Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

A shared universe of Tau stories, created by ATT posters.
User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#1 » Jul 14 2013 02:44

Overture


Deep within the Zone of Silence, something wicked stirs in the dark...

Leu'kyarrth stared out at the tiny scarlet wisps of blood, almost like smoke, rising out of the arboretum below the viewing deck he was on. The arboretum stretched out from beneath the deck, reaching out from under the panoramic window-port and well into the icy star-studded void beyond. The arboretum itself was a vast sunken pit, upon which countless rows of enormous coal-black spikes emerged, each one tipped with an impaled prisoner. The spikes were fitted with rudimentary life-sustaining systems, which combined with the carefully modulated atmosphere-shielding ensured that each prisoner would only have their life leached from them at a snail's crawl, the vacuum of space slowly draining it over a matter of agonising months rather than the few short minutes it would normally take to die from exposure to the endless abyss.

Leu'kyarrth always enjoyed watching the myriad swirls and coils the blood made as it drifted away from the writhing masses. He found it relaxing and that it helped to take his mind off the constant gnawing unease in the pit of his stomach, a normal occurrence to be expected when in real-space, brought on as his psychic essence was pawed at and coveted by the great enemy, She-Who-Thirsts. Even within the depths of the Webway he was not immune to the sensation, however there it was lessened to the point of being almost unnoticeable. Besides, the blood-wisps added such a delicate stippling of colour, the perfect compliment to the star-scape beyond.

And the star-scape itself, the endless expanse of the cosmos, was an ideal backdrop for the portrait of Leu'kyarrth's reflection caught upon the viewing window. He took a moment to admire himself, his short straight copper-gold hair immaculately preened to the sides with only a sliver reaching down in front, his sharp features and cold piercing eyes. His gaze was momentarily caught by a small amber twinkling in the reflection as the small display in the left of his chest armour, over his.. heart.. quickly flashed a readout.

The Dark Eldar was alone within the shadowy expanse of the observation deck, except for two companions. To Leu'kyarrth's left stood Sybael, Succubus of the Cult of Tears. The starlight coming through the window-ports glinted off the glossy jet-black Wychsuit that clung to her lithe athletic form, propped from behind by her rich crimson hair, let loose so that it almost reached her waist.

Leu'kyarrth turned to her. "remarkable, is it not?"

"Yes, it reminds me of my first kill. To this day I do not know whether it was the drugs flowing through me, or merely sheer exhilaration, but time seemed to come to a halt as I tore his throat out. The stars alone bring back the thunderous roar of the arena crowd to my ears."

Contemplating the figure in front of him, Leu'kyarrth's thoughts began to drift, as they often did, to.. her. Merrighan. The Archon of his kabal. The one who commanded him. Even now his mind's eye conjured her slender aggressive form, the merciless expression she wore at all times, her venomous green eyes, her porcelain skin, her long flowing tresses the colour of night-

Leu'kyarrth shunted aside such thoughts. There would be time for them soon enough, after he had played his move. He would remain here in this god-forsaken stretch of space, his forces would descend upon the unsuspecting re-colonisation fleet, they would rip apart the upstart aliens, these 'Tau' as they called themselves, carry off with the colonists and refugees as slaves, and then, then Leu'kyarrth would strike his true target. He would seize power, tear it from Merrighan's grasp, and reign supreme over the Kabal of the Bleeding Rose as he should have done from the start. And perhaps afterwards he might even keep Merrighan herself as a trophy, as his personal pet. A smile almost formed on Leu'kyarrth's face at the thought...

"It is splendid indeed is it not? Truely a marvel to hone such a device down so that it maximises their lives, stretching and tweaking the torment to within an inch of it's life." The remark had come from Leu'kyarrth's second companion, Visen'thyae, a Haemonculous of The Enlightened, the coven allied to the Bleeding Rose kabal. It was their elixirs, treatments and arcane science that allowed the kabal to linger in real-space for so long. Visen'thyae however longed for greater pursuits, and the resources for them.

"Indeed Visen'thyae, you have done a fine job of calibrating these ones." Leu'kyarrth warmed as the remark stung the twisted, hunched, sullen individual.

"Fie! That fool Wydian has me labour at mundane chores a simple Wrack could achieve! He believes he knows best, that his ideas are the only ones of merit! What hubris! What blindness! I will show him. I will show them all. My work, my creations, my ideas will eclipse anything that has come before. Even Rakarth shall take note at my handiwork!"

"So I can expect your support in this coming endeavour then?"

"Yes, yes, but of course. My children and I will stand with you until the very end. Provided, of course, we have our place in the sun by the end of it?"

"Of course you will have leadership. Your coven deserves a true visionary at it's head."

"And I," added Sybael. "My followers will lend their skills to your cause also."

"Then we are in agreement?" Leu'kyarrth inquired. Both his companions nodded. "Very well then, a pact between us."

"Splendid, splendid!" visen'thyae exclaimed before gesturing to the other two. "Now come my friends! Accompany me to my chambers! You want to see the future, I can deliver it to you! These little blue ones, these children of the galaxy's east. They will have so much to share with us once I have finished with them...:"

I.


A tiny river of thick midnight-blue liquid wept down from the Tau's nasal cavity. A number of veins or capillaries must have ruptured in shock from the sheer pain. The Tau coughed, spluttered, panted and shuddered as his nervous system fought to recover itself from the last caresses of the Maiden's Embrace that dug and probed into him.

"You know it ends whenever you want it to," Leu'kyarrth said as he paced slowly back and forth in front of the Tau, "simply tell us what we want to know, enlighten us with your knowledge even, your kind seems to enjoy doing that, and all of a sudden the hurt will stop. No more suffering for the rest of the time. No more torment, wouldn't that be nice hmm?"

"I'm not telling you sick Res's anything!" The Tau spat back in response.

"Very well, as you will it." Lu'kyarrth gestured to Visenthyae, seated next to him to oversee the interrogation. Visenthyae signalled the Wrack operating the Maiden's Embrace, and at the touch of the control panel the metallic tendrils tethering the prisoner to the device whirred and buzzed, quickly drowned out by the howling screams of the captive as waves of sheer agony coursed along them directly into his nerves. "It doesn't bother me much at all really. I mean, of course I'd much rather tend to other matters at this time, but I never complain about having to bring pain to something. It's quite pleasant actually." Leu'kyarrth wasn't lying. He found it refreshingly cathartic to see other races in pain, to know that it wasn't just his own kin and forebears that suffered unjustly at the hands of the universe, but that the other, lesser, unworthy strains of creature were equally miserable, as it should be.

Leu'kyarrth looked up at the chron-tick on the wall. Yes, it was time again. Leu'kyarrth leant down over the writhing Tau and held his mono-molecular knife to the creature's cheek, letting the pain-induced spasms bring the flesh into the blade, carving a tortured twisted line. Leu'kyarrth spaced the intervals carefully, so that the subject would have no idea of their true purpose. Seemingly random acts of cruelty. Leu'kyarrth counted the total so far. 15, remarkable. most other prisoners would have either been broken or expired by now. Cretinous and primitive he may be, but his endurance was commendable.

"How are you finding the spectacle over there?" Leu'kyarrth asked his colleague.

"Magnificent Leu'kyarrth! The sonorous song of the screams, the tender accompaniment of the maiden as her arms tickle and stroke, the sweet colour of it's blood, so much like sweet-treats. It really is exquisite! You must be in this part of the room one day, the acoustics are quite lovely." Visenthyae replied.

Leu'kyarrth let out a slight chuckle over the Haemonculous's amusement. The Maiden's Embrace died down, it's in-built routines shutting it off to allow the subject time to recover. "Look," Leu'kyarrth said to the prisoner, "We know from chats with the others that you are a high-ranking member of your kind. We know that, prior to your acquisition by us, you were a major overseer of the security and construction of the station, this 'path resurgence' as you lot call it. And that, as a result, you will have fairly in-depth knowledge about it. Now, if you would, do share with us what you know about it's structure and course through this region."

"Know this, D'yi. I am Shas'el'Kel'shan'Mont'yr'Ta. I have led my cadre to victory on the shattered soil of my home in seven major battles and three dozen minor ones. I have witnessed horrors beyond numbering, in the hellish depths of war and the chilling depths of the void and beyond. I have defeated Mont'au, Ores'la, Y'he, Gue'la. I have been isolated from aid within a sea of terrors, and survived-"

"And I am your worst nightmare!" Leu'kyarrth interrupted. "Now that we have exchanged titles, just answer the questions."

"Make me." Mont'yr'Ta said, before immediately realising his mistake.

"Gladly," said Leu'kyarrth before switching on the nightmare glove on his left hand. The arcane gauntlet thrummed and became sheathed in blackness, surrounded by a flickering swirling red corona. Leu'kyarrth placed it on the Tau's forehead, and as he did so Mont'yr'Ta became bombarded with visions, an unrelenting stream of images, horrors from the past and fears of the future he had hoped would remain buried forever, assaulted his sight. He saw, relived, the terrible attacks on Kel'shan, screaming madmen, insane armoured giants, monstrous Orks, hellish creatures that could only have been created in the depths of some fevered nightmare, and then the endless masses of the Y'he, the Tyrannids, swarming, chittering, scuttling, tearing. He saw his fellow Firewarriors, his friends and brothers, cut down in front of him, and then.. at last... Sio'Ta, the one individual that had been around him his whole life, quite possibly the only being in the universe to have ever truly understood him, shared and felt the things he had. He saw her, her eyes ablaze with fury, standing defiant.. and then, just as he had before long ago, he saw her ripped apart, reduced to sticky ribbons of gore and a cyan coloured wet smear on the ground, as if it had happened again right before his eyes.

"NO! Enough!!" Mont'yr'Ta bellowed. To see it all again was too much. Almost immediately, the visions ceased as Leu'kyarrth withdrew the nightmare glove, the light surrounding it dissipating as it was deactivated.

"That's more like it," Leuk'yarrth said. "Now, tell us everything about this station. It's structure, it's destination, it's travel schedule, it's defences, anything you know."

Mont'yr'Ta slowly raised his head, then spat a thick glob of milky-blue pus and blood, which splatted home just under the Dark Eldar's right eye. Without hesitating, the Wrack controlling the Maiden's Embrace immediately set the device to full-burn. There would be no reprieve until the device was deactivated. Leu'kyarrth wiped the mess from him as the machine whirred into excruciating life again, and picked up an agony-wand from a nearby rack of equipment, before holding it against the chin of the now-screaming and writhing alien. The wand immediately began to burn.

"Honestly, such a lack of respect it's appalling. I have encountered small crawling things on the gutters of Low Commoragh with more manners than that. Really your snivelling kind makes such a show of being welcoming and hospitable and reasonable, and yet when I ask a few simple questions this is the response I get. Honestly I have no sympathy at all."

Reaching around, Leu'kyarrth picked up a second agony-wand and thrust it into the Tau's open howling mouth. No amount of pain could ever atone for such a slight.

II.


The razorflail sang a clear high-pitched ring as Sybael swung it downwards in a vicious killing blow on an imaginary opponent, it's sister blade twirling upwards at the same time. Sybael often duelled with such non-existent opponents in her spare time, not only did it serve to hone her lethal skills even further, but she also found it helped her think... helped her concentrate... helped her focus.

And at the moment Sybael had a lot to think about.

Now the Succubus decided to try and deal with three fictitious opponents. She decided they would be Wyches, and that one would have a shardnet and impaler, while the other two were both armed with razorflails. Immediately she began to twist and spin and weave, both herself and the serrated, segmented blades she was wielding a blur as she dodged and parried and thrust against the hypothetical trio. At once the imaginary Yraqnae brought it's shardnet around to snare Sybael, who rolled out of it's assumed way and swung out in retaliation , a flick of the switch on the razorflail's handle extending the segments out along a solid cable tether, forming a deadly lashing whip that swiftly coiled around the assailant. A simple twist of Sybael's wrist and the blades would spin around and back across, reducing the victim to a mass of shredded bloody flesh, as had happened so many countless times in the coliseum. Sybael dearly missed the blood, and longed to again feel the tension in the razorflail handle as it's points and blades pierced and tore into an adversary, to hear the slick slithering sound as her opponent was ripped apart, to feel the gentle pitter-patter of blood against her skin...

But this would be a long venture, with raids few and far between, so Sybael understood that live opponents had to be carefully conserved to last the entire time.

As she turned her blades on the other two imaginary opponents, Sybael's mind turned to the matters at hand. She first thought of Leu'kyarrth, somewhat oddly the first thing she often found herself thinking about in recent times. Her mind's eye examined him, his immaculate features, his impeccable posture, his finely drawn hair, his dashing, daring eyes... Sybael decided that she might like to spar with him one day, to match her blades against his. She might even let him live if he proved worthy enough.

The razorflails were nought but a pair of dark blurs that swiftly shifted around Sybael as she leaped and pirouetted, effortlessly evading strike after strike from the two hypotheticals. Such skill, and yet her and her cult had only a small following in the wider scheme of Commoragh. Certainly a shadow compared to the adoration reserved for other cults, like the Seventh Woe... or strife. How Sybael loathed and despised the Cult of Strife, and their spoiled princess Lelith. How unjust it was that the highlights and cream of Commorite society flocked to gape at her and her spineless followers night after night after night, despite them simply treading the same tired routines over and over and over again. That brat could strut around free of any normal constraints, with a whole set of special privileges granted by the sycophantic Archons she had wrapped around her finger. Meanwhile Sybael slaved and laboured tirelessly to perfect her skills, to sharpen them such that they could cut through any opponent, and what gratitude did she get? What attention? What rewards? NOTHING!!

One of the razorflails slashed straight through an imaginary opponent and struck the floor, carving a gash in a flurry of sparks at the power of Sybael's fury. She pictured Lelith in front of her now, laughing at such a fool-hardy display of anger, an error that could cost her victory. Mocking her. Sinythea, another Succubus in the Cult of Tears, was there with her, jeering at Sybael. The way Sinythea stuck and slayed and dodged, so effortless.. They were both against her, she was sure of it. Conspiring behind her.. sneering.. scorning... plotting...

It mattered not. She would kill them both, just as she had killed every other that had stood before her. One day.. she would pin them against the arena wall, she would slice open the throat of that delicate little flower Lelith, and hold her body aloft by the hair for all to see. Then she would get the respect and admiration she deserved...

Finally, Sybael thought back to the last meeting she had had with Merrighan, before the raiding fleet had departed. Though the Dark Eldar were each concerned only with their own well-being, and as such had little to no notion of true friendship, Sybael and Merrighan were both nonetheless.. close. They had known each other for a very long time, and had fought side by side on many realspace raids. Indeed, on numerous occasions a skilfully placed shot from Merrighan had killed an opponent that had somehow managed to get behind Sybael, allowing her to resume her deadly work, while at other times Sybael had slain a particularly formidable opponent that threatened to overpower the Dread Archon. Still, if it came to it, Sybael would not hesitate to claim Merrighan's head as a prize, and she knew Merrighan had equally many qualms with removing her if she got in the way.

Sybael recalled their discussion now, as Merrighan had briefed her on what had to be done. "The main prize is an enormous craft at the centre of their fleet," she had told her. "It's intended to set up a new colony somewhere in this region of space. This is the main target of the venture. But know this Sybael, I want them alive. Any you encounter who take up arms and actively resist are fair game for you to slay, but no more, no others. I want as many slaves from this venture as possible. Do you understand?"

Sybael had nodded. "Good," Merrighan had continued, "And be sure to inform your warriors of this as well. I know you and your ilk, I know your lust for bloodshed. And as pleasing and satisfying as it is, you are to restrain yourselves as much as possible when it comes to the main craft. Though, of course.. the ones on any of the defending vessels are all fair game. I am not totally without compassion." Sybael had smiled with this news. Aboard the escorting fleet, her and her pupils would be free to relish in the carnage that they did best.

"And one more thing," Merrighan had said. "I know our mutual colleague Leu'kyarrth well, and I am very aware that he has eyes to one day replace me in my seat. He may use the time away and considerable prize this sojourn offers to make some feeble ploy to usurp me. Knowing him and how he is wont to leverage what charisma he has against such ladies as us as a weapon, he may attempt to sway you to his cause."

"What am I to do then?"

"You are to appear willing of course. I need you to enter into his little power-play on his side, such that I have someone able to plant the poisoned dagger in his back as any traitor should have acted upon them. And I know from your spectacles in the arenas that there are none better able to land a blade than you."

"Yes, that is true."

"Good, I am pleased you concur. Now, being the pitiable lout that he is, you may find yourself... swayed, by Leu'kyarrth. And if this happens, you may find yourself hesitant to cut him down. If you should choose not to, to follow through with his cause-"

At this Merrighan had, in a split-second blur of motion, spun and drawn a blast pistol and fired it into the wall of the corridor they were in, burning a jagged smouldering hole in a flash of violet light.

"-Well.. I expect you will make the right decision Sybael."

III.


Shas'el'Kel'shan'Mont'yr'Ta collapsed down against the wall of his cell. The Firewarrior commander shuddered and trembled at the after-sensations of the latest session he had had with his captors. His face and chest were both stained marine with blood, either from shattered internal veins or from gashes left by sharp tools. His chest was dominated by the triumvirate of enormous curving scars, a parting gift from the Maiden's Embrace as it's tendrils had withdrawn from him, sealing their points of entry as they left, a process that caused a searing burning sensation and left the area very tender. Even when releasing it's captives the Maiden's Embrace was painful.

El'Mont'yr'Ta looked down at the other myriad scars carved into him, a collection of intricate runes and markings that seemed almost impossible to have been made by hand, and yet they were. El'Mont'yr'Ta did not know what they meant, but he assumed from the expressions he glimpsed from guards and Dark Eldar he passed on the way back to the cell that it was something demeaning or derogatory. He ran his hand over the line of markings burned into his right arm, likely an identification code.

The commander tried to work out how long he had been here, a captive to these monsters. Was it 4 Rotaa now? 3? 6? Contained in near utter darkness, with no links to the outside world except when he was taken out for interrogation or simple torture, all the days and times seemed to blend into one, a single hellish twisted nightmare from which there seemed to be no awakening.

The cell he was in was almost completely dark, pitch black as far as they eye could see ahead. It was like no other darkness El'Mont'yr'Ta had encountered, thicker and more total than night, more impenetrable than a dark room. The darkness almost seemed tangible, with a sort of mist-like air, a physical sea of solid blackness that swallowed up all it touched, any features, any objects, even light seemed to disappear into it. Such was the darkness that even now, after all the time he had spent here, he still had no idea how large the cell really was. For all El'Mont'yr'Ta knew, it could be kilometres across, or only just slightly larger than his arm could reach. The only points of reference to be had were the wall the Tau had propped himself against, and the cell's door. The door was just as dark and foreboding as the rest of the surroundings, it's sole feature of interest being a small window through which eerie half-light shot in from outside in the ship's interior. The wall adjacent to it was bitterly icy cold, and oddly textured. The Shas'el figured it was some sort of ploy to keep a would-be captive as uncomfortable as possible.

The Tau also was unsure of weather or not he was alone in the cell. While there seemed to be no other captives present in the cell, and no-one else ever came to collect the paltry meals sent for captives, and at most times the cell seemed to be empty aside from El'Mont'yr'Ta, there were other times that were... different. Times when the total darkness of the cell became punctuated with tiny lights, sometimes flickering or shifting or moving. Perhaps they were stars, and the far side of the cell contained a large window. But he could not shake off the feeling of what they most likely were, eyes. Watching. But what for the Tau could not fathom.

The darkness in the cell might have shrouded and hidden sights, but it did nothing to dampen sounds. Despite being alone in the barren cell, there were a plethora of sounds that the Tau could often hear. Most were quiet, small rustlings, scamperings and the occasional skitter, sometimes accompanied by what seemed to be a tiny movement just on the corner of his vision. These sounds only added to the feeling that he might not be entirely alone in the cell. Others were slightly louder, but quite distant, clangs, buzzes, sobs, cackles, howls, dripping and even on rare occasions what sounded like the playing of some old keyboard instrument, though the chords it struck seemed twisted and menacing more than anything. El'Mont'yr'Ta did not know if these were simple results of happenings around him, or were deliberately made by his captors to inspire fear. Most likely the majority of them were of his own invention, simple figments and musings of his fevered and tormented imagination, perhaps even the effects of his sanity slipping. Maybe he was losing his mind.

And then there were the screams. They were the loudest noises of all, and came shrieking and skewering through from the nearby torture chambers, piercing through ambiance and thoughts alike with equal ease. El'Mont'yr'Ta had found some of them familiar, and so far he had managed to make out 17 other Tau (of whom he estimated 6 were other Shas, 3 were Por and the remaining 8 were Fio), 3 Naga, the shrill pain-chirps of 4 Vespid, 2 Tarellians, the reverberating echoing wails of a Nicassar, the howling shrieks of 3 Kroot, 2 Fr'aal, and at least 7 Gue'la (though El'Mont'yr'Ta often had trouble distinguishing the subtleties between different Gue'la voices, so this number could be higher or lower). There were even times when he could have sworn he heard an Eldar in agony, though he may have been wrong.

El'Mont'yr'Ta began to recite to himself, as he always did after a session out of the cell, and many other times as well, the words of Shas'O'Vior'la'Kais. "A thousand fibres connect each of us with our fellow Tau," he said to himself, "And along those fibres our deeds run as causes which come back to us as effects. Everything we do must be in furtherance of the Greater Good lest we return to the Mont'au, the Terror."

The Shas'el also took heart in one thing. They still had yet to get him to talk. He still withheld the knowledge he had. They still did not yet know about the Path Resurgence's layout, or it's defences and course. And they never would find out through him. He would die first. They would have to uncover it's secrets some other way, or better yet, not at all. Perhaps that was why they currently seemed to be torturing so many Fio.

It was times like these, when hope was fleeting and far between, when his fate seemed sealed, that El'Mont'yr'Ta wished Sio'Ta was still here. Even now he imagined, part wishful thinking, part dream and part fevered hallucination, her there with him, his hand clasped firmly in hers, her bright fiery eyes looking across at him. On the stage of his mind, she reached around and pressed him in close in a warm side-on hug. "You can do this," she would have said, "Don't let them get to you, stand up, resist. You're better than this, your tougher than them, stronger. We'll get through this before long." The figment smiled at him, then gave him a hard pat on his back. If only any of it were actually real, but he knew, as any would from being there, that no comfort could survive in this cold, dark, maddening place.

It was just then that El'Mont'yr'Ta's finger ran over a grove in the wall, that he noticed something. That particular incision seemed familiar. Maybe... the Tau turned over and examined the wall he had been resting against. Even with his vision adept at seeing in the dark, or natural dark at least, the Tau struggled to see anything in detail with the meek amounts of light available. But eventually, the details began to one by one present themselves. El'Mont'yr'Ta managed to see where his finger had touched. And immediately wished he hadn't.

