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Approx. 2700 words

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2015   SJ


After Melancholia


written by  SJ



    The front part of Melancholia’s mansion, where Lucynda had entered, was made of some kind of cast, artificial, stone with many arches and pillars. The buildings that made up the front outstretched wings of the mansion, where the courtyard wall was connected, were tall, but still only one story high. The center section of the mansion was the largest and was two stories high, and like the rest, was made of the same type of stone with many arches and pillars. Inside, however, Lucynda described it as being very Victorian looking.
    There were other one story buildings attached to the mansion on the sides and back, with buildings attached to those buildings, three buildings long in back, two on the sides. Those buildings didn’t seem to be occupied and remained dark all the time; those on the far ends, looked damaged, some of them missing a door, or in one case, part of a wall. Connected to the outside buildings were more sections of wall, like the front wall, each section having a small courtyard inside.

    Sergeant First Class Nikolai Petrovsky operated the drone, now fully stealthed, and continued to examined the mansion while the others watched the monitors, first examining the perimeter, then by entering the abandoned buildings, trying to see if there was a way inside the main part of the mansion. In each case, no entrance could be found, the doors closed tight, and by the temperature monitor on the drone, it was very hot, no air conditioning.
    The next step was to bring the drone up to the main building and listen, maybe find a way to peek inside. However, in every situation, from every window, very little was found. At best, all they were able to see were fleeting glances of one or more of the men, with little or no conversation. According to the schematics Dion had of the mansion, it had a sizeable basement. If Melancholia was planning anything, she was most likely doing it down there, a place where her Chaos Crystal had to be located.
    Melinda eventually came to the conclusion that by whatever means she used to spy on Melancholia, it had to be done without getting caught. If the woman was, in fact, looking for a Chaos object, she needed to be allowed to proceed unimpeded. However, the men inside the mansion, now being referred to as willing hostages, could still be in danger. Once Melancholia found the object, what would happen to them? The question had to be left up to the Neubayern Planetary Government: Make an immediate rescue, or wait? They reluctantly chose the later.
    Melinda decided to abort anymore attempts to get the drone inside the mansion, leaving it on the outside, making sure it couldn’t be spotted by any means. As the days passed, the only event was a delivery of supplies, mostly food, all of it loaded onto the monorail car by the crews that brought it. Once the car had returned to the mansion, Nikolai used the drone to watch through the car’s tinted windows as two men and a very large bipedal creature unloaded. He was happy to see the Krootox was, at least, still alive.
    Along with the onion farming three kilometers to the south of the mansion, there were artificial beehives containing native bees for the manufacture of honey. During the HOT season, the bees stayed deep inside their hives, were it was cooler. The temperate season was monitored by the emergence of these bees; once they began gathering pollen, it was time to start planting onions. And in this case, it came a month earlier than normal.
    When Melancholia ordered a high-quality, recreational, hovercar delivered to her mansion, Melinda and her team got ready to move. Once Melancholia had left the mansion, only her and her two Daxzan guards were in the vehicle. But, before the Federal Investigator took any action, she called Captain Wayne, who confirmed he now had a satellite watching Melancholia’s hovercar; once it was a safe distance away, Melinda’s team made their move on the mansion.  
    Nikolai quickly landed the Federal shuttle in front of the mansion, so Dion, Koufax, and de la Vega could enter though the front door. Afterwards, he landed the shuttle in the back, then engaged a jamming signal to block communications before he and Dakota went to enter from the back.
    All of Melinda’s team were armed with stun rifles. The front and back doors to the mansion were not locked. After entering, Lucynda promptly shot the first man she saw, still a little nervous about being affected the same way she was the last time. Behind that man, were two more, who held up their hands to surrender. They quickly found five more men, all of them rather confused. None of Dion’s team members were affected by any soporific musk or auras.
    Nikolai and Jennifer found the entrance to the basement and started down cautiously while the other teams members rounded up the men to wait for a vehicle to take them away, escorted by a couple local police. None of them resisted in any way, only saying they were supposed to wait for Melancholia. It was obvious they were not infected by any Chaos Worms, and, in time, once they were no longer exposed to Melancholia, would probably recover physically and psychologically.
