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

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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 61)

Postby librisrouge » Thu Oct 30, 2014 10:00 pm

More loss, more suffering. Sad, but it seems as if the worst is yet to come for the poor Fatemakers. Just as this setting requires. Well done.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 61)

Postby Meaneye » Sun Nov 09, 2014 2:42 am

Hmm... this is a somewhat shorter update than what I usually upload, but this seems to be the appropriate place to break up the story.

‘Scan the region.’

Malistrum turned back and looked at the crew with a fierce determination which was almost frightening.

‘Scan everything,’ he repeated. ‘I want to find the reserve fleet. Check the vox-frequencies, look for energy signatures, metal alloy concentrations, anything you can think of.’

He watched with a grim face as the crew obeyed. There was no turning back now: whatever he had bought with the lives of his people so far was waiting for them, and he wanted to at least look into the eyes of his former Chapter-Master before he perished.

‘There are… some energy signatures ahead of us, my lord,’ one serf said hesitantly. ‘But the signals don’t add up.’

Malistrum stepped next to him and leaned onto the console.

‘How so?’

The serf tried to lean away from the Astartes as he got in the way. ‘My lord… may I?’ He pointed at the console, and now the Captain saw what he was talking about. There were faint plasma signatures in front of them, a clear indication of Imperial ships passing by, but the signals were too much dispersed. There was enough energy left out there to indicate that the ships had been there not a long time earlier. On the other hand, the signals engulfed an unusually wide area of space. There were supposed to be two ships left even after the death of the Chad-Okhlam, but this still did not explain these returns.

‘The traces are all concentrated around a very large portion of space,’ the serf remarked, and Malistrum nodded. ‘They could be our ships, but…’

Malistrum pushed himself away from the console. ‘Bring us closer,’ he ordered the helmsman. ‘Plot a course which would put us between the energy traces and the Warp anomaly.’

The serfs exchanged looks, but they had no better idea. The Captain sat back in his seat, folded his arms and waited as the ship made a soft rumble and changed course.

Five minutes passed. Malistrum could not see through the closed window panels, which he hated. The bridge had the instruments to scan the surrounding area, but he was too old-fashioned not to miss actual visual contact. The Opportunity was not flying blind: it only felt so. For what he was about to do, however, he needed to see with his own eyes.

‘My lord?’

Malistrum did not answer, and the serf hesitated. He did not feel like disturbing his commander in his dark mood.

‘We… have arrived at the coordinates, my lord.’

Malistrum closed his eyes. ‘Do we detect concentrated metal in front of us?’ he asked.

The serf hesitated. ‘We do, my lord, but the signals are too disper…’

Malistrum broke in. ‘Are we facing away from the anomaly?’

‘We do, my…’

Malistrum opened back his eyes. ‘Open the window panels.’

There was a moment of silence. The crew remembered the Captain’s orders to keep the panels closed at all times, and they also knew why this was necessary. Looking directly into a Warp-rift – especially this Warp-rift – was unimaginably dangerous. Nevertheless, the world of the Captain was law.

The panels rose, and the cabin was immediately bathed in sharp purple light. Normally, this was not the colour which most people associated with dread, but these were not normal circumstances, and all instincts of the crew screamed danger just by feeling the light touching their skin.

The space in front of them was not empty. Even under these visual conditions, the serfs could see tiny metal objects drift around the Opportunity. The light of the Warp-rift gleamed on the objects, producing various shades of reflections: deep blue, light pink and everything in between.

The objects themselves were irregular in shape and size, except for a few recognisable parts. The crew could make out large slabs of spaceship plating, gigantic metal frames normally separating crew decks and what appeared to be the rear Warp-engine of a cruiser-sized Imperial vessel.

The ships were dead. Somebody or something had destroyed the renegade Fatemaker fleet before Strike Force Four could arrive. Chapter-Master Fiffito and his men were all dead.

The Chapter had made another step along the circle.

There was total silence on the bridge. Not for the first time since the Extinction, the strike force encountered something which it was not prepared for in any way. One by one, the serfs turned back and looked at their Captain.

Malistrum was frozen in his seat. He looked at the carnage beyond the viewport with impassionate eyes, ignoring the crew altogether. Then, slowly, he raised his hand and gently rubbed his forehead.

His fingers were trembling slightly.

‘I will need three minutes to think,’ he finally said.

This was the longest three minutes in everybody’s life on the bridge. The Captain was sitting quietly in his chair, his fingers still pressed against his forehead. Nobody dared to say anything. They watched as the trembling in Malistrum’s fingers continued. The serfs did not even dared to broke their eyes away from their commander: they were simply sitting, immobile, waiting for the man they had trusted their life with to make his decision about what was out there.

In the end, the trembling gradually ceased. Malistrum sighed loudly, took his fingers away from his forehead and stood up.

‘Open a general vox frequency and broadcast with maximum energy,’ he said.

The crew obeyed hastily. The vox-controls turned on, and the Captain stood up from the seat.

‘Not too long ago,’ he started, ‘somebody told me that there is only one thing in creation which could definitely destroy an Astartes vessel, and that something is another Astartes ship. There were two Astartes ships here, but I see both of them in front of me. One destroyed vessel would not make this debris field in herself.’

He waited. The vox remained silent, and so he continued.

‘There is a third ship here. A brother ship. A Fatemaker ship which destroyed the reserve fleet and killed Chapter-Master Fiffito.’

He stopped again for a second, waiting for an answer.

‘You are hiding from us,’ he stated. ‘You have deactivated your engines and are now drifting on minimal energy. Come out from hiding. Turn on the energy and show yourself. We are not leaving from here. We have time to wait for you.’

He waited patiently. The crew also waited, somewhat more nervously than the Captain. The serf in front of the vox-console wiped his forehead, exhaled and reached for the console to adjust something.

The vox creaked and the serf yanked his hands away.

‘I imagine you are right, Malistrum,’ a voice said. ‘Forgive me. It was childish of me to try to hide.’

‘My lord, a ship is powering up her engines below us,’ the serf at the sensors announced.

Malistrum’s eyes narrowed. The ship was no news to him, but the voice was. He knew who it belonged to, but he would have never imagined that he would meet him again in this life.

‘Narmantu,’ he murmured.

Captain Narmantu of Strike Force Seven smiled as he looked out of the viewport at the Opportunity. The purple light bathed the bridge in ghastly shades and images, but he did not notice. The Warp-rift seemed to be burning in his peripheral vision, but he never even flinched. He fixed his eyes firmly upon the other vessel above them.

‘I was not expecting you here, Captain,’ he said, ‘but it seems that the Emperor is smiling on us today. I believe the two of us have things to discuss.’
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 62)

Postby qah » Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:12 am

bruhhhhhh it never ends.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 62)

Postby The Hillock » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:40 pm

qah wrote:bruhhhhhh it never ends.

This is a good thing.
Probably the worst WH40k player in the world...

Hillock's terrain thread
Hillock's Flesh Tearers thread
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 62)

Postby Meaneye » Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:01 pm

Happy New Year, everyone!

I am not making progress as fast as I want, but we will get to the end of this story eventually. In fact, we are nearing the end - although there will still be some tense moments before the fat lady sings...

'Of all the people I know,' Malistrum said into the vox, 'you are the last one I expected to meet here.'

There was a soft chuckle on the other side of the voxline. 'I can very well understand it, Malistrum.'

The Captain's mind was racing, even though his voice was carefully neutral. He was saying the truth. He was not expecting anyone in the system, let alone another fellow strike force. Let alone Strike force Seven and Narmantu Alhandra.

There was bad blood between the two forces, mainly on professional grounds on Malistrum's part and ethical grounds on Narmantu's. Strike Force Seven had always had an air of religious fervour around it, first appearing three captains earlier, then multiplied tenfold in the current commander. Narmantu had increased the number of serving Chaplains in his force and preached an operation ethic with close resemblance to the Monodominant philosophy which a large portion of the sector's priesthood was so fond of. Malistrum had no problem with that, or, rather, he was not interested in it. His problem was the fact that Narmantu, by his rigid, close-minded way of thinking, outright refused to apply some of the resources he had at his disposal. He tolerated the Chapter Librarians well enough, but he deeply mistrusted all other Imperial psykers, he regularly refused to deal or even communicate with the Imperial military, and he even kept distance from the Inquisition. He was also impatient and unnecessarily aggressive and tended to solve conflicts with overpowering force instead of precise tactical strikes, which eventually left his operating theatres devastated and weakened. This was not the way Malistrum conducted his missions at all, and the few times the two captains actually met usually ended in heated debates over this.

Narmantu's objections, on the other hand, were essentially based on a lack of piety and purism on Malistrum's part. He considered the way Strike Force Four actively seeked out the help of non-Chapter personnel and especially the way Malistrum took in an Ogryn contingent as open provocation or, even worse, heresy. The only reason why he had not pressed charges against Malistrum with the Chapter-Master was the fact that he had similar problems with most other strike forces. Narmantu was chronically intolerant towards any opposing view and so was really unpopular within the Chapter.

And now here he was. A whole sector away from their home, bathed by the cursed light of a Warp-anomaly, amidst the wreckage of the main Chapter fleet, the two captains faced off once more.

Malistrum did not need to think a lot about who destroyed the fleet. In fact, the fleet and Chapter-Master Fiffito were no longer his concern. They were all dead, and so his mission was over. However, it was Strike Force Seven which destroyed Fiffito, and that disturbed him to no end. His own Chapter going renegade and rampaging through the Galaxy… that was bad. His fleet destroyed by the one other battle-brother he did not like, who was also a religious fanatic in a now godless age… this was perhaps worse.

‘Let me guess,’ Malistrum went on. ‘You went to Vault Double-Oh-Three and found out where the reserve fleet went.’

‘I did something more than that,’ the answer came. ‘I went to Vault Double-Oh-Three and found your message.’

‘Oh.’ Malistrum was surprised. ‘This meant that we started this race before you, and yet you beat us to the fleet.’

‘The Galaxy is big,’ Narmantu said, ‘and there are a lot of possible routes here.’

‘’I see.’’ Malistrum slowly went back to his command seat and sat down. He spoke with deliberate slowness now, carefully considering every word. ‘At least there is hope then that the rest of the Chapter will catch up with us.’

‘Sadly, that won’t be the case,’ Narmantu answered.

‘What do you mean?’

‘I have never liked the idea of leaving the Chapter reserves and databanks hidden outside our reach. We have talked about this, I believe.’

More like shouted about it. Malistrum remembered that debate. Narmantu’s reasons were mostly solid in that argument, but the way he presented his case in front of his available fellow Captains was intolerable. He made no secret of the fact that had it been up to him, he would have demolished the whole outpost.

Then Malistrum suddenly understood. He now saw what had happened at Vault Double-Oh-Three. He remembered the layout of the Vault, the things they used to store then and he now knew not only what Narmantu had done there but also how he had managed to destroy the reserve fleet.

‘You took the nuclear arsenal from the Vault, and you blew up everything else,’ he stated.

‘A necessary precaution. The Vault was too exposed now that the Chapter was not permanently stationed to defend it. Surely you understand? It had backup databanks of all our Chapter’s history. In fact, it had the only complete updated databank. Secrets, weaknesses… that place was no longer an option.’

Malistrum found himself swallowing.

‘If you have destroyed the Vault, the rest of the fleet…’

‘Will not be able to follow us, even if they make it to the Vault. Yes, that’s unfortunate as well. Still, there is always a price to pay for everything, even security.’

Malistrum closed his eyes. Names and faces appeared in front of him: faces of commanders and battle-brothers from other strike forces, names of famous ships and squad designations. People whom he would never see again. Akichi – the Future Akichi – was absolutely correct. The Chapter had failed completely and shamefully.

‘How did you get here so fast?’ he finally asked. His voice was calm and low. His crew tensed. They knew he was in a foul mood.

‘It was not easy,’ Narmantu smiled.

He was sitting in his own command chair, leaning comfortably back. His gaze never left the sight of the other ship beyond the viewport. The Wrath of God was standing motionless below the plane of the Opportunity, but she was close enough to allow clear view of the vessel. He felt the reassuring presence of Chaplain Üscüge behind him just as he felt the discipline of his crew as they were waiting for his instructions.

He was as close to contentedness as he could these days. He was not expecting the Opportunity or any other brothers to arrive, but now that he saw Malistrum’s ship, he felt this was a sign from the Emperor Himself. To think some heretics claimed He had died! In the first month of the recent chaos, he had burnt whole cities for these ridiculous rumours, but that had been before he realized the true meaning of these calamities. He had found his path, even though darkness seemed to engulf the Galaxy, and now here he was: away from home, strengthened by trials and tribulations, and the God-Emperor was still speaking to him.

Even if the messenger of the word of God was a somewhat… undesirable person.

‘It was not easy,’ he repeated himself, ‘but like everything else in life, it was only a matter of sacrifice. My Astropaths died when the psychic shockwave swept over my ship, but I still had my Librarians. Their combined power was enough to cast a strong divination to determine the fastest Warp-route to this place.

There was a moment of silence on the other side of the vox-line, possibly the result of transmission delay.

‘Such a divination would burn out even a group of Astartes Librarians. Did any of them survive?’

‘None,’ Narmantu shook his head even though Malistrum could not have seen it.

‘They made the ultimate sacrifice to you,’ the Captain of Strike Force Four stated after a while.

Narmantu smiled again. It was good to know that his fellow Captain would understand him.

