Big Game V – Chapter Forty Seven: Conclave

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Augustus Octavius filled his lungs with fresh air.  He considered coming back to Je’Lani Beta on vacation, sometime.  Despite the almost constant temblors, the moon was beautiful.  The ground shook with another minor earthquake, and a flock of tiny flying lizards burst from a nearby stand of fern-trees and chirruped loudly as they made their way to the horizon.  He strolled back to the clearing where his Salamander command vehicle was parked, and shut his eye to get an hour-long nap as Jules drove him to the meeting site Chapter Master Atrus specified.  Jules awoke him, seemingly immediately.  Octavius nearly bit his head off before he realized they had arrived.  Space Marines in bright red armour blocked the Salamander’s path, and Jules came to a stop.

“Augustus Octavius, Cadian 401st.” he said as he flashed his pict-slate to the guards.  They looked at each other briefly before bowing and standing aside.  Good, so they’ve heard of me, Augustus thought.  Jules idled and parked between two gigantic Thunderhawk gunships.  Space Marines with several different colour combinations patrolled the grounds.  Augustus did not try to identify any of them, but strode straight into the large blue structure erected in the center of the camp.  He almost tripped over his own feet when he saw a Dreadnought in the ramshackle structure.  Jules bumped into him from behind.

“Colonel, if you would be so kind as to have your adjutant retire to the mess tent until our business is concluded…” a man in ten-foot tall Terminator armour said.  Octavius tunred and nodded to Jules, who marched off towards the mess tent with grim determination.  Octavius took in the surroundings.  Several Space Marines and important looking generals stood around a holo-emitter.  Octavius recognized Captain Khrushchev of the Bolshevik 8th.  There was milling about for several minutes, and Octavius made small talk with Khrushchev and a Princepts of the Legio Astrorum named Gilroy.  Two Marines with shock red hair, one in blue-grey and the other in black, stood off in one corner.  The one in blue-grey occasionally laughed loudly, and the other, whose black armour was adorned with runes, stood stone-faced.  The man in the blue Terminator armour stood next to the door, greeting arrivals.  Octavius recognized the heraldry of a blonde Marine in red armour as one of the legendary Blood Angels.  Several more human commanders and Space Marines arrived, and Octavius could only place one or two of them.  The final person to enter was a younger man, around thirty, wearing a blue robe, and sporting a large golden Rosarius and a blue flame emblem.  The Terminator addressed this man as “Brother Voltman.”  So, this is the inquisitor who had started this whole rau, Octavius thought, I’d have never guessed he was so young.  The Inquisitor stepped in front of the Dreadnought and spoke.

“Gentlemen, there will be time for introductions later.  We have all come here to address the…” he was cut off by commotion outside.  Without announcement, three Eldar swept into the room.  Two wore ornate crystalline armour and tall helmets.  One was tall and gaunt, even for an Eldar, and carried a large halberd at his side.

“You said nothing of Eldar!” The inquisitor shouted at the Dreadnought.

“Surprise, Brother Voltman.  Show some adaptability.” the Dreadnought crackled in a smug tone.  Red faced, the Inquisitor turned to the Eldar.

“No need for theatrics, Voltman Kalmsan of the Ordo Malleus.” one of the Eldar said.  “We are here to assist you in your fight against the great Enemy.”

“How did you get here?” the Inquisitor asked.

“We have always been here.” the Eldar answered.  “You, also, have always been here.  As has he…” the Eldar gestured at the Dreadnought.  “That… is ours.” he pointed at a large red crystal mounted on the Dreadnought’s left side.

“You have no need to fear, Farseer, it shall be yours again, soon.  I promise on the Honor of my Chapter.”  The Dreadnought said.

“We have seen many things, Atrus of the Azure Flames.  That was but one.”

“BAH!” shouted the Space Wolf.  “You all talk in riddles!  You’re worse than Irnst!  Let’s just get down to the objective and be done with it!”

