Author Topic: Defiant Echoes  (Read 29331 times)

Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #90 on: June 19, 2012, 09:25:11 AM »
The marshal replied: "Such a cooperation could further our aims here, how do you propose that we would go about it?"

Semplice thought for a moment before saying: "A meeting in person would be the best option. The security of these channels is not assured. Where are you located marshal?"

"I have made landing near a city which has come under attack by bombers. It is near a river if I'm not mistaken, we are 130km west of the town."

"Then I shall make my way to you as soon as these aerial attacks have stopped, when we are on our way I will request additional information to allow us to locate you. May the Emperor's light shine on you."
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Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #91 on: June 22, 2012, 05:32:29 PM »
"Wait."

Semplice paused, torn between uncertainty and disapproval of the Marshal's tone.

"You are not the only member of the Inquisition on this world," Ravion stated. "There is a small chance that you may have come across my contact in the Inquisition -- the one who brought us to Coriolis Alpha."

"We?" Semplice queried. "Then you are not alone."

"I have a squad of Arbites under my command," Ravion reported.

"One squad will not be enough to retake a world beset by the Emperor's foes," Semplice reminded him.

"As true as that is, Lord Amphil, our mission parameters evidently changed with the enemy's arrival," Ravion explained calmly. "We were brought here for another purpose."

"By your contact among the Inquisition, with whom you are hoping I am familiar," Semplice observed. "Very well. And I trust this individual has a name?"

"The name he gave was Andreas Tuominen."

Semplice froze as something in his mind unexpectedly snapped into place.

Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #92 on: June 24, 2012, 06:29:01 AM »
As she tried to keep in the wake of Haines, forging through the crowd with his bulk, Riley found herself considerably regretting the choice to try and meet with Andreas. The voxes were dead, and if the agent had manifested any of the considerable sense he appeared to be blessed with, he wouldn't be within a kilometre of the apartments by now.

The only hope now was escaping the destruction, and hoping that they could figure out where Andreas might have gone - a thought that only added to her growing sense of isolation.
She had seen and heard nothing of her aides since the Asculum's destruction. No word from Steren or Jael, and the Sword of Integrity remained silent to vox hails.

It was Ambrose who mercifully distracted her from the circling thoughts of pessimism.
    "What do we know about this place? Have we got any underground escape? Catacombs? Rail tunnels? I'll even take a sewer, if it's large enough."

Another missile curved overhead, and she instinctively flinched in expectation as it came close to the rooftops to her left, but it carried on past, exploding a street or so over.

   "Me? Very little. I hadn't planned to come anywhere near here. I can guess though."
   "Go on..."
   "It calls itself a city, so it's got to have major infrastructure. But I'd forget catacombs. The cathedral we saw on the way in will be rubble by now, it's too tempting a target. Sewers though - well, I'd say from the general technological level..."

Riley's vox chirped.
   "Lady Hallona, can you hear me?"
   "Not now, Chain! I'm more than a little pre..."

She tailed off as she realised what words were coming out of her mouth.

   "Chain? You're alive! How in the name of all the saints are you on this channel? I thought this frequency was jammed."
   "Proximity advantage."
   "Proximity advantage? From orbit?!"
   "No."
   "Then where..."

She lost focus as the drone of another craft coming in low overhead inspired a sudden sense of self preservation. She glanced around, but none of the nearby standing structures offered any protection at all against a direct hit from a turbolaser or missile.
It was only when her eyes passed over Madoc, directing his attention not sideways, but up, that she actually thought to do the same.

   "...oh."

Supported by the thunderous roar of twin RX-60-22 engines, a black Arvus Lighter was determinedly descending down towards the gridlocked street.

   "Madoc! Ambrose!"
   "Who is it? More traitors?"
   "No, it's the cavalry. But we'll have about six seconds to get onboard before everyone else wants a ride out of here. We don't have the time for that."

The Arvus came to a hover a foot or so above the roofs of the strewn vehicles, the rear ramp creeping open. The shadows within curled back, Ekkehardt's bulky form looming from their depths out onto the ramp.

All three Inquisitors crossed the distance as fast as was humanly possible, but it was Madoc who made it there first, climbing onto the roof of the nearest car and offering his hand to Riley. Pulling her up onto the car and then lifting her up the step, he handed her to the waiting enforcer.

The scream of an approaching bomber didn't encourage him to wait any longer, and he pushed Ambrose aboard rather less gracefully, before following with no shortage of haste.

   "Coghead, get us out of here!", Ekkehardt mashed the door controls as soon as Madoc's hand had found something to grab onto.
   "Already on it.", came the slightly mechanical reply.

The new passengers had barely had time to find seats and snap their harnesses into place when the engines re-vectored, delivering their violent punch of acceleration.

