Written by alcoholandaphorism
This is it. Upon the Dread Pearl the ragged remains of the crew of the ”Vengeance Of Saint Drusus” stand. Their allies for the most part fled or dead. Their enemies numerous. Surrounded by the remains of Eldar culture upon this planet, remains they have found not as inactive as first thought.
Thus they stand. Surrounded by legions of wraithguard, Waves of bone and weapons of death. Beyond that three Eldar Warlocks, bodyguards for the one who struck down the Fury Interceptor with but the warp power of his mind, The Farseer.
The stalwart defenders do have one set of allies who have not deserted them. From the heavens above, into the waves of Wraithguard have plunged a small band of power armoured sacred madmen of war. The Space Marines, Willing to sell their lives as expensively as they can so the Rogue Trader Xanatov and his crew can avert the coming disaster.
The skies are torn by the coming warp storm. The Farseer, hovering above the ground, calls it, willing to sacrifice the planet, lost another eternity rather than have it fall to the coming tides of chaos. The trio of warlocks pray around him, calling for the elder god to scourge these mon keys from the pure land. Warp fire flickers, and searches for victims.
In the heavens, even above the warp storms. The Bishop Of Xothos sits upon his craft. He has promised his prodigy’s Xanatovs soul to his dark masters, and the souls of all he commands. As the time comes close, he knows soon his wayward son will return to the chaos gods hands. It shall be, how shall he put it? exquisite.
But that exquisite moment is not now. Now Lord Captain Xanatov screams into the vox communicators, trying to find sign of life from Pandareos, The Void Master caught up in the crashed Fury Interceptor. Now Tech Priest Aviner drags himself towards the Farseers forces, his love for the xenos oddities burned away by the rage of the loss of his beloved Sente. Now Navigator Lucius rushes forwards under hails of xenos fire. Running towards the Fury, seeking to drag his comrade from the wreckage. Now, miles a way a Xenos Ork tinkers with a Aquilla Lander, readying it for battle. Now Astropath Victrix feels the force of chaos rising around them, a mix of ecstasy and torment. Now there is only war
Amongst the waves of chaos Victrix recognises a mind, in agony but alive. “Pandareos is alive” she shouts before joining the rush for the Fury Interceptor.
The Battle Brothers of the space marines cover them. One’s Plasma Cannon releases a discharge that engulfs a wave, The Dreadnaught warrior tomb lifts its assault cannon, spitting death, tearing rock, wraithguard, tree and limb to shreds. Even with such firepower they must fall back, the mass of wraithguard against them too much even for the astartes.
As Victrix and Lucius barrel towards the crashed Fury several Wraithguard that have passed the Marines’ cordon close in upon them. With a snarl Victrix readies her force rod, vaulting the wreckage of the Fury and brings the rod down upon her victim. The wraithbone buckles, burns and then vaporises before her psychic rage. Head down and muttering battle prayers Lucius pops off short bursts as he skids to a halt by the Fury’s broken entrance hatch.
Inside, Pandareos drifts in and out of consciousness, barely aware of the wraithguard that have entered the craft. In a fragile burst of clarity his arm snaps out wrapping the stolen Eldar grav belt around the leg of the nearest wraithguard and activating it. As the two slam into the ceiling the other wraithguard open fire, vaporising the caught wraithguard as Pandareos uses it for cover. Dropping once more to the ground two bolt pistols flick to Pandaroes hands and the holy bolter shells fell another wraithguard before he hits the ground with a dull thump.
From a carefully selected vantage point Xanatov watches the battle through the sights of a long las, A burst of fire causes him to throw himself from his rapidly depleted cover. Rolling across the ground he recovers his aim and a bolt of deadly light transfixes the wraithguard that fired upon him. The situation worsens quickly though, with the crew finding themselves amidst deathly crossfire. The mere intervention of that harlot fate is what keeps them bruised and bleeding rather than dead.
