Date Published: 23/09/2013
Date Re-Edited: N/A
Warhammer and Mass Effect, are the sole properties of Games Workshop/THQ and Bioware/EA Games respectively. This is a work of Fiction, as well as non-profit, and thereby complies with their 'Term and Conditions' stipulated by the Companies themselves. The only thing I seek to gain with this Literary Work; is to improve my Creative Writing abilities, and if in the process someone were to enjoy what I have written…
So be it.
=Radio Transmissions/Synthesised Voices=
+=Computer Text/Coding/Written Text=+
Warhammer Date/Time Keeping
+=[Mark: +/- The Time since or before the Mission Started]=+
+=[Days (1 to 365):Years(1 to 999):Millennium (M3=2000/M31=30000)]=+
+=Imperial Legion Barracks=+
+=[mark: – 46.54.04]=+
Muffled foot steps, echoed across a dim Crypt of a Chamber filled with fallen stones. A robed shadow approached a large hunched statue in the midst of this Tomb.
This Statue seemingly carved from granite, covered in etchings and arcane carvings, which seemed to flow down the monoliths form. The Horse-Shoe, the Double-Headed Eagle, the Crux-Terminus, all shrouded in wreaths of Ivy and the Feathered Wings of Eagles. Each and every symbol surmounted by Arcane runes, that seemed to be alive in the dim candle-light.
The Monastic shape – unceasing – never stops his sombre march onwards, towards the Ancient before his Slab of Stone. Two pin-pricks of light sparkle within the cowl of our intrepid hero, glimmering like a pair of silver denarii upon the eyes of the Dead. His foot-steps… muffled, his progress silent and inexorable, a sombre procession of One. He casts his head from side to side as if … weary, to wake the Slumbering Giants that lay within this Tomb. Clasped to his breast – almost Lovingly – is a small Electrum Chest (smaller than the Palm of a Cherubs Hand).
He Stops at the Foot of the Tomb behind the Silent Guardian, turns to the Granite Watcher and Utters a single word that will change the Fates of not one, but Two Galaxies. "Sigmund," speaks the Shadow, seemingly bringing the form of the Stone Guardian to Life. The Chiselled (but youthful) features of the Ancient Guardian, turns toward the sound – and with a wolfish grin – and asks, "have you brought it, Quartermaster?"
Above that feral grin, where a pair of beveled orbs, that glowed with an inner cerulean Flame. They sparkled with mischief, and a burning inner desire for Knowledge.
His gaze seemed to dim the meager light from the solitary candle, held in the right-hand of Hooded Shape. Which countenanced his Savage visage, it belied the beauty of the seven Aquamarine Spirals (of Celtic Braids) covering the right-hand side of his face (from Crown, to Nose, to the very tip of his Chin). All of his Tattoos originating at his right-eye Spiraling outwards and onwards, each line the culmination of innumerable Runes, of Fenrisian Origin. Each Rune on his face, much like those of his leather under-suit, seemed to writhe under the gaze of the casual observer.
"Yes, Sergeant," spoke the figure, seemingly making the rank sound like an insult.
"How it came to be there, in a Storage room intended for the purpose of contain gardening implements, is anyone's guess. Emperor knows who decided that it would be safe in the Right-hand of a small rose-quartz Cherub," sarcasm dripping from his voice.
The Mountain before him began to rumble, and a Chuckle (like a landslide) followed shortly after. He extended a hand towards the figure, and the Quartermaster placed the small Treasure in his palm, his own hand seemingly dwarfed by the shear Size and Bulk of Sergeant Sigmund. "Why Thank You, my Good Man," purred the Mountain known as Sigmund, "I hope this doesn't sound rude of me, but I Suggest you leave, quickly."
Bellow the Hood, a single eyebrow approaches unseen, the enshrouded hairline and a voice Drenched and Dripping with Sarcasm queries, "may I ask why, my Lord?"
"I am about to wake my Brothers. Loudly," the Sergeant responds, his tone of voice emotionless.
"I still don't-," began the Quartermaster.
"Did you notice any caffeine on the Counter, when you entered the room, my friend?" interrupts Sigmund.
"Then … what do you think would happen, when sixteen decaffeinated giants Wake, to discover – like you – that their one and only Vice is – conspicuously absent? Said Giants, with the ability to tear Ogryns Limb from Limb?"
"What about you then?" the small man queried sarcastically, "why wait, to put me in harms way?"
