Knight Errant (40K)

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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by InsaneTD » 2012-12-12 06:45pm

This Grey Knight has set more motion then a tzeetchian wizard, what plans are these two?

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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2012-12-12 08:11pm

It's probably easier to keep track of if you lose count and just run with it; I know it is for me.

Those would be the two at the end; well, looking up at the cathedral tower, there are an awful lot of heavily armed and at least semi- competent Chaos maniacs lurking about there. First idea was to lunge for and pretend to be trying to take and hold a smaller, lesser temple to the God- Emperor, to invite a response from some of said chaos maniacs and basically ambush them, making the main attack easier.

Second idea, in view of the fact that Laure and Bohr could both do with a fair amount of spiritual counselling, so taking said minor temple for at least long enough to wash the eight- pointed stars off and have a quick prayer for guidance would probably be a good idea.

Half way through doing that, the cultists he had been intending to draw out decided to turn up after all. Not supposed to be easy, is it?

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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-12-12 08:29pm

I'm not sure Ignatius actually has plans, in the traditional sense of "a structured list of future actions and contingencies aimed at a predicted success."

He has goals. He has objectives. He has methods. But he's improvising so much of the time that any 'plan' he might make will predictably be revised into an unrecognizable blur by the time he actually carries it out. Everything folds into everything else because of how much effort he puts into deception, confusion, and exploiting localized conditions (i.e. the big steel ball trap).

Ask Ignatius what he's trying to do right that minute and he'll always know what he's doing and why- so in that sense he has a plan. But there's a lot of "and then I'll improvise" between whatever step of the plan he's on and the final goal.
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Crayz9000 » 2012-12-13 06:05pm

So... to use a Slashdot analogy, his thought process is basically

Step 1. Planned action
Step 2. Planned action and two contingency actions
Step 3. ???

or something similar.
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2012-12-13 08:07pm

Actually, right at this precise point it's probably something along the lines of;

Whoever said that when all you have is a hammer, the world starts to look like a nail was a handless idiot. They'd obviously never stood in front of a forge, never beaten on a piece of red- hot metal, because the fact is that you start with a hammer; it's the first and most fundamental tool, the one you use to give shape and structure, to bring all the others out of the raw material and make them things in themselves. There is temendous subtlety possible, the foundations of the future can be, were and are laid with a well shaped lump of heavy metal.

...At least, that was the premise to begin with. Hubris may or may not be a sin, but it is definitely a tactical error, and I think I'm committing rather a lot of it. This was always going to be a conjuring trick of a job, misdirection and indirection the path- not enough of us, of me, to afford to be unsubtle and go straight in; but it is turning out to be harder than I'd at first thought to maintain the aim.

Taking tangents into wilder and wierder side jobs- granted that it is progress towards the righteous end, and probably the only way to make the progress I need, but avoiding being suckered and diverted like this is the whole point of the adamantine, uncompromising devotion we have pounded into us on Titan.

Sometimes- officially, many times- better the straight, hard road, on which there is no chance of being lost and brute persistence will get me there eventually, than the twisted, winding paths of probability which Chaos knows far too well. Play this phase out then no more, stop trying to beat them at their own game and well, revert to type I suppose; a switch back from indirect to direct method may serve. It's going to have to because there's damn' little time left anyway. Sun's below the horizon but sky not yet dark, the ritual should be beginning soon. The beginning of the end.

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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2013-02-04 12:29pm

~Next bit;

The problem with being a punk, Ignatius thought- having riffed through the heads of thousands of them- is that once you've punked, what do you do then? 'Frak this' isn't much of a manifesto, not once the self destructive impulses bounce off the survival instinct.

Apart from khorne punks, of course, for whom something that's only true for an hour still exceeds their probable life expectancy.

This lot- now that they've done their damage, inflicted their desecrations, they're bored. Aimless, starting to fall out among themselves. Best time to strike, really, but it has to be at the run before they realise they still have an external enemy.

For despicable, irredeemable scum the farmers aren't doing all that badly, they have energy. They're also taking casualties. Hm, there, old style long barrelled lasgun, 36th millennium issue by the looks of it. Probably stolen from a museum, or the governor's ceremonial guard which often amounts to the same thing. It's got heritage, though- should make a useful minion- potter.

More minions to pot, then, need to try it out.

The stadium- temple's roof had caved in; there had been so much stuff built onto or hanging off it, actual violent destruction was only hastening the inevitable- neglecting maintenance for a decade or so would have done enough. Violent destruction was more fun.

The altar was buried under a pile of rubble; two ways to deal with that, Ignatius thought- then realised that one of them depended on a chaos looney with a very big gun shooting something only a couple of times then stopping. Not all that likely.

Plan one then, and best done while there were still enough of the farmers left to take advantage; vox to the team, 'Ducks are hunted with decoys and things that make duck noises to lure them in, and we're hunting cultists. I'm going to send up a decoy that makes cultist noises. Don't listen.'

The stunt with the twist of air, the flare he had used earlier, something like that would do. What was done to it could hardly be called a blessing, but as an effect it might work.

Make the thing up and bat it into the air with the halberd, glittering, at first only eye-catchingly bright, and making suitable- openly sexual- sound effects, moaning and screaming and giggling and grunting, that the cultists would look towards and any well brought up Imperial would look away from.

As it sailed through the air, and all but the wisest of them looked up at it, it flared, rapidly alternating red and green, hypnotic, epileptic, climbing through the thousands and the millions of lumen to unbearable, eyelid- penetrating, atomic intensity.

Got a few of the farmers as well, some of them too rolling around screaming that they couldn't see, they were blind. Obviously their mothers hadn't raised them right. They could get killed too. Blind, helpless cultists were after all the best kind, and it was murdering time.

Laure was looking at him as if he had gone completely mad, and he briefly considered it himself before deciding; nah- not completely anyway. The cultists hadn't expected it either which had helped make it work.

This was more harvesting than anything else, although if anything actually dealing with them was slowed down too- they had to be chased after. Some of the cultists were chased over the top edge of the stands, splattering interestingly, but mostly they had to be rooted out or sniped down.

It should have been relatively safe-should have been time to think between the executions, at least- but that was the point when the first installment of the bill came due, and Albia managed to get herself hurt.

Chasing a cultist down the tiers of seats, the cultist had fallen headlong over something, she had stopped to zap him, and that was when it became evident that what he had tripped over was a mating pair of more cultists.

No tactical challenge at all really, she had got them all, but the last of them had tried to use his gun to parry the energy beam of the las cutter, and she had sliced through the receiver block- and the power cell. It had exploded, showering her with toxic, burning liquid metal shrapnel; she yowled, flinched and started trying to scrape as much of it off as she could- someone fired a burst at the noise and connected, a bolt hit her in the thigh. She dropped.

For a moment Ignatius was worried that it might have been Bohr who shot her, but his reaction- envying the cultist who had pulled the trigger then wishing he had done it, then feeling guilty about thinking that- tended to rule him out, it was certainly unhealthy but not incriminating.

The rest of the team- Laure had had her moment of stupidity, she was fighting in a colder, slower, more conscious style, letting the cultists flail around and make mistakes that she could exploit instead of charging in- well, not as much anyway.

Hasek was shepherding the surviving farmers, playing platoon sargeant, pointing them at targets, covering their backs; he saw it happen, moved to cover her. Ignatius motioned him to go back to what he was going, turned to Bohr.

'You can go and bring her in, if she refuses help then you can shoot her. Aule, set up an aid station here by where the altar should be.'

The commissar- cadet boggled at that, but set off unsteadily after her- part of the lesson for both of them, it hurts much more when you have to depend on the help of someone you've just shafted. Ignatius went back to rehearsing in his head something that would work as a field consecration rite, in between picking off shambling cultists.

The gun he had blagged from a dead, corrupt idiot was actually working out surprisingly well; the M36 pattern had really been the last evolution of the old reconquest template las that the bulk of the bloody-work of the Crusade, the Heresy and the cleanup had been done with.

The wholesale shakeup that had followed the Thorian Reformation had included reorganisation and re-equipping of all sorts, including the absurd notion that the old guns had been of a heresy- attracting shape (it was sometimes true, but not this time), and they had been phased out in favour of what the munitorum was pleased to call the Mars Alpha pattern- conveniently forgetting entire alphabets that had gone before.

If anything the long barrel and the tapering curves showed more of xenos influence; possibly some time during the first expansion, the Golden or Dark, whichever you preferred (the Mechanicus were vulnerable to having their heads sifted too), Age of Technology, an Eldar design had been stolen, improved upon, adapted, humanised.

At any rate, once the irreverent daubs had been burnt off, it was long reaching, accurate, and threw a pleasingly blue- green bolt; relatively easy on the power cells too, and he had passed a peaceful and restful couple of minutes so far turning cultists' heads into hydrostatic novae- time to go back to work now, though.

Bohr managed to catch up to her, she looked dubiously at him as if to say I don't need help, but she was a mess- had actually almost been lucky, one droplet had hit just below the left eye and split the flesh of her face down to the cheekbone, there was a splash down the right hand side of her face that had seared her jaw, and left the official status plate on the criminal's fetter she wore as a penitent reading "-ner".

Upper left arm, chest, stomach splashes as well as the huge lump of muscle the cauterised crater had taken out of her leg, and she still would probably have refused if it hadn't been for a glare from Ignatius. Bound more strongly by her vows than by her chains, though, she was still refusing to scream.

Hasek had a small spot of trouble- one of the farmers had failed to not look up and had been blinded, and there was another trying to get him back on his feet. Refusing to kill him; standing between the blinded one and the guardsman, in fact.

Ignatius listened in. Hasek was saying 'You already failed one test- a test of faith- by not standing and fighting with the rest of the community. You only partially redeemed that by doing it eventually. As a result you are, now, doomed. If you want to avoid being damned as well you need to pass all of the others. This was not a pass.'

The standing, still sighted farmer was arguing back- 'Is it not written, and ward us from temptation? That was not a ward.'

'The cultists looked and fell prey to the trap. We looked away. You looked away. He didn't. Figure it out.' He should just pull the trigger already, Ignatius thought, it's usable that he isn't because that gives me a lead in for later, but it's not going to get easier the longer he waits for the still standing one to see sense.

