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 Trueborn - completed

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red_head
Kabalite Warrior
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Nov 10 2011, 09:58

Very nice, as always.
The imagery you create is just great, as the others said, one can see all this happening before the inner eye, just like watching a movie.

Can't wait to read the next chapter, it's just stunning.
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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Nov 14 2011, 03:41

Thanks to both of you.

There's a 90% chance for an additional chapter posted sometime early next week as long as work gives me the expected dead time on Monday. A fresh chapter will certainly be up prior to end of the month though.

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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Nov 14 2011, 17:49

I shall be looking forward to it Very Happy Excellently descriptive as always.

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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Nov 28 2011, 18:28

Chapter 5: The Tunnel

“This is your life.”

The skyboard he had brought for her lay on the ground, small patches of rust clinging in its grooves, black and red paint flaking off its blades and rudders, one of the splinter pods was twisted at an unusual angle from some high speed impact.

“I look rather ill,” noted Kyssindree dryly as she regarded the dented side panel where a splotch of dried blood was splattered on the skyboard.

Around her some of the other Hellion youths chuckled and sneered at her, most of them already riding their skyboards with practiced ease. She was still debating to herself if it would be beneficial to kill a few of her fellow classmates. It wouldn’t advance her rank at all, the Hellions were too close minded in their concept of being a ‘pack’ for that, but at least the fear and respect she gained would spare her some of their limited humor and might well be worth the risk of angering Tael in killing some of his recruits.

“Do you find this funny?”

Kyssindree glanced up at Vollio. She’d been with The Howlers for a little over three cycles now, working to earn her ‘right’ to become a full-fledged member of the gang. She was finally starting to feel she understood their inner workings. It was highly humorous to her, but the poor little wretches actually emulated their betters, within the small gangs they had political struggles for power and prestige that were like childish reflections of the Kabals and Cults. They even had their own hierarchy and system of controls that made them operate with some vague semblance of military discipline.

Tael stood as the unquestioned leader, the Helliarch of the gang. Beneath him stood his top advisors and lieutenants, also called Helliarchs, because, she suspected, the Hellions were too simplistic to devise another name for ‘leader.’ Of the four of them Kyssindree considered two, Ben’rik and Vollio, to be a chink in Tael’s armor. The two had been former leaders of the gang before Tael had usurped leadership, and it was clear from their glances and from whispered conversations amongst the gang that they sought to depose him and rule once more. It had been a clear strategic mistake for Tael to entrust one of them with training new members – it was an easy route to allow him to recruit like-minded allies.

Still, if she had to work with the cretin in order to earn the right to go on raids and taste the thrill of speed and murder once more, then that was what she was going to do. She hadn’t joined this wretched gang to be a simple pleasure-girl at their camp, she fully intended to rise in power and stature quickly. After all, for one of her skill as a champion Reaver Jetbike pilot, it should be an easy task.

“How fast can these pieces of junk even go?” Kyssindree smirked as she kicked the side of the skyboard in bemusement. “I’ll be lucky if I work up enough of a rush to stay awake.”

“Is that so?” Vollio gave her a shark-tooth smile as he tied his bright green braids back from his face. “Would the princess of speed care to join us in a little jaunt up the tunnel then?”

“That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?”

Vollio laughed as he pointed out the power and acceleration controls, explaining briefly how she could operate them with her feet as she rode. Then he shoved the harness at her and told her to hook herself up. She tightened the leather straps to her waist and thighs, emulating his setup, before hooking the safety chain to the thin metal guide yoke on the front of the skyboard. A press of her toe had the old skyboard sputter to life and lift her a few feet into the air with a whining groan as the anti-gravity thrusters fought to keep her stable.

“Where are the steering controls?”

“You’re the steering control,” he answered with a sneer, “you shift your balance to steer.”

“What?”

“The tunnel starts here and exits at the Invernill gap – if you’re in the first half of the class by the time we get there you’ll be ready to go on a raid.”

“Beating half-brained children shouldn’t be difficult. What happens if I get there before you do?” The other Hellions snarled and glowered at her, most making rude gestures and a very select few fools going so far as to mutter threats. Vollio laughed as his gleaming skyboard’s motor purred and lifted him upwards.

“If, by some miracle of the Dark Muses, you manage that then I shall let you have my personal board to ride.” He juked is slightly to show off, the elegant lines and perfect finish of the skyboard glinting in the light. Kyssindree found it all quite beneath her, but was aware that Vollio’s board was considered one of fastest in the entire gang, and had tighter turning capability than any other. “Shall we begin?” He gave a low bow, “I’ll even allow you a head start, princess.”

Kyssindree looked at him coldly for a moment, and then turned to regard the entrance to the tunnel they were positioned in front of. It was a wide path, formed of multiple buildings twisting and pressing together in a strange network of jagged architectural décor and sudden blind curves. She took a breath and then promptly hit the toggle for full acceleration. She was a champion of the arenas after all, and she had learned long ago to never show any hint of weakness.

The old shuddering skyboard took off with a belching start and a burst of actinic yellow flame that singed her nostrils. The speed was…more intense then she had anticipated, a side effect of basically standing upright and taking the full on brunt of the chilling wind. She leaned ever so slightly forward into the gale of wind and suddenly her skyboard was twisting downward in a sudden rush. Pulling back to adjust had it suddenly buck upward, almost tossing her off as it went into a wild loop-the-loop.

“Try not to crash and die, princess!” Vollio laughed as he buzzed past her, reaching out to smack her in the back of the head as he spun around her. The blow upset her equilibrium even more, sending the board onto a wild corkscrew, with her hanging on for dear life as she tried to pull it back into a level flight position. The other young Hellions roared around her, laughing and cackling as they passed within mere feet of her.

One of them even went so far as to take a swipe at her with a short forearm blade, she twisted away easily, but the movement further upset her footing, and suddenly she was twisting off the edge of the board.

She reached up, her hand grabbing desperately for the side of the skyboard. Her safety chain would prevent her from plummeting to her death, but of larger concern was being pulled along into the exhaust wake of the main thruster, the flames there would easily cook her alive.

Years of training and her reflexes which were honed to razor perfection, even for a Dark Eldar, allowed her to grab one of the brace studs for the splinter pods. Her shoulder wrenched painfully, causing her to wince in slight pain, but she managed to control herself enough to prevent any part of her body being cast into the belching and sputtering gouts of flame erupting from the rear of the board. Now it was a simple matter of pulling herself back onto the board and adjusting the throttle.

Then the gravity well changed.

It was an interesting truth within the Webway that Commoragh occupied. So many parts of the city were joined by permanent fusing of massive portals, but the joints did not always worry about such minor quibbles as direction, and the physics of the Webway were somewhat malleable even in the most structured of areas. Thus it was that you could occasionally find yourself walking up walls or upon ceilings as the pathways twisted and shifted in regards to where gravity came from. When moving at a walking pace it was, at worst, slightly disconcerting. When moving at a break-neck pace while hanging off of a runaway skyboard, it was decidedly unpleasant.

As she passed through the joint she was suddenly twisting to the side, her shoulder popped noticeably as it was wrenched out of socket as her body weight suddenly slid across the board to fall in the new direction of gravity. Her hand lashed out, clawing desperately at the controls as she slithered across the board. Whether by luck, or grim determination, she managed t cut the throttle before she lost her grip entirely. With a jerk the safety chain halted her fall, leaving her hanging suspended by her belt harness, her dead arm trailing beneath her as she looked up at the board which was even now coasting to a halt.

Somewhere in the distance she could hear the laughter of the Hellions as they raced through the tunnels. She reached up with one shaking hand and pulled herself upwards by the chain, eventually managing to cling weakly to the slowly drifting board as it floated alone in the darkness of the tunnel.

She’d lost this race.

She hadn’t lost a race in many years, not since the time in the arena she’d decided to prove she was better, faster, and smarter than her squadron leader.

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

The crowds were still chanting her name. Her name! The reverberations of the chant echoed down even into the sub levels of the arena. Kyssindree felt her body flush with more than the vigor of her last few kills. She strolled along the gleaming obsidian hallway down to the locker room, peeling off her skintight, blood drenched, jumpsuit as she did. The black material clung to her alabaster skin, tinged with sweat and blood. Beside her Obessa was uncoiling her long mane of hair from the tight warrior braid she kept it in.

“You should wear your hair loose, it has such nice curls it wishes to show off” Kyssindree mused as she reached out to tug painfully and playfully at Obessa’s long and well bound braid. Her fellow wych frowned and shook her head.

“It’s too risky. An opponent might use it against me, or it could catch on part of the bike’s blade armature, or-“

“Or it would look glorious, and make the crowd desire to see you succeed and desire to see you painfully punished for your wanton pride.” Kyssindree laughed, too enamored by the blood and her victory to allow her dour second to drag her down. “That is why they will never chant your name, and why you shall never be a champion of the arena.”

As they stepped into the locker room and bathing area Kyssindree suddenly paused, surprised by who was there waiting for her. Wryn’kill, Arena Champion and leader of her squadron stood there, her battle regalia splattered with blood from the last game, her golden mask helmet tucked under her arm, its gilded features decorated with flowing blue plumage and marks of her many victories. Behind her stood four other Eladrith Ynneas, Dark Eldar males, they wore the common battle barding of a mercenary enclave.

Kyssindree felt a tug of annoyance at their impudence. Common rabble such as they were not meant to appreciate the sight of Wyches bathing and preparing themselves before or after the rituals of the arenas. Her hand dropped almost subconsciously to her dueling knife, as her first instinct was to kill the males for their disrespect.

“Leave us, Obessa,” Wryn’kill spoke sharply and imperiously.

Obessa paused, the young wych actually glancing uncertainly at Kyssindree. Wryn’kill most assuredly noticed the breach in decorum. The arena champion’s eyes narrowed, her painted lips quivering slightly with barely repressed rage that had swelled up from even the second of pause from her underling. Kyssindree’s lips quirked in a small flash of pleasure as she allowed a small half shrug in Obessa’s direction. The younger wych bowed slightly as she turned and rushed from the room.

“How may I serve you, champion?” Kyssindree stepped forward, hands still overtly working at the buckles of her skintight suit, though it did keep them close to her blade.

“What were you doing out there?”

“Out there?” Kyssindree smiled as she half nodded her head back to the arena, she chose to fancy that the crowds were still chanting her name, though she suspected the current cheers were simply for whatever new debauchery had now begun. “I thought I was putting on a show, creating a spectacle of blood, pain, and beauty, as we are tasked to do.”

“You upstaged me.” Wryn’kill’s eyes had gone slate grey and cold, a look Kyssindree had seen on her face before.

Kyssindree was reacting even as the mercenaries started to draw their pistols. She had a blade in her hand and hurled it at the closest one, the blade quivered from the force of impact as it embedded up to the curved bone hilt into his chest. She knew even before the blade had left her hand that it would be a clean kill, so she had already turned and sprang over the row of lockers to her right, slipping down over the wrought metal edges even as the crackling snarl of stun blasters hissed through the air, leaving a trace stink of ozone.

Kyssindree was certain it was a bad thing that Wryn’kill apparently wanted her captured alive. She was well enough aware of Wryn’kill’s preferences and had little desire to join in on them in that manner. She was half naked, and had unfortunately been obligated to throw away her only blade.

Her considerations of a plan were cut short as the mercenaries burst around the corner of the lockers, weapons raised. Reacting more from instinct than any conscious thought, Kyssindree sprang towards them, knowing that they would be expecting her to try to dodge laterally or retreat. She tucked into a tight roll as they fired wildly, their shots hissing past her ear as she came up in a crouch at their feet. One knee rose in a sharp thrust at the mercenary on her left’s groin. He howled in pain even as a knife-edged chop of her hand slammed into the throat of the second mercenary. That one gagged and coughed in confusion as she wrenched his wrist painfully, snapping it as she wrested his stun blaster from his grasp.

The third mercenary was just rounding the bend as she dropped into a crouch and pumped three quick blasts into his chest. He was tossed back, his limbs flailing helplessly as the energy washed over him, shorting out his nervous system.

Kyssindree had just started to smirk in pride at how well she had dispatched the three when the coil of a black whip snapped tight around her neck. She had a half breath to realize what had happened when the agoniser flared to life. Every synapse in her head howled in unimaginable pain and a hollow gasp was torn from her throat, as she was already well past the ability to scream. Legs that now were like jelly collapsed under her as she thrashed around on the ground. Then, in a flash the pain was gone as the agoniser was switched off. She could have easily slain Kyssindree then and there by tearing her apart in waves of pain so intense that her body would have shut itself down to escape them, but clearly that was not her goal…not yet, at least.

“Get her up and strip her down.” Wryn’kill’s voice was dripping with venom. “I’m going to enjoy this.”

