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Made in ca
Sybarite Swinging an Agonizer



Ottawa

.

Imperfection


In the privacy of his chambers, Kais Anzirash scowled at his own reflection.

For the better part of an hour now, his fingers compulsively stroked the fresh scar that ran over his right cheek, courtesy of a genestealer. Were the wretched creature a sentient being, capable of suffering and despair, Anzirash would have introduced it to the most exquisite torments at his disposal. Instead he had dispatched it with his pistol, but of course the scar remained. It ran deep. Its pain did not bother him—it was pleasant, even; made him feel alive. But his formerly perfect face was now… asymmetrical.

This was unacceptable.

Especially for a sybarite of the Obsidian Rose, for whom perfection was paramount.

Of course, the scar would go away the next time he got himself regenerated by the Haemonculi. But the process of growing a new body would take months, and for now his plans did not allow him to remove himself from Commorrite society for so long. Too many things to do, schemes to hatch and rivals to assassinate. This would have to wait.

The only thing Anzirash could do, for now, was make himself symmetrical again.

Bracing himself for yet more exquisite pain, he drew his curved knife, and gently pressed its tip against his left cheek.


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Huntress


To Eskhena, the Scourges’ very existence was an affront.

Sneering, vainglorious princelings, the lot of them. Not content with their immense and often unearned wealth, they had decided that touching the ground was beneath their dignity, and paid a fortune to the Haemonculi to graft wings onto them. Now they spent their days preening like birds in the blood-red skies of Commorragh and throwing their refuse down at the lowly, earthbound Drukhari beneath them.

Eskhena was still young, not yet a grown woman by the standards of her race, but she surely knew more about the real world than those high-flying fools. An unapologetic street rat, she knew how to scrape by among the dregs of the Dark City. She knew how to give a beating and how to take one. She knew how to grovel in front of those who could help her, and how to slit their throats once they no longer served any purpose. She knew how to swallow her dignity if it meant she got to live another day. She knew how to move like a shadow. She knew how to steal.

Why, just yesterday, she had stolen a dark lance from a very well-guarded workshop.

The jet-black weapon was sleek and beautiful, and as long as Eskhena was tall. Though cumbersome to carry, it was incredibly light. Eskhena had tested it on some distant slaves this morning and marveled at its pinpoint accuracy even in the hands of an inexperienced user.

Now, perched on a perilously narrow ledge on a high spire, she lifted the muzzle of her gun at a flock of Scourges. She picked her target—the one whose flying style struck her as the most flamboyant.

The heart? The head? The wing? she wondered, her finger wrapping around the trigger. The wing, she decided at last. I want to hear him scream all the way down.

She pressed the trigger.

The beam of darklight struck the Scourge at the base of his leathery wing, burning it clean off. The Scourge’s remaining wing beat frantically but could not stop his fall. His desperate cries as he plummeted were like music to Eskhena. His flockmates had ample time to catch him; for reasons known only to them, they chose not to. The unfortunate one-winged Scourge crashed very far below, so far that even Eskhena’s keen ears could not hear the splat.

The other Scourges now circled above Eskhena’s vantage point, looking for the murderess before her weapon claimed another victim. But they would not find her. She had already blended into the familiar shadows, clutching her dark lance. She knew every elevator shaft or airduct that would lead her to street level, and every sewer into which she could disappear and lay low for the rest of the day.

Tomorrow she would clip another bird's wings.


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Hostage


The agreed-upon meeting point for the exchange was a small, lifeless asteroid near the edge of the Cicatrix Maledictum, where Imperial ships did not patrol. Archon Kerresys Sulai had already set up his “camp”, an elaborate tent-like building with airlocks and several lavishly-furnished rooms. He had come with his retinue; a cadre of loyal Kabal of the Black Heart retainers, along with some Sslyth bodyguards, a couple of mistresses, and Hakaresh the Haemonculus.

True to the terms imposed by Sulai last month, Lord Governor Aldus Krause came in a small, unarmed ship and stepped out with only two bodyguards. As he entered the room, his face looked drawn and tired, and there was a haunted look in his eyes. Not surprising, given the heinous act he had to commit in order to secure this parlay.

“Lord Krause,” said Sulai in impeccable High Gothic. “Your punctuality is admirable.”

“Please, my lord, spare me the pleasantries,” said Krause, almost plaintively. “I have done what you asked me to do. I trust you received my… tribute?”

“I have indeed received your tribute of ten thousand slaves,” said Sulai, delighting in Krause’s wince. “As you promised, they were all young and able-bodied, and their ship’s weapons were disabled. I almost expected a trap. It is so rare for me to deal with trustworthy people.” He tilted his head to one side. “Tell me, how did you convince them to embark on that ship?”

Krause’s look of horror deepened. “I told them it was an Imperial Guard draft. That they were about to fight for the Emperor’s glory.”

“Ah, that would explain the uniforms,” smirked Sulai. “But do not burden yourself with guilt, my friend. Serving their betters in Commorragh is the most glorious fate they could have prayed for. More rewarding, certainly, than the hopeless defense of your dying empire. In time, I am sure they will understand.”

