Rogue Trader: Series 2: Episode 31: Have We Said We Are Space Marines
Deathwatch. It’s name is known to but few, a group of volunteers from different Space Marine chapters united from their disparate elements by one mission. To assess the threat of the xenos and to eradicate them. Their armour is black but for a single insignia to honour the chapter from whence they came.
Deathwatch, known as little more than rumour to most, but the Rogue Trader crew of the Vengeance of Saint Drusus known them as more than that. Their paths crossed in the bloody encounter on Footfall. This is the tale of those warriors of legend.
The few and proud warrior angels of the god emperor trail through the darkest reaches of the expanse upon the craft “The Oath of Purity” Their rune priest Sigurd has foreseen a calamity that shall break forth from the area known as “The Processional Of The Damned”. This area is known of as little as most know of Deathwatch. Wrath Umbolt returned from it a broken wreck, a sole survivor. Even of such mysteries there are some who know, who have constructed their knowledge from broken fragments and tales weaving them together. Such beings are the Storm Wardens who know of such bleak and blasphemous lore. Who know the Processional of the Damned.for the cursed ship graveyard that it is, and of abominations within beyond even the comprehension of the Eldar.
Amongst the proud warriors bound upon the craft for this place are battle brother Grimnar and battle brother Usiel. They walk alone amongst the crew, hulking Olympian warriors to whom the merely mortal men of the crew dare not even approach. Even the captain of the ship shivers in fear as they draw near. Passing their time in meditation and battle drill they contemplate the strange facts that have come to be known.
Brother Nemiel has brought on board some profane Eldar device that has shown that somewhere in this cancer of space they approach is an item intertwined with the destiny of the Dread Pearl, the location the Rogue Traders had been hunting for. They know of the Dread Pearl by reputation, that it shall bring a time of unprecedented suffering and unleash a black crusade of alien horror upon the universe. It is there that their sworn allies, the rogue trader Xanatov and his crew, will soon be approaching. First though the battle brothers shall let it know their wrath.
Grimnar, previously of the space wolf chapter sits, pouring wolfs mead down his throat, drink that would kill a mortal man. The cup empty and his bellowing to the glory of Fenris done he turns to the crew that watch in mute fear from the distance “Drink” he commands “Drink to the glory that is to come. Would you have us fail for your dry throats? Drink damn you”. Unable to refuse the crew desperately gorge themselves themselves on drink unto stupor or violence. Amongst the comatose bodies and fighting Grimnar booms joyously to the heavens.
Elsewhere the other battle brothers continue their duties, Rune Priest Sigurd casts his bones, watching for omens of what is to come. Andomidies walks alone, a pinnacle of Astartes valour amongst the crew, rousing their spirits. Alone or with other marines though he is utterly silent. Usiel of the Dark Angels chapter resides within his shrine, methodically checking and double checking his holy weaponry and its readiness for use.
Eventually the craft falls back into real space, its destination reached. They need no alert to tell them of their arrival. The temperature falls within moments, hoarfrost forming over every surface. The noise of cooling metal is soon muffled by the sound of a bell tolling mournfully from nowhere. Vox casters spring to life, static rippling throughout but for whispers and a woman’s sobbing. They are at the Processional Of The Damned.
Upon the ships bridge Grimnar asks of the Lord Captain “The hunt will be afoot soon. Captain, what do your sensors tell you, what is our game today”. The pale woman and Lord Captain Lenessa Gailbrait answers by bringing up static images of the system. Three, or maybe four planets float amongst a mass of shifting debris, it is hard to tell as time seems to shift, warping back and forth and twisting the reality with it. The crews breath fog as the temperature drops once more, far in the distance a void that forms a black star shifts across the heavens. Upon the bridge a crew member snaps back, screaming in agony as his veins collapse, his eyes hollowing out Within a moment he is dead. Grimnar says “He died in the service of the Emperor, he is in glory now. With a shudder the lord captain orders “Clean that body from the bridge. Now! Are we getting anything, any intelligence?”
No answer comes, the Master Of Aetherics rocks back and forth, his eyes clawed from his head by his own hands. With quick steps, Sigard joins them upon the bridge, wolf headed force rod in hand “Grimnar. There is witchery here.”. Grimnar answers “Does your runes tell us where the shifting heart of this beast is, for we must pull it out” Sigard says “you shall be the spear in its heart, I shall take you to it”. With that they storm from the bridge, Grimnar smiling the smile of a wolf cut free from its leash.
