Xavier was sitting at his desk when the buzzer rang. He got up in his seat and checked his collar was done up properly. He opened the door himself and greeted the guest. “Captain Godman, a pleasure.”
“The pleasure’s all mine High-Lord General.”
Xavier returned to his desk and gestured towards the empty seat across it. “Please…”
Godman sat down in it but kept his shoulders tense. “I must apoligise for this impromptu meeting general, I’d have preferred to have debated a better time with you, but with the exercise next week I’m afraid I don’t have any time.”
Xavier nodded. “Ofcourse. What do you wish to discuss.”
Godman hesitated before speaking. He glanced towards Xaviers metallic hand. He’d been there. In the city when the Kestrals were pushed off. Xavier had read the reports that he’d managed to kill a marine, pin a whole squad of them down until they retreated. He was naturally the best candidate to train the planets first Imperial Guard regiment. He was regarded as a hero by the people and a man of awe by the defence force.
And yet, he had the face of a man who didn’t sleep. Paranoia, the sort that never leaves. Xavier recognised it the first time they’d met. Godmans eyes would dart towards the slightest loud noise. Perhaps that was why he chose the responsibility. To train the experimental company of Guardsmen that would serve as a basis for the regiment. He wanted to back in a war zone. Where he’d know that his fears were real. The reassurance of it.
“The company’s not ready.” He explained calmly. “I need more time.”
“The exercise is next week.”
“They’re kids.” His voice was raising slightly. “You gave me a month to train fresh recruits, I need longer than that, a year at least.”
Xaviers expression was grim. He stood up, his metallic hand shaking once more. He grabbed it and held it steady. “…Do you smoke?”
Godmans shoulders calmed slightly. “No sir.”
“I used to. Had to stop. Causes health problems. I’ve been going straight since the battle. It’s… only a small problem to have to deal with, but it’s caused me a great deal of irritation.” He raised his head and looked Godman in the eye. “I cannot compare to the ordeal you must have went through, but I understand.”
Godman said nothing.
Xavier breathed slowly. “The exercise must take place next week. Lord Baileys been going on non-stop at parliament over our… guests, insurgents and allies. I think many of them are starting to believe him. We can’t afford another setback.”
Godman swallowed. “…very well sir.”
“-But,” Xavier continued, “we only need the excise to look good. Do that, and I’ll give you whatever you need to train them.”
Godmans lips curled. “I think I can do that.”
“Excellent… then we should-“
He was interrupted as the door burst open and Major Thompson of the Military Police burst in. “General! Sorry to interrupt but this is urgent!”
“Thompson, what’s going on?” Xavier asked.
“One of my officers just got sighting of soldiers in Kestral uniforms!”
“Main road junction.”
“Main ro-“ Xaviers eyes opened wide. Godman shot up from his seat. “But that’s here, in this city!”
“It was a squad car, spotted two individuals in Flak driving an unmarked truck. They moved to investigate but we’ve lost their vox-signals.”
Further down in the city, James had been having a bad day. He tapped his fingers rhythmically on the car steering wheel to try and calm himself down. The last thing he needed was this traffic jam that had suddenly happened. After a minute of no movement he opened his door and stepped out. “HEY!” he roared. “WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG!!!”
“Some trucks stopped in the middle of the road!” someone else shouted back to him. He looked down the street to see the large black Lorry that had parked at an angle where no one could get past. Right in the middle of a busy street.
“Unbelievable…” James scowled. Other people had gotten out of their cars as well and seemed to share similar views of annoyance. James rubbed his hands together, locked his car door and began to walk over to it, like many people seemed to already be doing. “This day cannot get ANY worse…”
The Lorry door opened and a few figures leapt out. He was wearing some thick maroon jacket with green plating on it. James couldn’t make it out very well but the men seemed to be carrying rifles.
“What’s going on?” a mother asked, leaning out her car window as her kids complained in the back. “Are they soldiers?”
“Must be.” James agreed.
The Maroon soldiers climbed up to the back of the lorry and opened it, revealing the creature chained inside.
The people screamed. James recoiled in horror. The mother leaned back in her car and rolled up the window.
The soldiers fired their guns at the chains restraining the Daemon and moved out of the way quickly. It burst forth and screamed into the air. The thing was large and blue. It had two huge arms and was covered in faces of mad, cackling teeth.
James just stood there, petrified, as more of them burst forth. The Pyrodeamons of Tzeench.
He turned and ran back to his car. He could hear people screaming. He could hear the Daemons roaring down the street behind him. He arrived at his car and pulled the handle.
No! he’d locked it! he reached into his pocket and tried to pull out a set of keys. He was about to insert it into the car door when the car infront of his reversed. It slammed into his car and crumpled the bonnet, as well as sending it crashing back into the one behind that.
James cursed and looked back to the Lorry. The daemons had spread out with terrifying speed. Floating and gliding from point to point. They were faster than any of the people trying to get away from them. Fire and acid spawned from their monstrous bodies, drowning the street below them and bellowing out hundreds of feet in front of them. James got a good view as the car with the mother and children was engulfed by the warp flame. Their bodies twisting into organic monstrosities that he’d never forget.
He turned and ran, ran as fast as he could like everyone else was. Cars smashed into each other in their panic to get away, only making everything worse.
And then the lasbeams. The soldiers had climbed on top of the trucks, taking pot shots at anyone they could. James ran past a man as a whole was blown in his chest. He ran past a woman as he leg was blasted off.
It was like he’d stepped into a nightmare. He just kept running. Running until he reached the next junction that lead to the second street. He turned to go down left and felt relief like never before as the countless Police Tauroxes skidded past.
He didn’t even stay to watch, he just kept on running.
The police cars stopped and the officers got out. They raised their autoguns to fire, only to hesitate when they saw what they were fighting. Their weapons did nothing, even the autocannon rounds from the Tauroxes only causing the creatures to dissipate then put themselves back together. The officers where about to get back in their vehicles when the second Lorry pulled up.
This one wasn’t carrying Daemons though. It’s doors opened and the Sorceror stepped out, followed by Rubric Marines and Kestral Guardsmen.
“Traitors!” the police chief yelled to his men. “turn your fire! Put them down!” the officers that weren’t fleeing back into their vehicles turned heroically to shoot at the sorcerer. It did nothing, much like against the daemons.
The Sorceror slowly stepped forward as the rounds pinged off his armor. “Defiant even against the inevitable. How disgustingly predictable.” He swiped his right hand, releasing a spell he’d spent a good few minutes charging up.
A wave of translucent energy passed over the entire street and reduced all of the police officers to mere dust. Their bodies dissolved quicker than their brains had time to recognise it was happening and their uniforms fell to the earth. The vehicles that had been driving where no empty and crashed into the walls, kicking up the dust of the civilians who’d been hiding there.
The Sorceror approached the dust of one officer and kicked it with his boot. In the distance he could hear the sounds of more attacks, similar to this one, being carried out in multiple locations across the city. He’d made the orders clear to the Kestrals commander. They had to buy him as much time as possible.
He turned and made his way towards his objective, cloaking the Guardsmen that accompanied him in a spell of invisibility and letting the Pyrodeamons continue their rampage.