Author Topic: Lux Eterna  (Read 5397 times)

Offline Swarbie

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Lux Eterna
« on: December 20, 2009, 08:08:56 AM »
+++Accessing data-log+++
+++Security Level Magenta encryption+++
+++Override accepted+++
+++Welcome, Inquisitor…+++ 

I am in the Schindelgheist system, and I am dying.

In a way, I am glad. I was born here, the Inquisition found me here, and it is one of the few places where I have family. It is fitting that I should lay down my life in its defense.

This log is an account of all that has happened since my arrival on Schindelgheist Major. I leave it so that, if the alien menace that now surrounds us is eventually victorious, all will know what happened here. I leave it so that the brave men and women who have died assisting me will be forever remembered as some of the Emperor’s finest servants.

I leave it, so you may use it to light the darkness that is slowly throttling our Imperium.

Ave Imperator,
Inquisitor Jorken Anateus Rovel, Ordo Xenos. 

+++Begin download+++
+++Processing information+++
+++Download complete+++
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2009, 05:32:03 AM »
I stepped off the landing-crafts access ramp and looked around the spaceport. It was full of bustling activity, men, women and children going about their daily business. I kept a firm grasp on Racquel’s hand as usual.

She looked up at me and smiled. I felt the familiar twinge of unease, that sense of wrongness about her. She was a psychic blank, an untouchable. I found it ironic that over our time together, I had become so dependent on physical contact with her.

“Schindelgheist Major,” she said.
“Yes,” I replied. “It feels good to be back. I missed it.”

I breathed deeply. The air was similar to that on most Imperial-held worlds; strong with the stench of industrialization and the unwashed masses of humanity. But it had something else, too. A coppery-tang filled the air, along with hints of iron and salt. The scent of blood.

We started walking towards the exit. Soon we were out of the hangar-zone and in the departures and arrivals area. Suddenly, Racquel tugged my arm and pointed to a small room off to one side of the port.

“What is that room used for, Jorken?”
“It’s a blood-letting room, dear. So that people travelling to other systems do not cause so much trouble in transit.”

 She went pale. “You mean- they actually…”

We stopped walking, and I took her face in my hands.

“This system follows a death-cult, my love. I told you that.”
“Yes, but I just thought…”
“That it wouldn’t be so obvious? Fanatics are not subtle.”

I kissed her to calm her nerves.

“Anyway, it will not affect you. You know I would not let any harm come to you. My brother’s house is one of the safest places you will ever have been in.”
“Alright,” she said.

We walked down and hailed a public-speeder. As we got in, I let go of her hand and suddenly felt something strange. There was a disturbance in the warp.
I wasn’t sure what it was, but something was there. It seemed that my holiday wouldn’t be so relaxing after all. 
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2009, 04:41:56 AM »
The speeder stopped at the gates of my brother’s mansion. I thanked the driver and paid him. Racquel and I disembarked.
A
lthough I would normally have simply made my presence known, I decided I would enter quietly. I quickly disarmed the security system on the front gate and walked with Racquel around to the back of the house, near the kitchens. We could hear a loud, strong baritone singing along to the March of the Primarchs

I smiled and quietly opened the kitchen door. There, with his back to us, was my brother, singing as he cooked. He appeared to be slicing fresh plim fruits.

“I see your taste in music hasn’t changed one bit, Adreon,” I said.

He whirled around and, without hesitating, threw his knife at my head. Acting out of instinct, I ducked as Racquel screamed.
I stood up, took one look at the expression of shocked amazement on his face, and burst out laughing. I stepped forward and embraced him.

“Ah, Adreon, it’s been too long,” I said.

“Only ten standard,” he replied. “Anyway, what were you thinking, sneaking in like that? You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“Call it a return to my roots. Remember when we used to hide from the abbot at the Schola Progenium?”

“How could I forget? The whipping he gave us when he found us…So, how are you these days?”

“I’m well, thank you. And how is little Lucia doing?”

“Oh, she’s doing wonderfully. In and out of the garden chasing imaginary aliens every day, just like her Uncle Jorken.”

“Well, God-Emperor protect them when she’s older.”

Adreon motioned for me and Racquel to sit down. He added the plim fruit slices to a bowl of fruit salad then joined us at the table. He turned to Racquel.

“So, who’s this fine young lady then?” he said, obviously taking note of how I kept her hand in mine.

“Adreon, this is my wife, Racquel. Racquel, you already know about Adreon,” I said.

Adreon raised his eyebrows at this. “Wife, eh? Who’d have thought it; Jorken actually managed to smarten up long enough to find himself a pretty woman.”

