Hope I'm not too late....
Heresy Online Expeditious Stories 12-05
The Faith in the Goldpipes
The Space Marine frigate had suffered- and almost withstood- a lot of punishment in the preceding engagement. The Tyranid fleet had been traveling to Yetra, a vital agri-world whose loss would have caused a sector-wide famine; the Imperial Navy had barely caught up with the xenos, and that only because their path had slowed down in this black hole’s vicinity. So the Navy had come, at maximum speed, to intercept the splinter fleet.
The Imperium had won- but only after a difficult battle, despite the element of surprise and the brilliant tactics the admirals had constructed with the singularity. And that had proven fatal. The Jubilant Saint
’s engines had failed as it entered the Warp, and the Gellar field- its generators damaged in the fighting- had failed in the same moment. There was an explosion, rendering the Faith in the Goldpipes
inoperable, and now- as the ship streaked towards Singularity 97-45.7 alongside debris- a full-scale daemonic incursion had erupted into the ship.
“Black Dragons, to me!” Idrann bellowed to his squad, spread out across the ship’s bridge as they unleashed fire and fury onto their daemonic enemy. That, at least, was real- Space Marines were meant to be transhuman, but often enough Idrann found himself admiring the Imperial Guard more than Chapters like the cold Ultramarines or the robotic Iron Hands. Perhaps it was simply the Black Dragons’ heritage.
Carapaces of pink and light blue charged at the Space Marines; the Black Dragons fought back, crushing the light- fragile, really- abominations without much difficulty. Yet in the clang of battle, though none of his brothers had fallen yet, Idrann could see the daemons’ attacks did have an effect; and their sheer numbers were overwhelming.
Squad Idrann made their way to their leader, scales on edge. There were humans with them too, Idrann noted with some surprise; apparently some of the bridge crew had survived the incursion. United, they presented a significantly harder position to assault; as his brothers attacked with sword and claw (a peculiar mutation caused bony outgrowths on the Black Dragons’ bodies), Idrann felt himself almost relax. He was at his brothers’ side now; proud Hutraan, rash Quattu, analytical Zirtrial…
“Brother-Sergeant?” Zirtrial called from his position, next to the illuminator.
“We’re crossing the event horizon.” Anger, previously barely held in, exploded over Zirtrial’s face. “We’re doomed.”
Idrann risked a glance out the window- his guards was better than most of his squadmates’, so the distraction would be safe. Indeed, from ahead, no more light could be seen. Only the ships to the back and side were still visible, sinewed and shining raindrops in a rain of fire, splattering into an all-consuming maw. The horizon was coming up.
He felt it soon after- the indoctrination had claimed it would be intangible, but it was not like anyone could check. It was a cold, compressive sensation spread out across his superhuman frame.
“The ship will hold out for a while,” one of the crew members offered, “but not forever.”
The battle, at least, was over. The Black Dragons had won. Of the Warp-spawn, only dust remained.
And then, it
entered. It was impossible to look at it long enough to determine its form; its lilac radiance banished all such attempts. It could probably shift whatever it was anyhow.
Quattu tensed as soon as he saw it, the Black Dragons’ trademark anger fully directed at the arch-abomination for no apparent reason beyond its hostile nature. He leapt at the daemon-prince, and Idrann had to follow. The pearly deck of the bridge flashed below his tumbling feet, and then there was no more deck, only the slime-drool the daemon-prince had exuded. Behind, the remaining seven members of his squad followed up the charge. Still, the daemon-prince was impossibly strong, bursting with energy not of this world. It batted Quattu aside.
Idrann rammed his blade into the daemon’s surface. It reached out with its horrible light, weeping in injury- but it was not the cry of the weak. A claw holding a sword of its own emerged from the formless space, parrying Idrann’s blows.
Still, it could not keep its attention everywhere at once. Even as Idrann hit again and again, blade crackling, eyes rubies of malice, pressing the attack, scoring hit after hit, his peripheral vision witnessed Hutraan within the light’s center, surrounded by impossible hands and weapons. Hutraan had always been good with the blade, but in those moments he was divine; adamantium and bone meshed with metal and blood, and the demon wailed, this time from true pain. It cracked within itself, though, crushing Hutraan even as eight pairs of gauntlets crushed it in turn.
Hutraan died silently, but the fury was there until the end. Logically, it should have been impossible for him to have been visible, unless the daemon was transparent; Idrann remembered from his indoctrination, though, that logic had nothing to do with the Warp.
The daemon, under silent assault, snickered.
“You think you have won? This ship will fall apart in the singularity; I can merely continue my conquests!”
In a moment, a gate stood on the bridge, directly across the daemon from Idrann. The cloud-white fields of Yetra glistened on the other side.
“Get into there!” Zertrial screamed.
“And don’t let the daemon follow you!” Idrann followed up.
They followed the order. Idrann, for his part, ran to the human crew. They had assisted from a distance, with lasguns and the like- brave, though not that useful. They needed little urging to go to the portal; but when he turned around to run himself, he knew it was too late.
The gate was closing.
“Jump!” Quattu yelled from the other side.
Idrann didn’t jump.
Tossing the three remaining officers was an automatic action. If he had not done it, Idrann would have survived. As it was, the hole was too small by the time it was too late.
“Why?” Quattu screamed.
“Because we are sons of Vulkan too,” Idrann responded, “no matter how much some claim otherwise!”
Perhaps later, he would understand.
The portal closed, and Idrann looked around the room- only to find a large hole in the ceiling where the daemon had been. The Sergeant leapt into it.
Outside, all was mayhem. Idrann felt the sheer gravitation of the center; he would have likely been pulled to pieces by tidal forces had he not been so close to the daemon.
The wounded warp-prince leapt at Idrann again, and the sergeant responded in kind.
Under a sky of white fire and ceramite rain, they clashed.