Arcanus Protocol

As they descended from their ship, the Prescience, Dominus Arcanus checked over his calculations for perhaps the hundredth time. Ever since the tomb complex had been discovered during mining activity a year earlier, all his efforts had be devoted towards this expedition. It was a small miracle that the tomb hadn’t awoken already. In an amazing stroke of luck, the miners had all been killed in a cave in before they had chance to trigger any proximity sensors. He praised the Omnissiah for his good fortune.

The Thunderhawk gunship shook all around him as it battled against the planet’s heavy atmosphere. His mechanical limbs steadied him until finally they made it through. As they tore through the cloud cover towards the dig site, he accessed the gunship’s scanners and surveyed the planet below. After the discovery of the tomb, the Adeptus Mechanicus had ordered the planet abandoned for ‘safety’, although they were frankly more worried about someone waking the tomb before their plan was in motion. Terax III wasn’t a well established planet, it had a heavy atmosphere which blocked communications, and harsh surface conditions which made settlement difficult. Attempts were made however because of its rich mineral deposits. It was a perfect candidate for mining.
There were just a few small settlements devoted solely to the mining process. Perhaps a hundred thousand people had lived there. Now nobody did, it was a empty wasteland. The gunship skimmed across the surface and finally came to land on the outskirts of one of the larger settlements. Arcanus had instructed the pilot that landing near the mine entrance might disturb the tomb, and that was an unacceptable risk.
They touched down and disembarked. A squad of Iron Hands Space Marines led by Sergeant Lethrain accompanied the expedition. They led the way down the boarding ramp, scanning their surroundings for threats. If all went to plan there would be little need for their assistance, however they were still dealing with a race they knew little about, so it was wise to have them around.
“Clear”, voxed the Sergeant.
Arcanus nodded, “as expected Sergeant”. He descended the ramp with his personal battle servitor in tow. While Arcanus would never admit it, he didn’t like going on an expedition without his servitor, the thing was built for battle and without it he felt…exposed. It walked down the ramp one heavy step at a time. While retaining a vaguely human shape, it was mostly mechanical. One arm had been replaced with a meltagun and the other ended in a large chain sword attachment, blades already whirring slowly. It scanned the environment, it’s one heavily augmented human eye darting between possible threats before also deeming the area safe.
“Let’s hope it stays that way”, the Sergeant said.
“Hope has nothing to do with it Sergeant, I have come prepared”. Despite his aversion to human emotions, he smiled. He had been looking forward to this.
The Sergeant nodded and ordered his squad to move out. They headed towards the mine at the centre of the settlement, surrounding the tech priest in a defensive formation. Before long they came upon the entrance to the mine, it was cordoned off and a big ‘Danger: Unsafe’ sign hung above it. They paid it no attention.
“Sergeant, we must advance carefully now, the whole mission relies on us not triggering any sort of alarms”.
“Acknowledged”. He addressed his squad, “silent advance, keep things tight”.
The group moved into the mine at a slower pace now, carefully checking their path as they went. It took some time, and they had to descend several levels, but eventually they reached the tomb entrance. The cave-in, which had so fortuitously killed the miners, had been removed by an advanced team of servitors equipped with a variety of anti-detection devices. It had been a gamble, but moving the rocks themselves would almost certainly have woken the tomb before Arcanus had a chance to gain access.
“Wait here Sergeant, I shall only be a moment”. With the rest of his party standing guard he approached the dark entrance to the tomb. Black stone shot through with rivers of green formed a square archway, leading deeping into the sleeping tomb. Activating every anti-detection device he had at his disposal he crept towards the tomb. When he was within reach he extended one of his arms and a fibrous cable crept towards one of the green rivers. Necron circuitry. This was the moment he had prepared for, he knew he’d be detected as soon as he accessed their circuits, he would have to be quick.
In a flash the cable struck the circuit.
**
– – Intrusion detected. Activating reanimation protocols – –
**
He cursed, their systems were incredibly fast and he’d been detected the nanosecond he accessed the circuit. He was prepared though, and with practised ease he uploaded his virus into their system. The virus had been programmed to seek out the reanimation protocol code and stop it activating.
