40K Trials of Tobias, Session 3
I awaken aboard a cruiser in orbit, my wounds healed, a bionic installed in place of my missing right forearm. My broken bones have long healed and my blood has been replenished. Bulwark lays at my side on a clean white sheet of cloth and my pistol and ammunition are holstered, hanging from the end of the cot. I realize that I'm out of my armor for once, my suit of azure power armor, with inbuilt psychic hood, powered down across the room from me in an alcove, while I am garbed in a simple black tunic. I test my new artificial arm and it responds perfectly. while it'll take some getting used to, I'm sure I'll adapt in relatively short order.
I stand up, a tad unsteadily, then recover my balance. I stand in front of my armor and three chapter serfs emerge from the shadows.
Thirty minutes later, I'm fully armed and armored, and my psychic hood is online. I tread implacably out into the corridor, swinging my hooded features from left to right slowly as I familiarize myself with my surroundings. This cruiser's markings identify it as the strike cruiser Ajax, a vessel unfamiliar to me until now.
Several minutes later, I've become acquainted with the ship. I'm speaking to Iron Father Malachaz in the armory of the ship, in solitude and calm. Suddenly a thought comes to mind.
"Where was the mortal?"
"What mortal?"
"When I fought the daemon, there was a mortal who saved me and allowed me to land the killing blow."
"Any evacuated survivors were send to their families, as per standard operating procedures."
"And if they had no family?"
He looks at me inquisitively. "The Schola Progenium, of course."
I nod and depart, thanking the grizzled Iron Father for his time.
Suddenly a vox-horn sounds. "Planetfall in estimate thirty minutes, all hands to landing stations, all Astartes to drop pods."
I head to the nearest hangar as indicated by my perfect recall of the ship's schematics, and I wonder what became of the girl. Did she meet her fate at the hands of the xenos, or daemons, or heretics? Did she get off-planet before the orbital bombardment began?
In a rare flash of prescience, I realize...We will meet again.
I enter the drop pod and prepare for deployment, stowing Bulwark under my seat and ensuring that my pistol is mag-clamped to my hip. I grit my teeth as a klaxon sounds and the drop pod explodes out of the hangar, descending rapidly into the atmosphere of an unknown planet.
"Battle-brother!" I bark to be heard over the roar of the descent. An Astartes next to me answers. "Yes, brother?"
"To what planet are we bound?"
"Enbar Prime, adjacent to the Cadian Sector."
"The Traitor Marines have come. A 13th Black Crusade has been launched on the Cadian Gate."
"Then why are we not there?"
"A splinter fleet broke off from the main force, perhaps to isolate Cadia from the rest of the Imperium by blockade. We are deploying to the surface of Enbar Prime to secure it and prevent any more heretics from establishing a foothold planetside."
"Any /more/ heretics?"
"They've already landed in part, we will face heavy opposition."
"Understood. Thank you, brother."
A message flashes across my vision.
I blink an acknowledgement and thirty seconds later the retro-thrusters fire and we slam into the ground, leaving a massive gouge in the earth. The hatches blow open and we disembark, sweeping the area for any signs of life. I reach out with my mind, but fail to detect any presence.
I blink another acknowledgement and Sergeant Xanthosil looks to me for orders.
"We proceed northwest with all speed," I say in clipped, precise tones. "We will leave none alive. Assume hostile territory."
"Aye, Brother."
We tread through the ashy plains pockmarked by craters and scorch marks. Suddenly I detect a presence in the Warp and I yell for the squad to take cover...a few seconds too late as the bark of bolter fire rips across the open ground and the decaying armor of Death Guard marines takes shape in the craters and tunnels ahead.
Fortunately we sustain no casualties and the squad advances, returning fire now. I wait in frustration, my bolt pistol still out of range, waiting without a target in my right hand, Bulwark drawn and crackling in my left. I advance steadily as a full squad of ten Plague Marines is revealed to my keen senses.
Another few steps and we're at a close enough range to accurately increase our fire rate, our boltguns roaring as I level my pistol at the nearest Plague Marine and fire, the bolt sending him sprawling but failing to wound him.
Our bolt shots strike home; two traitors have their armor rent apart and they fall gurgling to the ground. The others advance implacably and I focus my mind, but the blast of psychic energy I unleash merely staggers back a few of the plague-god's followers rather than slaying them outright.
"Brother Pytor! No!"
It's too late. Pytor is down, or at least incapacitated.
