150. Visions

Their journey continued to Teliph, a feral world not far from Erioch and it took them three weeks to get there.
They lost most of the human crew on a ship of 7th company, because it was boarded by daemons on the second jump. Apart from this it was an uneventful journey.
For Vox and Titus, however, these times harboured challenges as yet unknown. Strenuous negotiations with Sanguinius ate up precious time Vox should have spent bridging the new rift with her sisters. When the Primarch had been in charge, she had still gained the upper hand in certain situations and to feel him hovering behind her consciousness made her anxious for the moment he would take over again. From this arose a severe mental exhaustion that interfered with her presence in the chapter. 
To get a temporary handle on this, they chose to merge their minds as often as they could. Doing this, had been an odd perk and a double sided sword up until now. In the twenty nights the trip lasted, they were hit by the already known difficulties head-on. When her dreams slipped over to him, Titus was unable to enter half sleep which proved dangerous in his training regime during the day. Sanguinius meanwhile used all this as proof that he should be the one guiding their journey and his demands that Vox hand over her body grew louder every day.
They pushed back steadily but soon Vox was forced to carry out this battle alone every second night. Titus had narrowly escaped severe injury after two nights of unrest in a row and they saw themselves forced to thin out the frequency of their contacts.
Under these circumstances the few attempts of talking to Celeste and Saphane were futile. Especially Celeste had the uncanny knack to hide behind Saphane and melt away into the background while they exchanged a few stiff and quite impersonal phrases with the first chaplain.
Neither Vox nor Titus had the mental capacity to intervene. When they reached real space close to Teliph, she urged him to spend a few nights in his own room because they both were bordering on the incoherent.
Titus conceded to the necessity of this without being happy about it. As a safeguard they agreed to meet in the evenings for him to check if Sanguinius was still compliant and spent some time apart for the first time since they had left Thetis.
It was on the last day before they were due to arrive that Corven came up to Titus in the middle of their last training unit for the day. Visibly agitated, the Space Wolf grabbed his supreme commander and pulled him right out of a squad drill.
With great presence of mind the squad he was training with treated it as a “leader down”-emergency, which was the reason that Titus let it happen.
“Titus, Vox is acting strange”, Corven told him. He had no time for further explanations. Titus turned on his heel and ran out of the hall. On the way he reflected that he might have listened to details but since Corven refrained from following him they might not be as important.
He reached Vox’s room at a dead run and burst through the door uninvited.
Vox looked up from the table and papers she had been writing on.
Not only the bloody tears dripping over her cheeks told him that something was wrong. Not even the fact that she had written in her own blood was disconcerting. There was something about her. A dangerous tension that sprang over to him in the long silent stare they exchanged. Finally Titus realised what it was: She looked at him without surprise but as if the next, inevitable nuisance had entered.
“Sorry for barging in”, he said carefully, lifting an eyebrow.
“Don’t worry about it”, she replied coolly. “I expected you. Corven ran out with the intent to fetch you.”
“He was worried.”
“I’m sorry for that”, Vox said flatly. “I wanted his opinion on the fight on Teliph.” She averted her gaze. “And I was a bit harsh with him when he spoke up about it.”
Titus briefly wondered what “harsh” would look like to register with a Space Wolf but left the walls bereft of brains and guts before he focussed again.
“What did Corven say?”, he asked to gain a little time.
“Nothing specific. I just got impatient”, Vox admitted. She folded her wings awkwardly and rummaged in the papers in front of her. “I didn’t give him all the facts he needed and thus, he said stupid things. Do you think punching him in the face the next time we meet will make up for it?”
Titus was shocked by this cold and rather flat piece of humour. Slowly, he made his way around the table and got more worried when she shied back.
“Vox, let me…”
“No. Please”, she said, interrupting him. “I know what you’re thinking. It’s not Sanguinius. He hasn’t bothered me, I promise. On the contrary, he’s been trying to help. I’ve been planning our assault and…” She drew a deep, almost desperate breath and rubbed her face with both hands. “Titus, I can’t begin to tell you how much will go wrong and I can’t see how to prevent it. There is something hidden from me, I simply can’t find where to put my finger to make the scale tip, I…”
“Vox, why didn’t you call me?”
She looked at him, making a helpless gesture.
“And what would you have done? I can’t see the future when you’re here and…” She swallowed. “We will… Suffer losses”, she said. “Heavy losses. We’ll lose… I don’t know. A third? Half? Of all of them! And I can’t see, what’s wrong!”
Titus dragged his gaze away from her and instead examined the papers on the desk. There figures and letters as well as symbols he had seen on her tarot cards made up complex battle plans.
“Why don’t you use the tarot?”, he asked when this occurred to him.
