The Naevus Heresy
Epilogue Mission 10
Thought for the day: “Nothing Can Hide From The Wrath Of The Emperor”
++++Operation Sudden Justice++++
+++Ultra Top Secret. Inner Circle only+++
Transmission Intercepted… Scanning for Key words… Balchoth. Probability of interest 99.6% Forwarding message to Ghost Raider High Command.
“Chapter Master, an intercept. The cogitators have labelled it prioritus exteemis.” The battle hardened marine reads the note. “What assets have we got closest to that region?”
“Sir Ninth company led by Chaplain Mathias on the Fortune of War, they are on a training exercise, all raw recruits sir, not a mission between them.”
“Order their ship to make full speed. Ready the Tiberius.”
Brother Chaplain Mathias Balazar was reviewing the data from the exercise when the orders came through. The exercise had not gone well, this latest set of recruits were poor. A simple simulation of the company defending a type LXXIII fortification against 2000 ork warriors had resulted in over 40% casualties. If they couldn’t even defend a basic structure with odds of only 20:1 without losing nearly half their number what was the chapter coming to? Brother Filius and Brother Gladius were both in the chapel serving penance for their particularly poor performance. A misplaced missile had cost two battle brothers their, simulated, lives. A gamble, but one that on this occasion failed.
The orders arrived on a simple data slate. Mathias almost tossed them aside in despair from the mornings activities, but the flashing symbol of the Chapter Master himself caught his eye:
“The Fallen Balchoth has been located in system. Your ship is the closest of the Unforgiven to the planetoid. Proceed immediately to the site. Secure a perimeter and prevent his escape. The Tiberius is making all haste to your position. If there is any chance of Balchoth slipping through launch a full assault. Balchoth must be captured, the shame of millennia is at stake. The Emperor Protects.”
The ship was making full speed to the moon Auchus, but it would still take an hour to get there. Warning klaxons started to sound and Brother Chaplain Mathias’ voice boomed out over the vox comm. “Battle Brothers if the Ninth Company, this is your Chaplain speaking, ready yourselves for battle. Perform the rites as you have have learned, bless the holy weapons of war, say your prayers to the machine spirits of your bolter and armour, your sword and your shield. Attach the hexagramic wards and the blessed purity seals. Bless the ammunition you load, may it shoot straight and true to smite the foes of the Emperor. In the name if the Holy Lord of Terra the Emperor of Mankind we are to battle. This is not a drill; your chapter is watching you.”
An hour later it was evident that there was no time to waste. The Tiberius was at least two hours behind the Fortune of War and first company would not arrive in time to deal with this. The shame of the chapter rested on Mathias’ shoulders and the untested Ninth. On the way Mathias had been reading the ancient texts regarding the traitor Balchoth. After the Fall he had fought against his own Brothers, upon the Warmaster’s defeat he fled to the Oculus Terribilis where he engaged upon raids with his new chapter the Alpha Legion. He was rewarded by his dark masters on several occasions but after two millennia disappeared. The rest of the picture had been filled in by Inquisitor Masters. He was draws to the Naevus system, no doubt to stir rebellion and heresy before the coming of the warp storm. There his ship was shot down by the Imperials and crashed on the moon Auchus, septimus/2A. He must have been in stasis all this time, but now he was well and truly awake, as was a giant space beast that had been attracted to his psionic signature.
They were aboard their drop ships, Thunderhawks, diving towards the surface. The words of the chaplain were still running through their heads. This was it, a real battle against a deadly foe the hated betrayer. It would be the Ninth’s honour to finally bring this traitor to justice. Suddenly the ship lurched, sirens shrilled, and warning lights flashed. The ship was in an uncontrolled descent. Brother Gladius looked out of the APC, the entire rear of the ship had been broken clean off by a writhing tentacle of an enormous creature. The 1st APC had gone with it, including their sergeant. Gladius unbuckled his drop harness as the ship started to spin, he and the surviving members of 4th squad jumped out of the spiralling thunderhawk. Brother Filius was last to jump and the spinning thunderhawk engine clipped the apprentice Brother whose gene seed was never recovered.
The rest of 4th squad made a rough but safe landing on the blasted moon surface. Their drop packs bringing them in faster than the Rhino APC which simply fell under gravity and hit just a few hundred metres away from them. Gladius ordered a weapons check, the launcher was damaged, but bolters and back up weaponry were still functional. Praise the machine spirits.
“Brother Lucius raise the Fortune of War.” Instructed Gladius
“No response Brother Gladius, there is a vast amount of interference, we are cut off”
“Which direction is the interference the strongest?” inquired Gladius
“Sidereal bearing 246 by 67”
“Then we head that way, into the heart of this treachery”
The eight survivors of 4th squad ninth company spread out and started to bound across the surface of the moon. The combination of the lower than terra norm gravity, thin atmosphere and their power suits made moving very easy. They could see the signs of battle in the far distance in several directions. Heavy weaponry had opened up on the huge space squid that was starting to achieve orbit. The Fortune of War was already firing lance batteries at the creature, but the small ship seemed only to aggravate the monstrous alien. The Marines could occasionally hear fragments of chatter through the static from the open combat channels. Bolter fire combined with tactical instructions and the sounds of screaming men and hissing aliens as they died.
Gladius’ team came upon a huge fault in the rocky surface. A fresh fissure over 200 metres wide and over a kilometre deep had opened up and at the bottom a power source registered on the auspex.
