Author Topic: Defiant Echoes  (Read 31467 times)

Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #105 on: August 15, 2012, 09:31:34 AM »
The taste of dirt and filth on his tongue hit him almost before the pounding in his head.

He pushed himself up before falling back down onto his knees, glancing up warily at the sky that, as far as he could see, remained clear. Not for the first time that day, he felt physically sick, and stood up on trembling legs to stagger towards the nearest wall. Reaching out a hand to steady himself as he toppled forwards, he shuddered violently as he redecorated this patch of street with the paltry contents of his gut.

The throbbing around his left wrist came only later and as he straightened back up, Jacques Volos dimly realised how he had escaped.

"I am surprised," the familiar voice intoned as Volos spat a blob of something unidentifiable into the gutter. "Though I should not be."

Volos managed a faint murmur of agreement before heaving once again, but by this time his stomach had emptied itself and barely anything rose to the surface.

The bombers had hit with barely any warning, but thankfully they had started in the west and worked across, rather than striking in the centre and moving outwards. Nonetheless, the power they unleashed had been terrifying, and Volos was reminded in many ways of how the Imperial clergy described the end of the world. While the end of which world was never abundantly clear, the images certainly matched the events, and Volos had been almost dumbstruck by the devastation as towers burned and the streets ran molten under the bombardment. Needless to say that Coveton was a ruin by now, and yet the coating of soot that marred his clothes and stained his lord's armour were testament to either a lesser event, or a far luckier escape than they had had.

Remiel was dead. That much was certain, although Volos wasn't sure whether the assassin's untimely incineration was a good or bad thing. Of Mordecai there was also no sign, and Volos was convinced that he, too, had perished.

Somehow, the idea that only he and Sonneillon were left was both comforting and disturbing in equal measure.

"Where have you brought us?" Sonneillon inquired, moving far quieter than he had any right to as he edged closer.

"Another city," Volos coughed. "Which one, I don't know."

He looked down at what had once been his left hand -- now a stump that oozed syrupy blood. "The... Sorcery is not an exact science. The Warp must have brought us here for a reason, if our coming here is not an accident."

"This is no accident, Jacques," the Word Bearer reminded him. "Are we safe here?"

Sonneillon paused, correcting himself. "No. Ignore that question. Safety is an illusion."

"This is... probably as safe, and malodorous, as dead-end back alleys come, my lord," remarked Volos, glancing at the half-full skip bins around him and wishing for all the world that they didn't smell as foul as they did.

"And yet there is danger. Not from the bombers -- I do not hear their engines on the wind, or the noise of their weapons as they demolish all before them."

"The Imperium, then?"

"Not from the Imperium, either," Sonneillon rumbled.

"Then from what?" Volos asked, mere moments before the blood dribbling from his wrist onto the ground started running towards the end of the street, slowly at first, then much faster. He had the presence of mind to tie a tourniquet around his wrist using his sleeve, his teeth drafted in to replace his missing hand, but nonetheless, whatever blood there was continued to flow along the alleyway, the red trail bubbling as it turned from dry residue to liquid vitae and resumed its journey.

Volos could smell Warpcraft, but nothing like the petty sorcery he employed. This was far more powerful, and yet at the same time more primal, and feeling more like the by-product of something else, rather than a desired outcome in and of itself.

"The giant standing in a sea of blood," Sonneillon told him. "The birth-cry of a dead man, reaching out from a sundered prison that knew it not."

As if on cue, the stink of charred meat rose up from the nearest storm drain.

"The defiant echo of a vanquished warlord challenging the enemy once again," Sonneillon continued. "This, Jacques. This is why the Warp brought us here."

Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #106 on: August 17, 2012, 04:27:23 PM »
Semplice was preparing for the conversation with the Adeptus Arbites. He would have preferred not speaking to the marshal himself, but the man would see through the ruse if he was capable enough to hold his rank. So he would have to meet this man in person. He went over his life again, he was inquisitor Amphil, born on Krynor. He had been a simple bureaucrat until he had uncovered a dark sect working on modifying important papers. He had reported them but his superiors turned on him. Amphil had fled and managed to make contact with the Adeptus Arbites. An inquisitor named Germain had arrived on the planet and cleansed the offices, Amphil had been recruited into his service. Several years ago he got gravely injured while boarding an unknown vessel near Mler, explosives used by heretics occupying the vessel had cost him most of his body, but in the aftermath he had finally been promoted to the rank of full inquisitor.

