THE CORRIDORS WERE filled with the sound of screams. There were the screams of the defiant; oath-laden shouts of vengeance and revulsion, followed by the dull thump of low velocity weapons’ discharge. In response were the shrill screams of something utterly alien infesting the Xenocide; a bestial screech that defied natural order. Loudest of all, were the screams of the dying; the agonised cries of the vessel’s crew as they were torn apart by scything limbs and razor-filled maws.
Loyal servants of the Imperium, slain by an insatiable primordial directive to consume. Even the hain, notoriously hardy in their constitution, knew when they were outclassed. The tyranid, however, were relentless, a species truly deserving of unsanctioned extermination by the Emperor’s Holy Inquisition.
Unsanctioned extermination in this particular case, was precisely what Greysight of the Storm Sons delivered. Whilst the Xenocide's security details waged their counter-attack with efficacy and discipline, the numbers were against them. The unexpected appearance of the one of the Deathwatch galvanised the dwindling detachment, and they rallied around him, concentrating their fire on the chittering hordes of the lesser creatures, whilst Greysight fired lethal bolt rounds into the larger tyranid bio-forms with pinpoint accuracy. Before long, Xenocide’s primary access corridor reeked of fyceline and the charnel stink of freshly slain corpses.
With rehearsed precision, the soldiers split up, combing over the dead, the boom of their low recoil guns deafening in the aftermath as surviving xenos stragglers were executed.
‘Primary corridor is secured, Lord,’ reported Lorcan, the detachment’s sergeant.
‘We've lost too many,’ said Greysight, matter of factly. ‘Deck Three’s access to the hangars is still compromised. How many combatants can be spared?’
Lorcan spoke into his vox unit, and Greysight could hear a flurry of non-verbal pips.
‘Good enough, Sergeant. Send cleanup and recovery teams to this location to attend to the wounded. That leaves two squads of eight, and you get us,’ Greysight gestured to Sabaan, who had suddenly materialised next to the group. The Iron Hand was drenched in gore.
‘I was preoccupied,’ said Sabaan, without preamble. ‘Brother, I have communed with Master Rubio. We are to rendezvous with Akkad, Ghent and Yeng, and make haste to the outer reaches to answer the Interrogator’s summons.’
‘In this?’ asked Greysight softly, pointing at the Xenocide’s ceiling, as the group moved towards the hangar decks.
‘Conviction,’ reminded Sabaan. ‘Spearcast is immune to the aerosolised mutagenic acid present in the thermobaric shield, keyed to the tyranid genome. The watch-sergeant has exloaded coordinates and our esteemed brothers are making their way towards the Grand Estates as we speak. Besides, Vinov is not the primary target of the invading hive fleet. We will endure.’
Deck Three was pitched in complete darkness. Down here, even secondary backup power systems had been compromised by the enemy. By some miracle, only the lighting systems were affected, rather than local gravity or life support.
Greysight led the way, with Sergeant Lorcan's squad carefully following using their in-built suit lumens to see in the dark. Behind them, Sabaan covered the rearguard with the other squad. Blades of sterile light revealed the deck awash with dozens of carcasses strewn across the corridor in chaotic abandon, the floor sticky with a film of coagulating blood and bio-fluid. Calcified limbs ending in razor sharp edges lay next to a tangle of limbs and the slumped bodies of the slain. Inquisitorial security were easily identified by their grey and black uniforms. The chitons and shredded robes of enginseers, armourers and non-combatant personnel could also be seen amongst the carnage. Evidentally, the firefight had been intense, and the invaders did not discriminate between their prey.
Beyond, Xenocide's hangar loomed, bathed in red warning lights. A good sign, assured Sabaan, for it meant that vital systems were operational in the hangar.
Sergeant Lorcan's first squad initiated their sweep, but Greysight held up a closed fist.
'Me first,' declared the Space Marine, unsheathing his duelling knife, picking his way through the corpses, scanning for threats. The blast door was jammed open with the press of spent tyranid corpses.
Greysight sensed the threat even as it dropped from the ceiling, cloaked in the stygian blackness. Weeks of engaging with the vanguard species of the hive mind revealed a malign, predatory intelligence driven entirely by instinct. For all its speed and hyper-evolved strength, the genestealer was predictable, meeting its nemesis in the form of humanity’s own gene-enhanced apex predator: one that possessed a keen intellect programmed for warfare, and the tools to overcome the hive mind when engaged on a one to one basis.
The creature impaled itself on Greysight’s duelling knife, and the redoubtable Spare Marine leaned forwards, chopping downwards as if throwing an opponent over his back, using the genestealer’s momentum against it, and pinning it to the floor.
‘Now!’ yelled Greysight.
Lorcan’s squad opened fire without hesitation, killing the tyranid outright. A stray round ricocheted off the creature’s hardened exoskeleton, clipping Greysight’s shoulder pauldron. If the Storm Son noticed, he gave no sign as he wrenched his ichor covered duelling blade out from the genstealer’s jaw. With a deft spin, Greysight flicked off any remaining blood before expertly sheathing his blade in its scabbard.
‘The Emperor protects,’ announced Sabaan, his voice tinged with vox interference in the darkness.
‘Status?’ asked Greysight.
Sergeant Lorcan saluted. ‘Lord, hangar and Deck Three secure, and secondary power reinstated in the affected corridors. It appears we've destroyed the vast majority of the boarders, though we're getting reports that a few surviving xenos are evading extermination. Recovery and burner teams are inbound.’
The Space Marine grunted with approval. Shipmaster Rubio had temporarily prioritised power to the Xenocide's hangar bay whilst Sabaan, several servitor units, and a small contingent of enginseers powered up Spearcast for pre-flight checks and Rites of Initiation. Greysight stood in the shadow of the Stormraven gunship, which cast an imposing profile in the hangar. Whilst smaller than its more common cousin, the Thunderhawk, the turret mounted assault cannons, twin-linked heavy bolters and its limited missile complement made the compact aircraft a formidable opponent. Additional ceramite armour plating was painted in the ebon and scarlet colour scheme of the Ordos, a stylised 'I' emblazoned prominently across its front end.
In the absence of armourers killed by the tyranids, a dozen soliders from Lorcan's security detail hauled promethium fuelling hoses under the direction of one of the enginseers, whilst the rest, bolstered by a further three detachments, stood guard around the hangar.
Greysight's helm display clicked, and he looked up towards the Spearcast's cockpit, where Sabaan had placed himself, intending on piloting the craft himself.
'You will have to operate the dorsal turret yourself, at least until we get to the rendezvous point' said the Iron Hand, in between spurts of binaric chatter with the Stormraven's servitors.
The Storm Son needed no further prompting, and after several minutes, was nestled inside the confines of the turret. Even with his smaller stature, Greysight wondered how anything bigger than a servitor could operate the turret efficiently.
'Pre-flight checks are optimal, and your promethium reserves are at eighty-two percent capacity,' intoned one of the enginseers. 'The necessary Rites and prayers have been spoken.'
'You are cleared for launch, Spearcast,' voxed Shipmaster Rubio. 'The Emperor watch over you.'
Sabaan dismissed the crew, who retreated into the safety of the corridor before initiating the gunship's launch thrusters. Greysight looked over to Lorcan's squad in the distance, who knelt in obeisance before their masters, hands splayed in the sign of the Aquila.
Spearcast hovered, gently levitating towards the launch bay, before accelerating with blistering speed through the depressurising runway and into the maelstrom, and the firestorm beyond it.
Edited by Nineswords, 09 October 2019 - 02:21 PM.