A bolter shell ricochets off my armored chest, followed by a hail of fire that lays two more of my brothers low. It's down to Sergeant Xanthosil, six battle-brothers, and myself. "FOR THE EMPEROR!" "FOR TERRA!" We empty our clips into the enemy ranks and hurl ourselves forward, felling another Nurgle-worshipper in the process. We collide meteorically with the Traitors and manage to strike first due to their decaying reflexes. Clouds of toxins surround us and ward away our blows; however, another Plague Marine is laid low by Xanthosil's deadly skills with his combat knife. Meanwhile, the plague champion roars out a challenge and I defiantly shout my acceptance. The fighting around us seems near-silent as we circle each other slowly. He strikes before me with a decayed, corrupted combat knife, taking advantage of Bulwark's unwieldy nature, but I parry his every blow, save one, but the one that slips through glances off my armor. I snarl and bring Bulwark downward.
He dodges sluggishly to the side and I merely clip him, the combat around us continuing as another traitor bubbles out his life against an uncaring blade.
Again their Champion's knife is turned aside by my blessed power armor and I retaliate ferociously, beheading him in a single strike. The battle continues, but none of our enemies fall. When they retaliate, however, two more of us die on their plague-ridden knives.
We trade blows furiously, and I sweep Bulwark about in an arc to bisect another traitor--or nearly. Amazingly he survives the hit. However, their morale is broken and they begin to retreat.
"Open fire!" Xanthosil barks, and we unload a furious barrage of bolter fire into their retreating forms, laying them all low in a matter of seconds. We proceed onward.
A whine of engines heralds an incoming gunship--a Vendetta, most likely captured from Enbar Prime's slaughtered PDF. "SQUAD, TAKE AIM AND ENGAGE AIRCRAFT!"
A flurry of bolts fly upward at the approaching Vendetta, but only inflict minor damage, clipping one of the twin tails and sending it askew past us. The Chaos-infused gunners fail to hit us with their three twin-linked lascannons, or indeed even get a fix on our position. I smile grimly, planning to take advantage of this fact. "Squad Xanthosil, fan out along the rocks ahead. Prepare to engage."
The tactical squad moves quickly to carry out my orders and Xanthosil moves to my side. "Brother-Lexicanium, what is your plan?"
"I require your combi-weapon, Brother-Sergeant."
After a moment, he nods and grudgingly relinquishes his combi-melta to me. I nod, smiling ferally as I check the melta attachment's charge. All good.
I wait for the Vendetta to appear again and I focus my mind, as the power of the Warp flows through me, letting me see several seconds into the future for a moment, seeing the path the gunship will take, and the precise distance I must lead it by to hit with the melta blast.
NOW. I pull the trigger and the short-ranged, but ferocious meltagun attachment spews forth its superheated beam, searing through the gunship's cockpit and immolating the pilot and several gunners. The Vendetta goes down in a fireball and I return the combi-melta to its rightful wielder, nodding my thanks.
We continue on our way.
We arrive at the bunker and we fan out again around it. We plant a krak grenade in the center of the sealed door, but the blast fails to breach it. As the explosion's echo fades, the staccato crack of autoguns fills the air and two of my brothers fall to the guns of hidden cultists, one of them merely wounded, the other slain outright. We whirl around and open fire. Four cultists fall immediately to our gunfire, leaving only four spread out in the rocks. Xanthosil's accurate bolter fire fells another, while my pistol fells their Champion, spattering his innards across the ground behind him. The remaining cultist attemps to flee but is cut down mercilessly by the crossfire. We return our attention to the sealed door ahead of us. Xanthosil plants a melta bomb and hurls himself clear before pressing the detonator, vaporizing the door in an instant as we pour through the entrance. Something moves in the shadows and we immediately saturate that area with bolter fire. The crablike being--a Possessed Traitor Marine--gives a guttural roar and hurls itself towards me; I raise Bulwark in defense and though the first blow rends through one of the servos in my bionic arm, stiffening my wrist, I manage to deflect its second blow and dodge its third attack. I glare at the foul traitor and sweep Bulwark about, splitting the side of its head open but the Possessed fights on somehow...I push forward and bull into it as it flails wildly but fails to inflict any significant damage. Then I throw the daemonicaly possessed former Astartes to the floor and bring my booted foot down on its head, stunning it before ripping its head off on Bulwark's blade.
A wet, gurgling laugh fills the room and we whip around, opening fire at the Plague Marine that reveals itself to us, even as it opens fire with its corrupted bolter. The shot pings off my armor and I gesture for Squad Xanthosil to destroy the Traitor--we're running out of time. One bark of boltfire later, there's only a few chunks of rotted flesh left where once a Traitor Marine stood before us in all his foulness.
We continue deeper into the compound.
The ringing crackle of a power sword being drawn calls my attention to the next room. I heft my force ax and enter cautiously. There, a gaudily armored heretic, formerly of the Emperor's Children, stands, a blade in each hand. I narrow my eyes and prepare to unleash a powerful blast of Warp energy, but he's already charging and breaks my concentration. His two blades flash faster than the mortal eye can follow.
