Humakt's Fan Fiction entry
The winds howled around the hull of the 'Vengeful Spirit' Valhallan class drop ship. Its dull black surface was adorned with the sign of the Sisters of Our Martyred Lady, the scarlet emblems broadcasting the nature of the crafts passengers.
As the craft descended into the swirling atmosphere of the plant Pelcar, pilot adept Orinos switched on the broadcast beacon, halting any retaliatory action from the ground-based manticore defence lasers. Anxious moments passed, as both pilot and co pilot waited for the return signal, which eventually came. This took a little too long in Orinos opinion, and he would report this to his superior once he returned to the
Cruiser in orbit around the planet. The ship’s decent slowed as the ground became visible through the thick cloud cover, landing gear extended and a perfect landing was completed. But this was no assault, so the normal dropping of the attack ramp
didn't follow, instead the boarding door opened and a group of 2 dozen figures descended onto the planet surface.
Canoness Serena observed her surroundings. Her party of battle sisters formed a protective circle around her. Behind her the scribes and priests formed itself
into a group waiting to move to their destination, the Basilica of Saint Maltho, situated a hundred yards from the landing site. The scene was bleak. Dark clouds filled the sky and the distant rumble of a storm could be heard. The landing pad was a smooth, plasticrete construction sitting on a raised platform of brown rock. Four self-propelled manticore anti-air vehicles where stationed on each corner of the platform, their massive turbo lasers were more than capable of taking out the Vengeful Spirit. A ramp wide enough to accommodate a Rhino led down to a rough hewn path, which led between rocky hillocks to the Basilica. Serena moved towards the ramp, signalling to her escort to go ahead. Moving quickly, the black power-armoured woman descended the ramp. The Canoness reached the foot of the ramp and turned to her retinue.
"Wait here, I will summon you once I have ascertained why Sister Barovial has requested such urgent assistance" she ordered.
"As is your will" the Ecclesiarch escort intoned. Now she turned to her bodyguard.
"Sister Brunal, Sister Affalon, remain here and protect the Vengeful Spirit, the rest form up and we shall see what heresy has been committed here" The squad of sisters marched up to the Basilica. Serena looked around and noticed there were no sisters
anywhere to be seen, which she would have expected, although there were several squads of inducted troops at the top of the hillocks. She made a mental note to query this with Senior Barovial.
The building they approached appeared to have been made from locally quarried stone, as they were of the same dark brown rock of the surrounding terrain. The architecture was standard Ecclesiarchal, with 3 columns on either side of the double doors. On top of the columns was a pitched roof, with a relief of Her Martyred Lady set in the wall above the door. The heavy plastisteel doors were closed. Steps led up to the door and the back of the building appeared to descend into a hill behind. Serena had never visited this religious site and was unsure what to expect within. She mounted the steps and quickly reached the door. Without her aid, it swung open, allowing her to look inside the dim interior. The windows set high up in the wall gave little illumination. Except for squares of light on the floor, the place was in darkness. At the far end of the gallery was a figure, apparently kneeling: facing the altar.
Stepping through the doorway with her assembled body guard, the Canoness made her way towards the praying individual. As she neared, she could make out a Sister wearing the robes of mourning, the head hidden by a hood. The figure appeared to hear them approaching and rose, stepped backwards and bowed to the altar. Serena stopped and the figure turned to face her.
The face was partially hidden, only the lower half being visible. The jaw was angular and feminine, with thin lips and a pointed nose. Even in shadow, the skin was pale. The shape of the robes indicated this woman was a Sister of Battle. She bowed to Serena. "Welcome to the basilica of Saint Maltho, most Revered
Canoness. I am Sister Jularna. I have been asked take you to the Reclusiam as soon as you arrive. Sister Barovial is keeping vigil there."
"Very well Sister, lead on. Sister Smearna, Sister Rea come with me, the rest remain here and pray whilst you have a moment."
As the remaining sisters knelt to pray in front of the altar, the small party moved to a doorway on the left. Following Sister Jularna, they entered a corridor lit by glow globes in the ceiling. The light from these barely lifted the darkness. As they proceeded further along, the smooth stone floor became rougher as the path lead them deeper into the hillside.
The path now started to descend and Serena estimated they had dropped a couple of hundred meters, when it levelled off. The air had become cold and smelled stale. Ahead, light from a doorway could be seen, outlining the cowled figure leading them. The group emerged into a large, square room. In the opposite wall were two other doors, both open. In the centre of the room was an altar raised on a dais, kneeling in front of the dais, with its back to them, was another figure dressed in a black robe.
“Sister Barovial, the Mother Superior is here.” Jularna said in a quiet voice.
'Thank you Sister. Please retire to the vestry, until I have need of you” replied the kneeling figure.
