The observatory is thankfully empty when I enter it. This is good I need space and privacy in which to work. I enter and put the room onto privacy, my codes mean that only a handful of people have the authority to unlock it and that suits my purpose just fine. If something goes wrong here then I do not want to risk anyone else in it.
I sit cross-legged on the floor, the cool feel of the metal beneath my body is oddly reassuring, a good grounding point. I carefully peel my gloves off and lay them to one side, they will get in the way here. I pull out my Imperial Tarot, the cards are a familiar warmth in my hands. They have been touched by only one other Psyker than myself, my daughter, and that is the way it will stay. Over the years they have built up a resonance with me, it helps me attune and focus my gifts. Unlike the wild talent of my empathy, my prescience is a more awkward ability and a method of channelling that gift helps a great deal.
There’s a long moment where I close my eyes and slow down my breathing, emptying my mind of any thoughts that might distract me from my purpose. I shuffle the cards up, letting them fall where they will in the deck, muttering a prayer as I do so that the God-Emperor will drive my efforts.
One flick of my hand and the first card falls to the floor. It shows a planet broken and ruined, the Shattered World. I pause, this is not the best sign to start with. But does that mean we will fail, or are the cards telling me what might happen if we do?
I pull another out and lay it next to the first. A gasp escapes me, the armoured figure crushing Terra in his right hand, the Despoiler. It could represent the Archon, a significant threat to the Imperium in this sector, unless there is another that will make itself known? I would prefer the first, the thought of there being something else that is an immediate threat is not something I particularly want to contemplate.
Another card, this time the sword, a sign of violence to come, not that I really needed the cards to tell me that one. The sector lies under threat and a war is definitely upon us, hopefully not a long one. The cards have not given me much, but they are only supposed to be a focus after all.
I close my eyes again, my hands still resting on the cards that I drew out. My breath fogs now, the air around me grows colder. I imagine that the windows are crusted over with ice, but as my mind ranges out that detail grows dim and unimportant. I need to sound out the possibilities of what is to come, I want to know what the Dark Eldar are planning so that I can stop it before anymore souls are lost.
* * *
I am running down a hill with my power sword drawn. There are others with me, I recognise Hark, Brad and Hypatia nearby. It is dark, it’s hard to see very far in front of my face so I cannot tell who else is here. There are sounds up ahead, a few minutes more of running and we crash down into where they are coming from.
They come out of the trees suddenly surrounding us. Impossibly tall, Dark figures with spiky armour. My blood boils with rage and a primal sounding scream rips itself out of my throat. The months of practice with my powersword have not been wasted as I cut down one of them, being wounded in the shoulder as I do so. I spin to engage another when a sharp pain enters my midriff and as I look down I see a blade sticking out of me. Blood gurgles out of my mouth and I sag to the ground as the Dark Eldar behind me pulls their sword free.
Somewhere close by someone screams but the world is fading from me until everything goes black.
* * *
The feel of my own death rattles me for a moment. I can sense the pressures of the warp trying to use it to gain leverage over me. I have had long years of practice and Inquisitorial training however so I shrug it off. This is not the first time I have seen the possibility of my own death and will not likely be the last, even in this scrying.
It takes but a moment for me to gather my scattered concentration and start again. My mind pushes out, trying to wrest another glimpse of what might await on Varyaga.
* * *
I am standing in a clearing with the feel of a blade against my throat. In front of me are a number of people I recognise, I see Brad and Lady Captain Tryskellan, as well as Ghost, Hark and Doc Mkoy.
“Let me leave or I swear the Interrogator will die.”
My blood runs cold. I know that voice too well, since the saturnalia I have heard it all too often when the nightmares come. It is the Archon who stands behind me, who has my life in his hands.
“Understand that if any of you trades anything for my life then I will kill you myself.” My voice sounds steady, confident. My eyes meet those of Ghost and I nod very slightly at him. He nods back and as he raises his gun I know that he understands me perfectly. The round takes me cleanly in the head and I know as I die that the Archon will follow close behind me.
