Strike of the Falcon
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PrologueVensyvien crouched low behind an outcrop of rock, silent as death. A hot wind swept past throwing up small clouds of sand and grit from the desert floor. The sun glistened off the black plates of his armour casting a low shadow over the ground behind him. His squad waited behind him for any sign of movement, but he was still.
His eyes were focused on a small group of guardsmen that were clumsily and wearily making their way along the narrow trail at the base of the hill. The leader of the group came to a halt to take a sip of his water and passed it among his group until each of the 8 men had taken the edge off their thirst, glistening drops of water rolling over their chins and falling to the ground where they hissed and evaporated. The men were clearly in no state to fight, but their lasguns were no less dangerous. The leader had short black hair, dark eyes and a battle hardened appearance. He was currently surveying a large map of the desert in which he now stood and shaking his head.
Perfect thought Vensyvien ... the group were lost.
He noticed a small glint of light flicker on the horizon far across the sand dunes and with one concentration of thought the visual aids implanted in his mask zoomed in to allow him a better view. One of the men had noticed it too, and was pointing at it with one hand, while covering his eyes with the other. The other men turned to look and each one of them gripped his lasgun tight. A short man with a moustache raised a pair of binoculars to his eyes and scanned the horizon. He spoke a few words to another in the group and Vensyvien's eyes narrowed as one of the men reached for his radio. He heard one of them say
"It should be within range"
The soldier held it up, pressing down the button on its side; the radio crackled into life. This man was taller than most of the others, but lacked the muscular build of the leader. His mouth moved and then he became silent as he released the button to await a response. When none came he looked slightly unnerved and tried again. This time a reply came, although Vensyvien couldn't hear it from his position. It didn't matter, it would make no difference to their fate. Vensyvien could see the source of the light without the need for binoculars; the sun was being reflected from the hull of a Leman Russ battle tank that had just come over the crest of a dune, its heavy tracks treading their pattern into the desert sands, the powerful engine roaring and protesting as it dragged the bulk of metal along. It was the first in a column of approximately 12 vehicles. 3 Imperial sentinels strode along side the metal trail, stomping up clods of dry, cracked dirt, their lascannons protruding menacingly from their metal carapaces. The armoured column was the main spearhead of an even larger force that was thundering across the desert unrelentlessly towards a settlement of humans sympathetic to the Eldar cause, those dissillusioned with the machine of war that is the Imperium. The Yvien clan of Ulthwe had supplied them with weapons, not enough to survive of course, but enough to do some serious damage to the approaching force. Vensyvien saw it as killing two birds with one stone, foolish Mon-Keigh are easily set upon each other, so why risk more lives of his kin than necessary? This small group that his squad had encountered were infact the remnants of a scouting force that his kin had devestated in a quick skirmish several days ago. These were the only survivors that had managed to evade the Vyper squadron that had pursued them, and that was no mean feat.
Vensyvien turned his attention back to the soldier with the radio and tried to make out what was being said.
The soldier was frantically trying to warn whoever was on the other radio,
"We've been ambushed!...repeat, ambush, change heading!...over"
The radio crackled,"...advan..ng...to.ards...noth.rn...co.rdinat.s...ov.r"
"No!" shouted the soldier "Fall back and regroup!"
"Damn it!" the man shouted and threw his radio to the ground in disgust, unaware that it was the nearby Dark Reapers causing his radio to fail.
The soldier spat, "Piece of s*#@"
The leader spoke up, "We'll have to make contact before dark, move out."
Vensyvien didn't want to reveal his squads position, but neither did he want the Imperial Force to know that an ambush awaited them. Within seconds he had made up his mind.
