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 Trueborn - completed

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Cavash
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Join date : 2012-04-15
Location : Stuck in an air vent spying on plotters

PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Jul 22 2012, 16:01

If I could only use one word to describe my feelings towards this, it would have to be... jealous!
I am just jealous at work this superb. Watch your back... you never know who may be waiting to steal your description-gland. Very Happy

Great work, splendid description and awesomely believable charecters. I love it and I really cannot wait for more!

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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Jul 22 2012, 20:43

Ah. more Trueborn. My weekend instantly improves Very Happy

I hadn't realised Wren was Tael's concubine, I thought she just followed him around kind of ... moon-eyed and hoping. Kyssindree has underestimated her ... And I agree, you handle the situation - all those kind of situations - with suitable discretion without losing the Ynneas Eladrith character.

I have a small bet with myself on whom the casket is intended for; I can't wait to see if I'm right Very Happy

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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Jul 22 2012, 21:20

I like the thought you have as to what the casket will be, and why an empty container is valuable.

As for Wren, you've been betting on her being underestimated for a while now. Maybe she's just as helpless and foolish as she appears? (don't worry, I do at least promise she'll have a moment to show Tael what she thinks of how he treated her...or is that a moment to prove Tael predicted her perfectly...I forget, at least one of the above, I'm sure.)

I will say, I'm plotting to write that Ben'rik meets and recruits Wren tale at some point. I have the idea clear in my head and it's very apropos for both of them.

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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Jul 22 2012, 21:57

I look forward to that. Yes, I have a bit of a soft spot for the little savage amid all the pretty, flashy people Very Happy Not that they don't have their place. Or the stoic, stern warrior types.

Was that Incubus humour? We will never know, for they will never tell .... but Arhra remembers.

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ftayl5
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Jul 23 2012, 12:45

This is brilliant. Very well written, a very capturing and intriguing and interesting and thrilling and just awesome plot so far. Good character development, good turns and excellent suspense especially now we have to wait for the next chapter. Really good stuff, I actually read everything from chapter 1 up to now, all in this afternoon, despite intending only to have a brief look. I love the way you're portraying the Dark Eldar and the relationships between the different Kabals, Cults and Gangs; this is really quite a superb piece of work, even just so far, for providing insight into the internal machinations of the Dark City.
The hyper-sexual, overtly hedonistic aspect you bring to them is great as well, something that "officially" would never be explored as GW is after all a "12+" hobby.

Keep it up, I'm hooked and might cry if I have to wait 'till August 5th for more.
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PartridgeKing
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Tue Jul 24 2012, 13:48

I'm going to add my praise to the list it seems. Very well written and consistently engaging. I'm really glad to see it extend and keep going and I'm looking forward to the rest of it. My sincere apologies for taking this long to getting round to reading it.

I agree with the above as to how you've handled all the more mature subjects that come part and parcel with our kind, suitably evocative and descriptive without going anywhere near the 'line' of unreasonable, leaves it predominantly in each of our heads but with all the rights bits keeping it relevant and not obscured by too much flowery language, very nicely done.

Also as to the plot; equally impressed, weaving threads in for a longer work and then plucking them at the right times is not easy - why I'm working on short stories myself at the moment ((not that that doesn't take it's own range of skills)) - and you're doing it very very well. I look forward to the next installment and then crucially to the one after it - assuming I've not lost track of where we sit on your projected chapter list - where it all comes together.
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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Tue Jul 24 2012, 16:42

Thank you all. I'm glad I hit the right run speed with some of the mature themes, it felt obligatory to have those sorts of things in there, but at the same time if you focus too much on some of them you become a different type of story - and my goal is an action-adventure tale primarily, so I don't really want to dwell on some of the nastier habits some of the characters have (and there are many). I'll keep the future chapters pretty much the same style as it's clearly a win for everyone.

@PartridgeKing - I will note that the chapter you're talking about is officially titled with a 'Part 1' but, yes, things will be shaken up in that chapter, most assuredly.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Fri Aug 03 2012, 05:30

Chapter 12: The Party


“Tael!”

Kyssindree sighed muzzily as she stretched herself out across the carpet and furs on the floor.

“Tael! You need to come quickly!”

“In a moment!”

A pleasing warmth along her side departed. She cocked open one eye at the continued disruption. Tael stood with his back to her, a few trailing scratches from sharp fingernails crisscrossing his muscular shoulders. Kyssindree allowed herself a small smirk of remembered pleasure at the sight of them. He pulled his dark brown leather pants on and began working the buckles back into place.

“If you do that, it will take me some time to undo them again,” she drawled huskily as she propped herself up on one arm, her hair cascading along her bare flesh, tickling her sensitive skin and poking sharply at a few bruises and scratches of her own. She licked her lips as Tael glanced back at her and allowed a slow smile to spread across her face. “I’m not quite done with you yet.”

“I’m afraid it sounds like duty is calling,” he noted with a shrug as he slipped into a loose silken shirt. She rolled her eyes at the thought and sank back into the furs. “You may wish to come along for this.”

She poked her head up again in curiosity. “Why?”

“I haven’t told you my plan yet since you did seem to have…more urgent purposes for my mouth.” She smirked at him again as he winked, “but this is the beginning of the final play.”

“Really?” She stood up and allowed herself to enjoy the way he couldn’t quite take his eyes off her. She picked up a few sheathes and strapped them into place on her forearms and inner thigh, securing the knives inside. Then she simply plucked up one of the furs, a long haired dark red creature, and flung it around herself, concealing just enough to draw the eyes of others to the shadowy recesses. “I’m dressed. Let’s go.”

“As you will,” he allowed himself a Tael smile as he motioned her to follow.

His rooms were part of a half-buried and forgotten building that had once been a noble’s palace. They walked along the marble entryway and down a set of wide steps that descended into the heart of Perception’s Warp alley.

The boring and studious Hellion medic, barely a man, who she was fairly certain they called Jorik waited nervously by the stairs. His eyes flickered over Kyssindree and she toyed with him a bit by shifting the furs just enough to reveal almost all of her outer thigh and some of the secrets he so wished to see. Tael’s presence, though, spoiled the mood for poor Jorik who swallowed nervously and turned his gaze to Tael.

“We seem to have a lot of guests arriving.”

“Guests?” Tael smiled but his voice revealed nothing.

“Um, yes, quite a few of them actually. Representatives from over twenty gangs already, and they all have invitations to a party…that we’re hosting.” Jorik became more confused as Tael remained calm. “They all had maps! Maps that led them right to our hideout, and promises of rewards and gifts just for showing up, and…and they seem to expect to be treated to a party…”

“Well then,” Tael nodded sagely, “shouldn’t we start breaking out some food and music?”

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

“What is going on, Ben’rik?”

Vollio had been asking the same thing for about the last ten minutes and Ben’rik was starting to toy with the idea of just stabbing him in the throat to shut him up so he could have a few moments to think. He and Vollio had gone off deeper into the alley with their chosen allies to plan how exactly they were going to manage the murder. Ben’rik had explained the embers he’d planted in Wren and how he suspected the hot-headed girl would be likely to attempt to murder or duel her rival, either way it would remove the deadly duo as a threat to worry about while killing Tael.

They had described how they’d get him away from the other gangers, purportedly for a meeting, and then would descend on him in a whirl of flashing blades. Ben’rik himself had looked forward to seeing the expression on Tael’s face as he sunk the knife in, he suspected the proud bastard wouldn’t have been smiling at that point.

And then they had headed back, ready to do the deed and…had come into this.

“Ben’rik!” A hand clapped down on his shoulder and Ben’rik almost spun around to lash out with the poisoned dagger he was intending for Tael. He jerked his head around to see the laughing face of an older Dark Eldar with multiple metal piercings in his face and his teeth sharpened into fangs. “It’s me, Yolsyn of the Darkcutters! You don’t remember me, do you? Ha ha ha!”

“I…” Ben’rik was forced to sheathe his poisoned blade to accept a bottle of some potent smelling wine that Yolsyn was shoving at him.

“The raid at Enterin,” laughed Yolsyn, “your gang and mine were both hired by Archon Asdrubael himself to aid in a realspace raid. Ah, I remember the screams like they were yesterday. You and I, in that odd building they put all their women and children into? Good times, eh?”

All around them raged the party, and never before had Ben’rik seen such a party. Hellions from dozens of different gangs walked together, laughing and drinking. Slaves hustled around with food and drink, some of them being pulled away from their duties to pleasure the Hellions in ways ranging from simple sex to being carved up to compare the quality of two blades. Drums beat wildly as other Hellions sang songs of pillage and profit. Dancers, stripping off their clothing as the heat got to them, capered around huge burning bonfires that must serve as beacons to any of the dwellers in the Alley…and certainly not all of them were pleasant.

“You have to tell me though,” Yolsyn pulled Ben’rik in closer to him, his gleaming red eyes suddenly not seeming so confused with drugs and alcohol, “what is your man, Tael’s, plan here, exactly? I could make it worth your while if you let me know if the promised sharing of loot is to be trusted, and what his angle is even if he isn’t.”

“Well, I don’t…”

“Come now, Ben’rik.” Yolsyn’s voice dropped to a whisper, barely audible over the beating drums and howling songs. “You and I both know how large my gang is, and you know my boss didn’t come here because of the possibility of treachery. Sure, he may avenge me, but I’d rather make sure I land on my own feet, if you know what I mean. It can be worth your while, you understand?”

“Yes, of course, of course.” Ben’rik offered a conspiratorial nod. “Just remind me, what were you promised for coming here?” He sloshed the bottle in his hand. “I may have partaken of too much.”

“Don’t play coy with me,” snarled Yolsyn,” I’m talking about the ten thousand soul chits for each gang that comes here and entertains Tael’s new scheme regardless of if we sign on or not.”

“Ten…thousand.” Ben’rik uncorked the bottle and took a hefty swig of whatever was inside of it and his insides still felt like they were going to ice. He glanced around, his eye spotting no less than twenty different gang markings, and there had to be more than that, so many more.

“You all must have cleaned up on that raid on the Black Sail Consortium, I never did see anything like that,” chortled Yolsyn as he attempted wheedling politeness again now that veiled threats had failed. “I mean, if it’s something like that again…well, you’ll have some interested ears.”

“Yolsyn, let me assure you, I will find out exactly what is intended, and Tael will not have a chance to double cross you in any way that will harm you. We’ll discuss your payment later.”

Ben’rik shoved away from the sputtering Hellion and began to claw his way through the thronging crowds. The blasting music tore at his senses as The Howlers and their guests continued the wild party. Ben’rik stormed over two dancers…or perhaps lovers, kicking them out of his way as he and his conspirators moved towards the center of the party. A large bonfire that had a large chair formed out of lashed together animal tusks and set before the fire like some sort of pseudo-throne. Tael sat upon the throne, holding ‘court’ with that sickening smile on his face. Ben’rik stalked towards him.

