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Conclave Archive Extracts: Welcome to the End

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Being a partial account collated from various sources and reproduced without permission. 

These records refer to the ill-fated meeting of the Unity Conclave, a cell of various Inquisitors and their allies who convened in the year M41.999 under the leadership of First Inquisitor Junious, to discuss potential collective action against the daemon Amon Dull.  Writing in the year M42.120, the exact truth of events at Delan’s Point, the orbital fortress-monastery where the meeting was held, remains a controversial subject within the Inquisition.  I can neither endorse nor refute the veracity of any particular source I have reproduced here, except to state that these are the only contemporary accounts of these events that exist.  The overall record remains incomplete and I must warn the casual reader from the outset that this account will end abruptly, leaving many questions unanswered.  While the minutes of the meeting itself remain whole, the fact is that it ended prematurely and many of the delegates were neither confirmed dead in the aftermath, nor heard from again by their peers.  It therefore seems unlikely a full accounting of the Battle of Delan’s Point will ever be achieved.

A more complete text, including but not limited to these extracts, can be found in its original format in the Conclave Archive, divided into three parts and filed under ‘Welcome to the End’.  I have taken some editing liberties for the sake of reader comprehension, although it is the case that while the original records are slightly more extensive, they carry the timeline of events no further forward.

Conclave Archive Extracts: Welcome to the End

M41.999, Delan’s Point Monastery, Orbiting Delan’s Reach, Delan System

Introduction – The Cell Convenes   

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated SlaaneshBen:

Junious looked around at the assembled Inquisitors as he arrived into the library. The circular table had been erected as he had requested, the centre of the library swept and shelves moved away so that the meeting might take place in it. Junious was about to take his chair, but on reflection he chose to stand.

So many different backgrounds, so many different people and unfortunately a cause to unite them all. He used unfortunately because of the enemy – Amon Dull. A most insidious foe, he was a destroyer of men, a consumer of souls and potentially the doom of mankind. Junious sighed. Mankind. All of mankind rested on his shoulders, or at least that was the way it felt. He looked to his feet, then around the room again.

Venasquez sat to the immediate right of the Inquisitor. Venasquez was his foundation, a strength he knew he could rely on. Venasquez smiled. The pure-soul, a man upon whom Junious knew he could place the heaviest of burdens. A man Junious relied on and could trust completely.

Kely, or Clarity, dwelled on his thoughts for a moment. She had been sent by the White Child, of that there was no doubt. Her soul blazed before him whenever he saw her… Such beauty she possessed, so delicate and fragile, like a soft white rose. She stood on the edge of the room, in the shadows. But in Junious’ eyes, she was a second Sun, blazing away, filling the room with light. She smiled shyly; another dazzling flash of light that swallowed Junious whole.

Her importance had not been revealed to Junious yet, but he was sure she would be needed at the end.

Immediately left of them sat Christian Maltheus, his Interrogator Rostock and his Acolyte Ripley. Maltheus was fast becoming a good friend to Junious. He had wisdom beyond his years, and an earthy rugged attitude that Junious found easy to relate to. In some ways he reminded Junious of Taren in the best possible way. Junious found it easy to look up to him and felt he would need him before this ordeal was over. A dark burden hung over Maltheus but Junious was sure he could cope with whatever it was. In front of Maltheus was a familiar tome, the Book of Balkoth. It would no doubt offer small shreds of clues they could not afford to overlook.

Rostock was an interesting character. He was a null, dimming Junious’ vision of him, but he could make out his strong features and muscular frame. He seemed very business-like and very professional which Junious admired in him. Maltheus probably relied on him as much as Junious did Venasquez. His gaze fell on Ripley; he was uncertain of the young Acolyte. There was an obvious, deep bond between Maltheus and Ripley, perhaps even more than mentor and student, but the specifics eluded Junious.

A great psychic resonance was cast from the young man. He had much potential, but Junious couldn’t help but wonder was it potential that could easily be wasted in the pursuit of Amon Dull? He felt perhaps Maltheus was foolish in bringing one so young into this, but that concern would wait for now.

The Mentirian contingent occupied the next few seats. Mantis, Scarab and Python; men Junious knew well, and men he respected and admired. Each had suffered in the wake of Mentirius’ death and the destruction of the Order. Mantis was a shattered and broken husk in comparison to the man Junious remembered. Yet through the gift of Redemption, his master’s old sword, and Junious’ words, Mantis had begun to reassemble himself. Junious could see hope in the man. It was a tiny spark before a flame, that would need care and attention to ensure the blaze.

Scarab was one of Junious’ closest friends from the Order and they had worked together on numerous missions. The loss of his brother, purged in the fires that burned the Order Vampiris, had destroyed Scarab. He was a man led by his anger now, and his thirst for revenge. Junious would have to watch him, as both were traits Amon Dull found easy to control and manipulate. Junious chastised himself mentally for such thoughts; but he could not deny the truth of them.

Grisbane glared across the table at Amaurn. His eyes spoke of his dislike for the vampiric Inquisitor. Junious sighed. As resolute, as stout and as loyal as Grisbane was, he shouldn’t be here. This was not his fight, and Junious knew that Grisbane missed his family severely, as the yearning edge on his soul spoke. Junious sighed again. He should not be here.

Allies and friends of Mantis next; one Karius Prelune. The giant mutant was spoken most highly of by Mantis, and by those he surrounded himself with. Junious had only had the most cursory and brief of conversations with his followers, but they venerated him with the most obvious of passions and love. If he was honest, Junious knew why. He had spoken but briefly with the man himself, but there was an optimism and hope that was palpable around him. He positively radiated what he preached and for that Junious respected him immensely. Junious smiled at him, and thought of the future conversations they would engage in with relish.

The next person was a mystery to Junious. Lord Inquisitor Titus Sargoth. Several faint, malevolent forces pulled at the edges of an already darkened, blackened soul. Junious could not bring himself to trust the man. Then there was his disagreeable manner. Junious doubted him more than any in the cell. At least Amaurn had information on the beast. The veritable band of Inquisitors he surrounded himself made Junious even more suspicious. He was obviously trying to hide something. What do you hide, Titus Sargoth? What is it you don’t want me to see? Junious’ face turned to steel as he lingered on Sargoth for the merest of seconds.

Next a desolate, quiet figure, wrapped up in a hood. He…was a surprise, really, even to Junious. He knew he would come, and that Junious would need him. Junious was closer than most to him, and yet even he knew little of the man. He nodded to the man. He would be revealed momentarily.

Lord Darkness. The man had spoken little, but each time he spoke he would exude a passion for unity and because of this Junious found himself drawn to the man. His power armour certainly bulked out his form as he sat, waiting for proceedings to begin. Junious wondered to himself what was under that hood? Could he ever know? Lord Darkness had been quoted as saying he was watching, always watching; could a man who ‘watched’ follow through with actions as well? Junious certainly hoped so.

Next to him shone Karl Falkus. The man was a warrior, through and through. He was led by his heart, a wonderful trait in any man to Junious. He was loyal, resolute; a man of honour. Junious knew that if he so requested, Karl would follow him straight into the maw of Amon Dull. His soul shone out as much as the man’s impeccable armour. Junious nodded to Karl, who returned the gesture with a smile. A better man there probably wasn’t at the table.

Brother-Captain Ludvos Haerland Arkhan. Warrior, leader and hero to some. Heretic and traitor would suffice to others. His charisma had not been dulled in the past years, of that Junious was certain as he spoke to him. But it had been perhaps tempered by his newly acquired knowledge and wisdom. He was much more considered now when he spoke, though no less passionate and retained his absolute conviction he had always had in his beliefs and his words. Junious stared at the Emperor-touched warrior; his armour was weary and battered. The repairs he had received from Junious’ Adeptus Mechanicus contact had been all too brief; the scars still shone through. The same could be said of the hulking man himself.

The next seat was taken by Inquisitor Jenna Stryde. As ever she radiated poise and beauty, and she teased a smile out of Junious as he looked at her. Junious didn’t really know her well, but she had a sense purpose and duty Junious enjoyed to be around. She was the same age as Junious, and he was sure they would easily be able to find some common ground if they could only grasp five minutes in which to speak at greater length. The struggle in separating her ward, a massive man by the name Juxt, impressed Junious greatly. One could not purchase loyalty such as that, and closeness such as that was a precious thing indeed.

A glance from Maltheus to her spoke volumes to Junious. But had she seen enough to realise the truth of the Inquisition? Was she even ready for such a conflict? He had heard of her disagreement with Amaurn, and how passionate she was in dispensing of his methods and his help. Foolish, perhaps, but inside Junious couldn’t help but like her more for it. A worthy ally if ever he had seen one.

Alundirel sat proudly as he looked around the room. The cumulative age of all the others would not add up to the years the Eldar warrior had spent in the universe, but even his years were but a blink of the eye compared to the malevolent daemon they sought to fight. He had also seemed distant and on edge in recent days, a fact that disconcerted Junious quite considerably. If the immortal, implacable Eldar was being affected by this conflict, what hope had the others?

Lord Inquisitor Primus sat next in the circle, looking around with the customary grin and friendly beaming smile. Everyone knew him, even those who had only just arrived. He was a social colossus, gifted with graces and humour. Junious knew as well the man was no fool; his manner was mostly a rouse. People lowered their guard around him because they felt at ease with him. He smiled at Junious, who nodded reverentially back at him.

Which lead him to, completing the circle, Amaurn. The man’s soul, if it could be described as such, was a black vacuum, barely illuminated by the vampiric daemon inside. He looked over all present, though the look would probably been better described as looking down on those present. The man, a dubious use of the word when applied to Amaurn, was arrogant beyond compare, dismissive, and plain disagreeable. He was unbelievable, in his manner, his sense of decorum and everything the damned devil did and said. Yet he was an important ally, one they couldn’t turn down. He had been trained by Balkoth, and his knowledge of the foe, its whereabouts was peerless at the moment. Junious sighed. Amaurn was the very definition of a necessary evil.

On his right hand, his most trusted ally.

At his left an arrogant, beastly devil.

In between, a group of people he called friend, comrade, colleague and brother-in-arms.

In the corner, the Solitaires loomed. Their normally flickering forms were now dark as they waited for the meeting to begin. The younger of the two, a youth Junious knew as Istaranastari, glared at Amaurn, then Sargoth, then Amaurn. Shan’Ess, the more considered of the two, followed his eyes with equal contempt.

Interesting friends and allies you have, Herald.

The cell was certainly a contrast to the previous one. The one Mentirius had led. Glorious heroes in their prime, certainly, heroes much better prepared and heroes with a true leader. Could Junious lead these men? His years were but a blink of an eye for most here. Amaurn had already questioned his wisdom, and his leadership, but Amaurn was notorious for that and a disagreeable bastard at the best of times. Junious sighed again, drawing breath and inspiration.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and allies, new and old...”

The slightest of pauses, as they all looked expectantly to him for his first words.

“Welcome to the end.”

He paused for a moment.

“A great man said that once, a greater man than most…”

Amaurn seemed to sneer inwardly.

“… And a man who led most of you once. Mentirius was a leader to all, a brother to most, and a father and mentor to some…”

Mantis seemed hit hardest by Junious’ words as he continued.

“… His words last time guided and unified this cell. I… I can be no comparative figurehead; I am but a youth to most of you. But I implore this from you – Unity is not something one man can bring about, not completely. I ask from you to look to your fellow ally in this gathering, look into their eyes, and know that they would follow you into the very bowels of hell, they would drag themselves through the very flames of damnation and impale themselves on a foe’s blade, but to save your life and to utter one word unto you."


With that, a banner behind Junious was unfurled. The sight was familiar for some, for others not so. But its meaning was plain to all. A huge silver Inquisitional I was in the centre, orbited by smaller symbols. Some were easily recognisable; the sign of Goldo, of Sebastian Thor and of Xanthus. Other less so; a strange angelic marker, other, more obscure references to more obscure groups and organisations.

