Keep Your Enemies Closer – Part 2

We set about town once we had gathered our forces, if they can be called that. We decide to investigate the eight-foot tall armoured figure. We do not get very far before we hear gunfire down the road. I brace myself against the wall and peer around the corner to see a bunch of our troops engaging some of the locals. I mutter a curse under my breath as Sigmar steps out with his hand raised, his other placed on his laspistol holstered on the back of his belt. One of the thugs mirrors Sigmar, though his attempts to hide a full size sword is rather entertaining, whilst leaving their intentions wide open. Useful. I take aim with my lasgun from around the corner, ready to put a lasbolt between the primitive’s eyes.

“What is the meaning of this? Why are you attacking our men?” Sigmar inquires peacefully.

“They attacked us. We’re just defending ourselves,” the primitive man spits back, quite obviously in a foul mood.

“Look, we’re sorry,” Sigmar waves placatingly, still trying to appear the good guy, “We’ll punish the one who did it, will that satisfy you?” he asks. The primitive merely shakes his head. “Well, fuck you then,” Sigmar curses, pulling his laspistol around and squeezing the trigger and sending a bolt of las energy into the man’s chest. His armour seems to absorb most of the bolt. The man then roars and charges at Sigmar. One of the mad man’s friends unloads a burst of autogun fire into the ensuing melee, catching his friend in the back though he does not seem to notice. Mott’s combat servitor charges in, chainswords whirring, to help Sigmar with the melee fight as another primitive also charges into the fray. I adjust my aim towards the one with the gun and squeeze off a couple of las shots, though before much can happen, he turns and flees, not comfortable with seeing his friends carved up by two chainsword wielding adversaries who literally tore the two primitives that they fought against into bloody ribbons. I prepare to squeeze the trigger once more on my lasgun, though there is a loud bang and his head turns into a fine mist. I hit the dirt, as is standard practice when faced with an unknown sharpshooter. I start to look in the obvious places for a sniper. The alleyway seems clear, I casually glance at the rooftops in case we are just facing an amateur with good aim but I see no one. Mott seems to be trying to talk the mayor down, both sides suspicious of one another, until the mention of the Imperium.

“Did someone say Imperial Majesty?” comes a booming voice. I look over to the source, one of the windows, to see a large, armoured figure literally walking through the wall to find Mott and the mayor. I heart skips a beat and I duck behind the corner to the alleyway. A Traitor Legionnaire? Here? His armour does not look like that of any loyalist that I have seen, a dull metallic colour with iconography that I have never seen before. He strides up to Mott and starts to speak, though I do not listen, now in a mild panic. Emperor, what do I do? I am no match for a Traitor Legionnaire. My lasgun would just bounce off his armour, whereas one shot from his behemoth of a weapon would do to me what it did to the fleeing local. I consider my options, though my train of thought is interrupted as I feel a tugging on my arm. I turn to look around and notice a young girl, no older than eight years old, sobbing and crying. I glance back to the conversation to see Mott get slapped by the Traitor Legionnaire, sending him crashing against a wall to which I recoil slightly. That certainly looked painful. I turn my attention back to the little girl.

“There, there,” I say quietly, trying to comfort the girl and stop her from crying, turning around to embrace her gently. I am no mother figure, but this is too much and is certainly no place for a child. I begin to usher her down the alleyway, away from the Chaos Space Marine. “Where are your parents? How about I take you back to them, away from this place,” I ask, stroking the girl’s hair. My blood freezes in my veins as I hear the heavy thud of footsteps getting closer to my position. The crying girl had attracted the attention of the Chaos Space Marine. I hold her tightly, keeping her curious eyes away from the sight of the Chaos Space Marine. I shut my own as I hear the sound of him unsheathing his combat knife. The girl has stopped crying by now at least, though I fear it may be short lived. I feel an inhumanly strong force taking hold of my helmeted head, tilting my gaze backwards. I open my eyes to see, the looming figure of the Chaos Space Marine standing above me with his large knife drawn. The blade gets closer and I close my eyes again. Hopefully it will be quick.

With a swift movement, he slices off the Imperial Aquila from my helmet and simply turns away, walking back towards the others. I briefly consider standing, aiming and firing as many las rounds into his back as possible for defacing my armour in such a way, but sense gets the better of me and I keep still, waiting for the steps to get a bit quieter. The girl seems to be lightly sobbing as I hear more footsteps, this time human in origin. I slowly look around to see the figure of the mayor, with a smile on his face. I take the girl’s hand and stand up.

“Excuse me, but would you know who this child’s parents are?” I inquire, barely able to get a sentence out through the feeling of fear that I had just experienced. The mayor explains that it is his daughter. Of all people, the mayor’s own daughter happened to be wandering near the battlefield. She walks over to him and a brief conversation ensues. I am not listening that much, however, much more curious as to what I am doing to do. I am stranded on this planet from where I will not be escaping alone. I deduce that my only option is to tag along with the Chaos warband. I catch up to them as they are leaving, catching the momentary gaze of the Chaos Space Marine. Emperor give me strength.

