Secret War: Warhammer 40,000

Chapter 25

Sickening, unnatural blue light coveted the surroundings, and even still Etuarq laughed.

As quick as a cat Darrance darted back, for all the good it’d do.

I closed my eyes, that was all I could do. I was too exhausted, too exhausted even to move my pinkie finger, but this it wasn’t just exhaustion, no. It was more than that it was as though my very soul was drained, Faleaseen’s shield, it must’ve done this to me. That on top of my actual fatigue, all those hours, all this time, pushing myself to my very limits. Fighting.

But now it was all for nothing; we were dead, defeated, no destroyed, completely and utterly. Inquisitor Etuarq had won, and he was right. I was nothing, nothing but a pawn. A pawn who’d passed his use by date.

A pawn who deserved to die, I felt the overwhelming heat in my face.

“Karmen! Now!” I heard Brutis roar, and as fast as it expanded, the horrifying heat began to go away.

+What!?+ roared Etuarq, his voice shrill with surprise.

Despite myself, my eyes snapped open, and I gasped at what I saw.

I was right, the blue globe of fire had retracted, writhing and raging against some invisible force.

I felt the heavy footfalls approach and saw Brutis walk past, his hands raised forward.

Brutis grinned over his huge shoulder at me.

“Heh! Sorry! Forgot to tell you that I was a psyker to!” he said.

My eyes widened.

+And I apologise, Attelus. I lied! Came Karmen’s voice. +I hadn’t actually used all my power!+

+NO!+ roared Etuarq. +Why didn’t I foresee this! Why! Won’t! You! Just! Die!+

Brutis’ attention snapped back to the explosion.

“Did you think us stupid?” he snarled. “Did you think we didn’t see this for the blatant trap it was? I don’t care who you are, nor how powerful you are! You will not win, you will be found, and you will pay for your crimes! I am a servant of the God-Emperor of Mankind; I am a weapon of His will! And everyone here! Everyone who’ve fought tooth and nail to get this far, they are as well! Every one of them has earned my respect and trust and His too I trust! Even ‘little Attelus,!’ And I swear, I will not stand back and let any more of them die! The Emperor’s will is with us!”

Etuarq’s reply was just more shrill, insane laughter.

+Attelus,+ said Karmen. +It doesn’t matter the why or how you were born; it doesn’t matter what this Etuarq claims. You are nobodies puppet! You are you! Nothing will change that! Nothing! You are one of the strongest, most amazing people I’ve ever met! You survived in the ruins of Varander, you survived against the Arco Flagellant and saved those people! If you can survive that you can survive anything! Keep going! Keep fighting! I know you have the strength! I know it!+

I smiled and slowly began to climb to my feet.

“Thank you for the great, amazing, awe-inspiring speech, Karmen,” I said. “You could compete with Brutis’ in that department, but I didn’t need it!”

Brutis grinned at me, “Attelus! Anything you want to say before we send this scum back whence he came?”

I threw back my head and bellowed out a loud laugh, so loud that Etuarq stopped his, this despite my sore, raw throat. “Yeah! Hell yeah! I’d like to thank you, you son of a bitch! For so long I’ve struggled for a purpose in life! Something to truly fight for! And finally, you’ve given it to me! I’m gonna hunt you down, and I’m gonna stop you! Once and for all, even if it’s the last thing I do! But before that, I’ll stop this Exterminatus! Screw you and screw your fate! I’ll do it for Elandria, for Castella and most of all, for me!”

Brutis laughed, “you could’ve been a little less cliche, you know? But I’ll give you points for the spirit! Karmen!”

I frowned, and who was he to accuse me of being cliche? Bit of a double standard, I’d say.

+Got you!+

No longer could I keep my feet and I collapsed to my knees as together they roared and the explosion shrunk and shrunk. Still writhing and rumbling and struggling.

Then, two people appeared on my flanks and helped me on my feet, laying my arms across their shoulders, and I was shocked to see it was Verenth and Selg.

