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Gloriana Class Battleship Ultus-Solis
High Orbit Anchor Over 20-63. Locally known as Praxia

The request had arrived quietly, a single serf dressed in the heraldry of the XVII catching Isabis Khafre in transition between her chambers and some unknown destination. With a simple bow he had offered her a piece of paper, marked by the wax seal of the station of the Seventeenth Primarch. He had waited until the adoptive sister of a Pimarch had finished reading its contents, a simple invitation to attend to the Emerald Priestess with all haste, though the obvious fact that it was a command more than an invitation didn’t need to be stated in words.

The serf had waited quietly as the famed Remembrancer had read the contents of the letter, and with a single hand had ushered her away down the corridor. Without a word, Isabis was led through her own Legion’s flagship, through pathways and chambers so ill-traveled that the two were likely the first mortal souls to use them in untold years. After some ten minutes of walking the Serf brought Isabis into an auxiliary loading bay, one of hundreds in a ship like that of the Ultus Solis. At the far end of the bay with engines idle sat a Serpent Stormbird with its maw open for loading.

Without hesitation, the Serpent’s Serf had led Isabis inside of the darkened troop bay, the first sign that anything was slightly wrong being the presence of two silent Astartes harnessed in at the far end.

With a quick hop from ship to ship, the Stormbird landed in a similarly nondescript hangar in the Serpent’s own flagship, Solstice’s End. Quietly Isabis had been led from the ship by the Serf once more, though this time he relinquished his place as guide when the two Astartes exited the craft and took up positions at either side of the mortal.

The two Astartes quite out of character for the daughters of Nelchitl remained quiet as they walked. Leading her on through the ship through a similarly strange number of vacant passageways and chambers before they exited through a pair of extravagant doors depicting the arrival of the Emperor on Ixhun and into a room equally as impressive. Frescos of the Emperor and Nelchitl in the heat of some obscure battle lined the ceiling, with extravagantly carved pillars of the Legion and its attachments honor rolls tallying endless names of the lost heroes of the Imperium and the 685th Expeditionary Fleet in immaculately small script held the ceiling aloft. In the center of the room, a table lay fully supplied with delicious meats and fruits of unknowable succor, as well as two wine glasses one clearly made for a human, and the other for a far larger individual.

“Wait here.” the two commanded as they exited back through the doors, leaving Isabis to her own devices in the finely furnished room.

Nearly an hour passed before a door, so finely cut into the ornamented wall as to be nearly indistinguishable from it, opened into the room. The Primarch of the XVII entering in her armor before it closed flushed behind her.

“Isabis, sister of my sister.” she greeted her with a smile, “I pray the travel was not too distressing.” she continued as she took up the glass of wine and took a drink. Thinking as she swirled the red liquid within, she looked over the sight of Isabis with a hint of pity for the woman, “Tell me Isabis, why do you think you are here?” she asked, the test in her words clear as she adjusted the weapons at her hip and took a seat in a chair obviously custom-built for her armored form.

There were few mortal individuals who had more experience than Isabis with the presence of the gene-scions of the Emperor, but even to her, their arrival was marked with the quickening of her pulse and the need to forcibly steady her nerves. She paused as she wrung her hands together, her breathing quivering as she beheld Nelchitl in full. Of all of Sekhmetara’s siblings she had met, few had the sense of physical danger that the Serpents’ primarch presented, and never had she encountered them in so private, so proximate, a setting. While she managed to hold herself steady in the presence of the demigod, she could not force herself to drink and eat, not yet. Thankfully, her mind did not betray her, nor her words, and after the brief pause she recovered enough to reply.

“Sire, I do have some idea.” She had long picked up on the Primarch’s favoured form of address and it slipped easily to her tongue. The memories came back to her of the ceremony on the summit. She perfected the art of slipping away from the Auxilia supposed to prevent remembrancers from wandering further than they were meant to many years before, assisted by the lack of desire to restrain a member of a primarch’s adopted family. She had beheld the sight in all its glory, marveled at the work of the divine Emperor’s child yet again, and the offerings they made in his name. Isabis knew her divine work, however, and even that which she found majestical could not be above being used for the betterment of humanity.

“You may fear that this knowledge might come to hurt your daughters, even yourself. If this were true, you would have my undying support in ending this threat in this moment.” Her breathing quivered even as she made the suggestion, while she meant the Primarch no harm, it was entirely another thing to vocalize the acceptance of one’s demise in the presence of the bloody handed presence of Nelchitl. “When I first beheld my sister, I knew she was not of mortal creation, only the divine could forge something akin to her. When I beheld the Emperor, beloved of all Mankind, I knew that I was right.” She breathed shakily, she had not confessed her thoughts so openly to a being of divinity in some time, the rush was as exhilarating as it was terrifying. “I know you see the same, I know you see it in your father, see it in my sister….And I, in turn, see it burn fiercely in you, Sire, as well...And never more than atop the mount of your victory.”

Nelchitl had allowed Isabis to speak, some part of her feeling compelled to listen, like a priest of old beside one’s deathbed she simply watched the mortal prattle on. She could practically hear the girl’s heartbeat thudding against her chest, taste the fear on her lips, though she relished the sensation there was no part of her that looked forward to what had to be done to her own sister’s kin.

As Isabis finished Nelchitl allowed herself to laugh. A mirthless thing, it slid from her lips as she reclined further into her throne. “The only one here with anything to fear is you, dear Isabis.” she said as placed the cup of wine down at her side, “My daughters and I will be fine. We shall endure, but you,” a section of the armor at her thigh hissed as some unseen mechanism worked, a small piece of the armor lifting away from itself as the handle of a blade made itself visible, “your fate remains uncertain,” she said as she lifted the dagger out of its place in her armor. With a flick of her wrist, the dagger cut through the air lodging itself into the table squarely in front of the Mithran.

“You mean to offer your life for my forgiveness? You mean to sacrifice yourself for me, in His name?” she stated as she remained in her seat, a look of disgust painting her face as an insidious smile graced her lips.

“No, I mean to say that were I any other, who does not understand what they saw, that I would advise in ending me.” It took a force of great will not to flinch at the sudden impact of the dagger, but next to the arrival of a Primach, the threat of physical violence was no great shock at all, instead she simply patted down the front of her gown, then looked into Nelchitl’s eyes once more.

“You are mistaken, though. You cannot kill me. You know that you cannot. Not that it is beyond your authority to do so, I am a mortal, you the child of his divine majesty. But that will not end Lady Sekhmetara’s grief, will not end her rage, and if you conceal it from her, she will know all the same. Her eyes are upon us.” Isabis unknowingly spoke the words which would one day carry from countless more lips as she steeled herself in the face of so brazenly speaking to a Primarch, a violent Primarch. Even as she thought it, she corrected herself. They were all violent, demigods forged for war in the greatest war there had ever been. “But we do not have to decide fates….I think this is an opportunity for comparison. I have spent the years studying the cultures of humanity and the works of our great Emperor….I think there are details, similarities, forged across the stars between worlds that have never met. I am forging the map that will show the way to the Emperor’s divinity….I would share it with you.”

Nelchitl’s head cocked slightly to the side as she stared into the mortal’s eyes, a small sense of respect budding for the woman as she managed to maintain a sense of composure even as she faced down a Primarch. Though of course she could, Nelchitl was more than aware that having been by Sekhmetara’s side for many years Isabis had certainly come to better understand the effects of being in a Primarchs presence. “You speak as though you understand Isabis....” she stood with blinding speed, the table that had once been between them twirling across the room as it was lifted in a flash before smashing to pieces against the far wall.

The Emerald Priestess leaned in close around the mortal, her arms on either side of Isabis trapping her in place as her overly sized head came to rest just inches from the mortals. The Emerald Priestess’ brown eyes a storm of anger and confusion as she spoke in a low growl, “What do you know of the Divine? You dare to imply that my Legion, that I disregard the writ of my own Father?”

Isabis closed her eyes at the sudden surge of motion, the only way she could stand her ground against the onrushing demigod was to deny at least one of her senses the ability to perceive them. It was enough, while she could not keep her breathing steady nor hide the quickening of her breathing even further, she avoided the natural urge to cower, instead eventually opening her eyes to match Nelchitl’s glare. In those eyes she only saw further confirmation of what she knew to be true. The broiling wrath of the divine forced into physical form. Even with her sense of utter danger, it still brought a single tear to her eye, awed by the beauty of a God’s creation.

“He thinks we are not ready. He was there for the Long Night, when humanity turned upon itself and erected countless false idols, false faiths, to cling to. He has seen the harm we have done to each other in the name of damned churches and heresies. That is why he must deny what he is, until we are ready to behold the truth.” She had not meant to set forth her dogma so readily, but once honesty had worked its way to her tongue she could not hold it back. Here, finally, was one of the Emperor’s children who she knew she could get to understand, who, in her own way, already understood. “This is why such things must remain hidden, why I am no threat that needs cutting away. I am a sister in belief, as much as I am a sister in bond to Sekhmetara and sister in blood to Kvasi. You know this too, and when the time is right, we will all bask in the new dawn of his light.”

Nelchitl felt disgust rising in her stomach as Isabis cowered before her, to close her eyes while she was being spoken to by one of the Emperor’s children was practically an insult to Him. Though what feelings she gathered at this affront were quietly dispelled as the Mithran once more spoke of her belief. The strange similarity to the Emerald Priestess’ own feelings on the matter not lost on the Primarch as she lifted herself away from the mortal, her features softening considerably as she backed away.

“It seems I was correct in bringing you here Isabis, though for a different reason than I had originally intended,” she admitted as she sat back down across from the woman. A smirk grew on her lips as she seemed to study the Mithran, genuine interest flashing across her face as she reran the words of Isabis in her mind.

“He is magnificent, is He not?” she asked quietly, almost a whisper as if avoiding the ears of some unseen enemy as her eyes turned to regard the fresco above them, “And though it pains me to have to keep such things from the wider breadth of humanity, it is His will that they remain ignorant.” she relinquished wistfully as the memory of her own censure came back to her.

"You are all magnificent. Each of his sons and daughters, a glimpse of the divinity that is him." Isabis breathed, her words barely less of a whisper than the Primach's, now holding her gaze in a combination of determination and awe. "We cannot fully comprehend the reasons for all that he does, for who can know the mind of a god? But still, his acts remain, but those of us who know the truth can still provide the worship that must one day spread across the stars. When we are all ready." The mortal woman's words lost any of the nervous shake as she moved fully into the flow of her faith, the charismatic force of her tone and personality returning to the celebrated remembrancer. She paused as she finished speaking, no longer due to a need to collect her thoughts, but instead heralding the change of her subject.

"I believe I know why he must hide as he does, behind reason and science. In all my efforts to find the Light of His Divinity, I have found….others. Beings who slumber in the great darkness and are made strong by heresy and suffering. He must protect us from them, and in doing so has sacrificed his own rightful place, to be recognised as divine." Memories flooded back to Isabis, of her time as a youth among the Silver Court of the Empire of the Scale, her education as a noble-priestess of the Serpent God. As fresh as the day it had happened, she remembered the presence in her mind, a constant reminder she was right. The memory sent a shudder through her, before she remained in the present once more.

