Thanks Brother Cambrius! - Glad someone still appreciates the Nestir V AoD and the work that goes into it!
As for you're offer to help, I'm afraid I was supposed to be done with the AoD now, but I've been slightly delayed. Even so I've written pretty much everything that needs to be written by this point. - Just some small things that still need to be fleshed out and I will be presenting the last stories throughout the week. - Thank's for the offer though!
Anyway, here is the intro story for Round 4.
+ + + + +
"Welcome back!", a familiar voice said, accompanied by the smell of bananas.
General Storm Hawkin Frost opened her eyes to soft light and the sound of beeping. She felt groggy and distant. Focusing was hard as she tried to sit up in the soft bed she rested in, and found that she was too weak to do much of value.
“You should take it easy”, Inquisitor Smith said with a reassuring smile, sitting on a small wooden chair close by. “You are in the infirmary onboard the Gladius class frigate Lux-Pollus. It's one of the Guardian Angels' support craft. There is a major fleet conflict going on, but not to worry, we are a bit beyond the main fighting, and we should be perfectly safe here”. Smith smiled again as he rocked back and forth on his small chair.
Storm gave up trying to sit and just slumped back in bed with a sigh of resignation.
“Are you ok? You look kinda dizzy”, Smith said, and Storm glanced his way trying to focus again. “Your one to speak”, she replied with a weak smile; “Your not even in focus”. Smith laughed. “Tell it to the Concierge!”, he said. They've given you quite the cocktail, but it should wear off shortly. The fact that you're even awake is proof of that.
“Wear off?”, Storm asked looking up at a polished steel ceiling. “No, I'm dying I should say. - Just haven't had the time to get around to it properly yet”.
Smith laughed again and stopped the rocking on his chair to lean towards Storm instead. “You're not dying”, he reassured her in a playfully insistent way.
“Tell me. Do you believe in a life after death?”, Storm asked, blinking at the ceiling above her as things were starting to get a bit more focused.
“Well, that is a complicated question that I do not yet know the answer to”, Smith said. “But what I do know is that I believe in a life before death”. “Thats hardly an argument”, Storm said, and Smith furrowed his brow in confusion. “Its not supposed to be an argument, its a statement!”, he insisted. “Oh!”, Storm replied and tried to shake her head to clear it, but found that all she managed to do was to turn her head and look at Smith again. His visage had cleared a bit, but it was still swimming. “What happened?”, Storm sighed trying to search her memory. “Battle”, she said, remembering. “Underground. - We were, loosing. A demon. Huge. - We were covered in blood and grime and there was dying everywhere. Screaming! Madness! Sacrifice! - I watched you die”. Storm locked her gaze upon Smith again and with an onrush of adrenaline, he suddenly snapped into focus.
“That whole situation? - Nah! It was floccinaucinihilipilificatious”, Smith said looking a bit more serious all of a sudden, though he tried to disguise the sorrow in his eyes.
“That's a bit rich, even coming from you”, Storm said and tried to sit up again.
“I cant help it”, the eccentric Inquisitor answered. “I don't like hospitals. - They give me the creeps”.
“The baby!”, Storm suddenly remembered and sat bolt upright, clutching her belly.
“It's ok”, Smith reassured again, and Storm stared at him, clearly disbelieving his claim.
“Here, let me help you”, Smith said, getting up to help her sit up in bed by tucking a few extra pillows behind her back. “You were affected by the Soul Devourer”, he said while working on the pillows. “We had to resuscitate you and you've been in a coma for over a month”. “As for the child”, Smith continued, sitting back down on his chair and looking straight at Storm. “Well, your unborn child has suffered a soul-tearing. It is a process in which the energy-link to the Immaterium is severed, and it is more common than you'd think. In such cases the person involved becomes a psychic null. A pariah, an untouchable”.
Stom's response to this information was one of utter horror. “Not to worry!”, Smith said, taking Storms hand. “It is perfectly normal. The tearing was not a full one, and most people this happens to go on to become perfectly upstanding Imperial citizens. Usually in special professions for the Inquisition”.
