And now for the last battle of Nestir V's Round 4.
The Consultant of Mayhem
Written by Chaptermaster Graymantle
Captain Xavier Crussis of the Legio, seconded from the Imperial Fists (Aarhus)
Chaos Captain Apoc Everkill of the Underhand Chaos Space Marines (Yogi)
Around half an hour after detecting the explosion of the Stormwolf near the moon of Alba, the Falcon of Achilleus had taken up the mantle of the Imperial Fleet's flagship in full. No one knew if Admiral Kiel or anyone else had survived the decimation of the Stormwolf, and Inquisitor Rugajov cursed himself for allowing Lord Greymane to hunt after the seemingly vulnerable “Malevolent Spirit”. The ship hadn't been as vulnerable as she had seemed, and now the Crusade's Admiral was lost to them. That meant that Rugajov had been thrust into an Admiral's position, while Inquisitor Smith was on his way to aid the troop landings over Nestir V. Rugajov had been forced to abandon his own ship and task to try and quickly draw up a new plan of action as the battlefield shifted about them. Luckily though, he had good ships Captains and especially Captain Stride of the Legio to lean on.
After decimating the Stormwolf, the Malevolent Spirit was now bearing down upon their position, and so was another ship they had identified as the Chaos Devastation Class Cruiser “Consultant of Mayhem”. To top this off the Falcon of Achilleus and the Legio had been locked in combat against the Steel Dragons' Slaughter Class Cruiser Grantos, and the World Eaters Infidel Class Raider Predator of Blood. They had the Guardian Angels' 8th support battle group to aid them, but even so the Falcon was taking a beating, and the Guardian Angels had lost the Cobra class escort Lux Fornax, which was floating slowly towards Nestir V. If her crew was unable to get her engines back online in time, she would be lost for good.
On the other hand, the boarding parties of the Guardian Angels, attacking the Steel Dragons' Gladius Class Firgate Flamestorm, had gone remarkably well. Lead by Captain Drako, the boarding party had been supported by the Dreadnoughts Bannister and Rehab, which had made short work of the landing bay defences of the ship. The Guardian Angels had lost three Marines and five Scouts during the boarding action, but they had managed to take the ship intact, and Techmarine Dominicus had been successful in taking command of the ship's systems. - As such, it now served the Imperial Crusade.
As for the Sons of Doom, they were still supporting the Imperial Guard as they began to land troops at Primus and Tertius. The Doom's Herald had taken quite a bit of damage from a series of far off Lance strikes originating from the Consultant of Mayhem, while the Gladius class frigate, Shield of Dorn had been knocked out when a strike from the same attack had hit her primary power generators.
On the plus side though, Legio Captain Xavier Crussis, his Imperial Fists and his Legio Marines, were hidden in the path between the Imperial cluster of ships and the incoming Chaos ships. They had covertly moved in with a huge fleet of Starhawks and Fury interceptors, Thunderhawks and Caestus Assault Rams, to get to the Consultant of Mayhem before she could cause any more damage. Xavier's battle force was supposed to be supported by the Falcon of Achilleus and the Guardian Angels' support fleet, but they were struggling more than anticipated with the Grantos, and the Predator of Blood, so instead Xavier had decided to set his small fleet of flyers at the sunward in dead space before the approaching Chaos vessels. That way he hoped to take them by surprise in a massive boarding action. He also hoped that he could get some support from the rest of the fleet eventually, but for now they were on their own.
Luckily though, the Nestir V system had frequent sun flairs, and one was just passing over them at that very moment, so as long as they could stay with the sun at their back, the incoming Consultant of Mayhem wouldn't see them before the boarding action was a fact. Within the blue-lit chamber of a Caestus Assault Ram, Xavier Crussis crossed his fingers and prayed to the Emperor that the enemy would be blinded to their presence for long enough that they wouldn't end up as floating heaps of scrap in the dead of space.