She was pulled up by the mercenaries. They tore her uniform from her body and used the shreds to lash her up between two support beams in the bathing area. Wryn’kill slapped her in her face as she circled her, forcing Kyssindree to focus on her as a wretched grin split her face.

“This is not going to be slow, and you deserve every second of it.” She motioned to her men and they began to pull Kyssindree’s legs apart as Wryn’kill raised her agoniser. Kyssindree collected herself enough to sneer and spit definitely in her face. Wyrn’kill’s face flushed as her face contorted in rage. The agoniser suddenly sparked to life and she raised her arm and…

And suddenly Kyssindree was slumping down to the floor. She blinked in confusion as she lifted her head weakly. Both of the mercenaries now lay on the ground as well, each of them stone dead, a single perfect incision in each of their backs that had punctured their hearts simultaneously.

“Ayasha!” Wryn’kill staggered back, the agoniser dropping from her hand to clatter to the tiled floor of the bathing room. “Forgive, I just-“

Ayasha? Kyssindree knew well that name. Ayasha Indrainel was the Succubus, the highest ranking Wych of their whole cult. She couldn’t quite focus on the figure, but could make out the sleek outlines tinted in gold and the flowing white silks that clung tightly to Ayasha’s perfect body. Obessa was there too, leaning down by Kyssindree as she helped her to her feet.

“I had been on my way to congratulate you on such a fine display, and yet what I find is…this.”

“It’s nothing,” mewled Wryn’kill, “just a minor bit of discipline.”

“Minor, yes.” Ayasha’s gaze fell to the crackling agoniser before glancing back at Wryn’kill carefully. The Arena Champion seemed to wither and shrink under that gaze. Ayasha slowly turned towards Kyssindree. Ayasha’s hand reached out, nails honed to steel hardness and razor sharpness pricked painfully on the delicate flesh of Kyssindree’s neck as the Succubus lifted her chin until Kyssindree was looking right into her mistress’ face. Ayasha smiled, though little of the gentle expression reached her cold, black, eyes.

“She was upset at you upstaging her in the races, was she not?”

“I would imagine so, mistress,” Kyssindree managed to speak without too much quiver in her voice, her body still wrought in pain from the touch of the agoniser.

“You definitely coaxed some impressive extra speed from your Reaver, how did you do that?”

“Personal modifications,” Kyssindree managed a smirk, “I wanted to make sure mine was the fastest.”

“And the triple skull impalement?”

“You don’t get your name chanted by doing something that’s been seen before.”

“If you choose to pass the squad leader, claim her kill, and win the race, you do tend to be likely to end up in situations like this.” Ayasha spoke sweetly, as though to a child, but Kyssindree was almost lost in those hard and cold black eyes, she could feel as though every bit of her was being peeled back and carefully examined for something.

“If one is always following, the view never changes.”

“She is quite eye-catching, isn’t she?”

Ayasha spoke this to Wryn’Kill as she turned to glance over her shoulder. Her hand turned, claws drawing down along Kyssindree’s throat to her bare and exposed chest. Painful traces arched along her skin as the nails ever so slightly cut into the pale flesh, leaving crimson trails behind them. Kyssindree gasped in a mix of pleasure and pain, her breathing coming in shallow gasps as she fought for air while also struggling not to breathe too hard lest she drive the nails any deeper into her body.

“They were chanting her name quite loudly. The crowd will remember her for a bit of time, and perhaps wish to see more of her. I don’t think I choose to have her die alone in a locker room. There is no sport in it. Do you still consider yourself her superior, Wryn’kill?”

The arena champion’s face turned almost scarlet as she scowled and sharply nodded her head. "Absolutely.”

“Excellent. There shall be a race then, we can advertise it, arrange a course worthy of champions, and handle this properly.” Ayasha glanced back at Kyssindree and gave her another small smile. “Are you sure about this, young little wych? Wryn’kill has amassed more kills on a Jetbike in her career than any other rider in our Cult.”

“I haven’t been riding for very long yet.” Kyssindree’s answer brought cold laughter bubbling out of Ayasha as the Succubus walked away.

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

“She’s definitely intent.” Tael sat lounging on a pile of blankets as he looked out across the camp towards the lone figure of Kyssindree. Wren sat crouched by his head, her back ramrod straight with barely controlled anxiety and anger. Ben’rik almost found it humorous to watch her primp and preen around Tael now, she clearly considered the wych a threat. Ben’rik also thought of the wych as a threat, though most assuredly not for the reasons Wren did.

“Vollio says she’s almost killed herself twice now in the training races.”

“Mmmm.” Tael’s eyes didn’t waver as he watched Kyssindree. She was currently riding that old clunker of a skyboard that Vollio had given her. She seemed to ride it almost constantly now, and it was unusual to see her walking. She never rode it at very high speeds, but just constantly astride it, practicing her movements as she leaned and twisted, learning the controls for the skyboard.

“I still don’t know what you hope to get out of her other than the obvious.” At those words Wren shifted uneasily, dark eyes flicking over smolderingly at him. Ben’rik smirked.

“It’s very simple,” Tael kept watching Kyssindree’s practice. “Do you disagree that my application of Kabal tactics has made The Howlers stronger?”

“Well, no…not as such.”

“There is such strength in the gangs,” Tael mused, “but so much undirected potential calls out for a force to focus it. That’s what Kyssindree shall bring to us, more focus, more awareness of our goal to make ourselves stronger and better. She’s going to challenge us to become more deadly to equal her, I can see that in her eyes already.”

“More deadly for what?” Ben’rik shrugged. “We already have everything we could need.”

“Yes, I suppose that’s true.” Tael finally lowered his gaze as he rolled over onto his back, his icy pale eyes looking up into the shadowy sky towards the distant spires of High Commoragh. “But do we have everything we could want?”

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

“These boards are your lives.” Vollio floated above the head of his students, his skyboard humming with barely restrained power as he gestured down at them with his hellglaive. It was testing time again, and only the most skilled of the young trainees would earn the right to wear the face paint of the gang and fight alongside them on the raid. “If you wish to survive in The Howlers you need to make that your truth. We live, fight, and die on them, and those who cannot master their glory will-“

“They’re still pitifully slow.” Kyssindree interrupted him as she roared down from above, her skyboard unleashing a horrid wailing sound due to the vents she had worked into the wing struts. It was a minor touch, but it helped remind her of her jetbike’s roar, she also required the extra heat dissipation due to some of her other changes to the board. Vollio looked over her skyboard, undoubtedly noting the work she had done on it. It gleamed now, polished to a mirror sheen, the engines had been re-worked, and she’d added sharpened blade vanes to the wings. The engine growled with barely restrained energy, the vents hissing out angrily.

“You’ve done some work I see, princess?” Vollio smirked, but she could see the nervousness in his eyes. “Sounds like you took out the safety limiters…that’s unwise, you could burn out your engine or worse cause an overload and fry your pretty little face right off.”

“Is this a safety class for children, or are we testing who is worthy to go on raids?”

“As I recall last time you had to walk back,” he laughed and so did some of the other Hellions, though a few of them had gone quieter, recognizing that this competition wasn’t about any of them any longer.

Kyssindree didn’t respond to the verbal jab, she just smirked and flicked her long black hair at him as she guided her skyboard to point at the entrance to the tunnel. Vollio snarled as he started to bind back his braids. The other young Hellions shifted around, tightening their harnesses and revving their engines as they moved into position.

They took off in a roar of engines. Kyssindree smiled as she accelerated with them, launching forward into the winding black tunnel. It was only moments before they hit the first gravity shift, and she had prepared for it perfectly, turning at the exact instant the gravity pull changed to allow her board to slingshot ahead of the other young Hellions. Ahead of her was only Vollio and his two wingmen, setting the pace and leading the racing Hellions through the course.

But he understood as well as she did, that she wasn’t racing the other Hellion trainees.

“C’mon, princess! We haven’t even started yet!” Vollio took a sharp left, popping through an arched window as he made a shortcut for himself towards the gaping garden entrance that was the next part of the race. He was certainly still more skilled than she was on the board, Kyssindree had to admit that, she wasn’t as confident in her ability to steer yet, but that was okay, she had other advantages.

By the time they reached the garden Vollio was well in the lead, but she had almost caught up with his two wingmen. There was a moment of confusion as she skirted the border between two conflicting gravity wells, the blades of her board warding off the few sentient vines that reached out for her, sensing her body warmth and desiring to feed. Ahead of her the two wingmen glanced over their shoulders at her as they spiraled into the twisting maze of razorvine and barb-flowers that coated the floor, walls, and ceilings here. The place had once been the pleasure gardens of some long forgotten Archon, now overgrown and with ancient sculptures and floral displays left to rust and grow wild. She saw the flash of silver in their hands as they readied their blades, clearly not intending to allow her to pass them.

That was fine.

She hadn’t planned to let them survive much past this point anyway.

Vollio had been quite sloppy, probably too intent on his pride and his intent to betray her during the race. He hadn’t paid attention to the rules. After all, it was the rules that no racer should be carrying weapons, and it was most assuredly in the rules that the splinter pod cannons on the skyboards would not have any ammo in them. It was a crass oversight on his part that he’d not investigated her board before letting her race.

The staccato crack of her splinter pods sang happily in her ears, and one of the Hellions suddenly jerked in spasmodic pain as she swept the gunfire over him. She had been kind enough to use simply a pain amplification poison, so as long as no vital organs had been hit he would be fine…depending on how hard he crashed into the lethal foliage below. She laughed as he spun out of control and churned into the dense vines and barbed metal displays of the garden.

The second Hellion cut his acceleration and spun around, lashing out with his hellglaive at where he expected her to be. Instead she had foreseen the maneuver and had pulled upward. A sigh of pleasure hissed out between her lips as the bladed edge of her board slashed his face and skull open.
She let loose the undulating war cry that had been her signature in the arenas, a sign of a good kill. A sign for Vollio to understand what was coming for him.

In moments the gardens were past and Kyssindree shot through a massive hole in the side of a building to lean hard into a tight, and slightly shaky, turn that brought her sculling low over the waters of a mighty underground waterway. Far ahead of her she could see Vollio was making good time. He was a better pilot than her, more experienced at steering and using shortcuts that would have killed her. But this waterway ran all the way to the end of the course, and it was quite straight.

Vollio was more skilled, definitely. But Kyssindree had been an arena champion and Reaver Jetbike rider with few equals. She knew how to handle speed, and to coax every ounce of it out of any vehicle. She opened the throttle all the way and howled in pleasure as her skyboard shot forward.

Her exultant cries and the thunderous screeching of the engines being pushed past all suggested maximums caused Vollio to look over his shoulder in shock. His eyes widened in terror at the sight of the out of control board hurtling unimaginably quickly down the tunnel towards him, a cackling madwoman atop it, her long black hair billowing out behind her as her eyes flashed in glee.

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

Ben’rik and Wren flanked Tael as they hovered in the Invernill Gap near where the water drainage tunnel erupted out of the side of the basalt black glassteel walls of the canyon, the massive jet of water arcing in a cascading and raging spiral of water as it plunged down in the cascading sheets of a waterfall into the darkness far below. Above them were the crystal spires where the Scourges hunted the skies, and occasionally Ben’rik could spot one of the winged warriors flitting across the sky. It was a dangerous place for a Hellion up there, just as it would be dangerous for the Scourges to descend into the narrower confines of the Gap.

He liked it here, things were understood. The high aeries of the Gap belonged to the Scourges, the middle ground was the unquestioned realm of the Hellions, and the dank, shadowy floor of the Gap…Ben’rik glanced down and managed to resist the urge to shudder. Well…that was claimed by others. It wasn’t a question of giving in to those other forces, it was just an understanding of the proper order of such things. The Hellions controlled the middle sky, such was as it had been and always would be.

He pulled his cloak tighter around him, the misty spray from the waterfall leaving him wet and miserable. Wren stood next to him, shivering slightly in the damp air and chill winds. Her spiky red hair was plastered to her head, the thick, black, mascara around her eyes running in inky rivulets down her alabaster white cheeks. Tael was in front of them, wrapped in Wren’s warm and waterproof cloak, having forgotten his own. His intense blue eyes focused on the finish line of the race.

“Why is this so important we have to watch?” Ben’rik sighed miserably, wishing he was back in his tent.

“Because, she’ll want us to watch.”

Even as Tael finished speaking Ben’rik could hear the sound of approaching skyboard engines. There was a blast of heat and smoke as a figure blasted out of the tunnel, spiraling madly and fighting to regain control. Ben’rik’s eyes widened as the shape resolved into Kyssindree. She crouched upon her skyboard, her black hair whipping wildly around her maniacally grinning face. She was splattered with blood, and her left leg and flank had been scorched cherry red with burns from an overheated exhaust port on the side of her skyboard that was hissing and steaming in the mist.

