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Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

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Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:58 am

Hello all, this is the sequel to Secret War, I was going to start posting this after I finished the interquel, True Throne Agent, but meh! It's a slower start than Secret War, but once they get 'Upon Blood Sands' SHIT GETS REAL! Enjoy! Also it's no longer first person but third person switching, I felt I wanted to explore other characters beside Attelus, but the damned story just seemed to go back to him again and again. Enjoy, again!

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Last edited by Adrassil on Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:53 am, edited 48 times in total.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:22 pm

"This is accurate?" asked Attelus Kaltos as he looked up from the data slate, his hazel eyes wide with surprise.

"As much as it can be," said Interrogator Arlathan Karkin who reclined back in his seat, smiling.

They sat in Arlathan's office on the Audacious Edge, the room was large, a good fifteen by thirty metres. The walls made of shining adamantium and Arlathan's desk was inbuilt with an advanced cogitator. A very long Nalwood cabinet sat against the right side wall, keeping Arlathan's large collection of Amasec and other alcohols. Behind the Interrogator was a window taking up the entire width of the office, allowing a good view of Scintilla, the sector's capital world below. The smog covered hive world reminded Attelus unnervingly of Omnartus.

Shit, it'd been three years, three frigging years since the destruction of Omnartus. So much had happened since then and yet so little, Arlathan's promotion as Inquisitor Enandra's Interrogator, the death of the Space Marine chapter responsible, The Destruction Inculpators and Attelus' own ascension to master assassin by Glaitis' old cult.

It'd taken Vex six months to decipher the data downloaded from Taryst's personal cogitator and Attelus had travelled far and wide, investigating into the leads it gave. Adelana working with him as his apprentice. But all of it had been for nothing, no true clue of Etuarq's whereabouts.

Until now, perhaps.

"And it'd been seven months since it'd occurred?" Attelus asked, trying to keep the anger from his tone.

Arlathan shrugged, looking at Attelus with weary eyes. Much had changed, Arlathan now sported an impressively thick neatly kept beard and his once pitch black hair now speckled with bits of grey. His pale skin was marked with scars, two crossed on his right cheek and one from his brow onto his left cheek. Scars said given to him by the traitor Inquisitor, Devan Torathe on the bridge of the Imperial Crusher, so long ago.

What had gone on there, Attelus still didn't know. Arlathan and Inquisitor Enandra seemed determined to never talk about it. Something which he didn't like, but had to respect.

At the thought of scars, Attelus absently touched the huge, ugly black scar just under his left eye. The scar he still refused to have covered by false flesh unless the job needed it, instead electing to hide it underneath a thick fringe of brown hair.

"You know more than anyone how slow information in the Imperium of Mankind can move," said Arlathan. "This occurred in the Gothic Sector, way to the galactic south-east, we're bloody lucky we received it this soon."

"Of course we were," Attelus sighed, placing a palm over his face.

"Let me have a look," said Karmen Kons as she got up from one of the couches and approached.

Attelus smiled and handed it to her. Karmen's attractive features didn't smile back. She wore a black bodyglove, her shoulder length blond hair dead straight and parted in the middle. She was truly attractive, beautiful, perhaps. Her face heart shaped and high cheek boned. Without a word she took the data slate and began scrolling through it.

"Taryst's records indicated a tenuous at best connection," said Attelus.

Arlathan raised an eyebrow, "to general Tathe? Yes, I know you're unwilling to pursuit this thread. They are from your homeworld, they were your heroes as a child, Estella's too."

He furrowed his brow and looked pointedly at Karmen, she ignored him continuing to read the data slate.

"You've been avoiding it," said Arlathan. "But now you can't afford to any longer. A world was put to the sword at general Tathe's behest, Attelus."

"The information is lacking," stated Karmen. "Doesn't even say the world's name, nor even where it is."

Arlathan sighed, "that was beyond our accessibility, that information is classified. Vermillion level."

"But it did happen?" said Attelus.

"Do not know, the information was taken from the Gothic sector's Inquisitorial data banks by one of our long range operatives, but it still seems worth investigating" said Arlathan. "The Elbyran contingent is taking part in a campaign subduing worlds still held by the archenemy in the Orar subsector since Abaddon the Despoiler's 12th Black Crusade. With the sector highly weakened by Abaddon's forces they've been importing Imperial Guard regiments from other sectors to help."

"Where are they now?" Attelus asked.

"The last we heard, the Munitorum had sent them to retake the mining world of Carkeath, in the Savath system" said Arlathan. "That was a month ago, but there were problems."

"And what are they?" asked Karmen, looking up from her dataslate.

"A day after they were scheduled to arrive, the system was cut off by a freak warpstorm," said Arlathan. "We know that the Orar astropaths received a message from the invasion force just before the system went dark…"

"And let me guess," Interrupted Attelus. "The contents of that message too, was Vermillion level."

Arlathan nodded.

"Isn't that a little strange," said Karmen. "Only bits and pieces of that information being classified."

"All of it is classified," said Arlathan. "Our agent isn't high enough on the totem pole to be able to access just the Vermillion level encoded information."

"And fair enough too," agreed Attelus with a shrug. "But Karmen's right. It is strange. Why not all of it being Vermillion?"

Arlathan smiled, "does this stink as much to you as it does me?" he said.

Attelus smiled and raised his eyebrows, which said, 'of course I frigging do.'

"How does it feel?" said Attelus.

"How does what feel?" asked Arlathan, his eyes narrowing.

"Since being made Interrogator you've become quite the uhh, exposition teller," he said.

"Exposition...teller?" said Arlathan, with a bemused furrowed brow.

"Never mind," said Attelus quickly, shaking his head. "What does the Inquisitor want us to do?"

Arlathan tapped his desk with the tip of his fingernail as a guilty expression crossed his face, "she wants you to travel to Carkeath to investigate the Velrosian 1st and general Tathe. Find out the why and how the Exterminatus happened and if it's connected to Etuarq. Also to find out the fate of the Elbyran contingent."

He took out another two data slates from under his desk.

"We've got a team lined up for you and a ship readied to take you to the Gothic Sector," said Arlathan.

"Yeah, that's all well and good and all," said Attelus leaning back in his seat, folding his arms across his chest. "But that's going to be hard, because, y'know it's cut off due to a warp storm and it's also so frigging far away."

"Yeah," sighed Arlathan. "But she also said that, that isn't her problem. That if you have to wait on Orar for the warp storm to clear, then you'll wait on Orar for the warp storm to clear."

"What!" both Karmen and Attelus exclaimed at once.

"That could take frigging centuries!" cried Karmen, the showing the most amount of emotion Attelus had heard from her in a long time.

"The Inquisitor also said that's what rejuvenant treatments are for," said Arlathan. "She also said during that time you could set up a better spy network for our organisation in the Gothic Sector."

Attelus frowned and looked at his data slate, scrolling through the list of agents, he really liked what he saw but…

"Yeah and how can we do that with a squad of ten people?" said Karmen sullenly, verbalising the question Attelus wanted to ask too. "Including us."

Arlathan shrugged, "she said you'll also be well funded. You can hire your own agents once there."

"Of course she did," Attelus said as he shook his head with a smile. "What else did mamzel Enandra say?"

"She also said that Attelus would say 'of course she did,' a few times and would be quite happy with at least one member of the squad," said Arlathan, then he looked at Karmen. "She also said that Karmen wouldn't be…"

Karmen's narrowing eyes made Arlathan quickly shut up.

Arlathan cleared his throat and straightened, "all the rest of the information you need is in your data slates. She also said that it's up to you to brief your squad members."

"Of course…," Attelus started to say, but smiled and stopped himself. "We're done?"

Arlathan nodded, "the mamzel wishes for you to be gone in as soon as two days. She'd also like you to give us a call over the vox when you're ready to leave. So we can see you off."

Attelus got off his seat with a sigh and they turned and started toward the door.

"Attelus," said Arlathan causing Attelus to stop in his tracks. "About Adelana…"

"You've already said enough on her," Attelus snapped. "I don't want to hear anymore now! Okay?"

Arlathan expression was one of sadness before he nodded and lowered his gaze to the cogitator in his desk.

The door slid closed behind Attelus as he stepped into the corridor. Karmen stood, her arms folded over her ample chest, her full lips pouting in annoyance. There was no sign of the horrid, self inflicted scars on her face anymore, the false flesh that covered them was grafted perfectly by Inquisitor Enandra's best surgeons.

Attelus met her gaze for a few seconds before he turned right and continued down the corridor, studying the data slate, his feet silent as they walked over the steel grating.

Karmen fell in step with him, her footfalls clanging in contrast to Attelus' complete silence.

"What do you think?" she said.

Attelus sighed, stopped and lowered his data slate, turning to Karmen.

"That this assignment is a right royal pain in the arse," he sighed, before continuing on again.

He'd only made a few metres more, before Karmen's voice said in his mind, +can your other benefactor help us in this?+

Attelus shrugged, I'll ask her, she what she has to say. It wouldn't be the first time Farseer Faleaseen had provided them a literal shortcut in their endeavours. Only Adelana and Karmen knew of his connection to the Eldar, but it seemed that was going to change.

Temporarily, perhaps.

Karmen nodded, "we have better get the others together," she said, reaching for her vox bead, but she stopped as Attelus raised his hand.

"No," he said, "Inquisitor Enandra seems to know everything about everyone. Let's see if we do. We'll try to find them."

"Sounds like a complete waste of time to me," said Karmen, folding her arms again.

Attelus grinned, "come on Karmen, just humour me here, please."

She rolled her eyes, but was smiling as she groaned and said, "fine! Have it your way! I swear you're like a child sometimes. If we're delayed because of it, it's on you, alright?"

"Don't you worry, we won't," he said.

"Where to first?" she asked.

Attelus smiled, "the training area, of course."

Attelus had lied, of course. Along the way he just had to stop at the kitchen to get himself a cup of caffeine.

They walked side by side, Attelus with one hand in the pocket of his black flak jacket, while sipping from his cup with the other.

Karmen couldn't help but smile. She remembered the little, stick thin but deadly teenager she'd found in the ruins of Varander ten years ago. Now Attelus was an exceptionally handsome and accomplished young man. He was thin but svelte. His skin pale white and his lips deep red. His sharp featured, eflin face was quite feminine made even more so by his shoulder length brown hair. Karmen always felt he'd look even better if he had his hair cut short, she'd suggested it once or twice, but was promptly ignored. Attelus was far older than he looked, being twenty seven, but looking perhaps, eighteen, nineteen. How he managed to look so youthful after everything was quite beyond her. Karmen knew more of Attelus Kaltos than she'd cared to admit, she knew how hard a life he'd had and couldn't help marvel at how well he'd pulled through it all.

He'd had help, Karmen supposed, Inquisitor Enandra and the little bitch had given him much in the way of moral support over the last three years.

Attelus quickly noticed Karmen looking at him, his five senses were always as sharp as Karmen's sixth and gave her a smile.

Karmen forced away her own smile and looked away, she hadn't forgiven him, she would never forgive him.

He frowned sadly and fixed his attention forwards, he'd seemed to have got the idea of their relationship a long time ago. There was to be no friendship, they were be acquaintances, professionals and that was that.

It was his own damned fault, and as he would say, in all honesty.

They turned and walked through the doorway leading into the training facility

All around dozens upon dozens of elite soldiers under Enandra's command were practising hand to hand drills, bayonet techniques and disarming and wrestling style fighting on blue soft mats

Almost everyone was a large bastard, as muscular as Attelus was thin. Their every technique was brilliant and practised almost to perfection. She tried not to stare, many men were stripped to the waste, their sweat slicked torsos corded with muscle. Some were women, but only a few.

In the corner of her eye, Karmen saw Attelus looking on with a small measure of an amused, half smile, his brow furrowed arrogantly.

None of them could even come close to taking him and he knew it. Attelus was one of the most dangerous individuals Karmen had ever met and that was saying a lot. His arrogance was almost justified, almost. He must never forget, that there was always someone, somewhere better.

Karmen looked over the Stormtroopers training but saw no sign of anyone on their list.

"Try the sparring cages," Attelus said, scratching the back of his head before slipping his hand back into its pocket and taking another sip of caffeine.

They moved through the thoroughfare, many a soldier noticed them and stopped to salute or make the sign of the Aquila.

Attelus and Karmen nodded or saluted back politely.

They eventually came to the five large sparring cages set at the end of the huge hall. In the first one figure was a complete blur of speed and skill, fighting off five close combat servitors with blunted blades at once, so much so Karmen couldn't even make out who it was.

"Hey Darrance!" Attelus yelled quickly as they stopped to watch. "A frig head says what?"

It was Darrance, how the hell Attelus was capable of telling that was anyone's guess

Darrance didn't deign to reply he just continued his battle.

"Hmm, was worth a try," said Attelus with a smile and a shrug, looking sidelong at Karmen

Karmen was about to reply when abruptly there was a loud buzz and a servitor's flat toned voice said, "horizontal slash to sternum a fatal blow, end of session."

Darrance let out a frustrated growl as he spun away flourishing his long, two handed sword to whip off the imaginary blood and stalked toward them. Darrance was very pretty as well, but his features were grimmer, much more gaunt and haughty. His white hair was once long but now he wore it close cropped and short. He was also thin and long limbed but was much taller than Attelus being just under two metres. Darrance was obviously highborn, Karmen had been a lord's daughter back on Velrosia, she had to have many dealings with the upper class as a child so she knew his type well.

Spoilt and totally up himself but he wasn't without his merits, he was a swordsman of equal skill to Attelus but was also an extensively talented pilot and held much in the way wisdom and intellect, he was usually more correct than not in his statements and assumptions. He and Attelus were once mercenaries working under the same assassin sect, they still did but were permanently outsourced under Enandra's command.

But, Karmen was sure both of them were truly loyal to Enandra.

"I hope you are aware…" Darrance gasped but stopped himself and frowned, he was obviously going to call Attelus 'apprentice' but that title didn't fit him any more. "Attelus, you made me frig up then."

Attelus grinned as if it was the greatest achievement of his entire existence, it proved infectious and Karmen couldn't help smile along with him. After Omnartus' destruction, it'd taken a long time for Attelus to be able to smile again, a very long time. He had a nice smile and she'd missed it greatly.

Darrance smirked, shook his head, turned away and barked, "training simulation! Level ten, start!"

Attelus took another sip of caffeine and they walked on, idly gazing into the sparring cages. In the next were two more assassins from the cult, Delathasi and Kerlia were sparring. Delathasi was wielding dual short blades while Kerlia, she fought with a two handed axe.

Both were a blur, but not quite as quick or skilled as Darrance. They were young, seventeen so inexperienced. Delathasi was apprenticed to Darrance and Kerlia was under Hayden Tresch. Although Hayden was no where to be seen. Kerlia was like Hayden more of a sniper, but she still seemed intent on practising with close combat weaponry.

Attelus and Karmen stopped, watching them. Karmen, a long time ago, before she had focused on her gift, was quite the swordswoman and she could see Delathasi was holding back.

"Hmm, pretty good," said Attelus, his words tinged with melancholy and Karmen knew why, they both reminded him of Elandria.

It was in the third they found two of the people they were looking for, Adelana and Helma were locked in combat. They wielded blunted practise long swords and Karmen couldn't help but be impressed by their skill. Both had only started to learn the blade three years ago and both had learned under Attelus.

Attelus smiled like a proud father and drunk back the rest of his caffeine in one long gulp.

"Still got a long way to go, though," said Attelus absently. "To catch up with Delthasi and Kerlia."

"And those two will just keep on improving as well," said Karmen. "I don't think they'll ever catch up, Delathsi and Kerlia have been training since they were really young."

Attelus grimaced and shrugged, quickly seeing her point.

Karmen felt a very familiar presence, a very familiar feeling, this despite her trying to suppress her gift and she turned to see two women in black singlets and combat pants walking toward their way. Karmen recognised them as trainees on the matts and quickly remembered their names, troopers Salantha and Olianthis. Both were drenched in sweat and looking at Attelus as they walked past. The emotion which radiated from them like a blindingly powerful lamp pack, was attraction, but Karmen didn't need to be a telepath to tell that. It was a regular occurrence and Karmen fought back her annoyance, women were just as bad as men at objectification, if not even worse. With her gift no longer so suppressed she started to sense at least twenty of the men around in the room were attracted to her, looking at her. Their thoughts ranged from disgusting to moderately respectful, some were even somewhat nice.

Hissing through clenched teeth, she pushed away the thoughts whirling through her mind, then gave the two woman a withering glare which caused them to look away and continue quickly onward.

Karmen looked back into the cage, and she glanced sidelong at Attelus. He was so entrenched in watching he hadn't even noticed them checking him out, which was uncharacteristic. Karmen knew why, he was really looking at Adelana, who was also only in a sweat slicked singlet and combat pants. Adelana was a pretty thing, beautiful in fact, her face diamond shaped, with a long nose and full, lusciously red lips. Her skin was very pale and covered in freckles, her tied back hair red with brilliant blonde streaks.

As Attelus has said, Adelana was truly beautiful, but in an understated way, like many of the bird species back on Velrosia. They were coloured with dark greens and blues unlike the birds of the Elbyran continent of Aluthisa where they were bright, overly ostentatious. Velrosian birds were no less pretty but in a different way. As Attelus was popular with the women, she was just as popular with the men and there were many competing for her affection in the organisation.

Karmen frowned and folded her arms, they didn't have time for this.

+Helma! Adelana!+ she sent, with a bit more force than necessary, causing them to stop and flinch in pain. +Get out here, we've got a mission!+

Both Helma and Adelana, glared at her but quickly Helma opened the door and they stepped out.

"A mission?" growled Helma, she was a short, plain faced woman with ruddy brown skin and a large, ugly scar on her left cheek. Her blonde hair was close cropped short and her build more muscular than many men. She was a soldier, hard edged and unsentimental, a leader. She'd been a captain in the 51st Fenksworld regiment and so was a captain in Taryst's mercenary forces which was modeled on the Imperial guard. Over the past three years she'd proven a masterful military tactician, and a dependent, ruthlessly effective long range fighter, but lacked true talent for undercover work.

"Yes," said Karmen and looked to Adelana, she was the exact opposite to Helma. While she too was an excellent shot and only average close combatant. Adelana seemed to have a natural affinity for undercover and stealth work. Only after three years of training she was already one of their best. Karmen had to admit her and Attelus made for an excellent team, both having skill sets that complemented and contrasted each other well.

"It's a pretty big one too," said Attelus.

"We finally have a lead on Etuarq?" asked Adelana sounding excited and looking at Attelus intently.

He shrugged and met her gaze. Adelana was one of the very few native Omnartisians left and so was one of the most eager to bring the rogue Inquisitor to justice.

"Perhaps," he breathed, Karmen knew out of all of Adelana's features, Attelus appreciated her large sea-blue eyes the most. "But there's no guarantee."

Adelana pursed her lips and nodded in disappointment, but continued to look at Attelus.

"Anyone know if anyone else on the list is here?" said Karmen and she read from the dataslate the list of squad members assigned to the mission.

"No," said Helma bluntly and she furrowed her brow. "Why do you ask? Why not call them over the comms?"

Karmen smiled and waved a thumb at Attelus, "mr weirdo here wishes to waste time tracking all of you down. I thought I'd humour him."

"I'm right here, you know," said Attelus, but still grinned from almost ear to ear.

"Says it's a test," said Karmen. "See how well we know the people who are to work with us."

"And I was right," said Attelus proudly. "I knew they would be here."

Karmen raised an eyebrow, "it hardly takes a genius to think that someone might be at the training room, Attelus."

Attelus raised his hands, the empty cup hanging from his index finger, "alright! Alright! Is it annual take the piss out of Attelus day, is it?"

"Everyday is take the piss out of Attelus day," Adelana laughed.

"Story of my life," said Attelus with a good humoured sigh.

"We may as well come with you," said Helma, "try to speed up this farce a bit."

Attelus pursed his lips and tore his attention away from Adelana to Helma, trying to see if the ex-guardswoman was joking or not and frowned as he quickly saw she wasn't.

He sighed, slipped his free hand into it's pocket, turned on the balls of his feet and started back.

"Alright, alright," he said. "Can't waste any more time, we've better head on then."

"Where to first?" said Adelana as they started after him.

"I'm taking a wild guess," said Karmen. " And saying...the shooting range."

Attelus, with his back to them, muttered something indignantly.

"Yeah," said Karmen, smiling. "We're going to the shooting range."

Much to no one's surprise the shooting range indeed their next destination.

Attelus was the first through the door and they approached the desk of the range's custodian, a grumpy middle aged and going to seed ex-guardsman named Gorres. Gorres sat back casually in his worn leather chair, reading a data slate. Karmen knew how much of a sleaze the old bastard was and had no wish to know what he was looking at.

"Yo," said Attelus as they approached and he held up his cup. "Mind if I give you this?"

Gorres sat up and glared Attelus up and down as though he'd just asked if he could lay with his daughter. (Calestia Gorres was a pretty little trainee just starting in the Stormtrooper corps)

"Please," said Attelus, grinning and shaking the cup.

"Ahh give here!" growled Gorres and snatched the cup from Attelus with impressive speed. "You maybe a big mighty Throne agent now, but I've been workin' in this organisation before you were even in ya daddy's sack! I ain't ya bloody servitor, got it?"

"Fair enough," said Attelus, raising his hands in diplomatic supplication. "Never would've even considered you were, not for a second. Thank you by the way."

"Yeah," growled Gorres. "If ya gonna go into the range, don't forget to wear your damn ear protectors."

"Of course," said Attelus as he approached the wall the ear protectors hung off and he began to take them down and started to hand them to the others.

They walked through the thick glass steel doors and into the range and even with the ear protectors on, the discharge of weapons fire was horrid. Causing Karmen to involuntarily wince.

The firing range was huge, easily as large as the practise area, but despite this it wasn't large enough, as they past by a long line of soldiers waiting to take their turn at the range. Most of them gazing appreciatively at Adelana and Karmen while they walked.

They were half way through when they found another assigned to their team and Karmen wasn't surprised at all to find him here. Trooper Jelket, stood, las gun braced as he took shot after shot at the target. He wore his Stormtrooper carapace but was helmetless. Jelket was an average looking man of average height and average build. His skin was tanned and his black hair curly, scruffy. He'd lost his right arm from an Astartes bolter round back on Omnartus, now it was replaced by an advanced augmetic. That seemed almost normal at first glance. But at closer look one could see the joints in the fingers.

Karmen liked Jelket, he was an intelligent, forward thinking, observant character, but also strangely dumb in other circumstances. He was awkward but always pleasant, kind but more than a little bit paranoid. A real conspiracy theorist, in fact he was one of the first people who'd figured out about Taryst's secret before anyone else.

Most of his other theories were a bit beyond reality, even for Attelus' taste who too was paranoid beyond belief.

Jelket paused in his shots and turned to them as they approached, grinning widely.

"Hey! What are you guys doing here?" he said.

"You caught up to Hayden yet?" asked Attelus.

Jelket shook his head, he was one of the best shots in the organisation, but Hayden Tresch was the best and the two had a friendly rivalry. Karmen had never felt any bitterness from Jelket for being second best (in fact he held that position with at least three others, depending, as it would change constantly, but Jelket was always at least fifth, there was fierce competition for second place)

"You guys here to support me?" asked Jelket, sounding legitimately hopeful. "Cheer me on?"

"No," stated Helma, folding her arms across her chest, her tone implied she thought such a thing would be the biggest waste of time in the galaxy.

Jelket pursed his lips and grimaced, looking highly disappointed.

"We're here because we need you for another mission," said Karmen, trying to a bait the young ex-guardsman's frown.

"Oh? Really?" he said. "Something about that shit-head Etuarq?"

"Perhaps," said Attelus. "Can't guarantee anything yet."

"You know I suggested we look into Marius Hax, right?" said Jelket. "He must be involved being the lord-"

Attelus raised a hand, causing Jelket to cut his sentence short. "Yes," he sighed. "You've said that on numerous occasions now, but there is no true evidence that he's involved, there was no mention at all of him in Taryst's records. Anyway, Omnartus was a hub world, it's production of minerals was huge and served the sub-sector and even the entire Calixis sector well. It'd even supplied some excellent Imperial Guard regiments, many still in service now, I really doubt, even if he is a traitor he was involved at all."

"But that's what he wants you to think!" insisted Jelket.

Attelus sighed and rolled his eyes, then checked his wrist chron, "and how do you propose we find that out? Burst into his office, put a las pistol to his head and get him to spill his secrets? We maybe Inquisition now but we haven't the right without sufficient evidence and even if we did every Amalathian from here to Thracian Primaris would be on our arses faster than you can say, 'you idiot.'"

Attelus sighed, "just please meet us at briefing quarters 56a at 1600, got that?"

"Yes sir!" said Jelket with a salute.

They pushed past Jelket who continued on with his practise.

"You and I are both aware that we have, as we speak, spies investigating into Marius Hax and his underlings on Scintilla," Karmen whispered in his ear.

"Of course," said Attelus with a small smile. "But I wouldn't admit that to him, would you?"

Karmen smiled, seeing his point.

"Besides," said Attelus, while stretching his long arms over his head and intertwining his fingers together. Karmen was sure that he didn't even know he was doing it, the instinct so entrenched in his psyche. "It's just a necessity, we're doing it with pretty much all the rulers across the sector, or at least trying to. You know, just in case."

They only had to walk a few metres more to find another member of their squad. Torris was waiting in the line, shotgun slung over his shoulder his arms folded over his chest.

Torris was a large, muscular man with very dark brown skin. He was once one of Taryst's most capable employees and before that a member of the Adeptus Arbites on Malfi. With his background of law enforcement he was incredible at reading people, so much so Karmen couldn't help suspect he might have some latent psychic ability. He had after the Omnartus incident, in respect to his murdered friend, Jeurat Garrakson taken up training for heavy weapons and due to his size and strength proved a natural.

He'd once been a charismatic, cheery caring person, but after Omnartus he turned grim and ruthless. Torris still blamed Attelus for the death of their friend and would never forgive him for it, which Karmen couldn't help feel was a true tragedy. If Adelana could forgive Attelus for his role in the death of her homeworld, why couldn't Torris forgive him for what Garrakson did? What also made it sadder was Karmen was sure it wasn't really Attelus' fault. They'd been good friends, and Attelus had needed that friendship over the last three years. Karmen had attempted to talk with Torris in private once or twice about it but the ex-arbitrator wouldn't hear of it.

Despite this, Torris was pragmatic enough to to put aside this for the mission. He still respected Attelus somewhat for his skill as a spy and an assassin, but that was that.

"Marcel," said Karmen as they approached.

Torris sniffed and looked them over, "we got a mission?" he asked.

Karmen nodded.

"Good, about frigging time," he growled and looked at Attelus from under a hooded brow. "And you're the leader, I assume?"

Attelus frowned and said, "I am."

Torris nodded but showed no emotion.

Adelana stepped past Karmen, her hands balled into fists.

"We're to meet at briefing room 56a at 1600," she growled through gritted teeth. "Alright?"

Karmen pursed her lips, it was generally well known that Adelana really disliked Torris. For obvious reasons.

Torris grimaced slightly, looking down at Adelana, folding his thick arms across his wide chest.

Karmen didn't have to be a telepath to tell it meant; 'what right do you have to order me around, little girl?'

Karmen cleared her throat, causing Torris to look her way.

"We're looking for Verenth, Hayden, Vark and Halsin," she said, ignoring Attelus' glare and pouty look. "You know where any of them are?"

Torris shrugged, "where Hayden is, is anyone's guess, could be with the Tech Priests, could be in the armory, could be at the frigging library. Verenth's probably in his quarters, he isn't here so he's most likely there. Vark's probably in the Ecclesiarch. Halsin, well he's most definitely…"

"Here," a voice interrupted him and Torris turned to reveal Halsin who approached them. A laspistol held confidentially in his left hand.

With his bulging thyroid eyes, beneath his thick framed glasses, he always looked like he was in a constant state of surprise.

Halsin was once a tall, scrawny, awkward medicae under Taryst's employ but over the past three years he'd grown. Volunteering as a front line medicae he had served on many assignments since they were taken under Inquisitor Enandra's wing. This as well as countless hours of training with the Stormtrooper corps had hardened him, giving him some confidence. He wasn't as good as any of the elite soldiers, but could still hold his own in a fight. Unless it was close combat, he was still gangly but only a little less now. But his supreme skill with a scalpel, bandaging and ability to keep calm under pressure more than made up for that.

"Halsin!" said Attelus. "Good to see you."

Halsin was one for few words, he simply grimly nodded in reply.

"Been practising at the range?" Attelus said. "What's your percentile now?"

Halsin grimaced in distaste and answered hesitantly, "seventy nine."

Attelus shrugged, "still better than me."

"Well, even a cross eyed Grox could shoot better than you!" said Adelana, but with a playful grin causing both Torris and Helma to chuckle with amusement. Karmen couldn't help roll her eyes. She hated their flirty, playful banter.

Attelus furrowed his brow and pursed his lips, before a wide smile crossed his face, "I do get seventy to seventy three, I doubt a cross eyed Grox could do quite that well. We all can't be good at everything, unless you're a freak called Hayden Tresch."

"The only freak around here is you," said Helma making mostly everyone, even Karmen chuckle.

"I am presuming we have an assignment," said Halsin, as humourless as ever.

"You presume correctly," said Torris. "You seen Verenth, Tresch or Vark?"

"Verenth and Hayden I wouldn't have a clue," he said. "But I saw Verenth not long ago, when I was leaving the medicae. As I understand it, he's getting a tattoo."

"What? Yet another tattoo?" exclaimed Adelana.

"Yes, another tattoo," said Halsin, sharing none of Adelana's astonishment.

"Well!" said Attelus. "Next stop, the medicae."

"Or you could, you know, call them," said Helma. "Because that's what Vox links are for."

Attelus shrugged and sighed, "alright, we'll go get Verenth, then call the other two."

"That's not what I meant," muttered Helma, although Helma had been a captain and was older than Attelus, she'd never begrudged his more senior status, but she had little patience for his eccentricities.

"You guys wanna come with?" said Attelus, ignoring her.

Halsin and Torris exchanged a look.

Torris shrugged, "yeah I'll come, don't want Attelus having his own bloody harem, do we?"

"What? You jealous, Torris?" said Attelus with a wide grin.

"Correction," said Torris. "Don't want him thinking he's got his own harem."

"I think, therefore I am," said Attelus.

Torris pursed his lips and shrugged, conceding defeat, "you make that up now, or get it from somewhere?"

Attelus shrugged back, not rising to the bait.

"I guess I will come too," said Halsin. "Will need to retrieve some equipment from there anyway."

"Alrighty," said Attelus. "Let's get going, then."

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Tue Sep 19, 2017 12:09 pm

It didn't take long for them to find Verenth in the large medicae, they just had to follow the loud buzzing sound to it's source. Verenth sat stripped to the waist as surgeon Solvik applied the ink to his bicep.

If Adelana could describe her fellow Omnatisian in one word it would be, 'snake.' She'd never actually seen a snake, not first hand, but she'd read about them and seen illustrations. Verenth was a tall, very thin and long limbed young man, but that wasn't what was most snake like about him. That was his eyes. Stark, pitiless and coloured a strange, light green. His plain, gaunt almost chinless face was hard, perpetually frowning. His head shaven, allowing everyone to see the numerous tattoos covering his skull.

Adelana was never sure how to act around the passionate, intense ex-hammer, he too was one of the few remaining survivors of Omnartus, that made any and all interaction out of assignments very awkward. Not just that but he scared her, constantly it felt he was going to explode into rage in any second, especially when around Attelus. Adelana had once thought it was because of the part Attelus had played in the destruction of their homeworld. But she'd learned from Attelus that it wasn't just that, but the assassin had also killed Verenth's brother, Verenth had even witnessed it first hand. Unlike Torris he had a very good reason to hate Attelus but despite this the ex-hammer still worked under the ex-mercenary. Like Torris he was pragmatic and saw the big picture enough to know there was more at stake.

"Hey Verenth," said Attelus with a small wave as they approached, causing the ex-hammer's attention to snap at him, his perpetually frowning face somehow frowned even more.

"What is it?" he growled, eyeing them from under his hooded brow.

"We've been assigned a mission," said Attelus, still sounding cheery despite Verenth's demeanor. Verenth never seemed to intimidate Attelus or Attelus never showed the intimidation he felt. Out of everyone in their group, besides, maybe, Tresch. Verenth had the highest chance of killing the super human. He was a gunslinger, his hands faster on the draw with his auto pistol and stubb revolver than thought, inhumanly fast in fact. He was also one of the five top contestants for second best shot in the organisation. If he could somehow catch Attelus off guard…

Adelana glanced at Karmen who stood next to her, the psyker's expression was unreadable her arms folded across her ample chest. No, Adelana corrected herself, if any one here could kill Attelus it was Karmen Kons. Adelana knew she didn't like her, hated her in fact and she knew why. This despite Adelana never intending to ever have any kind of relationship with him, inspite of…

Adelana should've been utterly terrified by the psyker's enmity, knowing what Karmen Kons was capable of, but she wasn't. The Psyker was not petty, in fact she was one of the most reliable people on the team, she'd saved Adelana's life on countless occasions over the past three years. In fact if it wasn't for her Adelana would've died with Omnartus.

"If you haven't guessed yet," said Attelus knocking Adelana from her train of thought.

Verenth sighed, shook his head and rolled his eyes, "yeah, I guessed, boss. I was just hoping it wasn't, that somehow not saying it would make it untrue."

Attelus smiled, apparently ignoring Verenth's sarcasm when he said 'boss.'

"Fair enough," said Attelus, he never seemed to begrudge Verenth of his immense dislike toward him. He understood it and was genuinely regretful for the injustice he'd perpetrated. "And as much as I respect anyone who fights fate, the frigging bastard. I'm sorry to say it's won this day."

Verenth groaned, "alright, just let Solvik finish my tattoo."

"Can he do it in..." Attelus checked his wrist chron. "Fifteen minutes? We've got briefing room 56a booked at 1600."

Verenth scowled and looked pointedly at the tattoo on his left bicep. Adelana was no expert but it seemed far from finished. From what was done it looked like the starting of a winged, green robed, faceless figure holding a sword to it's chest, tip downward.

"Hmm," said Attelus, stroking his thin chin. "Dark Angels, right?"

Verenth stiffened visibly.

"They saved my homeworld from invasion," said Attelus. "They've interested me ever since."

"Funny," growled Verenth. "Space Marines saved your world but destroyed mine."

Attelus frowned, "that's why I find it ironic that you would…"

"Last time I checked," interrupted Verenth. "It wasn't the Dark Angels who did it, it was the Destruction Inculpators or The Desolation Inculpators, whatever, they're gone now, faced justice. Just because they did it doesn't mean all Space Marine chapters are the same."

"Besides," said Verenth. "I think it just looks frigging cool."

Attelus nodded, "sorry to interrupt your tattoo but if it's any consolation this mission may or may not involve our enemy."

Verenth's snake-like eyes widened briefly, "you mean the enemy?"

Attelus shook his head and he turned to walk away, "perhaps and emphasis on perhaps," he said with another brief wave. "See you soon."

"I'll be there," said Verenth as Attelus lead them away. "I'll frigging be there."

Adelana could see Attelus was smiling slightly and Torris, glaring at him in disapproval. That was another reason why Torris didn't like him, he could be so very manipulative.

