The interceptor trembled in his grip, emitting a low, throaty purr. One-Two-Eight's red-stained face broke into a grin, his eyes never leaving the descending, dark figures. They began to twist, turning their attentions, their rifles, downwards. It started to rain fire, hard rounds and bright, scintillating las-blasts. The interceptor shrugged it off, continuing to rise, unperturbed by the enemy's - How could One-Two-Eight be in doubt, now? - Feeble attempts to halt it. Outside, the first of the dark, menacing figures became level with the interceptor's long, graceful snout. He saw rheumy, bloodshot eyes behind a tight, leather mask. A targeting reticule flashed over One-Two-Eight's vision, circling the figure. The detail was astonishing - One-Two-Eight could see yellow, grime-encrusted fingernails, flayed lips, torn, fluttering fabric.
Attention: Target found...
'Goodbye,' One-Two-Eight laughed, depressing the firing stud. The fighter's frame shuddered, rounds hurtling forth from the under-slung cannons. The warrior - Though, such a description was insulting - Burst
. One-Two-Eight watched him come apart, flesh pulverised by the mass-reactive rounds, blood filling the air in a fine, glittering mist. One-Two-Eight was already rotating the interceptor, searching, hunting. His veins were pumping with adrenaline, with blood-lust. These bastards
, he reminded himself, had fired first. They deserved nothing but death.
He continued to rise, to kill. They were panicking, wrestling with one another as ropes tangled, crying out silently. Sporadic fire was still bouncing off of the hull. One-Two-Eight paid it no heed, as he blasted away with murderous glee, a killer's grin, a knife-slit of teeth, upon his face. The walls were crumbling, blood running down them in scarlet waterfalls, raining shards of bone, flaps of skin and chunks of muscle. His limbs were aflame, his head was pounding. But he ignored it, immersed in this act of butchery. And then, something landed on the fighter. The entire vehicle bucked, before One-Two-Eight regained control, panicking. There was a man crouched before the cockpit blister, a fugging
man with a fugging
He was tall, wearing a bloodstained coat, fur trimming the cuffs and hood. He wore a mask, fashioned in the visage of a raven, and hateful, golden eyes shone from within. Thick, coiling pipes twisted from the raven-mask's beak, disappearing over the man's - Though, One-Two-Eight suddenly doubted this thing
was a man - Shoulders. There were symbols of eyes, of arrows, golden and red-flecked, all across the beast's body. He raised a snub-nosed rifle, shouted something that made One-Two-Eight's ears bleed, and fired.
The canopy broke
. Rounds pierced it, cracking the entire thing like it was nothing, and hammered into One-Two-Eight's upper body. He felt his grav-armour deform, and then with shocking clarity, break. Rounds bit into his flesh, but One-Two-Eight continued to stare, eyes wide in disbelief. He was powerless, at this beast-man's mercy, and getting killed. Pain blossomed across his body, and then the man's gun clicked - Empty
. One-Two-Eight laughed through his grimace, lifted one hand - Middle finger pointed to the heavens.
'You have failed, bastard,' He sneered, vision tunneling. 'I'm still alive.'
And then the man reached to his side and grabbed another magazine.
you,' One-Two-Eight groaned, though he was not sure where that word - Fug
? - Came from.
He was going to die. Cornered, in a seat, like a coward. It envenomed him, drove fiery spikes into his heart.
There was another impact upon the hull, another figure. One-Two-Eight's luck had finally run out, he was counting the seconds left of his life.
The man-beast died with a whir. A saw, viciously toothed, erupted from his chest. Blood jetted everywhere, an impossible amount, a tide of red. One-Two-Eight leaned over, gasping. It felt like someone had poured acid down his throat, into his lungs. The wounds that peppered his shoulders and chest felt insignificant in comparison.
He watched the bifurcated figure fall away, trailing intestines, and smiled at his saviour. Through the spiderweb of cracks, he could see a bronze skull and a red, clacking eye.
When he spoke, it was in a voice utterly devoid of emotion. It sounded like knives sliding together.
'Please land this craft Savior. There is no where for you to go out there. The complex will be safe soon. These Oracle devils have succumbed to our counter strike.