'Ter, tell him, tell him you were just unlucky, you're one of us, please-'

The blinded one did nothing of the sort- and Ignatius caught the sharp sour scent in the mind's nose of something ugly in the warp. 'Plead, before the thugs who stole my sight?' he yelled, and actually meant much worse.

The other farmer couldn't see what was happening, Hasek could, tried to push past him; he pushed back. Ignatius was briefly tempted to poetic justice, but decided against it- best to get it over with. Cue psycannon bolt which blew the blind one's chest apart- after he had started to mutate. (Running low on ammo, Ignatius noticed. I'll need to find another Inquisitor to mug soon.)

The pushing one looked round; saw the eyestalks, saw the claws for hands; burbled in horror, and bowed his head. Hasek obliged him with a lasbolt through the brain.

There wasn't much left to do, and after it was all over- no living cultists in the building- Ignatius called them all together at the temple floor. 'Right,' to the farmers, 'start clearing that lot.' pointing at the heap of rubble over where the altar should be.

'Aule, Albia has priority- she'll probably be able to pay more attention to this than you will. Before I attempt reconsecration, I want to take you through a quirk of human psychology- and hopefully I'll remember to listen to myself- called the fanatic's paradox.

This is something that happens to someone who believes their cause to be all important- and all of us including me have just had the gut reaction "but it is." Let's follow that line of thought and see where it goes, shall we? I'll describe the process and you can tell me how far along you think you are.

The Imperium of Man is built on the bedrock of humanity, what was true then is still true now however much we may choose to regard as anathema, and there is much that is uncomfortable to hear. The basic problem is that the human mind simplifies. Glosses, skims, cuts away the edges, dodges the hard, tangly parts. Takes the short cuts that allow it to function.

Picture how it begins., with the being who sincerely believes or has been impressed to believe that their cause is just. You- you generically- are fresh out of boot, or from the schola as may be, shiny- minted new, head ringing with purity slogans and high ideals, determined to keep your honour clean- and then you get to the field.

Meeting resistance for the first time, and the enemy turn out to look awfully like the Munitorum, Administratum, Ecclesiarchy- all telling you what you ought to be as if they don't trust you, which they don't. They want you to prove yourself worthy of a trust they will never, ever give. No matter how much you want to be what they tell you to be, it isn't enough.

Then they find somebody to shoot at you, and it isn't as easy as they made it sound- the second horrible surprise after how little they trust you is how little you and the people around you actually know about what you're supposed to be doing. They're no better, all trying to survive far too hard for anything like conspicuous bravery to enter the equation.

Some of them are trying to make their lives easier by going for whatever they can get, others are trying to shaft their buddies, senior enlisted are trying to get ahead by making everyone else look bad, officers get ahead by looking heroic and alive by looking anything but and heading for rear area jobs as fast as they possibly can, and everything is all so much more improvised and screwed up than you thought it was going to be.

Your own side aren't necessarily on your side, and reality in fact is starting to look distinctly impure. At this point people react in a number of ways, but we're only really supposed to worry about one of them- the one we're supposed to take, the fanatic's path.

One of the most terrible things that happens is that the true fanatic, the one who can cope at the extremes, begins to scorn those who cannot. Fumbling through, trying to beat back fear and still function, trying to grasp what to do in the sea of confusion- isn't enough. The floundering of those who are not without conscience, not without softness, not without fear- laugh at them and tread on them as you pass them by.

If you are worthy and they are not, the only thing to do is to leave them behind; follow the righteous road, be it never so lonely, be what you were taught to be, trained, purposed, born to be. And be damned to those who cannot follow.

For the dedicated and relentless, the true fanatic, the weaker members of their own side go from being a poor support to a burden holding them back, from there to an obstacle to be overcome, to something that is acted on rather than with, not worth sharing, part of the problem. Something very like the enemy.

Winning- the fruits of dedication- are all that matter. The cause must triumph and triumph it shall, over all enemies external and internal. The twists and curves of military law, divine regulation, common humanity- weak beings' excuses for being weak. If you aren't cheating you aren't trying. All compassion for your own cause, your own people, withers away.

Push past the fools who aren't with you, evade them, shove them out of the way, destroy them if you have to- or if you can. That, really, is how they come to throw it all away, become executioners and renegades- and traitors...

The true fanatic almost always betrays their own cause by going too far; forgetting what and why it is and how it came to be, forgetting how much difference the means make to where it all ends up. At the far end of the fanatic's paradox, you have sacrificed and betrayed everything you started out claiming to be fighting for.

You would be horrified by how many people in my line of work who go from anathematising the enemy, to seeking to understand them to combat them more effectively, to trying to use their own weapons and methods against them, to being so indistinguishable in chosen course of action and trailing such vortexes of madness behind them they may as well have fallen- one of the reasons I have you here is to stop me from going too far.

So how far along the fanatic's road do you think you are?'

Laure did the right thing- turned to Bohr. 'Commissar- cadet, I...I behaved exactly as the superior fanatic should, making light of your difficulties and punishing you, pushing you down towards the darkness when I should have been helping hold you up.'

Bohr had difficulty accepting that with grace; 'I know there are kinks in my head that I came out of the Schola with, when one falls from grace maybe, but when one simply stumbles a bit-' Ignatius glared at him. 'I was in need of correction. Still appreciate it if you didn't do it again though.'

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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2013-03-12 08:37am

Following straight on-

Feeling happier about that, Ignatius turned to their medic. 'Aule- prognosis?'

Aule, looking at the shattered mess of a leg that he had been fantasising about earlier when it had been whole, said 'The eggs are incredible, but there's so much damage- I can stabilise, but this would be better amputated. the bone's gone.' he added to Albia.

Leave me here, she signed to Ignatius. I could die defending this.

'Can't afford to lose both of you.' He said. Laure started. He added 'You might as well say it out loud, you're not going to leave your penitent to die on her own.'

Albia hid her face. The two guardsmen looked skeptical. Time to trust the winds of fate, Ignatius thought.

'I'm not much of a healer.' Ignatius admitted. 'Talent I never really came to terms with, but it might work and I can think of no better time than to try. Think happy thoughts.' He advised Albia. Crouched down to see what he could do, if anything. 'Not that happy.' he added.

The reason I'm not a great healer, he thought, is that mending is very little different from moulding in practise, and depends on trying to make the Warp do exactly what I normally hope it wouldn't. I can do without it trying to impose pattern on the material world, as a general rule.

That ball of being there, ignore the conscious- very strange things happen when you try to use the conscious mind as an input in this- follow the mechanical, the body's own map of itself beneath the conscious level, ignore the fact that she was wriggling and saying 'it tickles'- remap the flesh and blood and splinters of bone to the working, beneath-the-dream image.

It's actually working; perhaps a bit too well, it would be a good idea if both legs matched. Should have told her to think about anything but this, not that that's really possible but any dilution of focus would leave less undergrowth for me to work past- better stop before it starts to glow.

he stood up; she- and Aule- looked utterly astonished. I didn't accidentally add anything, did I, no extra bits? No, all there and nothing left over. 'How do you feel?' he asked Albia.

The penitent thought of saying the first thing that came into her head, which was "Blessed", but decided she probably wouldn't be allowed to. She settled for signing 'fit for purpose.'

'Judiciously put.' Ignatius said. 'let's hope it lasts, because I think we have incoming. Everybody, take a supporter's part in this one. Knock off, no, inappropriate word usage, kill and destroy any Slaaneshi that make it past me towards the altar. I want you behind me in this one, not beside, because I'm going to be flailing about pretty wildly.' he exaggerated.

'What are they, Brother?' Laure asked. 'What are we to face?'

'Pack of six minor daemons, hermaphrodite daemonettes, probably mounted on daemon steeds, probably commanded by a daemonhost,' the hate radiating towards them was easily palpable and he would have had to be a lot rawer than he was not to notice and interpret, 'possibly a daemonspawn- starting to notice a trend here?' he added mischievously. 'Let me break the bulk of them, and take the strays. Here they come.'

There they were; bursting in through the main lower entrance onto the rubble ridden altar- field itself. They were about the fourth group to do so, and there was little left to crash through dramatically. They did what they could, though.

As he had expected, half a dozen daemonettes on the unimaginatively named steeds of slaanesh; usual variations, one of the steeds had wings and one had a slug's foot, the daemonettes were supposed to be hermaphroditic but female- biased within that, two were definitely more male than the usual run; deliberate mirroring of the team or just coincidence? Chaos had coincidences happen improbably often.

They did have an extra, the daemonhost- who looked like a deeply perverse (of course) hedgehog, body of no more than vaguely human proportions covered in vagina dentata- physically riding the spawn and clearly having a distracting amount of fun with the special attachments on the saddle.

The basically worm- shaped spawn was the massively mutated mindless hulk of a short, dumpy politician who had hoped that power would be an aphrodisiac, and when it had turned out to be insufficient turned directly to the dark powers.

Who had toyed with and betrayed him of course, and left him as a segmented worm- thing, the parts of which were constantly pulling apart and oozing together, gaping wounds continually opening and closing and being ripped wide again.

Ignatius grounded the halberd, batted the rider out of the saddle with a wave of kinetic power down into an opening between the segments- that closed on and pinned them, half crushed them; the teeth and the host's efforts to free themselves stimulated the spawn to writhe in more agony than usual, which further crushed, which-

The Grey Knight ended the cycle by putting a lascannon bolt down the length of the spawn, crossing through the daemonhost's body, venting and melting them both; then sling the lascannon and up with the halberd again.

The crushed, lasered daemonhost had said something like 'get them, my aaiureeuughaghaauua'- one of the daemonettes did what was obviously a "who, me" joke, it wasn't so unlikely that one of them would answer to something like that, but they knew what he had meant; although shocked by the daemonhost's abrupt demise, they acted.

Two hung back and started to channel, drawing power for sorcery; although he may be a difficult target it should surely be easier to turn the followers of the champion of the corpse god against him. The other four tried to solve the problem more directly, charged.

