The Testament of Cestus Fugato at the Second Battle of Cryptus18 Aug 2016 5
In the year 999.M41, Battlefleet Heavengate of the Blood Angels engaged a tendril of Hive Fleet Leviathan. During a decisive engagement, Astropath Juvenus of the Strike Escort Hainus’ Wings was taken with a fit and had to be physically restrained. Acolyte Ba’shemsul attended upon him and attested that, when the spasms abated, Juvenus began speaking in a voice not his own. Ba’shemsul faithfully transcribed as much as he could: this is the full account.
I... am a true son of the Emperor. I am a true son of the Emperor. I am Sergeant Cestus Fugato of Archangel company, a Blood Angel. During a boarding action near the Vitria system, my Terminator was disabled and I lay dying, crushed beneath its bulk, riddled with shrapnel and sundered by a great gash that had shattered my fused ribcage, stopped one of my hearts, and spilt my guts before me. After that, all I know is that blessed, honorable death was snatched from me and now I am, impossibly, a prisoner here in the heart of the beast.
I am bound, broken, or both and cannot so much as turn my head. All I can see is one of the repulsive, throbbing walls of their ships, some distance away, rising out of my field of vision with no end in sight. Small, scuttering Tyrranids of an unfamiliar type pass before me, carrying lumpy burdens. Several large, floating monsters hover around the periphery of my vision.
Hold, something approaches. I would call it a Hive Tyrant, but I have faced and killed a Tyrant, and this creature is different. Larger, with unusual markings and it's behavior is all wrong. It seems to be regarding me and… uhk…
S-sorcery! I see, I perceive the connections, the body, the Hive Fleet, traced out like lines of glittering spittle in the night. And their senses, like extra eyes budding uncontrollably atop my head… gravitational disturbances? Electromagnetic radiation? Something… like smell? Emperor's light preserve me, I shall go mad!
There, I smell it, foe, familiar. No, their foe, not mine… a fleet detachment, Astartes. Blood Angels, it must be, my brothers, bringing death--my death, my salvation. The Tyrranid fleet is larger, three massive Hive ships against two of our Battlebarges, with a slight edge in what we call cruisers, and they outnumber our escort vessels almost two to one.
Our battleships turn toward the heart of the swarm, cruisers and frigates paving the way, but the Xenos uncharacteristically hold back. One Hiveship advances, and another along moves to intercept a formation of frigates sent to flank the swarm, but the largest Hive ship and a flock of Kraken beasts, usually suicidal in their charges, stand still.
I feel the order go out, like a muscle contracting, and, as one, the Kraken vomit forth smaller spawn, propelling them toward our ships at great speed. The Hiveship and a wedge of Tyrranid cruisers do the same.
Their living torpedoes latch on to our frigates, boring through their hulls with their fangs and disgorging cargoes of Gaunts to kill crew and sabotage key systems. I witness, helpless as several craft explode, engines overloaded or desperate crew triggering self-destruct sequences, it matters not. Other spawn hurl themselves at our Thunderhawks, sacrificing themselves to crack open troop carriers full of my brethren.
The most unbalanced part of the fight tips in our favor at the fringe of the battlefield, as Astartes pilots evade bioplasma fire to shoot past the peripheral Hive ship and it’s swarm of support craft. Emboldened, a few frigates slip past a wedge of Tyrranid cruisers, closing with the Kraken swarm even as their companions detonate in the void, the victims of their living torpedoes’ murderous contents. One of our ships attempts a suicidal boarding action against a much larger cruiser: no Blood Angels survive the assault.
One of the Xenos’ cruisers has come within range of the Battlebarges’ thundering bombardment cannons and is instantly reduced to a gutted hulk, drifting rudderlessly. I feel the Bioplasma bulbs on a Hiveship strain and swell before expelling their payload. A Strike Cruiser, it’s hull already seared and bubbling from Pyro-acid fire, takes the brunt of it and vanishes into a flare of Warp energy.
My awareness of the great chamber where I am held prisoner has never vanished, just paled in importance. I notice that the strange Hive Tyrant is leaning close to me, mandibles twitching, it’s head cocked a little to the side in a horrid parody of human expression. My right hand instinctively convulses in my bolter’s trigger pattern. My good right arm… it is free, I can feel it. I have no weapon and cannot hope to deal real damage to the Tyrant, but I swing at it’s face anyway.
Nothing. I can feel my arm, but it is not there. A phantom limb. I feel tears streaking down my cheeks, and am consumed with shame. Never have I shown such weakness, not since since I was a Neophyte adjusting to the grafting in of my gene-seed organs. Worse, an emotion streams through my connection to the monster before me, something repulsively like pity. Invisible tethers are drawn taut and I am compelled to regard the network of connections between the Tyrant and the rest of the swarm, a thing like the wiring that corrects an array of servo skulls. Then my attention is forced to is something I had previously been spared, a higher level of connections, something like a superstratum above individual mind.
