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Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies
Posted: 19 September 2016, 08:09
Diplomacy, Imperial Guard style
Mira had been expecting something odd from the alien weapon and she was not disappointed. The recoil was higher than any pistol she had ever used, but manageable. The sound was a flat whine instead of the electric bark of a laspistol or sharp crack of an autopistol. The impact of the projectile on the ceiling was a loud 'boom' as whatever energy it discharged detonated on impact. She did not take her eyes off the suddenly silent crowd in front of her. All eyes were on her as the pistol went back to her side.
"Do I have your attention?" Mira asked calmly.
"Who are you?" The large human who had won the fight demanded as he shouldered his way through the throng. Mira just waited, her eyes cold and he swallowed hard. She noted the rank of sergeant on his shoulders as he braced to a credible form of attention. "Lieutenant."
All of the troops behind him did the same, she noted. The one of the floor called something that she couldn't hear and an ugly expression crossed the sergeant's face as he started to turn.
"I believe he spoke to me, sergeant." Mira said calmly, not moving.
"Ah... Yes." The sergeant said slowly. "But Ma'am, that is Mikels." His expression when he looked at her told Mira what she needed to know. The soldier on the floor was a problem, quite probably dangerous.
"Ah, there is one in very unit, sergeant..." She trailed off, eyeing him.
"Sergeant Second Class Chiefson, Ma'am." The sergeant said firmly. "254th Kaurava."
"Lieutenant Mira, 203rd Cadia." Mira replied, ignoring the mutter of 'Cadia' that went through the ranks. "Your Commissar is dead." She was expecting cheers or at the very least a reaction of some kind. No one moved and she sighed. "I didn't do it. The aliens who captured you didn't do it. Sergeant Samantha didn't do it." At that, everything in the bay went still. "She is alive."
"He weren't right, Ma'am." The sergeant said softly. "When he come back from quarantine, he weren't right."
"So Sergeant Samantha told me." Mira said with a frown. "You need to know what is happening and I need to ask some hard questions."
"I will give you something hard!" The man on the floor had gotten up, his wrist hanging at a bad angle. The sergeant growled something vile and started to turn, but paused as Mira waved for him to stop.
"How many times have you beaten that man, sergeant?" Mira asked conversationally. The sergeant stared at her and a small smile graced his lips where the troops couldn't see. "Did it ever get through his head that insulting officers is a bad idea?"
"I am the best here!" The man snapped, his eyes roving Mira's uniform. "What you say, filly? Want a ride?" His voice cut off as her hand came up with the pistol again. Everyone around him moved until he stood alone under Mira's sights.
"Let me guess..." Mira said softly. "He was on quarantine duty too." The sergeant stared at her and then at the soldier who had gone still. "And since then, he hasn't been able to keep it in his pants." Not a question.
"No, Ma'am." The sergeant froze and then blanched as Mira took careful aim. "Ma'am."
"For the Emperor." Mira said as she fired. Mikels was tossed off his feet by the shot, but he rebounded to them with inhuman speed, his arm healing before her eyes. "Guard, Down! Fire Warriors!"
She fired again and again, her shots missing with the unfamiliar weapon as the thing that had been impersonating Mikels charged her. She noted the Guard doing as she had commanded, ducking and covering, but some kept their eyes up to see what happened. A series of rapid fire shots slammed past her, the blue bolts connecting to the human form, slowing it but not stopping it even as Mikels' hands morphed into long claws. She squeezed the trigger spot again and again, this time hitting her target as the corrupted human bowled into her, knocking her to the floor. Something loud went off right over her and she stared up at the smoking muzzle of the shotgun-like weapon. She scrambled to her feet as the Fire Warriors moved to flank her, both aiming at the fallen form that smoked nearby. It likely wasn't going to rise as torn as it was, but she wasn't going to stop them if they decided to shoot it again. For some foes, there simply was no overkill.
"What is that?" The sergeant asked form where he was watching warily. Mira noted he was looking at the weapon that had stopped Mikels. "I want one."
"Mikels..." One of the female Guard who was watching suddenly retched. "He was..."
"Tell me you didn't sleep with him." Mira stood up slowly, her aim steady on the female guard who shook her head swiftly. "Sergeant?"
"She would have. They was an item before he went." Sergeant Chiefson said with a frown as he rose as well, he was eyeing the Fire Warriors who hadn't moved or lowered their weapons. "He bother me when he come back and I didn' want discipline to go totally away, so I say not in here. He jump me just before you come in."
"Good call, sergeant. You likely saved her life and soul." Mira said softly. "Anyone else just back from quarantine?" She demanded, her pistol ready as she swept the group with her eyes. No one moved. "Sergeant?"
"No, Ma'am." The sergeant said firmly. "Everyone been here for a while. What the hell going on, Ma'am? These are... He was..." He shook his head. "With all due respect, what the hell going on, lieutenant?"
"Everyone relax. Or try to anyway." Mira said as she forced tense muscles to loosen. "The Tau are here to protect me, no more. They could have killed all of you. They didn't."
"Those xenos neuter people and turn them into zombies." A scared voice piped up from the back and Mira glanced to where a slight man in uniform stood shaking. The sergeant had a resigned expression on his face as he turned to face the man.
"And saying such to their faces is a good idea while they have weapons trained on you, guardsman...?" Mira said in a deceptively mild tone.
"Pmurt." The sergeant offered with a groan. "He our resident conspiracy theorist."
"Joy. There is at least one in every unit." Mira said with feeling and then turned to face the guardsman who met her gaze with a gulp. "Guardsman Pmurt, nothing I say or do will convince you. I know that. So I am not going to try. What is my rank?"
"Ah, lieutenant?" The guard said with a glance around. No one moved or offered him any assistance.
"That means I bear the responsibility for what is going on here." She shook her head. "You all know what High Command will order with the death of a Commissar and the uncovering of Chaos infiltrators." No one moved, no one seemed to be breathing. Such a review always left broken bodies or dead ones in its wake. Innocence meant nothing in such cases. "I don't represent High Command at the moment. I am not in your chain of command."
"Never would have guessed, Lieutenant." The sergeant said dryly, eyeing the Fire Warriors.
"Don't start, sergeant." Mira said with a small smile as she focused on the group. "You know what they will do. I have no love for the Inquisition or its methods. I am here because of an Inquisitor who decided I was inconvenient where I was. He tried to use me to break the will of a Space Marine. Stupid that. I would up in Tau care and they healed my wounds. Not because they needed a slave, but because they wanted information I have. I follow the Emperor as I have my whole life and the enemy that the Emperor himself faced is attacking this system again." At Mira's words, the whole room stilled. She nodded. "No matter our differences, we are Imperial Guard. We hold the line."
'We hold the line' Came muttered from everyone.
"These Tau have never faced Chaos." Mira said quietly. "I have. I faced an invasion on a world called Graia. I did not face it alone. I cannot face it alone here. I need men at my back I can trust to do the job. Can I trust you?"
"You work with xenos." The sergeant said flatly. Mira nodded. "You trust them?"
"More than I trust the brass or the Inquisition." Mira retorted with a snort and more than one of the assembled guard smiled at that. "They have their own agenda, their own purpose for being here and no, I do not know what it is. That said, they could have killed me. Instead, they took time to heal wounds that should have killed me even while I was infected with a very nasty bio-agent targeting them specifically." More than one of the guard grimaced at that and Mira nodded. "They have not tried to convert me and as far as I know, they have not probed my orifices or neutered me, guardsman Pmurt." The guardsman in question flushed as more than one of his fellows laughed at him. "That said, they will look to their own interests first. Everyone does."
"Our orders was to hold the base." Sergeant Chiefson said softly. "Report any incursions. We failed." Mira nodded.
"They came prepared to take the base, Sergeant." Mira said with a frown. "That said, did you fight?"
"Yes, Ma'am." The sergeant said firmly. "Lots of good it done us. Gassed us and we done woke up here."
"Against some foes, the Guard can only fail, sergeant." Mira's frown deepened. "Thing is, you are alive. The Emperor was with you and I might just know why."
"Ma'am?" The sergeant asked slowly.
"You know that really big xenos artillery piece sitting out in the middle of this base?" Mira asked with a grin. The sergeant goggled at her and her smile turned vicious. "I bet the Commissar had the codes to fire it. Even if we cannot find them, these people could figure out how to get around anything the techpriests did to it."
"Ah... Okay Ma'am, but..." The sergeant paused. "It need a target."
"I don't think that will be a problem." Mira said quietly. "The problem, sergeant, is that if we do this, we suddenly paint a big red bull's-eye on us as far as every force in the system is concerned. The Tau have powerful weapons, but against a Chaos force?" She shook her head. "A line needs to be held, guardsmen."
"For xenos?" The female trooper who had spoken snapped. Mira shook her head.
"For Kaurava. The Tau will let you go." Mira said into sudden silence. "They will put you in savior pods and send you off to Kaurava I and most likely a quick death by firing squad. I can't go back. The Inquisitor who hurt me is still out here. He will take me again or order me killed. These have promised me protection and I find... I find the Emperor's light in odd places. If you want to go, you are welcome to. I will fight the enemy until my last breath." She was not really surprised when the female guard who had spoken stepped forward.
"Mikels and I were going to be married." The woman said softly. "Without him... I have nothing else to go back to. I am with you, lieutenant." She saluted. "Guardswoman 1st class Simons." Mira returned it.
The sergeant's face was blank as guard after guard stepped forward to salute and introduce themselves to Mira who returned each salute gravely. Finally, he was the only one left and everyone was looking at him. He shook his head.
"I ain't the best sergeant that ever lived, Ma'am." Chiefson said finally. "I ain't so good with words."
"Do I care?" Mira asked, her tone cold. He looked at her and she smiled a little. It was not a friendly smile. "Sergeant, I lost most of my regiment on Graia. For a week there, I was in command. Yes, it was that bad." Everyone was staring at her as she shuddered in memory. "I was taken and tortured by the Inquisition for speaking my mind about an injustice done to a loyal Space Marine. One who saved my rear end and the remnants of my command. But the Inquisition wanted him, so they took him. I had been touched by him, so they took me. I don't care if you are articulate, if you know etiquette for talking to princes or governors or whatever. I care if you know how to fight." This last was a snarl and more than one of the guard stiffened. "Well?" She demanded of them all. "Will you fight the enemies of the Emperor?"
The cheer that erupted as the sergeant stepped forward and saluted should have brought the roof down.
The three Tau leaders were still in their conference, but the focus had changed.
"She is good." The Por' El said softly as she watched the holo of Mira examining her new troops in detail. "She knows her people and their training. She will be a mighty asset."
"She knew we are drugging her." The Shas'Vre warned. "She won't trust us. With good reason." He glared at the Fio'El who scowled back. "If she discovers what you did, any trust she might have will vanish."
"Once the initial chemical sequences are done, it won't matter." The Fio'El said firmly. "We will put her and the other females in stasis for the trip home and leave the males here. We need her totally controlled until the sequence are done though." The Por'El was glaring at him now too. "Look, I know you don't like acting this way."
"I am actually enjoying it. It is a nice change." The Por'El admitted a bit sheepishly. "Deceiving others has always sat wrongly with me. I like being nice to her. The same as I liked being nice to Agatha. It took a long time to win Agatha over, but I was right, once she was, she became a mighty asset. Mira can be too."
"We are not equipped to alter Mira as thoroughly as Agatha was." The Fio'El said with a growl. "We cannot be sure of her loyalty without tighter controls. We need her restrained chemically and physically."
"Where else can she go?" The Por'El demanded. She glanced at the Shas'Vre who did not comment. "If she goes back to the Imperium, they will kill her and that would be a waste of a magnificent resource. Yes, I have shifted her thoughts away from her duty by acting motherly. By letting her emotions out past her controls so that she has to deal with them. Fio'El, I do like her. For a Gue'la, she is quite special. No."
"For a Gue'la soldier, she is incredible. She is focusing on her duty through her emotions." The Shas'Vre said with a nod. "Tough, strong minded and willing to think instead of following blindly. No." Two votes to one and his was deciding when they were in emergency mode.
"We are going to regret this." The Fio'El said flatly. "Without some form of control, she will turn on us."
"Are we become the Ethereals now?" Por'El Salierra asked softly. "'Nothing else must be but complete slavish obedience'? Fio'El, you should not have done that on her downtime. " She shook her head. "What is wrong?" The Shas'Vre looked at her and then at the Fio'El who did not move. "Fio'El. What is wrong? You didn't think this way yesterday."
"I..." The Fio'El did not want to answer, but Salierra's gaze was strong. No psychic compulsion could match a Water Caste's glare. "I found my relative's apartment. She and her family were still there. The door had been blocked and fire sent through the vents. The invaders never bothered to clean it up." The Por'El gasped and the Shas'Vre shook his head. "The Gue'la are monsters."
"So are we." The Por'El said softly. "Don't tell me that we cannot be just as brutal. Mira cannot ever know that we burned her skin off to keep the diseases from our midst. Agatha thinks the Inquisitor did it, but she suspects. She won't say anything, but she suspects. Where else would Mira have survived such except in our medical ward?"
"The lieutenant might accept that." The Shas'Vre said with a frown. "She knows the costs of such weapons. A warning through. She is quite like the Fire Caste in some ways. If we hurt one of her soldiers while she is free? All hell will break loose. We do not want her actively fighting us, Fio'El. We don't have nearly the resources to fight her and an outside threat. You shouldn't have started the sequences without consulting us."
"I..." The Fio'El seemed to wilt. "No. No, we do not want that. I am emotional."
"You have a right to it." Salierra said sadly. "But we were all chosen for this mission because of our talents and flexibility. Mira is my responsibility. I will see her taken care of." The Shas'Vre glanced at her and she clarified. "After the test is done and we can leave. The samples?"
"Taken and stored." The Fio'El said flatly. "I wasn't expecting anything, but the airlocks on the storage bunker worked perfectly. The DNA is perfectly preserved and I have divided each sample up across each ship for when we need to flee. The eggs you discovered are also spread out across each ship. The stasis pods with the children likewise. Some will make it back to the Enclaves if any of us do."
"Good." The Shas'Vre said flatly. "The special defense is assembled and I have a team training to use it now. They will not be as good as ones trained from the beginning in it, but they will be able to use it. The Ar'ka cannon?"
"The Ar'ka is a mess, but repairable. There are teams working to restore all function as we speak." The Fio'EL said with a grunt. "Apparently the Gue'la used it a few times without the proper safety protocols." All three of them shared a grimace. "They are lucky they didn't blow the moon in half with an overload."
"Mira will want to use it on the Chaos forces." The Por'El said with a frown. "With her emotions free, she feels very strongly about them. Her hate is powerful. As powerful as Agatha's was."
"And when she realizes just how much she has been manipulated?" The Shas'Vre asked.
"Hopefully, she won't until we leave and can get her into stasis. When she wakes, she will be in the Enclaves with a team of specialists like the ones who worked with Agatha. Mental specialists who can help her through it, let her see the good that she can do. Ease her into her new role." The Por'El said with a frown. "If not? The best we can hope for is she kills herself."
"The worst? She tries to kill us like Agatha did."
Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies
Posted: 20 September 2016, 08:43
Mira felt wrong in this armor. It fit well and one glance at it was all it took to see it was far more protection than her standard issue flak set had been. The back mounted pack that held ammunition, communications, rations, water and all the other usual essentials was far more comfortable and better balanced than any Imperial Guard equipment she had ever worn. That wasn't the problem. The problem was the emblem emblazoned on the front of the red breastplate. A Tau emblem, she had been told it was the Enclave's. It also adorned the angled rectangular plate that was strapped to the left shoulder of the armor. Even the armored boots felt good on her feet, they fit her perfectly. The helmet...? Not quite, but they never did fit right. At least it was good old Imperial Guard issue, brown and green the Cadian pattern. Even if the Tau had added some communication gear to it, it looked, felt and even smelled right to Mira.
She had wanted to wear only Imperial Guard issue. The base had stocks of everything close to her size. She had argued, in front of her troops and not. She had argued until she was blue in the face, but none of her arguments meant anything at all to the Shas'Vre. He wanted her protected, she would be. She had half expected him to order her to make a command center well behind any defense lines, but he hadn't. That was good, because there were some things she simply would not budge on. She was not going to lead her troops from kilometers behind the lines. That wasn't her way. The Fire Warriors had offered her one of their rifles and she had declined, content to use a standard M36 Kantrael Pattern Lasrifle once she had it properly set up with a zeroed scope and expanded magazine to her satisfaction. After her experience with the pulse pistol, she was fully aware of the power of Tau weapons, but she had no time to gain any experience with them. Better to go into battle with what she knew even if it wasn't as good as what the Tau had.
The armory of the base had been an eye opener. This place hadn't been a popular post for a long, long time. If it had ever been one. The mass of gear available was ancient junk for the most part. Who the hell used Malacor heavy tanks anymore? The mass of metal certainly looked imposing, but it was a useless pile of junk with an inactive reactor. At least the stockpiles of ammunition were sufficient for a company instead of the platoon she had. A full strength guard squad was nine guardsmen and a sergeant. A platoon, two to six squads. She only had one sergeant, Chiefson, and then thirty four other Guard, two of which the Tau medics took one look at and almost unilaterally quarantined. She wasn't sure what the two women had been exposed to, neither did they according to their words, but no one was going to argue when Fire Warriors came for them. So thirty three total plus her. Not such a great start.
On the plus side, the guardsmen's weapons -when they were allowed them again- were in fine order. But again, it was a mixed bag. She had two infantry squads with lasrifles, a heavy weapons squad with two heavy bolters and a lascannon, a two guard sniper team that included guardswoman Simons and five armor crew including Chiefson. Where she was going to get a working Leman Russ for them, she had no idea. All of the vehicles in the armory had all been disabled, in some cases explosively, when the Tau had attacked. The crew thought they might be able to get one Leman Russ working in a day or so but even then, its capability would be limited. It was probably just as well that the Tau didn't try to hold ground. Any conceivable assault would tear right through this force like a chainsword. The Tau had a lot more troops, including some odd armor but Mira wasn't involved with them except peripherally. Again, she was more comfortable with the guards.
Case in point...
Mira fought hard not to salute as she was ushered into the command post and the Shas'Vre nodded to her. Part of her wondered why she was trying to offer a xenos Imperial Guard military courtesy. The rest of her focused on her task at hand.
"Lieutenant." The Tau Commander nodded to her. "Report."
"Sir." She nodded back. "The units are equipped and set as best we can make them. We can deploy the troops anywhere close to the armory in a matter of minutes. Anywhere further will require transportation. The armor crew say they can probably get a Leman Russ working by the end of the day, but it will not be mobile."
"If it is not mobile, lieutenant, it is an easy target." The Shas'Vre said with a frown. She nodded.
"Those five are not trained for close quarters battle, sir." Mira said flatly. "Putting them on a firing line is a last resort. They will fight, that I have no question about. But..." She shrugged. "It would be inefficient."
"Pity you were not born Tau, Lieutenant." The Shas'Vre said with a small smile. "You would make a hell of a Fire Warrior." She smiled back but it faded.
"The battle in space, sir?"
"Ongoing." The Shas'Vre turned to a holo screen and waved Mira to stand beside him. She did and frowned as the hologram's alien language morphed under her eyes to Gothic, the standard language of the Imperium. The Fire Warrior commander looked at her and she shook her head, the visuals changing back to alien script. "Problem?"