Eight entities in total which was actually the sacred number of their rival power- but chaos does so often laugh off blasphemy against it's own comedically low standards. Moving quickly, converging on him- they were not that great in combat despite the claws, relied on other factors too much- on the glamour and the miasma, the misdirection, the sorcery. The two hanging back were probably more of a danger.

Feint left, they reacted by opening out on their right, slight shuffle to cross them up if they were watching his feet- then move, step into it, half twist and lunge to his left catching one of the beasts before it could react, stab and half- twist to lodge the blade into the shrieking, thrashing thing's flank;

raise the halberd, daemon steed and all, over his head in a drill movement forty millennia old, about face, and and slam the thing down like a pitchforked bale of hay on top of the centre- right steed and rider.

There was a squishing sound as temporarily, all three of them blurred together into one squelchy upside-down thing with too many legs and tongues coming out of all the wrong places, all three of them shrieking in protest at what their patron power was doing to them- and that was the right moment to put a pulse of the Emperor's light through the halberd, a blue- white nova of cleansing power.

All three gurgled, wriggled and squealed as they were blasted back into the warp, there probably to become some kind of trick riding act at the great celestial circus. The first daemonette had fallen off her mount, have to deal with that.

Bursts of laser light overhead, as the team decided there was no meaningful difference between standing behind someone and standing behind them with a gun. They shot at the conjuring pair, splashing lasbolts into them, not going to be a proper banishment but it did throw them off their stroke, slowed them down and cost them energy. One of the mounts vanished underneath the daemon rider. Good start.

The daemonette who had vaulted off the impaled beast was more or less behind him; she, ish, threw herself at him, trying to grapple, cling to him and get a claw round each arm, if she couldn't crush and cut then at least pin him and slow him for the others to deal with.

Not a bad move, Ignatius thought as he countered by essentially dropping into a sprinter's crouch, moving down and back from standing and sweeping sideways with his extended foot, taking her claws out from under her, she went sprawling- landed on top of him and rolled off, and as he was pushing himself back up by leaning on the halberd took the opportunity to strike out in an edge- handed chop into her throat.

Most daemons did counterfeit the human anatomy to a degree, they were certainly not prey to all its' vulnerabilities but enough to make battering them to bits at least semi- practical. Stomping on her helped, too.

Most specifically it helped them misidentify him as a spinny- twisty fighter, a martial artist; they moved apart intending to flank him and give him the sort of spinning, twisting, half- dancing fight he seemed to be up for and that they were sure they could defeat him at;

he waited half a beat as they tried to remember how walking worked when they were incarnated, and one of the steeds looked up and back at it's rider, turning it's head as if to ask, are we doing the right thing, is this going to work?

Smarter than the thing on it's back, Ignatius thought, as he moved to do one of those things that you are supposed to be able to do with an axe on the end of a long pole. A couple of bounding steps forward and an upward sweep from low, foot height, through beast's neck and rider's neck in one arc as humans with axes had been doing to fools on horseback since long before Slaanesh existed.

There was a scream behind him, too, sharp and shrill, accompanied by chainblade and laser noises. That was a fairly peculiar definition of 'Don't get involved'.

Laure had lashed out with one of her neural whips at the remaining Beast, it's long prehensile tongue and her whip had spiralled around each other; transfixed in agony/ecstasy, it had been impossible for the beast to prevent it's legs being hacked off by the eviscerator, and its' rider reaching the ground in four laser- dismembered pieces which faded away in wisps of ichor.

That left one daemonette and mount, who actually turned to run- could be chased down, but Ignatius couldn't be bothered running after it. A psycannon bolt that he wrapped a little cleansing fire around, smashed into the steed's pelvis and set it sprawling and burning, the rider caught before she/it could dismount and burned back to the warp.

Best, he thought, not to actually complete the blessing, this worked perfectly. The strike force sent after him had gone, but there had been no flash of light that would signal that he had won- mutual destruction was entirely possible, and a little rigging of the scene would enhance that impression;

which would mean time to duck back under the grey veil, and move from the beginning of the end- to the end of the end. 'Right, good work, let's go, we have an ambush to set up.'

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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by RecklessPrudence » 2013-03-12 10:39pm

Hmm... if the mirroring of the warband isn't just coincidence, I wonder what implications that has. Whatever the daemons know, how likely are they to be able to communicate that effectively to their human masters/minions? How much do they know? How low down the totem pole does that knowledge start, and how high does it end?

Could this mean that Ignatius might be attracting the attention of some heavy hitters, things that with his current resources may be insurmountable obstacles?

Enjoying this immensely, ECR, and can't wait for the next bit. I know you haven't had a lot of feedback on the last few installments of your stories, but just know we're reading and enjoying. Speaking of, what happened to that Star Trek AU? Still working on it?
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by madd0ct0r » 2013-03-13 06:49am

RecklessPrudence wrote:I know you haven't had a lot of feedback on the last few installments of your stories, but just know we're reading and enjoying.
Quoted for truth.
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by InsaneTD » 2013-03-13 07:56am

madd0ct0r wrote:
RecklessPrudence wrote:I know you haven't had a lot of feedback on the last few installments of your stories, but just know we're reading and enjoying.
Quoted for truth.
+1 and I'd add that it goes for all your stories. Though it probably doesn't need to be said.

Eleventh Century Remnant
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2361
Joined: 2006-11-20 06:52am
Location: Scotland

Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2013-04-05 05:23pm

relatively short update- this kindle thing? deeply unsure of it as a media player, not much good as a communication device, quite useful for typing on. Chapter ends in media res and should be the second last- nearing conclusion now.

The team ran back to the site of the varm, looking for the airtaxi they had made note of earlier- hoping someone else hadn't noticed it too and stolen it themselves while the team had been busy. In a city of thieves- no, no joyriders. Amazingly. They might have stolen its' wheels, if it had wheels. Well it was surrounded by mutilated corpses, so...

Actually around here that probably meant the forces of Slaanesh were running out of necrophiliacs as well, and was that really a hopeful sign? Or was it that they were all simply busy elsewhere?

Wasn't in great condition, having been hard ridden and shambolically looked after- was barely up to the task of hauling six people all laden with arms and wargear, two of them in power armour and one of those a giant at that; the air- drive thrust fans clinked and squeaked alarmingly, and there was an unpleasant sizzling sound from the main suspensor motors.

Having techmarines around was a luxury Ignatius had had to do without these last fifty years, and to be honest there was quite a lot they couldn't help with with at the best of times, the more eldritch and arcane.

A man didn't need to be a swordsmith to be a good swordsman, normally, but force halberds and aegis hoods hoods were a different class of artefact- there needed to be so much of yourself poured into them, the deep psychic attachment, that it made sense for hand and eye and mind to come together.

That and his temporary disguise back there in the circle hadn't been so far from the truth; naked reality without the warp did hold a strange fascination for him, it had always been the other side of the fence.

He was fairly sure that he had been illegitimate, the son of an actress for whom reality was what other people could be persuaded to accept, and nothing was solid and unavoidable- that nothing including her unwelcome child.

Growing up on the fringes of that floating world, a forager, scavenger and feral outcast in the land of make- believe, had been hard and tricky enough that when his brothers had most of the childhood weaknesses filled in and much of their past erased, there had been relatively little to do to him.

When I was considering the Sister Palatine and how some people are born to this, so naturally made for it that it just slides into place for them, I should have included myself in that, he thought. Hostile outsider in a world of phantoms.

The other side, the underlying universe of congealed logic, of mathematical meaning, exactitude and predictability that could be half- seen and understood through the mists of human confusion and its' own incredible strangeness- if he had a hobby, that was it.

Few heads were as fascinating as those of a senior mechanicus official- although it could be a chore to read it all through the background hum of circuitry.

He could make a fairly educated guess as to what was wrong with this thing, and for how long it could be expected to continue to function; enough- but little more than that. Two more start-up cycles, maybe three. Needed no more.

As they rose towards the heights of the cathedral, above the height of the walls, out there things were starting to happen. Laser bolts crackling across the space just outside the walls- broken by blurs of fast moving heavier shot, small but wincingly bright blasts of plasma- meshes of red and blue light, spiderwebs wrestling to the death.

Ignatius thought of the timing, ran the numbers in his head and decided that it was good. Did smell a shade mobbish, though. Had that kamikaze succeeded after all? Were they being driven by righteous anger, rather than rational calculations?

If they were, he had accidentally made a martyr- actually he really had meant it, what had he said, it does them good to be suicide bombed from time to time, stops them getting complacent? Oops.

Anyway, spiralling up to the cathedral towers- aircar not capable of taking the strain of a vertical ascent- trying not to concentrate on it, looking without probing, even though he probably could go through the stacks without arousing- more poor word usage around slaaneshi, must watch that- without drawing attention.

If they had a long term plan to exploit it all, it had probably gone out of the window as soon as the Imperium's reaction force had sealed off the world. A couple of careful probes found little evidence that the files had been spiked, but a few clues about how the forces of darkness had managed to come to power.

As above, so below, as was so painfully often the case- the ecclesiarchy had allowed things to slide until they had got this bad, and if they had taken a more active role things might have reached this pitch actually much sooner.

My job really is simple by comparison, Ignatius admitted to himself, but I can't help judging when I see someone else's job being done so badly. Especially when it leads to me needing to do mine. Going by the files, much of the sector priesthood were at best a weak shield, at worst a provocatory factor.

Some of them did fall, of course. Such as the polymandrite now wearing the former Cardinal's skin as a cape who is acting as chief daemon- raiser.

That probe could have been a mistake. Trying to look to closely too soon could alert them, let them know what was coming- something even the Sisters who were going to do do most of the hard work were purposefully unclear on. They wouldn't have believed or understood it if it had been explained to them. How to retrieve it? Hmm. What could anyone do to disrupt it now?

Armed assault by Imperium forces- possible but unlikely, just feasible a competent Inquisitor might see what was forming and try to do something, get a force of- what could react in time? Not sororitas, physically they could do it but psychologically- they could take very large risks on very short notice, but they did tend to follow their own star, doing exactly what they were told was improbable.

