Gunter continue in high Gothic over the Vox,"the output of these people supports the war efforts. It would be wasteful to have the planet re-colonized, and I hate to see the faithful suffer undue harm. The forces of the betrayer can wait a few short hours before they're sent to the hell that spawned them. Restoring the comm towers is our secondary objective. Let us complete that so we can conclude our given mission. Once the Inquisition knows of a chaos beachhead, they will certainly approve a new mission to destroy them with cleansing fire. As much as I would prefer to deal with them immediately, our duty is clear: we must report what we have learned before we take action. Brother Sergeant, your orders?"
"I saw them," growls Pax. "Foul, ugly abominations that they are. They were not the mission. You were the mission. But Guilliman be damned if I'll walk away from this planet while they still live."
Sarlock, having recovered from his earlier bout of rage, walks calmly over to the conclave of Pax, Rustin, and Logan, ready to put his two cents into the mix.
"They may not be our original mission, but they Throne-well be our new mission. I agree with the Ultramarine on this one. I shall not set foot off this planet until they bleed from the wrath I will inflict upon them. Time is of the essence, but a plan will be necessary. Chaos is not one with which to go against lacking a plan."
Prepping for the Trek Ahead
Yngvar, in the most stately form of high gothic he knows says, "You shall have our aid, Brother Logan. The plan then," he continues, "is to not let our first mission critial element run off without an escort. We will accompany Back Breaker and the residents back to Alpha-Ichi. Carmillus, I suspect, would want it thus. Upon our arrival at Alpha-Ichi, we will plan our advance on the comms towers and attempt contact with the Doomsayer."
In speaking the Inquisitor's and vessel's name aloud, he hopes to gain some mutual information exchange between the kill-team, Logan and Rustin.
Logan nods along with the plan of action, smiling when he hears the Inquisitor's name. In Fenrisian, knowing that only Yngvar will understand, he says, "That one looks but a babe, no? But she has an Ice-Bear straight from Fenryka living in her heart. She is strong and clever - very clever. If she is the puppet master behind this team, there is much more to you than immediately meets the eye, no doubt." He seems to stare at Aisha, recognition on his features as he tilts his head toward her heraldry. Having done his fair share of missions on behalf of the shadowy organisation, it is very much within the realm of possibility that Logan has run operations alongside the DoD. With a nod, he says to the Apothecary, "isn't that right, Brother?"
In Fenrisian Yngvar replies, "Carmillus may be young, but she's no dumb beast. This I can be sure of. She is, no doubt, also aware of this one's... condition" he states, motioning towards Gunter. "Fear not though, he has proved himself in battle like any worthy Astartes."
"Young?!" Logan laughs and the rest of the squad can only guess at what the joke is. "She might have a couple years on you, Blood-Claw! Never underestimate her. However unorthodox she or her methods may seem, I do believe her heart to be firmly within the hands of the All Father. Perhaps 'Ice Bear' was the wrong animal to name, but I have never been one for allegory." At the second mention of Gunter's "condition" Logan cannot help but stare at the Black Templar. Apparently Yngvar, acting Squad Leader, had a problem with the Templar while simultaneously trusting him to perform his duties to the letter. It was an odd and difficult situation to explain, no doubt, and Logan decided not to press any further - not now, at least. Time was of the essence and a plan was in place.
Apparently impressed with the Inquisitor behind the mission and waiting for a more tact opportunity to press the issue of the Black Templar, Logan is satisfied with the plan of action. "I will take point," he says in High Gothic. "I want Rustin with Dayvon and Meoni. They know his face and it will help keep the good people at ease. The lot of you know your roles far better than I do, so I will leave it to you to decide your place in the marching order."
"I will assist on point," says the ever-so-agile squad leader. Yngvar continues, issuing the marching orders, "Sarlock and Aisha guard the flanks, Rustin will be with the civilians as ordered, Pax take front guard between Rustin and myself, and Gunter takes the rearguard." Having given his orders, Yngvar looks to the rest of the group leaving the floor open to any questions or comments, giving them a few spare moments before getting on their feet once more.
Sarlock grumbles at the orders given to him. He always favored a place in the rearguard and he would have his opinion heard. Didn't the Wolf know this?
"Space Wolf, might I sit at the back of the line as usual? I find my talents," he says tapping his heavy bolter, "...are best suited for guarding the rear."
He awaits Yngvar's decision before stating one last thing.
"Well, let's get on with it. The quicker we get to Alpha-Ichi, the quicker we get to smashin' chaos skulls."
Gunter doesn't wait for Yvgnar to amend his orders to humor the Iron Hand, instead pulling his bolter and moving to the rear. If he is ordered to re-deploy to the flank with Aisha, so be it. If not, he'll follow the orders he was given.
In High Gothic Yngvar addresses Sarlock's concerns, "Thank you for asking, but we're trying something different for the time being. If you like, you can pretend the flank is the rear. Besides, our mission is to protect the civilians and Logan. An attack could come from any direction, meaning you are just as likely to be an asset from the rear as from the flank. The rest of you, equip your helmets and be sure to report any suspicious activity as information becomes available."
His helmet stowed safely on his utility belt, Yngvar moves to the point, just in front of Logan. Thinking any enemy targeting Logan my become confused seeing two space wolves, he turns over his shoulder and says "Stay behind me as we travel. Your safety is still crucial and I won't have you taking a stray sniper round assisting the fulfillment of your oath to these people."
Who does this young pup think he is talking to?
Bellowing so that all can hear, "Well, that's mighty fine if you want an untrustworthy Psyker guarding our rear...seems like some mighty fine work there, Squad Leader..."
Sarlock falls into place on the flank, training his heavy bolter on the forest around him, ready for an assault at any moment.
"Iron rusts. Only devotion to the Emperor can be trusted." Gunter's reply is soft and without malice. Privately, he wonders at the emotional outburst. While he understands hatred for psykers, he doesn't understand disrespect toward the chain of command.
With the orders given, the group begins moving out and just in time if the wind was any indication; a strong breeze blew from the easterly mountains and with it came the promise of Ork reinforcement. For, as awful as the dead ones smelled, the live ones somehow managed to smell even worse. Yngvar and Logan immediately pick up the scent, and moments later Rustin does as well, locking eyes with Logan and nodding that it was time. The group leaves as the remains of the Ork barracks smoulders in the wet night air. A multitude of carcasses litter the earth in various states of death; the civilians of Alpha-Ichi, while witness to the events as they unfolded, still gawk in awe at the magnitude of the carnage five Astartes and one human working together achieved. They move out the front gate that Pax had earlier ripped from its hinges and take to the forest using the path of least resistance - the one the Orks had created only hours before.
Yngvar is at the tip-of-the-spear, helmetless just in front of his Brother Space Wolf. The two look somehow genuinely out-of-place while simultaneously being completely in their element. True to the legacy of Space Wolves, they both keep a small grin on their faces as though they are privy to a joke that no one else is. The joke, however, is the reality of war. Space Wolves perhaps more than any other Astartes Chapter understand their place in the universe - the Emperor's attack dogs. There was a security and confidence ingrained in the thousands upon thousands of years of service in which they had excelled at being exactly that. Aside from their ever-growing canine teeth, perhaps that is why they seemed to constantly be grinning, for the galaxy was made simpler for them. Yngvar stands half a head taller than Logan, due to the impressive might of his Mk. 7 power armor. But what Logan loses in size, he gains in speed and maneuverability. Where an Astartes in power armor is capable of feats of agility on par with the fastest of mortal human athletes, a Kill Marine in Deathwatch Scout Armor pushes the limits even further. The Camo-Cloak that gently sways behind him in the night air seems to blend and move with the environment. At times, the only way to distinguish Logan from the environment around him is to stare directly at his uncovered head, but even that is a feat in and of itself, for the Kill Marine known as Back Breaker is constantly moving. Even when he stops he is so still that he is hard to notice. And Yngvar is quite sure that if the Kill Marine intended on going ahead on his own, there was nothing he could do to prevent that.
