Day of Judgement by Jacob
Walk among them.
dust swirled, whipped into miniature tornadoes by the stifling desert wind.
The heat of the day had long since reached its peak and it would be only
an hour or so before the numbing cold of the night descended.
Hart hated the desert. He
stood, eyes fixed on the distant township of Arat that appeared infrequently
through his window only to disappear without warning behind the dust storms and
the encroaching gloom. With a sigh
of resignation he turned away and returned to the spartan living area of the
shack that had been his home for the past two months. Morton sat at the wooden table that dominated the centre of
the building. He was carefully
oiling his knife, as he had every night since they’d arrived. He looked up as Hart approached.
“Did you see anything?” he queried.
lowered himself onto the remaining chair. “It would be impossible to see them arrive if we were one
hundred yards away with these accursed storms,” he spat in annoyance.
“Are you certain they will keep to their schedule?”
lowered his blade, “Omega said they would be here today.
That is all we need to know.”
lowered his head briefly. “Perhaps
we should go to the town and wait for them?
With the night here they could slip in undetected and be gone before we
can react. What if Omega cannot
reach us? We cannot afford to lose
stood and moved towards the bunks propped against one wall of the shack.
“He will find a way to let us know in good time.”
He gestured to the beds, “We should sleep.”
nodded his head slowly, “Alright. You
sleep now. I will keep watch and
wake you later.” Nodding, Morton
lay down on the lower of the cramped bunks, and Hart pulled his chair over to
the Comm unit in the corner of the shack. He
wrapped his cloak about him as the wind rushed through the gaps in the shack’s
corrugated sides. It was going to
be a long night.
sky spat lightning down on the interrogator from the blood red sky.
Beside him a bolt struck, exploding into a rocky outcrop and sending
jagged splinters of stone outwards. Reflexively,
he shielded his eyes from the glare and continued his climb.
Sulphurous rain tore into his face, certain death had he not been
enclosed within his armour, and streamed in torrents down the path he had just
climbed. Above him a sleek shape
shot forwards, the sign of a talon on its side and the deadly form of an assault
cannon slung beneath it. They were
lightning flashed again, and he saw through his visor the shape of a man a few
metres ahead. He was desperately
scrabbling up the mountain, unaware of his pursuers’ presence.
Tightening his grip around the power sword he carried, the interrogator
increased his pace. The footing was
unsteady, and more than once he stumbled as the loose rock was washed away by
the deluge. Where was he running?
The interrogator could not understand.
He could not hope to escape and yet he moved ever upwards.
He pushed the questions from his mind and redoubled his efforts.
Again the figure of his prey flashed before him.
He was gaining now, there was no doubt.
He reached the top of a small rise and stopped to catch his breath.
The figure before him had slowed. “Varas!”
the interrogator screamed over the din of the weather. The figure turned. An
expression of terror crossed his face, but almost instantly was replaced by one
of determination. He shouted
something back, but it was lost in the wind.
interrogator leapt forward and the figure shot away.
Almost instantly the terrain steepened and he was forced to use his free
hand to pull himself up. The man
was just above him now, his movements frantic as he fought to stay ahead of the
chaplain. Abruptly the path
levelled, and the figure burst into a run once more.
As the interrogator reached the top he saw that they were on a plateau.
Judging by the clouds surrounding them he guessed that it was the summit. The chase would end here.
He pulled an ornate bolt pistol from his side, and spoke across the Comm
net “This is Lexus.
I have him. Squads Delta one
and two form up on my position.”
carefully he aimed a shot at his prey’s leg.
A single bolt speared forth, but ricocheted from the man’s crude
environment suit. Cursing silently,
the interrogator continued his pursuit. A
dark spire of rock loomed skywards on his left, and the figure before him ducked
around it. The chaplain increased
his pace once more and turned the corner at a dead run.
Ahead of him, framed against the lightning storm, sat a transport craft.
The man had reached it and was clambering up the boarding ramp into its
armoured hull. Already the chaplain
could hear the low whine of the pilot gunning the craft’s plasma engines.
“Echo group, require immediate intercept in sector 3!
Respond!” he yelled. The
Comm net was broadcasting static. The
lightning must have hit the relays. The
transport’s landing jets flared into life, lifting the craft up from the
plateau and out of his reach. In
desperation he emptied his bolt pistol into its side, but it was too late.
The transport rose from the mountain, manoeuvred clumsily and shot
skywards, heading for space. In
anger and frustration, the chaplain lashed out at the rock around him with his
power sword, sending sparks high into the dark skies...
jolt of the transport moving over a dune jerked Caines awake.
He sat up, instantly alert. In
the front of the vehicle, silhouetted by the rising sun, he could see the
muscular figure of Haden. He was
hunched over the transport’s controls. Through
the cracked view screen Caines could see a collection of buildings drawing
steadily closer, a grey stain on the horizon.
Forcibly burying his contempt for the man, Caines moved forwards.