"I had to wait for you to bring me the Firing-pin for my Bolter, first," the Sergeant replies somberly, "I am no fool, my Good Man. I'll only risk the decaffeinated dead, once I am appropriately armed."
A little chuckle escaped the diminutive hooded figure, "the Burden of Leadership is both Heavy and Dangerous."
He turns to leave and calls over his shoulder, "better you than me."
The Sergeant (smiling) turned back to his grey slab, which under the light of a single candle, turns out to be a grey blanket over a Spartan mattress. Upon the grey blanket is a dismantled weapon, its proportions are… enormous, but in the hands of the man before it …
By some unknown design – by some unknown form of Euclidean Geometry – the Modified, Godwyn Pattern Bolter, was not just some tool, not merely an extension of the man. No it was a part of Him. He had waited… and now with the final penultimate piece – he would be whole. He opened the delicate box and removed a new firing-pin, with an air of grace and dexterity that seemed impossible for a man of his Size, and slid it into the Receiver. He chuckled, as he remembered the look on the face of the Quartermaster, when he had asked the poor man to walk two hundred and twenty-two paces (exactly), from the dormitory and then to enter the second door on his right.
He would find what I would need in the hands of a Little Angel.
All this to project an Aura of Mystery, he thought, it was so-much easier before the Trial of Magnus the Red… er- I Mean the Edict of Nikea.
Before the dissolution of the Libraries, he could have twiddled his thumbs and the citizenry would have been in awe of him. Now… well it required a bit more skill. A bit of clever paperwork, and someone – accidentally – misplacing a small shiny box. That would turn up in a Mysterious Location, that he had to spend a whole afternoon pacing to find – in the first place. Then a small note, to a Key member of the Administratum (key as in, "the biggest Gossip"), and his Aura of Mystery would be maintained.
Me thinks it may have fallen a bit flat, thought Sigmund, perhaps (in hind sight) if I had chosen a statue that hadn't been using its' other hand to pick its' nose – perhaps then the Aura of Mystery would been maintained. The purpose of it all, well… he wasn't certain, just that it was of critical importance. Probably.
He would not admit that it was because he was bored, no he would never admit to that.
He would never admit that spending the last three weeks in this dormitory, was boring.
He would never admit that having nothing to do for those three weeks, but maintaining his war-gear, was boring.
He would never admit that the proceeding Six Months stranded on-board the Strike Cruiser "Ultramars' Fury" (which had been collecting loose elements of the XIII), was boring.
He would never admit that, but that didn't make it any less true.
But not Today.
No today something was going to happen, something they had to do. Something that had diverted them from their rendezvous with the rest of the XIII, and the XII, at Calth. That something was a Mission that had come straight from the Sigilate himself. So something was important, and that there was the Problem.
Even for an Ultramarine, his obsession with Collecting and Processing Information was at best described as 'Eccentric.' He had agreed to join the Chapter Librarium, instead of being sent to the Mechanicus, for the simple reason that he would have gotten more Knowledge from one than the other (and the fact that he could read other peoples minds may have been a factor too). Even compared to the average space marine he was unnaturally active. He was always actively preparing, always actively training and always actively hunting down the enemy. He had prepared more Theoreticals and Practicals than anyone else within the XIII, with the probable exception of Guilliman himself. Without information, he couldn't properly prepare and there were only so-many times you could dismantle and polish your Bolter before you started losing the fiddly bits (like the Trigger or a Firing-pin). Perhaps that was another reason why he wasn't sent to the Tech Priests. After the third 'whoops' they would have sent him back to his Chapter (in pieces).
Speaking of which… he slid the Receiver into the Housing of his Modified Godwyn Pattern Bolter. A rather ingenious design of his own devising that – to all but the most Learned Observer – appeared no different from a Regular Bolter. A Clever Baffle design on the Receiver (made the Bolter quieter), a revolutionary Bayonet configuration within the Housing (allowed the User to rapidly change the Barrel), and Two separate Barrels (a short standard Barrel and a Modified Suppressed "Stalker Bolter" Barrel) allowed for Greater Range and Versatility. He racked the Bolt, and set down the empty weapon. Now came the moment he had been dreading all night.
"Alright you Bastards, up an' at 'em. The enemy ain't gonna kill 'emselves."
+=Transit to Chiron Relay=+
+=[mark: - 28.12.01]=+
Darkness. Closeness. Can't Breath. Can't Hear. Can't see.
