Fairly short chapter this time, but I have realised that I update a lot more regularly if I limit myself to short 'portions'. I wrote this from scratch in a couple of hours, but it fits into my plan and the idea was just too cool to leave out.
Felix the eeveetrainer – Problems when this is over? Personally, I think he has problems right now. After all, the chaos gods don't really give out such strength free of 'charge'. There will be hell to pay (literally) later, mark my words.
Muzikman – Yeah, I see what you mean about perhaps he is a little 'too' powerful. Still, I have a reason for this. The C'tan are basically the ultimate power in the physical universe. They have never actually taken to the field entirely, the Necrons have only ever summoned manifestations of them in the past. An actual C'tan is going to be seriously powerful. After all, the Nightbringer singly-handily imposed a fear of death in just about every sentient race in the galaxy. Think about it.
General warning here: I have decided that this story is not going to end with sunshine and happiness. There will be pain and horrible stuff aplenty, don't worry. This is basically because the 'happy ending' is just entirely against the whole 40k setting. If you don't like it, tough.
Pollo looked up sharply, breaking out of the reverie that he had fallen into. For a moment he couldn't quite place what it was that had disturbed him, but then he saw the Eldar. For the entirety of their wait thus far, every last Exarch and even Khulan had remained shock still, expressionless, regarding the archway. Pollo had presumed that they were all mulling over the possible consequences of what Cannis had tried… no, evidently succeeded, to do. The Eldar had always struck him as a people that worried far too much about the future. Then again, he would probably worry about it if he could actually foretell it.
Now however, all of the Eldar were staring in a kind of horrified wonder at the scene outside the translucent membrane. Although Pollo had absolutely no wish to look at the broiling maelstrom of the warp, he felt himself almost compelled by curiosity as to what held their attention so effortlessly. Without meaning to, he glanced in the same direction, and understood.
There was a figure hanging there, floating just outside the webway, and it was looking at them. There had been plenty of other creatures peering in at them every other time Pollo had ventured into this extra-dimensional tunnel network, but none of them had ever displayed more than a passing interest. This one was hanging there, perfectly still, and regarding them all steadily. It was without doubt trying to get their attention.
Pollo could not make out the Daemons shape exactly, but he got the distorted picture of something remarkably humanoid, although with a pair of great wings sprouting from its back. The ethereal creature drifted forwards slightly, and laid one clawed hand against the membrane surface. What happened next shocked Pollo far more than anything he was expecting. The daemon began to write on the surface. As it moved its claw over the surface of the tunnel, faint lines remained there for a few moments before fading. Although that meant they could not see the entire message at once, its meaning was none-the-less horribly clear to all of them.
Return to your craftworld. Cannis shall meet you there.
Its task complete, the daemon removed it hand and drifted away again, leaving both human and Eldar to stare at each-other in shock. There was a heavy pause. Then, they started to run.
Several light minutes aft of the mighty craft world Biel-tan, space was beginning to distort. The Eldar had long possessed a fearsome reputation among the ships of the Imperial Navy for the efficiency and range of their detection systems, which generally made it nigh-on-impossible to surprise them. However, this anomaly had totally evaded detection up until now, something which the technicians aboard the craftworld were at a total loss to explain. As far as they could tell, at one singular point on the far edge of the local star system, space was simply beginning to fold in on itself. The sensor readings made no sense.
Rapid cross-checks were carried out, the Eldar manning the craftworlds systems hurriedly comparing their readings with every last celestial event on record. The results came back just as the Khulan, Pollo and their companions arrived back on the craftworld through the massive central entrance to the webway. There had only ever been one event at which the craftworld had been present, that even slightly matched the readings that were being given. Only one event, but the memory of it was etched indelibly into the mind of every Eldar, for it had heralded the fall of their civilisation.
The creation of the Eye of Terror.
Pollo stared at the screen in horrified fascination, watching as the long-range viewers mounted near the aft of the monolithic craftworld struggled to accurately interpret the frankly bizarre events occurring much too close for comfort. All that the screen could show was a perfect rendition of the star-field behind the anomaly. And yet, there was something wrong about it.
It reminded Pollo of a reflection in a puddle of water, and how the image is distorted by ripples caused by the dropping of a stone. There was a small area in the middle of the picture, around which light appeared to be being refracted. Logically Pollo knew that was impossible, as there was nothing in space that could distort an image like that, but it was happening all the same. Not only that, but he had a sneaking suspicion that he knew why that was happening.
He was proved right. With a sound like wet parchment tearing (despite the fact that he knew that, without air, there could be no sound) and the stink of brimstone (no matter how impossible that was), the distortion vanished. There was half a second of total silence, and then chaos reigned as the Eldar registered what their eyes were telling them.
Something was just sitting there, floating in the void as though it had never been anywhere else, and yet Pollo was sure that it had not been present when he had entered the Webway with Cannis and the others. It was ominously dark, and yet somehow ablaze with a power that seemed totally at odds with what his senses were telling him. The first thing that suggested itself to the eye was a double pyramid shape, one on both top and bottom. At first he though that it was just a giant diamond shape, but then he saw the centre. The two pyramids were separated by a large X of black metal, nestled snugly between them. The whole thing had an inexplicably organic look to it, and it was with a surge of dread that Pollo recognised the design. He had never seen one before, unsurprisingly, but there were legends surrounding this object and its twins that matched anything in the galaxy for sheer terror. Judging from the panic now residing in the immediate area, he was not alone in his recognition. Khulan hissed something to himself, his face a mask of dread.
"A Talisman of Vaul…"
Pollo didn't recognise the name, but that was to be expected. Doubtless the Eldar knew those devices by an entirely different name, but humanity had long know them by a far simpler identification. For centuries they had been the mightiest weapons the Imperium possessed, until the ruinous events of the Gothic War. Then, as their shadow fell across a dozen doomed worlds, their terrified victims had whispered their names in disbelieving horror.
"A Blackstone Fortress…"