   "Ekkehardt. Chain. You have no idea how glad and grateful I am."
   "It's our job. Now", he jabbed his finger at Ambrose opposite,  "tell me who he is."
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 09:55:23 AM by MarcoSkoll »
S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
Birgen: "Pick a window. I'll demonstrate".

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Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #93 on: June 27, 2012, 11:12:36 AM »
The small group was moving through the ruins, still trying to leave the city when a pair of trucks emerged from the smoke. In front of them ran a young man carrying a child, fleeing in panic. Then they heard shots, the man fell and the rightmost truck ran over them.

As soon as they had seen the trucks the group had hidden themselves, knowing that there were many enemies in the city. Attached to the truck there was a banner bearing the rune of the Dark Powers. Antero whispered: “Stay hidden, don’t let them find us.”

The trucks moved past them, but suddenly they stopped and soldiers jumped out, each with a piece of red cloth tied around their helmets. Before anyone could react Pantariste had opened fire, a single lasbolt hit one of the soldiers, burning through his face and killing him outright. The soldiers reacted by immediately seeking cover. Everyone was shooting now.

Nogal knew that they were not going to win, they were outnumbered and would soon be surrounded. Especially with Tettares being much slower and less effective than usual. She was unsuited to this but still was shooting, not hitting anything.

A few minutes after the bombers had left Karnak said: “My lord, we have re-established contact with those in the city.”

Semplice immediately spoke to Tettares: “Iota Tettares, how is your condition?”

Iota whispered back, speaking slowly: “We are in Coveton, renegades are attacking. I feel somnolent, my vision is blurry and my aim is insufficient.”

“How did you get in this state? Have you informed Nogal?”

“I don’t know how this state came to be, I did inform her but she did not reply.”

“Tech-Priestess Minoris Nogal, what has caused this state in Tettares?”

Meanwhile the traitors were coming closer. They had the advantage of numbers and basic skill, but the servants of the inquisition were well-protected by the rubble and their own accurate fire. Antero called: “We must disengage, or we shall be overwhelmed.”

Nogal replied to Semplice: “My lord, her present state is caused by the injections I gave her based on the orders I received. I thought it wise not to inform her.”

“I never gave such orders, but now I order you to restore her to her normal state. As soon as that is done, inform me.”

Nogal immediately called Tettares: “Come here, miss Tethras, I will give you something to make you feel better.”
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Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #94 on: June 29, 2012, 09:14:32 PM »
"Tanis, cover her," Andreas advised, rising to fire a three-round burst into the nearest enemy soldier. The heretic was too slow to get into cover, or too headstrong, and dropped down dead with a glowing hole in his chest.

"Blood for the Blood God!" shouted another heretic -- ostensibly making himself out to be the group's leader, his patchy overcoat a shabby mockery of an officer or Commissar's greatcoat and his face daubed with what Andreas hoped was blood -- and Andreas ducked back behind the wall as the enemy surged forwards.

They were on the outskirts of town, in a poor residential district that must have been hit earlier than the others. Most of the fires had died down by now, although Andreas could still see flames devouring shops and houses in the distance. Entire streets had been levelled by the bombers, although Andreas couldn't tell whether it was entirely the result of the bombers' weapons, or whether it was collateral damage to one building affecting the structural integrity of the rest. As far as he could tell, he was fortunate that there were still bits of wall standing to hide behind.

They'd taken cover in the remains of a house at the base of a low hill. Fortunately for Andreas, the road running up the hill was no longer navigable by ground vehicles, owing to a giant rubble-filled crater some forty metres from their position, although he didn't want to assume that he was safe from a flanking attack. As far as he could tell, however, there were currently five heretics charging over a pile of rubble towards him, with the possibility of more en route.

"Miss Dovin, how is Iona?" Andreas asked, daring to glance behind him as Sergeant Tanis took out a heretic's knee and sent him sprawling.

"Skulls for the Skull Throne!" roared a heretic as he aimed a pistol at Dovin, but missed as he lost his footing.

"Not at her best," Dovin answered, apparently oblivious to the fighting.

"Tell us something we don't know, cog-bitch," Tanis sniped as she finished off the downed heretic with a perfect headshot. She brought her lasgun around to fire at the remaining heretics, but her shots went wide.

"Very well. The compound with which I have injected Miss Tethras is intended to stimulate the production of norepinephrine, so as to --"

"Kill them in mighty Khar'neth's name!" a heretic bellowed, and Andreas turned around in time to shoot an enemy soldier in the stomach at point-blank range.

"Whatever it is you're doing, get on with it!" Tanis shouted back at Dovin.

