Epilogue Mission 9
Thought for the day: All Daemons are Falsehood. They are lies given the shape of creatures by the fell power of Chaos.
The Sacrifice returns to the Ostian forum and lands at the Inquisitorial Head Quarters. Slowly the acolytes start moving into the gothic palace downbeat and tired. The prisoner is escorted by inquisitorial storm troopers to the medical bay.
Thaddius eventually brings Graccus’ body out of the ship on a hover gurney and takes it into the HQ. Though his emotional display is clearly confusing to him, he seems to have suffered a great loss.
When Masters returns the acolytes are in their living area trying to relax and calm down after a very intense mission. Solonius is at the drinks cabinet from where he doesn’t seem to have moved in the last hour or so. There is food, but no one seems very hungry.
Masters invites Gaius for a private talk, when Gaius returns he excuses himself and goes straight to his sleeping quarters.
Later that night the door to Gaius’s quarters opens. Gaius is fast asleep though sleeps a troubled sleep. A hand reaches down towards his face, Gaius twists and turns. The hand clasps his shoulder and shakes.
“Gaius, Gaius wake up!”, Gaius wakes with a start, backhanding the intruder with an instinctive reaction. Lance ducks the oncoming blow.
“Gaius, something is wrong!”
“What’s wrong?” says Gaius jumping up, alert now.
“Nothing, I mean something’s going to be wrong, I can feel it something bad is going to happen, I don’t know.” Lance looks to his feet like an admonished student. But Gaius can only remember Kerza’s words “Trust the boy” and he knows they saved him before and is not going to doubt them now.
“Pass me my gun!” he engages his vox “Xantius; this is Gaius, we have an emergency get your stuff and meet me in the living area, I’ll wake the others.”
“What the hell Gaius, what is wrong? What time is it?” replied a sleep Xantius over the link.
“erm 2.40 in the morning. I don’t know what is wrong, just get a move on.”
Lance passed Gaius his gun as he was throwing his jacket on. Two minutes later the team has assembled in the atrium of their residential suite, wiping the sleep from their eyes, all were tired, it seems like nobody had a restful time.
“What is it Gaius?” asks Jael.
“I don’t know, but something is wrong, don’t know what, or where.”
“Well that’s just great! The glorious team leader has totally flipped now!” Eyes turn to see Solonius, he still appears to be perched in the exact same space against the drinks cabinet. The only difference, since the hours ago they saw him last, is the empty liquor bottles at his feet.
Xantius’s face goes pale, the clock flips to 2:46. “Remember after Solent house? The school that was run by Archus and Invidius? Remember what happened to the prisoners? And what time was that?”
“2:48 exactly.” Responds Jael though they all knew precisely, they try to blank out the screams from that night that creep into their thoughts.
“Well we met Invidius today; and we have a prisoner that was in his custody!” Xantius says it just as the whole team each piece it together.
“Holy Throne… wake Masters!” the look of terror on Gaius’s face is palpable. 2:47.
Thaddius, the only one of the group not white faced with fear, for a second he seems distracted , but the others know that he is just engaging in binary chatter with the building. He chimes in “I have informed the guard house of the situation, the building is being locked down. Our conversation logged, Medicus is informed.”
“The medical bay; NOW!” shouts Gaius. They start running, 2:48, the screams begin.
The reports start coming in over the tactical vox links. They can just be heard over the screams of the dying, the fleeing or the mad; sometimes all three at once. The, thing, whatever it is, is making a steady line for the medical bays. Those who stay sane enough to describe the horror can only see a mass of darkness with knives, talons or teeth or possibly all of the above swirling out of it like a dervish, and they can say that only briefly before they become its next victim. It slices through men and steel bulkheads alike. By the medical bay the team arrive just as Marius is organising his men to defensive positions. Jael steps forward, wearing her habit and wielding the Blade of Raphael, but a shout from Masters orders her to step back again. Thaddius and Xantius run into the cell holding the map, where Medicus is already preparing the acid solution. Thaddius takes over and Medicus turns his attention to a terrified prisoner. Xantius holds him down.
