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Crusade for Antioc - Round 1


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#1
Aurelius Rex

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Round 1, Battle 1.
Sergeant Sigrat of the Legio vs. Malakai Kroenen of the Iron Warriors.


The corridor was proving to be a passable choke-point, with Sigrat and his brothers turning any Iron Warriors that tried to rush them into bloody, twitching bags of meat. Speed, and the Emperor’s divine guidance had seen Squad Sigrat reach an entrance to the ship’s engine room ahead of the defenders, but access to the engine room itself was proving a far harder task. It all depended if they could hold off long enough to get Corvan and his team over the threshold and cause enough damage to slow the ship. And that depended on whether the Iron Warriors could mass in time for an overwhelming assault.

With a bass, bestial roar that Sigrat felt as much as heard, the enemy attacked once more. He and his brothers sprayed automatic bolter-fire into the wall of grey-steel power armour, and the pack thinned. However, their leader, a multi-limbed ogre of a thing shrugged off the hail of explosive rounds with contemptuous ease. Luckily, Sigrat knew exactly how to deal with such abominations. When the creature was half-way down the corridor he switched the selector on his combi-weapon, and hosed the beast with the stored melta-charge.

The beast dropped in a stench of charred meat and vaporised metal, but to Sigrat’s amazement it doggedly got back to its feet and charged, trailing a cloud of fatty, acrid smoke. Disciplined fire-drill gave way to the clash of blades and the rending of armour and flesh. Sigrat lunged out with Tyriel’s ancient sword and severed one of the beast’s many arms in a gout of blood, but another jabbed forward like a piston and speared him through the shoulder. Someone - Brother Vivat? – dragged him back, but was in turn transfixed by multiple weapons and torn to pieces for his selflessness.

Then the traitor was on him again. Sigrat barely had time to dodge and parry the flurry of blows, all thought of offence gone. He must have missed his footing and was thrown back, hard, against the bulkhead, vision darkening. All around him his brothers were fighting and dying for him, and shamed by their example, Sigrat rose once more. Like him, the hulking monster was weakened and sluggish now, and for what seemed like an eternity they fought on, deadlocked. Every attack parried, every counterstrike turned aside.

With one final burst of strength, Sigrat launched himself at his enemy, and surprised by the change of tack, the Blade of Tyriel slipped past the traitor’s guard and sunk into its chest. Triumph was all-too short lived though, as metallic snakes – mechadendrites – slithered from the monster’s wrists and gripped Sigrat by the arms. Slowly, and with deliberate malice Sigrat was lifted off the ground, arms outstretched, with the Blade of Tyriel still embedded in the grinning monster’s chest.

‘That wasn’t deep enough to reach my hearts.’ said the monster in a surprisingly human voice. Metal strained against flesh as the mechadendrites continued to pull, and Sigrat felt his left shoulder dislocating. Fighting through the pain, he lifted up both legs and kicked the hilt of the sword, driving it deeper into the chest of the traitor.

When he awoke, Sigrat was slumped in the lee of the enormous corpse of his foe. The Iron Warriors were massing down the corridor for another attack. If this was going to be the end, he would face it with a bolter in his hand and his Chapter’s war-cry on his lips.

When the roar of his bolter came it was physical thing, louder, longer, and far more destructive than he could have imagined possible. He turned his head from the carnage to see a squad of mustard-yellow armoured terminators behind him, storm bolters smoking, and things became clearer. Amongst them, dwarfed by the titanic walking tanks stood Brother Corvan and the survivors of his squad. Corvan would explain later that sabotaging the engines had also damaged the shield array, allowing the terminators to teleport aboard.

‘Sergeant Sigrat, my compliments to you and your men from the Imperial Fists.’ said their leader as he hurried past, eager to do battle with their ancient enemy. Corvan helped him to his feet, and together they reclaimed what remained of their fallen brothers.


Victory to Sergeant Sigrat of the Legio.

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#2
Aurelius Rex

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(Author: Several Concerned Cricketers)

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The mass conveyance vessel Fidelity's Reward eased its blunt nose out of the Warp and into realspace around Antioc. Slowly the giant cargo ship pivoted to face the planet and moved in-system. Commandeered by the Crusade Fidelity's Reward had been modified by the Mechanicus and was no longer the helpless, ponderous whale she appeared to be. On board were a crew of Tech-Adepts, servitors and Skitarii Tech-Guard, manning upgraded and uprated weapons systems. She also carried five infinitely more dangerous individuals, veteran warriors of the Legio, clad in Tactical Dreadnought Armour and each standing by the newly installed teleport pads.

Sergeant Augustus shook his head as he reviewed Captain Golgotha's plan, wondering that a descendant of the Imperial Fists' bloodline could produce so unorthodox, so un-Codex a plan. More than three centuries of service as an Ultramarine had left Augustus with a firm belief that to step outside the Codex was to invite trouble and the plan he was duty-bound to follow seemed to him to be the worst kind of folly.

Tactical data scrolled aross his field of view, superimposed by the ancient systems of his Terminator armour. The Fidelity's Reward would enter the Antioc system where its emergence would draw one of the pickets out of place to investigate the Warp emergence. A fat trading ship would pose no danger to the sleek, deadly destroyers of the picket and the capture of the vessel and its nominal cargo of foodstuffs would be a feather in the cap of the captain who accomplished it. With capture in mind the enemy would close to within teleporter range thus allowing Augustus and his squad to teleport aboard and disable the vessel. With the picket-ship out of action the Legio fleet commanded by Captain Antaeus would have a narrow window in which to approach Antioc undetected. Augustus sighed heavily, the plan made so many assumptions, was filled with so many potential points of failure that it had taken all his self-discipline not to protest when Captain Golgotha had assigned him the mission.

Warning tones sounded through the ship as sensors reported an enemy destroyer closing on Fidelity's Reward quickly and Augustus led his squad in the final rites of battle, their fierce chants echoing in the cavernous cargo bay cum teleport room and added a silent prayer of his own that some of Golgotha's renowned luck would rub off on him and his squad.

+++

The Seething Dark glided majestically across the sable background of space, one of more than 30 small spacecraft that formed a picket around Antioc, their sensors and psykers augmenting the automated Mechanicus stations that had survived the invasion. A Hoplite class destroyer, the Seething Dark was truly ancient, its keel laid down during the time of the Great Crusade, its once noble features now a damascened and gilded mockery of Imperial sigils and symbols. To the trained eye the perverted art works and insignia indicated the craft belonged to the Night Lords Traitor Legion. To the untrained eye the craft indicated misery, pain and above all - fear.

The bridge was even darker, more twisted and fear inducing than the ship's grotesque hull. Servitors hunched over consoles more than their deformed frames demanded, their eyes, those that had eyes, locked on the floor, even their primitive cognitive functions petrified by the figure standing in the captain's pulpit - the Butcher of Vogen. Known to his comrades as Monios of the Night Lords the corrupted Astartes was a figure even his own Traitor Marines feared, millenia of fighting at the forefront of the Night Lord's battles had left many wondering at the sanity of their leader.

Monios himself cared little for their worries, he had long ago ceased to enjoy the company of his comrades, preferring the twitching, writhing blade sheathed at his hip. All that mattered to the Night Lord now was power and fear was power and he smiled grimly at the thought of his new mission. The Warmaster's orders to reinforce the picket had been unexpected, many in the Legion of Fear murmured their leader had lost faith in Monios and was punishing him with picket duty. But Monios knew Tomax had a reason behind everything he did and was confident the picket had been reinforced for a reason and there was only one reason to reinforce the picket - Tomax expected an invasion...

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#3
Aurelius Rex

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(Author: Several Concerned Cricketers)

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Sergeant Augustus watched the battle unfold on the small hololith table in the teleporter room as it showed the enemy destroyer closing on the Fidelity's Reward as she turned to flee the oncoming vessel, playing the role of hapless trader to the hilt. He watched as the Hoplite class vessel fired a handful of shots at the cargo ship, clearly aiming to knock her engines out. The Mechanicus crew of the Fidelity followed the plan, spiking reactors and simulating crippling engine damage before shutting them down completely as the second volley of Chaos shots rocked the ship. Augustus grimaced as the reactor readouts spiked again and damage control parties were sent scurrying to the enginarium, perhaps the damage was more real than the plan called for.

If the Imperial vessel didn't follow Golgotha's plan exactly the Chaos raider now identified as the Seething Dark did, closing on the Fidelity in the space of just a few hours before slewing to point her broadside at the vessel, daring it to try anything foolish. Short range shuttles leapt from launch bays concealed in baroque scrollwork near the bridge and Augustus motioned TechMarine Barica to begin the teleport rituals, once the enemy boarders reached the Fidelity Augustus' mission would commence. Again Augustus grimaced, not liking the plan, it went against all he had learned to abandon his fellow Imperial warriors, even non-Astartes, to the tender mercies of a Night Lord boarding party but he knew his small squad's best chance of success lay in striking the enemy vessel while its premier fighting men were occupied.

+++

Monios grinned as his sensors detected reactor spikes onboard the obese cargo vessel and barked in triumph as its engines flared then died.

'All batteries, cease fire.'

The Night Lord's voice was barely a whisper but the crew obeyed with alacrity, fearful of angering their lord. He beckoned his second, Musea and ordered him to gather a boarding party, before giving the necessary orders to bring the Seething Dark into boarding range. Musea saluted and headed for the shuttle bay, summoning Monios' men to their duty. Just hours later Monios gave the order to launch the shuttles and settled back into his command couch to watch his men unleash terror on the crew of the crippled Imperial vessel.

+++

Augustus shook his head as the Night Lords board the Fidelity's Reward unable to believe that Golgotha's over-complicated plan was unfolding so smoothly. He nodded at Barica and the TechMarine finished the teleport ritual with a flourish. The Legio marine's autosenses cut out the blinding flash of the teleporter and when they restored his sight his worst fears had been realised - his squad was scattered all over the Seething Dark and he was standing alone in the middle of the enemy bridge.

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#4
Aurelius Rex

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Round 1, Battle 3
Lt. Monios of the Night Lords vs Sgt. Augustus Decimus Nell of the Legio

(Author: Several Concerned Cricketers)

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Monios' armour saved his sight as the actinic light of a teleport flared in the bridge. Even before the flare had faded and his sight was restored Monios was moving, the chaotic blade Haud Mortuus leaping into his hand of its own volition. As his vision cleared he saw a lone figure in black Terminator armour on the comms bridge below his command couch. Monius launched himself over the banister of the command bridge, arrowing at the figure below. The Terminator's storm bolter chattered as the Legio marine dove desperately to the side to avoid the keening edge of Haud Mortuus. With an agility that surprised the Night Lord the marine rolled to his feet storm bolter still slamming out round after round. The Night Lord smiled behind his helmet as his enemy sprayed bolter fire everywhere but at him, clearly the sight of the infamous Butcher of Vogen had unmanned the Emperor's lackey and fear had taken control.

+++

Augustus backpedalled as the Night Lord advanced, his storm bolter still spewing mass reactive rounds at the communications gear surrounding him. It didn't matter if he lost his life to the traitor, for Golgotha's plan to work and the Crusade to have any chance of success he had to destroy the Seething Dark's comm array. Bolter rounds tore through cogitators, servitors and corrupted astropaths alike, in moments the Chaos vessel would be silenced...

+++

Monios finally recognised his opponent's heraldry - a Legionnaire! Tomax would reward him well for the skull of this one, the Warmaster's hatred of the Legio Bolter and Chainsword was legendary. The Night Lord continued his rapid advance, snapping off shots from his bolt pistol as the Legio coward continued to fall back from his fell blade. With Chaos granted speed Monios darted forward, Haud Mortuus screeched as it bit through layers of ceramite only to be denied the taste of flesh by the adamantine core of the Terminator armour. Finally the Legionnaire seemed to come to his senses and focus on the Night Lord.

+++

His storm bolter ran dry as the last of his clip was emptied into a bank of corrupt organic machinery. There was no more he could do to wreck the comm array and Augustus was free now to face his foe. Before he could react his armour's systems were warning of failure as the tainted blade of his foe struck at him again, this time biting through both ceramite and adamantium to scaplel across his ribs. Pain gripped his chest and he fought for breath as he struck out blindly with his own blade, the ancestral weapon of the Nell family, a blade said to have been blessed by the Primarch Guilliman himself, missing the traitor marine by feet as he danced out of the way with astonishing speed.

+++

Monius darted in again, preternaturally fast, Haud Mortuus licking at the Legionnaire's armour again and again, unable to defeat the Terminator armour. Anger building, Monius continued his onslaught.

+++

Augustus could barely see his enemy's blade so fast was it moving, the traditional sword forms learnt in the Temple of Correction were near useless and he despaired of ever breaking the traitor's defences. He barely deflected another blow and cursed as his riposte was beaten off easily. A small, cruel voice inside his head told Augustus he was going to die unless he did something and quickly, even Tactical Dreadnought Armour had weakpoints and the traitor was bound to find one sooner or later. Augustus laughed as the answer came to him - Golgotha!

The former Ultramarine dropped his storm bolter and grabbed at the Night Lord's blade as it flashed at him again. Wrapping his armoured fingers around the cursed weapon he yanked his enemy off balance, thrusting his family's ancient blade deep into his enemy's vitals. With daemonic strength the Night Lord ripped his blade free of Augustus' grip, severing the last two fingers on the Legionaire's hand and smashing the hilt into his face. With his free hand he grabbed at Augustus' sword, struggling to keep the loyalist from shoving the sword further into his gut.

Augustus recoiled under the blow of the hilt and the shock of losing his fingers but wrapped his injured hand around his sword's hilt and drove the blessed blade another inch into the dark blue armour of the traitor. Grunting with effort he ordered his Terminator armour to amplify his strength as he struggled to drive the blade deeper yet.

+++

Monius' breathing was laboured despite his suit's best efforts to calm him with drugs and pain-killers. He could feel the sword in his guts twisting as the Terminator's strength slowly pushed the sword deeper, never in his millenia of war had he felt such pain. He dropped Haud Mortuus and the tainted weapon screeched in fury. With both hands on the Legionnaire's blade Monius applied his waning Chaos-gifted strength to reversing the blade. With a sucking sound the weapon came free and Monius felt only relief at the abscence of pain.

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Augustus felt the traitor's strength overwhelming even the power his Terminator armour gave him. Despite his best efforts he was losing the struggle. Yielding to the inevitable the sergeant reversed the pressure, dragging the consecrated blade from the traitor's body and bringing it to high guard. Augustus watched in surprise as Night Lord slumped to his knees, suddenly as still as he had been silent throughout the battle. Raising his sword above the torpid traitor's bowed neck Augustus spoke.

'When your soul is eaten by your own unholy gods, tell them Augustus Decimus Nell sent you!'

The blade swept down and the traitor's head was seperated from his neck.

+++

In the aftermath of the duel Augustus had been amazed to see none of the bridge crew move against him. They simply stayed at their posts, refusing to look up even as he riddled them with bolter rounds from his reloaded storm bolter. Within minutes he had been joined by Brothers Crown and Quint and together the three surviving Legionnaires set about disabling the Seething Darkness.

+++

On board the Legio Battle Barge, Captain Antaeus shook his head in wonder as Sergeant Augustus reported the success of his mission. The former Ultramarine must have been blessed by the same saint as Golgotha to enable him to pull off the newly promoted Captain's seemingly insane plan to break through the picket line undetected.

Antaeus prayed their luck would hold and that the other Legio strike teams would be as successful in silencing their enemies...

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Victory to Sergeant Augustus of the Legio

#5
Aurelius Rex

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(Author: Aurelius Rex)

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With the picket-line breached, the fleet swept in…

On cue, explosions blossomed silently among the orbital defences and assembled Chaos fleet. Not large enough to destroy, but sufficient to cause hull breaches, internal fires and massive power loss. Captain Aenides and his men had sought only to sow disarray amongst the defenders; to leave them vulnerable to the Crusading fleet. Two minutes later explosions went off across the planet’s surface, but only the detonations at the Saelus Star promethium refinery and main armoury in Herada were visible from orbit through the enshrouding banks of smog.

A vanguard of Crusader ships headed directly for the Gaias space station, in orbit above the northern pole. They streaked past lolling enemy vessels, knowing that they had a more important priority. They did not even slow when targeted by ships with more organised captains. Every vanguard vessel was focussed upon their goal. Gaias; the hub of Antioc’s network of automated defence platforms. It was a majestic gothic cathedral in space, which according to the Mechanicus had stood guard over the planet since before the Great Crusade.

A shoal of torpedoes streaked towards the space station, only to be intercepted by Gaias’s hastily scrambled defence squadrons. Two torpedoes slipped past and struck the station, yet neither detonated. The vanguard left the defence squadrons in their wake, and closed upon the station. Around them, enemy fire from the station began to increase, as more weapons batteries and platforms were brought back on-line. An Aurora Chapter Strike Cruiser took heavy damage and was crippled by internal explosions, while two other vessels were forced to break off. The bulk, however, bore down upon Gaias.

But they did not open fire.

Instead, from every ship poured a flock of Thunderhawks and assault boats, which converged upon the space station while the larger vessels withdrew. Few individuals are powerful enough to dictate to the Master of a Crusade, but the Fabricator-General of the Adeptus Mechanicus was one such person. His commandment was clear: Under no circumstances was the Gaias station to be destroyed. It must be taken intact.

+++

Explorator Forb updated the encryption protocols and distributed them to his tech-servitors. There had been so little space in the assault boat that there had been no room for his usual phalanx of Skitarii. In their stead he had been assigned a squad of Legio Bolter & Chainsword Astartes.

He had been overcome by emotion on being told that he would be sent into the Gaias station - he had nearly smiled! - and now here he was in the Master-Control Room, easing the burden of the station’s spirit and chanting the Rites of Aquiescence.

It was heartbreaking to see the place desecrated so, both from its time under the renegades, and due to what the Legio Kill Teams had done to it. Their journey from the landing area had passed through large areas that were decompressed, others ravaged by fire, and everywhere was the stink of burnt electronics.

Grudgingly he knew it had been the only way. It was better, at least, than the alternative. The military planners had actually wanted to bombard the station to pieces! They had been unable to see the inherent value of such an ancient, irreplaceable relic of the Dark Age of Technology. Only when the Mechanicus had spelled it out it in stark, military terms had they finally taken notice. Recapturing the station intact would allow the automated orbital defence network to be deactivated, but if destroyed, there would be no way to commune and reason with their machine spirits. The individual platforms would continue with their last instructions, and continue attacking the Imperial fleet until one or both were destroyed.

He looked around at his Legio minders; rough, haggard, dirty looking fellows in heavily scuffed black power armour. Were these the men who had attached demolition charges to one of the wonders of Segmentum Obscuras? He shuddered. Anyone who would treat the spirits of their armour in such a fashion could be capable of anything.

+++

While the abhuman was bustling around the consoles, muttering his chants, Sergeant Ferrum monitored the vox-net. Heavy fighting was taking place all over the station, with the White Consuls, Sons of Orar and the Red Talons meeting the fiercest resistance. His brothers were purging the Red Corsairs from the station, and he yearned to be at their side rather than be left on guard duty.

From what he could tell, the Mechanicus operation was taking longer than anticipated. Either through damage suffered, or changes made by Tomax and his lackeys, the command needed to be relayed to the logic engines of each platform individually. Even with the Tech-adept’s team of servitors, there would be weapons platforms firing on the fleet for at least an hour.

‘Movement.’ Came the whisper over his squad voxnet. It was Brother Asper. Ferrum had sent his squad to secure the perimeter. The next message was garbled, broken, and ended in a hiss of static.

Then there was the unmistakable sound of bolter-fire.

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#6
Aurelius Rex

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Round 1, Battle 2
Explorator Forb (AM) and Sergeant Ferrum (Legio) against Lieutenant Croix (Red Corsairs).


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‘The Expendables.’ said Lieutenant Croix into his vox-link. ‘You all know that is what the Traitor Legions down there call us.’ He would have preferred a more stirring position than hiding in a ventilation shaft from which to address his men, but needs must…

He spoke to the Red Corsairs all over the station, fighting for their lives against the invaders. He stung them with the reminder of how the Legio Bolter and Chainsword had destroyed their base and ships in the asteroid belt. He fired them with oratory of how they had returned to Antioc as pariahs, and finally he energised them with a rallying cry to prove the Warmaster wrong about them. It was a fine speech under the circumstances, worthy of those damnable Word Bearers if he said so himself, but he wondered how many of his brothers were still alive to hear it.

As soon as the enemy ships appeared on the hololith, Croix had realised that the space station was an obvious target for an Imperial attack. It held such a pivotal place in the defence of the planet that it would inevitably have to be targeted with overwhelming force. They would either destroy it, or in this case, swamp it with assault troops to crush all resistance. In the event of invasion, anyone sent to garrison it would effectively be classed as expendable.

Perhaps it was gross paranoia, but all of a sudden the Warmaster’s personal decree to have the Corsairs replace his prized Legion of Fear on board the station pointed to a very worrying conclusion… Had Tomax suspected this invasion was coming, and had he left a surprise for any elite forces that tried to take the station?

The small explosive device he had on his belt – now deactivated – was damning proof. He might be paranoid, but was he paranoid enough?

Vox traffic indicated that his brothers were putting up a valiant fight, but there was nothing he could do now to save them. He could only avenge them. Croix was the veteran of scores of boarding actions, and while it was uncomfortable to be on the receiving end, the principles were still the same. He and his inner circle had hidden while the attackers swept past – an old smugglers trick – and were now free to move around behind enemy lines.

They needed to get to the control room to release the escape pods. It was the easiest way off the station, and he had to get a message to the Warmaster. He glanced down in anger at the explosive on his belt. The message was that the Red Corsairs were not an expendable asset.

He was so distracted that he did not see the black armoured figure up ahead, but was pulled back out of the hail of bolter-shells just in time by his second, Kerenna.

So much for subtlety, he thought. ‘Open fire!’

+++

Sergeant Ferrum saw the Corsairs burst through the far-doors of the control room and paused only to drop one with a kraken round through the throat. His squad was converging, but until they arrived he was the only one there to protect the Mechanicus and his helpless servitors.

The most of the Corsairs were bearing down on the short abhuman, but one had stopped and was whooping in delight as he pumped round after round into the vacantly gazing menials. Ferrum raced to stand in front of his small charge and shield him from incoming fire.

‘Get behind me and find cover, you idiot!’ he shouted, but Forb just snorted in derision.

‘Not while my creations are in danger!’ The little man pulled an enormous power-axe from his belt. ‘This thing isn’t ceremonial, you know!’

A Corsair dived at Sergeant Ferrum, while the leader lunged at Forb. An efficient stab through the hearts and a bullet in the brain dealt with his opponent, and he turned, fully expecting to see the Corsair leader standing over a corpse, but the mechanicus was holding his own. He stepped forward to try to help, to turn aside a wicked thrust, but the blades kicked back against one another and the Corsair chainsword flicked down into Forb’s thigh with a meaty chewing sound and a spray of blood.

Forb fell back, muttering curses through gritted teeth, and Ferrum pressed home the attack. One slice sunk deep into the renegade’s side, chewing through armour, bone and internal organs, and he brought round the chainsword to separate the man’s head from his body, but a bionic arm jabbed up to fend off the blow and his chainsword… stalled! .

‘This is for hurting my creations’ shouted Forb, who barged past with renewed vigour to get at the grievously injured Corsair. Even over the din of combat he recognised the roar of his brother’s bolters, and moments later Algidus, Silex and Renid stormed in to engage the last remaining enemies. He looked back in time to see the Corsair leader hoarsely whisper something to Forb, before the tech-adept’s servo-arm pincered forward and crushed his head.

A relative calm settled on the room, with the exception of the muttering of the remaining servitors and the dripping of blood.

