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I, Ranger (Part II)

Submitted By: Date: January 13, 2006, 09:30:23 AM Views: 2840
Summary: <p class="subheader1">Part II</p> <p class="subheader">The Tale of Harloriith, Pathfinder.</p> <p class="body"><i>"My name is Harloriith. I once belonged to the Craftworld of Alaitoc. But that was a long time ago. I am now a Ranger, possibly even a fabled Pathfinder. But titles mean little to me. Why are you a ranger, you ask, why did you choose to walk the path of the Outcast? I committed a horrible crime. I let a human live... My tale begins when I was a young aspect warrior. A Striking Scorpion I think. It was that long ago. We'd just finished a counter-attack on a Mon-Keigh world. Its name is meaningless. There was one human left, sitting there, cowering. I stood over him, chainsword poised. This is where my story starts. I am Harloriith. Hear my tale..."</i></p>



   

"Kill him!"

The death world spread out before me, the human lay there at my mercy, and my Exarch behind me yelling.

   "Kill him! He would do the same to you; you know that, kill him!" I stood there looking into his eye. The look was one of sheer terror.

   "No.” I said.

   "What do you mean no?"

I felt his scorpions claw against my back. I began to walk away. My first mistake all day.

   The human saw the opportunity. My Exarch turned to face me. The second mistake. He had his back to the human. The Imperial Guardsman got up, pulled out his las pistol from his jacket pushed it up to the joint in my Exarch’s armor between his helmet and his back and squeezed the trigger.

   By know I had my chainsword arcing towards the human. Just as he pulled the trigger, my chainsword hit him square in the chest, tearing it to shreds. But I was too late. As the humans torso hit the ground, blood pouring everywhere, my Exarch fell to his knees and collapsed.

   "Noooo!!!" I shouted.

But nothing could save him. They were both dead



Three days later I stood before the council of Farseers on my Craftworld.

   "You have contributed to the death of another Eldar of our Craftworld. For this hideous crime the Council rules that you are to be exiled. You will leave, become a Ranger, and do as you please. You are no longer welcome back here unless you are summoned in times of war. Is that clear?"

I didn't bother answering. I was dismissed, went back to my quarters and changed.



I took off the scorpion armor that I adored, and put on a lighter version. It was blue as my scorpion armor had been, to denote Alaitoc, not the traditional green. It wasn't as thick or as movement restricting as the striking scorpion armor had been. I then grabbed my belt, which carried my shuriken pistol, some small explosives, smoke and blind grenades, ammunition, and three knives. One of these knives was my most treasured possession. My monofilament knife.

   One of my old friends that trained as a warp spider had gotten me a monofilament cartridge. This fits into the hilt of the knife. All I do is push a button, the monofilament squirts out (it's kept in a liquid state), and small gravity wells and heaters harden and shape the filament into a blade. I press the button again, and the heaters act as coolers and the blade condenses into the hilt again.

   The mono pack needs replacing after a while, so I made sure I had spares. I clipped the small black rectangles to my belt, along with the Wraithbone hilt of my knife. I scoured my room, grabbed some other useful pieces of equipment, pulled my gloves and boots on. I slipped into my chameleoline cloak, and was about to leave; when I realized I had forgotten something. I grabbed my bone white Ranger Long Rifle and strapped it to my back.

   I looked into the mirror as I left. My blue clock was shimmering and turning white to match my room. The white reminded me of something. I looked down at the white gem, the Waystone, on my chest.

   So I stood ten minutes later talking to the head Farseer of the council. I had no idea what his name was. If he even remembers it.

   "You want to take you Exarch’s Spirit Stone?"

   "Yes, I do."

   "Why?"

   "I do not know, but I feel it’s important."

The Farseer fell silent. His blue and white robes began to wave, as if in the wind.

   "I do not know why you require it, but I see reason enough for you to have it."

His eyes pierced mine, and I wondered at the time what he'd seen.

He pulled the stone out of his robe, which surprised me. He looked at the shock on my face and laughed.

   "Don't look so surprised. I am a Farseer. I knew you would want to take it."

I took the stone, slipped it into my now white cloak, and prepared to leave the Craftworld...



