Part #1

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Ordo Xenos Classified

Segmentum: Obscurus

Sub-sector: Tsalka

System: Batumi

Planet: Samtredia

Watch Station: Svaneti

Relai moved through a series of unarmed combat disciplines, halting when he heard the vox-receiver chime. Although ready as ever for the unexpected, the Deathwatch Keeper felt frustrated at having to cease his controlled movements half way through the routine, for routine was everything.

Relai crossed to the bunker's control panel and the clacking of ceramite encased fingers on keys mixed with the whirring of electronics. The audio message fed directly into Relai's ear from within his black mark IV helmet.

The message was short, to the point, just how the ancient warrior liked it.

Visitors? Relai thought. No one ever comes here? A light within his helmet blinked, alerting him to two approaching craft. Brothers from my own chapter? Is my vigil over?

'Or a kill-team,' Relai said. The sound of his voice startled him. It was the first time he had spoken in months. 'I sound different; hoarse. That won't do.'

Relai cleared his throat and tried again, several times until his voice sounded acceptable.

Another light announced the landing of the two craft.

Crossing to a panel of lifeless green-screens, Relai keyed in a number of commands.

Several green-screens flickered to life, displaying reams of data. Alongside those, a bank of vid-screens showed grainy pictures of the terrain above the bunker. Ancient towers stood in the background of each screen; tall, angular structures with slanting roofs. Between two of those towers stood a planetary transport, its sleek form a harsh contrast to the black stormraven beside it, out of which walked five figures.

'A kill-team.' Relai frowned. Strange.

Five black-armoured space marines stood in a defensive arc around the front ramp of the gunship. Despite Relai's incredible eyesight, the images on the vid-screens were too poor to tell whether there was anyone left in the cockpit or dorsal turret of the stormraven. Nor could he determine which chapters the Battle-Brothers hailed from.

Following their disembarkation, the ramp of the planetary transport lowered and the unmistakable bulk of Watch Commander Abrant strode down.

The marines moved to the left of the main screen, heading between two of the red-stone towers. Relai keyed in another sequence and gears ground somewhere behind the walls with a judder. The old space marine watched a column of red stone rise from the ground a little to the left of the Watch Commander.

Relai's studded brow creased beneath his maximus helmet. He normally stands directly in front of the control column. Every time.

Reassuring himself it was because of the kill-team's Sergeant, who seemed to be talking none stop, Relai moved across his chamber. He lifted down his power-glaive from its housing before brushing down his richly embroidered purple robes with his left hand.

Multiple footsteps announced the descent of the Watch Commander and kill-team.

Before they reached the chamber in which Relai stood, the Deathwatch Keeper quickly rested his lengthy power weapon against his shoulder and checked his boltgun. Satisfied all was well, Relai moved to a protective firewall and stood stock still. With one last look at the black fist within a white circle emblazoned on his one yellow pouldron, Relai nodded to the memory of his fallen Battle-Brothers and turned forward, taking in the impressive Watch Commander as he reached the bottom step.

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