Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

For Warhammer fiction not strictly from either universe.

Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:40 am

Chapter 28-Crates

“Do try to keep up, Apprentice Adept,” Kullas said brusquely as he strode through the main doorway of Britannica Storage. “These lenses will not find themselves, you know.”

Portsmouth had once been Britain’s primary port for naval trade, back when it had been an empire, ships sailing from its docks to the Americas, India and the Far East; even when the British Empire had fallen into decline and become a thing reserved for the history books, Portsmouth had remained a centre for oceanic trade and naval power. That had not changed with the advent of space travel, and soon it had become the main customs port for all products coming in and out of the United Kingdom. And Britannica Storage, one of the largest warehouses on the planet, was where it was all kept, a complex measuring three square miles of crates, shelves and lifting equipment.

“According to the blueprints I consulted, there are two main blocks to this warehouse,” Kullas said. “We’ll split up and search through each of them.”

“Is that necessarily a good idea?” Tali asked as she looked around the empty atrium they had stepped into, a low ceilinged room with several vacant desks around the walls. “We can’t be sure if the enemy are all dealt with.”

“Titus had some marines run a sweep through here,” Kullas replied. “They found nothing and assured him it was quite safe. It’s just a pity that there are no records of exactly where these things are being kept; the last sets of data I can find on the crates suggests that they were being unloaded, and it is plausible that the workers fled before they could be sorted and stacked.”

“Alright,” Tali said. “Where do you want me?”

“The western side,” Kullas said. “I will cover the east. Be sure to keep in vox contact, Apprentice Adept.”

“I thought you said it was safe,” Tali said.

Quite safe,” Kullas replied. “Probability dictates at least some danger will be present at all times, not just from Reaper forces ambushing us; there could be falling shelves, unsound floors or ceilings or exposed electrical wiring.”

“Keelah Se’lai,” Tali muttered quietly, flicking an ear back beneath her suit in exasperation. “No, that’ll be fine. I’ll go start looking.”

“Very well,” Kullas said. “Omnissah Vult, Tali.”

He headed through the doorway that lead into the Eastern side of the Britannica Storage complex, while Tali headed to the West, flicking on her omnitool. So far, Kullas had recovered the serial code for the crates, but apparently they hadn’t been given a location. She would have to try and scan crates and work out where they might be from the codes she found.

Despite herself, the place unnerved her. It was empty, too empty, unmanned lifting machinery, pieces of litter and old paper scattered about the floor. Here and there were the occasional hole in the roof, a sign of combat, but the there was something about the abandoned detritus of people in flight that she found deeply unsettling. Unconsciously, her hand slunk to the handle of the staff.

She pressed a few buttons on her omnitool, scanning a crate for the chip built into it. The serial code was fed back into the device, and she shook her head. Nothing near the number she wanted. There was a pattern, she could see from a few other scans on some random crates, numbers and letters increasing the further down she went, but there was a long gap between those of the crates here and the ones she wanted; there must be millions of crates in the warehouse.

Tali pressed a few buttons, before the holographic avatar of Chiktikka Vas Paus flickered into being. She tapped commands into the drone via her omnitool, and it sped away, scanning for the crate she wanted.

She took another door than the one her drone did, heading into a separate warehouse. She glanced over to the scans that Chiktikka was sending her, seeing if it was getting closer, before crouching down next to another crate and scanning it herself. Not much closer than the drone was, at the moment.

She opened another door, and into the open air, entering a large courtyard occupied by four shuttle pads. A single hauler shuttle, half unloaded, lay on one of the pads, while part of the roof had been crushed by the fall of another, the metal around it blackened by now extinct flames.

She pressed open another door and stepped inside, searching onwards.

#

It had been waiting for approximately twenty four of this planet’s hours. Trapped by the fall of the ceiling, result of an airstrike from one of the harvest’s planes, it had been unable to move without considerable. A small group of harvest had passed through the place some time later, but they were not near enough to be targets; leaving its confines would have made far too much noise, alerted them, and their flight would have been too easy.

Now, its sensors detected movement. One it identified as Astartes, the semi-mechanical one, but fortunately for it it was on the far side of the complex, too far away to be a threat. The other, however, was smaller, more slight, one of the enviro-suit clad members of the harvest, and it was getting close to it.

It twitched a leg, a small runnel of rubble falling away from the limb, ready to move.

#

The room ahead of her was blocked by a small avalanche of debris, walls having collapsed in on themselves. Tali looked over it for a moment, before turning back the way she came.

There was a crumbling noise from behind her, and she glanced over her shoulder to see what it was. And it was then that she saw the metallic leg rising from the slope of rubble before.

She managed to curse; “Keelah se’lai!” before the Reaper stalk tank exploded out of the rubble.

She sped through the door, nearly skidding on the floor as she ran, stumbling slightly as she built up speed into a run. The wall behind her exploded as the stalk tank burst through, legs skittering on the floor, denting the metal as they found purchase.

Tali sped around a corner as the thing thundered after her, its mass scattering shelves and boxes. They began to tip overhead, crates sliding and falling from the ledges above her, and one thudded in front of her before she vaulted over it.

A mass of collapsed shelving between her and her ambusher, she took the nearest door. It led her into a corridor of some kind, walls lined with snaking pipes. The young Quarian was about to continue her desperate sprint before she noticed a warning notice along one pipe; “Coolant. Warning, risk of snap-freezing. Do not drill or puncture.”

Hastily, she snatched a grenade from her belt, swapped a few dials around and clamped it to the pipe, calling up Chiktikka Vas Paus as she broke into a run.

“Stay here boy,” she ordered the drone, rounding a corner and half-watching the video feed from it as she entered another room filled with shelves, trying to find another exit. On the video feed, she saw the stalk tank round the corner. It noticed Chiktikka and began to thunder towards it, and Tali pressed another button on her omnitool; the grenade attached to the pipe detonated, gouts of hyper-chilled coolant spraying across the machine, a thick layer of ice forming around it in moments.

Tali had bought herself a few precious seconds, and she did not intend to squander them, fleeing deeper into the complex in her bid to put as much space between herself and the stalk tank pursuing.

“Kullas,” she called into the vox. “Kullas, it’s Tali here. I’ve encountered an enemy stalk tank. I need your help, now.”

“Say again, Apprentice Adept?” Kullas grated from the other end of the line. “You have encountered a horse flank? What in the name of the Omnissah does that mean?”

“A stalk tank!” Tali said again, almost shouting now. There was a crashing noise as the machine in question tore down a wall and several units of shelving, free of its prison of ice. “I need help!”

“There is too much interference on the line, Apprentice Adept,” Kullas said. “I cannot comprehend what you are trying to say to me.”

Tali cursed, before simply cutting the connection. Talking would slow her down, and slowing down would kill her.

She turned through another door, into a landing zone; the same or different, she didn’t know, and didn’t particularly care. She hurried up the stairs to one of the pads, to an empty shuttle above, hurriedly trying to work past the security systems with her omnitool, muttering a machine prayer despite herself. There was a crash as the stalk tank slammed through the doorway she had took, before she gained access to its systems. She clambered out of the shuttle as it began to lift off, the stalk tank noticing the noise, before she cut the engines and let the vehicle drop.

Metal crunched as the shuttle slammed down, and Tali peered over the edge of the platform to see the machine knocked to one side, hull dented and battered, the wreckage of the shuttle a twisted mess lying a few metres away. She paused at the edge of the platform, unsure of whether it still lived, before one of its weapon arms swivelled upwards and it fired.

She gave a yell of surprise as the beam punched a smoking hole scant inches away from her, scrambling away from the machine as it staggered to its feet. It fired again, Tali already running. A leap carried her across the gap between two of the landing pads, before she called up Chiktikka Vas Paus, the pinkish-purple drone drawing the thing’s lethal beam fire while she hurried down a ladder. Through a door she went, while the stalk tank ripped her holographic drone from existence with a screaming shot from its beam weapons.

There was a shriek of bending metal as the thing crashed through the landing pads, implacable in its pursuit of her. The wall glowed red hot as it sliced through, before falling away with a stench of burnt metal, the stalk tank stepping through, scanning as it tried to find her.

It saw the Quarian on the far side of the room, hurriedly trying to bypass the locks on the door in front of her, and opened fire. She managed to throw herself flat as two wailing lances of crimson speared into the wall above her. One of them hit the door’s control console, melting it into nothing, and she cursed viciously as scrambled to her feet, once more sending out her drone to distract her enemy. She took a dead run towards the only other way out of that wasn’t blocked by the stalk tank, and whispered quiet thanks to whatever god was listening when she pressed the open button and is slid open.

She had entered some sort of processing room, conveyor belts snaking across its huge floor and cranes hanging overhead. She could probably drop something on the stalk tank, crush it, but first she needed to take out its barriers; that shuttle had battered them, but had not done enough to overwhelm them entirely.

She scrambled over a conveyor belt, breath becoming ragged and harsh in her throat, before she called out Chiktikka once more, ordering him towards the door. She needed time, and the stalk tank was not being generous in such a regard.

It smashed through the door, saw her drone and jabbed at it, the hologram flickering out of sight, before Tali sent a jolt of electricity into it from her omnitool in a bid to overload its shields. It did nothing but stun the machine for a split second, but it gave her enough time to duck behind a control console of some sort, out of its sight. She drew her halberd, and thumbed the activation stud, lightning crackling around its head. Muttering a prayer to the Ancestors, she levelled the blade, ducked round the corner of the console and charged.

It slammed through the thing’s kinetic barriers, slicing into its frontal hull before it came to a halt, jammed fast. The machine jolted, throwing Tali aside into a stack of crates, and she yelled in pain as she felt something crack.

Ignoring the agony screaming in her chest, she forced herself upwards as the machine drunkenly stumbled to face her. She began to half run, half limp as she tried to avoid its aim, breath harsh and ragged in her throat. The machine raised its weapon arms, Tali’s axe still embedded in its front, and tried to fire.

There was a slight spark from beneath its circuitry, but the weapons failed to do anything. A glance over Tali’s shoulder showed the stalk tank limping after her, stumbling clumsily, and she laughed bitterly despite the pain roaring in her midriff; the crippled chasing the crippled.

Clutching her side with one hand, she made it to the console she was aiming for; she had no idea what it did, but judging from the levers and buttons that studded its surface it would hopefully allow her to control the cranes and conveyor belts above her head.

Whoever had evacuated their station here had clearly been in too much of a hurry to log out, and it was the work of the moment to call up a holographic guide to the cranes above her head. Swiftly, she picked one of the many boxes overhead, a particularly hefty one, and her three fingered hands moved deftly across the control panel, guiding it overhead.

The stalk tank dragged itself further forwards, crashing clumsily through crates and conveyor belts, pushing itself closer with each step. It reached her as Tali bought the desired create just overhead, raising its now defunct weapon arms to smash her away from the console.

“Omnissah vult, Bosh’tet,” she muttered, before ordering the grav-crane to release.

It crashed down upon the machine, crushing its hull with its sheer weight, the armour collapsed in upon itself, sparking gently. One of its legs twitched spasmodically, ignorant or in denial of its destruction, but that was all the signs of life the stalk tank was displaying.

Tali gasped in pain as she slowly climbed down the steps, limping slightly as the adrenaline faded, hunched over to avoid the pain in her side. One handed, she gripped the handle of her cog-axe and pulled, other leg braced against the stalk tanks crushed hull, grunting as she tore it free. Then she noticed the label written on the side of the crate, and despite herself, she laughed.

It was a crate of glass lenses, measurement 2E.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Gaius Marius » Sat Jul 02, 2011 6:45 pm

Horse Flanks, the Reaper's deadliest weapon.
Space Cowboy, Spartan II, Specter, Reclusiarch

'I see the fear you have inside.'
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sun Jul 03, 2011 4:22 pm

Indeed. May the God Emperor have mercy upon us all should the Reapers choose to deploy them en-masse.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:30 pm

Chapter 29-Armament

“General Suvat,” Malleus said as the old Turian stepped off the landing craft. “It is good to see you again.”

The two shook hands, the Turian’s three talons dwarfed by Malleus’ immense gauntlet, before Malleus looked out over the small fleet of aircraft that were crossing the sea towards them.

“This is all of the Heirarchy’s forces?” he asked, quietly impressed. “How did you manage to get enough planes for this?”

“We had to commandeer civilian craft,” Deniel replied. “But there enough to get us all down in one go. I suppose it’s a good thing all the Krogans’ landers double as boarding craft, means they can launch all their ships in one go.”

“Aye,” Malleus said, as more ships began to touch down on the spaceport they were using as a landing zone, as well as the large fields around it. Overhead, fighter jets of various builds screamed, leaving trails of vapour in the skies as they circled, vigilant for any incoming air threat. “How long until they disembark?”

“All of them?” Deniel asked. “A few hours, at least.”

“Fast enough,” Malleus said. “I intend to cross the channel as swiftly we can, so we will most likely begin the landing as soon as our troops are able to embark the boats.”

“So this is the second Normandy, then?” Deniel asked with a slight smile.

“Hmm? No, I won’t just be landing there. We’ve got several major port towns, all along Britain’s coastline, and we’ll be launching multiple assaults along there,” Malleus said. “A large attack should give us the opportunity to establish beachheads at multiple locations, and press against the Reapers from there.”

Deniel nodded.

“Should work,” he said. “You got a map of this assault?”

Malleus nodded, gesturing for Deniel to follow. They entered one of the prefabricated command centres that lay clustered around the landing pad, Malleus having to duck as he entered the small metal building, before he walked to the console at the centre, entered a few commands via his omnitool and called up the map.

“The port towns we’re assaulting from are Hastings, Dover, Bournemouth and Portsmouth,” Malleus said, the highlighted towns flashing as he tapped them with his omni-tool. “We have three targets; Calais, Dunkirk and Normandy. The Heirarchy’s forces will be moving on Normandy, while the Asari and Krogan will be taking Dunkirk. The Alliance and myself will assault Calais.”

Deniel nodded, before pointing something out on the map.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“What’s what?”

“That, there,” Deniel said, reading the title of what he had highlighted. “The Channel Tunnel.”

He pressed a few buttons, zooming in on the object in question, before looking along the small road that seemed to run beneath the sea towards Calais.

“A tunnel?” Malleus asked. “Where does that put us?”

“Just a mile or so behind their lines,” Deniel said. “You could use that to flank the enemy.”

“Indeed,” Malleus said. “A small strike force behind their lines, that should be enough to weaken their defences, allow the Alliance to advance with less difficulty.”

“Your team?” the Turian asked.

“Most likely,” Malleus said. “They’re good at what they do.”

Malleus looked out at the landing field, before he said; “Where’s General Mehriss?”

“Coordinating the rear with Wrex,” Deniel said. “She should be here in a couple of hours.”

Malleus nodded.

“Will you need help with the landing?”

“I’ve got it covered,” the Turian replied, shaking his quilled head.

“Good,” Malleus said. “I have some business to deal with concerning Kullas. It’s a matter of great import to the war effort. It could aid us a great deal.”

Deniel’s beak and mandibles broke into a Turian’s equivalent of a smile, before he said; “If it’s any tech like your power armour, I won’t keep you.”

Malleus nodded his thanks to the Turian, before stepping off to where he knew Kullas’ workshop was. It was a short walk, one that brought him to the Alliance’s vehicle storage. Most of the tanks, jeeps and APCs that populated it had gone, already repaired, only the worst damaged ones remaining. Kullas was working on a Mako, a servo arm holding it aloft while the other arms of his servo harness worked on the inner workings of the vehicle, repairing the shattered steering mechanism that impeded the vehicle’s operation. Tali was next to him, using the axe Kullas had given her as a staff, her stance slightly hunched.

“Forge Priest,” Malleus called as he entered. “I hear you have good news for me.”

“Ah, Brother Captain,” Kullas said, looking up from his work. “I do indeed. We obtained the components I was searching for and I am pleased to announce that I have indeed finished constructing the prototype model of the lasrifle.”

We obtained them?” Tali asked. “You weren’t the one was chased by a stalk tank and had your ribs broken.”

“I suppose the lion’s share of the credit goes to you, Apprentice Adept,” Kullas said. “It was indeed you who found the lenses.”

“I had heard as much,” Malleus said. “Well done, Tali. How are your ribs doing?”

“I’ve been better,” Tali said. “Not to mention that I picked up something nasty after I had to come out of my suit to have my ribs treated. But I could be worse; that brace that the doctors hooked me up with means I can still walk, though I won’t be in any shape to fight for at least eight weeks.”

“I thought you might not be,” Malleus said. “I was considering transferring you to Asia to work on Yamzarat Machtoro after this; no offense, but you aren’t much use on the front.”

“None taken,” Tali said. “Besides, I’d like to see him again.”

“In any case,” Kullas said. “The lasrifle, perhaps?”

“Yes, let’s see it,” Malleus said.

The Forge priest gently lowered the APC to rest on its suspension, before gesturing for Malleus to follow. He went to his workbench, before picking it up and announcing; “Here we have it; the Mark 1 Lokarim-Zorah Pattern lasrifle.”

It was quite simply a block of metal, before Kullas thumbed an activation hologram glowing on its side and it unfolded, a sight springing from its back, pistol grip and holster extending and barrel sliding telescopically from the front, almost identical to an Imperial lasrifle.

“I took a few design cues from the weaponry of this galaxy,” Kullas said, before adding in High Gothic; “Blasphemous as it is, you must admit it is somewhat elegant.”

“Isn’t such a thing an affront to the Divine Template?” Malleus asked in the same tongue.

“That is a matter still up for debate by the Omniphilosophers,” Kullas said. “Besides, we stand idle while xenos fight alongside humans and even cooperate with them, and as far as I have come to understand this situation, we are already condemned as any of the traitor legions.”

“We are not those oathbreakers,” Malleus spat, glaring at the Forge Priest.

“I am aware, brother captain, and do not mistake me, I do not condemn your commands; I understand your reasons behind them,” Kullas replied. “But the fact is that we have reneged upon our duties to the Emperor and that does, technically, make us traitors. It is a strange thought. Besides, I have given up on us ever returning home; probability dictates that our arrival here was nigh-impossible and expecting to be able to come back to the Imperium is a false hope.”

Malleus shrugged.

“It is one way of putting it, I suppose,” he said. “I still fully intend to bring the Emperor to this benighted galaxy and purge it clean of xenos taint.”

“And I shall be behind you every step of the way,” Kullas said. “Though if I am entirely honest there are some xenos members of the team that I have become somewhat attached to.”

“Tali?”

“My personal opinions on such things are irrelevant,” Kullas said. “I know my duty and I will do it. Duty above all, I am aware, Brother Captain.”

Malleus nodded.

“I am still here,” Tali said. “Stop talking in another language, I hate it when you do that.”

“Alright, let me see this lasrifle,” Malleus said, taking the weapon as the Forge Priest handed it to him. He pushed it into his shoulder, sighting down its length, before squeezing the trigger and snapping a perfect hole into the opposite wall. There a series of loud curses from several of the Alliance engineers, and more than one emerged from their work holding pistols. Malleus chuckled.

“Stand down,” he said, lowering the rifle and raising a hand. “No need for alarm.”

“Accurate, and powerful,” he said, turning to Kullas. “Good.”

“I made it to the very best of my abilities,” Kullas said. “Our troops will need to be well armed, after all.”

Malleus nodded.

“I’ll order Miranda to try and arrange some meetings with various arms manufacturers,” he said. “See how quickly we can get them mass produced and distributed.”

“Indeed,” Kullas said. “I have a full set of blueprints and designs ready, including ones for longlas and laspistol variants. I have also begun work on adapting the mass-effect based designs to be incorporated into lascannons; I imagine they would be of particular use against the Reapers’ titan platforms.”

“You’ve outdone yourself once more, brother,” Malleus said, smiling warmly. “Once we have them in product the Reaper won’t stand a chance.”

“I hope not,” Kullas said. “Though if we do lose, I imagine that there would be almost zero probability of the Reapers being defeated by any later galactic species.”

“You think we’d lose this?”

“Having analysed probability, and accounted for the effect that these lasweapons will have on it, I believe that victory is currently more likely than not, unless the Reapers enact some ploy to catch us off guard. However, we still do not have one hundred percent certainty that we will emerge victorious.”

Tali shot him a somewhat despairing look from behind the Forge Priest, which Malleus returned for a moment.

“Well, whatever improves our chances,” the Brother Captain said. “Anyway, I’ll need to find Miranda, see what I can do about distribution.”

“Very well, brother captain,” Kullas said. “Ave Omnissah.”

“Imperator Vult,” Malleus replied, stepping away, flicking his vox on. “Operative Lawson, it’s Malleus here. Do you hear me?”

“I hear you Malleus,” Miranda replied. “I was just hoping to talk to you.”

“A fortunate coincidence,” Malleus said. “I was planning to do the same. Where are you?”

“Heading to the command centre,” Miranda said. “I got a message from the Illusive Man; he wants to speak to you and me, about something important.”

“He wouldn’t tell you?” Malleus asked, as he began to head towards the command centre.

“The command centre’s comm. channels are more secure than these. He said he’d tell us there.”

“Very well,” Malleus said. “I’ll see you in a moment, Miranda.”

He met the Cerberus Operative at the entrance to one of the command, the dark haired woman watching the landing craft of the Alliance’s xenos allies touch down. She nodded a greeting to the hulking Astartes as he approached, before stepping in.

