A hulking monstrosity walked through the narrow corridors of the ancient space hulk. Its eyes glowed a bright red, its body was as black as night save for it's left arm which was unstained pure silver in colour. More of its kind followed it in single column, The silence was broken only by the heavy foot falls of their passing. A high pitched wail echoed through out the halls, followed by another and another. Soon the wailing came louder and clearer. And closer. The things in black stopped abruptly, turning their dead red gaze across the area, scanning for threats. Then, a ventilation fan exploded in a mass of metal shards to reveal an abhorred creature. It had four arms, each ending in a set of rending claws. It's head was distorted to reveal a mouth with too many teeth and a long tongue, dripping with poison. The thing shrieked and rushed at the black giants before its head exploded into pieces, chitin and bone pinging off the metal grated walls. One of the giants raised a hand to its head and a small click sounded, amplified by the tunnel like halls of the ship.
"Xenos contact" It sounded over a vox channel "Tyranid Corporaptor hominis." The Space Marine looked at it's fellows and nodded once. "Genestealers"
"Plan of action?" asked one of them, his shoulder pad showed him as an Imperial Fist, his name was Torgan but most called him Tor.
"Continue forward. The Inquisitor was insistent that we silence all of the targets."
"Quite" Said a crackling voice over the vox "both main targets are given Primary threat status from now on, Cerod. And remember, failure is not an option. Command out."
"Yes, Lord" stated Cerod. He new the price of failure and it was steep. A whole system could be destroyed. What troubled him was that they were tasked only with the elimination of the lead creatures. Others would rise, but, he thought he was only to obey his orders. He had been selected to join the Deathwatch. The elite Ordo Xenos Kill-Team, it was a great honour. But he wanted to be gone with these tactics; this was more suited to a Raven Guard's specialization, not a Blood Angel.
They continued walking, stopping only to gun down the occasional Genestealer or cultist. Soon the halls began to widen to reveal the massive hanger bay, still with the ancient landers aboard, rusting on their racks nearly twenty feet above them.
"Brother Cerod, the xenos will use these ships to descend to the planet, we must destroy them." Stated Tor.
"Agreed. But any explosion will attract more of the scum." Answered another Marine, a Crimson Fist named Verif.
Cerod considered this and decided that the risks were great, but necessary. "Plant Melta bombs on the support coloumns to bring them all down. Then go for the shadows, we'll attack them from an unexpected angle." They all chorused agreement and began the job.
Each of the four main supports had a Melta bomb strapped to it, with a delay of ten seconds. The five Deathwatch crouched in the shadows of a corner, the light shot out to provide sufficient shadows to hide them. "Brace for heat waves" Cerod stated over the vox. Then, the time ticked out on the weapons and the bombs detonated causing enough heat to vaporize the three foot thick iron rebar in a split second and sending a massive shockwave of tens of thousands of degrees centigrade washing across the huge expanse, melting and warping many of the floor grates. Cerod felt a massive heat and pressure wave smash into his armour with the force of many thousands of pounds. Warning runes flared across his screen, then it stopped, then it began again as the racks that held the landers crashed into the floor grating, smashing through the deck into the halls below. Dust and ash floated about, creating a film impossible to see through, which was in the Marine's favour. The powerful visors on their helmets allowed them to see through it perfectly. Then a chorus of terrifying shrieks screamed across the ship, and hundreds of cultists and Genestealers rushed to the huge hangar bay, scratching and clawing to be first into the room where the Hive Mind told them there would be enemies they must defeat. They rushed into the room and screamed aloud a challenge to anything that could hear them.
"Watch team one, wait for my signal." Cerod said over the vox, levelling his bolter at the aliens. The xenos milled about in confusion at the center of the room, unsure of what to do. "Death Watch, I want frags in the center of those hostiles. And Herios, destroy that control panel for the main doors, understood?" Herod was the team's sharpshooter. Armed with a Combi-Flamer and a powerful scope on the top, he was a White Scar and the team's fourth member.
"Understood Brother." He said in his gruff voice.
"Death Watch, open fire!" Cerod called over the sudden roar of bolter fire that erased all other sounds.
. . .
The creatures screamed as the high explosive tipped shells and fragments of the grenades destroyed their bodies, leaving them strewn; crumpled and broken across the hangar bay. Herios jumped up and shot a single bolt shell into the control panel for the main doors, destroying the controls and causing the massive things to slam shut, crushing several Genestealers trying to enter the room. Cerod saw the remaining Genestealers charging towards them and when they reloaded the things would be on them he realized. They would be slaughtered.
"Death Watch, drop bolters and draw blades and pistols. Charge!" Cerod yelled out, dropping his bolter and drawing his compact blade and his bolt pistol. Herios gave a quick burst from his flamer to keep the aliens back and drew two short swords and charged alongside Cerod. With a crash the two forces collided and a bloody melee began around the large gap in the floor caused by the melta weaponry.