    Officer Dakota chose to use her periscope before entering the basement. If there was another Chaos Crystal in there, Melancholia could possible use it to see if anyone entered the basement, something that could cause her to abort her trip, assuming she was going where they thought she was going.
    However, even though there was no Crystal, there was a Krootox chained to the center of the basement with a sturdy collar around its neck. Before Jennifer could saying anything, it sensed their presence, then roared and charged, forcing the two Terrans to go back up the stairs about half way, the end of the creature’s chain.
    Nikolai called to it, using its name. “Tobb, Tobb, I’m here to take you back to Boot.”
    But, the creature remained enraged...then it broke loose. Nikolai and Jennifer were forced to shoot it with their stun rifles, using up four shots each before the Krootox laid still, breathing heavily.
    The Librarian, along with her Staff, had a small cane version of it. She quickly checked the Krootox. “It’s got a Worm.”
    “Can you remove--”
    “Done.” Jennifer was finished before Nikolai finished asking. “It’s gone.” She spoke as she took off down the stairs to the basement.
    Seeing the Krootox was having trouble breathing, Nikolai began medically examining it; but, the results not good.
    He called the team leader, anxiously worried. “Melinda, we had to stun Tobb. His heart is not doing very well. Can you call and get a hold someone that knows more about Krootoxs?” When Melinda didn’t answer right way, he continued. “I know what I would do if he were Terran. But, a Krootox, I don’t know. If I don’t do something he might die.”
    “I’m on the phone to Captain Wayne.” Melinda finally answered.
    Meanwhile, Nikolai waited...
    A Sergeant First Class T’au Boz eventually answered, asking what had happened...then asked for some vitals, then told Nikolai it would be safe to administer some adrenaline, but also warned this might wake the Krootox.
    Nikolai now had a dilemma: If he administered the drug, he might have a raging Krootox on his hands, if not, the creature might die. Jennifer heard, then stepped in front of the stairs, getting his attention before pointing. “There’s a cage in here. If we can get him in there--”
    Melinda was listening, then began ordering all her team down stairs. Together, they laboriously dragged the Krootox inside a very sturdy-looking cage, and locked him up, Nikolai giving him the injection.
    Within about a minute, the Krootox was waking up. Nikolai was hoping the removal of the Chaos Worm would make him less enraged, maybe docile. But, that was not to be. The creature banged on the cage bars and roared as Nikolai called his name over and over again. After a short time, the only thing they could do was leave after Nikolai had made sure he had enough food and water.
    As they walked up the stairs, Nikolai was disappointed; he was hoping he could eventually reunite the Krootox with his friend on Dell. Apparently, the creature had had a Chaos Worm in his brain for months; there was no way to tell how much damage it had done...or if Tobb would ever recover.
    Captain Wayne’s Planetary Guard company had three platoons of infantry (11 Guardsmen each), and a headquarters squad (with three snipers, actually three sisters that were part of a marksmanship team, armed with Accuracy International auto sniper rifles, top of the line); each squad was allocated a Chimera APC with a turret-mounted multi-laser only. Headquarters squad had the unusual addition of a plasma cannon support team, but their Chimera had no weapon, just communications equipment. When Melinda told the company commander she was ready to leave, to follow Melancholia’s hovercar, he sent one of his platoons, along with Sergeant T’au Boz to the mansion, and, at Officer Dakota’s request, mounted a couple cameras inside, one of them right inside the basement. Once Melinda’s shuttle was gone, and the cameras set up, the platoon returned to the city with the other Guardsmen, taking the Krootox, cage and all, with them.
    Melancholia’s hovercar headed toward a desolate, rocky, area of the planet, where 120 degrees in the shade was the norm. Not even Daxzans lived there, and the Vespids lived further away in the mountains. Melancholia had to be wearing an environment suit if she was planning on leaving the comfort of the hovercar; the place where it seemed like she was going had to be severe even for her two Daxzan guards. Melinda and her team began attaching cooling units to their armor for when it came time to act.
    It took a little more than 19 hours for Melancholia to reach her destination. Early in the morning, she came to a stop and exited the vehicle. She held a small scepter, which appeared to be mounting the Chaos Crystal.
    So far, no one had any idea how someone would collect a Chaos object from the WARP, or even know when or if they had obtained it. At this point, it was only guess work. Melinda kept the shuttle on stealth, hovering at a distance of three hundred meters, now armed with a Tau EMP grenade launcher. Once it looked like the object had been secured, the hovercar would be disabled and her team would move in and take the object.