‘What did he say, Forb?’ asked Ferrum.

‘He made a last request, and gave me this.’ said Forb, holding out an evil-looking explosive device. ‘He made me promise that I would kill the Warmaster for him. I won’t do it, of course.’ He looked round at the stunned faces of the Legio.

‘I am going to kill the Warmaster for the Omnissiah!’ He grinned.

+++

Victory to Explorator Forb (AM) and Sergeant Ferrum (Legio)

#7
Ferrata

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Round 1, Battle 4.
Wolf Guard Battle Leader Rroth of the Space Wolves vs. Renit the Blood-Stained (Traitor) and Inquisitor Lord Rogan of the Ordo Malleus


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Sirens screamed everywhere. Members of the crew swarmed over the ship likes ants swarmed from their hills. The Imperial transport vessel, the White Laurel, had now been slowly drifting in space for too long, falling behind the rear guard ships. The Laurel itself was meant to be the reactionary section of the rear guard, to board any enemy vessels which attacked the rear of the transport caravan. Her speed and boarding vessels made her the perfect ship for the job, along with her deadly cargo; any enemy vessel reckless enough to assault an Imperial war caravan would have been destroyed swiftly.

Her cargo consisted of mainly regiments of Imperial Guard, all specialising in ship-to-ship combat and equipped with close quarter fire arms. The Guard were the swarm, able to take large sections of a ship quickly and reinforce them so they would not fall, the job of acting as the knife fell to the Astartes. Their heavy power armour, devastating bolters and brute strength made them perfect for taking key parts of the ship. For this job, Antaeus had assigned a pack of Space Wolves under the command of Wolf Guard Rroth, a veteran of a thousand battles. Much to Rroth’s objections, an inquisitor had also been assigned to the defence of the ship.

The malfunction had occurred soon after leaving warp space and entering real space, though no-one was quite sure why it had malfunctioned. One of the starboard engines had exploded, causing a fire to spread across the rear of the ship. The auto-response devices had failed to respond, allowing the fire to pass through unhindered.

The inferno had already claimed many lives; the captain had personally given the order to seal the fire doors on the rear of the ship, an action which had unfortunately sealed the death of several hundred guardsmen who had been unlucky enough to be given sleeping quarters at that end of the ship. To have the ship fall this far behind the rest of the transport caravan would seal the fate of all the men aboard; it would also risk the lives of every single member of the crusade, as an attack from the rear undetected would cripple the momentum of the crusade.

Through sheer man power, gutted determination and unquestionable authority, the captain had managed to quell the fire and change the power ratio’s of the engines so the ship would be able to return to its place, although her speed had been reduced drastically, less of a speeding eagle, more a limping duck. As he released a sigh of relief, another tremble rocked the ship, strong enough to make many men lose their balance. As the damage report came in, the captain knew this was too unfortunate to be misfortune, this was sabotage.

++

The Swift Retribution was on elongated patrol duty, being ordered to patrol the space outside of the detection range of Antioc, a task granted to those forces yet to prove their loyalty to Tomax. The Swift Retribution was a relatively new ship compared to many of the other vessels in Tomax’s fleet, being younger than a thousand years old, a Disciple class Destroyer which had seen few hard battles. It was swifter than many of its older counterparts and thus was perfect as a recon vessel which could hold its own in battle.

The commander of the Swift Retribution was also a captain of the Relentless Wolves, a chapter burnt by the Inquisition, by the Imperium, by the Emperor. They had found refuge in the armies of Tomax and now served him, even if his orders put them on degrading patrol duties. Captain Renit had been one the most forward captains of the chapter, one of the first to renounce the Emperor and the Imperium, and one of the first to fall to whispers of the chaos gods. He had brought thirty of his closest allies in the chapter to Antioc with him, hoping that this force would bring fame to the chapter through the circles of chaos.

Renit starred into the night sky, like usual, nothing on the radars, nothing making a psychic imprint, nothing making any kind of signal for him to detect. He was just about to turn away from the bridge when his eyes burnt with white light. It took him a while to regain his sight; his retina had just suffered from an overdose of light and had spent its chemical stock. By the time his eye sight returned, data was already running of the machines, light spectrums, radiation levels, sound recorders and co-ordinates of the incident. As servitors compiled the information, the causes of the incident slowly dwindled down to one possible cause, plasma generator core over heat resulting in a devastating explosion. Like a flare in the night sky, the plasma generator had just pin pointed the precise location of a ship, a ship which the Retribution was duty bound to investigate.

The protocol for such a situation would require Renit to report back to Antioc, and then head off to investigate the situation while some of Tomax’s more trusted men would come and gain the glory of the capture, or the slaughter. Renit never followed protocol when he was a loyal warrior of the Imperium, why should he follow protocol when he was a barbarian of a chaos war master? Ordering his men to prepare for boarding actions, Renit set a course for the co-ordinates of the explosion, to locate the poor ship he was about to pillage.

The Imperium was a fool, its systems easily accessible with the right key codes, and these codes were easily brought at the right price. Renit smiled as saw the contents of the ship, Guardsmen, Inquisition and Astartes; he bared his fangs as he read “of the Space Wolves chapter.� Such a renowned chapter would make a perfect sacrifice to Tomax, further proving their loyalty to the War master and the pantheon of chaos.

Swift Retribution was soon upon the White Laurel, the later being crippled by the explosion which had resulted in critical low power as all power was diverted to defence mechanisms to enclose the devastating blast of radiation which had ripped through the vessels underneath. Unable to power the engines, the Laurel had been left stranded, and struggling to call for aid, it was a sitting duck to who ever noticed its corpse. Retribution remained out of gun range as such pillaging and slaughter is best done by hand than from the guns of a ship.

++

Inquisitor Rogan felt a sense of power, even more than usual. His eyes flickered back as he closed his mind to his surroundings. Concentrating on a single point in space, he reached out with his mind, trying to find something or someone. After a few minutes of searching, he finally found the psychic imprint he was searching for. With a twitch of his mind he sent a message;

“The ship is yours, bring the daemonica.�

++

“Boarding Vessels; Port Side; Level 12 [Alpha]; Section 249d�

The message repeated in Rroth’s ear; implants allowed incoming messages to be voiced directly into his ear. Normal marines wore helmets, with vis-screens and vox-comms integrated within them, but not a Space Wolf, it would dim the senses that the Canis Helix granted them, that Russ granted them. Rroth’s men had quickly headed themselves to the location the boarding vessels were targeted for, if the enemy was going to take the ship, they would have to fight through Space Wolves to get it.

Rroth’s men numbered fewer than thirty marines, but they were the best fighting force on the ship and, according to Rroth’s belief, the best fighting force in the crusade. His personal squad of Blood Claws stood by his side, like his children. They were able pups, strong, skilled, reliable if a little head strong. Rroth was proud of this litter of pups; they were some of the best he had nurtured, though he wondered if they were ready for what could come from those vessels.

“The first one to get a kill gets a free punch at me after the battle!� laughed Rroth, attempting to lift the spirits of his men.

Haakon, Rroth’s closest friend and trusted advisor, stood with his Grey Hunters, veterans of as many battles as Rroth himself. Not as head strong as the Blood Claws, the Grey Hunters were Rroth’s back-up, if all else failed, he knew these men would get the job done. Through all the litters of pups Rroth had passed through his academy, these few men had stood by his side. They had fought daemons side-by-side, they had slaughtered Orks in uncountable numbers and they would charge what ever foul beast spewed from these vessels.

“Vessels closing, two hundred metres.�

Another message rung in Rroth’s ear. Gripping his axe hard and flexing the fingers of his power fist, he ran a last check of his men. Haakon’s squad present, Sverrir’s squad present, his squad pres…where was Vannar? Damn stupid runt.

“Haakon, you seen Vannar?� bellowed Rroth, his voice show slight traces of worry and concern.

Haakon never had time to answer as Rroth’s heightened senses saw a flicker of movement near the port wall, right where the vessels were expected. Damn! The fool must have taken my joke seriously, trying to get that damn free swing at me; doesn’t he know how boarding vessels work?

Rroth tried to shout out a warning to the young pup, but it was too late. The wall buckled as the vast mass of the vessel ravaged through, brutally forcing its way through. Vannar was thrown back by the sheer force of the impact, but he was relatively unharmed. Foolishly, the pup stood up and readied himself for the contents of the vessel, forgetting the other vessels which were on route. As the second vessel grinded through the wall, the first blew its hatch, breathing a ball of plasma from its hatches, a deterrent for any warrior brave enough to stand against the forces inside. Rroth watched in horror as the young pup vanished, his body melted by the seething plasma ball. As the contents of vessel spilled into the corridor, Rroth raised his axe.

“Death or Glory boys! Death or Glory!�

++

“Boarding Vessels; Port Side; Level 12 [Alpha]; Section 249d�

Inquisitor Rogan nodded as his personal scribe noted the incoming message. Rogan rubbed his hands in glee; he hadn’t been this excited since he had acquired the dark incense all those years ago. Maybe that had been the start of his fall, maybe he hadn’t even begun to fall yet, but for one reason or another, over time he had begun to think less about the Imperium and the Emperor and more about himself. He had worked hard, put his life on the line countless number of times, and he got nothing. Nothing until he had summoned Vulgare, a daemon host which had accompanied him for almost a decade now. Then things had started to happen to Rogan, he got promoted, he got the better cases, the more important cases. In his peers’ eyes he was on the verge of falling to the great enemy. Maybe they were right, he had sold an Imperial Crusade and a forge world, leaving the gate open for a chaos crusade, but he had witnessed nothing but greatness since venturing to the radical side. He was on the verge of becoming a god and nothing, not even his conscience, was going to stop him.

He hurried his walk, sending command orders to his Inquisitorial storm troopers, who had manage to gain sleeping quarters away from the rear of the ship. He was saddened that so many innocent men had to die for his gift, but that had chosen such an end when they signed up for the Imperial Guard. Lars had managed to sneak into the engine rooms, placing several large explosive devices around the engines, and especially the plasma generator, so when the time came, Rogan could cripple the ship and make it an easy target for the delivery.

He had set his men up to guard the entrance to the landing zone of the vessels, making sure no-one go in to witness the transaction, even if it meant shooting upon crew members, guardsmen or Astartes. His men would follow his orders, through fear of the Inquisition and through the belief in they were doing right, the Emperor’s Will. His retinue would guard him while the transaction took place, to make sure no funny business occurred, and Tiny, the ogryn, was very persuasive when it came to reducing the amount of funny business.

With his troops in place, Rogan walked into the section were the incoming vessels were destined for. He was surprised by the speed they had arrived, eager no doubt to gain revenge. He supported himself against the wall as the first vessel hit the vessel, its penetration being more about brute strength than precision. As the second and third vessels hit, a terrible scream ripped through the corridor, which signalled bad news for Rogan, no-one was meant to be here. As he exited the corridor and into the cargo room, he saw the source of his concerns, Space Wolves. The interfering sons of bitches, they will have to pay for their actions with their lives.

++

“Fan out on exit. Form firing lines, cover all the entrances.�

Renit didn’t know why he bothered issuing orders like that, his men knew what to do already, they were professionals. They had done this a hundred times before, if not a thousand times before. He knew when the dung hit the fan; his men would come through fighting and victorious. He looked around the vessel, nine other men, marines of his chapter, nine other warriors who along with him had fallen into the clutches of chaos, away from the cruel light of the Imperium.

As the vessel crashed against the hull of the Imperial ship, his men checked their bolters one last time. Professionals as always.

Renit smiled as he heard a scream from inside the ship, some fool must have forgotten about the plasma launchers. One enemy was dead, and they hadn’t even fired a shot yet. As his squad filled out of the vessel, fanning out as they knew, Renit could hear the roar of a warrior, a wolf most likely. The words rung in his ears before bolter fire filled the room Death or Glory….

Raising his bolt pistol, Renit levelled it on the charging beast, obviously the pack leader. Renit was drilled, he was a sharp shooter and he knew it. When it mattered, he could hit his target, no matter the chaos and carnage that was happening around him, he could blank it out and concentrate on his target. Squeezing the trigger, he released a single silver bullet towards his target. As the bullet impacted with its target, Renit had the rush of pleasure that accompanied a perfect shot. The bullet had found the weak spot of power armour, the joints, especially around the groin area. The Space Wolf stumbled, but his momentum carried him forward, still charging towards the bolter lines of Renit’ men.

At a glance, Renit checked the status of the fire fight. Squad Gamma had been assaulted by a squad of impatient warriors, and was quickly being subdued by the raw energy of their attackers. Squad Beta were on the back foot, trying to give supporting fire to Squad Gamma, while making sure they didn’t lead themselves open to assault from the charging wolves. Renit barked out more orders to his men over the vox-comms. Raising his axe in the air, he yelled one last order:

“Prepare for combat men.�

++

Rroth could feel the shooting pains in his groin, it was quickly being clotted by his enhanced blood, but the bullet still burnt. He tried to block out the pain, he had suffered many wounds before and he was still here to charge into this rabble of traitors, so this wound would prove no different. He lowered his head, ready to bull rush his opponent, the traitor scum which had shot him. With his axe grasped within the great palm of his power fist, the first blow would be devastating.

The young Blood Claws were doing well. One squad had been able to assault from the cargo crates, tying up a number of the enemy in combat, while the second squad were only a few metres behind himself. With the fury of the a wolf, the courage of a human and the heart of Russ, victory would be theirs. He was mere metres away from his enemy, he could sense everything about the scum, he wreaked of oil and polish, fancy traitor boys. Within striking range, he brought his great axe round.

++

Renit ducked the blow, it was slow, it was clumsy and most of all, it was predictable. He spun round ready to receive the a second attack, but the clumsy giant had over paced himself and was unable to stop without travelling out of striking range. By the time the loyalist had turned round, Renit was already all over him with his axe whirling through the air, almost too fast for the eyes. With each other’s squad tied up with one another, this was going to be a personal duel, a combat between two wolves, a fight to the death.

++

Rroth cursed himself for his foolishness, but he would have to wait till later to punish himself for such a rookie mistake. If he was one of his Blood Claws, they would be on the late shift for the next three months. Using his axe one handed now, hoping to distract his opponent with a flurry of attacks only to bring the devastating weight of his power fist round on them, he begun to push the traitor back. He was on top of his opponent, barely giving him time to react to the endless axe blows, but every time he brought his power fist round, the damn traitor managed to scrape away at the last moment, requiring Rroth to rebuild his momentum.

Rroth had gained the upper hand through pure aggression and skill alone when a member of Haakon’s squad came flying past him, a lifeless body crushing against the wall. No human should be able to conjure the strength for such attack. It wasn’t any human; it was an ogryn, and a large one at that. Rroth felt his gut wrench, damn Inquisitor, you could never trust a member of the Inquisition, especially one so quiet.

The sickening feeling in his stomach was quickly replaced by the pain of cold steel as his opponent brought his large axe round and straight across Rroth’s chest. Rroth could feel the shooting pain from his groin no longer, it had been numbed by the over bearing anguish from his chest. His blood was working overtime to attempt to clot the massive wound, but his secondary heart had been almost cleaved in two, his rib cage had been smashed and his breathing began to shallow.

Rroth dropped to his knees, his eyes already beginning to fill with blood. His axe-hand went limp, dropping the weapon to the ground. Rroth tried to focus on the events of the room, but his head was spinning. His Blood Claws had managed to overrun most of the enemy, but they were slowly falling to close ranged bolter fire and the stubborn determination of the enemy. Haakon’s Grey Hunters had almost been wiped out, the ogryn causing havoc amongst them.

Haakon was faring worst than his leader; the ogryn had crushed his legs and the damn traitor Inquisitor had ruptured his spleen. Haakon begun to drag himself across the floor, past the fallen bodies of foe and friend alike, his legs were of no use, but his arms still had strength. He reached for his sword, he couldn’t kill his friends attacker, but he could god dammit give him some time. As Haakon swung his sword, his body failed him, his strength dissipated. His sword hardly reached the traitors feet, merely tapping his shin guards, but the traitor was distracted. Laughing, Renit brought his axe down on the cripple’s neck, decapitating him in one swing. A tear ran down Rroth’s cheek, he had fought along side Haakon for over two centuries and to know such a great friend had given his life for you brought you new strength.

Either through sheer willingness, anger or thirst for revenge, Rroth was able to summon enough strength to lift his power fist; he was ready to seek vengeance on his friend’s murder. Filling his weakened lungs with air, he brought his power fist crashing down on the traitor to his scream of “For Russ!�

The words echoed in the room, so lost in the carnage of battle, but it still it had brought Rroth strength. The power fist had struck against the foul champion, cracking his armour, winding the foul creature. Chunks of admantium now buried themselves in the champion’s body as he fell to the ground. Rroth managed to bring himself up to a half stand, half crouching position, and slowly closed on the champion. The champion was still moving, the power fist had only stunned him, not killed him. Rroth raised his axe high above his head, execution style…

++

Renit could hardly breathe, the damn wolf had winded him, but he was alive and that was all that mattered. He knew the wolf leader would soon be on him, raising his axe high ready to deliver a final killing blow but there was little Renit could do. His axe was no where to be seen and he could only see one other weapon, the sword of the cripple who had died just moments before. It was just out of reach, his fingers stroking the blade of the weapon. Gathering all his force, he reached out one last time for the weapon…

++

Rroth brought his axe down, precisely were the traitor had laid. The axe buried itself deep into the ground, splintering the metal grating that covered the floor. The force of his blow carried Rroth over, following his axe towards the ground. He managed to stabilise himself, but unfortunately it was too late, he had left himself open too long. Renit had managed to roll out of the blow and with Haakon’s sword in his hand, brought it down on Rroth’s outstretched neck. Two decapitations in one battle, Renit was good.

++

Renit threw the sword on the floor, the battle was over. The remaining Space Wolves had been slaughtered, the loss of their two champions had discouraged them, broken their morale. Somehow no more troops had managed to join the battle, although he was sure he could still here las-fire in the surrounding vicinity. He knew who was responsible for that, and who was responsible for that brute of an ogryn who had crashed about the place. Renit walked up to the man dressed in fine clothing, though they had been covered in blood. The man stood panting, drawing additional oxygen into his lungs; obviously fighting against Astartes had pushed his body to the limits. Renit wasn’t in the mood for long speeches, so he asked the only question he wanted the answer to;

“Who are you?�

+++

Renit the Blood-Stained (Traitor) and Renegade Inquisitor Lord Rogan of the Ordo Malleus

Edited by Ferrata, 02 May 2007 - 07:57 PM.


#8
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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Round 1, Battle 5
Kharzeid of the Death Guard vs Jonathan Techer of the Legio

(Author: Daeothar)

Slowly Techer regained consciousness. Yes; just Techer now. Anyone joining the fabled Legio was ceremoniously stripped of rank upon induction after all. That still rankled the former captain sometimes. With effort he reached up and unfastened his helmet, lifting it over his head, taking in a breath of barely scrubbed air, smelling of burnt isolation materials and molten metal. Water dripped on dry lips from a leaky conduit somewhere above him. He licked his lips; he had made it...

+++

Thirty minutes before, the commandeered, small but fast, frigate he had been assigned to, had been hit by something of considerable strength. He and his squad had been in the launch bay -the only launch bay- of the Raptus Regaliter VII, with warning claxons blaring all around, when the second strike hit. A last, garbled vidcast from the bridge was barely able to alert them of their assailant; a large and hideously deformed cruiser closing in fast. The final and fatal salvo had hit the engine compartment of the Raptus Regaliter and all hell had broken loose. Techer and his squad had barely made it to their intended boarding torpedo when the firestorm had come rolling in from the aft hallways.

Only Techer and three of his Legio brethren had been inside the torpedo when the blast wave, roiling ahead of the inferno, had slammed the access hatch shut, locking them in, safe. Outside, serfs, servitors and marines alike were burnt to a crisp in an instant as the ship was consumed by raw plasma, eating its way through the ship in a matter of seconds, hotter than the inside of a star.

A fortunate malfunction in the launch system, obviously overheated, had blasted the battered torpedo out of the tube, its cargo not yet strapped in. Techer remembered little of the short flight of the doomed boarding craft, as the acceleration and erratic movement of the damaged torpedo had thrown him and his brethren through the cramped interior like rag dolls. Only a vague memory remained of a looming hulk straight ahead and a bone shattering impact that had knocked him out cold...

+++

Kharzeid’s tail involuntarily twitched as he watched the small Imperial ship buckle and then explode in a fiery ball of orange light, debris all that remained of the once fierce little vessel. Ambush predation was so much more preferable to running down a prey across light-years. Kharzeid did not thrive on fear. He did not relish the thrill of the kill. He took his pleasure from weakening that what he hated the most. That which had held him back in mediocrity his entire mortal life. Now was his time to claim what was his; the corruption of all who opposed the only true god, the only benevolent entity in existence, the father of all, the lord of decay. His creator, who had shown him the error of his ways by making him taste the putrid flavour of Nurgle.

A lurching form approached the brooding Kharzeid with sensible caution. The coiled tail had, on earlier occasions, proven to have a life of its own and more than one hapless slave had met his end impaled on the bony end of the long writhing tail of his lord. ‘What isss iht...’ The sentence did not even sound as a question, as Kharzeid had long ago lost the ability to bend his voice to accommodate the crude spoken language not of his blessed father.

‘My lord, some of the debris has hit our hull’ bowed the robed servant, revealing the open sores on the top of his patchy head. ‘That isss of no consequenssse’ replied Kharzeid in his hoarse whisper; annoyed at the triviality of the message this maggot had disturbed him for. ‘But my liege, there is a life form, in what appears to be a life pod of sorts, embedded in our hull’. ‘A Life,’ asked the Nurglish captain with a hint of interest.

‘Yes my lord, an Adeptus Astartes, by the look of our readings’ the traitor squirmed, knowing his master’s interest was now roused. ‘A marine... What a suitable gift to my father. Guide me!’ So Kharzeid, the almost running servant and some of his slimy, squirming retinue made their way to the site of the impact, smelling the prize waiting ahead.

+++

Techer had checked what had been left of his brethren but none of them had survived the impact, as was obvious form twisted limbs and lifeless stares. There was no way of recovering their gene seed now and with a sigh, he once more donned his helmet. With a bang, the emergency escape hatch fired from the side of the primitive craft, its front boarding claw and clamps destroyed by the impact.

For a fleeting moment the escaping air hissed through the small opening and then hard vacuum reigned inside the doomed torpedo. Moving weightlessly, Techer floated through the hatch, turned, by holding the edge for a moment and activated his magnetized boots with a thought. He stood on the side of the torpedo, which in its turn stood sideways onto, or better; into, the sickly green hull of the massive cruiser he has so fleetingly glimpsed on the screen prior to the Raptus Regaliter’s destruction. The hull appeared not to be metal but rather seemed to be a sort of skin. His magnetic boots would have no purchase on such a non metallic surface. Luckily, protrusions which looked disturbingly similar to hairs would provide handholds as he made his way to the only source of light he could discern on this abomination of a vessel, a low burning interior light, perhaps from a window or maybe even an airlock.

+++

Kharzeid had left his followers behind in his haste to reach his gift to his father. No need for them, he should be there alone anyway, to guide that weak, deluded mind to the loving embrace of papa Nurgle. He could now feel the tiny but bright soul, so close, so close. He stopped in front of a secondary airlock, its closed door the only one in this deserted hallway. Kharzeid peered through the small view port with milky orbs that once each held a blue iris.

+++

Techer laboriously opened the door to the airlock, its seal enhanced by the growth of the surrounding dermal layers, that covered most of the outer hull. Hissing, it opened to the outside, revealing a largish chamber inside. Techer swung inside, his feet again finding purchase on the rusted metal of the floor and closed the door behind him. On the far end of the room was the inside door. Techer saw movement behind the small window, a hideously deformed face leering at him from behind the thick plascrete. In horror, Techer witnesses the inside door being torn apart by a striking weapon, putrid green and obviously of power.