Throughout the rest of the day I do my best to keep to myself. I get to work making up some medicinal drugs in the room next door to Mott as he gets to work on weaponry. I need to keep a strong illusion that I am no more than a renegade Imperial Guard medic from a light infantry unit. I maintain concentration through my work, sustaining a psychic effort keeping a metaphorical eye on the near future and my surroundings. I do not want anyone sneaking up on me. Myself and Mott occasionally converse and exchange exasperated looks as we hear that Sigmar managed to lose one and a half thousand troops due to poisonous algae. How that man was an officer in the Imperial Guard, I will never know. The armour is scavenged and I am ordered to sterilise it. Unlike the incompetents who died, I wear gloves when handling it and sterilise them all to the best of my abilities. I am on a feral planet, so I hope they are not expecting any miracles. During the evening, I head out for a breath of fresh air and notice a horrifying spectacle. The neighbouring city, where the planetary space port was located, was raining blood. I immediately go back inside. There is a powerful, albeit irresponsible, psyker at work. I shudder at the mere thought.

Later that night, the Chaos Space Marine decides to summon us to a meeting and talk about his plan. He tells us that we are to take a hovercraft over to the city to assess the situation, gather some supplies and see how possible it is going to be for us to leave the planet. I sleep as well as I can, but I constantly wake in a sweat, my dreams plagued by nightmares of the Warp. The effects of whatever is going on over there is evident, though I remain silent the following morning as everyone prepares to leave. As I step onto the hovercraft, I aim for the controls, but turn away as a voice penetrates my mind.

“I see you,” the voice echoes, causing me to falter in my step. I turn from the controls and sit in the corner. I feel physically drained and this voice persists, but I am able to ignore it. I am not ignorant to the potential of psykers. It is obvious to me that there is another psyker at play on the island, so I will need to be at my best. I am in no condition to pilot this vehicle in this state and Mott makes the best he can of it, though he seems to falter and takes another backhand from the Chaos Space Marine, who takes over the controls. As we arrive, the Chaos Space Marine orders myself and Mott to set up a perimeter, taking Sigmar and a squad of men on some sort of reconnaissance mission. neither of us used to this, myself and Mott set about deploying the rest of the men who were left with us. We spy some bunkers which I check out and make sure are clear. This irresponsible psyker continues to try and contact me, though I do not listen. I could have saved the Chaos Space Marine a lot of time by just telling him about the psychic presence, but I would rather not tell a Traitor Legionnaire of this. Also, if he happens to die on his mission, I would consider it a boon. As we search through some buildings, we chance upon a crate of weaponry. It looks entirely normal, but I see a black aura surrounding it. I tell the men to leave it alone, but five decide to take weapons from it anyway, each pulling out a lasgun from the box. For about five seconds, they seem completely unchanged and I start to wonder if I was correct to tell people to leave it alone; however, after those five seconds, the men collapse to the floor, completely out cold. When Mott asks me to check the bodies, I go over and take a look, not touching them or even examining them. I already know what this is.

“Medically, there is nothing wrong with them. In the Guard, this situation would call for summary execution; a las round through the head,” I gesture at the unconscious men and pull out my laspistol. Mott contacts the Chaos Space Marine, not trusting my analysis as I am no expert on matters of the Warp to him. The fool. The Chaos Space Marine tells me that I am no longer in the Guard, but that I am also correct. Mott orders his servo skull to execute some of the men, unable to bring himself to do it and I dispatch the rest. I turn to the others, who seem to be eyeing the second box which, to my knowledge, has no such aura around it, but a believable lie must be consistent. I tell them to not touch the second box and this time, most of them oblige. A few, however, go up to the box and take out some weapons. I turn to face them, appearing as if I were inspecting them. Mott asks them how they feel, to which they respond that they feel just fine. “If the same happens to you as happened to these five, do not think I will hesitate to render you the same judgement,” I tell them, walking back to the coastline and back to the hovercraft. We wait for a while until the Chaos Space Marine, Sigmar and the men who went with them come rushing back. They tell us that there is a Sorceror named Balthazar who was in control of a lot more troops than we had available and, whilst they had been diverted after a small firefight, this would only buy us time. We needed to retreat for now and think of a battle plan. Again, a wave of terror swept through us. Balthazar was pulling off more psychic abilities to which I steel myself against. I do not care how powerful he is, I will not yield to such a childish practitioner. Mott seems to scurry onto the hovercraft much faster than everyone else, starting up the engines. The event proves rather taxing for me, the reverberations through the Warp constant and brutish, like an Ork pounding at the armour of a Sentinel over and over; unsophisticated and barbaric, but tiring to deal with. Some of balthazar’s men try to board our hovercraft, though they are gunned down by our own and Mott, now more comfortable with the controls either through fear, experience or both, guns the engines and we speed away. I take my position in the corner once more, slumping against the walls and cradling my head in my hands. Balthazar continues to send out messages, but by now I have no energy to expend on his constant bugging. Are we dealing with a Sorceror, or are we dealing with an amateur? The question rolls around my mind, well into our landing as the men unload the hovercraft, until there is another reverberation through the Warp. I stand up from my position and cast my gaze towards the horizon. Balthazar himself is following us on his own boat and appears to be trying to manipulate someone in our group.

