Rogue Trader: S2 EP26: An Angel Falls.
The Vengeance of Saint Drusus falls. Bodies float charred or frozen in zero G. Data shrines shriek psalms of alarm, demanding soothing. None shall come, the ship is dying. The enginarium, its plasma batteries fading, is still shuddering from the direct strike of a lance battery.
Sente and Aviner are within this dying hall of holy machinery. Flames roar and girders fall from the spires. At the last moment Sente’s arms jerks up, catching the collapsing girder in her bionic limbs. The immense strength keeping it above her head. The deck plate is not so strong though and in a moment she is gone, the deck ruptured below her spilling her to the falls below. Ignoring the danger Aviner rushes to where she once was. His body, more machine than flesh, has little difficulty in tossing the beam aside and exposing the hole. Below his beloved Sente hangs, one arm mangled, useless. The other, though cracking, grasps determined at the dangling cables. The way up exposed, Sente pulls her body up hoisting her legs over and dragging herself to safety once more. Face pale she looks at Aviner, and in a moment regret, a coldness and relief pass between them, then she says “Thank you, I did not want my mechanisms turned off so soon”. Replying Aviner says “I hear too many machines screams, I could not stand to add yours. We need to leave, we cannot save this ship now”
The ork, Wartsnagger knows that the puny umies are dead, the ship is dying too. Over the vox it says “Oi, oos still out there?”. Aviner hearing this sets a sub process to communicate with the intriguing Xenos “Greetings Mister Wartsnagger. We have to evacuate I’m afraid. We are making our way to meet in the hanger bay. Is that understood?” “Head for the ships” comes the reply. “Succinctly put”.
Little slows the ork as it makes its way across the length of the ship. Through ruined corridors and exposed void it strides. Out in the void it can see below the pretty green pearl planet, too pretty, needs some smoke and metal. Around the ship is a halo of corpses. Time is short as the ship spins down towards the planet. The ork walks on.
On the bridge Captain Pandareos and Head Navigator Lucius have put down the mutineers, for the bridge at least, but the flames still roar through the bridge. It is time to leave. Pulling the command baton from the damaged command throne Pandareos addresses the crew “Aight, we need to move now. Lord Captains picking us up. Anyone who goes against us, kill. Trust me, stay by my side. There could be atomics strapped to this ship by the other side and it is still safer to not cross me”. Lucius jumps down, two pistols drawn and fires in his eyes. “Lets go” he says.
Some of the crew resist, they are wounded, they will just slow them down they say. Spitting fire Pandareos answers “Lists, there’s mutineers out there, they spit in the emperors eye. Let’s at least take some down with us!” The journey is eventful, but little can stop the determined crew. Both Lucius and Pandareos are used to broken and zero g environments. Twisting and leaping they make short work of the mutineers on their way.
They are stopped however, mere meters from their destination. A guardsmen’s body lieq on the floor. Riddled with bullets. Behind a barricades stomps the mass of a “liberated” sentinel walker, drum fed auto-cannon ready to hail death. The few loyal crew pinned to the cover as bullets burst overhead. From the corridor the mutineers can suddenly be heard shouting ”Oh no, not again, not again” A shock wave buffets the corridor, then everything is still. Peaking out from behind their cover the crew see Gabriel, a massive mix of machine and solider, melta bombs cradled in his arms ” For the emperor for the lord captain, this way” he says. Pandareos smiles “If ye weren’t metal I could kiss ya. I’ve never been so happy to see your metal muscles” “Likewise.” comes the reply. Shortly they are at their destination, the hanger bay. Stern waits there, arm in a sling and power sword by his side “By the emperors golden balls” he says ”I could kiss the lot of you”. Pandareos laughs “We are in a kissing mood aren’t we, sure we couldn’t arrange an orgy before we go? It would only take five…ahem..fifteen minutes” Stern smiles “There’s something in the air”. As an enraged father Kaustic, flamer in hand, struggles against the crew attempting to sedate him, the rest of the crew prepare to board the evacuation craft.
Just as the crew are ready to go an explosion tears through the walls, and an enraged ork stomps in. With massive strides it heads for the Fury Interceptor only to find itself staring down the barrel of a lascannon “Take the other ship Xenos filth” Pandareos says. The ork stares angrily for a long time then mutters” I’ll deal with you later umie” and stomps towards the other craft. Gabriel confronts the enraged ork “Listen, you harm any of my men and I’ll have your head. Understood?”