“Yeah! Up ya get,” said Verenth and we watched as the explosion slowly faded into nothingness.

+You’ve done well my little puppets,+ said Etuarq; his voice was fading with the light. +But it makes no difference you will die with Omnartus now matter what you do!+

Then he was gone, and the church was in darkness, the only thing left of it was the deep, five-metre wide crater in the floor.


“Is it, is it dead?” asked Selg as Brutis “Bones” approached.

Brutis shook his head wearily, “no, Selg. We just sent him and his witch explosion back into the Warp.”

Selg nodded as Brutis activated his vox link, “This is Inquisitor Tybalt, Edracian is defeated I repeat. Edracian is dead we are victorious.”

Dead In more ways than one, I thought.

I am tired; I must return to my body, said Karmen.

“Now what?” asked Verenth.

“Mercs are still holding floors six through eight,” said Brutis. “The elevator’s active and we are transporting troops up and soon will have enough strength to catch them between us. We’ve still got fighting to do.”

“Great,” I sighed. “Of course we do.”

“No, I think yours and Darrance’s struggle is over,” said Brutis. “You’re in no condition to fight anymore.”

I sighed again as Darrance approached, with Hayden helping him walk.

“Do you...do have an ecclesiarchy priest?” asked Darrance, his face dark

Brutis furrowed his brow and folded his arms, “yeah, he’s back at Taryst’s tower, why?”

I gasped, and my eyes widened, realising what he meant, then had to fight back the sudden welling tears.

“Our friend,” managed Darrance. “She...died, she was deeply religious, followed the Emperor and that. I think she deserves a proper send off. She gave her life to stop that...thing. She died in His service. She was the best of us, and now she’s dead.”

Brutis stood in silence.

I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore as they freely flowed.

“Please,” I hissed. “Darrance is right. I know so many have died other than her and I know we were enemies. But please. She’d have liked that, please give her this! She was like the sister I never had.”

“Where did she die?” asked Brutis.

“There,” said Darrance, pointing.

Brutis nodded and began walking to the rubble.

Darrance yelled, “her name was…!”

“I know her name, Darrance,” Brutis interrupted. “I made the effort to learn all of your names! Her’s was Castella Lethe; it seemed a fitting name from what little I knew of her.”

I nodded, and we followed him.

“I’m not a priest,” said Brutis. “But I am an Inquisitor, the next best thing, I guess.”

“Yes,” I said. “Thank you.”

“Boss,” said Verenth with uncertainty.

“Verenth!” said Brutis. “I know time is short and know she’s one of them, but I feel I’ve gotta do this, anyway she wasn’t one of them who killed so many of us. It won’t be long.”

He looked over his shoulder, “besides once finished here I’m gonna have this place levelled if it’s going to happen, it’s going to now.”

For a few minutes, we stood in respectful silence as Brutis recited the Litany of The Emperor’s peace, his hands raised over the rubble. It was a rushed version, but Brutis never left anything out and the entire time tears flowed down my face. I hadn’t been to an ecclesiarchy service since before the war on Elbyra but still remembered when to say the responses. Usually, I would’ve mouthed it, but for Castella, I wouldn’t show such disrespect.

Once he finished, Brutis turned back, approached me then much to my surprise placed his gauntleted hand on my shoulder.

“For a cold-hearted merc killer, you seem to cry a lot,” he said, smiling and looking as haggard as hell. “She must’ve been close to you, I am sorry.”

All I could manage was a nod.

Brutis stepped past me, “alright! That’s enough! Selg! Take your men and scout the rest of the tenth floor! Hayden! You’re with them! I doubt there’s anyone else up here, but we’ve got to look anyway! The rest of you with me! We’ll take Attelus and Darrance to the elevator so they can get back and we’ll rejoin the reinforcements there! Move! Move!”

Selg slipped away, and another Hammer took Hayden’s place helping Darrance.

“Thank you,” I hissed as we walked to the exit. “Your name is Verenth, right? Thanks.”