What he had warned the ritual circle of, burst the shield dome and cleanse the ritual by warship lance fire? That was a realistic possibility, and usually a wise measure, one that he had intended to forestall by judicious tactical lying- ordering the the ships to stand off, buying time. If the plan miscarries, lance fire would be entirely reasonable.

Astartes, brother Marines? Ideal- Ignatius could talk to them, get through to them - but there were few and mostly committed to opening ways for the guard, sabotaging and undermining the defences. An inquisitorial warband, most likely. That didn't much help. What can I pretend to be that gets the reaction out of my enemies that will actually push the plan forward?

Ah, got it. Khorne can't can't do anything, all his minions have done each other in, or at least enough of them to the point that it makes no tactical difference. Tzeentch, the survivors are going underground- wouldn't have the power even if they had the numbers and the courage.

The smelly one, on the other hand, has distinct potential. A relatively small group of them with sufficiently powerful plagues and war gases could disrupt and spoil the ritual- nurglites were dangerous in small groups in ways that the followers of less vile gods were simply not.

They'd react to a whiff of pox- and I really should scan myself for contamination, I obviously have a fairly diseased mind myself if I can keep coming up with plans like this.

It's not completely obscure, quite poetic in a way; obviously a nurgle cult trying to really ruin a Slaaneshi ritualistic's day would resort to sexually transmitted disease. Now, how do I simulate a warp signature like possessed gonococci?

(What, for that matter, is an appropriate penance for an Imperial agent for having come up with it?)

Worry about that later. First, make it work. There were enough cultists in a compromised state or eagerly looking to get there that the opportunity existed, so poison them. There were no wards worth the name- exhibitionists every one, they were letting it all hang out- and was that an alarm bell ringing on the fringes of consciousness?

All of this was occurring while the team landed the nearly defunct flyer- with some relief- dismounted and started to move, stealthily and cautiously, up the tower to the main theurgical levels. Ignatius showed no sign that he was thinking furiously, or at least thought he didn't. Then he noticed that the rest of the team were looking at him as if they expected something. Ah, omission.

'I have an idea- cover me while I think about it.' He said, and did exactly that. That they were not shielding the ritual, combined with the unholy coincidence of the daemon pack earlier matching them in mirror, that did spell trap.

Ignatius thought of, in a flash, a way it could be done, a way in which it could be allowed to happen and still be turned to good- for a highly debatable value of the term. The trap could could be exploited - but it would be essential to lie about it afterwards, because the chapter would probably want to crucify him.

If it existed. Who was perpetrating it? The daemon? Thinking of the actual stakes and assuming the worst, they were gambling their eternal existence against the chance to do something that had never before been done- corrupt a Grey Knight. Lead him to do something utterly unspeakable anyway- like summoning the (literally) damned thing himself. And lying to the chapter.

It was more than possible that this was not one trap, but two- one for the beast and one for him. Also possible that the crosscurrents in the warp, the faint burblings at the edge of awareness, were meaningful- and one daemon meant to be rid of another. They got tired and fed up with each other too, and one feeding another to a daemonhunter was probably as close as they could get to a divorce.

After the winding path I had to take to get here, Ignatius thought, I shouldn't be surprised that it doesn't get simpler at the end. Where was I? Oh yes, psychodynamically charged hyper- herpes. Now if this is too easy to set up, I can be fairly sure it's a trap.

Should be more morally repugnant than it is- black water plumbing, this, guddling and futtering with the valves of a diseased mind. Well shielded, though, but essentially I'm trying to hypnotically program a slaaneshi cultist to subconsciously summon a minor pestilence of nurgle. If I can manage it, then I really ought to try to use my powers for good sometime.

Scuba diving in the pus oozed out of diseased minds was not a happy day, and Chaos' estimation of what is and isn't easy and my estimation may be quite different, he cautioned himself- but no, not too easy. It may be possible, though, there are a couple of juicy possibilities- anyone's sacred number? No, unless I'm stupid about it- do thirteen of them.

If anything is humanity's numerological key, seven, twelve, thirteen or twenty- why stop at having just one? Or have one at all? Pattern and rhythm, what am I missing, what more can I exploit? Hmm. Be a while before we get to the vulnerable to sharp edged adamantium stage. maybe just move into position and watch the psychic turbulence play out.

If it's fast enough. If it can happen- I'd never really intended this to be a split second, last minute thing, because nothing is more likely than that to go horrendously wrong. We have arrived with maybe half an hour's lurking time as the orgy powered ritual, or possibly the ritual powered orgy, reaches its' climax. More dodgy word usage there. Hm.

Let the pestilence spread, and it is, demented rabbits aren't in it. Of course, they know that some of them will be exalted by this, and some of them consumed and erased by it, they desperately want to be in the first group- but we're told which is which by a trickster and eater of souls.

They are of course the sort of people for whom frantic crazed bonking is a rational response to, or for that matter exit from a state of confusion and terror.

What can be done of use? Random killing would simply disrupt the ritual, too soon. Checking that the Sisters and their cleansing crew are in position would be a reasonable thing, might have to settle for a lesser result if they aren't ready and this doesn't come off.

How to do that without drawing attention? Well, it was reasonable to assume that their electronic warfare people wouldn't be paying much attention- but the number of people who got killed by reasonable assumptions...

Much safer to check. Precisely how to do so, though, without drawing that very attention? Should feel the radiance of it, if they're doing it at all properly- which was worrying.

There wasn't much holiness about, what scryers the powers had should have noticed it too and be in a state of some commotion which he had been hoping for. The Sisters should draw chaos attention and power off him, and not to any great additional danger to them- he'd actually expected them to be rather enjoying themselves by now.

There was a way. Who was there who wasn't busy, where was there a spare cultist to use as a skin? Someone perverse enough by Slaaneshi standards to find masochistic enjoyment in delayed gratification. Ah, good, there.

Up two more floors, ignoring the surroundings, drafting emergency plans if the team decided they couldn't stand it and cleansing time had come early- into a side chamber once a rest room, let the psychic atmosphere wash over him, feel and sense- then strike.

Yet another thing that a champion of right and justice wasn't particularly supposed to do, smashing into the cultist's sub, non and preconscious minds and seizing them, possessing him, making a meat puppet to use to do the visible dirty work. It did work, though, and leaving this one an empty shell may actually be good for their soul, insofar as anything dropped into such poisoned waters can make a difference.

There were memories, of course, a wide and gentle valley around a broad, unhurried river, but that soured quickly, and the phrase "every goddamn' farm animal" entered the lexicon of phrases Ignatius would prefer not to hear again. No matter, he had expected abomination and got it. Made being quite horrible to them easier.

Use them as a puppet, acting on imperatives they could not understand why they had, and look, scry for the sisters. Where were Freya and her harridans- why had they not tried to contact him? We're they on plan, and in time?

Look for the faint shine of holiness, and- ah, crud, that's why things have gone quiet. Not alone- someone with them, and they smell inquisitorial.

Should have known one of them would stick their nose in at the worst possible time. Without that wall of devotion to trap the thing, I could still get a result but we wouldn't be playing for keeps. They've just become aware if me, or at least the possessed cultist I'm working through, and- oh, bollocks, the idiot is about to try some kind of rite of dismissal, isn't he?

He's not going to believe a word that comes out of this poisoned mouth, I could leave now but, the consequences, better to take the chance. Play it out then. God-Emperor, this is what they're giving rosettes to these days? He's slow, dangerously slow- trained but not practiced in psychic combat, Hereticus rather than Malleus? I hope so. I could have made three contingency plans in the time it's taken him to wind up one psi- bolt.

Not a massively powerful one, either- it worked, but only because I was there to play anvil.

Now he's realised that I was hiding behind the cultist, and he's wibbling slightly. Fairly decisive, I think.

'Well done, you flaming idiot. I was working through that filth to avoid having the rest of their scryers notice that I was sneaking up on them. That plan's just gone boom, hasn't it? They'll be aware of you too now. If the Sisters want to fillet you and beat you to death with your own liver they have my permission and encouragement to do so.

Galloping Galaxies, man, do they not teach Inquisitors to be inquisitive these days, to question, to think? In your case that may have been a wise precaution. Stick to the plan I gave them and you might yet redeem your blast- happy blunder.'

He broke contact before anything else could be said, turned to the team, 'Right, we've been blown, and it's killing time. Start taking heads.' I had no right, none at all, to sound off like that to one of the Emperor's anointed, not that that stopped me enjoying it.

Living through someone else's death experience always makes me cranky- the cultist's brains had melted and were running out of their ears. One down, thirty thousand to go.

Who do we dismember first? Something of no importance to the ritual, primarily, beings who'd only get in the way later on. Someone who they won't stop the rite to save. They're leaving logic heading for box of frogs land, but even they can't be prodded too hard before they react. What are they going to do now that they know I'm not dead? Try to make me me so.

How, well, using using what they have learned so far, which apart from the obvious is what? That for a supposed pillar of rectitude, I'm a chancer, trickster and loose cannon, that I tend to go for the odd, offbeat and indirect over the straightforward, that I am tolerably dangerous and fairly hard to kill, half measures won't be enough; that I have a team.

They can't rush the ritual, the tzeentchians who could tell them how I've already undermined it are kind of dead- that doesn't mean out of contact though. Plan n is still feasible if that rite's smell is anything to go by. They can rush me. Where would be a good place to pretend to make a last stand? There's a small votive chapel a level up that could do. 'This way.'

As they left the chamber, Ignatius got an interesting surprise. The cultists who could be spared from the ritual were of course the poor contributors, the ones who couldn't deliver much in the way of sensation. The old, the pre-pubescent and the crippled.

All of the team were surprised by that, which was one step to fulfilling the fundamental principles of warfare, but surely the second had to be 'bring people who can actually fight.' They all felt that this couldn't possibly be it, couldn't be all the evil was going to try; a beat waiting for the other stiletto to drop, Ignatius said 'take them before it does.'

Into them then, this was butchers' work, not psykers. Ignatius kept overwatch, twitched one child soldier into machine gunning a pack of his schoolmates in the back, popped a couple that he thought would trouble the team's consciences if they had to do themselves.