"I am trying, but the process is not instantaneous. It will take some time before --"

"Mighty Khar'neth will have your blood, Imperial dog!" the heretic agitator roared, bringing a fire axe down where Andreas had been standing mere seconds ago. Andreas swiped at the heretic with the butt of his lasgun, but his enemy dodged Andreas' clumsy attack and lashed out with his axe again. He missed and the axe head buried itself in a pile of rubble.

Behind the heretics' trucks, Andreas fancied that he could glimpse a Chimera parking itself at the base of the hill, but his immediate enemy demanded his attention and Andreas' first instinct was to leap backwards as the heretic freed his axe. Oddly, though he carried a stub gun, he hadn't displayed the sense to use it.

"Khar'neth demands blood! Blood for the Blood God!" the heretic continued.

"I can't imagine beggars can be choosers," Andreas retorted, blowing the heretic's arm off at the elbow, before following up with a trio of shots to the face that cremated his head and set the stump of his neck on fire. Incredibly, the heretic managed another faltering step before tripping over a loose slab of masonry and falling forwards.

The rattle of what sounded like an oversized autogun sent Andreas diving for cover on instinct, and he dared to peer around the side of the wall as another heretic trooper panned a heavy stubber back and forth, peppering the ruin with bullets. Behind the man was another individual, smaller in stature, skulking behind the larger heavy as another two heretics dismounted from their truck. At the back was the vehicle Andreas had mistaken for a Chimera.

"How the hell did they get a Salamander?" Tanis asked, joining Andreas behind the wall as the vehicle's gunner angled the autocannon up towards them.

"I'm not sure I want to know," Andreas answered.

---

"Now tell me who he is," Kuefer snarled, pointing at Barkley.

"Ser Barkley is--" Haines began, but Barkley cut him off.

"Madoc, with respect, I can speak for myself," Barkley told Haines pointedly, and ignoring Haines' raised eyebrow, he turned back to Kuefer. "My name is Ambrose Barkley. An Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus."

"And there I was thinking ser Haines tagging along was bad enough," Kuefer muttered. "No offence."

"Be grateful that I'm not easily offended, Kuefer," Haines retorted. "Although ser Barkley informs me that his motives for being here are separate from our own."

"My lady, I trust ser Haines is telling the truth?" Kuefer asked, turning to Hallona.

"As far as we can tell, Inquisitor Barkley hasn't shown much personal interest in that big red bastard up in orbit," Hallona answered. "He tells us he's come here to chase a rogue xenographer."

"We're dealing with xenos as well?"

"Not as such, though given recent events I wouldn't even put it past the Despoiler to put in a personal appearance."

Kuefer managed a half-hearted smile at Hallona's comment. "So what's this xenographer's name?"

"We think it's Mouritz Khan, although he's probably using an alias," Haines explained. "Although we've got very little to go on, and in fact with the present Chaos incursion, Khan's either gone to ground, or holed up somewhere the bombers haven't hit yet. Or have already hit."

A short, almost mirthful cough from Barkley caught Haines' attention.

"I'm guessing there's something you neglected to tell us earlier?" Hallona inquired, her command of tact still impaired by her concussion.

"You could say that," Barkley replied. "I didn't bring this up in Vice-Admiral Burnett's company, for fear that he'd assume the situation to be worse than it is. And in fairness, I was hesitant to tell you earlier, for similar reasons."

"Just tell us," Kuefer interrupted, his voice dangerously close to a growl.

Barkley looked first at Kuefer, then at Hallona. "There never was a Mouritz Khan."
« Last Edit: June 30, 2012, 11:51:49 AM by Koval »

Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #95 on: June 30, 2012, 04:24:27 PM »
Nogal was busy with Tettares. She had to be careful with the substances she was administering to her. The usual maintenance already was a fine balancing act, but attempting to radically alter her state under the present circumstances took a lot of concentration. The questions from the others certainly did not help. She had attached several arcane devices to Iota, permanently measuring the reaction to the powerful mixtures.

The gunfire was distracting but she filtered it out, focusing only on the task at hand. She asked: “How is your vision?”

“It is improving, but remains blurry.”

Nogal handed Iota to small device and said: “You will hear a beep, as soon as you hear it, push the button, like we usually do.”

She kept going like this for a while until she started hearing a new sound, much louder and conveying more power, the fast series of explosions could easily be felt in her chest. Nogal said: “Reaction time back to 69,43 milliseconds. This should be sufficient. Now, how do you feel?”

“Things are still blurry and slow, but much less than before, everything is much clearer now.”

Nogal contacted the inquisitor again and he immediately spoke to Tettares: “Iota Tettares, I have other affairs to handle first. This Antero is lying to you, do not trust him but keep him alive, he knows much. Retreat to a viable landing place where I shall retrieve you. This will take a few hours, be careful. You must be strong and loyal, and obey only my orders. You are my chief operative. I will inform you when I come for you. Do not fail, show no mercy think only of your devotion.”