“Oh, look, the Cyclops.” Kyssindree lounged upon the throne wearing mostly just scant skintight scraps of leather and dozens of jewels on her fingers and hanging from necklaces around her neck. She raised a goblet of some bubbling liquid to him as she took a deep draught, her eyes happily glazed with some drug. “I already feel him ruining my mood.” She began to fish for a knife from her thigh sheath, though Tael’s hand fell upon her, stopping her from drawing it forth as he massaged her smooth white skin deftly.

“Ben’rik, my dearest friend,” his blue eyes seemed to crackle red with madness in the firelight, “what can I do for you on this day of joy?”

A half-naked girl of some bothersome alien race shuffled forward to offer him some food, but Ben’rik batted the platter aside as he walked closer to Tael. “I had come to discuss some strategic considerations and I find…” He looked around helplessly at the roaring party that filled the main cavern of their lair, and even seemed to be spilling out into some of the nearby passageways.

“It is a good gathering, my friend.”

“I am certain, but the security strain is…what steps did you take to increase our perimeter guard?”

“Perimeter guard?” Tael pursed his lips as he considered this for a moment before glancing at Kyssindree. “Did I remember to place any at all?”

Kyssindree giggled merrily as she took another drink and lounged against his shoulder.

Ben’rik’s blood felt like it wasn’t even flowing through his veins anymore. This was…this was madness! They had gained nothing from the last raid, and to pay out the soul chits to all of these gangs would totally deplete the stores of wealth they had stockpiled over the last few years, even presuming there was enough to pay them all off. And if they couldn’t pay them off, the repercussion of insulting so many gangs? They were ruined, Tael had ruined them, the entire gang was as good as dead right this second.

Ben’rik smiled. “It is indeed a great day, but I really do need to talk with you about some matters of import, perhaps in private?

“Oh, don’t go,” Kyssindree leaned down to nibble Tael’s ear, “I was just about to dance and show these wretches how clumsy they really are.”

“I shall be gone but a moment,” Tael took Kyssindree’s hand and kissed the knuckles before patting it reassuringly. He lurched up to his feet, swaying drunkenly as he raised his arms theatrically above his head. “I must depart momentarily, but I declare that all efforts at debauchery must be doubled! More wine! More slaves! More!”

His pronouncement was met with rousing cheers from all present save Ben’rik and his small group. Tael laughed merrily as he stumbled down from his throne and allowed Ben’rik to lead him off towards his private quarters. Behind him trailed the others loyal to him, poisoned blades hidden beneath their cloaks.

There was still a chance for some good to come out of this madness, at least for those who kept their priorities in order. Ben’rik felt very ordered as he led Tael away from the noise of the crowds and into the shadowy solitude of the large building. He led Tael down a winding set of stairs into the dark chambers that hid the vaults of the gang, and were also quite quiet and secluded from any odd interruptions.

Tael leaned heavily on Ben’rik, in his drunken stupor occasionally pawing at Ben’rik’s cloak in search of a bottle. Tael was somewhat satiated when Ben’rik shoved his own half drained drink into his hands. He laughed as he took a sip and declared it to be of fine quality.

“I’m going to enjoy this,” Ben’rik announced as they reached the vaults and he shoved Tael off him. The Hellion leader stumbled along awkwardly but managed to maintain his footing, and his grip on the bottle, though he did cluck alarmed at how close it came to sloshing out onto the floor.

“What is this, Ben’rik my dear frie-“

“Oh shut your damn mouth, you fool!” Ben’rik motioned at the men with him, “we’re the only sane people left at this gathering, you’ve killed everyone else, but I’m not going down like one of your blind sycophants!”

“Doomed?”

“We barely have enough money to pay the gangs above, and whichever ones we don’t pay will…will, you are a fool! Here is what we are going to do, you are going to open the vaults, and we are going to,” Ben’rik smirked, “rescue our hard earned profit before you spend it so sloppily. Then, if you beg appropriately enough, I may just let you live…at least until your idiocy gets you killed.”

“I don’t understand,” slurred Tael.

“Just open the vault.” Ben’rik indicated the retinal scanner that was keyed to Tael’s eye.

“I still don’t understand,” muttered Tael as he leaned down to look into the scanner. The bronze vault door hissed as it rolled down. “What makes you think we have any profits worth stealing anymore?”

The vault was barren, only a few meager supplies and small bags of chits remained. Barely enough to keep the gang running for another few days. In the middle of it sat the casket, still sealed tight.

“You already paid them? You…no, you haven’t, not yet,” Ben’rik turned to Tael. “Where is it all?”

“Wherever the Little Tailor keeps his profits, I suppose. Hopefully not with a Trade Consortium, their protection is lacking. I may have overpaid him a bit, naturally, but you need to do that for good and speedy work.” That insufferable Tael smile spread across his face as he stood up straighter, no longer looking the least bit intoxicated.

“You think you’re so smart,” snarled Ben’rik, “but you’re-“ his voice trailed off as he reached under his cloak for his blast pistol and found an empty holster.

“Really, Ben’rik, old friend,” Tael drew forth the gleaming blast pistol and casually leveled it towards the group of conspirators. “What sort of man would let his enemy paw drunkenly around his weapons belt?”

“You have no right to act so confident, you bastard,” Ben’rik felt like screaming, but managed to keep his tone level and threatening. “You haven’t outthought me, there are eight of us, and only one of you.” He pulled out his poisoned dagger. “We’ll kill you before you can shoot more than one or two of us.”

“True,” Tael shrugged, “and I suppose I could issue specific threats, like I’d shoot you first…but then probably Vollio would get all excited and jump the gun.” Tael shook his head and chuckled. “So, I just figured I’d bring enough guns for all of you.”

Behind them they heard an ominous hiss. Glancing over his shoulder Ben’rik saw Ssinssilla and a few of her fellow alien slaves. The massive female Sslyth held a large splinter cannon in her hands, pointing it meaningfully at the group, the other slaves held pistols with no less determination.

“You’ve lost again, old friend,” suggested Tael.

“End it already then,” Ben’rik spat, “I grow sick of hearing your voice.”

“Oh, it’s not over yet, it is just the beginning.” Tael laughed as he tossed Ben’rik back the blast pistol and headed for the stairs, motioning for them to follow him. “Come, you’ll not want to miss this.”

“Miss what?”

“The destruction of the gang, the victory of my enemies, and my death, of course.”

“He is mad,” breathed Vollio.

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

Kyssindree danced and they worshiped her with their eyes and with their cheers and with their desire. She was the most beautiful thing here.

She danced in the firelight, her skin gleaming orange and red under its light, a thin sheen of sweat on her sparkling like stars, her wild hair whipping around her as she moved. She danced barefoot near a high wall that was actually a floor, as it lay right at the border of one of the gravity shifts in the Alley. Thus her dance defied gravity, as she sprang back and forth between the wall and the floor, moving seamlessly between the two planes as she twirled and danced for her enjoyment and the adulation of the masses.

Even some of the other dance circles had died down now, the others watching her supple body as she sprang high into the air to suddenly twist and land upon the wall in a spinning pirouette, her hair splayed around her as she twirled into a sitting posture. Her breasts heaved as she gasped for air and the sweat glistened on her body as she looked up to the crowd watching her. A smile played on her lips as she reached out, beckoning to them, seeing if any dared to come play with her.

A flash of light and a metallic snarl as the blade wedged between two stones of the wall Kyssindree was sitting on heralded the arrival of a thrown knife. Kyssindree craned her head back, looking up at the crowd. From her perception it looked like they were standing upon a huge wall that stretched away into the darkness, crazed sideways burning fires belched out smoke towards the other wall as one of the figures began to advance down towards her with a purposeful stride.

Wren shucked off her own cloak, her thin body wrapped in her fighting leathers, her wet, blood red, hair was plastered to her pale features and framed her wild eyes as she glared down at Kyssindree. She motioned meaningfully at the knife as she drew one of her own off her hip.

“Really?” Kyssindree’s head rocked back as she howled in laughter, some tears leaking from the corner of her eyes. “Oh, child, oh dear little brat.” Kyssindree’s hand snaked out as she plucked the knife from where it stuck into the wall.

Kyssindree stood up slowly, taking her time so they could all appreciate the smooth flexing of her muscles as she rose. Then sauntered down the wall towards the ground, stepping out to put her foot upon it as she passed through the gravity well with such ease it was as though she just walked off a wall and out towards the waiting Wren as casually as one might stroll across a barren field. It did take some supreme efforts in balance, but what was life without a little show? Kyssindree’s hair danced lightly in the breeze and her sparkling lips parted in a gleaming smile.

“What a gift you give me, you wretched little pup. Are you that surprised he tossed you aside? You’re built like a boy and have the brain of ghul-rat. I can only imagine he toyed with you out of some morbid curiosity. He certainly doesn’t seem to prefer boys…in my experience.”

Wren’s face screwed up in a bestial snarl as she bared her fangs.

“I’m going to really enjoy this, and give these fine folks a show they should have had to pay admission for,” Kyssindee breathed happily as she licked the blade of her knife and then pointed at Wren’s left leg. “Starting there, I’m going to incapacitate every limb on you, and then toss you to the slaves for them to take their pleasure, however they so desire.”

Wren made no bold promises, she just set her feet, readying for a charge, and gripped her knife as she snarled again. Kyssindree tried not to laugh more, the coming charge seemed so obvious, it would be a simple matter to slip to the side and slash open the tendons behind the girl’s ankle. She couldn’t wait to leave the little she-cat crawling around on the ground, helpless. Maybe she’d keep Wren around long enough to watch from a corner while she and Tael celebrated again this evening.

“Come to me, child, I will make you famous, for a moment.” Kyssindree lightly twirled the knife in her hand, letting it dance over her fingers as she raised her other hand and beckoned Wren to come for her.

The guttersnipe Hellion launched forward, and Kyssindree blinked in mild surprise at the speed of the girl. She’d have to adjust her stance quickly, maybe just dodge this time and reassess…

THOOM!

Even as Kyssindree sprang out of Wren’s path a blast shook the cavern. Everyone stumbled, a few losing their footing, at least one unlucky slave toppled into a bonfire and howled in anguish as he thrashed his way out.

Looking upwards, Kyssindree could see the roof of the alley splintering inwards. Rocks and support metal came tumbling down, crashing amongst the guests and claiming more of their lives even as they began to stagger back to their feet. The ceiling was being torn open by focused fire from dark lances, she realized, seeing the purple actinic flashes as they lashed out and tore open a hole.

“Raid!” She screamed the warning but moments before the first wave of Reaver Jetbikes and Venom skycraft hissed through the opening, the first wave of the assault. Kyssindree hardly needed to waste time noting the symbols and battle markings of the units. It was the Cult of the Bloodied Kiss and the Kabal of Splintered Soul. The price of Tael’s antics had come back for him, and had come in murderous force.

