Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part 23: Whatever walks from that door will consume and destroy us all

The five of them met in the silence of the lonesome tower. Where once there had been the raucous sound of battle there was now the lonesome sound of the dead. This room had been the fulcrum of yet another in a long line of skirmishes throughout this city. The Marines had fought to control this tower and it had seemed as they might hold it. But they had been driven back. Many bodies of their brothers were left, abandoned to the only residents of this city that befitted from the war, the rats. The room was old, as was the tower. It had been built when the city was young, one of the first watch towers of this city. The city had long ago out grown this tower, its wards and environs growing far beyond the benefit its observations might provide. Before this war it had been used to store municipal equipment~ traffic signs, cones, temporary idolatry bollards. Now, its stones were washed with blood illuminated by the light of the early morning outside. The five conspirators of the doom of New Boston were now gathered. Obris was an imposing Tau warrior, even without his Crisis suit. He was joined by his common companion, Maturm, a Water Caste Tau of slight frame. Maturm carried his pulse carbine, hoisted on his hip. Anemos joined them also, her suit outside, she now wore a formal uniform with her long brades hanging down to her waist and the patterns of rank on her shoulder. The two humans had arranged the meeting location and seemed most at ease. A tall muscular woman in a dark blue robe stood behind the form of an old man. His green robes obscured mysterious icons and jewery, they hung about his neck or from his wrists or seemed to peer from the folds in his robes. He was Confessor Sylax. Anemos confronted him.

"We meet, finally, I have sought this parley for several days and now that victory is at hand you summon us? Where have you been?" Her voice, translated through a logistics drone floating nearby, sounded angular and strange. Sylax could sense the anger. Anemos was the leader of a massive Tau invasion force which was poised only hours away from the planet. He could sense that she felt she was due some respect.

"Do not be concerned with my comings and goings. I have little influence here compared to the mighty breath of cleansing flame that you have issued onto this world" the old man said. "I thank you all for the solace you have given me. I thank you for the protection".

"And we thank you for the information you have given us" Maturm reported. "Though some may not recognise it..." he glanced at Anemos "it is appreciated". Anemos did appreciate it, she just wasn't eager to show her veins to this alien. She quietly snarled her disapproval of the Water. Her eyes recognised his remark by tilting his way. She said nothing to validate his comment.

Sylax did respond "I appreciate your words. The reason I brought you to this tower is three fold. I have moved among the enemy. I ministered to the men, I have consoled the loyal. All through the city they retreat. They a despondant. They are fearful. However, there is but one place where they push your lines back. One place where you retreat". Anemos looked to Obris with a knowing glance. "At the docks the Imperials fall back, on the Seventh Ward they fall back, and now..." He pointed toward the window, Bolson Common below "the commons are clear. However, at the Eighth and Ninth wards the enemy has advanced unmolested. You have no forces to turn them aside."

"We advance on three fronts and they will be cut off" Obris stated in hatered of the human, "That column can not survive alone".

"Indeed" Sylax said nodding "But I bring news to you now. The Imperials in the Eighth ward of the city are amassing a large force, bringing the remnances of all their armies together for a last break out attempt. They wish to confront you with their full and last strength".

"They are desperate. This isn't a break out". Obis retorted. "It's a final stand" .

"That may be" said Maturm "but the Narcat's last strike is often his most ferice. What numbers do they poses?"

"I can not say, but they also have been resupplied from the Halvat Machine Houses on the north shore of the city. Their engines of war will be mighty."

"Do we have time to redeploy to confront this force?" Anemos turned to Obis, her second in command.

"Probably not, and even if we did, it may not be enough. If that machine shops on the north shore are repaired it will be a tremendous force".

"I have a solution" Sylax said quietly as the Tau recognised the situation. They turned to the old man. He walked to the old brick wall of the tower speaking as he walked "Two hundred and fifty years ago I helped build this tower. Two hundred and fifty years ago I laid into this wall the seeds for my return to mighty times. Today those times have come." He took from his robes a small silver arrowhead and began scratching against a strange colored brick. As he scratched the shades of stone that were chipped away fell but seemed to sparkle with an unnatural light. As he scratched the light seemed to spread through the tower wall like unnatural cracks. "This tower is built from old stones. Older than this world. Older than the stars. Older than you and I and our races. This tower was built with stones from Commoragh". The etching of his arrowhead seemed to break apart the wall and the bricks. Not by cracks in the masonry but by dark cracks in the walls of the world, of the universe. The Tau looked in horror as a mighty gateway appeared in the wall. They saw somthing open, something older and possessed with more bitterness than all the energy in their new empire. The walls seemed to reform themselves, twisted statues formed on either side of the door, of Eldredge shapes, their eyes covered in dark masks.

"It is a portal to the festering realm" spoke Obolis. "It is a realm of horror and evil and night. Whatever walks from that door will consume and destroy us all". The Tau were agape. However, their horror turned to awe when they saw what walked from the portal.

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