Drake Haust sat in the corner
of the inn swirling the last dregs of his drink in the bottom of his glass. The outer rim was a place where a smuggler like
him could sit down and relax. He was in a different segmentum from his normal base of opperations and was an unknown. NO one
was after him, the authorities didnt have him on record, no one cared who he was. Life was good.
Sitting back he looked
around. Perhaps he should leave the smuggling bussiness. He had saved up enough to set up somewhere and live out his days.
But that was unlikely to happen if he stayed in one place. You could never be sure somewhere was safe, what with daemons and
aliens and mutants. It was a dangerous time to live in. He sighed. Then again he could start up anew here. He had a few old
ships to use, and his personal craft. Still it would be a dangerous undertaking. The outer rim was a much nastier place. Instead
of Imperial scrutiny you had to wory about all sorts of aliens and pirats that harrassed ships sporadically.
was still deep in thought when the tiny bell and soft hiss of the opening door allerted him to the entrance of a stranger.
Without a thought he glanced into the reflection of his glass to watch the newcomer. The man was big, very big. He was shrouded
in a thick trench coat and was obviusly heavily armed. Several bionical implants could be seen already even in the poor visual
Drake was using. The stranger walked up to the bar and inquired about something to the bar man. Drakes heart skipped a beat
as the bar man pointed in his direction and the stranger came over.
"This seat taken?" The stranger asked, not waiting
for an answer before sitting down and looking Drake in the eye.
"I am here to purchase transport." The stranger said.
"I can pay whatever you need. The location and cargo to be detailed on departure."
Drake was totally off balance. Never
before had such an obtuse commision been offered to him. NO details of any kind, not even a meeting place for the briefing.
Clearly this cargo and destination were herretical and illegal in nature or the secrecy wouldent be so high.
the pay for this mystery job." Drake croaked trying to pull himself together.
The stranger took a credit box from his
coat and showed the front to Drake. The number blinking in red was unbelievable. He had never seen so much money for one job.
Even the most high stake runs he had made had not been for a quarter of that. Even then he only saw a fraction of the proffit.
He chocked for a moment and starred at the giant of a man. "I... *cough*... accept." He managed to get out.
you have made a wise decision." The stranger answered pushing a package into his hands. "Do not back down on us or you WILL
regret it." He continued in a deep threatening tone.
The stomp of boots and the hiss of the door told Drake the man
had left. But he was busy eyeing the package. Decideing he had no choice now and cursing his hasty answer he took the package
and headed to his room.
Once inside he began the task of securing the chamber. Sealing the door, setting up anti scrying
devices, sealing the room from intrusion of any kind and blocking it from any survailance.
When the task was done
he sat on his bead and oppened the package. Inside was a pile of papers detailing his mission. His eyes shot open when he
saw the destination and even wider when the cargo registered in his head. Flipping through the packet he found records and
data sheets, fake IDs and pass cards, credit slips and Affirmation codes.
The package fell from his grasp as he sat
there stunned. Out of the envelope fell a note he had not noticed before. On it was scratched a short set of simple instructions.
12:00 hours, 3rd dock Delta E4 hanger
Horrified he realized that was where his ship was docked. They already knew
the location of his craft.
"Oh man, by the emperror Im doomed." He muttered to himself falling backwards onto his
bed. He lay there for a long time before finally falling into a troubled sleep.
latter he awoke, sitting bolt upright he whipped the sweat from his brow. With cold clammy hands he patted his body to make
sure his visions of torture and pain were not true. After several long minutes his pulse returned to normal and he got up.
Looking at his time piece he saw that it was currently 6:00 hours. He still had time to prepare.
Gathering up the papers
he tucked them into their proper place. Assuring himself that nothing incriminating was not hidden away and that the documents
were in their assigned places. He went over each one several times, ensuring that he knew where each one was. When he was
done he set about gathering his equippment.
He laid his sword and bolt pistol on the bed and went to go get his cloths.
As he oppened his closset he fell back in utter shock. His normal clothing was on the floor, replaced by the uniform and armor
of an Imperial Pilot.
