This reply comes on view 666, which is actually quite appropriate- this is just pouring out. Apologies in advance for the inconsistent capitalisation, but this is how it got typed.
Oh, and there seems to have been a little misreading, based on a missing 'and'; there are two weapons involved, the standard Guard issue sniper rifle does come in a laser version, and it was one of those that was handed to Bohr because his laspistol doesn't look like it's going to be up to it.
The Astartes-issue man portable lascannon Brother Ignatius needs the use of himself, and how.
Even the Eldar, theoretically a psychic race, couldn't see a Grey Knight coming, not at anything really like distance. Not unless he had given them cause to expect him and they were specifically on the lookout, then they might manage it.
Normally, though, he could ghost up to them- not as close as to ordinary humans, true, but avoid actually alerting their suspicions until he was close enough to do...all sorts of things I can't actually afford, Ignatius realised grimly.
Anything like full blown mind war would send up so much psychic turbulence I might as well hang out the old "Come and Eat Me" sign, he thought- not entirely joking; it had sometimes been useful to make noises in the warp like a frightened emergent psyker.
There were always daemons greedy or stupid enough to fall for it, and while baiting like that was looked down on by some as an easy way to a cheap kill, it was also a good way to trap a minor daemon and flense it, strip all its' experiences and knowledge from it before ritually rending it and casting its' shreds on the winds and tides of the Warp.
More was collected about the enemy, more of the actual natures and vulnerabilities of the larger, more important targets, the greater daemons and daemon princes, than any other way- he supposed it was not that different from a mortal sting operation.
Except that sometimes the Arbites' flesh and blood targets' own instincts warned them, sometimes they were wise to it, and suspicious of the stinger- it was seldom that way among lesser daemons, prisoners of their own unearthly needs, trapped by their own natures.
Although it was always a good idea to be suspicious of the Eldar. The idea of one of the older race deliberately appearing to be unsubtle was almost comical, but they could and did sometimes- did they have their own "totally legitimate easy prey here, honest" sign out?
If they did, they were doing it so subtly, they couldn't be meaning to use it to attract very much...it was painfully difficult to be truly passive in the warp; possibly suicidal, too, but there were always lines of contact established, currents set up, chains of sympathy and contagion.
The easiest way to describe it to a non-psyker, and there were very few of those he had ever had to, was as if there was no sense but touch. To truly get the measure of something, it was necessary to interact with it, to pick it up and heft it, run your fingers over it, turn it around, feel the shape. Simply watching was very hard to do.
Probing with active vision sufficiently gracefully that the subject did not realise, that it remained below their threshold of awareness, did come within the order of the possible. How far within, how much time and effort it took, depended greatly on the relative subtleties of prober and probee.
Ignatius was good, exceptional for a human; his squadmates, once such an enormous amount of trouble ago, had enviously jested that he must be part- Navigator for his ability to see the currents of the warp- and the Eldar were, when all was said and done, looking the other way.
Even if they weren't expecting him, though, they had done a good job of being ready to meet him; it was a frighteningly psi- heavy force they had sent. Farseer and his bodyguard appeared to be the overall commander, the threads lead outwards from him. Bodyguard were Warp Spiders. Well, that was just insane.
Warlock and, no, High Warlock and half a dozen not so high others making a coven, and they seemed to be the animating force behind the veil that had let a hundred odd Eldar materialise in the middle of a full five hundred regiment Guard Army without attracting attention.
Doubly unfortunate, they had brought their friends; a troupe, no two, of Harlequins, with a Warlock of their own. And, botheringly, a Solitaire. Whatever they were here for, it really was important enough to them to send their very best.
The rest, some tanks, some aliens with guns, bah, details.
Four heavy hitters, serious warrior- psykers, half a dozen minor ones and quite a lot of their theoretically rank and file touched by some kind of warp influence. Not necessarily outclassed, Ignatius thought and wondered who he was kidding- against one, yes. Against so many, with so much to spare, the best road to victory was definitely not the most direct.
Therefore, change the rules a little. I knew there was a reason to bring this lascannon, he thought. At a shade under two kilometres now, he was well within the operative field.
Target Primaris was the one that would open up the battle the most- the high warlock. Repeat the ancient sniper's mantra; see without being seen, so that you can kill without being killed. At that moment, it practically was a prayer.
Confine, confine, let no radiance emerge, leave no touch, be not seen- but at the speed of thought bless the lasbolt as it formed in the chamber; a trick that would only have occurred to someone who had spent years around such a technosorcerous phantasm as their battle barge's psychic cannon.
Form the bolt as it streamed forth, telekinetically- photokinetically?- press a shape into it, a message, a runeform- bless and bind into the bolt itself a carried thaumaturgical strike of wardbreaking and unbinding.
