“Signal the fleet, all stop.” Jann Kolten ordered. On cue, the ragtag loyalist remnants of the Black Fleet burned their retros and ceased all forward motion just outside of engagement range, clustered awkwardly. Dominating the view was the visage of the Omega Station, the surface boiling with the fireworks of battle. The engines and running lights of the traitor Black Fleet Vessels and Chaos ships were a bright constellation against the blackness as they wheeled to intercept. “Open a channel.”
“Channel open.” the comms officer chirped.
“This is Jann Kolten, commander of the Black Fleet. We wish to discuss terms of surrender.” She said, allowing the weariness of the past few days to seep into her voice. After a few heart-wrenching moments, a voice answered her.
“This is Highfather Algernon Heinrich Kalladan. Hello Jann.”
Commisar Corlett motioned, and Jann cut the audio. “We’re in trouble. Kalladan is one of the best captains in the fleet.”
“You think he’ll go for it?” Jann asked.
“Make it good.” He whispered.
Jann reinstated the audio. “Captain Kalladan, good. I was hoping to hear from you once more before the end. What are your terms?” she simpered.
“Terms?” Kalladan chuckled. “Oh, Jann, you’ve made my day. Yes, let us discuss terms. You and the crews of your fleet will lower your shields and surrender your vessels. You will submit to the will of the Allfather and exult in his glory as his humble servants. Any other action will result in your obliteration.”
“How do we know we can trust you?” Jann said through quite genuine tears.
“You have no choice.” Kalladan hissed. “You will serve the Allfather or die.”
“Let... let me have five minutes to try to convince the other captains…” she whispered.
“You have three. If you do not transmit your surrender, or if your ships power weapons or engines, we will destroy you.”
“Very well, Kolten out.” Jann cut the channel.
“Masterfully done, Admiral.” Corlett beamed.
Jann wiped the tears from her eyes. “Tactical, are they on their way?”
“Some of them.” The kid at the console responded. “The Traitor Astartes are supporting their ground troops. Only the Black Fleet ships are on an intercept course.”
“That’ll have to do. Comms, when they reach 12,000 kilometers, signal the Astropaths.” She ordered. As the orderly lines of the traitor vessels approached, Jann slowly concentrated on her breathing.
“Now.” She said.
Heartbeats later, the sickly purple light of the Immaterium surrounded the traitor fleet. On cue, Jann’s fleet fired a deadly salvo of torpedoes straight into the heart of the enemy formation. Ships near the edges of the formation took evasive action, and brought themselves within the deadly range of the relief forces. Slower ships suffered the brunt of the torpedo salvo. H-2, an Avenger class cruiser, came apart dramatically as it tore a gigantic hole in reality, exploding in dramatic fashion and sending dozens of other ships off course.
“All Ahead Full. Take us right at them!” Jann shouted. The drills had paid off. Every single loyalist ship powered their engines simultaneously. Lance fire began to rake back and forth between the fleets. Behind them, more translations heralded the arrival of the Astartes Strike Cruisers.
The loyalists cut into the enemy fleet, sparking their prows against the enemy hulls as they rammed the surprised and prone traitor ships. Bright fireballs and sharp lines turned the previously calm void into a miasma of flame and death. Into this madness, the loyalists dove.
“Admiral!” the tactical position shouted. “The Traitor Astartes are moving to intercept!”
Jann opened a channel to the Rocinante. “Copernicus, you told me you had an ace in the hole. If there was ever a time for it, it’s now.”
Daedalus Copernicus smiled. “One miracle, as ordered, Admiral.”
Over this exchange, the Tactical position shouted “New Contacts!”
“What?” Jann gasped. “Who?”
The Ensign’s face went white. “They’re Eldar…”
“Continue on course, Admiral. They are my guests.” Copernicus said soothingly.
“You heard the Inquisitor. Activate the Tactical Cogitators and target enemy engines. Cut us a hole.”
Aboard the Rocinante, Voltman Kalmsan turned to Copernicus as he shut the channel.
“Eldar?” Kalmsan fumed. “Again?”
“Oh, yes, Voltman.” Copernicus replied.
“I hate it when this happens.” Kalmsan mumbled. “How do you know we can trust these aliens?”
“It’s all thanks to you.” Copernicus said, pointing at Kalmsan’s chest.
“Me?” Kalmsan squawked indignantly. “I didn’t call them!”
“No, I did.” Copernicus said smugly. “You see, Voltman, cleaning up after your messes is not just a full-time career, it’s actually quite useful.”
“I’m glad I could be of such service to you, Dade…”
“Yes. You see…” Copernicus began to pace back and forth dramatically. “…after Iperin I needed to make sure the Soul Vault was properly deactivated, as the Eldar had departed before anyone could interrogate them.”
“How did you get them to do it?” Kalmsan asked.
“I had a team police up the Eldar bodies. Eldar would do anything to recover their dead. Something about jewelry. Anyway, I traded the bodies for a scan of the vault. The Eldar seemed to think I grossly overpaid, and offered their services as a favor.”
“…and you trusted them?”
“Not completely, but there’s a new faction dedicated to their dead. I dealt with a very intense woman with some sort of cat. They seem to be quite serious.”
“Well…” Kalmsan said, once more full of confidence. “…you certainly couldn’t have picked a better time.”
“Yes… and…” Copernicus said, bringing up a display of the Omega Station’s surface. “…I think… Yes! The Astartes have made Planetfall. Now all we have to do is hold until help arrives.”
Kalmsan rolled his eyes. “Oh, yes, Dade. It’s just as simple as holding off a horde of crazed cultists and some of the worst Heretic Astartes in history for an undefined amount of time. Fantastic.”