That might be the case. I just personally think that it is a lot harder to read from the forum than from blog-page so...
But yes well... why not? Just released a new chapter again!
Here you are:
I walked across the long tall halway of Rixenart-class trade station named as “281 Alkopa”.
281 Alkopa was old, almost ancient, wonder of human construction work. From the outside 281 Alkopa, as all Rixenart-class space stations, resembled lot of Ramilies-class star fortress though lot smaller. Inside, the Great Bazar streched through the whole space station as a single, solid and straight halway. On both sides of the Great Bazar there was intergalactic traders selling their fines. Great amounts of fine spices from D’Anglos were on display for inviduals walking in 281 Alkopa. The elegant scent of high-valued perfumes filled the halway as hudreds of bottles were placed behind bullet-proof-glass against wall. I assumed perfumes were gathered from couple of different systems near Iox Marches subsector where massive Rixenart-class space station floated at the very moment.
Great pillars of black iron towered over the halway of Great Bazar and all people in there giving strange but elegant classic-like architecture. Not the gothic-type consturction you usually see. Whole bazar was edged by markets of regular traders and irregular rogue trader stalls. There were countless amount of heraldy but over everything in roof there were engraved aquilas of Imperium.
Even I was on serious business here I had to stop time to time to wonder all things there were on sale. 281 Alkopa was magnificent place.
I “woke up” as enforcer pushed me aside of him and his cyber-dog which sniffed the air for illegal drugs. Like it would do any difference. When there is trade station in the middle of nowhere in trade routes from Lothringen and Vér like systems there was no denying that illegal stuff, maybe heretical too, moved through 281 Alkopa.
But it was none of my concern, I had to find a man. A rogue trader.
Cornelius von Gündrad was tall man. He dwarfed me like a child and I was over hundred and seventy centimeters. He wore a great black hat stylized with one purple feather which reached his upper back. Under the hat I could see black greasy hair and withdrawing hairline. He had black dolman with ivory decorations and purple tight pants which gave him very slim look even though he was quite broad-shouldered man.
Instead of even trying to shake hands with me he sternly sat on massive black throne-like chair between two black-suited man. He gave his hand to me so I could pass a gentle kiss on his seal which was engraved on one of his many rings. I felt sick of doing such of thing but I had to. Maybe I just have to brush my teeth more eagerly next time, I thought.
“I am Undrad Ylysses”, I said to him as convincingly as I could. “I’m here to ask you a favour if I may, sir.”
Rogue trader leaned himself forward to me and measured me out with his fierce gaze. I could see his vains in his fingers as he hold the arm of his throne.
“I see”, he said grimly, quietly. I thought a man of that size couldn’t even speak silently. “Well. How could I help you, mister Ylysses?”
“My matter is quite… quite delicate. I’m not sure if it is safe to speak of it this openly”, I said cautiously looking behind me to Great Bazar where people roamed.
“I see”, Cornelius said and looked on his left. With no more communication made the other bodyguard walked behind me at the door of this private room of his stall. Dimm flickering light made whole room sickly green and I started to fear for my own safety.
“I think it is safe enaugh to speak now mister Ylysses. I bring lots of money to this piece of spacejunk so fear not. Only Imperial Inquisition would care what has been spoken in this room”, he looked me mischievously and smiled.
I cleared my throat. I started to be afraid of my life now. This rogue trader sure knew how to pull the strings of Imperial authority.
“I have recently heard that you have some connections with the Bassenheim Eldar?”
“Right to the point eh?” rogue trader said and raised his eyebrows and leaned backwards measuring me even more. “And why would a little man like you be interested of that kind of thing?”
He clearly knew he was safe on 281 Alkopa. There were no marks of any kind of stress even I asked about his connections with the most heretical faction Imperium knows.
“I’m xenologist. I have worked under surveillance of inquisition but they suspended me because of irrelevant reasons.”
I waited a moment as rogue trader watched me like statue. He didn’t even blink.
“And… eh… well I have made some valuable contacts during my career and I managed to hear that…” I watched straight into rogue trader’s gray eyes where I could see a strange fire burning.
“And you heard that there is a man who has contacts with the most insidious and malevont breed that galaxy has ever poured out of his unholy womb?” rogue trader asked before I could end my sentence.
“Yes”, I said firmly. I didn’t want to play with a man like this. Not a bit.
“And now you wonder, could this… this “heretic” take you to meet this evil kin beyond the borders of your holy Imperium?”
“Um… well… uh huh..?” I managed to just mumble. Rogue trader’s voice was strong and frightful. I felt like I’d failed at the moment when I started mumble something stupid in front of powerful rogue trader.
Cornelius though didn’t seem to care. He actually seemed to enjoy of our “conversation” and I understood he was practically playing with me.
“That is exactly what I’m here for, mister von Gündrad!” I said and straightened my back.
“Well then, mister… Ylysses. We are leaving in eighteen hours. I can arrange you a own private chamber in my ship if you wish. Depending of course…” he said and leaned forward to me again. “How much do you have that gold with you?”
+The Void +
I was standing in control room of the ‘Elenna’. Rogue trader had brought me up here from where I could see everything. I’ve had that much gold with me.
I could see from the control room that Elenna was docked at private docking bay in 281 Alkopa. Colossal blast-doors were right in front of the ship leading straight into the Void. I’ve never quite liked space travelling. It is fantastic when space ship stays in real universe but right after jumping into warp I get nauseous and dizzy. My personal tutor said it might be because of level of my psychic activity. I always tried to enjoy the voyage before warp-jump and so I liked to visit the control room and look around seeing hundreds of flashing lights, strange runes and glyphs and sticks that filled the whole control room. Best part of control room was still the panorama window which surrounded the whole room giving spectacular vision of wilderness space where small rock fragments floated without purpose and light of billion stars coloured great nebulas. Space was amazing. I’d actually written a thesis of ‘Why men should investigate the Void’. Three years from now when my leg was broken due being crushed by krak-grenade splinter, and I couldn’t do anything else.
Cornelius von Gründrad walked on docking bay fiercefully and it looked like he set some final safety codes in touchpanels near blastdoors and then ran smoothly towards Elenna. He disappeared from my sight as he ran into ramp. I could see some hydraulics bursting and creating white smoke in docking bay as ramp closed behind its master.
I stepped backwards three steps and checked my reflection from panorama window and straightened my darkbrown coat. Lights from the docking bay started to fade away and I heard heavy steps behind me.
“So… mister Ylysses!” Cornelius greeted me with slight smile on his face. “Are you ready to an adventure?”
I forced myself to smile back and then turned my face at the window. That rogue trader… he bothered me. Even the presence of him made me feel uncomfortable. Like he would have been a giant feather which made me itchy every time when too close to him.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too nervous.
Rogue trader waved for his navigator.
“And we think we can leave now… Do we have permission?” navigator, pale and wrinkled, said and looked cynically to rogue trader.
“That is part of your job to find out, Kondrad!” Cornelius raised his voice which sounded like thunder. I stepped nervously couple steps backwards.
Navigator looked tired. He sighted very loud and started to write something on control panels in front of him.
“This will take a while. Don’t you get mad at me in the first place.”
Rogue trader sat down on his chair and started to turn those interesting switches and sticks. I could feel how motors started to burn gasoline and how engines started to roar deep within he ship. Elenna started to wake up.
Three co-pilots rushed on the control room and took their, apparently regular, seats in front of large touch panels and holoscreens. It was all so amazing.
Cornelius leaned towards me and pointed a seat next to him.
“You can sit here. It might be a bit rough takeoff”, he smiled to me.
I was exhausted of all little things I could see in control room and walked like zombie on my seat. Outside in docking bay there was flickering red lights indicating that the blastdoors into void were going to open. Massive gears started to turn on the wall and hydraulics bursted white steam and smoke in docking bay. Red lights coloured pouring smoke into blood red as blastdoor gears clakced against each others. Panels on the docking bay’s wall flashed yellow lights.
Same time I could sense as first blastdoor opened and the Void rushed in the docking bay. Pressure started to lower and lights on Cornelius’s panel switched from red to green. Elenna started to shake as pressure outside in docking bay kept lowering. Stabilizer wings pushed themselves from sides of Elenna and rockets behind the great corvette started to pour black smoke into docking bay.
“We got our permission, sir”, old looking navigator said and scratched his cheek like this would be just normal basic routine. Which it actually had to be for him, now as I think.
“Then we’ll leave. Everyone! Ready for take off”, Cornelius yelled as whole ship trembled nastly making me feel sick. Even in the midst of this progression navigator just grabled long cigar from his front pocket and lit it up.
“Ready for take off”, he said smoothly and pulled himself right in front of control table and started to arrange codes on holoscreen.
“Co-pilot one, ready for take off!” said other pilot.
“Co-pilot two, ready for take off!” other one announced.
This was all so fascinating.
“Lochaber-Omicron class Corvette C19.588mp, ‘Elenna’, is ready for take off. We’ve been registered in docking bay 212 on N-side of 281 Alkopa space station. Elenna is properly maintained and driven by its rightful owner, rogue trader Cornelius von Gündrad of guild Simeon”, Cornelius announced through vox-system for flight control.
A moment of vox-crackling and a small ‘beep’.
“This is flight control of 281 Alkopa, Rixenart class space station of Imperium. Blastdoors are already opened from bay N.212, voidshields are opened in three… two… one…” vox-crackled as Elenna stormed into Void from docking bay. Black smoke begun to spread after corvette as other of co-pilots switched afterburners on. Vox beeped again.
“Ikaros class escort with code 281.A.Ice-N212 ready to direct you from 281 Alkopa”, flight control send binary numbers on Cornelius’s holoscreen and he picked escort code from there. After a moment of quiet vox crackled again. “The Emperor protects!”
I was partially confused of all this. It was the first time as I had been able to visit control room of starship this size. It seemed a bit strange that there were only three pilots and one navigator on control room. I soon found out that most of the crew was right beneath my feet in lower control bridge. It seemed a strange arrangement to me but as I said, I haven’t visited control rooms of ships of this size before. Size of this vast construction made me shiver but I felt safe, strangely.
I unfastened my seatbelts, all four of them, and started to walk a bit in control room. I could see the great dark Bassenheim’s Nebula which started from behind the ship, light-years away though, and continued all the way to other end of Iox Marches subsector. It sure was great and looked absolutely fascinating as hundreds of stars coloured it into green, yellow and red colours.
I had actually studied everything about Bassenheim Nebula because I was able to do so in Royal Universities of Zereghost. University was actually built in a first place to study that dark nebula under surveillance of Rogue-Inquisitor Bassenheim but after Bassenheim’s Heresy it had changed it name to Royal University to avoid being contacted to that heretic man. Which was, by the way, extremely brilliant man. I totally understand reasons why he was burned to death in the holy fire of Emperor but still… it just wasn’t necessary. Inquisitor Bassenheim was years under surveillance of Ordo Xenos because of his studies in Eldar. He was thrice-blessed in ranks of revivificator inquisitors due his studies on Eldar souls and death and similarities between Eldar and human souls. After announcing that human psykers are going to develop into Eldar-like society in millennium or two, he was executed.
He just should have not said those words outloud.
Every work of Inquisitor Bassenheim were collected and transported in secret Ordo Xenos research station. Luckily so. Even though Inquisitor Bassenheim lived in M39 and was declared as heretic and executed, his work, those glorious thesises of Eldar and of space surrounding us, are still safe within halls of Inquisitorial Palace of An Romos Prime. They aren’t open for public, of course, but because of my influence in inquisition I managed to get some of manuscripts of Inquisitor Bassenheim.
Actually I have to thank Cultus Indicium of that, not myself, but anyway. Cultus Indicium is kind of cult insided of inquisition. Those who think that Imperium should be guided through light of progress and technology are parted in Cultus Indicium. Mainly Cultus Indicium consists of Ordo Xenos inquisitors including some from Ordo Hereticus but only few from Malleus. Unlike monodominants or thorians, Cultus Indicium isn’t far streched. Its headquarters are on planet Heios (III) Prime in Iox Marches subsector and it has only seven other sectorial headquarters in seven other sectors.
“Small cabal of radical filth”, as my friend, Inquisitor Ceridwen Lothringen, said. Like she could say a thing with her family tree full of heretics, traitors, schemers and warmongers.
I enjoyed of the view of Bassenheim Nebula streching far away from us and didn’t even notice as Cornelius’s other bodyguard had walked behind me. He landed his hand on my shoulder which made me shiver and I turned around swiftly.
Bodyguard wore black skin-tight combat armour which was encrusted with strange deep-purple runes. He held spear as long as himself, a bit taller than myself, and blank black helmet with high black crest on top of it. Behind the helmet I could see only strange blue-glowing eyes. His touch made me feel itchy.
“I believe you have to come with me. We are going to make jump into warpspace and Kondrad doesn’t like to be bothered when he navigates.”
That voice. It was… chilling but still so warm and soft. Glow of this strange bodyguard’s eyes strengthened.
“That is okay with me. Can you escort me into my cabin? I’m not quite sure where it was”, I asked from this strange man. Or man-like figure, I wasn’t so sure about his humanity anymore as I felt his will in his words.
“That is why I’m here for, sir”, he said and glow of his eyes got dimmer.
“Okay then… shall we?” I asked and walked toward control room’s door. This mysterious figure started to follow me quietly.
As I walked through the door I heard the navigator speaking.
“First Navigator Kondrad Furthof speaking. Lower the power from engines and start preparations for warp jump in 11 hours.”
+Corridors of Lochaber+
Bodyguard led us to elevator lobby which was decorated with ivory statues. Purple, bone-white and black were main colours in ship. Some details were red or gold or ebony, but mainly everything was bone-purple-black coloured. Elevator buttons were made of strange white material which felt like it was alive as I touched them. Suddenly pictures of forest of white trees and crystal statues filled my mind. It lasted only for second but made me off-balance and I fell against elevator door.
Bodyguard grabbed me from my shoulders and helped me up. It tickled me and I tried to stand up as fast as I could.
There was something really messed up in this God-forsaken ship.
Elevator made tender ‘cling’ sound and its white doors opened for us. Elevator was brown… maybe a bit red. It reminded me of trees that grow on Velgram’s world.
When me and my mysterious escort had left control room and Cornelius, bodyguard started to act more casual. He rested against elevator’s brass bannister and stopped to stand on stance. Still he was tall and strangely elegant when standing casually against bannister. Grasp of his long spear didn’t loose a bit as elevator went down.
As I said, I had studied Eldar, and I could sworn on my mother’s life that the spear this… this bodyguard held, was Eldar-origin. Longer than bodyguard, spear was dark coloured and thin. Purple leather had been rolled around spear’s surface in couple of places. Propably for better grip in different fight stances. Blade on top of spear was softly shaped and glowed a bit now as I watched it. I found runes engraved on blade and realised they were the same kind of runes as ones on bodyguards armour.
Could this man be an Eldar?
I shivered of the whole idea but I didn’t dare to scope anything with my mind and will. I couldn’t be revealed now. I had job to do and I didn’t care if some rogue trader was using Eldar mercenaries. Not part of my job now. I wrote ship’s codes and name of the rogue trader down on my memo. Just in case I’d get out to reveal this heresy.
Elevator ‘clinged’ again and stopped. Doors opened with small hissing sound as hydraulics draw them out of the way. My could-be-Eldar-mercenary-bodyguard walked out of the elevator and I started to follow him obedient. I had to hide my mind now for good. I was afraid of even talking anything as I might slip something tragic out. I felt sick… too much stress for me I’d say.
As we walked in bone-white corridors decorated with curvy patterns on the walls connecting strange post-modernism, I guessed, artworks of… of something, I couldn’t tell. Someone had pictured the warp or something.
I sneered for my on ingenuity a bit. Maybe I should get in control room during warp-jump and start to paint pictures of what I see and then sell them in high price!
Bodyguard looked over his shoulder as I had laughed a bit too loud which made me shut my mouth. God I was so incautious! I reached under my shirt and found small electronic device. I had found out that psi-shields that prevent from minor psychic attacks can be used by psykers to hide their true nature. Testing of this practise had cost lives of two Eldar prisoners and seven human rogue-psykers I had managed to obtain. It was extremely-classified study under authority of Ordo Hereticus but we had succeeded. Well atleast we had made some progress in a way to hide psyker’s true nature. For example, this psi-shield didn’t work for me really good because of my psionic level. Which was Gamma-plus, by the way, and it was mark I proudly carried.
But because of my, extreme psionic abilities, as my friends in Ordo Hereticus said, I couldn’t use these psi-shields very well. It made my powers unstable and could create barriers of psychic energy in my mind that could violently burst out when I deactivated psi-shield next time. Time to play risky.
I switched psi-shield, strapped on my chest, on and instantly immense pain struck my body. Not just my mind. I staggered but tried to stay standing and keep up the bodyguards pace.
I didn’t exactly care what researchers and inquisitors said in Ordo Hereticus. I remember only that this device hurt as hell.
Bodyguard stood against a white door where was small window to corridor we were walking. He turned me and I tried my best to look as normal as I could. That pain…
“Here is your private chamber”, bodyguard said his soft words flowing through the air to me. “I’d like to show you some things in there if you are not too tired yet. You surely look a bit exhausted.”
I shook my head.
“Just, get inside. I’m alright?” I said like I would be asking of him but he didn’t seem to care. Just pressed safety code in panel next to door and walked in the chamber as door opened.