He rose up to full height and brought his shuriken cannon level with the squad of guardsmen, the golden barrel gleaming majestically in the midday sun, and as he did so, the rest of his squad brought their Reaper Lauchers to bear, awaiting the order to fire. Vensyvien pulled the trigger and felt the almighty recoil force the stabilisers in his armour to compress as thousands of viscious shuriken rounds ripped from the barrel and tore through the air towards the startled guardsmen. As the first volley reached the guardsmen one soldiers fell instantly, jets of blood spurting from beneath his armour as he was cut to ribbons by the thousands of razor sharp shurikens. A second man screamed as his left arm was torn to shreds and he fell to the sand, his life blood flowing away. Three men, one of them being the Sergeant, leapt behind a small dune about 10 feet to their right. Two of the remaining three still standing opened fire on the reapers, bolts of scorching superheated red laser bringing down one of the Eldar warriors, the rest of them sputtering into the surrounding sands harmlessly, or their heat absorbed by the Dark Reaper's sturdy armour. One of the men froze, and was cut down by a second burst of fire from Vensyvien's Shuriken Cannon, his head falling from his shoulders with a gore spattered face that had a stunned expression. The Sergeant and two others fired off more rounds from behind the dune but none of them managed to connect. The Dark Reapers opened fire with their Reaper Missile Launchers, small but savage missiles screamed through the air and blew away the two men that were standing, leaving nothing more than a blackened crater in the ground. Vensyvien unleashed more shurikens tearing apart another guardsman who stuck his head up above the dune once to often. The Eldar crouched low behind the crest of their hill and began to reload when they heard two sharp cracks ring out across the desert, the sound rebounding off every rock and cliff face for miles around. Vensyvien motioned for his team to remain low while he raised his head to see what has caused the sound. The squad reamined still for several seconds, and then Vensyvien began to laugh. He answered their question with one word.
The Sergeant and his remaining squad member cannot have run more than 30 feet before they had been picked off by Eldar snipers, their bodies now lay sprawled on the sand, easy pickings for the sscavenging animals of the desert, they would not be joining the war effort.
IntroductionThe Vyper pilot felt himself being pressed deeper into the seat, the pull of the g-forces tugging at his body as the Jetbike powered acroos the desert. The powerful anti-grav engines thrust the sleek craft forwards at speeds in excess of 150 mph, blasted sand froze in the wake of the anti-grav technology and then roasted once again and was swept away as the small craft sped forwards like an arrow at some invisible point. The gunner was safely cocooned inside his suit, protected from the harsh grains of sand by layers of psycho-responsive armour.
He rotated in his elevated seat, perched atop of the Vyper; wielding the mouted Scatter Laser with finess, rotating the platform; first right, then left as he scanned the horizon for potential threats.
Behind them two other Vypers swept over the burning ground brandishing their Bright Lances, the sun reflecting off their menacing black hulls. They were here to take care of any enemy armour the scouting force may encounter.
As the three Vyper Jetbikes covered the ground ahead, behind them cruised a Falcon. It towered above the three smaller craft, caressing them with it's long shadow like a bird of prey keeps it's young under it's wing. The pilot could be barely seen through the glass-like half-sphereoid that contained the cockpit, the bright sunbeams bouncing from it's perfect surface. Above the body of the tank the turret rotated slowly, the Pulse Laser and co-axial Scatter Laser moving as one either side of the contained gunner.
A bird of prey and three serpents hunting together, a force to be reckoned with.
A huge Imperial armoured column at least 400km long was crawling gradually across the great desert towards it's target.
The Eldar were engaging the enemy in quick lightning raids in a campain designed to slow the enemy before they reached their target, a human fortification containing Eldar sympathisers. This would allow the fortified Mon-Keigh time to prepare their great Cannons and War Machines, and marshall their forces. The Eldar had supplied them with many weapons, but not enough to survive of course, just enough to do major damage to the approaching Imperial juggernaught so that the Eldar may finish them off without putting too many of their own kind in the firing line.
So far many Imperial scouts had been neutralised, and a few of the smaller armoured groups. A few times the Imperials had almost raised the alarm, but they had been swiflty dispatched by Eldar scouts and long range fire support units. With a force this huge the Imperials could not keep track of all of it's assets, and if a group did not check in at the end of a day it would be assumed that they had somehow been lost in the massive expanse of desert. This planet was huge, and the Imperial Commanders were not willing to slow the column by searching for missing persons, unless of course one of them was of significantly high rank. The Eldar used this to their advantage.
