It's all in the name
The Koronus Expanse.. the killing fields, an arena rich for harvest.
Archon Phraan Khilseith leant forward in eager anticipation as the last wisps of warp cloud dissipated around them, fully revealing the delectable blackness of the void. An infinite carpet of stars stared back at him like the soul sparks of millions of his victims; green and yellow Nebulas and dust clouds, their innards on the alter at Commorragh.
“I can smell them,” he hissed, and then pointed. “There.”
A flash, a tiny flicker of reflected light amongst the dull, shifting mass of the asteroid field.
“They hide like vermin.” Added Siirist, the Captain of his guard.
Khilseith spared him a glance. Although loyal to his Kabal and on blood-oath to him, the Captain should always know his place.
Siirist lowered his head and stepped back into the shadows.
“Apologies my Lord.”
They had located six vessels, all deep space haulers huddled together like frightened supplicants.
“None located Sire.”
Khilseith sat back and placed his hands behind his head.
Unescorted. They are trying to make the run to Port Wander by themselves.
“The Mon-keigh will pay for their naivety. We attack now. Go for the center and split them up. We will then scour each vessel in turn.” He turned to Siirist and motioned with a nod of his head. “The crop. I want the best of them. Do you understand?”
* * *
Morten Stroms swung his legs out of his bunk and then in an almost fluid movement, made for the next room. He entered the bridge like a tornado, knocking two servitors to the deck and a third into the far wall.
“Beat to quarters!”, he roared, but when he saw Juliana, his head of security (and critic) raise her eyebrow, he added “Battle stations! Everyone to their posts!”
He sunk back into his command throne and toggled the comm.
“Captain Shala bring her about to port two points. Make it quick but make it look lubberly,” he paused and grinned at Juliana. “Make it look like it’s just a natural turn and that we are not aware of them.”
“Of what Boss?”
“Damn pirates,” he brought up a section of the main view screen and zoomed in on several specks in the distance. He closed his eyes for a few seconds. “I have met this captain before. He is over-confident and despises everything. He will charge down the middle and separate us.”
“Sergeant Rodregez, bring your team to the bridge, All non-essential crew to the armoury. Dombi?”
+ Yes Boss + came a deep baritone voice.
“Dombi. Protect the women and children to the end. Do you understand?”
+ Yes Boss + came the almost happy reply.
The rest of the bridge crew were now at their posts, fussing over screens and auspexes.
“Bring main armament to bear and open the gun ports,” he grinned. “Now let’s give him a nasty surprise.”
There were five haulage vessels in the convoy. They were inter-system bulk-cargo beasts carrying everything a planet may require. Tucked in to the rear and starboard was Strom’s long, cylindrical ship with its loading towers and other paraphernalia that marked it out as a merchant vessel. Stroms named it The Alabama
after a famous vessel from antiquity.
The clue was in the name.
“The battered ship on the left,” hissed Khilseith. “A tanker of little worth, but the crew will be strong. Leave that until last. Concentrate on the others.”
Four Torture Cruisers went straight for the centre, as Stroms had predicted.
Suddenly the void lit up in an overwhelming flash of the brightest light. Khilseith did not flinch like other members of his deck crew. His super-enhanced physiology just made the experience of near blindness into a feeling of pleasure.
One of his cruisers was spiralling uncontrollably into space trailing debris and sparking fire.
“That came from the tanker Sire!”.
Khilseith rose to his feet and threw his goblet at the screen in front of him.
“It was a lance weapon Sire. The Hacathra
had placed itself between the Reaver’s and the cargo ships, and was now taking fire from the remaining attackers. All manner of Dark Eldar weaponry was being brought to bear on the single vessel which shuddered and rocked under the impact. Flashes and burring revealed exotic shielding and unknown technology.
showed them her long hull.
“A hard pounding,” shouted Stroms over the infernal drum of heavy impacts and screaming shields. He managed to smile at Juliana who was desperately trying to remain upright under the assault. “Shall we show them our other tricks?”
Secreted along her sides, disguised as panels, ducts and hatches was a row of gun ports.
“Broadside if you please Captain Shala”
A ripple of heavy guns roared, filling the gap between the two sides with streams of white and yellow tracers.
“Torpedo’s!”. Stroms was almost enjoying himself.
was a prize, nay a well-earned reward after an epic session of cards with a Rogue Trader called... Stroms forgot his name. The cargo ship was an ex-Imperial ‘Q’-ship. A doppelganger designed to put pirates and other undesirables off-guard before falling upon its considerable hidden weaponry.
A Commerce-raider like its namesake of old... and he won it in a game of cards!
“How long Captain Shala?”
The dark-haired female Captain at the helm growled back.
“One half hour Boss. The civilians are running in the right direction to meet the escort vessels.”
The ship rocked with multiple detonations. Stroms stood and watched a larger Eldar Torturer closing in.
“It’s him. Good. He is a vainglorious egomaniac. He has been bested and now he wants us. The others are safe and should soon find protection from the Imperials.” He smiled at Juliana. “Pop them a few bloopers and then turnabout. Captain Shala, fire up the burners and get us,” he paused and pointed at a distant red smudge in the centre of a nebula. “Take us in there and pronto... as fast as you like please.”
Stroms crossed the space between them and plunged into the Archons mind.
Not today foul breed, not today. Note this. I will find you one day and kill you.
Khilseith smiled revealing his sharpened teeth.
The pleasure will be mine… perpetual. You cannot hide forever. The pain vaults in Commorragh await