Despite my new found determination, I found I couldn’t run much farther. Making it only five or six metres down the corridor, before stopping to catch my breath again.
+Attelus,+ said Karmen. +Attelus you’ve got to keep moving.+
I nodded and forced my body onward, ambling while using my forearm to pull myself along the corridor. Glancing around at every crash and roar that echoed through the building from Darrance’s and the daemons’ struggle. There were, without doubt, more daemons, I had to be careful.
I made it to the end of the corridor, finding another window. With battered, bloody and pained hands I clumsily slid it open and leaned to look outside. The next building over was another long, six-story hab unit. It was nearly a three-metre gap, and the nearest fire escape was a few windows on my left. I quickly recalled that there was a fork in the corridor a while back.
What caught my attention most of all was the light, the blood red light had grown in intensity. It was like my eyes had blown their blood vessels.
I sighed, about to push back into the building but stopped as I felt slight droplets of rain on my head. I blanched in bemusement and looked up at the thick, crimson clouds above.
It never rained in the underhive; it couldn’t rain in the underhive, the ceiling of the over hive forever prevented that.
The few droplets quickly escalated into a full-on downpour, but I couldn’t see the rain, I could hear it, feel it, but couldn’t see it. I reeled inside, abruptly shut the window and backed away in disgust and horror.
It was raining blood, frigging blood.
Another great crash down the hall made me jump and brought me back to reality.
I turned and ran to the intersection, turning right. As much I didn’t want to go outside, I had to get to the roof, it was the best way to go. Making it to the next turn, I ran to the fire escape door and without looking back, opened it and stepped outside.
The force of the blood rain hit me like a punch to the jaw, and I raised my arm to protect my face. With a growl of anger and fighting the urge to vomit. I started up the metal staircase. Edracian wasn’t just throwing daemons at me but the very elements.
I couldn’t help but take some pride in that.
Clenching my teeth, I trod carefully, all the while clutching hard at the handrail to keep my feet on the treacherous, slick surface.
Finally, I made it to the top and looked about, trying to find this church.
I saw it through the blood red, a large, two-story monastic and overly grandiose thing; it’s two towers which stuck out like a sore thumb compared to the simplistic hab buildings around it. It would’ve been gaudy if it wasn’t in such disrepair.
My brow furrowed involuntarily, the Ecclesiarchy; always having the thrones to build such monstrosities, but never really helping those in need. Ohh they did but only “spiritually” which meant nothing to me and not just that they’d charge for it too.
I shook away such thoughts and walked to the other side of the roof. After wiping my sticky, blood-slicked hair from my eyes, I spun on my heels, fell into a sprint and lunged over the three-metre gap.
Landing well, I finished into a crouch and ran to the next edge, stopping to look along the side. Trying to find another way down. The tallest building was only four stories high and was a good one hundred metres away, which would’ve made me curse, but I froze in fear as I saw daemons, frigging dozens of the bastards. They stood perfectly still throughout the streets and the buildings below. As I noticed them, suddenly all their snouts simultaneously snapped upward, somehow looking straight at me.
Desperate with utter terror I threw myself to the floor although I suspected it was fruitless.
“Karmen! Karmen! You could’ve frigging warned me of this!” I hissed through clenched teeth.
It took a good few seconds before Karmen finally replied, when she did her voice was pained and distant.
+Warn you of what Attelus? I am sorry, I am, busy. I cannot see everything.+
Slowly, I climbed up and peered over the buttress, but what I saw scared me even more.
All the daemons were all gone.
+Attelus? What’s wrong?+
My reply was interrupted by a massive crash, which was followed by another then another all of them sounding like they were coming from below me.
I furrowed my brow in bemusement, climbed to my feet; then the realisation hit me, it hit me hard.
“They’re collapsing the frigging building!” I roared, more to myself than to her, and as if on cue the roof under my feet began to sway and tilt, making me stumble to keep my feet.
Panic gripped me so hard I couldn’t think straight, and I sprinted straight for one of the rooftop doors. Then found much to my distress; it locked.
Without thinking I kicked at the door, the first did nothing, the second not much more. It was only after the fifth that my panicked mind finally remembered, I was carrying a frigging powersword. I activated it, sliced through the thick lock and with one more kick it flung open.
Breathing hard, I then began to descend the stairs into the darkness. The walls and floors juddered around and underneath me.
I was glad to get out of that cursed rain, but now I was in immense danger, the daemons could be anywhere just waiting to jump out and tear me to shreds.
That was their plan. To get me down here and ambush me or failing at that collapsing the entire building on me. Smart frigging, things.
Clenching my jaw in anger at my idiocy, I made it to the bottom of the stairway, seeing that the large rockcrete staircase continued down, circling to the ground floor. I hissed through clenched teeth, clutching at the handrail while moving as quickly and carefully as I could. My footfalls echoed through the stairwell, and my heart lodged in my throat.
When I reached the bottom of the first flight, I realised something that caused me to pause, what was stopping them from just taking out the stairs? With a curse I turned and kicked in the nearest door, slipping through with my sword ready.
Immediately the building abruptly swayed as more crashes echoed, and I was suddenly sent careening off my feet, slamming side-ward against the rotting carpet on the floor.
I cried out as pain coursed through me, and I rolled over, clutching at my side while gasping in agony.
It was then when two daemons burst straight through the floor, showering everything with shards and slivers of rockcrete.
I clambered quickly to my feet as they came at me from both sides. Even though my pulse pounded a mile a second and my hands shook like leaves, I didn’t hesitate and with four slashes of my activated powersword; I created a hole, a hole in the floor around my feet that collapsed a millisecond before they were on me.
The fall was for a good two metres, and I tried my hardest to land well, but to no avail, as my legs gave way with the impact and I barely kept my face from smashing into the floor. I didn’t have any time to writhe in pain again as the daemons’ claws were immediately smashing through the ceiling straight at me.
I rolled along the floor, feeling their attacks brush past me a mere millimetre away, leapt to my feet and ran on, trying not to limp from the pain in my knees. Their arms kept smashing down in my wake, following me through the thin corridor.
I was rapidly running out of space as the window at the end of the corridor was coming closer and closer. So I stopped and spun into a sidekick that smashed open the door of a hab unit with such force it almost bounced back into me.
Sprinting into the small space, I barely made it before being crushed under their attacks but for a scant second I was free, and it was enough for me, as I cut into the floor and jumped through the gap. I landed into a roll and was back up. Quickly, an idea came to me and Immediately I was slashing a long line through the length of the hab’s floor, cut another hole. Dropped down into the next level below and repeated the process there.
I could hear the daemons as they bashed through the ceiling above, followed by a creaking then crashing as my weakened floor collapsed underneath them and watched as they fell through the debris, down two stories.
There was no time for me to celebrate the success of my ploy, not even a smile before the building began to suddenly shudder, taking me off balance, almost making me fall through the hole with the daemons.
The juddering didn’t stop this time it just kept going, and I could barely keep my feet. The entire thing was finally in full collapse.
Cursing, I opened the hab’s, scrambled into the corridor and toward the window,
I was only on the third floor and didn’t know how tall the next building was, but I had no choice. Once I stumbled to the end of the corridor, I smashed out the window and glanced outside, finding to my dismay that the next building was only one story high. Another crash made me flinch in fright and look over my shoulder to see the daemons had already recovered. They were cramped in the corridor and coming at me.