What is that Booming. So Alone.
Let me out.
Let me out.
Let me out.
LET ME OUT!
A pod opens, a shape falls out.
Its breathing is ragged, its shoulders are shaking.
A Haggard face, rocking from side to side.
In the Dim light, the figure stumbles upright.
The Face is bleak, Haunted and Drawn.
But the Eyes, the Eyes are different…
An Emerald Flame, a Heart-Shaped Face, and a Halo of Blood.
But… you are always drawn back into those Eyes.
On anyone else, those eyes would foreshadow Madness.
On anyone else, that Haunted gaze would prophesize Oblivion.
On anyone else, those eyes would Foretell Death.
Like a Drawn Bow, with Hardened Sharp Lines, baring a Predatory Grace.
Those Eyes burn, with determination – burningly critical – searching for weakness.
By the time you leave those Eyes, the Creature that crawled out of that Coffin is Gone.
The Being… no. The Woman… no. The Commander… Yes.
She who would Command.
She who would Lead.
She whom you would Follow.
Moves Precise, not an once of energy wasted, the epitome of Military Precision.
And so ready to strike, Commander Jane Shepard marches forward to meet the Galaxy head-on.
God Damn Akuse, Shepard thought, never a moment's peace.
She marched into the galley area and grabbed a Cup of Coffee.
So-far, so-good, the optimist in her laughingly thought, no annoying Turians, no wise-ass Pilots, and maybe – just maybe- I might escape the clutches of 'the Doctor from the Id.'
She sneaked forward, toward the stairs to the CIC, maybe, just maybe today she would-
"Commander Shepard," the herald of her Doom began, "I hope you had a pleasant evening?"
And so it begins, she thought morosely.
"Good Morning Doctor," she began with fake cheerfulness, "I had a nice and peaceful night, of deep restful sleep."
"No Dreams?" queried the Doctor.
Dim yellow fog…
Hard Ground beneath her Feet…
Another one dies…
They were running…
The Ridge is so far away…
Another Shriek, another Death…
Again and again, over and over…
Thought, flowing, like Ice…
An Eternity between each Step…
An Age between each fevered Breath…
We're so Close…
Just a Bit Longer…
Safe. We're Safe, we're Alive.
She turns to her squad, and…
There's no-on there. She. Is. Alone.
No. no. nonononono. Nooooo!
They can't be. They can't be –
Shepard breaks out of her waking Dreams, and looks the Doctor in the Eye.
"No," she states emotionlessly, "No Dreams."
Doctor Chakwas looks sceptical at this, but she never got to her ripe old age without knowing when to pick her battles.
"Okay, Commander. I'm here if you need me," doctor Chakwas replies, deciding that discretion is certainly the better part of Valour.
The Doctor returns to her office, leaving the Commander to her internal reflection. Every night she sees their faces, every God-Damn night, every God-Damn soldier on her God-Damned Doomed Patrol. It had been six months, six peaceful blessed months without a Flash-Back, and two months since she stopped twitching at the mere mention of that God-Forsaken Planet and those Hell spawned Creatures.
She had only on question, since… then. Why?
Why am I alive?
Why did I survive?
Why not those in Cover?
Why not the Others?
The Answer was given – time and time again, over and over – the Brass and Doctors saying it so much that even they believed the Bullshit they were selling. They believed that if they said it enough, over and over, that she would believe it too. That Answer?
Bullshit. There are Adepts stronger than her, Sentinels smarter than her and they expected her to believe that she survived because of her little Vanguard Barrier. Bull-Shit.
She ran just as fast as everyone else.
She had the basic Equipment, same as everyone else.
Why wasn't she dead, just like everyone else.
'Survivors Guilt' they called it.
She needed therapy they said.
It was all in her head they said.
PTSD Bullshit she determined.
She needed Answers she determined.
There was something wrong with that mission she determined.
They threatened to Drum her out of the Alliance.
They told her to stick to the official line.
They ordered her to go see their therapists.
She went to their therapy. It cost them three therapists.
Three therapists who were unable to confirm the official diagnosis of the Brass.
Three therapist who couldn't believe the official line themselves, after she was done with them.
She stood on the precipice of change, she was about to be cast out of the only life she had ever known.
She was about to Leap, when he pulled her away from the edge of the Cliff.
The only Officer to believe her, in her eyes she saw that he had an inner pain within him too, a pain she saw every time she looked in a Mirror.
