Arnell's Ascendancy [Novel length, Part 4]
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Holt had only experienced the ritual of embarkation once in his lifetime, and it was a grand occasion. Two full ranks of Aran's Honour Guards lined the path up to the Thunderhawk, one squad for each of the titles held by Mars Aran. He was not only the Chief Librarian but also the Chapter Master.
Now the Thunderhawk represented salvation, and the seven Imperials were running towards it across the star port. They had been running for what seemed like hours, crossing across the flat and almost featureless plascrete plain towards the beckoning white bird of plasteel.
Holt and Mars Aran were at the front, leading the pack of nine, with Mintus and Marco, Alexia and Mintus' Vindicare Assassin behind them. Trailing behind them were the three Astartes who had survived the onslaught of the Tyranids. Behind them were a rushing and seething mass of Tyranids, intent upon slaying the group.
"Raise the ramp!" ordered Mars Aran after the last of his Marines and the other Imperials boarded the Thunderhawk. With a hiss of hydraulics, the ramp begun to rise, "Marines, secure that opening" commanded Mars Aran as he raised his plasma pistol and fired a bolt of white hot plasma at a Tyranid as it attempted to climb up into the Astartes craft.
With a roar of chainswords, the four Marines stormed forwards and struck anything that attempted to enter the Thunderhawk. Above their heads, Aran saw the green light flash off and a red light flash on.
Through the narrow gap between the ascending ramp and the bulkhead of the Thunderhawk, the Chief Librarian saw the ground begun to disappear as the Thunderhawk's anti-grav engines came online.
"Heavy bolters, protect our escape!" directed the Chief Librarian when the ramp had closed fully and the Thunderhawk had begun to pitch up, using the massive thrust engines to power its ascent into orbit.
"Machine Spirit acknowledges the order" voiced a Space Marine behind him. The voice was tinny and almost machine in it's quality. Turning to face the new voice, Holt was surprised at what he saw. A red armoured warrior was built into the very Thunderhawk itself. A half human, half machine face glared back at him behind two glass eyes.
"I forget my manors," spoke Aran, "this is Inquisitor-Lord Holt of the Ordo Hereticus and his attendant bodyguard, Marco. That other fellow with lightning claws is the Xenos Inquisitor, Mintus."
"Holt, Marco and Mintus, this is Techmarine Teano. He is both our pilot and our saviour" deemed the Librarian, letting the full scale of the Techmarine shock and astound them.
"I am pleased to be of service, and as you have requested, our heavy bolters are tracking a number of Tyranid aerial units as we speak. You may wish to belt up before we hit the upper atmosphere, it generally gets quite rocky during ascents and descents" droned the Techmarine.
"I'm glad you can take us away from that world, but don't you sometimes find it troublesome to not have any legs?" enquired Holt.
"Not at all, the Thunderhawk gives me more freedom then ever. Although I do have the facilities to remove myself from this vessel should necessity dictate the need."
"Well, carry on" spoke the Inquisitor, his question answered.
Arnell was busy manipulating the consoles on a terminal when Calistro entered. With an almost imperceptible nod, Calistro greeted the Chosen warriors who guarded the doors. "I am here as ordered, master" spoke Calistro.
Turning to face his Lieutenant, Arnell's face was hidden behind the mask, but Calistro could almost detect a smile beneath the unfeeling mask, and his assumption was correct by the tone in Arnell's voice when he spoke.
"I require your assistance in one final task before we leave this ship to it's fate."
"That would be what exactly, master?" enquired the Lieutenant.
"We are about to pay someone a visit" said Arnell whilst he turned back to the terminal, and triggered a few key commands to shut the console down. "We are going to visit Eutanti."
"Just what is Eutanti?"
"Not what, who" corrected the Khorne Lord. "Some say she is a living saint to that fool of the Imperium. Others say she is more then that. I want to know what makes her so special."
"Lord?" asked Calistro openly, quite unsure of how to proceed with his Lord's wishes.
"You and your men shall follow me to the her quarters." The Lord's tone was commanding and brokered no reprisals nor any questions.
The corridor was silent, and the faint odour of decay was prevalent throughout the deck. Two large numbers were stenciled outside a small door. 'Thirty seven, that is the door we need,' thought Arnell.