"To be victorious, he will need his champions, his demigods, his children, most of all."

Bringing her eyes down from the fresco of the Emperor above them, Nelchitl lamented that even though it was of unquestioned beauty it held nothing to the form of her Father in the flesh. She listened quietly as Isabis spoke, of some other power lurking parallel to the Emperor Himself. Her interest piqued she leaned forward, the glint in her eyes one of curiosity rather than violence.

“There can be no others. Whatever these things are, some perfidious Xenos race so powerful as to be beyond understanding if I had to guess, they shall be purged as all before them. None can stand in the way of His plans, and that you say such beings exist is…” she shook her head slightly and laughed, “heresy to claim a false idol. Though can it really be heresy if we hold no sanctioned views in the first place?”

"I know not what they are, but traces of them are found across the galaxy, fostered among humanity throughout the Long Night. As much as humanity is not ready to know the truth of the Emperor’s being, the truth of them is hidden from us as well." Isabis spoke with earnest belief, mixed with a tone of desperate warning. She knew what she had felt long ago and had encountered countless examples of others feeling the same since. She knew not why the Emperor hid such from them. It was surely for good reason, but then it must also be his will for her to privately warn those she could.

There was another long pause in her words, before with another steadying breath, she removed a dataslate from her robes, holding it over to the Primarch. "I have been...trying to compose my thoughts, my findings, on the Emperor’s divinity. I have not shared this with any other. I would be honoured if you might read it, and see how our thoughts compare."

“I doubt these beings are anything to worry about Isabis,” she countered softly, “were they truly such a great threat, He would have told his children by now. How else could we face something as powerful as He?” she outwardly dismissed Isabis’ warning, though internally Nelchitl was rife with confusion as warring parts of her own mind went at each other over what was being said.

With a nod Nelchitl reached out and took the data slate from the mortal, her eyes skimming it’s contents even as she spoke once more, “I will look through it, offer corrections or my own views if it would suit you. Though I dare not say that I helped in penning it’s contents if you want my help. I cannot tempt the ire of Malcador again in this regard.” she finished bitterly as she continued scrolling through the words. Though she did not say it, she could see why Isabis was so lauded a Remembrancer as she read through what she had already written. Vast paragraphs of the Emperor’s wisdom were arrayed in such ways as to seem scripture. She smiled and kept reading, almost lamenting the speed at which she devoured the mortals' work.

The mountain of cushions and blankets which Sekhmetara fell backward onto amounted to a welcome reprieve to the trials of the day. Much as she was hardly one to shy away from the spotlight, often the politics and grandeur of her role as one of the scions of the Emperor could be more taxing than the fires of war for which her gene-enhanced form was built for. Politics may have been in her soul but was burned within her blood. The teal of the two-piece silk shuka drifting about her in the artificial breeze of her private chambers. In a display which would surely be disrespectful from any other, the colouration of her private wear was a slight nod to her favoured sister’s title as the Emerald Priestess. She wasn’t quite aware if her double primarch visitors ‘had’ a change of clothes for private matters, but she had set aside the time and space for them to do so regardless. Failing that, perhaps one of few individuals in the galaxy who could even loosely claim to have ‘something in their size’ was the host and so something could be salvaged.

“Enkosi, Enkosi, hamba.” Sekhmetara waved off the attendants which immediately flocked to the edge of her divan, leaving behind the decanters of Mithran wine laced with the Fenrisian herb introduced to her by the Emperor to enable even Primarchs to experience the benefits of wine. Mithran cuisine, known for both sweetness and fire, presented itself in the form of various side plates. Her people were well known for feasting, albeit with many smaller plates as opposed to the set courses common in other human cultures from across the Imperium. As her sisters arrived, Sekmetara sucked the full flesh of a Mithran date from the pip around it, motioning with her golden glass of wine from her reclined place to the two. “Sit, drink, eat, we are utterly alone, for once.”

Though the ornamentation within the Ultus-Solis was nothing new to Nelchitl, she always found herself strangely at odds with the design choices of her sister. To use such a mighty machine of war as a Gloriana for hosting the delegations of long-lost branches of humanity made sense. To awe the rediscovered worlds with the wonder and immense power of the Imperium’s manufacturing and the ability for war could set the tone before the first delegates had even landed in its vast hangar bays. But the interior had always been of such lavish decoration and opulent finish that it had always appeared as more of a luxury pleasure barge suited to the likes of nobility. Though, Nelchitl couldn’t lie to herself and say that the ship's extravagance was uncalled for, only that she disagreed with it.

She took another goblet of wine from a waiting attendant and waved him off with a hand. The server sliding quietly away as Nelchitl changed into one of the many outfits that had been laid out for her by Sekhmetara. She chafed at the sight of herself in the overly large mirror adorning one wall of the room, the blood red dress that she had chosen looking and feeling out of place on her as she longed to be back in her armor. With a single gulp of her goblet she was done with the wine and moving to meet her sisters.

Entering the chamber Nelchitl made a quick path to the assorted food and drink that had been laid out for them, and with little more than a smile to Sekhmetara finished another glass of wine before picking up a plate of assorted meats.

“Count yourself blessed, as I only wear such things for your amusement, nothing else Sister.” she said as she too fell into the myriad cushions and pillows of the room, “If any of your favorite little Remembrancers take a picture of me in this… Well.” she didn’t finish the thought as she took another long drink from her glass, “This does not suit a Scion of the Emperor.” she finished sorely as she attempted to shift to a more comfortable position in the dress.

Daena fiddled awkwardly with the clasp of her outfit as she prepared herself to greet her sisters, the woman slowly but surely lowering the mental walls she had erected around her true self. Far from finding her surroundings distasteful, she embraced the ostentatious decor as an anchor for her roiling mind. In truth, she had prior expectations to fall back upon for a private retreat with her only peers - perhaps the only individuals in the galaxy she both wanted to and could be herself with. But the charming diplomat gliding among the retreats of the powerful? That was close enough of a role to at least get her through the door. As far as after that, well, she’d play it by ear.

Steadying herself in the way that humans do, a category that she ruefully considered she still technically counted as, the Primarch finally placed the clasp of her voidblack gown in place. The dress was rarely worn, typically only on those happy occasions when newly rediscovered worlds voluntarily joined the Imperium. Its clasp was of pure silver, fashioned in the shape of the Imperial Eagle with her father’s lightning bolt clasped in one talon and a garland of laurels in the other. A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth as she remembered her father’s tailor taking the commission as a personal challenge, designing the outfit from scratch to accommodate her wings.

Drawing one last breath to steady herself, she entered her sister’s lounge, ignoring the few servants that she had to pass in order to reach it from the dressing room. Gliding into the room, Daena let her smile grow - a far warmer and calmer expression than the one she wore earlier in the day. “I think it fits you splendidly, little sister,” the Angel teased, continuing towards Sekhmetara and joining her on the small mountain of pillows. “I hope I did not overdo my introduction?” she asked, irisless eyes gazing up at the Mithran woman, this time making no attempt to hide the undercurrent of anxiety that had clouded her thoughts since her display in the hangar.

“We have a saying on Mithra, a trap with no bait is no trap, but bait without a trap is just a gift.” Sekhmetara shifted slightly to lean upon her side, slightly raised up from her sister she smiled kindly to her. “Those that will not be won by honeyed words might still be won through fear, and if neither of those work, we can always throw Nelchitl at them.” She finished with a moment of levity, her eyes moving with mischief gleaming across them to regard her other sister, tilting her head just a little as she regarded her.

“You’d be surprised how dangerous a picture of a woman in a pretty dress can be, maybe I should sacrifice a remembrancer to enshrine this particular vision perpetually.” Her tone remained light with a teasing, if not unkind, tone. One hand moved languidly to her lips as she lifted the goblet of wine to her lips, savouring the taste and the previously unknown shifting of sensation that came with the touch of the altered alcohol. As swiftly as the Primach would notice a threat in battle, the taller of the primarch sister’s noticed her winged sibling’s lack of drink, and her other hand was quickly stretching to lift a spare from the low-table before her throne of cushioned padding. The wine was pressed to Daena’s hands with a laziness that belied a secret forcefulness. “It will help whatever storm brews behind those perfect eyes, dear sister.”

Nelchitl turned to regard Daena as she entered the room, the Scion of the Doomsayers a far better fit for a dress than she herself could ever be. She gave Daena a vexed look as she brought the cup of wine to her lips, “I am not little.” she huffed, her tone betraying the fact that the Emerald Priestess had taken the words of her sister quite literally, “But thank you.” she yielded to Daena’s compliment before turning her full attention to the honied words of her favored sister.

“I would prefer not to have to kill one of your cherished pictographers, but if you insist.” she smirked at Sekhmetara as she took another drink of wine. With a turn she faced her whole reclined body toward Daena, the silk of her dress shifting quietly around her as she did, “Drink, for these are blessed times Sister, and tell us what troubles you so. Perhaps, though I know I’m not the wisest among the Emperor’s children, we may be of some help to you.”

“I could always take the pict myself,” Daena teased, before looking down at the drink being pressed into her grip with a clear hesitance. To willingly have less control of herself than the already uncomfortable state she was in without psychic barriers was like being asked to strip naked when she was already unarmored. But, after looking into the eyes of her sisters, she relented.

A silence spreads between the three as she holds the wine in hand, Nelchitl’s unanswered statement the only thing on the Angel’s mind even as she stared into the cup. Her wings fluttered down close around her body as indecision wracked her mind, the massive woman eventually giving a sigh of defeat. “I saw your deaths,” she whispered, immediately drinking a heavy draw from the Fenrisian enhanced brew as if to drown the words she had spoken.

Nelchitl paused as she drank, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly as she lowered the wine from her lips. A tense moment of silence passed between the three before the Emerald Priestess abruptly rose from the cushions arrayed about her. Her dress flowed about her form, both beautiful and terrifying as she came to her full height, the light of the chamber catching the fine thread work of the gown and seeming to radiate a soft red glow about the Primarch. She brought a leg up onto the table before them, knocking over a small tray of delicacies and a pitcher of wine as she did. Raising her glass to the sky she smiled upon the troubled form of Daena, “Each of them more glorious than the next I’m sure Sister!” she beamed, “To give our lives in service of the Emperor and his vision…” she swayed where she stood, her eyes watering slightly as she looked down upon her sisters, her precious emeralds.

“Glory to the first to die!” she proclaimed haughtily as she pumped the wine glass further into the air, spilling wine over her fingers as she did.

The warmth of Sekhmetara’s eyes remained on Daena even as Nelchitl responded with the martial bravado which so defined the ‘youngest’ of the sisters in some amount of concern, but mostly with the dangerous curiosity of a huntress. Her sister’s words were as much an opportunity as they were a warning as she considered the consequences of such. Was her fellow primarch prophetic as part of the esoteric gifts of their bloodline, or was she simply mad? Perhaps both.

Finally as Nelchitl exclaimed her toast, the Mithran primarch turned her gaze to her treasured sister, a smile crossing her features as she rose from her languid recline amongst the cushions of her divan, lifting her own goblet of wine.

