Part II – Too much talk, not enough time.
“Come. It's not far. But we haven't much time.” I turned to leave but was stopped by a snort from dear Niacar.
“we are not going anywhere. Not without an explanation. You summon us without so much as a whisper on what we face, to this Emperor-forgotten mudball, drop a name and expect-”
“We do not have the time for this!” I burst out. I should have expected his petulance. “Kruor is here, and he will start the ritual soon, we need to get to the catacombs before-”
“No Lawrence, we need to know what has happened to bring us to this moment. Make the time.” Clicking sounds punctuate Drisel's statements. Her lamentation blades are never quiet.
I sighed. I hated the loss of time, I needed to end this. But I also needed them.
“Very well. As we all know, Kruor, the Great Blasphemer and mercenary-summoner had gone to ground somewhere in this subsector after Lord Hand ruined his last endeavour. I had seeded several hives like this with informants, with hope of rooting him out when he started.... working again.”
I paused, twiddled my toes and continued, “I had given up hope, and was planning to start hunting for him all over again, when I received word from an informant in this very hive. A minor cult had joined forces with him and, flush with funds and new members, was planning something..significant.”
“What brought me running, and made me call for you, was a name and picture my informant was shown at a cult meeting he infiltrated. The name was Dreadwing.”
I looked about my council of peers, hoping for a reaction. We were all well versed with the Scrolls of Forgotten Names, and Dreadwing, The Red Predator, known to man from prehistory as The Jabberwocky, was a prominent character.
None of my fellow Inquisitors so much as raised an eyebrow. From the looks of things, the consensus was that I had panicked on hearsay and wasted everyone's extremely valuable time. So I played my final card to convince them.
“I was able to confirm that it was a pictogram of the jabberwocky that my informant saw when I...questioned him”.
“Questioned? You mean mind-purged him, don't you?”
“I do what I must, Drisel, do not doubt that. We all do what we must.”
<especially you. Killer>
“Now, we must reach the catacombs of this hive within 2 hours, on foot. I'm going. Who here wishes to join me in our Holy Duty and who wishes to stand here and demand progress reports like an administratum wretch?”
That last rant finally got them going. Knuckles were cracked, shoulders flexed and we marched off single file through a nearby tunnel, into the catacombs.
“Drisel, take point. Your lamentation blades will be most effective. Harvvold, the rearguard, if you please.”
We were just entering one of the main catacomb tunnels, and while I did not expect pickets this far out from the site, I preferred to be cautious.
“Put yourself right in the middle of us where it's safest, why don't you? Coward will get us all killed by some freak mutant down here..”
“Not if you kill us first with the whinging Niacar, We would all be most bliged if you shut the Throne up”
One look at Delilah and I knew that that helping hand was going to cost me.
I did not have to wait. “So what is your plan Fearless Leader? Or do we wade into apostates as we always do and hope Niacar complains the beast back into the warp?”
Delilah's tone is infinitely worse than anything Niacar could say or do. But I can't react to her. Not ay more.
“Kruor is the key. We get him, we end this. Drisel, Harvold and myself will be the distraction, and 'wade in', slaughter and disrupt things as much as possible. Niacar, Kruor is yours to stop. Your psyk-shadow effect should get you past whatever guards he has.”
My logic was sound. Even Niacar couldn't fault it.
“And what about me? Surely you didnt forget me in your master plan?” Delilah sounded almost piqued.
“Delilah, I can't...I don't..sorry..just, just hold our escape route.”
“.. As you say, Dear.”
“Or is It Lawrence, that you can't trust yourself where I'm concerned anymore.” Delilah's force-whisper was project to me alone. “And you hold to this frail hope that a heroic performance against heavy odds will win my heart back, or at the least, silence yours?”
Not for nothing are those of the Inquisition feared.
Meanwhile, our little intrepid band had penetrated fairly deep into the catacombs. Green luminant fungi bathed everything in an emerald haze, not unlike the night-vision targeter on a Leman Russ. The floor was damp and covered with a n ooze that made footing tricky and ruined good boots. We were alone, not even a hive rat.
That changed soon enough.
End Part 2.