Vollio came next, mere moments after her he soared out of the tunnel, his eyes narrowed and a scowl on his features as he eyed Kyssindree. She stood up on her skyboard, not even aware that anyone was there but her and Vollio, and she raised her hands in acceptance of the victorious applause of the audience only she could hear.

“You won,” snarled Vollio darkly as the other Hellions began to trickle in from the race, “I suppose you’ll want my board now?”

“Why should I?” She laughed, “it’s so slow I’d fall asleep on it. No, this board is mine, and you will all learn to fear the sound of its passing.” Kyssindree’s face was plastered with watery spray that washed the blood from her pale features as she smiled. Tael seemed to mirror the grin from their hidden watching position.

“Make arrangements for her to join my squadron, she’s ready to come on a raid.”
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Anggul
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Nov 28 2011, 18:31

Manly screams of delight.

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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Nov 28 2011, 18:33

Manly screams before I can even finish updating everything, huzzah Very Happy Just for everyone's benefit - an extra sized chapter Wink Also, the next chapter is already written and pretty much polished, so will show up within another day or so - so there should be lots of reading for those who desire it.

As mentioned earlier, sometimes I like to be ahead of the game in order to be able to go back and add a chapter - and before the bank heist I thought it would be nice to see Kyssindree training with skyboards, and also get a glimpse into her past as she rose to prominence in the Cult of The Bloodied Kiss.
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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Nov 28 2011, 20:45

Quote :
Manly screams of delight.

Makes my girly squee look quite ... girly Very Happy

It was nice to see some of her background, and the developing tension within the group. Indeed politics is not just for Archons ...
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Deneris
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Nov 28 2011, 20:59

An excellent chapter as always, but it was STILL too short Wink

Any thoughts on modelling any of the characters described there-in?
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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Tue Nov 29 2011, 00:52

@Lady Malys wrote:
It was nice to see some of her background, and the developing tension within the group. Indeed politics is not just for Archons ...
Indeed, I'm hoping to manage to show that the competitiveness and backstabbing mindset of the DE stretches from Vect's throne room all the way down to the smallest back alley dive. I'm glad you're picking up on some of the angles, The Howlers are a bit of a powderkeg, and Kyssindree is most assuredly something of a match.

@Deneris wrote:
An excellent chapter as always, but it was STILL too short Wink

Any thoughts on modelling any of the characters described there-in?
At about 10 pages in Word, it's as long as any chapter is likely to be barring maybe the climax since I consider that fairly optimal pacing wise.

Have you seen my modeling skills?

No, I have no planned intentions to make The Howlers, or the Bloodied Kiss or any other organization for tabletop play. Maybe I'll offer up some prose on my own Kabal in the future, but though I have some clear visions in my mind about how things look in this story, I'd just frustrate myself trying to craft them in plastic.

You're welcome to do it and post pics though Wink
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Skjalgepalg
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Tue Nov 29 2011, 07:44

You sir, just made my tuesday morning leagues better.

For some reason I got hung up in the tiny detail of Tael "forgetting" his own cloak only to claim Wrens. With his constant poking at Wren, you keep filling the cup, which I cannot wait for to runneth over ^^

The insight to her past was very good. Showing us how she reacts to helplessness and defeat once more; defiant and ever plotting past it.

Now to invent that waiting machine...
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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Tue Nov 29 2011, 19:39

@Skjalgepalg wrote:
You sir, just made my tuesday morning leagues better.
Very Happy

@Skjalgepalg wrote:
For some reason I got hung up in the tiny detail of Tael "forgetting" his own cloak only to claim Wrens. With his constant poking at Wren, you keep filling the cup, which I cannot wait for to runneth over ^^
Yeah, I'm having some fun playing with...I dunno how to phrase it properly...levels of deception? Certainly all Dark Eldar are brought up in a world where they understand they will need to either claim power or kowtow to others. But though all DE are somewhat cruel and untrustworthy at heart, there are most assuredly degrees of it - there's a reason Vect sits at the pinnacle, and that's because he's a magnificent bastard.

Down in the Hellion gangs you'd have...less successful bastards, as it were. Thus you have Ben'rik, who's most assuredly a manipulative and untrustworthy guy, but he's also fairly simplistic compared to the plottings of Tael. Wren is sort of on a lower post yet, she's more animalistic and emotion driven and less cold calculating thought like Ben'rik or Tael, but she most assuredly should be watched. Just because you have a loyal attack dog doesn't mean it won't bite if overlooked or mistreated for too long. I'm sure that will come back to haunt Tael some day... Wink

@Skjalgepalg wrote:
The insight to her past was very good. Showing us how she reacts to helplessness and defeat once more; defiant and ever plotting past it.
Kyssindree is a fun character to write, and is growing on me as the story progresses. She's evil, but very playful as well, and is most assuredly convinced of her own superiority. Her ego certainly gets her into trouble, but it also is backed up by enough beauty and skill that she continues to dance away from outright disaster. I wonder if her luck will hold?

@Skjalgepalg wrote:
Now to invent that waiting machine...
You probably did pretty well on it - there's another chapter inbound today. cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Tue Nov 29 2011, 19:53

Chapter 6: The Archon

Obessa let out a croaked cry, too exhausted to manage a full scream anymore. She couldn’t even tell if she wished to wail in pain or pleasure at this stage. She flopped backward, sweat and blood flinging off her bare skin as she lay in a contented and confused sprawl, her legs folded up beneath her, feet pressed to her buttocks, as her arms splayed outward.

An elegant hand reached out to grip a handful of Obessa’s purple hair, pulling tight on it as he hauled the exhausted Wych’s head upward. Obessa’s eyes fluttered as she tried to bring herself to focus her vision, but the shape in front of her just seemed to swim hazily.

“Your voice is unpleasurable.”

Obessa reached up weakly with one hand, trying to motion to the old scar on her throat as she tried to explain the wound and what it had done to her voice. Even as she started to form words, fighting through her exhaustion to do so, a frigidly painful slap struck against her face.

“I said your voice was unpleasurable, and your first instinct is to try to speak with it? You are as stupid as your voice is ugly.”

“Milord Douraal.” The new voice squeaked from the entryway to the room. A minor dignitary wearing the silken robes of a chamberlain-attendant was there, his face pressed to the polished black floor in deference as he held forth a data scroll sealed with the mark of Obessa’s Wych Cult, the Bloodied Kiss. “The Lady Ayasha has arrived for her audience.”

“We shall meet her here,” said the man holding Obessa’s hair so tightly, “send for her, arrange an honor guard as escort, execute all the menials that are aware she arrived and any menials they might have spoken to.” The chamberlain scraped his head in understanding as he crawled backwards from the room. Douraal suddenly released her, sending Obessa sprawling back into the bloodsilk pillows of the bed. There was a slight chime as a silver rod was struck against a crystal gong. The soft whisper of bare feet hissed across the floor as over a dozen attendants rushed forward to dress their master.

Archon Douraal stood with his arms outstretched as the slaves wrapped his ghostly white skin in black micromesh armor. Next came the mirrored black lamellar armor plates. Hooks were clipped into flesh, cutting down to nerve bundles, and stiff, sharp straps were almost maliciously pulled tight around lean and muscular limbs to fasten the intricate armor in place. Archon Douraal let out a soft sigh of pleasure, his red-rimmed eyes rolling back slightly in their sockets as his spidery thin mouth crooked open. Finally came his weapons and accoutrements. A supple belt of child flesh was strapped to his waist, his curved sword hanging jauntily from it. A holster of finest sslyth scale skin was attached, a ruby encrusted blast pistol waiting within. A dozen small fighting knives, treated with poisons ranging from instantly deadly, to merely incapacitatingly painful, were secreted in hidden and obvious sheaths alike. Then a rich blood red cape was laid across his shoulders, platinum clasps inlaid with the fingerbones of his father attaching it to his shoulder guards.

A sharp snap of his fingers had the slaves drawing back the curtains that divided the room to reveal a raised dais and an ornate chair of glistening white bone. Dourall took hold of the silvered chain that attached to Obessa’s collar as he strode to his throne. She crawled desperately to keep pace with him, being half dragged and choked as he stalked up the steps. Behind her other rich black curtains were drawn, converting the bedroom into a throne room suitable for the meeting. The slaves fell into place, arranging themselves with fans, platters of sweetmeats and fruit, and preparing a chilled decanter of fine wine.

Moments later the purple crystal quartz doors swung open with a near silent hiss of power. Sharp footsteps of metal on stone glass rang through the room as four armored warriors entered in perfect precision lockstep. Their full-body black armor and white skull faced helmets marked them as adherents of the Incubi temple, the finest warriors souls could buy. Their klaives, massive, powered, double-handed, swords, rested ever ready on their shoulders, one hand holding each huge blade as though it was feather light. Their cloaks were in the purple and black color scheme of Douraal’s House, and bore his sigil, marking them as employed by him. Until the moment their contract expired they were dedicated to his cause and as loyal as anything could be in the Dark City.

Normally the sight of four such warriors of nigh unsurpassed skill and deadly devotion would have kept all eyes on them alone. Only the fifth figure prevented this, escorted between them yet walking as if they should be honored to serve as her guard. Her onyx and emerald green armor glinted with golden highlights in the light of the room, but nothing gleamed as much as the perfectly sculpted and firm flesh that was tantalizingly bared by the sheer armor. A barbed whip coiled about her waist, up between her breasts, and looped around her neck like a lover’s caress. The gold and crystal handle was wrapped in elegantly cured strips of leather, flensed from the body of a slain Mon-Keigh Space Marine.

“Ayasha.”

Obessa spoke the word in breathless awe as she immediately dropped her head to the ground before Ayasha Indrainel, Succubus of The Bloodied Kiss Cult. Douraal let out a slight hiss of annoyance as he pulled painfully on the chain of her choker, pulling her up from her bow to sprawl once more at his feet.

Ayasha walked up to them, the Incubi trailing closely along with her, hands ever ready on their mighty klaives. Her steps were whisper silent across the polished stone floor, the gentle sway of her hips causing only the slightest metallic jingle in her armor from the dozens of delicate golden bells attached to it. Obessa had watched her in a private showing once duel three other Wyches, all while her movements played out the favorite song of their host in her beautifully jingling armor. Ayasha was the finest warrior in the whole Cult, and one of the finest in all of the Arena with the barbed lash and whips she favored.

“Archon Douraal.” Ayasha’s head dipped in the slightest of bows, just enough to maintain decorum to the master of the house, but no more. Ayasha’s voice was like liquid Tyber poison, delicate and seemingly innocent, yet hiding deadly and dangerous just beneath the surface if you were to handle it wrong. “I see by the color in your cheeks that my…messenger,” Ayasha motioned at Obessa, “has met with quite some,” Ayasha offered a wicked and conspiratorial smile, “satisfaction?”

Douraal didn’t say anything, though his thin lips drew tighter together. He released his hold on Obessa’s chain while at the same instant lashing out with a sharp kick to her back. Obessa let out a yelp of surprised pain as she tumbled down the steps to land in a heap at the bottom, the harsh journey across the marble steps tearing open some of the gashes across her back again and releasing a crimson stain down her naked shoulders. She, wisely, stayed where she had fallen, knowing full well that to raise her head too much at this stage would only invite further reprisal.

“She has a voice like a dying grox cat,” offered Douraal.

“Yet she is well trained in other arts that do not require much speaking, and you must admit the look in her eyes during…everything, can be quite enjoyable.”

“Well trained? I question the training of your whole rabble Cult. You were painfully incapable of dealing with a simple assignment.”

“If the assignment were simple we would not have been needed in the first place. Let me assure you we are all ashamed that we didn’t accomplish the goal already, but we are taking pains to educate everyone who failed you.” Ayasha shifted a foot forward, using one perfect toe to prod Obessa’s chin upwards to look at the Succubus. She mouthed a simple order, and Obessa complied quickly, propping herself up on her hands and knees. Ayasha sat down, Obessa wincing in exhausted pain even as she thrilled to the feeling of her Succubus’ perfect and succulent legs pressing skin to skin with her back.

“This is going to cost me more, isn’t it?” Douraal sighed as he motioned to the slaves who moved forward to offer Ayasha food and wine.

“Oh, I think we can come to an agreement on that that will cost you next to nothing.” Ayasha smiled as sweetly as a viper as she selected an exquisite crème and fruit morsel and gently licked at it with a secretive flick of delicate pink tongue. “I have watched some of the vid feeds of the Reaver Jetbike attack, if you were to provide my Cult exclusive contract rights to the vid feeds of our hunt then-“

“No!”Douraal’s mailed fist smashed down on the arm of his throne, chipping the ornately carved designs and sending small slivers of ivory bone bouncing across the floor.

Ayasha paused in playing with her desert, one perfectly formed eyebrow lifting in careful consideration of the outburst. Douraal had gone stone still after his cry, and now took a measured pair of breaths, slowly forcing the enraged choler from his face. Thin lips split into an ungainly and forced grin.