There was a moment as she and Wren locked gazes, the two of them having considered the assault and now returning their attention to one another. Wren snarled and Kyssindree smirked, but both of them understood the real level of the threat coming for them and it superseded their own squabble.

Later, their eyes each promised the other.

Wren took off like a shot, scampering on all fours like the filthy mongrel she was, as she darted off for cover. All around Kyssindree the guests were running and screaming. Some fought to get their weapons and seek cover, others took the tack of fleeing for their transports and escape, a pathetic few, mostly slaves, just curled up wailing in terror at the sight of their death coming for them.

Kyssindree loosened her shoulders as she took a few steps forward and saluted the oncoming waves of troops. As she did, her eyes suddenly lit up in amused surprise. She could see one of the Reaver Jetbike squads that was already sweeping over the crowd, using their bladevanes to cut bloody swathes through the fleeing partygoers. Kyssindree marveled at the elegant arcs of blood spraying out in their wakes. Then she paused, spotting the tightly coiled purple braid and the distinctive battle markings painted on the side of the craft.

Kyssindree laughed as the lead rider also seemed to notice her, and pulled up out of the carnage to turn towards her.

Obessa.

This was going to be fun!

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

She was just standing there. Smiling, beautiful, deadly, and just standing there, almost as if she was waving.

Perhaps it was just the amped up sensations of the drugs she was on, but it was as though time seemed to slow down for her. Kyssindree was there, and her life had been declared quite forfeit by the Cult of Bloodied Kiss. Still…was that what Obessa herself wanted? If she got Kyssindree out of the battlezone what might happen to her, to both of them? Or would it be better to simply kill her quickly and honorably, to spare her any indignities that Douraal might visit upon her. The thought of allowing anyone to avoid Douraal’s ministrations was a comforting thought.

She could see Kyssindree nodding eagerly, waving with both hands for Obessa to come for her. Her only defense a high wall at her back, which she was barely standing close enough to to get any cover from, even if Obessa couldn’t have sliced her apart without touching the wall even if Kyssindree had been pressed to it. But was that what she wanted to do?

Obessa hesitated.

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

“Come on, Obessa, don’t fret your tiny little skull trying to think this through. You and I both know you’re just going to open your bladevanes wide, swing to the left, and come in at the safe approach angle.” Kyssindree grinned to herself as Obessa did just as she expected. She was such a predictable and unimaginative creature.

“Come on, faster now, come and get me.” Kyssindree raised her hands and beckoned Obessa to her, laughing merrily, “I’m going to make you famous, for a moment.”

Obessa’s course was sloppy by all accounts, even for her, but it still did what Kyssindree needed. She bunched her legs and sprang to the left, Obessa shifted to follow her even as Kyssindree slid on the ground, perfectly balancing herself along the gravity plane.

Unaware it was there Obessa’s left course correction was suddenly a nosedive course, her attempt to adjust sent her skating across the gravity well, her bike corkscrewing wildly as she attempted to right herself. First one bladevane, then another caught on the ground, sending up streamers of sparks as they shredded away and further cast the bike out of control. With a resounding crunch it careened out of the gravity shift and spiraled into the air to smash into a far wall of the cavern and then crash to the ground below.

Kyssindree laughed out loud as she skipped lightly across the battlefield towards her prey. All around her dark lance fire lashed out to strip away defensive barricades. Dark Eldar Warriors in Raiders floated overhead, aiming the powerful weapons and using them to destroy any protective nests the defenders claimed. Meanwhile a fusillade of splinter cannons erupted from the Venoms as they swarmed through the sky overhead. Gunners in the platforms on the back operated pintle mounted guns with relish as they sprayed hundreds of poison shards across the battlefield, tearing their victims apart and leaving them to die from either blood loss or the deadly toxins in the ammunition.

Nearby she watched with some admiration as the first landing parties descended, their thrusters screaming in fury to stop their descent as the pilots basically dropped them onto the battlefield to avoid any risk of enemy firepower. One Raider disgorged a squad of ten Kabalite Warriors who slid down the chains adorning their craft in unison as they lay down suppressing fire with their splinter rifles. Their polished armor gleamed in the firelight as their spiked helmets rotated to track any potential targets of worth. Nearby another Raider disgorged Wyches. Forgoing the slave snares and chains for disembarking, the Wyches sprang from the craft even as it landed, hitting the ground hard and bounding up out of combat rolls, already sprinting pell-mell towards their intended targets. A brace of armed Hellions barely had a chance to scream as the Wyches were suddenly upon them, blades flickering in the firelight as they danced a glorious lullaby for them.

Not that the defenders were all simple meatsacks, even though they were hopelessly outclassed. Hellions rose up from the carnage on their skyboards like hornets from a disturbed nest. Their hellglaives gleamed as they swept over the decks of the enemy Raiders, hooking their large blades into soft flesh and pulling the occupants from their vehicles to send them plummeting to their deaths on the ground below. She could see Wren up there now, desperately leading a wing of The Howlers as they attempted to break a hole in the closing net of the enemy. She fondly wished the gunners firing at the whelp the best of luck.

Obessa had just managed to cut herself free of her restraint harness and pull herself gamely from the wreckage when Kyssindree arrived. One Kabalite Warrior, seeing Kyssindree as a simple lone woman, opted to spring at her, intent on pinning her to the ground for some, doubtless, inelegant pleasures. Kyssindree, calmly gutted him and kissed him farewell on his helmet as she disdainfully shoved him aside. His pathetic and unknowing sacrifice did allow Obessa to get back to her feet and see Kyssindree coming though.

“Kyss…” Obessa’s normally husky and scratchy voice was even rougher now as she coughed up some of the fumes she’d inhaled in the crash.

“Rough landing, huh?” Kyssindree hurled her dagger. Obessa barely had time to react, and Kyssindree had accurately deduced that her right leg had been injured, so though Obessa managed to twist mostly out of the way she received a painful slice across the front of her right thigh that would further hamper her movements.

“Kyss, wait, I don’t want this.” Obessa still lifted her own dueling blade to the ready though. Kyssindree snorted as she said one thing and did another.

“What was that?” Kyssindree had already drawn he matched daggers from her forearm sheaths, “all I hear is the croaking of a toad.”

Her attack came in beautifully, arcing in high with her left blade, then coming up low with the right one to catch under Obessa’s weapon as she blocked the first strike. Twisting the blade to the side Kyssindree planted a careful slice along Obessa’s forearm and dug it deep enough to sever muscle.

Obessa wasted no time, dropping her blade from the nerveless fingers of her right hand down into her left, she quickly responded with a sharp thrust to the heart that had Kyssindree dancing backward, her bare feet lightly moving over the dark stones.

“A kill thrust as your second move?”Kyssindree clucked her tongue. “How gauche.”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Obessa announced, “I…I don’t know what you’re doing here.”

“Winning.” She danced forward again, a few quick slashes had Obessa blocking wildly and then Kyssindree snapped out with a sharp leg kick to the wounded leg, causing Obessa’s right leg to buckle under her. Kyssindree sank just the tip of one of her knives into a nerve bundle on Obessa’s left shoulder as she again withdrew, raising her blades high for the cheers of a crowd that was not there.

“Listen to me, Kyss, you’re in danger here, you don’t realize how badly Douraal wants you all dead. I can get you out, I think.”

“You think?” Kyssindree laughed merrily. “Oh, Obessa, you’re not even very good at offering bribes.”

“It’s not a bribe, it’s…“

Kyssindree paused for a moment, considering things, and then it slowly fell into place for her. Oh my, how delightfully funny, the silly little thing was still besotted with her. Not, Kyssindree supposed, that one could blame Obessa. Certainly Kyssindree was, by far, the best thing that had ever been offered to the other Wych. She smirked at the thought of it.

“Obessa, it’s okay, it really is.” She palmed one of her blades as she moved forward, locking eyes with her prey. It would be so funny, so funny to see the glimmer of hope in her eyes right before they kissed, and then Kyssindree could stab her through the heart and watch her hopes leave her at the same time as her life. A more elegant death than the croaking Obessa probably deserved. “I think I understand what you mean, but I don’t see how we could possibly get out of here now.”

“Maybe my access codes? One of the Venoms that has landed or something? They did promote me to a field commander.”

Kyssindree tried hard not to sneer at the stupidity of whoever had made that particular call. She knelt down by Obessa, taking the wounded Wych’s hand in hers as she lightly kissed the fingertips. The blade in her other hand stood ready and waiting.

“I think the first thing is first, we need to get you out of this killing field.”

Obessa smiled, Kyssindree leaned forward…

The armored figure dropped down out of a passing Venom. His blade raised high and already in mid-stroke. Kyssindree pushed off with her legs, rolling backwards and coming up in a combat stance as the large sword crashed down on the ground where she had been but moments before. Even as she shot forward to attack again, figuring her opponent was wide open, she came to the grim realization of the armor he was wearing.

Incubi!

A klaive, despite its appearance, always seemed to flow like the lightest branch in the hands of any Incubi, and this one moved with the precision of a master. His parry not only blocked her right blade, but caught the left in a swordbreaker notch. A casual twist that was part of the same move to return the klaive to a ready defensive and offensive positioning close to his chest also snapped the blade of her dagger and tore it from her hand.

Kyssindree danced back again even as the blade snapped out for her throat. His footwork was amazing, never once leaving him the slightest touch overbalanced. His movements with the klaive were a marvel to behold as well. He used it as a sword, a spear, and a pole-arm, switching his grip along the multiple handles within his moves as easily as she might remember to draw breath. Every strike was an attempt to kill her, his artistry was in his motions, his goal was simple destruction, she didn’t even have time to quip at him as she spun away to avoid another deadly cut, each of his blows driving her purposefully away from Obessa.

“Wait, Zak, you don’t understand!”

Kyssindree actually allowed herself a moment to regret handicapping dim-witted Obessa now, her bungling attempts to help might have opened an exploitable hole in the Incubi’s onslaught. But, no, he was deaf to her pleas, contentedly focused on seeing his opponent dead. She took a moment to pull aside her brassiere slightly, offering him a tantalizing flash of skin, he attacked, but it was a sweeping blow at her legs, well away from the trap of being drawn in to strike at where she had revealed weakness, or even a momentary pause to appreciate the shape and firmness.

Quite insulting.

She back flipped away from him, snatching the splinter pistol from one of the fallen bodies nearby, Hellion, slave, or Kabal attacker, she couldn’t tell, nor did she care. She fired…and he actually deflected the first shot with the flat of his klaive blade. She let out a half gasp of surprise and amazement and almost lost her head to his return stroke as he again closed the distance. She backpedalled, squeezing off another shot, but now he was in tight enough to just twist his body out of the way, again lashing out with the klaive in a blow she barely deflected with her dagger.

