Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Entombed 2.5 - Aleksos

Time for more Entombed. I've decided that I need additional points of view. So, here's Crusade-Captain Aleksos's first chapter. It takes place between chapters 2 and 3 of Entombed.

     The teleportation chamber on the strike cruiser Spear of the Lightbringer did not look impressive. Three walls were blank but for the glowing circuitry and graven runes of the Adeptus Mechanicus. The fourth wall was entirely taken up by a massive pair of doors decorated with a golden aquila. Opposite the door was a bank of controls - antennae, dials, and glowing screens. A tech-priest of Mars worked the controls, his metal hands aided by the three snaking mechadendrites protruding from his back. The magos's metal limbs blurred across the panels faster than mortal eyes could follow. The rest of the room was entirely dominated by a raised platform. The platform was inscribed with a pentacle of silver. At each of the star's points, and in the center, stood a Space Marine in Tactical Dreadnought armour, held in place by massive magnetic clamps. Servitors idled by the walls of the rooms, their organic eyes glazed and empty of expression. Three Astropaths wearing ceremonial robes and heavy chains chanted in unison. Their voices carried an unnatural timbre.

     The tallest astropath, the leader of the chorus, raised his eyes to the ceiling of the cavernous chamber. Light and space seemed to bend, warping the room around the trio.  His whole body glowed momentarily, and then there was a burst of purple lumninescence and an inhuman shriek. Then the room was silent. The chief astropath collapsed, and his two conpanions carried him gingerly out of the room. The Space Marine in the center of the pentacle turned his helmet to face the tech-priest. His external vox-unit distorted his voice to a mechanical monotone. "The Astropaths have done their work, Magos. We must strike while the iron is hot." The five veterans on the teleporter were checking their weapons or flexing their power fists in anticipation.
     The techpriest did not look up from his instrumentation, but spoke in a halting voice, as though he were reading unfamiliar words. "The Immaterium appears calm. The witches have done their task to specification. Omnissiah be with you." The lights in the room dimmed, and the dozen servitors lining the walls of the room sprang into action. Cables were connected, pumps throbbed, and powerful warp coils crackled to life. The mechanical noises rose in a hellish crescendo, and then Aleksos could hear nothing, see nothing, feel nothing. He found himself standing on a broad plain of nothingness. Slowly, his senses returned to him. His breathing was like the bellows of a great furnace echoing through his respirator. Gradually, shapes began to form in the blackness around Aleksos, neither close nor distant, but somehow both. Some appeared to be the forms of slavering monsters; others were like human bodies entwined in carnal embrace. The darkness became a riot of colors, most of which had no name in any human tongue. The multicolored forms thickened, gaining definition and depth, and they pressed in on him. Soon, he could see fingers reaching for him, grasping, but they were stopped short by his force field. The fingers became more insistent, curling into fists and hammering at him, and he could hear shrieks coming from inside his ears.
     The light around him became pale blue, and the plain of nothingness sprouted grass and hills and scrub brush. His brothers burst into reality in flashes of green-black light. Aleksos found himself in the midst of a firefight. Fifty meters ahead of him, at the top of a low hill, a line of prefabricated metal blast shields formed a crude barricade. Tau firewarriors had taken up positions behind the blast shields and were laying down fire from their impromptu fortifications. Flashes of red and the telltale snap of lasgun reports answered the hissing blue bolts of Tau pulse weapons. The aliens' charged metal projectiles impacted the Space Marines' force shields or smashed uselessly against their powerful adamantine armour. Without a moment's hesitation, Aleksos and his squad began to pour fire into the Tau's lines. The PDF soldiers raised a cheer and redoubled their efforts, unleashing torrents of lasfire and heavy bolter shells into the Tau's barricades. Aleksos cycled up his assault cannon and hundreds of adamantine-tipped slugs punched through cover, armour, and flesh with equal ease. The Crusade-Captain stitched a line of fire from one end of the Tau line to the other, counting as the aliens pitched over and fell or else were cut in half by the heavy slugs. Brother-Sergeant Pherodrastes fired a salvo of missiles from his Cyclone Launcher. Four krak missiles with implosive warheads crashed into the tau's fortifications. The hardened barricades were no match for the anti-tank missiles. The Tau, remaining cool in the face of imminent death, continued to trade shots with the Space Marines.
         The roar of rocket engines split the sky. Dozens of glowing red projectiles were streaking toward the ground, trailing smoke and fire in their wake. "My brothers come, and our hate will crush the foes of the Emperor. Rally to me," shouted Aleksos. "Charge the hill! Give not an inch to these invaders! We will water the soil with their blood." On the horizon, more Tau skimmers appeared. "Men of Pacem. Your finest hour has come. Follow me, to glory and immortality!" The beleaguered guardsmen cheered again and surged forward, charging up the hill to engage the Tau and heedless of their own casualties. Of the fifty men who began the charge, only half survived to reach the top of the hill. They were bloodied, half-starved, and outnumbered three to one. The only thing sustaining them was righteous fury and faith in the Emperor.
     The Tau were cut down to a man.
     Aleksos and his picked men watched the bloodshed. The captain nodded approvingly. "There may yet be some mettle in these scrawny rats. Summon my Thunderhawk. There is much killing yet to do."

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