It was a message, a tiny phrase carved into the wall by some unknown means. It was only two words long, and they were written in the language of a Gue'la, but the Tau understood them.

NO HOPE

At once the Tau began to notice that the texture of the wall didn't come from deliberate design, but was instead the result of other messages. There were hundreds. Thousands.

NO HOPE
THERE IS NO HOPE
DEAD
DEATH
WHY WON'T I DIE
I WANT TO DIE
WHY DON'T THEY LET US DIE
MAKE ME DIE
ABANDON ALL HOPE
KILL ME
KILL US ALL
THE PAIN
OH GOD
DESPAIR
HELP ME
WHAT DID I DO TO BE HERE
SHE'S HERE
HER
I SEE THEM
LIGHTS IN THE DARK
ALWAYS LIGHTS
I'M NOT ALONE
EYES
NOISES IN THE DARK
ALONE
THEY'RE EYES
ALWAYS WATCHING
LEAVE ME ALONE
ALWAYS WAITING
IT'S HER
DARK HAIR
ALWAYS HER
HIM
BLACK GOLD HAIR
HE COMES
I'M ALL ALONE
SO MUCH PAIN
THEY KILLED HER
AGONY
THEY CUT ME UP
SO MUCH
OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER....


And countless others. Prayers, litanies, threats, hopes, dreams, secrets, life stories, journals, attempts at escape plans, tallies and calendars, insane musings, mantras written over and over again, and random intelligible scrawling that no rational being would be able to produce, let alone make sense of. Some seemed to be written in blood. Others carved into the wall itself. Most were in various Gue'la dialects, but there were others in other languages, some the Tau recognised, others he had never seen before.

Frantically trying to recall the memory of Sio'Ta, one final writing caught his eye, seemingly jumped at him, as if by cruel design.

SHE IS DEAD

At seeing this, a tear began to fall from the Tau's eye.
Last edited by Kakapo42 on Jul 21 2013 04:43, edited 5 times in total.
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae (on behalf of Kakapo 42)

Post#2 » Jul 16 2013 08:38

IV.



The chron-tick on the wall of the chamber meekly chimed. Visen'thyae had been pacing about the chamber for hours now, two of his hands fidgeting and examining objects while the third was clenched as he thought. While normally seeming hunched and bent over, free in his own quarters the Haemonculus was in his own environment, and extended to his full towering height. The chamber's dim half-light gleamed from his long glossy coat and almost translucent skin, sickly pale even by the standards of the Dark Eldar. From somewhere a dripping sound could be heard, played from a recorder Visen'thyae had brought on board to provide his accommodations with a comfortable ambiance of his home. A large round slab-like table filled the centre of the room, with clamps at four points on it's surface, which was covered in inky stains from unlucky victims brought in from the prison decks when the mood struck Visen'thyae.

Oeg'iv, the Acothyst of Visen'thyae's personal group of Wracks and his favoured assistant, had been watching him stroll back and forth about the chamber, admiring the half-light shining from his form. Now he felt as though he should speak.

"Master, you are in pain, I can see it. I wish you to inflict suffering on others, not on yourself. What is it that troubles your marvellous mind?" The voice, transmitted through speakers integrated to the featureless black helmet permanently attached to Oeg'iv's head, was oily and twisted in tone. It seemed to worm out from it's source towards the hearer and paw at them before entering their ear.

"It is these blue children!" Visen'thyae spat in response. "I can mould them, shape them, remake them into all manner of miraculous forms, I can inflict torment and anguish the likes of which they could not even conceive, but I cannot glean their secrets! No matter what I do, try as I might, I cannot unravel their mysteries! Either they weather the torture we inflict on them, or they expire before we can learn anything new from them."

"Could not you conceive with the might of your intellect master, some way of retrieving their knowledge after they have died?"

"Even if it were possible, developing the means to such a feat would take far too much time. We need the answers now, and time is running out. For all we know that infernal vessel could be preparing to embark upon it's journey this very minute!"

"Ahh, so then the information must be extracted while they are still alive, and with the utmost haste, yet they prove stubborn and defy the pains grafted upon them."

"Exactly device, you now see my predicament." Visen'thyae began to stare at the centre of the table. "I must break them! But how.."

"Perhaps, master, if I might humbly suggest in your presence, you are approaching this problem from the wrong perspective. Perhaps master, it may be ideal to step back as it were, and view the subject from a fresh mindset, then examine all the available knowledge on the subject and see if any of it may be applied in this instance."

For the first time since entering the chamber, Visen'thyae looked at Oeg'iv. He searched up and down his form, along the long knobbly spine-like growths that protruded from his back like branches on a tree. At that moment Oeg'iv shuddered and twitched, a byproduct of his nervous system. Even with the mastery of flesh and biology that the Haemonculi possessed, the Wrack construction process was not perfect, and such minor spasms inevitably occurred as impulses became confused as they travelled along the Wrack's re-ordered nerves.

"Hmmm.. indeed, it seems that a re-analysis is in order. Perhaps at least it will point out what we are missing." Visen'ththyae took a seat at the table in the centre of the chamber. "Let us see, these blue creatures, these 'Tau' as they call themselves, are a very young race.."

"So they will be unused to many experiences, unprepared for many things, perhaps you could force some new form of torment upon them, concoct a new agony-serum perhaps-"

"No!" Visen'thyae cut him off. "We have tried sheer force of pain already and it has not produced results. Now, we know from vivisections and autopsies of torture victims that high-ranking ones of their kind often incorporate electronic or mechanical enhancments.."

"Then perhaps we could wire them to a computer, mechanically interface with their neural patterns and extract the information that way. They should in theory be similar enough to the Mon'keigh that we could-"

"No, it's too risky, too complicated, though I wonder... if inflicting pain upon their bodies is ineffective, perhaps it would be more conductive if applied to their minds..."

"Ahh, perhaps then the solution lies in modifying a nightmare glove? It has already proven successful at breaking their will several times."

No, they barely produce any soul-essence at all, which leads me to doubt a psychic based interrogation would be fruitful. What do we know of their biology?"

"Aha, it appears their kind is divided into a number of different strains, each adapted for a different set of tasks, ranging from warfare to leadership-"

"Leadership.." Visen'thyae suddenly interjected, "Leadership... yess, that's it!!" The Haemonculus leapt from his seat in exclamation. "Of course! Why didn't I think of that before? Do we not know from past experience that they will go to any length, pay any price, to ensure the safety and well-being of their leaders? Yess, if we cannot get these creatures to share their secrets, then perhaps we can get one of their lords to do it for us!"

"One.. slight fault with such a notion, master. We have none of their leadership class captive here."

"Which only means we will have to catch one! Where is the colony of these creatures that is nearest to us?"

With that, Oeg'iv sprang and hurried over to the table, before brushing a gnarled, twisted hand over the table's centre. A small circular hatch in the centre irised open and a cylindrical projector poked out of the opening, three slender prongs extending from it to give the appearance of a three-taloned claw. Immediately, an iridescent purple light erupted from the projector, and within it sprang forth an image of the galaxy, which promptly zoomed and focused on the far eastern spiral arm, then the cluster of stars the Tau held dominion over, and then finally to the region of space the raiding fleet was currently situated in.

"According to the latest information available, one should be here." Oeg'iv said as he pointed at a star system not far from the pulsing rune that showed the ship's current position.

"Excellent!" Visen'thyae exclaimed. "Prepare a webway portal and marshal the children for battle, we have no time to loose!"


V.



Once again Leu'kyarrth found himself on the viewing deck of his flagship, the Snared Heart, gazing out upon the vast arboretum below and the endless abyss of space beyond. This time however there was only one other person with him, Sybael. The tall lithe Succubus even now stood next to him, just as she had days before when they had begun their conspiracy. Once again her long flowing crimson hair fell down almost to her waist.

"So then Sybael," Leu'kyarrth said, "You said you had an important matter to discuss with me."

"I do Leu'kyarrth, it is the lack of adversaries. I understand that this will be a long voyage, and so we must be careful to conserve captives, but it cannot go on for much longer. My sisters are almost at each other's throats, and while normally they could hone their skills against each other, I wish to ensure that our numbers remain sufficient that we can subdue our prize and it's defenders with ease. But we simply must have something."

"I am aware of the situation Sybael, and I agree with your rationale, but there simply is no other alternative. We need to maintain utmost secrecy to maximise our chances of success, which means we cannot raid the worlds of these creatures lest we reveal our presence. If we remain hidden, they will not expect our attack, and so their guard will be down and the element of surprise will be ours."

"But then could we not strike at another world, one of the ones within this region? We all know they abandoned them after the onslaught of the Tyrannids-"

Leu'kyarrth raised a hand to hush her. To the surprise of both of them she immediately became silent. "Even if we knew for sure there were any settlements on the worlds in this region, that would require us to abandon our position here, which is paramount. If we left here now, then their fleet could begin it's journey through the area without us detecting it, and they would slip through our grasp. We cannot allow that to happen. Perhaps, once we finally break the captives and know more about it's intended course we can afford to try our luck pillaging a world in this god-forsaken region of space, but until then we must bide our time here."

"But surely you must understand, my sisters and I, we are fighters. Battle and bloodshed is what we know. It's our passion, our life. We simply must have something to fight, and at the moment we are starved for targets of our violent wills. If left unchecked they will grow ever more volatile until you have total chaos on your hands. I know you wish to succeed, but you cannot want a bloodbath amongst your own forces. Such an event could be catastrophic."

"I am aware of the danger that our current course of action poses, but I have assessed that it's advantages far outweigh it's drawbacks. I expect you will rein in the worst of your colleagues' bloodlust, because as their leader it is expected that you will be able to hold those under you in check and ensure they carry out the tasks intended for them. Is that understood? Because if it is not.." Leu'kyarrth's hand moved over the handle of his long curving huskblade, currently sheathed at his side. Immediately Sybael tensed and poised in response to the threat. She did not think Leu'kyarrth would be foolhardy enough to threaten a Succubus, let alone in a close-quarters duel, but still she would not hesitate to show him the folly of his ways.

"I see my message has been received," said Leu'kyarrth as he withdrew his hand "But I am certain you already know and understand these constraints, as you have been informed of them before," he moved closer to Sybael, who had now relaxed "Really, Sybael, what is it you wanted to tell me? Why did you bring me here to this place alone? What is it you want?"

Now standing closer to Sybael, Leu'kyarrth noticed oddities in the Dark Eldar before him. His phenomenally keen eyesight, adept as any other Eldar's vision was at picking out detail, noticed that she shifted her gaze away from his, constantly looking and focusing on other parts of the room to avoid it. At the same time he noticed the slightest tint of blood in her face, and some minute shifts in her stance. Could it be, he thought, that she fears me? It was certainly an empowering thought.

Immediately however Sybael regained her composure. Her eyes locked into his, cold and stern like those of a shark. "I simply do not wish for us to fail," she said "If we did, Merrighan's wrath would be terrible to behold, for all of us involved."

Though he suppressed it from showing with all his might, Leu'kyarrth was sent reeling at the mention of that name. Of her. He thought of her now, her tall composure, radiating power. Her long silken hair darker than the very depths of the void which even now were framed within the panoramic windows of the viewing deck. He pictured her upon him, her armoured boot pressed against his throat as she prepared to deliver a death blow to him. He did not like the thought of death, and yet... the thought of dying by her hand...

No. He ruthlessly shunted the thought back into the depths of his mind. He would not be killed. He would succeed. He would sweep aside any paltry opposition his quarry would throw his way, he would grasp Merrighan's prize, and deliver it to her lap on a silvered platter. If of course she agreed to his terms. If not then he would have no choice but to reel her in, break her and take his rightful place by force. Perhaps she would be wise and submit to him before she was too damaged. Though the thought of her blood, it's red colour the perfect compliment to the jet-black of her hair..

"You need not fear," he said at last, "We will succeed, and then all that we could desire will be at our finger tips."

"Indeed." Sybael smiled at the thought. She was well satisfied by this encounter. She had sized up her opponent, and she felt she had a good understanding of him, and an idea of a possible weakness she could exploit. But all in good time.

"Now then, if you will excuse me," Leu'kyarrth said, "I have matters to attend to. One of our prisoners is most troublesome, for his defiance displeases me greatly. I wish to begin educating him in proper manners. I will need Visen'thyae's assistance. I wonder where he is now..."
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

User avatar
Calmsword
Shas'Ui
Shas'Ui
Posts: 1515

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae (on behalf of Kakapo 42)

Post#3 » Jul 17 2013 11:41

Uh oh... Someone's gonna get twisted... or punched with a nightmare glove.
~Good Hunting

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae (on behalf of Kakapo 42)

Post#4 » Aug 01 2013 08:10

Calmsword wrote:Uh oh... Someone's gonna get twisted... or punched with a nightmare glove.


Ohh, you have no idea...

VI.


It was night. Rain pelted down in an unrelenting torrent from the cold midnight grey clouds. Nothing could be seen through the gloom except for the small lights of the colony ahead. They would be upon it within moments.

At once the chatter of the rain was drowned out by an ear-splitting, roaring bellow of thunder that crackled and rolled to the ground from somewhere within the depths of the ion-storm that was battering the area around the colony. Quickly following it was a spectacular searing cascade of lightning that illuminated the area as clearly as if it were morning.

Visen'thyae smiled in delight. He loved lightning, with it's piercing cold unnatural white light, it's blistering speed with which it struck down and the scolding agony inflicted upon anyone it caught, it had always been one of his favourite things of the universe. The one fault he had with it was that it always killed it's victims nearly instantly, giving no time or thought to savouring and appreciating the intricate subtleties of their suffering. But then, one couldn't have everything...

Along with the rest of his personal group, Visen'thyae was advancing towards the hapless settlement behind the main bulk of his strike group, the ground cold and damp beneath his feet. Unlike a normal raid, none of his forces were mounted in Raiders. This of course made them slower, and it could be considered questionable if this was wise, but Visen'thyae knew that a Raider-borne attack would simply alert the settlement's defenders quickly, and thus give a larger window for his prey to escape. By having his force advance on foot, Visen'thyae could surround the colony and move in on it from all sides under the cover of the ion storm completely undetected. Stealth, not speed, would be key to this victory.

The Haemonculus was surrounded by a group of Wracks, his chosen assistants, that accompanied him. Even now they shambled and scurried forward in front of him, scanning the area ahead for any signs of danger to their master. To his left was Oeg'iv, silently talking into the communicator implanted into his skull as he coordinated the various elements of the raiding party. To the right floated the hulking form of a Talos, it's translucent flesh writhing and pulsating beneath it's black armoured shell, it's shrunken head shifting this way and that, it's tail-mounted weapons pod swaying to and fro in search of targets.

Visen'thyae recalled in his mind the images taken before. A four engined transport craft had landed in the settlement not long before the ion storm broke out, and Visen'thyae was certain he knew what it's markings meant: it was carrying a leader. They would have no doubt been dispatched to inspect the development of the colony, or to supervise or oversee some new project it was undertaking. Visen'thyae knew this would likely meant they were not of very high rank, but that would not be necessary. All that was needed was one of the alien's leader-creatures, just one. Then he would make the prisoners talk.

Visen'thyae thought of those prisoners even now, the wretched snivelling blue things that they were. He sought to bring progress to them, and yet they refused his gifts. They had the audacious defiance to resist his torments. How dare they! It mattered not, however, for soon he would have his prize. With this new toy, he would make them talk. He would punish them for their insolent defiance. He would make them pay for resisting him. Their kin here too would suffer. Even now they would no doubt be slumbering peacefully in their shelters, oblivious to the horror approaching them, innocent, fruit ripe for the plucking...

Another brilliant display of lightning raced across the heavens. Visen'thyae found and brought up a small sketch-book he had brought with him. On exposure to the atmosphere lights twinkled about the surface of it's cover as it's built-in shield projector activated, protecting it's hide paper from the rain. Visen'thyae turned to a blank page, concentrated hard, and then began to draw the lightning he had just witnessed, capturing every detail his photographic memory could recall. It would be the first of many such drawings made through the night, of victims, of scenes of destruction, new discoveries and expressions of pain, anything that captured Visen'thyae's interest. Sketching had always been a hobby of his, and wherever he ventured he inevitably found some new image to capture.

This place was so full of inspiration and wonder. Finishing his sketch, Visen'thyae decided he would make it his personal task to find some way of sharing the miracle of lightning with others. Perhaps some new pain-engine... no, that wouldn't do. Too indirect. He would need to find some means of providing the experience of lightning firsthand, but at a speed at which it could be enjoyed. But how....

They were close now, very close. Visen'thyae could see the settlement clearly now, make out the barrier of it's perimeter, the windows from which it's lights shone out of, glowing beacon-like in the darkness, drawing them closer. It's gates were closed, but that would not matter. The hulking Grotesques accompanying the raiders could tear down any obstacle set before them. Nothing escaped Visen'thyae's keen sight and attention to detail, and he noted several points that were likely occupied by guards. The defenders of the colony would have strong positions no doubt, but he had a trick or two up his own sleeves. They would be overcome before long, and then the festivities could begin in earnest. Visen'thyae would show these fools the true meaning of terror.

"Master," Oeg'iv's voice was barely audible over the downpour, but Visen'thyae's exceptional Eldar hearing managed to pick it out all the same "All elements have reported they are in position. We await your command to attack."

At once a new sound began to stir up over the rain and thunder, the distinctive whirring noise of automatic pulse-fire, and electric blue bolts began to pour out of several points along the settlement's perimeter. The Tau had been alerted to their presence.

Visen'thyae spoke into his personal communicator. "Solarites, inform your kin they may begin their attack. Disable the transport craft and then target the defenders. Remember, I want their leaders alive."

"At once, Haemonculus." As the response came, several dark winged figures shot through the stormy sky towards the settlement as the Scourges accompanying the raid descended upon their targets. As they arrived, there were brief flashes and sounds of destruction, and then one by one the streams of plasma pulses began to cease. When Visen'thyae finally arrived at the settlement's gate, torn open like a jagged wound, he was greeted with the horrified screams of it's inhabitants, the perfect serenade for such a wondrous night.

VII.


The Fio awoke in a daze. For a few short moments she hoped that the last few kai'rotta had not been real, that they had been some dark horrific nightmare she had imagined. She was quickly proven wrong when she discovered that she couldn't move. Her surroundings were pitch dark. She could not see how large the room she was in was, nor could she see it's layout. The Fio could, however, just barely make out a shape in front of her, some figure slumped over in a seat. The figure seemed to be taller than her, and in the shape of a Tau or Gue'la, but she could discern no more than that. Shifting her right hand, she discovered two buttons at the end of the arm of the seat she was restrained in. She shuddered to think of what new torture her captors had planned.

At once light flickered into the area. Not normal light, rather an icy sterile searing white that was just as uncomfortable to the eye as the darkness had been. It's sudden appearance sent the Fio, who had not seen anything as bright for her entire time as a captive, wincing.

As her eyes refocused as best they could, she began to take in her newly illuminated surroundings. Her small room was adjacent to a larger, circular one. The two spaces were separated by a large screen of what seemed to be glass. The walls of the larger room primarily consisted of similar such windows, tinted jet-black. Those areas of the rooms not consisting of window were a dirty creme colour, marred with all manner of tarnished stains. Exactly what had caused them the Fio could not fathom, but she quickly decided she probably would not want to.

The main room was completely empty, except for the single seat at it's centre. To the Fio's horror, she immediately recognised the figure restrained in it.

It was an Ethereal.

Judging from the Aun's general size and softer features, the Fio deduced the Ethereal (who she was quite sure was male) to be very young, perhaps not even an Aun'vre yet. He could not have been one of the other Tau prisoners, for mercifully no Aun had been present at the time of the raid that had seen the Fio and her entire engineering contingent either murdered or captured (along with the Shas and auxilliary garrison stationed to defend them and any other Tau present at the time), which could only have meant that her captors had staged another attack recently. The Fio's heart sank and her throat caught as she thought of what it must have been like, children butchered in front of their parents, innocents slaughtered without mercy, lovers and companions torn apart and dragged away screaming..

..dragged away screaming to this. Not even an Ores'la deserved such a fate.

Regardless for how long the Ethereal had been held by these monsters, he had already begun to suffer at their hands. Even now his tender, soft flesh, still fresh to the rigours of the universe, had been pocked and cris-crossed with scars and lesions, concentrated so much in some areas that the skin almost looked like a moonscape. Other areas were instead discoloured by bruises. Despite the rough handling the Ethereal had received, he was still very much alive. Even now, he was stirring, beginning to regain consciousness. To awake into this nightmare. He seemed sluggish and dazed, likely the result of the same drug or tranquillizer that had been used on the Fio, and any other prisoners that might perhaps be behind the other windows.

Until now the Fio's confines had been silent, but just as the Ethereal opened his weary, confused eyes fully, the silence was shattered. A hidden speaker in the rooms roof suddenly blared and ringed into life. The voice that followed was twisted beyond all measure, at once both rasping and shrieking, seemingly snaking and writhing through the air as it made it's way to an audience, the voice of lunacy itself.

"Roll up! Welcome, one and all, to this, my grand experiment! An extravagant odyssey deep into the depths of the psyche. Behold! You small blue things, you children of the eastern stars, for as long as you have wandered across space you have prided yourselves on your... camaraderie, your sense of... closeness. Now, as the show begins, we will put this to the test, as you are all given.. a chance, to save your leader's life! Enter, the assistant!"

On the voice's cue, a concealed hatch slid open in the floor of the main chamber. Out of it climbed a horrid twisting shambling parody of a humanoid. It ambled up to the captive Ethereal, cradling a slender syringe in it's hands.

"At this very moment," the voice continued "My humble assistant holds within his hands a most dreadful substance. This concoction, of my own ingenious devising, is viciously mutagenic in it's properties. Composed of only the finest and most virulent osseovirals, macrosteroids, growth agents, electoro-stimulants and agony serums, it is specifically mixed and tailored to twist and remould the hapless subject into a thing of terrible nightmares, and excruciatingly painfully too if I might add."

The Fio felt sick as she took in what the voice dictated as best she could. Through the window, she could see the helpless Aun frightfully glancing around, shaking in terror, struggling to escape.

"And now, the plot thickens. For you, my guests, you shall decide the poor lord's fate. Within moments he shall be injected with the concoction, which will ravage through his system. Fortunately, fate smiles on you this day, for as luck would have it it just so happens that the antidote is in my possession. Thus, the choice is simple. If you choose to help, and share with me everything you know about this grand expedition of your kind, everything you know about this 'Path Resurgence' and it's structural layout, workings and defences, and it's intended course, then I will administer it to him, sparing him a most horrible fate and curing his condition. Otherwise, if you still refuse to co-operate, alas he will die screaming. Assistant, if you may!"

At that moment the creature uncapped the syringe and, while holding down the struggling Ethereal's head with one hand, gently thrust the needle-tip into the Tau's neck before pushing the syringe's contents through.

