We left Grensvayl triumphant, but our celebration was tempered by the knowledge that the job was unfinished: the Patriarch was still out there somewhere, as were the forces that had brought him in the first place. Based on the symbol we found – and on the servitors’ attack on us in transit – we suspected the latter to be a heretical Mechanicus cult, using the decavane for some unknown purpose.
The locals, who thought their troubles were over, held a victory parade and a feast in our honour with many effusive speeches. For myself, I would’ve enjoyed it more if I wasn’t expecting a genestealer attack every moment – but then, it’s always good to be alert.
The Kaele was grateful for our deeds, but he understood better than the rest that Aurum’s peace was at an end. He asked if the genestealer infestation could be used as an excuse to maintain his planet’s isolation; we felt no need to explain the concept of Exterminatus to him, and so we said only that isolation was no longer an option. Life will change on Aurum, but I do not think their heritage will be altogether lost; I am sure the Guard will be able to raise at least one regiment here, carrying their warrior traditions to the stars. And a planet that can produce men like the Kaele may even contribute to the Astartes one day.
We sat in the great hall, along with the leaders of Aurum and the Imperial representatives. With so much of the leadership all gathered in one place, it was an obvious target for one last desperate strike – but when the genestealers did attack, it was so sudden that we were still surprised.
In through the doors and the roof burst perhaps a dozen purestrains, and at their head a monstrosity that could only be the Patriarch. They were coated in crude promethium; I suppose they’d been hiding deep in the promethium caves, or perhaps transported here in barrels by human servants.
Behind them, a swarm of obvious hybrids – and some of the local warriors showed their true colours, turning on their friends and us. This is particularly problematic; we’d suspected an infiltration here, and had done our best to uncover it, but neither our enquiries nor a screening program had turned up any hint of it.
The Patriarch and two of his company went straight for the Kaele, while others spread through the room keeping us tied up defending ourselves. Hrolfgar laid several low with a massive psychic blast that brought a rain of blood from the ceiling – I hope never to experience its like again. Although it wiped out the Patriarch’s escort, the Kaele’s two bodyguards fled, leaving him along against it. I was desperate to go to his aid – for all his skill, his primitive weapons were unable to pierce its touch hide – but I was occupied fighting off a wave of purestrains that went for us.
Adding to the confusion, the Patriarch was using its foul powers on my battle-brothers. From the corner of my eye I saw Ogur strike Sarlock before its hold on him was broken. Thorhammer and Hrolfgar had managed to kill the ones near them, leaving Krak’atoa unengaged, and he took the opportunity to spray the Patriarch with his flamer and ignite the promethium on its hide. I’m not sure it did the creature much harm, but it certainly made for an obvious target, and he followed up with rapid fire from his bolt gun.
The Patriarch must have seen him as a threat, and it took control of him, shooting at Thorhammer and Hrolfgar – but evidently his will was strong enough to put up some resistance, and all his shots went wide. I had thought to throw off his aim, perhaps by smearing food across his visor,
The Kaele was still standing against the Patriarch, and Thorhammer threw him a chainsword so that he’d have something more effective to use. By that stage we’d thinned out the horde considerably – Ogur, Sarlock, and myself in the thick of the hand-to-hand fighting – and my brothers were able to turn their attention to their master. Sarlock hosed down the Patriarch, and as it flinched, the Kaele tagged it with Thorhammer’s chainsword. That got its attention, and as it reared up to strike him down, it exposed itself. Thorhammer saw a clear shot and emptied most of a clip of Kraken rounds into its belly, and the Patriarch dropped like a stone.
With their master gone, the rest were easy pickings. There had been many casualties, but most of the Auran and Imperial leadership had survived, including Brigadier Heth and Alkedra.
The Kaele – unfamiliar with Astartes heavy weapons – believes he killed the Patriarch himself with the chainsword, and we saw no reason to disabuse him of this notion; for surviving so long against a Patriarch, he deserves his moment of triumph. (Not so his bodyguards, who I doubt will continue in that position.) Thorhammer has given him the chainsword as a token of respect, and I think it a fitting gesture.
With the Tyranid threat broken, our mission was at an end. There is work to be done here by both the Ordo Xenos and Ordo Hereticus, hunting out any remnants of the infection and of the cultists who brought it here, but that’s no job for the Astartes. And wherever the cultists have gone with the decavane, I suspect they’re no longer on Aurum.
All in all – not a complete success, but almost so. It’s been fascinating learning how the other Chapters fight (although in some cases I’m still trying to figure out WHY they fight that way) and we’ve brought a new planet into the Imperial fold.
I am the Emperor’s fury and his vengeance. I am the sword in the night. I am silent death to his foes.