I was a bit amazed that everyone called this place ‘a chamber’ because it was more like a suite to me. I bet that this ship had been in service of Imperial Navy at some point as corvettes are mainly military ships. Cornelius von Gündrad had sure made everything to cover that fact up. Lights slowly turned brighter in room and let their soft almost fire-like light spread all over suite. Whole place looked like lounge. There was counter next to left wall and tens of different kind of glasses hung above the counter. Behind the counter there were cabinet with glass doors where were different kind of liquors and spirits. I almost forgot the pain in my chest when I watched redwood counter and cabinet with blue glowing lights behind bottles which made them glow mysteriously.
Huge aquarium covered almost whole other wall. There were strange shellfish looking creatures roaming around that magnificent tank where orange-leafed plants swung in water. Ivory floor was decorated with simple patterns of green jade. Three massive divans were the centerpiece of furniture with their matt red colour. Those divans were assembled so they made a small ring around low table made from same red wood I saw in elevator. Smaller chairs and seats were set around room in groups of two or three every group had a small table and ashtray.
It was so beautiful but so quiet.
“On the left side of our aquarium is a door that leads into small corridor with red carpet”, bodyguard started to speak with his strange voice. “There is five identical chambers, you can choose which ever you like. Every one of them includes bedroom, study desk and bathroom designed by our own architect.”
“Why here is place like this?” I asked finding it to be kind of strange that such of places existed in warship.
“Our captain ran routine tour from Heios Prime to Vostronov system for over thirty-five years. I became as a bodyguard for him before he started to travel that routine tour. We took noble-born, people from Officios, Arbites, merchants and other too, mainly rich though”, bodyguard said slowly like it was hard to him to remember everything. “It is seven years for now when we ended that route. Actually these are cabins for people willing to pay for going from place A to place B or just all around trip. Now these are all quiet because we don’t actually do that kind of jobs anymore.”
“But this is a warship, right? How you ever end up making cabins here?”
“Well my captain was tired of fighting against corsairs and pirates that roam across the galaxy and wanted to take a break of it. So he built up a business concept of travelling company. After that he hired our architect, Alfed von Gündrad, one of his cousins and changed one gun-deck into three cabin-decks. We have an amphitheatre here too”, I could here bodyguard smiling when he talked about his and Cornelius’s past.
“But now Cornelius craved for action and became an adventurer again”, he sighed.
I started to feel that pain again in my chest. My fingers were numb already.
“I… I think I have to go to bed. You know… warptravelling makes my head ache and… well, good night for now”, I said to bodyguard who seemed to be trapped in his thoughts and didn’t even react as I walked across the lounge into my chamber.
As I pushed the door to chambers open, the bodyguard shouted after me gently.
“I’ll wait here so we can speak when you wake up. I have some urgent… news for you.”
IV +Visions of the Seer+
V +Inquisitor Rosenstein+
Disciple of the Saint.
That was my nickname when I was fostered in the temple of Saint Turlough. I understand it better now as the Eldar told me my own name is only a version of a name Turlough.
As I told to Il-Hothyn, I am actually an inquisitor. My full name is inquisitor Tearlach Rosenstein, also known as the ‘Vermintongue’ in some circles. I had reached the title of a inquisitor five years ago as I tracked, or hunted, down an Eldar pirate fleet in the Dust Region and utterly annihilated it with aid of an Imperial Navy of Iox sector. Therefore my master, inquisitor Phillip Ancalya, gave me an inquisitorial rosette and announced me as part of the Holy Inquisition.
Though I have destroyed two major raid fleets of Eldar in Iox sector with help of an Imperial Navy and my former master Phillip Ancalya, I have been stamped by brand of radical. Mainly because of my studies with Eldar and Raxan xenospecies that inhabit Iox sector and my studies with the heretic-radical inquisitor Bassenheim and psykers. I have done work of a xenologists and an archaoxenologists. I have written book about importance of technological knowledge in the Imperium in these times and importance to understand the Void not only the warp.
Now, in 560M41, I am approximately 40 years old. My leg was splintered three years ago as I was taming uprising of the Dorsova-Pi penal colony. I was too near of an exploding krak-grenade which fragment snapped my bone in two. I do not have bionic legs because I hate bionics. I do have bionic in my ear which enables me to speak with Eldar and certain Raxan tribes.
Five years ago when I tracked down that Eldar fleet I was part of a Deathwatch kill-team that invaded the Eldar ship. During that invasion I killed only few xenos but one of them carried strange box which now lies in my backbag.
And I have to find out, what that thing is.
I got myself dressed after that Eldar visited my chamber. Warp travelling gave me headache but it was better to sleep before we jumped in warp because I just couldn’t sleep while being in the warp.
I could hear from the central radio that we were just about to jump.
It didn’t take me off-balance but it made me shiver. Kondrad Furthof, the main navigator, now navigated through strange and daemon-infested realm of warp as nothing and I had terrible headache.
I wore dark brown brimmed hat which resembled a bit of witch hunter’s hat. I had old almost black, shabby and out-worn cloak which stretched only a bit under my knee. Unlike my host, Cornelius, I wore only loose dark coloured pants that resembled a bit like guardsman’s pants and long, soft, leather boots. I tried to keep my outlook unnoticed and I had even hid my rosette under my pants so it couldn’t be noticed, not even accidentally.
I know very well that striders and outlaws always carried weapons with them, usually so that everyone could see them so I had couple too. I’m not really fancy about guns as my psyche is far more powerful than any weapon I can carry with my non-existing strength, but just to keep up my look I had one ‘shotgun-pistol’ in my belt. It was brutal and an uncivilised small arm that looked like a pistol with huge calibre and massive round clip with sixteen shells. I have used only one in my entire life and it was in practise range one week ago. Unlike brutal ugly guns like shotguns, lascarbines and autoguns I am actually very good with long-rifles. I’ll beat any navy officer in shooting range with proper sniper-rifle and I’m pretty proud of it. Next to my shotgun-pistol I had three curved long daggers and deadly Raxan psychically empathic sickle-like weapon. It had a name, Irrgehkplkyx, but it was kind of hard to pronounce and I just call it as sickle. This strange xenoblade works mainly like force swords of the Imperium but needs less concentrating. I’m lucky that I got it in my hands.
And maybe a bit radical too.
I left my room and walked into the lounge where two aquariums and those massive divans were. As I stepped in the room I saw that there was a man, probably servant but not servitor, on the other side of the counter shaking some kind of mixer in his hands. Cornelius von Gündrad, the captain, sat on a stool talking something to servant who looked happy and poured some white liquid into tall glass in front of Cornelius. Huge rogue trader laughed out loud and noticed me next to door and yelled to me.
“Mister Ylysses! I think I can call you Undrad, right? Come here!”
As I walked next to Cornelius and sat on a stool, I noticed there were three other men sitting on divans in the middle of the lounge. One was drinking something or at least he held golden goblet, two others were talking something with each others. I couldn’t hear what they said.
Cornelius grasped me of my shoulder and shook me.
“How about a drink?” Cornelius asked cheerfully.
“Something soft please…” I said to servant who nodded and started to make something yellow drink in a long glass. I turned to Cornelius.
“What is our course now?”
“Well… you can’t tell about Kondrad. He likes to ‘surf’ in the warp sometimes a bit randomly or that is what he says. He needs to rest in couple of hours so we’ll get our co-navigators to work and things should get faster”, Cornelius answered. He seemed to be in need of conversation buddy. “But I think we’ll reach the D’Anglos system in three weeks, maybe two. Warp routes in the Iox Marches are the best routes in Iox sector. On the other side of the Bassenheim Nebula there is no way to get this fast to anywhere. It all depends if Kondrad is going to navigate or my beloved co-navigators on lower control room.”
“If Kondrad is so… unreliable? Why don’t you just fire him?” it seemed bit strange that rogue trader didn’t kick such lousy sounding navigator out of his ship.
Cornelius leaned backwards and sighed.
“You know, my family is almost ten millennia old. I have to get along with navigator houses to maintain my trade”, he swallowed whole glass of something really red liquid once and burped. “And Kondrad is one of the best navigators in the Bassenheim Nebula and in other nebulas too! As you see, I’m not a navigator so I can’t fully understand but Kondrad has said that in nebulas navigating is bit different than in ‘clear’ Void. Bassenheim Nebula is so treacherous that my co-navigators are unwilling to navigate there in a first place. Don’t know what is wrong with that place…”
Cornelius’s eyes stopped into nowhere as he apparently started to think something. Two guys in the middle of the lounge laughed out loud. Gentle music came out of central radio and some of shellfishes in aquarium popped small air bubbles.
“We are going to stop in D’Anglos?” I asked of Cornelius who grasped his empty glass.
“What? Yes…” he answered. “Maybe two weeks, as I said, from now on we’ll stop at D’Anglos. I have to go and celebrate new cardinal of D’Anglos. It is part of noble-born life, as you may know.”
I nodded. Inquisition was calm and strong force with patience and knowledge but representatives of the Imperial Cult. They were pompous and fat people who had all the power in the worlds and could oppose even agents of Inquisition. I didn’t like them. Though I have been raised on a ‘cardinal world’ and therefore familiar with practises of the Ecclessiarchy.
“So Arch-Cardinal Dionygos II is dead huh?”
“So it seems. My sources tell me that he is gravely ill and can’t hold the title of an Arch-Cardinal of Iox sector or even title of a cardinal of D’Anglos!” Cornelius said thinking. “There is young disciple of Dionygos II, Filippos XIV. I don’t know his original name but nevertheless now he is known as Filippos XIV.”
“And what about new arch-cardinal?” I asked. Politics has always been interesting even though I don’t like the Ecclessiarchy I have to admit that they do manifest some of the most interesting politics in the Imperium.
Cornelius rubbed his cheek. “I’m not sure… I’m not exactly sure if anyone is sure. You know, the cardinal of Helíca-2, that woman in her middles… what was her name?”
“Amelia Exonos the Pure”, I knew her, she was polite, well known and liked abbess who was granted the title of cardinal back in 532M41. I served as her servant couple of years before Phillip Ancalya transferred me in Schola Progenium Heios for five years.
“Yes that is her name! Well, anyway, this Amelia is strong opponent for any other arch-cardinal candidate. I’m not really familiar with this woman but she has strong character and has the support of Helíca-2 Sororitas and Orders Famulous and Dialogous of Iox sector. On top of that she is well known in Iox sector and has connections with High Lords of Terra, other lords of Adeptus Ministorum and most importantly she has great connection with the Lothringen family…”
“Don’t tell me you don’t know!” Cornelius said eyes wide open staring to me.
“Of course I know them. I’m just wondering, does it really matter that much to know that family?”
“In Iox sector, yes. If you think that I’m heretic because of…” the rogue trader lowered his voice. “…my trade with Eldar, Lothringen family is the most rotten family in this sector. I’m glad I didn’t marry that youngest girl even though my position in Iox’s hierarchy would demand it.”
“You have been about to marry Ceridwen?”
Cornelius gave me a long look and nodded his head.
“As I said before, my family is almost ten millennia old. As you may know, Heios II is known as Gündrad’s world and that is all because of my family. We have maintained trade routes in and out Iox sector for millennia! Lothringen family is only three thousand years old approximately but still they have more power these days than we Gündrads do.”
I couldn’t believe what this rogue trader was talking. I mean that of course I know there are many houses and families as old as Imperium but I haven’t ever figured out importance of Gündrads before. Ten millennia…
“Nowadays Lothringen family rules their own fleet, two… actually three planets in Iox sector and whole Saint’s Rift as well its subsector. It has huge amount of influence even across the borders of Iox sector and can well maintain even personal army. If that Ceridwen, you said, hadn’t have become an inquisitor I would had to marry her.”
“But you are at least fifty years older than her anyway? Right?”
“That is the way how we keep things rolling in Iox. I can’t just make some kids with some common citizen of the Imperium; she has to be a noble-born.”
Cornelius looked old as he talked about this. Maybe a bit sad but it wasn’t my job to ask any more questions about his women. Let man keep his secrets.
“But yes!” Cornelius said. “We are living in mysterious times and I’ll bet that the mighty Lothringen family is no more in two centuries.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I have speculated that Amelia Exonos becomes as an arch-cardinal of Iox sector. After that there will be uprisings in couple of worlds in Dust Region or in Iox Marches as majority of Adeptus Ministorum’s forces are transferred in Exhelon subsector. When Iox Marches falls into chaos, Lothringen family tries to capture the power in Iox sector but fails because of Exhelon subsector’s forces. After that there will be bloodshed and by then I am going to be far away from this God forsaken sector.”
That was so seriously far-fetched theory that I started to laugh.
“Laugh away! We’ll see who is laughing when Inquisition and Adeptus Ministorum are having a contest which one shall conquer Iox sector, again, from chaos and purify it, again.”
I sipped of my drink. Cornelius clearly had plans for future.
“According to your ‘future plan’ I assume you’ll probably have some arguments for this.”
“You are so young that you can’t see what really is happening behind the scenes right now. As you know, Iox sector is near the Galactic core which means here is only couple of inhabitable worlds and only couple sectors. That means there is only couple of planets that raise Imperial Guard regiments which means that this whole region is kept in order mainly by faith. Imperium doesn’t care what happens in here and if and when this sector falls in rebellions and uprisings there is only weak inquisition and weak Adeptus Ministorum opposing them. And as you probably know, they don’t get along very well.”
“You have your point but we still have strong sectors near Iox like Badab and Kjipr…”
“Badab is weak and Kjipr is nothing. If there is nothing here in Iox, there is even less in Kjipr. And the fact that we have region like Maelstrom next to us doesn’t warm me a bit. The real thing here is that Iox has nothing to put against rebellions and there is absolutely none willing to sacrifice their troops for some small periphery sector like this. Mark my words.”
It seemed that Cornelius had made his mind. There might be truth behind his words but it seemed to me only as crazy man’s speculations. Nothing to do with politics anymore.
And he called me young like I was some teenager or something so I changed the subject.
“Who are your other passengers? You made me understand there were no other passengers than me.”
Cornelius pointed his finger at a man who sat back against us on a divan in the middle of the lounge.
“He is witch hunter. I don’t usually like witch hunters but this one seemed to be pretty calm one”, Cornelius kept small break and continued then more silently. “He is looking for some inquisitor named Rostein or something. Asked lots about the ‘Vermintongue’ like I knew every inquisitor in the Imperium.”
Fact made me shiver. Could he mean me?
“Could that name be Rosenstein?”
“Yes… I guess that is the name he was looking for. Here you see the problem with Adeptus Ministorum and Inquisition like I told you! This is how it begins”, Cornelius was grave-serious as he took long dram of his glass. “I’m not familiar with this ‘Vermintongue’ but I am certain that he is going to be the reason for downhill of Iox sector in the future. I’ll bet my right hand for it!”
I gulped. Man… this seemed pretty unreal and bad at the same time. If there was a witch hunter in the same room as his prey… I didn’t want to think about it.
I found myself grasping of my shotgun-pistol’s grip but Cornelius continued to introduce two other man.
“Those two are strangers to me. They wanted to go on the Zereghost Prime but I couldn’t take them there as I have businesses in the Kjipr sector so they are dropping off in D’anglos.”
He gave a long look for the other stranger who raised his head so I could see burned skin and brass-coloured eye-bionic. A sick looking fellow.
“I thought we were heading in the Zereghost”, I asked and Cornelius nodded acceptably.
“It might be that I have something to sell on Zereghost after we’ve visited a Haven Spire… it might, but I don’t promise anything”, Cornelius seemed thinking.
But selling something after Haven Spire? On Zereghost Prime, diamond of Iox Marches, could there be people interested in Eldar too? Cornelius knew much. I wondered where his Warrant of Trade was because I might be interested of it. As would couple more inquisitors like my beloved sister-inquisitor Ceridwen or even my tutor.
A man, dressed like a servant, walked in of the lounge’s main door. He walked on the other side of counter and previous servant left the lounge.
“Don’t you have servitors here?” I asked Cornelius.
“Not here. We ran a tourist route for many years so I figured out that we need flesh, not machines, for our workers. Our customers thanked me of that and I think it was good idea back then”, he pointed the new servant who stood on the other side of counter smiling. “Now these blood-sucking bastards are too much for my lousy income and I’ve thought about changing these into servitors.”
I raised my eyebrows and gave him judging look.
“What? I have to make profit as does every other merchant in this forsaken sector! And it just is the truth that servitors are cheaper than humans. I don’t like that but that is the way the cookie crumbles.”
He kept a small pause and then gave me weird look.
“I find it a bit strange that a small scientist like you carry shotgun-pistol and clearly alien-origin blades with you but not a single dataslate.”
I froze totally. Of course I had a dataslate but it is Ordo Hereticus manufactured and has inquisitorial symbols on it so I couldn’t wear it while acting like inquisition-free scientist. I opened my mouth and shut it stupidly and Cornelius smiled.
“I know. We all have our secrets and I’m not the one to judge about it”, he rose from the stool and put his hand on my shoulder. “You like shooting?”
Our trip from the 281 Alkopa space-station to the D’Anglos system took actually nigh four weeks. Kondrad Furthof had taken some stimulants, illegal and apparently extremely strong, and was the whole first week on a navigator’s seat. After a week Cornelius and his other bodyguard went on the upper control room and pulled Kondrad off the navigator’s seat and let co-navigators continue the navigating.
How could this kind of navigators even exist? I couldn’t be wondering.
Me and Cornelius had spent long times in a practise range which was located in rear side of ‘Elenna’. I had almost broken ship’s record with Mk8 Vostronov pattern long-las rifle but missed the crucial target. It pissed me off.
