Warning : the following story is focused on the Dark Eldar, more specifically, the Haemonculi of Commoragh. As such, it contains topics that some might find disturbing. While I do not believe the narration to be too graphic, this is still the confession of a Haemonculus we are talking about, so ... yeah.

Access to this file is restricted to Ordo personnel with a Crimson-level and above clearance only.

Unauthorized access will be punished by Tetha-grade interrogation, followed by either servitor conversion or execution, as decided by the proper authorities.

Thought for the day : 'Abhor the unclean. Purge the mutant. Despise the witch.'

Preamble :

The many evils that plague our galaxy often entwine with one another, spawning abominable hybrids. An Inquisitor pursuing one trail thinking it the product of a particular evil may often come to find it associated with another instead, or in addition.

Since the day I received my rosette and became an Inquisitor, I have made it my calling to hunt down those who pervert the minds of Imperial citizens, who spread the poison of heresy and the weakness of rebellion. I have aligned myself with the Ordo Hereticus, and I would like to think that my efforts have done some good to the Imperium we all serve.

But though I have dedicated myself to hunting down the witch and the heretic, my path has crossed on occasion monsters and threats that would fall under the purview of other branches of the Inquisition. Such was the case during my investigation of the association of rogues and drug peddlers calling themselves the Shadowed Relievers. These wretched criminals had formed a cartel across several star systems, using trade routes to spread hallucinogenic substances ranging from base numbness-inducing chemicals to elaborate compounds made from substances extracted from alien lifeforms.

For six years, me and my Acolytes tracked down the Shadowed Relievers, marking their bases of operations and their associates, until we were confident none had escaped our sight. Then, with the help of the Arbites and household troops from several noble families of the area that had proven free of taint, we launched a coordinated assault on their lairs, with myself and my trusted Acolytes spear-heading the attack on what we believed to be the Relievers' headquarters.

It was there that we found the leader of the Shadowed Relievers. Until then, we had believed the cartel to be entirely human, with the occasional mutant pulled in to be used as muscle. But the creature we encountered in that hidden moon base could not possibly ever have been human.

I still shiver to recall what we saw on the way to confront it. Its lair was a house of horrors the likes of which I have mercifully never witnessed before or since, where those who had inflicted even the slightest wrong or insult upon it were subjected to hideous torments, kept alive by unholy alchemies that used their bodies as incubators for some of the more rare substances the Relievers had peddled.

It took great effort and sacrifice to subdue the leader of the cartel – though at first I believed it to be dead, and it was only later that I realized it still clung to its wretched life. Its skin was deathly pale, with patches of blackness that reeked of disease and decay. It had six arms that ended in six-fingered hands, and four worm-like tentacles for legs. Its head was what betrayed its origins, though : though it was ravaged by age in a way I had not previously thought possible, it was clearly of Eldar stock.

It refused to give us its name, but its followers had their own for it. As we broke them and extracted their last confessions before committing their souls to the God-Emperor's judgement, they called it "the Sinner". They seemed to have a mix of adoration and disgust for the creature.

I had to execute my own psyker, a woman who had served at my side for decades with unwavering dedication and efficiency, once the last of these confessions were extracted. By that point, doing so was a mercy, for the time she had spent in the mind of the Sinner had driven her to madness. Given the confessions' contents, I shudder to imagine what nightmarish visions of unbound cruelty she might have witnessed with coercing the Sinner to speak. I regret her sacrifice, since it failed to extract any knowledge relevant to my investigation of the group whose activities brought the Sinner to my attention in the first place.

By placing this record in the Ordo's archives, I hope that my peers in the Ordo Xenos might make some use of it, therefore honouring her memory.

In order to provide clarity to some of the creature's ramblings, from which this text was extracted, I have placed my own annotations across this document. I have also included references to other texts sequestered in the Inquisition's archives, though some of them require a clearance level higher than the one I have judged is needed for this particular dismal text.

As for the fate of the Sinner, I initially planned to terminate it. But the knowledge extracted from it made it clear that death might not be enough to end its evil. Instead, it is currently imprisoned within the Inquisitorial facility numbered Nine-Seven-Three-Four, where it is kept in stasis. The details of the methods employed to interrogate it are also stored there, for the use of any Ordo Xenos Inquisitor requiring access to its foul knowledge.