Verenth clenched his teeth, “I only do it ’cause the boss ordered me to, nothing personal.”

I sighed and said, “I’m sorry about killing your brother, I am truly sorry. But...but I only did it because my boss ordered me to, as well. It was nothing personal also. I’m not trying to justify it, and I do deserve your anger, but there are others who are far more deserving of it than me.”

“Yeah, like who?” he growled.

“Inquisitor Etuarq,” I answered without hesitation. “it was all because of him that this happened, it was because of him, so many have died. He manipulated us all; he manipulated all of this. I would’ve suggested Taryst too, but he’s already dead.”

Verenth said nothing.

“I’ve suffered much to get here,” I said. “I’ve been through hell, Verenth.”

“Yeah? Like what?” he growled. “I doubt it has anything on having to mourn your younger brother.”

“I wouldn’t know,” I said. “I’m an only child, but I do know what it’s like to lose a mother and that was hard as hell. How about just after finally getting up the courage to confess to the girl that you loved, that you loved her, for her to be shot in the back, then she bled out in your arms? Just after a life and death fight with her? Or the woman who was like a big sister to you just being crushed horribly, abruptly under a falling pillar? Or how about finding out you may be indirectly responsible for the potential deaths of billions? Or…”

“I get!” said Verenth as we finally walked out onto the stairs. “I get it! But that doesn’t make up for…”

“No!” I Interrupted. “I never said it did, but I suspect before this is all done, especially now with this new revelation, that it’s just beginning. That I’ve got a shit ton more trauma to go through before this is done, but if I have to go through that so someone else doesn’t have to if I have to go through that so that maybe, one day I will earn some forgiveness from those I’ve done wrong. I will, and I will bear it. So you can hate me all you want, it’s fair enough, I understand. Please don’t kill me. There’s still much for me to do. Once I’m done, once I’m finished, and if you don’t deem it enough, then you can put a bullet through my brain, and I will let you. And perhaps, by then, I’ll even welcome it.”

Verenth smiled, “if that’s the case, then you’ll never be done, and I’ll never get to blow your head off.”

I laughed despite myself, “I’ll be done if I end up crippled and destroyed in the process. Confined into a wheelchair or whatever. Then I suspect I’ll truly welcome that round.”

Verenth said nothing, just clenched his jaw, perhaps the idea of him killing me without me minding didn’t appeal. Fair enough.

“What are you?” asked one of the Hammers. “Some kind of masochist or something?”

“Perhaps,” I said with a shrug, genuinely surprised a moody Hammer knew what a ‘masochist’ was. “But I never said I’d enjoy it.”

“You’ve changed,” said Darrance.

I looked at him, expecting he’d say more but he just stayed silent, his attention fixed forward.

We were the last out, Brutis leading the way, Wesley on his flank and the Inquisitor reached to his ear.

“Gerral, we’re about meet you at the bottom of the stairs, stand ready,” he said.

Brutis paused and held up a hand for us to halt.

“Gerral! Respond!”

Brutis waited for a few seconds before glancing at us, grim-faced he shook his head then waved an advance.

Slowly and in surprising silence we walked the stairs, everyone but Darrance and I with weapons raised. We reached the end of the curvature and saw the corpses, ten of them, all cut apart by a power sword. There was no sign of weapons discharge, no smell of las-fire or gunpowder, no holes or scorching in the walls.

I didn’t like this, to take out ten men, even lowly Moody Hammers like them, without even one getting off a shot? And with all the lights intact? They were good, really, really good; my question was why hadn’t they struck until now?

With points of his fingers, Brutis ordered the Hammers to fan out. I could tell Verenth wanted to move up too, but we were forced to watch on.

The Hammers surprisingly calm secured the perimeter, covering the corridors with their assortment of guns and Brutis reached for his vox.

“This is Inquisitor Tybalt, I’ve got ten men dead on the ninth floor. Professional killers, none of my men managed to get off a shot, power sword wounds. We’ve got more assassins it seems, three maybe four, watch out.”