"I shall go in first, then Calistro and then your squad, Caltox" ordered the Lord, pointing to the door.
Placing his hand upon the door hatch release, Arnell threw the release down to it's open position and pushed the door open. He was past the threshold the door and storming into the room before even the room's occupiers had even realised the door was being opened.
The scene in the room was strange. Eight Imperial Guardsmen stood around two central figures, their hellguns raised and pointing towards the central figures. A bound and gagged young girl was the centre of the attention, whilst another bound girl was off to her left and beside her were four Imperial Guard Officers. Beside them were a psyker dressed in the same combat fatigues and bearing the force rod of psykers of the Imperial Guard in his hand, held aloft between him and the girl.
A scarlet sash of a Commissar marked one of the Guard Officers and one bore the rank pins of Lord Militants.
"Shoot them and you'll all be send to Khorne's throne as trophies" dared Arnell, taking a step forward.
Something was odd about the younger girl. Despite the presence of almost certain death, she was calm and held a quality about them that suggested they were almost glad to see Arnell.
The other girl was older, and her eyes were similarly calm, although they lacked the quality of the first girl's.
"I want the girl" snapped Arnell, realising that Calistro had just entered through the door behind Arnell. "I can't let you do that" offered the Commissar, his tone full authority as he raised his laspistol up level with the Khorne Lord's head.
"You think your laspistol will do me any harm?" asked the Khorne Lord, and clearly not expecting an answer. Behind the Commissar, the Guardsmen raised their weapons.
Arnell's anger flared behind his mask, and he struggled to hold himself in check. 'Kill them' flowed through his mind, and his mind begun to cloud with red mists of death and destruction. Arnell knew that if he was gripped by the blood frenzy, he wouldn't be able to stop. Khorne was testing him.
"Calistro, kill all except the girls" snapped Arnell finally, letting the raging anger inside him subside in it's own time. "It looks like the Lord is afraid of us, men" taunted the Commissar. In one smooth motion, Arnell threw his glaive towards the Commissar. It speared through the Imperial's chest, forcing the Commissar to fall to the ground and pinning in place.
One of the Guardsmen behind the Commissar rushed forward to aid their office, but it was too late. The glaive had sucked the soul out of the Imperial Officer's body and all that was left was a dry, dead husk.
The Guardsmen went to pick up the Lord's deadly weapon, and the instant he touched the glaive, he screamed. Pain racked the Guardsmen's body, and seconds later, the Guardsmen were also dead. His soul also had been sucked dry.
Arnell flexed his muscles with the bloody mist of death finally gone completely from his mind, Arnell launched himself forward. The Lord smashed his way through the Guard Officers and before his enemies knew it, he was in amongst the Guardsmen, smashing his way through humans and breaking bones with every punch and kick.
"Take us out of orbit and enter the Warp" commanded Mars Aran. Around the Chief Librarian, Holt and Mintus and Marco stood at ease. Despite the glares from the bridge crew, the two Inquisitors and Marco stood on the bridge as equals to the Astartes, and although it was not normally their place to be on the bridge of an Astartes, Holt and Mintus' didn't care.
"Activate the turret servitors, and call Navigator Garro to the helm" instructed the Librarian.
"What of the viral bombardment, is that complete yet?" asked Mintus.
"It is, Inquisitor" spoke Aran, "I gave the order to begun the bombing as soon as our Thunderhawk left the lower atmosphere. The Astartes don't waste precious time." Aran's comment stirred a smirk from Holt as he gave Mintus a wry nod.
"As you wish, Chapter Master" came from the most senior serf, as he begun issuing orders to several humans who were busy relaying commands to other parts of the mighty Space Marine vessel.
"Engines report Warp engines are fully charged and are awaiting the Navigator to take his position before we can continue into the Warp" reported another serf.
"And that will be?" asked Holt, clearly unaware of the proper etiquette amongst the Astartes and their serfs. "Answer him" commanded the Chief Librarian from behind Holt, and with a brief nod, the serf continued "He is just rousing from his slumber now, sire"
Aran interrupted Holt before he could reply "He lives in his Navigator chamber, Inquisitor. Therefore he'll be ready in less then half a minute."
