Big Game V – Chapter Three: Killfrenzy

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Sergeant Pickman struggled to keep up with the inquisitor as they ducked through the countless bulkhead hatches of the Menelaus. Trooper Riggs and Tomels kept pace behind him the four moving quickly through the ship’s labyrinthine corridors. The Inquisitor had roused Pickman from sleep nearly fifteen minutes ago and demanded that he and the other honor guard members be ready to escort him to the bridge. This detail was not particularly enviable, as assignments went. However, there were fewer more prestigious duties than acting as the private escort for an Inquisitor of the Holy Emperor of Mankind, blessed be his name.

The door to the bridge was flanked by a brace of Skitari Ratings; heavily equipped naval troops of the Cult Mechanicus. Riggs made sign of the aquilla as the honor guard passed them. Pickman gave the superstitious grunt a sidelong glance of disapproval. The door opened with a winding squeal of gears and scraping metal. Pickman and the other troopers took up positions by the door and surveyed the deck. The low ceilings made this room appear little different than any other of the main crew compartments on the Menelaus but this one was crowded with all manner of advanced devices, marking it out as a singular space. There were banks of cogitator links, each serviced by a half-dozen or more servitors. Three command lecterns faced each other in the center of the room, all circling a large holographic display. The far end of the room there were three more lecterns, all facing to the forward of the ship. The command deck was abuzz with activity and all of the lecterns in the center of the room were occupied by Adeptus Mechanicus priests, their blood red robes marking them out, as if their massive cybernetic limbs would not do the trick. Pickman heard the enunciator servitor croak out their introduction, “Inquisitor Voltman Kalmsan and escort.”

“What is the meaning of this drop from warp space?” Kalmsan shouted. Pickman knew the young inquisitor was irritated with the lack of counsel on this matter.

“Inquisitor, welcome to the command deck,” One of the Mechanicus Priests said. This one spoke with human vocal cords; an oddity in Pickman’s experience.

“I demand an explanation for our new course corrections,” Kalmsan said, his voice trembling in rage. The short Inquisitor was well dressed; his purple cloak was striking in the gunmetal grey and monochrome surroundings. Pickman knew that no matter what was said, The Inquisitor would be unhappy.

“Seinor Navigator Krosp, who has retired from exhaustion, has informed us that the Chasma Spica is now open and free of warp storm activity,” The magos said plainly and gestured to the lectern he had recently vacated.

Inquisitor Kalmsan took up the lectern and began reviewing the runes glittering across its surface, “Why was I not consulted before this course correction, Master Magos Hacking?”

“It was less than 30 standard earth units of time that this was discovered, Inquisitor Kalmsan, you were informed as soon as you could be roused.”

Unfortunately, Kalmsan was too young to understand that the universe would not simply stop if he demanded it; no matter what kind of seal he carried. As if on cue: “Magos Hacking, might I remind you that I lead with the collective word of the Adeptus of Mankind and with the sovereign word of the Emperor of Mankind? You must consult me when adjustments of this magnitude are made.”

“Inquisitor, designation Voltman Kalmsan,” The loudspeakers overhead spared into life, making Tomels jump. Pickman was unsure but he believed this was the Supreme Magos, the Priest who was part of the ship. “Magos, designation Hacking, enacted protocol 7.89a210 upon my direction.”

“Supreme Magos, Menelaus,” Kalmsan began, Pickman had told the man to learn to steady his voice more, “I was unclear that you had been consulted. However, I am unclear of what benefit that this development will produce.”

“Inquisitor,” Magos Hacking began again, “The veiled region to the galactic south has been a region of constant difficulty for all craft over the last 40 millennia. Since the time of the Emperor, bless his name, the Chasma Spica has been a barely contained warp storm region. For it to disappear suddenly is not only remarkable but portentous.”

“Indeed,” Kalmsan said, now listening to the Magos.

“Long range surveyors have indicated a dozen worlds. Senior Navigator Krosp indicated that intense psychic activity was present in a system near here. We are currently en route to determine what could produce the disturbance he spoke of.”

“I will require a full appraisal of the situation, Hacking, immediately.

A siren went of buzzing a single blaring honk near Pickman’s head. A servitor’s arching voice droned, “Contact, mark x-14-y-182-z-240.”

Hacking’s head snapped around facing another Magos, “Astril, report!”

“Master Magos Hacking,” The Magos named Astril droned in his mechanical voice, “Three contacts, closing. Demarcation, unknown.”

Kalmsan began tapping at the lectern and the bridge began to buzz with movement. The lecterns at the front of the bridge were stationed with Magos Priests quickly, mere moments later Magos Hacking spoke, “Three craft, one appears to be of a cruiser class, the others are escorts. The lead is broadcasting something on all channels.”

“Isolating, distortion is 35%” Astril spoke.

“Put it on the speakers,” Kalmsan demanded.

Pickman could hear the crackle of static on the overhead speakers. The sound began to resolve into a recognizable sound and Pickman drew in a breath sharply.

“Prepare all batteries, raise the void shield!” Kalmsan screamed; he could barely be heard as the speakers droned a single repeated message: KILLFRENZY! KILLFRENZY! KILLFRENZY! KILLFRENZY! KILLFRENZY!

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