An Imperial Duty
Author: Ash's Boomstick
Summary: Yet Another Halloween Fic, a darker night than usual for the two of the denizens of Sunnydale.
Spoilers: The Halloween ep, the Gaunts Ghosts Novels and the 13th Crusade campaign
Dedications: Jon Johnno and Jamie... seems the remaining BTVS writers I know have something in common.
NOTICE: THIS STORY MAY BE DISTRIBUTED FREE OF CHARGE BUT MUST NOT BE SOLD OR EXCHANGED FOR FINANCIAL RETURN IN ANY FORM.
The full disclaimer will be located at the end of this story. However, be it known that I own nothing and expect to get nothing because the rights are owned by others. Only certain characters and technologies are mine and these are the creation of the author who is solely responsible for them as such. Neither Studio is responsible for the content of this story.
THIS STATEMENT MUST ACCOMPANY THE STORY 'AN IMPERIAL DUTY' IF DISTRIBUTED. THIS STORY IS FREE OF CHARGE AND MAY NOT BE SOLD OR EXCHANGED FOR FINANCIAL RETURN IN ANY FORM. THIS DEDICATION MUST ACCOMPANY ANY DISTRUBUTION OF THIS STORY. An Imperial Duty.
Alexander ‘Two Tone’ Harris stood on the street of some unknown set of domiciles. The construction was unlike anything he had seen whilst fighting along the other guard units at Vervenhive even the towns of long gone Tanith had been spaced out and more homely than the sterile duplicates that made up the township around him.
“What the Feth is going on?” He whispered to himself, the roads were clear of debris, hell there was grass and flowers in small plots next to every one of these habitations. No smoke in the air, no sounds of combat, no smell of charred bodies and fetid chaos emissions from the bodies of those slain by his team since the siege began. Slamming his hand to his ear he activated the tiny earbead attached to his helmet, a crackle of static almost pierced his eardrum before he could wrench off the offending device. Bringing the microphone back up to his ear he tried to break through the static, “This is Sgt Harris of the Tanith third platoon to any Imperial personnel in range are you receiving me, I repeat this is Sgt Harris of Third Platoon Tanith First and Only to anyone on this frequency, I am cut off from my unit and am caught outside of the hive. Come in anyone.”
He awaited a response he was more than sure was to come through, no planet within the Imperium would be unable to pick up his transmission, minutes ticked by as he stared up and down the empty street still awaiting something, anything from another unit but as he waited his spirit’s dropped until he simply stood up and replaced his earpiece. He was a guardsman by the Emperor and he would continue to do his job to the best of his ability, hefting his lasrifle the veteran of the battles of Tanith, Fortis Binary and Vervanhive stomped his way through the streets of this unknown world and unknown place to do honour to his world, his regiment, his Colonel and his Emperor.
Within a mere minute he was accosted by two large growling xenos facing him after he had inadvertently interrupted their taunting of a number of human women in fancy clothing, uncaring of who or what these things were Sgt Harris brought his lasrifle up in a swinging arc sending bolts of coherent energy into the bodies of both creatures. The ancient and holiest of weapons belonging to the regiments of the guard simply vaporised the majority of the snarling chaos spawn turning what little remained into chunks of flesh which rapidly turned to dust.
“Ok that’s never happened before.” Harris looked over the dust that had been flaming chunks of flesh, his weapon had never been that powerful against anything short of a snotling or a walking skeleton. Shrugging he approached the throng of screaming, trembling women, their faces pale as they struggled with what they'd just seen.. “It’s ok they’re gone, are you all alright?”
“I... what were they? Who are you?”
“Me I’m just a loyal imperial guardsman, those filth were things brought to life by the evil of Chaos. They can’t hurt you anymore.” He looked them over and yanking off his backpack he found the majority of his belongings were missing from the inventory. “The supply guy is gonna kill me.” he whispered to himself.
“I need to check the three of you for injuries just to be on the safe side, alright.” Pulling out his sleeping bag and his blanket he pulled his straight silver from its pouch and sliced through the stitching holding the small bag together. “Yep I’ve had it when I get back.”
He offered the two squares of fabric to the three girls to keep them warm while he checked them over for injuries, his first aid kit was out and ready for use before he had finished checking the first one. A quarter of small punctures were evident on the girl’s pale forearm most likely from where she had been grabbed by one of the chaos spawn, oddly there seemed to be no contaminants from the injury as he had seen time and again, but he knew that he was risking a lot on simple faith.
