Author Topic: One More Hit  (Read 2838 times)

Offline Inquisitor Sargoth

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One More Hit
« on: September 17, 2009, 11:56:37 PM »
“So this is to be my prison?”

“It is. Let me make this abundantly clear, alien. You will die, by my hand, whenever I wish it. From what I know of your kind, this is a particularly fitting end. Captured on a slave-raid.”

It shrugs. It stands tall, proud in spite of its nudity, almost baring its taut flesh at its captor.

“Your bars will not hold me, mon-keigh. You will die, by my hand, when I wish it.”

“I have no time to bandy threats and exercise bravado with you, alien. Goodbye.”

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

It still refuses to answer my questions, despite my best efforts. The alien has proven highly resilient to my pain amplifiers; indeed, it laughs and mocks them, calling them inferior copies, toys. I confess that it vexes me. While long and bitter experience has taught me much, I had not anticipated this much resilience in an organism with such an advanced nervous system.

Visual studies of the subject’s body may reveal the answer, however. Among scars presumably from combat, on the right side of the torso alien glyphs have been scarred into the flesh, some barely visible, others red and livid. The eldar are noted for their cruelty and sadism, and I wonder if these tendencies have lead to a propensity for ritualised self-harm in my captive.

The alien certainly seems to take some form of pleasure in the pain I cause. For now, I shall cease conventional interrogation methods. I may make use of sanctionite Annabel, who has served me well before.

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

Annabel is dead. I should have foreseen this, and I could have prevented it.  I spent an hour within my own pain amplifiers as penance. It is with regret and shame I report the details of her death.

I brought her to see the subject. It has become increasingly agitated over the last few days; the solitude, perhaps, and lack of mental stimulation within its cell is beginning to affect it. It mocked and threatened me, as usual, but its threats towards poor Annabel were much more graphic, and made the worse by the fact that she could sense they were indeed its desires. Shivering with fear and revulsion, she entered its mind.

She screamed, and the alien laughed. I took her away, quickly, ordering the alien suffer two hours of agony.

It said it would enjoy every moment of them.

I gave Annabel a chemical relaxant, which calmed her enough for her to relay what she had learned from the alien’s mind. She spoke of a mind filled only thoughts with thoughts of murder, torture and rape and a terrifying, boundless hunger.

She took a further sedative to ease her sleep. Concerned for her state of mind, I checked in on her early the next morning to find her body.

Her manner of death was not... pleasant. She had taken a blade and torn erratically at her flesh. It seems she died of blood loss. There was a note on her bed, or rather the incomplete final entry in her dream-log. I was difficult for me to read, but it made mention of a dark city, and some kind of thirsting entity. The last line mentioned that something was pulling at her soul.

What manner of fiend is this creature? All aliens are monsters worthy only of destruction, of course, but even the most twisted Xenoforms have some motive beyond their own perverse enjoyment. Annabel was an extremely resilient psyker and a single moment with this eldar drove to madness and suicide.

A part of me wants this experiment to end. I ought to kill it now and dissect it, or perhaps I should vivisect this alien and see if it enjoys the pain of its own death. But can I extract its motives, its secrets and its very psyche with my scalpels and probes and expose them, quivering, to the light? I cannot.

I will let it live, for now. This terrible hunger that killed my adept and, I realise in the harsh clarity of hindsight, friend intrigues me as much as it repulses me.

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

The subject’s agitation increases. It is quick to anger and its threats have grown less refined and more brutal and vicious. Pleasing progress, certainly, but I suspect it is linked to this’ hunger’ Annabel died for. So, I asked it outright.

***

“Are you hungry, alien? Is our fare not to your liking?”

“Your swill tastes as disgusting as you smell, mon-keigh.”

“Your wit remains as sharp as ever, I see. It’s just you seem to want something. Crave, I should say. Perhaps I could accommodate you. You are, after all, my guest.”

The eldar presses its angular face against the bars. It seems to have grown paler over the last few days; its ashen skin appears almost translucent under the harsh lights.

“What I want is to kill you, human. You and your entire mongrel race.”

***

The subject remains as uncooperative as ever. I begin to wonder if this hunger is simply for causing pain and death. Are the eldar so depraved that their desire for bloodshed has become a literal addiction? We know little of their physiology, but the subject sweats and shakes like one in withdrawal. It mutters, sometimes, in its alien tongue when it thinks itself alone.

There is, of course, a considerable likelihood that this is a literal narcotic addiction. The eldar are known to make use of combat-drugs and for a high degree of hedonism.

I have a new, bold plan. I will ask this creature, this alien, what it is addicted to and promise to deliver it if it answers my questions.

***

“Alien.”

“Yes, mon-keigh?

“You look terrible. Even more hideous than when you first came. And I know why.”

The prisoner chuckles.

“You’re an addict.”

It stops laughing; now it fixes Lemarche with a careful gaze.

“What do you know of it?” it spits.

“Little enough, but even with your alien biology I can recognise withdrawal when I see it. It is possible I may be able to supply what it is that you require. I am prepared to do so, in exchange for information.”

It laughs again, louder.

“You could supply it well enough, Inquisitor, but somehow I think your human sensibilities would balk at my price.”

“Name it.”

It says nothing at first; the violet eyes lock onto his, unblinking. Lemarche’s eyes begin to water, but he refuses to be the one to break contact.

“I require... to kill someone. Not some pathetic animal, I require something with ...substance...”

“A human, you mean?” Lemarche replies, in a voice of solid ice.

“Not necessarily,” it hisses, almost apologetically. “but that would suffice.”