The sand moved.
In the midst of the swirling desert it slithered; slowly enough to be barely perceptable to the naked eye.
But it WAS moving, stalking slowly forwards bwtween the rolling dunes.
Thousands of grains of sand swept along above the ground, a small whirlwind of yellow-brown crystals about 5 feet tall moving seemingly with a life of its own. A long cylinder of sand protruded from the whirlwind parallel to the sandy floor, searching the horizon . It clung to the floor as if to prevent itself from taking to the air, the base firmly anchored to the ground. But there was something strange about the small cloud of sand.
It was breathing.
Chapter 1Farseer Restayvien stood silently. A Warlock stood opposite to him several feet away, his hands clasped infront of him. Restayvien had an aura about him, a presence; one that commanded respect and obedience, but at the same time emitted youthfullness, and excited energy. His eyes gleamed in the light of the pale orb that was suspended in the air above them.
The Warlock bowed respectfully.
As he raised his head he was once again awed by the power emanating from the Farseer. With his Eyes he could see bright blue and gold laces of energy playing about the room, flowing away from the Farseer and back to him like a river, these were his lifegiving and fortune enhancing powers, those that existed to protect and bolster.
Dark red-purple and black tendrils coiled around the Farseer's body and lash-whipped the air around him menacingly, these were his darkest and most destructive powers. He quickly re-focused his attention on the majestic character in the midst of the swirling forces.
"I am here at your request, I apologize for my being late." The Warlock spoke in a low tone, keeping his eyes fixed to the blue-tinted floor.
Restayvien took a step forwards and gracefully extended a slender hand, bringing the Warlocks eyes level with his own by his chin. He smiled.
"Nyaltaevien my friend, my cousin, there is no need for apologies! And keep your head risen when you speak to me, I am not so high as to have you turn your eyes from me."
"But R...", Nyaltaeyvien began to protest.
"Hush! Now tell me, how are our Kin faring against the loathsome Mon-Keigh?", Restayvien spoke soothingly and calmly, as if he already knew the answer. Of course; he did.
Nyaltaeyvien looked questioningly at Restayvien, a puzzled expression forming itself on his pale face.
"Forgive me Restayvien, but do you not already know the answer? You see all that I do, and far more I imagine...", Nyaltaeyviens eyes looked from left to right as if hoping to find the answer in Restayviens expression. It remained the same. The same warm smile, and the same unnerving shining eyes. The powers visible around him through Nyaltaeyviens eyes gave nothing away, they retained their characteristics, flowing and lashing about the room.
Restayvien took his cousin by the shoulders.
"Indeed I do, but I must be sure that you know. Besides, even my senses are not unfallable." Restayvien emphasized the words 'even my', causing a smile to play across Nyaltaeyviens face.
"Aha, so there is still some of the fun within you cousin", Restayvien smiled.
"Alas, I fear the young spirit is within me still sometimes", Nyaltaeyvien replied with a sigh.
Restayvien slowly shook his head.
"Do not treat it as affliction my friend, it will keep you sane when darkness encroaches upon your soul. We live in troubled times and humour has a part to play in the preservation of our kind, however small it may be."
There was a pause.
Restayvien took a step backwards and his smile faded.
Nyaltaeyvien composed himself.
"The life-band of the planet causes the Mon-keigh from the northern hemisphere to become sluggish, they cannot bear the heat unlike the inhabitants who have become accustomed to it.
This gives us, and our human support, a large advantage.
We attack with swift movements from the south and have lost very few. Their armies are vast, we alone cannot hope to overcome them with our current forces, so far from home that we cannot call for help should we need it.",
Nyaltaeyvien paused, sensing that the Farseer wanted to speak.
"You do see the reason for this do you not?", asked Restayvien with concern in his voice.
"Of course," replied Nyaltaeyvien.
"There is no need to bring our beloved Craftworld so close to the fighting, so we were sent alone, with enough of our kin to complete our objective."
