Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART FOUR UP!]

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim, dark future there is only war.

Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART FOUR UP!]

Postby LordLucan » Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:18 am

New fan fiction. I've not wrote a normal fanfic story in a while. I hope you all like it:

EDIT: New blurb added below.

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Blurb: Kazora has fallen to traitors, led by a mysterious and charismatic monster which called itself 'The Messenger of Fire'. Ten years on, the Imperial remnants fight on hopelessly. Interrogator haubek and his diminished team of acolytes must figure out a way of destroying 'The Messenger of Fire'. But there are other factions at work on Kazoras; heretics equally resentful of the new regime, and a tide of daemons that long to burst forth and consume the planet. Little does Haubek know it, but his team's coming actions will set off a chain of events which no one could anticipate...


Kazora’s Manifest Damnations


Part One – Alone

Thunderstorms had raged across the smoggy heavens of Phacatia for five days, and yet still the clammy closeness of the industrial city hadn’t lifted, clinging to clothes and making one’s skin itchy and irritable with the chemicals dissolved in the rain and humid air.

The city was composed mainly of dark buildings, each little more than a dozen floors high, that interweaved with each other like fungal growths; terraces reaching over narrow streets, pipes and plumbing snaking between buildings, while forests of smoke stacks sprouted up here and there. Everywhere there were factories and workshops of various sizes, fed by the wide urban canals and their wide-bellied barges. On every corner were shops and vendors selling whatever off cuts and produce they could at prices the sour-faced locals might be willing to accept.

In stark contrast to the sprawling dank metropolis, the inner city shone, like a pale silver spider emerging from the soot of a coalfield. Vast towers rose up high into the sky, churning up the grimy clouds with their passage. The central tower, the governor’s palace, was half a kilometre wide at the base, tapering to a point only a few metres. The other towers clustered around it like lesser pipes in a church organ. These silver structures spread out into the city, mercury in the veins of Phacatia as the prosperous inner core spread out month after month to consume more of the city which it ruled.

Yet, the city was busy, full of traders and business men, preachers and charlatans. The glittering inner city was a nest for the endless buzzing grav vehicles that circled it like wasps.

Phacatia, like the rest of Kazora, superficially seemed to be thriving. But this world had no right to thrive, no right to be pleased with its efforts; for it was a world of heretics, who had abandoned their God-Emperor. From his balcony vantage point, Interrogator Haubek watched the city’s starport with dismal loathing. So many miles from the centre, he was at the limit of his magnocular’s range, yet he could still make out the huge supply shuttles for trading vessels docked in orbit. Some were human, many evidently Imperial in make, but other ships were sleek organic shadows, or angular in very inhuman fashions. Truly, the traitors were shameless in their disobedience.

With a sigh, he lowered his magnoculars, and stored them in a pouch on his long coat. Unconsciously, he covered every potential vantage point, and anyone who might have observed him. There had been a child with a rattle four floors down, peering at him guilelessly, a couple fornicating loudly at street level, who would have plainly seen him perched upon the railings if they had cared to look up from their business. There was another man, elderly and frail, who watched Haubek through a twitching curtain. He suspected the man was harmless, but just in case, he’d have Vanil visit the man later to make certain one way or another.

Haubek wore the knee length waterproof jacket and rimmed hat that was the style of an average Phacatian pedestrian during the damp seasons, but his taut, weathered face was a touch too pale and drawn to be native. It would take many more years exposure to Kazora’s sun before he got the ashen tan the locals had. Still, as he made his way back through the streets, he didn’t stand out particularly. He didn’t fear being accosted on these streets in any case; he could kill any of the local foot pads he’d documented in this city block; anyone more formidable wouldn’t likely survive a bolt shell to the face from the weapon concealed in his walking cane.

Home, currently, was a dilapidated bookshop on the outskirts of the industrial quarter of Phacatia. He swept into the musty shop without ceremony, hanging his hat and coat on a mannequin loitering near the front desk. It wasn’t a mannequin of course, but at a glance Grule-17A, the murder servitor salvaged by Endol years ago, could be easily mistaken for one, albeit one with a grinning steel death mask riveted to its head. The shop keeper was a local, Fal something, and he raised his unkempt head sleepily from the desk at Haubek’s approach. The Interrogator waved him back to sleep, before he passed through the beaded curtain into the back. In this portion of the city, illiteracy was rife; it was unlikely any genuine customers would disturb them here. At the rear of the shop, a heavy adamantium vault door barred his passage. Disguised to look like a normal stone wall, the door would have fooled any casual observer that it was no door at all. Haubek slotted in his multi-key, and hauled the portal open once the device clicked.

It had been eleven years since the so-called ‘Messenger’ had come to Kazora; ten years since the shimmering being of living fire had rose up and destroyed the Phacatian Cathedral and burned the Arbites Precinct. It was a full decade since Emeli had screamed her call for Imperial aid into the warp, after Inquisitor Endol’s failed coup to oust The Messenger. And still, they had seen no sign the message had reached its destination, or that the Inquisition or Administratum were even in the position to send forces to reclaim the world. Nothing.

Haubek, and what was left of his team were on their own now. Alone.



Their lair was windowless, illuminated by the flickering lumen globes installed in the ceiling. They shone down upon a random assortment of crates, boxes and cabinets, filled to bursting with supplies, machine parts and foodstuffs in varying states of edibility. Though the den was a surprisingly extensive warren of conjoined basements, it nevertheless felt eternally cramped, as if the weight of detritus might crash in and crush him at any moment.

“Any interesting observances on your sightseeing trip mister Haubek?” a gruff voice asked from behind broken ground-car parts, pilfered mining equipment, and a precarious stack of buns.

“I am still an Interrogator, despite all that had befallen us. I will be addressed properly Sholvo,” he grumbled, snatching a bun from the plate as he passed.

From behind the stack emerged Sholvo. The man was short, with a paunch barely covered by his string vest, scrawny arms, and a permanently grimy face, save for the pale circles around his eyes, where his goggles usually sat. “I won’t be calling you that Haub. Not while you keep stealing my food!”

Haubek paused, and turned to his compatriot, who only came up to the Interrogator’s knee. Ratlings were not the most intimidating sort, but it didn’t do to underestimate them. “And I suppose you purchased this food legitimately yes?” Haubek asked with mocking sweetness.

Sholvo’s eyes narrowed. “Fair point. But you still haven’t told me what you saw.”

Haubek shrugged. “There’s not a great deal to say. The traitors of the inner city are trading with xenos again. By the markings, I would say Farsight enclave representatives.”

“Tau? I suppose it was only a matter of time. Traitors setting up shop on their doorstep is bound to perk their ears up. Aren’t you going to ask me what I’ve been doing?”

Haubek thought for a moment.

“No. If it was something I cared about, you’d have told me first. Thanks for the bun,” Haubek replied, his last syllable delivered through a mouth full of crumbs.

Before Sholvo could say anything, Haubek swept from the room. In another place, another time, a lowborn abhuman like Sholvo would have been killed on the spot or worse, for such insubordination. But Haubek knew the value of the thieving ratling. The larcenous activities of Sholvo had kept the acolyte cell supplied long after their rations and support from off-world had been depleted. It was much the same with the rest of the surviving team; not ideal, but generally indispensible.

Passing into the corridors, Haubek had to duck, his stature a hindrance in the tunnels. Vanil fell into step with him without a word, the only sign of his arrival the shallow hiss of his rebreather, and the clink clink of his metal-tipped boots. Haubek glanced back towards him. Vanil wore his armour at all times, his grey cloak thrown over one shoulder. Markings on his armour made him look every inch the tribal warlord he was, and the chain dagger in his belt only added to this impression. But thought his Athonian roots were written across his body, the man was as loyal and disciplined a Guardsman as any Cadian. By his toil, their base of operations had been expanded, and his skill at arms had saved them on several run-ins with the Messenger’s PDF forces.

“I made a sweep of the tunnels,” Vanil explained, his flat, curt voice slightly muffled by his rebreather. “No contacts. Lair remains secure.”

“Excellent Vanil. How is he?”

“Little change. The succubus has done well to keep him alive this long.”

“Indeed,” Haubek nodded, ignoring the criticism implicit in Vanil’s words. Succubus; that was an apt word for Xeshia perhaps. Another compromise in the name of desperation. “The messenger might be searching for new allies amongst the tau. We might need a plan to accommodate this news.”

“Sabotage talks?”

“Perhaps. A war with the tau might buy the Imperium more time to get here and oust the Messenger finally.”

“I will think of something. The half-man can acquire suitable materials.”

With that, the masked warrior stopped following him, like a shadow receding at midday. Eventually, through the curving, windowless passages of the warren, he found the room he was searching for.