The same could be done with bolter shells and jeweller's tools, writing tiny little runic damnations and execrations on the head of the bolt; to do so in light seemed more appropriate to the Grey Knight, even if the mind was never meant to operate at such speeds and it made his head hurt terribly.
Billions of fighting men across the Imperium, probably tens of thousands at this very moment, prayed or were praying for something of the sort- very few could help themselves to the extent of making it come true. One of the Emperor's Own could.
It was a worthwhile use of energy, although the farseer probably sensed him, because the power did it's work- and it hit exactly where it had been intended to, the head of the high warlock's staff.
The staff exploded, the veil exploded, the high warlock convulsed- Ignatius had tried that trick years ago against a potent Weirdboy, and the ork's head exploding had done vastly more damage than anything short of a bombardment cannon round.
Eldar, unfortunately, were much more self contained. It was more of an implosion, as the runes woven into the high warlock's robes and armour started to flare off energy sun- bright, and the eldar psyker fell, kicking and thrashing as if undergoing a seizure- more or less true, and the screaming in the warp of a mind tormented by overload and backlash drew attention in the immaterium as the blazing runes did in the materium.
Even a subtlety-free zone such as the Sisters should notice that. Their advantage of invisibility gone, the xenos- most of whom were attuned enough to see that and suffer from it, but there was an interestingly large proportion of hardened hearts not visibly affected by the psychic scream; most of them wasted little time, surged forwards.
What was so important to them that, even after that for an opening move, they would press the attack? Was one of the Sisters due to become a Living Saint or somesuch? If that is the case, Ignatius thought, I might have been better off leaving them to it... no, that was just the headache talking.
Just to confirm it, the relic that had pointed the way- frak, Ignatius thought, it pointed them to a pretty defensible position at that, the Emperor really does work in mysterious ways; there would be many of them near the hand, wondering what it had meant. He made it move again, give the standard tactical signals for enemy, many, there. If nothing else got through to them, that should.
Time to think self preservation; the Farseer must have a fairly good idea of where he was, and the problem with not being seen while firing a laser cannon that left searing violet streaks all over the landscape was obvious. Who was looking to him?
There were four Dark Reapers, they had the firepower to reach him and they were faster-reacting than the tanks; one of them was glowing, twitching and seemed to be bouncing slightly, but the other three were each covering a section of the land in his general direction and trying to see him. Which one was clearest and fastest thinking, closest to being right- that one. Very well, then.
The Eldar had a marvellous technology for their missile launchers; they could get an impressively large bang in a very small round, so they carried pods of thirty or so that fitted on to the end of an accelerator tube, the tube generated the force, clever gates in the pod directed the impulse to the individual round the firer had selected. Much faster firing and more versatile than the human version.
Unfortunately it meant that they had a lot of things each of which could detonate, and they carried them in a state best described as bunched up and sticking out. Ideal for a very good shot with a lascannon.
Ignatius wouldn't describe himself as a brilliant shot- but the standards he was judging himself by were very high indeed. The bolt slammed into the business end of the reaper launcher, and the mix of frag, krak, plasma and melta rounds detonated quite impressively.
Now was a good moment to find a hill to hide behind. They undoubtedly had a sense of a hostile presence, and something to go on, and did they not have to honour the threat and send someone after him?
Essentially in the middle of the Imperial Guard, surely someone in all those five hundred regiments remembered to bring a Basilisk? Should be a stonk any moment, come on lads, extricate digitatii. The eldar should have no time, the Astartes didn't want to risk another open attack, but only let him see the blade, which way it was moving- against this, sooner parry and riposte.
Apparently not. There was a ripple in the immaterium, lapping quickly outwards and diffracting around invisible meanings, with a strangely flat place; the Farseer, ruthlessly quashing his own grief and reaching out to find this cannon-wielding madman.
Wasn't expecting subtlety. To be fair, most human psykers were not very subtle. Right, stop playing with toys and get back to your proper job, set some kind of warp trap; what?
Dammit, the farseer's operationally right; I don't have time to be subtle, the best I can come up with is a kind of a cartoon of a personality, a fake mind for him to probe with enough sharp corners and repulsive bits to get a gut reaction, even if it is revulsion, that I can ride on the feedback of into his head and turn the tables.
Quinsigamond Penvortigan Rhinoceroptis, notorious fish fetishist, champion moopsball pi-back in his squandered youth, rouge (and occasionally chartreuse) trader, and grossly overpaid remittance man of the Spectron 33 nebula; hopelessly infatuated with the shining purity of one of the sisters, and planning to be heroic in her general direction until the rest give up and agree to pay for his sex change and let him join.
