91. New Troubles

“So, Vox. What are you doing tonight?”, Corven asked casually after a few minutes of march through desolate, grey rocks.
“Bathing”, Vox said absent-mindedly. Only after half a minute of silence did she focus on the men. A grin crept into her features.
“Right”, Corven said after over a minute. “You do that!”
“Why did you ask?”, Vox inquired innocently.
“Well, you know… Since baily here will certainly spend his time with the apothecaries, I thought you could tell me some stories. The Inquisition will have inconvenient questions very soon and being prepared seemed like a good idea, but… you go bathing. Can’t break the ritual.”
“You could join me”, she said and smiled to the accompaniment of surprised gasps. “Back home, stories belong in the bathroom. Our squads bathe together, you know?”
Titus felt inclined to turn to her.
“You are kidding, right?”
Vox grinned broadly.
“About us bathing together? No. About him joining me? Yes, I just wanted to embarrass you.”
“It worked”, Titus assured her and once again noticed how very dirty her grin could be. He had missed that.
They walked on.
“Why did you mention this?”, Corven burst out after a while. “Now every time I see one of your squads, I’ll think about them bathing together!”
“If this is your biggest problem with us, you are a lucky man, Corven. If it interferes with your negotiations I could kick a bit of respect into this sorry ass of yours.” She smiled sweetly.
“Stop flapping your mouth, little brother!”, Corven snapped but his body language was that of someone who was retreating, not curbing an insolent inferior. “I can only get away with that because I happened to save the ass of our current commander a few times”, the Space Wolf stated. “By accident, I might add! Go find your own commander, then we can talk more!”
Vox sniggered humourlessly.
“How did the negotiations go?”, she wanted to know.
Corven flashed her a glance and nodded towards Titus. Her nod in return convinced him that they could talk openly.
“Bad”, he admitted then. “I came back to get you.”
“Really?”, she asked and it was unclear how much irony she tried to pour into this word.
“Really. I can’t tell you what went wrong. We made peaceful contact with a few of your squads, next thing you know, things go hostile. I thought you might persuade your Chapter Mistress to join us peacefully yet.”
Vox shot Titus a glance.
“I’m afraid what’s under my black shield has caught up with us, sergeant”, she said.
“Crimson and gold. Must have suited you”, Titus replied casually. Vox said nothing.
“So, they aren’t renegades after all”, the sergeant tried.
“Yes”, Corven chimed in. “And Ferone sent me to negotiate their joining with the rest of the imperium. Me! Can you believe it?”
“You probably asked for it”, Vox said flatly.
“I did… But that’s not the point!”
They grinned.
“Epistolary?”, Vox asked a while later.
“Yes?”, Corven asked back and shot her a puzzled glance for such a formal choice of word.
“Permission to use the Emperor’s Tarot?”
“Denied”, the rune priest said firmly. “After what you pulled off just now, you’d have enough daemons for the whole station on your shoulder.”
Titus looked at Vox. There was something about her demeanour. She looked like she was straining her senses, listening for something.
“Why do you think it’s worth the risk?”, he asked her.
“I hear things… Disconcerting things”, she replied quietly. “Things they are chattering. I really have to check them and if they speak true we have a big problem. Big enough to risk it.”
“Or”, Corven said slowly. “This could just be a cunning ruse to get you to use one of your powers, so they can finally break through.”
“It could”, Vox conceded. “But for cunning you’d need a greater daemon of Tzeentch, not minions of Khorne.”
Corven stared at her a moment before he rearranged his features back into nonchalance.
“And?”, he asked with just slightly annoyed ease. “What did you achieve by calling those names?”
“Cheers for Khorne”, Vox said flatly. “Let me do it.”
The two men looked at one another. Then, they drew their bolters.
“Alright”, Corven said solemnly. “But if this goes wrong, I’ll not go soft on you again. Emperor is my witness, I will shoot you without asking and not even your bailsman can stop me from it!”
Vox looked him in the eyes.
“If”, she said laconically and knelt down, unpacking her cards.
For once, Titus did not look at them. He looked at Corven. It was interesting to find that the rune priest reacted differently to the powers Vox summoned. Not only did the epistolary look casually at the cards, he also was clearly used to the tides of the warp. There was a slight tensing in him but he seemed in full control. His dark eyes rested on their friend without aggression.
Titus only turned his attention back to Vox when he glimpsed the suggestion of red creatures jumping up and down around her. They tried to pull on the shimmer of two white wings. Both men tensed their grip around the weapons but the phenomenon was gone quickly and Vox emerged from her trance.
“The commander mentioned that Lord Bereveau is missing?”, she asked casually while collecting the cards.
“Yes”, Corven confirmed.
“Well, I found him”, she declared and then her gaze wandered to Titus. “I also know who sent these traitors to Zenith to steal the STC from under our noses.”
Titus narrowed his eyes when he heard this.
“Traitors? STC?”, Corven demanded answers.
“Later”, Vox said, standing up. “These are not the only daemons we saw today.” She pointed a thumb over her shoulder.
“Fuck it”, the rune priest sighed. “Where is he?”
“He’s headed to the holding block or already there. I’m not sure but I am sure that he is about to perform a ritual that will open a rift.”
“Sure enough for a major alarm?”, Corven inquired.
She hesitated but nodded already before she said: “Yes, and I do realise that things are looking bad for me because I listened to the daemons again.”
Corven put away his bolter and drew a deep breath.
“This day gets worse and worse.”
“Welcome back”, Titus said poker-faced, earning a look from Corven.
“Can you be a bit more specific than ‘holding block’?”, the rune priest asked his fellow librarian.
“I saw Orks and sleek, white, flying things”, Vox informed them.
“Great”, Corven said bitterly, straightened up and laid a hand on the helmet on his belt. “Rejoice comrades!”, he said solemnly. “The Emperor has decided to test us to our limits today! Ferone, come in!”, he roared into the vox.
“I read you”, the commander answered immediately.
“We have an alpha red in the inner holding block tract seven!”
There was a short pause. “Corven, to my knowledge you are still in the outer hunting grounds. Where did you get an information like that?”, Ferone inquired.
Corven fixed his dark eyes on Vox.
“From the Emperor Himself, commander”, he said confidently. “And I’d trust Him anywhere.”
“We all do”, Ferone replied. “Apart from you three, I have every Space Marine on the station with me in any case. I’ll take them out for a hunt and meet you there. Ferone out.”
“Come on, you two”, Corven said. “We’ll take the shortcut.”

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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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