The hive city of Taravantine was believed to be full of a cult rumored to lie underneath the overarching bureaucracy that was the governing authorities. And typically, when there was a cult that turned from the light of the Emperor to an enigmatic mystery religion, those Tyranid scout species known as the Genestealers were consistently involved.
But such did not appear to be the case here - none knew of the presence of the Hive Mind's vanguard, attempting to sow carefully planted seeds of discord so it could be brought under the sway of whatever Hive Fleet that influenced it, consumed for biomass as every compound capable of being dissolved in a reclamation pool was siphoned for the Hive's growth.
None except for one.
Balak Maginus had once been a Storm Trooper cogitator expert in the Imperial Guard, prior to his unfortunate incident - he lost his entire right arm to the claw of a Genestealer that he had managed to barely eliminate with a Naval Pistol at close range. The decision to send Guardsmen, albeit more elite than conscripts, into the Space Hulk instead of waiting for the arrival of the Gilded Aquilas chapter of Astartes. Whoever was in command of the operation was likely killed - he didn't know, such wasn't his business - for the deaths of many well-trained guardsmen at the hands of the Genestealer infestation on board the Space Hulk had ended a rising career for Balak, who was fortunate enough to get a shuttle to the Hive World of Palandine, where he could use what little he had been given to eck out a miserable existence.
As he walked through the bazaar, he immediately noticed a pair of glistening green eyes looking over at him, from a woman enraptured in a red and yellow robe. This was a woman from the Church of the Sacred Burning Girdle, the cult that had established itself in the Hive. She stepped towards him as he did his best to try and ignore her, hoping and praying to the Emperor that he would be able to get away before she said anything to him.
Then she cried out, falling forward onto her hands and knees in what was clearly a great degree of pain. Against his better judgement, he chose to assist her in leaning back, doing his best to ensure that whatever the situation was would be rectified. She gave a loud scream, and the sound of a vile hiss came to the area - something was moving under her robes. As he looked underneath, he was greeted with the snapping growl of a freshly born Genestealer hybrid. Instinct kicked in as he brought his service relic up, a shot ringing out through the bazaar as the large-caliber round eliminated the newly born xenos life. Grabbing the body in one hand, he cracked the woman over the head with the butt of the pistol as she began to grow hysterical, snagging her by the robes and hauling her through the bazaar.
A commotion had been stirred up - a most significant one indeed. Two Enforcers from the Adeptus Arbites confronted the man, shotguns and suppressor shields raised, until he showed them the Genestealer hybrid, a child most inhuman to the degree that not even mutation could be blamed. Forcing their way through the crowd, they assisted him in escaping from the quagmire, to the Arbites outpost here in the lower depths of the Hive. There they presented him to the local Judge, who accepted the findings of Genestealer infestation before giving the brood sister the Emperor's Peace, freeing her of whatever psychic hold she was kept in by the cult.
This was heresy to be investigated.
The Arbites were who would inevitably examine such horrific claims - Genestealer infestation was not something to be taken lightly. When it came to the infamous Tyranid infiltrators, an entire planet could experience Exterminatus for having a single abomination that slowly corrupted the world. It was not a Chaotic or rebellious corruption, no... It wasn't even a corruption that could be compared to the Tau and their Greater Good. It was the most insidious of all forms of maleficence, one that twisted the righteousness of the Imperial Cult in upon itself, using man's dedication to religious fervor as nothing more than an excuse to quicken his pathway to damnation.
He sat down at the table, eying the lightweight cogitator that he had kept as equipment from his time in the Guard. He needed it to distract himself from the neighbors upstairs. He had never seen them, but they sounded as though they were stomping around heavily, the sounds of breaking glass filtering through his ceiling.
Until he could take no more. This disturbance was a disgrace, even by the lower-class standards of the Lower Hive. If a brawl was occurring, it was his duty to stop it - such was why he grabbed the Naval Pistol, loading it as he walked down the hallway, heading towards the stairwell and intending to give his neighbors a piece of his mind.
Then there was flame. A great gush of fire spouted from the partially open doorway of his room, the hallway's interior finding itself more and more immolated in the fires of an unquenchable inferno. Balak was no fool - he ran for the stairs and quickly rushed out the building's exit as the first signs of fire began to show through its exterior. As he rushed outside, he ignored the loss of his possessions that this would bring - his life was worth more than any trinket. The fire, however... it was most suspicious.
When the Adeptus Aquarius arrived, Samaritan ambulance and Cryonizer firefighting vehicle traveled down the crumbling roadway hand in hand. Cryoglace cannon aimed at the burning structure, hyper-chilled frost-fluid arcing through the air towards the torched building, the burning particulates quenched at contact with the spray. The Chimera-based blaze-killer soon managed to dull the scorching heat to mere embers, the burned-out shell of his former home being a somber sight to Balak.