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Everkill's ship, the Consultant of Mayhem had been holding back, but with the coming sun-flairs, Everkill had seen his opportunity to strike at the Imperials again. With Long range lance strikes he had already caused a bit of damage, and with the Imperials preoccupied with other concerns, he was certain he could strike a decisive blow against the enemy.
Originally he had considered to simply take the riches he had gathered from the venture of Adramalech's Dark Crusade at Nestir V, and run away. For some reason he wasn't doing that though. Maybe it was because he had seen victory at every turn so far, and because he knew his own character. He was not one to take unnecessary risks. No, he was very careful to choose his battles, and to choose when and where to strike. In truth it had been to see the Stormwolf being decimated by the Malevolent Spirit that had changed his mind. That and the promise of even more riches.
He and his crew were heading in to support the Grantos and the Predator of Blood in their struggle against the enemy. Three large Chaos ships against one Imperial ship and a few escorts. No challenge there, Everkill thought and reminded himself loudly that the Malevolent Spirit was also incoming. Four against one, he smiled, and suddenly noted that he had been thinking aloud the whole time. A few of his bridge crew were looking at him curiously and Everkill stared back at them seeming confounded that they were even there. “I'm sorry!”, he said, addressing the whole lot of them. “Do the voices in my head bother you too?”. The crew looked at each other, then back at him again as he started picking something out of his teeth. “Uhm, no my Lord”, one of the crewmen mustered. “But we are waiting for an answer”.
“An answer?”, Everkill asked, looking at the man as if though he was the most stupid thing alive. “Well, if you're waiting for an answer, then it is forty-two”, Everkill said with confidence, having absolutely no idea what he had just given an answer to.
“Aye sir! - Forty-two it is!”, one of the bridge officers said, and punched in the digits on a console Everkill had no idea what did, though he was certain he had known at some time.
Immediately the augers of his ship adjusted and compensated for the interference caused by the sun-flairs of Nestir V's sun. Images on a dozen auger consoles cleared up within seconds, as did the ship's main screen which had been showing nothing but static for quite some time. “Very much better!”, Everkill proclaimed, his speech sounding quite slurred as usual. He took another swig from a bottle of something nasty at his side and felt the stuff burn his throat on the way down. That is when he noticed a whole fleet of small boarding craft just ahead of the ship. The enemy strike wing was coming in fast, and an alarm suddenly went off, warning the crew onboard to prepare to repel borders.
“Not good, not good!”, Everkill blurted out as he got up off his command throne and started looking for his warriors. They weren't there, so Everkill decided he would just have to gather them up on his way towards the area onboard that he thought the enemy boarding crafts would hit. According to his quick and experienced calculations, that would be near the bridge, in the middle of the ship's main tower.
+ + + + +
Xavier and his Marines braced for impact as they prepared to board the Consultant of Mayhem. The Caestus Assault Rams would smash their way into a weak spot that they had detected in the ship's main tower, while the Thunderhawks would attack the primary landing bay of the ship to try to take it. While this was happening, the Starhawks would be fighting off enemy fighters while attempting to create even more weak spots on the enemy ship by carrying out bomb runs agains select areas along her keel. Hopefully more Imperial ships would follow them in to support them in their endeavour.
Locked into his Misericorde grav-harness, Xavier noted that the blue combat light overhead turned red, indicating that they were about to hit home. A split second later, Xavier felt the Caestus' afterburners kick in, speeding them up even further. Then the overhead light dimmed as power was redirected to the ram's field generators, and the small craft shook as it's Magna-Melta opened fire. Seconds later the whole world seemed to turn up-side-down as the Assault Ram shook as violently as if it was caught in an earth-quake. A massive screeching sound penetrated the thick hull, followed by a hissing sound and several loud explosions from the outside. The ram had struck through and into it's target, firing off every last missile from it's Firefury missile battery, and then the grav-clamps holding them all in place unlocked. Xavier and his men prepared to rush into enemy territory, just as they knew many others would be doing throughout the enemy ship as well.