Swallowing my fear I didn’t hesitate, I dived out the small window, into the crimson-lit cityscape and the raining blood outside.
It felt like I flew and the roof of the next building rapidly approached. What happened next is still a complete blank or black. I’m pretty sure I didn’t close my eyes, I don’t think I lost consciousness, I don’t even know how long I was like that, but when my vision finally came back, I was sprawled on my side facing back toward the building I’d jumped out. I was a good four metres across the rooftop, and I could feel a new pain in my hands and legs.
Slowly I looked and found both my hands had been skinned, ripped open. The gloves I wore now torn to shreds.
As I lay getting soaked in the blood rain, I hissed air through my teeth and tried to move, but my body refused, all my injuries protesting with more pain. But as far as I could tell, nothing was broken, and I began to laugh. A laugh which was very short lived as the two daemons landed on the roof with great huge thuds! The rockcrete almost entirely giving away underneath them.
With a bone-jarringly deafening, groaning roar, the building began to fall, not collapse but fall, tipping straight toward us. The pain was gone, replaced by terror and adrenaline. I was abruptly up and sprinting.
I didn’t dare look back but could hear and feel it fall. The hideous grinding and screaming like the roar of some dying monster. I could see its shadow grow and grow as it loomed over me. I jumped over a dividing wall and risked a glance back. The two daemons were barely keeping up with me. I was running with reckless abandon, not holding back, even though I knew I could slip over on the blood-soaked ground in any second and the building was now frigging horizontal.
Clenching my teeth, I turned forward, trying to sprint even faster despite struggling for every breath, despite my legs wanting to fold up underneath me, my sickened stomach and lightheadedness. I jumped over another gap but slipped on the landing; my heart sank as I slid on my heel, crying out as I barely found my feet before smashing my face on the roof.
I stopped and stooped over trying to regain my breath. The grinding and screaming of the falling building spurred me on again, stumbling like a drunken idiot to the edge of the building and finding a four-metre gap much to my despair.
Then the deafening, grinding screaming disappeared, taken over by just complete silence, it was like time had stopped, and I turned.
I’d made it, I’d made it out the way of the falling building much to my relief, but barely, then it hit me what was going to happen when it landed.
I leapt over the buttress into free fall, my arms waving ineffectually as the rockcrete street came closer. I was in mid-air when the building hit the ground, the sound was like nothing I’d never heard before, the crash as the building crushed others under its weight was beyond deafening the entire world seemed to rock and quake, even the very air. How my eardrums weren’t destroyed, I had no idea.
I hit the ground, trying to roll with the horrific force of the fall, agony tore through my knees making me scream and botch the roll, and I slid across the street through the blood. If it weren’t for that, I would’ve come out a whole lot worse.
Barely in time, I managed to gasp in some air and close my eyes before the wall of thick dust hit me.
I waited for a few seconds before finally exhaling and opening my eyes. I was covered head to toe in thick grey, the blood that soaked me acting like glue for the dust. Around the walls and streets were the same, but the blood rain was already wearing it away. I could see grey intermingling with the pools of blood.
Coughing and groaning I began to get to my feet, my body protesting with more pain.
Eventually, I found my feet and stumbled on down the main street, leaning against the wall with my arm for support. I could see the church through the rain at the end of the road, but it was still a good four hundred metres away.
“Karmen!” I croaked. “Karmen!”
I got nothing.
“Karmen!” I roared.
+Yes, Attelus! What’s wrong?+
“What will I find in there?”
+I don’t know, Attelus. All that I can figure is that the daemons aren’t directly coming from the Church but are materialising in the general vicinity. I’m sorry, sorry I can’t be more helpful. Be careful.+
I smiled, “Karmen, I’m always careful, you should...know...that...”
I trailed off as I glanced over my shoulder and saw the full devastation, the huge hab block had crushed dozens of others under it, completely and utterly It was like those buildings never existed. The roof I’d only stood on a minute or so ago loomed over me like a wall.
“By the Emperor,” I stammered and slowed to a halt.
As if summoned by my words the daemons suddenly burst from the ruined building, crashing onto the street and sprinting straight at me.
I still couldn’t comprehend how they could move so damn fast with such short legs. Clenching my teeth with the pain, I began to half run, half limp away as they bared down on me. I couldn’t go any faster I was beyond exhausted, in agony. They’d got me; I was done. They’d won.
I stopped, stumbling to keep myself from collapsing and bent over. Gasping like I’d never gasped before and fought back the urge to puke.
I closed my eyes and waited for the death blow.
So this is it? said my voice in my mind. After all this struggle and you’re just giving up?
“I can’t go any further, I can’t,” I gasped out loud. “It’s too hard, too hard.”
Really? Emperor, you’re frigging pathetic! Everyone is counting on you, hell this whole planet is counting on you if those things aren’t stopped! Just four hundred meters to go! You’ve come this far; you can go a little further.
But nothing! Go now! Or you will die and then everyone else with you! Karmen! Castella! Torris! Garrakson! Everyone, they’d all go that extra mile for you, Attelus, hell all you have to go is just another four hundred metres for them! People like you and care for you Attelus, show them that you care for them too!
Slowly, shakily I forced myself to stand straight and opened my eyes, looking up at the crimson clouds, feeling the blood rain hit my face and soak my hair.
“This is for you Karmen, for everyone,” I said, then suddenly fell into a sprint and I could feel the rush of air as what was to be the killing attack missed me by less than a hair’s breadth.
I roared, as I ran with wild abandon, I knew that one slight misstep, one slight slip, would send me smashing against the rockcrete and to my death, but I kept going, the entrance to the church coming closer and closer. I could feel the daemons behind me but never looked back. I didn’t dare.
Many thoughts flew through my mind as I sprinted down that long street, wondering what exactly was behind those doors? What was this conduit? How was I going to destroy it? So much I didn’t know, so many questions, yet here I was blindly running into this with no plan, nothing. Even if I made it into the church, I still had a long way to go.
Never had I done this before, I’d always have some plan, some knowledge. The idiom “knowledge is power”, is a cliche for a reason, and I’d always adhere to it. Not just because of Glaitis’ teachings but my father also drilled it into me as a boy. Wars were won and lost because of which side had better knowledge. But that was it! I was used to working for the one who knew the most, the one that could out plan and outmanoeuvre everyone, yet here we were; caught on the back foot by someone with not just the better knowledge and planning but the better army, the better everything.
Edracian had outmanoeuvred us, played us like Regicide pieces. He’d driven us to desperation and beyond. We were no longer fighting for any kind of victory anymore, but for our very survival. There was only one thing we could do, improvise, and it was all up to me, little, exhausted beaten and battered me.
I’d never had to bear such a burden, such a responsibility before; I’d killed, sure. But I had never I made the big decisions. Decisions that truly affected the lives of thousands or hundreds or even dozens of others.
Taking that pict, perhaps, but I was yet to see the consequences of that.
I was going into this now without prior knowledge, without prior planning, without Glaitis’ guidance. I doubted that Karmen could help me either. But this is reality; the big decisions are usually made when one has nothing to prepare them for it. Now I finally, truly understood what it was to be a Glaitis, a Taryst or even an Edracian.
Finally, after what felt like forever I made it to the steps to the church and began to bound up them, two at a time.
I risked a glance over my shoulder; the daemons were close, no more than six metres behind, but I’d gained ground much to my surprise.