As the creature removed the syringe and skulked back into the hatch it entered from, the Ethereal began to shiver. Then shudder. Then spasm.

"When you are ready to caste your vote," the voice resumed "simply select your choice from one of the two buttons on your seat. The one on the left spares him of the coming hell, the one on the right abandons him to his fate. Tell us what you know of this 'Path Resurgence', and save your leader's life, or keep your secrets and watch as he dies in agony. The decision is yours."

And at that moment, the Ethereal screamed.

It was like no sound the Fio had ever heard, indeed she did not think any Tau vocal chord could produce such a noise. More than a cry, more than a howl, it was an unrelenting stream of pure pain personified and given voice, a piercing roaring wail of raw anguish. It was unbearable.

For what seemed like hours the Fio watched, transfixed, agonising over the choice. If she pressed the left button, she would save the Aun from his pain, but it would be at the cost of betraying the reclamation effort. But she could not let a fellow Tau, especially an Aun, continue on in such torment. She watched as he writhed and strained and retched in his restraints, his limbs involuntarily twisting and pulling in shock at the sheer force of the mutagenic stimulants. The screaming did not relent. His eyes bulged and swirled in their sockets. Growths and tumours rippled across his exposed flesh. Knobbly spires of bone began to push up through the skin.

Finally, the Ethereal made the choice for her.

"Do it! Do as they command! Don't let me die! Save me!!" the Ethereal howled. At once, in a movement part conscious decision, part breaking despair and part instinct, the Fio's finger moved and pressed down on the left button.

And from his vantage point, Visen'thyae watched his monitor as all the cell occupants registered the same choice. It had worked, just as he had thought it would. These prisoners were broken at last. They would share their secrets now.

Visen'thyae remotely activated the stasis chamber the Ethereal was held in, preserving the wretched mess of their leader in time. He would remain so until all of the prisoners had held their end of the bargain. Of course, what they did not know was that the only cure for the mutagenic serum was death, but one surprise at a time.

He picked up a truth-spindle and made his way down to the viewing cells. The Path Resurgence would be theirs.
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#5 » Sep 15 2013 02:21

VIII.



Leu'kyarrth stalked down the corridors and hallways, hunting for his quarry. As with the interiors of all Dark Eldar vessels, the labyrinthine interior of his personal cruiser and the flagship of the raiding fleet, the Snared Heart, was wreathed in shadows and only barely illuminated by unearthly golden half-light that radiated outwards from concealed sources in the upper corners where the walls met the ceiling. But this mattered not to Leu'kyarrth, his vision was accustomed to darkness, and the layout of the ship was second nature to him. He knew exactly where he was going and who he was looking for.

Already he seethed and boiled with rage inside, but nonetheless was able to keep it hidden under a cool, calm, purposeful demeanour. The audacity of it! Leu'kyarrth was a Kabalite aristocrat, and thus no stranger to deception or sedition, but it nonetheless stung him that his mandates had been ignored. And worse still, the perpetrator was of great prominence. If word of this had spread, it could set a precedent for others to follow suite. No, this action could not be ignored, and it had to be addressed.

He soon found his prey. It was within a conference room, almost completely devoid of light and crafted to a circular shape. At its centre was a large round table surrounded by tall-backed seats. There were no windows or other features besides. In the gloom Leu'kyarrth could just make out the shape the cowardly cockroach in the corner. A pair of glinting eyes shot back at him, a sign that his entry had been noticed.

"Visen'thyae." The address was colder than the depths of space that surrounded the ship, and saturated with barely contained venom.

"Leu'kyarrth!" Visen'thyae exclaimed, before adopting a similarly collected tone, "What brings you to this corner of the vessel? Surely you should still be on the bridge, searching for our imminent arrivals-"

"It can wait. There are more pressing matters that demand my concern at the moment."

"Then surely you should-"

Leu'kyarrth cut him off a second time. "Visen'thyae," He began, his tone like that one would use when dealing with a child. "Visen'thyae, Visen'thyae, Visen'thaye. Do stop this infantile charade that you are oblivious to why I am here. Surely you would be knowledgeable enough to assume that word of what you did would reach me?"

Visen'thyae began to slink towards the door nearest him. With a movement across the display screen in his chest armour, Leu'kyarrth locked it. There would be no escape for this wretched excuse for an Eldar.

"Leu'kyarrth, I really don't know-"

"Come now Visen'thyae. I know all about your little sojourn. I know all about how you and your servants, along with our allied contingent of Scourges and an unconfirmed number of Kabalites absconded with a number of small ships to a nearby colony world, where you proceeded to despoil some hapless outpost and make off with a number of prisoners, including one of the Tau's precious lords."

"Ahhhahh, yess.. that, well... desperate times call for desperate measures. I will not lie to you Leu'kyarrth, I may have indeed acted without leave, but look at what it has led to! At last I have results! We have the information we need now! Knowledge of the station's interior and course!"

"And at what cost?" Leu'kyarrth spat back in retort, "What if your actions are discovered by others? Did you account for that? These Tau value their lords above all else! Surely once they discover one is missing they will launch reprisal! Or what if your actions lead to rivals discovering the bounty we pursue? I gave specific orders for concealment and isolation above all else for a reason you know!"

The Haemonculus laughed, a maddening sound that bounced and danced around the room, seeming twice as loud as it might actually have been. "Why Leu'kyarrth! Such fire in your words! I can assure you, there is no grounds for concern. I took every precaution, and made great efforts on top of that, to hide our presence. They will not know of the fate that befell their leader, and our enemies will not discover our actions. Really Leu'kyarrth, you almost sound as if you fear these creatures!"

At this Leu'kyarrth's rage could not be denied any longer. In a fraction of a second he had leapt across the room, drawing the huskblade he kept at his side at all times. In a second fraction he had brought the blade, now wreathed in a swirling haze of icy blue-white light, within millimetres of Visen'thyae's throat, as he pinned the Haemonculus against the wall. "Know this, tunnel crawler," said Leu'kyarrth, the words spat out with a mixture of contempt and hatred, "I fear nothing. I am lord of the dark and all terrors that dwell within it. I have seen worlds razed, armies routed, entire populations dragged screaming into the night. Widows weep at the doings of my hand. Fear is my tool and weapon, not my master. And I will not abide insubordination. Slither back to your cave if you can, or else die now by my blade. But never countermand my orders again."

"Ahahah, now now Leu'kyarrth," Visen'thyae replied, "I would choose my words and actions carefully, for after all, actions speak much louder than words, do they not? You would be wise to take note that things that crawl in caves develop a plethora of special defences against predation.."

The Haemonculus drew up his third arm. The arm Leu'kyarrth had forgotten about, an arm sheathed in an ornate armoured glove. The hand upon it wiggled its fingers in taunt, before delicately touching the bridge of the Dark Eldar's nose. Immediately Leu'kyarrth was dumbstruck, as the mindphase gauntlet instantly queltched all semblance of anger and aggression from him. The Dark Eldar staggered back and stood, helpless, unable to move at all, his huskblade falling uselessly to his side.

"Honestly Leu'kyarrth, I find your lack of rationality disturbing!" Visen'thyae said as he strode out of the room.

The seconds crawled at an excruciatingly slow pace for Leu'kyarrth as his limbs slowly regained motion. "Hierarch," came an abrupt voice on his personal communicator, "this is Bridge control. A large unidentified craft has just appeared in the area. Signal indicates it's of Tau origin. A fleet appears to be detaching from it. We have them on our scopes at this very moment."

"Excellent bridge," Leu'kyarrth replied, "I'll.. I'll be up there shortly."

IX.



The light tapping of her armoured boots struck through the air ahead of her as Dracon Seth'ia'vex, princess of murder, escort captain, head of the Heart-Takers, and chief spy-mistress of Merrighan, paced through the twisting corridors of the Snared Heart. While the more frequently used areas of the ship were rarely empty, since the arrival of the Tau the entire ship had become alive with activity. Everywhere Seth'ia'vex walked she saw countless Kabalite warriors, bedecked in the bright green-trimmed black armour of the Bleeding Rose kabal. Many stood guard outside cells or rooms. Some patrolled in pairs, often accompanied by a sleek panther-like Cleoravix. Though eyeless, these fearsome hunting beasts possessed phenomenal senses of smell and hearing even by Eldar standards, and the luminescent feeler-like whiskers that studded their rounded heads could perceive heat, electrostatic signals and were even thought to be minutely warp-sensitive, though such claims had yet to be verified scientifically. Nonetheless, they made excellent guard creatures, and selective breeding by the Dark Eldar had only made them stronger and more vicious over time.

Seth'ia'vex passed a small spindly green creature with a large nose and ears, a Gretchin she thought, confined within a cold black cage, shrieking and pleading as its accommodation was carted off to some unfathomable fate. On her travels she took time to admire the ship's architecture, the delicate lighting from cleverly concealed sources, the way the walls carefully slanted to provide the illusion that the corridors had a shape not unlike a four-pointed star, and the intricate murals upon the walls themselves, so subtle that only an Eldar's vision would be able to discern them from the bleak forbidding blacks and greys of the wall's plating. Each one was a splendid display of some Dark Eldar triumph. Seth'ia'vex assumed that they were all conquests of Leu'kyarrth, likely added to the specifications of the ship when it was commissioned. She wondered what might become of them. Leu'kyarrth was of course rash and ignorant, and his downfall was inevitable, Seth'ia'vex would ensure it was so. She would indeed rather enjoy taking his place, for the command of one of the Bleeding Rose kabal's prized raiding fleets could not be entrusted to someone so lesser as he. No, a raiding fleet needed to be led by someone with poise, tactfulness, grace. And Seth'ia'vex had all these in spades.

As she continued on her voyage through the interior of the ship, Seth'ia'vex became ever more aware of the attention branded on her. At every step she found the ship's denizens turning their attention to her. Watching her. She was not surprised. Her porcelain skin, elegant features and rich ebon hair, which reached just below her shoulders, had always drawn eyes to her, almost as much as her unusually small size (though she still stood half a head taller than most Mon'keigh), which had brought down on her nicknames such as 'doll', 'Merrighan's child' and 'Unseelie'. Though she did not know why, Seth'ia'vex particularly liked the last one, given to her by a Mon'keigh captive, and had made sure he had taught her how to properly spell and pronounce it before she killed him. Even without her striking appearance, there was still cause for focus on her. After all, this was Leu'kyarrth's personal vessel, its entire crew utterly loyal to him. Naturally they would be wary of a Heart-Taker, one of the Crème de la cop of the kabal, hand-picked for Their skill, daring, viciousness and, above all else, unquestioning and unswerving loyalty to Merrighan herself. Nonetheless, any leering stare directed at her was swiftly dealt with by a murderous glare from her cold, icy grey eyes, utterly devoid of anything resembling compassion or mercy, and a hand held close to each of her twin customised splinter pistols was enough to discourage unwarranted aggression, for her marksmanship was legendary amongst the kabal and infamous amongst its enemies.

At long last she arrived at the bridge, to be her bridge before too long. It was a spacious expanse, easily the size of an observation chamber, but it was filled with a plethora of myriad displays, instrument panels and control stations. In the centre was a large square depressed area, in which resided a large holographic terminal, which was currently projecting a long range scan of the fleet's target, the Tau station and its escort. It seemed they had arrived at the rescue of another Tau vessel, which Seth'ia'vex recognised as one of the large multi-role ships they commonly encountered in Tau space, either on their own as cargo freighters or in support of warfleets that commonly engaged them. This one was suffering the misfortune of being attacked by a small Mon'keigh vessel, likely to be pirates considering where they were.

The front of the bridge (as much as there could be a forward direction in space) was dominated by the large bridge windows, which swept upwards in three lines, the outer two of which veered off to either side. Through them was the vast backdrop of the void, and before it was the arrayed raiding fleet in all it's wicked glory. To either side of the ship could be seen the imposing three-winged carriers, the Merciless Butcher and Heartless Reaver, their huge blade-like main wings lowered to either side and straight below in a 'T' shape. Below them were the two torpedo-armed attack cruisers, the Impaled Lover and Torn Princess, and in front was the lance-armed Envenomed Blade. Scattered about the great predatory capital ships were the numerous squadrons of escorts within the fleet. Groups of weapon-bedecked Lacerators the core of the Bleeding Rose armada, prowled to and fro along with the patrolling attack craft from the carriers. Close to the Snared Heart were the Piercers, their prow-mounted phantom lances retracted beneath their keels. On either flank of the fleet were the Skewerers with their bulbous torpedo pods. At the front of the fleet, assembled like wolves waiting for the hunt, were Seth'ia'vex's own squadron of Heart-Taker ships, their hulking bladed Impaler Assault Modules slung under their noses like bayonets. Seth'ia'vex felt some semblance of pride seeing them arrayed at the head of the fleet. She would be sad to leave her squadron, but to be the leader of a raiding fleet required one to transfer to its flagship. All of the vessels were in idol-mode, with their sprawling auxiliary sections, filled with torture chambers, arboretums, prison blocks, training arenas and recreation decks, arrayed about their sides and exposed to the stars. No two ships had identical layouts of these sections, though they would be stowed away when the time came for combat.

Leu'kyarrth was at the central terminal, surveying the scene that was unfolding somewhere far out before the raiding fleet. Upon hearing the bridge door open, he had looked up, and immediately regretted it. Leu'kyarrth did not know which unnerved him more about Seth'ia'vex, her eyes, the centre of which were grey-blue upon grey-blue and seemingly devoid of pupils, or the two preserved hearts she wore as pendants around her neck, as was customary with Heart-Takers. One was Eldar, and had belonged to the former Heart-Taker captain she had murdered, the other was a trophy, and appeared to be Mon'keigh in origin, though swollen to gigantic proportions.

"The princess graces us with her presence," said Leu'kyarrth, a vapour of sneering mockery lacing his voice, "Come, join me."

Seth'ia'vex descended to the terminal, and observed the shifting elements of it's image. Already the Tau fleet was sending attack craft and long-range strikes against the pirate vessel. "Look at them," said Leu'kyarrth, "Squabbling like ants. Oblivious to what awaits them in the end. Why-for have you embarked upon my ship, Seth'ia'vex? Surely you have some hapless creature to hunt down."

"You can wait for now Leu'kyarrth, you needn't fear," Seth'ia'vex replied, "I have come on official business to bring news from the Kabal."

"Indeed?" Said Leu'kyarrth, "And what word comes from the Dark City and abroad?"

"It seems we are no longer alone in our pursuit. Knowledge of the Tau fleet has escaped the confines of the kabal."

Leu'kyarrth tensed, and an expression of anger attempted to solidify itself on his face, to little avail. "Is it known who has found out about it?"

"The Twisted Vine." Seth'ia'vex's voice was laced with contempt as she sneered out the answer. "Though we do not know exactly how they gained word of it, a small craft of their origin has been sighted in the nearby areas."

"Likely those two rats of his, Vak'sanithar and Gel'thran'vex."

"Indeed." The two names sounded vaguely familiar to Seth'ia'vex, though she could not recall if she had ever met them before. It was likely she had clashed with them at some point in the past, during her covert sorties into the dark underbelly of Commorragh at the head of Bleeding Rose Executioner kill-teams, rooting out prying spies and their treacherous informants. "We have since sealed up all leaks we could find, and Executioner teams are hunting down both informants and enemy agents even as we speak. Fortunately it seems they do not know the true scope of our endeavour, as the small craft seems to be the only force they have sent."

"Hmmmm, the main danger then will be alerting the Tau prematurely. Where are they now?"

"Unknown. Though it is likely the craft lacks internal webway capacity, so they will have needed to travel through a gate."

"I concur. Identify all the webway exits within the region, then report the findings. I will need to factor this new development into our plans."

"Of course, Hierarch." Seth'ia'vex turned and began to leave the bridge. When the time came, she would enjoy killing him...

[spoiler=]A note to any readers: I do have a rather bad habit of writing 'it's' instead of 'its'. I think I've gotten them all in this instalment, but do keep this in mind if you notice them.[/spoiler]
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#6 » Oct 04 2013 07:45

X.


For a moment he was happy. For a fleeting minute, he thought everything would be fine. Then he woke up.

Shas'el'Kel'shan'Mont'yr'Ta slowly, drowsily opened his eyes. Just a slit, the bare amount visible to see his surroundings. He had a sinking feeling that he was not in fact back in his Cadre barracks, surrounded by his friends and colleagues. That in fact, he had fallen asleep and that, worst of all, the hell he had been swept away to was still very real, and not just some vivid fevered nightmare. And as he opened his eyes more and his ears were confronted by a deep, ominous creaking, he knew just where he still was.

In a prison cell, on a ship, against a cold dark wall covered in scrawlings left behind by millions of what had easily been the galaxy's unluckiest creatures....... and in the hands of them.

El'Mont'yr'Ta was tough. He was a warrior, a battle hardened Fire Caste commander who had fought and led troops in over a dozen different campaigns, many on the very surface of his troubled homeworld. He had seen the vast colossal waves of an Ork Waaaagh, an veritable sea of frenzied green muscle and weapons that swept over everything in it's path and left nothing but burning cinders and ash in it's wake.

He had witnessed the full scale of a Tyranid invasion, an endless night and relentless downpour of grotesque fleshy capsules that disgorged wave after wave of alien horrors in an unceasing tide that had crashed against the outpost he was defending like a tidal wave on a shore, for 3 whole Kai'rotta until an Air Caste fleet and re-enforcements had arrived to free him and the ragged remnants of the outpost's defence from certain horrific death. In hindsight El'Mont'Yr'Ta almost wished he hadn't been rescued that day.

Even more, he had seen a horde of utter darkness, with legions of deranged creatures far fallen from their Gue'la origins, shepherded by great and terrible giants in twisted armour and accompanied by things that could never have existed in a sane universe. Then after defeating that he had witnessed the Gue'la pursuing them... and had wondered for a long time just which had been madder, the mass of pure terror, or the crazed zealots that scoured all before them with fire and wielded weapons and devices every bit as unusual and maniacal as their intended quarry.

But in all his Tau'cyr of service in the name of the Tau'va, the Greater Good, he had never encountered anything like his current captors.

There was something... different about them. It was the way that they acted, the way that they thought. In fact it was that they thought that was worst of all. The other things he had faced, the B'gel, the Y'he, the Mont'au and the Gue'la, those had all been... mindless. Unthinking. Irrational. They had conducted their brutal atrocities without putting reason or thought into them. They had simply killed and butchered their victims for no other reason than that they had been in their way. But these beings, they weren't like that at all. They were perfectly capable of thought and reason, perfectly capable of rational thinking. And yet they still committed horrific acts of wanton cruelty. More than that, they chose to, of their own free will, and even went so far as to deliberately go out of their way to inflict misery on others.

Maybe the way of the enclaves was right, he thought. Maybe the universe is beyond saving.

But then perhaps that was why the Path Resurgence had been commissioned in the first place. Perhaps it was there to prove the naysayers and pessimists wrong. To show that the galaxy was not lost, that the light of the Tau'va could shine into and illuminate even the darkest corners of the void. El'Mont'yr'Ta laughed. That he was starting to sound like a por'hui public address was a sure sign he was going mad.

He wondered where the Resurgence might be now. Had it begun it's first jump yet? It seemed like it was about now that it had been scheduled to depart into the Zone of Silence, but dates and time had long since lost all meaning to him. Now El'Mont'yr'Ya's life was just a single long blur of crushing loneliness, bitter despair and chilling fear, punctuated by periods of mind-shattering agony. He hoped that the jump had been successful, that the reclamation fleet was well on it's way and that the new technology at it's heart had not failed. Then his heart sank and his stomach knotted as he remembered. For what had been, by his estimate, at least a rotaa now, he had heard a new sound amongst the now-familiar chorus of tortured screams that drifted through to his confines, the gravely howling of what he could only presume were Demiurg captives. Which in turn could only mean that they had finally managed to crack at least some of the other Tau prisoners, and had learnt at least that the Path Resurgence's main jump drive was of Demiurg origin. Who knew what other secrets they had discovered...

He shuddered to think of what might befall the reclamation fleet. To think that they might be preyed upon by these monsters. He shuddered to think of those countless peoples aboard the Path Resurgence, brought in chains to somewhere like this. Or, even worse, dragged into whatever dark and twisted hell these beings called home. What sort of place could create such creatures, so utterly obsessed with nothing more than delivering ruin and suffering onto others, so that only they could enjoy power and comfort for themselves? Creatures that were so utterly the antithesis of the Tau Empire, a collective of equals united in their goal to share the fruits of their efforts, with each part contributing to a whole greater than the sum of it's parts.

At once the half-light from the window in El'Mont'yr'Ta's cell door became eclipsed by the looming shadow of a Dark Eldar guard. Oh no, it was time again.

For a moment he had been happy, but now that moment was long dead. There could be no lasting happiness in this place...

XI.


"Gentlemen,"

Leu'kyarrth looked out over the assembly before him, and gave a serrated razor-blade of a smile. "And ladies. The time has now come to discuss current developments and begin planning."

The Dark Eldar gazed over the gathering on the viewing deck. It struck him as whimsically ironic that, little over a month ago, he, Sybael and Visen'thyae had met in this very place to begin their conspiracy, and that between then and now he had met with Sybael again here. That had been an odd encounter, he thought, for neither he nor Sybael had any tolerance for wasting time, and yet she had specifically requested for his presence, and only his presence with her. It mattered not though, he had other concerns now. In stark contrast to when the viewing deck had been privy to at most a trio of individuals, it now played host to a considerable assortment. Leu'kyarrth had called for the attendance of the fleet's leadership, and he had not been disappointed. Every major personality in the raiding fleet was present, with the captains of the capital ships and... Seth'ia'vex, clustered together in the centre towards the front and the escort captains around the sides and further back, bunched into cliques with their squadron compatriots. Sybael and Visen'thyae, representatives of the 'allies' of the Bleeding Rose kabal, flanked either side of him. In the shadows around the room he could just make out the sinister shapes of Seth'ia'vex's fellow Heart Taker captains, prowling around the collected group, ever vigilant for any sign of treachery. The Snared Heart had ascended to a position above the rest of the raiding fleet, and so the view beyond the viewing deck's panoramic windows was a spectacular unobstructed starscape, awash with the myriad colours and patterns of the great cosmos, ever so delicately stippled as always by the faint wisps of blood that drifted up from the arboretum below, the perfect backdrop for the meeting.

"You may dispense with the formalities Leu'kyarrth," It was Har'kir'syn that spoke. His voice was low and laced with a regal, aristocratic sense of hedonistic boredom. He was captain of the Merciless Butcher, one of the raiding fleet's two carriers, and though still relatively lithe and athletic, he was nonetheless rounded and portly for an Eldar, signs that betrayed the lifestyle of decadence that he was renowned for throughout the kabal. Even now he reclined at the very front of the assembly, rather than perching or standing as the rest of Leu'kyarrth's guests were. Nonetheless, despite his craven sloth, he had proven himself time and again to be an extremely capable carrier commander. "We all know that you have not dragged us here for something you could have easily conferred with us about over intership communication channels, and time is of great import."

