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Plasteel bulkhead doors opened slowly like huge fanged jaws to a warn torn planet. The hangers atmosphere hissed and vented into the cold embrace of space, brief flashes of lightning playing across the dark clouds of Belisimar. Blossoming explosions rippled dimly on the planet’s surface as the distant war rages. A dark silhouette of a stratocraft faded into view, dim shadows of flight attendants and engineers, the distant stars light reflecting sharply on hazsuits and flight helmets. Pipes hissed and clunked as fuel lines and cables snapped off of the crafts hull, and a dim light flooded the darkened hangers from a side door, small red glowglobes pulsed darkly in a blood like trail to the black star fighter. A tall figure wreathed in a fur cloak and metallic envirosuit stepped out into the hanger, glanced briefly at the battle raging on the planet far beneath him, and walked briskly towards his craft. A robed figure followed closely behind, mechanical limbs suspended snakelike around his person. Small lights blinked on over the crafts hull, and racks of missile and rockets withdrew into its armoured carapace, the robed figure nodding proudly as the missile bay doors closely without a sound. The two men climbed into the cockpit of the mighty warship, and the hanger bay lights clicked off. The engines pulsed briefly with a blinding light blue light, before the engine cases focused and the black craft shot out of the hanger vibrations from the white hot burners shaking the hanger bay like thunder. The black ship streaked like dark lightning towards the planets surface.
Admiral Harkon watched the strike ship burn out of the hanger of the Excalibur, his monocled bearded face reflected in the viewscreen, hands clasped tightly behind his back. A blank faced servitor reported the ship leaving shield range and requested in a monotone voice that the shields be raised. Stroking his moustache absentmindedly, he turned from the screen, a small smile on his face, and ordered the cruiser leave the system.
Belismar lies in the Belis Corona sub-sector, south east in the galactic plane of Cadia. It has been, for the best part of 3 millenia, a pleasure world, free of the dirt and grime of many of the Imperial worlds, its considered a reward world for those of esteemed wealth, or those rewarded for their service to the Emperor. Considering its closeness to Cadia, many high ranking officers retire here, spending their days drinking cool liqours as the sun sets, the purple stain of the eye distant and faded compared to the baleful glare the Cadians work under.
The peace was shattered only days before the Excalibur entered the system. Edge of system scanners detected massive energy surges in deep space, before contact was lost with the servitor controlled probes. The planetary governor of Belismar, an ex-Imperial Captain, recognised the surges as ships exiting from the Warp, and surmissed that the loss of the stations was not in the favour of the planet. Sending hurried astropath messages for help, the planets sparse population dug deep into hastilly constructed bunkers and fortified manors and prayed to the Emperor for their lives.
A day later the Chaos fleet entered upper orbit, 2 Capital class equivalent cruisers, twisted snarling parodies of their former glorious selves, surrounded by an armada of daemonic fighters like flies over a putrid corpse. Without stopping the traitors lance striked the planet's few laser silos, and pounded the govenors mansion and the small Inquisitorial facility with unerring accuracy.
As the fires raged upon the green world the bloated holds of the chaos fleet burst open, and a putrid wave of filth in the shape of screeching carriers and transports descended upon the peaceful world, trailing poison and toxins through the once pure atmosphere.
The Excalibur entered the system on the dawn of the 4th day, using the systems star's corona to partially hide their energy signal, approaching from the opposite side of the planet than the chaos fleet. Bright starlight shone and sparkled off the metal surfaces of the nimble starship, dim blue and orange lights shone from plastec view screens and hazard approach signals. If you looked closely, light blue balefire played across the cruisers hull, microdebris from Belisimarrs orbit harmlessly detonating upon the energy shield like ripples in a rainstorm. This side of the planet had yet to feel the slimy grip of Chaos, their fleet and corrupted warriors cutting a bloody path in the night on the far side. Gargoyle shaped vents spewed boiling plasma into space as it slewed to a stop over the planet, effectively docking itself in the planets orbit. Three mighty thrusters, pipes and cables with the circumference of battle titans wound from the plasma drives to feed the collosal energy need of the engines, burst into life briefly ecclipsing the light of the nearby star as it shifted its position into a geostationary orbit over the main continent.
Aboard the bridge, Admiral Harkon stood on the command lecturn in the centre, navigator's pulpit below him, astrogation and ordnance officers in galleries to his left, engine corp and a smattering of tech adepts tended to the mighty cogitator banks of the Excalibur to his right. A raised platform led behind him, leading to the Captain's lift, a private transport that would take him quickly to the place in the ship or the bridge where his attention was needed most. Golden runes on his hologrammatic display lit his aged face brightly, his augmetic monocle adjusting to the high light levels. The yellow light lit his handlebar moustache, giving the illusion for a brief moment that it was a pale orange rather than the pepper gray it really was as he turned to the Astrogation deck.
'Report on Traitor fleet, officer' his deep voice made deeper by the internal vox network that amplified his voice.
The astrogation officer nodded in the prescribed fashion, and with a further nod to his junior officers who consulted the servitor controlled scanning system. Runes flashed up upon the Captains display orbiting lush orb of the planet. He changed the vox channel expertly, a private channel.