Pax came in third, acting as a relay for any orders given by the point-marines. He caried his flamer at the low ready, the pilot light not burning so as not to needlessly give away their position. The Astartes flamers were designed to ignite milliseconds before the promethium sprayed out in order to save ammunition and maintain operational secrecy. Behind him, Gypsy hefted the two Heavy Stubbers that had been easily reclaimed from the dead Lead Spitta. It had taken some minor work with his mono-edged combat blade, mostly to dislodge the Ork's thick skinned arm from firing mechanisms of the weapons, but with a tug and a snip the weapons had come free. Two more drums of ammunition were liberated from the magazine cache on the Nob, and Pax had found ample room with which to attach them to his web gear.
Rustin fell in behind Pax, staying close to Dayvon and Meoni, giving them simple directives to follow should the group come under attack. These directives were then passed from the two de-facto community leaders to the rest of the group, so that everyone knew their role and what to do in case of an emergency. The orders were to have children and elderly huddle into the middle of the group with every able bodied person ready to fight around them. If anything broke through the Astartes or Rustin, gang up on it until it was thoroughly dead. Rustin knew that if anything did break through the Astartes there wasn't much these people could do about it, but there was no point in breaking down their hope. If anything, hope was the one thing keeping them on their feet after losing so much in so little time. He knew that even if they all died fighting right now, they would do so knowing that the Emperor was watching every move they made - for His angels were among them.
Aisha and Sarlock take the flanks, making sure to keep eyes scanning the woods and the tips of the group. No one would fall out of line with them at the sides. Their battle-helms filtered for low-light and kept constant readings of wind speed, temperature and numbers of civilians marching in step with them. Sarlock, in a more sour mood than usual, keeps a brisk pace and says nothing. His mind was homing in on the fact that the arch-enemy was on this planet. After so much time, he would finally get to take the fight to them once again. Had his fist been flesh and blood, the strength in which he gripped his weapon would have made his knuckled white. As it was, however, the meticulously crafted adamantine bionic remained locked in place, begging to squeeze the firing rune.
Gunter brought up the rear, the beak-faced battle-helm of his Mk. 6 power armor distinguishing him from the rest of the group. He moved at a pace that allowed him to keep some distance behind the last civilian, his bolter at the low ready, able to pop up in the blink of an eye should a target present itself. Being in the rearguard gave the Black Templar plenty of time to meditate on everything that had transpired since coming to the Deathwatch, something he no doubt needed to do.
Home Sweet Home
The group marches for some time, using the path created by their attackers to the best of their abilities. More than once a cry rings out as one of the civilians trips and falls, drawing a hushed, panicked silence from the rest of the civilians. The Marines simply halt and scan their sectors. If the noise gave away their position they would quickly know and eliminate the threat immediately. But each time nothing happens, and the civilians begin to keep one another disciplined and quiet even when someone falls in the dark.
At long last the woods begin to thin and the group knows they are close to breaking free of the forest and out into the Ag-fields and Ag-habs that surrounded Alpha Ichi. They are halted with a single raised fist from Yngvar and Rustin motions for everyone to take a knee. The break in movement comes as a welcome relief for the oldest and youngest civilians, but the stop is not simply to allow them to rest. Yngvar and Logan stand back some feet behind the last shreds of tree line and take in the Settlement. With one word into his Microbead, Logan summons Rustin up and the three most agile members of the team share a moment of silence as they recon the area, speaking only with controlled hand gestures.
The rain had picked up again and was coming down in steady droplets. The breeze howled over the flat lands and the moon shined bright in the clear sky. Even without enhanced senses, the settlement could be seen clearly and nothing stirred, looking very much the same as when the group left it. With a nod of mutual understand, Logan and Rustin moved off in different directions, circling in front of and behind the settlement. Yngvar whispered into the microbead built into his armor's collar, updating the squad on the situation. He waited for what seemed like hours, but in reality was perhaps no more than ten minutes. At long last, Logan materialized from the woods to his South. After a few more moments, Rustin likewise appears to the North.
Logan shook his head. No enemy sighted.
And with a movement of his fist, Yngvar led the survivors of Alpha Ichi out of the wilderness and back into their homes. Logan, Rustin and Yngvar are the first to enter the forced-open blast doors of the Settlement proper and immediately notice something out of the ordinary. Aside from some of the bodies having been moved which could have been done by wild animals, the blast doors to the vehicle hangar containing the Taurus Venator are closed. Yngvar remembers clearly that they were left open and Pax verifies this almost without a second thought.
[OOC: Yngvar or anyone else, please feel free to repond to Sarlock's last post as it happens before responding/reacting to anything in this update]
Pre IC Update by D&F: "Huehuehue" Yngvar chuckles, ignoring Sarlock's sarcasm, "I do want him there. He deserves to be there, be the most exposed and be the one with the mightiest obligation to protect and escort. Onward."
Only mildly annoyed, Yngvar nevertheless feel's the need to explain himself so that the legitimacy of his judgement will not be allowed to collapse under the weight of what he knows to be his...unorthodox style of leadership.
Post IC Update by D&F: With the squad now back in Alpha-Ichi and some of them facing the closed blast doors, Yngvar immediately wonders where the woman they rescued may be.
Sarlock glances around noticing the discrepancies within the Alpha Ichi settlement. This doesn't bode well.... He moves in the direction of Aisha, stepping forward with his heavy bolter in a relaxed position.
"Apothecary, I require some assistance. It would appear that scum of a Nob did some damage to me in the previous engagement."
Gunter brings up the rear as the citizens file into the courtyard. Becoming aware of the silence and the changes since their last visit, Gunter becomes more cautious. Over the squad vox he says, "I'm going to investigate the chamber we left the survivor." He moves toward her last known position.
Aisha spares a glance for her fellow brother. His implants and robotics lit brightly in her HUD display. Without breaking her stride she jams her narthicum into his lower back and injects some painkillers and muscle relaxants. After a moment she pulls her tool back out and turns to his front. Her fellow Astartes took some deep gouging to his chest and his holy armor was torn. Aisha sprays his chest with a strong antibiotic. The Astartes body blessed by the Emperor had already started clotting. She pinches the ripped skin and seals it with several bio-staples from her narthicum she finishes off by spray gel skin over the wound.
"Brother, you will need to use cement on your armor."
Sarlock's thanks never came easily, but this Apothecary had proven herself quite excellent in her field.
"My thanks, brother. Quite a talented Apothecary you are."
Sarlock reaches for his repair cement and begins to apply it to the areas that have been breached.
Aisha administers her first aid with precision. Some of the more shell shocked Alpha Ichi refugees, unmoved by the bodies of their friends and family that litter the ground, stare as the giant in black power armor with two shining silver shoulders works effortlessly on the chest of the equally massive Space Marine hefting a cannon that's larger than most of them are tall.
After their experiences in the camp and the trek home, some simply kneel or sit down among the dead with their heads in their hands trying to process the traumas they have experienced. Some weep while others console. Dayvon begins organizing groups of men to start carrying the bodies to a more hallowed resting place while others take up shovels to begin digging graves. Meoni is busy turning and looking into the faces of the dead. At first it looks as though she is simply trying to identify those they have lost, but it becomes evident that she is searching for someone in particular. Some of the civlians mill about aimlessly, but they are in the minority as Rustin and Logan start making their rounds and whipping people into motion. It doesn't seem to matter what they are doing as long as they are keeping busy. Almost immediately Rustin organizes a watch party and men can be seen making their way up to positions on the wall to keep a look out.