“Yes,” I said. “I’ll tell you all about how we met later, but not now. Now, I want to talk to you about the city. I’m here for a holiday, but I…felt something earlier. Something wrong.”

“An inquisitor on holiday? Wonders never cease,” Adreon said. “But, yes, it’s been a bad year. The mutant population has been getting all riled up of late, and the cults are getting worse.”

“Excuse me,” said Racquel. “I’ve been told this is a world which worships through a death-cult. How can the cults get worse if they’re devoted to the Emperor?”   

“Not every death-cult you’ll find worships our Lord-Emperor,” I said. “Some are devoted to other, older deities. Those are the ones the Ordos Malleus and Hereticus must deal with.”

“No matter,” I continued. “I’ll keep an eye out for anything unusual. Otherwise I’m just here to relax after that damnable business over Kryptmann. Marcas and Fabio will be bringing our things over soon.

“Now, Adreon, do you mind if I sample that fruit salad of yours? I haven’t had plim fruit in Emperor knows how long.”
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2009, 09:49:49 AM »
Something woke me. I rose suddenly. The sudden change from sleep to consciousness left me feeling dizzy and unfocussed. I heard a footstep just outside the bedroom door and my mind cleared instantaneously, years of hard-learned lessons having their effect. I stood up and moved silently across the floor. Racquel murmured and rolled into the patch of warmth my presence had left in the bed.

As I neared the door, I moved out of Racquel’s sphere of influence, and immediately I could feel the horrid, painful strength coursing through my body. I stumbled and reached out to steady myself, closing my fist around one of the ornamented bedposts. I stood up straight, then realised I had forgotten to release my grip. The top of the bedpost was still in my hand, and I sighed inwardly as I saw I would have to pay for yet more repairs.

I edged towards the door and grasped the handle lightly, so as not to break it. Using as little strength as I could, I then wrenched it open with a sudden, violent movement.

There, standing on the floorboards, was a little girl, around six years standard. She looked like a porcelain doll, with pale white skin and ebony-black hair. I quickly took a step back to enter Racquel’s blank aura.

“Uncle Jorken!!!” she shouted then leapt at me.

I picked her up and started laughing.

“Hello Lucia,” I said. “You gave me a bit of a fright there. You shouldn’t be sneaking around this early in the morning.”

“I wasn’t sneaking,” she protested, pouting. “I wanted to meet Auntie Racquel.”

“Racquel is asleep. Why don’t you wait until she wakes up to say hello?”

“Okay. Do you wanna play a game?”

* * *

I was having my morning cup of caffeine concentrate when Marcas and Fabio arrived with information.

The twin brothers were my two most promising acolytes, and I counted them among my closest friends. They always dressed and armed themselves exactly the same, and the only way to tell them apart was by the black hearts tattooed on their cheeks. Marcas had his on his left cheek, and Fabio had his on the right. 

“Good morning Jorken,” said Marcas.

“Good morning, boys. What’ve you got for me?”

“You told us to keep an eye out for anything unusual,” said Fabio.

“Yes. . .”

Marcas interjected. “We’ve found something. Mid-hive morgue filed a cause-of-death explanation that doesn’t have any precedent over the last three or four decades.”

I nodded. 
“Ok. Let’s check it out.”

* * *

The corpse was not a pretty sight. Then again, few corpses are, in my experience.

He had been a middle-aged man. The files named him as Antonio Faltsen, a mid-hive metal refiner. He had no connection with any of the listed cults in the city.

The manner of his death was fairly obvious. Something had destroyed his upper abdomen and the lower seven centimeters of his rib-cage. Whatever it was, it had left an entry wound bigger than my hand.

Marcas came up to me. “Prelim examinations indicate massive internal trauma. I suspect a bolt weapon.”

I nodded. “That’s how it seems. You stay here and continue examinations. I’ll take Fabio down to the spaceport for a little chat with the cult in control of Customs.”

“The Bloodied Stars?”

“Yes, Marcas. The Bloodied Stars.”
 
 
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2009, 08:00:59 AM »
I stood in the shadows at the back of the cult’s tidy little shrine-room and watched as Fabio slammed a man repeatedly into the altar, head-first. 

The man was Arian Forkes, patrician of the Bloodied Stars. His cult ran a smuggling business, keeping control of imports and exports. For the most part, they dealt in weapons.

I gestured for Fabio to stop, then walked up to the altar and examined Arian’s face. He was bleeding quite heavily, his nose was broken, and he seemed to be missing several teeth.

He was smiling at me.

“Ah, Inquisitor,” he said, pausing occasionally to spit blood. “Why did you have your man attack me?”