‘They did. But do not think for a second that I am not grateful to you. I would have never been able to give them a focus if I had not received your message down at the Vault. Oh, I must confess,’ he went on in a relaxed, conversational tone, ‘I was really angry at first. I went to the Vault to find answers, and all I got was another mystery. The reserve fleet went to Terra, but why? Why abandon their duty? I cursed you for a lack of explanation first, but I now know that you did everything you could. It was simply that I was more suitable to the task at hand, which is why the Emperor allowed me to get here on a shorter route.’

There was another moment of silence.

‘When did you arrive here?’ Malistrum’ voice came through the vox in a monotonous tone.

‘About two days ago,’ Narmantu admitted. ‘You can imagine my surprise when I saw your arrival literally at my heel. You barely missed the battle. I’m glad it happened this way. I managed to mete out justice myself here.’

‘The Emperor… truly was smiling on you, Narmantu. Did you manage to speak with the Chapter-Master before the fight broke out?’

‘I had a conversation with him,’ Narmantu sighed. ‘If you can call that a conversation. I called him out on his dereliction of duty. He refused to acknowledge any responsibility for that. He started to explain why he set out in the first place, he told me about Berzevitz – do you know what happened to him?’

‘I do,’ Malistrum’s voice answered. ‘I saw what remained of the Chad-Okhlam.’

‘Oh,’ Narmantu answered. Then he shrugged. ‘Served him well, of course. He dared to claim that the Emperor was dead. Dead! Can you imagine it?’

‘I saw… a recording of a debate between him and the Chapter-Master,’ Malistrum said. ‘I believe Fiffito tried to intimidate you with brute force, just like he tried to intimidate Berzevitz?’

Narmantu snorted. ‘He locked the weapons of his ship when our argument got a little heated. He only got what he deserved. The heretic got what they deserved, the traitors burned in their own fire, the weak tried to flee, but they burned too… only the two of us remain, brother.’

There was a slight pause.

‘I came here to face our Chapter-Master,’ the Captain of Strike Force Four finally said. ‘I did not think beyond that because I did not expect to survive the encounter. I assume you have plans of how we should continue.’

‘I do,’ Narmantu stated. ‘We are still Space Marines. We have our duty to the Emperor and the Imperium.’

‘The Emperor,’ Malistrum repeated. ‘Narmantu, I hope you realize that we cannot carry on with our original mandate? Not after all this.’

‘Of course I do,’ Narmantu smiled. ‘I am not blind, brother. Fiffito thought that he was doing the right thing, but he committed heresy the moment he decided to set out for Terra. He saw the psychic attack and he thought that the Emperor could have been threatened by it. Nothing can threaten Him. Nothing! This was an obvious Chaos attack, and it worked because it didn’t simply cut communication within the Imperium, it also planted doubt in the hearts of every weak man – even in weak Astartes. Fiffito had doubts. He did not say it, but deep in his heart, he feared the Emperor might be dead. He failed this test of faith. I am glad I am the one who could carry out the Emperor’s punishment on him.’

‘That you did,’ Malistrum admitted. ‘So where does this leave us?’

He sounded uncharacteristically calm and supportive, which Narmantu took as a good sign. He expected confrontation and there was even a possibility of having to destroy the Opportunity as well. ‘Why, the future is waiting for us, my brother. I intended to do this anyway, but the two of us would have an easier time with it.’

‘Are you talking about rebuilding the Imperium?’

Narmantu shook his head disapprovingly. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, Malistrum. The Imperium is too big for us, and it has never been our mandate to build anything. We are good at fighting, and the Galaxy needs fighters now. The two of us will be enough to…’

‘To enforce law again,’ Malistrum interrupted. ‘And to punish the unworthy.’

Narmantu slammed his fist on the arm of his seat. He understood! Malistrum got it. He, the one Narmantu would have accused of heresy in the first place was eventually the one who saw the true path.

‘Yesss! To enforce and punish. Chaos has won a great battle, make no mistake. The Imperium proved to be weaker than I have ever imagined – and believe me, I never had a high opinion of humans. All it took was a psychic assault on our Astropaths, and everything fell apart. Oh, if you had only seen what I saw while travelling here! Governments collapsed, military units turning on each other, lawlessness and heresy everywhere! I had my mission, I was following Fiffito’s trail, but the more I saw the surer I was that the imperium was ready for a great purge. This is our new mandate, brother!’ forget the Malachias Sector, I am talking about a new crusade! A crusade of the righteous! Who better to start it than the true sons of the Emperor? He started the Great Crusade with a million Astartes warriors. We can do the same! We need to find and unite all the various Space Marine Chapters. They would follow us, believe me. Everyone is leaderless. Nobody knows what to do, who to follow. If we unite them, we will have the basis for a force not seen since the days before the Emperor’s ascension. Can you imagine it? Brother, can you imagine what a million Space Marines could do to the Galaxy?

Malistrum could he could really imagine what a million Space Marines could do. He saw just what devastation a single Chapter – his own Chapter – was capable of. Multiply it by a thousandfold, and…

Narmantu was right. A strong and charismatic leader would gain followers in this chaos, and Narmantu had the zeal to provide guidance to warriors who took fanaticism and war as the means to solve all problems. Fiffito and Berzevitz were all tyrants in the making, but they were too small-minded in their goals. Narmantu’s plans were shockingly ambitious, but he had the potential to realize them. A coalition of ten thousand, perhaps a hundred thousand Space Marines, all psychotic, all suffering from the Withdrawal, united under the iron will of a single dark-minded leader…

It was madness in the making. It was a potential hotbed for the taint of Chaos. It was the dream of a crusade which would put Abbadon’s Black Crusades to shame.

Malistrum closed his eyes and said goodbye to his Chapter. He had thought he had some idea just how low the Fatemakers could fall, but life had taught him a stern lesson again. There is always a greater evil. There is always place to stoop to new lows. There are always things even a Space Marine should fear.

‘You have never liked me, Narmantu,’ he said, his eyes still closed. ‘I don’t think I am the one comrade you wish yourself on this path.’

Narmantu shrugged ‘I admit, we had our… differences. Naturally, you will have to introduce some…changes in the way you operate your strike force.’

He looked back at Üscüge, who nodded approvingly.

‘You will begin with that subhuman filth you keep aboard. I will need to have a word with your Chaplain, if he is still alive. New doctrines will have to be introduced, but surely you see the necessity of such actions.’

‘I see the necessity in what will come,’ Malistrum agreed. ‘Tell me one thing, brother, before we go on. There is something I do not understand. You said you fought Fiffito two days ago, and that you did not expect me to arrive here. I see you have destroyed the other ships quite thoroughly, and I do not think you have the equipment to salvage what remained. So tell me, brother: why did you stay here at this cursed anomaly?’

Narmantu made an annoyed face. Malistrum had a good eye for details.

‘Unfortunately, brother, my ship was damaged in the battle with Fiffito’s heretics. I managed to kill their ships fast enough, but they could still unleash two broadsides on me. All it took was one lucky hit to destroy the Navigator’s chamber. If you…’

‘Wait,’ Malistrum’s voice cut in. ‘Are you saying you no longer have a Navigator?’

Narmantu exhaled deeply. ‘I am,’ he admitted. ‘I got stuck in this place. I prayed to the Emperor, and He answered me. You came and you will guide us out of this wretched place. We can link our cogitators, and…’

He stopped talking. He cocked his head aside and listened to the noise which came out of the vox-speaker. He looked back at Üscüge, who returned his gaze with a frown.

Narmantu turned back to the vox. ‘Malistrum?’ he asked. ‘What are you doing?’

Malistrum was chuckling. There was a smile on his lips, a rare guest unseen by most of the crew, but the noise he was making was even more alien to the people around him. Crewmen turned and looked at him questioningly.

The chuckle slowly became a full-blown laugh. The Captain of Strike Force Four cast his head back and laughed heartily, like a man who had just heard the greatest joke of the Universe. The crew was now looking at one another with no small degree of worry on their faces.

Malistrum laughed on. He almost revelled in it. It seemed that all the worries of the past months, all the anger and despair he had felt at the betrayal of his own Chapter simply melted away in this simple human action. He laughed and laughed until he seemed to have had his fill. As the sound of laughter receded, the vox-line came alive again.

‘Malistrum. What the deepest Warp are you doing? Malistrum!’

The Captain stepped towards the vox-board and stifled the last few outbursts of chuckle.

‘You must forgive me this, Narmantu. Out of all our debates, for all our differences, I must apologize for this one thing alone. I have no excuses, only an explanation. Do you sometimes feel the irony of the Galaxy? Do you sometimes not feel that the Emperor, blessed His name, has a sense of humour?’

‘I do not, Malistrum,’ Narmantu’s cold words echoed from the speaker. ‘And now I would really have you explain your last words.’

‘Again: I apologize.’ Malistrum was still smiling, although the mirth was quickly disappearing from his eyes. ‘You have to imagine yourself in my place. I was ready to die, you know. I came here to the Dark Torch to find our Chapter-Master, who I knew had turned renegade, and I was ready to confront him. In fact, I was ready to die fighting him because I saw no real chance of beating him in a fair fight. But what could I do? I had my duty.’

‘As we all…’ Narmantu started, but Malistrum interrupted.

‘I came here expecting death. And what did I find? The reserve fleet is dead by the hand of the last person I would have ever imagined here, another member of the Chapter, a fellow Astartes who had not taken part in Fiffito’s madness. A fellow Astartes whom I never liked. Actually, a fellow Astartes whom I have always despised.’

‘Careful now, Malistrum,’ Narmantu warned him. ‘You are starting to…’

‘I started talking to you, Narmantu. What would I find? A voice of reason? A man with a plan to heal the wounds of the Galaxy? Somebody who has an answer to this chaos? A ray of hope?’

‘I do not underst….’

‘No,’ Malistrum cut in again. ‘I found no hope. Instead, I found the ramblings of a madman. You are crazy, Narmantu. Psychotic. Lunatic. You are one of the biggest threats of Mankind. You are so far away from the principles of the original transhumans that I am not even sure I could call you a human being any more. You are a blight upon 5he Galaxy. You are the sickness of the human race. You are…’

‘… you are a jerk.’

Nobody said a word after this. Not on the Opportunity’s bridge or even through the vox-line. It was the kind of silence which could crush a being with a frail mind, but Malistrum was not an ordinary man. With terrible calmness, he waited.

The vox-line came alive. ‘You will pay for these words, Malistrum,’ Narmantu hissed. ‘If I didn’t need your…’

Malistrum leaned closer to the vox-board and said five words into the speaker with deliberate slowness.

‘My. Navigator. Is. Dead. Narmantu.’

Narmantu stopped.

‘What are you saying?’ he asked in the end.

‘I no longer have a Navigator,’ Malistrum repeated. He was smiling again, showing two full row of teeth in a fashion more akin to a hungry wolf than to a man. ‘I sacrificed her to get here. Are you proud of me? I can make sacrifices too. And now we are trapped here together. Two proud warriors, one an idiot, another a madman. Can’t you see the irony in it? Can you not hear the Galaxy laugh at us: me for my naïvety and trust in my Chapter and you for your false ambition. The last crusader of the human race; the great purifier… killed by the hand of his former brother.’

‘You little…’ Narmantu started, but Malistrum interrupted him for the last time.

‘Because I am going to kill you, Narmantu. You are too dangerous to live. You are mad, but you are resourceful. You would eventually find a way to get out of this system. For that, I would simply kill you, but you have robbed the Chapter of the last chance of survival at Vault Double-Oh-Three, and so I also have a score to settle with you. I will destroy your ship. I will kill all the Space Marines aboard, I will kill all the humans you have tainted, I will gut the Wrath of God, I will open every single deck to the vacuum of space, and I will not stop until you. Are. Dead. Dead. All your crew, all your men, you will all be deleted from the Galaxy by my hand. I will end you.’

Malistrum leaned away from the board. ‘Goodbye Narmantu.’ He made a cutting gesture.

The voxline went dead. Everybody on the bridge of the Wrath of God froze where they were.

Narmantu moved first. He shook his head slowly but erratically, the looked up in the face of Chaplain Üscüge. His eyes were unfocused, and he pulled his upper lip from his teeth back so much that he looked like a wild beast instead of a stoic Astartes. He was breathing heavily.

‘Go,’ he snarled. Üscüge nodded curtly, turned and left the bridge. Narmantu sat frozen for a few more second, then he looked at his crew.

Nobody looked ack. Nobody dared to glance at the face of their master. His murderous rage was almost palpable in the air, and the humans knew that to call his attention now was to invoke death.

Narmantu pushed himself back into his chair. His breathing became somewhat more controlled, although the bestial look did not leave his face.

‘Target that ship,’ he ordered. The crew moved at once, relieved to concentrate on anything but their lord. Narmantu paid no heed to them. ‘Kill that traitor,’ he whispered.

‘Battle alert,’ Malistrum ordered aboard his ship. The crew obeyed, and the general battle signal boomed through the internal vox-line. ‘Open a general frequency throughout the ship,’ the Captain said, then he stepped back to the vox-board.

‘This is Captain Malistrum. I have grave news for you all. We have found the reserve fleet, and we also found another Fatemaker vessel: the Wrath of God with our brother company, Strike Force Seven. It seems that apparently two days ago, Strike Force Seven engaged with the rest of the fleet and destroyed them, probably with a nuclear arsenal taken from Vault Double-Oh-Three.’

