Thursday, July 28, 2011

Radical: Remembrancer

This is Radical part X.  For more check the table of contents here.

I had never before laid eyes upon the Eldar, and immediately I could see how so many had fallen under their sway over the millenia. They stood before us in that clearing, tall and graceful, their armor all smooth lines and slow curves. There was something dreamlike about them. As their leader approached, Kane turned back to us, raising his hand. “Sisters, lay your weapons down. We have no quarrel with the Eldar today.”

He spoke in a manner I had never heard him use before. Usually Kane was a bit gruff and to the point with his speech, but in the presence of these xenos he seemed to have, for the first time, taken on a more respectful tone. I could understand that. There was something in the essence of the Eldar that seemed to command respect and awe. I think if I had been anyone other that a daughter of the Emperor himself I might have fallen into that trap myself. Instead I kept my bolter trained on the nearest of the Eldar, ready. Kora seemed conflicted for a moment, but knelt and laid her stormbolter down into the mud, though her eyes never left the Eldar themselves.

Kane smiled at her and turned to the Eldar. He opened his mouth to speak, but one of the xenos moved with a speed I had never seen before, and the butt of its rifle cracked across Kane's face and brought him staggering down to one knee. He gagged as he tried to rise, finding the barrel of the Eldar rifle shoved so far into his mouth that he gagged, bile spilling over his lips. Kora's reaction was instantaneous. She leapt forward to the inquisitor's aid, but faster than the eyes could see another of the Eldar brought her down. It crouched over her prone form, holding a knife to her throat. I could do nothing, the remaining three xenos had their rifles trained on me and I had no doubt that their reflexes would see me dead before I could even twitch my finger on the trigger of my bolter. Still, we are an order founded my martyrs and I was prepared to do my duty when a new voice broke into the clearing.

The words were in a language that was beyond the realms of humanity. It held none of the holy structure of Gothic, but instead rolled through the air like a symphony, all tones and crescendos mixed in with short, sharp syllables which seemed to exist more as percussion than language. The syllables kept time to the music of the language. The speaker emerged from the trees almost like a ghost. She was female, too eerily female and so close to human. Her armor seemed light, but was bejeweled and covered in alien runes that drew the eye in a disturbing fashion. She wore no helmet, and her features would have been considered beautiful on any human woman, even with her pointed ears and too sharp cheekbones. Her very presence sent chills down my spine and I silently recited a prayer of purity.

The eldar who held Kane hostage spoke back to the woman in that same language, and she raised her hand in an authoritative gesture. Reluctantly the xeno removed its gun from Kane's mouth and took a step backwards, leaving the Inquisitor. The one atop Kora didn't have the chance to release her. Kane's first action, before even rising, was to thrust his hand out towards it and a blast of light burst the xeno's torso like a balloon. As what was left of it collapsed to the side Kane moved. The bolt pistol he'd taken from Kora smashed into the elegant helmet of the Eldar who had taken him hostage. As it fell Kane's sword swung around and tucked itself under the xenos' chin. It was a credit to Eldar reflexes that its head was not split open at that moment, but it caught itself at the last moment, the disruption field of the power sword sizzling off the chin armor of the xeno's helmet. “Farseer,” Kane growled, the bolt pistol now trained on the female Eldar. “There are certain things I will not tolerate.”

Kora had gotten back to her feet and taken her stormbolter up, but neither of us fired. Something in Kane's tone told us that we were to do nothing until he gave the sign. The Farseer, as Kane had called her, seemed suddenly agitated, but she made no move except to draw a double bladed sword almost as tall as she was. “Inquisitor, I'm afraid that there are certain things that even we Eldar, in our infinite patience, have trouble tolerating as well. The genocide of our people and the murder of our families is one of those things.”

“Whatever grudge you have against me for what I did to your home does not extend to these sisters. They surrendered,” he said.

The Farseer raised her blade into a fighting stance and lightning crackled down the blade. I felt the telltale signs of the witch and immediately changed my aim. My first bolt would go through her head. “I will hear no talk of mercy from you, World Killer. I was there when you lead the charge up the steps of the nursery. I would tear the souls from the bodies of your women and send them to The Great Enemy if it would make you suffer.”

At this Kane seemed to crack the smallest of smiles, “But you won't. You're no assassin group, not here. You're here for the old ones. The metal men. And you need me.” His teeth flashed, almost predatory, and the Farseer took a step backwards. “I know how you work, Eldar. You never do anything without a reason. You know that I'm needed here, and you had to come and make sure that I do whatever it is that I need to do. So what is that, Terthia?”

