Warhammer 40,000: The Dark Tarot

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Asmodeus, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. The Dark Tarot

    DAY ONE

    [​IMG]


    The Psyker's hand trembled as it turned the card. A tear dropped from his pale white eyes and struck the metal table. Then the shudder rippled to the rest of his body. He was bathed in a shaft of starlight that came from the porthole overhead. It illuminated the card before him.

    A body, browned with age and blackened in death, sits locked within a great throne of gold, steel and brass. The corpse's mouth is open, projecting a silent scream that echoes through the unseen layers of the universe. Before the howling cadaver, a legion of angels kneels, crying violet tears.

    The Psyker whimpered as, for the fourteenth time, the card began a slow roatation, as if moved by some phantom hand. The card inverted on the table and its gothic brown was erased by ash grey, as if the paper was burning without fire. And in its centre, a symbol bled through like a wound reopened.

    [​IMG]

    By the wall, another figure manned a control-lecturn, from where he adjusted the opening of the portal at the apex of the chamber. With a few strokes he closed the apeture and drowned himself and the shivering Telepath in darkness. "Again."

    The Psyker nodded and drew a second card, squinting at it in the twilight.

    The Eye. A wound in reality, an open scar in space where the bruise-purple and blood-red eye of Chaos leers into the galaxy. The stars die around the Eye: some fading into cold blackness, others bursting in white hot torment. The Eye stares dully, little emotion beyond distant hate. But the nebula flares, tendrils spreading across space. The Eye has opened.

    The man at the lecturn turned another dial and the window above them swirled open, letting the starlight back in. And immediately there was another cry from the Psyker at the table. The card began to burn, another symbol bleeding through in the light of the Hesperos Sun.

    [​IMG]

    A third voice spoke, "By all that is holy, Inquisitor... what does this mean?"

    The man at the lecturn turned, his Inquisitorial Seal gleaming in starlight. "You know as much as I do, Cardinal."

    The Cardinal narrowed eyes at his host, not believing him for one instant. He hadn't climbed his way to the seat of Cardinal by trusting the word of Inquisitors. And he wasn't about to start. "How long now?"

    "Four months, at least," the Inqusitor answered. "At first we suspected that individual decks had been tampered with. But now it is clear..." His eyes glowed with eldritch light as he focussed on the old man. "The Emperor's Tarot is corrupted."

    If it were anything but an Inquisitor speaking those words, the Cardinal would have put him to death for heresy. Swallowing against the bitter taste in his mouth, the Cardinal peered beyond the lecturn at the Telepath and the cards he had drawn. "What the hell are they?"

    The Inquisitor remained icily calm. "They do not match any Daemonic or Xenos records that we hold. So far we have identified eight separate symbols. They could point to events... or to individuals."

    Over at the table, the Psyker curled up in grief, his pale hand obsessively turning the next card.

    The galaxy burns. A figure stands in ancient armor, wreathed in a billion screaming souls that encircle him like mist. In its right gauntlet, Holy Terra blackens and crumbles. A demigod's blood drips from the talons. In the dim reaches of the vision, almost an afterthought, a distant howling light fades into darkness and silence. The figure smiles for the first time in ten thousand years.

    The card began to burn, another symbol bleeding through.

    "I shall spread the word amongst the governors," the Cardinal declared, turning for the door as he pressed a handkerchief to his mouth. "We'll say the symbols are marks of witchcraft. Anyone holding a corrupted tarot deck or bearing a symbol will be executed on sight."

    The Inquisitor nodded silently, and only spoke when the Cardinal was about to signal his flight crew. "The Conclave will meet three nights from now. Can I count on your support, Cardinal?"

    The old man glared back, knowing what it would mean if he said 'yes'. The entire military resources of the Hesperos System would be given over to the will of the Left Hand, and even the Bael War would become second place to the hunting of these dread symbols.

    But already the panic was spreading, amongst the deacons and the schools of the Astra Telepathica. The Cardinal had no choice. With the slightest nod, he answered, "We will each do our duty to the Emperor."

    He moved away, and the Inquisitor reached inside his robe. "Aye, Cardinal... we will."

    He raised the bolt pistol and fired, shattering the skull of the Telepath. The man jerked and fell forward through the shaft of starlight, his horror ended and blood pouring from his stumped neck to drown the cards of the Dark Tarot.
     
  2. Skarfax: Humboldt Spire

    Makeshift ordnance pirouetted from the sky into waiting thatches of movement, while streamlined explosive shells darted from the sky into a rolling wave of green. The air was heavy with stench ozone intermingled with spilling blood, the screams of the dying and the dull roar of "WAAAGH" in the distance. Lasfire streaked over the battlefield surrounding the Humboldt spire, punctuated by sporadic lines of haphazardly aimed projectile fire traveling towards the source of the light show.

    The Orks were picking up momentum on Skarfax. The Imperial Guard stationed within the Humboldt spire had retaken the outer habs in a valiant push, but to no avail. As soon as the ground had been taken, it was as if it had been dug away to allow the Orks to come flooding into it. Were it not for the reinforcements on their way, the planet would have slim hope for survival.

    And were it not for the swarm that was descending, the planet might have survived.

    A low rippling croak rose from the back of Akagk's throat as his beak splayed to expose his tongue briefly. He surveyed the carnage from the relative safety of the observation post that he and his Kindreds had set up just outside Humboldt. They had been on the planet for some months without being discovered, partially thanks to the pandemonium which had consumed it. They had even managed to slaughter Orks that had strayed from the main bulk of the waagh without an overabundance of attention. The meat had been a welcome change.

    Their Tau counterparts believed that they were on the planet for reconnaissance, but Akagk's motives were far more selfish than was initially let on. Since his reappearance he had become increasingly more erratic in his actions, even daring to disobey what was asked of him on occasion. His Kroot seemed undisturbed by the changes. They had always known him as a bit of an aggressive element to their sphere, purportedly due to some of the prey he had pursued in the past.