"I don't know, sir." Mira admitted. "I could have sworn the script changed to Gothic." The Fire Warrior stiffened and stared at the screen, but the symbols were unintelligible to Mira now. "I must be tired, sir."
"When did you sleep last, Lieutenant?" The Shas'Vre asked, his face grave.
"Sleep, sir? What is this 'sleep' thing you speak of?" Mira quipped and the Fire Warrior actually smiled. She shook her head. "Seriously, I got six hours last night, but I don't feel rested. I think... Yes, I felt like this just before the drop on Graia. Pre-battle jitters."
"Ah yes." The Fire Warrior nodded sagely. "The waiting never gets any easier. It gets better, but never really any easier." He shook his head. "The Ar'ka is ready to fire. All we need is a target."
"You could leave." Mira said softly and the Shas'Vre glanced at her. "The cannon is why you came, isn't it?"
"One of the reasons." The Shas'Vre admitted. "The Ethereals ordering the construction of such a thing is not unexpected. Sooner or later, they will come after us. We deny their supremacy and no matter what they spout, they cannot allow any divisions to lessen their authority. We need to know the strengths and weaknesses of the cannon and that means it has to be tested."
"If the Chaos forces hadn't come..." Mira said slowly. "What would you have targeted?"
"Probably the Gue'La Governor General's palace." The Shas'Vre said with a grunt. "The Tau here were fleeing. They had been beaten. He didn't let them. From the reports, maybe a hundred Tau escaped the slaughter. Few of those made it home."
"The Imperium has learned the hard way that letting an enemy go is usually a bad idea. They have a tendency to come back wanting revenge. Orks in particular." Mira said sadly. "War is not about right or wrong. It is about survival."
"I know." The Shas'Vre said with a very human sounding sigh. "The original plan was to fire a few shots, then pack up whatever we could and leave before they could respond. But with so much fighting all around, leaving will be problematic. I wish the Ar'Ka could target spacecraft, but the cannon's targeting is not that precise."
"They are trying to break the quarantine." Mira said flatly after a long look at the screen where two Imperial cruisers were slugging it out with a Chaos battleship. "They must be after something there. But what?"
"Sir!" A communications Tau spoke up from nearby and both Mira and the Shas'Vre turned to look. "A general broadcast is going out from Kaurava IV.
"Let's hear it." The Shas'Vre said with a nod.
"Rejoice, slaves of the Corpse God!" A grating voice sounded from the speakers. "Your slavery ends today! Your ships and armies mean nothing for the Warp is strong again."
"Where is that coming from?" Mira demanded angrily, then looked apology at the Shas'Vre who waved it away. "If it is on the planet..." The Shas'Vre smiled at her feral tone.
"Then we just got a target." The Tau agreed.
"it is!" The tech said excitedly. "Sending coordinates now."
"Lieutenant?" The Tau Commander nodded to a console nearby on which a large button started pulsing red. "You lost men to these madmen. The Greater Good will be served by you best, I think."
Mira had a wide smile on her face as she pushed the button. She barely heard her voice speak as an incredible whine sounded nearby. The words that came from her mouth were in the Tau language but they did not register over the sound of the cannon charging. The Shas'Vre did not react, but others glanced at her before returning to their screens.
<For the Greater Good!>
Nothing could hide the massive power build up that energized the Ar'ka cannon. The Tau didn't bother to try. Nothing could stop it either. The ion cannon technology that had given rise to the massive weapon tore through shields and armor was irrelevant. The bolt that erupted from the cannon was actually slightly less powerful than the bolts that the expeditionary force Tau had fired to decimate the Space Marine and Ork forces on Kaurava II, but the difference was pretty much moot. The bolt tore through space at lightspeed. Against literally astronomical odds, a Chaos Iconoclast raider was in the wrong place at the wrong time and simply evaporated. But that was a side effect. Not the actual target. It didn't diminish the blast at all.
The massive blue bolt hit Kaurava IV less than ten seconds after firing.
"What in the Emperor's name was that? Where did it come from?"
Admiral Geralt tasted blood as he shouted at his sensor crew. At one point, his flagship had taken a pounding from both Chaos battleships and he had been slammed to the deck more than once. One of those battleships was now a drifting hulk, courtesy of a series of adroit bomber attacks that had finally scored a direct hit on its engines and the fury of the orbital defenses which had finished it. He would have to commend the bomber crews and orbital gunners who had scored that kill, it had likely saved his fleet. The other was simply too dangerous for small craft, even escorts, to approach and the cruisers were pounding it every chance they got.
"Massive power reading from the moon of Kaurava II." The sensor tech called. He wasn't the original one. That man had been caught in an explosion and killed. Ensign Koris had also perished in that blast but he had been a credit to his uniform until then. "Sir! Massive energy blast on the Kaurava IV! The bolt hit the Chaos fortress ruins!"
"I think someone didn't like the broadcast." Geralt had to snicker at his own humor. He hadn't liked it either, but he had been a bit busy. He jerked as the Chaos battleship that was covered in Nurgle's touch suddenly lit all of its drives. "Where are they going?" Then he groaned. "Oh, don't tell me..."
"Course is for Kaurava II's moon, sir." The tech said weakly.
"They are going to try and take the cannon." Geralt shook his head. The battle was still going on in earnest. He had nothing to send after the battleship. "Use it against us."
"Sir!" The tech called and Geralt snarled halfheartedly. "New contact!"
"What now?" Geralt demanded. But the tech's next exclamation was joyous!
"Ultramarines Strike Cruiser!" The tech crowed. "Adeptus Asartes moving to engage the battleship!"
"Praise the Emperor!" the Admiral said with a feeling of hope as he stared at the new signal on his holo, marked Winds of Tallassar. "Contact them. Notify them of the situation. Warn them about the cannon. We still have a battle to win."
"Yes sir!" The tech spun back and then froze. "Ah, sir... Com for you. It is an Inquisitor."
"What now?" Geralt demanded and then sighed. "Shunt it here." He activated the privacy filters and spoke even as the com came alive. "Inquisitor, this is not a good time."
"You will destroy the alien weapon on Kaurava II." The Inquisitor said flatly. His eyes were cold, dark pits and Geralt suddenly felt very alone.
"Inquisitor, we are in the middle of a battle that we may very well not win." Geralt said flatly. "I cannot justify sending any forces to the moon when we are outnumbered almost two to one."
"I do not care for excuses." The Inquisitor showed no emotion at all. "You will send your fleet to Kaurava II and destroy that xenos abomination. Blow the whole moon to pieces if you must, but that is an order, Admiral." The com cut off and Geralt stared at it, stunned. His duty was to Kaurava and the Chaos forces were scattered throughout the system.
"Where did that transmission come from?" Geralt asked in a monotone when he deactivated the filters. The com tech stared at him "Where, damn it!"
"Kaurava IV, sir." The tech replied after a moment, then his face turned scared. "The fortress."
"I see." The Admiral felt his illustrious career fall to pieces around him. "Fleet, prepare to maneuver. Navigation. Plot a course for the moon of Kaurava II but do not execute."
"Sir?" The navigator queried but one glance at the Admiral's face had the abhuman turning back to his displays. The admiral took a deep breath and spoke again.
"Get me the Governor General."
"I think we have their attention." Mira said with a grim smile for the Shas'vre. He returned it with one that was only slightly forced. The space battle had seemed to pause as the cannon had fired but then the largest ship, a massive and ugly Chaos battleship, had turned towards the moon. Its intent was clear. "How many more shots will you need to test it?"
"As many as we can." The Shas'Vre replied evenly even as he eyed the nasty looking Chaos ship. Then he paused. "Another ship moving on the Chaos force? What is that?"
"Gue'la Space Marines!" A sensor tech replied, naked fear in her voice. Who could blame her? The Emperor's Angels of Death had little regard for any life, let alone xenos life.
"Be calm." Mira said before the Shas'Vre could. "Unless we give them a reason to target us, they will attack the Chaos first. You don't know hate until you have seen how the Space Marines feel about Chaos. As fanatical as they are generally? Their hate soars to new heights when they face Chaos. It is incredible and terrifying to see." She turned to the Shas'Vre. "Sir? My advice is to ignore the Space Marines until and unless they head this way. We cannot target ships in space with the big gun as you say and even if we could? It would make them angry."
The Shas'vre winced at that and nodded. "I have fought Gue'ron'sha, your 'Space Marines', before." The old Tau said with a grimace. "And yes, if we can keep from doing so as long as possible, it is far better. The Chaos ship will be here before they can intercept it. Oh, I so wish we could target ships with the Ar'ka."
"Can we use the Ar'Ka to target enemies when they land here?" Mira asked. The Shas'Vre stared at her and then whirled to his techs who started checking displays without being asked.
"Yes." A tech said in a reassured voice a few moments later. "Lower power shots in a spread pattern and it will still take time to recharge the capacitors after each discharge. But we can!"
"Good thought, lieutenant." The Shas'Vre said with a smile. "You just saved a lot of us."
"Good." Mira paused, why was she suddenly dizzy? "I...?" How had she gotten on the floor? Then pain started. Inside her head!
"Lieutenant!" The Shas'Vre's sharp voice came from far away. "Get the Por'El! Now!"
Mira was writhing in agony as something pulled her apart from inside her head. Gentle three fingers hands held her down as she fought to rise. She had to... She had too...
"Easy, Mira." The Por'El's worried voice sounded from close at hand. "Agatha, is it what I fear?"
"Yes." The sister's worried voice cut through Mira's pain and fear like a knife. "Mira, be calm. We will help you." But those words... Memory flooded in and Mira screamed as she saw Tau in medical garb bending towards her with things in their hands. Things that burned with fire that wasn't holy. She started to struggle even as the pain inside her head spiked to new levels. "Mira! No!"
"Enough." The Por'El's tone was suddenly stern. "Mira, code Vatish."
Mira felt all volition drain from her, all emotion, all pain. She was suddenly floating on nothing as the Por'El continued to speak. Words that Mira did not know. But she did! She was calm, she was at peace. She belonged. She felt a familiar light rise within her and she reached for it, but it was blocked somehow and she cried, bereft. Then it all went away.
"Of all the stupid... What was he thinking?" Agatha's muttering was what Mira heard first when she regained consciousness.
"He wasn't thinking. He was angry. He was wrong to do what he did and he will face censure for it if he survives this mess." The Por'El was just as angry. "He was angry but that does not excuse it. Mira, can you hear me?"
"Yes." Mira managed through whatever was holding her. It felt like a cloud, but firm.
"The Fio'El did something to you. It wasn't authorized." The Por'El was somewhere between horror and anger. "You are not going mad. You are integrating."
"Integrating?" Mira asked carefully. Her mind wasn't working right. "Integrating... what?"
Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies
Posted: 21 September 2016, 08:10
For the Emperor
The forces of Chaos were notorious raiders. They had been since the dawn of recorded human history. They appeared, wrought carnage and vanished as quickly as they had come, bent on causing the maximum amount of fear, death and destruction as possible to sate the dark gods that they followed. They were scary, no question. But there were some things that they feared.
A hymn of battle reverberated through the strike cruiser Winds of Tallassar as Space Marines settled into position. The mixed team of Blood Ravens and Ultramarines had been tasked with a critical mission, disable the enemy battleship. The Chaos vessel bore the mark of Nurgle, so all knew the dangers. The Chaos God of Decay was no joke at all. But as always, the Emperor's Angels of Death were up to the task. This was what they had been made for. The impossible.
The massive Space Marine starship shuddered as it closed with the enemy battlewagon. Enemy fire or something worse? It didn't matter. The countdown had started and as the hymn changed to the Litanies of Hate, the boarding pods flew. Thunderhawks also launched from the mighty ship's bays, but one Space Marine in particular was not aboard any of those. He was not happy about that.
Scout Sergeant Cyrus defined patient most of the time. His job -besides training initiates in all of the myriad things that made them eventually into Blood Ravens if they survived- was to be a ghost. His missions involved stealth and surprise. Rarely did any of his enemies even have a glimmer that he was in the area before he and his hand-picked team struck and vanished just as swiftly, leaving corpses and destruction in their wake. As a sniper, he was almost unparalleled in known Blood Raven history, routinely making shots against high value enemies that left the rest of his battle bothers whistling in silent awe. Silent because if they made noise and spoiled his shots he got... grumpy. The fact that he had been in Aurelia when the Tyranids had struck had been blessing from the Emperor. His knowledge of the enemy had been instrumental in the victories that the insanely outnumbered Blood Ravens had pulled off again and again. He made everything he did look easy. Most of the time.
Right now, though, the veteran sergeant was fuming. Not that any casual observer would notice. But any Blood Raven who had ever seen him in action would know. They all stepped very carefully around Cyrus when he got close to losing his temper. He didn't very often, thank the Emperor. Things tended to explode.
"Sergeant." Cyrus spun to see Captain Janus approaching. The other Blood Ravens had been deployed with Ultramarine strike forces to attack the Chaos ship. Cyrus could have gladly done the same and he itched to put some bolter rounds in some Chaos scum. Well, that and leave a few 'presents' for them of the explosive variety. The captain was no fool. "You are upset."
"I am a Space Marine, sir." Cyrus replied, stepping hard on his temper. "I do as ordered."
"Indeed you do." Janus nodded. "Which is why I need you to take a squad of my scouts with you and reconnoiter the old Tau base." Cyrus stiffened at that and Janus nodded. "Apparently, just before we arrived, the cannon there fired on the Chaos fortress site."
"Emperor." A dash of cold water couldn't have doused Cyrus' ire so fast. He had seen first-hand what the cannon could do. "Do we know who holds it, sir? I know the Guard took the moon, eventually." He hadn't paid a lot of attention at the time. He had been busy trying not to die.
"The Imperial forces haven't said, but I assume that since they are freaked about it, they are not in control of it." Janus said with a frown. "I am about to deploy with my Terminators to the battleship. So you are on your own." He smiled. "Just the way you like it?"
"Usually. Orders, sir?" Cyrus asked as he quickly ran a mental catalogue of what he would need. The Ultramarine scouts were good, if not quite Blood Raven quality, then solid, dependable initiates. He had worked with far worse.
"Find out who is in control of that cannon, sergeant." Janus said firmly. "If they are enemies, deal with the situation however you must." He paused and shook his head. "Whoever it was fired on a broadcast by a Chaos scum, so..." He shrugged. "We don't know."
"What is the battleship doing, sir?" Cyrus asked as he turned to a locker that held weapons and pulled out a sniper rifle. The captain wouldn't mind talking to his back. Both were Space Marines and knew that time was the single most precious commodity in any battle. Cyrus' hands flew over the rifle, checking it even though he had checked it less than an hour before. It was his most prized possession, a relic from chapter stores that had been assigned to him during the mess with the Arch Traitor Azariah Kyras. It didn't do a lot of damage for a sniper rifle. At least not initially. Then the nastiness packed into each round started to work, often turning the target into a welter of blood and bone. Extremely accurate to any range Cyrus had ever tried and extremely quiet, the weapon was his choice for such situations.
"Moving toward the moon. Either to bombard the base or drop troops. We are picking up signs of live generators at the base, so they probably have shields to deflect bombardment. Troops is my guess." The Ultramarine replied. "Not sure. Either way, you and your teams will be on your own until we can settle these scum."
"Give them hell, Captain." Cyrus braced to a proper form and gave the captain a proper salute which the Ultramarine returned gravely. Then he was gone. Cyrus did not waste time, as he moved towards the exit of the bay, he lifted a hand and made a circling gesture. His team were at his side in moments.
Cyrus had spent time with the other Blood Ravens determining the various parts of the ship in case of boarding or other ship to ship action. The drop pod bays were not far and his team was joined by nine scouts and a sergeant in Ultramarine colors. He nodded to his colleague who nodded back. Nothing really needed to be said as the teams started boarding the drop pods. This was much of what Space Marine scouts did. Gather information for the commanders to use.
The Ultramarine scout sergeant nodded to Cyrus and stepped away from the loading for a moment. Cyrus followed and nodded.
"Can we disable such a thing?" The sergeant's name was Killian and Cyrus liked what he saw of the Space Marine. Competent, not arrogant. "I know very little of this xenotech." That was another thing Cyrus liked about him, he wasn't afraid to ask questions. A trait far too rare in far too many Space Marines in Cyrus' opinion.
"I have seen some. Some of it here. Tau tech is usually a bit fragile." Cyrus said with a frown. "So yes, but I would prefer not to. Let the Guard clean up their mess if we can. Tau weapons have a tendency to go 'boom' if tampered with. That kind of power will make a hell of a mess." It went unsaid that if the scout teams were anywhere nearby when it went boom, none of them would be returning to the Strike Cruiser. One did not join the Space Marines for 'safe' though. "We go in, get the information on who is in control of the cannon, then get out and report. Simple."
"I never picked you for an optimist, Sergeant Cyrus." KJillian said with a grin that faded as Cyrus turned a bleak face to him.
"Part of me died here with far too many initiates, Killian." Cyrus said in tone too quiet for the other scouts to catch. "Time to avenge it and them." Killian looked sharply at the Blood Raven and then reached out with a hand. Cyrus took it and the two Space Marines clasped wrists in an age old tradition of warrior before battle.
The two scout sergeants moved to their pods and entered. They were the last in, they would be the first off. Again, not particularly safe, but they would need to see the battlefield first hand as soon as they arrived. The initiates were singing. None of them were full Space Marines yet, but all had a great deal of experience as scouts. No one passed Cyrus' tutelage without having a lot of combat experience. That was after all in the end, the only true teacher for much of what Space Marines were.
The drop pod slammed into launch position and Cyrus exhaled sharply. The hymn was meant for this particular situation and had a spot reserved for the exhale. He was glad to see all of his scouts doing likewise. Only fool tried to keep their breath when-
As always the massive acceleration tore through Cyrus and it took iron control to keep the words of the hymn going. Two of the scouts could not manage that and they would pay for that later. If there was a later. Drop pods were the Space Marines' go-to method of orbit to ground travel in combat. Thirty seconds from orbit to dirt. It only felt like an eternity. Even with the best gravity dampening technology the Imperium had, the pods were not comfortable or safe. Nothing but a teleporter beat them for speed, however and the tactical advantages were huge. Drop pods allowed entire squads of Space Marines to deploy virtually anywhere on a planet at a moment's notice. Many, many enemies had learned to their cost that Space Marines could -and did!- drop right into the heart of their enemies, targeting commanders, control facilities, and generally wreaking the havoc that was the hallmark of the Adeptus Asartes.
The sergeant was counting and was not surprised when the final retro thruster ignited, slowing the pod to a velocity that wouldn't crush even Space Marines into paste on impact. The pod slammed down and he hit the quick release on his restraints, sliding for the door even as it dropped, showing a barren moonscape. There was atmosphere and he remembered the one time he had scouted the area, totally against Captain Boreale's orders. What the Captain never knew wasn't ever a concern. Cyrus hadn't survived as long as he had by ignoring threats. One quick look around the moon had shown that the Tau were not the upstart band of ideological idiots that Boreale took them for, but would the idiot listen? Hell no. Boreale knew what he knew and no one else had a clue. Even now, Cyrus could hear the captain blathering. He gave himself a savage shake to banish the past. They had a job to do.
