40K S2 EP19: The Best Laid Plans.
The craft, “The Vengeance Of Saint Druses” has hovered over Xath for three months now, as plans are crafted for the next step to take before the auction commences. Aviner however has toiled longer still, working to bring his beloved Sente back to him. Flesh re-grown from cultivated cells, ruined organs replaced with perfect machine, blood that is now streams of nano technology. She is now a living poem in praise of the Omnisiah, The perfection, the skin that shows her with her visage as if unmarked, the work, though perfect, hints at knowledge from lost tomes and data vaults that a mind should never wander.
Now all it needs is the spark that will bring life. Lying items of her past around her to help her back to sanity, Aviner finally places her sacred Bolter unloaded before her. Static builds and the ships engines whine with stress put upon them. As the power arcs hit full capacity Aviner is dragged to his knees by the magnetic fluctuations that rock the chamber. Gamma radiation burns out from the holy engines, burning flesh from his metallic skull. Sentes body snaps back and forth, light blazing from inside. The room stills, power cuts and Sente collapses still to the floor.
Panicked Aviner runs over to her seemingly lifeless form. Suddenly Aviner finds himself lifted from the ground as Sente wrenches him into the air. “You made the earth move. Do it again” she says. Aviner answers “I may need five minutes to recover first”. Letting him down Sente turns to her Bolter, muttering about the stamina inadequacies of men “You’ll never let me down will you” she croons to it.
The gun cracks in her hands before her now inhuman strength. “What did you do to me?” she demands. Cautious, remembering Gabriel’s awakening, Aviner explains the process as simply as possible. Blinking the events come flooding back “I remember those hellspawn bitches, where are they?” Sente asks. “I sent three of them back to the warp in your name” Aviner says. ”. “Well you can bring them back so I can kill them again” Sente roars. As she calms, Aviner discusses what happens with Tachinka, and what is going on with sire Parcifal. Impatient Sente says “I need to find something to drink, fuck or kill. Well, don’t stand around like a toaster”. “I was thinking how to help you with the second” Aviner answers. In response to the sacred hymns, the doors of the room seal and lock from the outside world.
Lucius sits under the hive spires of his homeworld. Despite the familiar surroundings something feels off to the Navigators finely honed senses. At the far end of the room a shadow moves. A faint scratching echoes in the empty chamber. “Let me in Lucius, its so cold out here” a woman’s voice sobs quietly. Walking to the door, Lucius opens it a crack, cautious to any danger. Frost etches itself upon the door as he grasps the door handle.
A snuffled weeping from behind him causes Lucius to spin around, glancing around the room. Someone stands within the sonic shower, their shadow cast against the wall. “I’m so cold. So hungry. Feed me Lucius”. Lucius’ hand reaches for the familiar bolt pistol at his desk. Again from behind him something stirs. A cold wet hand lays itself upon his shoulder causing his to spin around yet again.
A womans face, filled with snarling filed teeth, the woman from footfall, snarls at him, unholy runes carved on her chest “We know where you are Lucius. We know where you are” she snarls.
With a scream Lucius starts awake. His room laced with frost and an unnatural metallic tang in the air
Far away Victrix shocks awake, her senses screaming that something is very very wrong. The stench of decay, madness and lust hangs heavy on the air. With graceful movements, she drags her robes upon her and readies to face the madness.
Things form in the immaterium, visible to Lucius’ third eye. Tiny specs glow gold around the ship. Deep in the heart of the Saint Druses the visage of the god emperor blazes with light. The unnatural frost recedes, and the creatures vanish, in agony from his holy light.
Into Lucius’ quarters Victrix and Estiban burst. ”Can you see it, is the thing still here?” Estiban barks, gazing at the empty air. “Oh no, not again” Lucius mutters. Looking at the two guests he adds “It’s gone now”. With knowing gaze Estiban asks “Its them again?”.Lucius nods “Ever since my home world. I saw the abyss back then and I think it saw me”. “A regular peril for those of our breed” Estiban adds sagely “we had best tell the Lord Captain”
As Lucius readies his coat and dons his trademark hat, preparing to be the bearer of bad news, Xanatov floats in his quarters, music floating from the Violin on his arm are he plays to relax and release. Lucius voice bursts over his contemplation “My lord captain we may have a problem”. Lucius quickly explains. As he finishes. Xanatov sighs ”If its physical we will destroy it, if its beyond that reach it is up to you Victrix and Estiban to resolve”. Lucius muses that the figure seemed somewhat familiar, like the figure he had seen on footfall that caused Pandareos such fright. Under Xanatovs’ bionic arm the stem of his held wine goblet bends “Bring me Pandareos” he orders.
