Rogue Trader: S2: EP 32: A Clash Of Titans

The readings are impossible. The gate before them contradicts itself with every scan. It is true in only one thing. It is a jump across the entire expanse. An act that cannot be true.  As the Vengeance Of Saint Drusus closes on the Eldar structure that will take them to “the processional of the damned” the crew prey and beg the Emperor for his grace. Aviner’s servitors buck and detonate at they try to process the information the scanners push through them, the information that violates all laws of space and time.  In his third eye Lucius sees a hint of the greater truth of something that the Eldar in their arrogance dealt with to build this abomination. A species that could rip apart stars and defy time itself.

Under the ship’s red emergency lights Victrix feels something, someone trying to make contact. Two souls. One straining to make contact, the other burning colossal amounts of psychic energy to make sure they are heard.  A thin man, eyeless, an Astropath, letting loose a psychic scream for help A giant of myth, black armoured. An Astartes. Grey beard and psychic hood, wolf skull headed staff in hand.  These are the scattershot images dancing across her mind interspersed with visions of fighting.  The crew with jet black eyes.  The Astartes unleashing bolt shell after bolt shell, hundreds of bodies around their feet.  The crew have become corrupted by some Xenos force. The Yu Vath. With that word comes images of crystalline worlds, enslaved cities dedicated to the ruinous powers.  One phrase “Please, come, we need your assistance”.  Connecting to Xanatov, Victrix relays his instant reply “Yes. We will assist them”

On the “Sword of Scintilla” Pandareos sits in front of the crew. The priests around him roaring the purging of the Xenos and the slaughter of heretics.  Pandareos is still, an image of calm.  Inside he shivers in terror, but outside he shows no fear, for he will lead the men into the gates of hell. As he hears the order from Xanatov he rises turning to Alala “Ya wanted to meet the Astartes? Great, we get to go save em. I’m the best boss ever”

Hearing of the need of the Astartes Lucius readies his weapons, his eye eternally watching the warp. This will not be a warp jump, but he will be ready none the less.  At Xanatov call he raises, to join his Lord Captain at the bridge.

Finally deep in the bowels of the craft a green Xenos, Wartsnagger, sits in the flashing red lights the grot scampering by his side “boss boss, they’re going to see the marine boys”. Wartsnagger smiles  a tusky smile .”where there’s marine boys there’s a good fight o be had. Lets stomp something”

Xanatov taps his fingers upon a skull that adorns his command throne.  Lucius now by his side, unusually adorned in his formal navigator robes. The wraithbone structure comes close, a shimmering free floating structure across it, like a wall of water in space. Whimpers of terror run across all the ships as they approach.  A moment of vertigo sways over them, then passes. It is done.

Frost etches itself across the vista panels.  The temperature drops, fogging breath. The vox spews forth a cacophony of whispers and accusations then collapses to malevolent static.  They are at the processional of the damned and at its heart an abortion of a star lets out anti light as it bleeds all life from its domain.

Innumerable collision alerts sound as the crafts wind their way through space.  This is a ship graveyard. More ships are lost here than have ever been registered lost in the entire expanse. Imperium, Xenos, things that cannot be unseen. All here. This is the processional of the damned. It has taken its toll countless million times before, and will a million times and more since, and three small craft stand against it.

Lucius third eye cannot shut to this crime against sanity. The star is alive and hungers, it runs its fingers across his soul. Victrix feels something test itself against her, but her soul is armoured against its whisperings.  The crew are not so lucky.  Visions run across their mind.  Spontaneous prayers to the ruinous powers sung in harmony from newly turned minds.  Riots break out and executions commence to retain order.  Barking with military discipline Xanatov tries to bring the crew under control, in the end demanding more executions to keep them in line. Upon the Scinitilla Pandareos screams of hatred to his crew, five minutes hate turning their fear to wrath. It is enough. Barely.