If any one scared Adelana, truly scared her it was Attelus Xanthis Kaltos. She knew he'd been through hell, and couldn't help admire that he didn't come out of it worse off, but she knew he was constantly teetering on a precipice between sanity and insanity. That in any second he could fall permanently into the metaphorical darkness, into his murderous, manipulative mentality. It was only sheer force of will that prevented it. That was one the many reasons she didn't want more, to be more that just colleagues, she knew he dearly wanted that but…

"I'll get Hayden and Vark over the vox," said Helma interrupting Adelana's thought process and she reached for her microbead.

"Yes," said Attelus. "You do that."

After Halsin collected his equipment, they left the medicae.

It took them about five minutes to walk through the thin, gunmetal grey corridors and Adelana's mind wandered. She'd been through much in the past three years, fought along side Space Marines on two separate occasions, the first time was with the Space Wolves, second the Death Watch when her and Attelus had allied with the ordo Xenos Inquisitor, Lorris to stop a Genestealer cult on Sinophia. She'd even travelled all the way to Segmentum Ultima via Attelus' 'connections,' and back. She'd faced down mutants, heretics and even daemons. But most of all she'd killed, she'd killed a lot of people, more than she could've imagined. The first time it'd been traumatic, on the flag ship the of traitor Inquisitor, Torathe. During the initial boarding action she'd taken the top off a Storm Trooper's skull with one well placed shot. She hadn't felt anything at the time due to the adrenaline but after the fight, when recovering from her injuries, she'd wept.

Attelus had helped her through it, he was unusually open with his emotions and told her he'd felt the same the first time he'd killed too. A chaos cultist invader during the invasion on his homeworld when he was fifteen.

Despite never enjoying the killing, she felt right, she had purpose and a truly worthy one at that. A far greater one than if she'd wound up working in the Magistratum as she'd initially intended. She just wished that it didn't need to start with the death of her homeworld.

She'd never get over that, not truly. Not even after they hunt down that bastard Etuarq and bring him to justice

Adelana eyed Attelus as he walked ahead of her, in his usual pose, hands in the pockets of his black flak jacket. She'd forgiven him for the part he unwittingly played in Omnartus' fate, it'd been frigging hard, though and taken her awhile. He'd saved her mostly due to selfish reasons, all just because she'd been nice to her.

It was pretty damn pathetic, pitiful, almost. In fact it'd taken her longer to forgive him of that, than the role he'd played in Omnartus.

She'd learned a lot from the now master assassin over the past three years and despite some initial hiccups he'd proven a pretty damn good teacher. Eventually.

Adelana had often wondered why the Inquisitor had promoted Arlathan to Interrogator over Attelus or Karmen Kons or the many other more senior candidates. But so far Inquisitor Enandra had led them exceedingly well, she'd made very few mistakes. She'd helped Adelana through the depression after the death of Omnartus, Enandra must know what she was doing.

She'd worked exclusively with Attelus for so long she'd never actually seen Arlathan (who worked exclusively with the Inquisitor) So she didn't exactly have the best knowledge of his abilities but surely they pailed in comparison to the super human Attelus or the extraordinary psychic abilities of Karmen Kons?

Adelana had never approached Karmen on the matter but she had once asked Attelus. He'd just shrugged and said.

"Arlathan knows his shit, he used to be a selfish arsehole, but has changed for the better. I respect him and I really don't envy him the responsibility. Besides, I think it's also more uhh personal, if you catch my drift."

Adelana did 'catch his drift' (a saying she'd never heard before, must be native to his homeworld) Arlathan was a very handsome man, even with the beard and it was well known that Arlathan and Sergeant Kollath, the leader of Enandra's personal bodyguard, were in constant competition for the attractive Inquisitor's affections but Adelana had hoped it was more than that. Attelus seemed to believe it, so maybe it was, but it wouldn't be the first time he was wrong and it definitely wouldn't be the last.

In silence, they turned the corner headed toward 56a, their foot falls clanging on the metal grating. Everyone's beside Attelus' and Adelana's.

Three men stood waiting at the entrance Jelket, Vark and Hayden Tresch.

Vark was dressed in his Stormtrooper carapace and took up most of the corridor's width with his bulk. Vark had been long ago designated as Karmen Kons' bodyguard, accompanying her on missions to watch over Karmen when she'd leave her body in her incorporeal form. An effective soldier of all round ability, he'd once served in Taryst's elite Stormtrooper corp. A deeply religious man (a rarity amongst mercenaries, even before he became a former mercenary) Adelana, who'd never been terribly religious and recognised the more secular nature of the organisation found it disconcerting. He could proselytise often and it got on her nerves. Him and Karmen were both quite religious and that, Adelana guessed, was one of the reasons why they worked together. Vark's was plain of face, his skin a ruddy brown and his small beady eyes light blue. His closed cropped hair blond. Vark's most unique feature was his large cleft chin, it was hard for Adelana to keep her attention away from it when in conversation with him.

Tresch, unlike Vark didn't need to wear Stormtrooper carapace to dominate the corridor. Broad shouldered, long limbed. The large, two metre tall sniper wore a grey bodyglove and leaned against the wall, arms folded across his wide chest. He was perhaps one of the most talented individuals she'd ever met. As Attelus had once said Hayden was, 'a jack of all trades and a master of quite a few too.' (Attelus was always fond of his rhymes) Tresch was an amazingly good sniper, an explosive expert, a hacker they were only a few among many skills under his name. A former Adeptus Arbite, he was grim man, one of few words. Many of the women in the organisation described Tresch as a 'grey fox or 'tall dark and handsome' due to his once brown hair mostly overtaken by grey. Adelana didn't understand this sentiment, she'd never found him particularly attractive, she preferred her men younger.

She could help look briefly at Attelus, and well, more pretty.

Tresch was at least in his late forties. His square jawed face lined and weathered. Attelus had once said both his eyes were augmetics, but they looked so normal she'd never have guessed it. In fact she'd always thought it was a bit of a cheat, surely they'd aide him in his inhuman accuracy?

"Hayden, Vark, Jelket" said Karmen. "Good to see you are here already."

Vark shrugged, "mamzel Helma said this may involve that bastard Etuarq so I got here as quick as I could. We may finally end him, God-Emperor willing."

"Emperor willing," echoed Karmen, making the sign of the Aquila. "We just have to wait for Verenth then we'll start the briefing."

"Let's head in, shall we?" said Torris.

In silence they started to file through the door, Attelus in the lead, but he stopped and straightened briefly, seeing two more in the briefing room.

"You," said Attelus sternly and stepped aside, allowing Adelana a clear view.

It was Darrance and his apprentice, Delathasi.

"What are you doing here?" said Karmen, perplexed. "We have this room booked."

Darrance grimaced and exchanged a look with Delathasi, "when I saw you walking through the training facility. I thought something was up, so I gave Arlathan a vox and guess what? There was, he said that it might involve that shit stain Etuarq, so there's no way in hell Delathasi and I are not taking part."

"You are aware that I'm going to be in charge, right?" said Attelus.

"I am," said Darrance. "But I'm willing to swallow my pride and follow your lead, this time."

Adelana could've sworn she heard Helma mutter something along the lines of, "I bet that's not the only thing you'll swallow."

Darrance obviously overheard her as he treated Helma a dark look.

"I'll be your new designated pilot," said Darrance smoothly. "Delathasi can help you on the ground. I am sure you don't want to be the only close quarters specialist, do you, Attelus?"

"Who was going to be our pilot?" said Vark. "Originally."

"Ulysses," said Darrance, "but Interrogator Arlathan superseded it."

"He must've owed you one hell of a favour," said Torris. "For him to do that, what did you do? Give him a blow job? Must've been good, I'm sure you've had a hell of a lot of practice."

Everyone, even Delathasi laughed, Darrance's face darkened but it didn't last long before he just shrugged.

Adelana realised that Delathasi was looking appreciatively, almost gapingly at Attelus. This caused Adelana to smile and shake her head in amusement.

Delathasi would've been pretty if it wasn't for the very present acne on her tanned skin and boxer's nose. She was shy and kept to herself constantly, but when in battle she was a force to be reckoned with with her dual monomolecular blades. Tall and lanky she had plenty of power in her limbs.

The door behind them abruptly slid open and Adelana turned to see Verenth step into the room. His piercing gaze silently travelled over them, before finally sitting himself down on the nearest desk.

"Well!" said Attelus rubbing his hands together excitedly. "Now everyone's present and accounted for, let's get this party started."

"I think she's on to us," said Attelus as he paced across the sand, hands clasped behind his back. "I think she has an idea at least."

Faleaseen's large, almond shaped eyes narrowed as she towered over him. The Farseer like most of her race was very tall, inhumanly thin and long limbed. Her features deceptively soft, beautiful, benign, but her gaze was filled with melancholic wisdom, wisdom earned through great toil and burden. Showing her surely ancient age. A long time ago, Attelus had noticed there were what seemed to be shimmering green crystals, crawling up the nape of her. He hadn't managed to gain the courage to ask why.

For this dream meeting the Eldar had conjured up a beach Attelus had lived near to in his youth in northern Velrosia. Salteera bay was replicated in almost insane detail, the beautiful, rocky tree covered coastline, the clear blue water, the island that jutted out in the small harbour. All of it was exactly how he remembered it. Salteera bay was just one of countless beaches which littered the coast of the huge Vandeeran river. A river which cut through the continent until it met with the Lake of Varander. A river which at points could be as wide as five kilometres and the source of thousands of runoff rivers that provided the continent with much needed, life giving water.

Velrosia was set almost right in the continent's epicentre but may well have been an island nation, being riddled with numerous lakes and set where the Vandeeran river was at it's widest. Seafood was a huge export for the country along with timbre and livestock.

"I am sure she does have an idea, Attelus Kaltos," said Faleassen, her attention wandered with the pacing Attelus as she stood deathly still in her esoteric, form fitting armour.

"We've completed missions far faster than initially thought," said Attelus. "Reaching the planets faster than warp travel would normally allow."

"Yes," said Faleaseen, patiently. "You have only done so on four separate occasions but I can see why that would rouse suspicion from the Inquisitor."

"She gave me this mission because she knew this," said Attelus. "She also knows that we can bypass the warp storm."

"Many of her kind would have you executed even for the suspicion," said Faleaseen.

Attelus sniggered and paused in his pacing, "well, that won't stop me for long, would it? Do you think she knows of the webway existence?"

Faleaseen shook her head with what seemed almost wry amusement, "I doubt that, not many Mon…"

She trailed off in her sentence as she noticed Attelus' glare, "humans know of the webway."

"I wouldn't underestimate Inquisitor Enandra," said Attelus. "If any one knows, it's her and she isn't even Ordo Xenos."

"So," said Faleaseen, scratching her sharp, slender chin with a thumb, an oddly human gesture. "We are at an impasse, if you do use the webway it will impose more suspicion upon you. If you do not you will miss out on another lead to stop Etuarq, assuming this is not yet another trap."

"It has to be another trap," said Attelus.

"I do not know," said Faleaseen. "I do not understand why Etuarq would lay such a trap. He has a plan for you that much is certain."

"He knows I'm perpetual, that I'll come back from whatever he throws at me, perhaps he wants to kill my allies? My friends?" said Attelus while continuing with his pacing. "Perhaps they are interfering with whatever fate he has in store for me?"

Faleaseen nodded, "that does seem a logical assumption."

"Perhaps," said Attelus, but trailed off.

"Perhaps what?" said Faleaseen, although Attelus' suspected she already knew.

"Perhaps I could come clean, tell Jelcine of our alliance?"

Faleaseen pouted her full, ruby red lips and looked to the sky in thought.

"Or you know, you could, you know, zap it from her mind like you did back on the Audacious Edge three years ago," said Attelus.

Faleaseen sighed, "neither course of action is wise, Attelus Kaltos. I have already performed mind manipulation once on her from this long range, I would not risk it again, too imprecise. I may cause her irreparable damage, especially because of her strong mind block. Confessing could lead to your termination and while I will bring you back you will be separated by the allies and power of being in her employment. I would rather you complete this important mission then confess when confronted. Either way it would setting us back considerably, but one more than the other."

Attelus sighed, "so what will we do, then?"

"You will take the webway to this Sarkeath and investigate," said Faleaseen. "You must know once you have entered that system I will not be able to assist you. I have already attempted to see the planet but the warp storm is too powerful for me to pass through."

"Of course it is," Attelus sighed, stopping and stamping his foot into the sand like a petulant child. "Does Scintilla have an access into the Webway?"

"Yes it does," said Faleaseen. "But would that not arouse more suspicion? You leaving for Scintilla and just disappearing from there? I have an idea, there is a small planet to galactic east which you can use and naturally you will require a guide once you enter."

Attelus fought back a frown and nodded, the last few times they'd been forced to ride in Eldar space craft through the webway, piloted by Eldar rangers, or outcasts. Each time it'd been awkward to say the least, all of their Eldar hosts were aloof, contemptuous toward them. Attelus and Adelana were forced to live off dry rations for the weeks of transit because the Eldar wouldn't share their food. But what had to be done, had to be done.

"Alright!" Attelus sighed, rapidly scratching the back of his skull. "Alright, Just give me the name and coordinates."

Faleaseens smiled a rare smile and tilted her head, her insanely long red hair tied into a top knot flowing gracefully with the movement.

"This time it will be different," she said. "I am sending someone special to meet you, someone who has wished to meet you for quite a while now."

Attelus pouted and tilted his head. Well, that didn't sound ominous at all.

Not ominous at all.

Faleaseen, still smiling said, "the planet is what you humans call, Iocanthos."

It would be a weeks warp travel to Iocanthos and they'd decided on a day of prep before leaving Darrance didn't seem too impressed (along with everyone else, he was just the most vocal about it) That they might have to permanently transfer to the Gothic sector.

Adelana didn't mind, though. There was pretty much nothing here left for her in the Calixis sector and the mission sounded important. Also she knew of the 'short cut' Attelus had access to that the others didn't. She wasn't sure what the others would make of this revelation, she knew the Imperium's attitude toward Xenos and humans who work with them.

Incredible importance.

Adelana sat in the large brightly lit, white walled mess hall, poking absently at her food with a fork. She was so lost in her thoughts she almost missed her friend's approach.

"Adelana?" said a familiar, friendly voice and Adelana turned to her friend, well there was one thing.

Seleen Gorret was another survivor of the Omnartus but not a native, in fact she was from the very same world as Attelus Kaltos, Elbyra.

'Unattractive' would be a word to describe her if one was being polite, very polite. But Seleen was one of kindest, sweetest people Adelana had ever met. She'd helped her more than anyone else during the dark days, they'd once worked together in the mail delivery room in Taryst's tower and had for two years before the incident. During that time they'd become friends as well as colleagues after Adelana lost her parents she'd been like a surrogate mother to her.

Seleen was once quite fat but had lost a lot of weight over the past three years, and due to some rejuvenant treatment looked younger. But even at her peak Adelana doubted men would look at her often.

"You wanted to talk?" said Seleen as she sat at the table across from Adelana, placing her food in front of her.

Adelana nodded, "how's things going at the library?"

Seleen smiled and shuffled in her seat, "same old boring same. My job isn't quite so exciting and interesting as yours. The place is stuffy, cramped and my colleagues old, boring once-administratum clerks and all male. I really miss you when you leave with him on your many...excursions."

Seleen emphasised 'him' and 'excursions' pointedly, causing Adelana to frown she knew where this conversation was going to go, so she quickly, deftly changed the subject.

"Speaking of my 'excursions' I have bad news…"

"You're on yet another, right?" said Seleen as she stuffed fork full of food into her mouth. "How long will you be away for this time?"

Adelana pursed her lips and swallowed, glancing at the ceiling, "I don't know," she croaked. "It could be months, it could be…"

"Years?" said Seleen after Adelana trailed off, her eyes wide.

Adelana bit her lip, or centuries.

"Oh honey," said Seleen looking at Adelana with tears in her eyes. "I'm guessing you can't tell me where you're going?"

"Nope," said Adelana with a shake of her head, causing her pony tail to weave with the movement . "I'm sorry."

It was Seleen's turn to shake her head, "no need to apologise, honey. It's all part of the job, isn't it? You're in the service of...No, the highest service to the Emperor, if I were younger."

She paused and smiled, "and even a little bit physically capable I'd be there with you, fight mankind's enemies. I must say I do envy you at times, Adelana."

Adelana bit her lip as she fought to contain the anger suddenly flaring through her.

"You know one other reason why I envy you," said on Seleen.

"Don't start this again," said Adelana, shaking her head.

Seleen shrugged, "he obviously likes you and you like him so I don't understand…"

"We're colleagues, Seleen," Adelana sighed. "Besides he's my master…"

"But he respects you enough to insist you never call him that, and he never calls you apprentice," Seleen interrupted. "Most men would kill to have a woman call them master constantly."

"Maybe it's because he isn't that much older than me," said Adelana with a shrug. "Besides if we become more it might get in the way of our work and…"

"Oh don't give me that!" snapped Seleen, but with good humour and a dismissive wave. "It won't make a lick of difference, you two have feelings for each other whether or not you get together. It's going to get in the way, anyway. In fact I think it'll help and not to mention bring you and him much needed happiness."

"But the other girls…"

"Who cares what the other girls will do," said Seleen. "Besides, you and him are leaving for years aren't you?"

"Yeah, but…"

"Yeah, but what?" said Seleen.

"He scares me, Seleen," said Adelana, this was the first time she'd told anyone this and it felt like she was getting a weight off her chest. "He really freaks me out, he's got a dark side. I've fought with him for years and when he fights, I see his dark side. He enjoys it, he enjoys it way too much. He has issues, Seleen and I fear with one push…"

Seleen nodded but didn't say anything.

"I think I want to," Adelana paused and shook her head. "I think I need to ask for a transfer and…"

"And if you start up a relationship with him, you fear it will be too hard," Seleen finished.

"And also, Karmen…"

Seleen nodded yet again, "I understand, what are you going to do?"

"After this mission I'll talk to with him," said Adelana.

"That might be the 'push' you had mentioned," warned Seleen.

"I have to," said Adelana.

Seleen sighed and leaned back in her chair, "it has been three years. It's weird he hasn't made a move yet."

"And thank the Emperor he hasn't," said Adelana. "It'd be, awkward. I think he has issues with women, he's very quiet shy about that sort of thing. Maybe he knows deep down that he'll be rejected."

"I still think you should reconsider," said Seleen, but Adelana silenced her with an outreached hand.

"Seleen, can we please talk about something else?" she said. "I might never see you ever again. I've only got one day before we're scheduled to leave."

"Don't say that," said Seleen. "Just have faith in the God-Emperor and he will see you through."

Adelana bit her lip, "yes, of course."

Seleen smiled, "alright let's talk about something else. We could talk about yet another of your many suitors. How about Jharn Omis, the crewman he's quite handsome…"

Adelana's furrowed brow and pursed lips caused Seleen to trail off in her sentence. Then a huge grin split the older woman's face.

"I'm joking! Joking! God-Emperor, if looks could kill not even the Emperor himself could have saved me then!"

Adelan couldn't help but laugh, laugh the hardest and longest she'd laughed in a long time.

"How's the sword training going?" asked Seleen. "How's Helma? You two getting on?"

The door swished open, causing Arlathan Karkin to look up from the reports sent from their acolyte cells on Solomon, he had

It was one of the Storm Troopers standing guard at his door, Arlathan had forgotten his all looked the same to him.

"Interrogator," he said. "Karmen Kons wishes to speak with you."

Arlathan groaned and rubbed his forehead.

"Send her in," he sighed with a weary wave. What in the Emperor's name does she want?

With her usual confident swagger Karmen walked in.

"I gather you and Attelus have gathered your squad and briefed them," said Arlathan.

"We have," said Karmen and there was something in her tone he instantly didn't like.

He sighed again and gave her his full attention, "is there something wrong?"

"Frig yes," she growled. "I would like to know the real reason why you've sent us on this fool's errand."

Arlathan raised a scarred brow, "it doesn't seem a fool's errand to me."

"You know it is!" Karmen snapped. "Now tell me why before I tear through that mindlock of yours and find out myself!"

Arlathan frowned and steepled his fingers, elbows placed on his desk, "I don't know, Karmen. If there's any other reason for it, only mamzel Enandra knows and hasn't shared it with me. By the Emperor, I swear Attelus was meant to be the paranoid one. Shouldn't he be here and not you?"

Karmen grimaced and straightened slightly, seeing that Arlathan was telling the truth. Then her eyes narrowed.

"Tell me what you think maybe other reasons why we may have been sent on this, fool's errand."

Arlathan sighed yet again, "Karmen, this is far from being a 'fool's errand' I understand you're angry. I would be to if in your uhh boots too. We've got to chase any and all clues of Etuarq and you, Attelus and the others are the most qualified…"

He trailed off as he saw she still looked down at him, narrowed eyed, arms folded.

"Alright," he said. "Do you really want to know?"

"Would I ask if I didn't?"

Arlathan smiled and shrugged, "it's a test. A test for Attelus, mostly. We've noticed how he and Adelana over the past three years have used a 'short cut.' Despite some subtle looks into their minds by Helva what that shortcut is, is still a mystery. I think Enandra believes he will use that shortcut, that, once you return we might be able to find how they're managing it. Also because of that short cut, I think Enandra believes Attelus will find a way to not just get there faster than anyone else but to also bypass the warpstorm. Somehow."

Arlathan studied Karmen carefully as he expressed this, but saw not even the slightest change in her expression or anything. If anyone else knew the truth of the matter, it was her.

"Why do you figure that?" she asked.

"Figure what, exactly?" said Arlathan.

"That he will be able bypass the warpstorm?" said Karmen.

Arlathan shrugged, "that I don't know. Everything, I've just told you is conjecture, pure and simple."

Karmen didn't say anything and Arlathan smiled.

"But I'm sure you've already came to such conjecture yourself," he said, swivelling in his chair. "As Attelus has too, I'm sure."

Karmen frowned and her attention fell to the floor, "what might happen to him if he's found…"

"To be keeping secrets?" finished Arlathan. "Depends on the secrets, Estella."

"Don't call me that," she breathed.

Arlathan smiled, "he still thinks I found out your real identity by researching into your past doesn't he?"

"Arlathan! Shut it!" she hissed. "It was one time, okay? I was upset and...Besides, according to the gossip engine you and the Inquisitor have something going on. I wouldn't want to see her get jealous and y'know, kill you."

Arlathan couldn't help but grimace behind his beard, he would very much like that but that bastard, Kollath was constantly in the way.

"Or not," said Karmen as she approached the large leather couch and planted herself on it. "I'm surprised you and Kollath haven't killed each other yet."

"Why does it have to be so complicated?" sighed Arlathan.

"It's as they say," said Karmen. "Don't mix work and love together, keep them as separate as Heretics and loyalists."

"Well, if we had any kind of life out of work that would be possible," said Arlathan.

"She likes beards, doesn't she?"

Arlathan absently stroked his beard, "I was growing it before...before…"

Karmen laughed though it held no humour and laid on the couch, "here we are, the both of us. Rejects, homeless, hopeless and have no life beside our jobs."

"Hey," said Arlathan. "At least we aren't indirectly responsible for the death of an entire world and billions of lives with it."

Karmen sighed, "yeah, at least we're not that."

For a good half a minute they were silent.

"Do you think she'll kill him?" Karmen asked, breaking the silence.

"I most certainly hope not," said Arlathan. "I'll try to talk on his behalf, Karmen. That I swear."

"What makes you think I care?" Karmen growled, but it lacked any real ire.

"You do," said Arlathan with a smile. "I don't need to be a mind reader to know that."

Again, they were silent and again it was Karmen who broke the silence.

"As much as I hate to admit it, I'll miss you," she said.

"Purely in a platonic way?" asked Arlathan with a smile.

"Yes," said Karmen, without hesitation, but it brought Arlathan no pain. He understood what their relationship was going to be a long time ago. They were friends, friends who were attracted to one another and had once eloped but that was that, nothing more. Both of them had stronger feelings for someone else, who then in turn had stronger feelings for someone else.

"I'll miss you because you can put things in perspective," said Karmen. "And, well, it's not complicated, y'know?"

"Yeah I know," said Arlathan. "I'll miss you as well, Estella Erith."

She raised her head and met his gaze, smiling, "and despite everything you aren't as burdened by cynicism and pragmatism like so many others here."

"You really think that?" said Arlathan, finding it very hard to believe.

Karmen climbed off the couch and stretched a nice while she wore that black bodyglove.

"I do," said Karmen as she made for the door. "See you when I see you."

"There could be another reason why Inquisitor Enandra has sent you and Attelus to the Gothic sector," said Arlathan, causing Karmen to stop and turn to him, their eyes locking.

"She actually believes you are good enough to be able to start an entire new network there, and good enough to perform such a feat well," said Arlathan. "It is a huge, huge endeavour. It shows more respect and honour to you and him. I think Enandra admires you, all of you. No, I know she does, even if one or two of you is keeping secrets. Perhaps that might be one of the reasons. That they were able to keep it hidden for so long, that takes skill. Who knows?"

Karmen smiled, "you're almost there, Arlathan," she said, then turned and started off again. "Almost."

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:39 am

Don't know if I posted this drawing to the Secret War thread (I think I did, but I can't be bothered looking, in all honesty) It fits here as if features a character who doesn't appear until Upon Blood Sands (who's on the far right) From left to right: Marcel Torris, Adelana Helgen, Attelus Kaltos, Helma and well Delthasi


With Arlathan and Kollath at her flanks. Inquisitor Jelcine Enandra stood in the large, bustling hangar bay. Waiting at the base of the boarding ramp of Attelus and company's assigned Guncutter. It was a Salvani class VIII Guncutter, in fact the very same Salvani class VIII Guncutter they'd escaped Omnartus three years ago. It'd proven a reliable and capable void-class ship over the years.

Arlathan, on her left, eyed the inquisitor side-long, she wore her master worked, black lined with gold power armour and she just seemed to radiate authority and charisma with such strength it was almost palpable. Her piercing blue eyes fixed forwards, her attractive features, unreadable.

Jelcine's healthy, chocolate brown skin shown in the bright light and her very long, thin white hair was tied up in a top knot and a pointed, wide brimmed hat customary for the Ordo Hereticus, tucked into her armpit.

To say the symbolism was obvious would've been the biggest understatement of the millennia, as Attelus would say.

Kollath stood on her right, his helmet was held under his arm, revealing his ridiculous to the point of being cartoonish, masculine, handsome features, the tip of his ceremonial power sword on the floor

Arlathan grimaced slightly and turned to young Vex Carpompter.

The slightly built young hacker stood straight as an arrow, trying his hardest to look tough and failing miserably.

"Relax, kid," said Arlathan and he couldn't help but smile, "you look like someone's stuck a Lascannon up your proverbial rectum."

After Jeurat Garrakson had died on Omnartus, Arlathan had taken up teaching Vex how to fight, in the very rare times they could both get the time. Arlathan over the past three years, had grown to think of Vex as a little brother of sorts. He reminded Arlathan of himself when he was young, arrogant, talented and about as coordinated as a drunken Grox.

Arlathan, though had worked through that and became the top hand to hand combatant in his Magistratum precinct. It'd taken him a few years of constant training but he got there, Vex still had a while yet, even after so long.

Or maybe Arlathan was just a terrible teacher? He quickly dismissed the thought, as a low life Marshall he'd taught his fair share of recruits and they'd all done pretty well.

Vex visibly relaxed, "sorry," the kid stammered.

Arlathan smiled and shook his head.

"What are you doing here, anyway?" asked Kollath gruffly. "Shouldn't you be at your little Cogitator typing away, with your skinny, girly little fingers? That's where you belong, isn't it?"

Arlathan glared at the Stormtrooper sergeant, "shut it, Kollath," he growled.

"Or you'll what, pube face?" said Kollath. "Shoot me? My arse has a better beard than you by the way."

"I outrank you, remember, sergeant," said Arlathan. "So shut up."

"Well, I outrank the both of you," said Enandra, her voice was soft but cut over the din like a powered blade through paper. "So both of you shut up. Oh, and Kollath. Vex has every right to be here, he might not be seeing his friends for a long time, so of course he'll see them off."

Kollath grimaced and muttered, "he even has friends? News to me."

This elicited another glare from Arlathan and he wondered for the thousandth time what Inquisitor saw in him.

Jelcine placed the wide brimmed hat on her head and asked, "Arlathan, how do I look?"

Arlathan opened his mouth to answer, but quickly stopped himself, knowing he'd just gush. To Enandra it'd just come off as arse kissing and if the Inquisitor truly hated anything it was sycophants. Them and Amalathians and the Ecclesiarchy and Chaos and mindless fanatics, the list was long.

"You look like the embodiment of all the Ordo Hereticus stands for, ma'am" said Arlathan, after some thought, and it was the truth.

A small smile slowly crossed her full lips, "I hope you are aware of the irony of your words, Arlathan."

"I am," said Arlathan. "But it doesn't make it any less true, ma'am."

It was then that Attelus and his team walked into the hanger

In the lead was the young man himself, he walked with his usual confident, casual graceful gait, indicative of his status as an extremely skilled swordsman and martial artist. This despite carrying three big, bulky equipment bags. One on his back and one in each hand. It was very easy to forget just how strong Attelus was due to his slight height and slender build. He was the only one smiling.

Next was Adelana and Halsin. The young, very attractive red head's face was as unreadable as always. She wore a grey syn skin bodyglove, and a pack on her back almost as large as one of the three Attelus carried. Slung on her left shoulder was her signature weapon, a silenced bolter with a wire stock attachment, she too was far stronger than she looked being of similar height and build to Attelus. The irony wasn't lost on Arlathan that an agent with a more subtle skill set would use such an unsubtle weapon.

Halsin looked not quite as calm, he carried not just one pack but many pouches of medical equipment that hung awkwardly from his webbing. They would've added a lot more weight on the poor young man's thin frame, this on top of an auto gun. Even many hardened Imperial guard veterans would suffer under such weight, which made the young medicae's level of physical fitness all the more impressive.

After them was Karmen Kons and Vark. Karmen carried just as much as Attelus and just as easily, but this was because she was wearing power armour of similar form fitting design to the Inquisitor. It was coloured a dull grey and withheld much of the more fanciful decoration of the Inquisitor's but that didn't detract from the aura of power and intimidation the armour gave off. A psychic hood hung over her head. Karmen Kons was easily the most powerful and skilled psyker the organisation possessed. There was a rivalry between her and Enandra's personal psyker, Helva but it was mostly one sided. She'd been gifted the power armour because of that extreme power and strength, it would also to protect her during the many times Karmen would leave her body in her incorporeal form.

Vark was in full Stormtrooper carapace, his rebreather mask hung from his helmet, He carried his Hell gun with the casual calm only the truly professional was capable of, his small blue eyes darting anywhere and everywhere, soaking every detail. He was already in full on bodyguard mode despite still being on a ship full of friendlies. As much as Arlathan had his misgivings of the ex-mercenary's personality and beliefs he couldn't deny he was skilled and experienced beyond belief.

Following was Hayden and Jelket. The reason why Jelket had been assigned as Hayden's guard and spotter instead of the sniper's apprentice was because Serlia had been called back by their cult. She had been deemed, at Hayden's and Enandra's recommendation, good enough to have finished her apprenticeship. Once she'd completed her trials she would be re-assigned under Enandra again.

That was if she completed the trials, apparently they were as hard as hell. Just after the destruction of Omnartus, Attelus had to take them too and even he had struggled to pass. Although he'd never supplied Arlathan with any detailed summary.

Hayden was weighed down even more than Attelus and Karmen, although he was struggling noticeably. The huge man wore a black bodyglove, equipment bristled off his webbing and he carried two bags in each hand and had his Long las and a knapsack slung on his broad back.

Jelket, like Vark wore his full Stormtrooper carapace but carried a Long Las,yet on top of that he also carried a Hell gun and charge pack. To anyone else carrying both weapons without power armour would've been awkward to say the least, but the ex-guardsman somehow could manage it, easily infact, being able to change from one weapon to the other in the blink of an eye. It made him a very adaptable soldier, perhaps even more so than Hayden. But this also made him incapable of carrying much else. (hence why Hayden was carrying five bags)

Just after was Torris and Verenth. Torris had stubbornly refused to wear Inquisitorial carapace, foregoing it for the lighter but not as strong, dark blue Arbites carapace. He carried his Melta gun and had his shotgun slung under his left arm. On his back was surely the largest backpack of all one that contained the drums of igniter fluid for the high powered tank killing weapon he carried. Torris as usual looked angry, his brow furrowed, brown eyes fixed forward. His lantern jaw so strong that that he rivaled Kollath in manliness.

Verenth was a complete contrast to Torris, both had opposite backgrounds and he wore no armour at all. Still electing to wear the leathers of his gang back on Omnartus, the insignia on his back. The tall, lanky young man was also laden with equipment, her face a mask of intense concentration.

Last it was Delathasi and Helma.

Delathasi wore a black bodyglove, like Hayden. Her twin mono-blades sheathed on her back. The tall, long limbed apprentice walked with an easy grace belying her lankiness despite carrying another large bag and struggling to keep it from dragging on the floor. Delathasi's attention was set downward, her soft features contorted with strain. It was a shame to Arlathan, she would've been truly attractive if it wasn't for her pugilist's nose and very noticeable acne.

With that thought Arlathan glanced at Vex, who stood entranced by the girl. Arlathan didn't know if the young assassin felt the same but he couldn't help feel sorry for Vex.

Helma, again, wore full Stormtrooper carapace and walked with so much confidence it almost became haughtiness, she easily carried two very large bags and had her Hell gun slung casually over her left shoulder. She was strong, easily one of the strongest women in the organisation, Arlathan had decided a long time ago to never mess with her.

Following them were seven servitors, carrying the bulk of their equipment.

The crewmen and other servitors moving throughout the hanger stopped and stepped aside, allowing them a way through. Such was the respect they commanded.

Attelus approached and stopped, not even having to drop his huge bags to bring his hands together and make the sign of the Aquila at his chest. Behind him everyone else halted and there was a collective sigh as Delathasi, Halsin, Verenth and Jelket dropped their bags.

"Mamzel Enandra, Interrogator Arlathan, Sergeant Kollath, Vex," he said. "It's good to see you."

Enandra smiled, "you do know we have more Servitors to carry your equipment right, Attelus?

Attelus shrugged, "a bit of strength training has never hurt anyone," he said.

"Yes it has," said Helma.

Attelus just pouted and furrowed his brow.

"Well," said Enandra. "This will be your first mission leading such a large team, you nervous?"

He shrugged, "well, if you hadn't assigned me so many people who hated me, I'd be a bit less nervous."

"That's understandable," said Enandra. "Just don't let that nervousness overtake you and you'll do fine. I have great faith in you, Attelus. I wouldn't have made you mission leader if I did not."

"I won't," he said with admirable conviction. "There's too much as stake here, mamzel, and thank you."

"Good," said Enandra with a nod, "good to hear that."

She pulled her gaze away from the assassin and looked over his compatriots, meeting each pair of eyes in turn. Arlathan followed her gaze as did Attelus.

What she saw caused Enandra to sigh, "I can see that many of you are not happy to be assigned this mission and I'll be honest, I sympathise. There are surely varying reasons why you feel like this, and again, I'm sure they are good reasons."

She paused and began to pace, Arlathan watched her, enraptured, her skill as an orator wasn't rivaled. Well, except for one, Inquisitor Brutis Bones, also of the Ordo Hereticus, was almost as good.

