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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-27-10, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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“So this is to be my prison?”

“It is. Let me make this abundantly clear, alien. You will die, by my hand, whenever I wish it. From what I know of your kind, this is a particularly fitting end. Captured on a slave-raid.”

It shrugs. It stands tall, proud in spite of its nudity, almost baring its taut flesh at its captor.

“Your bars will not hold me, mon-keigh. You will die, by my hand, when I wish it.”

“I have no time to bandy threats and exercise bravado with you, alien. Goodbye.”

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

It still refuses to answer my questions, despite my best efforts. The alien has proven highly resilient to my pain amplifiers; indeed, it laughs and mocks them, calling them inferior copies, toys. I confess that it vexes me. While long and bitter experience has taught me much, I had not anticipated this much resilience in an organism with such an advanced nervous system.

Visual studies of the subject’s body may reveal the answer, however. Among scars presumably from combat, on the right side of the torso alien glyphs have been scarred into the flesh, some barely visible, others red and livid. The eldar are noted for their cruelty and sadism, and I wonder if these tendencies have lead to a propensity for ritualised self-harm in my captive.

The alien certainly seems to take some form of pleasure in the pain I cause. For now, I shall cease conventional interrogation methods. I may make use of sanctionite Annabel, who has served me well before.

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

Annabel is dead. I should have foreseen this, and I could have prevented it. I spent an hour within my own pain amplifiers as penance. It is with regret and shame I report the details of her death.

I brought her to see the subject. It has become increasingly agitated over the last few days; the solitude, perhaps, and lack of mental stimulation within its cell is beginning to affect it. It mocked and threatened me, as usual, but its threats towards poor Annabel were much more graphic, and made the worse by the fact that she could sense they were indeed its desires. Shivering with fear and revulsion, she entered its mind.

She screamed, and the alien laughed. I took her away, quickly, ordering the alien suffer two hours of agony.

It said it would enjoy every moment of them.

I gave Annabel a chemical relaxant, which calmed her enough for her to relay what she had learned from the alien’s mind. She spoke of a mind filled only thoughts with thoughts of murder, torture and rape and a terrifying, boundless hunger.

She took a further sedative to ease her sleep. Concerned for her state of mind, I checked in on her early the next morning to find her body.

Her manner of death was not... pleasant. She had taken a blade and torn erratically at her flesh. It seems she died of blood loss. There was a note on her bed, or rather the incomplete final entry in her dream-log. I was difficult for me to read, but it made mention of a dark city, and some kind of thirsting entity. The last line mentioned that something was pulling at her soul.

What manner of fiend is this creature? All aliens are monsters worthy only of destruction, of course, but even the most twisted Xenoforms have some motive beyond their own perverse enjoyment. Annabel was an extremely resilient psyker and a single moment with this eldar drove to madness and suicide.

A part of me wants this experiment to end. I ought to kill it now and dissect it, or perhaps I should vivisect this alien and see if it enjoys the pain of its own death. But can I extract its motives, its secrets and its very psyche with my scalpels and probes and expose them, quivering, to the light? I cannot.

I will let it live, for now. This terrible hunger that killed my adept and, I realise in the harsh clarity of hindsight, friend intrigues me as much as it repulses me.

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

The subject’s agitation increases. It is quick to anger and its threats have grown less refined and more brutal and vicious. Pleasing progress, certainly, but I suspect it is linked to this’ hunger’ Annabel died for. So I asked it outright.

***

“Are you hungry, alien? Is our fare not to your liking?”

“Your swill tastes as disgusting as you smell, mon-keigh.”

“Your wit remains as sharp as ever, I see. It’s just you seem to want something. Crave, I should say. Perhaps I could accommodate you. You are, after all, my guest.”

The eldar presses its angular face against the bars. It seems to have grown paler over the last few days; its ashen skin appears almost translucent under the harsh lights.

“What I want is to kill you, human. You and your entire mongrel race.”