I looked around me at the Craftworld’s enormous hangar bay. This is where I would catch a transport to a Ranger outpost in the middle of Khaine knows where...I boarded the transport a settled myself down for the long journey when the pilot strode in. He looked weather beaten and I wondered if he had once been exiled too.

   "Becoming a Ranger hey? Well enjoy the trip to your temporary home."

I thanked him for his hospitality and he wandered out presumably to the cockpit. I looked around the transport and realized that I was the only one onboard, apart from the pilot. It seems the cargo was supplies for the Rangers that manned the outpost.
   I thought about the outpost and made a promise to myself then and there that I, Harloriith of Alaitoc, was not going to be stuck at some forgotten outpost. No, I would find a way off the planet, the Farseer had said I could do as I please, and well, I hadn't thought that far ahead yet. I decide to ask the Rangers there if they knew of any Pirate Fleets nearby. With that last though I fell asleep as the transport bore me away from what was my home, towards my future.



We arrived at the outpost, and the first thing that hit me was the vista. This place was beautiful! A beach of to my right as far as the eye could see, and to my left a lush tropical rainforest, quite different to the last planet I had been on, on that fateful day, I reflected. I helped the old transport pilot unload the cargo, and I noticed a path heading away through the jungle.

   "Welcome to your new home!" the pilot said to me. "Come on, this way. Come and meet the others."

After a short walk through the jungle we arrived at the outpost. The entire outpost comprised of a two Wraithbone structures in a large clearing. A bunker of sorts and a towering Webway portal. I marveled at the intricate designs and the huge emerald green crystals embedded in its side.

   "You will have plenty of time to stare that that later" the pilot said. "Come inside."

He stepped inside the bunker and I watched him descend a flight of stairs until he was out of sight. I took one more look at the Webway portal, and hurried into the bunker after the pilot.




{mospagebreak}


"My name is Morithan by the way, and here are the people you will be staying with," he said as they stepped into a large room and indicated to the three rangers in front of us. "Daramas, Malkeus, and Tualarc."

   "Hello." I said, looking for something to say.

   "And who are you?" Daramas addressed me.

   "My name is Harloriith.” I said before Morithan could introduce me.

   "Another young one." Tualarc said, eyeing me as if I were a piece of meat. "How long do you reckon he will stay Malkeus?"

   "Not long, he is destined for the Exodites." the dark haired Malkeus stated matter of factly. I stared at his face, and saw that it was heavily scared.

   "What does that mean?" I inquired, feeling trepidation rising within me.

   "You have a strong spirit, and you are destined to live with the Exodites, if only for a while."

   "Malkeus used to be a Warlock,” Morithan whispered into my ear. "He was the bodyguard to a Farseer who was killed by a warp demon. He took it as a sign and turned Outcast."

   "I can hear you…" Malkeus said in a singsong voice. "We will all have time to share our stories later. I say we get that transport unloaded."



That night we sat on the beach near the outpost, and discussed our stories. I told them how I was ordered to leave Alaitoc, and they all had similar stories.

   Tualarc, loving jokes, had been messing around with a Falcon, trying to reverse the controls (so forward as backwards and vice versa) and accidentally did something to the weapon systems. The Starcannon went haywire and began firing randomly throughout the hanger, damaging a number of other ships.

   "The Farseers weren't impressed, and exiled me to a Maiden World, here."

   "This is a Maiden World? There are Exodites here?" I asked incredulously.

   "Yes it is, Shyr-Gann to be precise, and you will be going to see the Exodites tomorrow, if that’s what you wish. Stayed there myself for a while, but they don't like jokes much either..."

   Malkeus elaborated on what I had been told by Morithan.

   "I decided to master my inner self, so one day I would not have to wear a Waystone, or never have to fear the Warp or She Who Thirsts. What happened to my Farseer will never happen to me." he stated, as if just by saying so he could make it real. "And you have to be away from the Craftworld to steel your soul against the Warp, so here I am. I live at this outpost because the Exodites live near a Standing Stone that connects to the World Spirit. It has the same effect as the Craftworld, so I can't live there."

   "The Tyranny of Alaitoc is a just name,” Daramas said. "Here I have some piece of mind, and can do what I want. Well I would have some piece of mind if it weren't for one person..." Daramas looked Tualarc.

   "Hey, I haven't done anything to you for a few days now!" Tualarc said laughingly.