Hard to judge corrupt youth as firmly as it deserves, easier for primitive man but once the society goes anywhere at all, people are more tender- value each other more highly- than that. Right way to go, though. Just because some people believe dangerous gibberish isn't a good enough reason to entirely stop believing in one another.

Deal with the broken innocents myself, then. The system did stop believing in these people, that's why there are so many of them here, and most of those who led them into error are in the ritual group fighting to be among the last eaten. Blasting the sprogs and the geriatrics was an ugly necessity; doing for the senior cultists would be a pleasure- although one that would still need care and craft.

Had they really sent this nonsense, these insufficients, these un- warriors? Of course they had, he realised looking at their faces. They were desperate to prove their worth to the dark god of sensation- or he she and it had other holds over them, other levers that also pitched the victim into the same state of frantic desperation. They were also no match for professional soldiers, never mind vocational soldiers like himself and the sisters.

What have they left that can hurt us? Me in particular? These are here both to be sacrificed and to cause me to waste time looking for the wrinkle, for that other shoe. They still think I want to stop the ritual- don't don't realise what I am trying to achieve.

Which is fair enough, no-one else would. I have that time, if the sisters are doing their part, I can afford to smash down hunting party after hunting party until they think of something else, perhaps even the truth.
The only purpose in my still being here is the stories and the people who come to read them. About all else, I no longer care.

Eleventh Century Remnant
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2361
Joined: 2006-11-20 06:52am
Location: Scotland

Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2013-05-04 06:20pm

Cue Bob Hope- and now the end is near.

This story originally started as a diversion to get me round something of a block on Squelch, and it to be honest it didn't actually, but it did become more of a thing in itself. Comes to an end, essentially (there should be an epilogue) at more or less the same time as the block is cleared, and on a fairly similar note, although played very differently; tell me hat you think.


Surprise, confound and mislead the enemy? Not a bad plan in general, problem comes when you get caught up in your own vortex of compounded error and baffled in in turn. I have not been as clear and as honest with myself as I might have been, probably in self defence. When I set out what it is I have decided to do and how I have gone about it so far, I can see why.

Question is whether the ritual squad believe me to be genuine, or some kind of demented maniac willing to try to deal with bloody Chaos through divide and conquer, or actually some bizarre practical joke of the Dark Gods. Almost any method they could resort to based on what I've given them cause to think would lead them astray, leave their defences riddled with holes.

I think now though that I may have been going too far. Dancing with the darkness, and enjoying it. Time to go home, if this works, to explain what I have been up to- time to stop joking about it and actually do it. Playing on the fears of the slaaneshi like that may have been excellent warpcraft, virtuoso work done upon the instant, but can I seriously argue that it wasn't unclean in itself?

Only with considerable sophistry. It will have good effects, it will make them lose their equilibrium, it will mute and confuse the warp traces of the ritual and help keep the lances away, it will mean they have to push harder from the other side and increases the chance of a first class result, it means they should raise their wards which works to my advantage as it gives me something semi- solid to squeeze them in, all of which serves, but the end aside, it is foul means.

Success is not atonement, nor justification. It is good, but the maintenance and defence of purity is the greatest good, and those who chase results are far more easily compromised and contaminated than those who hold to purity of means. I did achieve results, and with grace and a following wind may do something noteworthy here; but if it is a gateway to error...

Self doubt is either the last thing I need at the moment, or the one thing I cannot do without. The tolerance for error has closed to nearly nothing, if it was ever very much. Even if I did think it was a brilliant idea at the time.

The team are doing well, they know that this is what all the rest led up to. This is it. Worthy opposition just round the corner, metaphorically speaking. Nothing left of that hunting party, and yes, the wards are going up around the old cathedral.

Wait, and sniff and think, and who do they have who's looking out from behind the wards? No-one? 'Good news- they've finally run out of expendables. Anyone they lose here on in hurts them.' Ignatius said, with a certain degree of optimism. Where now, sweep and clear the side altars? It would be a sensible move.

Sometimes sense could be anticipated. Probably would be this time, but it was still sensible because dropping the anticipators would help. All made for a cleaner world.

Laure was strangely less calm than her penitent. Albia was resigned to death, reconciled if not actually eager to do and die and prove her devotion, that she had been right all along; she was perhaps more certain of grace awaiting than was good for her, since she had been healed. The mistress was as nervous as a raw recruit, though, needing all her discipline to keep her countenance. Eager, frightened.

The three guardsmen were far from being at peace between themselves, and under weaker shielding something may have come of that. Aule probably would sacrifice himself, if he wasn't stopped, whether he needed to or not. Was keeping too quiet, because he wasn't a great soldier, hopefully not so quiet that he wouldn't pray when they needed him to.

Hasek had stopped thinking about what he was doing, largely, and was only thinking of it, narrowed down to how instead of why. Sensible, but possibly not particularly helpful. Bohr was trying not to be a prat, and not entirely succeeding- had been hurt earlier, had something to prove, and would by any means.

It would be a good idea to find something for them to hit after all. Up a spiral stair wide enough for a parade, so not much handicap, to a main corridor lined with with a thick carpet of writhing scum. Actually he had been aiming for the votive chapel of Saint Agshad, one of the few demi- humans ever to receive any real recognition from the cult, an ogryn acolyte.

This would do. No, wait, it wouldn't, it was mined- cursed. Kill them all and the act of doing so would liberate energies that- Ignatius thought before he could stop himself, their warpcraft isn't as good as they think it is, I could undermine that and turn it against them.

No, I couldn't, he realised, that was the trap. Trying that would supercharge and shortcut the ritual, call forth a lesser daemon that could itself call on the greater, a backhanded pact based summoning.

More elegant than he had been giving them credit for up to now. Whose idea had it been? The daemon's? It was possible, and it meant that the beast had no faith in it's followers, which is one edge. The major disadvantage was that it might be significantly more capable than its' followers.

How do I subvert this in a way that is reasonably clean and decent, but also unexpected? Death by their own hands? Romance, jealousy, murder? Unlikely they were much good as actors, might easily not play the parts he wrote for them. It would be stretching the definition of clean, too.

Arcane death in some way that disrupted the summons? Oh, ideal. Just a question of timing. Use this against them, trigger it at the same time as the primary- unless that would result in there being two of them. That could be entertaining, from the loyalist point of view. Providing you were willing to use that as a synonym for bloodsoaked madness, which compared to most Ecclesiarchy fetes- da- fe may still be preferable.

Speaking of other things that may be entertaining, he had intended to turn the team loose on them, and hadn't told them no. Bollocks. Several of which were already lazily tumbling through the air, which was also a feature of some church do 's, especially the ones that involved public recanting. Which this wouldn't- he couldn't call them back now, it was a moral impossibility.

Plan D84, then- that ornamental stairway at the end of the corridor led to where he wanted it to go. This was going to take a lot of power but it may be well spent.

Quickly, do nothing to stop it it or interfere in any way, but reach out to the team, practically smother them under the grey veil, go to the extent of almost convincing them they didn't exist, hide the vast majority of his own iceberg soul, and wait for the blood- powered blasphemy to work itself through.

They objected, wriggled, tried to shine out despite, but quieted once they realized what he was about. The daemon began to be, started to exist; the team looked at him in horror as he made no move to stop it. At peace, he hand- signalled to them. The trap I set is deadly enough for two.

Laure signed back, by the Golden Throne; I was assuming you secretly had a plan. You really were just improvising all along? He quoted the Praeforma back at her- improvise, adapt, overcome.

What he didn't say was that if it went tits up- a euphemism more directly relevant than usual considering it was the sisters' part he was was now most worried about- they'd have to fight and probably die to keep one busy while he dropped the other.

Psychokinetically obliterate that bridge when he came to it. For the moment- 'If I read my daemons aright, this is the backstabbing phase of the operation. We wait a beat for the cultists to fall out among themselves, then start culling whoever looks to be winning.

This is the bit the Inquisition don't like to talk about; the hypocritical part, where to suppress disorder among the debatably faithful they steam in with the full majesty and panoply of the faith, which we will do before the end- but not yet. Against the genuinely foul, deviant and daemonic, they tend to sneak up on them, stealth and discretion. If this strikes you as being backwards, you agree with me.

Right at this very second we're letting their trap backfire on them. They had a complicated bait and switch involving a smaller and more easily summoned daemon- that one- which is being as treacherous and backstabbing as such things usually are.'

Ignatius paused for a second, smiled as the sounds of carnage began again. One last thing to do, and it was the sound. Probably be too busy to sing, no oxygen to spare- easy enough to tell though, quite literally from the vibes, where the sound system control room was.

There was one entire wall for the main organ, or at least the remote controls for the servitors who worked it. No, the slaaneshi would have been unable to resist the innuendo, played with it and ruined it. Backups, the speaker system, there. What? Something that could serve as a hymn to humanity.

A couple of possibilities occurred, with varying shades of up and down- "All peoples that from Earth do hail" was a possibility, as was a certain Ode; briefly considered a song about corpses in the fields and dying for another emperor entirely, but then there was that Caledonian thing-

Close behind, around, he he could feel the psychic winds, ripples of cleansing icy righteousness piercing the warm, corrupt miasma. It was time.

Set up the sounds, and 'Mistress Laure, tactical handling of the battle is yours. I'm going to have to devote most of my attention to warpcraft, being the point man in the boarsnout, and I don't think I could give the physical mayhem the attention it deserves. Avoid the big gribblies, kill everything else.'

Her eyes shone, and she acknowledged 'in the name of the God-Emperor!'

'In nominae Homo Sapiens.' Ignatius said. In the name of all Mankind. Nodding to her to lead on, and she did, bounding up to the western nave of the main chapel, zeal amplified by material. She did, just, remember to pause and wave the rest forward, shouting 'come on' at them, before bounding forward into the floor of death.

Ignatius ambled along behind them, most of mind elsewhere swimming in this new- formed whirlpool of the Warp. Marshalling, gathering, shaping with ideas, here sharpening a ferocity, there alloying with a doctrine, hardening a love of comrades into a hate of the enemy, turning the holy thing that was a consecration into a holy cyclone, ready to implode and destroy the darkness.