He stood up for her, he got her into the N7 Program, he built her back up again.
Together they did good. Together they started to help people. Together they hunted down some Bad-Guys.
Together they investigated Akuze. Together they tried to get the Brass to see the Truth – and when that failed – Together they went to Parliament.
In the end, all they did was erect a Memorial. A small victory a least.
I guess that was to be expected, reflected Shepard, all we had was the Signal from a Missing Distress Beacon and a whole lot of unknown. Well at least Captain Anderson helped me find closure.
Shepard panned her gaze across the Galley Table, "well, since I'm here already, may as well catch a small bite to eat, bef-,"
=Commander to the Bridge. Commander to the Bridge=
"Grrr-… On my way Joker," she replied exasperatedly.
=Just following your Orders, Commander= replied Joker Sardonically =and I quote, 'make sure I am there, when you need to do something important," end quote. And since I have nothing better to do than being your PA, well…=
"Noted Joker," replied the Commander sarcastically, "just remember I would kick your ass, if it didn't mean so much paperwork after the assault."
=Then I'll spend the rest of my life living in fear of the Brass eliminating the need for Paperwork, Commander=
Shepard just shook her head, most of the time Joker was a Sarcastic Ass, and occasionally he cheered her up. And Hey, she loved watching him being a Sarcastic Ass at others, for all of the seventy-two hours she had known him.
She turned and marched toward the CIC, the last thing going through her mind at the Time was, at least that ass Nihlus hasn't found me yet.
+=Personal Chambers of Malcador the Sigillite=+
+=[mark: – 07.04.01]=+
An Enigmatic Smile.
So many views, so many opinions, so many many theories for a Smile that is almost… not there.
He had always subscribed to the Theory that she had a… Secret.
One that was hers Alone.
One that she wasn't going to share.
One… Terrible Secret, behind that Cheshire Cat Grin.
Who was she?
Was she a Noble?
Was she a Mistress?
He had heard many – oh… so many – theories on who she was, but only one man had ever given him a satisfactory answer. A man – he had briefly met – known as Kasper Hawser had spoken to him about it, at a Charity Dinner for the Unification Council decades ago. Poor Kasper, he never knew whom he spoke to, and then he decided to disappear into the Tundra. He had heard rumours of the Conservator joining the Sons of Russ on Fenris, as a Skajld (a "Story Teller", of all things).
His eyes returned to the Portrait. According to Kasper he and a few other Conservators had uncovered some ancient data stacks from the Catacombs of Neo Paris, with speculation (funnily enough, from a group of "Notable Historians of the Day") that the women in the portrait was actually a composite. She was the ideal of pure beauty, for the Artist anyway. He chuckled at that; her hair (while curled) was mostly plain, her dress was dull and unflattering, and finally her face was almost so shapeless as to be described as completely androgynous. The only entrancing thing about her was that smile, oh… and her fringe was a bit wispy. Kasper had an answer for that too, it was incomplete. It was recovered from the side of the Artists' Deathbed by his Apprentice. He had spent decades on his masterpiece, never letting go, never satisfied, always improving it. A work in Progress, that little bit that was his. Ah… he could understand the appeal, always creating something for others and never having any of your own.
There was a moral in there somewhere, he thought.
And then there was the restoration… The original frame had been damaged, blackened and burnt along the edges, around the edges of the Canvas the frame had retained a brown tint. The new frame surmounted the edges of the old, with a darker Mahogany-Substitute. It made the Portrait… brighter.
The damage was perhaps prophesized by the painting itself, most people never saw beyond the subject, but the background could best be described as Cataclysmic. Rivers changing course, the ground splitting open and the mountains being cast down. Poor Leonardo, he was… complex, and probably misunderstood too.
Malcador turned away from the 'Mona Lisa', his eyes passing across the other treasures he kept in his personal chambers. From 'Sunflowers' by Vincent Van Gogh, and his newly (relatively) acquired copy of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare" – in its glass case – circa Late Second Millennium sourced from the roving Tribes of Sycorax. His thoughts turned back; to another misunderstood man he once met.
Poor Kasper, the Sigillite thought, common wisdom – at the time you left – was that Shakespeare only wrote three plays.
He chuckled slightly; we didn't even have any of his Poetry then.