Two men that were heading to Zereghost Prime were quiet all the way to D’Anglos. I’m not really eager of making new contacts with strangers and luckily neither was they. On the other hand the witch hunter who introduced himself as Huntor Fuchs. Quite striking name for a witch hunter I tell you. Anyway, this ‘Huntor’ didn’t want to tell where he was heading or tell who he was hunting. I tried to act like I didn’t know his target or that I was the target but I think that hunter already knew I was the ‘Vermintongue’ he was looking for.
It made me scared as hell. I just couldn’t get rid of him on a ship even this size and I highly doubt that if he knew who I was, I could ever get rid of him. My luck was that he didn’t try a thing against me and I tried to stay with Cornelius as much as I could. I was pretty sure Cornelius knew who I really was judging the way he looked and talked to me.
This all was so confusing… I had to have contact with Phillip Ancalya if I only knew where he was.
Cornelius had said that he has to be in control room when going orbit. D’Anglos had strict safety codes because of former arch-cardinal lived there. I could here speak from the central radio: “We are docking on D’A-6 orbital dock in 20 minutes. There will be an Aquila Lander with code Orb-L-621 which will depart 10 minutes after our docking. Everyone willing to go on D’Anglos capital much reach this craft. I repeat. Aquila Lander with code Orb-L-621 in 10 minutes after docking.”
Cornelius, a lot taller than me, stood by my side as Void protected hatch hissed open and revealed a simple corridor which led into space station. Unlike in 281 Alkopa, here in D’Anglos orbital station the ships are attached to the station by number of mechanical ‘claws’ and then long corridor into station is plunged out from the ship. It was a particular sight when we walked through corridor that had wide windows pointing at the planet. One giant city-complex covered a vast area of the planet. I could see the Great Chapel of Cardinal from up here as it was so huge.
D’Anglos was a strange planet. It has been governed by cardinal of Ecclessiarchy for many millennia but there still are only one billion inhabitants. As the capital, which is by the way the only city on the planet, covers vast area of planet’s equatorial continent. That continent is also only continent on the planet. It has massive oceans with small islands communities where people drill oil and natural gasses. After that those oil and gas tons are collected, they are manufactured into gasoline, petrol and other fuel types and sent in Zereghost, Ar Golev and Lothringen-Eta.
If you have ever wondered why people want to use ‘holy water’, now you can wonder why they want to have ‘holy fuel’. Some freaky brainwashing system of the Ecclessiarchy I guess.
Blue ocean was like from paintings as I watched the planet from corridor’s windows. City’s lights were clear even the planet was only turning against the D’Anglos star and night hadn’t fully covered the city. It wasn’t smoggy at all as I had predicted.
There had to be even couple of time zones in that one city. If they knew what they were and if they even used that kind of time system.
Corridor ended and a security guard stood firmly next to door wearing grey bodyglove and holding electric rod in his right hand. I couldn’t see where he looked as he had mirror visor over his eyes but judging by his psychic activity he seemed to be pretty interested of me. Clearly today wasn’t my day.
We stepped over doorstep and entered into room only a bit wider than the corridor. There were two counters where two important looking officers handled some papers and pointed their hands at chairs in front of them. Cornelius sat on the other chair and started to chat with officer about his cargo and reasons why he was going on D’Anglos. Witch hunter sat on the other chair and talked to the officer quietly so I couldn’t hear what he said. Two other passengers stood behind me in the line and I started to panic. They wanted my IDs
! They wanted to know who I was and my fake ID
was never going to pass this kind of security. And I couldn’t reveal myself as the witch hunter was in here too…
I reached my mind across the room. I could feel some lesser psychical activities like Cornelius’s and witch hunter’s psyche but suddenly I felt strong psyche. Right behind me the man whose face was burned, he was a witch! Maybe even a sorcerer! And judging by his anxious feet which were tapping the ground he had already noticed my psyche. God! I was so careless. These men, this witch and the other one, were heading in Zereghost. I had to look into that later. Like I didn’t have problems of my own right now. Luckily orbital security was slow as always and I had time to act.
Not making any contact with the man behind me, I reached my psyche at doorstep and could feel the warm psychical image of security guard. I felt that the witch was paying his attention on my act but I didn’t care about it. I attacked the security guard’s psyche and put an idea in there. Only a small idea which led to an act not even so uncommon within the halls of orbital security.
I could feel the security guard’s breath against my nape.
“Could you come with me, sir? Co-operation is expected”, he said meanly through his yellow teeth and clearly looked me with eye hard.
“Sure!” I smiled. “Where are we heading?”
Cornelius winked his eye to me as the security led me out of the room.
Security guard led me through a door which said ‘Staff only’ and led into small room looking like cafeteria. We walked straight through the cafeteria and through other door which said ‘Unauthorised will be punished with highest penalty’.
Office. A huge office filled with paper piles and computers and official looking workers dressed in black that wrote like machines with their computer’s keyboards. But we didn’t stop in there either instead we walked through a next door which said ‘Arbites only, others will be shot to death’.
I seriously hoped these door signs were just some strange workplace humour that I just didn’t quite get.
We walked into dim room that had one long desk made of black metal. I could hear keyboard napping and light of computer screen revealed old man’s face and broad shoulders. There was a mark of a ‘judge’ on his collar. Calmly he leaned over his desk and took thick round glasses off his face.
“And how may I serve you today”, he said giving strong pressure on a word ‘you’ and measuring look to me.
“I’m extremely sorry I have to bother you this hour my judge”, I bowed lightly to show some respect to him. Adeptus Arbites are known of stubborn nature and Arbites taking care of orbital stations are the worst of their kind. “I have some very delicate matter here and I would like to ask this guard to go away before I start.”
“And why is that?” judge said and checked my belt. “Guard! This man has weapons on his belt! Why haven’t you disarmed him?”
As the judge shouted to the security guard I reached my psyche into judge’s mind and made him command the security guard away.
The guard seemed to be entirely confused as the judge shouted him away. The judge sat down on his chair and watched me firmly. I started to feel a bit awkward as the judge just sat on his black leathered chair silently his eyes locked in me. I knew I would have to take my rosette but as it was under my pants it would look a bit suspicious and I’d bet that judge had a shotgun under his table.
I could feel a sweat drop on my forehead.
“I…” I started but the judge interrupted me immediately.
“You are a psyker, yes, I know when I’m ‘willed’ to do something”, judge snapped to me and rose. He pressed a button on his chest and I sensed as a psi-shield activated and covered the judge into small cloud of blankness. I can’t describe it better, to me it seemed like the judge wasn’t even there.
I still could hear as the judge grasped his shotgun under the table and stood up off the chair.
“So the question here is; what is the matter ‘so delicate’ that my security guard could not listen, psyker?”
The judge walked around his massive table with only couple of steps and came right in front of me. I could feel the shotgun barrel pushed against my belly. This wasn’t my day at all.
“Take your hat off!” judge spit against my face. Even I started to unlike Arbites too, I took my hat off and looked into judge’s eyes. His shrouded face changed from angry into thinking and he backed away a bit and reached some papers on the table. He picked one of many papers and pushed it against my face.
“Here! I knew I had seen you before, rogue!” the judge laughed at me and pressed a small device attached to his ear.
“This is Adeptus Arbites judge-commander Regan Freiman speaking. I have captured rogue-psyker ‘Vermintongue’ and I request backup troops in my office. Over.”
“I am an inquisitor you fool!” I yelled in a panic I guess and tried to reach my belt. The judge raised his shotgun so the wide barrel was right in front of my nose.
“You are an inquisitor you say?” he said to me and grasped my collar. “Why don’t you have your rosette with you then?”
“I have it! Just let me…” I tried to reach my belt again but the shotgun barrel was pushed against my nose and I raised my hands.
“A-a-aa.... I suggest that you just stay calm and still.”
Ten minutes had run out already. I was sure about it. That meant my flight on the planet had gone. Gone for good. That on the other hand meant I was trapped in this cursed orbital station! Trapped here with Arbites forces and a judge who had a shotgun pointed at my head.
The door into the room opened and Huntor Fuchs, that thrice cursed witch hunter, ran in with eight Arbites guardsman. Huntor was holding a big metallic box which had some kind of lock system and two tracks.
“Is this the Vermintongue?” he asked.
“At least he looks like him”, judge said and chewed his tongue. “If you make a move I’m going to blow your head apart.”
So I stood still.
The witch hunter came to me calmly and took harshly my right arm and put it in the metallic box which clanked loudly. My hand was locked in that box. After that he took my left hand and inserted it in the other track on the box. That one clanked too.
“And now, my beloved rogue, you shall use your tainted powers no more.”
Huntor grasped of my head and placed an electric blindfold around my head. It hurt. It hurt same way as a psi-shield hurts but the pain was ten times stronger and more immense. I couldn’t see a thing and the foul device boiled my psyche.
Agony like no other. No more words to describe as I blacked out and fell to the ground. Blinded, in pain and more alone than I had ever been.
As I woke up, I was tied on a chair. Well… actually I sat on a metallic chair and my hands and legs were locked into the chair with barbed chains. There was dried blood around my wrists and ankles.
All of my stuff had been taken. I had only my underpants on me. Device which Huntor had placed around my head had been taken off. So there actually was something positive after all. My head hurt. Even my psyche wasn’t trapped in some strange device, I didn’t feel good. I was cold and sitting on a metallic chair didn’t help it a bit.
The chair stood in the middle of the grey room. Room had three simple plastic stools but nothing else and as I tried to figure out where I was using my psyche to scan the room I noticed the room was psi-shielded. Heavily.
It was almost really dark in the room but I could spot the door’s key panel on the wall in front of me.
I tried to blast the chair with my psyche but it didn’t work. Everything in the room was psi-shielded and I could not affect on anything. I didn’t like it at all. Being alone and afraid in a small dark room tied up on a chair and unable to do a thing.
But I wasn’t a crybaby. Not in a million years. I collected myself after small mental breakdown and breathed calmly. Nice and steady. Everything is going to be alright.
After approximately three hours I fell asleep again.
Punch at my belly woke me up.
As I coughed to get some air after being punched by cloaked figure, he hit me again. In the face this time. It made me spit some blood on me.
“Good afternoon mister… Vermintongue”, a voice said. Lights banged on and grey room was filled with bright light. A figure of a witch hunter stood in front of me.
“I said good afternoon!” he said and hit me in the chest this time which made me cough hard.
“Mmh…” I tried to mumble but Huntor seemed to be satisfied as I had woken up.
“Now, as my lord Filippos the fourteenth is being celebrated all over the D’Anglos, I’m going to ask some questions before you are sent in front of a court. You understand me?”
I was out of my head. A witch hunter questioning me! Outrageous!
“I am an inquisitor of Ordos Iox of Holy Inquisition. I have nothing to say for a witch hunter like…” a fist ended my sentence before I could and Huntor sat on a plastic stool.
“I think we both know that you are only a rogue. A rogue waiting for his purification which I shall grant to you, after couple of days. You know that, don’t you?”
I spat blood again. One of my teeth was getting loose.
“So what would you like to know, my purifier?” I said. I may be a coward but I wanted to keep all of my teeth and survive alive out of this chamber.
Huntor gave me grim smile so I could see his rotten black teeth and part of his artificial lower jaw.
“We can start nicely if you like.”
“Please… continue”, my answer was quiet but it made the witch hunter smile again. He probably got some strange pleasure of this.
“First of all I would like to know, who you shall call yourself.”
“My name is inquisit…”
A smack again. Tooth dropped off. I collected myself again.
“My name is Tearlach Rosenstein alias Undrad Ylysses also known as the Vermintongue.”
Huntor clapped his hands with mocking smile on his face. Suddenly he froze and changed serious.
“What was your alias?” he was grave-serious now so I didn’t dare to oppose him.
“Ylysses. I’m acting from behind the name Undrad Ylysses now as I have some too delicate businesses for my own name. I’m in the middle of an undercover mission. That is the reason why my rosette was hidden in my pants!”
Huntor watched me thinking and started to chew his fingernails but he didn’t hit me this time.
“You are lying!”
“I’m not! What good would that do now as I am a prisoner of a witch hunter?”
Huntor rose from his stool and I turned my face away afraid of a punch.
But he didn’t hit me.
He started to circle the small room while eating his fingernails. I could hear him mumbling by himself: “…it was him… …had to be…”
Suddenly he stopped and fastly came right in front of my face. His foul breath was warm against my cheek and his sickly green eyes were nailed into mine.
“How did you end up in a name like ‘Undrad Ylysses’? Do you know someone named like that? It does sound a rare name to me, doesn’t it?” Huntor seemed really strange. There was something in the name.
I told you about the sickle I have. Or had, it all depends how this was going to sort out. Anyway, years ago, 555M41 I was on a planet known as Menegron Municipality. There was a trader who had some xeno-relics for sale. I demanded that sickle from him so he could just run away and everyone were happy.
It was stupidly done but Menegron Municipality was next to a Raxan xenoplanet and there was xeno-weaponry and other stuff all the time for sale. Guardsmen of Phantoms’s Planet sold lots of illegal xeno-stuff when having holidays on Menegron Municipality. I just didn’t have time or resources to root out a smuggling ring on a small frontier world.
Huntor shook me of my shoulders.
“How did you end up to a name Undrad Ylysses?” he shouted to me.
“I met a merchant!”
“Five years from now. I met a merchant who sold Raxan relics to people on Menegron Municipality. I suspended his acts, took some of his stuff and… well he ran away and I didn’t have time or interests to root that man out. His name was Undrad Ylysses. That is where I got the name from!”
Huntor grasped my shoulders so it hurt. He had strong tight grip which certainly made bruises. He watched me intensively and doubtfully.
“What was that man alike?” he asked now calm and serious.
“I… I don’t remember, it is five years ago!” I shouted and shut my eyes as his fist raised.
Blood started to spill from my lower lip and cheek.
“I asked! What was Undrad alike?” Huntor yelled to me. I fething hated that man and spat some blood off my mouth at him.
He hit again.
“I asked. And as I ask, you answer. So go on. I know you psykers can remember all kinds of things. Just search that memory and think it or I will beat that answer from you.”
“I thought you were about to ask questions about me!”
“I was. It may be we have now something more interesting. Think my heretic, think.”
So I thought. I tried to remember how that Undrad was. It was so long ago and I hadn’t seen him after that.
“I only remember he was older than me… not much though. He had hidden his face behind rebreather mask… I think… I don’t remember his face so probably he had hid them…” I thought… I didn’t want to be punched again. “He was careful about his left leg. Limped it…”
“Do I limp?” I asked. As I have said, my legs broke because of krak-grenade fragment but I hadn’t noticed limping.
“A bit. Not much though.”
“Oh… okay… Well he limped his left leg so much that I noticed it. And back then he had a white flute, probably made of bone, with him. He said he liked music.”
Huntor seemed thinking again.
“I seriously don’t remember more! Man! It is five years ago, what does this Undrad matter to you anyway? It was a name as good as any other”, I said to Huntor who drilled his gaze to me again.
“Four weeks ago a man who limped his left leg came to me and said he knew the whereabouts of a rogue psyker known as Tearlach ‘Vermintongue’ Rosenstein. I bought that, he seemed like an honest man to me. He introduced himself as ‘Undrad Ylysses’.”
I didn’t believe my ears. Was it a revenge of a vengeful smuggler? Something… more? How agents of the Imperium could be fooled like this! And by one smuggler! It couldn’t be. There had to be more behind it.
Huntor leaned over me so I could see his nasal hair.
“So… to the next question, right?”
VII +Sister Dialogous+
The door closed behind Huntor as he walked out.
Lights turned off again and the darkness fell in the room.
Three teeth in total. I had lost three teeth during this ‘interview’. I would have been eager to see some psychic torture but physical… no thank you.
My cheek hurt and my eyebrow was swollen. I couldn’t see a thing with my left eye. I had also spat quite amount of blood on my chest, chair and on the floor next to me. And the fact that I couldn’t move didn’t actually help me.
I just had to sit on the damned chair until Huntor was about to come here again.
It took a while. 22 hours and 17 minutes to be accurate. Lights flashed on and the door opened.
He seemed frustrated as he approached to me and stopped right next to me. I could see his eyes burning; he seemed to be angry as hell.
Then, suddenly, I heard footsteps from the open door and saw as Cornelius von Gündrad walked into the room. He was serious.
“Release him, witch hunter, you know he is inquisitor”, Cornelius said and gave firm look to Huntor which scowled at rogue trader.
“This won’t end to this. This man is a dangerous psyker that must be purified!” Huntor spat from his mouth his sick green eyes burning fiery.
“You heard what Filippos XIV said. Release Tearlach”, Cornelius was convincing and not even the fanatic witch hunter dared to oppose him.
I heard some clicking as Huntor pressed small buttons on the side of the chair and then hard ‘clang’ as mechanic locks were disabled. Huntor grasped of my hands and legs one by one and took the barbed chains off me. Dried blood covered my wrists as chains had carved nasty looking wounds on them. My ankles screamed of pain as I tried to rise up.
Huntor kicked me at my ribs as I fell on the ground. It didn’t make me feel better and Cornelius threw Huntor out of the room with swing of one hand. He was a strong man indeed.
“I can’t stand… my ankles…” I said to Cornelius who stood like a skyscraper in front of me as I crawled on the ground like a worm.
God damn it! I was an inquisitor! I am an inquisitor! And now I was just on all fours in front of rogue trader. In addition a heretic one!
Cornelius leaned over me and pulled me up grasping my shoulders.
“Are you okay, Undrad?” Cornelius asked me with forced smile on his face.