Staggering to his feet he looked at the fake ID again. Yes it said he was a leutenant officer
commisioned with the transport of certain articles. Shaking off the horror at his surpriseingly powerfull and mysterius employers
he dawned the uniform. Belting his pistol and sword he covered himself in a long cloak. Sattisfied that he could leave without
suspicion he exited his room taking his few possesions with him.
His first stop was the black market in the nearby
hive district. He was admitted with cautius guns pointed at him. He had not been there nearly long enough to be admitted easily.
He went over to the weopons specialist and picked up several items he had bought earlier. Not wanting to stay longer
than welcome he turned to the door but stopped as he had a thought. Approaching another of the underground merchants he took
a seat and tapped the man before him.
"No need to bother me child, I know your here." The old man said turning his
sightless eyes on the smuggler.
A shiver ran through him. Drake never liked dealing with psychers but he really needed
information. But before he cuold speak the man spoke again.
"You desire to know who your employers are dont you?" He
said cutting Drake off before he could begin.
"Well I um... well yes I do." Drake answered.
"That is dark knowledge,
knowledge that could send many men to their deaths at the hands of the grey giants." The old man said aloofly.
that much." Said Drake now getting slightly angry. Something about psychers disturbed him.
"No need for anger there
young one. Patience is a virtue you know." The psycher said with a dismissive wave. "They are lost champions of the Emperor."
stared suspiciusly. "Dont play games with me psycher who are they?"
"I told you." The psycher answered. "I can say
no more here."
"Very well, fine." Drake said dropping a handfull of coins into the mystics lap.
The old man said with a wave as Drake stomped out of the black market.
Just more questions, no anwers. He thought to
himself. Not a good day.
The time piece read 11:30 hours.
"Do you think
hes coming brother captain?" Asked Ryel.
"He has little choice in the matter." Sergeant Tael answered.
been a long trip but they had made it. Even better their cargo was safe. But now they had hit a dead end. The Grey Knights
were still hot on their tail and their transport had died on them. Stranded they needed a reliable pilot and fast. Figuring
that the smugglers would be the most appropriate choice they had hired a man to get them one. Now they could just hope he
Drake entered the hanger. He was early but he had nothing else to do. All his arrangements were done. There was
nothing else for him here. With a resigned shrug he squared his shoulders and marched down the causway toward the subsector
of the hanger where his ship was docked. As he passed a large shuttle his craft came into view. Stopping dead he worked hard
to supress a curse of rage. His ship, his beutifull, wonderfull ship was now bearing the sigils of the Imperial Navy and sporting
guns where he had welded in hidden compartments and extra engines.
"OH no what have they done now." He said to himself
walking up. A guard stopped him short.
"Name and bussiness." The guard said slapping his lasgun in his hand.
didnt reply, he just handed the guard his identification papers.
"Very well move on." The soldier said standing aside.
walked past the guards and up the ramp of his ship. The back bay door slid open enough to admit him and he strode in mouth
opening to demand what was going on when a bolter barrel was jammed in his face.
No less than fifteen giant space marines
towered over him. All armed, and all quite capable of killing a hundred of him without thought. Hands held up in defeat Drake
stepped away from the gun and watched as the marines parted to let one of their number through. The marine stopped and stared
down at Drake.
Tael leered at Drake fingering the hilt of his chainsword.
"I am sergeant Tael of the Ulti...
of no chapter." The marine said his voice angry and assertive.
"Drake Haust." Drake replied by way of an introduction.
"So you want passage through the Damocles Gulf."
is correct." Tael replied. "We will brief you en route. However until we are on our way you will ask no questins. Now get
"Understood." Drake replied stepping past the marines and walking into the cocpit of his ship.
was very proud of his ship. It was upon observation an Imperial Standard class lander. However it was much more than that.
Thanks to a miracle salvage he had recovered the engines of an Eldar craft. With quite allot of research through the black
markets he had discovered that the Eldar made use of a system of semi warp roads called collectively the web way. The engines
,carefully hidden in the hull, allowed him to make use of the Eldar roads. So far they had allowed him much faster travel
with a much smaller ship.
