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 Trueborn - completed

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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Fri Mar 09 2012, 18:20

What's this, a new chapter? Indeed! I've even actually rough out at least up through Chapter 10, so regular updates will probably start happening again, at least for a while.

Also - a brief pseudo offer/contest.

There are going to be a point in my story coming up very soon where I'll need to have a Kabal present simply for flavor and ceremony. They'll be enjoying themselves by relaxing in a skeevy part of town. If your Kabal happens to be the sort who does that sort of thing and you'd like to get a little shout out in the story - drop me a PM with your Kabal name, colors, and heraldry.

The first PM received will win the featurette. (and, hey, with the limited traffic in this forum - your odds have to be good, right Wink

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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Mar 12 2012, 04:57

Thank you for the timely update, which cheered my Friday right up after work Very Happy

In a strange way I'm glad we didn't see all of the Bloodbrides killed, though I'm sure that will be to someone's detriment ...

Your description and detail are excellent as always. You capture the atmosphere of the varied parts of Commorragh we've seen perfectly.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Mar 12 2012, 16:11

Don't worry, the plan to just flee from the Bloodbrides and leave them running loose will most assuredly come back to haunt our 'heroes' later. Plus, I'm sure Kyssindree would like another shot at Cali'q - in all meanings of the word.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Mar 19 2012, 08:07

I feel somewhat of uncreative when i say: I love it.

Oh and just for your information, i am doing a kill team for a kampagne... guess who will see the light of the battlefield in persona Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Mar 19 2012, 17:12

Ben'rik? He's everyone's favorite character Wink

But that sounds awesome no matter who it is - I'll have to see some pictures when you're done.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sat Apr 28 2012, 17:00

Chapter 9: The Nightmare

How did Tael do it? Ben’rik honestly had no idea. It was the same sort of thing he’d done when Ben’rik had first met him. There he’d be, basically dead and dying, helpless before some new threat, and he’d just start talking, and wheedling, and hinting at things, and then suddenly…suddenly it would no longer be clear who the helpless one was.

“I do apologize for my troops,” Tael motioned at the decapitated heads that lay next to the cooking fire they were all sitting around, “interrupting your hunt was quite unintended.”

“No apology is asked for or needed,” sneered the Beastmaster wearing the Kroot mask, who had introduced himself as To’kar, a name which Ben’rik had noted caused Kyssindree to wince at the sound of it. To’kar sat at ease with them, though only he and one other Beastmaster had done so, the others preferring to linger in the shadows with their creatures. He had left the larger animals with them, though a bird with silvery beak and talons and blue-black feathers sat on his shoulder, glaring balefully at them with sickly green eyes that seemed to glow slightly. “Their death is answer enough for their crimes. It is a question of your crime that is still needing to be answered, despite your offer of tribute.”

“A tribute I most look forward to providing,” Tael smiled easily, “there are many who claim the Sigilian Thrash Snail is extinct.” He motioned to Wren who stepped forward to kneel at his side. One of the great bestial animals that circled in the darkness just outside the firelight growled at her movement near its master. It was a low and sonorous sound that caused a quaking chill to snake down Ben’rik’s back as he gripped his blast pistol tightly. If Wren was disquieted she didn’t let it show, and instead offered up a flask from her belt to Tael who thanked her before taking a swig and offering it to To’kar. The Beastmaster sniffed at the concoction and handed it to the silent aide standing at his shoulder who took a drink and grunted as he handed it back.

“There is still the matter of your intrusion into the dream haunt.” To’kar’s eyes narrowed slightly as he regarded them all, the black bird on his shoulder let out a croak of displeasure. “The normal punishment is death at the hands of the supplicants.” He motioned overhead to where more of the Beastmasters lurked, lounging on girders and support structures like hunting cats at rest. Ben’rik could feel the deadly energy from them, in the darkness their eyes glittered no less predatorily than the animals circling the firelight.

“Dream haunt?”

“It is a spiritual place,” offered To’kar, “a time for a young aspirant to the cult to reach oneness with the beasts and understand his place.”

“I have never heard of it.”

“It is a private matter, there is little need to discuss it with outsiders,” To’kar said, as he finally decided enough time had passed to verify a lack of likely toxins and allowed himself to partake of the expensive wine Tael had offered. Next to Ben’rik, Kyssindree let out a slight snort of laughter at the Beastmaster’s solemnity. To’kar’s eyes flashed dangerously from behind his bestial face mask as he turned to regard her coldly, there was a slight gurgling growl sound from him, like that of a hunting cat. Kyssindree met his gaze evenly, even shivering in withdrawal from her drug overdose underneath the fur blanket wrapped around her shoulders, and with her hair plastered by feverish sweat to her brow, her eyes remained challenging as she glared at To’kar. “You do not appreciate the ritual of the dream haunt, white one?”

“Ritual?” Kyssindree’s voice was cracked and croaking, but still carried her sneer of superiority nonetheless. “Your mystic pretenses are given lie to the pheromone receptors and sonic emitters you hide in those helmets. I’ve killed enough of your kind on the red sands to know the true power of your kind.”

“And I’ve slain enough of your kind to know you are hardly the most dangerous creatures to stalk the arenas,” To’kar rebutted with a chuckle that sounded like the purr of a Barghest scenting its prey, the bird on his shoulder ruffled its feathers indignantly at the sound until he offered it a sliver of some meat extracted from a pouch in his vest. “But this place is mine, white one, and you would do well to understand your situation. Adherence to the rites would tell me that I should cut you all here.” He made a motion across the tendons behind his ankle. “Then allow the young pups to take their measure in controlling their packs as they stalk you down.”

“It would be a waste to have our deal end like that,” countered Tael, “and in any case, as I’m sure you must be aware our gang will seek us out for our part of the share in the botched raid. They might let us live if we inform them we made off with nothing of value, but they’ll certainly not believe you found us alone and bereft of treasure and decided to kill us for ritualistic reasons. They’ll demand their share of the loot from the vaults, and will most assuredly-“

“Please.” To’kar raised a hand to forestall Tael’s commentary. “Your bribe interests me enough, let us not color it with threats. I do not fear the thought of killing your entire gang, though I would begrudge the time wasted at the endeavor.” To’kar’s head tilted to the side, the sharpened beak of his mask glistening in the flickering light of the fire. “There is one way I can allow you to live, and still honorably claim your bribe offering. But it is dangerous.”

“How dangerous?” Ben’rik leaned forward.

“That depends on how dangerous your inner potency is.” To’kar’s expression was unreadable behind his mask as he assessed Ben’rik carefully. “In your case, it is probably quite safe.”

The bird let out a croaking laugh of a caw.

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

“What’s in it?” Kyssindree looked down at the vile mud-red concoction in the bronze drinking saucer.

“Magic.”

She couldn’t tell if To’kar was being glib or if he believed what he was saying. Then again, the whole plan was quite inane in her opinion, and it required them all to buy in a bit too much to the insanity of the Beastmaster Cult. She respected them as warriors on the red sands, Eldar who trained and controlled a myriad assortment of deadly animals in the great games. But though the Beastmasters were quite similar to the Wych Cults, and indeed allied with them, there was always an odd veneer of distance between them. Perhaps it was the patriarchal Beastmasters versus the mostly matriarchal Wyches and the clash of opinions there. Perhaps it was the differences in how they performed and what they thought was most desirable in the killing of others. But, or Kyssindree, it would always be the odd shamanistic trappings of the Beastmasters, who claimed to tap into sources of knowledge beyond science and indescribable secrets that could only be called mystical in nature.

“Drink of the blood of Khaine, its potency will guide you along the pathways of the spirit.”

“And after that?”

“You will embark on your spirit quest.”

They sat crouched within a small tent that had been assembled – one for each of them. Kyssindree suspected To’kar had taken personal interest in her due to her insults, or perhaps was simply besotted by her beauty – it was a common enough reaction. The tent was cramped and hot, made from a set of thin black rib pieces wrapped tightly in the heavy furs and scaled skins that draped the Beastmasters. The black ribs gleamed, seeming to crackle with some odd energy that added to the heat and stuffiness of the dwelling, while the layered and tightly wrapped hides allowed in no light.

“And after that we’ll be members of the Beastmaster Cults?”

“No.” To’kar leaned in towards her, his eyes gleaming from behind the leathery skin of his mask, “after that, if you are capable, you will be alive. Only the souls who truly conquer the visions shall become members of the Cult.”

“Only those who conquer?” Kyssindree smirked at him as she tilted back her head and tossed the foul tasting liquid slush down her throat. “Well then, it should be easy enough.”

“Spirits of the Beast.” To’kar leaned backwards, a horrible warbling cry echoing out of his throat. From the darkness of the factory came more howls as the braying beast packs returned his greeting. “Guide them, guide them down the bloody path, let them learn the wisdom of the tooth and the way of the claw.”

To’kar was suddenly very close to her indeed, Kyssindree was shocked that he’d moved so quickly, or had she slowed down that much?

“Let us see if they can survive this duel.”

His laughter echoed around her as he stepped back into the darkness, seeming to be enveloped as if by a great curtain of darkness. Sand suddenly crunched under her feet. Kyssindree blinked in surprise, realizing she was now standing, and indeed was standing upon a vast sandy field. She leaned down, scooping up a handful and lifting it to her face. The sand was perfect and gleaming, yet seemed stained by other colors and had the heady tang of iron to it that told Kyssindree what it was stained with was blood.

Then the cheers started, all around her, the cheers of the arena and the people there who came to worship her. Kyssindree smiled, her arm raising in salute to them as she turned around to drink in their adulation…but then she realized she wasn’t alone.

Obessa stood on the red sands nearby. Her purple hair was left long and unbound, falling around her bare shoulders in artful disarray. Her armor was barely there, a masterwork of silver and gold that showcased her muscular abdomen, finely toned legs, and heaving chest to perfection. Bodies lay sprawled on the sand around her, each bearing a look of almost sensual depravity and amazement, they had been sent to their deaths in the most exquisite and artful of ways.

“Obessa? What…how?”

It sank into Kyssindree’s head that the noise of the crowd was the repetitive chanting of a name. Obessa, they were cheering her name and worshipping her for her achievements. She could see Cali’q and Tael now. The Bloodbride and Hellion Lord came forward, wearing only the flimsiest of silk drapes around their muscular hips. Their entire bodies were oiled up and gleaming. In one hand Cali’q held an Onyx Star medallion, an award presented only to champions of the highest standing in a Dark Olympiad. In his other hand he held a slender golden chain that was attached to a spiked collar attached around his own throat. Tael also wore a collar, though in his other hand he held the Bloodied Chalice, the oldest artifact of the Cult of Bloodied Kiss and their highest recognition for glory in the arena.