He paused for a moment. ‘Our brothers from the reserve fleet have turned renegade, but Captain Narmantu and Strike Force Seven turned out to be even worse. He admitted that he destroyed Vault Double-Oh-Three, making it impossible for our brother strike forces to ever find us. He claimed to have destroyed worlds on his way here, and he claimed that he would destroy even more. He still insists that the Emperor is alive, and he intends to punish those who believe otherwise. I have no doubt that he would unleash the rest of his nuclear warheads on other worlds. I believe we have already seen his handiwork while we were still in the Malachias System. We passed by Tartino IV, a world devastated by atomic fire. He must have passed it on his way to Greengate. I think he killed that world. He is planning to gather more Space Marines around him, and he would continue destroying worlds until somebody stops him.’

‘I will not allow this. I have challenged Captain Narmantu, and he is now heading for us. The impossible will happen now. We will have to fight against our own brother Space Marines, but this is a fight we must win, or a hundred other worlds will burn. I need you to fight against people in Fatemaker colours. If I have ever meant anything for you, you will fight. The enemy will probably try boarding tactics against us. Be ready for them. Show them no mercy. Kill them if you find them. This will be our last battle, but this we must win. There is still too much at stake for us to fail here.’

‘Malistrum out.’

The Captain stepped back from the console and looked at his crew.

‘You have heard my conversation with Narmantu,’ he addressed them. ‘Will you stand beside me?’

The crewmen did not even need to look at one another to answer.

‘You are right, my lord,’ one of them murmured. ‘We will stand beside you. That other one is no longer a Fatemaker. You are still one.’

Malistrum smiled.

‘And you are my last brothers.’

It was good to see the proud smile of his crew. He sighed and sat back into his chair.

‘Come with me then, my brothers,’ he said. ‘Let us wage the last battle of the Fatemakers.’
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 63)

Postby Midgard » Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:27 pm

Appropriately grandiose. Love it!
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 63)

Postby librisrouge » Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:09 pm

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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 63)

Postby Meaneye » Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:13 pm

Well... it only took half a year, but here it is. Another update.

If I want to be honest with myself, I have to admit, that I feel slowly distanced from this story. My interests have changed, and life is bearing down on me a lot heavier nowadays. Still, I owe myself this much. i don't know how long it will take, but I will not leave this story unfinished.

'Lance strike.'

The powerful beam weapons of the Opportunity blinked as they carved into the Wrath of God's shields and hull. Void barriers did generally not stop lances, and it was only thanks to the distance between the two vessels which diminished the destructive effects of Malistrum's attack. The beams tore the other ship's plates, but they did not cut through them, and so they only caused superficial damage. The Opportunity flew on as the Wrath of God fired back angrily with its broadsides. The shots flew past the Opportunity and the two ships came apart – for the third time during the engagement.

The bridge crew cheered. Malistrum did not. This battle was far from over. So far his superior tactics had managed to keep the Opportunity at a distance from her enemy: She had manoeuvred herself in a position where the enemy could not fire at her effectively while she could strike the other with the lances. For the inexperienced eye, it seemed that Strike Force Four was winning.

In fact, they were not. The battle had already lasted far longer than most naval engagements in Malistrum's career. He now knew that he had the upper hand over Narmantu, mostly owing to his better understanding of three-dimensional tactics. On the other hand, the enemy was still a Space Marine commander with long decades of experience in all kinds of warfare. He knew his ship, and he knew how to use it. Quite honestly, it was mostly due to the fact that Narmantu kept going for a quick kill that Malistrum could outmanoeuvre him with unconventional course changes.

Head on, the Wrath of God was stronger, and she seemed to have a full crew, unlike the Opportunity. This made up for the fact that she could not properly Malistrum. She could replenish her power reserves quicker and fired more often, which was also a deciding factor in this kind of engagement. Malistrum, on the other hand, did not have the luxury of shooting whenever he could. The Captain had to consider every firing order and be prepared that he would have to wait long, long minutes to recharge the guns. Whenever the Opportunity fired, it had to be a crippling strike, which could simply not happen. The Wrath of God was agile enough to avoid direct hits. Malistrum had to be content with slowly carving up the enemy vessel, one layer of plating at a time, knowing that just one mistake would obliterate his own ship.

He had fought similar battles before. He would win this one as well.

‘She is coming back again, my lord,’ a serf warned him.

Malistrum saw it too.

‘Spin her around the keel,’ he ordered. ‘One full spin in… seventeen seconds.’

That spin would have reduced the speed of the Opportunity enough to let the other vessel dart past her. The serfs nodded and started to work on their consoles.

‘Enemy evaded again, my lord,’ the serf at the controls reported. His voice was tense, and not just because of the battle. Narmantu was famously intolerant towards failure, and this space battle had so far been one. He never hit or killed people on the bridge as it was… uncivilized. After the battle, however…

‘Idiots,’ Narmantu fumed. The Opportunity had managed to overcome them, just like she had done so three times during the engagement. The Captain of the Wrath of God already knew the drill: Malistrum would get behind them, make a half circle at the tail of his ship and let out a full broadside at maximum range, which would make another, so far insignificant, wound on her target. The Captain was furious, but he was too disciplined to allow the crew see his anger.

Nevertheless, he was angry. He wanted to destroy Malistrum, but he also wanted to humble him before his defeat. He wanted to see him helpless and desperate, a broken man who can only growl at his better while he, the true servant of the Emperor, executes the killing blow. He needed total victory. Nothing else was enough for the humiliation he had suffered from this scum.

He felt his wrath rise in him, and he did the only thing which had always worked since this madness had started. He accepted anger. He took it all in. It made his mind nasty and sharp and he looked at the displays of the Opportunity with a different eyes. Eyes which did not care about tactics and defeat but only wanted to hurt.

‘Always turning the portside to me, right?’ he mused.

The serfs looked back hesitantly.

‘My lord?’

Narmantu waved impatiently.

‘Reduce speed by five percent,’ he ordered. Then he started to smile. ‘And turn starboard.’

‘The Wrath of God is changing course, my lord,’ a serf reported.

Malistrum leaned forward in his chair. The enemy vessel was indeed making slight course changes. He studied her movement for a second, making calculations about its possible intentions. He was somewhat disturbed to find none.

This manoeuvre would not assist the Wrath of God at all. Sure, it would allow her to move away from the Opportunity, but it would be child’s play to catch up with her again. Narmantu was clearly planning something, but what?

‘My lord?’ the serf addressed him. Malistrum blinked.

‘Align our course with hers,’ he ordered. He would have to be careful not to be outplayed by the other Captain, but his position was safe enough. The Wrath of God would have to make a really wide circle to turn back and attack his ship, which he would detect in due time. At any rate, at least the Opportunity would be able to fire her broadsides at the enemy more effectively this time.

‘They are coming towards us again, my lord,’ one of the Wrath of God’s serfs reported.

Narmantu continued to smile. ‘Got you,’ he whispered, then he turned back to the crew. ‘Now increase the speed by ten percent. Let them think we are trying to put some distance between us.’

‘Yes, my lord,’ the serf at the controls replied immediately.

‘And while you are doing it,’ Narmantu continued, ‘disengage all safety locks on all secondary thrusters. All of them. Did you understand my orders?’

‘Yes, my lord,’ the serf answered carefully. The others were too disciplined and afraid to exchange questioning looks. Everybody continued to check their instruments.

‘Safety locks disengaged, my lord,’ the serf said.

‘The enemy is speeding up,’ another added.

‘Good,’ Narmantu remarked. ‘Now here is what you are going to do…’

‘We are in maximum range, my lord,’ the serf at the sensors reported.

‘Wait fifteen more seconds before getting into firing position,’ Malistrum answered. ‘We need to get closer this time.’

The crew obeyed. Malistrum’s mental conditioning did not allow him to be tense, not more than he had to for a battle like this. Even so, he was aware that he was taking a gamble now. Not a big one, but still… normally, he would have fired at maximum distance and settle for superficial damage on the enemy ship. This position, however, was perfect for his guns. He was behind and slightly above Narmantu, and once he veered portside, his right-flank cannons could now fire at the enemy from a shorter distance. It would not be enough to cripple the Wrath of God, but even a disabled shield would help in the long run. He had to take Narmantu apart piece by piece, but this time he would take a bigger piece out of him.

He counted back.

‘Turn our portside towards them and fire,’ he ordered grimly at zero second.

‘Engage thrusters at the first sign of fire without any further order,’ Narmantu ordered. The smile on his face became a maniacal grin by now.

‘Enemy is turning,’ a serf warned. Then, seconds later, he added, ‘enemy is firing!’

‘Now!’ Narmantu shouted. He said he would not make a separate order for it, but it did not matter. His crew reacted immediately anyway.

‘Captain!’ the sensor serf shouted. ‘The Wrath of God…’

Malistrum needed no warning. He jumped up from his seat.

The reverse thrusters along the hull of the Wrath of God came alive. All of them at the same time at full capacity.

This was not possible. The one problem almost all Imperial ships had was the fact that they were huge, lumbering , elongated vessels with limited manoeuvrability. Navigators and captains all over the imperial Fleet spent countless months, even years to practice how to calculate speed and course trajectories to make turns effective and economic. Speeding up or slowing down were gradual processes with the captain’s special regard to the tolerance level of their ship’s hull and internal structure. The secondary thrusters which assisted the ship’s main engines had strict safety protocols programmed into them to avoid catastrophic hull damage.

Evidently, Narmantu had disregarded all protocols. The Wrath of God stopped dead in space, reducing her speed from escape velocity to virtually zero. Malistrum could not even begin to estimate the damage the other Captain was doing to his ship with this kind of exertion. A direct hit from his cannons could not have wrecked the ship as much as her own commander had just done.

The shots of the Opportunity whizzed past the Wrath of God’s prow. However, this was only the beginning.

The thrusters along the Wrath of God ignited again, this time spinning the ship around. Malistrum could almost hear the agonized shriek of the vessel. Was Narmantu mad?

Of course, he groaned inside. His opponent was mad. This was the point of it. No sane captain would treat his ship this way, except for the direst emergencies. An irrational person would not care. He would put his trust in blind luck or some higher…

…power. Like the Emperor. Malistrum could not even remember when he had thought of Him the last time. It was pointless. For the past years, he had slowly got used to acting alone without higher guidance. He would have never ordered the Opportunity to bend and twist herself out of shape for a mere temporal tactical advantage. Narmantu’s faith, his… irrational… belief… would allow him to go on like this, to risk everything, death, total system failure defeat, for a big win.

And Narmantu’s gamble was paying off. The Wrath of God was quickly turning, showing its flank towards the Opportunity, who had by now started to turn aside herself. Her guns pointed menacingly at Malistrum’s ship now, ready to fire.

It was at this moment that Malistrum realized that he had lost. He was not outmanoeuvred, not beaten by the tactical genius of his enemy: he was not even outnumbered or outgunned by a superior foe. He had lost because in this mad world, only the truly mad would win in the end, and he was not one of them.

‘Brace yourselves!’ he yelled, just as the Wrath of God started to fire.

Narmantu was also yelling as his cannons opened up on the Opportunity. The ship around him was screeching and shrieking in desperate opposition to the strain he was putting on her. He did not care. The crew around him was whimpering and praying so they would not break in half, but he did not even hear the prayers. His gaze was fixed firmly upon the distant glint beyond the viewport which was the ship of Strike Force Four.

He did it. He beat Malistrum. No, they had beaten themselves. They had shown their true colour, and they turned out to be unworthy. They could clearly not anticipate his next move, failing to imagine that a captain would risk such a bold and dangerous move.

There is no danger for the faithful. He knew that the ship would endure because he also knew that the Emperor was watching over him. Could it be otherwise? And if it was so, was there any other option but to go all the way to ensure victory?

‘Direct hits along the enemy ship, my lord!’ a serf reported, his fear of his master momentarily forgotten in the thrill of the battle. ‘Enemy shields have failed. The portside is vulnerable! We will reload our cannons in…’

Narmantu’s shout turned into a maniacal giggle, and the serf shut up.

‘Engage the thrusters again, and spin once more,’ he ordered. ‘We will not wait for those damned cannons to load. Use the cannons on the other side.’

This was a level of madness which made even the serf hesitate. The Wrath of God barely survived the last spin. One more such round…

‘Do it or I will gut you all!’ Narmantu yelled.

They obeyed. What could they do in the face of such fury and madness?

Narmantu laughed again as the ship spun a second time. He turned his head as the ship turned, his eyes never leaving the distant Opportunity as the stars, the baleful Warp anomaly and the enemy ship herself seemingly made a 180° turn. His own ship started to give metallic cries and shrieks again, and the prayer of his crew got louder. This time, he deigned to notice it.

‘Pray louder!’ he shouted at them. ‘Pray so that Him on Earth would hear it! Let this battle be a message for all the unfaithful out there! Wreck them with our cannons! Let them bleed out! Give their blood to the one true god!’

He continued to laugh. The crew, now panicked, obeyed.

The second volley tore into the side of the defenceless Opportunity. The effect was devastating. The powerful magma warheads obliterated the outer plating where they impacted and opened dozens of deck level to the vacuum. One of the blasts hit the ship between the engine section and the main hull frame, not only causing damage but also power outage along the ship. Two of the main engine thrusters fizzled out, and the vessel became virtually dead weight, drifting forward on her own inertia. One of the ship’s bombardment turrets blew up, making not only a huge hole and further massive fires behind the turret section, but also rendering the neighbouring cannon inoperable.

The Opportunity screamed. This was damage caused on a level which had never been experienced before. The proud cruiser of a thousand victorious battles had received a deadly blow in a few second’s time.

Malistrum opened his eyes. It was his eyesight that came back first, but all his other senses quickly followed. When the second volley had struck, he was thrown onto the floor and he passed out for at least a few seconds.