The tall Eldar with the spear pointed it at the Space Wolf and shouted, “You would be wise not to address a Farseer with such an impuden…” The second Farseer cut him off.

“Do you break your word, Yriel of Iyanden?” The Eldar called Yriel lowered his spear and looked down.

“No, Farseer.  I will keep my word.  Please continue.”  The first Farseer once again addressed the room.

“What we have seen is for our eyes, but it tells us that we cannot defeat the great enemy without you, nor you without us.  We are locked on our path.  There is a small city on the northern continent of Iperin.  I believe our Inquisitor has been there.”

“Yes.”  Kalmsan answered.  “The Archenemy forces were heavily fortified.  We snuck in because we were unexpected.  We found an underground vault of unknown xeno origin.”

“Yes, it is an ancient device.” The second Farseer intoned.  “But it has been corrupted by the great enemy.  It must be destroyed before we can leave this place.”  A Space Marine in black armour stepped forward.  “Speak, Muininn of the Raven Guard.”  Muininn startled briefly, but recovered and spoke.

“How do we destroy it?” he asked.

“Your primitive explosives will not disrupt the vault.  It was ancient long before your kind reached out into the stars.  Once the vault is secured, our most powerful Farseers will destroy the central tuning matrix.  The vault will then be just a hole in the ground.”

“This is a trick!” the Space Wolf blurted.  “They use us to fight their battles and they will destroy us with their witchcraft!”

“No, they will not.”  Atrus said.  “I have seen them, and what they will do in the vault.  I vouch for their actions.”

“Your words are wasted.  Erik Morkai of the Space Wolves will not trust us.”  The second Farseer butted in.  “But trust is not necessary.  We will destroy this device however we can.”

“How is it that you know our names?” the blonde Space Marine in red armour asked.

“We know many things, Vergil of the Blood Angels.  We have had this conversation hundreds of times.  Often, we go and fight the great enemy together.  Sometimes you kill us, and the darkness washes over the galaxy.  We cannot say what will happen.  We can only say what will happen if we fail.”

“Enough!” Kalmsan shouted.  “I accept your help.  Now, we must plan the capture of the city.”  He activated the holo-emitter, and a mockup of the planet Iperin appeared, and zoomed in on the target city.  “Here.  Four large staircases surround the ruins of this city.”  The stairs were highlighted as he spoke.  “We must take the city from a heavily entrenched enemy position, and hold it.  How long do you require, Farseer?”

“There are several rituals of un-making to attend to.  If we are uninterrupted, two days and nights on Iperin.  This equates to fifty standard Earth hours.”

“Unacceptable!” Kalmsan shouted.  “We may not have the means to hold for that long.”

“Whether you accept it or not is inconsequential.  Two days and nights are required, or the enemy will undo what we have done and triumph.”  The Farseer’s voice was full of ice.  Octavius spoke up.

“We need an extended ground campaign.  Simply walking in and holding will not work.  We need a strong line of defense.  Here…” he pointed to the hologram “…to here.  We should make planetfall to the south, and push north.”

“How long will this take, Colonel?”  Atrus asked.

“Oh, a month.  Less, if we can build some fortifications and have space superiority.”  Octavius answered.

“Iperin is currently nearing aphelion, and the north pole faces away from the sun.” the Titan Princepts coutered.  “Winter’s heart is not the ideal place for a campaign of this magnitude.  Not to mention the enemy could have superior forces, heavily entrenched.”

“Oh, I don’t know.”  Octavius returned.  “Even against a stronger force, we should be able to punch forward, set up a line, and hold it for the paltry two days the Eldar require.  It will be a campaign, and it will not be easy.  But it is doable.”

“Good.”  Atrus broke in.  “We will do this.  Details will be handled in transit.  For now, we go.  Should we fail, the galaxy will burn.  This task was appointed to us, and we will not stand aside.  Go, and may the Emperor protect you all.”

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