I've allready tried getting people to make artwork over at the PC&A, and I also suggested a community driven AoD e-zine to keep people interested.
Without much result I may add...
Well, hopefully this will turn some heads our way.
This write-up carries on the story from where we last left Commander Bannister and his Guardian Angels, and eventually leads into battle six.
For the Story before this, please follow the links to:
MY OTHER MATERIAL:
Hive Pump Primus
Commander Bannister, Armed & Dangerous!
A presentation of Commander Bannister and his 8th Company's journey to Nestir
The Guardian Angels' 8th returns, part I
The Guardian Angels' 8th returns, part II
Iniel Bannister. Commander of the Guardian Angels' 8th Company at the planet of Nestir.
The return of Eighth Company part III
The Angels of Nestir
Commander Iniel Bannister and Captain Alexander Holus had shook hands on the cold steel hangar deck of the Bloodied Scion, reconfirming the standing alliance between the Guardian Angels and the Legio B&C. The two Space Marine forces would fight side by side on Nestir, supporting eachother with equal ferocity.
That had been many days back though and while the war for Nestir was already well underway, the Guardian Angels’ Eighth had not yet seen battle. – Aside from a light raid carried out on a cultist-held listening station in geo-stationary orbit.
The listening station had somehow been missed in the Imperials’ initial attack on the planet’s orbital zone and after the raid it had become clear that the small station had been using some type of holofield cloaking projector more common to the devious Eldar and their dark cousins – Not something common to a Chaos cult. Not common at all...
The raid had been minor though, and Commander Bannister could well have carried it out by himself, even without weapons. – Or at least that was his opinion.
As it was, a full strike team had gone in and found the station manned by no more than twenty-two cultists, and at least five of them had taken their own lives rather facing the Angels sent to deliver the Emperor’s wrath onto them.
The raid hadn’t really been a battle, it hadn’t even been a warm-up. – It had been a mild nuisance at best and a real time-waster at worst. But even that had been almost two days ago and Bannister was getting restless.
He was standing in front of one of the Bloodied Scion’s huge observation windows now, looking down upon the white orb that was floating lazily off to their side, much as he had the day that Inquisitor Rugajovs Fleet had set of and translocated into the Immaterium, heading for Icar 05, the Guardian Angels’s Home System with the Fleet’s surviving refugees and those of 8th Company to wounded, or to important to the Company’s continued existence to fight.
Behind him, a mass of serfs, naval officers, Marine Lexicani and Codicers were buzzing about busily sorting out information about the ground campaign.
Iniel felt slightly worried about being in a room with so many psychers while so close to a Chaos infested planet and not being protected by the “Silentium Custodes” that were always around when such “talent” had to be used within his own Chapter.
It was no secret that the Guardian Angels frowned on the use of psychers that hadn’t been sanctioned by the Emperor himself; and to date, only Navigators and Astropaths were ever given that privilege; or at least to Iniel’s knowledge, that was true. – With one exception that is. The Guardian Angels’ historical records showed one woman, and one woman alone, that had been sanctioned as a psycher by the Emperor himself. That had been many, many thousands of years ago; over ten to date, and only slightly before the origins of what was later to become “the Guardian Angels Chapter” had been... activated. – She had gone on to become an Inquisitor, and here name had been Eup...
“There you are!” interrupted a loud, energetic voice behind him, staggering him away from his line of thought as roughly as a klaxon alarm.
Bannister turned to look over his own shoulder, taking his eyes of the planet below to look upon the powerful form of Captain Alexander who was swiftly approaching him, moving up the short flight of stairs leading up to the large command bridge’s cathedral-like main observation window.
Captain Holus stopped right in front of Bannisters glum form, looking absolutely brimming with positive energy, despite the losses the Imperium had suffered in the initial planet-fall.
The Imperium had managed to knock down the shields of Hive Primus down there and they had even pushed into the main city itself. The Imperium was now waging a city block war in the streets of the vast hive, but the price to get this far had been high and despite achieving most of their goals, the major battles so far had in all reality been losses.
The forces of the Arch-Enemy were holding firm, and in Iniel’s personal opinion, things were not looking good on the ground at the moment. – Not good at all!
He wondered how the Imperial Commander could stay so cheerful in light of their recent losses, but then again he had been wondering about how closely the name Holus resembled the name Horus earlier, and why Holus still retained the rank of Captain, despite leading a large multi-force army in a massive campaign, spanning throughout a planet-wide theatre of war.