Salvation suddenly appeared in the form of some Hellions sweeping by. One of them was foolish enough to dip low and take a slash at the Incubi from the backside as they roared overhead. The technique was crude, the blow telegraphed, its only saving grace was speed. The Incubi twisted into the blow, hooking his klaive on the hellglaive and using it to pull himself up into the air. She almost expected him to have made an error, but he shifted his grip and used the klaive to sheer off an entire span of wing from the skyboard, the massive blade cutting through the tempered metal like a razor through flesh, sheering it off clean and perfectly in a blink of the eye.

The incubi dropped to the ground lightly, easily disengaging his blade the instant he chose to, as the Hellion sang out in terror before plowing into a wall with a sickening crack that sent brain matter splattering ten yards beyond his impact point.

“Kyssindree!”

She glanced over to see Tael standing proud and strong, his signature scarf once more around his face as he gathered a resistance force to his position at the shattered entrance of his private palace headquarters.

She nodded, Tael would have an escape route, if anyone did he would, and it was foolish to stay out here with only more support coming for her deadly opponent and her lacking the best fighting tools to deal with that deadly sword. She shrugged and spared a glance towards Obessa, regretting not having had a chance to kill her properly.

“Kyss, don’t go!” Obessa reached out a bloodstained hand to her, beseeching. Kyssindree grinned at her and bowed her head slightly, before turning and running back towards Tael and the others.

Above her and behind her, the forces of Archon Douraal closed in like an inescapable net of death.

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Zehra
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Fri Aug 03 2012, 05:33

Ooh, this is so exciting, can't wait to see more!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Fri Aug 03 2012, 05:38

So the party is coming to an end, and the next Chapter is titled The Death of Tael (Part 1).
Is it a hoax, a trick, an imaginary tale?
Tune in next chapter to find out, dear viewer Wink Here's the preview for you;

Tael does die (nuff said)
Douraal's forces win.
Ben'rik is a little cowardly wretch.

ebwop: And Zehra actually ninja'd me on my preview post - egads.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Fri Aug 03 2012, 05:40

Well Zehra IS a Wych. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Fri Aug 03 2012, 23:45

Poor Jorik. In most cultures the man with the skills to fix you up would get some respect. But noooo ... Rolling Eyes

This moved really fast! The pacing was just right and the vivid sweep of the enemy into Perception's Warp was sharp and full of a sense of adrenaline. Oh and splinterfire. Lots of splinterfire.

Is it wrong that part of me wants Kyssindree to get a darklance to the head? Twisted Evil Just, you know, a little bit of me. say my right ring finger.

Quote :
Ben'rik is a little cowardly wretch.

In other news, Tau are blue, Haemonculi like pliers and Imperial Guard are always the last to know.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sat Aug 04 2012, 00:26

@Lady Malys wrote:
Is it wrong that part of me wants Kyssindree to get a darklance to the head?
That's just your habit of rooting for Wren coming out. C'mon, obviously Kyssindree is the better overall partner for Tael and Wren should learn her place.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sat Aug 04 2012, 09:41

Exciting stuff, how long must we wait for the next chapter?
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sat Aug 04 2012, 14:47

Quote :
That's just your habit of rooting for Wren coming out. C'mon, obviously Kyssindree is the better overall partner for Tael and Wren should learn her place.

Nah. Very Happy Wren isn't 'the nice one'. Any example of especially striking arrogance brings out my urge to have it slapped by reality, that's all Smile it's a testament to your powers of description. Anyway, I think Tael is calculating everything and using everybody. Fun with Wyches is merely a nice bonus.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sat Aug 04 2012, 16:13

@ftayl5 - about two weeks.

@Malys - Tael *using* people? Naw...naw, it'd never happen...

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Aug 05 2012, 14:51

Hmm... Tael's going to die. I suppose that is a great cure for his eccentricity. I wouldn't call him mad, he's too cool for that. Twisted Evil

Anyway, awesome chapter. Very well written and I am looking foward to Tael's death!

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Sep 02 2012, 20:27

Chapter 13: The Death of Tael – Part 1

Vollio decapitated the Wych with a massive sweep of his hellglaive and let out a ferocious war cry at the other Wyches that were watching the assault with some interest. Even as the last of the small wave of Wyches that had attacked fell back in disarray or died on the blades of the Hellion defenders a sweep of Venoms skimmed overhead, their splinter cannons pulsing as they sprayed the defenders down. Ben’rik frowned as he watched half a dozen more Hellions and assorted slaves go down to the attack.

Popping up from behind the crumbled pillar he was using as cover, Ben’rik snapped off a couple of quick shots with his blast pistol at one of the Venoms that had strayed too close to their position. He laughed in glee as one of his shots punched through the side armor and incinerated the pilot’s cabin. With a wailing squeal of overpowered engines the Venom tore into the ground erupting in a blast of flame that caused some of the Kabal snipers to pause in their work as they ducked their heads from flaming debris.

“We’re going to die here,” noted Vollio darkly as he dropped down behind the barricades of rubble they had arranged in front of the main entryway. He began reloading his splinter pistol as he glanced at Ben’rik, his tightly braided green hair coming loose from the cornrows on his head and tufting up in unruly disarray. One of his muscular arms was singed, the flesh flaking off in scorched patches. His left leg bore a seeping wound from some weapon, and Vollio’s only hope was that it hadn’t been poisoned.

Ben’rik felt his friend’s alarm. Most of the attendees at the party were either dead, or trapped in a desperate last stand here at the ruined palace, the only building in the entire gang hideout that had been reinforced and treated to withstand assault from concentrated dark lance fire. Even so, their casualties were mounting quickly, and Tael wasn’t even here to lead them, instead lurking around somewhere in his rear chambers…perhaps making good his own escape?

“Someone should go and find Tael,” he noted, “we can’t trust him alone.”

“Agreed,” grunted Vollio as he called for some more grenades, expecting another rush of Wyches, “but who can we spare exactly?”

“Depends who is still alive, I suppose,” chuckled Ben’rik. “Jorik! Jorik, what’s the situation on that end!” He glanced over at the garden veranda entrance that Jorik and some other gangers held. Jorik called back over the din of battle.

“Knife work here, Wych assaults. They’re chewing us up, I’m down to half my numbers and all the slave chattel are dead! No heavy weaponry has been brought to bear yet!”

“That’s something, I suppose,” mumbled Ben’rik, before shouting out again, “any sign of Wren and her flight?” Jorik shook his head. They had seen the young Hellion leading a spirited airborne resistance earlier, but the battle there had moved somewhere overhead and out of their angle of view. “Ssinssilla!” He craned his neck back to call to the upper balconies where Ssinssilla and anyone else with heavier or longer ranged weaponry had taken up post to lay down suppressing fire. It was odd to be allied with her again, considering but an hour or so ago she had been serving Tael and threatening to kill him, but such matters had faded in importance as the battle had trapped them all. “Any sign of Wren or any other skyborne Hellions?”

“No,” the she-serpent glanced down at him, a nasty scar of brackish green blood leaking down a torn hole on the side of her face. “It isss clear up here, ssshe appeared to get caught up in battle with a number of Raidersss. There were explosionsss and then no more sight of anything.”

“Probably dead then,” he shrugged. “We need to get out of here, there has to be something they’ve overlooked…”

“They’re up to something,” noted Vollio quietly as he motioned over the barricade. Ben’rik really didn’t want to look, but did anyway. A force bubble had been erected in the courtyard and a set of four Raiders had landed behind its protective sheathe. The occupants of the Raiders disembarked with stately grace. Their mirrored black armor glinting wickedly in the lights of the burning camp. Their helmets were burnished copper with golden highlights, long black plumes of hair fell from a spiked golden ring on the top of the helmets, and short red half capes hung from their left shoulders.

“Trueborn,” noted Ben’rik softly, “they think we’re weak enough to finish now.

“What are they doing?”” Vollio and Ben’rik both watched as the Trueborn calmly went along the weapon racks on their Raider, carefully selecting their weapons, priming the energy cells of their blasters, clicking wickedly sharp bayonet blades to their splinter carbines, and placing assorted grenades at the ready on belts that already hung heavy with weaponry and trophies of past conquests.

“They’re taking their time. Behind that screen they can prepare to kill us while we’re forced to watch, unable to do anything. They want us to see them prepare, and want us to understand we can’t stop them.” Ben’rik nodded in begrudging approval of the vicious fear tactic.

“Let them try, born in a tube or out of their mother’s rotten backside, they’ll die just the same to cold steel.”

Vollio was too suffused in the mindset of the slaughter to be thinking clearly, Ben’rik thought glumly, not that he’d ever been the sharpest blade in the drawer to begin with. Ben’rik had few illusions as to what a brace of forty Trueborn equipped with the finest weapons of their Kabal could accomplish versus their bedraggled survivors.

“Ben’rik!” Jorik’s voice called across the chamber, “I can see the Cult pulling back, they have at least nine Bloodbrides painting themselves up for battle over here!”

That would make short work of Jorik’s pathetic defensive line as well. Their…Ben’rik’s only hope was to figure a way out of here. It might be nice to drag along a pile of the survivors as well if he could manage it, as that would certainly make his own chances better. He paused as he considered the problem, trying hard not to think about how much longer it would take the Trueborn and Bloodbrides to decide they were ready for battle. Then inspiration suddenly struck.

“Ssinssilla! Get down here!” The she-snake would know if anyone did, she’d worked as some sort of battle engineer before she’d offended her employer and been sentenced to death prior to Tael and The Howlers hijacking the slave transport she’d been on.

“But the defense-“

“Now!”

She just sort of rolled off the balcony, dropping the dozen feet to the hard stone floor as though it meant nothing to her. She landed on bunched up coils and reared up to her full height as she stared at him through slit golden eyes. She still held her massive splinter cannon in her hands as casually as Ben’rik might cradle a rifle.

“The main drainage of the canal goes under this building before passing through the gardens and out the tunnel to the Invernill Gap, correct?”

Ssinssilla flicked out her long black tongue at him in a gesture Ben’rik had learned was similar to a nod of agreement.

“It passes under this very room, yes?”

“Indeed,” she motioned with one of her anterior arms, “right over there.”

“When they reinforced this place to withstand dark matter fire, would they have protected the floors?”

She blinked slowly as she considered this. Ben’rik bit back a snarl of annoyance at the wait. “There isss a decent chance that they did not. Almost assuredly not reinforced much from thisss particular ssside.”

“Good.” Ben’rik walked over to the spot she had indicated as he fished into his battle harness for his last two ammo nodules for his blast pistol. Ssinssilla was apparently intrigued enough to wander over with him, offering some excellent insights as they attempted to rig together an explosive blast that would do what they needed it to without making it too dangerous to activate.

