The Eurydice Incident

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim, dark future there is only war.

Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby Liber Sanguis » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:21 pm

Well that was a fun few months. It was difficult enough to write anyway, just because I couldn't get my head round what would happen next- I tried one or two approaches but they didn't flow very well. Then Skyrim happened to me and... well.

Anyway, here we are finally. This has, to my immense surprise, being going now for about a year. I'm really wanting to concentrate on other things (try and churn some short-stories out as practice for the BL Submissions Window, muck about with some ideas), but I want to finish this off properly too. Ah, so little time!

Anyway, off we go with Part 24:

***

Part XXIV


(It has been three weeks since we crash-landed on Eurydice. There was no damn Malanthrope, or at least not that I ever saw. Klyst’s ‘safe-place’ turned out to be a subsidiary entrance to a Corpse Cult necropolis. We spent sixteen days in there, in the dark in amongst opened up sarcophagi and broken-open tombs. The whole place was terribly morbid, especially the few open halls in which the thousands of pilgrims were exposed to the Tyranid forms that made them into the disruptive ‘shamblers’ described by the PDF and Guard.

Three weeks has been far too long to do nothing. We had no means to extract the data from Nellorese’s ident-chip. And all the time, I can’t help but consider how the population of Eurydice that had actually survived the horror of a Tyranid invasion would still be alive if I hadn’t rushed back to the Resettlement Platform. I can’t imagine doing anything else- it seems too important to leave to a proxy, even one so competent as the stormtroopers- but it weighs on me still. Not that it will thus influence me, I must add. I am an agent of the Emperor’s Inquisition. The deaths of millions are of little consequence providing my aims are met.

All in all, it was with tremendous relief that we finally received the rescue communication. The five days of travel time were nightmarish- evading the Tyranids, the aggressive flora… all through a disgusting swamp with claustrophobic respirator gear. The rendezvous is in the shell-scape of an artillery zone, the only place with little enough cover for Klyst and Maher’s unit to risk a landing.

They come down in two Valkyrie air assault flyers and to my surprise, a Vulture gunship lands as well. We hurry over- with considerably less vigour than we would have done three weeks ago- and Klyst finds out what’s going on. He turns to me.)


The company is going in on a raid, they’re picking us up here on the way in so that they don’t attract attention. Me and Maher can blend in, but you stand out like a sore thumb and besides, we don’t want you under our feet.

So what am I gonna do?


[Klyst points to the vulture.]


What?

[He pushes me towards the gunship, Maher having already taken my kit off me. The Vulture sits gull-winged and malevolent on the scorched earth. Getting close to the cockpit, I can feel the giant turbine that occupies its midrift pulling at me as it idles. Klyst opens the gunner’s cockpit in the nose with a practiced hand.]

You’re joking...


No. Hurry up: we can’t afford to attract any attention by not arriving at the objective on time.

[I give him a look, then clamber up the footholds beneath the lip of the gunner’s position and fall into the seat to fumble with the restraints. Klyst slams the canopy down and clips it into place, then runs off back to the Valkyries.]


[There is an oversized flyer’s helmet at my feet. I put it on, making sure that it’s properly attached. A vox-modulated voice warbles in my ear. The pilot, I guess.]

I do hope you’re not a fugging liability.

[The Vulture’s engine suddenly thrums up into roaring life. We leave the ground, pivot and then zoom off ahead of the Valkyries.]


I don’t know what the corporal told you, but I am fugging well not happy to have you in my bird. And my bird is not happy to have you sat in her.

What makes you think I’m happy to be here myself?

That’s an entirely different issue friend. I have two rules for you. One: don’t touch a fugging things unless I fugging well explicitly tell you to. I don’t care what fancy training you’ve had, or how good a flyer you think you are, or how good a shot you are, you touch nothing unless I tell you.

Ok.

Rule two is don’t fugging distract me and don’t fugging distract my baby. Now shut your face.

[I shut my face. That gives me time at least to concentrate on the view. Out here in the shell-scape there are fewer Tyranid growths and those that do exist are relatively new and not altering the local micro-climate so much. The result is that I can see for a few kilometres in every direction. Everything is so barren. Here and there are a few twisted wrecks that might once have been trees, now and again a wrecked cluster of armoured vehicles stuck in the mud and scarred by the artillery. After a while, the shell-scape gradual gives way to a Tyrano-secession, where the rampantly mutated plant-life is clawing its way back into the fire zone.]


[Patchy fog starts to build up in places. The pilot avoids them gracefully, passing close enough sometimes for me to see the shadows of explosive spores concealed in the murk. We approach something that until recently might have been a hill. It seems covered with jagged spore chimneys and other Tyranid flora.]


[The pilot pulls back on his stick and we make a fairly sedate orbit of the place, staying several kilometres away. Looking over my shoulder, under the Vulture’s wing, I can see the two dots that are the Valkyries following us.]

Oi, passenger.

Yes?

On the helmet you’re wearing there is a visor. Flip it down.

[I reach up and do so.]

Done it.

Good. Turns out that, against my better judgement, I require your eyes.

Why?

Rule number two! Shut up!

[I grimace behind my visor, but stomach the pilot’s attitude. I had heard that the Imperial Navy’s Tactical Flyers were a little unstable.]


Now, there’s a series of switches about where your right elbow should be. Got them?

Got them.

Flip them all, left to right. And do it with the proper reverence for Throne’s sake. You don’t want to insult something that can crash you into the ground and kill you out of spite. Be nice.

[I follow his instructions, mumbling through a series of benedictions to appease the machine spirit residing in the Vulture. A head-up-display flickers into life on the inside of my visor. A lot of data occupies the extremes of my vision, hardly any of it making any sense to me. In the centre, a targeting reticule floats about. After a little experimentation, I realise it follows my gaze around. Where I look, the crosshairs go.]

Oh, she likes you. [The pilot seems impressed. I’m sure it won’t last.] Now, look over at the objective and throw the lever next to your left thigh.

[As I do so, a grainy pict image flashes up to occupy half of my visor. It shows a zoomed in view of the hilltop, following my gaze.]

She’s letting you see through her eye, passenger. She doesn’t do that for everyone. Next I need you to spot targets for me. Just, say “On” when you spot a mass of critters. Either I’ll do the rest or Vulture will. Make sure you get them all for fug’s sake.

Ok.

[I look over the hill. It takes a while for me to pick things out in the imperfect image quality, but soon I can distinguish Tyranids on the ground. It is very strange seeing them in the flesh, even from several kilometres away. They look… strange, somehow. Maybe it’s the distance making them seem less threatening.]

[I start to mark concentrations of them. There are several separate broods of fifty or more of the smaller creatures clustered in folds in the ground or other forms of cover. All of them are eerily stationary, just crouched there out of sight to anyone on the ground. There don’t seem to be any of the big ones. I finish and say so to the pilot.]

Alright then, time to go.

Purity Two-Two, this is Purity Two Vengeful, beginning our attack run. Alright you, flick everything off, put the visor up and enjoy the show. Don’t fugging say anything, don’t fugging touch anything.

Understood.


[The Vulture continues the orbit around the objective, but starts to circle upwards, gaining altitude. Suddenly, the flyer pivots downwards and dives towards the hill. The nose mounted heavy bolter beneath me thunk-thunk-thunks away, missiles streak out in flashes of exhaust flare from under the wings. The hill disappears, seemingly erupting into puffs of dirt and smoke and dust. The dive goes on for a good ten seconds, then the pilot bottoms the Vulture out, pivots again and flies back up into the orbit pattern. We never overflew the target, we never got within a kilometre.]


Purity Two-Two, this is Purity Two-Vengeful, attack run complete. Good hunting.

Okay, they’re going in. Business is over for now. She seems to like you. As long as you don’t touch anything I’m sure she won’t mind if you talk now.

Fair enough. What do you mean, business is over? Surely business is just starting: the attacks going in.

[I watch over my shoulder as the Valkyries detach from the orbit pattern and streak in towards the hill-top.]

Our part is over. We’ll stay here and observe till they get out. We can call for fire if we need to. But, we can’t do much good.

Why not?


We just expended our entire weapons load, that’s why.

What, all of it?

Every last bit. Save for the reserve on the chin bolter, but that’s for emergencies. No point in all that firepower staying up here is there?

What is the mission then? What are they doing?


The place is a brood-nest entrance. They’re gonna get in close and try to collapse it. Might roll down some nerve agent canisters or some rad-waste down there first, just to try and muck the ‘Nids around a bit.

