"Xaphian, maybe you could give us more information about people we might be fighting."
The royal humanoid ground squirrel, Sally, had asked the question, so the sorcerer thought carefully about the answer before giving it. Before he started to speak, Sally had set her wrist-mounted dataslate 'Nicole' to record his words,
"The Imperium of Man is officially very rigidly divided up into very specific roles, all of which are vigorously and exhaustively used by the 'Holy' Ordos of the Inquisition.
Firstly, the Adepts of the Adeptus Administratum. These are specialists in knowledge, both scholarly and esoteric, and the keepers and designers of the labyrinthine bureaucracy that keeps the Imperium working."
"How could these bureaucrats possibly be a threat to us? They don't sound much like defenders." Knuckles put in,
"Never underestimate the power of knowledge, who knows what obscure reference they might know that could lead to our downfalls. Besides they will still have guns even if they are not the best at using them," Xaphain gave a rueful smile before continuing,
"Second in the list are the Ecclesiarchs of the Ecclesiarchy. These clerics are fonts of rhetoric and dogma to the Imperial Church, following the teachings of the Lectitio Divinitatus, which was, ironically, penned by the first Primarch to turn to Chaos, Lorgar Aurelian of the Word Bearers. That however is a story for another time."
Sally seemed very interested in that extra story, but let it slide in favour of the more pertinent information, saying instead, "Yes, we met their like on the road when we first came here. They seem very good at invigorating those they are with,"
"Better than you know. However they are not without their sordid histories that can be exploited. At one point in Imperial history the Ecclesiarchy got too powerful and tried to wrest the control Imperium from the High Lords of Terra. They lost eventually, but afterwards it was ruled that no man in the Ecclesiarchy would henceforth bear arms. Of course they twisted this law and formed our third faction on our list, the Adeptas Sororitas, the Sisters of Battle. An all-female and totally fanatical band of warriors. Most of them wear powerful powered armour and fight with the best conventional weapons found in the Imperium, and are as good at spouting rhetoric as any Ecclesiarch. They tend to really like fire, and carry the most hatred for anyone not Human or not in worship to the God-Emperor."
The young one-armed humanoid Fox quivered, "I hope we don't meet any of them, they sound terrifying,"
"With luck we won't, but if we really want to talk terror, we should talk about the Assassin Clades, our fourth listing. There are seven different types of Assassins, all of which are deployed by the Inquisition.
Most commonly seen will be Death Cult Assassins, these are highly agile and mostly devoted to close combat. They carry either mono or powered weapons, thus are very effective against armoured opponents.
Callidus Assassins are highly specialised in stealth and deception. Using a drug called polymorphine they can change their appearance to match identically whatever they will it to be, thus can copy anyone they have seen, including Xenos or Daemons, though they won't be able to copy any supernatural effects.
Eversor Assassins are awe-inspiring combat specialists, normally kept in stasis and the dropped into battle from orbit. Once released they are pumped full of combat drugs that cause them to feel no pain, have heightened senses, can run faster, fight harder. They are weapons of terror as much as they are effective death dealers, though they can be unpredictable due to the combat drugs. Also, if you manage to kill one, they have a self-destruction switch built into them, which will cause them to detonate with a massive explosion.
Vindicare Assassins are unparalleled snipers and are rarely found in close combat. They have specialised rifles and pistols that can take rare and special ammunition that can deal with any situation. If they see you before you see them, it will usually mean your death.
Venenum Assassins are poison specialists, you don't tend to see too many of them in the field, they are usually more political instruments.
Vanus Assassins are information specialists, they work well in conjunction with other assassins, feeding them the knowledge they need to do their jobs, but are also effective in their own right. They can foster gang wars, or put a law enforcement squad in the right place at the right time. Many of their targets find themselves dead due to ill-fated events or poorly timed operations, not even aware of the hand that truly killed them.
Lastly there are the Culexus Assassins. These are the true horrors of the Assassins Clades, they are all Pariahs, genetic mutants that not only cast no shadow in the Warp, they literally form a void there, not unlike a black hole in space. The cause of this is because the mutation causes them to have no soul. The Warp is a reflection of emotions and souls, and these Pariahs are so without soul that they devour the soul energy around them. They are most effective against Psykers and Warp Entities, as they are intrinsically tied to the Warp, but they are still very effective against those who are not. They emit a powerful aura of wrongness and fear; they move silently and wear all black apart from an elongated skull mask that looms out of the darkness before their foe."
