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 Trueborn - completed

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Thor665
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PostSubject: Trueborn - completed   Wed Aug 31 2011, 05:38

Chapter 1: The Wait - A squad of Reaver Jetbikes wait in ambush and consider their prey's attack on a merchant consortium.
Chapter 2: The Hunt - The Reavers attack, and high speed war is waged above the streets of Commoragh
Chapter 3: The Decision - Kyssindree is questioned and her place in the world is questioned more.
Chapter 4: The Old Fiend - Tael's first encounter with the Hellions, and a journey completes.
Chapter 5: The Tunnel - Kyssindree races with Hellions and recalls a bit of her own past.
Chapter 6: The Archon - a glimpse at Tael's chosen foe at rest, as well as bank withdrawals, Dark Eldar style!
Chapter 7: The Murder - Tael and Kyssindree have murder on their minds, but will they be caught in their own trap?
Chapter 8: The Escape - A Battle with Bloodbrides, an escape, and a worse fate?
Chapter 9: The Nightmare - The only fight you cannot win is the one inside your own mind.
Chapter 10: The Fleshcrafter - When one is almost dead in Commoragh there's only one place to go.
Chapter 11: The Betrayal - Ben'rik finally makes his move to reclaim the gang.
Chapter 12: The Party - Amidst betrayal and murder, the party must go on!
Chapter 13: The Death of Tael - Part 1 - Tael dies.
Chapter 14: The Alliance - Tael gathers forces for the final battle.
Chapter 15: The Invitation - Obessa and Zak flirt while Ben'rik and Wren go shopping.
Chapter 16: The Clothier - There is no point to revenge, if you don't look good while taking it.
Chapter 17: The Masquerade - it's a party, and all and sundry are attending, invited or not.
Chapter 18: The Red Sands - Kyssindree dances.
Chapter 19: The Race - Obessa remembers, and makes a choice.
Chapter 20: The Rescue - on the red sands treachery, blood, glory, and death are the only absolutes.
Chapter 21: The Death of Tael - Part 2 - Tael dies.
Chapter 22: The End - As the ash settles and the blood dries, the Dark City moves forward.

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Chapter 1 : The Wait
Purple lightning arced through the sky overhead, the harsh actinic flash seared across Kyssindree’s eyes, causing her to squint slightly in the brief flare. Her azure tinted lips quirked slightly into a frown as she cast her sharp gaze up into the skies. The storms of the Maerett Rift were legendary across all of Commoragh, the uncertain bonds of the webway were weakened here and the black skies were always filled with thundering storm heads. The first few sprinkles of icy edged rain began to pelt down in swirling sheets, dancing wildly down from the black sky to slice like a shower of knives across the razor spired roofs of the ancient towers and bastions that cluttered the rift. The rain slapped sharply against her skintight black bodysuit, the thin material and few armored plates offering her little protection versus the biting chill of the inky water.

“This bodes ill,” came the gravelly hiss of Obessa. Kyssindree glanced over at her second in command. Like herself, Obessa was casually resting in the saddle of a Reaver Jetbike. The anti-gravity engines hummed softly, creating a soft ripple amongst the now rain slicked black stone beneath them. The broad shouldered woman flicked her topknot of sleek purple hair away from her pallid face as she motioned to the growing storm conditions. Her voice was hoarse and croaked roughly, a side effect of an ill-conceived bit of stunt flying through a flock of razorwings. “The rain and mist will hurt visibility and lessen our speed advantage.”

“You say that as though this will be a challenge,” sighed Tevlin. Kyssindree’s eyes flicked across his lean body as he stretched it out languidly in the rain. Unlike the other two he lay prone in his saddle, his feet crossed and resting on his control panel, his hands clasped behind his head as he rested it against the base of one of the many curved blades that jutted from the hull of his bike. He caught her regarding him and smirked, he was a gorgeous creature and knew it well. “What do you say, Kyss? I predict this to be the easiest job this month, storm or no.”

“It is unwise to underestimate your opponent,” offered Obessa with a croaked snarl.

“It is unwise to underestimate yourself as well,” Tevlin countered, “though in your case I can understand why you make that assessment.”

“They have been using better tactics than most Hellion raiders,” Kyssindree offered.

Indeed, the trade consortium that had hired her and her squadron had spoken quite grimly about the current raids. The Hellion gangs were always a threat to any trade convoys that passed through one of their territories, which was nothing new. But the Black Shift Trading Consortium had been systematically attacked multiple times within the past three months by the exact same Hellion gang, a group known as The Howlers. Indeed, the attacks had become persistent enough, and had cost Black Shift Consortium so many goods, slaves, and soldiers that they had actually come begging to the arenas of the Wych Cults to seek aid in dealing with the attacks, they had even been forced to call in special favors to attain the attention of the Cult.

Which, of course, was why Kyssindree and her squad were here.

“I wager we handle them within three passes, offered Tevlin. Obessa sneered at him but turned away. Kyssindee however considered his offer. Three passes was a relatively safe wager, all things considered, but she had heard some tales of this Hellion gang. Their tactics were better than the usual befuddled rush of bodies and blades that most gangers of The Dark City used, and she had read the reports of what had happened to the last batch of guards that Black Shift Consortium had hired.

“Wager accepted, it will take more than three passes.”

“The terms?”

“You know my terms,” she shoved the sodden strands of some of her wild black hair away from her face as she smirked at his glistening wet bodysuit, which hid precious little of his form.

“Agreed then”.

“And if you win?”

“Same terms, but I get to use the whip, ” he smiled easily at her, his eyes flashing.

“Hmmmm, you wish.”

It was another ten minutes before the trade transports hove into sight. Fresh from the slave auctions at the docks two sectors over they were using the Maerett Rift as a shortcut back to their trade house where the slaves would be slated for sale to the finest of connoisseurs, for Black Shift Consortium was well known for its ability to provide exotic specimens for their discerning clientele.

The three transport ships loosely resembled fat bodied barges, sporting glistening Aethersails emblazoned with the curved jagged emblem of the Consortium. The dark sails flapped sharply in the gusting, stormy weather, sending cascades of water spiraling across the decks. Wide open decks were each patrolled by a dozen cloaked forms of Hrud mercenaries, gripping their long rifles anxiously as they scanned the spires and ruins around them. A single Eladrith Ynneas, a Dark Eldar, like herself, stood at the helm of each barge. They wore the crimson gilded armor and black robes that showed them as officers of Black Shift Consortium. Their steely gaze held to their course as they effortlessly guided the soaring barges through the twisted maze of the rift. From the metal grills set in the decks of the barges Kyssindree could hear the pained moans, and fearful whimpering cries of the prisoners. She allowed herself a slight moment to appreciate the sound before turning herself back to business.

This area of Maerett Rift was the obvious strike point. It had been consumed in some inter-Kabal war, when an enterprising Archon had thought to challenge the decadent, inbreed, debaucheries of House Maerett. The Noble House had promptly shown the impudent upstart what it meant to challenge his betters. Now the fallen Archon’s name was forgotten, though his folly was not, and House Maerett had left the shattered and burnt out remains of his fortress as a warning to others. Now these shattered fortresses and pleasure palaces served as a warren’s nest of blind ends, dark crevices, and ample cover for any force looking to ambush a trade convoy…or to ambush those self-same ambushers, thought Kyssindree with a wicked grin of self-satisfaction.