He was not wrong. While ostensibly the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the recently gleaned information on the Tau fleet, it's true purpose was something else entirely. Leu'kyarrth had wished to observe the relationships amongst his captains, identify potential supporters for his upcoming coup, and size up potential enemies. He had not been disappointed with the results. Even now he could see the various schisms and rivalries amongst the fleet, for Dark Eldar are ever watchful of enemies, and each and every one of his guests had positioned themselves in such a way that they had all their opponents and adversaries within their vision. Those they allowed to be behind them they clearly considered not a threat, for no Dark Eldar ever lets a threat behind their back..

"It is possible I could have done that Har'kir'syn," Leu'kyarrth retorted, "But such channels can easily be intercepted and monitored, and secrecy is of paramount concern to us. Even now it has been brought to out attention, as you have all been briefed, that the Twisted Vine kabal has also learnt of the Tau operation, and has mobilised a strike force to secure it." There was an outbreak of nods and sounds of approval from his audience at this rationale.

"I was lead to believe, however, that the force sent by them was minute, barely more than a cutter and it's attendant crew. Is this not ture?" The inquiry came from Scy'th'irica, the captain of the raiding fleet's second carrier, the Heartless Reaver. In stark contrast to the relaxed and hedonistic Har'kir'syn, Scy'th'irica lived a spartan life of hardship and diligence, eschewing the luxuries her position would normally afford her in favour of harsh discipline and scarce living, believing that such an existence promoted the development of the strong, and as a result her strict rules and heavy punishments were notorious amongst the fleet for being brutal and draconian even by the standards of the Dark Eldar, though they invariably ensured that her crew was one of the most efficient and well drilled in the entire kabal. Even now in this conference she retained her distinctive nine-lashed electro-corrosive scourge, and the pale skin over her desolately thin form was marred by the sharp designs of the scars she regularly inflicted upon herself, for, as she believed, pain was her ally, and a fearsome one it was at that.

"The force our intelligence has so far identified is only a cutter yes," said Leu'kyarrth, "However we all know from experience that the Twisted Vine are adept in clandestine movements and trickery, it is possible that they have yet more forces that have, so far, gone undetected by us."

"It matters not!" Bellowed a Lacerator captain from the rear, the silken robes he was wearing adorned with the same snake-like bladed whip designs that were tattooed around his arms, the iconic symbol of the Lacerator squadrons. "Our fleet superiority is undisputed, and our vessels and equipment are state of the art. Even the Black Heart knows it is folly to attempt to match us in a fleet engagement! Come one of their junkers or a thousand, we will swat them from the void like the gnats they are!" At this he received several roars of approval and agreement from the other five captains of his squadron.

"Indeed. It is nonetheless wise to take precautions to prevent our designs being intercepted. Now then, to business."

Leu'kyarrth made a sweeping motion over the monitor screen in his breastplate. At once, the half-light of the room dimmed and retreated away from the centre of the meeting. As it did, a pair of circular projectors, each of which sporting a triumvirate of long slender claw-like holographic emitters, extended from positions in the floor and ceiling. As they slipped into position, an aura of violet light flared into life between them, and on this canvas materialised a vivid schematic graphic of the fleet's target, the Path Resurgence, the enormous craft at the heart of the Tau fleet, with it's broad circular head and long needle-like rear.

"This is our target." Said Leu'kyarrth, "It is the core of the Tau fleet, and it is believed that it's purpose is to deliver a vast number of colonists to resettle the region after it was lost to the Tau. Merrighan-" Leu'kyarrth was barely able to suppress an involuntary shiver that came at the mention of her name, "-desires it's capture so that we may claim it's passengers as slaves. As a result, when we do make our attack, it is not to be targeted by heavy weaponry. We want them alive, not reduced to stardust."

"Why do we not attack now, while they are vulnerable?" Asked a Lacerator captain from another squadron, her hair dyed a deep royal blue. There were several nods of agreement from the quintet of Lacerator captains with her.

"They are far too close to their empire proper. We will wait, bide our time until they are much further away, and then strike, while they are cut off from support and cannot escape."

The Lacerator captain nodded, satisfied with the answer.

"What do we know of the station's defences?" Now it was Py'thir, captain of the Envenomed Blade, the fleet's heavy phantom-lance armed attack cruiser that spoke up. He was lean and toned, his chiselled features crowned by short glossy dark hair. He was renowned for his dedication to the kabal and was lauded as a model member. Many kabalites aspired to his example. Leu'kyarrth had nothing but hatred and contempt for him.

"A prudent question," Leu'kyarrth shifted the image back, and as it shrunk and shifted into position a plethora of smaller shapes flashed into existence around it. "Long range sensors have so far identified two escorting craft of battleship displacement, likely carriers-"

"Battleship displacement you say?" The interruption came in the shrill, almost wailing voice of Vor'kapeth. She and her twin sister, Vor'parax, each captained one of the fleet's torpedo-armed attack cruisers, the Torn princess and Impaled Lover respectively. They were possessed of utter hatred for one another, and their bitter rivalry was legend amongst both the raiding fleet and the kabal. Both were merciless psychopaths, vicious murderesses who enjoyed and cared for little other than slaughter, bloodshed and wanton destruction. Physically they were almost identical, both lithe and of bone-white pale skin. Vor'parax, however, kept her hair cut short, just above her neckline, in spite of Vor'kapeth, who grew her hair out long to accentuate her feminine characteristics in the face of her name, considered a masculine one in Dark Eldar culture. Already Vor'kapeth's eyes twinkled maliciously at the thought of laying waste to an entire battleship.

"That is correct. The are likely carriers. Their destruction will be necessary. It should be noted that while the station itself is to be left as unscathed as possible, any ship of it's escorting fleet is fair game to engage and destroy at lesiure."

Vor'kapeth let out a slight giggle of unconstrained glee. "Excellent Leu'kyarrth, I look forward to the occasion with relish."

"I highly doubt you will get close enough to to either of them to pose a threat, dear sister," said Vor'parax, "They are carriers. Their attack wings will have your ship in tatters before you even enter battery range, knowing your simple headstrong approaches."

"When I come back with the severed heads of their captains," Vor'kapeth replied, "I will make you lap up the spilled blood from my boot."

Leu'kyarrth intervened. "Enough," he said, "time runs short and we must return to the matters at hand. In addition to the two battleship-sized vessels, long range sensors have identified numerous other ships of cruiser and escort mass. It is a sizeable fleet, and considerably outnumbers our own."

"Their numbers count for nothing," Said a captain of the fleet's Skewerer squadron, a long spear design tattooed up his arm, from which descended numerous drops of blood, each one representing a starship destroyed by his craft, "We've duelled with Tau ships before, they are slow and easy to dodge."

"Indeed," agreed a third Lacerator captain, "their fleet's strength has always been in long-range assets."

"And I have every confidence our fighters can keep them off our backs." added a captain from the fourth Lacerator squadron.

"What do we know of the station's propulsion?" Inquired a captain from the Piercer squadron assigned to the raiding fleet. Across his left cheek was a tattoo depicting a ragged puncture wound, while a tattoo of a long spike ran across his right. Leu'kyarrth was pleased at this. He had strong ties with the Piercers and knew he would be able to count on them, when the time came.

"An excellent question. The station's main long-range drive is apparently of alien construction, and is believed to have been fabricated by those known as 'Demiurg'. The fact that we have detected one of their ships within the region lends credence to this fact. We are currently in the process of extracting further information on it's design and control mechanisms from the Demiurg captives we have, and will update you all at a later date."

There was a general movement of nodding amongst the audience once more.

"Very well. Now then, I'm sure you all have duties to attend to. This meeting is declared adjourned. The ship will now rejoin the fleet, and you are expected to return to your posts until further notice. Dismissed."

As the assembly filed out of the viewing deck, Leu'kyarrth was very satisfied. He had a very clear idea of where the loyalties of those under his command lay, and he had a clear idea of who to first petition for support in his plan...
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#7 » Oct 19 2013 10:46

XII.


The half-light flickered, causing the already menacing shadows cast around her personal quarters to twist and shift around her as Seth'ia'vex sat at her workbench tending to her customised splinter pistols. A veteran of numerous street-fights and vicious skirmishes amongst the labyrinthine alleyways, avenues and spires of the Dark City, Seth'ia'vex always took time to ensure her weapons were as well-maintained as possible. After all, an enemy could strike at any moment, and a well-functioning weapon on hand could mean the difference between life and death. Focusing on such intricate and technical tasks also helped to take her mind off the scolding furious anger swirling within her. That insufferable bigotish fool! How dare Leu'kyarrth slander her intelligence gathering! How dare he present her the way he had! He spoke of precautions and assumptions, but who had discovered the cutter? Who had been entrusted by Merrighan herself to deliver the news of it's presence? And who sat idly by, while she laboured tirelessly, relentlessly, to fully ascertain and rectify this new development?

When the time came, she would ensure Leu'kyarrth's death was excruciating indeed, and she would savour the pleasure it would bring her. Even now, the thought of his agonised choking screams as he begged for mercy, his windpipe crushed, sent tingling shivers up her spine.

Of course, thinking about it further as she carefully examined and calibrated the splinter pistol's disintegration matrix emitter, she would have to time it just perfectly. Much like how the disintegration matrix needed to carefully carve and slice apart the splinter pistol's ammunition crystal into fragments in just the right sequence to allow them to fall into the cyclic ammunition feeder, Seth'ia'vex would need to carefully ensure Leu'kyarrth's downfall. Too soon, and the raiding fleet would be torn apart and paralysed by internal bickering over a replacement leader, and miss it's window of opportunity to capture the Tau fleet. Too late, and Merrighan herself would no doubt wish to personally deal in his demise.

The disintegration matrix checked, Seth'ia'vex moved on to the pistol's cyclic ammunition chamber and, after readjusting it and ensuring it was properly aligned, checked the magno-electric impulse generator and firing chamber. Pricking the impulse circuits with a long slender needle-like current probe found them to still be in proper working order and providing power effectively. The firing chamber, however, was starting to warp from the pressures and forces involved in firing, and would need replacing. Seth'ia'vex lamented that the firing chambers lasted so shortly, but then her splinter pistols had been modified to fire far faster and with much more force than a regular model, and so the firing chambers were exposed to forces they were not meant to endure, so damage was inevitable.

With a new firing chamber installed, the pistol's accelerator barrel was next. Alas, it too had begun to wear and would need replacing. The short lifespan of the accelerator barrels was also unfortunate, especially as the lengthened accelerator barrels of Seth'ia'vex's splinter pistols were custom-made and were consequently considerably expensive and difficult to supply. Nonetheless, she could live with this, fully understanding the increased stress was largely due to the enlarged ammunition shards fired. This had not been a feature of the original splinter pistols, which had been hand-crafted by the legendary Aer'kar'syth, who had been in his lifetime perhaps one of the greatest artificers and most technologically brilliant minds ever to grace Commorragh, and had been the genius behind much of the Bleeding Rose's more advanced and unusual equipment, until his death to ensure both the kabal's technological secrets and Aer'kar'syth's talents did not fall into the hands of rivals. Seth'ia'vex however had personally made the modification herself, after the pistol's original shards had failed to pierce the heavy armour of the kabalite shock troopers that had ambushed Seth'ia'vex's Executioner team during a botched operation against the Kabal of the Tearing Thorns. Ever since, her decision had been vindicated time and again.

Now that the basic systems had been seen to, Seth'ia'vex turned her attention to the advanced additions that had been made to the weapon. The first were the repeater mechanisms, which when activated tripled the pistol's rate of fire. While normally not used due to the excessive ammunition consumption and wear and tear they caused, this feature had nonetheless saved Seth'ia'vex's life on numerous occasions. The intricate mechanisms were truly a marvel of ingenuity that only a trueborn such as Aer'kar'syth could have created. Not like those animals on the Snared Heart. Halfborn scum. When Seth'ia'vex took control of the raiding fleet she would ensure they knew their place at the feet of proper Dark Eldar, as it rightfully should be. That such vermin were allowed to reach the sort of positions that should be appointed to genuine Eldar was perhaps the greatest monument to the tragic plight of her people. Perhaps one day the time would come that there would be no more need for Halfborn, and they would be culled from the Dark City by the rightious true Eldar. Seth'ia'vex looked forward to that day.

Then there were the advanced sights on each splinter pistol. Combined with the added range from the lengthened accelerator barrels, the scopes allowed Seth'ia'vex to snipe distant targets with extreme precision. She was famed for her marksmanship throughout the kabal, and notorious for being a peerless shot amongst it's enemies. This was perhaps most exemplified by the second preserved heart she wore around her neck, which had been taken from the commander of a force of the Mon'keigh's elite armoured soldiery, cut from his massive chest even as it's twin heart quivered in it's last beats after she had shot him straight through the eye from an ambush position. Each scope contained mundane features such as zooming ability, rangefinding, environmental compensation and alternate vision filters, as well as more advanced functions such as the remote othereye camera, which linked to a holographic display in Seth'ia'vex's tactical headpiece to allow her to see through the pistol-sights without looking through them, letting her shoot around corners or from behind cover with no loss in accuracy. Seth'ia'vex always enjoyed the scopes the most, taking endless amusement from tinkering with their various elements and settings, and ensuring they always worked to the peak of their capacity.

Last of all was the retractable monomolecular combat blade, one in each pistol. They were sheathed inside the pistol-grips when not in use, saving space and protecting them from the elements. When extended, each one would curl outwards from the grip in the opposite direction to the barrel. When flipped, this provided an effective melee weapon while simultaneously keeping the gun's barrel clear of objects that might damage or jam it and allowing both sides of the blade to be brought into use, in start contrast to older models of splinter pistol with built in combat blades, which would often run parallel to the barrel. The extension and retraction mechanisms were carefully calibrated to ensure that their deployment was completely silent, giving an unsuspecting enemy no warning of an imminent strike. Seth'ia'vex felt a deep connection with the blades. They had saved her life innumerable times, either through being the implement used to deliver death to an attacker or as a tool of survival during times when she was isolated from the kabal, trapped on her own. By doing this, they had looked after her for much of her life, and seth'ia'vex almost thought of them as the parents she had never known. A Daughter of blades, a splendid title indeed for a kabalite.

It's maintenance complete, Seth'ia'vex reassembled the splinter pistol. The moment she was finished, she swept up the pistol and, in the same fraction of a second, drew it onto the door behind her, and allowed herself a smile, satisfied with her reflexes. She then put the pistol to one side, close at hand, and began to work on the second one.

Leu'kyarrth would suffer in time.


XIII.


Sheathed and clad in the darkness of the war room on-board the Snared Heart, the two Dark Eldar stood ant observed, side by side. The lighting (if indeed it could be called that) had been switched off, so that the only illumination in the room came from it's centre. Ghostly fae-like light danced across the room and it's pair of occupants, radiating out from the war room's enormous holographic table projector, above which was suspended a large scale-image diagram of the Tau station, it's internal cross-section a culmination of all they had learnt from their captives. Alone with him, deep within the core of his starship, Sybael's heart was racing - it was the perfect place for a kill.

"According to the confessions, the primary docking centres are along here," Leu'kyarrth said, gesturing along the stem of the diagram, "And the station's main hanger bays are here and here. Do you see how the main decks and outer viewing portals run counter to them?"

"I do Leu'kyarrth. The station's gravity must be arranged stern to prow, rather than keel to topside. There must be a complex transit system to move goods and personnel from them. If we can cause enough damage to that system, we could cut them off from their escape craft, and trap the entire compliment on the station."

"I like it, Sybael." Sybael felt an involuntary quiver run through her as she heard him express his approval.

"Of course," Leu'kyarrth continued, "The challenge will be damaging the transit systems in the first place. Even if they weren't deep behind the station's outer plating, firing starship-scale weaponry at it would be unthinkable, there would be too much chance of destroying the station and causing unacceptable collateral damage amongst it's occupants. Merr - we want as many of them alive as possible."

"I concur. The transit system's destruction would need to be carried out internally, a task for boarding teams. The system itself will be a labyrinth however. I'd advise against choosing it as an insertion point. Another location will mean they'll face resistance getting to the system, and give the Tau a window to escape, but it'll mean we can fight with much better coherency. Perhaps the Heart Takers would be best to handle this task?"

"A cunning ploy. Assigning them this objective would waylay them from reaching more important areas of the vessel, while at the same time providing an excellent distraction for my - our main attack party as it makes its way to the bridge. They also have the numbers needed to maximise the chances of success."

Though she did not know at all why, Sybael took a strange enjoyment from hearing Leu'kyarrth speak. Most likely it stemmed from the thought that the more he spoke, the more information he disclosed, and information was power. Yes, that must be it.

"See here," Sybael said, pointing to a trio of slender protrusions from the forward surface of the station's dome-like front, "Those must be weapons, extremely heavy ones by their size."

"That would conform with what we have learnt about the station's defences. Most of its armament is concentrated on the front, between the energy core and the outer decks. Typical of these creatures, focusing all of their firepower towards the prow. If we attack from the station's flank, only a tiny portion of its firepower will be able to be brought to bear."

"True, Leu'kyarrth, but there is still its defending fleet."

"They will be easy enough to avoid and outmanoeuvre."

"Indeed. Do we know where the bridge is located yet?"

"Unfortunately not. We are still extracting that piece of information. So far we have ascertained that it is quite large however, with a great amount of vertical space. covering every entry point will be difficult, even if some of them are sealed."

"A task for the Scourges perhaps?"

"Possibly, but there will almost certainly not be enough room for them in the first or even second wave of assault boats. Even if we do commit them to support holding the bridge, they will be delayed considerably."

"How do they move between levels on the bridge?"

"According to the testimonies of the captives, there is a central platform that can move up and down the bridge. It is believed that it also contains many of the more important command elements."

"So we focus on taking the central platform, giving us a mobile defence position and simultaneously decapitating their control. It will also allow us to move between entry points, sealing any that are vulnerable and resealing any that have been broken through."

"Even then, it can't be anywhere at once." Leu'kyarrth thought hard for a few moments. "Hmm, I wonder, if we can deploy a webway portal on the central dais, and link it to the ship, it will allow for immediate re-enforcements once the bridge has been seized."

"Clever. What is known about the outer decks?"

"They are apparently the civilian sections of the vessel. The more military-oriented sections are further towards the centre."

"So we can focus our attacks on the more central areas, cripple their defence and keep the civilians trapped in the outer areas at the same time, and paralyse the entire station. Do we know anything about the station's interior layout?"

"Mostly narrow corridors by our estimate. It seems that the station's transit systems are not able to deliver passengers from one end of the main dome to the other in a single trip. Internal spaces will likely be extremely tight, with the defenders being forced to operate at short range. We'll have the advantage there, Tau firepower is optimised for stand-off encounters at extreme distances, and we'll have an easier time getting to melee. Even better, the station appears to be heavily regimented in its access. With a bit of fortune, they'll be divided, and we'll be able to slaughter their defenders one piece at a time."

Sybael bit her bottom lip in anticipation. There would be no escape for the occupants of the station. No line of retreat. And best of all, no time to react to an assault.

This would be a bloodbath.
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

User avatar
T113
Kroot'Ui
Kroot'Ui
Posts: 137

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#8 » Oct 20 2013 02:01

This is the first time I've ever read anything about the Dark Eldar, so not only is it am enjoyable read but it's also educational ... I think I've found my second army to collect (if I ever get round to finishing my kroots). They remind me a little of the cenobites from the hellraiser films
The Future is uncertain. To stagnate is to die!

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#9 » Nov 20 2013 05:01

T113 wrote:This is the first time I've ever read anything about the Dark Eldar, so not only is it am enjoyable read but it's also educational ... I think I've found my second army to collect (if I ever get round to finishing my kroots). They remind me a little of the cenobites from the hellraiser films


Glad to have inspired you. Funny you mention Hellraiser, as quickly looking through it on wikipedia the Cenobites do indeed seem very Dark Eldar-esque. The idea I work with for writing them is that they're basically an entire race/faction of horror villains, though whether or not that conveys across in it I'm not entirely sure. I also agree with Clive Barker's rationale- these things are a lot scarier when they're fully aware they're doing terrible things, and are deliberately doing them (as El'Mont'Yr'Ta muses).

Anyway, on with the show..

XIV.


Leu'kyarrth loomed in the shadows of his personal chamber, staring down at the grand, ornate table-board before him - his own private planning space. The chamber around it was a standard captain's accommodation for a cruiser size vessel, a sprawling pentagonal room with a rounded windowed ceiling. While normally hidden beneath protective shutters during combat, the ceiling was open to the void beyond, and starlight bounced from its intricate network of mirrored silver framework, arrayed in a shape somewhat between cascading lightning and a spider's web. This light lanced downwards in a twisted tangle of beams, but was currently the only source of illumination in the room, creating a honeycomb of silver light spires and pockets of total black shadow, an elegant dance of light and dark, a thoughtful parable, perhaps, of his kind's twisting path through brightness and shadow.

The room's walls, half-masked in the sporadic shadows of the room, arched upwards towards the ceiling, and were composed of dark jade and marble, laced with elaborate murals and etchings of acts of great slaughter and triumph, and great feats in the history of the Kabal of the Bleeding Rose. All about the room were lavishings of luxury. At the far end, to one side and on a raised planquin, was the low circular grandiose bed in whose porcelain sheets Leu'kyarrth rested, while in another corner was a stone counter and expansive crystal cabinet filled with myriad elixirs spirits and drinks from all corners of the galaxy and webway, kept refreshingly chilled at all times from the cabinet's internal cooling field. At another end a small fountain churned and flowed, it's waters kept confined at all times through an array of gravitic containment fields. Across the floor was a fine carpet, decorated in runes proclaiming Leu'kyarrth's power and glory, made from the entire flayed pelts of a herd of Jak'yrrathol Short Furred Behemoths, a species long since hunted to extinction by the Dark Eldar for such purposes.

The table before him was no less extravagant, an enormous slab of obsidian, bordered with a layer of ebony wood upon which was carved images of figures twisted in agony and death, each one an individual Leu'kyarrth had triumphed over, etched from sketches he himself had drawn using the photographic memory common to Eldar. The head of the table, however, was left completely smooth and blank, reserved for his greatest victory still to come. Upon the table's top was currently arrayed a series of models, scale replicas of the ships in his fleet and the Tau fleet before it. Each piece was carved from a single bone, in the case of the Dark Eldar ships from a Dark Eldar that had failed or attempted to cross Leu'kyarrth, and in the case of the Tau ships from a Tau captive that had expired. Leu'kyarrth had countless hundreds of such pieces, depicting everything from individuals to celestial bodies, and had more made whenever they were needed. He found them helpful visual aids when drawing up his plans.

