Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 72, final update done)

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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 47)

Postby Gaius Marius » Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:48 am

Those bastards! :o
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 47)

Postby JJvagnar » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:02 pm

Sucks to be a fatemaker.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 47)

Postby Meaneye » Sat May 11, 2013 9:35 pm

Well, ladies and gentlemen, after almost a month of silence, I managed to write something. Not the update of this story, mind you; it is still in production. I will upload something else in a few days, though.

Even though I could not really write for a while, I did read through what I have written so far (damn it, it was more than a year ago that I started it), and I realized something. I wanted to write a story and did write it, but I thought I was eventually writing a book or something similar, which I did not.

I seem to be writing a cable TV sci-fi. It seems every arc is just a two-part episode, and I could literally see where the title credits should come up in the update. Like in those old Star Trek: TNG episodes: the Enterprise arrives in a new system, some characters are talking at the beginning or they get some screening time, which indicates that they will appear heavily in that episode, they get a message from a planet or on the main screen, some unexpected thing happen which causes the bridge crew and Picard freeze with expressionless faces, glaring somewhere outside the camera arc, and the opening cinematics come up.

Three were at least four different places in the story where I could detect this. Then, I had an idea and decided to make the story a little more like a TV-series. I checked the rest of the story, and I think I can give a short preview of the new updates from now on, and, to make it more interesting, I will try to make it audiovisual. So here is a preview of the new (probably three updates’ worth) arc, in the style of not a sci-fi, but AMC’s Walking Dead Youtube previews (hopefully it’s not endorsement, I just like that series).




[Eerie music and narrator voice is the same as The Walking Dead, try to imagine it].

(Narrator): In the next episode of Fatemakers…

[A couple of three seconds long screens should follow; instead, I put in lines which will definitely appear in the next updates]:





Essen pressed the muzzle of his gun against him.
‘I have never had to kill someone three times,’ he said. ‘Take this as a token of appreciation.’






‘My lord?’ Akichi called after him.

Malistrum turned.

‘A week ago you said you would eventually betray your people’s trust,’ the Librarian said quietly. ‘I believe this is what is happening now.’

The commander did not react.

‘I believe you said a week ago that you would eventually follow me to Hell itself,’ he finally said. ‘I believe this is what is expected of you now.’






Sergeant Andorias slowly pulled his finger along the flat surface of his chain-sword. The metal dimly reflected his visage, but he could not recall his own features in the distorted image.

He finally looked up.

‘You will die down there,’ he told the emptiness in his room.






Narmantu frowned, and leaned closer to the vox-unit. ‘You are not what I expected to find,’ he claimed. ‘Where is Malistrum?’





‘Space Marines?’ the man stammered. ‘Emperor preserve me, you are Space Marines! What are you going to do to me?’

The giant in rock-crete grey power armour towered over the wretch.

‘That mostly depend on the answers you will give me, I suppose,’ he said.






[A couple of quick images following while the music slowly gets louder: a Warp-portal opening with the Opportunity darting forward, a beam of energy coming down from the sky obliterating a building, tank-commander Miklas holding his soulstone, looking at it with tears in his eyes, a power-armoured Ogryn spinning his maul, striking something big, Andorias standing on top of a building, looking down to see a Space Marine Scout firing under him with a sniper-rifle, (music getting more intense, ohmygodisthatessen?) Andorias activating his jump-pack, leaping into the air, and…]


[A badass title coming up]


FATEMAKERS’ ODYSSEY

[Narrator continues in a deep, badass voice:

See it on The Bolthole soon along with another update from Lord Lucan. :D ]






Yeah, well, I have a difficult week behind me, and I needed to blow off some steam. The preview is nevertheless accurate :lol: .
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 47)

Postby JJvagnar » Sun May 12, 2013 11:07 am

i vote charlie Sheen for Captain Malistrum!
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 47)

Postby Meaneye » Mon May 13, 2013 8:08 am

Thanks... now I imagine him, Andorias and Uskovich singing the original opening song of "Two and a Half Men" in deep, booming killer-voice ( :shock: ).
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 47)

Postby Meaneye » Tue May 21, 2013 7:53 pm

Well, then...

This is not a complete update, but it has a cliffhanger of a kind, so I upload that much for now. The rest will follow soon.






Spakk. Spakk. Spakk. Spakk.

There was no other voice in the room; nor was there much light or other movement than the rise and fall of the whip.

There was rhythm and rhyme in it. One instrument designed for one sole purpose, making one, monotonous sound. For some, it might even have been meditation, and for Captain Narmantu Yarru, Captain of Strike Force Seven, it indeed serve as a meditative means.

Spakk. Spakk. Spakk. Spakk.

The Captain was kneeling in the middle of the room. He was not wearing anything, not his armour, not even a loincloth. He had been kneeling this was for a while now, immobile, except for his right arm which swung the whip at an even, well-regulated place.

The room was not completely empty for his enhanced senses. He could hear, feel and smell enough, even though he did not bother to open his eyes. He could hear the sound of the electro-whip; he could feel the pain in his back as the torture device sent agonising flames up his spine into his brain; he could smell the aroma of his chemically altered blood on his body and on the floor.

Spakk. Spakk. Spakk. Spakk.

He was not chastising himself. Lashes were a regular form of punishment on his ship, among the mortal crew and his battle-brothers alike, but he was not being punished. That would have indicated a mistake or a sin, and Narmantu knew that he was blameless. This was no retaliation for some negligence or oversight on his part which was why he was handling the whip personally.

This was purification. Narmantu knew that the greatest and most powerful constant in the universe was pain. It was the measure of an individual how much of it he could mete out and endure. Pain was an equalizer; pain was purity. The moment of red-hot agony rendered all insignificant questions meaningless and empty, leaving only the essence of the things in your mind. The whip erased his doubts and helped him to sort out the true matter of every question, every problem. After a pain session, the Captain always felt refreshed and alive, ready to live again, ready to act. It was always easier to make decisions through the dim haze of pain, which sharpened his senses and cast any unimportant thoughts out of his mind.

Spakk. Spakk.

Narmantu paused. He stood up, slowly but without any hint of weakness in his joints, and looked down. His experienced eyes measured up the pool of blood under him, judging and calculating. He did not need any chronometer to know how much longer the session would continue. Blood, another universal constant, was a sufficient indicator.

The pool was big, but not too big. Narmantu judged he could spend some more time in contemplation. He knelt back and swung the whip again.

Not too much more, though. He had always prided on how carefully he regulated the amount of pain he could receive. Every man was a sinner eventually, himself included; however, if there was anything perfect in him, it was his balanced mediocrity.

Spakk. Spakk. Spakk. Spakk.

He had gone far to get to this point, but he knew it was worth it. His strike force had dashed through the sector, stopping only to replenish their stocks, get information, and, occasionally, to purge. They had succeeded where other would have failed, and they had done the unthinkable. By sacrificing his Librarians, Narmantu knew where the rest of his Chapter had been going, and he had set out not only to find and catch up with them, but to undertake them. The sad fact was that he could no longer fully trust in his brothers, and, consequently, he needed an edge over them when they finally met.

He had got his edge. Strike Force Seven opened up Greengate and passed through it well before the reserve fleet. They had arrived at the last muster point the Librarians could predict before suffering strokes from the scrying effort. The Wrath of God had been waiting patiently for the others to arrive for almost a week now, and the day of their arrival had been predicted by the Fatemaker psykers for today. Soon, the long search would be over and Narmantu would have his answers. Certainty would be the norm once again.

The Fatemaker Captain lashed himself one last time and stood up again. His body ached for more pain, but he new that at this point, it would be basic, animalistic need, and he refused to let in to his instinctive urges. He went for the door instead. He knew that his servants would be waiting for him outside with clean water, towels and his power armour. By the time they finished cleaning his back, his gene-enhanced body would close all wounds, and he would arrive at his bridge clad in his armour, with only the lingering pain in his nervous system to guide him and give him strength to make any necessary decision.





‘The fleet is coming within scanning range, my lord,’ one of the bridge serfs reported.

‘Identify,’ Narmantu ordered. The Wrath of God had detected a Warp-rift opening at the edge of the system a mere hour earlier, and although the time corresponded with the report of the Librarians, too much was at stake to simply assume that it was indeed the reserve fleet coming towards them.

Narmantu was waiting. The only other Astartes around him were the Chaplains of the strike force, with Üscüge standing right at the side of his commander. The air was tense with anticipation.

‘Identity confirmed, my lord,’ the serf finally said. ‘It is the reserve fleet.’

Narmantu smiled, and nodded to Üscüge.

‘Praise the Emperor,’ the other said, and the Chaplains echoed his words with reverence.

‘Hail them,’ Narmantu said, and turned back to the main display.

The search was over, that much was clear. Still, there was something else, something he could not put his finger on. The fleet was still marked as a single icon on the edge of the display, which was to be expected: distance was too great between the ships to allow instant flow of data. The Captain did not move. He fixed his eyes on the slowly approaching icon.

‘Contact established, my lord,’ the serf said. ‘They are hailing us.’

Narmantu ignored him. He now knew what the problem was. The icon representing the fleet was now divided into several other symbols, indicating the various individual ships. The Captain’s eyes narrowed.

The vox-unit came alive with a shocked, disbelieving voice.

‘By the Throne! Strike Force Seven, is that really you?’

The serf was about to answer when he heard his Captain approach, and leaned away from his console. The Captain paid no heed to him. He merely leaned down and turned on the vox himself.

‘Reserve fleet, this is indeed Strike Force Seven,’ he said. His eyes were still fixed on the display.

A new voice joined the conversation: strong, authoritative and confident.

‘Strike Force Seven, this is Chapter-Master Fiffito. I don’t know how you found us here, but I welcome you back to the fold. We…’

‘Later, Master Fiffito,’ Narmantu interjected. If anybody was shocked at the breach of protocol on the bridge, they showed no sign of it. ‘I have some questions myself to you before we continue.’

There was a moment of pause on the other side. ‘Strike Force Seven, I demand n explanation. What are you…’

I demand an explanation,’ Narmantu broke in again. ‘I demand an explanation for a lot of things: why you abandoned your post, why you are heading for Terra, why you failed to inform the rest of the Chapter about your departure. But most importantly, I want to know why only you arrived here.’

Narmantu frowned, and leaned closer to the vox-unit. ‘You are not what I expected to find,’ he claimed. ‘Where is Malistrum?’

‘Malistrum?’ the voice was angry and incredulous at the same time. ‘What does he have to…’

‘You should have met him,’ the Captain said. ‘I know for a fact that he would have caught up with you by now. Where is he? More importantly,’ he added, looking at the display again, ‘You are short of one ship yourselves. Where is Strike Force Eight? Where is Librarian Berzevicz? What have you done to them?’
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 48)

Postby Chh » Wed May 22, 2013 12:28 pm

For sanity's sake...

I know that with the death of the Emperor, and the gestation of the Star Father-to-be, that the Warp is a lot less stable, but this amount of time travel, focussed on one small group, is still incredibly improbable. I sense a first cause to this closed time loop...