“By Terra, you’re a sordid race, aren’t you? You’re physically addicted to murder and torture?”

The eldar growls, spits. The spittle hisses upon contact with the power field.

“You are wrong, mon-keigh! It is your race that is perverse! We kill, we torture, we rape and we take because we must! You do it simply because you can, in the name of some lunatic faith in a dead god!”

“Blaspheme again, alien, and you will receive nothing. I will let you die slowly.”

“The true face of humanity! As cruel as we are, but do you let yourselves see it? An entire race of hypocrites!”

Lemarche pauses.

“We can continue to insult one another’s species for all eternity, but we both know it would be a waste of time. I will give you what you want, alien, as much as it sickens me, as much as I feel I am soiled by it. Would a servitor do?”

“Just one?” the prisoner replies, true desperation in its voice.

“For now, alien. I will reward honesty with further... victims. My first question. What is your name?”

“You would be unable to pronounce it, human.”

“So melodramatic,” he sighs.

The eldar holds up a pale hand placatingly.

“In short, you can call me... Melekh.”

“Good.  Melekh... My name is Gabriel Lemarche.”

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

My plan has succeeded. I have learned a little of this creature, even its name. Melekh. It told me of its ‘Kabal’, the Sundered Heart, and spoke a little of the Dark City. It also mentioned the distinct factions of the eldar race, which I confess previously I had poorly understood. It is of a faction that lives within the Webway, within that terrible city, leaving it only to find their prey, a prey it seems they require for more than just enjoyment.

The other factions it spoke of where the ‘fools of the Craftworlds’, the ‘primitive and self-righteous Exodites’ and the harlequins. That it spared the last grouping its insults I find rather telling.

I gleaned little more, knowing not push it too hard this early on. It hates me, of course, and to tell me anything at all must feel like betrayal of its race. But an addict is predicable, controllable. I have found the weakness of the eldar, one that can perhaps be used against them. 

I gave it a servitor, and watched on the pict-monitors. The eldar killed it, viciously, but more quickly than I had expected. I had assumed torture and cruelty were integral to the ritual; evidently not. I recall the look of ecstasy on its pale face as it stooped over the body. It looks a little healthier, but only barely. It seems it requires much, much more.

I cannot afford to waste valuable servitors. I must locate another source.

I hate this alien more than words can say but to control its every action, to make it dance to my tune... That seems more pleasurable than killing it will be, as much as I look forward to the moment it outlives its usefulness. Perhaps Annabel did not die in vain.

***

“So, you gather into these ‘kabals’ for mutual protection?”

“Of a sort. Life in the Dark City is filled with perils, and it is simpler not to face them alone. Those without kabals are alone, and will find few safe places in which to live. Of course, betrayal is the greatest threat of all, so being within a kabal carries its own dangers. Assassination is commonplace and, along with simple perfidy, it is the only real route for advancement.  ”

“Your society is founded on the right of individual conquest, betrayal and assassination being the main pastimes. Leadership is held only by strength of arms and force of personality. How can such a civilisation survive? How does it not simply tear itself apart? My understanding is that the eldar are few in number; surely you would have driven yourselves to extinction if you have been continuing in this vein for even half as long as you claim?”

“You do not understand us, human. You will fail to do so as long as you compare us to humanity. Humans cling together; you understand you are weak as individuals and it has defined every aspect of your society. Your empire, your precious, decaying Imperium, survives only by strength of numbers.”

Probably true, Lemarche muses. Some general had said so once, hadn’t they? ‘So long as one more man is born every moment than dies on the frontlines, we will have victory.’

“You are like the orks! As selfish as any other race, individually, but how willingly you sacrifice your ambition for safety. We eldar are not prepared to compromise our nature so. ”

“Nonetheless. How have you endured?”

“We can live for thousands of years, mon-keigh. Our plots tend towards a longer game than your own, and we are all extremely adept at surviving. Our death rate is not nearly so high as the blood in our streets would make you think.”

“So what reduced the eldar to such an existence?”

“Reduced? We our continuing to live as our ancestors did. It is only the conservative fools of Craftworld and Maiden world that seek to emulate the primitives from our forgotten history, before we rose to galactic superiority.”

“A superiority you have lost. Perhaps they were right, and perhaps I was in my summation that your way of life is inherently self-destructive.”

The alien’s eyes flash dangerously, but he holds back an insult. His need is too great.

“The Fall was inevitable, human. All empires have their time. The death knell of your own is coming. Now the eldar have no requirement for empires; we have no need to expand into new territories. We have Commorragh, which is larger than worlds, where we are hidden away from all of our enemies, safe from even the other eldar of the webway.”

“What caused this Fall, then, eldar?”

“You do not know?”

“Records are confusing and contradictory, and infected with your bizarre alien myth.”

“All empires end the same way, human. Problems and pressures mount; disorder, disease and rebellion. The empire collapsed under them, and the strongest escaped to the Dark City to start anew,” Melekh replied, after a pause.

“I see. You have been most cooperative, Melekh. I think we shall conclude our interview here for the day.”

“You promised...”

“And I keep my promises, Melekh, so long as you keep yours. I have obtained access to a prison. I will have a prisoner sent to you directly.”

“Only one?”

“Do you truly require more? Can’t you... savour the kill, or something?” Lemarche replies, distaste clear in his voice.

“It is... not so simple, human.”

“How so?”

“You would not... It just is, human!”

“Very well, then. I suppose I can send you two. Is that enough?”

The alien mutters something to itself. It is not in Gothic.

“Was that ‘never’, alien?”