    Akagk considered his options briefly as his gaze flit across the battlefield before turning to his waiting retinue of Shapers. The clues were here. They had to be, but not upon the surface as he had hoped. He addressed his Shapers with a voice that was medium in pitch when not speaking his native language, sounding something of a cross between a frog and alligator on what the Imperium referred to as Holy Terra. "We shall infiltrate the Imperial habitat."

    One of the more experienced Shapers rattled off a quick reply. "There are many foes, Akagk."

    "Indeed. I will require a small team to accompany me, along with one of your trackers. We will move under darkness... allow our Tau comrades to receive our report, as well. We do not want to alarm them." His Shapers appeared to consider this briefly before turning to select those that would accompany him.

    ---

    The roar of battle could still be heard even from the listening post set upon the opposite end of the spire. Occasionally fighting would spill over from the far side, but it was scarce for the moment while the Orks attempted to press through. It had lulled many of the Guardsmen there into a false sense of security. Private Orman gazed listlessly out of the slot of his bunker, appearing relatively uninterested in anything happening beyond the rough concrete slab in front of him.

    He had been conscripted into the PDF some years back when the reserve guard had fell. Since then he had received "safe" assignments and the listening post being the latest one. He was musing over his good luck when a blade attached to the end of a strange rifle whirled through the headspace of his bunker and into his face, yanking his corpse outside sharply before he had time to bleed over the stone.

    Private Orman's fellow guardsmen met similar fates at the hands of Akagk's Kroot. One of the Carnivores had stooped to lean on his hands to begin feeding, eliciting a shrill cry of anger from Akagk who jutted a limb towards the Kroot in question.

    "LEAVE IT. They must think this slaughter was done by Orks, or all is lost." The Kroot shook his bristles in annoyance, pulling away from the corpse reluctantly. "We must be swift... and be on the look out for signs of our brethren."
     
  3. A thick glove slammed into the table the hand inside containing a fist and the company commander fumed. Under the fist the glowing red lines signifying a known ork offensive distorted. "And they'll be caught between our heavy bolters and the iron fists." A bent man stepped forwards tally scrolls making their way though the rollers in front in his eyes as he hastily scribbled the figures that ran through his enhanced brain. "Casualties amount to 200 guardsmen, 5 chimeras and 3 Leman Russ in the diversionary attack."

    Lazarus moved his fist and looked down at the table. Those losses would allow the 2nd platoon to pull back from the hab structure and buy a little time for an evacuation fleet to arrive, if the distress signal made it through. "Then in his name do it."

    The command chimera, company standard displayed proudly by the barer in the turret lurched forwards and inside the orders for the counteroffensive were related, authorized, checked and authorized again. Penal legionnaires in their explosive-laden collars where whipped forwards. A score of engives revved to life, belching black clouds as two armored columns started grinding forwards. The emperium was going to bray a heavy price for every inch the greenskins advanced even as overhead the hive fleet gathered to feed making day seem like starless night. The greenskins had come for a fight, and the 214th Cadian would fight to the last.
     
  4. A black ship sailed along the dotted seas of space. Smooth contours and matte metals betrayed no sign of handmade vessel; not even ionic thrusters gave any tell-tale sign of engines cruising and finally idling. The ship had been expertly designed, stealth the primary function with reconnaissance in mind. Insertion had been a secondary role, but a role it was not unable to assume.

    "We are getting a transmission now, Shas'O," crooned a soft voice from one of the communication terminals on the Air caste stealth frigate. The Tau female brushed away fire-orange hair from her forehead as she adjusted the communications device that was mounted gingerly upon the right side of her face.

    "That is good, Ui'Val," spoke the commander Shas'O Vior'la Shosanno. He wore a simple tan-and-green bodyglove with red highlights across the chest and shoulders in a single broad stripe. His collar had the marking of his command, Fire Caste Commander, the highest rank. It was only recently that he had been promoted from Shas'El...

    No, not recently. It had been nearly a year since his promotion, and it had been many months since...

    "Is he reporting anything new?" asked O'Shosanno, Commander Thunderbolt, of his Air caste communications officer. Kor'ui Val sat for a moment in quiet concentration before shaking her head.

    "No, Commander. It is the same message as before."

    "Indeed," mused Shosanno in a quiet voice. There was some amusement there.

    ~~~~~

    The Tau stealth frigate had the capability of breaking the atmosphere, but doing so had the potential to jeopardize their stealth systems. The ship used the same sophisticated technology that kept their Stealthsuits hidden, but on a much grander, wider, and technologically superior scale. It worked especially well in the vacuum of space with supporting shield systems. Atmospherics did little to dampen the workings of the stealth systems, but it did introduce a new variable that, if they were facing a clever or meticulous foe, would be able to begin to see inconsistencies in their radar systems.

    Drop pods emptied from the belly of the frigate as it sat in low-orbit over the planet Skarfax. They hit the ground as gently as possible, several leagues outside of the main engagement between Ork and Human forces. Since Shosanno's return, he had been given near carte blanche in dealing with the Hesperos campaign. He was a walking Hero, and only the Ethereal in greater command of the Expeditionary Force dared question him and give him orders. In this instance, he had once again struck 'rogue'; finding inconsistencies with a Kroot scouting force, he had taken it upon himself to strike out with his single Veteran Cadre to investigate.

    The ground was littered with just a few drop pods. No troops spilled out of them; as a matter of fact, nothing did! Inside the drop pods had been a number of Devilfish troop transports, all fitted with stealth technology. Shosanno had decided to deploy with less than a quarter of his forces; no need to dedicate an entire Cadre to a recon mission that could very well turn into a Search and Rescue.

    "We're coming up on the position of the last transmission, Shas'O," chimed in one of the Shas'vre Fire Warrior commanders. Shosanno was filled with a sense of pride, knowing his Cadre had no one under the rank of Shas'la. They were all veterans, having seen battles across the many theaters of war that the Tau had taken part in. Shosanno himself had seen all fronts of combat, and his soldiers respected him for this very thing.

