The writings in the arcane tome were grotesque.
Stretching, twisting and stitching flesh. Injections of unguents and strange humours. Metamorphosis from the natural to the unnatural. Abominations of sinew and bone and ichor. Drained of blood, drenched in preservative chemicals, a perverse mockery of the living. The art of the Haemonculi was abhorrent.
Nebula was fascinated.
She had read the flesh-bound book of Haemonculi secrets, front to back, several times. In her studies of the Stryxis, she had seen bizarre and unnatural methods of crafting flesh, in the form of their vat-grown laborers — yet they paled in comparison to the aberrations of the Haemonculi Covens.
What interested her more, though, was the writing in the margins, the notes written by one Krezriel Srak — perhaps the Haemonculus who had entrusted her with the book in the first place. He — or perhaps she, as one could not tell, so twisted was its flesh — had a number of criticisms of the flesh-crafting techniques outlined in the book. Krezriel regarded it as mundane, simplistic, and juvenile.
The mark of a novice; these stitches wouldn’t hold under the strains my own creations are subjected to. They’d have to be reinforced from within, stretched over a mantle of bone, fused with additional tissues. Hardly a technique worthy of praise among the greater Covens
There were many such notes, condescending comments about better practices. Nebula was taken aback by this. This twisted art was unlike anything practiced within the Imperium, and yet Krezriel regarded it with disdain.
The reason for Krezriel’s mockery came as a shock to Nebula, when she found it.
I grow weary of such methods as this. A hack here, a stitch there — butchery better suited to the arenas of the Wych Cults.
Where is the patience? The art? We are gifted with the longevity to scheme for eons — can we not exercise such patience in our research… in our craft?
For all the mastery we claim to have over the crafting of flesh, our experience pales in comparison to that of Navis Nobilite — the Navigator’s of the Imperium. They do not cut, tear, or stitch the flesh; they do not engage in the swift butchery that we Haemonculi revel in. Their craft is a meticulous, slow process, artfully manipulating the very essence of organic life — genes.
Generation after generation, they carefully guide the evolution of their own genes, through selective breeding, careful mutation, and other methods yet unknown to me. They have created a gene so rare, so precious — the third eye.
Though it is a slow process, for their insignificant lifespans, we Haemonculi are above death — surely, we can exercise such patience.
Nebula shuddered at the thought — the Dark Eldar Haemonculi were envious of the Navis Nobilite.
Near the end of the book, however, she found an entry that made her blood chill. Those pages seemed to be outlining a technique for creating a creature that was resistant to the chaotic energies of the warp. Scrawled in a sickly green-black ink, Krezriel had written —
This technique has proven inadequate for our designs. Commissioned by the Coven of Twisted Bones, I have begun investigating an improved method. Currently sending agents to House Ilioneyse of the Navis Nobilite to uncover the secrets of their craft.
There it was — her family’s own name. How long had the Dark Eldar been watching her house?
And why did that fill her more with excitement, than with horror?