“We are withdrawing. Hostile xeno forces are in pursuit. Prepare shuttle for immediate takeoff, and anticipate enemy attack. ETA is five minutes … the Emperor protects.”—Transmission from Inquisition agent Adonai Drusus, Dryilian IV, 6 687 737.M41.
Investigating an apparent xeno attack on Outpost DY732, orbiting over Dryilian IV, an Inquisition team, supported by the Knights of Altair, encounter hostile xenos known as Necrons. After a brief skirmish, the Inquisition team withdraws and destroys the space station using the weaponry of their strike cruiser.
Yet, a mystery remains. What happened to the 1,902 crew members of the outpost? The strike cruiser’s auspices identify strange energy emissions on the planet’s surface below, and the Inquisition team—led by Approbator Adoia Drusus—decides to investigate.
On final descent, the shuttle’s pilot spots a carved stone gateway in the side of a hill, and Drusus orders him to land nearby.
- Adonai Dress, Agent of the Ordo Xenos
- Abnightus, Explorator, Adeptus Mechanicu
- Quintas, Brother-Sergeant, Knights of Altair
- Tactical Squad, 9 brothers, Knights of Altair
- Stormtrooper Squad, 1 officer and 9 stormtroopers, Ordo Xenos
- Imperial Shuttle, Knights of Altair
++ Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus ++
+ —Mission Report, Dryilian IV— +
+++ Testimony of Approbator Adonai Drusus [0737-Xd2-34/e/76.122], Ordo Xenos, Xeno-Convlave of Vigilia +++
++ Interrogator: Inquisitor Serillian , Ordo Xenos, Xeno-Conclave of Vigilia ++
+ Truthsayer: Brecius Joduc, Sanctioned Pskyker, Terio Grade, Ordo Xenos, Xeno-Conclave of Vigilia +
++ Although the events transcribed occurred on 6 687 737.M41, this transcript was not officially included in Ordo archives until 3 976 737.M41. ++
After a short walk, our party reached the xeno gateway, which after a brief study, Abnightus confirmed the hieroglyphics carved into the black stone structure were of Necron origin. He also confirmed that the energy emissions detected from orbit were emanating from within the gate.
Led by Brother-Sergeant Quintas and his Knights, we entered the gate and followed a corridor that led deep into the hillside’s interior. After a few minutes walk, the black stone took on am odd black-green color, with etched hieroglyphics that glowed a sickly green.
Over the next few minutes, we passed down the corridor, which was lined by a regularly spaced series of chambers whose purpose were enigmatic. All were filled with pylons of the same dark-green material as the corridor walls, all emitting the same sickly green light from hieroglyphics carved into their sides.
The team traveled only 100 meters without encountering any signs of life. But all that changed as we entered a very sizable chamber—nearly as large as a strike cruiser’s launch deck—where a 20-meter-wide and 30-meter-wide pylon rose out of a pit in the floor.
Although barely perceptible, there was clearly a sense of vibration—a barely heard “thump, thump”—that filled the chamber. Our ability to discern more was prevented, however, by the sudden appearance of of an insectoid-looking construct scuttling on the pylon’s surface.
According to Abnightus, the creature was designated as a “Canotek Spyder,” a robotic construct used by the Necrons in a manner similar to our maintenance servitors. At first, it appeared to ignore us, but it suddenly stopped and appeared to examine us carefully.
For a moment, no one moved. But then a loud and slowly repeating metallic sound was heard, and I immediately determined that what we were hearing was an alarm of some kind. Brother-Sergeant Quintas was looking my way, his gauntlet resting on his bolt pistol, and I nodded.
A second later, the Spyder fell to the floor, a bolt round having taken off the “face” of the xeno construct.
Any hopes of intelligence gathering was lost, and I ordered a return to the surface. Even as we began to turn back, we heard the sound of footsteps approaching, and I gave orders to run for it.
We were unimpeded on our way to the surface, but as we reached the sunlight, the enemy was upon us. A bolt of green plasma passed over our heads and, looking back, the silvery, skeletal forms of Necron warriors appeared out of the gloom behind us.
The race to our shuttle took only a few minutes, but it seemed a lifetime. The Necrons behind us pursued doggedly, while other xenos sought to encircle us.
My stormtroopers split into two teams. One covered our rear, attempting to slow the pursuing Necrons with lasgun fire, while a second team surrounded me and the Tech Priest, shielding us with their own bodies and providing cover fire designed to hinder the xeno fire that was beginning to grow heated.
As to the Space Marines, it was difficult to keep track of their movements. If Brother-Sergeant Quintas was giving orders, it was on a private com channel. But his Knights seemed to be everywhere, helping my stormtroopers in their suicidal efforts to slow our pursuers, attacking the xenos threatening our flanks, and rushing forward to ensure that xeno reinforcements didn’t block our path to the shuttle.
I wasn’t sure we’d make it. Both troopers and Knights were falling rapidly to xeno fire. Then two eight-meter-tall creatures—what Abnightus called “Wraiths”—suddenly appeared around the shuttle. I never saw them approach. One moment, they weren’t there; the next, they were towering over the shuttle.
Before they could attack our only means of escape, one Wraith was charged by a sole Knight, the other by a Knight and two of my stormtroopers. This was sufficient to distract them and allow us to board the shuttle.
I was barely inside when Brother-Sergeant Quintas joined me and shut the hatch. I was about to shout that we should wait—I had no intention of leaving anyone behind—when the shuttle’s engines ignited and I was throw to the deck by the shuttle’s acceleration.
For about 20 seconds I could not move against the G forces that crushed me, and the Brother-Sergeant used the time to walk over to me and drop to one knee. As I lay there helpless, he removed his helmet and looked into my eyes—and explained our departure.
“Your eyes tell me everything. You wanted me to wait for the others. A noble inclination, but unnecessary in this situation. Your stormtroopers are dead. So are my Knights. They gave their lives to allow your escape. In another second, the Wraiths would have ripped apart the shuttle.”
“You must live to report to your mistress what you’ve learned. For myself, I could have stayed and perhaps killed a dozen Necrons before they struck me down. But dying to avenge dead men is pointless. I will report back to my superiors, and perhaps I can arrange for the killing of thousands of these xenos. That is revenge best served.”
Based on our limited reconnaissance, it is impossible to determine the scope of the Necron presence on Dryilian IV. The planet could be a tomb world—but, at the very least, it has a permanent settlement or outpost below the surface.
It may be that several worlds in the Corvus Cluster are, in fact, havens for the xenos. If so, then the Necron presence is even greater than possibly imagined—and their potential military threat must be increased exponentially.
Final Analysis, Lady Serillian:
While the analysis of Drusus is presumptuous, it is valid: The Necron awakening in the Corvus Cluster is a serious threat to Imperial interests.
Alas, other threats are more immediate—and, at this time, appear more dangerous. So a timely military response to the Neurons is impossible.
If we are fortunate, the Necrons will need months or even yeras to awaken their entire population and organize a military force that can take aggressive action. We must pray it is so. As is so often the case for the Ordo Xenos, time is our greatest weapon.
Sometimes, time is the only weapon available to us.
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