I think I am down to one current RP partner, so I am entertaining picking up another RP!
Please DM me if you are interested. And don't feel constrained to my plots- I am happy to consider more than what I have listed here. If you have a burning desire for a story you haven't found an appropriate partner for, but think I could be a good fit, let me know! The most important thing to me really is communication and someone who will stick around past the first few posts.
The Lead In - Eleanor and Mal are racing to reach Emmaline having learned that the enemy is planning to murder her at home.
The ring at the door bell surprised Emmaline. There were few callers out here and fewer still at this late hour. She snapped her fingers and the wooden spoon which had been stirring the cookie dough, quite independent from her input, quivered and stopped, then toppled to hit the metal rim of the bowl with a soft thump. There were lights out on the driveway, a pair of cars. A soft knot of worry that Eleanor had been hurt coalesced in her stomach. The doorbell rang again and she walked across to foyer and opened the heavy wooden door, wiping dust from her hands to her apron. A stern looking man in a cheap suit stood in the doorway. He smelled of bleach and cologne.
“Dr Stern,” he began, a trifle hesitantly, perhaps surprised that the woman he had come to find was stained with drywall cement and had her hair pulled up behind a bandana with the words ‘something wicked’ written across it.
“Ja,” she responded, attempting to look around outside. It was dark and the rain was already coming down, but she saw other men out there, similarly dressed, white teeth and rolexes glinting.
“Dr Emma Stern?” he repeated. Emmaline narrowed her eyes slightly, beginning to grow agitated.
“Yes,” she responded again. Something was wrong, but these didn’t seem like police or anyone from the Group.
“Emma Stern,” the man repeated, a self satisfied grin flashing across his face, ugly and cruel. There were others out there, many others, she realized, spreading out in a wide half circle around the door.
“Thrice I name you and bound!” he declared. And she felt the surge of will as he reached out to seize her arm.
Eleanor felt the psychic death scream as Mal gunned the Lexus onto the gravel roadway, fish tailing wildly to keep control at over sixty miles an hour in the driving rain. It hit her deep in the gut, doubling her up in a wail of grief and loss. They were too late. It was over.
“It dosen’t mean…” Mal began, risking a glance from the road at her that nearly put them into an oak tree. He heaved at the wheel keeping them on all four wheels more by luck than skill, ripping away a vast section of the hanging spanish moss that hung from the trees. Before she could reply another death scream sounded. Then another.
“What the..” Mal began, not as attuned to the entropic feedback as Eleanor was but still able to sense something. They bumped up over the slide ridge and looked down into the hollow to the house. They could see two parked SUVs lights painting the front of the house, a figure in the doorway lit by the merry hearthlight. The lights sucked out and the air fluoresced with green white corposant. Eleanor felt a terrible draw of entropy pulling at every atom of her body, energy rushed in towards the house like a giant drawing its breath, like the tide rushing away at full slack. The lights shattered in showers of explosive sparks that hung in the air like fireflies and the roof exploded upwards with a shattering report. A pillar of white gold fire rose thirty feet into the air, the concussion of its creation blowing the walls of the mansion apart like thistle in a hurricane. The force of it literally picked up both SUVs and hurled them away like childrens toys. Two more death screams, so close and loud that Eleanor could taste the sheer terror of them.
“Stop!” she screamed at Mal, who was too transfixed to have responded with anything other than a slackening in his suicidal acceleration. There was no time to explain Eleanor grabbed the hand brake and yanked hard. The Lexus slewed sideways and turned over, spinning once in the air before slamming into the side of a tree. The airbags blew, screaming open with the horrible scent of burning superglue and hammering both of them back into their seats. The entropic detonation came a heart beat later. Everything within a hundred meters of the house died. Birds were struck from the sky, worms died in the earth, bacteria burst their cell walls and expired, every tree and plant withered and crumbled to ash in an instant. All that death sucked in towards the house like a backdraft snuffing a fire. The sound of it shattered the crazed windows of the lexus with its sheer volume. Eleanor’s pistol cracked, sounding tinny and attenuated. The airbag deflated as the bullet punctured it and she pulled her way free by sheer force of will, falling out of the car and onto the muddy road side, pulling herself towards the house on all fours. Pieces of masonry and broken ceiling tiles rained down all around her . Something struck the side of the Lexus and bounced to a stop a few feet from her. It was a human hand severed at the wrist, three fingers burning like candles. The rolex watch on the wrist whired as the hands spun crazily backwards as the very rules of reality were ripped apart.
