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SweaterKittens
Hellion
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PostSubject: Retriever   Fri Mar 13 2015, 05:46

"Dominus?"

Helikhr was stirred from his reverie by a feminine voice to his side. His eyes were still pressed to the binoculars, focused on the redoubt in the distance but staring right through it. No matter what perspective he viewed it from, there was no way its defenses could be overcome. It was impermeable. The proof lay slightly closer to him, between the ridge he was crouched on and the fort itself. Several raiders painted in a lesser Kabal's colors, now burning wrecks. Their Kabilites were strewn about unceremoniously, victims of the fort's impressive defensive batteries. They had gotten bold and stupid, but Helikhr couldn't blame them. Time was running out.

"...Dominus?" The voice spoke again. He turned to see one of his fellow Reavers, crouched next to him, her long ponytail of bright red hair spilling out of the back of her helmet. If he hadn't been so occupied, he might also have noticed how well her Wychsuit complimented her figure. "Are we going to act? We don't have long," she spoke again, hesitantly.

Helikhr looked back at the fort with a frown. He and his Reavers absolutely had to find a way in. The Kabal of the Black Heart had issued a bounty on an item located within the fort. Some even said that Vect himself had issued the bounty, although that was nothing but hearsay. Nonetheless, whoever was successful in retrieving the item - a small chest with unknown contents - would enjoy a considerable reward, as well as respect and esteem that could not be measured in coin. Helikhr had spent most his remaining funds on the use of a Webway to get to this location. The Archon who had allowed him passage (who's skiffs now lay wrecked in no-man's land) had let him come under one condition: That he not disclose to anyone else that he had helped Helikhr and his mockery of a Cult. Which was precisely the reason that Helikhr needed to be successful in retrieving this nebulous 'item'. Since proclaiming himself "Dominus" and leader of the Wych Cult of the Eternal Twilight, he had been dismissed by every Kabal in Commoragh. No one had any respect for those who abandoned the traditions of the Cults. A male leader, much less a Reaver, was not tolerated.

Handing his binoculars to his companion, he slid and shuffled his way down the slope of the ridge, out of sight of the city. A considerable strike force of Raiders and Venoms hovered close to the ground on either side of him, their eager crew merely waiting for an order before springing into action. However, the other Archons present possessed more restraint, and had not yet decided to rush headlong into a blistering hail of gunfire. At the bottom of the slope lay the Dominus' own contingent: Fifteen Reaver jetbikes, their riders idly tinkering or shuffling around. It wasn't a particularly intimidating force, that was for certain. They looked up expectantly as Helikhr made his return.

"Dominus, are we going?" one of them spoke up. "I don't think we ca-"

"We cannot make our move when the item is transported. We do not possess the equipment or the coin to prepare an assault on a space-faring ship. Which means that we have..." Helikhr paused and checked the time on his wrist-mounted datapad. "Less than twenty minutes before our window is lost and one of these insufferable idiots," he motioned at the nearby Raiders, "can mount an assault in space and retrieve the item. It will not be in the redoubt for much longer."

"But sir-"

"If I wanted your opinion, D'ian, I would have asked you for it," Helikhr said through gritted teeth. The Reaver in question glanced away with a defeated look. "Mount up and be ready for my signal." Helikhr sincerely hoped that they could not hear the waver in his voice that he felt. He still had no idea how they were going to breach the fort, but as he had said himself, their window was rapidly closing. If he couldn't retrieve the item, he wouldn't be able to afford to retain leadership over his Cult. And after making a bold move like proclaiming himself Dominus... it would be difficult to even race in the arenas again. Helikhr growled to himself and tapped at his datapad, inciting a projection of the fort's layout to flicker to life in front of him - something that he had spent the rest of his funds on. Every defense has a weakness. He jabbed at the Eldar runes that surrounded the projection and watched it spin around and zoom in. Slowly studying the fort as he had done many times before, he tried to internalize every aspect of it. There had to be something.

He stopped on the west wall of the city, looking from the inside out. There was a large culvert facing towards the ocean. It appeared that the water run-off from rain and the nearby mountains collected in a channel than ran the length of the fort. It then flowed into the culvert, and likely met with other drainage pipes before leading to the ocean, about a mile away. Helikhr moved with tense hands, trying to make the culvert as big as possible in his projection. It was hard to tell, but it looked just big enough to fit two Eldar shoulder to shoulder. And just big enough to fit a jetbike.

