After spending a few days on the planet, collecting everything we could and redesigning our arboretum, we came to a general agreement that it was time to go. Every Rogue Trader except our one ally – Bastille – had arrived. Feckward, we presumed, was taking as many villages as he could, collecting slaves. Nadya kept her distance, bombing the planet, sending out psyker transmissions declaring it to be heretical and that we were all… well, terrible people for even touching it. She should have tried landing. She would have shut up about heresy the instant she breathed that air.
On that note, I’m thrilled with how well my idea for the synthesized paradise in the arboretum worked. Now I can spend a moment in paradise whenever I’m feeling under the weather. It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s close enough.
Before leaving, we took our fleet of shuttles and skipped across several islands, convincing the villagers to leave. All told, we picked up about 700 – not many, but enough that my conscience is eased when I remember how many Feckward probably took as slaves. He’s a cruel man.
When we reached the seventh village, it was empty. Only a few remained. They explained to us that everyone had gone down into the vaults. Despite our rush to leave, we were curious, and investigated.
What we discovered was beyond description. Rows upon rows of storage units, filled with empty Eldar Soul Stones. Each stone was suspended delicately between two tiny clamps – one on the tip and one on the bottom curve of the tear. They glowed with a soft blue light, and I could see why the people considered them holy. They sat among the rows, watching us nervously with wide, innocent eyes.
Inessa did not have to tell us – this room was a fortune for the taking.
With a few twisted concepts from their culture and religion, Inessa convinced them that we had to take the stones – that the God-Emperor was taking them to a new paradise. They began to help us pack the storage units up into the shuttles.
Above the vault was a room with a webway gate. Rather than assisting with the menial labour, I went to examine it. Having been so struck by the previous one, I was more cautious, which proved a faulty tactic. The psykic energies lashed out with visions and brutally knocked me unconscious.
I was later told that many efforts were taken to revive me, including the following: the Captain “booped” me on the nose and shook my head around.
What did finally revive me was Inessa force-feeding me some Haze, which she picked at random from my drug pouch. I suppose I should be grateful it wasn’t Barrage, but her absolute lack of discretion still has me shocked. However, it did make me wake up, which was fine, except I was completely delirious from the Haze and the aftereffects of the psykic forces. Their next brilliant thought was to feed me some of the fruit native to the planet – the fruit with miraculous healing power. It brought me back to the present, though my functionality was… questionable. I spent some time lying one the grass staring at the clouds. It was relaxing.
After a time, however, the webway gate activated. Uncontrollably curious about the Eldar and whatever was about to happen, I dragged myself upright and to the gate, where the captain, Lumi, Inessa, and Jesse were already standing. Jesse let me lean on her, thankfully, or I may have collapsed.
From the gate emerged an Eldar priest of some sort, engulfed in light. He said a lot of floofy stuff, but the main point was that we were desecrating their maiden world and that they were going to draw the warp storm back around the planet. Our options were to either haul ass out of there, or stick around and get turned into bones… or something. The gist was that the Eldar would destroy us if we stuck around. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised, or even upset. If someone dropped into my paradise and sullied it I’d destroy them, too. I suppose, in a manner of speaking, I respect the Eldar. I respect their ability to create such incredible maiden worlds, certainly, and their dedication to protecting them.
As the Eldar stepped back into the gate, something… shifted. Awoke. We picked up the pace, loading the stones as quickly as we could. Through the forest echoed the march of thousands of wraithbone warriors, awoken at last by the Eldar to protect their world.
When we ran back outside, our shuttle had left. Shocked, the captain radioed it. They claimed they had received a coded transmission ordering them to return to The Prometheus. Cornelius was furious and ordered them to return, which they did, with some reluctance. It took them about ten minutes to get back.
We formed a defensive line between our people and the approaching army. I let out a sort of psykic yell and opened my warp eye on the soldiers, stunning many, while the Kroot and crew fired on them. They were slightly deterred. One managed to shoot the captain, however, and he vomited and passed out, which would have been amusing in any other circumstance. Unfortunately, the wraithbone warriors didn’t leave much time for laughing. Exhausted and unable to bring myself to open my eye again, I tossed an arc of three grenades into their ranks, throwing them into disarray and giving us a little extra time. We managed to save thirty of the villagers and about a quarter of the stones.
Lumi, at some point, somehow, managed to pick up psykic transmissions from our own psykers, muttering that they were in the shadows – that they were loose, that they were taking over the ship. Something like that. All communications from the Prometheus were shut down. The ship was completely dark.
We flew up to the Vengeful Falcon to unload and prepare for whatever was aboard our flagship. We boarded and began moving straight to the bridge. On the way, we were accosted by a creature that slipped from the shadows. It attacked Lumi, but her servitor blocked the blow, taking the damage for her. I whipped my mirror swords out and plunged them through the thing’s chest. They hit solid, and the creature faded into shadow. From what I could remember, it appeared to be some sort of Eldar – a creature that had fused itself with shadows, to the point that it could slip in and out of them at will.
Our immediate realization was that we needed to flood the ship with light, as soon as we could.
We had a few more skirmishes with them on our way to the bridge, but we handled them easily. The bridge, when we arrived, was in absolute disarray. Apparently Pol had stolen a genetically locked box we had found in the cargo holds of the Light of Terra. The captain ordered Lumi to calm the machines, and me to turn on the lights. However, I overheard a report that three invaders had been seen heading towards my quarters. I abandoned the captain’s orders and ran to my rooms. A shadow Eldar attempted to stop me on the way, but adrenaline carried me straight through until I slammed into my room.
Within, two large, deformed creatures were standing with a regular-sized man. Of course, I use the term ‘man’ loosely; he was Eldar, and he was… mutated. He seemed unconcerned by my presence, flipping idly through a book of my family’s heretical research. I briefly considered attacking, but the two others were much larger and would have almost certainly overpowered me. Besides, the man and his interest in the research intrigued me.
I do not remember much of the conversation, due largely to shock. However, he insulted my family’s research – called it rudimentary. Uninterested in dying, I immediately pointed out that none of the research was my own; it was my ancestors’. He didn’t seem to care. He said that I had potential, but that I didn’t have the correct sources, or basics, or something. It all had to do with genetics – my ancestors had been studying the genetic manipulation tactics that the Stryxis used. He claimed he could give me something much more powerful – a platform on which to launch my own research. Perhaps a way to manipulate my own genetics. To recreate myself into something ever more powerful.
He gave me a book, and before I had time to ask questions, he stepped created a portal and left through it. The two others gave me baleful glances before lumbering through, as well.
Shocked and baffled, I was frozen for a moment where I stood. Then I realized what I was holding: possibly the most heretical material I had ever possessed. The thought of it sent a thrill through me. I knew, however, that the captain might be less thrilled, and I locked it and the notebook he had been perusing when I arrived away in the drawer where I keep all my family’s research. I then returned to the bridge.
By that time, the captain had returned order. He was irritated with me for leaving, but there wasn’t much time to explain. Eldar ships were popping into the area, a dozen of them, and a giant space battle was brewing above us.