   "Yet..." Daramas replied, narrowing his eyes at Tualarc. Feeling I had to break the tension, and remembered my promise on the transport.

   "Are there any Pirate Fleets around here?" I asked.

   "You are going to live with the Exodites." Malkeus said. For an instant I felt like I was back on Alaitoc being told what to do.

   "What if I don't like living with the Exodites?" I retorted.

   "Oh great Warlock Malkeus has spoken." Tualarc said in a sarcastic voice. "Don't worry; the Exodites are fine as long as you don't annoy them."

   Soon after we retired to bed, and I dreamt all night of life on a Pirate Fleet with Exodites. Later I was to realize why.



The quiet morning silence was rent by "TUALARC! Where are you?! I knew it was only a matter of time. Tualarc! You better have something to get my pillow off my face!"

   I got up just as Daramas walked past my sleeping quarter, and he indeed had a pillow stuck to his face. I suppressed my laughter, but not very well. Daramas must have heard me because he threw me an angry look and stalked off to find Tualarc. I walked to the door and looked out, and saw Malkeus walk in and burst into laughter.

   "Very funny, where is Tualarc? He better have a dissolvent for this glue for his sake..."
I went and got myself something to eat, and listened to the noises in the next room of Daramas cursing Tualarc, as they both hurried around, trying to find the dissolvent.

   Daramas was right, I thought to myself in between a mouthful of food. It may not be piece of mind, but it was the same principle. You could not do that back on Alaitoc.



An hour later, the four of us were racing across the breathtaking landscape on jetbikes, towards the Exodite Settlement.



The first thing that struck me about the settlement was the look. Houses with the foundations built of Wraithbone, but the rest of the structure was made from surrounding materials. Nothing looked out of place or out of touch with nature here. It was as if the town had just grown out of nowhere.

   â€œIt is rude to stare young one.” a strong feminine voice said off to my side.

   â€œMeet Xiailleith, Seer and advisor to the Baron of these parts." Daramas said to me.

   â€œAn honor to meet you, Lady Xiailleith.” I replied.

   â€œManners will go a long way here, Harloriith.” see said. I didn’t bother to ask how she knew my name, Daramas said she was a Seer, and I was becoming used to them.

   â€œQuick on the uptake I see,” Xiailleith replied, “that will also go a long way here as well.” She turned to the others.

   â€œDon’t worry, the young one here is in good hands. I will be seeing you soon I suppose.”

   â€œWe will take our leave then.” Daramas said. “See you soon Harloriith!”

   â€œYes, see you soon!” Tualarc said.

   â€œI foresee we will meet again.” Malkeus said, with a grin. The hum of jetbikes filled the camp and they were already off in the distance.

   â€œGood bye, and thanks!” I yelled after them. Well, I thought to myself, stuck in an Exodite settlement and I’m supposedly in “good hands”. What did Xiailleith mean by that? I noticed that she was leading me somewhere.

   â€œExcuse me Lady, but where are we going?”

   â€œTo see the Baron of course, young one,” she replied simply, “he will assign you a job while you are here.”



Hmmm, work. This was sounding a lot like Alaitoc…



The Baron’s castle was huge. Great walls built of heavy stone ran around the castle itself, and encompassed large sections of plains and forest, presumably for the famous Dragons they rode to battle on. The enormous gates opened at our arrival, and Xiailleith led me up a paved path to the castle proper.

   Once inside, Xiailleith led me through a dizzying amount of rooms, doors, corridors and side passages until we came to a heavy wooden door with two guards standing on either side. They opened the door as soon as they saw Xiailleith and let as pass. So being advisor to the Baron obviously must be a high position I thought.

   â€œIt is.” Xiailleith said.



The room we entered was amazing. It seems that this Exodite World was full of surprises. Banners hung from the roof with the motif of a serpent curled upon itself, shields of many colors adorned the wall, and armored Exodites, which I assumed were knights, stood at attention near the throne. Quite impressive indeed. The throne itself was a high back chair made of a metallic substance, and on the throne sat the Baron of Shyr-Gann. He looked very regal, with silver armor, a circlet of silver and a flowing grey robe.



   

“I am Calabon, Baron of Shyr-Gann. You have come into my lands seeking refuge. Why do you come here young one?”