He stood up. There was carnage around him on the bridge: the impacts avoided this section, but their force was enough to tear out consoles and kill several of his crewmembers. Painful cries and unintelligible babbling filled the chamber, the crew scattered in all direction, some of them dead, others just trying to stand up.

Malistrum took a deep breath.

‘Human brothers!’ he shouted.

This worked. All the incoherent shouting was cut off immediately, and the heads, even the injured ones’, turned towards him.

Malistrum pointed at two of the crew. ‘Thobiak! Yankhov! Take the wounded back to the exit lift. The others go back to their stations if they still function. Hurry!’

To their credit, the humans composed themselves quickly. The Captain went for the sensors and leaned forward to make some sense of the battle. The operating serf was lying on the floor dead, but another one had already stood in his stead.

‘We have too much damage, my lord,’ he reported with a painful expression. He must have been injured as well, although the readings of the internal sensors may have been enough to elicit such grimaces. ‘The portside is… gone. No contact with the cannon section, there are six… no, eight separate fire alarms, the ship has no engine power and the Wrath of God…’

‘I see,’ Malistrum murmured. His ship was done. The Opportunity would need at least a year in a proper dock to recover. Crew losses were minimal, due to the fact that there had not been a lot of crew to begin with, but he was enough of a seasoned veteran to recognize a dyeing vessel, and his ship was one of them now. Worse still, the Wrath of God was approaching on an attack vector. The Captain’s lips pressed together as he saw that the enemy survived Narmantu’s reckless manoeuvring – with tremendous internal damage, no doubt – and now they were coming for the final kill.

There was little he could do at this point to influence the outcome of the battle. Still, even though he was not as mad as his enemy, he was just as stubborn. He would not go down without some more fight.

‘Is this really what you want?’ he asked and leaned even closer to the displays.

‘My lord?’ the serf asked.

‘They do not need to come closer,’ Malistrum explained. ‘They could finish us from a safe distance.’ He sighed. ‘Unless the commander is a pompous bastard who needs absolute, perfect victory.’

He turned back to the crew.

‘We have…’ he looked back at the displays, then to the small silhouette of the enemy ship. ‘… two minutes to re-establish contact with as much of the ship as possible. Forget anything else: weapons, shields, they no longer matter,’ he said. ‘But we need to warn the others.’

He sighed. ‘we are about to be boarded.’

He was slightly off with his estimation. Barely a minute had passed and he had barely enough time to relay a final message to the rest of the ship when the smell of ozone filled the air around the crew and, with a loud bang, a full squad of Astartes warriors teleported onto the Opportunity’s bridge.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 64)

Postby JJvagnar » Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:47 pm

Thanks for the update. Was really worrying the series was on permanent hiatus
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 64)

Postby Midgard » Mon Jun 15, 2015 8:22 pm

Glad to see this back, and can't wait to see where it goes! I realize it might be a while, but you've put forth a valiant effort with this story, and I have enjoyed every second of it.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 64)

Postby Meaneye » Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:37 pm

Well, this was... slow. No matter, we are nearing the end of the ride.

Thott woke up to the sound of screaming.

His head hurt like it had never hurt before, but he did not remember what had happened to him. He pushed himself up on his elbows and took a dazed look around him. He was lying on the floor next to a crushed heap of metal block. Strange, flickering shadows were dancing on the wall in front of him. Things were burning behind his back.

The heap of metal… it had to be the loading chamber of the great cannon. Why was it all twisted and torn? He looked to his left. The great hall was in total ruins. What happened here? The last thing he could remember was…

The explosion. The ship received a full hit. The flames came from the ruined control balcony above the chamber. The screaming…

The screaming was the sound of his clanmates burning.


He slowly stood up and looked around again. The chamber's right side was thoroughly destroyed, but he instinctively knew that this was not the result of a direct hit. No, the enemy had hit the chamber next to them, and they had only received the edge of the shockwave. It was still enough to render their cannon inoperational and kill most of the loading gang. Thott had wondered sometimes what kind of devastation their own cannons did on enemy ships. Now he knew the answer.

He limped over to the group of survivors and tried to save what he could. By the time they managed to put out the fire on two Ogryn's backs, they had both died and the screaming stopped. The others were staring at one another with shock and confusion.

The tech-priests had all died under the wreckage, but Thott was still the clan-leader and the foreman of the loading gang. He took a deep breath.

'Okay, you mugs!' he shouted. 'This cannon is done, and Rorko's lot is dead. We are gonna move over to Larid and his loaders and help them with their cannon!' He cast a last look at the burnt dead. 'Leave the dead,’ he murmured.

The others obeyed. The dozen or so survivors darted through the special, Ogryn-sized corridors connecting the loading hangars of the great cannons. Blast doors divided the various sections, and they had shut down automatically after the blast, but the Fatemakers trained their crew thoroughly, even for such emergencies. The Ogryns manually opened up the three doors between the neighbouring hall. Thott hesitated in front of the last door.

'Wait,' he said. There was some noise beyond the door, faint but familiar. The old Ogryn pressed his ear to the metal and listened.



Thott disengaged the lock on the door, pushed a huge crowbar into the slit between the door and its frame and forced himself in. The hall was unhurt. The explosion did no damage to it whatsoever. The crew, however...

The crew was being massacred. Frightened Ogryns – pathetically few of them - were fleeing towards the small set of stairs and the blast door where Thott had just entered. The rest of them were scattered all over the hall: torn, giant figures lay on the floor in their own blood. The survivors were being chased by large figures wearing…

Power armour. Rock-crete grey power armour. Fatemaker coloured power armour.

The Fatemaker Space Marines of Strike Force Seven teleported into the first portside cannon chamber as it was a wide, spacious room the furthest away from the explosion and its disturbing energy signatures. They then went from hall to hall, killing the Ogryns and the tech-priests in each chamber before moving on to the next one.

Thott felt sick. His fellows, his people, were being slaughtered. This was not a battle. The Ogryns – thick-muscled, savage and all – did not even try to fight back. How could they? They had been almost literally worshipping the Fatemakers for generations. Insted, they chose the only solution they mentally could when the enemy entered the chamber and started to kill them. They turned and fled.

This was what Thott had been trying to Malistrum. How could they raise a hand against their demigods?


The leader turned his head and saw a panicked Ogryn fleeing right towards him. 'Run!' the other shouted, but he only managed to draw attention to himself with his warning. The nearest Astartes took a casual aim and blew the Ogryn’s brain out. He did not even slow down.

Something clicked in Thott's head. He had known that Ogryn for four decades, and the Space Marine who wore Fatemaker colours just murdered him like his death did not even matter. He moved on to shoot at the last few survivors in the chamber, ignoring – for the time being – the old one standing at the stairs. He did not move and so, for a conditioned mind, he represented less threat than a moving specimen.

Blind Astartes conditioning had its drawbacks sometimes.

Thott threw the crowbar at the Space Marine's head. He did not yell, he did not make any threatening gesture. He simply swung his arm and let go of the metal bar. It his him on the head and the Astartes fell hard. He tried to jump back up almost immediately, but Thott was now moving and he was moving fast. He was on top of him in mere seconds and the Astartes fell back on the floor, this time with an Ogryn's full weight on him.

Thott was now yelling. The other Space Marines saw what he was doing, but they were busy with their victims, and by now, the rest of Thott's gang also ran into the chamber. The old Ogryn grabbed the head of the Space Marine and yanked. He was a brutish subhuman who had been doing hard physical work in his entire adult life. The helmet – and the man's head inside it – turned aside with the shriek of metal and the crunch of bones. Everybody stopped for a second.

'These are not Fatemakers!' Thott cried to the others. 'These are not Malistrum! They are enemy! Kill them! Kill all the traitors!'

This was the rallying cry the others needed. Thott lifted the limp body of the dead Astartes and held it in front of him as he attacked the nearest Space Marine. Bolt rounds exploded on the body, but the other Astartes had no time to take a more careful aim. The other Ogryns howled and rushed them. The treachery of these Space Marines had first shocked them, but now they were raging. With bestial war-cries on their lips and bitter tears in their eyes, the last few surviving Ogryns of Strike Force Four jumped on the people who wore the colours of their own people and started to tear them apart limb by limb.

There was a trio of boarders slowly making their way through the middle section of the ship.

These Space Marines had no specific target aboard the Opportunity; their task was merely to reach an important checkpoint along the outer hull of the ship where they could monitor any enemy movement on this side of the vessel. They were armed with melta-charges and power weapons, ideal weapons to kill anyone in the narrow corridors of the strike cruiser.

A closed door blocked their way. The nearest Space Marine went there and opened it while his two brothers kneeled down and took aim. As soon as the door opened, they could, in theory, fry anyone standing on the other side. This was a well-practised routine, completely ineffective against an attack which did not wait for the door to actually open.

The ceramite helmet of the man at the door split in two, along with the skull of the Astartes. The other two were too well-trained to panic, and so as soon as the door opened, they simultaneously let off a melta-blast towards the lonely figure on the other side.

The pair of blasts dissipated harmlessly a few inches in front of Librarian Akichi. He lashed out with his hand, and the kneeling figures fell flat on the ground as an invisible force slammed into their chest. The hyper-charged Space Marines aimed with their guns even as they slid back on the floor. One of them died before he could shoot as Akichi made a slashing gesture, and raw kinetic force cut the other in two from head to hip. The other’s shot went out immediately, just like the first one.

He had no more chance to shoot Akichi grabbed him with his powers, and the other got motionless within his armour.

Akichi slowly went to his fellow battle-brother and looked down at him. ‘I do not speak with my enemies,’ he said, ‘but you are different. Before you die, you should know that I am sorry it has come to this.’

The other was visibly shaking. ‘Heretic!’ he managed to spit through the helmet’s vox.

Akichi smiled sadly. ‘You are repeating the Chapter-Master’s word,’ he answered. ‘Not that you would understand the irony.’

He stretched out his fingers and slowly made a fist. The enemy Astartes’s armour spasmed wildly and then went limp. Akichi knew what happened. His kinetic force had burst every single cell in the other’s body, and the Space Marine had become soup held in one place by the armour.

The Librarian looked at his own hand. ‘That was very easy,’ he murmured. Then he looked up. ‘And very familiar,’ he added.

He turned back and left the three dead boarders behind. He almost went through the corridor, then he turned into another one. He needed to reach the outermost hull of the ship. He needed to check something.

The windows on the outer hull were all shut close with metal panels, a necessary precaution when passing by a Warp-anomaly. A mere solid object was no barrier to his psy-senses, and Akichi felt something akin to dread when he opened his Warp-sight and took a look at the swirling energies outside the Opportunity.

He needed confirmation. He needed to see it with his own eye. The windows were not supposed to be opened manually, but he could peel the relatively thin metal plate back from the reinforce glass with his powers. Purple light came into the corridor, and the Librarian could finally see the anomaly with his own eyes for the first time since they had arrived.

The nearby hull of the Wrath of God covered some of the anomaly, but there was no mistaking here. Akichi had seen it before.

It was the Warp-anomaly from the Imperial Tarot which had first warned him about the death of the Emperor. The same image which had set Strike Force Four to their journey. It was the last step on the road. The final step in the circle they had been treading.

Now that he had actually perceived it with his Warp-senses, Akichi also knew that he had encountered the anomaly on other occasions before.

He suddenly understood it all.

‘No,’ he breathed. He turned back and ran back on the corridor. He had already forgotten about the battle. It no longer mattered. Nothing of all this mattered any more.

He needed to go to the Captain. He had to explain it to him. Strike Force Four was about to close the circle – but instead of fighting against it, they needed to completely embrace it.

There was no better choice for a teleport attack than Hangar Bay Two. It was a wide space with no disturbing energy signatures to speak of, and it had access to other parts of the ship: not only the main corridors but also a few service and loading tunnels ended in it. If the enemy wanted to invade the tail section of the Opportunity, they had to start their work here.

The Fatemakers had too few people to defend everything. That was simply impossible. Instead, at the beginning of the attack, a squad of Space Marines had been stationed a little further inside the ship where several corridors intersected one another. When Malistrum sounded the boarding alarm and declared that Narmantu would teleport onto the vessel, the squad – consisting Chaplain Uskovich, Techmarine Guztav and a few others – moved forward towards the bay.

As they entered, Guztav made a loud hiss. The bombardment cannons of the Wrath of God wrecked the side of the ship but did not reach the intersection where they had been. The hangar bay had no such protection. The blast tore out the outer hull and literally opened the hangar up to the vacuum. The only reason why the air – and all the remaining spacecraft and other machines in the hangar – stayed inside was the emergency void shield which automatically turned on when this section got depressurized. Beyond the crackling shield, there was a purple haze, the normal darkness of space painted by the chaotic colours of the nearby Warp-rift, and beyond the purple haze…

Any further view was blocked by the cratered metal hull of the enemy ship. The Wrath of God had apparently aligned herself with the Opportunity and was now drifting besides them barely a few hundred feet away.

‘If we had been here when the blast came, we would have died,’ Uskovich murmured.

Guztav shook his head. ‘This is too much damage,’ he said. His voice was unusually dull, even with the distortion of the helmet. ‘If the rest of the ship is like this…’

His voice trailed off. The others felt it too: a sudden pressure in the air, the unmistakable sign of incoming teleport.

Uskovich had nominal command over the entire squad, not that any kind of official command structure remained in the strike force. He made a quick, snapping yell as a warning and as possible tactical advice. He had no time for anything else, but what else needed to be said? The squad started to fan out and raise their weapons just as the middle of the hangar shimmered and rock-crete grey figures appeared with a loud bang.

