but I could tell she would break from her confusion soon, so if I were to do anything, now would be the time to do it.

    My first instinct was to slit her throat; she was a psyker, so, like all her kind, infinitely dangerous, I was fortunate to have this window of opportunity at all, but something made me hold back.

    "I am Attelus Kaltos," I said hesitantly, searching to find what to say next. "I uhhh."

    "Well, if you are, indeed, Attelus Kaltos," she said, her confused stare suddenly turning into a terrifying glare, and I knew that the window was now well and truly closed. "would you tell me how the hell you are in two places at once?"

    Kons then looked contemptuously down to my sword. "And lower that before I make you lower it."

    Slowly, I did as told.

    "Oh, and by the way, it's nice to meet you face to face, Attelus Kaltos finally," she said lightly. "Even if you are a bit worse for wear."

    My jaw twitched. "Well, I'm sure that you have delved enough into my mind to know almost all there is to know about me."

    She sniggered slightly, now I could tell this woman was confident and used to be in control, and now, she was indeed in control. She seemed to ooze sensuality from her every pore, despite being malnourished and messy.

    "Well, yes," she said. "But it is always nice to finally having a...face to the mind, you could say."

    She suddenly reached out to place her hand on my cheek, the move so out of the blue it made me flinch away in fright.

    "No need to be afraid," she said, moving her hand to compensate. "I see that you really took a beating, didn't you? Who did this to you?"

    "Why don't you just read my mind to find out?" I asked sullenly.

    Kons shrugged. "Oh, I would but am incapable of doing so."


    She pouted her lips and an expression of mock bemusement. "Yeah, it would seem that someone or...Something has placed a strong psychic block on your mind, a mighty one, indeed."

    I frowned, noting her use of 'something' in conjunction with 'someone.'

    I was finding it very to keep hating her; it wasn't because she was a psyker. I had no time for such idiotic discrimination; it was what she had done; so liberally and unethically delved into the minds of people daily for a paranoid tyrant this didn't fit well with me at all.

    But I couldn't keep it up; there was something about her, but I couldn't quite put the finger on, perhaps it was her confidence or her being very attractive or perhaps even using a mind trick, but in all honesty, I didn't care.

    Kons smiled pleasantly, retrieving her hand, "come, Attelus, go sit on and the bed, and I will help you with your wounds, and you can explain to me everything that has happened."

    With that, she turned to walk toward the living area, but my words made her stop in her tracks.

    "If you saw what you thought was me in that cell, you must have seen Taryst in his too?"

    Karmen Kons kept her back to me. "Yes, I did."



    "Well, don't you care?"

    "No, not particularly," she said simply and finally looking over her shoulder at me. "He was my employer, and he paid me well but, I never cared that much for him that much; I could see that his paranoia would be the end of him sooner or later and am I right to assume that it was?"

    "Oh, you have no idea," I said darkly.

    "Well, then tell me while I help you."

    I smiled. "I have a better idea."

    "Oh? And could you please elaborate for me, Attelus?"

    I felt my face flush at her flirtatious tone but doubted it was noticeable from under the intense bruising.

    "An exchange of knowledge. I will tell you what I know only if you tell me what you do. You apparently hold no true liking for Taryst, and now he's dead; I can't see why you wouldn't want to divulge his secrets and then..."

    "And then...?" she said.

    "I propose an alliance, you and I, together."

    She grinned. "Why you really do have a gift for redundancy, don't you, Attelus."

    "I am actually the head of the department of redundancy department, if you really must know."

    She sniggered again, shaking her head. "Sure, sure I'll tell you what I know if you tell me, but I can't guarantee that there will be an alliance."

    "Oh, once you hear what I have to say, you will be very interested in this alliance. That I guarantee," I replied.

    Karmen Kons smiled an amused smile. "Really? I'm sure you have your reasons for such confidence."

    "Shake on it?" I said, my face darkening.

    "Sure," and we did.

    Karmen then turned away and walked into the bathroom while I went and sat on the side of the bed.

    She came back out, holding a medical kit, dropped to her knees and began to take out its contents.

    "I uh, I uhh," I managed.

    "You uhh what?" she asked.

    "I had a dream, and you were in it," I blurted out.

    She briefly looked up at me, then shrugged and went back to sort out the box.

    "It's not surprising, Attelus; I have been in your mind more than once; it would only make sense that my intrusions would resonate in your dreams."

    "If you uhh have been in my mind so often, what did you find?" I asked.

    Kons sighed and began to lightly dab my face with a wet cotton bud which made me clench my teeth slightly at the pain. "You are maybe the most conflicted character I have ever uhh met Attelus; you have been through a hell of a lot, kid. Glaitis has been trying to indoctrinate you for years, but you have still clung to your humanity despite it all."

    She shrugged sadly. "But sooner or later, Attelus, if you are going to stay in your line of work, you have to realise that you can't have it both ways."

    "Why the hell not?" I asked. "Why can't I be human and be an assassin as well? My friend Castella is still human, and she has been one for years."

    Kons smiled. "You're a smart kid, Attelus, but you still can't see what is right before your eyes."

    "And what is that?"

    She sighed, attaching her eyes to mine. "That Glaitis is grooming you, making you into her successor, can't you see that?"

    "What?" my eyes widened. "Why would Glaitis want me to be her successor? I don't understand, I'm not charismatic, I'm not a leader, and Castella Lethe is actually lined up to take over if anything ever happens to Glaitis."

    Karmen Kons shrugged again, a slight, almost defeated movement. "Alright, keep convincing yourself of that now. Will you tell me what you know?"

    I did, telling her everything right from the Twilight bar incident, a brief abridged version, studying her face intently for any interesting reactions along the way. But much to my frustration, I got nothing, even when I told of Taryst's death is at the hands of the Thing and its taking of the Rogue Trader's appearance afterwards.

    The only thing I got an expression to was when I hesitantly told of Elandria's death.

    "I'm sorry, Attelus," she said sadly once I finished. "Elandria didn't deserve the fate she was given, and just when you had finally admitted to her how you felt, Glaitis is a real callous bitch."

    I could only manage a nod in agreement.

    "And you really believe that Glaitis has really aligned herself with the Eldar?"

    "Yes, I believe it to be," I hesitated; I had neglected to tell precisely what the Eldar had said in my dream, but it seemed to eerily fit with what Karmen said just earlier.

    "Well, it would explain a lot," she looked at me. "And you want this alliance so you can get revenge on Glaitis for having Elandria killed?"

    I nodded.

    Her expression turned hard. "Well, once I tell you what, I know that will be the lowest on your list of priorities Attelus, Edracian is here; that means we have truly run out of time."

    "What? Why?"

    "I had no idea that Feuilt was both his and Glaitis' spy; how he had avoided my detection is quite beyond me," said Karmen. "But it's far too late now for regrets; you see, Taryst was working for Edracian."


    "Yes, up until seven months ago, Edracian and Taryst have been allies. We received information from Edracian that an Inquisitor's Interrogator was investigating evidence of their alliance," she sighed. "With the combined information from both Edracian and insiders of the local Arbites and Magistratum, we were able to ambush the Interrogator and his escort soon after they made planetfall on Omnartus."

    "And let me guess, that Interrogator was this Brutis Bones, right?"

    "Yes, you're correct, but you see, Attelus, our initial orders were to kill everyone but Brutis Bones, and many of his lackeys managed to escape our ambush, but we managed to take one of them alive."

    "The dead girl in the cell, right?"

    "You are correct again; we interrogated her for a long time, but finally we managed to get information, but it was information that I wasn't sure we wanted to know."

    "Such as?"

    "Well, it turned out she wasn't a direct colleague to Brutis Bones; her name was Amanda Heartsa, the daughter and interrogator to another Inquisitor named Torathe, that Brutis Bones and she were to collaborate on this investigation."

    She paused, seemingly unsure of how to continue. "She said that Brutis Bones had stumbled over evidence that Inquisitor Edracian directly or indirectly was responsible in no less than twelve separate orders of exterminatus all over the Imperium in the last century. As well as a list of his colleagues, and Taryst was on it. They had come to Omnartus in the hope of getting Taryst to tell of where Edracian was."

    "Exterminatus?" I echoed, exasperated. "It has happened that many times in this century alone?"

    "Yeah, it's hard to believe, isn't it? Well, needless to say, Taryst was shocked at this news as well. He had no idea what to do at first. But in the end, he decided that he would put all his resources into hunting down Brutis Bones, get this information for himself, and erase any information that connected him to Edracian. As well as kill anyone who knew, that is when he hired you and Glaitis for aide."

    She frowned. "And now I see hiring Glaitis that was his biggest mistake."

    "Oh, by the Emperor, and now he is on Omnartus," I said, just realising the implications. "And he made me take a picture of the Interrogator's dead body. Why?"

    "I don't know why he made you do that, Attelus, but it can't be good. But now you see our alliance must be toward hunting down Edracian rather than getting revenge on Glaitis,

    "As we will need her help to track him down."


    I found it hard to breathe, all this at once was hard to take in, and then I remembered No One of Consequence's words back in the Twilight bar, and I shivered in fear.

    I frowned. "Why then Taryst did not just collaborate with Brutis Bones if he was so afraid?"

    Karmen Kons shrugged. "I don't exactly know, but my theory is that he didn't believe that the Interrogator would co-operate after being ambushed and almost killed by our forces. Or he feared retribution from Edracian if he directly collaborated with Bones, but I don't truly know either way, but both seem logical to me. By the way, is your face feeling any better?"

    I nodded; now my cut is covered with a bandage, and it throbbed and hurt of a lot less; then it hit me.

    "Wait!" I exclaimed suddenly. "We have one of Brutis' Bones allies captured from the Twilight Bar incident."

    "Yes, you told me that," said Karmen sardonically.

    "If we want to track down Edracian, we should find Brutis Bones first, and he might be willing to help us to him."


    "The situation has changed since we last interrogated that man Karmen; now we know that Edracian is on Omnartus. So perhaps if we tell him that, then he might be willing to co-operate."

    Karmen Kons' face suddenly lit up. "And we could gain his trust first by freeing him from capture."

    I smiled, which was a hell of a lot easier now. "It's like the old saying: 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' if Brutis Bones could just hear us out, and freeing this man may just announce our desperation in the situation."

    "Desperate times, call for desperate measures," said Karmen.

    I nodded, getting to my feet. "But before we do anything more, we need to get out of here. Do you know how to deactivate the shield upstairs?"

    "Yes, I do, but before we do anything..." Karmen Kons trailed off as she walked over to the kitchen and began to tear open the compartments. "I've really got to get something to eat."

    This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 02:40:52

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    Author's Note: I uploaded all the chapters of Secret War: A Sanction for Sanity before posting this chapter as while it isn't needed reading before this chapter it...well is involved. Also thought I would show these which I could say are Attelus' "theme songs" the 1st with the One Piece AMV really adds to it, as I think the animoos is a strong influence on me. Attelus was a refugee, too and yeah, I'm a real weeb.

    In silence, we sat at the small table in the kitchen Karmen Kons across from me with a massive pile of processed food in front of her that she tore into with animalistic fury.

    I could only watch in shock as she continually shovelled a massive amount of food into her mouth and ripped apart bits of bread ravenously with her teeth.

    Halfway through her feast, I felt my guts growl.

    "Uhh, can I have some, too?" I said, reaching over.

    Her attention snapped straight to me, a feral feline snarl escaping her lips. That immediately made me snatch back my hand in fright.

    "Okay! Okay! That's...yours...then."

    She didn't reply, only eating with even more intensity than before.

    "Can I ask uhm a question?"

    "Sure," she said, no longer feral, but an overly full mouth slurred the word. "Fire...away."

    "I was uhh wondering," I said; there was a hell of a lot of questions at the tip of my tongue; how did you implant the mind blocks? How did you come under Taryst's employee? How did you receive the necessary training for your powers? But one which I didn't care much for was asked instead.

    "Why is Taryst's password Garrakson's name?"

    Karmen Kons swallowed abruptly and answered simply. "Well, Taryst and Garrakson used to be close awhile back."

    I raised an eyebrow. "What?"

    Karmen Kons sniggered her snigger again. "Let's just say that Taryst and Garrakson were a little closer than a normal employer and employee relationship."

    "What? So like friends then?"

    She smiled with food caked teeth. "Closer than that, Attelus."

    "Oh," I said, as I realised what she meant, then my eyes widened and said another. "Oh," as it truly hit home, "but Garrakson-?"

    "Garrakson, the manliest man this side of the Segmentum Obscurus?" she interrupted. "Hard to believe, right? Doesn't make it any less true, though."

    I blinked. "But he teased me all the time because-"

    "Because of your obvious attraction to Elandria?" she said. "But how does that make him straight?"

    At the mention of Elandria, I frowned, and I averted my attention to the floor; I missed her more than I could ever admit.

    Karmen looked away with narrowed eyes, apparently missing my sudden sadness.

    "Well, that was until they fell out," she sighed. "Garrakson really didn't approve of Taryst keeping so many secrets and the new regime of the organisation, so after a heated confrontation, they kinda called it quits."

    She looked back at me, her eyes locking onto mine. "You have to realise Attelus," she said somberly. "There is a real reason why Taryst had earned respect and... the love of those in his employ before he descended into the single-minded paranoia which led to his death he was a great man."

    I shook away my sad state. "And how long did you work with them, I mean him?"

    "A year, only a year," she answered, shaking her head. "I have been in almost every mind that worked for Taryst and have seen it all. When they find out he's dead..."

    "If Glaitis has it her way, they'll never know, that Thing out there fooled everyone."

    "And in turn, medicae Feuilt fooled It as well."

    I sighed wearily, shaking my head into the palm of my hand. "Perhaps...But what I don't understand is why Edracian had me take the pict and not Feuilt...Although I could hazard a guess."

    Karmen Kons pouted and shrugged. "That's a good question, Attelus, but there is one much bigger question we need to ask."

    "And that is?"

    "If the mimic-thing had its eyes, as you figured out earlier, replaced with Barhurst's, why didn't it have them in turn replaced with Taryst's?"

    I stiffened in my chair, all of a sudden awake again. "Yeah! That's the only reason why we caught onto It! Surely if Feuilt and the mimic were cooperating, one being the leader of the organisation and the other the head of the organisation's medical department, surely they could've easily arranged a way to do it."

    "Exactly, and we have a way to find out."

    "The Thing? is it awake now?"

    "Maybe," she said lightly. "If It isn't, maybe we should make it awake. It has a lot to answer for Attelus. I'm surprised Attelus, you didn't kill it already; it certainly deserves it."

    I swallowed. "Karmen, I've already learnt the hard way to control my anger, and..."

    I clenched my teeth, furrowed my brow and sucked air through my teeth as the rage suddenly welled back to the surface. "Killing It now wouldn't help me; I need to know what It knows, that information will help me make sure the true perpetrator pay for Elandria's death."

    Karmen Kons chewed her lip. "But Glaitis..." she started but trailed off and looked away.


    "Nothing, nothing."

    "Glaitis what?" I insisted, annoyed at the psyker's dismissive tone.

    "Don't worry, Attelus, it's nothing," she said lightly and got up from her chair. "Alright, if you excuse me, I'm going to have a shower."

    "What, now? But aren't we to talk to the mimic?"

    "Yes, we will, but if you haven't noticed, I stink," she said as she began to walk away. "I stink, so I need a shower, don't worry, I won't be long."

    I nodded, making a mental note to ask her about this dismissiveness later. "Okay, fair enough."

    Instantly Karmen Kons stopped and turned back to me, her face as serious as stone. "You called her El, didn't you?"

    I looked away, unsure what to make of her sudden change and at her mention of Elandria again. "Y-yeah."

    "You know if it were anyone else calling her El, she would've hated it," said Karmen with a sad smile. "But when you said it, Attelus, she really didn't mind it at all."

    Sudden tears sprang into my eyes, tears that I tried to hide.

    "I'm sorry, but please, please," she said. "Please, Attelus, while I'm in the shower, try to think, try to think about what it is you really want, think about what is the best for you...and-and think about what Elandria would want."

    With that, she walked back into the bathroom, the door sliding closed behind her, leaving me alone with nothing but my thoughts.

    With Karmen Kons no longer there to converse with, my tiredness just seemed to return suddenly.

    I shook my head, trying to fight it, but it was so, so hard.

    Finally, after a few minutes, I gave in, collapsing back onto the bed and let it overtake me.

    And again, I dreamed, I dreamed back to when I was living in the ruins of Varander.

    It was almost identical to my earlier dream when I walked and walked through the destruction and devastation, but this time I walked with someone side-by-side with a woman.

    An attractive woman with large, watery blue eyes with her long deep black hair pulled back into a ponytail and wearing the black with white trim flak armour distinct to the Velrosian PDF.

    She seemed so familiar, but I found it impossible to recall who she was.

    We were also talking, conversing about something intently but of what exactly, I had no idea as I couldn't hear the words exchanged but feel my jaw moving.

    Like my dream earlier, I couldn't control myself; we walked and walked and talked and talked with me every few seconds glancing away to scrutinise over the scenery.

    It was strange as every time I looked back at her, her black hair would briefly change to blonde. This went on for a long time until suddenly, the black-blond woman stopped in her tracks and raised her hand against my chest forcing me to stop too.

    She turned to me, her hair now staying blonde, blonde like Karmen Kons'.

    "My name Attelus Xanthis Kaltos, my real name is Estella Erith," she said clearly. "Please remember all we went through together; please remember the oath you swore to me so long ago."

    Then I awoke.

    My eyes snapped open as revelations began to poor through my thoughts, and immediately I lunged off the bed, slid to the side of the bathroom door; my sword suddenly is drawn, and Karmen Kons stepped out to find the blade held an inch from her throat.

    "You've come a hell of a long way since only being able to tell the names of things Estella Erith," I said.

    She smiled and shook her head. "I was wondering if you would ever recognise me, Attelus Xanthis Kaltos."

    I didn't reply for a while as a myriad amount of different emotions swept through me, anger, relief, confusion, panic, and I had no idea which one to express.

    "I-I can't believe you're still alive, Estella," I croaked. "I can't believe you're here of all the billions of places in this cosmos; I-I can't believe..."

    I trailed off. "I can't believe I ever forgot about you."

    Karmen Kons let out a sudden derivative snort. "You still believe that you suppressed the memories of your time living in those ruins; that seems to be the only thing I got right, it seems."


    "It looks to me that the Eldar dredged up those memories during the time she mind raped you, Attelus, accursed Xenos," she shook her head. "What if I told you I was the one who made those memories go away? What If I was the one who did that? Then what would you do?"

    "I-I don't know Estella," I managed. "What do you mean?"

    "Do you remember Attelus Kaltos what you said to me in the moonlight the night of our escape from Varander? What you told to Estella Erith, I mean."

    Suddenly, I found I did; it was all there, all flooding back. "I-I remember, I said that I could never go back to my old life after what I saw and went through, that I wanted to be an assassin like my father."

    "Yes, yes you did," she said sadly. "And so I tried to stop you from going down that path, Attelus; I tried to stop you from making that mistake..."

    "So you suppressed my memories of it...!" I finished with widening eyes feeling the horror suddenly spread. "I..I, you did that to me?"

    "Yes, I did Attelus, I did it, I did it when just before we parted ways, do you remember that now?"

    Again I did; the last time I saw Estella was when we first arrived in the PDF base camp south of the battle lines; she said she was to meet general Tathe and be back soon, but she never returned. But I never tried to find her, because I couldn't remember her. After all, she had made me forget her.

    I abruptly dropped my sword, finding that I really needed to sit down and gather my thoughts.

    "I obviously succeeded in doing that, but not in suppressing your wish to become an assassin," she shook her head. "I shouldn't be surprised; at that time, I was no way near as skilled as now; my psychic power was only just beginning to show itself."

    I started hyperventilating, placing my face into the palms of my hands.

    She came over to me and pulled my hands away, her large blue eyes wild. "So can't you see, Attelus! Now you are going through the exact same struggle I helped you through six years ago! That struggle for your humanity, your sanity! Just imagine my surprise when I first saw you arrive with Glaitis and her assassins so many months ago!"

    She shook her head. "I see now that He sent you here to me! The God-Emperor of Mankind sent you to Omnartus so I could help you again! To save you from insanity, to save you from Glaitis."

    Then she suddenly grabbed me and pulled me into a passionate kiss.

    I let out a surprised, muffled, "mmf!" pain erupted through my lips and after a few seconds, I managed to push her off me, disgusted with myself as I realised despite the pain, I'd like it.

    "What's the matter, Attelus?" she asked sensually. "Don't you remember how you fell in love with Estella on that starry night?"

    Now with the return of these memories, I knew she was right, that Elandria was never the first woman I had fallen for, no Estella Erith was, and at the time, I was just too young and ignorant to realise it.

    I looked to the floor. "Y-yes, yes, I do."

    "So why do you pull away?" she demanded.

    My attention snapped back to her. "Because you're not her, because you're no longer Estella. I see that kind and compassionate woman is gone now replaced by-by..."

    She stared at me blankly. "I don't understand."

    "Estella! You delved into my mind, and you erased my memories! You tried to manipulate me into doing what you wanted me to do! The audacity, the sheer arrogance is breathtaking! Do you realise how sick that is? And under Taryst's employ, every day you delved into people's minds and then! Then! Then you frigging go and erase Vex's memory of our deal as some sickening foreshadowing for Taryst!"

    I shook my head, the exasperation becoming so overwhelming it was hard to breathe.

    "I was only doing what I was ordered to do," Karmen said.

    I clenched my teeth and clenched my fists, anger quickly overtaking the exasperation. "Does that make it okay! Does saying that give you a clear conscience? 'I was just following orders!' Is that the excuse everyone uses now? You and that Thing out there say the exact same thing. It makes me sick."

    I shook my head again, my eyes watering. "What happened to you, Estella? What the hell happened to you to change you from the kind, compassionate, beautiful women I fell for and into!"

    She glared at me. "Into what, Attelus?"

    "Into...you, how can you claim you're here to save me from insanity when you are no longer sane yourself?"

    "I am sane, Attelus!" she yelled. "I know because the God-Emperor of Mankind sent-"

    "Oh, save it!" I snarled. "With the number of times you've looked into my mind, you must know that I don't believe in that crap! Now I know why I was so quick to trust you I must've recognised and-"

    It hit me in mid-sentence. "...And why Glaitis kept you alive even though she had the perfect opportunity to kill you."

    Karmen's brow furrowed in bemusement. "What?"

    "It's because she knew this would happen!" I exclaimed. "Or at least the Eldar told her it would! She knew that me seeing what you become would-would!"

    I sniffed. "No, I won't let it, I won't let you turn me against you. Despite what you have become, I owe it to the woman you used to be; I owe it to Estella."

    My eyes attached to hers, my shoulders rising and falling while breathing heavily through my nose. "I'm sorry, Estella, I-I didn't mean to get so angry with you; I understand you were only doing what you needed to do, to survive."

    I sat down on the bed. "L-let's go and talk to that Thing out there."

    "You said years ago, Attelus," Karmen said. "That you were living to survive instead of surviving to live, didn't you?"


    "Maybe..." she shook her head. "Maybe you're right; maybe I was living to survive, maybe it's about time to survive to live."

    I smiled and placed my hand on her arm. "It's been a long time Estella, even though I couldn't remember you, I still somehow think I missed you."

    She reached over cupped her hand on my bruised, battered face. "You have no idea how much I missed you."

    Then she began to pull me in for another kiss, but again I very hesitantly pulled away.

    "What's wrong?" she asked.

    "Estella...Karmen, whatever I should call you," I said and sighed. "I've been through a hell of a lot. All these revelations one after another, finding out Taryst's fate, the mimic masquerading as him, Feuilt being Edracian's spy and him succeeding in manipulating me so well, as well as everyone else. El-Elandria's death, and getting the utter crap beat out of me, but most of all, finding out you...being, being you. Just so frigging much has come outta the blue."

    Karmen Kons smiled.

    I looked up at her, into the face which was now so familiar. I should have recognised her even with my memories suppressed.

    My attention fell to the floor; I needed her, so I needed to be on her right side, and if I could help her to return her to the person I once knew.

    I sucked in air through clenched teeth and suddenly got off the bed.

    "Enough frigging about," I said. "Let's go, let's go and talk to the thing; we've wasted enough time talking."

    She shrugged and looked away. "Yeah, I guess."

    "Let's do this then."

    Karmen and I walked into the corridor, Karmen carrying the medical kit with her, our footfalls echoing ominously on the stark white tiles as we passed the cells.

    We came to the Thing's cell, where we found it still in my form and still lying unconscious.

    Drawing my sword, I turned to Karmen and said, "you ready?"

    She nodded, and I punched the door access button, raising my sword in a defensive stance as it slowly slid open.

    Suddenly its eyes snapped open, and it lunged, a blur of speed as It came at me.

    But I was ready, weaving under its flying fist; I smashed my knee hard into its side. It let out a gasp of pain and collapsed onto its knees, and suddenly found the edge of my sword laid against its throat.

    "Really?" I said, grinning down at It. "You thought we'd fall for that?"

    It just glared accusingly at me.

    I looked to Karmen, who was still standing with a look of shock on her attractive face.

    "You alright?" I asked.

    "I uh yeah," she said, shaking herself out of it. "That was just..."

    I raised an eyebrow. "Just what?"

    "Nothing," she said and knelt next to the mimic, opening her kit as she did. "Attelus told me he smashed a bottle over your head; I don't know how your illusion works but show it to me so I can withdraw the shards of glass."

    It looked at her with distinct contempt, then glared back up at me.

    "So your not going to kill me now?" It asked.

    I shrugged. "Depends on how cooperative you are; I know that you have a huge role to play in this game for mamzel Glaitis, so much, so you really need to keep on living to do so. So I suggest you do as she says."

    "And answer our questions," said Karmen.

    "Of which we have a myriad amount of," I added.

    It sighed, and with a flash of light, It showed us Its injuries, half of my face covered in dried blood, and countless slivers of glass jutted out of its entire skull.

    It wasn't a pretty sight, making me wince away and suck air through clenched teeth.

    "I should have known you two would join forces," It growled as Karmen began to pluck out bits of the bottle with a small pair of tweezers.

    "Well, you know what they say, desperate times," said Karmen.

    The Thing let out a derivative snort. "So very like you, Karmen, always spouting out cliches-ow!"

    Karmen chose to pull out a large piece of the bottle just then.

    "First question, mutant," I said, pressing my blade slightly closer against its neck. "Or Xenos, or whatever the hell you are, tell me why you keep on insisting on keeping my appearance?"

    It looked up at me with utter contempt. "I thought that was obvious; it's psychological, it was meant to unnerve you and anyway, I like your appearance; you're very pretty."

    My brow furrowed. "What?"

    It frowned, then winced as Karmen tugged out another piece of glass. "Ow! I'm going to blunt with you, Attelus Kaltos, with your hair like that, you kind of look like a girl."

    Karmen let out a derivative snort of her own. "'Kind of?' More like completely."

    "W-what? No, I don't."

    "Yes, you do, Attelus, sorry," It said and inhaled sharply as Karmen withdrew another bit of the bottle. "I really do suggest you get a haircut; in fact, I'm surprised mamzel Glaitis has let you have long hair for so long."

    It snorted again, but this time It sounded almost like laughter. "Some pragmatist you're meant to be, in a fight, long hair is nothing but disadvantageous; you should know that. In fact, do you want me to show you what you would look like with short hair?"

    "No," I said through clenched teeth, eager to change the subject, "So do you know how we caught onto your charade?"

    It shrugged. "No, but I can guess, you found out through the retinal scan records?"

    "Which leads us to another question," said Karmen. "Why didn't you have Taryst's eyes implanted?"

    It sighed. "Do you have any idea the pain I had to go through when I got Barhurst's implanted?"

    Karmen shrugged. "Actually, I do."

    The Thing's attention snapped to her, Its eyes wide with surprise, but it was gone as quickly as it came, and I couldn't hide the shock of my own.

    "So you know the agony? The horrific agony I had to go through, I couldn't go through that again, no, never."

    It shrugged. "Anyway, I had the same access as if I had Taryst's eyes; I didn't see the point."

    "Well, the point would be not to be found," I said.

    "Yes, it was," It said bluntly. "But we agreed it would be more trouble than it was; Ith, I had to keep up appearances as Taryst to avoid suspicion."

    "And let me guess," I said. "'We' means you and Feuilt?"

    Now that got a real expression of surprise from It. "Y-yes, so you know medicae Feuilt was also Glaitis' spy?"

    I looked darkly sidelong at Karmen and growled, "that amongst a myriad of other things."

    It stared at me curiously, about to ask for me to elaborate but seemed to decide better of it and turned away.

    "And that leads conveniently to another question," said Karmen as she took out the last bit of glass and began to dab the creature's face with a cotton bud. "When Feuilt came up here to give me the drug to keep me comatose, did he act suspicious or anything? What did you do?"

    It sighed again. "I had learnt a long time ago not to trust anyone in this line of business, and that went double for Feuilt."

    "Why?" I asked.

    "Because until we worked on this together, I had never heard of him before, so every time he came up here, I would watch him to make sure he didn't try anything off."

    Karmen turned to me. "That does make sense, Attelus as I understand it Feuilt has been under Taryst's employ for at least six years."

    "A deep undercover operative," I said, also finding it interesting that it was around the time Glaitis took me as her apprentice and wondering how long he'd been under Edracian's employ. "But that didn't stop you from consulting him on the next eye transplant."

    It shook Its head. "No, I guess it didn't, and he hadn't performed the operation for Barhurst's eye transplant on me."

    "Who did?" asked Karmen.

    "A local renegade medicae hired by Glaitis, by the name of Dureth."

    I nodded; that would explain Feuilt being unable to take the picts; this Thing was always watching him like a hawk.

    "So you trusted this Dureth more than Feuilt?" I said.

    "To perform the mission, it was necessary, but not with Feuilt."

    "You know everything, don't you?" asked Karmen. "Why we hunt for Brutis Bones?"

    "Of course I do," It said, sounding hurt.

    "So then you know the significance of Inquisitor Edracian being here, right?" I said.

    Its face turned pale. "W-what?"

    I shook my head, deciding it was a good time to change the subject while it was off guard.

    "What are you? and how the hell does your transformations work?"

    It frowned and glared at me, but the slight increase in pressure of my sword made It go away.

    "I am-I am a Xenos, an alien, or at least that is what mamzel Glaitis told me I really do not know for sure I was taken in by the mamzel when I was very young, so I remember nothing of my life before it. You were correct in your earlier assumption, Attelus; I am not a shapeshifter; what you see is a projection, but I can change my height and build to fit the appearance," It growled. "I was mamzel Glaitis first and best apprentice."

    It mockingly emphasised 'best', which I ignored. So it was an alien who made me uneasy, so Glaitis hasn't just allied with the Eldar but also actively using Xenos in her agendas.

    "Who in our organisation know of you?" I asked.

    It grimaced. "As far as I know, only the mamzel, obviously, Hayden Tresch, medicae Feuilt and now, you."

    I smiled at the icy tone used in the 'you.' Now Edracian knew of him too, and Emperor only knew who the hell else. They could easily use this knowledge against us and my teeth involuntarily clenched as the familiar cold feel of fear spread through my chest; this wasn't good, this wasn't good at all.

    Then I noticed. It was studying me intensely, searching for answers in my face.

    I only glared back.

    "There's one more question I have for you," I said.

    "What?" It growled.

    "Why the hell did you have to kill Elandria?"

    It rolled its eyes. "I have already told you-"

    "Yeah! "Orders" I know!" I snarled, the anger suddenly coming back. "But why did she give you the order! Why!"

    It stared up at me wide-eyed, with an expression that could've been sympathy or contempt or anything, even though it was my face I couldn't tell. Perhaps I was too angry to know; perhaps I just didn't care. All that I truly knew was that I needed to know.

    The Xenos turned to the floor.

    "No," It said simply.

    "W-what? What the hell do you mean by 'no?'" I roared.

    Karmen looked to me. "Attelus..."

    "Shut up, Estella!" I snarled. "Karmen! Whoever the hell you are!"

    It shook Its head. "No means no Attelus, sorry."

    "Frig you!" I pressed my sword a little more, making it inhale sharply and drawing blood. "Tell me! Tell me now!"

    "I cannot tell you, Attelus, because you will not like what I say, and because of that, you might kill me."

    "Well, I will kill you if you don't," I said.

    The Xenos shook its head. "Are you sure you want to hear it?"

    "Yes! Of course, I frigging want to know! Tell me! Tell me now!"

    The Thing sighed. "Alright, if you insist, Attelus." It frowned deeply. "Honestly, I don't know why, exactly."

    My face turned as hard as a stone.

    "But I have my suspicions!" It said quickly. "Only half an hour before you, Olinthre and Feuilt came up, I received a communique from the mamzel via my encrypted vox link. She told me that you would be coming up soon and that she would send Elandria up to guard me."

    The Xenos sighed again. "And that I kill Taryst's bodyguards so they wouldn't get in the way."

    I nodded; Elandria said that she found the guards dead, and at that time, I felt she was telling the truth.

    "The mamzel also said that she had ordered Elandria to kill you," It said. "She ordered me to monitor your fight and..."

    The Xenos trailed off.

    "And to what?" I demanded.

    "I did not know what it meant at the time," It said on hesitantly. "The mamzel said to monitor your fight with Elandria, and these were her exact words; 'to kill whoever loses it'."

    My attention snapped to Karmen Kons, who looked back at me with wide eyes, then I looked back to the Thing.


    "She meant Elandria, Attelus," It interrupted. "She had the perfect opportunity to kill you, but she didn't. Instead, she burst into tears, she defied her orders, she had lost her nerve, she was the one to truly 'lose it.'"

    The Xenos looked to the floor. "I am sorry, Attelus," It said with real, genuine sorrow.

    I wasn't sure what to say; I only gaped dumbly.

    "What else did she order you to do?" asked Karmen softly.

    It turned to her. "I also know that the mamzel meant for me to kill Elandria, not Attelus because next, she ordered me to withdraw the reason why Attelus was here from him, by 'any means necessary'," the Xenos looked back to me, glaring. "At first, I tried to masquerade as Olinthre to do it, but I should have known it would not work; killing Elandria caused Attelus to go into a paranoid state. So I attempted to do it forcefully."

    It shook Its head. "And obviously that didn't work either, so here I am with a sword to my throat and telling you two everything I know."

    So it seemed that even though Glaitis knew I was coming up to Taryst's quarters, she didn't know why interesting. Perhaps it was because Edracian was involved, and perhaps the Eldar's farsight was somehow being blocked by the Inquisitor? That would explain why no one seemed to know of Edracian's presence on Omnartus.

    "You mean to kill her, don't you?" The Xenos said bluntly. "You mean to kill Glaitis."

    The anger immediately boiled back. "I'm sick of it," I snarled. "I'm sick and tired of Glaitis and her games! Her constant tests and manipulations."

    I shook my head. "Killing Elandria was the breaking point; I can only see one way of ending this hell, Glaitis must die."

    "But not before we take care of Edracian," cut in Karmen. "Your revenge can wait, Attelus; we have bigger fish to fry."

    The Xenos shrugged. "Go ahead, Attelus," It said. "I will not try to stop you, but others will, and if you do succeed, you will make many powerful enemies."

    "Like who?" I growled. "That sycophant, Darrance?"

    "Yes, him," It said. "You know how he worships the very ground the mamzel steps upon, and he is a very, very dangerous enemy to have. But the mamzel still keeps in contact with her assassin sect from time to time, and they have one overriding rule, one rule that if anyone ever breaks it, the consequences are beyond your worst nightmare."

    "What's that?" asked Karmen.

    "No assassin, apprentice or not, under any circumstances are ever to kill their master, never."

    I grinned and shook my head. "Oh, if you had even a glimpse into my nightmares, Xenos," I said. "And thank you for the warning; I'll just have to make sure they never find out then."

    "But they will find one way or another Attelus; they will."

    "We'll see," I said. "We'll see."

    This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 03:13:00

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    In silence, Karmen Kons covered the Xenos face with a large bandage.

    "So," It said as, in a flash of light, my face was back to normal. "What are you to do now, Attelus?"

    I looked sidelong to Karmen.

    +I am not sure it would be wise to tell It our plans Attelus,+ her voice suddenly echoed through my mind making me blink in surprise. +I would not trust this Xenos as far as I could throw it.+

    I nodded and smiled; now she sounded like the Estella I once knew...and loved.

    The Thing blinked, looked at each of us in turn, then shrugged. "Yes, you two can keep your secrets then, see if I care," It said.

    I turned back to It. "Get up," I commanded gruffly.

    It smiled and slowly did as told. "You really are placing a lot of trust into Karmen Kons," It said. "Why is that, I wonder?"

    My reply was a contemptuous shake of the head.

    "Of course, I did not expect you to answer that," said the Xenos. "Just wondering aloud, that is all."

    "Hmm, right," I growled with a nod, then the thought hit me. "One more question Xenos, did Glaitis ever tell you why she wanted to keep Es-Karmen Kons alive?"

    "No, she did not," It answered. "I'm also interested why you called Karmen Kons Estella before."

    My eyes widened, unsure how the hell to reply to that.

    "Yes, yes," said Karmen. "You can be as interested as you want, and I would be too, but you are not getting answers, sorry."

    It smiled my evil smile and shrugged again. "Just thinking out loud once again."

    Karmen grimaced and turned to me. "Maybe it is about time for us to head topside."

    "Perhaps it is," I agreed.

    "But first, let me see what is happening out there," said Karmen. "I'll be gone for awhile Attelus, keep an eye on the Xenos."

    Without waiting for a response, Karmen suddenly sat down against one of the cells, and her eyes turned blank.

    Immediately the room temperature dropped dramatically; ice began to form on the white tiled floors and walls, moisture beading on the reinforced glass of the cells uncomfortably reminding me of the incident in the Twilight bar.

    I shivered in the cold, my breath coming out as condensation but still held my sword against the Xenos' throat, realising to my dismay there was ice on the blade and goosebumps on my shaking hands.

    The Thing smiled at me mockingly.

    I met Its gaze hesitantly. "So I uhh don't actually look like a girl, do I?"

    It grinned. "Well, you wouldn't as much if you got your hair cut."

    I could only shake my head.

    The Xenos shrugged. "You can deny it all you want, but the evidence is literally staring you in the face, and even the psyker agreed, sorry."

    My brow furrowed, teeth chattering uncontrollably in the cold. But the Thing seemed unaffected by it; he just stood smiling at me. Perhaps it was hiding Its unrest behind the illusion?

    "I am interested, Attelus..."

    "Shut up."

    It only paused slightly. "Why is it that you trust her so much?"

    "I don't," I said bluntly. "I trust her, as much as I trust you, but I am a pragmatist, and as I see it, I need her."

    I emphasised the 'I am' than intended, which it obviously noticed as It raised an amused eyebrow.

    A highly unbelieving, "Uh-huh," was its only reply.

    I opened my mouth to demand what the hell It meant by that but was interrupted when suddenly Karmen's body gasped and spasmed as she came back into reality, the ice on the walls and floor was gone. Immediately she leapt to her feet.


    "You!" she snarled at the Xenos. "You need to change into Taryst, now!"

    Both the Xenos and I exchanged confused glances.

    "W-" It tried.

    "No questions! Transform into Taryst now or so; help me, I will rip out your throat here and now!"

    "What's going on?" I asked.

    She glared at me. "We have company, upstairs waiting behind the warp shield, Garrakson, Torris and ten of Taryst's mercenaries, it seems that Feuilt has told."

    My eyes widened with fear. "Told? Told, what?"

    "He did not tell them everything, just what happened with you, he and Olinthre," she sighed. "It seems that they intercepted him in the building carrying..."

    She trailed off.

    "Carrying...Elandria," I finished hesitantly.

    "Indeed. They have been up there for a while, so we need to allay their fears," she glared at the Xenos. "Now."

    It shrugged and sighed. "If you insist." In a sudden flash of light, It instantly grew half a metre and shimmered back into the form of Taryst."

    It was strange looking up into the face of a dead man, especially one whose corpse was rotting inside a stark white cell barely a few metres away.

    "So," said the Taryst-thing in a pitch-perfect imitation of the Rogue Trader's voice, smiling Taryst's perfect pearly white smile down at us. "Let's do this then, shall we?"

    We ushered 'Taryst' into the grim gunmetal grey elevator, my sword pressed against Its back.

    "Do they know where Feuilt is?" I asked.

    She frowned and shook her head. "No, he must be long gone by now."

    I glanced up at the thing, wondering what it was making of all this, but found its faces utterly unreadable.

    "Here is what we are going to do," stated Karmen as she keyed the elevator activation. "First, we are going to hide Olinthre's body in the elevator; then I will deactivate the shield."

    "What then?" I asked, beginning to nervously tap the tip of my shoe on the steel floor, making a loud clang! Clang! Echo through the small space.

    "We will let the master of disguise take it from there, 'It' will talk with them as Taryst."


    "Attelus!" She interrupted. "It wants to keep this masquerade up more than anyone, so It will have to negotiate and do it well, won't you?"

    Taryst's jaw jutted slightly at that. "Yeah, sure."

    I grimaced and shook my head. "How will we explain about Olinthre?"

    Karmen shrugged. "The Xenos can cover that."

    My jaw clenched, and I shook my head again. "No, no, Karmen, this plan won't work."

    Karmen Kons and the Taryst-thing looked at me, confused.

    "Why?" She growled.

    "You may have been in his mind, but I actually have talked directly to Jeurat Garrakson," I growled back, not liking her tone. "You said that he found Feuilt carrying Elandria, right? And that the good medicae told them what happened."

    I shook my head. "He never liked Elandria, but he will want to know why Taryst killed her; that's a question we can't answer well enough to allay his suspicions, Karmen. I suggest that the Thing pretend to be Olinthre instead," I smiled as a plan began to form in my thoughts. "No, here's what we will do."

    We left the elevator, immediately the Xenos walked over to Olinthre's body and quickly slipped on the major's carapace armour. Then we dragged the heavy corpse ruffly into the lift with the awaiting Karmen Kons.

    "This had better frigging work," said the psyker.

    My jaw clenched with impatience. "Just...Just switch off the shield once you reach the bottom of the elevator and make sure you tell us just before you do," I growled.

    "You do know what is at stake..."

    "I do, Karmen if they find out that Taryst and Olinthre are dead and this thing has taken Taryst's place," I sighed and shook my head. "It will cause a rift in this organisation we cannot afford, and then if they find out that Glaitis is behind it all..."

    I trailed off. "I know what's at stake here, Karmen, I do."

    Her eyes watered with intensity. "You have to swear to me, just as you did long ago, that you will not let your quest for vengeance rule you."

    I nodded, looking away, unable to hold her gaze any longer. "I-I swear, Edracian must be stopped."

    "Look at me when you say it, Attelus!" She snarled.

    I hesitantly complied. "I swear, Estella, Edracian must be stopped, no matter the cost."

    She nodded. "You have better keep your promise, Attelus, because if you don't..."

    Karmen Kons just smiled and abruptly punched the elevator activation; the doors slowly slid shut, leaving the mimic and me alone in Taryst's crimson quarters.

    "I am interested-"

    "Shut it!" I snapped as I retrieved my autopistol. "Just shut it and change into Olinthre; we have a job to do."

    It smiled Taryst's smile. "As you wish, apprentice," and in a flash of light, It now had Olinthre's grin.

    "As you wish."

    I shook my head, hating myself for the deception I was about to commit and that the poor dead Olinthre was going to be part of it.

    I stormed across the room and vented my anger, savagely kicked over the nearest table.

    "Help me with this, will you!" I snarled over my shoulder as I slashed deeply into the closest couch with my sword.

    It nodded and tipped another table.

    I laid into the couch, slashing and slashing until it was a ruin and moved onto the next, repeating the process with angry abandon, while the mimic raised the last one and turned it onto its side.

    It felt good, cutting into that couch, and I lost myself to it, doing it until my arms ached and I was breathless first; I imagined it was the mimic disguised as Glaitis, then it was Edracian, then Glaitis herself.

    "Attelus!" The Olinthre-thing shouted suddenly, which immediately made me stop in mid-slash and glare up at It. "I think that is enough."

    I clenched my teeth, and with a snarl, I kicked into the mass of destroyed couch, sending bits of wood skating across the crimson carpet and fluff fluttering into the air.

    "Attelus, control yourself!" It yelled.

    It held my gaze for a few seconds before appraising my destruction with a glance. "Well, you have certainly followed the old axiom; 'the best way to lie is, to tell the truth,' to the letter, have you not?"

    I was about to snarl back a retort when Karmen's voice suddenly said through my head; +I have reached Taryst's quarters, Attelus, and have stored Olinthre's body in one of the cells. I am ready to deactivate the shield when you and the Xenos are ready.+

    I spent a few seconds glaring witheringly at the Olinthre-thing before replying.

    "We're ready, Karmen; you're free to shut the shield off."

    +Acknowledged and be prepared Attelus, Garrakson, and his men will be very hostile; they will likely shoot you unless you and the Xenos are very cooperative.+

    "Thanks, Karmen," I said, fighting back the angry urge to point out that I had already figured that out myself. "You can shut off the shield."

    +Alright, shield deactivation in, 3...2...1.+

    The loud droning noise enveloped the room, making the mimic, and I turn to see the shield shimmering, shaking and writhing as it died.

    The soldiers immediately burst through the red curtains, lasguns raised and covering every corner.


    Both the mimic and I slowly complied. I knew they would be aggressive, but not to this extent.

    The soldiers in full carapace formed a semi-circle around us.

    "Check them!" yelled one, and quickly another slung his lasgun, approached us and patted us down for weapons; he took my sword, removed my pistol from its shoulder holster and even slipped the hidden knife compartments from up the sleeves of my jacket.

    He moved onto the mimic, and I couldn't but help fear; what if the soldier felt something off?

    But in a moment, the soldier was finished, turned to the others and announced the all-clear.

    "No, it's not," said Garrakson as he and Torris approached. "Remove Attelus' right shoe."

    The soldier glanced at Garrakson.

    "He's gotta boot knife, idiot," said the ex-guardsman, rolling his violet eyes.

    My own eyes widened, and I looked briefly to Olinthre, finding that they both had violet irises.
    Why had I never noticed that before?

    The soldier walked around me and clumsily pulled off my shoe, then chucked it to Garrakson, who caught it neatly.

    "Well, well well," said Garrakson, tossing aside my shoe. "Guess who we ran into in the corridors?"

    I had to clench my teeth shut to keep myself from blurting out, 'Feuilt.'

    Garrakson raised his eyebrows mockingly. "Oh, you don't know? I was pretty sure that you would."

    "I-!" started the Olinthre thing.

    "Shut up, major!" snarled Garrakson. "You may outrank me, but under the circumstances, I don't care!"

    Torris, who still stood beside the uncharacteristically angry Garrakson, looked over the room; his expression turned shocked as he saw the destroyed furniture and destruction.

    "What the hell happened here?" The ex-arbitrator asked.

    "I happened," I growled, letting some of my anger come to the surface.

    Torris' attention snapped to me, and his eyes widened with sympathy.

    "H-have you two been in here for all this time?" asked Torris.

    Both the Olinthre-thing and I answered with glares.

    "How!" demanded Garrakson as he began to pace back and forth like a caged lion.

    "I would answer, sergeant," said the Olinthre-thing, pointedly emphasising the 'sergeant'. "But I think it's about time you calm down before you burst a blood vessel."

    "Frig you!" roared Garrakson. "Just answer my frigging question."

    The Xenos sighed, glancing at me briefly before answering the lie I had made sure It knew and understood.

    "After...After Taryst shot Elandria, I ran in here after him," It said. "I found the place empty; Taryst was gone, logically through that door." The Olinthre thing nodded over his shoulder to indicate it.

    "So what did you do?" Asked Torris.

    "I was angry," sighed the Xenos. "Really, really angry, I bet on the door and took much of my rage out on it, then Attelus walked in, and if I thought I was angry, well he, he did all that." It nodded over its shoulder to indicate the destroyed couches and kicked over tables.

    "It was soon after I entered that Taryst, for some reason, activated the shield," I said.