“There.” Obessa’s croaked warning was hardly needed. Kyssindree’s deck panel had lit up with spotting warnings from her other hidden riders. She sat up straighter as she peered out of the dark crevice she and the others were hidden is as she watched The Howlers attack.

They came on like a flock of venom bats, swirling up from below where they had clearly been hiding amongst the labyrinth of pipes, service ducts, and jagged defense spires. They were strapped to Hellion skyboards, razor edged, rocket propelled, antigravity platforms which they steered by a mix of shifting their precarious balance and foot activated thrust studs. All that held them in place was their own feet and hands, and a thin length of chain strapped around their hips and hooked onto a fragile rim piece.

As with most Hellion gangers they wore tattered and mismatched uniforms dyed in their particular gang color of blood red, painted runes announced their name in jagged Eldar script upon the bladed keels of their boards. Gripped in their hands were a variety of weapons, but most predominantly the jagged, hook edged, double-bladed, Hellglaive. It was a distinctive weapon that the gangers favored for its adaptability as both a weapon and steering aid. Most had painted their faces with blood, or wore face masks decorated with stylized, jagged tooth designs. Other gangers went bare faced, though as they opened their mouths to howl their war cries it was apparent they had chosen to sharpen their own teeth into razor keenness to mirror the face mask designs.

Coming up from underneath the trade barges was slightly unusual as a Hellion tactic, as usually the crazed gangers preferred to descend from above in a mad rush, unleashing a spray of suppressing fire from their board’s splinter pod guns before barreling into a whirling melee.

However, such an attack would have allowed ample time for even the dimwitted and slow Hrud to manage to send up a fusillade of return fire that would have torn through the gang’s ranks. Instead, by coming from below the Hellions were shielded from most of the barge’s guns by the sheer bulk of their slave holds. Such it was that the Hrud panicked and dashed around, leaning over the sides of the barges and firing haphazardly and ineffectually at the quickly approaching Hellions.

Kyssindree could have easily ordered her squad into action, but the Consortium had foolishly worded their contract with her Cult. They had been hired to kill the Hellions who attacked the trade ships. There had been no mention of doing so in any manner to protect the mercenaries and handlers upon them. Besides, it was always educational to know a little bit about your enemy and their fighting methods prior to the attack.

With a roar of both engines and glee the Hellions burst up over the edges of the ships. Their Hellglaives flickered and flashed in the light of the arcing lightning overhead. Hrud unleashed warbling screams of pain as limbs and heads were shorn from their bodies. Each batch of Hellions had clearly been given a clear target to attack, and Kyssindree watched as they executed almost a simultaneous decapitation of each of the three barge masters, their fellow Hellions howling in approval at the sight as though simply enjoying a pleasing afternoon in the arena. They were clearly well drilled, competent, and worked deadly efficient as a unit. The pouring rain mixed with the blood soaked decks, sluicing sheets of red water to dribble off the decks as the Hellions began to land upon their captured prizes. The whole battle had taken a matter of a few breaths.

“By the Dark Muses,” Tevlin actually sat up and gave the slightest hint of surprise on his face, though it quickly vanished when he saw her looking at him. “Well, I suppose someone in that rabble actually understands basic tactics.”

“Three passes,” she reminded him with a laugh as she thumbed the activator switch for her jetbike, the engine howling to full life from idle in a millisecond. Her bike surged forward out of the shattered crevice and out into the open air and she let out an excited warcry that echoed the eager wail of her engines.
This hunt would be good.


Last edited by Thor665 on Wed Dec 19 2012, 18:52; edited 26 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Aug 31 2011, 14:49

Very good read, I really liked it! I really liked how you didnt explain everything and kind of let the reader connect the dots themselves. I can't wait to read the see the rest!
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Oct 05 2011, 05:54

Chapter 2 : The Hunt

As Kyssindree shot out into the full force of the pouring rain she reached up and slapped the ingestion stud on her combat drug dispenser. The small black box hummed reassuringly against her breast as a bright green liquid started to pump through the tubes that connected to some of her major veins. Almost immediately a pleasing sharpness came over her. Nerves felt electric and taunt, despite the blinding speed of her jetbike it was as though each individual raindrop slowed to a crawl allowing her to regard their crystal perfection as she plummeted downward, and her senses, the smells and sounds of the battle each became razor sharp and clear.

There was an annoying tightness in her lower back and a slight acidic tang in her mouth though, probably Obessa hadn’t purchased the top grade stuff and pocketed the difference. Oh well, Green Fire was still the drug of choice for battle in Kyssindree’s mind, and she used her heightened senses to focus in on her prey.

The Hellions almost seemed to move in slow motion as they realized the danger approaching them. From all across the Rift came the howling roar of Reaver Jetbikes as the rest of her squadron burst from hiding and opened their engines to full throttle as they moved in for the kill. Kyssindree’s bike slashed through the storm swept sky, knifing through the water in a glittering sheen leaving a rent trail behind her of open air as the water sprayed off the razored blades of her bike’s chassis.

The Howlers reacted well for the rabble they were. Many of them had not dismounted from their boards for the looting action and these spun up into the air in an attempt to meet the Wych Cult’s charge.
The Hellions began firing salvos from their splinter pods, the twin guns cracking sharply amongst the mixed roaring screeches of skyboard and jetbike engines. Their aim was rushed though, their focus uncertain, and Kyssindree laughed as she easily guided her bike through their salvos, dodging amongst the razor tipped shots as easily as one might avoid trees while strolling through the forest. One of the Hellions had clearly been targeting her and Kyssindree grinned wickedly as she explicitly pointed him out, calling her kill.

She juked her bike over, suddenly dropping below his field of fire before pulling back on her elevator toggle and sending her bike shooting almost straight vertical. With an almost contemptuous twist of her wrist she sent the bike into a slight corckscrew that was timed perfectly to allow two of her bladevanes to slice up neatly between his legs and slash open both of his thighs while leaving him and his board otherwise unscathed.

She let out an undulating cry of victory that almost perfectly mirrored the horrid wail of her bike’s vanes as the wind, water, and blood sluiced over them. She executed her traditional side shift vane back loop which was well known in the arenas as signifying her pleasure in the kill. The Hellion, meanwhile, howled in discordant pain, the sweet flavor of it filling her with joy, his femoral arteries sprayed blood in a beautiful twin arc across his inner thighs as he toppled backward off his skyboard to plummet down into the darkness below.

To her side she watched Obessa plow inartistically into another Hellion, simply impaling him with the prow blade of her bike and shredding him apart in a shower of gore that caked her features. Such lack of elegance was why Obessa would always be condemned to secondary status. She killed too quickly, not allowing anyone to savor or enjoy the kill, nor for the appropriate amount of agony to swell within the victim. Tevlin, meanwhile, had just beheaded another Hellion in a beautiful inverted decapitation that left the ganger’s body operating off stunned muscle memory to still attempt to steer the skyboard for a few bemusing milliseconds. Tevlin caught her watching him and executed his imperious and showy hands free corckscrew as he bowed in acceptance of her gaze.

The man was infuriating, but their future with the whip, however it went, promised to be most enjoyable. She was going to have to be mindful of him soon though, he clearly was of the desire and capability to lead the squadron.