But as soon as Captain Holus was there in front of him, all of these dark thoughts disappeared and Bannister realized that he had fallen into one of his moods again.
He found himself being dark minded more and more often since the Ragnarokk incident and being lost in the warp for so long. – He was glad to be in the presence of other Imperials again. – Especially the positive ones.
Of course Holus was projecting an aura of strength and self-assured positivity. Even if he despaired on the inside it would not do for the Imperial Commander to fall apart at a time like this. – It was imperative that he remain positive and open minded; or else moral would crumble and victory would slip from their hands.
Holus was looking at him with an askew look of curiosity and Bannister realized his own face was set in a deep-frowned mask, reflecting the dark mood he was in.
“Are you all right?” Holus asked, concern in his voice.
Bannister found himself waking groggily from his... “meditations”. He had not answered the Captain’s initial greeting. Instead he had only been standing there, lost in deep, dark thoughts.
“Yes.” He managed gruffly, shaking it off. – “Just starting to get cabin fever, that’s all”.
“Anxious to get your feet wet eh?” Holus smiled, slapping Bannister on the shoulderguard to get him fully awake.
Commander Bannister only nodded in reply while standing fully to attention again, getting his senses about him properly. “Very!”, he finally replied. “Staying up here when I know I’m needed down there is a... is a pain!” he said through clenched teeth while throwing a glance at the planet below.
“Well then...”, said Holus with a jokingly malicious smile. “I’ve got just the sort of painkiller you need.”
* * * * *
Commander Bannister and his men walked onto the drop-bay of the “Bloodied Scion” with gruff resolve. Thirty Marines and Twenty Scouts. – Few in number but equipped with the best gear, superior training and a Die Hard resolve. – They were Humanity’s elite and they would get the job done or die honourably while trying.
“No, they would get the job done!” Bannister thought. – Even if it killed them.
Their support vehicles were rolling past them with engine roars that made the iron deck of the ship shudder as they lined up to board the twin Thunderhawks that would carry the vehicles’ bulky forms to the planet’s surface.
Most of the Marines would be inserted via Drop Pod Deepstrike, but some would come after the initial strike force, landing with the Thunderhawk inserted vehicles. – Commander Bannister would lead the Strike Force himself, from the get-go. – Risking insertion via Drop Pod.
Second in Command; NCO, Chaplain Gaius would oversee the Thunderhawk Drop, so he and the Second Marine Squad would be inserted alongside the two Scout teams onboard the Thunderhawks.
That left Commander Bannister with his elite bodyguard, Venerated Arch-Angel Oriel, and Executive Officer Korbin Lennox, leading Third Squad in a high-risk combat insertion.
Captain Holus had briefed them on their mission earlier in the prep-room and now they were ready to launch.
The teams would be inserted via six Drop Pods under cover of two Deathwinds and another six Scatter-Shield Drop Pods that would break apart over the hive to create a shield of debris. Hopefully confusing radar systems, air-defenses and create a barrier, shielding the Marine-holding Drop Pods against incoming enemy fire.
The two Thunderhawks would follow as quickly as they could, but it was expected that the initial strike team would soften up the Landing Zone before their arrival.
The team would then proceed to their objective and carry out the mission. A mission that seemed doomed from the start, and one that only the Emperor’s finest could ever have any hope of completing.
As Bannister climbed up the steps of a Drop-Pod-holding platform and turned to look at his men, he had no illusions. The mission Holus was sending them on was in all probability one they would never return from, but it was essential to the overall strategy if the Imperials were to win this war.
He looked down at his warriors, seeing the faces of men that had literarily gone into the fires of Hell with him to fight for Humanity. They were ready, but expectant. They were waiting for the Commander’s traditional speech before they were flung onto the anvil of war.
The whole deck stilled in anticipation as many who had come to see them off fell quiet, and Iniel felt as if the atmospheric pressure of the room suddenly grew as all eyes fell upon him.
The faces of everyone he saw, were lit by blinking, blood red lights, as if foreshadowing the bloody events to come.
The whole room fell utterly silent and time seemed to stop.
Then Commander Bannister’s voice boomed loud and deep throughout the hangar bay.
“Men! My Warriors! My friends! My Brothers!