The inner wall was smooth, and they had much else to worry about. What the dirty trick with the fake chaos counterattack, the imaginary psychosexual disease, had achieved (wrong in itself though it was), was to drive the still loyal main body of cultists to panic, and call upon their patron in a scrambled, frantic, half baked summoning, trying to bring it through before the renegade emergency backup daemon could kill enough of them to prevent that and seize the world for itself.

One band of cultists fought the other band of cultists, and the Imperial strike team fought them both, in the nave before the high altar, strewn with dying filth and broken furniture.

We are going to have to make this very good, Ignatius thought, because it would take a lot of sweeping, tidying, bleaching and possibly atom bombing before this place could really be called physically cleansed enough to even begin the spiritual side, normally.

On what had once been the holy of holies, there was a daemon and an amorphous shimmer trying to push it's way through and become one, struggling. The amorphous shimmer was stronger, and it was winning.

Partly because the first was distracted by the lyrics.

What was this nonsense, and how had it got there? There was supposed to be a pounding party tune, not this silly word ridden folk thing. And what strange, senseless words- what in the warp did "he maunna' fa' That" mean?

If a birkie was something that a lord could be, what side was the song on, was that good or bad? Pith o' sense and pride o' works didn't sound very chaotic. We daur be poor, if daur meant anything at all.

Then the last line and one of the previous lines clicked. Hodden Grey, and a' that? Shall Brothers be, an' a' that? Grey. Brothers.

"Fuck" was not a curse, to most Slaaneshi and things of the persuasion. More usually a promise. 'Hedonophobia!' It swore. 'Go back, you idiot, it's a trap-.'

The other daemon, the rightful conqueror, was trying to do that now. There were two Tzeentchian daemon princes standing behind it and pushing; not going to happen. They were enjoying this. Feeding a fellow daemon and immortal into the mincing machine was something they did not get to do nearly often enough. There would be political capital to be made out of this either way.

Just shove it through and get out before the trap slammed shut, the walls of the cyclone became impenetrable- only just- and sit back with the cosmological equivalent of a bag of popcorn.

Ignatius was aware, and troubled, that he had been aided by a further betrayal among the ranks of the damned; contingencies for that shaded past awkward towards magma bomb. Deal with it as it came. For now, act.

Of course it was a trap. It was also a chance to cut loose in a way he rarely got to do, a more than technical fight; where everything, souls and all, was at stake, where nothing should or would be held back.

Starting by dropping from the vault of the nave and landing halberd first on the daemon. That hurt; it was meant to. Using princes of darkness as stunt cushions was hardly recommended, but it did seem to work.

It had a second's opportunity there than it failed to take; Ignatius tried to think so loudly enough that it would hear, and try to take advantage of it next time. Which would be suicidal, if the rest of the plan came together. As it was it stung badly enough. He didn't want to hurt it badly enough to dismiss it, just to force it to draw strength through into the materium. That still meant fairly hard.

Leaving it with two halves of a head flopping about on its shoulders was towards the upper end of even that, but that wasn't where Slaaneshi daemons kept their intellect. Unfortunately. It would survive, but it would be too weak to hold the other one back, even with the ritual group dying fast.

Ignatius had, in fact, heard of Zorro; was even vaguely aware that he was a fictitious character from the early millennia of Old Earth. A mythic, and mythically good, swordsman. Writing my initial on something is glaringly easy, at least in sans serif, he thought.

Actually drawing a ward or a banishment with halberd point on a wriggling daemon is a shade harder. Trying to do it too soon, on a chaos scum who has not yet been battered into submission and is still fighting back, is just daft. That one was a bit premature.

At least we seem to be getting a greater variety of daemons these days; this thing isn't quite a daemonette, nor yet a proper keeper of secrets. Wasn't worth killing it all the way, just hammering it until it was suitably weakened. Tricky though even that was. Expert with hundreds of years in the field as he was, that damned thing could have tens of thousands- but wait; how many actual moments?

The slaaneshi were often the poorest and weakest of the great powers of darkness, on the field at least. Wasn't their chosen method. Attack the libido, attack the carnal imagination, sabotage and infect the uncertain, volatile links between mind and body, that was their preferred way. Count the number of times it had actually gone hand to claw with anything- might not be all that many; might not even be enough.

The sound of blades and lasfire from the main body of the cathedral rose and fell, the daemon refusing to react; Ignatius refusing to look round too, forcing himself to trust that they would be all right.

Spellwork- - not the blast and thunder of the Lord of change, special effects merchant that he was, or the fetid miasmata of the plague god; a tide of pink, yellow and puce, a sickening overdose of perfumes and pheromones that Ignatius knew he was supposed to react by trying to drive away.

If there was only one of them to deal with, he thought, I would. There isn't, though- can they see through their own rifts and fogs? They can't, can they? Step back, feel the other one starting to coalesce, accept the push and the pull and ride them to the materium- Emperor's blood, do none of these things have any loyalty to one another? The other one's just letting it happen- this is fantastic.

Manoeuvre 96 in the drill book. Impale. Lunge what would have been a quarter of a second too soon against a mortal opponent- the greater daemon materialized into place as the halberd slid through the same space. Coalesced around the nemesis weapon, head glowing with cleansing light. It tried to enjoy the sensation, but Ignatius could tell it was faking it.

What did it all mean to a daemon Lord, anyway? It was all second hand to them- figments of the human, and other, imagination as they were. Except through their possessees, they never genuinely experienced any physical sensations at all, never mind sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Born and forged on the death by sensation of an entire race of hypersensitives, and always again looking for that peak of ecstasy they were never again going to find.

Worship of the God of agony was close to an end in itself, but the warp beasts themselves were never fulfilled, never satisfied; never could be. Their worshippers were closer to fulfilment than they were- yielding, giving, enthralled submissive more whole than angry, insatiable, always searching dominant.

Closest they ever came, probably, was in taking a fresh soul. Couldn't let them have that, might as well put them out of their existential misery. The thing tried to disarm him by solidifying around it, tried to disconcert him by doing so with the lips of a vagina.

Expect sickness and head- fuckery fighting Slaaneshi, Ignatius thought, and rarely be disappointed. It's the tawdriness of the execution that really offends; how can something born of even an Eldar mistake be so crude? A simple bump and grind- don't any of them have a sexual imagination that rises above the level of a half- credit whore? Do they learn nothing from their minions?

Or it's bluffing. Nothing fancy, then. He blasted a heat shimmer of a psionic bolt into it just above the vaginal crevice, twisted the halberd slightly as he wrenched it backwards out of the daemon's perverse grip. That bolt would have burnt a minor daemon back to the warp outright; done for half a dozen of them, if they had been standing close enough together.

A greater daemon was a harder target than that, but not so much that it could take such a hit unflinching. It reeled back, thrashing and wailing, claws, tentacles and penile pseudopodia flapping through the mist.

Never take the creatures of the Warp at their own estimation of themselves, that was drummed in from day one. These things could take a stupidly gargantuan amount of punishment, from small hits at least. They welcomed the death of a thousand cuts; revelled in it, even.

Which made this slightly trickier. They knew they had been precipitated into this, that they were in a trap large parts of which were of their own making, that they were playing the game of an apparently renegade lunatic Grey Knight. To escape and survive, if not to triumph, their course was simpler. They had to go through him.

Not quite split second timing, the ritual, the blessing was not quite where he needed it yet- have to fence with them a little longer. It was their move, and things were almost too good to be true- the final move of a campaign should be, but this odd, un- natural spiritual ambush? Perhaps no-one sane could foresee the details, but they surely knew he was up to something.

Destroying him, one man not even in full armour, should be easy. Should be made even easier by the spiritual pressure pounding on his back, very little of which would be there if it truly knew what he was going to try.

The slaaneshi didn't; wouldn't have understood if he had told them, in all probability. They would think ending up with a wet devil was some kind of sex act. They frequently thought everything was some kind of sex act.

Even murder, most of the time. If they attacked him together- but they didn't, not yet. The first one, the lesser- the special minion- moved forward to occupy him, thrashing low with tentacles and sweeping higher with curved toothed lobster claw.

Ignatius chose to pretend to the last split second that he couldn't see it coming, the stepped forward to stamp on the cluster of them, actually dropped to one knee- landing heavily on another- and set to receive; the claw caught the tip of the halberd in the connecting tissue, flapping it limp.

Rolled sideways out of the way of the thing's other talon like hand, moved to try to get the two to tangle over each other. Saw an opportunity.

Reached out to the walls of the shimmering cyclone, the warp current he had wanted the team to form. A minor ripple, an eddy formed by the sabotaged ritual group earlier, by the righteous wrath of an angry army, by the intense if subtlety deprived faith of the sisters, and the spearhead of one errant Grey Knight.

This lacked ceremony, he knew. It did not lack blood and sweat, which was more important- and the end was the important part, anyway. let them trip over each other, let them run foul and fear. A war of millions, hundreds of millions, a war of the course of history, could be and had been ended in two words- "bomb gone". All that was necessary.

When you add together everyone who contributed to this, and uncoiled the corkscrew of a path he had come to this on, it had been a long, strange road indeed. The last step was the strangest.

Cease to hold in the centre, pile the tide high and let it surge; accept the will and the blessing- and direct it not towards the physical building, once sacred and now profane, but upon the daemons.

Bless them, consecrate them, shine the light of the cult and the faith upon them and use it to tear them apart. Thus the plan and thus the purpose, the candle in the dark. The atom bomb in the dark always looked more spectacular, though. See how much resistance they actually offer-

Hard to say who was more liable to be appalled- the sisters or the daemons, although at the moment it was the latter who were reacting really badly as Ignatius drove and developed the terms of the attack. They relied on, believed absolutely in their own propaganda. Sex and sensation- and very little else. What he did to them was essentially an act of grace- utter psychic invasion, also, but mainly grace.

Ride the tsunami of faith, focus it down into a jet that could cut steel and fouler than steel, smash into them and into their minds, soar over rolling, wriggling, moaning pastel psiscapes to the hollow heart, the mind- worlds behind being overwhelmed and washed away. There to the most audacious act of all. Convincing a pair of the spawn of evil that they needed the love of the God-Emperor.

