The Sequel to my Warhammer 40000/Mass Effect crossover, Hammerhand (found at .net/s/6718220/1/Hammerhand)
The Mass Effect universe is property of Bioware, while the Warhammer 40,000 universe is property of Games Workshop. All original characters are my property, but may be used provided I give permission
[u]Angels of the Storm
The great blast doors of the bunker had been sealed for the last time. Its masters had been prepared for it for a long while now, seeing the arrival of the Almarach Ikmrin, the devastation the dread machines had caused. Their fleets had been scattered, their armies destroyed; even the mighty Yamzarat Machtoro, despite felling many thousands of their soldiers, even some of the master machines themselves, had finally been defeated. He lay below, in the heart of the bunker, their technicians already healing his wounds, in preparation for him being found once more.
Akmon Ilmar, Lord Mechanist of the bunker, shook his head sadly as the blast doors rumbled close, unconciously flicking back ears in agitation and grief. There was a faint booming from above as the charges set detonated and the mountain they were hidden in collapsed on top, sealing them in. Now, hundreds of metres beneath the ground, they were undetectable. They were also inextricably trapped.
"It is done," Ivris remarked next to him, looking up at the doors. "The last of the Askriit die below the ground in concrete corridors, hiding from the Almarach Ikmrin in our bunker."
"I'd rather make preparations for the future than simply die without any reason," Akmon said. "As much as Yamazarat Machtoro rails and roars about honour and glory, I have always believed in common sense."
"You are right," Ivris said. "It just pains me to have it end this way. I wanted to die beneath the sky, or in void, not with a mountain over my head. I've always hated closed spaces, you know that."
Akmon took Ivris' hand in his, four fingers intertwining, and he gave it a reassuring squeeze.
"I know, my dear," he said gently. "But the Lord Geneticist informed me that they released the Descendants but a few hours ago. Provided they survive, our genetic heritage will live on, at least."
"So now what do we do?" she asked.
"We have supplies enough to last us many years," Akmon said. "And our Porgramat Fusion Engines should last many aeons, long after we are gone. We shall repair Yamzarat Machtoro as well as we can, and once we have done we shall place him in Biotic stasis so that he may be found again intact."
"Let us hope that somebody does find him," Ivris said.
"I know someone shall," Akmon said. "Even if the Descendant Project does not work, there will be others. We shall just hope they find him and the Archives before the Almarach Ikmrin do."
This time, it was Ivris' turn to squeeze his hand, and Akmon saw that she was crying quietly, tears leaking from her eyes, before he took her in an embrace and held her there. No words were said, and none were needed. There would be no hope for them, they knew. As a species, and as individuals, they were doomed. But they knew that if the Descendant Project worked, if Yamzarat Machtoro lived, then there was hope.
And deep in the bowels of their bunker, with technicians moving about his injured form, his mind inactive to allow them to work, Yamzarat Machtoro slept, and dreamed of vengeance.
Today was the third day that the Old Faithful had been waiting at the relay. The black painted ship, a former Turian patrol cruiser before it had been repatriated, had been staking the relay out on a rumour, but so far it had remained silent. And for the crew of the vessel, such a thing was beginning to chafe.
Alrack lit another cigar, the third one this day, coarse smoke from the cheap narcotic curling upwards around the ceiling of Old Faithful's bridge. The Batarian was beginning to become nervous of his crew, though he wouldn't let them show that, worrying that if their promised prey wasn't going to turn up, the crew of his vessel, always prone to a case of itchy trigger fingers, might have enough and turn upon him.
"Polias, are you sure that they were taking the haul through this relay?" he asked the Turian standing at the navigational console of the ship.
"I'm sure, boss," Polias said. "Believe me, that human I talked to was more than happy to tell me all about the route he and his ship was taking after I'd got him a few drinks. Damn typical of them; bit of booze and they're your best pals. Too easy."