Storm looked angry. “I know all about your precious special professions”, she said, letting go of Smiths hand and leaning back in her bed with her arms crossed before her chest. “No you don't!”, Smith insisted. “They don't all end up as psychotic killer assassins. While socially challenged, some of them go on to respected institutions, like the Brothers of Silence at the Guardian Angels' Silensium for example. They are a dedicated brotherhood of scholars and Warp Guardians that serve at the Blackwall institute. They are a highly respected organization among the Guardain Angels, much like the Librarians of other Chapters”. Storm just looked away, her arms still crossed. “I think we should change the subject”, she said, clearly uncomfortable with the whole idea.
“Ok”, Smith said, letting go of her hand and leaning back in his chair again. “Well, your Inquisitorial Storm Trooper wardens are back”, he said. “Courtesy of one Garl Rugajov of Ordo Hereticus. - Two of them are just outside the door even now”. Storm looked at Smith again and dropped her guard a bit. “What of YirrikZhai?”, she asked, knowing that her precious relic weapon may have been lost forever. “It's right there, next to your bed”, Smith said, indicating a long leather scabbard sitting on a pile of clothing and armour. Clearly freshly washed and folded. Storm sighed in relief and clearly relaxed again. “At least there is some good news”, she said, looking back at Smith again. “I aim to please!”, Smith said, smiling. “And we haven't even gotten started yet! - The night is young, dark and full of lobsters”, he continued with a mock flirtatious wiggling of the eyebrows. Storm couldn't help but chuckle at that and immediately felt better again. Quirky Inquisitor Smith somehow always found a way to make people feel better, even in the darkest of times.
“Fill me in”, she said. “What happened in the last month?”. “Well”, Smith said, looking serious. “The Orbital Defence Satellite Network has fallen and Hive Primus was almost destroyed. The Fleet had to withdraw from Nestir V, and we were trapped on the planet. We lost the Snow Leopard to the enemy, and right now the Imperial Fleet has returned. We were evacuated and currently a titanic fleet conflict is going on to reestablish Imperial dominion over Nestir V”.
“Ok, but how can we even be alive?”, Storm asked. “By all rights we should be dead”.
“Awww, come on! With a dashing hero like me on the case, how can we loose?”, Smith jibed, but Storm was not amused. “The last thing I saw before darkness overtook me was you on your knees”, she said in a tone so serious that it drew Smith back into a serious tone again too. “You were going insane and screaming gibbering phrases of incomprehensible madness while horrid demons swarmed and overran our position”.
Smith just shook his head. “Ok, first of all I wasn't mad”, he began. “My words weren't incomprehensible gibbering phrases of madness, and those weren't demons, they were a xenos
race called Hrud. They were swarming our position, yes; yet not to kill us, but rather to save us”. A moments pause stretched out between the two as Storm took the information in, letting her drug rattled mind process it for a second or two. “Seriously, it was the worst rescue eva!”, Smith shot in with loud mocking humour, and Storm was once again reminded that at times she thought the Inquisitor to be utterly mad.
“Worst rescue ever?”, she asked. “Says who?”.“Says me!”, Inquisitor Smith answered with a stern look. “Oh, look who's talking”, she jibed, feeling better again. Better just for being alive. Just because Smith had a way out of anything. “Look, I have a great deal of experience both rescuing and being rescued thank you very much”, Smith said in all seriousness. “I think I know what I'm talking about”.
“So they rescued us?”, Storm asked. “No, actually I rescued us”, Smith answered, looking rather smug. Storm believed him off course, but decided to play along with the asking-game anyway. “What?”, she asked in mock disbelief. “You? - How?”. “Wibbly-wobbly!”, was all Smith said in way of answering, his smug smile creeping ever so slowly upwards while he tried to keep a straight face. Storm looked at him with a mock condescending look filled with boredom to try and let him sweat for a moment. Finally Smith sighed in light hearted resignation and gave in to continue the tale. “By telling them to rescue us”, he finally said.
“Oh, so now they rescued us after all?”, Storm asked in a deliberately exaggerated way.
Smith thought about that for a second, then cocked his head with a sheepish smile. “Yes I guess they did”, he said.