I have been through enough of the minds of your kin, and followers, most of all of the Eldar exodite and living- damned, to know at least the story of the truth, he told them. Your Lord born in the death of a race, of their sensual madness.

I can see that you have never known the full story of how it is that they came to that madness, how much of it came through into you- and why it is you have never been able to reach the same peaks again.

You were born in and of cosmic despair, of the attempts to drown in sensation the grief of a species that knew it had taken its' death wound; conceived at the wake...of them you came, and much of them you retain, including the flaw through which they fell, including the void in the heart.

Ever searching for new and wilder sensation, madder and madder music, stronger and stranger drugs, kinkier and more anatomically dubious sex, and was any of it ever enough?

No- and it never could have been, because you were not born of physical sensation, but of spiritual; of the hollow hopelessness that destroyed them, of the story that you keep reliving-

I ask you, before the universe, warp, materium and all, on which we are all pieces- I ask you, by the rules of the game, were you ever fulfilled, even for a moment? Was there ever in there, in long careers of debauchery and corruption, one moment of perfect beauty?

It is not the sensations of the body that add up to an existence, but the sensations of the soul. As long as you only have the gifts of your birth, that blackened, burnt palette bequeathed to you, it is not by my standards alone that you hold place in the ranks of the damned.

Accept the blessing of the God-Emperor of Mankind, and all the colour and variety of the human soul. The pain and the grief and the misery are there in abundance, that I grant you, but they exist in unison with a hope and a love and a generosity you have never known. Renounce the broken past and embrace the meaning of man.

Ignatius dived so deeply into the moment he actually forgot he was supposed to be offering them an invitation to self destruction. What he had expected to happen if they accepted. If they actually did it would lead to a theological conundrum of the first order. As deep in, as catapulted through their defences by the spiritual pressure behind him as he was, he could do things more directly.

As one panicked and tried to push back, tried to reject him and hold to the power of darkness to which it so pathetically, venomously belonged, Ignatius pulled its' soul apart, pushed through, split, shredded.

Perhaps not an absolute K-kill, possibly short of what he had hoped for, but as ordinary banishments went, it was extraordinary indeed- a defeat thorough enough to prevent the thing recoalescing for millennia. Easier for the power to make a new one, but you didn't get constructive total losses on daemons.

The other, the keeper of secrets, whether he had convinced it that there was something it was missing, that there was something more to the universe, that there was a spiritual void at it's own sense saturated core, that there was a secret it did not know, whether it was only pretending to believe him, it took him seriously.

In doing so it abolished itself. Obliterated the conditions of its' own existence. Died, killed by faith and love in a way that banishment ordinary could never have achieved.

A true Chamber 101 result, a part of the rocky way of the human race made smooth. It exploded in a flower of golden white light, a nova of glory that outshone the sun.

There was no more to be done, and as the echoes died away in the scoured- clean vaulted nave of the once and redeemed cathedral, the errant brother Ignatius thought; now, at last, it is time to go home. The quest had a stranger beast in view than ever I had foreseen, but it is done.
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Tagzen » 2013-05-05 12:25pm

Right. Did anyone else see that coming?

Ignatius has set some plans in motion which, to the Imperium, would be highly questionable, and rightly so. But attempting to convert two demons/daemons, and succeeding in the case of one.....

He'll either be canonized or secretly dispatched, or both.If he doesn't draw someone else's ire first.

I applaud your ability to keep us guessing, Eleventh Century Remnant. Well done.
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2013-05-05 03:49pm

Since successfully converting the daemon caused it to explode, he's probably not going to get in trouble for that part.

On the other hand, I doubt he'd be commended. Who would believe him?
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Ahriman238 » 2013-05-05 05:10pm

The Sisters know what he did. Ignatius, you got 'splaining to do! Consider it practice for when you go back to Titan and compose a report on all this. The Inquisitor downstairs is probably curious too.

I seriously laughed when Ignatius remarked how easy it is to cut his initial with a blade.
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2013-05-05 07:35pm

Thank you Tagzen- I wasn't exactly aiming for so mad they'll never see it coming, well not deliberately anyway.
Simon- um, does the laconic nature of your comment indicate you think I've finally gone round the bend? :lol: Ahriman, I do try- gods (real and unreal) know, 40K is a universe desperately in need of recovering it's sense of humour.

If anything, he may cause significant casualties in the ranks of the ecclesiarchy and the inquisition through apoplexy- enough to make it worth the sacrifice of a daemon or two? (Even if it wasn't, Tzeentch would probably still pretend he planned it that way.)

There's also the point that it may actually suit the Chaos Powers in their own quarrels. If the Imperium can actually cause permanent casualties, then it gives them an interesting weapon to use against each other; manoeuvring rivals into the line of fire could be an entertaining sport.

The sisters definitely know, now- so does most of the army outside the walls. It does headquarters good to be kamikazi'd from time to time? In this case it made a martyr, and the anger of the rank and file was worth more than the loss of leadership. Their anger helped fuel the currents in the warp he was relying on.

The burst of psychic energy involved will be quite obvious to those attuned, and sufficient to raise the hairs on the back of the neck of any but an outright blank. Definitely questions to be asked about this.
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2013-05-05 07:43pm

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:Thank you Tagzen- I wasn't exactly aiming for so mad they'll never see it coming, well not deliberately anyway.
Simon- um, does the laconic nature of your comment indicate you think I've finally gone round the bend? :lol:
No, but maybe I have- "laconic" isn't normally a word people use to describe me.

The finish was very much in keeping with the overall theme: off-beat, an affirmation that yes, these superpowered warriors have a soul and a sense of what they are doing that stretches beyond the "ugh smash" things, the finish is no more mad than the middle or the beginning, and if that's madness then I wonder if we can get a barrel of it and mail it to Games Workshop. It'd be interesting to see their Seventh Edition actually contain some of the same themes that are in here.

[pictures Lensman Ignatius, idly]
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by LadyTevar » 2013-05-06 07:13pm

So... was he doing the I with the florishes, or a straight | cut?
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2013-05-06 08:34pm

Much odder than that; "Actually drawing a ward or banishment with halberd point on a wriggling daemon is a shade harder. Trying to do it too soon, on a chaos scum who has not yet been battered into submission and is still fighting back, is just daft. That one was a bit premature."

That was actually a plan B that didn't come off; a move towards setting it up for a conventional banishment, if the more radical move didn't quite work.

Apart from that, what do you reckon to the tale? Errant indeed, but-?

Simon, he has rattled around my head in a couple of potential other stories, but I have to admit that wasn't actually one of them. Unthinking xenophobe, no, that he isn't, but there's a huge gulf between being a relatively illuminated resident of the Imperium of Man and the broadmindedness needed to cope with the sheer variety of residents of Civilisation. That and the whole Arisian spore thing- the culture shock would be fairly severe.
Constant iron self discipline, and keeping his eyes closed most of the time and working by telepathy, might suffice, but then there would need to be a plot. Hm. (How well he's likely to fit in back on Titan is problematic enough.)

The other tunes he was considering were the Old Hundredth, Umi Yukaba and the Ode to Joy, by the way.

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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2013-05-06 10:08pm

Our Ignatius, dropped into Civilisation, would have a problem.

I'm more picturing... well, let's say, the kind of man Ignatius might become, as raised and reimagined in a different context. Anyone who could become a Grey Knight has, almost by definition, jets enough to rate "Lensman, Unattached," and to be a damn good one. But they'd be a completely different man raised in a different context- same potentials, different expressions thereof, so they'd be an alternate-historical version of themselves.

It's not like he and Kimball Kinnison would have that much trouble understanding each other, after all.
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by LadyTevar » 2013-05-07 12:01am

I"ll just say that this was a hell of a trip, since I had the chance to go back and read from the beginning. :)

He should head back for Titan, yes... but I don't know if he needs to be turned into a Cadet Trainer.
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Re: Knight Errant (40K) (finally found the epilogue)

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2013-11-01 09:28pm

I just realised when I found it in an odd corner of a folder of post- crash recovered data, I never actually posted the epilogue to this. Oops.

Some years later, then...

It was a confused and perplexed band of acolytes who followed the Inquisitor that cold, clear morning into what had once been a city, once almost become a hive. As she often did, she had given them no instructions, let them use- develop- their own judgement. They knew where they were going and when, but that was all.

It had been a place of battle, once; the site of a chaos infestation that had been, apparently successfully, burnt back- but even to those who normally needed to know, not this time. From those privy to secret knowledge, this was kept secret- to those empowered to recognise and enjoined to protect against a million dark terrors beyond the limits of humanity, this was the millionth and first.

Small surprise that in their business, they had feared the worst, and come prepared against it. Armour, weapons, gadgets- could carry it, it came. She emerged, dressed as simply as she usually did- mustard coloured armoured bodyglove, sidearm, that was all. She did not reproach them for their choices- perhaps, for them, they were appropriate.

The transport was a tekno- jeepney; a kitbashed, locally tinkered skybus built on the lift and drive engines of two superannuated, pensioned off Guard Vultures; the tech adepts and the seer refused to board at first, but the Inquisitor walked on without a second thought or a glance behind, evidently prepared to leave without them.

They scrambled on board and the thing lumbered unsteadily into the sky, driver terrified by his human and quasi- human cargo; towards what the inquisitor did not seem to care was a forbidden zone.

In the aftermath of battle, three things had happened, mostly contradictory. The city had been officially abandoned as a seat of government- hopelessly tainted- and d moves made towards a new planned hive, at the south pole- plans that had originally been submitted by a cultist. The locals tried to rebuild, patch up the repairable and cannibalise the irreparable, as could be. That and somebody with the spiritual sensitivity of a diseased guava had tried to establish a shrine to their salvation.

The city lived a peculiar half- life, dying and being reborn at the same time, and as soon as it became clear what it was actually channelling, the shrine idea was quickly classified under terrible wrathful curses for breaking the seal. Of course, they were going to visit the shrine.

There were no physical cordons set up to stop them, place was not organised enough for that. Slid too far down the memory hole. There was a ruined cathedral, directly ahead- fresh and white and gleaming as if it had been completed yesterday just with pieces blasted away. Made no sense .