Tettares answered: “Yes my lord”, which was just loud enough to be audible to the others who were present while one of the heretics attacked Nogal, she ran him through with her chainsword in an elegant movement.
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #96 on: June 30, 2012, 05:42:11 PM »
Antero ducked back as the Salamander's autocannon opened fire, smashing several new holes in the brickwork and sending fragments flying through the room.
Fortunately, the weapon fell silent a few seconds later, the feed tray spent for the moment.

   "We're going to have to flank that thing.", Antero panted, his heart racing, "It'll take this building to pieces we let it keep up fire."
   "I'm not making a run for it while that heavy stubber's up there. Did you want to?", Tanis snapped as she looked back out again, firing for the two roaring heretics charging at them.

Her shots put down the one on the left before the heavy stubber let loose at her and she retreated into cover again.

The second made it into the room, firing for Dovin with a sidearm as he drew a large and serrated bayonet knife from his belt.
  "Blood for the..."

Iona didn't bother letting the soldier finish the now long since trite battle cry, running him through with her chainsword, blood spraying wildly from the spinning teeth. He collapsed into a heap as the the rattle of the heavy stubber opened up again, the group instinctively taking cover.

   "They must be having trouble with the Salamander." Antero shouted over the gunfire. "They've stopped firing."

As the heavy stubber cut off again, he risked peering over the edge again. His view was still obscured, but even from here, he could see the driver's hatch was wide open. His eyes fell onto the frag grenades hanging from the webbing of the dead heretics littering the room.   

   "The hatch is open. If I can flank it... Tanis, get some suppressing fire on the heavy stubber."

Tanis nodded, raising herself to get a bead on the gunner's location. She had to look twice when her sight picture came into focus.

   "...He's dead.", she ducked back into the cover.
   "Dead?", Antero hesitated.
   "Unless decapitation is survivable where you come from.", came the snarky response.

He again chanced a glance around the half demolished wall, looking towards where the gun had once been. Exactly as Pantarise had said, the gunner's neck was cut clean through, his head some three metres from where it should have been. Although none of him was in the right place - his body faced away from the ruins of the house, his weapon directed towards the Salamander at the base of the hill.

   "I'm not sure whether that's a relief.", he muttered, "Where did the loader go?"

The words had barely past his lips when the sound of automatic weapons and yells came from one of the few remaining walls of what had once been the room. He raised his lasgun for where he guessed the sound was coming from, but just as his finger tightened to take a blind shot through the wall, the brickwork pulverised, exploding inwards.

Two figures smashed through the flying debris, crashing into a heap in the centre of the room. One was clearly the heretic trooper, his body broken. The other, on top, was lithe and feminine. With the crack of breaking bones, she grabbed the trooper's head, wrenching his neck around as a redundantly violent coup de grace.

Standing up, her view panned around the room, disregarding the three women pointing various weapons at her, until she finally saw what she wanted to.