The two men dropped to their knees in front of Obessa, offering up their prizes to her. She barely even glanced down at them, awash in her own moment of glory and the adulation of the unceasing cheering. Obessa placed one spike heeled boot upon the head of one of her fallen foes, whom Kyssindree recognized as Ayasha, Succubus of the Bloodied Kiss. With a nod Obessa allowed the two men the pleasure of licking the blood from her feet.

“Do you mind?” Obessa finally glanced over at Kyssindree, “you don’t belong here.”

“Don’t belong here? I am Kyssindree of the Flensing Laugh, I-“

“You are nothing. You would have died a dozen times over if I hadn’t watched over you in the arena. I’ve always been better than you, and deep down you knew it.”

“That’s nonsense, everything I have I took.”

“Don’t fool yourself,” Obessa laughed, “you and I both know how your race with Wryn’kill would have ended but for me. Your rise to power is a thin charade, and you only keep trying so hard in the hopes that no one notices. But you know I know, and that’s why you try to make me feel small. But what if I hadn’t helped you, what could I have done then? You know, without you to hold me back?”

Kyssindree’s answer of a hurled dagger was only stopped from slamming into Obessa’s ample chest by the other Wych grabbing Tael and pulling him bodily into the path of the missile. Obessa tossed aside the dying slave as she smiled at Kyssindree, one elegantly manicured hand slipping down to her belt to draw forth a curved sword crackling with purple lightning along the blade.

“Is that all you wish? To fight me, and to die in defense of your empty lie of success?”

“No, that’s not all.” Kyssindree readied two knives as she eyed her former second in command. “I also want to cut your throat again and see if it improves your voice at all!”

Obessa laughed as Kyssindree rushed in to meet her. Their blades flashed brightly as they fought. But Obessa was healthier, better armed, and more prepared for the battle. She knew all of Kyssindree’s moves, and her own moves seemed cunning and new. In moments Kyssindree was bleeding from half a dozen hindering wounds as Obessa danced around her, tantalizingly always out of reach.

“Is this what it is, Kyss?” Obessa seemed to be even larger and stronger than was possible, while remaining blindingly quick. “Is this all you have for me? You’re lucky I was always blinded by simple obedience and friendship towards you. Because you know I was always more desirable, more skilled, more deadly.”

“No!” Kyssindree dropped to one knee, blood leaking from her wounds to stain the sands bright crimson.

“You’ve always relied on me to save you,” Obessa noted coldly, “and you’ve always counted on me to stand in your shadow to try to make your light look even brighter by comparison.”

Kyssindree looked up at Obessa as she readied for a final strike, and spat blood at her.

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

She was someplace that wasn’t where she had been. Sharp eyes peered around the darkness. It wasn’t a natural or normal darkness, it was too thick feeling, like it was a cloud of black smoke lurking around her. Normally she could see quite well with even the smallest glimmer of light, but not in this murk. She did not like it here.

Then there was noise and light where there hadn’t been noise and light before.

Wren didn’t waste time much considering the implications of the moment. Clearly wherever she was it would be superior to go be where there was light and activity. She moved quickly and quietly, taking a moment of time to move to the flank of the light and approach it from an unexpected front. She was uncertain if it would work or if it would matter, but better to try and gain nothing than not to try and be left at a foe’s advantage.

It was a bed in a pleasure room; soft, silky, garishly lit, music playing in the air. Two pale forms were entwined upon the bed, almost making it impossible to tell where one began and the other ended so tightly were they clasping. A man and a woman caught in passion’s embrace. It was such an odd moment that Wren almost turned away again, just wishing to not even deal with the situation.

Then she recognized the face of the man as he howled out in lustful pleasure, sweat flinging off his brow as he gasped for air under the careful ministrations of the figure atop him. Kyssindree was the other figure, her curving hips grinding back and forth in rhythm, eliciting more gasps of surprise and pleasure from Tael’s throat.

Wren’s face flushed red as a hand fell to her blade, ready to spring out and end the scene in a flash of bloodshed. Then she paused, her nose sniffing at the air. In a moment the appropriate smells of Tael’s sweat were there, but prior to that there had been a lack of them. Wren’s head cocked in confusion as she considered the display before her. It was a ploy, meant to elicit a bad reaction from her. Her eyes narrowed as she searched for the culprit.

“What’s there to look for?” Kyssindree sat up on the bed, sweat glistening on her bare body as she smiled that superior smile at Wren. “I am here, so is he.”

Wren ignored them, even walking past them as she continued to search the darkness.

“Perhaps you need something more tangible and…simplistic for your tiny little mind?”

Wren heard Kyssindree’s voice trail off and Tael gasp. She glanced over her shoulder and watched in dread fascination as Kyssindree sank her hands down into Tael’s chest, his flesh reacting like pudding as she sank into him, running her arms through his body as the two began to merge together, dripping and molding into one like melting candles. The KyssTael creature rose up on all fours, twisted flesh and a widely distorted mouth with four glittering eyes above it. Fangs gleamed in the darkness as the creature stalked forward off the bed.

“Come here, Wren,” spoke the creature in Tael’s voice, “I want to give you such a deep kiss.”

Wren bared her fangs as she snarled at the creature, giving it a warning that she was not of a mind to be toyed with right now, but it kept stalking forward anyway. Wren dropped into a stalking pose of her own, her eyes meeting the beast’s gaze evenly and without fear as she hissed at it, ready to pounce if it kept challenging her.

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

He looked at the foul smelling liquid and then up at the young Beastmaster standing in front of him. The tent smelled of decay and rot.

“What happens when we drink this again?”

“You go on your spirit quest.”

“Right…dangerous, is it?”

“Yes.”

“How many die? On average?”

“I do not know of such things for certain. One in five, at least I would think.”

“Ah…” Ben’rik slightly sloshed the murky reddish brown liquid around thoughtfully. “How will the others know I drank this stuff and went on the quest?”

“I will tell them.”

“That is what I thought.” Ben’rik smiled at the Beastmaster as he leaned back and set down the saucer. “I presume you still get to enjoy material things as a Beastmaster?”

“We cer-” the young Beastmaster paused as he considered Ben’rik. “Perhaps…”

Ben’rik smiled.

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

He stood in the darkness, the laughter of the Beastmaster and the howling of the beasts still echoing around him. He was fairly certain that the liquid he had drunk was simply a hallucinogen, and even more certain that his stomach felt the slight sideways feeling he always had after shifting into the Warp. A small portal generator is all that would be required – he found himself suspicious of the elegant black ribbing of the otherwise crude tents.

“Figured it out, have we?”

Tael turned around to find himself looking into a perfect mirror. No, that wasn’t quite right, the other him was wearing his scarf, which Kyssindree still held, and didn’t have the grav bandage wrapping his gut from the splinter rifle round he’d taken in the vaults. The other him smirked with a superior air.

“Master of a Hellion gang? Archon of a Kabal of gangers numbering in the fearsome dozens?” Supreme Overlord of whatever market or trade symposium you’re currently flying through?”

The other him sketched out an elegant and mocking bow.

“You’re not me, and thus your opinion of me is as meaningless as brains in a Grotesque.”

“I’m not you, are you sure of that?” Other Tael flipped his scarf rakishly over one shoulder and placed a hand on his hip as he tilted his head back, as though he were allowing Tael to admire his muscular body. “What if I’m really me and you’re the copy, isn’t that what you’re worrying about? Isn’t that what this is all about?”

Tael laughed.

“Do you really think such psychological babble impresses or intimidates me? It doesn’t matter who the original is or isn’t,” Tael pointed at each of them in turn, “as long as I know I’m not you and you’re not me, at that point it’s obvious which one I consider more important.” He touched his own chest and smiled mockingly at the other Tael who was now frowning.

“You think it’s that easy? Maybe we need to reconsider what I am or am not.” His form shimmered and suddenly the other Tael was no longer dressed as a daring hellion, instead he now wore the gleaming armor of a Kabalite Warrior of the Kabal of Split Soul. “Perhaps this is more pleasing as your self image?”

“It is not.”

“A nerve has been struck, hasn’t it, my dear friend?” The other Tael smiled as he leaned in closer, his voice dropping to a whisper. “But I suspect there is one more view of yourself you’d like even more.”

His form shifted one last time.

Tael’s face darkened dangerously and suddenly he was lashing out with his hellglaive. The Other reacted with more speed and power then was to be expected. His armor turned aside the blow, and bladed gloves closed around Tael’s throat and bore him to the ground, choking the life from him.

“This is the truth,” the shadowy form whispered, “you are a droplet of rain, and I am the ocean.”

The claws tightened on the flesh of his neck, slicing it to ribbons.

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

Ben’rik shrugged when he realized Tael had survived. No such luck, he supposed. Much like the others, even Tael’s normally smirking face was a little pale and strained. Ben’rik was feeling better and better about his own decisions, and attempted to emulate an exhausted and strained demeanor, much like the others. It had pained him to barter away so much wealth, but by the look of things it would have been not only risky, but quite unpleasant to go through with the ritual.

“Cir’il is done for,” announced Jorik as he rejoined them. The Hellion, who was one of their more capable medics simply shrugged. “Looks like he was clawed to pieces, but by the look of the blood he’d been dead before any of the wounds hit a critical area.”

“Killed via mental trauma?” Tael asked, and Jorik simply nodded grimly.

“They just drugged us up for amusement,” Kyssindree hissed in annoyance, “I should kill them all for that insult.”

“Let’s try to keep our list of growing enemies at a moderate size for the moment,” sighed Tael as Wren came over to offer him some food and drink. “If they wanted us dead for amusement there were simpler and more visually appealing methods available to them, I am inclined to take them at their word, at least for now.”

“Greetings small ones!” To’kar stalked out of the darkness, there was something changed in his demeanor now towards them. It wasn’t that he was respectful, but he at least now seemed to act as though they were more than bothersome children. Even the bird on his shoulder seemed less dismissive of them. “I have made arrangements for you to have five of the skyboards that had been brought here, the remainder are kept as spoils, and are ours now. Any issues with that?”