The Anthromorphs took a few moments to process all of the information about the assassins,
"It was a Death Cult assassin that we saw wasn't it?" The black and red hedgehog had his arms crossed, listening calmly with his face set in an angry frown,
"Ah yes, the one you lanced through with a bolt of warp energy, a 'Chaos Spear' I believe you called it?" Shadow only responded with a nod, "Fine work really. Any other questions about assassins?"
Sally spoke up again, "Xaphian, do you think it likely that we will meet any of these?"
"Possibly, we know they have Death Cult here so I would count them likely. As for the others … I would count the Callidus as unlikely, they are performing a purge not an infiltration. With others in the field Eversors are too dangerous. Vindicare are possible, but the Spaceport is quite enclosed, not good for sniper vantage points. I highly doubt Venenum would be here. Vanus are likely, but they will be in orbit, so we won't 'meet' them. Culexus …" Xaphian shuddered, "Gods I hope not, but they know there are unsanctioned psykers here, so they may have taken that precaution."
Sally nodded slowly, "Well, let's not go looking for trouble and hopefully if there are any in the spaceport we will miss them. Let's carry on with the list."
"As you wish, fifthly in our list, are the Adeptus Arbites. These are elite law enforcement operatives. They are the total embodiment of Imperial law, harsh and unforgiving. They are deployed against threats to Imperial security and not just a pickpocket or back alley murder. Their usual targets are the followers of the Chaos Gods, routing out their cults and executing them. However they do get other targets, Genestealer Cults, Underhive Gangs that have gotten too powerful, even rogue operatives, anyone the Book of Judgement can be levelled against."
"Military Police?" Shadow asked, his frown had deepened, he was clearly thinking of something distasteful to him,
"In a way, though they have no ties to the Astra Militarum. Expect shotgun, shock-mauls and riot shields from them, along with a sheer stubborn bloody-mindedness that will not be swayed."
Shadow shot a look to Knuckles, "We have experience of that. Who else should we be on the look out for?"
"Well sixthly but not lastly, are the soldiers of the Astra Militarum. Whether Imperial Guardsman, Stormtroopers, the PDF (the Planetary Defence Force) or members of the Imperial Navy, the Inquisition utilises them all. Taking them from their commanders, either individually or as whole units, the Inquisition commands them to serve. They will all be skilled in the art of war in a myriad of ways, dependant on their homeworld or squad role. Regardless of their diversity they will all be deadly."
"That all sounds a bit vague Xaphian, how diverse could they really be?" Sally asked,
"There are billions of worlds under Imperial control and most of them offer troops up to the Astra Militarum as part of their taxation. Each world is different and breeds a different type of person. Inside of the Imperial Guard, there are frontlines men, heavy weapon experts, tank commanders, commissars, snipers, infiltration experts, sappers, rough riders, artillery loaders, vox operators. There are even abhumans there, the diminutive, hairy-footed Ratlings, and the hulking brutes of the Ogryns. If I went into a complete list we would be here until the star of this system fades and burns out."
"I see what you mean, that is quite diverse. We shall have to examine them on a case by case basis. Thank you for the explanation Xaphian, please continue,"
"Thank you for listening! Next and seventhly, the Tech Priests. Members of the Cult of the Machine, the Adeptus Mechanicus, are necessary to maintain the Inquisitions equipment, vehicles, ships and machinery. Sometimes they accompany Inquisitors into the field, giving them the benefit of their specialised knowledge. These can be complicated foes as their bionic upgrades will make them much more durable, even when unarmoured and their weapons tend to be more potent and rarer than most you will find. Tech Priests may also bring with the members of their personal bodyguard and army, the Skitarii. Skitarii are bionically upgraded soldiers equipped with the most cutting-edge and restricted weapons in the Imperium."
"I still find it difficult to believe they willingly submit themselves to Robotisiseation," Tails shook his head sadly, "And worshiping machines too … I mean they are interesting, but we build and control them, not the other way round,"
"I would not tell them that. For ones that purport to eschew emotions, they do get offended very easily,"
"I won't, but I have a feeling they won't feel like talking anyway. Are there any others?"