“Log us in, would you?” she asked. “I don’t have the access. I’ll get us a line to him.”

Malleus leant over the projected keyboard, power armoured fingers tapping against the holographic letters as he keyed in his authorisation codes, before he nodded to Miranda. She leant forwards, typing in several more passcodes, before leaning to the microphone and saying in a clear voice; “Operative Miranda Lawson. Hotel oscar lima bravo oscar romeo November.”

For a moment, there was silence, before an image of the Illusive Man flickered into view on the holo-display.

“I see you two made it,” he said. “Good.”

Malleus nodded, before he said; “What do you need to talk to me about?”

“I have some good news for you,” the Illusive Man said, leaning back in his chair. “Our scientists have been continuing to work on the tech we’ve dug up from the Collector base, and they managed to develop something with the help of some blueprints sent by Kullas.”

“Is that so?” Malleus said. “What have you been working on?”

“See for yourself,” the Illusive Man said. “I believe they landed just a few minutes ago. Captain?”

“I hear you, sir,” another voice crackled across the radio.

“Make your presence known.”

“Understood, sir.”

The door behind them slid open for a moment, and for a second Malleus thought he saw an Astartes enter the room.

The similarities were superficial, he realised, the stature far too short and thin to be that of one of the Emperor’s angels. What had had him fooled was the armour the man wore; battleplate not dissimilar to power armour, heavy, bulky stuff, but more angular and with an overlarge gorget, greyish white in colour.

“Captain Franz Rathskeller, reporting for duty,” the man said, voice muffled by the speakers built into his helmet. “Ready to serve whenever and wherever you want us, Malleus Scandarum.”

Malleus nodded approvingly, before saying to the Illusive Man; “I’m impressed. Very much so. Captain, how many do you have at your command.”

“One hundred and twenty, sir,” Rathskeller replied smartly.

“I took the very best from Cerberus’ paramilitary cells,” the Illusive Man said. “Each one was selected for this mission personally, and the armour enhances their abilities further. Rathskeller is one of my best combat agents, after Miranda.”

“Really?” Malleus asked, glancing to Miranda. “Why wasn’t she put in charge, then?”

“She was busy with you on Earth,” the Illusive Man replied. “I wasn’t sure whether you needed her for anything or not.”

“A fair point,” Malleus said. “No, but I don’t, not at this moment. She is a skilled commander and cunning tactician, she’ll be in charge. Is there any possibility she can be outfitted with another suit?”

“That can be done,” Rathskeller said.

“Good,” Malleus said. “What exactly are these people capable of? You mentioned Kullas helped you, and this is obviously based off our power armour, so what can they do?”

“The suits have a direct neural link to the wearer,” the Illusive Man said. “They enhance strength, speed and endurance, provide detailed tactical data and have feeds of medigel and painkillers in case of injuries. As well as this, they offer protection that can’t be matched; we’re using reverse engineered shields and metals for the armour.”

The Brother Captain nodded.

“I approve,” he said. “In fact, I reckon I will have a use for them soon enough.”

“There is one last thing that remains to be dealt with,” the Illusive Man said. “I had them in mind as a strike force under your direct command; they’re not linked to the Alliance in any way, and I was hoping you might us them to accompany you into combat. And I thought it would only be appropriate for you to name them.”

“I already have the fine men and women of Thunder One for the role of bodyguards and combat companions,” Malleus said. “But as for their name, I can think of something. In the Imperium, there are an elite group of mortal soldiers I fought alongside more than once, men born on the world of Cadia and selected to act as their shock troops, outfitted in finely made armour and armed with some of the Imperium’s deadliest weapons, trained to be the best of the best, loyal, faithful, deadly and completely fearless.”

“We are those things, sir,” Rathskeller said. “We will fight to the death for humanity.”

Malleus smiled, nodding slowly.

“I approve,” he said. “I name you Kasrkin, vanguard of mankind.”

He turned to Miranda, before saying; “And you, of course, are to be their leader. Are you up to such a thing?”

She nodded.

“Good,” Malleus said, extending a hand, which she took and shook. “Congratulations, Lady Castellan Lawson.”
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:06 pm

Chapter 30-Not One Step

He was wet, cold, and unless he was very careful, Alliance Commissar Michael Hunter was going to lose his cap to the wind.

Skimming just a metre above the surface of the English Channel, the landing craft was but one of the swarm of craft that made up the Alliance spearhead against France. Flying low, below radar range, the spray kicked up by the vehicles was hellish, and his greatcoat and cap were saturated. He envied the soldiers with him, all of whom had sensibly elected to don their helmets and enjoy the sealed environments of their body armour, but for the sake of maintaining a heroic image it seemed that helmets weren’t part of a commissar’s uniform.

He removed his cap, holding it firm against the wind that whistled against it through the craft’s side door, itching the top of his shaved head, stubble and water forming a mix that irritated him immensely. He rubbed the tips of his armoured fingers against the top with a slight grimace of annoyance; the smoothed fingertips of his armour were nowhere near as good at scratching as nails were.

He placed the cap back on, watching as the holographic HUD built into its rim flicked down to feed him tactical data, shifting his Avenger assault rifle in his grip as he hunched onto the bench.

The readout showed only a few minutes to landing, and, holding onto his cap, he dared lean out of the edge of the dropship, squinting against the near-impenetrable haze of spray thrown up by its VTOL engines. He could see the lumpen silhouette of the French coastline rising from the waters ahead, a greyish beach and the silhouettes of buildings beyond them.

“We’re approaching the LZ,” he called back into the hold of the dropship. “Ready up.”

The soldiers behind him loaded weapons, activated kinetic barriers or muttered a quiet prayer, while the aircraft swept lower towards Calais.

Beams of coruscating red light sprang from the town as the dug in Reaper forces finally noticed the Alliance, punching through the shielding of gunships and landing craft and evaporating hulls. Flame roared from the craft as they span madly downwards, smashing into the sea in a welter of shrapnel and spray, casting the vehicles’ passengers into the embrace of the waters.

In return, the Alliance’s aircraft screamed overhead, bombers and their escorts, watched over by fighter-bomber planes. Ordnance was rained upon the city as they dropped their payloads, flames and explosions roaring across the city in great gouts of fire and dust. Smoke, thick, black and choking, rose to the sky, mixing with the grey cloud hanging overhead, while Reaper anti-air fire tore Alliance planes downwards even as the human craft rained death upon the foe.

Michael pulled his head back from the awesome spectacle of raw ordnance as a crimson beam arced dangerously close to his skull, spots of light dancing across his vision as his eyes tried to cope with the sudden brightness. He grabbed the support harness as the pilot swerved the craft away, the VTOL engines screaming as they powered it to the side.

Weaponry from the gunships escorting the transport craft opened fire, sending missiles and heavy duty cannon rounds streaking into the Reaper lines ahead, chewing up concrete and metal buildings and throwing up splashes of spray. Michael gave a yell of vicious delight as he saw a fusion-generator go up in a blue mushroom cloud, the explosion powerful enough to blast apart he faint figures of a Reaper squad next to it.

“That’s how we do it!” he shouted back to the soldiers behind him, and got a cheer in response. “We’re touching down in thirty seconds, be ready to give ‘em more!”

There was another cheer, a few soldiers raising fists in triumph, before he felt the gunship jolt and a beam of blindingly bright crimson sliced through the hull next to him, evaporating the soldiers in the seats further down.

The next thing he knew, the world was spinning, he was falling, tumbling out of the VTOL and to the water below.

He hit with bone shattering force.

And he was lucky. Had he hit the water head first, he would have died for certain, his neck snapped by the high velocity impact instantaneously. Instead, Michael’s boots had slammed into the water, his kinetic barriers taking the worst of it and reducing what could have been an ankle-shattering impact into something that merely jolted his feet and winded him.

He toppled into the water, flailing helplessly as he fought the urge to breathe in, trying to kick upwards. He was a fit young man, his time in the Alliance Marines consisting of a routine of obstacles courses, ten mile runs, gym sessions and training exercises, but the weight of his armour and his saturated greatcoat was pulling him down faster than he could cope. Desperately, he jabbed a button on the neck of his armour, before a rebreather mask flipped over his mouth, venting the water there before replacing it with a supply of air. Adrenaline-laced oxygen flooding his lungs and filling him with energy, Michael kicked upwards and pushed towards the surface. He surfaced next to his cap, which was bobbing gently up and down on the water, and grinned before he took it with one hand and placed it on his head; if there was ever any proof of prudence making its influence upon the world felt, it was that. The shore was only a hundred metres away, and despite the fact that weapons fire was strafing across the sand, many of the dropships that had tried to land were smoking ruins and the dead were already piled high across its front, he felt strangely optimistic as he struck out towards it. After all, compared to a legs-only five hundred metre swim in one of the Alliance’s swimming pools whilst holding two heavy bricks, doing just one hundred in mere body armour and a sodden greatcoat was child’s play.

His arrival became, once the battle was over, something of a legend amongst the Alliance forces.

From the sea he came, striding from the waters as if he had simply gone for a morning swim in ignorance of the firefight raging all around him, before he noticed where he may be needed; a squad of Alliance soldiers ducked behind the wreckage of a carrier. There were others taking shelter against the rounds strobing across the beach, the advance completely stalled, and he had a feeling it would be up to him to get it moving. He picked up his pace as fire came towards him, reaching the intended group of soldiers, hearing it patter against the wreckage around him.

“What’s the situation?” he asked immediately, disregarding any sort of military decorum; he didn’t have the time for it.

“We’re pinned down by an enemy machine gun nest,” the sergeant at their front replied over the noise of battle. “The squad’s rocket launcher was taken out, and they’ve got an anti-air emplacement in there meaning we can’t get gunship support. We’ve got no way of bringing it down.”

Michael shook his head.

“Yes you do,” he said. “That damn rocket launcher.”

“Commissar, sir, there’s no way we can get close to it,” the sergeant protested. “Anyone who does will be torn apart.”

“Grow a pair, sergeant,” Michael replied. “If you’re not getting it, I will. Where is it?”

“Over there,” the soldier replied, pointing towards a prone figure lying in bloodied sand, the bulky shape of the heavy weapon held in a limp hand.

“Alright then,” Michael said. “Let me show you who we do this.”

He began to run.

His heart was pounding in his chest, he felt light headed and part of him was terrified. He had no idea exactly why was doing this, and when he later thought back on it he would never be quite sure, but part of him remembered what was required of him as a commissar.

Your role will be a simple one; you will inspire.

Those were the words he remembered from that initial brief; inspire. Show courage Lead from the front.

You will inspire through fear and through heroism; you shall be first into the enemy’s guns, last out from evacuations zones, ask no quarter and allow no retreat.

Despite the fact that he was about to hurl himself headlong into enemy machine gun fire, Michael Hunter smiled. It was all so damn simple.

You will not be loved, but you will be respected, and revered as some of the greatest heroes that the Alliance shall know.

Indeed, when he thought about all that was required of him as an Alliance Commissar, it could all be narrowed down to three words.

Be a hero.

Michael Hunter ran into the teeth of their guns, and he realised it had been the easiest thing he had ever had to face up to doing.

He ran, even as the merciless fire of the machine guns tore at his feet. A round zipped past his ear, another ripping a hole in the flapping fabric of his greatcoat, before he reached the weapon. He stooped, slowing only a moment to grab the heavy weapon before hefting it into his shoulder and emptying its magazine into the enemy position up the beach even as he sidestepped away from their fire.

The guided missiles hit home, exploding in their midst, taking out the weapons in a spectacular blast of flame as the weaspons’ power cores exploded. Michael cast the heavy weapon aside, drew his pistol, his only weapon not lost in his fall from the dropship, and looked to the soldiers around him.

“Soldiers of the Alliance!” he yelled over the noise of battle. “We have our opening! CHARGE!”

He was the first in, charging up the sand, blood pounding in his veins as weapons fire from the Reaper soldiers dug in at the shorefront slammed around him. The soldiers trapped on that part of the beach charged with him, the threat of machine gun fire now gone, yelling curses as they sprinted towards the foe. Some were cut down by small arms fire, but the soldiers with them returned, mass driver rounds screaming back up. Much of it was inaccurate, aim thrown by pace they were going at, but its sheer volume meant the enemy were hit, the rounds wearing down kinetic barriers or punching through armour.

Michael remained unharmed, miraculously, reaching the city’s tidal defences and sprinting up the steps in the concrete wall that allowed him access to the rest of the city. A Reaper soldier standing at the top received an entire magazine from his pistol to its head, its point blank range enough to punch past its shielding, and Michael knocked it to the ground with a jab from his elbow. Hastily, he reloaded before his enemy could recover, firing point blank into its helmeted head, before flicking the radio on.

“Alliance Command, this is Commissar Michael Hunter,” Michael called into it. “I’ve succeeded in establishing a beachhead, and need reinforcements and gunship support so we can expand.”

“Understood, Commissar Hunter,” came the reply. “We’re sending birds your way.”

“Acknowledged, Command,” Michael said. “Commissar Hunter out.”

He cut the radio as a round slammed against his shields, pistol up and blazing at the offending enemy on instinct. The soldiers who had followed him shot with him, opening fire on the squad of Reaper infantry that had stepped out of the streets before them. The enemy’s own heavy duty rifles blazed, cutting soldiers down, and several Alliance Marines were about to run to cover before Michael roared; “Do not run! Not one step back! NOT ONE STEP BACK!”

Another shot hit his shields, even as his pistol blazed, and the soldiers around him stood firm as they gunned down the enemy that dared fire upon their commissar, overwhelming its shields and armour with their sheer volume of firepower.

More joined them, flooding up the steps, while above gunships swept in, volleys of missiles and chaingun fire tearing across the already wartorn city. The Reaper squad were overwhelmed by the number of soldiers they were facing against, fifty against ten, torn down in moments. Yet more soldiers of the Alliance hurried up the steps behind them, Alliance numbers swelling further, and Michael quickly barked out orders, sending Alliance soldiers to flank the enemy further along the shorefront, expand their beachhead and allow yet more of their men into the fight.

“The rest of you,” he said, slamming a fresh thermal clip into his pistol. “You’re with me. We’re going to war!”
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:34 am

Chapter 31-Hounds of Hades

The mag-lev train rattled as it thundered down the rails laid through the Channel Tunnel, noise amplified to a deafening thunder as it bounced off the concrete surrounding it. Wind howled at the occupants within, one hundred and twenty Kasrkin and their Lady Castellan, an elite team of individuals assembled through the combined efforts of Cerberus and Malleus Scandarum, and six angels.

Despite the fact that she had tied it in a bun to keep it out of her eyes during combat, the gale force winds caused by the train’s reckless speed had already ripped Miranda’s hair out of the elastic band holding it in place, and the way that it was whipping around her face was getting on her nerves. She held up a hand, looking at it as she flexed the gauntlet that guarded her fingers, inspecting the armour she wore. It felt strange, weighing heavily on her shoulders yet surprisingly light everywhere else, powered joints compensating for the eighty kilograms of alloys, servos, computer systems and kinetic barrier generators that was wrapped around her. Not to mention the neural interface wire sliding beneath the skin of the small of her back, where it plugged into her spinal cord, was beginning to get on her nerves.

“Still getting used to the armour, Lady Castellan?” Hullen asked from next to her. His immense assault cannon was half assembled, the marine calmly inspecting each barrel as he stood in the stripped down train carriage, oblivious to the jolting the wind was causing it.

“A bit,” she said. “Don’t quite know how to describe it.”

“Like a much heavier second skin,” Hullen replied. “That’s how I’ve always thought of it. Believe me, you should have seen me when I got my Black Carapace and this suit of armour.”

Miranda laughed slightly, before saying; “That armour’s a pretty important thing for you Astartes, isn’t it?”

Hullen nodded.

“Essential,” he answered. “An Astartes without his armour is like a Krogan without his strength; pretty much worthless.”

“Why not just take cover, then?”

“Pah, cover’s for lesser men,” Hullen grinned. “Astartes don’t hide, Miranda, we stride.”

“And what about guns big enough to go through your armour, then?”

“Then cover’s useless anyway!”

Miranda laughed and shook her head.

“I get the feeling you’re looking forward to this fight,” she said.

“Of course I am,” Hullen replied. Once again that infectious grin was on his face, but there was a somewhat bloodthirsty edge to it. “It’s what I was made for. Where I belong. Everything is nice and simple there; I have my allies, and I have my enemies. I keep one lot alive, and tear the rest of them apart.”

“One way of putting it, certainly,” Miranda said.

The vox bead crackled into life, before Malleus’ voice came down it; “Thirty seconds until we emerge. Make ready.”

“Understood,” Miranda called in, while the sergeants of the Kasrkin, the Astartes and the rest of the team also acknowledged.

Hullen slid the multiple barrels of his assault cannon onto the rest of the weapon, locking them in place before spinning them round to check they were working, muttering a prayer to the machine spirit. Faint sunlight could be seen on concrete walls as the train closed on the exit, and Hullen stepped towards one of the firepoints on the side of the stripped down, hastily armoured train carriages that was carrying them through the channel tunnel, flicking a button and sending the barrels of his weapon spinning into life, ready to fire the moment they emerged. Miranda hastily bunching her hair back up again, and slid her helmet on, pneumatic seals forming an independent atmosphere with a hiss.

The train continued to speed forward as it emerged from the open air, changing tracks under Kullas’ guidance. It thundered forwards while the Kasrkin and the rest of the team took up fire positions in the hastily armoured carriages, scanning for danger as the train rose up the gentle slope that led into the tunnel. Up it went, breaking into the outskirts of the city, low-built suburban buildings that the train sped past as it did. From the rear carriages, there was the sound of servos whining as the heavy armour they had brought with them powered up, the Dreadnought sized Atlas mechs that Cerberus had constructed.

“We’re not going to have much time,” Hullen remarked from next to Miranda as she drew her rifle, readying her biotics.

“You think we’ll get noticed?” she asked.

Hullen laughed.

“We’re going through an enemy occupied city on a speeding mag-lev,” he replied. “I give us a few more minutes before the noise starts, at most.”

“Good point.”

The train slid to a halt as it entered the centre of the city, the magnets keeping it suspended above the tracks deactivating slowly and lowering it to the ground. Already, some of the Kasrkin were disembarking, covering each other as they advanced up the steps of the trench, and Miranda flicked the radio bead in her armour on; “Kasrkin, move ahead and secure the streets around us; we need the Atlases to be able to disembark safely. Captain Rathskeller, I want you in the lead.”

“Understood, Lady Castellan,” came the reply. “Moving out.”

“Where do you want me and my people, Lady Castellan?” Malleus asked across the radio.

“What?”

“You hold command of the Kasrkin,” Malleus said. “And we’re working in concert with you. I would have thought you might have a few ideas of what to do with us.”

“I thought I was going to be moving with you,” Miranda replied.

“Of course you wouldn’t be,” Malleus replied. “You’re in command of the Kasrkin now, it would hardly be practical for you to also serve in my team.”

“True,” Miranda said slowly. “I suppose…I suppose I’m just used to working with the rest of you, that’s all.”

“I’m afraid those days are gone,” Malleus said. “Now, your orders?”

“Have Kullas and Legion listen in on Alliance communications get us positions of enemy strength from those,” Miranda said.

“What’s to stop us from just asking them?” Malleus said.

“They’ll be too confused,” Miranda said. “Besides, those two can think at the speed of light.”

“Good thinking, Lady Castellan,” Malleus said. “Come, let us disembark. Hullen, keep an eye on her. You’re on bodyguard duty for the moment.”

“Understood,” Hullen said. “Come then, Lady Castellan, let’s go and see what the Reapers have in store for us.”

As they climbed out, Hullen suddenly asked; “Is there something wrong?”

“I just feels strange, suddenly no longer being part of Malleus’ little group,” Miranda said. “Part of me expected to be with them until the end of the war. Strange to think that I might never end up going back to the Normandy.”

“That’s life, I suppose,” Hullen said, scanning the deserted street before them. “We’re clear, Brother Captain.”

“I am aware,” came a deep voice behind him. The two glanced round to see Malleus behind them, one hand resting on the pommel of his blade. He nodded back to a further exit. “Lady Castellan, what’s the status on the Kasrkin?”

“Give me a minute,” Miranda said. “Captain Rathskeller, report in.”

“The streets are empty, Lady Castellan,” Rathskeller replied across the radio. “Your orders?”

“Acknowledged, hold position,” Miranda said. “Atlas crews, you’re clear to disembark, understood? Good. Kullas, Legion, have you got any contact reports for me? Excellent. Send them to my omni-tool; I’ll get us a location.”

Behind the back of the Lady Castellan, the Astartes exchanged an approving nod.

“She’s doing well,” Titus remarked across the vox in Gothic.

“Indeed,” Kullas said. “Your faith in her command abilities were not misplaced.”

“The Illusive Man had confidence in her,” Malleus replied. “I trust his judgement.”

“That’s nice to hear,” Miranda said. “Before you ask, I know your channels and I’ve had a translator program work out your language. People switching to another language to talk in private always annoyed me.”

Malleus gave a bark of laughter, before saying; “Very well, Lady Castellan; we shall not mutter darkly behind your back again.”

“Good,” Miranda said. She flicked up a map on her omni-tool, before she said; “We’ve got a Commissar leading the push on eastern side of the port, and they seem to have established a strong beachhead, but Alliance forces are snarled up by defences on the harbour’s west. We move up on the Boulevard De Général De Gaulle, and we can cut into their rear, destroy the defences.”

