Here is the next installment! I hope that you all like it a lot. I'll PM who i want to do the next bit and we'll see what happens. well, here you go!
It had to be a mistake. Surely there was something wrong with their systems. Even now, servitors were still attempting to extinguish fires burning from many of the cogitators. There was something wrong with the data, there had to be.
“What do we do sir!” Jonas pleaded.
“Admiral?” Captain Astor asked.
Admiral Clarris was leaning on the railing of the bridge. Tears streamed from his eyes and down his face. He seemed to be shaking.
“Why...now!” the Admiral spoke amidst his sobs.
“What is it sir?”
“Don't you hear it!”
“Sir, I hear nothing but these blasted sirens!”
“The screams my boy...the screams...” The Admirals words grew softer as he sunk to his knees on the decking.
“Medic! Quickly! See to the Admiral!” Captain Astor bellowed. “Get him to the medical ward immediately!”
As the medicae staff carried him off the bridge, Admiral Clarris sat up on the stretcher, grabbed the lapel of one of the orderlies and whispered, “Holy Terra herself is in pain.” Turning back towards the Captain on the bridge, he reached and yelled out, “Don't go near that place! It will only lead you to your doom!”
It seemed to the Captain that the Admiral had gone insane. The very sight of Terra burning had tortured the man so severely that it had incapacitated him.
Captain Astor turned back solemnly towards the rest of the staff there on the bridge. He raised his hands wide and spoke to all of them. “In the absence of a commanding officer, I will assume command of this vessel and its operations!”
Jonas stood up at his station and addressed the Captain. “With all due respect sir, none of us know what to do!”
It dawned on the captain that there was little they could do here. With thousands of ships from Emperor knows where, and the same garbled message playing in the background, things were getting out of hand. He had to act now.
“Jonas! Shut this message off, but don't stop monitoring it! I want to hear right away if anything else is found! He turned to another navigator bent over his station. “You there! How many Lightning wings do we have operational?”
“Two sir, Beta and Lambda wings are fueled and primed for your orders.” said the young man.
“Good. I want Beta and Lambda squadrons to sweep the poles and tell me what the flek is going on down there! If there are any pockets of resistance left that are holding their own, thats where they'll be!”
“Sir, I don't think thats such a good-” Jonas cut in.
“Damn it son! We're the blasted Imperial Navy! And based on what I see here, I think it fleking well is a good idea! Now, what do we have on the order of available troops?”
“None of the regiments are battle ready sir! We were in Warp Space just a few minutes ago, most of the troops have just been woken!”
“Then you better well get them ready! I want them briefed and ready to drop as soon as I get some feedback from those Lightning's! If there are soldiers still alive down there they're gonna need all the help they can get!”
“What about Marneus Calgar and the Ultramarines, sir!”
“Looks like they're fleking well going to need some help as well son, don't you think!”
“Sir! Yes sir!” Jonas saluted and hurried back to his station.
“Now the rest of you! I want open lines of communication with every ship in this sector! I want to know who's here and why! I need to coordinate an effort with anyone who'll listen! I need guns! I need fighters! I need some fleking solid minds! If they're not here to help, get them the flek out of here! NOW MOVE!”
Captain Astor leaned on the railing of the bridge where the Admiral had stood just moments before, the vision of Holy Terra squarely in his gaze. He sighed as he thought of what the Admiral had said. Screams. Probably just the ravings of a emotionally destroyed man. But still, the Admiral was not one to break so easily. What ever he had 'heard' really messed him up. He was glad he hadn't heard it too.
He released the rail, took a deep breath and strode over to the Admiral's throne. Buttons and knobs of all shapes and sizes protruded out from its golden arms like a pissed off porcupine. Laying on the seat was a golden helmet. Streaming with thick golden wires it looked like it trailed a mane of hair from its crown to the back of the chair. Astor knew what this device was. It was the neuro-link that the Admiral wore to help direct the actions and movements of the ship. It connected whomever wore it directly to the ships machine spirit. What pains the ship felt, he would feel. What exhaustion the ship felt, he would feel. What destruction the ship felt, he would feel. It was a harrowing feeling. One that he didn't want to have to deal with at this very moment. There was no choice. The foundation of Mankind was burning under their feet and hesitation was not to be rewarded. Captain Astor picked up the neuro-link, turned, and sat down on the chair. It was warm, he thought to himself. Wait, why was he thinking of that at a time like this. Maybe in the toughest of moments, Astor thought, you still had to be able to notice the details. Details would be important in the next few moments and he was glad that he was still noticing them.