   "Andreas. Finally.", Steren sighed.

~~~~~

Thirty seconds earlier:

The autocannon thudded its feed tray empty, and the reload began, dropping new shells onto the waiting surface.

The commander looked back behind the Salamander as he waited, and almost instantly jumped out of his skin. Climbing onto the rear of the vehicle was a slim woman in a torn dress. He could have sworn that she couldn't have been there - there was nowhere for her to have come from - but be there she was, and she was possessed of a terrifying confidence.

In an instinctive panic, his hand snapped to his holster. Raising the stub-auto for her face as fast as his body would allow, he pulled the trigger.

The motion was impossible. It couldn't have happened, but it must have. The woman's fingers were around his wrist, and his loader dropped dead, the pistol's sights pointed squarely at his face.

Steren wrenched the commander's arm around again, turning it and its pistol back on him. Neither pain or surprise had time to register on his face before her fingers arced, bio-lightning surging into the muscle of his arm. His fingers sharply tightening, the pistol went off again and he went limp.
She gingerly lifted the stubber out of his dead hand and let his arm loose, dropping him to the gun deck.

There was shouting inside the front of the vehicle now, and she vaulted the armoured mantlet just before the top hatch opened. The driver's hand exposed on the hatch's handle, she grasped his wrist in a steel grip, pulling him straight up and out of his seat. His head lolling under the rapid acceleration, it caught a hard edge of the small opening and wrenched around with the snap of a splintering spine.

Tossing his ragdolled body at the side of the nearest truck, she dropped down to one knee, the gunner's torso visible through the hatchway. His movements were rapid and jerked, scrambling for a sidearm. She didn't let him, firing several shots from her stolen stubber into the interior.

By now, her gunfire had someone else's attention. The heavy stubber team turned for her. Leaping from the vehicle, she broke into a sprint, firing the stub-auto for the group until it clicked empty and was cast aside.
As she ran, each individual impact stitching its way across the ground towards her was as clear as day, and she dug her right foot in, changing course around the gunner's aim.

She focused further, her reactions and senses resolving each bullet into a clear path in the air, and twisted as the next muzzle flash came, the bullet missing through the space she should have been in.

She was close to him now. She leapt. His head flew loose, the bone blades extending from the tips of her fingers slick with his blood.

Her run continued, chasing after the fleeing loader into the terrace of ruined houses. Out of the corner of her eye, an autogun spat at her, but she ran past, shifting ahead of his shots and looping around. He let loose a terrified scream the instant before she smashed into him and took them both through the wall behind.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2012, 06:28:24 PM by MarcoSkoll »
S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
Birgen: "Pick a window. I'll demonstrate".

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Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #97 on: July 07, 2012, 09:03:51 AM »
Nobody was willing to break the tension in the Arvus after Barkley's revelation. Hallona's face was contorting between confusion, anger, amazement, and disgust as she stared at Barkley, whereas Chain, silent until now, was trying to make sense of what Barkley might have meant.

It was Haines who opened his mouth first, but Kuefer who actually spoke.

"What the bloody hell do you mean, there never was a Mouritz Khan?" he growled at long last.

"I meant exactly what I just said," Barkley answered simply.

"So if I understand this correctly, you've been stringing us along with talk of a manhunt for someone who doesn't even exist?" Hallona asked. "And this is coming out only now for what reason?"

"It had better be a good one," Kuefer added.

"If you insist," Barkley shrugged, doing his best to mask how well he understood the gravity of his present situation. "I trust you're all familiar, at least in passing, with the history of Coriolis Alpha?"

"Barkley, I don't know if you've realised this, but you, Haines, and myself are all Inquisition," Hallona snapped. "I think we know well enough about the bloody war."

"Ah. Then you will also be aware of the Nemurax entity," Barkley answered. "And, no doubt, of Inquisitor Memphis, of the Ordo Hereticus. Your own Ordo, Riley, if memory serves."

"Just spit it out," Hallona grumbled.

"You'll remember the scrap code?" Barkley asked, and Haines could see a light suddenly turn on in Chain's head.

"How couldn't... scrap code?" Hallona managed.

"The encrypted message," Haines interjected, half prompting her.

"I think that it, Memphis, and Nemurax are all linked," Barkley explained. "And I'm here to see if that's the case. But more importantly, I'm also here to find out what it was that made Memphis turn away from the Emperor."

"And I trust there's a reason for your interest at the very moment when a Traitor Marine shows up in a grand cruiser and demolishes an interdiction fleet?" Haines queried.

"Beyond it coinciding with the scrap code?" Barkley countered. "Gelert -- that's to say, Inquisitor Hesh -- requested that I sign Memphis' execution warrant three years ago. Given the circumstances, it was the only reasonable thing to do."

Haines found himself wondering whether Hesh had strong-armed Barkley into signing, but held his tongue as he remembered putting his own name on the paper.

"I wasn't sure it was all finished when they lit the pyre, mind you, so I've been digging around since then."

"So you just happened to decide on Coriolis Alpha as your next holiday destination?" Hallona sniped.

"As soon as I received the encrypted transmissions and the scrap code, that's essentially how it happened," admitted Barkley. "Though you can't exactly claim your motives are too different."