“Glory Unending, and the promise that we shall all meet again amidst the Light Eternal.” Since compliance the old Mithran term for the realm of enlightened souls, said to become the forge of the stars themselves, had developed to relate to the guiding hand of the Emperor in all things. Officially it was a secular term for the power of reason the Imperium represented. In more whispered tones, it spoke to the Mithran doubt that one such as the Emperor could be considered anything other than divine, with his treasured daughter but a step from the cusp of godhood. “Besides, only I can challenge Nelchitl for martial ability, and I have little reason to kill her, beyond wasting my wine and food.” Sekhmetara added in a teasing tone, drinking a further gulp of wine after their finished toast.

Daena forced herself to look up at Nelchitl as she spoke, but the smile did not reach her eyes. It was far from the pristine formalism of an emissary of state, the oracle quietly enduring the agony of being awkward. The wine, at least, helped.There had been no substance on Irkalla that could inebriate her semi-divine form, and a part of her could not help but enjoy the experience. But it was far from enough to overcome the unease of her visions, and of her ‘younger’ sister’s inadvertently recreating them.

With a defeated sigh she swiftly drained her glass before tossing it aside, the angelic woman slumping down on the mound of pillows. “I wish I could say all your deaths were glorious,” she began slowly, raising a hand towards the slowly spreading pool of wine Nelchitl had spilled. “I will do my best to explain.” The wine slowly began to lift off the ground, forming a thin strand, one of its ends splitting into many. Almost as an afterthought, Daena’s discarded glass floated up to join the display, the stem marking the barrier between the single strand and the many.

“What was is a simple enough of a question,” she said, lazily gesturing towards the single strand. “What will be is far less so,” she continued, inclining her head towards the many ragged strands. “Each of these possibilities could occur, but only one will,” she whispered, the wine glass sliding onwards, wine dropping to the floor once more as only one was chosen. “My own gift concerns endings, and of course not all fates are equal. A man conscripted into the Auxilia may one day be installed as a Governor and die at a great age in his palace. But it is far more likely that he will perish in battle. Most men have simple lives, simple fates, and simple deaths - some preventable, others not. But you, my sisters, do not. I cannot tell which of your fates will befall you, I cannot dismiss the ones which will not win you glory. And that frightens me,” she finally said, her detour into lecture and explanation finally ending with the frank admission, punctuated by the sound of the river of wine falling daintily into her hovering glass.

Nelchitl, still standing with a leg upon the table laughed, a hearty thing, full of amusement and bravado as Daena seemed to shrink within herself. She didn’t mean to offend her dear sister, but her words were simply too easy for the Primarch of the XVII to dismiss.

“And how many of my deaths have you prophesied thus far? Yet here I still stand before you both!” she tossed her goblet clear across the room as her sanguine rose within her and scooped the pitcher of wine from the table that was meant to refill the trios goblets. With a grin she drank amply from the pitcher, draining it’s contents in a few easy gulps. “Your prophecies are not set in stone sister, you yourself know this best!” she insisted as she wiped the wine from her lips, “Those deaths that lack glory I will simply defeat as they show themselves.” Nelchitl finished earnestly as she threw the empty pitcher to rest with the goblet from moments earlier.

She turned away from the pitcher as it clattered to the floor and looked upon her sisters, eyes glistening with pride, “I am no ordinary man…” she motioned to Daena and Sekhmetera after a moment of thought, “We aren’t even men.” she nodded thoughtfully, “We lead no ordinary lives, this we all know for truth. We are the chosen of the Emperor, Scions of the Master of Mankind!” she crossed her arms over her chest as she smiled down on Daena, hope and belief in their undertaking and in Him radiating from every ounce of her being, “He has entrusted us with his greatest undertaking! There can be no death lacking glory awaiting us! We shall shatter your visions and dance upon their shards! Of this I am certain,” she pressed her hands to her chest in the sign of the aquila, “The Emperor protects.”

Sekhmetara laughed in a manner full of infectious joy at her sister’s display, without a hint of a mocking tone, mirroring her salute moments after the empty pitcher clattered to the ground. “The Emperor protects, and he has no greater champion than Nelchitl of Ixhun.” Sekhmetara’s laugh ended with a bold and bright smile, her bare feet gliding across the soft rugs laid out across the chamber as she traced her way back to the private entrance to the trio’s chamber of escape from the wider galaxy, slipping only partially through the dividing curtain with a polite but brief request of “More wine,” to the awaiting servant, hovering so as to never overhear the Primarchs within, but at hand should they be required. The Mithran primarch did not wait to see her order fulfilled, instead pacing back into the room, the soft silk of her emerald garment flowing across her smooth skin.

“How do those wonderful feathers of yours handle being wet my dear sister?” Sekhmetara asked as she drew closer, even as the servants arrived with more flagons of wine, one immediately refilling Sekhmetara’s glass as it dangled from her right hand, while the rest was simply positioned back on the table before the mortal humans withdrew. She did not reveal the cause for her question, instead moving to refill her sister’s drinks themselves, quite pointedly handing Nelchitl another goblet as opposed to the whole pitcher of wine.

Color returned to Daena’s face at her sister’s bravado, the Oracle heartened by the belief that Nelchitl spoke true. Fate could be defied, that much she knew better than most, and none could face greater challenges than Nelchitl. She hoped. So strongly did she hope that without even recognizing Sekhmetara’s question she stood from the cushions and threw her arms around her ‘younger’ sister, reenacting their embrace in the hangar bay but without any of the pomp or formality.

A niggling part of her mind informed her that there was a question yet unanswered, the fact asserting control of her thoughts at the same instant she opened her mouth to speak to Nelchitl. Deciding that was as good an excuse as any to prevent her wine dulled mind from further embarrassing herself, she slowly shut it. Sheepishly, she turned her head towards her ‘elder’ sister, embarrassment soon replaced by confusion. “Well enough, I suppose. I retain the ability to fly even in the heaviest of storms, if that’s what you’re worried about,” she replied, completely oblivious as to Sekhmetara’s true objective.

Nelchitl smiled wide as Sekhmetara praised her. Being recognized as His greatest champion was intoxicating, exhilarating. Her hearts began to pump faster as the weight of the words processed through her superhuman mind and her breathing became shallow and clipped. Her mind swam with the possibilities of others thinking so highly of her. Of her daughters and nieces, brothers and sisters, of the common folk of the Imperium, but no one individual resounded as strongly in her mind as did the possibility that He thought so highly of her. “You spoil me sister, though I am inclined to agree of course.” she beamed, the smile spreading to her eyes as she spoke.

Before she could continue she found herself wrapped in the embrace of Daena, the sudden show of affection catching her mind slightly off guard as she pulled herself out of the reverie that Sekhmetara had caused her. She brought her arms up and wrapped them fully around her sister, the delicate threads of Daena’s dress a strange sensation when compared to the power armor Nelchitl was so used to interacting with her in. She brought herself to look at her older sister as she appeared about to speak, but found only a timid look of embarrassment in place of the ironclad surety that Daena so often wore on her perfect features.

Nelchit, still embracing her sister, turned to Sekhmetara with confusion on her face as the oddity of the question came to finally process through her mind, dulled as it was by the wine and overwhelming emotions from just earlier. “I hesitate to see how this has anything to do with me being the finest champion the Emperor has ever known.” she stated with a laugh before gently untangling herself from Daena’s embrace.

“Oh very little.” Sekhmetara admitted with a grin only slightly concealed by her raised goblet of wine, the hazel of her eyes flecked with gold as her mischief blazed through for a moment, the tallest of the female primarchs allowing her fingers to drift to her own hip as she paced closer to a panel on the wall, hidden among the various drapes and curtains decorating the chamber. There was a brief chime of affirmation as one outstretched finger from her wine hand pressed down.

The transformation of the room was not particularly rapid, but it was dramatic, the smooth stone of the flooring beginning to retract away, steam immediately rising in gouts from beneath as the central portion of the lounge retracted away to reveal the contents beneath. Scented water bubbled, but without the fierce nature to suggest truly harmful temperatures. As the stone slid away to near to Sekhmetara’s feet, on the very edge of the revealed pool, the slotting stone folded into the shape of stairs, leading down into the churning water. With a coy smile, Sekhmetara took the first step, allowing the water to swirl over her ankles, she increased her descent.

“Bring the wine.”

Nelchitl watched with confusion as the room transformed before them. She stood for a moment watching her sister as she entered the water, “I don’t think this dress is suited for such activities. My body glove is back in the dressing area, I’d prefer not to ruin this fine piece if it can be avoided.” she stated hesitantly as she stopped just shy of jumping into the pool. Gazing into the churning waters, the want to simply enter the waters nearly threatened to overpower her consideration for the dress she had been loaned by her sister.

“I must say sister, this is perhaps the politest way anyone has ever told me my tendency to lecture is boring,” Daena replied dryly, looking down into the pool with a wistful expression that soon morphed into a smile. “Praise to you, O mighty Sekhmetara, befuddler of prophets and blinder of oracles, defier of fate,” she said in teasing praise, raising her glass towards her sister. “None of my seers forewarned me of this.”
Before Impact

"W...what was that?"

It was a fundamentally useless question and despite the increasingly serious situation, Alessaria still found herself able to grow annoyed at the whining voice which asked it. The young noble woman turned to begin explaining in perhaps impolite terms how clearly no one present would be able to answer such before a far more powerful shudder ripped through their surroundings. Expensive fittings, sculptures and other such luxuries were scattered across the ground as the floor itself seemed to turn, a servant letting out a cry of pain as the sharpened end of a decorative blade impaled them tumbling from the wall. The nobles themselves fared little better, tumbling and crying out as they lost their footing.

Alessaria slipped herself, but she prevented herself from rolling further by swiftly grabbing the leg of a heavy tabled, the shuddering motion of the vessel passing through her, an involuntary moan of pain passing her lips, before the stupid girl asking the questions collided with her.

"Get. Off....Me." She allowed all her frustration out as she shoved the young woman away from her despite the shocked protest of her fellow noble, but Alessaria was already moving, climbing to her feet and patting herself down before starting to stride towards the exit. She still had no idea of what exactly was going on, but she'd already decided that one of the noble lounges was a decidedly poor choice to wait this particular crisis out. As she did so, Trennek, the member of her household guards assigned to her personal protection, moved in step to fall in behind her.

"Alessaria, where are you-" One of the other gaggle of women attempted to approach and speak to her, but Trennek quickly stepped between them, preventing the lesser noble from delaying his mistress any further motion. The lady herself didn't bother to respond, instead passing through the ornate entrance to the lounge even as another rumble rocked the vessel.

"I do believe something is quite wrong, Trennek, and much as I am loathe to admit, I do not think this is the sort of wrong which father's name will be able to fix." She spoke with an exasperated tone as she clutched to the guard to steady herself.

"Quite so, my lady."

"So....what do we do?"

"I believe you will be safest in your private chambers, my lady, I would recommend locking the door."

"Very well, let us be about it."

Matters, despite their already somewhat dismal state, did not improve. It did not take long for Alessaria to make it back to her private quarters with Trennek’s aid, the noblewoman locking the chamber as suggested as the ship continued to shudder and churn.