“Just… just call me Tearlach, would you. And if you please, carry me out of this room”, I said to rogue trader that raised me on his arms like a child.
Here, an inquisitor of the Holy Inquisition is carried by a rogue trader. It was embarrassing. Even for me it was embarrassing.
Cornelius walked out of the room and set his foot on a panel floor in some kind of dark corridor. This was the infamous prison of rogue psykers. Maintained by D’Anglos Adeptus Ministorum right under surveillance of cardinal of the planet, I had only heard rumours of this place and never really believed it actually existed. Even the corridor was psi-shielded, strong anti-psychic barriers blocked my psyche almost entirely. It didn’t feel good.
I saw guards dressed in black bodygloves and holding electric pikes in their hands. Those guards were all ‘blanks’ and there was at least ten in the corridor. I thought they were extremely rare.
I didn’t want help from ‘an untouchable’. No… never. That though meant I had to turn to Cornelius again.
“You probably know that I have to arrest you for further investigations because of your acts with xenos”, I said to Cornelius who nodded with annoying smile on his face. “I would still be very grateful if you cold carry me out of this anti-psyker cavern. If you may?”
“Every single inquisitor I have ever encountered has been stern, powerful and almost scary men. They have both hands full of power and fear nothing. That is an inquisitor, you are just a boy to me”, Cornelius set his eyes on me as he hold me on his arms. “If you say I have to carry you out of here, I’ll do it, because frankly, I have no other option. Right?”
I felt stupid. Of course he had to do what I tell him to do. I just didn’t want to command people. Even though I am an inquisitor.
“I…” frankly speaking I didn’t know what to say. I was so tired and hurt.
“Sure I’ll carry you. I have an assistant in the elevator waiting for us anyway. She’ll have you on a wheelchair we brought.”
Cornelius walked through the bleak dark corridor into an elevator which’s warm light was seriously relieving sight. Maybe I was going to survive anyway.
A young girl, or a woman, younger than me anyway I guess, stood in the white elevator with a wheelchair. She wore wine-red robe and had bionics in place of her left eye. One wide red and three small blue lens attached to mechanical frames covered almost wholly the left side of her face. Pure white hair was cut in strict style of Adepta Sororitas. Sister Dialogous.
She was a beauty. Her impression when she saw me was rather unpleasant and unexpected.
“You!” she yelled and pointed me with her finger.
Cornelius placed me on a wheelchair and hit the girl on the back of her head.
“I told you to shut up. Remember? You are now working for him and him only and as you probably know, he is an inquisitor so pay some respect”, Cornelius said. Then he cracked up. “Even though he is beaten up, he has his own blood all over him and is wearing only underpants… you should even try to respect him...”
Giggling of a grown man like Cornelius was even more unexpected than reaction of the girl. To me the situation was no fun at all. Not by any perspective.
“Shut up and take me out of here…”
The girl pushed some buttons on the wall of the elevator and doors hissed shut. I could feel how the elevator was going up.
Cornelius led way in a room as the girl pushed my wheelchair behind him. It was large room, looked like a reception to me as there was long counter which had apparently bullet-proof glass to protect two men behind it. They had long beards and were dressed in brown robes like monks. Cornelius walked at the counter and the other man opened small hatch in the window so he could hear what my rogue trader had to say.
He took a paper from his pocket and gave it to receptionist.
“I am here to collect prisoner Tearlach Rosenstein’s stuff if you may.”
Old man examinated the paper and then nodded to the other man who immediately walked out of my line of sight into other room behind the counter. It took a while but the man walked behind the counter carrying large cardboard box in his arms.
I could hear them talking something and then Cornelius turned to me a box in his hands smiling wide.
“Here is the deal; once I heard what had happened to you, I went directly to still living Dionygos II. Position of a cardinal is to-the-death kind of career so Dionygos has all the power in his hands. As an old friend of him I explained who you are and that you are here only because of miscalculation of Arbites”, Cornelius talked to me seriously as he led us out of the ‘reception’. “So… he said that he knew your tutor, Phillip… Ancalya? Yes. And he gave an order to arrange a trial for you immediately.”
Cornelius smiled wide.
“I am actually waiting a ‘thank you’ from you”, he said as I just watched him.
“I don’t get it. Why can’t I just be released? Why there has to be a trial?”
“Because Adeptus Ministorum is rigid organisation and you have ‘offended’ the main principles of Imperial Creed.”
I was going to say that I was born to be a psyker and it wasn’t my fault but Cornelius was faster.
“Yes, yes. You can’t choose where you born and who you born as. Anyway, psykers are abomination to the humankind, as Imperial Creed says, so there has to be a trial. You are an inquisitor, yes, but there has to be a trial anyway. Luckily, my ex-fiancé is here, so she is going to speak for you…”
“Ceridwen! That Lothringen-devil, don’t you remember?”
“Oh man…” that wasn’t actually good. Ceridwen had never liked me. I just had to hope she would honour even a bit an old comrade inquisitor like me.
Cornelius lowered a bit and said to me seriously: “If you remember, I said that that ‘Vermintongue’ would start the collapsing of Iox sector and if you don’t survive from the trial, things are going to go just as I told you. So try to convince them that you are not a dangerous rogue-psyker as they think you are.”
Rogue trader gave me a smile. “Everything is going to be okay, I’ll testify for you too and believe me, my word marks here”, then Cornelius turned to the Sister Dialogous who had been silent all the time. “And you, you know that you mustn’t say a thing in the court but as a personal assistant you may and will take Tearlach in the courtroom. Before that you have to dress him up though.”
Sister seemed terrified but didn’t say a thing. Maybe she was too shocked for the info Cornelius gave him.
“You know where courtroom seven is so take Tearlach there in twenty minutes. He must not be late from there.”
Then Cornelius walked away into great hallway and disappeared between pillars.
I gave a look for the girl.
“You can just push me in a toilet and I’ll change myself. I’m not an invalid my ankles are just in a bad shape now.”
But the girl looked at me and grinned to me.
“You got some nerves to come to me again”, she raged while pushing the wheelchair into toilet. She slammed the door close and threw the cardboard box in front of me. I watched her confused.
I took my cargo pants off the box and started to dress myself.
“I’m not familiar with you… I don’t think we have ever met”, I said to her but it seemed to make her even more angry.
“Oh you don’t know me! Well mister Tearlach, without you I would be a lot happier even in a prison than in this fething holy shithole… feth!” she pointed me fiercely. Her one eyebrow was twitching. She kicked the floor and started to cry and fell to the ground.
I was extremely and totally confused.
“Look what they did to my face…” she cried recklessly. I tried not to listen to the girl and washed away the biggest blood spots on my torso with small shower which was attached to a sink. I pulled my shirt on and the girl had run right in front of me.
“I want my freedom back and I want my face back and I want to get rid of this stupid red carpet that I have wore two years for now and I haven’t got a bit humbler than I was three years ago!” she hissed sentence after sentence behind her teeth to me and every sentence was more ridiculously absurd than one before.
“Seriously, I don’t even know your name! I have never met you for sure”, I had to stop the girl. Time was running out and who knew how far away that courtroom seven was. “Could you just help me with this cloak and take me in courtroom seven and we will discuss of this later.”
The girl’s face was twisted by crying and shouting but she gulped loudly and took my cloak.
“Yes, my inquisitor. I’ll take you in front of the justice and you shall taste some of Ecclessiarchy’s salvation.”
Great wooden doors closed behind me and the girl who pushed my wheelchair. The girl pushed me right in the middle of the courtroom so there was a ‘High Court’ right in front of me, the jury on the left side of me and the speakers on my right.
The girl curtseyed for the High Court and walked away. I was alone there.
An old pompous-looking fat man with curly wig rose up and started to speak.
“This is not a normal trial and I suggest you all to think this carefully”, he said clearly. I think he was a eunuch as his voice was so… girlish. “Here we have an inquisitor Tearlach Rosenstein. He is a powerful psyker and so also a great threat to the humanity. He also is a great saviour of the Holy Inquisition. He is accused of witchcraft and warpcraft by our witch hunter Huntor Fuchs.”
When speaking of inquisition the pompous man changed his voice into mocking tone. Like this all was only theatre and fun.
It wasn’t fun to me. Dozen of important looking people were sitting on their chairs behind massive dark wooden tables that edged the courtroom, where I sat on a pathetic wheelchair, alone.
The eunuch continued his speech and I tried to focus on it.
“Today the High Court is represented by Adeptus Arbites judge-commander Regan Freiman who caught this… inquisitor… in a first place. Me, Filippos XIV, cardinal of D’Anglos and Pontifex Urba D’Anglos Gotthard will represent the two other required personnel of the High Court.”
I could here clap from my left. This was a show. Two members of Ecclessiarchy and one insulted Arbites judge taking places in the High Court? This couldn’t end up well.
“Speakers today are a rogue trader Cornelius von Gündrad, who by the way is accused of connections with Eldar faction”, the information made a stir in jury which was fastly suppressed by shout from judge-commander. “And other speakers are Tearlach Rosenstein’s inquisitor comrade, Ceridwen… aand then we have Huntor Fuchs, our witch hunter. Shall we begin?”
Pompous man, Filippos, sat down on a massive chair and lowered his gaze into mine. I could sense that everyone in the courtroom was using psi-shields. Everyone expect Ceridwen. I reached my psyche to her before the judge-commander started to accuse me.
Hello Ceridwen, I said to her mind which made her shake a bit.
Hello my beloved Vermintongue, Ceridwen answered. How have you managed to get yourself in a situation like this?
That witch hunter, Fuchs, was sent after me by a man called Undrad Ylysses. I tried to get myself out of orbital security check but utterly failed, I answered.
Don’t worry Vermintongue, I’ll get you out, I have some information that you have to hear, Ceridwen said and stopped talking by psyche.
If Ceridwen was going to get me out of here I promise I’ll never again complain about the fact she calls me Vermintongue.
Judge-commander Regan Freiman rose up and opened his mouth but suddenly without a warning, Ceridwen stood up and started to speak loudly: “I beg your pardon, your highness cardinal; I would like to introduce myself properly before we start!”
The cardinal seemed to be uneasy but reluctantly nodded to her.
Ceridwen smiled and raised her voice.
“I am inquisitor Ceridwen Lothringen, member of the Lothringen family you all probably know”, she took a small break as talking bursted out in jury. “I am also a member of the Ordo Hereticus of Ordos Iox and regarded in a high position amongst the Hereticus.”
Judge-commander was clearly about to rise but Ceridwen continued still.
“I’d like to point out that I am candidate for a title of ‘lady inquisitor’ which is highly regarded in the Imperium. Even in the ranks of Adeptus Ministorum”, she said giving strong pressure on a word ‘even’. So strong it made a small silent pause in courtroom as she sat down.
I could see Cornelius, who was sitting on the right side of Ceridwen, holding a hand in front of his mouth. He seemed to be laughing.
Now the judge-commander Freiman stood up and opened his mouth to speak but it was apparently Cornelius’s turn.
Cornelius stood up in his full length and started to speak with a strong voice of his so the judge-commander’s voice drowned under the rogue trader’s thundering speech.
“I too, would like to have appropriate introduce as you, my highness, clearly forgot something”, this made the cardinal to face palm and the jury was dead silent this time. “I am rogue trader Cornelius Amadeus Johann Christian von Gündrad of Gündrad merchant-family. The Imperial Navy has granted me a rank of commodore because of many years of service in Saint’s fleet that guards the Saint’s Rift. I am also honed with the title ‘Saviour of Ferghost colonies’ as only my supplies kept Ferghost colonies alive during the warp hurricane in Dust Region five years ago.”
I would have never believed that a rogue trader, who acted with the Eldar and had hired Eldar bodyguard for himself, hold a rank of a commodore. And I hadn’t heard of the title ‘Saviour of Ferghost colonies’ before either though I remember the warp hurricane. It was just before we located those Eldar fleets I destroyed. But Cornelius seemed to continue still.
“And what comes into accusations of having contact with the Eldar xenos, I suggest that your highness turns to some stronger sources than rumours when trying to root out something bad of other people”, and Cornelius sat down smiling boyishly.
Weak speaking was carried from the ranks of the jury to my ears as the judge-commander stood up third time. I wasn’t complaining about a show anymore as the show was clearly working for me. Pontifex Urba Gotthard whispered something to cardinal Filippos XIV as judge-commander eyed Cornelius and Ceridwen who were vigorously sitting on their chairs.
“Tearlach Rosenstein’s rank of an inquisitor is now suspended by Adeptus Ministorum until this court will set its conclusion”, the judge-commander announced clearly but again Ceridwen pounced up and started to shout.
“Only people of Adeptus Ministorum holding rank of arch-cardinal or higher can displace an inquisitor of inquisitor’s position without permission or confirmation from Holy Inquisition. Therefore not even cardinal Filippos XIV can displace Tearlach Rosenstein of his position or take his rosette which acts as a badge of his post in the Holy Inquisition. Therefore I suggest that you hand my fellow inquisitor Tearlach Rosenstein’s inquisitorial rosette for its righteous owner!” Ceridwen announced like a preacher and then sat down again.
Judge-commander gave an amazed look for Ceridwen and started to mumble: “But… but we… I’m sure that we can…”
But this made Ceridwen to rise again: “Even though Adeptus Arbites have the power to scrutinize citizens of the Imperium they do not have the right to arrange a trial for an inquisitor or pass a judgement on him. The duty of Adeptus Arbites demands that they capture and arrest an inquisitor who arbitrarily breaks the Lex Imperialis and turn that vigilante in the hands of inquisition. Only the Holy Inquisition has the right to pass a judgement over agent of this magnificent institution.”
Judge-commander seemed to be confused and some arbitrators within the jury took their Books of Law and started to inspect pages telling about the actions between the inquisition and the Arbites.
Now the Pontifex Urba Gotthard rose off his chair and said: “It doesn’t matter to us who walk in the light of the God Emperor of mankind. This Tearlach Rosenstein is a dangerous witch and by the guidance of the God Emperor he shall be purified through the cleansing flames!”
Gotthard was clearly wrestling in whole other class than Ceridwen and when the jury is collected from the Adeptus Arbites from the world strictly ruled by Adeptus Ministorum that kind of speeches were good.
Do you want me to say something? I asked of Ceridwen via psychic connection but she said I should just say put.
Ceridwen decided to rise on her chair as Pontifex Urba started to speak over her voice and screamed so hard it made my ears ache.
“I will not tolerate talk like that of a petty preacher of some pathetic frontier world on the edge of our sector!” Ceridwen accused Gotthard and whole High Court as she could. “You are only big mouthed hypocrites that firstly have no right and secondly no real reason to scrutinize not to talk about judging agent of the Holy Inquisition, the only institute in this God forsaken sector that works even near properly!”
This raised an outrage within the jury and High Court as everyone stood up and started to shout something. Ceridwen shot insults like a machine against agents of Ecclessiarchy as Cornelius sat still on his chair and seemed really amused. The arbitrators of Adeptus Arbites in the jury shouted to Ceridwen who couldn’t care less and shouted back.
Then suddenly I heard ‘bang’.
The red Sororitas power armour that Ceridwen wore all the time sparked and made Ceridwen to jump off the chair. The bullet apparently hadn’t had the power to penetrate the power armour but the impact made Ceridwen stagger and duck behind her chair.
The shooter was, for everyone’s surprise, Pontifex Urba D’Anglos Gotthard who held his autopistol pointed at the speakers’ bench rows. I seriously had no idea what was going on in the courtroom but I surely wanted out of here and fast. Even faster when I saw what Ceridwen was about to do.
I honestly didn’t know what kind of trial this was and I certainly didn’t want to know. I didn’t know it was appropriate to bring your own weapons in the courtroom. I just wanted out of here to arrange diplomatic appointment between Inquisition and Ecclessiarchy. Anyway, as Pontifex Urba pointed his pathetic autopistol to the speakers’ benches, Ceridwen jumped out of her cover and threw a long dagger with raging speed at Pontifex Urba’s head. Inquisitor’s attack was so unpredicted that Pontifex Urba had no chance to avoid the hit. So approximately 30 centimetres long dagger pierced Pontifex Urba’s skull with gentle crack and got pinched against the wooden wall behind Gotthard.
A long, unbearably awkward three seconds of silence and then a shout.
Filippos XIV got his hand raised at Ceridwen and he was yelling as he could out of his lungs:
IX +The one who thirsts+
The jury pulled their guns from sleeves, holders and shoes. Variety of pistols was suddenly in sight and in a fragment of a second they were singing their loud opera.
I saw Cornelius duck behind his chair as the jury’s guns blazed their bullets at speakers’ row. I saw Huntor Fuchs jump up and running away from the courtroom. Though the guard next to the backdoor opened his fire and shot Huntor down. Skull splinters were splattered with brains on the patterned marble floor.
This was arranged assassination. It had to be.
The Ecclessiarchy had to discover that Lothringen family was enjoying some ‘freedoms’ as part of it was working for Inquisition. And to run down Lothringen, they had to kill Ceridwen, the most valuable link to the Inquisition.
Maybe Cornelius was right after all.
I tried to reach Ceridwen or Cornelius with my psyche but they were too excited because of the shooting so I couldn’t connect my mind with either one of them. So I tried someone else.
Get me out of here, now! I yelled psychically to the Sister Dialogous who stood behind the pillar arms around her head.
Too much power. The girl fainted.
As I tried to connect my mind with someone, I was shot. I could here the bullet coming at me. The speed was too much for me and I didn’t have a chance to concentrate on it. Bullet from a small-calibre gun pierced my left leg.