A flash of white; the alien is grinning.

“You’re sharper than most of your race, Lemarche.”

“Perhaps. Alien. You’ve never referred to me by name before.”

“Perhaps I’m coming to identify with my captors. Why, soon I shall cease washing and grooming myself.”

Lemarche smiles his own humourless little smile.

“I have another request for you, human.”

“It involves more killing, doesn’t it?”

“I wish to kill one before our next interview as well as after. It may... loosen my tongue a little further.”

“Your tongue is not loose already, alien? You have been hiding things from me, perhaps?”

“Not at all.”

“Good. I want inside knowledge on eldar strategy, then. How you select your targets. Your tactics. Your weaknesses.”

“You would ask me to betray my entire race?”

“My understanding is that betrayal is the cornerstone of your race.”

Another glimmer of teeth in the gloom.

“I want six kills next time, human.”

“I shall see to it that our cells, or larders, are well-stocked.”

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

It seems I have built.... a rapport with this monster.  An understanding, even. I can only hope this stems from my understanding of addicts, a relic of my youth, and the insight into the mind of a sociopath every Inquisitor gains in time.

I cannot forget, even for a moment, that it thinks of violence and murder with every breath and were the power field to fail it would happily strangle me through the bars.

I have learned more than I should like to know about the blood-soaked intricacies of eldar culture, but it has promised me the military secrets of its kind. I must be watchful for lies, now more than ever. So far most of what it has said matches what others have reported; I have obtained copies of some of Czevak’s earlier writings, which are widely praised, or chided, by those within the Ordo Xenos as definitive.

Perhaps I
can control him. His addiction is too powerful for him to resist.

I have been sleeping poorly, even by my own standards. I spend hours interviewing the alien, replaying pict-recordings, comparing my findings and researching. The eldar are poorly understood, despite being one of our oldest enemies. My work here could contribute significantly to our knowledge.

Apparently eldar captives are usually unresponsive to the point of catatonia, and have a habit of dying when tortured. Melekh is different. His addiction must be what makes him different.

I missed Annabel’s funeral service yesterday. I was caught up in my work, of course, but I have no wish to appear uncaring. I visited her sad little grave earlier. She is a reminder of why my work is so important, and a warning I forget at my own peril.


***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

I have taken to the rather morbid practise of watching the pict-logs of Melekh’s killings. His subjects are delivered, unconscious, and thrown into the antechamber of his cell. He waits until the servitors leave before he falls upon them. It is prudent for me to see how he kills his prey, and he does so with astonishing brutality, tearing out throats with his hands or teeth. Then he stoops over the body for a few long moments, seeming to savour it, before he is content with his kill and calmly drags the remains to the antechamber for later collection and cremation. He then begins to clean himself, calmly and leisurely.

I do not understand this addiction. I assumed it was based on the need to feel in control, like a serial killer, or out of simple sadism. I was clearly wrong. There is no ritual to it, no pattern I can discern. It seems to have filled him with vigour nonetheless.

I must understand this addiction better, so that I may harness it more effectively.

He has taken to exercising within his cell, feats of acrobatics and contortion that inspire revulsion in the pits of my stomach.  The superficial similarities of the eldar to mankind make them in many ways far more repulsive than monsters like the K’nib or even the tyranids. We look upon as though they were human, but the tiny differences, the
wrongness of them...

Often I find my thoughts stray to his death, both the questions of when and how. Though I have much to learn from him still, I cannot forget that he is an incredibly dangerous subject and it would be folly to keep him alive indefinitely. The sensible thing to do would be to slip poison in his food, or merely to shoot him, but I will learn nothing from such a death.

He lives, for but a while longer.

***

“I gave you what you asked for, alien. Now it your turn to hold up your end of the bargain, and you’ll get your next three kills. How do your people select your targets?”

“Well, we attack simply for new slaves, new sacrifices or new sport. We attack population centres that are poorly defended, space routes that are barely patrolled. When we face any cohesive resistance, it is on our terms; soldiers are always in demand for our arenas, and a space marine or a psyker is particularly valuable. Worthier prey are more of a challenge, and many of our leaders prove their worth by facing the best your Imperium has to offer, or ambushing the fools of the craftworlds. There is no prize more valuable than another eldar.”

“Sickening. Tell me this; the eldar of the craftworlds attack seemingly at random. It is said they attack based on divination. Is this true?”

“You must understand that the fools of the craftworld attack only to protect themselves. Their witches look into the future and try to steer it to their ends. Every seemingly random attack, every raid or war, is to guide them to a safer path.”

“And are they able to predict the future with any degree of accuracy?”

“Oh, yes, human, but it will doom them all. They’ve become so obsessed with fate that they have resigned themselves to the life of a prey species, always seeking the safest path. They fight to slow their death, and so they do nothing to stop it, forever paralysed by their fear. I am also told the future changes the more you look upon it.”

“But your kin do not try to look upon it?”

“There are no psykers in Commorragh, human. It drives them mad, you see, and if they were discovered they would become another prize to be fought over.”

“The depravity of your kin no longer surprises me, alien.”

“I have witnessed your soldiers destroy a city filled with millions of civilians, due to riots at the hands of a few thousand fools and the assassination of a noble. Oh, my kin will happily kill one another, but never on such a scale, and we would never have temerity to say that it was justified.”

“We speak in circles, alien. I have heard all this before. I have a fresh line of inquiry for you now. I want to know about you, your life.”

“I am... I believe the most appropriate word would be incredulous, Lemarche. There is little to tell.”

“Indulge me.”