“Wait. - But... how?, why? What did you say to them?” General Storm asked with genuine curiosity in her voice. “I talked purple at them”, Smith answered. “What?”, Storm sounded as if Smith had just said the most appallingly stupid thing she had ever heard. As If she couldn't believe her ears.
Smith smiled that sheepish smile again. “I told them that the golden tunisian whale is the largest hamster above the continent of Ultima Segmentum, and that it comes in seven shades of white”, he concluded. “What? - But that is crazy!”, Storm said waving her hands in excitement.
“No”, Smith answered. “Not crazy at all, but rather a purple gamma level code phrase for Ordo Xenos
Inquisitors. - How likely is it that some human would stumble into the subterranean world of Nestir V and randomly sprout those words in fluent Hrud do you think?”. Smith looked truly superior at that, leaning back in his chair, his arms crossed and a huge smile creeping across his face.
“Well if you could have done that all along, then why didn't you do something earlier?”, Storm asked, and Smith suddenly looked serious again. Sad even.
“I did try, a couple of times”, he said. “It didn't work the first times I tried it, but when doom was upon us, it seemed like it wouldn't hurt to try one last time before we were swarmed and devoured whole”.
“Ok!”, Storm said, believing him. “So then, once you had their attention, what did you say next?”. “The sun smells too loud and the antelopes are all screaming at my dinner”, Smith replied, and Storm just blinked at him and looked dumbfounded again. “Never mind!”, she said shaking her head in disbelief. “It is clear I won't get the truth out of you regarding communicating with Hrud, but, what happened to the others?”.
Smith sighed, leaned forward and stared at the floor, looking sad again. “The wise one has fallen”, Smith said, indicating that Captain Amorphous of the Sons of Doom had died. “Justicar Borroleth, Brother-Captain Melxis, Redemptor-Chaplain Sigrdrifa. Even Fir Dinillainn. They all fell to the enemy, as you may well remember”, Smith said, holding a sparkling blue gem up to the light for a moment, before pocketing it again.
“What of Captain Cyprian and the others?”, Storm pressed.
“Well”, Smith said. “While we lost the battle for the Fort of the Snow Leopard and Adramalech's forces triumphantly claimed it for themselves, Unknown to them, we, Legio Captain Cyprian, two of Sigrdrifa's Adepta Sororitas, a young Son of Doom by the name of Praetex Tatus, as well as Apothecary Jolsiam, five Imperial Guardsmen, and three Eldar Guardians were the only ones to be brought out alive from among the entire Imperial strike force”. Smith shook his head in resignation while staring at the floor and remembering the chaos and death of that battle. “After secretly having been captured, or rescued by the Hrud. - However you wish to see it, we were taken to one of the many secret hideouts of the Hrud elder counsel.
In the mean time, a massive aerial battle was fought above and around Hive Secundus. I've later learned that my old friend, Wing Commander Jacqueline P. Harkness, lead the Imperial air defence wing and that they were successful in driving the Chaos aerial forces away from the city. - Even despite that the Chaos forces now held sway over the orbital space of Nestir V”. Storm nodded thoughtfully, recognizing the major feat that the well known Wing Commander had accomplished in doing that. “After that day's events”, Smith continued. “The riots in Hive Secundus finally died down. The population was scared, naturally, but not in a state of extreme panic. As true Imperial citizens, they stood united, and the city remained both intact and strong while its defenders worked hard to secure the city even further. - In the mean time, Wing Commander Max Volo fought his way through enemy fighter squadrons in orbit, to aid and be aided by Hive Primus”.
“Ok”, Storm interrupted. “This is all well and good, but what about our story? What about the others you said were captured by the Hrud?”. “Well”, Smith answered. “The Guardsmen have suffered psychic shock, but have recovered over time. Largely due to my own aid I might add. Unfortunately some of them suffered expedited ageing due to the Hrud presence. - It has something to do with the Hrud physiology, though I'm not certain how it works”, Smith said, looking thoughtful. - “Must remember to investigate that one further”, he mumbled to himself. “Anyway, Cyprian, Jolsiam and myself are the only ones truly back on our feet yet. Praetex would be too, but it seems he will be in need of some heavy bionics work. - As for Cyprian, well, he is currently at a briefing room getting ready for another mission. The rest of the survivors are still here in the infirmary resting up. Some of them in artificially induced comas that will let their wounds heal faster”.