Out here though he had to be carefull. He had spent allot of money on scaners but still
the Dark Eldar were dangerous.
is The Emperors Hate hailing you. You are to alter your course immediately and dock. That is an order. Do not comply
and you will be fired on.+++
"By the Emperor thats not good." Drake said turning around he called into the cargo hold.
"We have a problem."
"What is it?" Tael asked in a gruff tone.
Drake replayed the message.
"DO not alter
your course. You must run the gauntlet." Tael replied.
"IF I dont?" Drake asked.
"You and I are worse than dead."
Tael shot back.
"Now that you put it that way." Drake said punching some buttons. Suddenly the ship lurched forward
and went rocketing along. Pannels on the side of the ship slid open and engines emmerged roaring to life. The ship shuddered
with the intencity of the accelaration.
+++This is your last warning, alter course and dock or be obliterated+++
Drake opened the comm.
+++Go to hell+++
The hail of fire that came at him was stunning to behold. Plasma cannons
fired, great bateries of cannons opened up, laser lances blasted forth and hit... nothing. The Mask was gone. It had simply
vanished. Then it was there again. Far closer to the Emperors Hate than before. The Mask vanished and appeared several times
in quick succesion, dissapearing as the weopons fire passed through the space the shuttle had occupied moments before, and
reapearing once the powerfull weopons fire paused.
+++By the Throne what is going on+++ The Emperors Hate radioed
The Mask appeared again behind the great crusser. Making a fast line to a warp entrance.
nice playing with you, but I have to go, bye+++ Drake radioed just before the Mask slipped into the webway right at the Warp
+++Impossible+++ The Emperors Hate messaged as its bateries halted.
On the bridge of the Emperors
Hate, Lord Inquisitor Rath sat musing angrily. How was that possible, what sorceries had those mutant marrines used to avoid
his fire? He could not find answers.
"My Lord, what are your orders?" Captain Udred of the Grey Knights 7th company
Meanwhile the Mask was making good headway along
the twisting maze of the webway. Thanks to the powerfull scanners of his ship he was on the right path. They would emmerge
in Tau space in less than 24 hours. He supposed an Eldar craft might go faster but his mastery of the engines was minimal
at best. For the meantime they were safe and on course.
coasted along through the webway with ease. The strange alien machines carrying the small craft at a good speed. Not for the
first time Drake marveled at the Eldars genius craftsmanship. How anyone could acomplish such a feat elluded him.
the back of the ship the Space Marines knelt in prayer. A silver adamantium canister sat in the middle of the group. It was
full of metal vials of some sort though he had no idea what they could be. All he knew was that whenever he asked a marine
about it he recieved glares and clenched fists. Reluctantly he had ceased his questions.
The uniform was uncomphortable
as Drake sat in the pilots chair. He was used to his comphortable coat. So it was that he was not paying as close attention
to the sensors as he should have.
Suddenly the shuttle rocked violently and the lights blinked off to be replaced
by the red immergency lights.
"OH shit." Drake cursed loudly pulling himself up straight in his chair and sweeping
his gaze over the sensors. A dozen Dark Eldar strike craft had come from nowhere and were bearing down on him.
the Emperor." he whispered gratefull for his ships shields and the absence of any large Eldar ships.
"What was that?"
Tael growled at him.
"Were under attack, strap yourselves in this is going to be bumpy." Drake replied taking his
own advice. With a snort the space marine sat down in the passenger seats and strapped in, his comrades doing likewise. The
chairs were abit small but worked nonetheless.
The Mask spun wildly as Drake tried desperately to lose the Dark Eldar.
He was lost as to where they could have come from, no large craft were anywhere nearby. He was still staring at his sensors
in confusion when his ship was jolted again. He looked up in frustration. Nothing had hit him. Then he realized he was no
longer in the webway. He had been thrown out through a tear. All around him a heated battle raged as Eldar and Dark Eldar
craft sped around in breathtaking dogfights and an innumerable number of projectiles rocketed through the void of space.
reflexes born of desperation he yanked his craft around in a jerky motion spinning it around the battling ships. "I hate running
gauntlets." He protested to himself.