    "So you two have been stuck in here for the past four hours?" growled Garrakson.


    "Well, if that's the case, why didn't you contact us?" Asked Garrakson.

    "We tried," answered the Olinthre-thing. "But Taryst had our vox links blocked somehow."

    That wasn't actually a lie; the mimic had used a commlink scrambler; it had informed me of this during our ascent.

    "On that thought, why didn't Taryst try to contact us himself?" said Torris.

    I barely held back a smile and shrugged. "Don't know, we've just been here the whole time."

    Garrakson, let out a slight growl. "Alright then, Attelus, how then did you get your face so beaten up? I doubt that Vex hit you that hard. Did you beat your face against the couches?"

    "Elandria did it to me during our fight," I answered with forced neutrality.

    Garrakson smiled and shook his head contemptuously. "Right. I seriously doubt-."

    "She did this to me, Jeurat," I said. "In case you forgot, I'd spent the last month in a coma; I wasn't at my peak performance; she outclassed me in every way."

    "Right, then," said Garrakson. "So if you have been stuck here for all this time, why didn't you answer us? We must've beat our fists on the shield a thousand times or more while we waited."

    "We never heard them," stated the Xenos simply. "The shield must have buffeted the sound."

    Garrakson clenched his teeth and let out a frustrated snarl.

    "You have better have told me the truth," he growled. "Or..."

    "Or else what?" snarled the Olinthre-thing suddenly. "Resorting to empty threats isn't going to get you anywhere, sergeant, we. Were. Here. Now Jeurat, now we have answered your questions, will you let us go?"

    Suddenly Karmen's words filtered through my thoughts, +okay Attelus, I am coming up, I have the seal.+

    "Oh no, oh frig no," said Garrakson. "We have a lot more questions we need answering."

    "Such as why Taryst turned on the shield just when Attelus entered," stated Torris. "Or why he shot..." he trailed off and gave me a guilty look.

    "We are just as in the dark as you are," the Xenos said.

    "Yeah, right," said Garrakson, utterly unconvinced. "So...Where is it?"

    I raised an eyebrow and exchanged a confused glance with the Olinthre-thing.

    "W-where's what?" I asked.

    Garrakson grinned and shook his head. "Trust you to forget about it Attelus, where is the retinal scan sheet that you had Vex print out? The very thing that started all this?"

    I couldn't hide the fear on my face, oh crap. I had completely forgotten about that; Estella had said Feuilt had told them everything, and that would logically include that printout! I was well and truly an idiot, and I felt the urge to smash my head repeatedly against a wall.

    Garrakson smirked in triumph at me, then looked to one of the mercenaries. "Check their pockets," he commanded.

    "Yes, sir," said the soldier, who then moved to me.

    I was oblivious to it as my mind whirled; how would I get out of this? Once Garrakson finds the print out he will find out about Barhurst being on the record; he will figure out that the date didn't coincide and figure out what inspired Olinthre's rebellion, and from there...I didn't quite know, but it couldn't be good.

    The mercenary finished with me and moved onto the mimic. I turned to watch my heart in my throat, and low in behold, he immediately pulled a folded sheet of paper.

    My heart sank as I watched the mercenary walk back to Garrakson.

    "Found this, sir," he said as he handed Garrakson the paper.

    Garrakson snatched the print out of the Soldier's grasp without a word of thanks and began to speed read over it.

    Despite everything, I frowned, my apprehension almost overtaken by anger; I found myself not caring for this new side of Jeurat Garrakson.

    But in all honesty, I shouldn't blame him; if he cared for Taryst as much as Estella said he did, I could understand it. I probably had acted similarly after Elandria's death.

    With that thought, my gaze fell to the floor; poor Garrakson, how will he react when he finds out that Taryst is actually dead?

    Then the elevator doors opened, and immediately the mercenaries had their rifles raised to cover Karmen Kons as she stepped into the open. She wore a very revealing low cut tunic, which made my already wide grin somehow even wider.

    "Hello," she said flirtatiously. "What do we have here?"

    "Who are you?" growled Garrakson.

    "Oh! How rude of me," she said with a smile. "I am...your...new boss."

    There was a pause, a long pause before Garrakson finally growled. "What?"

    Karmen raised her hand and said, "alright, I am not reaching for a weapon so hold your fire, okay?"

    "Whatever," growled Garrakson; I wasn't looking at him but could imagine his grim, scarred face somehow even grimmer than usual.

    Karmen Kons pouted and shrugged."Okay, I will take that as a yes, then," she said, then slowly raised her hands, holding up the Taryst's family. Write of Trade.

    "How did you get that!" shouted Torris.

    She shrugged again. "Oh, I was given it."

    "You have better explain yourself, now," said Garrakson.

    "Sure, just give me a second," with that, her eyes briefly turned milky, and I remembered, I remembered entering into a room with bare shiny steel walls; in the middle was a big black seat. I sat down and clamped closed around my wrists and ankles.

    Then Karmen Kons walked into the room. "Hello, Attelus, long time no see," she said. "Good to see you..."

    She looked at me and smiled. "You don't remember me, do you?"

    Then I found I was back in Taryst's condo, on my knees with my hands on my head.

    "You're-!" started Garrakson.

    "Yes, I am," she interrupted, her earlier lightheartedness now completely gone. "Now you know who I am; now you understand why I have this."

    "Where is he?" demanded Garrakson.

    "Where do you think he is?" countered Karmen. "Taryst wishes to be left alone; he fears that people within his organisation want him dead," she said that with an accusatory glare at the Mimic and me. "So he is staying in his quarters and has sent me to take charge in his stead."

    "I want to talk to him," growled Garrakson.

    "Sorry, no," said Karmen shaking her head. "He ordered-"

    "I don't give a damn what he ordered!" roared Garrakson with so much feeling it made everyone flinch in fright and forced me to turn back to Garrakson.

    I was taken aback; never had I ever seen the stoic soldier so choked up before.

    "I need to talk to him! How do I know he is okay! Or even still alive! How can I believe you?"

    I frowned and looked away.

    Torris, next to Garrakson, shook his head and placed his hand on the ex-guardsman's shoulder.

    "Jeurat, calm down," he said softly. "Calm down, or you will need to leave."

    "Screw you, Marcel!" snarled Garrakson, tearing his shoulder from Torris' grasp. "Frig you! Frig you all!"

    With that, he threw the printout to the floor, turned and stormed through the curtains.

    Torris turned to the Stormtroopers. "You two follow him; make sure he's okay."

    "Yes, sir!" chorused the soldiers as they moved to follow after Garrakson.

    Karmen said, "Thank y-"

    "Shut up!" shouted Torris. "He's right; we have no idea if you are telling the truth; how do we know you didn't just kill Taryst and steal the writ?"

    Karmen Kons shrugged. "You don't, but you are a trained Arbitrator, so you should know if I am lying or not. I didn't kill Taryst."

    "Yeah, and you're a frigging psyker, so how do I know you aren't manipulating what I am seeing or even what I'm believing?" said Torris.

    Karmen threw back her head and laughed loudly. "Yes, I imagine you don't, or even if this..."

    She raised the writ. "Or even if this is real."

    "Give it to me," said Torris.

    Karmen shrugged, then tossed it over my head and straight into the ex-arbitrator's grasp.

    "You have seen it before," said Karmen. "So you can tell it's the real thing."

    Torris briefly looked over it. "Yep, looks all in order," he said.

    "Well?" Said Karmen. "Do you trust me now?"

    Torris frowned and shook his head. "Oh no, oh hell no, I wouldn't trust you as far as I can throw you, but I imagine that you could just erase our memories of all this before we can even blink."

    Karmen Kons' face turned hard, a very familiar expression. "What makes you think that?"

    "Oh, I don't know," said Torris as he stroked his thick chin with his finger and thumb. "You erased our memories of you implanting the psychic blocks, and after what you did to Vex," he shrugged. "It seems to be a pretty good assumption. So..."

    "So...?" growled Karmen.

    "So, we'll cooperate," said Torris lightly.

    Karmen's hard expression disappeared in a heartbeat. "What? Really?" She said bemused, and the Xenos and I exchanged surprised glances.

    "Yep, really, because if you could do all that, what's stopping you from erasing all of my memories?" said Torris.

    Again Karmen's expression darkened. "Well, I was hoping not to have to resort to such idle threats."

    "Idle? Idle?" echoed Torris mockingly. "I'd hardly call that an 'idle' threat. I really can't think of a much worse fate than losing all my memories, losing who I am and what I am; you could have just said that in the first place, but no, you just had to skirt around it. Typical woman."

    Around the soldiers shuffled nervously at Torris' perceived impudence.

    Karmen only smiled. "I can assure you, Marcel Torris, I am anything but 'typical.'"

    "And also incredibly humble as well, I see," said Torris. "Alright! So you're in charge, then so what do we do with these two?"

    I would have smiled at Torris' unintentional rhyming but was too busy looking over my shoulder at Karmen.

    That was it; this was the perfect time for her to betray me if she wanted to. Estella Erith, I knew, wouldn't even consider it, but this wasn't Estella; this was Karmen Kons, who was more than a little bit unhinged. Who I knew very little of, I couldn't help but wonder what exactly had happened to Estella over the past six years that changed her so much. How had she left the Velrosian Planetary Defense Force, how she had received her training?

    I had placed a lot of trust in her; now, it was the time to see if she would pull through.

    She met my gaze and smiled.

    "They are to live," she said and much to my relief.

    Now it was Torris' turn to be caught on the back foot. "What? Really?"

    "Yes, really," said Karmen. "They can still prove to be useful, and Olinthre has been in our organisation for many years; up until now, he has been loyal and dependable; because of that, Taryst believes he deserves a second chance."

    Torris scratched his head and met the Olinthre-thing's gaze. "That sounds...fair enough; it's good to hear that Taryst is taking that into account."

    "You seem upset, Torris," said Karmen, tilting her head slightly in feigned interest. "Are you upset by that?"

    "No!" cried Torris quickly. "No! I'm glad! If anyone deserves such consideration, it's the major! Just surprised, that's all. What about Attelus? Why's he off the hook?"

    Karmen shrugged. "Taryst feels that killing Glaitis' prized Apprentice without her permission would not be wise; we all know the trouble she went to revive him after the Twilight Bar incident; we still need her as an ally."

    Torris grimaced and glared witheringly at me. "I guess that makes sense, although Attelus getting off without any sort of consequence just doesn't sit well."

    "Well, we'll just tell Glaitis of what he's done after this is all said and done," said Karmen. "She can deal out a fitting punishment for the boy."

    I couldn't help clench my jaw at Karmen, calling me 'boy.'

    Torris' expression softened suddenly. "Alright, I hope it isn't too harsh for you, Attelus, and as long as Taryst stays in his quarters, he'll be safe, but..."


    "But I'd like to know and, Attelus here especially, do you know why Taryst chose to kill Elandria?"

    "Honestly...I do not know," said Karmen. "Maybe he wanted to avenge the deaths of his bodyguards; he never told me, nor was I here when he did it, I was still downstairs."

    Torris' jaw jutted slightly, and his attention fell back to me and the mimic. "You two, up."

    Slowly we obeyed. Me, especially as my entire body, ached with the effort.

    He turned to one of the Stormtroopers, "and they can have their weapons back."

    The soldier nodded and went to collect the weapons.

    "And I'd like to have that print out as well, Torris," said Karmen. "And the Write of Trade too, of course."

    "Yes, yes, of course," said the ex-arbitrator impatiently.

    The Stormtrooper came to me and handed back my sword, pistol and boot, while Torris walked by to give Estella the write and printout.

    "Alright, Attelus, Olinthre, just because of this, don't believe you're off the frigging hook," said Torris as he turned back to us. "You're to stay with us; I'm keeping my eye on you."

    I nodded as I slipped my sword back onto my belt and knelt to put on my shoe. My plan had gone awry; I had forgotten entirely about that damned printout, which was, with hindsight, a huge factor in all of this. We had only pulled through because of Karmen's excellent acting and improvising. I needed to remember this and to learn from it. Never again will I mess up so spectacularly in my planning.

    But at least now I know I can trust Karmen to an extent; she had an excellent opportunity to kill me and the mimic right there and then. She could think that I know too much, and in essence, I do; I know that she is Estella Erith, daughter of the long-dead lord Isaac Erith of the province Tasilin in Velrosia. I suspected she couldn't erase this knowledge ever again due to the psychic block placed in my mind.

    "Alright, leader," said Torris sarcastically, knocking me from my train of thought. "What is it that you command?"

    Karmen briefly looked over everyone in the room before finally saying, "we have someone who we need to see."

    "Who?" asked Torris.

    Karmen smiled. "Oh, no one of consequence."

    This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 03:23:53

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Longtime Dakkanaut

    Near Jupiter.

    Nice drawings, they look really cool. This all looks very interesting, definitely will have a read, thanks for sharing.

    Edit - Just noticed the shading you do using i assume some sort of pencil??, amazing stuff. I have never been able to draw my self.

    This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2019/08/03 07:49:43

    This is how aliens communicate in space.
    Great Music - https://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/0/760437.page 
    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

     Stormatious wrote:
    Nice drawings, they look really cool. This all looks very interesting, definitely will have a read, thanks for sharing.

    Edit - Just noticed the shading you do using i assume some sort of pencil??, amazing stuff. I have never been able to draw my self.

    Thanks, mate! Glad to hear! I hope you enjoy Secret War! Yup, it's pencil, usually use a 6b for shading as I like to do dark shading. Not as much nowadays, though.

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    It was early evening for Omnartus, but in this part of the hive, it may as well have been midnight, with the thick, black pollution blocking out any light emitted from the planet's two hapless moons. It was raining as we walked to Glaitis' building. The remaining eight soldiers and Torris escorted me, the Olinthre-thing, and Karmen Kons while Karmen led the way, chatting amicably with Torris the entire time.

    I pushed my long, wet hair off my face and, for a second, seriously considered getting a hair cut. I needed to talk with Karmen but was never allowed the opportunity. I suspected that Garrakson had left to talk to Vex about the printout.

    Now I found myself inadvertently praising Olinthre for his foresight at leaving his men with Vex, but for a reason, the good major would never have thought. I could only hope they had followed Olinthre's orders and not let Garrakson in, or if they didn't know that, it wouldn't escalate into a violent confrontation. In all honesty, I felt it would. Jeurat Garrakson was furious; not much was stopping him from allowing his rage to override his judgement and to kill the Stormtroopers guarding Vex; that or they may have just let the well-respected veteran right through.

    I didn't like the amount of 'hoping' in that last sentence and that Karmen Kons had seemingly just utterly forgotten about it; perhaps she had an ace up her sleeve or something again. I could only hope she did.

    I took another drag of my Lho stick and looked sidelong at the Olinthre-thing; It seemed just as impassive as always.

    I sighed out smoke while we walked out of the alleyway and into the plaza outside of Glaitis tower. Karmen stopped and turned back to me, addressing me for the first time since our elevator ride; she said, "well, I'm going to assume this 'No One of Consequence' is being held on the fifth floor, am I right, Attelus?"

    I nodded slowly, fixing her with an intense stare. "Yes, he is."

    Torris turned to me too. "Any idea who or what will be guarding him?"

    I shrugged, "I know that there are two permanent guards posted at his door. Otherwise, I'm not sure. last time I was there, five hours ago or so, both senior colleagues Hayden Tresch and Darrance were there; whether they're there now is anyone's guess."

    "Who are they?" asked Torris with a grimace indicating he already had an idea of what my answer was and that he knew he wouldn't like it.

    And he wasn't. "Hayden Tresch is a sniper, the best I've ever seen, and like you, Torris an ex-arbiter. He's also big, with a lot of strength and weight. While Darrance he's small like me and a master swordsman, but unlike me, has a very liberal view on the use of combat drugs and, on top of that, wields a powerweapon, so all your armour is void." I shook my head. "By themselves, they are both extremely dangerous, but together, they have at least a centuries worth of experience between them, if either one is there, and you go in hostile, expect a hell of a lot of casualties, but if they're both there..."

    I let it hang and looked over everyone; Karmen was scowling at me, Torris too, while the Olinthre-thing had the slightest of smiles, "then you really should've brought more men," I sighed.

    "Yes," growled Torris glaring at me under a hooded brow. "What do you suggest we do then? Send you in to talk to Glaitis? Do you think that would work?"

    I shook my head. "No, I don't think it would, but if you send in both Olinthre and me..."

    "Wait!" interrupted Torris. "Why you and Olinthre? Why not just you?"

    "Because it would lend precedence to the whole, 'we now know you've been holding a senior member of Brutis Bone's organisation without our knowledge or consent' claim if I have with me a high ranking..."

    Karmen said, "But-!"

    "And well known!" I interrupted through clenched teeth. "Member of Taryst's organisation to back it up, also I'm sure that Glaitis wouldn't appreciate me bringing a psyker so near her without her express consent."

    Karmen glared at me angrily, she feared I would try to kill Glaitis, and I couldn't blame her in all honesty.

    I met her eyes; I swear Estella, I won't break my promise to you, I thought.

    If she could read that, she gave no sign; she still stared at me.

    Torris frowned deeply and glanced from me to her and back, then sighed. "Well! Seems like a plan to me," he said. "I can't help wondering why we didn't make it the first plan in the first place, but...I'm sure you have your reasons."

    He looked to Karmen. "You're the boss, so it's you who decides, so which one? Sending the kid and the major in to negotiate or go in guns blazing and maybe, getting slaughtered to death."

    Torris grinned nervously. "I know which I like more."

    "Alright," Karmen finally conceding it with an animal-like growl.

    I smiled and nodded to Karmen, whose teeth grated in barely contained anger.

    "Let's go," I said to the Olinthre-thing, beckoning it forward, and we walked on, side by side toward the tower.

    "You know," It said once we were out of their earshot. "You are just getting better and better at manipulating people."

    I shrugged. "Well, I did learn from the very best."

    "Ah! As did I," It said.

    I grimaced. "Anyway, I didn't manipulate anyone; it was just mere logic; I just made sure it was brought out into the open. That's what would happen if we did try to take No One of Consequence by force. I was telling the truth, and Torris saw that."

    Olinthre's brow furrowed. "But that's exactly what manipulation is, Attelus. Anyway, what Torris doesn't know that Karmen or Estella, whoever she is, is worried that you will try to kill Glaitis. Attelus, now I would like to know where I stand on this. Are you going to try to kill her when we get up there?"

    I abruptly halted in my tracks; we were just about to ascend the steps to the main entrance and brushed my wet hair off my face again.

    "No," I growled. "I intend to keep my promise to Karmen, no matter what. I thought that went without saying."

    The Olinthre-thing raised an eyebrow. "You care about her, don't you, Attelus? And she seems to care for you too."

    "And let me guess," I said. "You find that interesting, right?"

    It grinned. "I would think that would go without saying, Attelus."

    I frowned, took the smoking Lho in between finger and thumb then threw it away. It was strange; I wasn't scared, angry, or anything; I was as calm as calm could be, despite the situation.

    Slipping my hands into the pockets of my flak jacket, I began to ascend the stairs.

    "Let's just get this over and damn well done with," I growled.

    Side by side, the Mimic and I exited the elevator.

    Silently, we walked down the corridor, me with my hands in my flak jacket pockets and another smoking Lho hanging from the corner of my mouth. It still in the form of Olinthre, Its expression utterly devoid of any emotion.

    I had expected the fear to appear as we ascended in the elevator. That it would come in a sudden rush, which would cause me to clench my teeth to fight it back, but still, I felt nothing even as we approached those glass doors and our footfalls echoed on the shining marble tiles—just clarity of mind, only an emptiness.

    I have felt like this before, many times; in fact, it was the feeling I got when I was in a fight. I felt good, no more than good; I felt great. Despite how badly I ached all over.

    Without a further word, we shoved the doors open and stepped inside.

    Of course, Glaitis was still in that room, with the cold black marble floor and stark white walls, which made for a harsh, almost unnerving, in contrast to me. Behind her was a huge window made of reinforced one-sided glass, affording her a fantastic view of the dark, dank, depressing hive below. I have never seen her ever lookout it before, which in all honesty I couldn't blame her for and still, she sat, with her feet on her desk and reclining back in her chair while casually appraising a data slate.

    "Ahh," she said with false friendliness. "I see that you two have joined forces, young one; you seem to have a skill to gain allies in the most unlikeliest o-"

    "Shut up."

    She was interrupted in mid-word, leaving her jaw hanging open slackly as she seemed to try to comprehend, and I ignored the equally shocked look of the Olinthre-thing.

    For a good six seconds, she was like that, her mouth working as she struggled for words.

    "D-did you just..." She managed through clenched teeth; then, a hideous smile suddenly curled her lips.

    "Yeah, I just told you to shut up," I confirmed softly. "I'm not in the mood for your small talk."

    She grinned and glared at me from under a hooded brow, a disturbingly familiar expression that sent shivers up my spine despite myself.

    "And pray tell, young one, why is that?" She queried, laying her elbow on the table and her heart-shaped jaw into the palm of her hand.

    I clenched my teeth and clenched my fists. "Because..." I trailed off.

    "Because you're angry, aren't you, young one?" she finished, the smile somehow turning even more insane. "Because you are so full of rage and hatred? For what I have done? For what It had done?" She said, indicating the Olinthre-thing with a wave of her hand.

    I smiled then began to laugh, I threw back my head and bellowed out at the top of my lungs, and Glaitis and the Olinthre-thing's confused expressions made me laugh all the harder. I even laughed so hard that I had to wipe tears away with my forearm when I finally finished.

    "N-no, it's not that," I giggled as I saw Glaitis glare at me, her jaw twitching with barely contained rage. "It's not that at all."

    "What is it then!" Glaitis demanded as she angrily slammed her hands onto her desk

    "No, Glaitis, It's not because I hate you; I don't hate you," I said, and my face hardened. "How can I hate you when you aren't even worth hating in the first place."

    Glaitis' eyes widened, and for a few seconds, we stood silently, our attentions locked.

    I smiled about to continue when the Mimic finally chose to intervene.

    "Mamzel!" It cried, stepping between us. "W-we have much to report."

    That made me grin all the more. "Yes, yes, we do indeed." I agreed.

    "Yes, I am...sure, that you have much to say," she said haltingly.

    I sighed. "Well, where should we start, eh, Xenos?"


    "I know," I interrupted. "Let's start right at the top, right at the meat of the issue, shall we?"

    "Your theatrics are beginning to get on my nerves, young one," she growled.

    I smiled. "Only just now? You truly do have the patience worthy of sainthood."

    "Attelus," said the Mimic warningly through clenched teeth.

    "You've been outplayed, mamzel," I said.

    "What?" Glaitis growled.

    "You've been outplayed and betrayed, Glaitis. Inquisitor Edracian is on Omnartus."

    Fear slowly crossed her face, which almost took my breath away with its potency.

    "He's here? Now? How?" she yelled.

    I raised a mocking eyebrow. "You really didn't know?"

    "Tell me everything, child, tell me everything you know, now!"

    I grinned. "As you wish." Then I told her and enjoyed every second of it.

    "F-Feuilt?" she stammered. "H-he was Edracian's spy?"

    "It seems so, yes," I answered.

    She sighed heavily and placed her face into the palms of her hands. "How was this not foreseen? I cannot believe this: how?"

    I shrugged, unsure what to say, never have I ever seen Glaitis so pale and taken aback before.

    "So you must see mamzel," said the Mimic. "We must speak with the captive; we need to find Edracian, even if that means we must release him and ally with Brutis Bones."

    "D-do, you really think that he would do that?" asked Glaitis. "He would ally with his enemies?"

    "If we can convince him the circumstances have changed," It said. "Maybe."

    I frowned and folded my arms on that thought; why didn't we ally with Brutis Bones in the first place? I sighed and shook my head; I could hazard many guesses on that but just couldn't be bothered anymore.

    "You-you still have the means to communicate with the Arbites and Magistratum leaders?" said Glaitis.

    "Yes, mamzel and so does Karmen Kons."

    Glaitis rolled her eyes. "Of course she does."

    I furrowed my brow and took a step closer to the desk. "The Adeptus Arbites and the Magistratum?"

    "Yes," said Glaitis. "They have been on Taryst's payroll from the very start; that is why we have been able to work without their interference."

    The corner of my mouth twitched; I should've guessed that, frig it. Estella mentioned earlier they had intercepted Brutis Bones because of the information given to them from contacts inside the Arbites and Magistratum.

    "So what should I do about you, Attelus?" said Glaitis. "You have, for all intents and purposes, betrayed me."

    "And you had Elandria killed," I growled. "I think we can just call us even."

    She moved so fast I never got any chance to blink, let alone react; she was out of her seat, her fingers wrapped around my throat, and she slammed me against the wall.

    "No!" she roared right in my face as I gasped in vain for air and felt the stinging pain of her fingernails digging deep into my skin. "No! We cannot ever 'call it even' child! I have had enough of your newfound insolence! You have betrayed me, you have cooperated with our enemy, and I will not let this pass as I did with your incident with Vex Carpompter. You must face the consequences of your actions."

    My teeth clenched as the anger suddenly raged through me, and with one violent tug, I tore her hand from my neck.

    "That..." I gasped and clutched the painful, forming bruise on my throat. "That...That is all I have been doing lately, master! Facing the consequences, the consequence of hurting Vex, the consequences of being too over berating to myself and forgetful! In all honesty, if I hadn't cooperated with Edracian, we wouldn't know what we know now."

    She just sneered and glared.

    "Y-you taught me that I must do what I must to survive until the mission is complete; I was just doing as your teachings demanded; I did what I had to, too survive."

    "And that leads us to another question, Attelus," said the Mimic. "Why did Edracian let you live when you know so much? Why didn't he inject you with legitimate poison and just not give you the cure?"

    I shrugged and sighed; why hadn't I thought of that? "P-perhaps he's already off-world?" I ventured. "Or perhaps he's just insane, frig. He certainly seemed to be, too me."

    "Or who is to say that he didn't just have you injected with another poison?" said Glaitis. "One that is far slower to act."

    "Except for the aches and pains from the beating your pet Xenos dealt to me earlier and being barely able to breathe," I said. "I feel fine."

    The Xenos' punch came from nowhere, smashing into the side of my face, knocking off Karmen's bandage and sent me stumbling, clutching at my already beaten and bruised face.

    "Do not ever call me anyone's 'pet', ever again," It said dangerously. "Or so help me the beating I gave you before will be nothing compared to what I will do to you, you understand, Attelus?"

    My smile hidden behind my hand hit the berserk button, did I? I thought if only I'd known of this earlier.

    It's certainly something I could exploit in the future.

    I slowly picked up my bandage, placed it back, and then stood back up.

    "Frig it!" I snarled with feigned anger. "Why is everyone hitting me today!"

    "It's because you deserve it, young one," stated Glaitis as she returned to her seat.

    I met the Thing's anger ridden attention. "I'm sorry, " I sighed. "I was wrong and idiotic; I shouldn't have called you that; I apologise."

    Olinthre's features just sneered and glared in an exact echo of Glaitis before.

    "So, you want to talk to the man who named himself No One of Consequence to try and get him to lead us to Brutis Bones. So you can negotiate an alliance to track down Edracian and stop him. Am I correct in that?" She said.

    "Essentially, yes," I said. "Assuming, of course, he isn't off-world by now."

    She smiled without warmth and curled her fingers together in front of her face.

    "He is still here, young one, of that I have no doubt."

    I raised an eyebrow and glanced briefly at the Mimic, who looked back just as confused.

    "And how the hell do you know that, mamzel?"

    She shook her head and reclined back on her seat, now as smug as smug can be.

    "It is pretty obvious, child, and explains why he let you live; this, quite simply, is a trap."

    My eyes widened. "What?"

    Glaitis rolled her eyes and swivelled in her seat. "Both us and Brutis Bones are his main enemies; we are the only ones who know of his conspiracy; we are the only ones trying to hunt him. He, obviously, like us, doesn't know where Brutis Bones is, so he is waiting for us to make an alliance so he can ambush and kill all his enemies while we are all together in one, convenient location."

    I stood for a few seconds, my jaw working as I struggled to make my next sentence. Glaitis was right; damn it, why hadn't I thought of that?

    "S-so, what are we to do, mamzel?" stammered the Mimic.

    She shrugged. "Why we are going to fall for it, not doing so would be..." She paused and smiled, "...Inconceivable."

    That jolted me out of my stupor, and I glared at her hard.

    "We are?" asked the Mimic timidly.

    "Of course!" she yelled abruptly, causing both the Mimic and me to flinch in fright. "We'll play Edracian at his little game."

    "That's still assuming he's still planetside," I growled. "He could've just left his mooks to ambush us and left."

    Glaitis sighed. "Could you, just for once in your miserable life, trust me, young one. Edracian is on Omnartus, this I know without doubt. Now you can go back down to your friends waiting down in the lobby and tell them; they have my permission to talk to No One of Consequence; I will send word to Hayden, Castella and Darrance. You are both dismissed."

    The Mimic immediately turned to leave, but I still glared at her balefully; I had never mentioned Edracian's catchphrases during my report.

    Did the Eldar tell her of them, or was there something else behind it?

    She just looked back, mocking me from behind her glasses.

    "Uhh, Attelus?" asked the Mimic.

    "Whatever," I only growled and left without a further word.

    We stepped out of the elevator and into the black marble-walled lobby to find everyone waiting for us, including, much to my surprise, Garrakson and the two stormtroopers who Torris had sent to help him.

    "Well, that took a while," said Karmen without greeting. "Did you get permission or not?"

    I only managed a slight nod, my attention on Garrakson, who strangely seemed his usual grim, unreadable self.

    Standing next to Karmen, Torris frowned. "That a yes then, Attelus?"

    I nodded again as Garrakson slowly approached.

    "If you wondered where I was, kiddo, I was looking for medicae Feuilt," said Garrakson and I could barely hide my relief. That would explain why Karmen Kons was so calm.

    Or he could've met with Vex and was lying about it.

    From now on, I certainly had to keep an eye on Jeurat Garrakson. Perhaps it would have been a better idea just to have told the truth?

    I wasn't sure, but it was too late now; we'd lied, so now I needed to concern myself on how to reinforce that lie.

    "And let me guess," said the Mimic for me. "He was nowhere to be found?"

    Garrakson grimaced and looked away. "Yeah, I even checked the surveillance recordings and got nothing. I don't know what that implies, but it cannot be good."

    "A-and no sign of El's body?" I asked haltingly.

    Garrakson grimaced even more and shook his head. "Nothing, sorry kid, he might have hidden her somewhere I had no time to look; it's a bloody big tower. Or took her with him, either/or, I dunno."

    I furrowed my brow and sucked air through clenched teeth; why the hell would Edracian want Elandria's body? This was truly getting weirder and weirder.

    "Alright," said Torris with a smile and a nod. "I think it's time we got to doing this, then."

    We rode the elevator up to the fifth floor, all of us barely fit in the small space, and I suspected the weight of our combined weights was well over its limit.

    Just then, I couldn't help wonder, how many times have I ridden up and down elevators this day alone? I began a quick calculation in my head.

    Mathematics has never been my strong suit, so it took a little longer than it really should've, but what I came up with was twelve; I've been up and down elevators twelve times today since my miraculous recovery. By the Emperor, that was a hell of a lot, and it seemed after every time, I found some new tidbit of information, some new revelation that turned everything on its head. Sacred frig, today was indeed an eventful day.

    I smiled to myself and turned to meet Karmen Kons' impassive gaze as she stood right beside me; now that was the understatement of the millennia, I thought.

    She looked back unflinchingly, and we played 'who can stare at the other the longest' for the rest of the ride.

    Finally, the elevator found the fifth floor and immediately, we quickly filed out into the dark, brown-walled corridor.

    Waiting for us was Castella, Darrance and Hayden.

    Hayden, a big figure barely able to fit into the thin corridor, stood with Darrance and Castella at his sides just in front of him.

    I was one of the first to file out, and all three couldn't hide their shock when they saw the state of my face.

    "W-what happened to your face?" Demanded Darrance, with wide eyes.

    I looked at all three, a little surprised that Glaitis had neglected to tell them what happened.

    "I-I fell down some stairs," I lied.

    Immediately, Darrance eyes turned into suspicious slits, evidently seeing straight through my fib, but he left it at that.

    Garrakson's jaw clenched with impatience, and he started forward, growling, "alright, alright enough mucking about we're-"

    Hayden's outstretched hand interrupted the ex-guardsman in mid-sentence and mid-stride.

    "No," said the ex-arbitrator in a tone with so much finality it would've envied Major Olinthre. "That wasn't to the conditions, those three and those three only."

    Hayden indicated, 'Olinthre,' Karmen and me as he said it with a brief wave of his hand.

    Garrakson, who I never thought could be intimidated by anyone, flinched back from Tresch, who stood with such stability he could've been an adamantium bulwark. The ex-guardsman directed a withering glare at me.

    "Why didn't you tell us we couldn't come?" He demanded.

    "I didn't know," I said with wide eyes. "Mamzel Glaitis neglected to tell us this when we met her, right, Olinthre?"

    "Yes, yes she did," confirmed the mimic; its voice so deadpanned it could've echoed.

    Garrakson turned back to Tresch, his fists clenching open and closed, and for a few scary seconds, it seemed that he was going to strike out at Hayden. But Tresch stayed deathly still, and in the blink of an eye, both Castella and Darrance reached for their weapons, as did Torris and the ten soldiers escorting us.

    I watched on, with my heart in my throat, unsure what to do, or even if it came to blows, which side to take.

    Finally, Garrakson turned away and snarled out a, "frig it!"

    Then he turned his glare back to me. "I know when we're being hoodwinked, let's leave this farce. let's go."

    With that, they left, filing back into the elevator, all the while Garrakson glaring accusingly at me, and I couldn't help wonder; what the hell did I do?

    We walked in silence through the cramped, brown, dull lit corridor. Tresch was at the front with Castella and Darrance just after him, Karmen and I; the last was the Olinthre-thing.

    I had my hands in their pockets, and every few metres, I had to rub my eyes with my fists.

    I felt tired and as sick as all hell and my face stung and throbbed.

    Shacking away the dizziness and while avoiding Estella, who walked beside me, I said, "Darrance?"

    Darrance frowned deeply and looked over his shoulder at me. "What?"

    I forced my eyes to stay open; I needed something to distract me, so I can keep my eyes open, and I had a question I wanted to ask the veteran assassin.

    "When I woke up, medicae Feuilt told me something."

    Darrance grimaced and turned away. "I assume he mentioned that I visited you while you were in a coma? Is that what you are alluding to?"

    "That's exactly it, yes," I said through gritted teeth, not liking his tone at all.

    Without looking back, he shrugged. "And you are wondering why Darrance the complete frig head, who seems to hate Attelus Kaltos, deigned to bother to visit you? Am I again, correct?"

    My jaw twitched. "Yes."

    He shrugged again. "It was your birthday; I thought I might as well, as it may very well have been your last."

    My eyebrows raised with bemusement. "My-my birthday?"

    Darrance looked back over his shoulder at me. "Don't tell me you forgot? You turned twenty-four standard, did you not?"

    "Y-yeah, but with everything that's happening, surely, I could be forgiven for forgetting my birthday?"

    Darrance shook his head and sighed. "That is where our opinions yet again differ, apprentice. When one is in our line of work, one must appreciate every birthday they live to see as the next is far, far from guaranteed. Isn't that correct, Castella?"

    Castella seemed to suddenly flinch and hunch forwards as Darrance turned his attention to her. "Y-yes, that's right, Darrance!" She said, then she looked over her shoulder, giving me a nervous grin. "An assassin must appreciate every birthday they live to see! A-and happy birthday, Attelus!"

    I could only purse my lips and look to the floor, unsure what to think, never did I ever comprehend that Darrance would care for such a small thing or, anything, for that matter, and Castella, well, I didn't know what I should say to her or why she had reacted to Darrance's question so strangely. Was it because of my reaction to her treatment of the prisoner?

    "You need not look so perplexed, apprentice," said Darrance, shaking his head. "Believe it or not, I have a personality as well."

    "Yeah," growled Hayden. "Happy birthday, kid."

    This was echoed in turn by Karmen Kons and the Olinthre-thing.

    "Th-thanks, everyone," I stammered, rubbing my eyes again.

    I'm so frigging tired, I thought.

    We came to the door soon afterwards, and the guards, looking as bored as they did earlier, again nod respectfully to Castella and Hayden, who both returned the nods, and absently opened the door for us.

    We filed inside and gazed through the one-sided glass into the cell. There sat the man that we beat brutally, but who we depended on so much.

    Would he help us? And if he didn't, could I blame him? I decided a certain, no, on the last question, no I wouldn't at all.

    Next to me, Karmen Kons, with her arms folded, grimaced and growled. "I knew we shouldn't have given you this building."

    Tresch turned to her and smiled, although it lacked any humour. "Well, it's a bit late for that regret, mamzel," He said.

    Karmen shrugged. "I never said that we regretted it, assassin, just that we will learn from it."

    "Like you also learned how to not fall so easily for traps?" said Castella darkly.

    Karmen's attention snapped straight to Castella, her face as hard as stone. "Yes, we have certainly learned not to trust supposedly trustworthy allies, ever again."

    That caused all my colleagues, and Darrance included, to suddenly burst out in almost riotous, contemptuous and cruel laughter.

    Karmen Kons grimaced with barely contained rage and balled her hands into fists.

    I had got that one; they found it incredibly amusing that Taryst and his group had even slightly trusted us in the first place, which on hindsight, was, actually, kind of funny. But I had no intention to laugh along with my colleagues; their laughter was harsh on the ears and horrified me. It was the laughter I could imagine from a group of predators would laugh once they had cornered their prey.

    "Can we talk to the prisoner now?" growled the Olinthre-thing with such force my fellow assassins' laughter was cut short. "Or are we going just to waste time standing around exchanging petty jokes?"

    Castella smiled and shrugged. "Well, I enjoy the petty jokes more, personally, but if you insist, Mr major," she said while giving the Olinthre-thing a mocking salute and a playful wink.

    Treasch frowned at Castella. "Alright, we'll go in and talk to him first; you three just wait out here for a while."

    With that, the assassins walked down the corridor and into the cell while we approached the window.

    "So," said no one of Consequence after Castella gave him a long sip of water. "You here to ask more questions?" Then he glared accusingly at Castella. "Or just to beat the crap outta me again?"

    "Why don't you take a guess?" Said Castella. "I bet you won't even come close."

    I grimaced, tuned out and turned to Karmen Kons.

    "You do know, Attelus, that you are scarred for life now," she said bluntly. "That wound Elandria gave you will never go away.

    I frowned and absently touched the bandage covering the wound. "I know, I'd thought so," I said sadly.

    A short silence followed before the Olinthre-thing grimaced and turned to us. "I've gotta say if you two were trying to convince everyone that you don't know each other, you are doing one terrible job."

    We glared at it and said simultaneously, "what?"

    It returned our glares unflinchingly and shrugged. "Well, the whole staring into each other's eyes thing during half the elevator ride up, your little confrontation before we entered the mamzel's residence, yeah, they weren't clues toward a prior relationship at all."

    I immediately turned away as I felt my face flush with embarrassment, but Karmen Kons remained unfazed.

    "We never had a prior relationship, Xenos," she snarled. "It was a...friendship, nothing more."

    The Olinthre-thing smiled. "So you two did know each other before these events, then? Thank you for the confirmation," then It shrugged. "Well, from the vibe I got from you two, it seemed like a prior relationship to me. I apologise for the misunderstanding."

    Karmen Kons gritted her teeth, about to reply but was interrupted as Castella, Tresch, and Darrance entered the room.

    "He is yours," said Darrance, with an evil twisted grin that churned my guts. "We will stay out here."

    Karmen treated him a dark look but gave a slow, deliberate nodded.

    "Thank you for the honour, assassin," she growled sardonically.

    Darrance only replied with a brief, mocking bow.

    Karmen grimaced, then turned to the Olinthre-thing and me and motioned us to follow.

    "Let us see how this goes, shall we?" She said.

    We filed into the interrogation room, and the beaten and broken form of No One of Consequence looked over his shoulder at us.

    "So Taryst's bitch psyker finally deigns to see me personally," he growled, and I couldn't help but have my attention snap straight to Karmen with surprise; how did he know about her?

    "And you, kid, I see someone gave you one hell of a beating since we last met; believe me, I know how you feel," with that, he spluttered out laughter at his horrid joke.

    "We have come to negotiate," said Karmen through clenched teeth as she walked around to face the captive directly.

    "Negotiate, huh?" said No One of Consequence, who seemed genuinely perplexed. "Negotiate what?"

    "We need you to lead us to Brutis Bones," she said sternly.

    With that, No One of Consequence threw back his head and bellowed out a brief bark of laughter.

    "Well, well, we've gone from torturing to 'negotiating' what makes you think it'll make a difference?"

    "Because now the situation has become vastly more complicated," said Karmen. "Now we find our goals, coincide."

    No One of Consequence sniffed and cleared his throat. "The situation was already 'vastly complicated'; how could it get even more complicated?"

    Karmen looked at me briefly, then to the one-sided glass that my colleagues stood behind.

    "Because Taryst is dead," she said simply. "And with him the intent to hide the truth you and Brutis Bones know."

    I flinched at how easily Karmen had given such a secret over and was suddenly supremely glad that Garrakson and Torris weren't here to hear it.

    Now that brought a genuine look of shock to the throne agent's bruised, destroyed face.

    "Taryst is dead? How?"

    Karmen Kons shrugged. "If I told you the details, it would take all day, let's just say..."

    She trailed off and glanced over her shoulder, accusingly at the one-sided glass. "That it was, an...internal...conspiracy."

    No One of Consequence sniggered and shook his head with utter contempt. "Of course it was," he lisped.

    Karmen smiled coldly. "Not just that, we also have irrefutable proof that Inquisitor Nonin Edracian is planetside."

    "Oh?" said No One of Consequence, disarmingly calm about it. "Has that frigger finally decided to show his face, huh?"

    "Yes, and it is our every intention to stop him, as it is yours," said Karmen. "And if we are able to cooperate with Brutis Bones, the chances would increase exponentially."

    "Oh. I'm sure they would, that's if we actually cooperate and you don't betray us."

    "You have my guarantee," said Karmen as she raised in front of his face the right of trade. "As long as I hold this, the organisation is mine to control."

    No One of Consequence tilted his head forward and sighed. "I can't frigging believe I'm doing this, but, alright, if Edracian's on Omnartus and you're truly willing to forge an alliance. I'll take you, despite all the deaths and horrid actions your organisation has done to my people. But on one condition."

    "Give us the coordinates of where his base of operations is," said Karmen. "Then lead us there."

    No One of Consequence grimaced. "Why?"

    "So we can send in the Magistratum and the Adeptus Arbites to make sure that it isn't an ambush beforehand."

    "Ha! So much for trust!"

    "Show us that we can trust you, No One of Consequence, then we will."

    "Alright, alright. I will. But you need to tell me exactly how you know Edracian is planetside and the events that led up to you realising this stuff," He said.

    "We don't have the time-!" tried Karmen.

    "Then make the frigging time!" he interrupted with a force one who'd been so badly beaten shouldn't be capable of. "Just like I need to earn your trust, you need to earn mine."

    Karmen sighed and turned to me. "Okay, alright, Attelus...?"

    I gave her a wide-eyed look that asked, 'why me?'

    She just furrowed her brow, shook her head and impatiently ushered me forward.

    I sighed and walked past Karmen to let No one of Consequence look at me directly, wondering what exactly to say and what not to say.

    "Hey kid, long time no see, was it Inquisitor Edracian who did that to your face?"

    I shook my head. "No, no, it wasn't," I paused to think. "I-it started just after I talked to you. I was...ambushed."

    "Ambushed? Ambushed by who?"

    "It was a group of well-dressed Hammers who wielded axes, they ambushed me, and after I fought them for a while, Edracian chose to show himself."

    "Okay, what did he look like?"

    "H-he wore blue power armour with a brown cloak on his shoulders and a large 'I' emblazoned on his chest."

    No One of Consequence nodded but did nothing else.

    "I tried to escape, but they captured me, injected me with...poison, poison, I found out later was fake, and he ordered me in the exchange of the antidote to...Infiltrate Taryst's condo and take a pict of the Interrogator, if she was dead, the Interrogator you told us of earlier, with this..."

    I took out the pict taker from one of my flak jacket pockets and showed it to him.

    Despite their swollen condition, No One of Consequence's eyes widened with distinct fear.

    "And tell me, boy!" He yelled so loud and desperately it caused us all to flinch in fright. "Did you succeed!"

    "Y-yes, I did," I stammered, taken aback by his sudden ferocity.

    "Oh! You stupid, stupid, stupid boy! Now you've doomed us all!" He roared, and he looked to Karmen. "Yeah, I'll cooperate with ya; I'll give ya the coordinates ya need," then he turned back to me with an intense, accusing glare.

    "But thanks to this little fool's actions, I think it'll be too little, too late."

    I couldn't contend a reply at No One of Consequence's statement; I could only stand around my jaw dumbly agape, my heart lodged in my throat and my eyes wide.

    "W-what, do you mean?" asked Karmen for me.

    He let out a frustrated groan and hung his head forward. "Typical, frigging, merc always thinking about how to save your own bloody hide! Typical! Frigging typical!"

    "What the hell do you mean!" Karmen snarled.

    No One of Consequence sighed deeply. "What I mean, psyker," he spat out "psyker" as though it were a curse. "That seemingly innocent pict has spelt-"

    "I know that!" roared Karmen. "You have said that already! Tell us why!"

    "I'm not sure I should, yet," said the man. "Brutis might want to know this before I do."

    "Oh! You!" and she drew her hand back to punch the captive in the face, but the Olinthre-thing caught her fist in mid-air before the blow could land.

    "You mean that this...Simple pict, Attelus took is going to contribute to Inquisitor Edracian's...goal?" said the Olinthre Thing as Karmen struggled to break from its grasp.

    "More than any 'simple pict' ever bloody well should," answered No One of Consequence as he spat more blood onto the floor. "That pict wasn't just of my master's Interrogator; she was more than just that, she was...Her name was Amanda Heartsa, God-Emperor rest her soul, and she was more than just an interrogator; she was his daughter."

    My attention snapped to the Olinthre-thing's back.

    "And, well, frig it. It gets worse from there, but you're gonna have to wait 'till we find Brutis before you find that out," said No One of Consequence.

    The Olinthre-thing nodded and let go of Karmen. "We are willing to make such a compromise, are we not, Karmen?"

    She grimaced and rubbed her wrist. "Yeah, whatever," she growled, and she turned to the captive. "So, now will you give us the coordinates, throne agent?"

    "Why, of course, mamzel," said No One of Consequence with mocking politeness. "And I'd like you to know if young...Attenlus or whatever his bloody name is. Hadn't told me he'd taken that stupid pict, I wouldn't have told you the real co-ordinances."

    The Olinthre-thing folded its arms and sniffed loudly. "I didn't think that you would've; that was way too easy." And I couldn't help but agree.

    No One of Consequence pursed his lips and shrugged. "Oh, I was that obvious? Was I? Ohh, gosh darn it!"

    The Xenos shrugged. "Better luck next time, I guess."

    "Would. You. Please. Tell. Us. The coordinates, now!" Roared Karmen right in No One of Consequence's face through clenched teeth, her attractive face now beet red with rage, and I could see the old man close his eyes to shield them from her spittle

    "Okay! Okay!" This is where they will go after what happened at the Twilight bar; it's in the underhive; it's 20036 by 33299; it's an old Factorium."

    My eyes widened at that. "Wait! I know that place! It was one of the first we investigated!" I exclaimed.

    "Yeah, well, they wouldn't have moved there 'till a month ago," said No One of Consequence. "So don't feel bad. There's other things you should be feeling bad about right now, kid."

    I sighed and facepalmed; the search for Brutis Bones seemed pointless now.

    "Alright! Here's the plan!" Said Karmen. "Olinthre! I need you to get in contact with Arlathan Karkin at the Magistratum and Tamlorst Toroun of the Adeptus Arbites; tell them we've found Brutis Bones; he's at 20036 by 33299 and tell them to surround the area, but not to go inside until we meet them there!"

