The Wave Serpents darted between trees, circling around and regrouping deeper in their territory. Farseer Lireia had watched Thalinia throughout the whole journey, though she said nothing. The Autarch was breathing quickly and her wounds remained unattended to, but every attempt at communication was met with a shake of her head.
The Wave Serpent came to a stop in an opening where Warlocks were still searching for signs of the psychic beacon. The Dire Avengers filed out, leaving Lireia and her wounded sister in the back. As the door closed, Thalinia glared daggers at Lireia, her eyes full of frustration, yet her expression remained one of agony.
“We need the help of the Mon-keigh, huh?” Thalinia started, her tone chiding of the younger Farseer, “if we had not formed up alongside them, we could have ambushed a smaller Tyranid force, attacked a weaker link in the chain. All the Mon-keigh did was attract more Tyranids and alert them to our presence with their booming guns and bravado.”
“Sister, I had a vision, I followed it,” Lireia answered, though Thalinia opened the door to the Wave Serpent and limped out. “Sister, I respect your experience in matters of war. What would you advise?” she asked, following the Autarch out with ease as she lacked even a scratch, whereas her sister was far more worse for wear. Thalinia turned around, staring at Lireia with a soft expression this time.
“You want my honest opinion? This planet is infested with both the Great Enemy and the Tyranid horror. Imperial and Tau forces are also making it a nightmare for us to move around.” She glanced off at the Warlocks momentarily, before looking back at her sister. “Our current strike force is not equipped to deal with all out warfare. They assigned us very few Aspect Warriors, very little support,” she trailed off at the end, sighing and shaking her head, placing a hand on the Farseer’s shoulder, “and assigned an inexperienced Farseer to lead the campaign.”
Farseer Lireia looked around, sighing. “You’re right, sister. Our initial instructions outlined that we were not to engage the enemy, only that we destroyed the beacon and left,” she admitted, casting a rune into the air. “We will remain with a token force to defend the Seer Council. We cannot fight all of our enemies here, so we shall remain in the shadows and continue our search without direct confrontation,” she continued, the rune orbiting her body with a blue glow.
“Then what would you have me do?” Thalinia asked, still gritting her teeth through the pain. “If you believe that we can do so, I will trust in your vision, what-”
“I want you to take the majority of our Aspect Warriors and armoured support back to the Craftworld,” she glanced at the still bleeding Autarch, who at this point was pale and faint from blood loss, “and get yourself patched up. I will direct our efforts here.”
Thalinia smiled, though it was a weak smile. She did not like the idea of leaving her younger, inexperienced sister to command the force alone, but she could see that the young Farseer was not incompetent after her command in the clash with the Tyranids. “Ok, sister. Though I do not promise that I will not return to the battlefield once my wounds are patched up. Someone has to babysit you.”
Lireia smiled back, nodding. “You always were the stubborn one,” she responded before Thalinia made her way back to the Wave Serpent. The engine hummed with energy and the Dire Avengers piled back in, along with the newly arrived survivor from the downed squad. When all the Eldar Aspect Warriors had boarded their transports, they made their way to the space port to begin a mass exodus of the planet.
Farseer Lireia also made her way to the space port. She felt the presence drawing ever closer, this familiar presence that she had felt before going into combat with the Tyranids. The presence was not alone, however. This time, there were multiple presences. Thousands? No, millions, perhaps billions. A new player had entered the arena of war. Lireia stared at the ground in despair. She knew that they were not reinforcements from the Craftworld, or she would have been informed. Then there was the familiarity. It was a strange sensation that crawled up her spine.
“Losing your head, Eldar?” came a voice from behind her. Lireia cast her runes up and pulled her singing spear around, facing the source of the voice. She narrowed her eyes. Before her stood a human woman, clad in expertly crafted black mesh armour and a mesh coat. Her hair was dark brown and swept into a messy ponytail. The woman bore an Inquisitorial seal and appeared to carry one of the humans’ crude force weapons. The woman may be a psyker, but her powers paled in comparison to the Farseer’s, allowing Lireia to covertly read the woman’s surface thoughts. The woman was not hostile, though her presence was unwelcome nonetheless.
“Inquisitor,” Lireia responded, still holding her singing spear in one hand, her runes still swirling around her. “The fact that you have not tried to kill me must mean that you recognise the greater threat on this planet,” she started dryly, still peering suspiciously at the woman.
“There are greater threats to the Imperium on this planet than a small, withdrawing Eldar strike force,” the Inquisitor responded, “plus, pointlessly shedding blood when this planet teems with heretics, traitors and overgrown pests seems excessive when the latter mentioned are far more willing to die.”
Lireia paused for a moment, contemplating her next course of action. She could fry this human’s brain in an instant. She could decapitate her with her spear. This human was foolishly alone, but Lireia saw an opportunity.
“I carry the authority to extend to you a proposition. If you will hear it?” the Inquisitor inquired casually, “though my superior, Inquisitor Lord Tyzell Chaylen can overrule my orders, I believe he will see things my way on matters of the alien.”
“I have studied your kind, Eldar. I know that you have a reason for being here. I know that it is reason enough to spend your already dwindling population to achieve.” The Inquisitor paused for a moment. “We know that you have already struck a bargain with local Imperial forces and wish to extend to you a similar offer. You are on your own, but as long as you stay out of our way, we will stay out of yours.”
“And what makes you think that we will acquiesce to your request?” Lireia challenged, still gripping her spear tightly, despite the Inquisitor’s neutral attitude.
“Because we have roughly two companies of the Emperor’s Adeptus Astartes, as well as hundreds of thousands of trained Imperial Guardsmen at our disposal. We also have the capacity to perform Exterminatus on this planet if necessary. Pooling our resources is better than wasting manpower against each other when Tyranids and heretics infest this planet.” The Inquisitor spoke dryly with a to-the-point tone and, though Lireia did not like it, the human had a point. The humans would wage their wars against the others, the Eldar sweeping through in their wake searching for the beacon.
“Very well, Inquisitor,” Lireia started, turning to walk away from the Inquisitor, “but do not count on the Eldar to help you fight your battles.”
The Inquisitor smiled, nodding her head, “of course, Eldar,” she replied, still smiling as she turned to walk away as well, pulling her hood up to cover her head.
Lireia exited the space port where the last Eldar ships were taking off, preparing to join up with the main fleet to travel through the Webway. She had retained a small standing force of Guardians, Rangers, light vehicles and a handful of Aspect Warriors at her disposal, though she was reliant on the newly arrived Imperials to provide ample distraction whilst she led her Warlocks to find the beacon. The reports from the departing Eldar ships described an imposing fleet entering orbit bearing the iconography of Deredia.
Deredia. The planet’s name answered all of Lireia’s questions about why the presence was so familiar.