“My Lady, it would be best if you take shelter within sturdy confines...such as this.” The bodyguard motioned to one of the heavy set chests adorning the room, an action that earned him an aghast stare from the young woman in question.

“In….the box, are you mad?”

“I’m sorry my lady, I wouldn’t suggest such a thing if this weren’t a dire situation, I do not believe the safety of this room can be guaranteed.

It still took Alessaria a moment to recover from the insinuation, but another fierce tremor rolling through the ship made her mind up for her, and she nodded hastily. “As you say.” Trennak was already opening the ornate chest, removing some of the contents in the process, mostly some of the more personal clothing of Alessaria’s expansive collection. Even so, it was a tight squeeze and not exactly a situation the noble woman was used to, wiggling her way inside so that the lid may be shut.

“Stay put, my lady, the Emperor protects.” Trennak spoke with a ghost of a smile, which earned him a tremoring nod from Alessaria, before her world was plunged even further into darkness by the closing of the chest.


Amongst the ruin of what had once been a noble imperial vessel, the chest rocked back and forth for some time, before finally tipping over. Alessaria sprawled outwards as she was finally able to take full breaths of air, choking immediately as she instead tasted smoke and ash, the ruins of the vessel, mostly her personal state room, all around her. She choked back a cry of fear as her eyes fell on the partial remains of her bodyguard, scrabbling over to the corpse. A full third of his upper body was simply missing, bisected by some amount of debris in the impact no doubt. With a whimper, the noblewoman fumbled with his belt to remove the ornate las pistol at his waist, her hands tremoring as she held it herself for the first time.

”Hello!?” She called out in as loud and even a voice as she could manage, which was fairly successful in the former, but certainly not in the latter.

Of the five staterooms on the 1st Deck Henry was given the fourth down from the door to the weatherdeck and the stairs. Desks and accents and doors were a dark stained cherry wood, fixtures and switches all the same simple copper finish. The carpet was light and sandy and short fibered yet plush all the same, bathrooms were attached though they were little more than toilet and shower closets with an awkward sink.

Eva was the fifth stateroom from the stairs, the last one, though the stateroom was otherwise no different than the others--save for a slightly larger bathroom for Nicole to shower the funk of the LA Port off and slip into fresh clothes. She never caught Henry emerge, she watched the second helicopter of the evening briefly land. Two women emerged, to her eye’s obvious Kindred just from the surreal ease in which they all but slipped and shrugged out of the helicopter, never once worrying about the blades...a real concern at sea despite the calm state of the waters just outside the Port of Los Angeles waterways. The buoys marking the western edge of the maritime corridor were no more than fifty feet away.

Where Eva sat it was all right in front of her, minus Tina, the bartender tending the yacht’s bar on the 1st Level--the area of the boat arrived at from taking the stairs up, instead of down for the staterooms of the 1st Deck. The 1st Level interior was entirely the bar, and a large lounge with various screens and parallel white sectional sofas, the walls lined with shelves filled with a hodgepodge of books read and shared by small crew and coterie, blue-rays and DVDs, and scripts.

The Captain was no fan of the ship being so close to the wake of larger vessels. They had simply been waiting. As Yanci and Rachel walked around the 1st Level of the exterior to the back of the boat, through the door to the lower level and deck, up the stairs, through the lounge, and into the bar surrounded on most sides by rounded glass. Los Angeles glared in the distance, smoldering with the orange and red glow of fire. Southern California residents knew that particular sky far too well. Tina walked out just before the two arrived.

“Are we sure?”, was how it started. The words were spoken sharply by Yanci, dark eyed and dark featured, her hair in long waves and overflowing her shoulders by a few inches, wearing acid wash jeans near baggy legged and a dark blue wool sweater that stopped at her midriff.

Rachel wore a Prada charcoal pants suit, the pants fitted and finished with a gold plated hollow centered buckle,the blouse black silk and hanging off her shoulders just far enough to hint at curves underneath instead of outright show them; her straight cut bob a dirty blonde and undyed.

The style differences only hinted at deeper differences. And made Eva feel oddly appropriate after a change to black tights with a fine black mesh along the sides shaped like smoke rising up to the thinnest smoke tendril at her knee and a simple white sleeveless shirt simple white Reebok classics on the feet that were resting on the bar. Eva didn’t turn until she shrugged. “As sure as I can be.”

“We’ll be ready if it goes badly,” the tone bordered on cocky as Dre just breezed past the two ladies for a seat at one of the cherrywood tables with matching chairs just off the bar and next to the glass. His clothes were as simple as dark loose jeans, brown boots, and a black teeshirt.

“Which it could. Very badly.” Rachel didn’t look up from the phone, but even she had to admit it.

Mateo was the dandy; purple velvet vest, black dress shirt unbuttoned a few buttons down from the top, dress slacks, calf high boots of polished leather and gold buckles. “We know who they are. We know they don’t know much about Eva.” The exchange of glances between Maty behind the bar and Dre and Yanci, in particular, was fun for Eva. Even if it just kinda meant Maty squirmed for a moment.

Eva had to rescue him. “It could all go very badly. Big gambles are big gambles for a reason. If it works out...we have a chance. If it doesn’t...I don’t see a path.”

“And they may know enough to actually make life suck for a bit,” Matty shrugged, thinking it over, the shrug making his waist length black hair dance for just a second.

“Tell me this isn’t just the next thing, Eve,” Yanci’s gaze wasn’t kind, it wasn’t cold, it was just anxious and darting and scared. “I get the chosen bit, it’s one of our favorite cliches. Those scripts on those shelves are filled with them. We both know how that normally turns out. So what if this goes beyond the pale?”

Eva smiled, if only because what else was left to her? “No clue, Yance. I don’t see a path without their help. So many of them will die if we don’t try. I can’t not try. If you can’t…” Eva’s hands went instantly up near her shoulders, palms out, innocence proclaimed by gesture. “Not to say you’d ever bail. But--”

“--yeah, I get it. I just don’t think it’s good enough. Dre is always superman, until he’s not and he breaks and our security forces break. It’s happened. We survived on luck during the King riots. LUCK. WE WILL NOT GET THAT LUCKY AGAIN. Rachel is afraid we’re the only thing she’ll ever have left in a life she gets to pick, and Matty believes in you. Like I believe in you. But right now I can’t tell if this is really the crazy gambit we want to make or if you’re just being Eva, the first of the Hollywood divas.”

The cocktail table Dre sat at almost did not survive the thunderclap slam his palm struck upon it’s surface as his temper snapped. “WE SURVIVED. Sometimes that’s a matter of luck. That’s the way it works, girl. I’m sorry, but this ain’t helping shit. You been pissed off for months. Life’s never going back to the way it was. That’s not always such a bad thing.”

“The end of the world doesn’t sound fun,” Matty’s voice was a gentle and measured thing after silence hung in the air for long moments, tipping off the curious and problem solving mind behind it, “You’re right, Yanci. I believe she’s right. I believe she’s picked, and why she was is a question we need to ask and answer. I get why she hides from the greater Kindred society. I know what it feels like to not belong to it. Whatever we can salvage...for us, for them...certainly I’m the newest of us yet I cannot help but feel confident in saying this is who and what this coterie is. Just trying is what we would do. Help. Keep ours as safe and normal as possible in the process. We’ve worked for a while to outfox the Inquisition digitally. I’m confident in our work.”

“There’s no stopping them. I have to try to manage it and take care of them.”

Rachel’s pained amusement made Yanci shake her head, and sit down at the other cocktail table. “Okay.”

For now, Eva thought, it would have to be enough. Henry and Nicole were stirring. “We’ll see what Henry has to say.”

“And Nicole?”

Every pair of eyes in the bar went to Eva. If she could have blushed…”I guess so.”

One habit Grace had acquired was a tendency to judge people by where they liked to discuss business. The fact she was willing to meet with someone who chose the lounge of a yacht showed how far things had diverged from normal circumstances. Julie and the helicopter had returned home, Grace had gotten to the yacht by other means. A quick cost-benefit analysis was what guided that decision, the stakes demanded that someone go to the meeting, but the risks involved meant that exposure should be minimized. Julie’s inexperience wouldn’t add enough value to justify the added risk. Even Grace, with her many layers of precautions, felt uneasy standing in the doorway of the lounge. She wore one of the outfits she always did, selected to be as generic and unmemorable as possible, unbranded and composed entirely of shades of black and grey.

As she scanned the room the roster of Eva’s friends looked different from how Grace remembered them from their first meeting, back a sunset, but the intelligence files she had offered no explanation. The one with the most detailed file was Rachel, but it was almost entirely about her mortal life, from the days when she had been seen as a potential recruit to the cause. Old information, but not without value. It would be easier talking to her than trying to understand the network of social interactions unfolded before her; Eva was the center of everything but to understand all of centuries worth of accumulated details and norms was not practical. Grace only had time for what could be measured, not ill-defined social ties. When there was a pause, she walked near Rachel and said:

“Miss Fields, it is nice to see you again. It’s a shame that our interests don’t allow us to work together more often, if certain events had been different we may have been part of the same organization, in the same cohort even. If we had met twenty years ago I’m sure we’d be discussing Harvard’s infamous Math 55 course and comparing our scores on the Putnam Exam, but I do not know if you are the same person those old files depict. I have other concerns these days, and I believe you do also.”

Rachel could internally debate the likelihood of a 'chosen one', but she had maxed out her allotment of eye rolling for the day already--and if Mateo was to be believed being 'chosen' was unlikely to end well; just look at Caine, the logic went. So when the human magic user walked over and began speaking, Rachel actually smiled at the distraction.

Distraction was welcome, interest piqued was quite another thing when Grace brought up old files. "Old files on me? How flattering." Unlike Eva and Yanci, Rachel's tone was nearly void of the emotions the two Toreadors rode upon the unlife with.

But the line of 'I do not know if you are the same person those old files depict'...actually made the Ventrue laugh. A full, hard, if short lived, bark of laughter before quickly returning to her former composure. "Wow. Um...yeah, I'm mostly the same. Except for not being alive, I suppose, and a taste for blood."

"And fangs," Dre chimed into the chat he wasn't part of, but was overhearing all the same, as he stared a hole into the table at which he was seated.

"Ah, right, and fangs. I'm not that old. Eva tells me about the Anasazi people of early North America, Yanci recalls California before it was ever part of the US. Andre is a former slave and soldier of the Civil War. I'm a child relative to that, and too young to have begun to lose who I am to the 'monster' yet. The older you live as one of us, the further away from the human you were you find yourself. There are very rare exceptions; such as Eva. But me? I'm still me. Just less naive."

