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 The Trials of Achaea

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dokclaw
Slave


Posts : 22
Join date : 2013-01-29
Location : Montréal

PostSubject: The Trials of Achaea   Thu Mar 07 2013, 03:15

This is the first of a multi-part story that ties together my marine chapter, the Lions of Achaea, and my Dark Eldar gang/kabal, the Baleshadow Syndicate. There is currently not much DE in here, but as I write more, I will be working the Baleshadow into it to a greater degree. Constructive C&C welcome. There is no gunfire in this part , if that's important to you, you don't need to read any further.


Slowly the thick, coagulating blood trickles down Brother Dolmadaen’s neck, pooling in the hollow where it meets his shoulder. Creeping down his chest, it flows around the cold steel of his black carapace, now sullied by a probe of xenos design, entering his sternum to meld with his pure Astartes form. It itches him terribly. Blood continues to trickle down, down, down, driven from the small incision he can feel at the back of his neck. Usually his blood would have clotted by now, but he suspects his captors have been filling him with drugs to prevent it from happening; they like to see him bleed. He tries to shift his weight, but still he is bound by cold metal that bites into his flesh, leaving red welts where it takes his weight.

--------

Clad in pitch black armour Brother Sergeant Andromachus and his retinue stride the corridors of the Ascendent Throne. The footsteps of the seven astartes ring throughout the gothic hallways of the vessel, reverberating from the gargoyles that line the walls and jut from corners throughout the ship and almost drowning out the voice of the human that accompanies them. The human crew abase themselves as the party passes, shaven heads bowing before the demigods that walk amongst them. Few dare peek, and those that do are afforded no notice from the giants in their war plate. “With respect, Lord Amarron”, thunders the voice of Andromachus, “is my squad’s presence truly necessary for this retrieval? Surely Prefect Harven cannot refuse you access to anywhere you wish to enter?”

“Brother-Sergeant, I can assure you that the presence of nearly seven tons of muscle and armour is an incredibly powerful negotiation tool. Harven has a reputation, and that is one of secrecy and paranoia. Introducing your fine company of warriors to him will assure him that I am deadly serious when it comes to my mission.”

“So we proud brothers are simply muscle to you, Inquisitor?” Andromachus’ eyebrow raises to punctuate the question as he looks down at the human.

Amarron barely turns his head. “You are a decorated veteran of several campaigns in the Khoros sector against Tau incursions, carry bitter memories and several scars from the Enslavers of Skorpios, and have met several Eldar, though never had the chance to kill one. Brothers Astramael and Raimer have both fought many engagements with the ancient ones, and though Raimer boasts of the many he has destroyed, it is actually Astramael who has the higher honours from such victories having personally accounted for a number of the more sophisticated models of Necron. Brother Invictus does not talk about it much, but you can see from his pauldron that he has fought with the great devourer on many an occasion; that is why he carries his weight ever so slightly crooked, and why he prays with almost as much zeal as Ramier. Much, much more so than yourself, I might add.” Andromachus halts his stride, and his squad immediately stops also. Amarron also pauses and turns, drawing himself up to his full six foot, barely reaching the sternum of the hulking marine. “Sergeant, this mission may not be as simple as going to the palace and taking the artifact from Harven. Reports of it being in his possession are months old, and there has been an unusual amount of warp fluctuations since then; the planet may be over-run by cultists of Nurgle as we speak, the streets may be running with blood and pus, and we may have to firebomb the planet. Maybe the Tau have sent envoys and diplomats to convince Harven of the allure of the greater good, and freedom from Tithes and the Black Ships. If we are very, very lucky, then Harven will not even try to assassinate me during our stay. Do you see now Sergeant, why I asked for you and your squad?” Amarron glances at each Astartes in turn, searching their faces. “Each of you was selected, either by me or by your watch commander, for this mission. Each of you has shown bravery in the face of alien threats. Each of you have shown a flexibility that is needed for dealing with a mission such as this. We are going in almost blind with information that is months old. When we arrive, scans will only tell us so much. We have to be prepared for any situation, and this is why you have been chosen. Between you, you have a breadth of experience dealing with Xenos that can be rivaled by few other active groups of Deathwatch, and none in this region. You are my choice for this mission. Do not allow my flippant comments detract from the severity of the situation, and do not doubt for one second my belief in you.” Amarron’s gaze flicks between the battle-brothers for a few seconds more, before he turns on his heel and continues to stride down the corridor. If Astartes can look sheepish, Andromachus does as he follows the Inquisitor.