Turning to face the Librarian, Holt asked honestly "Why Garro? Don't you have any other Navigators onboard?"
"We have fourteen onboard currently, and before you ask, Navigator Garro has the most experience in battle within the Warp" answered Aran.
"Damned Librarian , thinks he knows everything" quirked Holt with a small shake of his head.
"You forget, I do know everything" smiled Aran.
Emergency klaxons bellowed their alerts and a few seconds later, the vessel's course altered sharply. The suddenly lurch to port was noticeable, even with the inertial dampening of the grav plating.
"Navigator reports successful transition" spoke one the serfs with his ear glued to an vox receiver.
"Perhaps we should give the Navigator some recaff to wake him up a little bit" ventured Holt and even Mintus laughed.
"There he is" mused Aran.
"There who is?" asked Mintus.
"Arnell, or rather the True Domination. Garro and the other Navigators isn't the only one that has warp sight you know" replied Aran, his gaze fixed on something distant and unknowable to the rest of them.
"Chief Librarian Mars Aran, do you think that is wise?" demanded Holt.
"Ask Mintus what I'm doing. He has the ability to see it too, but he chooses not to. I'm not using my powers, merely making my mind receptive to the outside of the vessel. You have a fist, and instead of punching with it, you can use it to sense your way around in the dark."
"So how do you know it's him?" asked Mintus, clearly unaware of Holt's gaze falling up him.
"He's a Khorne follower, his ship will be undoubtedly warded against the prying eyes of psykers and there is a null in the war where his ship is, although there is something equally strange. There is a second null zone out here and I'm not talking the blanketing effect of the Tyranids."
"You never said you were a psyker!" shouted Holt, speaking directly the Mintus.
"Yes, I am. Why do you think I knew that cultist back on Torrin knew nothing, I was mind probing him whilst we sorted out the business of who you were going to interrogate."
"If you bring damnation down upon us, I'll kill you myself" threatened Holt.
"Cool down Inquisitor, I know better then to open my mind to the Warp when within it's murky depths. Your Chief Librarian should know better, however" retorted Mintus.
"I trust Mars Aran with my life if need be, and I know to be of strong a character to not let a daemon eat his soul, and if he slips, I'll end his life. He knows this and has always known this" uttered Holt, "and I'll feel safer with this in my hand." Holt withdrew his plasma pistol and took two steps back, giving himself enough room to aim at the two psykers.
"Put down the gun, Inquisitor" soothed Mars Aran, "I've closed my mind to the Warp and I can assure you that I've not been possessed." As the Librarian spoke, he made eye contact with Holt and in that instant, Holt knew his friend had not been taken.
"I'll keep it out, but don't think just because you two have closed your minds, your immune to the Warp influence. I hope you know that just being in the Warp puts you at risk" returned Holt.
Blood washed the walls and shattered bodies lay everywhere. Two girls lay bound to two chairs before the Khorne Lord. Arnell's glaive still lay stuck in place where it had been skewered through the Commissar. Behind the Lord stood Caltox, his band of Berserkers and the Lieutenant Calistro. All except Calistro and Caltox were shocked at the brutal effectiveness of their Khorne Lord. He had taken out an entire squad of armed Guardsmen and four Imperial Guard Officers. Only the girls and the psyker remained alive, and worse of all that Arnell had slaughtered them all unarmed and they had not even got a shot off.
"Which one is Eutanti" asked Arnell after removing the gags from the two girls. Neither of them spoke.
"I'll ask the psyker then."
The Lord bent down as far as his armour would allow and picked up the wounded psyker. Holding him against the wall, the Khorne Lord placed his armoured helmet mere inches from the psykers face. Letting the sheer scale of the armour to intimidate the psyker, Arnell spoke with his voice low "which one is the null?"
The psyker looked nervously towards the smaller girl and that was all that Arnell needed. Snapping the Imperial's neck with ease, Arnell threw the discarded body away like a spent bolter clip.
Reaching for glaive that was still impaling the Commissar, Arnell used the very tip of it to cut the girl's binding. He had misjudged the distance, and a small cut appeared on the girl's arm where he had cut the bindings off.
