Valdane's Chronicles

Falling Skies - Part 7

The Lord of Blood and Darkness. A legend is born.

Beneath the son where the invisible air buns, the Lord of Darkness sleeps in death – that is where you will find him.

The PDF remain awestruck, yet Kill-Team Fury is already moving out, taking stock of the limited loyalist forces remaining outside. With time running short before Elsharna’s prophecy takes hold, the Astartes realize that the PDF are in no shape to continue on.

Instead, the Kill-Team decides to send a platoon of the PDF’s freshest troops and the Leman Russ Battle Tank, The Avalosian Hammer, back to Portica’s storage yards in order to secure whatever supplies and materiel are available and to redistribute it among the front lines. Meanwhile, the rest of the PDF will secure the markets and prepare for any possible counter attacks.

Fury recalls the acolytes’ Cutter in order by-pass the heavily defended promethium bridge or the potentially hazardous seawater runoff running into Fabrica. A few minutes later, they catch a glimpse of Corvath, coming in low and dodging anti-aircraft fire. The Astartes meet the Inquisitorial pilot on the roof of one of the markets’ neighbouring hab blocks.

The Kill-Team makes a few fly-overs of Fabrica – attempting to find some sign of the Broodlord or his den. Using all sorts of thermal and infrared scans, the Cutter’s machine spirits eventually locate an anomaly. Deep within the refinery district, four square blocks show absolutely no signs of life. Even enemy patrols seem to completely avoid the area.

Skold orders Corvath to bring the Cutter down low. Hovering close to two stories off the ground, the Astartes drop from the front access ramp. Slamming into the ground, their heavy armour cracks and shatters the wet pavement below.

With his passengers clear, Corvath fires afterburners, returning to the relative safety of Avalos Spaceport.

Waiting, watching, and listening, the Astartes brace for some kind of xenos ambush. After a few uncertain minutes, Kill-Team Fury resumes their search. Skold removes his helm, allowing for his augmented and heightened senses to take in his surroundings. Quickly, he finds tracks – xenos prints in the district’s mud- and debris-strewn streets.

Following the trails a short while, the Kill-Team finds both their origin and terminus – The Sollar & Sons Promethium Works. The Kill-Team spaces themselves out and Gerhardt burns up to roof, hoping to get a better look inside.

The ancient, crumbling stone building is nestled amongst a row of refineries under a maze of pipes, pressure tanks, and exchange valves. Mostly untouched by the fighting, the promethium works remains largely intact.

On the roof above his Brothers, a dirty access hatch obscures Gerhardt’s view inside the facility. With sheer strength, he snaps the hatch’s locking mechanisms and opens the creaking, ancient access point. Inside, he finds the place eerily quiet – deserted, without bodies, blood, or other signs of battle.

The rest of the Kill-Team enters the seemingly abandoned refinery and Gerhardt drops inside.

Just as they begin to doubt Elsharna’s visions, they discover what they believe to be the entrance to Broodlord’s nest – a large section of pipe torn open, leading deep into the ground. Although dimly lit, the Astartes’ enhanced vision can make out pools of congealed blood and ichor.

Lowering themselves in one-by-one, the Battle Brothers find that the tunnel is only large enough for them to proceed single-file. Still, they continue deeper into the darkness. The pipes are a pitch-black maze, but the Kill-Team’s superior senses help guide them in the right direction.

However, as they pass through the darkness and near a three-way junction, a sharp rattling rings out from one of the pipe’s walls. Suddenly, a pressure valve slams shut, cutting Gerhardt off from the rest of his Brothers. Immediately, he hears the scampering of chitinous claws rounding the corner ahead. Gerhardt braces himself and quickly parries the snarling alien faces leaping from the darkness in front of him. With a flash of his chainsword, he strikes back, burying it deep among one of the creatures’ razor-sharp claws. Still, more approach.

Seeing Gerhardt’s valiant stand on their helms’ vid-displays, the remaining Brothers scramble to free the separated Black Templar. Tyr takes up an overwatch position in the cramped junction, preparing for a secondary attack. The others quickly reposition, giving Junon access to the pressure valve-gate.

The genestealers keep coming, drowning the Black Templar under tooth and talon. In the tight tunnel confines, he struggles to bring his full might to bear. The genestealers, however, twist and contort in the enclosed space, allowing them to fight alongside their kin. Eventually, their powerful rending claws strike true, cleaving open a rent in Gerhardt’s gorget and tearing deep into his neck. Arterial blood sprays up into his helm, obscuring his vision. Still, he fights, hoping that his Larraman’s Organ will staunch the flow of his blood. Overwhelmed by the xenos’ damage, his vital signs begin dropping rapidly.

Seeing his Brother’s glyph change to a flashing red inside his display, Junon mag-locks his boots to the tunnel floor and braces himself. Slamming his gauntlets into the pressure gate, he creates his own handholds. His power armour screams in protest as his brute strength and straining servos tear the door apart.

Skold squeezes around the mighty Storm Warden, leveling his bolter and unleashing a devastating point-blank volley that kills the remaining genestealer.

Dariel quickly rushes to his Brother’s side, moving to repair the damage to the Black Templar’s neck and chest. Stabilizing him, he pumps Gerhardt full of powerful combat stims and pain suppressants, bringing the Assault Marine back to fighting shape.

Almost reluctantly, the Kill-Team continues deeper through the claustrophobic pipeline, staying vigilant to prevent another possible ambush.

Now far underground, the promethium pipelines eventually exit into a series of pressure tanks. Already, it’s clear that this is a vile place – filled with bodies and coated with xenos ichor and filth. The collection of tanks is roughly twenty metres across and twenty again high, with at least a dozen smaller pipes leading in and out – each controlled by valve gates. Even with the Kill-Team’s augmented vision and augurs, the chamber is a web of shadows. Still, they know that the creature they seek is located here amongst the death and desolation.

