Hm, he wasn't the last one to arrive, surprising. The two forms of the other Mark V user and female filled his gaze as he entered, apparently embroiled in conversation as the Astartes had moved rather close to her. As the door behind him slide closed and the invading light was blocked out, leaving only the rather large room's own light to keep things visible, Volpex noticed the female had sections of her rifle laid out before her, a text-book calming method but he couldn't argue it's effectiveness. Striding to the right and moving away from the two, his gaze lingering on them for just a moment longer than required before he pulled it away, the inquisitive marine gazed around the hall-like structure. It was actually surprising how much stuff was in here, everywhere he looked another new and interesting piece of technology greeted him with flying sparks and dull hums. Off to the side, he noticed a rather large tarp, tattered and worn from use, covering something rather large indeed. He had an idea of what it was, but assumptions were never wise.
Continuing his lazy search of the hall, he came across a figure illuminated only by a small overhead light and surrounded by whirling machines, upon closer inspection and one of the machines spinning around to look at him and the others, the figure revealed himself to be Ganesh. The man's, if you could even call him that at this point, apparent obsession with replacing flesh with metal was disturbingly visible, but his form did raise an interesting question to Volpex's mind; if he cut him open, would he bleed blood or oil? Although before he had any time to fully explore the pondering, the man spoke with the voice of an angel.... Made of metal...
It frustrated him to say but the man's various chimes and dull groans in place of an actual voice did wonders to confuse him, leaving Volpex struggling to figure out what the cyborg even said. Although thankfully his words and actions were self-explanatory, and as a clamp grasped the large tarp he'd noticed earlier, he watched as the form of his theory came into view.
''It appears you are capable of decent cosmetic work, pity this skill didn't show itself while you were working on yourself.''
He said with a sharp hiss, filled with a slight touch of spite as he strode forward towards the craft's already lowering ramp. Transitioning from ship to ship with a loud thud, Volpex entered the one-of-a-kind ship and disappeared from sight behind large metal plates. The interior was only slightly worse than the exterior, the gun-metal grey making up most, if not all, of the colour in here, separated in various places by glowing panels and buttons he'd leave the figuring out of to others. Moving through the fairly easily layout ship towards the bridge, he passed through a pair of hissing doors and found himself before a set of large glass window, placed in front of various chairs and control panels. Sliding into one the lesser seating spots, near the back and overcast by one of the overhead controls, Volpex leaned back into the metal chair and awaited someone else to take the wheel. While he could fly various aircraft, his arrival to Chaos being the main example, he very much doubted the others would agree with putting their lives in his hands, they all seemed to refer to him as, ''crazy'' or, ''lunatic'' nowadays. Honestly he couldn't see why, the Gods he chose to worship had such similar beliefs and ultimately went hand in hand with one another. Was it simply his own ignorance that blinded him to the truth? If so, he would have to find someone to teach him the error of his ways. His thoughts were then interrupted, his head lifting from the slight tilt downward he'd left it at before he started thinking. The sound of sliding metal filled his ears, followed by boots on grate as the female strode past and placed herself in the pilots chair, that delightful groan of leathery skin filling the room. The others followed soon after, their heavy thuds making his chair vibrate as Volpex brought an eye over to Mazim, inspecting the marine's form with a lazy roll before flicking his gaze back to the window.
''Well, let's hope this thing can take a hit, otherwise this will be a very short mission.''
He said to no one in particular, the loud roar of engines overtaking every other noise as they lifted off and exited the hanger.
Next stop, Space Hulk....
The Fifth Rig
"As do yours, Child." The assassin answered back, reassembling her rifle with a precision Sekel would normally associate with trans humans. Looking from the woman, he instead cast his gaze around the chamber. It stretched onward and outward, filled to the brim with machinery, servitors, and thralls running about tending to their business. It was an ugly place, creations of half life and steel working on hybrid abominations.