The madness at bay momentarily, but far from gone they turn their eyes outwards.  “The Oath of Purity” a tempest class strike frigate is near, under incredible firepower from a ship recorded only as “excommunicate traitoris” a ship struck from the records, a pestilline class cruiser.  It is a warped and corroded thing, arrow shaped and flickering with life signs that come and go. “The Oath of Purity” is burning with power, far more than it should be able to manage, multiple void shields emanate out, shielding it from the worst of harm.  There is one more craft, a sphere six kilometres across, surrounded by vast crystal shards. The Ya Vath come and do so rapidly.

The orders come fast. The Drusus shall close first, the Scintilla approaching using the Drusus as a shield, while the Penance Of Iocansus holds back by the gate, to ensure safe retreat if need be.  All fire is to be concentrated on the damaged Pestilline ship to try and gain a better numerical advantage quickly. Lucius is sent through the teleportarium to the Sword of Scintilla at Pandareos’ request; he needs a shooter he can trust on board.

The Oath seems to be doing well enough by itself, getting the best of an exchange between itself and the pestilline ship.  Moving into position the Saint Drusus unleashed a hail of macro cannon fire, tearing down the accursed vessels shields in a sick green haze.  Taking the opportunity the lance batteries loose, transfixing the craft.  Pouring on the fire the Oath of Purity matches with equal force until the craft tumbles away, void engine imploding. The craft has been purged from a reality is sickens.

The dying craft had one last salvo though, auspex readings show six torpedoes, a dying shot that speed through space towards the Saint Drusus.  Already in the air, Pandareos and his motley crew meet them in the Fury Interceptor, tearing two apart with brutal lascannon fire before they can close, the Drusus’ defensive turrets account for three more. One final torpedo continues its lethal voyage.  In the void of space Pandareos spies the wreckage from the rotten torpedoes he had struck down, bodies and plague ridding filth spill from the corroded ruined tubes. “Lord Captain, their throaning boarding torpedoes.” He shouts down the vox as the final torpedo strikes its prey.

The hull of the Saint Drusus shakes at the impact, plunging deep into the cargo hold near the hangers.  Xanatov sighs “Victrix, take that staff of yours and purge the corridors” he commands.   Deep in the hull the filth spills forth, corruption and decay and amongst it a single warrior, one that walked the land as the first Heresy had risen, a champion of the chaos gods, a fallen Astartes. A harbinger of Nurgle brings his pestilent gift to the crew. Before him the crew fall, only to rise once more as decay and plague makes their dead bodies twitch once more.  The crew is worse than decimated in the first assault, nearly ten thousand dead.  Alone now Victrix stand before this unholy warior.

In the depths the Ork shifts once more. Piling the ammo high he grunts “Well lets go kill it then”. Elsewhere with heavy heart Aviner lifts his Power Axe once more and heads to the Teleportarium, to unleash his worryingly proficient warrior side once more.

Before Vitrix the figure stands, bloated, flesh broken through its ancient and corroded power armour. The figure nigh completely concealed by a cloud of flies that ooze forth from its ruptured guts. Every movement it makes brings sick squelching and creaking and the infected bodies around it move at its whim like marionettes  “Step forwards witch and embrace the gifts of grandfather Nurgle” it says. Silent Victrix lets loose her mighty will, seeking to rob this behemoth of sight and sense. Something backs its poisoned mind, something that will not let its champion fall so easily. And it lifts its weighty bolter and looses its mighty roar.  Victrix flies backwards to the ground caught by the onslaught, the shells breaking and feeding their payload of poison into her system.  Her screams echo over the vox then still. Shambling forwards the Plague Marine unsheathes its knife ready to grant its sacred plague. Before the arriving Aviner and Wartsnaggers eyes he plunges the knife deep, letting the toxins run amok. Victrix stiffens then stills once more.