Then everybody stopped. ‘What the hell…’ Uskovich breathed.

The enemy was a squad of Fatemaker Terminators. Captain Narmantu did not take any risk and sent his elite force into this spot. They were armed with a variety of close combat and ranged weapons and were all standing in a circle around large portable container. They were also accompanied by a Techmarine and a skull-helmeted Chaplain.

The container was obviously some sort of a nuclear device. This in itself would not have shocked Uskovich’s squad into immobility. The enemy also had the obvious advantage, but the Fatemakers were used to fight against overwhelming odds. They had also made up their mind about fighting against their own brothers, or at least Uskovich hoped they had. No, the reason they stopped was the last Terminator at the very back of the formation.

And the terrible scream he was making.

A dark, inhuman shape was protruding from the flat back of the Terminator. It was vaguely human with an eyeless head and a large, razored maw which occupied most of where its face should have been. Its two arms seemed disproportionately long, although most of them disappeared in the two shoulder pads of the Space Marine, as if it had been glued to the Astartes warrior by the waist and the arms.

It probably was, too. Teleportation was always a risky business, no matter the circumstances, but using teleporters next to a Warp-anomaly, to a damaged ship with irregular heat and energy signatures… most Warp creatures preferred possessing the mind of potential hosts, and this one had probably tried to do the same when it latched onto the warrior at the moment of teleportation, although it had clearly miscalculated. The two bodies instead got fused.

It was difficult to say which one of them did the screaming; perhaps it was both of them. It mattered not. The demon heaved, as if trying to lift something heavy, and the Terminator moved, sweeping around with the large assault cannon attached to his right arm. The barrel of the cannon whirred and the fused creature started to fire into the other Terminators around them.

The formation broke up immediately as the Terminators tried to move out of their brother’s firing arc, and Uskovich knew he had to press the advantage. They were evenly numbered and trained, which meant the enemy’s superior equipment would win this engagement. As much as he now wanted to see the Warp-creature destroyed, he had to prioritize.

‘Kill them all!’ he shouted and the squad of Fatemakers attacked. Three of the Terminators reacted immediately and opened fire at them, while the others jumped at their half-possessed brother with their Chaplain. Some of Uskovich’s men also started firing. He did not. Bolter fire was not effective against Terminator armour, and his crozius was only useful if he could reach them before he was cut down.

There were no warcries or curses, but the hangar was still full of noise: the sound of the ship dieing around them, the shooting and the anguished scream of the enemy Terminator gave the engagement a dark undertone. By the time the Fatemaker squad reached the Terminators, the storm bolters of the enemy had felled two of them, but the Terminators had also been decimated by the assault cannon of their peers. Now the three Terminators stood their ground and received Uskovich’s attack while the others piled on the demon. The first men in the squad to reach the enemy – Xhiao-Müller, a survivor of the incident on Saint Menthas – rushed a Terminator who was busy shooting at another target with a chainblade, only to slow down at the last second. His blade was lowered by an inch.

No, no, no! Uskovich knew what was happening. He himself had warned against this before. Space Marines were, by their very nature, conditioned. He himself was not, but even he found it disturbing to fight against his erstwhile brothers. As an Astartes, striking at someone who was wearing the same colours as him was anathema. Ever since the Horus Heresy, part of Space Marine training had been to make sure they did not even think about fighting within their own Chapter. Other Imperial organizations, people from other Chapters, no problem there, but a Fatemaker killing another Fatemaker…

The Terminator did not hesitate. His fanaticism, his blind obedience towards his Captain and, quite possibly, the familiarity of killing a brother made sure of that. His storm bolter barked and Xhiao-Müller went down in a cloud of blood and metal fragments.


This was not a decent war-cry, but at this stage, Uskovich did not care. He lunged forward, then ducked. The next volley of fire went over his head and he landed just at the feet of the Terminator. He did not try to hit him with the crozius. Instead, he reached between the Terminator’s legs with both arms, headbutted into his enemy’s stomach and heaved. All servos in his power armour shrieked, but the strength of his war-plate and his inhuman physiology did the trick. He lifted the Terminator just a few inches above the ground, then he pushed him to the right.

Gravity and the cumbersome Terminator armour did the rest. The Astartes fell aside with a deafening crush, then rolled on his back. Uskovich jumped up and raised his crozius. He took a careful aim. He knew that at this point, the other was as powerless as a turtle turned on its back. The Terminator’s head was shaking wildly.

‘Traitor! Heretic!’ he roared.

The crozius swung and silenced him forever. Uskovich raised his weapon again and took a quick look around.

It did not look good. The Terminators brought down most of the ship’s defenders, only to be decimated themselves by their possessed brother. There were only two knots of fighting in the hangar: Techmarine Guztav was locked in a deadly embrace with a lonely warrior, his servo-arm and hands firmly gripping the other’s twin power claws, while a group of three Space Marines were circling and lashing out at another Terminator whose storm bolter appeared to have been jammed and was now trying to keep them at bay with his energised fist. The screaming of the possessed Space Marine continued, far too near Uskovich for his liking. As he turned, he found the Terminator/demon right behind him, and, to his right, his opposing peer: the Chaplain of the enemy squad, who was also eyeing the possessed. The three of them formed the peaks of an almost perfect triangle.

‘Help me! Kill me!’ the fused creature screamed. This was definitely the Astartes, not the demon speaking. The thing on top of him was twisting and pulling at its arms, without any success. The Terminator was rocking drunkenly to either side.

Uskovich darted forward. Whatever had happened, he was still a Chaplain; he could only hope that his opponent was thinking the same. He raised his crozius high.

In nomine Imperatoris!

This was a yell shared by two throats. Both Uskovich and the other Chaplain struck the demon at the same time, at the place on the two sides of its head where the temple should have been on a normal person. Even though the Emperor had died, these weapons were still His blessed instruments. The thing – both the demon and its Astartes victim – shrieked and they fell on the ground. The two Chaplains were now facing each other: two completely identical figures with the same weapon in their hand, wearing the same skull-faced helmet.

The other Chaplain raised his weapon again. There was no hesitation in his movement, no remorse, absolutely no reaction to the fact that he was about to kill one of his peer. He must have come to terms with killing other Fatemakers – in fact, he must have done this before. Just as Uskovich hoped so.

He himself did not raise his crozius. Instead, he swung with it sideways and let go of it. The weapon flew away and the other Chaplain wasted a moment to follow its course with his gaze. A real Chaplain would never treat his holy symbol this way. Also, a real Chaplain would never just dart forward and slam his body against the enemy like a bad brawler. On the other hand, Uskovich was no longer a Chaplain, or even a mentally conditioned Astartes.

He jumped over the demon-Terminator on the ground and hit the Chaplain on the chestplate. He immediately wrapped his arms around the other’s waist and tumbled him on the ground. They landed with a loud bang, and the Chaplain made the most fatal mistake in this fight. He refused to let go of his weapon, now completely useless at this distance. He growled as Uskovich grabbed his helmet and wrenched on it with all his might.

The helmet came off, and Uskovich finally saw the face of his adversary. Burning, fanatical eyes locked with his impassive visor.

‘Üscüge,’ he said.

Üscüge spat into his face. The phlegm landed on the skull’s forehead and started to sizzle faintly. All Space Marines had glands in their throats which made their saliva strong acidic, but this was no use against a ceramite helmet. Uskovich, on the other hand, simply headbutted him.

And then he did again. And again. Üscüge was strong, like all Space Marines were, but he no longer had a helmet on and Uskovich did. The scream of the dieing demon and the sound of battle muffled out all other noise, including the sound of metal hitting against enhanced bone tissue, but it did not matter. Uskovih no longer needed conditioning to shift into battle frenzy. The past few months, his personal misery, his frustration and his own anger were more than enough.

At the seventh slam, Üscüge emitted a cry of pain, but he continued to hit Uskovich’s helmet with the hilt of his own crozius. At the fourteenth slam, He finally let go of his own weapon and tried to grab the other’s head, to no avail. At the twentieth slam, he went limp and his eyes slowly closed, but Uskovich did not care. He yelled incoherently and continued to headbutt his now unconscious, perhaps even dead peer for the thirtieth, fortieth, fiftieth time as well. Üscüge’s skull cracked at that point, and his only reaction was to push himself up and use his gauntlets on the Chaplain’s head. He yelled and punched and smashed his hands against what was not a formless mass of skin, bone and teeth.

Then the lights flickered in the hall, and, with the sound of a loud bang, something lifted him up from Üscüge’s corpse.

He flew. His mind barely functioned, but somehow he still knew what happened. There was a power outage at this section of the ship, and the void shield separating the hangar from pace went out. Uskovich, the other Space Marines, the equipment, the vehicles, were all hurled towards the hole on the ship’s plating.

The noise was still loud, but not loud enough anymore to blot out the death-scream of the fused demon-Terminator who flew over Uskovich and disappeared in the purple-hued darkness. Other figures flew past as well, and the Chaplain knew he needed to do something, he needed to act unless he wanted to become part of the debris around the Opportunity. His arms flailed wildly in search of something fixed and solid he could grab. He found nothing.

Then the shield came up, mere meters in front of the Chaplain. The hole now sealed, gravity reasserted itself and Uskovich fell hard. He landed on his chest with such a force that he actually passed out for a few seconds. The world went dark around him.

He came to as a figure in rock-crete grey power armour lifted him up and stood him on his feet. Uskopvich groaned and took a disoriented look around him. There were only three other Astartes remaining in the hangar, safe for a few corpses and the wreckage of the vehicles around the hull breach which had not been sucked out of the hangar. The battle-brother who had helped him up quickly went to the other Space Marine who was standing uncertainly to their left, his visor fixed on a certain spot of the floor.

‘I have… killed him,’ he said. His voice sounded flat, even through the vox-unit built into his helmet.

‘Korta!’ the other Astartes put his hand on his shoulder. He did not seem to register it.

‘I have killed a brother. I shot him in the head.’

The other shook him gently by the shoulder. ‘Korta…’ he started.

‘Killed him!’ Korta suddenly spun on his heels and faced the other. ‘I put a frakking bolt round into his helmet! I killed a brother!’

‘Enough!’ Uskovich snapped. Both Space Marines looked at him.

‘Those people were no longer our brothers.’ He was in awful shape, physically and mentally as well, but he still recognized a moral threat when he saw one. Korta was on the verge of breaking, and the other battle-brother was in no better condition. ‘They have boarded us with an atom bomb and started to kill us as soon as they saw us. Did you see how quickly they reacted?’ He got no answer and he lowered his voice into a more commanding tone. ‘Battle analysis! How quickly did they react to us? How quickly did they raise their weapons?’

The other two still made no response, but Uskovich knew that they obeyed the order and were now mentally replaying the engagement in their head. He knew what they would find, but he also knew they needed his confirmation. ‘They shot at us immediately,’ he said, and started to walk towards the other two. ‘Make no mistake – they no longer saw us as their brothers. This is why we had to kill them,’ he hissed at Korta. ‘This is why we needed to shoot back at them. This is why you did the right thing. Do you understand this? Do you understand that our “brothers” would have murdered us without hesitation?’

They did not. It was clear from their tense posture that they did not understand the difference, and this was really alarming. A conditioned Astartes should have been able to regard anyone as possible target if necessary. On the other hand, the same conditioning was punishing them for looking at their Chapter members as foes. Uskovich made a painful grimace behind his mask. If they had to fight any more Fatemakers, the others may very well end up like… like he himself had ended up.

There was no time to ponder over this. The internal vox-link in his helmet came alive.

‘Intruders in front of the reactor chamber. So far resisted them. Requesting possible back-up.’

The message was terse and there was a faint interference in the link which sounded like faraway gunfire. The voice belonged to initiate Loriant, one of the Space warriors charged with protecting that particular vital point of the ship. Uskovich looked up.

‘The reactor chamber is in trouble,’ he said. The other two nodded, their duty towards the ship temporarily overwriting their other concerns. The chamber was at the back of the Opportunity, and the internal link was damaged, so the Chaplain had to relay the message towards the bridge. He activated his vox and called Malistrum.

‘The enemy is about to enter the reactor chamber. We are on our way.’

The reply chilled the small group of Astartes.

‘They are on the bridge too.’ There was gunfire in the background there as well, but this time, it sounded a lot closer. ‘Crew is down. Resist as long…’

The vox went silent. The Space Marines looked at each other.

There was no need for words. The reactor was crucial, and the enemy cold do all kinds of nasty things inside. The Captain, on the other hand, was the driving force behind the remaining crew. If he had died, the rest of them would simply give it all up.

‘We need to save him,’ Korta groaned, and the other nodded. Uskovich was more hesitant, but he finally nodded too. At least this way, his brothers would be able to go on a little further. He turned.


He froze. Guztav was kneeling beside the still active nuclear device which had teleported to the hangar bay with the enemy Terminators. Apparently, the boarders mag-locked it to the floor and it did not fly out of the hall when the void-shield failed. Uskovich’s enhanced sight could make out the small digits on the display on the side of the bomb. It was still counting down.

In fact, it was counting down from about eleven minutes.

Guztav looked up.

‘I can… handle it,’ he said. Uskovich was trained to notice small irregularities in another person’s behaviour, and he could tell that the other was hesitating before saying the word ‘handle.’ He stepped towards the device.

‘Do you need…’

‘I can handle it,’ the Techmarine repeated, this time with more confidence. The Chaplain hesitated for a moment, then simply nodded. The Captain needed help, and if they had stayed here, they would have lacked the skills to assist the Techmarine anyway.

‘Take care, brother,’ he said. There was no point in invoking the Emperor any more. He waved to the other two Astartes, and the trio went to the exit.