“I imagine he’ll be joining us shortly. No doubt he has supplications to make and wards to inscribe before we depart.” The assassin said to Sekel's now turned back and he could not help but break into a laugh. "He chases after his god like a pet to its master; he is no true champion of the gods. Very few of them are." Those last words he spoke with contempt he did nothing to disguise.
From his side another entered, the half-kin Volpex. That one was beyond contempt, worshipping both the prince of pleasure and mongrel blood god? Were he to cross Sekel, then his blade would drink well, of that he was sure.
Deep within the workshop chamber stood what appeared to be an emaciated figure in tattered robes. Beside him stood a tech-cherub which shambled towards the group before blurting something in a machine code that was nothing but pain to the ears. Other thralls moved to assist the figure, which then turned around and looked at the group. Ganesh was nothing worth looking at, a garish amalgamation of man and machine.
"You are Bartimus'- I mean Laetres' men. I am Ganesh, your creator. I already know what you are here to do." The heretical magos voice, heavy with static, grated from a vox speaker. "The ship is almost ready but let me give you some word of advice..." Ganesh droned on and Sekel's eyes glazed over as he lost himself in a memory, he and his brothers assaulting a xenos fleet through a radiation storm they had been pursuing for weeks.
"Its called: Spearhead. Not the best name but its something. It fires off explosive acidic rounds that can burn the hull of a ship and will destroy the matter overtime. I made it with Necron technology with the infusion of imperial tech. It took me years to perfect but now I have done it." Ganesh continued, and Sekel returned to the now in time to see the ship revealed.
He was not impressed, in fact he outright loathed what was docked before him. Where he had expected a modified thunderhawk or fire raptor, instead he stared at a bastardized hybrid of human capability and xenos technology. He was not adverse to the use of alien tech, the Mechanicum of old had worked wonders reverse engineering and recreating technology for mankind. But this thing in front of him was a perversion of all the senses and not in a good way.
Ganesh continued, likely not noticing the look of murder Sekel gave him at creating such a thing and expecting them to use it. "Fly the ship to the space hulk and get inside. Find your way to the center of it and get the weapon cache, pretty damn simple. We don't know much about the weapons or the people in the hulk but they probably wont..." Ganesh finished, but Sekel was beyond listening and already walking towards the embarkation ramp.
“I hope you don’t mind if I take the driver’s seat?” The assassin said, she appeared to be of the same mind as Sekel and her stride nearly matched his own. Emerging into the cockpit, Sekel took the copilot seat; he was no dedicated pilot but all astartes had training in piloting spacecraft.
''Well, let's hope this thing can take a hit, otherwise this will be a very short mission.'' Volpex said from behind him, and Sekel could not keep himself from growling. "Such a thing would do well to either improve this abominations appearance or remove its blight upon the galaxy."
Without much hunt of engine startup, the ship lifted off and out of the workshop with little wake. The silence of the engines, smoothness of their motion, did nothing to improve Sekels opinion of their vessel. As they neared the space hulk their ship was hailed to identify or be shot; a crude threat which they could easily call but one in which the assassin took a different approach. “This is a strike force under the command of Julia Sanska, bond-servant of Rouge Trader Maskaly. I am under orders to retrieve Clementina Maskly from your Space Hulk and authorized to release the cargo of her ship to you in exchange for you aid. Do we have permission to land?” She said and Sekel shook his head.
"We should power up all weapon systems and obliterate some of their defense batteries. Show them the futility in believing they can deny us."
Bractus' Blood Tooth
The aethyr stirred. It did that often when the warband gathered, as if responding to the presence of so many wills of strength collected in the same place. Sehkt allowed the currents to flow through his mind and body, his soulsight taking in the entire room; the sights, scents and sensations of their very essences were clear to him. Each member of this motley association of the lost, the forgotten and the damned... tasted differently, for want for a more appropriate word that wasn't empyreal, and thus extremely dangerous, in origin. Sekht had formed his opinions of them long ago, the instinctive ability to weight a person's worth was a boyhood talent of his that served him well even now so many millennia and so many stars away from the corpse-orb that his home had become after the accursed Imperium had finished raping it and spitefully gutted the already half-dead planet, and very few of them were positive.