    The Olinthre-thing grinned, shook its head and said, "finally, they'll have to start working for all those bribes, huh? Bet they'll be fuming!" And it reached up to its ear to start tuning its link.

    Karmen reached up to her's.

    "Garrakson, I need you and your men back here, now. We need an escort back to the main tower."

    She nodded at the reply I couldn't hear, then lowered her hand.

    "You're sure we can trust him?" I asked hesitantly. "Because I know he doesn't trust us."

    Karmen shook her head and grinned. "Jeurat Garrakson is a man of honour, Attelus; you know that. He will follow what I say as long as Taryst ordered him to."

    I frowned, feeling she was, again, vastly underestimating Garrakson. "But he didn't", I pointed out.

    "Well, we have something that can rectify that," she replied, nodding over her shoulder at the Olinthre-thing as he quietly spoke into his link in the corner, in what I guessed to be Taryst's voice.

    I shrugged and looked curiously at the man tied to the chair, wondering what he thought of that brief bit of dialogue, but he immediately turned away once he saw my attention was on him.

    "So what are we doing, now?" I asked Karmen.

    "We are taking poor, poor, No One of Consequence here to be fixed up at our medicae," said Karmen as she began to untie him. "We don't want our guide to be in bad shape."

    "You just don't want them to see the condition your lackeys left me in," growled No One of Consequence." Which I also knew, without doubt, to be true.

    Karmen leaned her head over his shoulder and briefly pulled the ropes tighter, causing No One of Consequence to gasp out in pain,

    "Same, difference, really," she said sweetly. "Now, Attelus, can you help me here."

    "O-okay," I stammered and moved to comply.

    It had stopped raining while we walked back to Taryst's tower. The going was slow as Garrakson, Torris, and the ten Stormtrooper escort checked every inch of every corner of the maze of twists and turns, which made those alleyways with a zeal that would put even the most overzealous Ministorum priest to shame. Also, Castella, Hayden, and Darrance watched the back, but in a far more casual fashion. Castella had her left hand laid on her the hilt of one of her sheathed swords, while in her right was her raised plasma pistol. Hayden held his Long Las low; the barrel pointed at the ground while Darrance had his ornate, curved power scimitar drawn but carried it casually at his side.

    I was happy to let them guard; I was too preoccupied with my churning stomach, my painful throbbing face and my thoughts.

    The three assassins were easily, far more intimidating and professional than Torris, Garrakson and the Stormtroopers combined; their casual confidence just added to it somehow. They were skilled extremely; I've seen all three at work during my seven years under Glaitis' employ and knew this well.

    But yet, despite this, I knew even they paled in comparison to my father.

    Serghar Kaltos could easily slaughter all three before they could even blink. With this, my thoughts wandered back to my dream, the one I fought mono a mono against my father and defeated him.

    I looked down and clenched my gloved fist. Could I one day be that good? By the Emperor, it would take a while, although.

    Again, I glanced over my shoulder at the senior assassins. However, I had sparred against my father on countless occasion; I'd never actually saw him at his full strength, he was always toying with me, but still, he'd always defeat me with ease.

    While he was undoubtedly useful, perhaps I was overestimating Serghar Kaltos actual skill?

    Perhaps I was even underestimating my own? While I doubted I was as good as Serghar Kaltos, perhaps I was on par with Castella, Darrance and Tresch? In the last six months, I'd seen more action than many veteran guardsmen would see in years; I must've killed dozens of hammers on the edge of my sword. I must've learned something from all of that crap, even if those months of toil and killing now turned out to be utterly useless.

    Then I looked to No One of Consequence, who stumbled handcuffed and blindfolded beside me. I had also gone one on one against him, a man who must be a very experienced throne agent and almost came out on top, then I had held off a rampaging Arco Flagellant long enough to allow everyone in the Twilight bar to escape with their lives.

    I did not doubt that now, that I'd somehow accomplished that seemingly implausible feat. Not a shadow of a doubt, Elandria wouldn't have lied, especially if it were her last words.

    I closed my eyes and took a deep breath through my nose; I missed her. Would I ever get over her? I would, I would, one day, without doubt, I'd get over her untimely death, but I wouldn't forget her.

    My heart suddenly hurt, and my hand reached up to touch the bandage on my face; I'd surely never forget her, especially with this forever marring my face.

    This made me quietly sigh and shake my head, now wasn't the time to be lost in thought! Or as Elandria would've said: 'lost in my little world.'

    I smiled sadly at the thought, and then I noticed Karmen was looking over her shoulder at me, her large blue eyes wide with concern.

    I met her gaze, giving her a slight smile and a nod. In all honesty, of all the people involved in this, I understood her motivations the least. During our time together in the war-ravaged Velrosia, while we travelled south, I'd gotten to know Estella Erith well. She was a kind woman with great charisma and intellect but was extremely passionate and proud. It'd been that pride which had almost driven her to throw her life away, once.

    But now, as I stated before, I think Karmen Kons is an entirely different creature; sure, the pride was still there; in fact, I'd say it was even worse, but she was also far more cruel, ruthless, manipulative, controlling.

    A sudden shudder climbed up my spine as another realisation hit me; she was just like Glaitis.

    But yet, sometimes, I'd see hints of Estella Erith break through the Karmen Kons persona when her dialogue became more formalised or at times like this. The concern with which she looked at me now was genuine. Genuine in a way Glaitis could never hope to be. I could tell this because it wasn't Karmen looking at me; it was Estella. How I knew, I truly didn't know, I just did.

    Estella gave me a great big grin that made my heart flutter, then turned back forward.

    The rest of the trip went without incident, which surprised me. If there were a time that Brutis Bones and his secret squad of crack commandos to strike, it'd have been now, while their erstwhile ally was being escorted out in the open and despite everything, I felt like I never wanted it to end. It did, of course, but it was the last time of peace and contemplation I had before everything went to hell in a handcart.

    And by the Emperor now, that was indeed the understatement of the millennia.

    I sat stripped to the waist, sitting on a gurney in the medical facility, the big black bruises covering my torso a stark contrast to my pale white skin. I tried hard to ignore the pain as medicae-assistant Hasin stitched up my face for all the frigging good it'd do.

    There were five medicaes, hired by Taryst excluding Feuilt; the four others were now busy attending to no one of consequence. While Garrakson and everyone else stood to watch, everyone but Karmen, who had said, "I need to retrieve something of the utmost importance," then left alone.

    "I am sorry to say," said Halsin as he carefully added another stitch. "Your face will be permanently scarred, no matter how many stitches I do. You would have been scarred permanently, even without the trauma you suffered to open it and make it worse. Can I ask, how did it happen?"

    My jaw twitched. "My cheek was cut by a monomolecular enhanced blade," I informed with forced neutrality. "Then I was punched in the face, a hell of a lot."

    Halsin nodded; he was tall and thin and couldn't have been much older than I was, with a gaunt, sallow face and large bulging, thyroid eyes that looked even larger from behind his thick glasses. I hadn't met him before, as Feuilt was the only medicae I had contact with until now.

    "And I am assuming that is all the information you are going to give?" he asked.

    "Yes," I said, Halsin had given me some chewy tablets to help with my sick stomach, but it either hadn't kicked in yet or wasn't working at all, as another strong wave of nausea hit me.

    "And then I am going to assume, again. That you won't tell me what happened to head medicae Feuilt, after you, him and major Olinthre left suddenly around six hours ago?"

    "Yes," I repeated.

    Halsin sighed. "I had thought as much; I should be used to it by now; everything is a secret around here."

    I furrowed my brow; I would've thought of something deadpanned and ironic too...Think of Halsin stating the obvious, but I felt him just saying it was enough.

    "Well," he said on. "Well, even if you're scarred, you can still wear a layer of false flesh over the scar."

    I shrugged slightly, being careful not to disturb Halsin's work with the movement, in all honesty. I didn't mind the scar until now. I had been able to avoid being heavily scarred during my career, even after going through some particularly heavy engagements.

    Then the door slid open, and in walked Karmen Kons; her long blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail, she was grinning from ear to ear and now wore battered black flak armour with white trim and was carrying behind her back a long, blue ornate box.

    I immediately recognised the armour; it was the uniform of the Velrosian branch of the Elbyran Planetary defence force she once served in as a sergeant. It was the same armour Estella Erith had worn the first time I'd met her, a lifetime ago now.

    She nodded to me and quickly approached the gurney.

    "Almost done, Halsin?" She asked.

    Halsin paused in his work, glanced at her and blushed distinctly, "j-just finishing now, mamzel."

    Karmen smiled, placed her hands on her hips and nodded. "Thank you. I wish to talk to Attelus in private, please."

    "O-of course, mamzel!" he cried as he after quickly finishing the stitches and placing on a new bandage. "It seems that none of your ribs were broken, Mr Kaltos, although I can tell by the density of your bruising that the impacts of those punches should have broken at least a few of your bones. I really do not know what that psyker did to you, Mr Kaltos, but it did not just re-nit your bones; it also somehow made them stronger."

    Before I could make a reply, Halsin hurriedly turned, nodded to Karmen and walked out.

    My eyes widened, not sure quite what to make of Halsin's words. My bone structure was enhanced? But how? Why? Just as I thought this couldn't get any stranger, it just did.

    Karmen pouted, still looking at the door, then turned back to me.

    "He is an interesting one, that, Halsin," she said absent-minded, then suddenly shoved the blue box right in front of my face.

    "For you," she stated.

    I hesitantly took the box with a nervous grin and looked over it; it was made from high-quality wood and was ornate but not overly.

    "Aren't you going to open it?" She asked.

    I did, quickly unclasping the metal clips and opened it, inside I found to my minimal surprise, a sword, a sheathed longsword, in a simple scabbard, with a basic but practical handle and guard.

    I looked up at her, wide-eyed, "I uh..."

    "Unsheathe it," she said encouragingly. "And don't worry, Attelus, it's yours ."

    Nodding, I slowly took the sword out of the box and immediately, I could tell it was lightweight and balanced even before drawing it, which in the blink of an eye, I did.

    It was a sword of masterful make; I could tell that at a glance. It was also of Velrosian design. The blacksmiths of Velrosia had always adhered to simplicity in design, but the quality of make and this one was of the highest quality even to Velrosian standards.

    It was also old, very, very old, yet exceptionally well maintained.

    But that wasn't what got me; what made me blink was that it was also a powersword.

    "It was my family's," informed Karmen, knocking me out of my reverie. "It had been handed down the Erith line for generations, even since the time of King Royd Antares."

    I looked at her, taken aback. "This, this is over a thousand years old?"

    She nodded. "That it is, Attelus, or that is what my grandfather and father said, anyway."

    "I-I," I managed. "I can't take this; this is yours! This is your family's!"

    Karmen smiled and shook her head. "No, Attelus, it's yours. I am the last alive of the Erith line, and I gave up a long time ago on practising Valisuth. It deserves someone with skill enough to wield it, and I believe you to be more than qualified."

    "H-how did you-?"

    She shrugged. "I had Taryst retrieve it for me; it somehow managed to survive the bombardment that destroyed my city and killed my brother and was kept until a few months ago in a museum in Varander, so Taryst pulled some strings and got it for me, somehow."

    "I don't know what to say. Thank you...Estella."

    Karmen grinned and raised an eyebrow. "Oh, I am sure you will get ample opportunity to use it soon, Attelus."

    I nodded sadly and sheathed the beautiful sword. "I just hope, I just hope that pict I took, that it isn't as bad as the Throne agent said it was."

    Karmen's face darkened. "I'm sorry, Attelus, but I have very little doubt, it is. You will just have to make up for it by helping stop it. That is what life is about, dealing with the consequences of our actions, whether they be good or bad."

    I nodded again, got off the gurney and began to slip my body glove back on.

    "You're right, Estella," I said, "and with this powersword, I will, even if it costs me my life."

    This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 06:12:01

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    Me, Karmen, the Olinthre-thing, Garrakson and Torris quickly got out of the old Hersuitor 89, and I slammed the door shut as I stepped out onto the beaten, badly maintained under hive street. Around the buildings had fallen so far into disrepair they disturbingly reminded me of the war-torn ruins of Velrosia, rusted and ramshackle. I couldn't help wonder how many poor lost souls scrapped a living in this hell hole.

    The other two escort limousines came to a halt aside us, and the twenty total Stormtroopers got out and fanned out to secure the perimeter doing this despite the many, many Magistratum troops around already.

    I sniffed and spat onto the rockcrete as the stench of the under hive assailed my senses, watching as on the other side of the limo, Garrakson and Torris pulled the handcuffed No One of Consequence from the Hersuitor, doing it a little more roughly than I would've appreciated.

    I turned away and eyed the surrounding Magistratum troopers, who looked back at us with a mixture of apprehension and curiosity. I did this while nonchalantly popping out a stick of Lho from its ceramic case, placing it into my mouth and lighting it, then I slipped my hands into the pockets of my Flak Jacket.

    Karmen came up to me. "You know those things will kill you one day," she pointed out.

    I shrugged and exhaled smoke pointedly. "There are plenty of things that will kill me a hell of a lot quicker right now. So I'm not too worried right now, in all honesty."

    Torris and Garrakson came around the back of the Limo with the Throne Agent, whose face was a little less beaten and brutalised than earlier. His broken teeth replaced by a pair of high-quality false ones; the medicaes had done an excellent job even in such a short time; I couldn't help but be impressed.

    No One of Consequence got enough time to briefly glare at us with undisguised hatred just before Torris and Garrakson handed him over to two Stormtroopers.

    "Ah! So you finally decide to show up!" came a deep, mocking voice, and we turned to its source. "I was beginning to believe you'd called us so that you could have my men and I dawdling uselessly in the underhive."

    Approaching us was a big man in his mid-thirties flanked by two Magistratum troopers. He wore the blue uniform of a high ranking Magistratum officer; he was pale like many hive worlders and was handsome, his short pitch-black hair slicked back, and he grew the beginnings of a beard. He eyed Karmen from head to toe with a hungry look and smiled, a broad, confident smile that was more disturbing than friendly.

    I could tell at a glance he was a snake, someone even less trustworthy than Taryst was.

    "Yes," said Karmen stepping forward, "and you're Arlathan Karkin, I assume?"

    Still smiling, he held out his hand. "Correct, and you're the liaison Taryst mentioned, I assume?"

    "Yes again," answered Karmen taking the proffered hand, shaking it hesitantly. "Is everything all in order?"

    Karkin grinned wolfishly, turned and began to walk on, beckoning us to follow.

    "Of course," he said as Karmen fell into step with him, while Torris, the Olinthre-thing, Garrakson and me shadowed behind. The many Magistratum troopers and officers filling about gave us a lot of room. "We've got the building surrounded, and the auspex confirms there's at least thirty to forty people inside; there's no way in or out for the friggers."

    Karmen shook her head. "Remember, Arlathan; these aren't just any normal gangers; these are highly trained throne agents; we cannot take any chances."

    Karkin sighed. "We haven't, mamzel; why do you think I'm so confident about it?"

    Karmen stopped in her tracks, which caused him and the rest of us to follow suit. "Because, I can tell at one glance that you are the type who is extremely overconfident, Arlathan Karkin, even at the worst of circumstances."

    He grinned even wider, shrugged again and said, "with respect, mamzel, overconfidence is only overconfidence if it isn't justified."

    Karmen grimaced with extreme disdain. "Of course it is," she said, deadpanned, then they moved on.

    "Well," said Karkin. "I have six hundred men ready and waiting to storm the building to capture Brutis Bones. At your word, of course."

    Karmen stopped again and looked at Karkin with wide-eyed surprise, her expression mimicking my own. "Six hundred?"

    Karkin nodded and grinned enthusiastically. "See, I told you my confidence was justified."

    "And where are the Arbites?" demanded Karmen, annoyed.

    "They decided not to come," said Karkin with an animated shrug. "They gave us the schematics of the building from their cogitator banks, but they didn't want to have first-hand involvement; that's what my boss said, anyway."

    Karmen let out a little growl of frustration then walked on.

    While this went on, I looked over my shoulder at Garrakson, who walked just behind me; he immediately turned away, then over my other shoulder and gave Torris a great big grin.

    Torris only replied with a nod and the slightest of smiles.

    I couldn't help but wonder; why were they both so angry at me? What did they know, exactly?

    I sighed out smoke; we'd been through hell and back over the past six months. I'd have thought us going through all that together would've been enough for them to get over it and still be my allies.

    "Well, your men don't need to worry about storming the building, Arlathan Karkin," said Karmen, knocking me from my reverie.

    Now it was Karkin's turn to stop in his tracks. "And what does that mean?"

    "Things have changed," informed Karmen. "We no longer want to capture Brutis Bones; we wish to negotiate with him."

    Karkin's eyes widened. "And what exactly happened to cause this change of mind?"

    Karmen smiled and sniggered, shaking her head. "You really don't need to know that, Arlathan Karkin," then she went to move on.

    "No! I think we do!" said Karkin causing her to halt abruptly. "After everything we've done for you over the past half a year. I think you owe us as much."

    Karmen suddenly wheeled on Karkin, her index finger right in his face, her expression a mask of anger. "No, I really don't believe we do! In fact, I would say if anyone owes anyone anything, it's you who owes us! Arlathan, how much does a senior Magistratum detective such as yourself earn a year?"


    "That is a rhetorical question, Arlathan!" She snapped. "I already know the answer; ever since you came under our payroll, your pay has not doubled, not tripled! But quadrupled! And you know what we're paying you for! So you can sit around on your arse and do nothing while we do all your work for you!"

    "Well, what about that crap that happened at the Twilight bar!" Karkin snapped. "Do you know what we went through to cover that mess up!"

    Karmen laughed contemptuously. "I'd hardly say that you earned even a tenth of what we pay you from that incident alone, face it! Detective! You have no ground to stand on! You can't demand anything! Sorry!"

    With that, she turned and continued onward with Garrakson, 'Olinthre' and Torris wordlessly following after her, leaving Karkin alone watching them walk through the crowd of Magistratum troopers and detectives, still with that cold smile.

    As I exhaled smoke, I moved to catch up, and Karkin fell in step with me.

    "Hey, kid," he said conversationally.

    I didn't respond; only the corner of my mouth twitched; I really didn't want to have anything at all to do with this slimeball.

    "Can I have a smoke?" He asked.

    My jaw twitched, and my muscles taut. But despite loathing it with my very being, I still hesitantly reached into my jacket pocket, pulled out the ceramic case and offered the detective one.

    Karkin took the Lho, put it in his mouth, lit it with his igniter and after taking a long drag, asked, "Who's she?"

    I frowned and answered, "She's Karmen Kons, she's Taryst's...secretary."

    Karkin exhaled the smoke, seemingly hardly hearing what I'd said and grinned a perverted grin from ear to ear.

    "I...like...her," he said.

    Karkin led us to his command centre, which was a large, boxy, dark blue truck parked in an alleyway about a block from where we'd parked. Karkin slid open the back door and beckoned us in.

    It was only Karmen, the Olinthre-thing, Torris, Garrakson and me who climbed in with Karkin while the twenty Stormtroopers stayed outside.

    "So!" said Arlathan as he slapped the sides of his thighs and turned back to us. "What's the plan?"

    The inside of the truck was surprisingly small. Stark and spartan only around three metres wide and five long, with metal seats lining the walls, and there was a large cogitator unit on at the end.

    Karmen shrugged. "I do assume they know of your presence?"

    "Of course they do!" Karkin exclaimed. "It's sorta, kinda hard to miss six hundred magistratum enforcers moving through the underhive; the only reason why they didn't already escape was that we came from every direction."
    I frowned, took another smoke of my Lho, then folded my arms and leaned against the wall.

    "Well," I said. "That's assuming they're still in there. In the Twilight bar, they had a secret, tunnel out; I'd think it'd be safe to assume that they've one in this too."

    Karmen looked at me, her brow furrowing heavily. "Didn't you investigate the place earlier? Did you find one?"

    I turned to Torris and Garrakson, who just looked back under hooded brows. The only reason why I'd remembered that we'd investigated the place was that we'd lost three of our number there—fighting the Hammers guarding it. It'd been so long I'd ashamedly forgotten the names of those dead men, but I'd somehow remembered the place's coordinates. I've always been pretty bad with numbers and figures, so I found it strange indeed.

    "Not from what I can recall," I said after getting no response from either of them; they knew it was 20036 by 33299 and knew we'd been there before, as the Olinthre-thing had given them a quick briefing on the drive over here.

    Karmen shrugged. "If the place is just a backup, maybe it's not as well prepped as the twilight bar was."

    "Perhaps," I said.

    Karkin's smile lessened a little. "The auspex said-"

    "I'd suggest," I interrupted. "Not to trust so much in your auspex. There are many, many ways to fool them."

    Karkin grinned widely. "It's never failed us before."

    "I do not know if you have tracked throne agents before," said Karmen. "But you must know, they have access to the best technology the Imperium can provide; that's why I've taken certain liberties..."

    Karkin grimaced. "Such as?"

    "We've got agents of our own scouting the place," said Karmen.

    And those agents were Tresch, Castella and Darrance, who'd left straight after we'd arrived at Taryst's building. The Medicaes had taken four hours to help No One of Consequence, and we'd taken an hour to drive down here, so I could only assume they'd been here for a while yet, although we had yet to hear back from them.

    Karkin's eyes widened. "My men never reported any breaches in the cordon."

    Karmen grinned. "Shows just how secure it really is."

    The Magistratum detective's face turned ugly.

    "With all due respect," said the Olinthre-thing, stepping up, ever the diplomat. "They are agents of the highest calibre; if they got through your cordon, it's not the fault of your men."

    "And you are more invested in keeping people, in, detective, rather than out," said Torris.

    Arlathan grinned, but his eyes glazed with barely contained rage.

    "Of course we are," he said slowly. "So, what's the plan?"

    "We're still waiting for the scouts to report," said Karmen. "But, after they do, I plan on sending in three people, openly, along with our captive. One representative for each faction involved. One for Taryst, one for..." She paused to glance at me. "One for you, and one for the Magistratum."

    "And what does 'openly' mean, exactly?" asked Karkin.

    "Oh, you know, the usual; unarmed, hands raised, so on so forth."

    I clenched my teeth, and my eyes widened with apprehension; this was the first time I'd heard Karmen's 'plan' as well and couldn't help but guess that I was going to be one of the three sent in; 'unarmed, with hands raised, so on and so forth.'

    Arlathan Karkin facepalmed, sighed and sat slowly down on the chair at the cogitator. "Great, just great, and I am the 'Magistratum representative,' I assume?"

    "You are the highest-ranked here," stated Karmen.

    "Yeah, yeah, I know," he groaned. "I just have a little trouble with approaching a building full of twitchy, wired Hammers without any weapons, is all."

    "If it's any consolation, I'll be coming with you," said Karmen.

    Arlathan Karkin laughed. "You'd bloody well better! If you didn't, I'd be rather pissed off about it!"

    Karmen smiled, about to reply when she stopped and reached to her ear.

    "Excuse me, this is them now," she said and turned to walk away.

    Garrakson and Torris eyed her as she walked past them; Garrakson's gaze overflowed with barely contained contempt.

    "Well, she truly thinks she's in charge now, don't she?" said Garrakson with a grimace.

    Torris shrugged. "Although I wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her. I've gotta admit she isn't doing too bad a job so far; at least she's prepared to go and risk herself with the rest of us. Unlike someone we know."

    Garrakson sneered and turned to the Olinthre-thing. "So, boss. What do you make of this, woman?"

    "I just pass on orders, Jeurat," It said blandly; its attention was still on Karmen as it unashamedly tried to overhear her words. "Making the big decisions in secret wars like this isn't something I'm good at, so I'm happy to let her take the reigns, sergeant."

    I couldn't help smile at the Mimic's response, such a lie, such an ironic lie, that was told so straight-faced, so boldly and so convincingly, I couldn't help but admire the Thing's skill all over again.

    "And what about you, kid?" asked Garrakson suddenly, which made me involuntarily jump in fright.

    Before I could contend a response, Torris grinned and leaned near Garrakson. "We all know there's no point in asking him about her, Jeu. We all know with what he's thinking with, and it isn't his brain."

    I felt my face flush, and they bellowed out laughter, the sound almost deafening in the confined compartment, and even the Mimic joined in heartily.

    "Will you all shut just the hell up!" roared Karmen over her shoulder. "I'm trying to frigging talk here!"

    They did as told immediately, and another chuckle caused us all to turn to Karkin.

    "Well, I'd say she truly is in charge now, ain't she?" he echoed mockingly.

    Garrakson grimaced about to reply when Karmen approached.

    "Alright! It's confirmed; there are Hammers in the building," she stated. "The hammers are on high alert and are well fortified, although they couldn't get a good visual on how many there are, their auspex also confirms forty to fifty lifeforms."

    That made Karkin grin, place his palms behind his head and lean back on his chair. "See? What'd I tell ya?"

    I briefly looked at him with complete contempt before turning back to Karmen. Choosing not to point out that if his auspex had been interfered with, so could've Hayden's.

    Karmen treated Karkin with a withering glare before continuing, "they are in a good position on the north side of the building, ready to breach and back us up if anything goes wrong."

    "Speaking of which..." said Karkin as he sat back up, swivelled in his chair to face his cogitator and brought up on the screen for us the schematic of a large building that I guessed to be Brutis Bones' complex. "Here you go, but if we're only going in to 'negotiate', you really shouldn't need them."

    I shrugged as I leaned forward to look closer. "Even so, it doesn't hurt to know. Just in case."

    "It's as they say; 'Knowledge is power'," added Karmen.

    For some reason, both Torris and Garrakson behind us let out derivative snorts, and I swear I heard Torris mutter, "see? they're frigging perfect for each other." Or something along those lines.

    I furrowed my brow, turned back to the schematic and quickly began to memorise it.

    We stood, studied, and discussed the schematic for another good fifteen minutes; the place was of simple design, a complete contrast to the twilight bar. Just a large, two-story manufactorum/warehouse with areas partitioned for the supervisors and eatery offices. It was exactly as I remembered, but what changes Brutis Bones and his hammers had wrought since their arrival, I couldn't say.

    All the while, Arlathan sat at his chair, tapping his fingers against the cogitator case impatiently, which made me clench my jaw.

    Once we'd done, Arlathan got up from his chair and asked, "So, what now?"

    Karmen pouted and shrugged. "Well, we go through with the plan. Now we know the schematics, it's as they say: 'Knowing is half the battle.'"

    "Am I the only one who has really a bad feeling about this?" said Torris, which caused my attention to snap at him suddenly. It made me recall Glaitis' earlier words; 'It is pretty obvious, child, and explains why he let you live; this, quite simply, is a trap.'

    A shiver clutched my spine: I couldn't help but believe her; this was way too easy. But what would this trap be exactly? And should I tell my allies that it was? Glaitis had said that she wanted us to fall for it, so maybe she wouldn't want me to.

    Arlathan shook his head contemptuously. "Oh, no. Oh, frigging hell no, your not. How do you think I feel? I've gotta face down those hammers, unarmed. Of frigging course, I have a bad feeling about this."

    Torris sat on the steel seat and shook his head. "No, not just about that, but, everything, something's wrong about this, all of this, I can feel it."

    Arlathan sniffed, and his seemingly eternal smile somehow disappeared into an expression of genuine worry. "Yeah, maybe you're right. Hey, you aren't from law enforcement?"

    Torris nodded a slow, deliberate movement. "Yeah, I was in the Adeptus Arbites, fifteen years, back on Malfi."

    Arlathan let out a long whistle. "Thought so. Why'd you quit?"

    "Alright, I think that's enough, prattle," said Karmen. "We've wasted enough time already; let's get on with this, shall we?"

    Arlathan sighed heavily. "Yeah, yeah."

    He pushed through us with a sour expression and slid open the back door. "Alright! Everyone out!" He exclaimed.

    We did; as Arlathan held the door for us, we filed out into the thin alleyway outside.

    Karmen and I were the last ones out, but as we stepped onto the beaten, broken alley, Karmen suddenly grabbed me by the arm and pulled me aside. Her hooded blue eyes were intense with concern.

    "Are you okay?" she asked, once checking we were out of earshot from everyone else as they stood waiting for us. "Because you have seemed to have taken No One of Consequences words extraordinarily well."

    A lump immediately appeared in my throat, tears welled in my eyes, and with my shaking hands, I reached down into my pocket to get out more Lhos. It'd been years since my hands shook like this, not since the war. During that time, I'd developed a habit of hiding the shaking by slipping my hands into their pockets. I'd been fighting against the shaking ever since the throne agent had given us his revelation, but now I felt I really didn't need to hide it; I knew Estella would understand.

    "No," I told her bluntly as I clumsily lit my Lho. "No, I'm not alright. Estella. Why do you think I'm smoking so much? We both know Edracian's agenda, and if my actions are going to aid that agenda as much as that man said it would, well then...I don't know. I'm really frigging close to breaking point here, Estella, but..."

    I sniffed and exhaled smoke, blinking back the tears.


    "But, as much as I'd like to break down and really, who could frigging blame me? Now would be the worst time, as you said; I need to deal with the consequences of my actions, and if I allow myself to break down, well, then I wouldn't be able to deal with them, would I?"

    Estella smiled, then suddenly leaned forward and kissed me.

    "W-what was that for?" I asked with wide-eyed surprise and blushing like hell.

    "It seems you are finally becoming a man, Attelus," she said. "It has taken you a while, though."

    "Gee, thanks."

    "No problem!" She said, obviously ignoring my sarcasm as she turned and began to walk away. "Enough dilly dally, let's get this show on the road."

    The four of us slowly approached the old manufactorum; we walked right down the middle of the street, making sure to keep out in plain sight with our hands raised the entire time. I was a little annoyed; for this negotiation, I'd given over all my weapons; my autopistol, throwing knives, power sword, even my frigging boot knife. Luckily they had another pair of shoes, so I didn't have to walk around with one shoe on. But that wasn't what annoyed me; what did was that I'd just got this new, sweet, high quality, power sword, and just as I frigging get it, straight away, it gets taken away from me. Someone should make a law about this kind of thing.

    We effectively used No One of Consequence as a human shield; he walked a metre or so in front of us, so the first person the Hammers saw would be him. Arlathan was right behind him, using the Throne agent as a literal 'human shield.' The Magistratum detective's hand clenched tightly on the Throne Agent's shoulder to prevent the Throne Agent from trying to drop to the ground, allowing the hammers a clear shot at us, so it wasn't all because of Karkin's cowardice.

    My nervousness was almost overwhelming, and I had to fight against the constant urge to put my hands in my pockets. The walk must've taken two or three minutes, but it felt like a frigging lifetime; every single second, I expected them to open fire, to cut us all down in a withering hail of shots.

    I glanced at Karmen as she walked alongside me; she was as calm as calm could be, her brow furrowed in set determination.

    I frowned deeply, not at all comforted by her confidence, then a thought struck me, like a fist to the face.

    "Karmen!" I hissed through clenched teeth. "Karmen!"

    But she seemed to ignore me completely.

    "Karmen! Karmen!"

    "What?" she snapped suddenly, her attention-catching to me.

    "C-can I ask a quick question?"

    "Well, you did just then, but sure. Fire away."

    I swallowed. "W-when I met with Taryst that night. He asked me to spy on Glaitis for him, but if you could read my mind so easily, he really didn't need to, so why? Why did he ask me to spy on Glaitis for him?"

    She smiled and shrugged. "Good question, Attelus; maybe he saw potential in you or something."

    I grinned widely. "Or perhaps he did it because you asked him to, didn't you?"

    Karmen sighed. "Alright, alright, no point in denying it, I guess."

    "Well, thanks," I said. "I appreciate it, and I can't help wonder if anything would've gone differently if I'd accepted the offer."

    She pouted and shrugged again. "Another good question; they say it's our choices that shape us. It could have."

    I grimaced, truly doubting it would've made any difference at all. Perhaps I wouldn't have hurt Vex, but Glaitis' plan would've gone through no matter what.

    "But, Attelus," she said. "I may have asked him to do it, but he only did it because he did see potential in you, believe it or not."

    Immediately, I believed her and couldn't help but beam at the compliment, but also, I couldn't help wonder; I had the potential for what exactly? Potential to become yet another sycophant toady in Taryst's organisation, maybe? I frigging hoped not.

    I let out a slight sigh at my cynicism and suddenly really wanted a smoke of Lho.

    But they'd even taken them off me too. Bastards.

    We walked the rest of the way in silence; during that time, I'd expected someone would exit to greet us or something, but even when we came close, the door stayed firmly shut.

    "Uhh," said Arlathan as he scratched the back of his head. "So, what's the plan now, princess?"

    Karmen just rolled her eyes and turned to the Throne Agent. "They haven't run they?"

    He shrugged. "I don't know, maybe."

    Karmen clenched her at No One of Consequence's incompetence, then turned and smashed the palm of her hand repeatedly against the door, much to all our bemusement.

    "Let us the frig in!" She roared at the top of her lungs. "We need to talk!"

    She did this for a good six seconds before finally giving up, clutching at her red, hurt hand.

    "That's the plan?" said Arlathan. "How...Inventive."

    "Shut up!" she snarled. "Why don't you, you know, actually try to contribute instead of just standing around snarking and being generally useless."

    "Hey, sister-"

    Arlathan was cut off mid-sentence as the door suddenly opened, and just inside stood two huge hammers with autoguns held in our faces.

    "Shut it!" yelled one. "Stop ya friggin' yellin' and poundin' before we make you stop!"

    "Please," said Karmen. "We need to talk to your boss."

    The Hammers ignored her, turning their attention to No One of Consequence.

    "You okay, Jeksen?" said the other Hammer.

    "Seen better days," answered 'Jeksen.'

    The Hammer smiled.

    "I said-!" started Karmen.

    "We heard you!" The Hammer interrupted. "We're not deaf! And you're friggin' lucky the boss wants to talk to you too. Or we would've just shot you on sight, even with Jeksen with you. No offence, Jeksen."

    "None taken."

    "Get in!" said the other Hammer, beckoning us inside with his autogun. "And no frigging funny business!"

    We walked into what would've once been the building's reception area with our hands raised over our heads and found over two dozen more hammers with a large assortment of different guns aimed squarely at us.

    They certainly weren't taking any chances.

    "Keep a good eye on the short one," said one of the Hammers that'd let us inside, indicating me with a thumb. "That was the one that attacked the Twilight bar."

    "I see my reputation precedes me," I whispered to Karmen.

    "Yes, well, don't let it go to your head, Attelus," she hissed back.

    "Check them!" yelled another Hammer, and immediately a few Hammers moved forward and patted us down, even Jeksen included.

    "Clear!" all of them yelled, one after the other.

    "Well, well," said one Hammer as he emerged through the others; he was taller and older than the rest and seemed to ooze leadership he was perhaps well into his fifties which could've meant two things in the underhive, he was smart and skilled as only the very best lived that long, or the luckiest. "Comin' into the lion's den unarmed, you must be desperate."

    He grinned and folded his thick tattooed arms across his barrel chest. "Or just stupid."

    "We would have been more stupid if we had taken in weapons," pointed out Karmen.

    He shrugged and pursed his dry lips. "Good point. So, what brings a pretty little boy, a fancy, senior magistratum detective and a babe like you to our oh so humble abode?"

    Karmen clenched her teeth. "We wish to talk."

    "But to talk what, exactly?" said the gang leader. "What could've brought our enemy so low that they wish to talk instead of shoot?"

    "I can't tell you now," said Karmen. "We need to speak with Brutis Bones."

    The huge Hammer rounded on us, his brow knotted in utter rage. "Not until you tell me what I want to know!" he roared.

    "Calm down, Tevith," tried Jeksen.

    "Oh, frigging shut it, Wesley!" roared Tevith. "We all know the reason they found us was because you squealed! As far as I'm concerned, you're a frigging traitor whose words don't mean crap here! You know how many good men have died because of these idiots! To frigging many! But still, here you are! Now frigging working with 'em!"

    "And I'm sorry to say many more will die if we don't listen to what they have to say!" yelled back Wesley Jeksen.

    Tevith pulled out a massive handcannon and aimed it right at Jeksen's head, his expression now a deadly calm.

    "I told you to shut it, Wesley and I frigging meant it," said Tevith, deadpanned, "and I don't care if you're a Throne Agent. You're still a frigging traitor. And you know what traitors get."

    The shot rang deafeningly through the room, causing everyone to flinch in pain and fright, and a horrid scream of complete agony immediately followed.

    But Jeksen, who stood right beside me, was unharmed. It was Tevith who screamed as he clutched at his bloody, destroyed hand.

    Another figure emerged from the mass of Hammers, holding a raised, smoking stub revolver, and I immediately knew this was the Brutis Bones character we'd been looking for.

    The blue power armour he wore made him dwarf most of the Hammers in the room, and over his shoulders lay a fur cloak of beautiful make. Sheathed at his hip was an ornate sword, and slung over his shoulder was a bolt gun with an under-slung grenade launcher attached. He didn't wear a helmet, so we could see his short red hair and his pale, freckled face, which seemed permanently set into an expression as hard as hell.

    Brutis Bones was truly an Inquisitor through and through.

    "Get him to medicae Aheth," Brutis Bones ordered casually as he holstered his stubb revolver, and two Hammers immediately moved to carry the whimpering Tevith away.

    Brutis shook his head and approached us. "Please forgive Tevith; he's rightfully pissed off about all the crap you've done."

    "Th-thank you for saving us," stammered Karmen.

    Brutis smiled slightly and shook his head again. "No need to thank me. If he were going to shoot any of you other three, I wouldn't have stopped him. You okay, Wesley?"

    "Y-yeah, boss, but I've been better."

    "I'm sure you have, and I'm sure there's a fething good reason why you've brought them here? Right?"

    "Of course, boss, but," he glanced around the room. "But, I think we'll need to talk about all this in private."

    Brutis nodded, turned on his heels and waved us on. "Alright then, follow me."

    Immediately Hammers approached us and grabbed us roughly, shoving us after Brutis Bones as he led us further into the complex.

    Brutis took us up to a small, separate office on the second floor. Along the way, I took the opportunity to look around. I found that the entire place had been fortified; the plastcrete walls were reinforced further with thick bits of flak board. Many of the windows were completely boarded up, and the ones who weren't all had a Hammer standing watch.

    But what got me was on the shop floor all the workbenches had been moved, taken away to Emperor only knew where. Instead, there were sleeping cots, dozens of them and sleeping, sitting or walking around them were women and children, people who I could only guess to be relations to the many Hammers under Brutis Bones' employee. Both Arlathan's and Tresch's auspex had said only forty lifeforms; well, that was certainly proven wrong now.

    As we walked through, everyone had eyed us with big bug eyes and expressions of undisguised curiosity. I'd looked back, finding myself suddenly almost overwhelmed with horrified apprehension.

    I had no idea they'd be here; I'd never given even the slightest thought of where the Hammers had kept their wives, their children. It was a trap, this I knew without doubt and them being here, them being here, it complicated the situation vastly, and as we walked through, I found it very hard to breathe.

    Karmen looked over her shoulder at me, asking, "you alright, Attelus?"

    I had managed only a nod in response.

    Brutis held the door for us as we filed in; it was a simple, spartan room with only a large cogitator bank in the back wall, a cot in the corner and a large desk in the centre of the room with an office chair behind it. Although Brutis didn't sit, he just kept standing at the doorway, his face unreadable and folded his arms over his chest.

    "So, we're alone, speak," he said bluntly.

    "This is a trap," I said immediately.

    Brutis looked at me, turning like he was targeting me. "What?"

    "This is a frigging trap," I said through clenched teeth. "Inquisitor Edracian is planetside; he's engineered all of this so we'd all be together so that he can kill us altogether."

    "But aren't you his allies?" asked Brutis, with an almost mocking raised eyebrow.

    "Not anymore," said Karmen as she stepped beside me and gave me an uncertain look. "After we found out from Interrogator Heartsa the information you had, Taryst decided to cut all ties to him."

    Brutis' eyes narrowed. "So why did you still want to capture me?"

    "Because Taryst wanted to have all ties to Edracian silenced, and this included you and the information you hold," answered Karmen. "But that's all changed now, now that Taryst is dead."

    Arlathan, who'd been leaning on the wall, eyes widened and rocked forward in disbelief as Brutis' pursed his lips.

    "Dead?" How?" asked Brutis.

    "Murdered, though an internal conspiracy," said Karmen.

    Brutis shrugged his massive shoulders and moved to his desk; sliding open one of the draws, he took out an expensive liqueur bottle and a few crystal glasses, doing so with the remarkable skill for one with armoured power fingers.

    "Damn shame," he said as he poured himself a glass. "I was hoping I'd get to throw that bastard out the window of his grotto myself. Amasec anyone?"

    Everyone declined except Jeksen.

    "Yeah, boss, that'd be appreciated."

    Brutis smiled slightly, poured another glass and handed it to the other throne agent, who swigged it back with great enthusiasm.

    "Well," said Brutis sipping at his Amasec. "Is Edracian on Omnartus, now, huh? Well, that's what we've been waiting for, for all this time, isn't that right, Wesley?"

    Jeksen nodded confirmation, and both Karmen and I exchanged confused glances.

    "What do you mean?" asked Karmen.

    Brutis shrugged again. "That's why we've been fighting this was with you; we figured if we fought it for long enough, Edracian would get tired of Taryst's failure so would come and finish the job himself, then we'd be able to take care of both of them."

    Brutis took another sip of his sacra and said with a grimace of distinct disgust, "fething Isstivanian bastards. So, how do you know Edracian's planetside?"

    "Because he attacked me," I said. "He and a group of axe-wielding, suit-wearing idiot Hammers ambushed me, captured me."

    Brutis took another sip of his sacra. "So, how did you know it was Edracian?"

    I frowned and shrugged. "Well, I don't know, actually. He wore power armour, had an Inquisitorial rosette and said he was, so I kind of believed him, and he talked psychically, telepathy, in my mind."

    I tapped my temple with my index finger as I said 'telepathy', and also as I said it, I couldn't help but notice the extremely bemused looks from everyone but Arlathan.

    "What?" I asked, furrowing my brow.

    "Attelus, you never mentioned that he spoke to you via telepathy before," said Karmen.

    I raised an eyebrow. "What? I didn't? Sorry, I must've forgotten, but what's the big deal? Aren't a lot of Inquisitors psychic? That's what Glaitis told me anyway."

    His expression grim, Brutis shook his head. "Yes, but it's a well-known fact that Edracian is just as blunt as you and I."

    My jaw dropped and began to twitch as a sudden horrific shiver slid up my spine.

    The fear almost overwhelmed me, then the room temperature dropped dramatically, and ice began to form on the walls, growing up the flak board like vines; then I heard the gunfire and the screams.

    "Look's like you were right," said Brutis to me as he readied his bolter. "This is a trap."

    A second after he said that, then came a substantial deafening crash! From outside followed a hideous, blood-stinging scream followed by another and another, each ending abruptly.

    Shivering in the sudden cold, my heart thundered in my chest, and my shallow breaths steamed into the air.

    Karmen turned to me with a wide-eyed, fearful gaze, and I looked back. Our attentions locked for a few seconds, and each time there was another scream, we'd flinch in fear together.

    We were only taken out of our trance when we heard Brutis demanding answers into his vox link.

    "Verenth! Uslith! Answer me, damn it!"

    "W-what the hell's going on out there?" stammered Karkin at Brutis.

    Brutis didn't answer; he just shook his head and paced the room.

    "What's going on," demanded Karkin.

    "That's exactly what I'm trying to find out," growled Brutis, then he turned to Karmen. "Vox is dead."

    It reminded me quickly of my vox link going dead just before Edracian's mooks ambushed me.

    "So, what now?" she asked.

    "We go out there," answered Brutis directly as he drew his Stubb revolver and tossed it to Wesley Jeksen, who caught it neatly.

    "What?" yelled Karkin. "Going out there? Are you frigging crazy?"

    Brutis treated Karkin with a withering glare, and I could tell from a mile away that the Inquisitor held nothing but contempt for the Magistratum detective.

    "Yeah," said Brutis. "Me and Wesley, anyway. I'm not forcing you to come, but I remind you, both him and me are the only ones armed here. So when we go, you've got no protection and nowhere to run."

    Brutis shrugged. "On second thought; maybe it'd be better if you stay here, you will probably just get in the way."

    Arlathan Karkin grimaced and shook his head. "I don't like this."

    As this went on, I stood in the corner in silence with wide eyes, wondering how everyone could ignore the screams that constantly pierced the walls, the screams that stung my ears, that made my shoulders shake, that caused my heart to leap painfully in my chest. These screams made my lip quiver and hyperventilate in fear.

    Brutis glared at me, his brow furrowing.

    "Someone gets him to calm the feth down!" he bellowed.

    It was then I felt a warm, soft hand wrap around mine, and I turned to find it was Estella Erith, who smiled at me reassuringly.

    But I was hardly reassured as I saw the gigantic blood vessels bulged from her face and forehead. Her blank blue gaze and her teeth were hideous, sharpened incisors.

    The fear finally overtook me, and I screamed, tearing my hand free and retreated further into the corner.

    As I ran, the room around seemed to devolve into a blur of black and white nothingness. However, Karmen, Brutis, Arlathan and Wesley were still visible as they approached me with wild blank eyes, sharpened smiles and fingers that curled into black elongated talons, reaching out to tear me to shreds.

    My heart was hammering so hard and painfully now, it felt like it was about to burst, and blood thundered through my ears. Then there were the screams, the screams! They were no longer intermittent but completely consistent, just a vast cacophony of hundreds of voices crying out in utter agony and terror. Arlathan, Karmen, Brutis and Wesley were still coming closer and closer and as their claws came right in front of my face.

    I closed my eyes.

    Immediately the screams were gone, disappearing so suddenly that it shook me to my very core, but I kept them closed, hoping if I did, they wouldn't come back. It was the contemptuous sigh that caused me to open them again.

    I found myself back in black nothingness, but standing over me now was the Eldar; her thin, lithe form towered over me and the red glowing eyes of her helm looked down on me with distinct disdain.

    I yelped out in fright and threw myself back, scrambling to gain as much ground from the Xenos as possible.

    "Oh, do not be so pathetic!" It snarled so sharply I immediately stopped in my desperate retreat. "If I wanted you dead, I would have killed you a long time ago!"

    "W-who are you?" I managed through my gasps. "What happened? Where the hell am I?"

    She sighed even more profound than before. "You are the one I am going to work through, I thought, perhaps, you might be a bit less pathetic than the rest of your kind. But alas."

    I lay there, only able to gape up at her.

    The Eldar sighed yet again and shook her head.

    "Well, we may be working together for a while from now on. So, if you truly must know, my name is Faleaseen; I am a farseer of the craftworld, Dalorsia. What happened? You were almost turned into a mindless, slavering daemon in the service of the ruinous powers and, where are you? You are now in the dark recesses of your mind. Any more questions?"


    "It seems that Inquisitor Nonin Edracian did not just inject you with a nerve agent, as he had first claimed, but with some primitive sort of warp sorcery. If I believed in your race's first, abstract concept of 'luck', I would say you were 'lucky' I was here to save you."

    "You...saved me?" I asked dumbly.

    Faleaseen attention turned slightly to the left, and it took a long time before she finally answered.

    "Yes, I just told you that, and here I was hoping you would be somewhat smarter than some of your kind. But alas."


    Faleaseen groaned loudly. "Because, human, I have placed much time and effort into you, letting you die now would have been a waste."

    I wasn't sure how to reply to that; all this had happened so frigging abruptly that I shouldn't be blamed for being taken aback and frightened. Yet here was this Xenos holding such contempt for me for having a perfectly reasonable and human reaction, and now here I was beholden to this farseer?

    This new revelation I didn't like, this I didn't like at all.

    She shook her head again, contempt oozing from her every pore.

    "The Inquisitor has set his trap," said Faleaseen. "As we speak, daemons are slaughtering your people; it is a blood-fest, outside that building. When you awake, you need to be ready; you need to escape."

    "Nah!" I said sarcastically.

    Faleaseen tilted her helmeted head suddenly. "I mean this; there are those you would deem as 'innocents' in that building, do not throw away your life protecting them; they are nothing. Not worth the effort, you have far more significant problems you need to live to attend to, do not be a fool. Time to awake, Mon'Keigh."