Guztav watched the others leave and waited patiently until the door slid back behind them before turning back to the bomb.

He had lied. There was no way to ‘handle’ the device, certainly not in such a short time. The Techmarine who had programmed it was undoubtedly a fellow Fatemaker, but, eventually, this meant nothing. Strike Force Seven had used atomics to destroy the rest of the reserve fleet, so they must have counted with another Techmarine trying to re-programme the machine spirit of the bomb with Chapter-familiar codes. If Guztav had tried to enter any of them, the bomb would have surely have gone off.

On the other hand…

The Techmarine pulled a cord from his helmet, and plugged it into the device. He hesitated for a fraction of a second, his brain looking for any other options to exploit. He found nothing.

He entered the code, and the device did not explode. He looked at the display for visual confirmation. The display now showed more than forty minutes, even though it was still counting down.

Guztav murmured thanks to the bomb’s machine spirit. Boarding was difficult to time perfectly, and so no Fatemaker Chapter launched such an attack before a code to add at least another half an hour to the timer of the bomb. The code could not override the detonation, but altering it would have taken time, so Guztav doubted that the other Techmarine had been able to do it before the attack. He had proven to be right.

Now what? The simplest solution would have been to eject it from the hangar. He could have turned off the void shield manually and unlocked the magnets of the bomb to let it simply fly out of the ship. The detonation would still damage the ship, but to a lesser extent. With some luck, the Wrath of God would still be alongside Opportunity, and the explosion would damage both vessels to the same extent…

He stopped for a second as the natural solution came to him. If he had managed to take the device to the other ship, the detonation would surely kill the other vessel. There was no way to reach one of the Opportunity’s teleport chambers, however. If he wanted this plan to succeed, he needed to carry the bomb over the other ship himself.

And stay with it until the explosion.

To the eternal credit of the Fatemakers, Guztav did not hesitate for a moment. He had ordered other people to their death without hesitation before if the success of the mission required it. He would not ask any less of himself.

He unlocked the magnets under the bomb and went to the panel next to the door. His mind was already making calculations. If he wanted to succeed, he needed exact timing.

The Terminator from Strike Force Seven raised his head.

He was lying on his chest next to a damaged Thunderhawk. He had got an ugly chest wound into his stomach during the fight – a fatal wound, in fact, although this term meant something else for a Space Marine – but when the void shield had fallen, he had managed to catch the side of the plain and gained a few seconds before flying out of the hangar to space. Then he had passed out, but now his body pumped enough adrenaline into his system to come to his senses.

He saw the heretic Techmarine working on the bomb they had teleported here from their ship. Then the enemy stood up and went to the door. The Terminator had no idea what he was doing, but he knew the other was somehow trying to get rid of the bomb.

Chaplain Üscüge’s litany of hate was echoing in the mind of the dieing Fatemaker. Snarling like a madman, he slowly raised his stormbolter and took aim. He willed his arm to stop shaking. The double barrels of his gun pointed at the enemy.

Guztav was startled by the loud sound. It was the noise metal made when contacting ceramite. He spun over his heels.

The noise came from the Thunderhawk near the void shield. There was a fallen Terminator next to it, and the noise could have been made by him, although the Astartes was not moving, and Guztav’s instruments showed rapidly reducing heat coming from the enemy’s armour. The other seemed to be properly dead.

The Techmarine watched the body for a few seconds, then he turned back to the door. He had no time to waste on a dead foe. He entered a few codes to the panel next to the door.

Finally, he made an audible sigh and turned back towards the void shield. He reached back with his hand and pushed the last button.

Then he ran. He delayed the deactivation of the shield by just enough time for him to reach the bomb. He grabbed it as hard as he could just as the shields went down one last time. The servo-arm attached to his back slammed down on the floor, and he used it as a lever to push himself off the floor at the same moment the vacuum grabbed him.

He span as he flew out of the hangar, but there was nothing he could – or, for that matter, wanted to – do about it. It did not matter anyway. What was important was that he now had enough momentum to take him to the outer hull of the Wrath of God – and he had the weapon to crack that hull open.

The last few remaining objects disappeared from the hangar, along with all the air inside. The suction effect no longer applied to the hall, and everything went quiet and motionless. One of the last things to remain inside was the damaged Thunderhawk, which was literally bolted down on the floor, and the body of the dead Terminator. That body would have flown out of the hangar, too, but it could not. Something bolted it down as well.

The Machine probe deactivated its cloaking and pulled its mechanic tentacle out of the back of the Astartes. Ceramite or not, the armour had not been enough to stop a fully energized adamantite spike, and so the Terminator had died before he could shoot the Techmarine.

The probe took stock of its options. It had been trying to get inside the ship since the beginning of the battle, and it had finally had its chance when the void shields protecting this hangar had gone down the first time. Originally it had had no intention to kill anyone aboard, but remaining hidden and neutral was no longer an option. The nuclear bomb would have destroyed the ship, and the probe had no idea how this would have affected the time-loop which these transhumans had previously created. The Opportunity had to survive – at least for a little while longer.

The probe slid to the door and opened it. Some more air went out into space, but only until the door closed again. The cold, dead, lonely body of the enemy Terminator started to drift towards the hole torn into the ship’s hull.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 65)

Postby JJvagnar » Sat Aug 22, 2015 9:20 pm

Awesome! Well worth the wait!
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 65)

Postby Midgard » Mon Aug 24, 2015 5:37 pm

Love the new update. I am sad to know that this is coming to an end... but am enjoying the journey!
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 65)

Postby Meaneye » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:49 pm

Well, this took some time again. There are only a few threads left untied now...

Narmantu wanted to make sure.

The attack on the bridge of the Opportunity came a few minutes after the ship’s shields failed, but it was executed with overkill in mind. A full squad of Space Marines teleported aboard, armed only with bolt pistols but deadly energised close-combat weapons; a wise precaution in a hall with a direct view of space itself. They arrived in a loose semi-circle, facing outwards, pistols ready to shoot and swords raised to strike. They had no order to take prisoners, not even Malistrum. They were here to kill everyone on deck and only take back what remained of the Captain as a trophy.

At the moment of arrival, four of those ten Astartes died without having a chance of using their weapons. They were not killed by other Space Marines, but ordinary humans: the crew of the bridge with barely any combat experience on their hands. Just as they arrived in a semi-circle, the crew was also instructed by Malistrum to leave their consoles and stand against the viewport. Strike Force Four had a separate protocol against bridge boardings, which they executed in their usual paranoid accuracy.

Every single chair on the bridge had been hollowed out to contain one-shot meltaguns. The serfs had no chance of blowing out the armoured glass behind them, and all they need to do was point the gun and fire – even without aiming, the bulk of a Space Marine in such a confined space meant they could not possibly miss. It was a testament to the conditioning and experience of their enemies that they only managed to kill four of them.

That, and the hesitation. The crew was willing to kill any intruder, but the familiar rock-crete grey armour had the same effect on them as on the Ogryns in the loading hall. Almost half of the serfs froze for a fraction of a second when the enemy materialized, and they realized that they had to kill people they literally worshipped as gods.

The enemy had no such qualms, and a fraction of a second was simply too much delay against a gene-enhanced warrior. As the four dead Space Marines started to fall, the others struck. The serfs screamed and shrieked as energised blades tore into their flesh and cut them down. After a lifetime of faithful service, these people were butchered by an uncaring enemy who wore the colours of their saviours.

The Fatemaker in the middle pulled his sword out of the last serf. The man died with tear in his eyes: his unused gun fell down with a loud bang, followed by even louder noises as the four dead Space Marines also reached the floor. It took only a few seconds, and the bridge crew of the Opportunity lay dead. The Space Marines spun on his heels, his weapon sweeping around, looking for new foes.

Then his head simply exploded. The remaining five Astartes reacted instantly, and peppered the back of the bridge with bolt shots. Malistrum dived into cover.

The Captain of Strike Force Four was completely focused. His mind was clear and determined, concentrating on a single goal: the eradication of his battle-brothers. He had deliberately switched into full battle-condition because otherwise he would not have been able to commit the last act of betrayal against his own crew.

Because he had sacrificed the serfs. He had knew they would never truly kill all boarders, but he needed the distraction they could cause. Like him, the enemy was also in battle-trance. Their mind assessed and prioritized, and Malistrum had known they would pay attention to the immediate threat first: an enemy standing in front of them, pointing weapons at them which were actually deadly to an Astartes. The sacrifice of the crew had resulted in four dead Space Marines and enough time for him to take a decent aim at a fifth one. Now he only had to contend with five other Astartes.

Now he had a fighting chance.

He crouched against his own command chair and let the enemy shoot the reinforced frame. He need them to get closer. Suddenly, his vox-unit came alive.

‘The enemy is about to enter the reactor chamber. We are on our way.’

This was Chaplain Uskovich, he knew. He devoted some of his attention to answering.

‘They are on the bridge too.’ It was difficult to speak while listening to the closing gunfire. ‘Crew is down. Resist as long…’

He could not finish his sentence. The guns could not completely blot out the heavy thuds on the metal deck. The enemy was trying to circle around the chair.

He rose. Five bolt shells impacted on his armour immediately, but he knew how to stand in the shots in a way which protected his joints and helmet. The shots blew harmlessly against his shoulder-plate and his arm which he raised to cover his head. His other hand was holding a weapon.

He ran towards the approaching Fatemaker. The next few shots missed him, and he fired, almost as he bumped into the enemy. He was not holding the weapon he used to kill his first victim; he had discarded it in favour of the melta-pistol he had pulled out from the back panel of his own command chair.

The thermal blast took the other’s head clean off, and Malistrum leaped again. He dropped the now useless pistol and landed on his arms, only to somersault behind another chair on the left side of the bridge. The shots tore into the metal frame, and he crouched again.

The four Astartes were now more careful. One of them gurned to the others, no doubt giving them instructions, then they all slowly positioned themselves at equal intervals around Malistrum’s cover. The leader of the quartet activated his vox.

‘This is the end of the road, heretic!’ he cried. The four bolt pistols barked again, the shells exploding against the same side of the chair, no doubt to scare Malistrum out of his cover. Nothing moved.

‘Retribution has come for you!’ the Fatemaker shouted again. ‘You cannot win! You might as well give it up. How many times can you play your tricks on us?’

Malistrum did not bother with an answer; his battle-conditioning would not have let him do so anyway. Instead, he placed his palm against the back-panel of the chair and gently pulled.

The panel came away, and the Captain could reach in to take out another melta-pistol. The problem with paranoid people was that they were mostly irrational and did not bother to organize their mistrust enough. Malistrum was different. He systematically took stock of all the guns within a leap’s distance from him.

One under the console… another on the other side at the feet of the wall panel… spare cartridges disguised as part of the railings at the back…

The other Fatemaker had asked how many times Malistrum could play tricks on them. The answer was that the Captain was in home territory. The answer was as often as he needed to.

He leaped again.

His name was Samsaliador, ‘Samsa’ being the name of the clan he had originally been from. He was forty-two standard years old, and he had been lieutenant aboard the human contingent of the Wrath of God for six years.

This was not a position to come lightly with Strike Force Seven. Brother-Captain Narmantu was a harsh taskmaster and he trained his men to be equally demanding. Just as it was not easy for a human to impress them in any way, it was nevertheless easy to displease them. Punishments came quickly aboard the Wrath of God, but demotion was not part of their disciplinary actions, only execution.

At the same time, Samsaliador had managed to keep his rank and his life for a long time, which was mainly due to his pious nature and his ability to carry out orders without questions. When he had received an order to check a small breach on the ship’s forward section hull, he assembled his team without question and head for the area marked on his dataslate.

He knew this had potential problems; after all, the ship was in battle. Unlike most Fatemaker vessels, the Wrath of God was not laced with an extensive system of cameras and pict-recorders, so the breach had to be checked personally. It could have been boarders or even a smaller hole on the outer hull which had its own separate problems. Samsaliador had braced himself for both and opted for a full contingent of human soldiers to investigate.

The area was largely deserted. The team went past lonely tech-priests operating the instruments on the corridors, but otherwise, everything was quiet. The noise of the battle had got dimmer some time earlier, which, in the lieutenant’s experience, was a sign of a pause in firing due to an ongoing boarding action. Was it possible that a small team had managed to counter-charge from the target? Unlikely, but he would soon find out.

He entered a set of codes into a door panel, which slid pen. The new corridor ran parallel to the outer hull, and the team too aim with their weapons as a large figure appeared in front of the. Samsaliador himself started to raise his gun before he realized who it was.

The person in front of him was a Fatemaker Techmarine. Samsaliador had never met him, but then again, the Techmarines were solitary figures who rarely left the engine section and the armoury. The lieutenant barked a curt order and his whole team stood attention.

‘My lord, I was reported a possible breach on the outer hull!’ he declared.

The Techmarine looked at his. With his helmet on, it was impossible to find out what he was thinking.

‘There was…’ he started, ‘an open airlock. I have just closed it.’

‘I see, my lord.’ Samsaliador and the others waited. The Techmarine seemed to be waiting for something himself. The lieutenant finally cleared his throat.

‘We are awaiting further instructions, my lord.’

‘Further instructions.’ The Techmarine turned his head as he looked all the team up and down. ‘What is your name, serf?’

The lieutenant stood even straighter. ‘Samsaliador, my lord.’

‘Well then, Samsaliador,’ the other said. ‘What do you know about the nature of the enemy today?’

