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Fighting Tiger Black Ops
Chapter 1 <> Chapter 2 <> Chapter 3 <> Chapter 4 <> Chapter 5 <> Chapter 6
Black Ops: Chapter 4
by James Arnold
Drawing his bolt pistol, the Ultramarine swung around hard to face the sound. He never had to bark the command, not even a single syllable, before the others in his squad had reacted. Wulfgang Heironimus has been a warrior for nearly two hundred years, and had the pleasure of serving alongside the men in his squad every step of the way. They were heavily decorated veterans of many bloody campaigns. As such, they had long since passed the point of needing to be given commands by voice. The air was filled with the clicks of bolters being drawn, safeties deactivated, the sheen of weapons unsheathed, and the soft hum of power weapon runes activating.
The man in blue was silent, stepping well clear of the Marines charged to protect him. The Marines stood rigid, their muscles tense and ready to react at the slightest disturbance. These beings were only half man, and the other half had just been unleashed. He knew from experience the best way to help was to get the hell out of the way. Still, assured as he was of his own safety, he couldn't help but feel that something about this situation was very wrong.
Herionimus stepped forward slowly, bolt pistol steady and pointed straight ahead. The others fanned out behind him, guarding the flanks. Bolters slowly trained across the darkened landscape. It was well after dark now, nothing visible to the naked eye save the blinding red of optical visors. At his right, the Captain could feel the presence of Arthur, his brother since day one. The massive Ultramarine hefted his bolter in one hand, waiting for even the slightest excuse to unload the first clip.
He did not have to wait long.
Exploding out of a ruined building, Ajay leapt straight for Arthur's throat. His twin lightning claws flashed forward, seeking the blood of his most hated enemy. His face shone in the moonlight with feral rage, howling with the voice of a madman. His voice was echoed behind him, the other Tigers roaring out of the darkness, guns blazing, weapons gleaming. They swarmed out as one, only meters away from the enemy, appearing seemingly from nowhere. Heironimus breathed a single word over the vox channel, saying what everyone else was thinking.
The back ranks dug in immediately and opened up on the approaching Tigers. Heironimus blocked an incoming Tiger's blade on his combat shield, throwing the Marine with his own momentum off into the darkness. He had barely bought his guard back up before another was on him, slashing for Heironimus' neck, missing by fractions of an inch. Arthur swung his power axe in a wide arc, sending a shower of sparks across the darkness as it collided with Ajay's claws. Hurling another opponent away, Heironimus stood back to back with Arthur, firing his bolt pistol into an oncoming Marine, sending the maniac spinning away with the explosive round.
For every furious attack the Tigers
launched, the Ultramarines countered perfectly, driving the Tigers back
for only a moment before the attack began anew. Shards of ceramite armor
littered the ground, stained with Marine blood. Herionmus knew they were
not going to win unless someone gave way, and he would be damned if he
let it be one of his own. He reached down for a moment and flipped the
activation rune on his gauntlet, feeling his arm surge with power.
Janhavi flipped up from where she had landed moments ago. Her head swam with pain and anger, amplified by the frustration of the fight. These men fought with a skill and discipline of amazing caliber. Every attack, every trick, every surprise was countered as though it was nothing more than a practice session. There were no chinks in the armor as far as she could see, but they had to have a commander; the Ultra's always did.
She charged into the fray again. Kamal and Hadin were trying to double-team a Marine who wielded a bolt pistol and chainsword. His movements were fast and unpredictable, using the superior reach of his chainsword to keep the brothers’ mono-molecular blades at bay. He evaded their counter attacks with a combination of precise bursts of pistol fire and split-second dodges.
It's like trying to kill a ghost, she thought.
Suddenly Janhavi spotted a pocket in the fray, and the commander had his back to her. His billowing red cape clearly bore the laurels of the Crux Terminatus, with a dozen other honors stitched into the cloth. Not even hesitating, Janhavi charged in for the death stroke. She never made it. As she closed in, a Marine materialized from her right, his axe head at her neck. Behind her, another Marine turned and placed the white-hot end of his bolter against her skull. Janhavi skidded to a halt, knowing that any movement would be the end of her.
The Axe of the Ultramar at Janhavi's neck, Honor Guard Arthur Heredict whispered over his external speaker in High Gothic. “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further.”
Janhavi's eyes widened. She could clearly see what occupied Heironimus. On her knees, left arm shattered, Dahanna struggled to lift her meltagun, but the Captain's massive boot pinned it down. She tried to get up, but shrieked as the butt of the Captain's gun came crashing into her skull. Heironimus reared up, lifting his mighty power fist. The Captain swung with a slow but steady attack, intent on shattering the body of the subdued Marine.