We go into this battle, ultimately, as dead men…
So you might ask yourselves: Why do it? Why Fight?
I’ll tell you: We Fight for Freedom! We Fight for Humanity!! And we Fight to be Legend!!!
Those of us who can, must stand up for Freedom and Humanity; for if we do not, then all that we know will come to an end. Our friends and families, our loved ones and known ones; ALL, will be, Slaves, and ALL will die as such!
If we die here today, then let us have such deaths, that all the Imperium will hear of them and be awed by them. Let us sell our lives so dearly that the Emperor himself will stir in his sleep and that our names will echo forever, in eternity!
So if you must, then give the enemy your lives, but give them HELL in so doing, and take from them… EVERYTHING!!!
At this, the gathered Angels answered with a mighty roar, slamming their weapons to their chests, solidly punctuating their readiness for War and their willingness to die for Humanity.
“Capitulus Patria Nostra! The Chapter, our Fatherland!” Commander Bannister bellowed.
“For the Emperor! For Freedom!! For Humanity!!!” his men answered.
The din of war mongering drowned out all other sounds in the hangar and all who looked upon were moved to tears at such power and devotion.
For all present it was as if though the fire that fueled the Great Crusade had blossomed into life again, and that the Gods of War once more walked among the Children of Humanity.
Bannister climbed onboard his Drop Pod and buckled in, his men following suit. Then the petal formed doors of the pod closed with a clang and all Bannister could see was the data feeds scrolling across his helmet’s display.
The Drop Pod shook as it started moving into its firing-tube and Bannister could feel the light swaying of the Bloodied Scion as the mighty ship adjusted it’s heading to ensure them a safe atmospheric insertion.
The cramped chambers of the Drop Pod filled with a heat and shock absorbent gel and Bannister could feel the gel locking him firmly in place.
Green lights flashed on his helmet display, indicating his squad was fully secured and ready; then they could feel the shudder and loud basso sound of the first Drop Pod being launched.
Another boom shook their pod, then another and another.
A voice crackled to life in Commander Bannisters ear. It was Holus.
“Ready Commander?” he asked in a matter-of-factly voice.
“Affirmative! – Blow me away!” came Bannisters answer.
“Best of Luck! And may the Emperor be with you!” Holus said in a compassionate tone; then another voice broke in. The machine-like voice of a Servitor. “Three, Two, One...”.
The Drop Pod kicked into motion so fiercely that Bannister almost lost consciousness. They were away, and then, two seconds later, the Pod’s thrusters ignited.
The Drop Pod shook violently, then the planet’s gravity caught hold of them, propelling the Drop Pod to even greater speeds, far exceeding safety margins. Bannister felt his vision swimming; and fought to stay awake, then he blacked out.
* * * * *
Commander Bannister awoke with a start.
The retro burners had already fired and the Drop Pod would impact on Nestir’s surface any moment now.
Bannister shook his head clear and felt Combat Drugs surge through his system.
His Power Armour’s Ai had sensed his unconscious state and subsequently it had injected Combat Drugs into his system to jump-start him. – Get him up and ready for the coming conflict.
The safety-gel of the Drop pod was already gone, most of it having evaporated on the way down, the rest would have been vented to ensure full mobility for the Drop Pod’s valuable cargo.
Bannister’s world shook and he felt a violent shudder course through his legs.
If it hadn’t been for his power armour, his spine may well have snapped due to the enormous transfer of energy as the Drop Pod hit the ground.
Instead, the Drop Pod’s petal doors opened with a concussive force as explosive charges blew them open, sending shards of molten metal in the way of potential enemies.
At the same moment, Bannister’s harness released him and in one powerful bounce, he was out of the Pod, Plasma Pistol ready and Chainsword buzzing.
He hurriedly went into a combat crouch to survey his position, and his men were quick to follow; forming up a three hundred and sixty-five degree perimeter around their Commander.
Bannister’s blue and gold Commander’s cape billowed slightly in the chill wind blowing throughout their position, as he surveyed the area in which they had landed.
They had disembarked onto the snow blown towers of the upper hive’s outer edge, and Bannister studied the data streaming across his helmet’s display, all the while assessing his immediate surroundings through the same. – His map was off. They were in the wrong place!
The towers all around were dark, except for a few that burned, lighting up the otherwise dark and snow covered scene.