“Morning,” Haden said in a tone that was failing to disguise its
replied Caines, “We’re nearly there I see.”
said Haden, ending the conversation. He was powerfully built man, but his face wore a trapped
expression. His eyes darted from
side to side, as if constantly expecting ambush and his hand repeatedly strayed
to the holster at his waste. Caines
had met Haden and his employees two months ago and after several days of
drinking and talking, had finally persuaded the merchant to carry him to the
township of Arat. Haden journeyed
to Arat regularly in order to refuel the fleet of fuel haulers he operated, but
in the meantime Caines had had to endure weeks of desert travel, as the merchant
went about his business. He was
thankful it was finally coming to an end.
turned and walked to the back of the transport.
It would not be long now, he thought.
Discreetly, he touched the amulet that he wore clasped around his right
wrist, and a tiny rune lit up on the hidden display that was projected in front
of his left eye. This task complete, he sat back down and waited for the
journey to end, his hand reflexively rubbing the black pearl that hung hidden
around his neck.
low chime swung Hart’s head around swiftly to the Comm unit.
A small rune flashed up on the display, bathing his face in green light.
Morton moved to his side studying the screen intently. “That’s Omega’s signal,” he confirmed. “They must be approaching Arat now.”
looked up at him, “The time has arrived then.”
He rose and moved to the small locker stood by the door.
bent over the Comm and manipulated the control panel.
“I’m issuing the signal,” he reported.
“We have three hours.” Hart
returned from the locker holding his knife and bolt pistol.
He handed Morton his weapons and strapped his own beneath his cloak. The two exchanged glances, gave a final look to their home,
and left for Arat across the desert.
jumped down from the transport. “You
have been most kind,” he said taking Haden’s hand.
“I would like to repay you if I may?”
eyes narrowed, “I told you. I don’t expect payment.”
nodded, “Of course, but I would like to treat you and your men to one last
drink before we part company – it’s the least I can do, considering the
trouble you have saved me.”
an instant Haden’s eyes locked with Caines as though he was searching for some
deceit in the man’s face. Caines
stood, expression blank, letting the merchant assess his motives.
The wind rustled their clothing and blew sand into their faces.
Finally Haden dropped his eyes. “I’ve
got to get these vehicles refuelled. We’ll meet you in the bar on the main street in two
smiled disarmingly, “Good. I’ll
see you there.” As he watched
Haden, and the ten men that worked with him, depart, he allowed the sneering
smile that he’d been harbouring, onto his face.
As the haulers disappeared he turned and stalked into the town, he had
work to do.
and Morton arrived at the gates of Arat an hour and half after they left the
shack. The sun had beat down on
them for the whole distance, but neither had noticed the discomfort.
They continued through the gates to the small customs checkpoint.
The official manning the post, a short, balding man, looked over the data
pad he was reading. “Good morning
Mr Morton, Mr Hart,” he greeted them.
customs official Tanner,” Morton replied, hastening through the checkpoint.
He had no desire to become embroiled in an argument over Arat’s firearm
restrictions today. Thankfully, the
official seemed unconcerned with performing his job.
“The Emperor has certainly given us a fine day today,” he remarked
stopped, and turned a stern gaze upon the official.
“The Emperor has given us everything Mr Tanner.”
suppose he has,” laughed Tanner. Morton
took Hart’s arm and propelled him forwards, before he could respond again.
it seemed, was the same as always. The township was essentially one long street, flanked on
either side by pre-fab buildings that looked, rather disconcertingly, more like
sheds for livestock, than houses and places of business. Tired, shabby people walked up and down ignoring each other,
desperate to gain shade from the heat. The
two men walked forward, passing a small market, ignoring the pleading cries of
the merchants to purchase their wares. “There’s
the place,” Hart said softly, pointing to a low building further up the
street. “What time did Omega tell us to be there?”
glanced at his chrono; “We have half an hour.
Let us go and prepare.”
inside of the bar was if anything less attractive than its battered exterior.
Several round tables filled the majority of the box like room, and a
selection of bottles was located behind a counter at the far end.
Tired eyes swung slowly to the door as the two men entered, and then
swung slowly back to their drinks. Hart
and Morton had made sure that they’d been seen around town in the previous
weeks, and the locals were normally too hot to be curious anyway. Morton strode forward, his long legs covering the distance to
the bar quickly. “Yes?” the
barman inquired, as Morton approached.
friend and I will have two of those,” Morton replied, gesturing to the nearest
hint of a smile played across the barman’s face, but it died on his lips as he
caught Morton’s fierce glare. “Here
you are,” he mumbled. Morton
tossed a few credits to him and returned to the table that Hart had chosen.
He dumped the bottles on the table and sat down.
is this?” questioned Hart.
have no idea,” replied Morton.
was a little over an hour later that Caines entered the bar.
He walked past Hart and Morton without noticing them and made for a table
in the far corner. Behind him a tall man entered, followed by ten others of a
similar height. Hart noted the
muscular bodies of all of the new arrivals.
They were in stark contrast to the malnourished locals. He glanced over at Morton.
His face had hardened to stone and his eyes glinted wickedly.
Caines had reached the table now and had motioned his companions into the
seats surrounding it. Hart started
to move, but felt Morton’s restraining hand on his arm.