    "Good. Stealth-team Alpha, prepare to deploy. I will accompany you to the spire."
    The hatch of the Devilfish transport he had been inside of opened up, allowing him to step out. He was wearing the prototype XV22 Stealth combat suit. The armour was heavier than all but the XV8-series, but provided much more agility, on top of housing a stealth generator system much like the XV25 suits.

    "Stealth-team Bravo, split into two forward teams and be on the look out. Use only fat-line transmissions, and maintain radio silence. Alpha, you know the tell-tale signs of Kroot weaponry and their... feasting."

    "Alpha, on me."
    Shosanno rocketed away with 6 XV25-clad Shas'vre soldiers behind him.
     
  5. Akagk's Kroot were making good time through the infected workings of the underspire. He and his Kroot were stooped low as they sped through the nigh organic streets, staying well within shadows and halting every so often with a sharp gesture from Akagk to allow civilians, hive scum and the occasional roving patrol to pass. He hadn't found what they were looking for yet. Truth be told, he was so preoccupied that it had not yet occurred to him that his mission was just on the border of suicidal, given the circumstances.

    He opened his beak slightly in apprehension as he gestured to his Kroot to halt at the turn of an alleyway, his comrades stacking behind him deftly in one fluid movement. He slowly slid to the ground before the corner and threw his head around to take in the scene beyond. Armed, small platoon-sized element. He rose to his knees and began to think of another route, when a low rumble behind his element caused his head to snap towards the source. Passing before the alley's entrance way behind them was what appeared to be an armored column. From where he was, he could see Chimaera transports, along with the periodic Leman Russ tank. His beak splayed as he burbled distastefully in the back of his throat.


    <object width="320" height="265">


    <embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/qq1dmB4XNYY?fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x5d1719&color2=0xcd311b" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="320" height="265"></object>


    "We must cut our way through. Flesh will part easier than steel." His Kroot croaked in grim approval, displaying their tongues briefly. "Move quickly on my signal, and slay their radio operators first. I will deal with their officer..."

    He slid to a kneeling position, peering around the corner again. The armored column's noise would mask their violence. They appeared distracted. There was no other way. "NOW."

    Akagk's Kroot flooded past him with a shrill cry, intent to commit violence without hesitation. Akagk fell in behind them, quickly outpacing his comrades as he leapt into the air with his rifle raised. The guardsmen brought up a cry of alarm, many of them quickly reaching for their weapons despite their surprise. But as Akagk had gone airborne, his Kroot had shouldered their weapons and fired a volley from their Kroot rifles. The effect was gruesome. The first rank of guardsmen went down, their function suspended by gaping holes.

    Akagk's plummet plowed him directly into two guardsmen who were positioned in the middle of the platoon, bowling each of them over with a Kroot foot in their chest. Their comrades rushed forward to skewer Akagk on their bayonets, forcing him to whirl into action. His Kroot rifle danced a mere split second behind him as he stooped low and swept it over his head in a wide arc, utilizing his natural reach and flaying those who were not quick enough to step aside and throwing the others off balance as they scrambled to avoid it. They redoubled quickly enough, much to Akagk's amusement... these prey had heart.

    But not perception. His Kroot landed into play around him, knocking over the unaware guardsmen while cutting and stabbing ferociously. As he had asked, the radiomen were laid open and bleeding against the walls of the alleyway, their blood casting obscene shapes onto the stone. Akagk watched as one of his Kroot heedlessly rushed towards the Platoon Leader, a human lieutenant. The officer gave a loud cry before he turned on his heel deftly and planted a boot into the Carnivore's chest, staggering the Kroot backwards; an impressive feat of agility for an armored human. Akagk's admiration did not wane, even as the lieutenant quickly shot his Kroot through the midsection with his laspistol, bringing the Carnivore to his knees before deftly taking his head off at the shoulders with a whining swipe of his chainsword.

    "Haaa." Akagk had uttered the expression in human tongue. He could sense the apprehension and confusion on the officer's face, even as he let loose a tooth-rattling shriek of challenge and anger. The guardsmen between him and his foe did not even seem to slow his advance. He lashed out heedlessly with the blades of his rifle, maiming and slashing his way to the lieutenant. One corporal managed to snatch his rifle as it sailed towards him, causing Akagk to merely yank back on the weapon sharply and work the trigger. As the smoking corpse of the corporal slid to the ground, he was finally free to engage the lieutenant, who stood in disbelief as his men died around him. He seemed to snap out of it suddenly however, and screamed at the top of his lungs before breaking into a charge.

    "FOR THE EMPEROR!"

    "Yes! This is how prey should truly be."
    Akagk danced sideways to avoid a haphazard scattering of lasfire as the officer charged forward, the lean Kroot bending one knee slightly to brace for what was next. Flashing metal met the teeth of a chainsword for a brief second, before Akagk simply stepped aside, allowing the heavy blow to slide off of the slant of his rifle like rain against an umbrella. The rifle turned in his long fingers to re-expose the bladed side as Akagk quickly stepped past and the long hooked blade found the lieutenant's throat, who whirled to face Akagk in panic. Akagk merely cranked his limbs taut and swung the officer's body against the blade of his rifle like a sling. The man's head went flying while the body slid to a halt nearby.

    Akagk swung the blood from his blades with an autonomous double movement. Behind him, his Kroot had finished what was left of the platoon, and now gathered around the corpse of their brethren. Akagk looked over his shoulder at them for a brief moment, then turned away from his fallen foe and approached his Kroot.

    "He was strong in life, with courage to spare. But we must do him justice with haste. Consume him."
    His Kroot crooned in response and quickly set upon the corpse of the fallen warrior, while Akagk kept vigil.
     
  6. "Third platoon, advance and engage the greenskins infesting the manufactorium." the low whine never faltered as in the wake of the brutal kroot assault the voxcaster's delicate charge sounded behind Akagk. "Respond third platoon..... Come in."

    In the front of the Chimera the operator shook his head at Lazarus.

    "Third platoon... Anyone there."

