Faith and Betrayal
Xerxes' Personal Log- Bastion's Fall
Xerxes felt a cold chill course through his body and the internal heaters in his carapace armor kicked in. Inside the Bastion, the Imperial ship’s various support systems were in a state of flux as the ship slowly broke apart. Power and life support systems flickered between on and offline with no warning and artificial gravity kicked on and off. If it wasn’t for the void-sealed carapace armor that Xerxes wore, the assassin would have quickly met an agonizing death.
Scanning the corridor with his Long Las, Xerxes detected nothing of alarm other than the background noise of the ship structure groaning and cracking as pieces of it broke apart. He didn’t know who had attacked the massive Imperial Navy Cruiser and more perplexing, Xerxes didn’t understand why his Cell of Inquisition Acolytes had been tasked with boarding the ship and retrieving the bridge records when Naval personnel were normally sent for such tasks.
Making their way to the bridge, the Acolytes found no survivors from the crew, and indeed the only survivors encountered were members of the ship’s hostile Gilliham population which surged from their disintegrating under deck homes to find more stable ground- attacking all who stood in their way. Already the Acolytes had dispatched a few roving bands of the under deck scum and as they approached the Bastion’s bridge, they were on the look-out for more. So close to their objective, now was not the time to become laxed.
The Tech-Priest Vern, conducted an override of the bridge’s sealed doors and he walk inside followed by the Ex-Guardsman “Red.” The group’s other Ex-Guardsman, Titus, stood watch on the corridor opposite of Xerxes, his Autogun panning for threats. Hopefully, it would not take Vern too long to download the ship’s records and once that was completed the team could make their exit.
Xerxes strained to listen at a sudden sound at the far end of his corridor. His hearing was still exceptional, but sometimes he heard ghost sounds- a phenomenon that started after his battle with a corrupted nobleman on Sepheris Secundus. Xerxes lost his right ear during the fight and Xerxes thought that perhaps the ghost sounds were the pains of his fractured ear crying out. He snapped back to attention, focusing on the task at hand- he had heard the sound again. Titus quickly glanced back at Xerxes in silent acknowledgement.
Suddenly they were there- a mob of Gilliham quickly making their way down Xerxes’ corridor. Their massive pale-skinned bodies were dressed in tattered and dirty clothing; some of them had bits of crude armor plating affixed to their clothes. Seeing Titus and Xerxes standing before the bridge doors, the Gilliham picked up their pace and a few of them screamed in some degraded form of Low Gothic that Xerxes couldn’t quite make out due to the loud stamping of feet.
Taking aim, Xerxes fired off a shot that burned a hole through the forehead of the lead Gilliham. Another shot followed and another Gilliham spun around from the strike to the shoulder before falling to the deck and getting trampled by his comrades in their rush. The Gilliham were closing fast and Xerxes knew they would be on him in seconds. In a practice fluid motion he slung his Long Las and drew his two Power Swords flicking on their power switches in the same movement. The blades hummed with energy and a faint energy field could be seen outlining their blades; one of the blades was of fine craftsmanship and its balance and edge were perfect- Xerxes should know because his lost ear was proof of that.
The first rank of Gilliham charged into Xerxes and the assassin easily side stepped their berserk blows and countered with several of his own. Arms and legs were lopped from bodies, screams of pain filled the air and blood began covering the deck floor. The Gilliham were not the skilled fighters that Xerxes was but their frenzied nature and their numbers started to take its toll on the assassin and it did not take long before Xerxes found himself completely surrounded by the mob. For every Gilliham that fell three more took their place and there were just too many to fight. Titus was lending Xerxes support with his Autogun, and even dispatch a couple with his Chainsword that got too close but this was a hopeless fight and they needed to get to the bridge to re-group and for an effective defensive line.
Nearly smothered by the pile of bodies, both dead and alive, Xerxes could feel blood wet inside his armor from the Gilliham attacks that had managed to pierce the weak points. He knew he had to get out of here. In desperation he hurled a frag grenade at the Gilliham between him and the bridge door and was rewarded with several of their number collapsing to the floor, their bodies shredding by the exploding shrapnel. Battering aside a flurry of incoming blows, Xerxes cooked off another grenade in the same direction and luckily this was enough to clear a pathway through the enemies. Titus had already fled through the bridge doors.
Fleeing into the bridge, Xerxes saw that his comrades had already taken cover positions behind the various consoles and cogitator stations and were laying down a firestorm on the incoming Gilliham. Vern was still downloading the ship’s records and Red stood at his side, guarding the Tech-Priest as he finished his work. Occasionally the Guardsman snapped off shots with his Bolt Pistol, the explosive shells hitting and disintegrating Gilliham bodies.
Taking a defensive position, Xerxes cut down two more of the mob and saw that Vern had finished his download. Hopefully it was not too late Xerxes thought as he looked towards the door to the bridge and saw yet more Gilliham pilling in- was there no end to their numbers?! He could hear Red’s voice on the Vox-caster calling to command telling them that the data had been retrieved, but stating that they would not be able to reach the extraction point.
The horde seemed endless and though the battle had only been going on for a few minutes, it seemed like hours had passed. All of the Acolytes had sustained injuries and some were near becoming incapacitated from their wounds. Suddenly the bridge’s massive view screen exploded in a shatter of plasteel glass and there was a rush as the ship’s air rushed out into the vacuum of space. Xerxes looked up and saw the familiar outline of their boarding shuttle hovering just outside the bridge. The shuttle opened up again with its twin-linked Autocannons and inside the bridge Gilliham bodies exploded and became paste and pieces of flesh. The massive firepower faltered the Gilliham attack for just a moment and the Acolytes quickly took advantage of the reprieve by running toward the bridge’s blow out window. There would only be one chance. They must leap through the void and into the shuttle’s open side hatch.
Xerxes ran as fast as he could, his battered body winching in pain with every step. Reaching the end of the command deck he leaped…