'The Son of the Legion That Fled; his body half lost to the whims of Daemons, his soul completely lost to his own poor choices. He is dead and damned already, that he hasn't yet realized only proves what he is. A fool, nothing more.'
'The Dreaming Raven; his soul singing with desires for childhood fantasies to be made real, yet blind to the paradox of bringing freedom through corruption, and beneath pity for believing that the denizens of the dark care a whit for the souls of the mass of cattle that inhabit the bloated empire he and I once called master.'
'The Fallen Bladesman; his aspect one of beauty, but his essence blackened and ruined by ten millennia of pointless indulgence and childish sadism. Seeking a lord who does not remember his name and would not care if he did, his skill is undeniable though he stands deep in the shadow of the Soulthief. He is lost to his own desires, a cycle of hunger and rage that will inevitably destroy him.'
'The Soul-leech; nothing more than a parasite of the aethyr, feeding on the dregs of soulstuff that it can take from the thousands it murders in a pathetic attempt to forstall a fated damnation that was ordained before the flesh-bodies of it's sires were even born into this tenuous reality. A valueless creature beneath my notice.'
'The One With Bloody Hands; a creature of the dark that lives where others die, perhaps he believes it fate or a sign of a destiny, but nought more than random coincidence. He stands apart, his own luck bringing misfortune in it's wake, he knows he will never be one of the trusted, he is a warrior without brothers. I would pity him if I had any of that emotion remaining.'
'The Waking Mind; a weapon that has learned to think for himself and see the truth of the universe without guidance from those who have already born witness to the horrors beneath the gossamar fabric that is real-space. Yet he courts a terrible fate, striding two of the Four Paths and believing that the masters of those paths do not notice his steps. He will choose, either slaughter or hedonism, or his essence will become as nought.'
'The Living Weapon; a naive thing who believes that the touch of the aethyr will bypass her because her voice and body have not accepted the Primordial Truth, yet her soul is as corrupted as the rest of this patchwork assortment of monsters and madmen. She simply does not see it, either through wilful blindness or laughable denial. And yet, she reminds me of my younger self, arrogantly believing that because I did not will it, the darkness could not touch me. But the truth was shown to me, mercilessly and painfully, and eventually it will be shown to her as well.'
'The Mutant; a creature of base desire and even baser thoughts. His mind looks to nothing but survival, as if simply seeing tomorrow is enough of a goal. Fickle and easily changed, he will eventually betray the wrong lord and end as an example. He does not live, he merely exists and yet is content with that, for which I despise him utterly.
They were indeed a strange association, and yet Sehkt called himself one of them. A sign of his own desperation? Perhaps, yet where else could he go at this moment. He was without direction for this stage of his wandering existence, and this place was as good as any. Sehkt did not expect to find the purpose that would restore his desire to wage the Long War again in the company of these renegades, but unlike the Ratling he still sought to find that purpose. And perhaps in the service of the demagogue that even now made promises of a better tomorrow that Sehkt highly doubted he believed himself, he would find that purpose.
Laertes's words engaged Sehkt's minds; a triad of enemies each with their own petty goals standing in their way; the daughter of one of the star-treading Rogue Traders guarding a cache of weaponry that could change the fortunes of the warband, a dagger of mystical owned by one of the Imperium's self-destructive watchdogs known as an Inquisitor, lost on a world of death and primitive humans barely a step beyond animals. And of course, the obligatory death threats that all insecure leaders felt the need to make, a real warlord did not need to voice such threats, they were unspoken and always-known. But it mattered little, Sehkt had not sworn service to Laertes because he respected him, but because the warmonger might help guide him to a cause that he could believe in. And if not... Sehkt put that thought aside for another day, Laertes had not failed him yet.
