With ordered fire, Captain Grayson’s Storm Troopers and Kill-Team Fury exterminate the incoming Gaunts – choking the murky tunnel with bodies.
The Astartes attempt to push through the corpses, but find their only means through blocked. Instead, Dariel seizes his bulkhead shears and begins tunneling directly through the vessel’s living walls. After a few minutes of drenching himself in gore and viscera, he punches back through to the chamber hosting the spore chimneys.
As visibility is still greatly diminished by the thick spore clouds, it takes the Imperials a few moments to locate a suitable exit. Guided once again by Tyr’s fleeting connection to the Hive Mind, they press on.
After more twisting and turning corridors, they find themselves surprisingly close to the hull again – walking through a vast transparent blister looking out into the void. From this vantage point, the carnage of the space battle raging outside is clear. The blackness of space is torn apart again and again by slashes of lance fire and exploding ordinance.
Suddenly the floor below the boarding party shudders violently and their attention is drawn to another blister nearby, from which protrudes a massive living cannon hurling deadly bio-plasma into the void. With no clear way to attack it from within the ship, the Astartes decide to venture to the outside of the vessel.
Grayson orders his men back to a safe distance down a few of the hallways – hoping to avoid the ensuing decompression.
With Tyr and his missile launcher close behind, Gerhardt cleaves through the translucent barrier separating the Kill-Team from the void. The barrier rips and tears, shuddering while trying to seal itself closed again. Much of the self-contained atmosphere rushes past, blowing out into the vacuum of space and leaving a fine layer of frost across the Astartes’ black armour.
Gerhardt braces himself against the opening, allowing Tyr to fire a deadly krak rocket at the xenos weapon blister. The missile plunges deep, detonating with a brilliant pale blue flash of the rocket’s explosive warhead and Tyranid bio-plasma. The shattered gun-blister decompresses, scattering its contained fluids out into the void.
Sensing part of their vessel under attack, a small group of Genestealers emerges from along the outside of the hull. Quickly pulling themselves along the vessel’s surface with their four arms, they close the distance with deadly speed.
Skold and Tyr fire at the approaching creatures, shattering a few of them with bolter and missile fire. However, the creatures soon reach the opening and launch themselves forward to begin their assault.
Seeing one of the leaping beasts, Tyr fires another missile – almost point blank. The missile strikes the beast in its silently snarling face. What’s left of its body drifts away lifelessly through the void.
Unfortunately, the other Genestealers manage to make it to Gerhardt, assailing him with their razor-sharp rending claws. He successfully parries their blows before dispatching them with ease. Then, only one Genestealer remains. Lagging behind its kin, it still drags itself along the outer hull.
With furious laughter, Dariel decides to remove the lone creature from its worthless existence. Pushing his Brothers aside, he leaps into the blackness of space. Crossing a half-dozen metres through the void, he slams his chainaxe deep into the xenos’ exoskeleton. The creature slashes back – exchanging a blazing flurry of blows. Somehow, Dariel is unscathed, repeatedly plunging his chain weapons deep and spraying a mist of purple-grey globules of the beast’s blood out into the surrounding vacuum.
Allowing the torn blister to slowly heal itself closed, Kill-Team Fury continues their journey towards the vessel’s Synapse Nodes.
Now, finally through the bio-ship’s outer layers, they arrive in the core of the ship, where inner arteries ferry vital fluids and bio-matter between the vessel’s major organs. Once again, shapes move about in the shadows and the tunnels’ fleshy mounds are still easily mistaken for enemies.
Rejoined by Captain Grayson and his men, the group treads quietly, as if stepping along the gullet of a great slumbering beast.
After breaching through this inner area, Fury comes across one of these vessel’s vast hatcheries – a cavernous chamber filled with thousands of gestation pods and birthing sacs. As they step into the hatchery, half-formed creatures stir silently, unaware of their presence.
The Astartes decide that this is the mostly likely place to find the genus sample that Inquisitor Valdane requires. Slowly and carefully, Dariel uses his reductor to take a sample from one of the gestation sacs. His diagnosticator helm and narthecium are unable to determine much about the sample – except for the fact that it is pure genetic material. The Apothecary stores the sample inside one of his gauntlet’s armoured compartments and the Kill-Team presses on.
However, as they go to leave the chamber, they catch glimpse of a vast, slumbering form. Through the creature’s pod, they make out a beast similar in profile to a gargantuan Warrior – surely a deadly bio-organism.
Although a few of the Astartes seek the glory of killing such a creature, Skold reminds them of their primary mission objective. Although they argue silently over the vox, they realize that awakening the entire hatchery would not aid them in their goal.