“One,” said someone and everyone looked to the voice’s source, it was only then I realised it was me who said it.

“What?”

“There was one killer,” I said with certainty. “Inquisitor Etuarq said he was delaying for when someone special was going to enter the building, who would be that special?”

Darrance’s eyes widened, and he flinched with realisation, “shit! She’s here! Glaitis is here!”

The light above Brutis and the Hammers suddenly smashed out, leaving them endowed in darkness and I could hear a slight clatter as what I guessed was a throwing knife fell to the floor.

Immediately the Moody Hammers opened up, the light from their weapons revealing everything in blinding flashes of white, despite Brutis bellowing to cease fire.

Two on the right abruptly cried and reeled then collapsed, knives jutting seeming appearing in their chests, then another two on the left, with blades jutting from the bases of their skulls.

I would’ve shouted a warning, but there was no way they could hear me over their roaring weapons as Glaitis was suddenly among them, dual swords slashing she gutted another two. A third tried to bring up his Lasgun, but she kicked him in the face so hard the crunch! Managed to eclipse the roaring gunfire around and the poor bastard collapsed like a ton of bricks.

She threw another two knives, one impaled the eye socket of a Hammer the other, Wesley ducked.

With a roar Brutis dropped his bolter and drew his elaborate powersword, igniting it as Glaitis activated both hers and he barely managed to smash her slashes aside, he would’ve been unable to parry her following thrust if Wesley’s shots hadn’t forced her to dart back.

It all happened so fast that Verenth only now had slipped me off and drawn his auto pistol. My limbs were like lead so without complaint I collapsed onto the stairs, as did Darrance as Verenth’s colleague unslung his Lasgun and desperately they tried to get a clear shot at Glaitis.

“Don’t,” I said with finality.

“What?” snarled the other Hammer.

“Don’t even try,” I said. “If you shoot, you’ll only draw her attention, and she will kill you. You’re way over your heads here; I’m sorry to say.”

The Hammer gritted his teeth but nodded and hesitantly lowered his weapon, but Verenth didn’t.

“I can’t just stand here and watch!” bellowed Verenth.

“You can and you will!” I snapped. “You’ll only get in the way! That I assure you. Right now those two are the only ones in any condition to stop her. As much as you want to help, helping them will only do more harm than good.”

“Yeah! And what about you? Would you make a difference?” snapped Verenth.

“Of course I would,” I stated, “but I can barely move, I’m no help to man nor beast.”

“How can you be so frigging calm!” he roared. “I heard you panicking like a little girl in the elevator shaft! Don’t you wish you can help!”

I grinned, and it must’ve been more than a little unnerving as it made both Verenth and the other Hammer to flinch and exchange fearful glances.

“Of course I do,” I said. “This is the first time in a long time I’ve seen her fight, and I’m pretty sure…”

“Sure of what?” Verenth stammered.

“If I were to fight her, even one on one, I’d kill her,” I said. “It’d be hard fought, the fight of my life I’m sure. But Feuilt was better than her, Elandria was better than her, not by much mind you but even still. She’s spent too long sitting idle at her desk scheming and planning, I’m afraid. She’s lost her edge. Oh, how I wish beyond wish that I could help. I really, truly do. To be the one to end the infamous Glaitis, to be the one to finally kill her, oh what a privilege that’d be. To truly prove I’ve finally surpassed her in skill.”

“You’re messed in the head,” Verenth said. “And more than a little bit frigging terrifying.”

“I am,” I said, “I really, really am.”

Verenth furrowed his brow yet still, very hesitantly, lowered his weapon.

Glaitis flipped and wheeled through Wesley’s shots then lunged at him, slashing horizontally for his head. Wesley, with surprising speed, leaned back, just out the way, then sidestepped her thrust, while attempting to smash the butt of his Stubb revolver into her insane, grinning face. But she cartwheeled back and pirouetted just in time to parry Brutis’ vertical cut.

