The Kill-Team is flown south for some time out over Cel’s outer provinces. Farms and orchards roll away below the transports, untouched by the uprising and yet to be ravaged by the coming swarm. Even further south, the vessels reach the Valshari Mountains where they arc skywards – initiating a full burn back to Cobb’s fleet waiting in orbit.
Holding position on the far side of the agri-world, the battle group has somehow continued to hide its presence from the advancing splinter fleet. The closely grouped cruisers are a flurry of frantic activity. Fury Starfighters fly close-support missions while transport shuttles ferry troops and ordinance back and forth between the warships. Furthermore, as the evacuees approach, they can see that an I nquisitorial Mars Class cruiser has joined the battlefleet.
Eventually, the Kill-Team rendezvouses with the battle group’s flagship, the Emperor’s Wrath. The atmosphere in the docking bay is somber, as a small gathering of Deathwatch Astartes, serfs, and stewards wait ready to receive Junon’s body. As Fury unload his motionless, power-armoured form onto a waiting grav-slate, a senior Deathwatch Techmarine of the Howling Griffins takes over, quickly placing the body into stasis. From Dariel, an Apothecary of the Crimson Fists takes Junon’s geneseed, preparing it for storage and travel back to the Storm Wardens.
A moment of silence swallows the hold, as even the lowliest of labourers pays their respects to the fallen Astartes. Eventually, the Techmarine and Apothecary depart with the sacred body and geneseed.
The remaining gathering of chapter serfs immediately move forward to receive Kill-Team Fury’s weapons, initiating the various Litanies and Sacred Rites of Unloading and Appeasement – hoping to calm and assuage the exhausted machine spirits contained within. Soon after – with hasty repairs to their power armour complete – Fury is asked to join the Fleet Captain in The Emperor’s Wrath’s strategarium.
As they enter the vessel’s vast strategic control chamber, armsmen and naval officers part before them, bowing their heads in respect. In the centre of the cavernous room, an immense hololithic display shows Cel, a pale blue orb in a sea of darkness. Flashing icons representing the fleet are almost completely enveloped by the vast grey-green stain growing on the far side of the planet – the swarm.
Among the gathered Imperial commanders, one tall, lean man stands ahead of the rest. He introduces himself as Fleet Captain Arast Cobb, stating his in hosting both warriors of the as well as an Inquisitor. He gestures over his shoulder, singling out Inquisitor Valdane, his entourage, and the acolytes with whom Fury has already familiarized themselves with in Lordsholm.
Cobb briefs the assembly on the situation at hand and introduces Hadros, his master tactician and chief advisor. Hadros praises the Kill-Team’s efforts, but humbly requests their further aid in liberating Cel from the Tyranid threat.
Unfortunately, the plan is far from simple.
Before Cobb’s vessels will engage the swarm, Hadros wants to try and weaken and disperse the Tyranids. Only then will the Navy will have a fighting chance against the hive fleet’s superior numbers.
Valdane’s savants believe that should the Kill-Team be able to disable the main hive ship’s synapse nodes – and thus disrupt it its ability to transmit the Tyranid hive mind to the rest of the swarm – Cobb’s battle group may gain enough of a tactical advantage to secure a victory – even a minor one.
Cobb explains that the Imperial fleet will close into range of the main hive ship and then attempt to blast a hole in its escort screen. With an opening made, the Kill-Team – and a company of Storm Troopers led by Captain Grayson – will be sent via boarding torpedoes to breach and enter the Tyranids’ main vessel. A screen of Fury Interceptors will attempt to protect the torpedoes during transit while Cobb’s battlefleet will try to hold off the swarm.
Captain Cobb makes it clear that time is an important factor, and that his cruisers can only stand for so long against the full firepower of the hive fleet. He will be counting on the Astartes to disable the synapse nodes as soon as possible. Then, hopefully the fleet will be able to pick apart the remaining Tyranid ships in the ensuing confusion.
Then, the Inquisitor provides a sobering realization: This mission is purely hypothetical – based on studies of smaller Tyranid organisms by the Ordos’ Biologis experts. The proposed synapse nodes may not even exist. No outcome is guaranteed. Neither is the Kill-Team’s survival.
Furthermore, Valdane believes that destruction of some of the hive ship’s key systems may help to buy Cobb’s battlegroup some time. Disabling the vessels bio-weapons or protecting spore ducts may help tip the balance in the Navy’s favour.
Lastly, as Cobb finishes the briefing, he informs the Astartes that the hive ship may hold survivors of other devoured vessels, bombers, and fighters that have been consumed, yet not full digested. Finding these survivors and managing to get them to safety may be a boost to both the fleet’s fighting strength as well as its morale but is by no means a primary objective.
Either way, if the Kill-Team is successful in its main goal, it must extract as soon as possible so that the Navy can begin its attack.
Gathering themselves and departing the strategarium, the battle brothers rearm and refit, not knowing what fate awaits them across the void.