Genuine anger rising Aviner intones “Mr Wartsnagger, do what you will” and charges forwards into the fray to defend the fallen Astropath. With a bellow of static Aviner slams his full weight into the Plague Marine and embeds the power axe deep into its head as it stumbles away.  With an almost bored look the creature places one hand on the charging Aviner and shoves him away, the axe coming away from its head with a sucking noise. “Embrace the gift of the plague father” it says. “Oi. Spoil ma fun” bellows the Ork as it joins the fray, its shooter clicking uselessly as it charges , it instead tosses it into the Marines face. Jumping in with choppa drawn Wartsnagger slams the axe forwards but the Plague Marine sidesteps easily the brutish blow. Slowly facing Aviner it rises its bolter once more . “You mock your betters. Die slowly” The hail of fire vanishes halted in the air as Aviner force field flares to life. The Omnissiah will not allow his chosen to fall so easily.

A burst prayer of thanks done Aviner risies his axe once more “Why do you make me do this”. The first wild arc swing is but a feint, gaining speed as the power axe swings a full 360 arc that the Marine slips away from effortlessly. It does not avoid the follow up blows as Wartsnagger crushes heavy blows into its chest, breeching its armour and spilling maggots and vermin loose. Gurgling the marine uppercuts back the ork, ringing its head like a bell.  Ignoring the Ork for now the creature grabs Aviner, smashing him to the wall and through the decks. Pushing him to the ground in a vice like grip. Moving its face close to the restrained Aviner it gurgles “”I want to bestow to you the kiss of Nurgle”. Servos  responding and implants roaring , Aviner lets loose a mighty shrug tossing the marine from him “Your flesh is rotten, mine is steel” he says to the shocked plague warrior.

Stunned the marine staggers into two more heavy blows as Wartsnagger smashes the massive chopper into his back. Despite the massive onslaught it has suffered so far it still stands, as if before a light breeze.

On the bridge Xanatov responds to a holo hail and Sigard appears before him growling “We detect damage to the ship, a torpedo strike. Do you need the assistance of our battle brothers” Gratefully Xantaov accepts and explains the situation Sigard nods ” Brother Nemiel. It seems our oath bound friends has a plague marine on board. What say you? Arm yourself and purge the filth”

In the pitched battle in the hull a discharge of energy marks the entry of a god of war to shift the tide of this battle.  Within the fraction of a second Brother Nemiel assesses the situation and realizes for some strange reason the Ork is assisting them against the chaos marine. So it gets to live. Until the battle ends at least.  With a roar of “I am the emperors wrath made manifest” the holy marines bolter speaks tearing across the Plague warriors chest. Looking up from its wounds the plague marine answers “Welcome brother”

In the background a small grot scuttles, weighed down under half ton of ammo. Stumbling it drops a shoota it was fiddling with which detonates with a mighty roar.  Taking advantage of the distraction Aviner throws himself into the air, his arcane devices nullifying gravity pulls just enough that his protesting  bionic legs can throw his massive body weight skywards. Cancelling the devices at the height of the jumps arc, the Tech Priests full body weight comes down focused through the power axe. Machine spirits roar and lightning flares as the axe finds its target, embedding deep into the Plague Marine, spilling black icor and sending the monster staggering. Seeming to recognise its injuries for the first time in the battle.

Snatching up his choppa once more Wartsnagger sends two pummelling blows into the Plague creatures head and shoulders.  The Marine responds with a backhanded blow to the Xenos head.  Both barely staggered, they match eyes for a moment in understanding of the shier indomitable will of the other. The moment is splits as a krak grenade from the hands of the deathwatch marine rolls across the ground, settling at the Traitor marines leg.  With a muffled crump it detonates, imploding the decking and collapsing the traitor to one knee for a moment.  Only a moment as it lifts itself once more and marches towards its adversary. Even the ork, swinging a feint high, then with unexpected cunning dropped the axe hard into the leg wound, seemed to barely slow its determined march.