A dire tune on a keyed instrument drifted through the room, and in this time of privacy, with no others to observe, Leu'kyarrth allowed himself a smile of nostalgic fondness, for the tune recalled his days as a trueborn youth, those far-flung nights of yore where under the dazzling lights of Upper Commorragh, he had learnt the subtleties of Kabalite politics in the balls and banquets alongside... her. Merrighan. Night after night in recent times his dreams had been haunted by her, just as thoughts of her constantly assailed him during the day. Even now he pictured her as she was when they had danced together so long ago, the wickedly mischievous gleam in her eye as she beckoned him onward, the curves in her athletic figure, the shimmer of the light as it graced her ebon silken tresses... Her beauty had not diminished in his eyes, which only made what must be done more of a pity. But of course doubt led to hesitation, which in turn led to weakness. There could be no hesitating when the time came. He would have to show no remorse as he broke her in, stripped her of her power and assumed his rightful place as Archon. It crossed his mind that it would be an idea to keep her afterwards, hemmed in, his personal pet, his trophy. A captive former Archon, not even Vect could boast such a prize!

"Hierarch!" Came the familiar voice of Leu'kyarrth's communications officer, snapping him back into the present, "We are picking up a transmission, originating from a nearby world. It's a Tau signal."

"Have you been able to decrypt it?"

"We did moments after first picking it up, the security coding on it was feeble at best."

"What is its content?"

"A message, I shall feed it to you now."

Intercepted Tau transmission wrote:The Resurgent Path is in impending danger. The Var sin’da have captured an ethereal and most likely are aware of the fleet’s disposition, location, and route. A Var sin’da attack is imminent. Proceed with extreme alert and caution.


A wave of panic gripped Leu'kyarrth momentarily, before he brutally fought it down and regained composure. "Has it reached the Tau fleet yet?"

"No Hierarch, it shouldn't do so for a few minutes."

"Scramble it, now."

"At once Hierarch. They will never know we are here."

"See that they don't." Leu'kyarrth closed the communications channel. Rage gripped his chest. First the Twisted Vine, and now the Tau were aware, just as he had suspected they would. He knew that allowing any number to stray from the fleet had been a mistake. When it was all over he would ensure those responsible were properly punished. "Visen'thyae, I will have your head for this.."

XV.


Nestled within the familiar embrace of his instrument-filled cockpit, lit only by the radial illumination of its myriad displays and readouts, Aer'y'ath, the finest attack craft pilot in the raiding fleet, gazed out at the endless glittering abyss of space that filled his vision and streamed past him as his Raptor fighter made its patrol around the fleet. Somewhere far, far away directly before him was the fleet's latest quarry, a Tau expedition, currently locked in battle with a small force of Mon'keigh pirates. The savages would likely not deter such a large force for long, and would certainly not threaten the expedition's main element, an enormous colonisation craft filled with innocent unsuspecting settlers, fruit ripe for the plucking.

With an effortless flick of his left thumb, Aer'y'ath brought the Raptor's main engines to full and fired the auxiliary thrusters, and the cosmos before him erupted into a dazzling kaleidoscope of lights as the craft accelerated forwards. The Dark Eldar grinned to himself as he let the intense sensation of velocity and accompanying surge of adrenaline rush over him, enjoying every nuance of the experience. Let those fools in the Reaver Circuits toy with their paltry jetfighters, he thought to himself. He knew the truth. This was true speed. With another casual flick of a digit he engaged the lateral manoeuvre thrusters, and his sleek coal black steed twisted in place as if on the point of knife, luminescent barbs of cold light scything out from elegantly concealed diagonally opposing ports on its flanks to bring the Raptor 90 degrees to its right. As it did so, the stars stretched into a haystack of needle-like lines of light, before reasserting themselves as familiar specks of white and pale yellow. Now however Aer'y'ath's right field of vision was filled with the enormous shapes of the raiding fleet, each of its ships an enormous floating mass of spires and lights, with gargantuan wings stretching out to either side, and in some cases far below as well. The vast segments of plating that normally concealed such intricate components of the ships' superstructures in combat were raised in idle positions, where they took the semblance of colossal sails leaping from the topsides of the ships, not dissimilar to the solar sails used by their foolish and misguided Eldar kin. Only the prows and their bridges, stationed at the very front tip of the ship, retained their plating, creating a rounded front that loomed forwards at contrast with the small city behind, hunched forwards like the head of a massive vulture.

He was crossing past the front of the Torn Princess, Vor'kapeth's ship. Aer'y'ath did his absolute best to keep the pitch-black light-studded leviathan out of his gaze, for the reputation of its murderous captain was infamous throughout the entire kabal and abroad, in fact it was said that a Kabalite admiral had once scuttled his own flagship rather than have it boarded by Vor'kapeth and her crew. Some said she drank only fresh blood, others said she bathed in it. Others still whispered she performed all manner of unwholesome acts within a pool of gore. Aer'y'ath did not know what to make of these rumours. He doubted they were true, though none had ever stayed in her personal chambers and left, so who could say. Even so, the other things he had heard, what happened to captives on it, the howling screams broadcast on its communications channels, what happened in the assembly chambers.. The fighter ace shivered. He was Trueborn, raised in the Dark City, and a seasoned veteran of innumerable raids, and he certainly had inflicted his share of cruelty torture and death, but that ship made even him uneasy.

Coming up below him was the sprawling form of the Envenomed Blade, the heavy phantom lance-armed cruiser attached to this raiding fleet. As he passed over it, its gargantuan shape stretched out below, almost forming the illusion that he was flying in atmosphere or over Commorragh itself, such was its immense size, looming beneath his belittled fighter craft like some vast and terrible creature of the depths, glimpsed in murky silhouette but never seen entirely, its implication yielding far more awe and dread than its true form ever could. The captain of the Envenomed Blade, one Py'thir, was an enigma. He was a capable enough commander, and his diligence and loyalty to Merrighan were both remarkable. Indeed, he was considered to be a model kabalite, an exemplar to strive to emulate, and had been assigned to Leu'kyarrth's fleet for this very reason. Aside from such surface details as these however, no-one inside or outside the kabal knew anything about him. Though he was clearly an adult and had clearly lived a decent life, no-one knew the deatails of it. Indeed, there seemed to be no trace of his origins to be found. Even how he rose through the kabal's hierarchy was largely unknown. Inevitably many speculated and gossiped about this, but the truth it seemed was known only to Py'thir himself.

Aer'y'ath began to think more about the Tau. He wondered what they might find when they finally struck at their fleet. He wondered what secrets the station at their heart might have, what hidden defences and stratagems it might possess. What ships guarded it? Tau ones for sure, and of the newer variety at that, but which vessels in particular? Any of fame or note? Perhaps he and the raiding fleet had encountered some of them in battle before, as they reaped their bounties of slaves and plunder in what the aliens called the Coreward March. Perhaps the fleet was entirely new, its crews only just starting to ply the stars, completely unaware of what lurked among them. And then which among their number might be leading the sojourn? What personalities major and minor were taking part in the venture? Perhaps there were, amongst the party's defenders, ace pilots of their own? How would they fare?

It mattered not though. Aer'y'ath was a top pilot in a force notoriously renowned the galaxy over for it's prowess in space combat. He had faced the Tau before in countless times and had never once been defeated by them. He had hunted down Mon'keigh Furies and Thunderhawks, strange craft of Chaos, unliving and yet sentient at once, and triumphed. He had even bested one of the Craftworlders' vaunted Crimson Hunters in a dogfight, whose soulstone even now adorned the cockpit of his Raptor as a trophy and charm of good fortune.

Aer'y'ath began to set course for home, the carrier he was stationed on, the Merciless Butcher. He wondered what his captain, Har'kir'syn, was currently occupied with doing..
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#10 » Dec 24 2013 06:00

Merry Christmas ATT!! Ideally you'll all be enjoying all your new presents and gorging on Christmas meals. On top of that, here is one of two Christmas gifts from me to everyone on the site: a new instalment in my Into Silence tale.

XVI.



The atmosphere of the room was filled with the sounds of trickling playful water from the three fountains in it, as well as the haunting harmonic melody sung by a quintet of slave-maidens, some Eldar, some mon-keigh. Leu'kyarrth noticed that they were all different to the ones that had been present the last time he was here. They must surely have been killed for missing notes. Leu'kyarrth knew that his host did not tolerate flaws in his music, especially when guests needed to be impressed.

"Are you enjoying the ambiance Hierarch?" Inquired Har'kir'syn, as he lazily reclined in a cushioned fainting couch the colours of velvet and gore, it's back crowned with an ornate work of ebon-steel, it's intricate patterns forming semblances of fierce beasts and visages and wickedly shaped blades. A slave, her delicate form barely obscured by scant copper garments, timidly fed him small baubles from a number of bowls to the side of the couch, filled with a plethora of exotic delicacies ranging from honeyed chocolatine treats whose recipes dated to before The Fall, to Merseannian nuts and fruits (both dried and fresh), to rich intoxicating sorbets, to shellfish and arthropods from the oceans of Pisceoq, and everything in between. Leu'kyarrth thought he could even smell mon-keigh flesh amongst the sweetmeats. Another two slaves, their hands sheathed in silken gloves, massaged Har'kir'syn's feet and shoulders. "I can have the accompaniment disposed of and replaced with a fresh set if you would prefer."

"There will be no need for that Har'kir'syn, the current tune is perfectly pleasant." Leu'kyarrth lied. It was not that he disliked the song, merely that he did not care much for it. And now was not the time for revelling in the agonised death of lesser creatures, there were equally important matters at hand.

Har'kir'syn's meeting forum, where the two Dark Eldar were currently seated, was much like the rest of his personal rooms. It was cavernous, easily able to engulf Leu'kyarrth's own personal chamber more than twice over, and was apparently one of Har'kir'syn's smaller abodes. Unlike other areas on a ship of the Bleeding Rose Kabal, which were usually illuminated by concealed half-lights or amplified starlight, The meeting forum was ringed with large iridescent plasma torches, whose flickering jets bathed the room in a sickly pale glow that twisted and writhed with nightmarish shadows that shifted and danced amongst the tortured light. The trio of fountains within the room each dwarfed the one in Leu'kyarrth's personal chamber, enormous water-sculptures intended to entertain and impress. Additional powerful containment fields had been added to them to safely confine the deadly radiation that coloured the waters fantastical shades of blue and violet, ensuring it caused no harm to those in the room. Leu'kyarrth also knew that the containment fields could be shut off if necessary, quickly delivering a most unpleasant death to unwelcome guests, enemy boarding parties or slaves if the desire arose. Also present throughout the room was a small portion of Har'kir'syn's famous statues, in the likeness of a variety of life-forms, each one capturing it's subject with uncanny perfection.

"I see you have added to your collection since my last visit." Said Leu'kyarrth. He was just starting to notice that many of these statues still had their original eyes, constantly shifting and wobbling in pain.

"Indeed I have. It is a remarkable process, really. The subjects are kept in the required pose with a paralysis agent delivered intravenously, preparing the canvas. Then they are tattooed with the appropriate runes of ownership and description, before being inoculated with the granophage virus, which then slowly converts them to stone, cell by cell. It begins on the surface with the skin of course, and works inwards, leaving the eyes and vital internal organs to be the last to be converted, while neural accelerator solutions ensure that the subject's sensitivity to pain is maximised, as is the torment they experience."

"Fascinating. It is a pity that they can only be seen, and not heard."

"Fear not Leu'kyarrth, sound-probes record every syllable and note of the screams, before storing it in a data-bank at the statue's base to be played back at leisure. But enough of this idle natter. You have not taken time to tour my ship and converse with me in person to discuss the technical facets of fine art, I am sure."

"Quite astute." A slave appeared behind Leu'kyarrth, preparing to perform a massage upon him, but a flash of his monomolecular combat-knife proved enough to deter her. Even without eye contact, the message was clear enough to the unfortunate girl.

"No doubt you are aware of the current speculations and plans for our strike on the Tau fleet," Leu'kyarrth continued, "However there still remains the important matter of what is to be done after we acquire the station for ourselves."

"Surely we shall simply haul it back with us to Commorragh, Hierarch? That is, after all, the actions we have been instructed to perform by Merrighan herself?"

"Not necessarily. You see, Har'kir'syn, it has come to my attention, in recent years, that Merrighan may... not be as fit to lead as first seemed apparent, and there are a number of others who share my sentiments," Leu'kyarrth had to fight not to tremble with excitement as he dared to use her name, "And so I have come to the conclusion that another must assume the mantle of Archon. As such upon our victory I intend to abscond with the station, her prize, and use it as a bargaining chip to secure my position of supreme leadership, a notion which already has the support of numerous others. I therefore have come to meet with you to personally request your assistance in this venture. You yourself have proven a capable commander, and your pilots are second to none in skill and daring, and so your support would be both greatly welcomed and rewarded."

"Ahh hah!" Har'kir'syn exlaimed, "So the Shadow Viper shows it's fangs. You seek to use this current mission as an opportunity to seize power for yourself eh? I admit Leu'kyarrth, I approve of your elan. It is a rare individual indeed with the fortitude to defy Merrighan.. and her.. watchdog."

"So I can count on your assistance then?"

"Ahh, not so hasty Hierarch. You see, though such an individual is rare, they are not unique. I must inform you that I shall not support you in your little power-play, for you see I do not believe that you would be a suitable replacement for her. A true Archon needs not only to be a capable leader, but also finely honed in the social arts and duties. They need a true taste and appreciation of culture, the arts, and the finer things the universe can offer. For it is they that separates our kind from the lesser species that infest the stars."

"And you believe this mystery leader is among us?"

"But of course Hierarch. You address him even now, for you see, it is I who rightfully seeks to become Archon. I who shall be leader."

"Have you any support in this thesis?"

"I have my followers, and more importantly I have my ship. It and it's attack craft can stand up to a flotilla many times it's number, and indeed has done so before, and as you say, my pilots are second to none. Yess, I shall assume the coveted mantle of leader for this Kabal, not you or Merrighan or her demented lapdog Seth'ia'vex. No, it shall be I that rules the Kabal of the Bleeding Rose. Yes, Archon Har'kir'syn, I like the sound of that. My line and house shall be long and prosperous indeed, and I shall enjoy and.. savour, all of the comforts it brings, with grand magnificent palaces, towering monuments to my glory, extravagant feasts fit for a leader of true significance, and of course... nubile young maidens. Oh yes."

"I see then that you are indeed to be reckoned with. I suppose you intend to make your move soon?"

"I must admit Leu'kyarrth, that the particulars as to when to strike have thus far eluded me. But you have provided as good an opportunity as ever. Ergo, I shall lend assistance when you make your move, in exchange for something of sufficient value."

"Name your price."

Har'kir'syn's face lit up at the request, "A night with your fighting wench."

"My who?" said Leu'kyarrth, puzzled at this answer.

"Your combat wench of course. Surely you know of whom I speak. That tall crimson-haired Amazon you converse with. The Succubus."

"Sybael?"

"Yes, that one, though her name is not of importance to me. Send her to my ship for 24 hours, dispatch her to my.. personal quarters for me to entertain, and I shall gladly lend my ship and pilots to your cause, for a while."

"The Cult of Tears is an independent organisation, like all Wych Cults. I have no authority over her. What makes you think she will comply?"

"You covet my assistance in your little coup, and I covet her. I am sure you will find a way to get her aboard. Then she will be brought to me one way or another, and she will be mine to.. entertain."

Leu'kyarrth twitched at this thought, involuntary, but minutely enough that his host did not seem to notice. Without speaking, he rose from his seat, and strode over to Har'kir'syn.

And then, faster than a human eye could accurately track, he drove his armoured thumbs into the captain's eyes.

Har'kir'syn screeched in pain, and struggled to resist, but it was of no use. Leu'kyarrth twisted his thumbs around in Har'kir'syn's eye sockets, taking a sense of poetic satisfaction in the wet squelches the movement made, before lifting him up out of his reclined position and bringing his head to chin-level. "Listen to me, if you can," Leu'kyarrth said, "Sybael, and her name is of even greater importance than yours, is a high Succubus of the Cult of Tears, a powerful Wych Cult affiliated with our own Kabal. As such she has the same status and ranking as an Archon, and is to be treated as such. I do not think she would be very impressed with some pathetic attempt to court her by a sad, depraved excuse for a starship captain such as yourself with extreme delusions of grandeur. Furthermore, as a seasoned, hardened veteran of both innumerable combats and duels in the arena, I expect such infantile attempts to woo her would result in the merciless and violent death of a valued carrier commander, making such a notion idiotic in the extreme, and I tolerate neither incompetence nor foolishness in my fleet. Is that understood."

Not having any real desire for an answer, Leu'kyarrth withdrew his thumbs and let Har'kir'syn collapse onto the floor, clutching his face as streams of jelly and fluid, stained the colour of roses by blood, wept down from his now largely empty eye-sockets. The captain howled and cursed as Leu'kyarrth left, the slaves in the room gathering around the stricken captain in shock and confusion, not quite sure how to act and far too afraid to guess.

Sybael would not be amused in the slightest by this, thought Leu'kyarrth as he exited the meeting forum. He would have to find carrier support elsewhere for his gambit.

XVII.


No path in Commorragh is easy or without pain.

Sybael sat in her chamber, erect and tense with burning, stinging torment as she fought against her nerves and muscles as they contracted and twisted in the midst of this latest wave of torturous pain brought on by combat-drug withdrawal. Normally this had no effect on her, but every so often the chemical vacuum it left threw her body into chaos, and this time was particularly bad. Fluids wept from the holes in her skin left by the intravenous delivery systems.

Her room was large and domed. It was her usual accommodation when stationed aboard the Snared Heart, and she had come to be very familiar with it. She recognised at once how it's cold hard floor felt against her feet, how it influenced her step. She knew all the right locations on the walls to spring upon to vault her to the other side of the room. At it's centre was a sand-filled arena, the installation of which she had requested, so that she might better be able to enjoy the thrill of the fight against an opponent. She loathed Leu'kyarrth's restrictions on the deaths of slaves and captives, as well as his decree that there were to be no gladiator duels without his express permission. While they did preserve the lives of her colleagues and ensure the limited supply of slaves and captives the raiding fleet had lasted them the entire time, it deprived her of real opponents to clash with. Though she continued her practice of battling imaginary foes, she pined for actual combat, for the surprises and twists and turns as the adversary made unexpected moves, for the satisfaction of dodging or countering them, for the adoring cheer of the audience, for the gentle, tickling, refreshing caress of blood on her form, still hot from the opponent's body, for the intense rush of the kill. Their absence was almost as unbearable as the raging maelstrom of agony that engulfed her.

Opposite to where she was stood a large circular target, filled with notches and gashes from where Sybael practised with her throwing knives. The Cult of Tears was renowned by those who knew of it for the skill it's fighters had with throwing weapons, and Sybael completely eschewed the use of a splinter pistol as a backup weapon in favour of a supply of small throwing knives and larger throwing dirks. Both had monomolecular blades, and Sybael was skilled enough that she could land them through even the narrowest gaps in an enemy's armour. One even now stood in the target, the last she had thrown before needing to sit down, the point of it's blade lodged mere millimetres from the target's centre point, where the onset of withdrawal symptoms had swayed her hand at the last minute. She cursed herself for so easily failing - an adversary in the arena would not be forgiving of such a mistake.

She grimaced and winced as the pain continued to scourge through her. It was as if some pair of great flame-wreathed dragons were battling inside her, leaving her in ashen ruins. At other times it seemed like her body was trying to wrest free of her control, to seize power for itself. She fought the pain at every step with all the ferocity that she unleashed against any adversary. It helped to know that it would all be for the best, for in the end she would be all the more potent if she could maintain the same level of skilfully inflicted death without the use of combat drugs she would be all the more impressive. Sometimes one had to de-construct before they could rebuild and improve.

Sybael thought back to why she was purifying herself like this, why she was giving up combat drugs. To get the better of her. Of that wretched urchin Lelith. Even after all these centuries she could still remember the first time she laid eyes upon her in the coliseum of the Cult of Tears. She had been waiting in anticipation as the Succubus of the time finished her current duel, for then it would be Sybael's time to match blades against her, and Sybael had been certain she could, nay, would be victorious. It would be a phenomenal triumph, for such a rapid shift in rank, from simple Wych straight to Succubus, was all but unheard of, and would have catapulted her onto the road to fame and glory.

But then the maroon-haired tralk had pranced into the arena, completely unannounced, and the crowd had gone wild at the site of her, tumbling end over end into lust for this interloper. And then she had duelled with the Succubus and bled her white before Sybael's eyes, and robbed her of her rightful kill. And in a completely inappropriate display too, with just a single flimsy piece of metal, hardly a fitting end for a master Wych of the Cult of Tears. Ever since then, Sybael had dreamt and prepared for the day when she would face that flower in combat and slay her before all those weak-willed Kabalites she had in the back of her non-existent pocket. Then the rightful order would be restored, and she would have the admiration she rightfully deserved. But part of Lelith's act, and a famed part at that, was the disuse of combat drugs. Indeed, the entire Cult of Strife was well known for not using them. So to inflict a meaningful defeat on them, Sybael would have to not use combat drugs either. No matter how much pain it caused her in the present, the pleasure of holding up Lelith's head by her ruddy tresses for all to see would be more than worth it in the end.

And yet there was another thought that bizarrely brought her some strange sort of comfort. It wormed it's way into her mind often, no matter what she happened to be doing at the time, completely uninvited yet oddly welcome. It was Leu'kyarrth. It was his tall reassuring form. His rich black-gold hair that curtained his face perfectly. Perhaps when the day finally came to face Lelith she would do so with his partonage, and claim his hand at the end of it. Perhaps he could go on to be her personal sponsor. Perhaps they would go on to fight together, side by side, in countless future raids. Or perhaps she would kill him. Though it had been a constant goal for much of her memory, Sybael admitted to herself that she would be just as happy to fight Leu'kyarrth in place of Lelith. The thought of him screaming as his insides exploded, releasing hot blood over her, filled her with glee.

Sybael groaned as another wave of torturous sensations assaulted her. No path in Commorragh was easy or without pain.
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#11 » Jun 07 2014 07:38

Well then, it's certainly been a while.

Readers of this and the other Into Silence will have probably noticed a rather lengthy hiatus that's only just now starting to end. This has been the result of a few unforseen setbacks in real life that somewhat put the story on hold, and we've been spending the last few months re-grouping and re-organising. That's largely finished now though, so round 2 of the Into Silence saga should be starting again in ernest very soon.

So, on with the show.

XVIII.


Malignant amethyst light consumed her front as Seth'ia'vex sat in front of the holographic monitor in her personal quarters. It was extremely late by the standards of her ship's internal chrono-cycle, but stimulant elixirs kept her as sharp as she was when she first awoke... for now at least.