“A good plan,” Malleus said, nodding.

“All callsigns, on me,” Miranda ordered. “Atlas Squadron, I want you at our fore. Alpha through to Delta, watch our flanks, Alpha and Bravo on our right, Charlie and Delta on the left. Eagle Section, you’re rearguard. Captain Rathskeller, I want you with them. Malleus, you and your people are our centre, understood?”

“We’ll hold it,” Malleus said. “Jack, Samara, Cyralius, move among the Kasrkin, provide biotic and psychic support. Kullas, I want you with the Atlases, be ready to repair them if necessary.”

Acknowledgements came through the radio as the Kasrkin moved to their positions, the five heavy Atlas mechs at the front. They were a small group, only at company strength, but they would tip the balance in the Alliance’s favour, providing the Illusive Man’s promises were true.

Their progress was swift, moving down one of the main roads of the city as they scanned for danger, the rifles of the Cerberus troopers scanning ahead along with the rocket launchers and machine guns of the heavily armoured Atlas walkers. The buildings they were moving through were empty, the enemy seeming to focus all their attention on the Alliance forces pressing against the beach. Good, they could work with that.

They encountered their first resistance across the a bridge over the Canal De Calais, open ground that lead to the final few city blocks before the shorefront. Here, the buildings had been hastily demolished, replaced by prefabricated bunkers and weapon emplacements facing out to sea.

The Atlas mechs were the first to fire, a barrage of missiles and heavy machine gun rounds blazing across the canal, scattering enemy troopers while the rest of the Kasrkin moved up to fight. Malleus could not help but applaud their discipline; instead of them all rushing to the firefight, they stayed their hand for Miranda’s orders, the Lady Castellan ordering the teams on the right to engage, before ordering Charlie and Delta squads to flank round the Atlases. Eagle Squad missed the lion’s share of combat, their role as a rearguard unchanged as they took cover.

“Malleus, I want you and your team to move towards them and hit them in the flank,” Miranda ordered from her place behind the cover of the Atlas Mechs. “Get them up close, that’s where you work best.”

Next to her, one of the Kasrkin fell, enemy fire overwhelming his kinetic barriers and punching through the shoulder joint of his armour. Almost immediately the soldier next grabbed the man by the shoulders and dragged him out of harm’s way as his comrades covered him, propping him up behind a pile of rubble before calling a medic. Even as the soldier covered his brother in arms with rifle fire, she overheard them talking, the healthy keeping the injured lucid and from falling into shock or unconciousness.

One of the Reapers’ beam weapons fired, a crimson lance that scored across the air and into one of the Atlas mechs. The heavy duty shields around it flickered as the beam of mass-accelerator driven liquefied metal slammed into them, but whatever fell Reaper technology that powered the weapon was not quite enough; facing their own technology, reverse engineered by the brightest minds Cerberus had at its disposal, the shields were enough to disperse it before it could hit its thick armour. The return shot was a missile, the offending foe blasted apart by the anti tank weapon while the Atlas’ machine gun stitched a line of rounds along the street. There was a humming noise as its shields powered up once more, the massive machine’s weaponry still blazing regardless of the damage it had taken.

There was the sound of a roared prayer, and from the enemy’s right flank Malleus and his team emerged. Even as Miranda ordered the Kasrkin to shift fire, to avoid any friendly fire incidents, she watched them in action, and realised just how deadly a unit they had been.

They moved in perfect concert, fighting together and exploiting one another’s skills under Malleus’ command, even though they most likely instinctively knew where to be. At the rear, Garrus, Legion and Hullen hung back, providing suppressive fire with sniper rifle and assault cannon. In the centre, Zaeed, Mordin, Jack, Cyralius and Samara supported with biotics, advanced tech attacks, psychic might or just good old rifle fire, and at the front were Grunt and the Astartes.

From Miranda’s position, they were an awe-inspiring sight. Okeen fought in silence, the chainblade of his narthecium shrieking and screaming in fury as the apothecary punched and slashed his way through the foe. Alongside him, Kullas was a blur of whirling limbs as his servo harness punched and grappled foe, its reach covering those foes that his brothers could not get to so easily. Titus was a lethal whirlwind of violence, shotgun barking while the bayonet mounted on the weapon slashed and stabbed, while he ordered Urz onto any foe that escaped the deadly attentions of his blade. And at the front was Malleus.

He moved like lightning, hammer and blade whirling around him as he shredded the foe in a welter of shattered machinery and ruined armour. He bellowed prayers as he fought, benedictions to his Emperor that asked for His approval of Malleus’ acts of pure, unadulterated carnage, purity seals fluttering with each movement. He was utterly unstoppable, tearing through the enemy as his weapons span in his hands, thunder hammer and power blade smiting them like divine judgement from some barbaric god.

It was the most terrifying thing Miranda had ever seen.

In less than a minute, the enemy had been torn apart, the sheer lethal power of Malleus’ team enough to tear the enemy asunder. Swiftly, they moved to defensive positions, before across the radio Miranda heard; “You’re safe to move up, Lady Kasrkin. Do so swiftly, our ingress has been noted.”

Already, enemy weapons fire was zipping towards them, even as Samara threw up a biotic field to halt the worst of the rounds, Justicar’s face a frown of concentration.

“Kasrkin, move up,” Miranda ordered. “Give them support, and destroy those bunkers.”

The Kasrkin moved, peeling around each other as they advanced up the shorefront. From the bunkers, more Reaper troops were moving, even as weapons fire from the Atlas squadron, the Kasrkin and Malleus’ team hit them.

“We’ve got enemy stalk tanks incoming!” Malleus warned. “Get the Atlases over here, there’s only so much Hullen’s melta can do.”

“Understood,” Miranda said. “Atlas Squadron, we’ve got enemy armour incoming on Malleus’ position, stalk tanks. Use the anti armour contingencies.”

“Understood, Lady Castellan,” the leader of Atlas Squadron said, a hint of Irish accent on his voice. “You want us over there quick, like?”

“Agreed,” Miranda said. “Give them hell.”

From the armoured backs of the Atlas Mechs, whining engines emerged, while Mass Effect field generators built into the great machines activated, reducing the twenty-ton mass of the vehicles to nothing more than a few hundredweights. From each ‘hand’ of the mechs, a massive falchion slid, forged of metallic alloys that had not yet been named, before power fields, designs provided by Kullas, activated and wreathed them in crackling energy. With a wailing scream, the engines ignited and sent the five walkers skywards.

From their position in the midst of combat with the Reaper forces, Malleus remarked; “God Emperor on Terra, Kullas, you really could have let me know that you were helping work on these. I could have really used them in London.”

“They were still a work in progress at that point,” Kullas replied as his plasma cutter and flamer blazed. “Besides, I thought you would appreciate the surprise.”

As a stalk tank rounded a corner to face them, the lead pilot of Atlas Squadron, a Frank Lynch, crashed down in front of it, raised the falchions of his vehicle and stabbed. It crashed through the shields, sliced past armour and into the innards of the vehicle, before he tore them free and hacked down once more. Next to him, the rest of the Atlas Squadron landed. One laid into the Reaper soldiers that it had landed amongst with its great Falchions, scattering them like ninepins, while another switched to its ranged weapons, providing heavy fire support for Malleus’ team and its fellows. The final assaulted the rear of the bunkers, tearing them open like tin cans, smashing the heavy weapon emplacements that had kept the Alliance soldiers pinned in place. Seeing their opening, they rushed from the wreckage and craters they had been forced to take shelter in, storming ahead now that the bunkers had been cleared with extreme prejudice.

Along the Reapers’ rear, the Kasrkin came, lethally efficient discipline along with mechanically enhance combat skills making them a near unstoppable. They advanced as one cohesive unit, squads covering each other’s movement and allowing them to proceed with a constant barrage of suppressive fire. Malleus could not help but nod his approval; these soldiers were easily on par with the Emperor’s Finest.

He hefted his weapons into the air raising them high, before roaring out; “SOLDIERS OF THE ALLIANCE! WITH ME!”

Even as Reaper reinforcements began to press against them, the Alliance charged. They had a town to win.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Gaius Marius » Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:14 am

So its like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSJ8rDlBZ_I

But with Astartes, biotics and Reapers?
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:23 am

Gaius Marius wrote:So its like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSJ8rDlBZ_I

But with Astartes, biotics and Reapers?

You forgot the Atlas Mechs. ;)
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:19 am

Two updates in as many days...

I. Am. A machine!

Edit: Wait, no I'm not. Damn time zones


Chapter 32-Promise

The landing shuttle touched down on the concrete landing strip with a gentle thud, engines whining as they powered down. With a hiss the, the door of the automated craft opened and, a bag with her belongings in it over her good shoulder, Tali stepped out, leaning on her halberd for support. She began to walk, slowly making her way across the tarmac of the Geth controlled spaceport, before a voice behind her called out; “Hey, Tali!”

She turned, before saying; “Andrew!”

The engineer grabbed her in a hug, before Tali gave a cry of pain.

“Oh god, yeah, the ribs. Crap, sorry,” he winced. “Should’ve thought.”

“It’s fine,” Tali said, rubbing her side gingerly. “Don’t worry, I’ll be alright.”

“Uh, OK,” Andrew said. “You want me to take your bag?”

“Yes please,” Tali replied, slinging it off her shoulder. “Thanks.”

“Not a problem,” Andy said, swinging it onto his own. “Nice axe, by the way.”

Tali chuckled quietly.

“Thanks.”

“C’mon, let me show you where Yamzarat Machtoro is,” Andrew said as they set off again. “You’ve got to see some of the stuff he has inside that armour of his. It’s amazing.”

“Really?” Tali asked, the bottom of her halberd clacking against the tarmac as she walked. “What sort of things?”

“Oh man, I don’t know where to start,” Andrew said. “Like, you know how, if people had to make AIs, proper ones, not the stuff that controls LOKI mechs and the rest, the circuitry and stuff needed to store them would be about the size of a big room?”

Tali nodded. EDI’s AI core wasn’t one of the Normandy’s biggest rooms, but the server stacks needed to store her programming went all the way into the Normandy’s hull, below engineering, even. Part of her wondered what the Normandy was doing; she missed that ship.

“He doesn’t have that,” Andrew said. “He’s got some quantum looping or layering system or something, something way ahead of our time, and you know how big it is?”

“Surprise me,” Tali replied.

“Smaller than this bag,” Andrew answered triumphantly. “Size of my forearm, in fact. That small.”

“Wow,” Tali said. “You serious?”

“Dead serious,” Andrew said. “Honestly, that’s not all; his engines, his generators, everything about him is unique. It’s amazing.”

“I want to see this,” Tali said. “It sounds pretty interesting.”

“Really interesting,” Andrew said. “Believe me, working on him beats fixing Sommes any day. Not to mention that you generally can’t hold a conversation with an Alliance tank.”

Tali laughed quietly, before she said; “Thanks for coming to pick me up, by the way.”

“Hey, not a problem,” Andrew said. “Though I wasn’t sure whether I should; I thought a lone Quarian like yourself would probably feel completely at ease in the middle of an army of Geth.”

“Oh yeah, I would’ve felt absolutely fine,” she said as they left the landing strip and into the buildings of the rest of the space terminal. A Colossus stalked past them, along with a squad of troopers, and the machines nodded a greeting to them as they passed. Andrew waved back, and Tali returned the greeting to them slightly awkwardly.

“What are the Geth like?” she asked quietly.

“They’re not bad,” Andrew replied. “They’re a bit, I don’t know, robotic, a bad word to use, I know, but they’re nice enough. Very polite, or at least the ones that can speak are.”

“I see,” Tali said.

“Look, if you’re worried about the whole Morning War thing, don’t be,” Andy said. “I was talking to them, and they don’t mind you being here.”

“Really?” Tali asked “What gave you that idea?”

“They said it,” Andrew answered. “You know, explicitly said it. Besides, if they tried anything then Yamzarat Machtoro would rip them apart in a second.”

“A strange thing to think,” Tali said. “I’m used to them being enemies.”

Andrew shrugged, before he said; “Anyway, we’re here. The repair workshop of Yamzarat Machtoro.”

He gestured towards the tall, huge hangar that they had arrived at, its massive doors open away from them. Tali followed as he walked round them, before he was greeted by a great, booming voice saying; “Andrew! Greetings!”

“Hey, Yamzarat Machtoro,” Andrew said. “Guess who I’ve got with me.”

“Little Quarian,” the god machine rumbled warmly as Tali stepped round the hangar door. “It is good to see you again.”

She had seen him before, but even so, he was an awe inspiring sight. Scaffold clung to his massive form, and it seemed like a chunk of his chest armour had been ripped away, the piping and circuitry beneath it exposed to open air.

“Hello Yamzarat Machtoro,” Tali said as she stepped into the hangar, smiling beneath her helmet. “How are you?”

“Hah! I have been better, Little Quarian,” Yamzarat Machtoro replied. “But I survive.”

“You want me to drop your stuff off, then we can have a bit of a tour,” Andrew said. “Seriously, you’ll want to see this.”

“Alright, show me,” Tali said.

Andrew slung her bag under a workbench where various tools were held, telling another of the engineers working on Yamzarat Machtoro to keep an eye on it, before climbing up a set of rungs that had slid from the armour of his foot and gesturing for Tali to follow. Carefully, she climbed with him, stowing her axe on her back. There was a slice of pain in her ribs, but she gritted her teeth, before she got to the top, leaning against the edge of the doorway that allowed her in before saying; “Sorry. My ribs. Going to have to take this slowly.”

“Not to worry, Little Quarian,” Yamzarat Machtoro said, his voice crackling over speakers inside the corridor they were in. “My original crew had means of transport far superior to mere ladders.”

Something invisible grabbed her, gently pulling her off the floor to leave her hovering uncertainly in midair. Andy floated next to her, grinning, before he said; “Come on, Yamzarat Machtoro, let’s show her around.”

She could only compare the sense of wonderment she felt whilst looking around Yamzarat Machtoro’s inner working to the sort of feeling she had when she had first explored the Normandy SR1. At it’s time, the frigate had been the most advanced ship in Alliance space, years ahead of its time, and she should not help but marvel at the ingenuity of the sheer ingenuity and advanced nature of it design, something years ahead of its time. But Yamzarat Machtoro was advanced further still, a machine at least a century ahead of anything the Council races or the Geth could achieve.

As she floated through the corridors, she should not help but marvel at the machinery before her; reactors that fused Element Zero instead of merely breaking it down using fission for power (how did you fuse a heavy metal? She would have to find out more about that), the magnetic mechanisms behind his railgun that allowed the heavy slugs they fired to be fired at speeds far in excess of a solid slug shot whilst still retaining all of its lethal stopping power. The kinetic barrier generators that, even with several still burnt out and under repair, exploited the frequency based ‘flickering’ effect of the barriers to make them even more stronger and efficient through the use of positive interference. Everything about him simply took her breath away. How she longed to meet with one of the Askriit; there was no knowing what she could have learned from them.

Finally, Yamzarat Machtoro took them to his bridge, releasing his gravitic hold upon them to let them come to a gentle rest on the floor of the large room. Two triangular panels of glass were set at the far end of the white painted room, the windows that served as Yamzarat Machtoro’s eyes, while computer consoles and screens lined the room and stood at the centre of the floor. At the very centre of the room was a raised chair, next to what looked to be various holo-projectors; if Tali were to guess, she would say that they sent the image directly in front of the chair. Carefully, she ran a hand along the arm of it, metal running against metal, before Yamzarat Machtoro said; “That was the direction throne of Lady Ivris Talmin. She had the honour of being my commander from my creation. The console by her chair there was the primary maintenance console of Lord Mechanist Akmon Ilmar; his lineage was instrumental in my construction.”

“His family helped create you?” Tali asked.


“Indeed,” Yamzarat Machtoro said. “I believe you would have liked him, Little Quarian; he was greatly talented and skilled man, and of excellent character. In fact, they both contributed DNA to the Descendant Project; I would not be surprised to discover that you share some genetic material with them.”

“And now she’s here to help you fix you up,” Andrew remarked. “That would be a funny little coincidence.”

“Indeed,” Yamzarat Machtoro rumbled. “Andrew, I have meant to ask; how much longer until the repairs are finished?”

“Another day or so,” Andrew replied. “After that, we’re good.”

“Excellent!” Yamzarat Machtoro roared.

“You sound pleased about that,” Tali said.

“Indeed,” the god machine replied. “For glorious combat awaits us once the repairs are finished.”

“You’re probably not going to look forward to this next part,” Andrew murmured from next to her.

“Tomorrow, little Quarian,” Yamzarat Machtoro continued, oblivious to Andrew’s quiet comment. “Tomorrow, as soon as I am readied, we march upon Beijing!”

#

He was weeping blood near constantly now.

His head pounded, a throbbing drumbeat that was timed with each pulse of his heart. Had been too much, that much he knew. He had pushed it too far, and now he was paying for it. He should have been more careful, been more considerate of his actions, but Malleus had needed his skills; the Reapers had no defence against Warpcraft, and he was too lethal an asset to simply leave behind. But he knew he should not have pushed it so far.

He found his way to Calais’ beachfront, moving through jubilatory soldiers of the Alliance like a wraith, using his force staff as a support, ashen faced with rivulets of crimson running down each cheek. Soldiers called to him, as they had over the last few days, words of support or congratulation or asking for some sort of blessing, but they saw the blood leaking from his eyes and shied away. Nothing new there; the normal soldiery of the Imperium were delighted to see an Astartes, but as soon as they learned he was a psyker they became wary of him.

Carefully, he sat down on the concrete tidal defences by the beach, looking out towards the sea. It was a grey day, smoke making the overcast sky yet more monochrome, and the waves mirrored it, providing an uninspiring vista for the Alliance’s transport boats to land their vehicles. He placed his staff down next to him, the length of adamantium and gold leaf resting on the concrete next to him. He placed a hand down next to it, before bringing it up a moment later with a cracking noise, a rime of psyfrost forming around the ceramite armour of his gauntlet.

Sommes and Makos rumbled over the greyish sands, moving up the ramps of tumbled rubble that had been made for them by Alliance engineers and into the streets of the city beyond, crews directed by various commanders and their subordinates. He could see faint dots of Alliance planes touching down on the landing strips of the Port D’Espace De Calais, and absent mindedly he tuned through the channels of his vox bead using his Black Carapace, listening to them coordinate the grounding of the planes to prepare them for reloading, refuelling and essential maintenance.

He felt tired. Not just the muscle fatigue that even his superhuman form experienced after prolonged combat, and by the Emperor the Reapers had made the Alliance fight hard for Calais, but this something else, a deep ache that gnawed at his very being. It weighed upon his eyelids and dragged at his mind, leaving him feeling sluggish and apathetic. He had only felt this weary a few times, after particularly long combats; the holding of Althen’s Gap against the traitors of the Herexian VII, the retaking of Alsin’s Hive Secundus from the Orks; the feeling of having worked long and hard. But in comparison to those battles, Calais had been easy. Yes, if the tears of crimson had not been enough of a clue that something was amiss, then this certainly was.

He took a deep breath, closing his eyes and opening his mind. Gently, he allowed his consciousness to expand outside the confines of his skull, slowly spreading across the world around him as he touched the minds of those around him. He felt everything around him, from the simple minds of the vermin that nested in the ruined building behind him to the complex web of worries and thoughts of the soldiers around him, even miniscule, barely detectable pseuodopsyches of the trillions of bacteria that lived on the stone, shore and pavement. He focussed, drawing back to himself to the centre, a blaze of mental power given to him by his unique abilities, skimming hundreds of tiny tidbits of psychic strength, too small to do any harm, off the top of the minds around him and drawing them into himself. It was a form of meditation unique to those with empathic abilities, but it helped focus his mind, restore his power and revitalise him just a little. But even that bought spikes of pain now. And he could feel something else as well, another mind more unique, one that he could pick out from a crowd of billions; not the diamond focus and fortitude of his brothers’ minds, but instead a small, chaotic hurricane that whirled around itself in a storm of uncertainty, fear and barely controlled reactive anger. Jack.

At the very least, she was calmer than when he first met him.

“Cyril, I’ve been looking all over for you,” he heard her say behind him. She pulled herself onto the concrete beside you, before saying; “Malleus couldn’t get you on the radio, so he sent me to find you.”

“Did he?” Cyril asked, a slightly absent tone to his voice. “Oh. I don’t think I had it on the right frequency.”

“OK,” Jack said. “C’mon he’s waiting for you…”

She trailed off as she saw the runnels of crimson down each of his eyes.

“Holy shit, Cyril,” she murmured. “What is that?”

“I’m unsure,” Cyralius replied. “It simply started happening after the battle.”

“Your headache thing, isn’t it?” Jack asked. “What’s wrong, Cyril?”

“I have no idea,” Cyralius replied. “I wish I knew, but I just don’t.”

He chuckled bitterly.

“Normally I enjoy a good riddle,” he said.

Jack was silent for a moment, a look of worry on her face, before she said; “Shit. Have you told Malleus about this yet?”

“Not yet,” Cyralius said. “I fear that the good Brother Captain has more than enough servitors in his training cage at the moment without me adding to them.”

“What?”

“A saying of ours,” Cyralius said. “Never mind.”