A quick hand gesture had the squad fan out. No one seemed to have noticed the pod landing. They were not exactly stealthy, but they were fast and hard to see. Cyrus snarled as something whirred in the distance. A quick flip and his scope was to his flesh and blood eye. His eye narrowed as he saw a Tau drone hovering just beyond the lip of a ridge. So much for infiltrating without being seen. He fired, but the drone retreated?
What the-? Cyrus shook his head and made a savage gesture to the squad. They fled the open area around the pod, seeking shelter among a series of rocks further away even as Cyrus tried to find the drone with his scope. He had a good position and...
Some sixth sense or just long experience had Cyrus hugging the dirt as two small fast things came flying over the hill where the drone had been. He snarled as he saw the seeker missiles. As expected, they slammed into the drop pod, reducing it along with the weapon and ammunition stores within to slag. At least the rather large store of ammunition didn't cook off. That might have ruined his day.
There! He fired and was in motion even as the Tau drone staggered in mid-air. It seemed to hesitate and he smirked as the xenos machine became a tiny fireball. He made a gesture and the squad moved out sharply in order. The dictates of the Codex Astartes were clear on most matters pertaining to Space Marines, but they left some wiggle room when it came to scouting. In this case, he did not want to be anywhere near the burning pod when the next Tau response came. Scouts wore light armor. Their weapons let them hit far heavier than any human force could dream, but they couldn't take the same punishment that fully armored Space Marines could. He eased up and then keyed his infiltration systems active. Each of his scouts faded from sight as he did. He couldn't keep it up for long, just long enough to clear the area and...
He bit back a groan as he heard something he had been praying not to hear. He waved for his team to pick up the pace and they did. The sound came again, closer and he sighed. This was going to be a long day.
The sound was the hunting cry of a Kroot war party.
The command center was almost empty now. Only a few Fire Warriors stood where techs had been. They were not as good with the sensors or communications, but they would do the job. Almost all Tau who could go were gone.
"We have Gue'la Space Marine scouts on the ground at point seven but we have lost our visual on them. Kroot are in pursuit." The Shas'vre shook his head as he tried to ignore the strangled sounds behind him. A mix of Gothic and Tau splattered with invective in both languages. Mira was not doing well at all. "They are almost certainly going to go for the Ar'Ka. Is Mira functional at all?"
"No." The Por'El said with a snarl that was totally unlike her. "She is fluctuating between thinking she is Mira of the Imperial Guard and Mi'Ria of the Fire Caste."
"What? What the hell did the Fio'El do?" The Shas'Vre spun to stare at Mira and then forced himself to turn back to his consoles.
"I don't think he did this." The Por'El said sadly. "I think it is Mira trying to cope with a sudden influx of Tau information in chemical form overloading her brain. There is a reason it takes teams of specialists to do things like this. And a reason it takes years. I don't know how to help her, Shas'Vre."
"We need her to command the humans." The Shas'vre said with a grunt. "Without them, we have no choice but to flee. As hostile as space is overhead at the moment, I doubt any of us will get clear."
"Then we get her." Agatha's voice was odd and both Tau spun to stare at her. "Por'El, Shas'vre, stand away." She bent down beside Mira and her hands were suddenly glowing with a bright golden light. Her voice was soft and gentle as the blind sister bent over the whimpering human soldier. "Mira. Mira, come back to us."
"Agatha!" Mira screamed in agony as Agatha's hand touched her arm. The scream cut off suddenly and her eyes opened. They held horror. "Agatha. No..."
"What will be, will be, Mira." Agatha said sadly. "We didn't intend this. We really did want to help." She slowly collapsed beside Mira who caught her, eyes suddenly welling.
"Agatha!" The Por'El said quickly, but the ancient human shook her head.
"You gave me a new life, Por'El Salierra. One I did not deserve. Let me repay the debt." Agatha was slumped beside Mira now, her breath coming in gasps. "Mira, they mean well. Please. Remember that. No matter what else they do, they do mean well. They wanted to... help..."
"Medic!" Mira pleaded as Agatha fell still beside her. "For the love of the Emperor! Medic!"
"They cannot help me, Mira, I not young anymore. This has hurt me and I can't do it again. I still see the light, but it is out of my reach now. You will need more help." Agatha said weakly. She was sad, but proud. "Don't blame the Fio'El for having emotion. For seeking revenge. We all feel. We all rage. We all hate. He will be punished for what he did to you."
"Agatha." Mira hugged the now still sister tight, tears falling.
"Go do what you have to, Gue'vesa'ui." Agatha's voice was kind now. "I will be here when you return."
"Promise?" Mira begged, her tone oddly childlike.
"Only the Emperor knows what the future holds, Mira. Even if the worst comes and I cannot be here with you, you are not alone. You will never... ever be alone again, Mira. For... the... Greater... Good." Agatha reached out a trembling hand to touch Mira's brow and the human soldier stiffened. Mira stared down as Agatha's hand fell to her side, but the old human still breathed. She looked from Agatha to the Por'El to the Shas'Vre. Then the human soldier rose and stalked from the command center.
"Mira!" The Por'El started to follow, only to freeze as the Shas'vre barred her way.
"Let her go. Get Agatha to the ship. See if the medics can do anything." The Shas'vre said firmly. "And whatever you do, don't let Mira anywhere near the Fio'El while she is conscious. It won't be pretty if you do."
"Shas'Vre..." The Por'El bent down and lifted Agatha. The human wasn't light and the Por'El wasn't large, but she managed.
"We failed." The Shas'vre said with a sigh. "No scanners in here to detect whatever Agatha did. Commander Farsight won't be happy that we didn't get any readings at all on her whatever-the-hell that was." That had been part of the mission of the expedition, get Agatha into a position where she would use some of the fabled powers of the Adeptas Sororitas. If they could examine them, define them, perhaps they could find away to counter the ultra fanatical sisters' abilities.
"We haven't failed yet." The Por'El said firmly. "Shas'Vre, I..."
"Go." The Tau commander turned back to his displays, fully aware that he would never see the Por'El again. He was old for a Tau and this would be his last battle. He paused as he heard the Por'El speak words that called to the heart of every Tau.
"Water cools, Air flows, Earth stands, Fire burns. We are all one in Tau." The Por'El was crying softly as she carried Agatha from the command center. "We will remember you, Shas'Vre Vior'la Oxa'are. Hero of the Fire Caste. Make the Gue'la remember you too. For the Greater Good."
"Not going to be a problem, Por'El." The old warrior said with a grim smile as he keyed the Ar'ka cannon live again as his holo showed lots of enemy forces appearing. He spread the blast over several of the closest. He smiled as the sound of the cannon rose and then subsided and half a dozen enemy squads vanished from his holo. "Not going to be a problem at all." He hit the control again.
"For the Greater Good!"
Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies
Posted: 22 September 2016, 08:54
In space, no one can hear you DIE!
The Chaos battleship shuddered as the strike teams of Space Marines did what they did best. Part of Techmarien Martellus wanted to be there with his battle brothers, scouring the universe of the filth that had for so long plagued the Imperium, but that was not his task this day. Space Marine vessels had very few crew compared to almost any other known ship in existence. Space Marines were simply too rare to leave standing watches or shifting ammunition between weapons as naval crew would do. As a matter of fact, the only Space Marines on the entire strike cruiser at the moment were Martellus and another Techmarine, an Ultramarine named Genadi. The ship was crewed almost entirely by Ultramarine serfs,-humans who had been indoctrinated since birth to serve the chapter as vassals, and servitors, half- human half-machine beings who existed to do menial work that required little thought or oversight. If an enemy happened to figure out how thinly the ship was held, the Winds of Tallassar was in trouble. But for now? The only ones who could possibly take advantage at all were in trouble themselves.
Martellus finished his repair rites to the damaged bridge system he had been focused on and turned back to the console. Genadi was nominally in charge being an Ultramarine, but the other had gone to the engine room to repair a connector that had exploded there killing almost twenty serfs and damaging half a hundred servitors. It spoke of the other's trust that he hadn't even bothered to give instructions, just dashed out as soon as he heard the alarms. Then again, both had been the same places, both served the Omnissiah.
The Techmarine noted a small Tau vessel fleeing from the moon. He directed a serf to calculate firing vectors and sighed in regret as then the results came back and he realized it was beyond engagement range. It was small and looked old. It had to be to have been able to land on the moon. Most modern ships used shuttles to land for several very good reasons. One, few Void capable ships were designed to operate in atmosphere. They could for a few minutes with the proper angling of shields, but after that the structural damage would be catastrophic. Imperial ships in particular were not streamlined for atmosphere. Two, while on the surface, any ship would be hideously vulnerable to attack. His thoughts broke off suddenly and he keyed his com.
"Genadi?" The Techmarine watched his consoles carefully as the Winds of Tallassar came about again under the serf's direction, maintaining the massive vessel's position behind the Chaos ship where the enemy could not fire on it. "Bridge is fully functional again. Status?"
"We will need extensive repairs, but bless the Omnissiah, the damage here wasn't catastrophic. We will need more servitors." The Ultramarine didn't feel the need to comment on the lost serfs. "How goes the battle?"
"Most of our brothers are still alive and fighting." Martellus felt no regret at the loss. Any Space Marine who fell fighting Chaos was a hero to be lauded by the Chapter. "Captain Janus and his Terminator squad have disabled three of the battleship's engines. Your other brothers have wrought all kinds of havoc. Captain Thule and my battle brothers has torn their launch bays to shreds."
"I regret that I once wondered about your Chapter's reputation, brother." Genadi said with a sigh. "I listened to hearsay, to my cost."
"The old Blood Ravens deserved it. We were tainted." Martellus replied coldly, his mind flashing back to a dead world, a battle in a crater with horror almost beyond imagining. A horror he and many had once called 'Chapter Master'. "It has been and will be a long road back. But we will walk it. For the Emperor."
"For the Emperor." Genadi replied. "On my way back to the bridge. Anything else?"
"A Tau ship fled the moon but was out of range before I could lock weapons." Martellus wasn't making excuses, simply stating fact. "Odd though. They don't seem to be heading for any planet and they could have jumped almost from the time I detected them."
"Show me." Genadi said as he entered the bridge Martellus didn't bother to speak, instead he sent a data packet. The other Techmarine could interpret it almost as fast as a logic engine. "Old ship. A decoy?"
"Maybe." It didn't feel quite right to Martellus. The Tau ship was still piling on acceleration but it was heading into deep space. "They are moving very fast and will be outside of detection range in a few minutes."
"The scouts reported an attack by Tau forces." Genadi mused. "Nothing since then."
"If we haven't seen any explosions from here, they are fine." Martellus replied. The Ultramarine turned to look at him and the Blood Raven chuckled without mirth. "You haven't seen Cyrus angry. Pray you never do. I may know no fear of enemies, but he is dang scary when he gets angry. Loyal though. Utterly."
"Funny." Genadi was shaking his head. "Telion is the same way. Quiet until you piss him off and then things get really bad, really fast. A scout sergeant characteristic?"
"Must be." Martellus smiled under his helmet as the back end of the Chaos battleship erupted in fire and the engines of the heretic ship all went dead. "Ah, Captain Janus has done it."
"Did you doubt it?" Genadi asked.
"I don't know him." Martellus shrugged. "He seems competent, but so did Boreale." Genadi stiffened and then nodded slowly. "The only true test..."
"...is battle." Genadi agreed and then turned as a console flashed. "Janus and the survivors are returning. We lost fifteen brothers." He bowed his head. "Emperor keep them." Against a Nurgle ship that was an amazingly low casualty tally but each loss would be felt. Remembered. Added to the rolls of honor and thrown at enemies in rage and spite from their bolters.
"We lost four." Martellus said as his own display flashed. "We don't need to hoard our brothers as we once did, but it still makes my blood boil. I want that ship gone."
"Wait for the captains." Genadi replied. "Well, wait for Janus, but Thule can chime in over the vox."
"Speaking of captains, one thing I am curious about." Martellus asked as they waited. "Captain Titus went to Graia, but Captain Sicarus leads the Second Company. He has for centuries."
"Ah yes." Genadi growled. "Even Space Marines have politics." Martellus froze and then groaned. "Yeah."
"How bad?" The Blood Raven asked.
"No one died, but just barely." The Ultramarine replied. "There were...factions who wanted Sicarus to start a successor chapter. The Inquisition was involved."
"Are they ever not?" Martellus demanded.
"Not in my experience. Sicarus was occupied so Titus was given temporary command of the Company and went. He had been Sicarus' second in command for a long time." Captain Janus entered the bridge, still clad in his terminator armor. It was covered in foul looking gunk and Martellus was glad his own helmet filters would stop the smell. "Their engines will not be working any time soon and their launch bays are wreckage. I have to say, your Blood Ravens know how to make a mess."
"It's a talent, sir." Martellus said with a grin that faded as the captain turned to the holo display. "All surviving brothers aboard. Orders?"
"Arm torpedoes." Captain Janus ordered. "That ship has polluted the Emperor's sky long enough."
"Yes,-" Genadi broke off as an alarm started blaring. "Sir! Incoming torpedoes! Multiple salvos! Imperial!"
Martellus froze as he saw the massive salvoes speeding towards them. Such a salvo had to have come from every surviving Imperial ship in system capable of firing such. But why... He groaned in memory. The Imperial forces here thought nothing of slaughtering Space Marines. Or, at least Blood Ravens. Had they thought to add Ultramarines to their tally? Were they insane? Calgar would not take that lightly.
"Emergency jump!" The captain commander. No one bothered to argue. At this range and at a near stop in space, there was no way for the Winds of Tallassar to evade such a salvo. The battleship would take many of them, but the rest would have no trouble tearing through the Space Marine cruiser.
The question was simple: Would the Warp generators cycle up fast enough to avoid the torpedoes that were even now homing on the immobile Space Marine ship? Imperial torpedoes were supposed to have IFF, be able to tell friend from foe. Martellus and most other Space Marines through that a myth. Even if the tech was installed and blessed properly, Imperial Navy sailors probably couldn't get it to work. They were not well trained.
All the Asartes could do now was wait and pray to the Emperor for a chance at vengeance.
"Target destroyed, sir." Admiral Geralt reported as the Chaos battleship vanished from his plot. The Lance of Terra, his battered Overlord class flagship, stormed towards the moon of Kaurava II. The rest of his fleet was still engaged with Chaos forces all over the system and they were taking a pounding but between the orbital defenses, and the bomber commands he had detached to each remaining ship commander, they were winning.
"The Ultramarines?" The Governor General snapped, he wasn't happy at all. Having an Inquisitor unilaterally take control of his fleet was bad enough. If what he suspected was true, things were about to get worse.
"No signals." Admiral Geralt said slowly. "Sir... An entire Company of Adeptus Asartes? We could have warned them." He was careful to keep his voice level. The commissar standing behind the Governor General had no sense of humor. The Admiral was rapidly ceasing to care.
"I take responsibility." The Governor General shook his head. "It is regrettable, but we had to stop that ship. If they are trying to recreate the Warp Storm, then we are screwed. The moon?"
"We are reading torpedo strikes on the surface, but the cannon is still firing. On what, we cannot tell." The Admiral knew that whatever else happened, his career and in almost all probability his life were both over. He wasn't disobeying the Inquisitor's command, not quite. But he had waited to pick up the Governor General and a strike force of Guard and he also had just been party to the murder of a company of loyal Space Marines. The Ultramarines were not the Blood Ravens. They did not take such things quietly. "Orders?"
"Close on the moon and get ready to drop troops." The Governor General said flatly. "Our heavy support in on the way, but if we wait for the Baneblade and base construction materials, we may miss our chance to nip this threat in the bud." He noted the Admiral's expression and smiled. "Come, Admiral. We don't need Space Marines to beat a few Tau."
"And if they dropped troops?" The Admiral asked tightly. The Governor General looked at him and the Admiral sighed. "Either side? Oh never mind, you will just kill them all. Loyal or traitor makes no difference to you."
"I don't care for your tone, Admiral." The Commissar had his hand on his pistol, but the Governor General shook his head.
"The Governor General just started a fight with the Ultramarines, Commissar." The Admiral said flatly. "All you can do is kill me. I am an officer of the Imperial Navy. It is what I am. It is what I do. But I serve the Emperor first." He stepped right up to the commissar, daring the man to draw and fire. "Go ahead. Gun me down for being the hand that killed the Adeptus Asartes. Give the Governor an out." He snarled. "And let me die with my soul CLEAN! You won't!" The last was a shout and the Commissar's pistol was coming up.
"Stand down, Brenn!" The Governor General pushed between the two men, his battle claws extended. "Both of you! I take responsibility for this. It was my order, Admiral!" He turned to the Commissar who did not take his eyes from Geralt. "We need him."
"There are others who can take his place." The commissar's gaze swept the bridge, but no one stepped forward. No one moved at all, not even the ship's commissar. "I see discipline has lapsed significantly in the navy." The ship's commissar bristled, but did not reply.
"That was uncalled for, Commissar Brenn." The Governor General said with a snarl as he batted the Commissar's pistol to the side. "Put it way. We have to secure the system and then we can determine guilt. We take the cannon and use it to assault the Chaos fortress site." He glared at the Commissar who met his gaze challengingly. "Commissar... Get the men ready to drop. Now."
"I will be back to ensure proper discipline is maintained everywhere in the Kaurava system." Brenn promised as he holstered his pistol and stalked off the bridge. No one relaxed.
"Antagonizing him is a bad idea, Admiral." The Governor General said mildly. "He will make your life hell."
"With all due respect, Governor General,..." The Admiral turned back to his displays. "We have Chaos raiders all over the system, an unknown force in charge of an incredibly powerful xenos cannon, a possible rogue Inquisitor and two planetary scale assaults to manage. We have angered the Ultramarines now in addition to the Blood Ravens and the Order of the Sacred Rose. My life expectancy wasn't very long anyway. If he wants the job, he can have it." He said with a snap. "There is someone on that moon that the cannon is firing on. Ultramarines or Chaos, either way..." The Governor General winced and nodded.
"Either way it is going to be a fight." The leader of the Guard in Kaurava agreed with a frown. "If needed, you are cleared to fire on the cannon using any and all firepower necessary to breach the shields surrounding it." The admiral looked at him and the Governor general nodded. "And yes, I know what that means. We are going to drop close to the cannon, try to take it by storm before whoever is there can fire on us. If they do, this is going to get bloody fast. It did last time. If I order it, you will fire."
"Yes sir." The Admiral stood up and braced to attention. He saluted the Governor General who returned it. "One thing, has anyone tried to contact the forces stationed there?"
"They don't have the codes to use the cannon or the authorization." The Governor General said with a sigh. "The commissar there could technically fire it, but he would be executed for such." He paused. "Then again, if they were being overrun..." He mused.
The Admiral glanced at the com tech who nodded and bent to his console.
"Response!" The tech replied, but his voice held confusion. "Codes check out. Sir, they say the Commissar is dead and the Tau control the cannon, but they are free and trying to retake it. They say Chaos forces are attacking as well. Vox signal cut off mid-word, sir."
"Trap?" The admiral asked as the Governor General paused. "This place is a punishment detail."
"I know." The Governor General said with a deeper frown. "But if we land anywhere further away and the cannon is live, we will lose hundreds. Closer in, we have a chance. After the battle last time, we traced the control runs for the cannon. We know where the control center for it was located. Did they say who is in command?"
"A Lieutenant Mira, sir." The tech paused. "No Mira listed in personnel on base."