    Leaning low over the plotting table Lazarus traced the line that marked the third platoon's advance. Their role in the diversionary attack to shield the tanks from the bulk of the hoard had been vital.

    "Call the conscripts that were meant to link up with them, tell them to join the tanks directly and support their advance."

    He looked at the dot the signified the platoon's position and the armoured column advancing parallel to where they had been standing by and though for a second. "Tell tanks 301 and 306 to break off too see whats happened and by the emperor get them moving."

    At the head on the column a black commissar tank turned into a sidestreet followed by it's squadron's demolisher and double backed breaking off from the offensive to relay orders or make an example or traitors.

    "Advance A reports contact with Ork looters and light vehicles and are continuing to advance with minimal resistance."

    Lazarus savored the moment, battle had been joined before taking off his cap and resting it in the crook of his arm and replacing it with headphones so that he sound hear the reports himself. Them he waked to be transmitted to the entire company.

    "Men of Cadia, battle is joined against the emperor's enemies and even now we sweep them from his land. No alien shall set foot Skarfax without feeling his fury and it is up to us to be his hand today and claim victory in his name. Let none darken his worlds and live. We are the 214th. Men of Cadian blood who protect the Imperium from the cursed eye itself these orks are nothing worse that the million monstrosities already put down bu out hands. We are blessed and none can stand before us."

    His voice entered the minds of his men and felt their fear, their doubt and eased it taking it from them and into himself, his speech done the operator located the strongest xeno transition and matched it's frequency so that he could talk to the hated enemy. Only this time his voice carried with it all the emotions it has eased into the minds of the enemy.

    "Greenskins hear me. You have come here to die. Your shit are scattered and our wrath is upon you. Our warmachines will pound your bones to dust and out boots with scatter them to the winds. Make you piece with whatever foul gods you will for you will soon find them to be false."
     
  7. "Third platoon, advance and engage the greenskins infesting the manufactorium." the low whine never faltered as in the wake of the brutal kroot assault the voxcaster's delicate charge sounded behind Akagk. "Respond third platoon..... Come in."

    In the front of the Chimera the operator shook his head at Lazarus.

    "Third platoon... Anyone there."

    Leaning low over the plotting table Lazarus traced the line that marked the third platoon's advance. Their role in the diversionary attack to shield the tanks from the bulk of the hoard had been vital.

    "Call the conscripts that were meant to link up with them, tell them to join the tanks directly and support their advance."

    He looked at the dot the signified the platoon's position and the armoured column advancing parallel to where they had been standing by and though for a second. "Tell tanks 301 and 306 to break off too see whats happened and by the emperor get them moving."

    At the head on the column a black commissar tank turned into a sidestreet followed by it's squadron's demolisher and double backed breaking off from the offensive to relay orders or make an example or traitors.

    "Advance A reports contact with Ork looters and light vehicles and are continuing to advance with minimal resistance."

    Lazarus savored the moment, battle had been joined before taking off his cap and resting it in the crook of his arm and replacing it with headphones so that he sound hear the reports himself. Them he waked to be transmitted to the entire company.

    "Men of Cadia, battle is joined against the emperor's enemies and even now we sweep them from his land. No alien shall set foot Skarfax without feeling his fury and it is up to us to be his hand today and claim victory in his name. Let none darken his worlds and live. We are the 214th. Men of Cadian blood who protect the Imperium from the cursed eye itself these orks are nothing worse that the million monstrosities already put down bu out hands. We are blessed and none can stand before us."

    His voice entered the minds of his men and felt their fear, their doubt and eased it taking it from them and into himself, his speech done the operator located the strongest xeno transition and matched it's frequency so that he could talk to the hated enemy. Only this time his voice carried with it all the emotions it has eased into the minds of the enemy.

    "Greenskins hear me. You have come here to die. Your shit are scattered and our wrath is upon you. Our warmachines will pound your bones to dust and out boots with scatter them to the winds. Make you piece with whatever foul gods you will for you will soon find them to be false."
     
  8. <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> <w:SplitPgBreakAndParaMark/> <w:EnableOpenTypeKerning/> <w:DontFlipMirrorIndents/> <w:OverrideTableStyleHps/> </w:Compatibility> <m:mathPr> <m:mathFont m:val="Cambria Math"/> <m:brkBin m:val="before"/> <m:brkBinSub m:val="--"/> <m:smallFrac m:val="off"/> <m:dispDef/> <m:lMargin m:val="0"/> <m:rMargin m:val="0"/> <m:defJc m:val="centerGroup"/> <m:wrapIndent m:val="1440"/> <m:intLim m:val="subSup"/> <m:naryLim m:val="undOvr"/> </m:mathPr></w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" DefUnhideWhenUsed="true" DefSemiHidden="true" DefQFormat="false" DefPriority="99" LatentStyleCount="267"> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="0" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Normal"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="heading 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 7"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 8"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 9"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 7"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 8"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 9"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="35" QFormat="true" Name="caption"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" Name="Default Paragraph Font"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Strong"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="59" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Table Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Placeholder Text"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Revision"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Quote"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading"/> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} </style> <![endif]--> Akagk swung his gaze away from the end of the alley in alarm as the voxcaster squawked nearby one of the slain radiomen. It sounded as though whoever was on the other end was issuing orders. He crowed over his shoulder at his Kroot behind him, causing the din of their feasting to wane slightly as he listened more intently. His eyes narrowed slightly after a moment, realizing what was coming next by the radio traffic.

    “Find cover, behind bodies if you have to. Do it quickly! Do it now!” His Kroot fell into position behind what little cover was available, leaning flat against imperfections in the walls of the alleyway or pressing against the indention of doorframes. Akagk stayed where he was, glaring down the alleyway in apprehensive expectation. The voxcaster began squawking again in the background, being mostly ignored at the moment.

    "Greenskins hear me. You have come here to die. Your shit are scattered and our wrath is upon you. Our warmachines will pound your bones to dust and out boots with scatter them to the winds. Make you piece with whatever foul gods you will for you will soon find them to be false."