“What the hell is it?” Jack muttered angrily. “Look, maybe just, I don’t know, lay off your powers for a bit. Let them cool off. Maybe that’ll help.”

“Perhaps,” Cyralius replied. “Though I fear what may come to be as a result of this.

“I thought you people weren’t afraid of anything,” Jack said, with a slight smile despite herself. “I remember that, in your little speech when you first came aboard the Normandy. Back when you were the only one able to speak English.”

“We’re not above concern or wariness,” Cyralius replied. “We’re brave, not blind fools. But, in all seriousness, I fear what may happen to me. To the rest of you more so.”

“What do you mean?” Jack askd.

“Psykers are unstable, far more unstable than Biotics,” Cyralius said. “You know that, I’ve told you. I don’t know what this is, but whatever it is, what could happen to me may be dangerous. Very dangerous indeed.”

“What sort of thing, Cyril?” Jack asked.

“You may be forced to kill me, Jack. God Emperor, I wish I did not have to say such a thing to you, but it is true,” Cyralius said. “If I become…unstable then, believe me when I say that you will all be in great danger. I need you to promise me that, whatever happens, should I become dangerous, you will be able to kill me before I cause too much damage.”

“Cyril, I can’t-”

“Jack, please listen to me. If what I fear will come to pass does so then it will not be me you are killing. I will already be dead. It will be something else, wearing my body, wreaking destruction and devastation using my powers, but it will not be me. For your own safety, Jack, I will need you to put me down before it is too late.”

“Please, Cyril, don’t say that,” Jack murmured. There was a dampness in her eyes. “There must be something you can do.”

“I pray there is, Jack, but should the worst come to pass I need you to do this,” Cyralius said. “Please; I don’t say this to hurt you, I say this because I want you to be safe. God Emperor upon Terra, Jack, I don’t want you harmed. I would slay the Dark Gods themselves if it meant that you would be ekpt safe, but if what I fear will happen then you will be in terrible danger. I need you to do this, not just for you but for me as well.”

Jack took a breath, tears running down her cheeks, trying to wipe them away them with a hand.

“Shit, Cyril,” she managed to say, wiping them away with an arm. “I don’t…I don’t… fuck!”

Gently, Cyril took her in his arms and held her close, Jack reaching over his shoulders and squeezing against him. He could feel the hot wetness of her tears against his neck, even as he held her close.

“Cyril, please don’t do this to me,” she murmured. “I can’t lose you. I need you, Cyril. You…you looked out for me, you helped me. Everyone else said I was damaged goods and a lost cause, and all they wanted was my biotics, but you looked past that. You helped me when nobody else did. I…I love you, Cyril.”

She drew back, looking him in the eyes despite the tears that clouded hers.

“Not like in a, in a ‘I wanna marry you’ way, Cyril, but you’ve been like a dad to me,” she said, squeezing one of his gauntlets in her hands while he gently gripped back. “You were there for me. On Pragia, on the Normandy, watching my back on the old Reaper and on Earth. You taught me all this stuff, you helped me, and you never asked for anything back. I’ve never met anyone like you. You’re the kindest person I’ve ever known, Cyril.”

“Thank you, Jack,” Cyralius said. “I…I didn’t know I meant so much to you. But please, Jack. I won’t be that person anymore. I won’t be the same Cyril who taught you those things, who protected you. I will be something else entirely, something terrible and unholy and hideous, something that will have no reservations about harming you. I fear what will happen to you should that come to pass. For your sake, not mine, I want you to promise me that, should such a thing happen, you will put me down before I can hurt you. I need you to promise me.”

Jack shook her head.

“Cyril, I can’t-”

“Jack, you have to,” Cyralius said firmly. “Please.”

Jack sniffed slightly, before nodding.

“Alright Cyril,” she said. “I promise.”
Last edited by Colonel Mustard on Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:29 am

Chapter 33-The Mountain

“It is good to be back,” Malleus remarked as he, Kullas and Samara stepped off the landing shuttle and into the Normandy’s hangar bay. “Almost feels like I’ve been away from home.”

“It’s true,” Samara said. “I missed it, I’ll admit.”

“It is good to see you return, Malleus,” EDI remarked over the ship’s speakers. “I have the quarters for all of you prepared. It is a pleasure to have you back.”

“You,” Kullas muttered darkly as they stepped into the vessel’s main elevator.

The ship had been scarred since he had last seen her, pockmarks and scratches cut into her dark hull. There was a silver sheen around her engines from where excess use without proper cleaning had left a buildup of eezo waste, while they were showing signs of the ‘wilt’ typical of being them being burnt for a long time without proper maintenance. Indeed, the Normandy had seen better days.

As he stepped onto the CIC, however, Malleus could not help but smile. He greeted the crew scattered around, before he pressed the comm. link to the cockpit and said; “Joker, get us to the Charon Relay.”

“Gotcha, Captain. Good to have you back.”

“It’s good to be back. Now let’s get going before the Reapers notice us.”

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” Joker said. There was a tugging at Malleus’ feet as the Normandy pulled away from Earth’s gravity well, while the display in the CIC showed the altimeter slowly counting upwards. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Alliance Spaceways Flight to Noveria. For safety purposes, please stay in your seats until the seatbelt sign is switched off, and refrain from using electronic devices until informed by a member of the cabin crew. We would also like to remind you that this is a non smoking flight.”

Malleus chuckled slightly as they pulled away, before saying; “Joker, activate the stealth systems; I want us to get through quietly.”

“Already done, captain,” EDI announced quietly. “I have our course plotted and estimate we should arrive at the relay in approximately thirty minutes.”

“Good,” Malleus said. “I’ll be in the starboard observation deck, should you need me.”

“Understood, Captain,” EDI said as he stepped down from the command pulpit and into the lift.

It slid down and into the third deck of the Normandy. Various crew members of the ship were in the mess as he stepped in, and they greeted him warmly, reaching to shake his hand or embrace him. He left his trip to the observation deck where it was for the moment, instead talking to his crew for a minutes; he listened to Ken and Gabby bemoan the tiny amount of time and resources they had to repair the Normandy, and promised them he would allow them plenty of time to get some proper repairs done once they arrived on Noveria. He listened to the ship’s stevedores relate the attempted boarding action by Reaper forces and how they had driven the attackers off, examined the enemy helmet they had taken from a fallen foe. Finally, he checked on whether Kelly was managing to sleep properly.

Conversations done, Malleus left, heading into starboard observation with a slight smile on his face. It was the same feeling that he had when he returned to the Faith’s Fury after a long combat operation, the feeling of getting his feet aboard a familiar deck once more. He sighed quietly at the thought of the Fury being gone; he could have used the strike cruiser in this situation.

The door slid open, and he raised an eyebrow when he noticed Samara leaning on the rail before the armoured window.

“Justicar,” he said by way of greeting. “I had forgotten that this is where you were staying.”

“Malleus,” she returned. “What were you doing here?”

“The same as you,” the giant said. “Observing.”

Samara nodded, before Malleus said; “If I may be blunt, Justicar, what are you doing here with me? This only requires the presence of Kullas and I.”

“As I said on Earth ‘s surface, you are a prime target for assassination by the Reapers,” Samara replied. “If that happens, then you may need biotic aid.”

He glanced over to her, but her expression was unreadable, before he shrugged and left the matter there. Perhaps that was her real reason, and her code meant that she would hardly have some kind of dishonourable ulterior motive.

Silently, they looked out on the vista of space, on the orb of Terra as the Normandy pulled away from Mankind’s cradle. The once pleasant looking orb of green and blue had been tinged a shade of dirty gray, the result of orbital bombardments and the immense battles that had raged across Asia, Africa and northwest Europe. Malleus murmured a quiet prayer and made the sign of the Aquila that mankind’s most sacred world had been defiled in such a manner by the attention of the xenos machines they fought, before the orb pulled out of view.

The velvet dark of the Sol system was marred and turned dusty by the debris that surrounded it. Wreckage of all shapes and sizes passed them as the Normandy pulled towards the Charon Relay; some of it so small as to be barely visible to the eye, others chunks of hull large enough to be recognised as belonging to ship types made by various races, even lumps of onyx that could be seen to be wreckage from destroyed Reapers. Some were nearly whole ships, burned out hulks that kept their hulls intact despite the catastrophic internal damage.

Far away, there was a play of light, crimson and blue arcing in bright flashes only a few inches apart. Distant explosions, some battle far too far away to pick out clearly.

“I wonder who’s winning,” Samara murmured, while Malleus peered at it.

“I’m unsure, for the moment,” he said. “By the looks of it, it appears to be a battleship, about half a dozen cruisers and several frigates, against one Reaper.”

“You can tell that from here?” Samara asked, to which Malleus nodded.

“Gene-enhancement,” he said, smiling slightly. “To an illegal level.”

“‘And what, pray, makes us criminal?’” Samara said quietly, shaking her head. “I honestly thought you were quite possibly the greatest abomination of illegal gene-tweaking I had ever encountered.”

“True in some respects,” Malleus said. “Though abomination is hardly the word I would use. Even so, duty calls me.”

Samara raised an eyebrow at him, before he flicked the vox bead in his ear on with a mental impulse from his black carapace and said; “EDI, can you open a comm. link between the Normandy and those ships? Thank you.”

“Greetings, Captain Alleen, this is Commander Scandarum of the Alliance here,” he said. “I believe you dould perhaps use some advice. No, I’m not sure your current strategy will be particularly successful. Try diverting half of your cruisers to focus their fire on its upper shields; it will have to split its power output to deal with that, and it will leave it more vulnerable to your battleship’s main gun. I see. Send some frigates to flank round its rear, then; it will be unable to target them, but will have to divert shield power. And for the Emperor’s sake, captain, keep moving; those weapons will tear your ships apart in one shot. Keep that tactic up and you should be able to wear it down in time, provided you avoid its guns. Not a problem, Captain Alleen. Scandarum out.”

“And so you kill a foe from thousands of miles away using only a few orders and your eyes,” Samara remarked as he cut the connection. “You’re quite a remarkable man, Malleus.”

“So I’ve been told,” the brother captain said. “Still, as you said, I’m an artist of the battlefield. And this war is my masterpiece.”

Samara nodded.

“Then we shall just have to hope that you’re as good at business negotiation as you are at combat,” she said.

#

“Attention Normandy SR-2, this is Port Hanshan Docking Control. Our defence batteries have you painted as a target, and will fire if you fail to provide confirmation of identity.”

“I guess the old Noverian welcome is just as warm as it was last time we came,” Joker remarked from the pilot’s chair, tapping the holographic controls before him as he had the Normandy fall into orbit. “EDI, you transmitting the codes?”

“Already done,” EDI said.

From his place behind the pilot’s chair, Malleus examined the ice-bound world before them with a critical eye, before his inspection was interrupted by the Normandy’s radio announcing; “Your codes have been verified, Normandy SR-2. However, we cannot allow you berth.”

Malleus leant forward and pressed the communications button, before saying; “Would you care to explain why, Port Hanshan docking control?”

“The last time an Alliance ship named the Normandy arrived on Noveria, there were a series of expensive incidents that raised awkward questions,” came the explanation. “The board of executives of the Noveria Development Corporation added the Normandy to its list of no-berth ships following this development.”

“I see,” Malleus said. “If this is at all relevant, this is Malleus Scandarum, commander of Alliance forces on Terra. I have an appointment with Yuri Rasenkov concerning a matter vital to the war effort, and I have Council authority.”

“Noveria is a privately chartered colony and is therefore not answerable to the Council, Commander Scandarum,” the PHDC replied. “And while Mr Rasenkov is a valued investor and stockholder of the NDC, his authority does not supersede that of the board of executives.”

“So I am not allowed berth?” Malleus asked.

“No you are not. Please vacate the planet’s orbit, Commander Scandarum.”

He cut the connection for a moment, before glancing back to Kullas as he waited by the Normandy’s airlock.

“Kullas, EDI,” he said. “Shut down the orbital defence grid, including kinetic barriers around Hanshan as well as the anti-orbital batteries.”

There was a moment, before they said; “Done.”

“Thank you,” Malleus said, before activating the radio once more. “Port Hanshan docking control, it is Malleus Scandarum here again. You may be aware that you no longer have anti-orbital defences of any kind active.”

“What the…how did you do that?”

“The Normandy’s electronic warfare suite is far in advance of anything else this galaxy has to offer,” Malleus said. “Now, the Normandy is armed with a pair of Thannix cannons, and we also have access to all of Noveria’s computer systems. You are an immensely privileged individual, for it is up to you to dictate either whether we are allowed berth, or how more than three hundred thousand people will die. I am giving you the power of life and death here, my friend. It is a great responsibility.”

“Wait, hold on-”

“Should you choose not to let us dock, you have five options as to how they will be killed,” Malleus continued. “The first is the most obvious; I will fire the Thannix cannons, and will not stop doing so until Port Hanshan has been utterly destroyed from orbit. Secondly, I will order all heating systems to deactivate and have every window and airlock on the port open, freezing all within. Third, I can target specific points on the mountain that this city is built on and cause an avalanche that will be enough to bury all within. If such a thing is not to your taste, I will instead set all security systems to attack the inhabitants and see how long you last. Finally, I will quite simply keep the defences down, disable every ship and weapon you have and then alert all the pirates and slavers within the nearest one hundred thousand light years that Noveria is open for business and not looking likely to close any time soon. The choice is yours.”

“I…I can’t…I don’t have the authority! Please!” the operator sounded on the verge of tears.

“This is Administrator Lorik Qui’in,” another voice cut over the radio. “Docking bay two three two is open for you, Commander Scandarum, now please try not to destroy our Port.”

“Thank you, Administrator Qui’in, I’m glad you saw sense,” Malleus said. “I will have the defences reactivate once we are safely docked.”

“And that is why the Mechanicus does not rely on easily hacked cogitators,” Kullas remarked from his place by the airlock, before adding with a glare at EDI; “Nor abominable intelligences.”

“Was that entirely necessary, Malleus?” Samara asked.

“Why not?” Malleus asked. “This place is a seething den of corruption, greed and arrogance, and they would do well to be reminded that all their money will not spare them from the Emperor’s justice, should His ire be raised.”

“And would you have fired?”

“If they had been mad enough not to take my threat seriously after I had disabled every defence they had then I cannot help but feel that I’d be doing the galactic gene-pool a favour by removing them from it,” Malleus replied. “Administrator Qui’in would have been alerted the moment the defences were down, and he’d have no choice but to let us in.”

“He’s got a point,” Joker said from the pilot’s chair. The view from the windows had changed from a red of atmospheric entry to white as he guided it down, a vista of harsh, snow-capped peaks visible through them. “Those corporate assholes need taking down a peg, anyway.”

The Normandy slid into the provided docking bay, and as Malleus, Samara and Kullas stepped free, the brother captain could not help but remark; “What an incredibly uninspiring place.”

It was true; if Noveria’s docking bays were anything to go by, then the rest of Port Hanshan would be the same vista of plain, unadorned angular concrete that the bay was made of.

“As soulless as its inhabitants,” Samara said, to which Malleus nodded.

“Indeed,” he said. “Come now, we’ve wasted enough time, Yuri Rasenkov will be waiting for us.”

Kullas nodded, before they headed towards the exit. As they stepped through the blue-tinted glass of the doors, a small team of body armoured soldiers stood waiting for them; several humans as well as a few Turians, several of the humanoid LOKI mechs and a massive white YMIR machine, with both its weapon arms pointed at them. Malleus raised an eyebrow at the small army that stood before them, before he said; “It appears that I caused quite a stir.”

“Port Hanshan security,” the young woman at their front said. “Hand over your weapons, or you will be refused entry.”

“I will not hand over my weapons to some mere mercenary, like yourself,” Malleus replied. “Each one of these armaments were forged in the holy foundries of Lusita, made to be wielded by the Emperor’s greatest warriors, and in His name I will not let some soldier for hire like yourself defile them with your unworthy touch.”

“You will need to hand over your weapons,” the girl stubbornly repeated, even though Malleus could practically smell the fear emanating from her. She stepped forwards, assault rifle raised, while the mercenaries around her raised their weapons. There was a whirring noise as the mechs prepared firing protocols, before Kullas buzzed something and they turned, armaments suddenly pointed towards their would be-controllers.

“Targeting protocol realignment complete,” one of the machines said in a surprisingly feminine automated voice. “Awaiting kill order.”

Malleus took the barrel of the merenary’s rifle in one hand, growling; “Do not point that weapon at me, girl, or I will teach you precisely what a real warrior can do.”

Her nerve, already stretched thin, broke, and she said; “Alright, you can pass.”

“Good,” Malleus said, releasing his grip on the rifle’s barrel and letting the merc stumble back a pace. He could not help but feel faintly satisfied at the dents his finters had left in the metal. He stepped through the far doors of the small security room, mercenaries shying away from him as he stepped past them, and ignoring the alarms that beeped as they detected weaponry, while the mechs powered down.

“I would not recommend reactivating those until you have looked at their programming first,” Kullas said as he passed through them. “Otherwise the events may become somewhat messy.”

As they stepped through the port, Malleus made sure that the mercenaries could hear the remark he directed to the other two.

“I am almost beginning to wish that I had simply nuked this place from orbit.”

#

In the huge world of galactic business, Yuri Rasenkov was something of a legend. Born in July 2111 to a Moscow torn apart by sectarian violence, a young Yuri made money working for the arms dealers that were profiting from the long-raging civil war. With a talent for making weapons, he had patented his first pistol by the age of thirteen (which was then sold to both sides of the conflict), before making an immense profit with high-powered weaponry. By the age of twenty, he was a billionaire, selling weaponry to everyone from UN peacekeeping forces to terrorist groups, and when the Prothean caches upon Mars were discovered he was the very first human to design a mass-accelerator based weapon. He was infamous for being a larger than life playboy, even in his old age, and had made business-legend by turning up a board of executives meeting roaring drunk and then firing the man who had dared reprimand him.

Miranda had told him that she had arranged Malleus to meet with him because he likely the only CEO of galaxy’s major arms companies that the Astartes would be able to sit through a meeting with without strangling, something which he appreciated. It was times like that when he knew exactly why the Illusive Man had had her assigned to the Normandy.

“So,” Yuri Rasenkov said in a voice thickly painted with a Russian accent as he looked at the two giants and the Justicar in his office. “You are Malleus Scandarum.”

He got up from behind his desk of antique mahogany, walking round it extending a hand to the brother captain.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Mister Scandarum,” he grinned. Malleus extended his own, the ceramite compounds of his bionic wrapping around the businessman’s meaty paw.

“And you too, Mr Rasenkov,” the brother captain replied. Already, he could not help but like the man before him; despite the fact that his curly hair was grey and his stomach protruded well over his belt, there was a steel in the man that would, he knew immediately, make him a very dangerous enemy. He could respect that.

“Please, please, call me Yuri,” he replied, returning to his desk. “Excuse me sitting, by the way, but seventy four years of too much red meat and drink means I have not quite aged as well as I should have. Feel free to take a seat.”

He sat back in his desk, before he said; “So, I heard that you were threatening to blow the entire port up before you arrived and then went and terrified a load of the guards.”

“That’s correct,” Malleus said. “Though I’m surprised you heard that; by the fact that nobody was running around in a blind panic when I entered the port I guessed that Administrator Qui’in had kept that little altercation quiet, though that hardly failed to stop people from staring.”

“Word gets to you when you’re a powerful man like me,” he said. “I like that though, and it reminds me of me; you don’t take any shit from anybody. Anyone else here would have been all smiles and then would have called their lawyers and sued, but what do you do? You say that you’re either let in or you nuke everyone from orbit, freeze them to death, make the security go crazy, crush us with an avalanche or let pirates in. No messing around, no legal stuff, just ‘let me or I’ll kill you.’ Much better than the rest of the bastards here.”

“You don’t like them much?” Malleus asked.

“I hate them!” Yuri cried. “Men and women full of slime and lies, who smile at you while working out how they’re going to stab you in the back, who are only in it for the money and wouldn’t think twice betraying you if it made them more cash. You, on the other hand, you are different. You are an honest and honourable man, Malleus Scandarum, I can tell that from just meeting you now. Though I’ll admit that from the radio conversation it seemed like somebody had pissed in your coffee.”

“I don’t like being away from the war,” Malleus said. “Not at such an important time.”

“Hah, a warrior all the time, eh?” Yuri asked. “You know what you make me think of? A medieval knight. You wear a great big suit of plate armour and carry a sword and a hammer, and you talk like you’re from the Dark Ages.”

“I don’t recall using ‘thee’ or ‘art’ in any conversation so far,” Malleus replied.

“No, but you speak very formally,” Yuri replied. “Strangely so.”

“It’s just how we speak in the Imperium,” Malleus said. “Out of interest, though, I was just wondering who’s in that picture behind your desk. Your father?”

He nodded to the black and white hologram hovering about an inch above the wall to Yuri’s left, one of a serious eyed young man staring straight at the camera.

“Him? No, that’s not my father,” Yuri said. “He was my inspiration; Alexander Kalashnikov, creator of the AK 47.”

He stood from his desk, and picked up the assault rifle from the brackets on the wall next to it. It was a blocky, functional thing, made of dark metal with a wooden stock, surprisingly sturdy looking despite the fact that it was a pretty thin thing.