A good mini-update, and the above is not a criticism



Also: illusions of perfection and a lot of pain. Sound like anything/anyone we know?
Last edited by Chh on Wed May 22, 2013 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Currently writing: http://www.thebolthole.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2138 (Sanguinian Heresy)

Please read some of it, and give feedback. Please?
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 48)

Postby JJvagnar » Wed May 22, 2013 7:38 pm

Narmantu's scary. Makes me think of colonel Kurtz.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 48)

Postby Meaneye » Thu May 23, 2013 7:27 pm

Chh: Pain? Perfection? I honestly don't know what you are insinuating, sir... :twisted:

By the way, I had an idea yesterday. I was thinking what the characters from the story would look like when I realized something.

I had the Mass Effect 3 game installed on my computer with a face editor, specifically designed to crate grim-looking soldier types.

After half an hour, I came up with the faces of the five main chracters. Here is the link for them; sorry, they are a tad bit too big, but this is what happens when the uploader is a techno-barbarian who cannot make a printscreen save within the game for some reason and so is forced to TAKE PICTURES OF THE BLOOMING SCREEN ITSELF WITH A CAMERA!

I am so ashamed :oops:

But anyway, here they are in the following order: Essen, Andorias (before losing an eye), Malistrum, Akichi and Uskovich. I am not sure about Uskovich because I always referred to him as a handsome man, and as a guy, I have very vague ideas about what constitutes to be handsome in guys. Plus he is not blond. The blond hair colour in the editor was just atrocious.

I am not sure if it is product endorsement to use pictures from a game editor; if it is, some moderator please tell me and I delete the link, although I think it is not such a problem.

http://imgbox.com/g/FmwpNQJbMs
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 48)

Postby Sardaukar » Fri May 24, 2013 4:17 am

Enjoying this. Really enjoying this story. Of course the only jarring thing is the name of Chapter Master Fifitto. Since Fifi is a common poodles name and rather girls at that, it makes me think of a Chihuahua in Space Marine armor.
"People who are rooted in the here and now, who are not defeated by their limitations, who don’t compare themselves to others, who confidently advance along their chosen path—such people are happy, such people are truly great." -Daisuke Ikeda

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."-Aristotle
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 48)

Postby Meaneye » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:27 pm

A new update. Enjoy:-)




Khadmus Greengate System, Khadmus Cluster, Sector Nydhoya

583 days after the Emperor’s death





Space split open. A rift appeared in the blackness, releasing a single ship into the void. The elongated hull of the vessel darted forward at great speed, leaving the Warp-gate behind in a heartbeat.

Green light on this end too. No surprise here, Captain Malistrum thought as he was following the closing of the rift on the main display.

That was all the attention he could afford to pay to the rift. The mission – crossing the Greengate wormhole and travel to the neighbouring Nydhoya System – was a success, but now the Opportunity was in completely unknown territory. No Fatemaker in the history of the Chapter had ever left the Malachias Sector for any reason, apart from the specialists who traditionally received their training on Mars or Terra. Strike Force Four had no contacts in this system, and the latest star chart they had about the region had not been updated for twenty years. They were completely in the dark now: a grain of sand in the desert, desperately trying to find another grain.

The reserve fleet had less than a month lead on them, that much was known. The Opportunity had first-hand information about it in the form of the various audiologs, pict-recordings and sensor analysis provided by the Valinko mining facility: an Imperial outpost which had apparently been attacked and ransacked by the Fatemaker reserve fleet itself.

Malistrum could not afford to think about it. He could not afford to weigh the consequences of the roguish actions of his own Chapter Master. He could not ponder upon the possibility of his own Chapter going renegade. Even less time did he have to think of the unthinkable: that the one force now capable of maintaining any kind of peace in the Chapter’s home sector was the arch-enemy of the Fatemakers, the Twilight Monks.

A lot of things had to be considered, and he did consider them during the twelve-hour journey through the wormhole. Now that they were here, however, he needed to concentrate on his main mission. He would find the reserve fleet and get his answers from them, one way or another.

Even if he was not going to be pleased with those answers.

‘Any sensor activity?’ he turned to one of his serfs, who shook his head.

‘No energy emission, my lord, although we have interference from the Warp portal, which makes scanning in that area difficult.’

‘Turn port sharply,’ Malistrum ordered his helmsman. If anything was trying to sneak up on them from behind, he wanted to greet him with a full broadside as soon as possible.

The Opportunity turned. She was often referred to as ‘nimble’ by the standards of the Imperial Fleet, but Malistrum knew better. It took almost two minutes for the vessel to make a ninety degrees turn, which was more than enough for some alien or even human ships for a deadly ambush. The ship was ready, her shields were strong, her fighters were ready to launch after the exit from the Warp, but still… a lot could have gone wrong.

‘No detectable energy signature, my lord,’ the serf reported, and Malistrum relaxed a little. Only a little, though: no immediate danger only meant that he now had to start planning the next move.

‘Start updating the star charts as soon as possible,’ he ordered. He already had a list of all human-inhabited systems within fifty parsecs of the exit point, but that list was only useful if they were indeed in the right position. The wormhole hurled them across an entire sector, which the Opportunity would have normally done in a year. Strike Force Four was literally in the dark.

‘My lord?’ another serf sitting at the long-range augurs turned back to the Captain. ‘I am receiving… distress signals within the system.’

‘Khadmus is supposed to be uninhabited,’ Malistrum answered with a frown. A stable Warp-gate was a great ambush-site in theory, and so the Opportunity exited with all precautions available, but at the very most, they expected somebody to go specifically for them. They did not count with any random encounter in the region.

‘My lord, it’s not…’ the serf shifted uncomfortably in his chair. ‘I am picking up a Fatemaker distress signal. The codes… they indicate it is the Chad-Okhlam.’

The bridge froze for a second.

‘Librarian Berzevitz,’ Malistrum stated. There was no emotion in his voice, relief or shock. ‘Can you localize it?’

‘Yes, my lord. It is coming through all general frequencies. The source is…’

Display the system map, Malistrum ordered. ‘For now, use Khadmus as a reference, and put up the signal source in relation to that system.’

‘At once, my lord.’

The serfs started to work on their consoles. Malistrum stood up, and started to pace in front of his command chair.

The display came alive with the system map. It was not a very big system: it had a habitable inner planet – uninhabited, as far as the charts went –, some gas giants further away from the sun and a few barren rocks scattered all over the place. The symbol indicating the distress signal came from the outer edge of the system.

Malistrum looked at the symbol for a few seconds.

‘Maintain battle alerts and head for the source. Call Librarian Akichi and Chaplain Uskovich to the bridge.’

‘At once, my lord. Shall we contact the Chad-Okhlam and inform her of our arrival?’

‘No,’ Malistrum answered. The serfs looked up in surprise, but the Captain did not elaborate. He went back to his command chair, and sat down with intense concentration on his face.





‘By the throne,’ Akichi breathed.

‘As I suspected,’ Malistrum nodded.

The Chad-Okhlam was a dead ship. Her hull was torn up in several places, revealing at least half of the decks to cold vacuum. Her prow must have been shorn off with some sort of a beam weapon: it was nowhere to be seen, although the Opportunity’s sensors did find it a few hundred thousand miles away, drifting out of the system.

Terrible damage had been done to the ship. Somebody had not only set out to put her out of action, but also to destroy her completely. This work indicated more than just calculated brutality. Whoever – whatever – attacked the ship, they fired at her in anger.

The rest of the reserve fleet was nowhere to be found.

‘The damage… is significant,’ Uskovich murmured while looking out of the viewport at the wreck. ‘It is no wonder the fleet left her here. She is unsalvageable. Whoever survived this attack must have been taken in by the other ships.’

Malistrum was standing behind hi two officers. ‘There are still survivors on that vessel,’ he said quietly.

The others looked at his sharply.

‘And they do not belong to the Chapter,’ he added.

‘What do you mean, my lord? Akichi asked.

‘Standard procedure… well, not standard because nobody has ever been forced to use it,’ Malistrum explained, ‘is to activate a distress signal only on specific Fatemaker frequencies, not on all general ones. Every person with the knowledge to activate such a signal is trained to avoid such mistakes.’

The other two exchanged looks. Even though they were high-ranking officers, they were not expert ship-captains. If something had happened to Malistrum, either of them could have taken over the ship, but they would have needed to learn and memorize a large set of codes and procedures to operate the strike force properly. Given the paranoid nature of the Fatemakers, it was logical to assume that the captain of a mortally damaged Fatemaker vessel would not want to yell the ship’s location into outer space.

Which left the question of who could have activated the signal.

‘A surviving attacker is unlikely to activate the signal,’ Akichi said. ‘The rest of the fleet moved on, so they were not destroyed, and they would have never let an enemy alive on the ship.’

‘We are presented an unpleasant mystery,’ Uskovich stated. His eyes did not leave the dead vessel. ‘Again,’ he added. There was some unknown dark undertone in his voice.

Malistrum could not afford emotions. ‘I am sending Sergeant Andorias and Techmarine Guztav with a Terminator squad.’

He stepped next to his trusted lieutenants, and looked down at the wreck.

‘We need answers, brothers,’ he said, ‘but we also need a target. Someone has managed to hurt our Chapter. Whatever happened here, Librarian Berzevitz must have lost most of his company here. We are looking at the grave of a strike force.’

The serfs on the bridge lowered their heads. The other two Astartes did not move.

‘These attackers have earned our ire,’ Malistrum continued. ‘We need to find out where to strike, whom to target.’ He grimaced. ‘And since the Emperor is no more, not even He could have mercy on the soul of any wretch we may find over there should they prove to be our enemy.’





After some consideration, Sergeant Andorias decided to take his squad over to the Chad-Okhlam by a Thunderhawk. The ship was dead and so possessed no point-blank weaponry to harass them in any way, and the boxy vessel could pinpoint their landing zone with a greater accuracy than a drop-pod. Deploying a Caestus was also considered to be redundant in this case. The Fatemaker ship was virtually riddled with impact holes along her hull. There was no need for a heavy-hitting transport.

The squad was a heavy-hitter anyway.

Squad Andorias was equipped with the best Terminator armours the strike force could muster. He had heavy flamers against infantry attack and assault cannons combined with boarding shields for anything tough. The squad was accompanied by Techmarine Guztav, whose expertise could in theory restart parts of the ship’s systems, together with all the built-in defence mechanisms. These eleven Space Marines could have unleashed unimaginable devastation upon any enemy who dared to test their strength.

There were no enemies aboard. In fact, there was nobody on the ship. She had not become a grave, she was not a dead body in space. She was empty. There were no corpses anywhere and the corridors looked as if someone had picked them clean. Andorias was having the suspicion that whoever had caused this destruction in the vessel had already taken what he wanted and had moved on.

The Sergeant did not like this line of thought. He needed a tangible enemy, someone he could destroy with his sword. He was having a lot on his mind lately, and he would have welcomed any distraction – even in such a dangerous form as senseless violence.