To the right stood one of the Deathwind Drop Pods. It’s auto sentries constantly moving it’s guns on overwatch.
The other Deathwind had come down some seventy meters to their left, but he couldn’t see it, only its bleeping pulse marker on his tactical readout marked its position.
Another ally that was nowhere to be seen was Arch-Angel Oriel. – The ancient Dreandought wasn’t even present on Bannister’s locator map. – He was missing.
Other than that, the Landing Zone was covered in shards of metal. The obvious fallout from their Scatter-Shield Drop Pods. The rain of metal had even killed half a dusin traitor guard and the nearby Deathwind had destroyed a cultist-reinforced fortification. The bunker’s former inhabitants were already smoldering corpses in the burning and partially collapsed structure.
As far as Bannister could tell, the LZ was dead, but they were almost six hundred meters off course, and Third Squad had landed further to the east, even more off course. – They were moving in on the Commander’s position even now.
Bannister was just about to order his men into better cover when the Deathwind Drop Pod off to their right opened fire. Its mighty missile launchers firing triple salvoes of explosive death into a group of approaching cultists that had obviously been ordered to find out what all the commotion was about.
Bannister sprang into motion as the explosions started, and in practiced unison, his men took up their two column combat formation around him.
Behind them, the Ai controlled Storm Bolter turret of their Drop Pod swirled into motion, centering its barrels on the enemy and opening fire.
Bannister and his team moved quickly for the burning bunker of to their right while firing controlled bursts of fire at the scrambling enemy units.
Behind them their Drop Pod flew apart in a fireworks-show of flying metal as an enemy missile came streaking out across the open courtyard from a tower on the other side of a street wide chasm in the Hive’s structure.
Bannister threw himself into the partially collapsed bunker of the enemy, his men following in tight formation and they rushed into the burning structure.
A team of human soldiers would have been fried alive in there, but the warriors of the Astartes were quite safe inside their Power Armour as they fanned out to take up firing-positions facing the enemy.
Another missile streaked past them to detonate loudly against the wall of a nearby building and the pops of heavy bolter rounds snapped outside their position as an enemy fire team peppered the structure.
The Astartes may be safe from harm, but they couldn’t stay at this location for long Bannister knew.
They were in a vulnerable position. The enemy was sure to be reinforced and while their Power Armour protected them, the ammunition of their weapons could only withstand the heat for so long.
“8.1.9, silence that missile team! 8.1.8, take down the HB-nest! The rest of you, provide fire support and take down the closest enemy units.”
Bannister’s orders were loud and clear, and green marker lights quickly flashed on his HUD indicating that his team, that quickly shifted into necessary positions, would carry out his orders.
Bannister moved to a partially collapsed firing-slit in the bunker to peer out at the enemy.
To his side, 8.1.9 shifted slightly, then the Marine broke in with a calm voice; “Firing.”
A second later a missile shot forward from the bunker to collide heavily with the far off tower across the street-wide chasm of the Hive.
The apartment there exploded and Bannisters own Heavy Bolter team opened up on the nearby enemy nest while the others of the team fired controlled bursts of bolts at the nearby enemy.
Bannister could see a trio of men rush at their position and calmly levelled his Plasma Pistol at them through the firing slit.
The weapon’s magnetically sealed Plasma chamber shone with a strong blue glow as Bannister pressed the trigger of his weapon, holding it down for the extra split second it took to double-tap the pistol’s plasma reservoir.
Two super-heated balls of plasma streaked towards the sprinting enemy soldiers who unwittingly ran straight into the miniature suns of death. Two of the men collapsed, as large holes appeared in their bodies, where organs had used to be. The third of the men fell to the ground with a scream, his face melting from the super heated air, and one of Bannister’s men quickly silenced his screams with a mercy shot to the head.
Bannister activated his vox and opened a channel to team three.
“8.3.1 Come in! Over.” – Only static answered him, and outside yet another explosion shook the world.
Bannister’s men were mowing down hordes of enemy cultists, but more were moving in on their position every minute.
“8.3.1, this is 8.1.1. Do you read? Over.”
Bannister’s vox cracled in white noise and other static, then a voice came in over the vox. It was his XO, Korbin Lennox.
“8.1.1, this is 8.3.1, I read you loud and clear sir. What are your orders?” Lennox’s voice sounded strained.