“I can give you this symbol. I can give you something to visualise and focus upon. But unity is not just a word or a banner, it certainly should not be something that should be uttered in haste and without weight, nor it is not something easily attained; it is a goal we must all work towards and aspire to achieve. I cannot give unity to you all. You must give it to one another.”

He let his words sink in for a few moments. Venasquez nodded to him, smiling a small smile. At least one person was being inspired.

“Amon Dull does not want this. Amon Dull would see us all tear each other apart, and stab one another in the back, betray one another and see mankind burn. Amon Dull is already in all of us…”

The words were still shocking some of those present as he continued to speak.

“… Because Amon Dull is the worst within us. He is the darkest part of our natures, the acts you swear to the Emperor you did not commit, the nightmare that ensures you fear to sleep…”

The words hit Maltheus, who hung his head ever so slightly.

“…and the very pinnacle of the darkest representation of mankind. He is hatred, he is deceit, he is contempt. Worse, he is the Imperial Creed, he is hundreds of billions of humans and he is our brethren in the Inquisition."

"But…there is hope. I see hope here. I see purpose here. I see that unity can be here, and it is through unity that we will break this daemon. I cannot promise that victory is assured, but I promise you this; we have hope, and if that is all we have, friends, if all we have is hope, then I for one know we have the greatest weapon of all,”

He paused again, allowing his words to wash over those present.

“A lot was said at the last meeting, and a lot must be said this time. Not everyone here knows what was said and discussed last time, and they must be informed."

"Amon Dull is not just one being, but nine fragments, joined together to create one entity. A demigod, each fragment being a powerful daemon prince on its own. We are not facing just another evil, just another evil to be stopped. This is...”

He looked around for words of enough gravitas and impact.

“This is it, ladies and gentlemen. This is our armageddon.”

Again he paused for effect.

“His goal is Morai Heg… A library of sorts and a keep of something precious, something close to me. Morai Heg contains knowledge of fate, the kind mortals are not yet ready to receive. And also it contains the White Child,”

There was some chatter amongst those who had been in the cell before. The White Child had been discussed, but whom and what it was hadn’t been discerned.

“The White Child is a fledgling god, a god of fate and of hope. It resides in Morai Heg, awaiting the time to be called by… By whoever and whatever has the power to unlock such a place, and rise into… Into all our pantheons, I suppose. It is… it is meant for us all, I think. It is as much unity as…as we are,”

Junious’ words faltered as he seemed strangely awestruck.

“The White Child was so crucial in the prophecy because, without the catalyst of the White Child, Amon Dull cannot ascend to godhood. But, gathered friends, there is also this to consider. One god will arise from the prophecy, but it has not been necessarily deemed that it has to be Amon Dull…”

His words echoed around the room. Certainly a matter for contemplation. Junious smiled broadly.

“I… I underwent some changes, as some of you may have perceived, on Aithol. I have been… Chosen for a duty, a burden. I am one of the Heralds of the White Child. I am to call in its birth, and I am not alone in this duty. Novus Versaal, the Dessemus to some of you, is also a Herald,”

Each in the room looked to whoever was closest. Some were puzzled, others shocked. Novus Versaal, by Imperial reckoning, was about as dangerous a heretic as there had ever been. A cloaked figure sat at the table unleashed his face from hood, his eyes milky white, not as fiercely burning white as Junious’, but white nonetheless. The face and eyes of a heretic. The face of Novus Versaal.

“I ask you now not to judge him, not on his past. Only his future is important now,”

Junious nodded to Novus before he continued.

“Most of you here know more than I, I have shared as much as I can and will. I know between us we can pool much information. I… I first have a question I wish to ask."

He looked to Maltheus.

"What became of Mentirius? Who here can… recant the final battle? Maltheus, you were there? Truth… What can you tell us of Truth?”

Afterword:  It should be noted that most of assembled cell members did not bring their full retinues into the meeting itself; thus there were considerably more notable individuals gathered within the monastery than are mentioned here.  Further background on the various delegates and their associates can be found elsewhere in the Conclave Archive database.

- L


Part I – The Meeting

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated InquisitorMaltheus, with quotes from Servo-Scribe designated Mentirius:

Maltheus listened intently as Junious spoke. He had all the makings of a speaker the likes of Mentirius himself. For a brief moment, Christian Maltheus laughed inwardly at how much he had admired...and sacrificed for a man he barely knew. His gaze drifted to Stryde. There she was...willing to follow this through. And she barely knew him.

Maltheus heard Junious address him.

"...Truth. What can you tell us of Truth?"

Inquisitor Maltheus stared at the table for what seemed an age. The nightmares that plagued him kept the events of that night fresh in his mind. He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"Truth," Maltheus said with a huff and grin. The grin held no humor.

"...What I can tell you is that there is no truth. Truth as you believe it, is something that lies in the mind of whomever is telling it."

He scanned the faces of those around the table. Some were familiar...others only vaguely so, from the last few days. He saw the irony in the likes of Amaurn, The Dessemus, and Lady Stryde all sitting at the same table. He wondered if she even knew who he was.

His mind drifted to the events of that night…

“Welcome to the end.”

The man’s voice was deep and bass, holding in it the weary tone of the aged. The psychic resonance was smooth and liquid. Almost…soothing.

He could hear their quickening breaths, their pounding heartbeats. He could feel their trembling fingers as they gripped weapons slick with sweat. And still he did not turn. The man did not need to look into the heroes’ eyes. He knew them already, had known them longer than they had known themselves.

“Nexus. A name with a history, and not a pleasant one. A name soiled by the folly of a comrade. But a name you carry with pride, even now.

“Maltheus. Is that your name, Christian? It strikes me that a man who is Christian to a friend is Maltheus to a comrade. Have you ever wondered why?

“Barrachus. A name yet to be carved from the farbric of history. A name that could light the stars, or sink unheeded in the darkness. Or so you are told.

“McBaine. A common name, yet a name that carries its own meaning. A meaning won by blood and sweat. But have you ever considered the tears?

“Solitaire. I will not lower myself to the child’s name you give yourself, for the benefit of these men. I at least give them simple respect, but are they any more than vermin in your eyes? Your name matters not, for you are a tool, nothing more.

“And now we come to the final player in this little game. Tell me, heroes…what is my name?”

Maltheus stood slowly. He pulled his coat a bit tighter around him.

"Truth," Maltheus began, "Was the ninth of nine. I saw Truth...and faced it myself. Mentirius defied the Daemon to the end...defied himself to the end."

Again, his mind played back the events on The Eye.

Dancer whirled, crouched before the sudden light as Truth drifted slowly from the casket. The twisted child looked down on the solitaire, on Nexus and Maltheus, on Barrachus and McBaine. And the child laughed.

“But…eight have fallen…”

Nexus shook his head in disbelief, staff clenched in aching hands. Truth looked down with emerald eyes, and spoke with a voice he knew too well.

“Poor, simple mortals… Ignatius the All-Nothing was a decoy, a puppet. Nothing more. Seven have returned to the whole, and shortly the Eighth shall join them. The Ninth shall claim destiny, and a God shall be born. Risen from the ashes of a stolen legacy, Hatred shall reign. I shall reign.  The Ninth is Truth.”

Suddenly, it all began to make sense. The words of Amon Dull fell with the weight of inevitability.

"It told us that as each fragment was destroyed, it returned to the whole," Maltheus said with a heavy tone. "All the work that was done...even by my own hand...had only served to strengthen it."

His eyes locked with Junious. This was the first he had spoken of them since the events had actually happened. His young friend seemed to be enthralled...almost as if he were there with every word.

"What we thought we were doing," He breathed, "Was a typical example of the evil and trickery of the Daemon. It used us. And in the end..."

“It is never too late!”

Maltheus roared, and charged towards the daemon without another thought. Shots rang out as his pistol fired again and again, but the shells exploded against a barrier of sparkling light, and Truth turned a withering gaze to the enraged Inquisitor. Nexus, Barrachus and McBaine spread out, closing in on the casket, and Maltheus did not stop as he advanced relentlessly. The impotent hail of fire did not cease, as tears burned in his eyes, and Truth gazed back impassively. Nexus swung his staff high in both hands, psychic fire flickering along the mighty weapon, and Barrachus’ muscles rippled as he flexed his bulky powerfist. McBaine reached Maltheus’ side, a pistol in each fist, and opened fire on the creature, but his efforts were in vain, as it shrugged away the shots and spread its tiny arms.

“Your kind never know when you are beaten. Let me show you.”

Suddenly the light became dancing flame, and Truth unleashed its power, bolts of golden fire raining down on the Inquisitors. A missile exploded at Maltheus’ feet, throwing he and McBaine to the scorched deck...Maltheus struck the hot metal hard, driving the breath from his lungs. Somehow he kept hold of his weapons, but as he tried to rise, pain stabbed through him, and he doubled up in agony on the floor. He managed to look up, into those emerald eyes. Amon Dull’s laughter filled his head, as it drew back a single arm with deadly purpose.

“This is it, Christian. Destiny awaits.”

As the searing power of Chaos hurtled towards him, Inquisitor Christian Maltheus felt his life flash before his eyes. And in the sudden peace of that moment, one thought filled his head.

Not like this…

His vision blurred with the sudden impact, as something flashed across his view. The heat washed over him, but he felt no pain, as McBaine took the missile squarely in the chest, spinning away across the chamber in a blast of dark power. He struck the far wall with a dull thud, and crumpled limply to the deck...

“...Truth. I am the Deceiver. I deny you.”

The daemon stared past Nexus now, to the advancing apparition that was Mentirius. His skin burned with psychic fire, and his eyes were windows into the currents of the warp. In one clawed hand, the sword blazed. Truth laughed with a child’s mirth, and threw the Inquisitor roughly aside, drifting towards the Deceiver with slow menace. As Nexus reeled, Balkoth stalked forward, every move graceful and calculated.

“Show me, Inquisitor. Show me your hatred.”

“It will burn the sight from your eyes, Balkoth!”

They turned, glancing suddenly across the battle scarred chamber to the wrathful voice. There stood Maltheus, sword in hand. His armour was scorched and his clothes tattered, but he was not beaten, and as Balkoth’s eyes narrowed, Nexus charged into him with his staff held high.

The Magus caught the blow on Dhusgin, throwing the Inquisitor away with an inhuman strength as the sword thirsted for blood...Then Maltheus was there, and Balkoth spun, parrying a two-handed slash and twisting the blade to stab at his throat.

Nexus bulled into him...Maltheus struck again, but Balkoth twisted aside and slipped past, raking his arm with Dhusgin’s jagged teeth. Pain coursed through the Inquisitor as he turned quickly, hearing his comrade fall heavily to the floor behind him.

The daemon sword shivered with excitement as the taste of Maltheus’ blood coursed through it. Weaving an intricate pattern in the air, Dhusgin sought his throat, and it was all he could do to fend away Balkoth’s onslaught, slowly giving ground to the Magus as he fought for his life...Maltheus looked into his eyes, and he knew this. With sickening resignation, he realised he could not beat him.

As he felt the Inquisitor’s zeal slipping away, Balkoth closed his grip on Maltheus’ mind, feeling layers of defence crumble before his malevolent touch. He pushed deep into the man’s head, never slowing Dhusgin’s hail of blows. His voice was slow and compelling, seeping into the depths of his opponent’s psyche.

“Drop it.”

The Eldar power sword hit the deck with a metallic clang, and Maltheus dropped his arms limply to his sides...The last thing he remembered was a child laughing.

Maltheus shook his head. He found himself leaning heavily on the table. Junious had risen, as had several others around the table. Ripley had stood, as well and was right by his mentor's side.

He had been recounting the tale aloud...and, apparently reliving the moments as they happened.

"I don't remember much after that..." he stammered as he righted himself. "I have gathered that with the destruction of Truth...and Mentirius..."