It was the cult. It had to be. What other explanation was there? It couldn't be a coincidence that the moment after his arrival home, his apartment's complex burst into flames. The chances of someone throwing a flaming bottle of alcohol to start the blaze were still there - but the timing seemed far too precise to be true. He had nowhere to go. But perhaps there was a solution in the form of the one connection he had finally made with the Imperium, one he found himself somewhat surprised by.
The crowd had gathered long after he had left the area, a mask to his trail as he traversed through the markets. There was a woman, one woman here in the Lower Hive who could assist him. He had met her after her sudden arrival to the area, gathering a small following of devotees to her sect of the statewide religion that was the Imperial Cult. They rarely interacted, her piety proving to be more important than social discussion most of the time, but when they had talked, she had stated she was willing to assist him if he ever needed anything.
Now was certainly the time to consider that offer.
Attempting to step as nonchalantly as he could towards the place he knew Benedicta held her sermons in, he found the door locked, heavy wood concealing a sturdy lock. Not sturdy enough to survive the blast of a Naval Pistol, however - two shots in his magazine ensured that the metal gave way. No screams uttered from the other side, not even a peep. Either it was empty, or he had killed the only one there. Slowly easing the door open, he saw the more obvious issues of the situation.
The chapel itself was small, a single room barely able to fit a hundred people, if that. At the far end stood a pulpit with a crude audio system, one which had two bullet holes in it. Swiftly he stepped inside, dragging a crude pew made of scrapmetal to the door in order to enhance his barricade and, so he hoped, delay the Genestealer Cult's arrival. That there was no service here was particularly important - the less innocents to be caught in the crossfire, the better. But there was no one here, no way to get help. He was trapped.
Then the pulpit moved. A trap door was revealed as soon perked up the head of Lady Benedicta herself. Her white locks had almost grown out to a dark brown, eyes twinkling as she hurriedly stepped up the stairwell. "I never expected you'd come to me at a time like this... What's going on?"
"Heresy of the most vile sort." Balak cleared his throat in disgust. "A Genestealer cult's after me. They attempted to burn me to death almost an hour ago by lighting my apartment block on fire. I scarcely managed to escape, then remembered your offer of assistance - you're the only one I feel I can count on right now."
"Is that so?" She seemed to think for a moment before returning to the still-opened trapdoor. "In here... your pursuers will never check under the pulpit." Into the cellar the pair descended before the door closed, the grind of the wood against concrete as the eloquent stand returned to its previous position. Candle fixtures mounted on the wooden walls of the cellar gave adequate light, several chambers branching off from the main hallway. In one, he almost thought he saw a suit of Sororitas armor - but she had quickly hurried him to the chamber at the very back of the room, snagging a candle and leading him within.
Such was a proper time - as they rushed away from the stairwell, the sound of wood splintering had spiked, Hybrid cultists clearly penetrating deeply into the chapel. There was no one there, even as they sniffed and snorted - none could ponder the lack of evidence that anyone had been there. The Genestealers were not destructive, no - they were sneaky, doing their best to ensure that as little evidence of their presence as possible remained.
"Mommy, what's going on?" The sound of a young child rang through the room almost directly behind him, and in the shadows he could see a boy standing off to the side, mostly hidden in the shade except for his red irises that seemed to glow unnaturally - a sign of mutation. No daemon would corrupt a young child in such a manner - they would be an unsuitable host.
"Company, that's all..." She frowned, turned away from him so he couldn't see her face. "The unwanted sort." The footsteps overhead slowly faded away in time, the monstrous xenos having disappeared. Balak breathed one bulwark of a sigh, relieved that the threat was, for the time being, gone. He turned to Benedicta and reached out his hand, a smile crossing his face as he appreciated her assistance. Soon, though, he found himself in unnatural territory. A sheet was on the floor, a fragment of a poem or song. The words brought a sense of dread into his heart.
My blood and your blood, all for Him
My skull and your skull, all for Him
Honor and battle for the Brass God
May He grant us victory evermore
Stepping outside of the room he had been hidden in, he stepped into the second room to the right, only to find more horror greeting him. The room now glowed with an eerie red light, the outline of an eight pointed star drawn on the ground in what had to be either blood or red paint. He chose not to turn back to comment on this to Benedicta - all he did was bolt. The sound of a pistol being loaded were soon heard as he rushed up the stairs, forcing the pulpit into the open hole as to block her ascent. The foul taint of Chaos, a cultist corrupting servants of the Emperor to the vile service of Khorne... and Genestealers.