***

The subject remains as uncooperative as ever. I begin to wonder if this hunger is simply for causing pain and death. Are the eldar so depraved that their desire for bloodshed has become a literal addiction? We know little of their physiology, but the subject sweats and shakes like one in withdrawal. It mutters, sometimes, in its alien tongue when it thinks itself alone.

There is, of course, a considerable likelihood that this is a literal narcotic addiction. The eldar are known to make use of combat-drugs and for a high degree of hedonism.

I have a new, bold plan. I will ask this creature, this alien, what it is addicted to and promise to deliver it if it answers my questions.

***

“Alien.”

“Yes, mon-keigh?

“You look terrible. Even more hideous than when you first came. And I know why.”

The prisoner chuckles.

“You’re an addict.”

It stops laughing; now it fixes Lemarche with a careful gaze.

“What do you know of it?” it spits.

“Little enough, but even with your alien biology I can recognise withdrawal when I see it. It is possible I may be able to supply what it is that you require. I am prepared to do so, in exchange for information.”

It laughs again, louder.

“You could supply it well enough, Inquisitor, but somehow I think your human sensibilities would balk at my price.”

“Name it.”

It says nothing at first; the violet eyes lock onto his, unblinking. Lemarche’s eyes begin to water, but he refuses to be the one to break contact.

“I require... to kill someone. Not some pathetic animal, I require something with ...substance...”

“A human, you mean?” Lemarche replies, in a voice of solid ice.

“Not necessarily,” it hisses, almost apologetically. “but that would suffice.”

“By Terra, you’re a sordid race, aren’t you? You’re physically addicted to murder and torture?”

The eldar growls, spits. The spittle hisses upon contact with the power field.

“You are wrong, mon-keigh! It is your race that is perverse! We kill, we torture, we rape and we take because we must! You do it simply because you can, in the name of some lunatic faith in a dead god!”

“Blaspheme again, alien, and you will receive nothing. I will let you die slowly.”

“The true face of humanity! As cruel as we are, but do you let yourselves see it? An entire race of hypocrites!”

Lemarche pauses.

“We can continue to insult one another’s species for all eternity, but we both know it would be a waste of time. I will give you what you want, alien, as much as it sickens me, as much as I feel I am soiled by it. Would a servitor do?”

“Just one?” the prisoner replies, true desperation in its voice.

“For now, alien. I will reward honesty with further... victims. My first question. What is your name?”

“You would be unable to pronounce it, human.”

“So melodramatic,” he sighs.

The eldar holds up a pale hand placatingly.

“In short, you can call me... Melekh.”

“Good. Melekh... My name is Gabriel Lemarche.”
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[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

My plan has succeeded. I have learned a little of this creature, even its name. Melekh. It told me of its ‘Kabal’, the Sundered Heart, and spoke a little of the Dark City. It has explained the distinct factions of the eldar race, which I confess previously I had poorly understood. It belongs to a faction that lives within the Webway, within the forbidden city. They leave it only to find their prey, a prey it seems they require for more than just enjoyment.

The other factions it spoke of are the ‘fools of the Craftworlds’, the ‘primitive and self-righteous Exodites’ and the harlequins. That it spared the last grouping its insults I find rather telling.

I gleaned little more, knowing not push it too hard this early on. It hates me, of course, and to tell me anything at all must feel like a betrayal of its race. But an addict is predicable, controllable. It seems I have found the weakness of the eldar.

I gave it a servitor, and watched on the pict-monitors. The eldar killed it, viciously, but more quickly than I had expected. I had assumed torture and cruelty were integral to the ritual; evidently not. I recall the look of ecstasy on its pale face as it stooped over the body. Perhaps it looks a little healthier, but only barely. I presume it requires much, much more.

I cannot afford to waste valuable servitors. I must locate another source.

I hate this alien more than words can say but to control its every action, to make it dance to my tune... That seems more pleasurable than killing it will be, as much as I look forward to the moment when it outlives its usefulness. Perhaps Annabel did not die in vain.

***

“You gather into these ‘kabals’ for mutual protection?”