"Okay, it is a trap." The Governor General nodded savagely. "But we can use that to our advantage. Set up to drop our troops right on top of their position. The xenos don't like shelling their own." No one dared comment on that. "Once we have the cannon under our control, we will need immediate transport to Kaurava IV."
"Should we divert the heavy transports?" Geralt asked, fully aware that if he did, the Chaos forces would take advantage of the change in defenses.
"No." The Governor General said after a moment. "If the trap works and we cannot take the cannon immediately, we still might be able to with a sustained assault. Pity those xenos gates stopped working when the Warp Storm faded, but it's probably just as well. Those made my skin crawl."
"Good luck, Governor General." The Admiral said and the commander of Kaurava's human forces nodded and left the bridge. Only after he left did anyone relax.
"Brenn will kill you." The commissar said mildly.
"Of course he will." The Admiral snorted. "But between the Ultramarines, the Blood Ravens, the Order of the Sacred Rose, the Chaos forces and now, the Tau...?" He shrugged. "I don't have time to be terrified of him. I need you to go to the armory and ready the Vortex torpedoes for loading. They will need your codes to open the vault. Those will break those shields if we need to." What they would do to the moon beneath the shields was horrible to contemplate, especially since there were about to be a sizable number of Imperial Guard on it.
"Sir, if we are in orbit, we may not be able to escape the blast." The Commissar said softly. The Admiral just looked at him and the Commissar flushed. "Yes sir." He saluted and left the bridge.
"They are coming." Mira said as she finished with the Imperial vox. She didn't need it talk to her troops. There were not that many of them. "They will probably drop right on top of us." She stared up at the imposing orange bulk of the Ar'ka cannon and looked away as it discharged again. "It is what I would do."
"Get down!" Simons snapped at her and Mira smiled as she hit the ground. A volley of bolts sailed through where she had just been and Simons' long-las cracked. "One Traitor Space Marine down, four more maneuvering to flank."
A cheer went up through the ranks as a Defiler in distance which had been pounding their defensive positions with indirect fire took a direct hit from the Ar'Ka and melted. The cannon had helped, but really the only thing that had saved Mira's force was that the base armory had possessed a large quantity of automated Heavy Bolter turrets which she had spaced in elaborate arcs around three different trenches. The Chaos forces would charge, take horrendous casualties only to find the trench deserted except for traps that went off when they tried to take cover from her teams' fire. Problem was, the Chaos force had a lot of troops. And not just troops.
"Demon! Demon!" Came the call and Mira swung her rifle even as Simons did likewise. A Bloodletter had teleported into the middle of one of her heavy support teams. They had no chance. It was rising from their dismembered bodies as Mira's lasgun bolt and Simons' long-las bolt hit it at almost exactly the same time. Other fire slammed into it and the demon fell, twitched horribly and vanished in a puff of evil looking smoke. A whine from overhead had Mira look up and she nodded, keying her other com as she saw Imperial Guard Valkyries on approach, screened by Vendetta gunships and Imperial Navy fighters.
"Shas'Vre, we are in position. Ready for phase two."
Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies
Posted: 23 September 2016, 11:16
Mira did not react as the Imperial Guard gunships and Imperial Navy fighters swept down, sowing death and destruction across the Chaos positions. Her people, what were left of them anyway, were less restrained, cheering and calling praises to the Emperor as the enemy paid with their lives. The Ar'ka cannon fell silent behind her.
"Ma'am?" Simons, through some odd quirk, had managed to set herself and her spotter to be Mira's bodyguards. Mira hadn't had the time or energy to argue and frankly? The spotter was good with the com and Simons was a lifesaver, literally. Both had earned Mira's thanks several times in the brutal fight.
"Weapons down, people." Mira commanded as she smoothed the camouflage smock that covered her obviously not Imperial Guard armor. It wasn't a perfect disguise by any means, but it would keep people from shooting her on sight. She hoped so anyway. There were Cadian units that wore such smocks as general wear anyway, so it wasn't implausible. "After all, we are one big happy family in the Guard, right? Even if they are going to stand us all against the wall and shoot us, we have to try to warn them about the Chaos infiltrators."
"Ma'am." Chiefson's voice sounded in her ear. "They is landing at the depot. I see Storm Troopers moving into the base. They gots a Commissar."
"Grab whatever is mobile and get to our position, sergeant." Mira said with a growl. "Things are about to get messy."
"Well, then it is a good thing we gots a Chimera running, ain't it?" Chiefson sounded elated and Mira had to smile. The state of the depot had almost brought tears to the sergeant's eyes. His own personal tank had been blown to pieces by some kind of Tau ordnance and she had really thought the man was going to cry.
"I wish I had you in my last unit, sergeant, we never had enough people of the mechanical bent. Get here fast and don't talk to anybody." Mira warned. "If they shoot at you, evade. Under no circumstances are you to return fire. Weapons tight. We are not enemies, remember? They can probably hear our vox."
"Yah. Out." The derision in Chiefson's words could have cut steel but his transmission ended.
"Report!" Mira called and voices called from up and down the line. So few though, it broke her heart. She had started the battle with two infantry squads and three heavy weapons teams plus her unofficial bodyguards. Now? She would be lucky to field a full squad plus a team and half of heavy weapons. Many of them looked hurt in some way. "Form up, people. We have visitors. I hope they have medics." She said sadly as her people walked, or in some cases staggered into place. Some of the pitiful remnant of her teams had to be helped to stand, but everyone did.
An entire squadron of Valkyries were touching down not too far from the defense lines that Mira had set up. Her eyes narrowed as a squad of Ogyrn stepped off the first one. The commissar with them looked decidedly green and she had to smile at that. The Ogryn's strength and durability were legendary among the Guard, as was their inability to hold their stomach contents in any kind of transport craft. Her smile faded as she saw Karskins, Catachan jungle fighters and other elite forces stepping off and forming a perimeter. Their weapons were not lowered.
"I don't think any of them will be treating our wounds, Ma'am." Simons said very quietly from her place just behind Mira. A glance showed the sniper had her long-las in hand. It wasn't up, but she was ready.
"Calm." Mira said softly. "Everyone calm. Weapons tight. They are on hair trigger because they think we are a trap." A rumble sounded behind her and many weapons shifted from her people to the noise. Mira keyed her vox. "Sergeant, open up the hatches and step outside, just... not too far outside, if you get my drift."
"Drop your weapons!" A strong and commanding voice bellowed across the field.
"We didn't drop them for the Chaos scum, we certainly won't drop them for anyone else!" Mira retorted, her irate voice carrying. She lowered her voice and activated her vox. "People, get ready... If that loudmouth is in charge, we go with plan 'C'. Make it cost them." All around her, every one of her small force had their weapons ready, if not -quite- aimed. Her muzzle was down, but her finger was inside the trigger guard.
"You are in no position-" The loud voice cut off as a huge human stepped into view. Mira's eyes narrowed as she saw the uniform. He had ornate gauntlets and carried a plasma rifle as if he knew what to do with it. The medals and ornamentation said one thing. High command. Maybe the highest in system.
"Is that who I think it is?" Mira asked Simons who nodded, her hands white knuckled on her long-las. "Calm, Simons. Be calm."
"They will kill us all, Ma'am." Simons said flatly but her voice carried and the tension around the small group of survivors mounted. "After what they did to that Ultramarine ship, they cannot have witnesses." Being told about that had shocked the hell out of Mira and her small force. Then Chaos had attacked again and they had been busy staying alive.
"That was a accident and regrettable." The man's calm and assured voice carried easily to Mira and she met his gaze calmly even as his troops surrounded her team's position. "Lieutenant Mira, is it? There is some query as to your identity."
"Ask Inquisitor Thrax who I am." Mira said with a growl. She was sure she saw surprise in the other's eyes even across the field. "Not that you can trust anything he says. My name is Mira. My rank is Lieutenant. I serve in the 203rd Cadian. Or... I did."
"You...work with the Inquisitor?" The commanding human asked carefully.
"Not a chance in hell. Not if he were a Lord of Terra, sir." The lieutenant hadn't meant to snarl the last, but it carried her emotions clearly. He hadn't introduced himself. "He doesn't work with people. He uses them. He kidnapped me from my unit, tortured me, implanted me with a bioweapon and dropped me to be picked up by Tau of all people. Oh, and if he is here? You might ask him about the Ultramarine he has prisoner that he is experimenting on."
"I find that very hard to believe." The man replied, looking around. "Where are the Tau?"
"I have no idea." Mira replied instantly. That was the truth. She truly had no idea where the Tau positions were. "They told me and I quote 'Keep the Chaos forces away from the cannon'. What was I going to say? 'No' They had a lot more guns than we did." Also truth.
"I see." The other replied. "Well, as your companions have no doubt told you, I am Vance Stubbs, Governor General of the Kaurava system. Stand down lieutenant. Well fought but this is over." None of her people moved and the man sighed. "This doesn't have to be hard, Lieutenant."
"Yeah. Shooting people who can't fight back isn't hard at all." Mira retorted. "But we can. So go ahead. Order your men to open fire. We both know you want to. After all, these failed you when they couldn't keep an overwhelming Tau force from taking the base when the commissar here had been taken by Chaos." The Governor General froze and Mira smiled. It was not a nice smile. "Just out of curiosity, have any of your men been on quarantine duty recently? If so, you might want to scrutinize them. Or not. Not my problem."
"What are you blathering about?" The loudmouth from before stepped out of the group and Mira's eyes narrowed. Yep. A Commissar. Probably a high ranked one. Mira fought a grin, she was about to indulge in every Guardsman's secret fantasy. To talk back to a Commissar.
"Nothing major." Mira shrugged dismissively. "Just your run of the mill Chaos infiltration, demons masquerading as humans, death and destruction, High Command being clueless, the usual." Her flippant response seemed to baffle the fanatic. "Ah, well, you couldn't be a demon. You don't smell nice enough." Her tone was calm, but her eyes were flashing. "Matter of fact, you smell like a fool." Incredulous stares came from all around, but her people snickered.
"Lieutenant!" The Governor General tried to rein her in even as the Lord Commissar seemed to swell, his face purpling. "You and your team drop your weapons! Now!"
"Begging your pardon, sir." Mira had very little respect in her tone. "But we have no intention of letting you murder us all without effort for your fuckup." She lowered her left hand from her rifle and splayed out five fingers where no one but her people could see. None of them moved, weapons still not quite readied. "You left this xenotech thing here. What did you think, that it would be useful again?" The commissar stepped forward, his pistol coming up, but he stopped as Mira laughed and every single surviving Heavy Bolter turret in the area came alive, swiveling to aim at the newcomers who froze in place. They were caught well away from any semblance of cover. A command from Mira and many of them would die. Mira just shook her head. Her thumb clenched tight into her fist. Four. "Idiots."
"You would kill us all?" The Governor General asked softly as he stared at the turrets.
"I could ask you the same. These fought beside me for survival while you plotted the murder of loyal Space Marines. You don't have a monopoly on savagery, Governor General." Mira said with a shrug. Her pinky clenched. Three. "I don't know where the Tau went, but I am betting than they won't let you have this thing again."
"But we do have you and those turrets are being overridden." The Governor General smiled.
"Do you have us?" Mira asked with a smile of her own as she clenched her ring finger. Two. All around her, the turrets were powering down and she smiled wider. The Governor General stared at her and his smile faltered. "Do you really?"
"What have you done?" The human demanded even as the Commissar bellowed.
'You will die, traitor!" The Commissar screamed, almost frothing at the mouth now.
"I am not talking to you, you mindless murderer. You prefer to kill people who cannot fight back, Fine. We can." Mira clenched her middle finger. One. His pistol was up and aimed but she just held her smile. "As for what I have done? Survival trumps stupid rules like ah.. Oh, I don't know. Letting some dipshit in a fancy pointed hat shoot me anytime he feels the need to compensate for the lack of faith or a dick! I serve the Emperor, not you." She clenched her last finger. "Shas'Vre, now."
Mira closed her eyes along with her team as the world turned white. When she opened her eyes it was to chaos. Every soldier surrounding her team had been staring at her wide eyed as she braced the Commissar. The insanely powerful flash that had been triggered by a meltdown in the Ar'Ka cannon had blinded most of them temporarily. The meltdown had, coincidentally, fused several critical segments of the cannon. It would never function again. If Imperium techpriests tried to repair and use it, the results would be unpleasant to say the least. For anyone on the moon in all likelihood.
"Down!" Simons cried and threw herself at Mira, slamming the lieutenant to the ground as the Commissar fired even while blind. The las bolt tore through where she had been but she was occupied, keying codes. Every single turret in the area, under her control and not, started to explode as the small charges attached to them began to detonate, cooking off their ammunition stores. Tau Fire Warriors were nothing if not thorough and she had worked hard with them to plan this moment.
"On the ground!" Mira screamed and hit another code. The ground under her gave a horrid noise and started to sink. A glance showed every one of her people, and the Chimera Chiefson had brought, sinking with her. The dirt under her shifted to show metal that bore a large symbol of the Tau Empire.
There was a very good reason that Mira had placed her defense lines where she had. A reason that no one, not even the Guard who had conquered this place had ever figured out. The Ar'Ka cannon had been built on an artificial hill in the exact center of the old Tau base that served both as stabilizer and cooling medium for the intense heat generated by the insanely powerful weapon. But that wasn't the only reason the cannon had been placed where it had been. The hill was honeycombed with tunnels that had been dug by the first Tau Earth Caste drones to arrive on the moon. Long before the rest had arrived, long before the Tau had renamed the moon Nan Yanoi, the drones had been digging. From what Mira had been told, they hadn't stopped until the pitiful Tau remnants had fled. The part under the Ar'ka was solid. The rest of it?
Mira looked up and smiled as she saw armored clamshells closing. They were not closing fast though and she snarled as she saw human heads start to appear around the sides. "Into the Chimera! We move as soon as-" She dove to the side as las fire and other weapons started hitting around her. There was no cover.
A horrible scream sounded from beside Mira and she spun to see Simons collapse, a glob of blue fire eating into her armor. She rose and took aim at the faces she could see and fired, but there were many of them now and her people were dying. She-
"FIRE!" The word was not in Gothic and Mira sighed in relief as dozens of pulse weapons fired from close at hand. She barely noticed the platform she and her people were on come to a stop as the blue bolts slammed up into the mass of humans peering down at Mira and her team. Humans screamed and died. "Shield! Now!"
Three fingered hands grabbed Mira and pulled her away from her people even as grenades started falling from the hole that was still closing. But they hit a shimmering blue thing in mid-air and blew up harmlessly. The las bolts, plasma globs and other things also hit the shield and stopped.
"That won't hold long. Get the survivors clear." The Shas'Vre commanded. Mira struggled, but the hands that held her ushered her away even as she fought to stop, to see what was happening. "Gue'Vesa'ui! Your destiny lies off this forsaken rock. Let the Fire Caste shield you. Your survivors will be tended. Go!"
"Shas'Vre!" Mira called even as she was hustled into a corridor, tears threatening. Somehow she knew he was not going to retreat. That he hadn't come here to retreat. No, these tunnels made for an excellent killing ground.
There was no reply.
Mira shook off the hands that were still moving her and ran on her own. All around her, Fire Warriors were assisting or in some cases carrying humans forms. Simons was moaning in the hands of a Fire Warrior close at hand! She was still alive!
"Simons!" Mira said sharply, but the Fire Warriors at her side wouldn't let her stop. "Is she-?"
"She is badly hurt." The closest Fire Warrior said calmly even as she ran. "But we extinguished the fire in time."
"How?" Mira demanded. Plasma fire couldn't be extinguished. Then she gave herself shake. Probably more Tau tech wizardry. "Never mind. Later. Situation?"
"The hangar is secure as of now." The Fire Warrior said with a nod of approval for her composure. "We cannot guarantee it will remain that way. We have transport ready to move you and your people there, but it is one way. No one can come back. We will collapse the tunnels behind you. None will pursue." Mira fought not to stumble.
"You came here to die." Mira said softly. "How does that serve the Greater Good?"
"This place is an abomination, Gue'Vesa'ui." The Fire Warrior said with a snarl. "We came to destroy it and make sure the research that was done here goes nowhere else." Mira paused but a shove got her moving again. "What the Ethereals did here cannot be allowed to be repeated. Transport ahead. Medical drone! We have wounded!" She called as they turned a corner into a larger area with a vehicle that Mira had never seen.
The oddly shaped vehicle didn't look heavily armored. It had two obvious engines and a ramp at the back that exposed a compartment inside. A large multi-barreled gun jutted menacingly off the nose. Before Mira could get a good look at it, she was ushered into the back of the vehicle and hands grabbed her, urging her to sit. A drone hovered nearby, medical gear that she sort of recognized hanging from beneath it. She fought the hands, but something went hiss and she relaxed against her will. She stared at the Fio'El.
"I give apology, lieutenant." The Tau medic said sadly. "I was angry, but that is no excuse for what I did. You will sleep long, rest well and hopefully wake in a better place. A place where they can help you. Rest now, Gue'vesa'ui Mira."
She took his words into the deepest of slumber.
The Fire Warrior at the hatch turned to leave even as the Fio'El started treating the wounded. Only five of Mira's team had survived the human fire and all were badly hurt. Mira herself had never noticed the impacts on her own armor or the burns she had sustained through it. Her armor had saved her life, but she was hurt. The Gue'la had really wanted her dead.
"Burn this foul place to ash, Fire Warrior." The Fio'El said sharply.
No one could ever know what had happened here. In this 'reeducation facility' that had turned into something far, far worse. The Ethereals, if they even knew what had gone on here after the massacre, would never speak of it. Farsight and his people would not either, but they had all the records available as well as the DNA stores. They would protect themselves from this horror if needed. All of the experimental subjects were destroyed. Except one.
The Fio'El finished treating the horrific burns on the closest guardswoman as the ramp closed. The others had medics and drones tending them. He felt the Devilfish's engines power up and knew they would be moving. A rumble had him pause, but he knew the tunnel was being sealed behind them. He reached down to remove Mira's helmet and bowed his head. The fake human hair slid off, showing patches of Tau like skin underneath. Her DNA was changing. He hadn't known when he injected her brain with the formula the true horror of what the Ethereal here had ordered researched. He had only thought that she would experience pain. And she would. Far, far more than he could have ever imagined. He hadn't known until after the Shas'Vre had literally dragged him into the isolation cells and shown him the truth after the others had discovered what he had done to Mira.
Killing was inefficient after all.
Why kill an enemy when you can turn them into one of yours? The Ethereals had done so with words for centuries as humans counted time. With this, they could do it physically and mentally at the same time and there was no defense. Mira would likely wake thinking she was Tau. If she woke sane. None of the other eighty-three experimental subjects in the cells had been sane. Human, Eldar, Space Marine, all of them driven mad by Ethereal experiments and still alive in the self contained cells even after all this time. There was no way to help them so in the end, the Fire Warriors had shown them mercy, killing them all. The Shas'Vre had made him watch that after what he did to Mira.
The Fio'El buckled himself in beside Mira, took her hand in his and cried.
Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies
Posted: 24 September 2016, 07:38
"Where did they go?"
The Governor General was in rare form as teams descended into the newly blow open pit that Mira and her traitors had escaped into. The Tau forces had vanished just as thoroughly. He was not in a good mood. Between losing the xenotech cannon, being made a laughingstock by a band of traitors in front of his own forces and the now almost insanely vengeful Commissar at his side, he was not having a good day.