Krause was silent for a moment, his head bowed. “Where is my daughter?” he asked at last. “Where is Aliza?”

Sulai raised a finger. “Yes! Of course! You lived up to your end of the bargain… and so will I.”

He clapped his hands. On cue, a young, raven-haired woman walked into the room from behind a curtain. Her step was hesitant and her eyes flitted about fearfully, but she looked unharmed, if a bit on the thin side. Sulai had clad her in a simple, elegant white dress and adorned her with jewels. The sight of her made Krause’s eyes well up with tears.

“I feared—I feared I’d never see you again, Aliza,” he choked out.

“Father.” The young woman ran into Krause’s arms and embraced him tightly. “Thank you. Thank you for securing my release. How's Mother?”

The pathetic display of mon-keigh effusiveness went on for a few minutes, until Sulai let his guests know in no uncertain terms that they should be on their way home. The humans departed and boarded their ship, leaving the Archon alone with his retinue.

Sulai turned to Hakaresh the Haemonculus. “Your fleshcraft on my agent was a resounding success,” he complimented him. “It must take a lot to fool a father.”

“Not that much,” sneered Hakaresh. “Humans are easy to deceive. They believe what they want to believe. And he wants to believe he has his daughter back.” He paused. “Of course, we need to strike quickly before the imposture comes to light. Aliza’s interrogation was thorough, but we may have missed a few details about her tastes or lived experiences. The longer we take…”

“Oh, my agent does not need that much time,” said Sulai confidently. “She will have Krause’s world ready to fall like an overripe fruit within mere days of her ‘safe return’. I will ready my fleet right away. There are a lot more slaves where those first ten thousand and one came from.”



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Author's note: Thank you for reading. I plan to add short stories over time, each under 1,000 words. This is an evergreen thread.


.

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2019/07/30 13:47:54


Cadians, Drukhari

Read my Drukhari short stories: Chronicles of Commorragh 
   
Made in nz
Annoyed Blood Angel Devastator






I really enjoyed these. Most particularly the last one, even though I saw the twist coming I liked it and feel you could expand on that story quite a lot. What does she do? You could make Isadora an interesting character, indeed. (Her name and appearance wouldn't be based off Isadora from Fire Emblem 7?)
Anyway, subbed, interested. I really enjoyed Andy Chamber's Path of the Dark Eldar trilogy, it had an appealing dark sense of humour running through it!

"The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.

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

The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir.

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

 
   
Made in ca
Sybarite Swinging an Agonizer



Ottawa

 Adrassil wrote:
You could make Isadora an interesting character, indeed. (Her name and appearance wouldn't be based off Isadora from Fire Emblem 7?)!

No, I don't play Fire Emblem. Maybe I'll change the name, if it's something so rare that people associate it with one specific character.

Anyway thanks for the feedback.

Cadians, Drukhari

Read my Drukhari short stories: Chronicles of Commorragh 
   
Made in de
Gangly Grot Rebel




Nickin' 'ur stuff

Nice read! I enjoyed all of them.

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like soup. Now you put soup in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put soup into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now soup can flow or it can crash. Be soup, my friend. 
   
Made in nz
Annoyed Blood Angel Devastator






-Guardsman- wrote:
 Adrassil wrote:
You could make Isadora an interesting character, indeed. (Her name and appearance wouldn't be based off Isadora from Fire Emblem 7?)!

No, I don't play Fire Emblem. Maybe I'll change the name, if it's something so rare that people associate it with one specific character.

Anyway thanks for the feedback.


Nyeh! No need to change on the account of that! But one thing I must ask, do meat puppets dream of meat puppet sheep? lol

"The best way to lie is to tell the truth." Attelus Kaltos.

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

The Angaran Chronicles: Hamar Noir.

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

 
   
Made in ie
Norn Queen






Dublin, Ireland

Very nicely done, I enjoyed all of these especially the one about sniping the scourges.

Dman137 wrote:
goobs is all you guys will ever be

By 1-irt: Still as long as Hissy keeps showing up this is one of the most entertaining threads ever.

"Feelin' goods, good enough". 
   
Made in ca
Sybarite Swinging an Agonizer



Ottawa

Took me almost a month, but here are two new short stories. Got a bit carried over with the second one and exceeded my self-imposed 1,000-word limit.



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Paid In Full -- 700 words


Naphrez awoke.

It took the archon a moment to regain his bearings. The first thing he noticed was that he was strapped from his wrists and ankles to a nearly vertical slab of metal. His surroundings were dark, and felt hot as a furnace in spite of his nakedness. His skin felt very tender and sensitive, as if he had only just been born.

Which I have, he realized with a start of remembrance. I have only just been born. Or rather, reborn.

The memories flooded his mind now. The fierce, merciless battle against the Orks. In his moment of victory, a greenskin that he had left for dead had managed to crawl up behind him and strike him down in one blow. An embarrassing death for any Drukhari, to be sure. But one that had now been undone. He was alive, and he was ready to take back the reins of his kabal.