"Some might feel that I am exiling you, getting rid of you, that is not true," she said, her armour joints whirring with every step. "Some of you might feel that I send you away because I think you incompetent or expendable, that as well is not true. In fact that is the complete opposite reason."

Enandra paused again, meeting the eyes of everyone once more, "I send you because all of you, bar none have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are among the best. Not just the best in my organisation, but amongst the best of the Ordo Calixis. Time and time again you have proven your skill and ability and reliability and excelled in your field of expertise."

She stopped her pacing, "individually all of you have made great achievements. Attelus! You have killed Space Marines! Not just one, not just two but three! Three! I couldn't even claim such a feat! Adelana! You managed to infiltrate a Slaaneshi cult and kill their leader and slip away hours before the cultists even had a clue what happened! Verenth! You have head shot an enemy from two hundred metres on the draw! Torris! You managed to single handedly hold off dozens and dozens of attacking cultists for hours, allowing for Imperial Guard reinforcements to drop in and finish it!"

Enandra trailed off and smiled, "if I stood here and listed all of your achievements, I would be here for hours, but I think you get my point. If you could perform such feats alone, imagine how many you could achieve together. I believe, no I know that you will take down Etuarq and do much much much more!"

"Maybe even conquer a world?" she said eventually and many laughed at such an absurdity.

She shrugged, "you never know. Now I will not hold you up any longer. I wish all of you the best of luck and may the Emperor be with you."

With that she stepped aside and they began to file into the Guncutter saying their farewells as they went.

"Thank you for that," said Attelus as he too allowed the others to pass. "Amazing, awe inspiring speeches like that aren't exactly my forte, in all honesty."

"Everyone has their own style of leadership," said Enandra. "You'll find yours sooner rather than later. I know it."

Attelus smiled and held out his hand which Enandra took and shook, "well, I hope we'll see you again, and sooner rather than later."

Then he started up the ramp after the others.

"Oh! And Attelus!" she called, causing him to stop and look over his shoulder at her.

"Remember, anything and everything to win, right?"

Attelus stared at her blankly before saying, "as you wish."

Then he started up the ramp again, muttering, "as you wish, indeed," with an unseen smile

The week of warp travel to Iocanthos was uneventful.

Enandra had organised them a ride on the trading frigate The Calamandastron and needless to say the ship master, a haughty, aristocratic character named Durpount (who also had a mustache very much worthy of his name) Was not happy they wanted to stop off at Iocanthos. The initial plan being they would travel all the way to his destination the hive world of Canopus where they would organise another ride to, hopefully, straight to the Ixaniad sector.

Having to transition out and back into warp space at Iocanthos would delay him by an extra four days.

It'd taken Karmen and Attelus a good hour of negotiation with the very irate Durpount to come up with a solution (which meant their funds took a bit of a hit)

As much as Attelus dreaded having to travel with Eldar again and the potential far reaching consequences, he was frigging glad they didn't have to exit and enter the warp over and over and negotiating with shipmaster after shipmaster for transport for months on end.

Luckily, Karmen was a seasoned negotiator (even when not using her mind control powers, which Attelus insisted she didn't)

As the came closer and closer to Iocanthos, the cold, clammy feeling of anxiety in Attelus' chest became all the stronger.

How the hell was he going to explain them travelling with the Eldar? He'd asked Faleaseen in one of their dream conversations and she wasn't very helpful at all.

"I am afraid that you will have to figure out the answer this conundrum yourself, Attelus Kaltos," she'd said. "I cannot hold your hand for everything."

Attelus had frowned at that, she'd helped him over the years without doubt but he'd managed to achieve much by himself and out of all the times he could've truly used her help. It would've been now.

With the others he'd wiled away the hours training, in team building exercises he'd researched on the cogitators back on The Audacious Edge. They were doing well, not as well as he hoped but not as badly as he'd expected. The one who'd proven the most stubborn toward it was Hayden. He was old, the oldest of the group but how old exactly Atteus didn't know, he looked in his late forties but that didn't mean much in the Imperium of man, with rejuvanent treatments and such. He'd worked alone or in pairs for so long now he was set in his ways, he seemed to passive-aggressively resist it at every turn, much to Attelus choler.

Two days before they were scheduled to transition into real space Attelus, Karmen and Adelana met in the Guncutter's common room to discuss how to handle having to travel with the Eldar.

Strangely it'd been Adelana who'd suggested that Karmen use her powers to influence their minds, hide it from them.

Karmen was quick to shoot that down, citing that it would be impractical, due to the length of the voyage, the complicated nature of such a manipulation on so many minds and the psychic blocks protecting them had been made by Helva which would complicate it even further.

In the end they'd decided there was no choice, they had to come clean. Then Adelana and Karmen agreed it was Attelus who was to do it.

"Why me?" Attelus had whined, despite already knowing the answer.

Karmen smiled, "you are our fearless leader, aren't you? Besides it's because of your connection with the Eldar that we're doing this, is it not?"

Attelus had glared at her and clenched his jaw, remembering that Karmen had a 'connection' to the Eldar as well, but chose to keep that quiet.

"They won't like this," Attelus had said. "They've got enough to be pissed off about and Verenth and Torris have enough reason to hate me already. And now they're going to learn I'm collaborating with Xenos?"

"I don't know if Verenth and Torris should be the people you worry about, Attelus," Adelana said. "Vark's a true believer in the Imperial Creed, he'll probably take the News the worst."

"The Emperor hates me, doesn't he?" Attelus had sighed.

"Well," said Adelana. "If he does, who could blame him? Really?"

Even Karmen laughed at that and Attelus couldn't help but smile.

So here he was, a day later, standing in the Guncutter's common room, everyone of his squad (and Darrance) scattered around and staring at him intently.

He took a long inhale before starting, "thank you for coming."

Attelus paused and scratched the back of his head vigorously, public speaking had never been his forte. He couldn't help remember back at his scholam at twelve years old, having to perform a speech in front of the class and how terrified he'd been. It was funny, the bullies had long ago learnt not to mess with the quiet, pale, skinny little freak in class 11/5. He'd never been scared to face down five children twice his size and intent on beating the shit out of him, but having to tell the past of his idol the legendary prince Royd Antares of Velrosia, to an audience of twenty four or more. Almost made him shit his pants.

Now, obviously he'd long got over such fear, but in a situation like this, not so much. A brief image popped in his head of Verenth just abruptly drawing his auto pistol and blowing his brains out the moment he finished. He imagined Vark screaming and shouting so strongly spittle sprayed all over him like a torrential rain. Attelus always had an overly active imagination, which had proven to be a curse after he'd decided to join this line of work.

He looked over his audience and saw them watching on with a mixture of bemusement, impatience and annoyance. Eventually, he met the gaze of Adelana who gave him a small smile and a slight nod of encouragement.

That was all he needed.

"The reason why I have called you here today, is," he paused again, trying to figure out exactly how to carry on. "This mission comes with another twist."

There was some mumbles and glances of bemusement exchanged.

"I have arranged a short cut," he said. "A faster way to travel to Sarkeath."

"Alright," said Helma. "That is...certainly a twist."

Torris' eyes narrowed skeptically, "I don't understand," he said.

Attelus sniggered and shrugged, "I don't quite understand, either. In all honesty."

He stopped again, expecting some sort of ridicule, but they just looked at him with almost enraptured interest.

"As all of you know, now, we're making a stop off at the agri world…" he trailed off, even calling Iocanthos an agri world was a bit of a stretch as it's first and only export was Ghost Fire pollen, a main ingredient for a combat enhancement used by the penal legions of the Imperial Guard. "Of Iocanthos, and there is a very good reason for that."

"And that reason being?" said Darrance with a raised eyebrow.

"That is where we'll be meeting...them," said Attelus.

"Them, who?" asked Torris when Attelus didn't continue.

"Them," he stopped and shuffled nervously, may as well just tell. "Them meaning, the Eldar."

There was a very long pause as everyone stared at Attelus blankly.

"The...what?" said Vark.

"The Eldar," Attelus said, straightening and placing his hands behind his back, there, the secret was finally out and it actually felt good. "They are our allies in this endeavour and they are going to help us reach Sarkeath far faster than normal."

"But, I don't understand," said Jelket. "When I was in the guard I fought against the Eldar once, they were psychotic, cruel and used horrific weapons, that caused…that caused…Oh God-Emperor!"

He trailed off as a slow look of dawning horror crossed his ruddy face.

Attelus sighed, "please calm down, it's not that kind of Eldar, Jelket. These are a different kind. Those ones are known as the Dark Eldar, we are being helped by the Craftworld Eldar. There's a difference."

"Which means?" said Helma. "That they're just going to kill us?"

"Which means, we won't suffer horrific, horrific torment at their hands," he sighed yet again. "and no, they're not going to kill us. I hope all you have heard the saying, the enemy of my enemy is my friend?' Right?"

There were a few hesitant nods.

"Well this to the empth degree, they want to stop Etuarq almost as much as we do," Attelus said. "They have something they call the Webway, it's like a sub dimension between the material universe and the warp. It allows for faster and safer travel than the Immaterium."

"I've never heard of this, webway, before," said Darrance.

"Of course you haven't, not many humans have," said Attelus.

"Except you," said Vark, darkly and Attelus had to fight back the urge to flinch as the cold anxiety in his chest abruptly got worse.

"Well, I," he stammered, losing his bluster that was when Adelana got to her feet and walked to his right.

"I know as well," she said. I've known for a long time now."

"As have I," said Estella then she too stood up, and walked to stand on his left.

Attelus had to fight back a smile.

"So you two are Xenos collaborators as well?" growled Vark.

"We are," said Estella. "You are aware of the circumstances aren't you, Vark?"

Vark said nothing, just sneered. It was an ugly expression.

"How?" said Hayden, his deep voice reverberating through the silence and seemingly the entire ship.

"That!" said Attelus. "Is a long and sordid story, Hayden. One which I cannot and will not tell you."

There was a collective bellow of anger and frustration that caused Attelus to flinch with fright.

"I'm not telling you and that is that!" Attelus roared so strongly it caused the others to fall into silence. "I have my reasons and you will respect that!"

"We deserve to know!" snarled Vark. "This is heresy! Against all that the God-Emperor teaches! Collaboration with Xenos is affront to mankind."

"Yes," said Attelus. "Perhaps it is."

There was a weighted moment of silence.

"If only this galaxy was actually in reality as black and white as you seem to believe, Vark," Attelus growled.

Vark was suddenly on his feet and face to face with Attelus, "and what the hell does that mean?"

Attelus smiled, "it means, Vark that your belief, your whole world view doesn't coincide with reality."

"Oh? And what? Your's does? What the hell makes you so qualified, huh?" Vark demanded.

"I'd say I'm more qualified than you," Attelus said without a hint of hesitation. "I never let myself be brainwashed by Imperial dogma and a whole world is dead because of my actions. If that doesn't lend perspective, I don't know what does. And that's why I'm in charge of this mission, not you. So stand down before I put you down."

Vark didn't move, "is that why you can do all that shit you can do? Is it the Xenos who made you like that?"

Attelus didn't say anything, just clenched his jaw.

Vark turned away, "you hear that? He all but admits his guilt! He isn't just collaborating with the Xenos! He is one of them! How can we trust him knowing they are influencing him? Corrupting the rest of us with his role as our leader? He is their pawn…"

"I was once meant to be their pawn," Attelus interrupted. "But after everything I earned their respect and trust, I earned her respect and trust. I'd hoped I'd earned yours as well."

"You did!" Vark snapped. "But after learning this…"

"After learning this, you now know just how far I'm willing to go to stop Etuarq!" Attelus said. "I know this is hard for you to swallow, hard for all of you to swallow but please, just hear me out."

Everyone was silent, even Vark and all attention, back on Attelus.

"I am, a student of Imperial history and throughout the millennia there are countless times that humanity has corroborated with Xenos breeds, there are as we speak Rogue Traders today that are trading with Xenos on their homeworlds for important materials…"

"But that's different," said Vark.

"Yes it is," said Attelus quickly. "I'm not denying that it is different, Vark you're right. But, how many times have the Ultramarines, supposedly the exemplar of all the Imperium of Mankind and the Astartes in general stand for, corroborated with the Tau, against the Tyranid menace? How many times have the Eldar and humanity fought together to defeat the forces of the Ruinous powers? It is pragmatism, simple pragmatism. What I have learned over the years is the Eldar, aren't that much different to us. Sure, they live a hell of a lot longer but they live and love and fight for their existence just like us. They aren't interested in destroying us, they don't want to corrupt us, they just want to be left alone and survive and Etuarq is a threat to that. He is their enemy as much as ours and thanks to them, we have a way to reach Sarkeath early enough to maybe make a difference!"

Attelus paused, close to being overwhelmed with emotion, he briefly shut his his eyes and took a long breath before continuing on, "in the end, all it comes down to is this, I ask you, all of you. Do you want to have to stand by and have to watch another world burn?"

There was no answer and he didn't expect one.

"Do you want to stand by and watch it with the knowledge you could've prevented it? That you let your prejudice get in the way of saving billions more innocent souls," said Attelus. "Because that's what will happen if you abandon me now. I can't do this alone, I need you! All of you!"

"If that's true, why don't you just work with the Xenos, then?" snarked Vark.

"Believe it or not, Vark, I'm still human," said Attelus with a smile. "And In all honesty I'd rather the twelve of you watching my back than a thousand Eldar! Once we reach Iocanthos you may leave. I will find go to Sarkeath by my myself. But once I fail, which I surely will. I'll be the only one with a clear conscience because I was the only one who at least tried, so are you with me? If you are, please raise your hand!"

Adelena and Karmen both raised their hands without a second's hesitation.

For what must've been less than half a minute, but to Attelus felt like a lifetime when the third person finally raised their hand and that person was Hayden Tresch a few seconds later it was Darrance, followed quickly by Helma, Delathasi, then Jelket, Halsin, Torris and eventually, Verenth.

Attelus had to fight back the tears welling in his eyes.

When Vark saw all of this, he let out a growl of frustration and he too, reluctantly raised his hand.

"Alright! You win frig you!" he snarled. "But once we get back I'm telling the Inquisitor everything, you got that?"

"I wouldn't expect anything less," said Attelus. "And thank you, thank you...All of you."

He sniffed and rubbed his eyes with a forearm.

"Are you crying, Attelus?" said Helma.

"No," he whined. "It's just the recycled oxygen getting in my eyes, is all."

There was a few laughs at the feeble lie.

"And thank you for already agreeing to come because, I'm sorry to say it only gets worse, I'm sorry."

Then he told them the rest.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:57 pm

Yet another drawing I did, using water colour pencils. At first I liked it but the more I look at it the less I like it. From left to right: Jelket, Verenth, Adelana, Torris and Attelus (of course)


Needless to say the others weren't happy to learn they would have to travel in a Xenos vessel for a fortnight.

"Stay in the Guncutter, then," Attelus had sighed. "No, I order all of you to stay in the Guncutter. The alliance is tenuous enough already, I don't want any of you causing any trouble."

"I'm guessing the psyker and your girlfriend are exempt of this?" Darrance had sneered.

Attelus didn't say anything, he'd smiled and his face turned red with embarrassment.

"Yes, you are correct," Karmen had said in Attelus' stead. "Does that upset you, aristocrat?"

Darrance didn't reply, just sneered again and folded his arms across his chest.

"Is that everything, Attelus?" growled Helma. "Or have you got even more 'twists' for us?"

Attelus frowned and shook his head. His eyes fell to the floor and he shuffled uncomfortably

"Good," said Vark. "And dismissed, we're dismissed, right?"

Attelus managed a nod.

"Good," growled Vark. "'Cause we're done."

Then everyone but Adelana and Karmen started to file out.

"You'll still help me, right?" Attelus stammered desperately.

It was Torris who turned and answered, "yeah, only because you'd manipulated us into promising before telling us this. You'll never change, will you?"

"Nice work, apprentice," said Darrance.

"I'm not an apprentice any more, I'm a master now. Remember?" Attelus sighed.

Darrance turned on him, "do you seriously think that I'll ever call you master? On second thought, do you want me to call you 'master'?"

There was a long, weighted pause before Attelus said, "no. No I do not."

The next day, The Calamandastron entered real space and an hour later, the Guncutter flew out of the hanger bay. Into the void.

Attelus had confined himself to his quarters as had Karmen and Adelana theirs. He gave any instruction over vox and only if asked. The others barely talked to him. He hoped this wouldn't last long.

This was a mistake he was determined to learn from. He remembered three years ago how he lectured Brutis Bones and the others of the importance of telling the truth.

How much of a hypocrite Attelus was.

At the thought of Brutis Bones, Attelus wondered what happened to the Inquisitor. Had he escaped the destruction of Omnartus. Attelus doubted that, if any one managed to escape it would be him. Had Brutis gone all the way back home to Segmentum Pacificus? Attelus envied the Inquisitor's natural charisma and leadership ability and wondered, what would he do now?

The answer quickly came to the Throne Agent. Brutis Bones wouldn't have gotten in this predicament in the first frigging place.

The beep of the vox caused Attelus to jump from his introspection.

"We're approaching the co-ordinates you gave," said Darrance. "You and your girlfriends better get ready."

"Got you," Attelus said as he stood and retrieved his sheathed power sword in an instant. "Anything on the scanners?"

"No," said Darrance as though it was the stupidest question in existence. "If there is anything, I will call you."

"Forget that," said Attelus. "I'm going up there."

"Sure," said Darrance, uncaring. "You do what ever you want to do, you are the master. After all.'

Attelus winced while stepping out the door.

Attelus was walking onto the small bridge when the Eldar vessel seemed to shimmer into existence. It was only two hundred kilometres away and dominated the view.

Attelus gaped, he expected another moderately large explanatory craft. But this was a war ship it was large, perhaps two kilometres in length and bristled with the esoteric weapons from length to width.

"Not what you were expecting?" said Verenth who sat at the hull mounted weapon controls.

"No," said Attelus. "Not even close."

"Well," said Vark. "Just shows what you know."

Attelus' attention snapped to the smirking Stormtrooper who sat at the scanner, "unlike you who knows everything."

Vark shrugged.

+Mon'keigh,+ a soft male voice suddenly echoed through Attelus' mind, causing him to flinch. It was heavily accented, a stark contrast to Faleaseen's easy to understand words. +I am Warlock Klrith of Dalorsia this is the Kaltoria the flag ship of master autarch Raloth Arlyandor. I will psychically guide your pilot to what you term, "the docking bay." I will not try to warn you what will happen if you do, or even think of anything out of place. Even you Mon'keigh have the mental capacity to understand that, I hope.+

"Charming," said Darrance. "What a positively charming Xenos. Maybe I'll share a recaff and cookies with this 'Warlock' and share war stories. That will be fun, sure as sure."

The corner of Attelus' mouth twitched and he had to clench his teeth to keep from pointing out the pilot's hypocrisy.

Then Darrance looked over his shoulder at Attelus, "are you sure this is the right way?"

"Yes," said Attelus without hesitation. Then he turned and left, saying: "Excuse me, I have a meeting to attend to."

Attelus wanted a smoke of Lho. He'd given up a few years ago but the cravings still came when he was at his most nervous. He, Karmen and Adelana walked into the white, brightly lit, huge hanger bay. Their foot falls echoed on the wraithbone floor and Attelus was uncomfortably reminded that his bones were made from the same stuff.

Twenty Eldar stood in disciplined ranks, watching their approach through impassive red slits in their high helms. Every one was at least two metres tall and inhumanly slender. Their shuriken catapults held in confident grasps.

They were guardians, the militia of the Eldar. In the now familiar colours of craftworld Dalorsia.

"What do we do?" Adelana whispered in Attelus' ear causing a shiver to go down his neck.

"Stop there, that is what you do," said a voice that didn't just echo but boomed. It wasn't shouted but projected with such a power and clarity all three of them couldn't help freeze but in their tracks. It was the voice of a true commander one of incomparable experience and charisma.

Abruptly, the lines of guardians snapped simultaneously aside making an opening in their ranks and two figures approached through. One was shorter than the others but no less slender and he radiated an aura of such strength and force it was almost impossible not to stare. His armour was more ornate and two flags flowed from the top of his back pack. In one hand he held a shuriken catapult, the other held a beautiful single edged power sword with a glowing red gem in it's hilt. He lacked a helmet and his long, brown hair was pulled up in a top knot and his almond shaped eyes, fierce as he glared from under a hooded brow.

The other wore robes covered in glowing, eldritch runes and whose elaborate helm stared at Attelus with an indifference in stark contrast to the other.

As they came close, Attelus had to fight urge to flinch back. Neither Adelana or Karmen managed it, though

While he was short for an Eldar the helmetless eldar still loomed over Attelus, almost literally looking down his nose at the Throne agents.

Then much to Attelus' surprise the short eldar suddenly sighed and face palmed.

"I cannot believe that I am losing out to you," he muttered, like Faleaseen his voice lacked a strong accent indicating he'd spent some time mastering Low-Gothic.

"Excuse me?" said Attelus, his eyes widening.

"Never mind," said the eldar, quickly finding his poise. "It is nothing to concern yourself with. As you may have guessed I am master autarch Raloth Arlyandor, formally of Dalorsia and this is warlock Klrith. I welcome you aboard the Kaltoria, you are Attelus Xanthis Kaltos, I assume..."

The autarch's eyes narrowed as he paused, "I have heard much about you."

Attelus couldn't help but straighten and smile brightly. "Really?"

"Yes, really," sighed Raloth Arlyandor. "And who are your companions?"

"This is my...Apprentice Adelana Helgen and my sanctioned psyker, Karmen Kons."

"Is this all of you?" said the warlock, his real voice even heavier accented in person. "As I understood there were meant to be at least ten."

"The rest of them are staying in the ship," said Attelus through clenched teeth.

"Ah! I see," said Klrith. "Dissension in the ranks, how typically Mon'keigh of you."

Raloth sighed again, "Klrith..."

"And I do not understand that term 'sanctioned psyker," said the warlock quickly.

"It means I am sanctioned by the Imperium of Mankind to practice the psychic arts in the Emperor's name," said Karmen.

"That, sometimes I forget," said Klrith. "Most of your kind are blind to the skein and the rest of you fear it out of ignorance."

"Well," said Attelus. "Who can really blame us fearing it when you can blow up frigging buildings with a thought."

"I will not have smart mouthing from you, little Mon'keigh," said Klrith. "Even if you are the leader of your little band of thugs. Well, supposedly the leader, not a very good one if you ask me."

Attelus frowned and his gaze fell to the floor, "well, I have a lot to learn."

"And that is one of the reasons you are here," said Raloth. "I am here to teach you much of what I know."

There was a long, weighted silence and Klrith's impassive mask swivelled slowly to Raloth.

"The farseer, did not-"

"She did not tell you, because she knew you would whine about it," interrupted Raloth, rolling his eyes. "How do you think I feel about this, Klrith? How?"

Klrith's head tilted in what seemed amusement, "I do not know if this path is wise-"

"It is the farseer's order, Klrith," said Raloth. "You do not have the right to question for you lack even half the tact and wisdom she does."

"Of course you would say that, you will do anything she tells you to-"

"Dismissed, Klrith. Back to your quarters, that is an order."

Klrith bristled, looked at Attelus, Karmen and Adelana witheringly. Then turned and stormed off.

"My apologises for Klrith," said Raloth. "Believe it or not we are all not like him. He is an excellent warlock, his talents make him one of the best under my command but he can be rather...opinionated."

"You're training me," said Attelus, he stood stiffly, barely processing this new revelation. Unable to even point out the autarch's massive understatement.

"I am, and we haven't much time only two of your weeks so we will start in three of your hours, and in one we will be entering the webway, understand?"


"Good, I will meet you here, then. Be ready but it must be you and you alone, okay?"

Attelus hesitated but nodded, gave an awkward salute, then turned on the balls of his feet and he, Karmen and Adelana started back to the Guncutter.

"What, a twist," said Adelana.

"Yes," said Karmen then glanced conspiratorially over her shoulder. "But at least we know they aren't a whole race of Darrances, now."

Their combined laughter echoed.

In silence Raloth led Attelus through the corridors of his ship. It was like all the others Attelus had travelled in over the last three years. Quiet, there was no hum of engines. No smell of recycled oxygen purification chemicals. It was like he was back on Elbyra again, walking languidly through the Velrosian plains.

All throughout the it was a hustle and bustle of activity guardians ran back and around in training exercises and Attelus even managed to see of a squad of five eldar warriors in dark blue armour and white helmets. Multi coloured plumage of red, yellow and black rippled from the top of their helms. They wielded longer shuriken catapults than the guardians but what really set them apart was the fierce, almost palpable aura they emitted. Theirs was different than Raloth's, though. It was war. Attelus had never truly fought in a large scale battle before but he knew it when he felt it. One of them, a woman whose plumage was taller than the others, she wielded a powerspear and set on her arm was a strangely shaped, copper coloured device similar to that Raloth had on his left arm. Her aura was stronger than the others, it made Attelus nauseous and he had to fight to keep himself from slowing. He was already struggling to keep with Raloth's long strides.

"Raloth," said Attelus once the warriors past and he regained his composure.

"Refrain from calling me Raloth," said the autarch. "From hence forth you will call me by my title, autarch, will do. I do not put precedence on the 'master' I may command the armies of Dalrosia as a whole but there are other autarchs who surpass me in other ways. If I truly earned the title of master I would have to complete all the aspect warrior paths."

"Yes, autarch," Attelus stammered. "I'm sorry, but may I ask, who were the warriors in blue armour?"

Raloth kept his back to Attelus as he let out an amused snigger, "you asked to ask, then asked anyway. Is that not a contradiction? Yes you may they, Attelus Kaltos are aspect warriors. Dire Avengers of the temple of Graceful Wrath. I had once trained under their Exarch, the one who wields the spear and the force shield. Haliazel Kelzein many, many cycles ago. Of course she was not known as Haliazel Kelzein, then. Her father had inhabited the exarch armour in those days."

Attelus flinched as a thought hit him, "autarch, why are you telling me this?"

Raloth laughed, "that is an excellent question and one I did not expect from you. I believe farseer Faleaseen placed an incredibly elaborate, powerful block on your thoughts, did she not? So I believe that you would not be able to share this information even if you wanted to. And no one short of Eldrad Utlhran could pry it from your memory."

"Falea...The farseer has mentioned this Eldrad Ulthran of a few occasions now. Who is he? Or she?"

"Questions, questions you are truly a hub of questions are you not?" laughed Raloth. "I am sorry but I do not believe you need to know about the famous Eldrad Ulthran, not as of yet. Any way, here we are."

Raloth suddenly turned off the corridor and through a pair of hissing doors, into a small cylindrical room. It was simple, unadorned but was obviously a training area.

"This is my training quarters," said Raloth. "Usually, I would be training with my warriors but over the next two weeks we will be in here when you are not with your people on your ship."

"Ah! I see!"

"You see what?"

"You train with your warriors to boost morale, am I right?"

"You are, correct," said Raloth. "But it does not take incredible mental capacity to figure that out. Now, Attelus before we start. I have a question for you."

His eyes narrowed, "and you must answer truthfully. I am no seer but I will know if you lie."

Attelus nodded.

"What do you want?" said the autarch.

The question took Attelus off guard, but only for a second, "I want to hunt down Etuarq. I want to bring him to justice and avenge the countless people he has killed."

Raloth looked at Attelus for a few, weighted seconds.

"No," said the autarch eventually.

"What? What do you mean no?" Attelus exclaimed.

"Remember, title! I am your teacher, Attelus Kaltos! This is a rare honour for a human such as you! And you will show me the respect I deserve! And yes: no. It is not the answer I am looking for. Now answer the question again and answer correctly this time. What do you want?"

Attelus let out an animated sigh and stood struggling to think up another answer.

"I...I don't know," he said. "Adelana? I want to be with Adelana, does that suffice?"

Raloth shook his head sighed and stroked his thin nose, "yet again, you are incorrect."

Attelus let out a lout groan and hunched forward.

"Okay!" said the autarch. "Perhaps I am going about this the wrong way. You are human and while the farseer has gifted you immortality, you are unaccustomed to the thought of living so long and so...Why are you smiling?"

"You said okay," said Attelus. "Autarch."

"Yes? So?"

"It is term commonly used on my home world. My country, Velrosia to be exact, autarch."

Raloth stared at Attelus briefly, before flinching suddenly.

"Forget about that!" Raloth snapped. "It is immaterial! Now, Attelus. When I asked you what you want I meant uhh, I forget that word. It means in a long time. I mean what do you want, after you manage to defeat the Etuarq mon'keigh. What do you want in the...In the-"

"Long term?"

Raloth pointed at Attelus with an animated movement, "that is it! You mon'keigh and your low-Gothic! I have spent many cycles trying to master the language but have yet to achieve it."

"Well, no bodies perfect," said Attelus with a shrug and he had to fight the urge shuffle impatiently.

"Wise words, I must confess," said Raloth. "Not even my kind, no matter how much many of us proclaim so. So, Attelus Kaltos, now you understand what I mean please answer the question. Take your time, if you must."

Attelus smiled and thought, but it didn't take long for him to find the answer. The memory of sitting in that air craft, flying to Taryst's tower three years ago suddenly sprung into his mind.

"I want to travel the galaxy," he said. "I want to teach what I've learned in my long life to later generations. Teach them the mistakes their forefathers made, so they may never repeat them again."

Raloth smiled, "that is a noble cause, Attelus. But I fear it is one doomed for failure. As I understand it, your Emperor tried the same and he failed. Spectacularly. What makes you think you can succeed? And what may or may not be mistakes, could be up to interpretation."

"I don't know, autarch," said Attelus. "But by the throne I'll try. And I'll try to keep it simple. Don't build nuclear weapons, don't worship the chaos gods etcetera, etcetera."

The autarch nodded with what might've been respect, "that is a sign of wisdom, Attelus Kaltos. Being able to admit that you 'don't know' when you do not know. I am steadily seeing what Faleaseen sees in you."

Attelus couldn't help be taken aback by the melancholy tingeing the autarch's tone.

"D-did I answer correctly?"

"You did," said Raloth as with blinding speed, he drew his power sword and it blazed into life. "Your training begins in earnest!"

Then with a snarl, he charged.

For seemingly the fiftieth time Attelus was thrown onto his arse. Power sword flying from his grasp.

"You have skill," said Raloth as he lightly paced. "And your speed and reflexes are far beyond normal humans, perhaps even rivalling some of the dark kin. But you have yet to reach your true potential."

"I thought you were going to teach me how to be a leader," said Attelus. "Not kicking the ever loving crap out of me."

Raloth barked out a laugh, "your speed, it even out does mine, but I have something you do not."


"Experience. I have been an autarch for over five hundred of your years. I have fought against the dark kin, many more skilled than I. I have killed Space Marines who have given their souls to the four and have received their blessings. I have even fought and defeated the elite of the elite, the assassins of your Imperium who were far more skilled than I, but yet I am here while they are not. Why do you think that is?"

"Hmm," Attelus mused as he climbed to his feet, searching for the answer but it alluded him. "Sorry. Don't know, why?"

"Patience, thinking ahead," said Raloth as though it was the most obvious answer in the galaxy. "Fighting and the Path of Command are the same thing. As I understand it, you humans have a game called Regicide, am I correct?"

"I suck at Regicide," Attelus sighed.

"Well get better, you must learn to think not five or six moves ahead but dozens, even hundreds if needs be. There is always someone stronger, faster and more skilled than you, so do not just trust in your skill and speed but in your mind as well. You have trained so your body moves on it's own accord, I can see. Your mind is clear so use it."

Attelus nodded, his father had never said that. Serghar Kaltos had always emphasized going in for the kill. Plan for the initial strike but whatever happened after was fair game but Serghar wasn't a commander he was an assassin, pure and simple.

"I see."

"You must think the same way of those who you command," said Raloth. "You must know the strength, weaknesses and personalities of your men. What they will do and how they will do it, ten, twenty moves ahead."

"Just like one must know how and why all the units in Regicide move," said Attelus, his eyes widening in realisation.

"Precisely, but do not think of them a mere units on the board. They have hopes, dreams and wants and needs just the same as you. Tell me, Attelus Kaltos what is the true meaning of being a commander?"

Attelus pouted and shrugged, "command?"

Raloth laughed and shook his head. "Yes, but no. The true meaning of being a commander is to serve. You serve those which you command, you serve them so they can be the best they can be. You direct them, while you consider the big picture while they consider the small.

"I'm the mind, they're the body one and same, yet separate. I serve them so they serve me. Is that right?"

"That is correct. But yet again it does not take much intellect to figure that out. Do not be too happy with your achievements, there is always, always more to learn. Now, I think that is enough for today. Go back to your companions and we will start discussing the why and how your group has fallen out tomorrow."

Attelus nodded and started for the door but paused and looked back to Raloth.

"If you know so much about those under your command, why did you only let Klrith know now you were training me?" Attelus said. "You must've known he would react so negatively."

"I did," said Raloth.

Attelus waited, expecting elaboration but the eldar said nothing more.

Verenth sat at the table in the common room. He paused in the midst of reassembling his auto pistol. He must've done it dozens of times now. His trigger finger twitched. He wished he could do target practise but the Guncutter was too confined and he wouldn't have left into the eldar hangar bay even he wanted to.

Verenth had watched through the window of the bolter turret as Attelus, Karmen and Adelana had met them. He had never seen an eldar before but they were as alien as he imagined.

That was until he saw the one without a helmet on and…

It seemed, human, nothing like he'd imagined

"I don't get you," said a voice that knocked Verenth from his thoughts and Vark approached, pulled out a chair and sat across from him. "After you joined the Inquisition you could've wielded Hell guns or bolters or so much more but you still insist on using that dinky old autopistol, why?"

"My brother gave me it," said Verenth.

"The brother that Attelus killed, right?" said Vark.

Verenth furrowed his brow.

"No, I get it," said Vark. "You're very sentimental, that's kind of your thing, right? But you know what I really don't get-"

"How I can work with the man who killed my brother?" Verenth interrupted.


"Vark, we've fought together on a few occasions and you've saved my arse and I've saved yours. But as far as I'm concerned we're colleagues. No more, no less. I'm never going to ever tell you that. Got it?"

Vark exhaled through his nose and leaned back in his chair.

"I understand, fair enough," said Vark, raising his hands in deference. "But I have another question for you."

Verenth grimaced, he didn't like the Stormtrooper's smile.

"You are a pious man, aren't you?"

Verenth looked at Vark but said nothing.

"You and I attend church regularly but have you ever wondered why so many of us don't? Least of all the senior staff. I have never seen Arlathan, Attelus or even the inquisitor herself. Have you?"

No, thought Verenth.

"That's because she, like Arlathan and Attelus believe that it is better to serve the Emperor through action rather than prayer," said Helma as she approached from the stairs Delathasi following her. "I am the same. What are you trying to do, Vark?"

"I'm just having a conversation with my good colleague, here," said Vark. "And I would say that both prayer and service would be better."

"Yes, well you don't have quite the same responsibility they do," said Helma. "I was a captain in the Imperial guard, remember?"

"Yeah! And now you're subordinate to some lying little Xenos lover, how about that?"

Helma sighed, "we are in the Inquisition now, Vark. It's a whole new mentality, a mind set I don't have. I don't mind being demoted at all, you and I are soldiers, Vark. Not Throne Agents."