“Of a sort. Life in the Dark City is filled with perils, and it is simpler not to face them alone. Those without kabals are alone, and will find few safe places in which to live. Of course, betrayal is the greatest threat of all, so being within a kabal carries its own dangers. Assassination is commonplace and, along with simple perfidy, it is the only real route for advancement. ”

“Your society is founded on the right of individual conquest with betrayal and assassination as the main pastimes. Leadership is held only by strength of arms and force of personality. How can such a civilisation survive? How does it not simply tear itself apart? My understanding is that the eldar are few in number; surely you would have driven yourselves to extinction if you have been continuing in this vein for even half as long as you claim?”

“You do not understand us, human. You will fail to do so as long as you compare us to humanity. Humans cling together; you understand you are weak as individuals and it has defined every aspect of your society. Your empire, your precious, decaying Imperium, survives only by strength of numbers. You are like the orks!”

Probably true, Lemarche muses. Some general had said something similar once, hadn’t they? ‘So long as one more man is born every moment than dies on the frontlines, we will have victory.’

“You are as selfish as any other race, individually, but how willingly you sacrifice your ambition for security. We eldar are not prepared to compromise our nature so. ”

“Nonetheless. How have you endured?”

“We can live for thousands of years, mon-keigh. Our plots tend towards a longer game than your own, and we are all extremely adept at surviving. Our death rate is not nearly as high as the blood in our streets would make you think.”

“So what reduced the eldar to such an existence?”

“Reduced? We our continuing to live as our ancestors did. It is only the conservative fools of Craftworld and Maiden-world that seek to emulate the primitives from our forgotten history, before we rose to galactic superiority.”

“A superiority you have lost. Perhaps they were right, and perhaps I was in my summation that your way of life is inherently self-destructive.”

The alien’s eyes flash dangerously, but he holds back an insult. His need is too great.

“The Fall was inevitable, human. All empires have their time. The death knell of your own is coming. Now the eldar have no requirement for empires, no need to expand into new territories. We have Commorragh, which is larger than worlds, where we are hidden away from all of our enemies, safe from even the other eldar of the webway.”

“What caused this Fall, then, eldar?”

“You do not know?”

“Records are confusing and contradictory, and infected with bizarre alien myth.”

“All empires end the same way, human. Problems and pressures mount; disorder, disease and rebellion. The empire collapsed under them, and the strongest escaped to the Dark City to start anew,” Melekh replied, after a pause.

“I see. You have been most cooperative, Melekh. I think we shall conclude our interview here for the day.”

“You promised...”

“And I keep my promises, Melekh, so long as you keep yours. I have obtained access to a prison. I will have a prisoner sent to you directly.”

“Only one?”

“Do you truly require more? Can’t you... savour the kill, or something?” says Lemarche, distaste clear in his voice.

“It is... not so simple, human.”

“How so?”

“You would not... It just is, human!”

“Very well, then. I suppose I can send you two. Is that enough?”

Melekh mutters something to himself in his own tongue.

“Was that ‘never’, alien?”

A flash of white - the alien is grinning.

“You’re sharper than most of your race, Lemarche.”

“Perhaps. Alien. You’ve never referred to me by name before.”

“Perhaps I’m coming to identify with my captors. Why, soon I shall cease washing and grooming myself.”

Lemarche smiles his own humourless little smile.

“I have another request for you, human.”

“It involves more killing, doesn’t it?”

“Naturally. I wish to kill one before our next interview as well as after. It may... loosen my tongue a little further.”

“Your tongue is not loose already, alien? You have been hiding things from me, perhaps?”

“Not at all.”

“Good. I want inside knowledge on eldar strategy, then. How you select your targets. Your tactics. Your weaknesses.”

“You would ask me to betray my entire race?”

“My understanding is that betrayal is the cornerstone of your race.”

Another glimmer of teeth in the gloom.

“I want six kills next time, human.”

“I shall see to it that our cells, or larders, are well-stocked.”

