My name is Inquisitor Reykur Alvitur. It’s been five days since the destruction of the Erathion and sixteen hours since I arrived on Avus IV. This world is so loud. It screams at me and I hear every note of its shock, confusion and fear but there is one voice loud enough to cut through the rest of the world. I have been tasked to track down deserters from the Erathion, ascertain their guilt and then do what must be done. When I find this one though there will be no doubt as to their guilt, for it is their warp touched soul that calls to me.
We are in the sewers below Bastila Secundus, my lifeward Ana and I. The stench is nigh unbearable.
“Are you certain this is the place?” Ana asks me. She is new to my service and not yet accustomed to my methods.
“Undoubtedly.” I have followed the deserters screams from the moment we made planetfall. As we drew closer I have seen his face, paralysed with fear. I have been plagued with the smell of blood and human waste from ten miles away.
Ana takes the lead through the pitch dark tunnels. Her stablight reveals symbols smeared onto the rockcrete in blood and filth. Symbols I recognise all too well. Mercifully Ana does not and she has the wisdom not to ask.
We have been descending beneath the city for almost thirty minutes when we encounter life. Torches set in sconces carved from human bones have burned low but their embers lend a dull illumination. Through it, four figures emerge. They are emaciated, near naked and their skin is deathly pale. Their wrists, legs and throats are streaked with trails of dry blood. I have read of them in the reports of those who came before me, the Cult of the Severed Veins. They stare at us in silence, as if confused as to what creatures have entered their nest.
“Stand aside by order of the Inquisition!” Ana barks.
“They will not listen to order or reason. They are heretics. Treat them as such Sergeant Bask,” I instruct her, addressing her as the soldier she is.
She does not hesitate. The shotgun in her hands roars echoing deafeningly off the close bare walls. The first of the cultists flies back, a bloody hole in her torso. The other three wake from their stupor, lunging forward with shivs and meat hooks drawn from the folds of their sparse clothing. Ana kills the second before he can take three steps. The third gets almost to arms reach before his head explodes but his death allows the last to touch her. His meat hook bites into the flesh of Ana’s forearm. She loses her grip on the shotgun’s trigger. I take a step to intervene but before I can Ana has used the heretics own weapon to draw him into a headbutt that breaks his nose and his grip on his weapon. Ana takes him by the head, pulverises his skull against the sewer wall and casts him into the stream of filth that flows beside us. I am again assured that I have chosen my lifeward well.
“You can continue,” I say.
“Yes my lord,” Ana replies as she removes the hook and discards it.
“We are close,” I say and gesture ahead with my cane.
There is a chamber built off the main tunnel. The heavy iron door creaks as Ana forces it open. On the ground is a young man in the tattered shreds of a naval uniform laid atop a pile of threadbare hessian sacks. His skin is as pale as the cultists, the reason why grotesquely obvious. Tubes extend from his wrists, his inner thighs and his clavicles. They snake across the floor to another man sat slumped against the wall. His blood stains mark him as a cultist but his skin is healthier, his eyes brighter. Those eyes lock onto me as we enter the room.
“You can’t have him! His blood is saturated with power! He is mine!” the cultist snarls at us like an animal.
Despite what has been done to him the voidsman lives. He mutters and murmurs and writhes on the ground. I nod to Ana. She steps towards the cultist, draws her autopistol and puts three shots into him before he can stand. Then she points it at the voidsman.
“Not yet,” I tell her as I stand beside the young man’s head and join my mind with his.
Steel walls. A void craft. The Erathion. Though warm one second I am frozen the next. Someone whispers my name, Yannick Aikea, I look for them. No-one is there, but still they whisper. I follow their voice, through the corridors down into the arming chambers. Where should stand hundreds there is only one. He is still, staring down at his feet. There was an accident here, weeks ago. Someone died, on that spot. I tell them to identify themselves. He looks at me. Half his face is missing and his chest is caved inwards. He speaks one word that I don’t understand but the world goes silent and spins and I fall. He stands over me and for an instant he is him and not him, a swirling visage of horns and claws and fire around him. I scream and scramble to my feet and run directly for an escape pod. I do not care that I am abandoning my post. I must escape the Erathion.
I am back in the sewer.
“Are you alright my lord?”
“Yes. We have what we came for. Grant him mercy.”
Ana nods and puts a bullet in the head of Yannick Aikea. The screaming in my head finally stops.
“Let us be away Ana. We are not yet done on this world.”