**
– – Reanimation comme-….reanimation protocols failure, retrying… – –
**
Success! His plan had worked, he’d stopped the Necrons reanimating. There was now nothing to stop them exploring the tomb and learning its secrets. He disengaged from the circuitry and turned back to the Sergeant. “Lead on Sergeant, we’ve got a tomb to explore”. Despite himself he couldn’t keep the joyous emotion entirely out of his voice.
Signalling to his squad they all formed up around Arcanus again and descended into the tomb.
**
– – Reanimation unsuccessful, system breached. – –
– – Emergency protocol initiated, accessing backup reanimation code. – –
– – Reanimation of tomb blocked. Reanimation of Overlord….successful – –
**
Overlord Khensek awoke slowly from his long slumber, feeling his metal limbs slowly brushing off the stiffness of time and returning to life. He wondered how long it had been.
“How long have I slept?” he asked the tomb computer, which oversaw the management of the tomb in their absence.
“Data corrupted, exact date is impossible to determine. Based on stellar movements, likely in excess of 50 million years.”
He considered that. The galaxy would be a different place now, new races would have grown and hopefully the Eldar would have faded. The galaxy would be prime for conquering.
Suddenly eager to reconquer his empire he moved to the master console, accessing tomb systems. “Status of tomb reanimation”.
“Tomb reanimation was unsuccessful”.
“WHAT?!” he yelled into the air. “Explain”.
“Tomb complex has been breached. Reanimation protocols blocked.”
Rage boiled up inside him, but he fought to keep it in check. He knew the danger of letting rage consume his programming. “Show me”.
On the monitors above the console, it now displayed the group of Space Marines and Adeptus Mechanicus moving slowly through the tomb. While the group of armoured creatures were the obvious threat, he sensed the mechanically augmented one they encircled was the real danger. The way in which they moved in defensive positions around him also suggested he was in charge.
“Can you bypass whatever is blocking the reanimation?”
“Negative. Augmented individual has infected out system with some kind of virus. Impossible to remove at this time.”
That frustrated him, but he had bigger problems. If that augmented creature could interface with their systems there is no telling how much damage it could do. It must not be allowed to reach the core.
“Activate guardians, seek and destroy”.
“Acknowledged”
**
Arcanus moved along the polished black stone corridor with mechanical ease, his human legs being assisted by four additional appendages. This almost gave him the feeling of being carried, just the way he liked it. Without having to expend any thought on the act of navigating, he could observe his surroundings without having to worry about walking into a wall, his pathfinding programs would stop that happening.
As they progressed ever deeper he catalogued the tomb in minute detail, making sure he didn’t miss anything which might be important for further study. Indeed there were several other paths which he would of liked to explore as he postulated they led to vaults of Necron archeotech, but they were not on the optimum route to the tomb’s core. They could not deviate from their objective.
The tomb was dark, lit only by the green circuitry running through the walls of black metal. Each member of their party had lights attached to their armour, and with them all on it lit up the immediate area quite effectively. Not effectively enough however to warn them of the attack before it happened.
The only warning they had was the slight noise of metal on metal, thousands of tiny pinpricks of noise, which to Arcanus were clearly discernible in the empty tomb. Then the scarabs attacked. A swarm of mechanical creatures, no bigger than a human hand, flew towards them from every direction. They came out of hidden passages in the walls, floors and roof, and down the corridor itself from both directions.
Within moments they were consumed by them and the creatures began biting with their mechanical jaws into whatever they landed on. Warnings came from his systems as they were bitten into, and pain flashed through him as one tore into his face. To their credit the Iron hands reacted with incredible speed, opening up with their weapons on the growing swarm, but bolters had little effect on the swarm of tiny creatures. Several marines threw frag grenades and Arcanus watched as they cleared a large area of the creatures in the corridor ahead.
“Move!” the Sergeant ordered. Before the creatures could regroup the party moved into the cleared area, still covered in scarabs. “Beya, clear them out”.
One of the other members of the group, Beya, powered up his heavy flamer and engaged the tanks on his back. In a flash of light, liquid promethium ignited and bathed the attacking scarabs in flames. The firestorm enveloped the creatures and either melted them instantly or damaged them enough for them to drop onto the floor, unmoving. Sweeping around in a circle Beya covered all avenues of attack, annihilating the swarm.
