Thick greasy air hung heavy with the evaporations of flesh and fat, a grim fog unable to dissipate in the still cavern air. Only the flailing of the tortured created much of a stir in the miasma around the Kabalites. Sounds of sizzling and popping combined with the click clacking of Haemonculi tools formed an anthem of victory.
The boiled eyes of Catachan Lieutenant Dearth saw no more, sockets covered by the melted skin of his now bone white forehead, where the oil bath caused it to flow. Dearth no longer spoke, his ruined vocal chords pulled from him by hand after his scalding made biting the torturers arm impossible. His torn mouth held blackened teeth hanging from scorched gums no longer capable of their job. Dearth felt mostly nothing now, thanks to the pain amplifiers that had shriveled his nerves to shattered axons. Kicking and screaming ended hours before when his last tendons were severed. He listened because he had no choice, Catachan pride allowing him to breathe defiantly even though he wanted death so very badly.
Dearth was beyond the capacity for any pain save the emotional, and his captor sensed this. The Kabalite felt desperate to gain the last drops of suffering he could, like an addict with a dwindling supply. Sadistic orbs flicked hungrily across the shattered toy that was Dearth, seeking his opportunity to drain something, anything from Dearth. Why was this hunger never sated the warrior raged silently to himself.
“Lieutenant?,” began the sibilant voice, very close to Dearth’s ear, so that it might travel down the frayed ends of sanity, into that smallest part of the Catachan that still felt… anything. “Lieutenant, I think your kind often wonders why. Why you?”
The Kabalite shifted closer. “In my work, I often hear that your kind say there is a larger purpose. You’re thinking it now… aren’t you? Hoping this is for something, yes?”
Dearth couldn’t respond. These monsters would be getting theirs but good Dearth thought. The warship Pride would be here to avenge and prove the Catachan mettle.
“I wanted you to know something, Lieutenant Dearth,” rasped the Kabalite ominously. “I want you to hear something special.”
Lieutenant Dearth’s shattered mind darkened further, but he listened, fighting to stay cogent a few seconds longer and fear crept in. Surely, this thing didn’t mean to revive him again? Not again…
The Kabalite brought the Lieutenants dataslate to Dearth’s ear. It crackled to life. The sounds of explosions, rending metal, dying men, clearly human men, followed. Dearth’s mind was too muddled to understand. So tired…
“That’s your fleet Dearth. That’s Pride’s death rattle. Landing crafts boarded minutes ago. All thirty two. I just wanted you to know it was you who betrayed them in your delirium. You’re suffering was for something after all. Despair now, friend. Despair for me…” he hissed.
The warrior inhaled Dearths fresh bitter despair. One last hit. When would it ever be enough? the Kabalite asked himself, tears welling up.
Hold out bait to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and then crush him.
-Sun Tzu, the Art of War