He lifted the blade up to where he could see the faint blood smear from the girl and watched it sizzle as if heated to it's boiling point and then beyond. He had never seen the glaive do that before. Usually blood either dripped off the glaive onto the floor as it was unable to clot on the daemonic weapon or be drawn into the weapon itself. The latter was only when Arnell had killed psykers.
"And what of the other?" Calistro asked clearly unsure of where the Lord was going with his actions.
"Your not a null, your not a psyker. So what are you? Why were the Imperials so interested in you?" asked the Lord, pulling glaive around to point at the older girl, letting the point of the weapon drift perilously close to the girl's face.
"I am merely a cultist" spat the girl with a wry smile.
"Gemiel?" asked the Khorne Lord openly.
"I have never heard that name before. You think everything is to do with chaos. Your wrong foolish human!" hissed the older girl. "When the Great Devourer gets…"
Arnell cut the girl off mid sentence "What in Khorne's name is the Great Devourer, is that another name for Nurgle?" demanded Arnell.
"Nurgle?!?" hissed the girl, "I said it before, not everything revolves around the Chaos Gods!"
"Then give me a clear answer" boomed Arnell.
"Some call them the Tyranids, others call them abominations! They will find me and when they do, you'll have doomed yourself" spoke the girl, her voice getting stronger with each word.
"You worship those creatures?" asked Arnell openly. "The Genestealer Patriarch is the only thing I worsh…"
Arnell broke the girl off with a thrust of his weapon, severing the girls head from it's shoulders.
"Lord?" Arnell glanced back towards his Lieutenant who had made his rank a question. "Why did you kill her?"
"She wasn't human." Arnell spoke flatly. For the benefit of his Lieutenant who still looked puzzled, "she had two extra arms. From the looks of the claws on the ends of those arms, they could pierce even Terminator armour."
"But she was bound" continued Calistro, "she only appeared to be bound, I noticed from the outset that she was cutting the bounds slowly but surely. She would of broke loose and disemboweled me if I hadn't of killed her."
Calistro asked another question seeing his previous question resolved "If I may be so bold, master, but what was she talking about, Tyranids? Great Devourer? I have never heard those terms before."
"I have no idea what a Tyranid is, but I think it may be those creatures were using to attack Torrin."
"They certainly weren't around during the Horus Heresy" ventured Calistro.
"No, they were not" Arnell turned back to the girl
"And what of you? What do I make of you?" asked Arnell, half to himself.
"Some call me Dominica" spoke the young girl, her voice proud and strong despite the imposing figure standing above her.
Something sparked in the back of his mind. Arnell's vision swam as a vision filled his vision.
Arnell stood before the Lord of Blood himself. A massive throne of brass filled Arnell's vision, and sitting on top of it was a massive creature adorned with ornate wrought brass armour. Resting at the base of the throne was a huge axe, a weapon so big that it could smash a Dreadnought in half with but one strike. Around the base of the throne, thousands of skulls formed the floor and with every step Arnell took to steady himself, he crunched more into the blood red ground. Upon closer inspection, the ground wasn't actually red, but rather plain old mud mixed with the blood of millions of fallen enemies.
Hail begun to speck Arnell's armour, but it wasn't ordinary hail. Thick, clotted blood splattered where it hit the Lord's armour.
High above Arnell, Khorne himself sat. The bestial figures of Arnell's Lord were ugly and nasty to behold. In Khorne's hand lay a single tiny skull. Something at the back of Arnell's mind snapped and he knew exactly from whom the skull was taken. "You want me to slay Dominica" Arnell gasped before his master.
The god didn't speak but nodded it's agreement. "But why? Why kill a blank?" asked Arnell, unsure if he'd get an answer.
Khorne growled as the vision faded into nothing. Before him lay the girl, still sitting upon the chair with the bindings crumpled around her arms and with her eyes glaring up at the Khorne Lord. "Time for you to die" Arnell spat before plunging his glaive through the girls' chest and twisting.
"Status!" commanded the Chief Librarian as a sudden shock rippled across the bridge. "We have been hit by a salvo of torpedoes. She is holding, sir."