Inquisitor Markus Terkarch, Ordo Hereticus

You cannot imagine the indignity of being made to speak by one such as you, mon-keigh. If you had any idea of the scope of your transgression, you would beg for our (1) forgiveness.

We would not give it to you, of course. We would flay the skin from your body, the muscles from your bones, extract every drop of your blood and replace it with acid, keeping you alive and begging all the while.

We were mighty, once. Ours were powers and privileges the likes of which your feeble mind cannot imagine. Your kind has spread like vermin across the galaxy and called this infestation an empire, but ours was the might of a true Empire.

Within scores of worlds, our will was law. Not the petty law as you comprehend it within the crumbling corpse of your kingdom : what we said, was. Reality was shaped by our decree, our power, our whim. Mountains were moved with our word, lineages reaching to the First War were elevated or cast down on our decision.

We were the lords of life and death. Flesh and soul itself were the materials with which we wove our artistry. Under our touch, we took the base clay of matter and reshaped it into something of the divine (2).

The cities under our rule were realms of such beauty as to melt your blind eyes in their sockets. Trillions of our subjects lived in endless joy, partaking of the very heights of sensation. Nothing was forbidden, and nothing was impossible, for we laughed at such limited thinking. Stars died to fuel the great engines that made existence paradise across our domain (3). New breeds of sentient creatures were crafted for our amusement, to serve us in whatever way we chose. Some we wiped out once we grew bored of them, others we gifted to our vassals as pets, and they were scattered across the boundaries of our realm.

And so it was for a hundred thousand cycles, and a hundred times that again (4).

Though our power was unrivalled, it was not without challenges. Our border worlds were forever tested by the war-beasts you call the Orks.

Time and time again the beasts rose, and for all our power we could not truly destroy them (5). Time and time again we brought ruin to their hordes, we slaughtered their mightiest leaders and made trophies of their enormous skulls, yet they would always return.

The Orks feed off conflict, and the greater the power that opposes them, the greater they will become in return. Such was the genius that went into their creation, though their potential was only manifested once their purpose had passed. Facing the might of our empire, they grew strong indeed.

This is why their descendants are reduced to such pitiful imitations of their forebears in this pathetic age, where all they have to fight are the likes of you and your kind.

And there were others. The powers of the Warp spawned by the mewling thoughts of lesser creatures endlessly tried to bring us down. That little feud that defines so much of your so-called history (6) pales in comparison to the horrors we protected the rest of the galaxy from.

We wonder how you will fare, when the chains we placed upon those ancient evils finally break (7).

We expect there will be much screaming.

In time, we turned from the old gods. Why shouldn't we have ? They had come into existence in an earlier epoch, one when our dominion was yet to be certain.

They had been born out of our desire for protection, and the lingering memories of our distant creators (8). Now that there were none who could threaten us, they had served their purpose.

Understand that this was not the result of later generations forgetting the strife of their forebears. Our people were too great to succumb to such paltry decadence.

Our souls remembered everything, passing from one life to the next without needing to shed any of their potency. We had mastered death, even as we seeded the galaxy with new life.

When we turned from the old gods, it was because we, having achieved our dominion, now desired to enjoy our rightful rewards as conquerors.

And enjoy them we did. We fashioned new gods for this new age, dark muses that presided over our revels and artistic pursuits.

Such wonders we made, such heights of pleasure and sensation we knew ! On and on went the celebrations, without pause or end. We turned worlds into gardens, fashioned continent-spanning labyrinths out of poisoned rose bushes in which millions of our subjects indulged in our generosity. We raised castles of silver and gold on moons, where our chosen courtiers could taste of more rarefied pleasures away from the common rabble. We built living temples, whose slave-minds were tied to our own will.

And still, it wasn't enough. We hungered for more, always more. We no longer needed the shackles of morality that had been necessary before our ascension, and so we discarded the last of them along with the faith to outdated divines.

Oh, the things we did then. All other pleasures, all other sensations, pale in comparison to the thrill of making a star and all those under its light scream together in perfect agony.