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

It seems I have built.... a rapport with this monster. An understanding, even. I can only hope this stems from my understanding of addicts, a relic of my youth, and the insight into the mind of a sociopath every Inquisitor gains in time.

I cannot forget, even for a moment, that it thinks of violence and murder with every breath and were the power field to fail it would happily strangle me through the bars.

I have learned more than I should like to know about the blood-soaked intricacies of eldar culture, but it has promised me the military secrets of its kind. I must be watchful for lies, now more than ever. So far most of what it has said matches what others have reported; I have obtained copies of some of Czevak’s earlier writings, which are widely praised, and indeed chided, by those within the Ordo Xenos as definitive.

Perhaps I
can control him. His addiction is too powerful for him to resist.

I have been sleeping poorly, even by my own standards. I spend hours interviewing the alien, replaying vox-recordings, researching and comparing. The eldar are poorly understood, despite being one of our oldest enemies. My work here could contribute significantly to our knowledge.

Apparently eldar captives are usually unresponsive to the point of catatonia, and have a habit of dying when tortured. Melekh is different. His addiction must be what makes him different.

I missed Annabel’s funeral service yesterday. I was caught up in my work, of course, but I have no wish to appear heartless. I visited her sad little grave earlier. She is a reminder of why my work is so important, and a warning I forget at my own peril.
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By Emperor's life insurance policy! This is a great story! Keep on writing, it is very intriguing!
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By Emperor's life insurance policy! This is a great story! Keep on writing, it is very intriguing!
It's all written, actually - I just decided to update it piecemeal rather than dumping roughly 10,000 words in one go. Glad to see someone's reading.
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I feel this story wont end well.

"Do you see them, my Brothers? Do you see how they quake and tremble with fear? Soon, they shall know that all their fears are pale compared to the terror that will grip their vile souls when they hear the choir that is our bolters for we are veterans of over a thousand campaigns, do not come before an Angel of Death and his weaponry."


hippta243-
Inquisitor: Wait, What?!?! You mean I can finally stop pretending to be a pretentious asshole and carry out my.... "research" on Eldar and Tau females unmolested?!?! This wonderful news! Come Maria, my loyal unsanctioned psyker, we have much "research" to catch up on!

Maria: By the Emperor master, why do you always shout out heretical thoughts when your excited? Especially the part about me.

Inquisitor: .............QUICK, BACK TO THE SHIP!
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[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

I have taken to the rather morbid practise of watching the pict-logs of Melekh’s killings. His subjects are delivered unconscious and thrown into the antechamber of his cell. He waits until the servitors leave before he falls upon them. I consider it prudent to see how he kills his prey, and he does so with astonishing brutality, tearing out throats with his hands or even his teeth. Then he stoops over the body for a few long moments, seeming to savour it, before he is content with his kill and calmly drags the remains to the antechamber for later collection and cremation. He then cleans himself, calmly and leisurely.

I do not understand this addiction. I assumed it was based on the need to feel in control, like a serial killer, or out of simple sadism. I was clearly wrong. There is no ritual to it, no pattern I can discern. Nonetheless, it seems to have filled him with vigour.

I must understand this addiction better if I am to harness it effectively.

Melekh has also taken to exercising within his cell, feats of acrobatics and contortion that inspire revulsion in the pit of my stomach. The superficial similarities of the eldar to mankind make them in many ways far more repulsive than monsters like the K’nib or even the tyranids. We look upon as though they were human, but the tiny differences, the
wrongness of them...

Often I find my thoughts stray to his death, both the questions of when and how. Though I have much to learn from him still, I cannot forget that he is an incredibly dangerous subject and it would be folly to keep him alive indefinitely. The sensible thing to do would be to slip poison in his food, or merely to shoot him, but I will learn nothing from such a death.

He lives, for but a while longer.

***

“I gave you what you asked for, alien. Now if you hold up your end of the bargain you’ll get your next three kills. How do your people select their targets?”