Even as Kyssindree angled down towards two more Hellions a variety of warning signals on her bike’s display field. She had just lost all three of the riders on her right flank! She snapped her gaze up, eyes narrowed in anger and then rising in surprise. More Hellions had appeared, diving down out of the arching spiked spires overhead. The Howlers had kept over half their forces in reserve, and were now ambushing her squadron.

“Reposition for fresh charge, full burn, sixth evesun angle.” Her orders were short and clipped as she hauled on her control yoke and snapped her jetbike over to face the new onslaught. Opening her throttle to maximum she hurtled forward. Her bikes had better ranged firepower than the Hellions, but she had always preferred to rely on speed and skill over cowardly range dancing like some Scourge. The rain pelted against her in driving sheets, each drop hitting like an edged bullet, the sharp flashes of pain heightening her senses. Her jetbike slashed through the pouring water, parting it like a silvery curtain as she cut a horizontal tear through the sheets of water.

The lead Hellion, a tall and well shouldered male with a long topknot of white hair lifted his glaive in a mock salute at her as he and his fellows suddenly turned tail and plunged downwards, seeking safety and escape from her vengeance. A white hot lance of anger pulsed through her and she adjusted up her drug flow as she motioned to her squadron before diving after the fleeing Hellions. Buildings blurred past her as she accelerated straight down, balconies, twisted and charred murals, and shattered spires flitted past her in wild disarray as gravity pushed her bike past even its own usually impressive speed limits.

Her sharp eyes spotted the white topknot amongst his gaggle of men and she sneered at him. His disrespect would not go unpunished. Hellions were fast, no question, but the speed of a Reaver Jetbike on full burn with an experienced rider was unparalleled. A light brush of her hand on a control sphere snapped her bladevanes out to their widest configuration. She let out her undulating war cry as she torqued her control rod sharply and sheared the wings off two skyboards in one sharp move. The riders upon the boards howled in terror as they were cast aside, spinning wildly out of control and losing all speed. Behind her she could clearly hear their screams suddenly end as some of her fellow riders shredded them apart with quick slashes of their bladevanes.

Her squad was running three seconds behind her, she calculated. An egregious distance for proper combat formation, she would have to properly discipline them for their failure to pursue their quarry with appropriate haste. She didn’t throttle back at all though, not with white topknot mere meters ahead of her. She adjusted her arc, planning to slice off his ear with her first pass as a show of contempt.
Then he entered the fog layer.

In a matter of a second the whole scope of the battlefield changed. The rain plummeting from above had hit warm thermals rising from below and had blossomed into a thick miasma of hazy fog. Behind her Kyssindree heard the sounds of over half of her squadron banking off, adjusting their plummet so they didn’t plow into the misty obstruction. She could well hear the high pitched whine of Obessa’s bike leading the turn, and cursed her second for her usual overcautious display.

In the next instant a sudden blossom of orange fire lit the clinging fog bank like a miniature sun. One of the bikers who had followed her in had run straight into a narrow metal walkway stretched between two buildings. He hadn’t even the time to scream, as his bike exploded, lighting the fog momentarily and allowing Kyssindree a chance to see what they had been led into.

Below her were dozens of walkways, arcing pipes, shattered support buttresses, and glistening black thermal conduits. Directly in her path was one such conduit, the huge obsidian metal sheet of its outer wall almost blocking her view of where the Hellions were as she accelerated towards it at a suicidal pace. Cursing, she cut her thrust, swung hard to the left, and suddenly applied the accelerator once again, performing an almost perfect ninety degree turn within the matter of one of her drug quickened heartbeats.

“Drop to combat speed,” she ordered over the line, “skirmish deployment, find and kill them all.”
Even as she spoke she spotted Tevlin ahead of her, neatly slicing apart the spine of a Hellion trying to twist out of the way. He saw her approach and quickly looped around to form up with her. A single gesture from him indicated he had seen three more Hellions head into a narrow gap between two buildings. She nodded at him and shot forward, easily maneuvering through the web-like maze of pipes, walls, and other obstructions.

The Hellion leader had been clever, with limited visibility and increased obstacles the Reavers were forced to give up their speed advantage, which would allow the Hellions to make better use of their superior numbers. Thankfully, Kyssindree thought, she and hers had been trained for years within the arenas of the Wych Cults, they were well capable of handling rabble like Hellion gangers even if disadvantaged and outnumbered.

Ahead of her she spotted the flurry of the fog that showed something had passed through it at great speed but moments before. She edged her bike on faster, perhaps pushing the boundaries of safety, but she still knifed through the obstructions, evading each one with but centimeters to spare and milliseconds of time to react to the next. Tevlin’s laughter could be felt, if not heard, as he easily kept pace with her, as excited for the hunt as she. In moments her reckless maneuvers were rewarded as they arced over a crumbled obsidian statue to spot the white topknot Hellion leader as he guided his board along at a breakneck pace through the alley ahead of them.

Both Tevlin and she pointed, calling out the kill at the same time, and Kyssindree allowed a wicked laugh of pleasure to roll through her as they both accelerated forward, intent on the kill. As they approached an ornate lift tube they splint up, she going to the right of it and he the left.

There was a moment of realization from her that the white topknot had glanced back to regard them carefully as he had approached the lift tube.

Reacting on instinct and a primal gut feel she corkscrewed her bike and slapped at the control sphere that would pull her bladevanes into a tighter defensive position. Even as she did two Hellions suddenly swept down from above, Hellglaives in their hands. She had angled perfectly, whether through luck or training to block the swing of the one with the eyepatch, her bladevane slashing across his chest, splitting open meat and bone with the same razor edged ease and opening his chest cavity for the world to witness.

The second Hellion, a whipcord thin female with a wild mop of red hair plastered wetly to her face, had a better angle. Her glaive swept down, the hooked end coming in perfectly to snag Kyssindree’s eyesocket and rip her skull open. The drugs sang in Kyssindree’s system as she twisted in her seat, slamming her head painfully against one of her bladevanes and slicing open her own shoulder upon the razor sharp edge. The Hellglaive hissed past her face, so close she could feel the snap of the air and smell the tangy odor of the darksteel blade. Then she was gone, racing forward once again and struggling to regain smooth control of her bike.

The next few seconds were a hurried frenzy, architectural outcrops, thorny masses of razorvine, steel piping, all came and went in a blurred rush as she brought her bike out of its inverted position and stabilized herself again. Pulling at the control yoke she felt a fresh spurt of blood come from her shoulder and hissed in pain, feeling a flush of agony and excitement wash through her in equal measure. The wound was mostly superficial, but could stiffen up and slow her reflexes, which was tantamount to death for a Reaver pilot.

Behind her the wiry, red head Hellion continued the chase. In the narrow alley with the accursed clinging fog the skyboard was capable of keeping full pace with the larger jetbike, and the splinter pods on the board were unleashing a hail of splinter rounds at her, bright blue sparks erupting from her vehicle’s hull as the razor sharp poison crystals ricocheted off the gleaming black metal.
Ahead of her she could see Tevlin closing in on the white topknot Hellion, lining up his bike as he prepared to split the Hellion’s head in half while leaving it connected to the neck. She growled, unsure whether to feel pleased pleasure for the death of her foe, or annoyed frustration at being denied her kill.