“They’re coming! Look at the bloody bastards, planting flags first, pfah!”

Outside the Trueborn had indeed had slaves come up to plant down flags in front of their battle line. The flags bore marks of the Kabal of Shattered Soul, as well as individual histories of certain Trueborn, and their unit honors. Their dracon stepped forward, his armored arm raising in the air as a signal. For a moment all the assembled Kabalite forces fell dead silent, though Vollio’s defiant shouting and the jeers of some of the Hellions could still be heard.

Then the arm dropped.

The forcefield came down, and at the same instant 10 Trueborn stepped forward and dropped to one knee. They raised Shredders to their shoulders and sighted the short, snub-nosed, rifles at the upper balcony windows where the Hellion heavy guns and snipers were. With a hissing snap the Shredders fired as one, unleashing coiled masses of monofilament netting to spray through the windows. The near invisible barbs on the netting tore and ripped at the flesh of the Hellion gunners as they struggled to escape, the death throes of one tearing apart the two on either side of him, while others went into frenzied paroxysms of pain, shearing their skin off their bodies as they recoiled in helpless animal fear.

Even with this done the Trueborn moved forward. Not a wild charge, or even a brisk trot, but a steady and menacing march forward, their capes gusting lightly in the wind, their helmet’s ponytails bouncing jauntily. As one they raised their splinter carbines and began to fire controlled bursts at the Hellions, tearing apart anyone poking their heads out from behind cover.

“C’mon, c’mon you bastards, we’ll gut you and wear your innards to breakfast!” Vollio and his men began firing, desperate shots that mostly went wide. The ten Trueborn who had cast aside their Shredders now marched in the rear of the unit, preparing splinter pistols, swords, barbed gauntlets, and other tools of assault as they trailed their brethren, ready to spring to the fore once the battle was called to closer quarters.

From the side entrance Jorik guarded Ben’rik could hear the wild laughter of Bloodbrides at play, and the desperate screams of dying men and women as they were killed by slow and deliberate cuts in the most painful ways possible.

“Vollio, firing retreat, damn your eyes! Pull back to me, we’re getting out of here. Jorik, you too! Don’t try to beat Wyches in hand to hand you fool!”

He thought he had all of them listening, and even Vollio began to fall back towards him as he readied to activate his cobbled together bomb. They had a decent chance to get out of here alive if only… Then Ben’rik froze as he looked up to see Tael entering the chamber. He wore his fighting leathers and red scarf, and held a hellglaive limply in his hands as he staggered into the room. He looked around in apparent bewilderment at all of them, his steps uneven as he staggered back and forth a bit. Ben’rik blinked at the sight, and then Tael seemed to gain some focus as he staggered towards the main entrance, lifting his hellglaive high.

“Raaaaargh!” Tael shoved past Vollio as he stormed down the steps, beginning a sudden charge towards the Trueborn. “Aaaaargggggh!”

The Trueborn didn’t even break stride. Two of them snapped up their carbines, each sending a sharp burst of poison crystal shards stitching across Tael’s body. He staggered forward though, too strong or too determined to die, as he lashed out with his hellglaive at the Dracon in the lead. His hellglaive’s spiked blade sparked off an internal forcefield generator in the Dracon’s armor. The Trueborn officer responded with a brutal lashing cut of his envenomed blade, tearing open Tael’s neck. The Lord of The Howlers staggered, blood spraying from his torn flesh as he stumbled, spun back to look at all of them in confusion, no smile at all on his face, and then collapsed to the ground as the Dracon finished him with a quick kidney puncturing stab before casting him aside.

“Tael…” Ben’rik whispered in confusion and amazement. He’d never thought to see a man he’d thought of as his arch-nemesis go down like that. He… Ben’rik suddenly shook his head. It didn’t matter, what mattered was his own skin, he could consider the rest later.

With a hissing scream of unleashed energy and a flash of light that burnt his skin painfully and left him seeing ghostly afterimages burnt on his retinas even though he had covered his eyes and averted his gaze, the darklight bomb melted a perfect hole through the floor.

“Good work,” noted Ssinssilla as she considered the hole, her eyes narrowing as her tongue flickered in and out of her mouth. “River isss below, bit of a drop.”

“As though that matters,” he growled. “Anyone with half a brain, we’re getting out this way!” He shouted this at the top of his lungs before taking a huge gulp of air and diving in. He didn’t even care if Ssinssilla followed or not, much less any of the rest of them. His last glance thought he saw Jorik and some of his men fleeing towards the hole, Bloodbrides at their heels. Of Vollio all he could see was a tangled mass of bodies, the gleaming black armored shape of the Trueborn tearing through the barricades, and Hellions engaged in desperate hand to hand combat with them, hellglaives and curving daggers stabbing and tearing at mirror black Kabalite armor.

Then he smashed into the river, a jarring and painfully cold impact that almost had him cry out in pain, though he was able to resist the urge. After all, he suspected there would be a lengthy period where there would be no air for him to have as the river ran underground for a ways before coming up in the ruined gardens. He turned into the tide and began to swim along with the current as best he was able, mostly concerned with protecting himself from being battered against any underwater hazards like jagged rocks or razor sharp pieces of torn metal fencing.

As he did so he considered Tael’s death and knew something felt quite off about it. Why had he seemed so out of it, with no plan at all? And the Wych, Kyssindree, where had she gone? Surely she would have stayed with him, sought some sort of glorious final stand, or at least to go with him through some sort of escape path, surely? It made no sense. Had it all just been some insane quest for a fancy suicide? Tael didn’t strike him as the sort.

There was something he was missing.

His lungs were starting to burn from the strain of no air when he finally noticed the subtle shift of light above that suggested, perhaps, that he wasn’t in a tunnel anymore. He paddled and pushed against the current for all he was worth. The current was strong though, and his arms and legs felt as heavy as lead. He pushed and pulled and felt like he was just sinking deeper.

Such an ending he had not expected for himself. A knife in the back, certainly. Perhaps slain in some raid, that came with the job. Perhaps, he had even hoped, to become wealthy and profitable enough to retire from the risks, just to pay for whatever he needed from some palace somewhere. But to drown in a river? He struggled harder, but his chest burned and ached and he knew all he wanted to do was to open his mouth and get some air that had to be so close above and…

…and suddenly tiny hands with a steely hard grip lashed around his wrist and heaved him out of the water like some predator might do so to a fish. He regretted the thought even as he had it, for even as he reached for his blade a foot came down to stomp on his wrist, a knee dropped heavily on his chest, and, in the darkness above him, all Ben’rik’s confused vision could make out was some gleaming sharp teeth.

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

Earlier.


“How long do you expect Ben’rik and Vollio to hold off the assault without us?” Kyssindree leaned herself up in the doorway to Tael’s room as she began strapping on the rest of her weapons, foolishly left here when she’d gone out to the party. She’d been too confident in herself, she supposed, but if she’d had some grenades or a few extra knives on her, she could have shown that Incubi a thing or two…

“I don’t expect them to last long, but you or I being there wouldn’t make much difference, would it?”

“Well…” Kyssindree grinned, “it would make a difference, though maybe not enough of one, I’ll admit.” She frowned as he knelt down and began fussing with the casket he’d bought from the Little Tailor. “You…do have a plan for this, don’t you?”

“Of course.” Tael smiled at her before turning his attention back to the casket. “I’m the one who told Archon Douraal and his Kabal where to find us.”

“The touts and the data crystals,” she nodded in awareness if not understanding. “But, I don’t get it, why would you want to toss away everything you’ve built here?”

“Because it’s small and nothing. Because it took no effort to build. Because it’s all meaningless to what I really want.” Tael paused as he looked at her again. “Really, do I look like someone who could be content leading a rabble like this for the rest of my days? If you think I am then you were a great fool to cast in your lot with me.”

Kyssindree laughed and tutted her hand in apology. “Okay, yes, I didn’t think it was.” She paused as she heard the pitch of the sounds of battle shift. “I just didn’t expect you to take separating yourself from the gang to such an…extreme?” She shrugged. “It sounds like the Kabal and Cult are getting ready for a final push back there,” she motioned along the hallway that lead out to where Ben’rik and the rest of the trapped Hellions fought for their lives, “the pathetic wretches barely held any time at all.”

“I’d say it is an embarrassment to whoever is leading the assault, they should have been quicker. Still, I’m being a bit lax myself, though,” he glanced up and smirked at her, “I have more pleasing distractions than just being bad at my job.”

“Flirt,” she winked, “we can discuss distractions once you get me out of here.”

“Fair enough, but first I have to see to my death.” Tael began inputting a code into the casket as Kyssindree wandered closer, curious what he could mean by that. The casket hissed open.

“Oh.” Kyssindree paused.

“Not bad, if I do say so myself,” agreed Tael. He reached into the casket and pulled out another Tael. He was nude and clearly coming out of a deep cryo-sleep, but was otherwise exactly like her Tael. Kyssindree blinked in bewilderment. “Help me dress him.”

“If I’d known you had this lying around we could have had a much more interesting evening.” She smirked as she pulled some Hellion fighting leathers onto the slowly awakening Tael.

“He was a bit expensive to use just for that, though I guess since I’m going to break my toys anyway I shouldn’t have worried about you damaging it lightly. Would you mistake him for me?”

“Not bad, he looks just like you.” She stepped back to consider the two. “You’ve got your scarf though, you’re almost never without it.”

“An excellent point.” Tael shucked it off and wrapped it quickly around his copy’s neck. “Could you grab me that combat drug dispenser on the shelf, please?” Picking it up she noted the mixture was fairly potent, sure to turn anyone into a near berserker, though with little concern for their own safety anymore since they’d be as high as a razorwing. She handed it over to him as he pumped a full three doses into the other Tael. The duplicate’s eyes began to flutter open as he came to full wakefulness. Tael tossed her back the dispenser as he heaved up the duplicate, grabbing up a hellglaive and pressing it into his hands.

“You’re sending…that…out there?”

“I can’t think of a better way to assure Douraal I’m dead,” he noted as he prodded the armed duplicate of himself down the passage. The stumbling Tael seemed to become more focused on moving under his own power as the drugs began to take effect, he gripped his hellglaive and staggered onward as her Tael turned back and offered his smile to her.

“Now what,” she demanded, still not quite sure what was going on, but bemused enough by it that she wasn’t worrying.

“I have an escape passage, of course…or rather the previous owners here did and Wren and I spent some time getting the conveyor back into working order.”

“Well then, I’m bored, let’s go.”

He laughed as he swept her up into his arms, catching her mouth in a quick kiss, before dropping her down again. He tossed a plasma charge into the cryo casket as he led her to the back of the room and pressed his hand against part of the wall that looked indistinguishable from the rest of the polished glass smooth stone. With a pneumatic hiss a door opened next to his hand, its stairs winding downward.