What do you mean, muck them around a bit? The Tyranids are so horrifically adaptive, they’ll assimilate every bio or chemical weapon that gets thrown at them… become immune.

We know. But that’s just command trying to keep them distracted. I mean, they’ve gotta get the resources to adapt from somewhere right? So if we keep making them use it up then they might run out or something. I don’t much bother with the ground war.

Really?


Oh yeah. Fighting’s to be done up here in the air with my baby here.

How much fighting have you seen then?

Oh, I’ve been flying these stormtroops around for a good decade now. Been through a whole load of scrapes with them.

Oh, yeah? What was the worst?


This place called Murbogen. Dirty little tundra ball, fighting blue-skins. I hate them fuggers. Their tech is so… improper. Right bunch of xenos-techno-fuggers they are, love the stuff. Don’t know how they even get it to work with them being so…

Alien?


Yeah. Worst part of Murbogen was extraction. You ever flown in a rad-storm with a mountain coming down around you?

No. What was your worst flight on Eurydice?

What, apart from this one?

Apart from this one.

[He pauses.]


The Hive. Tchitotry Hive. The place was gone. The ‘Nids got in and we just didn’t have enough firepower to kick them out, ‘specially with all those damn civvies clogging up the streets trying to get away. Not enough space to bring about the proper ratio of lasgun-to-frontage, or so I’ve heard. We fought in there for a month. A whole fugging month, us Navy Tacticals darting about with the stormtrooper boys down there. Deploy, redeploy, evacuate, insert, cover, seek and destroy, cleanse and burn, cleanse and burn, cleanse and burn… and all for nothing. That place was gone as soon as the ‘Nids got through the walls. They’re still fighting in there, still some isolated strongpoints holding on through air resupply… providing the Harridans don’t get the shuttles. Or the spores. Or the biotitans.

Sounds like fun.

Vulture don’t appreciate sarcasm passenger.

Sorry.


Who are you, anyway? I mean, you’re not one of the stormtroops. Throne, you don’t even look Guard.

You don’t want to know.

Fair ‘nough. I can handle not knowing. These boys fugging love their secrets.

So I’ve noticed. What’s going on in the grand scheme of things, then? Now that I’m here on Eurydice, I might as well know what I’ve gotten myself into.

Well, it is pretty much the same as usual. Fly out somewhere, kick the stuffing out of the ‘Nids, fly back. Repeat. There are some big offensives going off here and there, trying to claw back some land. There are efforts to stall the general tyrannoformation before we end up on an alien world. Not that they seem to be working.

The Major’s said something about things hotting up some soon. We’re trying to stockpile as much ammunition as we can.

The Major said that? Major Krache?


Yeah. Ever since he got back to the Firebase rumour has it he’s cooking up something big for the ‘Nids.

Is he now?
Liber Sanguis
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:27 pm


Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby Liber Sanguis » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:12 pm

Ok, two years since the last post (*ahem*), but its back!

I'll be honest, my personal opinion is that the best of the Eurydice Incident lies in the actual Incident itself which has faded into the background somewhat as the sub-plot has come to dominate (making it an ex-sub-plot?). Seeing as though the action sequences of the sub-plot don't work tremendously well within the World War Z style interviews, I may well drop that style when I don't need it (and save everybody's eyes from reams and reams of bold font to boot), but we'll see.

I'm mostly concerned here with actually finishing the damned thing and drawing all the threads together to bring about a suitable conclusion (not that that doesn't mean I can't showcase a few things along the way). The main problem with this is that I never actually wrote down any kind of plot whatsoever and while the basic outline has remained in my head I've had to do a lot of re-reading to reassimilate the details. Its probably been a while since you guys have read it too, so I've stuck a quick part-by-part recap in here.

If you haven't read it all previously, I'd really encourage you to avoid reading the recap (spoilers ahoy!) and start at the start: having forgotten most of it and having just re-read it I can say in all non-egotistical seriousness that it is well worth the effort.

Eurydice Incident Recap

Spoiler: ACT 1

Part I- On board the merchantman Tacher, docked to the Orbital Resettlement Platform, interviewing the Captain Elbel Zsander.

We learn that three potential genestealer infectees were dropped off on Eurydice, over a hundred years before the Incident.

Part II- Orbital Resettlement Platform, Eastern Officers Quarters, interviewing Commander Lukas Ziedlitz, Imperial Navy Attaché to Eurydice.

Highlights command issues with the PDF Orbital Division, which resulted in the loss of the freight vessel Syrith to a fire three years before the Incident. Over half of the saviour pods launched from Syrith are found to be empty on the surface, presumably due to a launch malfunction. Soon after the event a local divergence in Emperor worship- the Corpse Cult- begins to rise to prominence.

Part III- Orbital Resettlement Platform, Office of the Adeptus Arbites, interviewing Denuciator Irlav Torshtein.

Adds some detail to the Corpse Cult, reveals that it was thoroughly investigated but no evidence of wrongdoing was ever found. Reveals that the empty saviour pods from Syrith were found suspiciously close to Corpse Cult necropolei.

Part IV- Orbital Resettlement Platform, Hab Area 17, interviewing Hans Nellorese, an Eurydician refugee and amputee, ex-PDF trooper.

Details about Day One: a joint Guard-PDF planetfall response exercise is interrupted by a real contact. No PDF troops survive to report their encounter, however Imperial Guard troops do. The Guard unit commander, Major Straubing, is unable to convince the PDF commander of the importance of the event and takes a shuttle back to the capital Hive.

Part V- Record of Major Straubing's (Hero of Eurydice) Last Action, retrieved from the Major's personal servo-skull as it followed him into the Spire of Tchitotry Hive.

Straubing's Guard detachment encounters heavy jamming when trying to return to the Imperial Guard garrison in Tchitotry Hive and diverts to the Hive Spire in order to reach the Astropathic Choir. PDF security troops obstruct them and are gunned down. Straubing and his men advance up the Spire, dealing with more security troops and eventually 'mutants' (most likely genestealer hybrids). Upon reaching the astropathic chambers, the guard find all of the astropaths dead and are ambushed by purestrain genestealers. The detachment is wiped out.

Part VI- Orbital Resettlement Platform, Staterooms, the Interrogator is summoned to meet his Master.

The Interrogator brings together some analysis on events for his master.

Part VII- Orbital Resettlement Platform, Chambers of the Adeptus Mechanicus, interviewing their prisoner, the traitor Lord Gyllam of the House of Kuuke.

Details on the aims of the Noble Houses in repressing news of xenos contacts and Major Straubing's Last Action, blockading the Imperial Guard fortress and generally trying to deal with the problem on their own in order to gain more independence from Imperial rule.

Part VIII- Orbital Resettlement Platform, Western Officer's Quarters, interviewing Hans Nellorese again.

As the PDF mobilises and move into position they encounter Corpse Cult devotees streaming out of the Hive towards their necropolei. They also discover deserted agricultural settlements and in at least one case have several of their own men disappear overnight. Also deals with Invasion Day on the ground and how Corpse Cult 'shamblers' were overrunning the PDF rear areas.

Part IX- Orbital Resettlement Platform, Hangar Bay Secundus, interviewing Ebram Maach, alert commander of the PDF Orbital Division fighter wing on Invasion Day.

Details on the broader picture of Invasion Day, especially the first wave, from one of the absent Eurydician Governor's agents.

ACT 2

Part X- Onboard the assault carrier Hersir, regarding an incident taking place on the shuttle passage from the Orbital Resettlement Platform.

Whilst travelling from the Orbital Resettlement Platform to Hersir, an attempt is made on the Interrogator's life.

Part XI- Hersir, Strategium Primaris, interviewing Lord Commander Rove, commander of the Raiding Detachment that first responded to the Incident.

Lord Commander Rove adds some detail on how he discovered about the Eurydice whilst his task force was replenishing and recuperating after an operation against Tau-sponsored rebels.

Part XII- Somewhere aboard Hersir, interviewing Corporal Klyst, who took part in the operation to secure Tchitotry Hive prior to the Raiding Detachment's arrival.

Details on the coup de main operation to seize the spaceport at Tchitotry Hive and free the Hive's Imperial Guard garrison; the Task Force discovering a very active Tyranid presence on Eurydice and the PDF fracturing into Imperial loyalists and secessionists.

Part XIII- Same location, armed men attempt to abduct the Interrogator, but are stopped by Corporal Klyst and his companions.