The projection hadn't even closed before Helikhr shouted to his Reavers. Those who weren't already on their bikes leapt astride. The jetbikes roared to life in a choir of deafening screams, eliciting some surprised looks from the Kabalites aboard the nearby skiffs. They moved to the railing on their ships, waiting to see the next fools to try to assault the fort. Helikhr snapped his visor shut, revealing the glistening image of a painted-on Khymerae skull, and motioned to his squad. The jetbikes lifted themselves off of the ground, and in an ear-piercing cry, exploded off towards the ocean.

"Stay low. There is a time to make ourselves known and it is not now." He spoke quietly through his headset. The pack jetted along the slope of the ridge, keeping just out of sight as they made their way towards water. By the time they were skimming the tops of the waves, the fort had been obscured by a large cliff, and they were safe to make their way closer. The planet's second sun was setting, coloring the whitecaps a vivid gold. It would've been quite beautiful in any other circumstance. At the edge of the cliff nearest the fort, Helikhr slowed his jetbike to a crawl. He motioned for his pack to slow as well. He tapped at his wrist to update the layout of the fort. If the drainage pipes led out to the ocean, it would be around here. The seconds it took for the data to update felt like an eternity.

Finally, the projection shuddered, then returned with new visuals. Sure enough, the drainage pipe was several meters underwater, only slightly north of their location. Zooming in, Helikhr tensed up... ...and breathed a sigh of relief as it too appeared big enough to fit a Jetbike. Although just barely - perhaps a meter or two of extra room on either side. And looking at the time again, they had less than 15 minutes before the item was transported. And these humans were so unreliable - the item could have been transported already. He tried to push that thought out of his mind as he spun his jetbike around to face his riders.

"For those of you who have not worked it out as of yet, we will be gaining ingress to the fort by way of their drainage system." By the nervous glances that were shared between Reavers, it was likely that most of them had not 'worked this out as of yet'. Helikhr continued, "I have little time to make you feel confident in your riding skills. Either you are exceptional or you are not, and what I say will not change that." Helikhr paused, "...however, you fourteen have pledged your loyalty to me and the Cult of Eternal Twilight because you are skilled riders. Because you are the best Reavers in Commoragh, and you wish to set yourself apart from the other scum of the city." The group remained silent. "Answer me!" he commanded.

"Yes Dominus!" they responded in unison.

"We are unstoppable! We will be victorious today, or we will be dead!"

"Yes Dominus!"

"Now, you will negotiate this pipe and you will bathe in human blood on the other side! Make them suffer!" He cried as he kicked his jetbike into motion, sending it up into the air before careening down into the water. The group shouted and hollered as their jetbikes followed suit, slicing delicately between the golden waves.

Helikhr's jetibike whined as it propelled him slowly underwater. It worked while submerged, but it wasn't happy about it. Soon enough, the murky depths of the water parted to reveal an old grate, with several bars spanning the diameter. Clenching the grip of his jetbike, he felt the underslung Heat Lance hum to life. With a blistering white beam, the Heat Lance cut through the grating, flash-boiling the water around it and sending a torrent of bubbles to the surface. The grating fell away, and without looking over his shoulder, Helikhr jetted through the opening.

They exited the water almost immediately as the pipe inclined upward. Only a small stream of water continued down the pipe. It smelled atrocious, but luckily they were focused on not striking the walls. They were closer than Helikhr had initially thought, allowing only minor movements before the protruding Bladevanes cut into the wall, sending showers of sparks on the riders behind him. They would have to be careful, but they did not have much time. With his inherent night vision, Helikhr looked ahead and tried to call the twists and turns of the pipe as best he could. Occasionally, glancing down at his wrist, he tried to ensure that he did not accidentally take an offshoot that would lead him to smaller sewage pipes. They would taper down, and at best cause them to bottleneck and lose their window. At worst, it would rapidly shrink, and they would crash and be killed. He looked up from his wrist in time to cut hard to the right, causing the front blade to tear into the far wall of the turn, slicing a large gash in the pipe. He ducked his head as he pulled out of the wall, leveling out. He heard several of the riders behind him do the same. So far he hadn't heard anyone wreck - but he hadn't been paying that close of attention either. He would do this himself if he had to.