Vox averted her gaze.
“Because it’s the Emperor’s”, she said, almost choking on the word.
“Enough of this”, Titus decided and removed his gauntlets. “Come to me.”
Vox shook her head and stepped back further.
“No, please, Titus. You don’t understand!”
“Indeed”, he said impatiently. “Make me!”
“No, I can’t bear your pain on top of mine, please!”, she begged and backed into the wall. “I see them all dying. I hear them. I hear their cries and the cries of those who lose them. Please, let me come to you when this is over. Comfort me then…”
“No, Vox. If Sanguinius has taken over again… There was almost nothing left of you last time. I will not see that repeated.” Titus came up to her and grasped her hands. They shook violently and she tried to snatch them away but not only was she wounded, Titus wore power armour while she did not. She was in no position to fend him off.
“Why are you doing this to me?”, she cried when he pressed her to the wall.
“Do you even listen to yourself?”, Titus almost snarled as he drowned in his worry for her. “I’m your shield, use me!”
“No! Titus, did you listen? We will lose friends!”, she gasped and splattered on: “Most of them! I haven’t found a way for Corven and Xavor to survive together and most of these visions include losing all of third, including Saphane and all of Gladius and…” Vox wavered. She wanted Titus’ help. She longed to accept help in this, she only feared his suffering on top of her own but she wavered. Without segue they were united and when Titus saw the tidal wave of pain and despair towering over them, he had a split second to admit that she might have been right to do so.
The damage was done, however. In the wondrous, reversed realm of their minds, where she was hard and cold like his armour and he was soft and flowing with heat like her unprotected body, all he could do was to wrap himself around her.
The wave crashed into them, bearing all the pictures of the dying comrades in a thousand angles and ghastly colours. All the losses and the cries and pain of the dying. The moments of death like stabs in the soul and the moments of discovery of the dead even worse. All the pain of everyone left behind…
Vox gave a heartfelt cry and struggled when suddenly Celeste appeared next to them. The chapter mistress reached out, trying to separate them and Titus only just managed to pull Vox around. She could not be allowed to touch them now. He kicked out, catapulting Celeste away from them before he lost his balance and dragged Vox along as he fell.
The warrior in crimson and golden armour meanwhile stumbled backwards, hit the table and drew her bolter in one flowing movement. She aimed it with the perfect eye of the deadly predator. The round would enter Titus’ neck from a slightly elevated angle to explode behind his chest plate. Vox saw it and Titus marvelled at the incredible skill. The shot would rip him apart and keep her completely unharmed. While he was lost in the overabundance of impressions, Vox tried to drag him around but had fallen so unfortunately that she could not even sling her wings around him.
Their world went dark when she closed her eyes.
The shot went off.
When Titus still drew breath afterwards, they tried to figure out what was going on. Completely disoriented in the circumstances, they only got the vital clues when they heard a familiar voice: “Don’t do that, Mistress”, Grimfang grumbled softly. “Trust me. I have experience. The last time they were going on like this, Vox broke my nose for interfering.”
The white wolf stood between them and Celeste. A head shorter than she was, he had managed to get under her arm and force the weapon up. The bolter round meanwhile had ripped a head-sized hole into the ceiling.
“Come on, Mistress”, Arrick went on. “Look at them. We have intruded here.”
Carefully, he let go of her and they both turned their gazes to Vox and Titus who returned them from their tight huddle on the floor.
“Let’s get out of here before anyone else notices. What do you say?”, the white wolf suggested smoothly. “To avoid embarrassment?”
Celeste stared down at them with a strange blankness in her features. Without a word she put her bolter away brusquely and left a moment later. Arrick shot the two lovers a hard to interpret look from his one, dark eye before he scuttled after the chapter mistress.
Vox started to cry when the white wolf shut the door behind them. She found no single future in which Arrick would live through tomorrow.
Titus held her as best he could in the armour and just endured. There was nothing else to do while the echoes of the future reverberated through them. Visions of blood, of ripped open bodies and faces contorted in agony. The pictures themselves almost drowned out by the numbing cry of pain that overlaid them.
The lovers held on and endured until things started to settle down. Here in Titus’ arms the brutal future could not reach Vox and with time, they found the breathing space to rest and recover in.
For once, Sanguinius refrained from interfering. In his days he had been overwhelmed with his own tragedy already. Never had he been forced to feel the adversity of others to such an extent. A whisper wafted through the shared realm of their minds and carried the acknowledgement of strength of a mind that could still deal under such a weight.
Together they awaited the future. The visions had shown them that turning back now was the worst option by far and so they drifted towards the inevitable, one second at a time.

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Guide Me Through the Darkness by Julia M. V. Warren is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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