Crucible of the Lily

BY : SinfulWolf
Category: +S through Z > Warhammer 40,000
Dragon prints: 1239
Disclaimer: Warhammer 40,000, and the characters within are property of Games Workshop. I do not own it, nor have any affiliation with it. I make no money from this fan fiction.

Author's Note: A project I've been dabbling in. I'm posting the first chapter here to see if there's interest in it. Hopefully you guys like it, and I do hope the tale within is as fun as the sex that will be throughout. I'm planning to embrace the dark and gory parts of Warhammer 40k, as much as the debauchery that Slaanesh will bring.


 

Chapter 1: The Storm Approaches




The hull of the Arvus lighter class transport ship rumbled as it descended into the atmosphere. Its hull surely wreathed with flame as it left the Piety class cruiser of the Adeptas Sororitas behind in the void of space. The six passengers sat in silence in the hold, the two novice hospitaller warily watching between the strapped crates of medical supplies stacked in with them, and the sanctioned psyker beside them. For his part the bald man with cables jutting out from the plates hammered into his skull ignored the two sisters, instead keeping his eyes closed as his body bounced with the turbulence. Across from the psyker, the techpriest looked out from under their red hood. Glowing mechanical eyes scanned the cables and machinery of the Arvus’s interior, seemingly undisturbed by the bustling ship.

When the arvus finally descended beyond the upper atmosphere the rattle of supplies and metal settled to white noise. Inquisitor Cornelius Blackwin looked at the oddity on board with him. A middle aged woman wearing black robes trimmed with purple; the colours of the Order of the Silent Lily. Her fingers ran over the beads of her rosary as she whispered prayers too quiet for Cornelius to hear. Her eyes closed, she paid no attention to her surroundings, her dark brown hair threaded with twinkles of grey and bound in a tight braid.

“Impressive to see a sister return from the repentia. Though, I will admit it is odd that you had to do so with the Order of Our Martyred Lady,” Cornelius said, and the woman’s lips stopped moving. For a moment she simply sat there, before her eyes opened and looked up at the Witch Hunter. Her eyes were Cadian violet, and they held the Inquisitor firmly.

“Our Order is small, and Nyxate has seen little conflict. The Cannoness decreed that my penance should be done with another order to see it accomplished. They did not expect my return,” she said, and Cornelius nodded slowly.

“So you have achieved redemption in His eyes,” Cornelius said.

“So says the Ecclesiarchy. But you know this; surely you’ve studied me well before you got onto this ship,” the battle sister said with her hard gaze. Cornelius smiled softly and lifted his gloved hands.

“Of course. Sister Lyniah, sent five standard years ago to the Sisters Repentia for heretical thoughts. Six standard months ago your penance was deemed complete after killing an Ork warboss single handedly, and helping save an Astartes of the Black Templar. Yet, it is my mandate to be suspicious, sister. I wonder if killing an Ork is truly enough to cleanse the mind and soul of heresy,” Cornelius said, and the two hospiallier sisters glanced at each other nervously. The psyker cracked one eye to glance at the two.

Lyniah did not rise to the comment. Her thumb ran over the beads again, while her shoulders lifted in a shrug.

“That is a discussion for the Canonesses of the Martyred Lady, and the Silent Lily. As well as the Ecclesiarchy. They have deemed me pure in His eyes, where you will see none,” she said, and Cornelius smirked.

“Perhaps,” Cornelius said as the arvus soared over farmland and small towns that dotted the surface of Nyxate. Towards the planet’s capital of Artemia. “But politics mar what is right sister.”

At this, Lyniah smiled. Her eyes still held their iron set, but her lips curled. She thumbed at her rosary again, before she slipped it over her head.

“So does fear, Witch Hunter. The Emperor protects, and I remain his bright flame in the darkness. Whatever you might think.”

Cornelius watched the battle sister as she leaned back in her seat. The light of the ship’s interior made the scar on her chin glimmer slightly. The puckered flesh ran from the point of her face and up to her cheek bone. She stared at him, that smirk of hers unfading. The inquisitor let out an amused huff, impressed by the woman.

The pilot’s voice came over the vox system, the ship’s machine spirit giving her a metallic tint.

“Five minutes out from the convent. We are over Artemia now.”

All six passengers glanced upwards toward the built-in speaker at the words, before their eyes turned back. The rattle of the crates and rumble of the engines filled the silence as the arvus screamed over the spires, plazas, and concrete of Nyxate’s capital city.

Lyniah bowed her head once more, eyes closed as her lips moved in prayer. Cornelius watched her, unsure what to make of the battle sister. The two hospitallers soon joined Lyniah in prayer as Cornelius felt the ship make a sharp bank. The pitch of the engine’s whine shifted and Cornelius felt the shift in his gut as they began to descend.

The landing gear hit the pad with a loud thump, and shortly the engines simmered down to silence. Cornelius grunted and reached for the safety harness’s buckle, the three sisters doing the same without a sound. The psyker let out a grunt as he got to his feet, while the tech priest seemed more interested in the machinery around them. A hydraulic hiss filled the hold as the rear ramp lowered to show Cornelius his first personal look at Nyxate, in the heart of an Adepta Sororitas preceptory.

The landing pad was impressively clean, and the various space craft of the order neatly arranged and ready for flight when needed. Walls covered in edifices of various saints and the Emperor towered above him at all sides, with a few large doors that led into the compound proper. Arrayed behind the arvus were twenty battle sisters in full regalia, with the Cannoness of the Silent Lily standing at their head. Her purple robes fluttered with the purity seals and cloth of her sisters, while a metal ball of incense swayed by the chain around her hips. Her deeply lined visage stared at Cornelius and Lyniah as they walked down the ramp and onto the landing pad.

Behind the armoured Sisters Militant, were Sisters of the Madriga. Their song carried through the landing pad, echoing off the walls with its beauty and purity. The hoods of their robes were up, only their mouths moving in perfect synchronisation seen, as they held candles before themselves.