"For the last time, if he's pissed he's probably got it wrong," a human over at the gunnery consoles said. "Anyway, Turians ain't much better drunk, so shut your damn mouth."
"You wanna say that again, Andy?" Polias asked, glaring at his colleague, quills bristling in anger at the insult.
"Yeah, alright," Andy retorted. "Shut your damn mouth, beaky."
"Both of you, shut up," Alrack ordered. "This had better not be a wild Pyjak chase, Polias, or I'll have Garnt toss you out the airlock."
"I'm telling you boss, it isn't," Polias protested. "It's prototype weapons tech we're talking about here; think how much the big mercenary companies would be willing to pay for that. We'd be rich."
"And if it doesn't appear, then we'll have wasted our time," Alrack replied. "Damnit, sometimes I wonder why I even keep you around, Polias; you've got us chasing some rumour a drunk told you. We're staking out the relay for some backwater Human colony in the hope it's a transit route for this tech. This is what we've been reduced to. Damn Aria and her chucking me off Omega. [i]Me[/i], of all people. One of the most respected pirates in the entire Terminus systems, and yet as soon as I'm a threat to her business, I'm gone."
He took another puff on his cigar, closing his four eyes as he savoured the harsh taste of the smoke.
"It'll be worth it boss, trust me," Polias said.
Alrack just grunted.
"Nah, trust me, there is. I swear. Hell, we could use that stuff, show that bitch Aria what it means to push us around. That'd be cool, yeah?"
"You know what your problem is, Polias?" Alrack asked, nonchalantly drawing his pistol and twirling it on his finger. "You don't know when to shut up."
"Just don't do it again, or I'll blast your brains across that damn console."
Alrack took another puff of his cigar, kneading his forehead in his gnarled hands.
"I'm surrounded by idiots," he muttered. "Idiots!"
An uncomfortable silence fell across the bridge of the Old Faithful, the crew remaining quiet for fear of drawing their captain's attention. Alrack dropped the now burned away tip of his cigar into the small ashtray next to him, glowering at the crew below him.
"You know what," he said. "Forget it."
"What?" Polias protested. "Boss, I swear-"
In reply, Alrack pulled his pistol and snapped off a shot. It impacted the Turian in the back of his skull, snapping the unfortunate alien round with a spray of cyan blood before he collapsed on the console.
"I said you talk too much, Polias," Alrack snarled. "Andy, you know how to navigate."
"That's right, boss," Andy said.
"That wasn't a question," Alrack said. "We're going."
"The Ilium-Citadel run," Alrack said. "All the best shipping's there. We'll get ourselves a couple of merchant vessels, steal everything they have, and then sell it and the crews on."
"On it, boss," Andy said.
"Wait a moment," a more nasal voice said from the far side of the bridge, Kedraon said, the Salarian's fingers dancing over his console. "The scanners say the Relay's just lit up."
"What? Get a fix on it."
"Doing it," Kedraon replied. "There's a ship through. Give me a minute, I can get the details. This could be our target."
He tapped a few more buttons, before he frowned.
"That's not right. There must be something wrong with the scanners."
"What's gone wrong with this hunk of rust now?" Alrack growled.
"It's saying the ship coming through is big," Kedraon answered. "Way bigger than it should be."
"What, a dreadnought? If it's a damn dreadnought then we're getting out of here. No way we can deal with something like that."
"No, even bigger," Kedraon said, worry on his voice. "Two-K, at least."
"What? Nothing can be that big. Try the scanners again, they've probably glitched," Alrack ordered.
"I…I just did," Kedraon said. "Oh…oh vastah!"
"There's a fleet! A whole fleet of these things! There must be, must a thousand! Oh my God. We're doomed. I knew I shouldn't have taken this job, I knew it!"
Alrack fired his pistol for the second time that day, the round thudding into the wall above Kedraon's head, the Salarian yelping in terror.