His morning contemplation done for the day, the First Lord of Terra turned back to his desk. With its almost-but-not-quite Mahogany Substitute and the beautifully crafted scaled green leather top. You couldn't see the desk top at the moment, under the mountain of neatly organised towers of paper. The desk was a gift from the enigmatic Vulkan, with its pristine cured-salamander leather. The paper, well… that was a gift from everybody else. He had Orders for: Construction, Maintenance, Resupply, Recruitment, Reformation, Dissolution, Absolution. You name it he had ordered it. And in return (as if by some bizarre form etiquette) he got even more paperwork.
Requests for: Confirmation, Clarification, Explanation, Extrapolation and more god-damn Information. Everyone of these 'requests' with the express intent of either stalling for time or trying to get him to change his mind. As if by some bizarre logic, the more 'polite' letters they sent, the more likely he was to change his position. The three parchment towers on the north-west quadrant of his desk – comprised entirely of rejection and reconfirmation letters – contradicted this belief significantly.
It was to one of the smallest towers that his eyes where drawn, it only consisted of about twenty pages, but each of these pages was more important than all the other pages on that desk. It was probably more important than any other page in the entire Imperial Administratum. The small blank folder, sat like a tiny outpost – in a small valley – between two large mountain ranges of preserved wood-pulp-analog, was vital. He reached for the small folder, trying not to dislodge the two continents on either side of it.
He opened it, and began to read, an act so simple yet… unnecessary. In fact he didn't really need to read the documents within anymore, he had memorised every word, every fact and figure, weeks before. The simple act of him holding these pages, elevated this information beyond the realm of simple data, to the plateau of state-secret.
It would amaze the casual reader to discover that one of the greatest secrets within the Imperium was… was a List. A list of ships, a list of supplies, a list of personnel, and a list of materials for colonisation. And embossed on the Cover-sheet were the Words:
Project: The Children of Moses
The only physical record of said project in the entire Administratum. And what a record it was. The number of ships alone was staggering. Nearly a dozen Mars-Pattern Cruiser, four Mechanicum vessels (including a Retro-fitted Ironclad Battleship), there Strike Cruisers and a recently launched Battle Barge. Two of the largest being; the (recently launched Mars-Pattern Battle Barge) "Requiem Meae Hostem" and the "Requiro Scientia" (the Ancient Ironclad Battleship that had been modified into a small shipyard). Just to name a few, with another fifty non-combat vessels; mass conveyors, mass transports and even a mobile foundry.
The list was probably defined by manpower alone. Twenty-five Guard-Divisions, Five Armoured-Divisions, a Skitarii Legion, two dozen Magos and their retinues, nearly two million civilians and – amazingly – Ten Companies of the Ultramarine Legion. And yet no-one noticed their presence in orbit. By some clever management, of the Sigillite himself, the entire Expeditionary Fleet was spread across three separate zones within the Segmentum Solar. The Mechanicum Vessels and few Mass conveyors where holding in Orbit around Mars. The Naval and Civilian Vessels were held in Orbit above the Europa (Supra-Orbital) Plate above Terra. And the XIII Legion Vessels would rendezvous with their new Battle Barge above Luna, within hour.
This brought him back to the matter at hand, or more precisely, in his hand. He examined the small unassuming trinket, which appeared (for all intents and purposes) to be a rather large – and archaic – pocket-watch. The circular face-plate was intricately engraved with imperial iconography, with three crown-like buttons along the rim of the device at the '12', '1' and '2' O'clock positions. Malcador continued to examine the device, as he flicked open the face plate to reveal a swirling pool of cerulean energy that appeared through a portal comprised of five overlapping titanium – adamantine composite rings. Revealing that this device was in fact some sort of Warp-Tech, the very energy which it contained, Malcador could feel the energy battering away (viciously, with a life of its own) trying to reach its erstwhile jailer.
The Sigillite returned to his chair, and sat down behind his desk, all the while contemplating the device in his hands. Its purpose; to act like a depth-charge in the Warp. The Emperor imparted… a portion, of a vision he had divined, of the Future to the First Lord of Terra. The device would either stabilise the Warp, further securing the man-made sections of the Webway, or it would be the Catalyst of a Storm within the tumultuous Empyrean, that would last for Generations. The centre of that Storm… Terra.
Malcador returned his gaze to his desk, his eyes passed – with measured precision – over six titanium-plated scroll-like shapes. Each scroll had a Symbol; the initial four had roman numerals, the final two had more 'unique' symbols. The second to last scroll was embossed with a Stylised Lighting Bolt (ϟ) like symbol, and the final scroll was characterised by a large Capital 'T' bisected by two diagonal lines(₮). The List and these six Scrolls were the two critical elements within their contingency plan.