Every single time the left one.
The impact made me scream. Blood was spilled all over the wheelchair. I didn’t actually like seeing blood and it made me feel sick. I tried to focus on the bullet which was stuck in shinbone but I was shot again.
Bullet went straight through my hand in plunged itself into my kneecap. The shooter was judge-commander.
The ‘ankh’ Il-Hothyn had given me started to vibrate wildly as the psychic energy from the room moved towards me.
Ignoring the pain and reality I could actually see something. Sounds of the shooting got lower and almost faded away. I could saw as bullets winded across the courtroom to speakers’ row and drew small lines behind them. There were 27 bullets in the air at the moment as some carved their way in the chairs and some were just coming out from the barrels. I could feel the psychic barriers of the prison under my feet and see the shining souls in the room.
They were beautiful, every one of them shining bit differently, there were colours from yellow to purple and every one of them radiated gently. I could sense how people in the room started to focus on me. I was floating in the air. Half a meter was left between my legs and the marble floor where fragments of the wooden chairs dropped harshly after being hit by projectiles.
The leaving soul of Pontifex Urba watched me as I collected the life force in the courtroom in me. To say it in an easy way, I breathed the life force of living beings in the room in me. Cornelius and Ceridwen were unlucky outsiders but I couldn’t count them off.
I could feel the desire inside me. I craved for their souls. And I had the power to consume them, all the power was in my hands as Cornelius said. I was the god-damn inquisitor!
All the psi-shields in the room just ‘popped out’. Generators just crashed down and they gave up. Suddenly the whole courtroom was under my command. The cold started to fill the room. Cardinal Filippos XIV grasped his throat, nobody can breathe without a soul and I was the one handling it.
Stop this, Tearlach! I could hear as Ceridwen made gentle connection with my mind. You are standing on the Line now! Stop this!
But Ceridwen’s talk was so quiet, so quiet it was covered by a lot more powerful voice. It talked to me but first I couldn’t understand what it said. The voice’s echoes filled the courtroom and made Ceridwen scream in agony. Though not sure what was the language the voice used, I started to understand it. It was so soft and so powerful at the same time. I could feel the knowledge in the words it used and I could sense the ancient wisdom in this being.
I see… it started.
What do you see?
I see a future. It is your future.
I’ve seen my future too… what about it?
I’ll give you another one. A better one. the voice offered and I could feel as someone was focusing on me with psychical methods.
None can chance their future. Who are you?
Ceridwen screamed. She tried to lash psychic attack against me but I suffocated it easily.
Il-Hothyn’s ankh vibrated violently. I could shut my ears from Ceridwen’s screaming but this small ankh screamed in pain and agony.
The voice became massive and thundering. Black smoke which seemed almost solid filled most of the room and formed into a massive human-like figure. It was a woman. At least kind of a woman. The woman was all naked and licked her purple lips. Strange patterns filled her hands and lower body. Pure white skin changed grotesquely into scales as the hands ended into clawed fists that had golden jewellery around it. There were six snake-like bracelets around both of her hands made of gold, twisting strangely like they would have been alive all the same. She had two curved horns growing from the front of her head and long raven-black hair that stretched all the way to the ground. She was so beautiful and she talked to me with gentle voice.
“I think you have something that belongs to me after all”, she purred to me. Her body was two times bigger than mine, she was a goddess. No, she was the goddess. No such a beauty could otherwise exist.
“What might that be?” I asked ecstatic. I think I was going to fall in love. She was so beautiful. Dark, deep eyes stared me smiling like a lover smiles.
She reached her clawed hand to my waist where Il-Hothyn’s ankh screamed like in a horror film. Something like a soul filled the ankh and tried to speak with me. It had been there all the time I just hadn’t noticed it before. Now it was afraid… afraid of the goddess. And for some reason, I trusted the small pendant.
So I asked again: “Who are you?”
But the goddess didn’t care, she moved towards me and became smaller, or actually normal size but smaller than she was. She was only a little shorter than me as she pressed herself against me.
“You don’t care”, she whispered in my ear so I got goosebumps. “I just need that pendant of yours.”
“Why do you need it?”
“Because it is mine!” the goddess screamed and grasped me of my waist with her talon-like claws. She was a great lady with burning eyes and flaming hair. Her hold hurt me.
Then like nothing had happened she spoke to me again with gentle low voice her eyes filled with love.
“I’ve lost it a long time ago. Would you be kind enough and handle it for me?” the voice, it was so charming, so sweet like a box full of sugar pastries. I touched her pure skin with my bloody hand but it didn’t leave a mark on her skin. It was as white and as pure as it had been all the time. She moaned like in ecstasy. The ankh screamed to me again. I could almost here what it was saying but the goddess’s light whispering covered it.
“What do I get for it?” I asked her.
I wanted her, nothing else.
The doors into the courtroom were violently opened by a psychic attack. I felt a single magnificent psychical being at the door as he slammed a bolt of lightning against me. The goddess backed away from me as I pushed the attack away. One of the pillars was broken in two by the lightning bolt.
“How dare you to interrupt us!” I yelled to the man but he ran right at me. Funny, I felt far more powerful psyche than mine in him. If I was ruling the courtroom, the man had the power to disband my will. The goddess wailed fiercely.
The man, dressed in a worn-out cloak in a way his inquisitorial rosette could be seen in an open collar. It was familiar.
I had no chance against this man. He ran with incredible speed at me and grasped my ankh, my goddess’s ankh, from me. Then a kick at my leg. Left leg, it made me shiver; I could feel how my extraordinary powers were fading away.
“It is my goddess’s! You can’t take it!” I spat against the man.
He answered to me with an uppercut that hit my jaw. It made me stagger and fell on the floor. I wasn’t even floating anymore.
“What have you done?” I yelled fiercely and angry for the man.
“I’m taking this somewhere where you or that blasphemy can’t consume it. You call yourself an inquisitor? Collaborating with the very powers of the warp! Be ashamed of yourself!” the man shouted to me and leaned over me so I could see his face.
He was me.
I used the only ace hid up in my sleeve. Something Phillip Ancalya had taught me. I lashed an unpredicted and fast bolt of psychic power into the man’s psyche. It made him back out a bit and then I released his control over the consuming powers of warp.
An uncontrollable vortex of raw
psychical energy spread in all directions and plunged this man in it. His frame was twisted and stretched unnaturally and slowly plunged in the vortex by corny hands grasping his cloak. It was grotesque but somehow amusing to see how my opponent is utterly destroyed by your powers. Simply fun.
But the vortex didn’t close. It kept its loud humming and crackling as warpforged bolts of lightning bursted out from it. Faces of unknown humanoids could be seen in the vortex like they would have been in some kind of dirty stew. Sickly green and brown colours were mixed into lightning clear blue and white. If something, that was unnaturally.
The goddess screamed wildly. Not sure if of pleasure or of anger, but she was scary. Her claws changed into great talons and her mouth became filled with needle-sharp teeth. The nice and sexy lady was long gone and instead of my goddess stood a giant raging daemonette. And if I would have to judge what it was, it was Keeper of Secrets, a Greater Daemon.
She stood next to the still standing speakers’ benches and raged to me with some unknown language that I had never heard before. Strong hissing words were like fists as they hit me. My leg hurt like hell again so I couldn’t stand properly. With all power I got left I tried to close the vortex. The courtroom warmed up as the vortex threw brimstones and ash into the room. The Keeper of Secrets was using her powers to keep the vortex open, maybe it wasn’t able to open one but could hold it open anyway. I couldn’t let her do that. It was my fault the vortex was open.
What was left alive of the jury started to stand up and drew their power mauls and other melee weapons they had brought with them. The Cardinal, Filippos XIV, didn’t wake up, ever again. Nor did Pontifex Urba, or judge-commander, or Cornelius. Neither did a huge part of the jury. I had killed them all and not just killed, I had consumed their souls in me.
I threw up, didn’t want to think about it.
What have I done?
In the name of the Emperor, what have I done?
As I tried to get myself together, I saw people running amok in the courtroom. There were no Arbites brave enough to face the Keeper of Secrets. Third arm ending into crab-like claw that grotesquely opened and closed by its own, grew out of the Greater Daemons back. Horrifying talons drew burning icons in the air that glowed with unpleasant light. She was making a portal into realm of her kind.
The first psychic assault against the Greater Daemon made it confused and mixed up the unholy blasphemous markings. Fiery gaze of hers drilled in me and I could see burning cities, women and men alike being raped and children mutilated and eaten alive in some disgusting feasts. Memories and prophesies could be seen in her flaming eyes that screamed unstopping pain and eternal pleasure. Sadomasochistic sights tried to carve their way into my mind but I stayed hard. This daemon wouldn’t trick me again.
And it didn’t need to, final marks were drawn in the air, glowing with eternally burning flame of warp colouring the courtroom into its unholy colours. The courthouse of D’Anglos was tainted for all eternity. I could hear as people screamed in the hallways and corridors. The daemonettes were freed and they were hunting people now. The Gate was open.
I tried to crush the daemon’s will again but it lashed me back with her psyche. All of her concentration was focused on me. It was crushing. The Keeper of Secrets kept her psyche focused on my weak mind and walked to me. She stood tall and dreadful in all of her malevolent presence, me left right under her right leg that pressed my chest nastily.
Then I heard a sound of a sword.
Ceridwen, as annoying and cocky as she could be, was a precious ally. The massive broadsword she carried with her all the time was revealed of its sheath. Into its purely glowing surface was carved words seven times blessed; “Through the cleansing fire”. The sword was forged in the fires of Mars millennium ago for the ‘Saviour of Iox’, inquisitor Velgram D’Ark.
Ceridwen raised the sword over her head and like a red bolt she slashed the Keeper of Secrets into its twisted leg. Daemon’s leg released a nasty sound as the force sword Ceridwen wielded penetrated the daemonic flesh into the unholy core of the beast. Sound of cracking bone and violent scream of the daemon filled the courtroom. Daemon’s screaming made me hold my ears as the impure cacophony of pain filled my brain.
But Ceridwen cared little when the daemon screamed. She took the blade on her side and prepared it for second blow.
“God-Emperor, infuse this weapon with your rightful wrath, so I might deliver your anger and justice unto the enemies of your realm!” Ceridwen shouted as the glowing marks made her red power armour to shine surrealistic holiness. The mighty broadsword was blocked by the daemon’s crab-like claw and the never seen anger was gazed upon Ceridwen who was challenging the Keeper of Secrets. Her horns were like two burning torches on her forehead as she moved off me and turned to Ceridwen.
“You petty mortal, I shall feast on your body and soul tonight. Though you shall be no more than appetizer”, the daemon groaned and spat corrosive acid from her mouth.
“I’m the guardian of the humankind! Serving the One who sits on the Golden Throne of Terra! Thou are nothing but a pagan god from the abyss of the forbidden and forgotten realm and thou shall not triumph!” Ceridwen raised her voice so it shook the very courtroom like a thunder storm. “Go back to the shadows you abomination! Or I shall be the one who sets you there.”
Ceridwen’s simple mind trick seemed to fool the daemon who stopped and measured the inquisitor.
“You shall burn with your False Emperor in the furnaces of my prince”, the daemon answered and with lightning speed assaulted on Ceridwen.
The broadsword flashed as Ceridwen fearlessly counter-attacked the daemon. The inquisitor somersaulted out of the daemon’s grabbing efforts and strokes the wounded leg from behind. The blood-hungry broadsword carved its way through the daemonic bones and tore the flesh in pieces. But the daemon didn’t scream anymore. It lashed with impossible speed Ceridwen on the ground and grasped her armoured body with the crab-like claw.
“The Prince of Pleasure shall have a new toy”, the daemon announced and hit the inquisitor with her talon.
The broadsword fell on the marble floor which slowly turned into flesh-like material as the vortex spat the mutating powers of warp in to the courtroom.
With all the power there were left in me, I rose on my bloodied legs. The bullet stuck in my kneepad scoured my knee so I could almost here the sound it made. Limping my left leg I crawled to the broadsword and raised it off the ground. Ceridwen was still fighting fiercely with one dagger in her hand against the enormous beast that held her easily in the air.
The broadsword was unwilling to co-operate with me. It was a force sword, hosting a mind of its own which made it even more lethal and it sensed I was not its master. The sword was angry; I could feel that it was furious being thrown away from its master and it craved for the daemon’s blood.
“By the Holy light shining from the Golden Throne where my one and only master sits in his eternal glory, please, guide my hand”, the broadsword loosened a bit but didn’t seem to like me. “By the Omnissiah! Let your anger free!”
And as I raised the broadsword over my head it swung itself against the daemon. I was only carried by the hungry blade which aimed right between the Keeper of Secret’s ribs.
Black ichor bursted out from the wound as the broadsword carved its way into the daemon’s black insides. The scream, why couldn’t it stop screaming. It threw Ceridwen across the courtroom and she hit one of the pillars. Blood pouring out of his mouth and forehead she dragged herself up. Meanwhile the broadsword hit again the daemon right at the wrist which snapped in two like a sprig. The sword taught me how to move with it. I stepped sideways as the Keeper of Secrets mauled the marble floor with her crab-claw. It was weak but angry.
The broadsword infused me with some kind of strength. I could barely feel any pain in my legs or hand and I got a power to move like a dancer. The daemon almost hit me with the stub of her hand but missed slightly and lost her balance. Mighty daemon fell on the ground on all her fours and groaned exhaustedly.
The broadsword led my way right in front of the daemon’s terrifying face and I raised the sword high above my head.
“You have no power over me… I’ll find you”, she threatened me and I rammed the broadsword into the unholy skull of hers.
X +Warp unleashed+
The Keeper of Secrets, Greater Daemon of Slaanesh, set up in flames so bright I had to look away. As the body of the abomination still burned next to me, Ceridwen walked to me.
“Tearlach you fool!” Ceridwen punched me and took her broadsword from me. “What did you do?”
Ceridwen was dead-serious and apparently exhausted of the fight with the Keeper of Secrets. Her eyes wandered across me with a seriously judging look.
“I tried to save you… and Cornelius too… where is he?” I asked but Ceridwen shook her head.
“He is dead. You killed him!” tone of her voice was something between angry and sad. With nothing but one hand she grasped my neck and pulled me in the air. “You… you vermin! You summoned the Slaanesh on the holy D’Anglos!”
“I didn’t mean to! I got distracted, and it was that inquisitor’s fault, I had to knock him… him out, let me free Ceridwen!” her grasp started to hurt and I couldn’t breathe very well anymore. Unlucky for me, she was taller than me and I had to hang there. “Ceridwen, please!”
“I told Phillip no to trust you. To take a ‘verminspeaker’ as an acolyte of an inquisitor! Hah! He is the fool behind this all”, she pulled me right in front of her face. There were tears in her eyes; I would never have thought this girl could even cry. “I’ll see you get burned my brother Vermintongue.”
“Ceridwen! We could talk about this! Right?” I tried to reason with her, I was a bit afraid of that Lothringenian bitch. She could do lots of nasty things though right now she was no challenge to me. She had no power over me but it wouldn’t do any good to ‘force’ her let me go. “Lets talk about it!”
The vortex slowly spread more and more and I could already feel the winds of the warp dragging my cloak to it.
“We have a wheelchair; we’ll just put Cornelius in there and drag him out of here! He’ll take us anywhere we want!” I said but Ceridwen didn’t seem to think that way.
“The Arbites of D’Anglos will arrive here in any minute. Then we will put you down and reason with this… vortex you created.”
“I didn’t mean to create it! Ceridwen for sake of our Emperor, release me…”
“How do you even dare to say the name of our saviour God? Shut up and stay put or I’ll crush your neck.”
“You can not close the vortex now. It is too late! And it is pulling us in if you didn’t notice, so could we please get out of here?”
But stubbornly Ceridwen stood put. I regret it but I just had to use psychic powers to get us out of there. A petty mind-shield Ceridwen had created could not protect her from me and I hit her unconscious. Not even trying to pull almost 190 centimetres tall woman in a power armour I moved her part-psychically on the wheelchair.
The wheelchair was next to the open door of the courtroom and I noticed that the Sister Dialogous was still lying on the floor. I walked to her and checked her pulse, she was alive.
Gently I reached into her mind and shook her up. The bionic eye-system lid up and started to glow slightly and she opened her normal eye.
“What has happened?” she asked and turned her head from right to left. To be honest, the courtroom was in pieces and the bolts pouring vortex didn’t make the sight any better. The girl gave me a mistrustful look and said: “I knew it! You just have to mess things up, do you?”
“No it is not that, I just…” I tried to apologise but the girl waved her hand.
“Yeah I don’t care as long as you take me out of this monastery”, she said and gave me a questioning look. “You are going to take me out of here?”
I didn’t know. It was too confusing; I had to report for Departmento Munitorum and the Ordos Iox immediately. Phillip won’t be happy about this but maybe he’ll convince Ceridwen to not to kill me… maybe.
I looked at Sister Dialogous again.
“What is your name sister?”
“What? You’re still playing your game huh?”
“No, seriously, I do not know you. So what is your name?”
“Naomi Hadranoh, though nowadays I’m known as ‘Naomhan’.”
“Naomhan… ‘little saint’ huh?” it was kind of strange to give ex-hooker a name like that. Like I was the one to judge other people’s name. “Yes I’ll take you with me. Don’t you worry.”
She smiled to me for a first time. She was beautiful. I liked her smile. It was like the vortex wasn’t there anymore and no chaos incursion upon the holy lands of D’Anglos.