We found and explored new forms of beauty, looking at the galaxy through the eyes of the god we had become. Our talents turned from crafting new living tools to the pursuit of these new vistas. Our enemies and servants alike became masterpieces of flesh and pain.

In arenas of living viscera, we pitted brother against brother, mother against son, father against daughter. Sometimes we changed them beforehand so that they would not recognize their foe or know themselves; others, we did not. Sometimes, we returned them to life once they were done; others, we did not. The lamentations of their spirits echoed across our domain and lulled us to sleep.

We grew to love the sight of despair and horror, born of that moment of awful revelation. We searched for more variants of it, tasted it with every possible relation. So many permutations. So many flavors of despair, pain and betrayal.

So many different screams.

And then came that which you call the Fall, as if a single word could encapsulate the horror and greatness of that cataclysm. You believe you know of what we speak, don't you, mon-keigh ?

You know nothing.

You cannot imagine the true nature of the Fall, because its genesis lies in the soul of our kind, who even now in their diminished state remain far greater than any of your bestial species will ever be.

It was not judgement, because the truth of the universe is that there is no such thing as justice.

It was not punishment, because it was what our every deed for the last aeon had converged towards, even if we did not realize it at the time.

It was the consequence. It was apotheosis. It was the goddess we had made, the one we desired in our heart of hearts.

She is us, and we are Her. Just as we stood above our lessers, so too did the Goddess stand above us. Just as we did with them as we pleased, so did She with us.

And Her tastes were similar to ours. How could they be different, when it was from our dreams that She was born ?

She devoured our worlds, and remade them in Her image. She devoured our servants, and brought their shrieking spirits to Her new palace. She tried to devour us, but we eluded Her. We were Her rightful prey, but we are cunning, and we know many secrets.

We fled from Her. We hid in the darkness beyond darkness, discarding our lands and possessions. There was no time, no time at all. We left behind what we loved, what we hated, what we had made. We took only the clothes on your back, the tools in our hands, and we fled.

It was close. So, so close. But we made it (9). We escaped Her hunger, escaped through the lightless tunnels dug up by those who came before.

We came to the outpost that would become Commoragh, and then, standing among a hundred million other exiles, we considered what to do next.

Ages passed then, in the hidden realms where we were safe from the Doom-That-Waits. We found others of our kind, other exiled lords of our lost empire, though few had ever been as great as we once were.

Without the resources of our domains, we were forced to band together for survival, and to ensure we could enjoy at least a fraction of the luxuries we had grown used to. We were forced to bargain with the warlords we had once commanded, trading our knowledge for their plunder. Those who had armies transiting through Commoragh at the moment of Her awakening became the new royalty of our kind, despite having been nothing more than border guards and trophy hunters (10).

We were diminished, a fraction of a shadow of what we once were, yet we found our new situation was not without its pleasures. The restrictions placed upon our work forced us to new heights of inventivity and ingenuity. We rebuilt our laboratories from scratch, and in them crafted weapons and tools that held a fraction of the potency of the ones we had once owned. But even these were valuable beyond measure, and we managed to secure a place of some importance in the cabals that formed among the exiled sovereigns and scientists of our lost empire.

We started anew. Our experiments were smaller in scale, but believe us when we say that the pain we inflicted was not diminished in the slightest. We designed methods by which She-Who-Thirsts might be denied Her due, and the souls of those willing to enter into compact with us restored to life from death.

When it was discovered that through the application of pain, the soul-hunger could be held at bay, we used the great experience we had with matters of suffering to design tortures that could sustain our lesser kindred for days with the torment of a single soul. What had once been a matter of pleasure had now become a necessity to our survival (11). We stretched minds with pain to the breaking point, and found that there is beauty in this, too.

Pain became our bread, screams became our wine, and oh, but the feasts we tasted made the revelries of the past pale in comparison.

So invested were we in those little games, we did not see the ploy of the usurper until it was too late. We hear that he now claims to have witnessed the Fall with his own eyes, but we know this to be a lie. In those days, he was just another vat-grown slave, one of the billions who are spawned and used in the wars of their betters (12).