    Before I could say anything more, the darkness was engulfed in a sudden blaze of blinding bright white light, and I awoke.

    The light cleared, revealing the grey, rockcrete ceiling above me and slowly, the images of the concerned Karmen, the confused Karkin, Wesley and Brutis standing over me.

    Brutis had the barrel of his bolter levelled right in my face.

    "D-don't! Don't shoot!" I cried, quickly raising my arms to cover my head for all the frigging good it'd do.

    "What happened?" demanded Brutis bluntly, his bolter not moving an inch.

    "I-I don't know," I lied. "I-I, I just was listening to you guys, th-then everything turned black! I must've fainted."

    "You forgot about the going mad and screaming like a little girl and hiding in the corner part," said Karkin.

    "I-I don't remember that."

    Before anyone else could say anything more, there was another sudden, horrid crash! That seemed to shake the entire building around us, then followed by the blood-chilling screams with the intermittent roar of the desperate gunfire.

    "Frig! That came from the inside," said Karkin, voicing what we all thought.

    "Alright!" said Brutis. "We're fething moving! Get him up; we're going!"


    "'But' what detective Karkin? As far as I see, we'll have to face down whatever it is out there eventually anyway; I'd rather not have to with a wall at our backs."

    Karmen was the only one to offer her hand, which I took with an appreciative smile, and she pulled me to my feet.

    "That's not what I meant!" said Karkin. "I agree with you, but you've seemed to have forgotten; we're unarmed."

    "No, I haven't," stated Brutis. "And no, you're not getting one, either. I don't trust any of you enough. So enough of this meandering, let's get moving."

    He looked at me. "And you. You, I trust the least. I'm keeping an eye on you, understood?"

    I nodded, thinking, fair enough, I wouldn't trust me either.

    "Good," then with bolter raised, he opened the door and stepped outside.

    This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 06:21:31

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    We slipped out of the office into one by one once the bureaucratic area; the long room was divided out with thin white dividing walls around a metre and a half high. Twenty of them on each side, each held a small work area within. The lights which hung from the ceiling blinked on and off ominously.

    When we'd walked through here barely ten minutes ago, six Hammers were wandering around. Now I could see no sign of them, neither could I see any sign of a struggle, nothing, which scared me more than if there were blood and guts and body fluids lining the walls. I was somewhat expecting that but not this, not this.

    My heart thundered in my throat; my clammy, sweaty hands shook so hard I could've sworn it was too fast for the naked eye. I shivered in the cold as we slowly, silently followed Brutis, his bolter swept left and right professionally, checking inside every office with a calm I couldn't help but envy.

    My jaw clenched; if I were wearing frigging power armour and wielding a frigging mini-missile launcher, I'd be pretty frigging calm as well.

    As we walked, I had to fight constantly from slipping my hands into their pockets, now would be the worst time for that.

    After what seemed like aeons, we finally made it to the other side of the room.

    The door was closed, and with one quick movement, Brutis opened it and stepped into the thin corridor, his bolter switching left and right.

    I stopped, halting in my tracks as I realised something that made my shivering jaw drop and my fingernails dig deeply into my palms.

    "The screams," I said suddenly and louder than I'd intended.

    "Yeah?" said Brutis. "What about them?"

    "They're gone."

    Brutis's brow furrowed, and he glanced at me.

    "Attelus is right," said Karmen as she stepped next to me, her attention to the ceiling. "It's silent."

    "And what by the golden throne does that mean?" said Arlathan.

    Karmen shrugged and pouted. "Not sure, detective, it could mean a myriad of different things..."

    She let it hang, but my imagination gave me many, many possibilities, all somehow more terrifying and horrific than the last.

    I sighed and lost the fight to keep my hands out of their pockets. Where the hell was everyone? What's going on?

    Brutis just grimaced, turned away, signalled the all-clear, then moved out of sight.

    We followed, Wesley going first with his borrowed stubb revolver raised, then me, Karmen and Arlathan filled into the corridor after.

    Brutis had already made it a few metres on, the back of his sizeable armoured form blocking my view further down the corridor.

    The lights weren't blinking on and off in here, which made my advance a little easier.

    But something seemed odd, something I couldn't put quite put my finger on. I furrowed my brow, trying to discern what it was; then it hit me. It seemed that Brutis wasn't walking forward but back toward us, exceptionally slowly.

    No, Brutis didn't seem to be moving at all; he kept walking in one place. This realisation sent cold fear course painfully up my spine.

    "I-" I began, but the screams came abruptly back, and the lights began to flick on and off so fast it hurt my retinas.

    Something happened, something I couldn't quite describe, but it seemed that time sped; the screams and the meaty disgusting explosions came quicker than before as though on some horrific fast forward. I fell to my knees, clutching at my head. The screams tore into my mind, causing utter agony to course through my skull.

    The lights were now flickering so fast it didn't seem physically possible, and I fought the urge to scream and the overwhelming need to throw up.

    What broke me from this was another scream, and I turned to find it came from Karmen, who was in a far worse state than me. Her attractive face was now scratched and torn as she clawed at herself with wild abandon, her teeth clenched so hard I was afraid they'd shatter or burst out of her mouth, and her large blue eyes seemed to bulge in their sockets.

    It was the most horrific, sickening, terrifying thing I'd ever seen. I was in enough agony, but Karmen was a psyker; what she was going through I couldn't even begin to imagine. I had to do something, I needed to do something, but the pain and the screams seemed to paralyse me in place.

    For how long I knelt there watching Karmen, I had no idea, but it felt like forever as I fought desperately to regain myself, but finally, painfully, I did. It was one of the hardest things I'd ever done; it was harder than gaining the courage to face the Arco-flagellant; it was harder than trying to move while bedridden and broken. The only thing harder was the fight to stop myself from walking in my earlier dream, and I suspected it was only because of that dream I had enough willpower to do it.

    I reached out, took Karmen into my arms and pulled her close, she tried to resist, but I was too strong, as I pinned her hands at her sides so she could only feebly claw at me.

    For a long time, we were like that, and I ignored the flicking lights and the constant screams. I couldn't have been more at peace; whatever this was, I'd defeated it, I'd won, and now I wasn't afraid.

    The screams disappeared, and the lights finally became consistent.

    Almost immediately, Karmen went limp, and she slipped out of my grasp, slumping lifelessly onto the floor.

    I reached down, but a hand grasped my shoulder roughly, causing me to almost jump out of my skin, and I turned to see it was Brutis, who looked down at me wearily.

    "You alright?" he asked with genuine concern.

    "Y-yeah, but she isn't," I gasped, tears welling and noticing to my horror that my entire front now coated in Karmen's blood. "W-what the hell just happened?"


    Brutis was interrupted as the wall behind him exploded. The thick rockcrete reinforced with flak board seemed to evaporate into a thick cloud of dust and debris smashed ineffectually against Brutis Bones' power armour. If he wasn't there, I was sure I would've died.

    Two of them emerged from the falling dust, snarling and slavering daemons of chaos; they were huge, standing at well over two metres tall despite being hunched forwards and almost as wide. Their 'skin' was like the pink muscle and tissue of a skinned human, and around them, reality seemed to warp and waver. Their vast, gaping jaws emerged a good metre out of their strangely circular torsos and lined with jagged, razor-sharp teeth that seemed to jut out in every direction possible. Their arms were unnaturally elongated, but their legs were too short, like a canine's hind legs, but somehow they were still bipedal. But what got me was the lack of eyes, no eyes.

    Was I meant to have changed into one of these abominations? I found I could no longer fight my nausea, and I spewed violently, making an effort to avoid Karmen's prone form as I did.

    Still as calm as can be, Brutis didn't hesitate; he immediately opened fire.

    Until then, I'd never heard Bolter fire; the sound was beyond deafening, seeming to shake my very bones; it was like the roar of a god. The first creature was barely a few metres away, the bolter shots were practically point-blank, and it writhed back, the high explosive rounds gorging huge holes deep into its torso.

    But it wasn't fazed; the Daemon quickly recovered, snarled and began to charge, then Brutis shot it in the snout with the under-slung grenade launcher.

    The explosion sent it flying, smashing full tilt into the other Daemon behind it and together, they fell to the floor, snarling and writhing.

    Brutis was relentless; he immediately rained round after round on them as I covered my ears and cowered behind him. His bolter soon clicked dry, and as he reached for another clip, one of the battered, beaten daemons was suddenly up and faster than I thought possible; it barrelled into Brutis, sending him careening to the floor and causing the clip fly from his grip.

    Its jaws immediately clamped down on Brutis' torso with such force it would've easily pulped an unarmoured man, and slowly it began to close its mouth, causing Brutis' armour to crack and bend under the enormous pressure. Brutis cursed, struggling to free himself, but the Daemon was too strong.

    I climbed to my feet and watched on in horror, unable to do anything as both Brutis' bolter, and his sword was under him.

    It was then the other Daemon got finally got up; the thing was torn up, but still somehow very much alive, then it turned its eyeless attention to me.

    For a good few seconds, I stood frozen in place, my watering eyes plastered on the Daemon as my numbed mind worked.

    My first instinct was to turn and flee, but where? I'd just run back into that office and get myself cornered, and I couldn't bring myself to leave Karmen and even Brutis behind; I found there was nothing I could do; this thing could take point blank bolter rounds and grenades and still keep going what could I possibly do? I was unarmed, trapped in this corridor with nowhere to go; I was utterly useless.

    I was dead.

    The Daemon's gaping maw seemed to curl into something like a smile, as though it could sense my realisation, then it went to charge.

    The round smashed into the side of its skull with such force it sent it hurtling hard against the rockcrete. Another shot followed and another and another, each with pinpoint accuracy.

    At first, I couldn't comprehend it; it took me a while to figure out that the shots were coming from outside, through the massive hole the daemons had caused crashing inside.

    It was Hayden; they were hot shots from a Long-las, I had no doubt, and only he could replace the barrel then reload so fast.

    I was knocked back into reality, flinching in fright as another gun roared in the corridor. The shots flying past me so close I could swear I felt the particles of gunpowder coat me. They hit the Daemon that had poor Brutis in its jaws square on, but it may as well have been nothing for all the damage they dealt.

    Startled, I looked over my shoulder. Wesley knelt over an unconscious Arlathan Karkin, his stubb revolver raised and smoking, his weathered, aged face pinched with rage, and he'd an alarming amount of blood running from his nose, coating much of his thick, grey beard in red.

    "Kid! Get down!" he roared.

    I clenched my teeth and immediately threw myself to the floor, wishing Wesley had warned me earlier and watched as his fire peppered ineffectually against the Daemon while the now desperate Brutis smashed his fists repeatedly against its impervious hide. Its teeth had almost broken all the way through; soon, it'd bite straight into the much softer, squishier Brutis Bones within.

    I glanced at the other Daemon; Hayden was still keeping it off its feet with his fire, he must've shot it dozens of times now, and I couldn't help wonder. How many rounds did he have left? And what the frig did it take to kill these things?

    As if on cue, a bright blue light engulfed the corridor, and a millisecond later, the familiar blinding beam of plasma hit the Daemon that held Brutis in its jaws.

    The accurate shot thoroughly cooked its upper jaw, melting it black beyond recognition and the stench of burnt flesh filled the air.

    Another shot followed and utterly vaporised the upper half of the other Daemon as it writhed from Hayden's constant fire.

    Eyes wide, I scrambled to my feet. Castella approached us, her smoking plasma pistol held casually at her side and in her other; my sheathed power sword and behind her were five extremely confused looking Hammers.

    "Attelus!" she yelled and threw me my sword, which I caught out of midair neatly, despite my dazed state. "You alright?"

    I didn't answer as Castella brought me back to reality, making me remember and with a start, I spun, knelt next to Karmen and checked for a pulse. My heart thundered in my throat, and panic threatened to overtake me; I'd already lost Elandria; I hoped to hell I hadn't lost Estella too, no matter how messed up she'd become.

    I sighed loudly with relief when I found it; her pulse was weak and weakening rapidly along with the expanding pool of blood that wet my knees.

    "She-!" I screamed but cut myself short. Brutis was on his feet, his damaged, beaten power armour coated in thick black sludge. He, Wesley and all the Hammers behind Castella had their guns firmly trained on her, who had her hands raised in submission, her plasma pistol dangling from her finger and smiled nervously.

    "Who the hell are you?" demanded Brutis.

    "I Uhh, I'm not an enemy," said Castella. "Uhh, wait, that makes me sound even more like one, doesn't it?"

    "Who are you," he growled.

    Castella frowned, "I'm on your side-."

    "Oh, for frig's sake, she's with me!" I roared, taking Karmen in my arms but avoiding looking at her face; I couldn't bring myself to look at her torn, destroyed face again. "Her name is Castella, and she works with me! Can I have some help here? Karmen's bleeding out! She needs a medicae! Please!"

    For a few seconds, everyone stood silent surrounding Castella.

    Finally, Brutis lowered his bolter and motioned at the Hammers behind Castella. "You two, take her to medicae Aheth."

    The two Hammers hesitantly did as told and, despite their bulks, slipped past Castella, Wesley, and Brutis gently took the limp Karmen from me. They moved on, everyone giving them ample room to walk down the corridor, all the while distinctly avoiding looking that the dead daemons. I wanted to follow them but fought back the urge, unsure if Brutis Bones would allow it.

    "By the Golden Throne, what the feth is going on?" Brutis demanded.

    "W-we dunno boss!" stammered one of the Hammers; never had I heard such a high pitched pitiful tone from such a large person before. "There were screams, and explosions then the vox went dead, then this chick broke in through one of the windows, she knocked out Hamar, and then we chased her up here and...and."

    I furrowed my brow, sure it was simplified, but what the Hammer had described seemed to have taken a hell of a lot less time to occur than what happened to us.

    Brutis raised his hand to calm the Hammer and gave me and Wesley glances, indicating, perhaps, he was thinking along the same lines. What the frig did that mean? Glaitis had taught me that the warp had a strange effect on time; perhaps it was that?

    "We've better get moving," Brutis said. "This isn't a particularly good place to stand around talking. And you, your name is Castella, right? Thanks for the save."

    Castella nodded, giving Brutis her most charming smile. "It is sir, and thank you. I am pleased to finally meet the famous Inquisitor Brutis 'Bones' Tybalt in person."

    Brutis shook his head and snorted in amusement. "Get your damn lips off my arse and holster that damn Plasma pistol. And you."

    He looked over his shoulder at me.

    "You better keep that fething sword sheathed unless I explicitly tell you can draw it; you got that?"

    I nodded, only remembering now that I was still holding Karmen's sword and slipped it into the notches of my flak jacket while Castella holstered her plasma pistol.

    "Let's move," he said, turning to leave.

    "But uhh," I said, glancing at Arlathan, who still laid unconscious. "What about him?"

    "What about him?" growled Brutis.

    "W-we can't just leave him here."

    Brutis sighed, turned, walked past me, scooped up the at least ninety-kilogram Magistratum detective, then laid him over his shoulder as effortlessly as I'd lift an underweight, emaciated child.

    "We ready to go now?" he asked.

    Side by side with Castella and surrounded by Brutis and his men, we walked back into the main manufactorum area.

    During the walk, I wanted to talk to Castella but refrained, literally clenching my teeth to keep myself blurting out questions.

    There were around twenty Hammers in the hall; they'd created a cordon surrounding the dozens of women and children as they cowered in the epicentre of the vast place. Despite their fearful, pale faces, they held their guns ready and with discipline, I couldn't help but admire.

    It was their women and children at stake here, they had to be, but I'd seen the capabilities of the things attacking us and feared it'd be all for nothing, the most potent weapon among them was a heavy-stubber which may, may do some damage, but not nearly enough. I absently touched the power sword at my hip; I doubted it would do any harm either, but perhaps.

    "Boss!" yelled one of the Hammers as he saw us and broke the circle to approach; he was shorter and less bulky than the others, his thin, wiry arms covered in tattoos. "Thank the Emperor; you're alright! With the vox down, we feared the worst. What's going on? I saw that woman being carried to Aheth, and why is that man on your shoulder?"

    Brutis raised an eyebrow. "Verenth, you didn't hear anything upstairs?"

    Verenth's brow furrowed in bemusement. "No, boss. What the hell is going on?"

    "We're under attack," stated Brutis bluntly.

    "By who? The Magistratum? Taryst's organisation? They've betrayed us?"

    Brutis clenched his teeth. "No, I think, as we speak, they are being slaughtered themselves."


    "Enough questions, Verenth. I will tell you everything soon," interrupted Brutis, placing a comforting hand on the Hammer's shoulder. "I see you've got the men readied; good work."

    Verenth nodded but looked unconvinced.

    I quickly stole a sidelong glance at Castella, which she immediately noticed and returned me a huge, closed-eyed grin.

    I smiled back, slightly, unable to share her enthusiasm.

    Since the deaths of the daemons, the screams had disappeared; it was curiously silent outside. Garrakson, Torris and the Olinthre-thing were out there. I hoped they were okay, well except the Olinthre-thing, of course, I couldn't care less about that thing.

    The Hammers parted as we approached, giving us ample room and amongst the cowering crowd was a man in medical fatigues; he was tending to Karmen, who lay lifeless on a cot, wrapping her face with bandages.

    "Aheth," said Brutis as he roughly dropped Arlathan's body onto a nearby cot. "Got another for you."

    Aheth, a man looking in his mid-seventies, gazed up at Arlathan through half-moon spectacles.

    "Why thank you, Inquisitor, you certainly make sure that I will not have a moment of laxity. Therefore, I will never turn to heresy."

    What Brutis's reply was, I didn't hear, as I approached the side of Karmen's bed, she was still unconscious, her features covered in bandages, but I could see she was still breathing, still alive.

    I looked over my shoulder to Aheth. "Is she...will she?"

    "She will live," he said with a nod while he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

    "But, I am sorry, there is nothing I can do for her face, I can stem the blood, but the scars are permanent," said Aheth, with genuine sympathy. "I...I find it strange, though, her wounds they seem to be... self-inflicted, do you know anything about that?"

    I didn't reply; I couldn't; I looked away and curled my hands into fists, trying to content myself with the knowledge she was going to live. I wasn't surprised about her face; I'd watched as she'd torn her beautiful features apart. Now she was like me, forever scarred, but far, far worse. I wished I had the strength to stop her sooner; I should've told everyone it was a trap earlier. I shouldn't have allowed myself to get captured by Edracian. All of this was the consequence of my actions, of my cowardice and selfishness, so why the hell couldn't it affect me and me alone? Why did Estella have to suffer because of it?

    The hand that suddenly grasped my shoulder almost made me jump out of my skin, and I turned to find it was Castella Lethe, who smiled at me reassuringly.

    "Keep yourself together, Attelus Kaltos," she said. "We've still got a lot left to go through, yet."

    "Yeah, sorry, Castella," I stammered, then met her eyes unwaveringly. "Castella, what the hell is going on out there?"

    Castella dropped her gaze guiltily.

    "Brutis is right, Attelus," she said softly. "It's a slaughter, they...They came from nowhere. We expected an ambush but nothing like this; dozens were dead within moments. I killed as many of those...things...as I could on my way here, but there are many, many more. Dozens more, at least."

    I shook my head and clenched my jaw. "What about, Torris? Garrakson? Hayden and Darrance? Did you see anything of them?"

    "I left Hayden and Darrance on the northern building; they were fine, then." She shook her head. "I'm Sorry, Attelus, but I never saw anything of your squadmates."

    I grimaced, disappointed but not surprised, I couldn't have imagined the chaos outside, and Garrakson and Torris were situated hundreds of metres down the street.

    "How many shots you've got left for your plasma pistol?" I asked.

    "One clip, eight shots of that left," said Castella. "I had three before all this, and it's ten shots a clip."

    My eyes widened, impressed; that may've been twenty dead daemons at her hand already, well twenty-two including the two upstairs.

    "That's eight you could take care of once they breach," said Wesley. "That's if you don't waste any, shooting any of us in the back."

    Castella's attention fell to the floor again. "I'm-"

    Wesley raised his hand to hush her and shook his head. "I was joking, don't apologise, Castella, as I told young...Attenlus here, what you did to me was part of the job. It was natural we were enemies and now unlikely allies, and I said it couldn't get any more convoluted. It looks like I was wrong."

    Despite Wesley once again forgetting how to pronounce my name, I smiled. Never had I ever met someone so incapable of holding a grudge before.

    "The men and I will have to kill the others with concentrated fire," said Brutis. "But after seeing their constitutions first hand, I'm still not sure if that'll be enough."

    Castella turned to me, "Attelus, I think..."

    "You think, what?"

    "I think," she said hesitantly. "I think you're a better swordsman than me. You can use that power sword to full effect, do what you do best, aim for their limbs."

    I stared at her, taken aback by the compliment and that it may actually work. Why hadn't I thought of that?

    "B-but you're a swordswoman, not a swordsman," I pointed out, quickly seeing the loophole in her compliment.

    Castella glared at me with such intensity I flinched.

    "So, we have a plan; what do we tell the men?" said Wesley.

    "The truth," said Brutis bluntly, and he turned. "Everything."

    "Everyone!" he roared at the top of his lungs. "Everyone, I have something I need to say!"

    Instantly, any talk in the room silenced, and every pair of fear-filled eyes were on Brutis.

    "I-I'm sorry."

    I raised my eyebrow, and the people's fear was quickly overtaken by bemusement, and a hushed conversation began to start.

    "I'm sorry for everything," Brutis yelled. "Everything that has happened over the last seven months, all the deaths, everything, it is all my fault. I drew you into this debacle, into this secret war and In truth. I've been using you."

    The conversation was gone; everyone just stared at Brutis in shocked disbelief.

    "I came to you promising absolution. That serving the God-Emperor with me would absolve you of all your crimes. After everything, after all the fighting, all the sacrifice. You have more than earned it. You have served the Emperor with righteousness and conviction I have never seen, nor will I ever see again!"

    Brutis paused, allowing his words to sink in.

    "What is outside," he said sombrely. "Is an enemy none of you have ever encountered before, beasts of the warp, abominations in service to the ruinous powers. I will not lie! They are far stronger and tougher than any human, it was one of them that did this to my armour, with only their teeth, and soon, very soon they will break into here, they will crash through these walls to slaughter us all! As they slaughtered the Magistratum surrounding us before."

    He paused again and slowly looked over everyone around him, including me, Wesley and Castella.

    "But the thing is, unlike the idiots outside. We won't let them; we aren't weak; we are the Emperor's chosen! We fight in his name! And no one! Not heretic nor Daemon will stand before our righteousness! If we stand together if we work as one. We! Will! Win! The God-Emperor is behind us! With him at our back no matter the enemy, no matter the odds! Victory will be ours!"

    The roar from the Hammers was utterly deafening, and I had to fight the urge to cover my ears. I was highly impressed by Brutis' oratory skill but not taken in nearly as much as everyone else. I couldn't have cared less whether the Emperor was behind us or not; if we were to survive this somehow, it would be because of skill and discipline, not because of some god working with us.

    But these idiots believing that wouldn't hurt our odds much.

    I sighed, finding I needed a smoke.

    So we waited, and by the Emperor, it was the hardest wait I've ever had the pleasure of waiting through in my very, very long life. The tension in the air was horrific, it made me feel ten times heavier, and my every movement was half as fast than it should've been.

    Just after Brutis' speech, he, Wesley and Castella went upstairs to check outside but had come back almost straight away, claiming that when they'd looked out, they could only see nothing, just pitch black nothingness. By the Emperor, Edracian had thought of everything, hadn't he?

    Every few seconds, I'd look over to Estella; it was strange every time; it came with horrific, cold pain, like a metal claw digging its sharp fingers deep into my heart. I'd watch for long enough to make sure she was breathing then turn away, and although I knew the pain would come and knew she'd live, I'd still look again and again.

    I could also sense the animosity from every Hammer in the room, like an overwhelming body odour stench. None would talk or even acknowledge me, but when I turned away, I could sense them glaring daggers at my back.

    Or perhaps it was just my rampant paranoia? With this thought, I quickly glanced over my shoulder, managing to catch a few of the nearest as they attempted to avert their attention.

    I clenched my jaw, turned away and sighed. Great, I was going to fight alongside people who hated my guts, but I couldn't blame them in all honesty. I would be responsible for the deaths of dozens and dozens of their comrades, perhaps even some of their family members. I'd just have to be careful not to get a las round or a bullet in the back while we fought.

    For what felt like the hundredth time, I checked my wrist chron; according to that, it'd only been five minutes since Inquisitor Brutis 'Bones' Tybalt made his inspiring, uplifting, awe-inspiring speech.

    I sighed again; when the hell did I become so frigging cynical?

    Again I briefly checked on Karmen, finding her once more still alive and still unconscious.

    As I began to turn away, a sudden, fearful yell echoed through the room, causing everyone to jump in fright and turn to its source.

    Arlathan Karkin sat suddenly bolt upright in his cot, his eyes bulging in their sockets, then he began to writhe and convulse and scream woefully.

    Aheth ran from Karmen's bedside, calling and motioning the nearest Hammers to his aide.

    As I watched, I furrowed my brow and gripped the hilt of my sheathed power sword. Was this daemonic possession?

    Three Hammers and Aheth struggled with the spasming, screaming Karkin; all attention was on them and...Then it hit me, the realisation smashed me like a punch to the face, and I drew my sword, activating it in a flurry of sparks and cried out a warning.

    But it was too late; suddenly, six of the daemons crashed through the west wall, breaking through thick rockcrete as though it was nothing.

    Terror took over some of the off-guard Hammers; some reeled and screamed, some fell to their knees and curled into foetal positions, wailing pitifully, some just fainted on their faces, and the stench of crap and piss wafted into the air.

    Yet many kept their heads as I heard Brutis roar the order to open fire, and a deafening cacophony followed.

    Shotguns, autoguns, lasguns, heavy stubbers and Brutis' bolter combined to tear two things to shreds immediately; not even their horrific constitutions could stand up to such a concentrated, disciplined deluge. My admiration for the Hammers of Omnartus grew.

    Castella's plasma pistol shot soon after, vaporising through another.

    I raised my sword, clenched my teeth and despite my every instinct screaming not to, I charged.

    One Daemon seemed to sense my approach and punched out its elongated arm, which I weaved out the way from, but that was all it got as a millisecond later I was on it and roaring with such animal fury it tore my throat apart, I struck.

    Behind my slash, I put every ounce of my weight, every millimetre of momentum, every bit of my strength. I yelled out as horrible pain erupting up my arms, but I managed to ignore it. I clenched my teeth so hard I could've sworn they'd explode from my skull, and with one final roar, my sword finally tore free.

    My momentum carried me further forward, and I skidded to a halt, sliding around just in time to see it collapse massively onto its side.

    I had no time to even grin in triumph before another daemon attacked. Its enormous jaws closed toward me, forcing me to leap backwards. I ducked as it swung around its arm and sidestepped as it smashed its other downward, denting in the rockcrete floor with its force, sending even more dust and debris into the air.

    Never before had I felt so strong, so fast, so nimble. Was it because of my newly enhanced bone structure? That would contribute, but as my heart thundered in my ears, I found it was something else that drove me on, that made me greater than I'd ever been before. I had something to fight for—no SOMEONE to fight for, Estella Erith. For the first time in my life, I was fighting for more than just me and my survival. I had her. It didn't matter that she'd lost herself; it didn't matter that she was now forever scarred; it just didn't matter. I was prepared to die for her, as simple as that.

    Finally, I knew what it felt like to have something worth fighting for, why the Imperials and worshippers of chaos were so keen to sacrifice themselves for what I'd have thought to be nothing. But I wasn't fighting for some uncaring corpse or those sadistic, inhuman things that only use mortals as their playthings; Estella was real, tangible.

    That may've been why I'd somehow managed to save those people in the Twilight bar.

    The Daemon came again; its massive maw crashing at me, which I weaved under and slid onto its flank—cutting into its knee with two quick slashes. I knew I couldn't separate its limbs without the momentum of another charge; my only hope was to slowly, methodically carve through.

    Lightning-fast it turned, punching around wildly, but I crouched just in time. Feeling the surge of air over my head, then wheeled back as it followed with its other arm, smashing low at my legs.

    I dashed forward, nimbly avoiding its closing jaws, and suddenly I was back on its side, cutting into its knee with wild abandon—this time managing six before being forced back.

    My breaths were now ragged gasps, and my arms ached like hell. I was at my very best but still human; I couldn't keep this up forever. It could, though, that was the problem.

    As if sensing this, the Daemon suddenly lunged, its arm flying like an uppercut. I sidestepped but almost caught off guard as simultaneously its other arm came round.

    I had no time to dodge, so I smashed my sword down with all my weight and strength. It did little damage and barely changed its course, but the momentum forced me off my feet, into a leapfrog that threw me just over its attack and into a roll.

    Undeterred by my acrobatics, It scythed out both arms, one low, one high, forcing me further back.

    For a brief second, I wondered what was happening to everyone else right now; I was so focused on my enemy; I couldn't even tell what was going on around me. Then I fell into another charge.

    Its right arm swiped low. I jumped over the blow, throwing myself into the air like a speeding bullet and descended straight at its damaged leg. Despite my ravaged throat, I roared again and cleaved with all my might. Its limb immediately gave way, the power of my strike causing it to fall on the floor face first.

    Rolling to negate the impact, I spun to see it struggling futilely to get up.

    My smile was gone as instinct forced me to turn. Finding yet another daemon towering over me, its mouth curling into something like a grin.

    Forcing back my gasps, I readied my sword, so much effort and time to kill just one, and there were still dozens more left—Frig in hell.

    The plasma round hit the Daemon from the side, almost bisecting its bulbous torso in two.

    Through the chaos, Castella approached as she holstered her pistol and drew her dual power blades in a blaze of blue, grinning at me from ear to ear.

    "Ran outta ammo," she said with a shrug, stepping by my side. "Sorry, it took me so long to come to your aid, Attelus. So! let's show these friggers just what Glaitis' best can do, huh?"

    Unable to reply, I grinned and nodded back then; side by side, we charged.

    We hit our first Daemon on its flank. The thing had already made its way through the Hammer's wall of munitions and was tearing them apart. A small mound of shredded, ravaged body parts scattered around it while the surviving, surrounding Hammers ineffectually shot into it.

    I'd always been a fast runner, perhaps even the fastest in our organisation, but now it felt like I flew. I'd outpaced Castella by a good two metres already, so the first to fall on it. In the last metre, I leapt into a skid, my crackling power sword slashing seven times into its right leg while sliding onto its left, repeatedly cutting into its other knee.

    The Daemon immediately turned, snarling silently as it swung out at me. I leapt back, just out of its reach, and it never saw Castella coming.

    Simultaneously we charged me toward its right. Castella, it's left, together we sliced off its legs, causing it to collapse straight onto its huge snout, with a tremendous crash.

    Another turned from its slaughter, its teeth and arms covered in blood and gore, and came at us, punching out both claws one after the other.

    I swayed just underneath mine, and Castella cartwheeled from hers. I took the brief opportunity to glance at her lithe, supple, body gloved form for a second. Emperor, sometimes I loved my job. I was just lucky that Glaitis seemed to have a habit of hiring attractive women into her organisation.

    But we were lucky that these daemons seemed too stupid to understand the concept of teamwork. Their attack would've been much more successful if they did, which meant we would've all been dead already.

    The Daemon recovered quickly, swinging out both arms at once.

    I was forced to drop onto my side; I'd gained confidence, so slashed up into its arm as it flew over me, keeping the blade horizontal or else be disarmed. These things felt no pain, which we could use to our advantage. Although they also seemed to lack any blood, anatomy or bone structure, just beings of solid, hardened material. Meanwhile, Castella flipped gracefully out of the way.

    My jaw set, as much as I enjoyed watching Castella bounce around, the use of cartwheels and flips to evade enemies irked me; it was unneeded and forced your eyes off your opponent. Castella was skilled enough to get away with it, I guessed. I hoped.

    She landed, and I rolled away as it swung back its arm along the ground in a bid to hit my prone form. Finishing in a crouch, a split-second later, we were moving, sprinting straight at it.

    Once again, it punched its claws at us, I sidestepped mine and lightning-quick slashed my sword twice into it; first was an overhead attack, the second into the bottom of its arm.

    Castella immediately saw what I was doing and leapt out of the path of the attack at her. Flipping into an overhead arc and smashing her power blades straight into the arm, flying at me, causing it to buckle slightly under the impact.

    The Daemon's jaws snapped straight at us like a ravenous berserk canine, forcing me to slide away and Castella to pirouette back.

    It snarled, striking its right at me while sweeping its left toward Castella, I leaned away from it, and she cartwheeled over hers. This time it didn't draw back its arms but swept back its left and cutting across its right.

    I clenched my teeth, almost caught off guard and jumped just out the way desperately. It was learning. Perhaps they weren't as stupid as I thought they were.

    With a silent, almost frustrated snarl, it smashed down both its arms simultaneously.

    I gave a brief grin at Castella; then we were moving; I sidestepped the attack falling at me, bringing my blade across the underneath of its arm as quickly as I could, using the attack's force against it. The blow smashed straight into the floor, caving it in under the impact. The extraordinary power of the wave of thrown up dust knocked me off my feet, smashing sidewards onto the floor, pain cut through me, but I still saw Castella. She spun through mid-air, building momentum, then slashed both blades with pinpoint accuracy into the giant gouge caused by our teamwork.

    Its arm gave way without resistance, slicing clean off.

    Despite being winded, I was abruptly on my feet, both of us taking advantage of the opening to charge its right leg, but it was a feint. Instead, we dashed around to its right and began to hack its leg apart. It tried to turn but was already following us from its left, so its useful arm was out of range. Its leg finally gave under our barrage, and it fell, straight on top of its left arm, pinning it.

    We paused for a split second, glancing to take in our surroundings.

    Numerous Hammers lay dead, their body parts and blood coating much of the floor. Yet those alive had stood their ground, around thirty remained—the brave, brave bastards, making a living wall between them and their loved ones. A few daemons were dead or disabled amongst the many dead humans; I counted sixteen total and wondered just how much ammunition, Brutis and his men had left.

    Six more daemons emerged from the darkness through the massive gap in the wall, seemingly just materialising into being.

    Through my gasping, I clenched my jaw and glanced at Castella with a furrowed brow. Also struggling for breath, she met my gaze. Her expression was uncharacteristically grim. We couldn't keep this up for much longer; these things were frigging relentless. The deafening thunder of gunfire echoed through the room; countless shots zipped straight past Castella and me, instantly causing one of the creatures to buckle and collapse under the barrage.

    The rest charged, but another was blown apart in mid-flight, Brutis and his men having time for just one more barrage. Castella and I met one, countercharging it.

    But it did something unexpected; it abruptly stopped and smashed down both its arms, curling its many fingers together in one blow.

    Taken by surprise, Castella and I jumped desperately to evade, me slipping sidewards, her cartwheeling outward.

    Its arms impacted heavily into the rockcrete, kicking up more dust and debris.

    Castella turned to me and tilted her head side to side slightly. I instantly understood, and we slid into a sprint, both of us dashing in opposite directions as it drew back its enormous arms to attack again.

    Simultaneously it swiped at me and punched toward Castella. Using all my strength, I leapt as its arm came low for me. Drawing my knees into my chest, I flew over its attack. Still, I jumped further than I'd anticipated, a good two metres in fact and hit the ground hard; my legs buckled underneath me. I fell into a roll and recovered just in time to see the damned thing had followed me, not Castella.

    It lunged its left, striking forward, followed by its right. I ducked the first and sidestepped the second. Then its bulbous bulk attempted to barrel into me.

    I dived, throwing myself flat on the floor and watched as it passed over me by barely a millimetre, then as a blur; Castella sprinted after it.

    Instantly, I kicked my feet out and ran with her as the Daemon was still in mid-turn.

    We hit it simultaneously; Castella jumped, spinning in mid-air like an ice dancer; I just charged and struck with all my strength. No pain erupted up my arms as my powersword struggled to cut through; the numbness had taken over any other feeling. Under our strikes, the leg gave way, and as the others did, it collapsed, making me and Castella leap to avoid getting crushed under its bulk.

    I smiled and turned to Castella.

    +Attelus!+ A voice suddenly echoed through my thoughts, making me flinch in fright.

    +Attelus! Can you hear me!+

    It took a second to reply, taken aback as I recognised who it belonged to, Estella.

    "E-Estella?" I said, my voice barely a whisper from my sore throat and Castella treated me with a confused look. "I-Is that you?"

    Estella's disembodied voice sighed. +Yes it's me Attelus.+


    +There's no time to explain, all you need to know is that you need to get out of that building, now!+

    I took a second to glance in the general direction of her unconscious body; I couldn't see her through the crowd of shooting, screaming, dying Hammers.

    "What? Why?"

    +Because Attelus, I've found how the daemons are coming from the warp, the conduit. I need you to get your arse over there now to stop it!+

    "Why me?"

    +Because if anyone else comes within twenty metres of the conduit, they will turn into one of them. You're the only one who can get close, the only one immune, because of what the Farseer did. She stopped your earlier possession so it cannot happen again.+

    I shivered as I remembered the Farseer telling me that I needed to leave. Was this what she meant?

    "How the hell do you know that?"

    +I just do Attelus, now the conduit is-+

    Her words were interrupted as she screamed, an agonising scream that hurt my head and made me clench my teeth.

    "Estella! Estella! You there? Estella!" I roared.

    +Yeah, I'm here, I-I'm here, please Attelus, you must go, the conduit is located west of your position, a kilometre away it's...It's...+

    Her voice was fading rapidly, as though she was walking away slowly.

    +It's in an old ministorum church; you have to stop it, or else more and more daemons will emerge until we are all dead.+

    "And I've gotta go alone?"

    +Yes! Or else anyone with you will turn into a daemon; not everyone has a Xenos fairy godmother protecting them! But I will guide you; I will guide you as best as I can, now go!+

    I turned to Castella, wide-eyed.

    "You alright?" she asked.

    "I've got to go."

    She smiled. "Yeah, it was kinda hard to miss that."

    "I-I'm sorry."

    Castella pouted and shrugged. "No need to apologise, it sounded important, now you better go. God-Emperor be with you."

    I smiled, nodded, turned and sprinted full-tilt toward the gaping hole in the wall.

    My heart lunged inside my throat; I was scared, scared of the wall of the black I was sprinting straight at.

    "Estella, I don't like this."

    +Just keep going, Attelus! You'll be fine! Don't stop! Right now, only you can pass through that barrier!+

    I grimaced, clenched my teeth and raised my power sword protectively, then plunged straight into the barrier.

    I kept running through that pitch black, slashing my sword wildly around me while fighting the constant rising panic from the horrific claustrophobic darkness, which seemed to weigh me down and the thought at the back of my mind. The little voice was saying that I'd be stuck inside this darkness, forever.

    I wanted to close my eyes; I wanted for this to end, I wanted.

    Then I burst out of the darkness and into the street; I reeled from the abruptness of it, the unnatural and illogical change that I wasn't at all ready for. The change I couldn't have begun to be ready for.

    The underhive was no longer dark; a sickening crimson light now engulfed the run-down, ill-maintained buildings around me. A thick, red cloud completely covered the rockcrete ceiling from the over hive above.

    There were also three daemons standing in the street waiting for me.

    "Aww crap," I said as they began to charge.

    I heard the Long-las shot that smashed into one of them from the flank, sending it off its feet to the rockcrete.

    Like a blur, Darrance descended on another; with a roar, he slashed his power scimitar deep into it, then backflipped as it attempted to swing at him wildly.

    The last was almost on me, drawing back its long arm to punch.

    The Intense, deafening, fully automatic fire tore it apart in mid-charge, and I turned to see Garrakson and Torris approaching. Garrakson held a smoking Autocannon, with a smoking cigar clenched in his teeth, while Torris had his shotgun raised and was grinning at me.

    "Hey kid!" yelled Garrakson as he finished the Daemon attacking Darrance in a withering hail of fire, simultaneously spitting out his cigar. "Good to see you're in one piece!"

    "H-How?" was all I could manage in reply.

    Garrakson frowned and glanced down at his Autocannon. "Oh! Put it in the trunk just before we left, y'know. Just in case."

    Then he finished the third with another flurry.

    "Although, I'm almost out of ammo now!"

    Darrance approached, his expression grim.

    "Keep going, Apprentice," he growled. "We will cover you."

    I furrowed my brow, clenched my jaw and nodded acknowledgement. I didn't need to ask any more questions; I knew Karmen had organised this. Then fell into another sprint. While sheathing my sword, I went for the nearest building, a one-storied hobble of a structure.

    Like most of Omnartus, the under hive was a Byzantine maze of alleyways and streets. I was almost incapable of getting lost, but the creatures could easily corner or surround me if I moved through the alleys. I had no choice.

    Using the climbing skills drilled into me by my dad, I ran up the wall, making it up far enough to grab the edge of the second story and, with surprising ease, pulled myself onto it.

    The roof was flat, as was every other around it; the heights of the structures varied, but the tallest wouldn't have been more than six stories.

    I looked around, trying to find the church, but the buildings around must've obscured it. I moved with a heavy sigh, crossing the ten-metre width of the building within a millisecond to leap across the two-metre gap onto the next.

    Stumbling with the impact, I clumsily recovered; now the exhaustion was hitting me, my legs felt like rubber, and I struggled for every breath. But I couldn't stop; I had to keep going, and exhaustion be damned.

    Suddenly two Daemons were on the other end of the building, pulling themselves from the two-metre wide alleyway with horrific ease. The rockcrete roof under them was buckling and cracking to support their tremendous weights.

    I growled out my anger and instantly turned left, leaping across another two-metre gap, grabbing onto a two-story building and hauled myself up. The daemons were only a second after me; I could hear their separate heavy landings, and IU glanced over my shoulder, just in time to catch them attempting to strike at my back.

    I swerved side to side, just making it out the way, so their attacks smashed into the rooftops instead of me.

    But I clenched my teeth, and my eyes widened as I saw the next gap, fighting the sudden urge to skid to a stop. It must've been about four metres wide, and on the other side of the street was a vast four-story building, the only way through was a large window about a metre up.

    +You can do it, Attelus!+ Came Estella's voice in my mind.

    I furrowed my brow in determination, spurred on by her words and didn't hesitate. With a roar, I jumped.

    It felt like I flew, literally flew, and I couldn't hide the amazement that I was actually making it. I covered my face with my arms just before I hit the glass, hoping to hell my flak jacket and gloves would protect me from being torn to shreds. With a deafening crash! I broke through, the window giving away with surprising ease under my momentum. Shards cut into my jacket, some managing to pierce far enough to cut slightly into my forearms and torso. One managed to clip my ear, one gashed across my scalp, making me scream out the agony. I careened immediately, losing my footing as I landed and hit the floor hard, rolling clumsily to negate the impact.

    I finished on my side. I gasped in pain and breathlessness, feeling like my entire body was on fire. I began to crawl to my feet.

    It was then a giant claw snaked straight through the floor where my head once was, and the other two daemonic pursuers crashed into the room. Spurred on by fright, I was up and running again, looking around desperately for another window but found none; I was in a small abandoned hab, barely a few metres wide. I ran for the door, opened it and turned left into a long hallway. A second afterwards, I heard a massive crash as the daemons barreled straight through the wooden wall after me.

    Then something happened, something that sent a painful jolt of panic up my spine; I heard a huge, muffled bang followed by another, then another. The floor beneath me began to shudder; it shuddered and made a popping grinding noise, then abruptly collapsed. Another daemon emerged from the darkness below, its snarling smile snapping straight at me. But fueled by instinct, I jumped, managing to cross the newly made gap, just out of reach of its gaping mouth.

    I kept running, fighting to make every metre, every step. Glancing over my shoulder to veer around the Daemon's attacks as they smashed toward my back

    Finally, I made it to the end of the hall, reaching a staircase and immediately began to ascend, hoping to hell that there was a way to get to the roof easily up there.

    I reached the next level, pausing to see at the end of the corridor on my left was what looked to be an emergency exit. Why the hell there wasn't one on each side was beyond me, and I began to run toward it, glancing over my shoulder to see if they'd followed me. I couldn't mask my bemusement when I saw they weren't, and I skidded to a halt.

    As if in answer, the sound of more crashes and whines came, then the floor began to shake and buckle.

    I immediately realised what they were doing and began to run just as the floor started to collapse.

    I barely kept ahead of the falling floor as the daemons smashed through the dividing walls beneath me.

    In the last few metres, before I found the door, I had to jump as the floor finally overtook me, barreling into the door with such force, it flew abruptly open, and agony sheered through my arm. I was sure my arm would've broken. I may've broken almost every bone in my body if it weren't for the enhanced bone structure gifted to me by the Farseer.

    My momentum was too much as I barreled through that door and onto the fire escape; I hit the metal handrail so hard I saw stars and careened straight over it, into free fall.

    I screamed, my hands desperately clutching for the handrail, but in my panic, I missed.

    My heart in my throat, my feet kicking the air futilely, I fell for a story, barely managing to grasp onto the next handrail. I roared out in agony as I abruptly stopped, feeling my arm almost being pulled from its socket, and I smashed into the bars.

    Gasping, bloody, hurting like hell, I grabbed the handrail with both my hands and pulled myself up, so my feet were against the edge of the ledge, looking over my shoulder at my surroundings.

    It was another alleyway, two metres wide, and the adjacent building was three stories high, one higher than me. It was a stretch, but I was lucky it wasn't taller.

    I clenched my teeth and pushed myself into mid-air.

    Just then, one of the daemons suddenly burst through the wall, its snapping jaws missing me by less than a hair's breadth as I leapt and spun, turning to catch the ledge of the next building, ignoring the pain flaring through me. I vaulted over the parapet and rolled onto the roof. I immediately clambered to my feet and continued running. Another tremendous big crash as the Daemon smashed into the building below.

    I glanced back to see the other two pulling themselves onto the roof just after me.

    "Karmen!" I yelled through my gasps as I leapfrogged over a thick dividing wall. "Karmen! How far do I have left to go!"

    +Just another six hundred metres to go, Attelus, but you need to turn to your right!+

    "I already figured that-!" I cut myself short as more movement caught my eye; it was another sprinter crossing the rooftops. Darrance came on one of the daemons from its side, his long scimitar, cutting into its leg, hitting with such momentum that the limb gave way with almost no resistance.

    A Long-las round smashed into the other, knocking it off balance and causing it to veer near the edge. The second shot threw it over the ledge, where it dropped abruptly out of sight.

    I clenched my teeth, wondering why the hell they'd taken so damned long and turned right.

    The building I veered toward was the tallest one I saw before. A very long six-story hab block that once may've been a hotel a very long time ago.

    It was a three-metre gap, but I leapt without hesitation straight onto the fire escape a story down. I hit the floor with a clang, rolled into a crouch and started up the steep staircase.

    The third Daemon then burst through the wall of the last building, flying straight towards me like a bullet.

    Cursing colourfully, I threw myself back down the stairs a millisecond before it collided through the fire escape stairs and wall alike.

    Debris began to rain at me, lethal chunks of the fire escape.

    Without thinking, I clenched my teeth and drew my sword, activating the power field in a blaze of blue, then proceeded to cut apart the debris falling my way. I and my blade were complete blurs as it slashed and smashed and I dodged and weaved what it missed. In hindsight, it was an insane, foolish and desperate move that only exhausted me more. But my tired, fatigued self couldn't come up with any better ideas. Yet somehow, it frigging worked, don't ask me how it just did. Well, it worked until the entire frigging fire escape began to break apart and collapse.

    I turned, smashed in the nearest window and dived through into the darkened interior beyond. Immediately I was up and sprinting, just before a large chunk of stairs crashed through the wall that would've crushed me if I hadn't moved.

    I stopped and bent forward to catch my breath, fighting to keep my legs from buckling under me and the horrid nausea welling in my guts. I'd pushed myself to the limit and beyond, and I'd still had a long way to push yet.

    "Frig it," I muttered under my breath.

    Instinct made me move, turning to see Darrance leaping through the hole after me; as agile as a cat, he rolled and stood, glaring at me from under a hooded brow.