"Keep your damn mouth shut," he growled. "We're going around the fleet, and we'll keep quiet. If they notice, we play nice, understand. Keep it low power and the stealth systems engaged."
The crew moved to their stations, the realisation of danger being close spurring them into action, and the ship turned on the spot, powering away from the fleet, curving around it towards the system's Mass Relay.
"They're moving to an interception course," Kedraon warned. "Shall I try and talk to them?"
"Do it," Alrack said.
"Attention unidentified ships, this is the SSV Old Faithful. Do not shoot, we are a friendly vessel. Repeat, do not shoot."
He waited for a moment, before he said, "They're not replying."
Hurriedly, Kedraon repeated the message. In reply, the lights in the Old Faithful suddenly jolted out, before powering back on, and a voice as deep and foreboding as the oceans themselves rumbled across the intercom.
[b]Your pleas for help shall do nothing. We are your doom; nothing you say shall save you.[/b]
For a moment, Old Faithful's crew froze, before Alrack roared; "Full power to the engines, you idiots! We're being attacked. Don't just stand there, do something."
"There's heat buildup in the fleet!" Kedraon warned, panic on the Salarian's voice once more. "They're going to fire!"
"Keep moving!" Alrack yelled. "Come on, we're one of the fastest ships in the Terminus, we can outmanoeuvre these things!"
"What about the shields?" Andy asked.
"Forget them, they've got too much firepower," Alrack said. "Shields'll be useless even if we stick all power on them."
Andy nodded, hurriedly diverting power from the Old Faithful's Mass Drivers to the engine drives.
"This is your work, isn't it Aria?" Alrack muttered angrily. "How the hell did you manage to get friends [i]this[/i] rich? You want me dead so bad. Hah! Bet you had to call in a few fa-"
His tirade never finished. As one, the fleet fired, lances of crimson energy spearing from great ships. Old Faithful's speed did not spare it, and what little shielding it had active was punched through right away. It simply disintegrated into nothing, crew reduced to less than ash by the great weapons. No debris was left, such was their terrifying power, and the immense fleet turned away.
The Reapers had not come here to deal with mere freebooters. No, what the Reapers were interested in was the planet that lay before them, helplessly unaware of their presence. It was time to send a message to the creature that thought it could defy their might, one he could not ignore.
As one, the Reaper fleet descended upon New London.
James Lien was, at this moment in time, a happy man. In fact, he had spent the last few weeks of his life a very happy man indeed. For an individual who had, not too long ago, survived a Collector attack, this seemed a strange thing indeed, but he had his reasons. Mainly, because of the Alliance and their wonderfully inefficient bureaucracy; he should have, by all rights, been recalled by now, now that the Collectors had been identified as a threat and that they had been driven off, but so far he had been given no word, and he was content to simply stay on the small colony and enjoy his reputation as a hero. True, when the Collectors had arrived all he had done was yell at people to get indoors and then let Cyralius and his friends actually do the work, but with the Astartes gone the very next day, the people needed somebody to thank, and he was perfectly willing to oblige.
He leant back in his chair, taking a sip from his coffee as he watched the Rugby finals between Bekenstein RC and Earth United, grinning in support of the Bekenstein boys. Hopefully the lads from his homeworld would bring home the Six Planets Cup, but even if they didn't he was happy to enjoy the match; so far it had been a good one. Pity he was on duty; a can of beer would be perfect right now.
"Come on, catch it!" he yelled at the holo-screen as Robert Ashton reached up to grab the ball arcing gracefully towards him. "Go on, go on! YEEEES!"
He punched the air triumphantly, nearly spilling his drink over his hands as Ashton booted it across the touchline, while the commentator screamed into his microphone in celebration along with the rest of the crowd.
There was a rumbling from outside, and James glanced out of the window to see dark clouds gathering, and frowned. A few other people were gathered outside as well, looking up at the sky in confusion.
"What the hell is this?" James asked as he stepped outside, rugby game abandoned for curiosity. "I thought we only got storms in the winter."