“No, the vid feeds are for me and me alone, I receive them all or I will find some other employees who can deliver what I require.”

“As you wish, of course.” Ayasha dipped her head slightly. “If that is your desire there will be some…not minor expenses. After all, I think we can both agree that it will take more than a simple handful of Wyches to deal with this problem.”

“Agreed, let us come to terms then.”

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

Eleven skyboards cut across the dark blue sky, it was midday in the Dark City and the captive suns were releasing just enough luminescence to cast a murky grey light across the more exposed sections of the city.

She was still getting used to the skyboard. It was a slow and ungainly craft compared to her jetbike, yet was still complicated to master as most of the control of the craft came from subtle shifts of weight. The trickiest part had been learning to adjust her strikes so that every attempted blow didn’t upset her balance and send her careening off in an out of control spiral.

“You move like an inebriated mon-keigh,” announced Wren as she zipped up alongside Kyssindree. The whip-thin girl balanced with casual ease upon her skyboard, her wild, sharp locks of ruby red hair snapping around her pale face as she smirked at her own jibe.

“And you smell like one, thankfully, with practice, I can overcome my limitations,” Kyssindree retorted without even sparing a glance at the ganger. Partly because she wished to clarify to Wren how far beneath her notice she was, though partly because she was worried the glance would upset the otherwise smooth flight line she had currently achieved.

Per standard, lacking much of a clever reply, Wren barred her sharpened teeth at Kyssindree before accelerating forward to fall into position behind Tael. Kyssindree’s eyes lingered on Tael for a moment. The red scarf wrapped around his face was whipping in the wind, tossing itself wildly with his pale white hair across his broad shoulders. She had learned he had come to be amongst The Howlers after being abandoned by some Kabalite allies. The realization that he had once been amongst the Kabals helped explain some of his manner and attitudes, the Kabals were composed of only the most violent and capable of Dark Eldar, culled from the finest and toughest warriors of any given district and trained in the arts of war. Though the average Kabalite was certainly inferior to the Wych Cults in training, they were still a finer class than the detestable Hellions.

That explained his better training and grasp of tactics, and even some of his odd manners. Still, Kyssindree was certain there was more to it than that. A Kabalite Warrior who had been scheduled for death would simply be shot or stabbed unless the crime deserved a more…entertaining execution. No, someone had wanted Tael to be dead, but had also desired he suffer for it, hunted, alone, torn to shreds by the might of an Ur-Ghul. This was not a casual killing that he had survived.

She wasn’t sure what use the knowledge of his past would get her, but so tightly had her fate now been tied to this gang and whatever his plans for it were she was certain that the more she knew about him the better for her it would be.

Tael led them down in a sharp and dizzying drop towards their target, a lending house of the Black Shift Trade Consortium. The elegantly curved spires of the building were decorated with gleaming glass sculptures and windows, as well as still screaming figures of creditors who had failed to meet their payment deadlines. The delicate minarets, though architecturally attractive, also served as guard posts for black armored figures in flowing red capes, members of Black Shift’s guard elite. The guards had already spotted their approach, but were still clearly a little disbelieving that anyone could be so foolish as to try an attack like this in the middle of the peak trade hours. Indeed, rows of merchants, brokers, and representatives of other trade organizations were still arrayed in a vast queue in front of the building with their own bodyguards, slaves, and servants in tow.

Even as Tael’s wing came into view the roar of their skyboards served as a signal to the forces hidden in the crowd. Vollio and his men tore off the brown trade robes they had been wearing to reveal Hellion fighting leathers, spiked armor, and the distinctive red sashes and scarves of The Howlers. Beside them the “slaves” they had been coming to exchange for soul chits suddenly popped free of their chains, the motley assortment of lesser races that Tael had somehow conned, paid, or wheedled into his service taking a clear and particular joy as they drew forth weapons and began to attack any Dark Eldar within easy reach.

Vollio and his men, however, made a focused and rushed assault towards the door, their blades cutting a swath through the still confused crowds as their splinter pistols cracked out a fusillade of shots at the Black Shift guards on the roof walkways.

Half of the mounted Hellions in Tael’s unit cut off from him at that point, howling and screeching in their simplistic joys as they added the rapid spray of splinter pod fire to the assault on the guards. Most of the Black Shift guards died in the first moments, sharpened crystal flachettes of poison punching through their gleaming black armor to tear apart innards and leave them frothing and twitching on the ground as they experienced a slow and glorious death. Those that survived were quickly pinned down behind what cover they could find, trying to snipe at the attackers with their rifles but unable to mount a proper defense or to pull together for a counter attack.

Tael, Wren, Kyssindree, and the others kept to their course. Tael almost casually sweeping his hellglaive into his hands as they approached one of the massive windows emblazoned with the symbol of Black Shift. A quick burst of his splinter pods shattered the pane of glass as he swept into the building. Wren came next, cackling with glee as she followed in his wake. Kyssindree quickly thumbed her combat drug dispenser into action, feeling a pleasurable rush of heat wash through her as the Razorblack took effect. Not that she needed the feeling of security and confidence to steer the untrustworthy skyboard through the jagged edged hole of glass in front of her, certainly not.

She gritted her teeth as she steered in, too proud to cut her speed from the same pace as the other two. She tested her balance and allowed a slight shift of the skyboard…perhaps more than she’d intended, as she howled through the opening. A flash of sharp pain in her scalp announced where a shard of razor edged glass had sliced into her flesh. But then she was through and other things called for her attention.

Wren was letting out whooping war cries as she spun around the main chamber of the lending house, bursts of her splinter pods tearing apart anyone who attempted to move from the cover of their hiding places. Tael, meanwhile, had swept in low, his hellglaive splitting open a pair of guards as he started to disembark from his skyboard, already preparing to attach a haywire bomb to the gleaming security doors that dominated the room. Coming up behind him she could see a guard he and Wren had missed slipping out of cover, a twin bladed punch knife gripped in his hand.

Kyssindree cut the throttle to her board even as she released the security hook that kept her secured to the nose of the skyboard. She sprang forward as the board slowed, not giving up any of the momentum as she vaulted through the air, drawing forth two dueling knives from forearm sheaths as she sailed down towards the guard. The Razorblack thrummed in her veins, making her feel invincible, and it was all she could do not to laugh in glee as she saw her leap had been timed perfectly.

Her strike was slightly off. The primary thrust through the base of his neck was deflected minutely by some decorative plates on the edge of his cloak lining, which allowed him to manage a gurgled shout of pain before he died. Her secondary slash downward across his inner thigh was perfect though, and launched up a spray of femoral blood that would have playfully splashed on Tael’s neck if he hadn’t already been turning at the sound of the shout. As it was, instead it splattered his shoulder.

He glanced at her, his face was hidden behind his scarlet scarf but from the look in his icy eyes she suspected he was smirking at her. She returned the grin with a slight flourished salute of her blades before falling back.

“Tael!” The cry came from the doorway where Vollio and Glynn’s men had secured the main entryway. The Hellions and the slave race mercenaries had taken up positions on the basalt steps leading up to the door. Crouched behind decorative statuary and architectural flourishes they readied their weapons and continued to keep up a steady stream of shots at the crowds which were fleeing for cover in the streets and alleys around them. “Ben’rik says at least one glider slipped past his blockade.”

“Ask Ssinssilla, how much longer on the communications jammer.” He asked the the question casually, not seeming rushed at all as he finished adjusting the Haywire bomb.

Kyssindree turned and sprinted to the doorway. Wren and a few other Hellions were now stalking amongst the customers and staff of the lending house, taking from them any valuables they could. In the chaos outside the door Kyssindree could see that at least one detachment of guards was mounting a serious effort to repulse the attackers, they had taken up positions within a small shop building near the lending house, and were firing their weaponry with focused precision at the mercenaries who were too dumb or engorged on violence to take proper cover.

Ssinssilla was looming next to Vollio. The massive Sslyth resembled nothing less than a man-sized snake with four arms and a head. She wore a battered set of blue armor on her upper torso, while her coiling serpent tail was currently tightly bunched beneath her as she took cover behind a low blade-edged wall. Vollio was re-loading his splinter pistol and sneered at Kyssindree as she arrived.

“What’s taking so long in there? Black Shift will have a splinter force worth of men on our heads in no time.”

“Ssinssilla,” Kyssindree contentedly ignored Vollio, “Tael wants an update on the jammer.” Ssinssilla used two of her arms to fire a pair of matched splinter pistols over the wall while a third lifted up a device from her harness sash. Reptilian red eyes narrowed and a black tongue flicked out twice in what Kyssindree had learned as the closest approximation to a Sslyth gulping nervously.

“Five minutes, at most.” The fearsome serpent warrior glanced at Kyssindree sharply. “We’ll be able to hold out slightly longer than that, but will need to be departing soon or we’ll be cut off.”

Kyssindree nodded as she spun around and sprinted back inside, making sure to flick her long hair showily in the direction of the gun positions the guards had taken, daring them to try to hit her as she moved back into the cover of the interior.

Even as she entered she saw the haywire bomb go off. The electromagnetic pulse dancing and crackling along the doors, disabling their locking mechanisms, with a groan the doors swung open. There were guards waiting in the hallway beyond, already arrayed behind makeshift barricades, their splinter rifles propped up and pointing at the door. The offices contained the senior staff of the lending house, important staff that had undoubtedly hid there in the expectation that reinforcements would arrive long before the attackers penetrated the security doors. Tael laughed as he called out to them from behind the doorjamb.

“One chance, I’ll double your day’s payment and allow you to walk out of here alive, a fine deal from any angle!” He was answered by the hissing crack of the rifles firing. He shrugged as he pulled a pair of smoke bombs off his belt and nodded to her as he cast them inside. In a flash of light the room was suddenly filled with billowing black clouds. He charged forward with his hellglaive, and she sprinted in alongside him, knives at the ready.

The guards were not poorly trained, and unleashed a hail of gunfire despite being unsure of their targets, but Kyssindree ducked and rolled before springing upwards to vault the first barricade, her blades finding an eager home in the eyeslits of a warrior’s helmet. Tael’s method was less subtle; he simply used the power and weight of his glaive to shatter the barricade before slicing his opponent down at the knees. Other Hellions charged in behind them, knives flashing in the smoke as they bore down on the security personnel.

Kyssindree laughed as she sprang into the center of the main knot of guards, drinking in the pained emotions and death wails of those around her, reveling in the dance that was this combat. Her soul sang and reminded her what life was truly about. Knives, bayonets, and even lashing fists came at her, but she danced amongst them, weaving away at the last second. Occasionally she would pause, offering a tantalizing glimpse of bare midriff, or turning to present firm and ready breasts towards a plunging blade. But it was all a taunt, and she would snatch away their desired prize at the last instant, twisting away as they overextended their reach, and rewarding them with a delicately subtle taste of her own blade as it slid between armored plates to strike deep into organs or important nerve clusters.
She danced with the meager hired rabble, and she could tell from the look in their eyes that they understood the gift she was giving them.

A beautiful death.

“You were not worthy of this treasure.” She calmly informed the last of them as she slid her blade up under his chestplate to tease his heart with the razor tip. She reached up with her other hand, grabbing the back of his neck and pulling him forward, her lips meeting his in a fierce kiss as she plunged her blade home, his lifeblood erupted up his throat as he died drowning, the blood frothing out of his mouth and into hers. She gave him the deepest of kisses before allowing him to drop to the ground, reaching up she brushed her fingers across her bloodied lips as she blew a kiss to Tael who stood waiting for her.

She could see it in his eyes as he looked at her, those icy orbs burning with an inner heat. She was glorious, and she knew it. She gave him a bloodstained smile as she marched to his side while he used his glaive to cleave open the office door of the lending house master. There were shrieks of alarm from the clustered officials inside the office. Most of them were already starting to babble and try to offer bribes or other promises to ensure their safe passage from the building.

“I only need Master U’din. The rest of you should leave.”

Kyssindree laughed at them as they scurried out of the office like vermin when the lights in a room are turned on. It amused her enough she made a squealing noise at one or two as they fled past her, and even sliced off one’s ear for looking at her too long. He squealed, much like a rodent, after that as he scurried off holding his bleeding wound. Soon all that was left in the room was Master U’din.

The pale merchant wretch sat trembling in his sapphire robes of office, fluttery hands already rising to ward off Tael as he strode forward. Kyssindree slipped into the room, happily falling down to lounge across one of the chairs in front of his workstation. She swung a leg over the armrest and leaned back in languid grace, the rush from the fight and the rather potent batch of Razorblack was leaving her quite happily intoxicated with herself.

“You.” Tael’s glaive swung down to slam into the thin wrought metal of the workstation surface, embedding itself there as Tael leaned forward. “You’re in charge of all the most important storages here.”

