The Four Strands Modeling, Painting, Gaming and Storytelling

Big Game V – Chapter Four: Salvation

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Klaxons sounded startling Senior Navigator Krosp into wakefulness. Instantly he was shocked by a headache and his Navigator’s eye blazed with distorted colors and nauseating waves of warp energy. Krosp had only felt this once before, when navigating near the Cadian Gate. The great Mars Class Battlecruiser Crimea had come under attack from ships from the eye of terror. Krosp quickly made the sign of the Aquila to banish the thought.

“Relins?” Krosp called out for the young Yeoman Navigator and heard only groaning.

A moment later Krosp heard the bulkhead door open with a tremendous creak, “Senior Navigator Krosp?”

Krosp was unfamiliar with the rough human voice. It did not sound mechanical, “Indeed, who calls?”

“Stormtrooper William Riggs, sir. I have been sent to bring you to the bridge.”

Krosp was unsure of the man’s voice. Not being able to see the mortal realm was a hindrance that was of regular annoyance to the Navigator’s guild. Still, this was likely one of the Venerable Inquisitor Kalsman’s bodyguard. “I must dress, Stormtrooper, please wait.”

“We have little time sir,” Riggs responded. As if on cue the ship rocked with an impact. A blaring horn called all hands to brace for impact, seconds late.

“I shall hurry,” Krosp was shaken. He had been in several battles but little ever calmed one’s nerves in these situations. Dressing was further hampered by the difficulty of the headache he was feeling. As he tied his robe, Krosp leaned down to feel Yeoman Relin’s forehead. It was hot and the young navigator shifted uncomfortably with the touch.

Startlingly, Relins began to speak, “K..kill…kill. killfrenzy…..killfrenzy,” the muttered words were bizarre and it was almost as if they were clawing their way out of the boy’s mouth.

As Krosp struggled to comprehend what was happening, he heard the telltale click of metal and a slight whine. Before he even had time to register what that meant, the ozone smell of laser discharge from a laspistol was in the air.

The crack of the weapon was followed by the cool words of Trooper Riggs, “May the Emperor, in his divine wisdom, bless this cursed boy. May his countenance shine upon the forgotten and taken as they have turned from his light. May the peace of eternal rest come to those of the craft and the guild who serve in his name. So do we take from you life, and thus reserve your soul for his glory.”

The chill of the prayer was as disturbing as it was familiar. The prayer of the lost soul was a benediction commonly given by commissariat members over guild members who had fallen to temptation or ruin by the powers of chaos. The ship shook with another blast.

“Senior Navigator?” Stormtrooper Riggs asked, “We must go, the ship is under attack and we must attend to the command deck. Your apprentice is at peace now.”

Krosp steadied himself and offered prayer to the Emperor, blessed be his name, of his own. He spoke, a whisper: “lead on.”

Riggs lead Krosp gently and with a practiced manner that was consistent with those familiar with the Guild of Navigators. Krosp could now sense the danger. People ran the halls. Ratings banged and whirred as the ship shifted. There was a steady boom and shake of macrocannons firing and the ship taking fire from unknown assailants. The sound of battle were all around Krosp and he again, offered a prayed to steel his soul against the coming onslaught.

The clang of the bridge door let way to a bevy of sounds from unknown places:

“Mark 37.5.910, Killfrenzy.”

“Set lances to targeting. Master at arms, direct the deck crews to fire at will.”

“Void Shield at maximum compression, energy drain at 67%”

“Mark 79.55.180, Pride of Typhon.”

“Deck crews on port batteries report significant jam in cannons 7, 9 and 15. Repair estimates at 15 minutes.”

“Long range surveyors report additional contact at extreme range, abeam to position. Demarcation: unknown. 77% chance of additional enemy reinforcements”

Krosp was lead to the command console and he was immediately in a familiar world again. He could sense the runes on the lectern below and adjusted to gather the information on the ship as the intensity of the command deck heightened.

“Fire on Deck 12.”

“Surveyors report increased energy in the Killfrenzy, unknown weapon powering”

“Deck crew on lance 3 confirms hit on the Talon of Badab.”

“Port battery watch report serious breach at cannon 1, emergency crew en route”

“This is madness, we must flee”

“Confirmed kill, Talon of Badab

“Mark 78.258.62, Killfrenzy. Abeam closing to the port flank.”

“Engine room reports intruders on Deck 7, Chaos Space Marines”

“Senior Navigator, are we able to embark on a warp jump?”

Krosp was startled but prepared and responded immediately, “Void Engine appears intact; proximity indicates a serious concern about warp jump due to shadowing in the Empyrean.”

“We’re lost, we must make for the nearest planet and run.”

“Engines at full…”

The ship rocked and alarms went off everywhere.

“Port batteries not reporting, breach detected.”

“This is the Imperial Arkhan Class Cruiser Menelaus requesting immediate assistance. We are under attack from Chaos forces. Repeat this is the Imperial Arkhan Class Cruiser Menelaus requesting immediate assistance. We are under attack from Chaos forces. Requesting any and all ships to aid and assist with all present speed. May the eternal Emperor have mercy on our souls.”

Krosp was shaken as his arm was grabbed, “Navigator,” Riggs voice spoke from the chaos, “The Inquisitor and senior members are retreating to boarding craft. Supreme Magos Menelaus will scuttle the ship and cover out escape to the planet but we must go now.”

“Receiving transmission from unknown contact broadcasting from extreme range, replaying transmission now.”

There was a scratching of static and then the message came through. A booming human voice thundered across the com speakers, “Cruiser Menelaus you are in our sight and so shall his light protect you. This is Brother Piers, Master of the Fleet and Captain of the Azure Flames Battle Barge, His Hammer II, please take evasive actions as our Thunderhawks commence their attack run.”

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