Inside, the harsh lumen strips had been removed, replaced by candles and softer oil lamp lights. Here, the shadows were deeper and danced across the walls. Medicae equipment purred, wheezed and hummed all around him, the various functions of the elaborate devices foreign to him. A large, four-poster bed dominated the far wall of the chamber. The medicae engines clustered around the foot of the bed like fretful family members visiting a frail relative. But unlike relatives, these machines had cables and tendrils that slithered beneath the sheets, and into the withered husk of a man that lay there. It looked as if the soft crimson bed linen might swallow this decrepit homunculus up at any moment. His head moved slowly, his eyes unfocussed and darting.

To his right, a wire-haired scholar in loose robes read aloud from a heavy tome in her lap. She glared at Haubek with her golden augmetic eyes as he entered, before she returned to her work, lowering her voice. Tabithe looked like she hadn’t slept for weeks. She probably hadn’t, he noted sadly.

Haubek approached the frail figure enshrined upon the bed. Without thinking, Haubek fell to one knee, all his authority melting before his master and the closest thing he ever had to a father.

“My Lord Inquisitor Endol, our enduring vigil continues as you instructed. But an opportunity might yet present itself. The perfidious Messenger seeks allies amongst the foul xenos, and I believe we can,” Haubek began.

“Xenos... the xenos specimen must be preserved... my research... The cults are the key... I just need more time...” Endol replied, his voice weak and breathless, confused and unfocussed.

“Yes Lord, the specimen is fine. I know you are confused and injured deeply by time’s arrow. But please understand me; we cannot hide here forever. We must be proactive my Lord. Something is happening, something is going to change soon, I can feel it. If we don’t take advantage of this moment, we might never get another chance.”

Endol’s eyes, for a moment, locked onto Haubek’s. For an instant, he felt the intensity of his master’s former animus, long since fled. His eyes were ice, rimmed with fire. He had been a genius, some might say a radical, but when humanity was threatened, he was as ruthless and driven as the most formidable monodominant. Haubek felt like a novice again, beneath the stern yet benevolent glare of the ancient Inquisitor Lord. But then, as quick as the moment came, it vanished just as quickly. Endol blinked, and began to mutter again, turning to Tabithe, who continued to read to him.

Haubek kept his despair hidden inside, a grim frown settling across his brow.

“I am sorry, interrogator. I can keep his body from succumbing, but the mind... the mind is a different thing entirely.”

This second voice was a soft, feminine purr, low-pitched for a female. Xeshia stood on the opposite side of the bed to Tabithe, who refused to acknowledge her. She wore close-fitting clothes, the texture of oiled sharkskin, and sea green in colour, and arm length gloves in surgical white. But it wa snot her clothes that made her unusual. She was bald, but this in no way detracted from the beautiful structure of her face, or her large, deep almond eyes. Her flesh was tinged with purple, as if she had just held her breath for longer than was safe. She smiled sweetly at Haubek. His expression remained fixed as he rose from his knee.

“The mind is flesh like everything else. It can be fixed,” he stated.

“You telling me that will not make it true Interrogator. He is losing his wits; before long, this old man will be deranged entirely,” she replied in a casual tone, as she checked one of the medicae machines unhurriedly.

“Be careful how you speak about your betters,” Haubek warned her, his voice dark. He hated Xeshia; he hated her more than he hated far fouler things. When he watched her lips moving and her too-long a tongue undulating as she spoke, it enflamed this confusing, conflicted fury all the more within him. Why this should be the case scared him on some level.

She just smiled at his wrath, like an adult humouring a child. “That’s a matter of perspective,” she replied.

At this, Tabithe closed her tome, and turned to glare at Xeshia, who pointedly ignored the scholar’s ire. Her attention was on Haubek. It was always on Haubek.

“Perhaps he isn’t as great as I believe; he made me promise not to kill you after all. What does that say about him?” he smiled mirthlessly.

“That he is a pragmatist, like you. You have no apothecary, save for me,” she purred. “You need me.”

“That isn’t why he kept you,” Haubek replied, his anger replaced by weariness, as he made for the door. “Tabithe; relay my news to the Inquisitor when he regains his senses. And watch she doesn’t try anything. I will be meeting with the others later for planning.”

Tabithe nodded vigorously. She was a young thing really, he noted, but stress and mania had aged her significantly. Haubek spared Xeshia a fleeting glance, who returned it with a wink as he closed the door behind him.

Was he losing the high ground, he wondered. The traitors performed manifest heresies in rejecting the emperor, and worshipping some daemon as a false god. But Haubek, in his desperation, trucked with deviants and monsters, in the vain hope he could still save the day, and still bring the Emperor’s wrath to the wicked ones. His sanctioning of Xeshia had been the final straw for Enforcer Barrus and the Preacher Jonnes, who had angrily split from the cell to fight their own holy war against; last Haubek heard, Jonnes was leading Redemptors in Kalvus city, on the opposite side of Kazora. As for Barrus, who knew? The Messengers warriors grew in power daily, and the Adeptus Arbites of Kazora were not exactly subtle instruments of insurrection.

Haubek returned to his room, a bare space compared to the cluttered chaos. There, he laid back upon his bed, staring at the flickering lumen strip above. How had they lasted so long; a mere handful of failures, clinging to the forlorn hope of Imperial vindication? The traitors had vast armies now, and the support of most of the turncoat natives who were more than happy to accept the daemon king’s promises and shiny baubles. They had nothing in contrast. There was a simple possibility, but it was one Haubek dared not voice, else it become true and solidified in reality. Maybe the Messenger knew of Haubek and his resistance, and it simply did not care. Maybe they were beneath its notice, so confident it was in its own triumph.

“I will make you care,” Haubek snarled under his breath, before sleep reluctantly overcame him.
Check out my debut fantasy novel from Fox Spirit Books, The Hobgoblin's Herald (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hobgoblins-Herald-R-Aston/dp/1910462047). If you've read it, please rate and review it on amazon; I'd be eternally grateful. The sequel, Eater of Names, is out in 2018, so watch this space.
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K]

Postby Anne Marie » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:04 am

Very vivid depiction of the city and the base of operations; I got the idea of a diamond sitting inside a bucket of coal. The oppressive atmosphere seems to be usual with all hive cities, too many people and not enough space for anyone to move. And of course the inhabitants reflect the mood of the city. For Haubek's safe house, there is that sense of it being 'home' with all the things they have accumulated.

The backstory you provide for Haubek and his team there is complex, yet it was managed well, you're direct in the writing and not giving any flourishes that don't need to be there. There's definitely more here that can be done to advance the plot, and quickly!

To the characters: I like Sholvo. I don't know exactly way, maybe because he stands his own against Haubek, but I like his character. For Haubek, the compromises he makes to ensure he can complete the mission. Would I be right in that Xeshia is a Dark Eldar?
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K]

Postby LordLucan » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:29 pm

Xeshia isn't a dark eldar. But neither is she entirely human. I'll be developing her character more gradually as the story goes on.

I'm glad you like it Anne Marie, and I'm glad the things I was trying to get across succeeded somewhat.
Check out my debut fantasy novel from Fox Spirit Books, The Hobgoblin's Herald (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hobgoblins-Herald-R-Aston/dp/1910462047). If you've read it, please rate and review it on amazon; I'd be eternally grateful. The sequel, Eater of Names, is out in 2018, so watch this space.
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K]

Postby LordLucan » Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:35 am

Here's part two for you all. Enjoy:

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Part Two - The Sadist, Frustrated

This was not how events were supposed to transpire, Lord Azios Lepheren reflected, taking another drag from the bubbling pipe, before breathing out a stream of noxious pink smoke through his nostrils. The narcotic cocktail inside the pipe would have turned the innards of a lesser man black, but Azios was not like lesser men.

Languid, he rose from his chair, and strolled through the sense den in a state of undress, a thin bathrobe draped over his statuesque body. Decades of decadence hadn’t so much as touched his flesh, which was pale, toned and lightly scented with blossom extract. His fine mane of blonde hair was thick and lustrous as ever, and his gleaming green eyes were undimmed.

In Azios’ wake, the sense-fiends followed him with their eyes. Their bodies were weak and desiccated as corpses; even the effort of moving their milky eyes was a chore for them. He didn’t spare a single glance towards this rabble of depraved addicts. He felt a wrist break under his heel as he trampled one who didn’t get out of his way. The sad fool could only mewl pathetically, the will to scream eroded by years of substance abuse.

The way out of the pit was a spiralling path around the edge of the circular depression. Eventually, he reached the clothing room at the top. His servant Corayfus was waiting there. Azios raised his arms, allowing his creature to dress him, as his thoughts returned to his vexatious position.

This was supposed to be his reign, his time to bring the cult of excess on Kazoras to its apotheosis. Years of scheming; he had secretly financed sense pits and drug runners across the planet, and smuggled in blasphemous artefacts for as long as he had been on this far flung world. Azios had read the tomes of excess, and had performed acts of such perverse righteousness that the Black Prince, the Jealous she-fiend, had granted him such powers he could have scarce believed when he had first abandoned his father’s dynasty in favour of the search for sensation.