    He abruptly shushed me and pushed past, listening intently with his scimitar readied.

    I ignored him and continued to try to catch my breath, wishing there was some way to stop the constant aching.

    Darrance suddenly spun, grabbed me by the shoulder and pulled me to the floor just before the Daemon's arm smashed through the wall, sweeping a millimetre barely over my head. Darrance was already moving, lunging through the falling slivers of wood at the Daemon, yelling, "move, Apprentice! I will hold it off!"

    Clumsily I did as told, scrambled onto my feet, and I stumbled on- wondering if I was going to succeed or even survive.

    My grip tightened on the hilt of my sword. Everyone was relying on me, everyone needed me to succeed, and I will, no matter the cost.

    With newfound determination, I ran on, deeper into that vast, dank hab building.

    I will succeed, no matter the cost.

    This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 06:32:59

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    Despite my newfound determination, I found I couldn't run much farther, making it only five or six metres down the corridor, before stopping to catch my breath again.

    +Attelus,+ said Karmen. +Attelus you've got to keep moving.+

    I nodded and forced my body onward, ambling while using my forearm to pull myself along the corridor, glancing around at every crash and roar that echoed through the building from Darrance's and the daemons' struggle. There were, without doubt, more daemons; I had to be careful.

    I made it to the end of the corridor, finding another window. With battered, bloody and hurt hands, I clumsily slid it open and leaned to look outside. The next building over was another long, six-story hab unit. It was nearly a three-metre gap, and the nearest fire escape was a few windows on my left. I quickly recalled that there was a fork in the corridor a while back.

    Most of all, what caught my attention was the light; the blood-red light had grown in intensity. It was like my eyes had blown their blood vessels.

    I sighed, about to push back into the building but stopped as I felt slight droplets of rain on my head. I blanched in bemusement and looked up at the thick, crimson clouds above.

    It never rained in the underhive; it couldn't rain in the underhive; the ceiling of the over hive forever prevented that.

    The few droplets quickly escalated into a full-on downpour, but I couldn't see the rain; I could hear it, feel it, but couldn't see it. I reeled inside, abruptly shut the window and backed away in disgust and horror.

    It was raining blood, frigging blood.

    Another great crash down the hall made me jump and brought me back to reality.

    I turned and ran to the intersection, turning right. As much I didn't want to go outside, I had to get to the roof; it was the best way to go. Making it to the next turn, I ran to the fire escape door and, without looking back, opened it and stepped outside.

    The force of the blood rain hit me like a punch to the jaw, and I raised my arm to protect my face with a growl of anger and fighting the urge to vomit. I started up the metal staircase. Edracian wasn't just throwing daemons at me but the very elements.

    I couldn't help but take some pride in that.

    Clenching my teeth, I trod carefully, all the while clutching hard at the handrail to keep my feet on the treacherous, slick surface.

    Finally, I made it to the top and looked about, trying to find this church.

    I saw it through the blood-red, a large, two-story monastic and overly grandiose thing; its two towers stuck out like a sore thumb compared to the simplistic hab buildings around it. It would've been gaudy if it wasn't in such disrepair.

    My brow furrowed involuntarily, the Ecclesiarchy, always having the thrones to build such monstrosities but never really helping those in need. Ohh, they did but only 'spiritually', which meant nothing to me and not just that they'd charge for it too.

    I shook away such thoughts and walked to the other side of the roof. After wiping my sticky, blood-slicked hair from my eyes, I spun on my heels, fell into a sprint and lunged over the three-metre gap.

    Landing well, I finished into a crouch and ran to the next edge, stopping to look along the side, trying to find another way down. The tallest building was only four stories high and was a good one hundred metres away, which would've made me curse, but I froze in fear as I saw daemons, frigging dozens of the bastards. They stood perfectly still throughout the streets and the buildings below. SUDDENLY, as I noticed them, all their snouts simultaneously snapped upward, somehow looking straight at me.

    Desperate with utter terror, I threw myself to the floor, although I suspected it was fruitless.

    "Karmen! Karmen! You could've frigging warned me of this!" I hissed through clenched teeth.

    It took a good few seconds before Karmen finally replied that her voice was pained and distant when she did.

    +Warn you of what Attelus? I am sorry, I am...busy. I cannot see everything.+

    Slowly, I climbed up and peered over the buttress, but what I saw scared me even more.

    All the daemons were all gone.

    +Attelus? What's wrong?+


    My reply was interrupted by a massive crash followed by another, then another that came from below.

    I furrowed my brow in bemusement, climbed to my feet; then the realisation hit me; it hit me hard.


    "They're collapsing the frigging building!" I roared, more to myself than to her, and as if on cue, the roof under my feet began to sway and tilt, making me stumble to keep my feet.

    Panic gripped me so hard I couldn't think straight, and I sprinted straight for one of the rooftop doors. Then found much to my distress; it locked.

    Without thinking, I kicked at the door; the first did nothing, the second not much more. It was only after the fifth that my panicked mind finally remembered, I was carrying a frigging powersword. I activated it, sliced through the thick lock and with one more kick, it flung open.

    Breathing hard, I then began to descend the stairs into the darkness. The walls and floors juddered around and underneath me.

    I was glad to get out of that cursed rain, but now I was in immense danger; the daemons could be anywhere just waiting to jump out and tear me to shreds.

    That was their plan. To get me down here and ambush me or failing at that, collapsing the entire building on me. Smart frigging, things.

    Clenching my jaw in anger at my idiocy, I made it to the bottom of the stairway, seeing that the w rockcrete staircase continued down, circling to the ground floor. I hissed through clenched teeth, clutching at the handrail while moving as quickly and carefully as I could. My footfalls echoed through the stairwell, and my heart lodged in my throat.

    When I reached the bottom of the first flight, I realised something that caused me to pause, what was stopping them from just taking out the stairs? With a curse, I turned and kicked in the nearest door, slipping through with my sword ready.

    Immediately the building abruptly swayed as more crashes echoed, and I was suddenly sent careening off my feet, slamming side-ward against the rotting carpet on the floor.

    I cried out as pain coursed through me, and I rolled over, clutching at my side while gasping in agony.

    It was then when two daemons burst straight through the floor, showering everything with shards and slivers of rockcrete.

    I clambered quickly to my feet as they came at me from both sides. Even though my pulse pounded a mile a second and my hands shook like leaves, I didn't hesitate, and with four slashes of my activated power sword, I created a hole, a hole in the floor around my feet that collapsed a millisecond before they were on me.

    The fall lasted for a good two metres, and I tried my hardest to land well, but to no avail, as my legs gave way with the impact, and I barely kept my face from smashing into the floor. I didn't have any time to writhe in pain again as the daemons' claws were immediately crashing through the ceiling straight at me.

    I rolled along the floor, feeling their attacks brush past me a mere millimetre away, leapt to my feet and ran on, trying not to limp from the pain in my knees. Their arms kept smashing down in my wake, following me through the thin corridor.

    I was rapidly running out of space as the window at the end of the corridor came closer and closer. So I stopped and spun into a sidekick that smashed open the door of a hab unit with such force it almost bounced back into me.

    Sprinting into the small space, I barely made it before being crushed under their attacks, but for a scant second, I was free, and it was enough for me, as I cut into the floor and jumped through the gap. I landed into a roll and was back up. Quickly, an idea came to me and Immediately I was slashing a long line through the length of the hab's floor, cut another hole. Dropped down into the next level below and repeated the process there.

    I could hear the daemons as they bashed through the ceiling above, followed by a creaking then crashing as my weakened floor collapsed underneath them and watched as they fell through the debris, down two stories.

    There was no time for me to celebrate the success of my ploy, not even a smile before the building began to suddenly shudder, taking me off balance, almost making me fall through the hole with the daemons.

    The juddering didn't stop this time; it just kept going, and I could barely keep my feet. The entire thing was finally in full collapse.

    Cursing, I opened the hab's, scrambled into the corridor and toward the window,

    I was only on the third floor and didn't know how tall the next building was, but I had no choice. Once I stumbled to the end of the corridor, I smashed out the window and glanced outside, finding to my dismay that the next building was only one story high. Another crash made me flinch in fright and look over my shoulder to see the daemons had already recovered. They were cramped in the corridor and coming at me.

    Swallowing my fear, I didn't hesitate; I dived out the small window into the crimson-lit cityscape and the raining blood outside.

    It felt like I flew, and the roof of the next building rapidly approached. What happened next is still a complete blank or black. I'm pretty sure I didn't close my eyes, I don't think I lost consciousness, I don't even know how long I was like that, but when my vision finally came back, I was sprawled on my side facing back toward the building I'd jumped out. I was a good four metres across the rooftop, and I could feel a new pain in my hands and legs.

    Slowly I looked and found both my hands had been skinned, ripped open. The gloves I wore now torn to shreds.

    As I lay getting soaked in the blood rain, I hissed air through my teeth and tried to move, but my body refused, all my injuries protesting with more pain. But as far as I could tell, nothing was broken, and I began to laugh. A laugh which was very short-lived as the two daemons landed on the roof with great huge thuds! The rockcrete almost entirely giving away underneath them.

    With a bone-jarringly deafening, groaning roar, the building began to fall, not collapse but fall, tipping straight toward us. The pain was gone, replaced by terror and adrenaline. I was abruptly up and sprinting.

    I didn't dare look back but could hear and feel it fall—the hideous grinding and screaming like the roar of some dying monster. I could see its shadow grow and grow as it loomed over me. I jumped over a dividing wall and risked a glance back. The two daemons were barely keeping up with me. I was running with reckless abandon, not holding back, even though I knew I could slip over on the blood-soaked ground in any second, and the building was now frigging horizontal.

    Clenching my teeth, I turned forward, trying to sprint even faster despite struggling for every breath, despite my legs wanting to fold up underneath me, my sickened stomach and lightheadedness. I jumped over another gap but slipped on the landing; my heart sank as I slid on my heel, crying out as I barely found my feet before smashing my face on the roof.

    I stopped and stooped over, trying to regain my breath. The grinding and screaming of the falling building spurred me onward. I stumbled like a drunken idiot to the parapet and found a four-metre gap, much to my despair.

    Then the deafening, grinding screaming disappeared, taken over by just complete silence, it was like time had stopped, and I turned.

    I'd made it, I'd made it out the way of the falling building, much to my relief, but barely, then it hit me what was going to happen when it landed.

    I leapt over the buttress into free fall, my arms waving ineffectually as the rockcrete street came closer. I was in mid-air when the building hit the ground; the sound was like nothing I'd ever heard before; the crash as the building crushed others under its weight was beyond deafening; the entire world seemed to rock and quake, even the very air. How my eardrums weren't destroyed, I had no idea.

    I hit the ground, trying to roll with the horrific force of the fall, agony tore through my knees, making me scream and botch the roll, and I slid across the street through the blood. If it weren't for that, I would've come out a whole lot worse.

    Barely in time, I managed to gasp in some air and close my eyes before the wall of thick dust hit me.

    I waited for a few seconds before finally exhaling and opening my eyes. I was covered head to toe in thick grey, the blood that soaked me acting like glue for the dust. Around the walls and streets were the same, but the blood rain was already wearing it away. I could see grey intermingling with the pools of blood.

    Coughing and groaning, I began to get to my feet, my body protesting with more pain.
    Eventually, I found my feet and stumbled down the main street, leaning against the wall with my arm for support. I could see the church through the rain at the end of the road, but it was still a good four hundred metres away.

    "Karmen!" I croaked. "Karmen!"

    I got nothing.

    "Karmen!" I roared.

    +Yes, Attelus! What's wrong?+

    "What will I find in there?"

    +I don't know, Attelus. All that I can figure is that the daemons aren't directly coming from the church but are materialising in the general vicinity. I'm sorry, sorry, I can't be more helpful. Be careful.+

    I smiled, "Karmen, I'm always careful, you should...know...that..."

    I trailed off as I glanced over my shoulder and saw the full devastation; the huge hab block had crushed dozens of others under it, completely and utterly. It was like those buildings never existed. The roof I'd only stood on a minute or so ago loomed over me like a wall.

    "By the Emperor," I stammered and slowed to a halt.

    As if summoned by my words, the daemons suddenly burst from the ruined building, crashing onto the street and sprinting straight at me.

    I still couldn't comprehend how they could move so damn fast with such short legs. Clenching my teeth with the pain, I began to half run, half limp away as they bared down on me. I couldn't go any faster; I was beyond exhausted, in agony. They'd got me; I was done. They'd won.

    I stopped, stumbling to keep myself from collapsing and bent over, gasping like I'd never gasped before and fought back the urge to puke.

    I closed my eyes and waited for the death blow.

    So this is it? Said my voice in my mind. After all this struggle, and you're just giving up?

    "I can't go any further, I can't," I gasped out loud. "It's too hard, too hard."

    Really? Emperor, you're frigging pathetic! Everyone is counting on you; hell, this whole planet is counting on you if those things aren't stopped! Just four hundred meters to go! You've come this far; you can go a little further.


    But nothing! Go now! Or you will die and then everyone else with you! Karmen! Castella! Torris! Garrakson! Everyone, they'd all go that extra mile for you, Attelus; hell, all you have to go is just another four hundred metres for them! People like you and care for you, Attelus; show them that you care for them too!

    Slowly, shakily I forced myself to stand straight and opened my eyes, looking up at the crimson clouds, feeling the blood rain hit my face and soak my hair.

    "This is for you, Karmen, for everyone," I said, then suddenly fell into a sprint, and I could feel the rush of air as what was to be the killing attack missed me by a hair's breadth.

    I roared as I ran with wild abandon, I knew that one slight misstep, one slight slip, would send me smashing against the rockcrete and to my death, but I kept going, the entrance to the church coming closer and closer. I could feel the daemons behind me but never looked back. I didn't dare.

    Many thoughts flew through my mind as I sprinted down that long street, wondering what exactly was behind those doors? What was this conduit? How was I going to destroy it? So much I didn't know, so many questions, yet here I was blindly running into this with no plan, nothing. Even if I made it into the church, I still had a long way to go.

    Never had I done this before; I'd always have some plan, some knowledge. The idiom 'knowledge is power' is a cliche for a reason, and I'd always adhere to it. Not just because of Glaitis' teachings, but my father also drilled it into me as a boy. Wars were won and lost because of which side had better knowledge. But that was it! I was used to working for the one who knew the most, the one that could out plan and outmanoeuvre everyone, yet here we were, caught on the back foot by someone with not just the better knowledge and planning but the better army, the better everything.

    Edracian had outmanoeuvred us, played us like Regicide pieces. He'd driven us to desperation and beyond. We were no longer fighting for any kind of victory anymore but our very survival. There was only one thing we could do, improvise, and it was all up to me, little, exhausted, beaten and battered me.

    I'd never had to bear such a burden, such a responsibility before; I'd killed, sure. But I had never made the big decisions. Decisions that truly affected the lives of thousands or hundreds or even dozens of others.

    Taking that pict, perhaps, but I was yet to see the consequences of that.

    I was going into this now without prior knowledge, without prior planning, without Glaitis' guidance. I doubted that Karmen could help me either. But this is reality; the big decisions are usually made when one has nothing to prepare them for. Now I finally, truly understood what it was to be a Glaitis, a Taryst or even an Edracian.

    A leader.

    Finally, after what felt like forever, I made it to the steps to the church and began to bound up them, two at a time.

    I risked a glance over my shoulder; the daemons were close, no more than six metres behind, but I'd gained ground, much to my surprise.

    One jumped, leaping with inhuman strength and flew at me like a bullet. I dived to the side as it smashed into the rockcrete sending bits of rubble showering everywhere and grey dust into the air.

    The first came up the stairs punching at me, forcing me to kneel and duck underneath.

    I clenched my teeth; I was so close only to be caught and killed now?

    They were like a wall as they bounded after me, a wall of snarling, snapping jaws, of countless claws, flying, sweeping and uppercutting at me. I slowed to a crawl as I desperately swayed, ducked and sidestepped, stumbling through attack after attack, my heart in my throat as even the slightest misstep on those slippery, bloody steps would cause my instantaneous death.

    After Emperor only knows how long of utter desperation and fear, I found the top of the steps, flat ground.

    I didn't hesitate. I spun and started to run, straight toward the doors.

    My heart lunging in my throat, I sprinted across the long expanse, expecting in any second the death blow to hit me in the back. But it never came.

    I barely managed to slow enough to keep myself from running full tilt into the ornate doors.

    Without daring to look back, I grabbed hold of the door and, hoping beyond hope it wasn't locked, pulled with all my remaining strength. Much to my pleasant surprise, it opened without resistance but what I found made me hesitate.

    I faced another wall of pitch black, exactly like the one that'd surrounded Brutis' building. I looked over my shoulder, seeing one of the daemons bearing down on me as it drew back its arm.

    With a sigh, I drew my sword, turned and plunged straight into the black.

    At first, I ran through the blackness, I ran and ran, but it went on and on. Soon I couldn't go any further. I had to come to a halt and look back. Much to my surprise, there was nothing, just more black behind me.

    I activated my power sword and readied it weakly while trying to stop my insistent gasping. Just because I couldn't see them didn't mean they weren't there, silently stalking me through the darkness.

    For a long time, I stood, glancing around like a madman to find some trace, any trace of them, their absence was just more terrifying than if they were there.

    Stop standing around, my mind said. There isn't enough time for you to indulge your rampant paranoia!

    I clenched my teeth, knowing it was the truth, but I seemed unable to make myself move; I was barely able even to stand.

    Think about this, you idiot; if they were there, they'd have killed you by now, keep moving, frig it!

    "What, what if they're out there and just toying with me?" I stammered.

    Really? I don't think they have the intellect to do that, do you?

    "Who knows, perhaps they do. Perhaps they actually do have the intellect and have been pretending to be like mindless beasts to trick me into that assumption, so it'd lull me into a false sense of security. Perhaps..."

    Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, interrupted the voice. The daemons. Aren't. There! Right now, all your friends are fighting for their lives! They may be dying out there or even already dead! The more time you waste standing around, perhapsing like an idiot, the more likely that Karmen will be dead, or Castella! Or everyone! Get moving!

    I closed my eyes and gripped my sword.


    But nothing! Go!

    I sighed and turned forward; anyone else may've became lost there and then, but my instinct carried me innately on.

    The voice was right; again, I'd hesitated, allowed myself to give in, put my friend's lives at risk. The darkness was doing this; the first played on my fear, this on my paranoia.

    Fear? Paranoia? Were they really that different?

    I furrowed my brow and limped on, but then a thought suddenly hit me.

    Friends, I'd just called them friends, by the Emperor; how long has it been since I've called anyone a friend?

    How long? I didn't know I couldn't recall, and even if I had, was it as genuine as just then? Castella, Torris, Garrakson, Tresch, perhaps even Darrance and Vex. Friends.

    And here I was, standing around of my pathetic insecurities when all their lives were on the line. I clenched my teeth and furrowed my brow, then burst into a sprint.

    I emerged into the church, the abruptness of it causing me to stumble and almost lose my balance.

    I was standing at the entrance, looking down the main aisle leading to the altar, the many rows of pews were empty, and the blood-red light was in here too. The same crimson clouds covered the ceiling as the underhive outside. Strangely, despite the outward appearance of disrepair, everything here seemed in pristine condition. Statues of various saints lined the walls, some in the attire of warriors wearing armour of multiple makes, their weapons slung and sheathed. Some in the garments of civilians, some women, some men, but all kneeled in prayer.

    Standing behind the altar was what I guessed to be the 'conduit.' A thick, half a metre tall black pillar that seemed made of marble. From its tip, it spewed a swirling whirling mass of black and red that intertwined into the air like a hurricane.

    "You, you must be the conduit," I gasped and began to limp my way toward it, but the slow, mocking clapping made me stop in my tracks.

    "Well done, well done. He did say you would make it," said a figure as he stepped out of the shadows, still clapping slowly, mockingly.

    He was tall, thin and lean and wore a flak jacket. His head was shaven, and he smiled at me through sickeningly sharpened teeth. "I'm impressed you managed to make it this far, young, Mr, Kaltos. I didn't believe him. I guess I'll never question anything he says ever again,"


    The man grinned widely and bowed deeply. "Why the one and only."

    Sudden rage overtook me, and with a roar, I found myself charging down the long aisle with reckless abandon.

    He smiled, swayed under my slash and spun sideward, out of reach of my blade.

    "Ohh, Mr Kaltos, is that the way to greet the one who saved you?"

    "Where is she, you bastard!" I snarled.

    "Who? Ohh, you mean your little girlfriend, right? The Elandria girl? Why do you care? She's now a corpse."

    Bellowing out, I slid the distance and struck down my sword, but Feuilt backpedalled easily out the way.

    "Tsk, tsk so touchy."

    "You bastard, tell me where the hell she is, now!" I roared.

    "Or what?" sneered Feuilt. "You're going to continue waving your little sword about like a little girl? If you really want to know, Mr Kaltos. I don't actually know; the corpse was taken off-world, into the warp, she's gone, long gone. Deal with it."

    I looked at him, gaping like an idiot. "Taken off-world? But, but why?"

    "I don't know!" He exclaimed. "And if I did, do you seriously think I'd tell you? My master wanted the corpse frozen and somewhere other than Omnartus. That's all I know, and that's all you're going to get."

    I clenched my jaw and glared at him balefully. Everything is all your fault, you smug son of a bitch, I thought.

    "Oh, that's right," said Feuilt. "I almost forgot."

    He suddenly moved and punched me hard in the face. I reeled back in pain, then his kick smashed into my guts, causing me to bend double forward and briefly off my feet, then collapsing to my knees, coughing and winded.

    "That's right, I'm here to stop you from destroying the Conduit, aren't I?" he said. "And I'm sorry, Mr Kaltos, you have fulfilled your purpose, now you're expendable. You can die."

    From under his jacket, Feuilt drew a powerblade and activated it.

    I slowly climbed to my feet and smiled, pointing my sword at him.

    "I still have a purpose, Feuilt, and that's why I won't die. Not here, not now." Then I turned and ran for the pillar.

    My eyes widened, and my teeth clenched as he was suddenly in front of me and slashing his power sword. Desperately I leapt away, the crackling blade, missing by me less than a millimetre. Feuilt followed on with a stab at my chest that I just managed to sidestep but was forced to block his third, a vertical, downward cut.

    He didn't pull back but applied pressure, and quickly I found my arms buckling under his superior strength and weight. I knew I couldn't hold out, so I kicked at his groin, forcing him to bound back.

    "Uh uh uh," he said. "You already forgot what I said, didn't you? I said, 'I'm here to stop you from destroying the Conduit,' and that, 'you can die.' I used the wrong word there; I meant, 'you will die.' So why can't you just give up and make this more comfortable for the both of us?"

    With a growl, I lunged, cutting at his skull. Feuilt ducked then slid suddenly onto my side, and scarcely I managed to parry his thrust. With a laugh, Feuilt slashed, causing me to stumble out the way.

    I stabbed back, but Feuilt parried it with ease, and roundhouse kicked me in the back.

    Staggering, gasping with the pain, I turned just in time to block his low horizontal slash then sway just out the way of his following thrust.

    Clenching my teeth and swallowing back the bile rising in my mouth, I countered and sliced diagonally at his legs. Feuilt only laughed and danced over it, then smashed away my next cut. Undeterred, I carried on my offence, next slashing vertically upward, which Feuilt back stepped. I followed with a stab that he sidestepped, then a horizontal blow he ducked.

    Feuilt slipped out the way of my front kick and spun into a lightning-fast slash that forced me to lean back like mad; luckily, he was wielding a short blade; if it were just a few centimetres longer, I would've lost my head.

    He stabbed next, and I parried, countering by cutting over his arms, toward his skull. Like water, Feuilt weaved away, but my blade barely missed. I'd almost got the bastard.

    "I see you have some fight left, Attelus," said Feuilt, standing out of range, sounding almost genuinely impressed.

    "I, I have fight as long I as still need to fight," I gasped.

    Feuilt smirked. "Of course you do."

    I readied my sword as suddenly, Feuilt charged but was utterly unprepared as he abruptly kicked my feet out from under me.

    My back slammed hard against the stone floor, causing me to gasp in pain and the world to spin.

    But yet I still brought up my blade to stop Feuilt's descending sword before it cleaved my head in half.

    "Sorry, but It will take more than just 'fight' to win, Mr Kaltos," snarled Feuilt in my face as my shaking arms rapidly began buckle and give.

    'Yes," I agreed, then spat bloody phlegm straight into his eye. "But fight isn't all that I have left."

    Feuilt screamed in agony and reeled off me, clutching at his face while I slowly clambered to my feet.

    "You bastard!" he screamed. "You frigging little bastard!"

    Just as I was up, Feuilt was on me, attacking like a madman. My heart thundering, I managed to back peddle just out the way.

    Roaring like a crazed animal, he rallied and sliced down at my skull, which I barely sidestepped, and his sword cut into the stone floor.

    A sudden terror overtook me, and I stumbled into a run from my sidestep, running for the right side aisle.

    "Come back here, you little frig stain!" screamed he and Feuilt started after me. "Come back so I can gut you like a fish!"

    I made it to the aisle, turning right, the praying statues of the saints towering over me as I ran past them.

    Laughing insanely while simply walking after me, Feuilt began to slash his power sword into each statue as he came to them, decapitating or slicing their torsos.

    "You keep running, you little idiot," he snarled. "Keep on running! You'll just make it easier for me! I can do this all day! Keep running like the pathetic coward you are!"

    I slid to a stop and turned to face him, my jaw clenched, and I gripped my sword's hilt harder.

    "Oh! The boy has some balls after-"

    Feuilt was interrupted as I charged, stabbing my sword toward his face. He ducked and slashed out wildly at my chest, a blow I back stepped and which wound up slicing straight through one of the pews—sending large shards of burnt wood in every direction. Laughing like a maniac, he parried my counter thrust and punched me in the face, sending me writhing back, dazed and hurting.

    Desperately I hurled myself to the floor in a bid to dodge Feuilt's inevitable follow-on and clumsily clambered toward the middle aisle.

    I turned and watched as he approached me, grinning insanely from ear to ear and cutting chaotically into the pews on his sides.

    "What the hell has come over you," I murmured as I climbed to my feet.

    "Nothing has come over me!" he screamed, stopping his advance, throwing back his head and cackling maniacally. "This is me! The true me that I've kept hidden for years! Oh, how liberating to release myself from that prison finally. To be able to show the world who I truly am!"

    "You're insane," I growled; I couldn't keep this up for much longer. I could barely keep my feet as my knees constantly wanted to buckle from under me; every inch of me hurt like a bastard. I had to fight my churning stomach continually and the horrid need to vomit.

    "Am I?" he exclaimed. "Or am I the one who is truly sane? Master Edracian is going to change this world, Attelus. This universe, for the better! He's going to destroy the primitive stupidity of the Imperium of Man and replace it with a far greater one! One that knows its place! One that will worship the almighty gods of chaos as it should! As humanity truly needs!"

    I spat on the floor. "I don't know what the hell humanity truly needs, but it sure as hell doesn't need to worship chaos."

    Feuilt somehow grinned wider and pivoted his head to an almost unnatural angle. "Then the master is right; you truly are a fool who deserves to die."

    The next millisecond he was sprinting and slashing. I weakly parried then stabbed back, but he merely weaved out the way.

    Feuilt struck, cutting down, a blow which I drunkenly stumbled away from.

    He grinned. "You're pathetic," he said, then kicked me straight in the chest.

    I flew for Emperor only knows how long, but it felt like forever. When I finally hit the ground, I rolled, head over heels, finished on my front then my face smashed hard against the stone. Horrendous agony speared through my head, and I saw stars. But despite being dazed and woozy, I was able to realise I no longer held my sword quickly.

    Fighting my weak, flimsy limbs, I began to crawl to my feet as quickly as I could, glancing around in search of my sword. All the while, the laughing Feuilt slowly approached.

    I finally found my sword, deactivated and lay amongst the bits of destroyed statues down the left side pew.

    Finding I didn't have even enough strength to stand. I began to slowly crawl toward it, blood running thickly down my face from my forehead into my eyes.

    "Still not giving up!" Feuilt yelled. "I swear by the ruinous powers, you're the most stubborn little worm I've ever met!"

    I made it to the end of the pew, and with numbed fingers, grasped my sword; Using it as a lean-to to climb onto my knees.

    Feuilt stood at the other end of the pew, shaking his head with contempt.

    "My master, the great Edracian, he knew you would make it here," he said as he started to walk. "He knew you would somehow scarper through all the daemons, and yet he ordered me, and only me to guard the Conduit. Now, the only reason and the only I can think of was that he knew, he knew without a shadow of a doubt that I'd protect it, that I would win! That I was superior to you in every conceivable way!"

    I really wanted to say, 'perhaps he thought you were expendable' but wisely refrained.

    "If only you could see yourself!" he roared. "Battered, beaten, exhausted! Pathetic! You wouldn't stand a chance against me even at full strength! You're nothing! Nothing! Give up! What can you possibly, do!"

    "Improvise," I hissed and desperately threw the piece of a statue I'd been holding behind my back.

    It hit him right between the eyes with a sickening crack! Immediately I was running; all the while Feuilt was screaming, rocking back in pain, I impaled him through the chest.

    Feuilt gasped; his eyes widened with shock and surprise.

    With one tug, I tore out my sword, and Feuilt collapsed limply to his knees. His sword fell from his grasp and clattered onto the floor.

    I picked up his sword and started to stagger toward the Conduit.

    "You really are your father's son," coughed Feuilt, which caused me to stop in my tracks, my eyes wide with surprise.

    "What?" I stammered. "You know my father?"

    Feuilt gurgled out what sounded like laughter. "Of course, everyone in our line of work knows Serghar Kaltos. But most only know of Serghar Kaltos. I knew him, he, he-"

    Feuilt was interrupted by a coughing fit, and I could see blood splattering onto the floor in front of him.

    "Your father, Serghar Kaltos he taught me everything I know."

    I stood shocked, unable to come up with a coherent reply.

    "Now, I understand why Edracian made me guard the Conduit alone. I now see why. Attelus, you must see Inquisitor Edracian isn't what he seems to be, he's, not what you think, he's, he's..."

    Feuilt never got to finish his sentence as suddenly he went completely limp and fell onto his face.

    I stood for a few seconds, trying to process Feuilt's words. Was he lying? Perhaps, but something in me just knew he was telling the truth.

    While shaking away the confusion, I turned and approached the conduit. I knew that in any second, I'd collapse and lose consciousness.

    I activated Feuilt's powersword and, with all my remaining strength, struck the stone. Feuilt's blade cut through it with surprising ease. The black and red hurricane flickered a few times, then disappeared and the blood light with it.

    I dropped to my knees and smiled, then fell onto my side while my tired eyes flickered open and shut repeatedly.

    "You owe me, you bastards," I said, then everything went black.

    My eyes almost immediately opened, and a blinding light met me in my eyes which caused me to squint and raise my forearm to cover my face. Warmth suddenly flooded my limbs, and the pain of my injuries was gone. Then I heard the sound of singing birds, the very familiar sound of a particular bird that I haven't heard in a long time.

    I suddenly sat up straight as the realisation hit me, finding myself in the familiar backyard of a very familiar house. On my left was a small, one-story building made of plasterboards painted a welcome white and the roof; corrugated, grey painted metal. A trench was dug into the bank, which weaved around the house like a pathway. The yard sloped slightly with the hill and was about a good seven or eight metres wide before it finished into the thick bush that covered the valley all around.

    It was my old home, where I lived in northern Velrosia as a child before moving south to Varander. By the Emperor, I missed this place sometimes, back when life was simpler. For me anyway, now I knew that my father was struggling, barely scraping enough money to pay the rent, to survive. My father had very few skills outside of killing. Still, one, he worked as a house painter, an excellent painter but was underpaid; that was one of the many reasons why he'd left me with my mother when I was a toddler so that he could support us with his far better income; from his 'assassinations.'

    Until he came back when I was four and found...

    I shuddered; I didn't ever want to remember that. There was a good reason why my mother and I didn't get along, and it wasn't just because of our opposing ideologies.

    The sound of soft footsteps approaching my back made me suddenly straighten, turn, reach for my sheathed sword and stand.

    The Eldar, Faleaseen, towered over me, still in her esoteric form-fitting armour. Still, her helmet was off now, showing her attractive, thin face, her large eyes gazing down at me with amusement, her thin lips curled in a contemptuous, slight smile.

    "Oh," I said, but not moving out of my combat stance and keeping my hand on my sword. "It's you."

    Faleaseen frowned. "I searched your memories for a place you held dear and thought I would reward your efforts with it. You do not sound terribly appreciative."

    I frowned back; the way she said it was like an owner giving a small treat to their pet canine.

    "Uhh, thanks," I sighed and sat back down. I was strangely feeling the need to meditate, even though I'd never meditated in my life. This place made me feel extraordinarily at peace. It wasn't my backyard but an extremely idealised version, I knew. I'd remembered it almost always was overcast or a cold wind blowing; very rarely would there be a perfect day like this.

    "I don't need a reward," I said as I reached into my jacket for my Lhos. "What I need is to know whether my friends have survived."

    Quickly, I found my Lhos were still gone and grinned guiltily up at the Farseer. "Uhh, maybe one reward would be good."

    The Farseer groaned, and with a wave, a packet of Lhos was abruptly in my grasp.

    "And uhh, a light too would be good."

    With another groan and wave of her hand, I had an igniter.

    "Thanks," I said genuinely, then with finger and thumb, slipped a Lho between my teeth, lit it and took a very long inhale, then exhaled with great relish.

    "What is the saying that you Mon'keigh have?" said Faleaseen. "Simple things..."

    "For simple minds, yes, yes, I know, I know," I said, blowing out more smoke and enjoying the warmth in my lungs. "You got any idea what happened to my friends?"

    "Yes, I do but not as of right now," replied Faleaseen, and I could detect an undercurrent of anger in her tone. Or was it frustration? Which was interesting.

    "I am limited at this point in time," she said, and I waited for her to continue her sentence, but she didn't.


    "Yes, limited, human, you do not need to know more."

    "Of course I don't," I sighed, inhaled again, then exhaled and shrugged to myself, well, I was 'human' now. I guessed that was better than "Mon'keigh," which now I thought about it, sounded somewhat similar to "monkey."

    Faleaseen ignored my sarcasm or didn't seem to notice it and began to pace in front of me, her hands clasped behind her back.

    "You are aware this is far from over, Mon'keigh?" she said.

    I sighed out smoke again; well, I was back to being 'Mon'keigh' now.

    "I never thought it wasn't; Edracian is still out there, somewhere; Feuilt was only a lackey. Which interested me."

    "Why? Because Inquisitor Edracian did not have more forces to guard the conduit?" Said Faleaseen.

    "Hmm, yess," I said, my finger and thumb stroking my thin chin. "You'd think something so important would be more guarded, wouldn't you?"

    "Unless it was not actually that important," said Faleaseen. "What if it was not that important to the larger scheme?"

    "Or perhaps, perhaps he just underestimated us?" I suggested. "Let his ego get the better of him?"

    The Farseer's face scrunched in contempt, and she shook her head.

    "I am utterly sure that is not the case. A useless suggestion."

    "What? Why?"

    "It is no matter; it just is, Mon'keigh."

    I sighed heavily and rubbed my closed eyes. Remembering the conversation I'd heard between the Farseer and Glaitis while asleep. Glaitis' frustration was incredibly uncharacteristic, and now I understood why.

    "Okay, I'm sorry, I just thought it'd be a potentially plausible explanation."

    "Well, it is not, now move on, Mon'keigh."

    "Okay, okay, can I ask you a question?"

    "It depends upon the question."

    I waited for her to tell me to ask it, but Faleaseen just stared down at me.

    I sighed yet again and asked anyway, "what exactly did you do to my body?

    "I replaced your pathetic, broken bone structure with a material my people call, Wraithbone. Many, many cycles ago, I was once quite the Bonesinger. I had travelled a long way through the webway to save your insignificant little life. You should appreciate what I did more."

    Exhaling more smoke, I glared at her.

    "But why?"

    "Why? I would rather risk you and your entire race than even one of my fellow Eldar and me. That's what you Mon'keigh are, simple tools, tools for us to exploit. Let us say that your enemy, Inquisitor Edracian, is my enemy also."

    I clenched my jaw and shook my head, so I'm again, just a tool, a slave of this, Farseer. I've just traded one master for another? Faleaseen, she must've placed something in me that'd make sure I'd be utterly obedient to her. The old axiom 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend,' was true until that original enemy was defeated and then what?

    "I have foreseen what may happen if the Inquisitor's plans come into fruition, my Craftworld will be affected by it, but if my people directly intervened, it would cause worse destruction beyond your furthest imagination. That is why I am using you and Glaitis as my agents."

    "So, if you can foresee so far forward, why did you let us get caught off guard?" I growled.

    Faleaseen sneered with disgust. "Because my sight is blocked, I have followed your fates countless times, and I can only see yours up to your confrontation with the Elandria girl; everything else is a blank."

    I barely held back a smile; I could see her frustration and anger as clear as day. She'd been outmanoeuvred by Edracian as well. Being outdone by a simple 'Mon'keigh' must've hit her ego hard.

    Faleaseen studied me with a furrowed brow, and I wondered if she was reading my every thought.

    Shrugging, I said, "do you know exactly what Edracian's plans are?"

    The Farseer closed her large eyes and breathed deeply through her nose.

    "Again, I do not know. All that I can ascertain is that he is collecting souls. Billions of Mon'keigh souls from the planets he has destroyed, to a place that I cannot find. For a purpose that could be countless in potential."

    My eyes widened. "Souls?"

    "Indeed, that is yet another reason why I am keeping my warriors from direct intervention as I fear the consequences if he got hold of any Eldar soul stones."

    I frowned; I didn't really believe in 'souls' I'd always figured when we died, there'd be nothing but blackness. Despite what the church taught us.

    "For you, Mon'Keigh, it is most certainly 'blackness'," said Faleaseen, making me blink. "Your souls are too weak to endure long in the warp before losing conscious thought entirely. Us Eldar can endure, but, for, but for."

    Faleaseen trailed off and glanced around, almost guilty. "But I will not say anything more on that subject."

    Well, this was different, the secret of life after death, a mystery that mankind has been searching for, for countless upon countless generations revealed to me by this Farseer as simply as a scholar-teacher stating how to pronounce the vowels of low gothic to five-year-olds. Of course, she could be lying.

    Faleaseen just smirked.

    "Do you know what's happening?" I asked. "I mean to me, in the real world?"

    She rolled her eyes and sighed. "Of course I do; you are being transported via vehicle back to that puppet Taryst's tower. I am speeding up your metabolism to make your body heal faster. Soon the main conflict will arise, and I will need you amongst it."

    "Y-you can do that?"

    She smiled, "I can do much to you. Wraithbone is a psycho conductive material; you are, effectively, a conduit for my psychic power and only my psychic power, which I can use on you when even thousands of light-years away. This is why I am able to talk with you now."

    "Can you tell me who's alive? What about Karmen? Is she okay?"

    "The Karmen woman is fine if that gives you any solace. She is searching for the source of the psyker she battled. That may be where Inquisitor Edracian located."

    I sighed, then my suspicious attention shot back to her.

    "How do you know all this?"

    Faleaseen sighed. "I guess I should tell you this, as you may need to know, Karmen Kons is also one of my agents."

    I gaped, my eyes widened, and my heart sank, but quickly everything began to make sense, the how and why Karmen knew what she knew. But why didn't she tell me? Why did she lie to me?

    "Does-does Glaitis know that Karmen works for you?"

    "No, she does not; the reason why Glaitis did not kill Karmen Kons when she had the chance was that I ordered her not to. I foresaw the one called Estella Erith's involvement in the events leading to this and made sure she was here at the right time. She was once a member of an Inquisitor's retinue, but my warriors and I ambushed them during one of their missions. Killed her comrades, and I took her in. Taught her the true strengths of her psychic potential, then placed her under Taryst's employee. If only I foresaw the Feuilt's betrayal or your kidnapping, then this would not have come to pass."

    "There, there really is no such thing as coincidence," I gasped, wondering just how much of my life the Farseer had influenced behind the scenes.

    "Wise words, I will concede," said Faleaseen.

    "A wise Axiom, I'd say," I said while sighing out more smoke. "Especially for me."

    Faleaseen smiled. "Indeed, so."

    Quickly I climbed to my feet, flicked away the stub of my Lho stick, slipped my hands into their pockets, then walked past Faleaseen and looked around.

    "Well, I've gotta say you did a bloody good job of recreating my old home," I said.

    "Of course I did," said Faleaseen. "Would you expect anything less from me?"

    "I don't pretend ever to know what to expect from you," I said and clutched my hands behind my back.

    To my complete surprise, Faleaseen suddenly burst out in laughter.

    "Perhaps, perhaps there is hope for you yet, Attelus Kaltos."

    I wasn't sure what to make of that comment.

    "You wouldn't know who else made it?" I said.

    "Despite everything, everyone you know survived," said Faleaseen. "The main casualties were the criminals under Brutis Bones and the Magistratum agents under Arlathan Karkin; only a very few survived, less than a fourth of their original numbers."

    As much as I was glad to hear that my friends were all okay, those Hammers and Magistratum enforcers were innocent; they didn't deserve the fates dealt them.

    "Do not feel sorry for them; they are mere insects, nothing more."

    I glared over my shoulder at her, disgusted yet unsurprised.

    Faleaseen sighed. "There are billions of Mon'keigh infesting the galaxy; losing another thousand or a million more is not going to make any difference. They are dead; there is nothing left you can do for them; move on. You have much more to go through before this is finished."

    "Do you have any compassion?" I asked earnestly. "Don't you feel a little bit sorry for those people?"

    "No, I do not," stated Faleaseen coldly. "All things die eventually, without exception. Those killed by the daemons would have died later under some other circumstance at a later date no matter what you do. They were destined to die and be pointless in the larger scheme of fate. Be grateful you are not one of them."

    I sighed yet again and placed the palm of my hand on my face.

    "Yeah, well, now I'm exceptionally grateful," I said. "I couldn't be any more grateful; in fact, I'm so grateful if I was anymore grateful, I'd explode. That's how truly, greatly grateful I am."

    "I am not unaware of sarcasm, Mon'keigh."

    "I never thought you were, Farseer," I snapped.

    Faleaseen shook her head and folded her arms across her chest.

    "You should be grateful because you lived over them; you survived to be able to stop more of your kind from dying. Not one of them were as capable as you for stopping Edracian's plans," said Faleaseen.

    "What?" I said with a shrug. "You stroking my ego now?"

    "No, Attelus Kaltos," said Faleaseen. "I am stating the truth, an irrefutable fact."

    "What makes me so special? I'm not any better than any of them; any human is capable of doing great things, and who knows? Perhaps if I died and someone had taken my place, any one of those Hammers, they may've done a far better job? Perhaps Edracian would be dead and this whole debacle over months ago?"

    "Now you are just speaking rubbish, I have foreseen..."

    "But you haven't foreseen crap!" I interrupted. "You admitted something is blocking your farsight any further! So how do you know!"

    "It is because I am here to guide you, and without my direct guidance, no one would have a chance."

    "Direct guidance, bull gak!" I snapped. "You haven't guided me through crap!"

    Faleaseen just smiled.

    Then it hit me. "Wait, that wasn't Karmen helping me; it was you, wasn't it?"

    "Yes, it was me, I thought at the time; you would be more willing to co-operate if it was her."

    I clenched my jaw and bawled my hands into fists as anger raged through me.

    "Yes, I deceived you, you should be used to that by now, but if I had not, you wouldn't be alive now, dead along with those pathetic beings you care so much for; what is that saying? 'The ends justifies the means'. I would certainly say it did in this case."

    "I bet you'd say it would in every case," I replied.

    Faleaseen laughed again and smiled. "You are truly an entertaining little Mon'keigh, are you not?"

    'So, what now?" I sighed.

    "Karmen will return, soon with the information needed,"

    "You think she'll succeed?"

    "She will; her skills are beyond that of a normal human psyker," said Faleaseen. "I have taught her everything she knows."

    I frowned, and my attention fell to the ground hoping like hell that the Farseer was right.

    "Any other questions?"

    "No," I said and shook my head. "Just please, please don't pretend to be Karmen like that ever again. I will do whatever you tell me; just don't deceive me like that. I've already been tricked and manipulated in my life enough."

    Faleaseen smiled. "I understand, Attelus Kaltos. I will from henceforth refrain from such manipulations. I will just resort to psychic torture to get you to do what I want."

    I looked at her with wide, terrified eyes.

    Faleaseen bellowed out laughter. "I am joking! I am joking! Do not look so scared! Anyway, I think it is time for your awakening!"

    Almost immediately, the bush, the valley around me, began to phase away into white.

    Her 'joking' didn't give me any comfort, no comfort at all.

    With a sharp gasp, I awoke and glanced about, finding myself strapped down to a gurney in a medicae vehicle. Karmen lay on another gurney next to me, her face still bandaged, and to my relief, her chest was rising and falling as she breathed.

    "You're awake," came a voice behind me, and I craned my neck up to see the medicae who worked for Brutis Bones. The old man stood near the door to the driver's area, holding onto the side table to keep his feet. I'd already forgotten his name.

    "Well, yes. I am aware of that," I said while moving in my bonds as best as I could. Finding there was no aches or pains, or anything, I was fine.

    +I cannot do this often, Mon'keigh,+ Faleaseen's voice cut through my thoughts. +Healing you and directly communicating with you. It takes too much of my energy. I'm afraid I must leave you, for now.+

    I sniffed loudly and frowned, not at all upset about her departure. Assuming, of course, she wasn't lying and was now just watching me to see what I'd do when thinking she wasn't. There were many, many questions left unanswered with the meeting I had with her. I'd say it'd caused more than before. Much, much more.

    The medicae smiled and shook his head. "Yes, yes, I'm sure you are." Please, please don't struggle so much, your injuries..."

    "Are fine," I interrupted. "I'm fine. Can you tell me what's going on?"

    "I'm not sure, from what I know, it seems Brutis Bones and one of your colleagues have brokered an alliance, and as we speak, we are travelling to Taryst's tower," said the medicaes. "I was told that you have a proper medical facility where I could treat you and the woman properly."

    "There is, but I'm fine, I swear," I said. "Now, can you let me free?"

    Without any word, the medicae suddenly approached, pulled out a small medical auspex and scanned me over.

    "Hmm," then he looked at my hands. I still wore the torn, destroyed gloves, but the blood had dried and the wounds closed.

    "I-I don't quite understand; how did you heal so quickly?"

    "I don't know," I whined; I was starting to feel anxious now. "Can you let me free, please?"

    "I have never seen anything like this before," said the medicae, seemingly ignoring me. "Maybe I should run a few tests."

    "Let me out!" I roared, struggling harder against the restraints and began to hyperventilate with panic. "Let me out now, you son of a bitch!" I roared.

    "You must understand, young Mr Kaltos, that I've never seen this before. It's unnatural; you're unnatural."

    A cold shiver of fear crept up my spine as his use of 'Mr Kaltos' reminded me unnervingly of Feuilt.

    "I am a medicae, and as a medicae, it is my duty to decipher and understand human anatomy. It is also my duty to find any mutation, any deviance in our genetic structure, and find out in great detail the how and why. And then whether this deviation is potentially a threat to the Imperium of mankind and, believe me, according to the teachings, it almost always is."

    I looked up at him, wide-eyed. "So? What? You're just going to cut me open now!"

    The medicae frowned, shook his head, then, much to my surprise, suddenly opened my restraints.

    "No, no, I am not," he sighed. "I was told about what you did, what you went through to stop the daemons. I could also tell after examining your injuries. I owe you, we all owe you; I will spare you in exchange for that. I will also not inform Inquisitor Tybalt of your unnatural healing. I'm sorry I lead you on like that, but I needed you to know how hard this is for me."

    I sat up on the gurney. "Th-thank you."

    The relief I felt was beyond belief. This medicae was putting his life on the line to protect me, and I couldn't even remember his name, yet I still thought; he was going to tell someone eventually anyway, whether it was through interrogation or some other circumstance. Perhaps the best thing I could do was arrange for him to have 'an accident,' make sure he'd never tell.