As his name was called Sehkt suppressed a sneer, though why he had no idea as nobody could see beneath the cyclopean gaze of his warhelm, at the names that preceeded and followed. The ratling, the hound and the xenos worm. Allies that he would prefer to be distant, but nought could be done. The promise of an Inquisitor however was motivation; something he welcomed fervently. Inquisitors had not existed when Prospero was burnt and murdered, yet it was their ilk that had made it happen; those human sheep that believed themselves wolves and sought to usurp the galaxy that Sehkt and his brothers had bled and died to take light-year by light-year. What secrets he might learn, only a high-ranking member of that haughty cabal would be trusted to bear an artefact of the empyrean, or even be in close proximity to it. Sehkt allowed himself a slight upturn of his mouth, not a smile, but perhaps a small smirk. Laertes could have the dagger, no doubt he would use it to wage war on others who walked the Path to Damnation as most of their shared kind did. Sehkt cared nought for prestige in the eyes of the Eight Legions, his own was gone and theirs had been the only opinions he cared about. Hurting the Imperium that betrayed he and his brothers for their attempt to warn them of the False Warmaster's treason? Now that was Sehkt truly cared about.
And a Master Inquisitor would be aware of many things that could hurt the Imperium of Man. Many, many things.
Sehkt walked from the antechamber, barely acknowledging the "blessing" that Laertes's pet spoke over them, and returned to his chambers to prepare for the mission ahead of him. His Rubricae, once Sergeant Adar and Brother Hez'aq of the company that Sehkt had commanded before the Razing of Prospero and the Battle of Terra had destroyed them, took position at either side of the only door into the room. Once Sehkt had commanded hundreds of soldiers, but now only these two remained in his service, the others now slaves to other Sorcerers of his shattered Legion or their metal casings destroyed in battle and their souls lost to the Great Sea. As he did he observed the tides of the Immaterium shifting without cease, over the millennia he had become an adept at reading them and in a few minute changes in what mortals would insufficiently term "colour" and "shape" he felt that someone nearby was conversing about him. Recalling the memory of the meeting Sehkt stilled the recollection and looked at each member of the warband; eventually he noticed the Raven's gaze flicker to him as the Inquisitor was mentioned. Clearly the initiate knew what a Sorcerer of Sehkt's calibre could do with an Inquisitor of the False Emperor, did he seek to prevent that? Sehkt let the memory fade into the past and the present to re-establish itself, knowing that his Rubricae would have killed anything that dared approach him while he lingered in a fugue state. The former loyalist would not be able to directly impact Sehkt's mission without abandoning his own, an act that would see him butchered by Laertes without delay. And yet the Night Lord, Laertes' hound and informer, would be.
Sehkt inhaled softly, knowing that he should expect somebody to attempt to prevent him from taking the Inquisitor's secrets; either out of fear of what he would do with them, or a spiteful wish to keep him from becoming more powerful through them. Feeling the small smirk pull at his lips again, Sehkt spoke aloud for the first time in the day.
"Let them try."
The Fifth Rig
A loud noise comes from the communications and a distorted voice starts to speak. "...We read...does this mean...negotiate...for the people-" it shuts off quickly and another noise blasts the communications. After 5 minutes another voice comes out of the communications, this one is clear and loud. "Hello, this is Lord Kraskol. We understand that you want to retrieve that damned woman. Sadly she is not in our company but at the center of our home. We will help you though but we must go over a couple of things." The mans voice is heavy but has a strange accent. "You said you were a strike force...that was a very unwise decision to send more soldiers instead of a diplomatic force. We request that you leave you arms on your ship also when you arrive on board, you will follow our men to the mobile station and you will talk with your 'trader' so we negotiate the prisoner and the big men that came into our grand station and ruined our people."
