Sub Divo

4.54/5 (6)

I can no longer see the future, Idroelle thought, which means there must be no future. Blood surged through her body as she whipped the Nightwing into a mind-numbing turn. The fighter slashed through the clean, blue skies of Harkaxioc like a bloodied dagger. It was unerring and unrelenting, reflecting nothing of its pilot’s turmoil.
A mon’keigh craft lumbered into her field of view. Unlike the sleek deathdealers of the Aeldari, it was embarrassingly chunky and pitifully slow. Normally, Idroelle would know its groaning attempts to avoid death a split second before they came. But she could no longer see the future.
The enemy fighter rolled to the left like a dying sky-whale. Idroelle cursed as her shots shredded its tail. It was a clumsy kill without her foresight. Rounds from her victim’s wingman spanged off the wraithbone of her Nightwing and she twirled hard away, accelerating up into the blue. 

Mon’keigh pilots could not survive such a manoeuvre, which meant she was safe, but still, Iodrelle cursed again. She should have sensed the attack. I can no longer see the future, she thought, which means I am going to die in these skies, slain by half-witted mon’keigh in their ugly little flying boxes.
Effortlessly, Iodrelle slid her Nightwing back towards the burnt-brown earth. Below her, a handful of Crimson Hunters pirouetted like Harlequins around a locust horde of desperate mon’keigh fighters. Iodrelle looked past the chaos with a practised eye, seeking openings and opportunities even as she rocketed groundward at ridiculous speed.

In truth, the intricate weave of death thrilled her. The joy of combat filled her heart and she laughed inside her flight helmet. For a moment, she almost forgot about her imminent demise. But then she realised that there were no special insights coming to her mind. No moments of clarity revealing the future perfect shot. Iodrelle’s doom was upon her again and she snarled angrily. Seeking comfort in practised manoeuvers, she settled a wallowing mon’keigh craft in her sights. Shuriken cannons spat razor-sharp death and the enemy fell away in tatters. 

Then she felt Exarch Almistrath die somewhere in the aerial anarchy. Disoriented, struggling to process the sudden psychic feedback of the exarch’s death, unable to see the future, she struggled to react to the warning chimes in her helmet as a vengeful mon’keigh fighter settled in behind her.

+++

‘I can no longer see the future.’
Almisrath looked at Iodrelle across the bright light of the skydome shrine. In the air above them, Crimson Hunters flitted through cloudbanks, practising for the next war. These were the private quarters of the exarch, but Almisrath made a point of allowing his charges to visit for guidance. He stared at such a charge now with the emotionless eyes of his ever-worn flight helmet.
‘And?’ It was only one word, but it caught Iodrelle off-guard.
‘And I am going to die,’ she stammered, ‘No future, no life.’ Iodrelle tried to keep the fear from her voice but it was pointless. The exarch was closer to Khaine than any Crimson Hunter. He knew fear all too well.
‘It does not matter,’ Almisrath waved his hand dismissively and Iodrelle baulked. He saw the look on her face and continued.
‘Iodrelle Thyllan-Kaith, you are a Crimson Hunter. A weapon of Khaine. A hawk of Kurnous. You are the best pilot I have seen in a generation. It was not some psychic inklings that made you that.’ Iodrelle felt a swell of pride, but it did not outweigh her fears.
‘Without it, I am weaker. I am not what I was.’ Almisrath shook his head.
‘You are wrong, poor sister. For better or for worse, Khaine has touched you. That does not disappear.’ Iodrelle blinked nervously.
‘Exarch, the path of Khaine is the path of death. What if that is why I cannot see? What if he is merely guiding me to doom?’ Almisrath chuckled darkly.
‘Then you will die.’ The exarch rose serenely to his feet. Iodrelle rose too, sensing her audience was nearly over. ‘I cannot see the future either, sister,’ he continued, ‘but I do not think death is what Khaine has planned for you.’
‘Exarch-’ Iodrelle made to protest, but once again, Almisrath stopped her short. Solemnly, he laid a hand on her shoulder. It was a rare gesture of physical affection for an Aeldari. She felt a strange hunger stir within her. War drums thundered distantly in her head. And then Almisrath’s hand was gone and so was the noise and the uncomfortable desire.
‘You are a Crimson Hunter, Iodrelle Thyllan-Kaith.’ The exarch’s unblinking helmet-eyes looked into hers. ‘And that is enough.’

+++

In the momentary wake of Almisrath’s death, the exarch’s words came flooding back. She was a Crimson Hunter. She was a master of the sky. Suddenly, war drums thundered in her head again. The insatiable hunger she had felt in Almisrath’s quarters came tearing back into her psyche with a vengeance. 

She howled with animal ferocity in the cockpit, drowning out the sound of the warning chimes. Drums pounding in her ears, blood thundering through her veins, Iodrelle hauled on the control stick and sent her Nightwing flipping backwards through the air. Caught off guard, the mon’keigh aircraft bumbled past beneath her and blasted its guns into empty air. Iodrelle dropped on the would-be killer like a hawk and ripped its fuselage apart in a single pass.

Her fighter shrieked with joy as she lined up another victim, then another, and another. Mangled wreckage rained downwards in her wake. Iodrelle was a talented pilot, but she had never felt this purity before. There was only her Nightwing, the sky, the enemy, and the Bloody-Handed One’s irresistible call. The dawning realisation of what was happening washed all concerns away. I can no longer see the future, Idroelle thought, because my future is set

With a beatific smile on her face and Khaine’s name on her lips, the newest exarch of the Crimson Hunters surged towards a crystal-clear horizon.

About the Author

Raised in the grimbrightness of Orange County, Tristan managed to win a fan fiction competition for Bretonnian army collectors at the age of 16 and has been writing Warhammer stories ever since. When not doing work work, he enjoys reading books, saving Helmgart from the predations of Skaven, and trying to build up the courage to tackle his ever-expanding pile of unpainted miniatures.