Inside the Fury, Pandareos tries to rise once more, but is thrown flying by the intact wraithgaurd which tosses him effortlessly against the craft’s walls. As he tries to shake off the haze in his mind Pandaroes becomes aware of a shimmering barrel rising towards him with the promise of death within.
The sound of bolt shells bark again, the Wraithguard cast down, broken. Blinking Panareos sees Lucius, pistol still smoking, standing over him. “On your feet soldier” Lucius says, dragging the deafened Pandareos to his feet. Resisting Lucius attempts to get him to the exit, Pandareos instead points to the front of the craft. The Lascannons are still active. The staggering twosome come across the cockpit, but within another wraithbone warrior waits.
Pandaroes spies the Player’s guitar upon the ground. The dead Fury crew whisper for vengeance as he brings the instrument round into the Xenos filths torso. Falling from the exertion his two pistols are drawn again, and the Xenos is torn by point blank bolter fire.
Shaking his head at the madman, Lucius drags the nigh insensible Pandaroes to the cockpit seat, popping off suppressive bursts to cover their passage. Once slumped into the seat, Pandareos is roused by the shattering of a Wraithguard hurled upon the viewscreen. Victrix and her bionically enhances limbs has claimed another victim.
Several more of the Xenos horde attempting to enter the craft but are cut off at the pass by the charging Victrix. A torn off panel of the craft used as a shield from the wraithguard fire, she charges into the midst of the enemy and there the force rod soon cuts them down. Finally back in sniping position Xanatov pushes back the wraithguard warriors, picking off select soldiers to slow their advance on the Fury. Aviner find himself set upon by more wraithguard, trying to block his journey. From his memory banks he brings the moment of Sentes death. By the time the memory fades once more he stands over two broken wraithguards shells, power axe in hand. His slow journey commences once more
The battlefield changes once more, a blizzard blots out the warp storm above. From beside the marine rune priest two wolves of Fenris step, ready to test their teeth upon wraithbone. Even with this aid the battle goes badly. The dreadnaught, finding itself nigh exclusively the target for incoming fire, rages as its armour melts and vanishes against their unearthly weapons. A maddened roar rises from the Dreadnaught as it fights against the tide. Still the line holds.
Pandareos swigs from a bottle lifted from the floor of the Fury, but finds nothing but air. He glares through the bottle’s shattered base. With a curse he flicks the weapons systems online and the lascannons speak, picking off the Wraithguard with chained destruction.
Seeing the battle turn the Farseer pauses “Slow the humans” it says. Three blades draw as one, and three warlocks bow. Almost stepping between moments they flip towards the approaching Aviner, their blades seeking to separate his head from his body. As the Eldar leap towards across the wrecked architecture Aviner pauses to look at the oil that has been spilling from his wounds, oil soaking into the surroundings. The mere touch of his power axe sends up a blaze around him. Afire but unbowed Aviner steps towards the Warlocks who flick away from his fiery grasp.
As the Eldar come around for another attack they sense Xanatov lining up long las shots upon them and the Lucius readied pistols. With a burst of speed flicker away once more, giving ground but slowly. Their witchblades come before any shots they cannot evade.
In the distance Pandareos drags himself from the Fury, a bolt pistol in hand, but not his own. With a prayer of vengeance Pandareos lifts the fallen Alalah’s bolt pistol and lets a round fly at the hated Eldar. Waving fate the Eldar redirect the shell instead for Aviner who bare notices as the shell burns up against his metal hide.
The battles momentum halts as the figures exchange bolts and blades, unable to find a chink in the others defences. Victrix probes at the alien minds trying to find a weakness to disrupt their unity. Unaware that Pandareos has been deafened Lucius shouts a warning for him to not approach too close. In response a barrier of energy throws the earth skyward and the through this hail of dirt and single warlock tumbles, its blade impaling Aviner to the ground through his knee.