Bannister was quick to answer. “We are taking heavy fire, but are currently holed up in a heavily damaged bunker” We need reinforcements. What is your position? Over.”
Another explosion rocked the bunker complex as Bannister finished his last sentence.
The Misslile Launcher Deathwind had finally exploded, shaking the very foundations of the street it stood on and creating miniature tremors throughout the entire city structure platform.
Concrete fell from the roof, bouncing harmlessly off Bannister’s T-slit helmet.
“We are inbound on your position sir. ETA. Two minutes. Over.”
Bannister acknowledged and launched another volley of singing plasma death at the enemy out there.
He could see the Deathwind had taken down quite a few enemies as it exploded. Somewhere an enemy Commander was sure to be pissed and probably berating someone for making as foolish a mistake as blowing up an automated explosives depot in the middle of their own allies.
Bannister smiled at the thought, then he fired another plasma ball into a group of enemies. – Five of them fell to the ground; two of them desperately clawing at icy snow that must seem like soothing balm to their burning wounds.
Bannister’s team had already felled close to a hundred enemies, but new missile teams in the towers across the uncrossable chasm some way off opened fire on the courtyard again, and the heat of the burning bunker was getting dangerously high for their ammunition, pressing the situation even more. – They would have to abandon this location or risk their own ammunition finishing the enemy’s job for them.
Another explosion sounded outside and this time an entire part of the city platform’s infra-structure broke away, collapsing a part of the street and leaving a gaping hole where their Drop Pod had stood.
Bannister prepared to leave the now dangerously exposed bunker when bolter fire suddenly sounded outside. Lennox’s team had arrived.
“8.1.1, this is 8.3.1, we are in position. Providing cover fire. Over.” – Bannister had never been so glad to hear a vox distorted voice.
“8.3.1, you’re doing great! Keep the enemy down while we extract through the bunkers south wall.
Once outside we will provide cover fire for you and together we will fall back by the numbers to the wall-line at the far southern edge. – Do you copy? Over.” Bannister started signalling for his men to reload and prepare to leave.
“Affirmative sir! On your mark! Over”. – Lennox sounded tense.
Bannister turned to the back wall of the bunker and half his men did the same, preparing to punch their way through the weakened wall.
“Mark!” Came Bannister’s order, and team three opened up on the enemy held towers, keeping the enemy pinned while first squad worked on their rapid extraction.
Once outside, Bannister was relieved to see suit and weapons sensors reporting a rapid drop in temperature on his team’s armour and ammunition.
He also noted that his fireproof Commanders Cape had partly melted at the edges, creating a rugged edge of stringy synthetic material that clung to his armour. He ripped it loose to let in bellow in the wind once more.
His team quickly moved into a front facing firing-line and opened up on the enemy towers while striding backwards in a very controlled fall-back.
Once in their designated position, team three took over as fire-team while team one sprinted to a holding position in which they could provide cover-fire for Third Squad. – Then they alternated like this again.
A missile came flying out of one of the towers and detonated close to Bannister’s team, throwing one of his Marines flying wildly back to land heavily in the snow covered street.
His Marines responded by increasing their firing rate and their Heavy Bolter moved out to better flank the offending tower. The Heavy Bolter spat fire at the tower as 8.1.8. opened up and emptied an entire belt into the support structure of the offending tower floor.
Then it was Team Three’s turn to provide cover fire again.
Bannister’s dedicated medical Marine quickly collected their fallen Brother and dragged him along as the team fell back. Bannister could see it was his comms specialist that had gone down. The Marine’s vitals were flashing red on Bannister’s HUD and it was clear the Marine needed medical assistance, and fast if he was to make it. – Two other Marines in his team were showing yellow markers to their vital statistics. They had been wounded and would need medical attention as well.
Lennox’s team showed three wounded. – Lennox among them.
First team reached the far line of house walls in the courtyard, and the team opened up another salvo of cover fire while team three sprinted towards their position.
Bannister affixed his two Melta bombs to one wall and set them to manual detonation.
Behind him one of Squad Three’s Marines was hit in the back by a missile streaking towards their position.
The Marine was thrown into the air by the explosion and a second later, a massive detonating sun appeared where the Marine had been. His Power-pack’s fusion core had been breached and a tiny nuclear explosion followed.
The Marine’s vital stats flatlined on Bannister’s display, then they disappeared entirely.