One jumped, leaping with inhuman strength and flew at me like a bullet. I dived to the side
as it smashed into the rockcrete sending bits of rubble showering everywhere and grey dust into the air.
The first came up the stairs punching at me, forcing me to kneel and duck underneath.
I clenched my teeth; I was so close only to be caught and killed now?
They were like a wall as they bounded after me, a wall of snarling, snapping jaws, of countless claws, flying, sweeping and uppercutting at me. I slowed to a crawl as I desperately swayed, ducked and sidestepped, stumbling through attack after attack, my heart in my throat as even the slightest misstep on those slippery, bloody steps would cause my instantaneous death.
After Emperor only knows how long of utter desperation and fear I found the top of the steps, flat ground.
I didn’t hesitate I spun and started to run, straight toward the doors.
My heart lunging in my throat I sprinted across the long expanse, expecting in any second the death blow to hit me in the back. But it never came.
I barely managed to slow enough to keep myself from running full tilt into the ornate doors.
Without daring to look back, I grabbed hold of the door and hoping beyond hope it wasn’t locked, pulled with all my remaining strength. Much to my pleasant surprise, it opened without resistance but what I found made me hesitate.
I faced another wall of pitch black, exactly like the one that’d surrounded Brutis’s building. I looked over my shoulder, seeing one of the daemons bearing down on me as it drew back its arm.
With a sigh, I drew my sword, turned and plunged straight into the black.
At first, I ran through the blackness, I ran and ran, but it went on and on. Soon I couldn’t go any further. I had to come to a halt and look back. Much to my surprise, there was nothing, just more black behind me.
I activated my powersword and readied it weakly while trying to stop my insistent gasping. Just because I couldn’t see them didn’t mean they weren’t there; silently stalking me through the darkness.
For a long time, I stood, glancing around like a madman to find some trace, any trace of them, their absence was just more terrifying than if they were there.
Stop standing around, my mind said. There isn’t enough time for you to indulge your rampant paranoia!
I clenched my teeth, knowing it was the truth, but I seemed unable to make myself move, I was barely able even to stand.
Think about this, you idiot; if they were there they’d have killed you by now, keep moving, frig it!
“What, what if they’re out there and just toying with me?” I stammered.
Really? I don’t think they have the intellect to do that, do you?
“Who knows, perhaps they do. Perhaps they actually do have the intellect and have been pretending to be like mindless beasts to trick me into that assumption so it’d lull me into a false sense of security. Perhaps...”
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, interrupted the voice. The daemons. Aren’t. There! Right now all your friends are fighting for their lives! They may be dying out there or even already dead! The more time you waste standing around perhapsing like an idiot the more likely that Karmen will be dead, or Castella! Or everyone! Get moving!
I closed my eyes and gripped my sword.
But nothing! Go!
I sighed and turned forward, anyone else may’ve became lost there and then but my instinct carried me innately on.
The voice was right; again I’d hesitated, allowed myself give in, put my friend’s lives at risk. The darkness was doing this, the first played on my fear, this on my paranoia.
Fear? Paranoia? Were they really that different?
I furrowed my brow and limped on, but then a thought suddenly hit me.
Friends, I’d just called them friends, by the Emperor how long has it been since I’ve called anyone a friend?
How long? I didn’t know I couldn’t recall and even if I had was it as genuine as just then? Castella, Torris, Garrakson, Tresch, perhaps even Darrance and Vex. Friends.
And here I was; standing around of my pathetic insecurities when all their lives were on the line. I clenched my teeth and furrowed my brow then burst into a sprint.
I emerged into the church, the abruptness of it causing me to stumble and almost lose my balance.
I was standing at the entrance, looking down the main aisle leading to the altar, the many rows of pews were empty, and the blood red light was in here too. The same crimson clouds covered the ceiling as the underhive outside. Strangely, despite the outward appearance of disrepair, everything here seemed in pristine condition. Statues of various saints lined the walls, some in the attire of warriors wearing armour of multiple makes, their weapons slung and sheathed. Some in the garments of civilians, some women, some men, but all kneeled in prayer.
Standing behind the altar was what I guessed to be the “conduit.” A thick, half a metre tall black pillar that seemed made of marble. From its tip, it spewed a swirling whirling mass of black and red that intertwined into the air, like a hurricane.
“You, you must be the conduit,” I gasped and began to limp my way toward it, but the slow, mocking clapping made me stop in my tracks.
“Well done, well done. He did say you would make it,” said a figure as he stepped out of the shadows still clapping slowly, mockingly.
He was tall, thin and lean and wore a flak jacket. His head was shaven, and he smiled at me through sickeningly sharpened teeth. “I’m impressed you managed to make it this far, young, Mr, Kaltos. I didn’t believe him. I guess I’ll never question anything he says ever again,”
The man grinned widely and bowed deeply “why the one and only.”
Sudden rage overtook me, and with a roar I found myself charging down the long aisle with reckless abandon.
He smiled, swayed under my slash and spun sideward, out of reach of my blade.
“Ohh Mr Kaltos is that the way to greet the one who saved you?”
“Where is she you bastard!” I snarled.
“Who? Ohh you mean your little girlfriend, right? The Elandria girl? Why do you care? She’s now a corpse.”
Bellowing out, I slid the distance and struck down my sword, but Feuilt backpedalled easily out the way.
“Tsk, tsk so touchy.”
“You bastard, tell me where the hell she is, now!” I roared.
“Or what?” sneered Feuilt. “You’re going to continue waving your little sword about like a little girl? If you really want to know, Mr Kaltos. I don’t actually know, the corpse was taken off world, into the warp, she’s gone, long gone. Deal with it.”
I looked at him, gaping like an idiot, “taken off world? But, but why?”
“I don’t know!” He exclaimed. “And if I did, do you seriously think I’d tell you? My master wanted the corpse frozen and somewhere other than Omnartus. That’s all I know, and that’s all you’re going to get.”
I clenched my jaw and glared at him balefully. Everything is all your fault you smug son of a bitch, I thought.
“Oh that’s right,” said Feuilt. “I almost forgot.”
He suddenly moved and punched me hard in the face. I reeled back in pain then his kick smashed into my guts, causing me to bend double forward and briefly off my feet then collapsing to my knees, coughing and winded.
“That’s right, I’m here to stop you from destroying the Conduit, aren’t I?” he said, “and I’m sorry Mr Kaltos, you have fulfilled your purpose, now you’re expendable. You can die.”
From under his jacket, Feuilt drew a powerblade and activated it.
I slowly climbed to my feet and smiled, pointing my sword at him.
“I still have a purpose, Feuilt, and that’s why I won’t die. Not here, not now” then I turned and ran for the pillar.
My eyes widened and my teeth clenched as he was suddenly in front of me and slashing his power sword. Desperately I leapt away, the crackling blade, missing by me less than a millimetre. Feuilt followed on with a stab at my chest that I just managed to sidestep but was forced to block his third, a vertical, downward cut.
He didn’t pull back but applied pressure, and quickly I found my arms buckling under his superior strength and weight. I knew I couldn’t hold out so kicked at his groin, forcing him to bound back.
“Uh uh uh,” he said. “You already forgot what I said, didn’t you? I said; ‘I’m here to stop you from destroying the Conduit,’ and that, ‘you can die.’ I used the wrong word there I meant, ‘you will die.’ So why can’t you just give up and make this more comfortable for the both of us?”