“It’s not so bad, let me look over your friends and we’ll try to get you to the nearest shelter as soon as possible ok?”
“Ok, thank you.”
“It’s why we’re here to make sure that none of you are taken by creatures like that.” He smiled gently, looking over the other two girls he found one with a deep scratch where she may have fallen into something the other was simply bruised after being manhandled. He slipped a hand into his first aid kit giving each of them a pill from the comprehensive pharmacy that Doc Dorden had insisted each of the platoons kept on them. “This is just a pain remedy and anti biotic, it’ll keep you from making your injuries worse.”
“I don’t know why you are helping us, but...”
“Hush it’s ok”, Xander said before handing the girl the last of the pills allowing their powerful cocktails of chemicals to work their magic, silently he whispered a prayer for her before looking up and smiling at the girl, as she smiled back she dipped slightly before passing our unconscious on the floor. He friends likewise did the sane, each slipping to the ground as Two-Tone eased them down.
“The emperor protects.” He whispered, pulling his autopistol from his holster he made the sign of the Aquila over each as he pit two rounds into each, one to the head and one to the heart. Holstering his gun and withdrawing his blankets from their prone bodies, he silently placed the bodies in a protective position to keep them safe until the Emperor could take them home. “Fething Chaos.”
Standing up the infantryman spat on the ashes of the two chaos spawn he had destroyed, angrily he stomped off into the night determined to make sure than none of the other denizens of this town would have to suffer the pain of Chaos as he had seen that night. Already he could see hundreds of small creatures inhuman in aspect and a lesser number of larger beings running around. Reaching down to his rifle he checked the gun’s energy indicator, the half dozen rounds he had already used should barely have touched it. Oddly the indicator still read full, unwilling to risk a faulty power pack he ejected it and replaced it with a new one as he silently walked through the shadows.
One particularly large dog-faced creature was chasing a human/feline hybrid of some form coloured with spots across her body, snapping up his rifle Two-Tone send a salvo of bolts into the dog creature blasting through its flesh and shattering its internal organs boiling them away. The feline creature screamed and went head over heels as she hit the floor skidding to a stop mere meters from the dead creature, steam still rising from its corpse she shuddered and looked towards the shadows where the shots had come from.
“It’s a costume.” Two-Tone narrowed his eyes as he scanned the girl, a massive rip in the side of the costume showing human flesh underneath. Eyes widened as he realised what she was. “She’s wearing a fething costume, does she seriously want to die out here?”
Shifting back into the shadows the Tanith guardsman leapt over a low roof before landing silently on another of the plant filled squares in front of another building, if she had been human but the other wasn’t then the entire town was overcome with Chaos creatures. He should have removed the girl from the area by force or by the barrel of his rifle, yet he had been almost unnerved by the idea. Slinging his riddle he pulled out and reloaded his auto- pistol, the smaller weapon would cripple the foul and weak enemy creatures before he was forced to dispatch them, the problem of course being that he would sooner or later run out of rounds.
He could only hope that before that happened that the closest guard unit could find and assist him, the fact he had a few more salvaged magazines for both weapons from the dead guard at the hive allowed him to continue on. The extra grenades and ammunition were riding deep in his pack until he needed them, with forty rounds for the pistol and more than three hundred left for the rifle he didn’t need to be too pragmatic about what he removed from the face of the planet. If the worst came to worst he had a few more tricks in his cloak and up his sleeves to take down the lesser daemons that seemed to be taking over that night. A scream came from the side as he watched a redheaded woman running down the road in clothes that no woman of his world would be caught in alive or dead.
A blast from his rifle stopped the disfigured creature that was running almost next to her turning him to dust before dropping back and taking out two more of the figures that came up behind them. Turning away from the scene Xander retraced his steps and appeared in what could only be considered as hell on Tanith, larger and more populated than the smaller roads he had found himself in allowed more places for him to hide and take out targets of opportunity. However as he watched he could see that many of the creatures wouldn’t be easy to take out, civilians and a truly huge number of the smaller chaos spawn were milling around trying to escape or to kill their targets.
