It was on Level IX, Section 2-B, a corridor intersection only 100 meters from the outpost’s generator chamber, when enemy contact was made.
With a multi-scanner in hand, Brother Nadael was at the forefront of the squad. The ten Space Marines and Abnightus had descended eight levels, moving quickly but with frequent halts as Nadael had patiently scanned ahead for signs of activity.
Those signs finally flashed across the multi-scanner.
“Brother-Sergeant,” he reported, “there is a slight but regular spike in vibration in the corridor ahead. Its strength is increasing.”
“Hold position,” Quintas ordered. “Marko, move up with your flamer.”
The positioning of the flamer was standard Codex protocol. On a space station, the fire of a more powerful weapon—a plasma gun or heavy bolter—might penetrate the outer hull and cause an explosive decompression.
That would matter little if his squad was alone on the outpost. Their power armor allowed them to function in a vacuum. But Drusus and his storm troopers would find the sudden loss in air pressure quite inconvenient—and quite fatal.
A flamer posed no such risk—and, indeed, within the tight confines of the outpost’s corridors, the weapon’s burning promethium would be powerfully channeled for maximum effect.
Without a word, Marko moved up and took position beside Nadael, while Quintas fingered a frag grenade that suddenly appeared in his left gauntlet.
A moment later, the identity of the threat ahead made itself apparent. Out of the gloom ahead, a bipedal form—a seemingly mechanical humanoid shape of dull silver—stepped around the corner. Two glowing red eyes turned to study the Space Marines.
A second later, it raised what appeared to be a weapon in its hands. Quintas gave the order.
A slight tightening of Mark’s trigger finger, and fiery promethium exploded down the corridor and engulfed the metal creature.
It made no sound as flames began to turn its silver shell a dull black. It staggered for a moment, but it did not fall. Instead, it began walking toward the squad, still engulfed in flames.
For a moment, Quintas thought the xeno unharmed and prepared to give the order for the entire squad to fire, but the heat of the burning promethium eventually weakened its metallic structure and it collapsed in a heap.
There was a sudden flash of bright light, and the figure was gone.
“Target eliminated,” Brother Marko reported tonelessly, as if he’d simply switched off a light switch. “No residue remaining.”
“That is consistent with our briefing,” Quintas said. “These xenos are resilient to weapons fire, and they have an internal repair system. Even if they fall, you must keep firing until the damage is so severe their bodies teleport away. Forget this, and they will repair and rise to shoot again.”
As everywhere else, the outpost appeared bereft of life.
It took a moment for Drusus to open the armored hatch that blocked entry into the security section. The cogitator controlling the hatch was protected by a complex security code, but the Inquisition provides its agents with all manner of technology to override such security measures.
The door eventually opened, and his storm troopers poured inside—to discover overturned chairs, walls marred by the discharge of energy weapons, and an eerie lack of bodies.
“Search for anything useful,” Drusus ordered, then sat himself down at a terminal and began to scan for the final entries in the security log.
It took only seconds to find what he sought: Reports of unidentified xenos appearing on multiple decks. A general alarm being sounded. Orders to deploy security forces to the bridge, engineering, etc.
There were pict-recordings, too. On the outpost’s bridge, a bright light blinded everyone, and then there stood half a dozen of the metallic xenos with weapons at the ready. Slaughter followed.
Another pict-recording showed part of the crew herded down to a storage bay, with those who could not keep the pace being shot down mercilessly.
Nothing, however, revealed the purpose of the xenos.
“What are you doing?” Drusus muttered to himself.
It made no sense, he thought. If the xenos were bent on destruction, why not simply attack the outpost from the safety of a ship—and blow the station out of orbit?
And why take prisoners? It was known that some xenos took slaves to perform menial tasks or, in the case of the Eldar pirates, for more disturbing and sadistic purposes.
But, as far as Inquisition records suggested, the Necrons had never shown any interest in human prisoners—instead killing anyone they encountered.
Pulled away from his thoughts, Drusus looked up at the officer in command of the storm troopers.
“Sir, we need to go. Apparently the Astartes have run into the xenos. It’s been suggested we head back to the strike cruiser immediately.”
The generator chamber was huge—at least 200 meters long and wide, with a ceiling nearly 50 members overhead.
The chamber was filled with the familiar mechanisms and technology of the Imperium. Ugly, squat generators lined the wall, surrounded by oily brass pumps, cogs, and other devices that only one of the Mechanicus could understand.
Yet, in the center of the chamber, where it should not exist, was a translucent pyramid, approximately two meters tall. It hovered half a meter off the deck, with a slow spin and a faint green glow shining from within.
A xeno abomination, Quintas thought, furious at the affront of a xeno device fouling an Imperial outpost.
“Nothing that a melta charge wouldn’t fix,” Brother Nadael volunteered.
After a moment’s thought, Quintas rejected the suggestion. “That would cause severe damage to the outpost,” he said. “Let’s see if we can move it. If its anti-grav field permits transport, perhaps we can push it into a storage bay and open the outer hull doors … blow it into space. Then the Fist of Helios can blast it into oblivion.”
Nadael stepped forward and raised his hand to give the pyramid a shove. “Brother-sergeant, do you think—”
The marine’s words were cut short as a green beam of energy shot across the room and slammed into Nadael’s shoulder guard, the blast throwing him four meters across the deck.
“Return fire!” Quintas shouted, turning and ducking as a second green beam crossed the room and missed the sergeant’s head by centimeters. The veteran Astartes returned fire, his boltgun firing three quickly timed shots that struck the lead xeno squarely in the chest.
The xeno dropped to the floor.
More metallic figures appeared from the shadows.
In a moment, the generator chamber was a crisscross of energy discharges and hypervelocity bolt rounds. Two Necron warriors went down as Quintas’ marines, having taken up position behind cover, directed a hail of fire at the xenos.
The xenos did not bother with cover. Their metallic bodies absorbed a disturbing amount of fire before falling. Indeed, as Quintas continued to fire, he saw the ravaged bodies of those that had fallen begin to reform, and seconds later, two xenos rose to rejoin the fight.
“Markus, prepare to toss a melta charge at the xeno device. Everyone, prepare to disengage and withdraw.”
“Glad you changed your mind, Brother-Sergeant,” Markus replied, pulling out his explosive.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our adventures in the sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.