Now his mind filled with memories of events he did not actually see. Things that happened around him as he lay nearly dead on the cold metal floor of that damned ship.

Nine shall become One. One shall rise, at the birth of the White Child.


The blade tore into Truth’s heart, a spear of darkness that clawed at the daemon with venomous power. Amon Dull shivered with agony, as the sword of Malal devoured him...The Doomed One began to shudder, black lightning playing around him as the weapon sealed his fate. The jaws of his God yawned at his back, as Amon Dull and his nemesis were dragged into Malal’s embrace...The light that had flooded the room was sucked into a vortex of dark energy...Mentirius stood alone, save for the fallen.

“Thus it began, and thus it shall end. You and I, Mentirius. But now you are the master.”


He could hear the laughter. But it was his voice that rang out in that dark chamber, and the echoes of so many others filled his mind. Malal had been deceived. Amon Dull lived yet. In six seconds, the final change would destroy all that had been Mentirius, and Nine Eyes would rise under a banner of hatred. The White Child’s birth would split the heavens, with the agony of a dying world. He knew what he had to do. He held out a hand, and Maltheus’ pistol flew to his grasp. Shaking with emotion, he raised it to his mouth.


“I think not.”

Pain flooded his senses, and he fell to his knees, the weapon falling from his fingers. Deep within a tortured mind, Amon Dull laughed. He looked up, as the changes wracked his body. Balkoth stood over him, silhouetted against Aithol. He smiled, but it was not the mocking grin he had expected. It was a smile of pity.

Barbed spines burst from the skin of the Deceiver, as his wings tore free, spreading outwards like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. Golden light poured from his skin. He felt Amon Dull closing around him, rising within him.


“There is no end. There is only change.”

But something tugged at his mind, in that final moment. A voice from the past, calling out words he had once spoken. Mentirius smiled, a single tear trickling down his cheek. It was the voice of a friend he had given everything for. At that moment, it was the best thing he had ever heard.

“Die well, my friend.”

A single shot rang out, and Mentirius slumped forward. The back of his head spilled its contents at Balkoth’s feet. Somewhere a child screamed...

Maltheus found himself looking at his own pistol as it lay resting in its holster at his side.

"...That Amon Dull was complete...and thus simply waited for an opportunity to return. Truth still does the GreenEye...the others...maybe even..." Maltheus let the thought stop there.

He gazed at the crowd. Silence hung in the air so heavy, it nearly hurt the ears. Maltheus blinked and took in a deep breath.

"Yes...unity was the greatest weapon against it..." He glanced at Stryde, then to the host.

"I'm sorry..." He said as he sat. "I wish I could be more specific. I will do my best to answer any questions."

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated N0-1_H3r3:

Silence filled the hall for a while, the speeches of Junious and Maltheus being allowed to sink into the minds of those present.

Alundirel, his mind quicker than the rest, shook his head.

"Your language is, as ever, imprecise... clumsy." He exhaled heavily, and closed his eyes for a moment, looking weary, as if a weight beyond comprehension pressed down upon him.

"Junious, you speak of Morai-Heg as if you know what She is. You speak as if She is a place, a physical location. Such is either the crudeness of your understanding, or the crudeness of the language in which you present that understanding. Morai-Heg, to simplify it for your kind," he turned to address all those present, "was a God of my kind, one which existed before your Emperor ever revealed himself to your species. One which dated back to an age long before your kind ever existed, and one whose legacy will be known to the end of time. Morai-Heg ceased to exist before your Imperium was born, torn asunder by Chaos."

He knew what they were thinking, even without reading their minds. 'What relevance does this have?' their eyes and bodies asked.

"In the ancient days of my kind, our lore was stored within a number of psycho-reactive repositories – Libraries, to use your inadequate translation, but Xamanth, to speak in my tongue. Each repository bore a title and significance related to who was permitted to learn the knowledge within, and what knowledge was there to be learned. First was the Asur-xamanth, the King's Library, the vastest of libraries, to give a ruler the knowledge needed to rule. Arkhan and I have both seen this place, though neither of our minds were fit to learn from it.

"Second is well-known to your kind as well as mine, though often by reputation alone. Cormer-Xamanth... Black Library. Within is stored our darkest lore, the things most important that must not be forgotten, and things so foul that they must be hidden. Only a few have ever walked within that place, and even then, they are told only that which it needs them to know, never more, never less and never anything other than that.

"Third is Ainn-Xamanth – Khaine's Library of Warfare. My bloodline are stewards to this place, and though I have learned much from it, I am not permitted to see all of it. None who still live are allowed that. Within is stored the military knowledge of innumerable generals and commanders of my kind, a history of our wars, our strategies, our techniques... everything a warrior could need to know."

Again, a look of impatient curiosity from his 'audience'.

"Two others, at least, are recorded. Libraries devoted to Vaul and Lileath still remain undiscovered, though we know they exist, storing within them the sum total of our technological and natural learnings, respectively. One more has been found. This is the one of which Junious speaks, if in a somewhat disjointed manner. The B'feid-Xamanth contains no knowledge of things or places or people. It is, as the gift of Morai-Heg to my people in ancient days, a repository of all we had been told and all we had since learned of the vagaries of Fate. Within it are the most accurate prophecies, only fragments of which are still known, the most precise means of divination. Aithol – Aestimus IX, as your kind knows it – is an archaic term that relates to the Shrouding given by Kurnous to Morai-Heg to protect her greatest treasures. Aithol is the Shroud, and the Library rests within it. Your goal, so Junious suggests, is within that place."

Another pause. A relative crash-course in scant fragments of Eldar history was a lot to take in, for anyone.

"And Maltheus... you are wrong. There is a truth – a constant, beyond all perceptions of deception, honesty and falsehood. The concepts of truth and perception are closely linked – they share a similar root in the tongue of my kind, but what you see and believe as truth may simply be your perceptions blinding you from what is truth. Fhirinn, gceilfi ucan fhirinne – truth, concealed by perception."

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated SlaaneshBen:

"And this, gathered friends, is why it is so important we succeed."

Junious looked around at them all, each grim and ashen face, every brow furrowed as the owner struggled in deep thought and contemplation.

"This repository of Fate cannot be allowed into any irresponsible hands – be they our own or anyone else. This place must be protected at all costs. No life is too precious to not be sacrificed protecting Aithol."

"This is the beginning point of our quest, and it is the most precious thing we must protect and ensure is intact by the time we are through."

Junious looked all around the room, everyone nodding in agreement with his statements.

"Maltheus... Balkoth. What you can you tell us of him? Did he say much on the Eye? And to all of you, do we have any idea where he is now? He is the key to all of this, of that I am sure. If we find Balkoth, we will find Amon Dull."

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated InquisitorMaltheus, with quotes from Servo-Scribe designated Mentirius:

Maltheus glowered at the mention of the name of the man who bested him on the flag ship of the enemy. He thought back. Had anything Balkoth told them been of any significance? Surely it had been...

“You have come to put an end to change. You have come to save a world. You have come to defend the helpless, to uphold the righteous purpose shared by all who would stand against Chaos. You have come to find Truth.

“Do you believe this? Do you really believe it? Have you ever wondered why you really do this? Who pulls the strings this time?

"The Imperium? A tyranny that holds humanity in an iron fist, under a banner of divine mandate. A machine, built of the flesh of its own architects. Every day countless men and women die for a cause they cannot understand, because they are told it is their purpose. Because they are told to hate all but the machine, to fight until their very destruction for the sake of their uncaring masters.

"Balkoth was a brilliant and misguided man," Maltheus commented, almost to himself, rather than the gathered mass. "Did he say much on they Eye?"

"...You came for yourselves, for the emotions that rule you. And what is Chaos? Chaos is emotion, born of the passions of every mortal, every hero like yourselves. Why here, why now? Because I chose this place, this moment.

“Christian, you come for love. Your love for a woman has spawned hatred, and I have become the object of that hatred. Hatred drives you to vengeance, and that is why you stand arrayed for battle. But when you have killed me, will she live again? Will anything change, save for you and I?

“Nexus, you come to fight futility. You come to make a difference, to stand against the onset of destiny and prevail. But in your heart you know your purpose is as futile as it has ever been, and your actions have as little consequence as all that has gone before. You come to put an end to my life, but secretly you know it will change nothing..."

The tired Inquisitor looked at Stryde. His gaze lingered a moment longer than he would have liked.

"He would be the key...for his knowledge more than anything else. He, like many of us, has been a pawn in this. Amon Dull cares not for anyone...or anything..."

“A God is about to rise. A God of Hatred, born from all that you fight for. Born from mankind, and from the Imperium. It was always there, always waiting for this moment. Nothing has changed, but now this God has a name. Amon Dull. Fragmentor and Fragmented. But it could just as well be ‘Emperor’.”

Maltheus looked at Junious. He had the appearance of a man with a rock solid determination to do end this. Maltheus almost thought Junious' expression changed to one of pity.

"His words were designed to incite hatred and feed the Daemon..." Maltheus was nearly growling now. "Much of it was pointless banter to fuel emotion. I'm afraid there was not much beyond that...his insane ramblings about the birth of the new god...cursing the Imperium for what it is, or at least what he sees it as."

Maltheus thought of the ship and that battle. He was not the only one there. Then a thought. NEXUS.

"If only Nexus were here..."

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated SlaaneshBen:

"Nexus is coming," replied Junious, "He's just been... Held up. No details as yet, I'm afraid."

Junious paused for a moment, then continued.

"Balkoth would appear to be, as ever, at the swirling eye of this storm, a madman in the middle of all this chaos and destruction - the calm little centre of a godlings's attempted rise to power."

It sounded so perfect, so... Balkoth.

"Amaurn?" Junious said, turning to the vampire.

"What can you tell us of Balkoth? And who is...Windstrider?"

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated Mentirius:

“Very well. I will begin by making sure you all understand something very clearly: Balkoth is neither a pawn nor a madman. What’s more, he knows more of the Galaxy, of the warp and of reality itself than any of us gathered here, and yes, Eldar, that does include you. Only the Solitaires are exempt. He does not age, he does not sleep, and he does not make mistakes. I admit I am not sure whether he can be killed, but I am yet to meet the man, woman, daemon or whatever who could and would attempt it. Those of you who remember the flagship of the fleet that last attacked Aestimus IX, and the devastating weapon within – every inch of it was designed by Balkoth himself. The same was true of Black Silence, the late Mentirius’ command vessel, and still is of its twin, Futility. Inquisitors Maltheus and Stryde may remember the Living Blade, a style of combat I attempted to demonstrate the basics of during our voyage to Delan’s Point. He invented that too.”

An ominous sensation was creeping into the air, seeming to pollute the very sanctity of the Holy library with dread as Amaurn’s words flowed forth. He paused for a moment, casting a sharp red gaze quickly around the table.

“The list goes on, and must be seen through. If there is one thing I have learned from what has been said so far, it is that Balkoth is being underestimated, and as long as that remains the case we are his toys. It is regrettable, but some time must be spent on the strengths and accomplishments of our enemy if we are to discover a weakness in their midst. It will not be easy, but discover it we must. Even gods have a weakness, and whatever else he may be Balkoth is no god. So I shall continue.

“There are those who have wondered how Mentirius, a psyker of Alpha plus level, was able to sustain and control his powers for any length of time, let alone exist as an Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus. While his abilities were, in part, the result of his…lineage, his training was entirely Balkoth’s own work. I was not yet born when he was presented to the Inquisition, but to have produced a psyker of such a level, fully trained and apparently without taint earned Balkoth the title of Lord Inquisitor. Once they had decided whether to admit the boy, of course. I was not there, but I have seen and studied the device he used. It is similar to a powerful psychic inhibitor, but can be adjusted to a very high level of accuracy to allow a greater or lesser restriction on the powers of the wearer. To begin with it almost fully dampened the young Mentirius’ seething mind, but as he grew older and his training began, it was gradually relaxed, a little at a time. Eventually the training progressed to a sufficient level that it could be removed, though I am told the full extent of his potential was only released in the later stages of the battle for Aestimus IX, and proved unsustainable as a mortal being.”

