Eight days left, and I think there are three parts after this. I can get this done...
â€œSo, in your opinion, the Captain chose to take responsibility for the events that took place aboard the Mnemon's Glory?â€ Commander Traken Yamara leaned back in her chair pensively. â€œThat's quite the charge to lay on him.â€
â€œIn my opinion, Commander, the Captain was a fool.â€ Kaltos shrugged fluidly. â€œWe knew there was terrible danger there, and he led us further in instead of retreating to the ship and sending a fully-laden warship. A scout ship like ours just doesn't have the resources to deal with a problem like that.â€
â€œHm.â€ Leaning closer, the commander fixed Kaltos with a steady gaze. The corporal watched back, expressionless, as Traken's eyes narrowed. â€œI'm not sure I like your tone, Kaltos. I'm aware that you went through a great deal down there, but that's no reason to talk that way about a superior officer who gave his life for you to survive.â€
â€œA great deal.â€ Kaltos barked a single laugh. â€œYou have no idea, sir. You don't have the slightest....â€ He twitched faintly, and Traken's frown deepened.
â€œAre you sure you're well, corporal?â€
There was a distracted moment before Kaltos replied. â€œPerfectly, sir. Didn't Doctor Lanyard give me a clean report?â€
â€œYes, but something seems to be bothering you.â€ Traken raised an eyebrow. â€œAnything you want to discuss?â€
â€œNo, sir.â€ Kaltos hesitated. â€œBut you can't hear it? Death, Commander. It was whispering to us on that derelict. It's whispering to us now. Everyone on this ship is going to die.â€
â€œEveryone dies eventually, Corporal Kaltos.â€ Traken quietly let one hand drop below the table, grasping the hilt of her wavecleaver. â€œI think you should talk to Doctor Lanyard about your feelings. It sounds as though you aren't quite ready for active duty, and I don't blame you. On that ship...â€
â€œDon't patronize me!â€ Kaltos moved like lightning, hands shooting out to grasp the desk. He gave it a terrible shove, sending it â€“ and the commander â€“ crashing against the far wall. Traken's anima flared around her, wind catching her papers and shredding them into fragments that lifted into the air, as strength poured through her own frame. Leaping onto the table, Kaltos brought one hand down in a devastating blow even as the wavecleaver came up through the wreckage of the desk towards him. He flipped over it, catching Traken from behind, hands curling around the commander's chest as he squeezed. â€œYou're right, snake-blood. I can't get the whispers out of my head. My name is driving me insane! We need to go. The Maw is calling me, calling us all to death!â€
Traken twisted in the corporal's grip. Her legs kicked backwards, sending her opponent sprawling, and she stumbled to her feet. With a bloody cough, she grabbed for his daiklave again. â€œYou're insane!â€ Her eyes widened as he saw the black markings taking shape on the Corporal's brows. â€œNo... you're...â€
â€œAnathema?â€ Kaltos's smile grew, and his fangs grew with it. â€œYes, sir, I am. I've been granted power â€“ but I need the wisdom of the Neverborn to use it. And you are too dangerous to live!â€ He lunged forwards, grabbing the shattered remains of the table and bringing it around with unholy strength, muscles twisted and bulging. Traken drove her sword forwards, ignoring the pain of her existing wounds as she flipped over the table, kicked off the ceiling of his office, and slammed her sword down twice at the Deathknight's back.
And then the Deathknight wasn't there. The desk crashed to the ground, Traken landing easily in its centre, as Kaltos dissolved into dark shadows. A moment later, as the commander started to turn, Kaltos's fist grabbed her arm, and twisted. His anima unfurled around him like a spectre of death as bones cracked and twisted, and Traken's wavecleaver fell from suddenly nerveless fingers.
Traken gasped in pain, but she wasn't done yet. Kicking the sword as it fell, she sent it spinning end over end towards the monster. It slashed across his leg, leaving a line of blood that bled sluggishly for a moment, and Traken took the oppurtunity to back up a step. â€œSo you can be hurt.â€
â€œA lucky shot.â€ Kaltos reached down, flipping the wavecleaver into his hand and tossing it to one side. â€œYou won't have two.â€ He leapt again, crossing the room in a heartbeat, and this time Traken wasn't quite quick enough to get out of the way. Fingers closed around the Dragon-Blood's throat, and began to squeeze. For a moment, it seemed that Traken would strike one last time â€“ but then bones cracked, and her spine shattered, and she went limp. With a vicious smile, Kaltos leaned in to feed.
â€œCommander, we heard... Dragons!â€ The voice came from the doorway, and Kaltos looked up with a snarl of rage. The three members of the bridge crew were watching him in horror. Even as he blinked in momentarily confusion, before remembering that of course they would have been just next door, he saw Ensign Kayle already backing away. The speaker, Ensign Jamis, gulped, frozen with horror. â€œCorporal Kaltos?â€
Kaltos dropped the commander's body with an annoyed grunt. He was injured and nearly spent, but... â€œNot anymore.â€ The shadows coiled around him as he stepped forwards.
â€œAlright, we just slip in, and if Kaltos is there I'll hit him as hard as I can on the back of the head. Hopefully that will stun him.â€ Private Gallen nodded slowly as he and Doctor Croft approached the bridge. â€œThoughts?â€
â€œNothing to it. We'll have the whole bridge crew backing us...â€ Croft's words cut off as he stepped forwards, and the bridge door slid soundlessly open. Across the room, bent over the course markers, Corporal Kaltos looked up slowly. His gaze slid past the corpses, torn into sections, that lay across the bridge, and towards the two crewmen staring at him in shock.
Gallen reacted first, slamming the door controls for the emergency lock. As Kaltos spun and started to bound forwards, he keyed the Quarantine override, and heard the sound of a 'click' with a faint sigh of relief. He turned to Croft, shuddering for a moment as the wall shook with the impact of Kaltos ramming the door. â€œWe need to find everyone else.â€
â€œWhat happens when he opens the door?!â€ Croft was as pale as a ghost, staring at the door. Gallen smiled tensely.
â€œEmergency quarantine requires two officers to override. He'll have to cut his way out.â€ A second thud underscored his point.
â€œAnd how long will that take?â€ Croft looked at the door as it shuddered again, taking several steps away from it.
Gallen pieced together what he had seen. â€œI saw the commander's sword in there. Give him ten or fifteen minutes to attune to it, then he can cut out. We need to move. Now.â€
â€œOh god, oh god.â€ Croft shook his head. â€œThere were four people in there, other than him.â€
â€œNow there aren't. Move!â€
Listening to the faint sounds of their shoes on the corridor, Kaltos sighed and gave the door one last pound. It couldn't last, of course. But the engine room and the bridge were cut off, and there were no Essence-users left on the ship. He was slightly injured, but he could still move at his leisure.
He returned to the console, watching as the ship turned away from the trade routes and entered the depths of the Wyld. Five victims left, and then the call of the Void beckoned. He needed the blessing of the Neverborn.
Then, he would be complete.