Part XIV- Somewhere else aboard Hersir, speaking with Major Krache, commander 3376th Stormtrooper Company

The Major reveals that the abductors were from another ship in the Task Force, Verbera and were probably working on orders from another Inquisitor hidden somewhere in the Task Force. This Inquisitor arrived with the Sector Command reinforcements to Eurydice and has been systematically going through the Task Force's archives to delete all data regarding the Eurydice Incident, hence the Lord Commander's desire for the Interrogator to construct his own record. From here onwards, the Interrogator is accompanied by Corporal Klyst as a bodyguard.

Part XV- Hersir, Troop Hold 23, Officer's Quarters, interviewing Colonel Wernek of the Imperial Guard (commanding 2nd Battalion, 16th Brigade, Keiten 23rd Regiment).

Details on the Task Force's strategy up until the Battle for Tchitotry Hive.

Part XVI- Hersir, Troop Hold 23, Hangar 6, interviewing Captain Ernst Abstrother of the Imperial Guard (Armoured Support Attachment, 16th Brigade, Keiten 23rd Regiment).

Details on the first half of the Battle for Tchitotry Hive- the Imperial Guard armoured divisions barely hold off the northern Tyranid pincer closing on the Hive until Sector Command reinforcements arrive. The southern Tyranid pincer breaks through to the Hive.

Part XVII- Somewhere aboard Hersir, a meeting with Wegener- an agent of the Interrogator's master.

Wegener reveals that he can't get in contact with any of their master's network and that their base of operations on Ortygius has been wiped out by a chemical 'accident'. It appears that the instigator is Lord Inquisitor Varius and that one of his circle, Inquisitor Hannos, is on board Verbera removing evidence about the Eurydice Incident. The Interrogator will continue to build up a picture of what happened in order to find out what Varius is trying to hide and take the evidence to the Ordos Hereticus.

Part XVIII- Hersir, Strategium Tertius, a record of a Post-Incident Lecture regarding the Battle of Tchitotry Hive, given by General Tobias Ambrust of the Imperial Guard (Chief of Staff of the Keiten 23rd Regiment).

Details on the second half of the Battle for Tchitotry Hive, in which the Tyranids break through the curtain wall and flood into the streets with a focus on Tyranid tactical advantages. Sector Command reinforcements landing at the spaceport struggle to reach the frontline quickly due to panicking civilians and residual elements of the Corpse Cult rise up in arms to sow confusion. It is revealed that many of the Corpse Cult terrorists are genestealer hybrids with their mutated limbs cut off, posing as PDF amputees. The Interrogator immediately makes a connection, as does a scrivener across the room.

Part XVIX- Hersir, in the corridors near the Strategium Tertius, an encounter with a psyker.

The Interrogator and Klyst follow the scrivener in an attempt to silence him before he can inform Inquisitor Hannos. Before they can, the scrivener is possessed and a fight breaks out. Klyst eventually kills the possessed scrivener and quickly leads the Interrogator away.

ACT 3

Part XX- Orbital Resettlement Platform, an attempt by the Interrogator and the stormtroopers to capture and evacuate Hans Nellorese for questioning.

The Interrogator and the stormtroopers rush to the Resettlement Platform. At the same time, Verbera goes off the air and moves to leave the system- Hannos' pet psyker has broken free and is rampaging about. Half the shuttles leaving Verbera flee to Hersir using Inquisitorial authority, the other half follow the stormtroopers to the Resettlement Platform. The stormtroopers manage to abduct Hans Nellorese before Hannos' men and a quick check reveals that he is in fact a genestealer hybrid. While they try to escape, the stormtroopers are ambushed and Nellorese is captured by the other side. The Interrogator goes after him alone.

Part XXI- Orbital Resettlement Platform, Transit System, Western Magazine (Disused), an attempt to recapture Hans Nellorese leads to an indirect conversation with Inquisitor Hannos, Ordos Xenos.

The Interrogator finds that purestrain genestealers have attempted to free Nellorese and comes across the remains of a fierce battle between them and Hannos' men. The only survivor is removing something from Nellorese's skull when she is shot by the Interrogator, who takes Nellorese's ident chip and a dataslate. Inquisitor Hannos uses the corpse to speak with the Interrogator, but doesn't give anything away before revealing that he has ordered Hersir to destroy the Resettlement Platform.

Part XXII- Orbital Resettlement Platform, an attempt to escape the Orbital Resettlement Platform before it is destroyed by order of Inquisitor Hannos.

The Interrogator flees the Resettlement Platforms as Hersir bombards it. In the confusion, Major Krache assaults the Interrogator and takes the dataslate he stole from Hannos' men. Klyst appears some time after and they steal a Mechanicum saviour pod.

Part XXIII- Eurydice, somewhere on the Surface, inside a crashed saviour pod, conversing with Trooper Maher, stormtrooper, on the current situation.

The Interrogator, Klyst and another stormtrooper called Maher have landed on Eurydice in a semi-tyrannoformed area. Maher reveals that it may take weeks before they are rescued, providing they survive at all.

Part XXIV- Eurydice, somewhere on the surface, occupying the gunner position of a Vulture gunship to provide covering fire for a stormtrooper assault.

Three weeks after making planetfall, the Interrogator, Klyst and Maher are picked up by the stormtroopers as they fly out to assault a tyranid brood nest. The interrogator takes the gunners seat in a Vulture gunship where he learns a few more details about events on Eurydice after the Battle for Tchitotry Hive and that Major Krache is back at the firebase they are returning to.

Liber Sanguis
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:27 pm


Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby Liber Sanguis » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:48 pm

Part XXV
Firebase Iron, Eurydice


(The Vulture skims in low over the edge of the firebase and completes a slow orbit. The pilot tells me that this is so that ground observers can check for gargoyles: apparently they occasionally latch onto aircraft and 'hitch-hike' inside the perimeter to attack the vulnerable ground crew and pilots on the landing pads.)

(I take the opportunity to get a good look at the firebase while they perform their security checks. The entire thing looks as though its made entirely out of rockcrete, with a few prefab shelters studded here and there. There are a dozen or so firing pits for Earthshaker cannons and Hydra flak guns, along with what look like connecting trenches and bunker cupolas. The edges of the firebase look like they've had a world's supply of flay-wire dropped on them- there must be at least a hundred metres worth of tangled, coiled, messy obstacle surrounding the centre of the base. Presumably the bulk of the firebase is underground and the surface has been left as one big, open kill zone as much as possible.)

(I refocus as the Vulture flares out to land at one of the recessed pads in the centre of the firebase. The flyer cushions itself on its landing skids, the canopy opens and I haul myself out of the gunner's seat as ground crew appear out of nowhere to refuel and rearm the Vulture for the next sortie. The pilot gets out to stretch his legs and hangs around to make sure the groundies don't do anything wrong to his flyer. He points me off in the direction of a toothed plasteel door in the side of the landing pad recess.)

(Inside, there is an airlock and a pair of Guardsmen with tired eyes squint at me through firing slits in the wall. A minute later, once an overpressure system has flooded out the dirty outside air and replaced it with stale recycled air, the inner door cycles open.)

(Stood on the other side, in the uniform of a Keitener lieutenant, is Wegener.)

If you'd like to follow me for debriefing, sir.

(I nod and follow him down the corridor. The walls are bare rockcrete with sheaves of bracket mounted cabling running down the sides. There is an abundance of chem-lamps hanging from the brackets too- someone doesn't want it to get dark in here. Wegener takes me to a side room where there is a table and two chairs- like an interrogation room. A servo skull is hovering in the corner. After instructing me to take a seat and closing the door, Wegener goes to the servo skull and removes the memory coils from its left eye socket before speaking.)

We've already got a debrief sown into the databanks to cover this slot, so we can talk freely. Its good to see you.

Its better to see you Weg. After three weeks in the swamps with those two fugging stormtroopers I was ready to start talking to the plants.

(He smirks)

A lot has gone on in those three weeks. Inquisitor Hannos has come out into the open and taken nominal control of all forces on Eurydice and in orbit. Obviously he's got Inquisitorial authority, so everyone is toeing the line.

Except the stormtroopers.

A special case. They spend much of their time unaccounted for in general and they've been careful enough not to leave anything that ties them specifically to you. Hannos apparently thinks that you've been working with your own team the whole time.

Good.

If you think that's good then you'll be pleased to know that you're officially dead, by all accounts. Seeing as though all the saviour pods that didn't get caught by Navy interceptors have been accounted for and checked according to the reports from the surface, you must have still been on the Resettlement Platform when it broke up. You can thank me for that.

Hannos has still got men checking the orbital debris field for your corpse and he's put out an Inquisitorial warrant for your arrest as an added safety, so for Throne's sake keep your head down. He's not stupid.