“Mistress Desthera,” he called into the darkness, his parched throat only managing a faint croak. “I am awake. I will now pay you and be on my way.”

A stark white light filled the room, and Naphrez shut his eyes with a curse. By the time his gaze adjusted, he was face to face with the Haemonculus whose services he had retained, centuries ago, in case he died on a raid or from an assassin’s blade. Like all of her kind, Desthera was repulsive; ancient and withered, with leathery skin and skull-like features and entirely too many arms. She smiled slowly, exposing jagged metal teeth.

“You will pay me, you say,” she wheezed. “But I am already paid. In full.”

Naphrez blinked. “I don’t understand. Who—who paid you?”

“You did.” Her smile widened. “Well… your clone did. Just yesterday, before leaving. Of course, since you and he share the same memories, the same flesh, and a soul remade from the same shards, it is debatable whether he is truly a different person.”

“My—my clone!” An edge of panic crept into Naphrez’s voice. “I hired you to make me one living clone from my dead body! I never asked for two!”

Desthera cackled. “Oh, no. You did not ask. I granted myself this right many years ago, in our soul-contract. Which you read in full before signing… did you not?”

Naphrez thrashed furiously in his restraints. “You’d better start giving me straight answers! Why did you make two of me? Where is the other? Why will you not free me already?”

The Haemonculus abruptly stopped smiling. “Your clone has returned to rule his kabal—your kabal,” she explained in a low tone that gave the archon a chill down his spine. “You, I will keep. For my experiments. And for revenge, for disrespecting me.”

“Disrespecting you! I have always treated you with the utmost—”

“Disrespecting me,” Desthera cut him off. “Not with words, no. You did it by wrinkling your nose at my smell, averting your gaze from my face like it was hideous to you, avoiding the touch of my fingers when I handed you the quill to sign your name.”

“You cannot be serious!” sputtered Naphrez, his mixture of rage and utter panic boiling over. “You want revenge over some imagined insult? You know nothing of revenge! Release me at once, or the tale of my kabal’s retaliation will make all of Commorragh tremble!”

Desthera cackled again. “Your kabal! Your kabal knows nothing of your existence, Lord Naphrez.” There was a sardonic inflection to that now-empty title. “And if the other you were to learn of it… would he try to rescue his clone? Would he feel any brotherly attachment to another him, one both able and willing to usurp his throne? What would you do in his place?”

Naphrez did not have to think too hard about it. No, of course not, the other him would not save him; the free Naphrez would even sleep easier if he knew that the captive Naphrez would never leave these cells alive.

“I will—I will pay you a fortune to release me—” he began, his voice now pleading.

The Haemonculus shrugged. “Whose fortune? What fortune do you lay claim to? You have only one thing left to your name, prisoner. One thing to offer me, as payment for your disrespect.”

A long flensing knife shone in Desthera’s lower right hand.

“Your flesh.”


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Hellion Diplomacy -- 1,200 words


It took Nirsieve the better part of a day to find the Blood Talons’ hideout, such as it was; a vast but dilapidated warehouse near a minor spaceport in Low Commorragh. Only outcasts and madmen and cripples would have cause to live in such a place, and yet the notorious hellion gang held court in it as if it were a grand palace. Bodies wrapped in razorwire hung like tapestries, and a lush carpet made from the skins of many creatures spread before Nirsieve’s feet. The fifty or so skyboard riders themselves, much like nobles at an archon’s court, wore very flashy clothes and sported exotic body modifications. There was even a throne; just a rickety chair, but mounted on a high structure made from the bones, weapons and wrecked skyboards of enemy gangs. On the throne slouched the local ruler; from the look of him, just some thug with more ambition than brains.

All eyes turned on Nirsieve as the young wych hekatrix made her entrance. The Blood Talons were known to deal mercilessly with trespassers, but something about the newcomer’s sheer brazenness must have given them pause. She managed to walk about half the distance to the throne by the time the gang leader’s enforcers snapped out of their indecision and moved to block her way with their two-handed hellglaives.

Nirsieve stopped in her tracks and held up her empty palms in a gesture of peace. She could see the gang leader more closely now, trying a little too hard to look blasé about the shockingly bold intrusion. He was pallid, all lean muscle, and on the young side—roughly the same age as Nirsieve, give or take fifty years. His scalp was shaven and he bore crisscrossing facial scars that looked very much self-inflicted.

The gang leader steepled his fingers somewhat overdramatically. “You stand before Rahak. And you would be…?”

“Hekatrix Nirsieve, from the Cult of the Red Grief.” The young wych bowed gracefully. “My succubus, Lady Zayestra, wishes to hire out the Blood Talons for a raid in realspace. There will be many slaves and spoils to be had.”

The silence among the hellions seemed to thicken, somehow. Now the gang leader was looking at her with some intensity. “Ah. Mercenary job. It’s been a while since we accepted one of those.” His eyes narrowed. “Your Lady Zayestra. Why would she send some underling like you? Why not come herself?”