Then, the blind Imperial puritans had fallen. Even better, the newly-traitorous government had then unleashed their daemon against the cathedral of the Emperor Transcendent, and burned its priests in their own pyres. Azios had thought then that the way was clear for him to reveal himself, and spread the way of the aesthete into the ruling nobility that had adopted him for so long.

As he recollected those days, Corayfus carefully bathed his flesh, before slipping his linen shirt over his chest, his grox skin hose and great knee high boots, with their wickedly sharp golden spurs at the ankle. A red belt studded with pearls, elaborate rings for every finger, and his necklace, from which hung a brooch filled with narcotic snuff refined from the bones of some warpish thing smuggled to Kazora at his demand. His suit jacket was white, with subtle silver stitching along the seams; precisely as pure and innocent as Azios most definitely wasn’t.

He had had the world in his grasp; talons of rapturous delight poised to grant these savages exotic and divine majesty. But no, no, curse them! Kazora, damn this world and all its credulous sheep! Their piety and their desire to subsume their will in worship of another simply shifted, from one messiah to another. Governor Ralvian immolated himself before the horrified crowds, but stepped out unburned and reborn, shimmering gold and cyan as a halo of azure fire framed his face. A devil with an angel’s face; so very clichéd a deception, it almost insulted Azioas that such a daemon had pre-empted him. How dare such an artless and unfashionable entity steal his thunder!

As if mocked by fate, Corayfus’s comb snagged his perfect hair as the malformed servant brushed it. Wrathful beyond reason, Azios lashed out at Corayfus, a thumb-ring ripping an ugly gash down the side of the cowering creature’s seal-like features.

“Accursed thing! Leave me; return to the tower, and be quick about it. I want the flect-mirror uncovered by the time I return!” he snarled, and Corayfus bowed and scraped as he fled from his master’s angry sight. Flustered, Azios simply brushed his hair straight backwards, before casting the crystal comb aside with disgust.

From the outside, the sense-pit looked like just an ordinary silver-flanked structure, on the border between the inner city and the great, grimy morass that spread out as far as the eye could see in every direction, like some ugly industrial ocean. He owned hundreds of properties out there in the filth as one of the foremost manufactorum owners on the planet.

His grav car was waiting for him on the moorings outside, flanked by two of his finely-attired household guards, their autopistols subtly holstered in shoulder rigs. They nodded at his approach, opening the rear door for him. Moments later, and the silent vehicle began its ascent towards the great towers that dominated the skyline of Phacatia.

“Driver, take the scenic route. We are in no great hurry, and I am one for beautiful sights in a morning,” he chuckled, before leaning back into the plush fabric of his car and peering out of his window at the unfolding sight.

The inner city was beautiful certainly, but it was the sterile kind of beauty that an architect might appreciate, but it was nothing worthy of passion. The towers were slender and shapely, almost organic in the way platforms and pathways grew from them like leaves from a stem.

Everywhere he looked, there were Kazoran PDF in their gleaming armour of jade and pearl, blank visors robbing them of their humanity. The soldiers had increased rapidly with the rise of the Messenger of Fire. Whatever faults the daemon had, incaution was not one of them. Azioas’ sleek car swept past the Temple of the Omnissiah en route to his tower-top villa. The temple was not like the newer towers that clustered around it like a copse of trees, for it was shaped like a great pyramid, with its peak and northern flank removed, giving it a strangely unbalanced silhouette.

It was strange to see the great cybernetic skull symbol of the sense-blind Martians removed from the titanic structure. The Mechanicus fools had lasted only marginally longer than the Arbites had in the end. They should not have supported the insurrection, in that first year after the fall. If the Magos had been willing to compromise, the messenger would not have turned Kazoras against the Mechanicus. With their factory shrines broken open, and their senior Adepts cooked inside their own inner sanctums, the Temple of the Omnissiah was renamed the Inception Halls, and the Messenger filled them with hereteks, technomancers and logicians gathered from all the dark places of the Eastern fringe. Where once the ugly hunchback priests trotted through the inner city, now stranger beings walked; silver fleshed androids, grey-faced scientists with hololithic haloes of research data, and inhuman creatures clad in exotic armours that enflamed the senses of the unimaginative. It irritated Azios that this world was changing so much, and he hadn’t a hand in any of it.

But he was flexible. Stubbornness and honour were the undoing of the Martians. Principles were for martyrs, Azios smirked cruelly to himself. That wouldn’t be his fate at least. She who Thirsts rarely asked for self-sacrifice from her worshippers. The lust and fornicate was to pray in her church. It was a creed Lord Lepheren was all too willing to preach. He could still turn the situation to his advantage, even after all these years. He just needed to commune with Castratrix.

His grav-car descended onto its personalised lander with avian grace, and he waved off his attendants as he left the vehicle. He swept from the landing platform; his roguish attire and handsome face making him seem like some Rogue Trader hero, fresh from an adventure. His villa was built to look like a living forest of metal flowers, with artificial creepers painted in garish tones coiling around the many fluted pillars that held up the glass ceiling. The artificial and the superficial overtaking and replacing nature; it was a salacious statement, but he was already bored with it. He would have Corayfus tear it all down and build something else next week. Crossing a false steam filled with clockwork eels, Azios sought out the only organic door in the house; an ornate oak door, inscribed with flowing script no one without two tongues could speak aloud.

This was the oldest room of the villa. The walls were mundane stone, etched with further blasphemous symbols. These were warding runes whispered to him in a narcotic fugue by nameless devils. All he knew was that the runes prevented any psychic intruder from peering into his inner sanctum. Fur rugs, leather-bound grimoires and beaded cushions were strewn about the hexagonal chamber with carefully orchestrated anarchy, while tapestries of garish, monstrous hues dangled from mountings in the ceiling. The place reeked of delicious fumes that electrified the senses, so that even so much as brushing against one of the velvet draperies inspired a blossoming wave of pleasure through his veins. It was simultaneously putrid and sweet, like rancid grave-meat blended with the finest pastries and confections man had ever known. He breathed in deeply, and emitted a shuddering exhalation. If he were alone, he might have stood there for hours gulping down the noisome concoction.

But he was not alone. Dangling from one of the tapestry mounts was a man. He was bound by barbed metal bands, forming an inverted cruciform cage. The man was likely one of his sense-fiends, cultivated like wheat from one of Azios’ many dens of iniquity and vice. Gagged, the man’s moaning was a muffled murmur, which seemed to compliment the lilting music that somehow pervaded the sanctum. Beside the doomed unfortunate, a naked servitor with adamantine lashes from fingers periodically whipped the mewling victim. The arco-flagellant had been a gift from the Imperial Church, before they had realised Azios’ true allegiances. Its flails were deactivated, for where was the fun in weapons that would eviscerate a captive quicker than they could even scream? Besides, the cold metal coils were painful enough.

Corayfus shuffled into the room from another, concealed entrance. The mutant creature had the decency to cover his recently-scarred face beneath a cowl, as he dragged in the flect-mirror. Also seven feet tall, it was a herculean task for the wretch, but Azios knew the strange toad-like creature was far stronger than most realised. Azios turned from the slave’s stifled wailing, to watch his servant’s efforts.

With one final panting heave, the mirror was raised, and slotted into the depressions set into the floor with a deep rumble. Casually, Azios plucked one of the books from the floor, and began to read aloud from it. The words were not words, his old muse had told him, the night before he had strangled her. The words were the stuff of the immaterium, rendered into sound. The words crawled out of his mouth, rather than being spoken. The suspended man was sobbing now, as Azios stood before him. Slowly, he knelt to be level with the struggling consumptive’s wide eyes.

He grasped the man’s thin hair gently to hold him still. The man was screaming through his gag now, whimpering as loudly as he was able. Azios shushed him gently. “Calm, calm. Your long journey will be ended soon,” he grinned in the man’s face.

Corayfus passed Azios his serrated dagger from its human leather scabbard. Carefully, Azios drew the blade across the man’s forehead. The jagged blade made a messy wound, which instantly began to drool gore onto the floor. The stream of crimson ran down the grooves in the floor in slender rivulets, forming elaborate patterns as it travelled. The floor was angled imperceptivity towards the flect mirror. The mirror seemed to draw the blood towards it, faster than gravity dictated it should. The dying slave moaned wordlessly as the trickle from his head became a torrent, as if something monstrous were suckling upon the open wound. Azios threw back the sheet which covered the mirror’s reflective face, and his visage was revealed to him instantly.

The pleasant warmth of the chamber leeched away as he gazed upon his own body, posing before the mirror like some dashing hero. But the image in the mirror was flawed. Imperfecitons in his skin were more noticeable, and the chamber behind him seemed indistinct; as if some fog were coiling in around him. Frost spread out in cobweb patterns across the walls, and breath misted from his mouth as he spoke the blessed language of the warp, to complete the ceremony of communion. The tinkling music of the sanctum became more erratic and strange, undulating between piercing frequencies and depthless cadence. Corayfus backed away, covering his sallow eyes with his too-long fingers in dread. He was right to be afraid, Azios grinned, the expression profoundly ugly when reflected in the flect mirror.