“You speak my name as if you know some great secret, mon-keigh. I know your future, Inquisitor. I have seen it a dozen times. It's why I didn't kill you on those nursery steps, and it's why I don't kill you now.” She sheathed her sword then waved her hand at the other Eldar, who lowered their weapons. “So, Inquisitor Isimbard Kane, Daemon Slayer, World Killer, Traitor, Heretic. You have a task to complete.”

At this Kane faltered just slightly, and in his moment of distraction the Eldar poised at the edge of his sword leapt back a safe distance away. Kane ignored him. “So tell me then, wych. What do the fates have in store for me?”

The Farseer shook her head, “You will see, soon enough. What you must know right now is how the Ancient Enemy might be defeated. They can not be allowed to spread from this place.”

“What are they?” I turned as Kora spoke up, and Kane gave her a sharp look, but she continued. “I've never heard of anything like them.”

“They are worse than you can imagine, young sister,” the Farseer said. “You have devoted yourself to fighting chaos, the realm of emotion and the failings of us all. These are far worse than that. Chaos is all wrath and lust, sloth and envy. It is seductive and terrible, but it can be understood. Within us all lies the heart of chaos, and in knowing it, we can defeat it. The Ancient Enemy is nothing we can ever understand. It is death and the void. It is nothing. The metal men are soulless beings given life by their ever hungry gods. They eat life and leave nothing but death in their wake. Only oblivion follows in their wake.

In ages past we Eldar fought a great war against them, but we were not strong enough. We were on the verge of defeat when a new weapon was created. This weapon could find the Necrontyr wherever they hid and destroy them. Their ancient fortresses fell, their temples collapsed, and they were driven to their tombs where we sealed them for what we hoped would be eternity. Now their tombs are being discovered again, and the Necrontyr are rising from their crypts, ready to wage war on the galaxy once again.”

“A weapon against the Necrontyr?” Kane said, astonished. “I've never heard anything like that. None of the stories mention anything of the sort.”

“If you would have it,” the Farseer said, “Then I would give it unto your command, Inquisitor.” Something in her tone, alien as it was, gave me pause, but Kane didn't seem to have noticed it. There was something in his eyes, something crazed. “We have brought it to this world so that the Necrontyr might be once more driven underground, but only you may wield it properly. I have seen it. Go West from here, Inquisitor, and meet your destiny.” The Farseer bowed her head once, then gestured to the other Eldar. As one they began to fade back into the forest, and Kane let them go.

Kora stepped forward, finally wiping the xeno's blood from her armor, “What the hell were they talking about, Kane?”

He sheathed his power sword and led the way out of the clearing, heading the opposite way as the Eldar. “I'm not sure. But if they're right then we don't have any time to waste. Whatever weapon they've brought we need.”

“Can we trust them?” she asked.

“No,” Kane said matter of factly. “And yes. She wasn't lying to me, that I know for sure. The Eldar never lie when telling the truth serves their needs just as well.”

As I walked along behind them, trying to figure out what it was that the Farseer had meant, I noticed that the rain had finally stopped. I looked up towards the sky and saw an orange glow beyond the canopy of the jungle, as if the sky were on fire. Then a sound louder than anything I had ever heard before blasted the jungle. The trees shook and I was thrown to the ground as the very air hit me like a hammer blow at the base of my neck. Dazed, I climbed to my feet, and felt the rain once again falling down. A moment later I was tossed again, picked up like a doll and thrown through the jungle. Trees shattered and snapped all around me. I hit one, saved from breaking my back only by my power armor, but my helmet impacted hard, and everything went black.

I awoke later, not knowing how long I had been out, pinned underneath a fallen tree trunk. With a shove I managed to push it off of me, my power armor doing most of the heavy lifting, and I climbed to my feet, dazed. I pulled my helmet off and winced, seeing the deep crack in the ceramite from the impact with the tree, and I tossed it aside. The rain still fell, but that was the only thing recognizable about the terrain. As far as I could see in all directions the jungle was gone. Only fallen trees and torn up ground filled what I thought was a deep valley. It was only when I looked to the west that I realized I was not in a valley, but a crater. A meteor the size of a mountain stood in the very center of the impact zone, still smoking and on fire in places, molten rock pouring off of it in great waterfalls. Then came the sound. I was, at the time, astonished to find I could still hear, but that momentary relief faded away almost immediately. Things were moving on the meteor; thousands or tens of thousands of shapes, too far away for me to make out anything but their movement, but the noise they made, that traveled all the way out to me, clear as day.


So ends the ninth passage of the Personal Record of Palatine Regina Winterfield concerning the fate of Inquisitor Isimbard Kane.

No comments:

Post a Comment