Tears of the Bitch
“Good morning gentlemen.”
The assembled humans, elves and so forth – senatorial oversight – and avatars of the fleet rose, nodding respectfully as the Emperor, accompanied by the Supreme Commander of the Fleet, entered the room. They sat in the two remaining seats at the long table, which covered most of the room, and the Emperor smiled, briefly. “Well then, this is the final review, no?”
“Yes sir,” said the closest of the avatars, a plain and subtly artificial looking, human female, the representative of the Imperial Flagship, “I believe we’ve come to a decision. As you are aware, Delta Zeta Four is currently occupied by a human colony of questionable origin, currently ruled over by an ‘empress’ who seems to rule with the fairly standard rod of iron. The current population is around one hundred million people, and we anticipate little capacity to resist us.
“It is the fleet’s recommendation that we annex this territory immediately. We have come up with several strategies focusing on initial decapitation strikes, combined with their lack of capability to strike at our orbital assets, I believe we can annex DZ four with minimal casualties on either side.”
The emperor nodded, “So, there’s little need to devote fleet assets to this?”
“No sir,” replied the ship, “Not really.”
Several hours later, the great shape of a scythe class ‘harvest ship’ Dusk of Time swung out of orbit, its bays filled with excess troops to enforce its will, accompanied by several escorts, and they set a course for the remote system, where, some time ago now, a scouting expedition had noted down a remote system to place under observation, and where soon, the troubled Imperial Province of Serita would be established.
The slim woman's voice was frosty, as always. "Leftenant Taggart, I've not seen much on the Eisenherz situation lately."
Her underling considers hemming and hawing but declines. "Guards Major Servalan, KG Leaves in Autumn has left some assets in the system before withdrawing, and the diplomatic team remains."
"The implicit question did not concern our assets, Leftenant. If you cannot answer it, get to work."
Such a delicious young Lieutenant... all flustered. Flustered, pretty boy.
The Iron Bitch
With a rumble like thunder the first Eisenherz orbital rocket left it's pad and reached for the stars.
'Such a simple ruse - I wouldn't have fell for it, even when a child...'
The Empress Katrina watched the rocket rise from it's pad in the eastern portion of the city. A section of the mammoth city that had been until recently the home of a growing religious cult. Her troops had isolated the quarter and killed every one they could find - except those that surrendered.
Hans Der Merli had surrendered when the black uniformed soldiers had stormed his tiny apartment in a East Quarter appartment block. Slamming him into the floor they had broken his nose while they had quickly and efficiently searched his apartment. His tiny room had revealed it's secrets quickly to the men who had simply smashed everything that could have hidden anything. Finally they had drug him out and down the stairs and leaving only shattered walls and furniture behind.
Battered and bleeding from being drug feet first down three flights of stairs and over the rough flags of the street outside he had laid quietly contempating his fate. Across the road he could see the heavy stone wall that was now pocked with holes and splashed with the blood of other suspected members of the Cult. The street was empty, and there was no noise other than the sound of machinery working on the Empress's latest monument to her own ego.
The building had been an apartment block but it was rapidly being transformed by the hard work of it's former tenants. The outer apartments were transformed into cells that were rapidly filled with cultists as the Iron Bitch's troops searched them out. Every day one was chosen at random and tied to the post in the center of the courtyard. The soldiers performed humiliating and mutilating degredations on them, ordering them to give up their worship of this false god or be destroyed.
Some did - others didn't. It didn't seem to matter. As the sun dropped below the horizon the captain in charge walked across the square with a pair of guards. As he reached the poor soul tied to the post the guards stepped forward and roughly turned their face toward the captain. The answer was either a grunt or a nod of the head. If the captain nodded towards the cells the soldiers freed the man, dressed his wounds, and placed him or her in a new cell.
If it was a grunt the beating was savage but quick. The body was left until the next morning when it was buried in a shallow grave in a corner of the courtyard.
Katrina rolled over in the bed to watch as her latest lover dressed.
He stood up from putting on his boots and faced her. Fear flashed in his eyes - he had not been given a choice on their relations in bed and while he had tried he feared he was not satisfying her appitites.
"How would you like a special assignment?"
He considered this - a 'special assignment' had gotten him into her bed. But refusing the Empress might earn him a direct assignment to a border patrol. The casualties were horrible - barely 1/2 survived a year.
"What are your Majesty's orders?"
The Captain felt as trapped as Hans Der Merli did. Both were staring out from a cell of sorts - Der Merli staring from behind the bars that looked onto the square where the rocket that Captain Horsen was commanding stood. Horsen had been given the chance to be the first to return to space and Der Merli was going to witness it from far too close.
The booster ignited and gas and flame raced across the courtyard towards the cells and their screaming occupants. Der Merli tried to scream but no one could hear it over the roar of the rocket. Flame seared his body and the blast tore his hands from the bars and threw him against the back of the cell. He couldn't breath and the hot gasses had burned his eyes horribly. Finally the roar subsided and he rolled onto the floor unconsious.
Horsen was no astronaut and he was definately no rocket scientist. He had been instructed in the experiments he was to perform in orbit but the details of the rocket itself escaped him. One of the more important details that had escaped him was how he was to return. The design didn't include a detachable capsule or a heat shield - he had been told the scientists would handle that part. In reality physics would handle that part - when his orbit decayed the rocket would plunge back to earth.
Katrina was mostly interested in whether he would survive until it did on his limited supplies of food and water. She had been quite tired of faking it.
The necron ships cautiously exited hyperspeed well outside the system, and began to slowly, very slowly, close with their target. Of course, they spent the time monitoring signals from DZ4. As they began to slow down for an orbital approach, they picked up the launch of a crude space vessel. In something much like the Zero One encypted cyberspace, they conversed at high speed.
<Escort, Jackal, Savage> Curious...
<Cruser, Scythe, Dusk o> What is?
<Savage> [Location Reference]
<Dusk o> You think they've detected us?
<Savage> No, but I'll target it if you want...
<Dusk o> No, leave it for now, we're trying to minimise casualties after all.
