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Raoul had been conscious for some time now, but had hidden the fact well. He had betrayed nothing when he had been moved from the accursed Red Marines' flagship to a strike cruiser, and finally to this building on Blodsburg itself.

But he was running out of time. Now the Inquisitor he had heard called Asheron had been joined by other psykers more adept at sifting the contents of a man's brain. He could only hide from them for so long before he was found out, and gave it all up, willing or not.

Raoul had a plan, but he needed a diversion, a time to strike where he had some reasonable change of escaping. So he had waited, enduring the mind probes for ten full days. Then an opportunity presented itself. From beyond the interrogation room that had been his home came the sounds of gunfire and shouting, and there was a crash as if the door had been flung open. "Inquisitor Asheron, we're under attack!"

Raoul briefly thought the speaker didn't believe what he was saying, then pushed aside self doubt and struck out at Asheron with his mind. There was a shriek of surprise and a thud as Asheron was flung back by the force of his attack, and Raoul's eyes snapped open for the first time in a month, taking in the scenery briefly.

Asheron was still on the floor, but in the open door another Inquisitor was standing, mouth open, as Raoul sat upright. His reflexes were good despite his shock, and the Inquisitor reached for a holstered pistol at his waist. Raoul fired another mental bolt which flung the inquisitor back out the door to lie slumped and still against the far wall.

Looking down and around Raoul found he was robed in an ugly orange hospital gown and plastered with leads which led back to various medical monitoring devices. His left arm ended at the elbow, swathed in bandages that barely protruded from the gown's short sleeves. Cursing, Raoul was still trying to remove the various monitors with one hand when the sound of many running feet and shouts came from the hall. Tearing the rest of the leads free carelessly he pounced on Asheron's fallen body, taking her pistol. He only briefly thought about how nice it would be to take her too when a horde of crazed looking men burst into the room, then suddenly stopped at the sight of the pistol leveled at them. The mob surged as they were pushed by those in the rear who could not see, but some sense of self-preservation among those in the front rank allowed them to keep the rest back.

One of the lead men spoke, "My Lord! Fear not, we have come to rescue thee!"

"Who the Eye are you?" Raoul asked in a voice raspy with disuse, and considered shooting him anyway.

"We are servants of His cult here on Blodsburg. We are rescuing you as He commanded. Come Lord, put down your gun, we must move quickly or our enemies will be upon us." The man spoke quickly, in a loud passionate voice that was clearly meant to carry to the crowd in the hall.

They responded in an encouraging fashion, shouting, "Schwartzchilde, Schwartzchilde, Schwartzchilde!" in a loud, raucous fashion.

Raoul took some comfort in this, and lowered his gun, "Well, what are you waiting for, lets go."

The horde parted and Raoul and their leader hurried through, "This way lord."

Raoul was still weak, but his enhanced muscles allowed him to easily keep pace with the cultists as they tore back through the corridors of the building, cutting down anyone who got in their way with an assortment of makeshift weapons. As they burst out of the building he saw it was surrounded by a sea of bodies, all shouting and shaking their fists in the air. Fortunately they too were shouting his name, and they parted as his small party moved forward.

Hands reached out to touch him as they passed, "Where are you taking me?" He shouted over the roar of the mob.

The leader of his rescue party shouted back, "The teleport station, a ship is coming for you!"

Raoul doubled his pace, "What are you waiting for then, let's go." The crowd was making him nervous, he might be crazy he conceded briefly, but these people were absolutely nuts. His opinion was confirmed as cultists began leaping from the roof of building onto the comrades below shouting the names of their favourite Lord of Chaos. Another poignant moment occurred when one of the outliers in the mob managed to immolate himself with Tzeentch's flame.

But he was clear, and they made it to the teleport station without being challenged by any Imperial forces. The doors quickly succumbed to the assault of the cultists who had led him here, and they were in, sweeping aside everyone foolish enough to get in their way.

Raoul sighed with relief as he stepped onto the teleport pad, and then saw the cult leader fiddling with the controls. "Careful there, don't want to end up inside out."

"Have no fear." The leader made a sign of Khorne and said, "Hellsreign awaits you!"

"What?" But Raoul was too late, the button was pushed and he felt everything shimmer and shake, finally finding himself on another transport pad. He did a quick once over, and saw that everything appeared to be where it should be, apart from his forearm. A pair of marines sporting Marks of Khorne on their power armour were waiting beside the cultist manning the controls, and as one stepped forward, taking Raoul roughly by the upper arms.

"Nice dress." One said, and then they dragged him out of the room.

"Let me go damn you," Raoul shouted, and struggled, but in his weakened state he was unable to break free.