Grace was happy that the conversation was smoother than she thought it would be. Although they were close to the same age, neither spent much time with the typical concerns of someone approaching middle age in terms of human years. Grace continued with the formal pattern, if things got slow she could always fall back on the few jokes about Harvard and Stanford she knew.
“After this, if things are more relaxed and any of your friends wish to use some their experiences to correct errors with current historical studies regarding those time periods, they are welcome to contact me. I can nudge the scholarly consensus in the correct direction.”
“As for changes, I’m always wary about how reliable anyone can be when analyzing themselves. Memory is troublesome, it’s not as though people can store them in a Merkle tree so they can guarantee their integrity.” Silently, Grace corrected herself. Most people can’t. “Anyway, if you still have your taste for philosophy, this all reminds me of a famous hypothetical.
Are you familiar with Donald Davidson’s Swampman thought experiment? If you take a human and create an exact replica down to the last particle of matter, is it the same person as the original? If the copy remains and the original dies, is that person still alive? And would that copy, holding all of the memories and personality of the original but having experienced none of their actual life, even know anything was amiss? It’s an interesting idea that crops up in all sorts of places, including the works of a particularly irritating British comic book author and self-styled anarchist wizard who has so far managed to avoid our attempts to eliminate him. I’ve yet to see if any of that makes it into the TV adaptation of Swamp Thing.“

"Ask Yanci. At the moment she's managing Hollywood. I do know she's no fan of Mr. Moore; you can't be in this coterie and avoid comic books. For example if you think Kevin Feige is a mere mortal and not a conduit of greater artistic expressions and media minds...well."

Rachel shrugged, preferring to say no more on that subject lest she violate the privacy of Hollywood's creative circles. Especially the more hidden circles.

"I remember first getting exposed to the idea in Star Trek. Now Eva and Yanci have it popping up in modern classics like Rick & Morty." The word 'classics' had a certain exaggeration when spoken; though Rachel was cautious not to go further.

Yanci was quite fond of the adult oriented cartoon.

"As for after this...I don't know. That was the heated discussion we just let go: how suicidal is this? What if the Inquisition knows more about us than we think? What if they care more about studying Eva than helping her save the world? She wants to walk right into an Inquisition higher-up meeting. Lay the situation out to them. Not unlike what she did with you. I think we're waiting on Henry and Nicole to chime in."

"And her."

The addition came out of Eva’s mouth, even as her attention appeared as if it stayed on her quiet chat with Mateo at the bar the whole time. "Yes, obviously, yourself included."

The quiet lapping of waves and the gentle roll of the boat from time to time the only other sounds besides the low dull hum of the yacht’s engines.

Scientific literature was the only media Grace consumed for fun. Not that she’d had much fun lately. The best ones were too classified to share anyway. Grace avoided looking at Nicole, not quite apologizing about the ejection ; that was just a way to make sure that the helicopter and her subordinate were secure while allowing their passenger to get to her destination. She said
“Your chance of success rests on how persuasive you can be. I have reason to believe you are quite effective at that, even if I don’t know the specifics of your methods.” Grace’s belief in that was why she always took such precautions when meeting with vampires. Finding out how powerful they could had only increased this drive to be prepared.
She continued.

“Aside from that, you can try and plan, hedge your efforts to lessen the impact of a failure, but never assume you have a deeper bag of tricks than your adversary. That kind of hubris kills operations. So, what exactly do you want from the Inquisition? Just for them to stay out of your way, or do you see a role for them? I might be able to help but I admit I don’t spend much time thinking about them, they’re kind of like our mentally unstable cousin.”

Barely making her way through the doorway leading into the lounge, Nicole simply stared across the room, surveying the posh area and the collection of members, mostly part of Eva’s group. Her Coterie, as it were. The word didn’t resonate much with the Gangrel, as most of the terminology and lifestyle verbiage of Kindred society was still so very new to her, that the meaning was only surface if anything. She remembered Eva mentioning “Family” more than once, when referring to her coterie, so the significance was certainly greater to the Elder Toreador. Nicole’s family -her mortal family- were still back in Fresno, hopefully as secure as could be, with the only knowledge of their daughter as being dead. Perhaps that was the way it had to be.

Arms crossed and leaning against the glass walls near the entrance, the Gangrel hadn’t moved from the spot in the last few minutes, unsure of where to position herself in a room of people she mostly didn’t know. Her arrival was...fairly unorthodox to say the least, and Eva insisted the girl take a shower and change first before joining them in the lounge and being subjected to all kinds of questioning by her coterie. Or so Nicole assumed would happen. She was the new blood after all, and could feel the eyes. Even though most were engaged in their own conversations at the moment, a sense of scrutiny could be felt as though the woman had been standing near the doorway completely naked with all of her secrets out on the table. She hated the feeling. Being there was quite uncomfortable for many reasons.
Speaking of…

She saw Grace across the room and screwed her lips up a bit, staring only daggers at the Agent in black for a moment, as an otherwise subdued anger was felt rising from the pit of her stomach. She felt betrayed by the woman. Neglected almost. Tossed out of the chopper’s belly like a piece of meat. But, Nicole also should have expected such a dick move. They were not friends. At least not currently. Probably never.

As if by some saving grace, however, a still small voice in the back of her head essentially nudged her enough to simply “drop the matter”. It was that same stern, yet tender voice she’d heard on multiple occasions in the past. Was it a telepathic connection she shared with Eva, or was it implanted in her memory as a safeguard? Just the thought of such supernatural fuckery was enough to make her head explode.

“I need a drink.” Nicole mumbled, making her way to the bar while fidgeting with the silver button on the slim fitting blue jeans she borrowed, to go with a heather gray long-sleeved t-shirt and a pair of white Adidas Superstars, which she’d never had worn if it wasn’t for the fact that her boots were drenched like the rest of her clothing. Free is free. Thankfully, Eva took the liberty of having Nicole’s stuff washed and dried during her stay, although knowing as much as she does about the Toreador, the Gangrel’s previous wardrobe was most likely dumped into an incinerator.

Henry paused before he entered the lounge, one hand pressed to the nape of his neck. He felt the two small pinprick incisions healing beneath his touch, the skin that was all too human when he wished it to be reknitting beneath the surface of his digits. It was a lesson learned even by ancient beings. Never walk into a classroom of kids covered with love bites if you wanted to avoid gossip.
"Fix us one, would you love?" Henry spoke as he walked in, nodding to Nicole as she moved towards the bar. The time between his arrival and now had done wonders on the man's condition. Most importantly, he no longer burned with the barely contained fire of his buried true form, but secondarily to that, his right arm no longer felt like it was hanging on by shreds of skin alone. Bloody Furries.

"Don't get them talking about Hollywood, we'll be here all bloody week." Henry added, towards Grace, as he found himself a seat, reclining back as he allowed the plush surface to take his weight in full. If he focused hard, the feel of fire, fang and claw could be pushed to the back of his mind for the moment. "Do carry on." He finally added, in a voice wrapped in a very different English accent to normal, the well structured tones of received pronunciation masking the Cockney London gangster for the moment.

Nicole could definitely smell -no, almost taste- the scent of the beasts that permeated from Henry Locke, as he passed by and took a seat with the others. It was totally foreign to her, but there was certainly something odd about it, turning up her nose for a moment, before pouring a couple of drinks for her and Henry. She could recall the scent a few times within the two weeks of her journey alone in the wilderness, away from most of the population. Hiding. Trying to understand herself and what she was. The scent was that of more animals than undead. Could it have been the werewolves she had heard about? Lupines, as she had heard them referred to with utmost disdain.
Paying little attention to her current moment, distant thoughts ran away, causing her to overpour the drink and create a small puddle of blood-infused bourbon along the granite countertop. “Shit.” She grumbled, soaking up the liquid with a stack of paper napkins, before taking both glasses and heading over to where Henry was seated

“It’s probably nowhere near as good as what you’d make.” Nicole leaned in to hand the drink to the other before making her way around to where Eva had been seated, and plopping down on a barstool.

“Hi.” She whispered to the Toreador, cracking a half smile. Nicole couldn’t help but feel guilty for leaving Eva as she did back at the villa all those weeks back, but she also knew that the Elder understood how much havoc the Gangrel’s blood was causing within. Being a relatively new vampire was anything but comfortable.

“Look, I’m sor-”
@Ezekiel Welcome aboard! Your VIP suite is currently on fire and has a brand new scenic vista that's been blown out one side! I hope you don't mind slightly melted chocolate.

I'd heard about the 3D entertainment suite but this is a little excessive.


Much interest so wow.
Collab with @grimely and @FrostedCaramel

Gloriana Class Battleship Ultus-Solis
High Orbit Anchor Over 20-63. Locally known as Praxia

Sekhmetara allowed herself to rest her eyes as she waited, allowing the blessed darkness to reign over her senses for the short while. For countless hours she had poured over reports, the flickering of cogitatal data shimmering in her mind even after her separation from it. The War for Praxia had continued to steadily fall in the favour of the combined Legions, even with their surprisingly advanced technology, the rebels were outgunned, and could not rely on the presence of the Emperor’s gene scions. The steady churning war was beginning to become a rout, the last bastions of resistance would soon find their hastily projected void shielding failing. She did not see the need to throw the lives of the daughters of either legion away through the shock assault when direct bombardment had become an option, now they simply waited for the final decisive blow to be made open to them.

Her mood had not improved, however. The origin of the rebellion’s technological surge had not been identified. Those captured from the rebellion and intercepted transmission spoke of a benefactor from beyond the stars, one who had swayed them with the chance to throw off the yoke of their oppressive local government, which had become synonymous with the Imperium during the brief contact with the world. The Imperial Auxilia Commanders who had saw fit to not address this issue in the world’s initial compliance had already been identified by the primarch, although she had yet to decide how best to address this failure. They were on the cusp of victory, yet the conditions had not effectively changed from their arrival beyond the simple consideration of strategic objectives. Her victories were won in the heart and mind as much as in the seizure of assets, and this felt hollow.

She had forced a reprieve upon herself not out of a need for rest, but due to the arrival of yet another sister. The party which gathered for the arrival of Daena was not quite so grand as the ceremonial meeting of the Tears of Dawn and The Serpents of the Sun. Even those Primarchs she was not closest with, Sekhmetara had spent significant time studying for behavioural preferences. The Emperor’s true angel was not one for such pomp, and besides, they were now involved in an active warfront, even she would not recall her key staff for pomp and ceremony when they were executing her wars. Still, it was a worthy enough occasion that those aboard the Gloriana for their duties alongside their Primarch had assembled in full, the observation tier just as crowded as it was for the arrival of the Serpents, those who had been allowed down to the surface to document the war being in small enough number it had no effect on the crowd density. Now, however, two primarchs stood where there had been one, their presence united almost enough that their smaller retinues could hardly be noticed as significant.

Nelchitl stood beside her sister with an uneasy conscience. Her Legion was planetside, continuing the campaign against the traitors of Praxia without her. The mysterious weapons and technology had yet to be identified, and a benefactor from the stars appeared to be the culprit but still who they were was unknown. With more questions than answers and a planet hanging in the balance Nelchitl yearned to be anywhere but here, and yet here she stood in the massive bay of the Ultus-Solis her duties as Primarch, and as sister, out weighing the cost of the momentary withdrawal from Praxia.

