45. Pitch Black
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Floating silently through the void, the station lay in Almond’s shadow. It might as well have been a dead asteroid. The auto senses picked up no signal whatsoever. Only the Gothic structures betrayed what they had found and the Space Marines were all too aware of the monsters haunting the magnificent, silent bulk.
A space station, formerly of the Imperium, containing a hundred-thousand Necrons without overlord.
Titus was convinced that knowledge like this was not to be gained by random browsing through the library. If this was in the archives, then because Vox had put it there.
The Ultramarine had to smile at himself. He had wrapped the Oath of Secrets around his little brother to protect him. He still would have liked to ask the questions.
They clipped their lifelines together and stepped onto the hull of the station. Behind them, the thunderhawk closed its door and left. The brothers paid it no attention. It was something to look out for later but later probably would not come in any case. Their mission was the only thing left.
They took care to step quietly as Vox led them around a few spiky turrets. Even the vibration in the structures might have alarmed their foes. The station was by no means undamaged. On and off they encountered broken windows and even a large hole. Instead of exposing themselves in the starlight, they chose a smaller breach that barely admitted them. Cautiously, they slipped into the pitch black corridor beyond.
“May the Emperor guide us through the darkness”, Titus mumbled to himself.
Navigating by radar alone was possible but tricky. The pictures that came back were blurry and colourless. When they found the first Necrons, Vox almost collided with them. Tiberius, who had much better auto senses then the others, could only just snatch him back. After this, their techmarine took lead. Since he needed directions from Vox, their librarian opted for clinging to the Ultramarine’s broad back and pushing his arms in the direction he had to turn to. To prevent him from dangling into Necrons on his lifeline, Tiberius pulled Titus close as well. This way, the broad figure of their techmarine navigated all three of them through the silent darkness.
To their luck, the necrons hung in clusters like sleeping bees in the corridors and they could usually circumvent them. Only once or twice, the way was blocked and they had to backtrack.
Finally, they reached a large, circular hall in the middle of the station. Dim starlight filtered in through a large, windowed ceiling, showing them what they had not wanted to find: In the hall the necrons did not cling to the walls. They floated around like a deadly snowstorm frozen in time.
They hesitated. Their auto senses used the light to give them sharp images for once but what Vox had said earlier indicated that the necrons would be able to see them as soon as they left their corridor. Right now, the three of them were out of view by mere happenstance.
Titus pointed an accusing finger in their direction and Vox shook his head, laying both hands to his helmet in a pathetic gesture. Titus sighed. His little brother had forgotten that there would be windows and light here.
Nevertheless, in the middle of the hall, in a cylindrical compartment was the control room they wanted to reach.
Titus thought for a while. Without a jump pack, there was almost no way to navigate in zero gravity unless they could push away from solid objects. In the corridors they had carefully made their way from wall to wall, supported by the subconsciously triggered stabilising units in their armours. In free space, this was out of the question. Even supposing the Necrons might notice them only on touch and not on sight, getting through this minefield of fiends would prove next to impossible. Also, the structure they were aiming for had rounded, featureless walls that offered no handholds. The chance of rebounding from it even if they made it through was too high.
Under these circumstances, Titus signalled his comrades that they would try to enter the control room from underneath and retreated.
It took considerable time to reach their destination and when they arrived where they judged the control room to be, they found a cluster of Necrons in their way. They thought for a while, each for himself. It was Tiberius who was the first to move. Methodically, he searched the walls of the corridor and finally managed to open the blinds that concealed one of the security pressure doors. Without power, it would not shut properly but Tiberius managed to work the main lock mechanism loose. After this, it could be closed with their joined strength. They searched for the next pressure door down the corridor and found a cluster of Necrons too close to it. With the subsequent one, they had more luck.
Finally sealed in with about thirty of the slumbering horrors, Tiberius made a few signs. Titus and Vox theoretically understood what he was saying but they had trouble believing what he wanted: He urged Vox to burn the cluster of Necrons under the control room to make their weapons explode.
