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Painting and Modelling / Re: 28mm Inquisitor Game
« Last post by DwH86 on May 24, 2020, 10:51:07 PM »


3D printed 28mm and 54mm version of my Avatar.

Will paint some time in the near future  :)
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Painting and Modelling / Re: blogging about inquisitor
« Last post by cymrilian on May 24, 2020, 03:06:55 AM »
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Painting and Modelling / Re: 28mm Inquisitor Game
« Last post by DwH86 on May 22, 2020, 01:02:25 PM »
For larger items (scenery, vehicles etc) I have the 'Anycubic I3 Mega S' it’s a reliable FDM printer that’s one of the best value for money filament printers out there.

For miniatures I use the 'Spark Maker FHD' which is an SLA printer that uses UV light to cure a liquid resin into cumulative layers of the model.

You can use an FDM printer to print miniatures, but an SLA type printer will almost always give you better results.

My printers are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, so you don't have to dump thousands into the hobby (speaking to a group of people that play Citadel games  ::) )

I'm sure you already know this, but your models that you have created CG renders for, all you would need to do to print them would be to export a .stl file of the model into a 'slicer' program (This cuts the model into layers for the printer to print), and the model is ready to print.

3d printers are mimicking the same trend as ink printers, in the very near future, 'budget' 3d printers will be good enough (most are already) and cheap enough (getting there) that any household that wants one, will have one.
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Painting and Modelling / Re: blogging about inquisitor
« Last post by cymrilian on May 20, 2020, 10:25:50 PM »
cheers!
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Painting and Modelling / Re: blogging about inquisitor
« Last post by maglash1017 on May 20, 2020, 09:50:15 AM »
Very cool stuff!
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Painting and Modelling / Re: blogging about inquisitor
« Last post by cymrilian on May 19, 2020, 10:33:00 PM »
working my way through the backlog of inq stuff i have been working on lately
https://faffinginquisitor.home.blog/2020/05/20/more-orks-more-waaghh/
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Painting and Modelling / Re: blogging about inquisitor
« Last post by cymrilian on May 18, 2020, 02:33:24 PM »
in between faffing, computer games,and social distancing, i've also been slowly building and painting inquisitor minis.
https://faffinginquisitor.home.blog/2020/05/18/sisters-of-battle/
https://faffinginquisitor.home.blog/2020/05/18/ogryns-and-chaos-ogryns/
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Out Of Character / Re: Welcome to the Truth (or the Conclave Archive) OOC
« Last post by Mentirius on May 16, 2020, 04:11:02 PM »
Just posted on The Keeping of Secrets: the second chapter of Inquisitor Rahn's story, in which he is called on to do battle with a (significantly) bigger fish.  Please continue to humour my warp-bound weirdness!  It is spread over two posts for reasons of character limit.

Coming soon on The Keeping of Secrets: the untold story of Delan's Point, or some of it at least.  A few key snapshots to join up the dots.  I've been studying the Archive for some time trying to get a handle on this one, so exactly when it materialises remains to be seen, but I think it's beginning to come together.

I concur regarding DuBois - having watched her evolve from a quiet bookish type into a predatory master manipulator has been an enjoyable ride, and I look forward to throwing daemons at her in the present day!
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In Character / Re: The Keeping of Secrets
« Last post by Mentirius on May 16, 2020, 04:00:31 PM »

“What separates a daemon from a mortal soul, or either from the warp surrounding them?  Let us assume they possess an equivalent membrane to the skin of our own bodies.  Our bodies are likewise bound to our souls by a trans-dimensional umbilical cord that is difficult to break without causing death.  A human body contains more water by volume than it does genetic material.  A daemon’s natural body may be composed of pure warp energy, unbound to the Materium, but how irrational is it to assume this energy evenly distributed and of a uniform state, like water in a jug?  Every outward appearance suggests an internal structure must also exist in imitation of physical biology, and while many familiar organs would be superfluous in a daemon, it seems reasonable to infer a range of materials, or in this case, relative states of warp energy, arranged in a specific order.  And order is the correct word, for that which calls itself Chaos nevertheless relies on the building of structures, as a berserker relies upon the forging of weapons in order to do battle, or a sorcerer upon the precision of ritual in order to unleash a cataclysm.  Too much chaos in the wrong place, disrupting the ritual, and a world is saved.  Just as our own greatest weaknesses lie in our internal contradictions, so too do those of the Enemy.”

“Isn’t that a complicated way of saying ‘when you stab them, they die’?”