The light was incredible.
Emmaline stood atop the pillar of flame, her clothing burned away, her nude form shining with the luminous power she was channeling. Nothing in the universe produced as much raw chaos as the destruction of a human mind, and a practitioner, as all thirteen men down there certainly were, were an order of magnitude more potent. Emmaline had snuffed out five minds in the space of a few heart beats, main lining the raw chaos like a light filament that suddenly surged with a billion volts. She blazed with a radiance that would have shamed a magnesium flare, every detail of her burning itself into Eleanor’s mind, even from a quarter of a mile away. It was terrible to behold that light. It was more than physical, more than mystical, they very stuff of creation ripped asunder and forced into the world. It was the ruinous brilliance of primordial magic and chaos, the horrible illumination that men of old had tried to hold back with the black sabbats of the Magna Mater. It was the soul shattering terror which had torn the name of Ishtar from the throats of Mesopetamian farmers, the incredible destruction which had piled the stones in temples to Shiva and Kali-ma in the Indus Valley. It was the atomic annihilation which had burned shadows into the stone at Hiroshima. It was the racial memory of shepherds who had imagined the first words of creation from the lips of their vengeful God. Let. There. Be. Light. Three of the surviving men died instantly, their minds simply abraded away by what they were seeing. Eleanor could feel their terror and their horror, feel the shape of Emmaline’s blazing form burning their retinas, seared into their minds even as the flesh of their faces ran slick and their optic nerves blazed like guttering candle wicks. Her sanity shivered on the edge of the rushing storm of entropy.
“What the fuck…” Mal breathed. It saved Eleanor’s life, the voice pulling her soul from the blazing existential inferno to look at him. She could see nothing but his shape, black and gray and glittering with visual purple, over layed with the searing image of Emmaline, reflected by that light in his own eyes. She forced herself to turn back. Explosions rippled around the sorceress as hydrogen atoms split from their oxygen partners, only to explosively recombine a moment later. Everything was burning, rock and bone blazed with gorgeous metallic color that seemed drab and boring compared to Emmaline. Another man died, the psychic scream this time more like a sigh of relief. Somehow the man before Emmaline stood his ground, surrounded by a quarter mile of utter blasted ruin. Both of his arms were raised as he screamed a chant that was inaudible over the cacophonous booms and the keening scream of the light itself. He was sucking in power from his surviving coven members, a lethal amount if their lifetimes hadn’t already been measured in moments. With awful majesty, the transfigured form of Emmaline looked down at the chanting man, the first motion it had made since it lifted onto its pillar of witchfire. In the days to come Eleanor and Mal would dispute what happened next. To Eleanor it sounded only like a pure and terrible note of sound, like the chime of some great bell that spoke of the doom of the world and the entropic death of the universe. Mal had a simpler and less poetic recollection. A simple and unadorned word in Emmaline’s voice, audible clearly across a quarter mile of shattered broken hell. Burn. And burn they did. The four surviving practitioners ignited like propane flames, their bodies blasting appart like hammer struck glass. The leader stood a moment longer, screaming desperately. Tongues of white flame burst from his eyes, ears and nostrils. He turned to run, staggering blindly down the track towards the road, flame dripping from his body, gravel beneath his feet cracking and fusing in puddles of glass. It wasn’t his willpower of magical defenses that kept him moving. Eleanor could feel the agony in his mind, the abandonment and defeat of a man who thought himself righteous abandoned in his hour of need, the fire that reached every fiber of his being. Emmaline was keeping him alive as he burned. Perhaps not keeping him alive, but attenating his death, stretching it out infinitely in a desperate attempt to step down the incredible power she had drawn in so that she could stand against so many. The burning man staggered away screaming. The pillar of flame guttered and vanished, dropping Emmaline’s body to the ground. Reality itself screamed in protest at what had been done to it.
Lead out - Emmaline has created a death vortex by drawing way too much power. We have to cross it somehow to save her.