    I clenched my teeth and shook away the thought.

    "There is no need to thank me; it is the very least I owe you," said the medicae. "Just please, do not make me regret it."

    "I won't," I stammered, trying to keep the guilt from my voice and quickly changed the subject. "How is she?"

    The medicae frowned. "She is stabilised; she will live."

    I sighed and looked down at Karmen. "Do you, do you think she'll be able to use false flesh to cover the scars?"

    "Yes, I think she can," he said. "She is a lovely woman; it is a complete tragedy to see such beauty destroyed."

    I couldn't contend a reply as the horrific image of Karmen tearing her face apart flashed through my mind. I closed my eyes to hold back the sudden tears and clenched my jaw. By the Emperor, I wished I could forget that. I wished I could've stopped her sooner.

    "Are you alright, Mr Kaltos?"

    "Yeah, I'm okay." I sighed and rubbed away the tears. I was tired, damned tired; I needed a good, hot cup of recaff. "Just, really tired is all."

    The Medicae smiled and nodded. "Of course, after all, you went through. I'm not surprised."

    I rubbed my eyes again, then my stomach suddenly growled violently, and the pain of extreme hunger ripped through me.

    "And hungry," I added. I'd eaten just before we'd left for Brutis Bone's base, but that was hours ago. I'd already had a freakishly fast metabolism, even after the most substantial meals; I was hungry within an hour or two, but after Faleaseen had sped it up even more. I must be on the brink of starvation.

    "Any food in here?" I stammered desperately.

    The medicae's eyes widened briefly. "Hmm, I'm not sure, I will look for you, but I doubt it," he said, then started to search through the draws.


    Just then, I felt the medicae vehicle slow, then swerve to a stop, and I gazed through the small back window, seeing Arlathan's Magistratum van following us, and after that, one of the black limousines, we'd travelled to Brutis' base inside.

    Two faces abruptly appeared in the windows, and both back doors opened. The two orderlies jumped into the vehicle. Without sparing me a glance, they picked up Karmen's gurney and carried her out.

    Immediately I was up and running after them, into the parking lot, ignoring the Medicae yelling my name and pushing through two of Taryst's mercenaries as they approached the vehicle.

    I saw six more medicae vehicles in the undercover parking lot and around a dozen other patients wheeled toward the doors.

    At the doors, two more mercs stood holding them open, waving us through.

    I was jogging alongside Karmen's gurney, and I looked at her; she was still as limp as a corpse but still breathing.

    It was then I noticed that the two orderlies were looking at me with shocked expressions.

    I grinned, realising how strange it must've been.

    "I-I'm alright," I said. "I'll take you to the medicae area; follow me."

    They only nodded dumbly, then picking up my pace, I ran through the doors and into the white, brightly lit corridor.

    As I led them, my mind began to wander, allowing my instinct to take me to the medical area.

    So many questions, so so many, why did Edracian want to take poor Elandria's corpse off-world? And where? What would Edracian want with all those souls? Why were they going somewhere else and not to him? And again, where? Why was Feuilt sent to guard the conduit alone? Why did Karmen not tell me she also was working for Faleaseen? Did she know that Glaitis was also working for the Farseer? Also, why didn't Faleaseen communicate properly with me earlier? How was her view 'limited?' Did my father really teach Feuilt 'everything he knew?' So was Serghar Kaltos involved in this? I knew my father worked under an Inquisitor but not the Inquisitor's name; perhaps he did work under Edracian. But why wasn't I ever told this? It seems like a pretty important piece of information for me to know. If my father was here, on Omnartus, that might mean, that might mean.

    At that thought, I felt my chest tighten. My father, I haven't seen him in seven years. Seven frigging years. Was my dream going to come true? So much was foreshadowed by that dream; my fight against Elandria and the meeting of Karmen both came true. So my battle against Serghar was entirely possible, but to be able to fight on such, even terms against someone lauded as one of the greatest assassins of the sector? And not just that come out victorious? Was I already that good? I doubted that highly.

    Still, on instinct, I turned left as we came to a T junction.

    Just then, another thought hit me and hit me, frigging hard, making me stop in my tracks. If Faleaseen could pretend to be Karmen's voice in my mind, what was stopping her from pretending to be me? To make me think things I wasn't actually thinking? Like that voice that forced me to move when I almost gave up with exhaustion. Was that her? What if I was no longer me? What if I was Faleaseen just pretending to be me?

    "Uhh, you okay?" called one of the orderlies, knocking me from my train of thought. "We have to keep moving."

    Slowly, I looked over my shoulder at them, my mind a mess of fear.

    "I'm sorry," I stammered and began to make myself move, forcing the fear away. Now wasn't the time for that line of thought, not with so many lives in the balance. I couldn't continue to think like that at all. In fact, or else my sanity would undoubtedly be destroyed, I'd have to have faith that my thoughts were mine.

    I started to run again while grimacing and sticking out my tongue in disgust, 'faith,' as much as I hated that word, it was the only one I could aptly apply to it.

    As much as it was dull, repetitive and hard, I was missing the earlier months of this job; I missed the simplicity of it. I'd wished for something to happen, for it to change and advance besides moving from Hammer hideout to Hammer hideout, killing and killing. I should've been careful what I wished for.

    In silence, I led them through the building, struggling to keep my mind clear and concise from any thought.

    According to my wrist chron, It took about a minute to arrive, but it felt like a frig load longer.

    As they gave me nods and thanks, the orderlies wheeled the injured through the doors; with them were a dozen armed mercs I'd never noticed were following us, watching Karmen constantly before she disappeared from view.

    With a tired sigh, I approached the nearest seat and dumped myself onto it.

    My stomach groaned with hunger, and I had to fight the fatigue as it instantly threatened to overwhelm me.

    Placing my face into the palm of my hand and wondered, how did all this happen? How did Edracian manipulate us all so frigging well? The only plausible explanation I could think of was he could also see into the future, perhaps even better than Faleaseen. He was a psyker even though, apparently not being one before. Perhaps, he's using those souls he's collecting to make himself a psyker? That, along with what Feuilt claimed, making pacts with the ruinous powers?

    Either that or he was just an amazing planner, but that I genuinely doubted, to outmanoeuvre an Eldar Farseer, to be able to pull through such a convoluted scheme would need some farsight. It'd be impossible otherwise.

    My stomach growled again, making me groan. I needed food and caffeine, badly but I couldn't bring myself to leave Karmen.

    "Attelus?" came a small voice down the corridor, causing my attention to suddenly snap to its source, a young, pretty and freckled redhead girl stood looking at me curiously. She carried under her arm a folder of letters. I recognised her as one of the many, many mail delivery attendants who regularly worked throughout the building. I'd talked to her a few times before but couldn't recall her name now.

    She began to approach her large, blue eyes full of concern. "Are you okay, Attelus?" she stammered. "What's going on? I saw all the gurneys being wheeled here. I don't understand."

    I stared at her, unsure how the hell to respond; my mind reeled through many different potential answers, whether to lie or tell the truth. In the end, I decided on saying—something I'd rarely admitted to many.

    "I uh I'm sorry, but I uh have forgotten your name, I'm sorry."

    She smiled with her full lips. "My name is Adelana."

    "I'm sorry, Adelana," I stammered while shaking away the tiredness. "I just have a terrible memory for names, never been good at that."

    Adelana shrugged. "It's no problem; I forget things all the time too."

    "Well, you remembered my name," I pointed out.

    She smiled again and tapped her head. "But it's my job to remember names."

    I frowned and eyed her suspiciously, that may be true, but I knew I'd never got any mail before; she wouldn't have had to learn my name, not ever.

    "Mind if I sit?" she asked.

    "No! No, of course, I don't!" I said.

    She sat down next to me; it was then I realised she was gorgeous. Why hadn't I remembered her? Well, with all the attractive girls working here, it seemed hard to tell one from another.

    "You look terrible," she said bluntly.

    It was my turn to smile, and I rubbed my eyes. "Yeah, I could imagine. I'm tired, really, really frigging tired."

    "I can see, and I see you've been through some rough times."

    I sniggered. "Yeah, you could say that. I've been through a lot. You alright? You sure you should be sitting here talking like this?"

    She grinned. "Let's just say I'm on my break, an unofficial break, so no and yes."

    Sniggering again, I shook my head; I was really beginning to like her.

    "Hey, Adelana, can I. Can I ask you a personal question?"

    A look of bemusement crossed her face. "Uhh, sure, okay."

    "You don't smoke, do you? I could really use a smoke of Lho right now."

    "No, no, I don't," she said, smiling slightly and shaking her head. "I didn't know you smoked, Attelus."

    "I do," I said. "I really do, like a frigging chimney. Adelana, do you...Do you know what I do for a living?"

    "No," she said. "But I can guess, you always walk around with that armoured jacket on and have that sword; you're some type of mercenary? Like others here hired by Taryst. Am I correct?"

    "Yeah, yeah, you are," I said, and I couldn't help wonder what she'd think of me if she knew the truth. Of all the people I've killed, of all my manipulations and...

    I raised my eyebrow as a thought hit me. Adelana must've known about what I did to Vex, yet here she was still sitting talking to me utterly unafraid.

    "Well, I've better get going," said Adelana as she suddenly got to her feet. "My 'break' is about to end soon."

    Without thinking, my hand suddenly shot out and grabbed her by the sleeve.

    "Attelus?" She stammered.

    "Thank you," I said, "and I'm sorry."

    "Sorry? Sorry for what?"

    "I'm sorry I can't tell you more, and thank you, thank you for sitting here and talking to me despite what I did."

    She shrugged. "It's okay; I thought you looked like you needed someone to talk to; everyone needs that, despite everything."

    I smiled. "Can I walk with you?"

    "Yeah, sure, just please don't get angry and strangle me."

    My heart sank as a sudden shock of pain shivered through me, and I snatched back my hand.

    "I-I wouldn't..."

    "That's a joke; let's go. I've got to get back soon."

    I dumbly nodded and slowly pulled myself to my feet.

    She was only half-joking; she must've said it to gauge my reaction. She must've.

    We began to walk, our footsteps echoing down the corridor.

    "Where do you want to go?" she asked.

    "Uhh, to the cafeteria, I need food," I slurred.

    "Well, I'll take you there, it's a bit of a delay, but I don't mind."

    "You're sure?"

    "Yeah, don't worry about me."

    "I won't strangle you. I swear, I wouldn't."

    "I know."

    I looked back at the doors; whatever happens to Karmen will happen with or without me waiting in the corridor. I just hoped she'd be okay.

    "Whatever happens, happens," I said.

    This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 06:39:10

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    As we walked, we talked more, and she told me much about herself. She was from south Omnartus in the middle-level hive. Her mother was an administratum clerk, and her father ran an old clothing store on the upper level. She hadn't seen them for six months as she'd moved north to study for a position in the Magistratum. I wanted to say: "well there's a whole lot of openings for you now," but refrained, barely. She was working part-time here to pay for her survival. She was only nineteen but was in her second to last year of study. She was so intelligent yet humble. She said she was worried she'd fail her next test, but from her track record, I doubted that.

    She seemed normal, nice and almost...innocent. She had no idea about the real world, and I couldn't help but envy her ignorance. The more she talked, despite myself, the more I found myself getting angrier and angrier. I struggled to fight it, my jaw clenched, my hands clasped behind my back and I gripped so hard I could swear it was cutting off the circulation. I wanted to tell her everything, of all the people I'd brutally murdered, of the warp and the secrets behind this organisation. To destroy her innocence, to make her a shell of herself, just like me. She wouldn't believe me at first, no, but I'd make her believe.

    All her problems were so pathetic and minor; she'd deserve it. Make her see what real problems were.

    But I didn't, despite really, really, wanting to. Frig, it was hard, so so hard.

    Eventually, we arrived at the entrance to the cafeteria.

    "Well, here we are," she said. "I've better head back; I'm already late as it is. It's nice talking to you, Attelus."

    "Yes, it was, nice," I managed.

    "Are you okay?" she asked, sounding genuinely concerned.


    "Uh, huh! You're weird, Attelus. You know that, right? See you later," she said with a shrug, and she turned to walk away.

    "Wait," I exclaimed, causing her to stop and turn back to me.


    "I just wanted to say," I clenched my jaw and fists even harder. "I just wanted to say..."

    "What?" she was looking at me with an expression that could've been confusion, fear or both. It made me want to tell her all the more.

    "Thank you," I finally stammered.

    "It's okay, talk later," she said, then left.

    I watched her go; she did have quite a nice arse.

    I couldn't help but wonder; after all, I've been through, would I ever be able to have anything in common and sympathise with anyone 'normal' ever again?

    I didn't know, in all honesty, and didn't know if I even cared. She seemed like a caring person. Of course, that could all be crap, the last person I thought was good and caring turned out to be a psychotic traitor working for the enemy.

    If it wasn't for what I did, the hell I just went through, she'd most likely be dead now along with everyone else. Unknowingly I'd protected her, this sweet girl who sure as hell didn't deserve to be eviscerated by a daemon. If there were even one more person like her in this galaxy, perhaps it would all be worth it.

    "I'll keep doing this," I sighed. "For you, Adelana. People like you deserve to live and make what I go through, worth it. I thank you, yet again."

    I slipped into the cafeteria, ignoring the looks of two bewildered employees who were then exiting.

    If they were so weirded out by someone talking to himself, they really needed to get out more.

    After I gathered my food, corned beef with mashed potatoes and peas; I sat alone and tore it apart, eating almost as ravenously as Karmen had earlier. I tried to slow myself but couldn't find the strength to do it.

    I didn't stop even after I caught two people approaching me in the corner of my eye.

    "Here you go kid," said Garrakson as he and Torris sat across from me and he placed a pack of Lhos on the table. "You more than deserve these."

    I couldn't reply, I still had a mouthful of food.

    "Hungry, are we?" said Torris. "How's the food?"

    "As average as always," I said after swallowing. "It's...it's nice to see you two managed to make it."

    They shared a glance.

    "Thanks in no small part to you, Attelus," said Torris. "We're just surprised you're already up and about."

    "Well, I'm just full of surprises," I said. "You should know that by now."

    "Always so humble," said Garrakson while rolling his eyes.

    "Why thank you," I said before chewing into another mouthful. "It's good to hear you think so. Anyway, you guys know of Adelana? The redhead who works in the mail delivery centre?"

    Torris' large eyes widened, and he raised an eyebrow. "No, I've never heard of Adelana, the redhead who works in the mail delivery centre. Have you, Garrakson?"

    "Nope, I haven't either, Torris, in fact, I've never heard of anyone who works here with the name 'Adelana' before. Never had I even seen her name on our records."

    "Really," I said, with a furrowed brow. "Is this the best you two can come up with?"

    "No, I mean it," said Garrakson. "This isn't a joke, I swear. There was never anyone under our employ named Adelana."

    "I'm not in the mood guys," I growled.

    Torris and Garrakson shared another glance.

    "Alright, alright, we'll stop, sorry," said Garrakson. "Why are you asking about her?"

    "I uh well we, uhh."

    "Anyway, the redhead, Adelana?" said Torris. "Her now? What about Karmen? Aren't you and her in a thing already? Attelus you womaniser, you. Soon ol' Olinthre will have competition in the girl getting department."

    I felt my face flush red.

    Garrakson grinned. "Attelus, Karmen would be the very, very, very worst person to cheat on."

    "Y'know, her being a psyker and all," added Torris.

    "You two seriously think I'm that stupid?" I said. "Anyway Karmen and I are hardly in a 'thing."

    "Not in a thing? Really?" said Torris. "We all saw you kiss before, which got us wondering."

    I furrowed my brow and clenched my jaw, not liking where this was going.

    "Yeah, it has," said Garrakson. "For all, we know it should have been only the second, brief time you met and yet there you were exchanging saliva with someone you barely know, we just can't believe you're that shallow. Now tell me, Attelus, why is that?"

    My jaw clenched even harder, and I glanced at Torris and Garrakson in turn. They stared back at me, their expressions set in determination.

    What was I to do? They had me cornered, damn it. If only and Estella I had been more, subtle. I just hadn't seen her in so long; I'd missed her without even knowing it.

    I grinned nervously. "What would you say if I told you that we'd just met then, and I was, actually, that shallow?"

    "Why don't you try and find out?" said Torris grimly.

    My heart collapsed, I sighed again and shook my head; fighting back the anger at myself and Karmen. They wanted to know, and I understood that. They weren't asking for much either, but it was a secret and secrets were always hard for me to share.

    I exhaled through my nose, rubbed my temples and decided to tell them the truth, and as we know, that is the best way to lie.

    "Okay," I said. "Alright, I'll tell you the truth. I think you two truly deserve to know."

    Garrakson and Torris both exchanged surprised glances.

    "It better well is," growled Garrakson.

    "It is," I said and gave him a withering glare."It is just hard finding somewhere to start, exactly."

    "Just start from the beginning," said Garrakson, impatiently.

    "It's not that simple," I said, shaking my head.

    "Have you ever considered that it's never 'simple' because you make it complicated?" said Garrakson. "Just start from the frigging beginning, kid! I swear you're like a damn woman!"

    "It doesn't help that he looks like one," added Torris.

    "Emperor damn it, guys!" I snarled, bashing my fists on the table. "This isn't easy for me, okay? You have no frigging idea-!"

    "Then give us an idea, Attelus!" interrupted Torris. "Take some time if you need to, but you aren't leaving this room until you tell us."

    "Alright, alright, I'll start at the...start if you insist," I sighed. "I come from a small agri world in the galactic west, that borders the Halo stars. Named Elbyra. Particularly the small nation; Velrosia."

    I paused and looked at Garrakson to see what he'd do, but he gave no reaction what so ever, he just sat there, looking back at me as he picked his nose.

    "I uh," I said with a raised eyebrow. "It was seven years ago when the forces of chaos invaded Elbyra. They apparently came from the Halo stars, took us by complete surprise. Destroyed our PDF fleet and proceeded to bombard us like all hell."

    I sighed and shook my head. "My country and my city were amongst the hardest hit." I paused and wondered if what I was going to say next was because I was lucky, or something else entirely. "I only survived the initial bombardment because I was near my father's house, which had its own underground bomb shelter."

    "Wait! Wait!" said Torris. "Your father had a bomb shelter?"

    I laughed and took a sip of my water. "Yeah! You may think I'm paranoid, but my father, my father he blows me out of the water. Excuse the pun."

    Garrakson and Torris grimaced, glancing at each other again.

    "Blows you out of the water?" said Torris. "You said that in the present tense, is your father still alive?"

    I shrugged and took another bite of corned beef. "Dunno," I slurred. "Perhaps. He wasn't there at the time, he was off-world, somewhere else."

    "What happened to your mother?" said Garrakson. "Where was she? You must have been only sixteen, seventeen at the time."

    "She was at her house, maybe, at that time," I said, more deadpanned than I intended. "We'd just had a huge fight, and I wanted time alone, so I walked to my dad's place. Then the bombs began to fall. I'm pretty sure my mum's dead. After they'd stopped, I went to her place and found it in ruins, much like everything else."

    "You were, very lucky it seems," said Torris.

    I paused in my chewing, and my eyes narrowed. "Hmm, perhaps. Or unlucky, from a certain point of view."

    "I'm sorry, Attelus," said Garrakson.

    I shrugged again. "It's okay. Don't get me wrong I loved my mum, and I miss her but, I don't know, I just always feel real numb about it for some reason."

    "What were you and your mother arguing about, Attelus?" said Torris.

    I glared at him. "That bit of information is rather irrelevant, isn't it?"

    Torris shrugged. "Just wondering."

    "What happened after, Attelus?" said Garrakson, fixing Torris with a disapproving look.

    "I survived," I stated simply.

    "Yeah, we can tell that," said Torris.

    I looked down at the table and closed my eyes. "I-I don't want to go into the details. I don't want to talk about what I went through."

    Garrakson shook his head, his eyes wide. "It must've been hell, Attelus. If you don't want to talk about that, we understand."

    Torris shook his head. "No."

    Garrakson shot him a glance. "What?"

    Torris glared at me from under a hooded brow. "No, you should tell us, Attelus. You don't have to, but you should. We won't judge you, I swear. But it might be better for you if you talk about it. I worked in the Arbites for many years. I was, I think, too human for the job, so they got me to console the victims of many of the crimes we investigated. The best thing for them as if they talked about what they went through, always. Attelus, you're traumatised I can see, suffering from what could be post-traumatic stress disorder. You hide it well, but I could see that right from the start."

    I looked down at my plate and dropped my knife and fork with clangs, swallowing back the bile rising in my throat.


    "We're your friends, kid," said Torris. "Or at least I like to think we are; we're here to help."

    I shook my head and closed my eyes.

    "I've never told anyone about it before," I said. "Not even Glaitis, she never seemed even interested about it at all."

    Because she probably knew all of it already, I thought, and I couldn't remember it in any detail until recently.

    "I," I sighed. "Just promise me, swear to me that we'll still be friends, after knowing what I did, please."

    "Of course," stammered Torris. "Of course we will."

    "For the first few days I started off living off the food in my father's bunker," I said. "But much of it had caved in during the bombardment, so I ran out quickly. So I began scavenging amongst the rubble for food. But, but it was so hard to find, so so hard. But there were corpses, everywhere in the streets so I, I...had to...to."

    "Oh, God Emperor," gasped Garrakson as it hit him. "You didn't?"

    "Yeah, I did," I said, with a humourless laugh and tears in my eyes. "I was running then on pure instinct and anything and everything to win and, yeah. You could say it was lucky for me when the forces of chaos finally rolled in and for some reason, secured the ruins of Varander. From then on, I had an abundant resource for food."

    Garrakson and Torris said nothing, just gaped at me in abstract horror.

    "I would, once in a while, stalk, ambush and kill their patrols. Then steal their supplies for myself."

    "Wait!" said Garrakson. "Wait! Are you telling me you managed to kill entire arch-enemy patrols single-handedly?"

    "I know it's hard to believe, and I didn't always succeed, but yes I did," I said bluntly. "I would have to tail them for hours before finding the right moment to strike, and they were badly trained, ill-disciplined."

    Garrakson glared at me. "You shouldn't have eaten that food, kid."

    "What?" I growled. "I had no choice! All the food then was gone, rotted away! I had no choice!"

    "Calm down, Attelus," said Torris.

    I sighed and fought back the anger.

    "It was like that for months," I said. "Many times they'd try to hunt me down and kill me, but I'd always manage to slip away by the skin of my teeth. I was always on the move, changing my hideouts almost day by day."

    I sighed. "I wasn't aware of it, but I was slowly losing my sanity and humanity, becoming a mindless animal, living to survive, not surviving to live. That was until I heard someone run over the roof of my hideout. Being chased by an enemy patrol."

    Garrakson furrowed his brow, and Torris nodded.

    "Who?" said Garrakson.

    I smiled. "It was Karmen.

    "What? Really?" said Garrakson.

    "Yeah, well, kind of, back then she was sergeant Estella Erith, of the Velrosian PDF. She was the last survivor of a squad sent north to investigate the destruction. You know that black and white armour she wore before? It was from those days. She was the first person I'd seen in so long who wasn't trying to kill me."

    I smiled. "She saved me, saved me from losing my sanity, and it would be safe to say that I... That I...uhh umm."

    Torris grinned. "Fell in love with her?"

    I grinned, looking away, embarrassed. "Yeah," I stammered. "At that time though I'm pretty sure it was completely one-sided, Estella had no idea."

    "What was she like, back then?" asked Torris.

    "Different," I said. "Nicer and kinder, although she almost got herself killed because of her pride if I hadn't convinced her to step down."

    "What about her psychic powers?" asked Torris.

    "Much less. I think she must've been...latent?" I said. "It was weird, though; she knew my middle name without me ever telling her."

    "And you trusted her?" said Garrakson.

    "Yeah I did," I said, smiling. "It was hard for me at first, but, yeah."

    Garrakson just smiled coyly and shook his head.

    I was about to ask what that was about when Torris said, "what did you do then?"

    "Together, we travelled south toward the front line. The Imperial Guard had come to fight for us. The Elbyran contingent. Commanded by General Tathe."

    As I said this, again I kept an eye on Garrakson to see what he'd do, but yet he gave no reaction.

    I sighed. "It took us over two weeks, but we finally managed to slip through the enemy forces and get to the refugee and Elbyran Imperial Guard encampments."

    "What happened next?" said Torris.

    "She left me," I sighed. "Karmen uhh Estella left me at the refugee camp to report her findings to general Tathe, and she never came back."

    "What? You don't know why, yet?" asked Torris.

    "No, she hasn't told me yet," I replied.

    Here I was, swallowing many truths, I didn't want to tell them that she'd tried to erase my memories. That'd just make them hate her more, and with what was at stake we didn't need that. Not at all.

    "You have to understand, Torris, Garrakson," I said. "After all that I went through, after all, that I'd done. I-I couldn't go back to a normal life. I decided that I'd become an assassin."

    "How old were you? Seventeen? You could've waited a year then joined the guard," said Garrakson.

    "I'm not a soldier, Garrakson, you should know that."

    "Many who believed themselves to 'not be soldiers' have become the greatest soldiers of all."

    I glared at Garrakson.

    "Garrakson, leave it," said Torris. "We told him we wouldn't judge him, and what's done is done, okay?"

    I grinned. "Anyway, would they accept a withered, little, ex-cannibal into their ranks?"

    "Well, if that withered little ex-cannibal had your skill, I'm positive they would," said Garrakson.

    "That begs another question, Attelus," said Torris. "How did you, at seventeen acquire the necessary skills not only to survive but also be able to ambush and kill entire arch-enemy patrols single-handedly?"

    I swallowed and frowned. "My father, he taught me everything I needed to know how to carve and cook partly rotten meat. How to fight, how to kill. Right from when I was old enough to walk."

    "Just who is your father?" said Garrakson. "Sounds like he knows how the world turns. Ex-guard is he?"

    "Nope," I said. "He is an assassin. Though I don't know where he got his training from."

    "Was it him? Was it him that inspired you to take up this...Line of work?" said Torris.

    "What, to become a low life, low level, expendable and badly paid mercenary? No. My idea of it then didn't fit with the reality of it at all."

    "It never does," said Torris.

    "I guess," said Garrakson with a grimace as he sniffed loudly.

    Both Torris and I expected him to say more, but he didn't, just twisted his finger in his ear.

    Torris turned back to me. "That is one hell of a coincidence, Attelus. Our psyker just so happens to be your old crush and war buddy."

    I shrugged and struggled to keep the smirk from my face.

    "Well, coincidences can happen," I said.

    "Miracle more like," said Garrakson.

    It was Torris' turn to sniff. "So, kid. When the woman who you hadn't seen in seven years, the one you fell in love with, the one that saved you from going insane and you'd fought beside. When she had emerged from that elevator, I couldn't imagine the thoughts and emotions you were going through when you saw her. You hid your reaction very, very well."

    "In fact, you were doing your usual smug smirk," said Garrakson. "The smirk you do when you're up to something devious, right, Torris?"

    Torris frowned and glanced at Garrakson.

    "Jeurat. Do you seriously think my attention was on Attelus then?" he said.

    Garrakson grimaced, folded his arms and leaned back in his chair.


    Torris smiled.

    I grinned and shrugged. "In my line of work, one must know how to control their emotions."

    Garrakson snorted. "And you've proven yourself real good at that," he said sarcastically.

    "Well, I've learned a lot the hard way over the past few months," I said.

    Garrakson grimaced.

    "So she never came back, what did you do then?" asked Torris.

    "Waited out the war," I said. "But it didn't last long. Apparently, Space Marines of the Dark Angels chapter came and cleaned out the invaders. Never got to see any of this first hand, though."

    "Again, very lucky," said Torris.

    I just pursed my lips and shrugged again.

    For a good minute, we sat in awkward silence.

    I had completely lost my appetite; all I could do was stare down at my plate and poke it with my fork.

    "Well, kid, that certainly explains a lot," said Torris eventually.

    "Yeah, it does," said Garrakson.

    "You look tired, kid," said Torris.

    "I am, I really, really am," I sighed while rubbing my eyes.

    "Let's go, Attelus," said Torris. "We'll take you somewhere you can sleep."

    "Yeah, sounds good," I said, and despite everything, I felt better, felt like I'd taken a little weight off my chest.

    I woke screaming as I'd never screamed before. I writhed, sweaty in the sheets as the terror of the nightmare continued to hold me in its grip.

    Finally, I managed to make myself stop and gasping through my raw, ragged throat; I sat on the side of the bed, looking down at my hands with watery eyes.

    It was a dream, only a dream, but by the Emperor what a nightmare! What the hell was that? Some sick fantasy? One which would happen if I gave in to the insanity? I clasped my face into my sweat-slicked hands.

    "What the hell is wrong with me?" I gasped. "Why would I dream that? Why?"

    I stood up and stumbled drunkenly through the mess of my room, toward the bathroom.

    After that little bit of soul searching, Torris and Garrakson had brought me back to my hab unit and immediately I'd just thrown myself onto my bed, too exhausted to do anything else.

    But now I regretted it, that dream by the Emperor, that dream. Somehow I found it even more horrifying than the daemons and anything I'd ever encountered before.

    I found the sink, turned on the water, rinsed my face, then gazed at my reflection in the mirror.

    The bruises I'd suffered were all gone, my face now almost pristine, but when I brushed off the hair that covered the left side of my face, I saw the scar.

    By frig, it was an ugly, jagged thing around six centimetres long, a good four centimetres wide and at least two centimetres thick. The many, many stitches that had held it together were now mostly broken and open. It'd always be there as a reminder, a reminder of Elandria and the thorough beating I took from the shapeshifter, Xenos, thing.

    At the thought of Glaitis' pet, I gripped the basin, hard making my knuckles whiten with strain and my reflection to glare back at me with barely contained rage. The bastard! I'll make sure it will die! Just the same Feuilt, then Glaitis after him! Though, In all honesty, I didn't care what order I killed them in, just as long as it was at my hand and they both died, painfully.

    But I still had the promise I'd made to Karmen, one which I intended to keep, but once Glaitis and 'It' had outlived their usefulness, I wasn't going to hesitate.

    I sighed and pushed off the sink and walked to my bedside. Took my commlink, grabbed the nearest towel and made for my shower. By the Emperor did I need one, not just because I stunk but also wishing to wash away the memory of that horrific dream.

    What is it about you? You seem to bring out the best and worst of me all at once; I thought as I turned the shower faucet and placed my microbead on the sink. Why do you do this to me, Adelana? WHY!?

    I-I had feelings for Karmen, why was I dreaming of Adelana? Someone I barely knew? Why did she make me act that way? Why?

    With a frustrated growl, I stepped under the hot stream.

    The sick thing was, I enjoyed it. It may have sickened me now, but during the dream, I liked it. It'd felt good; it'd felt, right.

    I knew I had a...darkness, which I struggled to keep fettered. But I'd never imagined it to be that bad, that psychotic and cruel.

    If I lost myself, if I became truly unfettered, as that utterly terrifying monster what I'd become?

    I sighed, just like Feuilt was, or wasn't? I had no idea what he really was the psychotic cultist I'd fought, or if it was some front for some reason I was too tired to think about. But again my thoughts came back to Feuilt's last words, that Edracian wasn't what he seemed. I was pretty sure he was telling the truth but the truth of what, exactly?. Then it hit me; it could've been anyone in that armour, anyone. They'd said that Edracian wasn't a psyker. So perhaps, perhaps some psyker had killed Edracian and was now in the armour pretending to be him, as Brutis Bones had suggested.

    My mind whirled, and I fear-filled through me, so if that was true, then, who? Who the hell could it be? Could it be my father? Feuilt had claimed he knew my father, that it was Serghar Kaltos who'd taught him everything he knew.

    I shook that away; I knew my father wasn't a psyker. As I'd thought of earlier; what if my father was using the souls to make himself one? That also posed yet another question. Just how much did our erstwhile ally Brutis Bones know? He'd said when we'd first met something hinting that I shouldn't have assumed it was Edracian. Perhaps Brutis knew this?

    He was just another on the long list of people I couldn't trust, a list which was getting longer by the second.

    For a long time, I stood, hunched even worse than usual and stared at the white tiled wall in a daze as the constant stream of hot water hit me.

    What I'd just seen, what I'd been through was like nothing I'd ever seen before. I'd only encountered what a tiny minority of this galaxy ever would, the entities of the warp, daemons.

    I looked down at my clenching fist. Seeing that stuff must've damaged my mind. That's what I was told by Glaitis once. The warp and anything to do with it was the true anathema to us, to all logic and reason. That mere contact near it damage our mental health and well being. I'd always been near the edge, so after that...incident, how much closer was I? On top of that, the Farseer, knowing she's there in my head, perhaps even manipulating my every thought.

    Despite the heat of the water I shivered, I just hoped that I'd never encounter anything like that again. Sure I'd taken numerous trips through the warp since I'd left Elbyra seven years ago, but I'd always avoided looking on the warp as it went by outside.

    Just then, I felt the water begin to lose its warmth and clumsily; I turned off the faucet. For another good ten minutes, I stood, stark naked in the shower.

    I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, whether I wanted to laugh in triumph that I'd survived that hell, that I'd managed to stop the daemonic invasion before it even started. Or if I wanted to weep, so many had died, so many good people that didn't deserve it, Olinthre, Taryst, all the Magistratum detectives, the many Hammers under Brutis' command.

    "Elandria," I said, my emotion choked and croaked voice echoing in the bathroom.

    Just then my vox link chimed, knocking me from my reverie.

    Slowly, I got out of the shower, wrapped my towel around my waist and picked it up.

    "Attelus here," I said.

    "Attelus," said Olinthre's voice, causing another cold shiver to crawl up my spine. "Hurry it up we need you up in Taryst's grotto, ASAP."


    But before I could say more, the shapeshifter cut the link.

    I sighed, that Thing just loved to take every opportunity it got to boss me around, didn't it?

    Well soon it won't be able to, ever again, I thought with a smile and left the bathroom, trying to ignore my reflection in the mirror on the way out.

    After slipping on a clean body glove and my flak jacket, I left my hab unit. The building now crawled with mercs. I found the step up on security was hardly surprising after all that's happened.

    I caught the elevator to the bottom floor, clenching my teeth in annoyance as the sound of screeching gears hurt my ears. According to my wrist chron I'd only slept for about an hour, which was why I could still barely keep my eyes open.

    With a long, drawn-out yawn, I took out a Lho, lit it and placed it in my mouth. I glanced at the pack and sighed as I saw it was already half empty. Perhaps it was high time I quit.

    Then I couldn't help wonder, what was it that made the Mimic call me over there so urgently. Had Karmen finally awoken? Or was it something to do with that pict I took?

    I sighed as the elevator finally made it to the bottom floor.

    Guess I'm going to find out, I thought as I slid open the rusty old cage door which squealed horridly in protest.

    I was so tired I almost missed seeing the six Mercenaries waiting for me in the main foyer they approached from a far corner all in old standard-issue guard flak armour and holding las guns.

    "Attelus Kaltos," said one with a nod, they all wore full helmets so I couldn't see any of their faces.

    "Oh great," I sighed, rolling my eyes. "Let me guess; the major sent you guys?"

    "Yeah," said another, sounding a little surprised. "Said we need to take you to the main tower, so you uhh 'don't screw up yet a-frigging-gain'."

    I grimaced and reached for the powersword sheathed at my hip. How can I trust these idiots? Sure that sounded like something the Mimic would say, but these could easily be mooks sent by Edracian in disguise.

    "You alright, sir?" asked the first who'd spoken before.

    "Yeah, I'm alright," I said through clenched teeth, what was I going to do? Slaughter them like dogs, just based on some small suspicion? "I really don't need an escort," I said. "I'll be fine."

    "I'm sorry sir, but the Major insisted," said the first.

    The corner of my mouth twitched, and I pulled out my vox link, tuning it to 'Olinthre's' channel.

    "What do you want?" came Olinthre's voice only a few chimes.

    "You forgot to mention that you'd sent people to guard me, I'm just calling in to make sure they're yours."

    "Of course they're mine," he said. "I sent them to make sure you won't screw up and get yourself kidnapped again."

    I sighed and rubbed my eyes, thinking that six ex-guardsmen escorting me wouldn't really make much of a difference if Edracian wanted to attack me again, but okay. Also, they'd just make me stick out all the more.

    "Alright," I said and cut the link.

    "You ready to go now?" said one, sounding impatient now.

    "Yeah let's go," I said, putting my hands into the pockets of my flak jacket. "Sorry just had to make sure you were who you said you were."

    They glanced at each other, seeming more than a little bit bemused.

    They really knew nothing, didn't they?

    "Wow, you are paranoid, aren't you?" said one.

    I clenched my teeth and bristled, trying to contend a coherent reply, but my words only came out as angry, idiotic monosyllables.

    "Uh, oh," said the first. "I think we may have just broken him."

    "If you went through even half of what I've just been through, you would be too!" I snapped.

    "Yeah, yeah," said one of them sarcastically. "It's bad enough we're running around after a brat like you; we don't need to be shouted at as well. So kid let's move on and get this over and done with, okay?"

    "Yeah right, fair enough," I said, with a shrug. "Sorry to be such a pain, let's get on."

    The elevator reached the top of Taryst's tower, and I was shocked to see in the corridor at least thirty or forty people standing guard. Some were Taryst's regulars; some were the very few remaining Hammers under Brutis and Magistratum enforcers under Arlathan Karkin.

    They glared at us with barely contained anger as we exited the elevator. All of them looked weary, scarcely able to keep their feet. Almost all the magistratum and Hammers had assorted wounds of varying intensity.

    "Poor bastards," said Halick quietly, most of the mercs with me had now taken off their helms allowing me to see their faces. Halick was a tall, dark-skinned man, whose long hair was in dreadlocks and pulled into a ponytail, he was an ex-bounty hunter but seemed like a good man. "You wouldn't know what happened to them, would you, kid?"

    We began to walk through them, trying to ignore their looks.

    "Yeah," I said hesitantly. "It's a little hard to explain, though, I'll tell you later when I get the chance."

    It was an outright lie, as I knew I'd never get that opportunity.

    "Never thought I'd see the day when ours, the local Hammers and the frigging Magistratum would all be in the same room and not be trying to kill each other," said Roldar, a little louder than I would've liked, he was an ex-guardsman and the group's leader. He was a man of medium height, his short grey hair close-cropped, he reminded me a bit of Garrakson. His tough, no-nonsense attitude was very similar; he also had scars all over his face, from countless battles. He looked quite young, though, only a few years older than me.

    I just frowned and shrugged.

    We came to the curtains at the end of the corridor and immediately out slipped the Mimic to meet us, the men around saluted.

    "You're here," It said. "Took your bloody time."

    "Hello to you too, Olinthre," I said.

    "Get in here, Attelus," It just said. "You six stay out here."

    "Yes sir," said Jelket, the short pale man looking uncertain as he and the rest turned away.

    The Olinthre-thing beckoned me through and hesitantly, I followed.

    Inside I found standing near the entrance was Arlathan Karkin, he was pacing the room and still wearing his dark blue Magistratum flak armour. With his finger and thumb on his chin. He eyed me as I entered, his big eyes wide with fear, or at least it could've been fear, could've been humiliation as well. After his performance in Brutis's hideout a few hours ago I couldn't blame him if it was. When I met his look, he immediately averted his gaze.

    I smiled, humiliation definitely, his ego had taken a huge hit. Perhaps it'd brought him some humility.

    Then there was Brutis Bones; he still wore his power armour which made him tower over everyone else in the room; his expression was unreadable as he watched me. Next to him was Wesley, he sat hunched forward on one of the couches he'd shaved off his considerable beard and as a result, looked ten years younger. His long blonde hair washed and tidy now. He didn't even look at me; his attention stayed firmly on the floor.

    Standing in the far left corner was Glaitis who stood surprisingly alongside Hayden, Castella and Darrance. Darrance sneered at me, Hayden, just sat in the corner looking like he was meditating. Castella, oh Emperor I was glad she was there as she smiled at me, but I was more than a little disturbed to see it didn't reach her eyes.

    Glaitis, her cold blue eyes were uncompromisingly hard.

    I involuntarily flinched as the shield suddenly activated behind me, sudden anger took me.

    "Well! Well!" I exclaimed, smiling and raising my arms theatrically. "This is a sight to see!"

    "Shut it, Attelus," said Darrance.

    I ignored him. "You'd think having all the guards in the corridor would be a bit redundant. When all you're going to do is turn on the void shield."

    "Frigging shut it!" snarled Darrance.

    "Or is there another reason?" I said. "It's really there, just so they can't hear us, right? So that we can keep our secrets and lies...Well, secrets and lies."

    "You know how it works," said Glaitis, sternly.

    "I do, I really really do," I said. "But it goes too far; all those men out there are expected to fight and die for you. For your damned agendas, and they have no real clue as to why. While you sit back on your damn chairs scheming, safe and sound. It sucks it just sucks and sickens me. I'm sick and tired of this gak! All the games! This isn't just a game of regicide, out there are real people with hopes and dreams. They deserve to know something, anything. I was just like them barely a few months ago. I know what it's like."

    "And now you know everything, Attelus," said Wesley. "How does that make you feel?"

    "I-I don't know," I said. "But I can tell you this if I didn't know what was at stake, what was needed to be done. I wouldn't have done what I just did. Run through hell, pushing myself far and beyond what I'd ever imagined I could. I did that because I knew Edracian needed to be stopped. If they knew it too if we gave them purpose, a cause, they might work half as hard as I did, perhaps even harder!"

    "That's enough!" said Brutis. "I assure you, young man. I'm going to tell my men everything they need to know, do not lump me in with these others in your moaning and whining."

    I clenched my teeth. "Yet here you are, behind the void shield conspiring with them anyway. By the way, am I ever going to get a thank you? Any sort of appreciation for all I did to save all your arses?"

    "No," stated Glaitis, bluntly. "Because you do not deserve it, Apprentice. While what you did was quite admirable. I will give you that much; it is going to mean nothing because of your earlier actions, guided by your selfishness and cowardice."

    I sighed, surely she didn't need to say both 'selfishness and cowardice.' Surely that was a little redundant?

    "The pict I took, right?"

    "Indeed," she said and looked to Wesley who sighed.

    "I told you that that was my master's Interrogator and daughter, right?" said Wesley.

    "Yeah, you did," I said, although I'd already forgotten her name.

    Wesley looked around at everyone guiltily. "Over the past few years my master, Inquisitor Devan Torathe, has been...How can I explain this? Losing his mind, he, ironically, used to be quite the radical. A member of the Ordo Malleus who knew not everything was black and white and fought for the people. I do not know why, but he has fallen into extreme Puritanism. He follows the Libricar philosophy, which was at complete odds with his old ideals."

    I raised an eyebrow. "Libricar philosophy?"

    Wesley finally looked at me directly. "It's uh, a well I'd say a radical sect of the Inquisition that's grown in the Calixis sector for some time. The Libricars are just like the Amalathians but more extreme."

    "And what are the hell are the Amalathians?" I asked with a furrowed brow.

    "They follow a philosophy which deems everything is according to the God-Emperor's great plan; they fight for the Imperium to stay the same, for us to keep the status quo. Progress and change is their anathema. Libricars take this ideal even further. They believe that whatever deviation no matter how small is grounds for death, without exception," said Wesley, patiently but not condescending.

    "Okay," I said, glancing at everyone around the room, they all avoided my look, even Brutis. So what? This Devan Torathe was an extremist, what did that, did that...

    Then it hit me, making my mouth gape and my eyes widen. That was his dead daughter I took the pict of. What was this supposedly psychotic, uncompromising Inquisitor going to do after he saw it?

    Wesley looked at me sadly. "It gets worse, kid. Much worse. This whole mission was a secret after Brutis found this evidence and came to us, we started it independently of master Torathe."

    "Why?" I asked, utterly confounded by this.

    "Because," Wesley sighed. "Because both Edracian and Torathe were once Interrogators together under the same Inquisitor. They are old, old friends. Amanda and I couldn't trust his judgement on this, both with his insanity and he and Edracian's history."

    I said nothing, just looked at Wesley.

    "That pict you took, Attelus Kaltos," said Wesley. "Edracian could send it to my master telling him any lie with it he wishes. My master will believe it no matter how far fetched, or maybe even with the truth, but either way, it doesn't matter. He will take extreme measures to avenge Amanda. He is coming, and with him, I fear. No, I know, will be Omnartus' destruction, he will order an exterminatus. Just like Edracian wanted. Just like Edracian had planned."

    For a long time, I said nothing; I could only stand in dumbstruck silence.

    "Nice work, apprentice," said Darrance. "Now, your foolish actions have doomed an entire planet."

    "I-I!" could only stammer, over and over, everyone looked at me with hard expressions all except Castella whose eyes were wide with sympathetic sadness. That made it even more horrible somehow.

    "Why?" I managed finally. "I had no idea; I'd just taken a pict! I had no idea! Please tell me this is just some joke."

    "Snap out of it!" snarled Glaitis. "Do you truly think we would joke about something as serious as this? I thought I taught you better than that!"

    My shoulders began to shake, and tears welled in my eyes, my mind whirled as I struggled to comprehend. Could I be indirectly responsible for the deaths of billions?

    My thoughts first came to Adelana. I knew then that I wanted to save her more than anyone else. She deserved to live more than me if I died, so she'd live it'd all be worth it.

    I'd also deserve it.

    I wanted to fall on my knees and weep; I wanted to throw up.

    "Attelus," said Castella as she approached me, laying her hand on my shoulder, then pulled me in a tight embrace. "I understand that you're upset. But the world isn't dead. Not yet, we can still stop it. You can still stop this. It's not too late."

    "But how? I whimpered. "How can we possibly?"

    "You stopped the daemons, didn't you?" she said. "Well, we can stop this as well. There is still hope."

    She let go of me and smiled at me sadly.

    Castella was right; we still had time, we could stop it, but how?

    "Now we had access to an Astropath," said Wesley. "I've tried to send Torathe messages, trying to tell him to stop, but I've got no reply. Nothing."

    "I will make sure to get in touch with my boss," said Arlathan, the first thing he'd uttered since I'd entered. "We will know when someone exits the warp into the system.

    "Where was Devan Torathe when you'd last communicated with him?" asked Glaitis.

    "That would've been, eight months ago now," said Wesley. "He was on Malfi, investigating into the local elite. They were supposedly in the business of trading daemonic artefacts.

    I frowned, I'd done a few jobs on Malfi and knew that such corrupt activity wasn't beneath them. I wondered how extensive the pogrom was that Torathe had led against Malfi aristocracy. Not that'd make much of a difference; they'd be back on it not long afterwards, anyway.

    "He could be anywhere now," said Wesley.

    Glaitis sighed and rubbed her eyes.

    "What do we do now?" I asked.

    Arlathan stepped forward. "I've told my boss what's gone on," he said. "Our remaining men and the PDF are blocking any and all traffic to and from planetside. Any ships that try to leave without the proper authorisation will be shot down. Especially those claiming Inquisitorial identification. Edracian's as good as trapped."

    Brutis shook his head. "I doubt he's truly trapped. I bet he'd find away. I could."

    "Hmm," I said, with my finger and thumb musing on my chin. "That begs another question, why hasn't Edracian left already?"

    "Who says he hasn't yet?" said Brutis.

    I just shrugged and pursed my lips.

    "So why don't we just evacuate?" suggested Olinthre. "Escape while we have the chance if Edracian's no longer planetside why should we stay?"

    I frowned, as much as that sounded like cowardice, it was just logical. If we died with Omnartus, there would be no one left with the knowledge to stop any of his further missions, but the problem was he was still planetside. I knew, or at least was damn sure of it. I still couldn't understand it, especially now. Why hadn't he left? Why?

    "Because he might not have," said Wesley. "And as long as there is one small chance we have him trapped, one small chance we can stop him for good, we've got to take it."

    "Surely we should send someone away, just in case," I said and looked to Brutis. "Surely it should be someone with the highest authority, who can do the most if the rest of us fail."

    Brutis grimaced, "I am not running. I am also partly responsible for this mess and would rather see this mission to its end."

    I clenched my teeth; I could tell Brutis Bones would've had a stubborn streak. In all honesty, I couldn't blame him; I'd feel the same way if I was him.