As he switched off the flamer Arcanus breathed a sigh of relief. There were still the scarabs attached to them to deal with however, and they were starting to do some serious damage. Using his mechandrites he managed to pull most of them off and crush them, digging out some of the more entrenched ones using a welding tool. His face stung and was seeping blood, but his subdermal implants soon sealed the wound. He would likely have a scar however, he was not happy about that.
The rest of the squad finished off removing the scarabs and checking their armour and weapons for any serious damage.
“Well done Beya, that seems to be all of them for now”, the Sergeant said.
Arcanus got the impression Beya was smiling under his helmet.
“Just point me at the next swarm, I’ll give them a taste of prome-”
Two impossibly sharp blades protruded from Beya’s chest and the marine went still. From behind him appeared a metal construct with a single glowing eye, an insect like body with a dozen mandibles, and a tapered tail which ended in a spike.
“Wraiths!” the Sergeant shouted, just as two more of his squad were eviscerated in equally as brutal a fashion. The blades seeming to pass through them like their armour wasn’t even there.
Arcanus has done his research on tomb guardians of course, and he knew wraiths were dangerous, but the suddenness with which they had struck and the complete lack of warning still surprised him. As the squad began to fire back, avenging their fallen comrades, many of the rounds simply passed through the wraiths as if they were ghosts.
The group of three wraiths were fully incorporeal as they slid towards the other squad members, ignoring all fire aimed at them. One of them slid it’s body, now seemingly solid again, around another marine, locking him in place. The marine fought with the wraith but struggled to fend off all it’s mandibles at once. After it took several chunks out of his armour the marine finally found an opening and lunged forward with his fist, aiming to crush the single eye socket. At that same moment however, a small pistol size weapon appeared from the wraith’s chest and fired a single blast into the marines faceplate. He died instantly.
Seeing another of his squad die and two more trying to grapple with one of the creatures together, he let out a roar of defiance and charged the nearest wraith. As he stormed forwards he measured his steps as the wraith noticed his approach. At the last second, as expected, the wraith turned solid again. It was at that same moment that the Sergeant quickly drew his bolt pistol and blasted the construct in the chest. A smouldering gaping hole appeared in the wraiths torso and it seemed to stumble. Not letting it regroup the Sergeant continued his charge and swung his power sword in a curving arc through its body. Apparently his first shot had damaged the wraiths ability to go incorporeal, because the sword connected and sheared clean through it’s torso, detaching it from its tail.
The squad let out a triumphant cheer and, now more familiar with their abilities, grouped up on and dispatched the other two wraiths. During this time Arcanus had been keeping very close to his servitor, but otherwise had remained calm. He wasn’t bothered about the marines that had died, that was what they were here for, to protect him. Instead he had spent the time cataloguing the wraiths abilities, in particular their ability to seemingly phase through solid matter at will. Intriguing.
As soon as the fight was over and there was nothing more to observe he said, “well fought Sergeant, but we must keep moving, the core is close”. There was no sympathy in his voice, just cold hard logic.
Lathrain turned his head towards the tech-priest, grateful of his faceplate that now concealed his annoyed expression. “In a moment Dominus, we must extract the gene-seeds of our fallen comrades.” He motioned to Anglos, the squad apothecary, who crouched by each marine with practised ease. His narthecium piercing their chests and extracted the precious chapter gene-seed while blessing each marine for their bravery and honourable death.
As he stepped away from the final marine he heard a scraping sound behind him. He turned and momentarily froze as the form of a wraith appeared below him, gaining height by the second as it repaired itself. He called out and raised his weapon, but it was too late, the wraith sliced right through his arm carrying his bolt pistol before inflicting several mortal wounds to his chest.
Stunned by what had just happened, the squad were almost undone by the other wraiths now reforming themselves. A few managed to raise their weapons but it would have been too late, if it hadn’t been for the servitor. Leveling it’s meltagun it fired a single blast into each wraith, melting their bodies into molten slag. Apparently their ability to turn incorporeal had yet to repair itself.