Jularna moved off to the right hand doorway and entered the darkness beyond.
The kneeling figure of Sister Barovial stood up and turned, the hood totally covering her features.
“I welcome you to the Basilica most Revered Sister Serena, I am glad you came at such short notice. I have need of you in this dark hour.”
The voice of Barovial was silky smooth, and had an unearthly quality that made it beguiling, yet somehow hinted of danger dangerous.
“Why have I been requested to come here Sister: what is so important that you could not tell me via an astropathic message?”
'The tale is a sad and disturbing one. Time is short so I shall be brief.” As the sister gave her account, she remained cowled and her hands hidden inside the depths of the robe. No sign that this was a Sister of Battle could be made.
The tale told of how an Inquisitor had come to the remote religious site and had demanded access to the inner sanctuary. She had all the correct codes and insignia, so Barovial had been duty bound to give access. As Serena was aware, this inner area contained heretical artefacts that were under guard of the Ecclesiarchy and she was under strict orders never to access this area. So the Inquisitor entered alone and ordered the door shut behind her. Several hours later, there were blood curdling screams from within and Barovial considered that she must enter the sanctum in order to recover the obviously dead Inquisitor. Upon entering she found a room similar to the one they were in now, without the additional exits. At the foot of the dais, lay the inert body of the Inquisito,: eyes wide and a trickle of blood running from her nose. Surprisingly, she still appeared to be alive, although her skin had started to turn a pale blue. Curiosity now got the better of the Sister and she wanted to see what had caused this to happen. Mounting the steps leading to the stone altar, all she found was a long, thick-bladed sword, a chalice and a heavy book, which looked as if it was bound by some sort of skin.
Without thinking about what she was doing, as if compelled by some other force, Barovial reached out and took the chalice. It was made of burnished silver, and appeared to be filled to the brim with a green liquid. Mesmerised, she pulled the chalice to her lips and sipped from it. It tasted sweet and was hot. As the liquid flowed down her throat she felt herself changing: becoming stronger. It was then that she
decided she must tell her superiors of her failure to protect the artefacts, so the appropriate punishment could be given. As the story came to an end, Serena stood in shock. How could this sister in front of her expect anything less than capital punishment for her heresy?
“Sister Barovial you will be returned to the monastery
for your punishment. Where is the Inquisitor? What have you done with the artefacts? Please remove your robes of mourning, until punishment is decided you shall
wear the attire of a sepulant.”
“I think not, since my message was sent things have changed. I serve a higher purpose than you.” With that Barovial pushed back her hood. Serna gasped and behind her: Sister Smearna and Sister Rea reached for their bolters. Barovial's face was pale, with full violet coloured lips. Her eyes were red with a corona of yellow and the short-cropped hair was a rich purple.
Pulling on the front of the cloak, she let it fall to the ground. The power armour had been changed. Instead of black, it was now a bright orange. Heretical sigils adorned it: with shoulder pouldrons displaying an eight-pointed star and a chalice dripping green liquid. At her side hung a large black sword, its surface appeared to absorb all light.
Raising her hands, Barovial intoned an unearthly phrase. From each hand came a purple mist, which swept over Smearna and Rea. Both collapsed, writhing on the ground. Serena stepped back and drew her own sword and pistol.
“Prepare to die heretic!” she screamed over the moans of her fallen comrades.
Before she could react, Barovial swept her own blade from her side and jumped down from the dais. Landing next to Serena, she swung the blade in a back-hand move. This hamstrung her opponent, easily slicing though the Canoness power armour. As Serena collapsed, Barovial used the return stroke to smash her power sword from her hand, the flat side of the blade following through and smashing against the side of Serena’s head.
Reeling from the pain, Serena couldn't grip the bolt pistol in her hand and it dropped to the floor. Lying at Barovial's feet, she felt sick with betrayal but could do nothing to avenge her fallen sisters, or even defend herself. With great effort, she spat at the figure towering over her. A sickly sweet laugh filled the air and Barovial?s
voice drifted down to Serena.
“How feeble. I thought I would have a harder fight. But what should I have expected from somebody who worships a feeble broken man, who claims to be a god. Since I drank from the chalice I have been transformed. I have gained powers that you could only dream of. As for the rest of my sisters, they too have drunk from the chalice and all have risen above the need to worship your false emperor. Some have had the most amazing transformations, as you will see before your inevitable demise. Jularna, take the Mother Superior to the chamber for preparation. We will start the ceremony soon. I have the other sisters to deal with.”
Jularna appeared above the Canoness and as she was dragged off, she saw the still twitching bodies of her comrades sliced open by the black blade wielded by her betrayer. Blood sprayed across the room as an artery was cut, covering the grinning Barovial. Serena passed into unconsciousness.
Your toast has been burnt and no amount of scraping will get rid of the black bits.