Dancing and ordering upon the monitor before her was an endless stream of information; field reports, updates and surveillance feeds from the FunnelWeb, foreign data mines detected on the FunnelWeb, intelligence reports, archive material, personality dossiers and much more were displayed at her fingertips. For quite some time now she had been sifting through it, piecing together signs and clues, and now it seemed she was nearing the end of her search. It seemed as though the Twisted Vine was beginning to diminish in influence - according to sources their latest grand social gathering had had the lowest turnout in centuries. Clearly the memory of the Night of Falling Stars still lived on in the memory of the Kabals and the reminders of the power of the Bleeding Rose's armada were working. This could mean that the Twisted Vine's pursuit of her -Leu'kyarrth's- fleet and their prey was a desperate gambit, and indeed the single ship they had seemed to send lent credence to this theory. However if there was one thing to be certain with the Twisted Vine, it was that things were rarely as they appeared with them, and Seth'ia'vex was still not ruling out the possibility that more forces had been dispatched in secret, hidden from view. Being the masters of deception they were, there may be no telling just how many assets the Twisted Vine had committed to this venture.

But that was not Seth'ia'vex's main point of inquiry at the moment. As she collated more information, and pieced more and more of the picture together, she had begun to focus less on what the Twisted Vine's force was, and more on who was leading it. She had combed through the general access archives and known adversary files already and found little of use, and so she had turned her attention to other areas of the Twisted Vine mystery. But the thought of the operatives, those two names, persisted, gnawing at her focus like a splinter in her mind. Vak'sanithar... Gel'thran'vex.. Seth'ia'vex was certain now that she had heard them before somewhere, but still could not recall when or in what context. Still, there was still one source of information left unturned. The Heart Taker archives, their access restricted to Heart Taker captains only. Seth'ia'vex would have turned to them sooner, but solid information about the disposition and agenda of the Twisted Vine's forces had been deemed more important by Leu'kyarrth. In that directive the arrogant fool had shown just how inept he truly was, for any seasoned operative in the Dark City knew that who you were up against could be just as crucial to know as what you were up against. Were Seth'ia'vex in command of this misbegotten fleet, she would never have made such a grievous error in judgement. All in good time though...

Deeming that she had for now reached the end of the trail regarding the material strength of the Twisted Vine's hounds, the Heart Taker decided it was time to return to pursuing the intelligence on her terms. She brought up a new display tab, and accessed the Heart Taker archives, inputting her authorisation code when prompted to. Once it was accepted, she was confronted with the ident confirmation test. While their psychic potential had atrophied over the generations to become a mere shadow of what it once was, and vastly inferior to that of their Craftworld cousins, most Dark Eldar still retained enough of it to make use of rudimentary psychic technology, and so the ident password before her now was keyed to her unique psychic imprint. To anyone without this imprint, without her soul, the words in the test would shift and change to the point of total illegibility, ensuring that no impostor could use a stolen authorisation code to gain access to the Heart Taker archives and the secrets they contained.

Even as the ident confirmation test registered success and the Heart Taker archive main page loaded, Seth'ia'vex was already entering in the keywords of her search. Within moments of entering them into the database she was presented with the files and dossiers of the two mysterious operatives, and as she was confronted with their pictures, her memories flew back to her.

It was little wonder that the two names had sounded familiar to her, for she had indeed known well of Vak'sanithar and Gel'thran'vex, the two deadliest and most successful agents in the Twisted Vine's arsenal of intrigue and subterfuge. As she studied the images of them, her white hot hatred of the two came bubbling back up to her, for they represented and stood for everything she despised about the half-born vermin, Vak'sanithar for his misplaced sense of worth and wretched ambition, mistakenly thinking that he could rise to a position of power someday. It was a fallacy though - the half-born were tools to be used and disposed of, and nothing more, and that was the truth. Gel'thran'vex, however.. of the two he was easily the one she loathed more. He blindly followed his foolish 'brother', if indeed those born from gestation pods could even have siblings, like a silly lapdog, but most of all he was the living embodiment of what Seth'ia'vex considered the worst of the low-born masses - a crude, simple, thuggish brute, valuing only size and strength and completely lacking in any form of subtlety or sophistication, exactly like those rowdy delinquent cockroaches that had sought to single her out and make an example on her for her size during her youth, though she had ensured that they had never lived long enough to learn of their mistake in underestimating her. Indeed, for all their miserable weaknesses, and they were legion, they had if nothing else succeeded in crafting her into who she was today, as their constant bullying had forced her to become vicious and cunning, and taught her how to use her wits, agility and skill to her advantage to make her small size count for no disadvantage, and to triumph against far larger and more formidable opponents. It was only fitting, she thought, that this was so, for even dirty earth could yield magnificent precious stones, and crude tools could be used, with time and patience, to forge the keenest of blades.

The Heart Taker recalled meeting the two rats on numerous occasions, most of them in battle. Many times had they clashed in skirmishes within the depths of the Dark City, yet every time one of the two parties had always managed to escape so that their feud continued. Once after having massacred the infiltration team they had commanded, Seth'ia'vex had slit the throat of one and eviscerated the other, only to discover that the two bodies she had just killed were merely meticulously crafted gene-replicants, and that the real Vak'sanithar and Gel'thran'vex were nowhere to be found. She did remember, however, one occasion where she had met them with a glass of drink in her hand and not a splinter pistol. It was when the Bleeding Rose and Twisted Vine had met for the first time, and were not yet at each other's throat. The Twisted Vine had come to the Bleeding Rose to negotiate a business pact.

Though their ground armies were meager, the Bleeding Rose Kabal's space armada was mighty, with a vast array of state-of-the-art warships each commanded by well-trained, highly skilled and battle-hardened crews, and was renowned by all as one of the most powerful in all of Commorragh (in fact some argued it was the most powerful of all). Because of this it had never been uncommon for the Kabal of the Bleeding Rose to undertake mercenary work for other parties in Commorragh, providing air and space superiority for a kabal or coven or wych cult on the ground and denying the enemy aerial support and re-enforcements... for a price of course. It was for this task that the Twisted Vine had petitioned them, and at first things seemed to be going smoothly, with the Twisted Vine delegation being highly impressed by the reception put on for them, orchestrated by Har'kir'syn. Alas, however, the repeated mispronunciation of the name of the Kabal of the Bleeding Rose by those of the Twisted Vine had insulted and enraged Merrighan no end, for the Dread Archon was famous for taking names and treating them with proper respect very seriously.

As such, the Twisted Vine was sent away empty-handed, but in her fury Merrighan was to orchestrate a grand revenge. Knowing from the talks the target of the Twisted Vine's raid, a world populated by the Mon'keigh, a small force of Heart Takers had made planetfall and began to terrorize the population, causing just enough havoc to alert the Mon'keigh leadership and suggest that a sizeable force was starting to attack, before quickly ex-filtrating the planet and returning to the Bleeding Rose. When the Twisted Vine's forces launched their raid, they found a potent force of Mon'keigh waiting for them, supported by a host of warships in orbit, and so the Twisted Vine was forced to withdraw with heavy losses and no meaningful bounty of slaves or plunder to speak of. Then, to add insult to injury, the Bleeding Rose armada had launched a string of raids on the Mon'keigh shipping that had been left undefended and vulnerable by the military buildup, and reaped a handsome amount of slaves and spoils to be brought back to Commorragh, more in fact than the Twisted Vine had aimed to get on their planetary raid. Thus was born the vendetta between the two kabals.

Seth'ia'vex recalled that fateful night. She remembered the Twisted Vine envoys, the obscene flirtatious gestures and remarks some of them had made to her. She remembered the audacity Vak'sanithar and Gel'thran'vex had had to dare try and converse with her, their better. She had been sure to show them, and especially Gel'thran'vex, their place. Knowing their value and skill it was likely that Kel'sparin, the leader of the Twisted Vine, had sent them personally to follow and spy upon the Bleeding Rose raiding fleet. Perhaps they had taken to the mission with glee at the thought of shadowing her. But their motives were of little significance. In time the Bleeding Rose would crush them and their insufferable kabal. Even as the Twisted Vine waned in influence the Bleeding Rose grew in power. The region around the eastern gap, or the Damocles Gulf as it was known to the younger races, that border between the Mon'keigh and the Children of the East, the Tau, which had long been dismissed by other kabals as trivial, had been made into one of the Bleeding Rose's favourite hunting grounds, and the recent ever-escalating conflict between the two races was making it into a truly lucrative seam, proving the wisdom of the Bleeding Rose. Even now the spoils of their ever-increasing raids in the region were pouring into the Dark City, and the kabal's wealth and profits were swelling, as was their reputation. This raid, the capture of the vast Tau colony craft, was to be the crown jewel of their victories, proving once and for all their place amongst the great kabals of Commorragh.

But first, she would have to uncover the Twisted Vine's ploys...

XIX.


Shas'el'Kel'shan'Mont'yr'Ta groggily opened his eyes. He had tried to get some sleep, but sleep seemed to be increasingly elusive where he was. Now whenever he came to some distant semblance of slumber, his mind was ravaged by terrible nightmares, formed in equal measure by the horrific torment his captors inflicted on him and the dark memories, long buried in his mind, that had been wrenched up to the surface by the infernal gauntlet his interrogator wore. Even then, most of his latest attempts at rest were thwarted by the ever vigilant twinkling points of light in the darkness at the other side of his cell, the constant noises, and the ever present feeling that he was being watched. The Shas'el supposed it was only fitting in a way that this was the case, for if there was ever a place where dreams came to die, this would surely be it.

By now the Tau was almost completely without bearing. One by one the things he had recognised and taken for granted had been peeled away. Even his sleep was being eroded. The messages and illustrations on the wall he propped up against had begun to have their meaning rotted away from under them, blurring together into one long strain of pain and despair. The only two things that the Firewarrior Commander could still use as points of reference were the times when he was taken out for interrogation - or was it just simple sadistic torture now? He had begun to forget exactly what was said to him in the sessions, if anything was said at all - and when what passed for meals were given to him. Even the memory of his cherished Sio'Ta had forsaken him, and now when she appeared at all to him, it was little more than as a defiled, bloody corpse, or a phantom form that did nothing but emit a blood-curdling scream to him.

The Tau still remembered - or at least, he thought he still remembered - a time and a life from before he was here, in this dismal little cell. It was when he was part of something he thought was called the Tau Empire, a wondrous place of progress and prosperity, where all were free and everyone worked together for something - what was it? - that's right, the Tau'va. El'Mont'yr'Ta tried to remember exactly what the Tau'va was, but it's meaning blurred and escaped him. Something about belonging? Some sort of common goal? But what was it towards? It occurred to him that he might have, at some distant point, been important. Thoughts of battle and war floated about in his crumbling mind, of strategy and command. But that all seemed distant to him now, as if it were some pleasant dream he made up. Command... perhaps he had been a military leader?

And as soon as that thought entered his head, it seemed as though a light had come on or a veil had been lifted. The thoughts of strategy and warfare plugged into each other and meshed like gears in a machine. His identity came flooding back to him. He was Shas'el'Kel'shan'Mont'yr'Ta, Firewarrior commander, victor in dozens of campaigns, the liberator of Da'Eio'kio and the hero of Korst'la'shi. He had led his elite hunter cadre in the name of the Tau'va, the Greater Good, against the greatest horrors the galaxy could throw at them, and survived. No, more than that, they had conquered. And if he could triumph against them, he could prevail here. However small it was, he still had an inner spark in him. And a spark was all it took to start a fire.

But then he also realised just what had happened to him. That just moments ago he had almost completely forgotten who he was. The Tau realised just how close this place, and these beings, were pushing him to the edge of total madness. It crossed his mind that this may be the first of many such instances. His captors may very well end up reducing him to a broken empty shell. Still, there may just be a silver lining to that. If they did succeed in doing so, his identity and mind would be lost, and, as his experience had just proven, so would his memories. And if they were gone, his knowledge of the Path Resurgence and its secrets would be gone forever with them, never to be unlocked by the fiends that kept him prisoner. In an odd twist of fate, it may turn out that his captor's torments would end up working too well.

The small hatch through which meals were brought into the cell opened, and a paltry platter of morsels slid through it. Mont'yr'Ta got up as best he could and went over to collect it. He did not trust what passed for meals given to him one bit, and they were hardly fine cooking, but he would need his strength if he was to somehow get out of this place. And at any rate, they monitored his health, and if they found his consumption to be lacking then they pumped nutrients into him intravenously during the sessions, making deliberate starvation impossible. Still, in recent times for some unfathomable reason the quality of the food he was given had increased. It had in recent times consisted of some new strange form of meat, a food type not completely inedible to a Fire Caste member. It was served... if not hot then at least lukewarm, and was... if not fresh then at least not completely stale. It had a strange texture and flavour however, one that Mont'yr'Ta could not recognise. It was like nothing else he had ever eaten before, but then again he had never had to stomach anything like what was given to him to consume in this place, but at the same time there was something about it that was oddly familiar...

Just then the half-light in the corridor outside the cell flickered, and in the brief few seconds it was brighter, the cell was illuminated just enough for Mont'yr'Ta to get a better glimpse of what the meal was. And as he did so his insides churned and twisted in horror. He saw the strange meat, and even though it had been cooked to some degree he saw it's tell-tale colour of grey, and the pale blue traces of juice still clinging to some morsels. And he instantly knew what it was.

It was flesh from another Tau.

For however long he had been given this new dish, he was being fed the remains of other Tau. His own comrades and brothers and sisters.

The Shas'el recoiled instantly from the plate, and scurried over to a corner of the cell, as far away from the meal as he could get. He curled up, turned away from it, and closed his eyes as tight as he could, using what strength he still had to try and fight the sickening feeling welling up inside him.
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#12 » Jun 23 2014 04:41

XX.


Pain, glorious pain.

Visen'thyae almost quivered with boundless joy as he relished the excruciated screams and howls that filled his primary laboratory chamber, a caramelised chorus of exquisite agony, tantalising torment, scrumptious suffering and delectable despair. Blue and red half-light danced and played throughout the camber, creating a wonderful display of colour interplay to the eyes, and a most fitting visual accompaniment to the symphony - red for the blood that trickled like honey, blue for the sorrow that permeated the air. All throughout the room bodies were strewn, a few dead, but the majority still alive, and all from a plethora of different species from all across the galaxy. Many were Mon'kiegh, many belonged to the Children of the East, the Tau, and many belonged to their avian and insectoid allies. Others were green-hued Orkoid, and these Visen'thyae demanded receive extra torture for having the audacity to clash with the chamber's decorations. One was a Nicassar, who's psychic wails echoed in Visen'thyae's head, a marvellous section of the orchestra. Everywhere the Haemonculous's vision danced to he was embraced with sights of countless specimens, clamped down or otherwise restrained for him to develop them at his leisure, heavenly sweet treats in his very own candy store, his home away from home. Of course, an extended venture like this, with so little slave-taking, had meant the raiding fleet's supply of victims was limited, and had to be carefully controlled and rationed. This in turn meant that those esteemed guests currently serenading him in the laboratory chamber were being treated and operated on at a snail's crawl, far more slowly than usual.... but then that only made their pain even greater and more prolonged.

High above towards the top of the laboratory chamber, a maniple of spider-like Mechanist Probes, robotic assistants to the Haemonculi of The Enlightened, weaved around amongst the captives, the many long slender arms that emerged from beneath their rounded cores moving as quicksilver to properly conduct the performance, bringing some screams to a blistering crescendo or adding a delicate sketch of blood to the ambience. At other times they simply worked to fulfil Visen'thaye's grand designs. The Haemonculus was often weary about making use of the Mechanist Probes, for after all no machine could truly capture the spark of proper artistic talent and use it to craft a masterpiece, but he nonetheless conceded that he could not be everywhere at once and that even Wracks wore out and needed rest at times. Perhaps one day he would eliminate that design flaw of them...

At the forefront of the chamber stood the large crystal casket-like stasis chamber that contained the captured leader of the Tau, or what remained of it at least - the concoction he had been injected with had warped and distorted the leader-lord's physical form considerably before the Haemonculous had graciously ended the misery. Nonetheless the creature's body was still more or less intact, if rather twisted, and the neural concentrations still remained largely functional, or at least they would if they still transmitted impulses, for the creature had been preserved just as it's final dying breath had escaped it's ruined lungs. Visen'thyae had intended to keep the preserved body of the leader-lord and take it back with him to the main fortress of The Enlightened for further study and research. Now that he had witnessed the unwavering devotion these creatures had towards their leaders, the possibilities were endless. Perhaps a form of Grotesque could be bred from them that the Tau would not be able to bear killing. Or perhaps some new form of creation could be formed from their genetic canvas with their talent for control, some form of 'puppet master' that could be used to command them! Even if those bickering fools that called themselves his colleagues would not understand the grand scope of his work and allow him to pursue it, the body might still prove useful in other ways.

But now his mind was wandering, and Visen'thyae had work to do. He moved towards the centrepiece of the room, an array of colossal specimen tables upon each of which was a hulking, vaguely humanoid mass of writhing and convulsing flesh, the latest works in progress of the Haemonculus. As he neared his still-growing children, Visen'thyae took out his recording instrument and began to note down his observations.

"Production log, Grotesque brood, 14 standard revolution cycles into treatment process. Accelerated growth elixirs, stimulants and macrosteroids are thus far holding true and performing flawlessly. Subject transformation and growth is currently being maintained at record levels of speed. At present rate, they should be reaching full maturity within a matter of weeks."

The Haemonculus looked down at the trio. "All three subjects have swelled to immense proportions, as standard with the transformation process. Muscular and bone growth is largely chaotic and unrefined, with bulges and knobs of growth protruding and bulging all across each body, straining against the skin. In some areas the outer skin is visibly pale with stress."

He walked around the tables and cast a cursory glance at the display readouts at their heads. "Pain response within acceptable quantities, though still regrettably reduced amongst subjects 2 and 3. It has however somewhat increased since last entry in these two cases. Clearly increased allotment of neural sensitivity stimulants is having some effect. It would be prudent to develop more specialised versions to optimise the pain response for future use. I wonder if introducing an agony serum into their feeds may yield more satisfactory results."

Visen'thaye went back to examining the bodies. "Significant lesions and ulcerous sores present across the entirety of the outer skin on each subject. A large number are weeping varied forms of fluid. Will take samples for further study. Basic anatomical integrity is however largely stable - so far the flesh has yet to tear itself apart as happened with the previous test subjects. It seems I am coming close to perfecting this accelerated procedure."

He turned to the one on his left. "Subject 1, designation Mother. Based from a Mon'keigh female. Feminine characteristics now heavily distorted, though still noticeable. Voice has dropped three octaves since last entry. Looking at the latest readouts, chemical analysis indicates that the subject's native hormones are interacting with the growth elixirs to trigger the synthesis of additional nutrients within the subject's bloodstream. I must make a point to study this further for possible applications."

The Haemonculus then moved to the next form. "Subject 2, designation Father. Based from biologically enhanced Mon'keigh soldier. Epidermic damage is most extensive on this subject, with it's own innate physiological enhancements and defences fighting and resisting the treatments at every step. This has resulted in extensive necrotic tumours and sceptic cysts forming on and in the subject's skin. Preliminary testing is showing it to possess superior reflexes and sensory perception to an ordinary Grotesque, even at this stage. Potential candidate for advancement to Aberration status. Subject's intense neural conditioning is also dampening pain response, which is most displeasing. I wonder if it may be possible to unlock the processes behind the creation of these enhanced warriors, and replicate it on Mon'keigh prisoners with modifications to produce superior Grotesque stock with acceptable pain responses. Such an achievement would truly be a breakthrough."

Finally Visen'thyae examined the right-most heap of twisted flesh and bone. "Subject 3, designation Child. Based from main line infantry warrior of Orkoid genus. Epidermal damage is less than subject 2, however sanguinary damage is far greater than either of the other two subjects, with the treatments reacting highly adversely to the symbiotic fungal strain present within the creature's bloodstream. Wide-scale internal blood clots, haemorrhaging and ruptures of capillaries and veins has ensued, however the subject's base physiology is proving remarkably resilient. Subject is once again much less sensitive to pain, making for a rather more dull transformational process. Subject's neural system appears to be extremely simple however, even by the primitive standards of the younger races, which should make the final stage cortex lobotomy much easier and more straightforward."

"In conclusion," Visen'thyae said, "subjects are all continuing to develop at an accelerated pace without complication, and will be ready for the next stages of flesh sculpting and enhancement implantation within the next few revolutionary cycles. End log entry."

They Haemonculus put away the recording instrument, and breathed in one long take of the exquisite agony that permeated every part of the laboratory chamber.

So much pain, so much glorious pain!

XXI.


Chimes and beeping filled the air of the bridge around him as Leu'kyarrth starred contemptuously at the central display, watching the electronic actors on it play out the battle unfolding between the Mon'keigh barbarians and the Tau, his quarry. Even as the two packs of children squabbled and bickered amongst each other, billions of miles away his fleet lurked in the inky darkness of the void, poised to strike like great and terrible vultures. It had been extremely hard to resist the temptation to snatch away the long-range exploratory vessel the Tau had sent ahead, alone and vulnerable, before it ever reached the expeditionary fleet, but Leu'kyarrth had suppressed his predatory desires, knowing that a pre-emptive attack on the scout ship would likely alert the Tau to his presence. As always in this venture, patience would be key, and the first blow must be carefully placed with perfect timing. He would have a much greater chance of success with the element of surprise.

It troubled the Dark Eldar then that surprise may prove fleeting. Already the Children of the East had gained knowledge of an attack on them, tipped off by Visen'thyae's recklessness. The raiding fleet was more than capable of scrambling or blocking transmissions to the Tau station if needbe, but they would not be able to intercept physical messengers without discarding their cover. It occurred to Leu'kyarrth that he would need some sort of distraction to throw the Tau off his trail. Perhaps the Twisted Vine would do? According to the latest news the rival kabal had also discovered the Tau expedition, and Leu'kyarrth did not think it was likely that the Tau were aware that there was more than one Dark Eldar force after them. With some luck, the fools of the Twisted Vine could well end up playing right into his hands.

But that was all currently secondary concern in Leu'kyarrth's mind. At present the Dark Eldar had turned his attentions inwards rather than outwards, and was focusing on his plans for after the Tau craft had been seized. Har'kir'syn declining to join his coup had been a setback he had not anticipated. While the captain's own confirmed ambitions meant it was unlikely he would betray Leu'kyarrth to Seth'ia'vex and the Heart Takers, he had been counting on the support of Har'kir'syn in the inevitable conflict against the loyalist elements in the raiding fleet, and more importantly the attack craft assigned to Har'kir'syn. It was common knowledge that the captain's luxurious tastes and ample creature comforts attracted to him a fair portion of the finest attack craft pilots and crews in the raiding fleet, and indeed, the entire Bleeding Rose armada, chief among them the kabal's top ace Aer'y'ath, who had never once so far been defeated in a dogfight (or, according to his boasts at least, been turned down by those he courted). While Leu'kyarrth had wished to have both of the raiding fleet's carriers on his side, if it came down to a choice of only one he would have preferred to have the superior strike craft, which could play a much more pivotal role than the carrier itself. Still, the attack craft pilots and crews were certainly not slaves to the will of the captain of their parent ship, and it could yet prove possible to persuade them to his side, if he could simply find the right leverage...