"It is good you understand, someday you will make a fine Seer young cousin of mine."
The ornate door to the chamber began to lighten gently in colour, and the Eye of Isha that was engraved upon it began to glow a soft white, yellow swirls caressing the carved lines.
"Enter En of Yvien." Restayvien projected his words through the sound-proof walls into the mind of the Black Guardian who stood outside.
En was the title given to all lower-rank members of the Yvien clan of Ulthwe.
Nyaltaeyvien ignored the newcomer; not out of spite; but it was how things are done, it is disrespectful for two Eldar to vie for the attention of a Farseer unless he requires to speak to both of them at once.
"What is your trouble En? Speak of it to one who would listen."
The Guardian stood to attention in a gesture of respect.
"Forgive me for intruding Farseer Restayvien, but Warlock Nyaltaeyvien's presence is requested by an Ien of Yvien on the bridge."
"Do not fret En, I will send him to you shortly, you may return to your post."
Restayvien gestured politely towards the door.
The Guardian took once hesitant glance at the Warlock and nodded.
"Of course Farseer Restayvien."
The Guardian turned around and made a quick escape through the door.
"Am I really so intimidating?"
"Not at all, but En must not be used to conversing with a member of the council face-to-face."
Restayvien loooked out through a transparent panel in the wall that stretched the length of the room and gazed down onto the planet beneath the Eldar flagship.
"We are ready."
It was not a question, but a statement.
"Yes", Nyaltaeyvien nodded.
"I will be on my way Restayvien, I hope I can live up to your expectations."
"Do not doubt yourself Warlock, you were born to lead, and so you shall."
By the time Restayvien had turned around several minutes later, the Warlock had gone.
Below the planet burned under the sun, it's ruddy brown and red surface brought a wave of dread tingling down Restayviens spine.
He would tell them, when the time was right.
The sand was breathing. Steadily, slowly and calmly.
It moved purposefully up the side of the dune towards an outcrop of rock that stood nearly thirty feet above the ground, clods of sand sliding out from under it as it's footprints pressed into the ground.
A drop of sweat fell onto the floor and evaporated.
It had now reached the top of the rocky outcrop, The creature knelt upon it and the cylindrical vortex of sand raised itself level with the things eyes.
Barely two hundred feet away a skirmish was reaching its bloody conclusion. Several Imperial Guardsmen had been ambushed by a squad of Eldar Dark Reapers, their projectiles released from the barrels of their Reaper Launchers with a dull thump, then whistling into the guardsmen blowing several of them into oblivion.
One of thier number wielded his Shuriken Cannon with terrifying efficiency, tearing down more of the Mon-Keigh with thousands of razor-sharp hyper velocity shurikens.
The creature watched as the guardsmen returned fire, killing one of the Eldar warriors. The creature stirred, there was a series of loud clicks and chinks and the cylindrical object was replaced with a much longer, thinner cylinder.
The Reapers had taken cover away from the low ridge from which they had been shooting, and the Imperial Guardsmen were sprinting away in a desperate attempt to escape the Reapers effective range.
The movements were swift.
Cold, calculating and efficient.
The creature turned, the cylinder pointed at the men.
Suddenly a crack rang out across the desert and a jagged flash ripped from the end of the cylinder.
One, two and then a third shot rang out and each time one of the guardsmen fell, sprawled out on the desert floor, a small cloud of sand drifting away from where the bodies impacted with the ground.
The creature raised two sand-cloud arms and removed something covering it's head.
As it did so a black shiny surface was slowly uncovered, a pair of eyes, and a face.
The Eldar Ranger allowed his cameleoline cloak to fall to the floor, now fully visible in his flexible armour.
He raised one arm to show the Reapers that he was not a threat and sat down. He pulled a flask out from his belt and slaked his thirst, taking large gulps of crystal clear water, though the water level never dropped.
When he had finished drinking he rose to his feet and donned his cloak, once again becoming one with the desert, and stalked off into the great expanse of sand, his next target unknown to all but him.