Once Lyniah’s feet left the metal of the ship, Cannoness Praxea strode forward and took hold of the returning sister’s shoulders. She ignored Cornelius entirely, to which he smirked and let out another huffed laugh. That earned him a cough and glare from one of the honour guard nearby.

Praxea ignored the exchange and leaned in to kiss Lyniah’s cheeks.

“The Emperor smiles upon us this day. You return with His light upon you and pushed back the darkness. Take the remainder of the day to settle Sister Lyniah, I will see to you this evening to assign you. At first bell, you will rejoin your sisters in prayer,” Praxea said, and Lyniah bowed her head, while her hands formed the aquila at her chest.

“At your behest Cannoness. I live to serve His will,” Lyniah said, and Praxea offered a genuine warm smile.

“Sister Superior Kylina will guide you to your quarters. I had wished for more ceremony but... the storm approaches, and there are other articles that demand my attention,” Praxea said, and Lyniah bowed once more.

One of the sisters stepped out of formation and turned to face her sister. Lyniah stepped around the cannoness to join her. Cornelius watched them embrace, the chaste kisses they pressed to their cheeks. Side by side the two departed, most of the honour guard going with them, along with the cloaked figures of the Madriga sisters.

As the procession vanished along with the angelic song, Praxea turned to face the inquisitor. The warmth she had but a moment ago washed away, and Cornelius found himself pinned under the woman’s cold brown gaze. Before she could get a word in though, Cornelius spoke.

“A storm, Cannoness?” he asked.

The storm, Inquisitor. Since the great rift, Nyxate is wracked with a warp storm every three standard years. Predictable enough that we can set the calendar by it should we wish,” Praxea said, and Cornelius frowned.

“I had heard that this planet suffered such things, I did not realise how... ordered it was,” he said as he crossed his arms and cupped his chin. His thumb brushed a bit of stubble that had grown across his jaw. It was not suitable that the Administratum was so lax in keeping these records. Or had he simply missed it? The latter was perhaps more worrisome. “Regardless, the storm is not why I am here. The sickness that is spreading across your planet has been alarming. It has reached the ears of the Ordo Hereticus, and it is our belief that a cult may well be operating here.”

To affirm his point, Cornelius gestured to one of the side doors and the four servitors that entered. The metal covering much of their bodies gleamed, their hands replaced with metal prongs to lift. They ambled across the landing pad towards the arvus, where the Hospitaller sisters awaited with their cargo.

Praxea glanced at them briefly as they wandered up the ramp, and grasped the first large crate.

“It’s certainly a possibility. I will not stand in the way of your hunt Inquisitor. But these storms bring with them heresy. Small cults that bubble to the surface, and they must be swept away with holy fire, lest they fester. I will aid as I can, but we are about to face conflict and I need the sisters of my order ready.”

Cornellius nodded. He turned to depart the landing pad, but Praxea held up a hand and stalled him. He stood his ground and turned his head towards her.

“This is not a hive world Inquisitor. There is far less desperation, more eyes, more law, and the masks worn by heretics must be more convincing for it. Beware Artemia’s calm and quiet. Beneath the waters danger still lurks,” she said, and Cornelius furrowed his brows. At that, Praxea smirked. “You are not the only one who does their research Inquisitor.”

With those final words the Cannoness turned on her heel and left. Cornelius watched her go, before he looked back over his shoulder to see the second of the large medical crates being unloaded from the arvus.

~***~

The thump of power armoured footsteps sounded through the column studded halls of the preceptory as Kylina led the returned Sister Lyniah to her personal quarters. Exquisitely carved reliefs of saints, and the Emperor stood out between each column. The Madriga sisters had branched off to return to the chapels and continue their choirs, while the honour guard had slipped off to continue training and maintaining their gear.

For the storm was coming, and Kylina had a bad feeling about this one. The presence of an Inquisitor only helped reinforce that terrible feeling in her gut.

Lyniah’s voice cut through her thoughts.

“Congratulations are in order Sister Superior. How late am I in delivering that?” she said, and Kylina glanced over at her to see a soft smile on her features.

“Six months. Brought back from one of the missions, and given my own squad. Thank you Sister. Though, we are long friends, and I’m not expecting you to use my rank... at least in private,” Kylina replied, and enjoyed the growth of her old friend’s warm smile.

“Good. Much as I know you are deserving, I’d much rather have your friendship than another superior,” Lyniah said, turning down another hallway as Kylina did.

The pair of them passed by a training hall, where Sisters sparred clad in purple tunics and black form fitting pants. Their skin glistened with sweat as they moved about each other with fake knives in hands. Lyniah paused to watch, her hands folded into the sleeves of her robe. Kylina stopped beside her, yet none of the sisters looked over from their training and exercise. Well muscled forms moved with grace and power.

After a moment, Lyniah spoke softly.

“It will be strange, to have something other than an eviscerator in my hands again. I have longed for the bark of a bolter,” she said, and Kylina nodded.

“Soon. You will get your chance soon,” Kylina said, and Lyniah looked over at her. For a moment Lyniah’s eyes danced across the small cuts below Kylina’s lips, before she spoke up.

“The storm. It has you nervous,” she said, and Kylina nodded.

“Trust your gut. That’s what you used to tell me. That it would tell me things faith and doctrine wouldn’t.”

“Careful. Lessons like that are part of what got me sent to the Repentia. But... I still stand by it,” Lyniah said, and Kylina nodded, before she turned and gestured down the hall. Lyniah followed with her, the sounds of sparring fading behind them.

“We have fought cultists many times during these storms. But the plague, and that Inquisitor, make me think something else is coming, and the reading of the Emperor’s Tarot has been… unclear. We are ready, but we will lose sisters,” Kylina said, and Lyniah tilted her head a moment, then let out a hushed laugh. “What?”

