We outpaced the sandstorm to arrive at the Pyramid-esque temple ahead of Aedessa and her retinue. Clear signs of a struggle loomed before us outside the hangar entrance; an artillery turret was missing from among the perimeter defenses, and several vehicles lay abandoned and damaged. There appeared also to be a half-built statue of a snake-like being. When completed, the structure would no doubt loom over the statue of the Omnissiah that lay in the temple’s shade. Heresy, perhaps…
After learning what we could from the aftermath of the battle, I extracted petroleum from the vehicles and booby trapped the entrance to the temple. If this place had succumbed to the corrosive embrace of chaos, there would be nothing for it but to burn it to the ground. A fitting end, perhaps, for a temple build to withstand the scorching rays of the Nyxian sun.
We entered the hangar and were greeted with the ghastly sight of bloodied bodies that lay rent, heaped in piles throughout the garage. Blood splattered the walls. No movement. No sign of life. We explored further into the temple, examining the residential quarters and various other rooms. Everywhere we met with the same butchery; the foul stench of death permeated the corridors as we proceeded cautiously forth. What bodies we found appeared to be stripped of all organic material; the Adeptus Mechanicus who appeared to oppose whatever force had rolled through the temple lay stripped bare, so that their bionic and augmetic exoskeletons were all that remained to stare lifelessly at us as we walked through the temple corridors.
Eventually, we came upon a vast hall. The skylight provided ample natural light, revealing what appeared to be an oasis. A verdant landscape lay before us, littered with mathematically precise sculptures. Ramirez seemed fascinated by these; I only marveled at the enormity of the room and at how this Eden came to be. My reverie did not last long though, as I spotted a unit of armed men at the far end of the room, transporting what seemed to be the artillery turret from the Pryamid’s defenses. I made to sneak closer to the group while Ramirez continued to stand in rapt admiration of the sculptures, uninterested in the advancing enemy unit. Sisigmund chose the less prudent approach; he charged the group with a thundering cry.
By some miracle, his brashness overwhelmed the obviously poorly trained troops. They laid down their arms in fright, and Sisigmund made quick work of tying them up and stowing them away. Ramirez joined us shortly after and rendered the artillery canon useless for fear of it being used to destroy the artwork he so admired. I pocketed two of the artillery shells. They might come in handy.
Realizing that this group had been pressing forward to rejoin the rest of their force, we chose to relay with Aedessa. As she joined us, we continued forth. The adjoining chamber was a vast open space, with sprawling, blocky adobe buildings. At the other end were a party of Borers, led by a large red-skinned man wielding a massive hammer. Sisigmund charged.
The ensuing battle proceeded uneventfully, for me. I clambered atop the hovels of the bazaar that littered the room; apparently the Borers had been camped here for a while. Hidden and moving from roof to roof, I eventually gazed down to where Sisigmund wrestled with a group of them. I threw two of the artillery shells into the melee, praying the Borer bodies that engulfed Sisigmund would suffice to shield him from the shrapnel explosion. They did. Between the artillery explosions, Sisigmund’s battle rage, and Aedessa’s chaos-opposing fervor, the Borers stood no chance.
After dispatching of the Borer squad, we continued forward up earthen switchbacks toward the inner sanctum, intent to discover the source of the conflict. We shortly came across two battle servitors guarding a small warehouse building. It seemed the Borers were preparing to storm it by force. Momentarily blinded to reason, I found myself drawn to whatever secrets lay guarded and in wait. Perhaps it was the smuggler in me.
I tried to sneak by the drones to no avail. I managed only to land myself, hidden from view, directly adjacent their guard post. I was now in the thick of things, unable to move forward or retreat back to the group. In hindsight, I should simply have waited. But, panicked and seeing no way to extricate myself from my self-imposed prison, I took aim and fired on the servitors. In return, I was met with a hail of autogun fire. Sisigmund and Ramirez jumped to my aid, and dispatched of the drones with little trouble. All told, I shattered an elbow and a bullet punctured my quad, leaving me limping. Not too bad. My ego probably received the brunt of damage from the servitor fusillade; my limbs should heal up just fine, though I could feel Ramirez sizing my arm. I’m sure he’d be quick to suggest a bionic replacement.
Either way, that’s the last time I jump into a battle from outside the safety of a cockpit. There were many reasons I joined the air force and vehemently opposed marine corps enlistment. I received painful reminders of some of those reasons today. To add insult to injury, the room contained mostly servitor slop, spare parts, and gold bars that could not possibly be transported.