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Fighting Tiger Black Ops
Chapter 1 <> Chapter 2 <> Chapter 3 <> Chapter 4 <> Chapter 5 <> Chapter 6
Black Ops: Chapter 5
by James Arnold
The Tigers of Indra, Veteran Space Marines of the Fighting Tigers, were followed closely by a second group. Six hulking Space Marines, wearing the trademark blue armor of the Ultramarines, followed behind stoically with their bolters at the ready. Janhavi privately wondered if the Ultramarines’ vigilance was reserved for the Chaos followers they were stalking, or included her own squad as well. It seemed unfathomable that the two units would work together, given the history between their Chapters, were it not for the lone figure that walked between the two units. A short man, swathed in Imperial robes, Inquistor Hector Belnades was a powerfully built man and kept pace with the enhanced humans without seemingly much effort. Occasionally he would speak with Heironimus, the Ultramarine Captain, in an archaic language that Janhavi could not understand. Janhavi ignored them altogether and focused on the sounds of the jungle.
Considering the barrage of noises she had been facing in the last two days, Janhavi found the silence of the march to be more disturbing than relieving. It wasn't the quiet sigh of the jungle following a rainstorm, when the only sound was the drip-drip-drip of the canopy leaves shaking off the last remnants of raindrops, but the steely tension of the tiger’s muscle before it springs for attack.
It was nearing noon when the Inquisitor called for a break.
Having walked all through the night after two intense combats, even the Marines were ready for a moment to rest. Looking about, Janhavi felt the keen sensation of being watched. The hairs on her neck on end, she scanned the jungle silently, checking the bushes and the surrounding area for any of Veda's massive predators. But the jungle was still and revealed no threat. It was then that she realized her observer was right in front of her.
Clad in blue power armor, the massive warrior called Arthur stood motionless, the eyes of his helm facing her directly. His bolter was fixed rigidly in his palm, the other end chained to his wrist with a massive set of links. The power axe that had nearly taken her head clean off sat in its holster on his power pack.
Janhavi was about to object when Ajay slid in between them. The two titans stood perfectly still, facing one another. Ajay's nostrils flared with battle lust, his eyes betraying the intense effort he was expending in the name of holding back. Arthur remained unmoved, statue-like, waiting patiently. It wasn't until Captain Hieronimus stood next to him that he shifted his gaze. Putting a hand on the golden shoulder pad of his brother, Hieronimus nodded his head back towards the other Ultramarines. Together they turned and walked away. Ajay stood glaring at their backs until Janhavi tapped him on the shoulder and led him to where the rest of the unit rested.
Inquisitor Hector Belnades silently breathed out, feeling a wave of relief.
Though there were no words spoken, the early history of Veda had just been played out in a mere matter of minutes. He could sense the overwhelming curiosity of the Ultramarines, particularly Arthur, at the presence of a female Space Marine. It was a direct contradiction with one of the most basic tenets of the Astartes by which the men lived by; that they were in fact men.
Arthur was so confused by this that
he never realized how accusatory his attention had been. And, in the end,
he had threatened the Tigers with his curiosity. There was no way for him
to know that Vedics, while being a gracious and friendly people, were intensely
proud and couldn't stand such blatant, almost voyeuristic, behavior.
And so it was, that even after thousands of years the two Chapters had
never reconciled their differences, and Inquisitor Belnades suspected,
The afternoon sun filtered in through the tall trees of the jungle, the chatter of a million insects objecting to the mid-day heat filling the air. Translucent clouds of steam escaped the armor of the silent Ultramarines as they trudged on. Heironimus was getting edgy, feeling the uncertainty of the path ahead and the steely gaze of the Tigers. Hector could feel the Captain's unease building. He was about to speak to the group when he froze dead in his tracks.
The sudden stop took everyone by surprise. Janhavi skidded and half tripped, trying not to run over the Inquisitor. The Ultramarines readied their weapons and waited for instruction; the Tigers surveyed the jungle around them. Hector spoke quietly, his hand drifting down to the stone that hung from his neck, cradling it between his thumb and forefinger.
“The enemy is close.”
It wasn't until after five minutes of steady advance that the Tigers themselves became aware of the enemy’s presence. It wasn't the disturbed jungle fauna, the telltale song of birds that had been displaced, or even the sight of Chaos runes carved into the bark of banyan trees. It was the smell. The sick, hot smell of rot and decay. Janhavi choked back a gag at the fetid stench, signaling her Marines to pull on their re-breathers. They would be louder with the masks on, but it was the only was to avoid the feeling of nausea. Only Hector seemed immune to the effects of the miasma. He walked along just as naturally as ever, unconcerned with the overpowering odor.
Another ten minutes bought the party within visual range of the Chaos encampment. They spread out silently, surrounding the clearing, watching the cultists’ activities around the camp: some walked with a purpose, others simply insane and muttering to themselves as they staggered around in concentric circles. Hector reached up and grabbed Kamal with an unusually powerful hand. With a quick tug, he pulled the Space Marine down to his knees. Surprised as the Marine was at being physically controlled by someone so small, he was even more surprised when a bolter round whizzed over his head.
Hector looked at Kamal's stunned face with a smile. He spoke in perfect Vedic.
“It would seem that we are expected.”
The Chaos Marine spat from one of his three mouths. He again raised his bolter and sent a torrent of explosive shells toward the party from where he had been laying in wait. The other Chaos Marines did likewise, cutting the jungle to shreds in a matter of seconds. Whole trees came crashing down to the jungle floor, plants exploded in bursts of green and white. Rocks were pulverized to dust until the massive onslaught of gunfire had completely leveled the jungle where the loyalist Marines stood...