They moved forward under power, and began scanning, ignoring the effects of their prescence on the locals. They aimed to discover the key locations of city, telephone (and/or similar) exchanges, power stations, radio and television stations, and so on. Meanwhile, on the underside of the cruiser, dozens of modified monoliths, like drop pods or re-entry capsules, were prepared for firing. They would coast down through the atmosphere in plumes of flame, and land as close as possible to these key installations. After that they would open, spewing advance troops whose secondry weapons, nomally an inanely sharp axe, had been replaced with an underslung tranquiliser dart gun, an effort to reduce civillian casualties somewhat.
Meanwhile, the Necron Lord commanding the first few hundred to land waited by a portal, a guard of several squads of pariahs with him. He had some relatively special orders, to take the local ruler alive if possible. They weren't sure if it was possible, but they would try. He quickly ran his phase-shifter through a systems check, and wondered if a veil of darkness would have been more effective. Then he watched the view from the first monolith as it was launched towards the palace.
The Iron Bitch
The Iron Bitch
Atop various buildings scattered around the mega-city of Eisenherz telescopes were perched. Previously they had served to monitor the jungle for signs of approaching wildlife, but now they were all trained on the heavens as they watched the rocket begin to orbit. Instead of soldiers they were now manned by scientists, and so it was that the alert for the greatest struggle the city would see was sent out by a white jacketed lab rat.
"Captain! There is a ship up there - it is closing on our rocket!"
The captain didn't know much about space flight - though he would have been proud to pilot the rocket for his Majesty - but he did know protocal.
"Lieutenant! Signal the palace! Tell them there is a ship in orbit! Move aside - rocket be damned, I need to take a look..."
The captain shouldered the scientist aside and took his place at the eyepiece. Snatching up a pair of binoculars the scientist looked back to the heavens. His eyes fell on the ship just as it was sillouetted by the flare of the first monolith falling away.
"Captain - do you see that? It looks like a shuttle or transport of some kind..."
"Lieutenant - any word from the palace?"
"No Sir - they did not know about the ship and the duty Captain is informing her Majesty."
"Sound the sirens and inform all defense batteries - no invitation, no welcome!"
Throughout the city air raid sirens began to blare even as the monolith plunged down. The sweeps of the sensors picked up little because there was little to pick up. The phone system was primitive and limited to centralized stations scattered around - better to listen in on phone calls - and the radio network was a set of open frequencies that were used for central command, local command, and then troop level communications. Right now there was a lot of chatter and confusion on all three as too many people tried to transmit at once.
Television didn't exist - manufacturing facilities would be put to better use. There were however several power plants. A pair of wood and garbage burning plants cast a thick smog over the eastern and north-eastern portions of the city while a single fusion power plant seemed to be in operation deep under the palace. It was a relic from the colonisation ship - a simple model that needed little maintenance and had operating instructions that consisted mainly of 'add water regularly'.
"Who are they - the damned Pilonese again? I want them shot down..."
"We don't know yet your Majesty - we have not seen a similar ship before."
Katrina Eisenherz - The Iron Bitch - had stormed into the command center below the palace just moments before. Guests, especially uninvited ones, were not welcome on the occasion of her nation's glorious return to space. If it was the Pilonese they would pay - she had some special suprises for them.
"It appears they have dropped a shuttle or transport of some kind. It is heading for the palace..."
"What?! They dare... Fire on it as soon as it gets in range. Bring it down - and open radio communication with that ship. Tell them their men are lost and that they should call first next time!"
Katrina's Gift - or Git as some of the bolder men called them - were batteries of rockets built as part of the run up to the orbital rocket. They were crude and unguided - containing a large amount of explosive and a simple radio proximity detonator.
The batteries on the palace roof fired and sent a dozen of the primitive rockets careening wildly upward toward the rapidly falling monolith. Most 'missed' in the first moments as guidance fins failed or tore away and sent the rockets pinwheeling across the city or into the jungle. A few actually rose to meet the dropship and the aiming crew cheered their luck.
They were lucky to be alive really - the batteries had been aimed by a telescope attached to the launcher. This meant that the soldier aiming had to aim, push the button, and then run before his clothes caught on fire. Several tragic accidents had winnowed the firing team down to several 'experts'.
Fortunately the monolith's terminal guidance system immediately failed after the first impact, and it shuddered under the remaining rocket-blows.
Most unfortunately, this didn't completely destroy the monolith, and now, instead of landing, it was falling.
More worryingly, it was in fact aimed at part of the palace (and in all probability not the part currently occupied by the Territorials,) and had either no means or no inclination to change its course. Even now, the ship could have retrieved it, but it chose not to.
They had waived the normal procedure for such drops, which involved mounting an AU-198 bomb to be detonated on destruction of the monolith, which would spread radioactive waste over the target area, with a half-life of two and a half days. Usually, after destroying one monolith in transit, people learnt not to try twice. 'What could be more humane than leaving that out?' thought the ship.
The ship detected a radio signal directed at it, and contemplated its response, several came to mind, from comical to obscure, and finally, it settled on procedure, and pulled out half a dozen of the most devious, invasive, and multi-platform computer viruses ever devised, and shot them at the transmitter. It doubted they'd do any good against such crude equipment, but it was worth trying anyway.
Then, a moment later, it sent another transmission, "No."
On the underside of the ship another dozen monoliths fired. It was probably going to run out quickly at this rate, then it would have problems. This time, three monoliths headed for the palace, eager to ensure they weren't eliminated as easily as their precursor, ready to spill faceless mechanical hordes upon those nearby.
Meanwhile, in the Office of the Emperor, a small group was busy speculating on their promotion prospects. They knew that it was standard procedure for one of the senior officers to be picked to rule over new territories, and thus they'd started, among other things, a pool. One couldn't name oneself, and the current favorite was Ilene Vashon, but all such things could change.
"When should we go public?" asked Elash, the Adjutant, in other words secretary and half a dozen other jobs, of the Emperor. He frowned thoughtfully,
"I'm not certain yet, I've told Siri herself, so that's the foreign leadership taken care of. I'm thinking we should go public tomorrow, when we have a secure beach-head. Find some good propagandists and get them to cut together an announcement."