"We will find them and kill them all." The Commissar growled, his gaze wandering, hoping to find an outlet of any kind for his killing rage. The guards around the pair knew better than to stand out at all though. Not right now. But he was no berserker and despite Mira's utterly insane provocations, he wasn't a fool. "The prisoner?"
"On the way, sir!" The reporting guard did everything but snap to attention when he spoke and the Governor General hid a smile. The Commissar's rage had a salutary effect on all the Guard present. Even the Ogryns were subdued, the stupid brutes knew the sheer power that dwelt in the huge mountain of human muscle.
They had only one prisoner from the entire force of guards who had been stationed here and that one had been imprisoned before they had arrived. Not that the Governor General cared. All would pay for this insult. All would pay for the loss of the xenotech cannon that had been one of his greatest prizes. He turned as he heard a Chimera in the distance and nodded grimly as another squad of troops descended on lines into the darkness below. There hadn't been any reports, but that wasn't surprising. They wouldn't report until they found something, preferably live prisoners for the Commissar to vent his rage on. But there was something wrong. He wasn't sure what it was. It wasn't coming from the hole, that feeling. He spun in a circle and went still as his Rosarius stopped something. He stared down at the tiny projectile just in time to see it burst into a small explosion. The force of it knocked him back, but he was unhurt.
"Sniper!" The call went around and the guards scattered into cover. Three squads moved with the Governor General and the Lord Commissar into cover, but where had it come from? There hadn't been any sound. Then one of the guards gave a small cry, batted at his armor and exploded!
That wasn't a Tau weapon! Whatever it was, it was utterly silent and there was no sign of the shooter. Another Guard, this one closer to the Governor, blew up in a welter of blood and bone.
"What is that? A boltgun?" The Commissar demanded. No one answered. "Someone find that sniper!"
"Nothing on auspex within two kilometers!" Came a report from a scanner operator. But when she rose from her scanner, she too gave a cry and exploded!
"Whatever hit me was too small to be a bolt, Commissar." The Governor General said flatly. "Into the hole! Everyone! If we stay here, whoever it is picks us off one by one."
"By the numbers! Shield the Governor!" A sergeant called and then he too gave a cry and died.
The Guard did as ordered. They made a living wall around the Governor General and Commissar as the two commanders moved to the hole and slid down the lines. Several more guards died before the Governor General vanished into the gloom.
As soon as he did, the rain of death stopped. The other guards didn't question their good fortune. They followed him into the darkness.
The Chimera bearing the prisoner came to a halt at the hole and the Commissar inside manhandled his prisoner out. He snarled and hurled her over the edge. The fall probably wouldn't kill her. Even if it did? Who cared about the fate of a heretic? Her scream was music to his ears as he and his Storm Troopers slid down the ropes.
Scout Sergeant Cyrus wasn't angry now. Oh no. He was so far beyond anger than he felt calm. He had taken his shot, but his relic had failed to kill the hated one that he had so wanted to kill. It wasn't the rifle's fault, Cyrus knew that. His rage was spent. He was spent. He was-
The voice came from behind him and Cyrus spun, rifle ready only to freeze, gaping at what he saw. This was impossible! No Space Marine in Terminator Armor could have possibly crept up behind him, even when he was focused on his scope. And the armor... Cyrus stiffened as he realized that 1) The armor was silver and 2) The warrior bore a huge two handed sword that wasn't a power weapon, or a force weapon, or anything else that Cyrus knew. But he knew. He knew who had surprised him. He slowly lowered his rifle and bowed his head.
"Again, I have failed my brothers." The Blood Raven said sadly.
"No." The Grey Knight's voice was almost kind. "You have not, Sergeant. But the death of the Governor General is not your duty this day."
"He killed my brothers again!" Cyrus did not scream that. He was so disciplined that a scream for him was barely a sharp cry for anyone else. "Just as he did before. Just as he killed yours!"
"He will answer for that, Sergeant." The Grey Knight said firmly. "Perhaps to us, perhaps to your chapter, perhaps to the Sisters, perhaps only to the Emperor. But this day, you have another duty." His voice turned stern. "Will you deny it?"
"I..." Cyrus stared down the hill at where his squad waited. They could see he wasn't alone but he had ordered them to stay put and they had. Killian was around somewhere. The Kroot had vanished into a hidden tunnel after pursuing both squads for a time. Killian had taken his squad to lay in ambush in case the aliens returned and Cyrus had taken up position just in time to see the Imperial Guard land. Then he had gotten his fondest, most fervent dream. A shot at the Governor General and perfectly justified with the attack on the Winds of Tallassar. Cyrus looked to where the xenotech cannon lay melted and shook his head. "No one controls the cannon now. Janus' last command to me is done."
"That is not what I speak of, Sergeant." The Terminator said with a snarl. "Or do you deny what you are, Blood Raven?"
"I don't know what I am anymore." Cyrus' felt his world fall apart with those soft words. "For so long, I just did as I did. Fought the enemy, wherever he lurked. But now? So many questions. So many lies. So much... Too much." He shook his head. "I believed in the Chapter and now? I do not know what to believe." To his amazement, the Grey Knight chuckled but with little mirth. "What?"
"Moriah was right." The warrior of the most secretive chapter of Adeptus Asartes in existence said softly. "Even when you don't know, most of you do the right thing anyway. Your faith has been tested sorely, Sergeant Cyrus and if you had faltered, the enemy would have found foothold. But you held firm."
"I don't feel firm." Cyrus said weakly even as he felt something from the other. A gentle push of some kind. Not a mental attack or anything he knew. Almost a brotherly pat on the shoulder.
"Who is it who teaches his students 'Be as a reed in the wind. Bend but do not break. Rebound and strike with all fury'?" The Grey Knight asked with a smile in his tone now. "Or was that some other Sergeant Cyrus?"
"Have we met?" Cyrus asked. The Grey Knight shook his head. "I wouldn't remember, would I?"
Most Space Marines had their memories purged any time after dealing with the Grey Knights and their eternal foes. It was simple common sense. Even Space Marines as exceptional as they were often could not handle what the Knights did.
"You don't remember your Primarch." The Grey Knight replied. "There is a reason for that, but Blood Raven..." He raised his blade in salute. "Not all secrets are bad or for bad reasons." Then, in a flash of golden energy, he was gone.
"What duty?" Cyrus asked the empty air. He went still as his vox crackled and a familiar voice sounded.
"Thule to ground forces, hold fast." The dreadnought's voice held terrible promise. "We are dealing with the situation in space."
"How did he know?" Cyrus slid down the hill to his squad even as they all beamed. Their brothers lived!
They had no chance at all.
The Lance of Terra was in high orbit over the site of the xenos cannon. There had been no communication with the Governor General since the landing. Admiral Geralt wasn't entirely sure how to take that, but the lack of Commissar Breen breathing down his neck -or shooting him!- was a plus.
One moment, the skies were utterly clear over the moon of Kaurava II and then all hell broke loose. A dozen ThunderHawk gunships slammed out of the atmosphere of Kaurava II on an intercept course with the battlecruiser even as four Cestus assault rams tore up from the surface of the moon. How had they gotten so close? The Admiral had seconds to react and that simply wasn't enough time.
"How the-" The admiral barely had time to notice the bright blue paintjobs on that coated the assault craft before golden energy appeared in the middle of his bridge. A teleporter! But what appeared was not Ultramarine blue. No. The Terminators, all ten of them, bore the markings of Blood Ravens. He hesitated. None of them did. His command to his crew to surrender died with him. His command staff followed him in death and the Terminators strode out of the bridge in battle order. All around, alarms were blaring and the sounds of shots and screams resounded. The Admiral was only the first to fall as Ultramarines and Blood Ravens reprised what they had done earlier, but this time to an Imperial ship. No one would dare question this attack. Not even Segementum Command would dare Marneus Calgar's wrath. The admiral was the first to die, but the rest of his crew would soon do the same.
You did not attack the Ultramarines and live to brag about it. The Blood Ravens were just along for the ride. And their own share of vengeance.
The Governor General was worried. This was not what it was supposed to be. The bodies of guardsmen lay strewn everywhere at the bottom of the hole, but there were not nearly enough to account for the forces he had sent down. There was no sign of the traitors and the vox was unreliable in this... place. He hadn't seen this when he had taken the moon. No one had suspected that the plateau the cannon sat on was hollow. Someone would pay for that oversight, but right now? He watched as the Commissar vented his wrath.
"WHERE DID THEY GO?" Commissar Brenn had a very loud voice. Some in the Guard said his unamplified voice could be heard over an artillery barrage. An exaggeration, but not by much. He slapped the Guardswoman who was held up in front of him again. She met his gaze calmly. Odd that. Her expression held resignation but it was also hinted of satisfaction.
The Governor General did not interfere. It wasn't his place. But this bothered him. Not that fact that the woman's legs dangled, broken from her fall into the hole. Something about this whole situation was bothering him, but he wasn't sure what. He turned to his command squad and they met his gaze firmly. All but one. The Commissar, Samuels, was shaking his head, but did not interfere with Brenn's rant. He would have just shot the woman and been done with it. Karskin commandos Fisch and Loso were as calm as ever. They had seen Brenn do worse. Jiminex, the priest assigned to the Command Squad was praying. For Brenn? For the prisoner? For himself? Hard to say. It was the last member of the squad who the Governor General focused on. The one that bothered him the most although he was never going to say that. Never going to show weakness in such a way. But psykers of any kind freaked him out, even Sanctioned ones.
"Corva?" The Governor General asked quietly when Brenn wound down. "Problem?"
"I do not know." The voice from under the hood was hard to discern. It was impossible to tell if it was male or female. It didn't really matter. Any psyker would be denied the ability to reproduce as a matter of course when discovered. The psyker leaned on the gem encrusted staff that provided a grounding of some kind for sanctioned powers. "I sense an oddity in the prisoner. Something that is not right." The Governor General stared at the psyker and then paled.
"Brenn." The Commissar turned at the Governor General's command. "Let the medic scan her." The Commissar opened his mouth to argue, but stopped when the Governor General shook his head.
"Fine, fine. Whatever." The Commissar snarled with ill grace as the Governor General waved a medic form the guard squad that was closest forward. The woman skirted the irate commissar warily and pulled an auspex out to start her scans. "When the medic done, she is mine. You will pay, heretic!"
The Governor General listened with one ear, but his gaze was split between the psyker who had tensed and the medic who looked confused. "Medic?"
"She is dying." The medic said slowly. "There is a slow acting neurotoxin working in her brain. She cannot last more than few more hours." The broken guardswoman smiled at the Governor General, her bloodied mouth forming a prayer? A curse? Hard to say. Brenn had broken her jaw. "This makes no sense!"
"No!" Brenn screamed, his pistol coming up. "She will not escape the Emperor's Justice!" The medic dove out of the way as Brenn leveled his las pistol. Both of the guards holding the prisoner blanched, but no one dared move. They might draw his ire. Or his fire.
Someone else did.
"NO!" Corva screamed as the psyker drove forward, trying to get to Brenn. "Stop! She is attuned to-"
Too late, Brenn fired. The prisoner jerked as the bolt struck her forehead and...was absorbed by something. She arced, her mouth drawn into a silent scream as her body convulsed. The guards holding her screamed in fear and pain as energy flared all around her. They were consumed by it, but she wasn't. Dark, evil energy started to swirl around her, pulling her into the air, the palpable evil that surrounded her growing in size and intensity.
"...the Warp." Corva muttered weakly as everything in the area suddenly stopped. "We should run. Now." The Governor General did not move and no one else dared even as Brenn fired again and again at the now floating Guardswoman. "Stop that, you fool! You will kill us all!"
"What did you call me?" Brenn demanded angrily only to freeze as another voice sounded. Not from any normal human throat.
"The pitiful wretch called you a fool." A form out of nightmare strode out of the coruscating energy and slowly, ever so slowly stretched, ignoring the many weapons that were now trained on... him? Yes. Him. A traitor Space Marine who smiled pointed teeth at the now terrified Guard. "And it is so right. Well done, Commissar. I couldn't have betrayed your Corpse Emperor better myself."
"Who are you?" The Governor General demanded even as he took aim with both storm bolter and plasma rifle. The Chaos Space Marine laughed and the sound skittered around the tunnel as if on claws. "Who are you?"
"You do not remember me?" The other affected hurt feelings. "Ah, Vance,... May I call you Vance? You did so well. The Dark Gods were well pleased with your sacrifices. Admittedly, that moron Boreale was not even close to the Blood Raven's finest but you made the Dark Gods proud that day. It only took Orks and Tau weakening them to get you to gather up your courage."
"Die, Heretic!" Brenn snapped as he leveled his laspistol and fired. The laser bolt glanced off the traitor's armor with no apparent effect. The Chaos Space Marine raised a finger and wagged it slowly from side to side.
"Well, that was rude." The ancient traitor chuckled darkly as he raised an armored hand that suddenly had a long, cruel scythe in it.
"Guard!" The Governor General snapped. The troops all around took aim, some kneeling to do so. "Ready..."
"Now, now, Vance... no need to be hasty." The Chaos Space Marine said with a maniacal grin. "I will leave as soon as this pitiful excuse for a Guard expires. OF course, I will go back to Kaurava IV where I will use her soul to open the rifts again, but hey, it's not like you need the Blood Ravens or anybody to close those. You can do it all yourself. You have said that so often since you slaughtered them. Here is your chance to prove it. I will meet you on Kaurava IV. Bring your armies, your tanks, your everything. We will savor your despair before we finally let you die."
"You are going nowhere, traitor..." Brenn snapped and then gasped as the polearm flicked out. The Governor General stared as the wicked head buried itself in Brenn's torso. The Commissar had time to scream once and then he vanished, consumed by the terrible weapon. The Chaos traitor... licked his lips! The energy surrounding him pulsed outward, surrounding every living thing in the area. A huge misshapen form appeared behind the traitor. Some kind of demon. The Governor General gasped, the pain...
"Fanaticism is so tasty." The other said with glee. "The shock when they realize that no matter their bluster, they are utterly screwed is just so sweet. You will all-"
His glee cut off with his words as a gleaming thing flew through the air to slam into him. He jerked backward as it resolved onto a power sword! It looked...wrong as it clattered to the floor. All eyes turned to the side where Inquisitor Thrax stood, the Blood Raven from before beside him. A chain led from the Inquisitor's hands to another form, another Space Marine who was shaking in anger. The second Space Marine was unarmored and bound in several ways, but the energy from the Chaos traitor was flowing around the Inquisitor and into him.
"His name is Carron. And he will not leave this tunnel alive."
Whatever the traitor might have said in response was cut off by a mass of pulse fire from the shadows.
Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies
Posted: 25 September 2016, 09:54
Allies of the 'sort of' kind
For a moment, the Governor General just froze as the bright blue bolts tore into the Traitor Space Marine and the huge form behind him. He knew what they were. He also knew that if they were here, then none of the men he had sent into this place would be coming out in anything except bodybags. That was his first thought. The second? The Tau were not firing at his men! Some of the guard spun, weapons taking aim at the shadows, but they didn't have targets, just the muzzle flashes of the xenos weapons. They did not fire, they waited for orders.
"Target the traitor!" He snapped, putting actions to words. His plasma rifle spewed out its fiery payload even as dozens of lasguns shifted aim and fired at the Chaos Space Marine who stood under the onslaught and... laughed.
"No!" The psyker at his side screamed as power roiled all around the Guard. "Target the portal! Kill the the-"
The psyker screamed anew as the traitor's scythe lashed out again, the haft impossibly long for just a second. This time, the evil blade buried itself in Corva and the psyker gave a thin wail before vanishing just as Brenn had.
"Get out of here, Governor General!" The Inquisitor snapped. "All you morons do is feed it!"
"Oh no." The thing behind the Chaos Space Marine said coldly. The whole area seemed to shiver at its words. "You are going nowhere." The Chaos Space Marine lashed out again, but this time, his demonic weapon was blocked. He recoiled as the Blood Raven recovered from his lunge, his gleaming power sword and storm shield shining in the light of the pulse fire that was still impacting the demon to no apparent effect. "Blood Raven!" The sheer hate in the monster's tone drove several guardsmen to their knees.
"You go no further." The red armored warrior charged and the Chaos Space Marine met him halfway. This battle, however, was far more even. The scythe met the sword in showers of energy. The shield allowed the Blood Raven a modicum of protection that the traitor lacked, but the reach of the scythe offset that a bit. Neither seemed to have an advantage, and eventually, the Chaos Marine stumbled and the Blood Raven struck, his blade biting deep into the traitor's chest armor. The Governor General bit back a cheer that faded to ashes as the Chaos Space Marine laughed again.
"Always so blind." The Chaos Marine said with a sneer as he lashed out, the scythe lancing through Blood Raven's power armor like a knife through cheese and dark energy flared. "You Blood Ravens should have died out centuries ago. So stupid and blind, none of you even-" He broke off as golden power slammed out from the Blood Raven's wound, overwhelming the scythe's energy and absorbing it, coating Carron's weapon in gold. He tried to drop it and couldn't. "What? No!"
"You... call us blind." The red armored warrior's voice was soft now as he drew back and slowly, ever so slowly, drove his power sword through the Chaos Marine's breastplate. "I know... what you are. You are not the true Carron. He died on Kaurava IV to Boreale's blade. You are a copy. A cheap copy, A plaything of the Chaos Gods. A flesh puppet for the demon who holds your strings."
The demon in question was watching the Blood Raven, but made no motion to interfere. Indeed, most of its attention seemed to be on the Blood Raven. The Inquisitor was doing something and the prisoner he led groaned out loud but no one seemed to notice as the swirls of energy increased.
"You... You cannot..." Carron was gasped in pain and or shock as the golden energy travelled up the haft of his scythe and coated his arm. To the Governor General's sudden apprehension, the golden energy slowed and stopped before it passed the traitor's armored elbow. "You cannot win here!"
"I don't have to." The Blood Raven said coldly. "For you see, I came knowing what I would face. Inquisitor. Now."
"Get out of here, Governor General." The Inquisitor said with a snarl as he raised something over his head and energy flashed from it to strike the demon. The demon laughed and forms form nightmare swirled into being behind it before surging towards the Inquisitor, and the others.
That sounded like a really good idea. The Governor General ran, his men following even as he realized that the pulse fire had stopped. It hadn't affected the demon or the traitor, so the Tau had likely withdrawn to regroup. He ran only to freeze as the corridor lit up with golden energy. A dozen forms stood in his path, all in red armor. More Blood Ravens! Ten Terminators, half armed with hammer and shield, the others with storm bolters. A dreadnought stood in their midst! They ignored him, facing the demon horde!
What the-?" The Governor General began only to freeze as the dreadnought that stood in their midst turned to face him.
-Savor your life while you have it, Governor General Vance Stubbs.- The entombed Space Marine was not happy. -We do know our duty but you have earned our wrath. You will need another ship.-
"What?" The Governor General demanded but the Dreadnought turned back to the embattled inquisitor and something flew from the dreadnought's close combat arm towards the struggling armored forms. It landed beside the struggling Blood Raven and traitor with a clang and stood up straight. A two handed Thunder Hammer!
-Commander!- The voice from the might war machine was sad, but clear. The struggling Blood Raven looked at the dreadnought and seemed to freeze. -Kyras is dead! We are free! You are one of us! Now and always!-
Carron recoiled as the Blood Raven suddenly released the hold on his sword, sweeping up the Thunder Hammer in steady hands. It came to life in his hands, seething with energy. Carron stared at the hammer and then his face slowly lost all expression as the hammer wielder turned to face him and his master.