...or at least, where they had once been standing.
The Chaos Marines stopped firing and looked at the sizable clearing they had just created. The destruction was absolute, save for one thing. No mangled corpses, no severed limbs, not so much as a drop of blood as far as their tainted eyes could see.
The rocky outcrop they had chosen to occupy overlooked the camp far below, as well as the surrounding jungle. Twenty Chaos Marines, several toting heavy bolters, stood and searched for a sign of the enemy, a sound, a twitching branch, a glint of steel in the afternoon sun, anything.
Their sign came to them traveling over 300 miles per hour.
The mighty explosion of a krak missile
thundered overhead, sending the men to their knees. Several massive chunks
of rock were blown free, smashing three of the Chaos Marines into a bloody
Heironimus took a mighty leap as he fled from the position he had just fired from. Behind him, the jungle exploded in a new storm of Chaos fire. Hectors' telepathic voice, calm and reassuring, directed him.
Well done, Captain. Now run over the next two hills, until you come to a small dried-up creek bed. You may seek cover there until we are in place.
The lone Ultramarine sprinted over two massive hills as the Inquisitor had instructed. The Inquisitor had fled with the other Marines as soon as the fight had begun, working their way carefully around the camp. A missile launcher pressed into his hand, Heironimus had taken off in the opposite direction, a trio of bolter rounds nearly obliterating his shoulder pad. With the Inquisitor's psychic instructions, Heironimus had placed the missile exactly where it needed to go.
Diving into the dried creek bed, the Captain rolled as silently as he could to a stop, coming only inches short of crashing into a nearby tree trunk and betraying his position. Sliding his only other krak missile into the tube, he eased down, his thoughts calling to Hector: All right, now what?
I should think it simple, Captain. The enemy is well entrenched upon their pedestal. It would take days and lives to disgorge them from such a position, resources we cannot afford to spare. Therefore, we must bring them to us.
Heironimus leaned over a rock for support. In his viewfinder, he watched the targeting sight superimpose over the base of the outcrop.
Over to the left a little, Captain.
Heironimus couldn't help but smile
as he tilted ever so slightly left, and let the trigger slide gently back.
It was a slaughter.
The crumbling remains of the outcrop
served as a poor means of support for the astonished Chaos Marines. The
two-hundred foot drop was more than enough to send them into disarray.
While some were buried alive, nearly a dozen managed to crawl out from
the wreck, only to be viciously cut down by the combined assault of the
Ultramarines and Tigers. After a few minutes, they even began to dig the
remaining Chaos Marines free just to ensure they were also dead. The Cultists
fell quickly, their feeble defenses not even enough to slow the Marine
Standing high above the destruction, a lone figure watched his men being mercilessly butchered by the cursed servants of the False Emperor. He didn't mind the fact that his men were dead. He had spent centuries in the company of those fools and he was more than happy to see them go. They had heard the voices of course, but they hadn't been able to understand their true nature, only run around like obedient slaves. Only he had been able to decipher the truth, and it had spared him, just as it had so many times in the past. Smiling at his understanding, and his domination of the darkness, the Chaos Sorcerer slowly turned his massive power armored bulk to calmly walk away...
…and came face to face with Hector Belnades.
The Inquisitor stood motionless, his face set grimly as he stared at the massive sorcerer. The Chaos Marine's armor was a sickly pale green, covered in blasphemous runes that swirled and pulsated with an unholy light. In one hand was a jagged toothed axe, in the other a corrupted bolter. Hector held only his force weapon, humming with psychic energy, glowing a dull indigo in the blazing sun.
“Silnes, Corrupter of Vegna Four, Archdeacon of the Unholy Monastery of the Third Order, Subjugator of the Blessed Temple of Emperor's Ghostly Blessing. I am Hector Belnades of the Ordo Malleus, and your time outside the clutches of the Warp has come to an end.”
Shocked at the identification, the sorcerer swung at the Inquisitor’s chest, seeking to dig the rending blade into the smaller man’s exposed flesh. Hector stepped inside the arc of the attack, driving the hilt of his sword into the Marine’s visor. Silnes screamed in pain, ripping the helmet from his head, trying to clear the blood from his eyes. He swung wildly, with his other hand, attempting to keep the Inquisitor at bay.
Fueled by the pain of his shattered face, Silnes redoubled his attack. Even though Hector parried each strike, the force of the blows drove him back and to his knees until finally he was lying flat on his back. Cackling, the Chaos Sorcerer swung what he thought would be the killing blow. With perfect timing, the Inquisitor rolled to the left and struck upwards with his force sword, piercing the Sorcerer’s side.
Silnes' eyes grew wide, a yellowed pus began to leak out where tears should have been.
“Oh Gods, why have you forsaken your servant? Help me!” He cried out. But the Chaos gods, ever fickle in their benevolence, were not going to save him.
Silnes looked down at the Inquisitor, who was kneeling and pushing the sword further into the sorcerer’s side. “You think you have destroyed me,” he sneered and spat at Hector’s head. “I will return to the Warp and be remade.” He laughed.
Inquisitor Hector Belnades snatched the stone from around his neck and held it to the Chaos minion’s chest, which began to burn. Silnes stopped laughing as he was quickly engulfed in purging fire and looked with terror at the Inquisitor.
“Now you understand.”
Sheathing his blade and replacing the stone around his neck, Hector disbursed the ash that remained with his boot.
The mental link with Heironimus was faint after the psychic energy he expended to bring forth the Holocaust on Silnes, but the connection was there.
I don't know where you are, but
you had better come to the camp. You'll want to see this.
Posted April 2007.
Used with permission.
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