Neski awoke with the sound of a nearby explosion. He found he still could not move, and was in severe pain. With only the ability to look up at the mouldy ceiling above, his frustration grew.
Not far off he heard several men talk amongst themselves, though he could not clearly make out what they were saying; “Whose there?!” Neski shouted in irritation to his circumstances.
“Sergeant you’ve awoken?!” said an Astartes kneeling beside him.
Neski saw the battle scarred features of Brother Bartemus, his facial expression showed deep concern. “How are you feeling sir?” he asked.
“I’ve been better,” Neski grumbled. “Status report?” he immediately asked, wanting to know everything that had happened whilst he had been asleep.
“I don’t know how to tell you this, sir?!” the warrior mumbled. “The company was decimated; we have only a handful of warriors left!”
Neski’s eyes were wide open with shock, “How long have I been in the black sleep for?”
“Almost two weeks now!”
“What?!” Roared Neski, “How? Where’s Captain Hektor? Librarian Khorvus?!” Bewilderment had set in and so many questions flooded his thoughts. So much had happened in the past two weeks, the Night Stalkers went from being in control to now being almost completely wiped out.
Bartemus did not meet the Sergeants stare; “They’re dead, all dead,” he said simply. A small tear ran down the side of his cheek, anger and sorrow shone through his watery eyes. Neski had never seen his hard headed Brother break down emotionally before. “We’ve spent the past two weeks running and hiding from them!”
Bartemus wiped his cheek with his gauntlet and cleared his throat, “Sorry sir! It was just horrendous, when Captain Hektor died from the explosion you were both caught up in we retreated back to the pickup point under Chief Librarian Khorvus. We were then assaulted by what appeared to be another Chapter’s Thunderhawks. There was nothing we could do but try to run!”
The tragic update had hit Neski hard, but being the practical man he was he tried to block out thoughts of despair. “How many of us are left Brother?” Neski asked anxiously.
“Thirteen of us left sir! Me, you, Sergeant Kyril of Victrix squad, Apothecary Demski, Ploss, Graves, Waltz, Doelago, and five others from Nocte Squad.” Bartemus replied counting the names off his fingers.
“Get Apothecary Demski over!” Neski commanded.
Bartemus shouted the Apothecary over, “Brother you need rest!” the apothecary said as he walked to where the Sergeant lay.
“I’ve rested enough! Demski give me a shot of pain killers and I want something so I can stand and fight!” Neski growled in anger.
“It will cause you more…” The Apothecaries words were cut short.
“Look Demski, the last thing I want is for more of my brothers to die hauling my ass through these Emperor forsaken streets!”
Demski shook his head in apprehension but took out a couple of syringes form his narthecium pack from his left gauntlet, he knew better than to argue against an Astartes like Neski. The initial pain of the syringes piercing his flesh was welcoming as he would soon be able to stand and fight alongside his brothers.
It did not take long for the drugs to work on his body, Neski could feel his heart beat quickening. He could feel tingling sensations in the tips of his fingers. Forcing his muscles to move, he managed to wiggle his toes after several minutes of flexing Neski managed to stand up.
Kyril walked over from one of the gaping holes in the wall of the tightly packed room. Light shining through the hole was dim, which meant that night would soon be approaching. “Neski, good to see you’ve managed to haul yourself out of bed!” Kyril grunted in an amused tone.
“I couldn’t let you boys have all the fun!” Neski replied with a grin. “Where are the others?” he asked.
“Waltz and Ploss are on the roof, Graves and Doelago are scouting our perimeter, the other five from Nocte Squad are in the building opposite, should the enemy arrive on our position we can hit them from both sides of the street.”
Neski nodded his head in agreement, though what Bartemus had said earlier troubled him; “Brother Bartemus said that Thunderhawks from another chapter had arrived after our battle and tried to kill everyone?!”
Sergeant Kyril tensed up, his armoured fist clenched tightly. His expression was thunderous, “Two Chapters! I know because the second one hunted me and my squad, for four days. They killed everyone.”
