Collab with @FrostedCaramel
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.