EDIT: Some spelling mistakes ironed out.
The Vengeful Dead “By our faith, the myriad foes of mankind are scorched and scattered before the light of our zeal.
“By our will, a million worlds blaze through the void as a beacon in the dark. May it guide the righteous and steel those with purity of mind.
“By Terra, is the Imperial Truth etched into every heart and the Emperor’s light cast across the corners of the galaxy.
“I alone exist because of him on Terra. My sisters are his grace given form. My Order is his will made manifest…”
Lyra Savakis cupped her head in adamantium gauntlets, the sensation reminiscent of fastening an iron ball and chain onto herself. Clasped in a suit forged from the hellish forges of the mechanicus, a simple gesture should have been all but impossible for her. But the servos built into the foundations of her armor grinded and turned with every pulse of her nervous system, synced as it was into the carapace interfacing with her body and armor alike.
An impulse from her mind forced the suit of power armor to grind down onto one knee. The impact upon the hallowed alabaster granite beneath her sent a web of cracks through the Cathedral’s floor. A sudden roar emitted from the armor, a heated blast of incensed smoke and holy flame from the braziers affixed upon the armor’s rear vents.
“Beloved Savior of Mankind have mercy upon our unworthy souls. Why turn the Astronimican’s light away from your benighted stars? Your subjects perish in their untold billions, beset by unending war. Tell us how we must repent…”
“Do you never tire of that ceaseless devotion?” An accusation from across the cathedral cut off Lyra from her thoughts. “Have you never spared yourself the thought that perhaps – this Emperor of yours – would have you save yourself? What good can one creature – even divine as he maybe – accomplish from the very throne that has entombed him?”
Another impulse and Lyra lurched upon her feet, wreathed in flame and smoke, and bolt pistol in hand. One much more devoted than Lyra would have acted upon the movement and pulped the blasphemer’s skull with but another impulse. Anatolijus had once again proven her wisdom. Lyra was weak, beset by doubt and plagued with the presence of babbling heretical aliens that could never hold their tongue.
“You will hold your silence, heretic. Or face imminent execution. The choice is your own to make. Cannoness Anatolijus decreed that I become your watchful guardian for the duration of your incarceration. She would not begrudge me from reminding you of your place, even if you would only find it in death.”
Seated amidst the pews of the cathedral was a creature of inhuman beauty. An incredibly lithe female alien that exuded elegance throughout every fiber of her being. Locks of fiery auburn hair cascaded down the length of a porcelain, statuesque face. Eyes of emerald, bold in their size and intensity, gazed defiantly into the oiled muzzle aimed between them with deadly intent. Her features were sharper than any honest human, chiseled into an immaculate form that could tempt the unwary into boundless lust.
“Mankind is so full of ironies, Lyra.” Taryi Vannifar quipped, a delicate rise in the pitch her tone the only sign of her annoyance. “You would do well to wake up and realize that the galaxy will continue on long after the light of Mankind is extinguished. Even long after my kin are eradicated from the stars and our worst nightmares beset upon us in the waking world. Murdering would-be allies will not stave off the inevitable.”
Lyra mocked the alien with a callous chortle. “If only the Eldar were not so crafty manipulators and deceivers, perhaps your alliance with Mankind would not come into question so often. You deserve your fate in damnation. How many billions of Imperial citizens were lost fighting the Eldar’s wars? How much must we sacrifice until the Eldar have had enough of our affairs?”
For once, Taryi remained silent of her own volition. The Eldar folded her arms and cocked her head to one side. She studied Lyra with an ill-concealed curiosity, before replying with a derisive snort of her own before gazing elsewhere.
Lyra clenched her other fist in anticipation, the sound of adamantium ground upon itself a booming dirge. An impulsive thought of her crushing the wind from out of the alien’s throat seized her, but she terminated the image after a moment. Anatolijus would have no qualms crucifying Lyra if she disobeyed her orders so deliberately.
An awkward silence descended upon the cathedral. Lyra could no longer return to her prayers, distracted as she was with murderous zeal. She leaned heavily against one of the unadorned pillars that kept the Shrine of the Emperor from collapsing. In silence, she maintained her vigil over Taryi Vannifar. The Eldar herself seemed more than content to become lost in her own contemplation, the tips of her fingers playing with a beautiful gem about the size of the creature’s fist embedded upon her chest.
“Your Sisters fought valiantly, for what it’s worth.” Taryi squeezed her eyes shut as if warding off some disguised malignance. “You should be grateful to secure such a victory against the ruinous powers.
“And why your Order gladly gave their lives to protect the Governor’s Palace… mine ensured that Tyrannus would not fall from within. The Eldar secured your triumph even with our defeat, but helping you understand that sounds much too difficult for your mind to appropriately handle.”
“Enough.” Lyra punched the air with an iron fist. “Be silent. Or this time I will silence you myself—”
“Sister Superior.” Aleka’s somber voice interrupted from the shrine’s entrance that led into the further reaches of Gythium. “Liatos asks after you, Savakis. Shall I have another Sister observe the alien in your absence?”
Lyra arched her brow and shrugged. “Tell Arva to come watch this heretic herself! Anatolijus commanded me and I abide her judgement. I would trust no one else to bear the burden of hearing the Eldar babble.”
