Don't judge too harshly. I don't write too often, but I do enjoy a little flavor to go with what I am working on.
This had been the third venture into the danger-wrought depths of the hive city, and amused was certainly trailing at the bottom of the list of descriptions one could label Inquisitor Melnyk.
Word had reached one of the Inquisitor’s well-placed informants through his apprentice, Celerus, that Partisan activity had been attributed to a recent uptick in support for the False Primarch within the hive from their residents. No spotting of the supposed deity-like being or his astartes had been made, but such rumors had to be investigated and disputed, and the previous two attempts made alongside local authorities had been unsuccessful. This time would be different.
Soon the retinue of trusted acolytes and agents of the throne came near to the end of corridors and gantries they recognized, and a halt was called by Melnyk. “Conduct equipment checks, all members indicate ready status.”
The Inquisitor himself checked the life signs of his squad, ensuring they were all synced with his retinal display. His custom power armor was operating at peak, his status as an inquisitor ensuring availability of the best protection the Imperium could offer and putting on display his occupation by means of the ‘I’ of the Inquisition adorning his armor. The skull-topped stave in hand served a dual purpose; a rallying tool and when activated, a powerful mace thanks to the integrated power field hidden beneath the adamantium layers of the skull. Occupying his right hand was an archaic pistol, a remnant of bygone days, capable of reducing a man’s flesh to ash and sundering armor.
Celerus acquiesced, running long digits across the breadth of his daggers as he moved them to caress the barrel and stock of his custom modified rifle. Upon stowage, he released the catch for his large caliber pistol and eyed the round count, taking in the indication of full.
He had been given the moniker “The Asp” nearly a decade ago by Inquisitor Melnyk. This had as much to do with his lithe build, speed and lethality of his actions as it did the calculating and clever machinations of his mind. The employment of a myriad of poisons and chemicals to paralyze, befuddle, and in some cases execute a target only saw the name stick. He preferred hand to hand combat; sinewy arms and legs provided him with great reach and a strength underestimated by most of his marks. Celerus had proven to be a viable candidate for ascendancy to Inquisitor, a few years more and there was no doubt he would be called upon to shoulder the responsibility.
Slaine conducted functions check on his grenade launcher and adjusted the grip on his assault shield. Brouwer did the same with his assault ram, ensuring the breaching mechanism was properly pressurized and the launcher was hot. Finally, Toth thumbed the activation stud on his shock baton, the glow bouncing off his layered, carapace-like flak armor and rolled his shoulders in preparation.
The three acolytes of his aggressor cadre had been integrated into his team during one of his ventures in another part of the galaxy, poached from a hive’s highly trained and specialized law enforcement unit. All of them were gene-wrought humans, chemically enhanced to amplify their strength, size, and speed. Nearing two meters in height, in their armor, they appeared to be triplets. Their raw size, attributed to growth stims and genetic manipulation amplified their presence and securely placed intimidation in the retinue’s court. Coupled with their close quarters and crowd dispersal training, this made them extremely effective.
Their shoulders bore the weight of the pelt of a native species of predator; an amalgamation of bear and cat that preyed on humans moving alone or in small groups. Their order required the slaying and proof of such of a beast before their induction. Few opted to submit for consideration into the elite, and even among those, few return successful. This made for an extremely select and small fraternity. One can only imagine the rage their commander felt as the three of them were acquired by the Inquisition.
An Inquisitor has all the means to build his or her own retinue, and every situation required a different approach. Negotiations were not the goal; results, immediate and violent, were in order.
Melnyk had left Frothe, his facilitator, a title he bestowed upon his retinue’s chirurgeon doubling as an assistant during interrogations, back at their safe house. Basic combat aid was practiced by all and he wasn’t willing to risk such a highly trained member in the chaos of a possible firefight. The band’s sanctioned psyker, Lyridos and their contribution from the Mechanicus, Adept Zeta-471 were also in standby, keeping their means of escape on warm-ready should the situation turn absolutely sour. Left in their company as protection detail were a handful of other acolytes, armed with bolters.
Mere moments passed and his internal vox chimed readiness, the five squads of Planetary Defense Forces backing him were in readiness.
Previous attempts to delve further than their current position was met with resistance from hive inhabitants in the form of polite, but stubborn insistence of the absence of trouble. The first interaction was civil, but all following attempts to proceed further began to see patience wearing thin on the faces of the locals. Eventually, the attempt was rebuffed with force, and ‘withdrawal’ was called as two of the number had been felled by stubber and las fire.
The Inquisitor selected a secure channel, and activated his mic “Lieutenant, if you would be so kind as to send forward a squad of choice, we can proceed.” The officer keyed his mic twice in affirmation, and a squad pushed forward to secure the lift to the lower levels.
Ten Terran seconds passed, and the ‘all clear’ was called in. “Let us advance then.”
The steady descent to the lower levels went quietly, but there was no doubt a reception down below would be waiting for them. As the elevator slowed to a halt, and the mechanisms secured, the doors’ hydraulics hissed and they opened.