“I was born in the Dark City, human. Born into a kabal, which gave me some measure of protection. From a young age, I practised the arts of murder and war, and learned to survive on the twilight streets. Before I was even a century in age, my mother was murdered and I was left to fend for myself, a child by our standards. I survived, nonetheless, too unimportant to be a target of intrigue and protected from the less discerning elements of the city by my kabal. I grew older, served in raids against other kabals and I soon left the city to visit other worlds, mostly human worlds, for slaves, as you can guess.

“It was liberating, in a sense, and I recall the first touch of sunlight on my skin, the first flurry of snow, with the same fondness I remember my first battles. I was rash, young and eager to prove my worth, and yet... there is a terror to leaving the Dark City. It protects us, without it we are exposed.”

“Exposed to what?”

“Reality, I suppose. I was carving a niche for myself now, an able warrior, and eventually I killed a rival and became a Sybarite. An honorific title for warriors who have proven themselves worthy of leading raids themselves, and all it had taken was patience and a well-aimed knife. Don’t make that face, Lemarche, assassination is a pastime your species enjoys as well, and for every soldier of repute you can name I see a man drenched in the blood of his own men as much as that of his enemies.

“I grew in favour, foiling several attempts on my own life, of course. It pleased me; finally, I was a worthy target. There is not greater mark of recognition in Commorragh than others trying to kill you. Alas, it ended at the hands of some mon-keigh manning a listening post.”

“How were you captured?”

“Poor luck on my part, excellent on theirs. A stray round. They found my body in the aftermath. They would have killed me, but their commander was intelligent enough to see in me the potential to avoid a court martial. Do you know if he was punished, in the end? Or promoted?”

“He was promoted to glory, we could say.”

“The callousness of your kin no longer surprises me, Gabriel. Now, indulge me. Tell me of yourself, Inquisitor. There, perhaps, is a story worth hearing.”

“You only answer my questions because I offer you something in return, Melekh. You have nothing to offer me,” the Inquisitor replies, rising to his feet.

“Are you sure, Gabriel?” Melekh calls after him as he walks away.

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

Melekh has recovered much of his former overconfidence. I should not have bowed to his demands for more victims, I know this now. Perhaps it is foolish of me to attempt to diagnose an alien mind with human neuroses, but I begin to understand some of his behaviours. He is a prisoner with no control of his destiny whatsoever, but by attempting to manipulate me he gains some false sense of it. It will not do.

He will go without his victims until he is suitably humble. Our...
rapport is a lie.

***

“You’re late.”

“Am I? I was not aware our meetings were scheduled, alien.”

“You’ve not left me alone this long since our little arrangement began. Speaking of which, why haven’t I been provided for? It’s been almost a week.”

“And you look decidedly unhealthy. Tell me, how is withdrawal for your species?”
 
“What prompted this, human?”

“Your arrogance, alien.”

“Nonsense. I never ceased to be arrogant. I have not changed; have you? Or perhaps you merely wish to reassert your power over me... Surely another beating would suffice? Or some time in those pain amplifiers of yours?”

“Hmph. Let us see how glib you are in a few days, alien.”

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

He has lasted well, or at least better than before. He knows I watch him and he tries to hide the agony he surely feels, but I can see the cold sweat and shivering that he shares with any ‘mon-keigh’ addict.

Soon he will be screaming, begging and pleading. And I look forward to it.

***

“Inquisitor! I wondered how long it would be before you came to laugh at me, to mock me and bask in your precious power. Coward! You hid behind these bars and force-fields, terrified of what I am and what I can do...”

“There is a distinction between fear and caution, Melekh, and while I have no desire to mock your plight, I must admit I find it very difficult to summon any fear when I look upon you as you are now. You look half-dead. Going clean is never easy, but perhaps this is a good thing. Perhaps we can break you of your habit.”

“You... don’t understand, mon-keigh! Never did, never could, never will! The Thirst is no trifling addiction, it is a necessity!”

“Is it, now. Melekh. I will give you what you need if you answer my questions. Let’s start easy. Why is the Thirst a necessity?”

“I will tell you nothing, nothing, human, until you uphold your end of the bargain!”

“A bargain? Hardly. One more chance, and then I leave.”

“Leave, then! Leave me to die! I’ll tell you no more, human, I won’t play your twisted games any longer!”

“Very well.”
 
***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

To my surprise, I find myself wondering if I have gone too far now. He lies on his mattress, staring at the ceiling, occasionally writhing as though in pain, and muttering to himself in his alien tongue. I believe he is hallucinating.

The very fact I question myself, question this act is practically heresy. I have denied an alien his victims. Condemned or no, this is a laudable act. But I do not feel guilty, and I admit to no small amount of pleasure at seeing Melekh brought so low.

I begin to wonder if he will even survive much longer.  My path is clear; it is time to question him once again.

***

The alien makes no move when Lemarche approaches. He mumbles faintly to himself.

“You’ve been very quiet, Melekh. Not to mention unmoving. Either your addiction is about to break, or you’re about to die.”

“Worse, human,” he croaks, rising.

“Worse?”

“Considerably.”

His skin is waxy and glistens with sweat. Those once sparkling eyes are now dull, yellowing and sunken.

“What is the true nature of this addiction, this murder-hunger, the Thirst as you called it? I thought it was a simple question but you seem so recalcitrant to tell me that I wonder if there is a deeper significance to which I am ignorant.”

“Of course there is. Ignorance... is the cornerstone of your empire.”

