"What Hatred Burns Beneath"
“At times I wonder which is the greater enmity… that which we harbor for the enemies of man or that which those of the same blood harbor for their own kin. I have seen such enmity first hand and I wonder if my own hatred is redundant…”
-Excerpt from Inquisitor Andiron’s private journal
“I do not like this, Inquisitor…” the ever dower Sergeant Silinus of the Raven Guard Chapter complained as the small retinue cautiously penetrated the interior of a recently discovered lost Eldar Craftworld.
“Is there anything you do
like, Sergeant?” Inquisitor Lucian Andiron countered the statement with something of a smirk.
“Putting a bolter round between some Ork’s eyes rates fairly high on my list,” the Sergeant responded with a shrug of his massive shoulders, “But unless they have found this place first, I doubt I’ll have the chance.”
The entire seven person group knew for a fact that such a thing would likely not happen. They had found the crumbling Craftworld through the guidance of the Book of Lost Glories, though it had only given them a general location rather than a precise place to look. It had taken a fair bit of luck for them to hit upon the correct planet, and thankful it was one devoid of life. Even so, both Lucian and Sergeant Silinus had agreed that caution in such a place was warranted as they had no idea whether soul stones still powered some of the machines of war the Eldar favored.
The Craftworld itself had been partially obliterated upon its fall to the surface of the dead world. Though the central portion of the ship remained somewhat intact, much of the rest of the once mighty and impressive craft had been destroyed either by atmospheric temperatures or the impact upon the rocks it now sat scattered upon.
“What does the book claim was on this Craftworld?” Brother Falkeris asked, ever curious about the various aspects of their missions with the Inquisitor.
“It wasn’t as clear as if often is,” Lucian admitted, “But then, I didn’t read the book. Ask Aeliel if you are truly interested.”
Upon hearing her name, Aeliel looked back at Lucian and the Astartes that he had been talking to. The puzzled look on her face was proof enough that she hadn’t been paying them much mind as she walked along the corridors of the shambled hulk trying to find the place where the most sacred of artifacts would have been kept.
“Did you need something, Luc… my lord?” Aeliel quickly corrected herself. Though she had spent many months in the presence of the Raven Guard that accompanied the pair, she still wasn’t sure just where she stood in their eyes. She knew Silinus held nothing but contempt for her but the rest of the squad still seemed to have mixed feelings about her presence among them.
“I was asking if we knew what was lost here,” Brother Falkeris repeated his inquiry.
“Not specifically,” Aeliel admitted, “But according to the book, it was an artifact of great importance to this Craftworld. It would be foolish to make any grand assumptions simply from that.”
“We are all fools for following the words of an alien…” Sergeant Silinus muttered just loud enough to be heard.
“And yet we have always prospered because of it,” Lucian countered bluntly.
Such a truth did not sit well with the Astartes but he had no retort that seemed relevant. The Eldar girl was useful, of that he could not argue. But she was still an alien and that still made her a potential threat. The exchange between them had stifled any further conversation and the group continued forth silently for a long while. It wasn’t until they reached the vault they had come for that anyone bothered to speak. Those exchanges, however, were that of orders given out and tasks being completed. The Raven Guard had been retained to breach the doors and deal with what might lurk in the massive ruined vessel, and that is exactly what they did.
The interior of the vault was nearly empty. Most of the boxes and pedestals were devoid of contents. Whether because of some previous expeditions or in anticipation for the Craftworld’s demise many centuries before it was unclear. One artifact did remain within the compartment, though it was not immediately apparent just how important it was. The object was little more than an unadorned sword. It lacked much that might even link it to the Eldar at all. Lucian could have easily mistaken the thing for a sword of human construction had he not found it in the vault of an Eldar Craftworld.
As the group made ready to leave, Lucian could feel the air begin to crackle with a strange energy. At first he thought it might have been from the artifact and so he looked behind him toward Aeliel. When the sword sat in her grip as inert as it had been in the box, he knew better of what it was.
“Someone is using a webway relay nearby!” Lucian informed the Astartes, “We have been found!”
The Raven Guard took up positions just outside the vault and made ready for the assault. They waited scarce seconds before the sound of teleportation devices could be heard.
“Warp Spiders…” Silinus growled, raising his bolter to scan the halls. Such was often a useless endeavor as the foul aliens could often outflank them with such profane devices. Several of the Warp Spiders appeared just in front of the group and the fire that the Raven Guard laid down upon them was both merciless and lethal. Unfortunately, they had missed one that disappeared just before the rain of fire caught it.
Silinus heard the thing reappear behind him and knew that he would not be able to turn in time. He waited several heartbeats and heard something he hadn’t been expecting. A sickening crack issued from somewhere behind him but he felt no pain. Silinus turned and watched as the ancient blade slide back inside the gaping wound it had carved into the Warp Spider’s body. When the alien sank to his knees, Silinus watched as Aeliel hefted the blade and cleaved the Spider’s head from his neck. With a final sickening thud, the alien fell to the ground. What was more shocking to Silinus was the look of utter hatred in Aeliel’s eyes. What shook the Astartes most of all was what issued forth from her lips after she’d slain the Spider.
“Slaanesh take you,” Aeliel hissed before shattering the soul stone on his chest.
(1099 words without title)