“It is a complicated way of pointing out that nothing is absolute.  Sentience is structure.  Daemons are ordered chaos.  True disorder is dissolution, even to those who would claim it as their element.  It is also the reason so many Inquisitors bind daemons into swords.  To destroy anything with a cohesive body, or at least to discorporate it, one need only identify its fundamental structure and introduce chaos at the weakest point.”

“And where is the weakest point of a daemon?”

“Wherever one imagines it to be.”



=][=


Let us begin with a simple premise: it was in many ways like a fish.  In this context it is perhaps most helpful to imagine the warp as a sea, and its denizens as the creatures that live there.  Any sea is full of predators, but the largest fish in the ancient Terran sea were filter feeders, sustained by a harvest of microorganisms, lacking the predatory aggression to instil any lasting fear in the human psyche.  Thus the warp-bound equivalent of sharks, the cultural memory of which long outlived the beasts themselves, usually appear, when conceptualised visually, as pseudo-marine predators large enough to eat a human but only just; perhaps three or four times the mass of an adult male.  That warp-sharks scream as they hunt and leaves trails of sparks behind them is a natural adaptation to feeding upon souls as opposed to flesh, instilling appropriate psychological responses in their intended prey to aid first in predation itself, and then in the process of psychic digestion.  Had the seas of ancient Terra hosted sharks of sufficient immensity to destroy the largest and toughest submersible vehicles humanity ever designed, together with the will to do so, it might perhaps have provided some inspiration for the beast currently biting down on Redacted.  With that said, the Imperium comprised nigh on a million inhabited planets, and some of those did indeed play host to what ancient cartographers might have called sea monsters.  Besides which, this was not a naturally occurring entity, even by the standards of the warp, as its particular form made clear.

An Imperial war ship could be anything up to eight kilometres in length.  Redacted was closer to four, but heavily armed and armoured for its size.  The usual purpose of Black Ships being to transport untested psykers harvested from Imperial planets, their coming under attack in the warp was far from unheard of, but the variety of Imperial weaponry on this scale had always been somewhat limited.  They were primarily armed for ship-to-ship combat, the assumption being that the Gellar field would suffice to keep out warp-sharks and other daemonic beasts.  This assumption would usually have been fair, but there is intelligence in the warp surpassing any mortal mind in scale, and one such intelligence had evidently meddled with the attributes of something like a warp-shark in this case.  There may be no fixed spacial dimensions in the warp but relative scale as a concept persists, for the emotions mortals feel in response to size disparities have always run deep.  To call the creature big would be misleading; rather, it was bigger – than Redacted by a considerable margin, and than the tiny speck that was Rahn’s shuttle by a further order of magnitude.  It could have swallowed him as a whale swallows a single shrimp.  He might have swum lengths between any two of its pointed teeth.  Behind it there trailed a dark cloud of tiny shapes that could only be a shoal of smaller predators, eager for scraps, but these paled into insignificance when confronted with the sheer, screaming, titanic fact of the Bigger Fish. 

The monster was predominantly a lurid shade of blue, shot through in places with veins of pink and orange, the scaly surface of its body pocked with staring eyes in a variety of shapes and colours.  It had no true fins as such, moving in an S-shaped wriggle like an eel with its pointed head slung low, its twisting, tapered tail extending above and behind its body like a flag.  The similarity of this overall shape to that of the sacred rune of Tzeentch could not be ignored.  It had met them side on with impossible jaws agape, though the crackling energy of the Black Ship’s Gellar field had held firm against it so far, or Redacted would surely already have been bitten clean in half.  Its mouth was at least a kilometre across, a nightmare vision of primeval fangs that divided its head and pushed hard against the field with single-minded inevitability, while the primary eyes bulged out further back on either side of its centre mass, appearing from the front as solid yellow domes.  As he circled around towards the beast, a single staring pupil was revealed on the nearer side.  Definitely a living rune, a cosmic practical joke.  These bulbous protrusions evidently could not swivel far enough to gaze ahead of it, and yet the daemon’s flesh was densely blistered with smaller eyes, and several of those already seemed to be peering his way.  There was no mistaking the hunger with which it tried to chew through the beleaguered vessel.  It would not be dissuaded, indeed its form suggested it was on a mission every bit as directed as that of Inquisitor Rahn.  Added to all this, it was propelling them off course in a galaxy riven by warp storms.