I stared in shock as the gold armored figure ripped into the scarabs, sending metal flying in all directions. Screaming with rage the armored warrior charged across the room and grabbed the tomb spyder by one of its forelegs. He drew back a vast metal fist and drove it into the side of the creature. It drew back its hand and struck again and again, dishing in plates with the sound like a pneumatic hammer on hull platting. With a roar of victory he plunged his fist through its armor and grabbed a hold of its inards, ripping out a handfull of sparking green cables. The spyder spasmed wildly and then collapsed to the floor. The warrior grabbed the things head in both hands and wrenched violently. The head came free in an explosion of green fire that flickered and arced across the armor. For a few seconds I could see the giant's skeleton through the armor. The green light died and the giant stepped clear, smoke coiling up from his golden armor.
"Holy Throne," I breathed in shock. My mind was screaming 'astartes'. I had never seen one in the flesh, but they were a frequent enough subject of sculpture and painting that I could tell this wasn't one of the Emperor's Chosen. It swiviled its head to look at me and I backed up rapidly, my guts clenching. The monster took a step towards me, flexing its fingers.
"We are servants of the Emperor!" Hadrian shouted. The brute paused, head swiviling to Hadrian. I got the impression it was surveying the Imperial iconography on his equipment. I probed at him with my mind, shoving all the images of the Emperor I could think of at the thing.
Jocasta’s curiosity as to what had just happened fizzled momentarily as Beren’s light played across the room. The chamber was oddly curved on both edges, as though the walls themselves were bowed outwards to accommodate what was within. One wall was covered in a lattice of carved wood, each hole in the lattice serving as the repository for a scroll of paper or vellum. The other wall contained a vast mural depicting strange beings in various scenes. Some seemed to be arcane in nature, ritual or dance related, others seemed very mundane, hunting and domestic scenes. All were bizarre. One of the beings in a cooking scene appeared to be slicing up her own hand with a knife made of light. Strange arcane script, obviously a later addition, had been scrawled over everything. Every set of eyes had been carefully gouged out and chips of stone about the right size to be eyes lay on the floor before the mural like gravel. The back wall contained lab equipment and a bench covered in dusty but still visible jewelry, either enchanted or waiting for enchantment. The most salient feature of the room however was in its center. Standing on a small stone pedestal was a huge archway. It seemed to be made of large opals the size of a man’s head, each fused to the next like a tight string of pearls. The stones blazed when Beren’s light hit them, giving Jocasta a queasy, oily feeling, like the whole thing might slide down at any point. It didn’t go anywhere, just an archway standing in the center of the room. Jocasta crossed to the scrolls and opened one up beginning to read. It was an ancient script, a precursor to the one that the sagas and enchantments on the barrows were written in.
“We don’t have time for that,” Beren said urgently, “those dorcha will be after us and I’m sure they won’t take too long to figure out where we are.”
“You’re right,” Jocasta agreed and began shoving scrolls into her bag furiously, crumpling them tightly together to make them fit. Beren let out an exasperated sound.
“I meant, stop looting and lets find a way out of here,” Beren said, sounding tense, no doubt his prior experience with Dark Elves urged him against lingering. There was no obvious way out of the chamber and backtracking did not seem like a good plan. Jocasta ignored him, collecting every scroll till her pack bulged so tightly she struggled to pull the straps to close it.
“Waste not, want not,” she said tartly as she hurried towards the jewelry. Beren intercepted her and redirected her to the archway.
“If we don’t find a way out of here, you and I are going to spend a very long time with some very unpleasant beings,” he told her.
“I’m sure the Dark Elves aren’t nearly as bad as people say,” Jocasta objected.
“They are much worse,” Beren said in a voice that brooked no contradiction. Jocasta made an irritated sound but turned her attention to the archway. It stood to reason that it might be some kind of gateway, though to where she had no idea. As she got closer she saw there was an incantation scribed in the stone.
“Well at least get the jewels while I’m working,” she told Beren tartly, though her heart wasn’t really in it. Her eyes were already working on the incantation. She opened her mouth and began to speak. Her lips working uncertainly around the strange magical tongue. The opals began to shimmer, then blaze. Jocasta’s chant grew smoother and her eyes, at first only reflecting the opalescent glow, began to glow with the same energy. Chill darkness engulfed them, as did a sudden and overpowering sense of evil.