When the ships are full Stern looks to Gabriel and says “There isn’t much room left in there, what are you going to do?” Gabriel pauses then says “The servitors are gone. I’ve got no choice. I’ll have to stay, hold the doors open. Tell the lord captain, tell him I died for him. Tell him I died well honouring him”. Stern nods then says ”You never did tell him how you felt, did you lad”. Gabriel says “I didn’t need to. He rescued me from nothingness”
With that Gabriel storms to the heavy hanger bay doors, wrapping the chain around his bionic frame and pulls. A scream fills the air as he drags the doors open, his synthetic muscles tearing, but the doors open. “A brave man died here today. Get a move on!” Stern shouts and the craft head out to the void. As they pass they see Gabriel, battered and torn by the debris that smashes past him, the atmosphere venting. The last thing heard before his form is torn asunder is a single vox “Fight. For the emperor”. Aboard the Fury Pandareos mutters “One of yours is coming emperor. Give ‘im something to fight when he gets there”
Just as the craft is about to depart as single vox is picked up from the surface of the Saint Drusus. Sente and Aviner, mag locked to its surface walk in the void. They have heard the death screams of Gabriel’s machine spirits and are very quiet as the ship heads back to retrieve them. A hero fell today.
Unaware of what has just happened Rogue Trader Xanatov sits upon the command throne of the Sword Of Scintilla, his bionic hand digging into it as he watches the Saint Drusus engulfed in flame, falling through the planets atmosphere. He feels helpless, his rage barely contained. He should be doing something. Somehow the Saint Drusus is still intact as it hits the ocean with an impact visible from orbit. On the auspex population centres vanish one by one as six hundred metre high walls of water crush them.
As the arriving crew, the escapees from the Saint Drusus, disembark, the rumours are already flying around the ship. That seneschal Godwin Blake is somehow upon the ship, that there have been unconfirmed sighting of Provost Achillias. That the ork has stomped forwards in a rage, wishing to kill whoever did this.
What happens now on the bridge is no mere rumour though. Aviner, Pandareos and Lucius approach the lord captain. In an usual show of respect for the chain of command Pandareos steps forwards, bowed on one knee, the command baton extended to Xanatov. Xanatov instantly knows something is very wrong. Slowly he looks from Aviner to Lucius before taking the rod. Aviner speaks up next “Lord Captain. Old friend. We brought those we could with us, but not everyone made it”. Xanatov’s voice cracks slightly as he asks “Who didn’t make it?”. Silence answers. Smashing his bionic hand through the command throne Xanatov shouts “Tell me!”. Lucius finally answers “We tried to save who we could, but I’m afraid Gabriel did not make it out”. Darkness washes over Xanatov’s features. He turns away from the crew, staring through the vista panel. Pandareos speaks up “He did his duty to the end. Saved me. Saved all of us”. Xanatov says “I am not surprised. Usually he found a way out as well”. Pandareos answers” Luck runs out eventually for all of us”.
After most of the crew has left there is a new entrant. A raging Xenos barrels its way into the room. Wartsnagger slams the vox operator against the wall, snatching the vox up and broadcasting to Basteels ship., “Oi umies. Shut you mouth”. There is a moments pause then Basteel can be heard “It seems the late lord captains Xenos is still at large and thinks it can address its betters. Set the fleet to track down it’ craft and…”.
“NOW LISTEN ‘ERE” the ork interrupts “You destroyed my workshop, you killed my grot. I is going to unt you don’t and smash your teeth in. You. Me Ere!.
Basteel answers “Foul Xenos beast. I broke your master and I shall break you. Face my fleet, or better yet. Face me on the planet and I will end you”. “GETTING SMUG ARE YOU” bellows Wartsnagger “Ill smash ya” Wartsnagger smashes the vox down, breaking it from the wall. Xanatov stares at the scene. As does the bridge crew and all else present. Xanatov gestures for the ork to step back then waves in a replacement vox operator “Check the vox isn’t working. We need to maintain radio silence now. Concentrate on this and this alone for your own safety and sanity” To the ork he says “Go to the cargo bay. We will find a way for you to meet this gentleman” As the ork stomps off Xanatov smiles. He is thought dead and the Xenos is the perfect bait.