The shuttle hovered hesitantly over monster and ship, like a child watching his father lose a fight,  tossed on the mind-dissolving tides of the warp.  Rahn decided to land near the middle of its back, directly above the enormous yellow eyes.  As the servitor pilot descended steadily towards the daemon, he realised even the smallest of the lesser surface eyes were comparable in size to the shuttle itself.  Psychic relativity or not, he could not entirely set aside a sense of awe.  They set down on a bicoloured scale in as much of an open space as could be seen, right on the border where the edge of a vein of orange met the blue expanse.  His peripheral vision was a riot of colour that threatened to melt his mind like wax if he looked into it directly, but so focused was he on his immediate task that the temptation never registered.  He would have to leave the shuttle, to count on the Force Armour to preserve him for however many precious moments it took the Magos to calibrate.  Worse, he would have to contend mind to unfathomable mind with the daemon itself.  Balkoth could have pulled this off.  It was that thought that held him together, for was he not the hand of Balkoth in all this?  Surely the old man would never have gone to so much effort to preserve him for this voyage if he was destined to be driven catatonic or eaten alive in the warp before even arriving at their second stop.  Holding all awareness of his own absurdity carefully at bay, he double-checked his helmet was secure, took up his weapons and opened the airlock doors.

Trusting in the suit to keep him alive, he unconsciously maintained personal cohesion and relative velocity, funnelling excessive energies around himself through no small application of passive psychic power.  Sleep-walking on a tightrope of preservative instinct, had he understood the workings of the Force Armour well enough to comprehend its limitations in such extreme conditions, his terror alone might have damned him.  As it was he strode out onto the Fish like some ancient Terran explorer making landfall on an unfamiliar beach, and was no more troubled by his environment, at least on a physical level.  Teleos the insect bore a Fabraxian Force Staff in one hand, bracing the hefty Blasphemer Cannon against his hip with the other.  These were rendered weightless in the warp, without which he doubted he could have carried the oversized cannon far one-handed, let alone use it in battle.  It had simply been the meanest-looking ranged weapon he could find in a hurry.  From what he understood of the Force Armour, it absorbed and filtered warp energy, using it to fuel the wearer’s psychic abilities, which it further focused and amplified through some variation of a psychic hood, of which he suspected the helmet’s apparently decorative horns formed some crucial part.  Further, it channelled energy back out on demand, initially as a passive corona but potentially also in more concentrated surges, responsive to psychic commands.  As to what constituted the central battery for storing all this energy, he could only hope there were more to it than ‘himself’.  Whatever the upper limit was, he figured he was about to find out. 

The Fish was a warp entity, therefore a mind, for all the relative physicality it currently possessed.  Teleos was a telepath.  Telepathy used warp energy to exert mental control over the minds of others.  The warp was a mirror of the collective minds of all the ensouled mortals of the galaxy, and he was immersed in it now.  The available energy might theoretically be unlimited, provided he could survive the strain, and his experience in mental control might extend to control of reality itself, here in the intangible realm.  The daemon’s size was only one of many attributes.  If it was anything like its smaller cousins, its thoughts themselves would be simplistic in the extreme.  In theory, he reasoned, it might not be impossible to exert his will against the leviathan.  Grounding his staff against the scale, he sent his focus into it and extended an exploratory tendril.

HUNGRY!

The power of the thought nearly blew him clear off the daemon and away into the ever-shifting sky.  His mouth watered so hard inside his helmet that the resulting condensation soaked his face with a sour, unpleasant film.  Visions of hot cooked meat assaulted him, threatening to flatten his consciousness down into singular simplicity by main force alone.  Instinctively recoiling from the sudden intensity, he glanced up to see a pod of Screamers break away from the trailing shoal and accelerate towards him.  There were at least a dozen in the group, their broad, flat bodies resembling rays more than true sharks, though their wide, toothy mouths were entirely appropriate for the latter.  He couldn’t hear their eponymous hunting cry through the helmet, for which he was thoroughly grateful.  Any one of the creatures was big enough to tear him in half and equipped with the jaws to do so, armour and all.  They would be on him in a matter of seconds.  With all the power of Lancet’s prayers, he fired the Blasphemer Cannon.