"There are, half again I am afraid. The eighth of our list are the Sanctioned Psykers of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica. These powerful individuals will be hard to predict. Unlike the followers of Chaos, Imperial Psykers specialise in different and restricted disciplines of psychic power. Some throw fire or read minds, others can stop bullets with their own willpower, some send messages over vast distances, and others can even control the life forces of the body. Every one of them will be dangerous and powerful, even if they are limited by their devotion to the Emperor. Never should they be underestimated."
"Hmph, You are a psyker are you not?" The black and red hedgehog said, glaring at him,
"I am, in a way, though I am not sanctioned by the Imperium. I have not been subject to their brainwashing and conditioning, nor have I been psychically shackled to the power of the Golden Throne. I use powers that are too powerful and too unseemly to Imperial psykers, powers that they call sorcery, so that is what I am, a Sorcerer rather than a Psyker,"
"That all just sounds like words to say the same thing,"
"Perhaps the nuances are lost on you, but I won't hold it against you," Shadow just grunted in response to that, and without any more interjections Xaphian continued,
"Ninth in our list, those that have fallen through the cracks of Imperial society. Gangers, Bounty Hunters, thieves and miscreants. Anyone the Inquisition can manipulate and think can be of service. These people will be the most unpredictable of all, carrying knowledge and disciplines from multiple sources."
"Those seem like the Guardsmen again," Knuckles said.
"In some ways I suppose that is true. However these ones won't play anywhere near fair. They will have skills you won't find in Guardsmen, skills developed by doing anything to survive. Most will only be loyal to their Inquisitor because the Inquisitor has something over them. The majority of these scum will not enjoy Imperial society,"
"We might be able to use that if we can find out what is keeping them there," said Sally,
"We could, but there will likely not be the time,"
"I think you are right Xaphian, but let's continue, this list is longer than I expected,"
"It will be done soon, we have only two and perhaps the most important factions left. And so, tenth on the list, the Inquisitors themselves. They could have come from any origin, and be a master of their art. They also have access to knowledge that is forbidden to the rest of the Imperium. They have the power to command anyone into service and the ability to destroy worlds if they wish to, calling Exterminatus down upon them. Unless they are undercover, they tend to be dramatically over-wrought, dressed in black leather trenchcoats, carrying flaming brands and wearing the stylised I with an eye in the centre on a chain about their necks. They are powerful, zealous, oppressive and dangerous. Some Inquisitors, hypocritically and against their own mandate, may use weapons of Chaos, even enslaved Daemons, against their own."
"Xaphian, how do you fight someone with the power to destroy an entire world?" Sally asked
"Either you never let them know you are there or you choose your battlefield on a place that they cannot afford to destroy. Many worlds are too valuable for the Imperium to lose,"
"I am glad that they have at least that much restraint, but who could be more important that the Inquisitors?"
"Perhaps they are merely equally important, but possibly more dangerous. The last of the list are the Space Marines. The Inquisition can call upon any of the Legions or succession Chapters for support. Space Marines enjoy their own autonomy outside of Imperial control, but refusing the Inquisition could cause disastrous repercussions, as has happened with some of them. The Inquisition tries not to push the Space Marines too much though; an enemy of an entire Chapter of Space Marines is a bad thing to have, so the contention goes both ways. However the Inquisition itself has two sworn Chapters of Space Marines, the Deathwatch and the Grey Knights. The Deathwatch are highly specialised Space Marines, dedicated to destroying Xenos creatures and utilising the best and newest weapons available to the Imperium. The Grey Knights however, are a secret chapter, forbidden to be known by the rest of the Imperium. Every one of them is a psyker, even if they are of little power. They are entirely dedicated to fighting the forces of Chaos and destroying Warp-Entities, that which they call Daemons."
"It is unlikely we will see any Space Marines in the spaceport. I can't imagine the Inquisition would deem a single Chaos Cult that much of a threat. I am actually surprised they sent more than just the Arbites against us." Xaphian finished his description,
"With all of that against us, is there any hope of us getting to your ship?" Tails asked, his voice was quavering, it was clear that he was scared.
"The Gods are with us, and I don't mean for us to make a frontal assault, that would be as foolish as it would be suicidal. We shall sneak through, and with luck we won't be fighting anyone, or as few as it won't matter. Besides, between us, we should be able to fight back against most of what could come against us."
"It will be ok Tails, we won't let anything else hurt you," Sally put an arm around the maimed Fox's shoulder.