As if I need telling Weg. How secure is this firebase... from our point of view?

This is a fairly big base- there's a few thousand troops stationed here and given that they're all loyal to Throne of Terra and the Emperor's Inquisition as they should be, there is a good chance that you might get reported. Your face is known.

So am I supposed to stay hidden all the time? If I am I might as well have stayed on the other side of the perimeter.

No, you won't have to hide. We'll change your face.

What?


The stormtroopers have a few tricks up their sleeve for that sort of thing, or so I've heard. The Major has guaranteed that his company will continue to support us until Rove orders them otherwise. And Rove is essentially under house arrest on board Hersir, so...

How is the Major anyway?

(I can't keep the sourness out of my voice. I can't say no to the stormtrooper's help, so I'll obviously have to put up with him instead of just stabbing him at the first opportunity.)

Fine. He had to report to Hannos to explain exactly why he and he his men couldn't be accounted for during the fracas on the Resettlement Platform. Hannos wasn't sure he believed him so they worked on him with excruciators. He didn't spill.

Never seen anyone stand up to interrogation by excruciator Weg. How do you know he hasn't been turned and he's lying to give himself credibility.


Because I was there. Hannos summoned him to the bridge and did it right there in front of everyone. I was busy lurking, but I saw enough to know what was going on. Heard enough screaming.

I'm suspicious Weg. He practically mugged me on the way out of the Resettlement Platform and stole a dataslate I'd gotten from Hannos' Interrogator.

He never did say where he got that from. (Wegener shrugs). He's got his own orders too and he probably thought that you wouldn't make it off the platform. Either that or he guessed that you would have to disappear for some time afterwards and he couldn't wait to get into the dataslate.

What was on it then?

It was full of details of Hannos' operation. Most of it was technical details, ciphered orders, that sort of thing. Some of it was useful, most of it wasn't and what was any good will have been changed by now if Hannos is even semi-competent. There were some protected files, but the slate purged itself when we tried to break into them.

And what if it was a plant? What if Krache swapped them?

If he had betrayed us then it would have made more sense for him to kill you instead of stealing it. For Throne's sake don't go on like this if he's in earshot- we need him and his men.

For what exactly, Weg?

Whatever we do next. In the long run, we need to get you out-system away from Hannos and off to the Ordos Hereticus to report on Lord Inquisitor Varius. Before we do that, though, we need definitive evidence of what's he done that's so bad he's got Hannos in wiping it from the record.

(I reach into my pocket and take out a small resistor-like ident-chip that has been there for the last three weeks.)


This belonged to Hans Nellorese. Hannos' Interrogator was removing it from his skull when I surprised her.

This is from the guy you were extracting from the Resettlement Platform? The hybrid?

(I nod and hand it over. Wegener starts to examine it closely.)

This is a sector-wide model, Imperial rather than local... Minor damage. Plenty of local worlds use them, especially those with a lot of interplanetary links. It should have a record of... well, pretty much everything on him. Planet of origin, interplanetary movements, occupation, marital and health records...

We know all of that about him. (I sigh). All that for a dead end.

We thought we knew all that about him. (He looks up). Eurydice doesn't use this model of ident-chip. They manufacture their own, suitably supervised by the Adeptus Mechanicus.

He wasn't native to Eurydice?

No. He came here from somewhere else and Hannos wanted to get to him before-

Before we found out where. Get that chip analysed Weg, that's our evidence.
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Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby Dark Angel » Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:55 pm

And the plot thickens. :D

Finally reread and caught up with this.

I'm still loving it, too. Keep up the good work, mate!
"I say, Mosley, what is your movement's attitude towards birth control?" Mosley drew himself up to his
full height, hands on hips, and looked the young man up and down, before replying:
"After looking at you, I should think the question of birth control comes about twenty
years too late. Next question, please." The questioner subsided into his seat, and the
meeting continued to a triumphant conclusion. There were no further interruptions.
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Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby Liber Sanguis » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:48 am

Cheers Dark Angel!

Things are a bit busy in the real world, so I might not be churning out updates as much as I'd like to, but rest assured everyone: slow is not stop. Anyway, off we go...

Part XXVI
Firebase Iron, Eurydice


(My face hurts. The means of changing my appearance relied mostly on a series of injections to either tighten up or relax various facial muscles- the result is that I closely resemble a recently deceased Munitorum clerk attached to the stormtrooper company for the duration of their stay at Firebase Iron. Exactly how the clerk died given that he never left the subterranean corridors and offices of the firebase and that there have apparently been no recent Tyranid assaults that have compromised the perimeter is not something that I'm sure I want to know. In any case, he has not been missed, he was working alone under the supervision of the stormtrooper's quartermaster and I have successfully replaced him.)

(It is now a week or so after I arrived at the Firebase and I have been summoned away from painstakingly restapling a damaged section of cameleoline-lamellar in the stores to a dingy side room where Wegener waits for me. As the room is on the stormtrooper's turf, the faint buzz of anti-listening equipment is ever present.)

It's done, I extracted the data from the ident chip and examined it all.

Good. And?

You won't fugging believe it. The chip is blank until it was picked up by the net on Eurydice and it was picked up by a receiver out in the agri-swathe near one of the landing sites for the saviour pods from Syrith.

Ok, so he came to Eurydice on board Syrith. So what? Back when Syrith first cropped up we back-checked its course and logged manifests: it went on a bi-annual route ferrying cargo around the whole sub-sector and we couldn't isolate the original infection area.

But we didn't have the chip then. The chip wouldn't be blank if he had come from one of the worlds Syrith had visited according to the records. Which means that either he was born aboard Syrith and lived his entire life prior to Eurydice there without turning up on the crew lists or showing any physiological signs of long-term ship time or...

Syrith stopped somewhere else and didn't want anyone to know.

Exactly. The last place Syrith stopped at was Ortygia, at which point there were no discrepancies in the crew lists or cargo manifest- the sort of thing you might expect if the captain had stopped before. There were no checks in Eurydice orbit, obviously, because it blew up, so it must have stopped off in between Ortygia and Eurydice.

I've double checked and while there are plenty of systems Syrith could have stopped off at and potentially gotten infected, there's only one that fits in: the Anphelion System.

Never heard of it.

I have. The master was on his way there when he stopped off to check on you on board the Resettlement Platform.

What?

Specifically, he was ordered to investigate the loss of contact with a research facility on Beta Anphelion IV.

And that's where we've lost contact with the master in turn?

(Wegener nods).

And guess who gave the orders?

Lord Inquisitor Varius. Fugging hell.


The orders given to the master gave him a small task force with which to complete his mission, including a whole regiment of Cadians and a detachment of the Adeptus Astartes.

Space Marines? The Emperor's Space Marines? Astartes don't go running around on little errands like this. Either this research facility was of critical importance or-

The orders advised him of the "highly dangerous and possibly prohibited work" going on there and suggested that it was probably being carried out by rogue elements of the Departmento Biologis, but if that was true then why would he want to destroy the evidence that connects that facility to genestealers on Eurydice? Surely it would be his duty to expose such work and root out those responsible? If their research had somehow fed into events on Eurydice, events which have ultimately led to the functional loss of the entire planet, then why would he want it covering up?

Weg, we still don't have any hard evidence here. You can suggest Varius is responsible in some way for what's happened on Eurydice, but we've just got one tenuous link based on a lot of supposition.

I know, but its suspicious and suspicion is all we need for the Ordo Hereticus to launch an investigation.

I don't like it Weg. We need more. There has to be something more concrete we can go on here, we just need to find it.

Every second we spend here now is a second wasted. We need to get word out. Its no good sitting on this and waiting for something better to come along: if we get caught before we can get a message out then-

It doesn't matter how good the evidence is. Alright then Weg, how do we do it?


The Major and I have worked out a number of contingency plans. Either the stormtroopers can smuggle you out-system through orbital security, or if that's unworkable then we can try and get an astropathic message out. No matter what we do, we'll be putting our head above the parapet, so-

(Weg is interrupted by the blare of klaxons. The sudden sound makes us both jump.)

What's that?

The stand-to alert. Tyranids are coming.

**********

Hats off and free cookies to anyone who spotted the now explicit link to the Anphelion Project earlier. Seriously, pat yourselves on the back: it was fairly obscure. Anyone who knows what the Anphelion Project is (was?) now has a few more crumbs of information about what might be going on... including a somewhat unexpected ray of hope.
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Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby Liber Sanguis » Mon May 26, 2014 12:01 pm

Okey-dokey, bit later than planned, but I pretty much know where I'm going from here on so now its just a matter of getting things done.