After standing for a few seconds in stunned silence, Sergeant Lethrain turned to the servitor and gave it a quick node of acknowledgement. With his head hung low he crouched by Anglos, thanking his friend of many battles for his brave sacrifice. He retrieved the narthecium. He had no training it its use, but at least the gene-seeds that had already been extracted would be saved.
Without saying another word he motioned for them to continue on and led the way deeper into the tomb. Arcanus fell into step behind him. He wouldn’t consider himself well versed in social conduct, but at that moment even he knew that it was better nothing was said.They continued down several tunnels without incident and finally emerged into a large central chamber. The centre of the room was dominated by a huge column made of the same dark material as every other surface, except this one was covered in green circuitry, much more dense than what had been covering the walls so far.
When Arcanus saw it he pushed past the Iron Warriors, no easy feat, and rushed towards the column.
“Dominus, we don’t know what-”
“Set up a perimeter Sergeant, this is our goal, I need time to study it”. Arcanus said cutting him off.
The Sergeant glared at him briefly but his tone had left no room for argument. “Squad, fan out and prepare for an assault, I have no doubt the filthy xenos constructs will be back.” The remaining marines took positions around the central column, covering the four entrances into the room.
**
“Intruders have breached the central chamber, augmented individual is attempting to interface with the core”.
Overlord Khensek had taken great pleasure in watching the intruders being cut to pieces, however they had proved too effective at dispatching the tomb guardians for his liking. Now they had breached the central chamber his fury knew no bounds.
“Any update on reanimating the legions.”
“Negative, all attempts to circumvent the invasive code have failed. Unable to reanimate.”
Khensek growled in frustration, “send the guardians again, all of them, I don’t care about losses I want those intruders dead!”
“Acknowledged, deploying guardians with Spyder escorts.”
**
The attack was as sudden as it had been previously, a swarm of scarab constructs assaulted the marines from all directions, but this time they were ready for them. Deploying smaller hand flamers the marines were able to drive the scarabs back and keep their numbers manageable, although there was no getting rid of them entirely.
In the shadows of the approach tunnels Sergeant Lethrain could see some larger constructs that were vaguely spider shaped. They seemed to be constantly producing more scarabs from their large rear sections. The Sergeant turned to Arcanus’s servitior and indicated the nearest spyder.
Nodding in return the servitor leveled it’s meltagun and fired. The blast took a large chunk out of the front section of the construct and it dropped to the floor. After waiting a few moments and keeping a close eye on it the Sergeant conceded that it was down permanently, apparently damaged beyond repair. Before he could order another strike on the remaining ones however, they retreated further into the tunnels and the wraiths returned.
Their position was now under full assault and the Sergeant wasn’t sure how long they could maintain it. “Dominus, this position…is not sustainable…we need to fall back”, Lethrain said over the vox. He kept pausing as he despatched yet more Necron constructs that fell upon them.
The Dominus ignored him. Somewhere in his mind he registered the recommendation and filed it for later consideration. His attention was elsewhere. His goal stood before him, the central core for the tomb complex. He had learned of its existence from pieced together data acquired from other failed incursions into different tombs. Success required preparation, and they had not been prepared, he was. He had successfully disrupted the reanimation protocols. The marines could cope with the artificial constructs, he took a moment to curse the blasphemy of their creation, and they wouldn’t be getting reinforced by actual Necrons.
Mentally he noted that he may have underestimated the fighting capabilities of the tomb guardians. He unconsciously ran a mechadendrite over the wound the scarab had caused, his body already working to repair the damage. It was inconsequential however, the Iron Hands and his servitor could handle the situation.
Connecting himself to the central core the tech priest began interfacing with the xenos systems. Dominus Arcanus had interfaced with plenty of xenos technology in his service to the Forge World Stygies VIII, but he had never encountered anything quite like this. He could barely follow the programming let alone fully understand its processes. His pride and joy, the Arcanus Protocol, which was stopping the Necrons from waking up, had taken him years to create using scraps of information and code.
As Arcanus swam through the channels of xenos data, the battle behind him raged on. Sergeant Lethrain crushed a scarab under his boot while firing several rounds from his bolter into the nearest wraith, the rounds simply passing through it. With an annoyed glare he assessed the situation and concluded it was suboptimal at best. There weren’t a lot of the wraiths or spyders, but they were extremely dangerous. He cursed the scarabs, crushing another in his fist and swatting one off the helmet of a fellow marine. There was no end to the creatures. What’s more, they seemed to be able to chew through any material given enough time, as he could see from the bite marks in his sacred ceramite.