“It has been some time since I’ve heard concern over our lives. The Order of our Martyred Lady is rather zealous in living up to that name,” Lyniah said as they turned once more and walked through a door.

The new hall was far quieter, with a far lower roof and a more subtle touch of the incense that floated through the remainder of the preceptory. The walls were smoother here, with only a single relief mounted above the door at the far end of the hall. There were enough private rooms for each sister of one squad in this dorm, the larger at the end for their sister superior. Two other doors led to rooms for the novices that would aid the Battle Sisters in preparation for battle, and another two led to the baths. One for the sisters, the other for the novices.

“Life is worth living. Isn’t that why we fight?” Kylina said as Lyniah frowned at that door at the end of the hall.

“So that others might. Our own souls were claimed when we made our vows,” Lyniah said, not taking her eyes from the door. Kylina knew her friend’s frustrations. Lyniah had the quarters and rank of Sister Superior before she was sentenced. Now, returned, back to a rank and file.

“Our own are still worth living as well. Now, your room is the third on the left,” Kylina said, gesturing to one of the closed doors.

Lyniah walked up to it. Her name had been carefully carved into the surface. The sharp edges showed her just how fresh it was. She lifted her hand, and ran her fingers over the High Gothic lettering, and closed her eyes.

“Home. Never thought I’d be here again,” Lyniah said, and reached to the side to activate the door. It slid open with a hiss to reveal the interior.

While rather spartan compared to many in the Imperium, it was a mass improvement over the squalid little cell she’d slept in with her time in the repentia. A bed with fresh linen and soft pillows. A desk with a few books of holy verses, and edicts resting upon its surface. A silver embossment of the Ecckesiarchal I was pressed higher on the wall, a skull with an iron halo in its centre. Lyniah looked upon it a moment, and made the sign of the aquila over her chest.

“The Emperor protects, and he has forgiven,” Kylina said, and Lyniah bowed her head a moment, whispered prayers falling from fast moving lips. When she lowered her hands she stepped into the room, to see its remainder.

A small door beside the bed led to a private toilet, while one wall was dominated by an armour and weapon stand. Lyniah’s breath caught a moment as she looked at the black power armour with the purple cloth that hung from hips and shoulders. Its silver fleur-de-lis on the left knee and right pauldron, and the silver aquila upon the left. Carefully held by clamps and hooks, the armour looked well preserved, maintained. To its left hung a black body glove, while on the right was a black coloured Godwyn-De’az pattern bolter, with its silver fleur-de-lis stamped on the side.

She shuffled over to it, and looked down to see on a stand were the tools and holy oils required to maintain the equipment. Her gaze soon snapped up, her hands reverently running over the armour. Her eyes closed, feeling the old dents in the ceramite. The familiar and subtle brush of the machine spirit within had Lyniah bowing her head again.

“You kept it,” she said, her voice a scarce whisper. Kylina stood in the doorway, watching as Lyniah fell to her knees, hands pressed together. Now she looked up upon her armour, and Kylina saw tears down her cheeks. “My armour. My bolter,” she said.

“None thought it right to reissue them. Not yet, anyway. Sarea was most adamant on that,” Kylina said, and Lyniah’s gaze snapped back over her shoulder.

“Sarea. Does she remain out with the missions?” Lyniah asked. There was longing in her voice, and she looked as vulnerable as Kylina had ever seen her.

“No. She returned to the preceptory two years ago, but these days is often at the nearby hospice caring for the plague victims. I am sure she’d want to see you now that you’ve returned,” Kylina said, and Lyniah nodded slowly. She turned her gaze back to her armour.

“Thank you, my friend. But, I think I would like to be alone a moment, if you don’t mind,” Lyniah said, and Kylina nodded, stepping back. The door closed before her, and Kylina sighed. Her friend seemed changed,but she was not entirely sure how. She would have to search, and dig, for she truly did not want to have to kill Lyniah in the coming days.

With a turn, Kylina left the dorm to find her own. It was time to get back into robes, for there was much to be done still.

~***~

The plague ward stank of death, rot, shit, and vomit, swirled together into a vile stench that almost sank through Curia Advance Sarea’s rebreather. That the hospice even needed a plague ward was concern enough for the Hospitaller Sister, as she moved from one writhing man covered in boils and sores, to a woman clutching her gut and sobbing as pus wept from a sore on her neck.

“What could cause such a thing?” one of the novice sisters drafted as a nurse said, her own rebreather tinting her voice as she held out a vial of blue fluids to Sarea.

“There are many potential causes. Some natural, some with the taint of the warp. But there are too many variables to make a guess. A squad has taken Curia Advance Bellane to the village suspected to be the source. Hopefully we can make a calculated assessment then. Until then the Emperor guides our hands,” Sarea said, and the novice started to make the sign of the aquila. “Urgency girl. This is not the chapel.”

The novice jumped at the sharp tone, but pushed her hands out again for Sarea to take. She turned her hand up to look at the white box-like chirurgeon tool strapped to her forearm. Her fingers danced across the display and an empty vial of antibiotic painkillers popped out towards her elbow. She quickly handed the empty to the novice before sliding the new one into place with a click.


The antibiotics were the only things that seemed to even slow the decay of the body. But none of her treatments were working. She’d been unable to find anything in the preceptory’s library that exactly matched this plague. Combined with the worrisome results from the Emperor’s Tarot that the psykers and Cannoness were still trying to decipher, Sarea was starting to suspect that the touch of Chaos may be the most plausible hypothesis. She huffed, and moved over to another patient. She had treated this man not twenty minutes ago; changed his bandages and cleaned out the open sores. But already pus was turning the white linen a sickly yellow.


“Hold this one down. He’s been trembling, and I need a clean injection,” Sarea told her novice nurse, who nodded and hurried to the man’s side. She pulled straps on the table over his legs and chest, then grasped his forearm and shoulder to keep him still. The man looked up with pained eyes. Blood vessels had burst in them, filling the sclera with crimson.


