Yup, it's half-way between a serious fanfic and crack. My earlier fics ( before GT2 ) were intended to be horror. If you've seen a truly scary fanfic, please do share it with us :)

( damn, now I miss shatteredenigma even more :/ )

Hedatary, what do you mean you hope you "don't miss it" haha XD

And… OMG … Dawn of War II came out ! :D

Hurry up, Blizzard :(

You will Claim Nothing !

"Retreat to the Assembly," Neha telepathically commanded her followers, "I will divert their fire !"

"Farseer …" The reply was muted as the speaker was torched by a Dreadnaught's flamethrower till she went limp and then thrown onto the ground like a rag-doll. Her team charged the walker, but where either seized and in maimed its three-clawed hands or swatted away.

"Go alert the others, prepare for return to the Craftworld !" The Farseer ordered the remaining banshees and warp spiders ( teleporting Eldar warriors ) who immediately disengaged themselves from the melee. The former leapt up and into the surrounding trees, while the latter simply vanished leaving behind rapidly fading afterimages.

They were pursured in every direction by a hail of bolter rounds, fire streams, and plasma missiles, none of which were accurate enough to stop them, as if a strong wind was blowing them off their intended trajectories, noisily tearing up the surrounding vegetation while leaving the escaping Eldar untouched.

When all the Eldar except one had fled the scene, the dozen Space marines still standing turned their attention to that figure standing outside the trapezoidal entrance near the top of the step pyramid at the far side of the clearing, silhouetted against a gradually dimming pillar of blue light which shot up from its apex to the sky.

"I claim this relict in the name of the immortal Emperor !" One of the heavily armed warriors, who, unlike his companions, wore no helmet (revealing a dashing but weathered, hyper-masculine human face ), and had a few extra decorations besides the black Blood Raven icon that dominated the chest of his bulky red armour, raised what appeared to be a long, heavy chainsaw, and charged up the steps of the pyramid towards the figure.

"You will claim nothing !" Neha pointed her hands forward and white hot bolts of lightning shot out from her finger tips to strike the marine, causing the latter to stop half-way up the pyramid and spasm and tremble violently in pain where he stood, just three metres away from her.

"Brother Seargeant !" The rest of the Marines, upon seeing their commander under attack, charged up the pyramid as well, their heavy metallic boots creating a deafening rumble as they beat against the stone steps, which was joined by an equally loud crackling and hissing as more bolts of lightning streaked out from Neha's hands and struck everyone of them as well. "Aaaargh !" As they shook and screamed from the intense pain and shock, they opened fire with their bolters in the Farseer's general direction. Just before they succumbed to the agony caused by concentrated raw psychic energy running through their bodies and tumbled down the pyramid steps, they saw to their dismay that all their bolter rounds slowed down to a halt just a metre in front of their target and drifted down onto the ground at the Farseer's feet, as if impeded by a wall of water, visible only as ripples in the air. Those projectiles that did manage to reach her body bounced harmlessly off her power suit.

Neha frowned with the increased effort, channeling more and more energy into the lightning so as to overwhelm those marines that still refused to fall, including their Commander now doggedly pushing his way towards her inch by inch.

It was a contest of endurance, one in which the hardened Space Marine commander was at a serious advantage.

Neha saw to her horror that several of the marines that she thought she had knocked out were now picking themselves up and staggering up behind their Seargeant. Their armour was dented and tarnished, but their determination was not.

"I have no choice now." Neha whispered as the white glow in her eyes took on a slight purple hue. She never had the chance to execute her last resort, whatever it was, as she suddenly felt daggers being driven into her head. Both her eyes and jaw dropped wider and she clutched her head with one hand.

The Seargeant himself took advantage of the Farseer's momentary loss of concentration to close another inch between the two of them, and swing the upraised chain-sword down before him in a wide diagonal swipe,

drawing a thin spray of blood.

All the lightning died off, and a heavy silence hung over the clearing. Behind the Seargeant, his fellow marines collapsed on the steps from a mixture of relief and exhaustion. Slow metallic footsteps could be heard coming up the steps on another side of the pyramid.