    The first Leman Russ rolled into position at the far end of the alleyway, the snub-nosed barrel of its main cannon already pointing down the length of space in Akagk’s general direction. The tank appeared to be designed for urban environments. He could hear the occupants inside shouting, presumably taking note of the pile of dead humans that lay about Akagk in varying positions. The shouting changed in pitch, which caused Akagk to quickly fall on all fours and loose a feral snarl.

    Time seemed to slow for what happened next. His muscles coiled rapidly, loosing and deploying in concert only achievable through years of perfection. His body left the ground and cast into the air. A gout of flame broke the muzzle of the Leman Russ’s cannon, casting out to herald the explosive shell that left it. It passed beneath Akagk by a mere meter, impacting the end of the alleyway and leaving a shockwave of displaced air in its wake. The explosion threw his Kroot to the ground, and caused Akagk to falter slightly on his way down… but they were alive.

    “Akagk, they have another tank positioned around the corner behind us!” The Shaper burbled sharply in the back of his throat at the mention of this, splaying his beak in anger. This was not his ideal situation. A voxcaster from one of the tanks rang loudly through the alleyway.

    “Freeze xeno scum, and we may consider allowing you to live to be test subjects for the Mechanicus!”

    “This is not what I would call an appealing alternative.” Akagk turned to his Kroot slightly. “Ready whatever explosives you have…”
     
  9. "Shas'O, activity."

    The XV25 team accompanied by their Cadre Commander clad in an XV22 Combat suit rode the skies on their jumpjets. They had kept low to the ground for the most part, swiftly making their way through rubble and debris. Whenever they came upon deep craters formed of combat, or large deposits of corpses left behind from recent battles, they activated blue ion jumpjets and rode up onto nearby roofs of habs and other structures. They would be quick to find low ground once more, however; never knew when active scanners were looking for audible traces of hidden enemies.

    The recon team had kept radio silence for the most part as they let their own scanners work. Aside from scattered remnants of both Imperials and Orkz, there was little sign of life. Every now and then they would come across humans that huddled in dark corners of alleys underneath mountains of rubble, or hidden in some of the more untouched hab structures, but they were of little consequence. If this planet had been part of the main Tau strategy, perhaps these people might have been Gue'vesa. The opportunity still existed, that is, so long as the war between Greenskins and Human didn't decimate everything.

    And so long as the oncoming swarm of the Tyranid didn't devour the world, as well.

    Shosanno wondered why they even had a Kroot scouting mission here in the first place. He began to see why, wading through the carnage that war had brought the world. He began to wonder, angrily, why the Kroot reports hadn't been more thorough. It had no worthy notes on the size of the Greenskin forces, nor had it made note of how large the incoming Tyranid-swarm was. As a matter of fact, the last time reports made any mention of Tyranids was something about an over-abundance of Genestealer reports from the Humans!

    "Feed us the coordinates," Shosanno responded duly. It was the only response he could have given.

    The active field-imaging came alive inside of his helmet and pointed him in the direction of the activity the stealthsuit operator had reported. They all honed in on the activity and Shosanno noted that the Shas'vre had been correct. There were two large columns of Human armour moving the streets, one heavier than the other. They split it into two forces and followed either column, watching as they engaged Greenskin forces with little to no trouble. Shosanno stayed on the lighter column, followed by three of the XV25's.

    "Shas'O, two of the armoured vehicles are breaking off of the main column."

    "Understood; follow them. The rest of you shall stay with the column." Shosanno gathered up the data of that specific XV25 suit, and pointed to one of the Fire casts soldiers with his team. "You will join me. The rest of you, stay with this column."

    They rocketed off, honing in on the rogue Stealthsuit that followed the stray armour elements.

    The decision proved to be a fortunate one. One of the tanks stopped at the mouth of a broad alley, turning it's turret to face down a pile of human corpses. Shosanno pondered the wisdom of this when suddenly, activity: a lone Kroot could be spotted leaping into the air just a moment before the tank belched forth its ordnance, shell impacting at the far end of the alley. Kroot began to move, and the voxcaster on one of the vehicles sounded off with Human tongue. Shosanno immediately began to translate:

    ::Freeze alien bad-guys, and we might think of your allowing life for subjection to exams by Mechanicks.::

    "It seems to me, that we have found what we are looking for. All units, fall back to my position. Do not engage until further orders." Turning to the two XV25's with him, he silently lifted an EMP Grenade from his belt, thumbed the safety, and dropped it into the alley.

    "3... 2... 1..." An explosion erupted from both ends of the alleys as the mini-barrage of EMP grenades went off, knocking out all electronics of the armour-elements below.

    Letting loose jumpjets, he rushed into the alley, stealth cloak coming down as he released dual Plasma Rifles into the top of the Leman Russ turret.
     
  10. HESPEROS, THE ULTIMA SEGMENTUM
    21st YEAR OF THE BAEL WAR


    [​IMG]

    From the depths of the Raquian Warpgate, The Precipice emerges.

    [​IMG]

    It hurtles itself into the system, its passage silent in the depths of space. On it's Bridge, Navigator Crepslius disconnects the devices that allow him to further percieve the Warp from his head, and punches the intercom device.
    "Please inform the Captain that we have arrived."

    ---​

    Minutes pass, and suddenly the doors to the Bridge grind open.
    "Crew, stand to attention!" bellows the sergeant at the doors, and as the crew all jump up to salute, I stride into the room and into it's centre.
    "Crew at ease, back to your positions," I order, and as the crew return to their posts I look to my Navigator and Pilot. "A status update please, Navigator."
    "Our passing through the Warp went smoothly, Captain. Reports show no unexpected damages and no breaches of the hull. When we next set down it will require some patching up, however. I would not wish to risk another Warp run with weak-points on our Hull; tempting the monsters that lurk there is never wise."
    "Very good. Pilot?"
    "Smooth sailing from here, sir," responds the Pilot of my vessel, Valias, "As long as we avoid the main hot-spots of the War, we should be safe. Do we have a destination in mind?"