    Melinda had a good idea about how other Crystals had looked when activated. Melancholia stood just in front of the hovercar wearing a tight-fitting environment suit and a mask, staring into the glowing Crystal, sometimes appearing to talk into it, then listening. The two Daxzan guards had gotten out of the vehicle and were standing next to Melancholia.
    Eventually, the Crystal began glowing brighter, quickly emanating a zone of darkness covering Melancholia and part of the hovercar. As it did, Dion ordered the shuttle to close the distance to within fifty meters.
    When the darkness disappeared, Melancholia and her Daxzan guards were gone!
    Melinda had no words...
    Then Lucynda made a report using the shuttle’s scanner. “I’m reading quite a bit of WARP radiation out there.”
    Officer Dakota quickly started to leave the shuttle. “I need to get over there.”
    “Jennifer.” Melinda called to her. “The radiation, it’s--”
    “I have an Iron Halo force shield.” The Librarian spoke just before running over, trying to find the exact spot where Melancholia had been just seconds ago. But, then she thought of something, the Krootox chained to the middle of the it was guarding something. She called using her com. “ Captain Wayne. It might be possible Melancholia teleported back to the mansion.”
    But, there was no response...
    Jennifer ran back to the shuttle knowing what was happening. She opened the door–-
    Melinda spoke first. “Jennifer, we can’t communicate here--”
    “Yeah, I just figured that out. You need to move away and call Captain Wayne. Melancholia might’ve teleported back to the mansion.”
    A frustrated look came over the team leader as she gestured for Jennifer to get inside the shuttle. But, she refused. “I need to find that WARP opening. Go and call Captain Wayne, then pick me up afterwards.”
    Melinda nodded, then, as Jennifer ran back to find the WARP opening, she moved the shuttle away.
    But she was called, first. “Captain Dion, this is Captain Wayne, can you hear me?
    “Yes! I was--”    
    “I’m sending you some information we just picked up on our scanner...something at the mansion.”
    Melinda only needed to take one look at it. “That’s a WARP pulse--”
    “That’s what I though it was. It just wiped out all our cameras over there--”
    “We think Melancholia may have just teleported back to the mansion.” Melinda reported anxiously. “You guys need to be ready for anything over there.”
    “Like what?”
    “Anything. Demons. Chaos Marines. I don’t know.”
    Captain Wayne frowned firmly and sighed. “I’m going to align my satellite to view the mansion. My troops are going to move forward and dig in to defend the city.”
    “We’ll be back there as soon as we can,” Dion let the Guard Captain know, then noticed Jennifer waving to her.
    Once the Librarian had been picked up, and while Lucynda was plotting a course back to Louvain, the Librarian attempted to explain what she had found:
    An embarrassed look came over Jennifer as she started. “It’s called the Phallic Symbol of Lust. It looked like, uhh, well, never mind what it looked like; the Emperor’s Children destroyed it and took the object, the Coin. I think they gave it to Melancholia.” She sat thinking, not sure about whether the person she saw was, indeed, Melancholia. She asked, “has anyone actually seen, Melancholia?”
    “I saw her...but, not her face.” Lucynda spoke, answering while keeping her attention on the shuttle controls. “She was wearing a mask--”
    “The Masque!” Jennifer began seeing a vision. “Melancholia is dead. She was a sacrifice so the Masque of Slaanesh could enter our Universe. We need to warn Captain Wayne he’s going to be attacked by demons.”
    Melinda was already calling, reaching the HQ. “Captain Wayne, I need to--”
    “This is Sergeant Boz. The Captain is out with his troops.”
    “I need to warn you guys you might be attacked by demons.” Melinda became more serious. “One of them might be VERY powerful.”
    “Can you give me more information?” the Sergeant asked. “I mean, what can we expect? What weapons to they have?”
    Melinda looked at Jennifer...
    The Librarian sighed, but could only think of one thing. “Talons...WARP talons.”
    “That’s it?” Melinda asked.
    But, the Sergeant overheard. “Talons, huh?”
    “They might be very hard to kill.” Melinda added.
    “Well, we’ve got thirty lasguns and three grenade launchers over here. And that’s not counting the multi-lasers on our Chimeras.”
    Captain Wayne overheard the conversation while multitasking orders to his troops. “Demons with talons, huh? I just planted my plasma cannon support team on the highest hill over here. If all they have are talons, then, we’re going to shoot them up good before they can use--talons.” He paused. “They can die, right?”
    “From what I’ve been told, massed lasgun fire is good.” Melinda responded, then turned to Jennifer for confirmation.
    Jennifer nodded her head, agreeing. But, there was something else with these demons. However, whatever it was, her vision didn’t show her. “We should try to get back there as quickly as we can.”
    “We’re on our way.” Melinda concluded, then looked to Lucynda for the arrival time; when she held up four fingers, Dion responded, “ETA, approximately four hours. Dion, out.”




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