Something moved behind mirror-Azios. A segmented tail coiled around his thigh, as something sleek and sickly sweet emerged to embrace him like a lover. She, for it was most definitely a she to his eyes, was both beguiling and terrifying; a seductress and a scorpion, lethal and irresistible. Her supple, naked flesh was powder blue and mottled like an egg shell. Whenever the creature stayed still, it gave the impression of a cold blue maiden, with pert breasts and a waving mane of midnight blue locks that flowed as if underwater. However, the daemoness continued to writhe and grind against Azios’ mirror image, and he felt the daemon’s touch even though it was only happening within the reflection’s depths. And when she moved, the virginal image was spoiled; the tampering edges of her image distorted into horns and ribbon-like tentacles. Her eyes were narrow black slits, her luscious lips set into a noseless face. Like a human on fire, smoke trailed from her form, but this was stifling perfume clouds, that tingled as they touched the mirror image of Azios.

For several moments, he could not speak, for his mouth was suddenly dry.

“Such a delectable treat, my darling beloved,” the daemon purred. Though the daemon’s face was that of a humanoid, when the thing spoke, it spoke via a vertical maw, which bisected the entire face, revealing rows of needle-fangs, and proving the lie of the outwardly ravishing beauty. “Your sacrifices are always to exquisitely tormented as they pass... why have to called upon me lover?”

The daemon’s arms, which bore long glittering shears in place of hands, caressed the mirror image of Azios, stripping his torso of clothes, though the real Azios retained them. For one brief, treasonous instant, he wished he was in the mirror, in the daemon’s lustful embrace. He shook off the cloying sorcery, focussing on the task at hand.

“You occupy the roiling sea of souls about Kazora. There is a powerful daemon here; a power I have scarce seen in all my years debauching and cavorting with your kin. I must know who conjured it and how. What is the Messenger of Fire?” Azios demanded, his voice gaining in authority, which only seemed to make the daemonette smirk patronisingly, as it gently clawed deep wounds into his mirror-self, before licking the blood from her shears with a forked tongue covered in hooks.

“Oh my sweet fool! There are many of we neverborn circling this constellation of souls you call ‘Kazoras’. We flock and swarm and slaver for the feast.”

As she spoke, Azios’ mirror-self seemed to shrink, ever so slightly in her tender embrace, the segmented scorpion tail coiling tighter about the diminishing figure. He ignored this vision as best he could.

“What do you mean? What feast?”

The daemon’s laugh was glass shattering, the screech of mortals burning alive, and the dry, croaking chuckle of an ancient crone; a chorus of discordance. “I forget how stunted the perceptions of mortals are. Delightful! Can you not feel the skein of reality straining? Neverborn ancient and newly created gather here now, pressing in on the staid world you call ‘sane’ and ‘real’,” she giggled, clutching Azios’s mirror image tightly, pressing her luscious blue lips to his ear, as her claws danced dangerously close to his groin. “Though I do love your offerings, your sacrifices seem... paltry compared to the great mass of souls tumbling out from this world, cast adrift by the hundreds. You are an artiste, beloved, but quantity has a quality all its own. Who are we to deny gluttonous excess? For is it not the sweetest of prayers?”

This last sentence came to him as a whisper close by; a seditious sound which made a meridian response trickle down his spine. He was sweating now. He would have to break the link soon, of he’d never summon the will to leave her embrace. But he had to know more.

“The Messenger does not feed upon the souls itself? What kind of a daemon is it?”

She laughed again, her inhuman jaws distending horribly as she spoke again. “What kind of daemon indeed! What kind of daemon, what power that can hide its face and nature from even the blessed of the gods! Shall we wonder this conundrum together, beloved?” she shrieked, a fell wind whipping through the chamber. Azios could not move. He felt her grave-cold claws digging into his arms, locking him in place. He tried to breathe, but he felt her invisible lips against his, sucking the air from his lungs and chilling his heart.

“Forget the hollow golden thing of heathen fire. Think only of me, and the ecstatic delights I can grant you!” her voice was deep now, as loud and ominous as the death knell of the universe.

“You would devour me? I have no desire to be your meal, leech-thing; Ysgerixyz the Castratrex! I am a champion of the prince of perversity, and it is my whim alone that I follow!” he wheezed, but they were just words. When he tried to think of the holy words he had used to summon her, they vanished from his mind like the treacherous seeds they were.

“Hush now, pompous little weakling boy. Do not think you can escape me now. You should be grateful I choose to consume you! A time is coming soon, when this world will spill over with neverborn; fiends the like of which you cannot imagine! Newborn nightmares that manifest for the first time in all history will crawl out of the very walls and fleshy conduits of this city! The furies will gorge upon the soul swarm, and thus glutted, will number greater than the stars in heaven! The Godless god of this damned little world will fall, have no fear, idiot-child! For this world will be ours! Ours!

He couldn’t close his eyes. As he watched, helpless, the daemoness began to change; twisting and moulding into a long, sinuous thing of scales and uncovered breasts. This was the end of Azios Lepheren? Swallowed by a soldier daemon in his bedchambers? This was the height of ignobility. He’d never live it down. Well, he’d not be alive either, but that was beside the point...

Then, he heard a crash, and the daemon screamed, in frustration more than pain. At once, Azios fell to the ground, gasping for breath. The frost retreated, and warmth returned to the world, leaving only a trace of the daemons screams echoing through the warded chamber walls. He looked up slowly, his arrogant demeanour punctured as he panted on all fours like a hound. The flect mirror was in pieces on the floor; smashed.

Corayfus stood beside it, hammer in hand.

“She was being disrespectful master,” the mutant explained, his guileless eyes darting worriedly over the stricken form of his Lord.

Gradually, Azios rose of his own accord. “Thank you Corayfus,” he said, the words alien on his tongue. “...But I am not pleased you broke my mirror. It was very expensive, not that an imp such as you would realise that. Now, sweep this up before I strike you again,” he added, with a cruel snarl that nevertheless lacked conviction. Corayfus, for all his inadequacies, was the most loyal of his fiends, despite everything.

Azios breathed deeply, taking a pinch of snuff to calm his nerves. He had come close there. But he had learnt something valuable in the end.

Ralvian, whatever he had become on the Day of Immolation, he was most definitely not a daemon. But what was he? And, far more importantly, how could Azios turn this to his advantage, before the whole world went to the proverbial dogs?
Check out my debut fantasy novel from Fox Spirit Books, The Hobgoblin's Herald (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hobgoblins-Herald-R-Aston/dp/1910462047). If you've read it, please rate and review it on amazon; I'd be eternally grateful. The sequel, Eater of Names, is out in 2018, so watch this space.
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART TWO UP!]

Postby Blinded » Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:27 pm

0) One of the good things about places like "Fanfiction.net" is that there's a ... what's it called... well defined? mandetory? place for summery. Here, in Bolthole stories are like closed books and on needs to read at least half of the first chapter to figure out what's this all about (which is too much of a bother), thus relying on Author's capabilities as a writer (and god helps the newcomers!)

Bolthole really needs a place for summery, either something like name of the story (where you HAVE to put a name there) or to just put a summery at start of the first chapter for readers' sake.

On a side note it would have helped if we had something like http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/3062-Recommended-Type-Moon-Fanfics-Discussion-II-Electric-Boogaloo?highlight=Arch-Magos+Winter too. Sure, one might argue that this would dishearten newcomers and other authors, but on the other hand it can also encourage them to do better.

I wasn't going to read the first chapter until afternoon but after writing that thing above, felt a bit unfair toward the author, so here comes:

1) Good job with the situation and the setting. This sort of things are rarely subject of BL OR fan stories despite not being "uncommon" by any stretch of imagination, Hammer and Sword of the Emperor making up much more of general attention than his cloak and dagger.

2) "He hated Xeshia, [but] he hated her more than he hated far fouler things." perhaps?

3) I like the new view of Dark Eldars better than their old depiction. Back then they were just stabby-stabb stabstab with spikes and torture and some more spikes. Now they are dying remnants of an ancient race who don't know any better than live the lives that would damn them anyways in an effort to avoid damnation. Kinda tragic so long as you don't look so close and ignore all the excessive sadistic stuff.

Bet one of the reasons Xeshia still sticks around (not counting the obviously chaotic if not outright daemonic nature of The Messenger (though he could be a certain escapee DOOM-Pokemon, as his choice of name and looks suggests. In fact this is my safest bet.)) is the steady supply of anguish the wasted Inquisitor provides and the mental pain (and doubts?) the Acolytes feel every moment.

The new Dark Eldar have more potential than the old ones. Who knows? Maybe Xeshia is a tank-bred who just wants to feel "Natural and Superior" next to the lesser races, or holds key to the Pokemon's demise? Or as the good interrogator most likely suspects carries signal for a worldwide Slave-Raid.