Logan approaches the shut blast door into the vehicle maintenance garage. He has a lanky man with him, dirty and carrying a crude piece of piping with him - an impromptu weapon from the Ork camp, no doubt. He has blond curly hair and a few days worth of stubble on his chin. His eyes are awake and active as he talks about Emperor-knows what to Logan as the pair make their way to the garage. He wears coveralls and what could be taken for blood stains are actually oil and grease. Logan motions to the doors and the mechanic shrugs. Setting his pipe down on the ground, he starts punching numbers into the access pad next to the blast doors. Nothing happens. He repeats the motions and frustratedy kicks the doors, continuously speaking to Logan throughout the entire process.
The Space Wolf Kill-Marine rests a reassuring hand on the lanky mechanic's shoulder and waves at Paxius. With a jerk of his head and fist, he motions for the Techmarine to join them. "Ultramarine," he calls in High Gothic as Pax gets closer. "I need access to this building. This is Brakston." He nods to the lanky man beside him who, for his own part, maintains his cool and offers a smile and a nod to the enormous Techmarine. "He is the settlement's mechanic and he informs me that his access code the garage is no longer valid, which of course doesn't make sense since he was able to access it just this morning before the attack took place."
He turns his head to address Brakston and continues in Low Gothic, "Now, my friend, you are sure you entered the code in correctly?"
Not one to take offence, Brakston nods eagerly. "Yes, m'lord. I entered it in same as I always do. We don't get many visitors round 'ere, so it's not as though I have to change it often. And besides, the only ones who ever see fit to visit me in the garage are Mikki and Mintle, the Manta brothers who use the Tauros' to patrol the Ag fields and habs. I entered it same as I always do. Pound key," he says as he turns back to the access pad, once again pressing in his secret code. "1...2...3...4...5...6. Pound key." A bright red flash followed by the words "Incorrect Code" flash in Low Gothic on the screen. With a sigh of frustration, Brakston kicks the door again and exhasperatedly looks back to Logan and then at Paxius, completely at a loss.
"I suppose I should have changed the code," he says immediately reverting back to speaking out his inner thoughts, "seeing as one uh them Tauros' got nicked this afternoon afore the attack. But that happened out in the fields then, didn't it? Ha! Wasn't me code's fault at all. Though, I s'pose if anyone is gettin it open it'll be m'lord Ultramarine 'ere!" His eyes are filled with glee as a child seeing a hero for the first time might be. The Ultramarines were one of the most well-known and well-loved Marine Chapters in the galaxy and being in the presence of such a legendary figure is having a rather unexpected effect on Alpha Ichi's gregarious mechanic.
Logan takes this all in, and as he is about to question the man regarding one of the settlement's 6-wheeled all-terrain Tauros Venators being apparently stolen, a scream permeates the calm of the night. Anyone looking sees Meoni frantically running to Dayvon as he organizes a work party to move the dead. She is apparently in sudden excitement, "She isn't among the dead, Dayvon!" She exclaims through huffs of spent breath. "Where is she? They didn't take her with us! Where is our baby, Dayvon? Where is Deyva?"
Gunter makes his way to the girl's last known position, Aisha quickly in tow. The lighter Corvus armor he dons moves swiftly and gracefully. Though armored a bit less than the newer variants, the Mk. 6 moved with a grace seldom seen in Power Armor - the reason it was a suit favored among the assault Marines of various Chapters - and the heavily armored Daughter of Death does her best to catch up. The white cloth hanging from her belt down to her knees flows in the wind as she moves to Gunter, and Aisha has the tools of her Narthecium in the primed position in case the young woman is in need of medical aid. It had only been a few hours since they left her, and Aisha wasn't sure how deep her emotional wounds went. The fact that when they last spoke the girl had begged the Apothecary to end her life did not bode well for her emotional stability and Aisha half expected to find a myriad of self inflicted wounds and a pool of blood when they entered her living hab.
Leaving the open courtyard via an automatic door that the Astartes have to twist and maneuvre their way through while it hisses open, they find themselves in a cramped steel hallway. The door hisses closed behind them and their HUD's both tell of a high air temperature than outside. The climate controlled living habs were accomodating for normal humans, but the Astartes find themselves once again oversized for the fittings of mortal human beings. Slow twirling vent fans line the ceiling at equal intervals and a vox system/pict screen is set up at cooridoor hot-spots to relay settlement-wide announcements at a moment's notice. The screens flicker on and off, the emergency power systems currently working only allowing them to display a single frozen frame: "Our duty to the Emperor can only be paid with our lives."
It takes a few minutes before the two Marines find the girl's door. With a push it opens up easily enough. The bed you left her in is a mess, but she is no longer in it. The living hab is small, but much larger than those found on hive worlds. It could comfortably accomodate two people, and as such, had more than one room. The living room/bedroom that the two found themselves in connected on each end to two more rooms. One was a washroom and the other an eating/cooking area of sorts. A single square window was inset into the ferrocrete walls just above her bed, but the reinforced adamantine blast shutters that had locked into place during the assault obscured any view to the outside world. The blast shutters were of such thickness that the patter of hard rain on them could hardly be heard, even with the Marine's enhanced senses.
"Deyva?" Aisha calls out in Low Gothic. A crash comes from the kitchen and in the millisecond it took the sound to register, both Marines have their bolters up. Gunter instinctively covers the group's rear - the direction of the wash room - while Aisha proceeds forward toward the kitchen, where the sound originated from. Taking one step forward nearly puts Aisha into the kitchen and she stares at the scared features of the young woman she left in here earlier. With a knife clutched tightly in her grip, and no longer naked, she lets out a startled held breath.
"Throne save me! You scared the Emperor-loving shite right out of me!" She seems to remember who she is addressing as the adrenaline subsides and adds a quick, "my Lord" in Low Gothic. "I thought them Orks was back and... I thought they would try and take me again." Her eyes flicker to the knife for a moment and it is clear she had no intentions of being taken a second time, regardless of what that entailed. Dropping the knife into a drawer as Aisha lowers her Bolter, Deyva asks the obvious.
"Did you find them?"
"We found the orks and they are no more. We found your friends, most of whom are alive and with us outside."
Aisha puts her bolter away an motions her to the door. "Best to rejoin your comrades, they will be very happy to see you alive."
"Brother Pax, if you can get through this blast door please do so. If the vehicle is still stored inside, it should make for useful tool."
Yngvar is relatively certain Deyva is alive and wishes to share this good news with Meoni and Dayvon who he assumes to be her family. Responding to them in Low Gothic, "She was left here alive before we set out for the ork camp. If she remained here and unharmed, she will be found quickly. Now, this settlement seems to be missing a Tauros. Mr. Brakston believes it was taken before the orks attached. Since they seem to have been the only others who had the blast door access code, what can you tell me about the Manta brothers?"
Dayvon and Meoni's eyes both go wide at the news of their daughter's fate. They are about to respond when a young woman nearly busts out through the hab-block door, verbally admonishing it for not opening fast enough. Her hair is pulled up, but still finds a way to fall out and flow freely in the wind. She has her father's hard eyes but her mother's beautiful features. Even from this distance, you can see her eyes are as wide as her parents, who quickly break away from Yngvar's company and rush to meet their daughter. They embrace as only those who have lost and feared complete loss, but had it denied, could. Dayvon picks her up in a bear hug and spins with her, laughing at this twist of fate. Meoni allows her tears to flow freely and the effects of this on the larger settlement start to spread. Most people take the bout of good news as yet one more sign of the Emperor's providence; some clap, others drop to their knees and give Him thanks, while most simply smile and nod. A few remain stationary, overwhelming grief gluing them in place as they contemplate their losses and despair refuses to let them go.