The weapon kicked like a heavy bolter, though its profile was considerably more compact – fortunately so, or he’d never have gotten in onto the shuttle, must less brought it to bear.  The recoil might easily have broken his arm without psychic augmentation to back him up.  He had selected the dark green ammunition drum on the basis of several forbidding symbols marked on the side, from which he inferred the ammo somehow related to Nurgle, Chaos God of Decay, and was intended for use against entities affiliated with Tzeentch.  His first shot hit a Screamer dead on, exploding on impact with its open maw, guided more by his projected intent than hand-eye coordination, this being the open warp.  The target was torn almost in half by a swelling boil of diseased flesh that expanded from deep inside it, then burst in a fountain of yellow-green puss as a humanoid figure was born in the pit of its throat.  Flailing and trailing droplets of putrescent slime, the one-eyed Plaguebearer leapt clear of the mess, collided with the Screamer behind it and drove a rusty sword into its back, the others swerving quickly to avoid it, though they did not break away.  Encouraged, if sickened, by this display, Rahn began to fire in bursts, peppering the approaching shoal with further cursed shells.  Every shot released a daemon, while tearing another asunder in the process.  No wonder the Blasphemer Cannon was so named.  A Necessary Evil indeed.  Whatever the morality of it, the foremost group of Screamers were obliterated long before they reached him, while others of their number ignored him now, instead chasing and harrying surviving Plaguebearers who loped purposefully away in various directions, unbound by any pretence of gravity, dispersing across the sky in an effort to win free.  He silently wished the warp-sharks luck in eating his most recent sins, before returning his intention to the beast beneath his feet.  How long had he been out here?  Focus.  Smooth and delicate as a hypodermic needle, he drove his staff down into the scale.

ITCHES.

What itches?

SELF.

What self?

THIS SELF.

Whose self?

MY SELF.

The self of whom?

THE SELF OF – SELF OF – HUNGRYYYYYYY…


He had it, by the tips of his fingers he – fell to his knees, bellowing incoherently in the deafening privacy of his helm.  The daemon was not a fish, he was the fish, only not quite a fish, needing air like a man, and its mind was the ocean into which he relentlessly sank.  It was all he could do to keep hold of the staff, the cannon hanging loosely from its strap, a stone around his neck.  To the myriad hells with it.  He was not here to make conversation.  With a sudden flare of pale light, he set the staff ablaze and melted a wider hole in the scale, expanding outwards in a circle.  A tremor seemed to ripple out across the Fish, while rainbow-coloured ichor welled up from the growing cavity in an amorphous cloud.  It sparked against the surface of his suit as it dispersed.  Maintaining his burning corona, he brought himself up to one knee and jammed the barrel of the Blasphemer Cannon into the wound.  With a silent prayer he likely had no right to make in these circumstances, he unloaded the rest of the drum, drilling deep into the pseudo-flesh beneath and presumably entombing a further pack of Plaguebearers down there somewhere.  For all he doubted a daemon of Tzeentch would prove susceptible to Nurgle’s Rot, this had the desired effect of getting its attention.  The leviathan bucked violently, causing an earthquake so severe that it nearly succeeded in dislodging him from its back.  Hanging from the rooted Force Staff by one hand, he glimpsed the greater shoal of distant Screamers scattering in alarm, caught a flash of the combat shuttle still clinging to its landing site, unshakeable as a tick.  Pointlessly reliable, its doom already decided, for all its fortitude.  Uncomfortably symbolic in that regard.  Even as he thought this, the wound began to widen further beneath him, expanding asymmetrically as a ring of piranhoid teeth emerged around its puckered rim.  The staff came loose at once, a terrible current took hold of him, and Inquisitor Rahn was sucked down into the opening gullet.  The teeth snapped shut behind him like the slamming of a cell door.


=][=


“Tell me something, Balkoth – just how am I supposed to trust that you are not a servant of Chaos?  You wrote a book implying as much, did you not?  I certainly believed it when I sought you out.  Surely I don’t have to point out your obvious affinity for the machinations of daemons, particularly those born of Tzeentch.  You make no secret of your willingness to play games against such beings – your word, not mine.  I have no doubt you’ve started cults–”

“Oh, I have.  A great many cults, and yes, the bulk of them were cults of Tzeentch to some extent.  I am hardly alone in that among Inquisitors.  Entrapment is often an effective strategy, and I did not force people to join my congregations.  Anyone can lie, Teleos.  Deception does not constitute worship, and not all games are frivolous.  Their severity depends entirely on the stakes.”

“Do you deny being tempted by the promise of knowledge?”

“I do not accept promises from daemons.  Knowledge can be purchased in the warp just as it can in the Imperium, and there is other currency besides the soul.  I deal in wagers and in contracts, not in honeyed gifts.  The deals I have entered into are such that my creditors hold one another in balance, with none of them having sufficient claim above the others until various conditions are fulfilled.  None of them will ever get the chance to collect their alleged due, or if they do it will be too late.  I owe no allegiance to them.”

“Are you so confident of that?  You admit to making deals with daemons, and justify it on the basis you don’t intend to honour them?”

“A deal made in bad faith is no more than a wager in disguise.  The odds are as good as they can be, given what I must achieve.  If we would live in a Universe with meaningful choices, we must be prepared to place dice with it sometimes.”