'Adept Constance, your window of opportunity is the next ten minutes standard, before i move the ship out of system, Traitor patrol within range in thirty minutes standard'
The vox crackled and a distorted voice replying. 'Understood'
Leaning forward over his pulpit, he raised a questioning eye at his navigator, who merely nodded and returned his gaze to the Immaterium. The captain turned on his heel, polished boots tapping smartly upon the polished metal deck.
'Mister Trysten, you have the bridge, appraise me any anomalies'
The lift pinged gently as it descended to the observation deck.
Captain Harkon was a man of short stature, with the air of authority that all ship's captain must have to ensure unswerving loyalty. By appearance he looked a man in his prime, mid fifties maybee more, having taken care of his body despite his age, however in reality he was much older, older than his crew for sure. Harkon had served two of the three Ordos of the Inquisition many a time, when larger scale planetary actions were required, the Excalibur had destroyed a planet once, under Ordos order, with him at the pulpit, the magma bursting up from the split crust in orange waves. On his last run, he had been ferrying Inquisitor Danonskini of the Ordos Hereticus, when they were boarded by traitor marines who teleported onto the bridge from the asteroid belt they had been passing. Harkon and his crew had fought bravelly, but ultimate the entire bridge crew perished, even Harkon to his knowledge. Later in the high tech hospitals of the Ordos, Danonskini informed him dispationately that he had dispatched the marines, and that he would be serving aboard the ship soon after stringent purity checks, and after his artifical heart and organs took fully. Three months after the event the Captain was back on his feet, filled with his usual fire and vigour, and readilly offered his services to Inquisitor Choia and her retinue. Secretly Harkon appeciated the quieter turn of events, but sneaking past a small armada told him otherwise. Other than at the occasional dinner, the Captain saw very little of his Inquisitorial passengers and their cargo, but she seemed polite enough. He had permitted her full use of a full deck of the Excalibur, including on her request, flight deck B20. He had had to reallocate 20 Interceptor fighters for this favour, but after the Marine incident, this didn't prove too much trouble.
He watched curiously as a space craft descended upon the troubled planet from hanger B20 through the plastec lens screen of the observation deck. Briefly he saw its shape, before its retros flared and nodded silent approval.
The cockpit of the Aquilla was cool and lit by a clean blue light, a stark contrast to the hellfire played across the adamantium ceramite hull as it entered the atmosphere of Belisimar. The spacious bridge was dominated by a clear view screen, currently blocked by the lowered blast doors, in front of which sat a control bank and two, wide, high backed pilots chairs made of soft leather and polished steel. In the right chair sat a red robed figure, a burnt hood covering his features, knarled hands protruding from the sleeves of the tough material to grip the flight controls. The robe was charred in places, as if scoured of something unwanted a thin coil of smoke rose from within the hodes recesses to be sucked away by the extractor fans. Two thick cables ran from the control deck inside the gauzy robes. The left chair lounged a female dressed in a black bodyglove, her pure white skin contrasting starkly with her garments. Matt black armoured plates rested across her shoulders, her upper chest and parts of her neck. Cropped hair framed her features, eyes hidden behind customised glare goggles. A silver chain held an Inquisitorial 'I' shaped pendant which rested upon her collarbone. A blank faced servitor bleeped behind them and spoke monotonally;
'Atmosphere breached, hull temperature stabilising'
The robed man span in his chair, plucked the half smoked Lho stick from his mouth and tossed it at the machine thing.
'I fraggin' know that!' he exclaimed, wave his hand dramatically at the rising blast screen. Gentle sunlight streamed in, a light blue sky framed by white clouds resting below the hull of the Aquilla. The female gasped in mock shock at the Adepts outburst.
'Adept Constance!' she smiled, 'That is no way to treat one of the multiple facets of the holy Machine God!'
Adept Constance turned to face her sharply. 'You know full well i left that falsehood behind. They could never have built this,' he waved his hand, encompasing the ship in a gesture. 'They potter around harbouring 'secrets' and horde ancient technology like its the holiest of relics. Science is stagnated, and I'm changing that. Its not witchcraft, and I don't have to hammer this thing to get it to bloody work!' He punctuated the last few words by imitating a humble adept with a rune hammer, hammering on the runes of activation. 'No, Inquisitor Choia, i no longer need to chant five verses for a door to open, the viel has been lifted! Imagine! A fleet of these ships!' His eyes gazed vacantly into the future. Inquisitor Choia waved a gloved hand in front of his face.
'I know Adept. That is why i have funded and assisted your work since i left the Collegium' Constance nodded gratefull at this. 'You have my thanks as usual, Inquisitor' He cracked his ancient knuckles and gestured towards the open skies.
'Are you ready?' Choia nodded, removing her legs from the cogitator banks and strapping herself into her chair.
The heretic tech adept grinned childishly beneath his hood. 'No more testing! No more asteroid training runs! Finally the real thing!' He muttered a short prayer, caressing the Imperial Eagle hung on a gold chain around his neck. He sent a mind impulse to the ship, and its wings unfurled smoothly, the two light blue engines pulsed and the Aquilla catapulted itself through the swirling cloud layer.
Last edited by Inquisitor_Domovoi; July 29th, 2007 at 17:59. Reason: Adding more