It was a bad story, but it would probably work, there was no reason for Ravion to suspect him, and should that happen, he had his servitors, and of course the weapons hidden all over his machine. There still was a slight risk but the Emperor would preserve him, like all the other times he had almost died. He had a higher purpose in His plans and he would keep going until his work was completed.

He spoke with his mechanical voice: "Tech-Priest Majoris Karnak, are all systems fully functional?"

"They are my lord, there are no flaws in the operation and everything is at or near peak efficiency.", the were hints of pride in the tech priest's words, he always sounded slightly elated when everything was functioning.

"Good, you will remain with me while I speak with the marshal, we cannot afford malfunctions in the field."

"As you wish my lord, are there any other preparations that you want me to make?"

"Prepare the servitors, they must be ready to extract us."

There were many things on his mind at this moment. Iota Tettares was a hostage in the hands of whoever his peers on the planet were, and could not be retrieved at this time. Then there was the hostile fleet which would make an evacuation even harder than he had suspected and of course he still had no idea about the things he had come for. He signalled Pantariste: "Pantariste, you are to drive the salamander, be wary, psykers have many subtle powers with which they can influence your mind, steel it with faith."
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #107 on: August 22, 2012, 03:53:28 PM »
   "It's a long journey. I won't need to sleep. If we're all going together, I'll drive the Salamander.", Steren answered Andreas as she stooped to pick up the discarded heavy stubber the heretics had left. Her hands worked the over the weapon with superhuman dexterity, checking each minute detail of its controls and operation.

  "Where, exactly, does a doctor learn how to drive a tank?", Pantariste enquired, testing Steren's alias in a marginally sarcastic tone, "I'll drive, or we'll only go fifty feet before the clutch has had enough of the supercharger."

She pushed ahead, moving confidently for the tank as to try and leave as little room for objection as possible.

  "Regimental doctor. Eight years alongside the Theklian 7th Mechanised before my abilities manifested and were detected.", Steren half lied, "But if you'd prefer."
  "I would as well.", Iota cut in, "Our circumstances don't change the fact you haven't been straight with me."
  "On that matter, Andreas, you join me.", Steren continued, "I hazard that you could use sleep before we're done. And someone who isn't liable to shoot you while you do."
  "Small comforts. In the halftrack?"
  "I doubt it. We've got five in there already, and with me, you and the girl who doesn't seem to want to let either of us out of her sight, that's going to be too many."
  "I take it the voidsmen aren't to move then?"
  "We're not trusted. I'm not going to offer them up as potential hostages if our truce turns sour."
  "Admirable, but still leaves any answer regarding who's driving it unsaid."
  "Adept Penrose, I imagine. I sedated him overnight, so he's probably better rested than any of the rest of you. Poor combat reflexes, but I take it that Tech-Adept...", she gestured to her right, into the back of the truck Nogal was searching for fuel cans.

  "Dovin", the Tech-priestess glanced up, to fill in the silence with her alias.
  "... Dovin and Iona should remain together, given all the medication I can feel running through the girl's system."

This statement drew a spike of interest from Iota's emotions, the girl obviously paying as much attention as possible for clues about the psyker's capabilities. Steren made mental note, deliberately suppressing even the slightest outward reaction as she did - it was plausible that the girl had training in interpreting any manner of subconscious emotional cues. It was best that the Inquisitor beyond the vox knew as little of her telepathic talents as possible, given that there was a shift in the mindset of all those around her that already implied such suspicions had begun.

  "All five of us in the Salamander? It'll be tight."
  "Three in the gun bay might at least be more tolerable than the smell of the servitor in the half-track."

As well as the bionics clustered around his face allowed, Andreas raised an eyebrow, in a manner that tried to convey a complex mix of mild surprise, amusement and intrigue all as one.
   "Servitor?", he asked.
   "A pilot from one of the bombers. Information can perhaps be gleaned from it when circumstances are more permitting."

She leapt up onto the back of the Salamander, stepped over the fallen body of the tank's commander and dropped the heavy stubber and what ammo she had into the corner of the mantlet. She turned back, only to be interrupted by Pantariste's snort of disgust from the other end of the vehicle, the suppressed emotional outburst from the prospect of having to gorily extract the find the dead heretic sat behind the heavy bolter.