After a few moments and silent words among one another, Deyva and Meoni walk off to a group of civilians not far away and begin talking. Dayvon makes his way back to Yngvar, choked up and misty eyed but smiling wildly. "My Lord, Space Marine, you will never know what this means to me. You will never know what you have done for my family. I have nothing to offer that is not already yours - my life, this settlement, everything." He laughs a bit under his breath and reigns in his emotions. He knew it was his right to be happy, but as the leader of the Settlement he had a responsibility and chief among that was not rubbing his luck into the faces of the unfortunate. He takes a deep breath and stills himself.
"I know nothing about one of our machines being stolen. I was not made aware of this," he says the last bit loud enough so Brakston could hear and the mechanic picks up on this, making his way over. "Of course," he says to Yngvar alone, "today has not been the best of days." He scans his eyes around, looking at the battered and the dead being picked up and identitified then walked over to a quickly growing amount of graves being dug. "The Manta brothers? Miki and Mintle, they aren't the sharpest sword in the sheath, but they are..." He sighs heavily and points to two bodies that lay nearest the doors, cut down by Ork fire as the doors were blasted open.
"They were good boys. They often patrolled the Ag fields in one of our Tauros'. They used the Heavy Flamer on top to clear the trees and weeds back mostly. You have to understand, before today we had never been attacked - Throne, we had never even seen any Orks though we knew there were some ferals deep in the forest to the south!" He spits on the ground, controlling his anger at the advantage that the Orks had taken.
Brakston approaches carefully, already speaking before making the distance to the two, "Dayvon, it wasn't me fault!"
"Brakston, tell me the whole of it and don't you leave a thing out." Dayvon stared hard at the man, and it was obvious why he was chosen as one of their leaders. As well as rallying the people's spirits, he was not shy nor afraid of confrontation when it was necessary. From Brakston's stance and demeanor, it was obvious he was trying his best to appease Alpha Ichi's honcho.
"Well, Miki and Mintle came to the garage about an hour afore the Greens hit us. They said they was out on patrol in the Ag-habs, hadn't even made it to the fields yet, and stopped to take a leak... and... well and to take a bump of some Boonzefirm. It's homemade liquor, my Lord Space Marine," he quickly adds for Yngvar's benefit as though the Marine was slightly interested in the ins and outs of moonshining on Imperial backworlds. "Anyways, they said they only stopped for ten or so minutes and when they went back the Tauros was just gone! Nicked! Just like that. Them Orks must have done it!"
Dayvon shakes his head, "If it were the Orks, Miki and Mintle wouldn't have made it back to tell you the story, Brakston."
The mechanic nods in agreement, lost in thought for a moment, then adds, "I ought to ring their necks for lettin' it get stolen! Where are they anyway? I haven't seen 'em since we got hit. Did they hide out like Deyva done?" He looks hopeful, but his face drops as he clearly reads the negativity in Dayvon's eyes.
"I'm sorry, son." Dayvon points to two bodies on the ground near the door. Brakston shakes his head, tears welling in his eyes.
"No, no, that can't be right, can it? I was just speakin' to them both earlier. No, that's not..." He takes a few steps forward and then one back, pointing at the bodies and then grabbing his face as though he cannot reconcile what he was seeing. "They was me best mates, Dayvon. I ain't got no one now." Tears are starting to fall and he does his best to hide his emotions in front of Yngvar. He walks off and Dayvon doesn't attempt to stop him.
"I am sorry, Lord Space Marine, but I think he needs some time. I am going to go try and help, with your leave, my Lord." It is apparent that Dayvon wants to go console the mechanic, but is willing to follow proper procedures. If Yngvar needed anything else of him, he would remain.
Sarlock watches from afar, the multitude of differing emotions playing out around him. Emotions...The ones on display a bit confusing for the Iron Hands Marine. Sure he knew rage and pride, hate and scorn, but happiness or sadness? There was no room for these in the mind of an Iron Hands. No good could come from these petty emotions. Only the ones he knew would save him in a fight. Only the ones he knew would stamp out the corruption that had taken his brothers the many thousands of years prior.
He walks over to Pax, hoping to move things along and get out there to fight. Every second wasted was one that could be used killing Chaos.
"Those boys grace the All Father now. We can't but consider their lives served the greater purpose of helping the rest of you to live." Yngvar's preoccupations keep him from feeling any actual empathy for the human mechanic, though he knows the motions well. He does sincerely hope the mechanic can continue to help the community despite the human wreckage laid bare all around them.
Turning to Deyva, "I trust you have locked and stowed the blast door in it's current position, yes? Perhaps you could show us the way inside. For the sake of reducing our time on this planet, I hope you have more luck opening the blast door than the door to the hab-lock."
A promethium fire is lit in Yngvar's head at the mention of the short window in which the vehicle was stolen, along with the booze consumed by the now dead patrol brothers. "I believe I have seen those responsible for the theft," he continues to Dayvon. I must inform our squad of this intel. "Go be with your daughter. Your people."
Yngvar's face is like stone and his body, from the shoulders down, sways around his motionless head as he ponders the decision to not pursue the gretchin while walking back to the blast door. He knows now that detaining them would have been useful.
In high gothic via the vox, "Brothers, there be gretchin about. I noticed several of them fleeing the ork complex. I feel it is likely that they are responsible for the stolen vehicle. Once the blast door is open hopefully we may still make use of remaining tauros, if it indeed remains."
Letting the high gothic revert to low, "Pax, let's get this bloody fookin' thing open."
Deyva looks very confused. "My Lord Space Marine," she begins attempting to show the proper ettiquette when addressing a Space Marine even though necessity allows it to only come in the form of Low Gothic. "I did not leave my hab once in the time that you were gone saving my people. I heard nothing to indicate that anything or anyone had come or gone until the others," she says pointing back to her hab no doubt indicating Gunter and Aisha, "had come into me living space. If you say someone closed that door and it was not you, all I can say is that it was not I either." She looks to her parents, hoping that she has not drawn the ire of the God of war before her.
"He ain't no Lord deary. Tha' metal clad bastard is one o' the Emperor's bloodhounds. He'd charge 'eadfirst into a Landraider for a milkbone and a leg to rub up on."
With a smirk Rustin strides up to the small gathering. He tosses a half empty bottle of what is likely a crude form of alcohol to Yngar before turning to wink at Deyva. "Glad to see yer still breathin' deary. Hell comes a' knockin, and ye still 'ave a smile tha' could make an Ork blush." Turning to Dayvon, Rustin slaps him firmly on the shoulder. "We've work to do brotha'. I've got folks gathering weapons and ammo. Gonna need four o' yer best scouts to see 'wha direction those tauros tracks went." Patting Dayvon and Meoini on the back once more, Rustin walks away whistling a tune.
Clicks, pings, static and the sound a robot makes when it throws up mid-coitus
Logan smiles at Rustin's "charm" toward the girl; he knew exactly how silver Rustin's tongue could be and had tolerated much worse from the mercenary for reasons that were entirely his own. But it can be reasonably assumed that Rustin's skill as a scout and a combatant have a lot to do with it. Devya blushes as though someone had painted her cheeks red, but does not make her leave yet should Yngvar need to ask anything more of her. Dayvon listens intently to Rustin's call for aid and nods once, putting his pinkies into his mouth and whistling loudly. As all heads look up to see who called, he rattles off the names of four men who immediately come running.
"This is Laerd, Marko, Yuli and Junt," he says as the four assemble around their leader. "You four," he addresses the men. "Head out with Rustin - he is taking the lead. Stay sharp. You are looking for tracks, not for trouble. Get back here as soon as you find what you need."
The men nod, all but one carrying lascarbines on their shoulders. The one without the carbine has one of the few combat shotguns and a half-empty bandolier of ammunition across his chest. At a trot, they take off after Rustin to venture out into the Ag-habs and look for signs of the stolen Tauros Venator.