What charged with terrible speed through the ragged hole that was once a door frame was nothing short of horrible. The Legio marine, formerly of the Cobalt Templars was a veteran of many campaigns. There had been some wars which had put him against the most base of enemies; brethren that had turned away from the Emperor’s light. But never in his many years of service had he set eyes upon such an abomination and for a moment, Techer froze.

The once proud astartes that was now Kharzeid, beloved of Nurgle, launched forward on his flicking tail and heaving, he belched forth a gust of nauseatingly green flame, hitting the marine and the door behind. Techer saw warning runes flicker red as large chunks of his armour were melted away by the demonic flame but the suit’s machine spirit held strong and integrity was maintained. Which was a good thing, as the bulk of the putrid, miasmal fire had hit the airlock behind him. Being not as strong as Techer’s blessed armour, it buckled and blew outwards, pushed away by the pressure inside the ship.

As he was swept off his feet, Techer desperately lifted his trusty boltpistol and fired at the monster in front of him, even as they were both blown into open space. The salvo missed for the most part but two rounds found their mark. And did nothing. As by some strange fluke, neither round exploded and simply embedded themselves in the metallic bulk of the monstrous torso.

Kharzeid shrugged off the hits and added some momentum to his launch with his tail, ensuring he would be able to close with his foe. This was not going as planned, but the blessings of his patron deity would ensure his survival, even in the cold vacuum of space.

As they were speeding away from his beautiful ship, Kharzeid knew his vassals would be able to retrieve him and his new lackey, as he could spread the touch of father Nurgle everywhere, even from here. Closing in on the black clad marine, slowly tumbling head over heel, as the force of his pistol had caused him to gyrate, Kharzeid swung his blessed Glaive of Despair down on the back of the Legionnaire.

The hit struck sparks off the ornament over the marine’s head, chipping the intricate stone carving and sending lighting in all directions but doing no further damage. Kharzeid coiled his tail around Techer’s feet, to stay in range and swung again and again with his trusted weapon as they drifted through the cold void together. But to no avail, as none of his swings found purchase on the smooth surface of the marine’s shoulderpads.

Attempting to turn and face his foe, Techer blindly swung his massive red powerfist in a backhanded swing at the monster’s head, connecting with the mutated skull in a dull crack, audible even through his armour. The strike was enough to decapitate the champion of Nurgle but Techer kept swinging madly, striking the putrid, headless corpse again and again until nothing remained but a cloud of fine droplets, covering his armour and a remnant of tail that motionlessly drifted away form him.

Having won the fight, Techer realized he was not out of trouble yet, as he drifted helplessly through deep space, with the thick of the space battle ensuing all around him and the orb of Antioc distant but visible. Flashes of light and the occasional silent explosion told him this fight was far from over. Except for him; it seemed he would die out here after all. As he tumbled through space, he saw the horrible, mutant cruiser power away towards Antioc. And as the oxygen in his suit finally reached critical levels and he resigned to his fate, he imagined he saw a twinkling light coming closer in the distance...

+++

Slowly Techer regained consciousness. Yes; just Techer now. A servitor reached down and unfastened his helmet, lifting it over his head. He took a breath of fresh air filled with traces of incense and machine oil, a decidedly Imperial smell. Something dripped on his lips from the surface of his helmet still held above him. He licked his lips and fleetingly tasted something putrid; he had made it...


Victory to (former) Captain Jonathan Techer of the Legio

#9
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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(Author: Rogue Trader)

+++

The voices… the voices were whispering again…

Halfdan clamped his hands hard over his ears, trying to shut out the incessant murmuring. It made no difference – the voices were inside his head, and there was no escaping them

Lowering his hands into his lap, he looked down at the dark blood splattered across the armoured gloves and up his forearms. The blood of Legionnaires - men that, until a few hours earlier, he had fought alongside for nigh on seventy years. He tried to remember their faces - Kaelus of the Eagle Warriors, Isharus from the Angels of Lament, but all he could see was their lifeless, broken bodies. The voices had been louder then – so deafeningly loud. All he could remember was the blood thumping in his head, the dull ache of his muscles as he raised his ancient chainsword, Dark Fang, and the voices; screaming at him, urging him on as entered the chapel where his squad knelt in prayer… When the voices in his head had died down, he had found himself standing alone in the Chapel, surrounded by the slaughtered bodies of his squad mates, their blood dripping from the teeth of his sword.

Exactly what had happened after that, and how he had ended up in a drop pod falling towards the Chaos-held Forge world, he wasn’t really sure. All he could remember were bits and pieces, flashes, moments in time, all interspersed by the endless voices screaming for blood…

…Codicer Goethe slumping to the floor, cleaved from sternum to waist in a single blow from Dark Fang…

…on the outside of a traitor ship, removing a charge placed by a Legionnaire just moments before…

…standing the shadow of a ship communications pylon, watching the approaching Legionnaire as the voices grew louder and his vision dimmed to red…

As the drop pod’s deceleration jets fired Halfdan growled and shook his head, trying to clear it, but it seemed the only time things were clear was when he was holding Dark Fang…

+++

‘Courage and Honour!’

As the cry echoed around the transport compartment, Camillus cast an appraising eye over the Marines tightly packed into the Thunderhawk. The dim red light revealed thirty men; not many for the task that lay ahead – he’d had a hard time convincing Captain Antaeus that this small taskforce was strong enough to make the Crusade’s initial strike on Antioc. However, Camillus knew something the Legio Captain didn’t – these Marines were the veterans of the campaign for Hirounious X, and the Chaplain could think of no strike force he would rather lead.

The pilot’s voice sounded over the voxnet, giving the fifteen-second warning. As the access ramp ground open, Camillus reflected that on the fortuitous turn of fate that meant he and his Ultramarine brethren would be engaging a force of the treacherous Word Bearers. The actions of the spawn of Lorgar after the Great Heresy still rankled with the noble sons of Guilliman. That they should have dared set foot upon the blesséd worlds of Ultramar was bad enough, but the devastation of the Calth system was a sin that would never be forgotten, nor forgiven.

The ruddy glow in the cabin abruptly brightened as the green jump-lumen activated. Camillus stood in the open hatchway, the wind whistling around him, and activated his vox unit.

‘Squad Primus – go! Squad Secundus – go! Squad Tertius - on me.’

Turning, he leapt from the open hatch, falling free for a few seconds, seeing Antioc spread below him, twenty twin plumes of fire in the air marking the first two squads below him. Triggering his jump pack to slow his rate of descent, Camillus scanned the ground below, mentally marking the positions of the opposing forces. Drawing his Crozius Arcanum, he thumbed the activation rune and began chanting the 242nd Catechism of Hate over the vox-net, the fury building within him as he plummeted towards the hated enemy…

+++

Deux Iblis’ eyes swept the Tank Manufactorum, looking for someone to take his anger out on. Right now he should be in space, taking his rightful place at the helm of the Dark Thorn, in the thick of the action against the servants of the Corpse God. But things hadn’t gone as planned from the moment he arrived in orbit around Antioc. Rather than being able to pledge his allegiance to the Warmaster himself, he had been met by a slimy little administrator who, puffed up with own power, had had the bare-faced cheek to tell him that not only was Tomax Hell was too busy to receive his oath of fealty, but that the Warmaster was ‘appropriating’ his Cruiser for ‘re-assignment to a more experienced commanding officer’. It had taken the Word Bearer all his restraint not to strike the little runt down and leave Antioc there and then. Only the thought of having to face the Dark Apostle Victarious and explain his actions stayed his hand. Clearly, the whelp with the data slate had been able to read Iblis’ intentions – the puddle of urine around his feet as the Chaos Marine strode away was testament to that.

So now the Word Bearers had found themselves here, planetside, far from the battles and action that was taking place in high orbit. Here, with nothing better to do than torment the traitor guard that infested the planet like rodents. Iblis sneered with contempt as he caught sight of one of them – the man clearly had no concept of what rebellion or dedication to the gods of chaos really was. The man on the track covers of half built tank, his uniform sloppily daubed with nonsensical runes and symbols, laughing and joking with the his squad mates. Such fools had no place serving the Dark Gods. Iblis raised his Boltgun, the weapon he had carried across a thousand battlefields and aimed it at the guardsman. As he slowly applied pressure to the trigger, a deafening crash came from the southern end of the Manufactorum. Turning, he saw a loyalist drop pod come plummeting through the roof of the building and impact heavily on the production line, sending debris showering outwards like shrapnel. The drop pod sprang open, the armoured plates unfolding like leaves, and a single marine in battered black and red armour staggered down the ramp, shaking his head.

As Iblis started to run towards the drop pod, a shout of alarm from the traitor guardsmen caught his attention. Each and every one of them was gazing skyward with expressions of utter terror. Glancing up, Iblis saw three squads of blue-armoured marines descending on tongues of flame, their weapons spitting death as they fell. Ultramarines! Iblis grinned voraciously – it looked like he was going to see some action after all…

+++

#10
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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Round 1, Battle 6.
Chaplain Camillus of the Ultramarines vs. Deux Iblis of the Word Bearers and Halfdan, Legio Renegade.

(Author: Rogue Trader)


Brother-Chaplain Camillus cursed under his breath. Twenty-four of his Marines – more than three quarters of the strike force – were dead before they hit the ground; taken out mid-air in the firestorm unleashed by the pair of twisted monstrosities that towered above the crimson clad Traitor Marines entrenched on the far side of the Manufactorum. The battered remnants of his command were pinned down under heavy fire, sheltering behind pipeworks and the half built carcasses of battle tanks.

Worse still was the fact that they were caught in a crossfire. The sight of a Legio drop pod smashing through a corner of the building had raised Camillus’ hopes, but his new-found optimism had been short lived. Far from aiding the Ultramarines, the lone Marine who emerged from the ‘pod had opened fire on them. Camillus had opened a vox channel to the Legionnaire, but the former Doom Wolf seemed to have lost his mind, vomiting heretical gibberish and speaking in a strange, disturbing tongue unlike anything the Chaplain had heard before. Brother Proditus fell to the ground, foaming at the mouth, as the Legionnaire’s archaic words filled the vox-net. Camillus immediately cut the vox channel, but the insane chanting could still be heard, cutting through the gunfire and explosions that filled the Manufactorum.

The Chaplain glanced round. He had few men left, and even fewer options. He opened the squad level vox-link and spoke, fire and determination filling his voice.

"Sons of Guilliman, it is time. Time to avenge our fallen brethren. Time to take the fight to these traitors. Time to cleanse this planet or to die trying. For Guilliman, for the God-Emperor and for Glory!"

As one, the remaining Ultramarines triggered their jump packs, leaping over tanks and debris to engage the Traitors, their battle cry echoing from the Manufactorum walls.

"Death or Glory!"

+++

Deux Iblis smirked as he slammed a fresh magazine into his bolter. The sustained fire from the Krae Twins, his trusted Obliterators, had hammered the loyalists into submission, leaving scarcely a handful for the rest of the Word Bearers to mop up.

The Legionnaire was a puzzle Iblis still hadn’t quite worked out. For a member of the infamous Legio to be firing on loyalists was unheard of, but when the Word Bearer had edged closer, things had suddenly become clear. The Marine’s eyes were rolled right back in his head, with only the whites visible, and he was chanting the Incanta Daemonica. Iblis relaxed, knowing the Legionnaire would stand firm during the battle. As for after the battle, well, there were very few problems that a bolt to the brainpan wouldn’t fix.

The Ultramarines seemed to have regained their stomach for the fight, their futile charge led by a skull-masked Chaplain. Iblis planted his feet wide and opened fire…

+++

Bolter fire blazed around Camillus as he leapt over the engine block of a Leman Russ. He levelled his bolt pistol at the leader of the Word Bearers – take him out and the rest would flee like the dogs they were. As he squeezed the trigger, a round from the Chaos Lieutenant struck the side of his helm, glanced away and severed a fuel pipe on his jump pack. Red hazard icons flashed in front of his eyes as the fuel caught light, the explosion throwing him sideways, colliding mid-air with Brother Duracus before hitting the ground heavily. As he shut off the damaged fuel pipe, another bolt penetrated his left greave, spraying flesh, bone and ceramite fragments across the greasy floor.

Gritting his teeth against the pain, the Chaplain pulled himself upright as his armour’s narthecium pumped a cocktail of painkillers and stimulants into his system. Triggering his jump pack again, he aimed himself at the Word Bearer and the turncoat Legionnaire who now stood at his side. Raising his pistol, he fired again at the Traitor Marine, the bolt penetrating the shoulder pauldron of the defaced power armour. The Word Bearer rocked back on his heels under the impact, sending his own shots whistling wide, then as he regained his footing the sound of contemptuous laughter issued from his voxcaster. Reaching up to the damaged armour plates, he bent them away to reveal not ruptured flesh and broken bone but polished adamantium and shining plasteel, undamaged by the bolt’s explosive charge.

The Legionnaire sprayed bolter fire indiscriminately, hitting Ultramarine and Word Bearer alike, all the while maintaining his arcane chanting. A stray bolt glanced off the skull emblazoned on Camillus’ shoulder pauldron and struck an Obliterator straight between the eyes, felling the monstrosity with a single shot. Oblivious, the former Doom Wolf continued firing until the magazine was empty, then stood waving the bolter around, still pulling the trigger as the firing mechanism futilely clicked over and over again.

+++

Iblis discarded his gun and drew his power sword, the blade sizzling to life as the Ultramarine landed, stumbling as his damaged leg gave way. Out of the corner of his eye, the Word Bearer saw the Legionnaire finally discard his empty bolter and draw a chainsword, its black teeth encrusted with dried blood. Leaping forward, Iblis grasped his sword in two hands and struck at the loyalist with all his force, only for the Chaplain to deflect the blow and riposte with a swift strike to flank. Iblis felt his armour split and flesh burned by the power field surrounding the Chaplain’s weapon as he stumbled, off balance, past his opponent. Turning, he saw the Chaplain raise the Crozius again and strike at the traitor Legionnaire, trading a flurry of blows with his former ally before knocking aside the chainsword and cleaving open the shoulder guard that bore the emblem of the Marine’s parent chapter.

Regaining his balance, Iblis darted forward and struck low, his power sword cutting deep into the thigh armour of the loyalist Chaplain. The Ultramarine fell with a cry, his Crozius deactivating as it fell from his hand. Iblis swiftly kicked the weapon out of reach, sending it sliding across the slick floor…

+++

The Ultramarine spat up at the traitors standing over him.

"The God-Emperor of Mankind will strike you down for your treachery."

Halfdan’s incessant chanting stopped and his eyes rolled forward and focused, locking a gaze filled with pure hatred on the loyalist. A cruel smile twisted his face as he plunged his chainsword into Camillus’ chest and through his hearts.

"Not today, Chaplain. Not today."


Victory to Deux Iblis of the Word Bearers and Halfdan, Legio Renegade.

#11
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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Round 1, Battle 7.
Sigismund Pain, aspiring champion of the World Eaters vs. Laerga, 1st Captain of the Angels of Light.

(Author: Several Concerned Cricketers)


+++

Laerga's drop pod smashed through the hangar roof, rattling the Angel of Light and his men as it careened through the plasteel struts and into the rockcrete below. Inside Laerga heard more than felt a chain of muffled roars as the pod's superheated hull set off sympathetic fuel and munitions explosions. As the pod slowed and stabiliser legs deployed to right it Laerga shucked his restraint harness and cycled the armoured hatch. Stepping out into the smoke and flames Laerga ordered his squads to deploy...

+++

Sigismund Pain watched the tactical cogitator as report after report rolled in of Imperial strikes and raids, willing the machine to send him worthy enemies. Around him his World Eaters cheered on two of their comrades as they fought, stripped to the waist, slashing and stabbing at each other with short chaindaggers. An animal growl signalled the end of the combat as Kile drove his dagger through Span's throat before twisting the weapon free, severing the other Marine's windpipe and jugular in a spectacular explosion of blood and cartilage. Within moments Kile had severed what remained of Span's neck and lifted his head skyward, his voice hoarse with delight as he called upon the Blood God to witness his offering.

As if the offering of blood had pleased Khorne Sigismund's cogitator spat out a sheaf of stretched, tattered leather. The World Eater tore it off eagerly, squinting to make out the Warmaster's orders imprinted over the Slaaneshi tattoo of the skin's former owner...

+++

For more than three hours Laerga and the Angels of Light had fought off cultists and traitor guard whilst Brother TechMarine Gibbus and his servitors had worked to plant demolitions charges on crucial enemy equipment, supplies and aircraft. Each man in his force had earned the Imperial Laurel thrice over, each man would have his name engraved on the honour wall in the Chapter's Fortress Monastery and the name Antioc would be writ large in the Chapter's annals.

All of which made Laerga's anger at their current predicament the fiercer. Not content with sending warped Guardsmen and twisted freaks at them, the arch enemy had laid down their trump card - the corrupted Astartes who served their dark and vile gods. From a distance the approaching Traitor force bore a striking similarity to the Angels, white power armour clad both forces and only experienced eyes could see the subtle differences between Loyalist and Traitor at this distance. Laerga's eyes were more than experienced enough and a wave of revulsion, disgust and even though he would admit it to none, fear washed over him for the most violent and bloodthirsty of all Traitors had arrived - World Eaters...

+++

Sigismund and his men disembarked from their Rhinos and began to push through the throng of corrupted guardsmen who ringed the airfield. Heavy bolter fire snapped at them from the distant airfield and Sigismund's men lashed out at those who flinched from the enemy fire, offering their weak souls to the Blood God as an appetiser for what lay below - Astartes. Sigismund snorted at the thought as it crossed his mind, even the Corpse-god's finest warriors of this day and age barely deserved the name Astartes.

Before his World Eaters grew to enjoy the sport of killing mere Guard too much, before the frenzy grew too strong, he gathered them and pointed at the airfield.

'Warriors of Angron! Today we pay back those who call us Traitor! For the scorn and ridicule they have laid upon us all these long years, for the very act of betrayal that drove us into the Long War, for those of our brethren who died on Terra at the Siege itself. We will pay them back a thousand fold for every slight, for every indignity! Today we will lay low those who serve the so called New Man and show them the just rewards of treachery!'

Sigismund knew he was no Word Bearer Apostle, he knew his men did not need words to urge them on, the scent of blood in the air and the faint chants of praise to the bastard on his damnable Throne were more than enough to send them into a frenzy. But Sigismund would not let his men descend to the level of Khârn and his ilk. It was why he had never repainted his armour, his brothers might fight for Khorne and offer their trophies to him but Sigismund's his mind and soul were his own. He would remember Istvaan, Terra and a thousand other worlds even if his brothers didn't, he would fight for more than blood, for more than Khorne, he would fight for vengeance, for dignity and for honour, the way the World Eaters of yore had.

+++

Within minutes of the arrival of the Chaos Marines Laerga knew that whatever deeds his Angels had wrought in the previous hours would pale into insignificance in the coming minutes for the force they faced now were their match in every way. Angels sought cover and reloaded bolters, Brother Castra prayed over his plasma gun, beseeching the weapon to fire true and straight, cajoling its machine spirit's cooperation. Other Marines chanted prayers to the Primarch and Him on Earth, calling on them to watch their sons in battle. Laerga opened a vox channel to his men, his hearts ached to tell them how proud he was to serve alongside such heroes but emotional displays were anathema to the Angels of Light and even facing death Laerga could not break that ancient taboo.

Instead he adjusted the positions of his men and gave them orders in a cool, calculating voice. Their duty was to protect Brother Gibbus until his mission was complete, there would be no withdrawal until he ordered it, they would hold their foes, drive them back and the Emperor would grant them victory this day.

Even as he concluded his orders Angels opened fire at the oncoming Traitors. The deep coughs of a heavy bolter over-rode the hiss-snap-crack of bolters and bolt pistols. White armoured marines fell on each side as the World Eaters opened up with their own weapons. Above it all Laerga could hear Brother Gibbus speaking in the tongue of the Mechanicus, inveigling machine spirits to do his bidding. The first World Eaters, true berzerkers, reached his front line, deafening howls pouring from their vox-casters, chainaxes revving madly and pistols firing wildly. The Captain and his men met their charge head on, pouring short range fire into them downing a handful before a vicious, swirling melee erupted.

+++

Sigismund roared as his axe sank into the chest plate of a white armoured Loyalist. He fought with a burning passion as the essence of Khorne swarmed through his mind. The tendrils of warp-power curled around his thoughts, lending his body strength and speed, promising more if he would just let go and give himself fully to the Blood God. Placing his boot on his fallen enemy he yanked his axe free with a spray of blood, as ever he declined the union Khorne offered, the power the god lent him was more than enough to overcome the pitiful excuse for Astartes he faced now.

The World Eater slammed into another opponent, hacking down at the fallen warrior, chopping at armoured gauntlets that sought to protect weak spots from the furious axe blows. Khorne's words were louder now, the seduction all the sweeter as blood lingered in the air mixing with the ozone tang of power weapons and the cordite whiff of bolters. With a bestial roar Sigismund looked up from the wrecked figure at his feet just in time to see a combat shield rushing at his face.

+++

Laerga had seen the warrior's advance through his men, had seen a handful fall to the twisted fighter in mere moments and knew that he must face this foe himself. With a deft weave he danced past his opponent's huge chainblade and buried his power fist in the Traitor's gut. Ceramite and plasteel simply vaporised beneath the energy field's blow and Laerga quickly vaulted the burnt out fuel barrels behind the shattered corpse to face the enemy champion.

As Brother Langstrom fell to the World Eater's axe Laerga charged, slamming his shield into the helm of the gore soaked Marine. His blow staggered his enemy and Laerga swung the energised gauntlet at his stunned foe, the crackling energy field already lashing away at the discoloured and stained white armour of the corrupted Astartes.

+++

Sigismund saw the power fist coming towards him and knew his life was over. Off balance, dazed and confused he waited for the blow to land, for his long crusade for vengeance to come to a final, bitter end.

Time slowed, his mind fogged and the World Eater felt his body move as if on puppeteer's strings, springing back from the blow before snapping back impossibly quickly to land axe blow after axe blow against the pure white armour of his enemy. The Imperial Marine's combat shield disintegrated beneath the blows, the bolt pistol strapped to it's underside cooked off as Sigismund's axe cleaved through the magazine. The explosion tore the Marine's arm apart and shattered the armour over his ribs. Sigismund's mind watched in awe as his axe defied the laws of physics, twisting and twitching through impossible arcs and angles to smash through the weakened armour ripping the Loyalist in half.

Sigismund's body returned to his control and the World Eater slumped to his knees, drained, weapons dangling weakly from shaking figures. Once more he felt the caress of Khorne's voice, the offer of power and glory eternal if he would give himself wholly to the Chaos God. The World Eater weakly shook his head, muttering his ancient mantra.

'I fight for vengeance, for honour, the way the World Eaters of yore did.'

Even to him the denial sounded hollow. The tendrils in his mind throbbed painfully and his body was invigorated with the full power of Khorne once more. Again the voices asked for his pledge. This time the ancient oath wouldn't come to his lips, power surged through his body, power beyond even that of the enhanced phsyique of a true Astartes warrior. With a cry that tore a fine spray of blood from his own vocal cords Sigismund bound himself to a new code, to a new ethos.

'Blood for the Blood God!'

Around him his men took up the cry and it shook the the very foundations of the ruined hangar. Angels of Light quailed from their enemies as a killing light came into their eyes, beyond any they had ever seen before and in moments the massacre had begun...

+++

Victory to Sigismund Pain of the World Eaters Legion, Aspiring Champion of Khorne!