With a growl, I lunged, cutting at his skull. Feuilt ducked then slid suddenly onto my side, and scarcely I managed to parry his thrust. With a laugh Feuilt slashed, causing me to stumble clumsily out the way.
I stabbed back, but Feuilt parried it with ease and roundhouse kicked me in the back.
Staggering, gasping with the pain; I turned just in time to block his low horizontal slash then sway just out the way of his following thrust.
Clenching my teeth and swallowing back the bile rising in my mouth, I countered and sliced diagonally at his legs. Feuilt only laughed and danced over it, then smashed away my next cut. Undeterred, I carried on my offence, next slashing vertically upward which Feuilt back stepped. I followed with a stab that he sidestepped, then a horizontal blow he ducked.
Feuilt slipped out the way of my front kick and spun into a lightning fast slash that forced me to lean back like mad; luckily he was wielding a short blade, if it were just a few centimetres longer, I would’ve lost my head.
He stabbed next, and I parried, countering by cutting over his arms, toward his skull. Like water, Feuilt weaved away, but my blade barely missed. I’d almost got the bastard.
“I see you have some fight left, Attelus,” said Feuilt, standing out of range, sounding almost genuinely impressed.
“I, I have fight as long I as still need to fight,” I gasped.
Feuilt smirked, “of course you do.”
I readied my sword as all of a sudden, Feuilt charged but was utterly unprepared as he abruptly kicked my feet out from under me.
My back slammed hard against the stone floor, causing me to gasp in pain and the world to spin.
But yet I still brought up my blade to stop Feuilt’s descending sword before it cleaved my head in half.
“Sorry but It will take more than just ‘fight’ to win, Mr Kaltos,” snarled Feuilt in my face as my shaking arms rapidly began buckle and give.
’Yes,” I agreed, then spat bloody phlegm straight into his eye. “But fight isn’t all that I have left.”
Feuilt screamed in agony and reeled off me, clutching at his face while I slowly clambered to my feet.
“You bastard!” he screamed. “You frigging little bastard!”
Just as I was up Feuilt was on me, attacking like a madman. My heart thundering I managed to back peddle just out the way.
Roaring like a crazed animal he rallied and sliced down at my skull which I barely sidestepped and his sword cut into the stone floor.
Sudden terror overtook me, and from my sidestep, I stumbled into a run, running for the right side aisle.
“Come back here you little frig stain!” screamed Feuilt and he started after me. “Come back so I can gut you like a fish!”
I made it to the aisle, turning right, the praying statues of the saints towering over me as I ran past them.
Laughing insanely while simply walking after me, Feuilt began to slash his power sword into each statue as he came to them, decapitating or slicing their torsos.
“You keep running you little idiot,” he snarled. “Keep on running! You’ll just make it easier for me! I can do this all day! Keep running like the pathetic coward you are!”
I slid to a stop and turned to face him, my jaw clenched, and I gripped my sword’s hilt harder.
“Oh! The boy has some balls after-”
Feuilt was interrupted as I charged, stabbing my sword toward his face. He ducked and slashed out wildly at my chest, a blow I back stepped and which wound up slicing straight through one of the pews. Sending large shards of burnt wood in every direction. Laughing like a maniac, he parried my counter thrust and punched me in the face, sending me writhing back, dazed and hurting.
Desperately I hurled myself to the floor in a bid to dodge Feuilt’s inevitable follow-on and clumsily clambered toward the middle aisle.
I turned and watched as he approached me, grinning insanely from ear to ear and cutting chaotically into the pews on his sides.
“What the hell has come over you,” I murmured as I climbed to my feet.
“Nothing has come over me!” he screamed, stopping his advance, throwing back his head and cackling maniacally. “This is me! The true me that I’ve kept hidden for years! Oh, how liberating to finally release myself from that prison. To be able to show the world who I truly am!”
“You’re insane,” I growled, I couldn’t keep this up for much longer. I could barely keep my feet as my knees constantly wanted to buckle from under me, every inch of me hurt like a bastard. I had to continually fight my churning stomach and the horrid need to vomit.
“Am I?” he exclaimed. “Or am I the one who is truly sane? Master Edracian is going to change this world Attelus. This universe, for the better! He’s going to destroy the primitive stupidity of the Imperium of man and replace it with a far greater one! One that knows its place! One that will worship the almighty gods of chaos as it should! As humanity truly needs!”
I spat on the floor, “I don’t know what the hell humanity truly needs, but it sure as hell doesn’t need to worship chaos.”
Feuilt somehow grinned wider and pivoted his head to an almost unnatural angle, “then the master is right, you truly are a fool who deserves to die.”
The next millisecond he was sprinting and slashing. I weakly parried then stabbed back, but he merely weaved out the way.
Feuilt struck, cutting down, a blow which I drunkenly stumbled away from.
He grinned, “you’re pathetic,” he said then kicked me straight in the chest.
I flew for Emperor only knows how long, but it felt like forever. When I finally hit the ground I rolled, head over heels, finished on my front then my face smashed hard against the stone. Horrendous agony speared through my head, and I saw stars. But despite being dazed and woozy, I was able to realise I no longer held my sword quickly.
Fighting my weak, flimsy limbs, I began to crawl to my feet as quickly as I could, glancing around in search of my sword. All the while the laughing Feuilt slowly approached.
I finally found my sword, deactivated and lay amongst the bits of destroyed statues down the left side pew.
Finding I didn’t have even enough strength to stand. I began to slowly crawl toward it, blood running thickly down my face from my forehead into my eyes.
“Still not giving up!” Feuilt yelled. “I swear by the ruinous powers, you’re the most stubborn little worm I’ve ever met!”
I made it to the end of the pew, and with numbed fingers grasped my sword. Using it as a lean-to to climb onto my knees.
Feuilt stood at the other end of the pew, shaking his head with contempt.
“My master, the great Edracian, he knew you would make it here,” he said as he started to walk. “He knew you would somehow scarper through all the daemons and yet he ordered me, and only me to guard the Conduit. Now, the only reason and the only I can think of was that he knew, he knew without a shadow of a doubt that I’d protect it, that I would win! That I was superior to you in every conceivable way!”
I really wanted to say, ‘perhaps he thought you were expendable’, but wisely refrained.
“If only you could see yourself!” he roared. “Battered, beaten, exhausted! Pathetic! You wouldn’t stand a chance against me even at full strength! You’re nothing! Nothing! Give up! What can you possibly, do!”
“Improvise,” I hissed and desperately threw the piece of a statue I’d been holding behind my back.
It hit him right between the eyes with a sickening, crack! Immediately I was running, all the while Feuilt was screaming, rocking back in pain, I impaled him through the chest.
Feuilt gasped, his eyes widened with shock and surprise.
With one tug, I tore out my sword, and Feuilt collapsed limply to his knees. His sword fell from his grasp and clattered onto the floor.
I picked up his sword and started to stagger toward the Conduit.
“You really are your father’s son,” coughed Feuilt, which caused me to stop in my tracks, my eyes wide with surprise.
“What?” I stammered, “you know my father?”
Feuilt gurgled out what sounded like laughter, “of course, everyone in our line of work knows Serghar Kaltos. But most only know of Serghar Kaltos. I knew him, he, he.”