Nirsieve almost winced. From the start, Zayestra had known that an offer to the infamously volatile Blood Talons was unlikely to succeed. And so she had sent her most junior, most expendable hekatrix to do the job of recruiting them. Very little chance of success—but very little to lose, too. Of course, Nirsieve could not reveal her succubus’ doubts to the hellions. She had to present the raid as an opportunity for untold rewards.

“It’s not just about the wealth,” said the wych quickly, hoping to salvage the negotiations. “Think also of your reputation, when your feats of battle are retold. Enemy gangs will slink away in fear at the name of the Blood Talons. The best and brightest will want to join you. Favors will be bestowed upon you by all who want to bask in your illustrious presence.”

Rahak laughed uproariously. “Fancy words you have! I’m but a humble sky rider, you see. You don’t need to get all flowery on me. Just tell me my bed will never be a lonely place, and I get the gist of it.” He seemed to consider the offer for a moment. At last he said, flatly: “No. I don’t think so.”

Nirsieve’s heart skipped a beat. “You… don’t think so?” This would mean her death. Either at the hellions’ hands, or at Lady Zayestra’s.

“Not worth it. There’s a reason why we stopped doing raids. They take us away from our turf for too long. When we return, other gangs have moved in and we have to clear ourselves a new turf. Months lost; bad for business. Raids just don’t pay enough to make up for it.”

Murmurs of assent rippled through the hellions, though to Nirsieve they sounded a bit half-hearted. Were there some hellions nostalgic about the old days when they still raided in realspace? And then the realization struck her, clear as blood upon arena bone-sand. Rahak was a coward. His explanation about having to defend his turf was nothing but an excuse. The truth was that he had grown comfortable in his position as gang leader, and avoided any high-stakes ventures that might jeopardize it. He was a big fish in a small pond, and it suited him just fine.

“The other gangs move in, you said,” drawled Nirsieve. “You must be a weak leader, then.”

Rahak stiffened in his makeshift throne. “Come again?”

The wych glared at him defiantly. “You must be weak. Because clearly they don’t fear you enough to leave your turf alone. If you were strong, if you had guts, they’d fear you even when you’re not there.” She pointed at Rahak’s ornate skyboard, resting against the side of the throne. “This machine? You’re not worthy of riding it. I think it should belong to me.”

Her taunt hung in the air, taking away the breath of all hellions present. This was no less than a leadership challenge, which could only be resolved by a fight to the death. And it did not come from a veteran gang member, as one might expect, but from an outsider. Rahak might hate taking risks, but he could not turn down the challenge; it would only confirm his alleged weakness and undermine his leadership in the long run. He had to make an example of her.

“I will give you one last chance to turn away and never show your face again,” hissed Rahak.

You would much prefer that to a fight, wouldn’t you? thought Nirsieve. “You,” she said aloud, “are unfit to ride this skyboard, and unfit to lead this gang. So I will take both from you… unless you would rather just hand them over, like the coward you are.”

That did it. Rahak rose from his seat, eyes blazing with fury. With a practiced and somewhat show-off kick, he flipped his skyboard into a hovering position at knee height and stepped onto the thrumming machine. One of his enforcers handed him his hellglaive; a large halberd with a blade on each tip that looked like it could lop an Ork’s head clean off.

Nirsieve had no skyboard, and her only weapons were an unreasonable number of knives. As the hellions cleared an open space between the two duelists, the challenger realized she was more exhilarated than afraid. She had nothing to lose. If she died, she died. If she lived—she would present her cult with half a hundred hellions at her beck and call. She would no longer be the junior hekatrix who did all the unpleasant work, but someone worthy of respect.

Nirsieve put on her most dauntless expression, planted her feet, and waited for the gang leader to make the first move.



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That's all for today. I hope to add new stories over time.



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This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2019/08/24 05:09:50


Cadians, Drukhari

Read my Drukhari short stories: Chronicles of Commorragh 
   
Made in ca
Sybarite Swinging an Agonizer



Ottawa

.

A Worthy Son -- 300 words


“Ah, don’t look so shocked to see my face again, mother. You birthed me and raised me, and though you may resent me for not being the daughter you wanted, you should have known that I shared your stubbornness and ambition.

Little did you expect a male to win your great jetbike race, and yet I have done so. I won fair and square, without giving you the chance to sabotage me. From your dais, you saw the Blue Blur defeat many contestants who you would have been proud to call daughters, had they been of your blood. You may even have thought to yourself: ‘Ah, if only my unworthy son had been more like this mysterious racer!’

When I was a child, you were always setting me up to fail. You wanted to prove to yourself that your beliefs were true; that boys were weak and lacked the ability to achieve any position of importance in a wych cult. Yet, to your growing annoyance, I passed most of your impossible challenges. All but the last one. When you finally had your excuse, you cast me out of your cult. You thought you had seen the last of me.

Today I have returned. Not in supplication, but in triumph.