The lieutenant shifted nervously. ‘I… do not have the latest report about the boarding, my lord. I think…’

The Techmarine shook his head. ‘This is not what I meant. Do you know who the Wrath of God is fighting against?’

Samsaliador hesitantly looked back at his men, who looked back equally clueless. What kind of a question was this? The Fatemakers never gave them any briefing about the enemy they were fighting against. It was not their lot to know. They had their sections on the ship which they had to patrol, the bridge crew had whatever information they needed and that was it. Samsaliador did not know more about this enemy than the ones they had fought against a couple days earlier.

Was it perhaps a rhetorical question? The lieutenant tried to look as determined as they could.

‘We are fighting heretics. We are fighting deviants. We are fighting the enemies of the Emperor and the Chapter.’

The Techmarine pondered over the answer for a second before slowly nodding. ‘This is correct,’ he said. ‘Today’s foes are the enemies of the Fatemaker Chapter. Lieutenant Samsaliador,’ he continued with a more determined voice, ‘I will require the help of you and your crew.’

The team slapped their left hands against their chest in unison. ‘We are yours to command, my lord,’ the leader said.

‘Do you know what this is?’ the Techpriest pointed behind him. There was a large closed casket behind him. Samsaliador shook his head.

‘I don’t know, my lord.’

‘Never mind, then. I need to take this device to the engine room as quickly as possible. The fate of the entire battle depends on whether I can get there in time or not.’

Samsaliador suddenly felt pride and excitement. The Fatemakers barely recognised his presence, let alone called him by his name before. Surely this was a sign of importance and perhaps possible glory?

‘I know shortcuts, my lord,’ he said. ‘We can take you to back to the engine room quicker than the main corridors.’

‘It is good to hear,’ the Techmarine nodded. He hesitated for a moment before he continued. ‘The Emperor shall reward you for your services.’

Samsaliador smiled. ‘The Emperor protects, my lord.’

‘Indeed He does.’

'We have lost contact with boarding party four, my lord.'

Narmantu was no longer smiling.

The boarding attack was not going well, which made him angrier and angrier, which, consequently, made the bridge crew more and more tense. The Captain was normally calm and controlled, but this battle had brought out his worst features: his impatience, his ruthlessness, his rage. The serfs were too much disciplined and afraid to glance back at his face, but everybody knew the kind of expression he was making now. Narmantu's anger was just under the surface, ready to burst out.

'Boarding party one has reported failure, my lord. Contact with boarding party one…'

The serf could not make himself finish it. There was murder in the air now.

'Call back boarding party five and six. Teleport them out of there and prepare the cannons,' Narmantu finally said.

'I…' the serf at the communications board started, 'I am… unable to reach the boarding parties. Too much interference over there, my lord. I'm sorry…'

Narmantu made a low growl, like a caged animal, and the silence intensified.

'Then prepare the cannons,' Narmantu said in a frighteningly soft voice, ‘and hit them with a full broadside.'

'There may be others…'

The serfs was either insanely brave or insanely stupid. Narmantu cut in.

'I don't care. They failed me, so now they will die too. Shoot the Opportunity with everything we have, or I kill you here and now.'

The tech-priest was dying.

He knew this because his body was riddled with all kinds of sensors which dutifully informed him about his condition; on the other hand, he was still human enough to understand the cold numbness in his limbs and the strange silence which was descending upon him. Also, if he was still uncertain about his fate, he only needed to look down at the crater the bolt shell blew into his torso.

He had been on duty when the renegade Fatemakers entered the loading bay and started to kill the Ogryns. He was up on the gallery at the main control panel, but the enemy under him did not ignore him. One of the first Astartes aimed at him as soon as he had killed the first two loaders in the bay and felled him with a casual shot. The tech-priest could have, in theory, jumped away – no guarantee to avoid a shot, but still better than being frozen in place – but, for some reason, he could not. Even though he knew the rest of the Fatemaker Chapter was their enemies now, his brain failed to register the rock-crete grey warriors as a real threat. As he fell, his metallic brain components fighting the sudden pain and impact shock, he realized, for a second, the full potency and gravity of the notion ‘treachery.’

Then he had been lying, trying not to pass out, as the Fatemakers started to butcher the rest of the Ogryns. The shouting had got more intense after a while, only to fade away. Could the Ogryns have defeated the foe? That seemed unlikely, but the tech-priest had no time to ponder over this, being too busy bleeding out. Still, when a new screeching voice started to fill the loading bay, he started to listen. He knew the sound.

His team had almost managed to load the huge bombardment cannon before the attack; all that was left was to close the hatch at the cannon’s back. Now that hatch was slowly closing.

The priest coughed up blood just as the hatch went into its place and a series of louds clacks indicated that the cannon was now loaded and ready to fire. The priest turned his head aside and decided, after a moment of consideration, that he was no longer capable of reaching up to the control panel and type in the launch codes. He gave out a raspy, metallic sigh and dropped his head back on his chest.

A minute later, he heard heavy but slow slams on the metal ladder as a big body was pushing itself up the gallery. It was unlikely that it was the enemy, but even if it had been a Fatemaker, there was precious little the priest could have done, so he just sat still. The voices got louder and soon, a head appeared from below the fool panel.

The tech-priest sighed again.

‘Foreman Thott,’ he said.

The Ogryn made a weak nod. ‘Tech-priest Golmuta,’ he grunted. He climbed up to the balcony and now the priest saw why it had taken him so long to get up there. The Ogryn leader was pressing his left hand on his side in a futile effort to stop the profuse bleeding from a huge gash. The remaining sensors inside Golmuta informed him that the wound had been caused by a chainsword. He reflected this was probably the most useless piece of information he had ever received.

Thott stepped in front of the priest and took a deep breath.

‘The cannon is loaded,’ he said. The priest nodded.

‘I have… heard,’ Golmuta answered slowly. ‘Did we… win?’

‘Down there?’ Thott waved his right hand behind him. He was swaying slightly. ‘Ehh… we killed them all. We… killed the Fatemakers.’

For a moment, he looked like he would start to cry. The priest looked up and down at him.

‘How many of you… remained?’

‘Just me.’

It made sense. He would not have made the climb in this condition if there had been another candidate for it. Golmuta realized his thinking was slowing down.

He looked at the Ogryn again.

‘You are dying,’ he stated.

Thott looked down. ‘Yeah,’ he admitted. ‘But you are dying too.’ He pointed at the wound on the tech-priest.

‘Affirmative,’ Golmuta said and started to cough. Thott waited for him to finish.

‘We can shoot the cannon again,’ he said. ‘We can shoot them but we gotta be quick before we frakking die.’

The tech-priest tried to think. ‘The enemy ship has… aligned her hull against ours.’ He looked up. ‘This means they are right next to us.’

‘I know what you say,’ Thott murmured.

‘We only… we only need to enter the launch sequence and then ignite.’ His body spasmed for a second. ‘I cannot move…’ he whispered. ‘You have to lift me and…’

‘You would die,’ Thott said. ‘I’m gonna type in the code for you.’

Machine parts or not, that almost made the dying tech-priest laugh.

‘You don’t even know…’


That stopped the priest.

‘What did you see?’

‘The code. It is four-six-Kappa-Delta-six-Tango-five. Isn’t it?

The priest looked at him like he was seeing a ghost.

‘Is that the launch code?’ Thott repeated patiently. ‘And then you set the, uhm… coordinates. It is gonna be easy… because the ship is next to us.’

‘Yes…’ the priest sighed. ‘How do you…’

Thott frowned. ‘It is the launch code… for this loading bay, right? You use it in every battle. It was the code when I started to load the cannons, and that was like… what, thirty years ago?’

He limped over to the control panel. Golmuta followed him with his eyes, then he suddenly remembered what he had been thinking about before the attack.

‘The…’ he wanted to sit up, only to fall back again. ‘The outer hull of the Opportunity… she is damaged. If we… shoot the cannon…’

Thott looked back at the walls around the cannon. Even to the naked eye, the panels on the right side looked awfully twisted.

‘Struc… structural damage,’ he stated. ‘The, uhm… recoil is gonna tear out the wall and throw the… whole cannon out in space. With you and me,’ he added.

The tech-priest was shocked to hear this. ‘How… do you know of these things?’

The Ogryn looked back at him with pity in his eyes. ‘I am a loader. We take… care of the cannons. We are not idiots.’

‘No,’ the priest gasped as Thott took a look at the control panel. ‘No, you are not.’ Carefully, he turned a dial around, to which the panel came to life with blinking red and green lights.

Golmuta watched as the Ogryn looked around the panel with small, weak grunts. He pushed in a button, and a row of red lights on the panel went green.

‘We have… underestimated you…’

‘Hmm?’ Thott called back at him.

‘We never really understood… just how much you know of the ship’ Golmuta whispered. His vision was getting dark. ‘Did you need us, tech-priests… to stand here at the balcony… and supervise you at all?’

‘Oh? Not really.’ Thott suddenly grinned. ‘But these buttons… are too small for our fingers and the balcony is too narrow. And you always… need somebody to stand up here and shout down at the guys there, right?’

He looked back with a smile on his face.

He looked back for a second.

‘Oh,’ he said. He stopped smiling and looked at the panel. The buttons were small. He would need a long time to enter it all in the correct order.

He winced. He had better got started, too. He had barely much time left in this world himself.

Samsaliador was striding proudly in front of the Techmarine. He and his team had been leading him for a few minutes and they were heading for the main corridor with access to the lower decks. They were hurrying as much as they could, although the crate the Astartes was carrying slowed them down a little, even though six of his men were helping to push it.

They went past other people, but they got out of their way after a quick glance. The lieutenant felt how important this task was and he was determined to make as good a job out of it as possible.

Another corridor crossed the main one and as the team wanted to go on, another pair of Space Marines turned in, perhaps five meters from them. Both parties stopped.

Samsaliador could not order the two Astartes aside, so he bowed his head and waited for them to move on. He heard the Techmarine behind him step forward.

‘Brother?’ one of the newcomers asked. There was something strange in his voice, and Samsaliador looked up.

The two Space Marines reached for their guns, but the lieutenant had no time to register it. There was a click behind him, and then a shot tore through the helmet of the nearest Fatemaker.

Everything else happened very fast. Samsaliador wanted to scream in defiance of seeing the impossible, but something lifted him in the air and hurled him at the other Space Marine. The other yelled through his vox-unit and slammed his body aside with his hand. The lieutenant hit the wall hard and he broke half of his bones in that second. He fell on the ground with a painful scream, but his voice was drowned out by the sound of battle. He heard half a dozen of shots through his agony, and there was some more shouting and screaming after that, punctuated by the sound of snapping bones.

A body fell on the floor in his field his vision, and he stopped screaming. Even in pain, he could see that the body belonged to one of his men.

Heavy steps were approaching him now and the Techmarine’s boots came into his vision.

‘My lord…’ Samsaliador whispered. The whole world hurt, but not as much as his confusion.

‘My lord… what is… what is happening…’

‘I am sorry,’ The Techmarine answered. Samsaliador tried to look up, but he could not move.

‘Why did they…’ he stopped. His mind was only now processing the past few seconds.

It was the Techmarine. He had killed the two other Space Marines – and, judgind by the sounds, he had killed his team as well.

‘Why?’ he rasped.

‘It was necessary,’ the answer came.


‘I am sorry.’


Samsaliador heard a single sound. The click of a triggered gun.

‘I am sorry.’

Techmarine Guztav shot the last soldier and took a look around. The corridor was littered with bodies, and he knew that he would not move a lot longer from here. The shots had surely triggered an alarm, although as far as he could see, the Wrath of God’s interior was not festooned with as many sensors as the Opportunity. He would not fight himself through another team trying to pull a nuclear bomb behind him at the same time.

He looked around one last time. The eyes of the last soldier disturbed him a little. There was pain in them and a sense of dread he had not seen before in his enemies. He frowned behind his faceplate because the look on the lieutenant’s face was still familiar.

‘Oh,’ he said aloud as he realized. This was the look he had seen on the face of his own battle-brothers while realizing how their own brothers had betrayed them.

The dead soldier had same the look on his face. Samsaliador, he reminded himself. The soldier’s name was Samsaliador. He had told him himself. He had been so proud. He had followed the Techmarine without hesitation.

No wonder he had felt betrayed. Guztav was simply using him, just like he had used…

The crew of the Thunderhawk he had sacrificed on Khadmus IV.

‘Oh,’ he said again. He finally understood. He looked over the bodies again. He had killed ten people who trusted him without thinking. This was not right. This was not…

‘Oh,’ he groaned one last time as he remembered the last words of the Captain warn they had had their last conversation.

The Captain was right. He really belonged here and not with the others who could escape. He was too cold and unfeeling to be allowed to live.

‘No. no, no, no.’ he murmured. He looked at the corpses.

There was nothing he could do. He had no power to heal. Once he killed someone, there was no going back.

‘I’m sorry,’ he told the corpses. It sounded pathetically now, but he had no other option. ‘I’m so sorry. I’m…’

He sighed and kneeled down at Samsaliador1s corpse. He looked at him for a while.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said.

Thott sighed. He had managed to enter the last letter of the code into the control panel. Now all he needed to do was push the big red button on the right side of the panel. Even his huge fingers could not have missed it.

He took a last look at the limp body of tech-priest Golmuta, then he peeked over the rails. The hangar was littered with the bodies of his clanmates and the torn pieces which used to be Fatemaker Space Marines.

He sobbed, and tears started to roll down his cheek.

‘I didn’t want to… kill them. We didn’t…’ he cast his head down. ‘But they killed us. The grey angels killed us…’

He sniffed.