"Ok Aunt Sally, I'll be ok," Tails put on a brave face, though those who knew him well could see straight through it.
"Well then, let's get some rest, on the morrow, before first light, we will head in" Xaphian concluded the briefing before heading to a dry corner to bed down. Sonic moved to the window of the only remaining intact wall and the others drifted apart to find as comfortable as spot as possible in these ruins.
After a time, once the others were asleep, Sally got up from where she had settled and went over to where Sonic was keeping watch. He was much thinner, she noted, the past few days had seen little food, but she imagined that it was the stress that had kept him sullen and quiet that was really the cause for the magnitude of his weight loss.
She rested a hand on his arm, gently and caringly, but it still caused him to jump.
'Where had his mind been?' she wondered, normally he would have been very attentive.
"Sal?" He sounded confused,
"Sonic," Her voice was soft and kind, "I have been worried about you, and there has not been a suitable time to talk,"
"Yeah … I'm not doin' good Sal," Sonic kept his voice low, so that only Sally could hear him. He was too prideful to actively show weakness in front of anyone but her,
"I know Sonic, I've missed your easy wit," She looked at her childhood friend with concern, "You have not been yourself."
"I know, I just …" Sonic looked away for a moment, "It's the killing Sal, I can't sleep. All I see when I close my eyes is the blood bursting from the three of them after I spin dashed. I did that." He looked paler for talking about the memory.
"You did, but you had to. They might have killed Tails, and could have killed the rest of us, we had no idea what we were up against," Her tone was soothing,
"I … I know Sal, but … but I can't get it out of my head. I can't move on, and the idea I might have to kill more … I feel ill Sal,"
Sally stepped closer and hugged him, "We will make it through Sonic. With luck there will be no fighting at all tomorrow, and we can be away from this place. We can get somewhere that we can recover properly."
Sonic clung to her for a while before speaking, "I hope so Sal. Thanks. I might sleep better tonight," he sounded doubtful, but grateful still.
"Why not rest now, before your mind can take that comfort away. I'll take the watch."
"Yes Sonic, I'm sure. Go on, get some rest," She kissed him lightly on the cheek, sending him on his way, back towards the others. She watched him go, worried and thoughtful. She hoped that tomorrow really would go peacefully, for his sake.
Robotnik stood on the bridge of the Starship, his eyes glimmering with undisclosed avarice. The bridge was teeming with activity; robed menials scurried from station to station like rats through a laboratory maze. Others were permanently hard wired into the consoles occasionally intoning readouts or acknowledging commands.
The Tech Priest commanded this vessel and several others in his fleet. He had given himself the designation Explorator Magos Valus Magnetron. The title Explorator meant that he was on a mission to search the galaxy for STC's and bring them back to the Mechanicus' control. He had hit the jackpot when he had found Magos Robotnik.
Robotnik chuckled inwardly; he knew what happened when you ring the jackpot with his face on the tumblers. However for now he was playing nice, no need to show them his true self just yet, maybe not ever if he could convince them to serve him willingly. Robotnik wanted this ship for himself, and he would do what he could to get it. Then he could dispose of them while they remained blissfully ignorant.
"Is everything satisfactory Magos?" the Explorator asked him in binary cant.
"Oh yes. I was admiring the efficiency you have instilled into your crew. It is a shame Snively could not be here to learn from their example."
"Processing … Your Enginseer is not of sufficient rank to experience the complexity of the control maniple of the star vessel."
"Oh I am well aware Explorator. I am merely dissatisfied that he has not increased his knowledge and training sufficiently enough to have progressed. There is much he could learn from here. Such as quiet obedience." Said Robotnik evenly, muttering the last to himself.
"I understand. Processing … Lack lustre students are disappointing. Have you considered augmenting his cognitive processes? A cognition implant and an emotive extraction could serve to increase his efficiency."
"We did not have the factorum facilities to manufacture cognitive upgrades without servitorisation. Snively's intelligence is not his issue, it is his motivation. Perhaps I should fit him with a shock collar like I have seen some of your menials in." The alien words flowed easily from Robotnik; his vast intellect had already absorbed the language and its dialects.
"Processing … Processing … Potential increase of motivation by application of electro-discipline valued at eighty-six-point-seven-nine recurring percent. An adequate increase. Your suggestion is merited."