Aleka hesitated, halting herself from mirroring the gesture. “Liatos comes with the Cannoness’ judgement, Superior. I shall have Korina relieve you.”
Taryi hummed with mocking laughter, her expression smug. “Has my final hour arrived, at last?”
Lyra knitted her brow and ignored the jab. Features screwed up into the wrathful image of Saint Celestine herself, she strode past Taryi to slam open the cathedral doors and make her exit…
Post Merge: January 29, 2019, 02:35:09 PM
In the future, please use the modify button. Double posting is against the forum rules, and for that reason, the system merged your posts.
Lyra cast open the cathedral doors and stepped into Gythium’s war torn corridors. She cast her gaze around pulpits carved intricately into the ribbed vault ceiling above – now shattered and ground into broken nubs. Tattered Tapestries, scorched from the flames of war, billowed in the cold breeze seeping through collapsed swathes of the bastion’s walls. Lyra tread through the maze of debris and detritus collected in the corridor, expression frozen between reverence and abhorrence.
She tread gingerly past the corpses of martyrs, their saintly forms brutalized by ferocious combat. For every fallen member of the Emperor’s Grace, the accursed corpses of fallen mutants, traitors, and heretics collected about them by the dozen. The purity of fire had cleansed the taint that exuded from each of them, replacing madness with the certainty of cleansed flesh.
A cold breeze assailed Lyra and she paused in front of the consequential result of a Dreadnaught’s fist against the hallowed adamantium walls of Gythium Fortress. Beyond the gaping wound carved for about a league across in the corridor wall, the Hive City of Aurelia stretched beyond the scope of her vision in an unending urban sprawl.
It was a magnificent city built for millennia of generations upon it’s ever crumbling foundations. Aurelia was an unfathomable mountain crafted from the endless toil of countless billions of hands. A lavish city of decadence and zealous faith in equal measure from the highest spires. A degenerate slum of suffering and bleakness the further one crawled into the sunless depths beneath.
Lyra witnessed a world still ablaze from the depredations and cruelties of warfare on a galactic scale. Entire districts within the Upper City and Undercity –grounded to dust in the beginning of the Thousand Sons’ invasion—remained nothing more than toppled stones even after the of constant labor spent to restore Aurelia’s splendor. Infernos still blazed on the horizon where the last pockets of enemy resistance still fought against the Emperor’s Legions.
“Gaze upon her well, Lyra Savakis.” Sister Superior Arva Liatos emerged from out of the shadows of the corridor. She approached casually and joined her friend by the breach. “And bear the fruit of our victory. A husk of a world soon to be cloaked in an eternal shadow of darkness. I fear that we have won nothing but a moment’s respite, Lyra, nothing more.”
“But a fortnight ago, you and I fought back to back against the traitorous Astartes of the Thousand Sons. Remember? Our deeds were etched into the heart of those vile apostates in those days. Seems like an eternity ago… as if I were not the same woman then that I am now.”
“Well, we certainly were not as highly ranked back then.” Arva chuckled. “Perhaps bearing responsibility for others is changing you quickly?”
Lyra cocked her head at Arva and smirked. “My hair will become grayer than Anthanasia’s before the end of my life. I promise you that much… How about you? You haven’t changed much. Not at first glance, anyway.”
“Didn’t have to change too much to become a Sister Superior.” Arva unfolded her arms to insert a Lho stick into her mouth. A spark from a lighter hidden in the palm of her hand lit the narcotic substance. “I figured that I should act as I always have. I made subtle changes, of course, but my Sisters seem to admire my demeanor. That’s the best that I can ask for.”
A smile broke through Lyra’s rigid countenance. Arva noticed and arched her brow with a broad grin. Lyra clapped her friend on the winged pauldron of her armor, invigorated with a energy she had not felt for two weeks.
“Are you Anatolijus’ messenger bird now?” Lyra sighed. “What would our illustrious saint command of me?”
“Good news, for once.” Arva replied. “The Angelica Clandestine and the Repentant have been selected for Kill Team missions. The Arch-Enemy remains elusive in our great city, we have our orders to hunt specific heretics together. Like old times.”
“And what of the alien?” Lyra frowned. “Anatolijus would have us playing games of cat and mouse when Gythium’s garrison is so depopulated? I expect the Craftworlders of Teyl-Jhen would not appreciate one of their own being imprisoned by their former allies. I do not trust Taryi or the honeyed words she speaks.”
Arva snorted and heaved her shoulders defiantly. “Let that witch weave her schemes. You understand what happened to the Teyl-Jhenites more than anyone. They won’t return to Tyrannus in some generations.”
“Whether they come to us doesn’t matter much.” Lyra countered. “The Imperium of Man shall come to them in the coming days. Of that I am certain. And if I am certain, then the Eldar must be doubly so.”
“Leave the aliens to their craft, Lyra.” Arva casually dismissed Lyra’s suspicions. “Get your squad suited up and let’s burn some heretics. I have several recruits eager for battle and retribution. A mission will take your mind off all this uncertainty. Clear your mind.”
Arva squeezed Lyra’s adamantium hand once and then shifted to leave the way she arrived. Lyra watched her depart, then turned her gaze back onto a chaotic Aurelia. A nagging feeling surfaced in the pit of her gut. A suspicion that Tyrannus had not seen the last of her darkest days, and that night once again drew nearer than ever.