“It seems fair enough, as long as you didn’t strip the five of any of their supplies, at which point we would have...issue.”

“Then it is decided.” To’kar paused as he leaned in towards Tael, the beak of his mask tilting in towards Tael’s ear. “I know that you are strong of will as you survived the haunt, so I will not bore you with idle threats. Just let us be clear, my beasts have your scent now, so if you decide to renege upon our agreement I do have the means to find you.”

“I would expect no less.” Tael smiled as he stood up. “Now, no disrespect to your wonderful hospitality, but it is my desire to depart immediately. I have important things to do.”

“I understand,” To’kar dipped his head slightly and began to turn away, then he paused and walked over to Wren. She stiffened up as he approached, lips curling back slightly. To’kar paused in front of her, his beaked mask bobbing a bit as he looked her over closely, tilting to and fro to glance at her sides, and even going so far as to reach out and brush at her spiked red hair with a slight chuckle as she hissed in warning as his hand got that close.

Then he began to unstrap some buckles on his vest and handed her a set of his pouches. Wren glanced at them uncertainly as To’kar reached up to his shoulder, and the large black bird there obediently hopped onto his hand, and from there sprang lightly to Wren’s shoulder. She jerked in surprise as the bird settled onto her shoulder, one of its glowing green eyes regarding her sharply as it ruffled its feathers. To’kar nodded.

“One day, little sister.” He then turned and stalked off into the darkness.

“What the hell was that about?” Ben’rik glanced from To’kar over to the filthy creature clinging to Wren’s shoulder.

Wren shrugged in apparent confusion.

“My guess would be she passed the test, and the rest of us did not,” offered Tael as Jorik helped him to his feet.

“Why am I not surprised, she and the Beastmasters are a perfect little match.” Kyssindree laughed, “they’re both filthy and ill mannered.”

Wren snarled at Kyssindree and almost at the same instant the bird had half spread its wings, a deadly look in its eye as it regarded the Wych. Kyssindree already had a drawn blade in her hand as she sneered back at them.

“Ladies.” Tael stepped between them. “This may just be the gaping hole in my belly talking, but can we kindly wait till after we’re back at the camp before we try to kill ourselves any more?” His tone sounded pleasant, but there was a burr of threat underlying his friendly suggestion. Wren immediately dipped her head, and almost as quickly the black beast on her shoulder seemed to content itself into some quiet preening.

“Well,” Ben’rik broke the quiet mood as he walked up and clapped a hand on Tael’s shoulder, “the news that we’re returning to The Alley is the first of your plans today that I am in full agreement with.”
“Oh, we’re not going there just yet.”

“Then where?”

“To visit an old friend.”

“Oh,” Ben’rik frowned, “any chance your old friend runs a brothel or bar?”

“He’s very involved in matters of the flesh.”

“Ah, excellent then-“ Ben’rik’s voice trailed off as he realized that Tael was not suggesting a brothel at all. No, the way he’s said ‘matters of the flesh’ and the way he was smirking could mean only one thing.

Tael wanted to talk to a Haemonculus.

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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sat Apr 28 2012, 23:16

Ah, what a perfect way to cheer myself up from a bout of the 'flu. More Trueborn.

The insight into peoples' subconsciousnesses (if it's not a word, it is now I fear) was brilliantly done both because everyone reacted differently, but in a manner fitting with what we know so far ("How much do I pay you to avoid this?") that also advanced what we knew. I especially liked what happened with Wren.

So, a visit to a Haemonculus. I shiver with anticipation.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sat Apr 28 2012, 23:36

I do have to admit Ben'rik is growing on me as a character, he's just so intensely self-focused that he's easy to figure out motivations for, especially since he really has no particular desire to be along for this particular adventure and just wants to come out of the other side...hopefully a bit richer and maybe with a few of his enemies (allies?) dead along the way.

Wren was interesting to write - I'd been intentionally staying out of her head for the story because her outlook was always intended as a bit feral-child, I'm fairly pleased with how that worked out as well. Glad you liked her moment here as it will certainly play more later in the story.

Thanks for the kind words - I hope the next chapter lives up to your expectations.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Apr 30 2012, 10:09

Wonderful chapter Thor665, fun to read more into the various levels and orders in the Deldar society. Looking forward to their reactions to the haemonculi practice.

The way the storytelling focus shifted from a fly-on-the-wall with full insight from Kyssindree's pov. into an all-knowing sort of approach in the last chapter was interesting, and narratively well executed. Though I do miss reading about events filtered through Kyssindree's eyes.

*gleefully awaiting more*
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun May 06 2012, 00:26

@Skjalgepalg wrote:
The way the storytelling focus shifted from a fly-on-the-wall with full insight from Kyssindree's pov. into an all-knowing sort of approach in the last chapter was interesting, and narratively well executed. Though I do miss reading about events filtered through Kyssindree's eyes.
If you go and look you'll discover I actually switch narrators on a fairly common basis (it was just extra noticeable in the dream sequences/Warp adventures). I enjoy telling the story from subjective points of view because it allows me to color them with the rather differing opinions of the characters.

Don't worry though, it is most assured that Kyssindree shall remain one of the prime narrators (indeed, the story is mostly her and Obessa's viewpoints, with some growing intrusions from Ben'rik...because he's a little too fun to write since he has no morals whatsoever).

Should have a new chapter up sometime in the next few weeks also - the new job doesn't leave me a lot of time, but I am managing to fill a surprising amount with plotting and writing.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Jul 11 2012, 01:25

Chapter 10: The Fleshcrafter


The young boy child was of an odd race that Obessa didn’t recognize, though he was fair enough of form and face, with small purple tufts of feathers extruding from his scalp in place of hair. He was currently stripping off his meager covering of gold mesh and beginning to coat his body in the fragrant red oil of fel’ya unguent, the aromatic bouquet hit her nose sharply with a spicy headiness that left her feeling light headed.

Cali’q the Counter lay sprawled on an anti grav cushion, his battle attire lying at his side as he stretched out his fully nude body languidly. Nearby the Klaviskar twins were toying with each other, one of the sisters lapping at a small cut on her twin’s arm as the other worked on some sort of special mix of post-combat drugs she was planning to inject. All around her the Bloodbrides of the Bloodied Kiss Cult were taking their leisure.

“I’m not sure I understand.” Cali’q let out a purring moan, a low rumble of agreement in his muscular chest as the boy child crawled onto him, rubbing his own body against that of the Syren to massage the fel’ya into his flesh. Cali’q’s normally pale skin began taking on a crimson glow.

“Douraal wants us to find the lair of The Howlers and attack it directly.”

“No, that makes perfect sense, I’d do the same in his position, it’s an excellent way to flush them out and properly kill their leadership cadre.”

“Then-“

“What I don’t understand, is the idea of leaving here to go squalor around in some detestable corners of the city to find said lair.” Cali’q smiled happily at her as the boy ground his body against his back. “After all I’m sure you and…that, are well qualified to do the slave work.”

Obessa glanced over her shoulder to follow Cali’q’s motion. The Incubi Dourall had assigned to aid her, Zak Phaer’irr stood out starkly in the bathhouse compared to all the other naked bodies, or even Obessa’s sparse Wych outfit. He was still wearing his full suit of black body armor despite the muggy heat and steam of the bathing area. His klaive was strapped across his back and ready for action, and his arms were ready at his sides. One of the Bloodbrides, Kella, was even pressing up on him, sliding her hands across his chest though failing to get any reaction out of him and eventually just barking an order for a pair of boy toys to join her in the baths as she walked away in disgust.

“Really,” sighed Cali’q, “could you possibly have brought something here that more offended my sensibilities? You’re making me lose my pleasant afterglow of an otherwise stimulating fight.” He smiled up at her as he rolled over, Obessa felt a touch of heat on the tips of her ears as she fought to keep herself looking at his eyes. “Perhaps you’d care to disrobe and help me find it again?”

“I suspect at least one of us should go and try to find The Howlers before we waste a few hours on that.”

“Oh,” he winked wickedly as he reached down to guide the slave’s massaging ministrations, “let me assure you, Obessa, that, for you, I’d take more than a few hours.”

“We’re going.” She turned and motioned to Zak as they began to head for the exit.

“Obessa, there’s something you probably want to know before you go. I didn’t include it in my report because I wanted to see your face when I told you.”

She turned around, her face flushed from anger and arousal and realizing Cali’q would only have more of the same. Still, if this wasn’t just another barb to get a rise out of her it would be important to hear.

“The Hellion we fought that killed Grexel.” Cali’q leaned forward, clearly intent to watch every nuance of her face as he spoke. “It was Kyssindree.”

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

The five Hellions rode their skyboards across the purple hued skies. In the distance lay the Maerrett Rift, the crackling thunderheads shimmering with blue arcs of lightning that pained the eye to look at, down in the ruins nearby was Perception’s Warp Alley and the center of The Howlers’ power. Below them sprawled the neighborhoods of Lost Angles, a disreputable trade center and barter neighborhood where many of the less reputable Kabals did most of their trading and hiring for mercenary work.

At a motion from Tael they swept down, spiraling in elegant loops as they descended upon one of the market circles. The hair on the back of Ben’rik’s neck stood on end as he spotted dozens of gunmen lurking in armored balconies or lounging in hidden shadows of buildings, their weapons watching the approaching Hellions carefully. Clearly the mercantile masters of this trading circle were not fond of Hellion gangs raiding their supplies, and considering The Howlers’ reputation they were being watched quite carefully.

At street level they slipped their boards into hover mode, gliding along with them just a foot or two above the pavement as they made their way through the crowds. The spiked hulls and bladed wings of the boards helped to clear them a path through the throngs of shoppers and sellers alike. They passed alien merchants screeching about their exotic wares as the carnival cries of a local slaver extorted about the quality of the latest piece of meat on his auction block.

“That’s it.” Tael motioned with one shaky arm, his features even paler now than they had been. It was fairly clear the work Jorik had done on him was not good enough, and that if he didn’t get proper medical attention soon he would collapse from blood loss.

Of course, mused Ben’rik, if that happened they could all go home sooner rather than later.

The building Tael had indicated was a squat and unimaginative edifice, devoid of ornamentation, style, and even windows. The polished brass sign hanging above the door announced it simply as ‘Cavalcade’. It was clear enough what it was though, for standing quietly in front of the door was a misshapen figure, a Dark Eldar wearing a metal mask around his face and thick robes splattered with various viscera and bodily fluids. A vestigial third arm curled out of the corded muscle of his bare upper body, and the knotted flesh there was rife with scars and metal studs attached to chemical injection units hardwired into him.