Rising their psychic energy once more the Warlocks throw the near Rhino weight Aviner flying with but their minds. A trench digs through the ground as the Tech Priest crushes through it, tumbling towards his team mates on a collision course.
Leaping over the tumbling tech priest, Pandareos is met in mid air by an elder that cuts deep into his flesh as it passes him by. The victory cry of the Eldar is cut short as before it can touch the ground it finds itself caught upon the axe of the rising Aviner. With a flick of his bionic arm the tech priest slams the Warlock to the ground, severing it in twain.
Amongst the balefire of the psyhic conflict between the surviving warlocks and Victrix, Xanatov strides screaming litanies of hate. A warlock looks almost surprised as the bolt shells dig into its flesh. The expression is short lived as the exploding shells tear it to chunks.
The last warlock screams, charging through a hail of bolter fire, deflecting round after round as she closes to slice her blade through Xanatovs skull. Losing a chunk of flesh but saving his life with a slide into the recently torn trench, Xanatov is met with the unexpected sight of the Eldars stalled charge. The figure collapses and thrashes on the ground until finally it breaks its own back from the efforts. Victrix smiles. The xenos mind was no match for one who has been touched by the emperor.
There is one left between them and their goal. The Farseer. In the darkness Lucius slowly removes his hat, his third eye visible for the first time. It has come to this, to unleashing the gift that has cursed him.
The time is nearly spent. The dreadnought, a mass of ruptured servos and rage finally succumbs. In its death it unleashes a small mushroom cloud, taking the enemy even in death. Thunder hammer lost, arms shattered, a battle brother launches himself into the air, the jump pack rising it above the battlefield before plunging back down, crushing the enemy with the weight of his body alone. He is rewarded with attention of one, two then twenty beams of light as he is torn apart.
Floating down from his plinth the Farseer looks with sorrow at the fate of his disciples. The temperature falls, static builds to lightning and a psychic storm comes to cleans all that would face him. Xanatov barely reaches cover as bolts of lightning hunt where he stands. As Victix tries to reach into the Farseers mind it utters a single world, crushing her soul.
Then in the darkness Lucius steps out from cover, thin grey hair never seen before now visible, his three eyes looking directly at the farseer, holding him in place with the dread power of his gaze. The farseer lets the energies of the spirit stones flood through him, making him not just one mind but a multitude and in that moment casts the energies back at Lucuis sending him reeling.
A blast from Pandareos duelling pistol is met with a wall of earth, billowing out from the Farseer, seeing to bury all within. Barely noticing the earth, Aviner pushes through to set upon the Farseer. Now the focus of the Eldars hate, Aviner feels as entropy breaks down his mechanisms workings, grinding him to a halt. For long moments the servants of the emperor try to find an opening but are rebuffed, their firepower coming to nothing.
Then, a dot in the sky, which becomes soon visible as an aquilla lander on erratic trajectory towards them. The ork Wartsnagger “encouraging” the crew to plunge it faster down towards the earth. When they complain the ork uses one mighty fist to snap the ‘umies neck and take over piloting itself, plunging the craft down on a suicide dive towards the weakling Eldar.
The craft smashes and tumbles,masonry crumbling in its wake. As calm as ever the Eldar Farseer lands upon it having leapt from its path, broken machinery falling around it like cherry blossom. For a moment the Farseer pauses, its serenity broken as it touches a wound at its side. Its blood turns to crystal as it realises it did not escape entirely unharmed.
Power roars from the Eldar, shards of metal tossed from the centre, caught in a psychic storm. Victrix recoils, and Lucius sags to his knees as they try to break through this mind of iron. The Ork crawls from the wreckage muttering “Right lets be having you”.
Amongst the carnage Xanatov smiles, bringing out a remote detonator.”Just as planned” he says. He pauses staggering back, a shard of metal dug deep through his gut. Collapsing to the ground, as unconsciousness takes him his thumb presses down and the lander explodes, piles of explosives secreted there weeks ago turn it from wreckage into a deadly weapon.
