Monday, June 19, 2006

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part Twelve: Far Away Objects

If one were to perceive the stars as far away objects one would be illustrating a true misunderstanding of the universe. They are not far or near. The apparent vast distances between objects in the cosmos is a fiction just as the apparent reality of one's own existence. Within the mind one can imagine that the moons of Mordia exist atop each other ~ within the Warp they can. Within the warp it is possible to fly through time and space in an instant, and then with the right thoughts, return to the material universe, the distance that once separated things now traversed.

Within the warp silent ships skate through tunnels in reality. Where once nothing had been, they appear. The Hyphranthus is one such ship. By the gates and the passages crafted millennia ago the Pirate Princes now make a mockery of time and space and distance. The Hyphranthus can also make a fool of the human mind and the observation of an eye. The long shaft of the Dark Eldar coursar cuts through space, sliding through the darkness. It heads toward a flotilla of Imperial ships that make up the Cosso Sothan battle group. Several capital ships with smaller escorts were surrounded by a massive swarm of service tugs and transport cutters. As the Hyphranthus closed on the battle group and the massive towers and portals of the capital ships came into view, the sheer scope and majesty of the Imperial fleet was laid bare. The ships were massive and colossal. The tall spires and the bulk of their engine shafts confirmed that objects that exist in space are timeless and gigantic.

The miniscule form of The Hyphranthus drew closer and as it did its form appeared to change. Were one to observe its approach one would have seen it as a transport vessel, or a scanner drone, or whatever seemed natural and obvious to the observer. That is the way with the Mimic Engine. It does not fool the computers or the Machine God but rather the heart of the spectator. Those who see it see that which makes them safe, that which they know should be there. It is only the third eye of the Navigator himself that sees. When he sees the ship he will see its true form. He sees that of a devil craft or a bladed scalpel ship about to inflict torture.

The ship flew through the outer defense patrols, past row upon row of ancient defense turrets, past the Admiral Hogoth capital ship and its vast defense batteries and on toward a dark form shrouded in night. It flew toward a Black Ship of the Inquisition: the flagship of this fleet. This ship cast fear and nightmares into the hearts of humans. Its many interrogation chambers and examination hallways exacted the truth of the Emperor on humanity. At its core was a long held grudge. A long disputed hatred. Inquisitor Reithman had been seeking his nemesis for a decade now. And before Reithman had taken up the cause of hunting down The Heretic Sylax, Reithman's predecessor Inquisitor Gulofil had sought him.

The Hyphranthus flew above the dark form of the Black Ship and stopped. Still hidden as a shuttle or a maintenance pod or whatever made one comfortable. An unseen power transfer occurred and deep in the hold of Reithman's black ship several shadowy forms appeared. Mandrake's shallow hold on reality makes teleportation simple and undetectable since there is little there to teleport. The bazaar and shadow skinned forms scuttled away in search of their prize: The Warp Engines.

Several hours later Inquisitor Reithman would awake in his bedchamber. The traitorous form of Sister Natasha lay beside him. She was shrouded in loose sheets. Several days earlier she had revealed to her lover the location of Sylax's small flotilla of ships. She had vowed that Sylax would feel her humiliation. He would feel the pain he had caused her that one time at the Mission Del Mordia when the sun shone most harsh. She had planned to stand beside the Inquisitor later that day and watch as Sylax's fleet was pummeled into oblivion.

Her revenge, however, was not to be. Instead she stood on the bridge as her lover’s ship was destroyed while Sylax looked on via the Vox screen. Sylax was laughing as the sounds and impacts of exploding warp engines shuddered through her body. They had been sabotaged. A massive explosion had demolished half a mile of their ship in one moment and the hull continued to rip itself apart.

Sylax started speaking again but the audio was off. The screen flickered and a shot of static hit the image. His fleet was bombarding Reithman's larger battle group while it tried to reorganize. Rathman himself had been hit by falling debris and crew were abandoning the bridge. Servitors pathetically attempted to save the ship as compartments were blown out into space. Natasha’s knuckles went white on the desk she was holding onto. She looked into Sylax's triumphant digital eyes with hate. The screen failed and the lights went out. She screamed into the darkness as she felt the pressure of the bridge fail. As her body was flattened against the floor by the pressure she groaned not really in pain but in the knowledge that Sylax's last enemies had been vanquished and there were none left who knew his past deeds.

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