She turned to survey the bay, once more the same one she had landed in on her own arrival, yet being on the receiving side she was able to take in the atmosphere far beyond the scope that she had when she stepped off her shuttle. The sounds of battle were replaced with the ever incessant hum of her dearest sisters favorite Remembrancers packing the catwalks and observation windows, clicks of pict-machines and the whirring of holo-devices easily discernible over the noise of the crowd as the moments were captured to be forever ingrained in the memory of the Crusade. Not a day earlier she had been advancing the fight with her daughters, now she found herself the focus of hololiths and pict feeds like some famous socialite while her daughters fought and bled beneath them. She found the thought disconcerting.

The questions in her mind threatening to completely overshadow the occasion, Nelchitl did her best to shake the thoughts from her mind and readied herself for another sister's arrival. The Emerald Priestess had counted herself blessed by the Emperor’s goodwill in being close enough to assist Sekhmetara, just seeing one of her prized siblings reward enough for her. But now she would be united with a second. She took solace in the fact that the Emperor Himself must certainly be orchestrating such a reunion, His Will moving beyond the stars allowing for such a rare joining to manifest was the only explanation for such good fortunes.

Bolstered by the idea that He had allowed this reunion of three sisters, the gnawing thoughts at the back of Nelchitl’s mind seemed to subside and she allowed herself to relax where she stood and enjoy what was to come. With a radiant smile and a conscience lifted by His intervention, Nelchitl turned and offered the myriad pict-machines an easy wave before turning back to watch the dark beyond the integrity shields.

Away in the dark, the expected Primarch sat within her shuttle with the same impassive serenity as ever, the vessel hanging in the void between her host’s Gloriana and her own. Though surrounded by her entourage, that collection of Astartes and civilians was the furthest thing from her mind at the moment, Daena’s thoughts instead focused on the sisters she was moments from meeting. The mere fact that such a meeting was occurring rankled every pragmatic bone in her body, a portion of her mind calculating how quickly she could get her daughters planetside now that the Redemption was in orbit. A ghost of a smile crossed her face at the thought that both of her siblings might agree with that assessment - albeit for vastly different reasons. Her smile vanished as she teased on that thought, unfurling it as every passing moment brought her closer to the waiting hangar bay.

Nelchitl was an easy read, the woman as brash and impulsive as the day she was found. No doubt she wished to return to the battlefield and put the enemy to flight, to earn the victory rather than pose for photographs. Sekhmetara on the other hand… everything Daena had learned of her made it clear that in almost every other situation she was a lover of pomp and parties, but this wasn’t any other situation. No, something told the Deathseer that even she would not be content to feast with her pride so sorely wounded.
Whether she thought correctly would soon be found out, the Primarch’s head snapping up as soon as she felt her vessel make contact with the deck. Her gaze took in her entire retinue as her thoughts receded and the now became paramount. The Praetors and technical analysts sat silently as they waited for the order to disembark, having donned power armor and dress uniform for the occasion. Meanwhile the horde of Remembrancers took every opportunity to record it, Daena’s face seamlessly shifting from dull mask to gentle smile as they were finally able to catch a sight of her. Hidden within that crowd of humanity sat a man in the humble robes of the Order Elucidatum, whom the Primarch scrupulously paid little heed to and asked no questions of. And then, there were them. The same two who had seemed to always shadow her, the cherubic twins constantly following at her heels, remaining ageless despite the centuries.

“Come now, Daena. It won’t take as long as you fear,” the pair say in their unearthly synced cadence, fulsome grins splitting their faces as they continue, “Trust us.”

Refusing to give any response, Daena simply stood, her Praetors immediately falling in rank behind her at the wordless signal. Though pomp was not her preference, she understood that such displays of pageantry still served a valuable purpose for the Imperium’s citizenry - and for that, she was all too willing to put on a proper show. First out the hatch was her Praetor Primus, Asha banging the ornate silver spear upon the ground with her every step. Following were a pair of lesser ranked Praetors in whom Daena’s lineage ran strongest, their flowing white hair contrasting with the void black of their armor. And then came the Angel herself, her wings unfurling in a majestic display as she stepped off of the shuttle and onto the Ultus-Solis proper, a dusting of pure white feathers trailing in her wake. A final two Praetors round out the honor guard, hoisting banners decorated with the honors of the XIVth.

That she was then followed by an ungainly assortment of scientists, Remembrancers, and whatever other officials had managed to tag along was of no concern to her. She had created the impression she needed to, the images that would inspire dread and awe. That was all that mattered. But the show was not over, not so soon.

The sight of another sister-primarch in such a short space of time was still one to lift Sekhmetara’s spirit despite the situation on the planet below. While she responded with less overt familiarity to the arrival of Nelchitl some time before, warmth still radiated from her as she smiled, and her retinue saluted with the sign of the Aquila. She had always personally preferred the traditional Mithran salute, but she was proud of her Legion-Daughters for adapting as directed by the cultural norms of the Imperium.

The arrival of the Emperor’s angel rippled as a wave of anticipation through the civilian onlookers above. To already be in the presence of two daughters of the Emperor was one thing, but they were an overbearing presence one could hope to survive, the sudden arrival of one another matter entirely. To see three at once at a distance one might be able to throw a stone? Almost too much for even the most well prepared of onlookers, a phenomenon even the marines themselves were not entirely immune from. For Sekhmetara’s part, she felt impressed herself. Part of her had always thought the stories of a sister-Primarch forged in the image of humanity’s old clingings of faith to be an exaggeration, she felt flutterings of joy to know this was not the case. If she had been slightly more (or perhaps less) vain, she might have even felt envious. Envy, however, was not an emotion she felt particularly capable of.

“Greetings, Sister, a fortunate day for us all that are unified in location, as well as purpose.” Sekhmetara’s tone was cordial and without excessive formality, however her voice naturally carried across the room giving it the air of a diplomatic speed in quality of volume alone. “And we are so very pleased you could join us.”

Nelchitl felt her mood rising further as the Doomsayers honor guard made their way out of the shuttle. A display of calculated threat and awe as representations of raw power strode forth ahead of their Primarch, armor as black as the void beyond the integrity shields. She found herself drawn to the striking resemblance that the two shared with the being that would soon step out behind them. The two Praetors flowing white hair and porcelain features appeared to resemble Daena far more on this day than they had last Nelchitl had seen them years before. An interesting trait inherited from their gene-mother no doubt.

The click of pict feeds and the whir of new holo devices coming to life filled the ears of the Emerald Priestess as she watched her sister put on a show for all those assembled by spreading her wings to full as she made her otherwise subdued entrance. Nelchitl stood slightly taller as her own honor guard saluted with the sign of the aquila in lock-step with the Tears opposite of them. The view of her sisters' arrival enough to completely dispel the earlier misgivings of the campaign below, Nelchitl knew for sure that no foe; no matter how well armed and supplied; could possibly stand against the combined might of the three beings assembled in the bay of the Ultus-Solis.

With a smile and a surety of action in her step, Nelchitl broke from the side of Sekhmetara only moments after her sister had finished speaking. With arms held wide at her sides in a friendly gesture Nelchitl spoke as she approached the Angel of Death.

“Fortune bears no weight here, the Emperor surely brings us together!” she spoke easily, her voice carrying to all within the bay, an infectious joy within them turning the hushed whispers and stunned expressions of the Remembrancers and assorted crew above seeing Daena for the first time into unsure smiles and excited buzzing. “Were it only under more desirable circumstances.” she finished, her final words only carrying as far as Daena and her entourage, lost to the space of the bay with the same casual ease that had carried across its entirety.

The perfect porcelain smile on Daena’s face broke into a true grin as her ‘younger’ sister rushed forward, the emotionless judge permitting herself to truly indulge. Had it been anyone else, the Praetors would have cut down such a brazen interloper where they stood - but Nelchitl had always seemed to break such rules. Nearly all Doomsayers present had been there two decades past when they had first met, but even they were surprised by what happened next.

Bringing her sister into a tight embrace, the Angel’s wings descend over the pair, hiding them from the sight of the crowd and the whirr of pict captors. Looking Nelchitl in the eye, Daena seemed as if she was about to speak for a moment. And then it began again, the Primarch freezing in place as visions overtook mundane sight..

Oceans of blood boiled beneath an oppressive sky, the supply continuously renewed from the filthy gutters of a fortress of gore and bone. A citadel home to atrocities beyond counting, witnessed mid-fall. Gleaming figures in silver and gold assaulted its battlements and tore down its horrors in a maelstrom of death and destruction - and at the center of it all a gleaming sword punctured a woman’s chest. By some accident or with what little strength remained, her head moved to stare directly into the phantasmal viewer’s eyes, Nelchitl’s staring into Daena’s once more. The vision changed almost as soon as it was seen, the Primarch of the XVIIth staring vacantly into the sky as creatures with horrid limbs cavorted around her dying form. A smile erased in a heartbeat by an unseen assailant. A monster righteously destroyed. A hero dying for her people. A tyrant despised by her followers. But in them all it remained, the oppressive sight and stench of blood.

Wrenching her gaze away from Nelchitl, Daena’s wings flap frantically as the overwhelmed woman attempted to escape her accursed sight - and succeeded only in changing the subject of her visions. Locking eyes with Sekhmetara, the blood mercifully faded away, replaced by visions of opulence and gold. She lay recumbent in a palace decorated in her own style, dying a slow death from an impossible wound in her stomach that refused to heal. A woman offered salvation, warning that only death awaited inaction. This, too, soon faded, replaced by yet more entries in the parade of ill fate. A hunt gone awry, her body broken beneath a monster with the face of one of their brothers. A hunt well fought, the victorious heroes putting an end to a monster with the face of Sekhmetara. Beloved and despised. Worshiped and profaned. Conqueror and conquered.

It took only a moment for her mind to once more be hers, Daena’s face sliding back into the inoffensive smile of a statute as her wings came to rest upon her back. Such foolishness had nearly cost her dearly, the Primarch’s mental walls reinforced to ensure that such childish notions as joy would not interrupt what remained of their show. Perhaps in private, away from the demands of duty, but never here. Not while her performance was still required.

“My sister,” she spoke softly, voice pitched just so to ensure that the breathy whisper could still be detected by the devices of the Remembrancers. “It is good to see you once more. And my sister, a pleasure to meet at last,” she continued, voice growing in strength as she turned towards Sekhmetara again. “Father sends his regards, and his fondest wish that we deal with these misguided fools swiftly. Malcador sends his Tallymen to ensure it,” she said with a sweeping gesture towards the Elucidators still disembarking her shuttle. “But there will be time enough for us to speak of war. My sisters,” My murderers?, “would that we could always travel together,” she said in a carrying voice, hoping that none noticed her momentary pause, before beckoning towards the mistress of the Tears to join her and Nelchitl.

The onyx skinned form of the third primarch closed the distance between her and her united sisters in a few brief steps to embrace them. While she wore her battleplate in most of its entirety, her gauntlets were not in place and the bare touch of her hands held to her sisters’ faces, the gold of her sub-dermal metallic markings sparkling lightly in the artificial light.

“When our father first told me I had kin among the stars, this was the moment my soul longed for.” Sekhmetara spoke, her tone remaining private in tone, but public in volume, a moment of intimacy between demigods standing in the hold of the faithful. “War may bring us together, but it is the building of our father’s realm for which we are born.” The intense orbs of her eyes focused finally on Daena even as she spoke to them both. Her fellow Primarch had not faltered visibly to the sense of lesser humanity, but the cut and thrust of politics were her domain and she was not a lesser human. Her sister struggled with some private thought, worth mentioning at a different time.