Each scroll contained a flexible crystal wafer, which conducted and stored Psykic Energy. Stored within each of the Scrolls, was a Message that would be passed directly into the mind of the Recipient on contact. These scrolls would be carried by a Dormant Psyker, which would command one of the two squads, that would pass into the human-made portions of the Webway and through into the more… ancient – and alien – segments of the Webway.
That led Malcador's well ordered mind to the Tasks ahead. The Emperor had given him the Critical Portions of his Visions well over a year ago, and the Emperor had fashioned the Scrolls himself, and entrusted them to him several months ago. The Emperor would prepare the Stage, it was Malcadors part to assemble the Players.
Today was the day that he would bring together; the assembled Army, the Fleet and the Messenger.
It was during his musing that the Doors at the Entrance began to rumble, three impacts reverberated through the Chamber, one after the other. A voice called from the other side, "Fabius Durio of the Adaptus Custodies seeks an audience with the Sigillite."
Ah, and so it begins, thought Malcador.
"He may enter," replied Malcador, completing the ritual.
The doors swung open to reveal three massive figures in burnished gold armour with plumes of red horse hair, it was to the centre-most figure that the Sigillites focus was drawn. He carried his tall helm in the crook of his left-arm, leaving his head bare, like the other Custodians – to his left and right – he carried a nine-foot long force halberd.
Fastened at his waist was a beautifully crafted rapier, and upon his left vambrace was a gilded Storm Bolter.
"My Lord, Captain Tobias Braxton has assembled his Squads, and my team is prepared to escort you to the Armoury for the Briefing," informed Durio the Head of his security detail.
Malcador inclined his head toward Durio; he reached for a small satchel, and placed the Warp Device and Scrolls within. He stood and walked around his desk, at which point he extended his right-hand. A charged atmosphere filled the room, and energy arched around… and earthed along his fingers. Suddenly… with a Loud Crack (and the smell of Ozone)… a long Eagle Topped Staff appeared mere inches, from his hand. As the Staff came into contact with his outstretched palm, Amber Flames sprouted from the Wings of the Eagle. Seemingly casting a Glow about the robed figure of the Sigillite, and strangely dimming the rest of the ambient light within his Chambers.
"Let us Begin," spoke the Sigillite.
As the First Lord of Terra marched past, the Custodians at the Threshold of his Chambers, and into History.
+=Dome of the Crystal Seers=+
+=A rather comfy Tree-Stump=+
+=[mark: – 48.08.10]=+
Thought and Energy…
Ethereal and Fleeting…
Yet… Tangible and Structured…
Outwards and Onwards…
Reaching and Touching…
Always… Feeling and Experiencing…
Descending from the ecstatic heights of her Vision Quest within the Infinity Circuit, the Seer – whom sat quiet comfortably on her Wraith-Bone Stump – opened her Physical Eyes. She held onto the new minds that touched the Wraith-Bone of the Infinity Circuit, though touching their minds with her. Their thoughts felt exotic and new; from the stoic minds of the Warlocks and Black Guardians of Ulthwe, to the strange esoteric thoughts of the Spirit-Seers of Lugganath (and the Youthful spirits of their Harlequin allies), to the sorrow filled minds of the Howling Banshees of Iybraesil and their Farseer Guides, to the gentile touch of the talented Bone-Singers of the Il-Kaithe. New thoughts, new memories, and new perspectives, but… Sombre, even compared to the dark and morbid humour of the Denizens of the Arach-Qin Craftworld. Thus allowing her Witch-Sight to recede, and the ethereal beauty of the Crystal Garden, to fill her vision.