The marines said nothing, merely dragged him through unfamiliar corridors. Raoul knew Kobb had neither the brains nor the initiative to try something like this, and wondered who had arranged a coup while he was captured. As he passed more and more familiar faces he began to wonder if he was even on one of his own ships at all. Then they were on the bridge, and he was sure. The Chaos Lord in the command seat gave him a look that Raoul would have sworn was dripping with disdain, "Strap Schwartzchilde down, things are going to get hairy any second now.

The tactical played out the situation clearly enough for Raoul to see what was going on, a massive Chaos fleet of cruisers was bearing down on Blodsburg, a lone light cruiser the only thing that stood between them and the planet.

A few Imperial escorts could be seen fleeing from behind the planet, and there was damned little else in the way of Imperial opposition to be seen.

"Well Schwartzchilde, see how Hellsreign gets things done for the Eye of Chaos. Helm, full speed ahead!"

Raoul briefly thought, `Gloating bastard,' but chose to say, "Well it sure looks like that defenseless planet is going to put up a hell of a fight."

"Shut him up!" The lord shouted, and one of the marines clapped a gauntleted hand over Raoul's mouth. The fleet opened fire on the light cruiser, shots striking home from long range on its fragile hull. Then the cruiser streaked over the horizon and was out of sight.

The rest of the fleet's sporadic fire picked off a few of the fleeing escorts as they closed on Blodsburg, closer and closer. Then a squadron of Adeptus Astartes strike cruisers burst onto the tactical plot, three ships coming out of the planets shadow. "Where in the Eye did they come from?" The captain shouted. The strike cruiser's guns blazed away, shots striking into the forward elements of the Chaos fleet, and a flurry of gunships from their bays blew some of the fleet's escorts away.

`That was damned brave,' Raoul thought, `but foolish.' Then warning klaxons started to sound. While the fleet's attention had been focused on the strike cruiser's audacious attack, Imperial forces had struck from the flanks. "Brace for impact!" the captain shouted as a massive wave of torpedoes headed right for the ship, bursting through their defenses. The ship shuddered as one torpedo after another struck home, and the captain called out over the fleet comm after the damage reports had come in, "This is the Murdered Innocence, we're crippled."

Raoul smiled under the restraining hand, `that'll teach the pompous bastard." Then the ship groaned and he quickly looked for the nearest escape hatch.

More and more reports were coming in from the fleet of damage from two flanking Imperial squadrons. The fleet returned fire on the strike cruisers ahead, shots hitting the heavily armoured ships to little effect. Finally a few ships got some fire through, and one of the strike cruisers disengaged. The other two bore in fast and hard, heading right for the Murdered Innocence. "Oh bugger," the captain shouted, "stand by to receive boarders."

The two ships slammed into the Murdered Innocence with a thunderclap that rang through the hull, and almost immediately reports came of marines boarding in force.

One after another the defending parties dropped off the comm, and bulkhead readouts showed fixed defenses being breached. "How in the Eye are they cutting through us so quickly, our defenses are better than that?"

Raoul barely had time to consider the same thing before a blast shook the bridge doors, and out of the smoke red and white clad marines burst into the room, firing as they came. `Of course it's them,' Raoul thought, then his two guards went down to bolter fire, the exploding shells stunning him. The captain was restrained by a squad of marines, but he was shouting curses and imprecations at his captors, "You'll pay for this you bastard spawn of the false emperor."

A cloaked marine had just stepped onto the bridge, surrounded by guards, and said "Tell me one I haven't heard before." He walked calmly over to where Raoul was seated, "Raoul Schwartzchilde I presume?"

Raoul nodded.

"Nice dress." The marine's guard's laughed, and then helped Raoul to his feet as the officer continued, "We'll be getting you back to the Ruthless now…" His hand went to his earpiece, "Damn!" He shouted, "the Remorseless just blew! A-squad, form a prize crew, and get this ship out of here, B and C, you're with me, we've got to get the prisoners back to the Ruthless."

They made quick time through the corridors, Raoul being dragged along as they went. Then they were on another ship, and there was a clang as the boarding grapples broke free. Then the officer put his hand to his ear again, and leaned back against the lock, sighing in relief, "The chaos fleet just disengaged brothers, good work."

The marines cheered and patted each other on the back, and the officer once more listened to his comm, "Take the captain to the brig, I've got Schwartzchilde."

The trod the pristine corridors of the strike cruiser, and Raoul nerved himself up, and said, "How did you get through the Innocence's defenses so quickly?"

The officer laughed, "Thank your sister-in-law, she's been most co-operative."

"Bitch." Was all Raoul could say.

Korvus 21:56, 9 February 2008 (UTC) Nicholas Cioran

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