“Sister.” Nelchitl beamed as a smiling Daena pulled her into an embrace. Her sister's wings wrapping around the form of the two Primarchs shrouding them in intimate privacy, she looked upon her sister ready for warm words of kinship from the Angel before her only to find her sister's gaze vacant and devoid of the life she had just witnessed. In silence she stood for the briefest of moments as the wings surrounding them fluttered as if overwhelmed by some private thought. Yet as quickly as the episode had begun it was over with Daena offering the words that Nelchitl had expected.

Knowing better than to mention in such a setting what she had just witnessed, Nelchitl maintained her delighted composure as Daena addressed her sisters. “Time enough for war indeed, there seems no lack of it beneath us as it stands.” she agreed with the Angel before she eyed over the entourage that had disembarked and took note sourly of the Elucidators in the crowd. The Emerald Priestess turned her view once more to her sisters and the approaching form of Sekhmetara, adding her to the embrace with a smooth shift from her place.

She brought a hand up to clasp that of Sekhmetara’s at her cheek as she spoke, offering an affectionate grin to her favorite sister. She nodded in agreement and added her own words to the end of her sisters, “To build His realm as He has envisioned it is the singular purpose of us all, and the binding ideals we strive for in His name secure our bonds as the bedrock of this the Great Crusade.” Content that she had indulged the need for propaganda and morale across the Crusade’s thousands of fleets and here amongst the myriad of mortals and Astartes assembled in hushed excitement Nelchitl was about to speak privately again when the sounds of soft singing began to drift from the honorguard of Tears.

It was then that the quiet voice drifted from Sekmetara’s entourage, from the honour guard of Tears of Dawn selected to accompany their Primarch. They were fresh, those with more experience or prominence still attending their duties on the planet. The most promising new recruits from the latest generations of Tears of Dawn. Exceptional individuals in their own right, but not yet used to the presence of even their own Primarch, let alone three. Distorted only slightly by the Astartes helm worn by the individual, the halting Mithran words reached Sekhmetara’s ears and a warmer smile brushed her features as she turned from her embrace with her sisters to approach her own honour guard. The voice continued, even more quietly and hatling as the primarch drew closer.

”Baba yetu, yetu uliye….Mbinguni yetu, yetu, amina.” The young Astartes continued to practically gasp out the words as Sekhmetara herself placed her hands on either side of the Astartes helm, lifting gently, her own programmed presence as genesire overriding the mag-locks within the armoured suit. The features which looked back at her were almost a more solidly built mirror of her own, although with an element of fresh youth the Primarch had shed long ago before she was even half the age of the being before her. Finally fully exposed, the voice came to a halting stop, a look of awe on the golden brown eyes gazing up at the Primarch’s own.

“...Sire….I’m sorry….forgive me.” She stammered, now returning to the Low Gothic the fleet communicated with, words which only extended Sekhmetara’s smile.

“You have done nothing wrong sister, but our helms are not made for expressing such joy.” Sekhmetara spoke as she offered the helm back to her gene-daughter, her eyes rising to the observation gantry as a much more sonorous voice took up the melody which had begun.

”Baba yetu, yetu uliye, Mbinguni yetu, yetu, amina, Baba yetu, yetu, uliye, Jina lako litukuzwe.” Before this new female voice had even finished her first few words, a cascade of voices joined them. The native Mithrans in attendance, from marine to rembrancer to landing crew, and those who had served long enough beside them all took up the song of celebration from their home, one that had long been adapted since the arrival of the Imperium to Mithra.

”Utupe leo chakula chetu, Tunachohitaji utusamehe, Makosa yetu, hey, Kama nasi tunavyowasamehe, Waliotukosea, usitutie.” The voices rose in celebration, cascading over the landing bay. The gantry shook with the melodic stamping of those who knew the rhythm. The people of Mithra regarding the three Primarchs with the tones once reserved for the holiest of beings in the old Mithran faith, made new for this new era of Enlightenment. All but one of Sekhmetara’s current honour guard removed their helms to join in, the first daughter now rejoining the song she had inadvertently begun. To that last helmeted daughter, the Primarch nodded. The helmed figure, garbed in the black and orange of the First Company, moved towards the shipward entrance to the hall even as the song continued.

Such was the force of joy carrying the song that the mechanical churn of the bulkhead opening caused no pause, revealing an assembly of individuals proceeding forwards. Many were in fine, if unfashionable by Imperial standards, garb although others were dressed akin to the common workers from a million generic hive cities across the galaxy. All had been taken from Praxia below in the fighting, some expected to be taken part in some form of diplomatic talks, most had little such hope having seen the furious fighting of the Astartes and wider Imperium in person. None expected to be brought into the crucible of awe that was the presence of three primarchs and the assembled crowd. As they did so, Sekhmetara swept forwards. With a blink, her eyes were alight with molten glory, the mane of her hair changing from dark brown to the superheated white of flame, surrounding her features in a halo of light and fire. For a moment all were stunned. Some were frozen in places, others fell to a knee or even prostrated themselves as she drew closer.

“People of Praxia. You have been led astray by those who seek to rip you from the love and protection of our Lord Father, of Our Imperium.” Her tone was warm, but no longer soft, not hiding the imperious nature of her tone. “Your warriors are might and brave, you have earned my respect and you will be treated as brothers and sisters united with us anew, those of you who accept the truth and justice of our eternal realm. One Galaxy, A United Humanity.” Finally she reached the line of the assembled Praxians, her hands reaching forwards upturned as she spoke. Several of them shrank away, unable to bear the force of her presence. Two of them stepped forwards, shaking with fear and awe, reaching comparatively small digits to brush her palms, like the faithful reaching for a Messiah of old. As two did, more joined them, kneeling before the burning demi-god who brought the vengeance of the galaxy with her. “In his name.” Sekhmetara sang, in her native tongue, to bring an end to the song which had once been a prayer.

Though Nelchitl had heard the words before, and had learned Mithran many years prior at the insistence of Sekhmetara, there was no doubt in her mind that her own Serpents were likely just as confused as the assembled non-Mithran mortals present. With a serenity falling over her features, she watched as the Primarch of XXth moved to her daughters and removed the helm of the one who had begun the quiet song. The reverence of Sekhmetara’s movements, and the peaceful words she spoke to her own gene-daughter only served to sway Nelchitl’s mood further into joyous peace. When the song was then picked up by all of the Mithran’s present Nelchitl found herself keeping pace in her mind as the song ebbed and flowed to its completion on the lips of Huntress herself.

“In His name.” the Emerald Priestess echoed the words of her sister beneath her breath, the words spoken with the devotion of a true believer.

She brought her gaze away from the astonishingly moving display of Sekhmetara, noting the adoration visible on the faces of all of her daughters as she moved to focus on the assorted prisoners that had been escorted into the landing bay.

Once more her sister called forth the power that sent shivers down Nelchitl’s spine every time she witnessed them. The Emerald Priestess felt the attention of every Serpent in the bay focused onto the Primarch of the XXth, their breath bated as she displayed her mystifying powers. The image of the Emperor once more before Nelchitl on the battlefield of Ixhun, hovering above her with His hands outstretched in offers of acceptance and annihilation all at once swam back to her mind in such vivid detail she couldn’t help as a tear streaked down her cheek. She felt her hearts beat faster as Sekhmetara moved amongst the prisoners offering the same assured outcomes to the traitors, and Nelchitl herself offered the sign of the aquila as the display in front of her offered nothing less than proof of the divine. For what else could create a being so perfect as the deity she was watching before her own eyes?

Daena’s heart sank as she realized that they knew, doubt gnawing at the back of her mind as she wondered who else noticed aside from her sisters. Indecision and inadequacy raced through the cracks in her mental defenses until they were banished with a burst of will powerful enough that the psykers in her retinue looked at their mistress with genuine concern, before they too mastered their emotions. It is a still and placid face that turned to greet the swell of song, whatever human part of her that may have been moved buried deep below the weight of duty and station.

Where the Tears rejoiced and the Serpents were happily confused, the Doomsayers feared. All in attendance had traveled with their lady for long enough to recognize what had occurred, the subtle indicators of Daena warring with herself - and losing. An angel without mercy or remorse strode forth as the show reached its climax, examining the prisoners with neither pity nor hate. Where Sekhmetara used grandiose displays, and Nelchitl had her fearsome reputation, the Angel of Death was far more direct.

She stopped before the row of Praxians, pulling herself to her full height, wings outstretched so that the only light that shone upon them was her sister’s own. A blank gaze swept across them as power gathered within her frame, the twin cherubim in her retinue looking at their mistress with clear distaste before muttering something unheard to her mortal followers. Her Praetors by contrast remain unmoved, Asha and the four trailing battle sisters wearing the same impassive face as their mistress - an effect made altogether more disturbing on the nearly identical faces of the pair who had walked directly before her.

When Daena spoke, it was a single, undeniable command. An order that could not be disobeyed, that even the strongest willed of the rebels could not endure. So forceful was her decree that even the weak willed among the Imperium’s own could not help but kneel or bow as they obeyed her iron will.


A ripple of submissive silence passed through the throng of both the gathered prisoners and the Imperial crowd watching from the higher observation tier. Many fell to their knees involuntarily, and many more followed by choice watching their fellows fall to the indomitable will of the primarchs. One who did not kneel was Isabis Khafre, her trembling form watching the presence of three demigods in faithful rapture. One hand splayed over her heart, the prongs of her fingers formed into four distinct points, her thumb clasped into her hand. Despite herself, her role was important, coordinating the recording of the event to be projected down to the populace on Praxia, both for the loyal and recovered cities, as well as ideally reaching even those who held out against the Imperium. Such a display from the sacred scions had momentarily pulled her away from her focus, however. How any could doubt the divinity of such beings, she did not know, but she would do her utmost to spread their word across the stars.
“That angle, yes, framed together.” She spoke in a hushed whisper to the closest of her crew, watching a large dataslate presenting a window from each camera in the hold, some co-opted from the cameras of the ship itself, others from fellow remembrancers. There were few, if any, in the Imperium who could challenge her skill of directive vision, and all of her ability went into selecting the perfect moments and angles to craft into the final vision. A monkey could make an impressive film from this footage, she felt. A master of her ability could craft a pict-series which would bring the galaxy to its enraptured knees, much as the hold now found itself. With a content smile she nodded, before pressing a runic device on her gauntlet. An unseen communication to her adopted sister to mark that they had all they needed.

Sekhmetara herself received the alert as the smallest runic blip from the interface of her armour, her hands finally lifting from those who still grasped for her presence. “You are dismissed.” She spoke plainly, but it was undoubtedly a command to all present, prisoner and Imperial alike. With a shimmer of her inflamed mane of hair, she turned, nuclear eyes falling on the agents of the Regent. She did not repeat herself, but her focus made clear she included even the highest agents of their father’s most trusted advisor within the scope of her command. If it rankled them, it was not so obvious as to present a public suggestion of rebellion to the will of the Primarch. As the landing bay emptied, Sekhmetara approached Daena again, moving to cup her cheeks before placing a kiss to her forehead.