The Seer paused to take in her surroundings; she sat upon a small white desiccated stump, she was garbed in a skin-tight under-suit, resting upon her shoulders was a white sleeveless Japanese-like-Haori embodied with silvery – seemingly alive and eldritch – runes. Her appearance seemingly indeterminate in the perpetual twilight that permeated the Garden, and most – if not all – of the Craftworld. Her people had an affinity for darkness, and unlike the rest of her wayward kin spread across the Cosmos, her people didn't fear it. Their enemies on the other hand… well they were just another terror that lurked in the Darkness. The Stump sat in the middle of a silver flat disc, in the centre of a clearing within the Dome of Crystal Seers. The beautiful – snow white of the Wraith-Bone Trees, and the transparent psycho-reactive Crystals – of the various plants native to the lost Eldar Crone-Worlds. She turned back – and inwards – to the Wraith-Bone Stump upon which she sat, contemplating its bloody history. She delved into the Memory given to her by the most ancient souls within the Infinity Circuit, she began to remember…
Before this very stump, at the Dawn of the Fall, a duel was fought to decide the Fate of the entire Craftworld. The Captain and his Officers – who had Fallen to Chaos – wanted to turned Corsair and pillage 'n plunder the Maiden-Worlds at the very edge of the Galaxy. Appalled by cruel and twisted plans of the Corrupted Command Crew, the Leader of the warrior guardians – that defended the Craftworld – choose to betray his 'superiors'. In secret he gathered his most Loyal Lieutenants, though out-numbered and out-matched, they began a Shadow-Campaign against the twisted Eldar Cultists.
Murdering the mutated Bridge-Crew in their sleep…
Slaughtering the twisted Chaos-Sorcerers as they meditated…
Hunting down Bone-Singers, repairing the deliberate acts of Sabotage…
They 'Guarded' their dark masters – faithfully – during the day…
And they slipped a blade between their ribs, at night when they slept…
After months of planning…
After years of skulduggery…
After nearly a decade of woe…
Finally… their prey was weakened…
Their fell numbers were culled back…
And the Time had come… to Strike…
And in a move that would become synonymous with their Craftworld, the Hunters of the Arach-Qin began to lay the Final Snare for their Cultist Prey…
And so it began… a small uprising in the lower levels… a few missing cultist Bone-Singers here and there… a loss of communication between the head and the rest of the Snake…
And they played right into their hands, ordering their 'Loyal' Bodyguards to barricade themselves into the Command Spire.
Fear and Panic… Perfect.
The Farseer chuckled at the sense of Satisfaction the Souls within the Infinity Circuit imbued this very moment with – within their collective memories. This very moment was of immense importance to the shaping of the Culture of their Craftworld. It was one of the First Memories they were shown as Children, and it was often the Last Memories they would Dream of… as their Souls were drawn into the Wraith-Bone of the Craftworld.
Her mind returned back to the Memory of the First Hunters, and the vision of the First Great Hunt. Stranded with their apparently 'Loyal' Guards within the Spire above the Dome of the Crystal-Seers, they were trapped and fearful… Easy Prey. The Cultists demanded that their guards do something… protect them… defend them… save them…
So they lead their 'Charges' toward 'Safety' through the 'Secure' Wraith-Bone Gardens at the base of the Command Spire… and right into a well-prepared ambush, that outnumbered the Cultists… Fifty-to-one. And then the trap sprung closed. Before they could react. Half of the Cultists were cut-down… By their own Guards… The rest… cut-down within moments. In an act of desperation the Captain fled. Toward the centre of the Dome. Trying to keep what little control he had… He began a Ritual to Summon forth… Twisted… Sickening Energies… swept forth. The once-eldar Captain at the centre of this Maelstrom of Corruption. His form… twisted … broken…
The Energies beyond his control… Into this swirl of twisting warp energies… Ran the Leader of the Hunters… Chasing his prey…
Seeing what remained of Corrupted Captain…
Within the Chaos that he had Wrought…
Realising what he'd tried to do…
In his desperation, he tried…
Seeing his followers…
Summoning his pure Will, filling his weapon with Intent…
He drew back his Wraith-Bone Halberd, summoning…
And cast it through the remains of the once-eldar…
The Halberd passed through, striking the Tree…
The energy, disrupted, arched into the Tree…
The intent of the ritual… gone, destroyed…
The energy turned on those around it…
Arching, between, along, though…
Touching, grasping, tearing…
The resulting destruction obliterated everything within twenty feet of the tree. Leaving nothing behind, not even a presence within the Warp… a perfect Circle… a dead-zone… No Life… No Energy… Nothing… Of the Captain and the Guardian… nothing remained… and those cultists whose souls were drawn into the Infinity Circuit… Their Corrupted Souls were torn apart by the Pure Souls within it.
At this the Seer trembled, and struggled not to break-down at the Memories… She took comfort in the knowledge that their deaths served a higher purpose, that their ultimate sacrifices… freed the Craftworld of the Corruption of Chaos. Even the Stump had it uses… allowing even the weakest of Seers to gaze – without interference – into the Fabric of the Universe. It sat removed from the Light, and the Darkness… and everything in-between… an island of emptiness in a roiling sea of emotion.