The spyders seemed to be the source, at least the immediate one, so they had focused their fire on them, managing to bring a few down with the servitors help. The Sergeant glanced back at the tech priest, he seemed totally oblivious to the danger all around him while he was plugged into…whatever it was. Their squad was not equipped for heavy engagements, this was meant to have been be a quick in and out mission. It had turned into a nightmare.
Arcanus continued his work diligently, even as his servitor eviscerated a wraith who had got too close. Grinding it in two with its chain sword. The tech priest didn’t even notice, relying on his external sensors to alert him if there was a pressing threat.
As he got deeper into the core’s systems he began to understand a little more of what he was seeing, finding patterns where before it had seemed like random sequences. He had mapped the entire circuitry of the tomb now, but while that was immensely valuable, what he was really here for were the reanimation protocols. If he could successfully analyse a full copy of the program he was sure he could find a weakness and exploit it. Across the galaxy instead of thousands of millennia old tombs spewing fresh horrors onto the galaxy, they would have dormant tomb worlds, cursed to sleep forever. Instead of warriors repairing on the battlefield they would lay still and silent.
**
“Core tomb programming under threat”, the digital voice announced.
Overlord Khensek glowered at the feed from the core room. To add to the insult of their intrusion, a pathetic creature with some basic augmentations was accessing their systems.
“Enable lockdown protocol N23004, remove him from our system and destroy him”, the Overlord spat back.
**
Arcanus was slightly surprised that he had encountered no further countermeasures inside the system. Which was of course the moment one slammed into place. He wasn’t kidding about the slam either, the firewall that blocked his path felt in his mind like a gigantic iron door had suddenly closed in his face. He probed at the door but there was no way through. He cursed. Also, he became faintly aware of another program tracking him through the system, closing in on him. He sent an errant subroutine to deal with it.
No matter which angle he took towards the protocols he wanted, he couldn’t find a way in. It left him in a frustrating situation but he still had one option. The hack he had used to disabled those same protocols was essentially a wedge holding a programming loop open. While the loop was open the program would always fail to initialise, but it also gave him a way in. It came with a pretty big drawback though. Using the hack in that way would not only alert any monitoring systems to its location, giving them an opportunity to override it, but it would also give whatever that other program was that was hunting him an exact location to aim for. He checked, and yes as he had feared there was no trace of his counter subroutine and the program still lingered menacingly.
An alert from his sensors indicating a scarab was chewing at one of his cables made the decision for him. With a brief thought he destroyed that scarab with his mechadendrites and then dove in through the breach.
**
“Anomaly in reawakening protocols located. Intruder has gained access to reanimation protocols.”
The Overlord considered, that was both good and bad new. “Can you override the anomaly?”
“Affirmative”.
“Good, I want all units awake NOW!” There was no way this upstart group was going to escape his tomb world, especially now one had operational data from their core systems.
“Reanimation protocols enabled. Warning, additional data now available on Necron subjects, anomaly detected.”
His hands flew quickly over the controls and he scanned through the data.
“What now…No…NO! Confirm this anomaly is present in all subjects?”
“Confirmed”.
The Overlord slammed his hand onto the console in rage. “Very well, continue with the reanimation but prepare me a ship”. Despite his anger he couldn’t help but be slightly amused, “at least the intruders won’t be leaving here alive”. With that he turned and left the command console.
**
He was in. Arcanus didn’t waste any time however, he knew he was in a lot more danger now and he needed to be quick. As expected his hack had been bypassed, somewhat more quickly than he had anticipated but that couldn’t be helped. The tomb would now be waking up and he needed to leave sooner rather than later. He considered briefly sending a warning to the Iron Hands but decided against it for now, no need to make the Sergeant more agitated than he already was.
The sentry program was almost upon him. With as much mental speed as he could muster he made a full copy of the protocols and jacked out of the system. He was just in time. He managed to run an analysis on the program as it approached. His initial conclusions led him to believe if it had caught him he would have spent the rest of his life as little more use than a servo skull.