#12
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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(Author: Several Concerned Cricketers)

+++

GodMode's patience had long since evaporated. The battle for the space station had degenerated into an unedifying series of bolter rounds and plasma balls. Once of the Emperor's Holy Trinity Chapter Godmode now sought martial perfection in the name of Slaanesh and he strode the poorly lit halls as an angry godling. Here and there Imperial Guards in bulky vacuum suits took snap shots at him before fleeing his approach. Godmode cursed them as cowards as they ducked behind corners and bulkheads to send more lasbolts at him.

Tiring of the game the Traitor Marine dashed forward, grabbing a Guardsman by the throat and lifting him clear of the floor. His free hand grasped the man's lasgun, twisting the barrel into uselessness before smashing the plasglass faceplate of the bulky helmet he wore and exposing the man to the vacuum racing through the space station's breached corridors. The man choked and spluttered as the vacuum took hold of his lungs, crushing them and killing him in a frothing fit of blood. Godmode advanced on the few Guards who hadn't already fled, flailing at them with the battered lasgun, beating the worthless fools to death with their own implement of dishonour.

Minutes later, the lasgun a twisted, shattered mess seemingly fused to his gauntlet with blood, shards of armour and more GodMode reached his goal - the drop pods. Entering one he set the machine spirit's course to the hottest fighting he could find on Antioc with the pods limited sensors. Agranthus Memorial Space Port, surely someone there would offer him an honourable duel....

+++

Hovek and his men jetted from cover to cover, pistols snapping at distant figures. The Ultramarines of the 8th Company had overcome the defences of Agranthus City's only space port in minutes and all that was left now was to clean up the mess left behind. Hovek alighted almost delicately on the ground, years of practice had given him a fine sense for controlling the usually inelegant flight of the Cambrian pattern Jump Pack he wore and scanned the immediate area. His assessment made the Ultramarine opened the allocated vox-channel.

'Mission accomplished, the space port is in our hands.'

+++

Hundreds of kilometres above Hovek's signal was like music to the ears of Brother Lucius, the search for knowledge was on once more. The Legionnaire, once of the Blood Ravens, and his brethren stepped onto the teleport pad. A flash of light and the sudden clap of air rushing to fill the void left by the three teleported Marines were all that remained of them aboard the Strike Cruiser just moments later...

+++

#13
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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Battle 8
Hovek (UM) & Lucius (Legio) Vs. Godmode (Emperor's Trinity)


+++

Captain Hovek checked the disposition of his men as they held off the encroaching Chaos forces. The initial assault had gone well, Agranthus Space Port had fallen swiftly but the Chaos counter-attacks were wearing the Ultramarines down. As fine as his warriors were he had started with just 40 and was now down to 32, they couldn't hold indefinitely against the human wave assaults of beastmen, traitor guard and howling mutants.

The Captain stalked over to the Administratum building where Brother Lucius of the Legio Bolter & Chainsword was busy searching through datacores and even sheafs of hard copy records. Hovek didn't know what the former Blood Raven was looking for but he wished he would hurry up and find it. Hovek's vox crackled as Sergeant Margus reported that Brother Torr had fallen to the enemy. The Legionnaire turned to look at Hovek, his attention attracted by the vox message.

'Can I help you Captain?

The enquiry was politely phrased but it was enough to make the Captain's blood boil.

'My men are fighting and dying whilst you tie yourself up in this, this red tape Brother Lucius! You don't have time to be exchanging pleasantries with me, find whatever Emperor damned records you're searching for and let us be away.'

Even as he spoke Hovek's cheeks burned with shame, he knew it wasn't the Legionnaire's fault his men were dying. Guilliman's sons were thinkers as well as warriors and Hovek bowed his head in embarassment.

'My apologies brother, I did not mean.'

Hovek's words were cut off as Lucius waved them away.

'It is never easy to lose brothers Captain, I understand.'

Hovek thanked Lucius and headed out of the building and back into battle.

+++

Godmode's pod cannoned across the ground, a trail of sparks followed it as it slewed to a halt. Stepping out Godmode surveyed the shattered remains of the space port. He could see blue-armoured figures darting from cover to cover, weapons firing as they pirouetted gracefully through the air. Occasionally one would touch down near a knot of cultists before engaging them in honourable combat, sword to shield, as warriors were meant to.

The former Trinity Marine spied one figure in particular, an ornately armoured Marine armed simply with lightning claws with which he offered his foes battle and death. Here was a foe worth facing, one who understood that guns, Godmode almost spat at just the word, that guns were not part of a true warrior's armoury. He began to make his way across the battlefield, following his prey as he moved from hotspot to hotspot supporting his fellow Imperial lackeys as they defended their perimeter.

The Slaaneshi Marine reached the Imperial perimeter rapidly and from his closer position was able to identify his foe as a Captain of the fabled Ultramarines. Moving forward once more Godmode was forced to duck for cover as bolt pistol rounds shattered rockcrete all around him. A blue figure landed not far from him, twin bolt pistols spitting death at cultists and guardsmen who had seen the light of Chaos.

Godmode felt hatred well up in his chest and could feel Slaanesh's blessing burn in his throat, vaulting the shattered remains of a truck Godmode unleashed the pure note of his gift. The pistol wielding Ultramarine turned to face Godmode, his purity seals flapping in the howling wind the renegade's scream was generating. Godmode watched as his foe struggled to draw a bead on him, still howling his rage he razored his twin swords across the assault marine's wrists, severing his hands and the cowardly weapons they carried.

Godmode sniggered as tendons in the Marine's stumps twitched and spasmed, even with his honourless weapons gone the fool still tried to pull the triggers. The Slaaneshi devotee laughed as his swords flickered at the Ultramarine time and time again, teasing the Imperial with death, his laugh took on a note of glee as he slowly carved his god's holy symbol into the golden eagle on his foe's chest. The symbol complete Godmode took the Marine's head with a single blow of his powerblade leaving the desecrated corpse to fall limply to the ground.

+++

Hovek saw the black armoured Marine decapitate Brother Prathe and called his shrunken command squad to him. Three Ultramarines joined him as he launched himself at the laughing warrior. His troops knew their roles and the four sons of Guilliman landed in such a way as to encircle the deluded fool. The black clad figure continued to laugh as the Ultramarines launched their flurry of attacks. Hovek's lightning claws were deflected by an artful blade stroke and before he could recover to launch a second strike the black figure had already struck down Goethe and Daron.

The Captain was forced to jet backwards as the renegade's twin blades lashed out at him and was only saved as Brother Gaisu's plasma pistol discharged hellfire at the renegade. Gaisu's blast lashed out at the traitor, a bright pink glow enveloped Godmode as he howled again, deflecting the blast. Moments later Gaisu was engulfed in roiling plasma as the traitor's blades pierced the pistol's containment chamber.

+++

Godmode laughed with pleasure as the plasma blast was deflected, truly Slaanesh was with him today! The dishonourable fool died at the hands of his own weapon as Godmode's precise blow struck home. Still laughing the renegade approached the enemy Captain, twin blades raised, reading his enemy's movements, waiting for him to strike. As the Ultramarine's weight shifted minutely Godmode could already see the pattern of the attack forming, this would be too easy. He allowed the Captain to begin his first strike before unleashing his gift.

+++

Hovek began his attack, looking to feint left and right with his lightning claws before delivering his real attack with a pair of straight arm jabs. Suddenly his enemy was enveloped in the same pink glow that had deflected Gaisu's plasma burst and Hovek's arms quivered and shook, throwing his attack off. The awful sound of the renegade's scream hit him moments later and even Hovek's enhanced nervous system began to collapse under the unholy sound waves. He watched helplessly as the traitor glided towards him, blades moving in vicous arcs and the last thing the Captain heard over the deafening scream was the voice of Brother Lucius.

'Captain, I have what we came for.'

+++

Godmode left the corpses of the four Ultramarines behind him. The Captain lay as if in state, for Godmode had accorded him a warrior's honour, his three pistol wielding comrades were less fortunate, their geneseed had been torn from them and Slaanesh's holy symbol engraved on the bloated progenoids. Godmode smiled, their cowardice had led to their deaths and no warrior would be born of their tainted seed now.

+++

Brother Lucius and his bodyguards emerged from the Administratum building in time to hear reports of Captain Hovek's death filter through the strike force's vox channels. Lucius intoned a prayer for Hovek, imploring the Emperor to gather the Ultramarine's soul to his side and called for the Legio Thunderhawks to extract the remaining Marines. The Imperial perimeter shrank as the Marines awaited extraction.

Lucius continued to scan the records he had found and was brought out of his reverie by the scream of a dying Marine. He span around to see a black armoured figure hacking its way through the ranks of the Ultramarines, its armour enveloped in a pink glow, deflecting bolt pistol rounds with showers of pink sparks. With a single word he drew his fellow Legionnaires' attention to the figure.

'Fire.'

+++

Godmode knew pleasure beyond any he had ever felt before, his patron had blessed him and he was invulnerable as he strode through the enemy defenses. His blades lashed out left and right and with each stroke a warrior fell. Ahead of him blue armoured warriors dashed for cover, their pitiful pistols spitting fire at him. Godmode laughed as three black clad warriors stood their ground, the black barrels of their guns pointing right at him. The renegade spread his arms wide, daring the fools to shoot him, calling on Slaanesh to show them the error of their ways, knowing their shells would patter off him harmlessly as had all the others.

+++

The three Legionnaire's opened fire, Brother Lukan's heavy bolter churning out heavy caliber rounds as Bethor and Lucius added to the cacophony with their bolters. Around them the surviving Ultramarines added their pistols to the weight of fire deluging the traitor. The Legionnaires and their Ultramarine comrades watched in awe as the pink force field surrounding the Slaaneshi marine deflected each and every shot.

+++

Godmode could feel his patron's gift burning in his chest and prepared to unleash the pure note of Slaanesh as his the blessing of Slaanesh shielded him from the fire of the Imperial cowards. Soon they would all be dead, their honourless lives over and their geneseed desecrated as Godmode faced and defeated them in combat, blade to blade, as a true warrior. Laughing the former Trinity Marine resumed his advance, blades hungering for enemies.

+++

Lucius' brain raced as he examined the phenomenon before him. Commanding his armour to record the incident for further study at a later date the Blood Raven drew upon his centuries long study of Chaos, applying all his learning to the situation at hand. His mind, cogitator like, processed dozens of options and plans as they flashed through his mind before he struck upon the elegantly simple solution.

From behind one of the many purity seals emblazoned on his armour Lucius drew a single gleaming bolt shell. Murmuring the Rite of Loading he carefully placed the shell in the auxiliary breech of his Legio pattern bolter. He ordered the strike force to cease fire and took aim carefully. When his targeting display confirmed what his instincts already knew the Legionnaire calmly pulled the trigger.

The bolter round trailed a cloud of silver particles as it flew unerringly towards the renegade marine. There was a silver-blue flash and a deafening crack of thunder as the psycurium impregnated bolt hit the Slaanesh worshipper's mystical shield. In moments the pink glow had evaporated and the corrupted Astartes stood alone, his armour coated in a fine silver powder, before the weapons of the vengeful Ultramarines and their Legio brethren.

+++

Godmode stood stunned as his patron's blessing dissipated under the assault of a single bolter round. How? How? His throat burned as he unleashed his gift again, calling on Slaanesh to protect him, but the warp call came out as nothing more than a limp whisper, a truncated squeak. Across his armour the silver flecks sparked with a pink glow that quickly winked out. This time he knew fear as he looked down the black barrels of his enemies' detestable weapons...

+++

Lucius spoke a single word once more.

'Fire.'

This time the renegade marine simply vaporised beneath the weight of fire the Loyalists poured into him and Lucius looked up to see the first Thunderhawks arriving. He spoke again.

'Our work is not yet done Brothers, let us press on, there is much knowledge that is yet to be found here...'

+++

Victory to Brother Lucius of the Legio!

Honour the fallen - Captain Hovek of the Ultramarines and Godmode of Slaanesh.


#14
Aurelius Rex

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The Wolf Pack
(Author: Aurelius Rex)


As bitter as the destruction of the White Laurel had been for the Crusaders, far worse was to come. Even as Imperial vessels moved to drive off the Relentless Wolves ship, they were set upon by a well organised and heavily armed fleet of chaos raiders – The Warmaster’s Wolf Pack.

Knowing the fragile state of the coalition, and fearing that the news of an imminent invasion would see his forces scatter, Tomax Hell had tasked a number of his most trustworthy lieutenants to break orbit and wait for their moment. And so it was that when the White Laurel gave out its death-scream, the Wolf Pack was there to hear it, and fall upon the lightly defended caravan of support vessels and transports. The Drookian 49th, Talessan 8th and Cadian 101st were wiped out to a man, and five other Guard and Skitarii regiments took heavy losses. The Mechanicus Forge-ship Petrox was damaged beyond even its own abilities to repair, and the mass-conveyance vessel Gravitas was torn wide open, sending its cargo of Leman Russ battletanks spinning through space.

With the majority of the Astartes vessels assaulting the Antioc planetary defences, it was the Imperial Navy that bore the brunt of the Wolf Pack’s fury. Among the most noteworthy actions were the frigates of Swordfist squadron and the Endeavour class light cruisers Black Knight and Single Bound. The selfless actions of Swordfist squadron against the Retaliator class Grand Cruiser Fiery Damnation saw its cavernous launch-bays damaged, trapping the bulk of its assault craft inside. The Black Knight accounted for multiple squadrons of chaos escorts until it was eventually boarded and destroyed by Tomax’s 17th Legion of Fear.

Her sister ship, the Single Bound interposed itself between two enemy cruisers and the Mechanicus conveyance Pallidus Est. This valiant act saved the titans of the Pallidus Mors legion aboard the transport, and despite suffering critical damage, managed to turn their ship and plunge its distinctive Voss Aquila prow into the side of one of the cruisers. It was only such desperate sacrifices that bought the Crusaders enough time to pull back ships from the orbital assault and finally drive off the Wolf Pack. The fleet had been badly damaged by the raiders, but on that fateful day it was the actions of the Imperial Navy that had prevented the Crusade from falling to utter ruin.

Hours later, as the Crusader forces began to establish their foothold on the surface of Antioc, rescue teams scouring the clouds of wreckage found the escape pods of an Inquisitor and his staff. He attributed the escape from his doomed ship, and subsequent rescue to ‘Divine intervention from the Emperor Himself’ and was rapidly given quarters aboard the Hand of Fate
[img=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v732/AureliusRex/Dornian%20Heresy/DornianHeresybanner.png]

Alternate Heresy Index Astartes articles for the World Eaters, Emperor's Children, Raven Guard, Word Bearers,
Ultramarines, White Scars, Space Wolves, Thousand Sons and Blood Angels available as a pdf
[url=http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=200543&view=findpost&p=2388799]Click here for the Legio Imprint download thread[/url]
[url=http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=155430&view=findpost&p=2285413]Iron Warriors [/url]+++ [url=http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/index.php?showtopic=214274]Iron Hands[/url] +++ [url=http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/index.php?showtopic=219186]Alpha Legion[/url] +++ [url=http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/index.php?showtopic=226986]Dark Angels[/url]

[url=http://bolterandchainsword.com/index.php?showtopic=98543]Index Astartes: Scions of Dorn[/url]

#15
Aurelius Rex

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Battle 9
Canoness Betiand Veronika vs. Valefor, former Blood Angels captain

(Author: Daeothar)

+++ Transcript 19346z - 165476Ω: 4156347.M42 +++
+++ Subject: uncollaborated report +++
+++ Rating: General Consumption Conscriptium +++

RECOVERED PARTIAL REPORT ON IMPERIAL CRUSADE
REQUIRES CENSORING AND FILING
CLASSIFICATION LEVEL LAMBDA
PRIORITY LOW


Esteemed Explorator Lord Magus,

I would like to take this opportunity to present to you some of my findings on the escavation of the ruined convent on Arpastis Secundus, as you requested almost a year ago. Most of the recovered materials are of no real importance and have either been packed for storage or burned as inconsequential. There are however some insignificant artifacts we were able to recover that might hold some interest.

Amongst these is a partial, hand written, logbook, apparently penned down by one of the sisters who spent her twilight years here. She wrote her lifestory in a series of leatherbound books, some of which we recovered. An exerpt of one of those I have attached as an example to this communication. None of it is of much importance though. This particular passage apparently deals with some or other crusade, of which this particular sister seems to have witnessed quite a few in her lifetime.

This crusade has been sketchily documented elsewhere and is supposed to have taken place several hundred years ago in a nearby system, on a Forgeworld even. We all know there never was a Forgeworld in these parts though! However, not much is known and were it not for this particular diary, written by the sister when she still was a novice, I’d have completely written it off as conjecture and fiction. That’s why I send this piece to you; to assertain whether or not it requires censoring or destruction, given the obviously heretical content.




+++ Addition to Transcript 19346z +++

‘....have come here. I so long to be back in our convent; I was not born for this. We all serve the blessed Emperor in our own way and I am simply not suited to this kind of situation. My dear sisters do not hold the same reservations and I could swear Margaritae is enjoying herself tremendously. She’s totally taken with the Battlesisters and it would not surprise me if the foolish girl now has fancies of grandeur and is contemplating joining them.

Some of the Battlesisters have been encouraging her even! I hope they will not succeed in seducing her to join their ranks. I have lost too many dear friends in this wretched place already. We have only been here for little over an hour and already we mourn the loss of Alicia, Badewyn, Vondelle and Trine. Not to mention the Battlesisters who sacrificed their lives for us, so we could escape the burning wreck of our shuttle whilst under enemy fire. Without them, we’d all be dead now.

When boarding that doomed craft, we had no idea our descent would be so hazardous. We must truly have been blessed by the Emperor for the shuttle to have survived the barrage of fire thrown at us form the planet’s surface. Only when landed, if you could call that controlled crash a landing, did we realise we alone had survived. None of the other Sororitas shuttles had made it through. Six craft had left the Blessed Epiphany and only ours had made it. Sort of. The craft will most likey never fly again, the pilots are both dead and one of the Battlesisters broke her neck during the impact. I am so glad I followed the instructions and strapped in as ordered. We are moving again; Canoness Veronika is still adamant to continue with the battleplan, even though we’re down to only seven battlesisters and three novices.

+++

Now I know I am not made for battle. Oh blessed Emperor, please deliver us from this place and you will have my eternal servitude and gratitude. Those hideous monstrosities came for us from out of nowhere. They killed one of the battlesisters and took poor Mainena with them. We heard her screaming for almost an hour somewhere in the dark before she fell silent. All the while we were besieged by those monsters. They had defiled their faces, carved blasphemous symbols in their flesh. In the name of the Emperor, there can be no forgiveness for them! Canonnes Veronica was the Emperor’s wrath personified. She must have killed at least a dozen in that struggle at the beginning of the night. She had a kind word for all of us after the battle and I feel a little more secure in her presence.

Battlesister Mary has given Margaritae the fallen sister’s bolter. The poor child is hardly able to lift that huge thing but she’s not letting go. I think she’s made up her mind and will request for her induction into an Order Militant. Strangely enough, for the first time I can relate to her sentiments. We are holed up in a half destroyed building and

Emperor protect! They’re coming again!

+++

I only now woke up. It is a hazy morning and I am in a cage. I have no illusions about my position; I may have been left here with all my possessions but I am going to die. Last night they again assaulted our position and I saw Margaritae being killed right before my eyes. She stood there, hefting her impossibly large bolter at the growls and howls in the night coming closer, when a lasgun shot hit her squarely in the chest before she ever fired a shot. She fell almost on top of me and I saw one, then two battlesisters fall to more shots from the dark. The canonnes was there, firing into the night and fighting off more heretics with her blessed hammer when they overran our position. The last thing I remember was a giant in red powerarmour, who slew another sister, before I was hit by something and lost consiousness.

My cage sits in the corner of an abandoned factory building, partially destroyed. The light of dawn slants in through the broken windows. On the floor, to the center of the building, a group of at least thirty blasphemous traitors are gathered around a crude, bloodsoaked altar. At least, I am assuming it is blood and I can only imagine the horrors Mainena had to endure on it before she died. No; I’m quite certain about my fate but it has been remarkably easy to resign to it. At least I will die serving Him on Terra, which fills me with pride, even now.

The giant in bloodred armour is there too; he seems to be in control. Which is no surprise, as he towers over the other traitors, his hight only accented by the foul horns on his helmet. He appears to be apart from the mob of rebels though. I can’t tell if it is because of their fear or because he keeps his distance.

+++

The red giant spoke to me just now! He came up to my cage as I was huddled in the back corner and doffed his horned helmet. His face must have b een beautiful once, his blond hair matted with dried blood and two angry scars in his forehead where servicestuds had been before. I will never forget those cold, emotionless but inherently evil eyes. He told me what I already knew; they would kill me and feast on my desecrated body. However, he would give me a chance to join them. He told me he and I are not all that different.

He even disclosed to me his name is Valefor and he is of proud Blood Angels stock. Or at least he was. He used to be a captain of that most blessed of chapters but even so committed the most base of betrayals and left them for the gods of which we speak not. He seemed amused at my shock and grief when I heard this. He walked away laughing out loud. Even I have heard of the famed Blood Angels, ranked amongst the finest servants of the Emperor. If one of their number could fall from grace, where does that put me? I must have cried for at least an hour with despair in my heart.

+++

I am free again! Saved from certain, blasphemous death at the hands of deamon worshippers by Canoness Betiand Veronika herself. About an hour ago, the canonness and her two remaining battlesisters entered the manifactorum. The red giant was nowhere to be seen but the throng in the middle of the building charged the brave sisters as one. Singing a battlehymn of their order, the three of them fired at the oncoming blasphemous tide with their flame weapons. None of the heretics held their pace and in their bloodlust, they ran straight into the cleansing, burning promethium. None was left alive and it was over in a matter of minutes, all of their wayward souls cleansed in the name of the Emperor. The sight filled me with renewed piety.

Canonnes Veronika set off across the floor of the factory towards my cage, sisters at her side. She stopped at the foul altar and with a curt nod, the two sisters immolated the blaphemous feature with their flamers. She then knelt down in prayer, the two sisters following suit, as she prepared to re consecrate the defiled ground of this place.

In the middle of the sober ceremony and in complete surprise, Valefor returned to find the carnage wreaked in his absence. On the other side of the manifactorum, still standing in the doorway, he laughed out loud and spoke in his vile and hoarse voice: ‘You are doing my work for me sister; for each altar to the Bloodgod you purge, each worshipper you kill, makes Him stronger. He does not care whose blood is spilled. But rest assured he will take even greater pleasure in tasting yours!’ The last scentence was shouted as he charged the length of the building, closing unnaturally fast.

The canoness did not falter in her prayer though. She remained kneeled down, even as her two companions eyed eachother nervously and stood up, flamers at the ready. Blessed Betiand Veronika however apeared not even aware of the charging madman in bloodstained powerarmour. Her hands folded across her chest in the sign of the aquila, her head bowed, even from this distance I could see her lips move as she murmured her prayers.

The two remaining sisters now backed away as the traitor raised his boltpistol and fired whilst charging. One of them got hit in the leg, which almost got severed by the blast and her sister came to her aid, futily still aiming her flamer at the onrushing monster. More of the rounds impacted, this time on Canoness Veronika herself as well! The second sister got hit in the head and slumped to the ground but mistress Veronika must truly be blessed by the Emperor, for although I saw her get hit at least once, she appeared completely unphased by the impacts.