----

The blood is still slowly seeping down his chest. Surely it should have stopped by now. Has he been asleep? It’s very difficult to tell. His mouth is dry and tight, and he thinks he might have to vomit. Suddenly there is a loud.... something? No, it’s not loud, it’s silence. For as long as he can remember he has been barraged with discordant wailing and off-kilter, atonal noise. Now his ears fill with silence, and he is disoriented. Then, a piercing, blinding, all-consuming light floods his retinas. He feels the clamps around his forehead pitch, tilting his head back and exposing the skin of his jugular. Something crawls across his forehead, and there is a stabbing pain in his eyes as multiple tiny hooks burrow their way into the skin of his eyelids before dragging them open. He sees nothing but white.

---

Twelve smashed bodies lie scattered around the chamber. Amarron pushes a stray curl from out of his right eye. “Prefect Harven, kindly refrain from this sort of nonsense. I can sense that this interview is making you uncomfortable, but you really have to understand that all I require is its location. Your, undoubtedly multiple, other infractions against the Throne are all minor to me when compared to the retrieval of the artifact. I would slaughter the entirety of your personal guard, your family, and your retainer’s families before I would leave without knowing where the casket is. Brother-Sergeant, if you please.” Amarron gestures towards the Prefect’s throne; servos whirr and the hulking astartes moves with inhuman speed to where the prefect cowers. A giant gloved hand reaches out to cradle the cherubic face of a statue that vaults from the corner of the throne, and crushes it. Dust falls onto the lapel of the prefect, who sobs in terror “I don’t know! I don’t know! I haven’t seen it in weeks!”

“And where, then, did you last see it? Where might you have misplaced it on this crap rock?”

“I thought they had it!” His eyes flick to Andromachus, who is examining the dust stuck to his fingertips. “Why don’t you ask him?”

“Prefect, do you think I would come halfway across the sector, risking many valuable imperial assets including my own life, if I, or the Deathwatch already had the artifact? Does that seem likely? Explain to me why you think I have the casket.”

“A month ago we had a ship arrive in-system, identified as the Autumn Sentinel,” Amarron touches his collar to his throat. The prefect is staring blankly ahead. “All the ident codes checked out, as being Imperial, so we offered it the use of our port facilites for refuelling and such. We got no reply until a Thunderhawk landed in front of the palace, and out steps a single Marine, looking like the brother Sergeant here. He says that he’s a representative of the Deathwatch, and that they know about us unearthing this powerful artifact. He hands me an imperial decree stating that this artifact belongs to the Emperor, and must be entrusted to his care. I tried to argue with him that this treasure belongs to the people of Archer’s Folly, and that as a member of the Deathwatch, he has no juristiction here. We went around and around with each other until he ordered the Autumn Sentinel to open fire.” The prefect looks up at Andromachus. “That mountain was not a volcano six weeks ago.” Amarron turns to look out of the window facing the throne to see a smoking, riven peak.

“So you gave him the casket?

“Of course I did!” The prefect spits, looking genuinely angry. “That maniac would have destroyed us all!”

“What did he call himself? Describe him!”

“He looked like a Space Marine! Throne, he was huge... His armour was painted black as this” he gestures to Andromachus, “but it looked more scarred, and pitted. His eyes were the same colour.” Amarron looks up sharply.

“What colour was his skin?”

“Pale, nearly white.”

“You have just described a member of the Night Lords. Do you know who they are?”

“No, my Lord.”