He rallied and cut horizontally, she ducked it and countered with an awe-inspiring cavalcade of feints, slashes and stabs. I could tell Brutis Bones was quite skilled, he’d practised for years, perhaps decades, but compared to a dedicated sword wielder like Glaitis or me, he was an amateur. So it was all the more impressive he wasn’t sliced to ribbons, he managed to parry a few but was forced to back step most of it, some attacks were just too fast, slicing gashes in his armour which drew blood. All the while Wesley reloaded his stub revolver.

Both Verenth and the other Hammer watched on, their jaws twitching and fidgeting in impatience, although they weren’t quite able to follow it.

Brutis, reeling and bleeding from the onslaught, with a bellow desperately slashed diagonally after parrying Glaitis’ thrust. She weaved away, then sidestepped his viciously powerful front kick. Finally, Wesley was finished reloading his Stubb revolver, and his shots sent Glaitis darting and winding. She snarled and threw a knife which flew straight and true, smashing Wesley’s gun from his grasp.

Roaring, Brutis was on her, slashing down, Glaitis sidestepped it and spun into a horizontal cut that Brutis barely backstepped. Wesley had retrieved his pistol, and his desperate shots were what kept Glaitis’ thrust from impaling Brutis’ skull.

Glaitis snarled again; I could see she was mad, frustrated she wasn’t able to take them out yet. If Wesley and Brutis could hold out for long enough, perhaps she’d make a mistake, create an opening.

Or at least I hoped she would.

Glaitis darted and flipped through Wesley’s fire as she blocked and parried Brutis’ slashes and stabs.

She should’ve been kept on the defensive, but somehow she was still able to counter. I could see her tactic; she was focusing on Wesley mostly, preventing him from firing at her and wearing him down. She knew she could kill Brutis once Wesley was out of the picture, his Stubb revolver was the more significant threat to her now.

I watched Brutis as he barely blocked her latest horizontal slash, the inquisitor must’ve known he was outclassed, that if it weren’t for Wesley he’d have been dead five times over, yet still here he was, fighting not giving up. I could sympathise with that; stubbornness seemed to be something we had in common.

“Shit!” snapped Wesley as his pistol clicked dry yet again. “I’m out! Verenth!”

Verenth’s eyes widened and after a moment’s hesitation threw his auto pistol to Wesley.

Glaitis ducked Brutis’ counter then cartwheeled his next thrust and darted toward Wesley, immediately seeing her opportunity.

But as she did I saw Wesley smile, and he flicked open his revolver, slid in one bullet and spun to face Glaitis as she came on him. Pistol raised right in her face.

“What the hell is going on here?” roared a voice.

It caused Wesley to hesitate, and he lost his arm from the elbow down because of it.

His scream was cut short as Glaitis’ sliced his torso in two.

My jaw dropped, and my eyes widened in shock as did everyone else while Verenth’s pistol clattered on the floor.

“Wesley!” roared Brutis.

From the left side corridor, “Olinthre” walked into view, looking bloodied and beaten and grinning from ear to ear, with a las gun raised.

“It looks as though I arrived just in time,” It said.

Glaitis smiled but said nothing.

“Major! What the hell are you doing?” demanded Brutis.

“Brutis!” I yelled. “That’s not major Olinthre! Its…!”

“My servant!” Glaitis interrupted with an insane laugh. “The only one with the sense to stay loyal to me!”

“Frig!” I snapped, truly regretting failing to inform Brutis of “Olinthre’s” real identity now.

Brutis’ clenched his teeth as he realised the situation he was in, glancing back and forth between Glaitis and “Olinthre” a few times uncertainty.

“I can’t stand by any longer, sorry, kid!” snarled Verenth as he raised his Stubb revolver and the other Hammer, his Las gun.

I sighed and said nothing, knowing it was pointless to argue, we were dead either way now.

“Aim for the major!” I yelled as an idea hit me, It wasn’t as fast as Glaitis so perhaps they could actually kill it.

“Really?” It said, grinning insanely at us and in a flash of light. It transformed into Wesley, “are you sure?”