A Wrack, a servant of the Haemonculi, this one stood as simple announcement as to what dwelt within the building, and also as a watchdog to prevent unwanted intrusion.

“Jorik, you’ll wait here with the skyboards.” With Wren’s help Tael eased off his own. Kyssindree lightly leapt down next to them, the red scarf she’d taken from Tael still flapping around her throat. Though she was moving better than she had been, it was clear she was still feeling the effects of her own exertions. It didn’t do Ben’rik much comfort to think that probably the two deadliest amongst them were so weakened before they walked into a Haemonculus’ den. The deranged fleshcrafters barely saw themselves as part of Dark Eldar society anymore, and acted as though they were above such petty concepts. It was rather unwise to walk amongst them when you weren’t fully capable of defending yourself.

And they were very dangerous to cross even when you were.

“The Little Tailor, we need to speak to him.” Tael approached the Wrack unafraid, his posture shifting as he hid any signs of weakness, his words containing no insult, but also suggesting a sure awareness of command.

“Four soul chits per living body seeking entrance, or acceptable barter.” The Wrack’s voice echoed hollowly in its helmet, sounding wet and dribbling as though being spoken through a throat filled with syrupy liquid. One of its hands held up a small locked box with a slit in the top of it, the other hand held a rusting scalpel-like dagger.

“No, you don’t understand, I’m not here for one of his shows, the Little Tailor, tell him Tael is here. He’ll know me.”

The Wrack’s helmeted head tilted slightly to the side as it seemed to consider this request before speaking again. “Four soul chits per living body seeking entrance, or acceptable barter.” It rattled the box slightly.

“I understand the rate for the show, but to see The Tailor-“

“Four soul chits per living body seeking entrance,” The Wrack leaned forward, a musky stench of decay washing out of the holes drilled in the helmet that had been bolted into the bones of his shoulders with steel spikes, “or acceptable barter.”
“Your master’s sense of business acumen remains about the same,” sighed Tael as he dug into his pocket and dropped some glittering chits into the box. The Wrack paused for a moment, shaking the box a few times as though gauging the weight, then it slowly motioned with its blade to the door next to it.

“What are we doing here?” Ben’rik stepped up next to Tael as they entered the narrow and dark hallway beyond the door and headed for a large set of blue curtains drawn across the far end. Behind him he could hear the black bird on Wren’s shoulder let out a half caw of displeasure as they entered the narrow hall…he shared its opinion.

“Apparently we’re seeing a show, and then we should be able to see the Little Tailor.”

“And why do we need to see him?”

“Well, partly, of course, to patch up the gaping hole in my belly, which would be quite helpful at this juncture. Secondly, because he’ll tell me if I’m finally allowed to do what I’ve been waiting to do for years now.”

“And that is?”

Tael smirked at him. “Well, most importantly, be in a position to finally reward The Howlers and yourself as I promised.”

They brushed past the dark curtain and into a small auditorium. The floor beneath their feet was a metallic mesh that held them above a pit that was too dark to see what it contained. The room was filled with chairs, cushions, and other seats. Most of those were occupied by lounging figures dressed in Kabalite armor. Ben’rik almost instinctively drew his blast pistol until he noted that most of the Kabalites had their armor half off and were clearly relaxing. Some fornicating, others toying into each other’s’ flesh with blades to record combat victories, still others lounging happily as they injected some recreational concoction into themselves, a few were happily crowded around a vidscreen watching the data recordings from their targeting cams as they debated the finest kill shot of the last raid. They wore the markings of the Burnished Blade Kabal, the bronze and orange armor glittering menacingly in the darkness – the Kabal well known for its depravity and love of close combat.

At the far end of the auditorium was a raised stage, hidden behind a red velvet drape inscribed with the symbol of the Kabal as well as a smaller seal of coiled thread and needle that was invariably the mark of the Little Tailor. Tael motioned to the others to join him as he eased into a small chaise lounge in a back corner.

“Clearly they’ve paid for a proper honorific of their latest conquest. The Tailor won’t wish to disappoint.”

“So we’re just going to wait now?” Ben’rik snarled.

“What else,” Tael shrugged, “the show hasn’t begun yet, I suggest you all try to relax.”

Ben’rik snorted in exasperation as he motioned over a menial and snatched the bottle of alcohol from her platter before plopping down into one of the divans in the corner. Kyssindree seemed more contented than the others, happily strutting forward to start a conversation with a few young Kabalite Warriors who had been eyeing her lasciviously. Wren sprang up onto the back of the couch Tael slumped into, eyeing him with concern before uneasily scanning the crowd. The young Hellion obviously displeased with their current situation.

Ben’rik couldn’t particularly disagree. Tael had been jerking them around for the better part of two days now, dragging them from one danger to another all for…what? They’d broken into an inner vault of a Trade Consortium, penetrated deep into one of a Kabal’s treasure troves, an area Tael clearly had scouted out and knew an amazing amount of detail about. All so they could…kill someone who looked just like Tael and leave without claiming anything of worth.

Was it a clone? Why would a Kabal have a clone of Tael? Ben’rik frowned, wishing he could recall any Kabal markings from Tael’s armor the day they had found him. Nothing came to mind however, at the time it had never even occurred to him that it might be important.

Was it time to kill Tael, then? These risks, this private war with the Kabals, it was all quite dangerous and Ben’rik was starting to see less and less chance for fine profit from it. It was problematic right now, despite him being the one to recruit her it was pathetically and painfully clear where Wren’s loyalties lay. Kyssindree and him also lacked much of a worthwhile relationship. No, not yet then, but soon enough. At some point Tael would have his back turned or Ben’rik would be back with enough of the other Howlers loyal to him that he could sort out this situation satisfactorily.


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

Kyssindree lived.

Cali’q had seen Kyssindree and she lived and fought alongside the Hellions.

Kyssindree lived and hadn’t bothered to contact her in any way.

“I’m going to kill him,” Obessa announced as she stalked down the dark alleyway. Though the residents of the alley were undoubtedly dangerous and normally likely to decide to attack two lone travelers, the scowling anger of Obessa paired with her blatant armor markings of both Cult and Kabal loyalties caused them pause. The black armor of the figure walking alongside her decided the matter and made them all cringe back into the shadows.

“I have seen him fight, are you good enough to take him?”

She couldn’t even tell if Zak Phaer’irr was joking or calmly serious. His full face helm hid his features totally, and in the time she had spent with him his voice never seemed to shift from its calm and modulated commentary.

She spun around and he drew up to a stop a few paces away from her. His hands folded complacently in front of him, almost like a servant awaiting an order. His helmet tilted to the side, the shadowed black lenses of his leering skull mask regarded her without betraying a hint of emotion. She couldn’t miss, however, that his pose, relaxed though it seemed, was like a serpent coiled to strike. His posture and positioning allowed him easy access to the klaive strapped to his back, the distance between them favoring his long blade rather than her short knives.

“That’s not the point,” she snarled as she glared at him.

“It makes all the difference.” He shrugged softly. “Do you kill them in open combat, or use other means like hired blades or perhaps something as simplistic as poison.”

“I don’t use poison to fight my battles and you’re over-“ She paused as she drew in a breath and let it out slowly as she eyed the dull white finish of the skull face engraved upon his faceplate. “This isn’t important right now.”

“If you say it is so.” He offered that partial half shrug of his, a noncommittal dismissal that indicated nothing of his actual opinion on the matter. He lifted a hand, inviting her to lead on down the alley they were passing through.

“What’s important is finding Kyss-, is finding The Howlers.”

“I agree.” His tone remained calm and distant, making her wonder if he’d even noticed the slip of her tongue. “Do you have a plan for that besides plotting against our allies in your Cult?”

“Allies? They’ve been given orders to hunt down the Hellions with us. Yet Cali’q would rather let some boy slave rub his backside than actually see this through to the end!”

“They haven’t.”

“Haven’t?” Obessa set her teeth on edge as her eyes narrowed. She was starting to feel like the Incubi was toying with her just like Cali’q had, like so many others had lately. “Haven’t what?”

“Haven’t been ordered to hunt down the Hellions, they were ordered to kill them. A fine distinction perhaps, but a pointed one” The Incubi shrugged his shoulders slightly as he paused to glance up the alley. A brace of Kabalite warriors with a joychild who had been about to enter the mouth of the alley quietly turned away and walked off under his gaze. Zak turned back to her. “They adhere to their orders, as must we.”

“That seems a very choice interpretation of Douraal’s order.”
“An order is an order.” Zak gave that small half shrug yet again, dismissing the thought. “We Incubi obey our orders, and we obey them well, and that is our strength.”

“That and big pointy swords, of course,” Obessa smirked at her jibe. There was no clear indication of Zak’s opinion, however, his mask remaining motionless. She coughed slightly as she turned and began walking along the alley again. “Neither of us strike me as detectives by nature.”

“Agreed.”

“My plan is to just start shaking down merchants and other dealers in the area. Someone should know about The Howlers or at least will get word back to them so maybe we can capture one of them sent to kill us and beat the information out of them. How does that sound to you?”

“I have heard worse plans.”

Obessa frowned over her shoulder at him, wondering if he’d been joking and still found it impossible to tell. She sighed as she turned away again. Her thoughts were muddled right now, and she knew why they were muddled.
Kyssindree.
If she was alive that changed things somehow. Obessa had always followed Kyssindree, always, and it seemed so odd to not be following her now. Kyssindree was always so easy to follow. It was hard to remember a time she hadn’t…

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

It was cold in the maintenance bay. A thin drizzle of rain fell outside, a sharp wind cutting through it to hurl icy specks of water through the massive bay doors that were open to the dark skies of midday in The Dark City. Flashes of actinic lightning crackled in the distance, promising that the storm would get worse before it got better. The maintenance bay was deserted, the racks of jetbikes sitting silently, lit by bursts of lightning, their sharpened blades glittering menacingly. Only one figure still worked there, quietly going over a dutiful check of the one jetbike pulled out from the racks.

Obessa didn’t mind that she was here alone, and indeed found it rather relaxing to be away from the noise and activities of the rest of the Cult. They were currently celebrating with the Kabal of the Poisoned Fang, whom they would be performing for this evening. Obessa expected to be part of the festivities at some point and was taking pains to ensure her personal jetbike was in pristine condition and full battle readiness. She was busy working on cleaning the barrels of the splinter rifles when a pair of arms encircled her, one hand clutching at her breasts under her tight bodysuit while the other tugged at her tightly braided hair.