Silly fact: Firefox recognises Pokemon as an english word.
Worm and W40K are both dieing worlds, but while Worm is barely managing to avoid getting swallowed up, 40K is trying to stab Death in the eye with a chainsaw. - .IronSun.
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART TWO UP!]

Postby LordLucan » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:12 pm

Blinded: Thank you for your support and your advice. I've taken your suggestion on board, and I have added a blurb/summary at the start.

Xeshia, despite her name, isn't a dark eldar. She is, at least in part, a human. Her backstory will get developed further to explain her strange alieness. Her bald, purplish head is a clue to her origins though... ;)

I'm glad you like the cloak and dagger stuff. I do too (Dark Heresy is one of my favourite RPG games). I like the unique and interesting characters you can create, and I'm making the effort to add a little bit of diversity to this story that way.

Thank you for reading Blinded, I really do appreciate it. :D
Check out my debut fantasy novel from Fox Spirit Books, The Hobgoblin's Herald (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hobgoblins-Herald-R-Aston/dp/1910462047). If you've read it, please rate and review it on amazon; I'd be eternally grateful. The sequel, Eater of Names, is out in 2018, so watch this space.
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART TWO UP!]

Postby Blinded » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:42 pm

0) My other guess would be "Tyranid Hybrid" of sorts (definitely not normal!!), what with them being the only acknowledged hybrid race (the Eldar-looking pirate in Chapter's Due, and other strange beings of unnatural origins and shapeshifters of various kind aside).


Speaking of unique and strange origins and groups, bands and families... I think I have an idea for a perverted version of tale of Luthien and Beren for W40K. I like Tolkein's stuff a great deal and think it's a shame some of his bits can't be placed in W40K, and Xeshia's interest in the good Interrogator (though its depths were not clear then) gave me an idea that might work in Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader background.

Now to the story:

1) One of the themes I like is a world defecting to say... Tau Empire, being snatched away by agents of Ruinous Powers like Azios as the new, more open and naive masters ignore the warnings and decimate any symbols of faith that might have warded the Daemonic influence. Unfortunately for Azios though, this new Messiah is far more cunning and resourceful than he is given credit for and is anything BUT an upstart.

2) I really don't think the Messenger would have welcomed or kept unwitting agents of the Void Dragon any longer than he should... which he didn't.

3) Daemon lies and legendary fickleness of servants of the Dark Prince... Slaanesh gives me the creeps in a way that neither Tzeentch's mutants and Nurgle's horrors can't match.

Based on the daemon-thing's words and how the Messenger had acted this far, I think the Messenger of Fire is actually preparing this world for something, maybe a trap to lure a rival or an enemy (another chunk of the Deceiver? Necrons? another free C'tan/Shard?) and unleash such outburst of warp energy that would destroy its Target.

And contact with Farsight's conclave is either to spread the word of his rather too indiscreet and showy actions faster or the final stage of the plan.

Damn interesting stuff!
Worm and W40K are both dieing worlds, but while Worm is barely managing to avoid getting swallowed up, 40K is trying to stab Death in the eye with a chainsaw. - .IronSun.
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART TWO UP!]

Postby LordLucan » Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:15 pm

Part Three - The Attillian



She was crying, but without eyes, the only tears that fell from her cheeks were illusory; formed from the rain droplets as they trickled down her face and drenched her clothes. She’d climbed to the top of the hab stack in record time, her witch-aided reflexes undoubtedly impressive despite everything. But now, at the edge of the flat roof, amidst the humming generators and vents, she stood.

He stepped forwards, not daring move closer in case he spooked her. Her crystal sword lay at her feet, forgotten as she wept.

“Emeli, Emeli come back down. As your master, I command you. Please,” he called out, reaching forwards. He’d forgotten his damp-gear in his haste, and already he was soaked to the bone, his thin hair clamped to his skull by the wet. “Come back to us. We need you.”

Her laspistol was drawn, clutched lazily in her left. With eyeless sockets, she turned towards him, the sorrow on her worn features palpable.

“I called out to them. I called out to my brothers and sisters... but they did not hear me,” she said, her voice quivering, as if she dare not voice her thoughts. “I scoured the warp, screaming Endol’s message, as you commanded. But I could not hear them. Even in the direst realms and most wretched hives, I could always hear them. Even if it was a faint gasp of a ghost of a memory, they were there. But I can hear nothing now Haubek. Nothing,” she added grimly.

As he took another step, she raised her right hand, and his legs would not move. Throne, but she was powerful; his legs were stone, rooted to the spot. With her left, she raised the pistol.

“Don’t do this. Emeli, for Throne’s sake! Maybe the Messenger has some means of blocking your gift? Or maybe there’s interference, or-”

“No,” she interrupted. “I am soul-bonded. I have seen sights that burn the soul out of lesser beings. The last thing I saw was...” she began, breaking into uncontrollable sobbing at the memory. “Snce then, I have felt Him always... always...”

“What are you saying? Emeli, stop this foolishness. You cannot believe this. It is some daemon’s trick! Be strong, have faith! We can still win the day! We are not yet vanquished. Don’t give up on us,” he begged her, letting her power force him onto his knees, without resisting.

She looked down upon him then. Those twin sockets, once so intimidating and gruesome years ago, were beautiful to him; more beautiful than he ever thought they could be.

“Don’t... don’t...” he whispered. The downpour masked his tears.

She raised the pistol. “I am sorry Haubek; from my heart, truly. But I can’t go on Haubek. The Emperor is dead.”

There was a flash, and a crack like a bullwhip, echoing.

Haubek screamed, rushing forwards. The body keeled over, pitching itself over the guard rail, descending into the blackness of the street below. He didn’t hear the thud. He didn’t hear anything; it was as if the world had retreated to a far distant place, and he could hear only the thunderous flow of his own blood.


###

Haubek fought back the memories. The past was dead, only the present mattered. Still, he couldn’t help it. As Vanil’s ground car trundled through the cobbled streets, Haubek stroked the ivory handle of the crystal sword sheathed in his belt.

Emeli’s force sword was inert as a mundane blade without a mind to quicken it, but it was sharp and strong; sharper than any lesser blade. But that wasn’t why he’d kept it with him all these years.

The Emperor is dead. Her words had been treasonous, blasphemous, and Haubek hadn’t once believed them, even for a moment. The God-Emperor was... is, immortal. But the way she had said it. It hadn’t been hateful or spiteful; she’d been sorry to reveal this truth, like a mother trying to explain to a child why their soldier father would not be back for Candlemas.

They were going the long way round to the new meeting spot. The traitor’s praetorian enforcers were roaming the streets in snatcher teams, patrolling ever-widening routes around the outer city. Ironically, petty crimes were down my eighty percent since the Messenger came, according to the holo-broadcasts Sholvo managed to pirate at the shop. Pristine warriors in ivory and jade armour plucked the criminals from the street in their great grav-yachts, while servitor- crewed sentinel walkers stood vigil on every street corner on the approach to the inner city of Phacatia. Haubek knew something sinister was going on; why would a daemon prince give a damn about civic responsibility, or law and order? The monster had plans, he felt it in his blood.

But, first things first; he had to disrupt the Messenger’s current scheme. This meant reaching the inner city. And this, alas, meant tolerating the Attillian.

“How much farther?” Sholvo called from the backseat, between mouthfuls of candied cereal kernels, which he crunched loudly. Haubek stared at him until he raised his hands in surrender. Sholvo mouthed the word ‘sorry’ before grumpily folding his arms.

“We should not have brought him,” Vanil stated.

“Would you rather I had brought Xeshia, or maybe the bookwyrm?”

Vanil didn’t reply, but the silence suggested disapproval.

“We might need him,” Haubek continued. “And I don’t have anyone else better available,” Haubek replied.

“I’m still here Haubek... Words hurt you know...” Sholvo replied with mock indignation, emptying the packet of kernels, before opening another bag.

If Vanil smiled, or scowled, it was impossible to tell through his fearsome rebreather and his red goggles that glowed like stoked embers. Haubek liked to think the Athonian Tunnel Rat was not entirely immune to humour.

Eventually, they reached their destination, and stowed the ground car somewhere it wouldn’t be detected from the main street. A concerted scan would find it, but at a glance, it was invisible.

The rendezvous point with the Attillian was once a restaurant, before a fire had gutted it on its opening night, killing the guests and staff together before the traitor regime’s fire teams had reached it. Now it was abandoned, never rebuilt due to the callous indifference of the populace. It felt like a diner for ghosts, everything a shadowy, blackened version of a living eatery. The chairs and booths still stood, coated with soot and burnt human fat. The carpets were ash, the curtains were long vanished, the glass smashed and melted. Doors were ajar, hanging from corroded hinges spoiled by conflagration. The roof was little more that tiles balanced upon what few rafters remained erected. Thankfully there was no acid rain this evening.

Carefully, Haubek and Vanil picked their way through the ruins. Once in the rough centre of the establishment, they waited for their counterparts.

