JULIANA BROUGHT THEM in onto a disused sports pitch on the North-East edge of the Hive. Tucked in amongst blocks of pre-fabs and Mechanicum Factories, the small landing site was naturally hidden by the overhangs and paraphernalia of an overbuilt, overcrowded tenement area.
Any natural grass had long died away and had been replaced by dirt, gravel and the detritus of a million inhabitants.
It was wonderfully camouflaged and ideal for contraband smuggling and moving around unseen.
Juliana cut the engines and the cockpit went silent.
She quickly removed her sunshades and reverently placed them into a small box by her feet. She then retrieved a Navy-issue laspistol and tucked that into a shoulder holster under her flight jacket.
I need you to remain here
I know. But these vermin cannot be trusted
“They are here.”
A tracked vehicle moved towards them from the shadows and attached itself to the front landing gear of the Valkyrie, before towing it towards a large hangar-like building nearby.
Once inside, the two-storey corrugated Plasteel blast doors slowly closed behind them.
Stroms stepped down onto the greasy floor and quickly assessed the situation they had found themselves in.
They were in some sort of maintenance bay, and the blast doors spoke of military. The space was large enough to easily house ten Valkyrie’s, but it was empty save a few storage containers and stacks of unmarked crates. Ahead of them were a series of doors and reflective windows.
Stroms looked through the windows and into the room beyond using but a fraction of his preternatural powers. He could see ground crew; civilians employed by the cartel; indentured into service by none too friendly means. He felt fear.. and anticipation.
Stroms smiled inwardly.
Now he could see the muscle. Six stim-bulked ‘clanners’ carrying a variety of ‘stubbers’ and blades. One carried a Krak grenade, Astartes-issue.
In the rear area was more muscle… a lot of muscle including Mercs and ex-military. He also felt the faint aura of a psyker somewhere within the complex. The psyker was not active yet and Stroms was tempted to seek him out and challenge him. That could wait. He had other work to do and it would take all his skills to achieve it.
Juliana, Deglan, Mubarak. Six to ten shooters beyond the wall
The rest of his party joined him on the hanger deck and fanned out into a defensive line.
Stroms nodded towards a wooden crate marked ‘INDUSTRIAL CLEANING FLUID’.
Sentry gun. Cold
These people are very nervous, Stroms noticed. The secure hanger, no overhead surveillance, lots of ‘heavies’, not to mention the non-standard and very expensive Tarantula Sentry Gun. This spoke of clients with troubles and serious trust issues.
Juliana. Keep the engines hot. We might have to leave in a hurry
Send down Dombi
Yes. I need his.. presence. Tell him.. very carefully, no heavy weaponry, but he can bring pistols and light stuff with him
Affirmative Boss. Dombi is on his way.. he’s very excited
The hanger boomed into light as dozens of overheads were switched on, illuminating the area with harsh white light. There was a crackling sound as an old-fashioned tannoy system rasped into life.
“No weapons. Place your weapons onto the ground.”
Stroms held up a hand as his companions brought their Lasguns, rifles, plasma pistols and Needle gun up to the ready position. His troops were good, but the odds were not yet in their favour.
“Bollocks!”, he clipped back. “No way, as they used to say in the old days… Jose!”
There was a long pause before the voice cracked out again.
“No weapons. Leave your weapons behind and step forward.”
Stroms sighed and visibly dropped his shoulders. It was all for effect of course. It was all a game. A game that he had played out a thousand times.
“B-O-L-LO-C-K-S” Stroms spelt out. A few members of his group chuckled.
That will please them Boss
Juliana. Arm the Hellstrike missiles and crank up the Heavy Bolter. Let’s see if these clowns are serious
The Valkyrie’s twin engines hummed back into life and just to make a point, Juliana opened up the throttle, increasing the engines pitch so it became uncomfortable to the ear.
In an instant the crate containing the sentry gun collapsed and the Tarantula clicked into operation, its twin lascannons shifting left and right to find its target.
Stroms remained impassive, folding his arms across his chest and cocking his head slightly to the right. Dombi now joined him, settling behind his left shoulder. He held an enormous spiked club in his massive hands.
He grinned at Stroms.
The Tarantula’s weapons stopped their search and then the system shut down. The Lascannons dropped, pointing at the flight deck.
One of the group, a tall stocky man wearing a mixed bag of combat clothing and equipment, stepped forward and placed a large box on the ground in front of them. He lifted the lid and flicked on a switch inside. A pulsating yellow strobe came from within.
