The incessant sound of drilling and digging became the normal daily soundtrack. The filth and dirt clung in the air and each breath drew a lung full dust that made breathing heavy searching for oxygen. Galden should not be here, his trial was a joke.
"Murderer - ha" he laughed to himself. He hadn't even had contact with another human for ten years when the arbites raided his cruiser. A small smugglers freight ship that carried any cargo as long as the customer was prepared to pay.
Rumours were traveling round his wing of secret meetings being offered to willing volunteers from the people upstairs. He had always thought it was some quick way to get you killed at the will of some jumped up rich boy taking advantage of the desperation. Galden stopped for a minute. A heavy thump hit the back of his calf.
"Get back to work you frackin dirt" the Imperial Guardsman shouted. He lay on top Galden and dribbled spit down the side of his cheek. He wanted to wipe the stinking froth away, but he knew better. Dirt was a term the IG used for the inmates and beatings were a day-to-day occurrence and the one thing you could surely rely on. Galdens body was skinny, starved and a scared mess. His hair was shaved, all the inmates hair were shaved and he wore brown robes that hung of his body like a great sack. This was his last day before he was sent back to the wing. Maybe being a volunteer was a step up, even if it was a first class ticket to death.
Jakob Richter – an inquisitor born of a backward yet pious feudal world. At age nine, Jakob held his feudal lord accountable for the famine suffered by his people and executed him in the name of the Emperor, only to be proved right when the investigation in to the incident uncovered the feudal lord to be in league with Nurgle cultists. He sat in the bridge on the throne chair aboard his frigate “His Benediction”. They were on a diplomatic mission with Khaleraaq's High Commissars. He had taken charge of a strike force with The Sisters of Battle and The order of the Ebon Rose. Reports had shown Hive fleet Benu to be closing in on the planet and no distress signal had been raised. The planet had abundant defenses with battalions of Imperial Guard stationed on the planet. Although the planet had never seen much war, to lose control of this land would shake the teeth out of the God Emperor himself.
Jakob Richter hailed Khaleraaqs diplomatic channel.
"Get me High Commissar Faalke,”
"High Commissar Faalke is not available" a female voiced Servitor relayed. Jakob clenched his fist. His metal power armour clinked together. He looked at his long-term apprentice and friend Gabriella Lobato. It is Lobato that Richter normally employs to be his ‘public face’ as she is an adept politician as well as a cunning investigator. Her stern beauty is used to catch her prey off guard as Richter undertakes his investigations. Some how he felt things hand moved beyond negotiation.
Galden stood in a short queue of about ten inmates. He had heard this is where you volunteer. They stood there in silence. A particularly large stocky Imperial Guardsman was stood by the big metal vault door. His fatigues were tight and he looked like he had to squeeze his head into his helmet. Galden just kept his head down and wandered into the room when the door swung open and was ordered in.
A tall pale thin man walked through another door inside the room, he had dress uniform on.
"You will not be going back,” hissed the man. The inmates gave glancing looks at each other. Galden decided his number was up and he was actually relieved. He had spent the last 15 planet cycles of his life chained to the mines. The relentless filth and endless shifts of grueling work had left him empty and any easy way to get you killed seemed like a good offer. He just wished he had the guts to do it himself.
"I am High Commissar Schultz, you are going to be tested, failure is not an option" he looked at the stocky Guardsman who pushed his lasgun into the backs of the inmates ushering them firmly through the next door
Galden opened his eyes, his memory was fuzzy. He was in a white room in what looked like some kind of medi lab. Other patients were lined up in beds and there was what looked like a large window with people peering through. He attempted to get up but got caught up in a load of tubes. Galdon pulled them off. He looked down at himself, his body had filled out, he felt strong, something he hadn’t felt for a long time. At that moment the door next to the window activated and opened revealing Commissar Schultz with two guards.
"Welcome to the guard! You have been under for three months in which time we programmed your bodies back to health. You have been given a second chance and you owe it all to High Commissar Faalke." Galden wasn’t sure what to think, but what he did know, is it had to be better than that damned mine.
Training seemed to come naturally, like he had done it a hundred times before. Galdon had been given a new name, new history. Sergeant Hoeffer was his new title. He couldn’t help feel eternally grateful to the man that had set him free where the imperium had let him down. He would fight for Faalke, whatever the reason.
Chaplain Nathaniel from the Swords of the Imperium was being entertained on one of the grandest spires. His grizzled knarled flesh and height towered him above Commissar Faalke. A fat middle-aged man with red cheeks and cold manor, he used and enjoyed his power on Khaleraaq.
"Hive Fleet Benu is upon you Faalke. There have been sightings of Warlord Grimlaks fleet in your system as well. He has been targeting industrial planets, they are building a Waagh. You need to assemble your forces. The Swords will support you.”
"Yes, yes, its all in hand, why don’t you go and visit one of our spa's we will take good care of you." Faalke seemed edgy. Nathanial couldn’t help feel as though he was being brushed off, but he had no intention of accepting the spa invitation and he knew Faalke knew that.
"I will head back to my cruiser, I will update you with Benu's movements and give you the coordinates of Grimlaks last movements."
As soon as Nathanial had gone Faalke picked up his communicator and contacted Shulze.
"Ready the troops, I want defense parameters around Khal'haar and all the cities, and use our men get rid of the rest"
What happened next can only be described as Heresy, as thousands of the Emperors men were ordered to their death. Gas chambers all manor of concealed mass murder implements were used. In their place stood trained convicts ready to fight tooth and nail for Commissar Faalke.
