‘Enigma’

the_black_templar_by_kingmong

Jequn stood motionless as the heavy metal ramp swung down, allowing the first shafts of the dawn light into the Thunderhawk’s darkened compartment. His helmet already locked into the mounting ring of his power armour, the sergeant watched as the atmosphere inside the ship exploded out into the freezing void, a cloud of ice crystals on an invisible breeze. The Black Templar’s wasted no time in deploying, rapidly disembarking and spreading out in pairs to secure the landing perimeter. Twenty armoured warriors crunched onto the red, gritty surface of Ar’zenda Minoris, a pitiful little world at the far edge of the Imperium. A dull rumble signified the Thunderhawk’s return to its standoff position in low orbit, the mighty engine’s roar muffled by the moon’s thin atmosphere.

A sea of blood red gravel stretched towards the horizon, punctuated by black vitreous rocks and a myriad of smaller craters. Jequn took his bearings and made a sweeping hand gesture, the black clad figures immediately splitting into four squads and fanning out, their objective the rim of the large crater ahead. They halted in its shadow as Jequn crawled up to the lip and scanned the mining station below.   The facility was ancient, and in need of maintenance, but there were no signs of recent damage. The dome was intact, exhaust gases still vented from the flues and the lights were still functioning. They may not be answering the fleets vox hails, but somebody was home.

Azra and Camae Squads took up their positions along the ridge, as Squad Hese circled around towards the rear. Once they were in position, Jequn and Squad Kusheil set off towards the compound. No sooner had they broken cover when shafts of blue lasgun fire licked through the air, brilliant flashes against the black of the airless sky. As the shafts of light gave away the defenders positions, so the squads at the craters rim responded, silencing the traitor’s fire with volleys of bolter shells. Explosions lit the shadows as the mass-reactive rounds found their marks, the contorted bodies of their enemies momentarily silhouetted before descending back into darkness.

As the supporting fire rained down upon the enemy positions, Jequn continued to lead squad Kusheil down the shallow slopes of the crater and on towards the Primary airlock. Two guards wearing antiquated exo-suits clumsily swung their lasguns to bear, the low gravity of the moon robbing them of any maneuverability.   A round from Jequns bolt pistol shattered the face plate of the first guard, his helmet disappearing in a mist of shattered glass and crystallised blood. A backhand slash of the chainsword in his other hand dispatched the second, his form crumpling around the bite of the blade in his midriff before slowly collapsing to the ground. The sense of weightlessness and clouds of frozen blood belied the difficulties of fighting in low G, but the marine’s power armour was more than capable of compensating. Unlike the traitors, whose suits were more suited to mining exploration than combat.

Jequn wasted no time in accessing the airlock, entering the override code and shepherding his squad into the inner chamber. The outer doors closed, and atmospheric gases began filling the chamber as the marines readied their frag grenades. As expected, once the inner door started to open a storm of lasgun fire scoured the blast doors. The explosion of the grenades, now deafening in comparison to the silence outside, forced the defenders to duck back behind their makeshift barricades. By the time they recovered, Squad Kusheil was amongst them.

The fight was brief but brutal, the marines taking a moment to cycle empty magazines from their bolt pistols and flick the viscera from their chainswords. They cautiously proceeded towards their objective, but no further resistance met them. The bodies of long dead Adepts littered the floor, their congealed blood and dismembered limbs used to daub bizarre symbols on the walls and floors of the corridor. The doorway to the central chamber was adorned with a grim archway of heads taken from the corpses, but the Black Templars took no heed as they proceeded inside. The excavation site beyond was relatively pristine, with no sign of the slaughter without.

At the dome’s centre, a large sarcophagus lay in the middle of a field of concentric stones, their surface covered in intricate alien scripture. Jequn approached and peered inside, the sarcophaguses lid lying in a shattered pile of stone to one side. They were too late. The tomb was empty. Whatever had been discovered within was long gone.

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