Deep in normal space between the stars in the endless black, a tear in fabric of reality split the darkness. A maelstrom of color never meant to be witnessed by the unaided eye heralded the arrival a great fleet. Corvettes careened into real space from the anarchy of the Warp, each powering itself away from their egress point to stations ranging far afield. Immense cruisers entered next, gliding in stately disinterest they formed up to escort ships even greater. Kilometers long, with Grand Cruisers in close attendance, the great battleships slipped silently out of the chaos and drove forward. In their wake, the tear seemed to shudder. Its whirlpooled center flexed and spun, yet as the capital ships sailed away, the gate impossibly held itself open. Ripples flowed away, causing the reflected light of stars eons away to shimmer, flex, and wobble in their eternal sentinel duty.
Diving into space, far in the wake of the ships of combat, haphazard and pell mell, tiny ships of commerce fell into existence. Gnats compared to the parade that preceded them, they milled hesitantly about, nearly navigating into one another in their attempt to exit the warp gate. The stately purpose of the proceeding fleet was shattered by the chaotic mess of private vessels, ore carriers, pleasure ships, freight haulers, and the miscellaneous flotsam of interstellar commerce. Yet, inexorably, the mess of ships moved away from the still open gate, making no attempt to disguise that more was yet to come in this parade of star ships.
Great as the ships of battle were, their bulk filling the swirling gate, the final ship through seemed to stretch the unimaginable tear. Rounded and formed like no other ship, the nose dwarfed the cruisers as the battleships did the freight haulers, yet inexplicably the bulk of the ship was still hidden within the warp. Great runes declared the vessel as it squeezed itself through the gate. Blocky and long, the warships of the fleet bore no resemblance to the impossibly immense ship that finally drew itself out of the gate that impatiently snapped closed, as if it wished to bite down and rend the great ship like the mighty bite of a ravenous beast. Resembling nothing so much as an impossibly large egg, its runes held no doubt to its origin or purpose. Perhaps the size of as many as three battleships, the great vessel drove forward. Dwarven script, along with hundreds of clan sigils filling the nose of the hull, named the vessel; The Ark.
Inside, deep within, a debate was coming to a close. A week of controversy had reached its end;
“I, for one, still strongly disagree”, declared Oolong of the Stonehammer Clan.
“Nay, you say? Can you not do anything else?” The angry retort was punctuated by a slammed fist on the table.
“Peace, Y’Mordin. Oolong.”’ A placating tone from a wizened old dwarf forced a nod from the two who then glared at one another. “None here care for your personal quarrel. Put it aside. You are both adults.”
“You would instead have us pick and choose what engagement to embroil ourselves in, like some Eldar Craftworld. By the Ancestors, is that not what we are now? Allow me recess to be fitted with dancing shoes that I might look more Eldar than I live now!”
“Ever the skeptic, Oolong.” Y’Mordin began calmly, though he became more animated as he renewed their argument. "Yet you propose, Nay! Demand! That we fracture what is left of us, just as the Eldar have done, to make some fruitless attempt to propagate and at sometime regain the Homewords? No mind to the future! No consideration of resources! Not a care for any of our allies, or even a thought to our enemies!
"Peace! The two of you!" The placating tone was dropping swiftly and anger replacing it.
"Not a care? Not a care!" Oolong shot to his feet, his chair clattering across the floor behind him. Mirroring him, Y'Mordin stepped away from his chair and the two advanced upon each other. On the other side of the table, the older dwarf pinched his nose and breathed deeply.
"Chaos take you, Cisternwatch! I care! Have I not put aside all claim to restitution for the Ark's design? Guided this counsel in this Exodeus? Not a care?"
The two dwarves glared at each other. Y'Mordin walked up to Oolong and poked him in the chest with his finger.
"Your restitution? You senile old fool! Cisternwatch had pushed this plan for how long?"
"It was only accepted when Stormhammer took up the standard. Hah! Cisternwatch, as ever, has been ineffective in trying to prove any benefit to any proposal." Oolong pushed Y'Mordin back, slapping the braid in Y'Mordin's beard as he fell away.
Y'Mordin franticly brushed his beard back into place and glared at Oolong.
"And now your plan is to disperse all strength we may possess? Emperor above! The Ark has no weapons!"
"Just wait and see, Cisternwatch. You can prance and crow all you care to. The Moot will hearken to Stonehammer long before seeing relief from Cisternwatch. Go back and keep tabs on the depth of your well, waterboy."
"The ever shoddy work of the revered Stonehammers? Tell me, mason. When was the last time any clan came to you or yours for basin work?" Y'Mordin growled back. Oolong's face grew deep purple as he spit at Y'Salnos. "This body seeks not your wisdom, if it could be called such. Stonehammer foresight has ever been flawed. Just like your stone cunning skills."
The two combatants glared at one another. Each waiting for the other to speak. A soft cough from the table claimed their attention. The elder dwarf who had spoken before was sitting back in his chair, seemingly asleep. The other dwarves around the table were quietly waiting for the argument to subside. The two dwarves traded another glare and moved back to their seats. As they reseated the dwarven elder spoke softly.
"By the Book of Grudges you two. That was nigh a thousand years ago. No one cares what was wrong with that bath."
"It was an emergency cistern."
"It was a catch basin, elder."
The two answered reflexively and just as swiftly glared at one another, their ire growing again.
"You will only set them off again, Y'Ressantin. Please." Another of the ancient dwarves at the table groaned only to have Y'Ressantin's wheezing laugh as a response.
"Nay, my friend. Nay." His laugh falling to a soft coughing fit. "At my age, I need something to entertain me. Besides, have we not formed a consensus on the matters before us?"
The heads of the dwarves around the table all nodded and murmured their assent. The soft mutterings of the men was brought to a halt as the doors to the room opened.
"Hail, the Moot." Another wizened old dwarf moved into the room, raising his hand in greeting as he moved to the table.
"Hail, Y'Desdyn. The Moot recognizes you." Y'Ressantin smiled at the newcomer. "Welcome back."
"I have made contact with Titan Slayer Jyn and she has received her commuted sentence." Without preamble Desdyn sat at the table, pulling some cold cuts of meat to him and filling his plate. "I am unsure of the outcome though. I do not relish our paths crossing in the future."
"You alone have dispensed happiness and not death. Should that not be cause for celebration?"
"Do not the Slayers find happiness and celebration in death?" Desdyn frowned at his plate. "Have any of us have even seen a Titan Slayer? I am unsure if she can comprehend anything beyond death and war."
The mutters of other dwarves at the table again filled the room.
"Berserkers aplenty. Those of the criminal class."
"It galls me that these criminals steal the berserker title from our legitimate troops."
"Troll Slayers? Aye. Giant Slayers? Two I recall."
"Only one, myself."
"What is a Titan Slayer?"
"When Stompers are too easy to bring down, these psychopaths turn to gargants as the next challenge to surmount."
"I have never given the choice to a criminal. What would be the point?"
"It is enough that the first domino has been put in place. We will soon welcome another to our ranks. The promised one who will know the minds of our enemy." Y'Ressantin's reedy voice rose to cut through the soft voices of the other dwarves and silence fell across the room.
"The Tyranid." Oolong grumbled the word.
Desdyn finished building his sandwich and stood. Saluting the assembled dwarves with the sandwich, he spoke his farewell.
"The warlord will be splitting his forces away for the collection effort shortly. Jyn has already been detached to the force and I will be counsel for the warlord. Ancestors willing, we will be able to recollect the bulk of the Sixty-First Brotherhood of Durnak."
The dwarves raised tankards to the departing Desdyn.
"Hail and well met! Victory to the Warlord!"