A/N: Glad you do ^^ I'm finding it hard to keep the warhammer feel while still having the Reapers be a modern and professional outfit. It was, originally, meant to be a crossover with Ghost Recon, so...
Pillar looked around the warehouse in disbelief. Coal mining world indeed.
"Sir," Her NCO began, looking at the shattered crate and its content, "Is this…"
Adamantine rocks. A mineral found only on asteroids, but sometimes, asteroids were attracted by gravity wheels and fused with other asteroids to create a planet. Not often, but sometimes. Now, if those asteroids all happened to contain adamantine, you had yourself a supply metal large enough build a thousand battle cruisers.
The Adamantine contained in this warehouse would suffice in building a small destroyer, or a hundred terminator suits.
"I'm sure the tech heads will love this skak." She replied, grinning slightly.
The Reapers hired many disgraced Adeptus Mechanicus magos who thought innovation was the only way to knowledge, many had been branded Heretec, but Top Dog had contact and an Emperor-signed piece of paper on his side, so many tech priests had been 'given' to the Reapers to serve as technical support.
She noticed the whole team was looking in awe at the stack of crates, trying to imagine what they would do with that much material, the most common thought being 'terminator armors for everyone!'
"Get your skak together, people!" Pillar snapped, angrily, "We have to secure this place! Three meters spread, go!" She added, her bolter aimed down range.
Back in the dropship, Gamble and the gunner were closely listening to the vox chatter of all three teams for any sign of trouble.
Only Revenant had reported contact so far, but this was enough to get them on their toes. These people had set up an ambush, meaning they were expecting company, meaning there would be no telling what their next move might be, the only certainty being that there would be another move.
Gamble tapped the pilot's shoulder. "Take off, we're going to sweep the area," He turned to the gunner, "use your thermal imagery and vaporize anything that doesn't sparkle."
Father did not need to give the order; it was already part of the plan that the dropship be used as close air support. They had kept it on the ground up until now because they wanted to save fuel.
The gunner nodded and the machine gun under the vessel emulated the movement.
Further down the airfield, Ripper was using his tomahawk to saw open the cargo ship hatch, his carbine still held in his off hand, ready to fire.
Father was lower on the ramp, his shotgun aimed at the door, while Pig and Priest were standing at the bottom, ready to rain hell on anything inside.
With the closing mechanism and both hinges out of the way, Rip shoved his tomahawk in the middle of the hatch, to act as an handle, and yanked the thing back, muscles bulging from under his suit and arms shaking like he had a stroke of Parkinson. Father threw a flash grenade –simply a frag grenade with the outer shell replaced by solid magnesium and aluminum- trough the small opening and Ripper leaned on the hatch with all his weight.
The blast almost knocked the NCO down the ramp, but Father grabbed was behind the young soldier and pushed him back upright in time for Ripper to throw the hatch aside and climb in the plane after Father. They arrived in a corridor extending on the length of the cargo.
"Clear!" They both called, droping to a knee while they assessed the situation.
"You smell that?" Asked the veteran from right side of the entry point.
Ripper took a long sniff and nodded. "Spiky close." He confirmed, using the designation for Dark Eldars. The Xenos had a very distinctive scent of sex and blood they carried with them everywhere.
On his first operation, Ripper had gone against Spiky, discovering the hard way that gas mask don't filter the stench death and decay. Some days he wished it did, as he was still haunted by the smell of the piles of tortured, raped and murdered guardsmen. The smell was somehow worst than the sight, it never left. Sometimes, he woke up smelling that thing, or found himself unable to eat because his brain had drawn some tenuous link between it and that of his food.
"Trap?" Ripper asked, getting his mind into the game. If it was a trap, he could see no obvious sign of it; just a rusty brown, neon lit corridor. If it was a trap, it was a good trap.
"Think so." The two remained motionless for almost thirty seconds, pondering their options. Their dynamic entry had certainly not gone unnoticed and going to close quarters with alerted Eldars was unadvisable… "No reason to play along," Father finally decided, "We get away and you call in some CAS on that ship, copy?"
Ripper hesitated. "What's that whining soun…"
Father spun on the spot and grabbed a hold of his NCO, shoving the young man down the ramp before…
The world began spinning around the old soldier, going from the orange-red sand, covering the starport , to the reddish sky, covering the whole fraking planet.
He watched the sand get closer and had just enough time to think this was going to hurt before the air was forced out of his lungs and his brain racked around his skull, turning the world to a red hue and blurring his vision. The taste of blood climbed in his mouth and he swallowed, not wanting to gum his mask with caked blood.
