1,093 words (not including title). More Steel Wardens bolter action
A Boarding Action
"Nigra Mortis! Nigra Mortis!
Brother-Sergeant Pontius tried his best to ignore the infernal chanting. The vox-net had been secured from scrapcode incursions. The squad was already reciting the Litany of Purity. But it was all to no avail; the damn warp-spawned voice was speaking the words directly into their minds.
Another group of misshapen forms appeared down the corridor. They were terrible, bloated beings that were leaking pus and excrement. They were the remnants of the derelict ship's crew, who were suffering an agony worse than death.
Pontius freed them from their pain with three bursts of his boltgun.
"The Estimates are growing worse by the minute, Brother-Sergeant!" said his second-in-command, Brother-Logis Archmides, "We require decisive action!"
A fresh wave of the warp-maddened crew appeared ahead of the Pontius team, while more shambled towards them from behind. Other Steel Wardens took up positions and began gunning them down, while the Brother-Sergeant held off on making his decision. To push forward, he knew that somebody had to be left behind.
"Novice Felix!" Pontius shouted, turning to the young Astartes, "I know this is your first Quest with us, but you will have the honor of serving as the rearguard."
"Understood, Brother-Sergeant," Felix replied with no hint of emotion in his voice.
"I will not lie to you. You will not survive."
Felix snorted under his helmet, "Don't be so sure, Brother-Sergeant. I am not so easy to kill."
Pontius ignored the snide remark, “Would you like to request any additional war gear?”
“I already have a demolition charge, just in case,” Felix replied as he readied his boltgun, “But I would like to ask for a melee weapon, for when the ammunition runs out.”
Brother-Sergeant Pontius nodded and drew his blade. It was a fine weapon – a Brennic Psi-sword - but Pontius never liked it very much. Like most of his fellow Steel Wardens, he believed in the primacy of ranged combat.
“A blade from my home world,” Felix said approvingly as the Sergeant handed him the weapon, “I thank you for this, Brother-Sergeant. The Emperor Protects.”
“And the Omnissiah watches over us,” the Sergeant replied, before turning to face the foes blocking their way to the lift, “Pontius Team, on me! Assault Pattern Omega-Two!”
With those four words, each member of the squad instantly knew his place. Brother Manlius took the lead, driving back the horde with shorts bursts from his flamer. A pair of Battle-Brothers marched beside him, their bolters set to single shot, and they expertly picked off any who had survived the flames.
The remaining six Space Marines – Pontius included – followed in their wake to protect the flanks and rear. Every intersection and side-compartment had to be cleared or bypassed. Grenades were used liberally, as was Brother Camilus’ Heavy Bolter. It seemed like an eternity before they reached the lifts.
But in reality, it only took them less than fifteen minutes of intense corridor-to-corridor fighting. They had dangerously depleted their supplies of ammunition, and most had suffered some damage to their power armor. But every member of the squad had made it without injury – except one.
The ship shuddered as a demolition charge went off. Pontius did not bother to check his auspex for life signs. Novice Felix had done his duty.
“I have lift controls!” said Brother-Logis Archimedes, just as the doors slammed themselves shut, “We will reach the bridge momentarily!”
“My fellow Wardens, prepare yourselves!” Pontius ordered, “Our warp-spawned foe awaits!”
His men did not reply with words, but with actions. They assumed firing positions. The moment the doors opened, they were ready to unleash a barrage of devastating explosive rounds at whatever monster lurked in the bridge.
Yet somehow, they were still taken by surprise.
As the doors opened, a mass of tentacles suddenly swarmed in. The Space Marines opened fire, but their bolter rounds had little effect. One tentacle wrapped itself around Archimedes’ head and popped it like a melon. Brother Camilus shouted as something grabbed him by the leg and dragged him into the center of the swirling mass. Blood and Ceramite spurted out after it swallowed him whole.
“Keep firing! Keep firing!” Pontius shouted, as the monster grabbed two more Marines and consumed them. Manlius tried to hose the daemon with flames, only to be slapped backwards by one of the tentacles.
Finally, in desperation, Pontius primed a Melta-Bomb and threw it at the daemon-thing’s mouth. If his team was fated to die, then they were going to take Nigra Mortis
Everything went white as the bomb went off. Pontius felt himself thrown off his feet, and he landed somewhere hard and painful. Bones were broken, and he suspected that he had also suffered internal injuries. By some miracle, the auspex still functioned, and revealed to him that three of his men had survived the gambit, albeit they were all unconscious.
But then Pontius realized they were not the only ones to survive the blast. Writhing in agony, with half of its mass torn off, Nigra Mortis
was still alive.
Pontius tried to reach for his boltgun, but the enraged daemon smashed it to pieces before he could do so. The daemon grabbed his arms, and then his legs. It held him aloft, spread-eagled, before once again shouting its name.
Pontius did not close his eyes. He waited for the killing blow.
But instead a blur went past him, and suddenly he was free. A new voice somehow drowned out the daemon’s screams.
“Vae Victis!” shouted Novice Felix, as he plunged the psi-blade into the heart of the warp-spawned beast. There was a final horrendous scream.
And then finally, silence.
Breathing heavily, Pontius managed to sit up. He stared at Novice Felix – battered and wounded - yet still alive.
“You’re supposed to be dead,” Pontius said dryly.
“My apologies, Brother-Sergeant,” Felix replied snidely, “But our calculations are called “Estimates” and not “Certainties” for a reason.”
“And how did you get up here so quickly?” Pontius wanted to know.
”Stairs, sir,” Felix answered with a shrug, “Good, strong, steel stairs.”
It was Pontius’ turn to snort under his armor. “Very well. Inform the fleet that we have accomplished our Quest.”
“Only a full Battle-Brother is allowed that honor,” Felix pointed out.
Felix,” Pontius explained.
Underneath his armor, no one could see Felix’s proud smile. He was still smiling as he spoke into the vox.
”This is the Pontius team, our Quest is complete. This ship is no longer the Nigra Mortis
. This ship is once again the Might of Akkadia