Andromachus brings his helmeted head close to the prefect. “Traitors to the throne of ten millennia. You have handed a priceless artifact to the ancient enemies of the Imperium. The foul insurgents who nearly robbed us of our Champion, our Emperor!” The Prefect’s face collapses into sobs. He falls to the foot of the throne and huddles, wailing in the face of the Astarte’s rage. Amarron approaches the throne and lays his gloved hand upon the eagle that fronts Andromachus’ body. “Wait, Sergeant. Please go and wait outside. I think your role here is done. The Prefect clearly has no idea where the casket is, or even what it is. Please leave us whilst I continue the questioning; I don’t think your presence will improve the situation.”

“As you wish, Inquisitor. I am on the other side of the wall, when you require me again.” An

Amarron smiles and nods to him as he turns and leaves the room, “Thank you brother-sergeant.” The Inquisitor bends down to the sobbing form of the Prefect and grabs his lapels, pulling him upright. “Stand up, man; this crying is beneath both your dignity and mine!” Amarron stands chest to chest with the Prefect, and stares at him with his head cocked, as the Harven struggles to regain his composure. “You understand, Prefect, that the casket is immensely powerful, and that by handing it to this Traitor, you have committed a crime against the Imperium?”

“My Lord, I did not know! Everything he said appeared to be true! Why would I have doubted him?”

“And yet, even though you believed him to be a servant of the emperor, you tried to deny the casket to him. Interesting. When did you last update your shipping archives? When did you last take on new staff in your port authority?”

“...Well, I would have to check our records”

“The Autumn Sentinel has been considered lost to us for nearly a millennia; it was last seen fighting the Red Corsairs before being presumed lost with all hands in the Pavonis expanse. Now it appears here, 945 years later. Have you updated your shipping logs in the last 945 years, Prefect?”

Harven stammers “Yes, my Lord, of course...”

Amarron once more touches his collar to his throat, and turns from the Prefect for a moment, then turns back. “You have heretics and traitors within your staff. I will require you to give me a list of everyone you have acquired since you found the casket, and for eighteen months prior to that date. In the meantime, your entire staff will be quarantined within their stations. You will accompany me as I continue my investigations. Your ignorance has damned you, Prefect. Make no mistake, your own fate is sealed, but you can still save your family from a penal sentence by making sure all of my demands are carried out to the letter. The trail is not cold, and I will recover the casket, despite your blunders. Come.” Amarron turns sharply towards the door, his finger taps his collar, and the massive form of Andromachus appears once more in the doorway, beckoning to the Prefect.

Head bowed, tears streaming down his cheeks, Harven follows.


----------

His eyes stream with tears, and as the whiteness clears from his vision, he can begin to see blurred forms moving in front of his face. He tries to follow them, but his head is clamped in place, gripped by cold metal clasps. Slowly, the blurs begin to resolve themselves into a vast form, studded with vials and vestigial arms. An armoured carapace sits atop this huge torso as it glides gracefully around the room, tentacles writhing underneath its hideous form. One of the tentacles reaches out from the creature and caresses his face; tiny barbs shoot into his cheek, and it feels fire underneath his skin. He cannot help but scream, a thin, wailing sound that is not his own, and never has been. He hears a reedy giggle, beyond his vision. “Finally! I really thought you weren’t going to grace us with your presence this time, brother!” The last word is mocking, derisive. “How do you like your new friend?” Dolmadaen tries to turn his head, but he is clamped tightly, and all he does is further abrade the skin. He tries to remember the owner of the voice; it is very difficult. Is there a golden face? He gives up. Need to concentrate on the voice now. “Where?” Dolmadaen starts to form the question, but he is interrupted by a thin childlike voice echoing his enquiry. What is a child doing here? He pauses, and waits for the child to ask again. Again, he hears the reedy giggle of his interlocutor. “Where are you?” He insists. Again, the child’s voice sounds his question, and the giggling increases in enthusiasm. “Show yourself” He yells with his new, breaking voice, “Show yourself!”

The giggling turns into full-throated laughter.
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