And even that was only the rooks he would need on his side of the board, there was also the matter of the bishops. There were three main-line attack cruisers in the raiding fleet, and so three potential allies. Two were captained by the sisters, Vor'kapeth and Vor'parax. It was well known that the two shared a bitter and hate-filled rivalry, so he was unlikely to be able to gain the support of both of them, but if one of them were to be confirmed to support.. her.. then the other would be guaranteed to throw in with Leu'kyarrth's plot. The real question then would be whom Leu'kyarrth would most prize having. Vor'kapeth's fury, blood-lust and brutal viciousness was renowned, and she was feared throughout the kabal, the Dark City and beyond, and so she could be a useful tool for coercion. On the other hand, Vor'parax's comparatively greater control and reservation would make her more useful in the fleet action Leu'kyarrth was expecting. Then there was the matter of Py'thir. Leu'kyarrth detested Py'thir, and even if he did not the Dark Eldar was sure he would side with the Dread Archon in the coming takeover, for his loyalty and devotion were unquestioned. Leu'kyarrth felt sickened at the thought of it, and the idea of his unwavering fidelity to her, Merrighan, his Archon, filled him with boiling rage, though its fierce intensity surprised him. Nonetheless, he may ultimately have no choice but to attempt to gain Py'thir's support, though it would be no easy task. With Har'kir'syn declining him and the allegiance of the attack craft pilots and crews uncertain, the extra gunnery firepower of the Envenomed Blade may be needed to tip the balance back in his favour.

Leu'kyarrth turned his focus back to the events unfolding on the main display at the centre of the bridge. Unsurprisingly it seemed that the Tau had emerged victorious against the rabble that had opposed them, and a number of their transports were returning from their scout craft and the small outpost station it had established, while a barrage of missiles was rapidly speeding towards the hapless pirate vessel. He was startled, however, to see the ship erupt into a cataclysmic explosion as they impacted, one that eclipsed a sizeable portion of the display, though decided that a lucky hit must have triggered a critical power overload. Such instances were not unheard of. It seemed that the skirmish was now over.

At once the voice of one of the Prodigals, Leu'kyarrth's chosen elite, his students and acolytes, and among the most loyal of his followers, came to him over a communications channel. "Hierarch, I humbly request your presence immediately. We have intelligence you're going to want to hear."

"You're sure it can't wait?"

"No Hierarch, it is extremely valuable. It's about the captain, Py'thir. One of the Lacerators came to us just now, and it turns out the good captain has a secret."

This intrigued Leu'kyarrth deeply. "Continue monitoring the Tau fleet. Track them if they leave the area," Leu'kyarrth said to a lieutenant nearby before returning to this new discovery, "Bring him up to the viewing deck, I'll be there presently."

The Dark Eldar turned and left the bridge. Truly when one door closed another opened...
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

knightofthewr
Shas'La
Shas'La
Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#13 » Jun 24 2014 09:28

As always, this is a great read sir

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#14 » Oct 18 2014 05:27

XXII.


Like a baleful goddess gazing scornfully down upon creation, Seth'ia'vex brooded, poring over the iridescent projection of the galaxy that currently dominated the centre of her personal quarters, a great spiralled mass of malevolent lavender light that stretched out far beyond her reach and radiated inky colour through the darkness of the chamber. Scattered throughout the luminous holographic clouds were uncountable millions of dots of bright white, only delicately tinted the slightest shade of violet by the projector. These were the stars that filled the cosmos, and amongst them resided hundreds of runes denoting co-ordinates and galactic locations of interest. Many marked important worlds, many more warned of the location of warp storms, black holes and other dangerous celestial phenomena. Others still indicated webway access points, or important space stations, or countless other features that were somehow significant. Perhaps the most important runes were the ones that shifted and moved, sometimes blinking out and reappearing somewhere else, sometimes slowly plodding across the great projection, for these runes denoted the positions of ships and fleets, ranging from the wandering Craftworlds and the deluded Eldar that dwelt within them, to known Mon'keigh warfleets and convoys and anything in between, as well as the known positions of Dark Eldar fleets, some of them belonging to the Kabal of the Bleeding Rose, others not. These where what Seth'ia'vex was focused on at the moment.

These were indeed interesting times for Seth'ia'vex's kind. With Asdrubael Vect's recent declaration of a Time of Plenty, Kabalite activity had increased tenfold. Even now several thousand of the miniature stars on the holographic map were ringed with a flickering red overlay indicating a raid was in progress on them. And judging by the reports and situation readouts that luminously floated above the map they were ever more daring too. Archon Khal'ysect of the Kabal of the Barbed Stinger, who had hired the services of the Bleeding Rose armada to support his raids on numerous occasions, was apparently in the midst of bringing the cartel world of Gathenhelm to it's knees with a force of over 100 Raiders and accompanying grav-vehicles, pillaging it's cities and then stealing away the military units the Mon'keigh sent as re-enforcements. Elthiavax, a long-time rival and enemy of the Bleeding Rose, had formed an alliance with the Haemonculus Anaethyn, and as of the latest reports were currently assaulting the home citadel of one of the Mon'keigh's biologically altered elite units, intent on plundering the genetic secrets contained within. The Cult of the Arterial Slash had departed for what the younger races called the Octarius Sector, seeking to test their mettle against the most horrific monstrosities and mightiest warlords that could be found there, while the Kabal of Howling Void had mounted a grand expedition to the Crone Worlds, vowing to conquer the forces of She Who Thirsts, once and for all breaking it's stranglehold over the Eldar and mastering their plight at the hands of the Great Enemy, before capturing one million Mon'keigh from their bastion world at the edge of the Eldar's ancestral cradle, along with any spoils taken from the Crone Worlds themselves. Neither force had made contact with Commorragh for some time now, and many were beginning to presume them lost.

Gyahran, Reaver extraordinaire and an old rival of Aer'y'ath had finally resurfaced after his humbling defeat at the hands of the fighter ace, and was preparing to set out to follow the course of the Greenskin that called itself 'Wazdakka' and beat the cretin at it's own daredevil race from one side of the galaxy to the other, while the Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue as ever vied for dominance with the Black Heart in their seemingly endless game of gambits and schemes. The Black Heart itself, however, appeared to be growing increasingly erratic. For some unfathomable reason it appeared that Asdrubael Vect was voluntarily ceding considerable swathes of prestigious territory at the heart of Commorragh to his own enemies, while the overlord himself had, after a number of high-stakes raids, become reclusive, and no longer ventured forth on realspace raids on his prized Dias of Destruction. Indeed it seemed that Vect spent more and more time away from the politics of Commorragh in favour of heavily guarded satellite dimensions. Seth'ia'vex jokingly wondered if perhaps his time spent on Lacunae had finally gotten to him. This unusual activity was disturbing, although if there was one thing almost every citizen of Commorragh agreed on it was that Vect always had a plan - one did not maintain an iron grip over all Dark Eldar society for so long through clumsy impulsiveness after all. At the same time rumours had started to circulate on the FunnelWeb, the Bleeding Rose Kabal's information network, of a dark secret in the centre of Commorragh's undercore, some great and terrible fault or flaw that the Black Heart was seeking to keep contained at all costs. Perhaps there was a connection between it and the recent territory abandonment....

Perhaps most troubling of all however was the increase in space activity from other Kabals. The ability to strike from the Webway directly onto a world greatly reduced the need for fleet actions, and so most Kabals had instead chosen to focus predominantly on the more glamorous and excitingly visceral area of ground combat, allowing the Kabal of the Bleeding Rose to establish a niche for itself as space warfare experts beyond compare, but now ever larger numbers of ships not aligned with the Kabal were prowling the cosmos. While Sliscus and his Sky Serpents, the traditional competitor to the Bleeding Rose Kabal, had seemingly vanished, two new Kabals had begun to expand into the arena of space supremacy. The Severed, once laid low after a disastrous attempt at a coup, had returned with a revitalised space fleet, while the Lords of Iron Thorn had begun to demonstrate the power of their upgraded vessels in recent raids. Both of these upstarts would need to be swiftly crushed, and between the state of the art warships of the Bleeding Rose armada and the highly skilled veteran crews that manned them, it would surely prove a simple enough task. Even now it seemed that Scoprythus, the master strategist that helmed one of the Bleeding Rose Kabal's raiding fleets, was masterminding a series of strikes that would put them in their place. Indeed, the fools seemed to be insistent on using paltry Razorwing Jetfighters and Void Ravens as attack craft, so rooted were they in the ways of ground warfare, despite neither design possessing the firepower needed to seriously threaten even small independent starships or the needed range for deep space operations. A recent raid that included the destruction of an Imperial battleship proved this folly, with it taking several hundred of them several hours to cause noticeable damage even with the use of specialised munitions.

Best of all, no Kabal had yet to stake a major claim on the Bleeding Rose's main hunting ground on the Eastern Fringe between the Mon'keigh and the fledgling Tau Empire, allowing the Bleeding Rose Kabal to maintain it's near monopoly over the area that was skyrocketing in it's bounty as more and more forces from both powers were poured into the escalating conflict there.

But all this was of lesser concern to Seth'ia'vex. The information she was hunting for concerned the Twisted Vine. Having established a comprehensive profile of the two operatives masterminding their bid to snatch away the prize of the Tau colony craft, Seth'ia'vex had returned to discerning the number and nature of the forces the Bleeding Rose's bitter enemies had committed to the endeavour. Although usually relatively inactive at this time of year, due to Kel'sparin's regular Reverie of Delights, the Kabal was currently acting very aggressively, with multiple raids and ventures underway across the galaxy. Three raiding forces were known to be currently active in the galactic south-west, and another two had been confirmed to be in the galactic north-east. Seth'ia'vex wondered what might be causing this frenzy of activity. It could be a sign of growing weakness, with the Kabal frantically lashing out in a desperate grab for as many slaves and plunder as it could get before it was too late, or it could be a scheme to expand it's power. As always, with a force so adept at deception and subterfuge it was impossible to say for certain. There were numerous other unconfirmed reports of Twisted Vine activity throughout the cosmos, but even with that an unnerving number of their forces and assets were unaccounted for, and any number of them could potentially have been committed to this operation.

As she looked through the reports, Seth'ia'vex noticed yet another new development almost immediately - Ov'arok had been recalled from his latest campaign and been dispatched with new orders eastwards, last seen heading towards the same Tau colony world Visen'thyae had so recklessly struck at, which had doubtlessly lead to the Twisted Vine discovering the prize of the Tau expedition. His name struck out like a thunderbolt, for Ov'arok was well known and feared throughout the Dark City as one of the Twisted Vine's most cunning and dangerous commanders. He was infamous for his ravenous appetite for carnage and destruction and his brutal exploits had led him to be known as Kel'sparin's Talon amongst many of the Twisted Vine's enemies. The Twisted Vine usually favoured more insidious methods, but there was little subtle about Ov'arok's furious assaults, and in the past he had frequently been unleashed against enemies the Twisted Vine wished to make an example of, such as when he burned the entire surface of the garden world Nova Empirica to cinders after it's inhabitants called the actions of Kel'sparin, who had then recently raided it's neighbouring sister-world, monstrous.

However in recent times the Twisted Vine captain had been largely relegated to minor tasks while the Twisted Vine made use of more clandestine tactics Though no doubt done for numerous reasons, Seth'ia'vex, and indeed Merrighan herself, believed that an important factor in this focus was almost certainly the Twisted Vine Kabal's feud with the Kabal of the Bleeding Rose. One of the great strengths of the Bleeding Rose Kabal was it's decentralised nature, with almost all of it's meagre surface territory in Commorragh being little more than a large glorified starport. Indeed, the Kabal Fortress of the Bleeding Rose was in truth largely empty, and mainly served as a decoy. Instead, the true heart and nerve centre of the Kabal of the Bleeding Rose was the command ships of the Bleeding Rose armada, especially it's flagship and Merrighan's personal cruiser the Weeping Maiden, whose extensive and lavish interior contained much of the command centres and administrative structures for managing the Kabal. In her dark creativity Merrighan had realised long ago that even the mightiest static citadel is vulnerable, and that the safest, most secure sanctuary is a mobile one, which can then shift and evade enemy attacks. Even if the Weeping Maiden were to somehow be defeated, either of the other two raiding fleets' flagships, or even one of the Bleeding Rose Kabal's carriers could act as a temporary base of operations. With such mobile command infrastructure, the Kabal of the Bleeding rose could thus ensure that in the event of a major attack by a hostile Kabal they would be able to survive and launch a devastating retaliatory strike against the aggressor with their formidable fleet.

Because of this none had ever dared to attempt a takeover of the Bleeding Rose Kabal, but an extensive network of skilled operatives could potentially infiltrate the Kabal long enough to uncover the positions and routes of it's command infrastructure, perhaps even managing to plant operatives on the ships themselves, and thus negate any such defence. Because of this many of the Bleeding Rose Kabal's leadership found the choice of the Twisted Vine to specialise so thoroughly in intelligence and espionage beyond coincidence. Due to the danger this posed, Seth'ia'vex and the Heart Takers, the elite of the Kabal of the Bleeding Rose, performed the extra duty of a counter-intelligence force, and against the formidable spy network of the Twisted Vine they had honed their skills in this field to a killing edge, and were able to relentlessly root out and hunt down such infiltrators, though in the area of spying on other Kabals their abilities were limited. Still, despite the considerable skill of the Heart Takers and Seth'ia'vex the danger was ever present.

The commitment of Ov'arok was a sure sign that the Kabal of the Twisted Vine had heavily invested in their own attempt to capture the Tau colony craft. Sth'ia'vex thought that due to Ov'arok's reputation and the nature of his attacks that it was likely that the Twisted Vine force was numerically quite minor, but given the level of the Twisted Vine's resources that were clearly being put into it it would almost certainly be formidable, a small core of elite highly-equipped warriors relying on stealth and cunning to achieve their goal. Ov'arok would then be likely to be a diversion, a swinging hammer to distract from the poisoned dagger. This also fitted with the choice of placing Vak'sanithar and Gel'thran'vex, Kel'sparin's two top operatives, in command of the endeavour. But then that all lined up too well. Surely the Twisted Vine's plan couldn't be that simple. Seth'ia'vex knew full well from experience that things were never simple with the Twisted Vine, and that they were almost never as they appeared. Something didn't add up right. Perhaps it was all deliberate, and that the conclusion Seth'ia'vex had come to was exactly what the Twisted Vine wanted her to think...

Just as Seth'ia'vex was contemplating this her train of thought was shattered as the rapid stream of piercing shrill staccato beeps that was her ship's proximity alarm sprang into life and erupted into the room and rang out through the entire ship.

"Bridge, report! Now!" Seth'ia'vex bellowed as she frantically shrunk the galactic map and it's halo of reports.

"Hostile contact on our scopes Dracon. It just entered sensor range and is closing fast on our port side." The punctuality of the response pleased Seth'ia'vex as she shunted the now-collapsed galaxy and brought up the tactical map, displaying the immediate area around the fleet. Far ahead of the assembled Bleeding Rose ships, on the very edge of sensor range, the Tau fleet stood poised, suspiciously inactive after it's victory over the Mon'keigh pirates. Seth'ia'vex immediately spotted the lone contact that had triggered the alarm. It was on the extreme portside edge of the fleet's sensors, but rapidly speeding towards the raiding fleet. Seth'ia'vex wondered why Leu'kyarrth had not acted on it yet.

As she studied the blinking contact however, a wicked, malicious nightmarish grin began to grow on Seth'ia'vex. Judging from the mass readings and the energy signature of it's engines, the contact was a ship of cutter class... and it's signal indicated it belonged to the Kabal of the Twisted Vine.

Seth'ia'vex could hardly believe her fortune. After all this painstaking investigation, the Twisted Vine's main force was heading straight towards her. Her Quarry had been handed directly to her lap on a silver platter! Even if it was not the same cutter that had been identified, it would still almost certainly contain invaluable information on the Twisted Vine Kabal's movements. She immediately hailed the carrier closest to the speeding cutter - the Merciless Butcher.

"Har'kir'syn,"

"Ahh, Dracon," Har'kir'syns reply was surprisingly swift, "I expect you have noticed the ship approaching us?"

"Correct Har'kir'syn. Is Leu'kyarrth aware? He does not seem to have made any response."

"The great grand Hierarch is currently otherwise engaged, last I checked. Even if he weren't, I am currently blocking the signal to his ship. I don't think he needs to be disturbed from important business over just one little Cutter, no?"

Seth'ia'vex smirked. It was so satisfying when others thought alike with her. "No I suppose he doesn't. Now listen Har'kir'syn. I want you to scramble an attack wing to intercept it. Send Slavebringers, and Slavebringers only, no bombers. Have them carry a strike force of your best troops, and seize control of the vessel. They may kill any underlings that take up arms against them, but I want the leaders taken alive. Leave the ship's computers and databanks intact too if at all possible. That is an order, Har'kir'syn. I expect I do not need to remind you of the consequences for disobeying orders."

"But of course Dracon. Slavebringers are being prepared as we speak. You shall have your playthings, fear not."

"Very good Har'kir'syn." Seth'ia'vex watched as the icons of the Slavebringer Assault Boats sallied out from the Merciless Butcher, three squadrons in total, with each one carrying more than enough warriors to swiftly crush any resistance that the tiny cutter might have, regardless of how skilled they might be. One squadron powered towards the oncoming Cutter in a straight line, while the other two peeled off and swept around in a large pincer movement to cut off any chance of escape. By the time the primitive ship's rudimentary sensors detected them, and indeed the rest of the raiding fleet it was rushing headlong into, it would be far far too late.

Seth'ia'vex was very satisfied. Soon she would have the answers she sought...


XXIII.


"So then,"

In the ominous gloom Leu'kyarrth surveyed his guest. Py'thir stood facing him, sickening in his statuesque perfection, his sculpted physique sublime even by the exacting standards of the Eldar race. He stood tall and confident, radiating pride and dark majesty, his glossy void-black hair complimented by the ebony cape that he currently wore over his impeccable razor-cuirassed armour. Soft and velvet, the cape had been woven from the hair of 10,000 Mon'keigh maidens, the combined daughters of the people of Iris VI, a fair world that Py'thir had masterminded a raid on, snatching away the entire population in their evacuation transports as the planet was ravaged by minions of Chaos. He wore it to impress, to flaunt his skill and fashionable taste, and even now he showed no fear towards his host. But Leu'kyarrth was undaunted. He was fully secure in his knowledge, armed with the fatal flaw that lay at Py'thir's core. The captain was vulnerable, and was right where Leu'kyarrth wanted him, on a viewing deck aboard the Snared Heart. But this one was on the opposite side of the ship to the viewing deck where he convened in his conspiracy. That one was reserved for his allies, this one, the one they were on now, he kept for his enemies. This was his preferred hunting ground, and his unfortunate guest was at his mercy. Here, Leu'kyarrth was the predator, and now, Py'thir was his prey.

"Py'thir," Leu'kyarrth continued. He usually loathed the very mention of this pathetic sycophant's name, but this time he relished in wielding it, knowing full well the power he now had over him. "How are matters on your ship, hmm? I expect you will be fully prepared for our attack on the Tau?"

"I shall. What news is there of the Tau fleet Hierarch? My vessel has them on it's scopes, but as I understand it you are the one monitoring it?"

"Last I checked they had subdued the Mon'keigh pirates and were maintaining their position, likely consolidating after the skirmish. I do not believe they are likely to jump just yet, so I decided to hold this little discussion."

"An oversight, I would say. A proper leader must constantly be aware of their quarry. Even this very minute there is no telling what action they might take."

"Perhaps," Leu'kyarrth ignored the blatant lash at him, and looked out at the blood rising from the arboretum below the window portal. As always the crimson wisps, so much like a fine wine in colour, did not fail to calm him. "Look at them Py'thir," said Leu'kyarrth, "Those delicate streamers of rich velvet-red. Each one sprouting from a lesser creature and reaching out towards the stars, a great field of beautiful intricate flowers growing from wretched soil and out towards a sun. I understand that the captives they're seeded from last a very long time, planted as they are along the tops of the arboretum's spires. To think of them all, trapped, in agony, slowly bleeding away and being totally unable to stop it. Helpless.... I take great pleasure from the thought, don't you?"

"Indeed," replied Py'thir, "But I am unsure as to-"

"You know," Leu'kyarrth continued, utterly uncaring of any reply that had occurred to his guest, "Pain and death can teach you a great deal about someone or something. It's something one learns after participating in so many interrogations, after courting them both for so long. All the many little emotions that dance across their faces and in their eyes as the excruciation courses through them, burning along their nerves, they can tell you much about them, about their character, about their true nature. If blood could talk Py'thir, oh but if blood could talk, just think of what it, that rich fluid that animates life, gives spark to it, might say about it's former repository's true nature."

"How poetic." The reply was blunt, careless. Leu'kyarrth felt it a total insult to his insight.

"As it should be," Leu'kyarrth said, "The ability to finely craft verse and prose, to sculpt them into a reflection of the deeper truths of the universe, is the hallmark of a proper leader. After all, without fine culture we are truly lost. I wonder, Py'thir, I wonder.. what is your true nature?"

"A citizen of the Dark City, a captain of one of it's Kabals," Py'thir was either evasive or ignorant of the true thrust of Leu'kyarrth's question "And an exemplary one at that. I have successfully overseen 5 realspace raids, and participated in over 400 more with distinction. I am the rising star among the leadership of the Bleeding Rose Kabal, a title given to me by our Archon, Merrighan herself. Ah Leu'kyarrth, is she not wondrous in her beauty? Such smooth ivory skin, lustrous hair of night. Those eyes, so cold.. so captivating.. so commanding. Perhaps I shall craft verse and prose of my own about her, when I take my place with her as Asdrubael Vect once did with Aurelia Malys so long ago."

A white hot wave of murderous anger surged over Leu'kyarrth. Not only did this insect have the audacity to use her name, in his presence no less, but to both twist his own eloquent words against him and dare to covet Merrighan, his rightful prize, for his own craven dreams, was a slight that could not go unpunished. But Leu'kyarrth still had his weapon, his secret knowledge that would break this scum utterly. Now was the time to play his winning card.

"And what, perchance, makes you so confident that will happen?" Leu'kyarrth inquired.

"It is to be expected. My successes have thus far have been unparalleled. There is no precedent to think that they will wane. Eventually I will rise to a top position around her, and then it will be only a matter of time before she is mine."

"The galaxy will die of thermal entropy," Leu'kyarrth retorted, "Before the likes of her will look favourably upon the likes of you. You see Py'thir, I know your true nature now."

"Why Leu'kyarrth, whatever could you be referring to-"

"Oh come now." Leu'kyarrth snapped, "We both know what I mean. Why else would I have invited you and you alone to my vessel? I know the secret you hide at your heart. The evidence was known to me for some time, but now I know the full truth. What a clever masquerade you've put in place."