Still, he was a Space Marine first and foremost. A lot of things had changed, but not that. He activated his vox.

‘Andorias to Opportunity,’ he said.

‘Malistrum here,’ the answer came through the void.

‘My lord, the ship has been plundered. The mid-decks are certainly empty, although we have not reached the lower levels yet. Techmarine Guztav claims some secondary systems are still under power, and this is only possible if someone activated them after the battle had been over.’

There was a moment of silence.

‘Is there any direct evidence of other people aboard?’

‘Not yet, my lord.’

Another pause.

‘Continue the mission and maintain regular vox contact. Inform us as soon as you find anything.’

‘Understood, my lord.’

‘Keep up the good work, Sergeant. Malistrum out.’

Keep up the good work, huh?

Andorias did not move immediately. He wanted to reach up to his helmet and turn off the vox manually – an impossible feat given the fact that he was in bulky Terminator armour with internal vox-systems. His fists clenched instead.

‘Brother-Sergeant?’

Andorias forced himself to relax his muscles, and turned to Guztav, who was leaning onto a console built into the wall.

‘There are two active power sources,’ the Techmarine reported. He obviously failed to notice the foul mood of the Sergeant. ‘One of them is a secondary vox-room directly under the bridge tower.’

It made sense. Mere visual contact from the Opportunity’s bridge was enough to see that the Chad-Okhlam’s bridge had taken a direct hit and fell apart. Whoever attacked her, he wanted to make sure she would not be a proper vessel again.

‘The other one is located on the lower decks,’ Guztav continued. Several systems have been restored there: air recycling, heating, and energy is directed into several blast doors as well.

‘Somebody sealed off a portion of the ship,’ Andorias grunted. The Techmarine merely nodded in approval.

Andorias thought about it. The vox-room may have contained valuable information about the nature of the enemy which had managed to do the impossible and kill an Astartes vessel. Now that the bridge and its cogitators were no more, perhaps that was the only system with enough back-up memory to allow them to piece together what had happened here. On the other hand, the active life-support systems at the bottom off the ship could only mean that somebody was alive in the vessel. Brothers? Unlikely. The enemy? Not much more likely either. Still… the Sergeant had the feeling that living people were more important information sources now than cold data.

‘We are going down,’ he said.





The blast doors were closed, but they were not sealed, and now that they were powered up, the right Fatemaker codes could also open them.

Guztav stood up from his knees, stepped away from the last door and nodded to Andorias. Whoever had been here had used the blast doors as a primitive airlock, and Andorias saw no reason to let the air out of the closed sections; at least, not yet. He gave the word to Guztav who opened the last door with a simple remote command.

The area behind the door used to be the living quarters of the ship’s serfs. Somebody had re-arranged the beds and tables, creating crude and not too effective barricades around a smaller area in the corner. The lights were dim, creating a gloomy atmosphere which had nevertheless no effect on the eleven Astartes warriors. They marched in, formed a neat line along one side of the room and seemingly froze in their stead. Only their helmets and the muzzle of their storm-bolters made slight movements as they assessed the area and made sure that there were no threats present.

All heads and all muzzles ended up fixed on the same location on the barricade.

Andorias stepped forward.

‘The instruments in our helmets can detect heat-signatures,’ he said. His voice was distorted by his armour, making the huge Terminator even more menacing. ‘Our enhanced senses can also pick up your breathing and your heartbeat. There are three of you hiding behind the barricade at the large metal table. You will stand up now and reveal yourselves.’

A brief pause followed his words. Finally, a small shape stood up at the spot Andorias had located. A moment later, two more shape followed him. They were full-grown adults, but they looked like children next to the gigantic Astartes, and their crouched posture made them look even smaller.

‘Don’t shoot!’ one of them groaned. ‘We surrender!’

The other two were simply blinking at the Fatemakers. Andorias made a step towards them, and all three of them shook visibly at his sight.

‘You are not part of the serf contingent,’ Andorias stated. ‘Who are you and what are you doing here?’

‘Serfs?’ one of them echoed his word, confused. His partner suddenly cried out and pointed t the reversed ‘Q’-symbol on Andorius’s shoulder-pad.

‘They are one of them, Elias! It’s their ship!’

The other two looked on, now positively scared.

‘We are not part of this ships crew,’ Andorias stated, ‘although we belong to the same Astartes Chapter.’

‘Astartes?’ the second man asked back. The one who first opened his mouth suddenly jerked his head up and looked straight into the eyes of Andorias.

‘Space Marines?’ the man stammered. ‘Emperor preserve me, you are Space Marines! What are you going to do to us?’

The giant in rock-crete grey power armour towered over the wretch.

‘That mostly depend on the answers you will give me, I suppose,’ he said.





‘We are picking up energy signatures coming from behind us, my lord.’

Malistrum leaned forward. He was expecting something similar, and it seemed he would be right again – without being satisfied by it, as usual.

‘Distance?’

The serf at the auspex looked genuinely perplexed.

‘Visual contact in five minutes, my lord.’

‘Five minutes until visual?’ Malistrum stood up now, and went to the serf.

Distances were huge in space, but so were the ranges of the various auspex machines. A ship was not supposed to get within five minutes of visual contact under any circumstances. It was not a mistake or a dereliction of duty from the part of the serf. A ship could not get this close without the Opportunity knowing about it. Either the auspex malfunctioned, which Malistrum did not believe it did, or…

Or it was a stealth ship: a vessel designed in a way to reduce heat, plasma and other energy emission to the bare minimum and insulate all her systems as much as she could so she would not appear on the passive scanners of other vessels.

In which case she would not be detected at five minutes’ distance outside visual contact. The Captain had fought against stealth ships before, mostly xenos ones, and those devils had usually been at his forces’ throat by the time he could detect their presence. He leaned closer to the auspex and grunted. The energy readings were hazy and uncertain on the vessel, which was the mark of some form of cloaking, but signals did get through, which was the sign of inferior cloaking. An amateur who had managed to lay his hand on some archeotech and re-built his ship in order to get as close to other ships as humanly possible, leaving little time for the others to react.

In other words, the new vessel was a pirate.

‘Put me through to Sergeant Andorias,’ he ordered.

‘Andorias here,’ the answer came through the vox a second later.

‘Sergeant, we are picking up energy signatures approaching us on an attack vector,’ Malistrum said. ‘They have some form of a cloaking technology, and they failed to hail us, which makes them a raider in my book. Can you extract your squad from the ship within the next five to seven minutes?’

‘Negative, Captain,’ Andorias answered. ‘We have found humans aboard, although they do not seem to be survivors from the crew.’

‘Enemy?’

‘I would say they are not enemy. I am trying to interrogate one of them right now, but I think they belong to…’ the voice hesitated for a moment. ‘I truly don’t know, my lord. I would say they re scavengers, but the odds that we would find any of their kind here are…’

Malistrum nodded. ‘Do not use force against them just yet, Sergeant. We are likely to be attacked by an unknown vessel very soon, and I cannot guarantee that they will not board the Chad-Okhlam. Establish a defensive perimeter and prepare for battle.’

‘Already under way my lord.’

‘Good job, Sergeant. Malistrum out.’





‘Good job, Sergeant. Malistrum out.’

Andorias gritted his teeth on hearing those words. What was going on with him? He was losing control apparently.

He shook his head, and turned back towards the trio of humans in front of him.

‘Your ship is returning for you,’ he stated. ‘If they attack us, we will destroy them, so I advise you to contact them and persuade them to stand down.’

The men exchanged scared looks.

‘It is not our ship,’ Elias, the one who seemed to be bravest finally said.

‘What do you mean?’ Andorias asked back somewhat angrily.

‘They are not friends?’ the man said. He had been pale when the Astartes had entered the room, but his face was even whiter by a shade. ‘We came here with a ship, the Pearl of Malakash. We found this ship here. Something shot her up real good, and we decided to send a salvage team over.’

Even though Elias was afraid of Andorias, he stepped closer now. ‘While we were aboard, another ship attacked ours. The Pearl belonged to the Rogue Trader Olsac Tetramagulos. She was as strong as a cruiser. The raiders… They boarded her in minutes and took her away. They killed the rest of my salvage team, and they chased us through this ship for two full days. They are dangerous, my lord. They…’

Andorias barked out a short curse and activated the vox.

‘Andorias to the Opportunity.’

There was no reply. Andorias waited for a few second, then he repeated.

‘Andorias to the Opportunity. Answer me. You are advised caution with the approaching vessel. Opportunity, respond.’

The vox remained silent. The Sergeant’s warning going unheeded, only cold static answered him.





‘Good job, Sergeant. Malistrum out.’

The Captain straightened up and thought for a second.

‘Shall we release the fighter squadrons?’ a serf asked expectantly.

‘No.’ Malistrum shook his head, for his own sake mostly. There was something more about this ship. Cloaked or not, she would probably be outclassed by the Opportunity, even without her Astartes contingent aboard. He looked at the approach vector on the auspex again. She was going for Strike Force Four through the most obvious and straightforward vector possible. Obviously, their main objective was to get very close to the Opportunity as soon as possible, which was a thought the Captain did not like at all.

‘Initiate anti-boarding measures all over the ship,’ he ordered. ‘At the same time, reduce the power output of all non-essential systems and put all engines and weapons in stand-by mode.’

The crew looked up as one. This order essentially mad the Opportunity numb and sluggish, with an abysmal reaction time in combat.

‘Completely turn off active auspices, and…’ Malistrum hesitated here for a moment, but only for a second. Andorias had received his instructions, and he was competent enough to act on his own. ‘… turn off the vox-system as well.’

The crew obeyed. They were too disciplined to do otherwise. The Captain nodded as the lights on the bridge flickered for a moment before going back to normal again.

‘Visual contact established, my lord.’

Malistrum looked at the screen and sighed. ‘Put me through to Magos Brakk.’

The mechanical voice of the tech-priest came through the vox immediately.

‘Brother-Captain Malistrum. May I enquire about the reason why we were reduced power output?’

‘We are being approached by a vessel, most likely an enemy,’ Malistrum answered. ‘Could you check the data from the passive auspices and confirm that she is a Vetrix class vessel?’

‘One moment, my lord.’ The voice faded away only to return at once. ‘Confirmed. The vessel is Vetrix class, although obviously modified.’

‘Thank you, Magos. Prepare the Opportunity for Noosphere combat.’

‘I comply. Magos Brakk out.’

Malistrum pressed his lips together, and went back to his chair. He sat down; his hand ran along the arm of his command throne.

‘I am sorry you will have to endure this,’ he murmured. This was the closest he had got to a spiritual conversation for a very long time.

The enemy ship approached. Visual contact did not mean that the naked eye could automatically make out a small vessel in the darkness of space, but eventually a glint appeared against the black background. Malistrum watched as the glint became a metal shard, which in turn became the sleek form of an Imperial ship. He did not move and did not react when the ship got even closer and turned towards the Opportunity, revealing, for a second only the cog-wheeled symbol on her hull. He made no reaction when the ship turned in a way that only her prow was visible: a huge, metallic chunk of metal shaped into the form of a grinning, gigantic skull.


