Two subjective hours earlier, the Sergeant Hosvic and Corporal Helstag arrived at the snow covered bottom of the same cavern within the Black Holds, armed with power fist and sniper rifle. A quick search of the area revealed the unmistakable tracks of the giant boar. They fell in step as they began to follow the tracks, when it is joined by a second set of footprints… then by a third.
All the while, Helstag begins to his voices in the distance. At first they were indistinct murmurs, much like the sound of the warp beating against the Gellar Field… if one listens intently for too long. But then, one distinct whisper asserts itself over the others.
“Your friends will betray you… Your friends will betray you…” it murmured over and over again inside the corporal’s head.
So when Sergeant Hosvic stops to look at the ominous third set of tracks, powering up his power fist as he turns to ask Helstag what to do. The only words that came out were, “BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!”
Wide eyed, Helstag turned and ran, encouraged by the whispers in his head. He dashes behind the old cargo container, wading through snow drift as the voice encourages him further, “Run. Run now! Run faster…”
Before long, he finds himself drawing closer to a pulsing red glow at one end of the cavernous room, its very presence seemingly pushing back the darkness. As he approaches, he could hear other voices now, chanting in unison, “blood for the blood god, skulls for the skull throne”. As he rounds another corner, he finds himself staring at a rend in reality, a portal seemingly set against the ship’s curved hull. Beyond it, a sea of blood… no, a sea of teaming masses of demonic faces.
A pair of clawed hands, giant compared to the size of the rift, clasps onto the sides of the portal, seemingly beginning to wrench it open. Helstag backs away from the portal and turns to find Commissar Valerik behind him, bolt pistol in hand. She points the weapon at him.
“Seal the rift, guardsman. Do your duty and die.”
Fear and courage fought in the guardsman’s soul. He knew what he must do, and throws himself at the portal as a searing light engulfs his vision.
“Disappointing,” the voice in his head whispers.
Helstag finds himself in the converted festive hall. But there was no sign of festivities now. Not even any sign of occupation. Just an oppressively empty room.
He is also on his knees, his hands bound behind him. He sees comrades beside him, all kneeling as well in a line, but he couldn’t make out the faces. A robed figure — a priest — approaches the furthest guardsman. He bends down to whisper something in his ear. The guardsman hesitates but shakes his head. The priest retreats and a commissar — Commissar Valerik — steps up, plants her bolt pistol against the man’s head, and fires.
The grim ritual continues, until they are standing before Helstag. The priest says something, but it is hard… painful, to make out the words. Only the last sentence was clear, as he opens his palm to reveal a blue gem, its hue and shape seemingly shifting without changing, “… do you take salvation?”
At a lost for words, Helstag could only nod. Forgetting his arms were bound, he somehow reaching out with to grasp the gem as a cold chill flows up his arm.
“Good, my son,” the priest whispers in an all too familiar voice.
But there was no time to think, as a pulsing red rift opens up behind Commissar Valerik and a demon stalks out from it. Helstag shoves the Commissar out of the way and charges the demon, screaming “For the Emperor!”
Naders remembers being chased by the fiery hellboar, dodging down a narrow corridor to try to escape the beast. But it hardly seemed to notice as it barreled after her, tearing iron and steel like flimsy paper. She remembers the cold air as she fled onto a catwalk, following by screaming metal and falling.
And now she awoke, cold and in the snow. She found herself in a snow drift, deep enough to cushion her fall. The winds of the warp howl and scream outside. She could hear the voices beyond, calling to her. Her head throbbed, not only from the fall, but also the vibrant feeling of psychic presence. She feels a thick, warm liquid against her arms, seemingly dripping up from her fingers. She looks down to find her hands clean, but the sensation persists, dripping down against her face. Unsure what is happening, she curls up into a ball, too scared to move, or even make a sound.
Then the headache recedes. The voices recede. And she finds herself atop a hill overlooking rolling fields, and under the gaze of twin moons at twilight. A battle had raged here, and now in the aftermath, shadowy figures slaughtered and executed men in red and gold armor.
She turned her gaze away from the field, and saw five massive stone stood before her. Beside it stood a tall, thin man clad in dark robes, seemingly made of blades of shadow. She knew he was important, somehow, and she knew his name as well, Prince Gvir Zhakel.