Commissar Faalke hailed Jakob Richter,
"Your help is not required here, any attempt to access the planet will be an act of war and will be dealt with."
"This is Heresy, you will be purged in the name of the Emperor" Jakob closed the channel.
"Get me Chaplain Nathanial,” a busy Servitor suddenly lit up into action and began hitting buttons on a comms relay.
"All channels to the Swords of The Imperium are blocked"
The magnitude of what Commissar Faalke had been creating had been manifesting itself in the warp such was the scale of murder and corruption. So much so that The Indestructible Overlord Revya Nzetta Keeper of Secrets was amassing a force to take souls of the corrupt or any that should get in the way for that matter. The Seekers of Gekheid (mainly made up of Slannesh Daomenettes) came flooding through the ripped open warp gates, the mass murders rippled in the warp. Khaleraaq had been a shining light in the immaterium and now it was time for the forces of Chaos to reap the rewards of conquering such a prize. The vastness of the planet surface spread the daemons out into small pockets but it was only a matter of time for the forces of Chaos to congregate and amass a horrifying force of execution.
Chaplain Nathanial unaware of the impending Chaos threat bounded into Faalkes quarters, he had little patience for Faalke, to Nathanial he seemed lazy and the threat of attack seemed to blow over the over fed Commisar.
" Hive Fleet Benu is upon you, and Grimlaks waagh is coming, they have teleportation technology and we think they have been tracking Hive fleet Benu. Probably in the hope they attack a planet that they can make war on and pillage. You are in grave danger and we must stand together. I have tried to contact Inquistor Jakob Richter, but my frequencies have been blocked, I need to contact him here"
" Inquistor Jakob Richter will not be assisting. They believe we have enough resources to deal with the attack, his cruiser has already left the system they have more pressing business to attend.”
"Ready your troops Faalke, protect the hives and order the settlements to either evacuate or get to the Hives." Nathanial already heading to the door and back to his Cruiser where he could ready his troops. Faalke would do no such thing. He prepared his army, he knew his time could be near an end, he had to be victorious, the Imperium is no longer his ally, but he had Khaleraaq, and he had a huge army that he had been feeding with his convicts for decades. Hiding and forging paper work to make things look above board. Such was the luxury it wasn’t hard to offer bribes to admin or bureaucrats over the years. This is why he hadn’t called for help. He needed to keep a low profile. All this treachery had lead to a much greater danger, Faalke blinded by his riches had woken a much darker power. He and his army were in a much greater peril than just war.
Inquistor Jakob Richter sent a team of Sisters planet side, the skies were clear of the thousands of freight ships and were replaced by all manor of craft with civilians escaping the planet. He had heard rumours of missing Guardsmen and had been tipped to search an old quarry from one of the government officials of the indigenous settlements. What they found was enough to draw the breathe of five battle hardened Sisters, one of which was Canoness Isabella Tenaces, sincere and quiet, a veteran that had silenced foe after foe on the battlefield, but this left here breathles. A mass grave, filled with the corpses of the imperial's chosen. The stench filled the air. The bodies tossed into the deap crator with no thought, and as far as the eye could see. The tall figures of the Sisters almost wrenched, but their training kicked in and they took samples and pictures for Jakob. They walked away from the scene, souls filled with revenge.
Inquistor Jakob Richter ordered the re-capture of Khaleraaq. This was not going to be easy, they were way outnumbered and faced multiple enemies including the heretics Swords of the Imperium. He believed their silence proof of their part to play in this. They had been left to aid Khaleraaqs defenses. But Jakob had no idea that they had been tricked. His strike force dropped to the surface with strategic precision. They set up key bases for supplies and launching penetrating attacks with lightening speed.
Hive fleet Benu made planet surface. They took advantage of the now empty mines and got to work making huge underground hives their soul aim to devour the planet of all living things and now they were bedding into the very core of Khaleraaq. Warlord Grimlak made planet fall in tow of Hive fleet Benu. Great Hulks filled the air and atmosphere with toxic black smoke. They hungered violence and scrap to make huge warmachines, Grimlaks sole purpose to conquer and build his Waagh ever further. The Seekers of Gekheid had grouped and had begun to attack the Hive Cities and defenses. Overlord Revya Nzetta sent warbands of daemons far and wide to conquer the souls of anyone who should get in the way. Every second more and more Daemons materialised through the warp gates. The powers of Chaos hungered for khaleraaq, no one would be safe from the torment being spewed.
Commissar Faalke had refused entry for "The Swords of the Imperium" back into Khal'haar, the capital hive city. Nathahnial realized he had been tricked and had to retreat and made makeshift base camps. His revenge on Faalke will be severe. Contact had been restored with Inquistor Jakob Richter and his Sisters of Battle but they were incensed and wanted to bring the Emperors hammer down on all that opposed it including the Swords of the Imperium, believing them to be apart of this murder. Allied help was years off, this was supposed to be a well defended system and now there was only one Adeptus Astartes chapter and now an opposing small fleet of Sisters of Battle who had lost trust and communication. But their was another threat, something over looked.
Virqua Dahass, Archon of the Kabal of the Obsidian Rose sniffed a great war upon Khaloraaq. Exotic xenos and greatest of all Adeptus Astartes would fetch great prices at the slave markets. As Virqua flew into low orbit the planet had changed, rivers of blood and darkness filled the planet with a looming presence. His Queen of Splinters wanted slaves, Virqua wanted more power. He would not fail, he would capture them all.
The silence had ended.