The Manta moved silently through the Atmosphere, into the waiting void, and the Kill-Team could see the enormity of what had come to Beseritor. Massive, mighty Kraken completed their languid orbits around the Hive Ship; spore ships waited to unleash another round of their deadly cargo; and the enormous Hive Ship, slap bang in the centre of the fleet, starting to gorge itself on the biomass being siphoned from Beseritor. With skilful flying, the Manta Spaceship manoeuvred past all these threats and entered the Hive Ship through a gigantic entrance.
Not wanting to land, for fear of alerting the Hive Mind to their presence, the Cargo Hold was opened and the Kill-Team and their Tau compatriots jumped down to the ground, which was a hard, flesh like substance, and then it was just them, and the void. After a long march, Brother Drakhaus managed to trace a psychic link to the centre of the ship, and the Astartes and Tau entered one of the capillary tunnels that led further into the Hive Ship. It was not difficult for Brother Drakhaus to realise there was a massive psychic presence nearby; it was more that it was difficult to pinpoint exactly, because it was everywhere.
The Strain started to tell, being this close to a massive psychic power, on the Space Marines. They found themselves getting distracted, things flitting across their vision… although the one who had it worse was Brother Drakhaus, who felt like the weight of the world was crushing down on his mind… it was much harder for him to access the Immaterium than usual. The Tau, not being psychic creatures, were unhindered by this problem and moved down the corridors with no trouble at all. Brother Drakhaus informed the Kill-Team that the Hive Mind was scanning the ship at irregular intervals.
As he told them this, he felt another intrusion into his mind, and he was not able to turn this one aside, so he knew that they had been detected, and he informed everyone to expect an attack. Soon enough, they began to hear chittering coming from the walls, and lots and lots of movement and then, when they were in the middle of about 8 exits, the Tyranids attacked. A Horde of Genestealers swarmed towards the Kill-Team and their Tau companions. They were met by a storm of bolter fire, flashes of promethium and the pulse fire from the Tau. However, this was not the only attack the Tyranids had planned.
As the Genestealers distracted their opponents, A group of Ravenors burst up into the midst of the Kill-Team, and the Tau, their rending claws, covered in a toxic mixture, tearing into the ranks of the Tau fire warriors. However, they also meant that the Genestealers could close on their opponents, and the entire encounter devolved into a horrific melee. Brother Curro, his power sword and Chainsword a swirling vortex of death, leapt into the Ravenors, cutting them down one after the other, whilst dodging most of their attacks.
Brothers Haakon and Elyes managed to take down another Ravenor between them, before being swarmed by Genestealers and borne down under their weight of numbers, their armour scored by hundreds of rending claws. Brother Drakhaus, his psychic fury undimmed by the shadow of the warp, directed his power into the Ravenor attacking him, and its smoking carcass dropped to the ground. Brother Calremus, realising the Genestealers were probably the most dangerous, directed shots of flame into their midst, sending numerous Xenos to the floor, screaming their last.
The Tau Fire Warriors, unsuited to close combat, were swarmed and torn apart under the claws of the Genestealers and Ravenors, whilst Commander Flamewing managed to fire his missile pods into the two Ravenors assailing him, blowing them back into the wall, whilst the stealth suits, unseen by the Tyranids, exacted a terrible toll on the Genestealer horde with their burst cannons. Slowly, the tide turned, with the Battle Brothers of the Deathwatch living up to their reputation as Xenos slayers, ably assisted by the Tau by their side.
When the Tyranids were finally destroyed, the Kill-Team took stock of their situation. Brother Elyes managed to heal most of the wounds they had taken, and the Tau, whilst they had lost their Fire Warrior support, they still had Commander Flamewing and his stealth suits, which they immediately set to scouting ahead of them. After gathering themselves again, the Kill-Team started moving forward, further into the heart of the Hive Ship.
Brother Drakhaus was suffering from being this close to the Hive Mind, but he still managed to deflect many of the scans that came their way, knowing what failing one of those would cause them to happen. However, he was not infallible, and the fatigue took its toll, and as they moved even closer to the centre of the hive ship, they were assailed, from above, by a horde of Gargoyles. One moment they were absent, the next they were flapping around their heads, firing their toxin sacs at random.
The Toxins managed to take down one of the Stealth suits, their venomous and acidic attacks melting through the Stealth suit, which became visible as it fell down, dead. The rest of the Battle was over shortly, the Gargoyles not being too much of a threat, with the Kill-Team taking down numerous Gargoyles with each attack, bolt shells blowing them out of the air, chainswords cutting them down, ably supported by Commander flamewings’ airburst launcher, which sowed chaos and destruction in their ranks.
Brother Drakhaus could feel the weight of the Hive Mind bearing down upon him, and he knew they were close, and that there was no point trying to deflect the psychic scans anymore, they were just too powerful. He was just about to inform the Kill-Team and their Tau allies that they had been detected when they turned into a massive chamber, and saw the object of their quest. The Hive Queen, massive bulk reaching all the way to the top of the gigantic chamber, tubes connecting it to the ship, feeding it the biomass from the planet below.