The Hellion was doomed, he cast a quick glance over his shoulder and must have clearly assessed this. She wished she could see the fear on his face, but he wore a blood red scarf wrapped around his lower face and nose and so all could be seen were his pale blue eyes as he regarded his incoming doom. Tevlin had even raised a hand in a jaunty salute to her as he claimed the prize. The Hellion’s eyes went forward again and he braced his feet, preparing for his coming demise.

Then they approached a low hanging spur of metal piping. Kyssindree smirked at the pathetic attempt to lengthen his life for even an instant, made worse because he wasn’t even going to fly close enough to the pipe to force Tevlin to even adjust his course.

The Hellion’s glaive suddenly snapped upward, perfectly hooking onto the pipe as he braced his body tautly against it, shoving his armored shoulderplate onto the haft of his bladed weapon. As the hook took hold of the pipe it worked as a fulcrum, and his careening skyboard as the motive force, spinning him suddenly in an upward turn that would otherwise be impossible to execute on the clunky skyboard. Tevlin looked up in open mouthed shock as his prey spun away from him.

But then he spun back, not releasing his firm grip on his Hellglaive the Hellion continued the rotation, spinning a full three-hundred and sixty degrees in a dizzyingly fast loop, the Reaver jetbike passing underneath him before he spun around to suddenly be behind it, the prey becoming the predator. Pulling a sharp twist of his weapon he popped it free of the pipe and suddenly the other end snapped forward in a blinding flash, perfectly splitting open Tevlin’s head in the exact manner he had intended for the Hellion. Even as she watched Tevlin’s proud features split asunder, his grey matter spraying outward as his bike spun out of control and spiraled into the depths, Kyssindree was forced to hold back a shout of exultation at such a beautifully performed and artistically sarcastic execution, it would have earned a moment of approved cheering in even the most jaded of arena crowds.

Unfortunately, in her excitement she allowed her attention to falter for a moment, and in that moment the red-haired Hellion’s glaive tore downwards, puncturing into the engine compartment of her Reaver and tearing out its innards.

A shuddering juke tore through it, as the usual artistic howl of her bike became a warbled and confused shriek. Kyssindree hung on tight, pulling at the controls as she scanned the area below her for a safe landing spot. She spotted an arching walkway with a twisted iron balustrade along one side; though its middle had been torn asunder she believed it would be possible to treat it as an abbreviated runway.
The initial impact was jarring and she felt blood fill her mouth as she bit through her lower lip. She twisted her bike to the side, forcing the bladevane there to begin catching and tearing at the balustrade, using the twisted black metal to slow her forward momentum. Sparks flew up around her in shrieking clouds mixed with showers of inky black water, and pieces of her bike hissed past her face, tearing into her flesh in razor slivers as they were shredded to bits.

Seeing her speed was too much she drew forth her dueling knife and quickly slashed through her restraint harness. She sprang to her feet, balancing precariously on the seat of the bike before leaping backwards off it. She hit the stone hard, hearing the certain kindle dry snap of one of her ribs. Still going at a near breakneck pace she tumbled end over end, using every trick she knew to prevent her skull from being cracked open like an egg or to roll and prevent her flesh from being scrapped to the bone in seconds. Moments later she slid and rolled to an unceremonious stop, battered, bruised, broken, and bloody, but alive. With a croaking and uncertain groan the bike shot off the walkway and back into open space, flipping end over end as it plummeted into the depths below.

Above her she heard a soft purring noise and forced her eyes open. The icy rain still fell on her in sheets, stinging her eyes and blurring her vision. But she could see the slowly descending shaped of multiple Hellions. Crouched upon their skyboards, their hooked glaives in their hands, and fanged grins on their leering faces, they descended towards her slowly and purposefully. With a grunt and a lot of effort born more from pride than rational desire she pushed herself up into a sitting position and raised her dueling knife menacingly.

White topknot floated not a dozen feet above her, his glaive still dripping with Tevlin’s blood as rain pinged off its hard and gleaming surface. He looked down at her. His pale eyes regarded her carefully for a moment and he let out a soft chuckle.

“I’ll finish her,” the sharp comment came from the raggedy red-head, who even now started to raise her weapon and move in, but, at a single gesture from the leader, she stopped. The female Hellion looked at him in confusion as he continued to eye Kyssindree. Then he nodded, a decision having been reached.

“Bring her.”

The red-head’s face went stony cold in confusion and anger, but she nodded in agreement as she motioned the Hellions forward. They descended towards her, one of them unslinging a stunclaw as he came, the barbed tool humming with power as he moved towards her.
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Oct 05 2011, 11:40

Awesome....

just awesome.

It reads like watching a movie!

I demand MOAR! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Oct 05 2011, 16:01

Thank you very much.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Oct 05 2011, 19:19

Good stuff! I don't even like reading that much, but this had me hooked! Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Oct 05 2011, 20:25

Wow, awesome praise - I hope I manage to maintain at the same quality for you.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Oct 06 2011, 09:47

You did. The flow of the story is great. It really has the feel of riding a reaver... first at slow pace and then full speed.
I could actually see the raindrops bursting off that tight body-armour.
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Oct 06 2011, 19:14

What they said and then some! Great Writing better even than a lot of black library authors.
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Oct 13 2011, 08:46

I have been anticipating reading this all week while I have finished off other projects and chores, but tonight I finally got to sit down and read it, slowly absorbing it with a wee dram in hand.

And I was not disappointed even one, teeny-weeny bit. As Lazarus said, you're writing would seem to be better than some of the BL stuff that I have read. Beautifully paced and not at all pedantic, this captures well the emotions of the DE and the feel of the combat and it's locale. I could see everything quite clearly in my mind.

Moar sir, MOAR!


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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Oct 13 2011, 19:23

Wow, thank you everyone. You're all saying such nice things I really ought to get off my duff and finish proofing Chapter 3 and finish writing Chapter 4.

Thank you very much!

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Oct 27 2011, 05:11

Chapter 3: The Decision


“You’re a member of the Bloodied Kiss Wych Cult.”

It was a statement, not a question. It didn’t surprise her overmuch. She and her squad had proudly worn facial paint of their Cult’s heraldry, and their bikes had all been similarly emblazoned. What did surprise her was that the speaker had realized she’d regained consciousness, she’d thought she’d hid it quite well. Her eyes opened slowly, wincing at the sudden flare of flickering lights in the chamber. Pain stabbed through her and she fought hard not to emit a groan of agony. She tried to focus herself, it was important for a warrior to keep their center and understand the situation they were in.

“You’re Kyssindree, the Flensing Laugh, I’ve seen you in the arenas.”

Another statement, not a question, she supposed she was slightly impressed he knew her name. He was either a very avid fan of the arenas or had done good research. Her fame was still not quite what she would wish it to be. What she could see of the room was limited, it appeared to be square, the walls covered in hundreds of pipes, a few of them dribbling liquids ranging from simple water to acrid yellow chemicals. There was one door, metal, and with the lock and hinges on the outside. Her hands were manacled above her and she was suspended by chains so that her toes just brushed the floor, where it was stained muddy red with the blood of past guests. She was in a prison and interrogation chamber.

“You were hired to kill us.”