Verenth couldn't help snigger, "I agree, Helma. Vark, your manipulation skill is about a subtle as a bolt round."

Vark grimaced.

"I just think something is wrong," said Vark. "First we must work with Xenos, so what next? Heretics?"

Vark was answered with silence so kept on, "and if Attelus has been keeping this under wraps who knows what else he's keeping. Who knows what else the Inquisitor is keeping."

"We all have secrets, Vark," said Delthasi. "You respected Verenth's choice to keep his, didn't you?"

Vark gaped, "that-that's different, if it's important to the mission-"

"I would say Attelus has already shared the information that was important to the mission," said Delathasi. "I am angry, you are angry all of us are and rightfully so but there is more at stake here than our anger."

"Like bringing down the bastard responsible for destroying my homeworld," said Verenth as he began to reassemble his autopistol again. "And stopping him from doing it again."

Vark gave Verenth a glare.

"Wise words, Delathasi," said Attelus as he abruptly appeared at the head of the left side staircase. "Thanks for sticking up for me."

Despite her dark skin, Delathasi's blush was hard to miss.

"How was your time with your Xenos friends?" said Vark accusingly.

Verenth guessed not very well by Attelus' beaten, ragged appearance.

"Could've been better, could've been worse, in all honesty," Attelus shrugged. "They're surprisingly accommodating, actually."

"You're not dead, so colour us surprised," said Helma.

"Not dead, yet," corrected Vark.

Attelus sighed, walked past them and into the kitchen. "If they wanted us dead, we would already be dead," he said, while sliding out a ready made ration meal from the food chiller.

"But what if we already are dead and this is one of their witches playing tricks with our minds?" said Vark.

"And people call me paranoid!" said Attelus.

"Just saying we shouldn't trust 'em is all," said Vark.

"And what do you think we should do, Vark?" said Attelus. "Fly out of their hanger bay, into the webway with no idea where to go? What to do?"

Vark shrugged.

Attelus abruptly, angrily tossed the meal into the micro oven, folded his arms and brooded, back against the bench.

Verenth raised an eyebrow, as much as he disliked the kid, he had a point.

The micro oven beeped and Attelus opened it, took out the meal and stormed out.

"Excuse me just had the crap kicked out of me for the last three hours," he said. "Really need some sleep."

A thought occurred to Verenth and he quickly picked up his pistol then followed Attelus down the stairs.

"You know you and me have a lot in common," said Verenth once they stepped off the stairs and started toward the living quarters.

Attelus stopped and turned to Verenth, eyebrow raised, "are you hitting on me? Because despite what many people seem to believe, I don't swing that way."

"I wouldn't hold it against you if you did," said Verenth.

"You already have enough more than enough to hold against me, Verenth."

"We both were the scum of the 'verse not long ago," said Verenth. "So we both know that not much is black and white."


"So don't blame Vark too much. He's just doing what he thinks is right and a lot of what he just said is what you said three years ago."

Attelus nodded, visibly taken aback, "thanks."

Verenth nodded back, turned and left.

Attelus barely managed to back-step Raloth's horizontal slash then weaved aside a stab.

"So this Vark character," said the autarch as he parried Attelus' counter. "He sounds like the model Imperial citizen."

"He is!" Attelus gasped as his diagonal downward cut was side stepped. "And he's a right royal pain in the arse!"

"But this Verenth character who has more reason to hate you than any one else seems on your side."

"Yes!" said Attelus as he danced away from a thrust. "I can say I never saw that coming!"

"People will always surprise you," said Raloth. "No matter what you know."

"Or think you know!" said Attelus, cutting horizontally at Raloth's neck, which the autarch leaned back from.

"Indeed!" said Raloth as his upper cut connected with Attelus' side and sent him sprawling to the ground. "Although I knew you left yourself wide open there."

Raloth approached Attelus and offered his hand, "I am surprised you didn't kill this Vark."

"What? Why?" said Attelus as Raloth pulled him to his feet and he tried to ignore the pain in his ribs.

"He is a threat, a threat to your leadership and to your mission. Many of your kind would have killed him as an example."

Attelus shook his head and wiped the sweat from his forehead, "Vark is a veteran of the Omnartus incident and there are few enough survivors of that as it is, and we have worked together on a few occasions-"

"You are letting sentiment cloud your judgement, Attelus Kaltos."

"Would you have killed him?"

"No," said Raloth. "I would not have."

"But you said that sentiment was clouding my judgement!"

"Yes I did and yes you were. You did the right thing but for the wrong reason."

"Why wouldn't you have killed him then, autarch?"

"There are a few reasons. First and foremost is it will make you look like a bully and a tyrant. One who leads by fear, and you have already established you do not want to be that kind of leader, so killing him will contradict this. In my long experience it is better to lead through example. To earn loyalty through word and action. The tyrant's way is the way of the dark kin and many of the leaders of your Imperium and more likely will lead you to be murdered in your sleep or abandoned when at your direst hour."

"It's also the way of the liar and manipulator," said Attelus, remembering with disturbing clarity his former master, Glaitis shrieking in agony. A knife lodged in her spine. Attelus hoped he had learned from Glaitis' and Taryst's mistakes but seemingly not.

"Indeed," said Raloth, he said nothing more just stared down at Attelus.

The Throne Agent shook his head, "I've tried to reason with the idiot. He just wont see sense. What...what do you think I should do?"

Raloth sighed, "I will be honest with you, Attelus Kaltos. He has a right to be angry, they all have a right to be angry. I only have one suggestion, but I do not think you will like it."


The autarch told him and he was right, Attelus didn't like it. Not at all.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:26 pm

Another drawing this one
of Attelus vs Feuilt from Secret War


Adelana was shocked, shocked into silence since Attelus stormed into the Guncutter and ordered another meeting. Shocked since Attelus stood before everyone and told them they were meeting the eldar.

She had never seen Attelus so driven. She had never seen him so, commanding. In their three years working together, it seemed he was only her master in name. While he would constantly teach her, he always treated Adelana as an equal. Politely asking her to do tasks instead of ordering. But then he'd seemed like a master. A leader.

Vark and Torris had tried to argue but Attelus would brook nothing. He shot them down with a cold, calm rational. I got to the point where Vark was almost yelling in his face, but Attelus never raised his voice, never showed anger but he didn't back down. His lessons with the autarch were already making a difference.

And Adelana liked it.

She walked alongside him as they led the others down the ramp of the guncutter and into the eldar hangar bay.

Twelve eldar stood waiting a few metres away. They wore elaborate, finely made robes. In her travels with the eldar Adelana had seen a few wearing such beautiful garments, even the males. Despite their bright colours and designs they were never seemed gaudy. If a human attempted to wear such clothing, they would, but the eldar had such refined style and grace they could get away with it. None of them were alike, it was such a contrast to their armour which was incredibly uniform.

Adelana was never much into fashion but secretly she liked to try on of those robes, just once. But she didn't think they would have any clothing in her size and again she'd make it look ugly.

The eldar regarded them with impassive expressions.

Attelus stopped and so did everyone else. He looked relaxed with his hands in the pocket of his flak jacket, but radiated purpose and strength,

Then the eldar silently parted and Raloth Arlyandor stepped forward. Unlike the others, he was only what looked like an advanced, black bodyglove. His long brown hair wasn't in a top knot and flowed around his strong shoulders. Despite this his force of presence wasn't negated, in fact his more it seemed to enhance it. He was quite the sight.

The autarch regarded all of them on by one. His large eyes lingering on everyone for a good time. He seemed to see into Adelana's very soul, but this didn't make her uncomfortable. Adelana almost felt privileged that such a great leader would bother giving her his attention.

"Greetings," he said. "I am autarch Raloth Arlyandor and I apologise. I am no seer but I can see the vast, vast majority of you do not want to be here."

He paused, "so again, I apologise. I apologise to all of you."

Then he did something that shocked Adelana, he looked at everyone again and in turn, said their names.

"If there is any one you should be mad at, it is me," said Raloth. "It was partly my decision that led you to be here. Yes, Attelus here hid it from you until the last minute and that was a foolish thing to do, isn't it, Attelus Kaltos?"

"Yes," murmured Attelus through clenched teeth.

"But yet, can you blame him? Really?" said Raloth. "Our races have had a long, chequered history. You hate us, do not trust us and much of us look down on you, deem you a lesser species. We have used you and manipulated you for our own ends for millennia. So I, for one think your hatred and mistrust is well founded."

Raloth paused again, letting his words sink in, "so when you know this, can you blame Attelus here for being scared? For being hesitant in telling you of our alliance? I do not think so. In fact I know so. I am here, we are here to put that behind us. We are here because of a common cause. Believe is or not we are not here to manipulate or use you, we are here on equal footing. As allies."

"Because it does not matter who is better or who is lesser. In essence of all things, we are equal. We are nothing but ants in the vast cosmos. Our existences mere eye blinks in this universe. I think, we eldar who stand before you here believe that we have done things the wrong way. We believe that if our races are to survive in this grim, dark universe we will do so by co-operating-"

"So will you be there with us?" interrupted Vark, whose voice boomed from the back. "You and your people will be fighting with us on Sarkeath?"

Adelana expected anger from the autarch at the interruption but Raloth sighed and his gaze fell to the floor, "we are not, I am afraid."

"Well you go on about co-operation but wont even help us in a fight?" said Vark. "Typical xenos!"

"Believe me, Vark," said Raloth. "I want to be there fighting almost as much as you. But we can't and for good reason."

"Yeah! And I'm guessing you're not gonna tell us!" said Vark. "Everyone has their frigging secrets!"

"No, actually, I am going to tell you," said Raloth. "You deserve to know. As you know the reason why our enemy is destroying your worlds is to collect souls. Us eldar without exceptions are what you call 'psykers' so our souls have more power than the normal human. What our leader, farseer Faleaseen fears is any eldar dying will fuel what ever scheme Etuarq has, bringing it into fruition faster."

Vark grimaced and shuffled his foot, muttering something Adelana couldn't hear.

"If it means anything, I agree with you, Vark," said Raloth. "I believe the farseer is being too cautious and one day, no matter what, we will have to show our hand and fight. That will be sooner, not later I am sure."

"I would like to know," said Torris. "Why you are talking to us and not this 'farseer? Who is your actual leader.'"

"Excuse me, autarch Arlyandor" said one the eldar, a female whose blonde hair was cut short to her thin jawline and whose robes shimmered with shades of purple. "May I answer that question?"

"Of course, Coulyte," said Raloth, stepping back with a slight smile.

"Thank you, autarch," said Coulyte. "I am now upon the path of the weaver, but only a few cycles ago I walked the path of the seer. Our enemy, is powerful we do not know for certain but we are sure that this Etuarq is using those souls to power himself. We do not know how. The farseer and the seer council must stay in the main ship. There they are near the infinity circuit so there they are at their strongest. They attempt to break into the skein, to catch glimpses of the future to guide us. This Etuarq has somehow blocked our vision."

"I thought the eldar were meant to all high and mighty," said Vark.

Coulyte frowned, "we thought that too. Our enemy has, humbled us, somewhat."

"Now I bet that's the understatement of the millennia," snorted Torris.

"All this exposition is good and all," said Vark. "But why are we here exactly? There must be some other reason."

"There is no other reason, Vark," said Raloth. "We are here to talk. If we are going to be successful, I believe this bridge must be gapped and believe it will start here."

Vark raised an eyebrow, "just by talking?"

"Yes," said Raloth. "It must happen and must start somewhere. So here we are. So talk."

"About what?" said Vark. "We haven't got anything in common. You're not like us"

"Oh I disagree," said Raloth. "I think you will be surprised just how much we have in common."

The eldar Coulyte approached Adelana, smiling.

"I noticed you seem interested in our garments," she said. "My name is Coulyte, what is yours?"

"Adelana," said Adelana hesitantly.

"Pleased to meet you, Adelana. As I mentioned earlier, I walk the path of the seamstress. I am only here now as a guardian assigned to the Kaltoria, on a temporary vocation. I have brought some material with me if you would like me to make something..."

Attelus watched in shock. They were talking, actually talking. The only one standing separate was Vark, he leaned against the wall, arms folded and grimacing in disgust. Attelus didn't expect the ex-guardsman would. But he didn't expect all the others would. There was Torris, hesitantly conversing with a female eldar in green and orange robes. And Delathasi talking to a male in blue. Karmen was engaged in conversation with two, both male. Attelus could tell they were talking about their powers.

"Do not look so shocked," said Raloth he approached. "Such a display of emotion is unbecoming of a commander."

"I-I can't believe it."

"Another saying you humans have, seeing is believing. Which I think is a foolish saying as your mind and eyes can lie and be deceived, but in this case I think it is true."

"When do you think a fight will break out?" said Attelus, finally regaining himself.

Raloth sighed, "so cynical-perhaps-in fifteen minutes? I will concede, it is possible."

Attelus' didn't answer, his attention was busy being fixated by Adelana as she talked to the eldar in purple.

Adelana caught him and gave him a smile with a wave.

He couldn't help smile widely and wave back. His heart all aflutter.

"Can I ask you a favour?" said Attelus.

"You wish for the Adelana girl to join in our training sessions?" said Raloth.


"For someone who has supposedly been trained from an early age to be an assassin you are truly terrible at hiding your intentions."

"Well, can she?"

Raloth smiled, "yes, of course she can."

Attelus couldn't help jump for joy.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:04 am

Attelus vs Edracian from Secret War


Despite Attelus prediction, a fight didn't break out, but it didn't take long for Vark to storm into the guncutter when one of the eldar tried to start a conversation with him. No one tried to stop him.

They did this for half an hour before the eldar leader ordered the other xenos to their duties and the team walked back into the guncutter in silence.

Torris' mind whirled, that was without doubt the strangest thing he'd ever gone through. The eldar he talked to was named Faldreth and he was very interested in law enforcement of the Imperium once Torris said he was once an Arbite. Faldreth bombarded Torris with questions, most of which Torris was hesitant to answer.

But he did for a few reasons, the first and foremost was the eldar seemed to ask them with an almost child-like elation born from curiosity than anything sinister.

They only were in the small hanger-storage area which held their armoured all terrain vehicle five bikes, their feet clanged across the metallic floor, when Attelus stopped and turned back to the group. Smiling.

"I'd like to thank you, all of you," Attelus said. "You have truly amazed me today and I am forever in your debt."

Torris frowned and no one said anything. He wasn't sure if this was Attelus being manipulative or not.

"From now on every three days we will be having gatherings with the eldar, just like this one," said Attelus. "These ones will be strictly voluntary, but I strongly request you come."

He turned and started on, "Adelana, can we talk, please?" he said and the pretty red head nodded and followed. A slight smile on her full lips.

The rest of the group didn't move an inch, they stood silent for a good minute.

Uncharacteristically, it was Halsin who broke the silence.

"I do not have a clue what to make of this," said the young medicae.

"Neither," said Helma gruffly. "You guys think if the Inquisitor finds out about this, she'll kill us?"

"No," said Torris, without hesitation. "I remember she said to Attelus as we left, 'anything and everything to win,' it's one of Attelus' little, pragmatic philosophies. I think she knew this was going to happen, or at least had an idea. It's official, we work for a radical inquisitor, everyone."

"Figured that out a long time ago," said Karmen.

"Yeah, well we don't have quite as much seniority as you," said Torris. "I'm pretty sure we all suspected it but now it's confirmed, without any doubt."

Karmen shrugged and pursed her lips, "it depends really on whether she kills us when we get back, until then it's not really confirmed at all. It's conjecture, Marcel."

"You say that even though you said you'd already figured it out," said Jelket. "I think Marcel's right, inquisitor Enandra is a radical. I've been saying it for years."

"Of course you have," said Karmen. "But you say a lot of things, Jelket."

"Well," said Delathasi. "It all depends if Vark rats us out."

Vark emerged from the stairway, frowning with his arms folded, "I heard you, then, girl," he growled.

Delathasi smiled, "I knew you would and knew you were up there."

"Are you? Are you going to 'rat us out?'" Verenth said.

"I'd already promised I'd tell the inquisitor everything once we get back," said Vark. "I'm a man of my word. Anyway, does it matter? That psyker bitch of Enandra's will just pluck it from our memories."

Vark smirked at Karmen pointedly, "or this psyker will pluck it from out memory."

Torris couldn't help stiffen, as Karmen's face darkened and her jaw tightened.

"That's if you get back, Vark," Karmen growled.

Vark's expression turned murderous, "is that a threat, Karmen?"

Karmen's face lightened, "no, it is just a mere statement of fact, Vark. We have no idea who will make it back. If anyone will at all. You and I must work together, so I would never threaten. You are just pushing it, is all I'm saying."

"You attend the ecclesiarcal services, too," said Vark. "I do not understand how you can be so casual to our leader's radical tendencies."

Karmen sniggered, "Vark, she hired me. I was a rogue, mercenary psyker. Of course she's a frigging radical and of course I don't mind she is one. I believe the God-Emperor is above all things but also believe that his rules he made during the birth of this Imperium of man were more suited to a different time. I believe that he now understands that much must be done for the continued survival of our species that ten thousand years ago would be deemed wrong."

"Like mind controlling a thousand mercenary soldiers to be slaughtered as a distraction for our escape," said Darrance.

"I hope, Darrance," said Karmen. "I truly hope."

"Or you pray," said Darrance contemptuously.

There was a long, weighted silence. The only sounds was the slight hum of the engine and shuffling feet. Again it was Halsin who broke it.

"Is anyone going to meet the eldar next time?"

"I will," said Verenth. "I think we could learn much from them."

Vark sneered.

"Much we can use against them, if needs be," elaborated Verenth.

"I will too," said Hayden. "I think we will need them as allies in the future and the one I spoke to mentioned he was once a Ranger. I have heard they are brilliant snipers and he might teach me how to improve my shooting."

"I wouldn't have thought that to be even possible," said Helma playfully.

Hayden smiled.

"As will I," said Delathasi. "I talked to one who said she was once a 'Howling Banshee,' she said she would be interested in teaching me a few sword techniques."

Karmen laughed, "I have a lot in common with their kind, them being psykers and all. So I will be seeing them again."

Eventually, everyone but Vark and Torris admitted they were interested.

Torris, in truth, was going to meet the eldar again too. But for a different reason. He wanted to know how they ticked. Their exact thought processes. So far he could only view them from a human eye, so had no choice but to project his own human mentality onto them, so what little he and the others had learned from this bizarre encounter had little merit. The ones they spoke to seemed like outliers. A very liberal minority that didn't look down on humanity, hence why this 'autarch Raloth Arlyandor' chose them as ambassadors. If Torris truly wanted to learn more, he had to talk to at least one of the majority.

That warlock Klrith would be perfect. If only Torris could find a way to interact with the arrogant prejudiced creature, somehow.

He could only think of one way, and it depressed him more than he could say.

"Marcel?" said Karmen, knocking Torris from his thoughts. "We're getting something to eat, you want to come?"

Torris nodded and started up the staircase after the others, cursing quietly under his breath.

"You want to do, what?" said Attelus, he sat on his padded chair, behind the small black office desk in his quarters. Looking at Torris with a raised eyebrow. Like all of the guncutter's interior it was luxurious, with dark red carpet and walls wall papered a lush white. Gold abrasions lined the walls and floor. It was once Taryst's ship and everyone in the organisation knew of the rogue trader's more flamboyant tastes and his obsession with crimson, gold and white. Sometimes when Torris walked through the ship it would take him to the old days. Back to simpler times.

"I said-"

"I heard what you said. I'm sorry, just reminiscing. This place takes me back."

Attelus nodded, "yeah, I guess it would. Do you seriously want to talk to that arsehole?"

"I don't want to talk to him," said Torris. "I just feel if we want to get the whole picture we need to talk to those not so...not so..."


Torris nodded, "you are connected. As far as I know this Raloth could just putting up a front. Can you try to arrange this meeting?"

Attelus frowned, "if he was putting up a front I don't think Klrith would've been the one to guide or landing."

Torris shrugged, "maybe. But by talking to him I might be able to figure out why he hates us, why they really look down on us and that might help us in our future diplomatic endeavours. Who knows? Maybe I could put him wrong."

Attelus sniggered and leaned back in his chair, "yeah, good luck with that."

"Look, just ask the autarch. Okay?"

Attelus thought on it for a few seconds before shrugging and saying, "yeah, I don't see why not. But whether the warlock will agree is another story, entirely. It's funny, first you were all against meeting the eldar but now you're all for it."

"What is that saying of yours? Know your enemy?"

Attelus sighed, "they aren't our enemy, Torris."

"Yeah, these ones aren't. But what about the others out there?"

"All right, point taken," Attelus said.

"Did you tell her?" said Torris.

"Tell who, what?"

"You and Adelana had a private talk, did you finally tell her how you feel?"

"No, that was about something else. Why?"

"It just seemed you finally got some balls, kid."

Attelus shrugged, "I will tell her, soon."

"Yeah, well we're running on borrowed time in our line of work. We're lucky we're all still alive after these three years. So do it soon."

"I'm not."

"You're not, what?"

"Running on borrowed time."

Torris frowned at Attelus' arrogance, then turned for the door.

"Why do you hate me, Torris?"

Torris looked back, it seemed like the boy finally got some balls after all.

"I don't hate you," Torris said.

"Okay," said Attelus, leaning back his chair and pursing his lips in bemusement. "Then...what?"

"Unlike the others, I know exactly who and what you are, and what you could potentially become. I saw it when you manipulated Jeurat, I saw it when that Rodyille character tried to rape Adelana. You've got evil in you, you are capable of great evil, and I don't like it."

Attelus sighed and swivelled in his chair, "don't you think I know that? Why do you think I haven't told Adelana my feelings, yet? I'm sure she'll say no because she knows that too. I'm trying to be a good person, Torris. I'm really trying. As much as I can be a good person when I'm a murderous, manipulative bastard. Isn't that enough to earn your respect? After all the shit I've been through?"

It was Torris' turn to sigh, "I do respect you. I respect your abilities, believe it or not. But that doesn't mean I have to like you. I'm sorry, that's just how this cosmos works."

"Whatever," Attelus growled.

Torris took that as his cue to leave and turned away.

"Marcel," said Attelus, causing Torris to stop and clench his fists. "You're a good person. You and Jeurat."

Torris said nothing.

"I'm not a good person. So tell me what means more, Marcel? Someone who's inherently good, doing good? Or someone who's inherently evil doing good, despite their ingrained nature?"

Torris stood, struggling for a response. But couldn't think of anything, so said instead.

"Even still, you need to tell her," said Torris.

"I will, one day."

"For someone who supposedly has a shit ton of willpower, you're a still a frigging huge coward."

Attelus furrowed his brow.

"Yeah," said Torris. "As Elandria used to say, 'whatever.'"

The following days past by. Attelus and Adelana trained under Raloth. He taught Attelus the way of the commander while teaching Adelana sword play and much to Attelus annoyance- Adelana made more progress with the sword in that week, than she had in months under him. On the forth day, Raloth made them meditate. Neither Attelus and Adelana had done it before and they struggled. Adelana grasped it quicker than Attelus, of course. Attelus mind was always a chatter. Telling him to clear his thoughts was the equivalent of asking him to stop breathing.

The following meetings with the eldar went well. Every one of the group took part in each. Even Vark who still kept in the background but whose expression slowly changed from furrowing anger to one of genuine interest as he unashamedly listened into the conversations. Adelana received her robes from Coulyte on the third meeting. She put them on later after some convincing.

They were made of patterns of shining gold and red. Matching her hair and every man's jaw dropped when she emerged into the common room, blushing like hell. Adelana though she looked terrible and no amount of words would convince her otherwise

It was on the second to last day, at the end of the training session, Attelus asked Raloth about Torris meeting Klrith.

A flash of anger crossed the autarch's sharp features.

"And why would Torris want to talk to Klrith?" said Raloth.

Attelus straightened, seeing he'd hit a nerve, "he wishes to understand why Klrith looks down on us humans. He hopes it'll allow us to understand why much of your race do."

Raloth sighed and scratched his nose. Adelana and Attelus were both coated head to toe in sweat but the eldar had one slight bead running down his patrician forehead.

"He sees through this," said Attelus, seizing the initiative. "Torris knows that the eldar we talk to are in the minority. He wishes to see the other side. Not just the side you want us to see."

Raloth shook his head, "yet again, I find I have underestimated you humans. Okay, I will ask Klrith but I truly doubt he will acquiesce. He has been sulking in his quarters ever since your arrival."

Attelus rolled his eyes.

Three hours later, Raloth and Klrith marched into the guncutter's storage area.

Verenth and Helma were there, sparring in hand to hand combat while Adelana was in the midst of practising her cameleoline cloak technique and Jelket, bench pressing weights with Hayden as his spotter. All froze in abstract shock, even Jelket. No eldar had set foot in the guncutter, yet.

"I wish to speak with this Torris, mon-keigh!" Klrith snapped.

With Karmen Attelus and Adelana. Torris was led into the Kaltoria by Raloth and Klrith. An escort of ten eldar soldiers in their strange armour surrounded them.

Torris had never been so far into their ship bfore so couldn't help stare in wonder. He caught Klrith looking at him once. Torris couldn't read the eldar's expression behind his helmet, but the contempt Klrith radiated was almost palpable.

They eventually a door slid open for them and they walked into what seemed like a large dining room. A long, white table sat in the centre and was covered in lush food, beautiful meats, vibrant fruits and what might have been vegetables. The smell made Torris' stomach rumble and mouth water despite none of resembling any food he'd ever seen before. Over the past weeks they'd been living on dry, tasteless rations. This was like heaven.

Raloth indicated their seats and Torris sat across from Klirth. Attelus sat beside Torris, then it was Adelana, and Karmen. Raloth was next to Klrith. Humans were on the right side of the table, eldar on the left.

"Here we are," said Raloth. "Torris, Attelus, Adelana, Karmen Kons you are our honoured guests. Please help yourselves to food."

"Are they going to give thanks to the corpse they so foolishly worship?" said Klirth. "At least we have the intellect to stop worshipping our worthless gods and admit they are dead."

"I know many an eldar who still pray," said Raloth.

"That is just foolish sentiment," said Klirth.

Raloth's gaze wandered over the humans who sat in awkward, shuffling silence.

"Please, do not be afraid," said Raloth. "Eat if you so wish."

Hesitantly, Attelus and Adelana began to take food and place it onto their plates. But Torris and Karmen didn't move.

"What is it you wish to discuss?" said Klrith. "Do not waste any more of my time."

Torris grimaced and decided to get straight to the point, "why do you hate us?"

He fought the urge to flinch as he remembered Attelus asking him that very question days before.

Klrith made what may have been a snort, "hate? I do not hate your kind. You are not worthy of my hatred. You are mere ants. Not even in billions of years could you mon keigh live up to half of what we have achieved!"

"Why?" said Torris.


"Why do you think that?"

Klrith paused, seemingly taken aback by the question.

"Because it is truth! And I do not think it, I know it!"

"So, you can see into the future?"

"Do not ask me such foolish questions."

Torris frowned and leaned back in his chair, it was exceedingly comfortable but it was made for an eldar so his feet swung in the air. It made Torris feel like a child again, back in his Schola Progenium on Malfi.

"My apologises," said Torris. "But you claim not to hate us and I am no expert on your people's psychology but how you act, it seems indicative to hatred."

"No, you mon keigh cannot be experts on anything. Your lives are too pathetically short, so spare me your foolish beliefs."

Torris eyes widened as the realisation hit him, this Klrith he had suffered from some horrific trauma. One enacted by humans.

"Tell me, Klrith," said Torris. "Why do you always wear your helmet?"

Raloth straightened as Klrith flinched and Torris knew he'd hit a nerve.

"That is my business and mine alone!" snarled Klrith and was suddenly up, and leaving.

Raloth was on his feet almost at the same time and grabbed Klrith by the shoulder. Klrith turned on Raloth and they launched into an argument in their language.

For a good five minutes they roared back and forth with such intensity it took Torris' breath away. It was becoming more and more obvious the eldar were like humans in many ways but felt emotion on a far, far greater level.

Finally, Klrith seemed to acquiesce and things calmed down. Raloth sat back down but Klrith still stood, seeming to stare into space. Suddenly he tore off his helmet.

The visage beneath made everyone but Raloth flinch in horror. Klrith's face was a mass of burnt tissue and scars. His eyes were barely visible but it was obvious they watered with tears.

"If you truly must know, this is why I wear my helm," said Klrith. "Does this make you happy, monkeigh?"

Klrith didn't wait for a reply, but Torris wouldn't have been able to anyway.

"Your kind did this to me! When you invaded our craftworld many cycles ago! Monkeigh in the millions who had given their souls to She Who Thirsts. Led by Space Marines of the Emperor's Children! I lost my family! My friends! My lover, she was a Dire Avenger and I was forced to watch her die! We fought and we fought, culled you by the thousands but still you came. But then the Harlequins came, they came telling our seers of a prophecy. ."

He paused, his hands balling into fists, "they told us if we did not abandon our craftworld if we continued to fight that it would not just lead to our extinction but to the extinction of the entire eldar race!"

Klrith laughed, it's bitterness resounded through the room, "at first out seers ignored the harlequins. Surely they would know better than them? Surely they would have foreseen such a dire future? We could win! We knew we could! It would cost most of us our lives. But we would win! But as we culled and culled, more and more of us fell and soon many of the seers saw that even if we were victorious the price would not be worth it and began to argue amongst themselves."

Klrith shook his head, "that was until the then warlock Faleaseen managed to penetrate the skein and despite not being a full Farseer. She saw it, she saw this future and so approached the council. And She revealed this vision. Instantly they made the decision to abandon the craftworld. So we took what we could of the infinity circuit, and gave the Harlequins the soul stones of our dead. Then we, in mass left. Fled into the webway with the little ships we had. This happened to me when I was fighting in the rear guard. When a monkeigh tank exploded in my face! So I swore I would never get it healed. That I would keep my face like this so I would never forget!"

As Klrith said this Torris noticed Attelus flinch and touch the horrible scar on his left cheek.

"That is why I hate you and your kind! That is why it sickens me that we are to co-operate with you!"

With that Klrith retrieved his helmet and walked out. This time Raloth didn't try to stop him.

For a long time they sat in silence.

"I had no idea," managed Torris.

Raloth sighed, "no, and I do not blame you for not knowing. You mistook his prejudice for being driven by the same arrogance inherent in much of my people. I was like him, many cycles ago. But I have moved on. I know that you Torris and the others had nothing to do with that atrocity. I wish he would have his face healed so that one day, he might too."

There was another long, weighted silence.

"That is another reason why farseer Faleaseen hesitates to order us to fight," said Raloth. "We have already lost many Dalorsians already. Those monkeigh still live in our craftworld, even today. I do not know how they survive, but they do and that just adds to the insult."

"God-Emperor," breathed Karmen.

"I hope this truly establishes our dedication to this cause," said Raloth. "That we were willing to abandon our home. That we are willing to co-operate with the same race which was responsible for the tragedy."

"It seems we have more in common than I could ever imagine," said Karmen. "All of us are orphans and many of us are marked with facial scars from our individual traumas."

"Refugees," said Attelus.

She looked to Attelus, "and some of us will not allow those scars to heal."

"I am sorry," said Torris, fighting back the tears in his eyes. "I did not mean for this to happen."

"It's not your fault," said Raloth. "It is mine for underestimating you yet again. But you need not feel guilt, what is done is done and the war for Dalorsia was generations ago for your kind. Now we must look to the future. I just hope, beyond hope that something good will come out of this for poor Klrith. For now please, eat."

No one touched any food after that and it wasn't long before the humans took their leave.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:23 am

With their guardian escort around them, they walked back to the guncutter in silence.

Adelana couldn't help steal glances at Torris the entire way. The ex-arbitrator's face was a mask of rage, his hands opening and closing.

She fought her fear, Torris seemed on the verge of violence and he was frigging scary at the best of times.

Attelus and Karmen seemed not to notice Torris and his inner conflict, or ignored it.

Adelana couldn't help wonder if Torris saw some of himself in Klrith. That Klirth's hatred was horrifying to behold but unlike Torris, it was far more justified. Also, that Raloth, despite going through the same trauma and similar turbulent emotional state, was able to overcome it.

After three years Torris was maybe seeing that he needs to let his grudge go. Torris was an incredibly intelligent, observant character. But maybe that was the problem. Torris was so busy analysing others, he never bothered to look inward. To analyse himself.

Even some of the most educated, good people can lack self awareness.

Adelana looked at Attelus as he walked ahead of her. That was one things Attelus had, self awareness. Even though Adelana wished he had it more, she wished he could see just how self centred and manipulative he can be, but no one was perfect. Least of all him.

Or her. Adelana couldn't help wonder- was she like Torris too? She shook away the thought, if she was she wouldn't have forgiven Attelus.

After what seemed like hours they emerged into the hangar bay, and to the comforting sight of the guncutter which Adelana had become so well acquainted with over the past three years. It was beautifully silver and sleek but still boxy and primitive compared to the eldar fighters and transports around it.

Their guardian escort stepped away as they were about half way through the hangar bay and as they started up the ramp. Vark was waiting for them.

"How did it go, Marcel?" he said. "They're grox shitting us, right? They're not to be trusted?"

Then Torris punched him in the face knocking Vark off his and carried on into the guncutter.

Attelus stopped and offered Vark his hand.

Vark glared at Attelus.

Attelus stood without saying a word, his face neutral.

Vark eventually accepted it and Attelus pulled him to his feet. Vark nodded begrudgingly, then turned and walked into the ship, wiping his bloody lip.

It seemed things were okay, Adelana hoped it'd stay that way.

She doubted it.

"Well, Adelana," said Attelus, smiling as she approached. "That went well, don't you think?"

Adelana frowned.

The next day, they exited the webway and immediately the tangy smell of nervous, adrenaline filled sweat sprang into the air as everyone began prepping.

They were a well oiled machine- Attelus didn't need to say a word.

Vark, Hayden and Torris with two servitors made final checks on their vehicles. Halsin collected and collated his medical equipment. Hayden then gathered the explosives: grenades, tube charges and separated them out for each person as per their expertise. Verenth, Jelket and a servitor took the ammunition, counted it and recorded the numbers. Delathasi, Adelana and three servitors sorted the survival equipment: nutrient packs, water, liquid recyclers, re-breathers, glare-masks, portable solar re-chargers and various things.

When Attelus wasn't training with Raloth and Adelana he was researching the information that'd been uploaded into the guncutter's cogitator. Then with Darrance, Helma and Karmen went over his plans. This was all theoretical and subject to change once they reached orbit.

Attelus had planned much himself and was getting a final critique. It was a test he had set himself and he'd passed, almost. There was a misunderstanding over the angle for the guncutter's landing so they had to adjust the landing three hundred and sixty five metres east of the initial spot. Darrance had taken no small joy in pointing that out. Attelus also hadn't taken into count how they'd be slowed by Torris and his heavy weapon, once they were forced to move on foot, as pointed out by Helma. As well, Attelus had planned for Karmen to stay in the guncutter, in orbit with Darrance and Vark. But Karmen argued she wouldn't be able to unleash her full power and could be easier detected and blocked by any enemy psykers. Not just that she would be slower to react due to the range. It might have worked for their usual infiltration or undercover operations but in a warzone, not so much. Also, it was damned obvious Attelus just wanted Vark out of his hair.

Otherwise, the plan was sound.