For once, the vampire Inquisitor actually looked to be enjoying himself. He seemed to relish every detail, drinking in their undivided attention like hot blood as he spoke of matters only he could know, painting his picture of a man beyond compare in cold and wondrous tones.

“The three headquarters of Mentirius were, as I doubt many of you know, handed down by Balkoth in the Will he left us after his disappearance. One for research, one for war, and a third for such dull matters as administration and record keeping. There were three of us, his pupils, yet all were given to Mentirius. The first and most secret of these headquarters was the place he called Secret’s Hold, unique in that it was not designed by him. He found it, early in his career, and it is there he discovered the secret that made him what he is. But I shall get on to that in time. The staff of each facility numbered several thousand, yet even the Inquisition knew nothing of their existence, and it was only during the events of the Nexus Schism that a little about them came to light. My childhood was divided between these places, and from the day I could read I was instructed in the lore of the Imperium, of the Inquisition and of Chaos. Balkoth was my father, my tutor, my God. By day my mind would warp and wrestle with the secrets it contained, so young and so pregnant with forbidden knowledge. By night I endured the whispers of daemons, filled always with promises of power and whatever else I could have wanted. I listened, and I refused every one, because the fear of what Balkoth might do eclipsed my desires completely. He made no effort to shield me from such things. It was all a part of my education.

“Each of his pupils was first expected to master the disciplines of telepathy and telekinesis, though Bauchan never finished his training in that respect and I soon moved on to darker arts. Only when we were accomplished in the mastery of mind and matter were we instructed in the powers of Chaos, but instructed we were, and encouraged to seek knowledge elsewhere if we had the guile to obtain it and keep our sanity. Thus did Balkoth make me, and make the man so many gathered here revere. I have touched upon the Living Blade, and I shall return to it now in greater detail.

“The art is concerned with the use of a daemon weapon in combat, and relies heavily on a cooperative, symbiotic relationship between warrior and blade. The warrior must learn not to suppress the nature of the daemon, while the daemon must learn to direct its will against the opponent rather than trying to escape or gain control. How the daemon is persuaded to consent to this is an area I won’t go into, but it can be done. My training began once I had learned enough to forge and bind my own blade. Balkoth’s is named Dhusgin, and I was never told how such a vast and malevolent being was mastered completely enough for the art. I have never seen it performed with a weapon approaching such status or power. That it slew a Solitaire without touching its master’s hand is proof enough of that, and if it had chosen to cut Inquisitor Maltheus he would not have lived beyond their confrontation.

“I know that my current state as a vampire has often been foremost in the minds of those whom I have dealt with, but I was ‘turned’ – for want of a better word – scant years ago, during my investigations on the then-tainted Aestimus IX. I had lived in excess of three centuries before then, though Balkoth’s disappearance took place early in my own career as an Inquisitor. Yet not a day of memory is lost to me from my training. It is a manner he has, a way of speech and movement that etches itself indelibly into an open mind, and open I was, for what else did I know? On frequent occasions I saw, even spoke with Mentirius, for even after gaining his rosette he worked closely with his former master for many years. The disappearance hit him hard, by all accounts, particularly the revelations in the Book of Balkoth. It wasn’t really much of a book originally, and most of what you’ll read now is made up of condemnations and other useless filler penned by the Inquisitor who found the original manuscript. It would have been no effort at all for him to cover his tracks, to ensure his memory as one of the greatest Inquisitors of our time, tragically killed in action, and to bury every trace of his various heresies. Yet he left it for them. The perfect evidence, rambling dementedly about rituals and eyes before tailing off at the crucial moment. Be sure that every word you read was left for people like yourselves. Balkoth was never mad, and he knew better than to leave something like that where it could be found if he did not wish it to be.

“I make no secret of the fact that I and Mentirius did not get on at all well. He was lofty and self-centred in his youth, and I envied him his privileged position intensely. But it was Bauchan whom the disappearance made especially furious. His training was incomplete, and his very home had been given over to Mentirius, who had no time for him. Eventually he left and gained his rosette under another master, whose name is of no consequence and whom he swiftly abandoned when had taken what he needed. With a head full of Balkoth’s philosophies and insufficient training to manage them, it is no wonder he fell. That he managed anything approaching a career before he did so was an achievement in itself considering his temperament. But I digress; it is Balkoth I am speaking of and so I shall.

“I have little knowledge of him before Secret’s Hold, for he rarely spoke of it and that meant I would have been ill-advised to ask. But he did tell me what he found there; indeed he once took me to see the oracle with my own eyes. Escellon, Keeper of Secrets, now destroyed by Charax the Eternal, had spent millennia in the depths of the labyrinth leeching at that rotten fruit of a world, and when a younger, greener Balkoth first penetrated to its heart the daemon was waiting for him. No doubt he was perfect, the visitor it must have awaited since long before his birth, and when he came upon the oracle a dark bargain was made. The secrets were kept no longer, and all was laid bare before his willing eyes and mind. Hungry for knowledge, he drank deep; though what his side of the bargain was he would not say. And among the truths revealed to him was the prophecy of the Nine, though I only learned of that in recent years. From time to time he would return to those depths, presumably whenever he discovered a gap in his understanding, and I have no doubt that much of what I was taught was borrowed wisdom from the daemon’s lips. That some of it was Balkoth’s own invention is testament to his genius. I do not believe any other could have taken on such knowledge and not been driven entirely insane, but to use it as he did, and does, defies explanation.

“My most recent encounter with Balkoth took place in his new home and laboratory, beneath the palace of his current employer. He no longer works for Amon Dull, despite what you may have heard. His patron is Drazh Marazel, master of the Koldoan Dark Imperium. Daemonic vampires like myself are a disrespected underclass in Marazel’s empire, and it was that in part that allowed me to infiltrate as deeply as I did. I was not considered a threat unless called upon to defend myself, which was not often, though I did eventually have to talk my way to Balkoth or I never would have made it as far as Dark Earth. That I knew as much of him as I do, and was at least not a mortal, was enough to work with, though it took months to find him.
“There is a complex beneath the Dark Emperor’s palace that must extend for several miles into the cold earth, and in it are contained all the resources a man like Balkoth could ever need for his experiments and creations. On the rare occasion that he needs materials from outside, they are obtained and sent to him. More importantly, he is under Marazel’s protection, and a safe distance from Aranis, where Amon Dull keeps his kingdom. Though I doubt that Nine Eyes truly frightens him, despite his betrayal. For betray the daemon he did – the explosion that destroyed The Eye was of his own making, for the weapon was built to misfire the second time it was used. Mentirius’ death, too, was his work. He did not deliver the blow himself, or so he tells me…perhaps some trace of emotion remains within him, or more likely it did not suit his plans to be the murderer, but it was one of his servants who struck. The Ninth of Nine did first attempt to take his own life, it is true, but the daemon in his soul would have delayed him long enough to gain control if another had not fired the shot. Those of you who follow the Book of Mentirius may dispute that, but your opinion is of no consequence – it is the truth of the matter.”

Someone started to say something at that, but Amaurn’s voice suddenly rose in volume, and they were drowned beneath it.

“When I did at last meet with him, I was escorted to the laboratory by the Seven Sects, under the personal guard of Vaith Osis herself. Balkoth’s research is in some way crucial to the Dark Imperium, though I was not permitted to see a great deal and the important projects are no doubt kept deeper and out of sight. Excluding Marazel himself, only the Seven Sects are permitted access to the labyrinth, and it was only when Balkoth was consulted in person that I was grudgingly released from the dungeons and allowed an audience with him. He has servants, of course, but they rarely leave the complex, or the planet for that matter. Some of what he said to me indicated a collection of sorts that he has been working on in recent years. A collection of certain individuals, though who precisely and for what purpose is apparently for him and the Dark Emperor to know.

“We did not speak for long, for Vaith would not allow it. Trust me when I say the contempt the Koldoans hold for the other vampire strains is unrivalled by that of the Imperium for their empire, or that of certain Inquisitors for myself. Much of what was discussed would be of no interest to this council, being primarily concerned with certain personal matters between myself and my former mentor, but I was able to glean some information relating to Amon Dull in the process. When my time was up, I was made an offer, which you can no doubt guess the nature of. Had I accepted, I would be there still. My refusal was taken calmly but it turned his gaze to ice, despite the flame red of his eyes. He waited until I was almost out of the Crissaegrian before giving the word, but the Seven Sects gave chase like I was the Leviathan himself, and were still hard on my heels when I met with Inquisitor Maltheus and began my journey here. There was carnage in the spaceport as we attempted to leave the planet, and for all I know they follow me even now.

“When the time comes, I shall speak of Amon Dull. For the moment, I have said enough, for Balkoth was my subject and I have covered him well enough by now. Unless you have anything further to ask, in which case I will consider giving you an answer. Windstrider is another matter entirely, and will be discussed in turn, but not at such an early stage. I make only one demand in return for this information. That none among you lay a hand on Balkoth, nor raise a weapon against him unless there is no choice. That right is mine alone, and I will kill the man who presumes to take it from me.”

There was a long pause, and he looked at last to have finished. The last sentence lay bold and bloody on the table, daring anyone to take issue. The floor was open once more.

Minutes continue below.


Continued from above.

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated SlaaneshBen:

Junious looked to Maltheus, who gave him a steely glare back. Junious knew Maltheus with Balkoth, and Amaurn's words had stung him hard. But had Amaurn's words not always stung each of them hard? The man had a scorpion's tail for a tongue, and to be within earshot of his oratory was simply asking to be hurt.

Alundirel seemed especially interested in the conversation, his attention piqued as the name Vaith was mentioned. Junious looked to the ancient warrior, who intentionally allowed a flicker of enthusiasm for the chase to run across his visage.

"So into the maw it is then, gentlemen. We know where we must go."

The comment meandered around the room, as if it was merely checking everyone had the same thing in mind.

"I will say it now. I will ask some of you sacrifice things – some of you, it will be your name, good standing in the Inquisition. Others, that sacrifice may be in blood, pain, love or soul."

He breathed in deeply.

"Do not think I would ask any sacrifice lightly."

His eyes flickered to Kely, who stood in the shadows shining like a beacon only he could see; well perhaps he, and one other in the room. The Solitaires knew what was required, and still stood looking ever so nonchalant, though as nonchalant as coiled vipers ready to strike.

"If Balkoth has a weakness, then we must uncover it, either here and now, or at least in transit. I do not wish to speak to the man without being prepared. Ideas?"

Junious finished speaking, and looked around the room. Each gaze seemed pained in thought, or still caught in digestion of Amaurn's words.

"A man who doesn't sleep fears his dreams," Venasquez said, slowly and carefully as if placing his words on water to test if they would float.

"It's something to consider," he continued, with slightly more pace and a shrug.

"I...I...don't think who wins this concerns him... B-Balkoth, I mean."

Kely. Her voice delicate, her words disjointed, but perhaps some Clarity in there.

"I..I... I-think the only thing that matters to him any more is how things are done. If... A-Amuarn is right, then he is playing games with the immortals... He only cares if he wins. I-I think we need to ensure.... His side, is our side."

She disappeared back into the shadows as soon as she had finished, the crippling shyness of the slight girl making the shadows seem ever more appealing.

Silence was king, though surely in a hall filled with such minds a dethroning was already overdue.

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated Lord-Inquisitor_Muundus:

Anya Aporos took all of that was said in, a grim resolve forming inside. She knew that her mentor, Promeus Tekk, had tasked her with aiding Titus Sargoth, with keeping him safe, but it seemed that there was, perhaps, much more dire matters forming in the universe. She gracefully raised herself from her seat, pushing her white cloak behind as she did so.

" My Brothers and Sisters, Lord Junious," she bowed her head in respect as she spoke, " it seems to me that this Balkoth has indeed made an error in judgement."