* * *
The second death does not sting as much as the first. Partly because I have invoked so much of my training and partly because it is a death that I am happier with. My life for the death of the Archon is a price worth paying. I do not wish to die but if that is to be my death then I accept it willingly.
I focus for a moment. So far I have still not gotten a proper sense of what the Archon is planning. Why Varyaga? Why now? If I am truly to stop him I must find some clue, something I can use.
* * *
An intense battle is raging all around me, people are wounded but still up and fighting. Dark Eldar are falling and being pushed back and it is clear that our forces are winning the fight. Out of the corner of my eye as I turn I see a figure trying to escape the battle. From what I can see it looks like the Archon. I yell to alert the others and set off in pursuit. I am not the fastest runner but I was close to his position so I crash into him, my sword giving him a nasty gash across his shoulder. He turns to engage me and as we circles I realise that the others are following but there will be come few seconds before they reach him in which I am all alone.
If I back off now I will let him escape so I make a decision to stay, whatever the consequences. I shift to acting as defensively as possible. I know I am not good enough to kill him, all I need to do is go to keep him from escaping till the others get here. He is desperate and so much better with a sword than I am. The first second involve me barely managing to keep my guard up and the strength of his blows will tire me quickly.
I grit my teeth, parry after parry, but I am outclassed and I know it. This reminds me briefly of my sparring with Tollman, knowing all too well that I am going to lose. The inevitable happens, with my right arm tiring from his blows my next parry comes up a second too slowly and his blade buries itself in my stomach.
As I collapse my last thoughts are that I hope I bought them enough time to get to him.
* * *
That one was harder and I gasp as the vision ends. I am sweating now and blood is leaking from my eyes, nose, ears and mouth as the warp energies wrack my body. I am still holding together though the pain makes it somewhat harder to concentrate. Still I haven't found what I seek so I grit my teeth and push on.
* * *
It's a struggle to stay focuses now and I am starting to lose some control. Flash after flash of visions hit me, it is difficult to sort through them but some fragments stay with me.
A room full of torture equipment that I recognise only too well. Pathetic looking human forms lie sprawled and broken on many of them. I walk among them, my gloves off as I touch their cheeks and look into their eyes. Again and again I shake my head and a bullet is put through their brains. No survivors, none that would count as such anyway.
A settlement at night, it looks peaceful until you see the dark figures approaching. They sneak in so quietly and then are suddenly in the houses. There are the sounds of screams as people are rousted from their beds and rounded up. The human population looks terrified and are easily cowed into climbing aboard the Dark Eldar vehicles. A few try and fight back, some that look like ex Imperial Guard and another who is clearly a local Arbite, but they are cut down easily and they leave as quietly as they came.
Groups of Dark Eldar enter the records hall of an Imperial town. They seem to be searching for something, something of great importance to them. Fragments of their speech catch my ears, their dialect is hard to make out, something about a garden?
More flashes start to come faster. I see myself die a dozen times, most of them pointless or obscure. I watch my friends die around me, see some of them being kept hostage and tortured. I see the Archon triumph, I see him fall. The images go faster and faster and I scream, on the verge of losing control entirely.
With the last expenditure of my will I break off contact with the warp and pull my mind kicking and screaming back to my body.
* * *
I fall to the floor as I regain myself. Blood is streaked down me, staining my clothes as I lay gasping. I pushed myself to the limits and I am all too aware of how close I came to losing myself. I am not even entirely sure it was worth it. So many potential futures it is impossible to know which might come about, or even if any of them will.
But I had to try, I must use every trick in my arsenal to put a stop to him. If this failed then I have other ways. The Exodites have been hunting them for a long time, they might have some knowledge on what their dark Kin are planning. Even the Craftworlders may be willing to provide some information.
Whatever they are after on Varyaga I will find out what it is and stop them from getting it. Or I will die trying, but I much prefer the first option.
- Sorcha of the Clan Ships
- Posts: 298
- Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:01 pm
- Location: London, UK
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