"Reload ordnance and return the token of friendship" snapped Holt. The senior bridge serf gave the Inquisitor a brief glare of disbelief and then snapped the Inquisitor's orders.
'I think it'll be best if I command the crew, Inquisitor' floated through the Inquisitor's mind, 'the crew find it disrespectful that you're here on the bridge in first place, much less commanding them.'
Holt's back rose "They can do whatever they like, but I will not curb my tongue for a bunch of Imperial Naval crew who think they are better then the Inquisition."
"You misunderstand, Inquisitor. They are not Naval crew, they are loyal to the Astartes and to the Emperor themselves. You are an outsider here. If you were an Astartes, they might show some respect, but your not. To them, you're their equal or lower" soothed the Librarian.
Holt could tell from the Librarians' expression and tone that he was right and he couldn't argue the point, but instead he walked up to senior serf, and spoke in hushed tones to him. "You may have command of this ship when the Astartes are away, and you may only take their orders, but you are a servant of the Imperium none-the-less, and my authority is absolute. If it wasn't for Mars Aran, you'd be lying in a pool of your own blood by now."
When he was finished roasting the serf, the Inquisitor turned to Mintus and Marco, "it looks like we're not needed here" and the trio of humans strode off the bridge.
With the distraction to the bridge crew gone, Mars Aran snapped his orders in curt fashion. "Engage the True Domination. I want her to feel the Emperors wrath! Charge lance batteries! Tell the first to report to the teleporter tubes immediately."
An hour had passed. The two Inquisitors and Marco had stole themselves away in the Astartes mess hall. Around them where perhaps hundred or so Astartes, eating, chatting and joking. Despite the battle which consumed the Battle Barge they were on, the Fists of Flame Space Marines didn't seem fussed, or too concerned at the fate of their vessel.
The three had talked, and had largely ignored the looks of surprise which greeted them whenever an Astartes looked in their direction. Then, suddenly Mintus snapped to attention, "There is something onboard, Holt. A daemon has broke it's way through onto the vessel!" shuddered Mintus.
"It looks like we've got a job to do after all. Where is the daemon now?" requested the Hereticus Inquisitor.
"Two decks down, frontal section" reported Mintus, and Holt withdrew his plasma pistol and withdrew his power weapon after standing up.
Before they could make their way to the exit, the bulky form of an Astartes blocked their way. "I cannot let you pass with your weapons draw" snapped the Astartes.
"There is a daemon onboard, we must destroy it's presence before it destroys something vital" blurted Mintus.
"I cannot trust your intensions, just who are you?" asked the Astartes, still blocking their way.
"I am Inquisitor Lord Holt, of the Ordo Hereticus, this is Mintus, of the Ordo Xenos and that is Marco, my personal bodyguard. Who on Terra are you?" snapped Holt with too much haste for his liking.
"I am Chaplain Kypion, 1st Company. I have heard of you Holt. Mars Aran speaks highly of you" replied the Astartes, "Daemon you say? If that is true then you'll be needing my help."
The Astartes moved aside and let the trio through. When they started to run, so did the Chaplain. The Chaplain kept up with their looping pace. "Just where is this daemonic presence?" asked the Kypion, after the four of them had gone down two levels. "I'm not sure, I'm following Mintus" replied Holt, his voice came in sudden bursts, his lungs trying to keep up with the pace Mintus was setting and with the strain of talking.
Before the Chaplain could run ahead to ask the question to Mintus, Holt asked something else "Just how are you going to fight the daemon with no weapons?"
"We are heading towards the Armoury, although if I think the daemon is where I think it is, I won't need to go to the Armoury" smiled the Chaplain.
For the first time since Holt had met the Chaplain in the mess hall. Holt admired the Chaplain's honesty, and although he was dressed in a simple black robe of his rank, he was still quite imposing and powerful in his quite authority as he ran ahead to ask Mintus finally.
The Chaplain dropped back to speak with Holt once again "My fears and my hope have come true, the daemon is in the Sanctum of Trophies" smiled the Chaplain.