The two bodies adorning the back of the tank were lost quickly in comparison to Pantariste's prolonged struggle, but Jael's arrival in the half-track and the Tech-Priestess' attempts to drain the fuel tanks of the three trucks were both time which did not pass briefly or comfortably.
Everyone was constantly wary of a second attack, but the time had its uses and a hasty looting of the back of the trucks was arranged, rewarding them with a small pile of heavy stubber ammo boxes and lasgun power packs. It was as the last of these were being loaded into what nooks could be found around the tank and half-track that the low pitched rumble of more truck engines cut through the general ambient noise and clouds of smoke.

   "Not good.", Pantariste's head appeared out of the tank's hatch.
   "They're coming back? What's worth anything out here?"

Iota's confusion was apparent in her tone, and it was a second before Andreas had an answer.
   "Their tank, I imagine. We need to be gone."
   "No.", Steren objected, stood on the front of the Salamande, "They'd have voxed if they were looking for the tank."
   "Perhaps. But that's somewhat moot, as it seems someone put a bullet in the comms rig.", he pointed out, "Dovin, if you would?"

Andreas addressed the the Tech-Priestess, still siphoning fuel from the trucks, but she shook her head in a display of body language that seemed somewhat out of place on an Adept of the Machine God.
   "We're not done yet. This could be the last meaningful supply of fuel we'll see for hours."

She barely finished the sentence before the first flurry of shots rang out, ricocheting off the ground, brickwork and vehicles alike.

  "Covering fire. Now."
Steren's order was fairly irrelevant, as any weapons that were at hand were already raised and firing at the figures emerging from the smoke as she leapt off the front of the tank. She disregarded the incoming fire, letting bullets flatten and lasbolts sizzle against her hardened flesh as she ran for where Dovin was pinned behind the truck.
  "Dovin! Move!"

Nogal ducked aside just before the psyker arrived and ripped the truck's under-chassis fuel tank free with almost casual ease and pulled it into cover.
  "It would have been more prudent to do that earlier."
  "Perhaps. But I'm not an Ogryn."

Steren swung into a position behind the truck's engine block and wheel arches, glancing around into the smoke. She reached for her weapon...
   "I've left my gun on the Salamander.", she realised, turning back to Nogal. "But I can still cover you."

She snatched up something from the ground next to her.
  "Is this some form of humour?", Nogal said, looking over what was in the psyker's hands.
  "No. I'll take the fuel tank. Now run."

Nogal did just that, breaking into a sprint that every part of her mind told her was foolish. It was only out of the corner of her vision that she saw one of the heretics taking a house brick to the face.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2012, 11:49:27 AM by MarcoSkoll »
S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
Birgen: "Pick a window. I'll demonstrate".

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Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #108 on: August 24, 2012, 05:46:18 PM »
"It's firing!" Hargadon warned, and on instinct Vargas braced for impact, her eyes fixed on the grand cruiser's outline on the holodeck as its weapons spat destruction, but remembered swiftly that the Traitor Marine had placed himself in low orbit over Sathvairg. In its current position, the grand cruiser's weapons would have had only a minimal effect on the Orchomenus, maybe scoring a lucky shot against its void shields.

Vargas watched the holodeck as the sensorium registered the grand cruiser's weapons firing, not at them and not at the escort squadrons behind them, but at Sathvairg. Curiously, it wasn't firing at cities, but smaller towns and villages. The Traitor Marine wasn't interested in just causing casualties, yet the laser broadsides on the ship's flanks were more than capable of reducing an entire settlement to a molten crater in a single volley.

She zoomed in on the planet and watched as labels vanished, each one representing a different village or town, each disappearance indicating the Traitor Marine simply removing it from the face of the world. Again Vargas wondered why he hadn't directing his superior firepower against a city like Coveton or Portiswade, before remembering that he'd used the Secutors for that. No doubt they were returning to their carrier, having expended their ordnance in reducing both cities to charred rubble.

As Vargas watched, the label for Haverkirk dissolved into static and faded from the holodeck. Looking up through the bridge dome at the planet, so far distant that it seemed to be only the size of her head, Vargas fancied that she could see a bright pinprick of orange light where it might have been. She chided herself silently, knowing better, but couldn't help but wonder at the power the vessel carried, wonder what it might take to bring it down and if not save Sathvairg a second genocide, then stop the Traitor Marine.

Eight minutes later, on cue, the icon for Hilcenter also went out, taking thirty thousand souls with it into oblivion.



"Was that Madoc Haines I saw on the shuttle pad last night?" asked Hesh as Filipowski came dashing in.

"It was," Filipowski answered, reaching for the amasec. "He told me he's going off-planet again. Why?"