"I was Factor, Forge Master and de facto Imperial Governor of Mobius, such analysis of my subordinates came naturally to me. I can get the best out of my menials no matter if their emotional state is positive or negative."
"Of course, emotion is irrelevant and a weakness. Shall we adjourn to the planning room to discuss how to track your Power Source?"
"Yes. I must have it back. Then I will take my vengeance on the Hedgehog."
"Hedgehog? Processing … A small mammal with protective spines from ancient Terra?"
"Apologies Explorator. It was what we designated the leader of the Warp Entities that assailed Robotropolis, based on its aesthetic. Its true name is too foul to say."
"Understood. Processing … Daemon names have power, it is right not to say them."
Robotnik thought it was best to steer the conversation away from his Mobian nemesis "Come Explorator, let us not waste time when we could be discussing plans and schemata."
The spaceport seemed like it was the only area of the planet that had not been blasted into smoking ruins. Immaculate but plain and uniform buildings stood ready and waiting for use, giant double-headed eagles proudly emblazoned on their walls.
Xaphian had led them through a sewer system into a disused warehouse and from there into a series of air ducts. The freedom fighters were used to traveling through ducts while sneaking into and out of Robotropolis, in here they felt more comfortable and more at home than they had while here in this new world.
Through gratings they had seen guards patrolling. They seemed on high alert as they would investigate any slight noise or shadow they did not trust.
"Where do we go from here?" Sally whispered to the human sorcerer,
"We follow this path for a time until we come to the barracks. In there we will find where they have the Rogue Trader we need to rescue locked up."
"What is a rogue trader?"
"Think of a Pirate or a Privateer from ancient lore. They are official, charismatic traders, usually the head of a wealthy noble family. The one we are after has been sympathetic to our cause for a long time. They have smuggled forbidden history books and artefacts to us for many years. I do not wish to see him harmed merely for ferrying the truth."
"A sentiment I can appreciate. Very well we can rescue your friend, is it their ship that we will be leaving on?"
"That is certainly the plan,"
Shadow broke in at this point, "How can you even know where he is or that he would help us?"
"The God Tzeentch is the master of fate and he grants his followers the abilities to read the currents of the future. I have seen us find him and our ascent into the void."
"Hmph, no ones future is certain; I do not trust these visions."
"You wound me Master Hedgehog. What I say is true, as you will see."
"I trust him," The red echidna had decided this would be one of the rare occasions he would speak up, "I have seen such visions in the Master Emerald before. I know these sorts of things happen,"
Shadow grunted, "Fine. Let's get on with it."
Before long they came to a grating that looked down on a door guarded by two, bulky misshapen humans, bulging with muscles. 'Ogryns' Xaphian called them, a type of genetic mutant known for their strength, their lack of intelligence and for their claustrophobia.
"Behind that door is the barracks, I am sure of it." Xaphain whispered contemplating the next move,
"Is there any way we can get in without having to attack them?" Sonic asked quietly, clearly uncomfortable with the prospect of violence.
"I believe so, if we continue to follow the vents, it should double back into the barracks itself. I believe that best; to press an attack now would be to risk an alarm being raised."
There was a quiet murmur of agreement and so the group pressed on, following the duct until it weaved its way back through the walls into the room they needed.
This time through the grate they saw a large room, half of which was lined with beds. The other half had the beds all piled up to leave two of the walls free. On these walls, manacles and chains had been hammered roughly into the walls, most of which were empty, but the wall space behind them was smeared with blood and bullet holes. Only one of the sets of chains had an occupant, a man who had once been dressed in richly appointed clothes made of fine silks and velvets, though now were badly soiled and ripped, probably beyond salvaging. The man had shoulder length dirty blond hair, high cheekbones and a well-kept short cropped beard. If it wasn't for the filth, cuts and bruising he would have been described as handsome.
"Damn the Inquisition. I am sure most of the people they questioned and killed were innocents and even Malachi was a good man despite helping us," Xaphian spoke with a disgusted tone, "Let's get him out of there. Hopefully he has not been damaged so much that he can't fly us out of here."