“good to know!”, Storm said, feeling a bit overwhelmed and dizzy again. She decided to rearrange her pillows and to lay back down in bed to stare up at the ceiling. “What else has happened?”.
“Well, after we had been brought to their secret lair, we were caged and treated as captives”, Smith continued. “You were in a coma, others were unconscious. Some were panicking, and there were wounds to attend to. Cyprian, robbed of both his weapons and armour was fuming, but though treated poorly, we had been whisked away in secret and for the time being we were safe. It took me a while to get the situation under control, but some of the Hrud were honourable and remembered why we were there. - I had invoked an ancient agreement between them, the Hrud of Nestir V, and Ordo Xenos
. - You see: Ages ago my Ordo had a chance to decimate the Hrud population of Nestir V, but we decided to use them instead. Knowing we could never fully eradicate them, we decided to lord it over them with threats. The Ordo hunted them down, but eventually went into an agreement to spare their lives for an opportunity to call in favours in the future. - That is what my so called mad gibbering was all about. We were to be taken before the elder counsel to see if we truly were who we claimed to be. - Luckily the Hrud have a long memory based on story telling, and they are largely honourable in their agreements.
Unknown to most, they have a large empire beneath the snowy crust of Nestir V. Even so, they pose little threat to the Imperials of the planet, for the Hrud see us as restoring their ancient empire, by draining the Promethium sea from Nestir V, and thus reopening ancient caves, tunnels, caverns and grottos that the Hrud used to occupy as homes. - Basically there are entire cities down there, hidden within thick promethium sludge”. Smith paused again, taking a short break to get a drink of water before continuing.
“Anyhow”, he finally said. “While we waited to see the elders, Adramalech's subjects started collecting equipment and Geneseed from off the dead at the Fort of the Snow Leopard. - I learned about this through a few Hrud spies, and when Adramalech had his supposedly loyal army of Hrud work on this task for him, some of my allies were able to steal away a good portion of the Astartes Gene-Seed that the enemy was extracting. This was hurriedly brought to me in my cell, and I was able to use my Jokaero coat to store it responsibly”.
“Wait!”, Storm said, stopping Smith. “You have an alien made Jokaero coat?”. “Yes!”, Smith answered matter-of-factly. “That you can use for cold storage?”, Storm continued. “Yes”, Smith answered again while nodding. “Isn't that against your Ordo's teachings?”, Storm asked, and Smith looked bothered. “Well”, he said. “Some may claim that it is, while others would say that it is entirely ok. - Do you really think I would let you keep your little Eldar sword, or even work alongside you; or that I would use Jokaero digital weapons, or negotiate an alliance with the Lugganath if I was opposed to such things?”, Smith asked with a sly smile.
“No I guess not”, Storm had to agree, feeling curious to know more. “What else can that coat of your do then?”, she asked, and Smith smiled, looking secretive. “Well”, he said, drawing the word out. “It gives environmental protection, the pockets are, shall we say larger than they appear. It repairs itself, can become a tent, is proof against many types of projectiles, is fireproof, and well, it does a few other things too. - Lets just leave it at that shall we”, he concluded, and Storm nodded in agreement, not wishing to press the issue too far.
“Ok, so you got some of the Hrud working for you”, Storm said in way of summary to get the story going again. “Then what?”.
Smith looked thoughtful for a moment. “Well”, he continued. I just learned this myself while talking to Apothecary Sergio, but the remainder of our troops trapped at the Hive Tertius Ruins learned that we had failed and that the Imperial Fleet was withdrawing from the Nestir V system, so they had to work fast to relocate to the mountain fort we learned about earlier, from Adramalechs captured army element on the Occassus plains. They have largely stayed holed up there until now. - Only a small number of them remained at the dig-site camp at the Hive Tertius Ruins. - But more about that later”. Storm nodded again, but found the story hard to follow. She was still tired, her mind still dulled by drugs, but she indicated for Smith to continue his story anyway, and so he did.