They did not have to wait long. From sagging side doors, half a dozen men slipped into the burnt-out dining hall. They crept in quietly as they could. They made a nice show, acting like hardened soldiers. Vanil had heard them approach several minutes before they had, and had nodded to Haubek as such. They certainly believed they were stealthier than they were. Each of the man wore defaced work overalls and stolen scraps of military garb, patched up here and there with inferior fabrics. Pieces of flak had been stitched into the chests and legs of these ragged costumes, while little more than chainmail hung over their shoulders, down across their biceps, terminating at the elbow generally. Plastic raincloaks and cowls hung from their backs like crude capes. Yet, despite their ragged appearance, these men outnumbered Haubek’s team, and each bore autoguns, which were deadlier than a lasgun at these close quarters.

All but one of the men had their cowls up. The one who didn’t was a bald, skinny whelp of a man, with an elaborate snake tattoo coiling up his cheek and around his left eye, masking a nasty scar there. He paced around the room with a device which looked like an overly-elaborate tuning fork, that crackled and hissed as he passed it over every surface. Once satisfied, he and his men spread out, and he muttered something into his sleeve. From one of the side doors, another figure walked in, flanked by two more burly gunmen in similar attire.

He however, was very different. The muscular man was light brown in complexion, a stark contrast to the sunlight-starved mine workers and outer city dwellers Haubek had met. This was because he was no Phacatian. The man wore a horse-hide vest and tanned pants stitched with needlessly primitive twine. He wore bracers of bronze, and a necklace of carved bone totems and gemstones. His hair, like the rest of him, was a carefully cultivated image of barbarity; oiled locks tied with dark feathers and further tribal fetishes. A bandolier of grenades and daggers was slung across one shoulder, while in his belt a hefty handcannon was holstered, beside a service-issue Imperial Guard laspistol. Across his back, a scimitar was sheathed; almost three foot long, it looked as wickedly barbaric as its grinning owner.

For a moment, the two sides merely glared at each other. Eventually, the Attillian broke down and grinned widely, revealing suspiciously gleaming teeth. “Haubek, my old friend! It is so good to see a fellow loyalist. Still fighting the good fight are we?” the man chuckled, stepping forwards to embrace Haubek, who tentatively allowed it, though Vanil tensed slightly at this.

Eventually, the Attillian broke the hug and stepped back. “It has been too long since we rode the wilds together.”

“’Loyalist’ is a strong term Major,” Haubek began, his voice level. “You were on your way to the Penal Legions before the Imperial regime here fell, if I recall correctly...”

“Always must we play this game, each time we meet, my tribe brother,” the Attillian replied.

“I am not your brother. You are a criminal, and you abandoned the Imperium when things got too dangerous,” Haubek responded, and worried he had been too abrupt, as the Attillian’s goons seemed to bristle at the remark. The Attillian’s expression was still one of indulgent artifice.

“You have a short memory Interrogator. I have never abandoned the Imperium, the Imperium has abandoned us, left us to fend for ourselves in a hostile, oppressive regime. Where are your colleagues in the Inquisition, hmm? When is the relief fleet coming to relieve us?”

Haubek had no answer. He stared at the Attillian as he continued. The Attillian was a showman at heart. A corrupt villain and a violent psychopath yes, but one with undeniable flair. It was his charisma and cunning which had allowed him to escape his cell during the Insurrection, and take over the criminal enterprises of Phacatia, maybe even of all Kazora.

“So what if I am a criminal? You use that word as if it is a shameful thing here. These men are criminals, but they are not traitors or heretics. We do not aid or give succour to the Messenger’s minions,” he spat, and his men snarled with him.

“That’s just because they are the new authority, and they keep arresting your vagabonds,” Haubek pointed out quietly, but the Attillian ignored him as he carried on.

“No, we have kept you secret, and fed you information, even though it would be so easy to rat you out to the snatchers. And this is the thanks we get? Charming, truly.”

Haubek raised his hands, and smiled; a smile just as false as the former Guardsman’s. This was all part of the pantomime, but it was still vexatious in the extreme. Haubek didn’t have time for this.

“I apologise Major, I retract any slight I may have offered you. But we are here on business.”

At this, the Attillian’s expression changed; his smile grew smaller, fiercer and colder. A smile which didn’t reach his brown eyes.

“Of course you are. Your rat told me.”

Haubek and the Attillian locked eyes. All pretences were gone now.

“he also told me you want to bypass the defence grid of the inner city, near to the star port; now why would you want to do that?” the Attillian asked.

“I can’t tell you,” Haubek replied. “You don’t need to know. I will need five of your men too.”

“If you want my men, I do need to know. Don’t you trust me Haubek?” the criminal kingpin replied coldly.

Haubek scowled. “Operational security Major, you remember what that is from your soldiering days? I trust you, but not all your staff are so trustworthy,” haubek explained, staring down the snake-tattooed thug, who snarled. The menacing intent of the gesture was laughably wasted on an Interrogator of the Inquisition. He’s seen things that’d wear that preposterous little mortal like a glove.

The Attillian smirked. “Just about remember those days. Fine. As it happens, I know how to get you in. I know precisely when the grid resets itself, and I found a code for lengthening the time for the reset from a few seconds, to a couple of minutes.”

“Where’d you find this code?”

The Attillian shrugged. “The Mechanicus, what’s left of it, is an illicit organisation on Kazora now...” he said cryptically.

Haubek nodded. “Fine. But a few minutes? That doesn’t leave us very long before the Icarus cannons are back online.”

“Once you’re in the city itself, it doesn’t matter. The guns don’t track targets inside the city, or they’d end up putting holes in the rich folks’ lovely silver houses. And they wouldn’t want that, would they boys?” he chuckled, and his men echoed his amusement. “But once you’re in, how you keep the tin-men from catching you is your problem.”

“Don’t worry about me.”

“I wasn’t. But I want my men to come back. It’s dangerous out here for the career criminal these days Haubek. I’ve lost a lot of my low-level enforcers and dealers recently. The snatchers take them to Vanbarrow prison, and don’t let them out again. At least with the Imperials, they ignored the lowest scum. How’s a businessman to make a living like this?”

Haubek rolled his eyes. “Times are tough for us all. I’ll bring them back if I can. No promises.”

The Attillian nodded. “Now that is settled, the matter of our fee arises.”

Haubek was prepared for this. “Vanil,” he called out. The Athonian tossed a smooth, palm-sized device from his belt pouch, which Haubek caught deftly in one hand, his other still clutching his bolter cane. He then passed it to the Attillian.

“What is it?” he asked, as it unfurled in his hand like a flower, tiny electrical circuits lighting up as it did so.

“A cogitator,” Haubek explained. “Jokaero make; a hundred times smaller, and a thousand times more powerful, than an equivalent Imperial cogitator unit. Your pet tech priests will love the things it can do, the crimes it can facilitate...”

The Attillian sniffed. “It is a bauble, a trinket. This isn’t a fair trade for what I am offering you Interrogator. I almost feel insulted you’d think this would be enough.”

Haubek saw the Attillian’s gang tense, discreetly moving around them. Vanil had his short assault lasgun drawn. Haubek suspected Vanil could kill four of the eight gunmen before they so much as raised their weapons. Haubek’s cane would account for another. The one unknown quantity was the Attillian himself; he had been a Major in a Rough Rider regiment before his imprisonment, and every story haubek had heard about the man said he was a lethal and dirty fighter. Haubek knew the soldier knew how to use that sword. Emeli’s blade would likely shatter the scimitar, the Attillian was a likely to shoot Haubek long before he got within slashing distance. But this was all theory. It wouldn’t come to battle.

Haubek and Vanil made no move, as the snake-marked thug stepped forwards, jabbing an accusing finger at Haubek. “And what’s to say we dun’t just teck your bauble right now, and bury your bodies deep? Eh? EH?” he hissed, showing off a mouthful of brown teeth as he grinned sadistically.

The Attillian hadn’t made a move yet. He turned the jokaero device over in his big hands, and watched Haubek. The Interrogator remained still, as the man pointed at him with one hand, and clutched a holstered stub revolver in the other.

“There are two reasons why you won’t be doing that,” Haubek replied, raising his hand in a two fingered V formation.

“One; I have a ratling sniper,” he said, lowering one finger. “And two; this building has no roof.”

The Attillian’s men jumped a little at this, peering around warily, autoguns tracking the shadows around them. The bald goon did not seem as convinced.

He jabbed his finger towards Haubek again. “Groxshit! You think you can scare us, you jumped up little fugger?”

Haubek calmly took half a step back.

There was a quiet zip sound, as the bald thug’s index finger, and much of his right hand, exploded in a fine red mist, before the gunshot echoed across the street. The man squealed like a pig, clutching his hand in horrified alarm.

The other men considered raising their weapons, but Vanil already had his lasgun pressed into his shoulder. Somehow, they knew the Athonian would kill several of them if they tried anything.