He did not flinch even when the skull opened its jaw and started to scream.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 49)

Postby Gaius Marius » Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:05 pm

Now this is creepy.
Space Cowboy, Spartan II, Specter, Reclusiarch

'I see the fear you have inside.'
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 49)

Postby Chh » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:12 pm

Interesting...AdMech are not what I'd consider the most aggressive of factions (unless any STC-related tech is involved), so why have they gutted one Battlebarge and are attacking another?

Oh, wait...

Spoiler: Dragon Cultists?

Currently writing: http://www.thebolthole.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2138 (Sanguinian Heresy)

Please read some of it, and give feedback. Please?
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 49)

Postby librisrouge » Wed Jun 05, 2013 7:21 pm

I'm thinking definitely Dragon Cultists. They'd be a big problem in a galaxy unprepared for them and the screaming skull is an indicator of some kind of taint.

May they be shot out of the void.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 49)

Postby Meaneye » Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:18 am

Well, a new update is up. Number fifty too. I am not proud of my writing speed lately, but I am proud of this number :D





The scream came from everything. It emanated from the vox-speakers, reverberating all over the bridge. It saturated the walls, went through consoles, distorting their displays and adding to the confusion with the chirping and sizzling of the wounded machine spirits aboard the Opportunity. The sound was accompanied by flickering lights and a slight but obvious tremor.

The Opportunity, the proud vessel of Strike Force Four, was shrieking with the enemy ship. She was attacked in a way she had not experienced before. Missiles, weapon barrage, boarding, even biological and demonic weapons were not unknown to her, but this Mechanicus ship was not targeting her on the physical level.

Malistrum knew this. He had encountered this ship class before, and he knew what the enemy was capable of. They were trying to destroy the Opportunity’s machine spirits by infecting them with cogitator viruses. Such pagan and old-fashioned attacks were virtually unheard of within the anti-secular Imperium, and for some reason, xenos races were not so keen on using such means. Creating semi-intelligent machine spirits with harmful intent was inherently dangerous as they could easily evolve into AI – Abominable Intelligence, sentience without an actual soul behind it.

Vetrix-class Mechanicus vessels were designed for machine spirit combat. They were no longer built, and the few remaining vessels were all relics to a bygone era, that of the Dark Age of Technology, long before the Emperor’s time. Their attack was crude and dishonourable, but nevertheless effective. Rogue machine spirits were let loose all around the Opportunity’s systems, trying to corrupt or disable them. Communication, weapon systems, life support: everything was fair game to them, and in theory, a Vetrix could cripple even a small flotilla of vessels.

Whatever the ship was, it proved to be a perfect pirate vessel; also, she was the most unlikely candidate for piracy. All Vetrix had a set of arrays on their outer hulls which transmitted the corrupt machine spirits over o the target. These relays required constant upgrade and supervision as these spirits were just as dangerous to their own vessel as to the enemy. To provide supervision, dedicated tech-priests were needed, and dedicated tech-priests did simply not become pirates.

Captain Malistrum knew that some vital information was still missing. He had no time to ponder over that, however; not when the ship was seemingly dying around him. All his senses were telling him just how serious the attack was: the shaking floor, the failing lights and the awful wail which the Opportunity’s systems had taken over by now were all clear signs of that. The bridge crew was on edge. Malistrum could feel their fear just as he could feel the suffering of his ship. They held their posts as Astartes serfs should, but Malistrum’s enhanced senses could not be deceived. Short, jerky head movements, barely audible gulps the smell of sweat in the air all indicated the mortals were on the edge of panic.

‘Don’t give in to fear!’ The Captain’s calm but firm voice cut through the machine noise. ‘The enemy stroke first and wounded us. We will survive it just as we have survived worse before. Endure with her and wait for my signal to retaliate.’

Once again, the calm manner of their master eased the tension of the crew. Pale, sweating faces turned back to their consoles, and the Captain’s augmented hearing could make out the breathing of his men slowly becoming regular again. He did not lean back. His expressionless face swept through the bridge, waiting for the tremors to subside.





The only person who was actually fighting at this phase of the battle was Magos Brakk. Granted, he was assisted by several adepts and servitors plugged into the Opportunity’s system, but their presence was of secondary importance. It was his battle, and his decisions alone would determine whether the ship would survive the attack at all.

He was not using his normal sight. His eyes were capable of seeing in several spectrums simultaneously, but this time, he decided to forgo his normal human vision and shift his sight completely into the noosphere. The walls and consoles, in fact, all the hard surface of the chamber he was in, were dull, dark and grey, almost to the point of complete invisibility; the organic crew around him was similarly dimmed as their presence or their movement did not need to be registered at all.

Yet the image he formed in his brain about his surroundings was anything but dark and static. Even though he did not see the physical objects around him, he was aware of them by the traces of information and energy which flew through them. The grey, barely seen contours of the physical world were outlined by shining symbols of binary and other, more advanced codes. Electricity, plasma or even bio-energy was visible, running through walls, devices and people, while every technological or biological construct had a halo of information stream around it, listing its characteristics according to countless factors.

The noosphere, a way of information storage in the physical dimensions around the objects in question, had been perhaps the last advanced technology created before the Horus Heresy. Adept Koriel Zeth of the Mars-based Mechanicum had perfected this method virtually in the last minute before half the tech-priesthood had sided with Horus Lupercal against the Emperor. Most loyalist Martian forges had perished within the single day under the demon-infested cogitator virus known only as the scrap-code, and had it not been for Zeth’s invention, the Dark Mechanicus would have won that day, allowing Horus to use the full strength of Mars upon his inevitable arrival to the Terran system. The noosphere, having its roots encoded in the physical universe itself, proved to be highly resistant to demonic corruption, allowing the remaining loyalist priests to rally and, eventually help the Imperium oust the traitors from most of the Galaxy.

It had been used as an anti-corruption tool ever since. The Imperium was not aware how many times the Archenemy tried to sweep its machines off the battlefield with cogitator viruses. Usually, Chaos failed, and in most cases, they owed their failure to the noosphere. The Warp could taint material objects and minds with ease, and even the scrap-code could take over a system over time, but the amalgamation of a human brain and cybernetic implants behind a fully functional noosphere system was usually enough protection against such attempts – especially with a functioning Geller-field as a backup.

This time, the noosphere was failing. To Brakk’s eye, the normal shining surfaces and were tainted by strange, silver-like pools of smudge, and the flow of symbols between systems were slowed-in some case, halted – by a yet unknown force. Brakk was incapable of fear or even surprise, but the alien nature of this threat almost shocked him into inaction for a while. The silver pools were multiplying and spreading like the Warp-based scrap-code, and their function seemed to be the same: dominate and destroy. Yet, all the experience the Magos had accumulated through his long existence was telling him that this attack was not the work of Chaos, nor was it of xenos origin. The Opportunity was being targeted by something beyond the understanding of her crew.





The ship shook visibly now. Malistrum’s eyes narrowed as he looked out of the viewport and saw that the enemy vessel was approaching them. With no functioning weapon or shield system, the Fatemaker ship would be easy prey even to a weakly armed enemy.

The ship did not fire at them. She made a half-turn to evade the Opportunity. As she turned her flank towards the Fatemakers, this would have been the best chance for them to shoot and destroy her –if the Opportunity had had any weapon to shoot with. The Captain saw with growing frustration as the Mecnahicus ship slowly positioned herself between the Opportunity and the Chad-Okhlam. Visual confirmation at this distance was difficult for the naked eye, even for an Astartes, it seemed that the enemy released several landing craft towards the vessel.

There was no way to warn Andorias and the others, Malistrum thought. Whoever was on those landers, the squad had to face it alone.





The silver pools continued to spread. Magos Brakk did not have the capacity to feel fear or despair, and so he did the only thing he could: he slowed down the alien machine spirits while trying to analyse them at the same time.

There was one spirit which was a prime candidate for segregation. It was trying to disable one of the air-refreshing units, and in the process, it detached itself from the main group of corruption. The Magos acted without delay. His phantom appendages reached out and grabbed the spirit. It was an amorphous thing, trying to change shape as it was fighting desperately to escape from Brakk’s clutches. This was unusual in itself: most machine spirits were simple and functional things, designed to fulfil one particular task. Naturally, the more aggressive ones had to be programmed in a way that allowed them more fighting options, but the behaviour of this one suggested something else. This machine spirit was almost…

Creative.

The Magos dug into the formless spirit. He was not trying to destroy it; rather, he was trying to find something in its coding which betrayed its origin. The ship which released the spirits was a Mechanicus vessel, so the spirits themselves had to be made by the Mechanicus. The Martian brotherhood had always been obsessed by cataloguing everything around it, and this habit was usually observed even by its secessionist fractions. The machine spirit had to have an identifiable code. A marking, denoting it not only to the Adeptus Mechanicus in general, but a particular forge-world as well.

There it was. A short code in the sacred binary language of the priesthood: not long, not ostentatious, but enough for those with the right knowledge to identify it. Magos Brakk devoted some of his attention to the main databank of the Opportunity, and he found a positive match with one of the Nidhoyan forge-worlds. The databank contained several vital pieces of information, but the Magos was only interested in one of them.

A general shut-down command.

The appendage of the Magos shone brightly in the noosphere. The light slammed into the machine spirit which shook instantly. Its form seemed to solidify for a second, then the entire spirit started to fade as if the Magos dissolved it somehow. In three point seven second in real time, the entire spirit disappeared.

The Magos waited for several more seconds in case the thing returned. Then he transmitted a command through the noosphere to every other adept, servitor and cogitator unit on the hip. Following his guidance, the ship started to apply the shut-down code to every attacking machine spirit. The Magos looked on as the silvery taint slowly receded from the vessel, and he established a link to Captain Malistrum on the bridge.





The ship shook less now, and the en tire crew felt it. They did not dare to feel relieved yet, but the tension eased somewhat. Malistrum leaned forward in his chair, but he said nothing. He knew that Magos Brakk would contact him once he had some control over the ship again.

He was right. The vox channel came alive with static, and the voice of the ranking Mechanicus priest soon cut in.

‘Brother-Captain Malistrum. We have managed to quarantine the machine spirits. We will require at least twelve more minutes to completely eliminate them, but we can clear individual systems by your command.’

‘Thank you, Magos,’ Malistrum answered. He looked out of the viewport again and saw the enemy ship making another turn again, this time obviously to light her hull with the Opportunity. There was a hard edge in his eyes now.

‘I need to send a message to the Chad-Okhlam,’ he said. ‘Inform Sergeant Andorias to expect boarders. Otherwise,’ he added, ‘I only need control over the lance batteries.’