The battle brothers come together in the arming chamber, attended by a small legion of tech priest that tend to their arms. In the midst of this Sigard looses his blood over his runes. As the blood flows through them the float up, circling in the air. Addressing his battle brothers Sigard says .”This is the place outside. That is the darkness at the heart of this place. It should not be. The ancients foresaw deicide, civilisations offered up in sacrifice. The Eldar curse them all , know something of this place, it is a nexus at the heart of fate linked to the dread pearl. There is evil and witchery here. There is more, the traitor legions have found this place, and have allied with those destined to burn. Your objective: there is a world down there. Erebus. You must determine the nature of the threat. There is a nest of those who turned their back on the god emperor and their xenos allies. Assess the threat then burn the entire nest. Grimnar can you do this?”
Grimnar raises his head, roaring to the air “Is that answer enough?”. With quiet measured tones Usiel adds “All will burn”. Grimnar roars once more “You speak few words, but those you do are wise”. The plan is decided, a drop pod insertion. A lance strike ready and waiting from orbit in case of need.
The battle brothers move to the drop pods, enduring the laborious process of hooking them into the drop pods and linking its machine spirits to their own. Rumesmith Sigard steps forward handing them a small item“We have discovered an Eldar structure on the planet. I have prepared this rune to be placed upon it, to allow me to study it in more depth”. Within his drop pod Usiel feels the bloodthirsty machine spirits roaring. The weapons wish to hunt, like falcons and wolves the weapons tear at their leashes, begging to be released. Moments later the drop pods shoot down from the craft, burning through re-entry and crashing into the planets surface with such force that would kill any normal man. Unharmed the battle brothers stride forth to find themselves nowhere near the structure for which they hunt.
Instead they stand upon a volcanic wasteland, jagged peaks and troughs turning its walkways into death traps. Corrosive rain spatter down upon their sacred armour, and from a dark alter in front of them fifty eyes stare back at the two warriors that have arrived in their midst. Interrupted from their blasphemous rites the heretics can momentarily do nothing but stare in awe at their doom.
Usiel steps forwards first his holy heavy bolter barking round after round into their mass, scything them down. Knife drawn Grimnar leaps into their midst, tossing them flying like rag dolls and laying left and right with his weapon. Within moments the heretics are fleeing in terror, before being cut down without mercy. In the midst of a red mist of carnage the two warriors stand, Usiels vision momentarily blocked by kill markers that fill his display, but vanish as he wills the machine spirit to rest. A blinking marker shows them the position of the Eldar structure and their destination.
Grimnar tears his helmet loose, sniffing the air for the spores of heretics and xenos, amongst the festering bubbles of the corpses around him he scents nothing more. The heretics had to come far to this desolate spot. Ice crystals forming on his exposed flesh Grimnar turns to his comrade “That was barely worth the effort. Shall we investigate the xenos” he pauses to spit” structures before we alert the fools and heretics to our presence”. Before they leave they lay waste to the vehicles that has been the heretics conveyance, leaving nothing but ruin in their wake.
At rapid pace they hike across the desolate wasteland under a dark sun that would drive an unprepared mind to madness. At their inhuman speed it does not take long to reach the destination. From an overlooking ridge they survey their target. A small camp has sprung up around the xenos wraithbone structure, hastily constructed from hab blocks. Imperial markings can be seen on the devices littering the camp and an imperial walker moves under the influence of several tech priests. A giant figure in the yellow power armour of the Imperial Fists stands in the midst of this. Grimnar growls “I don’t like this”. “This does not seem right” agrees Usiel. The Imperial Fist gestures to a figure standing in front of him, a man in crude breathing apparatus and shimmering energy field, bandoleer of pistols at his hips. A man unknown to these legendary marines, but well known to the Rogue Trader’s as the man Krawkin Feckwood. Unaware of the marines above Krawkin side of the conversation is easily intercepted by the marines. “You are sure that those lackeys from the Vengeance are mere weeks from here, Throne, that means Xanatov is closer than I thought, the gift I left must not have done the trick”. A pause “Lord Alpharious, will you keep up your end of the deal” another pause “What do you mean we are not alone”. Shunning the power armoured helmet, the Imperial Fists grin is easily visible and malign.