"We're here to investigate a potential, and now very real, threat to the Emperor's realm," Haines answered, "not dig around through old bones for the foregone conclusion that someone executed for heresy was in fact a heretic."

"You're not seeing the full picture, Madoc," Barkley told him. "Though all things considered, I doubt you ever will."

Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #98 on: July 07, 2012, 12:25:11 PM »
"Here you are at last."

The voice seemed to be emanating from a broad cylindrical cage suspended from the walls and ceiling. He couldn't make out what was inside, but sitting beneath the cage was a boiling pit of blood, apparently melted into the floor by some unknown heat source and fed by great channels of red ichor running into the chamber from outside. The air stank of meat and was thick with ruddy vapour.

"A relic from the time I came to this world. Your kin abandoned you."

"What are you?" Varachen hissed.

"I am what is left of the one they could never kill."

Varachen crept closer, noticing that a new sconce ignited with every step he took towards the cage.

"I am blessed, and in many ways cursed, by mighty Khar'neth," continued the voice, and as Varachen edged towards the lip of the bloody crater he saw the blasted remains of a man trapped inside.

"You..."

"Behold what remains of Nemurax the Sempiternal," growled the figure in the cage, his every word wet with blood and phlegm. "Nemurax the Sundered."

"And what exactly has possessed the mon-keigh to seal you beneath their city?" Varachen wondered, his hand gripping a knife almost on reflex.

"A question first. What legends have you heard of me?"

"That as long as there is blood in your heart, you cannot be killed," Varachen replied. "But if that is true, one wonders why the mon-keigh did not simply cut out your heart and destroy it."

Nemurax laughed wetly, and Varachen could see the Chaos lord in all his gory splendour as his remains writhed. Both of his arms had been ripped out, with heavy rune-etched chains hammered into the stumps of his shoulders, suspending him from the sides of his gibbet. All that remained of his lower body was the tail of his spine dangling limply below his ribcage. He'd been stripped naked, for all the meaning it had, and it looked for all the world like his skin and most of his flesh had been burned away. In spite of the charred meat and the web of blood vessels covering his head and neck, Varachen fancied that he could see all that remained of Nemurax's blackened, but otherwise human, skeleton.

Most crucially, Varachen could see Nemurax's still-beating heart, imprisoned behind the bars of his ribcage as it pumped a shoddy excuse for blood around what was left of his body.

"One does indeed wonder at such things, Eldar, but that was not Khar'neth's only gift," Nemurax chuckled. "You saw it too. You were there when it began. An entire world on fire, human cattle slaying each other in glorious bloodshed as millions flocked to Khar'neth's banner and drenched the soil of this world, this Sathvairg, in liquid tribute to Khar'neth! The first steps on the path to immortality!"

Nemurax paused, coughing, and a wad of what Varachen assumed was phlegm splattered on the pit's edge.

"Cut short by a traitor within my own ranks," Nemurax continued. "One that now follows the Lord of Change. Khar'neth strike her for her duplicity."

Varachen stared up at Nemurax, losing interest.

"Nineteen years of imprisonment in this pit and all you can think of doing is engaging in a monologue?" he remarked. "A rant about your downfall? You've hardly been idle in consolidating your power, if the blood is any indicator. Yet you favour stewing in your own madness. Khar'neth sent me here to find a great warrior, not a brooding mon-keigh wallowing in self-loathing."

Varachen drew his knife and leapt up onto the outside of the gibbet, hauling himself up so that he was face to fleshless face with Nemurax.

"I, too, have been here for nineteen years. I, too, was stabbed in the back by a rival and left to rot."

"As is endemic among your people."

"Be that as it may, I was hardly content to sit dormant and hate myself for my failure. Khar'neth should be ashamed of you, rather than send me out to find you."

"Do not delude yourself, Eldar. You are but one pathetic pawn sent out to find another. Or do you suppose Khar'neth has promised you greatness and glory?"

Varachen flashed a razor-toothed smile at Nemurax. "Khar'neth offered me protection from She Who Thirsts. That alone is worth more than your feeble concept of glory."

"And so you bargained away your soul for nothing."

"Protection in exchange for finding you. Protection, and safe passage to the Dark City. Just for finding you. One pathetic little remnant of a mon-keigh."

"Mere trivialities to one who has held the fate of a world in his hands."

"Khar'neth never did specify whether he wanted you alive or dead," Varachen responded, his gaze resting once again on Nemurax's heart. "Now that I have found you, I suppose my end of the bargain is fulfilled no matter your condition."

"And did Khar'neth say whether you would return to the Dark City as a living being, or as a carcass?" Nemurax taunted.

Varachen paused as the realisation hit him, before stabbing through the cage wall with a wordless scream and ramming his knife into Nemurax's heart, twisting once, twice, three times for good measure.

Scarce seconds later, the chains suspending the gibbet broke and Varachen plunged after Nemurax into the pit of blood, his arm wedged between the bars. As he fell, Varachen could see Nemurax laughing at him, but the laughter in his ears didn't belong to Nemurax.

In the final instants before Varachen went under, he realised that the laughter belonged to Khar'neth.

Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #99 on: July 15, 2012, 05:57:04 PM »
As soon as she saw what was happening Iota continued to whisper: "My lord, our attackers have been attacked by what appears to be a witch, what should be done?"