The giant traitor had closed to within a few meters when he slowed down, came to a stand still right in front of her and swung his crackling, massive powerweapon back to strike the kneeling canoness down as he spoke, as if to none in particular: ’Frag Khorne! This one I claim for my own...’ . Mistress Veronika, still kneeling replied, nearly inaudible to me, ‘beg for the Emperor's mercy foul creature, for I have none left to give.’ And before the traitor’s weapon could begin its downward arc, as in slowmotion she calmly rose and drew her blessed inferno pistol in one fluid movement. She did one step towards the marine, raised the barrel up under his chin and fired twice, simply evaporating the traitor’s head. And as if in the same motion, she reholstered her gun before the red, monstrous body, falling backwards, hit the floor with a loud and heavy bang.

She once again made the sign of the Aquila and inclined her head slightly, as she uttered the ancient traditional prayer of her order, ‘Holy Emperor on Earth, I commend this wayward soul to you. May your blessing guide it to your eternal light and give it peace forever’. I too bowed my head and offered my prayer to the souls lost here today.

Canoness Veronika tended to her one surviving battlesister first. Bandaging what was left of her leg, while she performed posthumous rites on the decapitated sister. They have both fought bravely and will be remembered, if only in this, my humble diary.

+++

I am safely back onboard the Blessed Epiphany after the ordeal on the surface of this damned planet. This is an Adeptus Mechanicus Forgeworld and there is no Echlesiary presence here. No shrines to commend the dead, no cathedrals where their memories can be perpetuated in relief or tapestry. They all died a martyr’s death and there is no way this world will remember them.

But I will. And in their honour, I have offered my request to join the Order of the Sacred Rose to Canoness Veronika and she has accepted. I will be on my way to one of the convents soon, to begin my training as a battlesister. I can only hope my service to the Emperor will be as brave and meaningful as that of the sisters who lost their lives here. I can’t wait to see Ophelia...

+++ Addition to Transcript 19346z ends +++



As you can see, this text holds several pieces of conflicting information that cannot be collaborated with existing records. I therefore recommend to you that these writings are destroyed in their entirety, to avoid controversy in the case they were ever found.

We have almost completed our work here and are ready to move on. I am looking forward to resuming our lessons on archeological interpretation and classification.

Truthfully yours,

Explorator Adept Secundus Gaius M’khrag




Victory to Canoness Betiand Veronika of the Order of the Sacred Rose

#16
Aurelius Rex

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Quintessence Daemonica
(Author: Aurelius Rex)


Inquisitor Rogan sealed the door to his makeshift laboratory aboard the Hand of Fate, leaving a smear of blood across the keypad.

‘Is it all you had hoped for, My Lord?’

Rogan looked up sharply at the daemonhost. Weighed down beneath the consecrated chains and hexagrammatic wards, Vulgare was this time projecting the image of his sister. A petty barb. It had even managed to simulate the pond-slimed hair and blue face from the last time he saw her.

‘Stop that now.’ he muttered as he washed his hands in the basin and towelled them dry on the rough, grey, Navy-issue rag he had been given. When he looked back Vulgare had returned to the form of Boussonne, the Interrogator whose body it had been bound to. ‘It is sufficient, but I need more.’

The hysterical cackling this provoked made Rogan very glad that his quarters were soundproofed. ‘Sufficient? You may be able to fool those mortals, but don’t try that with me. We know each other too well.’

His hand reached involuntarily for the lump in his breast pocket. The tiny vial of Quintessence Daemonica was still there, secure in its silver case. So small, and yet so potent; if anything it exceeded even his most fevered expectations.

Quintessence Daemonica. The Legio had purged all record of it most effectively, along with the fascinating pict-captures of what it had done to a squad of their marines on Alcmene, but then Vulgare had other, more esoteric methods of research at his disposal. As soon as Rogan had seen it he knew it was the key to his researches. Quintessence Daemonica… The name had permeated his dreams, and the jerky pict-images of loyal Astartes warping under its influence haunted and thrilled every waking moment.

The only way to defeat Chaos was to understand everything about it. Only then could you protect yourself from its wiles and even turn its power against itself. The Dark incense had just been the start. Now he was so close to a breakthrough that he could taste it! To examine the warping power of Chaos under controlled, analytical conditions was the only way to extend his knowledge of the enemy and take that final step. Then there would be no contest; under his leadership, Chaos would be defeated in a day, and there would be no more need for armies and invasions and killing.

He knew that Vulgare had only asked him to sabotage the White Laurel as a test - a symbolic corruption - in exchange for it whisking the vial from the Order Encarmine stores. But for all the daemonhost’s taunting air of superiority and overconfidence, Vulgare was the one who had been tricked, outwitted, out-thought. Rogan had done it when he had bound the creature in flesh and sigils of power, and he had done it again in getting the Quintessence Daemonica – the final piece of the puzzle. The loss of the ships and men in the ambush, even the failure of this whole Crusade was a small price to pay for the ultimate defeat of Chaos.

‘I am afraid that even my powers are insufficient to obtain more, My Lord.’ said Vulgare with ersatz regret. ‘The theft has been noticed, and it appears that the Chapter is in a considerable state of agitation.’

How could some renegade chapter, this Order Encarmine have discovered it as a… a side-effect, when he had been searching for this for years? It was common knowledge that the Scions of Dorn had brought five whole companies to Antioc for the express purpose of finishing what they had started three decades ago. Worse, wherever the Scions went, their masters, the damned Puritan Inquisitors of the Mycenae Conclave would not be far away.

His window of opportunity was slim and closing fast. He had to speak to the Order Encarmine… No, capture and interrogate them! He had to go onto Antioc. He needed to find the source, then he could create as much as he needed.

‘Vulgare. Give me the location of the Order Encarmine forces.’

+++

#17
Aurelius Rex

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Round 1, Battle 10
Master Tintagel of the Angels of the Lion vs. Inihilus of the Red Corsairs

(Author: Aurelius Rex)

+++

The Angels of the Lion Thunderhawks swooped fast and low over the generator complex before touching down. Orders had been to coordinate their attack with the 6th Company of the Howling Griffons and several companies of Elysian drop-troops, but they had been delayed by heavy enemy fire from the ground and the unwanted attention of a wing of Locust class fighters.

Yet despite their regrettable tardiness, thought Master Tintagel, there was no sign of their allies. Could they have been similarly delayed? Despite numerous signs of battle, the massive complex was eerily deserted, yet still generating power for the Traitors. Whatever the Dark Mechanicus had done to bring the power systems back on-line after the Legio sabotage had been extreme. The area was awash with hard radiation and wild magnetic fluxes. Their power armour would protect them, as it did against the other weapons of the Archenemy, but it had left communications severely compromised.

‘The c-control nexus adjoining the m-main reactor is straight ahead, M-my Lord.’ stuttered Khela, the expert in power generator systems foisted upon them by the Mechanicus to safely deactivate the generators. The balding adept was sweating profusely inside his containment suit; this was clearly his first taste of the battlefield. Just one more burden for them to carry, and yet Tintagel had to respect a man who had almost certainly volunteered for the mission, knowing that he would not be protected from the radiation. For Khela to go into the Nexus would mean he would be dead of radiation poisoning within a week.

A schematic of the generator complex blossomed inside Tintagel’s helmet display, the layout etched in green. Suppressing a deep feeling of unease, Tintagel led the way through the deserted complex.

+++

Inihilus watched the Astartes on the internal monitors with an air of disappointment; Loyalist, but not the Legio. He had followed the psychic spoor of Fautor to this location, but the Legio marine was long-gone. To avenge himself upon the marine who had come so close to snuffing out his existence had consumed him, given meaning to the endless agonies, but it would only be a matter of time. This way he would have a chance to build up his hordes before the final strike. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, the place where the plasma-bolt had struck, and remembered the dark eternity of oblivion before his resurrection by The Keeper.

The Keeper was some kind of psychic parasite that used others as meat-puppets, and only after a months-long battle of wills had he been able to cast the Xenos creature out of his mind. Well, those months had not been wasted, and Inihilus had learned a few tricks from his time sharing a body with the beast.

Throughout the complex, hundreds of bodies twitched into a sickening parody of life.

+++

Plague zombies! Well, that explained where the Elysians and the staff of the generator complex had gone. Even with comms down, Tintagel could hear that his brothers were also under attack from the echoing staccato of bolterfire. They were hemmed in, but zombies fell easily under the weight of bolt-rounds. With skill, faith and determination the force was moving inexorably towards their objective. Tintagel snapped off a pair headshots, and was rewarded by returning two Elysians to true death.

‘Sir!’shouted brother Henses, ‘Howling Griffons!’ Flashes of red and yellow in the darkness lifted the gloom, but this was dashed as the figures got closer. Rather than Astartes brothers, to their horror fragments of the distinctive quartered armour was borne by leering, daemonic creatures of Nurgle – Plaguebearers!

The Nexus was just ahead, its armoured archway looming before them. While his brothers, barely three full squads, held off the hordes with bolter and purging flamer, Khela busied himself with the lock mechanism. The Tech-adept had deeply impressed Tintagel, showing remarkable composure in the face of the Archenemy.

‘I should b-be able to b-bring the radiation bulkhead down beh-hind us once we are through, sir.’ The thought of a meter thick blast-door between them and the plaguebearers held great appeal at this moment.

The door opened into fetid darkness and the howl of machinery. Brothers Archer and Negis stepped through warily, followed by Khela and Tintagel. The rest of the force prepared to pull back, but as Brother Aexus backed over the threshold the radiation bulkhead slammed down, crushing him to death and cutting off the others.

As Khela babbled and moved to raise the blast door, Archer and Negis illuminated the cavernous chamber with their suit-lights. Equipment shone with a coating of slime, and the floor ahead rippled, thick with roaches and minor daemonic entities – Nurglings. Brother Archer advanced, sending a jet of coruscating flame to consume and drive back the dark tide.

With a wet, sucking sound, a shape detached from the roof and dropped on Archer. Even over the mechanical din, the crack of his neck was sickeningly loud.

+++

Inihilus bounded towards the Loyalists, shrugging off bolterfire. He and the loyalist leader leapt at one another, plague sword ringing against shield and powerblade. The agony he felt as the powersword sank into his bloated abdomen was indescribable, but he had felt a mortal, killing blow before and this was not one. Fighting through the agony he roared and carved the plaguesword clean through his opponent’s sword-arm at the elbow.

Stunned, the loyalist – Tintagel, according to his brother’s cry of surprise - staggered back. A hail of bolter-rounds punched into Inihilus, but the damage was as fleabites compared to the inferno in his gut. He waited until the bolter clicked empty, before he removed the marine’s head from his shoulders. Scanning the room, he found Tintagel ramming the stump of his arm against a wall that had been set ablaze by the flamer, he assumed to cauterise the wound and burn out the infection. It might even work. Such a valiant foe deserved respect, and indeed a brief respite. He holstered his pistol, drew the sword out of his belly with excruciating care, and threw it back at his wounded opponent’s feet with a flourish.

When the fight resumed, Inihilus was surprised by Tintagel’s attitude. Even one-handed he was proving a masterful foe, infused with a febrile energy that drove Inihilus back against the rails of the central reactor pit. The pommel of Tintagel’s powersword smashed into the side of his head, and then he was on the floor with his left leg shorn off below the knee. Through the fog of pain he heard Tintagel chanting in a low monotone, powersword raised for the deathstrike.

‘You, foul traitor! You, who was given all things by the Emperor and your Primarch! You who was entrusted with protecting mankind! You who have cast it all aside, besmirching all that was given you. Honour, duty, pride – all these are foreign concepts to one such as you. You are lower than the dirt under my boot! Perhaps in death the Emperor may yet forgive your sins, but you will find that I am not so merciful. Repent! For the Lion is –‘

Inihilus’s plaguesword speared up and ripped through the armoured seal between groin guard and left cuisse, and on into the loyalist’s vitals. His opponent had been a peerless swordsman, although he wondered if he had been fully conscious at the end… The time for long speeches was after the enemy was dead.

The loyalist was a foetal ball of pain, and by the sound of it he was gagging inside his helmet. Inihilus was distracted by the sound of the bulkhead lifting; the little Techpriest had finally succeeded in undoing his handiwork, but the wails of disbelief were an elixir, as plaguebearers rather than Astartes shambled through the arch.

Ignoring the rising symphony of hysteria, Inihilus pulled himself up on the railings and turned back to the Loyalist leader. Tintagel was still now, but before the end had ripped away his helmet. His skin was shrivelled, drawn tight against the skull, eyes oily black marbles.

‘Don’t worry, my worthy opponent.’ Inihilus said in a hoarse whisper. ‘You will serve again.’

There was a jerk, and a swelling from the corpse’s abdomen as a new Plaguebearer was birthed.

+++

Victory to Inihilus of the Red Corsairs.

#18
Aurelius Rex

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(Author: Plague Beast)

+++

Inihilus dragged himself along the railings to his leg, past nurglings squabbling over the meat of Tintagel's arm. Bending over gingerly to avoid re-opening the wound in his gut, he retrieved the extremity. Around where it had been detatched the armour had taken on a pale red colour, as it feasted on what little blood had been spilled. His astartes physiognomy had already numbed the pain of its loss, and Inihilus could feel his daemonic armour yearning to be whole again. Replacing the damaged limb, he watched as the armour flowed and reformed, locking the leg in place. It was a temporary solution, but it game him some mobility at least. He'd have to rely on the stability of the machine spirit of the generator facility's medicae to repair the damage; he doubted the one on his own transport functioned still. Behind him he heard the waste pump of the techadept's environment suit start up as the hapless volunteer lost control of his bladder.

Dragging the stiff limb behind him, Inihilus walked towards the techadept. He was pinned in place by a pair of plaguebearers. Their teeth clacked in anticipation, but their captive was fixated by the towering plague marine lumbering towards him. The sight of the two huge warriors exchanging blows capable of shattering rockcrete faster than the eye could see had been sufficient to lock out even the horrors that the ghastly reanimation of the facility had brought. As Inihilus approached, he tried to back through the wall the plaguebearers had him pinned against, much to their amusement. Inihilus reached out and removed the adept's helmet, allowing the foetid air and hard radiation in yet further.

"You have" Inihilus intoned, "a simple choice. I offer you the same deal my kind was offered. You can swear undying fealty to me, now and forever. You will repair what you have undone, tell me everything you know, and I will grant you life. Or you can delude yourself that denying me will make a difference, and I will either leave you to my disciples, or I will take your soul, and make you one of them."

The little techadept was brave beyond a doubt, his volunteering for this mission was proof enough of that. He had, however, prepared himself for death from the reactor core, not the servitude of undeath. In the end his terrified mind wasn't strong enough to put his love for the Empire ahead of self preservation.

Inihilus removed a gauntlet and pressed his hand to the adepts flesh, passing on the dark gifts of his patron. When he had stopped bucking and wailing, the adept's flesh had taken on a grey aspect, one half of his face hung limp, and that eye wept a sickly ichor.
Inihilus moved off towards the medicae. Nurglings capered and danced around the adept's feet as he began to effect repairs.

+++

#19
Aurelius Rex

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Round 1, Battle 11
Executor Calcraft - Mourning Templar Chapter vs. Sedon - Renegade Exorcist Astartes

(Author: Orkdung)

+++


It was twilight, gray dust danced across the edge of the eastern part of the town, marked on Calcrafts slate-map as Dedius Dump, at one time home to many of Antiocs labor population.

His scouts had come back and as he assumed the population was gone, most likely gathered by the chaos hordes for sacrifice, slave work or indoctrination, who knew.

The Mourning Templars had arrived a few hours earlier under cover of darkness in three waves; first with a low-G drop by assault marines and speeders to clear the zone, and then two thunderhawks laden with scouts for reconnaissance, and finally another six with the Captain and his tactical squads, supplies and logistical personnel.

After debriefing the scouts Calcraft voxed his orders “Squads Aiden, Tubilius, and Doctren will flank the town to the southwest with Rhinos supported by speeders. Lucidius, Tempestium will flank the northwest with Rheids assault marines. Copy.”

As one, his sergeants commed their voxes in acknowledgement of their orders.

Calcraft would move in with his command squad and the scouts through the city, two vindicators would be left in the rear with the support contingent.


+++


Sedon swore at the sun as it crested over the horizon; how he had loathed the light in his prior life, and how he, now, relished the dark space which was chaos.

He had been given the duty of watching Dedius Dump by Tomax himself, though disliked the roll and felt it menial; a small, abandoned settlement which formerly housed adepts of the Imperium. It was tactically insignificant, and quite a distance from the forges, especially with the monorails down.

Odds were he wasn’t going to see much action and cursed his fellow marines for their chance at glory above the planet, and those stationed throughout the factorums.

Just hours ago the Imperials had breached the picket line and though an attempt was made at disrupting comms, he had heard over his vox that the followers of the Corpse-God had begun their decent on the planet.


+++


Burst transmissions began to flow in as Calcrafts marines advanced through and around the village. He was in a Damocles Rhino with the most sophisticated Imperial technology which enabled him a high level of communication with his troops and his ship above, Grief of Angels, to level the grid quickly, if need be, but hoped would not.

Aiden, Tubilius, and Doctren had nothing to report, rolling across the southwestern highway, if anything, they were quite sure their movement would have been spotted, if it had not been already, as they kicked up the achromatic ash of Antioc that had covered the roadway which had not been used in weeks, all that was left of the populace were abandoned ground vehicles along the road.


Lucidius, Tempestium and Rheids on the other hand had made visual contact with vehicles, or more-so, their plumes of acrid smoke belching along the hills of the northwestern part of the village.

It was a green light for the Mourning Templars, and Calcraft would not lose any time calling in a Lance strike on the location and informing all units to converge on the coordinates given by Lucidius himself; Calcraft had no doubt in his mind that this was the enemy in the sector, guard units were miles behind the Mourning Templars and wouldnt arrive at this location until early the next day after the unloading of their heavy equipment.

+++

The white hot fire that erupted around Sedon and his men was a surprise to say the least, he hadnt expected anything at all in this area; he had even begun to wonder why he had fallen out of favor with Tomax, his lord and commander for the last few months.
He sighed deeply and cracked his neck, flexing and extending it. All would be all right, and questioning the judgement of his lord would not happen again; his smugness a sin that would pass. He was soon to get his wish; a taste of the Imperium. A Rhino shimmered in the morning sunlight and smoked as his underlings pulled the dead and dying from its hull; early to Chaos Undivided, early to everlasting destruction, those few blessed brothers.

"Dig in!" Screamed the Chaos Marine, "it is here where we will face our foe and draw the line for Tomax and Undivided!"
Cultists and Marines alike clammered out of their vehicles and crested the hill setting up a quick defense.

+++

Squads Aiden, Tubilius, and Doctren came in on the southern flank of the horde at about 200 meters and dismounted quickly and orderly, with the first marines laying down bolter fire. The squads spanned out across the area finding ditches and culverts for cover.

The northern group followed in suit and the fighting began. Rheid and his assault marines gunned their packs and came in on top of the enemy in a high arc, hoping for a quick "death from above".

Lucidius voxed in reports to Calcraft as his rhino halted its advance and disgorged its squad, keeping in time with the southern forces.

Tempestium pushed forward with his rhino hoping to gain ground, but a band of cultists popped up on the right and let loose with a rocket salvo, blasting the tread of the rhino which started it careening down the road.

+++

"Yesssss Yesssss Yessss!!!" Screamed Sedon, "Bring the battle to me, why should I do all the work! You fools! You fools!
Isnt this wonderful Daarexialuminthum? Isnt this wonderful!! We have been given a great honor here!! Yes, yes I know...I will not dispute...no, no...shhhh shhhh. The time in nigh!!"

Edipus Darkhand approached and Sedon quieted his cackling. "What are you doing Sedon?? You have all of our heavy support within the gully, troops on the ridge, we are handing ourselves to the Corpse Flesh which claims Emperorship."

"Shut your mouth, Edipus! I am in control here and will turn the tide with Daarex...no, no...I will not give you...silence, yes"

Edipus gave Sedon a puzzled look, he knew the old marine had a screw loose and was gravely concerned about the safety of the unit that was tasked for this mission.

+++

The Damocles burst through a building at the edge of town, just tens of meters from the hill that had just been set up with the enemy, the scouts tagging behind.
He insisted the driver gun the engines and the ancient machine proceeded to climb the hill.
Bolter fire and plasma reigned down on them, but did little to the vehicle except make in groan with displeasure.
He was nearly there, the flanks and the lance battery had spooked the chaos marines and all eyes had been drawn to the south and north as his troops had crept through the village getting closer and closer to the combat.
Calcraft stood up and peered over brother Bethels shoulder, he could see a long row of red along the ridge, the information coming across the Damocles vids as the radar above did wide sweeping scans of the battlefront.

"Contact in 60 seconds" cryed the driver. And then a shudder, a pop and sinuated wisps of charcoal colored smoke began to puff into the interior of the vehicle, it had been hit.

"Abandon old Ventus" commanded Calcraft.
The marines jumped out as quickly as they could as smoke turned into flame, and as they did more bolter chatter began to pour on them.
First Westmon fell, then Rollins, two veteran marines that had been on countless adventures with Calcraft.

"The hill, take it!! Supporting fire" voxed the commander, and with the word the scouts below, within the rubble of the building, began to slowly pick their enemy off on the top of the hill.

+++

Sedon looked less than impressed with his lieutenant. "I was given the task of watching this zone, not you! I have the capabilities to turn the tide Edi-puss!" scoffed the dark marine. The two stood next to a rhino, using it as protection from the incoming fire.
Sedons lips curled, his eyes glowed and he smacked the side of one of the long exhaust stacks. "Hehe...my pretties...yes...I know...it is time"

The rear ramp slowly opened, and a cornucopia of colored tentacles licked at the sides of the rhino, trying desperately to get out as quickly as possible. The possessed would do their job, with conviction, no doubt.

+++

Calcraft and his marines crested the hill as the chaos lapdogs rose to meet them. He kicked one squarely across the face, and in an instant its jaw was removed, crimson blood following suit.

All around the battle he could see his marines closing in, each squad voxing in reports with Calcraft returning orders, it was a very smooth tactical encounter; text book.

Bolter chatter rang out and another marine dropped behind him, dear old Helvictus.

Below he could see 2 chaos lords yelling at eachother and a rhino releaving itself of its fettid holdings.

From above Rheid and his lads were just about to land in the middle of hell and meet, what he presumed to be possessed.

Enough, Dedius Dump was not his mission, it was getting to and securing the factorums of this world. In front of him now was nothing but a hodge-podge group of chaos rabble.

"Come traitor meet your doom! For the Mourning!" Alexi! ALEXI!" screemed Calcraft pointing at the largest of the group marines below.

+++

What was this? Someone again dared to speak up to Sedon? Enough was enough "Forward for Chaos, forward for Tomax!!"

+++

Calcraft sighted the range in his helmet, he was too far to get a placed shot in so initated a rolling charge.
"Forward, push forward! Covering fire! Supressive fire squad Doctren". With that word, the whole of the squad turned their bolters to the hill and began to pour it on.
"Move forward brothers!"
Calcraft swung his powerfist at a chaos marine engaging him with an evil looking blade, the azure crackling of the glove came down on the victims head.

The command squad, or what was left of it, pushed off the hill and toward their objective, Sedon.

+++

Sedon ran forward, frothing at the mouth "Insult Insult" he cried, as if fouled by an unseen umpire.
"On me my precious ones, on me Edi-puss!"

The squad pressed forward up the hill, relentlessly picking up speed and ground.

+++

The hot headed chaos marine and his retinue were moving to quickly and within a second Calcrafts rangefinder went off, the leader was in range. It was time to take the shot. He squeezed the trigger and the bolter smoothly kicked his wrist back.
The round finding its mark exploded on the chaos marines chest. The impact sending shrapnel into its face and those of its squad.

+++

"Gahh!" what was this thought Sedon, a hit and his arm tingled and then went numb, combat drugs kicking in to bring it back on line.
He continued to lurch forward, the advesary so very close now.
He too would bleed the bastard of the Emperor before delivering his weapon to its host.

Trigger squeezed...