Cerod shot a Genestealer's brains onto the one behind it, simultaneously stabbing his blade into the chest of a half-human half-Genestealer cultist ineffectively slashing at his armour with its claw like hands. Inhuman shrieks cried all around as the monsters were slaughtered, and started to flee.
Cerod marched across the blood slicked floor. Each thud of his adamantine boots on the metal rang out across the room, each seeming to boom out as if they each and every one the crashing foot fall of a titan.
"We did well, brothers. But there is yet more to do. Ready up and move out." Cerod said quickly, taking control of the situation. "Herios and Tor, head for target alpha. Verif and Brennus move onto target beta." Cerod looked hard at the final member of the team. He had been irritated at the induction of a new member to his four man team, it had disrupted their tactics as they could not know where he would stand. Brennus was a member of the Black Templars, a Chapter infamous for its bloody crusades and purges. The man was standing passively in a pool of ichor, his massive two handed power sword deactivated, the blood of the xenos dripping from the large blade.
"And of you, brother?" Brennus asked, the words seeming to attack him.
"I have been given a separate task by the Inquisitor. We will rendezvous at the bridge door once our targets are silenced. May the Emperor guide you all." He said, making the sign of the Aquila.
Cerod marched down the rusting, decrepit halls making his way to the engine room. It was undoubtedly here, in the heart of the ship that the birthing chambers for the more standard xenos, named Gaunts to be born in preparation for the landing on an unsuspecting world. Using the counter xenos tactics taught to him by the Inquisition, he swept every nook and cranny, leaving only the dead behind him. Until he reached the engine room bay doors. They were guarded by a troupe of mutant half xenos. The group of freaks sat at the door, the four of them screeching at each other or grunting rude noises.
The Space Marine crouched, watching them and trying to make sense of their facial expressions. They were afraid; that was all he could tell. Deciding he could discern no more from them, he rushed into them, the Red Thirst clawing and pulling itself to the surface. Cerod jammed his combat knife into one, letting it fall down to the floor. The remaining three tried to rip and rent his armour, but it held fast and strong. It's adamantine shell to hard for their claws. Cerod dispatched the three with a short burst of bolter fire the rounds tearing them asunder, splashing gouts of blood across the floor, to slosh into the grated floor. Cerod quickly ran to the door, attempting to push down the Thirst, and maintain control over himself. Cerod leaned forward and put the side of his head to the door, trying to discern if there were any more guards on the other side. The doors were thick and he could only hear the roar of the engines. He reached for the control panel and pressed it, the door opening slowly, he ducked inside, and there were a thousand of them…
Brennus hacked another beast apart, his power sword slashing through it's carapace with contemptuous ease. These beasts were merely the fodder for the massive Xenos creature at the back, it floated half a metre off the floor and had a swishing tail, which widened and attached to a bulbous head, the brains clearly visible through the almost transparent skin stretched over it. The thing snarled and shot a blast of Warp energy at him, he ducked and the blast scraped away some of the black paint on his right arm, to reveal the monotone grey-steel colour of ceramite. Verif was down, felled by another blast of warp energy. Brennus did not think on the matter, instead focused on beating his way towards the monster and cleansing it from the Emperor's galaxy.
At last, Brennus reached the Xenos, target beta as it had been code named. He raised his great two handed power sword and slashed down. But his attack never hit.
Thousands…Tens of thousands.
Cerod gazed in horror and astonishment. There were millions of pods, about the size of a Rhino. With a sleeping Tyranid inside each one. The first wave of an invasion. He walked along the rows and rows of pods, suddenly there was a shriek of anger and a cultist rushed at him, Cerod silenced him a single shot from his bolter, the shot booming around the room.
His first mistake.
He removed his helm and wiped a hand through his sweat soaked hair.
His second mistake.
Then he saw the floor grates buckle and explode out from the ground. And Cerod remained where he was, shooting at the grates with his bolter.
His final mistake.
Suddenly it was out, and roaring at him. It stabbed a massive talon through his chest plate and hoisted him from the ground. It was a massive serpent like thing, with a mouth far two wide and a long tongue wrapping around him. He never felt his head ripped from his shoulders or heard the loud clacking of his bolter choking on an empty magazine.
Brennus gasped in pain as he flew, spinning through the air to smash against a far wall. His head spinning he stood shakily, gazing in awe at his cracked and broken armour his bright crimson blood running down his chest. His wounds already healing he shot a look at his foe, it had fled down a corridor and before him stood a gargantuan monstrosity with 4 huge arms that each ended in a scythe like talon. It roared and lumbered towards him, the creature was infamous across the Imperium. It was called the Carnifex. They could tear apart Leman Russ battle tanks with ease, or slaughter platoons of Guardsmen with laughable little damage to itself.