“I wanted to know what you’d been smuggling in recently, Arian. You wouldn’t tell me.”

“So?” he replied. “That’s no reason to beat up an old man.”

“You’re not even forty standard yet,” I said. “And I need to know. If you don’t tell me now, I’ll just kill you and search through your possessions.” 

He nodded, giving up. “Good point. Ok, I’ll tell you. But I’d like you to give the initiates a training session some time. They aren’t shaping up as well as I thought they would.”

“Done,” I said. “Bleed on it?”

“Bleed on it,” he agreed.

He produced a small knife, seemingly out of nowhere, and made a shallow incision on his wrist. He passed the blade to me and I did the same. Then we pressed our wounded wrists together and shook hands.

“Now, my lord,” he said. “What do you need to know?”

* * *
“Killed by a bolter? Impossible,” Arian said, shaking his head.
I leaned forward. “What do you mean, impossible?”

“The only bolt weapons that come through the system are destined for the Astartes. I’d be a dead fool if I tried getting my hands on one of those. Literally.” He stood and walked over to a filing cabinet. He continued speaking.

“I have informants in every cult in the city, licensed and unlicensed. Not one of them is in possession of anything as powerful as a boltgun.”

I paused momentarily, confused. “But then, what-” My vox-link beeped.

I activated my earpiece, and Marcas’ voice came through, sounding tinny and mechanical through the link.

++Jorken, I need you here at the morgue. I finished the examination and . . . Well, you’d better see this for yourself++

++Affirmative. I’ll be right there++

I stood and looked at Arian.
“I have to go now. I’ll be back in around a week for that training session.”

He nodded. I left.
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2010, 10:24:36 AM »
“So Marcas, what did you discover?” I said.

“Whatever killed him was most definitely not a bolt weapon. Or indeed any kind of solid-shot fire arm,” he replied.

“How so?”

“I examined his wound. There is none of the debris you would expect from a boltgun. Then I had a closer look. From what I can tell, this damage was caused when someone ripped some sort of . . . implanted organ out of him. There’s a set of torn arteries that indicate the general size of whatever it was. It was about fifteen centimeters from top to bottom. I estimate the weight at around four hundred and fifty grams.”

“So someone wanted a spare liver and used this poor bastard to grow it.”

“No, Jorken. It’s far worse than that. Take a look inside him. Right at the bottom of the wound.”

I did so. There was a small pool of a dark-green liquid, standing out against the colours of the man’s internal organs.

“I’m analysing a sample of whatever it is, and so far I don’t think it’s human,” said Marcas. “The only thing that could help me continue examining him is if I knew a little about his last moments.”

Marcas and Fabio looked at me pointedly.

I have never been a master of telepathy, the art of joining my mind with another’s. Indeed, I am no master in any area of psychic ability, preferring not to use my powers.

I am a very powerful psyker, so powerful that some would even go so far as to rank me as level Beta for sheer psychic strength. However, I have almost no control over my power. In fact, most of the time, it manifests subconsciously, giving me strength greater than any normal man. But because I have so little control, conscious manifestations of this power are normally tied to my emotions, particularly fear and anger. I have only drawn
as much energy from the warp as I could on one occasion.

The day my father was killed.

I was very young, no older than thirteen but definitely above the age of ten. I walked into my house and saw my brother on the floor, bleeding from his arm. A man in a trench coat was holding a pistol to my father’s head while four others looked on.

I do not remember what happened after that. I only know that nothing of my father’s house was able to be salvaged, and that I had killed three of the men, crippled one for life and severely injured the last before I could be stopped.

The man who would be able to live normally once he had healed was an inquisitor. He was one of those who would kill ‘just to be sure’, and was unrepentant when he discovered my family was free of taint.
I hated him for a very long time. It took me nearly a century doing the work of the Inquisition, but eventually I understood and forgave him.   

However, that incident and several others that followed convinced me that I was too dangerous to simply walk around with my powers unshackled. I sought out the company of blanks and untouchables, preferring the unease they caused in me to the pain memories of my power filled me with. After many years, I became used to their presence. I even fell in love with Racquel, who was at a time a member of a friend’s retinue.

Although most of my power is directed towards the physical, I can get an idea of a person’s thoughts and emotions by touching their minds. It was clear that the only way forward in this instance was to feel how the man on the slab had died.

I put my hands on the corpse’s shoulders and brushed my mind against it.

Tired, so tired. Hard to breath, air can’t come in quickly enough. Skin turning blue. Pain, pain deep inside. I vomit blood.

Darkness.


I gasped as my mind surfaced from the well of emotion that was the warp.