More explosions followed, as the Caestus fired off her Frag Assault Launchers, then the front ramps fell down with a loud metallic clang. Xavier rushed into the chamber beyond and found it devastated. He quickly consulted his Auspex-readout and found where he and the rest of his boarding parties were located. While his men set up a perimeter and killed off those few enemies still unfortunate enough to still be alive. Xavier established that they had successfully penetrated the enemy ship's main tower without any losses. They were a mere two decks below the main bridge, and his Thunderhawks were already busy landing more troops in the main hangar deck.
With a perimeter set up, Xaviers force moved forward and smashed their way through yet another enemy group. A few minutes later, while they were fighting their way up a stairwell, ammo-crates and other supplies were being moved from the Assault rams to the front lines, and Xavier also noted that his Thunderhawk parties had taken and were holding one of the ship's landing bays. That meant reinforcements and even more potential for resupplying the front, while giving them an extra fall-back point if needed. Xavier was pleased with that, as it greatly increased their chance of success.
Reaching the next deck up, Xavier and his men moved into a large hall filled with human serfs that had barricaded themselves in many places throughout the hall. Furthermore they were blocking the path of Xavier's boarding party, which would have to fight their way through the hall if they were to have any hope at all of reaching the ship's bridge.
Xavier sighed loudly, then whirred his Chainsword to life, and with his Bolter firing away, he set to work on the difficult task of cleansing the hall of enemies and washing it with their life's blood.
“For the glory of Dorn and the Emperor!”, Xavier yelled as he charged into the fray, and all around him, his Legio Marines answered with a cry of “Purge the Unclean!”.
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At that very moment, Apoc Everkill was rushing down a stairwell with his warriors in tow. He was running towards where the enemy Caestus assault rams would have hit, near the bridge, lower in the main tower of the ship. He reached the end of the stairs and kicked open a set of large gates, striding confidentially, if tired into the great hall beyond. The run had left him winded and he was panting hard as he stopped to take in the scene of carnage going on before him. - He didn't usually get this tired or foggy from a mere hard run, he thought. - It had to be that old batch of Slethorian Poison Wine. - Maybe it had gone bad.
No matter, the scene before him was clear enough. He could see hundreds of human soldiers fighting against an indeterminate number of Astartes warriors, and as he stood there taking in the scene, his own Astartes warriors were rushing into the fray from behind him. - Yes, Everkill thought, it was clear that he was on the side of the Astartes in this battle.
Panting to catch his breath, he couldn't quite remember why he was there. His helmet chronometer had stopped working just prior to the battle, and he felt like he was late for a meeting or something. Whatever, he thought, realizing he could simply stop one of the nearby marines and ask. That marine happened to be Xavier Crussis, who was dancing by in a rush of Bolter fire and slashes of his Chainsword. At precisely the right moment, Everkill stepped in and tripped him up, dragging the Marine around to face him with a tug at his shoulder pad, Everkill had to duck an instinctive slash of a sword, but that was to be expected. - He had broken into the marine's battle routine after all.
"Salutations Brother!”, Everkill stated cheerily now that he had the other Marine's attention, while a set of grenades went off in the background, to the horrid screams of dying soldiers. “You wouldn't by any chance happen to have the time?", Everkill asked the surprised Marine in front of him, who instinctively took a step back. “I believe I am late for an appointment you see”, Everkill continued in the most civil manner he could, but the other Marine wasn't being civil about the issue at all. “For the Emperor!”, the other Marine screamed and slashed at his head with a chop of his buzzing Chainsword, which Everkill quite unexpectedly had to duck. "Unbelievable!", he exclaimed with utter disgust. He just couldn't believe how uncivilized the other marine was being. He would just have to teach the out of control wretch some manners.