The man speaking the ‘not questions’ was white topknot. He stood casually in front of her, hands on his hips and his icy pale eyes regarding her critically and carefully. Even at rest it was clear he was a finely trained fighter, his balance was excellent, his fingers brushing along a pair of fighting knives at his hips, his Hellglaive was strapped to his back in a loose sling that held it securely yet would allow quick access. His shoulders were a touch broader then was common for Dark Eldar, and his sinewy chest practically strained with taunt power beneath his armored half plate.

“Who hired you?”

She smiled, her lips twisting crookedly around a garish bruise on her cheek as she finally looked up at him through the long black hair hanging in front of her face. Her mouth felt dusty and dry, filled with a tang of blood and the tight jawed sensation of coming off a Green Fire high. Still, when she spoke, her voice was clear and calm.

“That’s what this is about?”

“Yes.”

He met her gaze coolly, and his imperious features almost seemed to be dismissing her, which was not what she had expected. As a Wych she was so far above a common Hellion ganger in the social status of The Dark City that it went beyond insulting and into bewildering that he seemed to be dismissing her with his gaze. She had known Hellions to be disrespectful, outlandish, and rude, but even so, in the back of their eyes, there would always be an understanding of where they really belonged. Not so with this one.

“You’re not a Hellion, who are you?”

It was clear from his stance he had been given formal training in combat. His features were too fine, as well. He did not look like a man who had fought and scrabbled his way up through the starving masses of some slum to eventually aspire to lead a pathetic rabble of Hellion gangers. Everything about him made him look like he didn’t belong here.

“Not a Hellion?” He smiled at her, his teeth not filed down to points as almost all Hellion gangers were, instead they were perfect and shining. He tapped at his flight harness and tugged at the straps that held the Hellglaive to his back before shrugging. “What tipped you off?”

Kyssindree’s eyes narrowed as she regarded this man. She had known something was strange with this assignment from the get go, and this was further proof that she hadn’t been told everything. It had been highly unusual for her Cult to consider hiring themselves out as common mercenaries to such a pathetic client as a mere merchant house. Her eyes narrowed slightly, realizing that clearly the Hellions suspected as much too, and thought she might be willing to barter that information for her freedom. Her face hardened as she offered him a sneer and she spat her reply.

“What are the terms?”

“Terms?”

“Yes, the terms,” she spoke slowly, as though to a child. “Nothing is free in this life, information least of all. What do I get in exchange for providing it?”

“Is that what you think, that this is a chance to barter your information?”

“If my information wasn’t valid, then why would I be alive and talking to you?” Kyssindree kept her expression cool as she bartered with information she wasn’t sure she even had for a life she wasn’t sure could be saved. Still, better to aim for the potential win than to accept pathetic defeat.

“It is my understanding that during interrogation sessions pain is an often used implement,” offered white topknot in an offhand manner, as though he were discussing the weather.

Movement on her left flank caught her by surprise. A fist lashed out and it was only her decades of training that allowed her to roll with the punch as it impacted her jaw sharply. Thin fingers, as hard as steel, grabbed at her face and twisted it back to look at her attacker. The whipcord thin Hellion female with a wild mop of spiky red hair glared at her as she lifted a knife and moved it up to prick at the flesh immediately below Kyssindree’s left eye. The Hellion girl sneered, her eyes filled with an eager bloodlust.

“Let me carve off a few inches of her face, she’ll talk.”

“You do realize that Wren here would be quite willing to carry out her threat.” White topknot continued to speak as though discussing nothing more interesting than the passing time. “In fact, I suspect she would rather enjoy the exercise.”

“I’m fast,” offered Wren, her voice sharp and chirping in pleasure as she cocked her head to the side, wild eyes carefully regarding the delicate trickle of a single drop of blood that eased out of the delicate pinprick the razor tip of her knife had made in Kyssindree’s alabaster flesh. She smiled a small and quick flash of pleasure before her expression dropped back to its usual angry mien. “I once skinned over half of a prisoner’s skin off before shock took over enough that they stopped screaming,” there was another flash of a very quick smile that disappeared as she leaned in and whispered, “I think I could do you faster.”

Kyssindree laughed in their faces.

White topknot paused for a moment; apparently even he was caught off guard by this. Then he laughed as well, clearly enjoying the interplay.

Then there came a tap at the door behind him. His smile faded as he turned and opened the portal, revealing that outside the room exited into a cramped alley, the pungent smell of rain on the air telling her it was a location near her duel with the Hellion gangers and also clearly part of an exterior wall, which meant if she could get out of her restraints she had an easy escape route. Outside the door stood a grizzled Hellion in an eyepatch, his chest was heavily bandaged and held together with compression field generators. She frowned slightly; displeased to see he had survived her attack earlier, she had been certain it had been a killing strike. She’d have to rectify that mistake.

The two exchanged a few quick words, and clearly white topknot was pleased with the information as he rounded back into the room with a look of pleased excitement on his fine features.

“Wren.” He flicked the girl on the shoulder as he motioned her back.

Wren twitched, her eyes flicking back and forth from her departing lord to the chained prisoner. Her wild mop of spikey red hair bobbed around her face wildly before, with a small snarl in the back of her throat, she withdrew her blade and re-strapped it to her forearm sheath. She leaned down, her features twisting slightly as she seemed to struggle to come up with an appropriate departing insult. Then, like the crass common beast she was, she settled for an animalistic barring of her teeth, a wild promise in her eyes as she backed away to crouch behind white topknot, her bare feet scampering over the rusty metal floor.

“I thank you for the information you’ve provided me.” His Hellglaive spun into his hands, and with a sharp and brutal snap of his arms he shattered the chain holding her arms in place. It took all of her willpower to shrug off the pain of her torn body and land on her feet and not slump to the floor. Kyssindree dropped into a ready battle stance, already flipping the shattered chain remnants up into her hands to use as a weapon.

“I didn’t give you any information,” she retorted, unable to fully hide the confusion in her voice.

“That is like saying you didn’t show me where the light is by pointing out my shadow.” White top knot grinned at her, smugly pleased with himself as he slung his polearm back into its sheath. “Your Cult has publicly announced your and your men’s deaths in a skirmish with Scourges around Ebonspire Port, and that is all I needed to know to understand that I have finally been noticed by Archon Douraal.”

Even Kyssindree’s finely honed reactions couldn’t prevent a look of surprise from flicking across her features as he named the Archon whose sigil had been upon the pay chits handed over to her Cult by the Trading Consortium. White top knot’s smug grin grew wider and she cursed herself for letting him see it.

“You can go now,” he motioned her towards the door.

“I can go?”

“It’s that or coming with us,” he shrugged, “I am indifferent to the fate of you and your Cult, and yours was a simple contract that is now expired. Besides,” he grinned, “it will be fun to see if you can survive the walk back and the politicking awaiting you.”

He bowed slightly to her, in a manner far too polite for a Hellion rabble, and turned to depart. He snapped his fingers and Wren dropped into step behind him, the wiry Dark Eldar female almost scampering along like a pet on the heels of her master. Eyepatch lurked in the doorway long enough to spit at her, in the usual crass and base display of his ilk, before stalking off after them.

Kyssindree remained unmoving, amazed that he would know about her plight. It was true, she had lost most of her squadron, and her personal jetbike in the battle. To a Reaver that was failure compounded upon failure, and she had little to show for it. Even worse, she had been publicly declared lost by her Wych Cult, making her reappearance now a possible point of embarrassment for them. Though she had faith enough in her abilities to survive the journey back through the deadly streets between here and her Cult’s headquarters, she had less certainty of her fate there.