“I am tired of the insults, alien. I swear by my Emperor that if you don’t tell me I’ll leave you to die here. I’ll withhold both your victims and your food, and we shall see if starvation or withdrawal takes you first. I know you are terrified of dying, alien, and it is so very easy for you to live. Answer me!”

“You want the truth, Gabriel?”

“Of course!”

“The true fear our captives have, once they learn it, is not the terrible things that we do to their bodies and their minds, but what we shall inevitably do to their souls...” 

“Riddles, alien. I demand the truth.”

“The Thirst isn’t for killing. It’s for souls, Gabriel. That little spark of warp-presence mankind hardly understands. We need it.”

“Souls? You believe you consume the souls of the dead?”

“No, Gabriel. I know. Your pet psyker, she felt it, when she came here, didn’t she?”

“Don’t you dare mention her, xeno-filth!”

“That was something of an overreaction, Gabriel... Is she dead? She is, isn’t she... A shame. Psykers are much more.... delectable than ‘blunts.’”

“This is stupidity.”

“No, Gabriel, this is the truth you wanted! Our souls are continually eroded, consumed, and the only way to stave off that lingering death is to constantly replenish ourselves.”

“How is such an... erosion even possible?”

“You asked me of the Fall, yes?”

“Another question you avoided answering directly.”

“And this is why. The eldar of old, the empire, did a terrible thing. The empire of the eldar, that had lasted countless millennia, destroyed itself because in their decadence, our ancestors created a god that feasted upon our souls. She Who Thirsts.”

“Am I correct in the assumption that that is what your kind call the Flesh God, Slaan-”

“Do not speak its true name! It eats away at us, quite literally. The fools of the craftworld put their faith in gems and psychic baubles and the harlequins give theirs to a forgotten god. Only my kind, those of the Dark City, have anything approaching a solution. It is why we take so many alive back to the City. Hidden as it is in the webway, it provides us a small measure of protection. But out here I am naked, bare, and I can see it now! I can see it laughing as it consumes my soul. Now. I have given you your answer; now give me what I need!”

“Lies, alien, lies and folklore. Nothing more.”

“Look at me, Gabriel! This is no addiction as you know it. Did your pretty little psyker-girl tell you anything before she died? Yes, I thought so. Do you see, now? Do you understand?”

The Inquisitor makes a warding gesture with his hand.

“You are... tainted by chaos...”

“Damned by our ancestors.”

“Then why do you emulate them? Why does your species not distance itself from those who condemned you all?”

“That is what the exodites do, what the craftworlders do. Fools. It will not save them. In the end, She Who Thirsts will claim us all. So why should we deny ourselves? Why not live all we can and for as long as we can. And perhaps there is salvation, through immortality, for the strongest of us. A few of the oldest amongst us, the lords of ladies of our realm, can remember the Fall. It happened so many thousands of years ago, and yet they have survived this long. That is what we all strive for, why we push and vie for power.”

For the first time, the Inquisitor finds he has no words to say.

“Now, Gabriel... I have something to ask you...”

“They’ll be sent the moment I leave.”

“No, not that... Though... I thank you. My question is simply; why?”

“Why what? Why am I keeping you here? For knowledge, as you well know.”

“No. Not that.”

“Then what, alien? Why did I starve you of your murder, of your... souls? To reassert my dominance over you, as you said. Successfully, it would seem. You knew that from the first moment. It seems you understand me as well as I do you.”

“You do not understand me, mon-keigh!” Melekh growls, as Lemarche knew he would, but he can see in those violet eyes that the alien does understand, and that he, too, is repulsed by the thought of it.

Lemarche knows that revulsion is only one more bond they share.

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

It seems I have finally discovered the truth of Melekh’s addiction, and it sickens me to my very core. These eldar feed upon our very souls, to prolong their twisted lives so they might torture, murder and rape for centuries to come. Nothing could be more repugnant, and though this weakness could perhaps be exploited as was my intention, I find my thoughts run only to the final destruction of their species.

I had always hoped to share my findings with my colleagues within the Ordo Xenos and the wider Inquisition, but it is only now, when I behold the truth in all its profanity, that I question what I have done. I have kept an alien alive, prolonged its life, spoken with it and given it human beings to murder, human souls to consume. Condemned men, perhaps, who deserved to die, but men nonetheless. Can there be any heresy greater than this?

Yes. Though I find to difficult to voice this.... blasphemy, it must be done.

In spite of every scripture, every holy edict, even the very motto of my order, I have formed a connection with this monster.

No longer. I must end this sacrilege.

Melekh dies.


***

In the darkness of the underhive, Designate-Uriel 147 slowly twists its head. Tubular eyes pierce the darkness effortlessly. Its heat sensors detect nothing but the residual presence of its companion-servitor.

Combat servitors are the only logical choice for sentries down here in the darkness. They will never wonder what it is they guard, never question orders and even after years of silence they will never grow bored.

For the first time, there is a sudden movement. It turns to see Designate-Barachiel 12’s throat slit with a burst of blood. The servitor’s head sags, flesh limp within its metal chassis.

A pale thing, all pointed ears, teeth and blades stands behind it, flesh rippling, blending into the surrounding gloom.

Designate-Uriel 147 fires, but there is no impact. The creature is simply gone.

Auto-senses warn the servitor; more targets. It spins to face them. They wear blur-suits, and though it opens fire it cannot seem to strike the leaping, writhing shadows. They send disciplined bursts of splinters in reply, tearing through flesh, cabling and nutrient-tubes. Designate-Uriel 147’s vision fades, but it catches a glimpse of light on a blade before it is killed.

Perhaps the expression on its face is surprise.