Laying prone on the floor he began methodically checking every one of the Chaos spawn faces, as he had feared a number were simply humans in disguises or costumes. If he had simply begun shooting them down he could have killed a good many innocent humans caught in the crossfire and that was something that the Colonel would have been more then unhappy about. What he wasn’t expecting however was the muted chatter of a weapon from the other end of the street; two of the more grotesquely mutated daemons were blown apart as high explosive shells took them apart sending flesh and entrails raining across the tarmac causing human and daemon alike to scatter from the incoming fire.
A few of the braver types ran towards the shadowy figure their number cut down by the high velocity projectiles, several more joined them as Two-Tone’s own weapon shot out burning down more of the Chaos demons as they closed with the cloaked figure. Deciding that their losses were no longer worth it the demons turned and ran, two more of their number falling to accurate fire.
Slipping from the shadows Two-Tone hefted his rifle and kept a bead on the unknown figure, stepping into the diffused light of the street lamps the Guardsman ordered the other man to drop his weapon and to come out into the street. Out of everything he had expected he was more than surprised at the uniformed figure that stepped into the light.
“Commissar Sir.” The Sgt immediately came to attention as the official strode out his bolt pistol smoking slightly, “I didn’t realise that there were other guard personnel in this area.”
“At ease Sgt, you only did as your training told you to.” The Commissar slipped a new magazine into the receiver of his pistol, “I don’t know where we are or how we got here but I haven’t found any other Guard units, Astartes or Planetary Defence Personnel since I arrived.”
“Begging pardon Sir.” The Commissar nodded as the Non-Com spoke up, “But there were no Astartes and no other surviving Commissars with us at Vervunhive, when did they arrive?”
“Vervunhive? Sgt this should be Cadia, the thirteenth Crusade is making itself known.” The official looked up at the sky, “However there is no way that the sky would be so clear this close to the Eye or to any of the cities on that world, where is this Hive world you should be stationed at?”
“Sabbat Worlds Sir, the Tanith have been sequestered to the Crusade under the command of Colonel-Commissar Gaunt.”
“The Sabbat Crusade ended many years ago Sgt, the year is 999M41.”
“That can’t be possible Sir... I mean I understand that you believe this sir but we were barely holding the Hive when I somehow ended up here.”
“Take heart Guardsman.” The Commissar spoke up, “The Sabbat Sector was freed to a world within one hundred years, the losses that you witnessed allowed for a great many of the Emperor’s children to be brought back to the fold. Chaos was driven out of the hearts and minds through fire and ash, those that refused to were cleansed to a man.”
“I understand Sir.” Alexander stood up straighter, “What are your orders.”
“We continue to remove the Chaos infestation for as long as we possibly can, we search for other Guardsmen and allies that may be of use. Then we find out what brought us here and why, the very smell of this place is the reek of Chaos.”
The two imperials walked from the shadows back into the lit streets weapons loaded and tracking anything that moved, the Commissar kept one eye on the surroundings and one on his compatriot. A guardsman out of his own time and one of a relatively infamous unit known to the Commissariat should be watched closely, unlike he and his brethren the guardsmen were ill equipped to deal with the kinds of damage that chaos could cause the fragile human mind.
His careful eye watched as the Sergeant scanned the area professionally but looked ill at ease as his rifle barrel went from side to side, his grip on the weapon strangely hesitant for an experienced and capable NCO.
“Sgt, I would require an answer from you."
“As best I can Sir.”
“You seem to be somewhat uncomfortable with your weapon, Why.” It wasn’t a question more than an order.
Xander’s grip tightened on the barrel and stock of his weapon before becoming looser, he hadn’t realised that he was physically showing his wariness of his ancient weapon and in front of a commissar something like that could be very bad for his prospects up to and included continuing to breath the foul air of this odd world.
“My apologies Commissar.”
“Apologies accepted, now explain.”
“Sir I arrived in this place with four fully charged packs for my rifle, I still have four fully charged packs.”
“I can’t sir, I know I have shot more than fifty chaos filth throughout the night but I have found each pack I use to stay fully charged no matter the number of shots I fire.” Xander offered his rifle to the Commissar, “This pack I have fire at least forty from the other around ten, both seem to be constantly topping themselves up, I don’t know how or why but I am wary because this place is teeming with chaos magic.”
“I believe I understand Sgt.” He handed the weapon back, “You are to keep hold of the rifle until such time that it causes harm to yourself or becomes a risk to our mission. At that time we will see what is to be done, we are far from resupply or reinforcement and a single bolter and autopistol will be hard pressed to continue our work.”