"Perhaps we are stupid." The Blood Raven said softly, but his voice carried to all the listeners. "Maybe we are blind. But WE SERVE THE EMEPEROR!" His shout reverberated through the corridors, sending several guard sprawling. He charged, the other Blood Ravens moving forward to try and support him even as the horde of horrors converged on him.
"We should go." The Governor General said softly. "Um... which way?" He was met with a plethora of blank stares and he sighed, picking a direction away from the battle. Whatever lay within that tunnel had to be better than being stuck between Blood Ravens and Chaos. He would have to work to spin this into a victory to report to Segmentum Command.
Maybe if he just bombarded the whole moon into rubble...
The battle was a grisly stalemate. The horrors could not stand against Blood Raven Bolter fire, especially Tarkus' specialized Sternguard ammunition but more appeared from the portal every time one fell. The less said about what happened when Thaddeus hit them with his thunder hammer the better, but the ichor would take a lot of work to get out of the joints of his armor. Thule stood, almost a statue. Only the minute whine of the barrels of his assault cannon checking readiness showed he was active at all. His focus was on the Inquisitor who was not taking his eyes off the demon. The agent's hand held an unusual chain that was connected to Titus's form and Thule wasn't sure how to free the Ultramarine.
Finally, the Terminators had cleared a space and Thaddeus spun to Thule. "What is that scum doing?"
-I don't know, Thaddeus.- Thule admitted. -Whatever it was, it cannot be good. But right now, we have to stop the demon.-
"Leave, Blood Ravens." The Inquisitor snapped. "This is my work. My prize."
-No.- The dreadnought's voice could not show contempt, but it came through clearly anyway. -Not without the Commander.-
"He is not your commander!" The Inquisitor snapped. "I am giving you an order!"
-And we are ignoring it.- Thule replied. -You have shown your loyalty, Inquisitor and it is not to the Imperium that we serve.- The demon laughed and Thule's assault cannon spat a hail of bullet that bounced off the malignant form. -The Ultramarines wish to 'speak' with you as well. Captain Titus, are you well?- The Inquisitor's prisoner looked at the dreadnought and shook his head slowly. -Noted.-
"You are interfering with things you know nothing about!" Thrax snapped as the Commander slammed the hammer into the Chaos traitor's armor and the renegade Space Marine went flying. "Stop! You cannot kill the demon! If you destroy its corporeal form, it will return to the Warp and I will not be able to bind it, you fools! Leave now or I will..."
The Inquisitor broke off as all of the Space Marines in red turned to look at him. The dreadnought did not move.
"'Bind it'. You are Radical." The Terminator sergeant with the storm bolter said softly. Tarkus was not happy. "In who, Inquisitor? Captain Titus or our commander?"
"I bear the highest authority!" Thrax snapped, all patience fleeing. "You are interfering in the sacred work of the Ordo Hereticus and you will answer for that!"
"So..." The hammer wielding Terminator sergeant said slowly. "You deny the Emperor's authority." Thaddeus looked from the Inquisitor to Thule. "Sir..."
-In his own twisted way, he is right.- Thule admitted. -This is not our place. Come.- The Inquisitor smiled, but that smile faded as the Blood Raven with the hammer left his battle and strode towards Thule.
"Commander! I saved you! You swore to me!" Thrax snapped, hand still moving in the odd energy he was working.
"I did." The Blood Raven with the hammer shook his head slowly. "But there is a higher authority than yours." Behind him, the meat puppet of Carron rose to its feet and the scythe started glowing again. The Blood Raven strode to where Titus stood frozen and with a swift blow, shattered the chain that connected the Inquisitor with the bound Ultramarine. Titus collapsed, but the Blood Raven caught him. It shouldn't have been possible for the red armored form to carry the hammer and the now semi-conscious Ultramarine, but he managed.
"No! Traitor!" Thrax snapped even as the demon laughed and the horde shifted its focus from the Blood Ravens to him. "You will pay for this."
"Yes I will." The Blood Raven said as he moved towards the other red armored forms. "But not by your hands. I did warn you that there were limits." He held out the hammer to the Dreadnought who took it, the claw closing, slotting the massive weapon neatly into place. "Thank you, Captain Thule."
-My pleasure, Commander.- The Dreadnought said firmly. -Let's get Captain Titus to the Apothecary.-
"Blood Ravens..." Captain Titus' voice was soft. "He will... Thrax will..."
"Inquisitor Thrax has problems, Captain Titus." The nameless Force commander said softly as he followed the dreadnought from the battlefield. "More than even he knew."
"What are you doing?" Thrax screamed as the Blood Ravens left him behind. "You cannot leave me here! You cannot!" His stream of invective cut off as another teleport shone in the area and suddenly, five forms in silver armor stood there. Thrax' voice choked off even as the demon scream in horror, Even as the gibbering horde simply vanished. "No..."
"Bother Captain Stern." The nameless Blood Raven nodded to the Terminator in the lead who born a massive two handed sword. "Well met."
"Your name was lost. Kyras stole more from you than most." The Grey Knight intoned formally. "But you will be remembered. I call you 'Nemo' and we shall inscribe your name on our rolls of honored allies." Nemo. Gothic for 'No man'. He turned his gaze to Thrax who seemed to wilt. The demon was still screaming as the other four terminators spread out, halberds and a hammer rising to the ready.
"What have you done?" Thrax demanded, but his bluster seemed to have fled. "You... You swore to serve..."
"I did." The newly named Nemo said firmly. He looked at the Grey Knight captain who waved at him. "Then again, you were the second I swore to serve. You never asked who else had been involved in vetting me after the events on Aurelia." The other Blood Ravens were staring at him in awe and he shook his head. "Captain Titus need help. I tire of this place, brothers and we will all need to talk to the Brother Captain after this."
The Blood Ravens formed up around their leader and marched from the area without a further word. Thrax stared after them, slack jawed.
"They... he..." The Inquisitor looked at the demon, and Carron, but the meat puppet had fallen when the demon had lost control of it. "You..."
"You strayed from the Emperor's light, Inquisitor Thrax." Brother Captain Stern of the Grey Knights said with a grunt as he readied his sword. "The authority is his. Not yours. Your peers wish to speak with you. After we clean up your mess."
With that, the Grey Knights charged the demon.
Shas'Vre Vior'la Oxa'are was no stranger to battle. The battles that had been fought here on this moon had been bloody in the extreme. His teams had found bodies in all kinds of places that the humans had never bothered to clean up. But he had also heeded Mira's warning during one of the briefings right before the Chaos forces had landed.
'According to Agatha's notes, Tau have a limited connection to the Warp. This is both a strength and a weakness. A strength in that the Ruinous Powers cannot reach into your minds and twist them the way they can humans. A weakness in that you have no way to defend against anything else they do. If you do encounter a demon or worse? Run. There is no glory or honor in dying for no purpose.'
He smiled in memory. He liked that Gue'la. He sincerely hoped that the medics would be able to help her, but it was out of his hands. The Manta with her aboard had fled the moon even before the Gue'ron'sha had struck the human ship in orbit. He had fought the human Space Marines before and knew their strengths to his cost, but even he had been shaken by the sheer fury of their assault. The rest of his Hunter Cadre had retreated with him deeper into the tunnels. Here, they had cost the Guard every single trooper that had been sent in. The lucky ones encountered his Fire Warriors and died to Tau fire. The unlucky ones? Well... Shaper Jarl had come for his own reasons on this expedition. When asked, he had made jokes, but it wasn't a laughing matter. When the Kroot had seen what the Ethereals had done here, the Shaper had not been surprised. He had simply demanded to help put an end to it all. The Shaper had known all along, Shas'Vre Vior'la Oxa'are realized. He had known what had happened here and why. Had any of the Kroot been experimented on? He shook that thought away. Not his problem at the moment.
Another chorus of screams sounded as humans ran into the surrounding Kroot squads and the Shas'Vre smiled grimly under the helmet of his XV-85 battlesuit. He and his Fire Warriors would not leave this moon, he knew that. Jarl and his Kroot had to know that too. That between the Gue'la and the Gue'ron'sha, none of them would survive. But it didn't matter. The labs were all burnt out wrecks now. The cells had been sterilized. All of the DNA samples were gone. All records had been taken and all backups destroyed. His mission was accomplished. Farsight would be pleased. With that anyway.
The Gue'la would respond. They always did. But he and his Fire Warriors had come prepared. They had sealed many of the tunnels, seeded others with traps and prepared escape routes. They had placed ammunition caches in many, many places and opened others that dated back to the original base. Add to that the 'special defense' that now blocked the sole large access to the tunnels and this was going to cost the Gue'la significantly. Only a fool charged a KV-128 Stormsurge when it was entrenched in a position where there was no way to fire on it without coming under fire. Anyone dumb enough to show themselves in its field of fire would not last long at all. Infantry or armor, it would make little difference. Tau did not generally hold positions, but this time? They would.
The screams ended and the Shas'Vre nodded to his teams. They moved to another section of tunnel, but the Shas'Vre paused as Jarl appeared nearby.
"Jarl? Problem?" The Shas'Vre asked. His battlesuit weapons scanned the area, but nothing else shone.
"No." The Kroot smiled. "A fine feast and a good day, Shas'Vre." He held out something to the Tau and Shas'Vre Vior'la Oxa'are stared at the bloody medals on the scrap of uniform tunic. "The human Governor General will need a new arm. We didn't quite manage to kill him, but we did take meat from him."
"How was he?" The Shas'Vre asked coldly, staring at the grisly trophy from the highest rankled human in the system, the one who had orchestrated the slaughter here on this moon and many places elsewhere.
"A bit tough." The Shaper admitted. "But with a bit of seasoning, he served."
"Ah yes." The Shas'Vre shook his head. Even he had difficulty with the Kroot's sense of humor occasionally. "The humans?"
"The Gue'la guard are feeding my children as we speak. The battle with the monster continues. We knew not to approach even before you spoke of it." For once, Jarl's tone held no humor at all. "There are stories of these mad Gue'la among the Kroot. Bad stories with foul meat."
"You could have gone on the last Manta, Jarl." The Shas'Vre said slowly as his troops vanished into the gloom. "Why didn't you?"
"You think you are the only one who is too old for this anymore?" Jarl asked, his tone oddly soft. "They will tell stories of us, Shas'Vre. The Kroot will not forget this. Many, many Kroot died defending this place, but the Ethereals 'forgot' to take any of the survivors onto the escape transports."
"So you came for vengeance." The Shas'Vre half stated, half asked.
"No." Jarl shrugged. "They were not my tribe. You know me. I came because you promised me a good meal. I always show up for the meal." He grinned as the Shas'Vre laughed.
"You are bad, Jarl."
It would take the Imperial Guard over ten years to finally clean all of the xenos out from the tunnels underneath the old Tau base on the moon that the aliens had called Nan Yanoi. The governor staggered out minus an arm, the sole survivor of all of the Guard who had entered. His hatred of the xenos drove him again and again into assaulting the impregnable position. The cost in lives in taking the tunnels under the moon base was astronomical. Mainly because only infantry could enter most of them and Jarl had never told anyone but the Shas'Vre that he had brought his whole tribe there. A few of the Kroot managed to escape and a bare handful managed, against all odds, to return to the Enclaves. There the Kroot told stories for millennia about 'Jarl's feast'. The one where the humans who were invited into the tunnels to stay for dinner.
Only after they were sure the Tau and Kroot had been all killed did the Guard dare rebuild anything near Kaurava II. Even then, the fear remained and does to this day. Kaurava produces fine troops, its academies and factories produce some of the best Imperial war making material found anywhere. Their hate of the xenos that had once polluted their system has spurred the Guard from Kaurava to many feats of heroism. But mention Kroot around any troops from those worlds and they tend to get very quiet, very quickly. The only xenos they flee from are Kroot.
They also will not enter caves of any kind without a commissar standing RIGHT THERE.
Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies
Posted: 26 September 2016, 13:16
The apothecarium on the Winds of Tallassar was normally a fairly quiet place. Space Marines were not ones to groan or complain like humans. That said, it was often busy and especially now after an assault on a Nurgle ship and an attack by Imperials plus the events on the surface of the moon. The ship hadn't escaped into the Warp unscathed. An Imperial torpedo had impacted amidships just as they had transited into jump. Luckily, it had only been one. If more had hit, the ship likely wouldn't have survived. As it was, the ship would be in the shipyards of Maccragge for a long time once she got home. But the Strike Cruiser survived as it had for millennia, the Adeptas Asartes who called the massive vessel home living and fighting from it before finally going to their Emperor's side.
Today, the Apothecarium was crowded. It wasn't every day a dreadnought eased its way in through the loading bay. Then again, it wasn't every day a hero of the Ultramarines and a hero of the Blood Ravens were both brought in to be tended. Captain Janus was also present, but both commanders had reassured the Apothecaries they would not interfere and they had not. They simply observed. Finally, the head apothecary stepped from his work to where the pair of mismatched commanders stood patiently.
"Captain Janus." The Ultramarine apothecary's name was Fracier and he was very good at his job. "Captain Thule." He nodded to both.
"Report." Janus said quietly.
"They will live." Fracier shook his head. "That said, Captain Titus is in bad shape. Whatever that scum did to him, his body is reacting badly to it. Resistance to the Warp or not, there was lot of energy poured into him. If not his native stubbornness, he would not have survived."
"And the Blood Raven?" Janus paused and shook his head. "Nemo, the Grey Knight called him." He looked at Thule, but the dreadnought did not speak. "His condition?"
"His wound is straightforward. Evil, but straightforward. He may lose his arm due to the atrophy caused by the weapon." The Apothecary sounded as if he wanted to spit. He had far too much experience with the effects of the weapons of Chaos on battle brothers.
-Do what you must.- Thule said quietly. -We are expecting another. He will judge them both.- Janus spun, staring at the dreadnought and then slowly relaxing.
"Did he say when?" The apothecary took such a development in stride. "We may need to put Captain Titus in stasis for the trip home." He ignored the word 'judge'.
-He did not.- Thule sounded almost apologetic for a moment but Janus just waved at him.
"We both know they do not have time to quibble." Janus said with a shrug. "It won't be long." Indeed, the com chimed and he stared a the dreadnought who did not react. "Yes?"
"Captain Janus." Techmarine Genadi sounded almost in awe. "We are receiving a hail from the Strike Cruiser Purity of Thought. They are sending an envoy."
"Have him escorted to the apothecarium." Janus commanded and then paused. "Tarkus?" He asked Thule. The veteran sergeant was easily the most pious Marine on aboard.
-A good thought, captain.- The dreadnought agreed and then was silent.
"Send Sergeant Tarkus to escort our guest to the apothecarium." Janus said quickly. "Make sure we are ready to get underway."
"As ordered." The techmarine cut the com. Ultramarines did not stand on ceremony all the time, despite what some of their detractors sneered.
Fracier looked at the two captains turned and went back to his work. Janus looked at the dreadnought, but did not comment. They simply waited. It wasn't a long wait. Indeed, less than five minutes later, the hatch of the apothecarium opened and two Space Marines in terminator armor entered. One was well known aboard. Sergeant Tarkus was a solid and dependable veteran marine whose experience and quiet pious nature had earned the Ultramarine's respect many times over. The other Janus did not know. Well, he did not know who the Adeptas Asartes was. He knew what. The Grey Knight wore no helmet, but he still carried his massive two handed sword. No one was about to comment on that. Tarkus waited at the door while the Grey Knight entered, then turned and put his back to it as it closed. It didn't need to be said that the only way anyone else would enter was through the Terminator.
"Welcome aboard the Winds of Tallassar, brother." Janus said formally. "I am Janus, in command." He nodded to the dreadnought. "This is Davian Thule, sharing command."
"Thule." The Grey Knight stared at the dreadnought and then nodded slowly. "Thrax was even more of an idiot than we thought. Ordering you to be disloyal would be kind of like ordering a star to stop burning."
-The only thing that might be worse would be ordering Gabriel to do so.- Thule's voice was dry. -That would be very messy when he got done with whoever tried.-
"You have been tested sorely, Captain Thule." The Grey Knight smiled. "But you have not been found wanting. Well done brother. Well done." The dreadnought seemed to freeze and the Grey Knight waved a hand at him. "No. We will not speak of it. But yes, I do know, and no, you did exactly the right thing on Kronus and after. You have paid, your Chapter has paid, but your loyalty is acknowledged."
-I...- Janus stared at the dreadnought as it seemed to wilt. -Thank you, brother.-
"I am remiss." The Grey Knight said with a frown as he looked at Janus. "I am Bother Captain Stern of the Grey Knights. That is all I can say of who and what I am."
"We understand, Brother Captain Stern." Janus said formally. "Your order must remain as it is."
"Indeed it must." Stern took a deep breath. "We must remain as we are or much of our effectiveness will be lost. I need to examine the Space Marines you recovered." Janus looked at Thule and the dreadnought replied.
-We serve the Emperor- The dreadnought moved to the side, a hard thing in such tight quarters. Janus moved away as well as the slight noise level in the apothecarium died. The apothecaries were staring at the silver armored form as he stepped deeper into it.
"I am here under orders of the Ordo Malleus." Stern said formally. "I bear the burden of proving our brother's guilt or innocence."
"What?" One of the younger apothecaries started, only to be hushed by Fracier. Stern took no offense.
"I take no joy in such, Ultramarine." The Grey Knight said softly as he stepped fully into the ward. "The Ruinous Powers are insidious as we all know. But few even among us..." He glanced at the dreadnought. "...know the true depths of horror that await the foolish or the depraved. Those who stand against such will ever be counted our allies. But we cannot relax our vigilance, even for a second."
Everything stopped as a red armored form stepped out of an enclosure. Parts of his armor had been removed and damaged flesh shone underneath it. He slowly knelt before Stern. His right arm hung limp, it seemed almost to be wasting away as the onlookers watched.
"Nemo." Stern said softly. "How do you fare, brother?" Was his voice kind?
"We serve the Emperor." The kneeling Blood Raven said softly. He bowed his head. "Thrax told me, Brother Captain." At that, the Grey Knight froze. "I didn't understand. I didn't understand the burden that Captain Thule and Chapter Master Angelos suffered under. I didn't understand!" Was he about to cry? What could make a Space Marine cry?
"Knowledge is power. Guard it well." The Grey Knight intoned the Blood Raven motto softly. "So be it, brother." His sword came down until to touched the Blood Raven's bent head. It flashed golden for just a moment and then he raised it. "Look at me, Nemo." The Blood Raven did not want to, that was clear to every observer. But he did as commanded. When he did, Stern nodded to him. "You are not tainted. You feel exactly as you did after the events on Aurelia. You too have been tested. Cast into the pits of darkness and despair and prevailed. Our father would be proud of you. Space Marine. But your memories endanger the Imperium. You saw things and did things in the Inquisitor's company that imperil not just you, but countless lives."
"I know." Nemo said softly. "I serve." He rose slowly to his feet. "I will await the apothecary." He looked at Thule and then slowly straightened to attention. He gave the dreadnought a full formal salute. The dreadnought could not return it, but it bowed as much as it could in response. The red armored form went back into the enclosure.
"Apothecary." Stern was calm, but sadness was heard deep in his tone. Fracier jerked, but then stepped forward.
"Brother Captain?" The apothecary knew what was coming. That was clear from the look on his face, but he too was Adeptas Asartes. He understood.