"Do not engage, try to find out as much as possible from this person, when you are threatened kill it immediately, but before that avoid drawing suspicion. Draw upon your training, should Nogal behave in an odd way do not hesistate. The secrets she knows are more important than her life."

Then the psyker stood in front of them, Tettares aimed her shuriken pistol at her, she spoke to Antero, calling him Andreas. She worked with him then, or at the very least knew him. Tettares walked closer to the psyker, repeating the mantras taught to her when she still had sisters in her head: "Divine Emperor, shield of my soul, Divine Emperor, my soul for you"
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Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #100 on: July 15, 2012, 09:51:13 PM »
Andreas looked first at Steren, then at Iona, his expression turning from surprise to alarm as he saw the gun in her hands.

"What the hell... oh. Right. Psyker."

He swore that Iona was whispering litanies to herself as she kept her gun trained on Steren. The weapon itself was not dissimilar to an Eldar shuriken pistol, although Andreas hadn't flagged either Iona or Dovin as users of xenotech. He suspected it to be a replica, though no less lethal for it.

Almost unconsciously, Andreas found himself sharing a glance with Steren that was somewhere between apprehensive and dubious.

"Iona, this is Doctor Irena Boure," Andreas began, his alias for Steren popping into his head almost instantly. "She's one of my associates."

Iona kept her gun aimed at Steren, but her gaze shifted over to Andreas faster than he might have liked.

"The two of you are... acquainted?" Iona asked, her tone accusatory. Andreas couldn't help but imagine a note of righteous malice in her voice.

"You know well enough by now that I'm Inquisition," Andreas replied as calmly as he could manage. "The good Doctor and I know each other through my lord."

Iona brought her gun to bear on Andreas and he took an involuntary step backwards, bracing for a shot that wouldn't come as long as Iona held fire.

"Bad enough that there's a witch," Iona remarked, throwing a caustic glare in Steren's direction before returning her attention to Andreas. "Bad enough that you are in league with her. But how do I know that you're not a double-agent? I heard what she called you."

Andreas opened his mouth to reply, but paused and looked first at Iona, then at Steren, then at Dovin and Tanis who, so far, had been reticent to intervene, and who were now staring back at Andreas. Tanis' expression was one of confused anger, Dovin's one of curiosity.

He turned back to Iona and sighed.

"Well, frak."

"Who are you really, Andreas?" Iona asked. "At best you've been economical with the truth since we met, and at worst an outright liar. How am I supposed to believe that you really are a servant of the Emperor? How am I supposed to believe you won't sell us out to the enemy?"

"Aside from the dozen or so dead heretics between me and the trucks down there?" Andreas answered. "You have no reason to believe anything I tell you about Magnus Hanssen, other than that the icon I carry is a copy of his. You also have no reason to believe anything I've said about my life before meeting you. But since we met I've done things for you that I had no reason to do. When the Traitor Marines attacked, I put myself in the firing line to find you, even though it made no logical sense, and even though miss Dovin called it irrational. I was there when the Dreadnought was chasing you. I helped you escape the bombers while you were in no condition to even move, let alone run for your life."

Iona hesitated, a look of sudden doubt crossing her face.

"I could have left you," Andreas continued, "but I didn't. If I were a traitor, I could've picked any moment to double-cross you, but instead, here we are, at loggerheads after escaping certain death in a forsaken city. I'm not your enemy, Iona."

The gun wavered, but Iona steadied her aim and for a second Andreas was worried that she might pull the trigger after all, regardless of how he might try to justify his position. In that case, however, he had very little to lose.

"I'm not your enemy," he repeated. "Unfortunately for me, the only one that doesn't see that is the Inquisitor hiding behind a vox-link. So why don't you put the gun down, and we can settle this without throwing reason and logic out the window."

Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #101 on: July 26, 2012, 04:07:35 PM »
Semplice was following everything that was being said. The situation was getting more and more complicated. This Andreas was a dangerous person with many allies, and Hanssen, if he really existed, even with another name would have much influence on the happenings. He wondered who this inquisitor was. Perhaps one of those trying to hunt him down, one of those who had no idea about the importance of his work. Under no condition would they be allowed to meet him in person. Andreas could be honest in his intentions or a traitor.

He spoke to Tettares: “Keep your weapons ready, do not let them out of your sight. You will accompany them to their masters to find out where their loyalties lie and what their goals are. Do not mention your objectives but listen for anything they might know about it. Keep Pantariste and Nogal unaware of your instructions. They are to keep silent. Do not hesitate to eliminate them should it prove necessary. I will not be physically near you, they must not know about me. When asked about me state that you simply do not know. Say that you have never seen your master, only ever heard his voice. Now do your duty to the Emperor and show Him that you are a worthy servant.”

Tettares looked at Andreas while she said: “I believe that you are not the enemy, but there are too many things you keep secret. More openness would greatly help us achieve our goals.”, while keeping her weapon trained on him.
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #102 on: July 27, 2012, 04:26:15 PM »
Forgotten in favour of Andreas, Steren watched over the scene. The girl was quite a curiosity.