The men and women at the table looked at Anya patiently, awaiting her explanation. Amaurn, particullarly, seemed interested in her thoughts, pehaps if only to discredit any absurd notion.

"This Balkoth has, you say, Brother Amaurn, chosen for his sponsor Drazh Marazel, the Dark Emperor. A most formidable being indeed, if stories are to be believed. But for all his power, the Dark Emperor is still master of only a very small kingdom, and a very small military force when compared to the might of our Lord's Imperium."

Several of the others present looked as if they were about to speak, but Anya Aporos quickly cut them off.

"Now, it is easily apparent that you do not have an adequate force with you here to pursue Balkoth into Drazh Marazel's domain, but, there are several present here that, begging all of your pardon, still are considered respected members within the Inquisition. Members that could obtain, with little objection or cause for alarm or mistrust, a very sizeable fleet with the express purpose of using it to combat the vampiric threat. I know that both Sister Stryde and Brother Falkus could do so, as well as myself."

Anya Aporos looked aound the room once more, "With sufficient man-power the task of combatting this Balkoth and Amon Dull should be made, at least, substantially less difficult."

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated Inquisitor_Sargoth:

Titus turned to look at Anya, not speaking, but simply raising an eyebrow.

An army. Titus had never believed in crusades and armies. He was an Inquisitor. He fought in the shadows. An army would make a fine distraction, however, drawing troops of the enemy away, fixing their gazes upon the obvious.

“This may not be required,” hissed Shade, only just audible. “The Puritan Council have already called a Crusade against the Dark Imperium, although this may require hastening to meet our needs. The Dark Imperium is full of internal intrigue; the strained relationship between it and Amon Dull, internal bickering and the like. We must also not forget that Amon Dull has other enemies. Khorne has sent a champion to destroy Amon Dull, and it would be naive to assume Nurgle would accept such an overt plot of Tzeentch. It will be Charax that acts for him, he is entwined in this already. We would be weakening the hand of the Imperium needlessly to summon an army – there are many enemies of Amon Dull we could make use of for our own ends.”

The last four words hung heavy in Sargoth’s mind. For our own ends...

Titus turned to Shade, scowling. The man knew things even he had no idea of and spoke the names of the Dark Gods openly at the most casual of times. He’d allowed Titus into his mind, briefly. He wasn’t a servant of chaos, from what he had glimpsed, but the man had an agenda.

Such followers he had. Such a visionary he was.

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated Inquisitor_Arkady:

A fluidic voice that surprised them all suddenly caressed the room.

"Seek ye, humans, sword and gun, so eager to join in bloody fun. Yet considered not, intelligent beasts, the nature of that whom we would seek. Inquisitors, you are called, yet inquiry seems to fall, side by side in warcraft, warpcraft, and bloodthirsted call. Consider the words of this befouled, for you have not yet heard all. Wait upon decisions to arm and man, allow the gathering of force to stall. There is more lore to be had here, more knowledge that you should fear, before your day ends. You know of Balkoth, hated among ye, and you know of Aithol, where no wise present have seen. You know not all that you must, the words but a grain of dust. Listen further, humans, to words yet to come, then gather your forces and discuss a warmakers sum. Inquire, inquisitors, then take pause, know your allies even as you bare your claws."

Folding his arms, Istaranastari tilted his head to one side and returned to silence, Shan'Ess standing close by in a similar pose. It was the first time the Solitaires had addressed them, and while his voice had been beautiful and fluidic, it sounded much like an impatient adult remonstrating a group of impulsive children. That did not bode well with many of the humans present.

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated Lord-Inquisitor_Muundus:

Anya Aporos nodded thoughtfully at the Solitaire's advice.

"The xenos speaks truly. We must know more before we make any decision, to do anything without first learning all that we can of our enemy would be foolish in the extreme." She lifted her hand, finger extended. "But I will stand by what I said earlier, the realm of Drazh Marazel, though no laughing matter, would be fairly easy to overcome if we muster but a small part of the Imperium's power. With the destruction our fleet would cause in his kingdom as a cover, we could send a select group to apprehend the traitor Balkoth. I just do not believe that the manipulation of these chaotic forces would be feasible. We do not know when, or where, they plan to strike. Without such knowledge it would be impossible to use them to our own advantage."

Anya Aporos nodded to those assembled at the table, then once more took her seat.

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated Brother_Falzone:

"Well..." Primus spoke up from his chair. "If he is afraid of his dreams, what good does that do for us? He doesn't sleep. We can't just walk up to him, give him a lavish bed and say "Here, go to sleep... And what if he doesn't sleep because he can't, or is so advanced upstairs," Primus indicated his forehead, "that he needs to stay awake to satisfy his mind's intake requirement."

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated Inquisitor_Sargoth:

Primus’s comments struck Titus somewhat personally – He himself had managed seven hours last night.

“Without meaning to seem rude, I doubt Balkoth’s lack of sleep is something to dwell too long upon – He is more than a human. This is enough. And as the, ah, Solitaire said, we should not discuss armies at this early stage. That girl, I do not know her name, has made an excellent point. It has a dark undertone, but none of us seem sure able to guess his mind, motives and modus operandi. Perhaps we would be best not to dwell on this for the moment,” Titus ventured, never one to leave such a thoughtful silence overlong.

He faltered, expecting a comment about haste, but none came. The council looked at him, some with frowns, others expectantly, others with their faces hidden.

“Amon Dull,” he said slowly. “It has waited until now. Why did it do this? Why... now?”

Titus supplied himself several answers. Unity has fragmented especially at this time. Many of the godling’s old enemies had died. The Imperium and, indeed, the Eldar were weaker than ever.

Perhaps it was never even dormant at all, said a small voice from the darkest corners.

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated N0-1_H3r3:

"Indeed, the matter of sleep is of no consequence – certainly, it is a human necessity and merely lacking the requirement is not entirely without precedent, nor does it indicate weakness. Consider that I have not slept for a single moment in almost nine thousand years, and I would challenge any being to call me weak."

A haunting voice slipped uninvited into Alundirel's mind: Any being, Alund'athil? Such pride is delicious to behold...
Away, beast – I have no time for you now.
You never do...

Shaking the momentary discomfort from his features in an imperceptible shiver, he continued.

"As for waiting, seeks the ideal moment. Even in regards to such change-spawned entities as Amon Dull, and even between the boundaries of species, culture and notional construct, the idea of waiting until the perfect moment is not a strange one, surely. Though, perhaps, in the timeless hell-realm of the warp, the right moment has already been found, and the beast merely awaits the moment he might intersect with it in this reality. Even such a creature is not above misfortune and failure should its time be ill-spent or ill-chosen."

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated Brother_Falzone:

Primus' forehead had been furrowed in deep thought.

"It seems so very strange to me to be called into this." He was now fully attentive, his mind racing through everything he'd heard so far, as his face crumpled in deep thought. "I know some of you are here by choice, and have been since the beginning. I know some of you are as new to this threat as I am. But I did not choose to join this force, nor did I choose to come here. I am stranded by...strangely...fate. No simple circumstance do I find myself in and I do not treat this lightly." He paused, looking around the room, knowing his own battle and personal history may help more than any of them could know.

"Regardless of whether I play some integral part down the line or whether my being here is a fluke...a freak accident of chance... I feel I must ask how this all began. What circumstances led us to find cause to ally with any Eldar or allow them into an Inquisitorial stronghold? And of Novus Versaal, or perhaps any of those here who seem to possess vampiric tendencies…" His gaze fell steadily upon Amaurn. "Can anyone answer why, what would be considered heresy throughout the Holy Imperium of Man, would go un-harassed by the roar of bolter and fire?" His steely gaze, keen and threatening if he needed it to be turned now to Junious again, locking eyes with the young man. "I knew your master, and even helped to train you many decades ago. But the man I see before me is truly not the boy I left behind." His words were ambiguous enough to leave it open whether that was a compliment or a remark of disapproval.

"How came you to be...a herald of anything?" He looked to the others he knew would have to answer the questions he just asked, and started to speak again. "You ask for unity. Unity requires a common belief or goal. Faith in the God Emperor is clearly not common enough to guide this league of extraordinary gentlemen, and whatever else have you. So, indeed, we need to believe in the defeat of this Amon Dull, as well as the rise of what you called… The White Child..." He paused, trying to find the wording.

"I am an Inquisitor Lord, and, I do not pledge loyalty to a cause without knowing what I am joining. I am an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor, which means that if I went even remotely by the book, I would have to rally the army that travelled with me to this system and, no matter how few of us could hope to survive, attempt to kill every single Inquisitor here, for allying with an Eldar and what it sounds like, planning to defend one of their libraries." He looked across the room at Alundirel, wondering what the Eldar was thinking.

"But I do not go by the book, and most of you know this. However, that does not reduce the necessity of knowledge...the need for all to be laid bare. If we are to trust each other, we must do so freely and without hesitation, for as you said so yourself, Junious... This being...Amon Dull... His greatest weakness is our strength in unity...yes? If we are united only in name, and do not trust each other, we are not truly unified. I have seen morale break on a planetary scale over disunity between factions. I have seen heresies spawned from poverty, faulty dogma, and much worse, plummeting entire systems into anarchy and open rebellion.

"And my point is that, if we do not know every aspect of what we are getting into, I do not believe that we can count on unity to save us. Only when we all know what we all know can we ever hope to defeat something that would breed distrust and betrayal amongst us."

With that, he lifted his elbows from the table, lowering his steepled fingers, which had been hovering in front of his mouth since he'd started to think what he needed to say. Sitting back in his chair again, he looked at those he had placed questions in the open for them to answer.

Afterword:  The minutes of the meeting end prematurely at this point along with the meeting itself – more on those developments in Part II.  It should be noted by the cautious reader that some of these delegates may either have been misinformed in their beliefs on any given issue, or actively lying to the rest of the cell.  Amaurn in particular must be noted as a habitual teller of falsehoods for personal gain, and while the general thrust of his account regarding Balkoth appears relatively factual, it is deeply coloured by his personal bias and several inaccuracies may be noted via comparison with more reliable sources. 

- L


Part II – Betrayal

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated Mentirius:

Aboard the Order Vampiris Cruiser Fall of Night, Orbiting Delan’s Reach

“Is that the last of them?”
“Yes milady, all shuttles are now accounted for. We have taken on board one hundred per cent of the specified supplies and personnel.”
“Excellent. Captain, prepare to leave orbit immediately. The Mantis Claw is currently the outermost vessel of the fleet surrounding Delan’s Point. I want a shuttle prepared to send personnel across as soon as possible. Take us as close as is necessary, broadcast the necessary codes to anyone questioning our movements, and hail The Mantis Claw with the message ‘Repsi felis.’ Speed is of the essence, Inquisitor Grisbane has given explicit instructions and he will not stand for any lapses in efficiency.”
“Understood, milady. How many personnel are we sending?”
“One shuttle will be sufficient. I shall assemble the party myself, and I expect to be notified immediately when it is ready and we are in proximity.”
“Very good, milady.”

Sophie had already turned away, the vessel humming to life around her as the bridge became a hive of activity and the Captain set himself to the task at hand. She swept through the blast doors and off into the ship without looking back, staring fiercely at something in the middle distance with jaw set and back straight. Her white hands clasped and unclasped as she walked, she’d worn her hair long today and long it was, almost to her waist and billowing behind her now with just enough extra buoyancy to give away the unseen psychic currents coming off her in streams. The golden web stood out against the deep green of her robes like a burning bush as she all but sailed down nearly a mile’s worth of corridors, buried in the turmoil of her nearly-private thoughts. The time had come, and though everything felt so suddenly fast she knew it could be no other way. Duty demanded this, she assured herself. But Sophie knew even as she dressed it up in fine clothes and clichéd words that deep in her heart of hearts, she longed for the end. She thirsted.