The enemy ship was approaching the Opportunity on an obvious intercept course. She was not in a hurry: the captain of the vessel must have thought that the Fatemakers had been completely disabled be the corrupt machine spirit attack. Her tactic was that of a pirate: once the prey had been immobilized, the only remaining thing to do was to send troops over to crush the remaining resistance. She could not have expected to find the Opportunity here, which was probably why she released the landers onto the original target first. Now she was ready to make a second round, releasing the rest of her crew aboard the newcomer.

Malistrum gave her no chance to do so. As the enemy approached, the lance batteries of the Astartes ship blinked, and clawed into the other with long beams of light. The surprise was complete. The enemy was not expecting any kind of resistance from the Space Marines, not to mention such a savage retaliation. The ship changed course immediately in a desperate attempt to avoid the lance beam which was taking her apart.

It was a failed attempt. The beam carved into her hull just a few hundred meters short of the engine section and continued its way towards the prow. The first casualty was the living quarters section on her portside. The Opportunity basically gutted her, throwing air, metal fragments and possibly crewmembers into vacuum. The beam continued its course, tearing out, as far as Malistrum saw, a number of secondary generators amidship. The powerful explosions added to the devastation already wrought upon her, and the ship shook visibly. The metallic head at the front of the vessel was no longer visible, but the ship herself screamed again. The Opportunity’s systems took over the scream and amplified it, creating the illusion of a wounded beast shrieking.

‘Continue towards the prow,’ Malistrum calmly ordered. The enemy was gravely wounded, and she was certainly outclassed by the heavier Astartes vessel, but the battle as far from over. A wounded enemy was just as dangerous as an unhurt one, especially at this distance. Fortunately, the Captain knew how to finish her quickly.

Like any beast, this one would die with her head cut off. Most Imperial vessels had one weak point on their hull: the section directly behind the reinforced adamantium prow. That triangle-shaped piece was designed to house torpedoes and to be capable of ramming with it, but the section behind it was structurally weaker: it was thinner, and had a lot of tubes across it for the ammunition and the maintenance corridors. If the lances could cut through the reinforced outer hull there, the prow would come off, and the ship would be finished.

The lance-beam closed on the metaphorical neck of the ship, even as she was escaping. New decks were obliterated by the plasma energy emanating from the Astartes cruiser. People died over there by the hundreds, and the vessel slowed down. The beam went on, unopposed.

Then it stopped. The lancer tube went quiet without any warning: one moment, it was firing, the next moment, it simply stopped. The enemy ship finished her turn, and was now showing its engine section towards the Opportunity.

Malistrum’s fist clenched.

‘Magos Brakk!’ he barked into the vox-unit.

‘I am sorry, Brother-Captain, Malistrum,’ the answer came. ‘The enemy released a new wave of machine spirits, targeting directly the lance weapons. They adapt faster than anticipated. We will require time to cleanse the systems.’

Malistrum looked out of the viewport. The ship was now fleeing and was visibly shrinking as she slowly got away. The Captain’s face darkened.

‘Do we have the engines back?’ he asked in a stiff voice.

‘I am sorry, my lord,’ one of the serfs answered. ‘We may be able to get sixty per cent out of the system, but not more.’

Sixty per cent may have been enough. The enemy was seriously injured, and once the opportunity caught up with her… however, even as the thought went through Malistrum’s mind, his gaze fell on the Chad-Okhlam. Before the ship escaped, she sent a couple of landers with who knows how many troops aboard over the vessel. The Fatemaker ship, sister to the Opportunity, was already, dead, but that does not mean that she should have suffered the desecration of an enemy force. More importantly, there were Space Marines over there. His Space Marines, the last brothers he had in this universe, threatened by an unknown force.

Malistrum had mere seconds to decide.

‘Cancel pursuit, and set all weapons to standby mode,’ he said. ‘Magos Brakk? New orders. I want enough control over the ship to allow the launch of some Caestus pods. As soon as you are ready, we will go and assist our men.’

He looked back at the fleeing enemy. This was far from over. The two ships would meet again.

Very soon.





A ship only comes alive when she is inhabited.

There were people now aboard the ship, but it did not feel that they brought life with them. dark-robed, wire-thin figures were moving towards the inside of the Chad-Okhlam, searching for other people, delving deeper and deeper into the living quarters.

They did not slow down. Ever. They turned into the right corridors at every intersection, as if they had known exactly where their target was hiding. They probably did, too. There was not much energy source left on the ship, and one of them could be pinpointed very easily on a certain deck in a place which the occupants no doubt thought safe. They were about to be disappointed in that.

As they approached, the figures split up into smaller groups. Only three of them went on on the main corridor, with the rest taking parallel routes. Their intention was clear: herding their prey into one corner, surround them and kill all of them in a quick, efficient manner. There was no communication between them: no vox-contact, no spoken orders from and superior officer, not even hand-signs. Still, they moved on in perfect, emotionless unity.

The main three figures only slowed down a few hundred metres from their destination. There was still no communication between them, but they still halted at the same section of the wall. They were looking at the panel without a movement: only a faint whirring sound was audible from under their hood. Finally, one of the made a step towards the wall, and lifted a thin-linen-covered hand to touch the panel.

The panel exploded. A huge shape darted through the spinning debris and slammed into the thin figure with bone-crushing force. The other flew backwards as if a tank had hit it. The other wall stopped it with a sound of a metal barrel thrown down a well, and it stayed there, virtually smeared onto the wall, its limbs broken and distorted.

The other two figures became a blurred image as the attacked. No single human, no matter how augmented, could have moved with such a speed. They slashed forward with their arms, and the attacker moved with them. Compared to the two figures, he was moving as if underwater; nevertheless, he was able to block the attacks with his huge energised blades.

Flying sparks illuminated the helmet of Sergeant Andorias as he pulled back his lightning claws to strike at his opponents. He was agile, even in Terminator armour, but the speed of the two figures caught him by surprise. During the heartbeat it took him to raise the claws, he was cut on half a dozen different places. Most of the cuts only managed to scratch the paintwork on his armour, but at least two of them punched through the ceramite. They failed to draw blood, but the fact that they actually managed to puncture the armour was telling.

The two attackers had some sort of power blades themselves; by the looks of it, the blades were built into their fingers, replacing the nails entirely. They were fast, too. Too fast for Andorias, at least in Terminator armour. The sergeant was used to fighting like a human tank, not evading but enduring the strikes, but this was too much for him. The corridor was too narrow to manoeuvre properly, which should have worked to his advantage, but these wretched creatures were still managed to wear him down.

He moved forward, leaving the false panel and the small hole in the wall behind. Although all Fatemaker vessels were equipped with such secret compartments, the Chad Okhlam was not their ship, and so they could only find this one in such a short time. Andorias wished there had been more with some of his people in them, but he could not dwell too much upon it as the remaining two people started to really shred his armour. One of them was daring enough to jump forward, crouch under the sweeping blade of the Sergeant and strike forward with his close palm, punching four finger-blades into a crack between the armour’s shoulder-guard and chestplate.

Where they got struck, just as the Sergeant planned.

The servos whined as the Sergeant pressed his arm to his side, trapping the blades even stronger. His opponent still had a free hand, and he cut his helmet in two quick strikes. The robe was pulled back on its arm, revealing a skeleton-like metal limb which ended in power blades, just as suspected.

It had no time for a third strike as Andorias had managed to raise his other arm by that time, and he elbowed it right in the face. There was a metallic clanking noise, and the head on the attacker lolled aside. Its movement slowed down and became erratic, but now the Sergeant virtually trapped himself too, and the last enemy did not hesitate to use this opportunity. It jumped on the back of its mate, and started to slash towards the Astartes warrior.

Andorias grunted. He could not turn his head fast enough, and his helmet got shredded in a few heartbeats. He pushed the second attacker on his blade away, but the third one was still close enough. It stopped cutting the armour, reached forward, and grabbed the helmet with its hands.

There were already several warning signs alight inside the helmet, but now more came alive with a sound of crumbling metal. It felt like a vice pressing on the helmet, and it did not take a lot to imagine what would happen when the ceramite finally gave in.

Then one of the visor in the helmet cracked, and Andorias became partially blind.

He howled. He punched the other lightning claw through the second opponent, and heaved, lifting both attackers up in the air. He had tried something like this what seemed like ages earlier, during the battle in Saint Menthas System to throw away a kill-crazed Battle Sister away from him. This would not have worked now because he had no room for properly throwing any thing away. The ship was designed for Astartes sizes, but the corridors were too narrow for such a feet.

Luckily, a narrow corridor meant that the ceiling was low as well.

Andorias raised the second attacker high and slammed the third one against the ceiling. He put all his superhuman strength into the thrust, augmented it with the servos in his armour and added his own rage to it. The second figure stopped moving altogether, while the third made a mewling noise. The pressure on his head did not ease, however, so the Sergeant cried out in anger and pain and slammed the two upwards again, and again and again.

The third figure let go of the helmet and slid off its mate’s back after the sixth strike. Andorias did not give it a respite: he threw the second attacker on it, and stomped down on both of them. One of them – the second or the third, it was now impossible to say – grabbed his ankle, and pulled his leg from under him. He fell onto the other two, and he got frenzied. He started to scream, and he started to thrash on the two, hitting, cutting and kicking with all his might.

It was a real nightmare. None of them was now able to move properly now, but now that Andorias was lying on the other two, their advantages of speed was gone. Andorias hit them where he could: he caved in a face of tubes and whirring lenses, he broke limbs and he headbutted something in front of him. He lost track of time; but when the red haze lifted from his mind, he could see that he was basically kneeling on a pile of shattered debris and torn wires.

He groaned, and tried to stand up. Terminator armour had on weakness in its cumbersome nature. Had he fallen on his back, he knew he would never get up without help. Even while kneeling, it was a chore. The servos whined and he lifted a little, only to fall back again.

He heaved. His ear was throbbing, but he had Astartes senses, and he could hear that something was moving behind him. He stopped breathing and listened.

A dark shape slowly towered over his kneeling body from behind. It was the first attacker, the one he had thrown against the wall. It was not moving slowly, but in his present state, a human juve could have killed the Sergeant.

He growled as the attacker reached down and pulled his helmeted head up. His vision was terrible, but he could see that the dark figure raised its hand and prepared for a killing strike.

‘Go. To. Hell.’ He groaned.

Something whirred behind them and an invisible force blasted the thing from Andorias with a series of loud bangs. It flew over the Sergeant and fell on the ground in several pieces.

The familiar steps of a Terminator Armour came up to Andorias.

‘Sergeant? Are you all right?’

Andorias did not answer for a second. It was difficult for him to form coherent thoughts.

‘I am wounded,’ he finally said. ‘But functional nonetheless. What is the situation?’

‘We beat back this wave, and we have communication with the Opportunity again,’ his man answered. ‘We are expecting reinforcement from the ship. We lost to men. These things are devils… didn’t you hear the report?’

He did not. A quick glance at the remaining internal sensors confirmed that the vox system was in place, but the battle-haze took the Sergeant completely over, and he would not have heard the end of the world. He shook his head.

‘My armour is torn up,’ he said, which was true, even if he did not answer the question directly. ‘Help me up.’