“This is the weapon in question,” he said. “It has killed more people in human history than any other, and was used from 1947 all the way to the very end of solid slug weapons. This was one of the very first made; cost me nearly thirty million credits at auction, and I do not regret spending a single one.”

He handed it to Malleus, who inspected it carefully. He knew about weapon craftsmanship, and despite the simplicity of the design before him he knew that it was a fine piece of artisanship he held.

“I made it my goal to create the next AK 47,” Yuri said. “Something cheap to make and that would work well and would make me rich. And I got that with the Koyalov assault rifle.” Here he nodded to another weapon on the walls of his office. “It is not the prettiest, nor the most accurate, but it is cheap, powerful and more reliable than anything else you can find in the galaxy.”

“Cheap and reliable is what I want,” Malleus said, carefully placing the rifle back into its place on the wall.

“Is that what you wanted to see me about?” Yuri asked. “The pretty young Miss Lawson who arranged this meeting said that it was important, about some kind of new weapon she wanted me to make, but wouldn’t give any details. All very hush hush, I’ll tell you but then I’ll kill you stuff.”

“As you said, it is a weapon,” Malleus said. “The likes of which I can guarantee will change arms manufacturing forever. Rasenkov Materials has always been at the cutting edge, but rest assured that this will make your cutting edge an outright monomolecular one.”

Yuri laughed at this, before saying; “Alright, let me see.”

“Kullas,” Malleus said. “You were the one who created this.”

The Forge Priest nodded, before stepping forwards with the package he held.

“This,” he said, laying it on the desk. “Is the Mark 1 Lokarim-Zorah Pattern Lasrifle.”

He pressed an activation rune on its flank, and the weapon unfolded. Yuri leant over it carefully, inspecting it, murmuring; “Very nice, very nice indeed.”

“It is accurate to five hundred metres, weighs only four kilograms, is able to work in hot, wet or frozen conditions, is able to have multiple attachments including bayonets, grenade launchers and various scopes, and the ammunition clips are able to be recharged using means such as domestic power supplies, heat and sunlight, as well as proper charge ports,” Kullas explained.

“You said it was a ‘lasrifle?’” Yuri asked. “What is that?”

“Laser weaponry,” Malleus said.

Yuri’s eyes widened, before he said; “Are you being serious? I thought that laser weapons had never been practical.”

“Using your technology, yes,” Kullas said. “However, the expertise of the Mechanicus makes producing such a weapon easy.”

“I will have to test this,” Yuri said. “Before I commit, you know. I cannot simply a weapon that won’t work. How am I supposed to sell it?”

He stepped to another door in the edge of his office, and Malleus followed as Yuri explained; “My personal firing range; it is good for testing any new weapon designs my R and D team produce, and for any bad days.”

The room was a long, thin one, with a few targets at the end, along with a rack of pistols, rifles and shotguns along the near wall. He pressed a few buttons, before a holographic target, a series of circles within circles, popped up at the end. He raised the weapon, squeezed the trigger, and with a crack the weapon fired, a blue beam spearing between barrel and the heart of the target in but an instant,. It winked out of existence, leaving a small bubbling circle on the concrete at the far wall.

Yuri quietly flicked the safety catch on, stepped to a tannoy by the door and said into it; “Vasiliev, it is your father. Get in here right now!”

“This,” he said to the rest of them. “This is amazing. An actual laser weapon!”

“Indeed,” Malleus said. “It is not the prettiest, nor the most accurate, but it is cheap, powerful and more reliable than anything else you can find in the galaxy.”

“It is also available with pistol and sniper rifle variants,” Kullas said. “I can give you the blueprints, but unfortunately no prototype model of those yet exists.”

Yuri looked to Kullas, and then at Malleus, then back at Kullas, before saying; “Do you want a job with my company? I could fire my entire R and D department and just have you, and I would still lead the way on the weapons market.”

“That will not be happening, I am afraid,” Kullas said. “I have no interest in profit.”

“If you are sure,” Yuri said. “The offer will be open, believe me.”

“Papa,” another voice called in from the office. “What did you want me for?”

“In here, Vasiliev,” Yuri said. “You will not believe what I have to show you.”

“I hope this is important, papa,” Vasiliev said as he headed towards the range. “I was trying to finalise the distribution deal with…”

The young man that stepped through the door looked at the two giants that stood in the office with wide-eyed awe through his spectacles, before he said; “You are Malleus Scandarum, aren’t you?”

Malleus nodded, before Vasiliev extended a hand and said; “It is an honour to meet you, sir. I saw your speech on the holo, sir, it was amazing. Most amazing thing I have ever seen.”

“Young Vasiliev rushed off to the nearest recruiting station straight away,” Yuri said. “Too skinny, though, not fit enough; poor boy came back like a kicked puppy.”

“I’m still helping though, Mr Scandarum, sir,” Vasiliev said, executing a sort of awkward half bow out of sheer awestruck amazement. “I dropped costs on government contracts, and stepped up production on weapons, body armour and ammunition.”

“He’s draining his poor papa’s company dry, but he’s doing the right thing,” Yuri said. “In any case, meet my son, Vasiliev. From my third wife; lucky boy got his father’s brains and his cheating bitch of a mother’s good looks. Bright boy, helps me run the company.”

“I deal with the numbers mostly,” Vasiliev said. “Papa isn’t quite as sharp as he used to be, now he’s getting old. But what was this, papa?”

Yuri grinned, before presenting the lasrifle to his son.

“Laser guns,” he said. “Try it, go on.”

Vasiliev took the weapon, sighting down it and fired. He looked at it in amazement before Yuri said; “I know, right son? Do you think we can produce it?”

“If that’s what you want,” Vasiliev said. “I don’t know how quickly we can create a production line of these, though.”

“I also have blueprints for the machinery needed to mass produce it,” Kullas said. “It would simply need to be constructed and then hooked up to a conveyor belt.”

Yuri looked at him again, before asking; “Are you sure you do not want to work for me? I can put a lot of zeros on your paycheque.”

“Each weapon can be produced for a cost of three hundred credits, while each las charge clip costs twenty credits to make,” Malleus said. “The Alliance is willing to pay three hundred and fifty for each weapon and thirty for each magazine.”

“We’ll want full fabrication rights for the weapons as well,” Vasiliev said. “And the rights to sell these on to others.”

“After the war is won,” Malleus said. “Until then all weapons produced go to the Alliance and the Alliance only.”

Vasiliev nodded.

“That is fair,” he said. “It is a good deal, papa, and we can definitely make money from these weapons. Everyone will want one of these, and if we hold the initial patents on it then we’ll be rich.”

“That is true, my son,” he said. “Are you showing these designs to other corporations?”

“No,” Malleus said. “Unless, of course, you fail to provide.”

“That will not be happening, my friend, no no,” Yuri said.

“Then do we have a deal?” Malleus asked.

Yuri extended a hand, and smiled as Malleus shook it.

“Deal.”
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Aug 06, 2011 12:49 pm

Chapter 34-Princeps

Every big gun in the Geth’s immense army was firing, and they were setting the skies ablaze.

Batteries of missiles screamed through the air, choking the air with the contrails of smoke they left, while gobbets of high-mass plasma were hurled upwards to lazily splash down on the city below. Shell launching guns barked as they fired, sending ordnance screaming groundwards, explosions rippling across buildings as they landed. The city burned as gas mains were hit and incendiary shells landed, towering infernos rushing hungrily up the sides of massive skyscrapers and through squat slums alike, its insatiable appetite unquenched by its consumption of wood, steel and plastics alike.

Massive explosions rocked the city as Yamzarat Machtoro’s railgun fired, annihilating great swathes of architecture and leaving nothing but smoking craters. The god machine was almost as noisy as the rest of the army combined, his cursing of the Reapers booming out across the battlefield over the sensory bombardment of the synthetics’ barrage. In the dead tongue of the Askriit, he hurled insults as furiously as he hurled ordnance, the guttural tongue of his extinct people echoing over the firestorm.

Tali, Andrew and the rest of the Alliance crew called over to tend to the immense machine crowded around the two windows of Yamzarat Machtoro’s cockpit as they watched the blazing holocaust before them. The sight was almost hypnotic as explosions of crimson and blue popped amongst the flames that roared across the city, swirling flames dancing across the ruined metropolic.

A glance at the tactical maps behind them showed Geth units were beginning to reach the borders of the city, the heavy duty Prime and Juggernaut units along with squads of Colossi leading the advance to clear the way for the Geth’s lighter infantry. Orders sent across their neural network had the artillery fire shifted away to the far borders of the city, much of it slacking off to avoid blue on blue shots, and Andrew asked; “Is that it? Have we already beaten them?”

“This is just the prelude,” Yamzarat Machtoro rumbled. “Such a thing will be nowhere near enough to destroy the Almarach Ikmrin; we must finish them in glorious combat. To your positions, my crew.”

Tali limped to the command throne at the centre of Yamzarat Machtoro’s cockpit, climbing into the large chair that had not been occupied for more than three million years. She had been uncertain about taking command of the god machine, thinking she would not have enough experience, but when she had voiced her concerns Yamzarat Machtoro had replied; “There are none alive who have experience of commanding me, little Quarian. You are courageous and you are clever; Lady Ivris would find you a fitting successor, and so do I.”

Now, as she sat in the throne, she felt uncomfortable, the chair too big for her, the tips of her two toed feet barely brushing the step up to it, the holographic controls before it feeling too far away. Whoever this Lady Ivris had been, she had certainly been a good deal taller than Tali was.

She wondered what Kullas would think, seeing her in charge of this massive god machine, a, what was the word he had used? A princeps, that was it. Come to think of it, what would Shephard have thought, that the young Quarian that he had rescued from the Shadow Broker’s assassins on the Citadel was now one of the masterminds behind the deadliest infantry weapons in the galaxy and in command of a walking fortress. She could not have imagined the things happening to her when she first set out on her Pilgrimage; being embroiled in the apocalyptic war that raged around her, becoming privy to the knowledge of a machine cult that did not even exist yet or sitting in the command throne of a Lady Ivris Talmin Machtoro, a seat that was nearly four million years old.

She missed Shephard, she realised. Meeting him once more on Freedom’s Progress, after two whole years thinking he was dead, that had been shocking, more than a little upsetting, but above all relieving. Then, after the Commander had rescued her from the disaster of a mission that had been Haestrom, she had been delighted to return to the Normandy SR-2, taking up her duties in engineering once more. And then had come Horizon. That hurt to remember; the terrifying swiftness of Harbinger’s claws, Garrus’ cursing as the Turian levelled his rifle and sent round after round into the head of the creature that had, once again, killed the Turian’s closest friend, the barrage of biotics from Jack, Miranda and Jacob that had torn the Reaper’s vessel apart, the snarling of Grunt as he covered them from the swarming foe. And Tali had just stood there, shocked into stillness, trying not to look and yet unable to tear her gaze away before Miranda had shook her shoulder and shouted at her to realign the damn GARDIANs and she realised then that the entire time she had been screaming and screaming and screaming…

The flicking of holograms before her snapped her from her reverie, and from beside her Andrew said; “There we go, they should be in reach more easily now. You all ready?”

Tali nodded, taking a deep breath and pushing the painful memories aside for another day.

“Is everyone in place?” she asked, to a chorus of agreement from the crew. “Good.”

She raised a hand, pointing towards Beijing before ordering; “Yamzarat Machtoro, advance!”

“With pleasure, Lady Machtoro,” Yamzarat Machtoro boomed. There was a rocking from within the cockpit as he stepped forwards, leaving a great two toed footprint from where it crushed the earth beneath it.

“A little overdramatic maybe, ‘Lady Machtoro?’” Andrew asked from next to her as he looked over the readings displayed on the back of the command throne and on the consoles around him.

“Try commanding your own god machine and see how long you manage to go without wanting to give orders like that,” Tali said.

Andrew shrugged at this, before saying; “Fair enough, I guess.”

The cockpit shuddered as Yamzarat Machtoro’s cannon opened fire, and the battle for Beijing was well and truly joined.

#

They stalked through the flames like a pack of wolves, their weapons held ready in their large metal hands, ignoring the fire that raged around them, their kinetic barriers dispersing the heat with ease. Ducking under doorframes too small to accommodate their twelve foot height, or simply stepping over fallen walls, Prime Squad three-seven-seven-two Gamma prepared to meet the foe head on.

They had barely crossed the ruined building line of Bejing’s suburbs, moving only a few blocks in, before they came into contact with the enemy. The enemy trooper rounded the corner, raising its rifle the moment it saw them, before the Prime platforms fired as one. Their own weapons had been stolen from the Reaper fallen, and were far more powerful than the ones they had originally wielded. They ripped through the shielding and armour of the footsoldier in moments, sending it toppling to the ground as a smoking ruin, before a second appeared. This too was overwhelmed even as its fellows rushed around the corner to open fire on the Geth.

The Primes link to one another allowed them to fire in perfect coordination, one target picked and gunned down instantaneously before moving onto the next, the Geth standing in the open and relying on their shields to protect them. From the shoulders of one of the synthetics a pair of telescopic prongs slid upwards like antenna, before the Prime reached back and pulled it forwards, sighting down the miniaturised railgun that had been reverse engineered from the designs provided to them by Yamzarat Machtoro. The weapon screamed as the shot exploded in the enemy’s midst, smashing half of the enemy squad apart in a single devastating blow.

The wall of a ruin at the far end of the street collapsed as a stalk tank thundered through, the Prime armed with the railgun dropping to one knee and swivelling to face it. Before the stalk tank could gain a target, it fired, the round punching through the shields of the machine and staggering it. A second shot slammed past its armour, stabbing a smoking hole into its frontal hull, before the Geth ejected the spent magazine of slugs and slammed a second one home. Somehow, the stalk tank did not die, and instead it lurched to its feet, a beam shot clumsily scything towards the Geth before a final wailing impact from the railgun ripped its innards apart and left it to spew smoke and flame form the holes punched into it.

The Primes began their advance, moving as the very speartip of the Geth forces. They moved implacably and with perfect coordination, the five intelligences that controlled the platforms linked together and allowing them to fight as one, each shot perfectly laid and done so with regard to the constant data fed to them by their squadmates and the neural network they were linked into. They were utterly relentless, gunning down the enemy as soon as they were encountered, their superior size and tactical skills allowing them to fight far better than their opponents. It was not that their foes were weak, far from it, but the Geth grew more intelligent the more of their fellows they were near, and in the presence of more than seventy million platforms and intelligences that were besieging Beijing they were at their intellectual peaks; they were able to outthink and outmanoeuvre their enemies on every level, brutally punishing the Reapers for daring to face them. Behind them came the rest of the Geth, finishing off the foe already badly mauled by the attention of the Prime squad and the others like it, pushing forwards into the city relentlessly. Yamzarat Machtoro stomped with them, a roaring god of war that devastated enemy forces with his railgun and cannon.

They fought through the suburbs, a seemingly unending tide of synthetics that assaulted like a great wave, reaching the skyscrapers that marked the vast city’s centre. Prime Squad three-seven-seven-two Gamma were the first there, speeding across the open roadways as Reaper forces fired upon them from the destroyed windows of fire-gutted skyscrapers. They ducked behind cover at the corner of one of the buildings, preparing grenades to breach and storm the buildings ahead of them.

The clawed foot of an Almarach Machtoro tore through the wall and crushed three of them before they knew it was there. An auxiliary battery of machine guns attached to one leg opened up on a fourth Prime, tearing through its shields and armour in moments.

The last one alive, armed with its railgun quite calmly dropped to one knee, took aim and fired. The shot glanced off the shields of the colossal machine, and its last thought before the machine guns tore it apart was that it was unsure if its backup had completed correctly.

#

“Divert power from his engines,” Tali ordered from her command throne, a response to an alert of lowered shield energy. “Yamzarat Machtoro, slow your pace; you’re well in range of the enemy here.”

“Understood, Lady Machtoro,” the massive god machine rumbled in reply. “The Almarach Ikmrin shall pay nonetheless!”

She was good at this, better than she thought she would be; sitting here in Yamzarat Machtoro’s command throne, she simply knew what to do, how to deal with the alerts and problems that came in as they arrived. Where he went on the field was determined by Yamzarat Machtoro himself, the god machine knowing far more of tactics than the Quarian, and instead she controlled how he worked, controlling the flow of power, the pressure of the fluid in his hydraulics that allowed him to move, diverting and chanelling kinetic barrier focus to defend against incoming fire without distracting him. As Yamzarat Machtoro had said, a crew was not necessary, but it made him far more deadly.

The god machine was unstoppable, guns blazing as he sent death roaring into the city. His cannon barked and thudded a constant stream of mass driver rounds, while his railgun shrieked as it hurled slugs into the city before him. He roared curses and oaths at his foes, the massive speakers sending them booming across the battlefield, and as he spat insults at the Reapers, Tali could not help but be reminded of the battle prayers Malleus and his brothers often spoke, though, perhaps, a great deal more vulgar.

“I am Yamzarat Machtoro!” the massive machine boomed as he fired. “I am the Lord of the Machtoro host, doom of the Pathogenarchy, bane of Almarach Ikmrin, leveller of cities! I return to rain death upon all of you, to bring about your end! I spit upon your weakling craven warriors, upon the whores that bore you as mewling spawn into the world, upon the weakling imitations of the Machtoro that you field! You are worms, fit only to be crushed underfoot!”

From between two skyscrapers, a colossus emerged to face him, four legs stabbing at the ground before it. The lense at its fore glowed balefully, and Tali channelled additional power to Yamzarat Machtoro’s forward shields as it fired. The kinetic barriers held, while the target was secured by Loggat-Master Yukio; “Central lense targeted, use a shield piercer.”

But the machine they were facing had already taken measures to prevent that, metal shutters sliding across the armoured glass.

“I cannot destroy its weapons now,” Yamzarat Machtoro grumbled.

“Fire anyway,” Yukio insisted. “If we force it shut it’s as good as done.”

“We’ve got another one coming in from the west,” one of the other bridge crew members warned as the railgun fired, sending the room ashudder. “Dammit, two more from the east as well.”

Tali looked at the tactical maps before her, large red circles indicating the presence of the enemy god machines, before she called in aerial footage from the flock of scout drones that circled above the field; she could see another three titan markers making their way towards them.

“They’re trying to flank us,” she said, diverting power into Yamzarat Machtoro’s engines and shields with a few swift gestures. “Yamzarat Machtoro, into the buildings ahead; we won’t be able to beat them in the open.”

“Understood, Lady Zorah,” Yamzarat Machtoro said. “What of the foe before us?”

“You’ve got legs, you’re taller and you weigh two thousand tons,” Tali said. “Squash it!”

The cockpit lurched as Yamzarat Machtoro stomped forwards, the god machine cackling over the speakers, concrete splitting beneath each footfall, houses crushed by every step, small geysers of water fountaining up from burst mains. The Reaper walker, seeming to realise his intent, gave up trying to open its damaged shutters and instead turned its auxiliary weapon batteries upon Yamzarat Machtoro, missiles and beam fire screaming towards him. They glanced against his shields, unable to penetrate them, and it tried to back away before the Askriit’s massive machine reached it.

The elbow of his cannon arm, a massive drum that carried the weapon’s ammunition, slammed down on the top of its hull, stumbling it and forcing it down, before a massive two-toed foot was raised and slammed down. The kinetic barriers and hull that guarded it were strong, but they were not enough to halt the brute power that was afforded by Yamzarat Machtoro’s sheer tonnage; the shields flickered out after just a split second, and the hull was crushed with a scream of metal and a burst of flames and sparks, the enemy walker split open like an overripe fruit.

The crew gave a cheer as Yamzarat Machtoro’s next great step carried them over the wreckage, taking them amongst the skyscrapers of the city. Weapons fire from enemy infantry around them assailed him from all angles, the foe concealed in the burned out wreckage of the skyscrapers, the secondary weapons mounted on his shoulders and torso swivelled into life; under the guidance of Fire-Master Parker the AA cannons, railguns and machine guns roared into life, rounds punching through concrete and enemies alike as Yamzarat Machtoro thudded between buildings.

“What is our next target, Lady Machtoro?” he asked Tali, who was flicking through the holograms before her.

“This one, over to the west,” she said, pointing out her target. “The others are converging on our position, but we can pick that one off while it’s alone.”

“A wise plan,” Yamzarat Machtoro rumbled. He changed his direction, the cockpit lurching as he did so, leaning around a corner even as fire from his secondary batteries and the Reaper forces screamed to and fro across the streets. His intended target, also hunting for a god machine to slay, loomed from around the corner, before a railgun round from Yamzarat Machtoro slammed into it.

It shields held firm, and it turned to face them, the lense at its front flaring with light. Tali diverted power from engines and into Yamzarat Machtoro’s shields, his cannon blazing as he fired it into the foe in an attempt to wear his foe’s down. The beam weapon fired at the same time as the railgun, the porgramat round zipping past its shield and straight into the lense. Much of it disintegrated as it hit the stream of liquid metal that erupted from the Reaper’s beam cannon, but enough got through to crack through the glass and into the weapon itself. The firing halted as the weapon was crippled, and flame blossomed from the wound, while the shutter slid closed to protect it from any second shot that would take advantage of the damage Yamzarat Machtoro had wrought.

Another railgun shot hit a leg joint, stumbling the thing, while his cannon continued to send high-explosive rounds slamming into its kinetic barriers, slowly but surely wearing them down. The enemy titan tried to limp towards him, before Tali ordered; “Standard round, don’t bother with the shieldbreaker. Take them out.”

