Having acquired sufficient gear for their deadly expedition, Kill-Team Fury heads for their boarding torpedoes.
As they make their way to the launch bays, Valdane meets up with the Astartes again, intercepting the war-party from a side corridor. He apologizes for the final interruption, stating the need for secrecy.
He explains that the Tyranid hive ship is not only a deadly threat unto itself, but is also a breeding ground for the entire hive fleet. Should the Astartes be able to find a pure sample of the hive fleet genus while on board, it would be of great value to the Inquisition’s continued efforts against the Tyranid menace.
After the Kill-Team accepts this new objective, Valdane wishes them luck and departs – making his own preparations for the coming engagement.
Fury finds their launch bay and embarks upon their small, cramped torpedo while dozens of nervous but determined Storm Troopers board their own crafts. Some have been tasked to breach alongside the Astartes group, while others will enter different parts of the hive ship – bettering the chance of locating the hypothesized synapse chambers as quickly as possible.
From the relative peace of their boarding torpedo, the Astartes perform their final oath takings and rites of battle. Soon however, vox chatter breaks the silence. The Imperial fleet’s vessels have begun closing with the swarm.
First, the Imperials employ long-range lance and battery fire, strangely not drawing the attention of their adversaries. Then, as the battlegroup gets closer, the Tyranids begin to stir, moving like a single giant beast. Their living vessels start to slide sluggishly towards the Imperials, hurling bio-matter and ordinance into the void.
Finally, like a storm crashing over the shore, Cobb’s fleet is rocked with the first impacts—even in their grav harnesses, the Battle Brothers can feel the ship’s armour taking a beating. At this moment, the deck master gives the boarding parties a five-minute warning. The torpedo engines begin to thrum.
The wait is long and drawn out, while a mix of panicked and orderly commands echo across the vox.
Then, with an immense force of acceleration, the boarding torpedoes scream down their launch tubes on crowns of fire – out into the empty vulnerability of the void. Little is visible in the shadowy interior of the torpedoes’ crew compartments – their cold steel walls and crash-couches lit only by feeble red combat lighting.
The Astartes’ only connection to the titanic space battle raging outside is the continued vox reports of the Imperial cruisers fully engaging the swarm. More relevantly, the Battle Brothers can hear the chatter between the Fury pilots as they engage in a rolling dogfight to keep Tyranid bio-ordinance away from the boarding party’s vulnerable transports.
As the outside void is torn apart by the exchanges of fire, Fury waits in the dark.
Then after what seems like an eternity, Fury’s torpedo shudders alarmingly and seems to slow as if passing into deep water. Its hull rings with the sounds of thousands of tiny impacts. Finally, a mighty collision throws the Astartes back into their harnesses before they’re swallowed by silence.
They have arrived.
Quickly disembarking, they find themselves in a stringy, bloody series of tunnels. Alarmingly, the walls contract and expand at random intervals, as long cords of sinew slacken and then snap tight to the walls and ceiling.
To further add the to the confusion, the overlapping, chitinous flesh of the walls and ceilings constantly betray the eyes, marking out faux silhouettes of Tyranid Warriors, Genestealers, and Gaunts.
Down the tunnel, another torpedo has arrived intact. Dazed Storm Troopers soon begin to stumble from their craft.
There are two constants within the hive ship – the heat and the dark. The air is thick, and the Astartes’ warplate is soon covered with condensation. The Storm Troopers are already sweating, and even the Battle Brothers can feel the heightened temperature through their armour.
Forward facing spotlights illuminate the area in front of the boarding torpedoes, but the majority of the Storm Troopers rely on weapon- or shoulder-mounted stablights.
The boarding party spreads out into the darkness. However, as one of the Storm Troopers ventures a little too close to the bloody walls, he’s caught in the stretching sinew. As the cords snap shut, his legs are torn from his body, sending him careening through the air. One of the medics races to his side.
The Astartes share uneasy glances – already the humans are taking casualties.
Dariel and Uzas move to saw through the sinew-strapped walls, hoping to prevent further incidents. Their chain weapons dig deep, making easy work of the giant tendons. Once weakened, the massive filaments snap, whirling off down into the darkness.
The walls shudder in response, rippling down the length of the massive living corridor. A groan echoes from deep within the vessel.