The ship decided a demonstration was in order, as its enemies, for want of a better term, were plainly aware of it, there was no point in holding off any longer. It singled out an area away from the city, and decided to unleash some of its more sane armaments. Firstly, a few of what were known as ‘pin-point strikes’
It isolated the four cardinal points on a magnetic compass, as viewed from the palace, and targeted four spots on the horizon, or thereabouts from the palace. If one were on the roof of the palace, one would see a pair of green shafts of light stab down from the heavens to the north and the south. If one was exceptionally quick, and had access to the telescopes long enough to turn them out to the forest, one would see the foliage torn high into the air like a fountain, before shedding itself in multitudinous ways, great gouts of topsoil tossed up and boiling away into the sky and the occasional vicious creature stripped apart.
A moment later, to the east and the west, the same thing happened, green bolts slamming into the ground and sending up gouts of matter being torn apart. Shortly afterward, four distinct sounds, in the distance, like the ripping of cloth could be heard.
The air hung heavy with some strange charge after that, a little hair raising to those too high in the air or out toward the west. A flash of ‘lightning’ came down into the forest not far beyond the wall, and with a tumultuous roar a massive part of the ground was lifted up into the air and scattered, flaming foliage raining down just outside the wall. The forest came alive as creatures ran in all directions, and trees near to the impact crater, a great bowl in the ground wide enough to encompass a small mountain, molten soil and rock fused into rapidly forming glass and igneous rock around it, burned. The demonstration over, the destruction ended as quickly as it had begun.
Five Civilized Nations
(OOC: Anyone mind if I joined?)
The Iron Bitch
The cheers amoung the missile crew quickly turned to panic as the monolith not only kept coming but seems to have suffered no damage at all. Crews ran from their stations and officers followed - there were no reloads and no reason to stay on station. Atop other buildings more missiles launched - telescopes trained on the falling craft they did not notice the others droppping away.
For a minute the skys were filled with dozens of contrails as battery after battery fired at the dropping monolith. Some fired far too late - proximity detonator ticked on after a bare thousand feet and exploded over buildings and sent shrapnel scything into the tops of buildings. One failed to detonate and rammed into an apartment complex where it exploded and set the complex aflame and smoke billowing over the city.
The radio operator pulled the headset from his head and flung it on the console as the meaningless data screamed in his ears. Gingerly he picked it up after a stern look from the officer monitoring the communications room.
"Sir - there was a responce. The ship responded 'No'."
This was duely passed to her Majesty. She was not pleased at all and showed it by smashing her fists into the table hard enough to dent the thin steel.
"Who are they? They are not from Pilon or we would be greeted by glib words and apologies!"
"I do not know your Majesty. I will order the radio operator to keep trying."
"Good - and order...."
Just then the command center shook as the monolith plowed into the palace...
Troops manning the walls watched as the orbital strikes chewed up the forest. Confusion reigned - was it a sign of friendship or a display of power? Officers order the wall batteries turned inward while keeping an eye on the forest - if there was an attack some of the more manevolent creatures might take this opportunity to attack the city.
Below them the few tanks and personnel carriers the city possessed emerged from their garages and headed toward open squares where their firepower would be useful - they had no idea of the metallic tide they would face.
OOC: This RP is planned - The Iron Bitch will fall. I don't know if you want to get involved given that outcome.
Ironically, the last thing they were doing by continuing to shoot at the monolith was helping themselves. Its AI, while it had no fear of death, had a fear of failure, and even now was busy attempting to complete its mission. In a flurry of rerouting, repairing, recharging and numerous other 're's it managed to bring its deceleration drive back online, even as another rocket hit it, smashing away one of the prongs on the top of the vehicle, sending it careening to the ground away from the main body of the vehicle. Other impacts gouged craters, melted and scorched the vehicle, but many didn't stop it.
Alas, even though it had managed to salvage functionality, even it, mighty war machine though it was, was unable to defy the laws of physics. It smashed through the roof of the palace like a knife through paper, shattering glass all around as it smashed through floor after floor, sending a portion of the palace up into an exploding flower of debris and smashing through room after room after room.
The monolith had one thought, 'Bugger.'
It set about repairing its systems to the best of its ability and powered, though even then it was running at half power, its defensive weapons. 'Two hours. What the hell am I going to do for two hours?' it thought.
Meanwhile, more of the monoliths came down, a trio quite happily heading for the palace now that the crews on the top had deserted their posts, others spread out across the city.
The bombardment could be interpreted as both. It could indeed be correctly interpreted as both.
The Iron Bitch
Chaos reigned in the command center as the impact shook the earth above them. The ancient concrete and steel shook for a moment and sent a wave of dust falling from the ceiling. Shelves tipped and spilled their contents across the floor. Above the radio station a lighting unit broke free and swung down catching the operator across the forehead and sending him sprawling unconcious on the floor.
In the elevator shaft that led from the command center to the main palace there were far more creaks and groans. The monolith had landed neatly with one corner on the lift shaft and for a moment the compacted mass hung there on the narrowest of ledges before screaming downward in a shower of twisted machinery. There was a stairway as well - with a monolith sitting on it. The backup stairway and escape tunnel had been sealed when the concrete wall the door was mounted in had shattered and wedged the door into place.
The Empress and her command staff were now trapped a hundred feet under ground and out of contact with the rest of the army.
The wall defenses were meant to keep waves of animals away from the walls - they had the volume for air defense but not the penetrating power. Never the less the troops opened fire and sent lead flying towards the new arrivals. Tanks and APC's scurried to move into firing positions where they could engage once they hit the ground and squads of soldiers clumped up behind these.
Man-portable anti-armor didn't exist in Eisenherz - though there were some heavy anti-creature rifles scattered about. Some soldiers had satchel charges but they were limited to an arm's throw.
"No word from the Empress?"
"No sir - the palace guard is making their way inside, but they are blocked by debris and it's slow going."