Titus and Vox looked at each other and scratched their helmets. Then, they shrugged. Exploding Necrons would probably make a hole in the ceiling and they had no better idea.
They retreated to one end of their closed off corridor and drew their weapons, ready to kill whatever the hopefully ensuing explosions would leave. Vox meanwhile, crept a little closer to his targets. When the corridor exploded into light, it occurred to Titus that it would have been prudent to turn his automatically boosted low light filters down a little.
Fortunately, the flash compensation of his auto senses and his gene-hanced eyes kicked in and dampened the worst of the effects. He was still taken by surprise when something hit him and it took a dangerous moment to sort out that it was Vox. Titus was uncertain whether the explosion had pushed his friend into him or if his fire had some kind of repulsion. Whatever was the case, Vox had thumped into him and almost gotten shot for it.
The xeno weapons going off made a strange, faint noise in the soundlessness of space and when they subsided, their auto senses registered motion.
“Do we still bother with radio silence?”, Vox wanted to know.
“Nah”, Titus said dismissively and started to shoot at necrons. “Tiberius, get into the control room, we’ll cover you!”
The darkness was punctuated by dim light filtering in from above. It showed the hole they had blasted in the ceiling and aided Titus’ shots into the shadows beyond.
Covered by this, Tiberius manoeuvred himself under the hole and ripped it larger with his third arm.
Necrons were in the habit of vanishing without a trace when they were too badly damaged and Titus saw several of them decomposing in flashes of green light when there was a sudden “Shit!” from Vox. Without further warning the librarian pushed himself forward, ultimately ruining Titus’ aim. After a split-second of confusion, it dawned on the Ultramarine why his friend would do this: If there was light, there was a breach to the hall up there.
“I’ll cover Tiberius”, he informed his team, seeing that Vox meant to take care of the rest down here.
The techmarine had just ripped the last bit of plasteel aside to pass through the hole. When they entered the control room, they found about a quarter of the wall missing.
They had approached it from the only side where this had not been visible.
Tiberius immediately started to commune with the station while Titus took up a guarding position towards the hall.
The floating Necrons outside had started to move. They were strange creatures. Angular frames of blue-black skin with glowing, green eyes. Humanoid but more machine than lifeform. In their awakening they had a certain kind of sluggish jerkiness that was more akin to a servitor than to anything else. Some of them tried to shoot towards the control room but their aim from the twisted, unstable positions they occupied made these more into occasional, albeit deadly hail. Others were waving arms and legs to get enough momentum to move from their positions. Right now, they posed little threat but Titus could see that they were working hard to change this.
His attention not fully bound for the moment, he had the opportunity to take a look around. A bit to his left he spotted a patch of burned wall. It was large and had a very distinct pattern. This had not been caused by any type of explosive Titus had ever seen and the edges were too sharp for a fire to have eaten its way along anything it could consume. Someone had made excessive use of a certain kind of flame weapon here and Titus happened to know someone who would just be able to produce such a pattern. ‘So, that’s where the overlord went’, he caught himself thinking.
The other thing he noticed was the half molten bronze cast of a crest right above the burned area. It showed three swords crossed in front of six wings. The banner under it was unreadable. He grinned humourlessly under his helmet. Oath of Secrets. Just what Vox had needed.
“Good news!”, Vox said, coming up to them. “The pressure doors will probably hold them for another ten seconds.”
“Better news”, Tiberius said pleasantly and the light in the room went on. “They lack the dramatic click of course but the doors should be shut now”, he added a few seconds later.
Vox poked his head down into the corridor.
“Nicely done! We should have a minute before they have sorted out that they can shoot themselves through.”
“Let me know when they come”, Tiberius said and fell silent again.