Father could not move, he could not even breathe. No matter how hard he tried, he could get no air in his lungs, as if his body had forgotten how to do it.
Someone rolled him on his back, someone with a skull-like mask and Flak helmet. Priest wore a beret and Pig preferred a simple Kevlar weave tuque to fancier protections. Ripper.
He was kneeling over Zombie leader's body, checking for a pulse.
"Hang in there!" The young man yelled, shooting his carbine in short controlled bursts at something father could not see, "Pig, move that ramp! We'll use it as cover!"
He grabbed the back of Father's armor and dragged the injured man a short distance, into the shadow of the mobile ramp.
Father finally managed to draw a breath and, as limited as it was, that one drag of air was the sweetest thing he'd ever tasted.
Ripper lifted father into a sitting position, resting his back on one of the ramp's large tires, and gave him his shotgun back.
"Can you fight, sir?" Ripper did not wait for the answer, as a hail of projectiles pinged off his shoulder pad, prompting him to return fire.
Father wiggled his toes and was relieved to see his boot bobbing slightly at his action. He looked down and saw no trail of blood or anything. Whatever had thrown him off this cargo ship had not pierced his Carapace or broken his back.
A peek around the back of the mobile ramp told him he was very lucky, as the hatch they had entered the ship from and anything within three meters of it had been vaporized, leaving only a smoking hole, trough which Dark Eldars were firing at the Team Zombie.
From the top of the control tower, Shard had a perfect view of the battlefield bellow. He spotted at least twenty sniper nests within the guard towers, on the perimeter wall, and ordered his own sniper to get in position and take them out.
Blaze, the sniper, nodded once and got out of the control room trough a shattered window, climbing on the tower's roof with her Tau Pulse rifle dangling on its strap.
Halo, on his end, was trying to figure out how to operate the Disintegrator cannon left by the previous residents. Said residents were now painting the walls with their brains, thanks to a well placed fragmentation grenade.
Looking back at the runway, Shard saw team Ghost's demolition expert leaning out from inside the warehouse. A white smoke trail launched from his shoulder and the Reaper ducked back inside. Something exploded behind the tower and Shard jogged to the other side, jumping over a damaged console before kneeling next to the large window.
"Hurry up, Halo, we need this gun thirty seconds ago!" Shard barked, checking outside once more.
Three large mechanical scorpions, hovering off the ground and firing crystals from their tails, had thrown down a part of the perimeter wall and were now fanning out across the sand covered runway, shrugging off missiles and machine gun rounds from the dropship like it was mere rain.
One of them fired at the outdated machine and the pilot had to climb brutally to avoid getting hit.
A similar blob of plasma suddenly pierced the control tower's cieiling, prompting a scream of surprise and anger from the sniper set up there.
"I figured it out, sir!" Halo announced, breaking the glass Shard was hiding behind before opening fire.
From then, the battle turned around completely. The Dark Eldars were relying on their troops in the control tower to provide support and wipe out the humans quickly. When their own cannon began frying their armored support, their snipers stopped covering them and the troops hiding in the warehouse failed to join the fight, the Eldars hiding in the ship did the only thing they could.
They whipped out a white flag.
Any other Imperial group would have killed every last one of those Xenos and burned every piece of technology, but this presented the Reapers with one heck of an opportunity; access to the knowledge of the most advanced race in the universe.
It took a few minutes for the Reapers to set up a defensive perimeter around the ship, given the size of it, but they soon had the thing surrounded and were set up inside grenade-caused craters in the ground. Normally, they would have used high explosives to dig trenches, but there was no time here.
Then came the negotiations
"Who's in charge!" Father barked, limping his way alongside the ramp as Ripper drove the thing towards the ship.
"We should just kill them all, sir." The NCO groaned, annoyed at his commander's unwillingness to carry this fight all the way.
"Shut up, Ripper." Was the best argument Father could come up with.
An Eldar –male, apparently-, wearing the usual leather strap and spike apparatus, appeared in the breach on the side of the ship, smiling like a shark. He had his organic looking rifle held over his head and kept his other palm outward and opened, to show he had no other weapon.
He spoke in a suave, confident tone, like he was a comedian on a stage,"Greetings, Monkey, I am…"
Father exchanged a glance with ripper and turned back to the Eldar, "Did you just call me 'monkey'?"
