This page is blighted with mold and the imprint of a memory…
The words seep experience into your open mind…
THROUGH THE EYES OF KATABASIS…
Blood meets a slurry of oil and dark Ether draining into runoff vents in the cabin floor. I sit. A savage din echoes through the harvester craft. I can hear them in the war beast pens below deck. Gnashing teeth maddeningly chewing through restraints. The wet slaps of their bodies battering the walls.
Bahto boards the harvester under a hail of tiny stones. "The hold is secured, and casualties collected." He shuts the bay to the Reef-storm behind him.
"How many?" I ask, noticing the two of us are alone.
He mistakes concern for weakness. "We will be ready for tomorrow's harvest."
I shift the question. "How many more of these things does Qinziq want?"
"Two days of harvest before leaving the Shore."
"She tell you what for?"
"No more than you."
"Following blind orders something that sits well with you?"
"Qinziq does not answer to you, Lightbearer."
"So I've heard." More than once.
"My father spoke like you. Questioned," Bahto grumbles, laying down his gear. "He abandoned Calus to join Ghaul's coup. Disgraced our bloodline. I threw off my father's shackles and pledged my life to the emperor. I was shown mercy. Soon I will reclaim the clout of my line and the right to sire. Loyalty is not blindness. Loyalty is rewarded."
"Sounds like he turned away from a losing battle to one he thought he could win."
"He left when hope seemed small, before he could see victory through." Bahto pauses, pensive. "Calus will expose the secrets of the Darkness and use them to reclaim Torobatl. It will be."
Qinziq blocks the entrance into her lab. It had been hastily transferred from Leviathan to Glykon after our procurement of the ship; all manner of vicious-looking machinery. She raises a finger to my face. Her language restructures in my mind. "You do not belong here."
"I need to know exactly what you're using them for."
"Why? They are animals. Our beasts of burden."
I ponder the ethics. They used to be something else, a deadened part buried and ignored… but…
"Such concern for a Hunter."
She meant to pin me to Cayde. "Ain't any different from defiling a corpse. You people honor your dead, don't you?"
'I do not answer to you,' Qinziq seethes into my mind. She brushes me away and moves to shut the door.
"Bahto does. His soldiers do. Do you want to politely ask the Scorn into confinement, or do you want to be straight with me?"
She scowls at me. "Where is your Ghost?"
"Come," Qinziq says, leading me inside the lab to a bundle of large vats adorned with all manner of pumps and wiring. "This…" she slides a viewing port open on the front-most vat.
Rabid Scorn eyes lock with mine through the view port. Dark fluid roils as the creature flails and fumes muted shrieks into the liquid.
"Natural connection to Darkness made stronger. Their minds, linked like ours, but without Barons, there is nothing to fill them."
I watch it claw frantically against the vat wall until I hear the grating tone of bone-raw fingertips digging into the metal.
"A touch more violent than I'd expect from a mindless thing," I say.
"They subsist off the last thought imposed on them. Kill for Fikrul. For the lost prince. But…" Qinziq presses her hand to the tank. She fixates her eye on the Scorn, and it mellows. Her words are strained. "…with effort, their psyche is a vessel. Through which many expressions can… commune." She releases the Scorn, exhausted, and it drowns again; eyes shrieking terror. "Too many for this one to inhabit."
"How does that help us?"
"Calus will draw the Darkness into them, and we will squeeze from them all they know."
"How?" I insist.
"When we arrive at the anomaly, you will see."
FRENETIC SCRAWL INKED IN THE MARGIN READS: Fungus choked off the turbine maintenance deck. If you find a way in, throw the switch.
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