I do not come looking for a mother. I do not come asking for your love, or even your apologies. I come only to claim the prize you promised the victor of this race—a place among the jetfighter pilots of the Cult of the Scorpion’s Sting.

If you would rather not acknowledge me as your son, surely I could live with that, so long as I am treated fairly.”


— Darzem Kaise, also known as ‘the Blue Blur’, jetbike racer.


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This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/09/09 00:08:39


Cadians, Drukhari

Read my Drukhari short stories: Chronicles of Commorragh 
   
Made in ca
Sybarite Swinging an Agonizer



Ottawa

.

Neither God, Nor Saint, Nor Daemon -- 500 words


Sister Abigail had long lost track of time since her capture. Counting the meals was pointless; they were served at irregular intervals, as if to mess with her mind. Since she could not know when was the time for the morning prayer or evening prayer, she simply spent every waking hour praying. Emperor knew there was little else to do in this dark cell.

No sound of footsteps heralded the visitor’s arrival; the door just opened, making Abigail jump. It was her again. Zureth. The accursed Drukhari woman who had brought Abigail the severed heads of her squad mates, one by one, and spent countless hours trying to break her faith in increasingly cruel ways. Like all of the other Desecrators—they who called themselves the Cult of the Pain Eternal, and whose unholy mission seemed to be the destruction of religion wherever it was found—Zureth was dressed in form-fitting clothes and moved with feline grace. Her lustrous blue-black hair was decorated with the relic bones of Saint Beatriz the Banisher, looted from the cathedral that Abigail’s holy order had failed to defend. From the fiend’s hip hung a barbed whip, whose mere sight was enough by now to make Abigail clench her teeth in anticipated pain.

“Good morning, my young student,” purred the woman with the whip in impeccable Low Gothic. “Have you meditated upon my teachings?”

Abigail glared. If her chains were just a bit longer... “Your teachings. All you have taught me is that your race is truly doomed.”

Zureth clicked her tongue condescendingly. “Your sisters were much wiser than you are. All four of them learned their lesson, in the arena, right before I slew them—the gods are a cruel lie. You know, I can always tell the exact moment when a person’s faith deserts them; the moment they realize neither god, nor saint, nor daemon will save them. Something in their eyes just dies.” Her lips twisted into an ugly smirk. “And then they die too. But not a second before, no. I never to take a prisoner’s life before I take their faith.”

“I don’t believe you,” said Abigail, trying to sound more confident than she felt. “I know my sisters, and I know they kept their faith until their last breath. And it frustrates you to no end. So you lie to me, and you hope my faith is weaker than theirs simply because I’m the youngest. You’ll be disappointed.”

Zureth’s hand flew to the handle of her whip, making Abigail flinch. The Drukhari chuckled and removed her fingers from the weapon. “Oh, I will not damage you today, my student. We will meet in the arena tomorrow, and I want you to give me a good fight—like your sisters did. But in the end? I will see your misplaced faith go out like a candle before all is said and done.” She turned to leave. “You will die without salvation.”

“No,” Abigail called after her. “You will.”

Zureth walked out of the cell and closed the door behind her, her derisive laughter echoing down the hall. Alone again, Sister Abigail returned to her prayers, though now with a fervor that smacked of desperation.



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The Aspirant -- 500 words


One of the greatest perks of being a sybarite, as far as Kelazar of the Poisoned Tongue was concerned, it was to see which one of the aspirant kabalites was most eager to please him. Of all the Halfborn youths dreaming of joining a kabal, only one out of four or five would ever succeed, and so any well-established warrior with a modicum of power could surround himself with errand boys, bedmates and other young lickspittles. Kelazar found it endlessly amusing to watch them trip over themselves trying to curry his favor. They were smarter than slaves, and a lot more satisfying to order around.

As always when on a realspace expedition, the sybarite had allowed a trio of aspirants to board the ship and wait on him hand and foot. When came the call to prepare for the raid, Vizri had already sharpened Kelazar’s many blades, Serresque had polished his boots and helmet to a fine sheen, and Ryzell had scrubbed the dried blood from his armor.

“Aaah, good work,” said Kelazar, sheathing his sword. He was not lavish with compliments but the occasional word of encouragement worked wonders to foster loyalty. “If I lose any warriors today, I may promote one of you to my squad.”

His servants perked up with interest, and he smirked at the power of this noncommittal remark.

“Ryzell! Help me put on my armor.”

“Right away, sir.”

With the young aspirant’s help, both halves of Kelazar’s cuirass snapped together. The sybarite exhaled with both pain and pleasure as the barbs and spines that lined the inside of his armor pierced his pallid skin and set his nerves on fire. Putting on a kabalite armor was so exquisitely invigorating. Every movement became an explosion of sensation. He felt… alive.

Kelazar was on his way to the pre-raid muster when his vision began to swim and he almost stumbled. He shut his eyes briefly; when he opened them again, he realized with some dismay that he had collapsed on the floor. Try as he might, he could not get up. It was as if his bones had turned to water. He became aware of a presence beside him.