    I look at the holographic display that shows the map of Hesperos, and stride forward to pinpoint one particular location.
    "Set course for here, and let's get there double-time. No sense staying in the air too long in this war-zone of a region, is there?"
    "Mulraye, sir?"
    "Indeed. Get it done now; we're on a deadline in this instance. If my presence is required, I shall be in my quarters."

    Turning, I stride from my Bridge, as The Precipice's engines flare up once more, powering her into Hesperos and towards her destination.

    Why chance has brought me here, I know not. But brought me here it has, and I aim to find out why.
     
  11. A palace imperceptible to mortal senses, a place constructed entirely of it's master's will rather than any know material. Hundreds of spires reached up to infinity, each one different, yet all cracked with sorcerous lightning. Within the very heart of this Impossible Fortress Sepulchris knelt before his master, his god. No words were spoken, Tzeentch simply willing Sepulchris to know his desires for him. The mage left as soon after, only silence following him.

    An unknown figure peered through a shattered window nearby, watching the drama of battle unfold. their witness thought their action, even their deaths, beautiful. Once the chaos had gone, so had he, The changer had much work from him to do and little enough time to do it in.
     
  12. There was interference on the airwaves, little sparks of static that made Commander Lazarus wince as he listened for news on Third Platoon. The tanks sent into the alleyway had been hit, and there were reports of plasma discharges. Already his Mechanicus advisors were suspecting a Tau insurgency. Lazarus's column was steaming ahead through the ruined streets and the command Chimera shook around him as it rolled over masonry and Ork bones. There must have been intereference from some of the old hab blocks. With a hiss, the Cadian Commander removed his headphones before the static got too loud.

    The his gloved hands suddenly jerked and gripped the plotting table. The sound had not stopped. And it was not coming through the headphones. It was inside his ears... and it was getting louder. Lazarus's teeth clenched hard as his mind was filled with hissing and discordant sound. He curled forward, holding onto the table as he tried to stay upright.

    "Sir?"

    He could barely hear his radio operator above the chattering.

    "SIR!"

    His vision blurred and he saw his honour guard rushing towards him, concern etched on their faces. Some of them got hold of him, while others barked orders or rushed for medipacks. But they could not help him. The Commander was alone in his mounting agony.

    And as blood began to break from his nostrils and ears, the static roar took form, modulating into a whisper... beautiful and alien... the crude words of Imperial Gothic transformed to song.

    "Be restrained this night, Man of Cadia."

    The voice was neither male nor female, but somewhere between, and each word fell and lifted like a note plucked upon a harp-string. It did not follow human pattern, the emphasis and enunciation all wrong, but somehow he felt the intellect behind it. An intellect as old as the stars.

    "All must proceed as planned. The Kroot and the Tau Champion must meet, as was fated. For they are bound now upon a journey, as are you and I."

    Blood dripped onto the plotting table. The Commander's eyes were screwed shut in pain and he could feel a guardsman either side of him, holding his shoulders as another scrambled towards the hatch and yelled outside for help.

    "Break off your pursuit, Man of Cadia, and let the Tau brothers find one another. Your victory has already been won, for see now how the Orks flee from you, their will broken and their offensive stalled. You shall retake the city and glory shall be yours. But remember, Man of Cadia, this is only the beginning. You must steel yourself for what lies ahead... the descent of the Hivefleet and the Days of the Dark Tarot."

    The whisper grew louder, as if some invisible hand was twisting the grey matter of his brain. "A shadow will devour the Hesperos Sun, and in the last days only the Tarot will shine."
     
  13. Sovereign stood upon Skarfax, He had arrived at the beginning of the day, his presence masked by the presence of the Orks. With him had come a dozen Lictors, who had now spread out into the Humboldt Spire. A deep growl escaped from Sovereign's throat as he was about to launch his attack. The sun was setting on the city he was starting his attack with, and soon his hive, his Tyranid swarm would cover the planet.

    Let the sky darken, the ground melt. Let there flesh burn, there bones break. Let them know that Atrement Autonomous has arrived to devour their precious world. These thoughts crossed through his mind and spread through His synapse creatures. As the thoughts reached the Hive Fleet in orbit Mycetic Spores rained down, speeding towards the surface. Inside was a payload deadlier than any explosive, Gaunts and Tyranid Warriors, Ravagers and Biovores. Horrors that haunted men for years were about to consume the planet

    Despite all the monstrosities about to descend upon the world, Sovereign knew his timing well. The black skin and ashen carapace of Atrement Autonomous made fighting them in the dark difficult at best. Sovereign stirred from his hiding spot, The Lictor that was nearby stirred as well. Looking outside the building he was in Sovereign sent out a single message to every mind on the planet. This planet is lost .
     
  14. Lazarus felt cold steel on his back. The voices around for here drowned out by the one in his head. Its all he could head and even as his eye was wrenched open by the medic and the Imperial Aquila held aloft on frond of his face the holy light glinting from it plunged into his pupils and its response checked the panic around him seemed to be happening to someone else for he was with the voice. The pain was unbearable and the terror of having an unknown power attack his mind forced Lazarus to act, almost out of instinct he took the fear and pain he felt and pushed it into the mind if the voice. Then it left with its promise of victory and the world fell into place as a censer was placed under his bloody nose restoring some of his contentiousness. He felt strange, weak and as he accepted the offered arm to help him sit up and a glass his hands shook. A vision promising victory. A vision commanding him to let a tau incursion go unchallenged, and a dark prophecy.

    All eyes were on him as the loss of the two tanks were reported along with encounter of ork walkers by the lead elements, no mach for imperial tanks and the fall of tyranid spores outside the city righ in the heart of the ork waaagh!

    "Continue the offensive, we will retake the city and the spaceport, once the port is cleared we will stockpile our supplies in the hardened warehouses there and hold as many landing pads as we can." he stood up shakily placing a finger in the skyshield closest to the astropath tower. He'll set up a stationary HQ here." He gripped the table with both hands as 3rd platoon's last known position was marked a known enemy ambush site to be avoided. Whatever game was afoot there was no time to play as a pawn or a king, He'd hunt the Tau once the green skins were out of the city. 'I don't know who you are.' he thought as if the voice could still hear him, maybe it could, maybe he had driven it out. 'But Hesperos will be returned to the imperium and the Bael war will end in victory, and I'll find you.'
     