Quite interestingly, this awkward first meeting would soon turn into a strange mutual understanding between two commanders who knew what it meant to be despised by their own people for doing what they had to do. No name was given, no real name, anyway, with Father using his codename to introduce himself and the Eldar leader the name of his ship, Maugetar.
The deal was simple, Maugetar and his crew were to give the Reapers all weapons and technological device they possessed, free all captures within their ship and leave without further damage.
The Dark Eldar did not care about the trivial technological items the Imperials requested, as far as he knew, they simply wanted to humiliate him and would burn them as soon as he left, but he had a problem with freeing the prisoners, as this would mean no pain to feed on and most likely consumption by the warp before he could acquire a new arsenal, replace his missing crew and raid another world.
A world as far away from these skull faced demons as possible.
His counter offer was just as simple; Half the slaves held within the ship –that included Eldars, Tau, humans and Squats- all technological items he could spare without crippling himself and a good word for them in the higher circle of Commorragh, for when the Imperium finally found a reason to go after the Reapers.
"The Kabal could use warriors such as you," He explained, leaning against the scorched wall behind him while Father stood on top of the ramp, listening quietly.
In truth, he planned on accepting the deal, as this would allow the Reapers to increase their relations with every races by returning prisoners to their own faction, in exchange of a little compensation, of course.
Of course, he did not plan on letting the Eldars get away to torture a couple of hundred Imperial citizens. Priest had already found their ship, half a kilometer further, hidden in a canyon, and tagged it with an infrared beacon that should shine like a spotlight out in space, making the navy's job a piece of cake.
"You've got a deal." Father agreed, a fake smile plastering his face.
Chapter 1: Don't Fear The Reaper Man
On his own planet, Josip Vasko had belonged to a group of warriors quite close to Reapers, known as the 'Special Warfare Operations and Reconnaissance Division' the SWORD. The SWORD had been at the top of espionage and special warfare techniques, thanks to four thousand years of subversive warfare under the guise of a fragile peace. They surpassed anything to ever exist when it came to staging an assassination or reaching an untouchable, even the Reapers would have been crushed by the SWORD at the height of its power.
But for all its knowledge, it still disappeared, as by the time the Imperium found them, Vasko's people had only developed a technological level close to Earth's twenty first century, nowhere near enough to fight off the Imperial might.
So they surrendered and all SWORD leaders were executed, all their knowledge destroyed or confiscated, all technological advancement prohibited and severely punished. Their homeworld was enslaved.
Vasko, along with a thousand other SWORD operators, then began a resistance, using these tactics they were so well versed in and the Imperial's technology to kick out their tyrants.
Half a space marine chapter, the Lamenters, was wiped out during this insurgence, their heavy armors and weapons utterly powerless against staged friendly fire incident and sabotaged equipment.
This was a fun time for Josip, to outsmart, overcome and outlast foes said to be gods of war. One hell of a trip.
Then, the brasses ordered Exterminatus. It was nothing to them, just another rock and a handful of lifes wiped off the board. Not even worth updating the counters.
To the SWORD operative, this was the beginning of a bloody feud that would culminate only on Terra, leaving in its wake a quite impressive trail of accidental deaths within the Inquisition and Imperial Navy. Then, on Terra, Vasko had a face to face with the previous Top Dog, a man like him, who'd lost everything and had built something out of it.
The old man's words, while not the fanciest, were the wisest things Top had heard so far in his life, and the seventy years old man had heard a lot of bullshit.
"You're a fucking idiot, boy," The old man had announced as an introduction, "what do you think you'll do here? Settle your score with a corpse hardwired to a fucking chair? Fix the world? Bring back your loved ones? Well, let me tell you something, kid; it doesn't work like that!
You're like these abused kids who grow up to be abusive dads 'cause having their ass kicked entitles them to kick other's! You kill that corpse, you shit over humanity as a whole.
There's over a hundred factions out there trying to ass rape lill' old us and the Imperium is what's holding them at bay. The dam might be ugly, it might have chips in it, it might even have drowned your family's pet, but it's keeping billions of people alive."
"Someone has to do something…" Was the only answer Josip could come up with at the time.
"Someone will do something, provided you buy them enough time. Humanity has gotten trough worse, it just needs someone to keep the shit at bay while it figures things out."
"You mean I should just stand there and watch as they massacre the whole galaxy?"
"No, I mean you should help keep it together and surgically remove the parasites instead of tearing it all down."