“Yes, yes, of course,” the lending master quailed, his head bobbing in agreement. He was such an ugly and unathletic creature, Kyssindree was amazed anyone would trust him with anything.

“That’s good,” Tael nodded, “because we’re here to murder someone.”
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Tue Nov 29 2011, 20:43

I was thinking exactly the same thing as Skjaalgepalg when reading about Tael "forgetting" his cloak Wink

Really nice work again, it's just breathtakingly great (is that even a word?^^) and one can really see everything just as if one would be there.
Tha flashback was a great "detail" too, showing more of her personality and motivations.

Everything about this chapter was great, except the tiny repetation of both "skyboards humming with barely restrained power".
But as I said, it's just a teeny weeny detail that doesn't change anything about your skills being just grat.

Keep up the great work.

edit: Wrote this jsut when you posted the newest chapter, I'm gonna read it right away Smile

edit No.2: Just read the newest chapter, it's great.
The assault at the final room, across the floor with the guards actually reminds me of a scene in one Gaunt's Ghosts- novel.

And once more, the fighting was amazingly described.

Also, the idea of the bells attached to the Succubus' clothes playing a melody is just fitting.

All in all, your descriptions of the Archon's residence and everything else is great.

Thank you. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Tue Nov 29 2011, 21:24

More of a repitition of 'barely restrained' as far as I can see (as least that's all I found).

Good catch there - one of the things I do during grammar checks is also try to free myself of reworked similar phrases, as I am prone to that. Thanks for the call out, we'll try to do better for you in the future Wink

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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Nov 30 2011, 03:21

For some reason I didn't get my notification email ... Good job I checked anyway Very Happy

You capture the atmosphere perfectly. You also convey a lot by the smallest of details - I think that what can be inferred is often more effective than a lot of line by line description of events. Nicely done!

I suppose that in a way, the Kabals have taken the position once held by the old noble houses they once rose up against, while their position is now filled by the Hellion gangs, though usually with much less subtlety than the Kabalites. What happens when you add subtlety to the mix is going to be interesting to watch ... and safest from a distance ...

From what I can see it's plain that Kyssindree sees the Hellions as a simple, almost animalistic bunch of hooligans (dangerous, but in the same way that wild dogs are dangerous). It would be a good contrast to know how they see their ways and behaviours. Actually Hellions are by no means my most favourite troop type, but anthropologically (Eldarologically? Very Happy) this would be fascinating.

Is Tael underestimating Wren, or is he priming her to go off at some point for some more complex purpose? ... hmm now where's that waiting machine ...
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Skjalgepalg
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Nov 30 2011, 08:07

@Lady Malys wrote:
... hmm now where's that waiting machine ...
I think it overexerted itself and needs to cool down, but hey, it worked! ^^

A nervous sslyth. melikes! (Offtopic, but -can they ride skyboards?)
Poor Obessa; (ab)used by her succubus and mr. Archon. But at the very least she is alive, and able to serve as a good conduit for channeling the split between Kyssindree and her former cult.

Reading your combat scenes is as pleasurable as always. I wonder if Kyssindree will ever pick up a Hellglaive, as they are "designed" to go well with her new fighting approach from the skyboard. Then again, I guess it would be below her station to use such a brutish weapon.

Once more you have left me hungering for more. I keep wondering if you have any formal training in storytelling/writing.

Your skill is remarkable either way.
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sat Dec 03 2011, 08:37

I find myself in the funny position, that i am putting down my current reading (infernal atlas from BL), printing out your work and reading it on the way to work Very Happy

In other words, your story telling abaility and what comes from it is pure gold to me.

And if you find the time, you might look into the pm i have send you a while back.

Now i am actually looking forward to make my way to work!
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Dec 22 2011, 04:02

Chapter 7: The Murder

The lift vibrated slightly, and it was only the vague feeling in Kyssindree’s gut that told her they were moving downward. They were entering the undervaults of the Black Trade Consortium, a special and heavily secured warehouse where only the most wealthy of clientele could afford to store their goods. This had been the purpose for the raid, that much was clear. As soon as U’din had opened the seals and summoned the lift to carry them down into the undervaults Tael had ordered the bulk of the Howlers to make good their escape with the stolen goods they had already wrested.

Tael had only brought a small escort of five with him. Wren, Ben’rik, three other Howlers from Ben’rik’s flight, and herself. Master U’din, lending master of Black Shift Consortium stood with them, wringing his hands unhappily. He had pudgy and wrinkled features, a sign that he indulged too much in rich food and wine and was too weak or cowardly to enjoy regular intakes of pain, which meant Kyssindree had already decided she didn’t like him and had been contemplating the most amusing way to disembowel him ever since the trip in the lift had started.

“I could be killed for doing this.”

“You will be killed if you don’t.” Tael shrugged at the merchant, his cold blue eyes regarding the man dismissively from over the red scarf wrapped around his face. Kyssindree could tell Tael was already bored of trading barbs with a man of such lesser stock. “As already noted, you have certain death or highly probable death, a wise man should be able to figure out the odds for himself.”

“What are we doing here?” Ben’rik had been pacing nervously back and forth since the lift had started down. It had been clear that he had wanted no part of joining this phase of the raid. Indeed, he had been a last minute substitution, Tael had ordered him to join them on the jaunt almost as if by a whim. “With the bulk of the gang gone we’re hardly going to be able to make off with much of the treasure here.”

“We’re not here to steal anything large, we’re here to kill someone.”

“So you keep saying,” Ben’rik spat in annoyance, “but have you figured out how we’re going to get out of here? There are probably already four score warriors topside and there’s only one lift in and out of this vault.”

“Yes, there’s only the one lift, and, yes, there will be a lot of soldiers up there in moments.”

“But we have a way to get out?”

“Of course,” Tael shrugged.

“And…,” Ben’rik spat again in annoyance as Tael’s silent pause stretched uncomfortably long, “it is?”

“All in due time, my dear friend,” Tael laughed, “have no fear, I don’t intended to die down here.”
Kyssindree couldn’t help but smirk. It was well played by Tael, he’d made himself indispensable to the group, so that no treachery could be risked until they all knew the escape route. Not only that, Tael had taken the leader of almost any betrayal with him, drastically lessening the chance of any coup waiting for him if it took them a while to get back.

With a grinding shudder the lift reached the vault level. Tael smiled, his eyes eagerly ablaze as the doors slid open. He reached out and grabbed a handful of U’din’s robes as he shoved the chubby merchant through the doorway.

“The Kabal of Split Souls has a vault down here, take us to it.”

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

First Blade Falkyrk of Black Sail Trade Consortium considered the entrance to the under vaults. The most precious and important of resources entrusted to the Consortium were contained within. Their trade house here near the heart of High Commoragh itself had supposedly been the most secure of their holdings. But with all the constant harassment and raids from the Hellion gangs he had been obligated to press more and more resources into guard duty on distant operations, until the security at their core branch had been stretched dangerously thin.

Here now was their reward, a masterfully executed attack that had left the guards dead, a massive amount of ill will and claims for remuneration from all the Kabals and other dignitaries who had been harmed or robbed in the attack, and now the bulk of the Hellion forces had withdrawn with almost no casualties.

And the vaults had been breached.

“We have confirmation, First Blade.” His second stepped forward to show him a three dimensional uplink of the vaults, and the trace energy signatures therein. “There are still intruders within the vault, their allies withdrew before they were extracted.”

“Good,” Falkyrk grinned. “If we can present them it will go a long way towards ensuring we don’t spend much time in a pain amplifier. Prep four squads for assault.”

“Already done, sir, they just await your command.”

“Excellent, then-“

“First Blade! First Blade!” One of the young adjutants of a battle squad came rushing through the doors. “Sir, you need to get out here!”

“This had better be important,” snarled Falkyrk as he stormed away from the vault entrance, his second falling into position behind him. “What’s going on?”

“They forced their way through the blockade, sir, they already cut down two squads.”

Falkyrk’s eyes narrowed as he followed the adjutant’s pointing hand. Up in the sky he could see over a dozen Reaver Jetbikes hissing through the air, serving as escort to a sleek black and red Raider that was descending in a roar of screeching engines. The antigravity skimmer hissed to a stop mere feet from the ground as tall and athletic figures began leaping off it. Some of the Reaver Jetbikes landed as well, their blades glistening with blood that undoubtedly belonged to his men.

“Wych Cult,” he growled at the sight of so many near perfect bodies garbed in barely anything at all, “what are they doing here?” He stormed forward, already toying with the urge to have his men open fire, though even he understood that despite how outnumbered the Wyches were it might be dangerous to engage them.

“You are Falkyrk?” One of the Reaver riders walked forward to intercept him. Her lush figure was squeezed into a skintight bodysuit, and her long purple hair was pulled back in a severe braid from her doll-like features and wide attractive eyes. The only marring aspect of her was her voice, which was hoarse and croaked, no doubt due to whatever wound had caused the scar on her throat.

“First Blade Falkyrk,” he snarled, “what are you doing here?”

One of her eyebrows arched slightly at his tone, but her serene face remained passive. “When you recover your manners, you can call me Obessa, I am here as escort,” she motioned with one hand at the figures who had disembarked from the Raider, “to the Bloodbrides of the Bloodied Kiss Cult.”

Bloodbrides! Falkyrk swallowed nervously as he looked back at the ten exquisite and perfect specimens who were even now selecting armor, and weaponry from the equipment racks on the Raider. Bloodbrides were combat squads formed of only the most elite warriors of a Cult, and they were only sent into battle at the word of the Succubus alone.

“My Mistress was most displeased with this attack, as she lost a valuable slave,” Obessa continued casually. “Have you pursued the intruders into the undervaults?”

“No, not yet,” managed Falkyrk, even as he found himself wondering how she had access to information only he and the Board of Directors for Black Shift should have known.

“That is quite good,” Obessa offered him a wintery smile. “Keep your men on guard with the perimeter. When the Brides are ready they shall deal with the situation. All that is required of you is to stay out of the way.” Obessa nodded to him as she turned away to return to her charges.

Falkyrk sat grinding his teeth in frustration. He wasn’t sure what game was being played here, but he was absolutely certain what fate lay in store for him if this breach of security wasn’t solved by he and his. He motioned his second over with a slight nod of his head.

“Send in the squads, I’ll lead them myself. You stay here and delay that Wych Cult as long as possible. We’re taking out the intruders ourselves. The glory is for us…it has to be for us.”
----------------------------------------

Their footsteps echoed off the cavernous ceilings of the vault. They marched past massive doors each bearing ancient sigils denoting the Kabal, Coven, Cult, or individual the treasures beyond belonged to. U’din shuffled along at their head, occasionally aided by a prod from Tael’s hellglaive. The simpering merchant hadn’t even shown the slightest urge to try to betray them, or barter for his survival, or even to attempt escape, and Kyssindree was starting to wonder if he had anything resembling a backbone at all.

“Even if we broke into but a handful of these vaults we’d have enough wealth to not have to risk our necks for ages.” Ben’rik’s eyes glittered in glee at the idea as he leaned it towards her. “Surely you agree with me that some slight detours would be beneficial.”

“They don’t package glory in gold boxes and store it in dusty metal rooms,” she noted with a snort. “Besides, you don’t even know how to get out of here with your new wealth even if you could deal with Tael.”

“The vault entrance, it is here.” U’din skittered forward to motion to a gleaming set of crysteel doors artistically etched with the symbol of the Kabal of Split Souls.

“Open it.”

“Of course, of course.” Kyssindree frowned as she watched U’din enter a code and provide a retinal print at a small silver console. There was something about his manner that bothered her. It was almost as though he had become more animated, less sullen, there was now a glimmer of malice in his eyes as though he felt he was once more dealing with them from a position of power. She started to move closer to him, a hand dropping to one of the many knives on her belt as she readied herself. At the first sign of treachery she was fairly certain eight inches of metal would solve the problem. “It is done, lord,” U’din smiled unctuously as he motioned to Tael, “straight down the hall and the vault is yours for the taking.“

“I think you’re foolishly forgetting something.” Tael stepped forward and flipped up a panel, suddenly pressing his thumb down on a small needle in a depression there. “After all, the security system is doubtless primed to kill anyone who enters that hallway. “

“The fool is you,” sneered U’din as he stepped back, “improper DNA scans are as sure a death warrant as entering the hall and-“ Tael grinned at U’din as the panel let out a soft metallic chime. Kyssindree saw the merchant’s face drain of all color, his throat quivering as he swallowed repeatedly and nervously. “But…but…that’s impossible, you’d have to be…”

“I know who I am. I also know what you’ve become now. Expendable.”

His gaze flicked to Wren. The thin girl’s face split into an eager grin as she sprang upon U’din, her teeth finding his gobbling, soft, throat and tearing it open. Tael watched the performance with a soft look of bemusement on his face. Wren finally looked up eagerly as she finished, the last few twitches of U’din’s body causing his boots to rasp upon the floor.