Red sirens flashed and wailed across the bridge. Mars Aran stood deep in thought. He already knew that there was a daemon onboard long before the ship had detected it. "Is there anyone going to see off the daemon?" asked Aran at last. "Sire, we have four contacts moving towards the daemon now. Only one of them is an Astartes" replied the bridge serf.
"Send a squad or two to bolster that section of the ship. I don't want that daemon breaking out past that part of the ship" signed the Librarian, clearly aware of the strength of the daemon that the four contacts had been sent to engage. It would be a virtual death warrant for many Imperial worshippers, and he seriously doubted Holt and Mintus had the strength of will or the martial talents to defeat the daemon. "Get ready to blow that part of the ship out into space" ordered the Librarian.
"But that part of the ship contains the Sanctum of Trophies" commented the senior serf. "Then hope it doesn't come to that" replied Mars Aran solemnly.
The Imperial transport was a strange sight on the landing pad. It's grey flanks and wide wings gave the Imperial bird a low and sleek appearance. Around the bird, a number of Mechanicus adepts guarded their precious asset, but Arnell cared not. He would take the craft and escape the doomed Imperial warship.
Towards the rear of the sleek Imperial craft, the armoured shutter was locked down, preventing the swirling masses of the Warp from driving the workers in the compartment insane. He could hear the shouts of Guardsmen, and their sergeants issuing orders to the troops. They didn't matter to Arnell, but even now, he could hear the whirr of chainaxes and the bark of bolt weapons as Caltox's Berserkers rushed to engage the Imperial forces nearest the bird.
"Caltox, I want those blast doors open now!" shouted Calistro beside Arnell, clearly on the same path of thought as his master.
Out of the corner of Arnell's eye, Caltox snapped around, and shouted to his men in native N'taonian. Although the words were similar to gothic, they were different and implied different meaning. Arnell had heard Caltox use his native tongue many times, although he had never understood any of it.
Nor should he. He was proud to be a native of Caliban.
With a grunt of disgust, two of Arnell's men peeled off from the fight with the Naval guardsmen and rushed over to the doors. The Khorne Lord watched as they found the console to open the doors, and pressed a few key runes on the small console. He heard hushed tones from the two, and then he smiled. The older Berserker simply smashed his armoured gauntlet into the console, and with a hiss of power, the doors begun to raise slowly.
'Damned fools will be sucked out into before they go mad' laughed Arnell as he felt the tug of vacuum pull him towards the gap in the side of the vessel and he watched the two Berserkers falter back towards Caltox. "You two, get that bird airborne! Now" commanded Arnell, his hand pointing towards the grey bird.
With a sly nod, the two Berserkers turned back to the bird and ran up the loading ramps. Less then a minute later, the engines turned over and a spurt of flame licked the deck plating as the engines reached idling speed.
"We go now!" bellowed Arnell as he paced towards the awaiting bird, and as the command filtered through Caltox' Berserkers, the whirr of chainaxes subsided until it was gone. One by one, Berserkers ran up the ramp and into the armoured crew compartment of the bird. Bringing up the rear was Caltox and Calistro, and with the last of Arnell's men onboard, the ramp begun to swing closed and the bird started to pitch upward slightly as it lifted off its skids.
Arnell watched the ramp close, and just as the ramp seals engaged, Arnell was sure he could hear the screech of something unearthly. It had drifted in from outside and it was unmistakable. Arnell smiled as the realisation hit him full on in the face. Daemons had entered the ship now, and even if the charges set on the main drive reactor weren't enough, Arnell knew the ship was certainly doomed now.
The abomination was massive. A whip of pure fire and an axe of pure hatred was gripped in it's titanic hands. It's eyes were primal and it's features ugly. Two massive grotesque wings filled out from it's back, and the brass armour shone in the dim light. Around it's neck, a ring of skulls on a chain were visible, even in the grim light afforded by the candles in this, one of the most revered places on the entire vessel.
"Damned Bloodthirster! Be gone!" snarled Holt when he saw the daemon in it's full glory, "I shall send you back to your master where you belong!"
With a hiss of plasma, Holt launched himself forward towards the daemon. The Chaplain was taken aback by the sudden attack of the Inquisitor and strolled across to where a book was held in stasis. Tapping a few times on the stasis control console, Kypion took the ornate book out of the cabinet and started to flick through the book, clearly intent upon finding something deep in the bowels of the book's knowledge.