With the help of his new man, Andorias finally managed to stand up. The other Terminator waved towards the corridor with his assault cannon.

‘Should we go and intercept the next wave?’

Andorias shuddered in his armour. He had no problem with the fight, but his memory lapse worried seriously him. He had lost control. Again. What was happening to him?

‘We dig in,’ he decided. ‘We soot anything which is not rock-crete grey, and we wait for the reinforcement.’ There was a biter edge in his voice. ‘We will wait for our Captain to save us.’
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 50)

Postby JJvagnar » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:16 pm

Awesome update. Those were Mechanicus Assassins right?
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 50)

Postby Midgard » Thu Jul 11, 2013 5:58 am

Made of awesome. Looking forward to more updates!
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 50)

Postby librisrouge » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:00 am

I love the descriptions of combat with the Fatemakers in Tactical Dreadnought Armor. I've always pictured such fights as simple and straight forward, so kinda boring beyond being a kill-fest, but you've added a dimension to it I've not seen before and it was very entertaining to read.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 50)

Postby Meaneye » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:21 pm

Update 51. It was a difficult birth :lol:



Aboard the Opportunity


584 days after the Emperor’s death





The door opened, and Malistrum entered. The man sitting at the table jerked nervously at the sight of the Captain’s immense bulk blocking the entryway.

This was to be expected. Malistrum knew what effect his kind had on ordinary humans. He did what he could to ease the man in front of him: he wore no helmet, there were no guards in the room, but he could not change the fact that he was by his very nature intimidating, the man was in bad shape, and his first encounter with the Chapter suggested that they were enemies of a kind.

If he was to reach an understanding with this man, he needed to work on it.

‘My name is Captain Andros Malistrum of the Fatemaker Astartes Chapter,’ he said. It was a simple claim, but there was a weight behind his words that could not be ignored.

The other nodded cautiously. ‘My lord.’

‘Your name is Elias Bronna, and your rank was third mate aboard the Rouge Trader vessel Pearl of Malakash. The captain and owner of that vessel was called Olsac Tetramagulos, a name I am sure is known in this subsector.’

He looked expectantly at Elias, who nodded again.

‘The Pearl is well known around here, my lord.’

‘Under normal circumstances, we would not have any issue with each other, third mate Elias. I doubt we would even have business with each other, but these are different times.’

He looked again at the man who was now positively nervous. I am no good at this, Malistrum thought. He could talk to mortals, but they were either Imperial dignitaries or subordinates of a kind, which meant they were part of a command chain – even if he and they did not share the same chain, it was a familiar concept, and he could relate to them. This man was not his better, and he was intimidated, but the Captain could not afford to have answers coming out of the mouth of a frightened man.

Malistrum sat at the table opposite Elias, put down the data-slate in his hand, and sighed. ‘I cannot say anything which will calm you down, can I?’ he asked. ‘I am eight feet tall, I wear power armour which enables me to punch through a tank, you saw my men destroy the boarders on the Chad-Okhlam, and we found you aboard our dead ship with the crew, our battle-brothers, missing. You are expecting us to interrogate you, which probably means torture and then death.’

Elias said nothing. His eyes were fixed on the table in front of him.

‘I have no interest in hurting you in any way,’ Malistrum continued, ‘I merely want answers. I believe we are not enemies. I need you to tell me everything you know about the fate of the Chad-Okhlam, and I am willing to strike a deal with you for the information. Of course,’ he raised a finger, ‘I would probably say the same thing if I wanted to harm you afterwards. I could get the information out of you peacefully, and then I could have you executed all the same. Is it not what you are thinking?’

Elias nodded reluctantly.

‘You will be afraid of me whatever I say, but consider your options. I want to be frank with you, and so I am telling you that I have a psyker in the next room who is scanning your surface thoughts as we are speaking. He will tell me if you are lying to me or not. I cannot take your word for granted, and so I made this one precaution. As for your safety… what can I say?’ he stretched his arms out around the room. ‘You will have to make this decision for yourself. You can cooperate and tell us what we want to know, in which case you have the word of an Astartes commander not to hurt you – even be more lenient with you if it turned out that we indeed have a reason to treat you as an enemy – or you can give me a reason to believe that you are a threat to us.’

He looked at the man expectantly. Elias lowered his head for a second, then he looked back at the Captain.

‘I will take my chances with your word, my lord.’

‘I am glad,’ Malistrum nodded. ‘I would like you to start where you believe you need to start. If I have any questions, I will ask them as you speak.’

‘As you wish.’ Elias still looked nervous, but at least he was concentrating on pleasing the Captain. ‘Well, he started, ‘as I have already said, me and my crewmates belong to the Pearl of Malakash, and Olsac Tetramagulos was the captain. The Pearl used to do regular trade in this part of the subsector: we brought promethium and machine parts from the Bhoros Forges to the hives of the Yao-Yao system and we brought back exotic crystals mined in the system’s moons. Than we went back to Bhoros and stopped wherever the captain saw fit to sell the crystals, make a profit and get the money to make another run from Bhoros. About a year and a half ago…’

‘One moment please,’ Malistrum interrupted. Elias stopped and watched as the Astartes commander consulted the data-slate in his hand.

‘The Yao-Yao system is about thirty parsecs from here, is it not?’

Elias nodded.

‘My ship’s databank has no information about any hive in that system,’ Malistrum stated. ‘It has a few mining outposts, but that’s it. Bhoros is a Mechanicus outpost, all right, but when you mentioned it, you said ‘forges.’ As in several forges, like an independent forge-world.’

Elias looked surprised. ‘Bhoros is a forge-world, my lord, and the hives in the Yao-Yao system are at least four hundred years old.’

Malistrum looked at the man with an expressionless face. ‘The databank of my ship is regularly updated from the central archives of Ulderik, the capital of Sector Malachias. The newest data is approximately seven years old.’

Elias looked puzzled, but he answered quickly enough. ‘I promised to tell you the truth, my lord, and you have a psyker in the next room who can vouch for my words. Yao-Yao and Bhoros are how I described them.’

‘Hmm,’ Malistrum murmured. He looked deep in the man’s eyes, and although he winced, he did not turn away. ‘Carry on, please.’

Elias continued. ‘About a year and a half ago… something happened. The Pearl was at high anchor over Yao-Yao, when the Astronomicon… it went out as if it had never existed. The Astropath on the ship died, and the Navigator… my lord, I don’t know how to say this.’ The man wiped his sweating forehead with the back of his hand. ‘The same thing happened on Yao-Yao. Psykers, Astropaths: they all died, some of them got possessed… the rumour said only a handful of them survived for any length of tie, and what they said… what they said…’

‘They talked of the death of the Emperor,’ Malistrum quietly finished his sentence.

Elias jerked up his head and looked at the Astartes with wide eyes.

‘What those people said is true, third mate Elias,’ Malistrum said. ‘The Emperor, the ruler of Mankind, is no more. Our species is without a guiding hand now.’

‘By the Throne…’ Elias whispered.

‘Look at me.’ There was no way to ignore the commanding voice of an Astartes Captain. ‘This is something none of us is prepared for,’ Malistrum said. His gaze held Elias in a grip just as sure as his gauntleted hand would have. ‘We were taught that He on Earth is our god, our saviour and the only thing that stands between us and the darkness of the Warp. Nobody has ever contemplated on how to continue without Him, or if they did, they were burnt as heretics. This is a new age now. He is dead, but the world did not end. You still exist, and we, His chosen warriors, exist as well. His orders still stand: we are still bound to protect His domain and the people who live there.’

He leaned forward. ‘The mission of my strike force is clear. We want to find our brothers so we can start rebuilding. Today, we found a fellow ship, and we found that something had killed her. It was not your ship, was it? A mere trade vessel could not have possibly harmed an Astartes cruiser.’

‘No,’ Elias whispered. ‘No, it was not our ship.’

‘You are afraid of us,’ Malistrum stated, ‘but you are more afraid of the boarders who attacked both of us. You have met them before, have you not?’

Elias nodded.

‘Help us, third mate Elias,’ Malistrum said. ‘Help us, and in return, we will help you. We can try to find your ship, we can try to find the rest of your crew, and even if we cannot do that, we can avenge them. Give me what I need, and you win an Astartes strike force as an ally.’





‘That’s all he knew?’ Sergeant Gorski asked.

Akichi shrugged. ‘I can vouch for his words – or at least I can say he was sure what he said was true.’

The officers leaned back almost as one. Every one of them was present, the mortal representatives included. Mediator Dmitrija, Tank-Commander Miklas, Pastor Yeverick, even Wing-Commander Charadan was there. All of them, like the Astartes officers, showed the same frustrated face.

This was not a simple meeting. It had the potential to become a war council, although it showed none of the brisk and effective meetings they used to have before the Extinction. It seemed all the meetings they had nowadays brought nothing but more questions and dissatisfying explanations, just like the one they had just received.

The Captain rubbed his temple. ‘The Pearl of Malakash came here for two reasons,’ he said. He was repeating his own words now, but it seemed he needed to actually hear Elias’s story again to process it. ‘One reason was that there was an insurrection in the Yao-Yao system, and, if we are to believe him, it was the kind of chaos which could potentially burn the planet out. The Pearl needed to get away from it, but the captain refused to leave the immediate area as there was no other civilized world nearby, and he argued that once they left the area, they would probably leave it forever.’

‘The second reason probably concerns us more,’ he continued. There is an ancient legend in this subsector about a large archeotech deposit somewhere in the system. A ‘motherload, as third mate Elias put it.’ He looked at Magos Brakk. ‘I don’t know what this expression means.’

‘It is simply a term to emphasize the size, value and quality of the discovery,’ the Magos droned through his speaker. ‘At its most basic, the term means a significant amount.’

‘Quite,’ Malistrum nodded. ‘The Pearl arrived in the system nine days ago, found traces of a space battle and used the energy signals to find the Chad-Okhlam herself. The ship was destroyed and abandoned, so the captain ordered him to lead a salvage team over to assess the ‘plunder.’’

Malistrum stopped for a second. ‘In order to ensure his future cooperation, I think it is best not to ponder over the fact that these people have tried to steal the content of a brother Astartes vessel.’ He sighed. ‘We have done worse things ourselves lately.’

Uskovich leaned on his two elbows and slowly shook his head. The look on most of the other officers’ face also suggested that they would not be so casual about this robbery attempt, but they knew better to object.

‘The team boarded the Chad-Okhlam – finding nobody alive, I might add – and headed for the bridge only to get a report from their own vessel about the approach of a new ship. The same Vetrix-class ship which attacked us. The Vetrix probably used the same weapon against the Pearl as against us, sent boarders to the Chad-Okhlam, the same boarders who attacked Sergeant Andorias, who killed most of Elias’s men before the few survivors could hide at the lower decks. The boarders spent two days…’ here Malistrum’s lips moved soundlessly for a second before he could use the term on a Fatemaker ship, ‘plundering. Then they left, taking most valuable things with them, although apparently not everything because they returned once more to take what was left.’