“Good, now, we’re going into the vault, but there’s a few rules I want to make perfectly clear. First, we absolutely cannot touch anything in the vault unless I expressly tell you to. Second, in order to get out of here alive-“

That was when the splinter rifle round slapped into Tael’s chest.

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

Cali’q the Counter leaned over her shoulder, causing Obessa to jump slightly. He smiled at her, his silvery eyes glinting with amusement. He pressed close to her, his perfect body radiating warmth through her thin bodyglove suit.

“They say there was a woman who fought with the skills of the arena accompanying the Hellion band.” Cali’q’s voice had always unnerved Obessa, it felt as icy as a frozen blade sliding up your spine, even when he was trying to be pleasant. “They say she had long hair, black as night,” he reached out to toy with Obessa’s tightly braided hair, “and that she seemed to taunt anyone to harm her. Sound familiar?”

“Kyssindree died in the ambush,” Obessa answered as she stood up, trying to separate herself from him. He quickly snagged her shoulder and pulled her back against him, his hand snaking around her throat.

“It’s a shame, I wanted another opportunity to dance with her, she was always quite an excellent partner.” His breath hissed hot across her ear, and she felt his teeth click against the sensitive ends gently. Then he suddenly released her, leaving her flushed and embarrassed as he casually laughed. “If she’s down there I’ll bring you back her face to decorate your bike.” He then motioned over his shoulder to the other Brides, who were currently applying the blood-red make-up markings to their faces and armor that signified them as Bloodbrides. “We’re ready, shall we go?”

Obessa nodded, peeling herself out of Cali’q’s grip. Heading alongside the Raider transport the Bloodbrides fell into step behind her. They were laughing and joking, playfully exchanging boasts of their intended feats. These warriors were the best of the best, the finest her Cult had to offer. She pitied anything that stood in their way.

“You’ll have to halt right there.” A full squad of guards in service to the Black Shift Consortium was blocking the door into the tradehouse, weapons at the ready. Standing slightly in front of them, one of their officers held out his hand. “We’re still unsealing the safety holds, you won’t be able to go after them just yet.” The Bloodbrides drew up short, exchanging suspicious glances. Obessa agreed with them, something felt wrong.

“Where is your commanding officer?” She smiled as she stepped forward, “I would speak with Falkyk just so we can understand the situation better.”

“That would be,” the officer glanced over his shoulder, almost as if to assure himself he had twenty men supporting him, “impossible right now.”

“It is quite important, why not just raise him on your comm bracelet?” Obessa smiled sweetly. “Unless he’s too far underground for the signal to reach him?”

“No…he’s just…”

“Six.” Cali’q the Counter stepped forward, reaching out to casually brush Obessa aside now that she had revealed the obvious duplicity of the guards.

“Six?” The guard officer frowned as he gripped the knife strapped to his belt and tried to look menacing as the lone eldar strolled towards him.

“Six. That’s the number of moves it is going to take me to kill you,” Cali’q held up his hands and wiggled his fingers slightly to reveal he was holding no weapons, “with your own dueling knife.”

Cali’q grinned at the officer as behind him the Bloodbrides let out mocking laughter, their weapons glittering as they toyed with them. Obessa stepped back, not wanting to be splattered with any gore. As she had thought earlier; these warriors were the best of the best, the finest her Cult had to offer. She pitied anything that stood in their way...

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

“Where did you buy this batch?”

Kyssindree sounded peevish.

“It’s cut bad, and you know it.”

What amazed Ben’rik was that she was having a whole conversation with herself since Wren had yet to reply.

“It’s the worst mix I think I’ve ever had, you silly half-wit.” Kyssindree held up her hand which was shaking violently. “Someone mixed some Jetz into the Razorblack, because I should be feeling very mellow right now if I was coming down off Razorblack.”

It was becoming quite distracting.

“Of course, I suppose you like Jetz. It would explain why your brain only seems to work half the time considering what it does to your synapses. In fact,” Kyssindree sneered, “I think this puts such crystal clarity to so many of your problems that it’s almost laughable I didn’t think of it before.”

At least this time Wren looked over at Kyssindree. Her face was a mixture of confusion, anger, and incredulity. Ben’rik’s hand snapped out to take hold of Wren’s wrist. The young Hellion had clearly been about to point her splinter pistol at Kyssindree and fire.

If the Wych had noticed, and Ben’rik suspected she had, she gave no indication

“Remind me when we get back to the camp, I’m now in charge of all combat drug purchases. Of course you poor wretches will probably hardly know how to react if you get a proper cocktail. What else did you mix in, maybe some salt and a bit of your spit? Oh, you probably added the leftovers from breakfast too, that would make sense, yeah?”

“Do you not think there could be a better time for this?” Ben’rik slapped a fresh splinter cartridge into his pistol as he spoke. “We do have a few more serious concerns.”

“More serious?” Kyssindree popped up from behind the crates she was using as cover and fired a few more rounds from her splinter pistol at the Consortium guards trying to advance down the hallway. “The proper mixture of drugs can make or break a raid. Like how this idiot’s mixture mucked together in a lavatory somewhere is affecting my aim.”

Wren turned to snarl at Kyssindree, but stopped the motion to look over in concern when Tael cried out in pain. Jorik was currently wrenching out the splinter round from Tael’s chest as quickly as he could, using his dueling knife as a medical instrument. Ben’rik suspected it was a lost cause though, the shard had been inside Tael more than long enough to release its load of deadly toxins.

“See?” Kyssindree shrugged, “her brain is so fried on gutter-mixes that she can’t even access the speech centers of her brain anymore.”

Normally Ben’rik would have been quietly contented with Tael dying like this. However…there was the pressing issue that Tael was probably the only one who knew the way out of this wretched dead end death trap he’d led them in to. Meanwhile he was trying to keep two snarling she-beasts from killing each other, one with a besotted head and the other apparently having a bad drug trip.

He again considered his chances of switching into U’din’s clothes and trying to pass himself off as a wounded hostage. But…no, he couldn’t do that. Odds were the Consortium guards would have been obligated to memorize the faces of all high ranking officials.

“You four hold them off here, I’ll check on Tael and see what we can do about getting out of here.” Ben’rik paused a moment as he withdrew to look meaningfully at Golt and Dryk, the two Hellions firing their pistols wildly into the darkness. He gave them a knowing nod towards the women. “Try not to let them kill each other before we kill all of the ones shooting at us.” He half crawled and half slid across the floor towards Jorik, as he did he glanced at U’din’s body again, the robes were splattered with blood but otherwise untouched.

Maybe a faked facial wound?

“How is he,” he asked as he reached Jorik.

“Missed any vital organs, but the poison means…”

“He is dying,” Tael spoke, a soft chuckle of amusement escaping his already growing paler lips. A feverish sheen of sweat had broken out across his brow but his cold icy eyes still looked sharp and undimmed by pain or fever. “We need to fall back into the vault – there are…ngh…there are some anti-toxins in there.”

“Good, and what then? After the anti-toxin?”

Tael grew quiet as he looked at Ben’rik, and then winked. “After that, we murder someone and escape.”

“But how, how!”

“The anti-toxin…ah…I…I don’t know how long I have…old friend.” Tael smiled. “But I most assuredly…will not greet She Who Thirsts alone…” Tael’s smile was half manic and half vindictive, and Ben’rik cursed him heartily as he turned and crawled back towards the others.

He could remove his eyepatch, superficially slash up his face around the old scars, and act delirious. Perhaps through the blood none of the guards would notice.

“We’re falling back into the vault,” he told the others as he reached them, “there’s anti-toxin for Tael as well as what we came for.”

“And an escape route,” Golt looked worried.

“We can but hope,” Ben’rik spat.

“Hey, hey, hey.” Kyssindree was poking him in the shoulder repeatedly until Ben’rik snorted in annoyance and turned to her. Her eyes looked a little wild and she leaned in conspiratorially. “I’m a very slight touch out of it, but does it seem to you that it still sounds like they’re shooting, but that they aren’t shooting at us?”

“How much of a dose did you…” Ben’rik started to insult her but then paused as he realized she was correct. He could still hear the sudden hissing sound of splinter weapons firing, and the shouts of the Consortium guard commander. But what was lacking was the sharp crack of poison crystals impacting on the walls or makeshift barricades around them.

“What’s going on?” Golt peered up over the barricade, squinting and shaking his head. “I can’t tell.”

“It’s not the time to ask that.” Ben’rik was already up and running towards the vault, not about to complain about a lack of being shot at while retreating. Wren sprinted past him, but headed towards Tael to help Jorik carry him down the hall. Behind him he suddenly heard a chorus of undulating battle cries echo out of the darkness. Wyches! Ben’rik redoubled his run, sprinting for all he was worth down the hall and into the heart of the Kabal vault.

He didn’t regret not trying on U’din’s robes now, he suspected Wyches wouldn’t have bothered with preserving a wounded captive. Not that he was sure he liked his chances trusting in Tael either.

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

Kyssindree slowed down as she heard the war cries of a Wych Cult, a series of war cries she knew quite well. She looked ahead at the others as they ran up the hallway and then glanced back at Wren and one of the Hellions whose name she’d never bothered to learn came limping up with Tael. She caught his eye as they carried him past.

“Wyches, a full hunting party, they’ll cut us apart in seconds,” she smirked as she motioned to the hallway they were in, “but in a narrow space one warrior could hold them up quite well.”

“How long can you manage?”

“How long do you need,” Kyssindree laughed as she leaned in, grabbing the scarf off his face as she viciously kissed him, biting hard at his lower lip and drawing blood, before shoving him back at Wren. The female Hellion’s gaze was pure acid and poison, and Kyssindree happily laughed in her face as Tael fought to catch his breath. “I’ll handle this,” she announced, “just make sure to tell me when we’re leaving.”

“Of course,” Tael nodded to her, his icy eyes seeming to burn with a touch of fire in them as she licked his blood from her lips and wrapped his red scarf around her own neck. Then Wren and the other Hellion dragged him off. Kyssindree set her teeth, her ears already had some ringing in them from the Jets, much less the Razorblack trying to bring her down as the Jetz tried to keep her amped. Still…

She pressed the activation stud for her combat drug dispenser as she drew out two dueling knives and began bouncing lightly on the balls of her feet. She knew what was coming were Wyches from her own former cult, the Bloodied Kiss, and they were probably here hunting her for showing her face again. Such was well enough, she was not one to hide in the shadows, and was eager to meet some of her old sparring partners again. She didn’t have to wait long, the ten figures walking towards her approached openly and brazenly. Like her, true showmen, she appreciated the flaunt of their stride. Then her blood ran cold as she began to make out their weapons and the markings on their faces and armor.

The Bloodbrides, finest warriors of her Cult. An elite warrior body that she had often campaigned to be allowed to join but had never quite managed to attain the level of fame and the internal notoriety within the Cult to manage.

“Well, well,” spoke the Wych in the lead, Cali’q the Counter, Syren of the Bloodbrides, his twisted smile a promise of the amusment he would take from the deaths of others. His smoldering dark eyes looked at her with bemusement as he flipped his long ponytail over his shoulder and bowed to her. “Fancy meeting a dead woman here.”

“I’m not dead yet,” she laughed.

“No…not yet.” Cali’q motioned at her Hellion fighting leathers, “I see you have advanced your station quite wonderfully. A Hellion ganger, truly the arenas will ring with tales of your glories now.” His voice was cold and sharp. Kyssindree could well remember how he had always treated her back at the Cult, that cold superiority, that assurance that he was the finest fighter there, and the indulgent way he’d demand anyone lower ranked than him to serve his whims.

Exactly as she would have done.

And he knew she’d wanted his spot.

“Shall we see who is better today? She lifted a hand and motioned him forward.

“No, I would hate to die of boredom in the middle of a duel. Grexel.” He glanced at the female standing next to him, her hair dyed red and coiled in looping braids down her back, her face hidden by a mirrored facemask. “Amuse yourself with her.”

Grexel, the Bloody Mirror, let out a cackling laugh as she walked forward, she twisted her head side to side, like a snake, as she regarded Kyssindree and then slowly drew out two fighting knives. Kyssindree scowled as she lifted her own blades. Grexel was well famed for emulating the fighting style of anyone she fought, to face her, it was said, was to face yourself, and how could you ever defeat yourself?

“Okay,” Kyssindree laughed as she dropped into a combat stance as well, “I suppose I can kill all your underlings first, if that’s what it will take.”

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

“Now…just…to the left of the latch, there are two small gems, press the…red one…hold it…and then use your thumb to slide the yellow one to the left. Don’t touch any of the blue crystals…even slightly…or…” Tael’s voice drifted off somewhat and Ben’rik waited a moment to see if any more instructions were coming, then glanced at Wren.