“We attack simply for new slaves, new sacrifices or new sport. We attack population centres that are poorly defended, space routes that are barely patrolled. When we face any cohesive resistance it is on our terms; soldiers are always in demand for our arenas, and a space marine or a psyker is particularly valuable. Worthier prey are more of a challenge, and many of our leaders prove their worth by facing the best your Imperium has to offer, or ambushing the fools of the craftworlds. There is no prize more valuable than another eldar.”

“Sickening. Tell me this; the eldar of the craftworlds attack seemingly at random. It is said they attack based on divination. Is this true?”

“You must understand that the fools of the craftworld attack only to protect themselves. Their witches look into the future and try to steer it to their ends. Every seemingly random attack, every raid or war, is to guide them to a safer path.”

“And are they able to predict the future with any degree of accuracy?”

“Oh, yes, human, but it will doom them all. They’ve become so obsessed with fate that they have resigned themselves to the life of a prey species, always seeking the safest path. They fight to slow their death, and so they do nothing to stop it, forever paralysed by their fear. I am also told the future changes the more you look upon it.”

“But your kin do not try to look upon it?”

“There are no psykers in Commorragh, human. It drives them mad, you see, and if they were discovered they would become another prize to be fought over.”

“The depravity of your kind no longer surprises me, alien.”

“I have witnessed your soldiers destroy a city of millions due to riots at the hands of a few thousand and the assassination of a noble. Oh, my kin will happily kill one another, but never on such a scale, and we would never have the temerity to say that it was justified.”

“We speak in circles, alien. I have heard all this before. I have a fresh line of inquiry for you now. I want to know about you, your life.”

“I am... I believe the most appropriate word would be incredulous, Lemarche. There is little to tell.”

“Indulge me.”

“I was born in the Dark City, human. Born into a kabal, which gave me some measure of protection. From a young age, I practised the arts of murder and war, and learned to survive on the twilight streets. Before I was even a century in age, my mother was murdered and I was left to fend for myself, still a child by our standards. I survived, nonetheless, too unimportant to be a target of intrigue and protected from the less discerning elements of the city by my kabal. I grew older, served in raids against other kabals and factions and before long I left the city to visit other worlds - mostly human worlds - for slaves, as you can guess.

“It was liberating, in one way, and I recall the first touch of sunlight on my skin, the first flurry of snow, with the same fondness I remember my first battles. I was rash, young and eager to prove my worth, and yet... there is a terror to leaving the Dark City. It protects us. Without it we are exposed.”

“Exposed to what?”

“Reality, I suppose. I was carving a niche for myself now, an able warrior, and eventually I killed a rival and became a Sybarite. An honorific title for warriors who have proven themselves worthy of leading raids themselves, and all it had taken was patience and a well-aimed knife. Don’t make that face, Lemarche, assassination is a pastime your species enjoys as well, and for every soldier of repute you can name I see a man drenched in the blood of his own men as much as that of his enemies.

“I grew in favour, foiling several attempts on my own life. It pleased me; finally, I was a worthy target. There is not greater mark of recognition in Commorragh than people trying to kill you. Alas, it ended at the hands of some mon-keigh manning a listening post.”

“How were you captured?”

“Poor luck on my part, excellent on theirs. A stray round. They found my body in the aftermath. They would have killed me, but their commander was intelligent enough to see in me the potential to avoid a court martial. Do you know if he was punished, in the end? Or promoted?”

“He was promoted to glory, we could say.”

“The callousness of your kin no longer surprises me, Gabriel. Now, indulge me. Tell me of yourself, Inquisitor. There, perhaps, is a story worth hearing.”

“You only answer my questions because I offer you something in return, Melekh. You have nothing to offer me,” the Inquisitor replies, rising to his feet.

“Are you sure, Gabriel?” Melekh calls after him as he walks away.
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awesome story

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Now this is awesome. I NEED MOAR
Ask and ye shall receive...

If you enjoy the story, please recommend it to other people and check out my other stories as I slowly start to post them onto the board.
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[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

Melekh has recovered much of his former overconfidence. I should not have bowed to his demands for more victims, I realise now. Perhaps it is foolish of me to attempt to diagnose an alien mind with human neuroses, but I feel I am beginning to understand his behaviour. He is a prisoner with no control of his destiny whatsoever, but by attempting to manipulate me he gains some false sense of it.