With a deep breath, Captain Astor raised the golden helmet into the air and placed it over his head.
The pain that greeted him was immense. Captain Astor yelled out uncontrollably as the ship reminded him how much damage had been done already. Multiple fires were burning through the ships decks and he could feel the damage being done. He struggled to suppress the pain coursing through his body. It was several minutes before Captain Astor was able to gain some control of the situation. Regaining his composure, Astor took in the helmet display. There were three prominent items that took up the majority of the screen. In one corner was a structural map of the ship showing the multiple decks and rooms of the ship. All of these were color coded to some effect showing their status and structual integrity. Anything labeled the color red, Astor assumed, could be called structurally unstable. And by the looks of it there were about three decks worth towards the aft end of the ship that were a deep crimson shade. Astor called up a magnified display of the afflicted area to better asses the damage. Decks A through F were situated near the Warp drives and as such had been damaged when they had been unexpectedly dumped from warp space. The majority of the fires were situated in those areas closest to the rooms above the drive compartments. Captain Astor managed to cut the oxygen flow to these areas in the hopes of staunching the brunt of the flames.
A beeping red indicator sounded suddenly in his ear. A second later, another image took over his viewplate. The pict was that of Terra. Only now, this was a more schematic view of the planet. The majority of the planet was covered in a grid format that displayed the various planetary sectors, quadrants and hemispheres. Once again there was a color display of the varying heat registers emanating from the planet's surface. Auspex flashes indicated where Beta and Lambda Lightning squadrons buzzed back and forth across the surface. He could hear the bustle of vox traffic between the squadron commanders. From what he could gather there didn't seem to be much of anything going on down on the surface. Most of the planet seemed to have been demolished or burned out. The odds of there being anyone alive down there seemed slim, but it still felt like he was doing the right thing.
Captain Astor silenced the vox traffic so he could think. What could have happened to the Ultramarines? How could a chapter of such magnitude and strength be failing, or have failed in such a way. It was beyond his comprehension. If the glorious Ultramarines had failed, how could he hope to succeed. And what of the Wolves of Fenris? Didn't the legends say that if Terra was ever in danger, the men of Fenris would come to her aid like a mother wolf protecting its young? Where were the fabled Space Wolves? And lets not forget the Custodian Guard, the Adeptus Custodes. So many questions and possibly no answers. He wondered whether or not Marneus Calgar issued that signal out of pride. Was he afraid to admit defeat in the face of insurmountable odds? Did he not want aid for fear that it would squander his victory? No one could be that brash.
A vox transmission indicator interrupted his thoughts. He quickly queued it up and saw that it was from Lighning Wing Leader Beta.
“This is Captain Astor, what news of the surface?” He was certain that there was no one alive but he needed the confirmation from the wing leader.
“This is Beta leader with good news sir! Three of our Lightning fighters have reported signs of Imperial resistance over the Imperial Primus Palace sir! And Lambda wing has reported activity over the Ecclesiarchal Palace and the Scholastica Psykana! Sir there are still people alive down here!”
“Emperor be praised! Wonderful! Beta Leader, coordinate your efforts with Lambda Leader and give those people any sort of help you can! Captain Astor out.”
“Aye sir, Beta leader out.”
'Our doom be damned!' thought Captain Astor to himself. What had the Admiral been so frightened about? It seemed to him that Admiral Clarris was a man in distress. There was nothing that man could say that would change his mind now. He was going to help the Adeptus Terra and all those down there as best he could. After all he was presently in command of an Emperor class Imperial Battleship. He still had port and starboard batteries at full operating potential, and his normal space drive engines were in good shape. So he didn't have his Warp drive engines, but that wasn't going to be a problem.
“Yes Captain!” He had just been communicating with another Emperor class battleship on the other side of the planet.
“By the Emperor's guiding light there are still people alive down there!”
“Thats excellent news sir!”
“Fleking right it is! How many regiments are ready to drop?”
“Sir, you have 5 million men at your disposal.”
Captain Astor smiled a very broad smile. It looked very odd behind the eyeless helmet he wore, but it was a smile nonetheless.
“Your orders sir?” Jonas asked impatiently.
Captain Astor turned his blind gaze towards Jonas, still smiling that broad smile.
well thats it, i'll contact the next one to see they want to do it or not.