Blood in the Void – Execution
* * *
Sometimes the Pilot envied his brothers and sisters who had been given reign over Astartes battle-ships. Having a command and control over a Deathwatch Kill Ship was, of course, one of the highest honors a Pilot like him could ever be given, but it came with the acceptance that it was, possibly, the most boring job for a full-cyborg Pilot.
Like his brothers and sisters he was also permanently tied to the machine spirit of the ship, never leaving the ship and rarely even stepping outside his cockpit. He didn’t crave for sensations of organic senses or the pleasures of the flesh as the neural links to those functions of his brain had been long ago replaced with couplings for machine senses and interfaces of the ships mechanisms. He saw what the ship perceived through its multi-spectrum sensors and he felt what the ships myriad machine-spirits felt.
And it was all limited by the strict operational security requirements inherent to Kill Ships. He was one of the seven pilots who only remained awake one at a time so what he saw was really just the uneventful voyages from system to system, popping out of the immaterium only for brief whiles. In the immaterium he was awake when it was his turn, but the ship was blind. When they came out of immaterium they only stayed for long enough to check protocols and launch exterminates if need be. Three days maximum, often less.
What he really, really envied of his brothers and sisters was, however, the bliss of battle. He knew that many Pilots had been designed so that their pleasure-centers were hardwired directly into weapons and battle-cognitors driving them to excel in ship-to-ship battle regardless of the personal risks. He was, however, completely cut off the network the moment command for Exterminatus came so he would not, and indeed, could not interfere with the Exterminatus protocol as it was being carried out. There was no orgasmic pleasure of feeling the lances break enemy ships spine for him. There was only the long wait.
The long wait without any meaningful sensory input at all, just waiting for the sensors to come back online just long enough for him to witness the death of a world.
* * *
As the Kill Team entered the ship they were instantly drawn into firefight with the murder servitors and gun servitors defending the ship. At first they were attacked by several unnaturally fast, power-weapon wielding murder servitors on hovering, human-like platforms supported by slower gun servitors fitted with heavy bolters. In the quite closed surroundings of the ship with darkness and blinking emergency lights everywhere the fight was short and brutal with several Kill Team members being wounded right away. After the first servitors had been destroyed the Kill Team quickly found out that the darkness and the emergency lights (along with vapor and smoke) were probably part of the automated defences, purposefully engineered to distract them. The terrain around them was also changing, with tunnels, chasms and blast doors moving around, trying to cut the Kill Team into multiple parts, isolating single members from other for easier destruction. They were attacked by several new waves of servitors and had to use jump packs to carry people over the chasms the automated defence tried to use to isolate them. In the end they decided to use the melta-gun brother Eukarios was carrying to simply shoot their way through the walls.
The next major obstacle on their way was a deep and wide chasm with a raised and walled shooting gallery on the other side. Several members were wounded by heavy bolter fire while entering the room and quickly they were forced to take cover behind remains of the walls. Their first plan was for the assault marines to jump over the chasm to deal with the gun servitors but this failed due to the sheer number of multi-meltas and heavy bolters facing them and resulted in brother Marius having to burn fate point to avoid being killed by fall into chasm as his jump pack was damaged. The next plan was to use Tekwitch Lysianas command of magnetic fields together with heavy weapons and snipers. Lysiana would use her cybernetics to create a magnetic containment field that would stop the first multi-melta blast, while brothers Cassius, Ezekiel and Falcon would target the multi-melta and heavy bolter wielding servitors simultaneously with missile launcher, heavy bolter and stalker-pattern boltgun. The plan worked and the three astartes all hit their marks, killing the gun servitors. During the firefight a number of murder-servitors tried to climb up the chasm to engage the astartes in close quarters, but this attempt was stopped short as brother Marius spotted them and warned the other while also killing one servitor with his plasma-pistol.
While exiting the chasm-room and making their way deeper into the ship the Kill Teams medic, brother Siracum, was shot by a sniper using a stalker-pattern boltgun and kraken rounds. Siracum was seriously wounded but managed to continue but the implications of the shot were worrying. It seemed there were other marines aboard, trying to stop their mission. The Kill Team did manage to get into the command center only to find it defended by several gun servitors. As they did not want to get into a long firefight which could potentially damage of kill the pilot they decided to sneak up on the servitors through the access-cable tunnels below the command center. The plan succeeded and they managed to destroy all three servitors by well-placed shots fired from under the servitors and through the floor. Communicating with the pilot the Kill Team found out that the command for Exterminatus protocol had been approved by Deathwatch Watch Commander and given by Kill Marine Novak who had been earlier sent to secure Imperial Navy help for lifting the siege on Castobel. Furthermore the only sure way to stop the Exterminatus protocol was to stop the launcher which was programmed to launch the cyclonic torpedoes.
The Kill Team made their way into the launcher bay now advancing very slowly and watching out for the sniper they now assumed to be Kill Marine Novak himself. The launchers access panel was protected by automated hurricane bolters and a heavy force field which they planned to neutralize by having someone (brother Cassius volunteered) to draw the fire of the bolters while brother Ezekiel would destroy the force-field power-input with precision shot and others using heavy weapons to put down the unprotected hurricane bolters after that. At the last moment the plan was changed as brother Eukarios wanted to build a barricade to protect them from the hurricane bolters and the Kill Team retreated to search for suitable metal for the barrier. While ripping pieces of metal from the hull they were, again, fired upon by a sniper using stalker-pattern boltgun and brother Eukarios was critically wounded. The Kill Team answered the fire, laying down a heavy cover of boltgun shells and destroying large part of the room to force the sniper into cover and retreated back to the launcher. The building of the barricade was abandoned and the Kill Team returned to earlier plan. The force field was shut down by a well-placed shot and the hurricane bolters destroyed almost at the same time so brother Cassius (who was running to draw the fire) survived unharmed. After this Lysiana bypassed to panel and shut down the launchers. The Kill Team subsequently exited the ship simply walking down to launcher barrel into open space to be picked up by a shuttle.
Imperial Casualties: Two seriously wounded and two critically wounded battle-brothers. Several dozen destroyed servitors.
Xeno Casualties: None.
Aftermath: The Exterminatus protocol was stopped and Castobel saved… For now.