This was supposed to be simple, just retrieve some stolen xeno artifacts. Perhaps I’ve bitten off more than I can chew…or so the saying goes, I believe.
After what felt like an eternity, the shower of fragmented rockcrete began to settle. My blurred vision focused on the miniature clouds of dust forming from each ragged breath that escaped my lungs. Beyond the constant ringing in my ears, I could hear what sounded like the frantic shouts of my comrades. I didn’t want to answer them, to try and push myself back to my feet once more. I felt safe here on the ground. Perhaps I was dying?
No…no I can’t die here.
I attempted to rise up, only to be held at bay beneath a large slab of stone. Firing a rocket inside a building, what sense do these creatures have? I called out several times before I felt an icy hand on my shoulder. The psyker seemed more annoyed than anything. “ On your feet, holy man ,” he said while effortlessly discarding my impediment. His strength was completely unnatural, merely viewing it elicited a prayer from my lips. I made to thank him, but a renewed torrent of gunfire assailed our position. No time to get my bearings. I scrambled to my feet and made it but a few steps before taking the Emperor’s name in vain. Contrary to every ounce of self-preservation I possessed, I wheeled about and grasped for my fallen gun. My good eye instinctively closed as the air around my head was disturbed by passing bullets.
Nearly frozen by fear for the second time in as many minutes, I felt out for the ornate wooden grip of my pistol. The firearm had been an entirely ceremonial piece, gifted to me by a fellow member of the cloth in my “old life”. As he put it, a weapon of righteous fury that had seen duty on one battlefield or another from the founding of the Calixis Sector. The assassin had told me some days ago my weapon was my life now, that without it I was less than nothing. I think I finally understood what he meant. As I slid the weighty sidearm across the loose gravel towards me, I experienced a renewed courage. The light of the Emperor filled me from within, and I felt no fear.
“Your deaths…the Lord of All wills it!,” I shouted while rising to my feet.
I could make out several shifting shapes at the end of the hallway. I raised my arm and leveled the gun as I had been instructed years ago at the Schola, my aim falling upon one that was particularly grotesque. A trio of bullets kicked up the dust at my feet, another grazed my cheek. Whispering a prayer of guidance, I steadied my hand and slowly squeezed the trigger. The resulting roar from the cannon I held was as if lightning had struck the ground in front of me. Had I thought to use both hands I might have saved my wrist from the bone crunching recoil. The bolt shell flew true enough, despite my own inadequacies as a marksman. The explosive projectile struck its target center mass and released a torrent of bloody gore upon his comrades.
Cradling my broken wrist, I couldn’t help but smirk at my own success. Dorn yelled at me from around a corner three meters back, “Great shootin’ kid…but maybe you should get your ass to cover?!” I snapped back to reality just as the freaks opened fire once more. The old man laid down covering fire and Siinter pulled me to safety, already busy tending to my injury. Tucking the gun into the crook of my injured arm, I cracked the breach to load a new shell. My allies prepared for our renewed onslaught, and I called out around the bend..
“Lay down your arms and surrender, so that you might receive the Emperor’s mercy!”
I couldn’t understand their terse response, no matter. I snapped the gun barrel back into place and found myself smirking once more.