“Incoming!” Came shouts from the roof top.
“Bartemus!” Sergeant Kyril shouted, taking command. Brother Bartemus did not need further instructions; he picked up his heavy bolter and aimed it at the street below. Demski grabbed his bolter and crouched low to the ground. Kyril stood by the rooms doorway.
With no immediate weapon on hand Sergeant Neski crouched to the floor next to Demski, several minutes of silence passed. “What do you see brother?” Neski hissed in anticipation.
“Nothing yet!” Bartemus replied. Then all of a sudden the floors of the building started shaking a little. There came a deep rumbling sound and tracks, going over bricks and metal. “Shit! Predator, a destructor one at that.”
“Let it pass!” Kyril hissed through the com-link.
Bartemus dragged his heavy bolter out of sight, and blew a heavy sigh of relief. “You’re not going to like this Sergeant, but there are five ten man tactical squads down below,” said a voice crackling through the com-link.
Neski shook his head in disbelief, what was troubling him more was the fact he didn’t even have a weapon with which to defend himself with. Fighting with his bare fists against ordinary soldiers wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but against other Marines especially when they out numbered him was a major problem.
“Sergeant!” the com-link crackled again this time the voice was much louder and clearer with a hint of apprehension in his tone. “You’re not going to like this but I think their auspex scanners have picked us up!”
“What?!” Kyril shouted.
The sound of two krak missiles fired from the rooftop let them know that Ploss and Waltz were going straight for the tank. Bartemus needed no instructions, he immediately added his heavy bolter into the attack, spraying the warriors below with a hail of deadly bolter rounds.
The Astartes from Nocte squad added their payload into the fire fight, cutting down many of the Marines below. Two explosions were heard seconds later causing the building Neski was in to shake a little. “Where did that come from?” Neski asked in surprise.
“Graves and Doelago I guess,” Kyril said unsure. Neski could hear the sadistic laugh of Brother Bartemus as he cut down several of the enemy marines with his heavy bolter, it was clear he was enjoying paying them back for what they had done to the Chapter.
A hail of bullets flew in Bartemus’s direction but he quickly managed to manoeuvre out the way in time before being caught by it, “Keep low Sergeant, they’re firing back!” Bartemus shouted over the roar of gunfire.
Another two missiles were fired from the rooftop, followed by grenades and the screams of dying Marines, and then a monstrous explosion as the Predator Tank burst into flame.
The com-link crackled to life again, “Sergeant! Ploss here, Predator is down! Hostiles are assaulting Nocte Squads position!”
“Damn it, they’re on their own! There’s nothing we can do here whilst we’re being pinned down.” Kyril responded frustration clear in his voice. “Ploss, you and Waltz need to get down here! If they try to come up we need all the fire power we can get!”
“Copy that Sergeant, on our way!” Ploss responded.
“Emperor damn them! I don’t have a weapon!” Neski shouted furiously.
More rounds of bolter came flying through the walls and jutting out into the ceiling, one of them caught penetrated his power plant and embedded itself into his back. The Marine fell forwards in a clatter, with a moan. “Bartemus!” Neski shouted.
Apothecary Demski crawled to the injured warrior, checking him over; “He’ll be alright if we can get him to safety soon so can I properly work on him!”
The sound of heavy footsteps echoed through the open corridor, “incoming!” Kyril shouted from the doorway. Neski surged forwards and picked up Bartemus’s heavy bolter and aimed it at the stairway.
“Don’t shoot! Its Graves and Doelago!” came a shout from the stairway. Neski eased his aim. “Come on through!” Kyril shouted. Several seconds later Waltz and Ploss came running down to the third floor where everyone was situated.
“Nocte Squad has been overrun!” Ploss said panting heavily.
“The Emperor knows their names!” Neski responded in dismay.
“Well brothers, this is where we make our last stand are you ready?!” Kyril said defiantly. “Death and Glory!” everyone shouted in unison.