“Very well Sir.” Two-Tone accepted his order and gripped his weapon as a true guardsman is taught and continue walking through the street his sharp eyes checking every shadow as if a chaos daemon was hiding. Five more of the oddly easy to kill creatures burst into dust as a bolt round or laser bolt blew holes through their chests annihilating their hearts and disrupting the chaos magic holding them together. Stopping to change his weapon’s magazine the Commissar looked over the area, there were conspicuously few people in the local area especially for the time of night.
“This is too easy.” Two Tone looked around, “Commissar, this is too easy. If there had been a chaos incursion of any real size then the entire town would be crawling with spawn and feth knows what else. The sky is clear, the plants are green and there are a lot more dead daemons that humans around here, I’m not feeling chaos in the air nor anything else except a calm night.”
He caught the look the other man gave him, “Spend enough time on the front lines against infestations and you begin to get a feeling in the air when something like a Chaos tear opens up. I’m no psyker Commissar just someone that has spent far too long alongside his brothers on corrupted planets.”
“I hope you are right guardsman...”
“Sir if I ever become chaos tainted I would expect to be executed as fast as possible, I hope that you would feel the same.”
“If I was to even believe I was tainted Sgt then I would have ordered you to kill me long ago, fortunately I believe you are right and there is something odd going on here. The township is too quiet and there are too few people around here get a grasp on whether or not this town has a chaos infestation.” The Commissar replied, “I think it’s time for us to find a way back to our lines or to contact someone offworld.”
“If this world is even capable of that Sir, something about this planet seems ‘off’ sir, I’ve never seen these stars before at least not in this configuration. The closest I think I’ve even seen is in the star maps of Segmentum Solar, there’s a few constellations that I recognise but nothing I can confirm.”
“You read star charts Guardsman?”
“Not very often Sir, there were a number of them at a chaos horde we cleared out. I have a holo-memory allows me to remember some things especially texts and pictures, it’s also why I volunteer for some of these mission Commissar. If I’m to see something that infects me somehow I wish to be dead very quickly afterwards, its only the total memorisation of the uplifting primer that has kept me sane through all this time. The Emperor truly protects me.”
“To be honest Sir, I don’t. It’s as if entire parts of my memory are false, I don’t have any memory of seeing Chaos sigils or Imperial prayers outside of what I carry on me. I am concerned that something has happened to me while I have been here.”
“Until such time as we are able to leave this world and meet up with other guard units you and I are all that remain between the forces of Chaos and the people of this world. Once we have returned to the fleet we shall have you checked by the Inquisition, if you are still loyal and honourable then you shall be returned to the Tanith, if not you will stay with my retinue to be on safe side.”
“I am yours to command Commissar.”
“Then let’s get to the bottom of this heresy and find out what brought us here, whoever is responsible for this will find the Emperor’s mercy to be their own recourse.”
For much of the night the two Imperial soldiers continued their fight, dozens of the strange creatures that turned to dust dad attacked and been dispatched by the flash of lasgun and bolter pistol. Several other larger monsters were destroyed the same way hearts and heads destroyed
Xander fell backwards as he was backhanded by the bleach blond former human, apparently the chaos forces had managed to infiltrate large numbers of some kind of cultist within the boundaries of this small town. Rolling with the hit he bounced off the floor and back onto his knees as he slid, his rifle had come loose and clattered to the other side of the road. Unable to draw his autopistol in time he pulled the only weapon that he still had the time to get his hands on.
The straight silver slid from its sheath on his arm whipping around in his allowing Two-Tone to get a slice in across the arm of the traitor, the ‘man’ recoiled with a scream as the razor-sharp blade cut through flesh and muscle even scoring through the bone. The blond pulled backwards as his arm began to smoke and catch fire, the sharpened and very strong metal separating the flesh as it moved through. Not giving the chaos creature time to put out the odd fire the guardsman plunged the knife into its head twisting as he pulled it out, its brains turned to mush and aflame it took only seconds for the demonic thing to burst into dust.
Screaming in rage another of the daemons jumped at the two imperials crying a name of some kind only to impale herself on the Commissar's chainsword the teeth shrieking as they cut through the former woman much like the other smoking and aflame before turning to dust. Not stopping for a moment the two men regained their weapons blasting daemon after daemon into ash or chunks of flesh, one horrendously malformed creature skin drooping from his flesh managed to escape by jumping over a wall and running for his life.