Sarea’s fingers danced over the pad on her wrist, adjusting the dosage of medicine to a higher level. Hopefully this would help some, but she still couldn’t be certain. Not anymore. With another button press, a needle slid out from its port, leaving scant inches between her hand and the slender metal point, internally cleansed by the chirurgeon tool.


“Be calm sir. This will help,” Sarea told the man, and hoped she was not lying. She slid the needle into his bicep and watched him wince as the drugs pumped into his system. The man squirmed, and the nurse clenched on him tighter to keep the needle from breaking off in his arm. With a soft beep, the chirurgeon tool’s display flashed green and the needle snapped back into its place to be cleansed.


Sarea took a step back from the man, who only whimpered as the nurse let go of him.


“Replace his bandages. And ask one of the others to get me a report on our stock,” Sarea told the nurse, who nodded and scurried towards the back to retrieve the supplies she needed.


With a deep sigh, Sarea watched the man for a moment. She knew there would be no immediate reaction. Time, patience, and study were the ways to defeat this plague. But she didn’t even know if it was a virus, or bacteria… or worse. They knew so nothing, other than that it was spreading quick, and was intensely lethal. Outside the city limits the pyres of the dead grew larger and larger as freighters shipped the corpses out.


“Emperor protect this man. Spare him the pain, and let him return to his home and family, that he may serve your glory for many years to come,” Sarea said and formed the sign of the aquila, before laughter caught her attention. She frowned at this, and dropped her hands to her sides; she had not heard laughter in this hospice for some time now.


Another patient, one who’d only arrived earlier today, had sat up in his bed and started to cackle. Cold sweat glimmered on his skin, and blood trickled from his eyes and nose. His laughter was interrupted by a coughing fit. Thick globs of phlegm spattered over his thighs, but the laughing soon rose up again. Bile dribbled over his cracked lips as he scratched at boils across his chest and tore them open. Pus coursed downwards to his belly in thick rivulets as Sarea got to his side.


He looked up at her with crimson filled eyes and grinned. Thin strings of saliva and bile poured between his teeth. Sarea reached under her white robes, and found the bolt pistol holstered at her hip.


“Grandfather embraces us. Why do you fight his embrace?” he said, and coughed again. Sarea flicked her thumb and unlatched the holster. Her fingers curled around the pistol’s grip and pulled it free. “I’m coming Grandpappy! Take me to your garden.”


The barrel of Sarea’s bolt pistol slammed against the man’s forehead hard enough to knock his head back and break skin.


“Heretic,” she hissed and squeezed the trigger. The bolt slammed into his skull and burst. Rot and brain matter splattered across the wall, chips of bone pattered on the floor. The man’s tongue flopped uselessly, nothing remaining above his jaw that now hung over his neck by bare sinews.


The body slumped back onto the bed with a splatter of blood. Patients around were clutching their ears, screaming or both. Planetary Defense soldiers burst into the room with lasguns shouldered. The young nurse was running back across the room, her bundle of bandages dropped somewhere behind her. Other Hospitaller nurses and civilian medicea were moving among the other patients in the room, doing what they could to calm them down.


The soldiers looked at each other, before they slowly lowered their weapons, then started to back away. Sarea ignored them and looked at the approaching nurse.


“Sister Curia, was he...” the woman trailed off and Sarea studied her a moment as the young woman composed herself.


“Get used to such sights. Your future will be full of them. For now, get some other nurses and get this body out back. It must be burned, immediately. We have no time to get it to the pyres,” Sarea commanded. The nurse nodded and rushed away again, certainly taking the lesson of urgency to heart.


Within moments the body was being pushed away on a gurney, while one of the medicea was mopping the blood off the wall and floor. She did it with a steely eyed gaze, until a chunk of brain fell from the ceiling onto her shoulder. Sarea watched the woman’s complexion turn a tint of green, but she managed to hold in her lunch as she brushed the chunk away, leaving a smear of crimson along her white coat.


The remaining patients had mostly calmed now, as much as they could. Most returned to the writhing and whimpering as they suffered from whatever ailment had claimed them. After that display though, Sarea’s hypothesis was leaning far more heavily towards warp taint.


A gloved hand settled on her shoulder, and Sarea snapped her head up, while her finger slipped into the trigger guard of her bolt pistol. But the other was another Sister, clad in the veil and armour of a Curia Advance. Bits of metal covered her forehead, one robotic eye glowed as she looked upon her sister.


“Get some rest Sister. You’ve been here twenty Emperor damned hours. Go back to the preceptory, get some food. Get some sleep,” the new Hospitaller said and gave a firm squeeze that Sarea could somehow feel through her carapace armour.


“You're right. Of course. Thank you, and Emperor protect,” she said. The new arrival gave a deep nod before she started doing a sweep of the plague ward, while Sarea turned and left the large room.


She had to go through three decontamination chambers to get out into the street. Where incense swirled around her with young sisters praying to Him to cleanse her of any warp taint, while disinfectant cleansed her body and clothes at each station. Each stop ate at her patience more, until she finally stepped out onto the quiet streets. Concrete structures towered above her, but beyond them lay the black sky and its myriad of stars. 
The stretch of the Imperium. How many of those systems were under threat this moment? How many Eldar corsairs, Chaos Incursions, or Ork invasions were ripping apart the very stars she looked at now? Despite it all, she enjoyed the sight of the twin moons, and the peace they often brought her.


Among those stars she saw the faint flash of reds and violets. A sign of the coming warp storm. A violent one, if what had happened inside was any indication. Homes around her had their windows and doors shut tight, and no one was out that had a place to hide. The storm was far too close. Not even cargo haulers or the city’s transit were moving now. Just the occasional street cleaning servitor, or chimera full of soldiers from the Planetary Defence Force.