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

I record this in haste. My sentries have been killed and their murderers are moving inside the complex.

The eldar are here. They have found my fastness, and though it is well fortified I know not to underestimate these aliens. I doubt my defences will hold, and I must place my hope in my servitors, my retainers and what little staff I have to see them off.

I do not expect any one of us to survive the night.

Explicator Rephaim rallies them now. I have told him a little of these aliens in the past, but he has no idea of the horror of what it is he faces. No doubt he will learn quickly.

Soon I will join them, but first I must attend to Melekh.

I know they are here for him. Did he summon them here, somehow, or have they other ways of tracking him? And do they come here to save or to execute him?

It seems that even now, with the beasts of hell at my gates, I must have answers.

I pray that these notes come to light. I urge any of my colleagues who find this log and the transcripts of my conversations with Melekh to study them, learn from them so that we might better face that which will surely kill me. For all that they damn me to accusations of radicalism, xenophilia and worse... Heed them.


***

“You! Alien!”

“Gabriel! An unexpected pleasure.”

“Not now, Melekh. My sentries lie dead, by the hands of your kin.”

“They do? I hope you’re not implicating me, Gabriel; I’m as surprised as you are.”

“Whether or not you found a way to contact them, I know they have come here for you. Do they come to save you, alien? Or have they come to kill you, for your weakness, for your betrayal?”

Melekh shrugs, infuriatingly.

“How do they know, Melekh? And why should they care? Your kind care nothing for one another, as you yourself told me. Tell me the truth!”

“I have told you only truth. I have explained my people to you, our nature, our freedom and the curse we endure. And you, human, did not listen.

“No more games! Truth, alien, or I shoot you now to spite them,” Lemarche hisses, face inches from the sizzling power field.

“Spite. Surely you’re above that?”

“Apparently not.”

He reaches for the control panel to deactivate the power field, the gun steady in his hand.

In his anger, he has made the simplest of mistakes. He has moved too close to the bars.

Melekh seizes his hand and pulls it between them, twisting the wrist. The gun falls into his waiting hands.

Roaring, Lemarche tears his hand free and hammers it into the control panel. The power field crackles back into life.

“Nice try,” he gasps.

Melekh holds the pistol almost nonchalantly.

“And now you can’t risk lowering the power field to shoot me. And I know you have no other way to kill me, human. I have searched every inch of this cell for anything that would allow you to kill me remotely. A foolish oversight.”

“You remain trapped. You’ll starve, alien. No souls, no food... I wonder which will kill you first?”

“Assuming you are somehow able to defeat your invaders, yes. I must say... I rather like my chances.”

The Inquisitor turns away, seething.

“Warp take you,” he spits.

***

The blast-door will not hold them for long, Rephaim knows. His gaze flickers from the door to his pistol and back. Behind the makeshift cover of overturned desks and furniture, the skeleton-staff wait, checking their own weapons and trying to hide their own fears. Even the tech-adepts seem afraid. Only the servitors remain calm, unencumbered by emotion, weapons trained unerringly on the door before them.

He ought to say something.

“We must stand firm. We can see these aliens off. This is a choke point! We will show them the justice of the Emperor! And when–”

Without warning, the door crumples and collapses. The blurred shapes of the eldar emerge from the darkness beyond, and seem to carry some of it with them as they enter.

“Fire!” someone cries, but the defenders are already doing so. The aliens do have nowhere to hide, but they weave and dance within the fields projected by their blur-suits. They seem to vault on empty space, avoiding the lasbolts that boil the air around them. Only one falls, torn apart by the bolter-fire of a servitor.

Needles and crystalline shards splinter wood and tear through flesh. The aliens fire measured bursts, each hitting their mark, and yet these are no detached, professional soldiers. Each shot is designed to wound, to incapacitate. None is a clean kill. 

The conscripts lie screaming or gasping, bleeding and fainting.

The eldar shift their attentions entirely to the servitors. Some of these fight even while dozens of shards jut from their remaining flesh, and the eldar are forced to make use of the overturned desks themselves before they combine their fire or make use of heavier weaponry to disintegrate the corpse-soldiers.

Rephaim risks a glance, and narrowly avoids a stream of splinter-fire. He can hear more of them splitting the wood of his paltry cover, and he fires wildly around the corner in spite of all his training and sense.

Behind him, he sees a servitor writhing in pain from some alien toxin that courses through what little bloodstream remains. The sound of lasfire and stubber fire dies away, now, and even the hiss of the alien weaponry falls silent. Rephaim realises he is alone.

They have not forgotten him; they unleash a hail of splinters at the desk and one finally pierces his flesh. He howls in pain, and he can feel that this one, too, was poisoned. His vision is dimming, his limbs grow heavy...

With a shaking hand, he raises his gun to his mouth.

A slender hand tears it away, and he collapses.

The sound he hears as he slips into darkness is unmistakeably laughter. 

***

The alarms are still screaming.

Lemarche runs to his chambers, to find a new weapon, to contact Rephaim, to come up with some kind of plan, but there is something lying on a corridor before him and he knows what it is before he even looks.

A body, soaked in its own blood. He crouches to examine it. A woman. Knife-wounds on her torso. She died in pain.

They are inside, then. Rephaim has failed him. He will be dead or worse.

Lemarche realises he has two options; run or hide. No doubt the aliens will have every entry point guarded, and no doubt they will be checking every wardrobe and cabinet for cowards. It is not a choice he would like to make, but with a rising terror he realises he may not have to.

Perhaps it is an air current he feels behind him, or perhaps he realises the body was left as bait, because he starts to turn and the knife strikes him in the arm instead of the heart.