"I don't-"

"Do not THINK to interrupt me!" Leu'kyarrth began to advance on his helpless victim, "Oh yes, you hid it well for so long, but I see what you truly are now. No identity files, no mention of you beyond a certain point in the past, missing birth information, constantly maintaining a sterile environment so no genetic material can be sampled, grovelling to superiors so no-one would investigate your past. You have never known a living womb Py'thir, I know that now for a fact. You have never felt living parents, only the cold lifeless glass and fluid of a gestation pod. Did you not think that one day one of your kind might recognise you? You're a half-born, Py'thir, and you always were."

At this Py'thir twitched, involuntarily. Leu'kyarrth saw the spasm as clearly as a flame. There would be no escape for him now. At once Leu'kyarrth spun around the impostor in a blur of lethally swift motion and lashed out with the back of his fist, squarely striking the back of Py'thir's neck like a thunderbolt. As he fell forward, Leu'kyarrth slammed an armoured foot into his midriff, sending him sprawling on his back. Before Py'thir could react, Leu'kyarrth had drawn his huskblade and held the weapon's millimetres over his throat. Beads of perspiration from the false captain inched towards the blade as it drew in the moisture near it.

"What do you want?" Py'thir asked, yielding.

"A simple arrangement," said Leu'kyarrth, "There will come a time soon where I will take power for myself and assume the position of Archon within the Kabal. When that happens, I will need a force with which to seize that power, to defeat those elements that support our current leader, for the time being at least. You will be a part of it. You and your ship, your crew, will fight for me in my bid for leadership, you will serve me unquestioningly. And if you refuse, I will let slip word of your true identity. To think of what would happen to you if it became widely known that you had falsely usurped status far above your proper place, why it could almost be seen that you were planning a rebellion.. and you would of course be punished accordingly."

"I could always kill you. Then it would remain hidden and I would have a nice new ranking."

"Whose to say I have not already shared the knowledge with my followers? Should I die they will make sure word gets out, and you will still undoubtedly die in agony."

Py'thir pondered for a few minutes, then gave a sigh of defeat. "Very well Leu'kyarrth. You shall have my support."

Leu'kyarrth nodded, and slowly raised the huskblade away. "Good, I knew I would be able to count upon you in the end."

When Leu'kyarrth had finished with his gambit, Py'thir would not be among the survivors.
Last edited by Kakapo42 on Apr 11 2015 05:31, edited 1 time in total.
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

User avatar
TauMan
Shas'Ui
Shas'Ui
Posts: 681
Contact:

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#15 » Mar 30 2015 07:23

Kakapo42
Really enjoying all the stories in the Into Silence series. Must say in Rose Vitae, you make the Dark Eldar palpable, sorry but for me they have a high 'yuck' + 'tedium' factor. If the story wasn't so well written, I would not have been able to stomach these twisted pixies! As it was only Andy Chambers' description of Commorragh and it's environs that made Path of the Renegade at all readable for me. It's hard for me to get interested in all the intrigues, plots, betrayals, and back-stabbing hijinks. Especially when there isn't a single character I can identify with or care about.

Where's Marbo when you really need him?

Writing a story with this kinds of whacked out characters is hard, since very easily become two dimensional cardboard cut-outs. Either they become campy moustache twirling bad guys, 'I have you now my pretty!'; or they become flat sociopathic 'pure evil' types. So kudos on a good read with a difficult bunch of baddies and some good tau characters too!

I have only have one real critique and that is with two related plot elements that together seem weak:
First we learn that the tau expedition was discovered by the D.E. hacking into their systems (if I remember that right?), but then the Haemonculus Visen'thyae can't hack into their cybernetic implants 'because it would take too long.' If the D.E. can do one, then surely they could they do the other I would think? I understand that for the plot it was necessary for Visen'thyae to go to the planet and kidnap an Ethereal, so 'takes too long' has to be the priority; but the hacking the tau information system seems to me to undercut that. Maybe if the D.E. came to the information in some other another way, intercept a tau ally may be? A Nicassar or Demiurge? Something that doesn't require them 'hacking' anyway.

That's the only point I wanted to make.

PS. At first I thought the different posting of Into Silence were different chapters of the same story. Only when I found the original posting did I learn that it was a collaborative effort by different authors. Is Into Silence closed or can another writer still join the project? Again great job!
Viro’los gu brath!
N.Y.A.B.X.T.T.

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#16 » Mar 30 2015 07:43

TauMan wrote:Kakapo42
Really enjoying all the stories in the Into Silence series. Must say in Rose Vitae, you make the Dark Eldar palpable, sorry but for me they have a high 'yuck' + 'tedium' factor. If the story wasn't so well written, I would not have been able to stomach these twisted pixies! As it was only Andy Chambers' description of Commorragh and it's environs that made Path of the Renegade at all readable for me. It's hard for me to get interested in all the intrigues, plots, betrayals, and back-stabbing hijinks. Especially when there isn't a single character I can identify with or care about.

Where's Marbo when you really need him?

Writing a story with this kinds of whacked out characters is hard, since very easily become two dimensional cardboard cut-outs. Either they become campy moustache twirling bad guys, 'I have you now my pretty!'; or they become flat sociopathic 'pure evil' types. So kudos on a good read with a difficult bunch of baddies and some good tau characters too!

I have only have one real critique and that is with two related plot elements that together seem weak:
First we learn that the tau expedition was discovered by the D.E. hacking into their systems (if I remember that right?), but then the Haemonculus Visen'thyae can't hack into their cybernetic implants 'because it would take too long.' If the D.E. can do one, then surely they could they do the other I would think? I understand that for the plot it was necessary for Visen'thyae to go to the planet and kidnap an Ethereal, so 'takes too long' has to be the priority; but the hacking the tau information system seems to me to undercut that. Maybe if the D.E. came to the information in some other another way, intercept a tau ally may be? A Nicassar or Demiurge? Something that doesn't require them 'hacking' anyway.

That's the only point I wanted to make.

PS. At first I thought the different posting of Into Silence were different chapters of the same story. Only when I found the original posting did I learn that it was a collaborative effort by different authors. Is Into Silence closed or can another writer still join the project? Again great job!



Thank you for the compliment! I've tried hard to make the Dark Eldar characters as three-dimensional and not-stereotypical 'cartoon villains' as possible, so it's good to hear I'm doing a good job with it.

You do however appear to have some details wrong. The Dark Eldar never hacked into a Tau computer system for information, they learnt about the Path Resurgence's expedition the old fashioned way - by interrogating live captives. I believe it's briefly alluded to at one point, but they happened upon knowledge of the expedition's existence from some high-ranking prisoners taken during a raid, and then proceeded to abduct a large number of important personnel working on the project (such as El'Mont'yr'Ta), with the intent of simply torturing the necessary information out of them. The main problem then comes from the Tau captives being too stubborn and not yielding enough useful information. After quickly going through the earlier chapters I think the point of confusion might have been a remark by Visen'thyae about wiring them into a computer, in which case the idea isn't to hack their systems, but to forcibly extract what they want from the prisoners' minds. Perhaps I could make that particular plot element a bit clearer..

In regards to the overall Into Silence story, from what I can tell it's absolutely still open for other writers to join in! If you're interested then you'll need to contact Calmsword about it, as he's the overall 'head' of the project and so can facilitate all the technical details that escape my mind.

Glad to hear you're enjoying the show (and don't worry about not being that fond of the Dark Eldar, everyone has their own personal tastes and preferences. I myself don't really care for Space Marine characters that much and find them exceptionally dull - one of the main reasons why I've never been able to get into the Horus Heresy series - though many quite enjoy them).
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

User avatar
TauMan
Shas'Ui
Shas'Ui
Posts: 681
Contact:

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#17 » Mar 30 2015 08:30

Your welcome!

Boring: Space Marines
Very Boring: Chaos Marines
Ultimate Nyquil Effect: Chaos Daemons

Having said that I will off that you may want to check out the Horus Hersey books about the Raven Guard. Corax grew up on a penal planet (moon actually) that was the equivalent of the Soviet Gulag. Prisoners were sent there on trumped up charges to then spend the rest of their lives in slave labour. Any children the prisoners might have while there also became slave labourers. Corax leads a rebellion which liberates the planet, before the Emperor gets there. When he does, Corax asks that his rebel leaders all become Space Marines. Corax and all his captains still remember their captivity, suffering, and the injustice. After that you could stamp the word JUSTICE on every piece of Raven Guard armour. Next to the Salamanders they're the only Space Marines that seem to give a damn about the rest of humanity.

So they're just a little bit interesting...
Viro’los gu brath!
N.Y.A.B.X.T.T.

User avatar
Kakapo42
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 991

Re: Into Silence: Rosa Vitae

Post#18 » Apr 12 2015 09:04

XXIV.


Music.

The galaxy in this day and age was a blood-soaked maelstrom of conflict. Almost all of the intelligent species that dwelt within it were bitterly opposed to one another, and common cause was all but unheard of. Yet with all the myriad creatures and life-forms capable of sentient thought that lived within the galaxy, all shared at least one thing: music. From the crude drum-beats of the Greenskin hordes to the epic symphonies of the Eldar race, all had some form of music they enjoyed. There is something magical then about that wordless sound which transcends language, culture, psychology, differences...

Music is the purest voice of the soul.

Visen'thyae contemplated this as he sat at his station in the interrogation chamber, listening to his own musical creation in the wailing screams of the Tau captive currently locked in the Maiden's Embrace, it's wrenching twisting spasms as the latest dose of excruciator-serum crawled through its veins and arteries a most delightfully wild dance to accompany the melody. The Haemonculus felt a remarkable sense of accomplishment at his latest revelation, for if music is indeed the purest voice of the soul, then what purer form of music could there be than the sound of a creature in pain, the basest, simplest form of their voice as their psyche was stripped bare for all to see? He had always attributed a certain artistic nature to his work, indeed many times he had often made allusions to music in the past, but now he felt wonderfully vindicated: he was not only an artist, a genius, a visionary, but also a composer, perhaps able to rival the magnificence of the greatest musicians of the old Eldar empire.

At last the screaming entered a diminuendo and lowered to a whimpering piano as the agony-serum began to wear off, to give the singer a chance to speak.

"The pain will continue until you give us answers," Leu'kyarrth spoke, stressing the words like one might to a particularly dim-witted child. "Tell us the nature and workings of the station's main weapon, now." The Dark Eldar growled. Visen'thyae's audience of one was showing precious little of the tact and refinement he usually displayed during the interrogations. He scowled and brooded as he paced before the prisoner, and took no time to fully savour the intricate subtleties of torment that played out across it's features and voice. The Haemonculus found it strange to see Leu'kyarrth so vexed, but it was also understandable. The new secret weapon aboard the Tau command vessel, unveiled at the end of their clash with the corrupted Mon'keigh, had thus far not been mentioned by any of the captives - although even now long after Visen'thyae's breakthrough with the leader-being there was much they still refused to confess - and had taken the raiding fleet by surprise. Leu'kyarrth had been put thoroughly on edge by it, and Visen'thaye could deduce why easily enough. Kabalites such as he hated surprises, for they frequently proved threatening and ended in setbacks at best and death or enslavement at worst.

And time was against them, for this new attack could spell doom for their assault. Tau weapons were usually created to be as precise as their short-lived makers' primitive understanding could fashion them. Such armaments could be easily evaded by the Bleeding Rose's vessels with their great speed and agility, but this new addition to their arsenal appeared to project a large web or sheet of destructive force that enveloped a broad area in front of it, and with such a large area of effect there was little a ship could do to manoeuvre around it. Even worse, such blind destruction could also potentially circumvent the countermeasures and vision-clouding shadowfields that were the main line of defence for the Bleeding Rose ships after their enormous speed. Mercifully the area affected appeared relatively small, just enough to consume a single capital ship, but for all they knew the weapon could have higher power settings that affected larger swathes, and so it was imperative they uncover its secrets so that they might find a way to nullify it's impact. Initial analysis of the footage of the attack had suggested that it was some sort of large-scale haywire weapon, but then the Mon'keigh ship that had been it's target had detonated from the inside out, a rare occurrence in a haywire strike and never a direct result of the haywire blast itself - and the nature of the explosion did not suggest that it had merely triggered some volatile subsystem of the vessel.

"I... I know nothing of what you say," the Tau mumbled, "It is an exploration ship, it has no main weapon." The three-pointed slit upon it's brow branded it as a female of it's kind, Visen'thyae had learnt long ago, which explained the marvellous soprano range of it's screams. As he understood it she had been one of the chief scientific minds behind the construction of the Tau station and had contributed to many of its most advanced systems, making her most likely to be knowledgeable about this mysterious device.

Leu'kyarrth smote the Tau's face with an inert agony-wand, the force of which spat a whip-like clap and left a glaring azure mark. He activated the agony-wand and rammed it against the bottom of it's mouth. The Tau's head writhed and squirmed as the wand's microwave energy agitated the water in it's flesh. "Listen to me, if you can," he said, "We know the vessel is heavily armed. We know it is accompanied by a large fleet of warships and has a considerable military presence aboard. We have witnessed it in battle and seen it's main armament fire. That you would present me with such a pathetically feeble excuse for a lie is the most insulting of all."

"Kill me if you wish," the Tau managed to force out, "You will get nothing out of me. No-one should know the principles behind that weapon. No-one should wield the capability for such destruction."

Visen'thyae had always been surprised at the Children of the East. They were miserably short-lived and exhibited no more grace or elegance than any of the other lesser species that infested the modern galaxy, but their sheer wilful stubbornness, able to confound almost every instrument and method of torture at his disposal, was remarkable. Even against the most potent forms of torment Visen'thyae could devise, they had only ever revealed scant amounts of meaningful information when a Mon'keigh would have long since either died, revealed every last shred of knowledge they had or been reduced to a gibbering wreck. Their warrior breed was particularly tenacious, and though he and Leu'kyarrth had made breaking the insolent military commander they had captured a pet project, the Haemonculus secretly wondered if they might end up killing him before he cracked.

But this specimen was no fighter hardened by battle. This one was merely a scientist, a learner and a tinkerer far less familiar with pain. And now she had unwittingly opened a weakness, a tiny vulnerability admittedly, but one that could be easily exploited. For what the Tau might never have realised in time, was that she had just implied through tones, inflection and choice of words that she might have some particularly unpleasant memory of the device. Visen'thyae could see that Leu'kyarrth had noticed it too, and the Dark Eldar reached to power on the nightmare glove that encased his hand. As he placed it upon the captive's brow, her wails spoke of truth in their hypothesis as clearly as any opera conveyed its tale.

Truly, music is the purest voice of the soul.

XXV.


Studded in tiny harsh lights that pierced more than illuminated, the launch bay of the Merciless Butcher was a sea of frantic activity, with small craft rocketing in and out while swarms of deck crew worked to re-arm and refuel them, as well as taking in and sorting through the various spoils they ferried with them. Wounded warriors were taken to healing chambers while their comrades chillingly laughed in triumph over malevolently vibrant liqueurs in shimmering crystal chalices. In the void outside hung the small dark shell of the cutter, a wretched grub paralysed before a wicked and terrible hornet, now with several hastily-sealed openings torn into its flank betraying where the boarding parties had forced their way in. The denizens of the cutter had possessed surprisingly potent firepower, but they were disorganised and poorly disciplined, no match for the well-trained veteran assault parties that had descended upon them, and so they had been hunted down and slaughtered without remorse, only minor casualties being suffered from their abundance of heavy weapons. Even now their corpses were being stripped of any valuables before having trophies taken from them and being jettisoned into space. Amidst all this strode Seth'ia'vex, an island of confident calm and dread triumph in a bustling ocean of action as she made her way towards the immobilised prisoner. A twisted razor-edged smirk like broken porcelain split across her mouth as the Heart-Taker played with and turned over the shard knife in her hands.

At long last, she had won. Now he was hers.

In the shadowed depths of her mind Seth'ia'vex laughed as she thought over what had happened. All this time they had been chasing shadows, thinking that they were racing against a major operation of the Twisted Vine launched under Kel'sparin's orders. The assault parties had been briefed to expect the most skilled and deadly troops at the rival kabal's disposal. But one look at the situation review and the remains of the cutter's crew had told her everything she needed to know. There was no elite strike force, no army, no operation. The Twisted Vine had never put in motion some great venture to capture the Tau expedition. Judging from the fact that almost all the cutter's crew were from outside the Twisted Vine kabal Seth'ia'vex could deduce that it was probable that Kel'sparin never even sanctioned this endeavour, and that his two agents were pursuing it for their own ends. The deployment of Ov'arok suggested that the leader of the Twisted Vine at the very least suspected treachery and that they were wanted to answer for themselves. The Bleeding Rose would be gracious enough make sure that the survivors were appropriately punished...

But it was the shard knife she now held, confiscated when the cutter was seized, that pleased the Dark Eldar the most. Vak'sanithar had always kept his favourite weapon with him at all times, it had almost been as much a part of him as the fingers on his hand. It was conceivable that he might have escaped on a second ship, monitoring the cutter from afar, but never without this. To find the shard knife in Gel'thran'vex's possession, with his brother nowhere to be found, could mean only one thing - that he was dead. Given the time it would take for Ov'arok to be recalled from his last campaign and dispatched to the region, Seth'ia'vex reasoned that it couldn't have been the Twisted Vine forces sent to retrieve them that had done it, so it was almost certainly the Tau that had killed him, though exactly how she could not fathom. But she would have her answer soon enough. Gel'thran'vex was now at long last her helpless prisoner, and Seth'ia'vex was going to savour every moment of it.

'Well well," She said as she approached the captive, her words loaded with toxic mockery. "The mighty Gel'thran'vex, our most esteemed guest. Welcome to my web, little scuttling creature. I expect you find your accomodation... hospitable?"

Gel'thran'vex made no reply, simply looking ahead with the silence of granite, refusing to yield. Trickles of blood ran out from beneath the extensive restraints that contained him, betraying his struggles to resist or defeat them in the immediate past. It would be of no use, the restraints were designed to hold those with even his considerable strength. There would be no escape for him now. Ordinarily he would have vastly eclipsed the petite Seth'ia'vex in size and build, but the containment harness and restraint seat worked to break his stature and forced him into a lower position, where half-born scum rightfully belonged, leaving his eye level just above Seth'ia'vex's waist.

"You know," Seth'ia'vex continued, brandishing the shard knife, "This truly is an uncommon weapon. Captured wraithbone is it not? I wonder how it could have wound up in your kabal's workshops. I hear it was once the prized possession of the task-master who oversaw the two of you, until your dear companion stole it from him in your youth." She brought the blade down and flicked it across Gel'thran'vex's cheek, leaving a shallow cut the length of a small finger. Gel'thran'vex winced as the wraithbone shards left behind bit into his flesh. "This knife is probably the last of his possessions there is, the last significant piece of him left. How sardonically humorous then that not only is it in the hands of one of his hated foes," she went on while striking another delicate cut, "But that now it's being used to harm the one who always supported him, his very own duplicate."

Gel'thran'vex's face continued to twitch and twist in pain, but he maintained his steely silence and steady gaze.

Seth'ia'vex continued to slice at the prisoner with the shard knife as she talked. "How did he die Gel'thran'vex? Did his own warriors betray him, shooting him in the back? Or was it the hounds of your masters, in a grizzly execution? Perhaps they flayed him with barbed scourges and tore off his head, and now have it standing in a plaza in Commorragh for all to see, hmm? Surely it wasn't you, his beloved lapdog, even if you could pull yourself from your pathetic devotion to him, you are utterly devoid of the deft cleverness needed to get the better of him, but then I can't help but wonder if you might have finally been his doom. It is a delightfully whimsical thought, that his death was from the one he least feared."

The captive shot a single glance of white-hot hate towards the Heart-Taker, then resumed staring into the distance.

"Ahhh, but then it could have been those little grey children of the east, and their feeble allies. They were the ones that struck him down, weren't they Gelthranvex. What did they do to fell him, little crawling thing? Did they turn loose their bestial avian servants upon him? Was his body ripped apart and reduced to tatters by the beasts they herd? Did you watch as they chewed in and ravenously devoured him down to the bone? Mayhap they sent their winged minions against him instead, and he died screaming in a blaze of of radiation that left him in cinders? Or did they kill him themselves, lacing him with energy fire, leaving him riddled with holes to bleed to death? Oh, I know, they used some sort of heavy weapon. Did they obliterate him with an anti-tank gun? Was he blown in half by its force? It must have been most harrowing to have to pick up all the remaining pieces of him. At the very least there must have been a hole straight through him one could place a hand through."

Seth'ia'vex watched as her plaything's eyes had grown wider and wider as she weaved her tale. At the mention of the final element they had shown a cocktail of sorrow and grief such that she wondered if fluid might emerge from their ducts. She revelled in the satisfaction of hitting such a nerve. But still Gel'thran'vex continued his unwavering gaze beyond her.

At once the Dark Eldar swung up and grasped the underside of the half-born's head, digging the hard pointed talons of her armoured glove into his face. The sensation of piercing and tearing at his flesh was exhilarating, and made her nerves stand on edge. It almost made up for the trails of filthy unnatural blood that ran from the wounds and tarnished her immaculate armour. With her iron-hard grip she dragged his head upward and forced him to behold her withering glare, savouring the subconscious horror her strange eyes, with their grey-upon-grey centres devoid of pupils, inspired. "Look, look, LOOK at your better," Seth'ia'vex taunted as she hunted down his sight, "You wretched imbecile! You who could not save your master, you who thought you might one day kill me. Know that your miserable kind will never come to triumph over true Eldar."

Seth'ia'vex released him. Standard practice with captured Dark Eldar would be to ransom them back to their kabal or organisation of origin, but she was not about to let him continue to plague the Bleeding Rose. "I would love little more than to violently, excruciatingly torture you to death Gel'thran'vex. The sound of your agonised screams would be more wondrous to me than any of the great works of art my ancestors made before The Fall," said Seth'ia'vex while slowly carving runes of shame and defeat upon the captive with the shard knife, "But you have been a persistent digging thorn for far too long, and I can't risk you somehow escaping. So your death will be far quicker and entirely thorough."

At last the Heart-Taker felt content enough in flaunting her triumph. She withdrew the shard knife, leaving it covered in Gel'thran'vex's blood. It would make a fine trophy for her collection. "Of course," she added as she began to leave, "Totally annihilating you will leave no trace for regeneration. I know not if your kind truly possesses souls, but if you do, then, well... that would leave yours at the mercy of She Who Thirsts for the rest of eternity. I cannot imagine what that would be like, I wonder just how heavy the knowledge of that fate being certain for you will prove to be."

Seth'ia'vex gave a shrill, lacerating laugh as she left, her step bolstered with a skip as she ordered her prisoner to be placed into stasis to prevent his escape before the time was right to end his insufferable existence. He still made no sound, but the expression of despair that was slowly crawling across his face was just as loud as any scream..
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

Return to “Into Silence”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest