The Astartes of Kill-Team Fury ready their weapons one final time.
Skold orders Captain Grayson and his men back to their boarding vessels. Hopefully the exhausted, unaugmented humans will make it back in time to escape. Skold thanks the storm troopers and the survivors recovered from the Saint of Juno for their service, providing them with a guttural, Fenrisian farewell.
Uzas and Gerhardt flare their jump packs and burst upwards into the shafts towering above. Leaping from fleshy ledge to fleshy ledge, they dodge the bright electrical impulses sparking down the length of the chimneys.
Below them, Tyr, Skold, Dariel, and Kor begin their own, slower journey up to the hypothesized synapse chambers above.
Half way up, Uzas and Gerhardt smash into the Gargoyle organisms. Pushing off the sides of the chimney spires, they dive back and forth, shredding the foul xenos. With a flash of blades and the roar of chainswords, they dispatch the pitiful creatures. The Gargoyles’ wretched alien bodies slowly tumble back down through the low gravity.
Skold and ther others move up to join their Brothers. After a short climb, they all reach their objective – a massive domed cavern of grey and purple flesh dripping with a thick dark mucus. Five great pillars of flesh cords dominate the centre of the room, throbbing with electrical pulses and sparks, giving the chamber a terrible flickering light.
The presence of the hive mind is brutally strong here and the Astartes feel it pressing in on each of their consciousnesses. A few of them thank the Emperor that they were not gifted with a psyker’s mind.
Dariel inspects the flesh pillars, attempting to discern their use. Studying the room at length, he surmises that the cords are powerful neural networks – in essence the controlling force for the hive fleet. Valdane’s experts and the tactician Hadros have done well.
Should these links be severed, perhaps Fleet Captain Cobb and his battlegroup will gain the precious advantage they need in the ensuing void combat.
Gerhardt and Uzas immediately set out to destroy the pillars and fulfill their objective. Dariel stops their haste, pointing out that many Tyranid warrior constructs lay dormant along the walls.
Instead, Kor and Skold ready their remaining explosives and demolition charges. All of Kill-Team Fury quickly goes to work setting them about the room. Once the charges are set, the Battle Brothers proceed back down the chimneys, leaving Uzas behind with the detonator.
The Black Shield double checks the connections and ensures that he has a strong signal. With a silent prayer, he blast his jump pack – accelerating down the shaft while depressing the detonator.
A monumental explosion rips apart the synapse chamber behind him. The wave of righteous fire chases him down the tunnel, singeing his already black armour.
Uzas slams into the ground below the chimney’s exit point, rolling out of the way of the thunderous inferno following him. His Battle Brothers pull him from the destruction and down a side corridor. Already the war party is at a run, making for an escape from the doomed hive ship.
The vessel convulses, as if every muscle, chamber, and passageway attempts to act out on its own. Then, the motion becomes even more violent, throwing the Astartes off their feet. The hive ship thrashes like a wounded beast.
Now, with the hive mind’s link silent, the Battle Brothers hear their vox networks crackle to life.
Celebratory cheers are heard from among the bridge crews of various vessels – the Tyranids have temporarily stopped firing. Instead, the hive vessel and surrounding organisms are tearing themselves apart and attacking their own bio-ships.
Fleet Captain Cobb echoes through the Astartes’ helm, barely audible over the shaking and wailing of the Tyranid vessel’s walls. Cobb informs them they they must extract immediately, as the Navy has already started their attack run.
Through the violent shaking and convulsions, Skold manages to bring up a crudely calculated map from his helm’s sensorium suite. Although he already assumed their location, the point is now clear – their vessels are simply too far away.
Without saying a word, the Brothers all understand.
Quickly, Dariel locates one of the vessel’s outer passageways.
Tyr readies an armour piercing Krak rocket. Firing into the fleshy walls, the missile plunges deep before detonating a microsecond later. A metre-wide hole in the alien meat begins gushing blood.
Before the smoke can even settle, the Battle Brothers set to work, digging their own tunnel through charred flesh and chitinous bone. Dariel, Gerhardt, and Uzas slam their chainswords deep. Kor tears with his powerful servo arm. Skold and Tyr rip apart what they can with their power-armoured gauntlets.
Then, they feel it. The first tear.
Rapidly, the chamber depressurizes, blasting the Astartes out into the chill of the void.
Around them, the lights and explosions of the Imperial fleet’s lance fire and ordnance batteries rend apart space. Pieces of shattered vessels and living weapons tumble past. The full-scale fleet engagement is well underway.
As Kill-Team Fury drifts further out into the emptiness of the void, Dariel inspects the vial of genetic material recovered from the hatcheries. Although lined with newly-forming frost. It is intact.
Now free from hive ship’s living nightmare realm, the Brothers feel a collective sense of relief. Somehow, someway, they have managed to fulfill their duty – overcoming great odds and – Emperor willing – vanquishing a completely alien and unassailable foe.
They wait silently in the vacuum, knowing that salvation is not guaranteed.
Still, they hope that the knowledge of the Inquisition and the might of the Imperial Navy will triumph this day.
Here, over the darkened skies of Cel, the fate of all of Askellon shall be decided.
+ FURTHER RECORDS OF KILL-TEAM FURY EXPUNGED +