Khalil raised his arm, letting the humming blades of his Lighting Claw slice through the torso of the invading Word Bearer. As the traitor’s lifeless body fell to the deck, Khalil took stock of his remaining defenders. Seventy three of the 8th Company had answered his call when His Anvil beached on this small planetoid. Seventy one had made it to their last refuge: the Apothecarium. It was hardened so that only the most catastrophic failure of the ship’s plasma drive would breach it.
Now, only nineteen remained, counting himself. The 8th company of the Azure Flames would take decades to rebuild, if indeed they survived.
“Captain.” A voice whispered over an open channel. “Movement. Deck 36.”
“How many?” Khalil asked.
“Unknown. They do not appear to be advancing…”
Khalil grunted. What were these traitors up to now? Twice they had tried and failed to cut through the reinforced bulkheads. However, the remaining defenders did not have the strength to stop another attempt. Khalil re-opened the channel.
“All Defenders pick up Auspex scanning. Search for abnormal heat signatures and…”
Khalil cut off as a low humming was audible. The soft blue glow of his Lightning Claws was replaced with the harsh bright white of the overhead illumination.
The power was back on.
A familar voice crackled over the vox. “Antonius to Khalil. I understand you have a vermin problem.” Not a broadcast - it had been relayed over the ship’s internal comms system.
“Antonius!” Khalil shouted with surprise and delight. “How did you restore our engines?”
“Power is being routed from the plasma drives aboard the Honor. We can only restore power to parts of the ship at a time. Emergency bulkheads are in place to isolate the remaining traitors. We should be able to clear them without too much trouble, then we can tow you off of this benighted rock.”
“There’s no time for that. Divert power to the main computer systems and use your clearance to access the most recently received transmission.” Khalil barked.
“Surely that can wait, Brother.” Antonius said.
“No.” Khalil replied, “It cannot. The transmission contains immediate rendezvous coordinates for the for the Chaos fleet, with secondary coordinates following. They’re mustering an assault on something, Antonius. I am not sure what their aim is, but stopping their plans is more important than rescuing us.”
“I’ll download the file and send it on to Edgard. The 3rd Company can follow these traitors. We can ill afford to lose His Anvil.”
“Antonius, think of the depth of this peril. You saw the aftermath of Iperin - Gorath’s ships put as much fire into the Sicarii as we did, Brother. Something’s changed, enough that that Gorath would save that Word Bearer’s hide, and fight alongside him once again. It’s a dire portent indeed.” Khalil pleaded.
“I am not leaving you and that is final.” Antonius said with measured patience. “When His Anvil is safely away then Dakota and I will catch up with Edgard. But first there is the matter of our humble guests...”
Khalil snorted. “Fine. Let us be done with these traitors. Having them on my ship makes me want to heave. Khalil out.” He turned to the surviving defenders. “Members of the 8th Company, our revenge is at hand! The invaders shall pay for desecrating our ship, and for murdering our servants and brothers! For the Emperor and Atrus!”
As the rest of the 8th company took up his cry, Khalil turned, eager to slay every traitor that dared set foot on his ship.