Last Son of Caliban: The Arrival
Master Cain sat in the command throne, his battleplate interfaced with the ships systems, projecting a constant stream of data across his faceplate. The only data his eyes sought was the countdown to emergence. Somehow the transit, one that should have taken barely a week, had stretched over two long months.
“Sensors, full scan, Vox, raise the planet and any ships in the vicinity. I must know what has happened in our absence.” He carefully retained his seat. His eagerness could already be sensed in his voice, he did not care to add his physical presence to the nervous serfs of the crew.
Shipmaster Peleg, evicted from her command chair had selected a position by the sensorium. The powerful screens, scopes and sensors quickly gathered information and the servitors evaluated it. Peleg jerked upright. “Master Cain! Mordia has… changed.” She chewed the word, sounding repulsed by what she saw. Cain selected the scope observing the planet and felt his gorge rise. The planet seemed to undulate. Shimmering waves of color passed across the terminator, patterns that whispered in his head, promising knowledge, wisdom beyond measure, secrets unknown ripe for the plucking. He turned off the screen.
“Scan the other planets. Focus on Luminaria.”
Peleg forced herself jerkily to close off the view of Mordia. As soon as that scope slewed away she snapped upright, shoulders back, another stab of her fingers brought up the view of Luminaria.
“Shrine World of Luminaria looks… Luminaria stands!” Another few switches and everyone could see the shrine world glowing, surrounded by fire as fleets battled.
“Vox, raise Luminaria, now. Any identification on those ships?”
“Working now Master” came the call from the young officer at the Vox station.
“Helm, bring us in, Polar orbit for now.” He keyed his vox to the network for the troops onboard “Warriors of the Fifth! Mordian has fallen, but Luminaria stands! We will deploy immediately to support her defender against the foe, and determine what has happened during out overlong transit. All hands to drop stations. Bors your blade will stand by to deploy by drop pod to clear a landing zone should we need one, Nabbuk we will go in by Thunderhawk once Bors has cleared the way.” Two clicks on the vox were his only answer, the subnets spiked with activity as his Lieutenants quickly changed his orders into action.
“Master Cain, Blade of Vengeance is hailing us.”
“Open channel. This is Master Cain of the Dark Angels leading the 5th Battle Company. We are inbound to support your forces,”
“Well met Cain, I am Captain Tybahlt. I am not sure what you know, but Mordian has fallen, corrupted by Chaos, the foul sorcerers of Magnus have turned it into their plaything. The Iron Warriors have destroyed most of Luminaria. The Iron Guard defends the last few shrines. We are trying to pull them out but the Iron Warriors have the planet under tight control. We have destroyed several ships, but both our fleets have suffered heavy damage. You and your escorts might cut a way through. How many boarding torpedoes do you have?”
Peleg threw a switch, tagging the information for his attention. “6, 2 Thunderhawks, and fighters for escort. One of our escort brings several Ravenwing pilots with it, they can cover us.”
“Excellent. I will alert Lord Astorath. We should have targets by the time you enter strike range. For now plan on that Grand Cruiser being your boarding target. For the Emperor!”
“For the Emperor” Again he swapped channels. “Brothers! Our cousins the Blood Angels have been fighting a long battle, and the Mordians a longer one. They cannot hold even with our help. Astorath and the Blood Angels wish us to help them, evacuate the survivors of this system. We will cut open a path, and the Blood Angels will escort them free. Nabbuk, bring your troops to the boarding torpedoes. Bors, prepare the Thunderhawks for breaching actions. You have 10 minutes.”
Bors responded almost instantly. “Master Cain, We can handle the initial boarding!”
“I know Bors, but you have most of our firepower and I need to know where to bring it in before committing it. The Iron Warriors will have turned that ship into a fortress, and we will have limited time to cripple it. I will lead the initial boarding with Nabbuk, and plant beacons for your Thunderhawks to strike. Keep the fighters with you for cover, and husband your forces carefully. The Iron Warriors are tenacious fighters and will whittle you down at every chance.”
“I… Yes Master Cain. You are correct.” Bors clicked off the channel and began issuing his own orders.
“Shipmaster Peleg!” Cain said over his speakers.
“Master Cain.” Peleg braced to formal attention, the tall woman coming almost to Cain’s armpit.
“The ship is yours, deliver us to boarding range of the Grand Cruiser, my men will board and cripple her. Smash aside her escorts, and alert us if other ships seek to intervene. We must open a way for the transports that will be fleeing the planet soon. Serve the First Legion well today Shipmaster.”
“As always, Master Cain.” Peleg said evenly. Making the sign of the Aquila across her chest she turned to the crew. “General quarters. All hands rig for close combat and boarding. Bosun, send all available crew to the batteries, and ensure ammunition feeds are ready. Engines, prepare for full burn as soon as Master Cain signals readiness. Helm, I want a course ready to take us close enough to the Grand Cruiser to damn well walk to her. Her gun batteries might reach a long way but they traverse like they are encased in lead…” Her voice cut off as Cain left the bridge. Cain hustled now, Nabbuk should be nearly ready and the range to the cruiser was already closing. As Cain approached the torpedo room he slowed, striding through with the careful pace of a swordsman.
“Master Cain, the target is the Ferrous Malice. A Repulsive class, or close enough, lots of long range firepower. We approach her head on, 3 minutes to contact.”
“Board the torpedoes brothers. It won’t be long before Peleg delivers us into battle.”