It was at this moment that two of the Necrons floating outside in the hall, got hold of each other and managed to throw themselves through the weightlessness. Like a chain reaction, they grabbed two other Necrons and even though Titus started to fire into them, within seconds there was a long cluster of them, swinging around like a maddened tentacle that finally slammed down right in front of him.
He flicked his frag- and plasma grenades into the throng and, after he had watched the effect, calculated that he would not be able to hold this lot off alone. Especially if any of them got into a position to point their guns at them and aim. The holes the random shots had left in the thick wall of the control room made it unnecessary for Titus’ hypno-conditioning to provide that these shots could not even be held off by their power armour.
“Vox, I need you here”, he sent out. He had just kicked one of the crawling Necrons aside and almost lost his footing when Vox was beside him. From the corner of his eyes, Titus saw Vox’s blade swish past and two foes were gone in a flash of green light.
“Tiberius, they will be getting through down there soon”, Vox said and flicked his grenades outside as well. Enraged by a psyker so close, the Necrons bulged together more thickly. They moved like ants, clustering together to use each other as foot- and handholds. At least this meant more luck with the explosives. Especially the plasma grenades did a lot of damage, blowing up a couple of xeno weapons as a pleasant side effect.
Tiberius reacted to Vox’s warning with almost half a minute delay but at least he declared: “Done!”, when he turned around. “Brothers, the station is on the move and I’m certain it will hit quite close to the rift. Over to you, Titus!”
“Out into the hall!”, their leader ordered and on the first word, fire spilt from Vox’s hands as if he had been waiting for this. Brightly burning, the heat of this inferno registered with their auto senses even through the vacuum. Vox pushed himself gently forward, flying slowly into the hall, pouring more and more flames over the attackers. The fire moved around him in strange patterns. Sometimes in spirals, sometimes like graceful wings swiping away what they could reach.
Covered by this, Titus leaned out of the room, aimed upwards and stopped.
Over the windowed ceiling, the shutters had closed.
He cursed. When Tiberius had closed the pressure doors, these must have shut as well. The way outside was barred.
“Tiberius…”, he started but at this moment the Necrons from below started to crawl through the hole in the floor. They had far better positions from which to fire than those outside. He heard Tiberius give a heartfelt groan when a shot hit him, vaporising his left leg. There was only just enough time left to grab his techmarine and fling the two of them out into the hall. They dragged a trail of blood that evaporated quickly.
“Vox!”, Titus called out but again had no time to form a sentence. They were hit by something that changed their tumbling route through the hall and Titus was glad to find that, for the second time today, it was only Vox. It was less pleasant than the last time however. Vox was on fire.
“Get yourself together!”, Titus demanded and looked around. For a precious moment, there were no Necrons in sight and they were just about to hit the wall.
“Any… Plans?”, Vox wanted to know and Titus was not surprised that he sounded rather strained.
He thought feverishly. He had intended to shoot out the windows over the hall and escape through there. With the shutters in place, this was impossible. There were no other breaches in sight. Trying the corridors was such a stupid plan that he did not even consider it. No. He had no plans left.
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Guide Me Through the Darkness by Julia M. V. Warren is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
It is a very tense and difficult situation. Thanks for today’s chapter!
When chaos appears on a planet, is exterminatus the only solution?
Exterminatus is not exactly the go to option when things like this happen, especially with a hive world that produces arms. But humanity has learned a few lessons about when to call it quits ^^
Oh yes, you are right, it is not the best option, especially if a planet is important to the empire with the production of weapons and the recruitment of imperial guards … Thanks for responding :)
My pleasure! I’m only sorry it takes me a while these days. The comments are pretty flooded with strange porn websites alternately commending my posts or trying to sell viagra XD this makes finding your posts a little harder than before ;)
Hello Julia! No problem with the delay in responding, thanks for your attention. I’m sorry that you receive so many strange posts. Thank you for responding to my posts.
Happy New Year! I wish you and your family a wonderful year, with many happiness. 😄🙏🎉🍀🌸🕊️✨