“Patience brother!” he hissed.
door swung open and two more men wrapped in similar cloaks to Hart and Morton
entered the bar. One moved to a
group of locals sitting nearby. Words
passed between them, and Hart caught the dull flash of adamantium as the
newcomer gestured with his arm. The
locals got up hurriedly and left the bar, leaving the two new arrivals to take
their place. The two men leant back
in their seats in an effort to appear relaxed, but their eyes were intense.
the far corner Caines had returned with the drinks for his companions, and sat
down with them. Morton rose slowly,
gesturing to Hart to follow him. The
newcomers, at a nod from Morton, stood also and moved swiftly to the doorway.
The bar had suddenly become deathly silent. Morton crossed the floor on cat’s feet until he stood
behind the figure of Haden. “Greetings
brother Varas,” Morton growled with undisguised hatred, “It has been a long
spun around, his hand straying to his holster, “Who the hell are you!” he
began, rising to his feet. Hart
lashed out and sent the man sprawling into another table.
am vengeance!” Morton hissed.
stumbling to his feet, turned to Caines. His
eyes narrowed on the man’s face as they had before, searching for something -
“You!” he gasped.
stood, his cloak drawn back to reveal the cross that hung around his neck, and
his hand clasping a set of finely honed blades.
“You escaped me once Varas,” he intoned, “This time I win. You
cannot hide from the judgement of the Emperor.”
backed away. “Chaos damn the
Emperor!” he screamed, and pulled his bolt pistol free.
The fallen Dark Angel was fast. Before
the marines could react he squeezed the trigger and the gloomy interior of the
bar was lit up with fire. Morton
hurled himself into Hart, knocking him clear of the explosive rounds that were
lancing towards him. Varas moved
swiftly to the door followed by his squad.
The two Dark Angels stationed there stepped forward to cut off their
escape, but were knocked to floor as the greater numbers of the fallen assaulted
scrambled to his feet and leapt after them.
“Brother Zaltys!” Morton shouted, “Hold your position.
The trap has been sprung.”
puled back reluctantly from the open door, “Yes master,” he replied,
disappointment evident in his voice.
stepped forward, “Varas is more skilled than even I had believed brother
Dark Angel master turned to his chaplain, “The assets of the fallen are not of
this world brother Lexus. This time
however, not even the gods of chaos will allow him to escape.”
sprinted toward the main gates of Arat, followed by his fellow marines.
The dust blew into his face, stinging his eyes, but he ran on.
To stop was to die. How
could he have been so stupid!? To
fail to recognise an interrogator chaplain!
The years must have taken their toll, he thought.
They passed through the gates unchallenged, out onto the desert plain.
He skidded to a halt. They
had to move fast. “Should have
gone for the transports!” he muttered to himself.
He turned east. Low town was
only ten miles. If they kept
blur on the horizon caught his attention. It was large, black and moving fast towards them.
Dust swirled around it as it powered onwards.
As it got closer, what had been a single entity separated into smaller
specks. The sun glinted evilly off
exposed metal surfaces. “Hell’s
teeth!” he cursed, “The Ravenwing!”
him Sergio pulled at his arm, “Varas! Look!” The
marine was pointing to the west, where a huge white bird was descending from the
heavens. Varas sank to his knees. Already
the roar of engines could be heard bearing down upon them.
This was the end.
of the other marines seeing their leader give up, bolted for the desert.
Behind them a number of the black specks moved to intercept.
Sergio struggled to pull Varas up. “Move!”
he screamed, “You know what happens if they take us!”
lightning arced in front of them, and the nightmare forms of five terminators
materialised from the warp. The sun
gleamed blindingly off their white armour and their weapons were levelled at the
remaining fallen. “Yes,” said
Varas in a low voice, “I do.”
the first Ravenwing bikes ground to a standstill behind them, Varas raised the
bolt pistol to his head. “I got
away once. I won’t let him have
a voice barked, “In the name of the Emperor!”
fired. His limp body toppled
forward into Sergio’s arms.
him!” the voice commanded.
lowered the body of Varas to the ground and turned.
A marine in black power armour stood before him, bolt pistol in hand, the
mark of the winged sword upon his shoulder. “You don’t even know who I
am.” Sergio said mockingly, despair gripping his heart.
bike pulled up besides them. Sergio
felt a chill surge through him, as its rider approached.
He was clad in bone white robes now, and seemed taller than he had done
only a few minutes before. “Hello
Caines,” Sergio managed, injecting
as much venom as he could into the greeting.
“Silence!” roared Lexus. The chaplain prodded at the prone form of Varas lying in a widening pool of blood on the ground, and then returned his gaze to Sergio. “You should be thankful that you are still alive heretic!” he goaded, “Varas will burn eternally in the fires of chaos. But I will do everything I can to save your soul!” The chaplain’s eyes burnt into the fallen Dark Angels mind, forcing Sergio to avert his gaze. Finally, Lexus turned away, disgust evident on his face. “Brother Pluvius,” he addressed the Ravenwing sergeant, “take these men to the transport. And assemble your men. Our work here is done.”