I turned to my twin acolytes.

“Well, he definitely wasn’t shot.”

“What then?”

“It felt . . . It felt like he was choking. But there wasn’t anything stopping the air coming in, there just wasn’t enough.”

“Hmmm,” said Fabio. “Let me check his blood.”

He took a vial full of the thin red liquid and put it into an analyser. The machine seemed to ponder the sample for a moment, then spat out a spool of paper. Fabio picked it up and skimmed through the information.

“That’s unusual,” he said. 

“What?” I said, wearied by the use of my often unexercised power.

“There’s almost no iron in this sample. Literally less than one percent of the normal amount. If there’s almost no iron in his blood-”

“Then he did choke to death!!!” said Marcas. “No iron means no hemoglobin, which means he couldn’t transport oxygen through his body.”

 Something about this struck me as odd.

“So, if there isn’t any iron in his blood, where’d it all go?”
       
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2010, 05:28:27 AM »
I sat down in front of Arian for the second time that day.

“Ah, my lord. I thought you weren’t going to be back for around a week,” he said.

“I wasn’t, but you have informants for every cult in the city, correct?”

“Indeed I do, inquisitor. Just keeping an eye on things, so to speak. Make sure I’m selling the right equipment to the right customers.”

“Whatever,” I said, not caring about his business issues. “Were any of the cults given this man as a target?” I threw the file describing Antonio Faltsen onto his desk.

When he picked it up and saw the hololith attached to the front he paled.

“What is it?” I asked.

“This man is one of my informants,” he said, voice shaking.

Was one of your informants, Arian,” I answered. “He’s the reason I came to you earlier. Now, if he was your informant, I doubt anyone picked him out as a target, if only to make sure they’d still get their smuggled weapons. That means I can assume that the cult he was informing on didn’t know about all this, then killed him when they found out he was a spy. So, which cult did he infiltrate for you?”

“The- the Cult of the Violet Emperor,” he stammered.

“What?” I said.

“The Violet Emperor. Their cover is that they venerate the Emperor as soaked in the blood and ichor of the xenos. But Antonio-” he swallowed for a moment- “Antonio believed something was wrong there. He was going to report again tomorrow.”

“If they’re an unlicensed cult, how come they haven’t been destroyed or disbanded?” I said.

“They were. The Ecclesiarchy saw their idea of the Emperor as unclean, so they burnt the cult headquarters to the ground. But a few days later, the cult popped up again in the underhive and mutie-town. Now they’re the most respected of the illegal cults. Their assassins can take out any target. They don’t feel . . . right. They’re too good. And you never see what they look like.”

“Right,” I said. “Where are they based now?”

“Centre of the underhive. I’ll give you a map.”

“Thank you. Don’t be surprised if I end up having to exterminate them.”

He nodded. “I know,” he said. “The Inquisition must do its work.”

I may not have liked Arian Forkes, but he did know how things worked.   

And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2010, 05:22:17 AM »
I was getting ready to visit the headquarters of the Cult of the Violet Emperor. I laid a case out on my bed and opened it.

Inside was my needle-gun. Sleek and elegant, of xenos origin. It had been given to me by my old master, who said he had acquired it after he had to work with a xenos bounty-hunter. It had been designed to fire shards of crystal, but I had had it modified so it would use adamantium needles as ammunition. Each sliver of metal was coated in a poison designed to shut down the neural and respiratory systems of a target, ensuring its death or unconsciousness at the very least.

Next I retrieved my combat blade from my wardrobe, with its matt black sheath and a silver aquila set into the handle. Although I rarely used it, I decided it was a necessary precaution.

When dealing with a cult of any kind, I found appearances were important. Make the followers think you were in a position of strength and power before you even began speaking and you would be able to disillusion them far more easily. To ensure this, I dressed accordingly.

No shirt, with leather trousers and knee-high boots. A sweeping, ankle-length coat. The straps for my needle-gun’s holster and combat blade’s sheath obvious against my bare skin.

My heavy inquisitorial rosette dangling from a gold chain around my neck.

I looked at myself in the mirror. My skin was corpse-white, with slight shadows showing around my eyes and under my cheekbones. A series of black, curling tattoos wrapped around the left side of my body and face, disguising horrific scarring from eldar neuro-scourges and monofilaments. Silvery scars, barely visible against the paleness of my skin, were everywhere. They showed I was a fighter, and a winner, to have gained so many.

Racquel stepped into the room.

“Jorken, what are you doing? I haven’t seen you all day and now you’re dressed like you’re about to join a fight or something,” she said.