"Very well - as the highest ranking officer in contact I'm assuming command based on the orders of war handed down by her Majesty. In the name of her Majesty Katrina Eisenherz we will destroy the invaders. Order all commands to attack them as soon as they hit the ground..."
Try as they might the soldiers of the Iron Bitch had not completely removed the Cult of Pilon from the population. Now they took the opportunity to strike back. Cultists threw grenades into troop formations from upper windows and took pot shots at officers and random soldiers with weapons carefully concealed. It was not an effective or coordinated uprising, but it was enough to add more confusion and chaos to the defense of the city.
Squads were pinned down by snipers until another came along and routed them from the building. Brutal tactics were used to supress this mini-rebellion - soldiers killed anyone in their way as they raced to rooms facing the street.
Tag; tis very well written.
Around the city the monoliths began to land, slamming into the ground at low speeds and cracking the floors beneath them. Wherever they landed close to troops, their ‘gauss flux arcs’ fired, sending chains of green lightning around, inflicting carefully measured and lethal burns on their victims, leaping from one to the other like some catlike animal of living energy.
The door of one of the monoliths, landed in a large square, opened, revealing a shimmering rippling green surface beyond, waiting ominously. A skeletal figure ran out of it, silent footfalls raising little clouds of dust as it moved fluidly across the shattered, pulverised ground. It moved again, bringing a weapon held in its gleaming metallic fingers to bear, a weapon that looked like the ancient roman fasces, a bundle of rods with an axe used as a symbol of authority by lictors, carried in front of high ranking politicians. This one however, glowed with a brilliant green light, that seemed to trap within it jade lightning.
It knew they were under orders to minimise eradications, but in this case, a full blast would be perfectly suited, the idea being to horrify and scare the rest into retreat and it targeted the nearest human, firing with a neural impulse sent from its hand into the weapon. He twitched as he was caught in a brilliant cone of light, the same colour as the gun. With an obscene sound, like the ripping of fabric, but somehow ‘wetter,’ and pierced by the start of an agonised shriek, abruptly cut off, the victim of this horrific assault was whittled away to nothing as layers of his body disappeared into the green light, revealing muscle, organs, and bone until nothing remained.
The Lord meanwhile, a Staff of Light in either hand, approached the portal, staff of light clutched in either hand and several other objects concealed in his crumbling purple robes. He stepped thorough, and immediately to one side, slamming the staff in his right hand into the ‘floor,’ burying it a hand’s span into the ground. The other he gripped in both hands, and prepared to use for its intended purpose even as his morale-wounding backup flowed through the portal at his rear, brandishing their great bladed pole-arms with long practiced ease.
The Iron Bitch
"In her Majesty's name..."
Corporal Von Kirk's oath wasn't the only one being said as the ageless menace poured out of the sickly green portals. He had witnessed a young lieutenant vaporized by one of the creatures - the whole squad had watched in horror as well. After a moment instinct took over and he stepped out from behind the APC where he had been sheltering. Leveling his assault carbine he let out a roar and let the machine have it.
Lead splattered across armor plating as the thing staggered. More soldiers joined in, adding their fire to the furious rattle smashing into its carapace. It sunk to one knee under the weight of fire but it appeared as yet undamaged. Then finally the gunner on the APC fired a single round into it's chest and it fell, scattered across the square. Instead of cheers there was only silence - no man had fallen there.
Then more of the horrors began to pour out of the monolith's portal...
"Back - fall back!"
Men raced back to new positions as the hoard advanced. Satchel charges dropped from windows into the metallic wave, destroying one or two but not slowing the faceless menace that stepped over the chassis of their fallen with nary a glance. In front of them men stood and lived or ran and died as they were cut down randomly and without pity.
"Lieutenant - we are running out of ammun.... Aaarrggg!"
Lt. Schell watched wild eyed as the trooper reporting to him suddenly pitched in half as a necron axe sliced him open from chest to groin. He scrambled backward - this meant they were surrounded.
'Gotta report - gotta escape - gotta...'
Asami stood in the emperor's palace, amusing herself a little... She didn't have much to do, here, and was slightly bored.
Come to think of it... Earth time, my birthday would be in... A week, I think... She wondered briefly if Mephet`ran had taken that information from her mind, too. It was certainly a possibility...
I wonder what I get as a present... I wouldn't mind something to... play with... She giggled, having slightly naughty ideas, and considering Mephet`ran's tendency of being a pervert, it wasn't entirely impossible for this ideas to come true...
Well, she would be surprised, anyway. Or so she hoped.
Incredible TAG!man strikes!
More and more of the horrifically vigorous troops spread out into the streets. When they were killed, some rose again, implacably returning to their feet, taking up their weapons and fighting once more. Eventually, after higher ranks of necron arrived, the order went out to fall back and consolidate the landing zones while more troops entered the field.
Meanwhile, atop the palace, more mechanical monstrosities left the lead Monolith, and they immediately headed for the nearest door, looking for a stairway down. It was the guess of the Lord that the target would be somewhere on the lower levels of the palace, or possibly a bunker and they followed its intuition.
The Iron Bitch
The Iron Bitch
On the streets of the city the battle that had started as a defensive action had turned into a rout. Ammunition was running low on the streets and for each enemy that fell two joined the first. Often one was the one that fell but the soldiers of the Iron Bitch had quickly realized these were not the men of Pilon.
Now small knots of soldiers fought on. Falling back from building to intersection, intersection to marketplace, they were whittled down under the whithering fire from the cruel weapons of the necron.
Three soldiers - all that remained from a platoon of twenty - found itself surrounded and pinned down by the advancing necron. A young private still in his teens found himself in command after watching both the lieutenant and the platoon seargent die in agony. The corporal who had been leading them since had died to an axe - the enemy moved suprisingly quick for a foe that cracked cobbles as they walked. Now he was in charge and cut off, leading two raw recruits with fear in their eyes.
It came to his mind unbidden. Never surrender - it had been drilled into his head during his scarce three months. Now it seemed like a chance.
"Throw down your weapons - put your hands up! Do it!"