Part XXVII
Firebase Iron, Eurydice


(Wegener is determined to bring me to Major Krache and arrange my escape as soon as possible, notwithstanding the wave of bio-engineered killing machines breaking on the defences of the firebase. As we run through the rockcrete corridors we dodge munitions teams pushing teetering stacks of ammo cartons up to the firing lines on dollies and teams of second echelon security details equipped with flamers and heavy duty shields for tunnel fighting. Overhead, despite the thickness of rockrete smothering the passages, we can hear and feel the rumble of artillery.)

(Eventually, we find the Major and his headquarters team in a command post. The Major is leant over a paper map of the firebase that has been spread over a table. Bulky vox sets hanging off hooks along the wall squawk and warble at their attendant specialists.)

(The Major looks up and frowns as Weg and I burst in. I walk straight up to him.)

We need to go now.

Tough. You'd be mad to try and walk out and all air traffic for twenty klicks is being considered hostile by the air defence batteries.

But-

Plus we're expecting orbital bombardment support any time now. If you want to retain your eyesight, I'd advise you to stay here.

When's the earliest we can leave?

As soon airspace restrictions are lifted there'll be shuttle relays to bring out casualties and bring in replacements. That's your exit. Getting you off Eurydice is the hard part, Wegener and I have already set up a few out-system options for you once you reach orbit.

(I calm down a little and the Major goes back to his map, making little adjustments with a pencil as he listens to his headset. If there's nothing to do but wait, then I may as well try and learn something.)

How is it out there?

(The Major closes his eyes and sighs for a second, then carries on without looking up.)

The 'nids are applying pressure across the entire west side of the firebase.

Applying pressure?

(Krache sighs again.)

Think about water attacking a dam. It pushes everywhere, but it makes the most progress at the dam's weakpoints. Eventually, the weakpoints give, the water rushes in and the dam collapses.

The 'nids are attacking everywhere to find our weak points. When they find one, they'll focus all their attention on it to try and make a breach before we can reinforce.

When they find one? Not if?

They'll keep grinding us down until we give somewhere, run out of ammunition, do something stupid, whatever. We're taking an order of magnitude fewer casualties than we would be doing out in the open, but we're still losing men here and there.

So what happens when they do break in?

The entire firebase is heavily compartmentalised. If one outer section falls, then its sealed off to the flanks to stop the 'nids overrunning neighbouring sections and the second line is manned to stop them getting further in. In principle, if one section falls then the 'nids will exploit into a fire sack and be annihilated from three sides.

Just in principle?

They fugging well know what we're up to- somehow- so they don't push as much we expect.

What are they doing then? If they're not making any headway, why are they just throwing themselves at us?

Because the Hive Mind is telling them to. Because it can't think of anything else to do, because it thinks it might get lucky... because its trying to keep us occupied while it does something clever. Who knows?

(There's a sudden rumble of thunder from above and the vox chatter washes out with static. The ground shakes so much I have to steady myself on the table.)

Ah, orbital support.

(The Major straightens up and casually scribbles out some of the attacking icons on his map.)

That's that wrapped up then. Somebody apply the sedative, we've got a big job ahead of us.

Apply the what?


(Before I can get an answer I feel a jab of pain in my arm. Whirling round, I see Corporal Klyst stood at my side, withdrawing a hypo syringe. Before I lose consciousness I have enough time to hear Major Krache's voice fade out.)


Thank Throne for that, some peace and fugging quiet. Bag him up Corporal...

(Coming round from whatever sedative the stormtroopers applied is like waking up from a blow to the head. I can almost feel my brain throbbing itself to destruction inside my skull. I also have no idea where I am or how long I was out for.)

Is he awake yet? Come on, come on! We haven't got all day here. Corporal, if he isn't on his feet in the next minute then you're fugging well carrying him.

(I open my eyes. I can see Major Krache and Corporal Klyst standing over me, both of them in naval security uniforms. The background resolves itself, accompanied by the muted drone and oil and lubricant tang of a light shuttlecraft. The gravity feels a little off: we must be in orbit.)

Finally.

(Corporal Klyst reaches down and pulls me to my feet. The interior of the cargo space is neatly stacked with black rubberised body bags. It takes me a moment to realise that I've been lying in one. The Guard must be evacuating all the corpses to deny biomass to the Tyranids.)

The headache will wear off quickly, we need you on the ball because we're onto plan B already.

What?

We were going to be smuggling you up to a hospital cutter for an easy exfil, but an orbital alert has been announced and we're being re-routed to Hersir. That means getting out-system is scratched, but that was always best case-

Wait, why is there an orbital alert?

We don't know yet. It's probably a drill. All I need to know now is whether you're hard void trained.

(I can't help but pause at that one.)

Did you just say-


(The Major glares at me and clenches his jaw.)

We'll never hide you on Hersir with Hannos' goons everywhere, we need to get to the astropathic chambers and get your message out to the Ordos. We've got an easy plan to get you there and we've got a hard plan to get you there, so just answer the fugging question. Are you hard void trained?

Yes.

(The Major abruptly lightens up, breaking into a rather jarring smile.)


Fantastic.

**********

Pacing might be a bit wierd: couldn't think of much to add about Tyranid tactics that I haven't already covered so the part in the CP turned out to be much shorter than I thought. I could have just as easily tacked the shuttle section onto the front of the next part, but figured I might as well lump them together. Anyway, stay tuned for some stormtrooper based craziness!
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Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby Liber Sanguis » Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:43 am

Part XXVIII
Hersir, Eurydice High Orbit


(There are no emergency suits onboard the shuttle. I am unceremoniously hauled up into the separately pressurised cockpit and told to wait. The pilot and co-pilot are both stormtroopers, neither of whom give me a second glance. The amount of effort that's gone into getting me off Eurydice is faintly horrifying, given the risks that these men are taking. Not to mention the lurking, unsettling question of what's happened to the shuttle's original crew. There's hardly time to bother about that.)

(The shimmering blue field that protects the atmosphere of our assigned hangar lights up the inside of the cockpit as we approach. Beyond, the central landing stage has been cleared for arrival. Mechanicum adepts, servitors and refuelling crews are standing by around the edges, overlooked by Naval Security troopers on catwalks. Our shuttle is coming up from the surface, so quarantine measures are ready to be enacted as soon as we set down.)

(The shuttle cruises in, coaxed into tiny final adjustments by landing control and settles down onto the pad. The figures around the edge of the pad start to throng inwards in a well choreographed frenzy of activity.)

(At a curt command from the pilot, the co-pilot reaches up and flicks a bank of ceiling switches. Emergency lights immediately begin to blare across the control consoles, underlighting the crew's neutral faces. Staring at the control panels, it takes me a moment to realise what they've done. They've managed to over pressurise the starboard fuel cell and overridden a clutch of fail safe systems. It won't take long until there's violently inflammable gas permeating the hangarspace...)

(I see Major Krache, Klyst and the other half a dozen stormtroopers in their crew and security uniforms moving up on the left to report to the deck chief and his staff. The Major throws a salute and seems to be trying to say something, but a seven foot tall, red robed tech adept is urgently directing the deck chief's attention over to the side of the shuttle.)

(Following the machine-man's outstretched metal finger, I can see a work gang of menials approaching the starboard side. The first of the workers collapses from the fuel leak's toxic fumes even as I watch, then the others quickly follow suit and join him writhing and choking on the deck.)

(The Major sees, then chops out a hand signal to his men. The stormtroopers rush forwards as all havoc breaks lose across the deck space. Emergency lights start to flash and I can hear klaxons start to spin up and wail. The menials and workgangs start to scatter and head off towards the exits or anywhere they think is safe, leaving behind equipment and braindead servitors who stand unconcerned amidst the chaos. The smarter or better informed individuals on the deck dash for the emergency survival lockers discretely built into the floor. Everyone looks to be wincing and clutching at their ears.)

(The fuel leak has been detected and the standard, entirely sensible procedure for dealing with it is to vent the atmosphere of the entire deck space as fast as possible... before an errant spark sets off a disastrous conflagration. The logic is simple: even the deck chief with his decades of experience and exemplary record is entirely expendable compared to the ancient and nigh irreplaceable systems on board Hersir. The hangar is a large space and would take some time to vent on its own, so the emergency procedure calls for a huge increase in air pressure to create the required pressure gradient for full expulsion.)