“Can’t even wear your hair down when working on your bike?” The voice whispered playfully in her ear as the spicy smell of her perfume and haunting wisps of alcohol, drugs, and the other debaucheries happening below wafted out like a cloud around her. Obessa felt a heat tingle in her cheeks and the tips of her ears.

“Kyss…” She half-heartedly attempted to untangle herself.

“Wryn’kill finally announced her partner for the race tonight.” Kyssindree was referring to the upcoming conflict between her and her former squad commander, Wyrn’kill. The two were slated to have a race in the arena, arguably a simple grudge match over Kyssindree upstaging her commanding officer, but everyone knew that Wryn’kill’s position and Kyssindree’s life were what was really at stake.

“Who did she choose?” Obessa dreaded to hear the answer. Wyrn’kill was already accredited as the finest jetbike rider in the entire Cult and, as the reigning Champion of Champions in Reaver Death Races for the Cult had the right to pick her wingman from any rider in the cult before Kyssindree would be allowed to. It had been an obvious strategy for Wyrn’kill to delay her announcement till so late, giving her opponent almost no time to plan for the challenge or find a suitable partner.
“Cali’q.”

“The Counter?” Obessa winced. She was not fond of the name on either a personal basis, or hearing of him as a partner to oppose Kyssindree. Cali’q was a Wych of supreme skill and talent, known for predicting the exact number of moves it would take him to end an opponent. He had risen quickly through the ranks and even now stood as one of The Bloodbrides, the fighting elite of the Cult. Though he was renowned for his skills in hand to hand combat, he was widely considered one of the finest riders in the Cult. Considering the team of Wyrn’kill and Cali’q there would be few partners willing to enter the arena alongside Kyssindree, for even if they didn’t die they would make some powerful political enemies.

“So serious?” Kyssindree laughed as she released Obessa and spun away from her. She was wearing a loose blue chemise that was half falling off her pale shoulders. When the lightning flashed behind her it offered tantalizing views of the slim shape underneath. Obessa felt none of the flush leave her face as she watched Kyssindree saunter towards the vast entry doors of the bay. Pale white feet and perfectly formed toes delicately splashing in the small pools of water on the decking. “I couldn’t have asked for this to go better for me.”

“Couldn’t be better?” Obessa wiped some grease from her hands as she followed Kyssindree out onto the launch pad. The icy cold drops of rain splattering off her wychsuit even as they slowly plastered Kyssindree’s chemise to her athletic body. “You’re facing two of the finest riders in the whole of the Cult and they’re going to kill you.”

“Unless I’m better, and smarter, than Wryn’kill, of course.” Kyssindree laughed as she raised her hands skyward, lightning flashing in the distance. “She’s such an old goat and she doesn’t even know it.”

“She’s had more kills than any other rider in the history of the Cult, she’s never lost a death match, she’s placed in the top five for twelve years running in the Black Races, she has two Olympiad medals, she-“

“Why, Obessa, you almost sound worried.” Kyssindree smiled as she came forward to hug her again. Her wet body pressing against Obessa, long black hair sliding across her skin, the smell of her filling the air around Obessa again.

“It just seems that,” Obessa began. Wanting to point out the dangers, wanting to try to steer Kyssindree away from this risk, but not sure how.

“Be my partner.”

“What?” Obessa blushed deeply as she looked into Kyssindree’s eyes, they sparked with inner fire, a fire of passion and danger that seemed hot enough to consume Obessa whole.

“My partner, you’ll be my partner.”

“I’m not as good as any of you. You need someone-“

“Someone I can trust, of course. Also, you and I both know that you can give me the most important advantage of all. You can speak to Cali’q before the race and help him understand the…benefits of letting me and Wryn’kill settle our differences ourselves. Between her and I, that is a battle I am quite certain of.”

“But.”

“Wryn’kill made the mistake I expected of her. She has no taste for glory anymore, she chose a partner who was the most deadly she could find, all without knowing I would have the perfect counter for him in you.” Kyssindree laughed. “Isn’t it beautiful? She’s helping me kill her, it’s painfully delicious how foolish she is being.”

“You’re mad,” whispered Obessa, already knowing she would do it. Even as much as she detested Cali’q and feared Wryn’kill she would do it. For Kyssindree, for that fire in her eyes, for this feeling when she was close, Obessa knew she would dare almost anything, do almost anything, just to be allowed to feel this way forever.

The lightning flashed in the sky and Kyssindree laughed.

And Obessa was lost within her.

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

The show had started interestingly enough. Dead bodies of fallen Mon-Keigh soldiers had paraded out onto the stage as multiple screens lifted up around the theatre, each screen playing a different vid feed from the helmet of one of the Kabalite Warriors during the raid. The bodies were held up like marionettes, bronze hooks pierced their flesh and allowed them macabre life as they began a not unhumorous rendition of claims of their species’ greatness and mandate to rule the stars.

As the vid feeds reached the point of the attack the bodies were slowly torn apart by the hooks, spraying blood and other life fluids across the stage to splatter the patrons as the videos reenacted the glory of their strike and the slaughter of the Mon-Keigh encampment in an almost overwhelming blur of images that titillated and excited.

Still, for Kyssindree, it was a somewhat simplistic show, appropriate for the lesser Kabal present, but hardly worthy of her attentions. She noted, with some disdain, that Wren appeared entranced by the display. Tael, appropriately, looked half asleep, though she supposed that could be a side effect of blood loss.

It wasn’t till the finale that things became remotely interesting. A living Mon-Keigh, arrayed in blood spattered battle garb that marked him as a military officer of no small rank, was dragged out onto stage by a pair of Wracks. Gleaming barbs were inserted into his skin as he rattled out invectives in his gibbering child language. Kyssindree scowled slightly at the inelegant garble of the noise. Then Tael was there, leaning forward to whisper to her softly.

“He’s praying to his God-Emperor, calling upon him to deliver his soul into hallowed halls of victory and to smite the brutish alien heresy from the stars.”

“How…quaint,” she noted with a smirk as the Mon-Keigh was hoisted upward by the barbs in his flesh before being swung out over the audience. She laughed in amusement as some of the Kabalites who weren’t too lost in drugs and sexual distractions took out their blades and attempted to delicately shave off small bits of the Mon-Keigh in attempts to elicit the most artful scream. She smirked at their attempts and smiled at the Mon-Keigh as it swung overhead, taking note of which delicate spots hadn’t been marked by blows yet as she drew out her own blade.

Kyssindree drank in the babbling fear language of the Mon’keigh as it swung close to her again, she aimed out a very delicate strike that elicited howls with its careful caress and earned cheers from the rest of the crowd. The Mon-Keigh’s babble had grown louder now as it blubbered in its base language. She looked over at Tael, her face speckled with blood.

“What’s he saying now?”

“He’s still praying,” Tael slowly turned to look at her, a smile on his face, “but now he’s praying to us for release.”

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

The bare feet of the Wrack rasped with a harsh sound across the dusty steps as it led them down the winding stairwell. The rusty stink of metal, dried blood, and an odd acidic tang of some chemical filled the air and caused Kyssindree’s eyes to water slightly.

They were led into a cavernous chamber. Above them Kyssindree could see the grated metal floor of the performance chamber above, droplets of blood occasionally still dripping down from the show as the Kabal wrested the last moments of enjoyment from their entertainment. Rusting chains dangled down from the grating, some of them supporting cages or strapped directly into grotesque…things, that dangled like misshapen decorations.

Other shapes moved about the room with methodical slowness. Their alabaster flesh was pocked and marked with scars, strange pieces of black and gleaming bronze metal erupted out of their flesh, connected via cabling and gurgling tubes to their mishappen spine. Wracks, the servants cum students of the twisted Fleshsculptors. As Kyssindree stepped off the stairs she realized the floor of this level was also a grating, and below her loomed further darkness, as though she had just started to descend down a pit and had only reached the second level of horror on a descent to the bottom.

“There are at least four levels,” noted Tael to her softly as he was led by Wren into the room, leaning heavily upon the thin girl. “I don’t know how deep it goes in the end.”

“Not deep enough to bury the stink, I’d wager,” Kyssindree offered as she wrinkled her nose. She’d never been fond of the Haemonculi. They served an important role in the City, no doubt, but they were detestable creatures who had long ago given up any art within themselves besides their skills at life, death, and the application of pain. Though those matters were great and wonderful indeed, what did it matter how fine of an artist you were, if the sight of you brought no aching desire to the performance?

There was a scraping sound of metal on metal. Kyssindree glanced over her shoulder to see one of the Wracks hauling on a series of rusting and blood-soaked chains. Gears spun as the pulley system creaked and groaned, something far below them rising up from the viscera-spattered depths. The other Wracks in the room grew quiet, a few hurriedly adjusting their work spaces, others simply going motionless as they waited.

“Don’t do it.” Tael’s warning was a comment to Ben’rik who had dropped a hand to his blast pistol. “We’re all quite dead here unless we please our host.”

The platform rose into view slowly. A square of beaten bronze, stained with untold centuries of operations upon its corroded surface. Large sheets were hung between poles to provide a privacy screen, at one point the sheets may have been white, but now their color was more of a brackish brown with odd highlights in strange and lurid splashes of color from liquids Kyssindree couldn’t even begin to guess at. One of the sheets was pulled back slightly, offering the narrowest crevice of an opening into the inner web of the sheets. There Kyssindree could see a glittering operating table, with a figure upon it. Strange barbs of metal and glittering and pulsing tubes of liquid entered into the body through every orfice and also through the innumerable holes that had been carved into it.

A short figure, standing upon a stepstool, stooped over the body on the operating table. Cloaked in the shadows of the platform, Kyssindree could not make out the figure, though it was clear it possessed more than two arms, and all of them were currently lost within the corpse upon the table. The arms moved around rhythmically, an odd click-clacking sound emanating from the inside of the chest cavity they were working within. The bowed head of the slight figure tilted up slightly, wisps of hair drifting slowly around features that could not be seen upon its face. The only thing that could be made out was a glittering red light that stabbed out of the darkness, a pinpoint where an eye should be, that now shined outwards to look upon the Hellions.

“Who are you?”