“I’m going to investigate one of the city’s unlicensed cults, my love. There’s something strange going on.”

“But you can’t. We’re on holiday. You need to rest, not go gallivanting off around the city.”

I took her gently by the shoulders. “You know what I’m like. If I don’t check this out I’ll get all irritated and grumpy, and then Lucia will get angry at me and we don’t want that happening.” I kissed her.

“Besides, it’s probably nothing. You can come with me if you want.”

“Of course I am. Without me there, you’d just break down the door and stride in, and then you’d definitely get into some sort of trouble.”

I grinned. In truth, I was glad she was coming. She was a wonderful shot with her autopistol, and she would prevent me from breaking things unnecessarily.

If I had known what we would find, I don’t think I would have let her come.     
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2010, 10:19:04 AM »
We gathered in my brother’s lounge-room before we left. It was a place to relax, with sunlight streaming in through the windows. There was a shelf of books, all of them classics, and several couches, trimmed with pelts from the native animals. There was a holo-screen set into the far wall.

Fabio and Adreon were sitting on chairs, talking softly. They’d both insisted on coming with Racquel and me. The harsh lines of their compact autoguns contrasted starkly with the rest of the room.

Marcas had elected to stay in the mid-hive area and look for anything we might have missed.

Lucia had attached herself to me, refusing to let go.

“Uncle Jorken, stay,” she pleaded.

“I can’t,” I replied. “I have to do something. But I’ll be back before you know it.”

“But there’s an alien in the garden! I’m scared.”

I chuckled. “Lucia, there are no aliens in the garden. You’ll be fine. The servants will give you dessert early if you be a good girl.”

Lucia admitted defeat. “Ok.”

I gently pulled her off my leg and turned to the others.

“Alright everyone, let’s go. We’re wasting time here.”

As we all piled into a speeder, my vox started crackling.
++Jorken, something’s going on++

++What is it Marcas?++

++People with what seem to be the same symptoms you described are turning up all over the place. Lack of breath, chest pains, low iron levels++

++Get all of them in one place and keep an eye on them. Do what you have to. Tell me if it starts getting worse++

++Right. Good hunting, Jorken++


And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2010, 05:52:28 AM »
The underhive. A dark, foul necropolis beneath the rest of the city. This was where only the most desperate, those with nothing to lose, would go.

To be quite honest, it smelled of sewage.

Piles of dirt and rubbish stretched out into the gloom as far as the eye could see. I could hear the skittering of the mutants and criminals that infested this place, searching through the city’s waste for food, weapons, anything they could salvage.

To the right was the mutant-town, a series of huts and ramshackle pig-iron houses. The cult headquarters was about half a kilometer in front of us. It was a fairly large, non-descript building, its shape suggesting it had once been a warehouse.

We trudged towards it. As we neared the entrance, we could see two guards. They were obviously mutants. Their size alone attested to that fact. Each was well over two meters tall, and they had a sense of unnatural mass to them, as if their robes concealed their true size. Both guards wore hoods that covered their faces in shadow.

I walked up to them. “We wish to enter,” I stated, keeping my voice stern and strong.

The guard on the left had been chewing his nails. He raised his head and answered: “None may enter here without the Father’s permission.” His voice was low, and very soft.

“I have the right,” I replied. “I am a member of His Most Holy Inquisition, and I demand you give me entrance to this place.”

“None may enter,” the guard answered once more.

I nodded. “Racquel,” I said.

She stepped back, leaving me outside her influence. I took three steps forward, grabbed the guard by the front of his robes and held one-handed against the wall. He was far heavier than I had expected. I quickly fed my body more strength to stop my wrist snapping under the pressure.

“I will ask once more,” I hissed. “Give entrance to this place.”

A new voice suddenly made itself heard. “Barak, Kehvon, let them pass,” it snapped.
I dropped the guard I was holding and turned to face the door. A man, hooded and cloaked, was standing there. He leaned heavily upon a copper staff.

I nodded to him. “I thank you. It would have been . . . unfortunate if I had had to storm the building to gain entrance.”

“I know,” he replied. “That is why I allow you in. Please, enter. We are honored to admit a bearer of the Emperor’s will into our humble sanctuary.”

The others began to file past him into the building. As Racquel passed the man, he hissed and drew back.

What is that?” he asked his voice full of fear and loathing.

She,” I replied coldly, “is none of your business. She is my own, and if you deny her entrance, you deny us all.” The unspoken threat of what would happen if he tried to stop us entering hung heavy in the air.

“Very well,” the man sighed. “She may enter.”

As I walked passed him, I tried brushing my mind against his. His mind was cold, calculating, devoid of remorse, mercy or pity. It was powerful too, and skilled.