(The stormtroopers have gotten to one of the locker banks first and are looting the pressure suits within with disturbingly well-practised speed. The deck chief dashes up to get a suit for himself, but the Major steps in to stop him. A moment later, the deck chief falls back clutching his throat, blood spurting out between his fingers. Everyone else who had been heading for the same lockers as the stormtroopers angle away.)

(Collecting up the suits, the stormtroopers make a dash for the shuttle's rear ramp just as the last klaxon sounds and the force field behind us crackles out to leave the deck space cruelly exposed to the void.)

(The physical results are surprisingly impressive. The atmosphere briefly becomes visible: a thin white mist rushes out past the shuttle in a torrent, freezing and crystallising into a stream of glittering particles as it does so. Bodies fly past- menials, security troopers, servitors. One of them glances off the cockpit with a bang. They are all still alive. It takes roughly fifteen seconds to lose consciousness in hard vacuum, as I learnt during my training. Luckily, you can get a lot done in fifteen seconds if you know what to do.)


(There is a whine as the shuttle's rear ramp closes, then a banging on the cockpit door. The pilot and co-pilot work some switches, then the door opens.)

(The Major, bleeding from his eyes, nose and ears, thrusts a silver pressure suit at me and grins.)


That was the easy part.

Has anyone ever told you that you're mad?

The Emperor stands by the brave. Put that fugging suit on, we've work to do. Strueker, light her up.

(As I start to pull myself into the suit, I can see the pilot powering the thrusters back up. A moment later, he gives a nod and the co-pilot hits some more switches. Then they both get up and push past me to squeeze into the two remaining pressure suits the stormtroopers went out and got.)

(It takes me a moment to realise what the plan is. Working it out doesn't make me feel any better. I only just manage to suit up in time.)

(The pilots have dumped out the remaining fuel, which is immediately seized by the pressure gradient and sucked out past the thrusters... which ignite it. That in itself isn't enough to do anything, but the heat wash sets off abandoned fuel lines and the sub-deck piping. There's a flash, the whole shuttle rocks from the explosion and jolts violently off the landing pad towards the mouth of the hangar. The artificial gravity must have been deactivated as part of the emergency protocols, because the shuttle simply sails away, beginning to tumble.)

(With a sickening, terrifying crunch I feel reverberate through the floor and up my legs, the shuttle impacts on the edge of the hangar mouth. Looking back into the cargo space, I can see the fuselage bend inwards, then buckle. Pipework and support struts fold up and tear away the outer panels they are attached to. As the side of the cargo space simply peels away into a disintegrating cloud of metal splinters and fragments, the racks of body bags start to float away too.)


(Now that the sensor field covering the hangar mouth has several hundred extra objects to track, the stromtroopers start to gently move off through the open wound in the shuttle's side. They have their own local vox links but they are communicating with hand signals to avoid attracting attention.)

(Each pressure suit has a tiny manoeuvring system mounted on the chest and back controlled by a joystick mounted at the hip. One of the stormtroopers gestures that its my turn and I jet forwards smoothly, giving myself a little push to coast silently out into space. Now that I'm not touching anything, there is total, eiree silence.)

(Outside the shattered husk of the shuttle, the view through the debris field is staggering. Eurydice hangs malevolently beneath, a murky yellow-brown orb streaked with gargantuan swathes of smoke. The remains of the Orbital Resettlement Platform have had time to be strung out into an incomplete ring that glitters under the sunlight. There seem to be ships everywhere: troop transports, freighters, tankers, bombardment ships, cruisers, frigates, destroyers, cutters, light carriers...)

(I shouldn't be able to see most of these- even local orbital space is beyond vast and the fleet should have the rest of the entire system to spread out into. Being close enough for visual identification isn't something that the Navy would normally do.)

(Twisting round and applying a little thrust to cancel out my forward drift, I look back up at Hersir's flank. The ship is beyond massive- stretching off for kilometres in every direction. Flying buttresses provide mounts for point defence gatling lasers and rotary cannon while vast banks of macro cannon, particle beams and plasma destroyers sit in arched recesses adorned with chryselephantine Imperial statuary.)

(I can see the stormtroopers strung out as they head towards the hangar's machicolated upper lintel. I give myself another push a drift after them.)


(Reaching the superstructure, I grab on like the others as if we're holding onto the edge at a pool. Sound suddenly reappears with the physical contact- I can feel and hear the distant thrum of Hersir even through the armour plating.)

(When everyone has arrived, the stromtroopers buddy check each other and their suits. Someone- presumably Corporal Klyst, though the reflective helmet visor makes it impossible to be sure- comes over and checks me over too. I give him a thumbs up.)

(Whoever it is returns the gesture, then points upwards, up the dizzying height of Hersir's massive flank. I can't help but grin inside my helmet. It might be a long, crazy climb up to the astropathic chambers, but there's not a chance that anyone on board will know we're coming.)
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Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby J D Dunsany » Sat Nov 22, 2014 9:43 am

Glad to see that this is still going. I know I started this ages ago, but I've been absent from the boards for a while, so I'm re-reading.

The interview style works really well and the portrayal of Imperial incompetence manages to be convincing, entertaining and disturbing. I'm going to make a concerted effort to stick with this. I've mostly given up on published 40k stuff, but this is much more to my liking.

All the best!

JDD
JDD story of the moment: Glory
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Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby The Hillock » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:19 pm

I read all the way through this yesterday having not looked at it before. It's really good Liber, don't give up on it.
Probably the worst WH40k player in the world...

Hillock's terrain thread
Hillock's Flesh Tearers thread
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Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby Liber Sanguis » Tue Dec 02, 2014 11:26 pm

Thanks guys, seriously. Its still kicking (and screaming) and I'm definitely trying to build it up to a suitable conclusion. Its just a matter of making time for pulling together some research, getting my head back around 40k and getting the damn thing written.
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Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby Liber Sanguis » Thu Dec 25, 2014 9:23 pm

Merry Christmas guys!


Part XXIX
Dorsal Astropathic Chambers, Hersir, Eurydice Orbit



(Its quiet. Hersir's main astropathic chambers are high up at the top of one of the dorsal spires to remove the sensitive psykers from the sea of background thought generated by the crew. The stormtroopers and I have gained access through one of the spire's airgates and are slipping through the honeycombed armour spaces surrounding the central nest of the astropathic array and the vital astropaths themselves.)

(There are no naval security troopers, no maintenance servitors... not even any Schola Psykana guards with their shock mauls and psyk-resistant implants prowling the deck. There should be.)

(The stormtroopers slow down as we near the inner wards, weapons up and ready. We're probably close enough now for the astropaths to have sensed us via the increase in background brain activity and given what probably goes through the stormtroopers minds its surely only a matter of time until they start activating their panic alarms. The astropaths are such a vital component of Hersir's long range communications that they should be under far better protection than this. The strange quiet is steadily increasing my sense of unease but what are we going to do? There is not enough air left in the suits to go back outside and we can hardly hang around here waiting for the problem to go away.)

(We reach one of the secondary blast doors shielding the central ward and stack up. I lurk a little further back, guarded by Klyst. Someone hits the door release, there is a hydraulic whine and the engraved Imperial Aquila on the massive doors slowly starts to split apart.)

(The stormtroopers are already piling through, pieing-off the room within and spreading out along the inside wall, weapons aimed inwards. They obscure the entrance for a few seconds as they move in, but I can immediately tell that something is wrong. Beside me, Klyst mutters something under his breath.)

(The doors opens wider and the stormtroopers clear it, giving me a clear view into the central chamber. The space is circular, ribbed by ornamented buttresses and lit by starlight oozing in through vast armouglass panels in the ceiling dome. Around the edges are recesses for different components of the astropathic choir and the arcane equipment used to fine tune incoming and outgoing signals.)

(We are not going to get a message out. I can see corpses lolling in the choir cradles, dead astropaths hanging limp on invasive cabling. There are hundreds of them, all of them with neat red entry wounds between their empty eye sockets and brains splattered onto the walls behind them.)

(The stormtroopers have secured the far doors and have split into buddy pairs to check all the alcoves and sub-chambers. The Major circles back to me. The entire mission is scrubbed. We can't get a message out and now we're trapped at the top of the spire. There's not enough oxygen in the suits to go back outside and climb down, there will be too many guards between us and the bottom of the spire for us to fight our way out. There's probably a response team already on the way up to investigate why there are suddenly so many life-signs registering in the astropathic chambers.)

(Major Krache looks at me for a few seconds, totally impassive. I'm expecting him to come out with something crazy. Instead, he glances over his shoulder to Klyst.)