Neha looked down at the long streak of gradually expanding dark red in her abdomen, then to the astonishment of the onlooking marines, she giggled softly. "I should have known …" She looked to her left to see another marine without a helmet ( showing a bald head ) approaching her from that side, a distinctive halberd held in one hand. This man was far older than the Seargeant himself, but still retained the rugged, powerful appearance of a supersoldier of the Imperium. His eyes glowed a dim radium blue.

"Thank you, brother Librarian." The bald nodded in reply to the commander while keeping his eyes on the Farseer,

Who gently fell back …

And ( unseen by the human standing before her ) was caught by an invisible arm just as her back was half a foot from the stone below, then gently lowered to the floor.

The Seargeant raised his chain-sword again, this time standing over Neha to ensure a fatal blow. "This world is ours, witch !"

The witch responded with another unnerving smile. "Indeed …"

Without hesitation, the Seargeant brought the chain-sword down towards the figure lying at his feet, then jerked back in shock as the 'blade' of the weapon broke cleanly in half and its chain flew off in numerous fragments, ricocheting loudly and dangerously off his and the Librarian's armour, the stone floor, and an invisible immaterial barrier that now surrounded the Farseer and sparked with the impacts, hinting at a hollow spherical shape.

The Librarian had caught sight of the entity which had dropped down right behind the Farseer in a green blur and slowed her fall, but before he could act on it, his own halberd broke into two at the middle of its pole, and he staggered back instinctively. He looked down at the surface of the break and noticed that it was completely smooth.

"Too slow, Terran !"

And again, before he could react to the strange telepathic growl, he was struck in the chest with the force of a falling construction beam by a large bird-like hand with grayish scales and knocked back off his feet.

"Brother Librarian !"

"Behind you !" the Librarian shouted as he tried to get up, was pushed back down by an invisible force, and froze.

The Seargeant spun round. He saw noone, except for his fellow marines, who were now pointing excitedly at their helmets and shoulder plates.

"I'm right here !"

He looked up at the source of the voice, and swore.

The harlequin, who stood perfectly balanced with one foot on each of the Seargeant's enormous shoulder plates, knelt down, and brought her face upside down right in front of his, and grinned, while pointing one end of a small bone white tube at his throat. "You did something rather mean to my friend down there, what do you think I should do ?"

"Do what you will. More of us are coming." The Seargeant replied defiantly. "This world belongs to the Imperium !"

"Oh, you humans and your empty boasts." Liya rolled her eyes. She plunged the tube into the side of his neck. The latter gasped, then his expression slackened and he fell limp, while Liya jumped off and darted towards the nearest tree.

"Brother Seargeant !" One of the marines pointed his bolter at the Harlequin. "Stop right there, alien !" The other marines followed suit,

And then gasped and lost grip on their weapons, and looked about in confusion as one by one the latter jerked and spewed out metal fragments with sharp, ear-piercing patters. A few exploded, throwing even more shrapnel around and stunning their owners.

One turned his bolter over to see a coin-sized hole that tunneled right through from one side of the weapon's chamber to the other. He scanned the surrounding forest through the glowing green, eye-like visors of his dome-shaped helmet. "Show yourself !" He shouted in his metallic voice.

Nothing happened.

From one clearing and several trees away, a shadowy figure in a green cloak sitting atop a tree branch lowered his rifle, and smiled. "Foolish mortals …"

He heard two familiar footsteps approaching his tree, and he jumped off the branch to land on the forest floor below.

"Take her back." Zeratul lowered the half-conscious Neha gently onto the floor, and then looked back where he ran from. "I will not be long."

Raam caught his arm. "What are you going to do ?"

"To finish what your Farseer was trying to accomplish." Zeratul looked up at the sky. The column of blue light was completely gone. "In a sense."

The Ranger did not let go. "If you even think of running away …"

"Let him go …" a husky whisper.

"Neha …" For the first time, Liya's voice showed concern and tenderness.

"I know what you want to do, Zeratul." Neha groaned. "I will hate you for it, but I won't stop you …"

"Brother Librarian, are you alright ? What happened just then ?"