But even upon this Stump… no Eldar could escape what would follow… For what followed was Darkness… Chaotic and Bleak… for the Denizens within the Craftworld.
Lost in Deep Space…
Unable to repair their Engines…
Or navigate the Webway…
They turned Inward…
By the time they were found, by Rangers (of the Craftworld Ulthwe)… a Century had passed… in darkness, and they had Lost so~o much.
What the Rangers brought them… was Purpose.
What the Rangers brought them… was a Future.
What the Rangers brought them… was the Ai'elethra.
The Eldar Path…
It was from these Rangers… from these Outcasts… that the Soul of the Craftworld was born anew… and from these Outcasts that their path was found.
Drawn out of the Collective memories of her people…
Drawn back to body, and into the Material Plain…
She began to draw a finger, along her Shoulder…
Along the Guard, and over the Eye of Isha…
Across the Broken Sword of Khaine…
And finally taking her time to draw…
A finger around the Lone Rune…
The Rune of Cegorath…
The Laughing God…
The Eye Surmounted the Sword…
And the Laughing Rune…
Etched on the Blade…
All these Symbols stark white, against a black background.
And invisible… hidden within that Darkness…
Unseen… to all but those whom knew…
Engraved… faintly, within the Dark…
Was the Rune of the Outcast…
The Memories behind that Rune, brought a Smile to her Sculpted Lips. Within her mind, the Seer laughed, joyous and full… at the Memories given to her by the Souls within the Wraith-Bone. She remembered, and thought back to the Arrival of the Phoenix Lords. They brought their Teachings and their Shrines, and they spoke – pompously – of the various grand paths and ways of the reborn Eldar. And the people laughed… she smiled at the Memory, that Angered the 'Oh-so' mighty Phoenix Lords.
In the face of their Anger, not a single one of her people… broke. They didn't flinch… nor falter, they stood and stared down, these 'Oh-so' powerful Lords. And from within the crowd strode a Child, she strode toward those Mighty Beings, clad in their imposing Wraith-Bone armours. And She spoke unto them, in a voice that pierced the Veils Power…
"If your Shrines give us Strength… We will Praise You… And if they don't…"
She Smile up at them, confusing them so.
"We will laugh… and our laughter will haunt you… until the Stars grow old… and Die…"
And so the Aspect Shrines were founded within their Craftworld. And their fortunes rose and fell… upon the whims of the denizens of the Arach-Qin. The largest of these Shrines, became known as the Trinity, they were; the Strike Scorpions, the Shadow Spectres, and the Dire Avengers. And from each of these Greater Aspect Shrines… a Lesser… more specialised Shrine would arise. From within the Aspect Shrine of the Striking Scorpions, many female warriors would move onto the Aspect of the Howling Banshee, and a few warriors from within the Shadow Warriors Aspect would transition almost seamlessly into the Aspect of the Dark Reaper. Only the Shrine of the Dire Avengers Aspect stood alone, for none knew where the Warp Spiders had hidden their Shrine. It was said that within their Shrine was… hidden… the Lost and Forgotten Phoenix Lord of their Aspect. The Guardians of the Wraith-Bone, were purposefully mysterious, and –
An intrusion… an unfamiliar presence… within the Crystalline Gardens.
Farseer Idranel… withdrew from her Vision Quest.
Shielding her mind with practiced ease.
Preparing her defences, against…
The mental probing of…
A dangerous –
Illic, she groused mentally, has he nothing better to do than irate me and waste my time.
Her memories turned back to the series of events that lead to the arrival of the – rather annoying and – outspoken Warlock from Ulthwe, and the other refugees. She thought back, into her own memories, to the events that led her people and a few desperate others…
Into a flight… towards a New Galaxy…
Codex Entry: The Shepard
… As time would pass, and as the realisation of who I was becoming, I began to reflect upon my place in the Universe. Not who I was, where I began, or even what I had done. But how I had touched those around me. Paraphrasing a few Asari mystics, "every idea must touch another to live, every emotion must be shared with another to grow."
It is not arrogant to say that I was crucial to events of things to come. It would be arrogant to say that I did it alone. I may have been the one to interface with the Prothean Beacon… But without my Squad I wouldn't have gotten to the Beacon at all.
(An extract from "The Man I Once Knew," by Liara T'Soni. Biographer for Commander Jane Shepard (Spectre Ret.))