Another set of explosions rocked the hall as yet more grenades went off, and Bolter fire chattered across the room. Everkill didn't like the hostile environment at all, so he began backing off towards the gate he had come through again, blocking another swipe of the uncivilized Marine's Chainsword as the two ended up back in the stairwell beyond the main chamber. As he began backing up the tower steps, Everkill had to block another set of strikes. He didn't want this fight, and he clearly told Xavier so as loudly as he could. “What in the Emperor's name are you doing?”, he asked. “Can't you see that we are brothers in arms? That didn't seem to bother the crazed Imperial Fist though, who simply kept coming and attacking Everkill as he kept backing away up the stairs.
"Are you deaf man?", Everkill asked again, jumping over a low strike at his legs. "When a superior asks you a question, you are honour bound to answer”, Everkill chided. "Your Chapter Master really should have taught you better".
“You are not my superior”, Xavier said as he pressed his attack. “You are my enemy!”.
Everkill thought on that for a moment, while blocking yet even more attacks as they reached a new level of stairs. “What?”, he asked. “Enemy? - Marines shouldn't be fighting Marines. - The very notion is inconceivable!”. At that Xavier actually stopped his attacks and stood staring at the Marine above him on the stairs. Maybe he had somehow mistaken this Marine for a traitor. But the other Marine didn't look anything like any loyal Marine he had ever seen.
“What do you mean inconceivable?”, Xavier asked. “The trend of Marine fighting Marine began more than ten thousand years ago, when Horus decided to go against the Emperor of mankind”.
“Ah, yes that!”, Everkill said shortly, suddenly remembering the events of his life and what was truly going on. “You know, you have absolutely no sort of manners at all for reminding me”, he said to the other Marine, sadness clearly breaking through in his voice. Xavier blinked inside his helmet. He really didn't know what to say or believe. Was this fallen Marine ready to repent? But then Everkill's demeanour suddenly changed. “And for your lack of manners towards a superior”, he said, kicking Xavier in the face. “You must be punished!”.
As Xavier fell away down the stairs, Everkill turned and ran up the stairs to set up a better position for himself, and moments later he was perched on a higher plateau, Bolter at the ready. Xavier on the other hand, clattered down the stairs and went crashing into the wall at its end with a loud, echoing clang. He groaned, but quickly got his bearings again and fired off a couple of suppressive Bolter rounds while dragging himself back to his feet.
From above him he could hear Everkill laugh. “Good try Imperial!”, he screamed down the stairwell. “Unfortunately for you, you missed”. Xavier growled and hung his Bolter to one side while fishing out a grenade. Above him Everkill continued his rant. “You know what?”, Everkill yelled. “You should read my shoulder pad and weep. - “This Planet is MINE!”, is what it says, and that is the truth!”. Xavier primed his grenade and heard a low muttering from above, clearly not meant for his ears. “Oh, I'm not on a planet any more am I? - Bugger!”, Everkill mumbled to himself just as a grenade came clanging off a wall to land straight in front of him. “Double bugger!”, Everkill exclaimed as he back-pedalled, struggling to distance himself from the grenade as quickly as he possibly could. The grenade detonated too soon however, sending Everkill reeling backwards into and through a wall in the stairwell. Everkill landed heavily in the room beyond. His armour's chest plate and helmet were cracked, and he groaned in pain and misery on the floor of what turned out to be his personal storage-room for assorted intoxicating substances.
The room was where Everkill kept his collection of rare and valuable wine, booze and drugs, and he really didn't want to bring the fight into his age old collection room, so he stumbled to his feet, leaning heavily on a shelf at his side and looked around for some way out. His helmet was smashed, so he quickly discarded it, and his head was swimming when he finally pulled the damned thing off. The ringing in his ears was threatening to create a torturous headache in the near future, and Everkill felt nauseous. “Oh, I need a drink!”, he groaned and took a step towards a rack of bottles. He felt like rum, but as usual, and to his great dismay, he couldn't find any.
At that very moment he heard a commotion from the stairway outside again and swung around just in time to see Xavier climbing through the hole in the wall.