A large Eldar warship loomed into view. He saw one of its starboard turrets turning
towards him. He could see the shot being fired in slow motion, the absolute certainty of his death hit him like a hammer freezing
him up. Then there was a massive exlosion infront of him. He watched wide eyed as the lance of energy slammed into a Dark
Eldar fighter as it sped past. Reeling from his luck he slammed his foot down sending the shuttle speeding out past the raging
battle and into open space. He was relieved when none of the battling craft bothered to follow him.
him as The Mask slid back into the webway and exited the range of pursuit.
planet below him was stunning. He imagined that was how Terra must have looked once, long, long ago.
take a look at this." Drake called back into the hold. Tael loomed in the doorway seconds latter peering out the vidscreen.
"We have arrived then?" He asked rhetorically.
"Ofcourse." Blake replied with a grin. "You doughted me?"
his head the burly marine turned around and walked back to his squad.
"Take us down outside one of the cities. We
will aproach on foot."
"Yes sir." He answered with a mokeing salute.
Drakes bravado died as he noticed something
on the edge of his view. Turning he saw a large Imperial battle barge coming towards them. The red light on the transmitter
blinked showing that he was being hailed.
"Um that cant be good." He said opening the comms channel.
we meet again.+++
It was the grey knights again. Somehow they had gotten there first.
"Damn, how fast can this
thing go?" Ryel raged his voice echoeing into the cabin through the open doorway.
+++You are lucky heretic. We are
giveing you the chance to give up without a fight. Few recieve this offer twice.+++
Rolling his eyes Drake just ignored
the comm and turned his attention to the planet.
+++What was my responce last time.+++ He shot back before zooming
off speeding as fast as he could go and still pushing faster.
Weopons fire blasted all around
The Mask as the Emperors Hate let loose everything she had. By the grace of the Emperor the Mask almost made it. But Drake
was not to be that lucky today. A starlight lance glanced the port engine sending a stream of icy chemicals and shards of
metal into space. With a groan he realized that would probably be enough.
The Mask careened out of control as it hit
the stratasphere. Rocked by intence heat and spiralling beyond control the shuttle rocketed towards the earth.
Haust simply sat in his seat, eyes closed, waiting for it to end. Then an idea came to him. Desperately he punched the ignition
for the reverse boosters. Then with the stall in the shuttles acceleration he activated the ships Eldar engines.
world vanished as the ship entered the webway, slowing down to a manageable speed drake watched as he neared the entrance
to the planets surface. Relluctantly he knew he couldent turn the ship around and had only this one chance. The Mask tore
through the gate into an extremely low altitude.
He could see a sprawling city pass beneath him as he sped into the
hills on its other side. He saw the line of trees riseing to meet him and closed his eyes.
marines pulled themselves from the ruined ship grumbling. Thanks to a last minute move by Drake they had survived the impact
but still the ship was damaged beyond repair. Tael felt a twinge at the loss of such a usefull vehicle.
A crash turned
Taels head and he saw one of his marines dragging Drake from the cocpit. The man was unconcious with a gash on his head but
Drake awoke to see a marine tending to his head. He felt the ice cold synthi flesh being sprayed
on his head. With a groan he sat up looking around. They were in a clearing made by the crashing shuttle. Pieces of his precious
ship lay scattered about. On both sides ran a clear blue stream. He saw Tael coming over to him and tried to dust himself
"We have made it intact it would seem." Tael said stating the obvious.
"Intact!" Drake scoffed. "Look at
"A lamentable loss but..." Tael trailed off as the sounds of gunfire filled the clearing. He watched as one
of his marines was ridled with thousands of tiny splinters of metal.
A roar of rage escaped the marine sergeant and
he ran off to rally his men. Drake stood up on shaky legs drawing his pistol he scampered after the marine decideing that
wherever he was would be the safest place.
The marines formed a ring shoulder to shoulder. In the middle stood a single
marine with a rocket launcher and Drake. All around them flitted the barbed forms of Dark Eldar raiders. The fight was a desperate
one at best. Bolter fire chattered and blasted around sending turf and folliage flying into the air as the shells ripped into
the surrounding forrest. One by one the marines were being picked off.
He watched as Ryel fell over clutching his
stomach as blood drenched his torso. Falling to his knees the marine turned to face Drake. Reaching out his left hand the
dying man thrust the adamantium canister into the smugglers hand.