The shot rang out...it would hit the marines left arm, but would sloff off, unable to penetrate the giant marines armor.

+++

Range flashed once again in Calcrafts helmet, mere meters! This was it!
He pulled the trigger one last time and the shot met its mark, hitting just above the first wound inflicted, but it was deflected off the armor, hitting a spike instead.

Time, he felt, was on his side, he lept foward and bellowed one last time to his company "CHARGE! This is it men!!"

He crashed into this foe, the chaos marine raising his sword and parrying the whole of the marines body!

+++

"Hehe" thought Sedon "the fool would die now, he should never have come within range"
He hefted his sword above his head and brought it down toward the Emperors soldier, but it was deflected by his shoulder pad and slid off, throwing Sedon off balance.

+++

"Now!" thought Calcraft, his arm had hung low and the azure of the fist crackled once more, he brought it up planting it within the Chaos Marines chest.

The marines face crumpled, into an even more disgusting visage as his last breath left his body and the fist followed through, ripping him in two.

With marine precision the tactical squads moved in around the chaos marines, releaving their bolters of ammo.

The chaos forces were surrounded now, falling like wheat on harvest day. Rheid and his men had landed right on top of the possessed and chainsword and bone were now being introduced to one another.

The blood letting would only continue for a few minutes more.

The battle, victorious for the Emperor and his Mourning Templars.

Calcraft looked up, and then around at the beautiful destruction of the enemy ""In the Emperors name, and by the power he grants me, I condemn you to death....all of you!!"

Victory to Executor Calcraft - Mourning Templar Chapter.

#20
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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Round 1, Battle 12
Inquisitor Maxim Atrich of the Ordo Malleus vs Hathark Spineripper of the World Eaters

(Author: Commissar Molotov)

Hathark Spineripper surveyed the barren terrain, broken only by the burning wrecks of vehicles and the deep craters that were the hallmark of orbital bomardment. It was rare indeed to see the bare ground on a Forgeworld, especially one as heavily-worked as Antioc. Even the Adeptus Mechanicus, it seemed, had a measure of respect for the power of the biological. The diseases created within Bio-Facility Omega-13 could eradicate the entire planetary population within a few days. The Warlord Tomax Hell had dispatched Spineripper's Warband to prevent the Imperials from gaining control of such powerful weapons. Such a task was surely more suitable for the Nurgle-worshippers, but Hathark had accepted the task.

It was only when Malthax had fallen, bleeding from his eyes, that Hathark had realised something was terribly wrong. The containments were lose. Whether they had been damaged by the Imperial bombardment, or sabotage, it was unclear. But he would have his revenge upon those responsible. And Khorne would have their skulls. And then -

"Hathark!" one of his Marines shouted. "The Imperials are coming!"

+++

With a whisper, Inquisitor Maxim Atrich intoned the last line of the Vindex Benedictus and opened his eyes. His mind was clear, his heartrate slow. As he reflected on his duty he glanced around the passenger compartment of the Thunderhawk. The Storm Troopers were readying themselves for combat, fastidiously checking the cabling for their hellguns and their respirators before securing their helmets, checking their vox-links and preparing for the coming battle. The sacred incense curled lazily, hanging just above the armoured decking of the gunship.

Beyond the Storm Troopers, ten immovable statues, Avenging Angels carved in Ceramite and Steel. The Grey Knights, the Battle-Brothers of Titan. The Squad's leader, a Justicar by the name of Kreiss, inclined his head respectfully. His exquisitely-crafted helm shielded his face. Atrich wondered idly if the Marine was apprehensive.

Atrich nodded to himself, convinced that they would succeed with the might of the Grey Knights. He felt the Thunderhawk shift beneath him as the craft anked. The Inquisitor didn't need to consult his auspices to know the target was close.

The Omega-13 Bio-Weapons facility was an unassuming, inocuous complex of squat, truncated buildings. He remembered plenty of details about the complex from his initial briefings. During the Imperial rule of Antioc, it had been one of the Forgeworld's most secure sites. Now the site seemed abandoned, and Atrich had been ordered by his superiors to find out why. He didn't know exactly why the Grey Knights had been assigned to fight alongside him, but he was certainly glad for their assistance.

+++

The air shook as the Thunderhawk landed, engines screaming. The crafted seemed to hiss malevolently, steam gouting from its side as the craft's front-ramp dropped open.

From his vantage point in cover, Hathark hissed with frustration and annoyance. As quickly as he could he spoke the words of power learnt from Kolgar so long ago. The syllables burnt his throat and hurt his head; the taste of blood welled at the back of his throat. Feedback squealed over the vox-links.

He could feel the fragile boundary between the material universe and the warp stretching, and bending. For the briefest of moments the ruddy-skinned daemons seemed to tear themselves into existence like some terrifying monster hatching from an egg. And then suddenly, the Bloodletters of Khorne existed. Mighty daemons, each a trusted servant of the Blood-God himself.

Blood-Red beasts, all horns and claws, adorned with the sigil of Khorne. The creatures hefted their wickedly-sharp blades, loping with an inhuman gait towards the Thunderhawk. Already Storm Troopers were spilling from the craft, firing disciplined bursts of hellgun fire. The volleys of concentrated power blasted great hunks of flesh from the flanks of the creatures, but it barely stopped the daemons.

Hathark could feel his blood rising. Around him, he could see the warriors of his warband growing restless. They were the Berzerkers of Khorne! They were born for combat, they lived for the press of bodies, the maelstrom of blade against blade. With a look, Hathark stilled the warriors. They would have their blood. But first they must think strategically.

+++

Inquisitor Atrich pounded down the Thunderhawk. His armoured footfalls rang out on the metal, mirroring the blood thumping in his head. The Storm-Troopers were firing; he recognised the nightmarish creatures as Bloodletters. He whispered a prayer and hefted his sacred blade.

And battle was joined.

For the briefest second, all was quiet, and then Atrich was thrust into the horrifying experience of combat with the daemonic. He was a trained and trusted Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus, a grizzled veteran who had faced down cults, traitors and daemons. He was no coward, but to face the darkest mirror of humanity was an experience that tore at his soul and threatened to throw him into insanity. The daemons were huge, monstrous creatures, rippling muscles, jutting horns and gleaming blades.

With a roar of defiance, he parried a vicious axe-blow. Their weapons met and locked with a clash that thundered through his sword and his arm. The Bloodthirster snarled, saliva dripping from a fang-filled maw. Atrich was not afraid. He was contemptuous. He spat curses and prayers into the Bloodletter's face. He fought furiously, the slashing movements of his blade falling into line with the prayer on his lips.

+++

Hathark watched the combat with an almost languid disinterest. Until he saw the armoured warriors walking slowly, almost carelessly, down the ramp of the Thunderhawk. Their armour was a bright silver that shone a whole range of colours in the light. They were wreathed in purity seals and honours that fluttered in the wind. They each held a halberd that gleamed in the light.

The Grey Knights.

Strategy be damned, Hathark would have their skulls.

"Attack!" He roared.

+++

Justicar Kreiss thrust his Nemesis blade into the chest of one of the Bloodletters, ripping the blade up and through what passed for its head. Kicking the already-crumbling remains of its body to the ground he decapitated a second, and brought the blade up to block the axe of another. Then he fired his storm-bolter, reducing the abomination to a fine mist.

+++

Atrich's heart sung as the Grey Knights entered the fray. The warriors towered over him, bringing the battle to the enemy with fluid grace. The day would be theirs! He rejoiced.

Then he saw the corrupt forms of the Berzerkers as they rose from cover. This was no small warband, these Khornate Marines. Leering skulls and hideous gargoyles stared from their twisted and warped armour. Inhuman horns and malicious spikes burst forth through armoured ceramite plates. He vaguely recognised their banners, trophies and devotional markings. These were the so-called Fists of Khorne, underneath Kolgar the Omnicide. The Inquisition kept whole libraries to chart the bloody swathe his forces were carving across the Imperium.

Bolter-fire rang through the air, the stacatto thunderclaps deafeningly loud. He saw a figure in blood-red armour, unmistakeably their leader. His limbs jutted in hideously mutated claws. He stood a head taller than his brethren; his armour was twisted into baroque shapes. Skulls writhed within its brass trim, each a rictus-grin in leering testimony to the power of the Blood-God.


The Inquisitor hefted his blade and he knew what must be done.

"Warrior of Khorne! I challenge you! Do you accept?"

+++

Hathark almost laughed at the fool. His every fibre and sinew longed for the glory of combat with the Grey Knights that so zealously guarded the Corpse-Flesh of Terra. But his warrior-honour could not be offended without retribution. He raised his voice, rasping and hoarse.

"I accept!"

Without preamble, he leapt for the Inquisitor. Their combat was swift, the two trading blow after blow; the Inquisitor was parrying, riposting and dodging with a skill that few men could boast. Some would be envious - Hathark was merely glad for the challenge. His sword traced intricate lines of blazing light, but Hathark cared not. With a roar, he slashed into the Inquisitor's armour. Blood!

+++

Dimly, Atrich knew that the rent in his armour left him vulnerable to the myriad toxins in the atmosphere. The tiny part of his mind not engaged in fighting for his life composed a heartfelt plea.

Not now, my Lord.

Not whilst there's so much to be done.


He was tired. The Berzeker was near twice his size, a veteran of the greatest wars of the Imperium. His body had been honed to perfection. He was just simply a human, with a man's frailties and a man's weaknesses.

But sometimes humanity was what counted. What mattered. He was an Inquisitor of the Malleus, and he would see justice done. Gathering all his strength, he brought his sword round, across the traitor's mid-section. His sacred blade sang as it cut through armour, flesh and bone. The bright crimson gout stood as testament to the damage he had done.

+++

Hathark roared, a nigh-incomprehensible sound of rage and pain. This insignificent Inquisitor? It was unthinkable. He pulled back with an almost drunken lurch. The pain was the worst he had felt since Skalathrax. He roared, begging Khorne to aid him, to not desert him. He felt power building up inside him.

The Power.

The Power...

Scarlet flame billowed in a sheet from his extremities. He roared in exultation. He could feel it blazing across his skin, within his armour, burning. He cared not as he focused his hatred upon the Inquisitor, the servant of a Corpse-God that refused to join his master in death!

+++

Atrich screamed, too. The fire blazed. His cloak was aflame, his armour hot. He tore his helmet from his head, the pain almost too intense to bear. He could barely see; he could feel the skin on his face liquefying. He felt distant, detached. His mind almost seemed to float away from the pain and his body collapsed.

+++

The pitiful wretch slumped to the ground, mewling with pain. Hathark laughed.

"Where is your Emperor, Inquisitor? Where is your God now?"

+++

Atrich opened his one good eye. The sound seemed distant, muted.

"I said, where is your God now?"

The Inquisitor blinked, focusing his eye as best he could. Before him, on the ground, lay his tarnished icon of Saint Sebastian. The Saint with his eyes looking upward, his hands folded neatly, smiling beatifically.

We are all Martyrs in the Emperor's name...

With a strength Atrich didn't know he had, he stood, with a fluid precision he would never replicate. His blade was in his hand, but he couldn't remember picking it up. coils of energy wreathed the blade, crackling. He swung it, roaring his defiance. The blade sliced through the traitor's neck, cauterising the wound immediately. The mountainous Berzerker toppled, his viciously tusked head landing beside him.

"He is with me in every thing I do, hellspawn. Where are yours?" Atrich said, before collapsing.

+++

Justicar Kreiss looked dispassionately at the two bodies, both pooled in their own blood. He turned to one of the surviving Storm Troopers.

"The Inquisitor yet lives. Fetch him medicae attention."

Kreiss looked to the Bio-Facility. He and his squad had a task of their own to conduct...

Victory to Inquisitor Atrich of the Ordo Malleus

#21
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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Round 1, Battle 13
Inquisitor Lukas vs. Arch Heretic Killgore

(Author: Ferrata)

+++

Inquisitor Qin placed his back against the wall; it had been a tough fight getting to the factory from the drop zone, but his forces had done him proud. They had been assaulted by blood crazed marauders, probably former members of honourable Imperial Guard regiments fallen under the influences of chaos. The enemy had not been the only problem; his forces had been ravaged by a number of unfortunate events. They had been caught in a vicious storm, trapped by tumbling debris and had lost a number of men who had succumbed to the allurement of chaos. His men were highly disciplined men; their firing lines had managed to quell any enemy that had beaten themselves against their guns, reducing them to shamble of fleeing soulless men. There had been whispers of a disease rampaging across the surface of Antioc, men losing their sanity, turning on their comrades. There had been few instances which could even be linked to this disease, but still the whispers had been heard in the camps of his men.

The mission, code-named Rorke, consisted of troops mainly from the personal guard of Inquisitor Qin, the second company of the 24th Regiment, had been tasked with the capture of one of the many factories which littered the surface of Antioc. The factory was under the control of an unknown insane mechanicus member who had offered his services to Tomax, his services being the building of a devastating army. An army which consisted of creatures built from humans with the addition of both mechanical and daemonic advantages. Under the control of a single mind of pure hatred, this army could cause devastation on an apocalyptic scale if allowed to grow. The orders from high command ordered for the capture of such a demented heretic, though the slaying of such a beast would be of no great loss to the crusade.

Second company of the 24th Regiment had been under the command of Qin for several years now, it had been a relationship forged in the heart of battle. Though under the direct command of the Inquisition, most of the men were loyal to Lieutenant Chard, second in command behind the inquisitor. Qin and Chard had become good friends over the years, though both knew their positions and roles in the command structure.

With a slight flick of his head towards his Vox officer, Qin signalled for the advancement on the factory. Battle plans had been sent, watches had been resynced and weapons had been checked one last time. Explosives had been brought to each of the doors, specifically placed in front the armoured bars of the doors, break the bars and you break the door. As the platoons fell back out of the blast range of the explosives, the silence was only broken by the monotonous ticking of the bombs. Qin counted down in his head…

5…4…3…2…1…

A massive explosion rocked the doors of the factory, obliterating the thinner metal and removing much of the stronger metal. Unexpectedly, there were no sirens, no auto-defence systems, no gunfire, and no horde of beasts. Qin didn’t like it when things didn’t go to plan, even if it meant there was no enemy, because you could be sure that sooner or later the enemy will be upon you, and at that moment, you would not have a plan. In these circumstances, its best to formulate a plan as quickly and efficiently as possible, and Qin had done just that.

“We are taking Rorke the hard way, move in.�

++

They found themselves facing down a void between two rows of machines, nearly twelve metres wide. The machines probably hadn’t stopped pounding since the day Tomax had captured the planet, and even with a force under the command of the Inquisition hosting guns in their directions, the workers did not stop their machines, scared of a fate worse than death if they allowed production to halt.

Qin felt uneasy; this was too much of a walk in the park, too straightforward, too simple for it be realistic. His worries were soon answered as he watched a host of creatures appear at the far end of the corridor. They were neither human nor daemon nor machine, an amalgamation of flesh, metal and warp. They flooded round the corner of the machines, forming a wall of bodies, deep as it was wide, if not deeper. Standing in the front rank of these creatures was a beast, a man, well the remains of man, seething with mechanical limbs and replacements, even these were not enough as the beast also hosted a number of daemonic mutations, a large tentacle sprouting from his back.

“Firing Pattern Sigma-five�

Qins voiced was lost under the rumbling of the machines, he raised his voice and repeated his order, but to no avail. He glanced across to Chard, who was within hearing range even with the clatter the machines made.

“Pass the messages onto the officers, lieutenant.�

Chard quickly acted upon his orders, Qin heard him trail of bellowing the orders to the officers, he had only been able to hear the name of one before Chard had moved too far away to be heard, “Bromhead�. Qin watched as second company quickly formed into sigma-five, one of the standard firing patterns. Three rows of men stretched across the gap, first row prone, second row knelt, third row standing. Firing in a staggered formation every six seconds led to the creation of a near solid, continuous wall of las fire. Any foe brave enough or stupid enough, to charge such a firing line would soon find much of their force depleted before impact.

Qin raised his arm, waiting for the perfect moment to release the first volley of fire. The block of creatures was moving in, not at a high rate, but quick enough to get into combat and slaughter second company. His heart started to slow down, it always did, against all reason in times of stress and pressure his heart slowed down, making time run in slow motion. He watched the individual movements of the leader creature, each piston firing to power the huge mechanical systems which had been imbedded in his flesh. Qin judge the distance, he heard something being shouted at the top of someone’s voice

“Here they come, as thick as grass and as black as thunder.�

Qin allowed his arm to fall, and with this movement, the first line fired. Within an instance, the pattered fire began to take its toll on the enemy as its front ranks began to take causalities. Even with the guns firing, the machines did not stop; the workers did not cease in their labour. In the racket of the machines Qin heard a high pitched scream, nothing more than a quick chain of numbers…

1011…1001…1100…1100…

Qin did not understand the language, even if it meant anything at all but he knew it meant something to the creatures. Their eyes rolled back on the creatures and many of the mechanical systems started injecting vile liquids into them, their bodies were forced into over drive. Qin knew what it was. He had used them before, for the Imperium, for arco-flagellants in the name of the Emperor. He knew that what was said was not good for the second company, under his breath he whispered

“Trigger-word�

As the second company continued firing, the creatures quickened their pace almost instantly, flipping from lumbering and sluggish to quick and agile. With the creatures closing in, the second company did not falter, their guns never ceased, though the ranks of the beast never thinned. As each one fell another one replaced its still beating corpse. The day was looking hopeless for the second company.

Qin heard a cry at the back of the ranks; Private Byrne had collapsed to the ground clutching his ears. He screamed in pain, though his body showed no signs of damage. Qin watched as Commissar Dalton pulled out his las pistol, and muttering the prayer of Emperor’s forgiveness, fired a single round into the young private’s head. Qin turned away from the Commissar and continued to fire his psycannon, aiming for the heart of the enemy. The mechanicus let out a scream of agony as the psybolt smashed through his bionic chest. In his rage, the dark warrior released a hail of bolts from his bolter, three separate bolts connecting with the Inquisitors leg, almost removing it from beneath Qin with the sheer power behind them.

Pain flooded into his mind, almost causing him to black out. Qin had been shot before, he had almost lost an arm fighting daemons and his life fighting traitors, but this pain was now, this pain was present. He attempted to block out the pain, to get back to the fight, but the second company’s guns were now firing silently as Qin’s hearing was numbed by the pain. Pulling the trigger on his psycannon, Qin released an act of defiance against the pain. The psybolts tore through the beast, its body dropped to the ground. The other creatures did not halt in their rampage, still closing in on the firing lines of the second company.

++

The battle had last for another half an hour; the gun fire had kept a majority of the enemy from combat, though some had managed to break through. Once the dust had settled, the second company countered their dead and wounded, seventeen and fifteen respectively. The bodies of the enemy covered the floor of the factory, their blood and mechanical fluids seeping across the metal decking. The machines had finally fallen quiet; the second company had to resort to slaying the workers to cease their work.

++

Qin leant on Chard as his body was flooded with painkillers administered by one of the company’s medics. He had managed to hobble to the body of the mechanicus traitor, its systems still functioning. The Inquisitor smiled, the foul beast was not dead and that meant it had a future of pain and misery to look forward, enough to give it a right to hate the Imperium.

“Sedate him and get him to the pick up point, the labs have some tests for him.�

+++

Victory to Inquisitor Lukas

Edited by Ferrata, 02 May 2007 - 08:00 PM.


#22
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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Round 1, Battle 14.
Captain Kasimir of the War Bearers vs. Warsmith Oudo of the Iron Warriors.

(Author: Rogue Trader)

+++

The three Thunderhawks entered the atmosphere simultaneously, each leaving a burning trail behind it as it descended towards the war-torn planet below. Captain Kasimir of the War Bearers stood in the cockpit of Gunship Primus, staring intently over the pilot's shoulder. Even his enhanced vision couldn't make out the designated landing site yet... the smoke from the innumerable battles being fought across the planet obscured the landscape below.

A veteran of a hundred battlefields, he knew his nerves shouldn't be getting the better of him... yet this mission was different. This mission was his first as Captain of the company; his first where he bore the responsibility for a hundred lives rather than the ten he had carried as a mere sergeant. The responsibility weighed heavily on his shoulders - for the hundredth time he glanced to port then starboard through the cockpit plasglass, confirming the presence of the other two Thunderhawks in tight formation. Together, the three assault birds carried the entire Seventh Company; one hundred brave souls who would live or die by his command.

The mission should be simple: reconnoitre of the ash wastes that dominated the southern continent, and report back to Crusade command. In his briefing, Commander Antaeus had explained that a number of the Crusade's ships had picked up anomalous energy surges from the wastes - a region that showed no surface structures or signs of habitation. Kasimir, torn between the desire for action and trepidation at putting his men in harm's way had immediately volunteered for the mission.

+++

The Thunderhawk swept low, barely missing the ash dunes before rising again to maximise the range of the sensorium arrays. Despite everything, Kasimir smiled to himself - Tudyk, his pilot, was the finest the War Bearers had to offer, and could never resist the chance to prove it.

Kasimir leaned forward, watching the sensorium display - the readings were normal, showing nothing out of the ordinary. Again, he looked to port - the company's second Gunship lay close on the wing of his own. The pilot glanced over and saluted; Kasimir acknowledged with a raised hand. Reassured, he looked to starboard, to see the third Thunderhawk also exactly where it should be.

Except that it wasn't.

Gunship Tertius was peeling away from the formation, the triple RX-92-00 thrusters firing erratically as the flyer dipped and weaved through the sky. Kasimir flipped a toggle to activate the inter-ship vox.

"Tertius, resume formation."

The vox-net crackled and whistled for a few seconds before Kasimir spoke again.

"Tertius, report."

Again, the vox-net was silent, waves of static washing the cockpit as Kasimir watched the errant Thunderhawk regain some measure of control and begin a sharp bank back towards its sister ships.

"Tertius, this is Captain Kasimir - report immediately."

This time, the vox-caster sprang to life, though the voice that spoke was barely recognisable as belonging to the pilot of Tertius.

"Drach'nr zkrath unkrah szree grith maa chak. Kree fath jzi'ontra groy ti kra lor gar szhee grah'zmein kreth briy tuns'chek greth szei kran."

Kasimir stared in disbelief as Tertius' dorsal mounted Turbo Laser fired, the beam of coherent light searing the air before it stuck Secundus Gunship. Kasimir span, seeing the lasfire raking along the unsuspecting Thunderhawk. The blast blackened the reinforced ceramite before breaching the starboard engine casing and igniting the reactor fuel. The explosion momentarily dazzled him, and when his vision returned, the War Bearer could see Secundus Gunship spiralling towards the ash wastes below, a trail of black smoke and burning debris marking its path.

Scanning the sky he could see that Tertius had overshot, and was banking hard to bring the deadly Turbo Laser to bear on Primus. Again, the vox burst into life. Again, came the same strangled voice, the words ripped from tortured vocal chords.

"Krath tuns'ceck maa gree. Czro khor zelo'szas ontra'jzi. Czro khor zelo'szas ontra'jzi. Ti ykzra shree grahz co'traa uszkah greth szei szkol."

Even as Kasimir opened his mouth to order evasive manuoevers, Tudyk was already throwing the Thunderhawk into a steep dive, avoiding the heavy laser mounted atop Tertius. The rogue Gunship's heavy bolters opened fire, spattering Primus with explosive rounds. The cockpit was filled with shrill damage alarms and awash with the reflected light of warning lumens.

"Return fire. Take Tertius down."

The words left him sick, a burning, bitter taste in his mouth, but Kasimir knew he had no alternatives left. If Tertius Gunship wasn't shot down, it would destroy them all, and the obscene chanting that still issued from the vox-net left him in no doubt that whoever was flying the bird, it wasn't a War Bearer anymore.