"I am fine." The senior psyker ( WH40k word for "psychic". There are psykers in almost every faction. E.g Librarians for the Space Marines … ) rubbed his head to dispel the last of that numbing cold. "Those Eldar have all escaped." He bent down over the Seargeant and placed a hand on the latter's forehead, then sighed in relief once satisfied that the commander was still alive, though still unconscious. He brought his left wrist close to his face and pressed a point on the top of his gauntlet. He then proceeded to send a status report to the Battle Barge, requesting for temporary base construction material, as well as alerting other squads of the situation.

"Shall we pursue them ?" One of the marines asked.

"No, brothers. We will not pursue anyone until we have established an outpost in this location." The Librarian waved his arm casually before him. "For now, we must hold our position until reinforcement arrives."

The marines nodded and proceeded to take up sentry posts at various corners of the pyramid and the clearing.

The Librarian, meanwhile, descended the steps of the pyramid and started examining the structure.

It was, as mentioned, a step pyramid with a square base, built atop a larger stone pavement, all edges rounded and blackened with age. At each corner was the larger than life statue of a tall, lean, humanoid figure facing outward in a battle-ready stance. There were amphibian-like features in the extremities. Curious broken off stubs of what once appeared to be segmented appendages sprouted from behind the elongated Salamander-like head, neck and chin. There were scales, but the stonework was too worn down to show the exact structure of the creature's skin.

Along the pyramid's walls were reliefs depicting strange scenes involving several different kinds of apparently intelligent beings, including the strange amphibians. Some looked alarmingly human, others were of a nightmarish form beyond that which any human mind could conceive.

The top of the pyramid was a small square platform. At each corner was the black statue of an insect-like creature facing the centre of the platform, where the tips of another black structure could be seen.

That was all the dim moonlight would reveal.

The Librarian looked up again at the stone doorway that led into the pyramid's dark interior. "What secrets do you hold ?" He felt tempted to go in and explore, but duty came first.

Just then, he felt a low rumble, and saw that the clearing was once again lit up by a familiar pale blue light.

This time, instead of an aurora, there were points and streaks of light which flew around the fiery column, like moths dancing around an ethereal lamp.

The column itself started as a pillar of phosphorescent blue haze which issued out from the top of the pyramid and rose up to a black object suspended in mid-air directly above. The librarian recognized it to be the same black object that sat barely visible atop the pyramid just a moment ago.

Then a thinner column of intense white light shot down from said object.

The moment it hit the pyramid, the rumbling grew louder, so that he could actually feel it from the ground under his feet.

A cloud of dust and mist rose from the ground around the pyramid, and obscured it's outline.

"Brother Librarian, the relict is collapsing !"

"What ?"

Zeratul kept the crystal, turned and walked back towards the Eldar base.

Soon there would be nothing left of the relict above ground, at least nothing that the Terrans would find interesting.

These Terrans, however, were different from the ones he had seen in the past. These appeared larger, stronger, tougher, and more determined than the humans of the Confederacy or the Dominion, or even the UED expeditionary fleet.

An elite ? Possible. After all, among the protoss Templar themselves there were groups of elites formed based on prowess in combat. As he had once said himself, "Do not be so quick to underestimate these Terrans."

And what would he do now that he had shut down a Xel'Naga temple, burying one of the very objectives of his quest. What appeared to be a Xel'Naga temple that is. Its construction more closely resembled the temples that the Protoss had built to honour the Ancient Ones, though those statues here were clearly not Protoss ( they had mouths and no claws ).

Unlike a real Xel'Naga temple, such mortal edifices could be easily shut down by channeling the energies of the Khaydarin crystals, as the legendary Khas did when he shook an arena to dust during the Aeon of Strife ( the scale of destruction never failed to amaze Zeratul and the Grey Templar wondered if the old legends were not a bit exaggerated ... )

Also unlike a real Xel'Naga temple, such structures contained little of the knowledge and powers of the Ancient Ones, as he learned through his journey.

Was that what Neha was seeking as well ? Why ?

Zeratul quickened his pace.

No G-Man yet I know XD he will appear … sooner or later … in this fic or the next one …

Coming up … Zeratul's first visit to an Eldar Craftworld !

Till then,

Have a good time,

-Star :)