The three did just as a pair of warriors advanced around the corner. Then they walked by - ignoring the soldiers completely. One passed so close the Private could have reached out and touched him. Then more came through, and the soldiers found themselves in the middle of a cluster of warriors. The eerie gleam of their weapons lit up the alley, but there was no fire, no swish of the axe.
Captain Horsen's rocket orbited Eisenherz again, and again he passed the black bulk of the necron ship in orbit. He had been told of the first events on the ground by one of the scientists watching the rocket, but now the radio was silent. He had seen the monoliths drop and knew what that meant.
Suddenly the radio crackled to life.
'Captain - this is Ground Control. I need you to make some adjustments to your controls...'
Horsen followed the instructions relayed up by Ground Control, but his focus was on the monolithic ship. Who had built such a thing? Then something ticked over in his mind.
'Now Captain - set the timer for 43.2 seconds. Once it is up push the button labeled 'Primary Ignition'.'
'What was that Captain? Please repeat.'
"No. I will not die for that bitch."
The door shuddered in it's concrete prison as the general slammed his shoulder into it once again.
"It's no good - still stuck."
The two palace guard that had been working on the door nodded, "Yes Sir," and returned to work. They had been hammering on the concrete with a crowbar and a claw hammer for a half-hour. Her majesty had complained of the ringing and had retreated to the relative quiet of the radio room while they continued to work.
One of the guards had climbed the stairway and made his way through the tangled steel girders to find the door smashed and dented. Something was on top of it - it wouldn't budge - and he had nearly killed himself climbing back down. They would not run out of air - the shaft opened to the sky now, though there was no way they could climb past the twisted wreckage of the lift mechanism or the smooth sides of the lift shaft.
The ship had been monitoring the transmissions, and it already had the rocket targeted for destruction. It waited however. 'Satisfying' it thought, and fired regardless. However, it's fire was on an absolutely minimal power level, though it instantly shorted out the electronics of the crude craft in a dim green shimmer. It firmly held the rocket in place and rapidly began to probe the small vessel.
Aboard the ship, several Immortals vacated a small room, taking with them grenades, armaments, and several other devices of less certain origin. The magnetic field holding the ship reeled it in, pulling it along like a fish snared on a line. After a few moments, it let go, as it doubted the rocket had any thrust ability left, and thus it didn't care for the waste of time keeping it on that course. When the rocket came closer it would re-adjust its course forcibly toward a small bay on its ventral side, where they could open it and extract the prisoner.
It considered simply displacing him out of his crude vessel, but that would mean it would not have a displacer unit available to retrieve damaged troops from the surface for almost a whole second, something it didn't care to do. This was simpler, and it concealed their full abilities better, and so it decided on simply pulling the rocket in.
Meanwhile, the ship was also talking to its compatriots. It signalled across the light-years as though it were merely speaking over a coffee table. It was answered shortly, the reply positive.
In geostationary orbit over The City of Waters, a group of warships sat. Other ships avoided them, this space was theirs, and no one in their right mind would dispute that. Slowly, one of the lighter cruisers moved, to begin taking on troops.
The necrons saw no reason to bother taking surrendering opponents prisoner, nor did they see any reason to kill them. That was not true, they would have killed them rapidly, if they'd had a reason, but they, to a machine, decided not to, their orders to be 'humane' flashing through their minds. Besides, those they left could spread fear among the others, and perhaps make the inevitable, to their minds at least, collapse of morale happen all the faster.
The Necron Lord advanced cautiously, pausing at the edge of the crater dug by the impact of the first Monolith, and observed it for a moment. Interestingly, there was what appeared to be a lift shaft there. He decided that it wasn't quite worth attempting to get down there yet, and quickly sent a signal to the vessel in orbit, 'Send my hunting beast please.'
After a minute or so, a large creature, much like the more common scarabs, emerged from the shimmering portal, carried on translucent wings, devices that incorporated marvellously compact anti-gravity generators. The Lord watched the large beetle like thing land. It examined the glossy black body of the creature, and its glowing green eye. The Lord tilted its head a little, and sent instructions to the crude mind of the critter. The creature understood, and twitched its wings agitatedly, scuttling over toward the crater, before taking to its wings and heading for the shattered lift shaft, to see how far down it went.
The Iron Bitch
The endless mechanical tide had forced most of the defenders back to their barracks and the armories scattered around the city. Here they made their last stands - sometimes fighting to the last, sometimes surrendering as the necron breached the walls.
"Here they come! Fire!"
Major Kollin shouted this last, but the men under him needed no encouragement. The things were advancing across the square towards the imposing block of the centeral armory and his men were defending it. Earlier they had collected a lot of men from decimated units though it was unlikely that any would now make it through the encircling horde. It was not his concern - this was the day he dreamed of. Glorious battle and likely death for his Empress.
Long streams of fire lanced out from heavy machine guns mounted hastily in windows and doorway. A balcony wrapped around the upper story and dozens of soldiers fired down into the advancing horde. As before many fell, knocked back by the impact of the bullets, but most rose again to bring their terrible weapons to bear.
"Keep firing boys - we've got enough to last all day!"
Slowly the horde closed with the armory and brought their weapons to bear. Spears of green tore chunks from the front facade, revealing a layer of steel. It too because to peel back as the first necron troops reached the walls.
The tank went up in a roaring fireball as fire from the necron weapons tore through it. It had fought long and well, running down several groups as it rushed to one of the remaining strong points along the outer wall. Now it burned and the greasy smoke mixed with dozens of others in a pillar that drifted above the city.
Captain Horson could only pray and hope as the rocket was pulled into the dark ship. Perhaps they would be his saviors - or they would be his executioners. He did not know but could do little. There were no weapons, not even a wrench, aboard the tiny rocket.
Finally he heard and felt the clunk of the rocket landing on something metal. Now he was hanging upside down with the only window facing the floor. In moments he would meet his rescuers - or foes.
A blast of dust shot into the command center as the scarab flew down the shaft. It's way was partially blocked, but there was enough wiggle room that it could get very close. Close enough to hear steel ringing on concrete and the fleshy whump of someone smashing their thumb.