It will not do. He will go without his victims until he is suitably humble. Our...
rapport is a lie.

***

“You’re late.”

“Am I? I was not aware our meetings were scheduled, alien.”

“You’ve not left me alone this long since our little arrangement began. Speaking of which, why haven’t I been provided for? It’s been almost a week.”

“And you look decidedly unhealthy. Tell me, how is withdrawal for your species?”

Perhaps the expression on the alien’s face is surprise.

“What prompted this, human?”

“Your arrogance, alien.”

“Nonsense. I have never ceased to be arrogant. I have not changed; have you? Or perhaps you merely wish to reassert your power over me... Surely another beating would suffice? Or some time in those pain amplifiers of yours?”

“Let us see how glib you are in a few days, alien.”

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

He has lasted well, or at least better than before. He knows I watch him and he tries to hide the agony he surely feels, but I can see the cold sweat and shivering that he shares with any ‘mon-keigh’ addict.

Soon he will be screaming, begging and pleading. And I look forward to it.

***

“Inquisitor! I wondered how long it would be before you came to laugh at me, to mock me and bask in your precious power. Coward! You hide behind these bars and force-fields, terrified of what I am and what I can do...”

“There is a distinction between fear and caution, Melekh, and while I have no desire to mock your plight, I must admit I find it very difficult to summon any fear when I look upon you as you are now. You look half-dead. I suppose going clean is never easy, but perhaps this is a good thing. Perhaps we can break you of your habit.”

“You... don’t understand, mon-keigh! Never did, never could! The Thirst is no trifling addiction, it is a necessity!”

“Is it, now? Melekh. I will give you what you need if you answer my questions. Let’s start easy. Why is the Thirst a necessity?”

“I will tell you nothing, nothing, human, until you uphold your end of the bargain!”

“A bargain? Hardly. One more chance, and then I leave.”

“Leave, then! Leave me to die! I’ll tell you no more, human, I won’t play your twisted games any longer!”

“Very well.”

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

To my surprise, I find myself wondering if I have gone too far now. He lies on his mattress, staring at the ceiling, occasionally writhing as though in pain, and muttering to himself in his alien tongue. I believe he is hallucinating.

The very fact I question myself, question this act is practically heresy. I have denied an alien his victims. Condemned men, perhaps, but this is still a noble act. Still, I do not feel guilty, and I admit to no small amount of pleasure at seeing Melekh brought so low.

I begin to wonder if he will even survive much longer. My path is clear; it is time to question him once again.

***

The alien makes no move when Lemarche approaches. He mumbles faintly to himself.

“You’ve been very quiet, Melekh. Not to mention unmoving. Either your addiction is about to break, or you’re about to die.”

“Worse, human,” he croaks, rising.

“Worse?”

“Considerably.”

His skin is waxy and glistens with sweat. Those once sparkling eyes are now dull, yellowing and sunken.

“What is the true nature of this addiction, this murder-hunger, the Thirst as you called it? I thought it was a simple question but you seem so recalcitrant to tell me that I wonder if there is a deeper significance to which I am ignorant.”

“Of course there is. Ignorance... is the cornerstone of your empire.”

“I am tired of the insults, alien. I swear by my Emperor that if you don’t tell me I’ll leave you to die here. I’ll withhold both your victims and your food, and we shall see if starvation or withdrawal takes you first. I know you are terrified of dying, alien, and it is so very easy for you to live. Answer me!”

“You want the truth, Gabriel?”

“Of course!”

“The true fear our captives have, once they learn it, is not the terrible things that we do to their bodies and their minds, but what we shall inevitably do to their souls...”

“Riddles, alien. I demand the truth.”

“The Thirst isn’t for killing. It’s for souls, Gabriel. That little spark of warp-presence mankind barely understands. We feed upon it.”