"Take a look at this," Hesh offered, holding out a data-slate as Filipowski poured double-measures for each of them. Filipowski put down the amasec bottle and took the data-slate from Hesh as the larger Inquisitor took his amasec glass.

"It's scrap code," Filipowski announced as Hesh took a seat.

"That's what Madoc thought at first as well, but it's not that at all," Hesh told the Malleus man. "You know that savant of his, Andreas Tuominen?"

"I still think Madoc's an idiot for not bumping him up to at least Primus, if not Interrogator," Filipowski remarked. "The man's cleverer than Madoc himself is."

"Then you might not be surprised to know that what you've got on that slate in front of you is an encoded message," Hesh explained. "And Emperor help me, that man cracked the cipher on it before I did, and I've seen the message before."

"You've seen it before? At a guess, is it anything to do with Coriolis Alpha?" Filipowski ventured, sipping his amasec.

"It's those bloody words again, Fabian. The same bloody words. I'd know them a mile off."

"You sound surprised. Haven't you been monitoring Coriolis Alpha?"

"I have, which is why I'm even bringing the message up," Hesh sighed, and Filipowski could have sworn that Hesh was visibly deflating. "It's odd. Wrong. Why now?"

"Are we sure it isn't just astropathic noise?"

"Fabian, this isn't something I've just started doing. I've been monitoring Coriolis Alpha since I called Orsino in to clean house down there."

"First-name terms with a Blood Angel serving in the Deathwatch?" Filipowski asked, raising an eyebrow. "The Ordo Xenos won't be happy."

Hesh snorted in ridicule. "Not the point, Fabian. Think. When did we capture Memphis?"

"Quintus of 009."

"Right. And that's when the distress signals started coming through from Coriolis Alpha. You even had me send an envoy over to the interdiction fleet in case it was genuine. But it was the same message as what came through the first time, and every eight months after that it started repeating."

Hesh necked his amasec and reached for the bottle once more. "Why have those bloody words only just started coming through as scrap code?"

"I've no idea, but if Madoc's going to Coriolis Alpha he's going into a warzone totally blind," Filipowski noted darkly. "My turn to give you something."

Reaching into his pocket, Filipowski pulled out a data-slate of his own and gave it to Hesh.

"What's this?"

"The reason I came looking for you in such a damn hurry," Filipowski replied, taking another sip of his amasec. "And once you see it--"

Filipowski was interrupted by Hesh dropping his amasec onto the floor. The goblet didn't break, thankfully, but the crimson carpet was stained a rather unpleasant shade of maroon by the liquid spilling out.

"Why the hell didn't we spot this before!?" Hesh thundered.

"I knew you were going to say that, Gelert, because that's how I reacted. Staring us in the face for two and a half years, and neither of us noticed until now."

"This is... Where's Madoc?"

"Probably on his way out of the system by now. He didn't tell me who he was travelling with. I suspect Riley Hallona, but I can't be sure."

"Fabian, if what you've given me is true--"

"I'm certain of it," Filipowski stated. "The Nemurax entity is Inquisitor Kasimir Mauren. Ordo Malleus."

"Excommunicated for trafficking with daemons."

"And whether Mauren's alive or dead on Sathvairg, Madoc's going to his own death."

Hesh snarled, before thrusting the data-slate back into Filipowski's hands.

"Get me a line to the Grathe," he commanded before leaving the room.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 09:21:56 PM by Koval »

Offline Dolnikan

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #109 on: August 24, 2012, 09:42:18 PM »
The craft was landing, Semplice’s mag-locks kept him firmly in place as they approached the ground. It hit the ground softly, the pilot was capable. Slowly the ramp opened, he asked: “Are there any anyone outside?”

“Yes my lord”, replied the pilot, “the Adeptus Arbites are there along with a large armoured vehicle, nothing else.”

Semplice released the locks and rolled forwards, thinking about Tettares for a moment before he entered the light. He saw the marshal standing in front of his men. Karnak followed right behind them. The Arbites showed no sign of surprise at seeing the armoured thing that contained the Emperor, only his arm open to the elements. It was a peculiar sensation to feel the outside air again, it was a long time since he had last set his wheels on a planet’s surface. He spoke: “May the Emperor’s blessing be on you, lord marshal. I am inquisitor Gideon Amphil. It is good to see a loyal servant of the Emperor on this planet.”
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Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #110 on: September 08, 2012, 08:52:47 AM »
Sunlight crept over the horizon and Andreas noticed with some surprise how different Stonechapel looked, even in the half-light of the dawn. Where Coveton had still worn the scars of a war long since fought out, Stonechapel seemed to have been caught in a time warp. The buildings were undamaged, almost pristine, despite the devastation elsewhere on Sathvairg.