“Now we can play these games all day if you like,” he paused, “or, my friend Deaglán here will arm the Tau Aedificium Exterminatore device and level this building and all the surrounding streets.”
The man called Deaglán knelt down and placed a thumb over a large red button.
Don’t over do it
Boss, it’s me you're talking to
I know. That is why I am nervous
Columnarius, Proditor Interfectorem, In circuitu malum ovum (all-round bad egg), Ex-Sergeant Pindaris 44th Heavy Infantry Regiment, Awarded the Medallion Crimson for conspicuous action - despite wounds [very, very bad, almost mortal], during the Medrilles Insurrection, Hero of the Imperium [Honorifica Imperialis - awaits (unconfirmed)], The Triple Skull Medal - Storia Pacification, Regimental heavyweight Boxing champion [3 years running], Guerilla fighter, Mercenary, Assassin, Ork-killa, general dogsbody, Connoisseur of fine Amsec’s and Vittles
Deaglán Ó Báire
Scribes NB: Descriptives added by Deaglán Ó Báire (Read only) +
++ Personal Reminiscences 71/7172 - Morthen Stroms. ++
It was ten, no, eleven years ago in a eatery… no, a Tavern on… the name of the planet's name has always escaped me.
Two Commissarial Provost’s had entered the main drinking area and walked right up to Ó Báire who was sitting on one of those revolving bar seats by the bar itself. Ó Báire was not in any form of uniform that I could see, but his bearing said military. If he was military, the Provost's certainly had jurisdiction, on or off duty.
The senior Provost had demanded Ó Báire’s identity papers and just to emphasise the point, the other had drawn a shock-maul and held it menacingly in front of him.
We, that is Deaglán and I, have often spoken about the incident, and it always brings a smile to my face as Ó Báire’s version often changes depending on the quantity of Amsec he has consumed or if impressionable ladies are present.
“You see’ drawled Ó Báire ‘it was the way they asked me for my papers.”
“You did not have any.” I always corrected .
“No, well no I didn’t’ he smiled ‘ but that is not the point. It was the way they said it. Something like - ‘you there.. papers now.. or it’s the Apothecary for you… something like that.”
“They were only doing their job Deaglán, that was what they were paid to do.”
“Yes, I know all that. The point was, and I only have my Ma to blame for this, making me all respectful and polite and such... they never said please”
Now the next part of the story changes often in Ó Báire’s versions, but this is what actually happened.
At almost supernatural speed, Ó Báire had launched himself at the two Provost’s, taking them completely by surprise. He punched the shock-maul into the first provosts face, knocking him backwards and over a small table. He then ducked low and delivered a steamroller punch into the seconds man’s solar plexus, doubling him over, before punching upwards and shattering the man’s lower jaw. Ó Báire then leapt forward and delivered a sharp kick to the first Provost’s temple, knocking him out cold.
“I hate fuggin’ Provost’s” growled Ó Báire and I remembered him winking at me after he had taken the provost’s out, with a mischievous grin on his face.
The room had quickly cleared, and only a few semi-conscious patrons still huddled at the bar, oblivious to what had just happened or keeping their heads down and not seeing a thing. The barkeep had disappeared along with his door staff and enforcers.
With the provost’s unconscious and spread-eagled on the filthy floor, I suddenly found myself alone and at a table opposite the tough old fighter. I had a full bottle of Amsec in my hand and nothing else in particular to do at that particular moment.
Without thinking why, though I am always fond of the rough and ready of the underworld, I picked up the bottle and two glasses and walked up to Ó Báire and joined him.
Ó Báire had looked at me with conspiratorial eyes and then gazed longingly at the precious liquor.
“You hold a rare cargo there my friend” he nodded. I remember looking down at the label and shrugging or something like that. I could not for the love of trying remember where I had got it.
“Would you care to share it with a poor, lonely Ex-Guardsman like myself?,” Ó Báire had added, unconsciously licking his lips in anticipation.
It was at that point, after I had gazed into Ó Báire’s soul, that I realised that here was a man that I could spend time with. A man of honour, a man who only needed someone like me to follow.
I then found myself pulling up a stool and joining him. I filled the two glasses and slid one across to the burly brawler.
“I think,’ I smiled, ‘that you are going to need this… friend.”
The rough Ex-Guardsman smiled back and then held out a strong hand.
“Deaglán Ó Báire’s the name, and I think that I am about to enter a whole world of shite.”
* * *