Honora ad Finem
Sergeant Dragan was trapped.
He had passed out, he knew that for sure, and now he was awake and in total darkness. He was also in immense pain.
“Janowski, Thika!”. His voice sounded weak and distant. It was an effort to talk, but he had to find out if any of his squad were still alive. “Brother Linda.. anyone copy me?.”
Ahhrg, the pain.
His entire body was wracked with overwhelming waves of pain which his enhanced physiology seemed unable to cope with.
Where am I? Am I still on the hulk? Where are my squad?
The darkness was all around him. It was complete and suffocating.
I need to get out of here. This.. place.. it is disturbing. This pain should be controlled.
He tried to remember what had happened, but he even found that difficult.
A Spacehulk had entered the Cleron System and entered the trade lanes. It had to be investigated. Since the Eastern Hive Fleet incursion many years before, small colonies of Tyrannids and their xenos breeds had been moving through The Halo Stars spreading chaos wherever they were discovered. All Spacehulks and asteroids were routinely searched, and if need be.. purged.
This Boarding action was to be no different to all the rest.. except this time the xenos were waiting for them.
Dragan remembered that his squad, all veterans of dozens of contested boarding actions, were attacked the moment they leapt from the torpedo.
Genestealers, a yellow and blue breed, swarmed them before they were able to mount an effective defence. Brother Shoko and Brother Morcos were eviscerated without firing a shot. Brother Orchamus lost an arm before he managed, by the Emperor's will, to bring his flamer to bare and clear the space around them.
Dragan lead the counter-attack and gained them a hundred metres of corridor and precious breathing space.
It had not gone well.
All over the hulk his Brothers were meeting stiff resistance. His squad was now down to seven. Orchamus was still with them but his effectiveness was reduced. He had lost a lot of blood and without an Apothecary, he might not make it through.
Ahhh, Orchamus. I remember your rearguard action at the Gloria Gates. What steadfastness, what courage. Where are you now? Are you with me? I must get out of here. I must find my Brothers. I must master this pain.
The Hulk was an amalgam of many different craft, some Imperial, some xenos. There was evidence of previous actions here. There were bones of unknown types, weapons and armour of exotic nature. They had even found an archaic bolter-like weapon that could only be human.
It would be purged and the xenos would be destroyed. They would fight on and join up with the rest of the company.
He had ordered Orchamus to take up the rearguard position with Brother Romana and his heavy-Bolter on point. It was not going to be a subtle advance but they would make the xenos pay dearly if they attacked again.
For six hours they battled through the corridors and rooms of the xenos vessel, bludgeoning, and hacking their way through legions of the foul Genestealers, until their ammo was spent and their armour was rent and battered beyond all recognition.
There were only five of them left.
“Such wanton hate,” he had thought. “Such mindless recklessness. A foe worthy of my skills, but not worthy of my respect.”
Dragan examined his Gladius. It was stained with foul spoor and nicked and scratched in a dozen places. With little effort he tore a bulkhead door away from its frame and brought it to his front like a rudimentary shield.
“We are not beaten my Brothers!” he had shouted. “By the Emperor, there will be no more of our blood spilt here today.”
The next attack came, lead by a huge genestealer with an elongated snout and abnormally long fangs.
A mutant breed.
It swung it first claw which took Dragan’s helmet off. The second strike opened up his face to the bone, breaking his jaw and taking out an eye.
I killed you though. Aye, you died by my blade like the rest of them. But we took the corridor and advanced onto the next.
Light. Faint at first but getting brighter and brighter.
Get me out of here! Get me out now! The pain.
He could see the the robes of an Adept but not its face. That was hidden beneath its folds.
“I am Sergeant Dragan. For Emperor’s sake remove me from this grave!”
Another figure came into view. Apothecary Kostin. He knew that battered white helmet anywhere.
I am saved. Now the pain will go.
Dragan tried to move again but he was paralysed. His wounds were indeed dire.
“Kostin! I am here, can you not see me?”
Kostin removed his helmet and stroked his short black hair. He was staring directly at Dragan and shaking his head.
“Get me out of here!”. Dragan’s voice appeared weak and feeble.
More pain passed through him and a stab of pain struck his temple.
Apothecary Kostin stepped back off the dais and turned to the Adept.
“It has been a week now Magos Hernandez. Is there any hope?”
The Adept turned slowly back and shook his head.
“Not all your brothers can stand the transition. Sergeant Dragan injuries should have been terminal. I fear he will never make the walk.”
“It is done then,” said Kostin, emotion straining his voice. He nodded to a small group of the Chapters Honoured Respexerunt Speculatores.
“He will be honourably laid to rest with the rest of his fallen Brothers.”
“We will remember him.”
Kostin stepped forward again. The Dreadnought dwarfed him, immobile and silent, a brooding, menacing figure of destruction. It was a Castraferrum Pattern Mark IV Dreadnought with a power fist and Plasma cannon. It was painted in the deep black of the night. It would have been a fitting weapon of war for a hero like Sergeant Dragan.
If he had survived his incarceration.
No! I am here with you now. I am Sergeant Dragan of The Emperor’s Vengeance. It must not end like this.
+ SYSTEM PURGING +
+ DELETION COMPLETE +