Right, let's see if there are enough barbs in that grotesque mockery of a human to draw blood...hellfire, it worked. It was the fish that he objected to? Ew. And no, mate, you're wrong, those came from Earth; the Eldar did not invent the trout.
And worst of all, the cartoon was really a caricature, actually based on a real and thoroughly disgusting being, albeit one who no longer existed in this reality having been found eccentric enough to be worth the notice of the Inquisition- and he had done good service to Humanity at last, although from beyond the grave.
Did they really think so little of humans that for that vital half-second, the farseer actually took this farce, this gargoyle seriously and accepted it at face value? Evidently, and longer than that. And he engaged with it, if only to abominate it. As a species they really do deserve to have "poor impulse control" engraved on their tombstone.
Right in at the gut level. There is a great deal more in this being's head about the piscine than I ever needed to know, his lifepath loops back to them again and again in between bouts of psychic violence; perfectly accepting of trans-sexuality, familial decadence and sharp trade practise, (still two to one against), but hurt as much as a single guppy-
speaking of Eldar priorities, stop woolgathering and find out what they're here for, yes? Hm. Oh. It was necessary to give that to them at least, they were stunningly good at building castles in the air.
There was indeed a plan; it made so little sense that Ignatius was sure he was touching on all the contingencies and branches of it, and it would take more deep thought than he had time to spare to unravel it all.
It was a trap aimed at stealing the hand, the one the Grey Knight had been playing with, and using it as bait to draw the survivors and the rest of the Order, and as much else of the Sororitas as they could get, on a long complicated wild goose chase that would ultimately leave them far out of position, in a place that would leave a gap for a roving Chaos warband to strike at the Imperium, instead of the Eldar.
That would also weaken the sisters here and cause the siege to take longer, give Chaos more opportunity for reinforcement of their own, turn into a major sore requiring an extended campaign, tying down Imperium forces- and leaving the pointy eared ones a freer hand at the edge of the sector.
We may have a lot to learn from the Eldar about the details and technicalities of warpcraft, Ignatius thought disgustedly, but never anything at all on the subject of integrity and comradeship. Flawed as we are.
Mind you, if it came even close to playing out the way the farseer wished, the Grey Knight would eat a sororitas, armour and all. It depended far too much on far too many separate factors that could each go wrong far too easily- one of them being a stray daemonhunter sticking his oar in.
Of course this could have been a well prepared double bluff, but the angst over the poor dolphins was too genuine; and while the human race had enough of itself that it could afford that, there were too few top-flight Eldar psykers to let them wander around with burdensome fake pasts in their heads- and it didn't feel like the sort of invention an eldar would come up with on the spur of the moment, anyway.
Cut both ways, though; the farseer realised that most of the underpinnings of the mind he was trying to probe- the autonomic systems like how to breathe- were not there and that he had been had. He slammed down his own shields as opposed to making a mind war of it, but Ignatius didn't need contact to tell that the farseer would be pointing troops in this direction.
Look at the ground and the plants- such hardies as were left- and the wind, look at the terrain, do it at one remove- prevent them seeing him watching and waiting. Very lightly and very faintly, but there; bugger, he'd sent the Harlequins. Considering the mass of flamethrowers the Sisters could have met them with, detaching the lightly armoured close combat troops was wise from their point of view, he supposed.
Minds? Perhaps the Warlock- no, the harlequins' warlock had taken over the masking and misdirection operation. They had sent the Solitaire instead. They may have been thinking that what was out here was an Inquisitorial warband.
I specialise, Ignatius thought, in relatively small numbers of huge, tough, terrifying, tricky and quite often stunningly obvious creatures; two troupes of Harlequins are almost exactly the opposite, apart from being tricky. This is what I need conventional backup for, and I have three men. Should have brought the entire bloody regiment.
Perhaps there's something to this farsight lark after all, and I should worry more about it instead of focusing on the deep now. This was not on today's 'to do' list, after all. Although perhaps not at this precise moment.
Speaking of which, the Solitaire can afford to fight a battle without a tomorrow, can spend everything and has to hold nothing back; is there a way of getting a quick, cheap kill and stopping it coming to that? Maybe...not on him though, but might whittle down the numbers a bit.
On that one there, then, that Harlequin passing the rocky outcrop; hex him, corrupt his machine spirits- or the eldar equivalent, which was why it wouldn't have worked on a warlock. Psychoplastics and wraithbone fought back, drew on the strength of the mind they were attached to- would invite a full mental duel if tried on their leader.
On one of the troupe, though, it could be done, was feasible to force through. The harlequin's grav belt malfunctioned, pulling him sideways at many times the force of gravity- into the outcrop; breaking every bone from the waist down.
