Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Entombed III

Ack! A day late in posting. I blame school.

As soon as he was clear of the drop pod, Vercingetorix unleashed the energy stored in his plasma guns. Four miniature sunbursts erupted from beneath his fists. Three of the plasma bursts hit squarely on target, reducing fire warriors to bubbling piles of molten flesh and cracked bone. The fourth burst collided with a drone and dissipated harmlessly on its shield. Behind him, Vercingetorix could hear the storm bolter mounted on his drop pod firing rapidly. The distinctive boom-whoosh of the bolts' two-stage ignition was punctuated by dull crack of their explosive warheads detonating. More drop pods roared in overhead, crashing into the ground or being detonated in midair by the Tau anti-air defenses, which were now targeting the incoming pods.

"Spirit, we must silence those anti-air batteries. Relay their locations to the Spear of Luciefer and order a bombardment."

It shall be so, my companion.

Mere seconds after the first wave of drop pods, a second salvo from the strike cruiser's bombardment cannon pummeled the Tau lines. Explosive shockwaves knocked fire warriors off their feet and sent the light skimmers of the Tau force spinning out of control. Vercingetorix advanced on the nearest knot of Tau infantry, plasma guns blazing.

My companion, a transmission is inbound from a Commander Rogan of Pacem PDF.

"Open a channel, Spirit." The Tau had begun to rally to one of their Shas'O. The squad was huddled for cover behind a Hammerhead. They fired at Vercingetorix's hull, their shots glancing harmlessly off of his armour. He retaliated with gouts of plasma, vaporising several of their number and melting a hole in the hull of the crashed craft.

A timid tenor spoke over the Imperialto vox network. "Space Marine forces, I am Defense Commander Irwin Mogue." Vercingetorix picked up speed, bearing down on the fire warriors. To their credit, they faced him without flinching. "Our situation is dire. Tau sappers infiltrated and destroyed several ammo dumps early in the invasion. Our ammunition reserves are nearly empty. They have driven us back on all fronts."

Vercingetorix interrupted the commander. "I have heard enough, Commander. You will muster all available forces. When Crusade-Captain Aleksos makes landfall, he will dispense further orders. I trust we can rely on your cooperation?" Without awaiting a reply, he closed the vox link. The Fire Warriors began hurling their photon grenades at him. The tiny globes burst with intense phosphorescent light. His visual inputs struggled to filter the sudden brightness, but the world had become a blur. His massive metal form blundered forward, but he was nearly blinded by the grenades. "Spirit! Guide my aim!" He surrendered control of his body to the Machine Spirit, trusting it to safeguard him, and turned his attention to the Astartes Tactical Grid map. "Battlegroup Vercingetorix, report."

Brother-Sergeant Filos was the first to respond. "Saint's Hill is ours, Lord Revenant. Minor resistance encountered. Brother Meten has a wound that should be tended by the Apothecaries, but we are all fit to fight." Vercingetorix heard his plasma guns firing blast after blast as the Machine Spirit guided his body.

Brother-Lieutenant Gamedes spoke next. "Squads Gamedes and Androi have regrouped at the designated bunker. Brother Kurtin is dead and Sergeant Androi removed his helmet and was blinded by a photon grenade. The Tau have been driven back. We inflicted twenty-four confirmed casualties. We have forty-three survivors of the PDF with us. They have no ammunition, and have not eaten for days. I question their battle-readiness, Lord Vercingetorix." His body had waded into the midst of the Tau cadre and was now laying waste to the Fire Warriors around him.

Revenant Diocles delivered his report in a ponderous baritone. "Lord Revenant, the Hammerhead is destroyed. We also accounted for seven Pirahna-class and two Devilfish-class skimmers. Revenant Horovus has suffered damage to his primary motive systems and is immobile and my assault cannon's ammunition is depleted. Crusade-Captain Aleksos will be here in two minutes thirty, and the Steel Priests will see to Horovus when they touch down. Until then, requesting permission to protect watch over him."

While Diocles delivered his report, the Machine Spirit picked up two Tau soldiers and began to squeeze. Vercingetorix felt, with a sense of detachment, the armor of the Tau soldiers as it warped beneath the power fields in his hands. There was a moment of tension, a crack, and their armor caved in. Their flesh put up little resistance as fibre-bundle muscles crushed the life from their bodies.

"So be it, Diocles. I will alert you if I have need of you."

My companion, I have filtered the aliens' light frequencies from We's ocular senses. You should be able to see once more, if you wish to take control of the body of We.

Vercingetorix felt sensation rushing through his limbs as he reassumed command over his body. He dropped the corpses of the fire warriors the Machine Spirit had crushed and spoke through his external vox-unit. "Come, alien scum! Hurl yourselves at me. Show me your strength!" The remaining firewarriors lost their nerve, broke, and ran. Vercingetorix paused to watch as seven beams lanced down from the sky. He counted the explosions from the ground - all anti-air batteries accounted for. "Strike Cruiser, targets confirmed destroyed. Landing zone is cleared for Thunderhawk insertion."

Caution, my companion! Behind We! The Machine Spirit's warning was urgent. It was also too late.
Something slammed into the Dreadnought's back, and it stumbled forward. Vercingetorix fought to control his body. Behind him, he felt another impact. His remains were jostled about inside his sarcophagus. Servomotors strained against the momentum of the Dreadnought's own mass. He managed to turn his unarmoured rear away from the attacker. A third blow slammed into his left shoulder. The power field in his left hand crackled and died. The Machine Spirit's pain tore through the warrior's mortal form, which shuddered in sympathetic agony. Around him, the amniofluid of Vercingetorix's sarcophagus churned violently.

With cry of effort, Vercingetorix finally regained control of the Dreadnought and spun to face his enemy. A Tau Crisis Suit launched another salvo of missiles and then blasted into the sky away from the Dreadnought. Unlike the first set of missiles, the second barrage was rushed, and the pilot's aim was poor. Two flew harmlessly by, and the final shot detonated without effect on Vercingetorix's powerful frontal armour.  Vercingetorix returned fire, but by then his foe was out of range. Four Thunderhawks flew through the shredded remnants of the clouds and landed in the open field behind the newly-captured bunker.

"Damage diagnostic."


I am sorry, my companion. I am sorry. I failed We. I was not vigilant.

No apologies are needed, Spirit. I, too, allowed my awareness to lapse. It shall not happen again. A priest will see to our arm. And then we will take bloody vengeance."

Crusade-Captain Aleksos's voice interrupted the conversation between man and machine spirit. "Lord Revenant, I seek your wisdom. Please meet me in my Thunderhawk. We have a planet to liberate."

"I will be there presently, Captain," said Vercingetorix. "There is much to discuss."

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