Slipped into one deep pocket, a silver mask slapped softly against a striding thigh. A stylised cat that had been her second face for close to five years now, all of it leading up to this day, this hour, counting down with her heartbeats to the climax of it all. And Leon none the wiser, all this time… These years she’d stood beside him, watching over, keeping him safe. Teaching him the workings of his blossoming mind. These years she’d kept Python and all the rest of them believing in him, kept them willing to make the right move at the right time, every time. Just look at him now! No finer man in the Order and not yet even forty, he’d saved her own life on Gavaria and repaid so much in those few terrible hours without even realising. A wonderful career ahead of him and a good head on his shoulders, not just a hard one. Such men were difficult to find, yet she had found him, nurtured and protected him. What would become of him now? What of them all?

But that was futile thinking, especially with so much to be done so quickly. These tortuous yet strangely exhilarating hours could well be Sophie’s last, and she was not about to waste them being afraid. After all, what is any mortal but a puppet on a thousand tangled strings, pulled in every direction at once by powers far beyond both fear and understanding? At least she knew the who and the why of it, which is more than most. Well, perhaps she didn’t know all of the why, but that was besides the point. The time for choices was long gone now anyway, if it had ever existed. Like a bullet down a barrel, she hurtled on into the future.

Picture, if you will, a rough grey chunk of rock against a background of absolute void. Now scatter a billion times a billion tiny silver lights across that void, and add to the rock a tiny clump of miniature buildings thronged around an insect’s monastery. Next up is the hard part but please bear with me. Around the rock are gathered close to a dozen great star ships, several of the largest approaching its own size. Each one is different and majestic in its own way, though almost all bear the tell-tale lumbering heaviness of Imperial design. Many are bedecked with gargoyles, two-headed eagles and other decorations, for these vessels are the pride of thousands, in spite of the ironic little detail that most of the bugs crawling busily back and forth within their iron bellies will never see them from the outside.

Still with me? Good. Let us move a little closer and focus on one of the largest vessels, long and sleek and hanging like a buzzard at the edge of the flock with a pair of much smaller, blockier companions hovering to one side. The smaller ships are identical and unremarkable, but all three are coloured in the same gleaming black and each bears an elaborate silver crest on both flanks. Shall we examine that crest for a moment? At first glance it bears a striking resemblance to that of the fabled Inquisition with whom we are so familiar, indeed the stylised =][= with the three bars through it is a dead giveaway, but where we are expecting an overlaid skull there is displayed a rather different visage. Appropriately for our current perspective, it is the face of an insect, one eye a yawning socket and the other a blood-red ruby. Or at least it looks like a ruby, but don’t be fooled. Size may be relative but some things remain impossible, at least for the mortals who constructed this miniature fleet. Including, it appears, the addition of any gargoyles or other unnecessary adornments.

Another star ship is approaching. This one does have its fair share of decoration and its size is somewhere between the vastness of our buzzard and the diminutive stature of the two sidekicks. We can’t see from up here but you’ll have to take my word for it that a lot is happening inside. Now it takes up a position on the free side of the largest vessel and slows to a halt. A tiny speck emerges and moves between the two, disappearing quickly into the silver crested behemoth. Something very important has just happened, and as yet only you and I have any idea what is going on.

There is a time for discussion and a time for action. Of course the two are bound to overlap from time to time, but proper discussion is difficult to conduct in the midst of proper action and vice versa. Not to mention that the more dangerous a course of action is likely to be, the more important it is that it first be properly discussed. The obvious problem with this approach, however, is that spending too long in discussion constitutes an invitation for someone else to act before you do, and if that someone be your enemy you may quickly find yourself wishing you’d skipped straight to the action after all and left the discussion for later. Naturally, by the time this happens it is invariably too late to do anything about it…

When the shuttle from Fall of Night arrives on The Mantis Claw, several of the most senior Mentirians left on board are waiting to greet its passengers in person, as requested by Agent Gyrinx in a recent communication. They are expecting an Order Vampiris Inquisitor and his retinue, on the run from persecution by the dogs of the much-hated Puritan Council. He’s been hiding out on Delan’s Reach after an exchange of transmissions with Gyrinx regarding his unfortunate position, and an agreement she has made on their behalf for him to join them on the command vessel as soon as possible. Now they’ve arrived and the meeting is in progress down on the Point, he is eager to complete the rendezvous and offer his support for the cause. And as the shuttle doors slide slowly open, they stand assembled here in preparation for the usual introductions and try to picture what kind of man their newest recruit might turn out be.

Unfortunately, there is no such Inquisitor on board. White light floods the docking bay and everywhere servitors reel, shaking their heads violently and crashing into anything and anyone in their way with mindless mechanical force. By the time anyone thinks to fire a shot the light has intensified into a blinding glare, and only the screams of the dying give any clue to what is happening. Something is already rushing gleefully through tunnels and air vents, spreading from deck to deck at a speed the alarm klaxons have no hope of matching. Somehow a warning reaches the bridge moments before it does, but everywhere lights are going out and garbled communications have blurred into roars of white noise. The warning buys just enough time for the Captain to turn a panicked face in the direction of the blast doors as they explode inwards and sail across the room towards him, but not quite enough to dive out of the way.

“This vessel is now the property of Our Most Holy Unified Lord. All devotees of the Ninth of Nine will prepare for immediate battle.”

The room was domed and dark as sin, and the flickering light of the candles cast shadows that danced like daemons on the walls. Sophie stood as if on the brink of some high cliff over a deep and pitiless void, her arms stretched out like a puppet on short strings, and she sang the twisted words of the ritual like an epitaph as a poisonous green glow began to rise from the floor. She stood at the edge of a vast and complicated circle drowned in runes and jagged lines, and whatever they may have been daubed with the symbols were fast becoming a sea of emerald flames. At the apex, the ship’s navigator lay chained and bound, and with every solemn word more heathen writing crawled over his mutilated flesh and burned itself into the pallid skin.

This would be it, she was promised when it all began. One last service. When this last hideous thing was done, she still told herself, she would at last be free and the Nine Eyes would turn their gaze from Inquisitor Grisbane. Of course, she knew it was downright stupid to trust a daemon, but what choice did she have? It was all she had left to hope for now. She had given everything to try and appease the beast, but still she kept hope clutched tightly to her chest. This was all another nightmare, and nightmares have to end eventually. If not for her, then at least for the good Inquisitor who saved her life a matter of months ago and would surely go on to become a true hero of the Imperium one day. At any rate, a better Inquisitor than Sophie ever was. Mentirius would have liked him.

Someone behind her was laughing quietly, and as it grew louder she strained harder and harder with the effort of keeping her concentration. Warp lightning crashed around the ceiling overhead, and it was no natural laugh that crept slowly up the back of her neck and whispered in her ear. At first it was like a child, then many children playing together, but there was something wrong about it and a sudden image flashed up in her head of infants with glassy black eyes torturing a cowering dog. They kicked at its head, jabbed it with sticks, punched holes in its ragged flanks and spilled dark blood on rough grey concrete where nothing living grew. Then they fell upon its body and gnawed at its flesh, laughing louder all the time. She swallowed a scream but it rose back unbidden, forming itself into the final words with a triumph all its own. Only dimly away of the explosion, she hit the wall hard and collapsed to her knees, drowning in waves of terrible power that broke against her like storm-lashed seas on a blasted coast.

When the surges of energy finally began to subside and some semblance of reality trickled cautiously back in, Sophie was lying tightly curled in the foetal position, her hands over her face. She knew what was looming over her like a mountain more clearly than she knew anything now, but she could not bring herself to look at it, much less stand and face the monster. It drew a rumbling breath like the gears of some huge and terrible war engine, and as if on some unearthly signal the dreadful laughter began to return. Then a voice spoke from the depths of her mind, buried deep and insidious where nothing could dampen its tone.

“You have doomed and damned yourself and everything that means anything to your pathetic little heart. The Mentirians are mine now, and it was your betrayal that sealed their fate. Leon Grisbane is a toy, a nothing, and he will die despising you for what you have done. Worlds will burn for your weakness. Children will scream for your fear and your lack of resolve. Now get up, puppet, and receive your reward.”

It was not a command she had a chance to disobey. Sophie was yanked to her feet by invisible strings, her movements no longer her own as her arms dropped to her sides, her head tipped back and her eyes snapped open. This time the scream wouldn’t come, but the creature filled her with a raw and primal fear as surely as its clawed wings filled the chamber. Gnarled talons raked the floor and huge rough shoulders braced against the roof of the dome, sketched out by an eerie light that seemed to come from everywhere at once while doing nothing to diminish the suffocating darkness. Its skin seemed overstretched somehow, pulled taught by corded muscle that warped and distorted the fading runes as it settled into borrowed flesh and adjusted what had once been a man to its liking. Yet all this was no more than a frame for the horror of its face.

Even now there was some vague semblance of humanity about the features, but as small as the face should have seemed on such a gigantic beast it commanded her immediate attention. A halo of jagged horns crowned its head, ears pulled back as if by hooks to make room for an impossibly wide mouth framed by mandibles like cutlass blades. The nose had melted and sunken so severely as to give the impression someone had hacked it roughly off, and the eyes were set deep into the skull like tiny black jewels in sockets of tarnished jade. Or at least, two of them were. Not only did the navigator’s third and most important eye remain, it had grown to enormous proportions and all but filled the widened forehead. It took her a moment to realise it was closed, for the heavy lids were brightly marked with the image of a monstrous green eye that would never blink, and when she did a fresh stab of terror froze the blood in her veins and she found she could look nowhere else. Whatever lay beneath was surely more terrible even than this.

“Curious, are we?”

Why doesn’t it speak?

“And what exactly do you think it would say? The Firstborn has no interest in you, puppet. If it spoke to you it would only be doing so on my behalf, and I do enjoy a personal touch with these little games. There’s no need to thank me, you’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last. It passes the time.”

One day someone will beat you at your own game. Someone stronger and purer than I ever could be will choke you on your own loaded dice and when they do you’ll never see it coming.

“An interesting viewpoint, certainly. I wonder who you might be thinking of? Just to set your mind at rest, I wouldn’t go worrying about your precious Inquisitor Grisbane. He’ll get his chance sooner than you think, and that’s the kind of promise I actually tend to keep. Not that you’re likely to notice when he goes and gets himself broken, but I’ll be sure to let him know who got him involved in the first place. How does it feel to be a traitor?”

Enough! You’re inside my head, I’m sure you know well enough what you’ve done to me. And I know what’s coming, so why not kill me now and get it over with? I’m so much more than ready…

“This ends when I say it ends, puppet. Mortals all die sooner or later; whatever makes you think you’re getting off so lightly? You know nothing of what’s coming, and don’t bother painting yourself as a victim here. You did this to yourself. More than that, you did it to so many countless others who will feel the pain and hear the laughter, who will suffer under hatred’s yoke forever now because of you. All for the sake of one irrelevant man who would no doubt have died to stop this happening, and will die regardless when the storm begins. Congratulations, Sophie. And I doubt you’ll get the reference, but for amusement’s sake…Welcome to the End.”

Frozen in space with wide and frightened eyes, there was nothing she could do to save herself. The monster’s eyelids drew back and the bloated warp eye opened like the very jaws of hell. This time Nine Eyes let her scream, but the sound was distorted and inhuman like a the echo of some faraway animal howl, drowning quickly in the rising din of a million soulless children laughing long and hard through bleeding throats and ruptured lungs. All around her they crawled and jumped and waddled from the encroaching darkness like tears of madness wept by that unholy orb. As they snatched at her limbs and dragged her down she felt she was falling into a bottomless chasm, staring dumbly into her own destruction all the time. Sanity crunched and shattered like a wineglass underfoot, scattered in all directions in tiny sparkling shards. Forgotten nightmares bubbled up from the darkest corners of her mind and sank their claws in deep, and the Firstborn’s jaws unhinged and unfolded above her in a mocking parody of a yawn. Nine tongues like whips spilled out and lashed the air, plucked Sophie from the children and reeled her swiftly in, stopping just short of those horrible jaws and bringing her truly level with the eye. It swelled and spiralled and swallowed the stars, and this time she knew she would fall forever. Somewhere in the distance, a tortured scream gave up and joined in with the laughter.