Dariel and Uzas move quietly down one end of the tunnel, while Tyr and the Storm Troopers watch the other – fearing some kind of response. The rest of the Astartes continue to remove gear from their torpedo.
Soon, chittering sounds in each direction. Out of the darkness, hordes of Gaunts pour into the tunnel.
Uzas envelops himself in the folds of the walls, letting the Gaunts get closer. Dariel stands his ground. As the ravenous beasts gallop near, Uzas emerges, bathing the group in a blanket of flaming prometheum. The Gaunts leap after the Black Shield, burying him with a storm of shrieking talons. He rockets up out of the melee while Dariel plunges in. With bursts of flame and ruthless strikes from Dariel’s hungry chainsword, the pair finishes off the first group of xenos.
Meanwhile, Tyr begins to fire at the other advancing horde. The Storm Troopers also lend their fire, downing scores of the creatures with concentrated fire. However, the Gaunts hit faster and harder than expected, leaping into the gathered group of Imperials. Tyr smashes his way into the melee, throwing the beasts left and right.
Uzas and Dariel come back to aid the main group. Together, their work is quick.
As Captain Grayson and his Storm Troopers tend to their wounded, the Astartes push on.
Uzas scouts far ahead down one of the tunnels – finding nothing. Having wasted enough time, he returns to the others. Dariel and Tyr posit that perhaps the best route is deeper into the ship – into the heart of the beast.
Again, Dariel and Uzas saw through the tendons and folds of flesh lining the inner tunnel wall. Once through, they’re presented with a dizzying array of passageways, ducts, and chimneys snaking off in all directions. The moist, red and purple tunnels constantly ooze liquids and make disturbing noises. Some of the crevices shudder and pulse, disgorging tiny organisms that skitter off deeper into the ship.
With Captain Grayson’s detachment close behind, the Astartes head inside. Dariel makes crude guesses regarding the bio-ship’s anatomy, but the Battle Brothers are hesitant to head further in without a plan. Looking back to the charred corpses left behind them, Tyr has an idea.
Seizing one of the Hormagaunts’ skulls, he ingests pieces of what he assumes to be its brain. Immediately, he feels the chilling wrongness of the Tyranid Hive Mind. The xenos consciousness rips through his mind, pulling him towards the collective being of the Tyranid fleet. He feels an intense urge to proceed deeper toward the living vessel’s nose. With his newfound guidance, the Astartes carefully proceed.
After trekking through the twisting tunnels of the outer layer for a while, the Imperials begin to wade into a milky grey liquid. Dariel takes a sample, running a quick analysis. He determines that the thick, cloying liquid doesn’t seem pose a threat. As they press on, however, the fluid becomes progressively deeper.
At one point, the tunnel dips under the surface of the thick substance. The Astartes order the Storm Troopers to hold, while they scout ahead. Ensuring that their power armour is environmentally sealed, Uzas, Tyr, and Dariel submerge themselves. After swimming for several metres in pitch darkness, they emerge up from the liquid to find a vast chamber at the edge of a great lake of bile. Across the lake, islands rise up towards the rippling roof, each sprouting a towering lung-like pillar that expands and contracts rhythmically
Remembering their briefing, Dariel posits that these giant living chimneys are breathing in the self-contained atmosphere and using it to generate and propel spores down toward Cel. If they can be disabled, the Tyranids would lose the massive clouds protecting their vessels against incoming fire.
Standing far back, Tyr readies a krak rocket. The explosion is massive – the chimney bursts with shockwave that ripples over the bile. As the spores begin to fill the room, visibility drops rapidly.
The Battle Brothers set out to destroy the rest of the flumes. As they hack and slash their way across the lake, the vessel again shudders in response.
Eventually the towers seize up – unable to breathe and filter the spore-choked air.
Within a few moments, more Hormagaunts appear, pouring forth from hidden vents and passageways lining the walls. Seeing the overwhelming number of enemies, the Astartes fall back, returning through the flooded tunnel. As they reach the other side, they order the Storm Troopers to make ready.
Captain Grayson has his men take aim at the murky liquid – forming orderly ranks and firing lines.
The Astartes clear their weapons of fluid and await the Tyranid creatures close behind.