As the first explosions break out Aviner recognises now why Xanatov had asked for some strange items to be left upon the craft. His mechanical form near inactive from multiple lighting strikes running through him Aviner activates magnetic field generators left within the craft, turning the exploding lander into a storm of lethal shards. Then too he falls before the powers running through him.
The rest scatter for cover as the landscape is turned to death-trap,and as the lethal energies fade, nothing is seen of the Farseer but scraps. For all the cost, they have come to victory. Or so it seems.
The warp storm has not faded, now powered by something else. Upon his starship, the perverted Bishop Of Xothos sits smiling. He has sensed his pupils Xanatovs fall, his nigh fatal wound, he cannot escape now. All is in place. Throughout the ship orgiastic sacrifices to the patron god Slanesh continue. The warp storm opening and writhing in response. On the planet below the final space marines fall before the wraithguard and the sacrifices are complete.
The planet screams, The wraith guard collapse before a psychic shock wave and the warp is loosed upon this world. Keepers of Secrets, deamons beyond any imaginable power step forth and feast upon the precious soulstones of this world. The Eldar weep bitter tears as the great enemy stands triumphant again. The human population break, driven mad before abominations.
In the ruined temple however, battered bleeding and unconscious Xanatov still breaths. In the captured temple the crew see a web way gate, flickering in and out of activation, a blue sky visible on the other side. The final escape, the final plan of the Eldar they had just vanquished. As the world turns to hell around them Wartsnagger toils without fear on the fallen tech priest, bringing his systems back to some semblance of working. Waking up to the sight of hell Aviner says “Thank you Mr Wartsnagger” and looks to the approaching hoard. His sanity recoils before it and he turns instead to the fallen Xanatov.
Picking his lord captain up in his mechanical arms Aviner says “It should have been Gabriel here to do this for you, but in his absence I shall do my best to live up to his memory”. With that he steps towards the gate, taking his lord captain to safety. The rest of the crew cover them, falling back through the gate, Lucius muttering in fear “No, not again, not again”. He can sense the planet being dragged away into the warp storm. Mere moments remain.
“Move it three eyes” Pandareos shouts “I dont have enough ammunition to kill them all”. Pandaroes bluster undercut by the fear in his eyes. These are things that bullets cannot kill and faith cannot hold. Even the ork joins, if slightly indifferently as they fall back through the gate away from the gem that is now a nightmare.
A moment of dislocation and they are gone. High above the Bishop of Xothos feels the change, the central sacrifice is gone. So close to his goal he screams as his ship is dragged with the world into the warp, to answer to his displeased masters. Then there is nothing. No planet, no craft, no sign of the other rogue traders. Nothing.
Years later the remaining crew of the Saint Drusus are found, upon an idyllic world. Seed planet 665C. A planet once the Eldars. Amongst endless fields are pure sees they have waited, unable to leave without a spacecraft to bear them. It is a planet barred by Inquisitorial decree. A decree that matters little to the Rogue Traders it seems. Word of the battle of the Dread Pearls has filtered back to the Colexis Sector and Xanatov and his ragged band are held as Imperial Heroes for their part. Now, the planet may have been lost, and the inquisitors are less that pleased with the Xenos Orks presence, but despite all setbacks Xanatov smiles. Fame, and prestige. He can turn that into fortune. His dynasty will rise again, born upon the waves of accolades this had brought. Just another day for a Rogue Trader.
Miles away, where the Dread Pearl once floated a single craft, hulked and ruined, floats once more, A cursed craft, a craft even the warp released so that it could return to its master, so it could torture and claim the souls that fly within it once more.
The craft, the “Vengeance Of the Saint Drusus” Floats in space awaiting its master, and its cursed crew once more.
Everything has an ending, but for the sufferings of the crew of the Saint Drusus this is not that day.