Realising the inhuman toughness and speed of their adversary Aviner opened up a secure vox ”Mr Wartsnagger, its armour will do it little against your strength if you can restrain it. I would advise closing to grapple range”.  Meanwhile Traitor marine slipped between axe swing and bolter hail, barely noticing the glancing shots that managed somehow to get through its defences.  In return it turned on Aviner, lowering the bolter to aim below his ancient shields and let loose plague ridden fire across his legs.  Stumbling, Aviner braces his weight against the haft of the axe, as the machine spirits rush to cleanse the pollution from his veins. Electric arcs from they axe to the tech priest body and he stands tall once more “Nearly enough” Aviner mused” “Nearly”. “All resistance is temporary” comes the reply. “Even yours?” “Everything succumbs to entropy”.

Taking advantage of the lull in combat Wartsnagger charges forwards with the force of a charging rhino, but is stunned in its tracks by a colossal head but that sends it reeling. The Traitor marine seems quicksilver, dodging between bolter fire and evading Aviner attempt to collapse the decks beneath his feet.  Bringing itself up from the last roll of evasion it looks back with barely disguised contempt.   A pistol is placed to the back of his head.  Xanatov, clad in holy power armour and armed with the sacred Inferno Pistol has joined the fray. Stepping from the teleportariums flare he lets loose the inferno pistols fury without mercy. The purifying flame claims the traitor momentarily, the air purged with righteous fury.

From the flames steps a figures still standing, stinking of burnt meat and fury. A chainblade bites deep as it punches through the protesting power armour, then the plague flows once more.  It is the Xenos that saves him.  With a roar of joy Wartsnagger lifts the plague marine high above its head smashing him down with a mighty body slam that shakes the decks.  Without a pause it leaps upon the prone marine, pinning him to the decks with its xenos strength.  Bolt rounds and power axe come quick in to claim blood and spores from the prone victim hoping to end this before he can stand once more.

Despite the immense damage inflicted the plague marine does not even slow, gurgling with laughter it throws the Xenos off him before grabbing it in vengeance, power servo assisted arms piling the ork upon his knee with a  punishing back breaker slam. “Die Xenos filth”  The ork but smiles toothily as it drags itself from the point of impact.

Recovered enough to unsling the sun rifle from his back, Xanatov renters the fray.  The decks fill with a hail of deadly xenos light that burns all it touches. Both the Ork and Marine disappear beneath its light, but are still standing, singed but still fighting as the light fades. “All is suffering is transitory” comes the unholy gurgle, horrors scuttling across his flesh to mend his wounds.

Tossing the ork to one side the Plague Marine turns once more on Xanatov, opening up with a rattle of bolter shells.  A single shell finds the weaving Lord Captain, but even that is plucked from the air by his shimmering Eldar powerfield. “Xenophile” snarls the Plague Marine.

A grind of protesting metal fills the air as the hanger bay doors swing open to the void, revealing the huge bulk of the Fury Interceptor.  The all points broadcast for help has found Pandareos ears, and he has brought the boys to play.  The Plague Marine shambles, lifting its bolter to aim at the head of the void born in the pilot seat. “Holy throne what the hell is that” Pandareos mutters, fumbling for the targeting controls “Aight, smile for the lascannon whateverthethrone you are”  The marine gets off a single shot before the air fills with lascannon fire. With even this onslaught it nearly evades, its weaves between shot after shot. One however finds its mark, centred upon the abominations skull.

The fury and endurance of a traitor of centuries of service proves to be nothing before the impact of an anti tank lascannon.  The shot burns through several bulkheads after evaporating the skull and the vast majority of the upper body. Turning to Alala he smiles “Hey we just saved a space marine. If you want to repay me I can think of several ways”  The response is icy to say the least

The battle done the ork turns to leave “Good fight” it says to Aviner, who recoils with shame at his part in the battle. Remembering the fallen Victrix he hurries over. . “Did we win” she splutters, coughing blood over the ruined deck.  Nemiel lifts his weapon, sighting at the back of the leaving ork. Xanatov quickly barks an order “You will not kill it. It’s mine”.  Unable to countermand the Rogue Trader’s order the marine just growls “Heretic” before storming out.

Things still for a moment before Pandareos speaks again “aight. I  Killed it. Anyone mind telling me what the throaning hell it was”

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