A magazine holster fell to the ground next to Lennox and the XO simply picked it up on his way to Bannister’s position. – The Brother Marine was gone, but by chance his ammo pouch had survived. – They could always need more ammunition...
Team three took up position in cover and once more provided cover-fire for team one, but the enemy were getting bolder or more desperate now as their target was moving away.
Bolt and Las rounds rained down around them and Bannister took three Las-gun shots to the chest.
Unaffected he set of to the side, running alongside his team’s firing-line and clapping each of their heads in rapid succession to signal them to follow as he ran by.
His team moved into cover and a split second later, Bannister depressed the Melta trigger in his hand, detonating the Melta Bombs he had affixed to the wall, now just a few meters beyond their cover.
The world shook and the Hive’s infra-structure seemed to be caught in a earthquake for a moment as the Bombs detonated, bringing an entire house wall down in the process.
Heat and flying debris came flying past the Marines’ protected positions and a cover of smoke and dust quickly filled the area.
Team one and three moved rapidly but carefully into the structure behind the destroyed wall, then they moved in deeper before crushing their way through yet another wall.
They would have to move to their designated objective on foot, and through enemy held territory it may prove to be a long journey. – Best to keep away from open spaces where they could easily be spotted and attacked.
The Marines would have to find a safer chamber where they could regroup, get their bearings, set up traps and tend to their wounded.
As they moved further into the hive complex, leaving the fresh battle field behind them, the sound of artillery fire came filtering through from far away.
The enemy’s real Big Guns had finally been alerted and set in motion. – Luckily for the Marines, it was already too late.
* * * * *
Bannister shook his head clear. For a moment there his vision had turned all pink.
He frowned at this but didn’t think much more off it. – Must have taken a blow to the head that he hadn’t noticed before.
Instead, he checked his chronometer again. Fifteen minutes since they pulled back from the wrong LZ; just over five since they stopped to rearm and regroup.
Since then. ammunition had been redistributed, armour had hastily been repaired. Traps and sentries had been placed. A quick status of their current situation and further planning had been made, and finally, the wounded had been tended to.
Commander Bannister watched on even now as two of his men helped XO Lennox with his backpack. The stubborn officer had taken several hits to the chest and a few of the enemy’s rounds had penetrated his armour, wounding him in a way that could have been mortal without immediate medical attention.
Bannister had insisted on a hasty field surgery and now the honoured Executive Officer’s wounds were full of a bio-polymer protein-gel designed to quickly patch up large wounds in Marines.
The procedure hurt, Bannister knew. It hurt enough that a regular man would have died from neural overload, but a Marine could withstand it, especially with the amount of Combat drugs currently coursing through Lennox’s system.
The old veteran’s power-pack connected to his suit again and Bannister impatiently checked the chronometer once more. – They would have to hurry if they wanted to make the Thunderhawk LZ before the huge transports arrived with reinforcements.
Bannister looked over at Lennox and the XO gave a curt nod indicating his readyness to move on.
The rest of the men looked eager to get moving as well, so Bannister issued the order and within moments they were on the move again. Transversing the ruined interior of buildings in well drilled formations that betrayed not only outstanding training, but also calculated efficiency.
After many long minutes of moving from one building to another simply by punching through walls where necessary, Bannister was quietly relieved when his men crashed through yet another wall to break onto an open street at one of Pump Hive Primus’s far edge upper spires.
The street and surrounding buildings were covered in a light fall of new snow; and ice crystal particles were falling slowly, almost lazily through the air, propelled by chilling winds that used to be held out by the Hive’s mighty energy shields.
The scene was peacefully serine, and thankfully empty of both enemies and Thunderhawks.
Bannister’s Strike Team had finally reached its designated Landing Zone. – All they had to do now was to secure the perimeter and wait.
* * * * *
Yet another minute had passed and Bannister was restless.
The Thunderhawks should have been here by now, but he was obligated to wait for the academic quarter. – Fifteen minutes over the appointed Rendezvous time, then they would be forced to move to their objective on foot and without reinforcements.
Another minute passed, then another. Bannister cursed silently to himself. – The Thunderhawks were already seven minutes overdue.
Then out of nowhere, Bannister’s vox crackled to life and his hopes raised.
It was the Thunderhawks! – It had to be!