“That sounds like something one of the gods you claim to reject might say.”

“On the contrary, gods do not gamble, or never intentionally.  They only wish to be seen as gamblers, never to take genuine risks.  This is doubly true of Tzeentch.  But even if you judge my every utterance to be a Tzeentchian aphorism, are all devious mortals then to be assumed servants of a devious god?  I would contend it is more reasonable to suspect the reverse.  It is possible to be prone to fits of rage without serving Khorne, but if mortals no longer felt that rage, where then would the Blood God be?  Their nature is at best a satirical mockery of our own, and at worst a perpetual act of cosmic plagiarism.  They neither embody nor own their respective affinities, they merely feed upon them.  Does every farmer serve the insects, in your eyes?”

“So your excuse for inciting heresy is to accuse Tzeentch of imitation?”

“Will you cry hubris on its behalf now?  You do seem to hold an awfully high opinion of these gods, for such an Emperor-fearing man.  The nature of my philosophy neither renders me their property, nor leaves room for any sympathy towards those who would enslave themselves.  My plans are my own.  Their complexity alone does not prove them purposeless, and that is what Tzeentch is, in the end.  A self-fulfilling prophet, planning without purpose; an idealised artist whose intended creation encompasses every mortal who exists, or ever will, reducing every one of us to so much raw material.  The irony being, of course, that if it ever finished its opus it would be forced to tear it down and start over.  There is little use in knowing everything for such a being, incapable as it is of achieving anything truly constructive with its knowledge.  Changer of Ways indeed…only in the sense that change as a constant is identical to absolute rigidity.”

“Well, I’ll give you this much – you do seem to hold an awfully low opinion of these gods, for such a damned heretic.  I can’t say I’m any closer to trusting you, however.”

“Then perhaps there is hope for you yet.”



=][=


Teleos had forgotten things.

The white room consisted of a single, circular wall, curving inwards above and beneath him to completely enclose the space.  The floor and ceiling were both deeply concave, with the room’s upper portion higher and narrower at its apex than the lower.  There were no edges or corners to be found.  Every smooth surface glowed faintly from within, and he cast no shadow here.  He stood in the centre of the bowl, the only level place to stand, turning slowly on the spot while he looked in vain for a door, a window, any aperture to explain how he had ended up in here and how he might escape.  There were no such openings to be seen.  He still wore his armour, still held the Force Staff in his right hand and the empty Blasphemer Cannon in his left.  Why was the cannon empty?  How did he know it was empty?  Why was he geared up for battle in the first place?  Something was badly wrong.  Visual enquiry having gotten him nowhere, he closed his eyes against the pointless whiteness and reached out tentatively with his mind. 

There was – nothing.  Just nothing, anywhere.  As if he floated untethered in an empty void, with even the outermost limits of his psychic awareness finding only a vacuum.  This patently was not the case, and it appeared he could not leave the room, therefore this was a cell, of the kind psykers could not see out of.  But if he was a prisoner, then why was he so heavily armed?  He opened his eyes, thought about putting down the empty gun and reaching up to remove his helmet.  A sudden conviction told him he absolutely should not, though he failed to remember why.  He decided to trust his instincts, lacking any context as he was.  Maybe force was the answer.  Already beginning to gather his will, this time concentrating on the staff, Teleos raised his arm and then brought it down hard, channelling as much energy as he could into the blow.  With a sound like a thunderclap, followed by a drawn out groaning creak like a ship in a storm, a single black crack raced across the floor, up the wall and nearly to the ceiling.  This was progress.  Feeling encouraged, he raised the staff again.

“It would only make things worse, of course.  This was a temporary construction, a placeless place, outside of which lay only death for creatures like itself.  It might instead have considered negotiation.”

The voice was entirely disembodied, faintly emotive yet with an air of detachment, as if telling a story to some unseen audience of eager strangers.  Teleos resolved not to look over his shoulder, though neither did he strike the floor again, saving what power he had in case his captors revealed themselves.  After a moment the speaker went on.

“It had been weighed and measured now.  For all its familiar flavour, it was not Balkoth after all.  It should perhaps have known better than to step into those particular shoes.  Its name was…Teleos.  Its thoughts were a patchwork quilt to hide beneath while monsters stalked the night.  This shell lacked elegance, and like all eggs its destiny was to shatter.  The remaining mysteries lay in how the pieces would fall, and what manner of beast might then emerge.”