“Souls? You believe you consume the souls of the dead?”

“No, Gabriel. I know. Your pet psyker, she felt it, when she came here, didn’t she?”

“Don’t you dare mention her, xeno-filth!”

“That was something of an overreaction, Gabriel... Is she dead? She is, isn’t she. A shame. Psykers are much more.... delectable than ‘blunts.’”

“This is lunacy.”

“No, Gabriel, this is the truth you wanted! Our souls are continually eroded, consumed, and the only way to stave off that lingering death is to constantly replenish ourselves.”

“How is such an... erosion even possible?”

“You asked me of the Fall, yes?”

“Another question you avoided answering directly.”

“And this is why. The eldar of old did a terrible thing. The empire that had lasted countless millennia, destroyed itself because in their decadence, our ancestors created a god that feasted upon our souls. She Who Thirsts.”

“Am I correct in the assumption that that is what your kind call the Flesh God, Slaan-”

“Do not speak its name! It eats away at us, quite literally. The fools of the craftworld put their faith in gems and psychic baubles to protect them and the harlequins give theirs to a forgotten god. Only my kind, those of the Dark City, have anything approaching a solution. This is why we take so many alive back to the City. Hidden away in the webway it provides us a small measure of protection. But out here I am naked, bare, and I can see it now! I can see it laughing as it consumes me. Now. I have given you your answer; now give me what I need!”

“Lies, alien, lies and folklore. Nothing more.”

“Look at me, Gabriel! This is no addiction as you know it. Did your pretty little psyker-girl tell you anything before she died? Yes, I thought so. Do you see, now? Do you understand?”

The Inquisitor makes a warding gesture with his hand.

“You are... tainted by chaos...”

“Damned by our ancestors.”

“Then why do you emulate them? Why does your species not distance itself from those who condemned you all?”

“That is what the exodites do, what the craftworlders do. Fools. It will not save them. In the end, She Who Thirsts will claim us all. So why should we deny our nature, our birthright? Why not live all we can and for as long as we can? And perhaps there is salvation, through immortality, for the strongest of us. A few of the oldest amongst us, the lords of ladies of our realm, can remember the Fall. It happened so many thousands of years ago, and yet not only have they survived this long, they have thrived. That is what we all strive for, why we push and vie for power.”

For the first time, the Inquisitor finds he has no words to say.

“Now, Gabriel... I have something to ask you...”

“They’ll be sent the moment I leave.”

“No, not that... Though... I thank you. My question is simply; why?”

“Why what? Why am I keeping you here? For knowledge, as you well know.”

“No. Not that.”

“Then what, alien? Why did I starve you of your murder, of your... souls? To reassert my dominance over you, as you said. Successfully, it would seem. You knew that from the first moment. It seems you understand me as well as I do you.”

“You do not understand me, mon-keigh!” Melekh growls, as Lemarche knew he would, but he sees in those violet eyes that the alien does understand, and that Melekh, too, is repulsed by the thought of it.

Lemarche knows that revulsion is only one more bond they share.

***

[Excerpt from the log of Inquisitor Gabriel Lemarche]

It seems I have finally discovered the truth of Melekh’s addiction, and it sickens me to my very core. These eldar feed upon our very souls, to prolong their twisted lives so they might torture, murder and rape for centuries to come. Nothing could be more repugnant, and though this weakness could perhaps be exploited as was my intention, I find my thoughts run only to the total eradication of their species.

I had always hoped to share my findings with my colleagues within the Ordo Xenos and the wider Inquisition, but it is only now, when I hold the truth in all its profanity, that I question what I have done. I have kept an alien alive, even prolonged its life, spoken with it and given it human beings to murder, human souls to consume. Condemned men, perhaps, who deserved to die, but men nonetheless. Can there be any heresy greater than this?

Yes. Though I find to difficult to voice this.... blasphemy, it must be done.

In spite of every scripture, every holy edict, even the very motto of my order, I have formed a connection with this monster.

No longer. I must end this sacrilege.

Melekh dies.
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