“Maybe I’m going to like you again”, she said and I helped her up.
“We need to get Cornelius!” I realised and ran to the speakers’ row. God I got misled but now we had to act. There was no time to waste as the vortex’s humming got louder and louder and I could see that something was going to come out from there.
I found Cornelius behind of a splintered chair covered by wood-fragments. He was bleeding from his nose and he was truly white, not dead though, he trembled uncontrollable and his eyes just gazed somewhere far away into nothingness. He was a husk… maybe I had devoured his soul too. I had to find a way to return it.
But it wasn’t the main point here now. With Naomi’s help I carried Cornelius on Ceridwen on the wheelchair and told Naomi to push it as I we headed to the hallway.
Right after the doorway I could hear terrible screaming from my left and as I turned my head cautiously, I saw a daemonette running at me. Rude crab-claw that replaced its right arm was pointed at me as she furiously ran to me. I tried to take out my shotgun-pistol, but noticed I had no gun. Unleashing one of the most powerful psychic attacks I knew I bursted the whole daemonette into pieces. Black ichor splashed in all directions as pieces of daemonic meat flew everywhere in the great hallway. If something, that was gross.
“Come on! We have to go now, I need my stuff”, I yelled to Naomi who pushed the wheelchair in front of her. We ran through the hallway. There were people decapitated and just torn into pieces. Blood covered the earlier shining marble floor and made it sticky to step.
Great pillars that hold the roof on top of us shook scarily as some magnificent roaring came from the courtroom. Some dirty abomination had just emerged from the vortex… God help me, what have I done.
A door to the ‘reception’. I ran to it and opened the door to the room with large stone fragments and some spread human organs in blood pools. Some of the roof had collapsed down maybe during my most intense contact with the Greater Daemon. Some warp-quakes.
The bullet-proof glass was broken and I started to climb over the splintered desk and large stone pieces to the other side of the former desk.
Trying not to concentrate on the ear-hurting roar that echoed through the hallway I checked all the shelves with cardboard boxes to find my stuff. With my hands I pulled the boxes down from the shelves and tried to look if there was nothing that belonged to me or was otherwise interesting and with my psyche I tried to find my sickle who would answer my call for sure.
Two exhaustingly long minutes went by before I found my stuff. My sickle answered for my calls as I found it from the other room and guided me for it. From a box I found my shotgun-pistol, unloaded though so I threw it away on the floor where number of broken boxes and strange stuff was scattered by my search. My back bag was there and in there was the black casket. I hadn’t lost it.
“Thank you”, I said to some higher power and searched the box for more. My data slate was there too and not even broken. I strapped it around my wrist and rose up.
Pain stroke my leg again and I fell to the ground.
“feth! Ah… focus Tearlach, focus!” I yelled to myself and moved my psyche to my wounded kneecap and leg again. Nice and steady and we’ll get out of here right away, that was my mantra at the moment.
Fastly I walked through broken and open boxes to the desk again and climbed over it to Naomi and unconscious Ceridwen and Cornelius. On my way I noticed a small las-pistol, I gave it to Naomi.
“This is for you”, I said giving the las-pistol for her and noticed myself to blush as she smiled to me again. “Lets just get out of here!”
Through the broken door and into the hallway. I hadn’t been in the courthouse before but these were normally designed in the same manner so I turned to right and opened my data-slate. After fingerprint identification it made a small ‘pling’ voice and opened to a holo-menu.
Naomi tried to keep up my pace as I walked through broken benches and stone fragments to the main doors. I felt as Ceridwen’s psyche was getting stronger and lashed her again with numbing attack. Damn that bitch was strong in mind.
Two guards next to the half-open main door were half-eaten and their guts were spilled on the floor. It was so… disgusting. Thought a man who had just ate couple of souls. I was so messed up.
We stepped out from the courthouse where roaring of an unknown beast came. Massive, huge pillars stood in front of the main doors to support roof over the hundred stairs that led to wide square where daemonettes were running amok screaming and laughing madly. Poor civilians ran before them away from them as some Arbites speeders were firing at them with heavy stubbers.
I opened my data-slate again and made a scan of Imperial radio-frequencies. It found two frequencies and with my authority I opened the channel.
“This is inquisitor Rosenstein, do you copy?” I spoke to data-slate’s mic.
A brief vox crackle and an answer.
“This is arbitrator-captain Ilya Cromstein of Adeptus Arbites, leader of the Land Speeder squadron Lambda-2. We copy! Over!”
“I need a vehicle to carry me and three others immediately away from the courthouse in umm…” I checked my data-slate that gave me planetary sectors right away. “…from the courthouse in sector A-15, this is top priority, I have a wounded inquisitor with me. Over!”
Crackling from the lower frequency meant that Arbites where discussing about the matter. In a minute my vox crackled again.
“We have a Land Speeder ‘Storm’ ready to take you in three minutes where ever you want, my lord. Over!”
“Thank you. Over”, I answered for it and turned to Naomi who watched cautiously the main doors as the roaring became louder and louder.
“What in the name of a devil is in there, Tearlach?”
“It might be that itself”, I said and looked to Naomi’s one open eye. “Don’t think about it.”
Speeder squadron Lambda, apparently, hovered through the square and moved into the city behind a flock of flying daemons.
As I raised my gaze up on the sky I saw how the sky switched to purple and red. White lightning bolts tore clouds apart and coloured the ever more deep coloured sky in the flash of lights. A warp gate. That Keeper of Secrets had still finished her portal. It was all gone now, we had to get out of here and fast.
The colours of the opening warp gate stretched over the blue sky in to the horizon slowly but surely.
Even the sea, that surrounded the square and courthouse started to storm and the waves got bigger and bigger and attacked the piers behind the massive courthouse. The colour of the water started to change into red too. This was madness and it was because I had failed so perfectly.
Wind started to blow stronger. The portal was going to fully open in a matter of minutes. There was no backdoor out of here.
Three land speeders were approaching us above the stormy sea. The waves seemed like claws that tried to grab the speeders hovering above it.
I connected the lower frequency.
“This is inquisitor Rosenstein; I’m in a need of a transport. Over.”
“Crew of a Land Speeder ‘Storm’ speaking, we are arriving in approximately 40 seconds. Over!”
Nice and steady as I said before. I turned to Naomi who watched as flying creatures fell down from the opening portal above us.
“To whom did you work for?” I asked.
“To whom did you work for before this? Answer me!”
“I um… it was the sisterhood, none personally… why?”
Damn it. She could have had some useful codes or something but if she was just with the sisterhood…
“Nothing… just asking… I guess”, I answered to her focusing at my data-slate. Quick scan on the D’Anglos information gave me just the knowledge I needed.
The Land Speeder ‘Storm’ hovered next to us and a man jumped out from the cockpit.
“Inquisitor Rosenstein I presume?” the crewman said to me and I nodded briefly.
“Naomi, get that wheelchair over here!”
The girl pushed the heavy wheelchair next to the speeder and the crewman started to raise Ceridwen in the speeder.
“This one is inquisitor Ceridwen Lothringen, she is wounded by a Greater Daemon and unconscious, she must not wake up so hit her in the head if she tries to”, I said to the crewman who looked me eyebrows up. “You don’t know what a touch from a daemon makes to even the most pure of us. So; hit to the head.”
The crewman nodded with a strange confused smile on his face.
“This one is a rogue trader Cornelius von Gündrad, he has apparently lost his sanity because of the daemon but don’t mind, I’ll take care of him if he tries something”, I lied to the obedient crewman. I had no reason to tell him the truth now… or actually ever if I’m the one to choose.
As we got Ceridwen and Cornelius on the speeder Naomi climbed in it and me after her. The crewman jumped in the cockpit and asked from me: “Where to, my lord?”
“We need to get planetary defence forces up and ready in seconds, can you take me to their headquarters, this is no job for the Arbites only now.”
“Yes my lord, the PDF HQ
is next to the cardinal’s palace. It is ten minutes flight at least.”
“Ten minutes? We don’t have ten minutes!”
“I can’t risk the passengers now my lord. It will take…” the crewman tried to explain but I stopped him.
“You drive as fast as you can like the very core of the evilness would be behind us! I’ll take care of passengers; you are now freed by that responsibility, just drive!”
The crewman nodded and lowered his helmet’s visor in front of her eyes. The Land Speeder started to hover a bit more higher and then the engines started to rumble and the jets pushed us forward with a speed to imagine.
I could here as the crew spoke between each others and through the vox-system about some technical information of the speeder.
“Going in seventy meters.”
The speeder rose above the buildings like nothing. Engines kept rumbling and spout fire behind us.
My own data-slate built-in vox crackled and I took it next to my ear because of the noice that engines and speed made. It was the crew.
“My lord, if I may ask, what is happening here?”
I pushed the mic right in front of my mouth and yelled in it.
XI +Memories replaced+
I slammed the double doors into wide office where official looking officers stopped their work and looked at me. Black ichor from the Greater Daemon was dropping off my cloak as well my own blood was tipping out of my wounds. Naomi came right after me pushing the wheelchair where Ceridwen and Cornelius sat.
“Where is the Lord Marshal D’Anglos?”
Officers in groups whispered to each others something that I didn’t hear and it made me angry, like the PDF hadn’t notice anything happening on the planet.
“I am inquisitor Tearlach Rosenstein of Ordos Iox”, I took my rosette high so everyone saw it. “I demand that I am taken to Lord Marshal D’Anglos immediately!”
This act made something happen and one younger officer was pushed by some older bearded man in front of me. He seemed to be a bit confused but addressed me tactfully.
“Lieutenant Aure Vokil, sire!” he made a small bow. “Please, follow me, sire.”
I waved to Naomi to stand still and followed lieutenant who fastly walked through some computer rows and casually talking officers. He walked to an elevator and nervously pushed the button to ‘up’. Though he shortly looked me many times he didn’t dare to speak to me even a bit. Silently he just kept an awkward smile on his face and stood still.
Elevator opened and he pointed his hand in it so I could go first. Swiftly he followed me and pressed the button to upper floors and so the elevator’s doors shut down and it started to climb up.
First the lieutenant’s behaviour seemed a bit weird but as I thought, the PDF staff just wasn’t get used to a presence of an inquisitor in D’Anglos. D’Anglos was so peaceful and quiet planet that PDF was almost a joke to people living in there. But the Imperial Law demanded the existence of it so it had to be.
Elevator ‘clinged’ and the doors opened silently and the lieutenant led me through baroque style hallway in front of a dark wooden pair doors. He knocked the door.
“Hold on”, a lazy voice came out of the room through the doors which made me angry. I heard some laughing inside.
With psychic attack I kicked the door open so some splinters of wood flew on the red carpet on the floor. The door dropped off its hinge and fell to the ground.
Great office or more like a lounge of some kind opened in front of me. A massive wooden desk made of dark wood was the centrepiece of the room and behind the desk sat a man legs on the desk. In his hand this big man held a smoking stick that’s smell resembled lho-stick. He had a red dress-uniform with multiple strings and medals on it. My burst in the room made him stand up angry and shout.
“Who do you think you are to interrupt my meeting with our most honoured Lord Commissariat?” the man I supposed to be Lord Marshal yelled to me. Apparently his lho-stick wasn’t strong enough as he was still yelling.
“I think I am an inquisitor Tearlach Rosenstein and who might you be?” I answered as I walked over the room next to Lord Commissariat who sat on massive leather chair on my side of the desk. He took a lho-stick off between his lips and turned to me with surprised look on his face. The Lord Marshal opened his mouth and then shut it and made a bow as he still hold the stick in his hand.
“Sire, my apologies. How may our humble legion serve you?” he said hypocritely a mocking sound in his voice.
“My lord”, the Lord Commissariat said and nodded his head to me humbly. I noticed he had no legs and that was an excuse good enough to not to rise as inquisitor walked in the room. At least it was for me, not to every inquisitor I knew anyhow.
“I need your full co-operation immediately as you might guess”, I started which made the Lord Marshal to bow again stupidly. I noted that the Lord Commissariat had a pistol in a holster, took it and shot the Lord Marshal in the head.
His lho-stick fell to floor.
“How about you, Lord Commissariat?” I asked rhetorically and pointed his gun to his head. “Are you too drugged by your… illegal sticks”, I grabbed his lho-stick and threw it on the ground. “Or would you like to co-operate with me?”
Lord Commissariat looked me straight into my eyes with a grin smile on his chapped face and nodded. “Aye my lord. Just point me at them.”
On the moment I shot the Lord Marshal, I knew I did wrong. Yes, he was unpolite and in drugs, but it didn’t justify me to shoot him down. Also on the moment I shot the Lord Marshal, I felt how his soul was released from his body and I thirsted for it.
The truth I couldn’t control myself anymore very well wasn’t nice at all. I had to be on my heels all the time, something was happening to me.
Nine Marshals stood in front of a big round desk all looking to me. The lieutenant that had led me to the Lord Marshal was with me too as was the Lord Commissariat. A number of vox-connected servitors were standing on the sides of the dim room as the holo-screen on the middle showed the planet’s status.
“As inquisitor Rosenstein said, we do not have reinforcements in days and we must muster our forces immediately to defensive positions”, the Lord Commissariat said. He was a veteran of many great wars and was now in charge of D’Anglos’s PDF forces because he was shot in two, two years ago.
The Marshals confirmed that their sector status was good and troops were making defensive positions in the city.
“Has any one of you ever been part of campaigns or wars before?” I asked because every one of the Marshals seemed to be at least as young as I was.
Six raised their hands. Damn these planetary defence forces…
“Have any one of you fought a… Ah!” I got stopped as a surgeon patched my left leg at the moment. I didn’t have time to visit some damn hospital. “So… have any one of you fought against daemon forces before?”
One hand was raised by a bit older man with a ‘Triple Skull’ medal on his chest.
“Good, you are a new Lord Marshal. Congratulations!” I said but it made a murmur between the officers.
“You can’t actually promote people like this, even you are an inquisitor”, one of the Marshals said obviously jealously and looked at me.
“And yet I did, didn’t I?” I answered with a mocking voice. “You know, maybe I have to educate you a bit. As well as I can execute you, I can promote you. Though I’m leaving the executing for this Lord Commissariat”, I handed a pistol to Lord Commissariat and continued. “So this is how it goes: I am the number one authority on this planet until my colleague inquisitor Ceridwen Lothringen wakes up. Then she is. The cardinal is dead as he tried to assassinate two members of the Holy Inquisition.”
I looked all of the nine Marshals for a moment that fell dead-silent as I spoke.
“As we have understanding between each others now, I have some things that must be taken care right away so carry on”, I ended and stood up. The surgeon gave me a stick to what I could lean to as I walked.
As I pushed a heavy door close behind me I could hear rising voices of the Marshals as they immediately started an arguing. As I said; damn these planetary defence forces.
Lieutenant was walking in front of me again. We had moved into bunker under the building. Just in case some of the defence lines wouldn’t hold. They wouldn’t, I knew it. We moved through narrow corridors into a relatively small, plain room where one blind man stood firmly holding his staff-of-office. An astropath looked at me with his empty eye-sockets and bowed.
“My inquisitor, how may I serve you?” he said obediently and sat on a modest chair. I walked in front of him and grabbed light metallic stool and sat on it.
“Can you send messages still? This is very urgent and maybe critical for the planet’s surviving.”
The astropath looked like he was measuring me and I could feel how his strange psyche moved on me.
“You… you are tainted?” he said and sniffed the air like something disgusting was set right under his nose.
“No, I am not. I just had very intimate contact with a Greater Daemon not so long ago. If you wish, I won’t touch you”, I answered as polite as I could and the astropath seemed to accept this arrangement.
“We are under attack, aren’t we? The daemonic legions of Chaos are setting their foot on our holy D’Anglos. Isn’t that right?”
“Yes, master astropath, that is correct, so I would like you to deliver a message to palace of Ordos Iox on An Romos Prime and to our naval base on Lothringen-Eta. Can you do that even there is an open portal so close to us?”
The astropath rubbed his cheek but made no expressions on his face.
“I am here to serve you, my inquisitor. I’ll send it if you wish.”
“Good, then we shall try it”, I answered and leaned forward to the astropath. The astropath took a strong hold of his staff and a psychic energy started to flow through him, his psyche connected with my mind.
We need to send a message that indicates that we are under the greatest threat and there is no way back now, I started to psychically communicate with the astropath who passed an agreeing thought to me. So I started:
By authority of inquisitor Tearlach Rosenstein of Ordo Xenos of Ordos Iox, the sector fleet is to be designated in the D’Anglos system. The holy D’Anglos is under attack of chaotic daemon legions that must be purged immediately and our only defence is planetary defence forces D’Aglos and Frateris Militia of Adeptus Ministorum. The cardinal of D’Anglos, Filippos XIV, is deceased due attempt to assassinate two members of the Holy Inquisition and so the planet is taken over by inquisitor Ceridwen Lothringen of Ordo Hereticus of Ordos Iox. We demand aid from every source to hold the holy D’Anglos from chaos incursion.
I stopped and I felt how the astropath started to crypt the message ready to be sent.
“Just send it. And try to contact the Imperial Guard of Vér and Zereghost too. I’ll leave you now”, I said rising off the stool. The astropath nodded and quietly was left in the empty room as I left it.
The lieutenant stood next to the door and as I stepped out of the room, he asked: “Is there anything I could do for now?”
“Yes… I need a private room for me, Cornelius, Ceridwen and Naomi. Is there anywhere a room where we could discuss some private things?”
“But of course, sire. This way”, the lieutenant said smiling and led me again through narrow corridors in the room where those three already were. “I thought that you might want some time between ach others so I arranged this earlier.”