It was Ryzell.

“Pit gargoyle venom,” said the youth quietly. “I smeared it on the barbs in your armor.”

Kelazar blinked. “W—why?” he managed to croak.

“When your squad returns from the raid, I will meet the most senior survivor,” said the aspirant. “I will tell him what I did, and I will tell him that he is now sybarite thanks to me. And he will promote me to his squad, without all your if’s and but’s and maybe’s.” He paused, then bared his teeth. “Also, I hate you, and your sneers, and your endless demands. That’s another reason.”

Perhaps it was the poison making him lightheaded, but Kelazar could not help but laugh; a raspy, half hysterical laugh that ended in a bloody cough. He will fit right in, he thought before darkness claimed him.


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This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2019/09/20 01:22:17


Cadians, Drukhari

Read my Drukhari short stories: Chronicles of Commorragh 
   
Made in ca
Sybarite Swinging an Agonizer



Ottawa

.

Shadows -- 700 words



Nissrith always knew when he was being watched. It was like a tickling at the edge of his mind. He was not sure whether his ability was supernatural or stemmed from a variety of subconscious observations, but it had saved his life on many occasions. As one of the deadliest hired killers in the gang warfare-ridden streets of Low Commorragh, he had his fair share of enemies.

This time, when the strange feeling came, it was subtler than usual, but very persistent. Nissrith felt watched in the streets, in bed, during contracts, in the pleasure houses where he spent most earnings from said contracts, and even when he was relieving himself. He sprinkled bone dust around the slum he called home, hoping that any intruder would disturb it and give physical proof of their passage, but it was in vain. He laid traps, but none of them triggered. He ducked into narrow alleys and tried to get behind his unseen observers—he was almost sure there were several—but never found anyone. It was as if the shadows themselves were watching him.

The shadows.

The more he thought about it, the more sense it made. The shadows were the key. It was in shadowy places that he felt watched the most. Perhaps he could evade his watchers by staying in the light, but his pride revolted against the idea. Darkness had always been his ally; this was his turf, and damn his soul to the Great Enemy if he would ever cede it to someone else. No. He would face them, whoever they were. Shadow against shadow.

On his way home from a contract, Nissrith took the narrowest, most crooked alley that he knew. He waited in silence for the tickling on his mind to grow in intensity. He rested his fingers on the handle of the splinter pistol hanging from his belt. Then he spoke defiantly:

“I will not tell you to show yourselves, for I know you will not. But now is the time to make your move.”

To his surprise, they did show themselves. From the darkest corners of the alley, three pitch-black shapes emerged with liquid grace; two in front of Nissrith and one behind. Green eyes glowed and crescent-shaped blades gleamed. Nissrith knew at once what the beings were, though he had never seen them before, only heard of them in horror tales. Mandrakes, the denizens of Aelindrach. Shadow made flesh.

In the blink of an eye, his pistol was up and blazing. Three shots at the mandrake behind him; two in the chest, one between the eyes. Yet somehow the target was now a few feet to the left of where he had aimed. Nissrith had not seen the shadowy creature move, or even blink out of existence. It was here one moment, and then, inexplicably, it was over there. Nissrith knew, in that instant, that he was as good as dead.

Yet the counter-attack did not come.

“Were you sent to kill me?” asked Nissrith cautiously.

“That is… debatable,” said one mandrake, her voice like the hiss of water on a hot stove.

“Debatable?”

The male that Nissrith had tried to shoot chuckled. It was a dry, dusty sound. “The wording of our contract is very much… open to interpretation.” His voice changed pitch, as if quoting someone verbatim: “I care not how you do it, but make sure Low Commorragh never sees his face again.

Nissrith lowered his gun. “And I take it you are willing to… interpret this wording rather more loosely than your employer likely intended?”

“It would grieve us to take the life of an artist of death such as you,” assured the female. “We will only do so if you leave us no choice.”

“What do you want from me, then?”

“Simple enough.” She extended a thin, insubstantial-looking hand. “Come with us to Aelindrach. You already live and breathe the shadows. Now you may become them.” Her eyes glowed brighter. “Come, and our contract will be fulfilled. Low Commorragh will never see your face again.”


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This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2019/10/15 03:23:29


Cadians, Drukhari

Read my Drukhari short stories: Chronicles of Commorragh 
   
Made in gb
Khorne Chosen Marine Riding a Juggernaut




Southampton, UK

I'm enjoying these very much. Thanks!
   
Made in gb
Raging Rat Ogre





England, UK

Ooh, that reminds me, I did something like this once! Great fun isn't it!

Really, really well-written, as regal as the Dark Eldar themselves, with truly horrible* plot twists. Keep them going!

*(in the best way!)