“After a night's uncomfortable sleep in our cages, we were finally brought before the Hrud Elder Counsel. We were brought there for judgement due to the code I shouted during the battle for the Snow Leopard's Fort. Due to my training as an Inquisitor of Ordo Xenos
, I was the only one among us who understood what was happening, and the only one tentatively capable of conversing with the strange xenos
species. Though I had tried to explain some of what was happening, naturally the others in our small group remained nervous and on their guard. Brother Cyprian, disarmed and un-armoured stood shamed and furious before the gathering, ready to unleash his fury on the xenos
at a moment's notice, but he restrained himself because of my presence, and largely also, I suspect, because he remained securely locked in thick chains. The other Astartes were in such bad shape that there was little they could do, and what little strength Apothecary Jolsiam had left in him, he used to care for Brother Praetex and the others, fully trusting in my expertise to handle the situation.
For over an hour I recited an ancient oath that binds the Hrud of Nestir V to Ordo Xenos
; a story in which the Ordo spared the Hrud of the planet from extinction, but in which the Hrud in turn would be honour-bound to serve the Ordo when we came to call in on the debt. Naturally, what I said caused quite a bit of turmoil within the Hrud gathering, as I went on to tell them of Adramalech, of the Chaos Forces, the Imperials on Nestir V, and of their current predicament. In turn I learned of how Adramalech had presented himself as a God to the Hrud, as a friend, a hero and a saviour. I learned that there are nearly 370 000 Troglydium Hrudii, spread out over six subterranean cities within Nestir V's underworld, and that out of this number, at least 130 000 Hrud Warriors serve at Adramalech's beck and call”.
Storm looked shocked that such a number of aliens could live in Nestir V, unknown to the Imperial forces there, and that such a number of them could have sided with their demon lord enemy. Smith however didn't seem to notice and simply carried on with his story about what General Storm had missed while in a coma.
As Smith continud his story, Storm learned of how he had exposed Adramalech for a traitor and a demon. Some of the Hrud had been ready to believe him, while others had called him a liar. Some wanted to honour their age old agreement and aid the representative of Ordo Xenos
, while others had argued for honouring their agreement with their new god, Adramalech. The debate over what to do had become so heated that it eventually turned into a fight, then into a terrible battle, and before the end of it, a Hrud civil war had erupted.
The Imperial survivors had quickly been escorted away to safety by the veteran guard of the elder counsel, and hidden away from their enemies. Their equipment and weapons had been returned to them, and it had become clear that some of the Hrud were indeed willing to aid the Imperials in their war against Adramalech and the Chaos Forces.
Smith paused in the retelling of what had happened, to get a glass of water again, and to let Storm have some time to mull over his words. Then after a few minutes pause, he returned and sat back down, once more ready to continue the story.
“From our Hrud allies”, he continued. “I learned that with a guide, we would use at least seventy-two days to reach the surface of Nestir V. Being injured, outnumbered and undersupplied, with a comatose general in the party, we realized that it would be a nearly impossible journey, and opted simply to relocate and wait for the Imperial Fleet to return. Guided by our allies we were then taken to a hiding place outside one of the subterranean cities of the Hrud.
From what I have learned later, it was the day after this turmoil that the Imperial Fleet finally finished their Catastrophic Damage Control in deep space. Two days of emergency repairs finally left the fleet able to assess the rest of their damage, and to begin proper repairs while planning the return to Nestir V. In the mean time, the enemy sent a bomb raid against Hive Secundus, but the airwing there was again able to fend the enemy off. Following this attack, an emergency government was put into place within Hive Secundus. This government was however only meant to last until they regained contact with the new Imperial Governor at Hive Primus. - Further, it was nobly decided that the population of Hive Secundus, in spite of suffering attacks themselves, would prepare to aid the Imperial Fleet, should the time come that such aid would be possible”.