It was an hour before they were due to leave when Attelus called everyone into the cargo bay. They didn't have to wait long for Raloth and the eldar they'd talked to over the last two weeks to arrive. Adelana was wearing her robes and gave Coulyte an enthusiastic wave who smiled and waved back.

Following them was Klrith, who still wore his helmet, arms folded. Attelus couldn't help be surprised to see him there.

"Well, this is it," said Raloth. "I have organised an outcast vessel which will be arriving in the system in three weeks to retrieve you."

There were a few frowns, but no verbal complaint.

"I'm assuming the warpstorm hasn't a baited?" said Attelus.

Raloth shook his head, "you are correct in that assumption, but I am afraid the news gets worse, Klrith?"

The warlock stepped forward, his impassive gaze wandering over each human in turn.

"We have been trying to look upon the world since we have arrived," said Klrith. "We cannot, there is a fog surrounding it which hides it from us."

"Like a fog of psychic energy?" said Adelana, illiciting a glare from the warlock.

"No," said Klrith. "It is anti-psychic, not psychic."

Attelus furrowed his brow and pursed his lips in confusion as hushed conversation began but it was silenced when Attelus raised his hand.

"It has the stench of the god of blood and slaughter strong upon it," said Klrith. "Khorne has infected the planet like a virus. This Sarkeath is not what it once was."

There was a weighted silence, as they struggled to take this in.

"Will I be able to use by power on the surface?" said Karmen.

"We think so," said Klrith. "But you will be severely limited I..."

He trailed off, "I must implore you to turn back, you will find no answers upon it's surface. You will find nothing but madness and corruption and death. That I assure you."

Attelus raised an eyebrow, surprised that Klrith would care.

"We've come to far to turn back now," said Torris.

"I thought that you would say that," said Klrith, then he took off his helmet.

To Attelus' shock Klrith's face was no longer a mass of scars and burned tissue. It was sharp, handsome even more so than Raloth. Restored.

"I have learned recently that some scars must be put behind or else it will consume you," said Klrith. "I see that most of you have been scarred by your defeat three years ago. It is driving you and if you go down there, it will consume you. Destroy you."

"We must try," said Verenth. "We have the God-Emperor on our side and He will help us. We must try!"

Klrith smiled sadly.

"Screw the God-Emperor!" snapped Darrance. "We will get through this by our own strength, our own will. You underestimate us!"

"Perhaps I do," conceded Klrith. "We have seemed to have underestimated you at every turn thus far. So maybe, I am wrong yet again. I wish all of you luck and may your faith in the god-emperor or your own willpower protect you on the coming days."

With that, he turned and left.

There was a long sombre silence that followed.

It was Halsin who broke it.

"We will get through this, there is too much riding on us. We have to."

Raloth nodded and soon the eldar and humans gathered to say their farewells.

"I am proud of you, Attelus" said Raloth. "You have made much progress in so short a time."

Attelus frowned and shrugged, "I wish there was more time. I still have a lot to learn."

"As I have said, there is always more to learn," said Raloth. "I have lived for a thousand of your years and even still, I know so little. Never has this been made so abundantly clear since the past two weeks. I wish you luck and hope we will meet again one day."

With that they shook hands.

As the eldar were leaving, Raloth paused and turned back.

"If you wish it, Attelus," he said. "I could have one of my healers heal your scar."

Attelus absently touched it.

"No, thank you, but no," Attelus said. "This scar is there to remind me of what selfishness and cowardice can lead to. I will keep this, I must."

Raloth nodded and left.

For a few seconds they stood in silence until Attelus clapped his hands.

"Alright! We've still got a crap ton to do people! Let's get on with it!"

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:59 pm

When they'd seen it out the cockpit window, they thought it some sort of mass mirage. That their eyes, or worse, their minds were playing a trick on them. It was Attelus who said that it couldn't be either (yes, he was aware of the irony) that seeing was believing.

The sand, it was blood.

As far as the eye could see, the sand had transformed into a deep crimson which reflected the sun light almost to blinding degree. The sun hung in an eerily beautiful, clear blue sky. That was the most unsettling, the contrast of the brilliant blue and the blood red, it frayed their nerves, made their minds reel at the impossibility.

When Attelus had said it was real, he was only saying what everyone knew. It was blood, the blood of billions, no trillions.

When Attelus had seen it. It'd almost driven him over the edge. But he hid his fear, his recognition. He'd forgotten the disturbing vision Faleaseen had shown him three years ago, of a ruined city bathed in sands of blood and a blue sky. It'd rushed all back. It was sheer willpower that prevented him falling into a panic attack.

All of them knew, no matter how much they didn't want to accept it, that the entire planet was made of blood sands.

No one was willing to leave the ship, least of all Attelus. Despite this, he was the first to step upon the blood sands.

His breathing into his re-breather was almost deafening. When his boot had landed he'd expected it would be wet, it wasn't, it felt normal. That just made it more disturbing.

Attelus could feel the eyes on his back of the others watching him from the cargo bay.

"How does it feel?" Karmen's voice erupted over the vox, almost making Attelus jump out of his skin.

"Like, sand, normal sand," Attelus said as he stomped his foot trying to make it look comical. "There's nothing wrong here!"

Karmen didn't reply and Attelus turned back to them. Everyone including Darrance were there and in full gear. Syn skin bodygloves and cameleoline cloaks. Their faces were hidden behind re-breathers and inbuilt glarevisors. Only Karmen stood out in her form fitting gold and white power armour.

No one wanted to breath the air of Sarkeath but their re-breathers were recently invented by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Instead of working like normal re-breathers, with the cannisters having to be replaced after a few hours, they recycled carbon dioxide into oxygen, they could be continuously used for two weeks before the filters needed replacing, more if used sparingly.

The only thing that set them apart were their builds, what weapons they wielded and their initials painted on their mask's foreheads. Attelus wore his trademark black flak jacket so stood out, he had to, as the leader he needed to be easily identifiable.

That meant easily identifiable to the enemy, of course but Attelus didn't mind this. He, unlike his allies, was immortal.

"Poor choice of words," said Adelana, as she shuffled her foot. "Something is very wrong here."

Attelus frowned. Now that was the understatement of the millennia, he wanted to say, but kept his mouth shut.

It wasn't long before everyone followed Attelus' lead and first stepped on Sarkeath's surface. For a few minutes they awkwardly wandered around the ship.

It was Halsin who broke the silence.

"Maybe, maybe we'll acclimatise to it," stammered the medicae.

"And that, is exactly what I'm afraid of," said Vark.

Attelus frowned, he couldn't help agree with the Storm Trooper.

"That eldar was right, wasn't he?" said Jelket. "We're going to die or lose our minds, aren't we?"

"Or both," said Helma.

Helma's words sent a sudden wave of anger and determination through Attelus. It quashing his fear and trepidation like a boot crushing an ant.

"No, we're not," said Attelus as he turned and started back to the guncutter. "We've got a mission we're going to complete and nothing will stop us! We're throne agents! The elite of the elite! Not daemons, not blood sands or even Khorne himself can stand in our way! We've wasted enough time. Now move!"

Attelus' determination seemed infectious as the others were knocked from their stupor and started moving. Only Adelana stayed still, her expressionless attention fixed on him.

"What are you staring at me for?" Attelus said.

Adelana said nothing. She flinched and fell in step with him.

Time to get this over and damn well done with, thought Attelus.

Jelket sat strapped in his seat, fighting the bile rising in his throat and the sickness welling in his guts as the all terrain vehicle bounded across the blood dunes.

'The blood dunes,' a term coined by Verenth. 'Blood sands,' 'blood dunes' Jelket wasn't sure what term was worse. Verenth sat across from Jelket his head bounding about and silent. Silence seemed to dominate everything. Trepidation and was thick in the air despite them wearing re-breathers.

Jelket gazed past Verenth, out the small window behind him. He saw one of the bikers, driving beside them although he couldn't make out who. The bike disturbingly kicked up red dust in it's wake.

Attelus, Adelana, Hayden, Delathasi and Helma rode them. While Vark drove the ATV and Torris was at the pintle mounted storm bolter. Karmen sat in her trance, her face couldn't be seen, but every so often she would twitch and writhe. Obvious even in her power armour.

Jelket frowned. He'd worked with Karmen many times and on countless occasions she'd leave her body but he'd never seen her so stressed and strained before.

He'd grown fond of Karmen, despite her ability and her penchant for extreme pragmatism. Jelket hoped this mission wouldn't cost her.

At times like this Jelket missed the good old days, under Taryst's employ. Back when all he had to was patrol corridors and practise at the rifle range. His thoughts wandered back, back to his old squad. All of them had died along with Omnartus, although none he'd seen die first hand. Jelket smiled and looked down at his prosthetic hand as he opened and closed it repeatedly. He'd lost his arm and lost consciousness a split second before his sergeant and best friend, Roldar had lost his head. Jelket closed his eyes and exhaled heavily out his nose. He supposed he was lucky. Lucky it was him and Roldar who had carried Attelus back instead of another. Lucky that his arm had been exploded instead of his skull. Jelket frowned and looked out the window, at the outrider who he thought might be Attelus. Or was he? Roldar had been ranting and raving at Attelus for keeping secrets but now Jelket knew, he wasn't sure if he wanted too. Despite his search for truth in other fields. Maybe Roldar was the lucky one. He'd died a quick, honourable death. A death not many soldiers of the Imperium would.

Jelket had left the guard because he couldn't handle the constant battles and death, yet here he was, at it again. The others could go on about having purpose and all that crap but Jelket was here because he had to be. He wasn't inhumanly skilled and fast like Attelus or as vastly talented like Hayden Tresch. He was a damn good shot, but in essence he was just normal, a know nothing ex-guardsman who lived in the shadows of the best of the best.

At least he wasn't responsible for the death of an entire world.

Karmen suddenly jolted upright in her seat, causing Jelket to flinch back into reality.

The vox crackled awake.

"Attelus!" Karmen said. "I have finished my sweep of Kelitia."

Kelitia was Sarkeath's capital city and main hub. Containing it's largest spaceport and the head base for it's administratum. That naturally made it their first target to investigate.

"Yes, go ahead," Attelus said.

"I..." Karmen paused. "I could not go far...I..."

"It's okay, Karmen," said Attelus. "We understand-"

"No you don't. It is like the world itself resists me. The air is like sand paper, constantly scratching on my ethereal form and something just keeps trying to pull me into my body. I have never experienced it before. Every second I'm out is painful."

"I'm sorry, Karmen. Did you find anything?"

Karmen sighed. "Honestly, no, Attelus. I could only see as far as the outskirts, there were no life signs. Nothing. But the entire city is in complete ruination."

"Like it was bombed?" said Halsin.

"No, that is where it gets strange. I have seen cities destroyed by bombardment. But the ruins of Kelitia seem different-"

"What do you mean, different?" growled Vark.

"They...I am no expert on these things but it seems that it crumbling. It seems to have aged for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years. It's like nothing I have ever seen."

There was a long, weighted pause.

"This is just getting weirder and weirder," said Halsin.

"Now that an under..."

Attelus wandered off in one of his catch phrases.

"Halt!" he cried. "Everyone stop! Now!"

Instantly Vark stopped the ATV

"What? What's wrong?" demanded Karmen, her voice shrill.

"Figures at our twelve o'clock," said Attelus.

"I never saw anyone!" said Karmen.

"Karmen, please calm down," said Attelus. "We know your abilities are being repressed, don't beat yourself up."

"Have they spotted us?" said Verenth.

"No the Emperor!" Attelus breathed.

"What's wrong, now?" said Vark.

"Don't worry, they're enemy, I don't doubt it. Fifty or sixty, about a kilometre away" said Attelus. "Delathasi, Adelana, Verenth with me on point. Hayden, cover us. The rest of you guard the ATV. We're going to-"

"I want to go," said Jelket on a whim.

Attelus sighed. "Jelket we're just scouting and-"

"Please, boss."

Attelus sighed again. "All right, if you must. Just hurry it up! They might see us soon!"

As the others threw the cameleoline tarpaulin over the ATV and took up their positions. Attelus, Adelana, Delathasi, Hayden and Jelket advanced. Hunched and silent, invisible beneath their cameleoline cloaks. Jelket could barely keep up and didn't feel invisible. He was sweating despite having his bodyglove's fans on full power.

Jelket had yet to see these enemies. Soon after Attelus had reported their presence they descended into the bottom of a dune.

Attelus had described them as 'Khornate cultists.' Jelket had fought their kind many times during his years in the guard. But despite this, when they converged on the dune's peek, lain prone and Jelket watched them through his scope. Jelket reeled at the sight and barely contained a gasp, understanding why Attelus had cursed earlier.

Never had Jelket seen such brutish freaks. Their skin brown and bronzed from the sun they were covered in rough scars, scars that almost seemed to cover every inch of their freakishly bulging musculatures. Many scars were carved into patterns and sigils that made Jelket's stomach turn. Sigils announcing their allegiance to their horrific god.

They didn't wear armour, just robes. Robes which were once white but now stained all over with blood. It differentiated from cultist to cultist how stained the robes were. It was obvious that those with less staining, stormed at the back of the large, unruly mob. They were unhealthy, their eyes blood shot and psychotic. The weapons they carried varied as well, many had chainswords or long bayonet swords or massive two handed axes. The ones with less bloodied robes carried auto guns or las guns, all in terrible condition.

All of this Jelket had expected what caught him off guard was their teeth. To a man, if they could be called 'men' any more, their teeth were sharpened into jagged, disgusting, brown incisors. Like the teeth of feral predatory animals.

"By the Emperor," Jelket breathed.

They were moving quickly, almost with purpose. Kelitia was still fifty kilometres away, if they'd came from there they must've been walking for a while. Did the enemy know of their presence, already? Send out this party to intercept them?

Jelket doubted it, but as Attelus would say 'there's no such thing as coincidence.' And it seemed like one hell of a coincidence that this cultist mob just happened to be heading their way at this time.

Jelket's microbead beeped.

"Fall back," said Attelus. "I'd like to ambush them here but it'll only be a few minutes before they're here. So we'll fall back, fifty metres. Adelana, myself, Helma and Torris will set up twenty five metres north. Delathasi, Jelket, Vark, Verenth and Hayden twenty five metres south. Karmen, Halsin reveal the ATV. Draw them in with the pintle mount, we'll hit them from the flanks. Throw frag grenades, then catch them in a cross fire. Any questions?"

There was a chorus of confirmations.

"There's frigging seventy of the bastards!" said Jelket.

"We can do this, Jelket! Fall back, now! We haven't much time!

Jelket barely kept back a curse and did as ordered. Was Attelus losing his mind, or lost it already?

"Take any survivors for interrogation?" said Adelana.

Attelus barked a laugh. "Adelana, we've got more chance interrogating intel from a rockcrete wall than getting anything from these zealots. Kill them all!"

Attelus hated waiting but as much as he hated it, over time, he'd learned to cope with it. Well 'cope' was a strong word, in all honesty. A long time a go he'd decided he didn't have what it takes to be a soldier. Waiting, standing still was a large part in soldiering. Ironically here he was commanding an infiltration squad into a warzone, a job that would usually be the realm of soldiers.

"Hostiles sited," said Halsin over the vox in his almost enviously cool, calm manner. "Opening fire."

The heavy chatter sound of storm bolter fire erupted.

There was a psychotic, blood curdling roar that shook Attelus to his core and he had to fight the urge cover his ears and writhe.

Perhaps he'd over stepped the mark, perhaps Jelket was right.

Attelus repressed the thought, if the others thought the same they'd have said so.

"Seventy metres," announced Halsin.

"Prep grenades," Attelus hissed into his link as he pulled the pin of his, applying pressure on the stub.

"Sixty metres."

Attelus clenched his teeth and gripped the handle his auto pistol harder. He wanted to check the clip of dumm dumm rounds for the hundredth time but fought the urge, even the slightest movement could give him away. They might be blood crazed khornate cultists but he wasn't going to underestimate them.

"Fifty five."

The scarred bare feet came into view, stampeding past so hard it seemed to shake the very world.

He waited for as many pares as he dared before giving the order.

"Grenades! Now!" Attelus snarled and threw his.

The explosions ripped through the horde, sending many screaming and sprawling in every possible direction.

"Open fire!" Attelus snarled, throwing off his cloak, his silenced auto pistol spitting sending reeling a reeling cultist writing off his feet.

The others opened up a second after, Adelana's booming bolter fired a metre from Attelus' left. Attelus saw half a stunned cultist's torso explode into a red haze. Another cultist's head was vaporised as he raised his las gun to fire, Hayden's work. Helma's hell gun blurted flurries, slicing through cultists with almost innate accuracy. Torris's shot gun barked, over and over. Erupting messy holes through the cultist's ranks.

Attelus cut down cultists left and right. There was no cover so he and the others focused their fire on the enemies with ranged weapons. His dumm dumm rounds were hollow point, designed to expand on impact against soft tissue. Low on penetration, but high on stopping power. Unlike the others he didn't wield a rifle, this due to his close range specialisation and desire to travel light.

About forty of the enemy lay dead or dying in the initial few seconds of combat. But despite this the cultists gathered themselves with impressive speed and charged. Six came at Attelus, screaming out their devotion and rage. They were even more terrifying up close, their savagery breath taking in it's intensity. Spit flew from their razor sharp, brown maws. Their blood shot eyes wide and chainswords and blades raised with unskilled wild abandon.

Attelus knew their horrific appearance and psychotic way wasn't just for their god. It was calculated. Used to inspire fear and demoralise their enemy. He fought the fear thundering through him, hiding it under a cool, calm exterior.

He killed two with the last three rounds in his clip, blowing out the back of the firsts skull then put two through the second's chest. Even with his quick hands Attelus didn't have time to reload, so dropped his pistol and drew his powersword, activating it's edge in a blaze of blue.

The third cultist was on him, swinging his whirring chainsword at Attelus' skull. With ease, Attelus ducked and disembowelled him with a horizontal slice.

The fourth cut down wildly. Attelus slid out the way then beside the cultist and slashed through the cultist's ribs and heart.

The fifth and sixth came at him almost at once. One thrust his long blade at Attelus' guts, the other chopped around his chainsword. They were quick, deceptively skilled but to Attelus they seemed to move in slow motion. Their attacks ridiculously telegraphed. Attelus darted aside of the long blade and his powerblade decapitated the cultist. The one with the chainsword was still in mid swing as Attelus lunged and plunged the tip of his sword through the side of his chest.

He pulled out his sword and glanced about. Only a few cultists were left. Adelana, with her mono molecular sword engaged one. Adelana was struggling. Losing. This while Delathasi was fighting three at once, another two lay dead near her. Delathasi was skill was impressive as she dodged and weaved and parried. But she wouldn't last much longer.

Attelus didn't hesitate. In a split second he crossed the distance and cut down Adelana's cultist as he was preparing the final blow.

The gasping Adelana nodded her thanks and Attelus nodded back, before charging at one of Delathasi's enemies and severed his spine with a slash. Another turned to this new enemy but it opened him up for Delathasi to open his throat with one of her mono blades. She weaved beneath the third cultist's chainsword then half his torso exploded, sending his limp corpse smashing to the sand. Attelus turned and saw Adelana knelt, her bolter raised and smoking. She gave him another nod.

The fight lasted a few seconds more, as the last seven cultists were cut down by Jelket, Verenth, Helma and Hayden in a vicious cross fire.

Attelus forced his breathing to slow, adrenaline pumped through him painfully. Blood sprayed over him.

Delathasi approached. "Is that it?" she said.

Attelus nodded dumbly and with a shaking hand he looked around. No one was down, no one had suffered an injury.

Attelus knew they could've avoided the cultist mob, he knew it was a huge risk. This engagement It'd used precious munitions they may need later. But they needed this. They needed a morale boost.

That was why he'd risked this, that's why he'd risked everything.

He just thanked his luck that it worked.

Attelus activated his vox link.

"Everyone, regroup!" he ordered.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:22 pm

Hayden Tresch paused as he stood and started to approach the others. He looked east, furrowed his brow then descended the hill with Jelket, Verenth and Vark.

Attelus was finishing the injured enemies with Delathasi and Adelana as Hayden approached.

"We are being watched," said Hayden.

"What?" said Attelus, as he tore out his sword from a cultist's heart and turned to Hayden. Eyebrow raised.

"Two kilometres east," said Hayden. "Movement."

Attelus nodded, "enemy?"

Hayden shrugged. "Maybe? The Velrosian 1st have reconnaissance specialists, right? Their elite. It could be them. Maybe following the cultists?"

"Hmm makes sense. You saw them a while ago, didn't you?"

Hayden frowned, "I saw something following their mob. Wasn't sure it meant anything."

"Nice work," said Attelus.

"I can't believe it!" said Jelket. "Seventy of the bastards!"

"Well, seeing is believing," said Adelana.

"Or kicking is believing," said Vark, as he kicked one of the corpses. "Heretic scum!"

Adelana looked at Attelus.

"You don't think that these cultists just so having to come this way is a coincidence, do you?"

Before Attelus could answer. Jelket stepped forward.

"Of course it isn't! Somehow they know we're here!"

Attelus stroked the chin of his mask. "Perhaps. Perhaps someone could've seen us land, somehow. Or Darrance taking off."

"It was their blasphemous god," said Jelket. "It told them. Kelitia is still fifty kilometres away! They must've been walking for ages! They must've known where we'd be before we even arrived!"

Attelus shrugged and frowned, looking like he wanted to argue, but Jelket's logic seemed sound.

While they talked, Hayden kept glancing at the source of the movement. He saw nothing more. He could only assume that movement was them turning back to fall back. If they were still moving there was no sign. They were good, very good.

Attelus had briefed them on the Velrosian 1st and the rest of the Elbyran contingent. The young assassin master's description had been glowing, full of pride. Hayden had thought, due to his bias, Attelus had exaggerated their abilities. That he'd been fooled by the propaganda, but now Hayden was re-evaluating that assessment.

If Attelus found out Hayden even considered that, he would explode.

"Or maybe the psyker gave us away?" Vark.

"The 'psyker' could be the reason," said Karmen her voice hard as she approached, her power armour boots sinking into the sand. "It's always 'the psyker,' isn't it? But we don't have all day to stand around making guesses. We've better start moving."

"Agreed," said Attelus as they turned back to the ATV and the bikes still hidden beneath their cameleoline tarpaulins. "Although I beg to differ, we do have all day. Sarkeathan days last forty eight hours."

Hayden glanced over his shoulder again, across the rolling blood dunes. He just hoped they were this famous Velrosian 1st. But even if it was, it didn't mean they were the same Velrosian 1st Attelus once knew.

Hayden looked around. With the world turned into this hell, he doubted it.

There was an old saying, 'never meet your heroes.' A saying Hayden was afraid will soon be proven true.

It was only a few minutes later before they were moving again. Attelus' bike bounced and bounded over the dunes. He smiled behind his re-breather as his listened to the comm chatter of his squad mates. His gamble had paid off, spirits were high. Jelket was awestruck at their achievement, Vark was enamoured that they'd killed the 'heretics,' Helma was in a state of grim determination, unsurprised and unmoved by their achievement but her usual state of negative snarking had almost disappeared. Halsin passive-aggressively bragged about being the one with the biggest kill count so far and how successful his distraction was. Verenth was his typical 'man of few words' self but what he contributed to the conversation was positive, he too seemed to enjoy 'slaughtering heretics.'

All of this Attelus had predicted would happen what he hadn't predicted was when they'd stopped and searched where Hayden had seen the movement that there was nothing. No foot steps in the sand no trace of prone figures. Attelus trusted Hayden's senses, perhaps even over his own, if he saw movement he saw movement there was movement. Attelus smile fell into a frown. As much as he admired them, the scouts of the Velrosian 1st weren't that good. Amongst his many talents Hayden was also supremely skilled tracker. Attelus too held some skill in tracking and no matter how hard he tried, he also found nothing. Karmen also didn't sense any trace of life.

Attelus sighed. But in all honesty, she wasn't all that reliable, now. The only one who hadn't perked up was her.

He activated her private vox line and it took a few seconds for her to answer.

"Are you all right?" he said.

"No, do I seem all right to you?"

Attelus didn't answer.

Karmen sighed. "I'm sorry, Attelus. I didn't mean to jump down your throat like that."

"Karmen...Estella. I've never seen you like this before-"

"Yes you have."

Attelus' gaped. Yes he had.

"You know you aren't useless, you don't have to prove anything, to anyone."

"Attelus! I can barely use even the most basic psychic techniques! I am useless."

"Remember, nine years ago, when we first met and how well you did? You killed how many of the elite Blood Pact single handed? You didn't need your powers back then-"

"Since then I've specialised in my gift! I'm no way near the shot or swordswoman I was then!"

"Even if that's true, you'd still be better than most!"

"Stop grox shitting me! You're just trying to make me feel better, Attelus. You're just afraid I'll become a liability."

"I'm not grox shitting you, Estella! You've still got your armour and weapon you can still fight!"

"Yes but you forget this is a stealth mission! I've lost most of my skill at stealth and power armour isn't the best to wear and-"

Rage welled in Attelus and he fought the urge to cut the link.

"Well, Karmen! Will you become a liability? Because the way you talk now it certainly makes me think that way. Of all the people in the squad I would've thought you the least likely! Vark, Torris, Verenth but not you."

Karmen sighed. "I think I already am."

"No you're not! Estella! If you let this negativity get the better of you, you will!"

She laughed.

"This is familiar, isn't it? Back when you begged me not to scout the enemy base knowing in my pride and effort to prove myself I'd get myself killed. Whoever said that history never repeats is beyond stupid. But now you aren't begging me, you're pretty much ordering me. Back when you loved me."

Attelus bit his lip, fighting the urge to splutter out, 'but that hasn't changed.' He loved both Estella Erith and Adelana. He'd hoped his feelings for Karmen would've withered over the years, but it hadn't and he suspected they never would. Despite all she's done, despite how she tried to brainwash him.

It was messed up.


"Stop calling me that! Please!"

"Karmen, don't give in to depression. We need you...I need you, please."

"I'll...I'll try," she said, then cut the link.

Attelus sighed. Why did everything have to be so damned complicated? Why couldn't they be Space Marines? The warriors of the Adeptus Astartes never fell in love, never felt attraction for another. They just had duty and brotherly bonds. Or as far as he knew, anyway.

He revved his bike and sped up, shaking away the thought. He couldn't help wonder if Jelket was right. There was no way in hell that those cultists showing up then was a coincidence but he doubted their god had a hand in it. Attelus suspected Etuarq. He also doubted the movement Hayden had seen were the Velrosian scouts.

It was Etuarq's agents.

Attelus remembered his encounter with Rodyille three years ago. How the psychotic bastard seemed to be able to just mould into the shadows. That he'd almost killed Attelus if his faint movement hadn't caught the corner of his eye.

They had to be here, they had to have contributed to this.

And if that was true, perhaps that'd mean he'd finally see Elandria again.

The thought caused Attelus to clench his jaw and he sped his bike more.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:48 pm

About twenty kilometres away they got their first view of Kelitia as it loomed in the horizon ominously. It was set lower than the surrounding dunes so only the tallest buildings were visible.

With Karmen's power practically out of commission. Attelus was forced to re-evaluate their approach. Needless to say Karmen wasn't happy about this and while he hid it, Attelus was far from happy either. Her being so handicapped was turning into a huge pain in the arse, now they had to waste valuable time.

Four kilometres from Kelitia they stopped inside the shadows of a small outcrop and hid the vehicles underneath their cameleoline tarpaulins. Then Hayden, Attelus, Adelana and Delathasi scouted forward on foot.

They were walking for about half a kilometre when they got their first proper view of Kelitia and there they stopped. From the apex of the man made ledge hill which sloped down down for two kilometre. Attelus couldn't see the expressions of his comrades beneath their masks but he imagined them gaping, just like him.

Kelitia was once a huge, bustling city. About forty million people had lived in it's depths, mostly miners who'd toiled underground, night and day. Sarkeath was once the biggest exporter of minerals in the sub-sector and had been for nigh five hundred years. According to reports the planet wouldn't last another century before being mined out.

But now that was the least of the planet's problems. Karmen was right, the grey ruins of Kelitia were hollowed out, crumbling apart. Attelus had seen first hand the destruction wrought by bombardment. His home city, Varander had been flattened from orbit when he was a teenager. Flattened to such an extent that only a few walls were left standing.

Not just that but Kelitia was drowned in blood sands, Attelus calculated the lower five stories were utterly engulfed, just like in Faleaseen's vision.

"This is going to be hell," said Adelana, as the vox came to life, causing Attelus to flinch. "What in the Emperor's name happened here?"

"Your guess is as good as mine," said Attelus, trying to sound optimistic. "And that's one of the reasons we're here, to find out."

"I think I would rather stay ignorant," said Delathasi. "Adelana is correct. This place is hell."

Attelus frowned and started on, "no it's not, hell is the warp. The sea of souls, we're still on the material plain. Now, we've gotta move! We can't waste any more time! We've still got to scout out a safe place to make base. Move it!"

The others hesitantly followed and Hayden said, "we're in the material plain, as far as you know."

Attelus clenched his jaw. "Shut it, Hayden. You're starting to sound like Darrance."

"Just saying what we're all thinking," said Hayden with a shrug.

"Speak for yourself!" said Adelana. "Never for a second did I think we're in the warp!"

"Thank you, Adelana," said Attelus.

"No," she said. "I think we are some where even worse."

Night was falling as they approached the ruined city and more than she could ever care admit, Adelana was relieved. Relieved that there was still a day and night cycle on this Emperor forsaken planet. That at least some of the laws of the physical universe still applied here.

But when they found the sand that had taken over Sarkeath sloped up almost fifty five degrees, Attelus' curses echoed over the vox link. Their All Terrain Vehicle couldn't ascend a such steep incline even with the hook shot on it's nose. Especially because the sand here was softer.

So they started north, in the hope to find a lighter incline. Hayden had suggested they split up him and Delathasi, south Attelus and Adelana north. But Attelus shot him down, saying they'd be safer if they stuck together, that they didn't know what they might encounter.

Adelana would usually dismiss this as Attelus' atypical paranoia. But here, here it was wisdom. As they walked, Adelana's attention was fixated on the city, so much so she'd almost tripped a few times. For some reason, the east facing side of every building was devoid of exterior walls. Allowing Adelana a good view into the cracked and hollowed out rooms and corridors, almost like a hololithic schemata. Inside them, were scattered remains of tables, chairs, beds in varying states of decay and disrepair. And shadows which revealed nothing no matter how hard or long Adelana looked into them, even with her low light contacts activated, but something in her was dead sure there was something in them. Watching them through the still night.

Still, everything was so still. Like it'd been locked in time.

The thought sent a shiver up Adelana's spine and she wondered if the others had noticed this.

Adelana hoped they hadn't and she swore she would never mention it.

Although, knowing Attelus he already noticed.

It was after half an hour of walking, when they found an incline shallow enough for the ATV to ascend. Attelus voxed this back to the others and hesitantly they climbed. At the top was an old hab block, sixteen stories high, one of the tallest around.

Attelus looked at Hayden who nodded.

"Secure it!" Attelus said as he vaulted onto the fire escape as quick as a cat, never making a sound despite it being metal.

"Split up?" said Delathasi.

Attelus turned to her, his expression hidden behind his re-breather but his hesitation, obvious.

"Okay," he said as he drew his power sword. "Adelana with me! Hayden, Delathasi search the north side! Search from the top floor!"

Delathasi and Hayden nodded and started off.

Adelana climbed onto the deck as Attelus cut through the lock.

"Are you sure we should split?" she said. "You were adamant not to before."

"I don't want to, Adelana," he said, drawing his silenced auto pistol and carefully he opened the door. "But we can't waste time."

He slipped inside and Adelana just after, bolter raised. She covering the left, Attelus covered right.

They came into a thin corridor and Adelana saw the corridor carried through to the destroyed eastern wall and onto the blood dunes below. It turned right at the epicentre leading to Adelana where guessed the doors to the hab unit doors were.

"Right's clear," whispered Attelus. "Corridor goes no where."

Adelana nodded and in silence, they moved, Adelana taking point. It took a few seconds to reach the T junction and Adelana slipped out. The corridor was long, a dozen doors on each side, cramped close together. Reminded Adelana of her old hab block back on Omnartus. It stunk of rot and every inch was cracked and damaged. It ended in another T junction. There were three elevators there but Adelana couldn't see any further left or right but she suspected there would be the stairs. The building seemed cut in half, the elevators and stairs in the centre. Adelana sighed. This was going to take a while.

"Come on," said Attelus. "Let's get this over and damn well done with."

Methodically, they checked the building, room by room. Each unit were single roomed about three by four metres, containing wrecked furniture and very basic bathrooms and kitchens.

Three of them looked like they had housed families of at least four. Toys laid, scattered and shattered across the floor. It was a painful sight. Why had these people abandoned their homes? And when? In contrast to the decaying buildings everything else seemed new, only a few months of rot and disrepair if that.

But what disturbed Adelana the most was the dark shade of red seemed etched into everything: the walls, the carpet every bit of scattered and shattered furniture. Even the rooms which weren't open to the outside.

Attelus once picked up a worn, cracked doll and Adelana expected sand to fall off it but it didn't in fact there was a disturbing lack of sand.

How the hell could the blood sands over take the bottom five stories but not touch the upper levels?

The fear Attelus exuded seemed almost palpable. His pistol searched every nook and cranny and unnaturally dark shadow with overzealous abandon After working with him for three years, Adelana could read him like a data slate. Ironically, it was his teaching that enabled her to. Attelus was always afraid, always paranoid but now it was worse than ever. He could hide from the others under a visage of leadership and purpose. Adelana couldn't help admire that, but she couldn't help wonder, how close was he to snapping?

It didn't take them long to search the floor and move up the staircase to the next. They both almost leapt out of their skin when Hayden called to inform that the top floor was clear and they were starting on the next.

It took them a good half an hour to check every room on every floor. The tension killed Adelana, it was to such an extent she wished they'd find something, anything! A survivor or even a cultist waiting in hiding, but her wish went unanswered.

When they eventually met with Delathasi and Hayden, everyone was shaken.

"I do not understand what happened her," said Delathasi. "Why are the buildings in such a weathered state but everything else is not?"

"We will have to forget such thoughts," said Hayden. "If we focus on that...our sanity..."

He let it hang.

"Hayden's right," said Attelus. "We need to stay focused, Hayden, Adelana get up to the top floor and keep a look out. Delathasi and I will check outside for a good place to hide the ATV."

Adelana decided not to point out the hypocrisy of Attelus telling others they 'need to stay focused' and she and Hayden started up the stairs.

Hayden was characteristically silent up the first few flights but Adelana tuned her link to his private channel. She couldn't stand the silence for much longer.

"W-what do you make of this?" she said when he finally accepted the call.

"That it's going to get worse," he said. "That I wish there was something, anything I can get in my cross hairs."

"Couldn't agree more," said Adelana. They were walking up the east side stairs so the blood dunes below were easy to see. If she was afraid at all of heights Adelana would be freaking out now.

"Hmf," said Hayden.

"What does 'hmf,' mean?"

"I'm just surprised that you would wish for violence, Adelana. You do not seem the type."

"I don't. I just wish for this...this.…to end."

"I am a sniper, Adelana. Waiting is something that comes with the job, so if I am impatient it is understandable you are too, but..."

"But what?"

"Nothing, do not worry. I-"

Hayden stopped in his sentence as Adelana stopped in her tracks, staring east.