"And we're certain that this is still the right planet?" Andreas queried, glancing sideways at Steren.

"Not unless Salamanders are capable of unaided Warp travel," she answered.

The escape from Coveton had been rather uneventful in itself, but the explosions had started just after midday. Andreas had initially assumed that the enemy had acquired an artillery battery and were shelling nearby settlements, but the blasts were too loud, the gaps between them too long, the timing too precise, for it to be the work of mere ground troops, and Andreas twigged quickly that the grand cruiser in orbit had turned its guns on the planet.

The sight of a burning town a couple of miles away from the main road had confirmed Andreas' suspicions. What hadn't been obliterated instantly by the orbital bombardment was ablaze, the ground melted into lava, the buildings collapsing in the heat. The apparent lack of civilians fleeing the destruction suggested that there had been only a few of them, and that they'd already left. Evidently, the bombardment had happened too suddenly for the town's inhabitants to know that they were even under attack at all.

Few of them had rested remotely well that night. Steren, it seemed, didn't need to sleep, and it had fallen to Dovin to watch her, joined first by Iona, then by Tanis, once the veteran soldier had found a good place to park for the night. Jael -- Adept Penrose, Andreas had reminded himself -- had joined them and the voidsmen had taken it in turns to watch for any heretic kill-squads. Shortly after dusk Dovin had given Iona a sedative, muttering something about "optimal condition", and as a result, Iona had been the only one to get any meaningful rest. Dovin herself showed no signs of flagging, and as far as Andreas could tell, was watching him and Steren all night, even while she was refuelling the Salamander and half-track.

At several points, Andreas fancied that he could see the microscopic outline of the grand cruiser through a gap in the clouds, but with no way of verifying it, he put it down to fatigue.

Once Jael and Tanis had rested, it was decided (largely by Tanis herself) that if they were going to get to Stonechapel, they were best off moving now, and with Iona still groggy and Andreas himself half-asleep, they had moved on. They'd reached the main orbital around Stonechapel barely half an hour ago, and Andreas had already noticed the apparent lack of other vehicles on the road.

"It's quiet," Steren remarked pointlessly.

"Assuming that this city's normality is not a facade, it is entirely normal for the roads on a Gamma-class world to be this quiet at this hour," Dovin commented, as if appraising a part on a production line. "It is also likely that the inhabitants have all heard of what happened to Coveton, and left as a result."

Andreas looked out of the Salamander and caught sight of a street below him, leading to a roundabout with a gleaming white marble statue of a Guardsman at its centre.

"Going by the fact that I can see ground-cars below us, there's at least some local traffic," he remarked. "Nothing on the orbital, admittedly, but at least the city's not empty."

"They can't be ignorant of what's over their heads," Steren countered. Andreas raised an eyebrow at her choice of words. "More's the point, we still have to work out where--"


Andreas paused as Dovin signalled for quiet. Understanding her intent well enough, Andreas tried to listen past the noise of the Salamander's engine, but it sounded for all the world like the Salamander and Jael's half-track were the only things on the road.

Dovin, however, was reaching for a lasgun -- scavenged from a heretic, Andreas suspected -- and Steren was similarly reaching for the heavy stubber she'd taken. Taking his own lasgun from where he'd left it, Andreas strained to hear what Dovin and Steren were no doubt aware of, his entire body going tense.

Suddenly, he heard it, the noise not unlike a fly buzzing in his ear, but distorted by the noise of the Salamander's engine. Andreas banged the palm of his hand twice on the Salamander's roof to warn Tanis, but she'd already spotted the bike zooming up a nearby slip road and was swerving to avoid it as it came closer. Jael had spotted it as well in his mirrors, holding steady to allow the voidsmen on board a better chance to take aim at the rider.

"Well, this is new," Andreas sniped as the Traitor Marine riding the bike produced an oversized zweihänder sword and gunned the bike's engines.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2012, 09:13:59 AM by Koval »

Offline Koval

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #111 on: September 12, 2012, 07:39:14 PM »
"Nineteen years," he snarled. "Nineteen years ago, I was stranded here."

The shrouded figure glared at his lord with all the hatred, all the malice, of an ancient and debased slaughterer without a conscience.

"And nineteen years ago, I was betrayed. Yet you are a generous master, my lord. You answer my prayers. You restore my strength."