Storm seemed more keenly interested in the story by this point. She was interested in what had happened, but her medication still had it's effects, and she still found the story a bit hard to follow. This all meant that she wasn't too keen on having the story diverting away from their own ordeals too much. Hearing about what had happened to the Imperial army as an overall status report was necessary, but for the moment she was more interested in what had happened to her and those closest to her in the underworld of Nestir V. Signalling for Inquisitor Smith to halt the story, she struggled to sit up properly in bed again and looked at Smith with a sigh. “Please”, she said. “I can always read the reports of what happened at the fleet and at the hive cities later, but for now I'm more interested in what happened to us and the survivors of the speartip that we sent to the Snow leopard's Fort”.
Smith nodded in understanding. “I will try and keep the diversions to a minimum”, he smiled. “Some of them are necessary to understand what happened to us, and I do tend to get carried away, but please bear with me”.
“Oh, have a heart!”, Storm said jokingly. “I do! I even have two!”, Smith replied with a sly look, and Storm stared at him to see if he was joking or not. She was just about to say something when the strange Inquisitor held up a finger to silence her. “Before you scream alien, just note that all Astartes have them too”, he said.
“I do. I even have two!”, Storm answered with laughter in her voice. “That rhymes”. Smith looked thoughtful for a moment. “Hm… and so it does”, he said.
Storm thought about pressing him for more information regarding wether or not his claim at having two heart was true or not, but she immediately figured it was not beyond an Inquisitor's power to have a back-up heart installed. - They were individuals of extreme measures for extreme situations after all, and Inquisitor Smith was just eccentric enough that he might have gone through with something like that. She decided to drop the issue and asked Smith to continue the story instead.
Smith nodded with a smile, leaned back in his chair and continued the tale.
“While the fleet was carrying out repairs, the civil war between the Hrud had spread and battles were breaking out throughout the Hrud's subterranean nation”, he continued. “For more than a week we travelled from hiding place to hiding place while the civil war among the Hrud grew. Later I've learned that during this time, Hell Blades and Hell Talons followed Orbital Bombardments against Nestir V's hive cities, but while the cities were shaken, they were not broken. The rest of our spear-tip from Tertius were holed up in the hidden fort of the Occassus mountains”.
Storm demonstratively cleared her voice to indicate that he was going off the main story-line again, and Smith paused himself. “Sorry!”, he said with a sheepish smile. “Its just. Well, you know I'm strongly dedicated to being excited!”, he said. “Right now I'm excited that I can even tell you this story.
“Ok”, Storm nodded. “Just carry on”.
Smith nodded again and looked thoughtful. “Ok, I guess I should skip a bit. Hm... Now where was I? - Ah yes!”. Smith peered down his nose at Storm again, who had gotten fully up to a sitting position in her bed again, her medication obviously wearing off.
“Finally, ten days after our loss at the Fort of the Snow Leopard”, Smith continued. “Captain Cyprian and I were guided back to the Cavern of the Snow Leopard by a pair of Hrud warriors. We snuck back to the outskirts of the cavern, and there, from our hiding place in the ceiling of the gigantic cave, we witnessed and recorded the spectacle of the Chaos forces as they found themselves under attack by the Snow Leopard Machine Spirit's own robotic army”. He noted Storm raise an eyebrow at that.
“We didn't see much, as most of the battle happened inside the fort itself”, he continued. “But I've later learned that the Snow Leopard also took control of Nestir V's orbital defences at that time and seriously damaged the Chaos Fleet in orbit. Following this reconnaissance mission, we returned to our safe-house to mill over what to do next.
The next day we were notified by Hrud Scouts loyal to the Elder Counsel that the Chaos Forces had moved on, and so we all relocated again, returning to the Fort of the Snow Leopard to see what we could learn there. Upon our arrival we found the entirety of the Snow Leopard's once so mighty fort destroyed by explosives and fire. We searched the ruins for hours, looking for tidbits of the mighty machine spirit that might be salvaged and used, but there was next to nothing left”. Smith looked sad and pulled out a small necklace he had made out of old, burned out machine components. It was obviously a sort of reminder to him of how they had failed. He thoughtfully looked at it for a while, then finally put it away again.
He looked at Storm whom seemed much better, more awake, and hungry to know what she had missed while comatose. “Well”, she eventually asked. “What happened next?”.