Helikhr and his pack tore through the pipe as fast they could manage, towards a rapidly closing window. They were almost there. So close to the prize. And all of the agony that they would inflict retrieving it... He twitched unintentionally. He hadn't been on a raid in far, far too long.

On the main street of the city, several officials walked in formation, flanked by a squad of guardsmen. The centermost official carried a large, elegant wooden chest. All of them looked around, clearly unnerved. It was obvious that the raiders were lying in wait, and none of them had any particular wish to die at their hands, much less be spirited off to their city in the Webway. One of the guardsman, a Valkyrie pilot, assured them that they would be much safer once the gift was in transit.

"Here, we're sitting ducks. It's only a matter of time before they start laying siege to our fort. But in space, we'll have superior firepower, right? We can outrun them." The lack of response was not particularly comforting, and he too fell silent.

A low whine permeated the persistent military background noise of the fort. It was dismissed at first, but steadily grew louder. Soldiers stopped lifting and moving and looked around, alarmed. As it continued to grow, heads turned towards the culvert at the end of main street. It sounded like a daemon in the throws of death - an eerie, unnatural scream that had no end.

A white-hot beam erupted from the culvert, melting the bars from the opening, and the pack of Reavers exploded out of the pipe, the screams from their custom fairing echoing across the fort. They spun and rolled out across the main street, cutting the humans limb from limb, leaving a trail of blood and body parts in their wake. In seconds, the fort had gone from quiet anticipation to utter chaos. In the lead, Helikhr pulled his bike into a tailspin, ejecting his cluster caltrops in a cascade of exploding beads, eviscerating any guardsman unlucky enough to be standing too close. The significant defensive batteries lining the walls either couldn't turn to face the assailants, or they could not draw a clear shot through the numerous buildings and tents in the fort.

Helikhr pulled a small, pyramidal object from his belt and tossed it into the crossroads at the center of the fort as he rocketed past. It glowed faintly as it levitated into the air, then all light was sucked towards it. As space itself seemed to stretch into it, it tore open, creating a large, single plane portal through which the Dark City itself could be seen. Hekatarii and Scourge poured from the portal, splinter weapons blazing. The Scourge immediately took up roost on the lower buildings, their Splinter Cannons ripping apart the heavy weapons teams attempting to get their guns into place. The other guardsmen tried to draw a bead, only to be ripped apart by a swooping jetbike, or pounced on and ripped apart by the agile Wyches.

The Dominus and two other riders located the officials carrying the chest, and swooped in. They scattered like insects - easy prey for the jetbikes - but Helikhr wanted to enjoy this. Releasing the Archite Glaive attached to the undercarriage of his jetbike, he set it to autopilot and leapt off into the group. Planting in the chest of one of the officials, he rammed his Glaive through his chest, and with a deft pull, split the man in half. Turning quickly before one of the guards could level his rifle, he twirled the Glaive over his head, separating the man's head from his shoulders, leaving his body to slump to the ground in a shower of blood. Helikhr grinned wildly, obscured by the unblinking gaze of the Khymerae skull painted on his visor. He thrusted the glaive into the guardsman farthest from him, stepping into it and lifting the guard from the ground before throwing him into a nearby wall. The last official standing dropped the chest and raised his hands, pleading for surrender. Helikhr rotated the glaive in his hands, slicing both of the man's arms, one of his legs, and his head from his body before it finally collapsed to the ground in a pile of viscera. He kicked what was left of the corpse away from the chest before picking up the chest with one hand. He tapped at his wrist pad to recall his jetbike, only looking up just in time to nearly get struck by a laser from a guardsman across the street. The human was quickly tackled by nearby Wych, who then proceeded to sit atop him and stab him in the chest until long after he was dead.

The distinct scream of his personal jetbike grew, alerting him that it was returning. He adjusted the chest in one hand, nearly dragging against the ground, and the glaive in the other, and began sprinting down the street towards the Webway Portal. The screech of his jetbike caught up with him, and he did his best to leap onto it in motion. The chest was much heavier than expected, and he only managed to get one leg over the bike, very nearly cutting himself in half on of the rear blades. Reattaching the glaive to the undercarriage with some difficulty, he freed his other hand, and pulled himself astride the jetbike.