Pax gives the mechanic - Brakston - a look of mild annoyance under his helm and moves to inspect the seemingly locked blast doors. Rain pats down at a slower pace now as the cloud cover begins to break overhead. The servos of his Mk. 7 battle-plate whir lightly as he unintentionally stomps up to the ferrocrete building. The adamantine blast doors were of higher than average quality than what Agamemnon Paxius would have expected on a mining backwater such as this, but such was the way of the Imperium and eternal bureaucracy that kept it running; a favor here, or a bribe there and before long the reinforced steel blast doors are being replaced with adamantine. A giant Imperial Aquila stood proud in the center of both doors, its two heads - one blind and one looking out - formed of solid white iron. Vaulted gothic archways split off from the building to the east and west, eventually connecting to the inner perimeter walls.
Work parties moved off to Pax's right, gathering weapons - mostly lasrifles and a few lascarbines with an odd combat shotgun strewn about - and going about the painstaking process of digging graves. A small detachment of the more elderly citizens, though they numbered very few, who had made their way into the mess hall begin bringing out plates of hot food to the citizens.
Not paying them much heed, Pax walks up to the access pad and pulls forth the multikey he obtained earlier from the Dead Skitarii Tech-Guard. With a few pushes of various button, the Ultramarine accesses the key's internal memory once again, looking for anything that can help him with the task at hand. Nothing is obviously apparent, but certain fragments of data within the key glow green on Pax's HUD as they scroll across - apparently it recognized some of the locking coding within the garage's access pad. It was nowhere near as helpful as it would have been had the multikey not apparently stopped a heavy stubber round at close range, but it would do.
Gypsy stirs on Pax's back as the Techmarine begins interfacing with the access pad itself. He uses the multikey as a go between, interfacing into it as it interfaces with the access pad. He makes a mental note to request the installation of an MIU once the mission is complete before starting the process of unlocking the relatively young and simple machine spirits that dwell within the structure. Given the age of the settlement and the relatively low-security of a simple garage, he doubted it would be too hard to access. But things are not always as they seem.
Almost immediately he can tell something is wrong. The security coding for the doors has been modified and upgraded to levels he had only previously encountered aboard warships and Astartes armories. Piece by piece he begins breaking away at them, pushing the Omnissiah's will inside of the machine and rebuilding the code brick-by-painful-brick. His eyes jerk back and forth inside of his helmet, taking in the myriad of information displayed on his HUD until the code begins to unravel. His left hand manipulates the multikey to get as much use out of it as possible while his right hand inserts numeric combinations in techna-lingua code on the access pad itself. Finally, the last walls fall. The access code flashes green and the words "Access Granted" flash over the screen in Low Gothic.
Whirring servos hiss and spin as the doors are pulled open automatically. Dim light spills down into the garage proper.
The most obvious change is the remaining Tauros Venator itself. Half of its previously disconnected wheels have been reattached - and done so with great skill. Pax knows for a fact, remembering every detail from his last time in the garage, that four pairs of the rear six (12 rear wheels in total) were off the axels and lined up against a wall. Now they seem to be placed back on as if off the forge lines. The twin Heavy Stubbers lay where Pax remembers, and his eyes move from the weapons to the rest of the dimly lit room.
The door to the office is now open, but that is hardly a concern compared to the humanoid form in a red-robe that stands behind the hood of the Tauros, facing the open blast doors with two fierce looking pistols of superb Imperial design aimed straight at Pax's head. For whatever reason, it seems to hesitate a bit upon seeing Pax and Logan, lowering its weapons ever so slightly.
It is larger than an ordinary human and the myriad of mechadendrites coming off of its body make it looks bigger than it actually is. Its face is covered by a red hood but you have no doubt that optical mechadendrites are targetting you even now, attempting to find weak spots on your bodies and armor. It stands alone in the garage, one mechadendrite holding the Venator up at an angle as another - even now - spot welds here and there on its undercarriage. One thing you know for certain is that this is no mere Skitarii.
With a screech of jarbled static, electronic hisses and beeps it communicates in what can only be techna-lingua.
Sarlock raises his heavy bolter up slightly upon seeing the threat posed by the mechanical humanoid, hoping it didn't make any stupid mistakes that it would regret immediately. Quite a surprise we got here...
"What's the little machine man saying, Tech Marine? I'm sure you would know."
The Tech Priest readjusts the angle of the pistol in its cybernetic right hand so that a shot would be more or less right on Sarlock's neck. The jarbled mechanical noises coming from it intensify as the Iron Hand takes aim in his usual heavy-handed fashion at the Martian.
Between techna-lingua an underlying High Gothic flows forth to Sarlock, "I...am...not...your....enemy...Purity...in...Steel."
Pax immediately relays a message in Techna-lingua and the vicious pistol lowers slightly. His guard is still up, but the Martian Priest has taken a more docile stance toward the Iron Hands Devastator.
Sarlock lowered the heavy bolter slightly, but was rather tense regardless of what the little robot said. He kept a close watch on him as Pax continued his conversation. Never having enjoyed techna-lingua much, Sarlock was completely in the dark as to the intricacies of the language.
Let's hope the tech marine knows what he is doing...
Rustins's career had seen him across dozens of worlds. Bustling Hive cities, frozen wastelands, unforgiving frontier worlds, and everything in between. His years of "service" to the God Emperor of man had pushed him to his physical peak. His muscled frame was a contrast to his agile movements. He smirked as his boots stomped into the wet soil beneath him. The sound of four others followed quickly behind him. He'd had a lot of titles in his time, from Mercenary...to Prisoner...Prisoner to soldier...Soldier to Agent of the throne itself. He shook his head. And now, right back to square one. Riches, women, old favors, and the burning hatred for the ruinous powers were all he clung to anymore.
He halted, abruptly holding up a first indicating to the four behind him to stop. Yuli, Leard, Junt, and Marko, or as he'd come to call them... Thunder-juggs, Glass,Two-tone, and Marko.....Marko was just Marko. They weren't soldiers, but they knew how to pull a trigger.
"Remember wha' we talked about lads. Only fire on my signal, and don't even 'tink about engaging any'ting bigger than a Nob. We're out 'ere to find tha' Tauros, not get revenge. " He knowingly chuckled to himself as checked the LED on his magazine. Maybe he would take his own advice....maybe.
Marko slowly raised his hand. "Mr. O'kennick...which ones were the Nob's again?"
Rustin shook his head. "The tracks veer off in this direction. Juggs, brush Marko up on greenskin 101 for me will ye?"
They continued to move. For the four refugees this was a much needed outlet. Purpose gave them time to cope. For Rustin, this was time to think. The Astartes back at the outpost spat it from his mouth.....Chaos. He knew he might be in over his head, but he had a promise to keep to somebody. If the ruinous powers had manifested on this rock, it was his duty to "redeem" the fuck out of them...."Feck Chaos."
Ponto stood sentry on the walls of the once again bustling settlement. Alpha Ichi was alive once more, but only barely. The perimeter doors still lay beaten off their hinges inside the courtyard, allowing free entry to any and all. Normally that would have been a problem, but the Emperor saw fit to send five more mighty Astartes to assist the settlement. Ponto took heart in that and tried not to think of the recent attack.
It had been so fast - so brutal. He still heard the screams of the Ag-workers in his mind. The first dozen had been slain so quickly that the second dozen scarce had a chance to respond before they too died. Few had made it back inside of the settlement before the doors closed and the perimeter-las opened up. Bodies still littered the Ag-habs and he could feel only sadness for the loss and shame at the settlement's lax security. Logan, the giant of a man, had led the defenses with an inhuman speed and skill, but in the end it had not been enough. The huge robotic Orks had rammed against the doors with sparkling blue klaws until they fell.