“Oh Throning Warp” Pandareos moans from the agony of his hangover as the Vox caster chimes “Pandareos, the lord captain wishes you to attend him”. Dressing slowly and painfully Pandareos continues to mutter“The lord captain wants me to attend to him, normally I like to be wined and dined first”.
Eventually he staggers into the Captains quarters where Xanatov offers him a Goblet of wine and a seat. “Listen, whoever they were, I had no idea they were related to you” Pandareos grins. Xanav stares coldly “Are you aware of a woman with filed teeth?” He asks. The goblet bounces off the ground with a clatter. Pandareos visibly pales, trying to cover his nerves with patter .”I know several can you be more specific?” Lucius explains about the vision of the woman from footfall. “Saynay” Pandareos frowns “Ok, ok I may, may have seduced roughly half her family and may have stolen their highly important keys”. ” ”Your telling me the ships haunted because you seduced and stole from her” Xanatov growls. “Hey I never got her key” Pandareos winces. “I need you to capture or kill her, can you do that?”the Lord Captain asks. ”I already owe her at least that. Don’t know if I can, but ill try.” He answers with unusual honesty. “Well prepare, but before you do anything tell me so that we can prepare the medical bay” Xanatov orders..
Knowing the game is afoot the crew decides on a risky course of action. In the Lord Captains dining room the inner circle sit discussing a coming trade meeting upon the planets surface, a meeting where they will be vulnerable and open. Above their heads warp predators swarm, recording every word, unaware that this whole meeting is a sham to draw dire Parcifal out of hiding.
Gabriel and Stern run through the possible tactics of the false meeting, this charade their first meeting since a recent alteration in their ranks. Xanatov had noticed that Stern, the superior strategist had rankled at Gabriel’s rapid promotion over his head, though he was too professional to make an issue of it. To resolve the bad blood before it came to ahead Xanatov arranged for a position of Arch Strategos Militae, head of strategic action, this leaving Gabriel in charge of tactical level actions where he has no peer. There conversations at the table show the Captain that his choice was well made as they demonstrate their respective skills “There’s nothing like rolling in with Bane blades, that’s when they know the meaning of fear” Gabriel extols the benefit of ground assault. “True, but I prefer to bombard from orbit, that way you don’t need to send in tanks” Stern counters.
Meanwhile the rest of the crew watch Estiban for hints of when they are being watched. As soon as the secretive hand gesture is given Pandareos starts on a lengthily monologue about fabricated encounters between him and Saynay, ones of graphic and degrading detail. There’s no way she won’t be out for blood after the deamons report that back
He is not the only one enjoying the proceedings though, with each toast to the emperor that goes up the warp entities flinch in pain. High Provost continues polite conversation with Xanatov ”Lord captain have you ever had the pleasure of scintillan roast truffles? I once had them served up between the flesh of someone I had hunted and killed, the emperor provides does he not?”. “That would be an ecclesiarcal matter” Xanatov replies. Victrix, noticing Aviners absence sends a thought to the newly awaked Sente to greet her. After brushing against her surface thoughts Victrix quickly decides to leave them to their privacy
When matters conclude it seems the bait has been taken, Cannon Innocent and Father Caustic shall lead the crew in prayer and celebration to keep the warp beasts away while the Lord Captain and crew steps forwards as bait in the coming trap.
On the bridge of “the Measure Response” Melissa Saynay sits surrounded by the gutted remains of her sacrifices. Blue flame candles grant bare light to the bone command throne of sire Parcifal who sits in contemplation. Around them ruinous marker pocked servitors walk the blasphemous corridor.