“Firing, Lady Machtoro,” Yamzarat Machtoro replied. The railgun shrieked as the round was fired off, the slug smashing into the kinetic barriers around the thing, explosions still blossoming off them from the cannon fire, and the foe stumbled, lurching into a skyscraper. Rubble rained atop it as it pulled itself free of the gutted building, before another round blasted against the barriers and they flickered out.

Cannon fire slammed into its armour, punching craters into the metal, before the railgun fired and tore a great chunk of its hull away. The engines beneath, vulnerable things of piping and pistons, were shattered by cannon rounds before the enemy machine collapsed onto the street, completely gutted.

The crew cheered as it fell to the ground, Yamzarat Machtoro stamping upon its metallic corpse, before Tali glanced at the tactical map before her and she gasped; “Keelah.”

While Yamzarat Machtoro duelled with one, the other Almarach Machtoro had moved up on his position, and now they were right on top of them.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Nutstoyoutoo » Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:55 pm

Wow. Just...wow. Epically awesome? Awesomely epic? Epic-awesome-awesomeness?
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Aug 06, 2011 9:11 pm

Epicsome, perhaps? ;)

Thanks for reading, Nuts.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:30 pm

Chapter 35-Line in the Sand

“Alpha squad, we need cover!” Miranda yelled into the radio. “Repeat, Alpha section, covering fire is needed.”

“That’s not possible, Lady Castellan,” came the reply, the channel laced with a background noise of static and gunfire. “We’re under too heavy fire here.”

Miranda cursed, before ordering; “Delta Squad, we’re falling back to a better position. Move, move!”

Then she was running, adrenaline pounding in her veins as she set off at a sprint across the dead ground that the Reapers were firing upon, boots of her suit thudding against the ground. Her breath was ragged in her throat, eyes darting as she sought out the exit from the street; there a building they could take cover in, much better than the blasted away fountain in the centre of the square they had just been fighting in. A few enemy rounds rippled against her shields, almost stumbling her but somehow she kept upright, pounding forwards before she reached the door and scrambled to cover behind the smashed out window, below the wall.

She should not have this much energy, part of her was thinking even as she leaned over cover and emptied her magazine in to the enemy forces that were now pushing forwards as Kasrkin’s Delta Squad were forced away. Even with her gene tweaked physique and powered armour, she should not have been able to keep going like this. But somehow, despite the fact that for four whole hours she had been fighting and fighting, right at the front lines, to try and hold the Reapers back from their landing zones, Miranda was still going, some heady cocktail of raw adrenaline, determination and fight-or-flight instincts pushing her past the limitations of her body and keeping her throwing bullets and biotics at the enemy.

“This is Lady Castellan Lawson to Atlas Squadron One,” Miranda called into the radio once more as she ducked down, ejecting a red hot thermal clip from her rifle. “We need immediate support. Atlas Squadron One, do you read me?”

“We hear ya,” came the reply from Atlas Squadron One’s leader. “Delta fireteam are on their way.”

There was a screaming from above, before two Atlas mechs crashed down in the square the Kasrkin had been forced to vacate. Machine guns and missile launchers roared into life, explosions blossoming across the square while bullet holes stitched their way through the cobbles. More of the foe swarmed into the square, even as the machines and Delta Squad poured fire into them.

From an opening into the square, a stalk tank lumbered forwards. One of the Atlas Mechs activated its jets and leapt away from it, upwards into the air in an effort to dodge it, but the aim of the Reaper machine was uncanny as it fired, slamming into the shields, tearing through them and melting past its heavily armoured cockpit. Engines still running but without a pilot, the Atlas careened wildly through midair before its smashed into a building in a spray of flame and shrapnel.

The other Atlas bulled forwards, falchions extending as it crashed through the Reaper infantry before it. The weapons slammed home in the hull of the tank before they were ripped free, shredding the stalk tank as the Atlas tore into the enemy footsoldiers around it. Yet more were coming, even as the Kasrkin and their walker fought stubbornly, enemies pouring into the square.

“This is Lady Castellan Lawson,” Miranda called into the vox. “We need reinforcements, now! Repeat, we cannot hold our position, the enemy is too numerous.”

“I’m sending what I can,” came a familiar voice across the vox. “Hold firm, Miranda.”

“Understood, Titus,” Miranda replied. “We’ll hold as long as we can.”

She switched radio channels, before calling to Alpha Squad; “This is Lady Castellan Lawson. Pull back to my position immediately; yours is too exposed and you’re at risk of getting cut off. I repeat, you are at risk of getting cut off, fall back on me asap!”

“Understood, Lady Castellan,” Alpha Squad replied. “We’re pulling back now.”

That would get them some numbers, at least; might just be enough to drive off the foe.

She slammed a fresh thermal into her rifle and poked her head over the wall once more, squeezing the trigger even as return rounds zipped towards her. Several slammed into her shields, and so caught up was she in firing, that she failed to notice them wink out before one slammed directly into the eyepiece of her armour’s helmet.

She screamed, toppling back as the world disappeared in a crimson haze. She grabbed uselessly at the hole punched into her armour, fumbling clumsily at the catches of her helmet before the hands of one of the men she commanded grabbed them and tore them free, the slipping under her shoulders and dragging her away from the worst of the enemy fire. Medi gel was injected into the wound to stem the bleeding before it was too severe, and her questing hand felt the chunk of bone and ear that had been ripped away from the right side of her skull as she touched the wound with shaking hand; it elicited a hiss of pain, but she realised then that she couldn’t open that eye.

Through the red miasma of agony she could hear a roaring sound, two strangely familiar voices bellowing something in a language she knew but couldn’t understand. She had heard it before, that she knew, many times, but with the fireburst of pain still exploding slowly against the side of her skull, and her eye gone, oh god, her eye, her eye was gone, she couldn’t place it. Someone was shouting something about angels, before the medi-gel finally kicked in and the pain began to rapidly fade to a dull ache, the flow of blood staunched by the bacterial culture.

Somehow, she managed to pull herself to her feet, supported by one of the Kasrkin to see Titus and Hullen storming forwards into the square. Hullen’s assault cannon was laying down a wall of fire, while Titus’ shotgun was blazing as it gunned down more Reaper troops. From the far side of the square, Alpha Squad had moved up, laying downed disciplined volleys of rifle fire along with the rest of Delta, the Atlas firing with missile and machine gun. It was not enough to turn the tide, but it was enough to stem it, at least.

Titus rushed to their position as he noticed them, before saying; “Miranda, are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” Miranda managed. “Fine.”

“We’re pulling back,” Titus said. “We’re trying to consolidate our forces.”

“With the enemy this close?” Miranda said. Why was she having this conversation now, part of her was wondering. She should be in pain, not discussing tactics! But another part of her was all business; her injury could wait, there were lives at stake here. “That’s…that’s impossible.”

“You don’t think I know that?” Titus asked. “Not as if we have much choice in the matter.”

“If we’re pulling back, we need to…slow them down, at least,” Miranda said, her speech now coming at a little over a pained pant. “Send a unit to do that.”

“Can’t be done,” Titus said. “Pretty much all of our forces along this flank are either getting pounded or are pulling back, and the Kasrkin are too valuable to sacrifice for this.”

“Brother Sergeant,” Hullen called over the vox. “I can hold this position longer than anyone else can, I’ll do it.”

“What did I just say about too valuable, Hullen,” Titus replied. “You’re worth as much as any of the Kasrkin, more so.”

“I’ve got a big gun and power armour, that’s all,” Hullen replied. “Nothing I do that nobody else can’t, but I can hold this position single handed and buy you the time you need. Hell, I’ve got the best chance of making it through this sort of thing alive out of anyone here. No time to argue, Titus, just fall back.”

The banner bearer nodded, before saying to Miranda; “Sound a retreat. We’ll fall back to the Avenue de Georges Guynemer.”

“Understood,” Miranda said, before calling into the radio; “All units, we’re falling back. I repeat we’re falling back. Form up on the Avenue de Georges Gunemer.”

The Atlas mech was the last to go, firing off a vengeful volley of missile and machine gun fire at the Reapers that were massing into the square before it stomped back, buying the Kasrkin just a little more time. And then Hullen was alone with the foe.

His chaingun screamed into life, rounds spraying across the tightly packed foe as they entered the square. Several were felled, shields and armour overcome by the sheer volume of fire, but more returned, shots hammering against his power armour. Hullen moved, assault cannon still spinning as he strode across the square to throw off their fire, hoping to avoid the rounds that hammered towards him. There were dozens of the foe, he knew, more pouring in by the moment, and even that volume of fire might be enough to overwhelm his power armour.

He ducked behind a doorway as the barrels of his assault cannon began to glow red hot, cursing as rounds hammered into the wall before him and chewed viciously into metal walls. He muttered a beseechment to the weapon’s machine spirit for it to perform well, before stepping out, lowering it, and firing.

Heavy calibre mass-driver rounds screamed through the air, streaks of blue so bright that they left afterimages burning on the retina. They hammered into shields, punching through armour as Hullen stood his ground and fired, ignoring the shots that slammed into his power armour. He roared in fury, the prayer that he yelled distorted to something barely recognisable as a benediction to a god, so mangled was it by his helmet’s speakers and his righteous rage.

A stalk tank thundered into the streets, and Hullen threw himself out of the way as it fired, the lethal beams of its cannons brushing by his pauldron and causing the gold paint upon it to boil. He bulled forwards, smashing his way through the crush of Reaper soldiers as they pressed around him, ignoring the blows that hammered off his power armoured form. The stalk tank fired again, cutting through its own troops in an effort to hit the Astartes, but Hullen lurched to the left, crushing a soldier beneath his boots as he dodged the fire.

He reached it, drawing his melta one handed and fired, slicing through shields and melting armour in a split second, holstered it once more and raised his assault cannon. It whined into life, chattering as it spat rounds across the Reaper lines before him even as they pressed in, fire clattering against his power armour. He threw a grenade, the explosive blasting a hole in their ranks and he pressed against it, tearing a swathe through them even as they pressed in from all sides.

One grabbed at him, but he threw it off, raising his assault cannon to gun down another few before a rifle butt slammed into the side of his helmet and his vision exploded in a spray of grey static. Another tried to tackle him, the sudden shift in weight causing him to stumble, and a second hurled itself into his chest, throwing him to the ground.

The world disappeared into a dark blur of punches and kicks, and Hullen grunted in pain as he felt blows rain down atop him. He raised a hand in a vain effort to stop them, and snarled as he felt something sharp sliced between the joints of his chestplate and his belt and into his gut.

This was not how he was going to die. Not down on the ground, beaten to death like some enforcer who had been too weak to disperse an angry mob he had been sent to quell. He was a member of the Adeptus Astartes, a space marine, and Emperor damn it, if he was going to die today, he would die like one!

He gave a roar of fury, surging upwards against the crowd of the foe that pressed against him. He exploded out of their midst, screaming a prayer, physically throwing his enemies away before taking his assault cannon in hand and firing. At point blank range, the rounds shredded them, tearing them down before his melta was in hand and tearing a swathe through their packed ranks.

Hullen barrelled forwards, smashing enemies aside as he sought to reach open ground. He ignored the pain in his gut, his Larraman’s Organ already causing the platelets to clot and the ravaged flesh being the process that would see it knit itself back together. It was painful, even with the anaesthetics that his power armour was administering, but the burning ache could wait. He had higher priorities.

From a side street another stalk tank emerged, and Hullen drew his melta as soon as his hyper-advanced eyesight picked it up. Before it could fire, he did, pure heat wailing from the barrel of his weapon in a blast of light that melted the packed ranks of enemy troops it cut through before hitting the stalk tank. It shields could not hold against such an assault, and its hull simply evaporated away, flames roaring into life from its innards.

He pushed free, breaking out of the crowd of enemies, and turned his assault cannon onto the press of the foe before him. It was time to fight.

They were relentless and utterly unyielding in their assault, constantly pressing against Hullen as he stood his ground with his great assault cannon. He roared prayers and oaths, cursing and spitting as the enemy pushed against him. He was immovable, felling hundreds as they tried to advance, power armour weathering the rain of rounds even as they slowly but surely stripped and chipped the paint away.

For almost an hour, he held them. Hundreds of times his chaingun overheated, and hundreds of times the Reaper forces pressed their opening to try and surge forward overwhelm him, only for him to drive them back. They tried to flank him, only to force him into their centre where he held a circle around himself, anything that tried to enter finding itself shredded. The shells of more than a dozen stalk tanks littered the square, victims to his melta, while the corpses of the enemy dead made a carpet of crushed and mangle onyx, the cobbles covered by bodies.

The ground shook, and Hullen grinned as he saw the immense form of a superstalker stomp between two of the skyscrapers that led into the square. Its lensed frontal hull came into view before it fired, and Hullen rolled to the left as an immense beam of burning crimson speared down to the earth and scythed across the ground towards him. He was an elusive target, despite his size, dodging and weaving through the crowd of enemies as the beam tracked him and vaporised its allies in its hunt, before it cut out.

“I’m that much trouble?” Hullen half growled, half panted. “I’m flattered.”

He drew his melta, his other hand still firing his assault cannon, and fired, the beam scything into the armoured leg of the super stalker. The kinetic barriers flickered out, unable to withstand the wrath of one of the Imperium’s most powerful anti-tank weapons, before the metal of the joint began to run liquid. The melta’s fire cut out before it could burn through, but the damage had been done; deprived of servos, pistons and most of its outer shell, the armour around the joint sheared away and the super stalker toppled forwards.

A great cloud of dust covered his vision, something smashed into Hullen and sent him toppling to his feet. The back of his helmet slammed into the ground, and for a moment he saw black before a flare of pain in his right ankle pulled him back from any unconciousness. Good. Being killed while asleep would be humiliating.

He pulled himself to his feet, ignoring the mangled ceramite of his right foot and the grinding of bone in the tortured joint. He took his melta from where it lay scattered, his other hand still holding on to his assault cannon, and pulled himself to his feet to look eye-to-beam cannon with the super stalker.

The fall, now without the protection of its kinetic barriers, had buckled the armour around it, and sparks jumped to and fro from within the systems visible beneath the armoured glass. The lense twitched apathetically as it saw him move, damaged movement systems trying to make it aim, before Hullen raised his melta one last time and fired, blasting it into nothing.

Despite the clouds of dust thrown up by the massive machine’s fall and the pile of rubble scattered about, more foes emerged from around him, rounds already slamming into his armour.

He grunted in pain as he limped backwards, up the ramp of the dead superstalker’s ruined leg as the enemy advanced on him. He fired still, assault cannon chattering as it tore across the foe’s lines, hoping to get to higher ground and force a chokepoint. He reached the top of the leg, onto the thing’s massive hull, before cursing as he saw the ramps of rubble on either side of the thing, already being swarmed by the foe.

He found himself pushed back as he fought, assault cannon still blazing as he was forced along the thing’s back to its tail. Raised above the battlefield, he made his stand, a wave of mass driver rounds screaming from his position as he fired. The footsoldiers of the Reapers swarmed all around him, fire hammering into him from all directions as they swarmed on the hull of the fallen God Machine and from below him, utterly relentless despite the volumes he killed. He drew his final grenade, assault cannon dropping down for a moment as he raised his arm to throw.

A screaming crimson beam tore through the air and melted through the ceramite, searing away augmented flesh. His hand and wrist dropped downwards, the grenade he held detonating in the ranks of the foe below, and Hullen roared in enraged agony as he turned his assault cannon upon the offending heavy weapons trooper, tearing it to the ground.

Before scar tissue could form, a round tore into the stump, burning through muscle. He gasped and stumbled backwards, before more fire poured into the damaged joint, pulverising bone. Blood poured from it, his Larraman’s organ unable to cope with the sheer amount of trauma sustained in the wound, and he began to feel light headed, his twin hearts pumping yet more out heedless of the damage sustained.

His assault cannon was raised, and he stumbled back as he sent fire clumsily streaming across enemy ranks. He waved the stump of his arm in some kind of angry defiance at the foe, before a round tore through the pulverised flesh there, burned past the ceramic slabs of a ribcage he had and sliced into his heart.

An angel fell.

For a moment, his vision was dark, before he work, gasping back blood. He wrenched his helm off with his remaining hand, his grip on his assault cannon lost, and spat black viscera away. He drew his bolt pistol, knowing that he had just twenty shots and took aim.

Even with one of his hearts torn apart and his lungs filling with his own blood, his pistol arm was true, constant training and warfare, as well as the Emperor’s holy sciences, granting him skill far beyond that of any mortal. His weapon barked as it sent self propelled shells into the foe, punching through armour and kinetic barriers alike and scattering chunks of machinery around him.

It felt good to know that he would die with a bolt weapon in his hands. There was something fitting about that idea, and he smiled in spite of the pain and the blood dribbling down the corner of his lip.

The final shell. One last foe to take down with it and then he would be down to his melta. He could scythe through some more, maybe a dozen, and then he could die, die satisfied that every last shot had been used in His service and used well.

The melta. The most powerful weapon they had, something that had fended of stalk tanks, the Collectors’ constructs, had annihilated swathes of xenos, mutants and heretics. A weapon that, he realised, if it fell into the hands of the Reapers, would wreak untold destruction upon his allies. He could not allow such a thing to happen.

Quite calmly, he placed his bolt pistol across his chest and drew his melta. He placed it there, took his bolt pistol in hand as his foe used the break in fire to approach him. They surrounded him, weapons pointed at his skull as he pointed his bolt pistol at the ammo tank of his melta, and despite himself he laughed bitterly.

“Too afraid to kill me, eh?” he said hoarsely. “Well, I’m not. You’re just some mindless xenos machines, but me? I’m the lightning of His wrath, the thunder of His hate, His will made flesh. And you? You are doomed.”

He smiled as he pulled the trigger.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:44 pm

As of this chapter, Angels of the Storm is now longer than Hammerhand and I don’t think I’m anywhere near the end of it; I can’t help but find that vaguely terrifying…

Chapter 36-Leviathan

The two blades crashed together with a crackle of energy, sparks flashing along the holographic edges as they impacted. One of them, guided by a stronger arm, forced the other out of the wielder’s grip and sent it sailing through the air before a cloud of biotic force caught it in midair and drew it back to block the next blow that swung down.

Its hilt swung down into its wielder’s grip before it moved to halt a stab, deflecting it off to the left with the aid of a push of biotics before it swung round to slash into its opponent’s open back. The target dodged back, bringing its blade up to counter, the slash upwards blocked by the biotically motivated sword swinging round to stop it. The enemy’s weapon whirled around almost as soon as it clashed into it, seeking to exploit its wielder’s open side before biotic forces grabbed the friendly blade and pushed it into the other with preternatural speed, pushing it away. Its hilt was taken in both hands, before it swung down towards the opponent’s neck to land against it.

Samara’s smile of triumph was dulled by the small electrical shock she could feel crackling against the bottom of her chin, even as her own training holo-blade rested gently on the side of Malleus’ neck. There was a silence as Brother Captain and Justicar regarded each other for a moment, panting slightly from the exertion, before Malleus said; “A draw, then.”

They stepped away from each other, and Samara said; “I thought Astartes were supposed to be master bladesmen.”

“We are,” Malleus said. “But we don’t cheat, mind.”

“Cheating? And I suppose that you were born with ceramic bones, an extra heart and the strength to punch through brick walls,” she replied. “If I didn’t use my biotics I wouldn’t last against you for a moment.”

Malleus shrugged before saying; “A fair point, Justicar. Another round? Perhaps we can break our tie.”

“Later, maybe,” Samara said, sitting down on one of the benches. “I’m afraid I lack your stamina. Fifteen rounds of solid sparring will do that to us mere mortals.”

Malleus shrugged, before deactivating his own holoblade and stepping up to the weapon’s rack that held his thunder hammer and power blade.

“Do you mind if I practice, then?” he asked.

“By all means,” the Justicar replied. “I just need to catch my breath.”

Malleus nodded, before calling; “EDI, four drones please, maximum lethality.”

The holographic projectors that Kullas had installed into the walls of the Normandy’s hangar flickered into life, four insubstantial foes appearing from thin air. Blades extended from long, spidery arms, and they fanned out to try and surround Malleus before the Brother Captain sprang into life, weapons whirring in his hands as he hit the first one before him like a hurricane.

Samara watched him as he parried and dodged around the blades that sliced towards him from all angles, moving with a speed and grace that she would have called impossible if it weren’t for the fact that she had seen him utilise it dozens of times. His weapons were a blur as he fought the drones around him, and part of her still struggled to believe that someone so large could move with such swiftness. But that was the funny thing about Malleus and his brothers; she had seen bodybuilders before, people whose devotion to increasing muscle mass had made them misshapen and clumsy looking, and the Astartes were fitter and larger than they and yet somehow, as she watched him fight, she could not help but think of them as perfectly proportioned. Perhaps it was their height, or the broadness of their shoulders, but their muscles did not seem grotesquely swollen or misshapen.

“I must say, Samara,” Malleus said as he stabbed his blade into the chest of one of the drones whilst blocking a slash from another with his thunder hammer. “I’m slightly surprised at the level of restraint you showed on Noveria.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Your code compels you to punish criminals,” Malleus said. “And frankly that planet has almost as many of them as Omega; they just happen to dress up nicely.”