The leader of the troupe paused- had caught the flicker of force; stood for a sensing moment, posing like the artiste she was, with the brathau- angau held- vertically, next to her head.
Flicker the jinx across, and the casing of the Harlequin's Kiss popped open, and the top fell off the coiled spool of monowire. Instant Eldar sushi. Or was it more like sashimi? Ignatius could never keep those two apart.
The Solitaire had enough of a target to go on now; the grey knight felt the psychic force start to rise around him, and thought through his list of defensive options- active counter, defensive aura, built in hexagrammic and pentagrammic wards (as well as quadragrammic and septagrammic- you never knew what was out there), refractor field, physical armour, brute willpower, feet- and opted for the latter.
He bolted for it, as the Eldar spent too long refining his spell and making it more gracious and deadly; bloody craftworlders, he thought glancing over his shoulder, they get to choose their fights most of the time, so they usually have everything to spare.
Mind you, solitaire or not he must be from Biel-Tan originally; that was the most literal sword-wind I've seen in a long time, Ignatius thought. A shower of flickering glints like the light on the edge of a blade moving too fast for the eye to focus on, lashing into and shredding the hill he had been hiding behind.
Gouts of chem-stained earth and dying weeds flew into the air; the blasted zone was large, and the power of it- fragments more solid started to fly, the kinetic hail of ghost-blades reached and savaged bedrock.
Right, so either he's guessing Terminator Librarian or he's just trying to be sure, that was a tank-breaker; no, the scent was there of more than that, this was definite and terminal vengeance he's after. Can I get him to overextend, try too hard? Unlikely, the cold anger is too strong in him, he won't let his rage override his actual talent-
which is remarkably unusual for Eldar, and probably the main reason he's a Solitaire rather than anything less astounding. Should have expected exceptionality from the exceptions.
There was a useful hill there, the ground was dotted with them, low rises and falls; would be a good observation/firing position, but there was a mind's eye lingering on it- a shade too obvious then. The obvious thing to do was to leave some kind of eyebite, but what? If the obvious option was out, then-
grief might be a better angle than rage. The solitaire must be already suppressing some of that, so not individual, needed a broader canvas than that- but what would be fundamental enough to cause a Solitaire, whose part in the endless dance was to play the villain, to lose his sangfroid and control of his defences?
Ignatius knew something of the Eldar's vanished gods, scarcely enough; but the basic trick of suggestion, of letting the target see what they wanted to see and thus fill in the details for themselves, may work- may suit a solitaire rather well in fact.
So set the hill a-twinkling with the ghostly memories of a vanished age when the race was a whole and wonderful thing and their deities were alive and lived in them, with the footprints of vanished lords of light whose names he barely knew.
It was easy for him to do, because it so closely resembled his own dreams, of that brief moment after the great liberation of the Crusade but before it all turned sour in the Heresy, so that he had to be careful to merely let the eldar use it as a mirror, and not allow too much humanity to filter in-
and from a simple epsilon-class twisting of light and temperament, such a small impulse, a trans- alpha class result.
The sentinel at the gates of damnation- for such seemed to be a better translation than solitaire- practically fissioned; the darkness- the victory of the great chaos power Slaanesh- he had to embody reached out in hunger, seeking innocence to savage. The light, that he stood with his back to and shielded with his soul from the radiance of the dark, cried in loss and yearning.
The divided, tormented being utterly lost control of his defences as he lashed out in rage and grief, dimly realising that it must be an illusion and determined to annihilate the trickster; Ignatius had his shot- but first he had to survive the mighty blow the sentinel lashed out with.
There was a brief flicker of cunning as the solitaire-sentinel glanced at and passed by the option of drawing the weaver into the illusion, mastering it and turning it against him, which had been what Ignatius was expecting him to do; passed it by on the way to the simpler choice of unleashing hell.
flowers and flickers and rings of coloured light swirled through the sky and started to converge; unable to follow the traces back into the grey veil, if the last bolt had been a tank- killing stroke, this one would have been calculated to engulf a Warlord Titan. The vortex of annihilating light was massive, savage overkill.
How to survive it? Avoid being at ground zero; a dart and roll away, half a second before the spreading flower of light reached him- enough to raise the cannon, feel the runes and the wards and the psychic hood start to glow; defences start to stiffen under the pressure;
to temporarily shed the veil, look the shock-spirited solitaire in the eyes, link to him, 'You have no power, over a man whose gods are not dead.' The blast from the blessed lascannon took the defenceless solitaire full in the heart.
"I beseech thee, In the bowels of God, think it possible that you might be wrong."
-Oliver Cromwell to Parliament, 1647
"It is good to keep an open mind; but not so open that your brains fall out." Attributed to James Oberg