I grunted as he probed me in retaliation. “No wonder the Ecclesiarchy did not approve of you and your worshippers,” I muttered.

“They did not understand our power,” he said. “You, on the other hand, can. You know I did not choose this. I was born to it.”

“That is very true,” I replied, with a predatory grin. “But that will not excuse you should I find you wanting.”
I turned, and walked deeper into the lion’s den.
  
    

And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2010, 02:41:05 AM »
The psyker led us through a maze of corridors. With every turn, the light levels dropped, and the walls became rougher. After about half an hour, I guessed we were somewhere behind the building, travelling through tunnels deep in the rocky foundations of the city.

Our guide halted, and gestured towards a small door set into the wall.

“Wait here,” he said. “My brothers have just completed a ritual sacrifice, and we wish to clean the altar room for your visit.”

I nodded. No doubt he was going ahead to warn the other high-ranking members of the cult. But I did not fancy the idea of fighting this man. My mind may have been far more powerful, but he was incredibly skilled. Of course, Racquel could block him out, but I was certain we were being watched. Cults almost always had hidden guardians.

We entered the room. It was surprisingly well-furnished, with a thick carpet, couches, a roaring fireplace and many tapestries adorning the walls. Two of the tapestries fluttered slightly, giving away the presence of secret tunnels or rooms.

I motioned for the others to appear relaxed. We did not want to tip off whoever was watching us to the fact that we were on our guard.

My vox beeped.
++Marcas, what is it?++

++It’s the people I gathered together, Jorken. The ones with prelim symptoms.++ 

His voice sounded shaky, even through the vox-link. ++What about them?++

++All . . . All the men are dead. Most of the women, though there weren’t many in the first place.++

++What happened?++

++You know how we thought that metal refiner had had an organ implanted in him? Well, they’re not organs.++ I began to pace around the room.

++What then?++ I was beginning to get annoyed with Marcas’ refusal to get to the point.

++They were creatures. One moment the people are fine. The next, these warp-damned things are ripping their way out of the men. I tried to get the women out, but the creatures got to some of them. I had to gas the containment zone.++

I felt a prickle of alarm. Something was wrong here. Something obvious, but not immediately noticeable. I swept my eyes across the room. There, on the wall! A claw mark. A dark stain on the floor.

++Jorken, I recovered one of the creature’s bodies. It’s . . . something else. Part human. And, from what I can tell . . . part tyranid.++

Tyranids. Human-tyranid hybrids. People disappearing and turning up dead, with holes in their bodies. A cult that used mutants, based by the mutant-town. A skilled psyker, refusing to show his face.
As my mind swept through all the evidence, I began breathing deeply. Then stopped.

I could smell something. A strong, musky animal scent. While pacing I had turned my back on the tapestries concealing hidden rooms or tunnels.

I heard a clicking hiss, and muffled thumps from around the room. I looked up to see cultists standing over the unconscious bodies of Racquel and Adreon. Fabio had disappeared. 

I turned to face the thing standing behind me. I saw it, and recognized it.

Genestealer
   
   
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2010, 08:19:53 AM »
I jumped to one side as the alien lunged forwards, reaching towards me with all four arms. I pulled out my needle-gun, only to have a cultist kick the back of my knees. I hit the ground, hard, and then rolled to one side as the genestealer slammed its claws into the floor, forming long tears in the carpet.

I scrambled to my feet and snapped off a shot at the cultist standing over Racquel. The needle buried itself in his upper arm. He pulled it out and continued to watch, but I knew that he’d be on the ground within a minute.
I rolled as the alien skittered after me, the confined space working to its advantage. I couldn’t get a clear shot and Racquel’s blank aura filled the room, stopping me from simply tearing the genestealer apart.

It rushed forward. I tried to dodge, but it swept one of its arms to the side, hitting me in the stomach. I slammed into the wall next to the fireplace, bleeding. A spike protruding from the genestealer’s elbow joint had hit me in the stomach. As it ran towards me, I raised my gun and fired.

The burst of adamantium needles hit the alien in the chest. All of them stuck firmly into its exoskeleton, but only one or two penetrated deeply enough to deliver their venom. Given the size of the genestealer, I doubted they would have much effect.

It fell back, and then began to stalk forward slowly, making sure I would be unable to dodge it. As the genestealer drew closer, the firelight glinted off its carapace, almost as if it was made of metal. The carapace was a deep golden-brown, the exoskeleton a dark grey. Its eyes were a bright green, with no pupils or whites.

