“The logic of the situation is unassailable. The enemy stands before you. Kill him. Kill him quickly. Kill him efficiently. But kill him.“—Skitarii Princep Margos Hediatrix during the Moirae Schism, c. M35
* * *
Protious-58 crouched behind a large pile of crates in an alley that was identified as a possible route for the approaching traitors. He had only 1.39 seconds to react before he was attacked.
His augmented senses registered a slight vibration in the ground, and his cognitive tactical cogitator identified the vibration’s pattern as that of an indigenous predator. The Skitarii Ranger had just enough time to turn and begin firing as the giant sand scorpion burst out of the ground.
At nearly two meters long, the creature would have killed a standard human immediately and dragged its corpse back into the sand.
But Protious-58 was an augmented servant of the Omnissiah. The neurocircuitry intertwined with his organic brain, along with cybernetic implants in his muscles, provide the Ranger with hyper-fast reflexes.
The first shot of his Galvanic Rifle destroyed the scorpion’s primitive brain. The second shot severed the muscle that controlled the 50-centimeter-long pincers that were attempting to close on Protious-58’s throat.
< Contact with indigenous lifeform, classification: Scorpius Giganteous. > the Ranger dutifully transmitted to his commander. He also sent a transmission to the appropriate Mechanicus maintenance department informing it that the vibrational shields designed to prevent such creatures from entering the city were not working in this area.
As he completed that task, he received a message from Alpha 239-A. < Remain on position. Three traitors—one in Terminator armor—is heading in our direction. >
* * *
The true motive of the Blood Wolves’s presence on Hegira was impossible to guess, but their immediate objective was obvious, noted Alpha 239-A.
An overhead drone had observed two traitors tearing a water-filtration device from the wall of one building, and a pict of three more traitors indicated they were advancing on a second device only 20 meters in front of the Skitarii leader’s position.
Even an Astartes needed to maintain his bodily hydration or risk a deterioration of combat effectiveness, Alpha 239-A noted.
< Team Alpha. Enemy approaching. Prepare to open fire on my mark. >
It was another 15 seconds before the traitors appeared. At their front was the hulking form of an Astartes in Terminator armor. The ground shook as he strode forward, his bulk filling the narrow alley and obscuring the two traitors following him in normal-yet-still-formidable power armor.
Just as the Skitarii leader was about to order his troops to fire, the traitor’s arm rose with impressive speed and a single shot of his boltgun rang out.
Ranger Protious-58’s life signs immediately blanked out on Alpha 239’s cognitive display.
< Fire. Terminator is Alpha priority target. >
With that, Alpha 239 opened up with his Phosphor Blast Pistol, despite knowing that his chance of penetrating the traitor’s powerful armor and killing its wearer was only 5.5 percent.
* * *
Eighty-three-point-two meters away, Theta-44 leaned against the stone wall he was using for cover and fired another shot at one of the traitor Astartes on the far side of the street.
Once again, the blue-white electrical discharge struck its target, but the Astartes appeared to barely react to being hit. Instead, the traitor fired another round at the Ranger, who had anticipated the enemy’s response and already had ducked for cover by the time the boltgun shell flew through the space that Theta-44’s head had just occupied.
To his right, another Ranger, Quendix -9a, shifted his position. It was not wise to fire from the same position more than once, as it was possible the Astartes—with their enhanced cognitive abilities—might target that position to improve their already effective response rate.
Quendix-9a rose and fired, but although he hastily dropped back down, he was hit. His brains exploded out of the back of his skull, and his noospheric identity transmission went quiet. His essence was not recoverable.
Although his masters had carved out those regions of the brain that initiated most emotional responses, the Skitarii warrior still felt some sense of loss.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Hegira Campaign