Feuilt was interrupted by a coughing fit, and I could see blood splattering onto the floor in front of him.
“Your father, Serghar Kaltos he taught me everything I know.”
I stood shocked, unable come up with a coherent reply.
“Now I understand why Edracian made me guard the Conduit alone. I now see, why. Attelus you must see Inquisitor Edracian isn’t what he seems to be, he’s, not what you think, he’s, he’s...”
Feuilt never got to finish his sentence as suddenly he went completely limp and fell onto his face.
I stood for a few seconds, trying to process Feuilt’s words. Was he lying? Perhaps, but something in me just knew he was telling the truth.
While shaking away the confusion, I turned and approached the conduit I knew that in any second I’d collapse and lose consciousness.
I activated Feuilt’s powersword and with all my remaining strength, struck the stone. Feuilt’s blade cut through it with surprising ease. The black and red hurricane flickered a few times then disappeared and the blood light with it.
I dropped to my knees and smiled, then fell onto my side while my tired eyes flickered open and shut repeatedly.
“You owe me you bastards,” I said, then everything went black.
My eyes almost immediately opened and a blinding light met me in my eyes which caused me to squint and raise my forearm to cover my face. Warmth suddenly flooded my limbs, and the pain of my injuries was gone. Then I heard the sound of singing birds the very familiar sound of a particular bird that I haven’t heard in a long time.
I suddenly sat up straight as the realisation hit me, finding myself in the familiar backyard of a very familiar house. On my left was a small, one-story building made of plasterboards which were painted a welcome white and the roof; corrugated, grey painted metal. A trench was dug into the bank which weaved around the house like a pathway. The yard sloped slightly with the hill and was about a good seven or eight metres wide before it finished into the thick bush that covered the valley all around.
It was my old home, the place I lived in northern Velrosia as a child before moving south to Varander. By the Emperor, I missed this place sometimes, back when life was simpler. For me anyway, now I knew that my father was struggling, barely scraping enough money to pay the rent, to survive. My father had very few skills outside of killing but one, he worked as a house painter, an excellent painter but was underpaid, that was one of the many reasons why he’d left me with my mother when I was a toddler, so he could support us with his far better income from his “assassinations.”
Until he came back when I was four and found...
I shuddered, I didn’t ever want to remember that. There was a good reason why my mother and I didn’t get along, and it wasn’t just because of our opposing ideologies.
The sound of soft footsteps approaching my back made me suddenly straighten, turn, reach for my sheathed sword and stand.
The Eldar, Faleaseen towered over me, still in her esoteric form-fitting armour but her helmet was off now, showing her attractive, thin face, her large eyes gazing down at me with amusement, her thin lips curled in a contemptuous, slight smile.
“Oh,” I said, but not moving out of my combat stance and keeping my hand on my sword. “It’s you.”
Faleaseen frowned, “I searched your memories for a place you held dear and thought I would reward your efforts with it. You do not sound terribly appreciative.”
I frowned back, the way she said it was like an owner giving a small treat to their pet canine.
“Uhh, thanks,” I sighed and sat back down. Strangely feeling the need to meditate, even though I’d never meditated in my life. This place made me feel extraordinarily at peace. It wasn’t my backyard but an extremely idealised version, I knew. I’d remembered it almost always was overcast or a cold wind blowing, very rarely would there be a perfect day like this.
“I don’t need a reward,” I said as I reached into my jacket for my Lhos. “What I need, is to know whether my friends have survived.”
Quickly, I found my Lhos were still gone and grinned guiltily up at the Farseer. “Uhh maybe one, reward would be good.”
The Farseer groaned, and with a wave, a packet of Lhos was abruptly in my grasp.
“And uhh a light too would be good.”
With another groan and wave of her hand, I had a lighter.
“Thanks,” I said genuinely, then with finger and thumb, slipped a Lho between my teeth, lit it and took a very long inhale then exhaled with great relish.
“What is the saying that you Mon’keigh have?” said Faleaseen. “Simple things...”
“For simple minds yes, yes, I know, I know,” I said, blowing out more smoke and enjoying the warmth in my lungs. “You got any idea what happened to my friends?”
“Yes I do but not as of right now,” replied Faleaseen and I could detect an undercurrent of anger in her tone. Or was it frustration? Which was interesting.
“I am limited at this point in time,” she said and I waited for her to continue her sentence, but she didn’t.
“Yes, limited, human, you do not need to know more.”
“Of course I don’t,” I sighed, inhaled again then exhaled and shrugged to myself, well I was “human” now. I guessed that was better than “Mon’keigh,” which now I thought about it, sounded somewhat similar to “monkey.”
Faleaseen ignored my sarcasm or didn’t seem to notice it and began to pace in front of me, her hands clasped behind her back.
“You are aware this is far from over, Mon’keigh?” she said.
I sighed out smoke again, well I was back to being “Mon’keigh” now.
“I never thought it wasn’t, Edracian is still out there, somewhere, Feuilt was only a lackey. Which interested me.”
“Why? Because Inquisitor Edracian did not have more forces to guard the conduit?” Said Faleaseen.
“Hmm, yess,” I said my finger and thumb stroking my thin chin. “You’d think something so important would be more guarded, wouldn’t you?”
“Unless it was not actually that important,” said Faleaseen. “What if it was not that important to the larger scheme?”
“Or perhaps, perhaps he just underestimated us?” I suggested. “Let his ego get the better of him?”
The farseer’s face scrunched in contempt, and she shook her head.
“I am utterly sure that is not the case. A useless suggestion.”
“It is no matter; it just is, Mon’keigh.”
I sighed heavily and rubbed my closed eyes. Remembering the conversation I’d heard between the Farseer and Glaitis while asleep. Glaitis’ frustration was incredibly uncharacteristic, and now I understood why.
“Okay, I’m sorry, I just thought it’d be a potentially plausible explanation.”
“Well, it is not, now move on, Mon’keigh.”
“Okay, okay, can I ask you a question?”
“It depends upon the question.”
I waited for her to tell me to ask it, but Faleaseen just stared down at me.
I sighed yet again and asked anyway; “what exactly did you do to my body?
“I replaced your pathetic, broken bone structure with a material my people call, Wraithbone. Many, many cycles ago I was once quite the Bonesinger. I had travelled a long way through the webway to save your insignificant little life. You should appreciate what I did more.”
Exhaling more smoke, I glared at her.
“Why? I would rather risk you and your entire race, than me and any one of my fellow Eldar. That’s what you Mon’keigh are, simple tools, tools for us to exploit. Let us say that your enemy, Inquisitor Edracian is my enemy also.”
I clenched my jaw and shook my head, so I’m again, just a tool, a slave of this, Farseer. I’ve just traded one master for another? Faleaseen, she must’ve placed something in me that’d make sure I’d be completely obedient to her. The old axiom “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” was true until that original enemy was defeated and then what?
“I have foreseen what may happen if the Inquisitor’s plans come into fruition, my Craftworld will be affected by it, but if my people directly intervened, it would cause worse destruction beyond your furthest imagination. That is why I am using you and Glaitis as my agents.”
“So, if you can foresee so far forward, why did you let us get caught off guard?” I growled.
Faleaseen sneered with disgust, “because my sight is blocked, I have followed your fates countless times, and I can only see yours up to your confrontation with the Elandria girl, everything else is a blank.”