The outcome is obvious; Now the new Top Dog, Josip Vasko added his knowledge to the Reapers, trained hundreds of recruits into the art of subversive warfare, assassinated more people than anyone cared to count and made commander after the last one was assassinated in a dark alley, his fist down someone's throat and his clip empty. The rest was just paperwork and dodging claims of heresy.
Right now, Top was walking down the street from his apartment in the capital city of Aldria, Vetchok, with two shadowy men in dark trench coats following him a good distance away.
Top Dog lived near the market and walked trough the thing every day on his way to work. He usually bought a fruit or two that he ate on the way. His favorite was the pike banana, basically a water-melon shaped like a banana with a soft skin and a thin hard spine in its core, thus the name.
This time was no exception. He squeezed trough the thick crowd with many apologies and purchased two fruits from one of many wooden stands.
He began eating the first, chewing around the solid core, and kept the other in hand.
Once out of the crowd, Josip looked back, out of habit, and analyzed everyone in the street for something odd. A man in a trench coat way too thick for this time of the year was browsing fruits Top personally thought looked half rotten, a woman was yelling at a boy on a bicycle and two kids were chasing each others between the legs of grown ups. It was quick and he skipped a few, but the verdict was satisfying.
A tension released from the old man's shoulder and he slowed the pace a bit, taking his time to enjoy the sweet taste of the exotic fruit.
After the street market came the more expensive stores, rich enough to rent interior shops with air conditioning and all these luxuries that attracted some of the higher grade customers. Top had never entered one of those, he did not have the money nor the desire to.
Unlike the two men watching him from afar, Josip wore a very simple attire; green trousers and black t-shirt revealing his lack of weapon and his small, almost frail musculature.
Now, for a man in his seventies, Josip was in incredible physical condition, but not close to rivaling with young cubs like Ripper or Father. The old hound still had some fangs left and could still bite, but he would be hard pressed to run alongside the rest of the pack.
His fruit halfway completed, Top Dog went right, climbing up a set of stairs he would not have noticed in his youth, but were becoming more of a challenge every passing years.
It was a long way up, dark and with many holes for someone to hide. Not the kind of place one would want to go trough at night by himself, even the old hound avoided this kind of places at night.
Now was the morning, however, so it was unlikely anyone would give him a go.
The two men began their ascension, checking to be sure their target had left the dark stairway before rushing up. They would both prefer if they did not have to explain their boss why they had been shaken off by a bald old man with a beginning of arthritis.
When the one on the left was knocked back by a solid punch to the face following by an eight stairs descend on the back of his head, the concern changed for 'why they had gotten their ass kicked by a bald old man with a beginning of arthritis'.
The second one was quick to react, lifting his hand to aim his digital lasgun at the shadow, but the old hound was a lot more experienced and the man soon realized how hard it is to move one's fingers when a curved spike is piercing the palm.
Top Dog twisted the assassin's arm in his back and stabbed the banana's pike in the man's left ass cheek, a little more to the right and that would have qualified as rape.
A glance at the skull skier downstairs confirmed he had some one on one time with his new friend, so Josip resolved to make the most of it.
Interrogation was useless here, it would leave him open to manipulations and such. He himself had used the 'be captured, deliver false intels' technique at least once. He had never gotten a fruit stabbed in his ass for it, though.
So, not wanting any bullshit, the old dog wrapped his arm around his victim's neck and squeezed the assassin's carotid for about twenty seconds.
Many thought this knockout technique to be linked to asphyxia, but it wasn't, it took five minutes for a man to asphyxiate. The effect resided in the neck veins, who supplied the brain in blood and oxygen, this takedown worked for a man, woman, child, Ogryn, beastman, Astarte or even the emperor himself. Every brain needs oxygen, some less than others, granted, but if it thinks, it needs blood for it.
The man went limp in his grasp and Top dragged him in the darkness, taking whatever valuable he carried; digital lasgun –some laser firing ring-, wallet, mission orders, communicator and an healthy lot of Aldrian Thrones. The other man had the same thing, plus a pair of expensive sunglasses the commander 'commandeered' for himself.
It was not theft, it was a fine for trying to fuck with an old war dog.
Top Dog resumed walking at his normal, brisk pace with his tense attitude, an old habit he had taken to always act as if he was followed, unless he actually followed, as it would push professionals like these two into using pre-programmed, easily recognizable tricks, like pretending to be shopping when the target looks over its shoulder, pretending to be looking for a lost contact lens or keys when you were discovered trying to hide. This was all stuff he had done and could give away an expert agent if done in a way that is too perfect, too theatric.