The expectation was an angry mob, or perhaps immediate fire, not disquieting absence. There was not a single noise save for the breathing of his men in their respirators and then thumping of his heart in his head. The slate-grey floor immediate was clear, save for the occasional pile of debris typical of underhive territories. All around were gantries, usually teeming with activity, completely empty. The monitors that flashed planet-wide alarms or announcements were still operating, but no one was around to see the messages. The majority of hab-lights were off, with a few flashings intermittently, tossing shadows and generating patterns on walls. In moments of illumination, one could make out the pattern of silver stars, made up of four points, daubed on various walls and above hallway entrances.
“Custodia, initiate.” Melnyk voxed to all task force channels. The various squads of Guard moved quickly to defensive positions; three securing entrances at their level and a single squad moving to secure elevation superiority via spiral staircases to the scaffolding. Behind him the lift doors closed and the platform began its ascent.
“Set.” The only word from the Lieutenant once his entire platoon was in place as he approached the Inquisitor with his command squad. He did not react to the approach, instead listening and taking in the backdrop. A place typically busy with human and ab-human activity was absolutely still. Doors to shops and stalls were closed, windows shuttered at every building.
Feedback suddenly screeched across the public distress systems, and a voice, not devoid of civility and full of deep intonation, broke the silence, “Your last two visits saw you endeavor to feign peace, but deigning to stymie word of the return of a true son of the Emperor. We know what is in your heart and what you have been tasked to do. I beg you reconsider and see the truth or return to whence you came and leave us be.”
“I cannot… The High Lords of Terra have decreed it so. Your attempts to inject unfounded hopes of a son, newly found, will fail. Whatever warp-borne whispering has turned men of reason away from the Emperor’s light must be silenced.” The reply echoed from his built-in speakers, across and up into the high ceilings, and down vast corridors. The finality of it marked with many seconds of silence.
“So be it…” The same voice, now marked by sadness, uttered. The last word trailing off, as though departing.
The Inquisitor tensed, “Steel yourselves… Pattern-Uncas.” The squads responded by forming defensive positions, taking cover where possible, setting weapons to fire and pointing outwards into the vast darkness of the halls. “Lieutenant, see the lift returned to our level please, I fear we may need it…”
As the task force commander’s squad moved to secure the lift, the scream of metal doors yawned open. Eyes latched onto them, awaiting the arrival of what, no one knew. A slowly building rumble of footsteps began to build, and the task force members watched as nearly four score of people garbed in the same planetary defense trappings his support wore poured from a triad of hallways. The silver star adorning their uniforms and body armor, replacing the planetary symbol originally in place. The officer hurriedly activated the lift controls, praying for it to meet them soon.
The last engagement had them facing residents and hive natives, not a well-trained force all armed with las-rifles and pistols. They did not point their weapons at the task force though, instead keeping them low and ready.
From the central entry, the same voice, now projected from out of the darkness. It bore all the hallmarks of a diplomat, but carried across the expanse, reaching every corner as a voice made for the fields of battle would, “I assume you understand the position you are in, and I offer you, once again, the opportunity to see this is no blind cult, nor a movement of false intention. Look upon me and know only He, a true son of the Emperor, could sway minds such as mine to his side.”
Heavy footfalls rang out, the only sound penetrating his ears. He watched as the darkness of the middle entryway coalesced into the body of an “Astartes…” The word whispered, but heard by all. ‘So, it was true,’ Melnyk thought to himself. Rumors had been spread, and shadow-talk spoke of the involvement of the Angels of Death, but mere words were nothing in the face of overwhelming truth borne of sight.
Astartes were nothing new to the Inquisitor. On a few occasions, he had been in situations requiring their involvement, but always in support of his taskings. Never had he dreamed of facing one, opposite him in conflict.
This one was clad in the infamous power armor indicative of a time best forgotten, a heresy many millennia past, but still recent in the memories of some organizations. The sea green and white, contrasting sharply with the dark and foreboding backdrop of the atrium, identified the astartes as a member of the Inheritors. The bonding studs combined with the baleen-like snout gave a brutish appearance, a stark contrast to the noble voice that echoed from it.
As the Inheritor strode forward, the gathering of mortals siding with the False Primarch peeled away, opening an avenue to his retinue. The agent watched as hesitation revealed itself in the posture of his guard, then resolve once again cemented as they tightened their formation. The space marine’s boltgun remained clamped to his right thigh, and in his left hand the chainsword remained silent. He gestured with his right hand, a beckoning motion, “Let us speak of this. Allow me permission to open your mind to the reality of ou…”
His sentence was cut short as the elevator from the upper level clanged to a halt and the gates sighed open, silence. Then, “traitor,” reverberated from the lift, a statement delivered with finality before a quick flash and the tell-tale bang of a bolter round leapt from the barrel.
The round impacted the Inheritor squarely, at the join of the right arm and its torso. An adamantium core penetrated and shattered, into the exposed body in the wake of the high explosive impact. The Inheritor disappeared from sight as a surge of traitor guardsmen pushed forward. At the same time, Inquisitor Melnyk turned and smiled to himself as two astartes strode from the lift, one firing a bolter indiscriminately into the wave of traitors and the other rapidly covering the ground whilst chainsword and axe-rake growled as if they were hounds hungry for battle. Both were clad in nearly void black armor while the silhouette of the head of a predator bird in white stood out on their pauldrons. On helmet and knee-pad the duty-approved iconography of the Vigilants was exposed in plain-view.
‘Indeed, this time would be different…’ he thought to himself…
Edited by Armond, 08 August 2021 - 02:12 PM.