Outside the thing approaches the room. It rounds the corner and hellfire laser rounds, plasma, and krak missiles blast into the thing with seemingly no effect, its makes relentless progress even in the wake of this enfilade of fire. The weapon shots seem to fall into its darkness. The expression on Jael’s face, her desire to leap in the way and try to buy a few precious moments before being cut down, is tortuous. The first of Marius’s team is cut to shreds, then two more. They die quietly, which is possibly even more disconcerting. The next, but they hold their ground, never letting up their constant barrage of fire. Then suddenly it stops. There is a yell of triumph from the medical room where they have successfully located and destroyed the implant which seems to draw this thing so.
Then it changes direction and moves off; but not out, killing two more of Marius’s men on the way for good measure.
“Why hasn’t it gone?” asks Marius.
Thaddius replies “In the previous encounter it left as soon as the final tracking device was destroyed. Which means it is only logical that a tracking device remains, it is obvious really, simple logic.”
The implications of Thaddius “simple logic” dawn on everyone else. It isn’t over. “Invidius must have planted a device on us when we were at the bomber factory” concludes Octus.
“Then why did it turn around?” asks Maxim.
“It must be in our kit” Octus replies “it is heading for the residential suite.”
Masters relaxes “Good, the danger is passed”
Gaius pauses… then whispers, as it dawns on him where the thing is heading, “Lance”. He runs at full pelt back to the residential suite.
Thaddius starts tracking the creature again, it is indeed heading for the acolytes residential suite, detouring only to slay more victims along its way. He guides the acolytes back to the suite avoiding the monster. They burst in to find Solonius holding the boy by the neck with one hand, backing away from a hole in the wall, shooting his las pistol with the other hand. “Spread out, search everything, you’re looking for a sliver of metal about an inch long.” Shouts Gaius.
“How the hell are we going to find something that small?” Maxim shouts back in despair!
“We have to! Just do it!”
They fan out and start searching. More men arrive and the creature is momentarily distracted from Lance and Solonius, as it moves through the hole it has made in the wall. There is frantic searching, frantic fighting and frantic dying except Octus who simply stands still in the room with the grande melee going on about him. Xantius rips his mission kit apart throwing it across the living quarters looking with a paniced expression, Jael starts scouring her armour looking for a single tiny shard amongst all the scars and cuts it took over the last day. Seconds pass, men die, acolytes search and Octus stays still. Then Octus moves across the room to Gaius’s webbing and removes a tiny shard of metal from it. The horror moves towards him. “I’ve got it!” announces Octus helpfully, so pleased with himself he hardly notices the fiend has turned its attention to him.
Thaddius is fumbling with the flask of acid, but Masters stops them and demands Octus gives the shard to him. He speaks into the vox as he runs to clear the room. “Thaddius, follow my route and clear everyone out from a path between it and me. I’m heading for level -18” The assassin changes direction and heads off after Masters. Marius dives out of the way and narrowly misses a slashing blade. “Nobody follow me! That is an order!”
There are no more screams. Thaddius uses the building systems to successfully instruct the surviving guards to avoid the path of the thing, whatever it is.
After an hour the acolytes head down to level -18 to meet Masters. He is mentally exhausted, the psycic strain of the battle he had with the thing is immense. Only now do the acolytes realise that the speed with which it moved was nothing compared with their first encounter. Masters had been engaging on another battlefield with it from the moment it came around the corridor near the medical room.
He can barely look up. Between long wheezy breaths he says “I’ve trapped it in a stasis cell.” His arm points in a pathetic motion towards a thick plasteel cell door. The acolytes move over and peer in throught he window. They can see nothing but a floating mote about the size of a large coin. Xantius activates the zoom. Floating, trapped, in the middle of the cell is a broken pocket watch, like an artilleryman’s watch or a railway timepiece. It has a single drop of blood on it. The face is cracked; the arms are stopped, broken, not just because it is stuck in a stasis field. The time reads 2:48. Masters says “Memento Mori”.