With gentle encouragement, the grating came away and the group took turns carefully dropping down onto a bed. Xaphian waited until they were all out into the barracks before turning and swiftly heading over to the chained man,
The mans eyes opened slowly, looking up at the young sorcerer, "That you lad? Got away did ye?" His deep voice was interrupted by a hacking cough, leaving his lips flecked with blood, "Ugh, got used as an Ogryns punching bag, think you could …"
Xaphian reached out and touched the man on his shoulder and began chanting the same words the spoke when he healed Tails. The walls suddenly began to crust over with a thick frost, and the temperature of the room dropped significantly, but Malachis bruising began to recede and he looked healthier.
"What was that?" Shadows aggressive tones cut through the room,
Xaphian straightened and looked over his shoulder, also prompting Malachi to look past the sorcerer at the others. The Rogue Trader raised an imperious eyebrow.
"Psychic Phenomena. The Warp is a realm of emotion as I have told you before; there is a risk when tapping into the potential of the Warp to manifest psychic powers they will be altered by your emotions as they are reflected in the Immaterium. I must confess I am greatly angered at the treatment of my friend, and that manifested as this hoarfrost. I apologise for my lack of control."
Shadow just grunted in response, his arms folded over his chest, giving the sorcerer his customary glare.
"New friends you have there lad? I've travelled all over the galaxy and I have never seen their like. I've seen some damnable odd things I grant you, but never Xenos like this." Malachi cocked his head, looking at the arranged Mobians with curiosity.
"They are strangers I found in the ruins. They are Warp touched beings from another reality. I believe it is all part of Tzeentch's great plan. I mean to help them, and they will help us in return."
"Truly? Huh, think you can help me out of these chains first?"
"I've got this," Knuckles stepped forward, "I can punch through anything," confidently he moved up to the chains, grabbing them with one hand, pulling them tight, then driving his other fist into the frost covered metal with a wordless exclamation. The chain shattered beneath his fist, and with a grin, Knuckles did the same to the second chain.
"Nicely done Red. Now let's get out of here before the dullards outside decide it's worth checking on that noise."
"I'm Knuckles the Echidna," he said, jerking a thumb towards his chest,
"Good for you Red, I'm Malachi Nihilius of the ancient trading house of Nihilius. Now let's get the frak out of here,"
They scurried back into the vent and moved deeper into the spaceport. The Rogue Trader told Xaphian that others of his order had been removed from the planet, and have gone back to their benefactor. This information seemed to please the sorcerer, and he had asked if there was a shuttle they could take to get up into orbit.
"One, as far as I can recall anyway. Platform Sigma Beta Prime. I am not sure if they are even guarding it either. I don't think they expect anyone to be able to sneak their way through all the patrols."
"They underestimate us, that is good," Xaphian looked even happier, "We won't be able to follow the ducts to that platform, but it does have sewer access, there are plenty of run-off points for rain water and chemical spills."
Xaphian lead them back to the deserted warehouse that they had started in and back into the sewer system. The further into the spaceport they pressed the worse the sewers smelt. Not only did they have to deal with the scent of faecal matter but also the cloying scent of chemicals and fuel. It reminded the Mobians of the areas around Robotniks headquarters.
It took well over an hour to traverse the vast spaceport. All of them ached from the effort of crawling through the confined space, but they were safe. None of the Imperial patrols had the wit to detect them or even to monitor the ventilation ducts.
Finally they were looking out into a huge room with the roof open to the sky above. The room itself was filled with maintenance equipment, refuelling lines and scanning equipment, all there to look after the space vessel sat within a marked zone in the centre of the room. Tails wished that he was not maimed and had the time to examine and use all the equipment in the room, but he knew they had to move fast, their luck wouldn't last forever.
Malachi was the first out of the vent towards his ship. As he approached two gun turrets emerged out of a set of inconspicuous crates and swivelled towards him.
"Deactivate security protocol Epsilon Magenta, negitientur in veritate et nos." Malachis voice was commanding and the turrets paused, then drooped, but did not recede. The Rogue Trader looked back towards the rest of the group clambering out of the vents. "Left them up in case we need them, they can be used manually now." Grinning he resumed his progress towards the shuttle at a jog.
Sonic scanned the room, trying to see if there were any other threats. They seemed to be alone, and aside from the vents there was only one entrance, a large set of double blast proof doors. He breathed a sigh of relief, nothing bad had happened, nobody had to die. The others had filtered up into the shuttle, however as Sonic went to join them he hear the Rogue Trader curse from inside,
"Some thrice-cursed Tech-priest must have bypassed my security! Both the stabilisation coil and the navigation panel have been disabled."