“There’s a boat out there!” I call out, pointing towards Balthazar’s ship, barely visible to the human eye and surrounded by lights, which I deduce are of Warp origin. I do not, however, share this information with the others. Mott stands up.

“Corporal?” he asks curiously.

“I can see it, over there on the horizon.” Mott peers over to where I point.

“Good eyes,” he remarks.

“Light infantry. It’s one of the things we do,” I reply, shrugging as if it were nothing of note.

“Perhaps it’s my ally,” Sigmar interjects, causing Mott to draw his las carbine and aim it at Sigmar’s head.

“Corporal, arrest him. Soman, your ally?” he says warily, glancing briefly at me.

“Yes, ah… My ally. The one who spoke to me in my head,” Sigmar responded, blissfully ignorant of the mind games going on inside his head.

“Las-round to the head in the Guard, is it not, Corporal?” Mott rhetorically asks, “disarm him.” I do not know who made him the boss of me, but if he was being mind-controlled by an enemy psyker, it was in everyone’s best interests if we co-operated in this. Before I can do anything, the Chaos Space Marine strides forward.

“Stand down. We are going to negotiate,” he boomed.

“With the Sorceror?” someone asked, gaining a nod from the Chaos Space Marine. “Soman, with me. We will handle the negotiations.” He turns to us, “you may listen on the vox.” With that, our men stand down; Mott and myself retreat to a safe distance and watch as the ship docks. Another large, blue power armoured man disembarks, bearing a force sword, a daemon cage and a bolt pistol, quite obviously a Chaos Sorceror. He was greeted by the Chaos Space Marine in our group and was directed onto the hovercraft. Myself and Mott huddle around the vox unit, which we set to only receive. What we hear of the negotiations are equally amusing as they are horrifying. Balthazar’s antics had been merely to get our attention, his antics including firing at our men and causing it to rain blood from the sky. His psychic presence when he casts anything is powerful, but his usage of power is like that of a five year old. We truly are dealing with one of the most incomprehensibly childish and irresponsible psykers I have ever seen. I smile to myself under my helmet as he states that he tried to contact us through a psyker, leaving everyone clueless. For one so powerful, he is easy to defeat. Eventually, the vox link is cut and Mott and myself are left with nothing but each other’s company.

“You know,” he turns to me, “ganger activity has been rife. It would be best if we stood the men to, ready to repel them.” I chuckle and nod, and so we order the men to be ready to defend themselves. After another short while, he shares the story of why he fights the Imperium, a freedom fighter after a change of government, a tale that I can sympathise with. I in turn share my story as to why my regiment had been declared renegades, though I omit many details, such as our loyalty to the Emperor. We both look over at the daemon cage that Balthazar had left behind. Mott turns to me once again, after we both take a while to gaze uneasily at the cage. “You know,” he starts, “I have a demo charge.” I smile and tap my helmet.

“Keep your cards close to your chest,” I reply with a smirk, though my helmet fully obscures my facial expression. What I do not tell him is that using a demolition charge on a daemon cage would likely just set it free, which is bad for everyone. All we can do then is sit and wait. I fall asleep much easier this time, a combination of physical and mental exhaustion, as well as the lack of Warp entities entering my dreams.

The following morning, we pack up and board a ship that appears to belong to Balthazar. I hesitate in going along with this plan, but it is my only way off this planet and this all-powerful Sorceror seems very easy to out maneuver. I will stay with them as long as it serves my purpose, but I need to get back to Imperial space. The longer I am here, the more corrupting powers of Chaos I will be exposed to and the less likely I will be able to return. As we take off, I feel an overwhelming wave in the Warp. I do not need to look out of any windows to know what just happened. All the people that we left behind were ritually sacrificed by Balthazar to aid our transit into the Warp. Being from a fleet based regiment, I know that this was entirely unnecessary and honestly horrifying. I feel the bile rise in my throat and I rush to the women’s toilets. I spend a while throwing up with a pounding headache, the screams of thousands of souls being sacrificed to the Warp overwhelms my senses and my constitution. I have never felt this terrible in my life.

Just as I finish, I make sure to clean the latrines to the standards that I had found them in. I do not want to raise suspicions and go to exploring the ship. I eventually find the workshop where Mott appears to set up and decide to set up in the corner. I would much rather sleep in the knowledge that there is a chainsword wielding combat servitor watching over me on this ship. I would prefer to not wake up with a Chaos Sorceror probing my mind, although if he did I would probably notice. That man is about as subtle as an Ork Deff Dread or squad of Shootas.

Then I learn that we are heading to a planet with a huge Ork problem. Emperor… Why me?