On Bannister’s HUD, a vid-feed suddenly sprang to life in a window that he had hidden away to the side. The window showed a large cathedral-like room with many soldiers moving carefully through it, lasguns poised and ready.
It was the enemy they had fought earlier and he could hear their garbled vox communication, see their movements and position through the traps in the room Bannister and his men had set up.
Bannister calculated they were at least fifteen minutes away, even if they made good time.
The loud crackle of an explosion came through his vox, followed by many screams, panic and another explosion. – Twenty minutes, Bannister thought with a smile.
The camera feed in the Commander’s helmet disappeared in static before another trap-mounted camera activated and showed him the same scene again, but from another angle.
Six enemy soldiers were down and another two were clearly wounded, while an entire wall had collapsed, partly blocking their way.
Bannister smiled to himself. Nothing like setting a trap and seeing the enemy obliterate themselves on it. – “That should hold them for a while!” he thought contently.
But then another thing suddenly grabbed his attention. A read streak of something huge had rushed into the room were the enemy soldiers were.
A moment later and Bannister could see what it was. – A Bloodthirster!
The monstrous creature was moving quickly towards Bannister, and only partly remembering that what he saw was a vid-transfer, he had to fight down the urge to lift his pistol and fire at the sharp teethed monstrosity.
A moment later a loud boom was transferred to his vox, and the Bloodthirster’s ugly face was lost to static.
Bannister exploded into motion, issuing orders left and right.
If the enemy had a Greater Demon, then they would not be delayed and they would be decidedly hard to stop.
Bannister and his Marines needed a more defensible position and fast.
He ordered his men to bring down the building's back wall in an attempt to cut off the enemy’s path of approach, and thereby halt their pursuit.
Several of Bannister’s Marines immediately picked up huge chunks of concrete and rock, and like living catapults, they flung them into the building’s wall, starting to bring it down in a manner that would block the enemy’s approach corridor.
In the meantime, Bannister and his own team hastily moved across the snow covered street outside to approach the building on the other side of the street.
They would move into the building and set up a strong, defensible position in one of the higher floors, overlooking the building the enemy would be coming out of. – This would at least give them a fighting chance to take down that Bloodied Horror of the Warp.
Bannister set to work on the building’s outer wall, determined to punch through it and move on in.
* * * * *
After repetitive powerful thrusts of clenched fists, Bannister stepped back and threw his body full force at the weakened structure and a large chunk of wall came tumbling down like a deck of cards.
Momentarily distracted by the falling debris and dust, Bannister finally got up and stepped through the wall-breach he had created, then he stopped cold.
He had been meaning to punch through the wall in an effort to bring himself and his men into a more defensible building, but the sight he now faced, appalled him. – He had just walked into a room filled with mutilated, tortured humans. – A slaughter house!
Flesh was strung tightly away from human bodies by delicate needle-like instruments; others were sitting cramped up in obvious pain, locked away in cages to small, even for a dog.
Terror shone clearly in their eyes as their tormentors angrily wheeled to face the blinding light and chill air rushing through the still collapsing wall, and into the hot, dark and now exposed torture chamber.
He halted in the walls widening opening only long enough to take in the scene before him.
No human Imperials were supposed to be left on the planet, but these tortured souls clearly were of the Emperor’s flock. They must have been brought here by their tormentors he thought. – The slim, spiky, black-armoured tormentors that were just now reacting to the threat intruding upon their moment of fun.
At the sight, Commander Bannister felt his anger rise.
He was about as calm as a bomb, ready to go off.
The wild eyed human prisoners saw Bannister in his shining pearl-white armour, as the huge Marine stepped through the widening hole of collapsed wall. Backlit as if though he was an Angel stepping out of the Emperors holy light. – And to the prisoners that was exactly what he was.
A caged and wild eyed man, who judging by his torn cloths, had been a priest at some time, bellowed in mad exaltation at his tormentors. “I told you! I told you! Furious Angels will see you undone!” he made the sign of the Aquila, his face a mask of insane zealousness.
At that, Bannister barrelled into action, taking two hefty strides before backhanding a slender Dark Eldar with a blow powerful enough to crush the alien’s light frame and lift it into a flying arch that brought it crashing into the roof of the high-vaulted ceiling before it slumped back to the floor with a wet thud, utterly dead.