In a chamber, two men and a woman sit, dressed in neatly-pressed khakis. They maintain languid, lazy postures - though closer observation will reveal they have carefully positioned themselves where the risk of getting hit by falling debris is minimal, in a doorway, below an arch and such.
"It appears," says one man (a most dashing, Eurasian-looking specimen) to a very nervous-looking, bookish local "that there is an invasion ongoing. I thought you might like to know, M Danilovich..." He pauses as a squad passes in the corridor outside, bots hammering. "I look forward to continuing out discussions at a later date."
His male companion is busy communicating with their orbiting base of operations, using particularly poor means of encryption and channeling comms through the local net. Phrases like maintain realtime link to Fleet and remaining on surface to maintain representation are liberally laced through the wordy exchange. The more compact quantum-entanglement data stream is grimmer.
The woman's thoughts are the least pleasant, listening to what passes for a spirit world here. The feral nature of the woods she'd found rather pleasing, but now there is some dissonance. Still, she is of la Tigra's people. Unlike the African fop or the lazy spacer, she has some very clear ideas as how to handle any situation. Violence.
With a ‘ping’ a bullet ricocheted off the first necron to approach the armoury. Another behind it raised its weapon and let loose a brief burst of green weapons fire at that particular port, and as rewarded with a scream from inside as it managed to wound one of the defenders. Meanwhile, the lead necron sagged under the weight of automatic fire being directed at it, its weapon unusable for now, except as a clubbing axe, which was how it was being held.
The call went out to fall back as another pair of the mechanical monstrosities were felled. Even as they shuffled backward, alternating groups giving covering fire, green beams skittering across the armoured surface of the armoury as their comrades retreated, they still came under determined fire from the defenders.
Across the square, they rapidly blasted an entrance into one of the more secure buildings, which they took to be deserted, and spread out. The last straggler crawled, having been forced to abandon one of its legs in the square, though the rest of it was quite operable. Quickly smashing windows, the remains of the first squad, a bare half dozen now, began to carefully lay down suppressing fire on the bunker, aiming to try and take out the larger, crew served weapons first.
The second squad of necron warriors was larger, having lost only a trio of its initial twenty members. Some of them took up positions on the floor above, while an assault team, five of them, detached itself and began passing out grenades, retrieved by a strange procedure that involved reaching beneath their rib-cage and into the armoured equipment compartment therein.
When these grenades imploded, they were liable to take everything within several meters with them, either directly, reducing it to superheated vapour, or indirectly, pulling ferrous materials towards it with lethal force, all covered by the same horrific ripping sound.
The assault team broke off, and using their weapons on narrowest beam setting to cut through walls in their way, they began to work their way around the square to try and locate a way to deposit their lethal cargo into the armoury.
In the docking bay of the necron cruiser, another lord approached, flanked by a pair of immortals, who had abandoned their weapons in order to facilitate prisoner transport, even the Lord was without a staff at the moment. Instead, he walked over to the hatch, and examined it for a moment. Grasping the latch, he attempted to open the hatch in the more conventional way, assuming they’d not done anything strange like weld it shut.
The Lord deemed this interesting as he listened to the pained sound from below. A quick check of the depth of the scarab like hunting creature, who lacked their powerful self destruct charge, unfortunately as that would have made clearing the blockage very easy, and decided that it was deep enough to lead to some kind of installation below the palace.
Eventually he decided, and they began advancing into the crater. The scarab spread its pseudo-wings and shot up from the lift shaft again, and the Lord dug out a grenade in much the same fashion as his compatriots far across the city had done.
The stricken monolith ran a quick diagnostic on its audio sensors. ‘Ah hell. I’m hallucinating things now,’ it thought, ‘This is definitely a bad drop.’
The ship’s intellect meanwhile was currently focused on the transmissions of the Territorials. Eventually, it decided to butt in, quite insulted by this obvious effort to dissuade it from harming them.
“Oh please!” it sent, on the same channel, though unencrypted, quite certain that they’d have no problem getting the message, “We have no intention of harming you, or causing any needless casualties. We know full well that you can communicate in a far better way than this, so let’s have no more cluttering with pointless dialogue designed to dissuade us from killing you, something we have precisely zero intention of doing.”
The Iron Bitch
Kollin screamed orders as his troops became increasingly sparse. Fire from the necron was reaping a terrible toll among the heavy weapon gunners, but he kept moving men onto the weapons if they themselves were not destroyed. He had watched rifle fire splatter off the mechanical soldiers and machine gun fire occasionally slip through and knew the heavy weapons were the only chance.
He watched as fire from outside cut down another trooper - this time the beam punched through the wall and removed his arm and rifle at the shoulder. The wall was weakening; it was already warm to the touch and spots were turning a cherry red under repeated blasts.
Kollin heard an ominious cracking beside him and turned - the granite wall was cracking. Instinctively he flung himself aside as the stone exploded outward as a section of the wall vaporized under the assault of some hellish weapon. This saved his life - and likely the lives of many under him. His head hit an ammunition crate as he fell and knocked him unconcious. His second, an experienced lieutenant with a hint of common sense, ordered Kollin moved into the basement and a white flag run up.
His mind was full of images of green beams slicing into the masses of ammunition in the concrete bunker behind them and the massive fireball that would inevitably follow.
The door opened with a brief puff of over-pressurized air and Captain Horson could see the metal deck and the skeletal legs of the necron lord. He didn't really know what to expect, and was hanging upside down in the harness anyway. So he simply watched and waited, his body tense like a spring. Running like hell seemed like a good option - not a rational option, but a good option.
"There is something in the shaft Colonel! I... I can't see it from here but it's big."
The worker listened as the lord began to climb down the shaft, his heavy body punching into and bending supports and crumbling concrete as he descended.
"I think somethings coming down too - almost sounds like a Reaper or something."
Concrete dust and chunks rained down as well and the worker backed off as a new cloud wafted into the room that was already covered in a fine layer of debris. Crowbar in hand he backed off cautiously - Reapers were lethal and if one got in here it would be over quickly.
"Get that door open then - as quickly as possible!"