My eyes grew heavy as the alien moved forward, its eyes locked on me. It was beautiful in a strange way. It moved gracefully, with light steps . . .

The genestealer’s scent hit me, and my eyes flew open. The strong, animal smell had jolted me awake just in time. The genestealer lunged forwards. I pushed myself to the left, kicking it in the side as I did so. The genestealer was suddenly off balance. Maybe the venom had finally started working on it. It fell to one side, tried to stand up, and then fell forwards, into the fire.

The genestealer shrieked as it burned, its high-pitched cry deafening me. I quickly stood up and threw my weight at it from behind. It was pushed further into the flames. It tried scrabbling backwards.

I pulled out my knife and thrust it into the creature’s spine, just above its hind legs. Its legs went limp. It flailed around with its secondary arms, and caught me a glancing blow to the chest. I fell backwards, bleeding badly.

The genestealer dragged itself from the fire. It was badly scorched, and had to pull itself along the floor using its arms. It let out continuous shrieks of agony.

I stood up, using the last of my strength. I reloaded my needle gun, limped around until I was behind the genestealer, and then emptied every shot into the back of its head.

The alien slumped. I looked around the room. The cultists were staring at me with awe, and the furniture, floor and walls were covered in deep claw marks. I turned around to face the hidden passages and saw the psyker’s copper staff whistling towards my face.

He hit me between the eyes, and everything went black.       
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2010, 09:13:47 AM »
I gradually began to regain consciousness. There was a sense of movement, as if someone was carrying me.

When I finally managed to open my eyes, I was standing against the back wall of a cavern. The walls were roughly hewn and I could see the places where stalactites had been broken off to keep the floor relatively flat. I tried to move.

Something stopped me. I looked down to see that I was covered in some organic slime, attaching me firmly to the wall. I strained my neck to the left and saw Racquel and Adreon, bound in a similar manner. Finally, I peered to see the opposite end of the cave. Part of me immediately wished I hadn’t.

There was a throne, cut from the rock of the cave wall. Seated on it was a monstrous genestealer, easily twice the size of the one I had slain earlier. The creature’s exoskeleton gleamed like polished silver, and only by looking closer could I discern a faint green-black mottling all over it.

On either side of the throne stood similar, although smaller creatures. They were upright, with insect-like mandibles and manes of tendrils. With a shudder, I recognized them as broodlords, remembering the briefing before the Conclave dealt with Kryptmann. 

Around the bottom of the throne, packs of pure strain genestealers mingled with hybrids. The twisted creatures were hideous, mixing features from the aliens and humans to form unnatural horrors. Some were clothed in rags, while others, being more alien than human, wore nothing.

Cultists stood along the edge of the unholy throng, holding the more bestial hybrids on leather leashes and chains. I heard a yell and peered into the mob. It was Fabio.

He was fighting against a hybrid, a huge, twisted creature with its jaws on the side of its face. Eager cultists urged the beast on, laying bets as to how long my acolyte would survive. I turned away from the grim spectacle, shame and grief smoldering in my heart.

I heard Racquel give a gasp and turned to her. She was staring at the fight. She turned to me, her eyes pleading.

I shook my head. There was nothing we could do.
   
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2010, 10:11:51 AM »
Time passed, maybe half an hour. Fabio was still fighting. I could hear him.

A low growl echoed through the cavern. Instantly, all other noises stopped. The psyker stepped out of the shadows near the throne, a twisted grin on his face.

“Our Father wishes to inspect the new . . . arrivals. Bring the girl. Quickly.”

 They wanted Racquel. No. She was mine. I started struggling.

I stopped when I heard the shrill whine of a laspistol powering up. I rolled my eyes to the right and saw a cultist training the gun at my head, his eyes blank. I was forced to stay there and watch my beloved Racquel being marched towards that foul creature.

It lifted its head curiously, scenting the air as she approached. It lifted its weight off the throne lithely, moving with the same grace I had observed before. It moved towards her.

About two feet away from her, the creature hit her aura. It screamed, and then fell back. It surged forward again and swatted her away, hitting her with its razor-sharp claws. She fell. Blood. Blood in the air. Racquel. No. Not her. They can’t. They couldn’t-

*Recording interrupted for 32 seconds. Sound of heavy breathing in background.*

My power burst forth unconsciously. I wasn’t even in control, my conscious mind riding the wave of anger and terror, rage and despair. I felt myself extend my mind towards the cultist towards my right. He slumped to the ground. I had burned out his neural network.

My body tensed and the slime binding me disintegrated under the force brought to bear on it. I ran forward into the mob.