“Hm...”, Smith said with a sigh. “With the aid of the few surviving Lugganeth Eldar in our party, we were able to reopen the BelahRill Webway Portal and return to Hive Tertius again. The Imperial base there was largely abandoned and naturally we presumed the worst. Luckily though, we found that there was a skeleton crew there still, and based on their accounts we learned about what had become of the rest of the Speartip. We were also certain that the Imperial Fleet would return for us, so we set up in the largely abandoned Imperial base at the Hive Tertius Ruins and waited.
During this time of waiting, we upheld radio silence as not to give away our position. You were still comatose off course”, Smith said looking straight at Storm. “You had gone through an extra rough time in the underworld, with little medical care or nutrition, all the while being hauled around from safe-house to safe-house by Captain Cyprian and Apothecary Jolsiam; but once we were back at the camp site at Tertius, we were finally able to give you and everyone else proper medical care within the Mobile Army Hospital at the Hive Tertius base.
While we decided to stay among the Tertius Ruins, the surviving Lugganeth Eldar decided to use the reopened BelahRill Webway Portal again, and to withdraw to Craftworld Lugganeth. The others in our party wanted to slay them on the spot, put I convinced them that it would only harm our alliance with the Eldar and probably cause us to give up our position. So, we let them go and waited while trying to make the best of the situation. - Naturally there was a lot of worrying, and even more card playing going on during this time”, Smith smiled.
“Anyhow. Three days after leaving us at Hive Tertius, the surviving Eldar finally reached Craftworld Lugganeth again. Shortly after this, our Lugganeth Eldar allies contacted the Imperial Fleet and thanks to their report, the Imperial Fleet learned the truth about the fate of the Imperial forces sent to the Snow Leopard's Fort. They learned that we were camped out at the Hive Tertius Ruins, and that there were still a large number of warriors at Fort Occassus. They also learned that the Chaos Fleet had been damaged by Nestir V's own orbital defence systems and that the Hive Cities were holding their own.
With this knowledge in hand, the Imperials of the fleet redoubled their efforts to return to Nestir V, and within four days the Imperial Fleet did just that, in a spectacularly risky military grade Warp jump. That was earlier today. While the rest of the fleet engaged the enemy in combat, the Guardian Angels sent Thunderhawks to transport us back onboard the Bloodied Scion for a debrief, but on our way there the Scion came under attack and we were rerouted to the Gladius class frigate Lux-Pollus, in the outskirts of the major fleet-battle that is going on all around us even now”. Storm nodded in understanding, looking fully awake again now that she understood their situation.
“The ship we are on is one of the Guardian Angels' support craft”, Smith continued. “It is part of a larger battle group, and currently we are in the infirmary onboard. With access to fully equipped and staffed medical facilities, the medical personnel were able to give you better treatment, and about an hour ago they gave you the medication needed to reawaken you from your coma. - You probably still feel weak, but that will pass”.
Storm nodded and sounded a bit hoarse upon replying. “Well, ok, so now I know what happened, but what can we do?”, she asked just as an orderly came into the room with a tray of soup, pie and some bread.
Smith smiled at the orderly and thanked him for the food. “We are already doing something”, he replied to Storm. “We have launched a counter attack against our enemies, both in space and planet-side. Naturally, our fierce warriors will file our enemies away in a cabinet à la turque. - I hear that practice is all the rage these days. - All you need to do is regain your strength”.
Storm looked at him with something approaching anger at that, but Smith didn't seem overly bothered by the harsh look she sent him. Instead he simply reached for a piece of buttered pie, while the orderly offered Storm a bowl of soup. “Nonsense!”, she said, simply waving the orderly away. “I wouldn't miss this for the world. Give me some stimms. I want to go to the bridge, an observation deck, the ready room, the hangar bay; anywhere but here. I cant stand doing nothing while my allies and soldiers are dying around me. - In the very least I can try to inspire our soldiers, or offer advice to the Imperial Admiral”.
Smith grinned. That's the spirit! He said, imitating a squat dialect, holding his piece of pie up for inspection. “We will serve our enemies a deadly slice of bullet riddled Imperial pie. But first, you will eat your soup”, Smith ordered, and the orderly was more than happy to agree.
+ + + + +