Verenth and the Hammer gasped, hesitating.

Glaitis laughed and threw two knives, one stuck fast into Verenth’s arm as the other embedded in the hammer’s shoulder and with yells of pain they fell on their arses.

She would’ve thrown more, but with a roar Brutis was slashing at her, forcing her to cartwheel back.

“I will not stand by and watch you anymore kill any more of my men!” he bellowed. “You bitch!”

He tried to slash again but the Olinthre-thing’s Las fire smashed into him, the burst caused him to reel. In the next second Glaitis smashed into him, knocking him off his feet and to the floor, then he screamed as she impaled his sword arm to the hilt.

Glaitis laughed and flipped back, out of his reach, leaving one of her swords to pin him on his back.

“Well! Be careful what you wish for, Inquisitor!” she grinned. “If you cannot stand back! Then you can just lie back and watch instead! While I slaughter all your pathetic subordinates!”

Brutis roared and reeled and tried to reach for Glaitis’ sword, but Glaitis drew another knife and stabbed it into the soft gap in the elbow of his free arm; eliciting another agonised scream from him.

She laughed again and twisted the knife, “there! There!” she snarled. “Don’t even think about trying to be one of those willful fools who pulls the blade out and continues to fight! Trying to be a hero! You should know that it’s overrated!”

“You! Fething! Bitch!” he screamed through clenched teeth.

She laughed even harder, stepped back and said, ” oh how imaginative! But I guess you are not in a good condition to think of anything better. Oh well! I’ll end your suffering, eventually, Inquisitor. Once I’m done with your friends!”

Glaitis turned and grinned insanely at us, causing both Verenth and the Hammer to cower in fear.

And I couldn’t blame them.

“Mamzel!” said the Mimic as It approached her, still in Wesley’s form. “Great job. I am glad you managed to get me over the vox so I could help.”

“Oh shut up!” she snapped. “I am not in the mood for your arse kissing!”

“Sorry, mamzel!” It stammered, “but may I ask a favour?”

“Yes, what?” she said.

It grinned a disturbing grin that didn’t fit Wesley’s face, “can you allow me to kill the foolish apprentice? I’ll make sure to make it long and painful; he humiliated me! Made me look a fool! Please? Would you, please?”

“No,” she said without hesitation. “He humiliated you, but he betrayed me, turned the others against me. He’s dodged the consequences of his actions thus far, but no longer. No longer, besides...”

“Besides?”

She grinned, “besides, how can you do it, if you’re dead?”

“Wha…?”

Before it could finish, she stabbed It through the chest.

Wesley’s eyes widened with shock and surprise as did mine.

“Why?” It gasped. “I have served you all, my life. I stayed loyal...”

“You co-operated with the apprentice, even after knowing he’d betrayed me!” Glaitis snarled as she twisted the blade. “As far as I’m concerned you are just as responsible as he is. Just be glad that I’m sparing you the same fate I have in store for him!”

She abruptly pulled out her sword, and it fell to its knees.

“Oh!” she said. “I almost forgot, ‘Wesley,’ I have been lying to you, all your life, in fact. You were never a Xenos, an alien. No, you’re something even worse, something even more lowly and pathetic, yes. You are a mutant, a twist, a scourge on society, the lowest of the low. Nothing special at all! So die, die like the piece of gutter trash you are.”

She laughed and walked toward us, turning her back on the dying Mimic as it fell on its face and the pool of blood began expanding beneath it, red blood, human blood. Yet it still kept Wesley Jeksen’s form.

I kept gaping, unable to say anything, to comprehend anything and that was when Darrance walked past me, power scimitar limply held at his side as he gasped for breath.

“Oh?” she said, stopping, tilting her head in insane curiosity. “Darrance? What are you doing? You are in no condition to fight me.”

“I finally see you, for what you truly are,” he managed. “A monster.”

“A monster? Really? That’s a little harsh, especially coming from you,” she said. “Sure, I must admit I’m a little manipulative and cruel, but I was never quite a monster.”