"Same here," one of the other colonists next to him remarked. "Came on suddenly."
For almost a minute, the crowd watched as they sky boiled, confusion written across their features, before great finger suddenly broke the clouds, more following with it. Across the sky, immense hands seemed to reach downwards towards the ground. Lightning crackled around them as their sheer mass disrupted the atmosphere, and soon great onyx hulls slid into view, moving groundwards with a regal grace.
People screamed and ran, and James hurried into his office, grabbing his old service rifle from its place by his desk, sprinting back outside.
"Get indoors!" he ordered. "Go! Quickly!"
Azure sparks seemed to drift from the hull of the great ships as they proceeded downwards, resolving themselves into sleek, dark craft that seemed to be miniature versions of their masters, their speed greater as they reached the ground, surrounding the colony in a great cordon.
Beams of red light lanced from some of the ships, obliterating the buildings at the edges the colony, the ground splitting and rupturing beneath the impact of the weapons. Flames sprang up from them, vomiting black smoke upwards into they sky, and they began to spread, clinging onto buildings, herding the panicked people of New London into the centre of their small colony.
And from the flames, great figures strode. Their bulky figures were armoured in plates of overlapping onyx armour, shielding rippling as they repelled the flames with ease. Black visors covered their faces, and in their hands they carried immense weapons. James gave a yell and opened fire with his rifle. Most of his rounds sparked off the shields that covered the creatures, and as one they turned on him, striding forwards with a horrifying calm.
One got close to him, and James managed to empty an entire magazine into its armoured chest, enough to cause its shields to wink out, before an immense hand grabbed him by his neck.
"Known target," it said in a voice like a continent moving. "Taken from memories of Indoctrinated Astartes. This one shall leave the message."
"Get off me!" James managed to choke, kicking vigorously at its chest, but the creature ignored his struggles. Instead, it gently began to squeeze, and James began to feel his throat tighten, his vision beginning to fade in its implacable grip. He managed to choke out a curse, before the creature tightened its grip one last time, and darkness overtook him.
The black armoured creature dropped him upon the ground, and raised its rifle, hunting for colonists. It had to the Great Salvation to begin.
James Lien woke to the taste of ash his mouth. He groaned, sitting up and coughing, before hawking and spitting the taste away.
"Bloody hell," he muttered, rubbing his neck. With still bleary eyes, he looked around, before he saw what had happened. "Bloody hell!"
New London was a ruin. Its buildings were scorched and blackened by flame, some fallen in upon themselves, others simply burned out husks. An oppressive pall of smoke hung over the sky above him, turning the evening sky even dimmer, and the clouds overhead still roiled and crackled. Of the great machines, there was no sign.
"Hello!" he called, voice echoing around the empty buildings. "Hellooo!"
There was no reply, and James tried a few more times before giving up and shaking his head. He picked up his service rifle from where it lay in the dirt, in case more of those things were lying in wait for him, and limped to his office, rubbing his throat gingerly as he walked.
It was a mess, something having smashed his computer console to pieces. The holo-projector was hanging part-way off the wall, sparking occasionally, and his desk had been split in two.
"Oh, God," he groaned. "This can't be happening."
He limped round his desk, using it as a support, still feeling weak and giddy from his treatment at the hands of…whatever that thing was. He reached the far corner of his old office, and leant down on the floor there.
"You better not have found it, you bastards," he muttered, clicking the floor panel back. They hadn't. Along with a pistol and a bottle of whiskey, the short ranged emergency beacon was still intact.
He lifted it up, groaning as he did so, before placing it on the floor and dragging the heavy black box outside. He tapped a few buttons on its side, and it unfolded itself, an aerial sliding free. It wouldn't transmit far, only just throughout the system, but hopefully anything that passed through the Relay would pick it up.
His work done, James Lien leant back against the outer wall of his office, and prayed.