"What are you doing, Chaplain?" asked Mintus from across the room as he watched Holt dodge the monster's huge axe and Holt retailiate by shooting white hot bolts of plasma at the creature's chest plate.
"We need knowledge to fight the daemon, and it is contained in this book" offered the Chaplain, his eyes never leaving the yellowed pages of the book, "distract the daemon whilst I find the reference."
With a shallow nod, Mintus ran over to here Holt was fighting the Bloodthirster. Marco kept back, and fired into the combat with his bolt pistol, but only when he was sure he had a clear shot.
At last, the Chaplain found the page. In a deeply serious voice, Kypion begun to read "Lek'lashin, tutuam, obscris, tuinib…"
Marco's eyes widened as the Bloodthirster's mouth fell open and the urge to kill subsided somewhat from the daemon's face. Holt continued to attack despite the daemon's shock whilst the Chaplain continued to speak the words.
"Lek'lashin, decrue!" bellowed the Chaplain and with a wisp of warp power, the daemon was gone.
The ground where the Bloodthirster had stood was red hot to the touch and glowed bright yellow, but it was gone none-the-less. Holt paced over the where the Chaplain had stood, and shook the Chaplain's hand before speaking. "Just what is that book?" enquired the Inquisitor.
"Grimoire of true names, " began the Chaplain whilst the stooped to read a small punched card hanging from the black oak cabinet. "Taken from a dead Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus during the Quiernan Wars" read the Chaplain, allowing the rest take in the other relics which littered the walls and were held in stasis fields.
A number of the dark oak cabinets had been scattered across the floor where the Bloodthirster had struck them and knocked them aside. Their contents had been scattered across the marble floor and they glimmered in the candlelight eerily.
Mintus was the first to ask a question "Are there all the relics of your Chapter placed in here?"
The Chaplain nodded as he walked over to where Mintus had begun to look at a weapon. It was a finely crafted axe with two axe heads and a heavy looking brass chain hanging from it's hilt, allowing the wielder to hang it on his armour when not in use. "That is an axe of Khorne, a deadly weapon in the hands of a Khorne follower. Over there are a number of Khornate chainaxes. Although they are all different designs, they are none-the-less deadly weapons in the right hands."
Holt had detected the admiration that the Chaplain held the bearers of such weapons in and asked directly "you admire them, don't you?"
"I admire the workmanship it takes to create such weapons, and the brute strength that it takes to use them effectively, but other then that, they are my sworn enemy. You can't effectively fight your enemy if you don't know anything about them" offered Kypion, soothing the Inquisitor somewhat with a calm gesture.
"As long as you don't let that admiration cloud your judgment in battle, I can live with that" replied Holt as something caught the Inquisitor's eye. A flicker of movement attracted the Inquisitor over to a free standing cabinet with a glass top. The cabinet itself was half a meter across and a full meter in length.
Inside the cabinet was a number of small branches and mosses growing in random patches and was lined with light brown bark chippings.
"They are Tarssisian Whip Scorpions, quite dangerous" offered the Chaplain. "I know, I'm a native Tarssisian, too. I thought I'd never see these things again" mused Holt, as he watched the small creatures stalk around their home.
"We have a number of creatures from Tarsiss III in these halls. I had ordered that they were collected before you ordered the virus unleashed on our homeworld." The voice was not of the Chaplains, and drifted in from the doorway where the four Imperials had first entered through. Holt turned to the Astartes who was still stood in the doorway.
It was Mars Aran.
Before anyone else could speak, the Librarian preempted the Inquisitor's reply "we have already gone over this, Inquisitor. It was for the good of the Imperium. I understand that. And all that is left of that world now resides within the armoured walls of this vessel. It's people may be dead, but it's traditions and believes certainly not."
Turning to the Chaplain, "was anything damaged?" asked the Librarian.
"A few of the cabinets were broken, but nothing that is irreplaceable has been destroyed, or escaped" the Chaplain added as he put the grimoire back into its holder and reactivated the stasis field.