She grinned even wider, “that’s until now, of course. It’s all the apprentice’s fault; it was his betrayal that pushed me over the edge, drove me past the brink and into insanity. It’s because…”

“Shut up!” interrupted Darrance. “Stop blaming him! You always blame others for your own actions, and mistakes, always! It was your own pride that pushed you this far; you were the one who allowed the apprentice to get kidnapped in the first place! You were the one who took him from Elbyra and to here! It’s just as much your fault as his, if not more so!”

Glaitis’ face turned murderous, “you did this to me too, Darrance. My most loyal servant…”

“Shut it!” he snarled. “No one did anything to you! This is your fault! I think this isn’t you being driven insane I bet this is you! The real you! I bet you lost your sanity a long time ago and have been putting up a mask ever since!”

Much to my shock, I saw Darrance had tears in his eyes.

“I looked up to you! Hell! I even think I loved you! But now I realise just how stupid I was; I put you on a pedestal. Lied to myself for so long about who and what you truly were! But I see the truth now! I see you’re nothing but a pathetic old woman who is so overtaken by hate and the lust for revenge there’s nothing else left! I...I”

Darrance clenched his free hand into a fist as tears flowed freely down his face.

Glaitis raised an eyebrow, “so? Are you done now?”

Darrance grinned through the tears, “yes, and I’d like to thank you, thank you for being stupid enough to listen to my rant rather than just killing us.”

Glaitis’ eyes widened, and she turned just in time to dash out the path of the Las fire erupting from the left side corridor.

The fire strafed after her, and she slid to a stop, her power sword a blur of motion as it smashed aside the shots raining her way.

Then I heard the familiar sound of a shotgun firing and watched as she sidestepped through the shot gunshots, all the while still deflecting the laser fire.

Cursing and snarling she darted back, trying to get some range from the shotgun then the attackers emerged into view.

It was Garrakson, Torris and Arlathan. Both Garrakson and Arlathan laid down the constant barrage of with their las guns, Torris with his shotgun.

“H-how!” I said.

Darrance grinned, “as you just sat there watching and looking like an idiot I raised those guys over the vox, told them what was going on. You know, like a smart person would.”

I frowned, “I hope you’re aware I can’t move, not even slightly, right?”

Darrance shrugged, “you still didn’t think of it, did you?”

I just clenched my jaw and said nothing.

Verenth and the other Hammer got to their feet, grasping at their useless, bloody arms and watched with expressions of awe.

“Is she...is she even human?” asked the Hammer.

“Yes,” I said without hesitation. “As much as she wishes she wasn’t.”

Both Verenth and the Hammer furrowed their brows and exchanged bemused looks.

Glaitis snarled, I could she was gasping for breath and slowing down now. Not even she could keep this up for much longer.

I grinned to myself if she hadn’t stupidly killed the Mimic she wouldn’t be in this predicament.

But soon Garrakson and Arlathan would run out of ammo, and I had a bad feeling that’d come first.

As if on cue, almost simultaneously their guns clicked dry then Glaitis was on them.

Her front kick knocked Torris’ shotgun from his grasp, and he barely managed to back peddle her throat punch. Arlathan, reacting with impressive speed, swung the butt of his lasgun at her skull but lightning fast she darted back, then in again and cut his rifle in half. Arlathan countered with a hook punch she barely weaved under, then she threw a roundhouse kick he just managed to block with a forearm, but I heard a crack, and he cried out in pain grasping at his limp limb and stumbled away. Leaving him open for the killing thrust.

Before she could, Torris was on her flank and throwing a powerful front thrust kick, a disparagingly reckless attack that made me involuntarily hiss through clenched teeth.

Glaitis leaned out the way and slashed horizontally at his stomach, forcing Torris to throw himself clumsily backwards to keep from being disembowelled.

All of this time Garrakson reloaded and moved away a few metres. His blurt of las was what kept Glaitis from decapitating Torris with her next attack.