Tudyk's voice cut across the frantic voxchatter as the Thunderhawk dipped sharply, veering in one direction then the other.

"Incoming! Brace for impact!"

An explosion rocked the Gunship, throwing Kasimir off balance. As the fast approaching ash dunes filled the view port, the sensorium readings caught Kasimir's eye - the display showed a sharp spike of energy which the logic engines were unable to identify...

+++

Warsmith Oudo stepped from the Land Raider and scanned the sullen, bloodshot sky. Vectors superimposed on his field of vision tracked the descent of the loyalist Thunderhawks. Two had fallen from the sky in pieces, the third; a microsecond of calculations traced the final Gunship's trajectory, and Oudo pinpointed the flyer as it sped north before disappearing over the horizon.

With the Warsmith back aboard, the battle tank sped towards the site of the nearest down Thunderhawk, closely followed by two more Land Raiders, each bearing the metallic skull icon of the Iron Warriors.

+++

The landing had been bad. The Thunderhawk had hit heavily then skipped across the ash dunes, each impact rattling the bones of every Marine aboard. Eventually, the battered flyer had come to a rest on a gentle incline, smoke and promethium leaking from the cracked ceramite plates.

Now, three squads of War Bearers were all that remained of the full company that had boarded the Thunderhawks twenty minutes ago. Twenty minutes! Kasimir shook his head, unable to believe that so little time had passed. Now Sergeant Kirov had reported a squadron of Land Raiders moving towards their position, and closing fast. There were no other Crusade forces in the area - the War Bearers had been the point force - and that meant only one thing. Traitors.

Kasimir led the remnants of his company away from the wreckage of the Thunderhawk at an angle oblique to the path of the approaching 'Raiders. His hastily formulated plan called for the War Bearers to lie up amongst the warren of rocks some quarter of a kilometre away, wait for the Land Raiders to arrive, then attack them from behind, targeting the weaker rear armour.

+++

A mechadendrite extruded from a port in the Warsmith's baroque armour and snaked towards an interface port in the Land Raider's personnel den. With a barely perceptible click, the mechadendrite locked into the port and Oudo instantly had access to the Land Raider's sensorium feedback. Long range scans showed the Thunderhawk exactly where he had computed. A lesser creature might have felt some satisfaction at the confirmation, but Oudo merely accepted as fact that his calculation had been correct. The scans showed no sign of life in the immediately vicinity of the wreckage. That was also expected. Oudo calculated that there was a 99.73 percent likelihood that the survivors had decamped to the cover of an extrusive mineral formation - igneous rock, 73.21 percent Silicon Dioxide by mass - 242 metres away. Oudo sent a tight burst of machine code instructing one of the Land Raiders to continue to the Thunderhawk and secure it for later salvage then, followed by the other, the Warsmith's battle tank abruptly altered course for the rock formation.

+++

Kasimir cursed as two of the Land Raiders slewed to a halt near the base of the rocks. So much for the element of surprise. As the forward ramps slammed to the ground, Kasimir raised his Storm Bolter and activated his vox link.

"Brothers, we have come to Antioc to rid it of the Traitor and the heretic. This is our duty"

The answering cry of "It will be done" echoed across the vox net as the Marines unleashed a hail of bolter fire, cutting down the first Iron Warriors as they exited their transports.

+++

Oudo stood at the rear of the Land Raider - there was an 84.02 percent chance that he wouldn't be targeted by the Loyalists in this position - and scanned the rocks, marking the position of each muzzle flash and swiftly tallying the figures. There were thirty-one Loyalists firing from amongst the rocks. His Iron Warriors returned fire, Bolter and Lascannon fire hammering the entrenched War Bearers. Correction: twenty-four. Scanning quickly through the pict-captures of the enemy, he identified the unit bearing the insignia of a captain. The Human spirit was an unknown, something he was unable to factor into a calculation, but there was a 78.56 percent chance that the removal of the leader-unit would have an adverse effect on the combat performance of the rest of the enemy. Raising his boltgun, the Warsmith aimed at his target and fired, just as the Loyalist ducked behind a boulder.

+++

Kasimir kept his head down as explosive bolts peppered the rocks around him. The heavy fire from the Land Raiders had them pinned. Risking a glance, he saw a lone Iron Warrior stood apart from the rest, an extra mechanical arm arcing from his back. He must be the Traitors' leader...

Glancing round, a movement amongst the rocks caught his eye - at the far end of the firing line, a Marine had dropped his bolt pistol and fallen to his knees, clutching his head. Kasimir activated his vox-link

"Brother Rakov, are you hit?"

The Marine tore his helmet off, his head snapping back to reveal his eyes staring wildly as his lips peeled back from his teeth in a pained grimace. Snatching up his chainsword, he buried it in the neck of the man next to him, the whirring teeth rising to whine as they encountered ceramite-reinforced bone. Kasimir watched, helpless, as Rakov butchered the next man, all the while chanting in a pained, unnatural voice

"Krath tuns'ceck khor czro. Ykrzra maa gree ti grahz co'traa zelo'szas khor ontra'jzi."

As Rakov leapt at the next War Bearer, the beam of a Lascannon from the Land Raiders below cut him in half, his severed body falling to the ground, the stench of cauterised flesh rising as the dying lips whispered

"Khor ontra'jzi."

+++

The loyalist was sheltered behind the rock, increasing his chance of surviving the firefight to 78.37 percent. However, the fact that he repeatedly looked round the side of the rock had to be factored in, reducing the probability to 63.85 percent. Oudo had calculated that the loyalist looked out every 12.63 seconds. That fact reduced the loyalist's chances of survival dramatically. Aiming precisely at the point the loyalist's head would appear, Oudo calculated the velocity of the bolt leaving his weapon, the distance to the target and finally the time it would take for the projectile to cover the distance. At the precise moment his calculations indicated, he squeezed the trigger once, and a split second later, the loyalist peered round the rock. The bolt struck precisely on target, the force of the impact snapping the Marine's head back, the explosion of the bolt obscuring any further detail...

+++

Kasimir groaned - the shot should have taken his head off, but somehow his helmet had absorbed the force of the bolt. The autosense arrays had been destroyed by the blast; the helmet was next to useless now - if he wore it, he wouldn't be able to see or hear... Pulling it off, he shook his head. A momentary lull in the firing from the traitor lines gave him the opportunity to turn the tide. Kasimir leapt over the rock, spraying the enemy with his Storm Bolter. Fighting the bucking recoil of the weapon, he aimed at the three-armed Iron Warrior and was rewarded by seeing a bolt strike the Traitor in the chest. A moment later it exploded, spraying dark fluids up the side of the corrupted Land Raider. Kasimir rolled into cover again as return fire rained around him.

+++

The Warsmith levered himself up, using his servo-arm for support. The odds of a loyalist surviving a direct headshot were... Oudo aborted the calculation. The time for idle computation was past. Flicking the selector switch on his weapon to activate the plasma blaster he aimed at the War Bearer Captain and fired. The plasma roared with the power of an unleashed star, engulfing the Loyalist and the pitiful rock he sheltered behind.

Against all probability, the Iron Warrior saw the War Bearer stagger out of the miniature sun, his Power Armour melting, the skin of his face crisping and burning off. Incredibly, even as the Loyalist dropped to his knees, he was still raising his Storm Bolter, the barrels melting and deformed. Oudo raised his servo arm like a shield, the salvo of bolts ripping through the mechanism and disabling the arm. The Warsmith raised his weapon, flicking the selector switch back to the boltgun, and fired at the stationary figure, the bolts penetrating the Marine's burning skull and exploding moments later, filling the air with a pink mist...

+++

Oudo watched as his Iron Warriors mopped up the remaining loyalists, muzzle flashes reflecting off the blood spattered rocks. As he turned to enter the Land Raider, the Warsmith heard the voice of one of his personal guard over the vox-net

"Krath tuns'ceck czro khor ontra'jzi..."



Victory to Warsmith Oudo of the Iron Warriors

#23
Chaptermaster Graymantle

Chaptermaster Graymantle

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The Fall of Ferrum
(Author: Chaptermaster Greymantle)

The Gaias space station had fallen silent after the last battle.
Sergeant Ferrum had stood over the last remaining enemy and promptly planted a heel between the man's eyes. He hadn�t even noticed as the fragile skull caved in under his heavy boot.

That was close to an hour ago and now he and squad Nexum where stuck here baby-sitting Forb while the squat little human worked feverishly to purge the Gaias computer-system of defences and virii so he could gain control and bring the might of the Gaias defensive network to bear against the forces of the enemy.
Ferrum had seen to it that the little man�s wounds had been cleaned and bound by his squads medic. Forb had protested of course, but Ferrum had insisted and eventually the squat had grumblingly agreed.

Ferrum looked at him now as he worked the consoles of Gaias.
Typically of a Squat he was grumbling and thinking out loud as he worked, but not so typically of a Squat, he was reciting many of the Mechanicus litanies while doing so.

Ferrum had mixed feelings about the little man, he was a Squat and that may have lead many a Marine to unjust anger, but it didn�t bother Ferrum who came from a Chapter that had a good business-like relationship with the Squats before they where wiped out as a major player on the Galactic Arena. � It was still a mystery to Ferrum how the Tyranids had penetrated that far into the Imperium without being detected... No, he suspected deeper treachery had been behind the near extinction of the Squats; probably the ones that had the most to fear from the short race�s straight forward view of machines. � The Adeptus Mechanicus.

That is what gave Ferrum mixed feelings about the Squat. His Chapter of origin didn�t have much love for the tech-priests who treated machines like... like divine entities. � Ferrum knew it was rubbish of course. � A time waster.
His Chapter never used such superstitious rites around Machines and they had no problems. They took good care of them, used them properly, but there was nothing divine there. � The only thing close to divinity was Humanity itself and the Emperor at its head.

That world view had made his Chapter fit in well with the Squats, but it was also why the Adeptus Mechanicus had tried to have his Chapter destroyed as Heretics in the past. � If it hadn't been for the intervention of the Inquisition...

Ferrum�s thoughts where abruptly interrupted by a blaring alarm and the whole room was suddenly bathed in red light.
Ferrum strode towards Forb so he could have a closer look at the screens before leaning in over the Squat. �What is going on?�.
Forb didn�t even turn or stop his hectic work on the consoles.
�It appears that a major Fleet Battle has commenced.� he said, his voice thick and accented.

�The enemy has moved in on our support group and launched a surprise attack upon them�.
The Squat�s fingers danced across the consoles of the control station.
�Also, it appears we are about to have guests...� This time Forb did turn around, concern written on his face.

�How, where and how much time?� was Ferrum�s instant reply.
Forb leaned back to his consoles again.
�Two Shark Assault Boats; launched at us from a passing enemy ship less than three minutes ago�, Forbs fingers kept dancing across the consol again and a hololithic emitter came to life, showing the two enemy crafts� position in relation to the Gaias.
�I would estimate around a hundred enemies inbound and if me calculations are correct they will hit us in less than ten minutes�.

�Where?� Ferrum was insistent.
Forb looked up at the bold Marine again, then grumbled something and leaned over to the hololithic projection where he stuck his hand out as if to touch the monochromatic 3d image.
�Here�, he said. �Less than fifty meters from this control station�.
Forb looked up at Ferrum again with worry clearly showing in his face.
�We wont be able to stop them and that many enemies is to much for even your team to hold of long enough for meself to gain proper control over Gaias�.

Ferrum was getting slightly irritated. �Well then shoot them down!�
Now Forb was getting irritated to. �I cant!� he said raising his voice and getting slightly flustered. � �The enemy shot up most of me Servitors remember!?�.
Only two of the local defensive stations are operative. They are manually handled and they are on the wrong side of the Gaias! � It will take at least another two hours before the local defences are online and even longer to gain full control of the defensive network. � If only you and your squad had done your job properly my Servitors would still be whole now and...�.

Ferum interrupted the angry little man by snapping to attention while giving him a fierce scowl, his jaw clenched tight as he crushed the chairs neck-rest where he had rested his hand. Ferrum didn�t even notice his destructive spasm, and Forb was sure the Marine was about to strike him down as the large man swiftly put his helmet on and pulled his Chainsword out while the helmet atmo-seals hissed into locked position.

But the expected lethal blow never came. Instead Ferrum turned on his heel and headed for the door, every bit an effective tool of war.
�Silex, on me! The rest of you stay here and defend this station�. His voice was distorted by the vox caster in his mask, giving his voice a slightly machine-like quality.
Silex quickly ran up to his sergeant, but just as the two Marines where about to reach the door, Forb addressed them.

�You cant hope to halt the enemy. There is just one manual defensive turret in their path.
You will be blown to bits by their defences as you activate it. They will see your attack coming long before you can mount an effective assault.

Ferrum halted his forward momentum and turned in one swift move, standing completely still with his bolter at the ready; the blue lenses of his helmet staring coldly at Forb.

�No� he said, his voice machine-like. � �They wont see this coming!�.



+ + + + +




Four minutes later, Ferrum was running head first at a steel bulkhead.
Silex, his demolitions expert had meticulously rigged the outer wall with a directional charge, and now, as Ferrum was running full force straight towards the expected explosion, he was hoping his faith in the skills of his team was not misplaced.

Ferrum could hear the clanging of his heavily armoured boots on the metallic crating of the floor. His breathing was heavy and expectant as he ran with all his might towards the bulkhead in front of him; then the entire room shook and for a split second, the area straight ahead of Ferrum turned into a seething fireball rushing towards him like a Hell-born daemon.

As it was about to engulf the sprinting Marine in a hail of lethal shrapnel, the fireball retracted and collapsed in on itself, Ferrum following the disappearing flames closely as the outer bulkhead collapsed and sucked everything not tied down into the cold vacuum of space.

Ferrum managed to pump on with a few more powerful steps before throwing himself forward and forcibly being sucked out of the Space Station�s insides, rushing with immense speed towards the approaching Assault Boats.
Ferrum leveled his back pack thrusters and adjusted his course slightly, then stabilized his vector, boosted his thrusters to maximum and let them rip, flying with immense speed, straight as an arrow towards the closest Shark.

A little over a minute later, Ferrum was already close enough to the Sharks that he could glimpse the boarding craft pilots with his helmet�s magni-optics.
He had been forced to adjust his approach vector slightly a couple of times and had thus lost a little speed, but the two ships where approaching fast and in another minute he would be close enough to latch onto one.
He was pretty certain the pilots hadn�t seen his small black-armoured form against the dark backdrop of the universe, and the shrapnel from the explosion onboard the Gaias would have provided enough sensory noise to give him cover from their onboard instrumentation.

Before he had come to far out and lost contact with the short range vox-link, Ferrum had heard the frustration of Forb at the horrible damage done to the ancient Star Cathedral, but in truth the damage wasn�t all that bad and the small hallway that had been torn open was part of a compartmentalised section that had already been sealed off.
A couple of days would see the chamber sealed up again and another week�s worth of work would make it as good as new. � The Sharks would do far worse if they reached the station...

But now, Ferrum was about to reach the Sharks instead.
He was coming up on the closest one, but he was coming in to high. At this angle he would overshoot the ship by a mere few meters.
Ferrum checked the pressure of his thruster tanks. � Enough for a quick boost and some adjustment thrusts.
He slowly rotated his body so he was approaching the Shark in an up-side-down position, then he leveled his thrusters downwards and speed full thrust towards the closest ship�s cockpit window.

The Shark Assault Boat was looming huge in front of him now as he was speeding head first towards it. He could see the panicked faces of the pilots as they finally spotted him, seemingly appearing out of nowhere, bolter leading the way.
The ancient weapon silently spat forth death and three tiny explosions blossomed against the ship�s front, collapsing the windows and instantly bathing the cockpit in freezing vacuum � Seconds later, Ferrum came crashing through the front window, feet first to land inside the pilotless boat. His mag-boots instantly grabbed hold of the ship�s metallic floor and Ferrum swung around, ready for a battle, but the pilots where already dead and frozen in their chairs.

Quickly surveying his surroundings, Sergeant Ferrum assessed that the cockpit was much like that of a Thunderhawk�s. His suits onboard database was already showing him the more advanced of the vessels controls as he searched the control consoles buttons and levers.

Glancing up at a monitor he could see the rear of the ship�s compartment with around fifty traitor guard strapped in. The men looked worried but not overly alarmed. � That, could be remedied!

Quickly flipping over four switches, Ferrum turned the ship�s auto-pilot off, then entered new coordinates, eased down on the thrusters a bit to let the other ship catch up with them before abruptly throwing the ship into the flight path of the other Shark.

A red light immediately blinked to life on the pilot�s consol, trying in vain to warn the dead pilots of the imminent impact.
For good measure Ferrum stepped back and then put his foot cleanly through the control panel to kill of any Machine-Spirit controlled evasive manoeuvres.

On the passenger compartment monitor, Ferrum could see the ship�s cargo panicking now, it was clear to them that something was wrong, very wrong! � Then the monitor sputtered and died. � So would the passengers!

Ferrum practically ran to the back of the cockpit and quickly surveyed the sealed metal door before forcibly punching a hole through it and continuing to rip the thick steel door of it�s hinges; exposing the crew compartment to the terrible effects hard vacuum could have on an unprotected human body.

While his mag-boots secured his position, horribly mutilated and dying men came flying at him, carried on the currents of air that pushed everything in the passenger compartment towards the cockpit, as the ship's hull decompressed.
Then with a terrible explosion, the floor lurched, the world spun and the ship�s main hull broke in two as the side wall was ripped open by the other shark that had futily tried to evade the inevitable crash.

Wild currents of air where now ripping all over the place with enough force to throw Ferrum of balance. One of his mag-boots lost it�s grip, then the rush of air was gone, emptied into space in an instant, and the world became a crazy mess of intertwined metal and blurred motion as the hull of the two sharks ripped through eachother.

Something hit Ferrum in the back and he fell prone, crushed down by an immense weight as he was dragged along the floor at neck breaking speed.
A second later the pressure on his body disappeared and he was now in a prone position, looking out of the remaining hull on one of the Sharks� small, rear cargo compartments.

The piece of hull that had dragged him along floated lazily away into space.
� All was calm.

He quickly surveyed his situation. � The Power Suit was intact, his weapons where still with him and the compartment he was in was floating free, away from the remains of the Sharks and the majesty of the Gaias, that he could see in the distance. � Not enough thrust left in his suit to get him back safely.
With a thought Ferrum activated his emergency beacon and sent out a distress call on the Imperial emergency channel.

From here, Ferrum estimated that a part of a Shark�s midsection would hit the old Space Fort but Ferrum doubted that the already weakened structure of the Shark would do much damage and if there where any surviving invaders onboard he had no doubt that Forb and his own Legio team would have little trouble sending the invading traitors to whatever god they may please.
� Besides he was sure the rest of the Imperial Forces on Gaias must be well on their way to the right side of the Fort by now.

The compartment Ferrum was in was rotating ever so slowly as it spun-free through space and Sergeant Ferrum stood up to get a better look of the vast, star-specked battlefield that was space. It was then it hit him... The stars where dimming as the compartment rotated. � The universe was getting brighter.

Ferrum could feel his hearts rush faster and a good dose of adrenaline drop into his system as the cargo compartment rotated fully around and he realized just how much danger he was in.

Antioc!

The planet loomed before him like some giant, legendary monster; ready to swallow him whole, and he was falling straight into it�s maw; pulled in by it�s massive gravitational pull.

Ferrum opened all Imperial hailing channels and transmitted his lonely plea for salvation, but in his hearts he knew that none would come.



+ + + + +



It was hopeless of course!

Ferrum figured a freefall towards Antioc would bring him up to around 6000 kilometers per hour and at those speeds he would be subject to just over 5500 centigrades.

� He would make a spectacular meteor.

But Ferrum wouldn�t give up. He couldn�t! � He had to remind himself that he was an Astartes. � While he yet remained alive, there was hope!
Astartes he thought. Hah! More like �A-Star�. � �A falling star�.

Sergeant Ferrum stood holding on to the ruined hull of the Shark he had landed on. Leaning out over the hull�s side much like a sailor may lean over the side of his ship, he could just glimpse the Gaias star fort in the dark. He could also see lance strikes sear between ships in combat out there. � He was certain he had glimpsed at least two friendly ships being destroyed already.

He had been falling towards Antioc for around twenty minutes now and in that time he had been privy to a spectacular space battle every time his piece of hull had rotated around towards the universe. But his little floating island in space had almost stopped rotating now and Antioc was starting to get awfully bright.
� And big!

Earlier, Ferrum had sat down to try and listen-in to transmissions from the far away battle, but all he ever received was static; even though he was sure at least two of the ships where moving closer to his position. � So he had decided to try and put himself into a meditative state while waiting to be... �fired�..., but his mind had been insistent on constantly analysing his situation in an attempt to try and find some way out of it.
Finally he had given up on the meditating and decided to continue looking at the Space Battle instead. This had forced him to lean over the side of the wrecked hull.

It was then it had dawned on him.
The length of this part of hull was far to long to be one of the rear cargo compartments. � He had been wrong in his assessment! � This was not the rear at all; it was the far front!

The front of a Shark was like a huge syringe designed to cut its way through the outer skin of a ship in order to deliver it�s �poison� into the ship itself, but more importantly it was almost pure Titanium. If he could somehow slow his makeshift float down, he may just survive atmospheric entry. � That would still leave him with the problem of surviving the rest of the fall though.

Maybe he could make some sort of makeshift glider or parachute.
From what?? Ferrum looked around. The area he was on was part of the buffer area where the main part of the ship met up with the sharp Titanium prow of the front.

The cockpit would have been just above him if it hadn�t been torn away in the crash, and the entire rear section was gone. � Except the part he was standing on which extended with rather thin walls for something like four, maybe five meters into a congregation of twisted metal and wires. There was nothing here that could help him.

Ferrum looked up at the walls at the side of his little platform. They where thin enough that with some work he would be able to cut them with his chainsword... Maybe he could make some sort of glider out of those?

No. The idea was ludicrous. Even if he managed to cut and bend the pieces together they would never survive the heat of atmospheric entry, and even if they did he doubted he would have any chance at controlling a makeshift glider at the insane speeds he would be hitting the atmosphere at. � It was hopeless!

No! It was NEVER hopeless! � He was a Marine! � His training wouldn't allow him to just sit down and die. For an instant Ferrum contemplated screaming out to some Godly entity for help, but he didn't. � There where no Gods, only Humanity and the Emperor!

Ferrum remembered the face of his mentor back at the university of Angels when he was still a young boy trying to follow the teachings of his Chapter of origin; "the Guardian Angels". The voice of his mentor came back to him now. � Teneo had been his name, Chaplain Teneo.

The white haired old chaplain had thought Ferrum�s class about the physics behind the possibility of Thunderhawk and Drop Pod atmospheric entry.
In the process he gone into detail about optimal speed, angle of attack, radiation, shielding, heat pulse and much more.

It all came back to Ferrum now. � The Chaplain had even told them about the Legendary story of a Terminator that fell to a planet�s surface from orbit, and survived.

The Terminator had survived the heat of entry due to the thick ceramic plating of his exo-armour. Ferrum looked down at his own armour. It had the same type of ceramic carbide plating. � Not as thick, but it was the same.

He wondered how the Terminator had survived the kinetic shock of hitting the ground. � He must have hit with force enough to count as a small Lance Strike.
Teneo had never gone into detail on that part of the story. � Maybe it was just a story. � Yes, a motivational story; that is all it had been.
Ferrum fleetingly wondered if the old Chaplain was still alive.

Then he snapped back to reality. Alive! That was what he had to remain, and standing about daydreaming wasn�t going to help.
Ferrum swung about looking at Antioc again. It was steadily approaching, and faster now.

Judging by the size of the planet, Ferrum estimated he was already far into the planet�s Themosphere, maybe a hundred or so kilometers out, probably a little more than that.

