Legal stuff: the Mass Effect universe and the Warhammer 40000 universe are property of the corporation Bioware and Games Workshop respectively; neither of them are my creation.

All original characters are my property, and may be used if I have provided appropriate permission.


Chapter 1-Evacuation

"Hull integrity at sixty percent."

"Losing life support power."

"Torpedo batteries five through to twenty lost."

The droning of Servitors was barely discernable through the din of klaxons blaring their warnings and the frantic yells of the crew of the Faith's Fury. Brother Captain Malleus cursed as he heard yet another alert of yet more structural damage reports were relayed to him, yet more grim, hopeless new. The Fury was dying, he knew it. It was only a matter of time before the strike cruiser gave out.

In the void, hundreds of kilometres away, the Ork fleet pounded the great bulk of Faith's Fury. Crude lasers cobbled together from scrap pounded the vessel's flanks, torpedoes guided by insane greenskin pilots screaming across the void and into the ship. Cut off from the rest of the Imperial fleet, who were making a spirited attempt to fight through the xenos blockade, Faith's Fury was alone and defenceless.

"Captain!" Hullen's voice crackled into the vox bead surgically planted into the Astartes' ear. "We need to go now. Our brothers have been evacuated, and we're in the Thunderhawk waiting for you."

"Then go!" Malleus ordered without a second thought. "Don't wait for me."

"That is not a good idea, Captain," Cyralius replied, jumping into the vox channel. "If we wish to defeat the greenskins then your tactical expertise will be needed. The Fury is done for; do not be a fool. Staying here and dying will achieve nothing."

Malleus sighed, before nodding.

"Once again you provide the voice of reason, Cyralius," he said. "I'm coming down."

"Be quick, Malleus."

"Captain!" Malleus called over the din, and the command throne at the centre of the bridge swivelled to face the Astartes. The thin, bionically enhanced figure within it called across; "What is it, Malleus?"

"I'm leaving the ship, Kurias," Malleus replied. "Give the orders to evacuate the officers and come with me."

"Aye sir," Kurias replied, before barking a set of orders into a vox mounted into the throne. Kurias was one of the best ship pilots the Sons of Thunder had; he would be needed as much as Malleus in the fight to come. There was a whine as various neural plugs retracted from his body, before he dragged himself free of the throne, pushing through the crowded bridge towards Malleus. The Astartes clamped his helmet into place before grabbing a rebreather unit and slinging it to Kurias.

"No telling where there'll be vacuum," he said. "Now we must hurry."

The hulking space marine hurried through the bridge, Kurias in his wake, and through one of the heavy blast doors that sealed it off from the rest of the ship.
In the corridors, the chaos was even more intense, panicked armsmen sprinting through the corridors. There was shouting, the screams of the injured and dying and the desperate prayers of those invoking the Emperor to save them in their hour of need. While Malleus could simply shoulder his way through the chaos, his immense bulk lending him the brawn needed, Kurias was struggling to keep up; even with his bionics, the captain spent a long time in his command throne and was struggling to walk, let alone get through the mad scrum of panicked people, servitors, crimson alert lights and blaring claxons.

Realising that Kurias was struggling to keep up, Malleus turned and grabbed the captain, before hoisting him onto his shoulders, ignoring the man's surprised protests as he continued his same, relentless pace.

"Captain, where are you?" Hullen asked. "We can't wait much longer."

"I'm on my way!" Malleus replied. "Hold on!"

Taking a deep breath, the Astartes began to run. The crowds scattered before him in terror of being crushed as he stampeded forwards, smashing aside servitors too slow to get into his way. He thundered down stairs, drawing his thunder hammer one handed to break down a bulkhead barring his way. Within minutes, he had reached the hangar, in which the reassuringly familiar white and gold bulk of his personal thunderhawk, Emperor's Flame, was waiting. A fire was burning on one side of the cavernous room, a team of suppressor servitors trying to control it with great gouts of white foam even as the tongues of flame licked onto the human-machine hybrids and began to consume them.

"In here!" a figure on the ramp of the gunship called, the scrolling on his shoulder saying 'Gaius' in thick gothic lettering. "Hurry!"