But Brennus was not laughing. He reached for his sword; it had fallen out of his grasp when it had thrown him through the air. It was broken in two, with energy sparking off where the lines of power were destroyed. Brennus faced the beast, standing. It looked like something from an ancient heroic legend, the hero facing the monster with nothing but a broken blade, holy zeal and raw courage, defeating the beast and claiming it's skull as his trophy.
But these tales are seldom real.
Brennus died as all four talons pierced in his chest and out his back at once, his battle cry unfinished, his duty undone.
For only in death, does duty end.
Herios and Tor stood outside the bridge door, both were wounded and reeling from a sudden attack of a Ravenor brood. They stood silent, lest the enemy hear them. The Tyranids had known, somehow that the Deathwatch was here. They had watched, ten minutes ago on the auspex both Cerod's, Verif's and Brennus's life monitors read a flat line. The mission fell to them now, the could not defeat the leading Tyranids, they were the only Deathwatch team in the subsystem. The final-most important part of the mission fell to them. Here and now.
Inside the bridge was the one thing that would allow both him and Tor to die a hero's death, the original plan had been to disable every one of the escape pods save for one, and then evacuate out and destroy the ship via deathstrike missiles. But, as always Herios thought, fate conspired against them and now they were going to have to only destroy the entire ship with a selfdestruct, as they had seen on the auspex the massive amount of Tyranid birthing pods. The pods would hit a planet and insert a Genestealer amongst the cover of a "meteor storm" that would actually be thousands of these pods. Even the destruction of the escape pods would do nothing to halt the invasion.
"Herios?" Tor asked, tearing him from his thoughts "Are you ready?"
"Yes. Let us end this now." He replied, even in the face of death he knew no fear.
They burst through the door, scanning for threats. Their auspex showed none and they could spot no threat. It even looked like no Tyranind had even set foot inside the bridge.
"find the self-destruct console" Herios said to Tor "I'll get the codes from the Inquisitor"
"Inquisitor Kryptman, requesting the self destru-" Herios managed before a creature appeared out of nowhere, it stood on two stubby legs and had two massive talons coming out of it's back. The thing made a screech through the feeding tendrils that it had instead of a mouth. It glared at him and pounced, Herios was barely able to raise his combi-flamer and shoot. He let out two shots, one glanced off it's carapace and the other missed entirely.
Herios grunted in pain as the Tyranid Lictor crashed into him and scythed it's talons into him, one into his abdomen and the other into the center of his thigh. The blazing pain was momentary as his Larramen cells secreted an anti toxin-pain killer combination into his blood, racing into the wounds. Herios raised his combi-flamer and pushed it into the lictor's head, the thing's mouth tendrils coiling around it. He laughed and pulled both triggers on the weapon, causing gouts of flames combined with lethal bolt shells punching through the Lictor's head. It slumped over him, ripping and tearing his wounds further, he pushed the dead xenos off him and to the side.
Tor was firing off through a hole in the door, screeching and roaring coming from the other side. Then Tor turned and nodded to him, then crashed to the floor as his head exploded in a shower of gore. Herios was knocked back as a beast tore through the ruined door, sending shrapnel screaming through the dusty air to smash into the great windows at the far end of the bridge causing large cracks to appear through the transparent reinforced glass.
Herios cried out a defiant battle cry and firing his last magazine at the monster. It screeched and lunged at him, sending him fly through the air, and smashing into the great window at the far end, cracking his helmet in two and sending even more cracks speeding up the massive viewing screen and coming to the ground in a sitting position at the bottom.
Herios cast off his helmet and looked at his enemy, it was glaring at him, It held in it's talons Tor's body, and was shredding it.
Looking around, he saw his bolter. It was out off ammunition and there was a large crack in the metal. He reached for his bolt pistol and pulled it out, still sitting, he raised his arm and fired three rounds before another beast shot him with a horrendous weapon, sending worms crawling into his skin. Grimacing in pain, he shot at it, felling it. He checked the ammo feed.
The great beast dropped Tor and advanced toward him, and shoved it's talons into him. Raising him up to it's monstrous head. They looked eye to eye for a full second before Herios, with a last effort and a cry of pain, pulled his arm around and fired his final shot into the huge glass panel.
It shattered instantly, and they were sent flying out through the hole, sucked into the cold vacuum of space. Without his helmet, Herios died after a brief moment of choking, gasping for air that wasn't there.
Inquistor Kryptman analysed the data feed, his face grim. The Deathwatch would need new techniques on how to combat this newly emerged threat, before it reached Maccrage.