The meeting was still in full swing when a shuttle from Fall of Night arrived on Delan’s Point, containing a single person and broadcasting the codes of Inquisitor Grisbane. Lord Junious had left strict instructions that he only be disturbed in the direst of emergencies, so nobody questioned the arrival of one more Inquisitorial servant and a cursory greeting party was sent to the docking bay with the usual escort of armed servitors. What they found would have served as a warning to anyone who knew the ways of Amon Dull, but the staff of Delan’s Point were far from being as educated as their master, and the woman who staggered down the steps and sank to her knees in front of them was met with no more than puzzled incomprehension. Her robes were torn and ragged, her hair a tangled mess, and her feet were bare and bleeding badly like she’d walked on razorblades. She cried so hard she was shaking, and when she looked up at them her cheeks were red and wet with tears. A broken grin hung loosely on her face.


She spoke in a singsong voice like a child, throwing up her hands as silent tears continued to flow.

“Welcome to the End! Aha! He said it… They stare in from the outside…but the outside is the inside and then you can’t get out… Everything turns green when it’s dark! He said it’s time now…”

It was only when she started laughing that anyone realised she was a psyker, for the sound echoed in their memories and made hairs stand on end. Only the servitors remained unmoved, lacking as they did the capacity for understanding concepts like laughter and insanity. But even they could do little to hold their ground when the earthquake hit, and it shook the monastery to its foundations like a blow from the Gods. Klaxons blared and red lights flashed, but before the tremors had died away an explosion somewhere overhead sent another shockwave slamming through the Point. The madwoman reeled away into the chaos, laughing all the time, and at the building’s command centre messages loaded with late warnings and distress calls were already flooding in thick and fast. Though it had barely had a chance to begin, it seemed the time for discussion was already well and truly over.

In their defence, it would have been too much to expect of the ragtag fleet surrounding Delan’s Point that they be ready for such a sudden attack from within their own number. In the name of unity the relative truce between their various owners had been extended to the mismatched collection of vessels, at least for the duration of the meeting, so when The Mantis Claw broke ranks and unleashed a barrage of torpedoes it was all the lucky ones could do to brace for impact in the hope of minimising damage. As it turned out the Mentirian command ship was deceptively heavily armed, and as thousands of unseen crewmen scrambled to their battle stations the gleaming black behemoth headed right for the asteroid, firing on all cylinders at anything within range.

In a matter of minutes one of the vessels began to return fire, but they were tightly clustered and another was nearly caught in the crossfire. With slow and murderous intent The Mantis Claw slid forwards, shunting head-on into its neighbour and carrying both of them deeper into the fleet. Explosions burst along its flanks as incoming torpedoes struck hard, but the damage wasn’t enough to halt its momentum and the potential carnage of a chain of serious collisions was fast becoming horrifically clear. Unknown and unseen in the heart of the ship, the servants of Amon Dull were already poised to overload the warp core and complete the catastrophe. The last remaining headquarters of Mentirius and his legacy would shine like a star for one glorious moment, likely obliterating half the fleet in the process of its own destruction. All around it vessels kilometres long jostled for position as they struggled to turn around and get themselves clear. It was in the midst of this that Fall of Night, awaiting the return of a shuttle and therefore currently the closest vessel to the Point itself, began to bomb the monastery.

When the angels arrived the defence turrets were already blazing, but even in great numbers they were like insects faced with gunfire and they dodged and weaved effortlessly through the onslaught as they swooped on Delan’s Point. The Firstborn plummeted at their head like a dragon with its vast wings folded back, dwarfing the feathered host with an armoured bulk the turrets surely could not fail to shoot down, but when a blast did hit home it barely even slowed the monster’s dive. It struck the roof like a comet and the angels swarmed around like fireflies with their tiny burning swords, anxious to get in and set about their master’s will. Explosions rocked the fortress and blasted craters in the asteroid’s barren landscape. Then a snarling blade as long as a tree swung high in the Firstborn’s hand and crashed unstoppably down.

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated N0-1_H3r3:

The warp rippled as the human psyker laughed as only those for whom sanity is a distant memory can.

Alundirel's instincts – more than twice as fast as those of anyone else in the room – kicked into action less than one twentieth of a second after the laughter began. Blanketing himself in shrouds of his own psychic effort, he forced all attention from himself – a simple enough matter, given his ability for stealth and the shuddering tremors that gripped the monastery that distracted the humans.

Where do you think you're going?

Away... the meeting is over, I have no further purpose in this particular place. I have other things to do... leave me be, Orkanaith.

Beyond immediate notice, Alundirel slipped silently from the chamber that rapidly became a ruin, driven by a purpose only he knew.

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated Mentirius:

Perhaps by coincidence, more likely by a daemon’s design, the first fragment of the library roof to fall landed square in the middle of the long table and snapped it in half like a twig. The cell had already risen in the first moments of the attack, but few had yet left the chamber and in the confusion of alarms and explosions all hope of keeping order amongst those remaining had been lost. Panic and disorder reigned supreme, and anyone within reach of a weapon was now brandishing it furiously and trying in vain to yell over the noise of the emergency. The destruction of the table drew every eye in the room, but their gazes lifted quickly to the ceiling far above, shot through with cracks and already starting to cave relentlessly inwards from the power of some unseen impact. Then a daemonblade big enough to skewer a tank punched through again and more rocks fell, some landing in their midst with sickening force and sending people scurrying desperately for the exits. The cracks were widening and rays of searing white light speared down. When a voice boomed out as if from the very quivering walls, it sliced through the din like an axe head and its malice echoed long and loud in the corridors and sacred halls.

“Nine Eyes see you, little puppets… It is time the Firstborn cut some strings.”

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated LordXaras:

With an explosion of splinters, The Firstborn landed in the chamber. The shards of the massive table were suspended in the air as the gaseous contents of the room were desperately rushing out in an insane attempt to fill the endless void outside. The banner of unity was flapping madly, now torn by the beast’s talons.

“YES! Flee! Worthless maggots! Soon I shall set you free!”

Most of the Cell was already out the doors, but the massive decompression was still not contained, and large quantities of the Point’s air supply was now draining. The Firstborn laughed as he jabbed his blade for someone. Amaurn hissed and rolled out of the way from the titanic Daemon’s attack, quickly slipping out of the nearby exit.

Among thoughts of panic, fear and desperation, he felt questions. He was going to answer them. In his gaping maw the mass of tongues whipped and played, forming words that vibrated even without air in the room. It did not matter what language the listener preferred, since the Daemonic tongues of The Firstborn would form any language. Even Alundirel heard the bestial voice ring through the bedrock of the Point, and he shuddered at hearing the Daemon speak in his own tongue.

“I am the kicker that puts change in motion. I see and read the web of lies. I command the Angelic Host of Amon Dull. I am His Firstborn, Bu’ran, the one with Nine Tongues. And I am my lord’s Will Incarnate.”

All men heard, and all men understood.

“Angels. To me.”

Those of the Angelic horde that were not already rushing through the tunnels danced around him, giggling and laughing. Bu’ran played them like an instrument, directing their insane cackle with his thick hands. They responded to his commands perfectly, as if they were only extensions of his essence, and the song of laughter they played cascaded against the walls of the room like a violent storm, while at the same time licking the ceiling like a wildfire.


He laughed while the Angel screamed their laughter throughout the warp.

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated Inquisitor_Sargoth:

A stream of obscenities went unheard in the chaos of the meeting chamber as the sword first stabbed into the chamber.

A fragment of the roof fell from directly above Sargoth, before it stopped then slowly drifted to the floor as he stepped aside. Being a damned witch had many advantages.

What he currently regarded as a major disadvantage was the agonising pulsing headache caused by the daemonic presence. It made it hard to concentrate.

There was no way to make his voice heard here. Telepathy be praised.

With me!

Sargoth’s associates moved towards him quickly; he was already moving towards an exit in what was becoming a crazed mob.

Fabrix was at his side in moments, Ver Leth and the assorted Inquisitorial allies behind him.

The doorway was too small for everyone to fit through quickly enough. A fist of telekinetic power widened it considerably, and the crowds had no choice but to part before him.

Even outside the meeting chamber, Delan’s Point was madness. People were running everywhere, alarms screaming, the entire structure shaking as the daemon tore it apart and the first salvoes of explosives detonated.

The chances of a shuttle surviving were low, even if he could reach one, but a slim chance was infinitely preferable to none. Titus was running now, sprinting towards the shuttles, doors slamming open at his approach, people flying out of his way.

And then he heard the daemon. Every word, ever damned syllable, was agony. It was laughing, gloating in its own bloated self-importance. He sped up.

His legs burned with pain. His head felt like it going to explode, and he realised his nose was bleeding.

He heard the sounds of screams behind him, and risked a backwards glance. A tech priest was being eviscerated by a beaming angel.

Titus did not stop running even when he could scarcely catch a breath. He remembered the way to shuttle bays, thankfully – it was not too far, and now he running past shuttles of varying design and size before he saw his own, a slim yet boxy design. Loading servitors stood oblivious to the impending doom of the facility.

Titus unlocked the door, noting that the pilot wasn’t present. Sargoth half leapt, half fell into the tiny shuttle.

“Close the damn door!” he screamed as the others spilled in behind him

Fabrix, his expressions rendered unreadable by his implants, complied. Even his pale face was flushed with exertion, beads of perspiration coating his bionic eye and the surrounding flesh.

Only four of them remained. Himself, Magos Synatrix and Inquisitors Lucius Ver Leth and Pandora Veres.

“We cannot afford to wait for the others, if they are even still alive,” Titus hissed, the shuttle shaking as further explosions rocked Delan’s Point. “I can pilot a shuttle, but I have no real expertise. Are any of you better qualified?”

“I am,” Veres replied, her face grave.

Titus moved into one the co-pilot seat, strapping himself in. Fabrix and Lucius strapped themselves into the nearest passenger seats as the shuttle disengaged from the rapidly collapsing monastery.

A fist beat on the door.

“Just go,” Titus spat.

The shuttle took and left the hangar at the fastest safe speed, behind another two. As they left the collapsing monastery, they could now see clearly what was happening

Pandora cursed softly. Titus said nothing, wiping the blood from his face, his scowl deeper than ever.

Afterword: One cannot help but notice some of the delegates considered especially wise by their fellows were also among the first to flee the scene.  Many of those present at the meeting remain unaccounted for to this day, though it is certain that Alundirel Seall’Athil, Lord Darkness and Titus Sargoth all survived the disaster that befell the monastery.  Sargoth would not get far, however – more on that subject in Part IV.
- L


Part III – Junious

Recorded by Servo-Scribe designated SlaaneshBen:

The Angel rain broke on the atmospheric sphere and the plastheen broke beneath them immediately. Across the whole of the base, alarms screeched. All the external doors had vacuum shutters slam shut immediately, crashing with the sound of steel and the screech of finality. Sealed in, they were safe from certain death outside.

As the ceiling of the library was caved in by the huge blade, that illusion of safety was shattered and left in ruins as the air began to seep out into the endless void.

The ground were pleasant at this time of the year, with the distant star of the system high in the sky – the atmospheric sphere provided what was nothing more than idyllic weather, but Savant knew just when it was summer on his native Delan’s Reach and found himself at peace when this time came.

The grass was thick and lush, the trees tall, thick and majestic.

The Inquisitors who had come had been pleasant and this had pleased him greatly; he was even beginning to pick up at the hints of optimism that had previously been absent from his lord and master, Junious.