“You heard him, do it.”

He certainly wasn’t going to risk triggering any traps on the box to save Tael’s miserable life.
It was quite maddening. All around him lay carefully ordered containers of all shapes, sizes, and designs. He knew that within them ranged wealth ranging from more soul chits than he could imagine, to some of the finest weaponry ever crafted in the Dark City. But, according to Tael, the entire place was rife with booby traps of the most deadly nature.

Still…

“So, Golt, what are you taking?” Ben’rik dropped back to stand by the Hellion as Wren opened up the small chest that Tael had claimed would contain the medication he needed.

“What do you mean?”

“Look around us,” Ben’rik waved his hand expansively, “I’m not walking out of here empty handed, and I’m sure you’re the same, am I right?”

“But Tael said…”

“Ha!” Ben’rik grinned at him as he conspiratorially leaned forward. He opened his satchel pouch enough to reveal an ornate blast pistol, the stock inlayed with fine wrought bone, and the gleaming barrel formed of an inky black metal that seemed to absorb rather than reflect light. “Pocketed this already, and I’ll probably snag something else as soon as I see something worth taking. Tael just wants to keep a certain fear in us so he can claim almost all the goods here.”

“Huh, yeah.” Golt nodded thoughtfully, his eyes already greedily starting to look across the room.

“Now…” Tael coughed “The vial marked with three vertical slashes atop an eye.”

Wren found the vial and brought it to him. Jorik loaded the dose of anti-toxin into an injector and pumped it into Tael’s arm. Tael’s teeth clenched as every muscle in his neck strained. Wren twitched around nervously, glancing up from him to the others and back again as she watched him convulse. Ben’rik stepped forward and laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder as Tael’s convulsions began to slow and he saw some color already leaking back into Tael’s face.

“Looks like you’re back with us,” he offered.

“Indeed,” Tael nodded weakly. “Now, if we can all come this-“ His words were cut off by a hideous scream. They all looked up as Golt stumbled backwards from a case, an ancient sword and scabbard held in his hand. Small metallic spiders were crawling all over him, spreading like wildfire as they consumed all organic material, his clothes, his hair, his flesh, his organs, his bones. Ben’rik’s eyebrows lifted in impressed awe as the vicious creatures finished their meal in moments and then seemed to melt and dissolve away into nothingness themselves.

“I hope I don’t need to repeat my warning about not touching anything again,” grunted Tael as he led them towards his next goal. Ben’rik glanced over his shoulder, eyeing what was left of Golt as he walked away. It was a shame he hadn’t mentioned that he’d claimed the pistol in his satchel not from the vault, but rather from a dead noble during the raid on the bank above.

Still, it was good to understand how dangerous claiming any treasures here would be.

“Ben’rik, old friend, come here, I think this is a task you’ll be quite suited for.”

“What task is that?” Ben’rik hurried to catch up to the others and found them standing in front of a large cylinder draped in black cloth.

“Under here is a stasis chamber,” Tael said, still leaning heavily on Wren to stay upright. “Since I’m not quite capable yet, and I’m sure it would give you undue pleasure, I want you to kill the person inside it.”

“That’s all? Then let’s do it and get out of here!” Ben’rik reached up and jerked the cloth off the statis chamber, revealing the gleaming brass machinery and a large clear window into the interior of the machine where the man they had come to murder waited. The sight of him made Ben’rik freeze.

“Something is the matter, old friend?”

Inside the chamber, floating in peaceful repose, was another Tael.
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Hydra
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Fri Dec 30 2011, 09:01

sweetness!

This keeps getting better and better!

Do you think you could put the describtion of your charackters in a brief note and send them to me, i would love to make an appropriate miniature...

soe sences even scream for a diorama...
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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sat Dec 31 2011, 05:44

Once more you keep up the intrigue and the plotting and the duplicitousness of life in Commorragh. Excellent work again Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sat Dec 31 2011, 08:50

@Hydra - that could be kind of cool, I'll put that together for you.

@Lady Malys - Come to Commoragh, see the sights, murder yourself for fun and profit Wink

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Skjalgepalg
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Jan 02 2012, 09:41

Beautiful chapter!

I am so looking forward to the combat between the Cali’q the Counter and Kyssindree.

Awesome touch with the male Syren.

Keep up the fantastic work!
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Jan 18 2012, 13:04

Awesome, just awesome.. After quite some time I finally managed to read the latest chapter- and I am amazed!
I hope there'll be more coming soon.
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Tue Jan 31 2012, 01:57

Oh dear, poor Obessa, How much easier your life would be without all these damn' attractive people! Razz

I hope we have more to read soon? Kaballite life needs its diversions Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Fri Mar 09 2012, 18:10

Chapter 8: The Escape


The mirrored mask was reflecting her face back at her. She stalked back and forth, looking at her mirror reflection, looking for some sign of weakness. Grexel stalked back and forth with her, almost seeming to casually mimic Kyssindree’s movements, her reflexively taunt back, and slight slide of her back leg, the way she tossed her hair back over her shoulder.

The knives in Kyssindree’s hands spun delicately around her fingers as she considered this new threat. It was eerie how her opponent’s body copied her even down to the stance. Grexel’s knives performed an identical dance, twinkling in the dim yellow light of the narrow hallway. She could tell that the Bloodbride was right handed from where her splinter pistol holster lay strapped to her thigh, but she had perfectly shifted to duplicate Kyssindree’s left handed fighting posture. Kyssindree idly tried a complicated series of maneuvers that Grexel obligingly duplicated in perfect synchronization with her, their knives twirling about in quick flurried movement. Kyssindree smiled as she tested moving back and forth, Grexel matching her move for move like a perfect copy.

Kyssindree’s lunge seemed to come out of nowhere. In one instant she had sprung forward across the six feet between her and Grexel and executed a perfect forward thrust at the Bloodbride.

She stood there silently, her eyes wide in surprise. Grexel was almost entwined with her, both women frozen in a lunge position. A trickle of blood glided down Kyssindree’s cheek from the painful razor thin slice Grexel had opened with her own attack. Kyssindree’s blade stood naked, not a single drop of crimson on it, as the Bloodbride had almost contemptuously twisted her head out of the way of the attack. Kyssindree slowly withdrew her lunge and dropped back a few paces, Grexel once more imitating her every motion like an eerie mirror image.

“Not quite exactly a mirror, are you?” Kyssindree reached up to daub at the blood on her cheek, frowning down at it. She’d have to remember to apply some cellular regenerators to it. It would be tragic to allow a scar to mar her features. “I was aiming at the throat.”

“What’s the rush?” Cali’q laughed as he leaned against a wall, his arms crossed over his chest as his eyes watched her eagerly. “Grexel prefers a death by slow cuts, it’s so much more intimate.”

Kyssindree was moving forward again, leaping up to spring off one of the walls. Grexel mirrored the motion perfectly and they twisted about in mid-air lashing out with curved dueling blades at each other before landing in short combat rolls that had them both spring up to their feet instantly. Kyssindree had another very slight slash across her forearm, Grexel remained unmarked, her bodysuit spotless and unharmed.

“You read my moves quite well,” she said to Grexel as she offered a small bow. The Bloodbride mirroring the motions as they began to stalk towards one another again. “But if you think you can handle me, you’re sadly mistaking, I’ve already got you dead.”

There was laughter from the other Bloodbrides, but Kyssindree’s eyes flicked to Cali’q to see that his expression had grown more neutral, less amused. He had seen her fight many times, and he could probably spot the confident gleam in her eyes and the wry smirk on her lips. She bit her tongue playfully as she winked at him, dedicating the coming death to his attention. Then she paused a moment, eyeing Grexel’s stance, her grin growing ever wider as she made an elaborate motion of calling out her kill, pointing dramatically at her opponent while claiming a kill via a blade to the face. If Grexel had any emotion it was unreadable behind the mirrored mask.

Then Kyssindree was running forward, Grexel rushing to meet her. Skidding to a stop, Kyssindree suddenly spun to the side, her left hand lashing out to hurl her knife at Grexel. Grexel’s left blade was thrown as well, aimed right at Kyssindree. Both women ducked and spun the other direction, rolling across the floor and coming up facing each other.

Kyssindree’s face was a mask of excited exaltation as she snapped up one leg, aiming a sharp kick at Grexel’s head. The move was almost foolhardy, and both women moved as one to drive their knives at the other’s exposed ribs. If Grexel realized exactly what the odd dip in Kyssindree’s shoulder meant it was hard to tell. If there was a flash of panic across her features Kyssindree couldn’t appreciate it behind the mask. All she could see was her own face smirking at her in the mirror reflection.

The knife skidded painfully across her ribs as she twisted away from it. The sharp crack of her splinter pistol rang out as a poisoned shard slapped firmly into Grexel’s midsection. Grexel’s own left hand sprang up, holding nothing but clenched air as she staggered back.

“Yeah…mirror duplicate fighter, imagine that.” Kyssindree laughed as Grexel collapsed backwards, spasmodically twitching as the poison ran its course. Kyssindree stepped forward, straddling Grexel’s convulsing body as she dropped to her knees, the Bloodbride thrashing between her thighs. “Of course, maybe before you duplicate a fighter’s motions you should make sure you have weapons stored everywhere they do before throwing away your own.” She laughed in Grexel’s face as she pointed her pistol at the mask and fired again.

Kyssindree looked up bewitchingly, her bright eyes framed by her pale skin and dark hair as she flicked out her tongue to lap at some of the blood leaking from her cheek wound. She met Cali’q’s gaze and saw him flush in both anger and desire.

“Kill her.”

Cali’q’s soft command sent the other eight Bloodbrides rushing towards her. Kyssindree readied her pistol and knife as they came, an eager grin on her bloodstained features.

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

“It’s you.”

“If that were true I wouldn’t be out here bleeding from a gut wound and being awed by your amazing powers of observation.”

“But-“

“Do you have a problem killing me? I misjudged you.”

Ben’rik offered Tael a deadpan look at the jibe and then lifted his newly found blast pistol. A gentle pull of the trigger released a beam of darklight energy that punched through the outer shell of the stasis chamber, through the Tael floating therein, and punched out the back end as easily as an arm into water. The fist sized hole in the tank began spewing out cryo fluid that was now turning brackish with the blood pumping out of the gaping hole in the second Tael.

“Excellent work, my friend.” Tael motioned for Wren to set him down next to a sealed footlocker and began toying with the codepad. “Wren, please go collect Kyssindree now. We’re leaving.

“Leaving?” Ben’rik stepped out of the way as Wren, Cir’il, and Jorik drew weapons and sprinted back towards the entry hall. “We have Bloodbrides, the elite of The Bloodied Kiss out there and they’re coming for our heads. The only way we’re getting out of here is if we give them what they want and beg well enough.”

“Of course,” chuckled Tael, a bit of blood flecking his lips as he winced from the pain of his wound. Though the poison had been dealt with by the anti-toxin he’d taken, he still had a hole in his belly. “The problem being is that what they want is our heads.”

“Yes…well, at least yours most assuredly.” Ben’rik pointed his blast pistol at the center of Tael’s back, already trying to figure out the best way to instigate talks between him and the Bloodbrides.

“Agreed, which is why I think we should leave this way.” Tael lifted up a small obsidian orb from inside a black velevet liner. The orb glistened, seeming to hold swirling motes of color within it. A small triangular ruby was set in gold filigree upon it, the only decoration to the otherwise featureless sphere.

“Is that what I think it is?” Ben’rik’s gun arm lowered even as Tael turned back towards him.

“If you think it’s a portable Webway Portal then it is exactly what you think it is.” Tael depressed the ruby and then rolled the orb across the floor away from him. It pulsed softly as the air around it seemed to twist in an unnatural way that made Ben’rik feel lightheaded. With a soft tearing noise waves of purple light began growing out of it and soon coalesced into a spiraling vertical sheet of crackling energy. The light had no depth at all, but despite this somehow felt more ‘real’ then everything else around it.

Tael smiled as he motioned for Ben’rik to help him up. Ben’rik leaned over to pull him up to his feet, content to see how much further Tael’s plan would get them.

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

The blood from her shoulder wound was flowing freely down her side, but Kyssindree couldn’t feel any pain from it at all. She was flush with drugs and the joy of the kill, and at this instant she felt invincible.

She ducked under the whip sharp backhand slash of a wrist blade, her own knife flicked upward to casually caress the unprotected underarm of the Bloodbride, cutting past skin and fat to carve at muscle. A subtle twist of her wrist allowed just the tip of her blade to slide into the largest nerve cluster in the arm and the Bloodbride sang out under her ministrations.