"At ease Sgt, we can't always get them all no matter how much we wish to." The Officer replaced his magazine again, "I'm afraid that I haven't been as honest with you as I wish I had been."
"I arrived with a chainsword and bolt pistol, I have fired my gun in excess of seventy times which is the number of rounds that I carry with me at all times. I currently have in my possession seventy rounds."
Harris narrowed his eyes, the fact that both their sets of weapons were still fully operational with ammunition meant that something or someone may be causing them to believe what they are seeing or they were being assisted from outside.
"My weapons are still useful against the Chaos creatures Sir, my blade is honed and true as is my pistol and my rifle, they are mine to use in the glory of the God-Emperor and will continue to do so. If something of the deviant was causing the continued charge of my weapon then it would cease to work as it has, I believe beyond anything that he watches upon us and is helping us in our mission."
"I hope you are right Sgt otherwise we could be heading for something far worse than we realise."
"So do I Sir."
One more hour passed for the two men as they continued their hunt for the demonic forces of Chaos, executing monsters as they approached and sending those that would be infected by the filth of those that had attacked them to their reward at the left hand of the Emperor. The Commissar reached for his sword as his pistol clicked empty swinging it with all his might at the oncoming blood drinking daemons that seemed to make up the majority of the creatures they had faced.
Swinging through the necks of the creatures the weapon stopped moving as the officer stumbled, his mind swimming, looking at whatever it was he was fighting he could only watch as two disappeared to dust while the third was trying to pull the plastic and paper modified sword that was somehow buried in his throat. Eyes wide the young man bolted away from the battle and into the light of the main strip.
Xander stumbled as well falling to his knee before catching himself, blinking he looked at the bodies around him. Dust piles of deceased vamps were mixed with the running multicoloured blood of demons and creatures that never existed outside of fiction, their parts now lying atop dead humans, some whom had once been the daemons that the Sgt had fought while others were those killed by the daemons or even by his own hand.
"Oh shit." he moaned quietly as he collapsed onto his backside, "Oh dear lord."
Sunnydale High School
The school had been unusually subdued even for the hellmouth as the realisation that hundreds of people had died the night before, whatever had happened had caused the entire school to remember some of what had happened. More than one person had vomited as they remembered the scenes of the night before, others had been found dead by suicide unable to live with the memories.
Sunnydale Syndrome had failed them.
Alexander Harris sat alone underneath a large tree at the side of the school, with so few people capable of functioning at any level no-one missed him nor would they for a while. So with that in mind he sat alone and contemplated the night before, as the Sgt he had killed innocent humans through his belief they would turn or become infested before the nights end. More had been lost as he killed them in forms that the Sgt had never seen nor ever would again, men, women, even children had been shot down or cut apart at the hands of the guardsman and his commander.
Sighing he rubbed his face, part of him knew that what had happened had been for a reason while the rest was screaming at the idea that he could have killed innocents let alone so many. Both parts were hammering at the forefront of his mind telling him one thing or another forcing their viewpoints on his already battered psyche, both versions of him were in a war but neither had been forced to murder the way he had that night and neither would ever be able to forget it.
Silently he reached into his bag unsheathing a long, straight knife from its holster and allowing the light to shine across the marred surface. An instinct borne of both years of experience and a single night of knowledge he began to methodically clean the knife of the accumulated dust, blood and gore that had meant the end of so many people.
Xander looked up from his inspection of the silver blade into the haunted eyes of one Lawrence Blasdall, the larger man was still wearing the long overcoat that had once been part of a costume for Halloween. One of only two of the parts of his costume that had remained once the spell had ended, both parts staying intact through the belief in his station, the commissariat and the overriding conviction of the word of the God-Emperor. Xander could see the slight bulge of the bolt pistol in his coat on one side and that of the extra bolt clips on the other.
“What happened last night Sgt.” Larry ordered before catching himself.
“Take a seat Sir, this is a very long story.” The former guardsman sheathed his blade and pulled out an old bottle of Tanith liquor, one of his few possessions to retain its new form much like some of his standard equipment. Popping the cap his handled his one and only remaining flask of Try Again Bragg’s classic sacra before taking a belt and handing it over to the other man. “This world is far older than we realise...”