Mentally, her thoughts were hidden, shielded beneath recursive and interminable litany. Steren didn't press deeper - that alone told her enough. A high ranking agent of an Inquisitor. Well trained. A liar. Her emotions, too deep and inherent to be hidden by mere mental chants, shone out on their own. Surprisingly plain, without the depth of familiarity or the weight of certainty. The structure of a mind sheltered, protected. Biologically, she was perhaps more out of place than even the psyker's own rebuilt physiology, but crumbling under those same stresses. Overambitious bio-engineering. An expensive project.

Her whole existence spoke of her value. She was no disposable pawn. She was someone that her master wanted alive. No, not just her master... her puppeteer. The girl kept pausing, awaiting instructions rather than taking her own initiative. Intriguing.

Steren brushed the brick dust off her ruined dress. Time to take a gamble.

   "Inquisitor, I don't know who you are.", Steren addressed the statement in Iona's direction, although she doubted she was more than heard, "As long as you're not one of the traitors, that's entirely secondary. But I know you're listening. I know that this girl is important to you. I know we are in a warzone, liable to be attacked by infantry or armoured forces at any moment. I have the ability to get her and your other agents to safety. But you have trust me long enough that I can do that. The questions have to wait."

There was a slight spike of emotion from behind Steren - hope, concern and interest in one. The psyker paused, glancing across at the beaten adept responsible. His face spoke little of what was going on behind, but his interests were clear.

   "And she'll have to get that pistol out of Andreas' face too.", she added, "I don't like that."
S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
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Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #103 on: August 01, 2012, 05:28:19 PM »
Semplice was surprised at being adressed directly, the psyker knew much, she would probably be important, maybe even another member of the Inquisition. But what she said made sense.  He spoke: "Lower your weapon, but keep it ready, you will still be capable of killing them should they try anthing. Do not let them get in any position from where they could suprise you. Say: "I shall come with you, our present situation encourages cooperation.", when you are asked about me, answer that you have never yet met me, only ever heard my voice.", he heard Iota repeat his words and then continued to her: "Watch your companions, all of them, none can be trusted completely."
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Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #104 on: August 04, 2012, 10:46:22 AM »
Andreas couldn't help but feel relief as Iona finally lowered her gun.

"I shall come with you," Iona stated, although the look in her eyes did little to dispel Andreas' belief that someone else was thinking for her. "Our present situation encourages cooperation."

"In that case, it might be best if we get away from the city," Andreas offered. "Unless you intend to wait for more heretic kill-squads to come along."

"I don't think there are any," Steren informed him. Andreas opened his mouth to ask Steren how she could tell, but somehow he already knew the answer.

"And where exactly do you intend to go?" Tanis asked, finally stepping out from behind the bit of wall she'd been using as cover. "I don't even know where we are now, never mind where our destination is. And who's to say the bombers haven't already been there?"

"They hit another city by the coast last night," Steren answered, "but I don't think one ship's compliment of bombers, even from a dedicated carrier, will have had time to hit the whole planet if they arrived only yesterday."

Tanis took a cautious step towards Steren. "I'm not sure I want to believe that. We're talking about traitors. They could have captured local airfields, launched fighters and bombers from somewhere on the surface. The enemy might even have taken over another cruiser and started shelling cities on the other side of the planet."

Iona turned to look at Tanis, her expression totally blank.

"Sorry, what?" Steren asked.

"Tanis was on the Lord Tiberius when it got taken over," Andreas prompted her.

"Great. So one of us is two steps away from shooting you and another's a conspiracy theorist," Steren sighed. "Nice bunch of friends you've made. But the fact remains that we're not going to get anywhere just by talking."

"And where are we going? How do we plan to get there?" Tanis protested, drawing yet another blank, almost confused stare from Iona.

"Well, we came in a half-track," Steren explained, turning back towards the heretics' trucks. "Going by how the closest city to here has been bombed flat, that probably leaves either the capital, or another city further distant."

"We?" Dovin inquired. "Aside from Anter-- Andreas, I cannot see anyone else with whom you may be affiliated."

"And I suppose you think I teleported here from Portiswade?" Steren sniped. "I've got three Naval armsmen and a savant waiting in the half-track, wondering where I went. Now while that leaves the four of you, there's a Salamander down there among all the trucks. Clear out the dead bodies and it should be quite serviceable, not to mention better armoured than a truck with broken windows."

"There's a rail link to the capital that we can follow, but if we're actually heading towards Stonechapel, it's not exactly within easy driving distance," Andreas pointed out, following Steren back down towards the trucks. "It's off to the northwest -- I saw that coming down in the lifepod -- but I've no idea how distant it is, short of 'very far away'."

"I can siphon fuel from the trucks," Dovin offered. "There must be some empty containers in one of the vehicles."

"And what makes you think the capital's a good idea?" Tanis inquired.

"If I know Lord Hanssen then he'll probably be chasing up his own investigation there," Andreas answered. "In any case, now that at least Doctor Boure and I have a destination, we need to work out who's driving."
« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 10:49:47 AM by Koval »