“Jo, I think you should stop,” Beren said, fingering his axe. She continued to chant and the sense of wrongness increased. Darkness gathered across the archway like oil spreading atop a pond, growing deeper and more opaque by the moment.
“Stop!” Beren shouted, grabbing her and shaking her, but she couldn’t. The words continued to pour from her lips in spite of her best efforts. She tried to cover her mouth with her hands, but her lips kept moving, muffled words still emerging. Beren looked around in something like panic, then drew his axe back, as though preparing to knock her senseless. Before he could strike the last strident word of the incantation left her lips. There was a tremendous ripping sound, like the sail of a ship being parted by a falling mast. A charnel stench exploded out of the archway as the darkness parted and something stepped out. It was twenty feet tall and made of plates of blackened chiton. Hulking and massive, its long arms were far out of proportion to its body. They were weirdly jointed and seemed to be all sharp edges and points, giving the impression of a spider that was somehow wearing stilts and walking upright. Its shoulders hulked up around its head, which was skull like but elongated like a horses. Its mouth was filled with foot long fangs, and its three eyes glowed like coals in a dying fire. It had a terrible smell, something between burning hair and cardamom, and arcane energies crackled over its bodies as it stepped free of the arch, three of its hands gripping the stonework as though climbing through a window.
The strange metallic beings continued to march on the pyramid firing as they came. The weird green beams slashed up towards the pyramids where the cultists had made their strong point. Their landspeeders were parked in a rough perimiter around the base of the pyramid creating both a barricade and a series of strong points as the vehicle mounted weapons were turned outward. As I watched one of the chaos worshipers in tattered house armor charged down the side of the pyramid and leaped into the approaching metal men. With mechanical precisions their bayonets flashed, impaling him through the heart and amputating both hands within a single heartbeat. The satchel charge he had been carrying went off in a blinding sheet of flame and smoke. The over pressure knocked us all of our feet, all of us except the metal monstrosities. The leading wave were blasted to fragments that sparked off the walls, but the rest of them continued to advance at a measured walk. It was beyond terrifying. It wasn't just their total lack of fear, nor the absolute implacability they displayed. There was a psyhic hatred that hung in the air, cold and metallic. It was the absolute certainty of the eradication of organic life. I could see that our troops were hanging on by the edge, their eyes were wide and staring, and their fire increasingly wild. I reached out with my gifts in an attempt to bouy their morale. I should have known better. I had thrown my power around a couple of times in Hadrian's service, but I was no combat psyker. A dozen men, paniced and jacked with adrenaline, bit down on my mind.
"OUCH!" I shouted, though I doubt anyone heard anything over the raging gun battle. I staggered sideways as their neural pathways fused slightly in my confusion. I heard screams and curses. Men staggered and stumbled. Then they came up together firing with shocking precision. I realised to my shock and horror that their experiences had been combined like pouring two bottles of amasec. Each man suddenly had hundreds of years of marksmenship training. The green PDF had the battle experience of the veterans, and the veterans had the adrenaline and heightened reflexes of the greenhorns. They poured fire into the enemy, hiting one at a time with coordinated fire. I mostly just tried to stop myself from throwing up.
"Stop them!" someone screamed from the pyramid, in a voice laden with pshycic energy. I felt further pshycic phenomen building, an obscene mixture of human and xenos energies.
"They must be trying to use the xenos technology," I shouted, then, feeling stupid, repeated the same thing through the comm bead.
"Can you stop them?" Hadrian responded, the tenseness in his voice making it clear that he wasn't unaware of the growing storm of power.
I opened my eyes and found myself standing in a metal corridor of similar architecture to the vast chamber in which I had just been standing, though it was far tighter. There was another crack behind me and I spun to see one of the metal men appear out of the air. By pure luck it was facing the otherway, but it immediately began to turn. I lifted the force staff by reflex and unleashed a blast of energy. It was paniced and uncontrolled, but the tip was nearly touching the creature. Frost exploded into existance as a ball of mental force ripped from the staff. The metal creature was ripped to pieces, its arms legs and head blasted off in a spray of greenish light. Most disconcertingly, I caught a glimpse of its head as it careened away, green eyes still staring balefully at me.
"He deserved it," a voice said behind me, I spun in panic trying to level the staff. Hadrian caught the weapon halfway along the length and blocked it.