Sonic heard Sallys voice next, "Can it be fixed Mr. Nihilius?"
"That would be Captain or Lord, not Mister, but really you can call me Mal. As to if it could be fixed … Possibly, but I do not have the skills."
"I do!" Tails piped up, always eager to help.
"As do I, these systems are similar to the ARK's consoles." Sonic was surprised to hear Shadow volunteer,
"Then we have a chance, if you can handle the console and you can handle the undercarriage of the ship, I will start preparing the other systems," moments after Malachi had finished speaking, the twin-tailed Fox came barrelling out of the shuttle.
"Sonic!" Tails was beaming at him, "Can you help me push one of those carts full of tools over to the shuttle? It's going to take me longer than usual to do this, and I need to save my arm strength."
"Uh, sure." Sonic followed Tails over to his selected cart and helped him heave it over to where he wanted it, "You sure you're gonna be alright with this lil' bro?"
"I need this Sonic. It's going to be hard, but I need to do this. Watch out for danger for me please?"
"You got it!" Sonic gave him a thumbs up and a grin that he didn't really feel before backing up and turning back to watch the room. He could hear Shadow grumbling from inside the shuttle, clearly whatever he was doing was going to take some time to do.
Long minutes dragged past, and just as Sonic began to think they would be in the clear the blast doors burst open. Stood in the doorway was a woman with shoulder length platinum blonde hair in form fitting jet black armour, bearing the fleur-de-lys insignia proudly displayed on her chest.
Her eyes locked with Sonics and she began to yell at the top of her voice, a booming commanding voice that Sonic had not expected, "Daemon! Brothers! I have found the heretic! In the God-Emperors name, you shall feel His wrath!"
Sonic backed away a step as the woman drew a massive sword that started to hum and crackle with energy, "Whoa, hey Lady, hold on a second! I don't want a fight,"
"Speak not your lies to me Daemon! I will purge your filth from the galaxy, in His name!" She ran full speed towards Sonic, raising her sword high, preparing for a devastating slash at the end of her charge.
Sonic just manage to recover from his surprise to get his sword up to parry. To his horror, the energy field around the womans blade met the mono blade and with a flash, snapped the blade in two.
Sonic staggered back, reeling slightly from the force of the blow, "Wha'?"
"Your defences are naught before His majesty. I will cast you back to the Immaterium, hellspawn," Her eyes flicked passed him to where Tails lay on his back, under the shuttle, desperately trying to bolt a loose pipe back into place one handedly, "Another! All of you will burn!"
Fearful that she would turn her hatred upon Tails, Sonic spin-dashed over to where the gun turrets were and swung it around to face the attacker,
"C'mon Lady, please don't make me do this,"
"Your pleas for mercy are lost on me abomination!" She launched into another rage fuelled attack towards him. Reflexively Sonic pulled the trigger.
A stream of mass reactive shells launched themselves towards the woman. Sonic thought they were similar, but larger than the rounds that had maimed his adopted brother. The first caught the woman in her unarmoured head, the secondary detonation causing it to burst like an overripe fruit, showering the area in gore and brain matter. The rest of the rounds impacted into the torso of her armour, most just hammering harmlessly against the power field protected plates, however the last two rounds managed to bite deep, penetrating through the armour, the secondary detonations liquefying her chest and spraying viscera through her already ruined neck.
Sonic watched it all happen in slow motion, not able to drag his eyes away from the tremendous destruction he had wrought. Not only had he killed this woman, but the unnecessary carnage was so shocking and appalling to him that he immediately doubled over to wretch up his meal of charred rat and run-off water.
An amount of time passed. Sonic couldn't tell how much time, he couldn't tell much of anything, nor could he pull his eyes away from the ruination that he had wrought. He was dimly aware of someone saying his name, and the sound of distant voices shouting.
Someone tugged on his arm, pulling him away. Numbly he was pulled up a ramp, into an enclosed area and pushed into a seat. Vaguely aware of the vibrations through his seat he absently strapped himself in with the harness, safety first, his hands moving almost out of muscle memory.
Sonic tried to take in the view out of the window he was next to, tried experience the wonder of leaving the orbit of a planet whilst under fire, but all he could see was a black armoured body, headless and surrounded by an expanding pool of blood.