Saynays muttered moans and groans turn to shrieks as the report from her warp servants come back “He said I did what to him!” she screams in rage. Parcifal looks over “What is it my beloved?”. Rending her own skin Saynay shouts “I want Pandareos’ balls on a plate. I will eat his heart!”. ”He is nothing to concern yourself with” Parcifal says calmly “ What did they tell you about Xanatov?” As her mood calms marginally Saynays face shifts back to the image of beauty it once was”He will be on Xath within a matter of hours, some kind of trade delegation, it sounded tedious. You know how he travels, arrogant and unguarded. You can have him, but I want Pandareos, I want him to scream for me”. Confident that their arrayed allies of the warp will turn the tide their way they look forwards to Xantovs agony. “How I long to sink myself into his flesh and make him scream” Parcifal says. “Should I be jealous my beloved”. Answers Saynay. “Just something the bishop asked me to perform before we dragged him back in chains” Parcifal adds, before they unite, ready for the bloodshed to come
As they prepare the Fury Interceptor to head down to the planet Xanatov attends to the more mundane matters of his estate. A haiku sent to Sun Li contains allusions to the coming plans so to keep her from thinking he has betrayed her. Incoming messages warn that a market crisis in the druses marches has caused a run on investments. Tutting Xanatov sets Blake to look into the issue, whilst bemoaning the things he has to deal with.
Heading to the Fury Pandareos voxes Marchessa “hey, any chance I could borrow that Bolt pistol clip you’ve been saving for whoever got Frag?”. Moments later an irate Marchessa insists on being on the Fury Interceptor. Smiling Pandareos agrees, musing that took far less time than just asking her to be the co pilot. Victrix and Lucius meditate on board, readying their will. At the last minute Pandareos voxes the landship and asks the meeting party to bring targeting beacons for their landship, just in case.
Preparations done, the Fury drops once more through the atmosphere of the sickly green orb, heading back to the trenches where this all started. Far behind them Kaustic intones the religious ceremonies in their wake. The ship heads lower and lower, down onto the planet, down into the trench, down into the waiting darkness.
Once landed they see the land ships representatives ahead sealed within their void suits that protect them from the harsh atmosphere. Over vox the Lord Captain speaks “I bring you greetings from the vengeance of the saint druses”. Having never seen power armour before the representatives quail back from Xanatov. As they overcome their fear one bows then steps forwards to shake Xanatovs’ hand. Xanatov quickly alludes to the possible danger incoming. “Is it to do with Paracelsus?” the representative asks ”No its more personal than that” Xanatov says.
Victrix and Lucius feel something shifting , beyond normal senses. The High tactician representative mumbles “What’s that coming over the vox. Lord Captain, can you hear that.” Blood starts dripping from his nose, then quickens to an outpour. Lucuis shouts out a warning ”Captain, we got incoming”. Something is intruding from beyond.
Weapons leave their holsters nigh instantly as Xanatov glances around “Where?” he demands. “Marchessa you’re in charge of the Fury, the lascannons are a dream” Pandareos voxes, trying to see where the danger will come from. The representatives double over, eyes boiling in their sockets. In agony they hammer at their helmets and their bodies lift clean off the ground, jerking spasmodically before exploding in a shower of organs.
Seven howling voids of darkness coalesce before them, seven terrors from beyond. Horror tears at the souls of everyone present, scratching at their minds. Beyond terror each man and woman of the Lord Captains inner guard stands firm. The scene bursts into light, the sun rifle unleashing its anger. As the rays fade, the daemons stands before them, untouched.
Pandareos screams to the crowd “Everyone on the Fury Interceptor, lets take off and shell the place” as he lays down suppressive fire that does nothing to slow the creatures advance. “Throne! They’re not throning dying” he mutters, his shaking hands clenched white against the butt of his pistols.
The emperors grace rushing through her, Victrix turns one creature against its mate, but the surge of energies is too much. Burnt and hollow she will not be able to focus her will again for this battle.
The creatures come forwards in rage and lust, tearing at the crew. Dancing between blows , each puts out dirt and fire to the air. Knowing they cannot harm their opponents, the aim to blind and confuse, waving back away from the flurry of blows.
Faced by beings they cannot harm, that hunt their souls. Backed by the rising Fury Interceptor, the crew stand ready to kill or die in the Emperors name