The voice seemed to hiss, and had a strange echo to it, as though it was coming from more than one mouth at a time, or perhaps was already in her head before her ears heard it. Kyssindree winced at the sound, falling back a step.
“Don’t you recognize me, Little Tailor?” Tael stepped forward weakly, daring to push himself away from Wren as he took a wobbly few paces towards the platform.

The hunched figure within the shadows shifted slightly, the red glowing light of its eye widening as it flickered over Tael.
“…it is you, my precious son, forgive my old eyes, I did not recognize you. So young now, so full of fresh life. Like a newborn babe. Have you come back to me, is life too much? Do you want to be rendered back down into my warm embrace?”

The figure let out a tittering laugh that sent a wave of cold chills cascading down Kyssindree’s spine. She spared a glance at Ben’rik and Wren and saw similar reactions on their own faces.

“That is not why I am here, I-“

“You are hurt?” The red light of the Tailor’s eye was now focused on the wound upon Tael’s chest. “You want me to make it better? For you, my sweet, precious, boy, you know I cannot refuse.” The clacking stopped for a moment and, as if upon a signal, some of the Wracks moved forward, already readying their tools and instruments. “There will be pain, but you will be stronger afterwards. You understand that, of course, pain and strength, strength and pain, so tightly interwoven as you must tear a muscle to make it better. Tear, and tear, and tear again…”

Unearthly moaning drifted out of the corpse on the table, and Kyssindree started in surprise as she realized the thing was both alive and awake. The Tailor clucked his tongue like a parent chiding a youngster as he reached into its throat and gave a start as he twisted something. The moaning fell silent instantly, though the body was still feebly twitching in pain.

“I also have a question for you,” said Tael as the Wracks maneuvered him onto one of their operating benches. “I have arranged for a…sizable transfer to your accounts. I do hope that you were able to finish crafting me what I asked for.”

“The empty container?” The Tailor let out another horrible peal of tittering laughter as the click-clacking sound resumed. “I built it for you ages ago, it is still ready and good and fresh. So fresh, so young, yet so empty, not like the others.”

“That is good, my thanks to you.”

“Of course, of course my dear boy.” The click-clacking paused as the Tailor glanced upwards, its red eye pulsing with intensity. “He knows you’re killing them, but he has no idea that I allowed you to kill the one I have, and he still has his, of course, of course.”

“No others then?” Tael smiled tightly, wincing somewhat as the Wracks went to work on him, injecting him with drugs as they cracked open his chest. “That is good.”

“Good, yes, so good, so good, my son. When you wake up you’ll be strong again, and as whole as you can be at this stage. But soon, so, so soon, you will be whole in all other ways as well. You’ll be so beautiful then, I think, so beautiful and wonderful indeed.”

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Jul 11 2012, 01:29

This chapter was a lot of fun to write - Wracks were a real gem to work with Wink Also, some more backstory for Kyss and Obessa, which should be fun to see, as well as getting to play with an Incubi as well.

Also, I'm pretty sure the story is officially 'over the hump' as it were. I've got the rest of the story mapped out and should be better about slamming through some updates (I want to manage one every two or three weeks for the rest of the tale now). Don't worry though, plenty of bloodshed, torture, half-naked dark eldar, poison, parties, races, betrayals, double-crosses, triple-crosses, and maybe even a few comeuppances as well are all yet to come.

Next chapter;

Ben'rik is going to betray Tael.
Wren is maybe pushed too far.
and Obessa and Zak dine out.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Jul 11 2012, 19:47

cheers

Sir, you have made my night!

You understand how the Dark City works, and how its denizens work, and you do so through engaging and authentic characters. And that is why I come back to this story and through the story, to the site as a whole. Not to say there's nothing else here, but this was the initial glittery, shiny tempting jewel of twisted politics and dark debauchery that brought me back.

And jetbikes. The world needs more jetbikes.

Very Happy

- Malys

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Jul 12 2012, 00:15

Thank you VERY much, praise like that helps keep my hubris levels high Wink I'll admit I'd let this thing slump a bit, but with how potently I won the Dark City award for fluff I figured there were at least that many people who'd tend to appreciate me getting off my duff and finishing this thing.

There will be more Jetbikes soon enough, I do promise. After all, clearly there will come a point I'll be showcasing the race between Kyssindree and Wryn'kill.

It also is a lot of fun to write Dark Eldar. Because you get to write some really awful villains, and then you write "heroes" who are just really awful villains who you've chosen to allow the reader to like a little bit - though you do have to remind them every now and then just how awful they are before trying to make them likable again.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Jul 12 2012, 00:18

I agree 100% with Malys on ALL POINTS!

Amazing work Thorr, and can't wait for the next chapter. Looking forward to see how Dark Eldar 'date' so to speak ;o

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Jul 12 2012, 11:51

You have the ability to make Commorragh seem like the kind of place the most decadent of ancient Romans would look at and murmur, "Now steady on ... that's a bit extreme..." without going to alienating levels. One gets the flavour of the place and how the characters interact. And the characters themselves are believable and three-dimensional, so even when they're despicable, one wants to know what happens to them.

It's easy to make evil people. It's not as easy to make convincing evil people who function in a believable society, and this is what you've done, in my opinion Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Thu Jul 12 2012, 20:25

Thank you again, both of you.

I had a good writing stride last night, a bit more today I suspect. Looks like at least for the next few chapters I'll hold to my 2-3 week schedule comfortably (I'm just such a wimp and like the chance to go back and alter chapters to adjust for new stuff I want to include that I dread 'locking' myself into a final posted version.)

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Fri Jul 13 2012, 04:03

You know what Thor, if I didn't spend all my money on new models etc, I would seriously consider having someone publish this just so I have my own hardback copy to gloss over. It'd probably give the rulebook and codex a run for their money as most prized possession. Seriously, I'm enjoying this more than some of those bestsellers that I read. If the whole world played warhammer, I reckon you'd be up there with J. K..Rowling. This stuff is just amazing!

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Jul 18 2012, 05:15

Thank you very much.

I'm a little clogged up in Chapter 14 currently, but that shouldn't hamper Chapter 11 coming out (I'm just hoping to stay enough Chapters ahead I can stick to my release schedule...on the plus side, I suspect Chapter 14 is the last 'tough' Chapter to do, and all the others will mostly be full of fun characterization, bloodshed, and general mayhem - so should come out of my head to 'paper' much easier).

This weekend will see Chapter 11 released - The Betrayal (you knew that was coming Wink )

After that will try to stick to 2 weeks per chapter release schedule till finished. (possible slowdown or bonus chapter in late September due to a Greece vacation) But that does mean I should have it all finished before the end of the year, which will mean a touch over a year to write the thing - whew!) And if I finish the writing sooner we'll just speed up the release dates, maybe biweekly or so.

Maybe something shorter after this Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Jul 18 2012, 15:44

Quote :
This weekend will see Chapter 11 released

The Dark Muses have looked favourably upon our sacrifices.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Wed Jul 18 2012, 23:43

Another great chapter!!! I loves it!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Jul 22 2012, 05:14

Chapter 11: The Betrayal


“What do you think is in it?”

The black casket was attached to tow cables, Ben’rik and Jorik being given the job of hauling the odd prize back to Perception’s Warp. A purchase from the Little Tailor that Tael had seemed quite entranced by. Ben’rik’s good eye narrowed slightly as he looked ahead to where Tael led the small group as they flew back to their hideout. Once more Tael stood proud and strong upon his skyboard, the work of the Haemonculus having pieced his insides back together again, leaving him full of life and vigor once more.

“They were very explicit, that the container was empty.” Ben’rik glanced back at the casket and frowned. “Though Tael said he spent a lot on it…”

“That doesn’t make sense,” offered Jorik, “why would you pay a lot for an empty container?”

“Because the container itself is somehow valuable, of course, you dolt.” Ben’rik spat. “Not that it matters, deals with Haemonculi never end well for the buyer, we can be assured that even Tael paid more than he received.”

“The man has grown mad,” agreed Jorik. Ben’rik glanced at him out of the corner of his eye in surprise. Jorik had long been one of the stauncher Tael-loyalists within the gang, and to hear him talk so was…promising.

“Perhaps not mad, simply misguided,” Ben’rik offered, a more neutral stance that still invited discussion.

“Mad,” assured Jorik meaningfully. When I think of how many men we lost on that raid at the Consortium, and all for what? Nothing, save a few snagged trinkets. It was a waste of manpower and was costly in many ways. It was never like that when you were in charge.”

“No…no, I suppose it wasn’t.”

“Have you considered that?”

“Considered what,” asked Ben’rik innocently.

“Being in charge again.”

“Well…” Ben’rik smiled softly to himself “I will admit the thought has crossed my mind a few times.” His gaze returned to Tael’s back. If even someone like Jorik was beginning to doubt their course, then it was perhaps the perfect moment to finally make the move he’d been planning for a long time.

A dead Tael.

A triumphant Ben’rik.

He laughed as they roared back towards Perception’s Warp, his mind already ablaze at the possibilities.


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

Vollio met Ben’rik as they landed. Tael was busy about the casket, having it carted off to one of the ruined and crumbling buildings wedged in the walls of The Alley. Most of the Hellions cheered their return, though it was a cheer that crumbled as they came to realize that none of the vault invaders had actually escaped with any riches, striking home how bungled of an operation the entire raid had been. Tael had led them on many successful raids, but you were only ever as good as your last campaign, and for the first time Tael had not only failed in the eyes of the gang, but had failed in spectacular fashion.

“Walk with me.”

Ben’rik sprang off his skyboard and motioned to Vollio. The snarling trainer fell into step alongside him, the two slinking off away from the others.

“I am pleased to see you back in one piece,” lied Vollio. Ben’rik grinned, recognizing that Vollio had been set to become the new leader of the gang until his return. “I am surprised to see Tael back as well, I would have thought you could have arranged for an accident.” This part, at least, Ben’rik knew Vollio spoke truthfully about.

“You expected me to kill him right in front of Wren perhaps?” Ben’rik scoffed. “And I suppose my natural alliance with Kyssindree would have helped see me through the rest? Don’t be foolish my friend, he intentionally enmeshed me with his allies, I could do nothing…then.”

“But now?” Vollio grunted happily.

“Now, now we are at a special point, I think. Never has his popular support been so low. Even Jorik speaks against him.”

“Really?”

“From my ears to yours he does,” Ben’rik smiled, “what of the others here?”