    Then I realised something, and my attention switched to Glaitis. Only six months ago I might've thought; differently, I wouldn't have been nearly as sympathetic, perhaps even contemptuous it was his sense of duty to see this through.

    But in this case, I was pretty sure he was wrong; in this, he should leave. Let us handle this.

    Yet I knew Edracian was still here, so perhaps he really shouldn't.

    I sighed to myself and placed the palm my hand over my face.

    Suddenly, I remembered something, something which shocked me.

    "Even if we kill Edracian here, doesn't mean that this is all over," I said suddenly.

    "Explain, Apprentice," said Glaitis, impatiently.

    "When I reached the conduit I was forced to fight medicae Feuilt," I explained. "Edracian had sent him to guard it alone."

    "Yes," said Olinthre. "We found his corpse in the church not far from where you lay unconscious. Did he tell you something?"

    I nodded. "He told me that...that."

    I trailed off, frowned and dropped my attention to the floor.

    "He told you what?" said Brutis.

    "He told me that, he told me that Elandria's," I paused and cleared my throat, noticing that Castella, Darrance and even Hayden all averted their attention. "That Elandria was taken off-world, into the warp. I know not where."

    "Did he tell you whether or not that Edracian went with, this...Elandria?" said Wesley.

    "No, he neglected to say that," I said. "But what I mean is that perhaps, perhaps even if Edracian isn't off-world. Perhaps even if we do manage to stop him, he has someone. Something somewhere else is out there, that's going to take his place. If he's gone, he still needs to be chased. If he isn't someone still needs to track down this other something."

    "Wait! Wait! Wait!" said the Olinthre-thing. "Why would Edracian want a rotting frigging corpse...?"

    It was interrupted by my fist smashing into its face. I'd moved well over six metres in a split second, and It was sent sprawling hard against the wall, then crashing face-first hard to the floor.

    "He didn't tell me," I said as I turned away and placed my hands behind my back. "He didn't know."

    I smiled and glanced at Glaitis, seeing her sneer at me, which made me grin.

    "Emperor!" said Wesley, it took him a good few seconds to realise what'd just happened. "What the hell?"

    I looked then to Brutis, who was just smiling.

    Both Darrance and Castella walked over and helped it to its feet, but it could barely stand.

    "Please, Brutis Bones," I said. "You must leave as soon as you can."

    "You do love your showboating, apprentice," growled Glaitis.

    "I aim to please," I said.

    "No, you aim to misbehave," she replied.

    "Same difference," I said with a shrug.

    "How can you be so damn coy," said Wesley, "after finding out that?"

    I looked at him because it felt frigging good to punch that idiot in the face finally I thought but just gave him another shrug.

    "What else did this Feuilt tell you?" asked Brutis.

    I hmm'd and tapped my chin, pretending to remember but really trying to figure what to say and whatnot.

    "Feuilt also claimed that our enemy had allied with the ruinous powers," I said, which made Brutis furrow his brow. "But I'm already assuming you guessed that."

    "No," said Brutis, shaking his head. "Even after what occurred, I am assuming nothing. No, it's good to get even some confirmation of Edracian's corruption."

    I nodded, perhaps it was high time I try to stop assuming things myself.

    "Anything else?" said Glaitis.

    I turned to her, eyes narrowed, wondering how much she'd told the others. Did they know that he was once her agent? Did they even know he was a triple agent, working for her, Taryst and Edracian all at once?

    Did she know his backstory, even? Of how my father apparently taught him?

    "Apprentice!" She snapped. "I asked you a question, do not leave us in waiting!"

    I sighed, "he also said something else. He told me that Edracian wasn't what he seemed to be, or something like that."

    That was all I was going to tell them; I didn't want to say of his supposed connections to my father. Not yet, anyway.

    Glaitis and Brutis shared a glance.

    "Any idea what that meant?" asked Brutis.

    "Your guess is as good as mine," I said with a shrug, "and all the more reason why someone needs to leave Omnartus."

    "I am not leaving Omnartus," said Brutis in a tone that'd brook no argument and he looked at me under a hooded brow. I knew then that I couldn't push it anymore. He was an Inquisitor I was just some lowly mercenary; I had no right to try and order him around.

    I swallowed, straightened my jacket and quickly shut up.

    "Anything else?" said Wesley.

    I shook my head. "That's all. He might've said more, but I was too busy getting the crap beaten out of me to hear it."

    "Seems to be a distinct theme around here," said Glaitis.

    "Which brings forward another question," said Brutis. "I heard of your injuries. How exactly did you recover so fast?"

    My eyes widened, and I looked at Glaitis, her expression was unreadable.

    "Yes," said Wesley. "I was wondering the exact same thing."

    I grinned nervously, the apprehension was horrible, my heart felt like it'd frozen in my chest. How the hell was I going to explain that one away? And what would happen if they found out the truth?

    "Surely there are more important things to consider now of all times?" I said.

    "Not right now," said Wesley as he got off his seat. "We have no leads to follow on Edracian, nothing now. As agents of the throne, in His holy service. It's our duty to look into things like this. We need to know, how did you recover so fast?"

    "I don't know," I said, finding myself utterly incapable of thinking of a good response and glancing again at Glaitis, who still looked at me with that unreadable expression.

    I clenched my teeth, help me here, please! I begged silently; then I saw that Castella, Hayden and even Darrance were reaching discretely for their weapons, which made me more scared.

    "Now that was a lie," said Wesley. "A blatant one at that you agree, boss?"

    "I'd say that went without saying," said Brutis.

    "I don't know," I repeated, taking a step back as instinct made me reach for my sword. "That I swear."

    "If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear," said Brutis. "I see there's a lot of fear in you."

    He smiled and moved his bolter, but stopped as we heard the sound of a plasma pistol powering up. Castella stood pointing it straight at his skull as Hayden had his rifle a at Wesley and Darrance drew his scimitar, activating it.

    "Don't you even dare," said Castella.

    Brutis looked at her utterly unfazed. "I hope you are aware you're pointing that at a member of the Inquisition? Are you?"

    "Yep," she said without hesitation. "Now put that bolter down, before I put you down."

    I looked at her, utterly taken aback, imploring her to stop silently. Then I saw Glaitis and gaped. She looked on with such horror and shock I could not even begin to describe it.

    Brutis sighed. "I wasn't going to shoot just him. I am not that puritan. You must be aware that what we just lived through was a daemonic incursion. This Attelus here might be possessed, he came very close to a daemonic artefact, and that may be why he healed so quickly. I am just doing my duty as an Inquisitor; I am protecting all of us. Now please lower the plasma pistol."

    I looked at Brutis, in all honesty, that was fair enough, and theoretically, he was right. I was possessed, but not in the way he thought.

    "No," said Castella. "He's like a little brother to me; I swear if you even lay a finger on him..."

    "Enough!" snarled Glaitis suddenly. "Hayden, Darrance, Castella stand down, now!"

    "Screw you," said Castella sternly and Darrance and Hayden weren't moving either.

    Glaitis abruptly shut up, gaping like she was slapped.

    I couldn't believe it. They did this for me, standing up to an Inquisitor putting their lives on the line, but why? I couldn't comprehend it.

    I met Castella's eyes, and she gave me a smile with a wink.

    My expression back to her was the most scared and uncertain I could give, hoping that'd make her back down.

    It didn't.

    "You are now making yourselves accomplices in this," said Brutis. "If he is possessed and is unleashed upon the planet. You will be just as responsible as he is."

    "Don't care," said Castella. "You should just be more worried about having a bolt of plasma through your skull, than anything else."

    Suddenly Brutis turned and aimed his bolter at her.

    "Not if I shoot you first," he said.

    Then Darrance was suddenly there, holding his power sword against Brutis' back.

    "Not if I sever your spine first," he said.

    "Stop this!" snapped Glaitis; she was screaming now. "Stop this now! I order you!"

    They didn't take any notice of her, but I did. Only I was able to see Glaitis horrid, rage-ridden expression, and I was the only one who saw her draw her power sword.

    I was already moving, drawing my sword, winding and weaving through everyone. Making it just in time to block Glaitis' blade as she stabbed it straight at Hayden's back.

    Instinctively, In the blink of an eye I reposted and slashed out my sword in a decapitating cut, which she had no way to dodge or parry, but I stopped, less than a hair's breadth from her neck. Just then recalling the promise I'd given to Estella.

    I wouldn't have killed her out of spite or vengeance, just reflex, I had the seemingly indestructible Glaitis at my mercy. How empowering.

    A millisecond later Glaitis realised this and flinched back, looking at me with wide, surprised eyes. I met her gaze and kept my sword near her neck.

    "What the hell are you doing?" She hissed.

    My response was a disgusted sneer.

    Enough! said a voice in my mind that drummed through my ears so hard it hurt—making me cry out and flinch with everyone else.

    +That is enough! We must stop this nonsensical farce now!+

    Immediately, I recognised the voice.

    "Karmen!" I cried. "It's good to hear from you!"

    She laughed. +Likewise, Attelus! Likewise! I am sorry I was not able to help you stop the daemonic incursion.+

    I just said nothing and frowned.

    "What? What the hell?" stammered Arlathan, who I'd forgotten was still in the room.

    +If someone has neglected to inform you, Arlathan, I am a psyker. I was under Taryst's employ.+

    "Unsanctioned I suppose," said Brutis with a grimace.

    +No, I was sanctioned when I was discovered seven years ago. I am on your side, Inquisitor. I can control my powers; I have been taught in great detail how.+

    Brutis Bones just frowned and folded his arms across his chest.

    +I was the one responsible for Attelus Kaltos fast recovery,+ she said. +I used my psychic strength to heal him while he was unconscious. As I am sure you are aware psychic powers can be used to fix as much as they can be used to destroy.+

    Brutis glared at me, and I struggled to keep myself neutral, yet again Karmen was saving my arse.

    "It does make sense," Brutis said, hesitantly. "Why?"

    +I-I care for him,+ she said, which made me smile.

    "Do you know about this?" asked Brutis.

    I just shook my head, wide-eyed.

    Brutis grimaced and sighed through clenched teeth. "Alright, alright I'll believe you. You, Attelus Kaltos are extraordinarily lucky, not just that so many seem so happy to put their lives on the line for your pathetic arse but also that I am not more puritan. Many Inquisitors would have you executed just for being so close to a daemonic artefact. Hell, many would've ordered Exterminatus on this world, seeing it already irreversibly tainted, which it may well be."

    +Also, another thing,+ said, Karmen. +I have located Inquisitor Edracian's location.+

    This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 06:54:10

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    "What? Really?" said Arlathan as he looked at me, his brow furrowed in disbelief.

    I met his look, pursed my lips and shrugged; why was he looking at me?

    +Yes, really,+ said Karmen. +I encountered another psyker in out of body form near to where the conduit was. We fought all over the hive, but I managed to get the upper hand and make the other psyker retreat. I was able to track it back to its source.+

    "Did you get a positive identification of the psyker?" asked Brutis.

    +No, but it was exceptionally powerful. One of the most powerful human psykers I've ever encountered.+

    "Where was the source?" asked Wesley.

    +I was able to find a location; he has set up shop in a large abandoned mansion complex, on the upper hive forty-five kilometres north-east of here. It is well but subtly fortified and crawling with mercenaries.+

    Wesley sighed and facepalmed. "If we weren't so busy with our own war, we would've been able to stop him earlier."

    "That I think he was counting on," said Brutis. "Now, let's just hang on a second here, Karmen. How can we trust you? How do we know that you're not just leading us into another trap? Like the one we just went through?"

    I folded my arms over my chest and frowned, finding I couldn't help but agree.

    +You, do not,+ said Karmen. +But I swear to you I am not lying, but as of now, there is nothing else you can follow. So you have very little choice in the matter. We need to take this risk if we are ever to stop Edracian.+

    "This time, we will be ready," said Castella.

    I looked to Glaitis; she was now visibly brooding and glaring around the room at no one in particular.

    A cold shiver crawled up my spine. I knew that expression; it reminded me disturbingly of my mother when she was having...problems. Had Glaitis finally snapped? She did just try to stab her longest-serving employee in the back, so perhaps so.

    I decided to keep an eye on her; who knows what the hell she would do.

    Suddenly her attention snapped to me, and I barely fought the urge to flinch away. Her cold blue eyes met mine; then again, she was back glancing around the room.

    I shuddered out a sigh, realising then how utterly terrified I'd been.

    +Indeed,+ said Karmen. +Now we know of Inquisitor Edracian's capabilities; we should be.+

    I don't know about that, I thought.

    Brutis and Wesley shared a look.

    "Hmm," growled Wesley, stroking his chin. "I will concede your point. I do feel we have very little choice in the matter."

    "Still smells like a fething trap to me," said Brutis.

    Wesley nodded. "I think at times a trap needs to be sprung to find anything. Look at what happened in the Underhive? Also, I have something else I should tell you. I sent out another communique. To another friend of mine, another Inquisitor, one who was also an Interrogator under Edracian. A woman named Jelcine Enandra of the Ordo Hereticus, I told her almost everything."

    "You sound most upset about that," said Castella.

    Wesley sighed and scratched his head. "A few years ago, we had a falling out with her, and that is one of the reasons I think, why my master has lost his sanity. We found out she was a radical, one of the Seculos Attendous philosophy."

    I raised an eyebrow that sounded a bit like my name. I also had no bloody idea what it meant.

    Wesley saw me and shook his head. "Seculos Attendous is a new and upcoming ideal within the Inquisition of the Calixis conclave. They believe that the holy Ecclesiarchy is a blight upon humanity and the Imperium. Believe we need to get rid of it entirely. She and my master almost came to blows over this, and we haven't been in contact with her since. He is a very religious man and despite being in the Ordo Malleus has deep ties within the Ecclesiarchy."

    I hid a smile; I liked the sound of this Seculos Attendous philosophy.

    "Until now," said Arlathan.

    "Indeed," said Wesley. "I am that desperate, I hope; I pray she will be able to get her to help in time. Even if she's still alive."

    Castella nodded. "I understand, but at least now we know we've got someone, somewhere willing to help."

    Wesley nodded as well but still looked unconvinced.

    "So, what now?" I asked.

    "I'd say it's obvious," said Brutis. "We attack Edracian's base as soon as we can."

    He looked over at the Mimic as It was only just now climbing to its feet, trying to shake away its dazed state.

    "Finally, you're up," said Brutis. "We need to get moving; we'll need your mercenaries."

    "Yeah, I heard," It growled, giving me fixing me with enraged eyes.

    I just smiled back.

    "Good!" Growled Brutis. "Hurry it up and get them organised then."

    With a sigh, the Olinthre-thing deactivated the shield, activated his comm-link and began barking orders.

    "So this is it," I said. "This could finally be the end to this farce."

    Wesley looked at me wearily and said, "I think you were right before. This isn't the end, kid; we're far from that. Edracian, I doubt, has done this alone. I think this is just the beginning."

    Wesley, Arlathan and The Mimic were the first to emerge from the curtains, all three yelling orders at their respective underlings. The rest of us followed them in silence; I was smoking one of my last Lhos as I'd donated many of them to Castella, Hayden, Arlathan and even Darrance. We were all a bit spooked and needed something to help our nerves.

    Glaitis had glared at me balefully as I'd given them out by the Emperor; I wished she'd go back to her old self.

    Glaitis, Castella, Hayden, Darrance and I were the first in the elevator, and we began our descent toward the bottom floor.

    "Mamzel Glaitis?" said Darrance uncertainly. "What are we to do?"

    Glaitis didn't answer, she clenched her jaw and balled her hands into fists, and I instinctively reached for my sword.


    "I heard you, Darrance!" she snapped suddenly. "Damn it; I am not deaf!"

    "My apologies, mamzel," said Darrance.

    "Your apology means nothing!" she snarled. "You disobeyed my direct order! I told you to stand down!"

    "And we did," stated Hayden calmly. "Once the situation was defused. We couldn't stand idly by while one of us was being threatened."

    Glaitis turned her attention to me, her eyes wide with anger.

    "One of us? One of us? Because of this foolish boy's decisions, this world may end! He is a fool and a coward who deserves to be threatened!"

    My attention fell to the floor, unable to disagree with her on that.

    "Yes," agreed Castella, which hurt me more than It should've. "Yes, he was, and yes, he did, but I think after what he just did, he hasn't earned our forgiveness. He has earned our respect. He deserved to be stood up for, and I'd do it again without any hesitation. Despite all the foolish mistakes he's made."

    Glaitis showed her teeth and shook her head. "I will have you punished for such insolence; how dare you! I am your-!"

    "You know you cannot do that," said Hayden. "Do not threaten when you have nothing to back it up with."

    Glaitis growled in rage and reached for her sword but found all three of them already had her covered with their own. Hayden using his autopistol sidearm and Castella her sword.

    "See what I mean," said Hayden. "And you tried to stab me in the back if it wasn't for Attelus. You would've killed me. Thank you, by the way, Attelus."

    All I could manage was a wide-eyed nod.

    "We disobeyed your order, sure," said Hayden, then his expression darkened. "But I am not sure that your orders deserve to be followed anymore."

    She glared at him witheringly.

    "This is just conjecture, but I know you, Glaitis," he said. "And I bet you knew exactly what we were going into."

    "I did not," she said, now icily calm. "That, I swear."

    Hayden smiled and shook his head. "I doubt that you have made plans that are impeccable; you seem to know things before they happen. You've guided us with this foreknowledge. How do we know that this was any different? How can we tell you're telling the truth?"

    "I didn't," she said, sounding more urgent now. "I didn't know."

    "I have worked for you for decades, Glaitis," said Hayden. "Never had I had such loyalty to a superior before, but over that time, my loyalty has been stretched thin. We just went through the last straw; how do we know you will perform another stunt like this, huh? Before you almost stabbed me in the back? Literally!"

    "You disobeyed me!" she snarled; she then looked to Darrance with wide eyes.

    "Saderth!" she said, and it took me a second to realise that must've been Darrance's first name; never had I heard it before. "Saderth, help me."

    'Saderth' shook his head. "I am sorry, mamzel, but as much as it hurts me to say it, I am inclined to agree."

    Suddenly Glaitis expression turned into one of pure rage, and her attention snapped to me,

    "I see!" she snarled. "I see now that he's manipulated you against me! The child has manipulated you. Can't you see! He's using you! I bet he doesn't even know it! If anyone should have your-!"

    "No!" interrupted Castella. "He hasn't; this was all you; I'm sorry, Glaitis, this is all you. I'm sorry."

    I looked away from Glaitis' intense glare, unable to handle it anymore. I couldn't believe this was happening, never had I thought these three would feel this way. It came out of the blue, that's for frigging sure.

    Deep down, though I couldn't help but agree with Glaitis, perhaps I did manage to manipulate this? I clenched my jaw at that thought. Did I do it...subconsciously?

    Just then, the elevator found the bottom floor and with a ding! The doors opened, and we walked out. Glaitis still at gunpoint. There were a few mercs and other employees in the lobby who watched with great interest.

    "Move on!" said Castella, waving her hands. "Nothing to see here!"

    Hesitantly, they did as told.

    "Castella. Darrance and I will take Glaitis back to her tower," said Hayden. "You and Attelus stay here and watch over the preparations."

    Castella and I nodded acknowledgement.

    Glaitis laughed. "What? Where will you put me in my tower? Seriously, Hayden? All the men who guard it are under my employ. I sign their paychecks they will let me out, that I assure you."

    Hayden turned to her, his expression as hard as steel. "You will find, Glaitis, that you might pay them, but they are loyal to me because unlike you, I've bothered to talk to them, get to know them and think of them as more than pawns, that I assure you. Darrance, take her weapons."

    Darrance nodded and did as told, telling Glaitis he was sorry over and over as he did.

    "You two will be alright?" asked Castella.

    Hayden nodded. "See you soon."

    Castella and I watched them leave.

    I was unsure what to say, still utterly shocked by what I'd just witnessed.

    "You okay?" she asked after a few seconds.

    "Yeah," I stammered. "I just can't believe that just happened."

    She laughed. "Yeah, I understand that. I'd be shocked if I was you too."

    "Even Darrance," I said and turned to her. "How the hell did you convince him to take part?"

    "You must understand, Attelus," she said. "We have been working under her for much longer than you have. We have had the same concerns as you for a long time now. The incident in the underhive was, as the old man had said, 'the last straw.'"

    I nodded, aware that Glaitis didn't know about the daemons, as it was blocked to Farseer Faleaseen's sight. I chose to keep that quiet, of course.

    "How did I not know?" I asked. "How the hell didn't she know?"

    Castella smiled. "We're just way better at hiding it than you. We better get moving; we've got a bit to do, still."

    "Wait," I said. "I need to do something."

    "What?" asked Castella.

    I grinned. "I need to find my friends first."

    I called Garrakson and Torris over my commlink, and we organised to meet at Vex's office in fifteen minutes.

    "How will they feel about me being there?" Castella had asked.

    I'd just shrugged and said, "they can deal with it; I'm sure."

    Then I endeavoured to find the mailroom, I'd never been actually in there before, but I'd walked past it once or twice, but if I was good at anything, it was finding places and locations. Not things, though, finding and locating things that seemed to be something different entirely for me.

    It only took me a few minutes to locate it, and as I entered, I turned to Castella.

    "Is it okay if you stay out here while I do this?" I asked.

    Castella frowned. "Only if you tell me what it is you're doing, exactly."

    I sighed and glanced around the corridor. "This might be the end of the world, Castella. I need to organise us to make sure we have an avenue of escape. Just in case."

    Castella raised an eyebrow. "So you want to save the people who work in the mailroom?"

    I nodded. "One in particular."

    "How?" she said. "Do you have a ship capable of warp travel hidden somewhere?"

    "We do," I said. "Up in orbit."

    Castella sighed. "Yes, but..."

    "But what?" I interrupted. "We can surely afford to take on a few more."

    "Yes, but that's not the point..."

    Castella paused in her sentence as a few workers wandered by.

    "Yes, but that's not the point," she said. "Do you honestly believe that they will believe you? What are you going to do? Go in there saying that the world's going to end? They won't believe you, and even if they do, they'd most likely panic with fear, and even if they didn't, what would you have them do?"

    I frowned. "You're sounding uncharacteristically cynical, Castella."

    "No, I'm not," said Castella. "If anyone's being cynical, it's you. I believe we can stop this, so I find this irrelevant."

    I shrugged. "I don't think it is; I have to do this, Castella. I want her to live. She deserves to live."

    She rolled her eyes. "Alright, let's just say this person; she believes you and Omnartus is destroyed, and she manages to escape with us. What do you think she'd do? Her world was just destroyed, all her loved ones dead. Everything is gone."

    I saw where she was going with this, and my attention fell to the floor.

    "I have to try," I sighed.

    Castella's expression hardened, and she opened her mouth to say something but stopped when the door to the mailroom suddenly opened.

    An older man stepped out who was vaguely familiar to me. He frowned at us.

    "We can hear you," he growled.

    We just gaped at him stupidly.

    "Get in here," he said with a twitch of his head.

    We did as told, filing quickly into the large, brightly lit office and looking more than a little embarrassed. Three others sat at desks, looking at us with scrutinising gazes.

    One was Adelana; she sat the nearest. Her arms folded, her expression unreadable, but her attention was firmly on me. The other two were a tall, lanky young man, not much older than me; he looked at Castella with wide eyes, his jaw lolling dumbly. I couldn't blame him; Castella had that effect on me the first time I'd met her, and I didn't think it often that an attractive woman wearing a very tight body glove would walk through his door. The other was an ugly weathered woman who may have been in her mid-forties; I couldn't be sure.

    Again they were eerily familiar for me. My dream was now a blur I struggled to remember; I wasn't even trying to remember it, in all honesty.

    "Adelana?" said the ugly woman. "Do you know these people?"

    "Only one," she said quickly; she smiled at me. "Attelus?"

    I smiled back, wondering if Karmen was watching this and dearly hoping she wasn't.

    The old man sat at the desk next to Adelana, folded his arms and glared at me from under a hooded brow.

    "Attelus Kaltos? You're Attelus Kaltos?" he said with a sneer, then he shook his head and muttered something about me being 'the scum of the 'verse.'

    I clenched my jaw but let it slide; I deserved it, in all honesty. If he knew even half of what I've done, he'd think even lower of me, somehow. It also took balls to potentially insult someone so armed and armoured almost to their face. I couldn't help but feel a bit of admiration for him. He was just lucky I was so forgiving.

    "Attelus Kaltos," said the woman. "You're quite infamous around here, after what you did to Vex. I have to say he is an arrogant little brat at times, but he didn't deserve that; no one deserves that. Can I ask you a question, young man?"

    I sighed, put my hands behind my back and began to pace. I could think of quite a few people who deserved that—myself being on the top of the list.

    "Sure," I sighed. "Fire away."

    "Why did you strangle a kid? I don't understand it. Why would you do that?"

    I swallowed and stopped my pacing.

    "I thought he'd betrayed me," I answered hesitantly. "We had an agreement, and I'd thought he'd sold me out. I let my anger get the better of me, and I regret it ever since."

    The old man sneered again. "And I bet he bloody well didn't," he growled.

    I shrugged, trying hard to keep the smile from my face. "As it turned out, he actually did."

    Indirectly and unknowingly, but theoretically, he still did; the best way to lie is to tell the truth.

    The old man just smiled coldly and reclined back in his chair.

    Adelana frowned. "I heard, we heard about how Vex punched Attelus before, so I think he got him back."

    "Yeah!" laughed the old man. "I'd say it was the least he deserved!"

    "It was enough for Vex," said Adelana. "If it was enough for him, so it should be enough for us."

    "Enough for you, anyway," said the boy.

    "That's enough," said Castella. "My name is Castella Lethe; I am Attelus'..."

    She paused and glanced at me. "Colleague, and there is much to tell you."

    The old man laughed again. "Another bloody merc, eh? You're all the damn same."

    I clenched my jaw and took a step forward. "Now can I understand how you can hate me, I really, really can," I said softly. " And you can insult me all you want, and I'll let it slide because, as you know, I deserve it, but don't you even dare insult her. She's done nothing. Now show her some respect and introduce yourself, or I may make you do it. Okay?"

    The old man very abruptly straightened in his chair.

    "Grayhelt, Solvej, I'm the manager here; this is Seleen Gorret," he said, indicating the ugly woman, then the young man. "You and the kid's Velg Tevven already know Adelana Halgen."

    "I do," I said with a smile, nodding again to Adelana; she smiled back and averted her attention to the floor. I managed to catch in the corner of my eye Tevven bristle slightly at that.

    I pursed my lips shrugged to myself; fair enough, I thought.

    "Mr Solvej," said Castella. "Are you by chance, ex-guard?"

    Grayhelt's eyes narrowed. "Yeah."

    Abruptly she unclasped her auto pistol sidearm from its holster and handed it to him. Hesitantly he took it, then she took three clips from the pockets on her belt and placed them on his desk.

    'You do know how to use that, right?" she said.

    Grayhelt slammed a clip home and racked the slide with practised ease. "I do," he said. "Although it's been many years."

    "We heard some of what you said," said Adelana, her large blue eyes wide with fear. "What in the God Emperor's name is going on?"

    I sighed and slipped my hands into the pockets of my flak jacket. "We can't tell you much but, but..."

    I trailed off, and yet again, I sighed then glanced at Castella, who met my gaze.

    Then an idea hit me.

    "If and when anything happens," I said, starting to pace the room again. "Anything even slightly untoward in the next few hours. Promise me, swear to me, that you'll go, without a second's delay, straight to Vex's office, and there you must stay until we come for you, understand?"

    "Why?" asked Tevven.

    "Because there you'll be protected, please promise me you'll do this," I said.

    With wide eyes, they shared glances.

    "Uhh, okay, sure," said Gorret.

    "You're weirding me out here, Attelus," said Adelana nervously.

    "I'm sorry," I said, and tears suddenly welled in my eyes. "I'm sorry, Adelana. I didn't want this. I didn't mean for any of this. I'm so, so sorry. Please forgive me."

    They looked at me with utterly confused expressions.

    I sniffed, wiped away the tears and turned for the door. "Please just do as I say."

    Then I left.

    Castella followed me out and side by side; we started down the corridor. For quite a while, we walked in silence.

    "I see why you want to save her now," Castella said eventually. "She's pretty, seems nice too. I like how she stood up for you."

    I didn't answer, just frowned.

    "Speaking of which, I hope you are aware that I don't need you to stand up for me, right?"

    I stopped and turned to her, "I'm sorry," I stammered. "I didn't mean to..."

    She grinned. "Don't worry; I'm kidding! I thought it was sweet! Thank you, Attelus Kaltos."

    I grinned back nervously. "It's the very least I could do. After all, you've done for me, Castella Lethe."

    She pouted and shrugged. "Anyway, it's a start, I guess. You've still got a crap ton left to do before we finally break even."

    We started to walk again.

    "What will it take for me to make it up to you, Castella?" I said.

    She smiled. "How about you helping stop the Exterminatus before it even starts. That'd do it."

    I nodded; sounds about right.

    We walked through the lines of cogitators toward Vex's office. I could see much to my relief the Stormtroopers that the poor, deceased Olinthre had ordered to guard Vex was still there. Still ever stoic and disciplined. I couldn't do that, it'd bore the bloody hell out of me, and my mind would wander, making me less attentive. That was yet another reason why I'd make a frigging terrible soldier. Despite what Garrakson and before him, Estella, claimed.

    As we approached, I again glanced around the cavernous room, seeing the serfs were still at their cogitators, working attentively away. None sparing even Castella a glance, and I couldn't help but wonder, were they all bloody eunuchs? Did they have no soul? No humanity?

    I shook my head; I just couldn't comprehend it. I might be a ruthless killer, struggling to cling onto the last vestiges of my sanity, but I'd much rather be that than anyone of them.

    We reached the entrance of the box office as one of the Stormtroopers raised his hand, making us stop and activated his vox link, saying.

    "Attelus is here, but he has another with him named..."

    "Castella Lethe," said Castella.

    The Stormtrooper nodded and repeated her name into his vox; a second or two later, he looked at me.

    "Sergeant Garrakson asks if she can be trusted."

    I smiled and said, "more than many, more than myself."

    The Stormtrooper nodded, repeated my sentence and, after a few seconds, wordlessly waved us through.

    The others parted to let us through, their potential emotions hidden behind their helms, but this close, I could tell by their subtle body language they were bored and annoyed.

    So they were human, after all, more than the seemingly mindless automatons sitting at their cogitators anyway. That horrid, constant crashing of working cogitators must've been wearing on their nerves. Hell, it was hard enough for me to bear, and I've only been in the room for a few minutes.

    The poor bastards have stood around here for hours.

    We finally entered the large, stark white box office finding Garrakson and Torris standing around while Vex sat, lazily typing at one of the many cogitators inside.

    "You're late," growled Garrakson. "I hope you're aware we're about to move into another battle, right? Olinthre is ordering almost the entire contingent to move; we don't have the time to wait around for you..."

    "I know," I interrupted, raising my hands in compliance. "And I'm sorry, we had to make a detour on our way here. An important one."

    "More important than this?" said Garrakson.

    I said nothing, just clenched my jaw.

    "Well, it better have been bloody damn important," said Garrakson. "Anyway, what did you want to tell us, kid?"

    I sighed, glanced at Castella, then took the last Lho from its ceramic container and pulled out my lighter but was stopped as Vex suddenly shouted.

    "No smoking! The smoke could damage the circuit boards!"

    I frowned, fixed the kid with a withering glare, but still did as told.

    "I see you've smoked through most of that pack, already," said Torris.

    I shrugged. "Gave out a few to my friends just before, but I am responsible for smoking the good majority."

    Torris' already large eyes widened in mock disbelief. "Attelus Kaltos for once, actually sharing out his precious Lhos. Never thought I'd ever live to see the day!"

    I sniggered and shook my head.

    "Desperate times," I said.

    Castella's sudden, snorting laughter made me blanch and turn to her.

    "I like this man; he's funny!" she exclaimed.

    I rolled my eyes and slipped my hands into their pockets; she was back on her crazy side now.

    Frigging great.

    "Enough mucking about!" snapped Garrakson. "Attelus get your latest girlfriend in line; we haven't the damned time! And you too, Torris!"
    Garrakson turned back to me, his eyes hard. "Why did you call us here?"

    "Alright, alright," I sighed and glanced around the room, wondering where to start before it finally hit me.

    "Jeurat, I was honest with you. I think it's about time you're honest with me."

    Garrakson's brow furrowed in bemusement, and he folded his arms. "What the hell are you on about?"

    "Do you have access to Taryst's quarters?" I asked.

    "What? No," he said.

    "Really? Are you sure?" I said.

    "No!" he bellowed. "I don't know what you're on about."

    I smiled knowingly. "I know now of the relationship you and Taryst once shared, that you were both close."

    Garrakson gaped and gave Torris a glance. "How did you learn that?"

    I shook my head. "It's just one of the many, many truths I've learnt today. Now answer me, Jeurat. Now, do you have access to Taryst's quarters or not?"

    "How many times must I tell you!" he snarled. "I don't! Now tell me how you found out about that!"

    I blanched, despite myself, pretty sure he was telling the truth now. I'd asked because I still thought he might have gone back to Taryst's grotto to investigate the bunker. But it seemed that suspicion had been wrong.

    It certainly wasn't the first time I'd been wrong, and I was pretty sure it wasn't the last.

    +He does,+ came Karmen's voice suddenly through my thoughts which made me flinch in fright. +His retina is capable of opening the lock.+

    I opened my mouth to reply, but she quickly shushed me.

    +Only you can hear me now; I do not want you suddenly talking to yourself and making everyone suspicious. Jeurat still has access, but he doesn't remember it because Taryst had me erase that from his memory.+

    Typical, I thought.

    +I suggested that Taryst just change the password, but he refused. He wanted to keep Garrakson as it.+

    Or he could've just lied and said he changed it, I thought, then I felt a pang of sympathy for poor Garrakson. The person he loved had ruthlessly ordered his mind psychically manipulated so that he could keep a damn password. Taryst, could you have been any more of a bastard?

    "Attelus!" snarled Garrakson, knocking me from my reverie. "Answer me now!"

    I sighed. "Jeurat, I'm sorry."

    "Sorry? Sorry about what?" he demanded.

    "You do have access to the bunker," I said. "You just don't remember it."


    "Taryst, he had your memory of it erased," I said.

    Suddenly Garrakson's eyes widened, and he straightened with a gasp. As I assumed, Karmen brought back the memory as she'd done in the top of the tower a few hours ago.

    "Jeu? You okay?" asked Torris.

    "Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay," said Garrakson. "I remember now; I just can't believe he'd do that to me."

    I frowned and dropped my gaze to the floor.

    "This world may be ending," I said. "Sooner or later, it might be destroyed by exterminatus; that bunker might be our only way of survival."

    "Exterminatus?" said Torris. 'How?"

    "It's hard to explain," I said. "I don't have the time to explain it all, but..."

    I hesitated, sucking air through my clenched teeth.

    "It's not just that down there," said Garrakson. "There's also a ship we can use."

    "A ship?" asked Vex.

    "Yeah," said Garrakson. "A well maintained and fast system ship, we could use to escape."

    He looked at me, his eyes watering. "Attelus, please tell me, I need to know. Taryst is dead, isn't he?"

    All I could manage was a half-hearted nod.

    Garrakson sighed. "I'd thought so. I'd known so. Now I won't ask the how or the why, but tell me this, did you kill him?"

    I met his gaze. "No, I swear on my life. I swear I didn't kill Taryst."

    Garrakson didn't say anything for a long time; he just studied me intently.

    Finally, he straightened. "No, you didn't; I didn't think you did."

    I sighed. "I'm sorry."

    Garrakson shrugged and sighed. "I knew it was going to happen sooner or later; there's nothing to be sorry about, kid. I just wished you'd told me sooner."

    "I just thought..."

    "Yeah, I'm sure you thought a lot of things, kid," he interrupted but sounded more sad than angry. "It's alright. I'd have probably done the same if I was you. Thanks for telling me, at least."

    I couldn't help but sigh with relief, pleasantly surprised that Garrakson was letting me off so lightly.

    "I hate to ask this," said Torris. "But how long have you known?"

    "Just today," I said, swallowing back the guilt.

    Torris nodded and folded his arms across his chest. "I also have to ask. What's wrong with Olinthre?"

    My eyes widened despite myself; it was only a split second before I controlled myself.

    "I wouldn't know," I said, glancing at Castella to see how she'd reacted. She met my eyes but showed me nothing.

    Torris smiled and shook his head, beginning to pace the room.

    Garrakson shook his head as well and groaned. "You wouldn't know how long Taryst has been dead for?"

    I clenched my jaw. "No."

    "And still you lie, Attelus," Torris said. "Olinthre isn't himself, Taryst isn't himself, what the hell is going on?"

    I froze in fright as it suddenly hit me; I was backed into a corner. Especially because Garrakson now knew he had access and the password.

    I sighed and slid my hands into the pockets of my flak jacket. I had no choice; I had to tell them. I had to tell them everything.

    So I did; I told them everything. Well, almost everything.

    This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2021/04/16 07:15:21

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    It was a rushed, abridged version of what I'd seen and done over the day; everyone stared at me with abstract awe and disbelief, even Castella, who I suspected to know a lot of it, already looked taken aback.

    I told of how I was kidnapped by Edracian and his Venenum temple agent, of my fight with Elandria and her tragic death at the hands of fake Taryst. Then of my horrific beating at the hands of the Mimic, It's defeat and my findings of Olinthre's and Taryst's bodies. The pict I took of the dead Interrogator and my meeting with Karmen after she'd regain consciousness. The later meeting with Glaitis, then our talk with Wesley all over less than ten minutes. Never was I interrupted; everyone just stood in silence and let me talk. Every so often, Karmen's voice would filter through my thoughts, suggesting that I shouldn't say this or that, but each time, I ignored her.

    The only things I neglected to tell was of Faleaseen's influence over me and how I'd almost turned into a daemon in Brutis Bone's hideout. Otherwise, I didn't hold back. Once I'd done it took everyone a few minutes to process it all.

    "I had no idea," stammered Castella; she was the first to speak. "By the God-Emperor, I had no idea."

    I looked at her, suspicious, wondering exactly how much I'd told that she'd 'no idea' of, but refrained from asking.

    "So your master is responsible for everything?" said Torris, his usually deep voice high-pitched with anger and disbelief. "She and that Thing that's now masquerading as Olinthre?"

    I nodded and clenched my jaw, seeing I had allies that wanted vengeance on Glaitis as much as me.

    In all honesty, I wasn't sure that was a good thing or not.

    "Did you know anything about this?" Garrakson demanded, glaring at Castella under a hooded brow.

    Castella raised her hands in deference. "No! I swear I knew nothing, besides what Attelus mentioned me in!" she stammered. "I had already said I didn't."

    "You'd better be telling the truth," he growled. "If I find out otherwise, I will..."

    "You'll what, Jeurat?" I interrupted. "If you try to do anything to her, you'll have to go through me first."

    Garrakson grimaced with an ugly expression. "Typical bloody Attelus. You'd do anything for a pretty face."

    I shrugged. "Perhaps so," I admitted. "But my threat still stands."

    He hissed air through gritted teeth then spat on the floor, I expected Vex to protest, but the boy didn't move or say anything. Seemingly too shocked for words.

    "Calm down, Garrakson," I said. "Don't make me regret telling you this."

    "I'll kill that bitch!" he snarled, and I truly hoped he meant Glaitis. "I'll frigging kill her, I swear!"

    "You're angry, and I understand!" I snapped. "But she was also responsible for the death of the one I loved as well. We're both in the same boat here! You lectured me earlier on how I can't control my emotions, don't make yourself a damned hypocrite!"

    Garrakson said nothing, just spat again and began to brood.

    "You'll get your vengeance," I said with a smile, despite myself. "Now isn't the time, though."

    I caught Torris' look then; he regarded me with suspicion. I ignored him.

    "So, what do we do now?" stammered Vex, and now more than ever, I was reminded just how young he was.

    "We do what we were always going to do," I said. "Stop Edracian and the Exterminatus."

    "Will that be enough, though?" said Torris. "What the traitor Feuilt had said hinted there was someone else out there."

    I shrugged. "Don't know. We will worry about that later; right now, I suggest we get ready for the fight ahead."

    "You think it's another trap?" asked Garrakson, looking like he was calming down now. My words were harsh, I knew, but for a tough ex-guard vet like him, it needed to be.

    I smiled. "Of course, it is."

    "This time, we'll be ready, though," said Torris. "Jeu, you got any more ammo for your autocannon?"

    "I do, I do," said Garrakson. "Got some more from the armoury a while back; you think we'll encounter more daemons, kid?"

    "Don't know," I said with a shrug. "Hopefully not."

    "I will pray there aren't," said Garrakson with a heavy sigh.

    I frowned, not like it'll make any difference, I thought but said nothing.

    "As will I," said Castella, looking to me, and she frowned grimly.

    "So, what now?" Garrakson said. "This changes everything, Attelus. Now I have to take orders from a fake Olinthre? Not just that but a Xenos? Also, while knowing it is responsible for the deaths of not just Taryst and Olinthre but Colonel Barhurst as well?"

    I clenched my teeth and glanced at Torris, seeing his expression was of cold anger. Then to Vex, who looked more terrified than anything, they all had one thing in common, everyone was looking at me for guidance, for reassurance.

    For leadership, and in all honesty, I didn't mind. I felt clear-headed and confident. It felt right; perhaps I was a leader.

    I sighed and shook my head. "Yeah," I said softly. "Yeah, you will, Garrakson. It's hard, I know. But now, my friend isn't the time. We need to stop Edracian, and we need 'Olinthre' to do that. We must put aside our personal vendettas for now. We will get the opportunity after all this. Okay?"

    Torris smiled. "Attelus Kaltos, ever pragmatic, aren't we?"

    "Always," I said with a grin.

    Before anyone else could make a response, Garrakson's commlink suddenly shrilled.

    "Garrakson here," he said, and his disgusted grimace immediately afterwards made it obvious the Olinthre-thing was on the other end.

    "Yeah, yeah, got you. We'll be right there," Garrakson said before cutting the link, and he turned to us. "Me and Torris have to go meet 'Olinthre' in the vehicle depot. Looks we'll be moving soon."

    I nodded and placed my hands behind my back, "well, let's go then, shall we?" I said.

    We left Vex at his office with his guards and followed Garrakson through the building, moving among the constant hustle and bustle of activity throughout; many were Merc squads like ours, running to and fro with full combat gear. Some were carrying bits of flak board and other siege equipment. Smart, we never know what might happen; we could be attacked here easily. I wondered whose idea it was, most likely Brutis Bones' or Wesley's. I doubted it was the Olinthre-thing or Arlathan.

    Along the way, we stopped briefly at the armoury so Garrakson could retrieve his Autocannon. Torris and I grabbed a combat shotgun each, knowing it'll be useful in what was sure to be yet another fight in a closed, confined space. I also took three frag grenades, three Krak grenades, as well as five clips of manstopper rounds for my auto pistol and three dumm dumm clips, just in case.

    Garrakson and Torris never stopped and talked this time with the many other mercs walking the corridors, just exchanged respectful nods or salutes. Thank the Emperor; it reminded me of the old days. When we'd have to walk through that alleyway and Garrakson, with the rest, would stop to talk with seemingly everyone along the way.

    Much to mine and Elandria's choler.

    I frowned at the thought of Elandria, and I wondered for the hundredth time why Edracian wanted her body off-world.

    I shook away the thought.

    It took us a good ten minutes to reach our destination.

    The vehicle depot was huge, at least thirty metres in length and fifteen in width. It took up three stories of the northern side of the tower. Housing what must've been dozens of vehicles. Everything from limousines to light military trucks.

    It was like the rest of the building, a complete hive of activity as dozens and dozens of mercs filed into their transports.

    Waiting for us at a balcony overlooking the brightly lit depot was Brutis, Wesley, Olinthre and Arlathan. They turned to face us as we approached.

    "Well, well," said the Shapeshifter with a smug smile that didn't suit Olinthre's face. "I didn't expect you'd come with so much company! Castella, Torris, Attelus."

    It said 'Castella' and 'Torris' with a welcoming tone; when It came to me, its eyes narrowed, and it growled my name through gritted teeth.

    I just smiled and nodded.

    Garrakson eyed Olinthre with barely concealed contempt, and I only just fought back the urge to cringe. He was a soldier, one with a good head on him. But he lacked the extensive training in acting and subterfuge that Castella and I went through, that it'd went through.

    It eyed Garrakson up and down, then gave me a knowing grin.

    Perhaps in hindsight, it was a bad idea for all of us to come here. I just wanted to keep an eye on Garrakson, see if he gave anything away. Which he did, of course, but at least I knew that It knew. I guessed that was something.

    Arlathan approached and handed Garrakson a data slate.

    "That contains the schematics of Edracian's mansion," he said. "Got it from the arbites."

    I frowned, doubting they'd still be applicable, but you never know.

    As Garrakson scrolled through them, it was a vast, ten-story, sixty by thirty building. It was full of wide corridors that twisted and turned to an almost labyrinthine extent. It looked like it'd been built for the specific intent of being extraordinarily defensible.

    "Hmm," I said. "Any idea why the place was abandoned?"

    Arlathan smiled. "Fifty years ago, it was occupied by a very wealthy, well-known family. The Dalinetates, it'd been in their name since the place was first built. Over two hundred years ago-"

    "And let me guess," I interrupted. "Someone, either the patron at the time or one of his closest kin, dabbled in forbidden knowledge and thus got the Inquisition on their arses. The family were declared as heretics and executed to a man. Am I right?"

    Arlathan grinned and nodded, looking genuinely impressed. "Yeah, pretty much. The place has been said to be accursed and abandoned ever since. Many local legends surround the place like a bad smell."

    Torris furrowed his brow in bemusement. "Why wasn't it destroyed, then?"

    Arlathan pursed his lips and shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine, my friend. Who knows, only the Inquisitor who ordered the purge, I'd say. Who that wasn't recorded in the database, of course."

    I sniffed.

    "The place looks seriously built to be defended," said Garrakson. "What's the plan to crack this nut?"

    Brutis Bones grinned and stepped forward. "The good old-fashioned way, surround the bastard, break it open, then storm it."

    I looked at the schemata again and the ten-metre tall adamantium walls that stood a good six metres out from the building itself.

    "What about the wall?" I asked.

    Brutis looked at Castella and me. "That's where you creepy stealthy types come into play. We'll provide a distraction with the bulk of the force while you slip in and plant the explosives on the wall. One of you for each side."

    I furrowed my brow, instantly seeing a problem with the ploy. "It's already been established he has a psyker on his side; surely it'd detect our approach?"

    That is where I will come in, came Karmen's voice through my mind. I will distract the psyker as our soldiers will distract theirs.

    "Karmen," I said. "Do you think the psyker knew you followed them?"

    I am under the impression it didn't, and I am pretty sure.

    "Anyway," said Brutis as he opened one of the pouches on his belt and pulled out a small device, no larger than the palm of my hand. "If you're so worried about psychic detection, you can borrow one of these babies, psy-jammers- Throne Agent issue. I've got five of them, one on me, the other four for you, kid, Castella and the other two. Where are they now anyway?"

    Castella and I shared a glance.

    "Taking care of business," she said, which made the Mimic give her an intrigued look. "But they'll be here soon."

    "We're here now," said Darrance as he and Hayden approached us.

    Brutis frowned and handed us a psy-jammer each.

    I suspected I wouldn't need one but took it nonetheless. I didn't want to look even more suspicious.

    "I'm placing a fething lot of trust on you," Brutis said. "Once we're through with this siege. I expect them back and in one fething piece. They're damn expensive pieces of equipment. If you even scratch it, I'll hunt you down and feed you to my pet wolf. Especially you, Attelus."

    I furrowed my brow; why me, 'especially?'

    In response, Castella grinned then nodded understanding; Hayden made no expression at all, and Darrance just smiled smugly.

    "I've already sent some men to scout out the area," said the Mimic. "We should be hearing back from them soon."

    I sucked air through clenched teeth. "That's if they're not dead already."