Stepping away from the hospice, Sarea heard the whoosh of a flamer. She paused to look back, and saw the glow of fire emanating from the alley behind the hospice. She waited a moment, before walking over and peeking around the corner.


One must never give up on vigilance in His name.


She saw one of the sisters, a Hospitaller Advance with a flamer in hand. On the concrete was the body of the heretic. Bags containing the chunks of him that had been cleaned from the walls were placed carefully on top of him. All of it was a pyre now. The bags shrinking inwards as they melted under the intensity of the heat. The body crisping, skin cracking open to let the flames lick deeper into muscle and bone.


The sister glanced up and saw Sarea, but she said nothing and immediately returned her attention to the task before her. 


It might have been safer to transport the body to the pyres outside the city, but Sarea did not want to risk this man’s taint any more than they had. His maladies were spiritual as much as they were physical. So she made the sign of the aquila, and bowed her head in respect before departing again.


She walked slowly back to the preceptory, enjoying the calm and quiet that was only interrupted by the occasional whirring of a nearby servitor, or the rumble of a chimera’s engines as it rumbled by. She enjoyed the solitary moment, the first in over twenty hours.


When she came to the great plaza that held the preceptory, Sarea paused in awe as she often did. She stood there upon the marble slabs of the plaza’s ground, and stared up at the towering spiked spires, peaked roofs, and the many frescos of saints, and the Emperor that adorned the compound. The occasional distant flash of the coming warp storm still glinted off the beautiful stained glass windows that dotted the sides. Sarea breathed it in. A marvel of humanity’s engineering, and symbol of faith.


Two sisters in full power armour stood guard outside. Unable to see their faces through their helmets, Sarea still knew they were stern faced and vigilant. They were certainly not alone, with servo skulls whirring through the hallways, servitors patrolling the plaza, and the preceptory itself bristling with turrets, the place was a fortress as much as it was a place of worship.


The doors opened as Sarea approached. The stone and metal groaned with the weight, and revealed the grand cathedral of the preceptory’s main building. Four hundred metres from the doors, between marble columns, and flickering candles on thin brass stands, Sarea beheld a grand golden statue of the Emperor; His eyes upon any who walked in through the door. Stepping onto the tiled floors, and moving out from the overhang where the sisters of the Madriga would sing their choirs during prayer, Sarea gazed upon the excellent craftsmanship of the statue. Another sign of humanity’s skill and perfection. She smiled behind her rebreather, before she turned to the side of the cavernous room.


The novices of the night shift paid her no heed as they went about their chores, ensuring the candles were lit and that all was pristine. Some of the battle sisters were knelt by small shrines ensconced into the walls to whisper their solitary prayers, unable to sleep with the coming storm facing them.


She slipped into one of the side hallways, full of other branching corridors, and doors to dormitories, training rooms, and small chapels. As her footsteps echoed down the halls, she reached up to pull her rebreather from her face. It hissed a moment, before she looped it onto her belt. She had thought momentarily of heading to the library, but decided instead on the dining hall. Even this late, there would be something to fill her belly. She could try the library tomorrow, if there was time.


Passing by one of the chapels, Sarea paused as she heard the crack of a whip against flesh. She glanced toward the closed door, and slowly opened it. The slight groan of the door did nothing to conceal the next crack of leather against flesh. Within, knelt a sister before the statue of Saint Moroira; the founding saint of the Order of the Silent Lily. Her dyed white hair was loose and draped forward over her shoulders. She had pulled her robes down to her hips, exposing her back and the many scars and fresh cuts of flagellation across it. The sister turned her head, showing more fresh cuts below her lip where her teeth had dug into flesh.


“Sister Kylina. Excuse the interruption but... you will want that back looked at. You have been quite zealous,” Sarea told her. Not for the first time either. Kylina grunted, and looked forward towards the statue again.


“I must not be weak of flesh, lest my mind decay to the whims of the enemy,” Kylina said. Before Sarea could say another word, Kylina struck herself again. The whip lashed across her back, splitting more skin, letting a fresh trickle of blood run down the groove over her spine.


“Just… come to the infirmary when you are done,” Sarea said, and Kylina let out a grunt. Her lower lip clamped between her teeth once more to stifle the sounds, as the the whip lashed again.


Sarea stepped away, and closed the door to give the sister her privacy, and continued on her way towards the meal hall. The majority of the preceptory was silent. Most sisters were asleep at this hour, exhausted from the day of training, prayer, study, and chores.


Finally getting to her destination, Sarea pushed into the cavernous hall; large enough to fit all members of the preceptory comfortably with room for guests to spare. Long tables ran the length of the room, with plain benches on either side. At the far end were the kitchens, with wide counters in front of the doors for food to be served upon. This time of night they only had a few loaves of bread, butter, a pot of soup, and an ever watched pot of recaf.


There were few enough sisters in here tonight. Mostly the late night novices again, though one sitting by herself near the far wall was of the Order Dialogus. A chunk of bread was sticking from her mouth as she hurriedly scribbled in a thick tome, her red hair a tangled and wild mess that made Sarea sigh. One other sat towards the edge, her back to the wall with head bowed over a steaming cup of recaf. One from the militant order, judging by her robes that couldn’t quite hide the wide set of powerful shoulders.


Sarea paid little attention to her, focused instead on the soup at the far end of the hall. The smell of disinfectant and incense from the hospice still clung to the robes and carried behind her stroll between the tables. Some glanced up at her as she crossed the hall, but quickly returned to whatever business they had.


Except the one battle sister. Her eyes watched Sarea keenly. The Hospitaller could feel them locked onto her back as she filled a bowl with the thin yellow tinted broth, with various vegetables and chunks of meat floating within. Sarea almost wished she had gone to her quarters to bathe and get into more comfortable robes first, but her stomach growled its protest at that renegade thought.