“Ssinssilla and more than half of the lesser races still appear to hold loyalty to him above all others.”

“To be expected, he treats them with more care and attention than they deserve, easy enough rabble to be bought, but hardly a serious threat.”

“Glynn and most of his men still side with Tael, as does, most assuredly, Wren and those loyal to her. Plus there’s the Wych, a few might side with her no matter which side she picks, she has a bit of a…following now.”

“Glynn will be easy enough if we take an early advantage, he’ll not want to risk his skin, but Wren…”

“She’s dangerous, and she won’t be caught unaware.”

“Agreed,” Ben’rik smirked, “but even the most alert watchdog can be distracted by something that concerns it more. Leave Wren and the Wych to me, I think I can handle them.”

“Fair enough, when will we do this?”

“Spread the word amongst only the most trusted agents.” Ben’rik slapped Vollio on the back as he turned to depart. “Tael dies tomorrow night.”

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

Kyssindree silently slipped into Tael’s chambers. He wasn’t alone, which displeased her, but Wren was not present, which was less troublesome. He was in conversation with a few young touts – Dark Eldar children earning a living as messengers and runners in the dark and twisting streets of Commoragh. They were an inferior messenger service, naturally, to the options used by the Kabals, but they were talented enough in their limited ways. Tael sat upon the black casket he had purchased from the Little Tailor, treating it like the most elegant of thrones. He was handing over cases of data crystals to each tout along with some measure of their payment.

His eyes flicked up, spotting her lurking in the shadows of the entryway, and Kyssindree instantly, and unconsciously, shifted her stance to a proud one as she strode towards him.

“Am I interrupting anything important, my lord?” She dipped her head at him very slightly, an acknowledgement of his rank here, if not his superiority to her. Not for her was the fawning and pathetic devotion of Wren, and it was best he understood that if their partnership was to go anywhere worthwhile.

“It is important, but you are not interrupting.” Tael turned back to the touts. “Be off with you, and those messages had best be suffusing the city by dawn. Understood?” The young children nodded, some in fear, others in eager anticipation of their rewards, and then they scurried off like vermin. Tael smiled to himself as he watched them go, obviously pleased by the progress of his work, before he turned back to her. “What can I do for you, my dear?”

“Do for me?” Kyssindree smiled as she sauntered forward, “perhaps it is what I can do for you?” She still wore his red scarf, and toyed with it as she came towards him. She was not wearing much else, and his expression barely hid his flicker of surprise and lust at the sight. She had known since she’d taken the scarf from him in the vaults that he desired her, had seen it in his eyes, and was not one to cast aside such a useful situation.

Tael managed a smaller, if perhaps more honest smile, “I see you have some thoughts already about what sort of help I need.”

“I have some ideas.” She moved up to straddle his legs, easing herself down to sit on his lap, her eyes watching his stormy blue ones carefully as she smirked at him. “You don’t need a lost waif child following you around, or some cyclopean lieutenant looking to stab you in the back at every opportunity. They are pawns to you. Expendable and of limited use.” She began to rock her hips a bit as she spoke, leaning forward to nibble at his ears as she whispered to him. She smiled as she heard him let out a small gasp of surprised pleasure. As well he should, her body was perfect, and her techniques had taken many years to master.

“What do you want, exactly?”

“A partnership.” She stopped stroking him and leaned back to regard him carefully once more. “You’re better than this rabble, aren’t you? You are like me, born from something greater.”

There was a flicker of emotion across his face as she said this, so quick she was almost unsure she’d seen the darkening of his brow. But then the confident Tael smile returned.

“Of course, it is easy to see that my connection to the Kabal is…deep.”

She nodded. “And it also isn’t hard to see you have plans, and that you’re smart enough to plan to end up on top.” She smiled as she reached down and began toying open the buckles of his fighting leathers. He did not oppose her. “However, what concerns me,” she danced her fingers playfully across his belly as she peeled back his clothing, “is that I suspect your loyalty to this gang is…limited?”

“They are of definite use to me.”

“Yes,” she smiled at him as she took firm hold of him with one of her hands, he gasped in pleasure again and smirked back at her as he reached up and began unwrapping the scarf off her chest to reveal what lay beneath. “But I’m not planning to be tossed away like one of them when that use is over.”

“Toss you away?” He smiled as he leaned forward to trace his lips along her collarbone.

“Yes.” She increased the pressure of her grip to non-pleasurable levels and he snarled slightly as he pulled his head back, she twisted her hand a bit and he let out a half groan of pleasure and pain as he eyed her carefully. “I’ll dance for you, in all the ways you may wish.” Her free hand began to finish the unwrapping he had started, pulling the scarf away from her alabaster white skin, her breasts bared to his hungry gaze. “But there will be a cost.”

“What,” his hips bucked slightly underneath her, “what sort of cost, exactly?”

“Equals,” she stated flatly, “you tell me the plan and I get to share in its rewards commensurately with what you ask me to do for you.” She smiled as she leaned in closer, her tongue sneaking out to lick softly across his lips. “And if I think for one second you’re turning your back on me…well, it won’t go half as nicely for you as this has.”

His hand suddenly snapped up, grabbing a handful of her wild black hair and pulling on it painfully, forcing her off him as he drove her to the ground. Recognizing the ‘attack’ for what it was Kyssindree half purred and half snarled in pain as she was dragged down with him atop her.

“How about this for the deal,” his sharp blue eyes cut into her as positioned himself. “Your loyalty will be unquestioned because I won’t explain my plan, but I promise you a fair reward.” She laughed as he kept pinning her to the ground, his finely muscled body sure and strong atop her.

“What do you take me for,” she hissed between some gasps for air as he bit and kissed savagely at her lips, “one of your silly gang girls willing to roll over and accept what scraps you’ll toss her?”

Her legs arced up, hooking his shoulders as she twisted to the side, rolling him onto his back and leaving her atop him. Her hands clamped on his throat to pin him down, her own body possessing a strength he had probably not anticipated as she held him, taking what she chose from him, her hips moving quickly now.

“You’ve seen what I can do. Either I’m worth something or I’m not. Either I have a place here that matters or I don’t.”

“By the Dark…” He gasped and grunted beneath her, fighting her a bit, though not strongly. “Yes, you are worth something.”

“Then either I’m worth more than the rest of this scum, and I get to learn the plan and my part in it, or you aren’t offering me a reward worthy enough to keep me, and I walk away and take my chances elsewhere.”

He wristlocked her then, twisting hard to break her grip as he sat up, his hands locking onto her bucking hips tightly as he held her to a pace that was also of his choosing. His lips met hers, fiery and hot, she bit back hard, drawing blood that dribbled down his lips as her tongue sought out the crimson drops. They both laughed.

“Equals,” he announced.

“Until one of us becomes bored,” she promised.

“Until then.”

His eyes glittered as they met her own, and Kyssindree knew it had been a negotiation well worth the having. Thankfully, there were yet many smaller details to iron out.

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

“Of course I know where to find The Howlers. Everyone does.”

“I see we’re going to need to be more persua- wait…what?”

Obessa stepped forward to look at the Hellion whom Zak was currently lifting up by his leather harness and dangling over a rather dangerous drop to the veranda garden below them. Zak glanced at her and then back to the Hellion who was trying to look helpful.

“Repeat that.”

“I said I know where to find the Hellions, pretty lady, pull back your skull faced dog here and I’ll be happy to tell you. I’m not a fan of difficult landings, y’know.”

Obessa walked up, placing a foot on the edge of the roof and glancing down to the open area below. A few onlookers were pointing up at them in interest and others were already hunting for good seats near the impact point. She returned her gaze to the Hellion, reaching out to poke at his blue Mohawk.

“You’re one of the Blue Spines gang, right?”

“Heard of us, eh?” The Hellion smirked proudly as he almost seemed to try to puff out his chest. “I wouldn’t mind getting to hear a bit more about what you’re all into,” he winked lasciviously at her, “if y’know what I mean.”

“I think I do,” Obessa grinned warmly at him as she leaned forward, and pointedly dug the razor sharp tip of her dagger between his legs. His eyes grew wide as all color drained from his face. “Now, unless you’d like me to show you exactly,” she twisted the blade slightly, which elicited a meep of surprise from him, “what I like to get into, I suggest you tell us all about The Howlers. Trust me, when I’m done you’ll need all the care and attention of a Haemonculi Cult to return what you’ve lost.”

“Sure, doll, sure, no need to get all excited on my account. Word is out all over the streets, it’s no secret. Howlers are hosting a huge shin-dig to celebrate their big raid at that merchant vault. Took a real black mark to the Kabals on that one, they did. Planning to show off to anyone they can get to show, I reckon, but with enough food and gifts promised I reckon enough will show all right.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Got the address and invite on a data crystal in my left thigh pouch.” He grinned hopefully. “What say we call it fair trade for not dropping me, eh?”

Obessa pulled out the crystal in question and scanned over the info on it. Sure enough, the invite was right there, not even any real encryption worth noting on it. She showed it to Zak, who, if he had an opinion, made no sign. She then glanced up at the Hellion and shrugged.

“Thanks, that will help.” She turned to Zak, “you can set him loose now.”

Zak did so immediately. The Hellion screamed all the way down.

“Really?” Obessa sighed. “I actually meant let him go, as in set him free.”

“Most Archons like to be clever when they say ‘kill him’ to me, I must have over thought your request. My humblest apologies.” Zak shrugged. Obessa stared at him for a moment, seriously wondering whether the Incubi was joking with her or not. “In any case, it is best that The Howlers don’t hear that we have this information, it was foolish to suggest letting him go unmolested. I take no pride in the kill, but I do take pride in the proper execution of the mission.”

“Whatever, let’s go.”

Their next stop was a small eatery and wine bar. A glance at Zak and Obessa and the lumbering Sslyth doorman slid happily out of their way. Inside the smoky room lurked dozens of figures, most having hushed conversations that fell silent as new figures entered the bar. There were representatives from a multitude of races. Mon’keigh Rogue Traders with frightened expressions bartered with Hrud mercenary captains. In the back an Eldar Corsair in gleaming blue armor spoke softly with a fork tongued Cluvian Devil. A lithe Dark Eldar in high end scarlet fashions from two cycles ago and a scarred face eyed them suspiciously as they walked into the room.

“It makes no strategic sense.” Zak’s normally unreadable voice now certainly conveyed confusion.