“So finally I get to meet the infamous bitch in person!” he roared.

Glaitis didn’t deign to reply, she only got to full height and eyed him contemptuously.

“You’re the one responsible for the death of Taryst!” he snarled.

Glaitis still didn’t say anything; she just glanced sidelong at the Mimic’s corpse pointedly.

Trying to use Glaitis’ distraction Torris lunged at her, throwing a punch straight at her head, but in the blink of an eye she drew a knife and stabbed him in the arm, before sidestepping and smashing a front kick into his side. The sickening crack of his breaking ribs made me wince in sympathy, and he slid on the floor before stopping, curling up and crying out in pain.

“Bitch!” he snarled and fired another flurry, which she simply smashed aside with her powerblade.

“Could you please say something original? Please?” she sighed, breathlessly.

“Shut! Up!”

“Or what?” she snarled. “You’ll kill me?”

Glaitis threw back her head and burst out in laughter, “do you really think you’re capable of it? I am Glaitis! Master assassin with decades of experience in bloodletting! I have trained my body and mind beyond the capability of normal humanity! You! You are just some pathetic ex-guardsman nobody like the dozens, no! Hundreds of others that I’ve slaughtered over the years!”

Garrakson clenched his teeth and fired again, forcing Glaitis to sprint sidelong his fire strafing her wake.

“How does it feel Jeurat Garrakson?” she yelled. “How does it feel to know you’re incapable of killing the one who is responsible for the death of the one you loved? How does it feel to be incapable of killing the one responsible for the death of your last remaining war buddy? The man who was the only other survivor of your regiment? The comrade who was your commander?”

Garrakson’s reply was only an enraged roar and more las rounds.

“That’s right!” she laughed. “Major Olinthre once of the 801st Cadian regiment! It was my loyal servant who strangled the life from him, just like he did to Taryst! The man you loved! The man who saved you and him from the Nightlord ambush that slaughtered the rest of your regiment!”

“Shut up!” he roared.

“On second thought, I won’t kill you, Jeurat!” she laughed as she darted and flipped through his withering bursts. “Not yet! Along with the pathetic Inquisitor, I’ll make you watch as I kill your comrades, your friends! Marcel Torris! And the apprentice! I’ll make them suffer slowly and die in front of you to make up for you being unable to watch the deaths of Taryst and Olinthre! Once you’re broken, only then will I kill you! It’ll be beautiful! Amazing! Oh, I can’t wait!”

Abruptly Garrakson stopped shooting, ejected the lasgun’s clip and slammed another home despite not being out of ammo. The look of anger and determination on his scarred face was terrifying.

Glaitis tilted her head and smiled, “oh, what’s this now?”

Garrakson clenched his teeth and tears rolled abruptly down his face, “this is for you, Taryst and you too, Olinthre.”

Then he flicked his lasgun onto ‘full auto’ and with a roar, charged firing a constant stream from the hip.

Glaitis laughed, dodging and parrying the shots, “what do you want to die, now?”

Garrakson just roared and continued forward, firing and firing.

“Jeurat! No!” I heard Torris yell.

As he closed in, Garrakson suddenly dropped his rifle and drew his knife, then with one swift stroke, Glaitis decapitated him.

In shocked silence I watched, and it took me a good few seconds to realise I was crying. He was my friend, a good friend who I’d fought alongside for months. A friend who’d tried to help me, a true friend.

“Garrakson!” I roared.

Glaitis stood stock still, grinning from ear to ear, then suddenly she screamed a shrill scream of utter agony and abruptly she fell to the floor. Writhing, trying to reach behind her back.

My shock was replaced by confusion, then I saw it, the bloody hilt of Garrakson’s knife jutting from the base of her back.

For a good ten minutes, Glaitis lay screaming and writhing as she slowly, painfully died. No one moved to put her out of her misery. It was the very least she deserved.

“So passes master Seylit Glaitis of the cult of the Blades of Vengeance,” intoned Darrance. “May we never see her likes in this galaxy ever again.”

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