The words were drowned out by the pounding of blood in One-Two-Eight's ears. His grip was slackening on the control stick, his breath ragged and wet. The figure punched through the canopy, peeling One-Two-Eight's fingers from it, and began to descend. One-Two-Eight leaned over, feeling the safety harness bite into his shoulders, and wheezed. He was spasming, uncontrollably, succumbing to the pain. What was happening
With a pneumatic hiss, the fighter touched down. One-Two-Eight snapped back to reality, straightening. He lifted the shattered canopy, striding out. There were dozens of figures in the once-vacated hanger, all scarlet robes and shining, bronze skin. Red eyes, whirring and mechanical, watched One-Two-Eight. All of them held weapons, rifles and blades and axes. Some were injured. All stood, impassively, untouched by the biting chill.
They spoke. One-Two-Eight didn't hear, but allowed them to lead him away. He wasn't a prisoner, he realised. They were an escort.
I must be pretty import-
One-Two-Eight's vision faded, and his helmet kissed the floor.
His eyelids pulled apart, slowly. He was laying on a bench, staring upwards at a pair of figures - One, garbed in sunlight, long, silken hair flowing around his dark, handsome face. He clutched a flaming sword, his other hand occupied by a vast, scissoring claw. The other was wide, wearing sea-green armour, his features broad, noble, centered around a dignified nose. He held a mace, standing back-to-back with his fellow, surrounded by corpses of huge, lumbering Greenskins. The resemblance was uncanny - A father and son, the greatest of the great. One-Two-Eight averted his gaze, pulling himself up. His grav-armour had been pulled away, everything above his rib-cage discarded. His skin was pockmarked, stained brown with dried blood.
There were other giants here. Two-Seven-Two sat opposite him, his flesh scorched. One-Two-Eight's eyes widened - The bastards had survived. He had abandoned them, and now they were here, sitting opposite him. They, too, had had a battering, he concluded. They looked haggard, weary, injured. One-Two-Eight grinned, wetting his lips. He was hurting, he could barely think past the veil of pain. The adrenaline was finally wearing off, leaving his hands trembling, his pupils dilated.
One-Two-Eight was sat besides two monsters. One had a claw for an hand, much like the roof-painted angel, but was terrible where the latter was beautiful. He was gaunt, a corpse-thing, his claw stained. He was scarred, like a slave, and his sole remaining eye leaked bitterness, animal intelligence. The other, broader than broad, looked wrong
. As if his skin didn't fit, One-Two-Eight decided. His movements, the subtlest readjustment, was sickening to witness. Five-Hundred was scarred into its chest, and One-Two-Eight took an immediate disliking to this glued-together thing
. Oaths were scripted upon it, praising the Emperor - Whoever the fug that was.
'No Emperor of mine,' One-Two-Eight sniffed, clenching his hands. His fingers were stiff and unresponsive, aching.
A cloaked man, as large as One-Two-Eight, was administering medical aid to the group; swabbing wounds, knitting flesh together, injecting them with a strange, glowing liquid.
He knelt before One-Two-Eight, brandishing a needle.
One-Two-Eight's hand shot up, seizing the man's wrist and yanking him closer. His fingers were like steel clamps, his eyes glittering.
'If I'm not dead now, I won't be in an hour.'
The man had frozen, shock written in his features. He was unaccustomed, and unappreciative, of being touched. No-one was supposed to touch him, he was the healer here, One-Two-Eight decided.
After a moment, the medical man spoke - 'This not for healing your body. It is a serum that will help heal your mind from the intensive, long-term state of surgery and unconsciousness. It will speed the process of your brain awaking from slumber, which should aid in your memory returning to you.'
'Well, thank you very much,' Ptolemy hissed, low enough so that no-one else heard. 'But, look around you. Everyone else has taken your serum
,' He spat the word, like a curse. 'So, I will decline. Move on.'
The man straightened, stood. 'I couldn't care less,' He drawled, and moved on.
One-Two-Eight looked up, at his original three companions.
,' He said, cheerfully. 'Friends, you still draw breath,' He feigned concern, smiling that broad, handsome smile of his. 'I had doubted you, but perhaps I was wrong.'
He raised a hand, pointing at their blistered, burnt flesh.
'Did it rain fire?'