It is too much. I feel my throat convulsing in a scream I cannot hear, I am burning inside, I am dissolving... Sanguinus! Spare me! As quickly as the shattering awareness came, it is gone again. I still perceive something like a lattice, a multitude of connections that makes the Hive Tryrant’s mind only an extension, an organ, of the unspeakable consciousness above. In the void, another Tyrranid cruiser is reduced to a dead hulk, and a massive wave of living torpedoes encounters a cloud of flesh-cooking radiation and a chain of explosions rip through the squid-like vessels, frying them and their vicious cargo in an instant. My elation is dimmed by the calm dispassion in my captor’s mind.
I become intensely aware that my mind lacks the proper higher connections. The thought comes from the Tyrant but feels like my own. One with the beast, I perceive the pain reactions of a badly-damaged living ship, and they are irrelevant. Then attention is dragged to a single Tyrranid frigate, separated from its flock at the periphery of the battle. It is strategically insignificant, but it is in danger of drifting out of communication with it’s Hiveship, and that is… undesirable? unfortunate? sad? I don’t understand.
Escort ships destroyed, a Hiveship closes with one of our Battlebarges. With a psychic screech, a Cruiser flanks the proud vessel from the other side. Endless hordes, Tyrranid warriors of all sorts, pour out of both bioships. I feel them scuttle over the great vessel, tearing up turrets and bulkheads, before prying their way inside. The pride and discipline of the Blood Angels is insufficient, when bolters do not fire fast enough to slow the oncoming rush, when the bridge is already overrun, the shielding torn off the engines. I feel the disciplined counterattack of a Terminator company, one very like my own, scour the secondary bridge of Xenos, only to have the deck itself crumble beneath them into a pit of slashing boneswords, tearing claws, and cascading acid spewtum.
It is over all too soon, and my heart drops to see the gutted wreck adrift, small explosions still popping over it’s hull as the Tyrranids, their ranks barely thinned by the battle, flow back to their ships. The Tyrant’s mind registers only the slightest satisfaction, the ticking of a box. A sudden realization flares, and I cannot tell if it is my own or imposed: we know that death is nothing to the Tyrranid menace, but we failed to understand that their only fear is loneliness, disconnection.
The alien mind nudges mine, sending my consciousness an impossible distance away, to a world near the heart of the Imperium. I struggle and fail to identify it. There are tiny beacons there, tracking signals, nothing more. Genestealers. Theirs is the greatest sacrifice, to be beyond all communication, to be in community only with each other, a loneliness they are created not to understand, but that is no less terrible for their incomprehension. They can be saved only by the coming of the swarm, or else by death.
A memory of kneeling in devotion with my chapter cult streaks before my mind’s eye, then my vision returns to the battle. The corpse of our Battlebarge lumbers forward, it’s great engines gutter, go out… and it explodes, cataclysmically. Our other battleship is much too close, and is crippled by the blast. A far-flung formation of escorts flee to the Warp. I pray that they are not damned for their cowardice. Prayer feels worthless. There is no Primatch to relay my plea, no Emperor just above my mind to hear, no greater connection to give my actions meaning.
Massed Bioplasma fire destroys the only Blood Angel cruiser that remains in fighting trim, but the Tyrranid formation is caught in the backblast and torn apart, littering space with broken bones and cracked carapaces. In desperation or, perhaps taken by Black Rage, the Captain of the remaining Battlebarge plunges forward. A flight of Thunderbirds deploys to one Kraken and its Marines deal a fatal blow to the creature, purging it’s neural cluster with flamer fire.
I know it will happen next before I see it. Nutrient flow to the remaining Krakens’ generative organs ceases and, abandoning their standoff tactics, the rest of the swarm plows into the Battlebarge, latching onto its hull like so many lampreys, each disgorging the entirety of their living contents. Fully formed and embryonic fiends flood the battleship. At full strength, I know the Blood Angels could beat them back, but too many Marines are dead or crippled already, too much gear has been vented to the void or gone off like the firecrackers I lit every Emperor’s Day when I was a child on Baal Secundus.
The attached Kraken die when the Battlebarge goes up, and the blast deals a deathblow to our last, crippled cruiser. Only a single Blood Angel frigate remains on the field of battle… and how is it that I only now recognize the human mind on that ship? I feel the motion of your lips, the vibrations of your vocal cords… heed my words. We think the Tyrranids mindless, they are not. We think them blind devourers, they are not. They cannot be turned aside, cannot be thwarted, deflected, or distracted from their great crusade. They seek to save us from our loneliness, to redeem life from it’s own lack of purpose. They shall consume you and you will be reborn no longer lacking but animated by the higher mind… kkk…
At this point, Astropath Juvenus came out of his trance and lept up, knocking Adept Ba’shemsul over in his haste. He sprinted to the bridge of the Hanius’ Wings, and the escort entered the Warp shortly thereafter. Under interrogation, Captain Venato of the Hainus’ Wings swore that he gave the order to retreat without outside influence, and noted nothing remarkable about A save for his collapse and recovery. The Captain’s superiors intervened upon his behalf, citing his successful preservation of craft and crew in the face of impossible odds. Juvenus and Ba’shemsul were both executed for heresy.
This file is ordered sealed by Commander Dante, Chapter Master of the Blood Angels.