Knowing that the Kill-Team will leave the creature dormant, the Storm Troopers look relieved.
Eventually, the Imperials pass through the hatcheries and near the vessel’s vital organs. Soon, the party finds themselves climbing up a steadily sloping tunnel, the floor slick with bile and other foul liquids. Suddenly, the tunnel emerges into a truly massive chamber, so large that the ceiling and the far side are scarcely visible – lost in a haze.
Strangely, the chamber appears to be some kind of gargantuan stomach or digestive tract. The air is thick with an acidic mist and the floor deep in bubbling fluids. What catches the Astartes’ attention, however, is not the vile fleshy cavern but rather its contents – a partially digested Imperial escort. The massive vessel rises up, half sunken into the bile, its hull covered in crawling horrors as it is slowly dismembered by millions of tiny Tyranid organisms. Slowly but surely, it descends little by little into the lake of potent acid.
From closer, Skold picks up a vox broadcast from a group of Imperial officers holding out in the escort’s state rooms against a dozen or so Genestealers. From the sounds of things, the survivors are high-ranking officers from a vessel named the Saint of Juno.
The Kill-Team decides to head inside and free the officers – hoping that should they be able to escape, they may be able to assist in the void battle to come. Skold orders for Grayson and his men to wait here.
The Astartes leap aboard the Saint of Juno’s outer hull, making haste up the vessel’s slanted spine up toward the bridge and upper decks.
Getting as far as possible, Dariel utilizes his bulkhead shears to create an opening for the Kill-Team. The Battle Brothers drop inside, silently making their way toward the beleaguered officers. Approaching silently, they eventually hear the commotion of the dozen or so Genestealers trying to burrow their way in through various bulkheads and blast doors.
Still unseen, the Astartes ready grenades. They hurl their explosive payloads down the choked corridor, landing the charges into a neat pile at the creatures’ clawed feet. Microseconds later, Tyr unleashes a frag missile, sending it screaming into the tightly packed Tyranids.
The resulting explosion is absolutely immense, blending the hallway’s alien occupants with successive devastating waves of pressure, shrapnel, and flame. The Kill-Team leaves only ash.
The Astartes rendezvous with the trapped officers, freeing them from behind a now heavily-damaged blast door. The escort’s Captain and his adjutants express their thanks, dropping to a knee and making the symbol of the Aquila.
Suddenly, a wave of foul smelling air hits the group and the vessel shifts suddenly. The digestive tract releases a torrent of bile that quickly begins bubbling up from below decks. The vessel begins to sink rapidly as the acidic liquid pours in.
The group makes a mad dash towards the nose of the ship, distancing themselves from the rising caustic bile.
Quickly, they cut their way out through the hull. The Astartes toss the officers the short distance to the acid-lake’s shoreline where Grayson’s men meet them. Leaping from the Saint of Juno, the Kill-Team manages to escape just before it dips below the surface.
Regrouping, the now even larger party of Imperials continues on.
Following the inner arteries again, they finally find the first real sign of their goal – the vital organs of the hive ship. This area is unlike any of the other regions passed through so far, and the sense of importance is immediate. The thick, damp air is charged with electricity and thrumming with alien thoughts. There is a stillness that pervades everything, as if the party has found themselves in hallowed ground or in the nave of a great cathedral of flesh and blood.
Ahead, towering chimneys of light and electrical impulses lead upwards.
Entering the base of one of these vertical structures, the Astartes see it vanish up into a haze high above, lit occasionally by huge flashes of pale blue electricity arcing up and down the shaft. Small ledges, like ribs in the side of the chimney, mark walls of the passageway. The gravity here seems to have also lessened significantly.
The party decides to send the Storm Troopers upwards to scout ahead. With grapnel and line they climb the few dozen feet to the opening of the chimney before pulling themselves inside. With great arcing leaps from side to side, the scouts slowly make their way up the low-gravity chutes.
Then, having lost focus, one of the troopers is caught by the electrical impulses. With a sparking, cracking snap!, he’s knocked unconscious. Drifting back down the chimney, his body slowly accelerates, pulled faster and faster by the growing gravity. He falls from the shaft, his body shattering as it hits the floor of the tall chamber. Grayson’s medics rush to the trooper’s side.
Up above, the remaining scouts spot hordes of Gargoyles flying up and down the shafts – clearing away debris and biological matter. They seem to have noticed the scouts’ presence, but go about their business cleaning the tunnel walls. They show little sign of being affected by the electrical pulses rolling upwards.
Skold orders the Storm Troopers back down – knowing full well that it’s the Kill-Team’s turn to proceed.
Somewhere high above, Tyr can feel their final objective pulling at his mind – the vessel’s connection to the Hive Mind.