"We're done here, quit playing with your food and let's go!" He shouted into his headset. He saw Wyches dragging several bodies in various states of living into the portal, followed by a flock of scourge, and several of his Reavers. He tore through the portal, and the temperature and light rapidly changed. Suddenly he was back in Commoragh. And he had his prize.

Back in the fort, the last remaining Wyches leapt into the portal, a few errant lasgun shots kicking up dirt where they struck. The portal shuddered, then collapsed on itself, leaving only a wisp of smoke and the carnage throughout the base as evidence that the Dark Eldar had ever been there.

---

After having a moment to settle himself after the raid, Helikhr eyed the chest more closely. What could be so important to warrant a bounty, but not important enough for the Kabal themselves to go retrieve? He snapped open the clasps on the front, and lifted the lid - fully expecting that it might be a trap. He eyed the contents, and couldn't restrain a chuckle.

Inside the chest there were three items, set into a soft lining. The first, an elegant bolt pistol, decorated with elaborate gold filigree. The second was a monomolecular knife, clearly of Dark Eldar design. The extravagant design meant that it probably had belonged to a Trueborn or Dracon. Lastly, there was a small vial filled with an opaque, lavender liquid.

The plaque in the center read: "To Captain Oziach, for your distinguished service in the defense of the planet Serra from the Dark Eldar raiders, I present to you these gifts: A sidearm befitting a man of your station, may you use it well. A weapon taken from the xenos, so that they shall know our superiority over them. And lastly, I received word that your nephew had fallen deathly ill after being struck on the last attack. My best healers have put together a concoction that should wake him from his coma. I hope it reaches you well. - Lord General Ivanovich"


Last edited by SweaterKittens on Fri Mar 13 2015, 13:59; edited 2 times in total
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Unorthodoxy
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PostSubject: Re: Retriever   Fri Mar 13 2015, 06:48

lengthy, and entertaining.

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PostSubject: Re: Retriever   Mon Mar 23 2015, 08:46

Yup, that was good and descriptive. Nice to see the poor neglected Reavers get some airtime.

But what was the significance of the contents?
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PostSubject: Re: Retriever   Tue Mar 24 2015, 08:54

Thanks guys! I do love my Reavers.

I apologize if it wasn't clear how the contents of the chest were significant. The idea was that the mono-molecular knife belonged to a Dracon/Trueborn in the Kabal of the Black Heart who was (likely) killed in a raid. The Imperial Guard Captain who defended that particular raid was being awarded with the weapon along with a bolt pistol and some medicinal supplies in honor of his skilled defense. The contents of the chest themselves aren't really what's being coveted - it's the message that they're sending. The humans were very prideful of their previous success, so the Dark Eldar successfully stealing not only the 'trophies' but also medicine for a relative of the Captain in critical condition - was meant to be a slap in the face. A retaliation for the hubris of the guard, if you will.
They got excited about a victory, and in the end their success is means little when the Dark Eldar can steal the 'spoils' from right under their noses. Not to mention the Captain's nephew, who will surely die in the hands of the medics without a cure.
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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Retriever   Wed Mar 25 2015, 20:25

Will there be more? Very Happy

I really enjoyed the way you use language, and the flow of the narrative is excellent, fast enough to give the impression of the speed at which Reavers operate and with no dull moments.

Typical Dark Eldar. Why rain on someone else's parade when you can make it pour? Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Retriever   Mon Mar 30 2015, 06:27

*Oh dang it's Lady Malys! She's talking about your writing! Play it cool, man!*

Wow, thank you! That's very flattering. I do have a couple more bits of fiction about Helikhr and his rise to power as Dominus of the Twilight Eternal, particularly his grudge match with the former Succubi of the cult. I tend to write during my night shifts, so I hope to have some more up later this week Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Retriever   Mon Mar 30 2015, 11:15

I must admit that I enjoyed this greatly and should have been getting ready to go somewhere whilst reading this, but was too hooked to read. I love the ambition of Helikhrand would love to read more about his exploits.

I am adding this to the Tales of the Harlequins sticky.

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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Retriever   Tue Mar 31 2015, 01:45

Quote :
*Oh dang it's Lady Malys! She's talking about your writing! Play it cool, man!*

*bows*

I look forward to seeing more, in that case! And it sounds a history worth reading Smile

Cavash, good idea!

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