‘Meanwhile, the remaining three men were busy cowering aboard the ship for three days and then rigged the bridge consoles to start emitting a general distress call, not knowing that the ship would only send it on special frequencies,’ Essen finished his Captain’s tale. ‘If we had not been here, nobody would have come, and these people would have starved’. He looked around. ‘Am I the only one who feels that something is not right with this story?’

‘If Librarian Akichi says the third mate spoke truly, we have no reason to believe otherwise,’ Malistrum stated. The Library made a dignified nod towards him to thank for his support. ‘I know what your problem is, and yes, it is too convenient to find these people at the exact time and space to find our wounded brother ship. It actually makes sense to me, however.’

The officers looked at him expectantly.

‘We don’t think this story adds up because we are here in the middle of nowhere, and we find at least three factions out here, only one of which was expected.’ Malistrum’s face remained casually neutral during his speech, but his men knew him enough. The Captain was angry. ‘The problem is this is no longer an unpopulated area of space any more. There is a hive-world not so far from here, with all the agri-worlds and vassal planets to support it. Bhoros is a fully-grown forge-world with enough influence to make its presence feel even in this area. Only our regularly updated databanks showed nothing of it.’

Malistrum chuckled softly; the first emotion he had shown so far in the conversation. ‘For one moment, I almost thought that we went through some sort of time distortion while we were in the Warp. It would take hundreds of years for a hive-world to fully develop.’ He shook his head. ‘Can you believe it? After all the things happening to us, it seemed logical that we spent that much time in the Greengate conduit. But no. Third mate Elias referred to the death of the Emperor, and the dates add up.’

‘The databanks…’ one of the officers interrupted, but Malistrum raised a finger.

‘Our databanks get updated from the Malachias central archives, and it seems that the central archives in the Nydhoya Sector did not send them the right data. I checked the facts with third mate Elias. The Yao-Yao hives were founded by a local merchant family, the Ven Harros. It was a private venture, outside of the scope of the Administratum. Consequently, nobody cared about it. Four hundred years later, the hive-world is finished, but the local archives are still not updated. A valuable system falls through the gap, but who cares?’

‘I am willing to bet that the same thing happened to Bhoros,’ he continued. ‘A single forge complex is working on becoming a full forge-world, but the Administratum fails to acknowledge a change in the world’s status. The locals know it, the neighbouring systems know it, the traders know it, but the central command? No.’

Malistrum knocked angrily on the table.

‘Incompetence. This is what we are dealing with, brothers. The incompetence of the Imperium. Who knows how long these things have been festering? How many worlds have been lost this way? We have seen it at home, but we always put it down to the failings of individuals. A greedy governor, corrupt officials… but this…’

He looked at his officers.

‘Forgive me for my outburst,’ he said. There was tiredness in his voice now. ‘It is not easy to realize that the thing you have been trying to protect is rotten to the core. I have had my doubts, but it is one thing to fear for the Imperium and another to find out that even if the Emperor had not died, His domain would have fallen anyway.’

There should have been protests. There was none. The officers, mortal and Astartes alike, were sitting in silence. What could they have said?

‘These are thoughts we will have to consider later on,’ Malistrum finally said. ‘Once the present crisis is resolved. For now,’ he straightened up, ‘We have to make do with what we know. The area around the Greengate system is populated: there is regular traffic and communication with the outside world. The reserve fleet emerged, something attacked it, and the battle alerted at least two local factions both of whom came here to investigate. The Pearl of Malakash was not a hostile force; the other was. They looted the Chad-Okhlam, perhaps they even attacked it in the first place, and they tried to attack and board us too when they returned. That makes them our next target.’

The atmosphere in the room eased somewhat. Malistrum’s speech made his subordinated uncomfortable, but it seemed that their leader was focussed again, which was good. The Astartes always functioned better when they had straightforward goals, and an oncoming military operation was the most straightforward goal they could imagine.

‘What do we know about our enemy?’ Malistrum asked.

This was Magos Brakk’s expertise. As soon as the Astartes had cleaned the Chad-Okhlam from the intruders – a feat that cost the Fatemakers three battle-brothers all together – the Magos went over the ship to examine the corpses the attackers had left behind. He now leaned forward.

‘I have no good news, Brother-Captain,’ he whirred in his peculiar voice. ‘By examining the remains, I could positively identify them as Mechanicus soldiers. The metallic alloy used in their skeletal structure as well as some of the instruments built into them are typical of our priesthood. As for the coding of the machine spirits which attacked our ship, it can be traced back to the Cygmo-IV forge-world, which was destroyed in the Neodevourer Wars. Our databanks show that the forge-world had Cygmo IV had tried to found several Mechanicus outposts prior to its destruction. One such outpost was finally established here in the sector.’

‘Bhoros?’ Malistrum asked.

‘Affirmative. However, I do not think that this ship was sent here by that forge-world.’

‘Explain, please.’ Malistrum looked over his officers. Most of them were concentrating on Brakk’s report: perhaps they did not realize it themselves, but they managed to slip into a half-trance-like state which an Astartes only experienced when absorbing large amounts of information. Given what the strike force had gone through recently, it was a relief to see his brothers like this. The way they shut out all irrelevant data finally reminded him of the way these meetings had been conducted before the Extinction.

Two of his men did not seem focussed even now, and this was a bad sign. Chaplain Uskovich at least was paying attention, although he showed signs of mental exertion: his skin was pale, his fingers were slightly twitching and he sometimes reached up and rubbed his forehead. It was a sad reminder that the Chaplain, the supposed spiritual force behind the strike force, was no longer Astartes in mentality.

The other man was Sergeant Andorias. He had just come back from a murderous engagement with the boarders, which left his armour and gear in pieces. He was bruised as well, but this was not the problem. He was focussed elsewhere. His eyes never left his fellow Sergeant, Essen, during the meeting. His Astartes conditioning seemed to focus on his battle-brother, and Malistrum could only guess as to what could go through his head now.

Andorias must have felt the Captain’s gaze on him because he looked up. Their eyes locked, and Malistrum felt a strange cold feeling as he realized he was unable to read any intention from the Sergeant’s face. He had once seen a mind-wiped soldier: he had had the same expressionless eyes, even though that man had been drooling the whole time, and Andorias was not.

For the first time in a while, the Captain gave up and broke eye contact with another man.

Magos Brakk was not aware of his Captain’s thoughts and so he continued his report. ‘Every forge-world has characteristic features in their architecture, their STC-variants, their technology and their coding. Our enemy contained enough of these features so I could identify their origin, but they have modified their technology so much that I can no longer call them true Mechanicus brothers.’

‘Heretics?’ Techmarine Guztav Ruffar asked. The Magos shook his head.

‘No. Not in the sense that we use the term. Heretics wish to modify the holy doctrines of the Adeptus Mechanicus. They want to research new technology to improve on what Mars has long declared perfect. They wish to introduce a new element to the sacred duality of the priesthood. Human organism and technology combined is the perfect form of existence, and most heretic groups want to fuse this combination with the Warp. Organic and demonic combined with technology is their motto.’

This explanation was uncharacteristically long from the Magos’s mouth. The curtness of his next sentence was equally vexing.

‘Our enemy completely lacked the human element.’

He finished talking. The officers looked at each other, then back to the Magos.

‘Please excuse my behaviour, Brother-Captain,’ the Magos finally said. ‘What I experienced is extremely… disturbing for me. Even though they were based on Mechanicus codes, the machine-spirits which attacked us were so alien that I could barely identify them. Whoever coded them did not use human thought processes any more. The borders were worse. They had no organic components at all. Not even their brains. Their central processor units did not resemble their human counterpart.’ The Magos looked around. ‘Our enemies were Iron Men. This is an expression from the Dark Age of Technology, before the time of the Imperium and the Emperor’s holy Crusade. Our ancestors sinned and created machines which existed independently of humanity. It is my belief that our attackers are trying to imitate them.’

‘Trying?’

‘Traces of the original forge-world coding are still present,’ the Magos explained. ‘In retrospect, it is obvious that our enemies were tech-priests once, and they have tried to completely replace their technology from some unknown force. It is also obvious that they have not succeeded yet. I could still recognise the Machine spirits, and I was able to neutralize them through the noosphere. They had more success with their foot-soldiers. They are definitely not skitarii, although the shape of their exo-skeleton suggests possible Necron influence.’

This was bad news. The Fatemakers did not have as much experience with this metallic xenos species, but they knew about them. The Necrons’ power and number had been growing steadily for the last few centuries, and the Inquisition had long declared them an ‘Extremis’ threat. What kind of a threat a Necron-worshipping Mechanicus cult would be, noone cold say.

‘Did you find any specific Necron technology?’ Essen asked quietly.

‘I have limited information on the technological characteristics of the Necrons,’ the Magos admitted, ‘but the remains show only superficial similarities. The Necrons are obviously an example for the attackers, but they have no access to their knowledge.’

‘A Necron cult, then,’ somebody stated.

‘And a relatively new one,’ Malistrum added. The others looked at him.

‘Either Bhoros has been corrupted, in which case, it happened within the past one and a half year,’ the Captain explained. ‘Otherwise, the Imperium would have discovered it. The other option is a splinter group which seceded from the forge-world at an undetermined time. The local Mechanicus forces started to chase them, but, of course, they only treated them as just another heretic group, and they saw no reason to commit more resources to the chase than the standard procedure. With all the chaos of the last two years, they could have avoided any kind of detection.’

‘But why do you think they are not a well-established cult?’ Hemethor asked.

‘Because these people are so inexperienced it almost hurts.’ Malistrum saw the frowns his officers were making and explained. ‘The ship knew nothing about space combat. She had a powerful weapon, and her captain decided to simply use it once and rely on it completely. They exposed their hull just because they could not imagine that anything could hurt them. They also wasted their resources on useless endeavours.’ The Captain now looked positively disgusted. ‘The transmitting relays which send over the machine-spirits are distributed evenly along the hull of the Vetrix class behind the prow ornament. The prow itself was a standard Mechanicus skull, and I can understand that, but these… idiots… decided to alter the prow, make the jaw mobile and re-wire the relays so they could be placed inside the jaw. There is no reliable reason for it. The relays are not better protected inside the skull once it opens, which it does every time they use the weapon, and now that the prow is articulated, it means it has structural weaknesses. All this effort, only to make the attack more, I don’t even know. Dramatic? This is the way newly formed Chaos-cults behave.’

Uskovich grimaced. ‘It is true. My years at the Inquisition showed the same. The more ostentatious the cultists were, the more likely they were new converts. If they survived long enough, they learned to be more practical.’

‘What did you make of their tactical sense?’ Malistrum asked. There was no immediate answer. ‘Andorias.’ The Sergeant looked up to see that the Captain – and, in fact, the whole table – was looking at him. ‘Did the boarders act in any tactical pattern.’

Andorias looked at him with empty eyes for a second. ‘They had no tactics to speak of,’ his mouth murmured. ‘They attacked as individuals, they relied on their speed, and they treated their peers as an object that gets in the way sometimes.’