"Easy," he said soothingly. I relaxed and lowered the weapon.
"What happened?" he asked, stripping the magazine from his weapon and replacing it.
"They used some kind of xenos teleportation device, it is built into the structure I think, the psychic force it required must have been tremendous, and they must know an awful lot more about this place than we do."
Jocasta had to admit that it sort of was, but there didn't seem to be a particularly tactful way to say that.
"I't sort of is," she admitted as she followed Beren along the passageway. As they moved along the tunnel, the stone grew drier and began to cant upward at a slight angle. Clumps of unhealthy looking mushrooms grew at irregular intervals. Jocasta bent down to study one such clump but Beren grabbed her by her arm and hauled her back to his feet.
"Oh come on, these are unique specimens! What is the worst thing that could happen?" she reasoned.
"You could brush against it and inhale a mouthful of spores that would grow in your blood and kill you within a day," Beren informed her. She paused.
"Is that like ... theoretical?" she asked, giving him a suspicious look. He shook his head and they continued onwards. They picked their way through the tunnel for what felt like an hour before they reached a section where it opened out into a gravel bottomed seam. Lichen and other mosses grew in profusion among the small rocks. They had an odd redish cast that suggested they were pulling iron or sulpur from the rocks. There must have been some access to water. Perhaps rains or swells in the groundwater infrequently swept the defile.
"Look at that," Beren said, guesturing upwards. Following his sightline Jocasta saw what he was talking about. Thirty feet up was an opening in the seam wall. It was too precisiely rectangualr to be natural. They just needed someway to get up there.
"Give me the rope," Jocasta instructed and picked some of the spider webbing from her clothing. Wordlessly Beren did so and she tied one end around her waist. That accomplished she rolled the webbing between her fingers and murmered a few words under her breath. Reaching up she pressed one hand to the wall and then lifted herself up and placed the other. Her hands stuck fast to the stone as though covered in glue. Slowly, one hand at a time, she climbed the wall like an insect.
"You might have mentioned you could do that back in the chasm," Beren asked.
"Well climbing the wall wouldn't have helped much with a bloody great troll waiting to cave my head in when I got to the top," she called somewhat breathlessly.
"I suppose that is a fair point," Beren admitted. She pulled herself up into the opening, finding it to be a doorway, complete with lintels, carved into the wall. Jocasta untied the rope and then refastened it around a sturdy looking stone pillar.
"Safe to climb," she called, and began looking around. Like the door, the walls of this passage were carved, giving the illusion of layed stone, despite being a single piece.
"That isn't wierd at all," Jocasta said to herself.
Among the aristocracy of certain worlds there exists a certain flexible interpretation of the Emperor's prohibitions on contact with Xenos. I had, therefore, had the dubious pleasure of meeting a number of non humans at various clandestine parties and gatherings. Often those Xenos had felt strange at a psykic level, esspecially the Alderi I had met on Quentus, but none of them had the dry dreadful feeling that this place had. The drone continued on its path, apparently not deigning to notice us. One of the guardsmen beside me lifted his rifle to track the thing but I reached out and pushed the barrel of his rifle down. I had a sense that this place hadn't yet paid us much attention, but something in the pulsing green glow told me I didn't want that to change.
The trail of our adversaries was easy to follow, it seemed they had simply blasted straight down the central passageway, the mark of their passage written on the floors in a faint sheen of prometheum by product. We moved fast, almost at a jog and my legs continued to complain. I ground my teeth determined to keep up.
"They might be hundreds of miles ahead of us," I complained.
"Actually, given the topography, it can only be fifty three kilometers to the other side of the range. Assuming this instalation remains flat without decending, and that their goal is in the center, they can be no more than twenty one point two five..." Lazarus droned on.
"Its still going to take us hours to cover that..."
"Will the pair of you be silent," Hadrian broke in on the argument, "we have transport en route."
The trio of chimera troop transports that arrived ten minutes later were not what I had expected, but we piled into the back and took our seats on the cushionless troop benches. Despite the exceedingly flat terrain they somehow conspired to rattle and bounce along till I felt like the pea in a whistle.
"Auspex contact," one of the troopers realyed nervously.