"Something wrong?" said Hayden.

"I...I thought I saw someone, something standing out there," said Adelana, pointing. "It's gone, now. Looked like someone in black."

"I saw something after we ambushed the cultists," said Hayden. "Someone's watching us."

"Who?" said Adelana as they began up the stairs again.

Hayden shrugged his broad shoulders, he was ahead of her and Adelana wished he wasn't wearing a cameleoline cloak so she could look at his butt.

"This legendary, amazing Velrosian 1st, maybe? I am not making assumptions."

"Hayden? What were you saying before?" said Adelana.

Hayden sighed, "I was hoping you would let that slide."

Adelana snorted, "I'm a girl, Hayden. It also sounded important."

"I beg to differ, Adelana. You are a woman. A strong, independent young woman. You maybe Attelus' 'apprentice' in title but you are his equal in many regards-"

"Do not try to flatter me to try dodge the question. You maybe a 'jack of all trades and a master of a few too.' But your social skills are lacking."

Hayden let out a rare laugh. "I tried, I guess. And there you just empathising 'my flattery.' All right, I was saying that when you agreed with me about hoping to encounter enemies, you sounded a bit too eager for my liking. Like him."

"Like Attelus?"


Adelana sighed. "He does have a blood thirsty side, but I am not like him."

"Adelana, all that I am saying-"

"I am not like him! Now leave it!"

"Just please be careful, Adelana."

"Yes! Sure! Whatever! Now hurry it up! We've wasted enough time already!"

The second Attelus slipped off the balcony and back upon the blood sands he knew something wasn't right.

"Delathasi!" he hissed as she landed a second after. "Do you feel that?"

"Feel what, master Kaltos?"

Attelus didn't answer he started forward, glancing around, sword raised.

Then the sand beneath his feet disappeared and with a yell, he fell. It happened so fast he never heard Delathasi.

For what felt like an eternity he rolled and bounced and tumbled and hurled down a sharp, rough slope.

He came to and groggily found himself laying on the flat and took in his surroundings.

Attelus gasped. He was in a lower level of the city, the buildings towered over him. Piercing the sky. He was near the centre there city descended into the earth but the buildings rose higher and higher. He recalled the highest was over one hundred stories high. He must've fell twenty kilometres westward, but that wasn't possible!

Attellus clambered to his feet, shaking away the dizziness and disorientation it then he realised he no longer held his sword.

"What the hell?" he gasped.

"Hello," said a voice and Attelus turned.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:42 am

There was nothing there and Attelus faltered. There was no sign of the hill he'd fallen down, just flat sand and buildings.

"What the? How?"

"I brought you here," said the voice. It was like nothing he'd ever heard, it seemed to snarl each syllable but still soft, almost soothing. But what was strange it didn't echo through his thoughts but seemed to reverberate from every surface, every wall, every floor. Like the world itself was speaking.

"Why? What are you?" he demanded, his heart thundered in his ears and he felt the urge of panic.

"I wished to speak to you, you are not like the others. In fact I have not seen anyone like you for many millennia."

"What? A perpetual?" Attelus blurted out and winced as he realised.

"Indeed. Ten thousand years ago one like you came to this world. But unlike you he was a powerful psyker. I could have communicated with him like I am with you but I did not need to."

"What are you?"

"That, you did not need to know. But I am here to help you, little perpetual."


"Look west."

Attelus hesitantly did as told and found himself standing barely a kilometre from the tallest tower of Kelitia. Then it blazed into wild fire causing Attelus to scream and cover his face.

"There you will find the source of the taint chaos to this planet!" said the voice, but it was no longer soft it roared like a rabid animal. With as much violence and intensity as the flames. "There you will find that which those I cannot see, seek! There you must destroy it, before they can find it!"

"What the frig is it? Where? What the hell is-"

Before he could finish, Attelus found himself back in the shadow of the sixteen story hab block in mid stride. It caused his mind to whirl, to stumble.

"Master Kaltos? Is everything all right?" said Delathasi.

Attelus didn't answer as he tried to shake away the dizziness.

"Master Kaltos?"

"Yes! I'm fine!" he snapped, more forceful than intended. "Just stop calling me master Kaltos, okay?"

"Y-yes sorry," said Delathasi.

Attelus sighed and turned to her. "Sorry I snapped, Delathasi. I'm not your master, we're all on the same level here. Understand?"

The young apprentice shrugged and frowned.

Attelus opened his mouth to elaborate but was interrupted by the vox link crackling into life.

"Movement west, half a kilometre down the left side street," Hayden hissed.

"Well, shit. We'll check it out, said Attelus as he and Delathasi disappeared. He was hoping to have time to consider this strange development, but of course not.

In silence, Attelus and Delathasi slipped from shadow to shadow. Pistols drawn.

They were a few hundred metres down the street, when they saw the figures moving slowly, methodically into sight from the corner of an old, cracked ten story building. A large, old commercia complex. At first glance Attelus knew they were guardsmen or were once.

Attelus and Delathasi darted behind a crumbling wall and took out their scopes.

They weren't like the cultists they'd ambushed earlier. They wore battle damaged flak armour. Their uniforms, shredded beyond recognition. Both had wild, shaggy, long hair and beards. Like everything on this Emperor forsaken world, the crimson covered them from head to toe. Seemed etched into their skin and hair. They moved with admirable discipline and stealth. Their Las guns held with the confidence of seasoned veterans.

"Are they your people?" said Delathasi.

"Not sure," said Attelus. "We'll have to get closer to make any identification. But they're patrolling, guarding something."

"What do we do?"

"Hmm," Attelus mused and opened the link to Hayden and Adelana. "Hayden, Adelana we've spotted possible hostiles. We're going in to have a closer look, watch our backs."

Hayden and Adelana chorused their confirmations.

Delathasi and Attelus waited for the pair to disappear around the next corner before they started to move.

They stopped.

"Shit!" said Attelus.

"Las fire!" said Delathasi.

Quickly, but carefully they converged on the building and as they advanced the sound of combat grew louder and louder. Clashing and snarling and roar of chainswords. What disturbed Attelus was it already came from inside the commercia complex.

Attelus gritted his teeth so hard he feared they'd crack. He wanted, no needed to break into a sprint and he had to fight every fibre of his being not to. They could be Elbran! They could be being slaughtered!

Delathasi and Attelus climbed through a window and stepped onto a large balcony a good six metres wide. Stalls lined the north, south and western walls and to both their surprise the blood sands weren't on the inside. They could see all five stories down to the ground and the flare of las and solid projectile fire through the darkness and the balconies below.

"Stairs!" Attelus hissed and they started left and when they turned the corner, found corpses. Half a dozen cultists lay, torn apart by las fire.

Without breaking stride they ran over the sprawled corpses and down the rockcrete stairs.

They came upon a skirmish on the forth floor. A mob of cultists, four on the west balcony, five on the east: exchanged fire with a holed up enemy they couldn't see. The cultists took cover with surprising skill behind the stalls, their backs to Attelus and Delathasi.

"Delathasi! You take west. I'll take east!" Attelus commanded and opened fire, the dumm dumm round exploded the skull of the nearest cultist.

He burst into a sprint and killed another, blowing out the base of his spine before the others noticed him and turned. One fired a flurry with his auto gun, which Attelus ducked before he threw a knife into the brute's throat. The forth attempted to swing the butt of his las rifle at Attelus' skull, which Attelus swayed underneath before drawing his sword and cut through his torso. The last, a brute even bigger that the others, dropped his auto gun and drew his chainsword, roaring out his devotion to his god as he swung.

Attelus darted back and his sword's power field burst to life. Despite this, his opponent didn't hesitate, charging forward with such speed it took Attelus off guard and he barely stepped aside of the cultist's downward swing and his pistol was knocked from his grasp.

The cultist laughed and recovered into a wild horizontal cut Attelus ducked. Attelus' reposte was an upward diagonal cut and was shocked when the cultist back stepped it.

It allowed the cultist a split second to swing out, forcing Attelus to throw himself out of reach by such a small margin the onrush of air caused him to stumble. Attelus wanted to block, but even with his enhanced strength he doubted he could.

The huge cultist laughed again. Attelus flicked his wrist and threw the knife at the cultist's face. Who tilted his head out of his path, the distraction allowed Attelus to dash in and thrust his sword. The cultist side stepped but Attelus predicted this and his roundhouse kick hit the cultist in the side of the knee. The boot knife plunged through skin and bone and the cultist's leg gave out. Attelus' front kick sent the cultist over the rail and he plunged out of sight.

Attelus sheathed his sword and picked up one of the fallen las guns then looked to the west balcony. Delathasi was locked in combat with two cultists. He raised his gun to fire but stopped, it was a good eighty metres away and he didn't trust his long range shooting skill at the best of times.

Attelus had underestimated the cultist. He must've been granted speed and strength by his god beyond normal human parameters. Attelus hoped they wouldn't encounter many others of his kind. If one of the others did... At least now he knew, and knowing was half the battle.

He looked down, onto the next balcony and seven more cultists were locked in a fire fight with their still unseen enemy.

Attelus clenched his teeth and started to sprint to help Delathasi, but the sound of heavy foot falls made him stop and turn, gun raised.

Six bloody, beaten guardsmen ran his way, las guns covering him.

Around twenty metres away they slowed and started spreading out.

"Inquistion!" Attelus said. "Lower your weapons!"

They didn't. They were wild eyed, as twitchy as obscura addicts on withdrawal.

"I am a throne agent of the Ordo Hereticus! We're on the same side! Now, I'm just going reach into my jacket for my badge! Don't shoot me."

The guardsmen didn't acknowledge, didn't even move.

With slow, deliberate movements, while constantly stealing glances at Delathasi, Attelus reached into his flak jacket and slipped out his rosette. The ones given by Inquisitor Enandra to her most senior agents. He held it out so they could see, trying to strike an authoritative, intimidating stance.

They stiffened.

Then opened fire.

Attelus sensed this just a microsecond before they fired. His shock was overwhelming. It was his body, his instincts which made him sprint and vault over the handrail as laser rounds tore though his wake.

"Shit! Shit! Shit!" he roared as he fell, spun and grabbed the next handrail. Dropping his new las gun in the effort.

He hauled himself onto the balcony and two cultists were on him in an instant.

Attelus ducked a swinging short sword and barely sidestepped the other's chain axe. His upper cut smashed into the jaw of the first, shattering it and sending him reeling. Attelus drew his sword and sliced through the chest of the other as he rose his chain axe. With a snarl, Attelus impaled the first and kicked the corpse off the blade and against the wall.

He turned just in time to see three guardsmen, around thirty metres away open fire. He darted, ducked and deflected as he dashed forward. Cursing and spitting the entire time.

His kick hit the chest of the far right one, sending him careening to the floor, head over heels. The next tried to turn, but Attelus' sword sliced his las gun in two then his back fist mashed in the trooper's face. Sending the guardsman's back smashing against the floor.

Attelus kicked in the last's knee and as he fell, finished him with a round kick to the face.

A las round kissed Attelus' forearm. He cried out in pain, reeled and gaped as he saw everyone on the opposite balcony, cultist and guardsman alike were aiming their weapons his way and he dropped behind the rockcrete railing just before they shot.

"What the hell is going on?" he screamed and activated his vox link. "Deltathasi?"

"Mas- Attelus?"

"Where are you?"

"I am still on the fifth level. I am pinned down. The Imperial guardsmen have turned against me."

"Well, they seem to be working with the cultists, now!" said Attelus. "I'm pinned too! They were fighting each other a second ago! What the hell is going on here?"

"I am assuming that to be a rhetorical question."

Attelus clenched his jaw, as over the shooting he heard heavy, running foot steps headed his way On the south side balcony. He had to assume they were advancing along the north as well, attempting to flank him.

"Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!" he said.

"I am assuming those insults are to yourself, not me."

Delathasi was right, they were at himself. He was the idiot for letting his idiotic sentimentality get them into this situation.

"Delathasi! We need to regroup! Get to the forth floor ASAP!"

"Understood, Attelus."

He switched channels.

"Adelana! Hayden! We've run into trouble! We need back up! Now!"

He cut the link as they started to respond. A cultist came around the corner and Attelus shot him through the skull. Then the Throne Agent took out a frag grenade, pulled the pin. Tossing it as two guardsmen and another cultist came into view. He dashed out of their line fire as the grenade exploded at their feet, sending them flailing, screaming and dropping heavily.

Attelus made it behind the cover of a shopping stall as the enemies flanking from the north opened fire. He caught a glimpse of them and there where at least a dozen of the bastards!

His instincts screamed there were many more on the lower floors and all of them were ascending their way and his instincts were usually correct in these things.

Attelus cursed again and ejected his current clip of dumm dumms and replaced it with generic rounds- they'd do him no good against the guardsmen in flak armour.

He couldn't die! Not here, not now! Attelus knew with the warp storm it'd take Faleaseen weeks, perhaps months to find his soul! That'd mean he couldn't do anything to help his friends stuck here!

"Delathasi!" he yelled as he cut down an advancing guardsman with a wild flurry of shots. "Hurry it up!"

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:40 pm

Jelket checked his chronometre for what must have been the hundredth time. He laid prone, beneath his camo cloak. Watching east and wondered for what might have been the thousandth time, why hadn't he gone with Hayden and company? He was meant to be Hayden's spotter.

If Jelket was going to be honest with himself, Hayden Treash was one of those few snipers who didn't need a spotter. It made Jelket wonder why he'd been assigned to this mission in the first place. While all the "elite" ones go forward to scout, he was stuck here and...

Jelket shook away such thoughts, what the hell was wrong with him? He should be worried, not being bitter. Hayden and the others had yet to report in…

He straightened as he saw it, movement amongst the blood dunes about half a kilometre away and he reached to activate his microbead when one movement became two, then three then five, then dozens. Dozens of cultists were seeming to materialise from nowhere and their number just seemed to keep growing and growing.

And they were headed this way.

"Oh shit!" Jelket managed.

Side by side, Adelana and Hayden burst into the commercia complex. Their guns sweeping left and right. They'd heard the combat from miles away and now they were finally seeing it as they looked down to the forth floor.

Attelus and Delathasi stood, back to back, battling dozens of enemies who'd encircled them. It was obvious even from here, how beaten and battered and exhausted they were. Adelana knew not even they could last much longer. Her heart thundering, Adelana raised her bolter over the handrail, but hesitated as she saw they weren't just battling cultists but guardsmen too.

"What the hell?" she said.

Hayden took out a krak grenade and yelled. "Attelus! Delathasi! Brace yourselves!"

And to Adelana's shock, he pulled the pin then threw it. Too Adelana it seemed to spin through the air in slow motion. She couldn't help wonder, why a krak grenade and not a frag? Her question was answered as it hit the wall and exploded about seven or eight metres left. It blew a hole in the rockcrete a hole that allowed for the sand out side to flood in. The avalanche smashed into cultist and guardsman alike, sending them sliding off the balcony and four stories to their deaths.

"Delathasi! Attelus!" snarled Hayden. "We've got to get out of here! Now! Move! Move!"

Finally, Adelana understood Hayden's plan so switched her bolter to fully automatic and opened fire, cutting down enemies to Attelus and Delathasi's right. Turning torsos and heads into mist, Hayden switched out his hot shot round clip for a normal clip and shot with sporadic bursts into the enemy midst.

Attelus and Delathasi began moving, low and slow for the right side staircase- as enemies out of Adelana's line of sight fired from the west balcony. Adelana's and Hayden's cover fire, cleared the way for them.

Meanwhile, the hole was growing, the wall cracking with horrific high pitched screeching and the whole play. Las fire erupted from the balconies below forcing Adelana and Hayden into cover.

"Adelana!" said Hayden as he reloaded his long las. "Get to the east side! Cover Attelus and Delathasi from there!"

Adelana nodded, seeing Hayden's logic, she threw caution to the wind and began to run.

Meanwhile the rumbling and crumbling of the building got worse as more and more sand poured in and the hole grew.

Somehow they knew, somehow the bastards knew they were there.

Jelket cursed and cursed as he killed cultist after cultist. Not even power armour could withstand the penetrative power of a Hell gun, so it melted through their robes and skin and bones with ease. One

On his left, Helma the picture of calm fired through the mob. A just as stern Verenth was on Jelket's right. His auto pistol and stubb revolver dropping cultists with precise head shots.

Jelket couldn't help envy them. Behind him, from a few metres up the hill Halsin fired the pintle mount storm bolter while Karmen's bolter barked again and again.

Further north, Torris and Vark knelt. Torris' shot gun exploding holes through torsos and limbs like no bodies business and Vark's precision with his hell gun was enviable.

Between them they'd culled countless cultists but there were still many more and they came, like a tidal wave.

Jelket clenched his teeth. The braying psychotic bastards weren't far away now. Soon they would be in close combat and that thought didn't sit well with Jelket, with all the close combat specialists gone. That was why they called in the big...

His thoughts were interrupted by the roar of thrusters and Jelket looked up to see their Guncutter fly into view.

"You called?" said Darrance over the vox, sounding somehow smugger than usual.

Jelket couldn't help but smile.

The Guncutter spun, it's heavy bolter turrets and autocannons opened fire tearing a bloody swath through the cultist mob.

Torris cheered as did Vark, but Jelket continued to shoot. His smile disappeared as a shiver slid up his spine. Something wasn't right.

"Halsin! Get out!" Karmen's scream erupted through Jelket's ears causing him to flinch and turn, just in time to see the missile hit the ATV. The deafening explosion gutted it. What fate Halsin and Karmen had suffered, Jelket didn't know. And it was thrown off it's wheels, flinging and spinning down the hill with breath taking violence. Straight toward Jelket and the others.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:22 pm

The barking of Adelana's cover fire above was hard to hear over the deafening roaring and creaking and yawning of the cracking, breaking walls. The blood sands were spurting in with horrifying speed, eager to finally claim what had eluded it for so long.

Fighting to keep his feet, Attelus moved for the stairs, his sword held loosely at his side. Delathasi just behind. Pain echoed through him, from dozens of cuts and las burns that managed to penetrate his flak jacket.

Despite Adelana's cover fire, las and solid rounds still rained around them. Attelus wanted to scream at them to stop, not out of fear for being hit but because their shots were surely making the place cave in quicker.

Typical idiot mooks! Too busy trying to kill them instead of escaping!

Finally he turned into the stairwell and came face to face with a snarling cultist. He cried in fright, reeling, and on instinct, decapitated him.

The corpse collapsed, revealing more were ascending after.

Attelus fired his auto pistol, point blank into the face of the next.

"Delathasi!" Attelus yelled. "Keep going!"


"Go! Frig you!"

The young apprentice sprinted up the stairs without further complaint.

The next cultist bounded up with incredible speed.

Attelus pulled the pistol's trigger. It clicked dry.

The cultist was on him, swinging down his chainsword. In the blink of an eye Attelus' powersword swung out, knocking the cut off course and sliced through it.

But the cultist didn't break his stride and lunged forward, it took Attelus off guard.

Then the cultist sank his teeth into Attelus' thigh.

His shriek echoed, it was so loud it managed to eclipse all other sounds.

He stumbled, mind whirling but even still, he managed to flick his wrist for a throwing knife and plunge it into the side of the cultist's neck. The cultist let go and Attelus stumbled, cursing and screaming, before he fell onto his arse.

"Emperor damn it Faleaseen!" he screamed. "I could really use your healing right now!"

Attelus writhed, he knew that due to his heightened metabolism the bleeding would soon stop, but by frig it hurt like hell!

The next cultist emerged from the stairs, smiling and aiming a las gun at him.

Gasping, with shaking hands he reached for another clip to reload his pistol he still somehow kept a hold of but he wasn't going to be quick enough.

The autopistol round punched through the top of the cultist's skull and he dropped. Delathasi ran down the stairs to Attelus' side.

To her credit she said nothing detrimental, although he deserved it and fired down the stair well.

Adelana emerged into view and for a second Attelus' pain was forgotten as his heart fluttered.

"Attelus!" she cried, ran down to him, and picked up by his arm then slipped it across her shoulders. Hauling him to his feet.

"I frigged up again, Adelana," he slurred.

"Yeah, we all do from time to time, Attelus," she said. "Just don't get too...bitten up about."

She laughed as they started up the stairs, Attelus didn't.

Meanwhile the building continued to crumble.

Delathasi followed.

"Shit!" she snarled as her auto pistol spat again and again. "We've got hostiles coming from the south stairs!

Adelana paused, turned and gave Delathasi her bolter.

"Cover us! Have you used a bolter before?" said Adelana.

"N-No. I-"

"Just aim down the sight and pull the trigger! It's got a hell of a kick back, so be prepared!"

Delathasi nodded.

The bark of a bolter firing followed, then a round of curses from the young apprentice.

"Adelana," said Attelus. "Reload my auto pistol for me, please! I can still be of some help!"

"Yeah, got you!" said Adelana as she took it, reloaded it then handed it back before drawing her own las pistol side arm.

The vox crackled to life.

"Hurry it up," said Hayden. "They're almost on the sixth floor and my long las isn't the best at crowd control."

"Sorry! Attelus is injured! We're moving as fast as we can!"

The trek up the stairs was slow, every step causing Attelus to hiss in pain.

Over the years Attelus has had worse injuries but this was just humiliating and it was going to get infected.

After what seemed an age they reached the fifth floor. Adelana and Attelus approached the exit with the utmost caution.

Adelana slipped Attelus off her shoulders and looked around the corner. Attelus watched her, his teeth on edge, his imagination flasing him a vision of a las round burning through her skull. Adelana was greeted by las fire nothing hit her before she slipped back and turned to him.

"Twelve, Attelus," she said. "All guardsmen! Seven left, five right! About fifteen meters!"

Delathasi joined them.

"Almost out of ammo!" Delathasi announced. "Can I have another clip?"

Adelana handed her two.

"Cover us, Delathasi!" said Attelus.

Delathasi nodded, leaned out and fired flurries as Adelana helped Attelus up. They walked from cover as quick as they could. Shooting their pistols with Delathasi suppression fire. Attelus didn't hit anything but Adelana managed to get a guardsman in the neck and clip another's arm. They made it and at the corner, Adelana continued to fire her las pistol while Attelus watched the stairs leading up. Delathasi moved to join them, firing from the hip.

Once she was there they began up the stairs.

The cracking and rending was getting worse. They stopped, stumbling as the entire building moved and rumbled, tilting violently.

"Shit!" snarled Attelus as the agony in his leg flared. His heart sinking into his stomach.

Then the wall of the lower stair case tore open, like a chainsword wound and blood sands burst through.

A second after, two guardsmen appeared in the entrance. One's torso disappeared in a bloody haze as Delathasi opened fire, the other managed a blurt of las, one clipping Adelana's shoulder before Delathasi could kill him.

Adelana cried out and she and Attelus fell onto the stairs in a flailing jumble of limbs.

He managed to stop his head from hitting with quick hands but Adelana wasn't so lucky as Attelus heard a crack!

Attelus turned to see Adelana laid, facing him, a large bloody gash on the side of her skull. Her eyes fluttered, barely conscious.

"Adelana!" he cried as he began to climb to his feet. "Adelana!"

Panic almost overtook him, he suppressed it with sheer willpower. Then, despite the pain it caused, he got up and picked up Adelana. Slipping her limp arm across his shoulders.

He roared out as the added weight caused more pain to course through his leg. But he ignored it and started up the stairs.

Delathasi continued to shoot, covering their back.

Every step was agonising, every step made him scream. His teeth were clenched so hard he was afraid they'd burst from his mouth. His brow furrowed so badly it'd hurt for hours later.

The vox crackled and he could hear Hayden's voice but couldn't make out what the sniper said. His vision was hazy, boarded by white.

It felt like an age, every step was a war to take and the entire time, Delathasi fired Adelana's bolter. He wanted to swap positions with the apprentice but knew even a slight pause might allow the enemy an opening.

He made it and it was perhaps one the hardest things he'd ever done. Harder than running through the lower hive with daemons in pursuit. Harder than the subsequent fight with Feuilt.

Once at the top he limped on and almost didn't notice Hayden approach.

The sniper took Adelana off him, picking her up into his arms with ease. It caused Attelus to almost collapse but Delathasi stopped him and they started toward the windows. Now the walls were almost in complete collapse. Behind them, the balcony began to break down and fall.

They dived out a window, a millisecond before the building finally fell. Attelus even felt the wall brush down his feet.

Attelus hit the sands and rolled with the forward momentum, but it didn't cause him any pain. His leg now numb.

Gasping, aching all over but despite this Attelus clambered up, looking for Adelana.

"Adelana! Adelana!" he roared. "Adel..."

He wandered off in his exclamation as he saw guardsmen, a good two dozen more. Lined out on the street, their lasguns covering them. Like the ones in the building, they were ragtag, beaten and battered. Wearing a mixture of uniforms unfamiliar to him.

"Well, shit!" said Attelus, expecting to be cut down in a hail of las.

But they didn't shoot.

"On your knees," said a commanding voice and a man in brown and grey carapace armour walked into view, hands behind his back. His patrician features scarred and craggy. His accent and annunciation as haughty as his gait. "Hands behind your heads."

Attelus glanced about, and found Hayden and Adelana. Both had complied with the officer's order, poor Adelana was still clinging to consciousness, blood coated the side of her face and matted her hair. He started toward her, concern overriding his sense of self preservation.

"On your knees now, young man! Fingers intertwined behind your head!" said the officer. "Or do you have a death wish?"

Attelus stopped, his hands balled into fists. His jaw clenched, but did as told. Delathasi following suit.

"Check them!" said the officer and eight troopers advanced, one to cover them, the other to pat them down.

"We aren't your enemy," said Attelus. "We're Inquisition."

The officer grimaced.

"I could believe that, actually" he said. "But in my experience that does not mean you are not an enemy."

Attelus shrugged, unable to argue with such logic.

"Sir!" said the trooper, patting Attelus down as he found Attelus' rosette, turned and handed it to the officer.

He studied it, holding it high, with one eye closed.

"Hmm, seems legitimate," he said.

"Sir!" said the trooper again as he drew Attelus' power sword from it's sheath and handed it to the officer, handle first.

The officer eyed it, eyebrow raised then took it.

"It does not look like much, but..."

Then the officer began to slash, slice, cut and parry. To Attelus he seemed to move in slow motion but his skill was quite impressive. Almost on par with Delathasi.

"This is one hell of a sword," he said. "The balance is perfect! If I didn't believe you were Inquisition, I do now."

"Well...beside the rosette," said Attelus, clenching his teeth against the pain. "Look! My name is Attelus Kaltos we're of the Ordo Hereticus. Now, please state your name, rank and regiment."

The officer gazed at the sword, almost entranced by it.

"I am captain Sevrik Dantian of the Sovrithan 81st rifles," he said after a few seconds.

"Sovrithan 81st? Weren't you deployed to Kalivith?" said Hayden before Attelus could.

"Indeed," said Dantian, cutting Attelus' sword a few more times. "This is an amazing sword, a marvel of workmanship. Take them! Well take them back to the commander!"

The two guardsmen hauled Attelus and others to their feet and the barrel of a las gun in his back prompted Attelus forwards as the others closed in around them in escort formation.

"I like this sword," said Dantian. "Think I might keep it."

Many of the guardsmen laughed sycophantically and Attelus clenched his jaw. It took all of his willpower to keep himself from killing the captain. He sighed, slouched and looked to Adelana. She was stumbling, clinging to consciousness.

"My...My colleague she needs medical attention," Attelus said. "She has a head injury-"

"Yes...I am aware of that, Throne Agent Attelus Kaltos..."

Dantian wandered off in his sentence and Attelus waited, thinking the captain would say more, but he stayed silent.

Attelus sighed and ignored his captors as he limped to her side and slipped her arm over his shoulders. It caused pain to flare in his leg but he didn't let it get to him.

"Colleague, huh?" said one of the guardsmen.

Attelus didn't take notice and he couldn't help wonder: Kalivith was over three hundred kilometres south, so why the hell were a detachment of the Sovrithan 81st rifles doing all the way here? What were they going to do to them when they were taken to their commander?

Was Attelus' leg going to have to be amputated due to infection because of lacking medical supplies? Good luck trying to cut through the bone with anything less than a power blade, though,

Where were the rest of Attelus' squad?

What the hell was going on?

Why were guardsmen and cultists killing each in on second then joining forces to kill them in the next? Was Adelana going to be okay? Attelus hoped so.

What the hell was behind that vision he had? What was waiting in the tallest tower?

So many frigging questions, but the most important of all was: how was he going to get his damned sword back?

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:26 pm

For what felt like hours but according to his wrist chron it was fifteen minutes. They moved slowly, carefully through the night endowed streets. The Sovrithan troopers were professional, not on par with any one of Attelus' squad but still skilled.

Attelus couldn't help be impressed and it made him feel a little better about being captured. They'd been thorough in their pat down- taking everything bar his boot knife. Despite this Attelus knew he could escape, they should've bound his hands. His thigh had already mostly healed. Although he still pretended to limp. But he couldn't escape with the others, especially poor injured Adelana. And if he did, Attelus didn't know what their fates would be.

Attelus hoped they'd found allies. That this 'commander' will provide them much needed answers. But he doubted it, despite the outward sanity of their captors Attelus' instincts screamed they'd leapt from the proverbial frying pan and into the fire.

Adelana if she could read his mind and wasn't half conscious, she would accuse him of being paranoid but he'd learned long ago that they were usually right.


Attelus sighed as they turned another corner, and the Sovrithan base of operations came into view.

They were camped out in what once was a huge plaza. On the west sat a huge ecclesiarchy cathedral jutted from the blood sands, a good seventeen stories tall. It was typically gaudy and Gothic. Attelus didn't have to be a genius to guess there were statues hidden beneath the sand. The plaza of the God-Emperor's Justice. Attelus recalled it was the fifth largest cathedral in the city.

There were hundreds of beige tents and Attelus couldn't help pause. There must've been at least a thousand men of the Sovrithan 81st rifles encamped here. Why so many?

As they approached they were met by the squad guarding the perimeter. Dantian exchanged words with the officer and soon they were moving again.

Dantian led them into a supply tent and there they were forced onto their knees again. Hands bound behind their backs with rope.

"Are you going to take her to your medicae?" Attelus said, on the verge of panic.

Dantian laughed, "do I look like I care about her?"

Attelus glared up at the captain. "I understand your suspicion, I do. But you hold my rosette. You know who and what I am and what authority I serve. So you should know, it's in your best interest to help her, captain. Believe me."

Dantian laughed again. "Are you threatening me, throne agent Attelus Kaltos?"

"No," said Attelus. "Just stating a fact, is all."

"It's not enough," said Dantian. "She maybe pretty, but it means nothing to me."

Attelus sighed. "Okay, then. I swear to you if you don't get her help. I'll kill you and it'll be slow. With my bare hands, first I'll tear out your stomach and show it to you. Then your left lung and show that to you too. Then your kidney, then your right lung. Then I'll let you live for a while, writhing in all your deserved agony. And lastly, I'll tear out your throat. Do you understand?"

Dantian smiled. "I..."

"Now I am threatening you! Do you understand!"

The captain shook his head and licked his thin, dry lips. "You are lucky that the commander wants to talk to you, or I would kill you right now for that. With your own sword."

Attelus smiled. "Believe me, you'd need all the luck in the galaxy to manage that. Now, are you going to help her, or not?

Dantian slipped off his leather gloves, staring at Attelus for a good half a minute.

"Take her!" said the captain. "...Take her to the medicae."

"Sir?" stammered one of the troopers.

"Do it now," said Dantian.

Two troopers approached Adelana and between them, carried her limp form outside.

"A wise decision," said Attelus.

Dantian grimaced. "Take him!" he snapped as he turned and started out. "We have a meeting with the commander!"

Attelus and Dantian with seven soldiers in escort moved through the hustle and bustle of the camp. Now Dantian walked behind Attelus and the troopers didn't seem to dare push or prod him. Attelus had to fight from smiling and almost forgot to keep pretending to limp.

Dantian might've been an arse, but he wasn't stupid. Attelus couldn't help wonder, why had they dubbed their leader, 'the commander?' That was more an Astartes title, rarely used by the Imperial Guard, but perhaps the Sovrithans did? Attelus hadn't bothered researching into them, due to their deployment.

He doubted it. Something seemed off.

No, something was off.

They approached a large command tent set at the camp's centre. There the moving bodies were concentrated further. Attelus fought back an abrupt wave of rage, already he'd forgotten Autarch Arlyandor's teachings. This planet, this world was getting to him, it was hard to think straight. It was getting to the others too. Karmen's low self esteem and Jelket's inferiority complex were bubbling to the surface. It was the influence of chaos, it was bringing out all their flaws, exacerbating them.

The two troopers standing guard at the entrance, snapped to attention as they saw Dantian. The captain ignored them. They Inside, it stank of stale sweat and a dozen or so cogitators were set on the tarpaulin floor, a junior officer at each. Attelus again couldn't help be surprised at their organisation and how well they'd deployed. It was almost the equivalent of a general's command centre in terms of equipment. Who could pull so much influence for all of this?

This was answered as they slipped through another set of flaps and another pair of guards, into the commander's quarters. It caused Attelus to stop dead his eyes to widen with fear and awe.

"Here he is," said captain Dantian. "As you ordered, commander."

A man sat at a large desk. He was clad in beaten black with white shoulder pads, power armour of ancient design. He had no helmet and his head was shaven bald, hard features scowling at Attelus.

He was a man, but far from human.

He was a Space Marine.

Hayden frowned, eyeing the guards that'd been left behind. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't find a way to escape. Hayden doubted that these guardsmen had honourable intentions and he doubted they'd taken Adelana to a medicae.

Or they'd taken her to a medicae to be treated.

The thought made Hayden struggle in his bonds.

"Keep still!" snapped one of the troopers, emphasising his words with a gesture of his las gun.

Hayden did as ordered and looked to Delathasi. She looked unperturbed, attention fixed forward. Hayden wished Karmen was here, wished that her power wasn't in flux. She was a negotiator of merit if any one could talk them out of this, it was her.

But Hayden doubted that too.

He remembered, years ago, working with Glaitis one of her sayings, one which Attelus should've adhered to the second he stepped on this miserable planet.

Everyone is your enemy.

They were in this situation because of him. If Attelus hadn't split them up, if he hadn't wandered into that trap.

Attelus should not have threatened that captain.

Attelus should not have been put in charge of this expedition in the first place.

Hayden should have.

A slight smiled curled on the Space Marine's scarred, craggy face. His eyes were almond shaped bulging black. Skin as pale as Attelus' own.

Dantian approached the Marine and handed him Attelus' rosette.

"Captain, leave," said the Space Marine, studying the rosette.

Dantian nodded and with a brief bow, turned and left his men in tow.

"Is it truly so frightening to see an astartes? One commanding imperial guardsmen?" Said the Space Marine after a good half a minute of silence.

"Yes," said Attelus, eyeing the Space Marine wearily.

"So you are a throne agent?" said the Space Marine. "You are a member of the Holy Ordos?"

Attelus didn't like the way he said 'holy ordos.'

"Are you the leader?" said the Space Marine. "Where is your inquisitor? If you are the leader, you don't look like much."

"I don't know if I should tell you," Attelus clenched his jaw, he hated being underestimated even though it could be used to his advantage and had on many occasions. But a Space Marine would think that way about every mortal, anyway.

The Space Marine laughed, low and rumbling. It was devoid of humour, threatening.