‘But they are fast and strong,’ Apothecary Ruffar added. ‘They killed our brothers with ease, and I hear they destroyed four sets of power armour.’

‘So they did.’ Malistrum was still looking at Andorias with a frown. ‘Is everything all right, Sergeant?’

Andorias looked back. ‘My apologies, Captain. My wounds run deeper than I thought.’

‘Are you still capable of fighting?’

Now Andorias frowned. ‘Yes,’ he simply answered.

He was not the only one to be confused. ‘Are you expecting another attack, my lord?’ Hemethor inquired.

‘No. We are the ones who will do the attacking.’ The Captain stood up and started to circle around the table. ‘We will not leave this system until we find out what happened to our brother ship. At this point, it is unlikely that the Pearl of Malakash did this to her, and frankly, I doubt that these Mechanicus pirates could have hurt her the way they did. We need some solid data, which we do not have.’

‘The databanks of the Chad-Okhlam are empty,’ Magos Brakk stated. ‘Somebody erased them almost completely. What little was left of the data suggests that the deletion happened seven to eight days ago.’

‘Which was the time the pirates had free run of the ship,’ Malistrum nodded. ‘They have what we need. I’m not sure we could afford a chase for revenge, but now they are also our strategic objective. We will find them, destroy them and take whatever they stole from our brothers.’

He stopped and turned towards his men. ‘The last reason I believe these people are inexperienced is the way they ran from the Opportunity. There are ways for a ship to disappear in space. Venting plasma to disturb the enemy sensors, switching off all non-necessary energy sources to evade scanning – they did none of it. They simply accelerated and ran away in a straight line.’

Essen was the first person to make the connection. ‘The charts show a planet or moon at the end of their chosen path.’

The Magos nodded. ‘All evidence indicated that they went to Khadmus IV. We have little information about that world. The data claims that it has a degree of vegetation, and the air is tolerable, at least for a few days.’

‘These are no pirates with a mobile ship as a fighting platform,’ the Captain stated. ‘They have a base. And this is where our problems start.’

He started to walk again.

‘A pirate ship we can handle, especially a pirate ship with this level of competence. Generally, we can also handle an enemy base. We launch a lightning raid, we reach our objective and we extract our troops. This we cannot do. We need to examine the data and the plunder they collected from the Chad-Okhlam. We don’t simply need to recover everything, we need to find out what happened to the ship, and that will take time. If we want to recover every single dataslate, if we want to extract all data from their cogitators, we need time, which means we will have to clean the whole base and destroy all their forces.’

‘An entire ship cannot simply secede from a forge-world, especially an ancient class like the Vetrix. These ships are well guarded with professional skitarii soldiers, who were not present in the boarding party. We encountered a handful augmented infantry, and that’s all. The real force remained at the base.’

Malistrum sighed.

‘We will either have a siege to look forward to or the very least, a large-scale engagement. I am talking about a major engagement: flanking forces, artillery and armour support. A meat-grinder in Guard terms. We will have to use all our available forces if we want to succeed. We will have to deploy all our tanks,’ Malistrum nodded at this point to Miklas, ‘we will need to launch our air-force,’ he gestured towards Charadan, ‘we need to use the Ogryns and the mortal auxiliaries as well.’ This latter was addressed to Pastor Yeverick, who nodded back solemnly. ‘We will need additional help as well, depending on a preliminary scouting mission, which will be Sergeant Essen’s task. We will discuss what I expect from each one of you, but we will need to make a few things clear before we go on.’

‘I do not think that we will win this battle without significant losses,’ he said. ‘In our previous engagements, we had the element of surprise, we had the technological and military advantage and our objective did not include the systematic destruction of the enemy. This time, we may have better tactical assets, but we cannot even count on that in a land battle. We will be crippled at Khadmus IV, perhaps so much that we won’t even be able to function as a proper strike force. Still, we have to do this. We need to find out what happened to the Chad-Okhlam, and we need to pay the necessary price for it. I am sorry to say, but massive casualty is the price we need to pay.’

There was only a moment of silence in the room. Then Commander Miklas leaned forward, and started to speak.

‘My lord, I think I am speaking in the name of every mortal on the ship. We have followed you so far, and you have not made any bad judgement yet. If you say we need to wage this war, we will wage it.’

Charadan and Yeverick nodded in support. ‘We can create a militia from the non-combatants, if needed,’ Dmitrija added. We are not prepared for actual combat, but we can provide logistical support if needed.

The Captain looked at the young Mediator for a while. Finally, he closed his eyes for a second.

‘Hopefully, it will not come to that.’ He opened his eyes. ‘As for the individual tasks…’





Khadmus IV.

590 days after the Emperor’s death

There were risks and there were calculated risks; Essen could not say which one this was.

The Scout-Sergeant was lying on his back on a small rock plateau overlooking the rouge Mechanicus base. It would have been an easy thing for him to look over the edge of the cliff: just roll over and stretch your neck, and you have complete view of all the activities below you. He did not move, though. He was simply lying on his back, weighing his options.

He has, by most standards, finished scouting the whole area. He knew now that the enemy had skitarii forces, just as predicted, and he had also seen some metallic warriors like the ones the Fatemakers had been forced to fight just a week ago. By now, he also knew that his Captain was wrong to assume that this place was a mere pirate base or a military installation.

No, this base was a huge excavation site.

There was a huge hole in one of the rock formations n what seemed to be the centre of the base. All the buildings and installations have apparently been built around it, and the Sergeant’s expert eyes could not make out any reasonable function for any of the buildings but to support whatever works were undergoing inside the rock or to protect the hole itself. Essen remembered the warning of Magos Brakk: these were Necron-cultists, and they were apparently busy digging something big out of the ground. Essen did not like to think about what exactly they were looking for. He did not like it at all.


It was not an easy task to remain undetected so far: the tech-priests who controlled the pirate-ship may have been amateurs, but the land base was clearly designed by a military mind. It did not have walls around it, presumably because it was too large and there was not enough building material left for it, but there were numerous guard posts, visible and hidden checkpoints and the whole area was well equipped with various detectors and alarm systems.

It took the priesthood of the Opportunity all their concentrated effort and knowledge to equip him with the technology to dampen and mislead the enemy detectors. It would have been far easier to simply shut off the alarm systems, but the cultist tech-priests would have detected such a tampering later on, and Essen did not intend to alert them of the presence of the Astartes any more than necessary. The trick was twofold: the equipment Essen had been given essentially made him part of the infiltrated system, smoothing out any traitorous signal on the enemy detectors –sounds, movement, heat signatures – which may have given out the Sergeant’s presence to them. The other part was more mundane, but it also made Essen’s work more difficult: he could not bring any other technology with him but the dampening equipment. No electronic magnocular, no auspex, nothing imbued with even the smallest machine spirit. The Sergeant had to observe everything with his own eyes.

It seemed to have worked so far, for all the good it did to them. If they had a modicum of common sense, they must have started to scan the space around the planet as soon as their ship had arrived, beaten and half-broken from an unsuccessful raid. There was no way to mask the Opportunity’s emission from them, so the enemy must have known that the strike cruiser had arrived two days ago, and was now at high anchor on the other side of the planet.

The cultists did not bother to attack, and why should they? They were well-entrenched from a land-based attack, had enough infantry and a functioning airport, and they were almost completely safe from any space-based attack. Heretic Mechanicus cult or not, these people were just as paranoid as the Fatemakers themselves, and they were keen on overkill. Even from this position, the Sergeant only had to move his head a little bit to see the four closely packed orbital cannons built around the edge of the excavation hole. They were not the same size and class the Fatemakers had to crack open at New Novgarrod, but there were four of them, and any attack would have had to go through the whole camp to reach it. The Opportunity could simply not afford to fly over the base.

No, this would have to be land-based, which meant it would have to be bloody. By Essen’s estimation, t could have been done. Strike Force Four had the manpower to punch through the defences and then clean the base, but it would cost them dearly. Every single advantage his brothers could get in the oncoming battle would be most welcome.

Which was why he was still here, even though he had observed almost everything in the base. It was not easy to climb on this plateau unnoticed, but it would allow him to have a better look at that last annoying building. He had already concluded that it was just a walled area immediately next to the hole in the central rock. There was not much movement around it, and It could have been a simple storage facility, but Essen had to make sure.

The wall had a very big metal gate, and that sight made Essen very nervous.

Now he had to make a gamble. To see behind the walls, he would have been forced to peak over the edge, and his head would be visible to anyone who happened to be looking that way. He could move his head slow enough to mislead any possible motion detector, but there was nothing he could do with naked eyesight.

The Sergeant’s breath was slow and regular. There was no point in flooding his body with adrenalin at this point. As so often before, he now had to make a move and pray and hope that the odds would favour him, not the enemy.

It used to be a lot easier when there had been someone he could pray to.

Essen’s head moved slowly, millimetre by millimetre over the edge of the cliff. He was in no hurry, and he did not even bother to look until his eyes got into position. Then he looked.

He looked for ten full seconds. His eyes darted left and right, taking in all details of the compound. If there had been anyone scanning him now, they would have detected a significant acceleration in his heartbeat.





It took him almost a full day to arrive back to the extraction point. The Thunderhawk had to be hidden at a safe distance from the base: the plain was loud, and the enemy had very good ears. His scout unit was waiting for him.

He waved towards them without a word. He climbed into the passenger compartment and sat down. He was silent, his gaze suggesting his mind was occupied with something else.

Even the engines of the Thunderhawk seemed to be quieter as they launched. Essen was simply sitting on the bench when a shadow was cast on him. He looked up.

Nikomaus, his trusted fellow scout and perhaps even friend, sat down opposite him. The two were looking each other in silence.

Nikomaus gave up first. ‘Well?’ he asked.

Essen thought carefully about what he about to say. ‘It is going to be… more difficult to win this one than we imagined,’ he finally said.

Nikomaus looked at him with an expression that suggested amused confusion. Then he understood.

‘They have a Titan,’ he stated.

Essen looked back and grimaced.

Nikomaus sighed and leaned back against the metal wall.

‘Two Titans,’ he said.

Essen did not move.

Nicomaus straightened up.

‘Three Titans?’

Essen nodded.

‘Three Warhounds.’

Nikomaus scratched his head.

‘Well, they are the smallest ones,’ he pointed out eventually.

‘That they are,’ Essen agreed. ‘We have fought against Titans before.’

Nikomaus nodded. ‘I remember one such time,’ he said. ‘It was one Warhound. And it killed thirteen of us by the time we took it down.’

‘I was there,’ Essen answered. ‘It was a difficult fight.’

‘And now there are three of them.’

‘Three small ones.’

‘Three small ones.’

There was no need to say anything more. The two of them sat in uncertain silence as the Tunderhawk went on to deliver the report to the others.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 51)

Postby Midgard » Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:39 pm

Glad to see this story is still alive. Andorias has something up his sleeve, and I am not sure it is anything good. As always, another great update!
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