“The Code isn’t absolute,” she said. “Sometimes it has to be put aside to serve the greater good; Yuri Rasenkov is hardly a saintly man, but he will do more good against the Reapers alive rather than dead. It hardly makes me happy about dealing with him, but I can see the reason behind it, and sometimes I have to put the Code behind duty and deal with the issue at hand. Has such a thing ever happened to you? Have you ever had contradicting demands of duty?”

This was enough to pause Malleus for a moment, and a glowing blue blade speared for his heart as he froze for a moment, suddenly distracted before he recovered himself and deflected it away, bringing his thunder hammer around to smash the offending drone into nothing.

“At times, yes,” he replied slowly. “I have.”

God Emperor damn it, he really hated talking to Samara sometimes. The damn xenos woman had a rather alarming talent for bringing up subjects that he would rather keep buried.

The two remaining drones before him suddenly winked out, and Malleus frowned before EDI announced; “Captain, I have just received a request for a high priority communiqué from Titus. He says that it requires your immediate attention.”

“Alright, tell him I’m on my way to the bridge,” Malleus said.

“Understood, captain,” EDI replied.

Malleus pulled the shirt on that he used for when he went about the Normandy without his battleplate before heading to the lift. Samara followed before he ordered it up to the lift, and she said; “What do you think this is about?”

“No idea,” Malleus said. “If it was something relevant to the war as a whole it would be General Suvat or Admiral Anderson contacting me, but this? I’m not sure. Have to wait and see.”

The doors of the elevator slid open and Malleus stepped into the bridge, up to the podium that allowed him full view of the Normandy’s holographic command console and Titus’ image flicked up at its centre a moment later. He looked exhausted, with a cut across his brow and a layer of dirt dulling the shine of the white and gold power armour he wore.

“Malleus,” he said, saluting. “I’m glad I was able to speak to you.”

“Titus,” Malleus replied, returning the salute. “You look like you’ve come straight from combat, brother.”

“That would be because I have,” Titus said. “And I’ll need to return to it, soon enough, but I need to tell you this first.”

“What is it?” Malleus asked.

“It’s Hullen,” Titus said. “He’s dead.”

There was a long silence, before Malleus said calmly; “How did this happen?”

“We had Reaper forces pushing on our north-eastern flank, and we needed to fall back and consolidate for a counterattack,” Titus said. “We couldn’t fall back without a vanguard, and we didn’t have the numbers for one. So Hullen volunteered to hold their forces while we retreated.”

“He made a good account of himself, I trust,” Malleus said.

“Aye,” Titus said. “He bought us the time we needed, and when we reached his position we found he had killed more than three hundred of their infantry, almost a dozen of their tanks and a superstalker. It’s a death worthy of any Astartes.”

“An impressive feat,” Malleus said. “If they knew I’ve no doubt they’d already be telling legends of his death back on Polyphemus.”

Titus nodded.

“He even blew up his melta rather than let it fall into enemy hands,” he said. “He did the Sons proud.”

“Aye,” Malleus said. “How’s morale, though? I can’t imagine it would fare too well after this.”

“Not good,” Titus said. “Nobody really expected one of us to die, I don’t think, and there’s no way the troops are taking it well. Emily’s playing up the heroism of the whole thing, but all she can really do is damage control. Not to mention we can hardly keep this quiet.”

Malleus nodded sombrely at that. Titus was right; part of the reason why the soldiers of their unusual army found the Astartes so reassuring was the air of invulnerability they maintained. With the realisation they could die just like any other warrior that illusion was shattered, and it would not be easy to rebuild.

“Very well,” he said. “I’ve sent the Normandy on a return course to Terra, so I’ll be back at the front soon enough; I’ll probably have to do another public address about this, though, to help morale.”

“That might be a good idea,” Titus said. “I’ll see you soon, Malleus.”

“And you, Titus,” Malleus said. “Imperator Vult.”

“In Gloria eternis, Brother Captain,” Titus replied.

He cut the connection, and Malleus sighed, and shook his head.

“Sir?” Kelly asked from next to him. “Are you…?”

“I am fine,” Malleus said. “Fetch Kullas, Yeoman Chambers. I will need to tell him of this.”

#

“The shuttles are away, sarge,” Constable Arnolds said. “Are we bugging out?”

Special Response Sergeant Iraxin shook his head, before the Turian said; “We can’t do that just yet, son. We’ve got one more thing to do.”

“Sarge?”

Iraxin gestured for the kid to follow, raising his rifle into his shoulder.

“We got the civvies out of this area, but communications are shot to hell and I don’t know what’s going on,” he said as they headed out of the port. Arnolds went a little pale at the carnage that had been wrought through the corridors, when thirty experience C-Sec officers had gone toe to toe with ten of those massive…things and barely emerged alive. “We need to get a distress call off.”

They emerged from the port building, and into the Citadel, and the windows showed what the great arms of the station were embracing; six behemoths, raining destruction upon the city-craft.

Five of them he recognised from two years ago, twins of the dreadnought that had lead the Geth assault on the station, massive onyx vessels that scored lines of fire across the Citadel’s city blocks with great beam weapons. According to the Council, it was supposed to have been unique, but then that had been a lie, when those things had descended on Earth and caught everyone off guard. But the other craft was something completely and utterly alien.

It was colossal, larger even than the Reaper ships that flanked it, and made, bizarrely, of entirely organic matter. A massive spinal cord protruded from the yellowed flesh of its back, bone jutting out into the vacuum, and its massive belly was a mass of ribbed muscle and flesh, batteries of mass driver cannons crudely sutured into the meat of the creature. A stub of a tail housed the engines, while atrophied fins, one that would have been comically small if it weren’t for the fact that they were the size of football fields, twitched as if paddling through the void. But the worst thing about it were its jaws, stretching forward like some hideous prow, smooth, scaly skin wrapped around the great column of bone filled with hundreds of needle teeth. As Iraxin watched, they opened with a slow majesty, the impossible vessel twisting in the void to bring it round like some massive crocodile over one of the vessels of the Citadel Defence Fleet, before they slammed shut, the ship exploding in a burst of flame and debris.

“Sarge, shouldn’t we get going?” Arnolds asked, pulling Iraxin’s gaze from the dreadful sight before him.

“Yeah,” the Turian said. “C’mon kid, before the Batarians or any of those other big…things appear.”

They hurried through the empty streets of the Citadel, the two C-Sec officers’ gazes darting around in search of danger as they headed for their destination, the local interplanetary comm. relay. They were quiet, disturbingly so, signs of combat all around them; burned out, crashed air-cars, holes blasted in the sides of buildings and bodies, too many bodies, of civilians, the C-Sec officers who had died defending them, and the bodies of Batarians, those visored machine soldiers and the massive, triple-jawed creatures that seemed immune to pain and frighteningly competent with the weapons they wielded.

They were a few blocks away from the comm. centre when they came across the enemy, four of those massive, bullish creatures with those hideous triple jaws. The eight eyed aliens gave a yell, turning their weapons upon the pair, and Iraxin fired off a burst before he yelled; “Run!”

They fled, sprinting away from the creatures and towards the comm. centre, while their pursuers bulled after them, roaring in bestial fury. Rounds from their rifles, massive onyx things the size of a light machine gun, slammed into the ground around their feet, glancing off their kinetic barriers and body armour.

“There!” Arnolds called, pointing to the building they wanted, the antenna array above it miraculously undamaged. He slammed his access code into the doorway, and it slid open, both of them rushing through before they hastily closed it behind them. There was a slamming as their pursuers reached it and tried to batter it down, and they hurried to the main room.

They reached it, sealing the door shut before Iraxin hurriedly keyed his access code in, trying his best to ignore the crashing noise and the triumphant roars that echoed from further down the building by the entrance. Arnolds took position with his rifle facing the door, and Iraxin could see that he was practically shaking with pent up terror and adrenaline. He knew that he could only send it out once, and a general distress signal might not make it. There was one person who he knew that he had to send it to.

As the door opened and the Yahg burst in to tear them to shreds, a distress call and a message of garbled yelling was sent though the comm. bouys floating throughout the galaxy and all the way to one specific ship.

Mere minutes after it was sent, it reached the ears of one specific individual.

“Joker, change our course, Malleus Scandarum ordered. “We’re needed at the Citadel,”
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Gaius Marius » Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:09 am

I have this feeling that Samara is going to try and kill Malius at some point, like in a 'You're needed for the current crisis, but after its over you're going to be the next one' kinda way.

Also a bio ship? Rachni then? Or more Tyranical?
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby ConfusedFool » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:48 am

I wanted Malleus to say this: "Ah, the Citadel a station under attack and desperately in need of help, we have dismissed this claim". That place always did strike me as strangely heretical, especially the elevators.

In addition, I have a distinct feeling that a certain Dragon Age crossover is not being worked on *Sadface*........
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Tue Aug 16, 2011 8:53 am

Gaius Marius wrote:I have this feeling that Samara is going to try and kill Malius at some point, like in a 'You're needed for the current crisis, but after its over you're going to be the next one' kinda way.

Also a bio ship? Rachni then? Or more Tyranical?

Well, at the moment, actually, she's largely ignorant of his true nature and that of the Imperium (something the marines have been purposefully vague about) and Malleus hasn't been quite so evil as he has been in the Imperium, namely because there hasn't been quite as much opportunity to massacre the populations of 'heretical' planets on account of him not having himself an army of equally devoted fanatical psychopaths at his back. In fact, from what she knows, the Astartes are essentially a Lawful Good organisation not disimilar to the Justicars. Just goes to show what little she knows...

Also, the bioship thing is actually proper Mass Effect Canon(!), called the Leviathan of Dis, and has this entry when you scan the planet Jartar in ME1.

The Leviathan of Dis is the name given to a gigantic corpse that disappeared from a crater on Jartar in 2163. It is believed to be the remains of a genetically engineered starship and its age was originally placed at nearly a billion years old.

Unfortunately, there was little time to study and uncover the true nature of this mysterious find. Not long after its discovery by a batarian survey team, a batarian dreadnought visited the Dis System, after which the Leviathan mysteriously disappeared. The batarians have since strenuously denied that the Leviathan existed at all. They become even more vocal when shown documentation of the Leviathan by salarian researchers before its disappearance.

So yeah, it's a fairly minor piece of background which is easily missed, but I can see the Batarians getting their grubby mitts on it and refitting it for their own purposes. And now, with the Reapers calling the shots, their giant Icthyosaurus in space is going to be ruining the days of those on the Citadel.

Confused: Heretical as it is, it's still important to the war, and if Malleus wants to bring about the New Imperium then he's going to need it.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:48 pm

Chapter 37-Lady Machtoro

They hit with the force of hurricane, and Yamzarat Machtoro had no choice but to stand there and let their fire slam into his shields. Overload warnings screamed in his cockpit, alarms blaring alerts in a language that had not been spoken for aeons, before Tali silenced them with a command from her console and ordered, in a voice of steel calm; “Yamzarat Machtoro, get out of there now.”

“That is cowardice, Lady Machtoro,” the god machine protested, even as he returned fire with his railgun.

“You are forgetting who is in charge, Yamzarat Machtoro,” Tali replied, firmness built into her voice. “Get out of there or you’ll get us all killed.”

He growled, but there as a rhythmic thudding as he stepped backwards behind a building, putting some barrier between them and the massive Reaper machines that would see them harmed.

“Macjec, how are our shields?” Tali asked as the cockpit jolted with Yamzarat Machtoro’s movements.

“We’ve got several generators threatening to burn out in engineering,” the Polish engineer warned. “We try and run them at full power now and we’ll have no shields for the rest of the fight. Best I can do is shut the damaged ones down now and we’ll need someone to do some combat repairs on them before we can run them again.”

“Lord Mechanist,” Yamzarat Machtoro said. “Your duty calls.”

“Go on, Andrew,” Tali said. “You’ll be fine.”

“I’ll be on his shields if anyone needs me,” Andrew said as he hurried towards the empty shaft that lay at the rear of Yamzarat Machtoro’s cockpit, grabbing the box of tools by his feet. He stepped into empty air before the titan’s grav-transports caught him and propelled him downwards, saluting with a grin.

“Move into the building cover, Yamzarat Machtoro,” Tali ordered, as one of the Reaper machines loomed out of the lee of their cover. “We can’t afford to be flanked with our shields as they are.”

The god machine fired a shield breacher at the foe, the hastily aimed shout ricocheting off its curved hull and slamming into a skyscraper, and the slew of dust and rubble was smokescreen enough for them.

“We’ve got them moving in on a trident movement,” Tali warned, looking over the maps. “Fire-Master Parker, deploy chaff, blind them.”

A great cloud of smoke bloomed from Yamzarat Machtoro’s form as dozens of canisters detonated, spraying a mixture of smoke and particles of sensor-disrupting element-zero dust into the air. The contact map had all contacts on it freeze in place as the data flow to Yamzarat Machtoro from the Geth’s hegemonous mind was disrupted.

“Yamzarat Machtoro, back along the road,” Tali ordered. “Loop round and hit them in the rear.”

“Understood, Lady Machtoro,” Yamzarat Machtoro said. “A cunning plan.”

The cockpit shuddered as he stepped backwards, backing away from the crossroads they were in and moving round to hit them in their rear, and that may well have saved the entire crew from destruction.

From either side, blinded, muted and deafened by the chaff Yamzarat Machtoro had thrown out, two of the Reapers’ Almarach Machtoro blundered out of the smoke and right into one another. Their hulls ground into each other, glass shattering and kinetic barriers winking out, and Yamzarat gave a roar of triumphant amusement.

“Get me a target,” he ordered. “We slay these creatures now!”

“I can’t,” Loggat-Master Yukio answered. “This chaff is messing up your aiming systems.”

“I can see nothing through it,” Yamzarat Machtoro growled, even as the two giants fumbled against one another, blindly scrabbling with their massive limbs. “I will need a target.”

“Dammit,” Yukio cursed. “Alright, I’m aiming it manually.”

She called up the controls, manipulating the holograms around her. The image before her became centred with a crosshair, and she tracked it across the screen before her. She waited, before she said; “Target locked found. Firing for effect.”

The cockpit shook as the railgun fired, and on the holograms before her Tali saw an explosion blossom over the two struggling giants, wreathing them in flame. The fire billowed outwards before coming to nothing, and one of the Almarach Machtoro was down, a column of smoke already rising from the massive hole punched through its armoured hide.

“Confirmed engine kill,” Yukio announced. “Not bad.”

The other engine pulled away from its slain partner, turning to face Yamzarat Machtoro now that the blinding cloud of chaff had been blasted away by the railgun hit.

“Get me a target on that thing,” Yamzarat Machtoro ordered. “Now, before it can fire!”

“I won’t have time,” Yukio replied. “Damn it, damn it.”

“Use the cannon,” Tali ordered. “It’s rapid fire, you’ll hit soon enough.”

Explosions stitched their way across the buildings as Yamzarat Machtoro fired blind, chunks of debris and clouds of dust blasting out into the street before the rounds smashed into the hull of the enemy, blasting craters into its onyx hide and staggering it. It tried to draw its shutters closed before a trio of shells crashed into the metal sheeting, mangling it to a grinding halt. The next shells blasted into the lenses that housed its beam weapons, smashing the armoured glass before roaring into its internal systems and sending a wash of flame blasting out from the inside. It toppled to the ground a gutted ruin, falling upon its knees in a surrender, and Tali checked the tactical map for the next contact.

It was alive with combat feeds once more, a great rash of red contact markers along the southern flank indicating the Geth’s furious battle with the Reaper forces. Much larger markers, marked with some rune written in the Askriit tongue, indicated the position of the enemy god machines; blinded to his presence by the immense burst of smoke and dust vomited forth by his chaff canisters, they had spread out in a search pattering, and if it had not been that their two brethren had been muted by their blundering into the cloud of eezo dust then there was no doubt they would have descended upon Yamzarat Machtoro.

Beneath her mask, Tali smiled. It was time to turn the table on the enemy.

One of the foe had broken out of formation, and judging by the warnings coming in from Geth neural chatter it was ravaging the synthetic forces along the eastern tip of the flank. The rest were already circling round, feeds of Yamzarat Machtoro’s position sent to them by the Reaper drones that circled above, but their prey was separate from the pack. If they could cut if off they might have a chance at taking it out before its allies arrive.

She gave the orders, Yamzarat Machtoro roaring in approval as he set out, each step propelled by his endless fury and bloodlust, raw eagerness to kill driving him forwards. He homed upon the lone engine inexorably, concrete cracking beneath his strides, before he stepped into the street behind it.

“Target acquired,” Yukio announced. “Fire a standard round, full power with the cannon.”

Yamzarat Machtoro opened fire, shots rippling against its shields, and Tali asked; “Shouldn’t we try the shield piercers?”

“Those are only good when we’re fighting it head on,” Yukio replied. “Hull’s too thick, otherwise. Besides, in streets this narrow it’s too wide to turn easily. We’ve got plenty of firing time.”

Yamzarat Machtoro fired, pumping shells and railgun slugs into the rear of the enemy god machine as it tried to turn, limbs smashing against the buildings as it tried to turn.

“Sensors telling me its kinetics are lowering,” Macjec called. “Keep hammering it! Wait a minute, what is…oh god brace for impact! Brace!”

Yamzarat Machtoro roared as a god machine thundered into his side, the force of the impact sending him staggering back and crashing into the side of a building in a great spray of rubble and dust. The bridge lurched wildly, the crew thrown from their stations, and Tali screamed in pain as she slammed against the side of the command throne, ribs flaring in pain.

“What the hell just happened?” Andrew called up from inside Yamzarat Machtoro’s engine room. “Jesus Christ.”

“Reaper titan,” Tali replied, trying to ignore the pain flaring in her ribs. “Somebody tell me where that thing came from.”

“We’re by a steelworks,” one of the crew said. “Must have hidden out in there. God damn it, it caught us with our pants down.”

The cockpit rocked as Yamzarat Machtoro’s opponent slammed into him once more, the Askriit machine retaliating with a swing from his cannon. He stepped forwards, roaring furiously as he slammed the elbow of his railgun arm down on top of its hull, smashing it to the ground. His cannon roared, pumping shells into it, and for a moment Tali thought they might kill it before out of nowhere a beam of crimson sliced through the side of the building and into Yamzarat Machtoro’s chest armour.

Alerts screamed at her in a dead tongue as the alloy of depleted uranium, tungsten, hardened, heat-dispersive ceramics and metals that the Council had no name for were melted away by the horrific power of the Reaper weapon. Yamzarat Machtoro bellowed in pain, and Tali yelled; “Raise shields! Raise shields!”

The kinetic barriers generators thrummed into life in the lower decks, raising shields at limited capacity, just enough to halt the murderous barrage before it did real damage.

“Why the hell are you raising the barriers?” Andrew called. “I barely even started to fix these things!”

“We had to, otherwise we would’ve been killed,” Tali explained from the other end of the radio. “Get back up here, Andrew, that’s all you’re going to be able to do.”

“Alright,” Andrew said. “I’m heading up to the transport shaft now. Bring me up, Yamzarat Machtoro.”

There was a silence, before Andrew asked; “Yamzarat Machtoro? You hear me?”

And that was when they heard him roaring.

Muffled by his armour, a roar hundreds of decibels in volume thundered from his speakers, a challenge that could be heard for miles around. He smashed his weapons atop the hull of the walker before him, stamping upon it and crushing its hull into twisted ruin before striding forwards, bellowing all the while. He crashed straight into the Reaper before him, hitting it with the side of his chest that remained armoured. It stumbled back and he opened fire with his cannon, point blank shots raining shrapnel into his open wound, punching holes into the enemy walker’s armour. He slammed down with his railgun, firing relentlessly as he smashed his foe to the ground before raising a foot and sending it crashing down, armour crumpling beneath the immense force of the impact.

From behind them, another of the Reaper’s walkers emerged. It fired its beam cannon, shots glancing off Yamzarat Machtoro’s shields as he returned fire, raw reckless fury meaning he did not bother locking a target, shells smashing across the street as he thundered forwards.

“I WILL NOT FAIL!!” he boomed over the din of combat. “I WILL NOT BE DENIED MY VENGEANCE!”

He hit it with the fury of an avalanche, smashing his cannon’s massive ammunition drum on top of its front, smashing apart the glass lense of its weapon before slamming his railgun into the wound and firing.

The weapon came away in a burst of smoke, prongs mangled and bent by the shock of impact, and Yamzarat Machtoro bellowed in fury as the enemy god machine toppled to the ground. He stomped round the corner, heedless of the protests of the crew or the damage warning coming in, determined to hunt down the remaining titans.

The barely managed to fire before his cannon roared into life, shells smashing around the barriers at its eye lense, and the he was upon it, barrelling into it and slamming it into a skyscraper. The thing thrashed as it tried to rise, tearing at the support struts of the building blindly as Yamzarat Machtoro rained blows upon it with his railgun and cannon.

Beam fire slammed into his flank, wearing away at his shields, and he stepped back to confront the foe that dared interrupt his assault. Another of the Almarach Machtoro stomped down the street towards him, and in reply Yamzarat Machtoro roared in fury, raising his cannon to fire.

Even in his raw fury, some part of his tactical acumen remained. He did not aim his cannon at the approaching foe. Instead the shells slammed into one of the main support beams that made the five hundred metre edifice of concrete, steel and shattered glass stand.