Cautiously, she approached, drawn by chill of his presence.
“Come forth, my pet,” his voice is thin and dangerous.
Naders tries to run away, suddenly noticing she was unarmed. She wasn’t in her uniform either, dressed instead in the same robes of shadows.
“Take the portent,” the man says again with edged patience.
She hears herself replying as she holds up a piece of parchment, feeling the ink surging through her veins:
“When resolve unyielding falls in burning glory…”
Naders tries to pull away again, stumbling out from where she still stood. She looks around in a panic, and catches the man’s eyes. They were dark pits as he turned to focus his gaze on her. She feels his gaze scrutinizing her soul as the world goes to black.
Dank acrid rot assaulted Naders’ nostrils as she awoke again. Warmth flowed up her arms again. She forced her eyes open to find herself in a dark room with heavy masonry. She knew she was underground… in some sort of dungeon. There was also a man suspended above her in red and gold armor. He was also cut open, twitching, mouth open as he tries to scream as his blood dripped down onto Naders’ face. The sensation fills Naders’ with an odd sense of calm despite her rising panic.
The enshadowed figure, Prince Gvir Zhakel, appears in an open doorway. “You are ready now, my pet,” she knows he is smiling even though she cannot see his face, “Let us take the portent again.” He seems to beckon her with his eyes, and Naders feels herself walking through the door to the tortured soul of a psyker beyond.
… And then Naders wakes up again. She is hiding, inside a kitchen cabinet. She felt frightened, and someone else was too. Naders turned to find a little girl whimpering, cowering in the corner of the cabinet. Long, dark hair covered her face, but a pair of pointed ears were visible. Naders tries to comfort her and wash the streaks of orange paint from underneath her eyes.
“She’s still out there… she’s still out there,” the strange girl murmurs.
“… you’re still out there!”
There’s the sound of someone breaking furniture and Naders hears her own voice saying, “Come out Aethiel.”
“Save me, save me please!” the girl pleads desperately. But before she could respond, a pale arm tears open the door of the cabinet and yanks the girl out.
She sees now that they had been in her old home on Ragnarok. But through a window, she could see a foreign vista of rolling grass under twin moons. A single burning star plummeted toward the ground. And figure holding the girl… was another Naders.
As the girl cries and flails in her arm, the twin-Naders turns to look out the doorway, and smiles in satisfaction, “That is the portent.”
In that moment, Aethiel tears a gem of deep green from her neck and lets it fall to the ground. “Keep it safe,” she cries as she is dragged away by the duplicate. Meanwhile, Naders reaches out and collects the gem, feeling a strong presence within.
Hosvic quirked an eyebrow as Helstag seemed to suddenly lose his nerve and ran into the maze of cargo containers. He would never catch up to the fleet footed scout if he tried, and so he turned his attention back to tracking the footprints.
Hosvic is facing the orks that he had once dealt with. Two orks stood in his way as they decide which way to go “Blood? Skulls? Blood! Skulls!!” They turn and notice Hosvic and charge! A bloody fight ensues. He dispatches one of the green skins, but the other gets in a nasty blow, hacking off part of his arm. The ork pounces on him but Hosvic turns at the last moment and impales him on the chainsword. Badly wounded, he turns and makes a run for it…
… Some time passes, and he wakes up in a pile of bodies, hearing the sound of the Waaag! falling away. He’s in great pain, missing an arm, the sound of an approaching Valkyrie transport is vaguely familiar. He sees the worst and best sight of his life: Helstag approaching him, rifle in hand. Everything fades and they are in a forest.
Helstag: “This is very familiar.”
Hosvic: “Will you get me the fuck out of here?”
Helstag: “Again?” He picks him up and makes a run for the Valkyrie. They are safely in and they are off. They are on the planet with two moons, the fireball coming on the sky, a ship going down like a comet.
The pilot of the Valkyrie takes them back to where they are supposed to be, and Hosvic inexplicably has his bionic arm again, they’re back in the snowy planet, the pilot suddenly looks like a much older, wizened man.
“Our future has brought you here. The child you bring will bring us doom.”