Bodies flew into the air. I trampled many underfoot. They attempted to swamp me, pressing forward in numbers. Those I could reach died in droves, bones shattering from even my most glancing of blows; seemingly light taps causing massive internal damage. Those I could not reach I attacked with my mind, burning their brains inside their skulls.   

Soon I had fought my way across to where Fabio had been battling the hybrid. He was slumped on the ground, eyes closed, but he was breathing. Part of me sighed with relief even as my body jumped over him, hurtling towards the genestealers at the far end of the cavern.

This was harder than fighting hybrids and cultists, even in my empowered state. The genestealers were slower than me now, but they were many, and I was not invulnerable to their claws. I twirled around, always aiming for the head, trying to kill them before they killed me.

I felt a claw dig into my side, and I automatically drew on more of my strength to compensate. My head felt hot. The medicae did say I sustained minor brain damage sometime in the last month. . .

The broodlords moved in. I instantly knew I was in trouble. They moved at the same speed as me, talons darting in and out to slash at me, always staying just out of reach. Suddenly one was behind me, and I pitched forward as it plunged its claws into my back. I fell forward, and suddenly my strength disappeared. It was Racquel. She was still alive. Lying just in front of me.

Her breathing was ragged. She turned her head, and then all the tension left her body. Just like that. Like a puppet with its strings cut.

She was gone. Really gone this time. I couldn’t save her. I’d tried, but I couldn’t. Why? Why her? It should have been me! ME!!!!!!!

*Recording interrupted again. Screaming in the background. Recording resumes two days later.*

I . . . I can’t remember what happened then. I know something happened. That psyker’s face clouds my thoughts, along with everything else. All I know is that I stumbled out into the underhive carrying Racquel’s body, with Adreon carrying Fabio by my side.

Adreon tried to raise Marcas on the vox, to tell him to come get us. He didn’t answer. All we heard was screaming, the sound of smashing windows and a hissing sound. The sound those genestealers made.

If there was rioting in the hive above us, then the cult had remained active long enough to call a tyranid hive fleet. I couldn’t bring myself to care. Racquel was dead, I nearly so, and Fabio looked like he was in a coma. If the tyranids had come, I would fight. But I wouldn’t be able to feel anything.

There was nothing left. No hate. No rage. In the end, I had learned control. Now all that could be done was to honour my oaths to the Imperium. I would help in the defense of Schindelgheist. 

Adreon helped me to gather wood from the piles of junk surrounding us. We piled it into a funeral pyre. I found a half-empty lighter. We placed Racquel on the pyre and let the flames take her, making sure she would not be consumed by what was coming.

I turned and walked away. It was a long trek back to the upper hive.

When we got there, it was in chaos.
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning

Offline Swarbie

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Re: Lux Eterna
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2010, 02:22:01 AM »
Fires burned through the flesh-markets and abattoirs. The doors of the great blood-temples were slammed shut, and angry mobs bayed at the believers sheltering within. Men carrying flaming torches sprinted through the darkened streets in packs, killing without thought, mercy or pity. It was through this chaos that my brother and I struggled.

I wept as I shuffled onwards, carrying Fabio while Adreon watched my back. I had lost everything. Nothing could matter any more. My mind was unshielded, open with grief. I felt the suffering all around me, and it provided a backdrop to my own pain. I was so distracted that I barely heard one, small mind cry out. It was then that I felt Adreon stop moving.

I looked up, and saw the roof of his blazing house slowly crumble inwards, disintegrating into rubble. The fires flared as the gas tank attached to one side of the house was pierced by a falling piece of rock. We were far enough away that we were unharmed by the explosion.

Adreon screamed in anguish. Of course. Lucia had been inside. I dropped Fabio and quickly ran forward to restrain Adreon before he started running through the streets killing rioters. Maybe it is a curse on my family, that we should love so deeply, and feel the pain of our losses forever. Still, I do not think I would have it any other way.

After a few minutes, I had to knock Adreon out. Now I had to carry two bodies. Where could I go?
The answer came out of nowhere. The starport. My landing ship was there, and Darthos and his stormtroopers, and . . . other things which could be of use. I turned away from the burning rubble and started walking.

Two hours later, I had reached the starport. I had also reached my limits. I pulled Fabio and Adreon to within reach of the great glass doors and then keeled over. Through a haze of fatigue and pain, I heard the sound of iron-shod boots marching in unison. A familiar voice ordered the boots to a halt.

I looked up and saw Darthos Cade, captain of my stormtroopers, worry and sorrow etched on his war-torn face. “Jorken?” he asked.

I let my head fall to the ground. I was safe.

For now.
And I saw her body burning,
With it, my world
To dust returning