Next up Xanatov needs to see to the surviving troops. A rag tag bunch, rough tents set up to house them, a pale and haunted Stern sat in the midst. “My lord I’m sorry” Stern says. “Its ok” Xanatov answers, laying his hand upon Sterns shoulder. “No it’s not. That bastards out there. Claiming your stake all high and mighty. I want his bastard head on a bastard plate”. Xanatov nods “You won’t find a man on this ship who doesn’t want the same thing” Sterns growls “then we make him last. We take him and we make him know pain. It won’t be clean”. To the remaining survivors Xanatov offers a choice, to stand up in his name and be elevated. To take down Basteel. Not a man says no. “You need rest” Stern says. “I can do it later, after all I’m dead” Xanatov answers.
The Sword Of Scintilla moves to the cover of the dark side of the planet under Pandareos command. Basteel’s fleet some to be covering all exit points but does not catch them. Victrix pauses, a mind brushes across the void to greet her. A familiar mind. Rune Priest Sigurd. Blazing in eldritch light, raven on his shoulder the rune priest greets her “Witch. Well met.” Unable to keep the surprise from her voice Victrix answers “You are an unexpected visitor at this hour”. She sees the image of his grin “Aye lass, a surprise to a lot of people. We have drawn the beast out and you played you’re part in that for which I thank you. I have foreseen. Things are going to get a lot bloodier, so I have pledged my battle brothers to your aid. Don’t mind the ork. Much as we don’t approve of the Xenos, we know it is in your remit. That was a ruse to draw out the beast.” Suddenly understanding Victrix answer “I know who you are here for!” ”Yes” answers the Rune Priest “Do not speak his name. When Achilles spoke to me he told me that he had found this traitor and we shall deal with him. We have found one of the greatest enemies of mankind wearing the cloth of sanctity. The emperors sword will be unsheathed today and it will taste blood. We have beside us angels of death even more special than ourselves. You will not know them; they are paladins against the demonic. The grey knights. There are ancient secrets here that you will need to tame. An army of dead shall rise. The oath of purity will be at the edge of the system but there is a mind down there that will make even our formidable skills seem like a candle before a hurricane. It will be up to you.” Victrix affirms the lord captains dedication before the rune priest continues “Feckward was just a worm we needed to let loose to draw out greater prey. Add him to the list to be purged. “The list is getting longer and longer” Victrix smiles. Breaking communication she opens the vox “Get me the Lord Captain”
Elsewhere wondering out loud Xanatov says “I wonder if Blake is around”. “I will never surprise you will I?” Blake says from directly behind him. Turning Xanatov tells him not to underestimate himself. Blake seems to be limping slightly, a memento from his escape from the mutineers of the Saint Drusus. Knowing the matter at hand needs resolving quickly he puts out a polite message to all senior crew “requesting” their presence. Deep in the holds the Ork Wartsnagger ignores the request, fuming with rage. A second message comes “Show up ere if you think your ard enough”. Still no answer. Finally Xanatov messages a last time “We are working out how to kill Basteel”. Wartsnaggers head snaps up “Ya know where he is?”. The vox falls silent as the Xenos sets off.
As the group gather fires burn on the planet below. Basteel’s soldiers landing on mass, preparing to conquer. Watching it all Pandraoes calls up an auspex scan. “The last time we did a planet landing like this it ended up a Xenos hell, may be worth watching. See what they run into” Victrix comments “No doubt. The Astartes have alerted me to such a thing”. With slightly confused expression Pandareos says “Erm, hold on, don’t they throaning hate us?”. “We’ve been hoodwinked” Victrix explains, then passes on the message the Astartes gave her. Once she is done Xanatov steps in, for his part explaining the nature of the Bishop of Xothos “ “Simply I believe the astartes are here to deal with the bigger threat. We are going down there and we will take the head of Basteel and whatever awaits for us down there”
The conversation is broken by a massive crash as Warstnagger crushed through the door. In his rage he has grown even larger than before, maybe seven feet fall. Sat below his bulk Pandareos lights a lohstick nonchalantly. Xanatov greets the Xenos “Hmm, are you taller than when we last met. Welcome to the party Wartsnagger. We were talking about how to kill Basteel. You are going down to the planet to draw him out. Think you can do enough to personally draw his attention?” “Ill kill anything that gets in my way” the hulking ork replies. After the beast has stomped out once more Xanatov says “The day that thing stops listening to my orders is the day we need to kill it” Pandareos’ hand shoots into the air “I Volunteer”. “There is not one who would not” Xanatov answers “Yeah , that’s why I volunteered quickly” Pandareos grins. “Whoever wrote that thing into our writ has a lot to answer for” Xanatov muses.
As Aviner volunteers to accompany the Ork down to the planet, Pandareos suddenly realises the ork is heading down to the hanger bay. Down to where the Fury interceptor is held. In a sudden burst of speed he launches himself headlong into the corridor, intend on stopping the creature before its steals his beloved craft.