I barely held back a smile; I could see her frustration and anger as clear as day. She’d been outmanoeuvred by Edracian as well. Being outdone by a simple “Mon’keigh” must’ve hit her ego hard.
Faleaseen studied me with a furrowed brow, and I wondered if she was reading my every thought.
Shrugging I said, “do you know exactly what Edracian’s plans are?”
The Farseer closed her large eyes and breathed deeply through her nose.
“Again, I do not know. All that I can ascertain is that he is collecting souls. Billions of Mon’keigh souls from the planets he has destroyed, to a place that I cannot find. For a purpose that could be countless in potential.”
My eyes widened; “souls?”
“Indeed, that is yet another reason why I am keeping my warriors from direct intervention as I fear the consequences if he got hold of any Eldar soul stones.”
I frowned, I didn’t really believe in ‘souls’ I’d always figured when we died, there’d be nothing but blackness. Despite what the church taught us.
“For you Mon’Keigh, it is most certainly ‘blackness’,” said Faleaseen, making me blink. “Your souls are too weak to endure long in the warp before losing conscious thought entirely. Us Eldar can endure, but, for, but for.”
Faleaseen trailed off and glanced around almost guilty, “but I will not say anything more on that subject.”
Well, this was different, the secret of life after death, a mystery that mankind has been searching for, for countless upon countless generations revealed to me by this Farseer as simply as a scholar-teacher stating how to pronounce the vowels of low gothic to five-year-olds. Of course, she could be lying.
Faleaseen just smirked.
“Do you know what’s happening?” I asked. “I mean to me, in the real world?”
She rolled her eyes and sighed, “of course I do, you are being transported via vehicle back to that puppet Taryst’s tower. I am speeding up your metabolism to make your body heal faster. Soon the main conflict will arise, and I will need you amongst it.”
“Y-you can do that?”
She smiled, “I can do much to you. Wraithbone is a psycho conductive material, you are, effectively, a conduit for my psychic power and only my psychic power which I can use on you when even thousands of light years away. This is why I am able to talk with you now.”
“Can you tell me who’s alive? What about Karmen? Is she okay?”
“The Karmen woman is fine if that gives you any solace. She is searching for the source of the psyker she battled. That may be where Inquisitor Edracian located.”
I sighed, then my suspicious attention shot back to her.
“How do you know all this?”
Faleaseen sighed, “I guess I should tell you this, as you may need to know, Karmen Kons is also one of my agents.”
I gaped, my eyes widened, and my heart sank, but quickly everything began to make sense, the how and why Karmen knew what she knew. But why didn’t she tell me? Why did she lie to me?
“Does-does Glaitis know that Karmen works for you?”
“No, she does not the reason why Glaitis did not kill Karmen Kons when she had the chance was because I ordered her not to. I foresaw the one called Estella Erith’s involvement in the events leading to this and made sure she was here at the right time. She was once a member of an Inquisitor’s retinue, but my warriors and I ambushed them during one of their missions. Killed her comrades and I took her in. Taught her the true strengths of her psychic potential, then placed her under Taryst’s employee. If only I foresaw the Feuilt’s betrayal or your kidnapping then this would not have come to pass.”
“There, there really is no such thing as coincidence,” I gasped, wondering just how much of my life the Farseer had influenced behind the scenes.
“Wise words, I will concede,” said Faleaseen.
“A wise Axiom, I’d say,” I said while sighing out more smoke. “Especially for me.”
Faleaseen smiled, “indeed so.”
Quickly I climbed to my feet, flicked away the stub of my Lho stick, slipped my hands into their pockets then walked passed Faleaseen and looked around.
“Well, I’ve gotta say you did a bloody good job of recreating my old home,” I said.
“Of course I did,” said Faleaseen. “Would you expect anything less from me?”
“I don’t pretend to ever know what to expect from you,” I said and clutched my hands behind my back.
To my complete surprise, Faleaseen suddenly burst out in laughter.
“Perhaps, perhaps there is hope for you yet, Attelus Kaltos.”
I wasn’t sure what to make of that comment.
“You wouldn’t know who else made it?” I said.
“Despite everything, everyone you know survived,” said Faleaseen. “The main casualties were the criminals under Brutis Bones and the Magistratum agents under Arlathan Karkin, only a very few survived, less than a fourth of their original numbers.”
As much as I was glad to hear that my friends were all okay; those Hammers, Magistratum enforcers were innocent, they didn’t deserve the fates dealt too them.
“Do not feel sorry for them, they are mere insects, nothing more.”
I glared over my shoulder at her, disgusted, yet unsurprised.
Faleaseen sighed, “there are billions of Mon’keigh infesting the galaxy, losing another thousand or a million more is not going to make any difference. They are dead there is nothing left you can do for them, move on. You have much more to go through before this is finished.”
“Do you have any compassion?” I asked earnestly. “Don’t you feel a little bit sorry for those people?”
“No I do not,” stated Faleaseen coldly. “All things die eventually, without exception. Those killed by the daemons would have died later under some other circumstance at a later date no matter what you do. They were destined to die and be pointless in the larger scheme of fate. Be grateful you are not one of them.”
I sighed yet again and placed the palm of my hand on my face.
“Yeah, well now I’m exceptionally grateful,” I said. “I couldn’t be any more grateful; in fact, I’m so grateful if I was anymore grateful I’d explode. That’s how truly, greatly grateful I am.”
“I am not unaware of sarcasm, Mon’keigh.”
“I never thought you were, Farseer,” I snapped.
Faleaseen shook her head and folded her arms across her chest.
“You should be grateful because you lived over them, you survived to be able to stop more of your kind from dying. Not one of them were as capable as you for stopping Edracian’s plans,” said Faleaseen.
“What?” I said with a shrug. “You stroking my ego now?”
“No, Attelus Kaltos,” said Faleaseen. “I am stating the truth, an irrefutable fact.”
“What makes me so special? I’m not any better than any of them, any human is capable of doing great things and who knows? Perhaps if I died and someone had taken my place, any one of those Hammers they may’ve done a far better job? Perhaps Edracian would be dead and this whole debacle over months ago?”
“Now you are just speaking rubbish, I have foreseen...”
“But you haven’t foreseen crap!” I interrupted. “You admitted something is blocking your farsight any further! So how do you know!”
“It is because I am here to guide you and without my direct guidance no one would have a chance.”
“Direct guidance, bull shit!” I snapped. “You haven’t guided me through crap!”
Faleaseen just smiled.
Then it hit me, “wait, that wasn’t Karmen helping me, it was you wasn’t it?”
“Yes, it was me, I thought at the time; you would be more willing to co-operate if it was her.”
I clenched my jaw and bawled my hands into fists as anger raged through me.
“Yes, I deceived you, you should be used to that by now, but if I had not you wouldn’t be alive now, dead along with those pathetic beings you care so much for, what is that saying? ‘The ends justifies the means’. I would certainly say it did in this case.”
“I bet you’d say it would in every case,” I replied.
Faleaseen laughed again and smiled, “you are truly an entertaining little Mon’keigh, are you not?”
’So what now?” I sighed.
“Karmen will return, soon with the information needed,”
“You think she’ll succeed?”
“She will, her skills are beyond that of a normal human psyker,” said Faleaseen. “I have taught her everything she knows.”
I frowned, and my attention fell to the ground hoping like hell that the Farseer was right.
“Any other questions?”