“Well thank you. If we manage to survive this I’ll remember your name”, I said to the smiling officer whose name I had already forgotten. It didn’t bother him though and I closed the door behind me and switched it as ‘locked’.
Naomi looked at me. She sat on a desk next to grey concrete wall swinging her legs in the air. Cornelius was sitting in the corner and mumbling something to himself and Ceridwen sat on a chair next to Naomi. Some simple beds were placed against the other wall.
“How is it?” Naomi asked quietly and looked worried.
“What is how?” I answered as I moved to Ceridwen.
I looked to the girl who looked exactly the opposite way.
Never mind exactly. I pulled Ceridwen’s chair in front of me and sat on another chair. I moved my hands on the sides of Ceridwen’s head and focused on her mind and body all a same. For a moment Ceridwen trembled violently until her eyes opened and there was angry flame burning in them.
“You son of a bitch!” she yelled at my face but couldn’t move even though she tried. I psychically controlled her major muscles so she couldn’t move or hit me. She was even angrier as she noticed it and tried to attack me by psychical methods but failed. Part of the chair splintered into pieces as I had to misguide her attacks.
“Calm down Ceridwen! Seriously, we have job to do”, I started but she spat on me.
“You are disgusting little vermin! Maggot! Filth!
“Seriously Ceridwen, focus!” I lashed a psychic command in her brains and she calmed down a bit. “One great warp gate just appeared in the planet’s orbit and it is highly likely that the whole planet is going to get sucked in it! Now, if you have some serious grudge with me you can handle it later, we have to survive this first. Right?”
“So you did open a portal?” Ceridwen asked as she made faces to me.
“Apparently yes. I also devoured approximately seven souls from their bodies including Cornelius’s, anything else you might want to know?”
“That is heresy. Heresy! You will burn Tearlach, that is the fate of the heretic!”
“Shut up, I’ll just change your memories and it will all be forgotten for all eternity”, I said for the inquisitor whose face turned into terrified grimace.
“No! You wouldn’t…”
“You think so?”
“You son of a bitch! You little pathetic vermin you should be burned with rats and other filthy animals crawling away from people you… you filthy bastard! Unsanctified bastard I tell you… you bitch!” Ceridwen started to scream so loud I was a bit afraid of that the lieutenant could hear her. So I pressed my hands strongly against her head and released multiple psychic waves that made her faint. Then I started a work never to be done. It was impropriate, impolite and to tell the truth, illegal under the penalty of death. Even to change a normal civilian’s memories was a crime compared to killing-spree.
Do not even think from where I had learned it.
Connecting some mind synapses and reaching ever further into her subconscious I started to change some small happenings of the day. Assassination… death of a cardinal… rightful freeing-process of Tearlach turned into savage bloodshed that ended as Pontifex Urba summoned a Greater Daemon.
I released the shivering inquisitor who fell limb. Hard job to do indeed…
Naomi watched cautiously as I turned to her.
“I don’t think that was necessary…” she said. “Are you going to remove my memories too?”
Her bionic eye shined its strange mechanical light.
“I…” I started but didn’t know what to say. To tell the truth, I kind of liked that girl though she was a bit strange.
“Yeah, you have to do so you can fool everyone that you are innocent… isn’t that so? That is what this is all about. Ceridwen wants to do her duty obediently and you just do more and more punishable deeds”, she looked me worried. “Isn’t that so?”
“Ceridwen is a puritan. She doesn’t understand my situation…”
“Should she?” Naomi started and bit her lip. “You are an inquisitor and you are above the Lex Imperialis. But I don’t think you are above the Imperial Creed…”
“I laugh at your Imperial Creed! I thought that you would be the last to preach about Imperial Creed!” I said to Naomi who turned to red. “There are only dozen of organisations that are above me; rogue traders, lord and lady inquisitors and the Emperor of Mankind! No other can stand against me or scrutinise my work for the Imperium!”
Naomi backed away a bit as I raised my voice and stepped towards her.
“Do you know a proverb of inquisitors?” she asked cautiously of me. “He who is not a puritan in his youth; has no heart…”
I lashed her unconscious with my psyche and started to remake her memories of recent events.
XII +Back to Elenna+
Cornelius was as good as dead.
It didn’t matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t connect my mind with his… apparently because he had no mind in a first place anymore. I couldn’t retrieve his soul in that useless husk either… Cornelius was beyond my help. Absolutely nothing to be done.
It made me sad. I liked Cornelius and now I had killed him. Not a job for a friend.
Maybe I wasn’t his friend… if you think; no friend devours other’s soul. It was kind of funny when you say it that way. Not hilarious, but fun… in a sick, perverse way.
“Focus!” I said to myself. I was about to loose myself into this… this chaos. I could feel as the warp grew stronger on D’Anglos every second and it made me crazy. Like billion voices were whispering to me… constantly.
After I had reconstructed Ceridwen’s memories properly, I had awakened her. Now the reality was that Pontifex Urba summoned a Greater Daemon and the rest of the courtroom tried to assassinate all three of us. Cardinal was possessed by a daemon but it made no difference, we had to destroy him. Maybe I should just make a career as a novelist.
When Ceridwen woke up I didn’t need to push her. She jumped up like a rabbit and ran to Marshals me trying to keep up her pace. With her authority even the newly promoted Lord Marshal with his colleagues looked like a bunch of little boys who obeyed her without a question. The old Lord Commissariat gave his advices to Ceridwen who listened but didn’t seem to care of what he said. Lothringen’s Pride as other great families called it.
I didn’t need to go outside. I could here bangs of autocannon-turrets and I could feel the presence of our enemy. I didn’t want to go outside. I was safe here… here in the dead end beneath some office building. What should I think about this? It was all so… fethed up… and what was this use of swear-words? I didn’t normally curse.
I wonder what happened to the ships orbiting the planet as the warp gate appeared so close it. Eventually the whole planet is going to get plunged into the warp and… well, goodbye D’Anglos. I had to escape. If Ceridwen wanted to stay there fighting her war against daemon legions then she would. I didn’t care; I had to save myself now as the planet was already doomed.
That was my answer! Elenna, it could take us out of this God-forsaken planet. Yes… it was the only way. I rose up and nodded for the Marshals to continue their work and walked out of the room. Naomi stood silently on the other side of the door and grasped my sleeve as I walked out of the room.
“Where do you think you are going?” she asked.
“Off this planet, are you coming with me?”
Naomi smiled and waved me to get going already. Bangs of autocannon-turrets could be heard inside of the office-building as the PDF pounded back the daemon legion. Waste of time… there was nothing to be done if the planet was really going to get sucked in the warp gate.
“So where are you actually heading?” Naomi asked as I was pressed the elevator down to main lobby.
“Out of this building of course.”
“I assume that you do know that there is dock for aircraft on upper floors…” Naomi started and I pushed the ‘up’ button.
“Of course, why there wouldn’t be?” the screams in my head made hard to focus on anything. Whispering of Slaanesh was no more just whispering. I was afraid of it, it had already once enchanted me.
“I’m just about to have psychic breakdown so could you lead our way”, I said to Naomi who looked worrying.
“Of course Tearlach.”
The elevator arrived on our floor and we stepped in. The power was surely go out in any minute so we had to hurry. Though demon legions rarely used normal strategies against human they still can destroy power plants.
The elevator went all the way up on a floor 67 but it didn’t let us out of it. Security system locked the elevator in place as we tried to go into dock.
I didn’t even think about a possibility to just press my authority-codes into the elevator’s panels as I bursted my psyche against elevator’s doors. A crack and two as the hinges broke down and the metallic locks crashed. Two heavy doors fell on the ground twisted and in pieces which made Naomi look me amazed.
“I thought that psykers had their ‘specialties’ on some subjects only”, she asked fearfully when I jumped over the door pieces into dock.
“Only lower level Imperium-raised psykers have specialties. Being a gamma-plus psyker is a specialty on its own, now could we focus on the aircraft?” I answered.
A dozen of soldiers ran in the dock. It was vast area housing at least five Arvus Lighter and three Aquila Landers. Ramps and railings were made of black steel or something very similar to it and there were ramps and railings. The dock was almost twenty meters high and there were docking places on two altitudes in some places. Huge control panels were connected to lock systems with cables and pipes with alarming colours and patterns.
“Have you flown any of these things before?” I asked Naomi as I realised I didn’t know how to fly any kind of aircraft.
“I can try”, she said enthusiastically but it wasn’t good for me. I needed a pilot.
On the ramps were running other than defence troopers too. I saw one man with rebreather mask on his face and pressure helmet in his hand. That one had to be a pilot.
A small psychic touch in the man’s mind made him turn and run for us. He came to me looking like lost and then asked: “Um… can I help you?”
“Are you a pilot?”
“Yes, I am, why?”
“We need you get us out of this planet. There is a…” I started but the pilot shook his head.
“No way am I going to fly in that weather. That is no mere storm anymore, it is a God-damn warp storm”, the man said and pointed at the open blastdoors through what I could see blazing sky of lightning bolts. “No aircraft is going to sly in there anymore…”
This time I stopped him with a psychic contact.
Take us out of here, I said to his mind and the pilot pulled his helmet on and nodded.
“This way sir, we are ready for take off!”
So I walked behind the pilot Naomi following me to one of those Arvus Lighter crafts. It was small but bulky craft that looked more like chimera tank with wings than a real aircraft.
“Where are we heading now?” Naomi whispered in my ear as we walked metal stairs.
“Elenna, Cornelius’s star-ship, I think it will take us out of here…”
“You think?” she whispered again but I didn’t answer her. I had to hope that the ship’s crew would take us out of the system. I had to count on it, there was no other way.
The pilot opened the Arvus’s rear hatch and walked in it. A long bench with safety belts was set against both walls. Grey from the outside and grey from the inside, Arvus was poor and cheap looking aircraft but it could take us orbit. It was designed to transportation!
I just had to talk to myself all the time that my plan was going to work. Because it had to, we had no choice; there were no other way out of here.
“Please sit tight and we are ready to go, my lord”, the pilot said enchanted and moved in the cockpit from the small hatch system. I could here as he set the engines on and they started to hum. Arvus was getting some air underneath it and I felt as it floated and started to hover out of the dockside.
Rear hatch closed and clanked as the locks set on. Small dim lights turned on and lighted the cargo-area into its miserable poor yellow light. I could barely see Naomi who sat right next to me and tried to get her seatbelts on.
Engines rushed on and loud humming could be heard as the Arvus moved over the edge of the dock. Without a warning the craft banged into high speed and almost made me to vomit. As my insides started to settle in the high velocity I had to focus more and more to keep my psyche not to connect with the warp. No psychic powers could be used as the pilot flew even higher and higher. Some alarm-signals started to scream and red lights turned on.
“No worries! Everything is under control!” the vox crackled as the pilot spoke to us. It didn’t exactly convince me but there was little to do from where I was.
I bet it took over an hour. Engines kept roaring until suddenly they fainted. The vox crackled again.
“The D’A-6 orbital dock is not on its course though there is one huge corvette-class star-ship still docked in. Do you wish to approach? D’A-6 does not answer”, the pilot said.
Orbital station didn’t answer? Hopefully there was no daemons in there too… we had to believe in it.
“Dock in as close to that corvette as you can! We are in serious hurry now!” I yelled through my data-slate mic so the pilot would hear me.
Arvus’s engines started to slightly hum as the pilot apparently tried to dock it in the D’A-6. I tried to scan some information of my data-slate but it didn’t find much information as all systems seemed to be down. But if all of the D’A-6’s systems were also down there wouldn’t be voidshields… and all of the pressure and oxygen would be released into space if we would dock in. Like we could even dock in.
“Abort docking to D’A-6!” I shouted to pilot. “Try to make contact with Elenna!”
“What is Elenna’s official code?” the pilot asked. Hell to all codes! How could I remember such a thing? I had heard it once before though so I should know it.
“I can’t remember the whole code, god damn it! It started C19, Elenna, can’t you connect with any other way?” I asked and the pilot made me really angry now. There was no time to start remembering of such a tiny thing.
“Arvus Lighter is not intentioned to make contacts with unknown ships. If we had an astropath with us then…”
“Nice”, I stopped the pilot. This demanded some radical acts. I certainly didn’t want to even try connecting my mind with any kind of psykers when we were so close to a portal. No, couldn’t do that but there was one thing.
Sacrifices had to be made.
“Naomi, look at me!” I said to the girl who gave me questioning look.
“What are you going to do?” she asked but I couldn’t answer to her. I had to contact the Elenna and I had to use someone between my mind and the warp. This could mean the end of hers but sacrifices had to be made.
I pushed my hand against her forehead and rushed into her mind. It was so… simple. Though she was not able to manifest any psychic powers herself, I could use her to make thing or two for me. To say it in an easy way, I used Naomi’s mind and psyche to shield my own while reaching at Elenna. Trying to find mind strong enough to which I could connect with. Kondrad would do it; navigators were strong enough against the warp as were astropaths. But I didn’t know where the astropaths were in the ship.
Gently I reached into corridors of the Elenna and moved through ship’s levels. Astropaths… where are you?
“We need to get out of here!”
“But we need to wait Cornelius, his Warrant of Trade is implacable… without it, there is nothing we can do!”
I could ‘hear’ talking and see blurry pictures of arguing people in the control room. Someone of these was Kondrad.
As gently as I could, I touched the man’s mind who was speaking of leaving. It was Kondrad. I could feel as he shuddered but I tried to contact his mind anyway.
This is inquisitor Rosenstein; I need to get aboard the Elenna! We are in the Arvus Lighter next to D’A-6 and Elenna.
I could feel as Kondrad was confused of my contact. I knew it felt strange to get contact from psyker if you weren’t prepared for it.
Let us dock in the Elenna, I have urgent news for your crew! Immediately!
I used my will so Kondrad would do as I say. We had no time to waste. Slowly I left the ship’s corridors and got back on the Arvus Lighter. Naomi went limb as her mind returned in her body. Shocking experience at least but necessary, hopefully she was going to be alright.
The pilot informed me that the Elenna had contacted us and gave permission to dock in one of its ports.
“Let’s go then! Nice and steady if you may”, I answered for the pilot, exhausted.
I stepped out of the Arvus into the grey dock of Elenna. Huge corvette had plenty of docks for light attack and landing craft though most of them were empty. Cornelius hadn’t thought them necessary apparently.
Kondrad walked against the railing on the upper level of dock.
“Are you… an inquisitor?” he asked me. Of course, he had thought I was a xenologist Undrad Ylysses.
“Yes, I am Tearlach Rosenstein and I need you to get out of this system immediately!”
“What about Cornelius? Wasn’t he with you?” Kondrad asked.
“Cornelius is dead… but I’ll grant you as many rights as rogue trader so get going already! The warp gate is going to suck us all in it!” I yelled to Kondrad who turned on his heels and ran out of the dock. I was so exhausted. Both physically and psychically. I walked in the Arvus and unbelted Naomi from her seat. She had that laspistol I had gave to her on her waist so I took it.
“Pilot! I need your help!” I shouted and the pilot crawled out of the cockpit.
“How can I help you?” he answered and I pointed to Naomi.
“Please, carry this woman; I have no strength for it.”
So the pilot took Naomi and threw her on his shoulder. He nodded to me and so we walked out of the Arvus and into the elevator.
Kondrad had waited us and he sure looked serious. I hadn’t noticed before but now as he knocked the wall with his fingers, I saw that his fingers were attached to each others by skin. He looked like a frog.
“I need to obtain Cornelius’s Warrant of Trade. Can you help me with it?” I asked of Kondrad who looked at me.
“It is sealed in the core of this ship behind three blastdoors. There is no way we can get it without Cornelius”, he said. “And what would an inquisitor do with a Warrant of Trade anyway?”
“I need to check it. Cornelius had some… heretic friends and I need to be certain that his Warrant of Trade gives him right to have them”, I answered. It was a lie again. I wanted that Warrant of Trade for myself. Strangely I felt that I needed to get my hands on it.
“It is my captain’s property and even if I wanted to, I couldn’t help you”, Kondrad said and pointed with his frog-hands me. I grabbed of his hand and showed to him his hands.
“This… this is a reason good enough to get you burned”, I said to the first navigator who backed against elevators wall.
“But… but I am a navigator! You have no power over me and my petty ‘mutation’ doesn’t matter…”
“You are right. But I still can burn you, so… I expect full co-operation from you and your crew, captain”, I said.
“Well… this ship needs a captain and I am aware that you have other navigators to get your job done and a senior member of this ship needs to be a captain.”
Kondrad had to think for a while this. I knew it was extremely rare that a navigator was also a ship’s captain.
“I’ll make sure that someone shows you the vault”, Kondrad answered as the elevator stopped on upper deck.
“Il-Hothyn!” I yelled as an Eldar dressed in a slim, black bodyglove walked to me. The pilot was directed to wait in the elevator lounge with unconscious Naomi as I had things to do.
“In the way you see, sire”, the Eldar answered for me and shook hands with me. “I believe you need that Warrant of Trade of Cornelius’s now?”
“Yes, I… need? What do you mean?”
“You’ll see… you’ll see”, Il-Hothyn said mysteriously and pressed us on lower levels of the ship.
“Are you a prophet?” I asked of Il-Hothyn who laughed a bit. “A seer? Something?”
“No… I can not read future from the Sea of Souls nor can I read it from cards or organs of previously living creatures”, glowing blue eyes of his gazed me. “Such a power isn’t granted lightly upon mortal beings and I was not good enough for it.”