At best, she would be relegated to the lowest rung in station. Certainly none of the Reaver squads would be eager to have her join them. She’d have to earn her way back to the top all over again. Countless years of her work had been lost in one failed raid, and that was even presuming they decided to let her live. Far more likely would be a quick blade between the ribs and a trip to one of the rendering facilities to be broken down into her base components and sold off for mere slivers of a soul chit.

What then? To go back to the alleys and ghettos she had been born into? To fight as one of the rabble gangers again, praying to be noticed for her skills and to be picked up by some other Kabal or Cult looking for a recruit? To eke out a meager survival, fighting for food, starving for lack of souls to drink, becoming a wasted and withered shell of herself? It was beyond consideration!

She stumbled out of the door. It opened into a narrow alley, filled with garbage, and waste refuse dropped from levels above. Dozens of huddled figures sat in silent slumps along the walls, their robes drawn up to cover their faces, though peering eyes could be seen glancing furtively at her from under their hoods. Ahead of her Wren and white top knot could be seen strapping themselves to their skyboards, Eyepatch already stood upon his, the engines rumbling as he glared at her.

“Didn’t expect to see me alive again, did you?” He sneered at her as his foot shifted towards the activation stud of his splinter pods, clearly intending to mow her down like chattel in the alley for the injury she’d inflicted on her.

“You invited me to come with you?” She was almost certain that she looked as desperate as she felt, but she had been offered something by this strange Hellion leader, and she was not going to go back to the way she’d used to be. He was something different, she could tell that, he was something that might offer a chance if she was daring enough to take it.

“I did.” He held up a hand to pause eyepatch’s intent to kill her.

“Why?”

“I’m going to war, I need fighters, are you a fighter Kyssindree?”

“We don’t need her.” Eyepatch snarled as he looked to white topknot. The she-devil near sliced me in half, the only thing we need her for is if we’re dragging her back to the Alley so I can take my time killing her!”

“If that,” she nodded her head derisively at eyepatch, “is an example of your forces, then you need me more than you can imagine.”

“Ben’rik.” White topknot glanced at eyepatch and shrugged. “Give her a knife.”

“What?” Ben’rik’s one good eye narrowed in anger, “you’re going to let this bit-“

“Do I need to repeat myself?”

The question was asked in an almost bored fashion, as though white topknot couldn’t care what way Ben’rik answered. But the eyepatch wearing ganger froze in mid argument, almost immediately starting to shake his head as he held up his hands pleadingly to his superior. Kyssindree couldn’t help but smile slightly.

“I’ll give her a knife.” His skyboard sliced forward as white topknot spoke to her.

“We’re known as The Howlers. You can find our camp in Perception’s Warp Alley. If you can’t get there yourself then you’re not going to be much use to me, are you?”

“Your blade, milady.” Ben’rik drew forth a jagged dueling dagger as he hovered above her, then his eye went killer cold as he frowned down at her. He jammed the fine blade into the crack between two sheets of metal on the side of the building and, with a sharp downward strike of his palm, snapped the blade in half. The hilt tumbled through the air to clatter to the ground at her feet. “Lick Khymerae pizzle, harlot.” He laughed as he spun around and roared off through the air to rejoin the other two as they accelerated off towards their lair.

Kyssindree bent down slightly and retrieved the handle of the knife and critically eyed the jagged two inches of blade left on it. All around her the shadows of the alley were starting to shift. The hunched figures in the corners no longer held at bay by the threat of the Hellion gangers, and now eyeing the half-naked and basically unarmed female in their midst.

She tested the uneven balance of the broken knife in her hand as she glanced around at the approaching figures.
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Oct 27 2011, 05:38

Damn... Each chapter is MUCH too short... Sad

And I'll echo the above comments on how this is better than the bulk of stuff that comes from the Black Library...
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Oct 27 2011, 08:05

Your writing is really fascinating! I am unable to decide which I like more, the combat, or the dialogue. Been a while since last I enjoyed a read this much!

I was completely hooked from the get-go, cursing myself for reading on before chapter 4 is out.

and now for the agonizing wait!
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Oct 27 2011, 14:52

I wish I could write 1/100th as well. Great stuff!
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Oct 27 2011, 15:42

@Deneris - as long as I'm better than Goto Wink I suspect I'm getting some props in that direction just for writing non Imperial centered fiction, but it's appreciated anyway.

@Skjalgepalg - thanks. I would tend to expect probably a chapter or two per month depending on my personal workload - hope that won't be slow enough to kill your interest. Also, thanks for noting the different skill sets in writing action and dialogue. I personally consider my action 'better' because usually I feel my dialogue, being an outgrowth of myself, is perhaps a little too snarky to feel real...on the flip side that actually probably helps with DE writing, so we'll see. It's always a work in progress to get better.

@Dez - Thank you sir, hopefully you'll enjoy where it goes (hint: pain, betrayl, and generalized treachery...a shock, I know Wink ).

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Fri Oct 28 2011, 22:21

I am enjoying this, and I have very exacting standards.

Very Happy Joking aside that's very impressive work. As other people have noted it's easy to picture what's happening, as if a movie is playing when one reads - and the atmosphere is perfect. The characters are well drawn and I have only one criticism.

There's not more yet Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Nov 07 2011, 12:07

I'm slightly ashamed that I only realised who white topknot probably is slightly into the 3rd chapter.

As all have said, this is brilliant stuff, I look forward to the next chapter with great anticipation!


Oh, just thought I'd say, I think it's 'taut' rather than 'taunt' if you meant it's pulled tight.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Nov 07 2011, 16:56

Fething awesome!! Love it! MOAR! Now! *gives slaves as payment*
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Tue Nov 08 2011, 14:13

Impressive work!
I have really enjoyed reading the story so far and I have to say it really is better than any BL stuff I've read so far.

Can't wait to read the next chapter!
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Nov 09 2011, 06:06

I hope you realise that you are basically going to have to write the equivalent of an entire book, lest you want all of us descending upon the Sunshine State like a pack of gangers?
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Nov 09 2011, 06:23

I call shotgun!

...I keep haunting this board hoping for a new chapter...
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Nov 09 2011, 20:19

@Lady Malys - I'm really glad to hear the imagery comes across that clearly for you, it's what one hopes for.

@Anngul - yeah, good catch on taut, I've got a couple grammatical errors I probably owe it to myself to go back through and clean up. I'll get to that...any century now. Wink

@phototoxin
@redhead

Thank you both!

@Gobsmakked - heck, if you guys truck down here you can basically read about a chapter and a half ahead, as I usually wait till I'm about two chapters forward before posting the next one (after all, occasionally I realize I want to add something/change something up...I'm not so great at planning). Plus we could get in some Warhammie games Wink

I suppose instead of making you do that though I'll just post the next chapter.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Nov 09 2011, 20:25

Chapter 4: The Old Fiend

Ben’rik hadn’t lived for as long as he had by being stupid. He had always prided himself on his ability to read and understand his foes. The wise man struck at what was weak and avoided what was strong. That was how he’d become lord of The Howlers, after all. Sure, the other gang leaders he’d overcome had probably been tougher and meaner than him. But he was fast, smart, and careful. He’d arrange for one gang to fight another, then swoop in and clean out both while they were weak. He’d make alliances and switch sides partway through a fight if his odds seemed better. He’d always been smart, and never stupid, and that was how he’d become leader of The Howlers again.