“No,” I said and shook my head. “Just please, please don’t pretend to be Karmen like that ever again. I will do whatever you tell me, just don’t deceive me like that. I’ve already been tricked and manipulated in my life enough.”
Faleaseen smiled, “I understand, Attelus Kaltos. I will from henceforth refrain from such manipulations. I will just resort to psychic torture to get you to do what I want.”
I looked at her with wide, terrified eyes.
Faleaseen bellowed out laughter, “I am joking! I am joking! Do not look so scared! Anyway, I think it is time for your awakening!”
Almost immediately the bush, the valley around me began to phase away into white.
Her “joking” didn’t give me any comfort, no comfort at all.
With a sharp gasp of air; I awoke and glanced about, finding myself strapped down to a gurney in a medicae vehicle. Karmen lay on another gurney next to me, her face still bandaged and to my relief, her chest was rising and falling as she breathed.
“You’re awake,” came a voice behind me and I craned my neck to up to see the medicae who worked for Brutis Bones. The old man stood near the door to the driver’s area, holding onto the side table to keep his feet. I’d already forgotten his name.
“Well, yes. I am aware of that,” I said while moving in my bonds as best as I could. Finding there was no aches or pains, or anything, I was fine.
I cannot do this often, Mon’keigh, Faleaseen’s voice cut through my thoughts. Healing you and directly communicating with you. It takes too much of my energy. I’m afraid I must leave you, for now.
I sniffed loudly and frowned, not at all upset about her departure. Assuming, of course, she wasn’t lying and was now just watching me, to see what I’d do when thinking she wasn’t. There were many, many questions left unanswered with the meeting I had with her. I’d say it’d caused more than before. Much, much more.
The medicae smiled and shook his head, “yes, yes I’m sure you are.” Please, please don’t struggle so much, your injuries...”
“Are fine,” I interrupted. “I’m fine, can you tell me what’s going on?”
“I’m not sure, from what I know it seems Brutis Bones and one of your colleagues have brokered an alliance and as we speak we are travelling to Taryst’s tower,” said the medicaes. “I was told that you have a proper medical facility where I could treat you and the woman properly.”
“There is, but I’m fine, I swear,” I said. “Now can you let free?”
Without any word, the medicae suddenly approached, pulled out a small medical auspex and scanned me over.
“Hmm,” then he looked at my hands. I still wore the torn, destroyed gloves but the blood had dried and the wounds closed.
“I-I don’t quite understand, how did you heal so quickly?”
“I don’t know,” I whined, I was starting to feel anxious now. “Can you let me free, please?”
“I have never seen anything like this before,” said the medicae, seemingly ignoring me. “Maybe I should run a few tests.”
“Let me out!” I roared, struggling harder against the restraints and began to hyperventilate with panic. “Let me out now you son of a bitch!” I roared.
“You must understand, young Mr Kaltos that I’ve never seen this before. It’s unnatural, you’re unnatural.”
A cold shiver of fear crept up my spine as his use of “Mr Kaltos” reminded me unnervingly of Feuilt.
“I am a medicae, and as a medicae, it is my duty to decipher and understand human anatomy. It is also my duty to find any mutation, any deviance in our genetic structure and to find out in great detail, the how and why. And then whether this deviation is potentially a threat to the Imperium of mankind and believe me, according to the teachings, it almost always is.”
I looked up at him, wide-eyed, “so? What? You’re just going to cut me open now!”
The medicae frowned shook his head then much to my surprise, suddenly opened my restraints.
“No, no I am not,” he sighed. “I was told about what you did, what you went through to stop the daemons. I could also tell after examining your injuries. I owe you, we all owe you, I will spare you in exchange for that. I will also not inform Inquisitor Tybalt of your unnatural healing. I’m sorry I lead you on like that, but I needed you to know how hard this is for me.”
I sat up on the gurney, “th-thank you.”
The relief I felt was beyond belief, this medicae was putting his life on the line to protect me, and I couldn’t even remember his name, but yet I still had these thoughts in the back of my mind; he was going to tell someone eventually anyway, whether it was through interrogation or some other circumstance. Perhaps the best thing I could do was to arrange for him to have ‘an accident,’ make sure he’d never tell.
I clenched my teeth and shook away the thought.
“There is no need to thank me, it is the very least I owe you,” said the medicae. “Just please, do not make me regret it.”
“I won’t,” I stammered, trying to keep the guilt from my voice and quickly changed the subject. “How is she?”
The medicae frowned, “she is stabilised, she will live.”
I sighed and looked down at Karmen, “do you, do you think she’ll be able to use false flesh to cover the scars?”
“Yes I think she can,” he said. “She is a lovely woman; it is a complete tragedy to see such beauty destroyed.”
I couldn’t contend a reply, as the horrific image of Karmen tearing her face apart flashed through my mind. I closed my eyes to hold back the sudden tears and clenched my jaw. By the Emperor, I wished I could forget that. I wished I could’ve stopped her sooner.
“Are you alright, Mr Kaltos?”
“Yeah, I’m okay.” I sighed and rubbed away the tears. I was tired, damned tired. I needed a good, hot cup of recaff. “Just, really tired is all.”
The Medicae smiled and nodded, “of course, after all, you went through. I’m not surprised.”
I rubbed my eyes again, then my stomach suddenly growled, violently and the pain of extreme hunger ripped through me.
“And hungry,” I added. I’d eaten just before we’d left for Brutis Bone’s base, but that was hours ago. I’d already had a freakishly fast metabolism, even after the most substantial meals I was hungry within an hour or two, but after Faleaseen had sped it up even more. I must be on the brink of starvation.
“Any food in here?” I stammered desperately.
The medicae’s eyes widened briefly, “hmm I’m not sure, I will look for you, but I doubt it” he said then started to search through the draws.
Just then I felt the medicae vehicle slow then swerve to a stop and I gazed through the small back window, seeing Arlathan’s Magistratum van following us, and after that one of the black limousines, we’d travelled to Brutis’ base inside.
Two faces abruptly appeared in the windows, and both back doors opened. The two orderlies jumped into the vehicle. Without sparing me a glance, they picked up Karmen’s gurney and carried her out.
Immediately I was up and running after them, into the parking lot, ignoring the Medicae yelling my name and pushing through two of Taryst’s mercenaries as they approached the vehicle.
In the under covered parking lot I saw six more medicae vehicles and around a dozen other patients wheeled toward the doors.
At the doors two more mercs stood holding them open, waving us through.
I was jogging alongside Karmen’s gurney, and I looked at her, she was still as limp as a corpse, but still breathing.
It was then I noticed that the two orderlies were looking at me with shocked expressions.
I grinned, realising how strange it must’ve been.
“I-I’m alright,” I said. “I’ll take you to the medicae area, follow me.”
They only nodded dumbly, then picking up my pace I ran through the doors and into the white, brightly lit corridor.
As I led them, my mind began to wander, allowing my instinct to take me to the medical area.
So many questions, so so many, why did Edracian want to take poor Elandria’s corpse off world? And where? What would Edracian want with all those souls? Why were they going somewhere else and not to him? And again where? Why was Feuilt sent to guard the conduit alone? Why did Karmen not tell me she also was working for Faleaseen? Did she know that Glaitis was also working for the farseer? Also, why didn’t Faleaseen communicate properly with me earlier? How was her view ‘limited?’ Did my father really teach Feuilt “everything he knew?” So was Serghar Kaltos involved in this? I knew my father worked under an Inquisitor but not the Inquisitor’s name; perhaps he did work under Edracian. But why wasn’t I ever told this? Seems like a pretty important piece of information for me to know. If my father was here, on Omnartus that might mean, that might mean.