Ponto sighed and walked his section of wall. "Wall" wasn't technically correct as what he was walking on was more akin to the roof of the living quarters of the settlement, but it served as both a roof and an observation/defense platform should the need arise - which it very apparently had. The human who had come with Logan called "Rustin" had handed him the lasrifle he lazily held over one shoulder with orders to man the wall and act as a lookout. His mind hovered again over the bodies of his friends when a movement in the treeline to the East caught his eye. The trees were about a kilometer away and the movement had been tiny. Ponto leaned against the wall and peered out, hoping to catch it again.
Marko nodded as he was explained to yet a second time what a "Nob" was. He nodded a third time as Yuli scolded him for not having his lascarbine tucked into his shoulder, ready to operate. Marko was not a soldier, and while he knew how to fire the weapon in his hands, he was not all that great of a shot either. What Marko was, however, was fast. In fact, he was the fastest man in the Settlement, often times winning liquor rations from those who thought they could take him in a foot race. Yuli, on the other hand, was as tough as she was quiet. Quiet as a mouse but more full figured, Yuli worked the Ag-habs with the others.
Laerd and Junt covered Rustin's flanks while Marko and Yuli hung toward the back. Rustin was in charge and the others seemed more than aware of that fact. They all moved with a purpose, but maintained their quiet approach, weaving in and out of ag-habs and open-air yield-fields. All around them, bodies lay where they fell and the flies had already begun to buzz, but the rain had kept the worst of them at bay.
It didn't take long before Rustin and the others made their way to the last known position of the missing Tauros Venator. From the looks of it, no struggle of any kind had occurred. In fact, if Rustin was not a skilled tracker, he may have missed the area all together. Luckily, the rain-softened earth had left visible tracks of the Tauros' multiple wheels heading off away from the forests and the mountains beyond them. The tracks led to the West, to the coast and the rocky hills that lined it.
Information passes between the Tech Priest and Pax as they both try and assess the new turn of events. Even as the tension is raised upon Sarlock's arrival, neither the Techmarine nor the Martian miss a beat, such was the way that Techna Lingua was communicated. After what seems like minutes to the two involved, but was actually only seconds, the Tech Priest lowers his weapons and withdraws his Mechadendrites.
"Greetings." He speaks in a monotonous voice not unlike Pax's, but as he progresses in High Gothic, the deep drops in tone with some of the vowels distinguish his voice from the autotuned Ultramarine's. "I am Tech Priest Viggo +++further name verification classified level: Platinum+++ Field Operations Officer; Protector and Guardian of knowledge and servant of Holy Mars, the Omnissiah and the Emperor."
He takes two steps forward, holstering both of his pistols on two intricate maglocks on each hip. He pulls back his red hood, showing his face and Pax knows that this is a huge sign of respect among the Mechanicus - akin to showing one's true self. His head has been heavily augmented with cybernetics. The lower half of his face, including his nose and mouth, has been completely replaced with bionic replacements. A grill akin to the facemask of elite Imperial Guard Stormtroopers acts as a filter and vox while his ears have been replaced with advanced audio sensors. The entire back of his head is steel with the only flesh remaining being his right eye, the left having been replaced with a red cybernetic much akin to Sarlock's.
"The Ultramarine and I have updated ourselves to the current situation at hand. Chaos +++redirect from Low Gothic+++ Traitoris Extremis walks this earth. Orks should take priority secondus in light of this new development, given your mission parameters - whatever they may be - +++currently unknown why Astartes are planetside+++. At least one of my envoys to restore communications has been terminated and the other has not checked in - overdue by three hours nine minutes forty-size point two-one-nine-three-six seconds."
The Tech Priest hangs on these last words, his good eye making minute ultra rapid movements as his brain processed a wealth of information. You notice his left hand twitch slightly, yet another odd quirk of one of humanity's greatest oddities - Martians.
"I was in the process of baptizing this worthy Tauros when you broke my security seal on the door." The good eye scans Pax once again, "A very impressive feat, Omnissiad. You also mentioned tapping into the record-memo of one of my Skitarii - an equally impressive feat. You have proven yourself a worthy student of the Deus Ex. Where now, is the body of the Skitarii in my service?"
Gunter has wandered off while Pax worked on the door, so doesn't experience meeting his very first Martian in the 'flesh' - instead, he finds the Command Center. Even with the communications black-out, the camera feeds might provide useful intelligence.
With a quick burst of techna-linguia, Pax gives the rough coordinates of the ork camp to Tech Priest Viggo. He follows up in High Gothic again. "Apologies, Tech Priest Viggo, but your Skitarii's body was not mission critical. How do you intend to end the planetwide blackout?"
Gunter has no trouble finding Alpha-Ichi's Command Center. Winding his way through the living-habs where he and Aisha had left the girl Deyva, he follows the path of least resistance until living quarters give way to more sterile areas. Plans and settlement blueprints had been transmitted to the team aboard the Doomsayer and displayed themselves on the Templar's HUD as he walked through corridors that were scarcely populated. The settlement-survivors who did catch a glimpse of the Astartes quickly moved away. No one wanted to be in the path of such a powerfully armed and armored figure if they didn't have to be. Even without the electronic maps in his HUD, the Command Center was clearly marked at hallway intersections on steel maps bolted into the wall depicting fire escapes and other areas of import. Before long, the kitchen and supply areas faded away and a clear path leading up to the third floor of the north wall appeared.
The thud of his heavy boots on the ferrocrete floor turned into clanks as he ascended a staircase made for creatures of smaller stature. Even still, the stairwell was built sturdy enough and held his gurth without issue. A single entrance door stood shut before him, "Clearance Only" written in Low Gothic had been electro painted under a steel Aquila. As he approaches, it opens automatically. Gunter has to slide through at an angle in order to get inside the door and is met with a surprised gasp as soon as he makes his way inside.
"My Lord Astartes!" A young woman perhaps of barely 28 sidereal years stands in shock at the sight of Gunter in his beaked Mk. 6 Corvus battle helm. "I..." she seems at a loss for words and simply kneels down in front of him. The room is lined with Vox equipment, command consoles and pict-viewers. A mic is set up to transmit messages to various other mining sites and settlements, as well as the prison outside of mining site 0. Among other things, it is also used to broadcast onto the loudspeakers set up around Alpha-Ichi for announcements, sermons and more. There is an internal staircase that leads to the fourth floor of the north wall and at a glance Gunter can tell it allows onlookers a good view of the internal-courtyard to the south and the wilds to the north through armaglass viewing ports.
[busy day today and class is about to start. I will get Viggo's response in when I can. I know it has been a while so I will remind you here, there is not a planetwide blackout, per se. The two comms towers provide open vox communication for most of the planet, such is their design at the planetary highpoints; at the very least they allow planet-to-orbit comms and settlement-to-settlement comms. If Pax is referring to the psychic blackout, that is only centered around the area you are currently in. Inquisitor Carmillus stated that she tried to contact Alpha-Ichi psychically and was blocked and that it centered around Mining Site 0.]
After seeing to Deyva, Aisha winds her way over to the garage where Pax and Sarlork are looking in. Aisha stops and watches Pax manipulate the door and is shocked and further surprised by the revealed Tech Priest. Aisha quietly relives her promethium load off to the side of the garage. She stands silently and observes Pax and the Priest as inconspicuously as possible for her hulking stature.
Sarlock listens to the Tech Priest as he splits his conversation between the two languages. He cringes once again at the mention of chaos, his metal teeth grinding inside of his helmet. Sarlock knew that he should stick to the mission parameters, but he knew the stink of Chaos and how it affected an Astartes. It felt different. Chaos on the planet changed everything and in his mind. Everything was covered in a red hue. Everything was now centered on the search and destroy of these betraying bastards.