It was a daemon, this much seemed certain.  A daemon familiar with Balkoth, so likely an enemy or a creditor, either of which boded ill.  He was in the warp, somehow.  Was this a nightmare?  It certainly felt like one.  And yet…and yet he knew the voice, knew it of old, though he could find no single memory of having heard it before.  The room was a giant egg, he realised, and he the yolk.  A word was floating up towards the surface of himself, born in the fathomless depths and heavy with significance.  A name and not a name, a mask behind a mask.  Fixing his gaze on the crack, more for want of anything else to look at than because he thought it the voice’s source, he replied as calmly as he could.  The words in his mouth felt as if someone else had composed them.

“Sairzrias…this was the name it preferred for itself.  It spoke the name of Balkoth with unintentional reverence, fearing the sound of the word as it feared the man.  Negotiation was impossible.  The Inquisitor encouraged it to do its worst.”

“And so, in trying imitate a higher consciousness, little Teleos broke apart, and out of him hatched a fool.”

As if some hidden lever had been pulled, the entire room suddenly imploded.  A shower of spinning shards assaulted him, the floor beneath him fell away and Teleos fell with it.  He found himself hurtling down a narrow chute whose sides were a mosaic of wetly shining human eyeballs, turning in unison to track his progress as he descended; emerged back into free fall over a fleshy pit filled with cackling monsters who reached up with clawed hands to receive him.  Like a worm into a bird’s nest, he plunged into their midst, a sea of electric pink faces, distended jaws and beady yellow eyes.  His armour’s shining aura burst into life as the plated boots made contact.  The daemon he landed on popped like a grape, releasing a burst of equally pink warpfire that licked and fizzed around him but could not penetrate.  From beneath his feet, blue hands reached up to scrabble at his legs, while the colour of the flames began to shift in turn.  The Horrors around him fell about pointing and laughing, briefly hysterical, before seeming to remember their original intention and closing from every side.  They lacked heads as such, their faces filling their torsos instead, and most of each face consisted of a yawning sharp-toothed grin, a direct line to whatever served as a stomach.  Their arms and eyes varied wildly in number, and they all seemed to be on fire to a greater or lesser degree.  Releasing his hold on the empty cannon, he took his staff in both hands and let loose a primal yell.  This much at least made sense.

A nova of white light exploded from the armour, scattering daemons on every side, and he swung the staff in a great sweeping arc that tore a path through their startled faces, meeting no discernable resistance as he charged into their midst.  Wherever he slew a Pink Horror, the ruin it left melted and reformed into a pair of scowling Blues, who then came at him with twice the ferocity of their forebears, holding him accountable for spoiling their fun.  When he struck them down in turn, they burst into yellow fire and from each a diminutive pair of Brimstone Horrors were born.  In practice there was rarely time to finish these before losing them in the melee.  The whole crowd clambered and fought amongst themselves to get close to him, only to be immolated or torn in half by the whirling staff as he turned and turned again, like a man with a burning brand beset by starving wolves.  The Force Armour hummed loud in his head as he drove it ever harder, moving at the speed of thought, bathing himself in a literal halo of hostile intent.  A living wave crashed right over him, shattering on impact like a breaker on the shore, leaving behind a yellow foam of dancing, burning sprites that threw looping threads of flame around him, forming snares from which he stepped as if through spiderwebs.  He stamped down furiously, the armour making hammers of his limbs that splattered the smallest daemons underfoot.  A Horror leapt on his back and he sent a surge of power down his spine, bisecting the gibbering thing.  Another tried to bite his face and he butted it hard with his horns, caving in its upper jaw completely.  If anything there were more daemons now than there had been when he started, though he was yet to suffer a wound through the armour.   The Force Armour, not Imperial, made in Fabraxis.  Fabraxis…  Urania.  Redacted!

As if the Emperor had heard his thoughts, awaiting only the remembered names before moving to intervene, a point of red light appeared suddenly in front of his face.  The Horrors all turned to look at it, the first united action he had seen them perform since collectively deciding to eat him.  Seizing his opportunity, he drew in a great vortex of warp energy, inhaling from all around himself like a swimmer preparing to dive.  Cracks were spreading from the red light, rifts in the fabric of the warp, through which a brighter light was pouring, a light beyond colour, an incandescent mirror of the darkness he had glimpsed outside the breaking shell.  The daemons surged forward again, making for the light this time, and Inquisitor Rahn exhaled long and loud, a trumpeter playing a final fanfare as his exit coalesced. 

“Nothing changes!”