"You should, throne agent Attelus Kaltos," he said. "If you know what's good for you."

Attelus was fighting the fear welling within his guts but still had to hold back a smile. Could the Marine have used a more cliché line? He'd fought and killed Space Marines before, he remembered one in particular a year ago. A chaos Marine named Erdaku who'd lead a cult uprising on the world of Lathia Prime. Attelus hadn't killed the self titled, 'ever chosen of chaos' that'd been Hayden but he'd fought the freak for long enough to allow Hayden to get into position. So he may as well have. But then he had his sword and his hands weren't tied behind his back. Although Attelus could snap the rope in a spilt second, against an astartes that spilt second might not be enough.

"I am the leader. My Inquisitor, she's worlds away."

The Space Marine snorted. "I will take that literally. Typical Inquisitor, sending lackeys instead of doing it themselves."

Attelus frowned.

"As one of her agents, I wield all her authority," said Attelus, trying to sound commanding and not sure if he'd managed it. "State your name, and rank, please."

"You wield no authority over me, little girl," sneered the Space Marine and Attelus frowned again. Erdaku called him that too. In fact almost every Space Marine he'd met had. "But if you must know, I am veteran-sergeant Kalakor. Third company, Raven Guard."

"I wasn't aware-"

"We were not in the deployment manifest because that is how we work. In secret, separate."


"Because that is how we serve the Emperor, throne agent," said Kalakor.

"No why have you taken command of Imperial Guard?"

Kalakor sighed. "We were but a squad. A squad that I led for a century. All of them but I were killed. Killed at the hand a greater daemon of Khorne in the initial battle but we sent it back whence it came. I am the only survivor I am afraid."

"I-I'm sorry."

Kalakor sneered and waved a gauntleted hand in dismissal. "I do not need your condolences. They died with honour."

"Yes! Sorry!" said Attelus.

"You are strange," said Kalakor.

Attelus waited, such a statement wasn't new to him. He thought the Raven Guard would elaborate, but he stayed silent.

"I am glad that you are here," said Kalakor.

Attelus raised an eyebrow.

"The guardsmen I have led here are not numerous enough nor skilled enough to advance into the city further."

"So, you'll tell me what's going on here?" said Attelus.

Kalakor smiled at Attelus. He had no idea what he was smiling about, Space Marines were notoriously hard to read.

"Of course I will, as much as I can," said Kalakor. "We are here because we had lost contact with the Elbyran contingent two weeks ago. We had only arrived three days ago, we still fight against the cultists in the south it was not until now that a detachment could be spared to investigate."

Kalakor paused and from behind the desk picked up a vox unit and placed on the top.

"Before all communication was lost we received this..."

Kalakor turned it on with a flick of his armoured finger.

There was static and Attelus waited with baited breath, knowing what he was to hear wasn't going to be pleasant.

Then it came a voice erupted from the speaker.

"He has taken over!" the voice, chocked by static said. "The general has taken the tallest tower! father has lost his mind! Most of us follow him! They execute the civilians! We cannot stop them! We cannot-!"

The voice disappeared into static again.

Attelus knew who it was.

"Commissar Tathe!" he breathed.

Commissar Delan Tathe was a hero, one of Attelus Kaltos heroes. He was a famous sword master, a leader of note. Interestingly, he was the son of general Tathe, where usually Commissars were recruited from the orphans of the schola progenium. It was said that in Delan's youth general Tathe had made Delan live in the Varanderian with the orphans. To become a commissar.

And he'd become one hell of a commissar. But one thing Delan Tathe was famous for, was his ruthlessness. Why he would protect civilians, especially those of a corrupted world. Attelus couldn't understand.

"General Tathe has gone rogue?" said Attelus.

"If you believe what this transmission said, yes," Kalakor.

Attelus nodded and a thought occurred. Then why are you so quick to trust me?

"We have attempted to scout a head on a few occasions," said Kalakor. "This city is unlike the others. Here enemy in garbs of both cultist and Guardsmen seem to materialise into reality. Fighting each other but then turn against us if we get close. We have lost over a third of our number since our arrival due to this. I have scouted ahead myself but have found nothing beside these skirmishes and this is a large city and I am but one Space Marine."

"I am assuming you want the help of mine and my own?" said Attelus. "Also, I must know. These blood sands were they like this when you first arrived?"

Kalakor smiled. "I am not sure. You managed to get captured, your skill cannot be that great. And indeed they were, this world was corrupted before we came."

Attelus sighed. "We were captured because that was my fault. I let my sentimentality get the best of me. I am Velrosian. Ever since I was young, I looked up to them. I needed to see them, to help them! But they turned against us and we barely escaped! We are Throne Agents. We are the best of the best. Now I have learned this the hard way, we won't make the same mistake again."

Kalakor tilted his head. "You won't make the same mistake again?"

Attelus shrugged. "I won't. I take full responsibility."

The Raven Guard nodded in what may've been respect.

"You admit that you are at fault, that is what a leader must do. A true leader, indeed. But you claim to be the best of the best. There is an ancient Terran saying that you might be aware of. 'Show. Do not tell.'"

Attelus shrugged again and clenched his jaw, his attention fell to the floor.

"How can I show you my skill with my hands tied like this?" said Attelus.

Kalakor's smile grew into a grin. "Oh, I have an idea."

"Get them up!" snapped a sergeant as he burst into the tent. "Take them to the gathering ground."

"What? Why, sir?" said one trooper.

"Commander's order, wants them to see this. For some reason, now hurry it up!"

Two guardsmen approached Delathasi and Hayden, pulled them to their feet and shoved them through the flaps. Out into the night.

Hayden and Delathasi shared bemused looks.

For a few minutes they were forced through the sea of tents and bustling bodies. It wasn't long before Hayden saw a large crowd of guardsmen had encircled something. There was an almost palpable aura of excitement from them.

Hayden sighed. What have you done now, Attelus?

He and Delathasi couldn't help stop dead as they glimpsed another figure, standing behind the crowd. It was nearly two metres tall and almost was wide. It wore pitch black armour with white shoulder pads. It was a frigging Space Marine!

Hayden was forced on again by a las gun barrel prodding his back.

When they approached the mob the sergeant shouted, "clear a space! Clear a fugging space!"

The guardsmen stepped aside, allowing Hayden and Delathasi to see the middle of the circle. Attelus stood to the left, holding a wooden practise sword at his side. On the right, the captain, Dantian paced back and forth like a caged lion also holding a practise sword. The captain looked amused, Attelus' expression was unreadable.

Once Hayden, Delathasi and the sergeant made it to the front the guardsmen closed the circle again. Attelus looked at Hayden and Delathasi, giving them an encouraging nod and slight smile.

Hayden wasn't encouraged.

"Here they are!" bellowed the Space Marine. "The honoured guests!"

Hayden looked at the Astartes, not sure what to think of it's presence.

"So!" said Attelus to Dantian. "Care to make a wager?"

The captain grimaced. "I am assuming you want to make one about your sword? You win, you get it back? I win, I keep it?"

Attelus nodded.

A smirk crossed Dantian's face. "Are you really so sure you'll win?"

Attelus shrugged.

"I will take your bet," said Dantian, his smirk falling into a frown which said: 'under the circumstances you gave me little choice, you little worm.'

Attelus grinned and slipped off his flak jacket tossing it away in a dramatic fashion. His grey syn skin bodyglove was short sleaved, revealing svelte. lean frame.

"Are both combatants ready?" said the Space Marine. His voice was so deep, so resonant that Hayden's organs seemed to rumble with each syllable.

"I am," said Attelus and Dantian.

"As stated this will be to whomever lands what could be deemed a fatal blow," said the Marine, he paused for a few weighted seconds. "Begin!"

Both of them fell into combat stances. Then faster than Hayden could think, Attelus dashed the distance and Dantian flew onto his back. Hayden couldn't even see Attelus' attack.

"We done?" said Attelus and every jaw except for Hayden's and Delathasi's hung open in abstract shock. Even the Space Marine's.

"Oh! Right!" said Attelus, then pretended to cut his practise sword across the barely conscious captain's throat. "That better?"

Hayden couldn't help facepalm, he was afraid this would happen. Could he had just toyed with the captain for a while? Or did Attelus just have to show off?

The Space Marine pushed his way through the guardsmen and into the circle.

"I have not seen a mortal able to move that fast!" it snarled. "What are you?"

"I was enhanced by the Adeptus Mechanicus," said Attelus, a little too lightly to Hayden's liking. "Gene splicing, muscle and bone augmentation. You know how it goes."

The Marine said nothing, just glared down at Attelus.

"Can I have my sword back, now?" said Attelus.

The Space Marine turned and picked up Dantian's fallen sword.

"Not yet," he said. "First I would like to test my own skill..."

Attelus straightened in fearful understanding as the marine spun back to him with grace belying his bulk. Holding out the blunt blade in a huge fist.

"...Against your own," said the Marine.

Attelus swallowed. "Well, shit," he said.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:53 am

The guardsmen didn't need any prompting to spread out a further three metres as Attelus and Kalakor circled each other. Attelus knew he, a short, long limbed throne agent was ludicrously tiny compared to the huge Marine. Yet here he was forced to fight this monster.

Attelus sighed. "We're on the same side, right? So you won't kill me, okay?"

Kalakor sneered. "Are you admitting defeat already?"

Attelus shrugged.

"Of course he is!" yelled one of the guardsmen. "He's nothing but a fugging little fairy boy! He doesn't stand a chance!"

The rest burst out in laughter and Attelus couldn't help roll his eyes. Deciding to neglect how easily he'd defeated their captain, who was being carried to their medicae tent. He would've been angry, if at all insecure.

Kalakor doesn't spare the guardsman a glance, attention fixated on Attelus.

"We fight until the first blow deemed fatal is landed," said Kalakor.

Attelus clenched his jaw, he wasn't an expert on astartes physiology but knew enough to know such a feat was harder for him than Kalakor. Even without his frigging power armour.

"Are you ready?" said Kalakor.

Swallowing back his fear, Attelus gave the Marine a nod.

The next second Kalakor was on him, slashing down vertically. Attelus slid aside and cut at the Marine's exposed side. Lightning fast the Marine turned and parried. His riposte, a horizontal blow that forced Attelus to lunge back.

The Marine stabbed and Attelus weaved beneath it darted onto the Marine's side, but Kalakor turned in his wake, cutting. Attelus ducked and slashed upward at Kalakor's chin. The Marine stopped it dead with the blade of his practise sword and with a snap of his wrist almost sent from Attelus' grasp. But he'd underestimated the Throne Agent's strength as Attelus kept hold of the sword and let himself be flung away into a controlled roll and out of reach of a follow through.

Attelus spun, just in time to side step the Marine's diagonal slash. Attelus knew Kalakor was holding back the Space Marine, withheld his true strength so they wouldn't kill. But it didn't effect his speed this spoke of remarkable skill, even for an astartes. If Attelus wielded his powersword he would've cut into Kalakor's wrists, but that wasn't a fatal blow so wouldn't help him now.

Kalakor carried on his cut, turning it into horizontal slash, Attelus leaped over it then back-stepped as Kalakor reversed the blow.

Attelus clenched his teeth. Their reach difference was ridiculous. He exhaled as Raloth's words filtered through his thoughts.

And he smiled.

For a full seventeen minutes they fought their mock fight, two blurs of inhuman speed and skill. Attelus dodged and darted and cut, in and out, in and out. Kalakor parried, blocked and countered.

All those watching stood in awed, gaping silence. Even Hayden and Delathasi.

Attelus, already weary from the earlier fight against the cultists, was on the cusp of collapsing, every inch of him ached, but he had to wait this long.

It was when he got the opening he needed.

Kalakor cut down, vertically.

Attelus had dodged and weaved all of the Marine's attacks. Kalakor was used to it, expected it so when the Throne Agent parried, it caught him off guard. Attelus slipped aside and with all his strength bashed his blade into the back Kalakor's, augmenting it's power for a split second and into the sand. Attelus had clenched his teeth to keep from crying out as pain erupted up his arms, as impact tremors tore through his musculature.

The Throne Agent dashed in, slashing horizontally at Kalakor's neck. The Marine even still managed to bring up his sword up to block. But Attelus had predicted this and in the last millisecond reversed the slash into a vertical, downward cut, toward Kalakor's skull.

The crack as the training blade snapping echoed through the crowd and the broken half flew into the air, spinning and spinning until it fell and stuck fast in the blood sand.

Attelus sighed through his gasping. Somehow the Marine had twisted so the sword hit his over large pauldron instead of his forehead.

"Frig!" Attelus snarled before Kalakor tapped him on the ribs with the flat of his sword, sending the small throne agent off his feet and smashing to the sand.

Dazed, hurting like hell it was by hearing the Space Marine's heavy foot fall Attelus knew he approached. Through hazy vision he saw Kalakor towering over him and with a slight smile, the Raven Guard offered his hand.

"You almost had me there, throne agent Attelus Kaltos," said Kalakor. "A good attempt."

Attelus took it and the Marine hauled him to his feet with such strength it almost pulled Attelus' arm from it's socket.

Kalakor raised his hand into the air. "This! This Throne Agent Attelus Kaltos has earned my respect! For a human to last to so long in a fight against a Space Marine. None of you can claim such a feat! So he should yours! All of of you! Even if he is a fugging little fairy boy!"

The guardsmen laughed but it wasn't with malice.

Attelus wasn't smiling. He'd planned every step, every slash, in minute detail. He should've had Kalakor cold. He should've won. While Kalakor was right, it still didn't feel right. Something just wasn't right. Or was that him just being a sore loser?

He was knocked from his sulking by the faint, sudden sound of thrusters to the south. Attelus and Kalakor were both the first to hear and as one, they looked.

"No!" said Attelus. "Shit! Shit shit shit!

"Do you know that ship?" said Kalakor. Everyone had heard it now and watched it's lights land on top of a building about two kilometres south-east.

"Yes," Attelus breathed. "That's my Guncutter! What the hell are those idiots doing? I need my powersword! We need our weapons. We need to get there, now! Before they bring every frigging cultist in the city on their idiotic arse!"

He started toward Hayden and Delathasi but stopped as guardsmen stepped in his way. Las guns raised.

"I uhh," said Attelus, turning back to Kalakor.

The Raven Guard frowned down at Attelus.

"Can you please help us?" Attelus said through clenched teeth and trying to keep the urgency from his voice

"Just because you have earned my respect, does not mean you can order us around," said Kalakor. "And still I cannot trust you."

Kalakor smiled. "After learning of your considerable ability. I know that you are a danger. We will go to your foolish allies, and you will be coming with us."

Kalakor motioned, then four guardsmen approached and with rough hands, they pulled Attelus' arms behind his back and tied his wrists together. Attelus was too exhausted to fight back even if there was one.

"Your three companions are to stay here," said Kalakor. "They will be insurance in case you try anything...Untoward."

"Will...Will I ever get my powersword back?"

Kalakor's smile turned smug. "Dantian is beholden to give it back to you. But, I am not."

Attelus sighed through his gasps as he moved, jogging through the darkened streets. His escort, a ten man squad surrounded him, las guns panning left and right with admiral discipline.

What caused him to sigh was a thought, a cliché which filtered through his thoughts. 'Hind sight was twenty twenty,' or something a long those lines

As ridiculous as it sounded he should've let the Marine win and quickly at that. Kalakor and the guardsmen knew his capabilities now. He might've got his sword back if he hadn't wanted to prove himself. Defeat the Raven Guard in a foolish sparring match. To last even five minutes would've sufficed to gain their respect.

He wanted to test himself, his skill. But in all honesty, it was to make up for his idiocy in letting that cultist bite his leg.

Attelus clenched his jaw.

Three squads had headed south with Kalakor. One advancing through the westward streets, the other, the east. Kalakor had moulded into the shadows a few seconds after they left. Attelus had to fight from showing his shock, he'd read of the Raven Guard's skill at stealth but never imagined they were that good. Even in power armour.

No one spoke as they moved. The squad's sergeant, a grizzled, dark skinned giant wielding a las pistol and chainsword, gave orders via hand gestures.

They were no more than five hundred metres away when Attelus heard the gun fire echoing through the city. Intense and He wanted to try call them over the vox, but his hands were tied and if vox communication was possible he would've heard from them hours ago.

He had to clench his teeth to fight from running onward to help his friends and he wondered, why the hell had they arrived like this? What happened to their ATV?

Whatever happened, it couldn't have been good.

Kalakor seemed to materialise from the shadows of a hab block a few metres ahead. Making us stop in our advance.

"Your allies have holed up in a hab block and are fighting a force of three hundred cultists and traitor guardsmen and more are converging on their position as we speak. They will be overwhelmed soon."

Attelus cursed. "We have to help them!"

Kalakor stared down at Attelus. Seeming to decide whether Attelus was worthy of his help or not. There was something else in that stare which set Attelus' teeth on edge, something calculating. It unnerved Attelus more than he could describe.

The Space Marine must've stood there for a few seconds but for Attelus, it felt an eternity. Despite this Attelus didn't break eye contact with Kalakor.

The sergeant gave a small nod before reaching to the vox bead in his ear.

"Sergeant Droscoth, Salrian, Koltik, Fertik. We need reinforcement. Enemy contact. We will advance and engage first. Converge on our position ASAP. Understood?"

Attelus could hear the slight whispers with his enhanced hearing.

"Thank you," Attelus said, trying and failing to keep desperate, pathetic platitude from his voice.

Kalakor smiled. "Just remember, throne agent you owe me for this. You owe us."

With that the Marine turned away, motioning them to follow.

"Let us move," he said.

"Give me a weapon!" said Attelus causing Kalakor to stop. "I can help! Let me fight and help my friends! A knife, a pistol! Anything!"

The Raven Guard looked over his shoulder at Attelus.

Then he laughed. A low and throaty and mocking sound. Attelus clenched his jaw.

"How about no," he said and carried on, activating the vox again. "Sergeant Sallorith, sergeant Bertrat. I will scout on ahead. We are engaging. I will keep you updated once I am in postion."

The sergeant nodded, before fazing into the darkness again.

Attelus sighed before being ushered on by a light shove from a trooper.

"Hurry it up, fairy boy," said one.

Attelus sighed again. It looked like that nickname was going to stick, so much for 'earning their respect.'

They made it another thirty metres down the street before the grenade cascaded from a third story window and amidst the squad.

"Grenade!" Attelus yelled, but it was too late. The Photon flash grenade erupted into life, causing the guardsmen around to cry out and reel, clutching at their eyes. Attelus was unaffected, his photo contacts were the best quality created by the Adeptus Mechanicus making him immune to their affects. He didn't hesitate, snapped his bonds and snatched a las gun from the grasp of a guardsman.

Two figures slipped into the street. One male, one female. Both wore black synskin bodygloves, both were slender, athletically built. The male wielded a thin, curved power sword and the woman, two power blades and they blazed into life as they started to slaughter through the hapless guardsmen, toward Attelus. Their features were hidden beneath snarling masks.

Attelus sensed the presence behind and he spun, firing a blurt with his stolen gun.

Another male, this one far taller than the others dodged and deflected the fire with a power blade. Moving inhumanly fast, he dashed at Attelus, smashing a fist at the throne agent's skull.

Smiling. Attelus side stepped and kicked the attacker in the chest with his boot knife. The man let out a muffled cry and stumbled back. Attelus would've smashed the butt of the las gun into the attacker's face but was forced back by the female as she flew at him into a hook kick, which Attelus just managed to back-step.

Attelus weaved underneath her following front kick and she slipped away from his swinging rifle. Attelus fired a flurry at the curved sword male. He dodged and deflected through it then tried to cut the las gun in twain. Attelus slid back, snatching his rifle. The woman had sheathed her power blades and lunged, grabbing the gun with both hands.

Attelus' low side kick collapsed her knee, then he kneed her in the ribs. It connected with a satisfying, crack! To her credit she didn't cry out only stumbled and let go.

The male with the short sword had recovered but was kept at bay with another blurt of las fire. The curved swordsman was almost on him. But Attelus did something unexpected, he threw his lasgun at the him Taken off guard the man still managed to tilt his head aside, but this allowed Attelus to dash forward to grab the man's sword arm. Attelus elbowed him in the armpit, then backfisted him in the face.

The man cried out and let go, allowing Attelus to snatch away his sword. He would've decapitated the stumbling, stunned enemy if the short swordsman hadn't blocked the blow.

Attelus weaved beneath the counter slash and parried the man's thrust, before he threw himself back from the female as she darted at his flank. Swords flashing.

"Obviously you want me alive for some reason," said Attelus through his gasps as he shuffled back to make room. "Now it seems you're trying to kill me! Seems a bit counter productive, doesn't it? You thought I'd be to exhausted from my fight with the Astartes to put up much of a fight. Well! You were wrong."

They didn't reply. Their masks were impassive, but their anger and frustration, almost palpable.

"You're his aren't you?" said Attelus. "You're Etuarq's agents. Sent here to capture me for what ever plan he has for me. Well! I said screw you to fate. So I say the same to you..."

Attelus trailed off in his sentence as he heard the running footfalls, converging from both the north and south.

He glanced north first, thinking it was the reinforcements Kalakor had called for. But they weren't.

A dozen guardsmen approached, they wore battered, bloody deep blue with white trim flak armour and cameleoline cloaks, which whipped and kicked in their wake. Their las guns aimed at him. He froze, they were without doubt, men of the Velrosian 1st.

About four metres away they slid to a stop.

"Well, well!" said a voice to the south. "This is the one you wanted to capture? He doesn't look like much."

Attelus looked to see man of average height approaching, but his bearing made him seem much taller. He the wore a black storm coat and peaked cap of a commissar. His weathered beaten skin was tanned brown and his handsome, smirking features, scared. Two criss crossed his left cheek and another ran from his forehead to his right cheek. He carried an ornate single edged power sword in the grasp of an advanced augmetic hand.

Attelus knew him, well he didn't know him. He knew of him. Hell, every one in Velrosia knew him from countless propaganda holovids and picts.

"Commissar Delan Tathe!" Attelus breathed.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:21 pm

Tathe raised an eyebrow as more Velrosian troopers approached after him, covering Attelus.

"I do not know how you know me, young man" said Tathe. "But please drop the sword, we have you surrounded."

Attelus frowned as first he thought, young man? When Attelus was a child, when he'd heard the stories, Tathe was a commissar cadet and young himself. But that'd been twelve, fifteen years ago so Tathe must now be in his thirties. He looked every one of those years and more.

Attelus gaped as secondly, shock overtook him. How did he know him? How could he not know him? Tathe was a master swordsman, unrivalled in the Elbyran contingent, he'd killed Space Marines! Defeated daemons! After Attelus had studied the actual records of the Elbyran contingent his awe and respect had only grown and grown. The propaganda had neglected the battles against daemonic entities, the Imperium of Mankind guarding their existence from the mindless masses.

Tathe and his teams must've taken out the Sovrithan squads advancing north and southward.

Attelus started to back up the Velrosians enclosing him in, almost surrounding him. The three agents were approaching too. The one Attelus had disarmed had drawn a knife.

"I said," said Tathe. "You are surrounded! Drop the sword! Now!"

Attelus had to fight the urge to do as ordered. Tathe's voice was full of power and authority, it reminded him of Inquisitor Enandra. It reminded him of Raloth.

"I'm sorry," said Attelus. "But I can't let myself get captured, again."

Attelus spun and sprinted north. His inhuman speed caught the guardsmen by surprise. A few opened fire, their las bolts tore through Attelus' wake and there were cries as a few managed to hit a Velrosian in the cross fire. Attelus couldn't help curse.

"Hold your fire!" Tathe bellowed and Attelus sensed the agents running after him.

Two troopers managed to step in Attelus way. He clenched his teeth and shouldered one with such momentum the soldier was sent off his feet and bashing against the wall. The other tried to grasp his flak jacket at him with calloused, thick fingers. Attelus knocked away his hand with a forearm, the man's elbow broke causing him to cry out. Attelus' stolen sword blazed into life and he sliced a widow, causing the glass to shatter inward. He lunged into what seemed an old office block. The cogitators were rusted almost beyond recognition and the desks, turned over or broken apart. Junk covered almost every inch of the vast, cavernous room.

The agents burst in a second after. He heard their light foot falls on the rockcrete floor. Attelus weaved and vaulted through the shattered, smashed interior. He wanted to turn and fight his pursuers, he wanted to test his skill against them, he wanted to kill them. He wanted their blood their blood too…

Attelus shook away the thought and growled through clenched teeth. He couldn't give into the blood thirst, he had to get away. But if he managed to get away, where would he go? South to help Karmen and company? Or north to Adelana, Hayden and Delathasi?

The thought caused pain to course through his chest, it almost made him slow.

"Shit!" he snarled, snatched up a chair and hurled it at his pursuers with all his strength.

Attelus didn't hear a cry just the shatter of it hitting something. He was disappointed but unsurprised and glanced back.

All three were only a few metres behind. Keeping pace. It'd been a long time since someone was able to keep up with him. This just reinforced his belief they were agents of Etuarq.

He weaved aside a turned over table, then leap frogged over a still standing dividing wall. He got his first sight of the wall.

It was without windows, just featureless rockcrete and Attelus cursed again.

He activated his stolen sword's power field. He wouldn't be able to cut a hole quick enough to pass through before they'd be on him.

Attelus launched himself over another desk and slid to a stop before spinning into a side kick smashing it into the air and hurtling at his pursuers.

They scattered and slowed as it crashed and spun and smashed apart.

Attelus ran to the wall and plunged the sword into it. Beginning to cut upward.

He was half way through when the woman was on him. Kicking at his face. Attelus leaned his head aside and threw an elbow at her side that she spun away from.

Both the men charged him at the same time. Attelus side stepped the tall one's kick and parried the other's punch with a palm.

He clutched the sword still in the wall, activated it and kicked at the tall one's shin with his boot knife. It was back stepped and Attelus managed to cut up before being forced to let go by the other's roundhouse kick.

The woman was on him again and she leapt into a hook kick that Attelus ducked. His left hook cracked against her back, sending her sprawling to the floor.

The tall man's front kick made Attelus stumble back and with a desperate hand he grabbed the sword slicing a little more before the shorter one's fist crashed against his back.

Attelus let out a cry, before turning into a side kick which made the man retreat. He ducked the tall one's punch and was forced to block his knee with his crossed fore arms. Attelus kicked the man's leg from under him, sending him smashing on his face. Then the woman was on his flank. She punched him in the side of his neck, then his ribs. Bang! Bang! Bellowing out, Attelus turned on her but someone slipped his arms under Attelus' arm pits in an expert hold.

The woman's fist smashed into Attelus' open solar plexus, then her upper cut connected with his jaw, causing him to see stars and pain to erupt through his face.. The tall man was moving for the sword in the wall. Waiting for the last micro second as the woman threw another punch Attelus' head butted the man holding him hard in the nose with a crunch. The man's grasp weakened, allowing Attelus to slip free and out of the path of the woman's punch. It connected with the stunned attackers chest throwing the off balance man off his feet and to the floor.

Attelus' front kick smashed into the woman's side and sent her smashing against the rockcrete.

With a snarl, Attelus lunged at the tall man with a back-fist.

The man managed to block the blow and sent a short, vicious punch into Attelus' stomach.

Attelus bent double forward, the air knocked out of him.

The man's kick connected with Attelus' hip, causing him to reel back. Attelus kept his footing despite his exhaustion threatening to overwhelm and the pain thundering through him.

Attelus slipped at the agent again with another back-fist. The man knowing Attelus' tired state went to catch the slow attack. It was a feint, it opened his right side so Attelus could pivot into a leopard fist which smashed into the man's armpit. The agent cried out as Attelus clutched his right wrist and elbow, forcing his arm into hyper extension.

Attelus then kicked his boot knife into his armpit.

The man's cry turned into a piercing, agonised shriek. Then Attelus spun and flung him into the other man and woman as they ran his way. They crashed down in a cacophony of cries and flailing limbs.

It was then he heard the shuffling of feet and turned to see the Velrosian troopers were approaching through the broken furnishings.

Attelus turned away. With two quick slashes, he opened a man sized hole in the wall and shoulder barged through, into the street.

Attelus slipped left and pushed his back against the wall in the small street, struggling to slow his haggard breathing and struggling even harder to make a decision.

North? Or south? He needed to choose fast, the agents would be here soon and the troopers with them.

North or south? North or south? North? Or South? A Space Marine and dozens of guardsmen were moving to help Karmen and the others and they had air support! Delathasi and Hayden were captives, hostages and he needed to see...He needed to see her, he needed to make sure she was okay.


Without further hesitation, he turned and started sprinting north.

That was when the shadows themselves seemed to move and two figures materialised. Blocking Attelus' path.

Attelus froze, recognising them.

Scout trooper Dellenger and scout sergeant Adreen, their rifles covering him

Scout trooper Dellenger was legendary for his skill at stealth and close combat back on Velrosia. A master at the unarmed form of Valisuth. Children at Attelus' scholam would bicker about who would win in a fight, Dellenger or Delan Tathe. The true record emphasised this further.

Scout sergeant Adreen was second only in skill to Dellenger, but she was more known for her skill as a leader and tactical acumen.

Their expressions were cold, stern and determined. Adreen was known for her beauty as well as her competence but she too had aged beyond her years. Her skin was tanned brown and wrinkled, scars covered her features. Attelus couldn't help believe she liked her face this way. To buck her attractive connotations.

"Drop the frigging sword," Adreen said.

"Oh frig in hell," said Attelus and turned south, only to find another two scouts ghosting from the shadows a few metres away. He then glimpsed the corpses of the Sovrithan squad scattered behind them.

"Drop it now!" Adreen repeated.

Then the three agents and commissar Tathe emerged from the hole, followed by the other guardsmen.

Attelus hissed through clenched teeth his shoulders, rising and falling in rage.

He had to find Adelana! He had to help his friends!

With a roar, Attelus charged at one of the scouts. But a strong hand grabbed him by the cloak and yanked, taking him off his feet and smashing against blood sand.

Commissar Tathe towered over him and placed the edge of his powersword on his throat.

"I have had it up to here with you," said Tathe, his face grim. "Surrender! Who ever the hell you are. Now let go of the bloody sword!"

Attelus sighed and did as demanded.

The agent retrieved his sword and leaned over Attelus.

"We would like to thank you, Attelus Kaltos," the agent said, in a deep, inhuman, unidentifiable tone. A voice modulator.

"Well that's good, hopefully then you'll forgive me for being so cliché," gasped Attelus.

The agent tilted his head and Attelus spat him in the face.

Attelus expected a punch or something in return but instead the agent laughed.

"Hah!" said the agent, even with the modulation Attelus could hear the smug smile in his tone. "Get him up! We're heading north!"

Attelus walked with a dozen las gun barrels around him. His wrists bound together at his front. Bastard agents of Etuarq had provided them with steel manacles. Steel manacles he couldn't break, no matter how hard he tried. The four scouts had de materialised into the dark to scout ahead.

They'd been moving for about ten minutes now, the Velrosians advanced with such skill and discipline Attelus couldn't help watch with awe.

Over the past three years, he'd worked at improving himself. He could remember people's names and gave up the lhos. He was better at hiding and controlling his emotions. But even if Kalakor hadn't taken his re breather Attelus couldn't have hid his shame. His attention plastered to the ground.

It'd been one frig up after another. First idiotically splitting his team up, then falling for that trap, then getting bitten on the thigh, then getting captured, then getting lured into revealing his skill to Kalakor, then getting captured again! Speaking of Kalakor, where the hell was the Space Marine? He should've heard the ambush, he should've came back to help.

Attelus hurt and ached all over. But it was nothing compared to the pain of his beaten pride, he'd failed. He'd failed as a fighter, he'd failed as a leader and-

"Why did you forget to tell me he was like you?" a voice demanded it caused Attelus to break from his self pity and look to see Commissar Tathe talking with the two male agents a few metres ahead. He caught two female troopers looking at him in the process, causing them to snap their attentions away.

"It was our responsibility to capture him," said the shorter male with the curved sword. "You did not need to know."

"I think we did," said Tathe. "I am sure we did! We were lucky he didn't kill any of my men! We have to hold him what if this freak escaped and we weren't prepared?"

Attelus couldn't help flinch when his childhood hero called him a 'freak.'

"First commissar," said the taller agent his voice was modulated as well. "Your men are Imperial Guard they are destined to die if we agents of the inquisition deem it so. Second he would not have escaped for we would make sure you had the equipment to make it impossible for him and third if we deemed that you did not need to know information, then you do not need to know it. Understood, Commissar?"

The commissar's jaw set, his eyes wide with rage. "I will be talking to your leader about this."

"And forth," said the female agent as she pushed up to them. "It is idiotic to speak of this in front of the prisoner, now shut it and keep moving!"

Attelus smiled. He couldn't let his self pity over take him, he needed to concentrate, he needed to listen. He needed to start manipulating this to his own ends.

Then in the north las fire came into life followed by explosion after explosion. The familiar sound of battle.

Attelus' heart sank as he realised where it was coming from.

The Sovrithan camp.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:50 am

The battle in the north escalated and escalated and it wasn't just because they were getting closer. Blood curdling screams.

It was when Attelus heard chainswords and psychotic roars, he realised what was going on. Why the curved swordsman had thanked him earlier.

"Clever bastards," he hissed beneath his breath.

The female's attention snapped to him. Her face was hidden behind that mask but Attelus knew she was smiling.

He also knew who she was, who they all were. It wasn't just their weapons which gave them away but the way they fought, the two males had been taught by his father. The female wielded her twin blades like Delathasi, like Glaitis. Like Elandria. Although devoid of a lot of fancy.

If they were who he thought they were, none of them had improved their skill. Unlike him.

Attelus studied Commissar Tathe. The war hero was adept at hiding his emotions, but not to a trained throne agent. Tathe didn't like this, he didn't like the agents. Didn't trust them, but there something Attelus would never have imagined Tathe would be capable of, fear. The Commissar was scared of them. Tathe also kept stealing glances at Attelus. Studying, wondering. Attelus could only guess what Tathe was thinking. Perhaps, he was wondering why Attelus hadn't killed any of his men? Perhaps he'd realised Attelus had a Velrosian accent? He wouldn't put it past Tathe. Or perhaps Attelus was just be over thinking it.

Naively hoping that his childhood hero would prove an ally.

He sighed. Jelcine Enandra was wrong to appoint him the leader of the assignment, he had no doubt. He was biased, sentimental. But it was too late for her to take that back, he just had to get over it and keep his head. Lead in a way that'd make Raloth proud.

Another, larger explosion caused Attelus to flinch and brought him back to reality. He clenched his jaw, hoping beyond hope that Adelana was alive in the horrific carnage.

They turned another corner, onto a main boulevard and he saw the corpses, dozens of them scattered about in the uniform of the Sovrithan guardsmen. Standing or sitting around were more Velrosian troopers. Some smoked Lhos, all seemed relaxed, almost ill disciplined. But Attelus knew they were alert, ready to react in a split second. Only the best had such casual confidence.

Attelus had to fight the sudden urge to sprint as he caught a glimpse of Hayden, Delathasi and Adelana. They sat in the middle of the soldiers all tied up, Adelana's head was wrapped in a bandages. Attelus' relief was all encompassing and he had to stop himself from jumping for joy.

A soldier in the uniform of a sergeant approached.

"Commissar!" he saluted. "We have taken their prisoners as you ordered!"

"Good work, Ultrith" said Tathe.

"Yes, good work," said the curved swordsman, sounding as condescending as hell.