A ship that has attached on the space hulk is slowly being open as pieces of scrap fly out and the ship's hangar is revealed, broken and barely functional. Another loud noise goes off on the communications and a radically different voice greets you, "Slowly move into the station and stay at one course. Failure to follow these instructions will result in you being blown to bits in 2 minutes. Now execute your actions and don't try anything!"
Bractus' Bloody Tooth
You have all been placed into your deployment pods. Under your feet the hangar opens up and people begin to flee from the hangar as the floor opens up slowly and the oxygen is vaporized. Your pods then fall into free space and you explode out of the ship. You move closer to the planet and the other pods begin to diverge off course and you are soon separated.
The planet starts to turn into a blood red color below you and you begin to fall unconscious as you fall closer to the planet you hear a sharp whisper in your ear before your eyes shut. "This is my planet and it's under my rules, little ones."
Osborn you land close to a small hut with two tribal men advancing onto your position and one pulling off the scrap from your broken down pod. Juda, you land next to Osborn and another one of the tribal men runs out of the hut and proceeds towards your pod to do the same. Azor you land on a small vicious jungle booming with wildlife and two beats converging on your pod about to rush you while a man points his finger at your pod yelling angrily. Tilraenen, you are being dragged by a man as you see another pod and two beasts rushing to get to it in a wild jungle island.
Volpex leaned back into the chair, his black arms crossed over his chest and head tilted down slightly, a passing thought turning into a chaotic storm of questions and ideas. His mind was flooded with the build up of so many years of hushed, and not so hushed, insults throw at him because of his choice of worship. Had he merely joined the wrong warband? That would be the simplest answer, and most favourable, but fate never was quite so easy. Then what was the problem? He knew better than anyone how little he knew about the Dark Gods and their followers, so was it really just a matter of ignorance? A long breath turned into a anger fuelled growl, rage beginning to boil within him as his own lack of knowledge and understanding. He lifted his gaze, black eyes glaring at those around him with contempt hidden behind an emotionless helmet: A Raven Guard who thought he was crazed, an Assassin who couldn't care less and a fellow worshipper of Slaanesh who despised him. With his bunch as his back-up, he'd personally take the damned Rattling, at least that thing was scared of him...
The voice of the Assassin then awoke him from his inner thoughts, her words directed into the vox as they neared the all encompassing Space Hulk before them. A few dim lights here, a smoking section there, a barely held together mass of twisted metal and broken ships.... Yep, definitely a Space Hulk. The vox growled into life soon after the Assassin's words, what sounded like a bang echoing through before a voice, not unlike Ganesh's, came through. A few disjointed words poured through, sounding rather desperate which wasn't really surprising when you considered the state of the place they called, ''home''. Another sharp bang cut off the voice, that was starting to get annoying, and a silence followed. Volpex took this pause to voice himself, present his views on things.
''It would appear our 'Lord's' intel was incorrect about this place, seems the rouges have been reduced to the deprived and insane.''
A short time later, probably filled with more of Sekel's suggestions to destroy parts of the mass in front of them, the vox roared into life once more. This time it projected a voice far better than the last, clear and strong, probably the leader of whatever fraction of intelligent life remained aboard this thing. 'Lord Kraskol' eh? Even in the darkest reaches of space these people still clung to their worthless titles, Volpex would enjoy removing this blight from the face of the galaxy. Although his words were odd, he seemed to believe the Assassin's little lie almost too easily, telling them it was an 'unwise decision to send more troops' and they should have sent a more diplomatic group. A harsh laugh escaped Volpex's mouth at the one, probably sharing the moment with Sekel, the idiot had no idea what they really were, nor what they were capable of...
An instruction or two later, an empty threat echoing through the vox in the place of final words, and they were entering the Space Hulk's hanger. Or rather, the shambled mess of cargo claws and scrap metal. The landing was smooth, unsurprisingly, and the craft's landing struts touched the cold metal below, the engines powering down with a hum. With a small motion, Volpex was out of his seat and stood at the exit to the bridge, his arms crossed over his chest and gaze cast to those within.
