by Chris Cook

"There is your target," said Nemesis, stretching out a hand towards the hologram of a craftworld drifting slowly through the simulated void. "Vulnath, they call themselves. The Dreamers."

The Dracon, Karainn, took a step towards the image, studying it. The representation of the giant ship showed it to be quite large, even by the standards of the Eldar city-ships. Among the energiser sails and sensor webs, dozens of weapons platforms stood ready to intercept any threat. The ship was a fortress in space.

"Will I attack the craftworld itself?" she eventually said, remembering the battle that had destoyed the Val'tora world several months ago.

"No, I want this time to be slower. You will engage a force on this world," replied the Archon, indicating a bright star some distance away, which suddenly rushed forward, revealing a small green world in its orbit. "Ashenaid. Harvest the force there and return." Karainn nodded.

"It will be done."

"One other thing," said Syrillia, the Kabal's Hierarch, stepping into view through the hologrammatic star, "you will take Kalarte with you."

"The biodread," Karainn said, her voice betraying anger, "I don't need that thing." As soon as she had said the words she knew it was a mistake, and a moment later there was a crack as an agoniser whip closed around her neck. Nemesis pulled her closer, then took her unresisting hand and closed it around the handle of the weapon.

"You know the price of disobedience," she said softly. "Activate," she added, tapping the Dracon's hand. Karainn looked into the Archon's eyes, and found no escape there. Steeling herself, she sent the telepathic signal that would activate the agoniser field.

Pain lanced through her body, and she dropped to her knees. The whip was pulled back, leaving a red collar around her neck where the friction had burned her skin. She fought not to cry out.

"Now go," said Nemesis, "and bring me back something interesting to play with." The Dracon unsteadily rose to her feet and left the hologram chamber. Syrillia watched her go, then turned her attention to Nemesis.

"Do you think she'll win?" she asked. Nemesis, still coiling the whip, shrugged.

"It doesn't matter. It is merely necessary for Vulnath to know they have a new enemy." The Archon waved a hand, causing the hologrammatic images to vanish. "But send word to the Dancer, make sure Dracon Karainn returns intact. She is amusing, you see."

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