But despite his low birth, we will not deny his cunning. He drew your lumbering gene-bred brutes to our kingdom. Like puppets, they danced on his strings, and laid low the Houses that had risen from the Fall's aftermath. The towers they had built were toppled, their armies were slain, but most important of all, their image of invincible power was utterly and completely shattered. All of this, we learned later, was done at the usurper's behalf, your warrior-forms unknowingly labouring to fulfill his ambitions (13).

With their downfall came his rise, and the establishment of a new order, one built on power rather than blood. Alliances of convenience replaced familial ties. The towers of the old order fell, and in their place rose a pyramid of cabals, atop which sits the usurper, smiling as he looks down upon us – upon us, the low-bred spawn !

We do not know if we would have stopped him if we could. He is a usurper, a pretender to a throne he has no claim to, but then so were the ones he overthrew. It has been so long since our people were led by those truly worthy of this burden.

And in any case, by the time we realized the truth, by the end of the fire and the collapse and rebuilding of order, it was too late. He (14) held the stolen suns in his hands. He would have taken everything down with him rather than accept defeat.

In this, we find that he is much like us.

We left the Dark City some time after the usurper's ascension. We had grown bored of its pleasures and torments, and sought something different to occupy our eternity (15). We slipped out of the lightless paths of the Webway, following clues and markings we had laid down ourselves during our first desperate flight from our domain. For a long time, we simply wandered, taking in the wonders to be found in the Labyrinthine Dimension. We fed on the slaves we had brought with us, drinking their pain to sustain us until they faded away, one by one.

When the last of them perished to slake our thirst, we took the first portal out we could find, and for the first time in thousands of cycles, we emerged in the material cosmos. We looked upon free stars, upon the vast blackness of space, and felt the old, old hunger rekindle in our breast.

We found just how easily your kind is lured to embrace the tools of their own slow destruction. Concoctions fit only for the sewers of Commoragh were spread among the lowest of the low. Tricks taught to even the most idiotic of apprentices are enough to convince you mon-keigh to part with their wealth in exchange for the slightest extension of their pitiful existences. The outcast and desperate flocked to us, drawn to our power and knowledge. At first we had to hide our true nature from them, for your masters have learned the power of hate well, but soon we didn't need even that.

We built a new kingdom of our own, one made of shadow and dust. It was tiny and pathetic, but it was ours, and you took it for us. We shall have our vengeance for that, mon-keigh.

Death will not save you from us. We shall drag your mewling souls from the abyss and clad them in new flesh, so that you may know true pain.

Oh, yes. You will scream for us. All of you.

We will -

(At this point, the Sinner's confession degenerated into threats of ever-increasing scope and cruelty. I chose to end this account there, as I do not believe anything worth the ongoing suffering of my acolyte could be extracted from the creature.)

(1) Once we managed to persuade the Sinner to speak in Gothic (despite its clear and obvious disgust for our noble language, and my own outrage at having it defiled in such a manner), it insisted on referring to itself in the plural first person. I do not know whether this was due to an affectation, a lacking in its understanding of the Gothic grammar, or an accurate translation of some status it once possessed among its own repugnant kind. For all I know, it might simply be a reflection of the Sinner's madness.

(2) This, combined with what was discovered in the Sinner's lair, indicates that the creature once belonged to the category of xenos commonly referred to as 'Haemonculi'. In what passes for the civilization of the Chaos-corrupted Eldar (usually called 'Dark Eldar' to distinguish them from their Craftworld-bound kin), the Haemonculi occupy a unique position in the societal hierarchy. They serve as surgeons and scientists, offering their services to the lords of their race in exchange for payment of a kind best not considered by Imperial minds.

(3) An exaggeration, or the product of the Sinner's demented mind. Surely.

(4) Consulting other documents revealed that the typical "day" for the Eldar is slightly different than Terran-standard. Assuming that each 'cycle' mentioned by the Sinner refers to one such day, we can calculate that, if its figure of ten million cycles is anything more than metaphor or exaggeration, it ruled over its domain for around thirty thousand years.