His words became two-headed eagles that flew out in every direction, splitting and splitting again, multiplying in parody of the surrounding Horrors, a kaleidoscopic predatory dive, ploughing through daemons wherever they found them and continuing on, relentless, finally driving their talons deep into the walls of the pit.  A spreading puddle of frozen grey trailed in each eagle’s wake, creeping over the heaving dreamscape and turning all it touched to stone.  Horrors of every kind scampered aside in alarm or were fossilised where they stood.  Rahn reached out with an open hand, casting a hooked net of luminescent veins that seemed to catch upon the empty air and snag there, distorting his vision as he twisted and pulled, exposing layers of illusion for what they were.  Somewhere close at hand, a flock of songbirds began a mocking chorus that prickled his skin.  He did not turn to look for them.  Dragging a fistful of nightmares behind him, he dove into the open warp tunnel with a defiant, wordless howl.


=][=


“You are an absolute fething lunatic, Inquisitor.  I genuinely cannot believe what I just saw.”

“How much of that could you even see from the ship?”

“Oh, you’ll want to watch the vid-log.  I saw a damn fool landing a shuttle on the back of a giant daemon fish, and then burrowing his way inside it.  The same man is currently stood in front of me, having somehow caught the fish from the inside, conspicuously alive and hopefully not possessed.  You missed a hell of a show there after the warp tunnel opened.  Absolute.  Fething.  Lunacy, all the way.”

“Please, Ms Wysp, you’re crowding the Inquisitor.  I’m sure your incredulity at his recent exploits has been duly noted.”

“We didn’t really catch the fish, more like a chunk of it.  Enough to prevent the rest from holding together.  The Magos was the one who bound it, anyway.  I was in no state by then, even if I had known how.  It was – there was another daemon out there, I think it was driving the thing.  One that knew Balkoth.  It spoke to me.  It seemed disappointed I wasn’t him.”

“Does that surprise you, Inquisitor?”

Lancet’s tone was innocent, daring Rahn to comment on potential shades of meaning in his words.

“It leads me to question the wisdom of having released Bauchan’s daemonhost…at your instruction, I might add.  A man might almost suspect you intended to provoke a response with what we did on Tuvak.”

“Oh, perish the thought.  Another job well done in any case.  Now, I’m afraid I must get on – you literally cannot comprehend the volume of work I’m going to have to do to get us back on course.  Think about that while you’re casting aspersions on my good intentions.”

As Lancet walked away, his unusual brevity serving to underline his point, Teleos was left with Wysp, whose outburst regarding his survival was by far the most animated he had seen her to date, including while butchering cultists in the Tuvak spire.  Even now she was nearly bouncing with excitement, in contrast to Teleos himself, who felt like he’d been stripped naked, beaten with iron bars and then re-incarcerated in his suit of armour, somehow acquiring a brutal hangover in the process.  He hadn’t felt this bad, physically or mentally, since he first emerged from stasis.  Holding his helmet in one hand, he leaned heavily on the staff with the other, determined to keep hold of it until he made it back to his private rooms.  His loss of the Blasphemer Cannon had elicited no more than a despairing sigh from Urania, accompanied by more muttering about Necessary Evil.  The Magos Confractus had appeared nearly as drained as he felt himself, her various appendages drooping, her globular familiar hovering no higher than his waist. 

He had apparently lost consciousness soon after returning to Redacted, leaving her to complete the binding ritual, whose arcane workings she had somehow thrown together in the chamber surrounding the gate, preventing any further malevolence from escaping into the ship – or at least he hoped so.  His recollection of re-entry resembled being carried over a waterfall of multi-coloured shark-infested oil paint, then slammed against the riverbed far below and held there by the pressure of the falling liquid, fading slowly to black.  Whatever portion of the Fish he had managed to drag through with him now resided in the bloated body of a bizarre psychic servitor, itself a revelation as far as he was concerned, though apparently so much equipment to Urania.  Whatever the original organism had been, from the size of the thing he doubted it could have been human.  The new daemonhost currently resided in a massive tank she intended to move to the hold, submerged in a clear, viscous medium and tightly wrapped in intricately warded chains.  What visible flesh remained had already turned blue and begun growing new eyes when Teleos left her to it.  Wysp had evidently watched the original entity come apart from the outside on one of the screens, and from the state of the normally taciturn – servitor?  Could he really compare any thinking person to the creature in the tank? – he surmised it must have been a spectacular sight.  He wasn’t clear on the mechanics of how they could view the ship’s exterior in the warp without a Navigator, given his recent immersive experience, but the weight of that experience also discouraged him from questioning Urania or Lancet any further on the subject.  What he needed now was rest.

“Inquisitor?  That was – I mean you’re a lunatic, but…well…damn, is all.”

“Thank you, I think.  Very eloquent of you.”

