There was much news, and all of it bad. Adeptus Custodes Commander Karlsen scanned the glowing data screen:
++ Orks rampaging down though Ultima Segmentum. ++
++ Tyraid Hive fleets sighted within 500 light-years of Terra. ++
++ Chaos fleets detected mustering in the Eye of Terror. ++
++ Eldar Pirate depredations at an all-time high... ++
Karlsen sighed. Still, at least here in the Imperial Palace on Terra, at the heart of the Empire's power, he would be safe...
Suddenly, the Klaxons blared into life. Flashing lights on intruder alert screens made the entire control post illuminate in an electric display of colours.
DANGER! INTRUDER DETECTED ALPHA PRIME!! EXTREME DANGER!
Karlsen leapt to his feet with an incredulous curse. The Throne Room! The Golden Throne of the Emperor! Emperor preserve us! This could not be happening! His sidearm was in his hand with practiced ease, subconsciously triggering the charging mechanism for continuous fire, as he sprinted from the room, bellowing incoherently to a squad of Dark Angels that were praying in the ante-room.
Their presence here was most inappropriate, Karllsen noted for the hundredth time. He had lodged an official complaint two days ago, ever since the bone white armoured terminators had arrived. He was intrigued by the presence of terminator armoured spacemarined in the inner sanctum of the throne room. Spacemarines were rarely allowed access to the inner depths of the throne room, unless they were ranking officers. Something big!
The Throne Room! He would need all the guns he could find. Any enemy that could penetrate, undetected, to the very heart of the Palace must be a mighty foe indeed.
Karlsen flew down the corridors, shouting frantically in to his communicator. His training was overcoming his initial panic. They had trained repeatedly for every eventuality, including this. But this was no training. And it was always different in real life!
He knew that the alarms must be sounding across the gargantuan palace.
At the guard chambers of the Adeptus Custodes.
At the Adeptus telepathica astral chambers.
At the Imperial Fists Fortress on Terra.
At the imperial guard barracks.
At the visitors chambers housing the Dark Angel contingents
But he was to be the first to be on the scene.
He had to protect the Emperor! With his life if need be. It was his sacred duty.
His men kept pace with him, charging their own weapons.
He could hear the white armoured terminators moving in behind him, surprised at their ability to keep pace despite their bulky armour.
The Throne Room!
The sealed sarcophagus of the Emperor, where none could enter save the High Lords themselves and the Adeptus Custodes, the guardians of the Imperial palace. The arcane, organic machinery of the Golden Throne almost filled the chamber, writhing across the walls and reaching almost to the height of the titanic ceiling. Alone, almost forgotten in the midst of the alchemical madness, sat the Emperor Himself, a shriveled husk of what had once been a man.
Karlsen fought the deep desire to kneel before the emperor's form, as he rapidly took in the scene before him, fighting for his breath and calming his thought. His weapon was already fully charged and pointing at the intruder!
A figure knelt before the shriveled carcass, its head almost touching the floor. The figure wore dark black robes and a cowl that hid its features. Underneath could be seen a glimpse of black power armour. A bolt pistol and plasma pistol dangled from a waist belt.
A spacemarine!!! What was a spacemarine doing in the throne room??? Karlsen's mind whirled! His training taking over as at an unspoken command his Adeptus Custodes watch-team fanned out along the periphery of the throne room their arms at the ready. Karlsen took a fleeting moment to marvel at his men's dedication and training. Within the blink of an eye they had covered the entire throne room, keeping all approaches and exits covered while others had the intruder squarely in their sights. No one will fire until his command!!
"My Lord," The thunder in the voice was concealed only slightly by the respect and humility of his posture. The intruder spoke! His voice cracked, rasped but had not lost the majesty of a once proud warrior. This was indeed a spacemarine Karlsen marveled. His weapon still trained at the intruders back.
"My Lord, I come here before you, to pledge my soul to you and beg forgiveness! -- he had not spoken as many words for a long, long time "Tell me that our long purgatory is finally at an end."
Karlsen noticed that the intruder had an ornate scabbard in his left hand. Ornate! Brilliantly beautiful! Even from where he stood, the majesty of the weapon was evident. It commanded respect. The intruder held it with almost pious devotion.
Karlsen's weapon still pointed at the intruders' back.
"...For your suffering and my suffering have been the one and the same. For ten thousand long years, we have both paid the price for our one moment of pride, and foolishness. And yet, I now beseech that the price has been paid in full..." The cowled head lifted fractionally. The figure place his right hand on the grip of the sword.
With a barely audible hiss a dozen secret entrances to the Throne Room slid open. More Adeptus Custodes teams reinforced his own. Unflinching men with their weapons targeting the "heretic" Yes! A heretic indeed! Thought Karlsen.
The deep rasping from the terminator suits breathing apparatus was the only evidence Karlsen had of the Bone white terminators sliding in to position behind them. The fluidity of their movement in such encumbered armour was beyond his comprehension.
A dozen stormbolters ponied directly at the intruders back! Others covered the positions of the Adeptus Custodes. They cover every eventuality, these marines! A moment of admiration was immediately replaced by the stark reality that these terminators may just as easily be willing to wipe out his men!!
The chronometer on his heads-up display revealed that 45 terran seconds had passed since the blaring of the Klaxons!! Time was indeed very still!