“Sergeant,” he voxed, “I have completed my mission, we should leave now.”
Arcanus couldn’t see the Sergeant’s faced but he thought he looked a little annoyed. He reasoned it could have been something to do with the hundreds of tiny bite marks that littered his armour. Scarabs. Another construct which needed further investigation.
“By your command Dominus. Squad, form up and clear a path, we’re leavi-”
He never finished his sentence. The Sergeant still stood, but protruding from his chest, were two sets of blades. Three blades in each set, razor sharp and covered in blood. As the blades slowly withdrew the Sergeant dropped to the floor. Dead.
In his place stood a Necron warrior, but this was no ordinary Necron warrior. It’s back was hunched low and it’s eyes glowed a hungry red. Instead of the usual hands it had claws with three fingers, fingers that extended into blades. It said one word. “Flleesssshhhhh”.
The word echoed in Arcanus’s mind. It had sounded so sickening and the Sergeant’s death had been so sudden. Where had it come from? It’s mere presence sent a chill down his spine. As he watched the Necron bent down and began to eviscerate the Sergeant, tearing away his ceramite armour as if it were nothing to get at the flesh beneath.
The squad had been stunned by the sudden death of their Sergeant, but now they roared defiance and charged his killer. Before they could avenge him however more of the flesh hungry Necrons appeared, seemingly crawling through cracks in reality itself. One part of Arcanus’s brain was logging the events for further study, but the majority of it was concerned with only one thing. Self preservation.
The Iron Hands squad was now fully engaged with the abominations, but his servitor still stood apart. With a quick command it grasped him in it’s powerful arms and bolted down a nearby passageway, leaving the marines to their fates. Arcanus received scattered vox messages, garbled amidst the slaughter, but blocked them out. He had to escape the tomb, he had to get the knowledge he had obtained back to the forge world. Just thinking about the praise he would receive and the glory that would follow spurred him on.
Once they were out of immediate danger he ordered the servitor to put him down. Once stable, he accessed the data he had retrieved from the core, the layout of circuitry for the whole complex. The good news was he knew where there were and where the exit was, the bad news was those two locations were a significant distance away from each other. There was no time to lose however, even now he could hear the distant sound of claws scraping against metal getting ever closer.
Engaging an overdrive function in his artificial legs, he and the servitor took off at some speed towards the exit. He marvelled at the Necron tunnels as he passed through them, the Necrodermis construction was flawless, even after eons spend underground. Not a crack or misshapen wall panel was to be found anywhere. They bounded through the perfect tunnels, turning left then right, then right again, slowly but surely heading towards the exit.
Arcanus made a sharp right turn and stopped dead. There was a wall. There shouldn’t have been a wall but there was. He consulted his map again and confirmed that this should be been a tunnel, the circuitry led this way…he cursed himself. Looking up to the roof of the tunnel he saw the Necron circuitry running through the metal…and straight through the wall in front of them. Just because circuitry ran this way didn’t necessarily mean it was a passable tunnel. Slightly annoyed he reconfigured his map and turned to try a different direction.
He froze. Standing in front of him, no more than five feet away, were three of the Necron abominations. For a moment they didn’t move, and then slowly, dragging their claws on the floor, they moved towards him. Panic almost kicked in but Arcanus suppressed the response and instead sent a command to his servitor. Kill.
With astounding speed the servitor charged forward, firing it’s meltagun as it went. It took one down, melting it into slag, before another sliced cleanly through the barrel with one of it’s claws. The sevitor parried other blows, his chainsword whirling, and the whole scene descended into a whirling maelstrom. The servitor seemed to be holding his own, he’d taken a few chunks out of one Necron and it seemed to be slowing, but the other came on strong. The servitor itself had taken damage but Arcanus could see on a readout that it was still very much combat capable…he just couldn’t be sure for how much longer.
Knowing this was the only chance he would get he shoved another burst of energy into his legs and bound over the fight. Without looking back he set off down another tunnel, determined not to be caught by one of those things. Before much longer he saw the readout for his servitor go dead. It didn’t matter, he was nearly out. By his calculations the exit was right around the next corner, and then he could head back through the mine to their dropship and be safely in orbit in no time.