The place had been ominous and foreboding before the recent arrivals. The arrival in particular of Inquisitors Maltheus and Stryde had filled Junious with a happiness Savant had never seen in his young lord. Purpose was returning to the Point, a purpose that had been lost somewhere between the point at which Junious had arrived and the period spent waiting, simply waiting, for everyone to arrive.

Overhead, there was a shadowing.

Bigger, greater, darker, haunting the grounds around the monastery; those in the grounds stared upwards with wonder, then a growing fear as the dark consumed the whole of the grounds. Beneath them the first blasts from the warships crashed into the great behemoth of an asteroid and began tearing chunks of stone from the Point.

Savant heard the comms instantly spike in his head, a thousand screeching voices haunting the airways as the weapons crews on alert had burst into action. Confusion reigned supreme – Savant was sure he heard the ghost of a green tinged laugh, a lime coloured sneer, a truly leaf green roar of pleasure.

But that was a distant sound, a sound that had barely left him before robbing him of time to shelter from the debris crashing all around him. Air left his lungs like a treacherous stranger waiting for the opportunity to leave a sinking ship. His legs clamped down firmly by the artificial gravity, his body pulled by the persistent grab of the vacuum.

And all the time, the pull of the emptiness on all of his body. His eyes burst. His lungs pulled up his throat. From all other orifices blood began to pour and spray on the floor. He felt his spine stretch, then yank, then contort and finally snap.

He felt his innards feel suddenly wretched, then in a violent twist and explosion come apart.

His mind was deprived of all senses, barely enough oxygen to keep his mind alive for a few seconds – but for those few blinding seconds, those agonising moments that his mind was left, he knew hell.

And to know hell for but two seconds is to truly know the meaning of infinity.

“Get out!”

Junious barked the furious command as the ceiling fell in.

Ticking time now, ticking faster and faster. He knew he had to get out, get far from here, get inside the monastery.

That insidious presence, that great stench of humanity and hatred. He knew what was present but knew he had not the time to face down this daemon.

Doubt, Herald? I find that delicious.

“Venasquez, the bann-”

But his right hand man was already dead, crushed beneath a huge piece of rubble. His body was crushed and leaking blood quickly. His insides were coming outside and Junious felt himself choke down quickly on what air he could salvage.

Beside him he grabbed the girl, Kely, who was screaming insanely, already hyperventilating with huge panicked breaths of air that was barely there anymore. Reprieve flew to his hand without any necessity for a second impulse and fitted comfortably onto Junious’ back.

The huge sword crashed down again, severing the floor and cracking the walls. There was nothing left of the table, obliterated in the onslaught. The air was thick with the warp, stinking of copper, sulphur and death. Blood sprayed all round the room from the dead and the pull of infinity.

Junious stared bewildered for another second at the destruction. Amaurn was missing from sight, as were Maltheus and Stryde.

It barely mattered – underneath the rubble, and strewn across the room were the bodies of the dead, or the recently condemned. The emptiness of space would ensure there were no survivors.

And there, across the dust, across the madness of the destruction, glittering as insanely as all the death, were the Solitaires, resplendent and regal even in the midst of all this carnage.

Their masks glinted sheen sheer black, and spoke only of death.

Herald, I suggest you and my accomplice leave.

Shan’Ess, it would appear, would face the daemon alone.

The Great Jester knows all,
and sees this prank and is amused;
But threaten his best and he will bring his worst.
Nine eyes may see, but in the webway are blind,
Blighted by Jester, his kin and his kind.

Shan’Ess bounded wildly across the room as Junious and Kely left the room, struggling against the weight of the vacuum, picking through the carnage like war torn refugees.

“I see you, daemon.”

“Nine Tongues taste you, Solitaire.”

“You will not taste my flesh this day, beast.”

The huge sword swept into nothing but an empty space, filled with what looked like droplets of blood but were nothing more than promises of crimson. Bu’Ran hefted his blade as swarms of his Angels chased the shadow across the room.

But it was a maddening endeavour, as lashes of a sword ripped them apart; a sweeping cut from a Kiss caught them and tore them from reality. Psychic power, defined, refined, focused hatred that mirrored Bu’Ran’s own but burnt with true purity and purpose filled the air and the squeals of the chorus around the Greater Daemon were torn asunder in the maddening blur.

Angelic limbs, in truth nothing more than fused hate and purpose binding pure emotion given physical form, slopped to the ground as the Solitaire moved and danced in a blur. The limbs hit the floor and disappeared leaving only a smear of pure green intention where they lay.

“You’ll die here, Solitaire – even you must breathe.”

“You think even the pull of emptiness would deter me from taking you as well? Creature, I am the stars.”

The blade came round again, smashing asunder a galaxy of white lights but finding nothing more than a shimmering haze of stars. And how the light moved now, in a million directions and not all at once as it came for Bu’Ran, the huge monster slow to repel the exponentially quicker Eldar that cut through the thick armour on its leg, its chest, and through three tongues in a blur that quite caught the beast by surprise.

“I’ve seen your kind die before, Solitaire. Your death will be slow and painful and your pain infinite in the embrace of She Who Thirsts.”

“A youthful arrogant boast of a youthful god who would be – know this, I have carved down more of your kind than there are stars in the sky.”

A jumping, twisting parry, the giant blade scoring a great rend in the already cracked and destroyed wall.

“Know my kind have deposed more gods than is conceivable, even to a mind as depraved as yours.”

A dodge so quick that the air being sucked into space would only move seconds later, in the wake of the huge fist that further splintered the floor.

“Know the ancient terror a thousand of your kind have felt before and will feel in the presence of that which guarantees your death.”

A frustrated roar at a foe who could barely be seen, could only be felt in the lashes of distant needling pain that ached all over Bu’Ran.

“Know this Bu’Ran, that I have seen your face, I have seen your mon’keila birth. I have seen your fear. And I fear nothing.”

And then she stopped. The blurring, the crazed hiss of the Harlequin’s Kiss, the monomolecular blade in hand.

“Not even you.”

Bu’Ran grinned, a mighty assumption on his part.

For the final words were not for him.

I fear nothing my Lord.

Manic laughter echoes across a thousand voids.

I am at home in his jest,
In the arms, the chest,
Of he;
A most joyous calamity

The blade fell.

How delicious I should finally have time to dine on you, morsel most fine...

I fear nothing

Not even you

A game for immortals.

The rules have never been clearer, the stakes never – though there has always been an entente cordiale between one divine player and the mortal pieces with which this game is played.

And while one player dives through the void, clawing and moving as slow and as glacially as an emotion, or as quickly as a flicker of anger and lust and envy, another gently coaxes a laugh from the piece.

And while one player opens a maw thick with the stench of death and devoured kin, another begins to dance and laugh and jump and through itself through the void.

And what one player knew for definite is now shattered as a billion pieces explode all around it, and the void is filled for but a moment with joyous, raucous infectious laughter.

But what one player thought was a great jest is soon rent asunder as the maw of the other player tastes what it came for, and the pieces vanish from sight.

A hand claws through the aethyr, clawing, reaching, struggling.

I am safe inside your jes-

The hand touches divinity, and claws onto it for but a second.

And like a mortal life before it, for that second the soul knew what infinity was and delighted in the laughter all around forever in the infinite jest.

I cannot save you all.

As Bu’Ran watched the corpse of the Solitaire vapourise underneath his blade in a shattering of blood, bone, and fluid and as it did so he let himself feel a short, sharp but entirely gratifying tingle of satisfaction.

And yet, beneath the daemon, beneath the layers of hatred, beneath the immortal knowledge of the aethyr, deep within his all too human psyche a seed had been planted.

And that doubt spoke to him in a myriad of tones, screeching and laughing and playing, those tones of that which had but seconds before vanquished.

Marked to dance with the damned,
You are,
Spinning around in a mire of hate;
Know that now, or tomorrow,
Or later,
You shall know the meaning of fate.

Tick. Hisssh. Thud.

Junious dashed under air seal door, pulling the squealing sobbing Kely with him as he made good time with Istaranastari through the core of the asteroid. His hammer weighed heavy, slung on his back but he kept his pace consistent, breathing fluidly into his huge lungs and feeling the burn of adrenaline coursing through his vei-.

Tick. Hissssh. Thud.

Another door opened, and closed behind them. The doors knew their master by an automated detection system that picked up a sensor Junious carried with him while he was resident on the Point – now it seemed like a liability as he could be tracked across the monastery.

For what it mattered.

The shivering asteroid was being carved apart from the outside by at least one warship resident in orbit around the station. Junious knew only his ship had been out on patrol and wasn’t due back for a while – he hoped his crew, competent as they were, had received the automated distress beacon that would have fired as the atmospheric sphere was torn open and were making all speed back to the Point.

He had to hope they had, for the good of –

Tick. Hisssh. Thud.

They moved onwards, keeping a consistent pace through the asteroid. No doubt most of the shuttles were gone now, either destroyed on the monastery or being tracked in space. There would be no salvation there, though this place that Junious had thought would be an ideal beacon of hope and salvation now felt like a prison that kept them all in reach of the talons of the beast.

Here, floating between the embrace of gravity from Reach and the pull of infinity beyond left them suspended somewhere over hell, a hell that was now somewhere overhead and presumably tearing through the layers of earth above his head to get at the core of –

Tick. Hisssh. Thud.

The noise of the doors made for a terrible metronome beat to which Junious, the remaining Solitaire and Kely kept time with their steps. More terrible, thought Junious, than the throbbing beat of his heart in his chest or the manic screaming of Kely next to him that was only punctuated by the deep gulping single staggered breaths between them. More terrible even, than the constant silence of the Solitaire, which was stoic and unshakeable even in the face of this terrible act.

Even it, the crazed coloured warrior, the bizarre flickering ancient alien, seemed lost amidst the carnage and the noise from above, and the shaking, shuddering of the asteroid below them.

And even though he regretted almost immediately, for the briefest of seconds, Junious couldn’t feel hope.

The Lancing Light came about like the turning of a planet into a dread tomorrow that may never come. Aboard, the crew worked double triple time toiling in the stinking damp conditions as the ship groaned under the added pressure.

Time weighed heavy on the ship; it was barely halfway across the system on patrol, too far to bring its weapons to bear in the horrific attack that had erupted at the Point, and worse still perhaps too far away to help.

“What is the target?”

One question but to the Captain of the Lancing Light it may have been a choir of the unknowable and the unanswerable fizzing in his head. The ships ahead were a blur of violence and twisted metal as they crashed into each other like tumbling dominos above the head of his employer.

A bead of sweat perched steadily on the brow of the captain, poised like the words on his lips, but not yet ready to find freedom. Not yet sure enough of itself to let itself fall into the consequences of that freedom, not brave enough to just let itself go.

++ One of the vessels appears to be attempting to overload its warp core. No definitive answer can be given on the time it will take to accomplish... ++

It didn’t matter.

The bead fell and on the bridge of the Lancing Light, consequences fluttered into motion like a tightrope walker falling without a net.

A banner of unity floated without purpose into the starkness of space. It had been torn almost immediately from its stand as the ceiling had been torn asunder. Ripped, floating without purpose it had been ragged and burnt by the descending Angelic host and left behind like the corpse of hope it now represented.

Abandoned and at the whim of fate, it hung in the space above Delan’s Reach and prayed for a reprieve.

Afterword: The Unity Banner was first commissioned by First Inquisitor Junious for use at the Laternus Prime Conclave called by Lord Inquisitor Mentirius to combat the threat of Amon Dull, some four years earlier.  Reports found in Parts IV and V disagree as to the banner’s ultimate fate – either it was recovered by Acolyte Ripley, who nearly died in open vacuum in the process, or was swept away from the Delan’s Point in the battle and further out into space.  Also of note, the death of Sha’Ness at the hands of Bu’Ran was no small demonstration of this daemon’s potency.  Nor were the Firstborn and its master the only major daemons with an interest in Delan’s Point, as demonstrated by the arrival of Charax the Eternal’s personal fleet (see Part IV).

- L


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