Soup in hand she turned to confront the staring battle sister, and found herself locked with violet eyes.


Her heart skipped in her chest.


Lyniah stared back at her. Those familiar lips set in a calm straight line, her hair perfectly pulled back and braided. The slight arch of her brows unmoving as she watched Sarea.


Regaining her composure, the Hospitaller stepped forward and sat across from the woman she’d not seen for five years. The bowl hit the table with a thunk, and the spoon rattled around inside as Sarea just, stared. She tried to think of something to say, but only cobwebs filled her mind.


Finally she took a breath, and let it out.


“Didn’t think I’d ever get to see you again. I had come to terms with it years ago,” she said, and noticed the slightest quirk of Lyniah’s lips.


“Here I am,” she said.


“I didn’t realize you were coming in today. I had heard you were coming back but... I didn’t think it’d be today,” Sarea said, the steam of the soup rising up in front of her. “Were you waiting for me?”


“I heard you were in the hospice. I remember you always wanting a snack after your shifts. Seems you’ve not changed,” Lyniah offered in response and smiled as she lifted her mug of recaf up to take a sip. That seemed to remind Sarea about the soup before her, but her heart was pounding. Butterflies fluttered through her gut like a damn novice again.


“I’m not taking you back for a shower,” Sarea said, and now a true smile curled Lyniah’s lips, and Sarea regretted the statement immediately. “I’ve... I’ve moved on, Lyniah.”


“Good. You and I both know I wasn’t supposed to come back. I’m glad you found some peace,” Lyniah said, and Sarea let out a low breath.


“I didn’t imagine you’d take it so well.”


“I can’t say I’m not disappointed. I missed you. I loved you... still, love you. But, I’m happy you found peace,” Lyniah said and started to rise, but Sarea reached out and caught her wrist.


“Stay. Please. I...” Sarea chewed over her next words, trying to think of what to say, but Lyniah quietly sat down again.


“You should eat, then you should go to your dorm and bathe,” the battle sister said. Sarea nodded, and looked down at her soup. She took hold of the spoon and stirred it about a moment, before lifting it to her mouth.


It was hot still, the broth surprisingly flavourful, the meat tender. She didn’t savour it too much, instead, wolfing it down as Lyniah chuckled and sipped at her recaf.


“And maybe some laundry,” Lyniah said and Sarea paused. She looked up to see Lyniah grinning and giving a shrug. Her lower lip poked out slightly, and the temptation to lean forward and bite it slithered into Sarea’s mind. Instead she laughed.


“You’ve been back five minutes, and already your gabbing your mouth,” Sarea said, and Lyniah laughed. The sound rolled her and Sarea let it seep into her mind, like a warm blanket against the chill. She meant what she had said before.


But in her heart she knew love, and passion, still waited for the spark to pull Lyniah back in. She just wanted to tend it. Nurture it. So she turned back to her soup and began to shovel it into her mouth at a rapid rate. She paused though as Lyniah continued to talk; her words a balm against the tightly bundled nerves and fear that Sarea had been feeling. The two talked, and it felt like years had been pulled away.


Soon though she put her spoon in the now empty bowl. Lyniah glanced down at it, and smiled.


“I should get some sleep,” she said, then pointed to Sarea. “And you, to get a bath.”


This time Sarea didn’t stop her as she rose. Lyniah wandered down the hall with empty mug in hand to set it in the trays for the novices to take for cleaning. Sarea sat where she was, looking down at her bowl. She heard the footsteps coming up behind her, and froze a moment. She wasn’t sure what to do when she felt Lyniah’s hand. Felt the woman lean down over her.


The soft press of lips to her cheek were warm, and soft. Sarea closed her eyes as memories of long nights wrapped in each others arms flooded through her mind. Of stolen kisses between prayer and training.


“Good night sister,” Lyniah said quietly, and was soon walking away. Sarea turned her head.


She smiled.


~***~


Lord Markus Ismail tapped his finger against the top of his table. Slouched in his chair, his other hand rested against his chin. Forefinger across his upper lip, thumb tucked under his jaw. Boredom crept into his mind, despite the urgency of the meeting. The last chance for commands to be given properly before the coming warp storm claimed the planet. The six other councillors sat around the thick table, each of them wearing an expression of unease upon their features.


Councillor Cora Doragat leaned forward with fingers intertwined. She let out a long sigh, then turned her head to speak.


“Lord Governor. The plague’s effects continue to spread. The farming communities of Midfast are at fifty percent infection rate. With the storm, they will be unable to get more than their local hospices to provide aid. This is causing unrest and I fear there will be riots soon enough. On top of that, it has plummeted crop output which could impact our tithes,” she said, and Markus grunted. Half his mind was back home, where his wife awaited him. Naked likely, knowing her, or perhaps in something risque. But he didn’t let that show, instead he continued to tap on the table as he mulled over the words.


Another of the council spoke up. Councillor Heinrich was rubbing at his temples, his grey hair receding far from them.


“The arbites will likely be unconvinced to send more manpower. But with the Adepta Sororitas here, perhaps we can spare a few platoons of the defence force?” he said, and Markus gave a little grunt, his tapping unceasing. His eyes flicked over to the six people around his table.


“The tithes cannot be impacted. Commandeer servitors from the industrial centre and the artisan district, and send them out to Midfast. Cora, you may allocate them as you see fit. Two platoons of the defence force from Atalan will be transferred to Midfast, to ensure any civil unrest will be put down. Have the leaders of any of these dissenters identified. We will tax their farms harder for the tithe. If they resist, execute them and give the land to others who have shown loyalty,” Markus said, and those around the table all nodded their heads. Behind him, a servo skull floated, a small pen on a hinged arm scrawled the words spoken upon a long scroll. A scroll already touching the floor from the remainder of their meeting.