"By order of the Ordo Malleus, the space marine known as Nemo must undergo a mindscrub and then examination by chapter librarians." The Grey Knight paused. "Both chapters' librarians. Once the scrub is done, place him in stasis for the trip back." Fracier looked ashen, but nodded. To lose all memory of who and what you were was horrible in the extreme, but needed when dealing with such insidious and evil forces. "Captain Thule..." He turned to the dreadnought.
-Battle Brother Nemo will have a place in the Fifth company.- Thule replied calmly. -They did not serve under him. They are still under strength. They will not inquire.-
"Is this... justice?" A shaky voice sounded and more than one person inhaled as Titus staggered out of another enclosure. He wasn't wearing anything but some medical gear and his face was incandescent. He stared at the Grey Knight, but his fury did not abate.
"Captain Titus..." Janus began, but Stern waved and the Ultramarine in armor shut up.
"No, Captain Titus." The Grey Knight said softly. "It is not. We are not arbiters. We are not judges or confessors. We are Space Marines. The battle brother known as Nemo touched things that cannot be touched. You know this." He chided the irate Ultramarine gently. Titus glared at him and Stern sighed. "Captain... I take no joy in this. None. But it must be done. Please?"
Titus slumped a bit and then slowly sank to his knees on the hard metal floor. His head remained up however as the Grey Knight's sword came down to touch it. His gaze remained angry even as the sword flashed and Stern withdrew it. But then, everything stopped as the Grey Knight chuckled?
"None so blind as those who see." The silver armored warrior was chuckling softly even as everyone stared at him. "Rise, Captain Titus. You are not tainted."
"But..." Titus swallowed hard and seemed to be at a loss for words. "I do not know how I resisted the Warp. On Graia or elsewhere."
"Neither do I." Stern admitted. "I find no trace of taint in you. I am hardly perfect, so you will be watched. But Captain, your actions speak for themselves. You are no heretic or traitor. You held firm in the face of an overpowering enemy on Graia and in the Inquisitor's tender care."
"But the Inquisitor said that the only way for me to resist the Warp was to have been touched by it." Titus protested.
"The Inquisitor doesn't know everything." The Grey Knight said with a snort. "He does not even know all of what he thought he knew. He will abide with us until we can remand him into the care of his fellows with the Ordo Hereticus. Along with a stern warning to leave these matters in the hands of the Ordo Malleus."
"So, he will not pay for what he did to Mira?" Titus staggered a bit, but when one of the apothecaries started forward, Titus growled at the space marine who froze and retreated. Wise of him.
"There will be those who call what he did efficient, Captain. To strike a foe in such away with the loss of only one human life? Indeed. Many will say she was a hero no matter if she accepted her role or not." The Grey Knight warned Titus who growled again but nodded. "Not that it worked. She survived."
"Survived?" Titus asked, confused. "How? He implanted her with a bioweapon and coated her skin with diseases. Then he left her for the Tau to find."
"Before giving her the Emperor's Mercy..." Stern said quietly. "...we freed and interrogated the sergeant who was used to form the warp portal. She did not know much, just that the quarantine apparently did not work as intended. We will investigate that. But after the Tau took the base, a Lieutenant Mira came to see her. In uniform and armed." Tutus was shaking his head as Stern continued. "When the Lieutenant realized that the sergeant had been tainted, she had aliens help her. The sergeant begged the lieutenant to kill her, but the lieutenant was smarter than many and suspected that doing so would trigger the warp portal. Wisely, as it turned out."
"Mira was working with Tau?" Titus shook his head, dumbfounded. "I... I cannot believe that."
"We know they can twist minds, Captain Titus." Janus was loathe to interrupt, but seeing Titus so reduced obviously bothered him.
"I owe her a debt, Janus." Titus said with a sigh. "She was taken because of me. She tried to help me and it cost her everything. If we can ascertain her fate..." He paused and looked at Stern. "Thank you, Brother Captain Stern."
The Grey Knight beckoned and Titus staggered to his side. The Grey Knight whispered something into Titus' ear that had the Ultramarine stiffening and then staring at the silver armored warrior. He looked a question at the Grey Knight who smiled at him. Without a further word, Stern nodded to all and left. The door opened for him and the Terminator outside formed up beside him, their boots ringing on the deck. Titus stared after him for a moment and then at Janus who nodded slowly.
"Some Tau ships escaped the moon. A large vessel that had apparently landed and several bomber class ships." The armored ultramarine said quietly. "We do not know where they are going. We lost contact, but both were on the same heading."
"Do you have probes aboard?" Titus asked. "Not knowing her fate will bother me."
"If you listen to the apothecaries, then yes." Janus said with a scowl that became a grin as Titus cursed him foully. "Temper, Captain. We do not want to shock our guests."
"You haven't changed, Janus."
"It is as we feared. The Gue'la are coming this way. They have fired some kind of sensor probe that is following the track of the last Manta from the surface. I told them to alter course. They should have altered more."
Kor'Vre Sa'cea Bant'ath was not a happy Tau. The Air Caste leader had been up until now. This mission hadn't been hard or even incredibly dangerous for most of her forces since the initial emergence into the Kaurava system. That battle, while sharp, hadn't been incredibly difficult for veterans of countless battles against Orks. This on the other hand... Only a fool took the presence of a pair of Gue'La Space Marine cruisers lightly. Only a fool with a death wish ignored them, especially when one of them simply vanished from the most sophisticated sensors that the Farsight Enclaves had, even when mounted on older ships.
"How soon can we jump?" Por'El Salierra was very tired. She had been running nonstop with all of her duties as well as trying to fill out the reports that seemed to be what the Enclaves actually ran on these days. Even with AI assistance, she was tired.
"Five Rottaa." The Air Caste commander said softly. Almost eight hours as humans told time. "We have five ships, only one of which could possibly stand up to a broadside form any Imperial ship. We have few troops after dropping the Shas'Vre and the Kroot. If they get close enough to board, we are doomed."
"Then they won't." The other voice had both of the Tau turning.
"Agatha!" Salierra said sternly. "What are you doing up?" She moved to the blind sister and took the humans' arm, guiding her to a chair. But Agatha shook her head. "You still need sleep, Agatha."
"There is no need to obfuscate the truth, Por'El Salierra." Agatha said with a small, fond smile for her friend. "Even in stasis, I won't survive to make it back to the Enclaves. I know it." The Por'El made a soft, sad noise and Agatha patted the hand that still held hers. "I know. Did you get any scans when I helped Mira?"
"No." Salierra admitted. "We were not sure you knew."
"Commander O'Shovah was incredibly open about what he wanted." Agatha said with a shrug. "But I couldn't give it to him. The need must be there, not simply the desire. I helped bring the Emperor's light to your Enclaves, and it helped me to show the Gue'Vesa how to protect themselves from the Ruinous Powers. If...If Mira survives..." Agatha bit back a sob and the Por'El gave her hand a squeeze. "She will do the same, if not the same way I did, then similar."
"She is not like you." Salierra protested.
"No." Agatha agreed. "But she is also not stupid. She is smart, young and incredibly devout for a soldier." She blew out a deep breath. "I can buy you the time you need."
"No!" The Por'El snapped. "You have done enough!"
"We are going to do this my way or every Tau on these ships will die." Agatha said flatly. "What will it be?"
"You still fight dirty."
Space Marines were not unaccustomed to surprises. But seeing a shuttle that was broadcasting codes that showed it contained an envoy from the Order of the Sacred Rose would have jarred just about anyone. They were not stupid, Ultramarine or Blood Raven. They took it aboard.
Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies
Posted: 27 September 2016, 10:55
Agatha sat in her chair and waited. The robes she wore felt alien to her after so long, but they were familiar. She could -almost- see the Space Marines who swarmed around the small shuttle. It was a human design that the Tau had 'acquired' from a visiting Rogue Trader who had run afoul of certain powers within the Imperium and come to live in the Enclaves. It was unarmed and she had been assured by several different Tau that there were no tricks or traps within its hull or attached to its outside. That would confuse the Space Marines, she was sure. But they also had doctrine for such things as they did for every other aspect of their lives.
She had rotated her chair to face the hatch and made sure that her hands were still and would be clearly visible when it opened. But when it did... nothing happened. She couldn't hear anything outside, as if whoever had to be pointing weapons at her didn't dare speak.
"I am unarmed and unarmored." Agatha called. "I am also blind."
She raised a slow hand to her face and rubbed the bandages that she had insisted on. For the first time in a long, long time, she was absolutely certain that her stubborn decision not to have the Tau remedy her blindness with their technology was a good thing. If Space Marines had seen her with Tau implants... Oh, it wouldn't have ended well at all.
"This is not a shuttle of the Order of the Sacred Rose." A deep voice said flatly from the direction of the hatch. Had to be a Space Marine in full power armor, nothing else had such a voice.
"No, it is not." Agatha agreed as she slowly put her hand back on the armrest. She knew it would be clearly visible and did nothing else with it. "The codes are. Those are mine and probably out of date. I meant no disrespect nor dishonesty. I need to talk to whoever is in charge."
"Who are you?" The other demanded.
"Once, I was Sister Superior Agatha Soliari, Celestian of the Order of the Sacred Rose." The words fell off Agatha's tongue strangely, she hadn't used that name in a long, long time. "Now? I am simply Agatha, a sister who spends her time trying to bring the Emperor's light into dark places."
"A holy sister? Here?" The exclamation was almost certainly not according to the Codex Astartes, but she wasn't about to correct the Space Marine.
"I make no claim to holiness." Agatha replied. "The light is the Emperor's, not mine. I know that Adeptus Astartes do not believe as I do and I am not stupid enough to proselytize here." She could have sworn someone snorted from outside, but that had to be a trick of her ears.
"You came from a Tau ship." The other said flatly and Agatha nodded. "What do you want?"
"To talk to your commander." Agatha said quietly. "My life is ending, Space Marine. I go to the Emperor's side. Or so I hope. But there is something I must do before that."
"And that is?" The Space Marine demanded as armored boots finally started up the ramp that led into the ship.
"To beg for a chance to spread the Emperor's light into darkness." A hand found hers as she stopped speaking. An armored hand.
"You are brave for a human. Stand." The Space Marine said softly as he urged her to stand. She did as instructed. There was no way for her to fight. Not here. Not now. She heard an auspex start to run nearby and did not react as other armored hands patted her down.
"I am afraid, Space Marine." Agatha admitted. "But not of death. I have lived far past my time and if I must die, I will welcome it. I only wish, as I say, to spread the Emperor's light into dark places."
"What happened to your vision?" The other urged her forward and she stumbled a bit, but the hand that held hers steadied her.
"I was taken by the Dark Eldar." Agatha could not restrain a shiver, even now after all this time. "I tried to fight and they punished me for it. They focus on those who can resist them, those who can make the torments last much, much longer. They took me and broke me. I was... lost. It took years of work to see the Emperor's light again."
"Years with who?" The Space Marine was guiding her through an wide echoing area now. Probably a hangar. "Your attire seemed to be a Sister's but it is not made of material we know."
"They call themselves Tau." Agatha did not react as the hand holding hers squeezed although it hurt. "It is complicated. One group took me from the Dark Eldar cage where I had been imprisoned and another rescued me from a lab where the first group was studying me."
"Studying you?" The marine asked, anger seething deep in his voice before vanishing.
"I have nothing to hide now, Space Marine." Agatha said as he led her through what had to be corridors from the echoes. Other boots were marching with them. She didn't need to see to know that the boltguns were aimed and off safe. "The Tau would not let me die. At first it was because I was a curiosity. They had never captured a Sister alive before. Then I was useful to them. They are all about efficiency."
"That they are." A new voice sounded, older, in control. Agatha nodded to the voice as the hand guiding her gave a twitch and she stopped as instructed. "Sister Superior Soliari..." He paused as Agatha shook her head. "What then?"
"I have not been a member of the Order of the Sacred Rose for almost five years." Agatha said softly. She had no doubt that the Space Marines could all hear her. "I could no longer be what I was. I wasn't her anymore. That sister would have died, should have died in that Dark Eldar cage. I am not her."
"Your story is implausible." What that to be the Space Marine commander said just as quietly. "We know what the Tau do. They brainwash people and turn them into willing servants. They turn them from the Emperor."
"I..." Agatha paused what she was going to say and then nodded again. "Yes." She could almost feel the incredulity from all around her. "Thing is, did you know there are two factions of Tau?"
"Two?" The commander asked carefully.
"Yes." Agatha said with a small frown. "One group is led by the Ethereal caste. Those are the ones who found me in that Dark Eldar cage. They sent me back to their homeworlds to be studied." There was utter silence in the area and Agatha continued. "The other... rebelled against the Ethereals, although from what I understand, it was not by choice."
"The Tau called Farsight. We have heard of him." The Space Marine commander said quietly. Agatha nodded. "So, you were in a lab?"
"Yes." Agatha shivered again and the hand that was still holding hers gave a squeeze. "It was unpleasant. Even a gilded cage is still a cage. I couldn't see and I couldn't fight as weak as I was kept. Farsight's people stole material from the lab and managed to spirit me away too. I was a mess, Commander..." She paused. "May I know your name?"
"My name is Janus, sister Agatha." The other replied. "Captain of the Ultramarines Sixth Company."
"Well met, Ultramarine." Agatha bowed her head. "I have to ask something that you will not want to give. But I must ask it."
"You can ask anything, sister. We may or may not respond, but your actions are brave." Janus replied. "You put yourself into our power willingly and show no sign of hostility or deceit."
"Not all battles can be won with boltguns, Captain Janus." Agatha said with a tiny smile. "I learned that on my second mission."
"For me, it was my first." Janus replied, a smile in his own voice. "Ask."
"Let the Tau go." Agatha could not have missed the sudden tension if she had been deaf. "They came here to discover what the Ethereals had done here. To get the plans for the cannon so that they can find a weakness in the design."
"You are with this Farsight." Janus' voice was totally neutral.
"He gave me a place. They gave me a purpose." Agatha frowned. "To this day, I do not know if they manipulated me, brainwashed me. But I found humans who sought the Emperor's light among the inhabitants of the Enclaves. Descendants of those settlers and soldiers who had been left behind when the Crusade was pulled back. I ministered to them the best I could. I was a battle sister, not a mendicant." The silence around her was deafening now. "Kill me if you must, but you will not take those ships. They will self destruct if boarded."
"And if I stand off and blow them to pieces?" Janus paused as Agatha laughed. "What?"
"You are no fool, Ultramarine." Agatha scoffed. "You know better than to fight Tau at range. It doesn't work."
"No." Janus agreed after a moment. "It doesn't. Come with me." The armored hand guiding Agatha gave another twitch and she started moving, obeying her guide. "How long were you among the Enclaves?"
"Seven years." Agatha replied with a calm that she didn't really feel. All she knew about Space Marines was that they were genetically engineered to serve the Imperium. First, last and only. She had no idea if her plea would be received or not. What she did know was that her life was forfeit for working with xenos. She found she did not care much. As she walked, she started humming a prayer. The Ultramarines around her did not interrupt her. Was such beneath their notice?
She felt the change in air pressure as she entered another room. The sounds were odd as well. A medicae facility? But devoid of any of the customary prayers. She kicked herself. Of course the Space Marines wouldn't say the same prayers that humans did. They were not anymore! She remained silent and obeyed the twitch on her hand that commanded her to halt.
"We need sergeants Cyrus and Tarkus." Janus wasn't speaking to her. "Apothecary." A set of boots came close and Agatha fought to remain calm as a hand touched her face.
"Come." The voice was softer, not gentle, just softer and another hand took her free one. The pair of hands guided her forward until she found the edge of a table. They urged her up and she climbed up onto it. She was pulled down onto her stomach and did not cry out as cold, hard things slapped into place around her, binding her in place. The hands withdrew, leaving her to lie in place. She heard voices nearby, but they were hard to make out. The captain spoke again. "Sergeant Cyrus. You told us your tale. You may be able to recognize this human."
An indrawn breath sounded nearby. A calloused hand touched her cheek and slowly, ever so slowly, lifted her chin up. She did not resist. When the voice spoke, it was hushed.
"It is her." The Space Marine sounded choked. "I give apology, Sister."
"For?" Agatha asked.
"After my capture on Kaurava II, I was thrown into a cage by the twisted Eldar." The other said slowly as his hand gently stroked her cheek. "In that cage, I found a dying battle brother and a blinded Sororitas." Agatha stiffened, the pain in his voice was totally out of place in an Adeptas Astartes. "When the Tau attacked, I escaped the cage and fled. I left you to the xenos."
"What else could you do?" Agatha asked, confused. Machinery whirred around her, she ignored it. Live or die, she had no power over that. But this Space Marine? Was this why the Emperor had sent her here? "Space Marine, I was broken! I was beaten, sobbing. They had used me so much, abused me so many times, I..." She gasped as pain came, but she fought past it. "You could not have saved me. All it would have gotten you was caught. I..." She broke off what she was going to say. The Space Marines did not believe what she did.
"Speak, sister." Captain Janus' voice was oddly gentle now. "No one will take your words amiss. Not here. Not now."
"I wondered so many times in my captivity why the Emperor had forsaken me. He hadn't." Agatha said with a frown. "I was just so bitter. So angry that I didn't see the light. Couldn't see it through my rage at what had happened to me. I had fought, hard, and I had failed. A martyrs death was expected of any sister, let alone a Sister Superior." She shook her head a little and the pain increased.
"Don't move." Another voice commanded and Agatha froze in place. "Captain, we cannot heal this."
"I see." Janus sighed deeply. "Pity, I think I would like you, Sister Agatha."
"I doubt it. According to my few friends, my tongue is a sharp as a chainsword." Agatha replied. Janus actually laughed at that and Agatha relaxed a little. "I ministered to the humans of the Enclaves, but to do so, I had to consort with xenos. For so long, it felt wrong and bad. But helping the humans felt good." She let out a sigh. "I know they...changed me. Altered my thinking, if not as blatantly as the Ethereals would have, then just as completely. I do believe in their Greater Good, but the Emperor is still my lord." She was floating now.
"How is that possible?" Another Space Marine.
"The Emperor does not see as humans or Space Marines do." Agatha said through a haze that was soothing her now. "You come closer than I ever will and I envy you that."
"Do not." The other snapped. "We are not human. We are Adeptus Asartes."
"You are a son of the Emperor!" Agatha snapped, then blanched, aghast at what she had just said. "I... I give apology."
"For speaking the truth?" Janus again. "We were made to serve humanity but we are no longer human. We will not believe what you do." He paused and spoke again. "One last question, sister. Where is Lieutenant Mira?" Agatha relaxed in her bonds. Deceit was a bad idea here. But the whole truth was also not a good thing to share with these.
"She is aboard a Tau ship. She was critically wounded by the Governor's men." Agatha said slowly. Truth, all of that. "She may not survive." Also truth.
"She was leading the group that was defending the cannon, wasn't she?" This was the one who had said he had seen her in the cage.
"Yes." Agatha said sadly. "She rallied them despite everything. If the forces of Chaos had taken the cannon, they would have used it. I do not know what role the Inquisitor played, but he hurt Mira and left her for us -the Tau- to find."
"You identify with them." Janus' voice was stern now.