(There is a bang and instant, crippling pain erupts from where my right knee used to be. I collapse immediately, smacking into the tiled flooring. I'm too shocked to scream. Rolling onto my back, I find myself staring up into the smoking barrel of Klyst's sub-auto.

You bastards!

(The Major sneers down at me.)

Shut up. Maher, get him stabilised.

Why? Why you son-

(Krache turns away in disgust, calling back over his shoulder.)


If he speaks again, shoot his other kneecap off. And get a message through to downstairs. He'll need collecting.

(Maher hurries forwards to administer some painkillers and tourniquet my leg. Everything starts to blur at the edges as the drugs start to take effect. It doesn't take long for elements of Hersir's security team to arrive. Within only a few minutes it seems as though there are a hundred of them in the astropathic chamber. The stormtroopers let them do as they please, let themselves be gradually herded into one of the alcoves. They don't discard their weapons, but naval security doesn't order them to. There's tension. Neither side wants to push the other, but it Krache's men are the passive ones here.)

(This has got to be the Major's back-up plan. We've hit a dead end and he's playing the only card that has a chance of keeping him and his men alive as instruments of the Imperium: me. It doesn't seem like a good chance, but that hardly makes me feel sorry for the backstabbing fugger.)

(A medicae team arrives to take me away. Their presence is hardly comforting: someone wants me to stay alive at least for the time being. They are accompanied by a detachment of naval security troops with red Inquisitorial symbols marked on their helmets and shoulder guards. Shackled to a gurney, my thoughts blurry and viscous through the sedatives, I watch the little cluster of stormtroopers as I'm wheeled out.)

(I realise that this is the first time I haven't seen them doing something. They are totally passive- dull eyed, weapons down or slung, bunched and vulnerable with their lives in the hands of the surrounding naval security troopers- and whoever is handing them their orders. None of the stormtroopers give me a second glance as I'm taken out into the antechamber.)

(We have to wait for the main elevator to come back up: its the only one which will fit the entire medicae team and the escort. Its a struggle to concentrate, my mind keeps wandering. Escape on my own is as imperative as it seems agonisingly impossible. I'm too weak to break the restraints and certain to get a bullet in the brain if it looks as though I might get free. Then again, coming face to face with Inquisitor Hannos and his excruciators in the dark belly of Hersir will make me wish for some hard-round brain surgery.)

(Bullet in the brain, bullet in the brain. All those astropaths, executed. I expect ruthlessness from Hannos by now, but it seems dumb. Without living astropaths plugged into Hersir's arrays he has no interstellar communications. Why shoot them all when he could have quarantined them somewhere safe and only brought them out with maximum security as and when needed? It seems a step too far just to keep a message from going out...)


(The lift clunks into place and the doors cycle open.)


(Someone inside growls for us to clear the way. Obviously the medicae team were not expecting anyone else to be coming up and were ready to wheel me straight into the lift. As they hurry to one side, I can hear the tramping of boots and the clatter of equipment. Its more naval security troops, more men with the red Inquisitorial symbol stencilled onto their armour.)

(As I'm finally manoeuvred into the lift, I see the new detachment line up outside the astropathic chamber doorway. At a command from their officer, they slip magazines into the autoguns and cock them with synchronous metallic clatters. Then they march inside.)

(A terrible fusillade of gunfire erupts from inside the chamber. One of the medicae flinches, making my escort smirk. The shots peter out quickly, trailing to single shots at short intervals. Finishing shots. Just before the lift doors shut, I see the detachment officer emerge back into the antechamber to calmly report in on his helmet vox.)
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Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby Liber Sanguis » Thu Feb 05, 2015 2:12 pm

Part XXX
Hersir, Eurydice Orbit, Via Direct Mnemo Implants


(I am taken straight to Hersir's naval strategium, an armoured sphere deep within the hull fed by vast sheaves of cabling from external sensors. This is where the vessel is directed from in combat- not the ornate flying bridge on the ship's dorsal surface that is horrifically exposed to enemy fire. My escort takes me through checkpoint after checkpoint, bulkhead after bulkhead manned by more of the red marked naval security troopers. They have all been indentured into Inquisitorial service by the look of them, Hannos has them under his direct, personal control.)

(The checkpoints all seem prepared for anything: armoured mantlets have been bolted into place, heavy weapons set up, flaywire nets stretched across the corridors. The troopers themselves are all fully sealed in their suits, ready with their own atmosphere supplies, thruster packs and magnetic boots should the gravity fail or Hersir loses atmosphere.)

(The strategium itself is dark and cold. The only thing I can properly make out in the gloom as I am wheeled in is the hololithic projection in the centre. It is dull blue ball of light, with brighter blue markers and lines showing the features of local space in a sphere around Hersir. There is the cluster of the fleet attending to the assault carrier like a shoal of fish, the solid ball of Eurydice complete with the fuzzy sensor return of the orbital station debris stretched out around it as a ring. The display flickers a little, washes out with static and reforms as the sensor feed stutters.)

(The medicae team wheel the gurney to one side of the chamber and unstrap me. Covered at point blank range by my escort, I am pulled upright and off the gurney onto my feet. I immediately stagger to one side as my ruined leg gives way and I struggle to compensate. There is some dull pain, but the limb is almost totally unresponsive and won't bear any weight. I end up leant against the curved wall, shrouded in the darkness.)

(The naval security troopers don't seem to have any problem with the dark. I can see the blue hololith light glinting from the muzzles that stay focused on me. After a few moments, without an audible command, they and the medicae team turn and leave. The bulkhead door cycles behind them with a hydraulic whine and an ominous, closing thud.)

(All I can hear is the dull fuzzing of the projector. I can't tell if there is anyone else there. There must be: Hersir will have its own prison levels with more suitable cells. Unless someone has gone totally crazy, I'm here for a reason.)

(I take a tentative step along the wall, letting it take my weight. The sound of the footstep gently echoes away. Nothing happens. I take another.)

(Still nothing. I start to slowly, awkwardly make my way around the edge of the chamber towards the dark space opposite the door. The hololith churns and reforms every now and again, stuttering and washing out. Markers and their attendant details flicker and change as the different vessels adjust their vectors.)

(As I get closer, a huge command throne looms out of the darkness. Sheaths of wiring worm into it from the walls and ceiling like invasive metal creepers. They worm into the dark shape of the figure slumped in the throne as well. Its worth stopping, to let all these new details resolve out of the dark.)

(Old, pale, transulcent skin stretched tight over a white skull. Tired, unfocused eyes. A missing nose. Augmetic implants replacing one ear. The body is almost cradled inside an oversized suit of semi-powered armour. The blue hololith glow glints off actuator joints, the pale sheen of artificial muscle and reams and reams of brass and gold decoration. In the centre of the cuirass is the symbol of the Inquisition.)

(It must be Inquisitor Hannos. He isn't moving. It isn't even obvious that he's breathing. I wonder if I can get up to him on the Throne, get my hands behind the gorget and strangle him.)

(The eyes slowly blink and the head tracks round towards me. The eyes fix on mine. He stares at me, old face impassive and cold. He's distracted by something, but obviously the nearby background thoughts of murder were enough to bring a part of him back to the chamber.)

(His voice, when it comes, is a hoarse whisper.)

A little late, don't you think?

Better late than never.

Not when time is against you.

(It looks as though he tries to shuffle in his seat or roll his shoulders, but his suit doesn't move with him. He looks trapped, pathetic. It seems a pity that I can't get over to him with any kind of speed. He coughs, then smirks. Damn mind reader.)

I wouldn't waste the effort.

I've come this far.

So? What good has it done you?

More good than waiting to be killed down on the surface.

So its better to wait to be killed in orbit?

I saw an opportunity and seized it. It didn't work out. I have to admit I never expected you to do something so insane as to murder Hersir's entire astropathic contingent.

Ah.

(He smiles.)

This has the makings of an amusing conversation to while away the time before anyone else arrives. Extrapolate for me.

Extrapolate what? The astropaths were the only way of getting a compromising message out-system so you had them all killed. I take it that all of the other vessels have suffered the same?

Yes, yes. All the astropaths have been killed, no ships are permitted to leave the system.

So you felt that it was necessary to cut your own communications in order to stave off the threat from me.

Do you regard narcissism as a serious character flaw? Do you find it interferes with your maintaining an objective view? What makes you think that such an action has anything to do with you?

Why else would you do it?

Assumption is the mother of all errors. Have you any hard proof that I gave the orders to execute the Astropaths?

No.

Because there is none. I had nothing to do with it. In fact, I was so thoroughly, thoroughly... Displeased with the Schola Psykana guards for their actions that I had them vented to space.