He is right to fear. As he walks into the hanger bay, he sees Wartsnagger, blow torch in hand attempting to remove a lascannon from the craft. Flicking the safeties off his bolt pistols Pandareos shouts “Oi, Xenos, wrong craft”. The blow torch flares “Spoil ma fun” Wartsnagger replies. “Listen Xenos, ya get first shot at Bastell. Ya want to steal my toys as well?”. “Upgrading” the ork replies, rising to walk slowly towards Pandaroes. “Wrong ship” Pandareos shouts, indicating towards the lander with his bolt pistol.” . “We’re going down now?” Wartsnagger asks. “Ya go down there., ya take a shot at Basteel. “ Pandareos pauses, “You don’t follow a word I say do you, dammit I don’t speak Xenos filth”. “Yeah, stomp the umie, then come back to stomp you” Wartsnagger says. “Finally a breakthrough in Xenos Human hatred” Pandareos cheers. “Don’t mock me umie. Its dangerous for your health” Wartsnagger says, waving his massive shoota at Pandareos. Pandareos shrugs “what, ya gunna hate me more?”
As they prepare to head down a message comes across the vox “Ere we go, were go, where the waaaugh?”. Recognising the grots voice Xanatov smiles. He knows where Basteel will strike now.
The aquilla lander heads out first, primed with a kill team of soldiers. Wartsnagger, Sent and Aviner are alone on a second craft, the bait. Pandareos and his motley crew take the Fury Interceptor for air support. As the crafts speed down they see the planet, still badly damaged, but already Eldar sorceries tied into the planet work to heal it. A sense of peace washes across the crew. Well most of the crew, Wartsnagger feels the undeniable urge to burn and destroy the whole planet”
As the craft burn through the atmosphere the vox message is picked up again “Ere we go Ere We go. WAAAAAUGH. WAAAUGH” Wartsnagger greets them “All right boss is coming. We got stomping to do”. The grot, cheered by hearing his boss says “ere boss, we managed to steal half your gear and loot. There umies here bit there all a bit poncy. Nasher ate half of them”.
On the main craft Xanatov and Stern look over the maps of the planer consulting on kill zones and preparations. A strange pulse indicates that beneath the waves the Vengance Of the Saint Drusus somehow still operates., broken, blazing, but still barely intact. From his position alongside the Xenos Aviner tries to weave soothing machine psalms, telling the ship to conserve its energy until it is needed. The psalms are interrupted as planet side another village disappears from a lance of fire from the sky. Basteel continues his deadly bombardment.
Quickly the lander wartsnagger is in comes to halt alongside the crashed escape pod. The pod is now scavenged to form a rough workshop. Around this the grot is fleeing as a ball of teeth and rage chases it. The huge fungoid thing mewls pitifully as it seems Wartsnagger disembark, then sets itself upon the Argos Lander, trying to chew through its hull. Wartsnagger pets it on the head. As the thing sees Aviner it leap forwards, trying in vain to chew through his metallic flesh. Sente holds her bolt pistols trained on it at all times as Aviner tried to gently prise it from his leg.
When Sente finally disembarks she shivers. As Aviner joins her he quickly realises why. There is no ceiling here. No tech. No civilisation. It is all open and green. Checking his sensors, Aviner can find no appropriate ceiling for hundred of miles. A shiver of binary squealing escapes his mouth before he calms himself once more. In the distance the troops disperse from The Aquilla Lander, running to position. Pandareos keeps the Fury at a distance, not willing to give the ambush away quite yet.
Examining the area Victrix comes across scattered white stones. Artistically crafted by exquisite beings. Following them she finds a small glade, a beam of sunlight shining through onto a vine wrapped column. A wraithbone statue of some unknown goddess below it.
Victrix, and in the distance Lucius can sense easily an emanation, a psychic aura. Crouching Victrix spies a delicate sword, obviously Eldar crafted, lying at the base of the statue. Xanatov joining her tries to lift it and his mind fills with ancient sadness. Feels himself as an invader to this world. The blade and this world rejects him. Screaming he collapses, weak as a newborn, feelings of self loathing running through him. To Victrix blind eyes she sees an ethereal Eldar spirit bound to the sword. She sees it look with disgust at the mon key that has sullied this world. Lucius responding to the scream arrives just in time to see Victrix try to raise the blade, collapsing herself before its hatred of her presence. The watching spirit weeps at their presence.
Then the shooting starts.