They walked down into the tunnel and through a few winding stairwells before arriving at a small conveyance belt that, though it had a grating noise, like grinding gears, propelled them along at a good pace through ancient tunnels long thought buried. Kyssindree leaned up against him, enjoying his warmth in the chill passageway.

They whiled away some time together with quiet teasing and a few glances. She was happy enough with her find in him. He was good to look upon, and clever enough to be profitable for her to attach herself to. Indeed, she was enjoying her days quite a bit more now then she had for some time.

“So what’s next?”

“Next is the final move, my proper vengeance and a return to where I belong.”

“Return to where you belong,” she breathed thoughtfully, and his arm draped across her shoulders as they arrived at the exit tunnel and slipped out into a small storage room somewhere.

“A return for you, as well, both of us are going to be back where we belong soon enough.” He kissed at her hair and then stiffened. Kyssindree spotted what he saw quickly enough as well, a few wet splotches on the floor. She followed the wet footprints to the pile of boxes they led to. Sitting upon them was Ben’rik, dripping wet, and with an expressionless and stony look on his face.

“Ben’rik?” Even Tael couldn’t help but sound surprised.

“And company,” intoned Ben’rik grimly. From the shadows around them came almost a dozen of The Howlers, most splattered with blood or nursing a few wounds. All of them holding weapons and pointing them quite certainly at Kyssindree and Tael.

“I am pleased to see your escape went so well-“

“Ben’rik held up his hand to stop Tael speaking. “Not that well, only Jorik, Ssinssilla and myself got out of the palace…alive. The others escaped on their boards, with her,” Ben’rik jerked his thumb to the corner. Tael and Kyssindree turned to see the slim shape stepping out of the shadows. Wren, splattered in blood and dirt, breathing sharply, her body rigid with tension, and her eyes gleaming with a feral intensity as she looked at them.

“After she fished me out of the river and I told her how I’d seen you die but hadn’t seen the Wych and figured she’d done you for…well, Wren was pretty sure how Kyssindree would make good her escape. Kind of talked us into coming out here to…y’know, make sure she got what she deserved out of the affair. Didn’t expect to find you here too though…”

Tael smiled. “Wren, you I am quite pleased to see.” She frowned at him, clearly uncertain at these words. “Would you like to hear what comes next?”

“What comes next?” Ben’rik spat, “what are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about my plan.”

“You can’t seriously expect me to believe you planned all that?”

Tael sighed as he looked at Ben’rik like a parent would to a child who wasn’t quite measuring up. “Do you really think it was random chance I’d arranged to buy a clone of myself only a day before the Kabal attacked us?” Ben’rik made as though to respond, but then his face fell slack as a puzzled look spread over it. All around her Kyssindree could see the other Howlers pausing as well. It was amazing to watch, Tael was actually talking his way out of this, even after almost killing them all.

“You’re faking your death with a clone?”

“Someone like Douraal won’t be likely to let his guard down even an inch unless he’s sure the danger to him is done with.” Tael smiled. “He’s now going to be oh so very certain that I’m gone, isn’t he? So what will happen next?”

“He’ll let his guard down I suppose,” snarled Ben’rik, “as though it matters, even if he relaxes and goes to visit a coastal planet and have a week long party where everyone is drunk and drugged at all times, it will still be a Kabal versus the odd dozen of us.”

“Oh, oh Ben’rik, I thought you’d understand the rules of vengeance.” Tael smiled wider, and Kyssindree knew that he had them all under that spell of his. That odd mix of confusion as to what he meant combined with certainty that he would lead you to some great prize in the end. A spell that would have you follow him through anything. “Who ever said anything about it just being us? Come, walk with me.”

He placed one of his arms around Kyssindree’s waist and brushed past Wren to clasp another arm on Ben’rik’s shoulder.
“I think it’s time I explained to you how I’m going to make you the richest Hellion this side of the Invernill Gap.”

===============
===============

As promised, Tael died - see, total truth Wink
Next time we'll get to see an alliance formed, a brief camea from the most famous of all Hellions, and Archon Douraal being a skeevy and unpleasant bastich.
Also, perhaps, things finally start looking up for Wren...?

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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Sep 02 2012, 21:21

Excellent, my day just got made! Very Happy Another fantastic chapter. The quiet bets I'd made with myself came true, but they weren't glaringly obvious or jarring (so I got to feel like a clever clogs rather than bored Wink )

Quote :
It might be nice to drag along a pile of the survivors as well if he could manage it, as that would certainly make his own chances better.

Not only is this typical Ben'rik, I think it's one way DE society manages to hold together even though most people are worshipping at the altar of the Self at all times Very Happy I'm enjoying this story as much as I did at the start so I will be waiting for more Smile

On a side note I was happy Jorik survived, for now anyway. I'm a sentimental old Archon.

EDIT: I especially appreciated the studied menace of the Trueborn - the personal histories of each combatant was a nice touch. The sheer epic level arrogance is stunning, the fear engendered by such perfect confidence really shines through.

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Sep 02 2012, 21:34

Nice job!
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Thor665
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Mon Sep 03 2012, 01:12

@Lady Malys wrote:
II especially appreciated the studied menace of the Trueborn - the personal histories of each combatant was a nice touch. The sheer epic level arrogance is stunning, the fear engendered by such perfect confidence really shines through.
It was a fun bit to write as well - the basic premise was "what would be the most arrogant way to show off superiority on a battlefield?" The basic answer was 'remove some of the supposed advantages of an attack' I opted to remove from the Trueborn a need for speed or surprise, and simply left them overwhelming force. That allowed them to just exude arrogance in the way I wished and apparently it came across as nicely as I hoped.

Ben'rik has become one of my favorite characters to write - he has no scruples at all...and is quite comfortable with that situation.

@Zehra - thank you!

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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Sep 16 2012, 04:43

Chapter 14: The Alliance

Archon Douraal sat in thought as he considered the decapitated head held on the silvered platter in front of him. His fingers were hooked in front of his face, his lips pursed as he lightly pressed some of the points of his spiked gauntlets against them. Obessa and Zak had been under explicit orders to bring him this prize immediately upon reporting of the death of the Hellion leader. Zak knelt in front of Douraal, holding up the platter with the severed head upon it. Obessa waited behind him, her right arm in a sling, her ribs bandaged, her leg barely supporting her weight despite the dermal regeneration she’d already received on the battlefield.

“You looked behind his left ear?” Douraal’s voice was almost a hissed whisper. But, in the empty chambers it carried well enough. He’d ordered a private audience with them, seeming to desire no regular members of his court to be here for this moment of triumph.

“I did, lord,” Zak bowed his head slightly.

“And?” Douraal waved his hand expectantly and impatiently for the answer.

“As you indicated, there was a marking there, the number six. Nothing more.”

“Excellent,” a tight lipped smile and a small clap of his hands together betrayed the bubbling joy in the Archon’s heart. “Excellent…” His eyes narrowed as he considered the decapitated head for a moment. “Did he die…well?”

“He charged into your Trueborn as they made the final assault, most of his followers seemed willing to take part in the same last ditch onslaught,” Obessa noted. Douraal’s smile flickered a bit, but then he shrugged as he sat back in his throne.

“I had hoped for…more.” He waved his hand over a small jewel set in the arm of his throne and suddenly Zak’s five Incubi companions entered the chamber. “You will cover the head and see to it that it is incinerated in the fission reactors. You will save the scarf for my personal trophy rack.” Zak bowed his head, draping a black silk cloth over the trophy as he and the other Incubi marched out. “If anyone else sees what is under the cloth, deal with them appropriately.”

Zak paused to glance back at Douraal and offer another bow, though his gaze shifted to Obessa with a slight cock of his head before he turned away to depart. She almost found herself smirking, as she noted that, as Zak had said, Archons sometimes did use odd language when ordering someone killed.

As the Incubi left Douraal summoned the rest of his court back into the room, the various sycophants, nobles, slaves, and playthings taking up their expected locations. The more valuable, or amusing, ones earned places close to the throne, the lesser the rank, the further from the throne they were allowed to be. A simple ordering of rank, as well as allowing Douraal to keep an eye on his most potent allies, who were therefore also his most potent potential foes.

Obessa moved to step away, but a slightly raised finger from Douraal halted her motion.

“There will be a fete, I desire a party to celebrate my victory.” He glanced at the elegant Lhamaean courtesan who stood next to him. “A ball, I believe, it has been a while since I had a rejuvenation ball, has I not?”

“It has, my lord,” The Lhamaean dipped her head in agreement.

“I trust the fine details to you.” The Lhamaean dipped her head again as she turned and walked off, her flowing dress giving her the appearance of floating delicately across the floor as she departed. Douraal then glanced at his spymaster, the male, or so Obessa understood his gender to be, was hard to make out wreathed in his shadowy forcefield that seemed to flicker and pulse, leaving his outline blurry and unsure. “There will be a power vacuum in the markets that The Howlers once held dominion over. It would benefit my…situation with House Maerett if the chattel were a bit more understanding of my position.”

“I shall arrange for covert funding of the three most likely winners of the coming gang struggles,” the spymaster’s voice was a warbled hiss.” He stepped backwards into the crowd, seeming to be swallowed up almost instantly as he slipped from the room.

Archon Douraal then glanced down at one of his attendant slaves. He motioned at Obessa. “Fetch her collar for me,” he looked up with a wintery smile, “I feel like a private celebration that won’t wait for the organization of the ball.”

“My lord,” Obessa bowed stiffly, wincing as her leg complained about the move, as the slave scurried off, “with my injuries I suspect it is best that I depart for the attention of the physicians immediately, otherwise I will be in too much pain to enjoy your attentions.”

“I know,” Douraal’s expression didn’t shift, “I quite look forward to it.”

The other members of the court tittered in merriment at his jest. Obessa remained silent.

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

The place was known as The Aerie.

Officially.

It was known by many other names to other people. The Bloody Mountain. The Tower of Sorrow. The Nest of Murder. Ben’rik had often thought of it simply as one thing, a place he had no intention of ever being caught near.

Yet here he was, slowly gliding towards it on his skyboard. It was a gleaming gray spire of crystal that rose up from the skyline of Commoragh like a bladed knife. Its tip was stained rusty crimson, as though from dried blood and, Ben’rik suspected as he glanced at the grisly trophies adorning its sides from the hundreds of hooks and chains decorating it’s spire, it most likely was.

They were all around him now, flitting around like murderous birds of prey as they considered his approach. The pathetic flag of truce he bore as well as his hands carrying a large case marked with the symbol for tribute were probably the only things keeping him alive.

He slowly guided his skyboard up into one of the awning entrances on the side of the spire. No stairs, or elevated lifts, or ladders allowed entry to this building. Not one of the openings was large enough for anything but the smallest of flying vehicles to allow access to it. The masters of this tower didn’t require such things.