With a groan, it fell, twisting in midair as it warped under its own mass. The Almarach Machtoro beneath it was crushed in moments, armour no match for the immense weight of rubble bearing down on top of it. The other was equally unfortunate, desperately scuttling forwards in order to avoid the toppling behemoth before a chunk of rubble fell from it smashed into its hull, staggering it, before the skyscraper crashed atop it and reduced it to nothing.

Yamzarat gave a roar of furious triumph, before stamping away from the front toward enemy reinforcements.

“More,” he growled. “There must be more! Vengeance will be mine!”

“Yamzarat Machtoro, calm down,” Tali ordered from the bridge. “We’re supporting the Geth.”

“Nay!” the god machine boomed. “I will kill all these creatures myself.”

Tali’s protests were ignored as he stomped towards the foe, his cannon already tracking in search of a target.

“Damn it, I’ve been locked out motion control,” one of the crew warned. “I can’t shut him down.”

“Targeting’s locked me out,” Yukio called. “Damn it, what’s he doing?”

Tali leant forward to the holograms by her command throne, tapping at buttons. Power was diverted, away from weapons and movement, and Yamzarat Machtoro slowed, before coming to a stop. He roared in frustration, desperately trying to move only to find that he had no power to do so.

“Let me fight!” he screamed furiously, the sheer volume of his voice over the cockpit speakers near deafening, causing several of the crew to stumble back from their consoles in shock. “Let me fight, damn you!”

“No, Yamzarat Machtoro,” Tali said. “Our task was to eliminate enemy engines and to support the Geth advance. You’re wounded, your railgun is out action and you’re in no state to take on enemy armies. As your Lady Machtoro, I am ordering you to stand down.”

There was a silence, before Yamzarat Machtoro said; “Very well, Lady Machtoro, I am bound by oath to obey you. I relent.”

“Good,” Tali said. “I want information feeds from the Geth, where we’re needed, that sort of thing.”

She sat up in her command throne, suddenly feeling more confident now the situation was under control, fighting back the wave of near hysterical relief that threatened to wash over her now that Yamzarat Machtoro was no longer on the rampage. She knocked the base of her halberd against the floor of the command throne, snapping the crew out of the slightly awed silence they had fallen into.

“Come on people, let’s go!” she ordered.

The crew got to position as Yamzarat Machtoro stomped towards the lines, and Tali mentally prepared herself to face the rest of her day.

She also made a point of ignoring the small, most likely sane, part of her that was asking why her day involved commanding a walking fortress to aid an army of Geth and when this had happened.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:06 pm

Author’s note: Wow, I can’t believe held off the calibration cracks until now…

Also, 300 pages. Shoopydewapbap!

Chapter 38-Might of a Legion

The Citadel burned.

Fire raged along its five great arms as the Normandy swept towards the stricken station, flames consuming its atmosphere and infrastructure. Its massive white hull was blackened and scorched, and it seemed the only thing that remained untouched by the devastation was the station’s inner ring. In its heart, a small fleet of ships floated, small ones of blocky designs that he didn’t recognise, a few the sweeping onyx hulls of Reapers and one the likes of which he had seen only back in the Imperium, a kind of ship he would rather not see again.

“What is that?” Malleus murmured quietly as he looked at the behemoth that floated in the void from the Normandy’s cockpit. Mass driver fire strafed from the gun decks seemingly hacked crudely from its flesh, before from the Citadel something screamed upwards and into its flank. Blue fire blossomed across its flesh, tearing a great chunk free, and it screamed silently before its pilots decided enough was enough and the thing began to turn to flee.

“I would say it was a Tyranid bioship, but they are generally more similar to gastropodal molluscs in their construction,” Kullas said. “The only organism I can reference to this thing to in comparison to Terran species are extinct Icthyosaura.”

“It is the Leviathan of Dis,” Samara announced from behind them. “It must be.”

“What?” Malleus asked.

“Oh yeah, I remember that,” Joker said. “About twenty years ago or so, they discover this big organic ship in the Dis system, more than a billion years old. Some Salarians took some readings and data and stuff on it, but it was in Batarian controlled territory, they went in with a dread. Next thing that happens is that it disappears and the Batarians are denying it ever existed. Saw one of those late-night conspiracy shows about it a while back.”

“So if the Batarians took it and it appears here now, then…” Malleus tailed off for a moment as he realised what this meant, his eyes narrowing. The next words came out as a low growl; “Traitors.

The next order were brisk and clipped; “Joker, lock onto a signal if you can, get us as close to concentrated C-Sec forces as you can. Samara, Kullas, we’re deploying via the Kodiak.”

“Gotcha, captain,” Joker said. “Activating the stealth systems now.”

“Good,” Malleus said. “Have Gabriella and Kenneth ready the Thannix cannons to fire if necessary.”

“I’ll do it now,” Joker said. “Gotta say, those things haven’t been anywhere near as accurate as they used to be now that Garrus isn’t obsessing over their calibration. Don’t get me wrong, they hit home but-”

“Calibrated,” Kullas announced.

“What?”

“I accessed the Normandy’s systems and calibrated them,” Kullas said.

“That takes Garrus hours,” Joker said. “How the hell did you manage that?”

“Well it takes him hours with his inferior organic brain,” Kullas replied. “Mine is a fusion of the organic and the mechanical, with the strengths of both and the weaknesses of neither, and so is able to carry out such a task in just a few milliseconds.”

“Don’t let Garrus find that out,” Joker said. “He’ll probably kill you.”

There was a brief, reflective pause from Kullas, before he said; “Yes. I can imagine such frustration may manifest itself as homicidal rage with him.”

“You can break the news later,” Malleus said. “We still need to lift this siege. Joker, drop us off on the Zakera Ward; we’ll move up to the Presidium from there. That’s probably the closest we can get without getting detected. Besides, if there’s weapon on there that can keep that abomination at bay then I don’t want it firing on the Normandy. EDI, keep trying to get through to the fleet in the Sol System.”

“I shall keep attempting, but Alliance Communications are still experiencing difficulty,” EDI said. “I am not sure that we will be able to deliver such a message over long range at the moment.”

“Keep trying,” Malleus said. “Reinforcements would help. Joker, get us as close as you can.”

“In that case, we’re probably not going to have much time to hang around,” Joker said as the craft pulled towards the Citadel. “Better get down to the shuttle.”

“Agreed,” Malleus said. “Come, you two.”

“One moment,” Kullas said. “I will join you in the hangar shortly, I simply need to fetch something from the armoury.”

He hurried off, Servo Arms raised above his back like the limbs of some great mechanical spider, and Samara and Malleus were left alone.

“The calm before the storm,” the brother captain remarked as they headed towards the lift. “Heading into combat to deal righteous retribution against a band of traitors who would see us undone.”

Samara nodded quietly, but said nothing else.

“Are you alright, Justicar?” Malleus asked. “You seem nervous.”

“That would be one word for it,” Samara replied.

“Strange, you aren’t usually unnerved by combat,” Malleus said. “Or is there anything else I need to know of?”

“No,” Samara said. “Just strange to be fighting on territory as…familiar as the Citadel, that’s all.”

Malleus nodded.

“Quite symbolic for your people, isn’t it?” he asked.

“As symbolic as Earth is for your Imperium,” Samara said. “Well, perhaps it isn’t sacred territory, but it is similar; a sign of unity and peace in the galaxy. Not to mention that I lived there for a few decades.”

“Really? Whereabouts,” Malleus asked as the lift opened to show the hangar. The shuttle had already been lowered and it had its door open for them.

“In the Koera Ward,” Samara replied. “It was a few centuries ago, back when I was young.”

“I see,” Malleus said. Behind them, the doors of the lift slid shut and it began to rise. “I really do mean to install a second one of those once all this is over.”

Samara raised an eyebrow.

“It is the most irritating thing to have to pointlessly wait while only one person or group of people can use it as a time,” the brother captain said. “Or even better, I shall get a staircase. I’m sure that even Joker would be able to walk faster than the pace that thing deigns to go at. Not to mention it led to Joker having to crawl around in the engineering ducts when the Collectors boarded. Might have lead to some of the crew actually managing to marshal an effective response, or evacuating quickly. As it was, the poor souls were trapped, and the only way out of a corner in a battle is to fight your way out of it. And not even Gaius managed to do that.”

There was a silence, before Malleus said; “You’re probably going to ask me how I’m feeling about Hullen’s death now I’ve bought up the subject of my brothers passing away, aren’t you?”

“What?” Samara asked.

“You’re in the habit of bringing up subjects that seem to relate to matters of the heart, I’ve noticed,” Malleus said. “I’m amazed you haven’t already.”

“Sometimes I worry about you,” Samara said. “You’re too taciturn for your own good, Malleus.”

The brother captain shrugged.

“It’s not my place to get emotional,” he replied. “Besides, if you’re wondering how I’m feeling about Hullen, I feel proud; he died the way an Astartes should, with his foes piled at his feet and an end worthy of legend. Gaius should not have been killed the way he did; an Astartes should not be put down by his brothers like some rabid animal, in unwilling service to some abomination.”

The doors of the lift slid open, and Kullas emerged, his ornate bolter mag clamped to his thigh, holding what looked to be a small grey box in one hand, the other holding a bulky weapon with a pair of prongs instead of a conventional barrel, a cable leading from it snaking into his armour’s power plant, a second one held to his waist.

“Armament for you, Justicar,” he announced as he stepped over the hangar’s threshold. “One of the lasrifle prototypes I constructed. It may be of use in the battle ahead.”

Samara took it from Kullas, pressing the activation stud on the weapon and watching it unfold.

“That will be of great use,” she said. “Thank you, Kullas.”

“It is not problematic,” Kullas replied.

“What’s that weapon, Kullas?” Malleus asked, nodding to the device the Forge Priest held.

“Cerberus Arc Projector,” he answered. “Prototype weapon, designed to combat synthetics and overwhelm barriers, quite appropriate given our enemy. I made a few modifications to make it compatible with my power pack so it wouldn’t require ammunition to be collected, and also improved some of the targeting systems so it would not be quite so imprecise; apparently the original model was somewhat indiscriminate in its attentions.”

“What does it do?” Samara asked.

“Launches bolts of electricity,” Kullas said.

Malleus chuckled at this

“Appropriate, then,” he said. “If that is not a sign of divine providence then I don’t know what is.”

“Captain, we’re coming up to a safe drop point,” Joker said. “I don’t want to risk bringing the Normandy any closer.”

“Understood Joker, the shuttle is ready to drop,” Malleus said. “Send it the coordinates.”

“Sending now,” EDI said.

“Good luck out there commander,” Joker said. “The Normandy will be standing by if you need her.”

“I don’t need reassuring of that,” Malleus said. “Scandarum out; I’ll speak to you once we’re doing saving this station.”

#

“We’ve got more of them incoming! Big ones!”

“Get the heavy MG on them, keep their heads down!” came the order. “The rest of you, keep targets! Do not shift fire, repeat, do no shift fire!”

To their credit, the collection of C-Sec officers, soldiers and mercenaries under her command kept their firing discipline, even as the machine gun they had set up at the barricade boomed into life, biting great chunks out of the cover the Yahg had ducked behind. Shotgun and assault rifle fire sprayed from the barricade of air cars and debris that had been set up, slamming into the shields of the broad shouldered, visored soldiers and the Batarians that tried to push forward against it.

Behind them there was a cracking roar as one of the defence batteries opened up on a dropship that swept overhead, missiles streaking into its hull before it tried to pull away. Smoke billowed from the ruptures in its metal skin, and it crashed down a few blocks away.

“Hope that squashes your buddies, ya bastards!” a human officer yelled at the forces trying to overwhelm them, and there was a ragged cheer of agreement from the defenders.

“Heavy weapon incoming!” somebody warned.

“Aronis, lay down some fire on it,” came the order. “I want that thing killed before it brings the barricade down!”

A deep pulsing noise sounded as a sniper round sped from the buildings behind them, slamming into the neck of the visored Reaper footsoldier lugging the beam launcher forwards. It toppled, and the voice sounded; “It’s down, Second Lieutenant. Moving to a new position.”

“Understood,” Ashley Williams replied. “Good shot.”

“We got a big one charging!” a C-Sec officer called.

“Get the MG on it!” Ashley ordered, the former Alliance Marine, now Spectre rising from cover to open up on a Batarian who was about to throw a grenade. The Mattock she was using barked and thudded, the high powered shots smacking into his shields and forcing him back into cover before he could fire. She pulled the trigger on her grenade launcher and the projectile sailed behind the barrier he and the rest of his squad were sheltering behind; the explosive detonated in the midst of the four-eyed aliens, tearing them apart and Ashley looked over to see the charging Yahg get hit by the MG. Its kinetics lasted only a few moments before the heavy rounds overpowered them, tearing chunks from the dark armour it wore and blasting out great slabs of muscle from its broad shouldered form. Roaring furiously, it toppled before it came near, shredded by the machine gun before the gunner turned his weapon upon the rest of the enemy before them.

Ashley ducked down in time to see the Turian next to her get hit in the chest by a round, gasping in pain as he clutched the wound, cyan blood already beginning to leak from it.

“Man down!” she called, grabbing the casualty and pulling him down, already fumbling for the canister of medi-gel in her webbing. “I need a medic over here!”

An Asari hurried to her position, already with a medi-pack to hand, ducking next to them before asking; “What’s the situation?”

“Abdominal wound, standard round by what I could see,” Ashley replied. “I stabilised the bleeding with medi-gel.”

The Turian in question coughed hoarsely, trying to rise before the Asari restrained him with a gentle hand to the shoulder. She reached to the two poles at her back before pressing a button, letting them telescope apart from one another before unrolling the cloth between them. She place the gurney to hover on the ground next to them, before she said; “I’ll need a hand with him, Second Lieutenant.”

“Alright,” Ashley said. “Let me just-”

“Suffer not the traitor to live!”

The shout resounded across the battlefield and for a moment it went silent, attacker and defender alike shocked by its suddenness and the terrifying wrath behind it. Despite herself, Ashley glanced over the top of the barricade, and it was then that she saw him.

“In all of existence, there is nothing more reviled than the traitor and turncoat!”

Clad in shining white armour, the giant heralded his arrival by sending a Yahg before him, the burly alien tumbling over itself in a mess of broken limbs and shattered bone. Malleus Scandarum, the Hero of Earth, had appeared seemingly from nowhere, and for the first time in hours Ashley allowed herself to feel hope.

“While the heretic may be cleansed and absolved of sin in the Emperor’s holy fire, there is no such forgiveness for the traitor!”

As he stormed forwards into another knot of enemies, laying about him with a hammer and sword wreathed in crackling energies, another Astartes emerged, this one clad in deep crimson plate. In his hands he held a pair of strange weapons, the like of which Ashley had not seen before. He raised them and squeezed the triggers, and great arcs of lightning tore from the prongs at their tips, scattering and jumping through the forces before him, overpowering shields, shredding electronics and flash-frying flesh. Next to him was an Asari, some kind of strange rifle held in her hands; when she fired, a blue beam speared from the weapon, slicing right through shields and melting the armour of a Reaper soldier, before a Batarian that tried to club at her with the butt of his rifle was grabbed in a net of biotic force and hurled away.

“For the traitor, only the cold darkness of the void awaits, to be alone and reviled for eternity!”

A roaring Yahg bulled towards Malleus as he bellowed his prayer, only for him to slam his blade straight into its maw, heedless of the needle teeth that occupied it. It tore through the back of its skull, and he kicked it off the blade to parry a strike from another’s claws, smashing that one to pulp with his hammer. Next to him, the one in red and the Asari unleashed a storm of beam fire, biotic energy and arcing electricity.

“The traitor cannot be forgiven, cannot be absolved! The only wage the traitor shall earn is death!”

The foe were dispatched in mere moments, shredded by the sudden ferocity of the attack on their rear. The last of their number, a terrified Batarian, was knocked to the ground, pinned to the floor by a massive, power armoured boot as Malleus raised his blade. It stabbed down, tearing through the chest of the alien as the power field cooked its flesh.

“Such is the fate of all traitors,” Malleus growled, sliding it free, his power field blackening his blade as it boiled the blood on it. He noticed the defenders on the barricade seemingly for the first time, deactivating his weapons before asking; “Who is in charge here?”

“That would be me,” Ashley said, standing up now that the combat was cleared. “Second Lieutenant Ashley Williams, Council Spectre.”

“I see,” Malleus said. “I take it there is no need for me to introduce myself.”

Ashley shook her head.

“I’d know you anywhere, sir,” she said.

“Glad to hear,” Malleus said. “Open up this barricade, I need to talk to whoever is in charge of this defence.”

“That would be Executor Pallin, sir,” Ashley said, before glancing over to a Salarian on the other flank of the barricade. “Sergeant, organise a detail to let Scandarum through.”

“On it, ma’am,” the almond-eyed alien replied, before barking out orders to some of the soldiers around him.

“After I’m through, Williams,” Malleus said. “Take me to your leader.”

#

The latest supply convoy broke through the Charon Relay into the waiting arms of the combined fleet, frigates and cruisers falling into formation around the lumbering supply ships as they jumped out of superluminal speed. At the head of the fleet, alongside the OFC Knife Edge and the Star of Ilium, the Thermopylae lead the way as it set course for Earth, ready to drop off stocks of ammunition, food, fuel and medical supplies to the troops on the ground.

“Keeps sensors up,” Anderson ordered from the bridge of the Alliance’s flagship. “The Reapers will be waiting for us, I know that much.”

“David,” Aria’s voice came across the radio. “I’ve got word from the freighter crews; they confirmed the Citadel’s gone quiet. No cargo from it either.”

The Admiral muttered a quiet curse, before saying; “Alright, we’ll need to work out what to do about it. Any word from Scandarum or the Normandy?”

“They aren’t with the fleet,” Aria replied. “Last thing I heard from him, his weapon deal went through, and he said he was on the way back.”

“That’s all I heard,” Anderson replied. “Whatever’s holding him up, I’m sure he’s got a good reason for it.”

“Reapers incoming,” an ensign warned from a holo-console nearby. “Hundred thousand kilometres, bearing of thirty two, forty one, seventy.”

“I see them,” Anderson said. “All ships, this is Admiral Anderson. We’ve got incoming contacts on the relayed coordinates; form up to protect the transports.”

Confirmations came in while Anderson began to give orders to his crew, the bridge of the Thermopylae erupting into controlled chaos as crewmen rushed to position. Gunnery crews prepared for combat, while the kinetic barriers drew extra power in preparation for the fight to come.

“Admiral, sir,” someone called. “We’ve got trouble in Engineering. Mutiny of some kind.”

“What the…send a unit of Stevedores down there, restore order,” Anderson ordered. “We’ll need engineering.”

“On it sir,” came the reply.

“We’ve got reports of fighting on more ships,” someone else warned. “Something is happening; full scale sabotage. Holy crap, the SSV El Alamein just opened fire on the Helmand!”

“Get me a status report!” Anderson ordered. “Now!”

“Anderson, what the hell is going on?” Vice-Admiral Timira called. “Half of my ships are in mutiny all of a sudden!”

“I don’t know,” David replied. “I’m trying to get the situation under control. Get armsmen down into the decks if you have to, keep the ships in order!”

He turned to send out more orders to the crew.

“Get me a sitrep on…”

He trailed off as he saw an ensign before him, a pistol in the man’s hand and pointed towards his skull. In the chaos of the Thermopylae’s bridge, nobody saw it until the sound of a pistol firing cut across the bridge and David Anderson toppled to the floor. The crewman in question turned, spraying fire across the room and cutting through his former comrades, gunning down an armsman before he could react, and then pulling a detonator from his belt.

“For the Old Gods and the Great Salvation!” he cried, and the Thermopylae’s bridge erupted in fire.

It hung helpless in the void as the Reapers approached, while around it the allied fleet disintegrated. Ships from the Terminus fleet had vicious brawls erupt on their decks as the pirate and mercenary crews turned on one another, while Turian vessels were paralysed by sabotage and disruption. Asari screamed and writhed in agony on the decks and in the corridors of their spacecraft as their biotic amps were overloaded, while life support shut down and airlocks opened all across the fleet. Only the Geth remained untouched, their collective conscience immune to infiltration, but even so there was little they could do.

Aria cursed as she dodged a rifle shot, drawing her pistol and letting loose with the weapon at the Salarian who would see her killed. They blasted into the crewman who was yelling something about gods, cutting him down before she turned to smash a crewman aiming a rifle at her from his feet with a bolt of biotic power. The former Commando cursed as her crew seemed to turn on her, half a dozen members of the bridge crew opening fire on Omega’s queen even as the rest of the pirates loyal to her gunned them down.

“Arix, Eddick, get down to the decks and restore order,” she shouted at her two lieutenants, the Batarian and Krogan’s weapons smoking from their firing. “Now!”

She turned to the rest of the bridge crew, saying; “Goddess’ sake, tell me we can at least move the Knife Edge.”

“We can,” came the reply. “I can control the engines from here.”

“Good,” Aria said. “Get us the hell out of here, now!”

She opened a comm. channel to the rest of the fleet, before saying; “All ships, this is Aria T’Loak. We can’t fight the Reapers like this; all units are to bug out and go to ground. If you can run, run. If you can’t run, fight. If you can’t fight then, well, pray hard, because we can’t come rescue you. It’s every ship for itself now. Aria out.”
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