There was no hope to save this world. He had no idea how far the infestation had spread, of both evils. This was no Kronus, but two forms of corruption meant only one thing - the damnation of the world was assured. Either the Tyranids would be led by the Genestealers to this planet, devouring all life and convertible biomass before moving on, or the planet would become a Daemon World, eternally immolated in the Warp, a plaything for the forces of the War God to build hellish new monstrosities.
Paladine had to be destroyed.
It disgusted him that he had to resort to such barbaric methods - but what little he remembered of Guardsmen cogitator codes would only prove useful if he found a viable system to utilize. Such was why he now broke into an empty apartment, searching for a functional system. A quick glance out the window indicated that he was not alone - two individuals carrying lasguns were entering the front of the building - he would have to act fast. A message was swiftly sent to the Planetary Defence Forces, as well as the local Imperial Guard regiment. Upon receipt, the message would be repeated time and time again, self-replicating until every cogitator in their system had received a copy. Such was an indication of urgency only the utmost important situations required.
As he sent the message, the door blew open. He raised his pistol and quickly fired at the first of the brood-brother cultists entering the room. The second was quickly downed as well, Balak quickly grasping both of their laser rifles, turning them on the lowest setting. Carrying two rifles was oft a poor concept, but it was the only chance he had - he would stay here to defend the transmission until he was certain enough time had passed to allow for contact to be made.
Another cultist came through the doorway - he joined the party of the dead that began to crowd the easiest entry into the room. As Balak moved to acquire his laspistol, a Genestealer forced its way through the apartment window with its talons. Both lasrifles found themselves shot at point blank range into the xeno's chest and head, the copious quantities of fire scorching its carapace and leaving it a lifeless beast. But now laser fire and the bullets of autoguns flew through the broken window, his being forced to withdraw further into the room. He had to make a break for it when the chance was given to him.
The first lasrifle soon gave out of ammunition, and the second found itself used up as he rushed into the hallway, providing high quantities of suppressive fire in order to help keep the cultists down behind the cover of their walls. He pressed the down button on the building's elevator before running down the back staircase, hoping that they would be distracted. It seemed to work, certainly - Genestealer activity had left significantly,
The satisfaction at having lived another day, however, soon turned to despair. He had no capabilities of leaving this world, even if he wanted to. He was damned to stay here and fight - to fight the Tyranids and to fight Chaos in the name of the Emperor. It was his duty in life and his role in death - and the more he killed, the less he would have to worry about any fellow Guardsmen falling prey to the Genestealers when they were inevitably sent to assail this world before Exterminatus.
The end would come - the end would be nigh. And the Emperor's enemies would perish in a blaze of torrid flame.
From the Journals of Inquisitor Vownus Kaede, 5 892.722.M41
It was as we feared. Lieutenant Maginus was correct - the infestation of the heretical Genestealer cult had permeated deep within the world. Even the governor and his wife failed DNA testing - my incarceration of them stirred up riots throughout the Hive Cities on this world - riots that we do not have the manpower to quell. The reports of Chaos seem to have been unfounded - no evidence in the location given has been found of any Chaos activity. No daemons, no sigils of blasphemous markings...
All that remains is the story the Lieutenant gave. This woman seems most familiar - her description bears a remarkable similarity to the false Sister from the pict-capture I acquired. If this woman was here at some point, whether traces were left, it is but another step on the road to deciphering her true motives. That adept... That Inquisitor Grendel. Her motivations for being seen with him delve deeper than mere corruption.
Before I give the order to purge this world of all its' malevolent xenos-corrupted life, I wish to pay proper respect and honor to Lieutenant Balak Maginus. A pair of acolytes from my retinue discovered him, slumped over in death with an autopistol lying by his side. The weapons of cultists filled the room, each broken, each out of ammunition. The last shot he gave was not one of death, but of rebirth - now he stands at the side of the Emperor, reaping the reward for his valiant service. Only men of great piety would sacrifice themselves to ensure the destruction of that which He despises - the mutant, the alien, the heretic. I shall be submitting a request for his sainthood to be considered.
His memory shall remain, even after he is but a servo-skull.
The Inquisitor placed down his pen, breathing calmly as he exited his private chambers. No word was spoken - merely a silent glance that the helmsmen of the Apocalypse-class Battleship Emperor's Bulwark accepted before relaying orders to gunnery control. Soon the weapon of Exterminatus-grade would be deployed, soon the nightmare would end...
Soon would the everlasting spectre of death truly claim this world at the hands of the righteous.