Big Game V – Chapter Eighteen: Memories
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Inquisitor Voltman Kalsman knew he was close. Most of the marines had returned to aid Krosp and Riggs near the edge of the cave. Only he, Sergent Pickman, Magos Kelhar, Brother Mobuti and Brother Majeed remained with him. The passage they carefully advanced down was a nearly perfect circle. The round passage only gave way to a level floor maybe fifteen feet across. The ceiling was a about that far above his head. No lights or decoration stood about from the walls, which were of a soft white, weathered stone. Kalsman was warm in his armor but the temperature had dropped significantly when they entered the passage and the darkness, since they had curved out of viewed of the entrance, was pervasive. Kalsman’s oculus provided an excellent view of the cave but it was tinged with the monochrome green glow of the night optics.
Voltman reflected briefly on their journey. It was less than a month ago he had been traveling with the Menlaus bound for Zimbarin to rendezvous with Inquisitor Logan. Voltman was sure Logan would try and kill him, and was sure that he’d be successful this time. The brief smile that crossed his lips would have disturbed his companions had they seen it. From a possible death sentence to a position of prominence within one of the great chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, all in a days work. Voltman remembered old Kalan’s teachings. Despite his desire to banish the man’s words from his mind, occasionally they rang true. This was one of those moments.
Voltman, the old man had said, remember that advantage and leverage hold true for people as much as for levers. The upper hand that always works along with the natural forces, keeps it. Voltman remembered Victor’s obsession with being in control of things. Clearly such obsession had led him down the ruinous path.
The mighty hallway turned again, this time winding to the left, where once they traveled to the right. Perhaps, Voltman thought, this would be his advantage. This may be how he could leave his mark upon the galaxy. He would not longer stand as Victor Kalan’s apprentice, he would be know as Voltman Kalsman, the man who colonized the Chasma Spica. If he would figure out what happened here on Iperin then he would be even more lauded. They had traveled across the great mountain spine without seeing a single living human being that was not clearly an agent of chaos. The tiny hamlet they had traveled through was empty, showing signs of age and decay as if no one had lived here for thousands of years. The ruins of the cities that lay in the valley beneath them were similarly ancient. Preserved slightly, but they were motionless and silent. Covered in the detritus of age. It was as if every living thing on the planet simply disappeared millennia ago.
The hallway began to straighten and gain an incline, moving upwards. Voltman was sure this ruin had something to do with it. The structure was alien, clearly. If only Inquisitor Kaji was here. That man would be able to pierce the mysteries of this madness; he was likely as insane as the masons who built these caves. Voltman could sense the pulsing power deep within this catacomb. Maybe it even stretched all the way to the great half-dome in the valley below. No matter what, they needed to come away with something, there was too much at risk here. The forces of Chaos had not come here through chance. They clearly had a nefarious plan here and the presence of the Sicarii was an ill omen.
“Looks like something up ahead, moving to investigate,” Brother Mobuti began to stride putposely into the distance. Voltman would be unable to see what the marine’s sight revealed for some minutes but the passage straightened again becoming level.
The Sicarii were a problem. If Voltman was sure, he would guess this entire operation had the stink of their fanatical heresy about it. The last time he had seen them was when he was with Victor. Strange how he continued to creep back into the picture, as if even in death the man still twisted the skeins of fate to his advantage. Voltman shivered as he remembered the other man. If he was lucky he would never lay eyes on Kalan’s “prophet” ever again…
“Brother, Voltman,” Mobuti spoke into the comlink, “It is a great door of some foreign metal.” Kalsman signaled and the group to move forward the they began to move more quickly. If not for Kelhar, they would be able to cover the ground more quickly. As the circular disk of the door came into view, Kalsman took in a breath. It was mostly smooth with an etched line carved in it in some alien design. Kalsman would have mistaken it for Eldar had he not seen their blasphemous technology up close before. At they approached Kalsman turned his oculus to normal vision with a mental impulse. He then called aloud, “Light.”
The marines quickly flicked on their helmet lamp-packs, Pickman activated the light attached to the shoulder of his armor. The sudden flush of light was nearly blinding in the darkness, especially with the golden-hued metal reflecting back light as it did. Kalsman slowly let his eyes adjust to the glare and reassessed the mighty door. Indeed an etched depression flowed across the surface of the metallic disk as his eyes followed it he began to develop a slight pain. The line itself appeared to be one continuous quarter-inch wide depression that coursed across the surface. However, each time Kalsman sought to follow the line around the surface, he was unable to trace its course.
“Inquisitor,” Pickman began, “the auspex displays strange readings beyond. The door is interfering with the sensor.”
“I would assume, Sergeant,” Kalsman said, matter-of-factly, “This is clearly some alien artifact. Brother Majeed, is it hollow?”
The marine pounded on the door, which resounded with a dull echo, indicating the presence of chamber on the other side. “Yes brother,” Majeed replied.
Kalsman wondered what triggered the opening mechanism. He detached the coupling holding his right vambrace on and removed his glove. He reached out tentatively and touched the cool metal surface. Nothing happened. Kalsman ran his finger along the groove in the metal and there was a great rumbling. He stopped and the noise ceased. Looking around at his companions, Kalsman contemplated this situation. Who knew what was on the other side? Pickman clearly looked worried; the man had too much concern. The Marines’ faces were obscured by their helmets but Kalsman was sure they stood as stony as always. Magos Tukmehn Kelhar looked nervous. The man was a skilled explorator but did not appear to be comfortable skittering through tunnels bargin into ancient alien structures. Write your name on eternity Voltman, again Kalan’s voice echoed in his mind. Kalsman again ran his hand along the groove.