"Pro...protect th... the geneseed." Ryel managed
to cough before falling still, never to rise again.
Drake held up the case horrified. GENESEED! So thats why the marines
were protecting it so much. There was enough genetic material in the case to create an entire chapter of marines. To bad they
probably wouldent leave the clearing alive.
Now there were but 10 marines. Roaring with rage they defiantly blasted
away. THe rockets and bolters were finally catching the Eldar as their cover was simply blasted away. Still they were outnumbered
at least two to one and the raiders werent falling fast enough. He felt clumbsy next to the marines as he fired his bolt pistol
at anything that moved. If he was to die he would do it fighting and with his wounds to the fore.
A roaring engine
turned every head in the clearing. From the other side of the glade a line of shiny blue armored alien warriors appeared.
Floating over their heads an odd Tank skimmed above the trees a massive gun leveled at the other tree line. Alongside it hovered
four giant mechanical warriors.
Wide eyed the marines dived out of the way as an unspeakable fury of firepower was
unleashed. When it was over there was no movement from the raiders position. Out of the forrest jumped a group of smaller
armored suits. They kicked the smoking corpses making sure they were dead. When finished their apparent leader raised his
gun in triumph.
A shadow fell over Drake. He looked up to see the massive form of one of the mechanical warriors.
This one was all silver instead of the blue on the rest of the aliens.
Fanning out the army surrounded the surviveing
marines who had reformed their circle.
Drake however still lay behind the piece of wreckage he had dived infront of
for cover. He was enthralled as he watched the silver machine open up revealing a seated warrior within. A hiss sounded as
a series of straps and needles withdrew and the warrior stood. Dropping to the ground the silver armored alien walked over
"Who are you Human?" It asked in perfect high gothic.
"Dra...Drake Haust." The smuggler managed coughing
to clear his throat.
"And who are YOU xeno?" Said sergeant Tael taking a step forward. The strange silver warrior shifted
his stance showing he was not unarmed. A long elegant combat knife could be seen on his back and a smaller weopon than the
rest of the infantry showed strapped to is back. Nevertheless the weopons were obviously deadly.
"My name is Shas'O
Ximoro'An of the Or'es Shi cadre." The silver warrior answered his gaze staring into that of the massive space marine.
you lead them?" Tael said nodding at the warriors surrounding his men.
"Indeed I do and I would have you tell me what
you are doing here Humans." O'AN shot back his patience thin.
"What does it have to do with you alien?" Tael said with
"A large number of... Space Marines has been attacking this planet for a week now. My order saved your lives
and I would know whether the decision was a good one." O'An replied his voice tinted with anger. The conversation looked more
like a battle of wills than anything.
"I am Sergeant Tael of a murdered chapter. We are hounded by our own kind and
seek refuge." Tael answered his voice lowering to a calm resignation.
Ximoro'AN reeled back in surprise. This was a
strange group of Gue'la indeed. "You wish to defect then?" He asked.
"That is correct." Tael said with a nod.
well." O'An said with a wave. He strode back to his suite and re-entered it. "Follow me."
had been several days since the traitor humans had arrived. Ximoro'An had been charged with watching them. He had learned
that they sought to rebuild their chapter with the geneseed contained in the canister the normal human carried. Their goal
was honest enough but he had noticed grey armored marines joining the fight. It seemed as though the defectees would not escape
Drake Haust stood on the balcony overlooking the city block below. His leg felt much better. Already he
and the traitor marines had fought beside the Tau in several battles. The war that raged was only begining though. He could
see the fighting raging in the outer city districts and on the hills surrounding the city. With a sigh he thought about the
turn of events in his life. He could no longer return to the Imperium, but he may just die here anyway.
he had a purpose, a goal in life. He served the greater good. Even if that seemed odd and stupid for a selfish smuggler, he
was content for the first time in his life. Truly content. Yes he would serve the greater good. He would help the marines
rebuild their chapter, and someday he might return to the Imperium with them. Carrying the word of the greater good to the
Imperium of Man. One day, he just might do that.
The End... or is it?