Ben’rik eased himself down in front of the crackling green flames of the fire, one of the many large blazes that The Howlers were using to ward off the unearthly chill winds of Perception’s Warp Alley. Direction, gravity, light, all of these things were twisted and distorted within Perception’s Warp. Buildings seemed to coil around it, forming long and winding tunnels where predators could leap from the shadows or gravity itself might twist and send you plummeting down through a window into the depths of one of the twisted structures that formed the maddened architecture of the grounds. It was a horrible and inhospitable place, which made it a most excellently defensible position, Ben’rik had to admit it was a fine lair.

All save for that damnable wind. All hours of the day and night it howled through the tunnels, buffeting gusts that sawed through clothing to cut coldly across flesh and bite and tear at any extremities. The copper fires helped make it bearable, but still Ben’rik hated the place.

He grunted in pain as he sat, the compression field generators that were holding his chest together hummed softly as they prevented his guts from spilling out. The pain was a constant reminder of the near fatal wound he’d received.

“You appear troubled.” The speaker strode forward from the darkness, like Ben’rik he was also carrying a plate of rations from the supplies they’d stolen last month. He smiled in his usual disconcerting way, as he dropped down to sit before the fire. “You worry me, you are, after all, my most trusted advisor.”

“It’s nothing, Tael.” Ben’rik forced a fake smirk onto his face as he looked across the fire at the man he hated more than anyone. Coming up behind Tael, his ever present shadow, Wren placed a fine fleshleather blanket across his shoulders before she squatted down behind him, silently waiting his next whim of command. Tael brushed some of his white hair back away from his icy pale eyes before picking up one of the congealed protein mix bars and hazarding a small bite. As usual, his genteel manners filled Ben’rik with annoyance. He picked up a bar of his own and wolfed the whole thing into his mouth in one bite, smacking his lips noisily as he chewed it.

It was strange to think it had not even been a full cycle yet since Tael had come to them. Ben’rik still cursed himself at night for not just killing him when he had the chance. When he and some of his fellow gangers had found the lone Dark Eldar, bloodied and alone, his guts half torn out by the claws of an Ur-ghul it would have been so easy to just kill him and be on their way. If only he hadn’t listened to the man’s offer. If only greed hadn’t convinced him to take the wounded warrior in and tend to his wounds.
If only.

---------------------------------

The wind whipped through his long blonde hair as Ben’rik led his gang through the Market of the Slashed Wrist. The Hellions cackled with glee as they tore through the air, mere inches above the heads of the crowds below. Ben’rik dropped into a low crouch, his hand snapping out as he plucked a bloodfruit from a cart, the exhaust blast of his Skyboard blasting the produce across the glossed plasglass floor of the market, the fruit sizzling and smoking.

Behind him he heard uproarious laughter as the others snagged whatever they pleased, a few of them lashing out with their hellglaives to tear apart any guard or merchant who foolishly attempted to repulse them.

“We are The Howlers!” Ben’rik’s voice was sent echoing and warbling through the whole market by an ampspeaker on his shoulder. “We own you! We own everything betwixt here to Blackspire and to the Invernill Gap!” As he spoke he depressed the activation stud for his splinter pods, sending a torrent of poison crystal shards tearing through the horrified crowd of slaves, menials, and servants as they scattered before him. “Do not forget us!”

He waved his arms in command as he spun around and rocketed over the north facing of the market, bursting out over the edge of a precipitous five hundred metre drop. As he lazily spiraled downward he took a bite of the bloodfruit, enjoying the bitter sweetness as the rich red pulp frothed around his lips and dribbled down his chin.

“I don’t think they’ll forget their payments again.” Vollio, his second in command dropped down next to him, also in a lazy spiral. The tight green braids of his hair, clashed sharply with the bright red tattoo on his face, giving Vollio a suitably fearsome appearance.

“They’d better not, it took us too long to run out the Void Chasers to have those wretches forget to pay me for allowing them to live.” Ben’rik grinned as he looked out across his ‘kingdom’. Yes, let the Noble Houses, Kabals, and Wych Cults wage their petty wars and political games to claim one spire or small section of the Dark City. But he and The Howlers were masters of almost a whole district, and where they passed their will was absolute.

“Chief.” The word was snapped out, short, hard, and clipped. Ben’rik knew before looking who it was. Wren clung to her board, her wild spiky mop of red hair dancing loosely around her head as she pointed at something in the distance. Her sharp eyes had served him well in many battles, so though when he looked he couldn’t spot what she saw, he was sure enough it was there.

“What is it?”

“A Raider, bearing house markings, but I can’t tell which. They just dropped something off.”

“House markings?” Vollio chuckled, “some noble pretty boy is straying awfully far from home.”

“Yeah…might be his family will pay us well if we return him?”

Ben’rik motioned his gang forward as they accelerated towards the interloper. It was not uncommon for some higher ranking Kabal youths to come out to the slums near the docks to joyhunt amongst the warrens there. It was a dangerous game, but thrilling and rewarding for the Kabalites. Still, if the Hellions could overpower them there would undoubtedly be valuable equipment and a solid chance for ransom.

The Raider had fled by the time they got there, the anti-gravity skimmer rocketing off at a pace even the speedy skyboards couldn’t hope to equal. They had been hovering over a landing pad on one of the smaller spires, an ancient old wreck, devoid of power and life, nothing more than a warren of dark tunnels and small rooms that were undoubtedly filled with dangerous squatters.

“They darted out quick.” Vollio frowned as he and Ben’rik watched the gang go over the landing site in the hope of any possible valuables to scavenge. It was uncommon for Kabalites to withdraw from Hellions, which tended to suggest they had either nothing of value left here, or had little desire to be associated with whatever they were doing. “Let’s head over to Smuggler’s Warren and get drunk.”

“Not just yet,” Ben’rik said, “there’s something worth having here, I’m sure of it.”

Even as he spoke they heard it, a horrible and undulating howl. Ben’rik felt a cold shiver of fear pass down his spine. That had been the howl of an Ur-Ghul catching the scent of its prey. The Ur-Ghul was a fearsome predator, it walked upright like a man, but was faster and stronger than any Dark Eldar. The beasts hunted by sense of smell alone, lacking any eyes, and once they had your scent nothing could stop them from finding their quarry. They were most often used as hunting beasts by the rich and powerful Kabalites.

The rest of his gang quickly got back on their skyboards and took to the air, none of them caring to be at ground level with an Ur-Ghul on the loose.

“Hunting party?” Vollio scratched his head as he glanced at Ben’rik. “Whatever they were here for, looks like they wanted it dead, not alive, otherwise they wouldn’t have left the beast to hunt alone. There’s no ransom to be won here.”

“Agreed,” Ben’rik sighed, “we’re pulling out.” He waved his hellglaive in a circular motion over his head, ordering the gang to form up. Even as he was about to motion them to throttle away there was a crash as one of the access grates leading deeper into the tower smashed outward.