“But you are a psyker still… all of the Eldar are, aren’t they?”
“Well… yes. We have mercurial souls”, Il-Hothyn said and looked me again. “If you know what I mean.”
Mercurial souls? I had no idea, but this, Eldar, didn’t need to know it.
“How did you then grant me a vision of yours if you have no powers to see visions?”
Il-Hothyn seemed distressed.
“I… have acquired means to see through Sea of Souls into future and past alike. Actually it was delivered for me by a human.”
“Who?” I shuddered… was it that Undrad again?
“Rogue Trader Undrad Ylysses gave me a doll manufactured by the Dark Kin”, Il-Hothyn said.
Undrad. I knew it, who was this ‘Rogue Trader’ if he even was a rogue trader, seemed to me that he was only a rogue.
“Who is Undrad Ylysses and what is ‘the Dark Kin’, Il-Hothyn?”
The elevator stopped and opened into small round room that was lighted up with two dim, green lamps. A large door with small number pad stood strong in its place. The room had strong psi-shields all over it.
Il-Hothyn stepped in the room and as I came out of the elevator it closed leaving us two in a dark room.
“Undrad Ylysses is… a rogue trader. I can’t tell you things you are not meant to know yet.”
“Yes… yet”, Il-Hothyn said and walked to number pad. “I believe you have acquired knowledge of these codes through the means of the Dark Kin, am I right?”
“It depends”, I answered and stepped in front of him trying to look as tall as I could. “What is this ‘Dark Kin’ you are speaking of?”
“The Dark Kin is… an Eldar faction”, Il-Hothyn started unwillingly like he was talking about a taboo. “They live in the Dark City. It is located in the webway, somewhere, I don’t know where. That box of yours is made by the Dark Kin.”
“My box? That black Eldar-made box is made by an Eldar faction living in the webway?”
Il-Hothyn grasped of my shoulders his blue eyes glowing in the dark and drilling into mine.
“Do not try to look for them, ever, promise me that.”
“Get off!” I commanded firmly and pushed Il-Hothyn away. “I have to find out what that box is.”
“Why do you have to?” the Eldar asked me.
“Because… because I just have to”, I answered. There just was things I needed to know, not for any reason though, I just wanted to know. Nothing more complex, I just wanted to know what that box was and if that Eldar couldn’t understand it… fine by me.
“Try to push random numbers in the number pad”, Il-Hothyn said.
“Because you have devoured the soul of our captain, you should know the numbers by instinct.”
I stepped right next to the number pad and pushed numbers.
Creaking of old gears and hissing of freed hydraulics filled the dark room suddenly as the first blastdoor started to open slowly. Il-Hothyn nodded approvingly and walked to the next door where small number pad glowed with green light.
I walked next to him. It was impossible to know eleven number security code just by instinct. I looked the Eldar as I thought this. If I had devoured souls of the Pontifex Urba, Cardinal and couple of Arbites too, maybe I had obtained their knowledge too. The problem was that I hadn’t acknowledged the knowledge myself. Maybe it came to me by intuition.
Next number pad: “32375551341…”
Again, clangs beneath the vault’s core filled the room. Doors were pulled to the sides but one door still stood behind it. Grey blastdoors stood still like they had done so from the beginning of time. I walked to them, Il-Hothyn following me close, and pressed again numbers pouring of my subconscious into number pad.
Rusty buttons creaked as I pressed them. Eleven numbers again: “20511812138…”
Final doors opened slowly but surely and revealed round room behind them. Old lights turned on as I and Il-Hothyn walked in the room. One clear light pointed straight into the metallic table that stood in the middle of the room. On top of it there was a small booklet filled with old and stylized insignia of Imperium. It was closed with one small clip which opened easily as I raised the booklet off the table.
“Is this Warrant of Trade?” I asked. Frankly speaking I haven’t seen such before and it didn’t say it on the booklet’s cover.
“I have little knowledge for such things as that”, Il-Hothyn answered me.
I opened the booklet. It was extremely intriguing. First three pages were filled with signatures only. Some of them were blurry, messed by age because this booklet sure was old. One signature that I recognized was written by legendary Ecclesiarch Alexis XXII back in M36. It seemed that this Warrant of Trade was granted for a Gündrad family, or house, 380M36. After signatures I found articles written to explain the reasons of granting such an honour for house Gündrad.
Cornelius’s greater-grand-grandfather or something had been the Speaker for Chartist Captains in 380M36. It all was written clearly in the first paragraphs. Man… house Gündrad was maybe a bit more influent than it seemed to be. Every single time the former owner of this Warrant of Trade had died the next Gündrad had travelled on Holy Terra and obtained signatures of the High Lords of Terra.
“Fascinating…” I whispered enthusiastic. This was brilliant… no, magnificent piece of history and authority. No wonder Cornelius had managed to get me out of that prison so fast. No wonder at all…
“I think we need to go”, Il-Hothyn said to me. I just wanted to scrutinise the Warrant of Trade but maybe he was right. “Now, before…”
A crash. Il-Hothyn and I lost our balances and fell to the ground. Something was wrong with the gravitation devices or then…
I opened my data-slate and pressed it to search Kondrad’s frequency.
“What is happening?” I shouted to Il-Hothyn who tried to rise up from the ground. The ship was trembling and loud noice of breaking metal echoed from the core of the ship.
“The Gate to the Sea of Souls is open and it is not Elenna’s destiny to survive from it”, the Eldar said.
“The warp gate is sucking us in you fool! This ship is soon as good as piece of scrap metal!” Il-Hothyn shouted angrily and stood up ignoring the trembling ship. Wires were sprung beneath the floor. I could hear screeking and creaking as the ship started to splinter slowly.
“Raise the… …dls
! N… ti..!” my vox crackled.
“Kondrad! Kondrad, what is going on?”
No reply. Il-Hothyn looked me judgingly but came to me and helped me up from the floor.
“Lock-systems of these blastdoors are going to break, we have to get out of here or we’ll get trapped here forever!” the Eldar seemed strangely calm. I knew that Eldar feared the warp because of the Slaanesh, creation of their psyche but still, Il-Hothyn was calm.
“Can’t you feel the warp taint?” I asked but Il-Hothyn just shook his head.
“No need to worry, I’ll get you out of here, just follow me!”
I put the Warrant of Trade in my pocket and followed the Eldar through open blastdoors to the elevator’s door. First blastdoor closed violently behind us and rusty gears broke the vault’s walls. Immediate sound filled my head. I could sense as the whole ship was getting apart, the cracking started from the rear and continued straight through the ship all the way to the cock. Steel wires and girders left immaculate noice as they bursted apart. Gravity engines turned of and we started to flow.
“Hurry!” Il-Hothyn shouted and pushed the elevator to open. Doors still had power to open half way and the Eldar pulled himself in the elevator. He grabbed my hand and pulled me in the elevator too.
“This whole ship is breaking! We are doomed!”
“No…” Il-Hothyn said and pressed elevator’s buttons. This was the same elevator I had been before, strange bone-material buttons glowed as Il-Hothyn pressed them. “Hold my hand, now!”
The elevator started to glow. The wooden panels faded away and bright, clear white light filled the elevator. I could feel strong psychic force flowing through me and Il-Hothyn and strange feeling that my cells were moving.
My fingers started to splinter into small fragments that disappeared from my vision. My heart stopped pounding and broke out of my chest with ribs as my skin stretched and broke apart into bright light. I became one with the light and Il-Hothyn who felt calm.
Sounds of breaking ship faded away and I and Il-Hothyn separated from this world. Our cells were moving through strange grey-blue corridors of time and place. Visions of worlds beyond my understanding flashed by as we moved through those corridors.
I could see light in front of me.
Great door stood right in front of me and Il-Hothyn. It was closed but light shined from the edges of the door to us. Il-Hothyn held my hand gently and led us to the door. He pressed his hand against the mysterious door and pushed it open. Bright light filled us again and I felt that we moved with great speed in some kind of room. It was made from that bone-like material that radiated with eternal psychic energy.
My body became whole again, organs took their places and I was Tearlach again, not a light-beam like a second ago.
We stepped out of the room, Il-Hothyn first.
XIV +The Kin Gift+
Light faded away from two tall bone-spires behind us. We were in a room full of slim people wearing dark-blue plated body armours and strange guns with half-moon shaped barrels. Every one of them were wearing tall white helmet with strange black patterns and high black and yellow crests. Their faces were covered by the helmet and only thing visible of life inside of those armoured shapes were glowing red eyes.
Right in the middle of these warriors stood a man, or a woman, I couldn’t tell, dressed in brown robe with orange pattern. His head was covered with an orange helmet that had no crest but was infused with glowing gems. With the left hand he held a long spear, similar to Il-Hothyn’s spear.
Il-Hothyn walked to this robed man and fell in his knees bowing deep. My translator device that replaced my real inner-ear cracked a bit as it tuned in the Eldar language. It was basically harsh translator as the Eldar language was very difficult indeed to translate to Low Gothic. Anyway, now it seemed to work properly as the robed man started to speak with soft voice, like singing.
“I see an outcast within us, I assume that you have brought to us our doom”, he said.
“I have done as I am meant to do after all… I have been granted with freedom of this world and so will I follow the plan set for me”, Il-Hothyn replied to this mysterious robed man who looked to the silently standing warriors.
“This is certainly no day of happiness. Rise, Il-Hothyn, let us hear your… friend?”
Il-Hothyn stood up and walked to me. He grabbed of my hand and pulled me in front of this robed man.
My translator crackled again as the man started to speak with Low Gothic.
“I welcome you, my doom. Should I embrace you? No. But I shall welcome you to me as a marked man should welcome his end.”
I didn’t know what to say. The warriors moved a bit as the robed man started to speak Low Gothic, it apparently made them uneasy.
“I am… your doom?” I finally asked as the awkward silence continued.
“Oh yes, my inquisitor. Would you like to walk a little?” the robed man asked casually and waved for the warriors some kind of hand-signals.
The robed man, apparently Eldar, didn’t touch me but put his hand behind me so I could feel his psyche pushing me forward. The warriors were left with Il-Hothyn in the room as I walked with robed man through round doors into round-shaped corridor that gave view to the space.
I felt how Il-Hothyn’s psyche died in the previous room. The warriors killed him.
“I am not certain what is going to happen though this… friend… of ours, Il-Hothyn, had taught me many things in past five years.”
“I thought that Il-Hothyn had served rogue trader Cornelius for many years?” I asked of the robed man, like he would know.
“Il-Hothyn is a liar. It is not his sin, for it was necessary, Il-Hothyn’s life isn’t that simple”, the robed man answered me, calmly, and turned to me. “I believe you have a mystery in your back bag, am I right?”
The box was still in my back bag which I got with me. Though I had lost lots of things, my precious back bag was still with me; I reached for the box and showed it to the robed man.
“You mean this? I have tried to open it or even study it, but I just can’t figure out what it is for.”
The robed man took the box of my hand and raised it in front of him. His eyes glowed in blue, not in red like the warriors’; it reminded me of Il-Hothyn.
“A Kin Gift.”
“This is a Kin Gift, I assume that you want this open too but I have to say, I’m not amused to do so”, the robed man said to me heavily and turned his head to me again. “I am aware that you are or you will be in contact with the Dark Kin in our… future.”
“Il-Hothyn told me something about this ‘Dark Kin’ of yours but I haven’t heard from them before”, I answered.
“Yes… we do not speak of them lightly because we have no reason to speak of them. Do you know why we are here?”
“Here? In this ship you mean?”
The robed man turned away and started to walk again. He held the ‘Kin Gift’, my black box, in his left hand.
“Here, in this time and place, do you know why?”
“I don’t actually even know where we are.”
“We are in a place you humans call ‘Dust Region’, near the system of Ferghost, if you know the place. We are here because the fate has designed us here and we are not the ones to judge the ultimate plan.”
I was pretty sure that this robed man was a warlock. An Eldar psyker, manifesting huge powers compared to human psykers; probably between classes of Epsilon and Delta, not as powerful as I was though.
“Could you tell me about this ultimate plan?” I asked cautiously.
“Humans… how could you understand how time flows and destiny guides us? It guided me, to this moment”, the warlock said and pointed through the window to a purple light in space close to the ship. “Here we are, in the edge of time and being, how could you understand it?”
He leaned towards me and raised the ‘Kin Gift’ between our faces. “By using this, you’ll see the very power of the ultimate plan and how insidiously wicked it can be, guiding me, the warlock Ungaren Il-Parat’hothyn Igriveos of Irodhryn Craftworld to the hands of an inquisitor of Imperium of Man. My, an Eldar’s, fate in the hands of a petty human. This is what I know of Il-Hothyn, this is what he told to me.”
The warlock’s voice became fierce and angry as he said these things to me. I could see as glowing blue eyes burned into my soul and made the Eldar startle.
“A tainted one? You have been touched by the One Who Thirsts, haven’t you?”
“I… don’t know, what is this; One Who Thirsts”, I asked and backed away of the warlock.
“We may not speak the name of the beast!” he shouted to me but calmed then. “We need to go now, our fate is waiting us.”
The warlock turned on his heels and walked back to the room where we had come. Il-Hothyn’s lifeless body lied in the middle of it and all of the warriors were gone. The warlock, Ungaren, walked to the body and pulled a small gem stone off his suit’s chest.
“This… this is my soul. How delightful to know that I am the one to command executing of myself”, he turned to me holding the gemstone. “Isn’t it?”
“Yourself…” I started but couldn’t end the sentence. The warlock gave the gemstone for me and I could feel Il-Hothyn’s soul within it. Before I got a chance to ask what this gem was, the warlock pulled his helmet off and dropped it on the floor.
The warlock, Ungaren Il-Parat’hothyn Igriveos, looked exactly the same as Il-Hothyn.
“Are you…” I started again but the warlock stopped me.
“Yes, I am this man”, he said and looked Il-Hothyn’s body. “And my soul shall be in that gemstone as long as you keep it safe.”
I watched the dark gem in my hand that glittered with blue colour.
“I don’t get this…”
“You don’t need to get it now. You can call me Il-Hothyn, if you wish. The Dark Kin is approaching and we need to get going”, this new Il-Hothyn said to me and started to make psychic contacts with some other Eldar on this ship. I couldn’t hear what he spoke but I sensed that he had psychical connection on.
After a while he looked at me again and said: “We are about to enter the webway as are the ships of Dark Kin.”
We walked to the windows again and saw as slim star-ships plunged out of the purple coloured portal to us. The ship we were aboard was manoeuvring heavily and headed towards the purple light.
“That portal leads to the Dark City as I have for long suspected”, the warlock Il-Hothyn said. “But it can also lead us to past with a small distraction and there is the point where we need this… Kin Gift you brought with us.”
“You are saying that I have carried that box all these years just so we could enter to the past?”
“Such is the way of the Ultimate Plan”, warlock answered and looked through the window as we went past of the dark ships. “Now, welcome to webway.”
The ship was plunged into some portal right in the middle of that purple light. The dark ships turned rapidly and moved just behind us. They seemed very hostile.
Sudden flash of light followed as the ship moved through portal. Suddenly we were in grey corridor-like place, like the one I had came with Il-Hothyn on this ship in a first place. I was amazed.
“Is this… the webway? Did we move through the webway with Il-Hothyn in here?” I asked of warlock who nodded.
“Yes, webway is strange dimension between reality and the Sea of Souls”, he turned to me. “Or the ‘Warp’ as you call it. But it is only a small fragment of its former glory when the Eldar first mastered it. There are none anymore to keep it in shape and more and more it splinters into pieces as time goes by. No longer are the Eldar able to go where they wish, only through portals like the one we came through.”
The warlock sighed heavily.
Dark ships came closer to the ship we were aboard and started to fire this one.
“I think… now is time for the Kin Gift. Yes… now is the time”, warlock sighed almost desperately and raised the black box in front of us. “You know, you weren’t able to open this, because it can only be opened by an Eldar, like me for example. And don’t worry, you’ll survive of this, I am almost certain that you survive… as do I.”
The warlock pressed one of the symbols on the side of the box and a small, fragile ‘clik’ was left of it.
Strong and frightful psychic being rushed out of the box’s core and filled the room immediately. It screamed with agony of thousand tortured men and broke my psyche totally. The warlock fell to his knees as a spiritual being circled the room and shared its psychic pain with our minds. It was horror in its purest form, no such an agony or terror could be ever felt.
The unreleased spirit flew through my chest and chilled my bones and heart alike. Its presence was undeniable and immediate. As suddenly as it had appeared, it disappeared somewhere in the open corridors and made the ship shiver. This star-ship trembled like in fear itself too and the pilots lost their control over the ship. The unrelenting force of spiritual being from the box drove the ship against the walls of the webway.
Unlike I suspected, the ship didn’t break up in parts. The walls of the webway smashed apart and splintered into maw of warp. Raging sea of warp sucked the ship in itself and bursted into the webway taking those dark ships with us.
It all felt like just a couple of seconds as the ship roamed through the waves of the warp. Raging sea of blood and ichor washed the ship as it tried to stay on surface. One massive wave caught us still and pressed us beneath the waves of the warp.
And suddenly, it was all gone. We bursted out from the warp all together right in the middle of Imperial Navy fleet. Three lightly armed and armoured Eldar vessels next to the massive Overlord class battlecruiser seemed like toys to me. The only unfortunate thing was that I was in one of those toys.
In the front panel of the battlecruiser was written in Gothic letters the name of the ship; ‘Magnus Victor’. I had been on that ship once…
Five years ago.