He lowered his heavy bolter more this time at the sight of the Tech Priest lowering his weaponry, and backed off a few steps. Let's hope we get moving...I don't intend to dilly-dally in this human settlement for long...
For a moment, the Tech Priest's human eye shows something exceedingly rare for one of his kind - emotion. Anger flashes briefly at the news that his Skitarii cohort was left behind at the Ork encampment, but it quickly fades. "Yes, I understand." His finger twitches so minutely that only an Astartes can notice it as the location of the Skitarii body is transferred to him from Pax and stored away inside a heavily enhanced cerebellum. Brakston stands stock still nearby, finally shocked into silence by the rare forms around him.
"Planetwide blackout... communications blackout... it is not planetary, Ultramarine, though it may as well be. The Communication Relay Tower installations in the mountains to the East +++approximately 32 kilometers through dense forest+++ and the coast line to the West +++approximately 19 kilometers over hilled grasslands+++ provide the means of electronic communication that the Omnissiah has blessed humanity with; however, they only cover an area large enough to encapsulate the various mining sites and human settlements of Serenity." He barely moves as he speaks, but a soft red glow does issue forth from the Vox grill where his mouth should be and from time to time his head nods in accordance with something he says.
He continues speaking, still in a monotonous High Gothic so the Astartes present can hear. "In response to your querry, I do not plan on ending the communication malfunction. I have sent others in my stead to do so. Should they fail, my purpose and worth to the Omnissiah and the Mechanicus will be needed elsewhere; as such, my masters have not affirmed my admition into direct combat. This issue seems to be of import to you... +++possible mission parameters+++ Is it reasonable for me to deduce that you have come here with foreknowledge of the communication breakdown and intend to right the wrong?"
As Aisha approaches, Viggo spares her a glance. More specifically, he spares her lack of heraldry and livery a look. "Interesting," he says apparently encountering an Astartes he had no previous knowledge of.
Gunter chimes in over the vox, "Squad Leader, this is Gunter in the command center. This settlement isn't what it seems. Looks like there is a major involvement of the Mechanicum here. Not sure of the purpose. There is a secure inner chamber within the command center. I'll see if I can take a better look."
Gunter takes off his beaked helm and attaches it to the belt at his waist. Looking at the people in the command center he smiles - at least, what passes as a smile for him. "Can you show me the camera feeds? What can you see from here?" He doesn't ask about sealed door - at least, not yet.
The woman breaks from her shock when she sees Gunter's post-human face smile. Largely alien from her own, the gigantism in his features seem to soften only momentarily for his "smile" and it is all the woman needs to snap back into reality.
"At once, my Lord. Please, forgive my initial shock," she speaks as she moves to a control console, manipulating buttons and dials. "After your valiant rescue at the Greenskin camp and escort back here, Emperor be praised, I thought that would be the last time I saw an Astartes. I never imagined I would be speaking to one face-to-face, or rather face-to-armored stomach." Her last quip is quite evident as at her full height the top of her head barely touches what would be Gunter's abdomen.
"Here, my Lord." She points to a set of pict-viewers built into the walls behind Gunter. From her position at the command console, she can change out different cam-feeds while monitoring them on the much larger pict-viewers. Most of them are simply static, the comms blackout having affected more than simple Vox frequencies.
"I have never seen anything like this. In all my time here and at the Mining Site, the camera feeds have never just failed to operate. Even in the past if something went haywire at one of the 'Sisters,' er, sorry, my Lord. The 'Sisters' are what we locals call the Communications Towers. Anyway, in the past if they had a problem, our cam-feeds still stayed operational. But," she seems hesitant to recall something and Gunter catches an almost imperceptive shiver go through her body very quickly. "There is something else."
Her fingers work a keyboard and the multiple pict-viewers go black before they all converge into one feed so that all viewers make up a small piece of a much larger feed-puzzle. The much larger view of a single cam-feed comes on, grainy at first until it clears out into a rather good-quality picture.
"This is Prison 0-119X, or more commonly referred to as 'P-zero.' It as attached to the outer perimeter of Mining Site 0 and houses the penal laborers currently utilized in the more mundane aspects of the mining operation. This was from yesterday."
The cam-feed appears to be within a dining commons of some sort. Penal laborers walk with empty trays to fill with protein supplements and local produce grown at Alpha-Ichi while others move with full trays to find seats. All of them have the distinctive explosive-collars attached to their necks and two riot servitors are tucked into a wall at the far corner as a constant reminder to stay in line. Minutes pass and nothing happens. Then, heads turn as a loud explosion followed by muffled yells occurs off camera. The prisoners all go into a prone position with their hands on their heads, perhaps more from muscle memory than the fact that what is happening is anything but ordinary. The camera feed starts to go grainy as a giant hands comes from the bottom of the frame and rips the camera from the wall. The picture becomes distorted and only fuzzy shapes can be seen in the distance.
Then the screaming starts.
"It ends there I am afraid." She shakes her head as another shiver racks her body. I do not know what has happened, but we have had no contact with P-zero since this occurred. Before that, Mining Site 0 went black yesterday morning, roughly six hours before this video was recorded." She sighs and puts her hands in the air. "And that is it. None of the other cam-feeds are giving us anything - only static or blackness."
She stands and approaches Gunter, bowing low, "Forgive me. With everything going on I forgot simple manners. I am Keiko Yokshu, Second-in-Command of Mining Site 0's operation and control. And, as of yesterday, I seem to be one of the last living Mining Site 0 operators left on this planet. No one else has returned from their shift since yesterday."
"Keiko Yokshu, I am pleased to have met you. A thousand years from now I may still be carrying this memory of you, Emperor willing." Gunter makes the sign of the Aguila as he continues. "That is, if his enemies have not bested me. Any information you provide may help me against a most... pernicious foe," Gunter is careful not to reveal the nature of the enemy. "Is there any additional footage from the times each camera went dark? More importantly, what lies beyond the sealed door?" Gunter gestures toward the door with the Mechanicus icon faintly visible.
Keiko blushes and stifles a giggle that the Astartes praise brought forth. She walks back to her workstation before responding, the long black hair hanging off of her pony tail swaying slightly as she moves. Her body is of average height for a standard human female adapting to the gravity of a Terra-esque planet with small features and strong dark eyes, almost black.
"I was in here before the attack checking into this anamoly, trying to see if the problem was on our end. I was scanning the footage from the cameras when the Orks hit us. After that I was holding a las rifle and doing my best to make my last moments on Serenity worthy of the Emperor. After your rescue I made my way straight back here. Granted, I am hungry and tired, but I want answers as well and so far that piece of footage is the only one that yields any sort of answers. Whatever caused the camera feeds in P-zero and Mining Site 0 itself to die did so in one fell swoop, I am afraid. The feeds from the Sisters went perhaps three minutes later. One by one the perimeter cams just went offline - no static, just to black as though they were destroyed. I can replay their last footage before they went black if you like. Both the Sisters interior cams went to static soon after as though they simply malfunctioned. I hate to use this word under the circumstances, but we are lucky to have gotten the footage from P-zero that we have."
She takes a seat in a padded leather chair behind the main console, fingers on her temples in an effort to rub out some of the headache that his mess has caused her. She takes a deep breath, her eyes closed and concentrating, until Gunter asks about the second door. "It is just a secondary entrance, similar to the one you just entered." She points to the door from which Gunter entered to emphasize her point. "That one just leads in the opposite direction, back into Alpha-Ichi."
"And this mark?"
Keiko has to get up and walk over to what Gunter is pointing at. She then has to put on her glasses and intensify their magnification before she has an idea of what he is talking about.