(That's interesting. Assuming its not a lie. Why would the Astropath's own guards-)

Because that is the proper procedure for when any kind of psyker tips over the edge and goes violently insane.

(He smirks again as I start to think about strangling him as graphically as I can.)

So the entire fleet's astropathic contingent simultaneously went totally crazy. And that's why they are all dead.


Yes.

Well that was an unlucky coincidence, wasn't it?

(He tuts. Patronising bas-)

Are there such things as coincidences in our line of work? I think not.

Coincidences like Anphelion being the last port of call for Syrith and my master?

Oh, now we're getting somewhere. And from here we see Inquisitorial complicity in the Eurydice Incident, do we?

You at least accelerated the genestealer cults.

And tracked all the infectees, and catalogued the growth of the cult and measured the pyschic signal drawing the Hive Fleets onwards. It is all immensely valuable data.

It was all an experiment? That was it? A whole world gone, hundreds of millions dead just so you could 'catalog' and 'measure'?


Knowledge is power.

Do the ends fit the means?

Who asks that question to an Imperial Inquisitor? The end is that we have more information on the start and spread of the genestealer cults than we could have ever dreamed of, information that we are already using to winkle out potential infections before they even begin. How many worlds and lives are we going to save with that knowledge? How much of the Imperium are we going to save before the Hive Fleets digest it?

And I suppose throwing the Guard into the grinder was the same was it? Research, experiments?

Tactics, operational details, strategic measures, bombardment patterns, weapons testing... Not to mention the production of a hard, experienced core of veterans to form new Tyrannic regiments around. The Eurydice Project has been an almost unmitigated success.

Your own private little xenos apocalypse to play with?

Its a pity you can do little but taunt.

Its a pity you're a withered mess stuck in a chair, but that doesn't mean you can do anything about it.


You're a smart one, do you really think that you would still be alive if I wasn't intensely busy with anything else? You are a significant, long-term threat to my operations here, yet you're in my presence, surrounded by my guards and you're still breathing? Do you not find that curious?

Its a weakness I'm prepared to exploit.

This is a short-lived stalemate. Interesting to you, amusing to me. If you were physically capable you would never have been brought here, there is far too much at stake.

Who's the narcissist now?

(He makes a weird, rattling noise inside his armour. I think he's... chuckling?)

Its getting late, so lets put it all together, shall we? The whole fleet's astropathic contingent goes insane. You have been stood next to an active hololith projector for an extended period which shows the fleet deploying into battle-formation. I am distracted half by the fact that I am orchestrating said deployment through Hersir's mind-interface link and half by the highly significant fact that I can feel a vast psychic pressure forcing itself down on my mind.

(I can't help but stare.)

You've found the time, found the effort to divert yourself with an amusing conversation with an enemy while-

(The hololith zooms out as Hannos manipulates it to interrupt me. Eurydice shrinks down to a point, the fleet markers coalesce into one, the other planets show up, running on their annotated orbital paths. A vast swathe of pulsing red signatures become visible, spreading out in three dimensions from the fuzzy breach of a translation marker. Like a flock of birds or a shoal of fish I can see them slowly focusing in-system, towards Eurydice. The hololith is zoomed out, we are seeing everything at immense scale, but still the violently red contact is spread over hundreds of thousands of cubic kilometres.)

As you can see, your presence here with me is... Nothing. The Hive Fleet is here to reap what we have sown.
Liber Sanguis
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:27 pm


Re: The Eurydice Incident

Postby Liber Sanguis » Fri May 22, 2015 1:20 pm

Part XXXI
Hersir, Eurydice Orbit, via Direct Mnemo Implants


(I watch Hannos’ face twitch under the hololith glare as he struggles to micro-manage the positioning of the fleet. Cruiser squadrons and flocks of escort ships, waves of interceptors and bombers, all of them hanging in orbit waiting the order to strike. The red blotch that is the Hive Fleet is getting closer and closer, drawn in by simple gravity.)

(I’ve covered the basics of void combat of course, studied past campaigns and battles as part of my comprehensive training. The defining features are incomprehensible distances, staggering amounts of firepower and absolute slavery to orbital mechanics. Any layman looks as space as a three dimensional playground with equal freedom of movement in any direction. This is simply untrue- fighting against gravity is such a fuel-intensive enterprise that any captain who wishes to preserve his freedom of manoeuvre for the future will find himself slipping from orbital plane to orbital plane and becoming an expert of Hohman transfers and gravitational slingshots.)


(Fancy tactical moves of the sort that atmospheric fighters might attempt to gain a positional advantage are rendered irrelevant by the twin simplicities of distance and ease of detection. Unless craft are totally powered down and practically ice-locked or hidden in sensor-degrading debris, radiation or gas then they can be detected by anyone in system simply due because they must radiate heat against the temperature-less background of space.)

(Hannos understands this. The fleet is strung out in a wide orbit, armoured prows and torpedo tubes tracking the incoming alien swarm. The Hive Fleet curves in from the system edge, drawn on towards Eurydice on the same orbital plane. The enthroned Inquisitor mumbles to himself as he coordinates over the mind-impulse links.)


Fire.

(The hololith fuzzes a little as it updates. A flurry of white markers erupt from the Imperial fleet. Torpedoes. Each one is anything up to a hundred metres long, carrying massive plasma or atomic warheads. There is no shuddering as Hersir fires her own- the ship is far too massive to be bothered by volleying her torpedoes.)


(The torpedoes are immediately caught by Eurydice’s gravity and trail off into what looks to be a stable orbit. After a few minutes they ignite their thrusters at a predetermined point on their orbital path and burn clear, accelerating out into a higher trajectory that will bring them around Eurydice and into the side of the encroaching Hive Fleet. A nice little trick to add some extra range to the weapons. The fleet might even be able to get another volley off before it has to shift to line astern to maximise its closer range firepower.)

(The distances make everything slow. Generals fight with the parry and thrust of swordsmen, admirals fight at the pace of a regicide game. By the time the first volley of torpedoes are reaching the incoming red swarm, the second is being launched. As the first white markers bloom and disappear at their targets, the second patch flurry away from the fleet. No delayed ignition for these torpedoes, Hannos has them streaking straight into the Hive Fleet. He has no choice- the aliens are accelerating quickly as the planet’s pull on them increases at a square function.)

Attack craft… screen off the transition to line astern…

(Hannos is wheezing quietly between his murmurs. The sheer effort of coordinating all of this is taking it out of him. Even this close, the Tyranid swarm is still too dense for the fleet’s sensors to isolate individual, high priority targets. The fleet’s fighter and bomber craft surge forward off the leash to try and break up the incoming alien front-runners and provide targeting information on any Hive ships they can spot.)

(At the same time, the fleet’s capital ships are pivoting to unmask their flank batteries. Markers start popping up to indicate which ships are opening fire. Lance turrets are swinging on-target and each ship begins to ripple fire their long-range macrocannons, plasma destroyers and missile batteries. The Tyranids are still a hundred thousand kilometres away, but closing fast.)

(The hololith starts to flicker as the outgoing wall of tracked munitions impacts the leading edge of the swarm. The display simply cannot track so many projectiles and craft in sufficient detail for any observers to be able to see exactly what is going on- the edge begins to fuzz out and blur. I can see Hannos frown slightly.)

(Red pulses streak out from the alien swarm too. They are also in range. Some of the incoming projectiles are intercepted by or wasted on attack craft squadrons, others miss and burn up in Eurydice’s atmosphere as they overshoot. Some strike hits on Imperial vessels. One or two markers grey out.)

(Then the hololith flashes out and dies. The chamber is plunged into darkness. I can hear Hannos stutter out mangled whispers as his mind is hit by pulses of mitigated feedback from the mind impulse link. A narrow shaft of red emergency light seeps in as someone starts to crank the manual controls of the blast door. In a few moments, half a dozen of naval security troops have entered, slicing up the dark with their underslung stablights. One of them reports in to Hannos.)

The power to this deck is out, my Lord. We have short range vox with other units on adjacent decks and they report no problems.

(Hannos looks to shiver under the light, paler and more sickly than ever. He mumbles orders for them.)


…the secondary strategium… we need to get there… now

(The troopers move rapidly, unplugging him from the command throne and helping him towards the door. Two of them illuminates me with his stab light and keep their weapons trained on me. He quickly regains control of his powered armour and is able to let it support and move him, lengthening his paces and marching out of the door. He calls back without looking round.)

The prisoner comes with us.
Liber Sanguis
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:27 pm

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