The bridge was quite and devoid of all life. It was usually awash with sounds, consoles flickering on and off, but none of the terminals were alive with power now. Arnell was unsure of what had happened here, and proceeded at a slow pace as he stepped out onto the bridge. It was bitterly cold, and the rush of cold air hide something.
It wasn't until he had stepped out fully onto the bridge that it had become apparent what had happened. A massive gaping hole had been burnt away in the ships side, exposing the ships bridge to the elemental nature of the Warp itself. A strange haze hissed over the gap in the ship, and Arnell knew that a field was holding the thin atmosphere in. It had not been activated early enough and many of the bridge attendants had been swept out into the void.
Arnell merely smiled at the thought. It pleased him on some level that his followers had died. Snapping back to the present, Arnell spoke openly "Is the ship holding together?"
"It is" hissed back. The voice was distant and seemed to come from everywhere at once.
"What is the state of the Holy Benefactor?" demanded Arnell as he pressed an activation stud on a nearby console, and found it be damaged beyond repair.
"It is destroyed, critical reactor failure" hissed the daemon.
"Then why haven't I ascended?" asked the Lord lowly. He was asking himself, but he got a reply anyway.
"Perhaps he was lying to you, Lord" spat the daemon.
"If he has then I'll have his head!" spat the Lord, venom seething in his voice.
It was in that instant that something caught the Lord's eye. A cold body was drifting outside, floating mere inches from the field which held vacuum out of the bridge.
"Let that body in" ordered the Lord as the sparks of recognition struck at Arnell's mind as he activated the mag-clamps on his terminator armour, securing him in place when the anti-grav plates deactivated.
"As you wish" hissed back from behind the Lord. For a few seconds, the vacuum outside flooded into the room, sucking the air from room, and the vacuum rune flashed in Arnell's helmet as the body floated in through the gap.
When the body had drifted through the gap, the field phased back into existence, and with it, the artifical gravity gripped at the body and dragged it down. The corpse hit the floor with a shallow thud and the Lord strolled over to the corpse. It was lying face down on the armoured plating. The Khorne Lord loomed over the body for a few seconds, when it turned over.
A wry smile played about its face as the Lord gripped the hilt of his berserker glaive tightly. Something didn't feel quite right, thought Arnell. The daemon inside the glaive would usually bay and make it's thirst for blood felt to the Khorne Lord. It seemed to be an empty husk, a lifeless weapon now.
"What manor of sorcery is this?" demanded Arnell as the chunk of meat before him dragged itself up to full height. It wasn't an impressive sight the first time, and it wasn't now. A flicker of thought flashed behind the eyes of the body and Arnell's mind reeled to remember where he had seen the body before.
"You are nothing more then a sack of meat to me, mortal." The voice had an unearthly quality and wasn't quite there. It wasn't in sync with the lips of the corpse standing before him and then a spark of memory flooded into the Khorne Lord's mind. The reanimated body before him was the supposedly null girl onboard the Holy Benefactor.
"Do I have to kill you again?" asked the Khorne Lord openly.
"Your glaive is lifeless mortal. I can't harm me!" screamed the girl.
"That may be, but I can try!" howled the Khorne Lord as he tore the glaive across the girls neck with enough force to snap it like a twig. The blow merely rolled off the body like a club would roll off a battle tank.
"You'll have to do better then that, Arnell" hissed the girl as she brought up her hands. A flash of disbelief flared across Arnell's face as her hands gripped and tore at his armour plating. The remarkable ease of the girl's removal of his chest plate alarmed and shock Arnell to his core.
Throwing armour plates aside with casual ease, Arnell tore the glaive across the girl's head again to no avail. Dropping his weapon, Arnell gripped the girls head between his hands and twisted. The bones snapped beneath the pressure but the girl was still snatching at his armour.
He felt the coldness of the atmosphere tear at his bare skin of his chest and then felt a short, sharp pain as the girl plunged her hand into his chest. He could feel every movement of the daemon girl's hand inside his chest. Puncturing all three lungs and his two hearts, blood oozed out of his wound in a steady stream of blood.
Arnell dropped to his knees as the world grew darker and ever more distant. The last thing he heard was a door opening.
Part 5 Here