"Oh, is that? Wait. What is it?" She studies it for a moment before seeming to make out what it actually is. "A cog mechanicum, yes of course. I have much familiarity with this symbol; it adorns nearly every piece of heavy mining equipment at the mine itself. I can only speculate, my lord, but I would assume that the Mechanicum is responsible for this door's construction."
If she sees any significance in this it doesn't show. Having worked closely with the great digging engines of the Mechanicum, their symbols and livery are not unfamiliar to her.
"The Mechanicum has a large vested interest in one of the last mining worlds in the Orpheus Salient, after all, my lord."
Hearing Gunter's declaration of the Mechanicum's presence on Serenity makes Yngvar turn, hand to ear, as he smiles. He responds, "Funny story about that. Get back here as soon as you can," as he turns back to Viggo.
Yngvar listens intently to the tech priest as he recounts his activities on the planet.
After Viggo mentions the lost mechanicum team, Yngvar straightens, turns at the torso to Logan and says, "you know anything about any of this? You've been here longer than any of us. What could could possibly have drawn chaos from it's place of foul heresy to this mining backwater?"
Reiterating the apologies of Pax to Viggo, "There was simply nothing that could be functionally done about the skitarii. Not when we had plenty of others to aid." Yngvar knows full well the civilians, as a group, and their leaders can provide assistance to the kill team. To say nothing of keeping Logan alive.
"What plans have you with the Tauros? Going somewhere? Perhaps we can help." Yngvar, eyeing Viggo as he had been since the, discovered him, was suspicious. Yngvar thought it looked very awkward to have interrupted it/him attempting to keep concealed while repairing the Tauros. He feels the augmented senses of this mostly mechanical creature surely heard the Astartes outside.
At the Garage
Logan shakes his head in response to Yngvar's question, never once taking his eyes off of the Tech Priest. "Nye, Brother. I had no idea the Mechanicum had dropped agents in the field here. It was on no intel report I went over before making planetfall. But that isn't what is puzzling me." He walks in close to Yngvar so that his words would not go unheard and speaks in Fenrisian to ensure that even if they are, they will not be understood. "What troubles me is that I did not smell him. Not once. I am having a hard time figuring out a time table. I was here for more than a week before the attack, making contacts, probing the woods and scouting the Ork numbers. We never had anyone from the Mechanicum enter the Settlement. If we did, I would have sniffed him out long ago. As for the... filth-grox-fething traitors... I have no clue as to their mechanations for this planet. Even if I did, it would matter not. They must be ripped apart and erased from memory."
He moves away and goes back to listening to the interchange, every now and again stepping away to offer a word to one of the civilians and get them moving in the right direction.
Viggo looks beyond Yngvar to the refugees milling about and attempting to go about some productive work. "Logistically my Skitarii is worth every one of them put together and more in a battle. I believe you have made a logical error in your sentiment. It matters not now. What's done is done."
Viggo spares a glance back at the Tauros and his Mechadendrites twitch as he considers continuing his hallowed work on it. "I was, yes. As I said, contact with my skitarii teams has been lost. It was my duty to confirm the only logical explanation for their Vox-silence. But now, I do not need to. It appears that our missions intertwine and help you can. If my deductions are correct you seek to correct the malfunctions in the Communication Relay Towers. I suggest now that you do so. The Western tower is but 19.2 kilometers away, an easy distance to cover for you even without transportation. Logic dictates that this is the best approach to accomplish both of our goals."
Viggo remains motionless, aside from one or two of the mechadendrites on his back swaying slightly. The red glow of his vox unit strengthens and dims as he "breathes" through the grill.
Before thanking Keiko and following Yngvar's orders, Gunter opens the other door to confirm that it leads just to the rest of the settlement. He makes a quick scan of the area for any hidden alcoves or chambers that might provide more information about the extra security at Alpha Ichi - assuming, of course, that it is more than just bureacratic graft.
Search Success + 4 degrees
"That is an easy enough distance," confirms Pax. "But where will you be, Tech Priest Viggo? I cannot help but notice that this Tauros has been upgraded beyond a need for simple local transportation. Or was it so upgraded before your arrival? That might explain much about why the security here is greater than need dictates." It's not quite an accusation, but to the casual listener, it's clear that Pax's words are far from rhetorical.
In the Control Room
As Gunter approaches the second door...
...it opens up normally, just as the one he had entered through. True to Keiko's word, the door leads to a short hallway and a descending staircase that leads down to the floor below, very much identical to the way Gunter originally entered the control room. Peering into the hallway he sees nothing of interest and the exceptional quality blast door hisses shut back down into the floor as he retreats back into the room to offer his thanks to the woman for her assistance.
Keiko bows deeply at the most minute word of thanks from the armored giant in front of her. "My lord, I am thankful to the Emperor that I could have been of use to you. After all you have done for us here..." she fades off for a moment, memories of battle and panic seizing her for a moment before she shakes it off and continues. "May the Emperor's divine light guide you, my lord Space Marine."
After the woman Keiko speaks her thanks, Gunter peers around the room, certain that there is more to this place than meets the eye. As he is looking up, he notices that the ceiling of the control room appears to be exceptionally sturdy as well. Nothing seems out of place: illuminators line it at equal intervals and ventalation ducts are bolted into spots where they should be keeping the room climate controlled. Yet, the ceiling itself seems as though it is made out of a material other than ferrocrete as was standard on Imperial installations such as this. It seemed sturdy as though it were built to withstand much harsher conditions and impacts.
In the Garage
Viggo looks quizzically at Pax and then turns his head to look at the Tauros. "It has been upgraded in the sense that mere hours ago it had four pairs of its wheels missing and now it does not. The people of the settlement will no doubt be thankful for that. Will you not?" He directs his last question at the now-silent mechanic, Brakston.
"Uh...y-yes, yes, my... Lord? My Martian! Yes, my Martian, I am very thankful. It woulda' taken me much longer and I prolly woulda' thrown me back. Very thankful, I am!" Brakston smiles like an idiot after being addressed by one of such mechanical skill; he is somewhat stuck between a rock and a hard place at the moment, finding himself between the Astartes and the Tech Priest.
"You make a very astute deduction, Brother Omnissiad-Ultramarine. A Tauros is a fine machine for wild worlds such as Serenity, but a Tauros Venator is another calculation altogether. And to have two in one place as seemingly without provocation such as this may seem excessive, but I will assure you that the Mechanicum protects its interests. This planet is the last pure mining world in the Orpheus Salient. I will assume that the importance of that is not lost on you, my lord Astartes."
Viggo moves back to the Tauros and his mechadendrites begin moving to lift the vehicle and once again renew the repairs. "As I stated previously, authorization for my involvement in direct combat action has not been permitted by my superiors." He makes the sign of the cog in the air with one of his masterly crafted bionic hands. "I will remain here. I will repair this Tauros and ensure that it is ready for travel upon your return. The trip into the mountains will take much more time and you will require adequate transportation." His mechadendrites seem to work on their own accord and continue to do so as he turns back to address you, face to face. He points to the broken main entry into Alpha-Ichi, "This settlement also requires help in repairing very basic defensive measures. I have no intentions of seeing it fall into the hands of the Orks again. I will see to those blast doors."
Gunter reports to the Squad Leader as ordered. Taking in the Martian he is initially surprised, but then finds its presence confirmation of what he had noticed. If the Tech-Priest had been at the settlement, he would have been captured unless he had a very secure hiding place indeed. Gunter believes he knows where it is, and will report when the squad is alone with only fellow Space Marines for company.
Sarlock watches the interchange with a bit of a bored look on his face. Not one for words, he looks about at the encampment, calculating various things through his mind as he half-listens to what is going on in front of him.
"Well I say we get on with it. Let's make for that comms tower as soon as possible. In my mind, it won't do to mill about here for much longer."
"Very well," says Pax, nodding at Sarlock's words. "Where are the others? Are we ready to move?"