There was more marching around than I had imagined. By the time we reached the strange passage my feet were throbbing and my calves were aching. It didn't help that the surface of the planet was so friable, as if the rock itself had grown tired of holding itself together and disintigrated into smaller chunks at anything more the the lightest brush of boots or equipment. No one actually fell, but the idea that the whole planet seemed about to crumble set us all on edge. The portal by contrast was almost terrifying in its solidity, its alien metal seemed to plunge into the very core of the planet, like an ancient eldritch skeleton that the flesh of this world was only now begining to flake away from after eons of extreme dessication. Suffice to say, I didn't care for it.
"I feel, like maybe this isn't such a great idea," I opined but that was more nerves than any serious notion that we should stop at this point. Hadrian lifted the key and slid it into some appature I couldn't see from my vantage. For a moment nothing happened, though it seemed that the strange green pulsations grew slightly more intense. Then, like a distant gathering sunrise the runes flashed and blazed, growing so bright I had to shut my eyes and wish I'd worn a throne dammned helmet. There was a sound too, or something like a sound, a kind of weird eerie wail that pushed on the skin like a stormfront or a psywave that was just about to form. There was a sudden and tremendous outrush of air, it blasted out, whipping up grit in an obscuring curtain that stank of something metallic and alien that made me grab for my rebreather. As quickly as it had begun it was over and I could see the outline of a portal wide enough for three groundcars to pass through. The dust filled air sucked in and out around it in a series of unstable currents, settling slowly to the ground.
"I guess we..." One of the Guardsman beside me snapped sideways and collapsed, connected for a moment to the track of burning dust a long las had carved in the floating dust. One of the PDF troops caught me in a tackle from behind as a second bolt ripped through the space I had previously occupied. Everything was chaos. Two guardsman dropped down beside me, I thought they had been hit until one unfolded the bipod on some kind of belt fed weapon. It ripped out a burst of fire at something I couldn't see, vast star shapped muzzle blasts reflecting dizzingly. Hot casing scattered over my arm smouldering against the fabric of my dress. Someone was screaming about auspex contacts and I managed to get to my feet just in time to see a dozen landspeeders, big green and gold house models were screaming towards us in a phalanx, trailing pieces of camo-netting and anti-auspex screen behind them like streamers. Weapons fire flashed from nose cannons and pintle mounts. Bolter rounds exploded all around me and I squirmed behind a boulder. Las fire was cracking all around me as our own troops returned fire, scrambling for what cover they could. I saw one of the guardsman decapitated as he tried to drag a fellow into cover, then the world shook as Lazarus fired his trans-uranic arquebus. The lead vehicle folded up into a fireball that raced along on its own momementum for a few seconds before it hit the ground and went up in a secondary blast that scattered components over half a kilometer of desolation. The blast knocked a second speeder into a third, the second speeder regained control but the third veered right in an increasingly wide circle. I saw the crew try to bail out a second before it slammed into one of the stone spires, the resulting exposlion shattered thousands of pounds of monolith into gravel in an instant.
I lifted up my las pistol with a notion to do something, though what I thought I was going to do against millitary grade armored speeders I dont know. They were coming on at a tremendous rate, lifing vast rooster tails of dust for miles behind. Gunfire roared in both directions and I saw another speeder come appart in a storm of small calibre hits, its frontal armor and engine cowling peeling away like a sandcastle in the rain.
"They aren't going to be able to turn..." I started to say, though no one could hear me over the din, but as soon as I had said it I realized they werent planning on it.
"Down!" I screamed, and it was more than just a word. Every guardsman and pdf trooper involuntarily threw themseleves to the dirt a second before the twelve or so surviving speeders ripped past overhead, the jetwash shoving us hard enough into the dust that my ribs creaked. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw Hadrian on his back, somehow having managed to get his pistol free and fire a trio of shots into the underside of one of the vehicles. It pitched up onto its side, clipped the entrance and cartwheeld through the portal after its fellows in a spray of prometheum and debris. I managed to get to my hands and knees and get a good look at the portal for the first time. Beyond the great entryway stretched a collossal corridor a hundred feet tall and nearly as far across. Great pillars covered with glowing green runes stretched off into the distance beyond the limit of my eyes. The landspeeders raced away, seeming to move very slowly for the tremendous turn of speed I knew they had. They had been waiting for us to open the door. And now they were inside and ahead of us.