The world was nothing but inky darkness, broken by flickering vermillion lights hidden behind twisting corridors. When Mirathir finally fluttered her eyes open, she realized that her world was wrong. Why could she see the floors of the Halls of Aurellan as if they were the ceiling? And… she was suspended in air as if frozen in time. The ventilation within the ship made her breath frosty and her hairs stand on the nape of her neck. In the timed flashes of light, she picked out sprays of blood amidst floating debris.
“Warning… breaches reported on deck level 87-A, 87-B, 87-C....” Nareen, Aurellan’s artificial intelligence droned on. “Quarantine in progress. Sealing of affected decks in progress,...”
“Mother?” Mirathir heard her voice echo through the corridors. “Is anyone out there?”
The young eldar adolescent sighed in pain as she forced herself into movement. Her fingers traced the cuts that ached on her body, but none of them were a cause for fear. The holes in her suit had been patched. Mirathir discovered only the fallen within the civilian quarters she and her mother had inhabited. Kin she had once known floated amongst the debris, their environmental suits breached and the air sucked from their lungs. Others had been more fortunate, they had been atomized by the direct hit the deck had taken from the Dark Kin’s devastating dark energy cannons.
“Escape pods,” Mirathir whispered, “I have to find an escape route.”
Mirathir weaved through the floating chunks of wraithbone and remnants of flesh into the corridors of the Aurellan. Distinct popping sounds greeted her pointed ears as she half-crawled, half-glided across the ship’s floor. A more familiar noise answered the use of Dark Kin weapons, Shuriken Catapults. Vicious battle cries shattered the absolute quiet, interrupted by the occasional shrill scream.,
A voice whispered from the ether. “This way.”
Mirathir whirled around, frightened that she had been discovered by the Dark Kin. Yet no matter how keen her eyes, she could not pick out any shapes in the darkness. She was alone.
The voice crawled into her head, firmly, but with gentle tendrils. “Do not be afraid. This way will you lead to her.”
Mirathir could not explain her instinctive behavior in that moment, but within her heart of hearts, she believed this voice her only friend. She uttered under her breath. “Guide me to my kindred, ancestor.”
Mirathir spun around and continued down the path that led away from the sounds of fighting. In truth, she never remembered where the escape pods were kept on the civilian deck. Yet she knew that this strange voice knew and would guide her to safety. She quickly slipped from corridor to corridor, through open doors that she sealed behind her for the last time. No one would follow her or discover her trail.
The voice continued to guide her with its lilting beauty. “Salvation is not so far…”
Mirathir slammed her fist into the control panel of a large slide door and as the door closed, a sense of vertigo wrenched her stomach as gravity stabilized. She fell with a loud thump onto the wraithbone floor, painted by the orange glow of lights shining from the ceiling. The ventilation here was flowing and warm. As Mirathir picked herself off the floor, she unsealed her helmet and inhaled a great gulp of air.
Mirathir arched a brow. Her eyes flicked over a painted message inscribed along the wall. “Proceed through here in case of emergency. Follow the markers to escape pods.” She threw her helmet aside and began to run.
“Almost there…” Mirathir uttered to herself. “Almost there-”
Mirathir skidded to a halt the moment she rounded a corner into another hall. A tall and black figure stood at the opposite end. Judging by his physique, he was an eldar in origin. One look at his heavy segmented armor, painted in sharp green accents and the great klaive that he wielded in both hands, he was Dark Kin. As the figure slowly turned on his heel, Mirathir gazed into baleful red eyes that peered from a horned and skull-like helmet.
The Incubi did not gesture for reinforcements or spare a single word for her. He was alone. Mirathir retraced her steps, her breathing turned to short gasps as the Incubi planted one firm foot after the other in her direction. She broke into a sudden run back the way she came. The Incubi’s heavy footfalls resounded through the silent halls as he gave chase.
Mirathir cried out, slammed her hands against the first door she had sealed in her own haste. She cast thoughts of reopening the passage aside as a shadow twisted around the corridor she had been mere moments before. The pursuit became a twisted puzzle of sorts. Mirathir ducked through random passages and through rooms filled with slaughtered eldar. Even at his highest stride, the Incubi was cumbersome compared to her. Yet that gave her only scant seconds to live as she snagged objects in her haste and stumbled over twisted forms.
The eldar girl cried out as she tripped over a discarded shuriken catapult and skidded several feet across the floor of a laboratory. The searing heat of an energy field passed over her body by mere centimeters. She rolled aside on instinct to dodge the next cleaving blow. Sparks flew from where the Klaive smashed through the wriathbone. Mirathir snatched the shuriken catapult in the same movement and unleashed what remained of the magazine.
The Incubi let loose a cruel, boastful laugh as the laser traces embedded themselves into his klaive and sporadically into his armor. Despite the force of the attack, the Dark Kin managed to step forward again and again, even as Mirathir continued to scramble backwards until she was pressed against a wall. The Archon’s elite pressed a firm foot against her chest, a gesture that felt as if a hunk of debris fell on top of her.
The magazine clicked empty.
With a mighty display of strength, the Incubi whirled his klaive over his head for the final blow. Mirathir chose not to close her eyes. In that moment, one of the locked doors clacked open and slid aside. The Incubi twisted around in time to see a machine forged from wraithbone march into the laboratory. The Wraithguard held a scattershield in one hand and a great, crackling power axe in the other. The lighting was too dim for Mirathir to make out the colors that it wore.
The Wraithguard commanded Mirathir telepathically. “Close your eyes!” Before Mirathir could blink, the Wraithguard threw the axe in its grip with a precision beyond mortal limits. The Incubi brought his klaive down to protect his chest, but the blade was angled in such a way that the ghost axe deflected upward and cleaved the Incubi’s helmet in two. The body clattered to the ground.
Mirathir could not repress herself from screaming as fresh blood splashed over her. The ghost axe embedded itself into the wall mere inches above her.
The Wraithguard held no soothing words. “More are coming! Find your way to the escape pods! Hurry, child!”
Mirathir regained her composure as she stood. “Where are all the others?”
The Wraithguard shook its head. “You are the only survivor I have found. Soon to be dead, if you do escape! The pods are nearby. I shall buy you time with what little life remains in these artificial bones of mine.”
Mirathir nodded. “Whoever you are, I owe you my life. Thank you.” She raced through the open door that the Wraithguard had emerged through.
Mirathir discovered the escape pods further down the corridor from the laboratory. When she reached a large view of the galaxy beyond her ship, she froze in horror. She realized that the Wraithguard had spoken more truthfully than she realized. For none of the escape pods had shown signs of use or ejection. At least upon this deck, she would be the only survivor. As she looked out upon the greater space beyond, her gaze was fixed upon the world that awaited her below,
Rumors had it that Tarmathon IV was an empty world, once settled by the Imperium of Man. It’s population had vanished centuries ago. If there was any truth to that, Mirathir would soon discover for herself.
Last edited by Myen'Tal; 08-24-15 at 05:52 PM.