Moving in a tight circular formation, the Battle Brothers advance into the room. Kor scans the chamber for life signs, but already the genestealers are upon them.

The first few creatures dive toward Tyr and Dariel, tying them up in a swirling melee of combat. Tyr smashes the first beast aside with his heavy bolter before quickly switching to his bolt pistol. Dariel, on the other hand, works himself up into a blood-frenzy, lashing back at the foul creatures with his hungry chainsword.

The other Astartes reposition to support their brothers – but stop dead in their tracks.

The first wave hits them – a psychic pressure unlike any they have experienced so far. The deluge of horror and dread gnaws at their resolve, planting tiny seeds of doubt within their hypno-conditioned psyches. Then, as the terrifying majesty of the Broodlord reveals itself, blood begins to trickle from their eyes, ears, and nose.

The creature – a thing of nightmare nearly three metres tall – towers over the Kill-Team. With ropey, powerful muscle and four taloned claws surrounded by super-dense armoured exoskeleton, the beast is an intimidating sight.

Without hesitation, Skold and Kor circle around their pretty to get better shots. Side by side, they unleash a volley of bolter rounds and flaming promethium. The Broodlord shrugs them off.

Two more genestealers leap out form the darkness, forming a protective screen around their master. In tandem, Gerhardt and Junon flare their jump packs, rocketing over the top of their Battle Brothers and smashing into the tightly-packed xenos group.

Then, as more genestealers pour out of the surrounding pipes, Skold and Kor are engaged in their own combats.

Rending claws meet ceramite. Holy bolts meet flesh. The blood starts to flow.

The cacophony of the warring Astartes resonates loudly in the confined space – with each gunshot sounding like a thunderclap and each swing of the chainsword like a roaring beast. The combat flows back and forth, which each side gaining, and then losing ground. Then, the first of the genestealers falls.

With a terrible silent scream, the Broodlord rips through the minds of the Battle Brothers. The crippling shriek sends them to their knees in agony. However, with faith in the Emperor and sheer force of will, the Astartes quickly come to their senses and hold the xenos at bay.

Gerhardt and Junon continue hacking away – repeatedly plunging their blades into the Broodlord and cleaving chunks from its powerful exoskeleton.

After suffering a few mighty blows, the Broodlord steps back, finding Junon’s gaze. Using the raw power of the Tyranid Hive Mind, the creature begins to tear the life-force from the Storm Warden, dropping the Astartes to the ground. Immediately, the beast’s own wounds begin to heal.

Skold, having killed a genestealer with a burst from his bolt pistol, moves to help Dariel and Tyr.

Kor, meanwhile, charges into Broodlord, slamming his servo-arm deep into the creature’s torso.

The fight continues.

Junon and Gerhardt, now heavily wounded, still fight on. Junon plunges his sacred claymore deep into the creature, driving the blade in up to his wrists. Stunned, the Broodlord frantically scrambles to pull the weapon out from between its armoured rib-plates. With a moment to reposition, Gerhardt hacks into the creature’s less-armoured flank.

Across the chamber, Dariel, Tyr, and Skold finish off their adversaries – righteously tearing apart the xenos.

Desperately flailing, the Broodlord carves deep into Junon, cleaving though his armoured chestpiece and far into one of his hearts. As Junon stumbles back, the creature drains even more of the Astartes’ life force – ripping energy directly from his soul. Dozens of alarms and warnings sound inside the Storm Warden’s helm as his organs and armour begin shutting down.

Skold and Kor charge the remaining genestealers while Tyr hammers heavy-bolter rounds into the Broodlord, driving the creature back under a volley of micro-detonations.

Although greatly damaged now, the Broodlord prepares to unleash another flurry of deadly blows.

Before it can strike, Junon taunts the creature, drawing its alien gaze. Using the last bit of his strength, the Storm Warden drives upwards, putting the entire weight of his powerful physique into the thrust of his claymore. The tip catches the Tyranid creature below the ribcage, slamming up through its organs, out through its clavicle, and then finally coming to rest deep inside the alien’s spasming skull. A flood of gore pours forth, coating the proud Astartes.

Caught in flailing death throes, the Broodlord emits a powerful death shriek. The psychic blast ripples outward, distorting reality itself. Sensing the death of their master, the remaining genestealers scatter – retreating into various tunnels and pipes.

Finally, the Broodlord falls over – dead.

With sword and armour covered in xenos ichor, Junon slumps back, laughing. He drops his claymore to his side – its metallic clang echoing Junon’s own death knell. Soon, his vox cuts out.

Inside the Kill-Team’s helms, the glyph representing their Storm Warden ally flashes deep, ominous red – life signs absent.

The Astartes gather around the body of their fallen comrade.

Dariel crouches low, already beginning the process of removing Junon’s precious geneseed.

As the Sanguinary Priest performs his holy work, Tyr too comes to Junon’s side. Unclasping his fallen brother’s gauntlet, Tyr delicately removes one of Junon’s fingers. He stores the digit, knowing that he will soon undertake the sacred rites of engraving Junon’s bones with descriptions of his deeds – ensuring that that the Storm Warden’s service will never be forgotten.

Meanwhile, Skold and Gerhardt remove the Broodlord’s head, gaining a grisly trophy of the Kill-Team’s victory – and sacrifice – in Lordsholm.

Finished with their scared work, the Kill-Team gathers up Junon’s claymore and body and begins their journey out of the depths.

By the time they exit the refinery it is already dawn. Slowly, Cel’s sun creeps over the horizon, embracing the smoking, smoldering city in a golden embrace.

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