I was being to dislike the tile young one more and more.

   â€œMorfessa, I was exiled from my Craftworld, and was told that I could seek refuge here. I only intend to stay a while, I don’t mean to inconvenience you, my lord.”

   â€œWell young one, as long as you pull your weight you may stay in my realm as long as you like. Xiailleith, what is your opinion on the young one?”

   â€œThe boy has a good soul. If a little adventure seeking. He dreams to one day join a Pirate Fleet.” I sat by as these higher people sat about and discussed my ambitions. I felt rather belittled.

   â€œIndeed? Well I think I have just the job for you. Elsar!”

   â€œYes Father?” An Exodite about my age stepped forward, presumably a prince.

   â€œPrince Elsar, you have just been assigned a servant. Young one, you are to serve Prince Elsar for the duration of your stay here.”



   

“May I ask the name of my new servant?” Elsar asked as we were walking to his quarters.

   â€œHarloriith.” I replied.

   â€œMy name is Elsar, but I’m sure you got that from my father. Don’t worry, servant is just a title. My father is actually looking for someone to keep me out of trouble. I already have servants, and they will now be your servants as well.” Perhaps this wasn’t so bad after all, I thought.

   â€œSo, you want to join a Pirate Fleet?”

   â€œYes I do…Elsar”

   â€œGood, don’t call me Prince. Well Harloriith, consider yourself hired. I’m starting a Pirate Fleet. The “Wraiths of Khaine” how does that sound to you?”

   â€œIt sounds like a fine name.” I said. I was starting to get caught up in the idea of it. A Pirate Fleet! I was also being to like Elsar, which was good I reasoned, as he will most likely be my future employer…



To someone who did not know Elsar and heard him talk about his Pirate Fleet, it sounds like a load of rubbish. I but had a feeling he was genuine. And I certainly was. If I had any doubts about Elsar’s claims, they were quickly put to rest. The day after I met him he took me to see his 'pride and joy'. I had no idea what he meant by this, and he wouldn’t tell me before we got there, so I went along with him as we rode out into the forest to see what the Prince’s 'pride and joy' was.




{mospagebreak}


“Isn’t it wonderful?” the prince exclaimed as we burst into a clearing. I instantly saw what had caused the clearing.

   â€œA Void Dragon!” I yelled as I recognized the crashed ship.

   â€œYep, that’s it. Absolutely beautiful. With this and a bit of ambition, we will forge a name for ourselves as the most ruthless Pirate Princes in the galaxy!”

The ship was in a state of disrepair, and there were Exodites walking around it, presumably trying to fix it.

   â€œI have a number of Bonesingers working on it at my father’s behest.” Elsar said. “When it is finished, we will leave this planet, and sell our services as mercenaries to the number of inhabited planets nearby. Our band of two will grow; we will acquire more ships until we have a fleet!”



I looked at the Void Dragon. It had been diagonally imbedded in the earth and had one of its wings snapped off, but the ship had been dough out, the wing reattached by the skill of the Bonesingers. It looked almost ready to fly. As I looked at the crashed ship I knew one thing. This is what I had been seeking. This is where my life would change, I was free from my Craftworld and I would become a pirate.



“A distress call has come for you, my Prince.”

“From where?” Elsar replied. He was now many years older, and through ambition, treachery, deceit, aided by a little help, luck, and me of course, Elsar now commanded a Pirate Fleet, the “Wraiths of Khaine”.

   â€œFrom the Exodite world of Shyr-Gann, my Prince.”

   â€œReally…what does my father need saving from?”

The pirate knew not of his Princes background. All he knew was that he along with another, called Harloriith, had assassinated their last Prince and assumed command. As Prince Elsar was a better commander than their last Prince, few objected. The Ranger Harloriith was often by his side as well, which compelled the more outspoken ones to keep their opinions to themselves. He made a note to inquire about his Princes ancestry.

   â€œIt seems that the Exodites were unable to fend off an Ork invasion, and they need assistance to make sure no more Ork ships are able to land. We are the nearest fleet, and could easily intercept the crude Ork ships at your behest, my Prince.”