“Calm, sister. All is well.”
Collab with @Bloodrose

Morgan awoke in what seemed to be the back of some battered old van. She could feel the road bouncing beneath her, whilst the truck’s metal walls rattled and shook.

“Fuck…” she hissed, wincing in pain. She could feel the fresh gouge in chest pounding and burning.

Ghostly nerve endings cried out in torment.

The wound was healing, dead flesh knitting itself back together, fighting to seal up the bloody hole that stake had left in her bosom.

“I could never decide if it was more painful to be with you, or without you, amica mea.” Calantha murmured, sitting across from her, in the back of the van.

The Tzimisce gazed at Morgan with tortured, yearning-filled eyes.

“You’re not the one with a fucking hole in your chest.” the Malkavian hissed back.

Calantha was splayed out across a seat, which looked as though it had been converted from someone’s timeworn sofa.

The towering Brujah and the flame-kissed nosferatu sat on either side of her.

“Where are you taking me?” Morgan demanded, still cringing in pain.

“Our little club house.” The nosferatu tittered, in her raspy, grating growl-of-a-voice.

The Malkavian heard one of her hushed, fluttering ghosts whispering in her ear, through the gashes in her mind.

”Down, down, down, beneath the earth,” the voice told her, ”however far light travels, darkness has always traveled further. The sun will wither, and die, but darkness is eternal.”

It wasn’t long before they reached their destination.

The giant, dark-skinned Brujah forced Morgan out of the van, pressing the tip of his mammoth broadsword into her back.

They drove her out into the San Francisco night, and up the stony steps of Grace Cathedral, the Nosferatu disguising herself beneath a dark hood.

“If you charlatans were half as brave as you made out, you wouldn’t skulk in the shadows.” Morgan spat, earning her a sharp slap across the back of the head.

The Sabbat shoved Morgan inside the cathedral, guiding her past enormous white pillars, and rows upon rows of polished pews. A myriad of colourful, glistening stained glass encircled them, passing soft beams of moonlight into the cathedral.

The enormous chamber was deathly quiet, and as empty as a water tank, which had been drained down to the final drop.

“Take her into the pit,” Calantha instructed her subordinate, “bring her before El Conde. Through the will of the dark father, he shall remake her.”

“They call my kind crazy,” Morgan snarled, “but you’re the ones who are fucking insane. Does it hurt, having a brain filled with the Sabbat’s poison and lies? Does the madness ache? Do you suffer?”

Calantha let out a sharp eruption of laughter.

“Madness doesn’t hurt, amica mea,” she cackled, “it makes us whole. I treasure every delicious second of it.”

Calantha Teohari was the product of unimaginable torture, and indescribbably suffering. She had been ripped apart, and put back together, over and over and over again, by her demented sire.

In the decades since, she had glutted herself on a banquet of the most deranged, and psychotic souls. Her favourite pastime was embracing particularly sadistic serial killers, before diablerizing them, and gorging on their essence.

She stalked them, trapped them, and feasted upon their insanity.

Those crooked splinters of malice and monstrosity had embedded themselves within her, burrowing beneath her skin, and drilling into the psychic tissue of her mind.

Morgan doubted that any of her treasured friend was left.

Secret passageways webbed out of the Cathedral, and burrowed down into the darkest echelons of the earth. The Sabbat forced Morgan down, into a spiraling corridor, and marched her through their underground network of hidden tunnels.

“How typically villainous of you,” Morgan chuckled dryly, and without humour, her tone dripping with scorn, “an underground lair.”

“It has its uses.” The towering Brujah replied, curtly, his voice bouncing off of the craggy walls.

Jagged stone underpasses surrounded them, carved out of crooked rock, and engulfed in complete darkness. Without their supernatural night vision, the vampires would have been unable to see even marginally infront of them.

“El conde will transform you, beloved,” Calantha promised, as the group stepped out of the shadowy hallways, and into the Sabbat’s colossal, underground chapel, “we will become one in -”

The Tzimiscie stopped, dead in her tracks.

“Points for presentation, but the substance is lacking.” The voice sounded bored as it rose from the pews lining the chapel. The figure sat among them, his feet up on the row in front of him with a typical lack of reverence as the figure beside him finally crumbled to ash, consumed by his ministrations.

“I remember when the Sabbat didn’t scurry in holes in the ground, when all of Europe bowed beneath the whims of your Popes and Bishops. They called you Anarchs back then. By the Dark Sire, that was a ‘real’ war.” The figure continued as he stood, buttoning closed the jack of the three piece suit he wore, even hidden in darkness. The ash didn’t stick to him this time, tumbling away to leave his appearance painfully perfect.

“I wasn’t going to kill you all, I really do promise, but then I found this little rat, and it really sullied my mood.” Lubbock half-growled as he stooped to lift the exsanguinated body of Andy Warhol from the floor beside him, examining the stricken kindred with a look of pure disgust. “Moden art was such a terrible mistake.” He bemoaned, before casting the body aside, striking a pillar with such force the kindred simply came apart in a cascade of bone and corpse-ash, the last of the undead will holding it together collapsing entirely.

“Come on then, I haven’t got all night.”

Morgan’s head was swarmed with the shrieking, screaming voices of the unseen. Countless invisible kindred cried out, begging her to turn, and run.

“You don’t belong here,” Calantha snarled, striding forwards, with fire blazing in her eyes, “these dark halls will be your tomb!”

The Tzimisce raised one long, slender hand, and her underlings rushed forwards.

Gracie and Tate charged towards Lubbock, the giant Brujah hoisting his broadsword up above his head, whilst he roared like some ancient berserker.

“Calantha, please!” Morgan grabbed hold of the Tzimisce’s hand, slipping her fingers between those of her former lover.

Calantha Teohari was so stunned that she didn’t ressit, caught off-guard by the sudden display of affection.

“Down into the jaws of the beast,” Morgan whimpered, re-conveying what the shadowy voices were whispering to her, bloody tears welling in her eyes,”a child of the minotaur, in the skin of a knight. Dancing on roses of ash, and mountains of bones.”

A burst of panic flashed across the Tzimisce’s pale features.

Lubbock didn’t even move as the Kindred charged him, he closed his eyes, opening his mouth to taste the rage, and the building fear. His tongue lapped around the emotions like a thirsting animal, savouring the hot tangs of their mayfly lives. Then he spoke.

“Kill each other.”

When the words slipped passed his lips, Lubbock’s eyes blazed in the darkness, leeching the colour of ichor into the air itself, the words pulsing through the air like a shockwave, the very darkness itself fleeing from him. The pair of kindred didn’t miss a step, their charge turned on the next motion, barreling them into each other in a tumble of claw,fang and body. To kill a kindred was not a swift or easy thing with brute force, even to another kindred, and the pair were still fighting, cutting visceral chunks of each other away as Lubbock stepped over them.

“You are right, broken thing, your myths and legends, I am them, when humanity was young and barely knew the bones of gods it scrabbled upon, I was there. When you elders croned about the dangers of the ancient ones, they spoke of me.” He continued to walk closer, the burning brightness of each eye a mote to lose the soul in, utterly transfixing the Kindred before him even as their comrades limply still tried to fulfill his orders, dying, bleeding ash on the floor.

“Do you see now? Your Sabbat is not truth, you are just the children who needed the greater lie.”

The pounding in Morgan’s head was like the beating of a hundred thousand thundering war drums. The beast within her was thrashing, and fighting, and screaming in terror.

She felt her dead body growing stiff, and cold. She was frozen to the spot; petrified by the transfixing touch of unadulterated dread.

“We prepared for this,” Calantha hissed, her fangs unsheathing, “the sword of caine has planned for your awakening, monster!”

The Malkavian could feel ancient fires crackling against her skin. The scent of smoke, long since extinguished, flooded her nostrils.

Mary’s dying screams filled her ears, threatening to engulf her, as they had done all those years ago.
Then, suddenly, a single voice cut through the wailing.

Do it for me, Morgan. Do it for Calantha. Do it for yourself. A brighter future is counting on you.

Morgan Holloway let go of Calantha Teohari’s hand.

The Malkavian took a step forward.

“Its my fault that the Angel found you, Calantha,” Morgan said, locking eyes with the mighty demi-god infront of her, “its my fault that you got pulled into this fucked up world of monsters and demons. You could have had a normal life, but I took that away from you.”

The Malkavian drew her claws.

“It's high time I did something about that.”

Without warning, Morgan Holloway soared forwards, racing across the ground, in a sudden burst of swiftness.

Her mind’s eyes opened, and the ethereal fires of London poured fourth. A raging inferno of insanity bled out into the world, bursting out of her head, and smothering Lubbock in a cacophony of cackling madness.

“RUN, CALANTHA!” The Malkavian roared, throwing herself upon the Antediluvian, “RUN!”

For a few glorious moments, Lubbock was drowned in madness. His mind plunged into raving lunacy of a London long passed. His consciousness danced in the flame, pirouetted among the damned and dying of the city he had once called home. Kindred had a natural revulsion to flame, but instead his soul craved it, seeking the glorious final absolution the fire offered. A chance for blessed annihilation. There, in the smoke drenched ruin, he found her. The dallying mayfly spirit of the Malkavian. He felt her desperation, her fear, and most deliciously rare among the souls of his kind, her love. She had been brave, admirably so, every inch of her being had been thrown into this final act and his heart would be stone to be unmoved by such a thing.

Without even a sigh of effort, he scattered her mind. Her being was already an amalgamation of broken shards, barely held together by a fading will. His presence unleashed her entirely, the glass breaking and spiralling away into madness, then nothingness. That was when his physical form took her, his fangs sinking into her neck, pulling her very essence into him in a span of moments, even as his soul still danced in the London of her creation. He would not let a spirit so motivated from something as beautiful as love been condemned to unreality, he brought her into himself, melding her spirit to his, without consuming her. There she would swim until he grew bored of her, or found a final release a fitting reward for her actions.

Reality crashed against him like a dark tide, the cold bite of the living world bringing a snarl from his features as he was himself again. He could not fault the Tzimisce for not being able to flee either. Her lover’s sacrifice had bought her a single second. He was upon her before she could even blink again, a hand to her throat driving her into the ground with enough force to crack the stone beneath them, leering over her, his eyes bore into her own.

“I feel her thoughts, Calantha, did you know at the end she still loved you? After everything you’ve done.” His fingers flexed, feeling the weakness of her bones beneath his grip. The memories were his now, and what had brought fear to the Malkavian inspired only rage in the ancient Toreador. “It is a shame I need your little, twisted, soul.” He mused, before his own features began to swim. To the kindred he pinned, the form of Lubbock twisted, murky, rippling. At first in the now, but then her memories swam as well, being remade as surely as they were in the present.

Eventually female features looked down at her, pinning her just as effectively with hands the colour of one who had been born under the Mexican Sun, long before there had been a Mexico. When Lubbock spoke, it was with the voice of a grandchilde’ not his own.

“Find me, have your vengeance.”

Then the thing that had been Lubbock vanished.
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