The bald one fumbled for his pistol, cursing loudly. Before he could do a thing, the Attillian’s fist struck the back of his head with a dull crunch. Like a marionette with severed strings, the thug collapsed into an unconscious heap.

The Attillian roared something in his native tongue, his face a feral mask, and the assembled gunmen lowered their weapons immediately. As quickly as his fury came, it subsided, and he turned his attention back to Haubek, whose face was now lightly misted with the wounded thug’s blood.

“I am sorry about the demonstration Major, honestly. Sholvo likely thought my life was endangered. You understand?” Haubek said with genuine contrition.

The Attillian nodded, brushing his long black locks from his face. “And I am sorry some of my men have no manners. But my point still stands Interrogator. This cogitator; it isn’t enough.”

“I didn’t say it was. Consider it a down payment. This device was liberated from one of several Mechanicus vaults still hidden across Kazora in the wake of the Insurrection. Here, they hid all the technology they most cherished and revered. In exchange for your help on this mission, I will give you the location of one of these tech vaults.”

The Attillian’s eyes widened fractionally; anyone save for an Interrogator would have missed the expression. “I have Mechanicus allies. They probably know this already.”

Haubek shook his head, stepping in close to the Attilian and speaking in a low voice. “I doubt it. All the senior Magi were purged. Your junior Adepts are novices in the cult, not versed in the deeper mysteries. They won’t have access to the oldest maps. But I do.”

“How?” the Attillian asked; clearly intrigued by this notion.

Haubek raised an eyebrow. “How? Please; I’m Inquisition,” he scoffed.

The Attillian grinned widely, throwing an arm around Haubek. “You have yourself a deal, brother! Throne help whoever you’re after, you ruthless bastard!”

###

The Cavortus pit languished on the very outskirts of Phacatia, like a forgotten grandparent no one wished to admit was theirs. It had gone dry decades ago, a mine full of little more than hollow spaces, disused industrial excavation machinery, and labyrinthine caverns to nowhere. While the rest of the world thrived, this mine simply died, decaying and fading away.

Few people ever ventured out there, for the yellow sulphur fields of the Katarnthark works were before it, and the stench was truly, painfully awful. Yet, a single half-track freight truck pressed on towards the Cavortus pit. It had extinguished its headlamps, and drove on through the darkness, guided only by the pinprick lights nailed into the road itself. The truck was unmarked, old industrial sigils on its flanks painted over carefully in grey and black.

The primary shaft of the mine lay wide open like a behemoth’s black maw. The winch tower for the mine’s lift had long ago fallen into it, and only the mangled remains of the foundations remained, like a rusting iron crown for the hole. The half-track parked beside this structure, and reversed to the edge of the hole. One of the truck’s crew hopped out of the cabin and unhooked the latches on the huge double doors of the truck’s trailer. Slowly, the trailer was inclined upwards, and before long it began to spill its cargo.

Its cargo of hundreds of gaunt, scrawny corpses, that flopped over one another as they tumbled into the pit, like so much slurry. The rear crewman banged on the trailer’s flank, and it was lowered again. The process had taken minutes, and minutes after that, the truck was speeding away once again, heading back to the dark city with its silver crown.
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART THREE UP!]

Postby HafezFromParadox » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:33 pm

Great stuff as usual.

Same canon?
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART THREE UP!]

Postby LordLucan » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:49 pm

HafezFromParadox wrote:Great stuff as usual.

Same canon?


Thanks man.

Same canon as what? Age of Dusk? Possibly, but this is set in M41, so there's no functional difference between this setting and 40K's canon setting. ;)
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART THREE UP!]

Postby HafezFromParadox » Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:10 pm

I'll take that as a yes. :D
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART THREE UP!]

Postby LordLucan » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:51 pm

Fair enough :lol:
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART THREE UP!]

Postby Blinded » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:57 pm

A shadow in the warp perhaps? Death of one such as The Emperor leaves such a psychic backlash that would most likely echo throughout the galaxy and fry souls in their billions... though Necrons and C'tans do have means to influence the warp despite not being psychic themselves.

Those corpses were dried juice boxes I assume.

Typo time!!:

-We [he] wore bracers of bronze, and a necklace...
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART THREE UP!]

Postby LordLucan » Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:14 am

Part Four – The Messenger’s Gift


The meal before Azios was a lavish affair, a wild profusion of colour and exotic meats. Shellfish from rare climes were clustered around Venexil grazer fillets,that had wild fruits piled atop them, drizzled with spiced sauces that clung to the nostrils and enflamed the pallet. The three platters could have likely fed a family, but at the premium prices he had paid for this feast, Lepheren wasn’t inclined to share. His silver cutlery tore into the artistic creation, revelling in the tarnishing of some artisan’s work. There was a perverse thrill in spoiling something once you were done with it. Azios had long ago had a dream of purchasing all the greatest works of art across the galaxy, and burning them upon his funeral pyre, just out of selfish spite. Of course, that dream he hoped never to come true, for it meant him dying to bring it about.

A glance around Hovaello’s revealed many of his fellow nobles, each revelling in their own banquets, guffawing at each others’ inane jokes, with augmented sycophants on their arms. If Azios had wished to, he could have partaken in this mummer’s farce with the best of them, but today he was not in the mood. He was the only person worth talking to in this place, he smirked. They were all beneath him. In more illustrious company, he might have put on greater airs and graces, but amongst mid-level social climbing parasites, what was the point?

He had located a booth seat in the corner of Hovaello’s, his back to the wall, with a clear view of the majority of the establishment. His guards were seated outside; a single vox burst and they would rush in and kill anyone who neared him. He wouldn’t be dying today at least.

Each element of his meal was delicately spiced and seasoned, each new flavour complimenting the last, like chords within a great symphony. Azios mulled the flavours over his tongue. Interesting and delicious, but he soon grew tedious, and began to over season it with salt and fiery red spice powders. The fire was tantalisingly disgusting, and he savoured the way it caught in his throat and scorched his bowels. From a compartment in one of his many rings, he dumped a vial of white void into the mix, which seemed to make every previously foul sensation become beautiful to behold. He dripped honey and oil onto his meal next, and with a swift flick of his four pronged fork, he pricked his finger, and added blood to the cocktail. The coppery tang with the sweet and the searing heat once more thrilled his senses. How the dullards at the other tables could eat with such unimaginative banality made him curse inwardly.

“My Lord Lepheren, such a pleasant sight to see you out socialising again. We had feared you had become a recluse. May I sit down?” a discordant female voice brayed at Azios, in her all too familiar tone.

Azios looked up from his messy pile of spice and meat, cherry juice running down his red lips, like a newly-fed vampire as he smiled at her. “Nothing would spoil my dinner more Lady Cerella,” he replied, his barb delivered in a cheerfully upbeat tone.

“In that case, I simply have to join you now,” she chuckled, her drawn face even uglier when she smiled.

Azios looked at her with barely concealed disgust. To most people, she was average looking, a rejuvenated elderly woman inhabiting an artificially middle-aged body. But to Azios, she was a mockery of beauty; a decaying mannequin desperately throwing money into keeping her meagre looks in eternal stasis. The notion of looking mediocre for all eternity was a singularly repulsive thought to him. She wore an elaborate gown which was far too youthful for the desiccated homunculus which bore it, and her wiry silver hair was bound into a tight bun atop her head, streaked with black stripes to give the impression the silver hair was deliberate on her part, and not a consequence of her fading animus.

She slid in to sit beside Azios. Outrageously, she snatched a cherry from his platter, and tossed it into her painted slit of a mouth.

“Do that again and lose a finger,” he beamed. She laughed her false laugh. She made to do so again, but a gleam in his eyes told her he really wasn’t joking.

“Tell me my lady, what brings you to me? I thought we had nothing to discuss since the reading of the will,” he said carefully, without looking up from his meal.

“I don’t come on my behalf, but it pleases me you think yourself that important,” she snorted.

The sharp tone told him that particular wound wasn’t as healed as she liked him to believe. Azios sleeping with, and then subsequently discarding her all those years ago hadn’t hurt quite as much as the day her husband left his trans-rail company to Azios in his will. She really hadn’t known her husband all that well, it seemed...

“So, whose errand-girl are you today?” he smirked, gulping down another glass of amasec.


“Lector Taron, if you must know. He’s very keen to speak with you it seems.”

The name made Azios pause, and Cerella looked triumphant as she noted his desolate stare. Taron was The Messenger’s herald of Phacatian, the man who ran the affairs of the luminescent being as it performed whatever arcane rituals it desired. When Taron summoned you, you came running. Azios swallowed, before turning to face her.

“Did he say to what this speech pertained?”

She shrugged. “I have no clue, except you don’t seem pleased, which suggests something bad doesn’t it? You better hurry too; he was very insistent you be prompt,” she said, standing up once again. He rose to, and grasped her wrist as she turned to leave, pulling her close.

“Don’t play with me Cerella. You do not want to dance this dance,” he hissed in her ear.