“It makes me happy.” Obessa selected a booth in the back and began depositing chits in the privacy generator. “You aren’t going to allow yourself to be happy about it, though, are you?”

“It’s not a question of choosing to be happy about an occurrence. It’s a question of understanding what it means.” Zak joined her and motioned to the proprietor, indicating the two of them desired meals. Obessa and he waited quietly until they were brought out, along with a wine selected by Zak. Then Obessa activated the privacy generator – a shield of white noise and anti-eavesdropping generators fluttered to life.

To no surprise to her, Zak produced a portable privacy generator and activated it as well. It was a good practice, many merchants had recording devices set up within their generators to allow them access to the secrets revealed there for future sale or blackmail.

“I do not disagree that this is an apparently fortuitous turn of events, I simply question why it should happen at a perfect time for our purposes.” Zak shrugged as he reached up with his spare hand and unclasped his helmet, pulling it off. “I would prefer to consider the possibilities.”

“If it pleases you,” she noted dryly.

Obessa found herself studying his face. He was certainly handsome, though not as much as he perhaps once had been. Touches of age were clear on him. Silvery traces snaked into his shortly cropped black hair, edging in at the temples and in a small silvery-white streak just to the right of the middle of his head. His features were hard and sharp, imperial and noble in bearing, and a firm jaw with a mouth set in a thin line. His eyes were potent and dark, like pools of deep water that seemed to drink in everything with careful consideration.

“We know that we had spent nearly a full cycle hunting for information on The Howlers and found nothing, those who were willing to talk knew nothing, and those smart enough to know something were able to evade our grasp or hide the truth from us.” He wasn’t even looking at her as he spoke, instead he was cutting up his meal and starting to eat. “I would tend to imagine you as a woman intelligent enough to understand how strange it is then, that we suddenly hear of a gathering The Howlers are hosting and, conveniently, that they are offering invitations to all the Hellion gangs to attend.” She couldn’t even tell if he was trying to be insulting, or simply blunt. The amusement she’d had died away.

“It’s unusual, certainly.”

“It’s foolish.” The Incubi placed some meat in his mouth and chewed at it contentedly as he eyed her. His eyes were very sharp indeed. Dark and deep, he didn’t miss much she suspected. “What would you do if you had successfully stolen from a powerful Kabal?”

“Hide or find a more powerful ally to protect myself.” Even as Obessa answered with the obvious answer she frowned as she considered the situation. “I certainly wouldn’t advertise a party to celebrate my victory mere days afterwards when the wound is fresh and there is no doubt agents are seeking me.”

“I concur.”

“It also doesn’t make sense,” Obessa mused, “we know they barely managed to steal anything, yet they’re advertising their victory and wanting to allow the other gangs to witness their spoils? It’s a scam.”
“Agreed.”

“A trap, for us?”

“I considered that but,” Zak shrugged, “one gang, even with assorted guests, and even presuming every guest decides to join the fight against us, versus a combined assault from a Kabal and Cult?” He took a bite of his meat and chewed at it for a while. “They’ll still be massacred.”

“And, even knowing this, Douraal will still attack, even if it’s part of The Howler’s plans.”

“I suspect so.” Zak motioned to her untouched food. “That bothers you?”

“No,” she answered too quickly.

He didn’t say anything as she took a quick gulp of wine. He just sat there chewing, those dark eyes studying her quite intently as he did. She found his eyes as unreadable as his mask, indeed, in some ways, there seemed to be no difference.

“We’ll finish our meal and then inform Archon Douraal,” he announced softly. “I suspect, plan or not, that it will end poorly for The Howlers.”

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

Wren was easy enough to find. The waterfall into the Invernill Gap that marked the boundary of The Howlers’ territory had always been one of her favored haunts. She sat on an outcropping of rusting metal pipes, perching on one of them that jutted out over the edge of the precipitous drop. Her coat was soaked by the spray of the icy water that fell down in a torrent only two dozen feet away from her, her spikey hair plastered to her scalp, her dark eye makeup running in streaming rivulets down her pale white cheeks as she hugged her knees to her chest.

Ben’rik had always hated this place, and never understood why Wren liked it so much. It was a dangerous place. Below, in the chasm, lurked things best forgotten, strange beings and truly twisted Dark Eldar who lived and died in murderous shadowed violence. Above him the ever pressing gloom of the city gave way to the darkened sky, home of the Scourges, and the gliders of the Kabals. A world to yearn for, perhaps, but on no less dangerous than the one below. Even here, in the middle territory that was his, the Invernill lay at the boundary of their gang turf. Here was a meeting point for clashes and wars with other Hellions and even pathetic groundlocked gangs of young Dark Eldar fighting for something better than what they had. It was far from the safe center of his power.

But, Wren was here, and so he had to be too.

That hideous bird that she had been gifted from the Beastmasters perched still upon her shoulder. Its head rotated around to look backwards so that it saw his approach, malevolent, beady eyes watching him in a way that made him want to draw froth his pistol and incinerate the foul thing.

“Wren!” She didn’t start in surprise at his call of greeting. Whether that was because she was so relaxed as to not care, or that she had been well aware of his approach, he was uncertain. “I’d like to speak with you!”

This last caused her to turn her head to regard him. Her eyes narrowed somewhat as he grinned at her, her thin lips pursing as she considered his offer. Then, with a slight scraping, she shifted over on the pipe enough to offer him a seat there. The wretched black bird squawked at him as it ruffled its feathers, apparently unpleased by its mistress’ movement…or perhaps just by the company approaching.

Ben’rik sauntered out onto the pipe, pulling his own cloak tighter around himself to shield his clothing from the spray as he gingerly found a spot that wasn’t too rusting or corroded for him to sit upon.

“I’m worried for you, Wren, I thought you could use some advice.”

She let out a short hiss that suggested she wasn’t much convinced she needed advice.

“I led the gang for a long time, you know,” Ben’rik continued on. Wren would listen to him, even if she didn’t invite the conversation, it was in her inquisitive nature. “I’m sure you remember the day I found you, don’t you? The little waif child covered in filth and in far more trouble than she’d ever expected to be in.”

She hunched her shoulders slightly but did spare a slight glance at him. He smiled warmly at her, not bothering to point out that his actual recollection of the rescue was probably a bit different than hers.

“You fit in well enough and were always a loyal trooper…” He left out that he felt she’d been loyal up until that wretch Tael had shown up, of course. “I also like to take a bit of pride in how well you’ve done for yourself. Whatever he says when he jokes about with me, we both know that you are his true trusted ally and right hand here. I’m, at best,” he shrugged, “just an old advisor.”

Wren was looking fully at him now. Her eyes were still a little narrowed, but her brow was furrowed in what, he hoped, was concern for her old boss. He paused for a moment, just to give the image that he was struggling to come up with the next words. He allowed a slight creak of emotion to enter his voice.

“I’m worried about you though…worried about some of our…new members.” He shrugged and shook his head, running his hand through his damp hair. “Maybe I’m just fooling myself though, your relationship with Tael is still excellent, I’m sure. I’m probably just seeing things.” He made to stand up. “Ah, this was silly, I’ll leave.” Even as he made to depart a steely strong grip settled on his calf and held him back.

“Seeing things? What things?”

Wren didn’t speak often, and usually just to snarl insults or threats when it suited her. If she asked a question she very much wanted to know the answer. Ben’rik allowed himself a smirking grin of triumph before he painted his face with a look of anguish and turned around to face her again.

“Well,” he sighed as he sat down again. “It’s just the wych. Kyssindree. I sort of find myself thinking…” He glanced down at her and saw how intent her gaze was on him. “Look, it’s just she and Tael shared their beds earlier, right after you left the camp. I’m sure it’s just a fling for sport, but the way she and he look at each other sometimes…”

Ben’rik honestly had no idea if Tael and Kyssindree had become physical. But, the sparks were definitely there, and the only important matter was that Wren believed it was true. The young Hellion’s eyes narrowed again, color draining from her face as she considered this news.

“I’m probably wasting my time even telling you this, though. You know how loyal Tael is to you, surely, and I can’t imagine he’s flitting around with the wych just to see if you’d fight to hold your place or anything.” Ben’rik shrugged. “Besides, you probably would want to avoid dueling the wych, of course, no offense but I am afraid you wouldn’t even be a match for her.”

Wren let out a small growl in the back of her throat, low and dangerous.

“It’s all silly talk, though, I’m just seeing things, like I said. I’m sure you’ll be back to sharing Tael’s bed as soon as he bores of her, and there is no way he could think of replacing you after all you’ve done for him. Kyssindree has ample…charms.” Ben’rik chuckled as he stood up again, “but nothing compared to what you do, I am certain. Ignore me, little one, I’m being silly.”

Ben’rik tilted his head to her in farewell as he gingerly worked his way back off the pipe and began strolling back towards the encampment. Vollio was waiting for him with their skyboards a discrete distance away. He shrugged as Ben’rik appeared.

“Well?”

“Have no fear, my friend.” Ben’rik mounted up. “Poor little Wren’s head has always been fertile ground for well planted seeds. I get the feeling that Kyssindree is about to have an interesting day tomorrow, and when she does we’ll be there to make sure Tael is handled as well, and then the gang will be mine again.”

“Ours, you mean,” clarified Vollio.

“Ours, yes,” Ben’rik and Vollio eyed each other carefully as they fired up their boards and began flying back to camp, “of course, my friend, ours.”

They both nodded in understanding of what that meant.

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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Jul 22 2012, 05:21

August 5th or so is the next planned update. The Party promises all sorts of interesting points, but here is my teaser anyway;

Kyssindree vs. Wren - 'nuff said.

Finished my clog up chapter, now having a bit more fun, updates look to be likely to stay on course.
Already toying around with a couple of side stories that I may do - a series of shorts starring some of the characters from this tale, we'll see how that goes, but, as is par for me, I'm already writing some of them...one is even for a character that hasn't even shown up yet, and, even if the character does appear, will likely be a bit part...go figure.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Jul 22 2012, 05:58

I love the 'negotiation' there was enough action but not verly graphic.
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Jul 22 2012, 06:56

Thanks - the DE are, by their nature, fairly hyper-sexual in a fluff sense. Kyssindree perhaps moreso than some, as she certainly extroverts her pleasure in it. That said, I have little interest in writing quite like that (plus, I'm pretty sure it would break site rules). So, you get hinted action - it carries the flow but without needing censor bars Wink

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