“Now... I believe we have covered everything we can. The storm will strike tomorrow, and we shall need to hunker down; trust in the Order of the Silent Lily, and our Defence Forces. Stand strong in the face of the darkness, as we always do, and we shall emerge unscathed,” Markus said and sat himself up in his chair. He looked upon the councillors, who all quietly nodded. “Good. Then I call this meeting adjourned.”


As one, they all rose and began to shuffle out from the room, while Markus gestured over his shoulder to the servo skull. It’s pen arm stopped and the small machinery implanted in the bone whirred. The mechanical eye adjusted and the thing rolled up the scroll, grasping it just below its upper jaw. It was a strange sight, especially as it had no lower one.


The device spun in the air, and floated from the room to take its recordings to the archives. Pinching the bridge of his nose, Markus slumped once more in his chair and sighed. At least he wouldn’t have to deal with any more politics for the remainder of the storm.


And his wife would be waiting.


He let that guide him as he got to his feet, an unbidden smile curling his lips as he turned towards the door, and nearly ran into Heinrich.


“What in the Emperor’s name are you still doing here?” Markus demanded of the man who stood before the door that led into the rest of the palace.


“News for your ears my lord. The Sisters’ preceptory had a shipment of medical supplies delivered today,” Heinrich started and Markus sighed.


“They are a militant and hospitaller order merged into one, and have been spearheading the work against this damned plague. That isn’t surprising. So stop holding me in suspense and tell me what else was on this damned ship,” Markus said and folded his arms across his chest.


“The manifest told of six passengers. Sister Lyniah, Novices Hannah and Zelda, Sanctioned Psyker Seth Riccart,” Heinrich started, and Markus immediately quirked an eyebrow. “Tech-priest Zaber Karv-Zal, and Inquisitor Cornelius, of the Ordo Hereticus.”


“A witch hunter. Dropped off before the storm hits. He has no intention of leaving quickly then,” Markus said and propped his elbow on one hand, and ran his thumb over his short beard. He looked downwards, thoughts of his wife trying to slither into his mind even as he forced them downwards to concentrate on this new situation. “I won’t ask how you managed to get a look at that manifest.”


“Good. But after Cora’s husband was executed for heresy after the last storm, I am sure the Inquisitor’s eyes will turn to her. And many of the minor houses would love to get their hands upon Midfast, even if her influence is what allows us to reach our tithes every year,” Heinrich said, and Markus nodded.


“Damn politics. Keep your eyes on Cora’s household. Ensure it is clean. Do not warn her, keep her innocent in all this. We can turn this to our advantage,” Markus said and nodded, almost to himself. “Go then, Heinrich. See it done.”


The man nodded, and formed the sign of the aquila before he departed. Markus watched him go and ran his hand through his thick hair. Another complication. His wife, Elaine, would not be pleased. Best to inform her.


Striding out from the meeting room, Markus made his way through the palace. His home, his workplace, and his fortress all rolled into one. Though as he made his way to the upper floors, and towards the back, his wife’s touches became more noticeable. Plush violet carpet and curtains. Paintings and busts that bordered on the erotic. Not many came up here, and all that did came by invitation only.


They came by Elaine’s invitation only.


For within was the truth of the matter, and Markus felt his heart beating faster as his steps came quicker. Quickly to his wife’s salon, where she had told him she would be waiting. No staff were around up here; for only the Sister of the Famulous Order attached to his household came up here without specific summoning. She alone had Elaine’s permanent invitation.


He stopped outside the doors. No sound came through, for they had been well made to specification. No sound could get through. Markus chewed on his lip and wondered what debauchery would await him on the other side. Within his pants he felt himself stir to hardness.


When he opened the door, loud orchestral music played from speakers placed around the room. The instruments were perfectly tuned as they played, not a single note out of place. It was perfect, nothing else would please Elaine. But the music didn’t stop the sounds of moans that reached him from the sight across the room.


The door closed behind him and Markus removed his boots before he walked across the carpets and pillows that littered the salon’s floor. Across multiple couches draped in silks were two metal posts. Between them, stood the Governess Elaine with thrusting hips, fucking the figure before her. Bent with her back arched, was Famula Advance Olea. A sister of the Adeptas Sororitas, Famulous Orders.


But she had been broken by Elaine years ago, like her new saint Miriael Sabathiel.


Her blonde hair flowed in loose waves over her shoulders, pinned to the side of her head by the blindfold of bright blue lace wrapped over her eyes. Her black lips were open with the sounds of pleasure that poured forth. Her body was clad in a purple underbust corset, inlaid with silver fleur-de-lis and purple marks of Slaanesh. Her bared breasts bounced with each thrust of her mistress, her nipples pierced with golden rings with thin silver chains attached to the metal posts that pulled at her, sending surges of pain. Her bare arms were forced out to the sides, chained to a long thin bar. Below the corset, her rear and cunt were bare for any to see, while a thigh high boot of pink leather capped with a Mark of Slaanesh encased her left leg. The right was clad in a knee high white leather boot with a purple fleur-de-lis.


She was a mockery of her former faith, and her mistress’s favourite toy.


Here, in this hidden sanctuary to the Dark Prince, she moaned her pleasures from Elaine’s hard thrusts, and the harsh pull at her nipples that threatened to tear flesh. The experience of the flesh.


Elaine looked up from the sweaty skin of her Sororitas toy and grinned wickedly at her husband as he approached. She was clad in sheer, bright coloured silks that hid nothing of her lean fit body. They were tied around her arms, neck, stomach, hips, and legs, and fluttered with each thrust that slapped her flesh against the moaning Olea. Around her neck was a silver necklace with a single large red gem embedded in it.


“My dearest husband, welcome... come shed that veil you call garments, I wish to look upon you,” Elaine purred, while her palm cracked against Olea’s ass.