He was so distracted by thoughts of impending safety that he almost didn’t see the beings crawling out of cracks in reality right in front of the exit. As he did, he ground to a halt, his mechanical legs gripping the floor tightly, not wanting to get any closer to them. Stood in front of him, with more appearing each second, were an expanding horde of Necron abominations. They looked different though, and it took him a second to realise why. Instead of their clean metallic bodies they had some sort of material draped over them. His optical sensors locked onto it and began to scan, when the result finally returned he was horrified. Despite his augmented stomach he was sure he was going to throw up.
It was skin. Human skin. Freshly cut off the corpses of the space marines he had left behind. Blood could still be seen dripping off it. Not only that but his sensors had managed to identify several markings, and the skin worn by the lead Necron was that of Sergeant Lethrain. It was blasphemy of the highest order, but the logical part of his mind, which was barely functioning at this point, told him that judging these creatures could come later. Right now he had to escape.
They were still a way off him and advancing slowly, so he began to fire. He drew out every weapon at his disposal, withdrawn from hidden caches all over his body. All in all both his arms and all four of his mechandrites carried a gun, ranging from a single bolter and bolt pistol, to alien weaponry of smaller but just as deadly nature. He wouldn’t have revealed those weapons if the situation wasn’t desperate, knowing full well the penalty for using xenos tech.
It certainly had an effect, and the lead Necron disintegrated in a hail of firepower. Others followed and he slowly began to carve a path through them. He voxed to the dropship, hoping the marines guarding it could come and help him clear the entrance, but he just got static. He was still too far underground to get a clear signal. Gritting his teeth he knew it was now or never as some of his guns began to run dry. He dashed forward and aimed for the hole he had made in the horde.
Four of his guns were aimed forwards, keeping the hole open, while two others swept his flanks, keeping any Necrons from getting too close as he waded through the horde. As he reached about half way through the horde, right flank gun ran dry. He tossed it and re-directed another gun to that side. After a few more seconds he broke through the bulk of the horde and managed to escape the tomb entrance.
It was at this moment that he finally received a transmission from the dropship, albeit a short one, still slightly garbled. “Domi-…..position under attack…….can’t hold…..must leave”.
The news that the abominations were also attacking the transport didn’t bode well, but at least they were still there, for now anyway. Unfortunately the transmission had distracted him and one of the Necrons, reaching surprisingly high, managed to slice off a mechandrite still holding a weapon. Cursing he used the amputated limb as a club instead, bashing Necrons away that came too close.
He was in trouble though, as his ammo ran dry he was down to only two weapons remaining. Now he was in the mine itself the Necrons weren’t nearly as thick, but they kept coming. He had almost reached the top level when a necron who, as was becoming the norm, had appeared from nowhere, thrust a claw in from his left that caught him in the chest, drawing blood and cutting some cabling. Arcanus groaned at the pain but pushed himself on, dispatching the perpetrator even as his last guns ran dry.
With a supreme effort and amid a torrent of flailing mechandrite limbs, he burst his way free of the mine and into the open air, several Necrons in various states of disrepair closing in on him. He knew he had no time to stop and rest, but he took a moment to savour being out of that accursed tomb.
At that very same moment, as he looked out across the landscape before him, a fireball burst into the air and he heard the sound of an explosion. Despair overtook him, there was only one thing that could be, the dropship. It was gone, destroyed by a swarm even larger than the one he had passed through. He could see them now, shambling their way towards the mine entrance, their previous prey dispatched.
It was over, there was no escape now. There was no way he could escape the two swarms beginning to surround him, no way their ship in orbit could send anyone down to help. He tried contacting them anyway and laughed, all he got was static. Heavy atmosphere. Letting the sound continue to play in his head he disabled his physical pain responses and lay back on the ground. As the slashing blades closed in around him, and the emotionless faces of the Necron abominations towered over him, he just smiled. Thinking of what would have awaited him if he had made it back to the forge world, and replaying that simulation over and over again in his head. Piece by piece he was torn apart, the metal parts discarded and the flesh added to their ever growing collection. And finally, as his heart stopped beating, Dominus Arcanus of Forge World Stygies VIII lay still.
**
– – Tomb Cleansed – –
**

 

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