Ben’rik coasted forward slowly. The entryway led into a cavernous chamber whose vaulted ceiling was sheathed in shadow. The floor was speckled with splatters of blood, but otherwise the chamber was empty save a sleek and polished wooden desk at the far end of the hall. Standing by it, at sharp attention, was a female slave. She was hooved and had bluish-gray skin and an oddly flat face, and wore only a loose chiffon tunic. The slave bowed deeply to him as he glided forward, conscious not to step off his board in case he had to make a quick escape.

“Greetings noble sir,” the slave lifted her head to regard him with her wide eyes. “How may I serve you?”

“I have come under a flag of negotiation to speak to Glyvius, Master of The Aerie. I bear gifts and an offer of amazing profit for him.”

Her face screwed up slightly in thought. “You are not here to hire a messenger or arrange for a mercenary contract?”

“No.”

“Then your business here is done.” She bowed again.

“Fine.” Ben’rik happily spun his board around and prepared to accelerate out. Whatever he’d agreed to with Tael, he most assuredly wasn’t going to risk spending any more time here than he absolutely needed to. Even as he did though, two figures dropped down from the cavernous ceiling above. Though shaped like Eldar, massive bat-like wings unfurled from their backs to bar his escape. Their faces were hidden behind metal masks shaped like great birds of prey, their claw-like hands holding ancient, rune-inscribed, rifles which they pointed at his chest as they landed.

Scourges, the winged messengers of the Kabal lords. Mercenaries for hire. Sworn enemies of the Hellions and other ‘lesser’ beings who chose to pass through the skies of Commoragh, which the Scourges claimed as their domain.

“What is your offer?” The voice echoed down to him from above and Ben’rik craned his head back to look at the ceiling. What he saw made his blood run cold. Dozens, no hundreds of Scourges lurked in the shadows, perched upon rafters or even hanging upside down from support bars set into the high ceiling of the tower. Their armor shone with muted flashes of gold and silver, dark wings rustled softly, and glittering eyes regarded him from their golden helmets.

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

The Muses’ Domain was a public park that had been commissioned by some long forgotten Archon as part of his private estate, most recognized by the hundred foot high, bronze and obsidian, statues representing each of the Dark Muses. An unusual warping of the webway had sucked the Archon’s household out of existence in what had either been a stroke of remarkably poor luck or a rather brilliant undertaking of one of his rivals, but had left the park untouched and safely anchored in the middle of a market district. The legacy of his park remained, though as the city expanded the value of the real estate in this sector of the city waned until it became a place that few would walk without extensive protection from the gangs, predators, and other threats of the city.

“I will do the talking, all I need you to do is sit there and look beautiful and deadly.”

“You say that as though it’s possible for me to look any other way,” Kyssindree noted dryly.

The two of them floated in the shadows of the giant bronze statues that decorated the park. Their skyboards humming under their feet. The dark black vines that crawled across the statues and curled among the iron fencing that kept the pathways below relatively clear emitted a dim lavender luminescence that cast both their faces in soft light. Kyssindree winked at him and smirked as she saw the small smile trace his lips. Then both of them paused as they heard the first sound of approaching skyboards, their audience was about to begin.

Kyssindree had paid careful attention to everything that Tael had told her about these men and women, and as they approached she played a game with herself to see if she was identifying them correctly. The severe woman with the scars on her face and the gleaming red skyboard had to be Scarlet Silviir. Nearby, his companions and himself all dressed in thick furs and clanking chains, was the bestial shape of Klortryl, and his Dog Warriors. They howled as they came spiraling in, eager and laughing. Wearing black hooded robes, and arriving as one, the identical triplet leaders of The Silent Scalpel stood out, their arms crossed across their chests, their faces hidden in shadows. Glim-res, the Blade arrived next, his signature double-sword strapped across his back, his gleaming green war paint outlining deadly cold eyes. Marniyus Des’ot, and his collection of scalps, was another easy one to spot, the wisping trophies hanging off the edges of his custom skyboard.

But it was the last to arrive that really caught her eyes. His skyboard wreathed in preternatural shadows that seemed to half cloak and hide him from view as he slowly glided into the park. A hellglaive was strapped to his back, a bloodstained leather coat hung off his shoulders, though it was cut away from his muscular arms. Dozens of odd trinkets and trophies hung from the coat as well as the board. The man stood with a proud bearing that was, perhaps, only equaled by Tael’s.

“Lord Hellion, Baron Sathonyx.” Tael bowed deeply, “you honor me with your presence.”

“You concern me with yours,” offered Sathonyx softly. He spoke in a hoarse whisper. He motioned to Glim-res, the Blade.

“I have been selected to speak for the gangs you have wronged.” Glim-res rose his skyboard higher, bringing himself closer to Tael. “I was chosen because they do not expect me to be able to be bought by you and,” he paused to eye Tael carefully, “considering I lost a lieutenant at your party as well, I should be able to clearly describe what you did.”

Kyssindree smirked at him, curious if his reputation with the sword on his back was well earned. He was attractive enough, that he might be fun to spar with or kill.

“His crimes are as such,” announced Glim-res to the other Hellion leaders, though he did pause and swallow slightly as his eyes met Kyssindree’s and flickered over her figure. “Under the false pretense of having a party and providing them with vast presents, Tael and The Howlers lured thirty-eight gang representatives to his lair where he arranged to have a Kabal attack and butcher them all. The gangs have the remains of most of their members, and the evidence of the attack is well proven, indeed, many here lost representatives as well. The only question before this council is to decide to which gangs The Howlers owe reparations, and in what manner they should be paid.”

Glim-res sneered as he turned to regard Tael again, “most of the gangs have expressed desire for a public execution by slow and painful steps as acceptable to them in lieu of the loss of resources.”

Sathonyx nodded, but said nothing. As Kyssindree understood it, or at least as Tael had said, Sathonyx was the only member of the gathering they would need to concern themselves with. Though it was formed of many notable Hellion leaders, it was only Sathonyx who stood as ruler here.

“We have been chosen to speak as Tael’s representative,” announced one of the triplets of the Silent Scalpel. The three of them rose up to join the circle with Tael, Kyssindree, and Glim-res. All three bowed, as one, to Sathonyx, “we were chosen due to our distant location from the territories, and thus a rather removed view of the incident.”

“Do you deny that you invited almost forty gangs to your lair,” asked one of the triplets, “to what ended up being a massacre?”

“No.” Tael shrugged.

“Do you deny,” said another, “that you lured them there with false promises of wealth to be gained?”

“Of course.”

“And,” finished the third, “do you wish to suggest your own means of reparation that do not involve your death?”

“Assuredly.”

“We would wish to hear his comments,” offered the three in unison. Tael had done something to arrange their, modest, support, though he hadn’t shared the cost with Kyssindree. Still, having his representative cede the floor to him and granting him leave to speak was all the support he had expected to need.

Sathonyx nodded again, a mild look of curiosity on his face.

“I do not deny the issue of the deaths,” began Tael, “to do so would be foolish, I have enough of my own dead to easily prove the attack happened. However, these were gang members full grown, not children. They were sent by their own leaders, not silly and inept clods. If my plan was indeed so dire, then I would suggest it is their own fault for not being able to avoid it.”

There were some mumbled grumblings from some of the Hellions present.

“As to the matter of reparations. To hell with them, and to hell with all of you. Even if the Kabal of Shattered Soul hadn’t ransacked my gang’s reserves it is no business of mine to make life easier for a bunch of fools who couldn’t protect their own and wish to go crying to a group like this, begging like mon’keigh, for something they are incapable of taking from me.”

Kyssindree grinned at these words, enjoying the looks of outrage on some of the other Hellion’s faces. Her hand slipped down her to rest on her hip, a bit closer to one of her throwing blades, just in case any of the Hellions proved to have the mettle to actually take real offense.

“As to making amends, I will at least agree that I owe them something, and that is a chance for the opportunity I was going to give them all at the party. The offer will still hold, and there will be plunder enough for all, enough to sweep away the, I’m certain, deep cost of those highly valuable members who died under the Kabal’s guns.”

It was clear that no self-respecting gang leader would have sent anyone in their organization they trusted or needed too much. But it was equally clear that there had been a painful loss of face that they were trying to recover by making one person responsible and to pay for the crime.

“What are you talking about,” snarled Glim-res.

“A raid, one of the largest raids by Hellions ever to be undertaken, we’re going to strike at the Kabal of Shattered Soul itself, reclaim our treasures from them, and take whatever else we care to before it is all over.”

At first there was silence, and then a bit of nervous laughter.

“What sort of idiots do you take us for?” Kyssindree fought the urge to shout out an answer to Glim-res’ question. “You get some of us murdered, and then you expect us to serve as your foot soldiers in some idiot’s mission of a raid?”

“No,” Tael smiled his Tael smile, certain he had them now, “what I expect is you not to be dumb enough to avoid the chance I’m giving you. The raid will happen regardless of whether you come or not.”

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

“A raid on Shattered Soul, right into the House of Douraal?”

The Scourges had him suspended in chains now, four of them holding a chain, each chain attached to either one of his ankles or wrists, their wings flapping as they held him aloft, spread-eagled like a hapless toy. They’d come out onto the roof of The Aerie, dangling him over a precipitous drop of thousands of feet down into the ports far below. The bloodstained spikes nearby were decorated with the gruesome remains of the last few fools who had chosen to barter poorly with the Scourges. Ben’rik tried not to look at them.

“That is what the missive says, is it not?” Ben’rik groaned slightly as the pressure from the chains increased.

“Why should we help with this?” The Scourge who Ben’rik had learned was Glyvius, Master of the Aerie, swept past him, leathery wings snapping through the air. Glyvius wore no helmet, but his distended head and the pinions growing from his scalp gave him an eerily bird-like appearance even without his mask. “The Kabals pay us as messengers and soldiers, we would bite the hand that feeds us.”

“You want me to believe that one Kabal is the sole source of your income?” Ben’rik smirked, “look, the deal is simple. We’re paying you to be running messages far away from their tower on the day of the attack, and if you are interested enough we’ll also allow you to partake in the raid.”

“An attack spearheaded by almost all of the great Hellion gangs?”

“Of course,” Ben’rik spoke through gritted teeth,” you wouldn’t expect anyone to be able to pull this off without an army at their back, would you?”

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

“The Scourges of The Aerie fight with you?” Glim-res goggled in surprise. “that is unlikely.”

“See it as you will,” offered Tael with another shrug, “and they are hardly the only allies we will have. Certainly you don’t expect me to undertake an offer like this if I don’t have an army at my back, do you?”