''We find ourselves at a crossroads, surprise is at our back and the beings out there believe we are but a simple force. So how do we act? I'm sure one or more of you would agree with my idea of merely hunting down whatever excuse for a leader they have, this 'Lord Kraskol' being the best guess, and torturing the location of our quarry out of him.''
He took a pause, a roll of eyes or smack of lips filling the room at the prospect of torture.
''But, undue fighting could attract more... Potent, creatures to us. Namely, that Gene-Steeler cult. And if we do battle against them and the rouges, no doubt the Orks will sniff out the large conflict.''
He ended with a hiss, the prospect of fighting all three of the groups aboard this place at the same time both exciting him and annoying him. He preferred a cleaner way of battle, systematically destroying one threat at a time until nothing but the object remains. Simply fighting everything in one massive brawl, while effect at leaving no survivors, was just necessarily messy....
She continued to approach, mindful that at any moment a fire-fight could break out and she would have to take evasive action. Sekel suggested their blast their way in. “If they do think they can deny us we shall, but I’d rather not fight when there is an easier method of insertion.” Ioana retorted. Volpex mussed about the stability of the ship to himself and she felt no need to comment further. Once they were inside the hulk, this ship could burn for all she cared. Ganesh seemed exceptionally proud of it, but if he took so much joy in its creation then surely the opportunity to recreate it would elate him. Hopefully it would drive him to improving it too.
Suddenly, the vox crackled into life, but too intercut with static for her to pick out anything. “Say again, we do not copy. Repeat we do not copy and are continuing our approach.” Five minutes went by before they heard anything else. Ioana listened to this Lord Kraskol as he barked his terms and conditions at them. She turned to Sekel “How quaint. Still, this will be easier than forcing our way in.” She wondered if the woman she was impersonating would have paid them any more mind than she was. Perhaps.
The side of the hulk opened, the vacuum pulling out loose debris from the ‘hangar’ of the spacers. Volpex came forward, commenting on the state of the spacer’s abode. “Funny. I was just thinking in dim lighting you could mistake this for our vessel” She said flatly, keeping her eyes forward. The hangar was circular and ahead of them was a large door, presumably where the rest of the spacers dwelt. Only 20 soldiers surrounded their ship, their weapons crude and likely useless against the four of them. It was almost insulting.
Had she been alone she might have continued this ruse further, but the instant they stepped out of the Spearhead the lie would unravel. Three Astartes was hardly a small strike force. Volpex, unsurprisingly, suggested hunting down the leader and torturing the information out of him. “Let them come, Sharktooth. The more we draw into a brawl here, the less there will be elsewhere to guard the cache and we can slip away in the maelstrom. That is…” she peered behind her seat to look at him “…if you can tear yourself away from it.” Ioana began to cycle down the engines and cycle up the weapons systems, setting them to automatic where possible. “As for Kraskol, I imagine once his people are dying and his home is aflame he will be forthcoming enough. Now, shall we begin?”
The Astartes readied themselves as did she, her rifle suspended in one hand and her sword at her waist. She began lowering the assault ramp and stood over the command console, opening the vox once more. “You misunderstand. This is not a negotiation.” The main cannon on the Spearhead fired forward, the shot tearing down the doors in front of them. The shockwave reverberated round the hangar and the men arrayed before them began to frantically fire their weapons as the ship, doing little damage, if any at all. The Astartes spilled from the assault ramp and she followed after them, staying close to the Spearhead, it’s looming form providing shadows for her to use to obscure herself. She didn’t bother to fire at the spacers. The Astartes would tear through them in short order, and her ammunition was better spent on more elite foes. Her synskin became a hue of shaded metal and she used her relative obscurity to try and spot and hidden gun batteries or weapons systems. Equally she watched to see what, if anything would come through the hole they had just blasted…
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