    Castella rolled her eyes. "Attelus, ever the optimist."

    I shrugged.

    "You two, do you know the plan?" said Brutis to Hayden and Darrance.

    Darrance nodded and tapped the microbead in his ear. "Yeah, we heard. Castella had us connected over her vox. So we could hear the entire thing."

    I stiffened, despite myself and glared at Castella. Did she do that while I told them what's happened?

    She met my look and shook her head slightly.

    Clenching my jaw and I looked back at the Mimic, seeing it watching us still. Its expression was now unreadable.

    Brutis frowned, looking like he disapproved, but nodded nonetheless.

    "Alright," he said. "We've got one and only one shot at this. So we can't mess this up! And time isn't on our side! We'll begin the attack in two hours. I need you four there first, so you'd better be moving soon. You've got ten minutes to get ready, so hurry it up."

    "We are ready," said Darrance. "We will leave now."

    Brutis' brow furrowed, and he pursed his lips. "Fair enough. The vehicle numbered two-two eight has been set aside for your transport."

    Without ceremony, Castella, Darrance and Hayden nodded then started toward the stairway leading into the depot. I could hear Darrance mutter something about 'who died and put him in charge.'

    I went to walk after them but stopped as Brutis said my name.

    With a smile, Brutis dismissed everyone else then he and Wesley approached me. The Inquisitor's heavy footfalls clanged across the metal deck.

    "You're good," he said bluntly. "I saw you and that Castella woman fight the daemons back at my base. You're good; I am indeed impressed. I've met many an acclaimed swordmaster who is twice your age but hold not even half your skill."

    I stood, bemused by this sudden praise. "Uhh, thank you," I said hesitantly.

    "Yeah, I would get you to join my band, but there's one small, tiny problem," he said, and his eyes narrowed. "I don't like you."

    I frowned and realised I should've seen this coming.

    "I know your kind, manipulative, scheming, arrogant. Smart arse little bastards like you I have no time for," he said on. "You may have everyone else fooled, but not me."

    He clenched his jaw. "I know what you did up in Taryst's grotto. You led the conversation, made me have to confront you about your miraculous healing then because you knew your allies would stand up for you."

    "I-I don't," I stammered.

    Brutis shook his head. "Do not even attempt to deny it; I see potential in you, young man. But with those with potential, if they live long enough to live up to it. Can only be bad or good for the innocent people of this great Imperium. There is no in-between, isn't that right, Wesley?"

    Wesley nodded. "Usually, I'd be averse to such black and white thinking, but in this instance, I make an exception."

    Brutis smiled and turned back to me. "I really should kill you, but I am not sure I can and even if I did succeed. I'd then invite the ire of all the 'friends' you've manipulated onto your side."

    His face turned grim. "All that I say, Attelus is this; don't make me regret letting you live. Because if you do live up to that potential and it is anyway harmful to this Imperium, to my Imperium of Mankind. I will hunt you down, and I will make sure you die the most painful death you can imagine. Do I make myself clear?"

    All I could manage was a wide-eyed nod.

    "Good!" he said, back to being friendly in the blink of an eye. "That is all; you better not keep your allies waiting any longer."

    Again I nodded and drunkenly turned to walk away, not exactly sure what to make of that.

    +He really sees straight through you, doesn't he?+ said Karmen.

    "Shut up, Karmen," I growled as I began to descend the stairs.

    It was early morning, five-thirty local time according to my wrist chron to be exact, and during this time of year, it should've been sunrise. Not that you can tell for gak with the constant smog covering the sky above in black.

    Have I said I hated hive worlds already? Well, I do, whether they're Malfi or Scintilla or Solomon, I frigging hate them. I guess growing up on a more liberal, progressive agri world like Elbyra would make one that way.

    I stopped and swiftly, smoothly sidled into the shadows—one of my knives now drawn and clutched tightly to my chest.

    Two figures emerged from around the next corner, mere shadows walking through the constant smoke.

    I clenched my teeth and waited as they walked toward me, and it didn't take long for them to come into view. They were a pair of ragged, beaten locals sporting thick grey, wiry beards and wearing torn old trench coats. Dregs, scum, the lowest of the low, this was one of the few parts of the over hive their kind could inhabit. But something about them seemed off; they moved with a little too much confidence for my liking and looked too much to be the 'typical' homeless person.

    I wondered just how many of the locals living around here were Edracian's goons in disguise. I also pondered if any had seen the 'Olinthre' scouts and reported it back to Edracian already. Not that it'd matter any, he already knew we were coming; he had to know.

    One thing also gave them away; they weren't talking, only walked silently, surveying their surroundings with a subtle zealousness I couldn't help admire.

    They didn't see me, though, as they passed by barely a metre as I crouched in the shadows.

    Once they were out of earshot, I whispered, "Karmen? Can you read their minds?"

    +No, I cannot,+ came her reply. +If I expended more power, maybe so. But I will be at risk of being detected then. Usually, it wouldn't take me so much; even when I'm at this far range, it would be a safe bet to say their minds are blocked.+

    I smiled and shook my head. "Of course they are, oh how I love being right. By the way, I have a bone to pick with you."


    "If you can use your powers so far and so effectively from your body, why did you need to go to the Twilight bar at all? If you'd stayed behind, you wouldn't have fallen into Glaitis' trap."

    She sighed. +That mission may have required my full strength; we didn't know exactly what we were going into and also...also.+

    "Also what?"

    +Also, I was ordered to eliminate you and your three acquaintances once we'd secured Brutis Bones. That would've required my full strength, I am sure. I would be with you now if I could be.+

    "Hmm, makes sense," I whispered, feeling unsurprised in all honesty; I had rejected Taryst's offer to join his organisation; that would've been my punishment if all had gone according to his plan. Good thing it hadn't.

    "Tell me, Karmen, would you've killed me?"

    She sighed again. +No, I would've tried my best to take you alive, I swear.+

    I clenched my jaw, unsure whether to believe her or not. But without a further word, I was moving again, quietly but quickly and keeping low so my shade wouldn't show in the smoke. I had a print out of the map of the area in my pocket, but I didn't need it. My sense of direction, as innate as always, led me through the maze of hazy alleyways. Having to stop six times more to sulk in the shadows as more 'locals' passed by before I finally found my designated destination. I was allotted by Hayden, who'd marked it with an "X" on my map.

    A three-story, old and long-abandoned restaurant, set in a 'T' junction as it met the main road. By and far not the tallest building that towered about, it was precisely why it was chosen.

    I walked up, checking my sides while trying not to look too suspicious and st the door. Found it unlocked, and quickly I slipped into the darkened interior, silenced pistol drawn and raised in my right, a throwing knife in my lowered left hand.

    The place was an utter mess, old torn ruffled paper browned with age laid scattered all around. Immediately a state of melancholy fell over me; the building would've been nice fifty years ago. Tables and chairs scattered everywhere, rusted, broken, beaten, turned over or against the walls. The air was thick with moisture and the strong stench of rot, making it hard to breathe.

    Trying not to gag, I moved silently through the mess, careful to keep an eye out for anyone hidden in the shadows.

    I ascended the wide, worn stairway up to the first floor, finding it much the same as the ground and the second. The third was much the same but had a large porch facing eastwards for what I'd cynically call the "view." I made sure to check every inch of every floor, the kitchen, behind the bar everywhere, just in case. The odds of anyone being here were high; if Edracian could see the future, he could know I was going to be here.

    But there was nothing, no sign that anyone had been near the place in months. I wasn't sure whether to like that or not. As quickly as I could, I set the invisible laser trip alarms, one at the front door, another at the top of the third story staircase and switched their signal to my comm link's channel. They were given to me from Hayden on the drive over, courtesy of Glaitis very' personal and very illegal arsenal. Of course.

    Eventually, I ascended the staircase leading to the roof. Like every other roof in this hive, it was flat with a thick rockcrete buttress around the edge. But there were even more tables and chairs scattered about—the seven to eight-story buildings all around towering overhead like very tall, disapproving parents scolding a four-year-old.

    I smiled at the terrible simile and crouched down near the west-facing wall allotting me a good view of Edracian's building, about a kilometre through the rockcrete forest. It was an excellent choice on Hayden's part, as it gave me a good view but not too good so that I could be seen. The Edracian's base was, as per the schemata, a big, grey, unappealing rectangle, but one I could admire; I was never a fan of anything overly ostentatious and fancy. I looked at it through my scope, activating the low light vision and could make out quite a few guards patrolling the wall and courtyard; I counted twelve on this side at least. All of them made no effort to disguise; they were carrying an assortment of solid projectiles and lasrifles and wearing armour.

    "In position," I hissed over the vox.

    "Good work, Attelus," Hayden's voice crackled. "Although I'm sorry to tell you, you're the last to get there."

    I frowned, unsurprised but suspecting that none of the others had been so thorough in checking their areas. In this galaxy, paranoia seemed more a positive attribute than negative one. In some ways, anyway.

    "What have you found?" he asked.

    "About a dozen guards on my side," I reported as I panned my scope, checking if anyone was in the other buildings, I'd positioned myself where even those with the higher ground would find it hard to see me, but it was good to check, you know, just in case. "Eight on the wall, four in what I can make out in the courtyard. It seems Edracian has thrown out all discrepancy. All the windows have been boarded, and I can't see any signs of life in the buildings about."

    "Encounter any "locals" on your way there?"

    "Yeah, eight total, patrolling in pairs. Blatantly scouts. I'm surprised Edracian would allow such sloppiness from his peons."

    "Or we're just that good," said Hayden, sounding uncharacteristically smug. "Did you take them out?"

    "No," I said. "Killing them might've triggered some sort of psychic alarm or some such. Karmen also told me they'd been mind blocked, so it's pretty much confirmed. They're Edracian's goons."

    "Good thinking," said Hayden, "great minds think alike and that crap. Alright, we've got three-quarters of an hour before the rest of the force arrives. We've still got to scout forward and check for traps and more patrols. Report back once you've done. Good work, and watch your six."

    I smiled about to make a retort but said instead, "thank you."

    "You're welcome, kid, just remember you owe us. You owe us big."

    Then he cut the link.

    "Fair enough," I sighed.

    The attack came, surprisingly enough, straight on schedule. Two thousand total of Brutis' Hammers, Arlathan's Magistratum Enforcers and "Olinthre's" mercs advanced on Edracian's mansion-fortress from the north, south, east and west.

    Using the intelligence gathered by my allies and me, they killed Edracian's scouts. I watched as they exchanged fire from the buildings around and listened to the comm chatter. In total, the scouts lasted a good ten minutes before they were finally overwhelmed and killed. We lost seventy-eight men, most of whom were Brutis Bones' goons; they only lost twenty-five. I shouldn't have been surprised; they were Throne agents. Although I was sure that me, Darrance, Hayden and Castella could've taken them out without losing even one of us. But the strategy depended on our information and the enemy not knowing of our presence.

    Brutis had made this decision, perhaps knowing he'd lose more men or perhaps he'd underestimated the capabilities of Edracian's forces. I doubted it was the latter. That seemed a little callous to me.

    The Magistratum were the first to arrive in their armoured vans and formed a cordon around the place. The Enforcers stormed out the back doors, exchanging fire with the forces on the wall as they moved to secure the nearby buildings for cover. Both the mercs and Brutis' men were soon after. The roar of battle was deafening, the flashes of fire blinding even from this distance. I didn't need to listen to the comm to know the forces on the wall were wreaking utter havoc on them. The casualties were mounting and mounting for the first few minutes of combat. Quickly, I counted the enemies on the wall. There were fifty, now. Ten of which crewed on five mounted heavy stubbers that had been quick, professionally deploying mere seconds after the main force's arrival.

    I clenched my teeth, trying to fight the cold fear creeping up my spine. Never had I ever been so near such a large-scale conflict before. Even from so far, it was terrifying, but this couldn't qualify even as small on the overall scale. I'd heard of forces of hundreds of thousands, or sometimes, even millions fought one another, on battlefields from one edge of the galaxy to the next, every day.

    It made me feel small, insignificant, even more than usual and not just that I was expected to plant an explosive on that wall somehow and make it out the way before it exploded. It was suicide, sure as hell suicide. Brutis Bones wasn't asking much, wasn't he? He was putting a hell of a lot of faith in us, too much in my opinion. All it'd take was one wild stray round, coming from either side, bullets didn't tend to discriminate, to end it, and there was a gak ton shot down there.

    No wonder so many needed to believe their Emperor protects them if they had to fight through conflicts such as this. Even now, I still didn't, and even when I got down there, I still wouldn't. I knew no good god would want to spend even a second to help me. I wouldn't deserve their help, and I didn't want it, nor did I need it.

    Suddenly, I saw a soldier shooting one of the heavy stubbers head explode in a shower of brains and blood, which coated his allies around in crimson. That was Hayden, no doubt working his magic. I wished I had a Long-las so I could do something to help, not just crouch, watch and wait, not that I'd be all that good at it.

    The fight intensified, now the besiegers had secured the surrounding buildings, and the armoured vans had advanced to provide better cover for those on the ground.

    The enemy casualties were increasing as the attackers gained a better angle on the defenders, but they were still holding, with calmness and discipline that I couldn't help but admire.

    And envy.

    I sighed my teeth on edge and wishing that I'd get the order to move soon despite the danger.

    That was when my microbead chimed, making me flinch in fright again. The tune indicating Someone tripped the lower laser. I stiffened, unslung my shotgun and quickly slipped aside the doorway.

    Another followed the first chime in quick succession, only two, I could handle that, maybe. If there weren't more and the others had just managed to dodge the laser.

    I started hearing footsteps, somehow heavy enough to hear over the din of battle.

    "Kid," came Garrakson's voice over the vox. "We're approaching your six; it would be appreciated if you didn't shoot us."

    "Garrakson?" I whispered, wide-eyed with surprise.

    "Yeah, it's me, kid," he said. "Me and Torris, and before you ask, neither of us are shapeshifting; Xenos arseholes, we're here to help."

    The second trip laser went off.


    "Kid, we know what mission you're on; we wanted to help you out, make sure you get through it."


    I stopped my sentence as Torris and Garrakson stepped on the roof. Garrakson still with his Autocannon and Torris with his shotgun.

    "But, but Brutis' ordered me to go alone," I stammered.

    Torris shook his head. "Don't really care; we're with you. You've done enough alone already."

    Garrakson grinned. "Besides, I'm the explosives expert; it just wouldn't be right if I weren't there."

    I nodded and laughed nervously. "If I may be cliche. Like the old times, eh?"

    Torris tilted his head. "Like the old times, eh," he echoed in good humour. "Kid, you may have a very, very long list of issues and character flaws, but despite that, we like ya. For some reason, I can't think of yet, but maybe we'll live long enough to figure that out one day."

    "Doubt it," said Garrakson, grinning.

    I grinned back. "Thank you. Despite everything I've done, thank you."

    Just then, my microbead beeped.

    "All infiltrators, advance," said Brutis.

    "Time to go, kid?" said Garrakson. "You ready?"

    I stood with wide eyes and looked at the battle down the road, realising I was far from ready.

    "As ready as I'll ever be," I sighed.

    "Stick with us, kid," said Garrakson. "You'll be fine."

    "Okay, thanks, guys, I...I really appreciate this. I do."

    Then we were moving.

    We jogged the kilometre, well Garrakson and Torris jogged; I walked quickly to allow them to keep up. It took us a good six minutes to reach the battle zone. The sights and sounds were somehow becoming brighter and louder than before. The blood thundered in my ears, and my heart lodged in my throat, making it hard to breathe.

    We were all fit, but Garrakson still struggled; his Autocannon must've been a good forty, fifty kilograms. I knew I could barely lift that big bastard, let alone run a kilometre with it.

    Actually, on second thought, perhaps I could.

    Finally, we arrived at the cordon, finding two Magistratum armoured vans blocking the way and twelve enforcers standing guard. One of them being Arlathan Karkin, who looked at us with watery eyes and seeming even paler and tired than before.

    "Hey," he said. "You're here. Good, I'll send out the word, and we'll get started."

    I didn't reply, feeling the corner of my mouth twitch, honestly surprised he didn't make a snarky comment on us being late or something along those lines.

    "He's here," said Arlathan. "Are the others in position?"

    Arlathan nodded to the reply I couldn't hear.

    "Yeah, okay," said Arlathan, who cut the link and looked at Torris and Garrakson. "And what are you two doing?

    "We're going with him," said Torris with finality.

    Arlathan nodded and said, "then, I'm going too."

    I couldn't hide my surprise.

    Arlathan sighed. "I need to do this; I messed up, bad and..."

    "Yeah yeah, blah blah blah," interrupted Garrakson as he walked on. "You want to make up for your earlier cowardice and incompetence. I've heard it all before."

    Garrakson walked past me. "You and the kid seem to have a lot in common."

    He grinned and looked over his shoulder at us. "Now, you coming or what?"

    The four of us stuck to the shadows as we advanced, and I had to fight the urge to cover my ears from the constant roar of battle. We stopped at the side of the closest building, pushing our backs against the wall.

    "As much as I appreciate you guys coming," I said. "I think you'll just slow me down."

    "We'll be right behind you," said Torris.

    I sniggered. "I doubt that."

    "I won't," said Garrakson, hefting his Autocannon with a grin pointedly.

    Arlathan shook his head. "You have the bomb ready?"

    I nodded and pulled it from its pouch on my belt. "Push this button here, right? Tear off the adhesive and plant it against the wall. I've got ten seconds to make it clear before it blows."

    Arlathan nodded.

    "Can I have a look?" said Garrakson, and I handed it to him.

    He studied it intently for a few seconds and fiddled with it a bit before giving it back.

    "Now you have ten seconds," he said.

    My blood turned to ice. "What?"

    Garrakson shrugged. "Your timer was actually set to five; who gave you this?"

    It was the Olinthre-thing, he'd given us the explosives just before we'd left, and with a shaking hand, I activated my vox.

    "Castella! Hayden! Darrance! Check the timers on your bombs!"

    Their confused replies chorused through the vox.

    "Do it! They may've been timed to five instead of ten seconds! Do it now!"

    I cut the link before they could reply and snarled a curse; I should've checked, I should've suspected something! Why didn't we check the timers? I could only thank goodness Garrakson had looked.

    Arlathan looked at us, confused. "What the hell?"

    Suddenly a thought chilled my bones, and I looked at Garrakson then activated my commlink to 'Olinthre's' channel.

    "What do you want?" came Olinthre's voice almost immediately. "I'm in the middle of a frigging firefight. I-!"

    I clenched my jaw and cut the link.

    "You ready?" asked Arlathan.

    I nodded hesitantly while fighting the fear roiling in my guts.

    Arlathan activated his link. "He's ready. Are all the others ready?"

    He nodded and raised his hand. "All forces providing cover fire in five, four, the, two, one! Go! Go!"

    We were then around the corner and sprinting, sprinting into a hell I had never known before and would never forget.

    I covered my ears and clenched my teeth as I ran through the gunfire; even then, the roar of the combined cover fire was horrific. The blaze of light would've been blinding if I hadn't closed my eyes, and it left afterglows on my retinas.

    It was a good fifty-metre space to the wall; it mustn't have taken me more than a few seconds to sprint the distance; it was a disorienting, sickening hell of light and sound. I could barely see even a metre in front of me. It took me the entire time I screamed; I didn't figure this out until I finally reached the wall. I saw the big blank grey wall approaching only in the very last second; I only managed to slow down slightly, twisting, so I hit shoulder first instead of the face first before I hit it hard. I cried out as I bounced back and reeled to the ground, agony burning up my shoulder and along my arm.

    Dazed, shaking and hurting like hell, my breaths shuddering in my throat, I began to clamber to my feet. I didn't deem to dwell on the stupidity of what I'd just done; under the same circumstance, many may've done the same.

    I was barely kneeling when a hand suddenly grabbed me from under the arm and abruptly hauled me to my feet. Torris smiled at me, and at his side was Arlathan, who was still somehow giving that guilty look, despite the situation.

    "By the Emperor, kid, you're fast!" Torris gasped.

    I grinned nervously back and, with a shaking hand, pulled out the bomb.

    "Hurry up before they notice us!" Torris yelled.

    I nodded and approached the wall, Arlathan and Torris pressing their backs against it at my flanks. I had to fight hard not to flinch at every roar and scream around.

    I almost dropped the bomb at least twice as I struggled to tear off the adhesive strip with sweaty, shaking hands and when I flinched in fright as another gasping figure crashed heavily against the wall alongside me. It was Garrakson, still somehow hauling his Autocannon and who managed me an encouraging nod, despite sweating up a storm.

    "We're with ya, kid!" he yelled. "We're your friends, and we're with you!"

    I nodded in return with tears in my eyes and finally managed to do pull off the slip. As quickly as I could, I planted the bomb and about to set it when the other explosives went off, one after another in quick secession; their bone-shaking, mind-shattering roars eclipsing every other sight and sound—followed by blood-curdling screams and clattering crunching of falling debris.

    There were three of them, of course, I'd come last, yet again. I could only hope that the others had made it out the way in time.

    With a grimace and newfound determination, I flipped the switch, causing the red light to blink on and off.

    "Everyone clear!" I yelled at the top of my lungs, and we were on the move, sprinting sideways, Arlathan and me, right. Torris and Garrakson; left.

    I covered my ears and threw myself to the ground as the world turned into a blaze of light.

    We were the first through the smoking roughly two-metre wide breach, using the large chunks of burnt, black debris as cover from the withering gunfire raining from the building above.

    "Making the breach was just the frigging start, wasn't it?" I snarled over the cacophony, trying to shake away the ringing in my ears.

    Garrakson laughed heartily as he crouched behind the blackened remains of a heavy stubber, seeming utterly unfazed, "this your first siege, kid?"

    I nodded nervously.

    Garrakson laughed. "Then you're doing remarkably well! This would be my what? Twentieth? Maybe, not sure! I remember my first well, though! Shamed to say I pissed my pants! But that one was a frig ton larger than this one! That's for sure!"

    I clenched my jaw and looked at Torris. Garrakson sounded a little too enthusiastic for my liking; it was disconcerting to see the usually more stoic ex-guardsman so...happy.

    Torris just pursed his thick lips and shrugged.

    Garrakson was on his feet, Autocannon chattering deafeningly, spraying the fire wildly across the mansion. The Adamantium walls held easily against the barrage, but the flak boards against the windows, not so much.

    Arlathan was the first to join, firing his shotgun over the edge of his bit of debris.

    I watched the walls with Torris, hoping like all hell that the cover fire from the buildings around was enough to pin down the enemy survivors still up there.

    I'd hoped for too much, as then I saw a darkened figure appear overhead, gun raised.

    I didn't hesitate, my shotgun kicked so violently I almost fell on my arse, and the figure's chest exploded in a shower of gore and, with a cry, abruptly dropped out of sight.

    It was then that finally, the rest of the force moved through the breach, pushing past me as they advanced, shooting their differentiating assortment of weapons sporadically at the building.

    They met very little resistance as they stormed into the courtyard, Garrakson's Autocannon pinning the defenders indefinitely.

    "How are we going to get inside?" yelled Torris.

    "The building's wall isn't as thick as the surrounding one!" I yelled. "I could try to cut a hole through with my powersword!"

    "Or we could try that!" bellowed Garrakson with a laugh as he pointed out the others were just climbing through the windows.

    "Or that!" I said with a shrug and wondered why a supposed fortress had windows situated so close to the ground.

    This was too easy, way too easy.

    This message was edited 6 times. Last update was at 2021/04/17 00:02:24

    "The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.
    My story! Secret War
    After his organisation is hired to hunt down an influential gang leader on the Hive world, Omnartus. Attelus Kaltos is embroiled deeper into the complex world of the Assassin. This is the job which will change him, for better or for worse. Forevermore. Chapter 1.

    The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir. After coming back from a dangerous mission which left his friend and partner, the werewolf: Emilia in a coma. Anargrin is sent on another mission: to hunt down a rogue vampire. A rogue vampire with no consistent modus operandi and who is exceedingly good at hiding its tracks. So much so even the veteran Anargrin is forced into desperate speculation. But worst of all: drive him into desperate measures. Measures which drives Anargrin to wonder; does the ends, justify the means?

    Made in nz
    Raging-on-the-Inside Blood Angel Sergeant

    I was wrong, Garrakson's Autocannon hadn't pinned them, they'd just fallen back. The four-metre wide corridor was ablaze with the blinding blaze and the defining sound of shooting. Dozens of Edracian's mooks had laid in wait behind sandbag walls for our advancing forces.

    Not just that but further down were two Heavy stubber emplacements, laying down a constant barrage that should've left us completely and utterly pinned. But like lightning I dashed through It all, weaving side to side with speed and agility I'd no idea I was capable of and fell upon five of Edracian's mercs as they cowered behind one of the sandbag walls.

    Two were dead before they realised I was there, the first I decapitated, the activated edge of my powersword cutting through his neck with ease, the second I impaled, kicked him off the blade and smashing into his comrade behind him. The fourth took a swing at me with the butt of his rifle, but he seemed to move in slow motion, and I effortlessly weaved underneath it, then cut his torso in two with a backhanded blow. The fifth tried to raise his rifle to shoot me, but before I could even blink my body moved and I was abruptly behind him, and he was cleaved in twain. The third, I hauled to his feet, just in time to use as a human shield as his comrades further down the corridor tried to shoot me. His body was torn to pieces in a few seconds by the concentrated fire, but it mattered little as I was safe behind the sandbags well before that.

    Arlathan, Torris, Arlathan and Garrakson used this opportunity to advance, joining up with me. Arlathan and Torris fired their shotguns from the hip as they ran.

    "What the bloody hell was that?" demanded Torris over the din.

    "What?" I asked.

    "You, just running forward through that hell without telling us anything!" he roared. "You suicidal or something?"

    I shrugged, I wasn't suicidal; I just knew deep down that I could make it, that my newfound speed and agility would get me through it all.

    Torris sighed, shook his head and blasted over the wall. "Good work I guess, just tell us next time, kid. It'd be appreciated, thanks!"

    I cut my reply short as I saw more figures emerged from around the corner we'd came from, ten metres down the corridor, their weapons raised. Before any thought I was moving, power sword activated.

    "Attelus stand down!" came a yell over my vox link. "We're on your side!"

    I stopped. "Olinthre!" I spat the name then dived for cover as they opened fire.

    Twelve more guns joined in with Torris and Arlathan's as the mercs advanced past me.

    I vaulted over the sandbags, twisting to shoot blindly over the lip in an attempt to provide cover fire for the mercs.

    The Olinthre-thing joined me, while he fired bursts of his autogun.

    "Good work at blowing the wall!" It yelled.

    I didn't reply, just clenched my jaw and glared at It.

    It shrugged and smiled. "I guess we can't always get what we want, right?"

    As if by its own volition, suddenly my hand shot out and clutched it by the throat, slamming it against the sandbags.

    "You made the timers five seconds instead of ten," I growled. "I'm lucky that Garrakson looked at it or I might be dead right now."

    It smiled, grabbed my wrist and tore my hand away. "Yeah, I did, I did the same for the others as well. I don't know what happened, exactly but I guessed you betrayed Glaitis, and I bet they did too."

    I glared at It and shook my head. "I don't get it, why do you care so much? You didn't seem to care before."

    "Because I've thought it over and I think I owe her," It said. "If it weren't for her, I wouldn't be what I am today."

    I looked It in the violet eyes. "Really? And what you are today? Did you want this? You truly wanted to be this? You owe her nothing! Nothing at all!"

    I didn't wait for its reply; Its gaping wide-eyed look was enough. I vaulted over the wall and sprinted like mad; weaving through the fury and the fire to join Torris and the others.

    "Emperor damn it!" snarled Garrakson as he jumped in fright at my sudden appearance. "How the frig can you move like that? You're like one of those damn Eldars!"

    I clenched my jaw and said nothing.

    "And Emperor damn it!" Garrakson said again. "If you'd let me use my damn Autocannon we wouldn't be like this!"

    My eyes narrowed. "We can't risk you using any more ammo, Jeurat! We don't know what we'll encounter the deeper we go! You've only got, what? A hundred rounds or so left?"

    "More daemons!" yelled Torris. "It'll most definitely be more daemons!"

    I was up then, firing my shotgun, trying to draw a bead through the chaos on an enemy, any enemy, but just like the ambushers in the alley, they hugged their cover way too well, and I was never the best at ranged combat.

    With a smug smile, I pulled out one of my four frag grenades.

    Garrakson gave me a tired look. "Y'know doing that, kid. Might give 'em ideas."

    I shrugged, thinking there was no point in hiding my newfound enhanced strength anymore, pulled the pin and with a grunt, threw it. The grenade flew, it flew a good forty-five metres and landed almost in the lap of the merc manning one of the heavy stubbers. The explosion and the man's scream I could barely hear over the din of battle.

    All three of my acquaintances had seen it and gaped at me with wide eyes.

    "When the hell did you get that strong?" said Torris.

    I shrugged. "Don't know! About the same time, I could move this fast!"

    "Wait! What?" Torris was shouting as I stood and moved, lunging over another sandbag wall and in my descent, kicking one of the three defenders in the face, throwing him flying back. His features now a bloody, ugly ruin. The second twisted with impressive speed, rifle raised to fire. Only so my sword could slice through it, then impale his face. The last threw himself back just out of range of my next slash and drew a laspistol from its holster. My instincts somehow knew the exact second he'd pull the trigger, and my body weaved, feeling the laser kiss my cheek, and I smelt it as it fried some of my hair, then I slipped in, so fast he couldn't get another, then my powersword sliced him two.

    Next thing I knew, I bounded behind the sandbags before the rest could shoot me, their fire tearing into the sandbags a mere millisecond after I was in safety.

    I frowned and looked at my hands, was this new ability just from my, Wraithbone bones? I'd heard from Glaitis of assassins who could move like this — highly experienced, trained and skilled far beyond normal human parameters. The elite assassins of the Officio Assassinorum were the first which came to mind.

    A sigh suddenly filtered through my thoughts, making me jump in fright.

    +Again I did that, Mon'keigh. I didn't just enhance your bone structure but brought you to a physical peek that would normally be almost impossible for your slow, clumsy kind ever to attain. You with your genetic lineage may have been able to reach it, through years more of training but I fast-forwarded you through it, saving you the time and effort.+


    +Is that not obvious? Even for you with your simple, slow mind? That is because I need you at your best to be in proper service to me, you are lucky I care so much. Now shut up, you have a battle to fight, oh and watch your left.+

    I turned just in time to see the soldier sneaking up on me, his knife already while swinging at my skull.

    I leaned back, so it sliced slightly through my nose instead then sidestepped his stab. The range was terrible for my powersword effectively so instead I elbowed him in the face, it connected with a crunch, and he screamed, blood spraying from his nose like a geyser.

    "Nose for a nose you son of a bitch!" I snarled, and my front kick caused him to stumble further back, allowing Torris a clear shot, the round blowing through his torso and sent his limp corpse smashing hard against the sandbag wall.

    I smiled as Torris, Garrakson and Arlathan joined me.

    "Why would he try to take me in close quarters?" I asked.

    Torris shrugged. "Outta ammo, maybe? He almost had you, though. You were very deep in la-la land there for a second or two. I would've warned you, but it all happened way too fast for me. And what did I tell you about running forward all on your lonesome without telling us, again?"

    "I did tell you," I said.

    The corner of his mouth twitched. "Well, yeah, but not very well."

    "Alright! Enough of the damned talky!" roared Arlathan as he fired. "And more damned fighty!"

    And for once, I agreed with him.

    The explosion sent the large double doors flying off their hinges and falling into the enormous old dining room beyond.

    We were ready for the inevitable counter, hugging the cover of the sandbags as the mercs fired through the kicked-up smoke.

    There were fifty of us, mostly made up of Taryst's mercs. There were more before, but we'd lost over two dozen men overwhelming the well-entrenched enemy in this corridor alone. I couldn't help wonder how many more were going to die attacking this place.

    For what felt like forever we waited for a lull in the storm, when it finally came that's when Garrakson opened fire with the remaining working heavy stubber along with the rest of us.

    The enemy had set up their defences well; they'd turned over the long, thick dining tables for makeshift cover and reinforced them further with more damned sandbags, which made me wonder how the hell on a hive world like this did they get so much sand? Was it rockcrete sand? Or...?

    I smiled and shook away the thought, now was the worst time to get hung up on such details.

    Fighting the urge to flinch from every sight and sound, through the utter chaos, I did a very quick, very rough headcount. There were two balconies situated along each length of the room, gunfire rained down from them, but they were too elevated for me to make out anything of importance and on the floor were three makeshift walls four metres separating each.

    "I count approximately twenty-five on the floor!" I shouted. "Nine behind the first, eight behind the last two!"

    "Twenty three now!" roared Garrakson as he cut down two with a withering hail of fire and I treated him to an equally withering look, which he ignored entirely.

    "What about on the decks?" asked Arlathan.

    I just pursed my lips and shrugged, wondering why he thought I'd know.

    "If we give you covering fire, you think you can get onto one of them?" yelled Torris as he fired a flurry of shotgun shells.

    I smiled. "You were all upset about me running off by myself but now asking me to suicidally climb up there?"

    Torris shrugged. "I only get upset when you do it without telling us about it! We can't help you if you don't! Your teamwork skills kinda suck!"

    I clenched my jaw, wanting to point out how Castella and had worked together well against the daemons earlier and remind him of how Elandria and I used to team up all the time.

    I frowned, and my gaze fell to the floor at the thought of Elandria.

    "Kid! I wouldn't ask you this if I didn't think you could do it!" he yelled, taking me from my reverie.

    With a sigh I looked over the sandbags again, the balconies were a good two and a half metres off the floor, and both ascending staircases situated at the other end of the room. Three, half-metre wide, dark wood pillars held them aloft, but I could tell they were only there for decoration. Taking them out wouldn't collapse them at all, which was my initial hope.

    I slipped back into safety and shook my head.

    Torris gritted his teeth and growled with incoherent rage.

    Just then we heard Garrakson cry out and throw himself to the floor as his heavy stubber was abruptly torn apart by concentrated fire.

    "We've gotta do something about the enemy on those damn verandahs!" snarled Torris. "Even if we take care of the ones on the floor, we try to advance we'll be caught in a damn crossfire! From enemies on an elevated position no less!"

    Garrakson climbed to his knees, brushing himself off as though he'd just had dust thrown on him, instead of potentially deadly, jagged shards of shrapnel.

    "Well why don't we have Mr little freaky speedy here just run through them, to the other side of the room and climb up the stairs, while we lay down cover fire," he said.

    I sighed and placed my hand on my face; why did all these plans involve me rushing forward through gunfire. I guess it was my frigging fault for showing off so much before.

    "Could actually work," said Torris.

    "Only if we can bloody coordinate properly," said Arlathan.

    "Or if I could use my bloody autocannon," said Garrakson, as he not to subtly glared at me.

    I sighed and glanced back at the other mercs taking cover behind the sandbags further down the corridor; pinned down, just as we were, I wasn't going to get any cover fire from them, sure as sure.

    With a frustrated growl, I turned to Garrakson and mumbled something.

    "What?" yelled Garrakson, but I could see him smiling slightly.

    "I said, damn it! You get it your way!" I bellowed through clenched teeth. "Use the frigging autocannon!"

    Garrakson's face lit up like a child who'd just been told all his birthdays were all rolled into one.

    "Alright!" he said, rubbing his hands together eagerly, then began gathering up the oversized bullet hose. "You ready kid?"

    I swallowed and only nodded nervously.

    "Be aware, kid I'll only be able to pin the bastards on the floor. The ones up there on the balconies, not so much!"

    "Torris and I could throw some grenades," suggested Arlathan. "We could try to get them onto those balconies!"

    I looked at him, eyes wide with surprise, glanced at the room beyond, seeing just how high and how t the angle was, then back to him.

    "But you'll have to expose yourself to do it," I said.

    Arlathan frowned and furrowed his brow. "Why are you so worried? You've got to run through that hell!"

    I turned to Torris who shrugged and said, "I agree, kid. It's an idea. I'm willing to give it a go."

    I nodded and glanced at Arlathan still surprised he'd risk himself so. Whatever had happened to him during his unconsciousness must've changed him somehow.

    My eyes narrowed, as another thought hit me, perhaps I wasn't the one Brutis should be worried about.

    "We ready?" asked Garrakson eagerly.

    "Yeah, we are," I said as I tossed Torris and Arlathan a grenade each. "Jeurat, blaze away."

    "With pleasure!" he beamed, climbed to his feet and began firing over the sandbags, ignoring the countless munitions flying his way.

    "Wish me..!" I yelled but stopped as simultaneously, both Torris and Arlathan were standing and throwing their grenades.

    I didn't wait to watch where they went as I was up and sprinting into the room, knowing that Garrakson with all his skill would miss me.

    Everywhere, I saw the devastation wrought by Garrakson's Autocannon as it tore through everything, punching holes through the sandbags and turned over tables as though they were made of paper. I saw at least five defenders torn apart as they cowered behind the first wall. Inwardly, I cursed that we'd been forced into using it so damn early in the peace, but desperate times, I guess.

    It must've taken me less than a second or two to sprint to the first wall, but it felt like forever it was even more intense than the siege outside than even in the close confines of the corridors.

    Just as I vaulted over the first wall, the grenades Torris and Arlathan had thrown went off. I heard no screams, no nothing; I couldn't even tell if they'd been thrown right, but I had no time to dwell on that.

    I just had to have 'faith' in my friends they'd done it right. Well, the definition of 'faith' meant belief without evidence. I didn't have 'faith' in Torris he'd proved time and again that he was skilled and highly competent. It was bloody Arlathan I had to put faith in, and I didn't like that.

    The defenders behind the first wall were already dead and the ones behind the second and third were pinned down by Garrakson's fire.

    I could see in my peripheral vision and somewhat feel the gunfire from above, and my heart sank as I realised that it was a frigging crap ton of them and most of them automatic.

    Despite this I didn't break my stride, I just kept sprinting forward hoping my insane speed would outdo them.

    As I ran, an idea hit me, and with quick hands, I took out my last grenade, pulled the pin just before lunging over the wall and in mid-air, dropped it amongst the five defenders as they gaped up at me in shock and awe.

    I bounded onwards as it exploded, covering my ears so barely heard the screams of the defenders as they died.

    The defenders behind the far wall started to peer over it, so in the blink of an eye, I drew my autopistol, firing with utterly no accuracy in the hope to pin them back in place, unloading the entire clip faster than I thought possible. Much to my relief, it worked and with no time to reload; I vaulted over the wall, pistol-whipping one over the skull in flight.

    I landed and drew my sword, simultaneously roundhouse kicking one in the face as he turned to attack me. The other three, still crouched raised their guns to shoot but before they could even think, I'd dashed forward, right into their midst, so their shots only cut through the empty air. One on my Left, two on my right

    My powersword sliced through the torso of my left side attacker and I slid into a sidekick that connected the first Right's sternum with a crack somehow audible over the chaos, and he was thrown onto his back so fast, and so hard, I could've sworn it broke his spine. The last had backed up about a metre and showered a frenzied point-blank, full-auto burst that I barely managed to weave out the way from. But in his panic, he'd stood, exposing himself and my with allies no longer pinned, so a tidy shot from Emperor only knew who took off the top of his head. Which was lucky, I was pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to dodge anymore.

    Next thing I knew I'd retrieved one of the autoguns off the floor and was moving, sprinting up the left side staircase, laying down a barrage of automatic fire that caused the merc guarding them to him throw himself out of its path.

    Then I was at the top, smashing the butt of the rifle hard into his throat, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and utilised the poor bastard as yet another human shield, allowing me a second or two to take in my surroundings as he got shot to hell.

    I saw four smaller sandbag walls only two metres in length and three apart, four mercs were behind each wall, except the furthest, they were already dead. I dropped my borrowed autogun, took my new shield's one and over his writhing shoulder, sprayed a wild flurry that was so inaccurate, no one bothered to duck for cover, and soon I found my human shield torn from my grasp.

    With a desperate roar, I dashed forward, firing the last of the autogun's clip from the hip in a spray not much more accurate than the previous but somehow still caused them to duck.

    I vaulted over the first wall, my power sword relieving two mercs of their heads before I Ianded and sprinted on, their fire missing me entirely in spite of such short-range, my insane bravado and inhuman speed taking them off their game.

    I reached the next wall in a split second, only now were the men behind it getting up. So instead of vaulting over, I slipped around their wall, my reloaded pistol drawn and firing. I fired six shots four for the mercs in front me two for the remaining two at the first wall before; then I bound back behind the safety of the second sandbag wall.

    There, despite the tiredness and exhaustion that was starting to wear on me, I threw back my head and laughed. I laughed at the insanity of it all, of how I could do all this. Was I even really human anymore? What other transformations had the Farseer wrought on me? I guess I had to wait and see.

    I was tired of it already, scared I'd pushed my luck too much and wished not to move even an inch as the remaining four mercs fired my way.

    I looked to the other balcony, seeing that they were more concerned with exchanging fire with my colleagues as they advanced into the dining hall than trying to kill me, thank goodness.

    As I clenched my teeth, I tried to glance around the wall but was quickly forced to flinch back from the shots whizzing my way, and I cursed savagely, wishing I hadn't used all my damn frags.

    Then an idea hit me; I still had grenades just of the 'krak' variety, didn't know why I'd just grabbed six frags instead, but oh well.

    With quick hands, I opened my flak jacket and pulled one out, not even bothering to pull the pin, stood and threw it as accurately as I could before throwing myself to the floor.

    "Grenade!" I heard the yell and needed no more prompting before I was up again with my pistol raised. All four had scattered two moving left, two Right. In a rush I opened fire, my first two shots went wild, but my third winged one on the Right and my fourth blew a bloody hole through the bicep of his mate behind him.

    Before I could draw a proper bead on the left two, they'd already realised my ploy, and their withering fire caused me to duck behind cover again.

    Perhaps I should've pulled the pin it may've been a krak, but it still could've frigged them up a bit. Once more, I glanced at the other balcony and down into the dining room below. I could see we'd lost at least three more men down there while they hadn't lost any. I would've liked to shoot at them, but I had enough attention on me already, didn't want anymore. At least I'd diminished the casualties a bit by risking my arse to get up here.

    I breathed deeply and took out my mirror from its pocket in my flak jacket and raised it on an angle to allow me to see the muzzle flares of my enemies.

    One was left, the other Right, they were advancing, trying to flank me. It was hard to tell this just from listening alone as there were so many munitions exchanged in here I couldn't tell high from low.

    With another deep breath, I was up again and shooting at the right one. My first shot missed the merc but my second hit him in the stomach, the manstopper round blew through his flak armour and with a pained cry he reeled limply and fell onto his back.

    I switched my aim to the second, just as his autogun pointed at me.

    In that split second, I realised he had me and I dived to the floor, throwing myself to the other side of the wall, just before his full-auto flurry cut through the air where I'd stood.

    Then I shot him through the skull.

    I lay there for what felt like an age, eyes wide and gasping for air, not daring to move, not even daring to blink as the battle raged. Emperor, that was insane! And close, so frigging close! I barely noticed when the fire finally died and was climbing to my feet when Garrakson, Torris and Arlathan appeared at the top of the stairs. Garrakson now carried a lasgun.

    "You alright, kid?" asked Torris as he approached and helped me to my feet.

    "Yeah," I sighed, shaking my head to try to regain my composure, all the gak that I've been through over the last day must've been wearing on me, not just physically but mentally as well. "You run out of ammo, Garrakson?"

    "Yeah," he said with a guilty grin as he scratched the back of his shaved head. "Sorry about that."

    "How many lost?" I breathed through clenched teeth.

    "Sixteen dead," said Arlathan. "Three wounded, but I'm sure we would've lost more if you hadn't run the gauntlet, gak you're insane."

    I gaped at him, unsure what to make of that...compliment? But despite myself, I felt a smile cross my face.

    "Please, Arlathan, tell me something I don't know," I said.

    "What? That you're a complete screw head?"

    "No, both."

    Arlathan shrugged and shook his head.

    The Olinthre-thing with a few other soldiers arrived at the top of the stairs. "Yeah, yeah stop the dilly dally, no time to waste we have a building to capture. Oh, and next time you decide to pull a stunt like that, tell me beforehand. I am y'know, your commanding officer."

    Torris and Garrakson turned to face It, but it was hard to miss the hatred in Garrakson's eyes.

    "I..." started the ex-guardsman.

    "Sorry, sir," Torris quickly interrupted. "We've just been working independently for so long it's easy to forget, right, Jeurat?"

    "Right," Garrakson growled, hesitantly.

    The Olinthre-thing smiled and looked at me. "Yeah, right, whatever. Just don't do it again. Now move your arses. Let's go!"

    It turned and began to descend the stairs, waving us after It. It was enjoying this command shtick.

    I grinned as we followed its wake. "Well, enjoy it while it lasts," I hissed under my breath. "It isn't going to last much longer."

    For a long time, we moved through the maze of corridors kicking in a door after door, clearing out any enemy within. Thanks to Arlathan's auspex we were able to tell where they were, but at my insistence, we checked every room even the ones lacking heat signatures, just in case. It was slow going, gritty and tedious work, but it needed doing. We cleared out a total of thirty rooms twenty of which had enemies, killing at least thirty enemy mercs who'd attempted to fortify themselves within. We lost about twenty more of our own in the process, twelve of which were injured, three fatally Luckily for us there seemed to be a constant flow of reinforcements to replace the men we'd lose. The rooms without signatures were all empty, of course, but I just had to be sure.

    Most of the time, I listened in to the comm chatter of our other forces, keeping the others updated on their progress. Casualties were mounting, well into the hundreds now. Brutis Bones' army had it the worst, they were made up of the less well-trained Hammers, and it seemed his side had the highest concentration of enemy numbers. Ours was doing the best much to my surprise, we advanced the fastest and suffered the least. I also kept track of Hayden, Darrance and Castella's activities; unsurprisingly they were on the front lines each performing admirably, killing countless and preventing numerous casualties single-handedly.

    I just hoped they'd get through it. But what really bugged me was; why were we doing the best? Was it because we were facing the least numbers? That was the only reason I could comprehend, which was interesting, very interesting indeed. Yes.

    The Olinthre thing didn't seem to mind this fact, though. It just choked it up to us being the best, but I doubted that.

    Finally, we arrived at the end of the corridors to a pair of large, ornate doors; according to the schemata, led into a large ballroom beyond.

    "Arlathan?" said the Mimic as we lined up at the wall, there were sixty of us total now. "What we got?"

    Arlathan cursed as he fiddled with the auspex. "Nothing! Can't pick up anything! It's like the dining room back there!"

    I nodded, for the more essential areas the enemy had a way to block out our scanners that or there was no one in there, but I doubted that. Quickly, I echoed this find to the other forces through my vox link.

    'Olinthre' sighed and turned to me. "What about your psyker girlfriend? She able to help us?"

    I shrugged, "I haven't heard from Karmen since I was scouting outside. I don't know even if she's alright or not. She's probably still locked in an invisible war with whoever that psyker was she'd mentioned before."

    It cursed colourfully, "we got flashbangs?"

    Three of the nearest mercs nodded and pulled out one each from pouches on their belts.

    "Good! Now we've got a plan!" It exclaimed and then it turned to me. "Attelus Kaltos, would you kindly cut a hole..."

    "What? Through the doors?" I interrupted.

    It gave off no outward sign of emotion, but it's next sentence blatantly sounded like it was through clenched teeth. "No, through the wall, there!"

    It pointed to a part of the wall about two metres left of the doors. "You said earlier that your power sword could cut through the wall, right?"

    "Uhh, yeah," I said dumbly, quickly seeing the genius behind the Mimic's plan.

    "Well then cut a hole that'll allow them to throw their grenades through!" It snapped impatiently. "Hurry!"

    I nodded and approached the part of the wall indicated, activating my power sword in a blaze of blues as the three mercs followed.

    "Garrakson! Torris!" snapped the Mimic. "Get ready to take out the doors on my signal!"

    With surprising obedience, both of them nodded and set themselves on each side of the door.

    I exchanged glances with the three mercs, then clenched my teeth and with four quickfire slashes cut a hole just large enough for one person to fit.

    The enemy fire was almo