"I spent ten years surrounded by them." Agatha retorted calmly. "I served the Emperor among them, but I do not expect you to believe that. They found Mira in an abandoned ship that had been left in their flight path. They were curious. I do not know why they did not simply kill her when they discovered she had been implanted with a bioweapon. But they can be incredibly pragmatic. She lived when I left the ship. Now? I cannot say. Removing her from the life support will kill her."
"And you want us to let them take her." Janus' wasn't angry. No, he was thoughtful.
"They can heal her, poor girl." Agatha said sadly. "I know what Imperium medicine can do and what it cannot. She is a good kid, a good soldier. I wouldn't usually say such things, but the Imperium is not kind to good soldiers." There was no answer and Agatha fought back a sigh. "You cannot save her. The Tau can. They can give her a new life."
"As a slave to this Farsight?" One of the others demanded.
"No!" Agatha snapped, aware that her life hung by an even thinner thread than before. "Once I was in my right mind again, it took a while, they offered me transport to Terra itself, to the homeworld of the Order of the Sacred Rose. Oh, they had their own reasons, everyone does. But they did. They offered." Nothing hurt, but her breath was coming in gasps now. "I was not a slave. Not to Farsight. Not to the Tau. I served the humans of the Enclaves. Not Farsight." She slumped, spent. "I... Mira deserves better."
Then the pain hit and she could not stop a scream. It faded and she smiled as golden light enveloped her.
All of the Space Marines stared at the woman on the table as her face slowly changed from a rictus of agony to a beautiful smile. She gave one, final rasping breath and slumped to the table, the monitors showing terminal life signs. Titus stood by her side where he had been the whole time, his face sad.
"Brave human." Cyrus said softly as he reached out to touch her cheek. "To come here and say such while dying?" He looked at Tarkus, but the Terminator sergeant was muttering under his breath. Praying? He looked at Janus who shook his head slowly. "Captain..."
"I think the probe just malfunctioned. Without knowing where the enemy is, we cannot engage." Janus said softly. Titus smiled but said nothing. "I will speak sternly to the Techmarines about that." Cyrus stared at him and Janus shook his head. "Titus spoke for us all. The debt is owed and this sister had no reason to lie. If we cannot help Lieutenant Mira, what would be the point of wasting the lives of brothers trying to rescue her?"
"Sir." Cyrus touched the dead human's cheek one more time and shook his head. "With your permission, I think... I would like to see Sister Agatha home."
"The Adeptas Sororitas will not welcome you to one of their convent worlds, let alone the Order of the Sacred Rose's homeworld Terra itself. To Sororitas, Adeptus Asartes are abhumans, abhorrent to their sight and minds." Janus warned.
"I don't care." Cyrus snapped, only to pause as Tarkus laid a hand on his. "Tarkus?"
"We will see the sister home."
Re: [Fanfiction] Legacies
Posted: 28 September 2016, 10:09
[Pluto Orbital station, Terra system]
The Terra system was the busiest place in the entire Imperium of Man. There were other systems that came close, but not equaled it for sheer numbers of ships and people passing through. The Pluto Terminal was not one of the busiest of the ones in the system, but it was fairly well packed with masses of humanity. Which made the sudden lack of people in one section of the terminal cause for consternation. Consternation that died abruptly when the ones investigating realized what was happening. Or more accurately, who.
A full squad of Adeptas Sororitas of the Order of the Sacred Rose blocked the entire middle of one of the hallways. Ten Sisters of Battle. No one dared go anywhere near them. The few of their faces that were visible were not friendly in the slightest. But all of that paled beside the fury that resided in the face of the woman in front of them. That woman was not known to many of the passersby, but a quick check of Imperial records for those with access had them all hurrying away. Cannoness Karina was not a happy woman at the best of times. The few people who had business in the area kept their mouths shut and moved quickly to do their tasks and leave. The rest of the traffic skirted the hallway until a hatch at the end of the hallway opened and everything stopped.
Two Space Marines stalked in. A scout in red armor and a Terminator in matching colors. They escorted a casket that floated on a hover field. The few greatly daring onlookers stared in awe as they saw the fleur-de-lis of the Sisters emblazoned on the casket. Neither of the Space Marines had weapons in hand, but both had them on their persons as they approached the sisters.
"You dare come here, Blood Ravens?" The Canoness' words were calm, but the fury that dwelt within was palpable.
"This sister of your order died in our care." The scout said calmly, ignoring the ten weapons aimed at him. "We did not kill her and she did not waver in any way. She took the Emperor's light with her where she went."
"What do you know of the Emperor's light, Asartes?" The Canoness demanded.
"We know she saw it, at the end." The Terminator said flatly. The Canoness stared at him and her face slowly paled. He nodded. "We agree on few things, Canoness. That is how it has been and that is how it will be. But what she did should be remembered. She was taken by foul xenos on the planet Kaurava and hurt sorely. She was not allowed martyrdom and she held firm to her faith through the darkness. Taken by other xenos for other reasons, she found humans who needed guidance to find the Emperor's light. She aided them to find that light until she came to us at her end. All she said was that she was taking the Emperor's light into dark places. We do not believe as you do. But she did."
He looked at the scout, nodded to the Canoness and turned to go. She stared after him, confused. The scout shook his head.
"We do not believe what you believe. We will not." The scout said quietly. "I owed your sister a debt. The debt is paid. She died free of the xenos and she died in what you believe is the Emperor's light. Deny it if you wish. I am merely abhuman, beneath your regard. But Sister Superior Agatha Soliari is home. My oath is fulfilled."
"What did you say?" The Canoness demanded. "What name?"
"Agatha Soliari. She called herself Agatha." The scout said softly. "Personally, I believe she felt that she was doing your order a disservice claiming any rank. She was a credit to your order. We have to return to our duty now that this one is done."
"I thank you for this service." The words were stilted as if the Canoness wasn't quite sure how to say them.
"It was an honor to meet her. She did your Order proud." The scout nodded to the sisters, turned on his heel and left, the terminator following.
The sisters tracked the Space Marines until they left the area, but the Canoness was staring at the casket. None of the onlookers dared move as tears started falling down her face.
"Canoness?" The sister superior of the squad asked. "Do you wish the casket destroyed?" A gesture and the Multimelta armed sister took aim.
"No." The Canoness said softly, stepped up to it. She touched the metal, her fingers oddly gentle. "We will... investigate this. We will need to know what happened to her, why and how. She was there. I know she was. They had no reason to lie, to say her name if it was someone else. They must have been telling the truth. But... I mourned her with all who were lost with Canoness Agnew. Let us take...our sister to her rest." The Canoness said after a moment.
The Sister Superior nodded slowly and with a gesture, her squad formed up on the casket .A guard of honor. Not many outside the Order knew that Canoness Karina's last name was Soliari.
Her twin sister's name had been Agatha.
[A year later, FAR across the galaxy from Terra]
Sister Genni was afraid. Scratch that, she was terrified but she focused past it. To hide her fear, she was singing. The xenos attack on the Rogue Trader ship that she had procured transportation on had been overwhelming. She as young, barely out of her novitiate. When the call had come for her to travel, she had not questioned her orders. She held her boltgun steady though even as the crew of the Rogue Trader shifted in fear around her. She was not going to fail her Order today. The Order of the Lost Rosetta might be small, but they were very devout.
"New contact!" A call came from the bridge even as the foul greenskins pounded on the hatch. "Tau cruiser! Moving to engage the greenskins!"
"They won't help us." Genni was set now, her focus was sure. She took aim at the hatch that was warping under the pressure of the Greenskin assault. "Not against other xenos."
"They might." The Captain moved to stand beside her. A Storm Bolter hung in his hands. She had no idea how the human had procured such a normally restricted weapon and right now? She wasn't going to ask. "We are within Farsight's domain. He does not like the Orks."
"Who does?" Genni asked incredulously even as the hatch slammed apart and a huge Greenskin shouldered his way in. She fired without thought, her bolts tracking true, the first one bounding off his crude armor, but the second finding a soft spot before burrowing in and exploding. The Ork gave a cry and fell, but dozens, maybe hundreds of the foul things were crowded behind it. "Oh, for a flamer!"
Then it was all fire and fury. Genni fired as she had been trained, seeking weak spots in the Ork's crude armor. The roar of the Captain's Storm Bolter cut down at least a dozen Greenskins on the first salvo, but then the brutes rushed close and it was hand to hand. She used bolts, the Sarissa built into her boltgun and her armor gauntlets when everything else proved clumsy. She saw the Captain go down in a horde of Gretchin as Orks piled on. She was pushed to one wall by the green tide and lost count of how many Orks she slew after twenty. They just kept coming. She took hit after hit, the Greenskins piling on her as the other defenders fell one by one. They couldn't get through her blessed armor, not completely, but each hit took its toll of her protection. She was no veteran, but she was Adeptas Sororitas. She would not surrender. And certainly not to Orks.
"OY!" A shout had Genni flinching even as the mob of Greenskins withdrew. An Ork even bigger than the first one strode in, idly backhanding a smaller Ork who didn't get out of its way fast enough. "Dat one mine! Uz tough, humie. Ur pretty little 'ead look good on me trophy rack." She could see the helmets of many races attached to said rack.
"Come and take it." Genni tried to put defiance into her tone, but she was exhausted. Her boltgun had maybe six rounds left and her spare magazines were spent.
"Youz got gutz, humie." The Ork laughed with glee as he waved a massive axe that had to weigh as much as she did in full armor if not more. He hefted it with one hand. If that hit her, she was dead. "De'll look gud all over de floor."
She did not advance. Instead, she waited, her boltgun ready. As she expected, the Ork gave a loud cry and charged. She dodged to the side, only to realize too late that the cunning Greenskin had faked his charge. She had a moment to see his axe before it hit her. There was no pain, she was just flying. Then she hit and no matter her devotion or determination, she could not hold back a scream. When her head cleared, she stared up as the Greenskin approached, shaking its head.
"Eh, you ain't so tough after all. Just another squishy humie." The Greenskin sounded disappointed as he raised his axe only to freeze as a new sound, one Genni did not know, came. Some kind of gunfire she had never heard before. "NO!"
The Ork spun towards a new threat and Genni raised her boltgun in trembling hands. Even as her vision greyed, she took aim at a tiny green spot on the back of the Ork's armor and pulled the trigger. The recoil sent her screaming into darkness.
Pain dragged Genni back to reality.
"Easy. Easy." An accented voice speaking Gothic was the first thing that Genni heard. "Sister, easy. You are hurt. We are helping."
Genni forced her eyes open and froze. Her helmet had been removed. The human woman bending over her wore a helmet that looked Imperial, but the chest piece and shoulder armor were anything but Imperial. The woman retreated a little, her hands still full of medical gear. One arm was obviously artificial, but it looked far sleeker and more functional than any Imperium tech could have produced.
"Sister?" The woman asked. "I am Gue'vesa Simons. When Orks were detected in the area, we knew the trader was due. The commanders got worried. We rushed here, hoping to save the ship but we were too late."
"The crew?" Genni asked, her head spinning.
"Only you. We were too late for anyone else. Blasted Orks." Simons said sadly. "We need to move you and you do not want to be conscious for that. This ship is going to break up soon, stupid Orks just rammed it as they always do. You are lucky the whole thing didn't fall apart."
"My... My weapon..." Genni scrabbled for her boltgun and the odd soldier nodded. Genni's boltgun found her fingers even as something went hiss nearby. She was falling before she could drive the Sarissa into her own neck. Her confused and hurt expression had the soldier smiling sadly as Genni lost consciousness.
"Too close." Simons shook her head as the medical team finished up and loaded heir newest patient onto a gurney for travel back to their ship. The medical bay was already prepared for the battle sister. They had hoped to meet the Rogue Trader, introduce themselves to Genni and then ease her slowly into the role that her Canoness had proposed when told of Agatha's stay among the Enclaves. Because of the Orks, they would have to do it the hard way, but gently. "Dammit. I wish the Gue'vesa'ui had made it back to the ship in time. She always makes it look so easy. No one tries to suicide when she does it."
"You did well." The Shas'La in charge of the breaching team that had accompanied her said with a nod as the team of Fire Warriors and human auxiliaries formed up to return to their Manta. "The Gue'la is alive."
"Wasn't supposed to show the Gue'vesa armor if I encountered Space Marines or Sisters." Simons griped. "Boss is going to have my head. Didn't think the woman would wake with such a dent in her helmet." She picked up the Sister's helmet and shook her head at the indention in it. A hairsbreadth deeper and Genni wouldn't have had a brain left in her skull. "We will need to scan her for brain injuries before anything else."
"Already ordered." The Shas'La said with a grunt. Simons shrugged as she and her team followed. As they passed the warboss, the Tau field commander shook his head. "Nice shot."
Indeed, apparently the Ork had turned its back on the Sister of Battle for just a moment too long. A small hole shone in the back of its skull and what brains such a beat possessed were scattered everywhere. The vulnerable area was less than a handbreadth wide. With the Warboss down, the Tau and Gue'Vesa team had faced little organized resistance.
There was nothing else to do on the doomed vessel, so as the other teams retreated in order to the hangar bay where they had landed, Simons' team escorted the gurney into the cavernous Missile Destroyer that severed as their mobile base of operation. There Simons had a surprise.
"Mira!" Simons inhaled as the hover gurney moved to its designated slot and a team of Tau medics stood ready for their newest patient.
"Stop blaming yourself." The dark haired human said sharply as she strode to where Simons' team were racking their weapons beside the Fire Warriors they had been assigned to. "Nothing that happened was your fault." Simons would not meet her eyes and Mira sighed. "Do you need another talk with the Por'El?"
"No!" Simons said quickly. She didn't like the Tau. Not at all. She worked with them, because she had little choice. She did not resist as her second in command took hold of one arm and Mira took hold of the other. "I..."
"It is not your fault, Simons." Mira said sadly. "Mi'ria! Simons has had another episode." A blue skinned form stepped from the team of medics towards them and Simons started to struggle. Her face was Tau, but was also like Mira's. Stood to reason, she had started from the same DNA. Finding out that now there were two of Mira had been a hell of a shock for a lot of people. Agatha hadn't explained what she had done and Mira had been a mess for some time after. The Tau hadn't expected it either, but they had adapted. "Simons! The Emperor protects. Calm."
The human slumped in the hands that held her even as the Tau stepped close, her face sad.
"No!" Simons begged as Mi'ria produced something that whirred. "No! Don't make me forget! I don't want to forget!" She couldn't move as the Tau placed the device in front of her eyes.
"It is not your fault, Simons." Mi'ria's voice was so like Mira's but gentler. Stood to reason, she had been made from Mira. After a great deal of discussion, she had been inducted into the Water Caste and Por'El Salierra was her mentor. She heaved a very human sigh. "We should not have let you go into combat. The stress was too much. Calm, Simons."
"No!" Simons screamed, struggling in the hands that held her now. "No! Don't! Please! I want to remember! I want... to..." Her voice trailed off and her face lost all expression.
Mira and Mi'ria led Simons to a seat as the Manta's engines rumbled, signaling their departure from the doomed human ship. There, they strapped the dazed human in and Mi'ria sat beside her, working her device. Mira turned to the Fire Warriors and moved to sit with them.
"Anything new to report?" Mira asked.
"No." The Shas'La replied evenly. "She did very well. She will be missed." Mira looked at where Simons was sitting and shook her head. "I don't like it either Gue'vesa'ui."
"No one does, Shas'La." Mira hated parts of her job. Not the least of which was when her Gue'vesa failed the Greater Good through no fault of their own. "Of all the humans who came with me, she was the only one who was capable of combat. We should have known that she was stressed. She hid it so well." The Shas'La just looked at her and Mira bowed her head. "I know. I will prepare a full report."
"Mother." Mi'ria's voice held worry mixed with affection. "I am sorry. I thought she was ready." Mira patted the seat beside her and the Tau that looked like her sat.
"So did I." Mira admitted. "She will serve. We all do. I had just hoped... We need more Gue'vesa'ui. I thought she could handle it, but it was too much."
"Even if she cannot fight, she has a place in the Greater Good. They will be kind to her, Mother." Mi'ria said softly as she laid her head on Mira's armored shoulder. Mira smiled and held her daughter.
"I know." Mira felt tears start to fall as Mi'ria held her. "But it won't be her. She was the only one who made it through and now... I have lost her too. It is hard, daughter."
"I know." Mi'ria said sadly as she too fought tears.
No one, not a single human or Tau, had expected what had happened. No one had possessed any explanation as to why Mira had emerged from her stasis pod in a hospital on the Enclave world of Vior'los six weeks pregnant with a non-human child! It had to be a result of the Ethereals' experimental drug, but no one could figure out why it had happened. The Fio'El was banned from Mira's presence for life for his crime against her and Mira was only too happy to stay far away from him. The former human soldier's mind had been whole, but the child had been born with almost all of Mira's knowledge if not the experience to use said knowledge. The shock of that had nearly unhinged Mira, but in the end, she had accepted the love of her daughter.
"We will need to be careful, Mi'ria." Mira said after a moment. "Sisters of Battle are dangerous. But if we can duplicate what was done with Agatha, we might earn a powerful ally."
"I have already notified the Por'El. She is preparing things as we speak." The Tau that was her daughter released Mira and scrutinized her. 'You haven't been sleeping enough."
"One of you mothering me is bad enough, Mi'ria." Mira complained. "I swear, the Por'El is going to be feeding me out of a bottle next!"
"Only if you make her." Mi'ria said with a smirk. Mira glared at her and the Tau around them chuckled.
Mira had to smile at her daughter. The future was opening up and they would meet it together.
For the Greater Good.
"I regret the decision." Marneus Calgar was a very busy man, but he had made time for this meeting. "But in the end, we have little choice. The answer must be 'No'."
"Our reputation has tarnished us." The Blood Raven who stood in front of him said with a shake of his head. "I had hoped, but I do understand."
"We can continue the joint training if you wish." Calgar offered. "We are sending several companies to a planet called Arkhona. Orks and Eldar are present there along with larger numbers of traitors. We do not know why as of yet, but whatever it is, cannot be good."
"Perhaps a squad or two." The Blood Raven offered. "But we too have been ordered to show strength on an outlying world. Eldar and Orks have been sighted on Acheron for no reason that any Imperial can say and both leaders are known to us. An Eldar Farseer named Macha and the Ork Gorgutz." Calgar nodded, but his gaze was far away. "Chapter Master Calgar?"
"Ultramarine records go back a long way." Calgar said slowly. "There are records stored on Maccrage that predate the Emperor's ascension to his throne." The Blood Raven nodded and Calgar continued. "While contemplating your proposal, I perused those records. I found this." He held out a scroll to the Blood Raven who took it gingerly. ""That was the only copy and I have no idea how it got in there. It wasn't supposed to exist." The Blood Raven stared at the scroll and then at the Chapter Master who shrugged. "Yes, I looked. And no, no one else will ever hear such from me. I thought I knew what secrets were. You..." The Chapter Master of the Ultramarines sounded awed now. "Ten thousand years. Loyal. I thought I knew what honor was, Blood Raven. Your Chapter's devotion has humbled me."
"It can never be spoken of on pain of death." The Blood Raven said softly. "But thank you. We cannot ever acknowledge the Primarch from whom our geneseeds came. But we will be loyal to the Emperor as he should have been."
"All these millennia, hiding the truth. The fact that a black shield of all people, formed a chapter to fight his Primarch..." Calgar said with a shake of his head. "A hard task, but you are up to it. Knowledge is power."
"We guard it well." Gabriel Angelos said firmly.