"My lord?"


Wordlessly, the figure obeyed, knowing better than to disobey his lord.


The giant shifted in his throne and bent down, bringing his head closer so that the figure could smell the stink of boiling blood on the giant's breath, feel its furnace-heat on his skin.


"A new chance to...?" the figure repeated. "My lord, I...?"


"In your name, my lord, these things--"


"My lord, you should hold the bitch Memphis to blame for that, not me!" the figure protested. "I was powerless against her sorcery! Compared with the lightning she called down into my blood, all the strength in the world would have been meaningless!"


"I will not fail you, my lord," Nemurax hissed as the image of Khar'neth on his throne faded.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2012, 05:37:49 PM by Koval »

Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Defiant Echoes
« Reply #112 on: April 07, 2013, 03:06:08 AM »
"However sharp your wit may be, SHOOT HIM!", Steren bellowed, bracing her heavy stubber against the gun mantlet.

Andreas almost fancied he could hear a note of panic in her normally composed tone, but was just as soon overwhelmed by the roar of the belt-fed weapon coming to life and his need to duck aside to avoid a faceful of spent casings.

Priming his lasgun as he knelt into cover, he took aim and fired repeatedly for the bike as it curved around some distance ahead. He fancied he must have put at least one shot through that massive front tyre as it came to bear, but the vehicle and rider stayed as steady as a rock. Armoured and self-sealing, no doubt.

The bike's engine gunned again, accelerating straight towards the makeshift convoy.

Andreas almost thought the dull flash from the bike was the low dawn sun glinting off the broadsword still clenched in the World Eater's hands, but some instinct told him otherwise. He only just ducked behind the mantlet before a low velocity grenade slammed into the front corner of the Chimera pattern chassis and blasted fragments over the top of the vehicle.
Even protected, he started slightly as a second grenade from the bike's front mounted launcher exploded against the hull.

A glance up told him the psyker evidently didn't deign to be concerned by shrapnel, still hammering rapid bursts of fire downrange almost as if on a firing range. Behind her, Dovin had taken cover as he had, and apparently also unharmed. If the rhythmic thud of the Salamander's heavy bolter was any indication, Iona had survived. And they hadn't yet crashed, so Tanis was presumably still conscious. He couldn't really ask for more than that.
Daring to look above the armour again, he fired again for the traitor.

Below, Pantariste took in the situation. Iota's shots were mostly going wide, her vision obscured by the low sun ahead. The three in the gun bay above might as well have been armed with slingshots for all the good it was doing.
She took her decision, with only a prayer the tank was heavy and armoured enough that the Emperor might protect them.

"Hold on!", she barked.

It wasn't perfect. The bike swerved, the rider turning away from the impending collision. Yet, Pantariste was just fast enough to react, wrenching the controls and sending the tank's path twisting into the bike.

The impact only winged the bike, but it was enough for the already ruined vehicle. Something in the steering column gave way as it reeled from the crash, and the bike tore in two with a soundtrack of tortured metal. The front forks span away. The torn armour plate on its underside of the collapsed chassis dug into the road surface. Robbed of speed by the tearing asphalt, the sheer momentum of the ruined bike flipped its carcass and rider as missiles.

The instant for which the chase seemed to have been ended was shattered by the resonating crash of magnetised boots finding grip on the roof of Jael's half-track.
Uncurling from his crouched landing, the World Eater turned to look at the tank ahead. His helmet hid the face beneath, but the glowing eye sockets and the warrior's eye sockets still managed to be gloating.

"...That's new too."

It was about all Andreas could actually find to say.

The sharp crack of Dovin opening fire again snapped him out of his shock. Joining the fusillade once again, he fired repeatedly into the warrior, but even Steren's freshly reloaded heavy stubber did little to impress the beast.
Turning away unimpressed and disinterested, the Marine set about mutilating the roof of the half-track, its light armour peeling apart around the massive blade.

"What now?"

Steren tossed her machine gun into a corner.

"We improvise."
He didn't get an answer before the psyker leapt, almost flying over the huge gap between the vehicles to slam into the Marine with equal parts force and grace. Latched onto the Astartes' backpack with diamond hard claws, she climbed against the thrashing warrior's physical protestations and latched her hands onto his helmet.

Her wrench of the warrior's neck didn't come quite soon enough. A massive gauntlet clamped around her arm, flinging her to the roof. She rolled away from the landing, her toes puncturing her once expensive boots and reshaping to claw into the metal.
The Marine uncurled his other hand from the sword embedded in the half-track, standing up from his handiwork.