‘Chieftain, I’m… sorry. Malistrum…’

He wiped the tears away, and swayed again. He did not have much time left.

‘Ah, shit,’ he said and pushed the big red button.

The Wrath of God shook violently. She was groaning, not unlike the Opportunity had done half an hour earlier. Some of the crewmen started to pray in fear, but Narmantu howled them down.

'Move away from them! Move the ship away and turn our side to them!' I want them killed!

'My lord, we've been hit too hard! We should…'

This was how long the serf's luck lasted. Narmantu did not even move out of his chair, only raised his bolt pistol and shot him. The shell tore through the man's head and exploded against the reinforced glass on the viewport, making a clear, loud clinking sound.

The crew froze, and Narmantu screamed, this time without any self-control.

'Killed! I want them killed! Move away and start obeying me or I will eat your frakking heart!'

The team of Space Marines were approaching the corridor. There was an alarm in the area, but the bridge was uncharacteristically slow to respond after the damage it received, and it took a while for the Astartes warriors to get there. The three warriors slowed down at the cross-corridor, and the leader peaked in.

It was a massacre. A whole human team and two Space Marines were lying on the floor dead. The one survivor was a Techmarine sitting with his back against a large metal casket. He did not look up when the Astartes arrived.

The Fatemaker had taken part in the last boarding action against the Chapter’s flagship. He knew what the other Astartes was when his instruments did not recognise his power armour. He raised his gun at him.

‘Do not move, heretic,’ he hissed.

‘I’m sorry,’ the other said.


‘I’m sorry.’ The Techmarine looked up. The trio of Space Marines approached him, ready to kill at the slightest provocation.

The leader looked at the casket. He remembered what it was.

'We-we are in position, my lord,' the serf sobbed. His nerve had been shredded by the incoherent screaming of the Captain, but Narmantu paid no attention to him.


There was a display on the side of the casket. A fast-chnging, one-digit number was clearly visible.

The Techmarine and the Astartes locked eyed.

‘I’m sorry,’ Guztav said one last time.

The bomb exploded in the front section of the Wrath of God. The ship broke in two in the first second, and the prow and the back half of the vessel span away from each other in a wild spirraling path. The lights in the prow went out, and that art became a cold, dead piece of metal at once, while the back section started to burn with dozens of secondary explosions. The ship flared as power conduits caught on fire along the husk and the engines stopped dead, not that it mattered anyway. The ship got immolated within two minutes.

Narmantu did not last that long. He died approximately thirty seconds after the explosion, holding onto his chair while the corpses of the rest of the bridge crew were thrown all over the room. He screamed until the last moment, repeating the same name over and over. Then, with a final 'MALISTRUM!' on his lips, he died when the bridge got flooded with burning plasma.

He was almost the last person to die on the ship, but none of the others went out with the kind of rage and hatred which he experienced. Such strong emotions were not wise, not when someone died next to an open Warp anomaly. His soul burned just as bright as his ship when he arrived to the other side, luring countless demonic predators to himself.

From a certain point of view, he never even lasted a nanosecond. However, points of view are tricky in the Warp: what is just a second to some, it could be eternity for others, depending on one's self-control – and he arrived there with no self-control to speak of.

Malistrum let the last Fatemaker slowly slide off his sword on the ground. The other was trying to say something – there were still faint sounds coming through his vox-unit – but the Captain was not interested. He did not need his augmented hearing to know that the other was trying to call him a heretic one last time.

He had not tried to convince them otherwise. Talking time was over. He had been playing his cat and mouse game with the surviving Space Marines up to the point when the guns of the last two of them had clicked empty. Then he had stood up, gone to them and cut them down with his sword.

After all, he was better at fencing than shooting.

The remaining instruments on the bridge screamed in warning. Malistrum spun away from the dying warrior and dashed back to the sensors panel. The instruments were waring about a massive energy discharge in the immediate area of the Opportunity.

He frowned, went to another panel and typed in a series of codes. There was still no visual to space due to the Warp-anomaly and the danger it represented, but this was no time to consider that any more. He needed confirmation.

The window panels slid open and the purple light came in. In the distance, the Wrath of God was burning and her two halves were spinning apart from each other. Strike Force Four won the battle.

A glint of metal caught Malistrum’s eye, and the instruments screamed again. The Captain stood immobile for a moment. The small glint came apart and became larger ones. The Captain made a quick calculation in his mind. The Wrath of God was quite far apart, and to see any part of it from this distance.

His eyes opened wide. He made another calculation about the vector of the incoming debris. He looked at the communications panel, then to the door leading off the bridge.

He had to make a very quick decision, and he did not hesitate. He jumped to the communications panel and activated the intercom.

The Captain’s firm voice echoed through every remaining vox-speakers.

‘Enemy vessel is destroyed. Debris incoming in five seconds. Brace for impact. Everybody, brace for im…’

The first chunks hit the Opportunity. The debris continued to tear into the vessel for two more minutes. Then, finally, the battle was over.

The Opportunity lay dead, but not silent.

There was a soft moan along the ship. Broken hull-plates screeching against one another; sizzling cables throwing sparks on empty floors; the irregular hums of lights and control panels switching on and off as their energy reserves were slowly fading away; all these sounds melded into one low tune, almost a whisper as the once great vessel was now drifting aimlessly in space.

It was the same at the small corridor which linked the control tower and the main hull. The background noise gave an eerie undertone to the dark and claustrophobic atmosphere: there was no light, and although the corridor had windows built into the roof, they were covered by slab of metal panels now, which made the place not only dark but also narrow. The three Space Marines standing in front of the door could only use the flashlights built into their helmets and the enhanced lenses of their visors to make out what was in front of them.

Chaplain Uskovich slowly took off his helmet. With only the lights of his two peers illuminating the corridor, his usually pleasant features looked shadowed and hunted, which was exactly how he felt. The other two Marines behind him looked even worse. They were edgy. They were shifting silently from one position to the next, ready to strike, as if waiting for someone to attack them.

Nobody tried to attack them. In fact, they might have been the only people left alive on the ship.

The three of them had tried to reach the bridge and Malistrum right after receiving the last message, but this was easier said than done. They had been bogged down in a firefight with two other enemy Fatemakers who had been wondering somewhat lost on the main corridor running through the upper decks. Even after finally killing them, they had been forced to make a detour when a raging firestorm cut them off from the entry to the uppermost deck, they had just arrived to this corridor in time to hear Malistrum's last warning about the incoming debris, then, halfway through... the impact had hit.

Now they were standing at the reinforced door at the foot of the tower. It refused to open, which was telling. Normally, a functioning door could be overridden with the right codes, but this time, nothing worked. This usually meant some sort of emergency on the other side of the door, and with the Captain's impact warning and the last series of violent hits the sip had received...

The Captain may have been dead. And that would have meant the end of all of them.

Uskovich took off his glove as well, and placed his head on the door panel. He felt no drastic temperature change, which meant there was no fire on the other side. He grimaced. Anything could be over there, and they did not have the tools to cut through the metal.

He looked up at the shutters over the roof windows, and pointed.

'We will open one of them,' he said.

The other two boosted him, and he slid open a smaller panel next to the window frame. He slowly pulled a small crank behind the panel, which in turn manually pulled back the shutter. Purple light came in, the dreadful light of the space anomaly, which was now completely irrelevant.

He saw it first, but he continued anyway. He opened the window at least a foot wide, then jumped down and landed on his feet with a loud bang.

They watched in silence for a while. The anomaly filled the lower left quarter of the view, and the rest was filled with space debris. The impact was more serious than they had previously imagined, and the Opportunity appeared to be gutted. Further out, the Wrath of God was in pieces. Some of her was still burning, adding colours red, yellow and orange to the general purple hue. The back of the ship was spinning away from the bulk of the wreckage, which was not something the three of them should have seen. The control tower should have blocked it out.

The tower was gone. A large piece of the incoming debris sheared it off so clean not even a piece of it was visible.

Uskovich exhaled slowly and buried his face in his hand. There was a soft hiss behind him as one of the other two Astartes took off his helmet, but he ignored it. His tiredness finally caught up with him, and he felt numb and powerless.

'Is he gone?' the Space Marine behind him asked. His voice was hollow, even without his external vox-unit. 'Is it over?'

'Yes,' Uskovich said. He had no other things left to say to them. 'It is over. We... are done.'

He was lost in his thoughts, but not enough to ignore the clicking sound behind him it was the sound of a boltgun triggered.

He spun on his heel.

'What are you...'

He never had time to finish. The explosive banging noise drowned out everything else. Uskovich let out a cry as Korta fell on the floor with the top of his head missing. The bolt-pistol fell out of his hand with another sharp sound.

There was a moment of silence as the two remaining Space Marines stared at their fallen brother. Finally, the last remaining battle-brother reached up and unlocked his own helmet. Uskovich looked at him, as if waking up from a dream.

‘No,’ he whispered.

The helmet came off. The other brother looked at the Chaplain with a pale face and dead eyes.

‘No,’ Uskovich repeated.

The other slowly raised his own pistol and pointed it at his own head. Uskovich jumped forward.


The bolt shell tore off the other’s head off. The Chaplain bumped into the lifeless corpse which had been an Astartes warrior a second ago and caught it. The weight of the body pushed him on his knees.

Uskovich let go of his brother and screamed. There was no human intellect behind the sound he made; it was an animalistic howl, full of pain, full of sorrow. The scream echoed through the empty corridor, without anybody to hear.

The Captain was dead. The other Fatemakers were dead. Chaplain Uskovich was the last Fatemaker on board.

The scream slowly faded into a weak cry; the cry into sobbing; the sobbing into heaving. The Chaplain was kneeling beside the dead Space Marine, then fell heavily on his fists. His mind, no longer conditioned in any way, could simply not cope with this situation. He was alone, utterly lost, without the guidance of his god or his friends, failing as utterly as humanly possible.

He did not know how much time had passed when he finally looked up. The corridor was dark, save for the still working lamps of his two brothers. The only noise now was his constant sobbing and the soft groaning of the ship.

He slowly looked around. He could still make out the outlines of the corpses of the other two. His attention was suddenly focused on the bolt pistol lying next to Korta.

Uskovich froze.

He regarded the weapon for a long time. Slowly, he kneeled up, sobbed one last time and wiped his eyes. He crawled to the gun and took it in his hand.

‘I’m sorry,’ he whispered. He put his hand against the steel door at the end of the corridor and pushed himself up. Still half kneeling, he gently put the gun against his temple.

‘I’m sorry,’ he repeated. His fingers flexed on the trigger.

There was another sharp noise. Uskovich fell back in a sitting position.

The door opened a few inches and there was a loud hissing sound as the air started to go out from the corridor, Two gauntleted hands reached into the gap and slowly pried the door apart. Uskovich was still holding the gun against his head as he was watching on with wide eyes, disregarding the wind blowing through his hair. The gap in the door was now wide enough for a bulky figure to force itself through. The figure slid into the corridor and the door closed behind him immediately. The air was no longer escaping the corridor and the ensuing silence was only deafening.

Uskovich let go of the weapon and reached out with his imploring hand.

‘Help me,’ he whispered.

Captain Malistrum had his helmet on and so there was no way to see his expression; in the end, however, he simply nodded, leaned down and helped the Chaplain on his feet, holding him with a firm, steady hand even after both of them were standing.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 66)

Postby Midgard » Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:21 pm

As always, this is great work!

On a different topic, mind if I ask if you still have the Angel Kings IA from the Twisthammer project? I am finalizing the IAs for all twenty Legions (including post-Heresy stories), and could not find the PM from you from way back.
My Amazon writer page - check out my novel and short stories!
MIDGARD - my melodic death metal band's new album is now on BandCamp
Twisthammer - alternate WH40K fan-project
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 66)

Postby librisrouge » Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:32 pm

Your work to humanize the astartes is fantastic dude. Great job.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 66)

Postby Meaneye » Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:09 pm

Thanks a lot, guys. Midgard, my face is burning, but I cannot find any saved data about the few Twisthammer stories I wrote. I think I uploaded everything to the other site, I don't know if they are still there.

It's a shame how mush I fell apart in the past two years. If I find them, I will send them to you :oops:
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 66)

Postby qah » Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:50 pm

I log on twice a day only to see if your story or Lucan's 60k setting has been updated. You have yet to disappoint in your storytelling man. Well done.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 66)

Postby Midgard » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:55 pm

Meaneye wrote:Thanks a lot, guys. Midgard, my face is burning, but I cannot find any saved data about the few Twisthammer stories I wrote. I think I uploaded everything to the other site, I don't know if they are still there.

It's a shame how mush I fell apart in the past two years. If I find them, I will send them to you :oops:

No worries - I still have your Twisthammer short regarding the meeting between Iskanderos and Corwin, but I think that the site erased the PM I had regarding Angel Kings IA (I had some technical issues which might have resulted in loss of older data). I tried to reconstruct what I could from memory, but my recollection might not be perfect... so if you want to check it out and let me know what I got wrong :oops: feel free to log on at http://www.counter-factual.net/upload into the Writers forum, and let me know what you think :)

Also, let me once again pay compliments to your excellent work on the Fatemakers story. This is easily one of the best stories I have read set in Warhammer 40,000 and related universes. I can only hope that you continue to write, as I will be eager to check out anything else you create :)
My Amazon writer page - check out my novel and short stories!
MIDGARD - my melodic death metal band's new album is now on BandCamp
Twisthammer - alternate WH40K fan-project
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 66)

Postby JJvagnar » Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:24 pm

Well done mean eye. no canon black library story has ever given me feels as much as this story has. To see a Chaplain of all people so helpless and desperate...

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