The Kill-Team could see that the Hive Queen was not a threat in herself, in that she was busy concentrating on subjugating Beseritor, and that was taking up most of her formidable willpower. However, she was not defenceless; A Hive Tyrant, known to the Kill-Team as a Dagon Overlord, was present, as was three tyrant guard, and upon seeing the Kill-Team, they started advancing towards them. Brother Haakon immediately started carving open an area of the floor to hide the Nuclear Warhead, and the rest of the Kill-Team started giving him time to complete this.
Brother Elyes immediately shot at one of the “feeding” tubes, and his bolter, obviously blessed by the emperor this time, managed to make a crack into the sides of it, something no mere boltgun should have been able to do. This immediately got the attention of the Dagon Overlord, who focused his obscene mental powers and blew Brother Elyes across the room like a ragdoll, his body hitting the side of the chamber with a sickening crack. The rest of the Kill-Team was appalled by the sheer power of the creature, but they were space marines, and they would complete what they came here to do.
Sustained fire from the rest of the Kill-Team, helped by Commander Flamewing and his stealth suits, managed to take down the tyrant guard before they could reach them, but Brother Haakon still needed time to fully arm the nuclear warhead before they could make their escape. Brother Curro, knowing they needed another few seconds, launched himself into close combat with the Dagon monster, his power sword cutting impressive gashes into the creature.
However, this was a Dagon Overlord, and it’s attacks were brutal… firstly it sent the Stealth Suits fleeing in terror from a Psychic Scream, which also badly affected the Kill-Teams cohesion, before setting about carving Brother Curro into little pieces, ending with Brother Curro being flung into the ground at the Dagon Overlords’ feet, surely dead. However, this had given Brother Haakon enough time to set the warhead, and the marines managed to recover their fallen and started making a fighting retreat towards the Tau Manta Spaceship.
As they made their way through the ship, they could see the Dagon Overlord gaining on them, although they managed to knock it back with some grenades and bitter holding actions, but they could see the hordes of Tyranids coming in from behind it, gaining on them. As the Genestealers were about to catch onto them, carrying their Battle Brothers as they were, the two stealth suits opened fire and managed to drive the Genestealers back, giving the Battle Brothers a moments respite.
Commander Flamewing, hefting his plasma rifle in respect, informed the Kill-Team that the Tau would hold this line for as long as necessary, to give the Kill-Team time to escape. The Kill-Team, understanding sacrifice, even from a xenos, raised their weapons in respect as well, and then moved away… hearing the sound of explosions and plasma fire for a long time before everything went silent. They moved through the silent tunnels of the Hive Ship, until they could see the opening, and the Tau Spacecraft opened its hold to receive them.
Then, like a nightmare, Ravenors burst up at the exit of the hive ship, and the Dagon Overlord came on like a nightmare from behind them, his psychic power hitting Brother Haakon in the back like a freight train, sending him face down on the floor, unmoving. Brother Drakhaus, screaming at the insanity of it all, drew his own psychic power and blew the Ravenors into the void. Brother Calremus and Drakhaus, the only two left standing, threw their Battle Brothers into the void towards the open hold, before leaping out after them.
Amazingly accurate fire from the Tau Ship managed to keep them safe until they had reached the Manta, and just as they were about to tell the Tau to seal up the ship, Commander Flamewing, having lost an arm, and with many other wounds on his Battlesuit, blew through the Tyranids, his jetpack going past the safe point, and flew into the Manta, smashing into one of the walls and then laying still The Tau quickly gathered up their fallen Commander and took him to one of their medical stations, and the Manta quickly stealthed itself and moved away.
The Tyranid ships searched high and low for the Tau ship, but the cloaking technology was just too good, and so the Battle Brothers, for they had all survived, miraculously, were on hand to see the explosion at the centre of the Hive Ship, and the immediate effect it had on the ships in orbit. And then, the sight that the Battle Brothers thought they would never see, the Imperial Fleet arrived and started blowing through the confused Ranks of the Tyranids, and the last thing the Battle Brothers saw as they went back into the atmosphere of Beseritor was the Hive Ship being systematically blown apart.
As they moved towards Hive Primus, the Kill-Team could see the almost numberless swarms of the Tyranids, but without the guiding will of the Hive Mind, they were reverting back to their natural behaviours and turning on each other… the swarm was paralysed and would be easy pickings for the imperial guard. When they returned to the hive, and after wishing the Tau well as they left, they learnt that the entire lower hive had been lost, with the troops having been reduced to about 25% strength.
However, the Tyranids were no longer a military threat, there was a lot of infighting and the shadow of the hive mind had gone, so the astropathic communications were now getting through. The fight was not over, but the war had been won, it was all about cleaning the Tyranid infestation off the planet, rather than survival. The Kill-Team gathered with the imperial Commanders of Beseritor and watched the explosions in Orbit, as the Imperial Fleet took apart the Tyranid fleet with extreme prejudice.