Link to my fiction

The sledge looked sized for one of Santa's elves. It was made of shiny red plastic.
"Perfect?" said Calgar. "You couldn't fit Kevin McCallister in that! How are four of us going to get in?"
"It's all I could find!" Milo said. "It's not like you pay me enough points to buy a land speeder!"
"This is the chariot my team will use to win the most notorious race in the galaxy?" Calgar inspected the tag which was still attached. "Fun for children aged two to six."
"Milo does have a point, my Lord," said Dick. "When I suggested that we are meant to be the most balanced Chapter and should allocate our spending for all contingencies, you said – and I quote – 'If I want to hear the raving of a leftist commie, I'll watch BBC News'."
 
   
Made in ca
Sybarite Swinging an Agonizer



Ottawa

Thanks a lot for the kind comments! It's nice to know that people are actually reading these, and not just giving me page views and leaving.

Sorry I didn't reply earlier; I was waiting to have more fiction to add before I performed thread necromancy.

Cadians, Drukhari

Read my Drukhari short stories: Chronicles of Commorragh 
   
Made in ca
Sybarite Swinging an Agonizer



Ottawa

.

Note: This longer-than-usual story is a sequel to Neither God, Nor Saint, Nor Daemon, though it is not required to read the previous story to understand what's going on.




Martyrdom(s) -- 1750 words


Sister Abigail had fallen asleep mid-prayer when they burst into her cell. They unshackled her and gave her back her Sororitas clothes—though not her power armor. After she got dressed, they forcibly poured a tarry, vile-tasting liquid down her throat and marched her down the dim hallway leading to the arena. The drug took effect quickly. She felt her senses sharpen and some energy return to her muscles despite malnutrition and the pain from torture. They wanted her to give Commorragh a good show.

The time of Abigail’s martyrdom had come. She would face it with dignity and bring honor to all of her fallen sisters.

Zureth, her gaoler and today her opponent, was waiting for her in the antechamber of the arena pit with a cruel smirk. From her hips hung a barbed whip and a curved, serrated dagger—both of which Abigail had gotten well acquainted with since her capture.

“Hello, student,” the succubus drawled, handing Abigail her own Sororitas chainsword and knife.

Abigail made sure the chainsword was still functional and tucked the knife into her belt. “Stop calling me that,” she said. “I am not your student. You have nothing to teach me.”

“Tsk. You will learn before the end, like all your sisters did. When you lie helpless upon the sand, I will see in your eyes the exact moment you renounce your superstitions and realize that your Carrion Emperor was never with you. You will die slightly less ignorant.”

“I will die a martyr.”

The succubus tilted her head curiously. “Your sisters spoke of the same concept. Martyrdom. I tried to get them to explain it to me, but it still does not begin to make any sense. You mon-keighs live such pitifully short lives to begin with; why would you just throw it away? Is it for pride? For spite? For a glory you will never even live to see?”

“It is none of these things,” spat the Sister. “I wouldn’t expect a Drukhari to understand the notion of serving something greater than her depraved self. When I breathe my last, my faith will be intact, and the Emperor will smile upon me.”

Zureth’s teeth flashed in a vicious grin. “No, my student. Only I will smile upon you.”

The crowd roared as the succubus and the Sister stepped into the arena and stood at their assigned spots, ten sword lengths apart. Their fight was but one of the many taking place that day; neither the first, nor the last, nor the most significant. But Abigail hoped to make her martyrdom at least somewhat memorable, even to this kind of audience. She gave herself wholly to the Emperor and felt her fear subside somewhat. He was with her, even here, in this twisted city beyond the edge of reality. He would see to it that her death was not in vain and that her soul would find its way to Him.

The horn blared.

Zureth exploded into motion and closed the distance before Abigail could blink. The Sister just barely managed to block the curved dagger with her chainsword and duck under the lashing whip. Her own reflexes impressed her; either the combat drug was very effective, or the Emperor was protecting her. She preferred to believe the latter.

They danced for several minutes with no blood spilt. Abigail did not tire; on the contrary, she grew more and more invigorated as the duel went on. She was not nearly as quick as Zureth and always had to be on the defensive, but she only needed one good opening. She could tell that Zureth was toying with her and trying to draw out the fight with showy but inefficient moves. The succubus’ overconfidence would be her undoing.

Zureth’s dagger drew first blood by severing a tendon in Abigail’s leg. The Sister fell to one knee with a yowl of pain. The succubus could have pressed the advantage and ended it right there and then, but chose not to.

“Tell the corpse on Terra to help you get back up,” taunted Zureth. The audience laughed.

Gritting her teeth in pain and rage, Abigail did just that. She beseeched the Emperor for strength, and through a mighty effort of will, rose unsteadily to her feet. Zureth clapped sarcastically, soon joined by the spectators.

They will not mock me for long, swore Abigail.

And so the fight went on. Zureth aimed for Abigail’s tendons and nerve clusters, but never major blood vessels or organs. Her precision was surgical. Abigail lost the use of her right hand, forcing her to switch the heavy chainsword to her left. She was knocked to the ground three times, prayed for strength three times, and got up again three times. Each time, getting up was harder than the last. Fewer and fewer of her muscles would obey her. Even with the Emperor’s help, her mortal body was failing her.