She inclined her head; to outside observers, it was as if she were lovingly listening to some sweet nothings being purred at her by a lover. Cerella pressed her lips to Azios’ ear then too.

“And don’t threaten me, you fornicating lowborn. You think your mongrel Rogue Trader lineage makes you anything on Kazora? You are an upstart, a creeping little snake, and every true noble born on this world knows exactly what you are. You’ve done things to get this far, and one day, when you think you’ve won, I will drag you out into the light, and watch its glare cauterise the septic wound you’ve left in the heart of Kazoran aristocracy...” she whispered, her voice incongruously warm and tender as she shook off his grip.

Azios considered taking things further, but he didn’t wish to be late for Taron. Nevertheless, he made a mental note to destroy that bitch at the earliest opportunity.

###

The Revelation Palace was hatefully uniform. Every corridor was regulated in width and breadth, and every angle and line geometrically perfect. Even the so-called ‘Stainless Guard’, Taron’s personal praetorian guard, were uniform with their immaculate jade and ivory carapace, and their whirring, polished bionics. Servitors with dead, cyan augmetic eyes followed his every movement silently, blank burnished faceplates robbing them of even the semblance of humanity. Even Azios found his individuality wounded by this place, for Taron had insisted he wear the uniform all the governing elements of Kazoran society had been given by Ralvian, even before he had been Immolated and ‘reborn’. The uniform was tight, white and green, and very unflattering. But sometimes one had to kiss the ring, Azios conceded.

As Azios walked the procession route to Lector Taron’s chambers, he felt the tall corridors closing in on him like a great anonymous mass. Everything seemed to grow in scale the deeper he delved into the Governor’s tower. Azios was dwarfed by great archways and angular pillars. And it was quiet; his footsteps echoed like tap shoes in a cathedral. He knew there were people talking and discussing matters across the city, but somehow, the sound of voices and laughter and life did not travel very far in such cold, sterile climates. A thought struck him, as he passed, ant-like, beneath another cavernous doorway.

This was not a palace built for men. And what was more, the tower was far larger inside than it seemed from outside.

On his journey through the tower, he had passed silver-skinned Sub-Lectors, and their heretek advisors, who nodded politely; blissful smiles plastered over their faces. Azios had caught a glimpse of crimson-armoured figures at one point, being led upon a grand tour. Shovah’s tau were honoured guests it seemed. Azios sneered; many believed Azios to be a pervert and a deviant, and slannesh had blessed him for this it was true, but he always believed fervently in the supremacy of mankind in the galaxy. Once Azios seized power here, he’d make sure no alien would take advantage of his flock; that was his privilege.

Eventually, he reached a secretarial station, and the gleaming augmented girl at the desk relayed his arrival to Taron with her keening artificial voice.

The portal into Lector Taron’s study was a circular aperture, with a door which unfurled like an iris dilating. Inside, every surface was gleaming, pristine white, save for the far wall, which was transparent, and looked out over a grand assembly hall, and a towering, stepped ziggurat, upon which sat a crystal throne. The room was without shadow, but Azios could not identify from where the light came; it was as if the walls and floor were glowing. There, behind a perfect white tablet set horizontally into the floor, sat Taron, the Lector of Phacatia.

It was said only Taron’s brain, spinal cord and pelvis remained of his biological body, and looking upon him now, Azios could well believe it. Every part of him, from his eyelids, to his hair, to his articulated lips and tongue, to his cloak of scales, seemed to be composed of burnished metals of various descriptions. He was like a living clockwork sculpture of a man, rendered in chrome and gold, and his discreet servos purred as he rose from his seat to greet Azios. Azios had seen men more mechanical than Taron, but not as artfully and sophisticatedly done as this. This was an artisan’s android. But Azios couldn’t read this man, this thing. Was he being rewarded or punished? He couldn’t tell, and that made him nervous.

“Level five citizen; Azios Lepheren, welcome to the revelation tower,” Taron announced in a voice Azios suspected was vox-captured and manipulated to sound warm and human. Yet another needlessly complex aspect of the Lector’s being.

“Lector; level six citizen is it? It is an honour of course,” Azios beamed, returning the embrace; a strange sensation, smooth yet unyielding, like a beetle’s carapace.

“I will not waste your time Azios. You are the third largest factory owner in Kazora,” Taron began, as Azios took a seat opposite Taron at his desk.

“Guilty as charged,” Azios smiled.

Taron stared at him, expression unchanged. Azios stopped smiling, suddenly self-conscious. “I mean yes... I am...”

“What products do your factories currently produce?”

“Well, lots of things. All manner of amenities and vehicular solutions for the low level citizenry, and-”

“Specifics please,” Taron explained, his glowing blue eyes giving nothing away.

“Right, right. Industrial mining machinery; excavators, drilling rigs, cranes. Erm, I believe my northern works produce ground cars, shuttle chassis, air conditioning units, rain-rad cleansers, and food reclaimators. I... I think that is it.”

Taron nodded. “Thank you. Now, the Messenger of Fire will require all but your mining supply factories to cease production of frivolous machineries,” Taron began, his falsely warm voice failing to reflect the coldness of his words.

“I can do that. But what will my factories be making instead?”

From somewhere hidden in the desk, blueprints were produced, and rolled out across the sparse flat work surface. “These. Consider them a gift from The Messenger.”

Azios peered down at the diagrams before him, but they just seemed like maddeningly-complex fractal drawings; technical plans for machines Azios couldn’t conceive of.

“I’m not sure what I am looking at Lector. My factories are configured to produce very specific items, I’m not sure how we can...”

“Your Directors will be supplemented and given guidance by technical staff from the Inception Halls.”

Azios frowned. “And what of my workers? They will need to be retrained to build... whatever these things are.”

“There is no real need. Servitors can supplement the Technicians’ expertise. Your workers will not be required.”

“So you’d just throw them out onto the street?” Azios gasped. It was a practiced gasp he’d used many times before. He didn’t really care about his workers overly. However, disgruntled, jobless workmen made for excellent rebels, should Azios need to recruit more bodies for the inevitable coup by the Great Four. Led by Azios, naturally.

“The workers are inconsequential at this point I am afraid. The Messenger has specified these great engines are to be constructed. The will of the God-King must not be denied, may his light shine upon us.”

“May his light shine upon us,” Azios eventually echoed, after Taron stared at him pointedly.

“Do you have any further questions?”

“One lector, if you do not mind my asking. Why do we associate with the tau? Has The Messenger revealed his divine reasoning yet?”

Taron nodded. “They are to be vanguards of the new order He brings. He grants them many powerful gifts, and will soon send them forth to bring news of The Messenger of Fire’s birth, and the alliance he offers to all who bend the knee.”

I’m sure the tau would love that, Azios thought. Authority and order; they loved it. But it was Azios’ idea of hell. He masked his feelings well, nodding along like a believer at a preacher’s sermon.

“Well; I am sure your changes to my factories can be accommodated as soon as possible, Lector. I will pass these on forthwith. Now if that is all?” Azios replied, making for the door.

“No. That is not all.”

Azios froze, his blood ice. “Oh?”

Taron rose again, his metal face forming an oddly organic-looking smile. “Come with me. The Messenger has a brief gap in his most busy works, and your friend Cerella, the level five citizen, told me you wished to meet The Messenger in person. An understandable desire and one I feel I can grant you this day.”

“Did she? Did she really?” Azios clenched his jaw. “Oh... marvellous...”
Check out my debut fantasy novel from Fox Spirit Books, The Hobgoblin's Herald (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hobgoblins-Herald-R-Aston/dp/1910462047). If you've read it, please rate and review it on amazon; I'd be eternally grateful. The sequel, Eater of Names, is out in 2018, so watch this space.
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART FOUR UP!]

Postby Anne Marie » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:30 pm

Part Two C&C
For some reason I picture Fabio when you gave Azios' description. Not that it's a bad thing. Azios' rage at the daemon "taking his place" is hilarious. The language you use to convey this brings out his misfortune all the more. The line "How dare such an artless and unfashionable entity steal his thunder!" comes to mind. :)

Some quick SPAQ as I was reading through: "...of he’d never..." I believe 'of' should be 'or'.

Once again, beautiful description of the surroundings and characters movements. The plot thickens, and I enjoy stories where there are two or even three sides to the conflict.
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART FOUR UP!]

Postby Blinded » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:12 am

A rogue trader dynasty's reject, or a retiring, more ambitious Pirate?

Well... let's see the Ungodly presence up close... and hope the next chapter is continuation of this one, rather than a shift to the team of Loyalists.

I very much doubt that word of a mere mortal that her hated foe wants to see the Messenger, because I'm sure the Messenger knows all things relevant and took them into consideration, was any reason for this to happen, only its excuse.

Wonder what plans the "Daemon Prince" has for the "Cult Leader".
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Re: Kazora's Manifest Damnations [40K][PART FOUR UP!]

Postby HafezFromParadox » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:57 am

After this is finished, there should be DH (wait for the second edition) and BC campaigns.
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