He figured he had another hour or so before he hit the planet�s upper Mososphere where he would start hitting the first air particles and radiation would increase drastically.

Ferrum was glad he had undergone chemotherapy to activate his Mucronoid glands before the mission on the Gaias. The Mucronoid secrete would help protect him from vacuum, heat and radiation and thus it was standard to activate the Mucronoids before space battles. � The secrete left an awful stink if you stayed in your suit for a few days, but it rarely came to that.

Hopefully the thick gooey substance would help him get through Antioc�s atmosphere without being subject to a lethal dose of radiation, but there was still that issue of heat.

He would have to get to work if he was going to make this piece of trash into a protective, drop-pod like contraption. � He felt like an Ork.


+ + + + +



Around forty minutes later Ferrum had achieved much.
He had ripped away most of the debris and wreckage in the rear of the compartment he was standing on, and as expected he had found a door leading into the syringe-like prow�s boarding corridor.

The door was damaged and had been sealed shut by metallic debris, but Ferrum had employed his immense, power-armour-enhanced strength to pry it open.
Inside he had found that the corridor was intact and divided in two. One chamber for the inner ship and one meant to function as a atmospheric decompression chamber.
He had also found four oxygen tanks rigged up for the plasma cutters at the front of the prow, and a fire extinguisher quite close to them as well.

Back outside, his trusty old chainsword; Acer Mucronis had chewed it�s way through the thinner parts of the wreckage�s hull and Ferrum had used all his force bending the large plates that remained, into six petal like plates that extended out in a circle around the large hull. The plates would serve as wings or more correctly as air brakes, slowing his descent through the atmosphere.

Slowing down the craft in the higher atmospheric layers was the very key to a successful atmospheric entry so he would use the petal like wings to increase air drag and allow for more atmospheric gas-particles to hit the craft at higher altitudes. Sort of like a petal winged shuttlecock.

Using cable he had also rigged three of the oxygen bottles to the front of his megalomaniac craft and was just about done using the last oxygen bottle as a thruster to swing the makeshift pod around enough that the thing was now falling with it�s Titan prow first and its makeshift airbrakes at the rear; when he spotted something small up ahead, some way of to the right and moving rapidly into his flight path.

Standing up on top of the increasingly unstable craft, Ferrum adjusted his auto-senses, increasing the magnification to see that it was a satellite.
The little thing was going to crash with him! � Could it be a part of the planet�s defensive system? � Ferrum doubted it considering its size.

Moving quickly, he opened the valves on the forward pointing oxygen tanks, hoping the little thrust they gave would be enough to slow his speed down a bit.
Then using the rest of the thrust in the last of the four oxygen bottles, he re-angled the hulk he was on, so it would hit Antioc�s atmosphere at close to a forty-five degree angle. � He hoped it would be enough to slow the craft down on it�s way through the atmosphere, but it would get hot; unforgivably hot.

Ferrum checked his approach vector again and saw that the satellite would probably miss him. � He had done it! One small victory for a lonely Marine fighting an entire planet.

He was the best, he was the greatest, he was... an idiot!
Satellites like that where extremely valuable to the Adeptus Mechanicus. It was sure to have a three level re-entry system. It would have a stabiliser and a parachute. � He had to get that satellite!

Trying to quickly calculate the Satellites trajectory he figured he could make it if he jumped, but that would mean leaving his protective shuttle behind.
Running to the front he grabbed one of the lose rigging cable of his thruster rig and tore it lose, then being practically out of time he took a running start and in a leap of faith, he jumped, reaching for the passing satellite.

He jumped... � And he missed!
The satellite flew past his body, and he just managed to touch it with his index and middle finger; then it was past his reach, and solidly connected to his boot.
Ferrum couldn�t believe it. Somehow not even thinking about it, he had managed to activate and move one of his mag-boots into the path of the satellite. It was stuck for now. � Someone planetside was sure to be pissed.

Looking back down towards his craft, Ferrum could see the air-breaks had started vibrating and the temperature readout of his suits external sensors was increasing.
Hand by hand he started climbing back the steel wire he had held on to when jumping, and eventually he was rewarded by setting a solid foot back onboard.

He was starting to have a hard time standing up now and if it hadn�t been for his mag-boots he would surly have been thrown clear. � Ferrum silently thanked the Emperor for his foresight when creating the Astartes and their gear.

The craft shook wildly and it�s makeshift wings practically sang with vibration now, even though few air-molecules where hitting home yet.
Crawling to the back of the craft, Ferrum reached the rear and still clutching the little satellite, he climbed down onto the platform he had originally landed on.
Things where a bit calmer here and Ferrum could see the external temperature readout drop a bit. � Wouldn�t be long now though.

Ferrum took one last look into space and saw a ship in the distance. He thought he recognized the prow. � Could it be the White laurel?
He didn�t have any more time to think about it. The temperature was rising drastically and his vision was cut off by an increasing orange glow. � He had hit the Mososphere in full and was forced to retreat to the inside of the Titan prow.

Ferrum forcibly closed the outer blast door and reinforced it with ready steel bars and other debris. � He steadied himself against the craft�s inner wall and gently patted it.

I dub thee �the Falling Star� he thought to himself and smiled. � His very own ship.

Then his world shook, the temperature outside went catastrophically of the charts, three explosions rocked the ship in succession and everything went black.

Ferrum could see his life rushing before his eyes, then nothing.



+ + + + +



Was he dead? � No, he was sealed in and falling.
The oxygen tanks at the front of the ship must have exploded, throwing the Falling Star into a deeper angle and throwing Ferrum into the nearest wall.
He was being shook all over the place and the headlight in his helmet had been crushed as he smashed his head against a Titanium wall.
Ferrum shook his head. He was still holding the satellite in one hand; with the other he had somehow grabbed on to a piece of shrapnel and thus managed to secure his position.

Ferrum couldn�t see anything except his helmet readouts, which showed he had banged his head pretty bad; that he was out of thrust, out of light and out of luck.
The temperature readout was increasing drastically.

Ferrum was just about to turn on his IR emitter and switch to night-vision when somebody turned the lights on.
It was a dull orange glow that allowed him to see, and Ferrum suddenly realised it was coming from the hull itself. � The walls where glowing-hot and melting!
That meant the temperature of the craft itself was over 1700 centigrade, probably much higher.

If his estimations where correct he would be in the worst of the heatpulse now with temperatures reaching well over 5000 Celsius outside.
He checked his suit's external sensors again.

He couldn�t feel it inside his suit yet of course, but the temperature inside his baking-oven of a ship was reaching close to 1000 degrees.
His bionic arm would start melting at around 1500, while the reinforced carbon ceramic plating of his power armour wouldn�t melt until they reached close to 3300 degrees. � They where already glowing and the temperature readout of his boots, touching the floor, where showing 1500 degrees at the soles.

� The Armour could survive heat like this, but could he?
The coolant system of his power armour was allready working overtime and he was now sweating heavily. The Mucronoid secrete covering his body helped cool him, but Ferrum wasn�t even aware of that. � Stepping quickly from foot to foot he couldn�t believe this heat pulse wasn�t over yet.

Then he heard; no, felt an explosion going of, and he keeled over.
His power armour�s display flashed several red icons indicating something had hit him at the hip and caused considerable damage to the ceramite armour there.
His bolts! How could he have been so stupid?! � He should have thought of this and gotten rid of them in space.

He pressed the quick release button of his belt and saw the magazine holders fall to the floor. Quickly grabbing the mag in his bolter out and throwing it away from him he saw that the ceramic plates of his armour had started smoking, then his chest started hurting like all hell.

His bionic arm was glowing, and it was transferring the heat through his chest-bionics into his soft organic parts, otherwise protected within the power armour.
He was frying on the inside. � It hurt! Oh by the Emperor it hurt!
He felt as if though he was on fire and indeed he was, burning from the inside out.
Clenching his teeth he tried to take a step away from the bolts on the floor, but it was to late.

Several of the bolts detonated against the floor, further damaging his armour and kicking the legs out from under him. � The helmet display indicated his armour was breeched.

Ferrum fell to the floor. � A fall within a fall.
Everything was moving in slow motion and he felt as if though his legs had been broken at the ankles. His head hurt and his body burned.
He felt as if though he was being dipped into a pool of boiling lava and every agony was stretched out into eternity. � Purgatory! � Could the Chaos �Gods� save him now?

Then he hit the deck just behind where he had been standing, and fell straight through.

As through a haze, Ferrum could see the Falling Star like a glowing pool of magma.

The hulk of an emergency raft had shrunk considerably and now he was falling away from it as it was breaking apart. � He had fallen straight through the molten metal floor.

Not only that, but he was no longer super-heated.

The glow of his bionic arm was gone. His armour no longer smoked and the painkillers and adrenaline injected into his system where quickly taking effect.
Combat drugs they called it, and Ferrum was grateful that Power Armour was equipped with them.

For a moment he lay there with his eyes closed, feeling blissfully like he was on a soft bed.

But this was no soft bed he was on and as the drugs started clearing his mind he was once more reminded of the predicament he found himself in.

Judging by the air density readouts from his armour he estimated that he was already close to the bottom of the Mososphere. He would be hitting thicker air currents soon and he had better be ready for that. � How would he slow his fall?

Then he remembered the satellite. Somehow he was still holding on to it.
Bringing it in above his body to shield it slightly from the rush of thin air, he soon realised how he had managed to hold on to it. � It was melted to the front of his armour�s hand guard.

Cracking the thing�s thin rear shell open he expected to see a stabiliser, but found no such contraption.
Ferrum blinked in disbelief, then in near desperation he tore the top cover of and rummaged through the poor little machine�s insides. � No parachute.

That was it then, he was a goner!



+ + + + +



He was just about to try and turn around on the air currents to get a look at the ground and estimate his remaining time when the vox link in his helmet screeched to life with static and a cut off s.o.s. call. Then he glimpsed a lightning like glimmer in the darker skies above, as if a star had just gone nova.

It lasted for but a second, then something hit him in the back. � Hard!
It was so hard in fact that Ferrum collapsed like a rag doll; or at least that was what it felt like. � He had the wind knocked out of him and then he went into a wild spin.
The sensors in his suit showed he was being subject to over 3G and that he was spinning wildly out of control at close to 120 revolutions per minute.

Ferrum was fighting the terrible pressure, and desperately trying to halt his crazy spin.

A normal human would have had his limbs and neck broken long ago and if not then he would surly have lost consciousness by now, but although he felt like he was being chocked and crushed, he was hardly getting dizzy at all thanks to his Lyman�s ear.

He could hear air rushing through his power armour now; the rush of icy cold air finding its way through the many cracks and holes of his armoured legs.
Ferrum reached out with his arms, and with considerable effort he was finally able to stabilize his fall again.

He carefully positioned his body across the airflow to lengthen his impact time against the atmosphere. � The temperature on the outside of his Armour started rising again, but it was nothing compared to what he had seen upon atmospheric entry.

Forty-two seconds later he was in full control again. The pressure on his body had decreased to just over one G, and his speed had lessened as well. � He was still falling far to fast to survive an encounter with the ground though. � That was one meeting he was not looking forward to. � Maybe it would have been better if he had fainted.

It was quite clear that what he had hit earlier was the upper layers of the Stratosphere and he figured he was at just over forty kilometers up now.
That would give him another forty minutes to ponder about his doom. � Ferrum suddenly wished he was religious.

A few minutes later he was studying the landscape below, wondering if he should attempt to hit a specific spot.
He had gained pretty good control over his manoeuvrability by flowing on the air currents, extracting or retracting his limbs and changing his angle of decent.

To his surprise he had actually begun to enjoy the view when he suddenly realised that he could at the very least go out like a Marine and try to hit some enemy held fortification.
At just over a thousand meters per minute, a direct hit from someone of his weight would have to be destructive. � Ferrum smiled at the thought.
They shall know no fear, indeed!

Then his vox crackled to life again. It was mostly just static and he realised he could hardly hear anything due to the overwhelming sound of rushing air, but he thought he detected a strange voice over the net, then it was gone again.

Ferrum shut down the external hearing receptors of his auto-senses, but could still hear some air rushing through his suit. � He was again reminded that his power armour had been breached at the legs and actually pondered getting the ceramic sealant-paste out of his toolkit to repair some of the damage, when a voice came again.

�Mayday! Mayday!
This is the I.N.S. White Laurel. We have taken heavy fire and sabotage from enemy forces. We are going down! I say again we are going down! Our coordi...� The transmission died out again.

Some way of below him, Ferrum suddenly noticed three small dots moving at great speed towards his position. Whatever they where, they where moving above the cloud layer down there and they where moving fast!
Ferrum increased the auto-sense optics to their maximum and was rewarded with the sight of three defiled Lightning Strike Fighters moving towards his position at great speed. � Could they have detected him?

Not very likely, he thought, but not entirely unconceivable either.
Ferrum watched the three planes approach for a little longer.
No, it was more probable that they had been deviated from some other mission to shoot down any rescue pods launched from the White Laurel.
Well, two could play at that game.

Ferrum had once heard a veteran guardsman compare a Space Marine to a tank. � He had never thought he would compare himself to a fighter plane, but now he did.

He levelled his body down and to the side so he would intercept the planes, then he pulled his bolter out and got ready. � He would only get one chance at this and if he was really lucky he would be able to actually land on one of those things, take it over and land safely.

Ferrum smiled. � Here goes nothing he thought.



+ + + + +



He was approaching the planes fast from the rear now.
The plan was to manoeuvre in to land on the first, then shoot one down, take over the one he was on and shoot down the third. � It wasn�t going to be easy.
"No, actually"; he thought, "it was going to be impossible".

He was coming in far to fast and at to sharp an angle. � He was going to hit!
The plane furthest to the rear was becoming bigger at unbelievable speed.
Ferrum could see the pilot spot him through the cockpit and he could clearly tell that the man was surprised despite the fact that he was wearing an oxygen mask.
The man reached out towards the cockpit with a hand, almost as if he was saluting the onrushing Space Marine, or bracing himself for impact maybe.
Then Ferrum rolled himself into a tight knit ball and hit home.

The resulting crash was tremendous and he went straight through the plane just behind the cockpit.
The thin metal sheets of the craft buckled under the sudden impact and the plane literarily folded in on itself, like a book.
Ferrum came out on the other side, not very surprised that he had come through the thin metal plates of the plane in one piece, but his wrist hurt like hell, so did his shins, and part of him was on fire again.

He tried to ignore the pain and block it out as he concentrated on going out into a stretched out air breaking position again.
Levelling his bolter at one of the other, disappearing planes he pulled the trigger and found to his dismay that nothing happened.

In all the excitement he had forgotten that he had rid himself of his bolts while still onboard his makeshift atmospheric entry vehicle. � Ferrum growled in anger and pain.

The fire that had started on his armour was out again and he threw the bolter around to his back, rather surprised that the chain attached to it hadn�t broken or melted yet.

Ferrum reached down towards his utility belt to try and get his ceramic paste out.
He wanted to plug those holes down at his ankles. � The fire a moment ago, had found it�s way through them and burned his legs again. � His Power Armour was pumping even more stims into his system.

Ferrum stopped what he was doing when he spotted more dots coming at him again.
Two of them where the fighter planes coming back; the rest where way up high above him.
One of the fighter planes coming at him fired chaffs and flairs. � They must believe he was some sort of missile or drone.

With some difficulty Ferrum started manoeuvring towards them.
The planes circling and following him; trying to figure out what he was no doubt.
One of the planes came about and shot towards him up close to try and get a look. � Big Mistake!

Ferrum may not have any ammunition to shoot with, but he still had his bayonet and a throwing arm that would shame even an Ogryn. � He could throw ten times longer and harder than any normal human.

Pulling out his bayonet he waited until the plane came flying by, dangerously close.
Ferrum let go with all his strength, throwing so hard he was sent into another wild spin for a second.
The Bayonet flew true, spinning over and over in the air until it hit the metallic side of the plane and lodged there. � It had hit, but not with enough force to count.

The pilot looked over towards the thing that had hit him and was surprised to see a bayonet lodged to his plane and shaking out of control in the air currents of his speeding craft.
The large knife was lodged just to the right side of his aircraft�s nose, but not deep, and in a minute the vibrations would shake it lose he thought.

The pilot was right and less than thirty seconds after it hit, the bayonet fell lose and was consequently dragged into one of the plane�s powerful jet turbines.
The wing of the plane exploded in a hail of fire and then it started its long descent towards the ground below.

In the meanwhile, Ferrum had been concentrating on the last plane and had used the pistol still strapped to his hip as another dangerous projectile.
Just as the third plane had come in for an attack run, Ferrum had thrown the pistol with all his might at the plane and winged it at the side of the cockpit, crushing the windows of that side and possibly destroying vital instrumentation.

The plane had managed to fire a volley back at him though and had even hit him with a large calibre projectile, practically destroying his right shoulder guard and dislocating his shoulder in the process. � Ferrum gritted his teeth, but was already so full of combat drugs that he just felt a slight sting as he forced his shoulder back into place.

Then the plane threw itself into a dive and was even now heading down and away from the battle hardened veteran. � The pilot had probably lost visuals and would have to land as soon as possible if he wanted to live.
Ferrum also wanted to live and here again was another desperate solution to his predicament.

The other objects that had appeared above him earlier where transmitting an Imperial emergency code. They where rescue-pods fired from the White Laurel, and having Sped towards his position, they where now, almost matching velocities with Ferrum.

One of them shot past him approximately thirty meters away.
Ferrum knew the function of these automated pods all to well, and he knew it would be firing it�s retro thrusters any moment now.

He figured he had fallen from around 34 000 to 18 000 meters during his battle with the planes, a theory that was largely supported by his armour�s air-pressure instruments. � The pod would start its break-down at 15 000 meters.
Ferrum guided himself in above the pod, and then levelled himself down to gain speed and catch up to it.

He leaned in. Just a little closer. � Just a little closer. � There!
He caught hold of one of the pod�s stabilizer wings and pulled himself flush to it�s side, then he activated his mag-boots and squeezed with both arms until the pod�s metal started giving in. � He hung on for dear life!

The pod shook violently as it tried to fight the sudden imbalance in its systems.
They passed 15 000 meters, then 14 000 meters and still the retros hadn�t fired.
13 000 meters, 12. Ferrum was getting worried that he had made a big mistake that would kill both him and whoever was onboard this blasted thing.

The 11 000 meter mark passed. 10 000, 9, 8; then as suddenly as lightning, the retros started firing and the pod started spinning.
Ferrum almost lost his grip, but his bionic arm was lodged deep into the metal of the pod�s thick stabiliser wing and his mag-boots where set on full strength.
He pulled himself flush to the hull again as the descent-speed slowly but surely dissipated along with the pod�s altitude.
They where at 1000 meters now. 700, 500.
Ferrum could practically feel the ground beneath his feet but they where still moving to fast.

They where coming in over an industrial complex with tall factory buildings and pipes. � At this speed they would still crash. Ferrum thought he might possibly just survive such a crash, but he wasn�t so sure about whoever was in the pod.
Then at 60 meters the pod's emergency thruster engaged and the speed of the pod was reduced drastically in one harsh jolt.

Ferrum fell free.
He had been inattentive for just a moment and wasn�t able to hold on.
He fell! Thrown clear towards one of the many, tall factory buildings and hit the side of a factory pipe at a terrible speed.
Instinctively Ferrum reached out with his bionic arm to brace himself but he still hit the rusty old pipe hard enough to leave a considerable dent.
And then he was falling again, but somehow his mag-boots had landed a grip on the pipe, holding him close to it as he fell.

Ferrum threw his body around and punched his bionic arm into the pipe�s metal shell, trying to acquire a grip, but all he managed to do was to come screeching down the side of the pipe, sparks flying. � At least the pressure helped break his speed even more.
Until he was just over half way down the pipe that is, as suddenly the pipe turned from being made of metal into being made of concrete.

Ferrum�s mag-boots lost their grip completely and at twenty meters he fell away from the pipe, falling another six meters in freefall before hitting the wood and tin roof of a factory building.

He fell straight through the thin roof, then continued through the wooden planking floor below; hit a supporting beam on the way down, went through another wooden floor, and having fallen through a high hall, he landed heavily in a deep pool of spill-oil.

Ferrum sank like a rock for about five meters, then he hit rock bottom and lay completely exhausted.
He was burned, broken, crushed and feeling horrible.
He was certain his rib-plate had cracked and that his ankle was fractured; that his left side and both feet where burned; that his wrist felt funny, so did his neck; That his armour was cracked, opened, crushed and dented in a dusin places; and he was certain he was leaking oil.
Great! He thought dryly. � I knew I should have repaired those holes while falling.

Switching between visions he finally got back on his feet and found a vision mode he could glimpse his surroundings in. � He would need to get out of this oil and quickly.

Glancing around to make sure he hadn�t dropped his weapons, Ferrum limped over to a concrete sidewall and started climbing. Punching and kicking hand and foot holds into the wall to bring himself upwards and out of the thick, black muck.

Once his head surfaced he looked about to make sure no enemies where lurking nearby, then he dragged himself from the thick oil and let himself roll away from the pool before resting on his back again, looking at the thick oil pooling out of his armour.

He had survived a fall from orbit! � He was starting to understand now, why his fellow Legioneers liked to call him �a Chosen by Fate�.

Ferrum looked about and figured he was in some sort of construction or repair facility for huge industrial machines.
Rolling over on his stomach, he got to his feet again and limped over to a huge mechanical gate, to take a look outside.
There in the open yard lay a small number of crashed escape pods with what seemed to be an Inquisitor and his retinue, in cover.

Making sure there where no enemies around, Ferrum shook and scraped the worst of the oily mess off of his armoured shape as well as he could. � Still wasn�t much left to identify him as a marine of the Legio, but he would have to risk it.

�Inquisitor!� he yelled through his vox. His voice sounding metallic and hollow.
He could see the Inquisitor tense up and glance his way.
�My name is Ferrum, I am a Sergeant with the Legio. Don�t shoot�.
� Ferrum sounded weary; He felt utterly ruined. Then he stepped out from the building and he could see the Inquisitor getting ready to shoot him, but then the man seemed to relax, despite Ferrum�s horrid appearance.

�Oh, the Emperor sends his Angel to protect me in all this. Thank the Lord!�
The Inquisitor smiled wryly as if he had a secret joke he would not share.
�Tell me Sergeant Ferrum, can you hail your allies still?�
�I do not believe so�, Ferrum said but scanned for Imperial channels in the area anyway. He was pleasantly surprised to find one active, and not needing an Inquisitor to tell him what to do, he called in an evac for one Marine and an Imperial VIP.

Less than half an hour later they where both sitting in a Thunderhawk heading for orbit and the Imperial Navy Space Ship: �the Hand of Fate�.
The Inquisitor who had identified himself as an Inquisitor Lord by the name of Rogan was thanking their rescuers and attributing his own escape and rescue to Divine intervention by the Emperor himself, who had sent his Guardian Angel to protect him on the ground, so he could continue his good work.

"You know, they will call you a fallen after this. � You better hope you don't run into any Dark Angels". The Inquisitor smiled his secret little smile again.
Ferrum had no idea what Rogan was talking about. He just nodded his head wearily.

Little did he know that the joke truly was on him and that an enemy had just slipped passed the Imperial Crusade�s cracks.

Ferrum had been through an eventful day.
Today he had been an infantrist, a Space ship, a Fighter Plane, a Bomb and a oily Sub Marine. All that remained was for him to act like a tank. � Ferrum sighed.

He figured many would tell legendary tales about the Fall of Ferrum, but most would disbelieve it as mere fiction. � Ferrum cared not, for all he wanted right now was to get home to the Legio�s Battle Barge where he could get re-supplied, repaired and stitched up.

� He had a War to Win!