Still holding the Fury's captain over his shoulder, Malleus sprinted across the deck and into the gunship. With a whine, the ramp at the front of the vehicle began to grind upwards as Gaius and Malleus quickly clamped themselves into the harnesses at the side of the vehicle's cramped interior while Kurias, now free of Malleus' grasp, hurried to the cockpit. The gunship's engines swivelled and a moment before the ramp shut, Malleus saw the hangar's interior blur as it lifted into the air.

There was a roar as the thunderhawk accelerated out of the hangar, before the sound was cut off as they reached vacuum. Looking around the interior of the vehicle, Malleus did a quick head count, seeing his command squad was there; Gaius, the company champion, Apothecary Okeen, banner bearer Titus, the proud colours of the Sons of Thunder's VI company held in his hands even now. Hullen, the squad's special weaponry expert, had his melta clamped into place over his knees next Epistolary Cyralius and, his four great servo arms folded over his shoulders and making him look like some mechanical spider, Forge-Priest Kullas waited patiently in his deep crimson artificer armour.

He knew their chances of survival were good; the thunderhawk was a tiny target compared to the big game of Faith's Fury and from the tactical map he had called to the fore of his helmet's HUD Imperial forces were already beginning to punch holes in the Ork fleet which had stretched itself thin in its gambit to isolate the Fury.

Unfortunately, what he hadn't bargained on, quite understandably, was just how unpredictable Orkoid engineering could be.

"Incoming!" Kurias' voice crackled over the gunship's PA system. "Brace for impact! Blessed Emperor, it's a damned Shock-Attack Gun!"

"Cyralius!" Malleus said. "Stop that thing now!"

As the curving arc of warp energy streaked towards the gunship, the epistolary drew upon his considerable psychic talents, taking a deep breath and readying his mind. A shimmering bubble of bluish force appeared around the gunship as the screaming beam of æthereal energy smashed into it. Even beneath his helmet, Malleus could tell that there was an expression of intense concentration on the epistolary's face as he tried to counteract the effects of the bizarre weapon.

"Emperor help us!" Cyralius suddenly gasped. "It's put us into the warp!"

Malleus swore. Now they were in danger; in this realm of pure madness daemons would descend on them and tear them apart in minutes, even with Cyralius' considerable psychic talents aiding them. That would probably make them an even more visible target, in fact.

"Cyralius," Malleus said. "I need you to get us out of here."

"I…am…trying," Cyralius grunted. Even with his considerable powers, the struggle to keep the thunderhawk safe and bore a large enough hole into realspace for the gunship was become trying. "Just…a…"

He gasped for a moment and yelled in agony, convulsing in his harness before slumping forward. He wrenched his helmet off and spat a gobbet of thick blood onto the floor, before looking up at his captain, blood trailing over his skin from his nose and eyes.

"We're through, captain," he said weakly.

Malleus released a breath he didn't know he was holding.

"Thank the Emperor," he murmured, before remembering his priorities and asking; "Kurias, what's the situation?"

"We appear to be in the same system," Kurias answered, from the cockpit. "I can recognise Lodan Primus from here, but there's no sign of enemy forces, or Imperial ones."

"What?" Malleus asked. "But we were there less than a minute ago. That's impossible."

"Not necessarily, brother captain," Kullas said. Until now the forge priest had remained silent, but clearly he had something to say. "Due to chronologically ambiguous nature of the Warp, it is quite possible that we have been transported to a period of time after, or even before we were committed to engagement within the Lodan system."

"So you're saying we should be safe from greenskins for now, then?" Malleus asked.

"Affirmative," Kullas said. "It is highly unlikely we are in any danger."

"So what's the plan, sir?" Okeen asked.

"Good question, apothecary. Kurias, how far away are we from Lodan Prime?" Malleus said, reaching down to help the epistolary up.

"Just a few hundred kilometres, brother captain," Kurias replied. "We should be able to reach it in an hour or two."

"Excellent," Malleus said. "We'll go there; I'm pretty sure whatever time we're in the good citizens of Lodan Prime would be pleased to see Astartes. From there we can get passage to Polyphemus and return to our chapter, Emperor willing. Captain, set a course to Lodan Prime."

"Consider it done, sir," Kurias replied.

"Excellent," Malleus said. "I think, brothers, that it is safe to say that today, the day is not entirely lost."