Xavier in turn suddenly found himself in a dark and dusty room filled with racks of bottles and other artefacts. To his front stood the traitor Marine he was hunting, but as Xavier quickly lifted his Bolter to fire off a round, the other Marine strangely just lifted his hands and flinched, yelling “Don't shoot! - For the love of the Emperor don't shoot!”.
Xavier hesitated. Maybe the room was dangerously explosive, held bio-weapons or something like that, and the other Marine was standing with arms raised and hands open in a defensive posture. He looked unarmed and not all that dangerous to Xavier's mind. He lowered his Bolter a nudge again, and Everkill visibly relaxed.
“Thank you! - Finally some civility!”, Everkill sighed. “It's just. This is a very old and very precious collection you see”, he said to Xavier who cooked his head curiously. “If we are to fight, then at least let's take it outside”, Everkill suggested. “Oh, and also, may I offer you a drink? - I sure know I need one”, Everkill smiled. I would offer you some old Terran rum, but it seems the rum is always gone”, he continued his ramble, and Xavier was growing tired of the banter. He decided to have a go at the Chaos Marine again and prepared to raise his Bolter. “Why is the rum always gone?”, Everkill asked with a shrug, just as he spotted a rack of the stuff to Xavier's left. “Oh, there it is!”, he exclaimed, and Xavier glanced to the left for just a split second. He then, almost on instinct smashed his Bolter against the rack, tearing the old wood apart, and all the remaining rum bottles went crashing to the floor.
Everkill who had been in a good mood just a moment ago, to finally have rediscovered his age old stash of Terran rum, stopped mid-step with a sour look on his face. He was not amused as Xavier turned his attention back on him again, and dryly said “That's why!”. “Yes”, Everkill agreed. “That's always why the rum is gone. You Imperials just have to destroy everything that is good in this galaxy don't you?”.
“No”, Xavier replied. “We only destroy that which has been tainted with evil”. With that he opened fire again, and Everkill just barely managed to jump out of the way between two racks of ancient bottles. He disappeared from Xavier's sight, but appeared a moment later again with weapons in hand this time, and Xavier narrowly managed to dodge a surprise attack from a Power Fist that he could have sworn wasn't there just a few seconds earlier.
“Ha, ha! - I float like a fury and sting like a demon”, Everkill roared as he stepped in for another attack. “Xavier stepped away and blocked high with his Chainsword as another attack lunged for his head. He held the sword up while supporting it at the back with his free hand, struggling to keep Everkill's Powerfist at bay. “Actually”, Xavier said, his voice strained. “I think you float much in the same way that a goldbrick doesn't.
- You do sting like a Demon though, but only to the nose”. Xavier let one side of his Chainsword dip, and Everkill's fist slid off it, bending him over as the sword scored a hit on one of Everkill's bionics. The hit didn't seem to bother him though. The fact that they were still fighting in his collection room and that another shelf of irreplaceable goods had just been smashed bothered Everkill infinitely more.
Xavier danced away from another lumbering strike of Everkill's Power Fist, and continued his banter. “You have the potent stinging stink of putrid, dung covered offal”, he taunted. “Rather than Sting like a Demon, I think Stink like a Demon is more appropriate and to the point”. Everkill growled, growing angry at the annoying Imperial, as he dodged yet another of his Power Fist attacks.
Then unexpectedly, Xavier lunged at Everkill and ripped into his shoulder with one swipe of his Chainsword. It came back red, and Everkill cried out in pain, instinctively jumping back into a row of wooden racks. One of the old wooden furniture pieces toppled over, bringing another one with it, and then another and another, in a domino effect that left more than half the room's contents in shambles. Wood broke, glass smashed and Everkill groaned with a pain much worse than what the wound in his shoulder caused. “That is the sound of happiness and joy dying”, he said as he cringed from the sound of breaking bottles.