The Colonel himself scrambled to obey his orders, bashing his bony old shoulder against the wall in a frantic effort to clear the escape passage. The workers chipped away at the concrete with a crowbar and claw hammer. So frantic were their efforts that the Colonel didn't shoot one of the workers when he accidentally smashed him in the leg with the crowbar on the backswing.
The first squad moved out, watched carefully by their compatriots as they advanced across the square to the ‘surrendering’ armoury. Two of the necrons fell back while two came up on the most obvious entrance to the structure. “Drop your weapons and leave the building!” one of them called, using its ancient communications unit, its voice artificial and mechanical. “All of you into the square.”
The assault team paused too, grenades at the ready, half way to their target. After a moment of evaluation, they continued advancing; it couldn’t hurt to be in position after all.
The Necron Lord crouched down and looked at the occupant, “Get out,” he said, in a surprisingly human voice, “you will not be harmed.”
The other Lord paused at the edge of the lift-shaft, looking down as his mechanised feet threw some small debris into the shaft. Several of the pariahs followed him, one, having procured rope from somewhere, was busy tying it to something relatively immovable, a structural support of some kind. The Lord extended his hand regally and dropped the grenade, activating it as he did so.
The Emperor sat at a window, with a view to the north of the capital “Well,” he said, “Report?”
“Well Sir, initial landings have met with considerable success, and we’ve gained quite a bit of ground. We’ve not had time to round up surrendering troops, but they’re doing so in quite some numbers now. In general, it’s mopping up.”
“Excellent,” he said, “Status of the re-inforcements?”
“The ship is boarding now. We’ve got them up to brigade strength.”
“Excellent. And the capture operation?”
“No word on that yet Sir.”
“Oh, well, anyway, alert the Reaper to prepare for my arrival,” he said, “I suppose I’d best go to survey my new territory as soon as possible.”
The Iron Bitch
With a rush the stuck door finally shot open and the colonel followed it into the escape tunnel in a rush. The two technicians followed him through, then paused for a moment as they heard something in the lift shaft. One, a veteran of the streetfighting of a previous uprising, recognized it and surged down the escape passage to the next armored door.
General Junger watched the grenade fall into the mass of metal at the bottom of the shaft in that horrible, fascinating way of someone who sees their death approaching. As it settled he finally looked away and threw himself over the unconcious Empress, shielding her from the rain of shrapnel to follow. There was a horrible ripping sound and Junger tensed as he imagined the shrapnel speeding towards his back and tearing away at bone and muscle. But the pain never came - just a wave of hot air that quickly faded in the underground command center.
In the streets men dropped their weapons and surrendered. Where fighting continued the Necron warriors swept past without pause leaving the men standing over their weapons. These were swept up by roaming patrols and disarmed. In ones and twos and then in dozens they were brought into squares where they were documented and placed into impromptu holding pens with a monolith at the center.
One soldier who had second thoughts about his surrender quickly realized the point of this when he started a small uprising inside one holding pen. A single discharge from the gauss whips of the monolith reduced him and those he had encouraged to ashes in a moment. That holding pen was very quiet after that.
With amazingly fluid movements, the Necron Lord descended the now almost clear lift shaft, his staff under his arm, which was wrapped around it almost as though it were a shotgun. Light came from its end, far too much to look at, merely a stunning, blinding glow. Eventually, with a clank of metal on ordinary stone derivative, the creature’s feet hit the floor.
There it stood in all his horrendous raiment of a dead creature, his narrowed, desiccated-looking face, both reflecting the brilliant light from its staff and containing twin light sources of its own, glowing green eyes with which he cast its malevolent gaze around the room. He saw a human male, a soldier by the look of him, covering a smaller and unconscious female with his body. Her he recognised as his primary objective, one Katrina Eisenhertz, to be acquired, alive, if at all possible.
The human however, he had no such use for, and, walking over to his target, he briefly configured his weapon to a low firing mode, basically a heat beam, that charred to lethal effect on contact, and pointed it at the General, then he fired, even as he did so, taking something like a stout dog’s collar but made of a flexible metal where the would be leather, from beneath his cloak. It was a device calibrated rather specifically to work on humans, making them much easier to control.
Meanwhile, above Delta Zeta IV, another ship emerged from hyper-speed, this one far greater than the last. The Emperor had arrived to oversee the final stages of the conquest personally.
The Iron Bitch
General Junger heard the ring of metal feet on concrete behind him and turned. His eyes widened in shock as he beheld the Necron Lord and his hand went to the pistol - ceremonial at his side. He tried to say something brave, something valiant, but the words didn't come. He could only put himself between the thing and the Empress and raise his pistol. The Staff of Light leveled on his chest and a single shot rang out before the horrible beam tore his life away.
Thus died General Franz Junger - the only man to ever die willingly in the service of the Iron Bitch.
Stepping over the still corpse the Lord slipped the collar onto the Empress and raised her unconcious form into his arms. With her cradled careful in one arm like a small child he stood and listened to the sounds of the armored door of the escape tunnel closing. Katrina was his.
Captain Horson unbuckled the straps that held him and swung carefully out of the pod. He was in shock - he didn't notice the tear of his uniform or the gash in the flesh of his shoulder. Nor did he notice the clump of his boots on the deck as he emerged and stood upright next to the Lord.
In a basement in the northwestern portion of the city a family huddled. The terrible noises outside were dying down, but they could still hear the occasional thump of an explosion or the sharp crack of gunfire. They had been huddled there earlier, watching the street through a low window, when they had watched Katrina's soldiers routed by the Necron. Even now they watched a slow trickle of blood pour through that same window in a steady drip.
The father had looked outside once and returned, his face ashen, to forbid his wife and children from looking out the window until nightfall.
The portal in the lead monolith glowed with a brilliant green light, and a form stepped out of it, tall and handsome, inhumanly so, a palpable wave of awe and regality proceeded him, though there was no-one there to feel it, yet at least. Behind him came a woman, shorter, long hair over one shoulder artfully. She wrinkled her nose a little at the unpleasant smell and the dust hanging in the air. This had obviously not been exactly pleasant.