The psychic command resonated throughout the camp sending all the Marines to their knees. Heironmus fell off balance just in time. The side of the fist grazed Dahanna's shoulder pad, the ceramite exploding harmlessly where the minor impact occurred. She didn't even notice: the only thing she could even consider was the hellish buzzing in her head, as though it were full of jungle insects. The Marines, for all their training, could not help but scream as they clawed at their ears, trying to get away from the torturous sounds. Looking up from where he lay, Heironimus was shocked to see the face of a woman looking back at him. Even in the state of agony he was in, he managed to choke out the words, “What is this?”
Then, just as the agonizing sounds had come, they passed. For a moment, no one could move, only offer silent thanks to their gods for the mercy granted. Breathing a sigh of relief, the Marines weakly pushed themselves to their feet, the fight forgotten. They picked up their weapons, looking at each other with a sense of unease. The tense silence was broken by the man in blue.
“Please Captain, a moment of peace.”
At his command, Heironimus signaled to withdraw, slowly dragging the wounded or unconscious away. Standing apart, the two groups had a moment to study each other, the man in blue between them. He waited quietly until everyone was apart. He signaled Heironimus to step forward. Turning to the Tigers, he asked in perfect Vedic, “Your leader, please.”
The Tigers looked at this strange newcomer with suspicion.
“This is no trap. If I wanted you dead, your bodies would have been crushed hours ago. Your leader, please. This is how the Ultramarines negotiate a truce.”
Janhavi spat and said something in a language Captain Heironimus did not understand. He leaned over to the man in blue. “What did she say?” he whispered.
Never breaking eye contact with the Tigers, the man whispered back. “You don't want to know.”
“I thought as much.”
The man continued to speak with the Tiger for several minutes, sometimes very heatedly, before the Tiger eventually stood and walked towards the conference. The two leaders faced each other with intense eyes, a pair of angry giants separated only by the slight man between them.
“What the hell do you want here?” Janhavi hissed.
The man reached into his travelers satchel and pulled out a small medallion. It shone brilliantly, even in the barely illuminated jungle, a golden 'I' shape.
“Do you recognize this?”
Janhavi looked at the metallic object with a small flicker of recognition.
“This is called a Rosetta. It is the mark of the God Emperor's Inquisition. My name is Hector Belnades. I am an Inquisitor, Ordo Malleus. I am here because I have very good reason to believe this planet is under the threat of Chaos incursion.”
Hector gestured to the Captain and the Ultramarines. “These men have been granted to me by Marneus Calgar himself, and are my protectorates. We were searching out the source of the Chaos disturbance when you attacked us.”
Janhavi pointed a shaking finger at the Marines behind the Inquisitor. “You have no idea what they have done to us.”
Hector never flinched. “Actually, I do. However, despite any bad blood you two may share, you have violently interfered with Inquisitorial matters. I now have no choice but to induct you as well.”
Janhavi couldn't help but laugh. “Why shouldn't I kill you all here and now?”
Hector sighed quietly. “Because if I fail to make it back to my ship with a report of a successful mission, the Inquisition has sanctioned Exterminatus on this planet.”
Janhavi felt a wave of shock lurch over her. Something deep inside her felt as though it were about to snap. She began reaching for her blade, her eyes full of murderous intent. Hector stepped forward, placing a hand on Janhavi's shoulder pad.
“Please, think. I had to beg for the chance to come down here and save your planet. Your leaders have many enemies within the Ordo who feel your way of life is outright heresy. They were ready to bomb your planet to ashes without hesitation. I have studied your way of life and I know it is not so. I am here to help, but you must free your mind of the hatred you feel. Should you not, it will consume you from within.”
Janhavi felt the mind of Hector within her own, flushing away the anger she could no longer control on her own. It was suffocating, and Janhavi knew that it had sunk its teeth in deep. She never should have attacked the Ultramarines and she knew it. Revenge was important, but it was not worth risking the wrath of the Ultramar just for a few men's lives. Her vision was clearing, and she felt the peace of that hot day in Genja returning.
Turning to Heironimus, Hector spoke quietly, in a refined Imperial Gothic. “I believe they are ready to talk now.” Hector's relief was short lived.
Somewhere, far away, there was a mighty tremor, and with it, a sickening disturbance in the Warp. Hector felt it immediately, dropping to his knees, his eyes wide with horror. The Marines, whose bodies were reinforced against such effects, became lost in a sense of vertigo. Even the jungle seemed uneasy, its creatures becoming strangely silent. Then the tremor stopped. As they recovered, Heironimus knelt down and helped the Inquisitor to his feet.
Looking up from where she had been driven down to the ground for the second time, Janhavi saw the towering form of an Ultramarine. It was the same man who had held her life in hands Janhavi stood slowly, with the help of Arthur. Suddenly, she didn't care that an Ultramarine was helping her up, nor did she care that an Inquisitor was trying to induct her squad. Janhavi pointed to the northeast, saying something in Vedic. Heironimus looked at Hector, the question unspoken.
Hector wiped a trickle of blood away from the side of his mouth. His breathing came in short gasps. Never looking away from where Janhavi had pointed, Hector spoke in a ragged whisper.
Posted October 2006.
Used with permission.
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