Markus chuckled, his fingers slowly undoing the buttons of his jacket and letting it fall to the floor behind him. Then he began to undo the buttons of his shirt even slower. Elaine’s eyes burned with hunger as she watched. Markus knew she was delighted in being torn between impatience and being teased.


“Much as I delight to share in the Dark Prince’s delights my love, we have a problem,” Markus said leaving his shirt open. Elaine surprisingly laughed. A loud cackle tinged with madness.


“Tell us then. But She Who Thirsts will not be denied my pleasures,” Elain said, and slapped her hand on one of the chains. Olea moaned, as a drop of blood ran over the hoop in her nipple. Markus bit his lip, and stood there a moment, savouring the sight. Elaine snapped her fingers “Teasing with sensation is a sensation in and of itself. Teasing with information will get us killed my darling.”


“Of course. There is a Witch Hunter in the city. With the Sisters,” Markus said, and Elaine laughed.


“I know. My little toy has told me everything. Including who else was on that ship. A problem indeed. I am sure you will handle the political side of it. But he could be useful. It is clear Nurgle’s taint is slathered over this planet, and I will not abide that,” Elaine said as she beckoned her husband over.


He managed to get the remainder of his clothing off, his cock rising to full mast as he stood beside his wife. She chewed her lip as she ran her eyes over his form, down to the tip of his cock where a milky pearly of pre-cum gathered. Markus grinned and reached over, running his fingers down his wife’s spine, and felt the small piercings in her back. Silk ribbons criss crossed between them, tight enough to pull her skin.


“It is. You are hoping to direct his attention to the plague?” he said as his fingers slid downwards; over her hip until he cupped her rear. She purred, and pushed her ass into his grip each time she pulled back with her thrusts.


“I am convinced there are cultists lingering about this planet. They must be rooted out. So why not use the enemy against our enemy. Of course... should he pose a problem, I’ll just have him eliminated. This storm my darling, we may have to make our play, for better or worse,” she purred and reached over. She dragged a fingernail along the underside of his cock, and he twitched in response; that pearl of pre-cum falling over her finger. “Mmm. So close... tomorrow. With the break of the storm, we shall unleash your passion. But on who... mmm, time will tell. Now, go sit down, and let me look at you. There is still work to be done.”


Markus smiled and slowly backed away from the rutting women. He sat himself down, legs opened, and reached between his legs to toy with his balls. Elaine’s eyes widened with hunger at the sight.


“This is a problem, my love. And are we truly ready?” he asked, and Elaine shrugged.


“We have done what we can. But if we do not make our move, then the enemy will claim this world, instead of our Dark Prince. But we have cults across the planet, and my daughter is returned to the preceptory. Her influence will spread through the other sisters, and we will get what none have since Miriael. A coven of converted Sisters of Battle,” Elaine said, and Olea moaned hungrily at the notion. That her sisters would soon come to her with their fanatical faith turned to the Prince of Pleasure. “Should we need to abandon the planet, we will have that coven. And that will be a blow against the Corpse Emperor worthy enough to call victory.”


She threw her head back then and let out a long cry of pleasure. She raked her nails over Olea’s skin, as she thrust herself home one last time. She held herself inside her toy a moment, letting her short pants of pleasure, before she pulled out. Olea whimpered, and strained against her bindings. So close to her climax, and denied, as Elaine walked over to her husband.


One hand removed the harness of her strap-on, the other toyed with the stone at her necklace. As usual, Markus could swear he saw something swirl within. She dropped the strap-on to the ground and planted a bare foot beside Markus’s head. She leaned down and grasped a fistful of hair.


“Besides, not all pieces are on the table just yet,” she purred and pulled him up towards the glistening folds of her cunt. Markus groaned, his tongue delving into his wife as she studied the stone in her necklace. She smiled, tongue sliding across her lips as Olea moaned piteously, desperate for attention. “Oh yes. No one will escape the storm unscathed.”


~***~


The crackle of energy poured forth from the ancient structure studded with gleaming gems in the dank recesses of the forgotten cave. A blue miasma poured from between the curved pillars, showing the endless ways of the webway beyond. From that twisting Labyrinthe, Belmae stepped through onto the human occupied world of Nyxate. Clad in grey-blue mesh armour covered in the dark green cloak of a ranger, she cradled her long rifle in her hands as she looked about her surroundings.


The blue glow of the webgate illuminated lichen covered rock, and a pool of water before her. The stone glimmered with moisture, and droplets fell from the ceiling to plop upon the ground. It seemed no living creature had been here for many long years. Good, then her arrival might yet go unnoticed.


The ranger stepped away from the gate, and the portal closed behind her, plunging the cave into darkness. She reached to her belt and clicked on a simple light that cast its glow about her. She made her way to the edge of the pool and peered into its dark depths. She slung her rifle, and pulled free the power sword she had taken, unsure of what she might face in the depths.


Mon-keigh did so like to settle on strange planets afterall.


She plunged into the darkness, her armour protecting her from the worst of the chill as she swam downwards. She followed the curves of ancient tunnels dug by erosion and time, passing by fish that scattered from her presence. But soon she emerged from a cave mouth, and into a great expanse of water. More fish, and the occasional eel swam about her. Nothing seemed interested in her, save that she might be a predator herself. She looked upwards, and saw the shimmer of light. Of fire. Still submerged, she clicked off her light and swam upwards.


Her head broke the surface, and she had to pull her sodden hood back from her face to look around while she tread water. The fire was... pyres. Even from here she could smell burning flesh, and she saw human transports delivering their cargo of corpses to great pits that were filled with flame. What was happening here?


Then she saw the flash in the sky. The crackle of violets, and reds. The coming warp storm she had been made aware about. The humans though, already seemed to have their hands full. Which would only make Belmae’s mission that much easier. She swam her way to shore before pulling herself out, and looked across the lake towards the city whose walls glowed from those great pyres. The city the Mon-keigh called Artemia.


And someone in there had soul stones in their possession.



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