If we assume instead that a cycle refers to a period of time closer to a standard Terran year, the calculation's results becomes a great deal more worrying.

(5) This presents us with two possibilities. The first is that the Sinner, and by extension the Eldar species at large, over-inflate the powers possessed by their lost empire, perhaps only when describing it to other species, or perhaps even to themselves. The second is that, even with all the power and technological witchcraft the Eldars wielded at their apogee, not even they were able to purge the greenskin scourge from the galaxy. I would like to think this is the former, but then I remember that the God-Emperor Himself could only destroy the Ork empires that had risen during the Age of Strife, and not exterminate the species as He doubtlessly would have had He possessed the means to do so.

(6) Likely a reference to the Horus Heresy. I have been informed by one of my colleagues that such contempt for the galaxy-spanning conflict that cost us our beloved Emperor and shaped the Imperium as we know it is common among the arrogant Eldar, regardless of their faction.

(7) Again, the Sinner's arrogance is evident. While this is not my area of expertise, I do know that the Imperium has faced countless daemons over the millennia, and cast them back into the foul pits from whence they spawned. Whatever infernal spirits the creature is referring to here, I am certain that my peers of the Ordo Malleus would be able to deal with them.

(8) Part of me isn't surprised that a breed of xenos such as the Eldar wouldn't have come into existence naturally. While my knowledge of the alien is limited, it is still far greater than that of the common Imperial citizen, and the Eldars have always seemed different from the rest of the blights afflicting our fair Imperium.

(9) Which is certainly a pity. I speak with absolute certainty when I say that the galaxy would be a better place if the Sinner had been destroyed by the cataclysm brought for by its race's hubris.

(10) This certainly is a … novel suggestion for the origins of the Houses of Commoragh, which ruled what passes for Dark Eldar society for thousands of years. I suspect that while the Sinner's interpretation might be shared among its blasphemous kin, it would find little favor elsewhere.

(11) It seems strange, to say the least, that the entire Dark Eldar sub-species would be forced to rely upon the suffering of other beings to sustain themselves, especially considering that neither the Craftworld nor Exodite Eldar require it. One might wonder whether this "need" is real, or just a justification used by the Commorites to justify their own cruelty. I leave this matter in the hands of my colleagues in the Ordo Xenos.

(12) Among the Dark Eldar, sexual reproduction is extremely rare, as the degenerate xenos are rarely capable of the devotion and sacrifice of comfort required to bear a child to maturity. They instead use cloning technology to fill up their ranks, and those "trueborn" lord their supposed supremacy over the rest.

(13) This refers to the famous Commoragh Raid of M35, during which the Salamanders Strike Cruiser Forgehammer was dragged from the Desaderian Gulf into the Dark City itself. Details regarding this raid are scarce, but can be found elsewhere in the Inquisitorial archives. Suffice to say that the Salamanders (and their allies, the Howling Griffons and Silver Skulls) distinguished themselves in that operation, and the battle was a great victory for the Imperium, regardless of the Sinner's baseless claim that the Space Marines were manipulated.

(14) This must refer to Asdrubael Vect, currently the most influential individual of the Dark Eldar race, self-styled Supreme Overlord of the Dark City of Commoragh. The list of atrocities committed by this black-souled fiend is one to make even the ancient traitors of the Excommunicate Traitoris Legions envious.

(15) The Sinner is almost certainly (and unsurprisingly) lying here. The records we found in the Shadowed Relievers' headquarters all indicate that it despised its exile from Commoragh. In addition, the heretics we questioned mentioned that it would frequently rant about its rivals, sometimes stopping mid-conversation with one of its servants to go on a tangent about how they had betrayed it and what it would inflict upon them once it returned.

AN : Happy new year !

Not exactly the happiest story to start the year with, I admit. But it has been a while since I did the whole "Inquisitorial document with annotation" thing, and I was struck by inspiration for this one a few months ago.

As always, if you have an idea for a short story, please tell me in the reviews. I already have another one in progress, and work continues on the next parts of the Roboutian Heresy, A Blade Recast, and Warband of the Forsaken Sons (really hoping I can finish that last one this year without another apocalypse-class threat distracting me this time).

Zahariel out.