Ultrith ignored him and Attelus furrowed his brow. Were they trying to make the Velrosian guardsmen hate them on purpose?

"We have attacked the Sovrithan and set off the planted charges. drawing out the Resurrected on the Sovrithans," said Ultrith. "They should be distracted another hour. The distraction allowed us to infiltrate and take the prisoners."

The Resurrected? What the hell did he mean by that?

Where the hell was Kalakor?

"The mission was a success, then?" said the tall agent.

Ultrith looked into the man's mask with admirable courage.

"Y-yes sir," he said.

"Take the prisoners," said the female agent. "We need to get back to head quarters."

"Yes mamzel," said Tathe. "Ultrith!"

"Yes, commissar!"

When Adelana and the others were picked up and ushered into the middle with Attelus. Attelus couldn't help smile. His relief washing away his disgust at the Velrosians. Adelana met his eyes and he felt his heart flutter as she smiled back.

He wanted to kiss her, more now than ever before and he knew she was the same.

They were so involved in staring at each other that it took a few shoves from their captives to make them move.

"Move it, lover boy," growled one of the troopers.

As they started Attelus stole a glance at the female agent, catching her watching. Her body language subtly showing anger.

He fought back a smile and as Attelus looked away he glimpsed Hayden. It was for a split second, but there was no denying the anger in his face. It took Attelus aback, what the hell was the sniper pissed so off about?

Or on second thought, what wasn't the sniper pissed off about?

"Adelana! Hayden, Delathasi," said Attelus. "I...I am so happy to see you're okay."

"Yes," snapped Hayden. "No thanks to you."

Attelus frowned, more hurt than he should've been.

"And not for much longer, I think," said Delathasi.

"I just hope the others will be okay," said Adelana.

"The prisoners will be silent!" snarled the female agent. "Or the consequence will not be enjoyable!"

The curved swordsman laughed, it was unnerving through his voice modulator.

"It wouldn't be enjoyable for them," he said. "But it would for me."

For a good hour hour they walked east, in careful, complete silence.

During that time the sun rose and Attelus couldn't help watch it whenever allowed a view through the streets. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Made of golds, yellows and reds echoed through the cloudless sky. Waving outward almost like a northern Borealia, Attelus had never seen one but he'd read about it as a child.

A few times Attelus couldn't help but slow, so shoved onward.

After about half an hour the blood sands began to fall and rise in hills of varying angles. But the sand never rose higher than five stories.

Attelus heard gun fire echoing from far off skirmishes. Six times either Dellenger, Adreen or another scout would materialise to talk to Tathe. They spoke in hushed tones but Attelus could hear their every word, warning the commissar of potential fights ahead. They'd soon turn off course, giving the battles wide birth.

Also, Attelus couldn't help keep looking at Adelana. Many times she met his look and smiled.

He realised that he was wrong, he shouldn't have gone north earlier.

Even though he was forced into this he didn't know the condition of Karmen and company. But he at least had an idea of Adelana, Delathasi and Hayden. Karmen and the others were engaged, in direct danger even with the support of the Guncutter, they would've needed his help and if they'd defeated the cultists, they could've headed north together to rescue Adelana and the others- his chest ached at this ignorance.

Why had they come in the Guncutter? Why had they risked themselves so? And the Guncutter?

The thought caused a shock of fear to course through Attelus.

If the Guncutter was destroyed they'd be stranded on this Emperor forsaken world.

On second thought, Attelus, wouldn't be. He could escape by blowing his own brains out. But that would mean abandoning his comrades and Attelus wasn't know that he could.

He wanted to talk to Hayden, who just glared forward the entire time. Ask the sniper what was wrong. Attelus was afraid Hayden might tear into him, but he needed the critique no matter how harsh it maybe. Delathasi glanced about, her eyes drinking in every inch of their surroundings.

She was more professional than Attelus at her age and perhaps even now.

They found a huge, twenty lane wide overpass on the northern outskirts- which emerged from the blood sands like a huge whale breaching the sea. It rose up a good seven stories. Attelus knew it was the beginning of a large motor way which led straight to the city of Deveroa and the small towns littering the north.

They approached from the west, emerging from a street about eighty metres away- allowing Attelus to see a good part of the overpass was hidden behind a tall, ramshackle wall made from bits of tanks and rockcrete. He couldn't help be even more impressed by the Elbyran contingent. It must've taken weeks to build such a fortification. It was most likely the Marangerian 1st regiment who'd built it, being heavy shock troops skilled in siege warfare.

Maranger was the eastern neighbour of Velrosia, the largest country on Elbyra in terms of size. Many times over the past two thousand five hundred years Velrosia and Maranger had been at war, Velrosia had once been a part of the Marangerian Empire, but had separated after a bloody revolution. Maranger had invaded almost right away but the Velrosian revolutionaries beat them back in a gruelling guerilla war. It was then the scouts were founded and they've been the elite of the Velrosian military since. Their skill at stealth and infiltration bypassed the skill of the Marangerian soldiers at defending their walls if they ever took a Velrosian fortress or city.

Since the coming of the Imperium, Velrosia and Maranger had put aside the past then developed into excellent trading partners and their regiments worked well together.

Just as they began to ascend the freeway, the Velrosian scouts melted from the shadows. There were ten and Attelus couldn't help again be amazed they managed to yet again, fool his enhanced senses and they fell in step with Tathe and the others.

Tathe voxed ahead their approach and soon they turned onto the freeway. Lines of chest high sand bag walls led up the road, scattered seemingly chaotically but it was tactical, every wall covered the other and would force any attacker into choke points in their advance. Behind the wall were dozens of Guardsmen mostly in the dark red carapace armour of the Marangerians, a few in the orange of the Despasian 1st heavy weapon regiment and the grey of the Galak Heim 1st rifles. The set up for the Elbyran contingent was unorthodox to say the least. That was general Tathe's idea, declaring that each nation would keep it's identity and military speciality yet be one in the same would invite a healthy, friendly rivalry between the regiments.

It had so far been proven true as each regiment had excelled, especially when working together.

The guardsmen watched them as they walked through, respectfully nodding or saluting Tathe and the Velrosians. Many gazed at the 'throne agents' with obvious fear and to Attelus' surprise, sometimes hatred.

He shouldn't have been surprised, in all honesty.

When they came to the large, primitive gate they were greeted by a big, broad shouldered brute Marangerian captain and a squad of ten Marangerians. On the sides of the entrance were two heavy bolters on tripods, each with a two man Despasian team.

"Took your damned time!" said the captain in a heavy Marangerian accent, a gritty, gruff nasally drawl.

Tathe grinned. "There is such a thing as being methodical and professional. You do know that, right? If you did, you certainly had me fooled, Valketh."

Valketh grinned back and shrugged. "Ahhaha! As sharp tongued as always, commissar! Good to see you made it back!"

"It's good to be back, captain," said Tathe and they clapped each other on the shoulder. "Our mission a success, as well."

Valketh leaned to look over Tathe's shoulder, at Attelus and company.

"Hmm," he said. "What do they want from them?"

"'They?'" said the female agent. "We are here, captain. Do not talk of us as if we are not! Hurry it up and open the gate, we do not have more time to waste!"

Valketh's expression turned murderous, but he reached to his microbead and said.

"It's them! Open it up!" He bashed the door with a large fist.

With a loud screech, it slowly opened inward on what was once wheels for tank treads, pulled by six guardsmen with a rope.

Without further word, they started into the makeshift fortress. Valketh watched the agents, his face still riddled with anger.

They ignored him and inside, was a camp not dissimilar to the Sovrithan's. Dozens of guardsmen watched them with undisguised interest. They sat or stood scattered about, or around metal barrels containing fires.

Attelus' heart sank with empathy. He didn't know how or why they were here like this, but Attelus could imagine it was hell.

Attelus wondered what horrors awaited them in the depths of the city.

"Sergeant," said the curved swordsman with out looking at Adreen. "Take the two females and the taller male to the prisoner tent. We will take Attelus Kaltos to our master for interrogation, understood?"

Adreen's scarred features were neutral as she nodded and with quick hands, ordered her men to take Hayden, Adelana and Delathasi and with them, the scouts peeled off into the camp. Adelana's eyes met his as she was shoved away, her beautiful blue eyes wide. It took all of Attelus' will power to tear his gaze from hers.

Attelus sighed which elicited a glare from the female agent. Yet again he was to be separated from his friends...And Adelana.

For another minute they walked, approaching a tent at least three times the size of the others. During that time Attelus lost himself in thought. He'd lost forgot the reason why they'd come to Sarkeath. The Exterminatus that general Tathe had requested, they needed to find out more about that. Question the Velrosian about it, but with the agents of Etuarq so close that'd prove impossible for now.

He needed to find general Tathe.

Despite all his failures so far it was somewhat sobering knowing his enemy had brought him right where he needed to be. He also had a feeling that Kalakor hadn't attacked so he could tail them, that the Space Marine near, watching. Perhaps even waiting to rescue them. Attelus doubted the Marine would help them, though.

Two large brutes in beetle black carapace armour stood in stoic guard at the entrance flaps, holding hot shot las guns.

The three agents stopped and turned back to Tathe and the others.

"That is all," said the tall one. "Leave, we have no need of you now."

"Yes, thank you" said Tathe through clenched teeth then he and the Velrosian troopers turned and stomped off into the camp.

"Move!" snarled the female as she hooked her hand under his arm and pulled him onward.

Attelus frowned and slipped into the tent.

A man stood in middle of the tent, he was slender, long limbed but of average height. He wore a brown flak jacket over a black bodyglove and at his throat was an Inquisitorial rosette of the Ordo Xenos. His brown hair was slicked back and his eyes a stark blue. His features were sharp, his skin weathered and red. His scowling face unreadable as he looked at Attelus underneath a hooded brow.

"All of you, out," he said, his voice soft but full of authority. "I wish to speak with the prisoner alone."

"Yes master," said the agents in unison and did as ordered, Attelus didn't bother looking at them his attention fixated on their leader.

"Attelus Xanthis Kaltos," he said.

"Father," said Attelus.

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:18 pm

Delan Tathe stormed into his tent, tossed away his hat and sat on his cot. He sighed, hunched and palmed his eyes. For two days he hadn't slept, it'd taken all that time to plan and organise the ambush of the Sovrithan camp and the capture of that freak of a pretty boy. All at the behest of that damned Inquisitor.

Inquisitor Tolbik had claimed the Sovrithans were traitors. Lost like the Resurrected in heresy, but what the scouts had reported during their surveillance seemed to show otherwise.

Tathe had wanted to bring this to the Inquisitor, tell him he doubted the legitimacy of his claims but he found he couldn't. The Inquisitor and his people scared him. They had fought at the fore many times in their skirmishes against the Resurrected. Their speed and reflexes rivalled the Dark Eldar. Their skill incredible. Tathe was a swordsman of great talent. Countless upon countless enemies had fallen to his blade. Everything ranging from Chaos Space Marines to Tyranids but even he couldn't help baulk at their ability.

He wasn't afraid to die. He was afraid at what death they would wrought through his guardsmen if they stood up to the Inquisitor. Not even Dellenger could stand up to one of them. The scout's martial arts skill in unarmed Valisuth was incredible but he was no swordsman and the throne agent's stealth abilities almost rivalled his.

But then he'd seen that young man, this Attelus Kaltos, manage to fight off all three single handed. His reflexes rivalled theirs, exceeded theirs. The young man's reaction to seeing Tathe was like that of a fan, like many a raw recruit shipped from Elbyra over the years, that'd bought into the propaganda. It was also the boy's accent, it sounded Velrosian. Very Velrosian.

But what got to Tathe the most was his attempted escape. The boy seemed to try his hardest to avoid causing casualties to Tathe's men despite seeming more than capable of it. If he'd fought, gone for the throat he could've escaped, Tathe was sure of it.

"Excuse me, commissar," said a voice that he knew belonged to trooper Vannir. "But Scout sergeant Adreen and scout trooper Dellenger are here to see you."

Tathe sighed and rubbed his eyes. "Send them in."

As silent as always the two scouts slipped through the flaps.

"What do you think?" said Tathe.

Adreen smiled. "That that the boy is really in love with that pretty young red head."

Tathe smiled back.

"Huh?" said Dellenger. "Really?"

There was no sarcasm in the scout's tone and it caused Tathe to shake his head.

"I am thinking what you are, sir," said Adreen.

Tathe nodded, knowing they would need no more words on the matter. He and Adreen had a complicated relationship. They'd been...on and off many times over the years. They were on an off time now but they'd never let it get in the way of their profession. Sometimes he swore she could read his mind and he could read hers. He smiled to himself as he recalled his terror of women he had in his youth. That had long ago gone, that a long with his ruthless disciplinarian attitude and brash nature. He was too old now, too wearied by war and it's horrific nature. But he knew nothing else.

There was only war, war was what ruled this galaxy. War was the import and export of the Imperium of Mankind in the 41st millennium and war and killing was Tathe's bread and butter.

He just never suspected that he would have to make war against his father.

Tathe sighed. "All right, get some rest you two. You need it almost as much as me. I'll get you when Sergeant Deltor returns with his squad."

Dellenger looked sidelong at Tathe. "Do you think it wise to go behind the Inquisitor's back like that?"

"No," said Tathe. "It's not even the smart thing to do, Dellenger. But it's the right thing to do."

Tathe's microbead crackled into life. "Sir?" It was Valketh. "Deltor and his boys have arrived, do ya want us ta let 'em in?"

"No," said Tathe as he stood. "We will meet them out there, thank you, Valketh."

Tathe looked at Adreen and Dellenger. "You two want to come?"

Adreen grinned. "Wouldn't miss it for the 'verse, Delan."

They met Deltor at the base of the freeway. Deltor was Velrosian, his blue flak armour near to ruin as was the same of his squad. A squad that had started with twenty men on deployment, but was now reduced to nine. Deltor was a tall, slender, plain faced man in his late twenties. He was one of the more recent influx not long after the war for Elbyra ten years ago. But had proven himself as one of the most reliable sergeants in the regiment, his squad had taken after his example. Becoming excellent veterans each, rivalling many of the more senior squads in the Velrosian 1st.

"Sir!" said Deltor, saluting.

"At ease, Deltor," said Tathe with a wave. "Tell me, did you find anything?"

Deltor nodded. "When you sent us to search the Sovritian camp, during the attack, I didn't have a clue why you did and why you wanted to keep it a secret from-"

Deltor paused and nodded at the encampment. "His highness, but now I know."

Nodding, Tathe kept his expression neutral, he didn't have any real reason to send Deltor and his squad in beside his general suspicions, but he wasn't going to admit that.

"Trooper Gail?" said Deltor and she stepped forward, holding out what seemed a sheathed long sword to Tathe.

Tathe took it with a nod and drew it. It was a powersword of masterful make and perfect balance, yet it was simple of design, lacking any ostentation.

"An amazing weapon," said Tathe. "One of the most brilliant swords I have ever seen, rivals my own I would say. Where did you find it?"

"It was among the weapons the Sovirthians had taken from the captives we were taking," said Gail and the young trooper looked at Deltor who gave her a nod. "Uhh I recognised it, sir."


"I am from northern Velrosia, sir," said Gail. "I lived in the city of Quarenburg, grew up there as a child."

"Okay," said Tathe, uncertain where this was going.

"I was in the PDF when the chaos invasion started," said Gail. "But I'd been stationed in the south when the bombing started."

"Yes, I have read your file, trooper," said Tathe, his patience waning. "Get to your point, please."

Gail withered from his intensity. "I-I am about to get to that, sir! Uhh this was the sword of the Erith house. The family who ruled over my province, sir. I last heard it'd been found in the rubble and had been placed into a museum in Varander. The whole Erith line having died in the war."

Tathe froze. "What? Are you sure?"

"Y-yes I am sure, sir. My family and me used to watch lord Erith taking part in the Valisuth duels with it. Without the power field on, of course."

Tathe spent a few more seconds studying the magnificent sword then sheathed it faster than the others could blink.

"Interesting," he said.

Attelus stared at Serghar as countless emotions roiled through him, each vying for control. But Attelus didn't show Serghar anything of his inner turmoil.

In silence, Serghar Kaltos studied Attelus through narrowed eyes. It felt like forever as they just stood.

It was Serghar who broke the silence and Attelus had to fight from flinching. He'd fallen into some sort of trance without knowing it.

"You do not seem surprised to see me," he said.

Attelus couldn't help feel his eyes widen, that was one of the few emotions he hadn't felt. "No, I'm more surprised that you would think I would be surprised to see you, father. I knew you were involved in this a long time ago. In fact I'm more surprised that we haven't run into each other sooner. Since those things attacked me, I knew they were yours and your masters sycophants. That meant that it was likely you would be here."

Serghar shrugged. "Always so logical, one of the few traits you inherited from me."

"It's called deductive reasoning, father. I didn't inherit it from you. I learned it."

Serghar's scowl deepened and there was another long silence.

"Why?" said Attelus, despite all his effort to keep from saying it.

"Why what?"

"Why did you leave me back on Elbyra? Why are you helping Etuarq? Why the hell would you set me up to be responsible for the destruction of Omnartus? To make your son have to live with the deaths of billions on his conscience? Why? What could I have possibly done to deserve this?"

"I deem that you do not need to know any of that," said Serghar. "I am your father, Attelus Xanthis Kaltos so you must accept what I say as truth."

"What? Just because you are my father I must believe everything you say?"

"Yes, you owe me, Attelus. You owe me everything. If it wasn't for me you wouldn't exist, you wouldn't be standing here whining like a little bitch. So you must accept that I can do whatever I like with you, put you through whatever I please. In fact you should be happy. Happy that you were born for a purpose. That fate itself was manipulated for your existence. You are privileged, my son. You must see this."

Attelus gaped, lost for words.

Serghar pulled out a bottle of Amasec from his desk and poured a measure into a battered tin cup and sighed. "You could argue that the same could be said about your mother, that she too had equal say in your fate, well, no. She was just a woman, a no body. Destined for nothing. Fate dictated she would just to die on Elbyra like millions of others in that war-"

"Don't you dare!" Attelus snarled. "Don't you dare talk like that about my mother!"

Anger glazed Serghar's eyes, but he kept calm. "I may 'dare' talk however I like about whomever I wish, boy. Your feelings do not matter what you believe does not matter. And you have no right to tell me to do anything. Your mother was meaningless, that is a statement of fact. You have no right to even consider otherwise."

"Why? Just because I you're my father!"

"That alone merits it, yes. But even further is that I am your better. I had garnered ten times the achievements than you have by your age. You are a disappointment. The only achievement I can be somewhat proud of was how well you danced on our strings toward the destruction of Omnartus. You are still influenced by the foolish notions of sentiment and love and all that other shit that has no meaning in this galaxy. I had hoped Glaitis would have beaten that out of you, but she proved as useless as she was worthless. Just yet another pussy for me to frig."

Serghar sculled back his amasec. "Just like your frigging useless mother."

Rage overtook Attelus and before he knew it, he was lunging at Serghar. Fingers clawing for his throat.

Faster than thought, Serghar punched him in the face. Agony exploded through Attelus' cheek and he careened onto the floor.

In a split second Serghar's foot was between Attelus shoulder blades, pining him down. Then more pain lanced through the back of Attelus' skull.

Serghar gripped Attelus by the hair and pulled his head back. "You really are such a disappointment, my son. Allowing your anger control you like that."

A fist smashed into the side of Attelus' head and he blacked out for a second.

"You have no right to be angry at me. I am your father!"

Serghar's foot let off, then it stomped Attelus in the ribs forcing Attelus' onto his back

"You know, I never had the privilege of ever knowing my father," snarled Serghar as he back fisted Attelus across the jaw. "I never knew of the great and glorious fate that was meant for me. I give you these things. I give you a future. I give you the privilege of knowing me. Yet you still question me, attack me. You are lucky that we need you, or else I would send your soul screaming into the warp, here and now. You are still a useful investment, despite your idiocy."

Attelus fought back the tears and the agony. He didn't remember his father ever being like this. Serghar had always been cold and distant but, still caring and kind in his own way. What the hell happen? Was it all just an act?

"Get up," said Serghar and he kicked Attelus again. "Get up. What good is all that training I gave you, huh? All those hours I invested in you. The enhancement that Eldar bitch gave you? Get up or I will have one of your 'friends' killed. Which one first? The tall girl? The one who was once one of Glaitis' sycophants? Or the pretty red head you seem so fond of?"

Attelus did as told with horrific slowness and he turned to Serghar. To find his father's fist crunch into his face and Attelus was sent writhing to the floor again.

"It sickens me that I have to threaten my own son to co-operate with me," said Serghar. "I shouldn't have to, I really shouldn't."

"Well," said Attelus as he began to climb to his feet again. "Think of it as a screw you and in this galaxy you don't always get it the way you want."

Serghar laughed much to Attelus' surprise. "Perhaps. If that wasn't true the chaos gods would be dead, along with all the xenos races."

Attelus couldn't help frown, wasn't Etuarq aligned with the gods of chaos? Or at least one of them.

"So that's why I'm here," said Attelus, meeting Serghar's impassive gaze. "That's why you lured us here, because you need me to do something for you. I knew you and Etuarq-"

Serghar's kick smashed into Attelus' side and again to the ground.

"That is Inquisitor Etuarq to you, boy," said Serghar as he pushed Attelus' face into the floor. "Show him the respect he deserves."

Attelus fought the urge to point out that Etuarq was no longer an Inquisitor.

Serghar ground Attelus' face against the rockcrete for several seconds but it felt like forever as the pain tore through him. When his father stepped off, Attelus began to slow arduous climb yet again.

"Did...Was the report of general Tathe requesting the Exterminatus true? Or just a false message to lure us in?"

"It was true," said Serghar. "Yet another successful Exterminatus for our cause. Why do you think he's turned traitor? He let the guilt of his act overtake him. The weak, pitiful fool. Our mission is to put him down as well as retrieve the blade."


Serghar smiled. It was more than just unsettling. "Yes, my son and fate has dictated that both are in the same place. The tower."

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Re: Secret War: Upon Blood Sands Mature Themes- lots of violence, some gore, swearing, all the good stuff

Post by Adrassil » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:32 am

Adelana knelt in a tent with Hayden and Delthasi. Two troopers stood over them while another two were at the entrance. She sighed, it seemed like the same shit, different day now.

"This is ridiculous," said Delathasi, the first words uttered in hours.

"I know," sighed Hayden. "We're meant to be professionals and yet here we are."

"We're, we're just down on our luck is all," said Adelana, trying her best to sound optimistic.

Hayden snorted. "Luck hasn't anything to do with it, Adelana. We're here because fate had been manipulated for us to be here. So the enemy can use us as hostages so Attelus will co-operate with them."

"You don't know that," said Adelana.

"No," said Hayden. "I don't, but call it a really, really educated guess. Everything seems to revolve around him, Adelana. Everything. Coming here was a huge mistake. I see that now. Should've seen that the moment we stepped on this Emperor forsaken planet. If it wasn't for him we wouldn't be here. If it wasn't for him your world would still be alive. If it wasn't for his sentimentality toward his Velrosian heroes we wouldn't have been captured."


"Adelana, I know you're in love with him and he's in love with you. But please stop defending him. You know I'm right."

Adelana flinched, feeling her face flush. "I'm not- he's not!"

Hayden locked her with a grim stare.

"All right," said Adelana. "You're right. So what do you think we should do? Huh?"

"I think all of you need to just shut it," said a deep voice and the female agent swaggered into the tent. She still wore her mask but Adelana could feel the contempt in her stare.

"Hm," said Hayden. "I thought that you would be happy to hear us bickering and plotting."

The agent shrugged. "It also means you might be plotting to escape. Do not even think about it."

"Thinking and talking aren't the same thing," said Adelana.

The agent's attention snapped to Adelana, then she knelt in front of her with such inhuman swiftness that Adelana couldn't help flinch.

She studied Adelana for what seemed an age.

"You really are as pretty as they say," she said and placed her hand on Adelana's cheek as though to pull her into a kiss. "And a smart arse too. Just like him."

"Don't touch her!" Hayden snarled.

The agent's attention snapped to him. "Or what? You foolish old sniper? Do you think I am afraid of you? Or death? I have faced worse than what you could ever imagine. I do not fear you, nor anyone."

The agent stood and turned as the tent flaps burst open and the two other agents entered, carrying Attelus between them.

"Attelus!" Adelana couldn't help cry when she saw just how badly beaten he was.

The two agents froze as they saw the female.

"Agent 2k-3," said the one with the curved sword. "What are you doing here?"

The female flinched. "I am here to make sure the prisoners do not think of escaping."

The male with the short sword tilted his head. "That implies you believe they are capable of escaping when they are obviously not. The master said so, so that implies you are questioning the master."

"No!" cried the female with surprising fear. "I am not! I just-"

"Leave. Go Back to your duties, agent 2k-3," said the curved swordsman. "Or do you wish us to inform the master of-"

"No, I will leave immediately," she said, then started out, setting Adelana what seemed like a glare the entire way.

One she was gone, the two males threw Attelus on the ground and without any word, left.

"Attelus," Adelana said. She realised that his feet were chained together. "Are you okay?"

She said it just a second before realising how stupid the question was.

"Yeah, I'm okay, Adelana," he said. "I've had worse."

"Did you fall down stairs, again?" said Hayden.

Attelus barked out a laugh. "No not this time, Hayden. My father, it was my father who did this to me."

There was a long, weighted pause.

"Your father?" said Delthasi in hushed awe. "Serghar Kaltos? He is here? On Sarkeath?"

"Yes," said Attelus. "Or perhaps, he isn't. He isn't the Serghar Kaltos, I knew."

Adelana wanted more than anything to give him embrace him there and then.

"He's like Glaitis now, Hayden," he said. "But worse, far, far worse."

"So Serghar Kaltos is the master of these agents, then," said Hayden. "No wonder the female seemed to fear him so much."

"They're all afraid of him," said Attelus. "Even commissar Tathe, and I doubt he even knows of my father's legacy."

Adelana swallowed. Attelus had taught her of is father. That he was said to be the greatest assassin of the Calixis sector and one of their enemy's senior lieutenants.

"What do they want?" said Hayden.

Attelus groaned as he rolled onto his side to face them. "They need a sword. A blade whose origin that my father won't or can't tell me about. It's called the Blade of Kalncerak, a daemon blade I'm assuming. It can apparently..."

He paused and his gaze met Adelana's. "Rip out souls. Consume them, completely."

Adelana raised an eyebrow, unsure why he'd looked at her like that, as if he thought she knew some great secret.

"Uh huh," said Hayden. "Why do they need us to get it? And why do they need it?"

Attelus sighed. "I'm going to be honest with you, all of you. They need me to retrieve it."

"Why do they need you to retrieve it?" said Hayden. "And there I'm right. Didn't I say that this was about him, Delathasi? Adelana?"

Adelana and Delthasi didn't respond. Adelana just dropped her gaze to the floor.

"They need me to retrieve it because, I'm not exactly human, Hayden."

"Yeah we got that, Attelus," said Hayden sarcastically.

"Well, you yourself aren't exactly human any more," said Attelus. "Your eyes are frigging augmetics. That's one of the reasons you can shoot so well!"

"Yes, well-"

"Yes well, nothing!" Attelus said. "It goes deeper than just my abilities. And like you, I never asked for this. This is yet another secret I've been keeping, not just from you Hayden and the other. But even from Adelana and Karmen. It's about time you know. I think you need to know, to understand what's happening."

He paused. "I never asked to be immortal."

Jelket turned from the window he was watching from, his attention drawn by Karmen's loud gasp as she returned to her body.

"Karmen," said Vark as he knelt next to her. "Mamzel? Are you all right?"

"Yes," said Karmen, but her weak voice told otherwise. "I'm fine, thank you, Vark."

Vark took out a flask and handed it to her. Karmen took it and had a long drink.

"I am assuming that you didn't find them?" said Vark.

"No," sighed Karmen. "No sign."

Jelket tore his gaze away and back into the street below. He had to fight to keep his eyes open. The exhaustion threatened to take over in any second and the pain through out his body, overwhelming. They'd taken shelter on the twentieth floor of a large hab block, it wasn't as run down as the other buildings but still felt like it was minutes away from collapsing.

"Jelket?" said a voice and he spun, Hell gun raised to find himself aiming it right in Verenth's face.

Before Jelket could blink, Verenth had drawn his stubb revolver and pointed it between Jelket's eyes.

For a few seconds they stood in silence before Jelket lowered his Hell gun.

"I'm sorry,"he sighed. "I'm just a little jumpy."

Verenth nodded and holstered his pistol. "Understandable. After what we just lived through. I'm here to take over watch, Jelket. You really need some rest, mate. You look as though you've taken a walk into the immaterium and back."

Jelket nodded, and blinked back the fatigue. "Yeah, you're right, Verenth. Thanks."

He walked past Verenth further into the building.

"Jelket," said Karmen, causing him to stop and turn to her. She looked up at him, her stark blue eyes intense despite her obvious pain and exhaustion. "We'll get through this. We will find a way."

Jelket frowned. "Yeah, maybe. Only if you don't mind control all of us into sacrificing ourselves, again."

Karmen flinched and her gaze fell to the floor. It caused a jolt of guilt to course through Jelket, he was tried, unable to hold it back.

"I will never live that down, will I?" she said. "I wouldn't do that, again. Even if I could, Jelket. I'm sorry. They were your friends and allies. You have every right to hate me. I won't even try to ask your forgiveness."

Jelket found himself unable to say anything and he turned, then started down the corridor. He shouldn't have snapped like that, Karmen was just trying to be encouraging and here he was jumping down her throat.

The walls, the floor here like everywhere were etched with dark crimson. He'd gotten over his initial paranoia of breathing the air and taken off his re breather, as did the others. This world was corrupted it wouldn't make any difference whether they breathed the air or not.

They were going to be corrupted, it wasn't a matter of if, but when. It wasn't a subject they'd broached upon. Attelus was, despite his self confessed cynicism, was too idealistic to even consider it. Or he assumed everyone had been through hell like him, and had the same level of inhuman willpower.

Karmen did, but Jelket wasn't sure about the rest, but was sure he would fall. Jelket had fought chaos, he knew that even the most puritan and dedicated could fall. At times the most puritan were the first, this was due to their arrogance and ignorance. Believing themselves immune to the taint. Due to their black and white views and lack of self awareness, they can be manipulated. That was what made Jelket worry the most about Vark.

The though caused Jelket to look over his shoulder at the Storm Trooper to see he was helping Karmen to her feet. It displayed impressive strength as she wore her power armour.

Jelket paused at the next door. He knew what was in there, but no matter how much he needed sleep he had to check and he stepped inside.

It was once a large hab unit, the kinds that only a high level administratum official or an advisor for the planetary government. All the remains of the once opulent furniture were dumped in a corner. A huge window looked out onto the eternal blood desert. Such a pointless view for such an expensive place.

On two cots laid the injured. Medicae Halsin All of them had suffered injuries in their escape but poor Torris and Helma were the worst. Their writhing caused their cots to squeak and creak in sympathy.

Torris and her had been the rear guard.

The boom of Torris' shot gun eclipsed the fire of Jelket's, Helma's and Vark's Hell guns as well as Verenth's pistols. They ran down the street as a horde of cultists and guardsmen stormed after them. In the spans of seconds, Jelket must've cut down dozens of the bastards. As did everyone else, but still they kept coming. They bellowed and howled like beasts. Brandishing their bloody blades and chainswords.

Despite the pain it caused her, Karmen had protected them with brief kine shields from the guardsmen's las fire.

"I can't hold it up for much longer!" Karmen said. "Darrance!"

A second later the roar of the Guncutter filled Jelket's ears and it appeared above the left buildings.

"Got you," said Darrance over the vox and the Guncutter rained heavy bolter fire into the horde.

It was enough to thin the crowd but still they surged on, undeterred by the slaughter through their midst. It just seemed to enrage them more and they charged into Torris and Helma.

Helma drew her mono molecular short sword while Torris bashed in the skull of a cultist with the butt of his shot gun. Verenth, Vark and Jelket moved to their aid, attaching. Jelket and Vark knives to their bayonet lugs. But it happened too fast. Torris took down another seven, using his shot gun like a club, he dodged and parried enemy attacks with a grace and agility belying his bulk. One cultist managed to by pass his defence and stab him through the hip. Torris didn't make a sound as he fell, blood pouring from his wound but he still managed to punch the cultist in the throat as he collapsed.

Jelket was no swordsman but even he could appreciate Helma's skill. She cut down enemy after enemy, but lasted less than a second more than Torris. As a knife was plunged into the soft gap of her elbow.

It might have seemed Jelket watched this while standing by. But it happened so fast all of this occurred while he, Verenth and Vark ran a few metres. All the while shooting from the hip.

Jelket and Verenth cut down the cultists nearest to Helma and Torris. Jelket grabbed Torris and Verenth took up Helma, while Vark gave them cover fire. The bark of Karmen's bolter joined the cacophony. The enemy were so packed in it was impossible to miss.

Jelket growled through clenched teeth as he hauled Torris over his shoulder and started to run. Turning his back on the horde despite his every instinct screaming not to. He placed his faith in his friends.

"Shit!" Darrance said. "We've got enemy guardsmen on the roofs! They have anti air weaponry!"

Jelket managed a look back, just in time to see the Guncutter weave through streams of rocket fire. It turned and fired on the roof.

"There's too many! If even one hits me!"

Darrance let it hang.

"Yes! Go!" said Karmen.

"I am sorry," said Darrance and flew off.

"Are you all right there?" said a voice, knocking Jelket from his flashback. Halsin looked at him with a bemused expression.

"I'm fine, sorry. I'm just thinking," said Jelket.

Halsin nodded. "Understandable, considering the circumstances."

"Why?" said Jelket.

"Well, that was a rather intense battle. One we were lucky to escape, let alone survive-"

"No," said Jelket. "Why did Attelus send us that message?"

Halsin tilted his head. "I do not know, Jelket."

Jelket nodded. After they lost the ATV and fought off the cultists they boarded the Guncutter then flew into orbit. They had tried to call Attelus but didn't get a reply. So they waited for Attelus to send a communication on their status. After a few hours of fitful waiting, they did.

"I need you down here, now!" Attelus had said. He hadn't reacted well to the loss of the ATV. He gave them the co-ordinates and cut the link with a snarl.

"It had to be a trap," said Torris. "It wasn't Attelus who called us."

Jelket nodded. It was obvious, so obvious he wondered how he hadn't thought of it.

"You look tired, Jelket," said Halsin. "Get some rest."

He frowned. Jelket never understood how Halsin could be so immune to fatigue.

"Yeah," said Jelket and he turned out the door. Shuffling down the corridor.

They'd set up in the north-east corner of the top floor. Where there was one corridor, so needed a single person to watch the street while Vark and Karmen watched the corridor. It meant they didn't have anywhere to retreat but with them being so few and Torris and Helma being injured, they had little choice.

As he turned into the door of the sleeping room, brief movement caught the corner of his eye.

"I'm fine, Halsin," he said, turning and he froze, as terror over took him.

A Space Marine in black and white power armour towered over him. How it'd could just appear like that was beyond Jelket.

"Oh God-Emperor!" Jelket gasped, fumbling for his Hell gun

The Space Marine smiled or something that may have been a smile and with surprising gentleness, grabbed Jelket's wrist.

"I hate to tell you this, mortal," he said. "But the Emperor is not a god."

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