   â€œHas anyone else replied to the distress call?”
   â€œNot officially, but it seems a small group of Eldar ships are converging on the planet.”
   â€œI wonder…” Elsar mused to himself, “Can you show me these ships?”

   â€œYes my Prince.” A recording played. The rune of Rebirth glared at him.

   â€œUtterly predictable. Biel-Tan.”


On Biel-Tan, the young king had been summoned.

   Exarchs from each of the major shrines had gathered outside the Avatars chamber to start the Ritual of Awakening. They were not adorned as Exarchs usually are. They wore black and red robes, and all wore a mask in imitation of the Avatar himself. The Young King was among them.

   Well, the Young King thought to himself, I will not last a year in office. It seems I am lucky enough to be come one with Khaine himself! He looked at all the Exarchs around him. They had all vied for the position of the Young King only scant months ago. But the Farseers had chosen him, and it would be his gift to know Khaine more intimately than the rest of his brethren. But they should not be disappointed he thought. They may yet get to become the Young King after he was gone. And if they survived a year in office, they would join the Court of the Young King, and have a say in Biel-Tan’s affairs.

   He had dreamed of wielding the might of Biel-Tan, but he would have something one-step better. He would wield the might of Khaine himself!

   One of the Exarchs moved forward. She held a cup of blood. The Young King was disrobed. All the Exarchs dipped their fingers in the blood and began to paint the young king’s body with the runes of Khaine. Then some of the Exarchs left. They quickly returned having retrieved the artifacts of Khaine from their various resting places in the Craftworld.

   First a large mantle was placed on the young kings shoulders, fastened by a gold pin. Then with great ceremony, he was presented with the Wailing Doom. This he grasped in his right hand and in his left was placed the Cup of Criel, brimming with his own blood.

   Behind him, a huge group of assembled Seers began to sing. They sang the Hymn of Blood. With each passing word the great iron doors began to glow hotter. A dull yellow, now a white-hot. Noises could be herd from inside the room. The Avatar was awakening. The Exarchs began to take up the Hymn of Blood. The voices of the Seers and Exarchs was deafening, the ceremony was reaching a crescendo.

   Ever to slowly the doors began to open. Light flooded out of the room behind the doors and a shadow could be made out in the centre of the light. An immense figure stetted on a huge throne of iron. The young king felt something calling him. He knew it was time for his ascension.

 

Slowly he walked into the light and the doors slowly shut…



   

“Engage the Ork fleet and move us towards their command ship. We will decapitate them.”

   â€œYes my Prince.”

Elsar’s Void Stalker, "Khaine’s Fury” along with an eclipse class cruiser, “Misplaced Faith” broke off from the Eldar Fleet moving towards the Ork command ship.

   â€œSummon Harloriith. Tell him we have work to do.”



By now I was aware of the battle and was preparing for what was coming. A boarding action. I was to assassinate the Ork Warlord, while Elsar’s pirates caused a distraction. I had done it before, I knew the drill.

   Bringing an entire fleet to its knees with one death. This was rarely capable, but it was with Orks. With many other races they have a well-established chain of command, they knew who would take over if their leader died. Orks would argue about who was in charge, even while their fleet was decimated. Better their fleet than ours, I thought.



   

“We ‘ave been boarded boss!” one of the Warlords underlings informed him.

   â€œGet some boyz and sort ‘em out then!” the Warlord roared back.

   â€œYes boss.”

The Orks did not know that they had not been boarded once, but twice. They knew there were some Eldar Pirates making a nuisance of themselves somewhere, but they were unaware of the stealthy figure making his way through the ship.



I found a group of Orks repairing some damage that Elsar’s fleet had dealt it. I was hidden in the network of beams and pipes above them. I took aim and fired four shurikens, each lodging nicely in an Orks brain, killing them instantly. One Ork was left. I needed him alive for now. I leapt down onto the floor. The Ork started screaming.

   â€œAn Elda! An Elda!”

   â€œShut your mouth you filthy green skin. Where is your Warlord?”

I could tell what the Ork was thinking. First he thought of attacking me, looked down at his hands and realizing he had no weapon. Then he thought he was being stupid, he was physically stronger then me, but then he realized I had a shuriken pistol to his face, so he conceded.

   â€œOn da Bridge.” the Ork replied.

   â€œWalk there now, or I will kill you.”