“Lucius, keep sending signals, try to get through to Mathias, the rest of you follow me!” Gladius plunged into the Abyss, his drop thrusters first accelerating and then suddenly breaking his descent. Seven sprays of rock and dust marked their landings. They quickly spread out. A hundred strange oily creatures emerged from the rocks and threw themselves at the marines. Not a single one made it within fifteen metres. Bolter shell casings rattled onto the ground.
“Auspex reveal a ship up ahead. It must be the one from Masters’ report”
“Keep your senses peeled, Balchoth is deadly, and remember he must be taken alive” commanded Gladius, all facts every brother in the team was well aware of already.
Drussius died first. A flurry of motion even faster than the novices could have guessed possible in power armour took the point man and deposited his twisted corpse a fair distance away; his armour torn like tissue paper. Herakus at least managed to fire a burst from his Bolter before he too was slain, his skull crushed in a moment. Then there was a lock; Flucius tracked the dervish and logged its profile. He transmitted the information to those in the squad in a millisecond, and through Lucius to the entire chapter (hopefully), the automatic sensor suite on every Ghost Raider now knew exactly what to look for and the Heads up Displays of the entire squad suddenly lit up with “Target Alpha” on their 360 degree battle overlay.
Pleni opened up with the heavy bolter, his power armour and the squad’s auspex doing most of the aiming. Blinding flashes of light (suppressed by the power armoured suit) lit up the power field of the Chaos Renegade. Balchoth was upon him, but Pleni had already planned for this. Using his sensors and his squads he calculated the firing solution as soon as the Chaos Marine was close enough and he was inside the power field. A shell from the heavy bolter fired at point blank range aimed directly at the conversion field generator. There was a wail of a cry as the Daemon that powered the field was suddenly plunged into the material world and the field’s casing blew apart into a thousand pieces and an even more piercing shrill cry as the fiend was utterly destroyed because it could not survive outside the Imaterium without support.
Pleni’s torso was ruptured as the power fist plunged through his armour. However Pleni had one final surprise in his death as he had already fed the firing solution through to Haelleus whose bolter fired a burst of explosive shells straight at Pleni’s chest and into the power fist. It exploded in a flurry of blasts, Blachoth’s arm ruptured at the elbow. Pleni’s body fell to the ground with the destroyed power fist embed in it.
Gladius, Flucius, Haelleus and Marcus formed a new semi circle around Target Alpha. Their bolters discarded for chain swords and pistols. Balchoth paused, knowing in that instant when his field failed he could have been slain. Why had they paused, why did they hold back now? With his remaining good arm he slowly drew his blade, the Daemon sword Krath, a gift from the dark powers after the bloodletting of Pheobe VI. The memory was so sweet, even now millennia later.
Balchoth then attacked. The four Marines fought valiantly, but they were outclassed. Even four on one they were hard pressed and every move was a reaction and every strike a desperate attempt to block or distract Balchoth’s attacks. The novices worked well together, blocking, guarding and protecting each other. However each knew that a single slip and the balance of power would shift firmly to Balchoth. The Battle raged for what seemed like eons to the combatants before Haelleus made the first error, his chain sword swung too aggressively, was dodged easily and crashed into the rocky ground. Balchoth used his Psyker powers to lodge the Marine’s weapon into a boulder with an additional nudge. His riposte ended Haelleus’ life and the Sword Krath seemed to glow anew at the taste of blood.
Marcus had a leg severed, and fell to the canyon floor. He still tried to distract Balchoth with his bolt pistol, but he was out of the fight. Fillius lost both his hands at the wrists. Gladius ordered him to retreat. He pulled back, Marcus grabbed his waist and they fled together. Balchoth began to laugh a daemonic sound, lesser men would have died of fright, but Gladius stood his ground. He knew his death was certain now but he would make it count.
There was a scream of thrusters in the canyon, Balchoth charged at the same moment, Gladius dropped his guard and his chain blade. “NO!” Screamed Balazar as he descended with an acceleration of eight gee down into the canyon, but Gladius was committed to his plan. The Daemon sword entered his chest, and Balchoth was caught off guard as he expected his first blow to be countered. In that moment of surprise with his right arm Gladius gripped Balchoth’s sword arm at the wrist, twisting the grip and lodging the blade in his own armour. With his left hand he placed the bolt pistol on the weak elbow joint of the Chaos Marines ancient armour and fired. He battled Krath’s attack upon his soul with all his will, his pentagrammic ward glowed white hot, burned, but held, Gladius died, at peace.
Balchoth stood to face his new foes, legs apart and no arms beyond the elbows. Three squads of the ninth company led by a chaplain in an ancient suit of armour. “I know that armour, a previous owner of it I counted Brother once”
“No wearer of this armour would ever call you Brother Balchoth.” Balthazar replied.
Balazar advanced, Crosius raised above his head, power sword ready in the right hand. He weathered the terrible Psionic onslaught that Balchoth could still unleash even in his weakened state. As he closed in the lightning from the Crosius Arcanum blasted Balchoth, forced him to his knees and onto the ground. Balthazar forced him into submission and a blow knocked Balchoth out.
Above them the sky lit up as the Light of Ophelia opened up with a full broadside on the giant space cephalopod. The battle was over, the cost high, but acceptable. The shame of the Unforgiven diminished ever so slightly.