New Prey

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The ice-cold touch of the portal lasted barely a second before Vi’Sekath emerged into the heat and sun of Henan. After traveling through the webway, the fresh wind blowing through the clearing felt wonderful on her exposed skin. Looking back on the glowing portal, she reasoned it would be a moment before her escort caught up and emerged ready to begin the hunt. With this in mind, she ordered the steersman to raise the Raider higher into the air. No reason not to make the most out of this sortie.

Once the skimmer cleared the treeline and their height offered an unparalleled view of the area, Vi’sekath slowly walked away from her Bloodbrides crowding the deck and made her way to the prow of the ship. Once there, she lazily summersaulted above the front gunner to landed upon the prow-piece itself with her usual feline grace, leaning upon the Disintegrator cannon for support rather than using a cumbersome life-chain. The area around this portal was mostly uninhabited; a luxurious forest that spread for miles on end, with only the occasional encampment or valley, such as the one below, to break up the green vastness. It would make for a beautiful hunting ground thought the Succubi with a smile.

The alarmed missive had reached the Kabal of the Last Blade through their usual intermediary only a few days ago. Work encampments were going silent one after the others. Scouting parties sent to investigate reported horror stories of bloody massacres before disappearing themselves. Something had begun targeting the soft mon-keighs populating this area. Some great and terrible beasts against which their usual defenses were apparently useless. The remaining ones were afraid, more so than just from their usual helplessness. Their call for help from the Kal-Monkeith remained unanswered which, considering the jamming devices put in place by the Kabal, was no real surprise. In their terror, they ended up calling upon the ones they dreaded the most for salvation.

In truth, Archon Ilos cared little for the lives. To him, and indeed to any other from the Dark Kin, they were nothing more than cheap cattle; only fit to work their weak bodies sore in his honour and to be harvested when needed or simply desired. If they only knew the true horrors awaiting them in the Eternal City, most of them would probably rather allow the beasts to devour them alive. The agony would be shorter; and probably lesser as well.

Unfortunately for them, Archon Ilos disliked others hunting on his own grounds, and so decided to answer their desperate pleas. Summoning his muse, he placed some of his Incubi retainers in her service and suggested she go on a short hunting trip. Whatever these beasts were, they made little work of the mon-keighs’ defences and would therefore undoubtedly make for an interesting spectacle in the Arena. Intrigued by the nature of these new predators to the planet, Vi’Sekath had happily agreed to her long-time benefactor’s request and began gathering her favorite Bloodbrides for this special sortie. Along with the Incubis and their Venom chariot, she managed to secure the temporary services of one of Oryak’hae’s Talos engines to carry back whatever large beasts they would undoubtedly encounter on the raid.

From her vantage point high above the trees, the Succubi’s trained eyes were quick to find her new prey. Their path of devastation had clearly been angling them towards the portal for some reason and sure enough, they were nearly upon it by now. With mixed feelings, Vi’Sekath easily identified the nature of the beasts lurking below: minions of the Great Swarm, the Devourers from beyond… The ones mon-keighs called “Tyranids”.

Upon recognizing them for they were, she was first exited to be offered such grandiose predators for her Arena. Rarely did her kin bother with holding ground in the physical plane and so it wasn’t every day her wyches got to fill the beast pens with specimens from the Great Swarm. With a sadistic grin, she remembered how the smaller kind with claws was always a delight to throw against her witches. The fact they could pose a genuine threat made the bouts all the more exciting! Once this initial excitement passed however, the Succubi was left somewhat ponderous about the significance of their presence in the system. Had their living pod scattered off from some distant battlefield to reach this system after years of wandering? Or were they merely scouting broods, heralds of an overwhelming invasion to come?

The arrival of the Incubi’s Venom and the Talos pulled Vi’Sekath out of her questioning. There would be time to discuss these matters with Ilos upon her return to their sub-realm. For now, what mattered was the hunt on hand. The only way these creatures would ever reach the portal was chained and neutralized, ready for transport to the Arena.

As the Raider began its descent to rejoin with the escort, the eager huntress studied her prey some more. These truly were some magnificent specimens. Unlike the mindless minions of the invasion swarms, they seemed to possess an undeniable intelligence of their own. Indeed, they had apparently spotted her transport hovering above them and were now advancing more carefully on the portal, keeping to the shadows with their heads low. One amongst them struck the Succubi as especially exceptional. Not-unlike the beasts swarming around it, the thing possessed four upper members full of claws but towered above them all. Their leader perhaps? Vi’Sekath laughed inwardly that such a notion could possibly be found within the ranks of these beasts.

In the end, it mattered not. Leader, psychic beacon or simply genetically gifted, it had stirred her lust for blood and something more than a hunt. For this, it would receive the infinite honor of dying from her glaive and nothing less.

***

Vi’Sekath stood alone in the sun, utterly content. The minions of the Great Swarm had taken a much higher toll on her escort than expected, but she didn’t care. It didn’t matter than Oryak’hae’s prized pain engine lay in pieces at her feet, or that Ilos’ precious Incubis were all dead. It didn’t even matter that some of her own Bloodbrides had been cut down. In this moment, all that mattered to the Succubi was the blood of her latest prey bathing her subtle body and dripping from her glaive.

The few beasts that had actually survived the hunt were almost done being loaded into Raiders when Vi’Sekath finally moved. If anything at all, their disappointingly small number was the only shameful thing about this sortie. Had she known beforehand she would be hunting this kind of prey, she could have equipped the raid’s weaponry with specifically tailored toxins to render the beasts harmless for transport without killing them. Not for the first time today, the Succubi found herself cursing at the mon-keighs’ bottomless idiocy.

At last mounting her own Raider to leave the area, Vi’Sekath decided to swing by the closest work camp first. Archon Ilos would certainly appreciate them knowing they had been “saved” by the Kabal rather than the self-appointed protectors who wouldn’t even respond their calls for aid. And after all, there was still plenty of space left in the Raiders for a well-deserved compensation from them…

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