“Eye of The Needle”
Hello again. Here’s the latest instalment of our continuing saga, detailing the adventures of the Rogue Trader ship Seraph, and her crew.
No sooner had the Explorers reached the lip of the platform, their enemies reacted. Klous, the Catachan pit fighter was quick, quicker than most men alive, but even he was left flat footed by the graceful aliens. As he appeared at the edge of the platform, one of the warlocks ceased its activity and, moving quicker than he thought possible, drew a sword in one fluid movement and advanced on him. The long, ornate blade crackled with arcane power as the warlock channelled his wrath through it. His sword still sheathed on his back, Klous had two options: leap back and off the platform, plunging to death or serious injury, or roll forward onto the platform and into the eldritch witchfire that covered it.
He rolled forward, the Eldar’s psychic blast missing him by scant millimetres. Psychic flame scorched him as he moved but he was still in one piece. A second warlock moved passed him to engage his brother Seth, who rolled into the flames too. Energy crackled around Seth as he unslung his belt of grenades, pulled their pins, and hurled them onto the far side of the platform.
Seth, too eager to cause destruction amongst his foes, had badly miscalculated. As he threw, the rest of his colleagues had gained the platform too and, as the grenades detonated, shredding one of the warlocks, some of them were also caught in the blast. Kiara cried out as hot shrapnel lanced into her, only fortune kept her from plunging over the side to her death.
Seth had no time to regret his decision. His sword weaving faster than the Catachan warrior could follow, a warlock struck out at him, slicing easily through the armour that covered his left arm, almost severing it completely. Seth reeled back in shock, stunned by the massive damage done to him, unable to do anything but watch as a surgical second strike neatly removed the crippled arm at the shoulder. Darkness claimed him as he stumbled, his last thought one of falling as he pitched off the temple roof…
All was chaos on the temple platform. The most strong willed of the explorers had little difficulty protecting themselves from the worst of the witchfire, but protecting themselves from the Eldar’s witchblades was another matter. Only Felkin Stross, the Seraphs erstwhile Captain, seemed unperturbed, dodging and weaving his opponents blows almost as if he knew they were coming.
Kiara was faring less well, wounded and outclassed she fell back on her strength and opened her warp eye to unleash the very power of the empyrean on her foes. She screamed again as the light of the Eldar witchfire almost blinded her. Concentration broken, her skin scorched at the etheric flames touch.
Amidst the confusion, no one had noticed the arrival of a dark, sleek shape. It flashed over the fern forests towards them and, with the planets atmosphere tearing at it, slammed down into the clearing. Hatches sprang open and those of the Explorers left behind at the crash site spilled out, rushing to their comrades aid. Finding the crumpled form of Klous at the temple base, they were amazed that he yet lived.
While his companions attempted to stabilize the fallen Catachan, Duke the Astropath, began the climb to the top. Quickly reaching the combat torn platform, Duke wasted no time. One of the Eldar had its back to him, its arms raised as it channelled the psychic storm that would remove the temple from time and space. Drawing his plasma pistol he fired.
His aim was not fantastic but, as shots scorched the warlock’s arm and side, he realised he had at least broken its concentration. The witchfire died away but the alien psyker turned quickly to him and, drawing its keening blade as it came, charged him.
Klous, enraged at his brothers fate, had torn into the Eldar like a man possessed. Already two of the graceful humanoids lay at his feet, slain in a welter of blood and anger. Raising his eyes he watched helplessly as Duke fell, a terrible wound in his leg. Charging recklessly forward he swung his great blade, catching the Eldar in the side as it turned, almost cleaving it in half. Nearby another alien psyker died, its body incinerated by Stross’ plasma pistol.
Only two warlocks remained. Realising they stood no chance against the vengeful crew, they disengaged, fading from view as they did and leaving the crew in possession of that which they had been seeking.
Despite her wounds, Kiara studied the temple floor and its intricate designs. Although damaged and scoured, she quickly realised what it was she was seeing; a star chart! Although the position of the Dread Pearl was obliterated she was certain the other patterns corresponded to other worlds in the Koronus Expanse, worlds she could locate easily enough.
Time was of the essence though, while Kiara studied the map, Stross stood listening intently at the edge of the clearing. Somewhere in the jungle, only a few kilometres away, a desperate firefight was taking place. It seemed that some of their rivals had encountered each other, out there, in the wilderness, and were fighting fiercely. A static filled message from the Seraph confirmed it. Despite intermittent power failures the crew had detected three more ships in system; the frigate, Fel Hand, the light cruiser Nihontu and an as yet unidentified, Raider class vessel.
It was time to go….