Two psych adepts, one- the scholastica psykana trained professional- eyes rolled back in his head and he passed out; the other, ex guard sanctioned psyker, epileptic fit. The inquisitor glanced at the rest of her team to see that they were being cared for, moved on- no second glance. Wafted on the wings of her seal past wards, servitors, guardians, the rest of her retinue scrambling to keep up.

They found her in a chamber beneath the nave, in front of a statue- a group scene, unfinished; three men, two women, caught in the moment after the order to charge had been given but before they had moved to put it into effect. A block of stone behind them, more than human sized, the rough work done to carve it into the shape of a superman; abandoned, incomplete, uncompletable.

'Boss,' her senior acolyte caught up to her, whispered frantically, 'this is interdicted territory. Totally forbidden, even to-'

'This is how I became an acolyte.' The Inquisitor said, quietly. The body was merely a shell; life prolonging, rejuvenation, was sometimes a tactical necessity, never a social one- she liked being slightly older, but foresaw some need for violence in the near future. At the moment she was young enough to be recognisable.

They looked, stunned, transfixed, from the penitent, chainsword raised, in the statue- snarling with holy wrath- to their leader, lord and mistress, realising appalled that it was so but unable to make the mental connection, Adepta Sororitas, Repentia yet, to Hereticus Inquisitor? How, what, why?

'She walked round it, looking at the chisel marks, weighing it. The sculptor had tried to get it wrong, tried to produce generic, standard style officially approved inspirational pablum, but the dreams or the nightmares had intervened, he hadn't been able to stop himself getting the faces right.

He had left out a few things, the scars and the worry lines we were all carrying by then; no, that's not right, I did look like that at that moment, I had been...blessed. The handle of the chainsword's wrong, because he did start to cut it down into a lascutter emitter, but they stopped him before it could be made too accurate. Certainly before he could move on to their champion.

The acolytes were restless. Long speeches, many words- not her, really, never had been, before or after. Certainly not during. However, they probably were owed some kind of an explanation. The fact that they needed quite so much of one was depressing. No-one became an acolyte in a conventional manner, there was no 'normal' means of joining the Inquisition, they all knew that.

That day of days had not been the time for normal, he entire universe seemed to have turned inside out. There had been loss and tragedy as well as triumph incalculable, though, she thought looking at the faces of her comrades. The sea of cultists they had confronted, though, it was a miracle any of them had walked, or limped, away.

Laure, mistress, loving tyrant. It would have better if she had lived, but in the mutant faces of the enemy, and with his eye on her, what else could she do but throw herself at them? She had charged headlong at the most visible cult magus, scattering their followers before her and eviscerating a huge hole in their battle plan, as well as many of the minions. With him out of the way any hope the cultists had of appealing to their crazed lords, turning the situation, would be gone.

They knew this, and turned to prevent it, throwing themselves between her and the magus- I kept up as best I could, the Inquisitor (former penitent) thought, but the holy wrath was in her that day and I could not hold her back. Trailing blood and armatures shredded out of her armour Laure had fought through them, split the magus in half, turned to face the cultists and been inundated under a tide of mutants- they had literally thrown themselves at her, burying her in bodies, tried to drown her in their blood.

Succeeded, too. I tried to get her out, mine her free of that humanoid shale of cartilage and cauterised meat, but there were too many cultists who yet lived. I could have died with her, but I have gone on to live such a life as I think can justify itself. Which in the Hereticus is quite a feat. She could have, too, but she was ready- no, willing to accept her own death as the price of success.

He had wanted her to survive, had said that- there was so much more she could have gone on to do if she had lived, this is why death is a sacrifice, It's the ones most willing to lay down their lives in defence of others that we most need alive.

If they could do nothing else, at least they had made an example of her- actually they had made a saint of her, which must have made the decision afterwards to bury and forget about the whole business interestingly awkward. The sisterhood had kept the bits of her that had survived the cleansing funeral pyre as holy relics, strangely the largest single piece had been her spine.

Aule had been changed by it, had gone completely berserk, chanting a litany of what sounded like very old style names that were not eldritch, but invocations of the medical art- Lister, Pasteur, Grey, Dupuytren, Barnard, Avicenna, Hippocrates- shouting about lancing the boil, burning out the cancer; using scalpels as throwing knives, forcing one of the eggs down a cultist's throat where it ate him from the inside out, then gutting him with a bonesaw to retrieve it;

He had been highly effective, certainly worth his keep, had keeled over from exsanguination, not quite bled out before the relief force had up to them. He claimed to remember nothing on waking up; eventually they let him go, he went on to open a string of orphanages and free clinics across the sector. Two of her acolytes had come from there, and were looking at their patron in confused wonder.

Bohr had been one of the casualties. Strictly speaking he had committed suicide, although he had had a choice between dying clean or dying gooey; blown up his lasgun power packs when he had been mobbed by a gang of Slaaneshi warrior prostitutes. Brittle, terribly brittle; brought along as an object lesson for those of us who were likely to survive.

Hasek had been the most cool headed of them in the fight, but got out of the guard as soon as may be- not to hide, not to evade further duty; somehow the paperwork had been shuffled for him, and he reappeared in the uniform of the Adeptus Arbites. Risen far and fast- he was a deputy chief sector marshal now. Two wives, nine children that he admitted to. She had worked with him, not so long ago- effective, but had to be prevented from trying to seduce her assassin. Randy old bastard.

I would like to complete this statue, she thought. Get the kit right, put the scars and the exhaustion in, show how close we were to the end. Five of us, but I cannot because it was not a group of five, the largest piece, the keystone is missing. Even now, I was never able to discover the fate of our guide and mentor.

The Grey Knights barely even admitted that they existed when someone from the Malleus asked; they certainly did not go into details. As a Hereticus inquisitor- lacking the psychic talent- they would tell her nothing.

In fact, it had been like this.

'Our errant has repeated himself.' Falco grumbled. 'Something so utterly steeped in madness that it is almost transcendental.' No, he retracted privately, not even almost. The problem was that he had imagined himself trying it, and failed.

'There remain very few good ways to extend the limits of the possible.' Lord-Inquisitor Fournier said. 'In a manner demanding sanction?'

'Sanctification, possibly- he converted a greater daemon of Slaanesh to the Imperial Cult. Which was not possible, until he contrived circumstances that it should be so.' How many of those circumstances lived within his own head? As a soldier, as a man of war, their errant was very good, excellent even, but as a religious man, he had a dangerously generous faith. Now what did that really mean?

Fournier was a hard man to shock. To anyone but an Astartes, his face hardly twitched as he thought through the implications. 'How many lesser lights would we lose attempting to duplicate this feat? How many mens' souls would we demolish if it became generally known how thin the line between ourselves and Chaos is? How many radicals would we breed if they imagined that they could cross that line and perhaps find a way back? No, this cannot be publicly celebrated- must not be widely known. Put the genie back in the bottle.'

'And the man? He is supposedly on his way back to Titan to report, at last- I can see what must be done, but it amounts to executing a man for excessive heroism, and one of the inner circle privy to all sorts of secret knowledge at that. He achieved the impossible. Without doubt and without question. I see the practical objection- but do we always have to murder our own, each and every time? Are we really so determined to lose? '

'How would you have him dealt with then, Captain?'

'Nothing about him is sufficiently normal- in an ordinary course of events, I would have tried to tame his excesses with responsibility, with duty close under a senior officer's eye, but he was too heavily marked as an odd man out from too early in his service. He is always quoting from the preaeforma, I wonder- any move towards normalising him would have to start as a bridge, from being as odd as the man himself to something closer to codex normal. I can see a way- only one way- in which it could be done.'

'Submit a plan in writing by the end of the day. And make sure you get him back and debrief him first- it may be another ten thousand years before the circumstances are right to try again, but I do want to know how it was done.'

an interview room, carved directly into the strangely iridiscent, oil- film rock of Titan's lower crust.

As well hung for sheep as a lamb...'Captain, this is not what I came home for. I came back in order to control my own wilder excesses and fit back into the spiritual discipline of the chapter, even if I do have a technical defence against being absent without leave I still expected to sweat for it at least, but this is beyond the sensible. Since when have we ever- ever- sent volunteers to the Deathwatch? Especially ones who didn't exactly volunteer?'

The outburst was not unpredictable, but it was also unhelpful and irrelevant. He should know better. Brother- Captain Falco put him in his place. 'You have a permanent black mark against your name, you should know better than that. You may have broken new ground in the field of daemonology; but. We can do nothing for you, having achieved one of our absolute handful of Chamber 101 results it would make little sense to do anything against you, and I do not think you would fit back into the ordinary ranks of the Chapter. A tesseract shaped peg in a round hole.

The only option is to revive a truly ancient ritual; posting. The imperial cult would not necessarily survive your joining the priesthood, I do not care to consider what you would do with a legitimate rosette, but fortunately we do have one descendant chapter, who do not yet have any strictures in place against you. You'll do a tour in the Deathwatch, then- the fix is in, don't question it- return to the Librarium of the Exorcists.'

'It might take me ten years to make sense of it.' Ignatius said. 'You don't want me to pass anything on, then, to the very- the only- people I should be talking to? I know I told the team a lot, possibly too much; granted it worked, but I need to get back into the habit of thinking things like that are a bad idea. I don't exactly expect to enjoy it, I'm not happy arguing for it because I can tell how much it's going to hurt, but I need help to stop me losing the plot.'

'You'll get it- by mixing with a dozen other chapters' outcasts, wierdos and oddballs. Dismiss.'
The only purpose in my still being here is the stories and the people who come to read them. About all else, I no longer care.

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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by drakensis » 2013-11-02 03:49am


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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Ahriman238 » 2013-11-02 02:26pm

and a worthy epilogue it is. Mind, I'm not sure the Deathwatch OR the Exorcists are ready for Brother Ignatius either.
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Re: Knight Errant (40K)

Post by Lazy St Daniel » 2013-11-03 08:22am

I've lurked for years now on this board. Years and years.

Finally registered to comment on a story or two. Howbout that.

ECR... I loved this story. I followed this thread from the beginning, and regularly checked back to see if it was updated.

Hasek was by far and away my favorite character.

Thanks for writing, and for finishing it up, giving it closure.

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