Zureth started cutting bits off Abigail’s body with almost negligent flicks of her blade. A finger. An ear. The small fleur-de-lys tattoo on her cheekbone. Two fingers. Her serrated dagger darted in and out of Abigail’s face, plucking out an eyeball and tossing it into the roaring crowd for someone to catch as a keepsake. The succubus still had not a single scratch on her.

Before long, Sister Abigail was flat on her back, and this time she knew she was not getting up again. Her legs had no functioning muscles left in them. Her chainsword was out of reach; not that she could even lift it, with six of her fingers now missing. This was it. She had fought with everything she had, and failed to even draw blood. Not the martyrdom she had envisioned. But she still had a weapon…

Zureth leaned over her. “Renounce your faith, my student,” she said, staring into the Sister’s remaining blue eye. “Shout for all to hear that your Emperor is a false god, and I will spare your life… or grant you a quick death. Whichever you prefer.”

Abigail spat blood in Zureth’s face. “It is better… to die for the Emperor… than to live for yourself,” she quoted from holy scripture, summoning her last reserves of strength and faith.

Her maimed left hand flew to the knife at her belt and drew it. She lashed out. Her two-fingered grip was weak and her aim was poor, but the Emperor granted her luck, and she carved a red line across Zureth’s right cheek. Anger flashing across her marred face, the succubus forgot to draw out Abigail’s suffering and simply crushed her throat under her heel.

Martyrdom at last, thought Abigail as a blessed darkness claimed her.

She had won.

Her faith was unbroken.

Her soul was going to the Emperor.

Already she could feel His embrace. There was no pain anymore, no fear, no mundane concerns; only a liquid warmth, silence, and a peaceful sense of oblivion. The only physical sensation she had left now was her own slow heartbeat.

Wait.

She was dead.

Why was her heart beating?

As the thought came to the forefront of her mind, her little bubble of serenity burst open. The warmth and silence deserted her, and she had a brief falling sensation that ended in a jolt of pain. Here stomach rested uncomfortably on a metal mesh floor. She drew in a sharp breath that felt like the first breath of her life; urgent, raspy, bitterly cold. She coughed out a slimy substance and wiped more of the same from her eyes. Eyes… plural. She struggled to her knees and looked down at her body in wonder. All of her fingers were still attached. Her glistening skin was unmarred by injury; even her oldest scars were gone. She was completely hairless from scalp to toes. All this she could see at a glance, because she did not have a shred of clothing on. It was as if she had been miraculously reborn, like the Living Saint.

The Emperor… was her first thought, hope surging in her.

“Welcome back, my student.”

Zureth’s voice was like an icicle stabbing through Abigail’s heart. The succubus loomed over her with a lazy smile. She was flanked by a small retinue of wyches from her cult. They were in a dimly-lit underground room unfamiliar to Abigail. From the low ceiling hung row upon row of large, pulsing, translucent sacs that appeared to be made of living flesh. Each contained a humanoid shape, suspended in liquid. The nearest sac, out of which Abigail had just tumbled, was slit open from top to bottom and hung empty and limp. No divine intervention had brought her back to life; just the loathsome resurrection biotechnology of the haemonculi.

“No,” whispered Abigail, her rusty vocal cords struggling to croak out the simple word. “No, no, no, no…”

“You and I have unfinished business,” said Zureth. She reached out and cupped Abigail’s chin with a gloved hand. The Sister did not have the strength to jerk back from her touch. “You are the worst student I have ever had. You will not learn. You still have not renounced your childish superstitions.”

“And I… never will,” said Abigail. She tried to sound defiant, but her voice came out feeble; almost a whimper. “The Emperor is with me. Martyrdom isn’t supposed to be easy.”

Zureth shrugged, unconcerned. “Suit yourself. You are in luck, my would-be martyr; you will get to experience your vaunted martyrdom again. And again. And again. You will be martyred in ways no servant of the Carrion Emperor has ever been martyred before. Until you grow weary of waiting for your false god to snatch your stubborn little soul away from Commorragh.”

“And what then?”

There was an amused glint in Zureth’s yellow eyes. “Then… we shall see.”

A heavy silence fell. The haemonculus, a spindly four-armed creature in a hooded cloak, was the one to break it: “Ah, Lady Zureth… about my payment…”

“Yes! Of course. You did a splendid job, I must say.”

“Mon-keighs are easy to regrow, my lady. Could I convince you to enter a long-term contract for this particular subject?”

“That would simplify things in the future, yes.” Zureth turned to her wyches. “Vrinya and Kharavos. Return my student to her cell and put some solid food in her lovely new body while I handle this business. Her lessons shall resume shortly.”

Powerful hands seized the prisoner’s weakly struggling form and dragged her away, to new martyrdoms.


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This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2020/01/24 19:21:26


Cadians, Drukhari

Read my Drukhari short stories: Chronicles of Commorragh 
   
Made in gb
Khorne Chosen Marine Riding a Juggernaut




Southampton, UK

Awesome. Fantastically dark. Love it.
   
 
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