The Ork took off. I leapt back up into the pipes and beams to follow him unseen.

The Ork got to the bridge. He looked around. He did not see me, so decided to take off again. I fired at him, a shuriken severing his spinal cord. The Orks on the bridge looked around.

   â€œThe ladz dead!”

   â€œWhat got ‘im?”

The Warlord was covered in very thick armor; there were only a few places I could get him. I fired two shots. Both shurikens hit their respective targets. The warlord screamed, blinded. Now I had to wait for him to move his hands from his face. It took only a few seconds, as the Ork started lashing out at anything it reach. The Orks roar turned into a bloody gurgle.

   Well, I thought, it is hard to scream with a knife in your throat.



Back on “Khaine’s Fury” I watched the rest of the fleet being torn apart by our fleet. The view was amazing. Graceful Eldar ships tearing into the crude Ork ships, sitting in space, burning. Working rubbish turned into non-working rubbish I thought. I tore myself away to talk to Elsar.

   â€œWon’t we be aiding the Exodites? Some Orks obviously landed.”

   â€œNo, no need.”

   â€œWhy?” I asked puzzled.

   â€œLook to the left side of the view port…now.” He said as he consulted the ships sensors.

I did so for about five seconds, and was about to say something when I saw Elsar’s reason. Biel-Tan ships had entered the system.

   â€œI’m sure we would only get in the Bazakahain’s way…”

   

“We are receiving two transmissions, Harloriith.”
Elsar was on Shyr-Gann, visiting his father presumably, and I being second in command, took charge of the fleet.

   â€œFrom who?” I asked.

   â€œOne is from the Biel-Tan fleet asking for the Prince, and the other…” the pirate paused, confused. “The other is from Alaitoc…”

   â€œAlaitoc can wait, put me through to the Biel-Tan fleet.”

A full sized image of a Dark Reaper appeared in front of me.

   â€œGreetings. I’m Glorintor, the Young King of Biel-Tan.”

   â€œRecently appointed I assume? I’m sure the Avatar has been summoned to help fight off the Orks.” I thought I was being smart making an educated guess, but I seemed to offend him.

   â€œI have served Biel-Tan my entire adult life, which is more I can say for you Outcast. My honor aside, I have a proposition for your Prince.”

   â€œI’m second in command, what is this proposition?”
   â€œOur fleet was attacked by Dark Eldar not long ago, and it is a while until we are due back with Biel-Tan. I thought a merger of our two fleets would be…beneficial.” Interesting I thought. Elsar would jump at the chance, more power. He might even become a zealot of Biel-Tan like the Young King before me. At this point I remembered I had a message waiting for me from Alaitoc.

   â€œI will pass the message onto the Prince, I’m sure he will be in touch with you. Now if you will excuse me, I think I’m about to be summoned to serve my Craftworld...”



I had guessed correct. I had indeed been summoned. It seemed Alaitoc considered me to be a Pathfinder; all my service on a Pirate Fleet elevates ones status apparently. That fateful mission. I won’t elaborate here, but my far seeing cousins of Ulthwe were involved…



Before I left I told Elsar that I had been summoned.

   â€œI save my planet, you save your Craftworld?”

   â€œI don’t think my services will be that helpful, but I see what you’re getting at. So I will inquire on Biel-Tan as to your whereabouts when I get back?”

   â€œI’m sure Glorintor will point you in the right direction. Assuming he hasn’t been sacrificed to Biel-Tan’s Avatar by then. I don’t understand you Craftworlders, bound by honor and all that. I like my freedom, this arrangement with Biel-Tan is only temporary…”

   â€œWell I’m off to pay an honor debt, and it seems you have been roped into one yourself.”

   â€œI’m not doing this for honor, you know that.”

   â€œBiel-Tan is one of the most powerful Craftworlds, your doing this because you think it will further your power. Don’t think I don’t know you.” I said, smiling at him. “So until our paths cross again on Biel-Tan?”

   â€œOn Biel-Tan.” Elsar confirmed. I gave Elsar a dramatic bow.

   â€œMay the solar winds be forever at your back.” I said, coming up with the worst pirate saying I could.

   â€œAnd may a gun be never to yours.” He shot back.

Guns will be the least of my worries were I’m going, I thought…


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