Realising they have been detecting, Grimnar moves down quickly as Usiel watches over him, heavy weaponry at the ready. Drawing the guards away, Grimnar lures them to a hastily prepared scene to give the impression of a false alarm. With the crew once more at ease he moves through the camp observing tech priests and servitors working studiously on their chosen device, an atomic set to destroy the wraithbone structure forever. In the distance he hears the Imperial Fists proud voice “My brother will be looking forwards to the arrival of the tech priests, he has vengeance due upon him.” As Grimnar moves unseen amongst the camp, breaking necks and impaling hearts upon his knife, Krawkin moves to leave “I’m returning to my craft, soon I can finally put a bolt shell through that lickspittles head. Moving to the lander, Grimnar rigs one with explosives to halt any retreat of need be.
Preparations done Grimnar steps from concealment with a massive grin upon his face and walks up to the Imperial Fist bold as brass. Krawkins face pales and he turns to flee. “Stay where you are or I will break you in half” Says Grimnar before turning to the Imperial Fist. “I was wondering when the imperial lickspittles would turn up” Says the seeming Imperial Fist as he reveals his true loyalties “Krawkin, run”
The lander explodes in a sheet of flame as Grimnar draws his Bolter , unleashing hell at point blank range. Ducking under the hail of fire the traitor marine unsheathe his chainsword swinging it round in a decapitating strike that barely misses Grimnars neck. From above frag grenades tumble amongst the confused troopers, followed by punishing Heavy Bolter rounds as Usiel joins the fray to devastating effect
Leaping forwards Grimnar locks bodies with the traitor, keeping it’s punishing chainsword blows at bay. Slamming his force shield down into the traitors knee Grimnar pulls the traitor close, spitting for his face as he draws his knife free. Ready the traitor marine pushes the shield down and tumbles Grimnar away. Around the two duelling titans men die in droves as Usiel strides down the cliff face pumping round after round into the air. Keeping the Traitor marines crushing blows at bay with his shield Grimnar shouts “Stop playing and kill Krawkin”. “Already on it” comes the ice cold reply. Seeing the glowing red eyes of Usiel staring his way Krawkin mouths “No, no emperor protect me no” fleeing for the intact Aquilla lander. Raking the cockpit with fire Usiel approaches then tosses grenades within the craft. The walls buckle, and the wing shatters off from the resulting explosion. Tossed and bloodied within the craft, Krawkin is going nowhere.
Leaping at the traitor marine Grimnar shouts “Odins ravens take your eyes” before grabbing his skull trying to bite his fangs into the traitors face. Shoving Grimnar away the marine laughs “I see your weakling Primarch has imbued in you his taste for human flesh, the first step on the road to chaos brother”. A roar of fury is Grimnar’s reply as he lifts the marine into the air smashing him down upon a rock, plunging a knife into the traitors leg for his insult. Howling the traitor leaps into the conflict once more.
At the lander Usiel tears the docking port free with a single hand, then drags the unconscious Krawkin loose, slinging him over his shoulder like a sack of meat. He turns back to the conflict to see the two warriors still evenly matched. Dropping his chainsword the traitor tries to grapple Grimnar to the ground, but is pushed back for his trouble. Having blooded the traitor in single combat, Grimnar brings his bolter up once more and says “You are no match for a true marine” the resulting burst of fire shatters the traitors armour and scars his chest. Desperate now the Traitor scoops his chainsword up once more, smashing Grimnars shield arm wide and digging the chainsword whirling blade deep into his arm. Licking the blood that sprays loose the traitor smiles “Suffer weakling”.
A shout from behind them pauses the combat for a moment “Finish him” shouts Usiel, tossing a krak grenade through the air. Snatching it out of the air grimnar clashes heads with the traitor shattering his nose, then plunges his fist, Krak grenade an all, deep into the traitors chest. Kicking the traitor away Grimnar booms “I dedicate this death to the allfather”. Gore splatters the area as the traitor explodes into a thousand wet fleshy chunks. In the silence that follows Usiel steps forwards placing the rune upon the xenos structure. They have done their duty and done it well.
Moments later the runesmiths voice comes across the vox. “Ah yes, I see it now. So that is what it is. Battle brothers that is not all, there is something here Something ancient. Return at once to the “Oath Of Purity”. We must await the arrival of the Rogue Trader Xanatov for we shall need their help. Ya vath, the Yu vath are here. Battle brothers return at once”
With Krawkin in hand the Marines return. Soon Xanatov and his crew will be here. Then the true conflict shall begin.