One of his swords stabs through my stomach before I can act, and I growl in pain and frustration, bringing Bulwark down to split his head open. I rip the blade out of my flesh as I rip the axe from his skull, and I stagger forward, my body already healing itself. "The flesh is weak," I murmur to myself softly as I press deeper into the compound alongside my brothers.
At last we reach the inner sanctum of the fortress and we spread out on either side of the archway that we pass through as we enter. Five Chaos Terminators wait within and they ponderously shuffle around to face us...but not before we open fire with bolter and grenade. However, our shots merely ping off their mighty, debased Tactical Dreadnought Armor. I curse in frustration and dodge their withering hail of return fire with their ancient combi-bolters. Two more of my brothers are wounded and incapacitated; their squadmates attempt to protect them as I storm forwards towards the Traitor Marines. Their Champion raises a massive chainfist and I brandish Bulwark in answer. The chainfist's shredding teeth rend through my right thigh and I hiss as Bulwark whirls around to chop through their Champion's right arm, severing his only melee weapon from his body. He slumps to the floor heavily and I finish him with a merciless downward blow and two pistol shots to the eye lenses, which shatter in a burst of crimson, corrupted blood. The remaining four Terminators meanwhile suffer another accurate volley of bolter fire but weather it easily. One more of my brothers falls and I roar, "ENOUGH!" as I lunge at the nearest Traitor, His hastily swung power sword fails to penetrate my power armor, and I retaliate immediately with my force ax, splitting him open down the chest and kicking him aside with an effort. My wounds from earlier have healed by now and I gather the energies of the Warp in my chest. I let out a baleful, Warp-infused scream but the traitors are so mutated that it fails to affect them in the slightest. Cursing in frustration I open fire again with my bolt pistol, but again the shot glances off the next traitor, who answers with the thunder of his combi-bolter. The bolt shot crashes through my breastplate and I'm sent flying back, cloak rippling around me, into the ancient all of the facility. My vision dims briefly as does my hearing. I watch, as if in slow motion, the wraith-like form of Xanthosil running forward, hurling a grenade, and drawing out his combat knife in the blink of an eye, his pistol still spitting bolts with a vengeance, spattering uselessly off the corrupt Terminator. He collides meteorically with the heretic but his every blow is parried, until the traitor strikes back. "NO!" I bellow as I see Xanthosil run through by an eldritch power sword and crumpling as he's kicked off the end of the blade carelessly. I find the strength to stand and draw my pistol, aiming two precise shots into the traitor's faceplate, the flash and concussive detonation stunning and blinding him as I bull-rush him, leaping into the air and bringing Bulwark crashing down, splitting him in two once more. The two remaining Traitor Marines die to massed bolter fire from the remnants of Squad Xanthosil.
We gather our wounded and dead and press on.
A dark figure waits before an altar up ahead, shrouded by a fog of pestilence. Our bolts are swallowed up by it and corrode within fractions of a second after passing into it.
With a garbled, wet chuckle, the Nurglite Chaos Lord turns around and draws a massive, corrupt thunder hammer from his rotted back, igniting it and treading ponderously forward. I snap my helmet back on--I had removed it earlier--recoiling from his stench. I aim another bolt pistol shot at him but fail to inflict any harm. "Spread out!" I order, and Squad Xanthosil immediately obeys. I emit my signature banshee scream, intermingled with raw Warp energy, but again am denied due to the warrior's corrupted endurance.
Cloak flowing around me, I dash forward, still firing. We collide forcefully, and the Chaos Lord, for all his bulk, manages to strike first, his first strike crashing into the side of my helmet and knocking me sprawling. I stand up slowly and rip Bulwark forward, slamming it through his chest and pulling it out again. He gurgles laughter at me, drooling bile everywhere out of his helmet's respirator, and whips the hammer up at me again, merely striking me a glancing blow thanks to my superior agility, denting one of my bionic arms but otherwise doing no harm.
Again I strike with Bulwark; again I fail to inflict any injuries.
I inhale deeply and let out my banshee scream, and the Chaos Lord staggers aside in pain, clutching his helmet, dropping his thunder hammer, which I knock aside. I step forward now and bring Bulwark down one final time, igniting the blade with a surge of psychic power that immolates my foe utterly.
The remains of Squad Xanthosil look to me for orders. I open a vox-comm to the orbiting fleet of my brother Astartes. "This is Brother-Lexicanium Tobias. Mission complete...Requesting exctraction."
"Affirmative, brother. A Thunderhawk has been dispatched to your position."
I remove my helmet. It's over.

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