“I mean it.  I still don’t trust you, but I’ll kick myself later if I don’t try and learn a little more about what in the Emperor’s name goes on in your head before you go and get heroically killed.  I think I might have to stop avoiding you – on a trial basis you understand.  I am supposed to be your bodyguard, ludicrous a proposition as that is.”

Perhaps irrationally, he found he felt slightly better.  Solid progress with two of the crew had to count as a good day on some level.  Then a wave of nausea crested and he willed himself back into motion, slurring something vaguely amiable in Wysp’s direction as he staggered off down the corridor.  He could hear her chuckling to herself behind him.  The daemon’s name throbbed in the back of his mind like an open wound…probably not a true name though, seeming far too short.  Sairzrias.  When had Balkoth told him that?  He could recall nothing else save the name, could no longer bring to mind the precise sound of its voice.  A nine-letter palindrome, it seemed distinctly Tzeentchian to him, while the Fish had made its own allegiance clear from the outset.  Having survived the ridiculous monstrosity, he remained concerned by the implications.  Had it been too easy to get away?  He had a sneaking feeling all this might have been nothing but a warning shot.  How powerful would an enemy need to be to so casually spend a monster that could threaten a warship?  Was Teleos a sacrifice?  A goat sent into the desert to die, carrying Balkoth’s sin?  Executing men like Bauchan was well and good, entirely in line with his duty and far from anathema to his personal preferences.  Being left to pay the spiritual tab incurred by a lifetime of daemonic bargains, however, and facing daemons potentially on a scale no Inquisitor had a hope of opposing…  He wasn’t afraid of fighting daemons, within reason, but neither was he Leman Russ come again.  The protection afforded by Balkoth’s sponsorship felt insubstantial now, as if the mighty Black Ship’s hull had been exposed as paper-thin.  A deceptively comfortable cloak of resignation tried to settle on his shoulders, though he managed to shrug it off this time.  He would not have agreed to certain death, nor yet damnation.  Would he?

When he made it back into his quarters, his first instinct was to make straight for the bed, but he froze halfway there, remembering the ever-present issue of the armour he still wore.  He made to begin removing it and stopped again – what if this were an illusion after all?  What if he were still outside, and the daemon wanted him out of the armour, to perish screaming in the boiling energy of the warp?  You already took off the helmet.  So he had.  He set it down on a side table, leaned the increasingly heavy Force Staff against the wall.  Began wrestling with a gauntlet, nearly gave up in frustration.  Once he had it off the rest of the pieces followed.  He donned a loose robe and replaced the armour carefully in the enormous unit intended for the purpose, somewhere between a shrine, a wardrobe and an iron maiden.  He had commandeered a team of servitors to drag this up from the armoury on the second day, having found he could think better while wearing the Force Armour than without it, and wanting it close at hand.  He was already feeling feeble and fragile without it now, for all the psychic toll it had taken on him today.  Like most Inquisitors, Rahn was hardly short on physical or mental strength, even without equipment, but it was remarkable how quickly one could become accustomed to truly superhuman abilities when they were available on demand.  Given he had never worn the armour before Tuvak, however, he held firm in the opinion he needed all the practice with it he could get.  It had already saved his life, and would no doubt be equally necessary for whatever came next.

Somewhere in the course of his fumbling routine, he found his desire for sleep had been blunted, opting instead for a comfortable chair.   His body was weary beyond measure but his mind felt raw and tender, unable to fully relax.  How long had he been awake?  Was it even the notional evening yet?  Was there something important he was forgetting?  He nearly laughed aloud at the last thought.  Of course there damn well was.  Better to ask, was there anything important he remembered?  The awareness of missing pieces was a constant companion.  Suddenly eager for distraction, something to draw him out of himself and silence his personal daemons, he reached for Lancet’s data-slate.  The Conclave Archive was heavy going at times but he still had a lot to learn.  Perhaps there would be mention of Sairzrias, though he felt sure he’d seen none so far.  No doubt Balkoth could have told him more.  The slate still held his place in the late stages of a jumbled, incomplete account of a battle between various factions, centred on the monastery of Delan’s Point.  The Archive raised more questions than it answered, yet the Point had been attacked by powerful daemons so maybe there was something there he had missed.  Tellingly, what minutes there were from the meeting of the occupying Inquisitorial cell made mention of Balkoth himself.  He couldn’t quite believe how abruptly the account just…stopped.  Was this selective censorship Balkoth’s hand at work, or some daemonic claw?  Was there a difference, functionally speaking?  His speculation subsided as he settled back in his chair, sinking incrementally into a fitful slumber.  The data-slate slid softly from his hands.


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