"Impressive.", his voice sounded amused, even distorted through the vox-grille, For a psyker, anyway."
"Save your compliments. Your words are worthless.", Steren spat.
"Very well."

He didn’t hesitate, reaching for the hilt of his sword. Lunging against the grip of her distorted feet, Steren forced forwards, smashing at his descending hand to knock it aside. A twist of her torso and a swing of the elbow delivered the next blow into the weak hip joint of the power armour and was rewarded with the crunch of some ancient component working its last, paint fragments flying from a fresh dent.

She began to turn for a third strike, but Agares' stolen hand came at her from the other side, slamming into her head, forcing her smashing down into the roof. The metal buckled and split under the blow, the tortured metal torn further with a twist of the giant wrist to grind her skull against the ruined roof.

Seeing the Marine draw her back from the roof for a second blow, Andreas was granted the briefest glance at the weakspot under the armour's shoulder. Two of his shots went straight into the joint in the same moment that Pantariste slammed the Salamander into the halftrack's flank.

The daemon flinched. With a damaged roof distorting under his sheer weight, even the magnetised boots of his power armour couldn't keep grip, and he stumbled, dropping Steren to the roof as he struggled for balance.
But he found it quickly. As he repositioned his feet, the Salamander was now only scarce feet away and his stance tensed to jump.

"MOVE!", Nogal shouted. But the tank lurched away too slowly and her spray of lasgun fire found no weak spot in the daemon's armour.

Andreas' survival instinct was only an instant from throwing him from back of the tank in desperation.
He just as soon recoiled as the edge of the gun mantlet arced. Lightning flashed along its frame, spidering back across the gap and blazing over the half-track's roof. Just visible in the mire of the miniature storm, Agares twitched, fighting his protesting power armour.

Steren pulled herself from the roof, gory eyesockets flashing with arcs of energy. The normally stoic mask she wore was gone, bloody ruin and incandescent rage in its place. Remnants of lips drawn away from chipped teeth, she spat her curses at the daemon.

"You foul, forbidden beast! You are heresy and chaos incarnate, and I deny you in the Emperor's name."
Tearing apart the malfunctioning electrofibres in his power armour with brute strength, Agares swung behind him.
The backhand blow was too high, the psyker weaving under it, her fingers grasping and tear handholds in his aged armour. Hauling him up, she swung up and over as to throw him from the vehicle.

It was too much. The roof finally caved in.

As they tumbled into the hold below, Steren caught a glance of the voidsmen rolling away just before gravity helped both brawlers to find the floor. Ignoring the plentiful swearing, she slammed up and out, throwing Agares into the half-track's weapons rack. He lashed out in return, and she went flying, contributing yet another dent to the back quarter of the walls.

With the flash of falling steel, everyone saw what was about to happen next. His massive sword crashing off the middle of the floor, the daemon lunged with the agility that seemed so wrong and yet so familiar for the massive frame of his host.

From behind, uselessly blocked, Steren launched as best she could. Dion recoiled back, pulling the frozen Rosa clear. Javix leapt forward, trying to knock the sword aside.

Much to his own surprise, he did - the hilt just drifting past Agares' clutching fingers, the weapon clattered against the side of the hull. With a roar of anger, the Marine lashed out - his forearm collided with the voidsman, launching him into the wall head-first. The sickening crunch left no doubt as to Javix's fate.


The half-track lurched, throwing Steren into the wall yet again. The reason was clear - Jael was visibly quaking in terror, the wheel fallen from his hands. Dion was desperately trying to get past him, wrenching at the unfamiliar controls as best as he could guess.

"He's freaking! ...I'm freaking!", he pleaded in desperate hope.

Almost casually, he was interrupted, his hands brushed confidently aside by the savant. Something was immediately different about Jael's demeanour, fresh fire burning in his eyes.

"No. No, I'm not. I'll be alright.", his tone was unusually confident, "Steren, plan theta."
"Theta? That's...", the psyker was dumbstruck, "...oh, I like that."

She leapt up, driving her hardened fist up through the rear flank of Agares' armour. The bloody mess it came coated with on its return brought another howl of displeasure from the daemon, spinning, forcing her to move.

But that's what she wanted. Now free to brace against the side of the vehicle, she kicked out - forcing herself across the width of the hold, the attack had all the force it needed to slam the daemon's head through the scarred opposite wall. Guided by Jael's thoughts, the timing was perfect. Agares' helmet collided with the solid rockcrete column supporting a road bridge overhead. A fresh gouge drawn in the hold by his recoiling head, the daemon fell stunned back in and onto the floor.