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


“That’s twenty who are in, and twelve who aren’t.” Jorik and Ssinssilla left the gang’s hideout, Jorik making another note on his datacrystal reader. Yet another of the small and desperate gangs that occupied the docks of Lower Commoragh had pledged to help the raid in exchange for their share of the bounty and pillage. Dealing with such low class gutter-trash was disgusting enough, but beseeching them for help pleased Jorik not at all. “I don’t like this though, we’re having to tell them just a little too much to get the interested, and then if they don’t join…what then?”

“There isn’t enough for them to have any info worth ssselling, that’sss the important part,” noted Ssinssilla with a shrug. “Even you and I don’t know quite enough to make it worth ssselling.”

“Of course not,” he chuckled, “if we did we would go and sell it, wouldn’t we?”

The Sslyth flicked out her black tongue thoughtfully, but offered no further opinions on the matter. Jorik, meanwhile, mounted back up onto his skyboard.

“I can only hope the others were half as successful as we were with all the wretched brutes Tael wanted us to proposition. And if he and Kyssindree fail to bring in the Hellions, like we promised all of these fools…”

“You have doubtsss?”

“Always, that’s why I’m still alive.”

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

“You want us to believe you have a force numbering in the hundreds, not counting your own gang?” How were you able to get all of these groups to agree to serve you?” Glim-ress was too dim-witted to realize that he was killing his case in small steps, thought Kyssindree. The more Tael was allowed to speak, the better he could weave that blindingly wonderful spell of confidence and word-play.

“Because I’m not as disliked as you are,” He smiled at the soft chuckling from the other Hellion Lords. Kyssindree noted that Baron Sathonyx hadn’t even smiled. “It’s quite simple, really, the Archon is old, weak, and past his prime by a few centuries. Also, I have loyal lieutenants whom I can trust to do exactly as I ask of them.”

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

“Kill Tael? You think it would serve you better to kill Tael then to raid Douraal? That’s fine with me!” Ben’rik laughed. “Really now, you can track him down and slowly kill him by peeling his skin off with a rusty spoon for all I care. I was just told to make you the offer. If you think it’s too stupid to even consider it and would rather hunt Tael down and try to drag him in for a reward, then I am happy to draw you a map.”

Glyvius swept down to land on a spur of metal near Ben’rik’s head. Taloned feet gripping at the bloodstained foothold as he leaned down to eye Ben’rik carefully.

“I know about you, Ben’rik, we know all about the Hellion gangs in our skies. You do not like Tael, you do not like him at all.”

“Your spies do you a justice by their accurate information,” Ben’rik grinned.

“Why would you, a man who hates him, risk your life in coming here, to a people who hate you, to undertake a plan that you doubt will work?”

“That…” Ben’rik smirked through another wince of pain from the hauling chains, “is why Tael said I had to be the one to come and talk to you, because he knew you’d wonder that yourself.”

Glyvius motioned to his fellow Scourges, and they eased up on the chains, lowering Ben’rik to the balcony edge Ben’rik was perching by.

“The plan has a chance of working?”

“Well,” Ben’rik massaged his sore wrists, “let’s just say, it has more chance of working than one would tend to expect.”

“Talk, I want to hear the whole offer.”

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

“Enough talk.”

A hand was held up, and the Hellion Lords fell silent. Baron Sathonyx motioned to Tael and Kyssindree as he rose on his skyboard high over the heads of the other Hellions. With a glance at Tael for reassurance, Kyssindree followed him as they both pursued the Baron.

“You’re going to win them over,” noted Sathonyx to Tael as they arrived. His back was to them as he admired the huge carved face of the statue they waited by, Villeth, the Muse of extreme arrogance. Kyssindree suppressed an amused laugh, Sathonyx had chosen his meeting point well. If Tael was amused, he did not show it.

“I do expect the allure of wealth will do that.”

“The plan will work?”

“I will arrange for the fission generators to fail moments before the attack is scheduled to begin.” Tael smiled. “With limited automated emplacements and no forcefields or blast doors to hold them off…I suspect the House of Douraal shall prove a very ripe fruit indeed.”

“You walk a very dangerous path,” noted Sathonyx slowly. He turned around, his eerie eyes seeming to pierce deep into Tael and Kyssindree was left with an uneasy sensation on her spine. “I look at you and I see both an Archon and a dead man, why is that?”

“Perhaps because my fate is mine to choose,” offered Tael with a smirk.

“Perhaps…perhaps…” Sathonyx turned away again to regard the statue. “Be mindful though, it is a delicate line between being ready for anything…and thinking you’re ready for anything.” He waved his hand at them. “The trial is over, you may go and make what alliances you will. I shall not accompany you though, I foresee…difficulties.”

“As you will, lord,” Tael bowed deeply. “And let me assure you, I really have thought of and predicted everything.” He smiled at Kyssindree, a beaming smile much larger than his usual, as he turned and returned to the other Hellion Lords.

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


Wren had been given a list of groups to go and talk to. Odd little gangs of cutthroats and murderers. Opportunistic thieving groups, and black market press gangs. Tael had even joked, or so she hoped, that she might want to go find some Mandrakes to invite.

Kyssindree had been brought along to negotiate with the Lord Hellion himself.

She had returned to Perception’s Warp instead. She slowly walked around her old home, not even sure why she was there or what she was looking for. There had been a time that it had been good here. She had been…happy. But that wasn’t what it was like anymore.

Her wandering bare feet were leading her to the site of the last stand, Tael’s headquarters building. The blasted out husk of a palace was even more in shambles now. She made her way up the stairs slowly, the pungent aroma of smoke and the acrid stink of burnt ozone in the air. Underneath it all was an unmistakable scent, the coppery tang of blood.

Most of the Hellions had been left where they’d fallen. A few had been butchered for trophies, but, with a grim realization, Wren suspected not many of the Kabal or Cult looked upon this battle as one particularly full of honor or glory. Just a butchery of something they considered beneath them. Probably some of the Hellions had been carted off in chains, to be taught their place in the arenas, pleasure pits, and torture abattoirs of their captors.

A small glimpse of fluttering green caught her attention and Wren scrambled up the bloodstained steps. She eyed the upper windows of the shattered pleasure palace carefully, but they were still sopped in drying streaks of blood, and the masses of red-tinged, barbed, monofilament wire still caked them heavily.

It was Vollio. The Hellion lay sprawled on the steps, a festering and rotting wound from some blade gouged across his belly in a great swoop.

She’d been quite certain that he was dead, after all, he’d been at the forefront of the defense and hadn’t been the type to run from a battle. Still, she’d held out some vague hope. He’d been with the gang as long as she could remember, he’d been the one to teach her how to ride a skyboard, he’d been her Helliarch on her first raid.

Now he was gone.

“I’ve been waiting for you, little sister.”

The voice was hoarse and rasping. Wren spun around in the direction of it, her bird squawking in outrage at the sudden movement and popping into the air from her shoulder. Not many things managed to sneak up on Wren, and the voice had sounded eerily close.

To’kar stood at the base of the steps. Three large hunting animals with quill covered tails and leathery purple hides rested around his feet as if they’d been there for hours as opposed to seconds. He still wore his Kroot mask, heavy and bristling fur robes hanging by chains on his shoulders. Her bird cawed in greeting as it spun through the air, circling around him and landing on one outstretched arm, claws digging hard into the scar-coated and tough skin there.

Wren let out a slight grunt of annoyance at this sight, and her bird, chagrined, quickly took off again to return to its spot on her shoulder. To’kar laughed uproariously at this.

“Ah, little sister, you are so good yet, and you don’t even realize it.” He gestured to one of the dead bodies nearby that his escort of purple beasts was currently starting to snuffle around as they contemplated eating it. “When I heard of this raid I grew concerned for what had happed to my little Hellion friends.”

Wren nodded, Tael had promised To’kar a Sigilian Thrash Snail when they had last parted company.

“No.” To’kar’s whispered voice carried effortlessly to her ears, his eyes gleaming with a feverish intensity from inside his leather mask. “I was worried I had lost you, little sister. I was pleased when I could find no scent of your death here when I investigated.”

Wren frowned in confusion at that one. She understood that To’kar had been kind enough to her, many males were, but despite the rather nice gift of the bird it seemed strange for him to be so focused on her.

“You smell of troubles,” noted To’kar as he walked up the steps towards her, his eyes never leaving hers. “You did more than just survive the dream haunt, you succeeded. You have passed the first blooding of the Lodge, and, if your relationship with your pet is any indication, you’re well on your way to passing the second.”

As he came a bit too close she took a cautious step backwards. He immediately paused, his eyes still focused on her. His hoarse whisper seemed to have become a deeper, more soothing, and strong voice as he spoke.

“You have in you to be more than a simple Hellion castoff. I’m offering you a place in the Lodge, with me. If you come with me you will be given a new home, new packmates to hunt with, and a new purpose. You know that you have never belonged with the others, little sister, you know in your heart that you have always hunted, thought, felt…differently. I am offering you a place you can belong properly.”

He took another step closer, and this time Wren didn’t step back.

===============
===============
===============

A little update before I disappear for a week and some change. It's a short one, but has some important elements as Tael is drawing together a new and better power base for his final push against Douraal, but will it be enough?

Next chapter;

Obessa vs. Zak (or Obessa flirts with Zak - hard to tell the difference maybe?)
plus
Wren and Ben'rik negotiate a fair exchange of goods.

Still looking (mostly) to be on track to finish this thing with regular updates here on out. I'm curently in Chapter 18, and if I am not totally insane then the story really should be wrapping up in about 2-3 more chapters. Huzzah!

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Cavash
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Sep 16 2012, 13:18

Words cannot describe how much I am enjoying this! I guess I can try, however, with a Haemonculus' sewn together medley of descriptive words: it is awesplediderific!

I enjoyed the description of the Scourges dangling upside down in the Aerie and I am certainly looking forward to more. Smile

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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Sun Sep 16 2012, 20:36

Come and raid Archon Douraal's kabal! All the cool kids are doing it ...

Scourges! Very Happy

Quote :
What he saw made his blood run cold. Dozens, no hundreds of Scourges lurked in the shadows, perched upon rafters or even hanging upside down from support bars set into the high ceiling of the tower.

Every good horror film has a moment like this. I could swear music played in my head when I read this. (You know the one ... dark room ... camera pans up ... <horror music>). It was atmospheric and reminded me how apart the Scourges are from other Dark Eldar.

Another most enjoyable update, one that has taught me two things:

- As long as there are disinterested Incubi, there will be Wyches who want to disprove that.

- Baron Sathonyx knows.

Speaking of the Baron, you gave him an interesting and thoughtful performance Smile And yes all right, I'm pleased to see some possible better options for Wren, I'll admit it Very Happy

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sammun
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PostSubject: Re: Trueborn - completed   Tue Sep 18 2012, 03:36

Brilliant work mate, had me on the edge of my seat with every word. Can't wait for the next update!
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