In the thrice sealed vault of his secret summoning chamber, Dolgath awaited the appearance of his old minions. In the brooding darkness and oppressive silence of the frigid chamber, the throbbing pain of his newly grafted facial flesh was his only companion. A purplish flickering and the distant sound of agony preceded their arrival. They were twins, a pair entwined in corruption. One was large and brutish, a mass of knotted muscle and overt malevolence that might make one underestimate the malign intellect that lurked beneath. The other was supple and wiry; a thing of tentacles and piercing eyes, its slight build concealed a frightening strength.
“Curse you…You treat us disrespectfully… ” They exclaimed in clashing unison.
Dolgath paused in silence, a hooded shape in the darkness. His anger grew like a thunderstorm over the deserts of Thaxus in spring. Daemonhost were always a tricky proposition, but these two he was familiar with. Over the centuries he had treated with The Twins on numerous occasions, yet they could never be taken for granted. Evil to the very core, they were a tool, nothing more; useful, but perilous.
“Oh? After ten long years I finally bestow unto you a succulent offering of new souls and the best you can do is complain!” Dolgath replied in contempt. “If there is any disrespect it is your pitiful performance executing these pathetic xenos?”
“They are bland, lacking in any juices worthy of sucking…” One complained.
“Their technology is confounding…” The other quipped.
“Really? Bland? Have you become so picky, then?” Dolgath queried.
“Their souls are tepid, thin, lacking in psychic marrow…” The first stated.
“Robbed, manipulated, cursed, the most succulent ones were culled by the Star Vampires long ago…” They both concluded.
“Hmm… Interesting…” Dolgath said.
The wall-mounted vox link chirped. “Lord Dolgath, Inquisitor Nelthas requests an audience with you at your earliest convenience,” the synthesized voice of his adjutant Rykien spat. Dolgath paused in thought for a moment and then moved toward the door.
“You are free to remain or depart as you wish, but do not go far as I expect I may need your services in the near future…” Dolgath spoke to the Daemonhost as he started to exit the chamber.
“They perplex you, do they not?” They both commented in unison.
Dolgath pause only for a moment in the doorway. As he stepped through the massive lead-lined portals, they sealed behind him accompanied by the infernal snickering of the Daemonhosts...
Lost in thought, Dolgath made his way slowly through the dark and frigid corridors of the under-ship. The old battle cruiser was ancient even when his tutor had first taken mastery of her. As Math’s last apprentice, Dolgath took custody of the massive ship lacking any protest from Math’s other alumni. Of Math’s apprentices who achieved Inquisitor-ship, he knew positively that only three remained active besides himself. However, the existence of nine more were unconfirmed positively or negatively.
The Subjugator was a salvage that much he knew. She was heavily damaged and gutted sometime after the brutal struggle of the Horrus Heresy, but she had the spine and prow that marked her as a ship of the modern era. She was old, millennia old, and somehow her legacy remained mysterious. Yet she was solid, Dolgath felt it as he walked her decks. No taint of Chaos had ever touched her. He often admired the detail carved into nearly every railing and bulkhead. Her makers and crew had lavished untold lifetimes of love and dedication into every square centimeter of her. Brass, Ceramite, and Adamantine, that was the skin, muscles and bones of the old girl. Arriving at the main deck, Dolgath hopped aboard a shuttle lift that sped him down the central spine of the ship allowing him to oversee some of the vast launch and ordinance bays that occupied the bulk of the ship’s displacement.
As he arrived at his private quarters, he was caught somewhat unprepared for the amount of bad news he was to receive. Rykien stood by his desk, undoubtedly he was there to update him on the deportment of the battle that he was already personally very much aware of (he touched the raw new flesh of his skin grafts on his forehead). His old friend Techmarine Tullius was also present, for which he could only assume the Adeptus Astartes had failed in another mission… These, Tau, were becoming annoying indeed!
Dolgath slowly eased himself down behind his desk before accepting the reports of Rykien and Tullius. It was all old news. He knew he was on the defensive. When had he not been, in any dealing with his old nemesis, Sylax. Dolgath dismissed Tullius knowing the crack Techmarine would deport himself admirable in any circumstance. He also dismissed Ryrien knowing his adjutant relished any chance to demonstrate his usefulness. What remained for Dolgath were his trusted Sages and Mystics. They gathered around his desk offering various arcane possibilities, some of which he had considered, and some that were beyond consideration…
The appearance of Inquisitor Nelthas and her retinue resplendent in old time baroque Inquisition panorama was a somewhat expected event, yet in reality it was rather more than he was prepared for! Dolgath had served the Inquisition for over three centuries, in that time he had seen many strange things, few surpassed the entourage of Inquisitor Nelthas in its full glory. He was grateful for the substantial and intimidating bulk of his antique desk to shelter him from the full onslaught that faced him.
A small hoard of servitors preceded her, freakish amalgamations of the elegant and the grotesque, one might spy a gilded skull surmounted by golden wings, next to an aborted fetus half infiltrated by Mechanicus implants. Pale faced, zombie-looking, Imperial Guardsmen in antiquated issue uniforms marched stiffly into his chamber and stood at attention in prelude to the Inquisitor’s appearance.
Inquisitor Nelthas glided forward accompanied by a dozen enigmatic black-robed figures that moved with a notably inhuman grace. She was a spectacle unto herself. Three meters tall of rare fabrics, cybernetic apparatus, and Imperial grandeur all coming together in a towering display of excess. Dolgath eased himself slowly into his command chair with what he hoped was a display of unconcern. Nelthas literally floated forward, he could see no evidence of conventional feet actually touching the ground as she moved. She came to a halt in front of his desk, robed in multiple layers of the finest fabrics, what struck him the most was her face – obscured by a psychomorphic mask suspended by an intricate wire-frame support network, it was as pure and white as the finest porcelain, yet as he watched the surface would change ever so slightly… It smiled at him!
“Having trouble with the Tau,” she quipped in a voice resonating on multiple levels.
Oh, yes, she was going to be an interesting one… Dolgath thought.