Then she was retreating backwards, feet dancing lightly along the blood soaked floor as curling lashes of a shardnet snapped around her. The barbed edges of the net sparked as they struck the floor in sweeping arcs that sent up a fine spray of blood into the air. In the Bloodbride’s other hand he lightly held an Impaler, the elegant trident was balanced easily in his grip, poised to snake out and score a debilitating wound on her.

She offered what was needed, faking a slip on the blood around her feet, allowing a fraction of a moment to occur where it appeared she was unready, one of her knives half slipping from her grasp. His lunge was timed well, stabbing out underneath the upswing of his shardnet, meant to puncture her bare exposed thigh, a blow meant to cripple her movement and ability to fight, but angled to avoid tearing her femoral artery so as to not cause her to die too soon.

She was ready for it though, she dropped both of her knives and shoved off her apparently misplaced foot. The move cut her in towards him, letting her twist away from the Impaler as she grabbed the weapon. She looked into his eyes as they widened in surprise as she took a firm grip on his weapon’s shaft and tugged at it with all her might, at the same time lowering her shoulder into him.

He was forced to release the Impaler and stagger backwards to avoid having his throat torn open by the blades on her shoulder guard. Even as he staggered back two Bloodbrides sprang up behind him, each one using one of his shoulders as a springboard as they leapt through the air towards her. The two female Bloodbrides seemed to move as one as they cut downwards with brutal overhand chops at her. Kyssindree barely got her feet under her enough in time to brace as she lifted up the Impaler, the crystalized steel of the shaft ringing out a musical shriek as the blades sparked off it. She allowed the back end of the weapon to sag slightly, the angle allowing one of the Bloodbride’s blades to skitter free as Kyssindree twisted towards the other one, intending to isolate her long enough for her to sink the Impaler through the Bloodbride’s chest.

Two sharp rings sang out through the fight. Immediately the two females sprang away, as did the quiet male with the scar on his cheek who had been trying to ease up in her blind spot for the last few breaths. She spared him an irritated glare at the unentertaining maneuver, but he simply sheathed his blade and moved back as well.

Cali’q clashed his wrist bracers together one last time, the sharp tone ringing out as he made softly fluttery motions with his hands, indicating all the Bloodbrides should give him some room. He smiled at her, a bewitching twinkle in his eyes as his gaze took in her shoulder wound and followed the flow of the blood across her fighting leathers and alabaster skin to where it was snaking down across her cleavage that was straining against the slick materials of her suit and the lone buckle that clasped it together. Cali’q lowered his hands, his bare chest revealing muscles glinting from the oils and unguents massaged into them. Kyssindre licked her lips as she glanced at where his firm abdominal muscles slid into his tight pants, and the belt that held his two swords at his side, before glancing back at his face, breathing heavily but smiling eagerly.

“Twelve.” Cali’q announced softly, his voice a seductive whisper. Twelve moves to slice the top buckle of your suit apart. Eight moves after that to wash them fully in blood.”

“Are you planning to live up to these claims anytime soon, or are you just going to keep playing with yourself in the corner back there?”

Cali’q laughed softly, though his eyes seemed to have no amusement at all in them. He drew out his matched pair of blades, the serrated edges of the two Razorflail swords glinting wickedly. He began walking forward, his grips on the blades relaxed and confident. Not that he had much reason not to be, he had allowed his dogs to work her over for a while, wound her, allow her to waste some of her reserve weaponry, bleed her out and exhaust her. She felt exuberant right now, but was fairly certain that was due to the overdose of drugs and the blood loss. She’d hoped to lure him into the fight early with bravado and insults, but, as always, Cali’q was as cold and methodical as a machine and had waited for the perfect moment.

His wrists snapped forward as his thumbs released safety catches. The blades of the Razorflails suddenly extended, snapping out like blade covered segmented whips, held together by adamantine cables in the core. Kyssindree cursed suddenly sluggish reflexes as the Razorflails snapped around her hastily raised Impaler. The barbs latched onto the shaft of the trident as Cali’q sharply jerked his arms back. She staggered forward, forced to release the Impaler or be sent sprawling in front of him.

She used the momentum however, pulling forth a hidden throwing diamond from her bracer and hurling the blade at Cali’q face. His arms were a blur of motion, one sweeping up while pressing a button that had the Razorflail snap back into its sword formation, batting aside her attack with ease. His other arm snapped upward, flicking free the Impaler to perfectly toss it over his back into the waiting hands of the Bloodbride she’d first snatched it from.

“That’s three down, she joked as she drew her last blade from a sheath on her boot.

“Oh yes, nine to go,” he said with a shark-like grin as he began to advance again.

Suddenly he wasn’t advancing anymore, but was instead twisting to the side. Her addled sense registered the sharp snap of firing splinter weapons a touch late. She glanced over her shoulder in surprise to see Wren and the other Hellions crouching in cover as they fired their pistols at the Bloodbrides who were now scrambling to dodge the shots and dive for the safety of the limited cover available to them in the entryway. Meanwhile the Hellions began motioning for her to pull back. She half toyed with the idea of pressing the advantage, fairly certain she could grant one or two Bloodbrides death in the confusion. But it wouldn’t be artistic death, and would bring little joy to witness. With a sigh she turned and ran deeper into the vaults. Behind her more pistol fire erupted as the Bloodbrides readied their own weapons and began to fire and give chase while she and the Hellions retreated before them.

Sprinting along the winding paths amongst the assembled wealth of the vault Kyssindree spotted their goal easily enough, a crackling portal to the Webway. Already Tael and Ben’rik stood by it, Tael leaning heavily on Ben’rik’s shoulder, his face unhealthily pale and standing in sharp contrast to his vivid blue eyes.

“Everyone through.” Tael motioned to the portal.

“What about you?”

“We’ll follow after I make sure the Bloodbrides won’t be able to pursue us.” Kyssindree cocked an eyebrow at that thought and even spared a speculative glance at Ben’rik, wondering if Tael’s lieutenant would take the opportunity to be done with him. “Don’t worry about that,” Tael chuckled, “he knows he’ll need me as guide to get through.”

Behind her the portal crackled as Wren and the other Hellions sprang into it. The purple lightning of the portal crackled around their forms as they seemed to go shadowy and black before disappearing altogether. In moments she knew the Bloodbrides would be on them.

“How are you planning to stop them following us?”

“You can’t follow anyone through a door that doesn’t exist anymore.”

Tael smiled as he held up a plasma grenade.

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

Obessa lifted up the skinned face of First Blade Falkyrk, and turned to present it to Archon Douraal, lowering her head in deference so as not to look upon his face. The aged Archon sat upon a throne of black iron inlaid with ivory culled from the bones of the Eldar commanders of the first planetary massacre he had ever orchestrated. His face was hidden behind a golden mask crafted in the likeness of Kaela Mensha Khaine, the Bloody Handed God of Murder and War. His chin rested on one clenched fist, the cold metal spikes of his gauntlet glinting against the inlaid rubies edging the mask as his bored eyes looked down on the whimpering figure held in the arms of two of his Incubi bodyguards.

“He will live?”

Obessa glanced over her shoulder to critically eye the Black Sail Officer, the blood was leaking off his face like a curtain, staining the front of his armor and splattering around his knees where the Incubi were holding him down. Still, she had done a neat and efficient job of it.

“With some medical attention, I see no reason why not. Do you wish me to-”

Douraal waved his hand in boredom, already indifferent to Falkyrk’s fate and unamused by the torture he had ordered. Obessa frowned slightly as she glanced at the First Blade. He’d been a fool whose attack on the Hellions in the vault and opposition of the Bloodbrides had prevented the elite Wyches from catching the Hellions by surprise where they almost assuredly would have trapped them in combat and slain them all rather than being forced to duel at range with pistols like common Warriors. Still, he had just been doing his job. She motioned to a pair of Douraal’s Warriors and indicated they should take the whimpering soldier to the medical facilities.

“Are they resurrecting the functionary?”

“Lending Master U’din,” offered Obessa, to which Douraal slightly shrugged his shoulders. “Yes, he had made arrangements with the Souleater Coven and they already collected the bo-“

“You will make arrangements – they will cancel the procedure.”

“Haemonculi are difficult to barter with, they will demand-“

“You will make arrangements.” The masked face turned to regard her coldly. Obessa bowed her head again.

She was not quite sure what to call Douraal’s current mood. He had seemed distracted and bothered ever since he’d heard about the assault on the vaults. Even when she had brought him the reports of what was stolen and damaged, thinking that the relatively minor raid would please him, he had only seemed to become more displeased and petty. It was such a minor theft, a handful of jewels, the destroyed Webway Portal generator, a vial of antitoxin, and the destruction of a stasis chamber and whatever poor wretch contained within it that had been almost totally disintegrated.

For this Douraal was almost declaring open war on Black Shift, the trade organization that, up until this morning, he’d appeared intent on protecting and aiding at all costs. It was really quite foolish, she thought, claiming many of their surviving officers as captives, and torturing them for almost no reason than to show his displeasure. As for the desire to cancel the resurrection contract of one of the inner circle of the trade consortium, to pay out the unimaginable fees to the Coven to have them cancel the resurrection, and to ensure the final death of a man who appeared meaningless to Douraal? None of it made sense. Especially not while the Consortium still held so much of his wealth within their vaults and would almost assuredly lay claim to it as recompense for his actions.

“Obessa, Zak.” At Douraal’s soft mention of his name one of the black armored Incubi stepped forward to stand next to her and snapped to sharp attention. “You will go and rendezvous with the Bloodbrides. Hunt down the Hellion’s lair, use whatever expenses are needed. Bring me the head of their leader. Keep the name of the Kabal out of it. Understood?”

Obessa wanted to say ‘no’ but suspected it would do her little good. Beside her Zak snapped up a sharp salute, his mailed fist thumping against his armored chest sharply. Obessa bit her lip nervously as she followed the Incubi out of the grand hall, wondering what secrets the Hellions could have to so grip the powerful Archon with such feverish intensity.

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

“Huraaaaaaaaaaaaaak!”

“Really, Ben’rik? This is embarrassing.” Tael chuckled as he staggered away from Ben’rik who was currently heaving up the contents of his stomach on the dusty floor of the labyrinth storehouse they had appeared in. Behind him the Webway Portal flickered and flashed, its purple lighting casting strange dancing shadows along the floor and up the walls. Another orb, the receiver to the one in the vault, sat ready and waiting at the center of the portal – laid there by Tael or his allies.

“I want to die…”

Ben’rik sank to his knees as a few more dry heaves wracked his stomach, taking the shift back from the Webway poorly. Tael meanwhile eased down to sit upon the fluted edge of a dusty support beam. Kyssindree had to admit she was almost in the same boat as Ben’rik, between her wounds, the drug overdose she’d given herself, Wrens atrocious choices in drug cocktails, and the transitions through space/time she was feeling less then comfortable herself, and hugged her arms around her bare midsection as she felt an uncontrollable shivering begin to overtake her.

“You can all relax, I arranged the resonance beacon for the portal to be kept in a safe place, we have waiting supplies, medical attention, and an escort back to the base.” He smiled even as he coughed up some blood, “I told you I had a plan.”

“Oh, very good that all is,” hissed Ben’rik as he struggled back to his feet, “where is this promised salvation?”

“I had Gyza and Shim’elle guarding it.” Tael paused as he called out the names of the two Hellions. “They should be here…”

Then Wren was tapping his shoulder with a quick patter as she pointed upwards, her sharp eyes spotting something. They all followed her gesture to a rusted catwalk that arched overhead, barely visible in the dim lights leaking into the room. A bundle of two heads, heads that bore the facial war paint of The Howlers, gently swung suspended by their knotted hair. Each of them neatly decapitated. The heads hung from a belt of a large and hunched figure. It seemed to have the body of an Eldar, wrapped in fighting leathers and wearing a white fur cloak over one shoulder. But its face was that of a grotesque beaked creature with brightly colored pinions tufting out from behind its ears. It took Kyssindree a moment to realize what she was looking at was a mask made out of a Kroot’s face, an intelligent carnivorous species that served as mercenaries in the Dark City sometimes.

As her eyes adjusted Kyssindree could now see that the hunched figure wasn’t alone, and that there were others with him, almost all of them wrapped in the flesh of dead things and wearing horrid masks.

“Beastmasters,” she whispered, recognizing the warriors for what they were.

“Ah…yes, well, I didn’t plan for that,” admitted Tael softly.

“So what’s the new plan?” Ben’rik eased over as the others slowly coalesced around Tael, nervously drifting hands towards their weapons.

Tael’s face was pale with blood loss as he grinned.

“Well, I would say the first order of business is to look dangerous enough that they don’t think we’re weak enough to attack.”

“Good plan,” offered Kyssindree through chattering teeth as the room around them came alive with movement as massive canine beasts with green glowing eyes and slavering jaws loped into view, surrounding them like animals surrounding a meal. “And if that doesn’t work?”

“I’m sure I’ll think of something else.”

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