  15. A Cultist held her arms outward and was lifted from the ground by an unseen force, the others around her burned with jealousy, but it was their lords choice to make not theirs. They watched in awe as her body twisted and re-shaped itself before they were all sucked in, colliding in a mass of blood and broken bones. This sphere of flesh hovered and spun while bolts of arcane energy, It condensed with a sickening crunch while more cultists, standing in a spetogram, slit their own throats. Their blood flowed from their veins towards the center then upwards, beneath the spinning ball of mutating flesh. When the two met an explosion of arcane energy rocked the hidden temple, and from the blinding light stepped Tzeentch's court mage.

    "Now-" He paused for a moment seeing his seven deceased cultists "This just won't do" He held his crystalline staff before him, and touched his free hand to it's tip. he concentrated the magical energy and withdrew it from the staff. "With this spark" seven beams shot from his hand to each of the dead cultists "I create life" their bodies lit up and the light shifted to new forms, some cloaked and hooded, others like twisted animals. "Excellent! The Changer has work for us" his new familiars disguised themselves just as he did, seeming like harmless pets or articles of clothing.

    This Planet is Lost, He heard the psychic projection in his mind and laughed at the Irony of the situation. How right you are he responded, his warp granted powers identifying the sender.
     
  16. On the northern edge of Humboldt Spire, the enemy had overrun the Cathedral of Asellion. Roughly two hundred citizens, who had attended Morning Mass in defiance of the curfew, had now become the victims of the Ork raid. They hadn't expected the Greenskins to get this far, but this particular warband was led by Gundrok, a Blood Axe Boss who specialised in this kind of deep raid. The tall, grizzled Ork cradled his shoota to his chest as he watched his boyz pick apart the bodies of the humans. The Death Skullz were taking whatever weapons they could find, while the Goffs had begun feasting on the softer corpses and fighting each other for bones. The din of Ork grunts and snarls echosed between the stainglass windows and cavernous vaults of the cathedral.

    "Roit you lot!" the Boss roared from his position at the blood-drenched lecturn, "Git yer 'eads togeva! We ain't stayin'!"

    "An' why not?" yelled one of the Goff Nobz, rising from between the pews and holding a bundle of intensines. "We got shelta and we got meat!"

    "Da humies'll be 'ere soon!" glared Gundrok, facing down his subordinate.

    "Let 'em cum!" retorted the Nob, winning growls of agreement from the other Goffs. "We'll 'ave 'em a..."

    The Ork's head exploded, brain and skullbone spattering the pews around him. As the decapitated body dropped, the other Orks thought for a moment that the Boss had executed him for mutiny... but then they looked at Gundrok and realised that he was just as surprised as they were...

    The painboy next to Gundrok was lifted off his feet, a round tearing through his throat and piercing the masonry of the cathedral. As the second Ork fell, Gundrok looked up, and his Boyz followed his gaze to the stainglass window.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z77-NKDl4aY


    Perched on the ledge, hundreds of feet above, the Eldar Ranger reloaded and loosed another shot, the sniper round tearing into the lectern in front of Gundrok. The warboss threw himself into cover and roared the order to attack. All at once the Orks on the congregration floor swung their shootas upwards, locking sights on the Ranger...

    ...who promptly disappeared in a flurry of feathers.

    Like a dozen pigeons startled, the winged Eldar dropped from the shadows of the rafters, swooping low across the chamber between the Orks and the Ranger. A web of lasfire scorched the hides of the Greenskins, infuriating them at best but buying the necessary time. A half-second later, before the Orks could regroup, grenades dropped like hailstones from beneath the wings of Swooping Hawks. Pillars of fire and smoke erupted across the chamber and the world was thrown into chaos.

    "Get sum Meks in 'ere!" Gundrok shouted as he drew his axe and darted towards the nearest group of Kommandos. But he had barely reached them when they were torn apart, their bodies sprouting monofilament wire like some strange disease. The shapes of Warp Spiders flickered in and out of sight around them, leaving blood like mist, and in a few seconds his elite had evaporated.

    The east windows of the cathedral were pierced and a wailing chorus eclipsed the Ork roars, as if some phantom choir had risen from the catacombs. Gundrok saw the whole left flank of his warband reel from the deafening sound and stumble back from a line of charging maidens with horror-struck masks. Then more blood, leaping in a macabre dance.

    There was noise from the courtyard and tremors as explosive chain-reactions joined with Orkish screams. His Meks were being torn apart by whistling projectiles and the light from the windows was broken now and then by sleek and rapid shapes. The west wall seemed to be melting, the stone glowing red hot and starting to lose its shape.

    Snarling, the Warboss threw himself into the fight, hacking at the slender shapes that were pouring through the east breach. The Goffs were being taken apart piece by piece, Banshees and Striking Scorpions dancing around them. Gundrok brought one down with his axe, the Scorpion spitting searing metal even as he fell. The Boss's shoulder was cut open by the mandiblaster and he stagged, roaring at his Boyz to get organised. Some of the smarter ones took up position around him, and with a hail of shoota fire they drove back the close-combat troops.

    Just as the Eldar had planned.

    With their backs to the southern window, the Orks did not see the Grav Tank rising into view until it was too late. Then the great circluar window shattered and a pulse lazer cut a swathe through their lines. Gundrok fell between the pews, his back horribly burned, and the world began to spin. The northern doors had been thrown open and Black Guardians were pouring in, led by Dire Avenger champions. The air became awash with shurikens and the Orks were shredded by the dozens. And to the west, the wall had finally melted, a dozen holes opening in the stone. Fire Dragons stepped through the breaches, escorting a single figure wreathed in smoke.

    He would not be beaten yet. Gundrok took his axe in both hands and pushed to his feet. There were about seven of his boyz still with him, and that was all he needed to turn the fight. With a final warcry he led the charge towards the Black Guardians...