Steren, however, was more interested in hauling Dion and Rosa from their feet, grasped by the back of their uniforms.

"This will hurt. Sorry.", she apologised as she moved for the back door.
"What are you doing?"

She answered with action - Dion flew screaming out of the open back doors, thrown to the Salamander now positioned in the wake of the half-track. He landed heavily, but regained his wits fast enough to scramble for a grip on the barrel of the autocannon.
Three seconds later, Rosa followed in similarly unsubtle and dignified fashion.

"I thought you were going to throw him out."
"That hit should have snapped even an Astartes' neck - throwing him out would be useless. Wouldn't it?", she snarled the last query as she circled past the slowly-standing Agares, "You might fool them, but you stink of your true nature. I can feel you in there."
"Very clever, psyker... you noticed. But don't let me interrupt; you sounded like you had a plan for how you were going kill me?"
"I'll leave that to her."

Steren gestured, a sweeping open palmed motion that led out through the open rear of the half-track, the daemon's head turning in kind.
Framed by the rended rectangle of the door frames, the Salamander thundered still - its tracks tearing furiously at the highway, its supercharger screaming over the roar of its engine and the muzzle of Iota's heavy bolter standing proud from its angled armour plates.


Agares' indignant roar yet managed to drown out the bark of the weapon as it opened fire, both daemon and high calibre bolt merging into a whirl of destruction that pulverising what little still remained of the half-track's interior.
Shrapnel flying wild, Steren watched the scene in each of its instants, taking the moment in an infinite beauty that mundane senses would never be able to see.
The flare of each rocket motor as it burnt out, its velocity imparted. The sparks of red-hot bolt jacket fragments spinning away as the deuterium cores detonated. Splashes of tainted, cursed blood flying free.

Using Agares' bulk and what little metal remained of the half track's cab as cover, Steren launched herself on top of Jael, huddling over him to fend off the tearing swarm of debris that shredded what tatters remained of her once valuable dress.
But still focused. She noticed the instant the bolter went silent. Spinning around to deliver the final blow...

"NO!!! Where did he go?"

The half-track was ruined, but utterly devoid of the World Eater.


From the Salamander, it was clear the half-track was ruined, almost limping to its halt.

"Probably best to slow with it, Tanis.", yelled Andreas over the engine, "But keep the heavy bolter ready."

Pantariste nodded, although mostly to herself, putting light pressure on the brakes to match the speed of the other vehicle as it came to a halt.

"I do not understand. This is tactically inefficient.", Iona spoke. Pantariste might have guessed the expression as an indication of Iona being unsettled, but who knew with that girl?

It was not an ideally timed distraction, as it bought an instant for something to fly from the back of the half track, crashing into the front of the tank.
The doubts about what it was were lost with the sound of a roaring female voice, audible even over the rending armour as she climbed.

"What?!", the accusation caught Andreas off-guard.

Lightning flared from the corners of her eyes, her fingers hardening into claws...

"Steren! GET DOWN FROM THERE IMMEDIATELY!", Jael yelled as he climbed from the half-track.

She turned, glaring at Jael with her blazing eyes.

"I mean it! Get. Down. From. There. This won't solve anything."

He wasn't in charge here. She was the master. She had to be the master. She pushed into his mind. There would be fear. It could be exploited. It would be exploited.

The fear wasn't there. Then what was...

"Yes. Yes. Of course." , her demeanour snapped back, suddenly level headed.
"Good. Go and see if there's anything salvageable about the half-track. Or in it."

She obeyed, jumping clear of the tank. Several expressions were passed around those she left behind - some of confusion, others fearful and one angry.

"What the frak was that?", Pantariste had her weapon ready at hand as she climbed from the hatch, tracking the departing psyker with its muzzle.
"She's a telepath. They can sometimes get into a cycle where their emotions are feeding off themselves. Rare, but... significant... in her case. She normally has her facade to keep it at bay, but she must have lost her focus in the brawl."
"That's a slight understatement, I think.", Andreas commented.
"Not so much. She just needs something to break the cycle."

Iona's head appeared from the driver's compartment.

"She's dangerous."
"Given the current circumstances, I'd count that as a virtue. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'm about to faint."
« Last Edit: April 13, 2013, 03:02:15 AM by MarcoSkoll »
S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
Birgen: "Pick a window. I'll demonstrate".

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