A flash of pain. A splash of blood.

The creature behind him fades into view, ripples of colour chasing one another before it resolves into something that, while clearly eldar, is also something far more horrifying. A sharp face locked into a lipless grins bares its fangs at him.

He half leaps, half stumbles to the side, dodging a back-handed swipe of the knife, and the creature advances on him slowly, cocking its head in an almost avian manner.

He can see that it is weighing him, that it knows he is unarmed and defenceless. Though he can make out no detail of the eyes, Lemarche can see the urge to kill fighting with the urge to toy with him first.

He feigns weakness – all too easily, for the pain is great and he is bleeding quicker than he had expected – and the alien stabs at his leg.

He doesn’t try to dodge the blow, knowing the creature has no intention of killing him. Instead, he twists his leg the second the blade hits home and slams his fist into the alien’s face.

It staggers backwards, nose broken, bright blood streaming down its face.

Despite his effort, the knife, dripping and red, is still clasped in its hand, and he is on the ground, trying not to cry out from the pain.

The next strike will be to kill, he knows, and the alien is far too fast for him. He must strike first.

A surge of adrenaline carries him to his feet and he barrels into it, bearing it to the ground under him. He grabs the hand with the knife and hammers it into the floor again and again until it drops from slick fingers. The alien tears with its other hand at the wound on his arm, and moves to bite him. Gabriel hammers an elbow into the already broken nose, and now its hands fly to its face.

He grabs the knife and stabs, again and again, until he is certain that the alien is dead. Then he collapses beside it, drenched in blood.

Lemarche knows he cannot stop, cannot rest, especially not here. He tears at his trousers, speed-dressing his arm and leg wounds. The wound on his arm is particularly deep, and though he tightens a tourniquet he is light-headed from loss of blood.

He rolls to face the alien corpse, moving to grab the knife, sticky with congealing blood. He catches sight of a thin, curved pistol strapped to the alien’s back.

Though he feels sickened, tainted even, to use the work of an alien hand that has known no blessings from Emperor nor Omnissiah, a weapon without a soul, Lemarche knows he has little option and takes it.

It is light, too light, and warm to the touch. There is a stud instead of a trigger and a blade attached, upon which serpentine glyphs are engraved. It repulses him more, now, but it will serve.

He stands and walks, stiffly. He knows running is out of the question, and he is leaving a trail of blood no predator could resist following in his wake. He cannot hide.

If am already dead, he muses, then I have nothing left to lose.

He turns back towards the cells.

I vowed I would end the blasphemy, and whether they have come to end him or save him, I will deny these aliens Melekh.

I will kill him myself.

« Last Edit: May 03, 2010, 12:54:52 PM by Inquisitor Sargoth »
One More Hit - A tale of addiction.

Offline Inquisitor Sargoth

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Re: One More Hit
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2010, 11:57:04 PM »
Lemarche curses softly to himself, cradling his wounded arm to his chest. His progress is, quite literally, agonisingly slow as he descends the screwstair to the cell-block. Usuallly the light here is painfully bright, aseptic, but now it is dim.

He limps past empty cell after empty cell, his eyes drawn to the bloodied corpse of an eldar soldier.

It can only mean one thing. Melekh is free.

It seems they did come to kill Melekh, or at least this one did. No doubt this alien would have succeeded if it hadn’t been for the pistol he took from me...

He stops, looking around, listening, even sniffing the air for some hint, some clue as to the alien’s location. There is none.

Does he want to distance himself from his former prison?

No. That’s not how he thinks.


“You’re here, aren’t you, Melekh? You’re hiding somewhere, waiting for me. Well, here I am! Let us end this, alien. I vowed you would die by my hand, and you promised the same. Here is your chance!”

“Gabriel. You really are a sharp one, aren’t you?”

He feels a cold pressure on the nape of his neck before he can turn, before he can even cry out.

“Melekh,” he sighs.

“What happened to you?”

“I met your friends.”

“Killed them, did you? Nice gun. I’m impressed.”

“Perhaps it would be more appropriate if we were to swap,” Lemarche replies, smiling as only a dead man can smile.  

“Just drop it, Gabriel.”

He lowers the evil little weapon onto the ground in front of him.

“Do it, then.”

“Do what? Kill you, now? You know we eldar like to savour our kills, Gabriel...”

“Not you, Melekh. You need the souls too badly,” he replies, slowly turning to face that familiar, hateful face, now filled with a hideous vigour.

“Not anymore, Gabriel. I’m not your pet anymore.”

“No, you’re free. And I’m helpless, yours to kill. And yet, to my own amazement, I find myself wondering if you will do it.”

“Why would I spare you? You imprisoned me. You even tortured me, tried to torture me. ”

“I have no idea. I know only that you have already spared my life once.”

“What do you-”

“When you took my gun. You’re fast, alien. You could easily have shot me in the back before I reactivated the power field, and yet you didn’t. Why?”

“Murder the only man who might open my cage if my people failed to rescue me?”

“You lie, Melekh. And though I no longer have any power over you... I ask again.”

“Why did you keep me alive, Gabriel? That is your answer.”

“I see.”

Melekh beams.
 
“And do you still want to learn more, Melekh?”

“Why, Gabriel... Are you asking me to spare you? I feel, perhaps, begging might be more appropriate...”

Lemarche moves to strike the alien, but Melekh fires, lasbolts biting into his shoulder. He collapses to the floor again, twisting around to face away from the predatory grin.