    ...and took only two steps.

    Bolts of eldritch flame shot across the cathedral floor. The Orks around him were caught in the tendrils, their bodies jerking as their lifeforce was ripped away. Gundrok felt his legs erupt with pain and he crashed onto his knees as the lightning tore apart the last of his boyz. He howled and swayed, wide eyes glaring ahead even as he bled.

    From behind the Fire Dragons, a single enemy approached, his outstretched hand channelling the arcs of eldritch fire.

    Farseer Alo'Kine Nebuwihn strode to within arm's length of the kneeling, crippled Ork, his expression unreadable behind a bone-white mask. The hand casting the Eldritch Storm lowered, leaving the cathedral in deathly silence, while the other hand extended. Gundrok felt the Farseer's slender hand touch his cheek, an act of almost alien pity.

    But that was not all he felt. There was the rough protrusions of a scar on the Farseer's left palm and, as it moved across his cheek, Gundrok felt the sand - thousands of grains - falling on his neck and shoulders and scattering in the breeze.

    Then the witchblade pierced his belly, and he felt no more.


    Kicking the Ork aside, Farseer Nebuwihn looked up to the shattered south window and waved his hand at the Grav Tank and hovering jetbikes. His forces acknowledged and began moving in, the rest of the Strikeforce entering the cathedral and clearing the graveyard of Orks and Humans. The Aspect Warriors took up defensive positions, while the Scouts and Swooping Hawks returned to their vantage points.

    All was ready.

    "What troubles you, Alo-Kine?" asked the voice of a Warlock, who stood a little way off from the Farseer.

    Nebuwihn shivered, shaking his head and stooping to wipe the blood from his witchblade. "The human leader was powerful - more than any other of his kind. I felt his fear - the fear he placed within me... just as I feel the voice of the coming Hive Lord."

    "It is as we both foresaw," the Warlock answered. "You are being drawn to one another, though all the world will crack with pain."

    Nebuwihn turned to watch his retinue of Wraithguard enter through the main archway. The spirit-machines were moving slowly in solemn march and between them they carried a box... an oval bulk of wraithbone studded with spirit stones. It was about the size of a coffin, and the other Eldar watched in silence as the Wraithguards carried it towards the inner sanctum of the cathedral.

    "Let us pray we still have time," uttered the Farseer, before following the coffin.
     
  17. Unknowing of the conflict in the cathedral the imperial warmachine ground on. the ancient building with its high windows commanded an unprecedented field of fire. Its thick walls were to be the symbol of hope and the linchpin in an expanding imperial defensive ring, the rock the green tide would beat itself to a standstill against. At least that was the plan.

    The weapons teams responsible for it's defense and the guardsmen and engineers assigns to support them were at the rear of the advancing mechanized column as it wound through the streets choked with the debris left by ork artillery fire. But now new terrors lurked in the shadows. Silhouettes of gaunts barely glimpsed among the rubble as the transports pushed forwards. Then the cathedral came into view a pal of smoke poring from its many windows the stained glass depictions of Sanguinus and the god emperor shattered and the war machine ground to a halt.

    Far away in a baneblade once known as Divine Arrogance but now under the name of Goldon Toof keen eyes surveyed the blasted cityscape. On its gaudily painted hull a haphazardly constructed plow in the image of a jaw sported a jagged array of spikes one of which was painted an even brighter yellow than the rest of the looted tank.

    “Why we gots to stay ‘ere then?” One of the crew complained. “Deres umies all over da place in da city jus waitin to be squished.”

    ”Cos squigbrain da ‘umies are on dere way ‘ere, only dey dun know we know so we gets to make noice piles of scrap outta dere puny tanks ready fer lootin.” Mek Sparkwelda growled in response. ”Now get back to crankin.”

    A second later the entire tank shook as a metal plated boot struck the side of the cabin. “Tankbustas you sleepin or wot? Heh hehe heh.” he bellowed as a head emerged from the side sponson where a heavy bolter once resided. “Better now keep your…….”

    The sponson disappeared on a spray of dirt and the tankbusta squealed the near miss sending dirt and stone shards frying into the side of the Golden Toof. ”DAS MORE LOIK IT!” Sparkwelda bellowed mirthfully his hand reaching for the lever that controller the tank’s speed. Belching great clouds of toxic smoke the Golden Toof slowly picked up speed as more shells impacted around it as the tankbusta retaliated with a cluster of rockets and a shaken fist.

    “5th Squadron get around them I want that tank’e engine torn right out of it’s hull. 2nd and 3rd squadrons keep up your attacks keep their attention on you.” There was a deafening explosion as the baneblade fired its main gun and one of the tanks was thrown sideways its starboard side little more than a gaping hole. “Use the buildings damn you don’t let them get a target.”

    Inside the command vehicle the vox caster buzzed with activity. “Iron fists are reporting unknown enemy activity near the cathedral and are holding back for further orders. Enemy descriptions match neither known ork nor tyranid profiles.“ Lavarus turned sharply from the periscope from where he has been watching the tank battle “possible heavy vehicles. “Tell them to dig in where they are and await my arrival.” His mind flashed to the voice that had invaded his mind, if this was their work he wanted to watch them die himself. “We’ll take our two remaining demolishers with us they’ll do no good against the ork armour. Driver! Take us to their position.”
     
  18. What could be best described as a laugh emanated from Sovereign as the first Mycetic Spores crashed to the surface. Sepulchris's thoughts entered Sovereign's mind as he sent them.

    So, Sovereign sent back, This one, slave of a god, thinks he can challenge a mind freed from an indomitable will? You are a fool Sepulchris, if you would fight an enemy you do not understand.

    This thought ended a spore crashed into the buildings opposite of sovereign, but by the time the dust cleared nothing was there but the empty husk of the spore. The payload of ravagers had already burrowed beneath the city.

    Still, Sovereign sent to Sepulchris, you still do have some time before this world ends, let me see what you can do in that time.