The Emperor stalked over a little until he could get a good view of the city. It wasn’t a pretty view. He sighed, “This my friend,” he said, “is the price.”
She was a little wide-eyed at it, “It is steep,” she said, taking a deep breath, “very steep.”
He turned away, and as he did so, Lady Laudrina Frost, Princeps Senatus of the Empire, saw the glimmer of a tear in his eye. She knew of course, that it was in a way just for show, for a creature such as the Emperor did not have such a reflex, but nevertheless she knew it to be real was well. “Well,” he said, “the business of conquest is ours now.”
She nodded quietly, and found that when she looked up once more, her own eyes were not dry.
The Lord examined Katrina’s unconscious form with an eye to her health, a concussion was apparent, some slight bleeding, which at least it could do something about. He layed her on a table, with a single sweep of his staff, the ornate head side on, smashing radios and other bulkier equipment from it. He felt no remorse as he tore the unfortunate Junger’s charred uniform jacket away, with one hand slicing some of the less flash-burnt parts into strips, wrapping them around certain parts of her, improvising bandages surprisingly effectively. Then he paused for a moment at Junger’s body.
Were he the being he once was, he would have felt remorse, this human had not really posed a true threat to him, he had not done anything worthy of death, he had been in every way that being could have conceived of, harmless. He would have contemplated the nature of the man’s affection for the young Empress, and imagined a laudable, if unwisely placed affection. As it was, as he crouched and felt for a pulse in the dead man, he felt only a mild annoyance that he had used unnecessary force. Then, as he was about to arise, from somewhere deep inside, unbidden, another impulse rose, and he stooped again, carefully brushing his clawed fingers across the man’s face, closing his eyes.
Content that the collar that would deprive her variously of sight and hearing, and even speech was attached around the former Empress’ neck, the Necron once more advanced, cautiously activating a number of its defence systems around both him and his delicate cargo, once more he rose, and headed off toward the lift shaft. He didn’t see the point in investigating the lift shaft, when he could simply tie the woman’s hands to the rope he had used to come down, and then have her usefully bound for when she regained consciousness.
Slowly, satisfied that their task was done, the necrons began to withdraw to the holding areas, and began setting up strange devices outside each.
Aboard the first ship, the Lord regarded the pilot of the vessel with disdain, “You will not be harmed,” it said, in a tinny, artificial voice, “as long as you co-operate. Follow,” he said, and turned away towards the door before moving at a brisk pace.
The Iron Bitch
Horson followed. His eyes barely comprehended the marvels of the ship as he walked it's hallways. Doors flowed aside at the approach of the lord and displays formed with a mere gesture. All this was lost on a man who didn't even think to question the fact that he stood upright.
Slowly people came out of their houses - some to get water and food and others to escape buildings that were quickly crumbling. They avoided the necron where possible - the patrolling warriors forming a bubble around themselves where women and children hid in alleys and doorways while they passed.
Outside the walls something stirred. A muscled mass pulled itself free from the jungle floor and slowly approached the no-man's land between the walls and the jungle. Armored skull held high it sniffed and caught the scent of blood as readily as it had moments ago while sleeping. There was also the scent of fire and burning flesh. And there was something more....
It was not the only creature to notice the lack of sentries on the walls, the scent of blood and death, and the towers of smoke climbing into the air. Around the walls the jungle stirred and creatures large and small began to probe the edge of the forest, waiting for that crack and puff of smoke that would tell them the defenders were still there.
The sombre party reached the appointed room eventually, and the lord paused, watching impassively as the metallic barrier that was the door flowed into the ceiling as though made of liquid. The room itself was small, and uncomfortable. Turning his emerald gaze on Horson the necron gestured, “Inside,” he commanded, “You will be repatriated to the surface again shortly,” he paused, “if that is your wish…”
On the surface, the Emperor stalked towards the Lord with Katrina in its grasp, smiling a little. Though he knew that the Lord expected no praise, he gave it anyway, smiling, “Excellent,” he said, and reached out to playfully caress her cheek, looking around at the large number of pariahs nearby, tall statuesque figures, shining white pseudo-ceramic armour over parts of their metallic bodies. “Find the public broadcast system, or some data on it,” he ordered, and then, caressing Katrina’s cheek again, “and take our prisoner to the Reaper.”
He’d probably find a use for her eventually, but until then, she might prove to be amusing.
The necrons had little idea of the nature of the wildlife so far, and though they would understand soon enough, and take steps to curtail it, the units known as Destroyers and Heavy Destroyers would perhaps be the best for such missions, but so far, they had yet to be deployed, given that fitting them through Monolith portals was… difficult… they would need another route down.
After a brief trip to get specific details of the transmission systems used by the locals, they returned to their ship, and in both televisiual and radio formats. The televisual transmission was in rather better quality than the locals normally produced, and it showed the Emperor sitting on an ornate wooden throne, and through a window behind him could be seen the curve of the planet.
"Greetings people of Delta Zeta Four. My name is Mephet'ran, and I am speaking to you from a 'low' orbit of your planet, where I have taken up residence for the foreseeable future. I am the Emperor of the Eternal Necrontyr Empire, and I wish to apologise for the unfoturane state of this transfer of your governance to us, especially those who have been killed, and although it may be unbelievable, my sympathies go out to their friends and families. However, we must look to the future, your future under our governance.
"In the distant future I can promise that you will become a part of the wider community of nations as an Imperial Province, and that your own planet will become a far safer, more secure, and more prosperous place to live.
"However, in the near future, I am going to have to ask some small sacrifices from you, as well as make a few small concessions in exchange.
"Firstly, my troops have interned a number of your own defence forces. At the moment it is my intention to release them all, unharmed, over the coming weeks. Similarly, we are considering clearing the jungle back somewhat from around your borders.
However, we must also impose some small and temporary restraints. Thus, I must order a curfew between ten PM and five thirty AM ((or the equivalent in local)) and inform you that patrols will be reserving the right to detain anyone whose activities are suspicious. Similarly, we shall be conducting an audit of those imprisoned by the previous regime, and we shall release all those we deem to be held unjustly..."