At that thought, I felt my chest tighten. My father, I haven’t seen him in seven years. Seven frigging years. Was my dream going to come true? So much was foreshadowed by that dream, my fight against Elandria and the meeting of Karmen both came true. So my battle against Serghar was entirely possible, but to be able to fight on such even terms against someone lauded as one of the greatest assassins of the sector? And not just that come out victorious? Was I already that good? I doubted that, highly.
Still, on instinct, I turned left as we came to a T junction.
Just then another thought hit me and hit me frigging hard, making me actually stop in my tracks. If Faleaseen could pretend to be Karmen’s voice in my mind, what was stopping her pretending to be me? To make me think things I wasn’t actually thinking? Like that voice which forced me to move when I almost gave up with exhaustion. Was that her? What if I was no longer me, what if I was Faleaseen just pretending to be me?
“Uhh, you okay?” called one of the orderlies, knocking me from of my train of thought. “We have to keep moving.”
Slowly, I looked over my shoulder at them, my mind a mess of fear.
“I’m sorry,” I stammered and began to make myself to move, forcing the fear away. Now wasn’t the time for that line of thought, not with so many lives in the balance. I couldn’t continue to think like that at all. In fact, or else my sanity would undoubtedly be destroyed, I’d have to have faith that my thoughts were mine.
I started to run again while grimacing and sticking out my tongue in disgust, “faith,” as much as I hated that word it was the only one I could aptly apply to it.
As much as it was dull, repetitive and hard I was missing the earlier months of this job; I missed the simplicity of it. I’d wished for something to happen, for it to change and advance besides moving from Hammer hideout to Hammer hideout, killing and killing. I should’ve been careful what I wished for.
In silence I led them through the building, struggling to keep my mind clear and concise from any thought.
According to my wrist chron, It took about a minute to arrive, but it felt like a frig load longer.
As they gave me nods and thanks, the orderlies wheeled the injured through the doors, with them were a dozen armed mercs I’d never noticed were following us. Watching Karmen constantly before she disappeared from view.
With a tired sigh, I approached the nearest seat and dumped myself onto it.
My stomach groaned with hunger, and I had to fight the fatigue as it instantly threatened to overwhelm me.
Placing my face into the palm of my hand and wondered, how did all this happen? How did Edracian manipulate us all so frigging well? The only plausible explanation I could think of was he could also see into the future, perhaps even better than Faleaseen. He was a psyker even though, apparently not being one before. Perhaps, he’s using those souls he’s collecting to make himself a psyker? That along with what Feuilt claimed, making pacts with the ruinous powers?
Either that or he was just an amazing planner, but that I genuinely doubted, to outmanoeuvre an Eldar Farseer, to be able to pull through such a convoluted scheme would need some farsight. It’d be impossible otherwise.
My stomach growled again making me groan. I needed food and caffeine, badly but I couldn’t bring myself to leave Karmen.
“Attelus?” came a small voice down the corridor, causing my attention to suddenly snap to its source, a young, pretty and freckled redhead girl stood looking at me curiously. She carried under her arm a folder of letters. I recognised her as one of the many, many mail delivery attendants who regularly worked throughout the building. I’d talked to her a few times before but couldn’t recall her name now.
She began to approach her large, blue eyes full with concern, “are you okay, Attelus?” she stammered. “What’s going on? I saw all the gurneys being wheeled here. I don’t understand.”
I stared at her, unsure how the hell to respond my mind reeling through many different potential answers, whether to lie or tell the truth. In the end, I decided on saying. Something I’d rarely admitted to many.
“I uh I’m sorry, but I uh have forgotten your name, I’m sorry.”
She smiled with her full lips, “my name is Adelana.”
“I’m sorry, Adelana,” I stammered while shaking away the tiredness. “I just have a terrible memory for names, never been good at, that.”
Adelana shrugged, “it’s okay, I forget things all the time too.”
“Well, you remembered my name,” I pointed out.
She smiled again and tapped her head, “well, it’s my job to remember names.”
I frowned and eyed her suspiciously, that may be true, but I knew I’d never got any mail before, she wouldn’t have had to learn my name, not ever.
“Mind if I sit?” she asked.
“No! No, of course, I don’t!” I said.
She sat down next to me; it was then I realised she was gorgeous, why hadn’t I remembered her? Well with all the attractive girls working here it seemed hard to tell one from another.
“You look terrible,” she said bluntly.
It was my turn to smile, and I rubbed my eyes, “yeah, I could imagine. I’m tired, really, really frigging tired.”
“I can see, and I see you’ve been through some rough times.”
I sniggered, “yeah, you could say that. I’ve been through a lot. You alright? You sure you should be sitting here talking like this?”
She grinned, “let’s just say I’m on my break, an unofficial break, so no and yes.”
Sniggering again I shook my head, I was really beginning to like her.
“Hey, Adelana, can I. Can I ask you a personal question?”
A look of bemusement crossed her face, “uhh sure, okay.”
“You don’t smoke, do you? I could really use a smoke of Lho right now.”
“No, no I don’t,” she said, smiling slightly and shaking her head. “I didn’t know you smoked, Attelus.”
“I do,” I said. “I really do, like a frigging chimney. Adelana, do you...Do you know what I do for a living?”
“No,” she said, “but I can guess, you always walk around with that armoured jacket on and have that sword, you’re some type of mercenary? Like others here hired by Taryst. Am I correct?”
“Yeah, yeah you are,” I said and I couldn’t help wonder what she’d think of me if she knew the truth. Of all the people I’ve killed, of all my manipulations and...
I raised my eyebrow as a thought hit me. Adelana must’ve known about what I did to Vex, yet here she was still sitting here talking to me utterly unafraid.
“Well, I’ve better get going,” said Adelana as she suddenly got to her feet. “My ‘break’ is about to end soon.”
Without thinking my hand suddenly shot out and grabbed her by the sleeve.
“Attelus?” She stammered.
“Thank you,” I said, “and I’m sorry.”
“Sorry? Sorry for what?”
“I’m sorry I can’t tell you more and thank you, thank you, for sitting here and talking to me despite what I did.”
She shrugged, “it’s okay, I thought you looked like you needed someone to talk to, everyone needs that, despite everything.”
I smiled, “can I walk with you?”
“Yeah sure, just please don’t get angry and strangle me.”
My heart sank, as a sudden shock of pain shivered through me and I snatched back my hand.
“That’s a joke, let’s go I’ve got to get back soon.”
I dumbly nodded and slowly pulled myself to my feet.
She was only half joking; she must’ve said it to gauge my reaction. She must’ve.
We began to walk, our footsteps echoing down the corridor.
“Where do you want to go?” she asked.
“Uhh to the cafeteria, I need, food,” I slurred.
“Well I’ll take you there, it’s a bit of a delay, but I don’t mind.”
“Yeah, don’t worry about me.”
“I won’t strangle you. I swear, I wouldn’t.”
I looked back at the doors, whatever happens to Karmen will happen with or without me waiting in the corridor. I just hoped she’d be okay.
“Whatever happens, happens,” I said.