A lone figure stumbled out of the dark interior of the tower. A tall and muscular Dark Eldar, broad at the shoulders and with a long shock of white hair hanging in disarray around his blood spattered face. He wore the tattered remnants of Kabalite armor, the black mirrored armor plates were cracked and torn away in many places, most notably around his midsection where he had clearly been torn open by a mighty clawed strike of an Ur-Ghul. One of his arms, weakly clutching a bloodied dueling dagger, was pressed to his abdomen, holding his guts in as blood seeped around the garish wound.

His other hand held the decapitated head of an Ur-Ghul, the pallid gray skinned face a twisted monstrosity of gleaming blue-black fangs and a complex nasal array of six orifices arrayed in two rows.
There was a moment of quietude as the bloodied warrior looked slowly across the rooftop landing pad, noting its emptiness before slowly glancing up at the hovering Hellions. His shoulders shook slightly and he coughed up a few glimmering strands of blood from his mouth. For a moment Ben’rik thought he was watching the warrior’s death spasms, but then he realized that the man was laughing.

“I…had expected…a ride,” offered the warrior, his bloodstained smile flashing up at Ben’rik.

“They ran away.” Vollio slowly lowered his skyboard, angling his splinter pods to point at the strange warrior. “What are you doing here?”

“Dying.” The warrior shrugged as he stumbled over to the railing on the edge of the landing platform. He then carefully began prying open the mouth of the Ur-Ghul.

“What’s your name?” Ben’rik glided around to sail in front of the warrior. He ran the edge of his hellglaive along the railing as he did so, creating a horrid squealing noise that cast up sparks. “Maybe you’ll be of value enough to us to ransom?”

“I doubt that,” sighed the warrior as he slowly extracted a pair of plasma grenades from inside the Ur-Ghul’s mouth. Ben’rik blinked in surprise, clearly the man had built the head to be an explosive weapon against a vehicle, no doubt the Raider had not been filled with friends. The warrior smirked at Ben’rik as he casually tossed the jury-rigged bomb over the side of the building. “My name is Tael, I am dying. Save me and I promise you a reward you can barely dream of.”

“Really?” Ben’rik laughed, “why should I believe you have anything worthy of my time?”

“Of course,” Tael shrugged as he slumped to the ground, coughing up some more blood. “I suppose you think they were trying to kill me because I was worthless and meaningless?” Tael smiled again, but his icy eyes remained cool and emotionless as he stared hard at Ben’rik. “It’s your decision though, make it wisely. I don’t wish to rush you, but I’m not sure how much time you have.”

Still smiling through bloodstained lips Tael collapsed into an unconscious heap.

---------------------------------

“You do seem quite troubled.” As usual, Tael’s manner and tone was always polite and pleasant, but Ben’rik knew well enough that it was best not to mistake Tael’s joviality for softness, he’d seen one too many make that mistake. “Something upsets you, trusted advisor, I would know what it is.”

“The whole situation with the raids. Black Shift keeps getting more and more focused in their defense. If we even switched to a different consortium for a few weeks then-“

“Then we would relieve the pressure we have been working so hard to apply. Which, sadly, sounds exactly the opposite of what I’m hoping to do.”

“But we’re playing a dangerous game here, with that Wych Cult being called in next might be-“

“Ah, I think I see where this is going.” Tael motioned to the wound on Ben’rik’s chest. “This is about the Wych, isn’t it?”

“It’s not about the Wych.” Ben’rik took another aggressive bite of food, his next words causing small chunks to spray from his mouth as he spoke. “But since you bring it up, why’d you spare her?”

“Why not?” Tael smirked. “If you recall, I spared J’aunt and Ssinssilla after we captured and played with them a while, and you can’t argue that they’ve not been useful to the gang. Not to mention,” Tael laughed softly, “you set the precedent by sparing me when we first met. I seek only to live up to your fine example.”

“But courting a Wych? She comes from closer to the center,” Ben’rik’s arm waved vaguely in the direction of the heart of Commoragh. “Our place is on the fringes, we need to be careful that our grasp does not exceed our reach.”

“Yes,” Tael’s cold eyes failed to match the gentle smile on his face. “But if she can make that long walk alone I think she’ll prove to be most useful to us. And if not,” he shrugged and let out a small laugh, “you can take solace in knowing she invariably met an unpleasant end, possibly multiple times.”

The man was utterly mad, Ben’rik was sure of that now. After he’d recovered from his injuries he’d bartered his information in small slips. Just enough to keep him useful, never so much that Ben’rik didn’t feel he still needed him. But always with a singular purpose, Tael had intended to take control of the gang since the first moment he had laid eyes on them that day on the landing pad. Now they were all caught in some strange bid for revenge, and Tael still had yet to even tell them who he was seeking revenge on. Though…Ben’rik allowed a small shrug of admiration, that was probably a smart move on Tael’s part, otherwise Ben’rik would have sold him out to his enemies months ago.

But Tael had made one mistake, he’d thought Ben’rik was weak enough to happily step aside for him. Oh, yes, Ben’rik had made a huge show of support for the new leader and had happily served as his aide and advisor, but it was a show, nothing but a show. Someday, someday soon, Tael would reach a little too far, do something a little too foolish, and on that day Ben’rik would be there, ready, with a knife at the ready.

“You’re just scared of the battles then? Do the Great Houses frighten you?”

“I am not scared, I am,” Ben’rik licked his lips, “cautious.”

“Caution…isn’t that what weaklings mention to explain their failures away as choice?” Tael laughed softly. Behind him the inane twit Wren chittered in amusement as well. Ben’rik forced himself to smile as well, though it felt brittle and tight.

“We have a potent force, but even forty blades are meaningless to the hundred-hundreds arrayed against us.”

“One blade, wielded well, is worth a thousand soldiers.” Tael sighed, “your view is too narrow, my dear advisor, do you honestly think it is the strength of arms or the number of soldiers that win a war?”

Ben’rik’s reply was cut off as a silvery streak slashed through the light of the fire and embedded into the plascrate he was sitting upon, the dagger vibrating slightly with the force of the impact. Wren hissed as she drew out a pistol and blade and spun into a ready combat crouch, even Tael’s eyes widened in mild surprise as he looked around for their assailant. Ben’rik remained motionless for a moment though, almost unbelieving of what he saw.

The bloodstained dueling blade that was now pinioned betwixt his legs had been snapped in half once, and was now secured by a tightly wrapped series of leather strips.

“You are The Howlers, this is Perception’s Warp Alley.” The voice rang out across the campsite as a lone figure strode forward into the light, pulling back the hood of the cloak she was wearing to reveal a delicately boned face with a superior smirk. The Wych looked across the camp with a contented look of superiority. “I am Kyssindree the Flensing Laugh, bring me food and drink.”

Tael laughed.
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Skjalgepalg
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Nov 10 2011, 07:30

@Thor665 wrote:
...heck, if you guys truck down here you can basically read about a chapter and a half ahead...
*jumps on a plane*

Wonderful follow-up.

I am impressed at how you keep pacing both the combat and the dialogue down, whilst at all times storing the tension like a serpent's coils; ready to strike.

Your dialogue is sharp, but at times too narrowly avoiding stating the obvious. Then again without the next chapter I cant say for sure.

All I know is that I am finding myself stalking this thread more and more often, despite subscribing to it. I almost missed my stop on the buss today being too caught up in reading!
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