Then in that moment of distraction, Xavier stepped in and stabbed through Everkill's already damaged chest-plate. Xavier's Chainsword bit deeply into Everkill's abdomen, and the searing pain of innards being ripped to shreds forced Everkill to take a few unsteady steps away from his assailant, while his precious collection continued to tumble a smash all around him. He felt as if his whole world was falling apart, and as Xavier retracted his Chainsword, standing before him in silence, Everkill simply looked at the unfeeling face-mask of an Astartes, with a perplexed look on his face. “I feel sullied and unusual”, he finally said, falling to his knees.
From his kneeling position, Everkill looked up at the Imperial and coughed up blood. Xavier knew the fight was over already, but his Chainsword had been damaged, it's chain broken upon retracting it from the obviously demented Chaos Space Marine's body. Xavier put it aside and brought out his Bolter from his back to finish the poor wretch in front of him off with it instead of with the Chainsword.
Everkill however wasn't quite over and done with yet. Quite generously, at least from his own point of view, Everkill offered to spare Xavier's life if only he would tell him the time. Xavier stopped what he was doing in wonderment at how stubborn the traitor really was, but he checked his chronometer for good measure and graciously offered the information to Everkill, who then looked very pleased with himself. “Good, good!”, he said, coughing up even more blood. “That means I'm not late for a meeting after all”.
At that very moment another rack in the back of the room fell apart, and another whole section of fine wine fell over, smashing into yet another rack of precious wines, and Everkill cringed as his personal stores of booze and wine continued to fall apart and be destroyed all around him. Glass smashed loudly as rack after rack continued to fall in a domino effect. “Do I really have to listen to that?”, Everkill asked. “Because I really think I'd rather listen to my own firing squad”.
Xavier nodded, took a single step towards Everkill and placed his Bolter squarely on the traitor marine's exposed chest. “Done!”, he said, and shot Everkill, destroying the remainder of his working organs with a single, exploding bolt-round.
Everkill fell over on his side and managed to croak one last word. “Typical!”, he said and finally passed away. Just for good measure, Xavier stepped in over the fallen traitor and nudged him with his boot. The Marine was dead alright, and blood was pooling out all around him. Even so, Xavier placed an extra bolt round through Everkill's skull, just to be sure.
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Less than four hours later, Xavier's warriors had taken the bridge of Everkill's ship and vented large portions of her to space. The ship's engines were rendered useless by internal explosions in the engine room, and it's generators were overloaded, causing critical failure in the ship's primary life support and control mainframe. Following this, the ship's main fuel cells were jettisoned and destroyed by support craft.
A small army of Imperial crewmen, supported by Xavier's Imperial Fists, began searching the ship from top to bottom, rooting out any surviving enemies and making many discoveries onboard. Some of the ship's crew turned out to be involuntary slave labour, and these surviving crewmen greeted the Imperials with glee and tears of joy. The Imperial search teams in turn quarantined the ship, locking the surviving Imperial slaves away to decide what to do with them later.
Deeper within the ship, the search teams also discovered Everkill's personal cloning facility and burned it and all clones onboard to ashes. In yet another part of the ship they found a large storage hall filled with stolen artefacts, including armour and weapons from Imperial soldiers and Astartes warriors, from Nestir V and beyond. These artefacts were to be gathered, catalogued and returned to their owners if at all possible. Furthermore, the search teams found genetical experiments that were promptly destroyed, and even a storage unit containing gene-seed from the Sons of Doom, from Marines of the Legio, and from the Grey Knights. This vital discovery was recovered from Everkill's ship and brought to safety for further purification-inspection onboard the Battle Barge “Falcon of Achilleus”, from where the gene-seed hopefully, in time, could be returned to its respective Chapters.
Defenceless and dead in the “water”, the Consultant of Mayhem was put under strict guard, and as she floating at anchor within the Nestir V asteroid field, Xavier and his main force could return to the Imperial Fleet proper, utterly victorious.
And so we are left with but one battle for the AoD.
Round 05, Battle 01 - Coming soon.