They’re Aboard – 3

This is the unofficial story of Reserve Imperial Guardsman Kye Cromp. When the defenders of the massive warship Honorable Action die to the boarding swarms of monsters, Kye’s journey to escape will bring him face-to-face with horror.

Start at the beginning.

The Third Hour

Kye hears distant gunshots and artillery as the squad tours through winding empty corridors. Rooms lie open, making them eerie without their crews. A handful of times they cross paths with a lonely servitor or two, but actual life is missing. Vox casts from the bridge are absent while their hand-vox turns to white noise. Stations still broadcasting only send cries for help or relay the ominous sound of chewing. After a final report that they were headed to the hangar rendezvous, the trooper carrying the device shuts it off as they creep down echoing passageways.

Kye and the others notice skittering in the vents and creaking through the walls. Not until the elevator concourse do they see their first killing since the gun decks. Creeping up to a traffic barrier, Kye watches the enemy. A group of creatures like large canines hunch over and gnaw on hapless servitors. The leader of the squad gestures to take aim without making a sound.

Kye shoots. In crimson light the aliens shriek. Pale flesh turns to black ash under the flashlights’ rays. Rifles crack the air with their report, echoing down through the concourse.

“Good work, guardsmen,” Boss says. “Give them a wide berth. Pedero,” she nods to the soldier next to Vox Boy, the one who’d shot into the fleeing crowds. “Find us an elevator to flight deck -”

“Come on! Through here!”

Human voices! Someone else alive! Past the elevators into the next junction. There appears a guardsman and then another and another.

More guns around Kye was the best option right now. “Hey!” He waves, but the other soldiers don’t look his way. They disappear through a bulkhead, the door clanking secure.

“Squad, catch up to them!” They listen to Boss, picking up in a light jog. They head past the rows of elevators but find only disappointment. The portal refuses to open.

“Even the machines are coy at this alien intrusion!” Boss slams a fist against the breach.

Kye thinks it likely the strangers helped themselves to a few seconds retreat into the confines of the ship. Not a bad idea, closing gates behind them as they go. Before Kye can make a suggestion to Boss she cocks her head. A slowly building ruckus catches up to Kye’s notice. Barking. Clicking. Lots of it. And getting faster. Louder.

Boss shoves Vox Boy. She breaks into a run back towards the elevator room. “Move move move! Get us a lift, any lift!”

Kye sprints on aching legs after her, going around the barrier she vaults over. They skip lift openings that get more and more bloodied as they hurry. Some alcoves include still recognizable bits of things once human. The large icons above are failing to mark an elevator to the hangar, their muster point.

“Where the Throne is it!?” says someone.

Kye is able to make out faint low-Gothic script. Narrowing his eyes, he sees it. “There! Over there!” he says and points and hears the baying filling the chamber. He takes a chance to look back to only regret it.

Seething masses of off-white fangs and claws jump, slither, and gallop after them out of the junction. Purple and magenta tongues lawl down at the far end of the concourse. More emerge from the wall’s service-ways, appearing closer every moment Kye gazes upon the nightmare scene. Tearing his eyes away, he runs harder than he ever can recall running before.

They slam their bodies on the hatch that’s their way out. Vox Boy busies himself at the controls. Kye kneels in a shallow pool of ichor, squeezing shot after shot into the wave of chitin barreling down on them. Some of the enemy pop, sizzle, fall, but not anywhere near enough. Kye clenches his sore teeth, squeezing one eye shut to aim through the iron divots of the lasgun. It’s a mad shooting gallery with the targets getting closer. He can make out the glow coming out of the inhuman eyes, count the spines on their backs, the beasts were so close. Boss orders discipline, just like the commissar. See how much that got him. What it was about to get them!

Curses from seemingly everyone level at Vox Boy while he tries to force an override of a lockdown. In a hiss, the hatches part and Vox Boy steps aside. Kye blows a final xeno skull open then is up and through. The squad piles in but not before a long quill slams Vox Boy into the crowd of them. A thing with too many pointed arms lashes out into the elevator cabin, only to vaporize under the glare of five different point-blank flashlights. Kye pulls the lever they’d all forgotten to trigger. Gears clank to get the barriers in place at too slow a pace. Kye helps blacken and semi-liquefy the edges of the frame as more monsters slide in front of the door.

Clunk. The lock is in place. Frustrated scratching dies away past the elevator’s departure.

“Come on,” Boss says, “we still… need… you.” She wriggles the quill out of Vox Boy’s communicator with little success.

Kye watches at the long, smooth length of the spine: hooks on one end, bulbous fleshy parts and limp tendrils on the other. The missile looks back at him, an eye flapping open to lock on Kye, causing such sincere revulsion that he chokes. Illuminated in red for a split second, Kye blasts the vile apparition away. This seems to do the trick in getting the barbs to retract, letting Boss yank the point out. She casts the bone aside and spits in disgust.

“God Emperor,” Vox Boy says, “you got it, all right, guardsman.” He slings his meltagun, popping out the cherry-red canister, its replacement striking home. “Glad to have you around!”

Boss shakes the communication device, finally laying it reverently in a corner. “We’ll make do with our last orders. The loss of the vox is a shame, but command will have more where we’re going. Reload, troopers. They’ll need us ready. Pedero, any other injuries?”

“No, sir,” another guardsman says. “It’s only -”

In a crash, the elevator compartment rocks under the force of something big falling onto it. Everyone hugs the walls, weapons up, searching, squinting into the harsh lamps. Another crash, this time accompanied by an animal’s yip of pain, lights flickering. A vent grill splits, a mangled, clawed paw with too many toes hanging through. Ooze drips down xeno flesh, permeating the space with an alien reek.

“Corporal, they’ve followed us!” someone says.

“Keep it cool, all of you. They aren’t surviving this fall.”

Vox Boy steps forward, meltagun hot. Kye shakes his head at him. Vox Boy pokes the intruder anyways. In a flash, broken fingers curl over the weapon’s casing. While the rest of the squad jumps, red lasers washes all other colors away for a moment. A screech peels past the now lifeless, limp appendage, swinging by the iota of tendon still holding it. Vox Boy grunts, igniting the last of the alien’s parts with a sizzling heatray. Sweat runs down Kye’s face as the air gets too hot.

Another impact on the other side of the ceiling. This one sounds wet, but that’s the end of it. New goo drips from the previous guest’s hole in the elevator.

Kye feels their ride begin to slow. Stopping, the gates remain shut, but Kye detects the crack of lasgun fire and the boom of bolter rounds. He glances around. By the looks on their faces, the rest of the squad knows what this means too.

“Well then,” says Boss, “we best get on with purging the rest of the hated aliens. You, you, and you,” she points to Kye, “up front. As soon as those doors open, shine a light on anything not on two legs. You two, cover the left side. You two, go right. You, seal the doors behind us. I’ll cover up the middle. On three…”

Kye shoulders his rifle. He grips tighter to show less of the shaking. His fearless leader puts a hand on the opening mechanisms.

“One. Two… Three!”

Continued in the fourth hour.

This unofficial work is published under the Intellectual Property Policy of Games Workshop Limited: https://www.games-workshop.com/en-US/Intellectual-Property-Policy

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