“Gabriel. You locked me in a cage. You manipulated me, starved me and tortured me, all because you wanted to understand me, understand my kind. Well, I’ll grant you your wish. I’m finding my way back to the Dark City, human, and you are coming with me.”

Hatred bubbles in the alien’s voice as it whispers in his ear.

“How very... karmic...” Lemarche gurgles.

He realises that he is lying on top of the alien pistol, and grasps it in a slick hand.

“Contemno xenos,” he gasps.

“Gabriel?”

He cannot face Melekh, the alien cannot see the pistol until it is too late.

“Caedo xenos...”

He turns the gun so that it faces his own body.

“Drop it, human!” Melekh screams.

The laspistol flares again and again, lasbolts searing and slicing through the flesh of Lemarche’s back.

“D-defaeco... xenos.”

 Eyes pressed shut, he squeezes the stud.

A spray of splinters tears through him and into Melekh. The gun slides from his hands, and he twists his shredded body to see the eldar lying behind him.

Their eyes lock, burning with reckless hate. Even as She Who Thirsts encircles him, feathering razor-kisses over his broken flesh, Melekh reaches out to what remains of the Inquisitor, slender fingers forcing open his mouth...

***

The vehicle skims over the uneven floor, aged grav-motor whining. A grav-skiff is the fastest way to negotiate the treacherous underhive, but the Judge finds herself wishing for the protection of a Rhino transport, built to weather the harshest terrain and the fiercest riot.

It is not to protect her from the savage, forgotten people that inhabit of this dark place, but from the sights, sounds and the stench of blood that cuts through the centuries-old miasma.

Most of all, it is to protect her from the stares.

She has seen the underhive before, hunted fugitives and put down  riots and even nascent uprisings. She has seen their eyes filled with anger, hate, jealousy, and this is worse.

They look at her, eyes pleading, some filled with tears. Some look at her without any expression at all. A few call after her, and though they speak their own pidgin Gothic she understands enough to know that for the first time in memory these abandoned people are asking her for justice.

And she knows she cannot give it to them.

The scale of the massacre will never be known; these people are recorded in no census, and were it not for the nature of this atrocity it would have been happily ignored by the hive above.

Instead, it joins the underhive in fear.

The skiff leaves the shanty-towns behind, slowing as it negotiates the tangled ruins, the ash-wastes made up of collapsed buildings, crumbled stone, twisted metal and powdered glass.

Things live out here, too. She can see them scuttling in the darkness, and she unclasps the holster of her pistol.

“We’re here, ma’am,” her pilot calls, raising his voice over the engine’s omnipresent thrum.

She turns to see what looks like any other fallen building. Powerful lights have been set up around it, turning a tiny patch of the endless midnight into day, a fragile beachhead in a world of darkness.

They pull up alongside it and she half jumps, half steps off the vehicle with impressive grace. Her hands fly to a pouch on her belt, pulling out a cigarette and a book of matches. Usually she tries to refrain when she’s on duty, but right now she doesn’t care.

These things are going to kill me one day, she muses.

The enforcers greet her with nods as they keep watch. Behind them, a tall man detaches himself from a muted argument to speak to her.

“I was wondering when you’d turn up. Commandant Ines. I’m in command here.”

“No longer. I am Regulator Traea. Apprise me.”

“Direct. How refreshing. Our initial sweeps of ground zero chanced upon this. We’ve since sent a few teams in to explore – it’s quite a big facility down there. We’ve no idea how old, but it was well maintained, at least until...”

“The massacre. I understand. Do we know who owned this facility?”

“Sort of, Regulator, but perhaps I ought to show you.”

“Very well. Quickly, then.”

Ines switches on a lantern.

“Come on in.”

She stamps out her cigarette with both a pang of guilt at contaminating the scene, though the enforcers have already seen to that, and a twinge of irritation that most of it will go to waste.

The door was a heavy bulkhead, several inches thick. It lies in pieces.

She steps through, gingerly, and feels the gorge rising in her throat. She had been expecting something like this, but Throne, the smell...

Bodies have been arranged in rough piles, and even a t a cursory glance she can see that they have all been heavily mutilated. Some fragments have been hung from the trailing wires of smattered glow-globes.

The furnishings have been utterly destroyed. Clearly there was a struggle. Whoever these people were, at least they went out fighting.

“Sorry, I should have warned you. Our theory is that this was their real target, the massacre... well, that just a result of the people being in the way.”

“Why?”

“Look at the walls, miss.”

A rebuke for his familiarity catches in her throat when she sees that there are symbols daubed in flaking blood. Serpentine glyphs, sinister and suggestive. Alien.

Below these, warnings and vulgar threats have been rendered in both High and Low Gothic. The walls are a cacophony of hate.

“Now look here.”

She turns to look where he is shines his lantern. It was clearly once a door, now cracked and warped open, but even on that bubbled surface, the embossed symbol of the Inquisition is clear to see through the distortion.

“The Inquisition?”

“Apparently so. Look again.”

In a corner of the tortured metal, three words have been scrawled, more terrifying than the runes, the inelegant threats or even the mutilated bodies.

“God-Emperor...”

“Aye. Let us hope He is with us, Regulator.”

“Seal this place. Send no-one else inside, ensure nobody gets inside. This place holds secrets we have no right to know. It should be destroyed, but for now... I must consult my superiors.”

“Very well, Regulator.”

She reaches with shaking fingers for another cigarette, and as she leaves she cannot stop herself from glancing once more that simple, chilling promise.

We shall return.  
« Last Edit: June 01, 2010, 02:38:31 AM by Inquisitor Sargoth »
One More Hit - A tale of addiction.