But before the alien ever hit the floor however, Bannister was already moving again, putting another alien in a powerful stranglehold that bloodied and crushed its slender neck, all the while firing his plasma pistol at another Eldar, who’s face disappeared in a millisecond to the satisfying, sizzling sound of plasma death.
But now the Dark Eldar had recovered from their initial surprise and their slender forms darted away from his next attack. – Strangely, the slender enemy seemed reluctant to attack him, and instead they flickered into the shadows of the large room’s upper balconies.
Bannister narrowed his eyes in suspicion. Why weren’t they attacking?
His team started moving through the hole behind him now and quickly took up a defensive formation around him.
Bannister switched his helmet’s auto senses to read heat signatures and immediately the slender forms of eight Dark Eldar appeared to him, hidden away in the room’s vast expanse.
Not wanting to risk a trap, Bannister signalled for his men to stay on overwatch, then he turned his vox caster to full volume and spoke in a calm, yet powerful voice.
Due to the vox enhancement, his voice carried like that of a demi-god. – An Angel of Death!
To the prisoners, his calm demeanour only served to strengthen the impression. The calm and powerful confidence of one of the God Emperor’s immortal sons, and they fell utterly silent as he spoke.
“Cowards! Show yourselves!”
He fired two plasma bolts at different enemy hiding places to indicate that he knew exactly where they were, but that he wanted them to come out and face their doom. – Only their cover saved them from suffering a quick death of boiling blood and charred flesh.
“Why should we show ourselves, stupid Mon-Keigh?, when all we need do is await for our shadow portal to open.” one of the Eldar hissed at him from the darkness.
Bannister turned his whole body towards where the voice had come from, and hurled his words at the enemy’s position like projectiles.
“You may call us Mon-Keigh foul Xenos Scum, but all we need call you is DEAD!”
Bannister opened up at what he figured to be the Xenos leader’s position and within a split second his men did the same, firing tempered charges into the walls and ceilings near hidden enemies, but making sure not to directly endanger any of the human captives.
Moments later the noise of exploding bolts and ricocheting splinters died down. – Five enemy xenos died with it.
The enemy leader hissed. Or at least Bannister thought it was the Xenos, but it may as well be the magma-hot stone of the pillar the foul creature was hiding behind. – Bannister’s plasma pistol had given it quite a beating and now molten rock was pouring down the powerful pillar like wax down the side of a candle.
“What’s wrong?” Bannister spat at the hiding leader. “to scared to speak?”
He could hear the enemy leader growl in frustration. It was clear his escape mechanism wasn’t working any more. Small wonder seeing as how Bannister had placed a Plasma ball into the partly hidden contraption.
In obvious anger the Dark Eldar leader addressed Bannister, his voice coarse and shrieking all at the same time.
“Bastard Mon-Keigh! I will take you down, I will incapacitate your flesh and torture your very soul!
I believe you will especially enjoy my races perfected techniques of Rectal Lobotomy!”
In his raving anger, the Dark Eldar had stepped out from his pillar hiding place and was now in the open, looking furiously down at Bannister.
The Space Marine Commander just cocked his head to one side in wonderment.
“Rectal Lobotomy? – You Xenos may have <DELETED BY THE INQUISITION> for brains, but we Humans certainly do not.”
Then he quickly lifted his pistol and pulled the trigger. The Dark Eldar’s head simply disappeared.
Seeing the death of their leader, and with no means of escape, the remaining Dark Eldar threw themselves from their hiding places in a desperate attempt to reach their enemies’ position, but the Marines dropped them before they ever got close.
Bannister switched to internal vox again and ordered his men to free the prisoners, guard them and herd them to a safer position.
– This place was about to become a true war zone!
* * * * *
Bannister and his men had just taken up positions in the upper floors of the building across from the one they had emerged from, when loud explosions could be heard in the other building, followed by a loud crash more explosions and several muffled screams of pain.
The ground shook and pungent smoke came welling out of the building’s cracked facade.
The traps that Bannister’s team had set in the building had been triggered, surely killing more than a few vile cultists and traitor guardsmen.
Then the front wall exploded in a rain of concrete and bloody, red muscle.
Bannisters strike team immediately opened fire, turning the outside street into a fireworks show of exploding projectiles.
The huge Bloodthirster that had just forced its way through a concrete wall stopped dead and stood shaking convulsively as round after round of explosive projectiles penetrated its tough skin and detonated inside its demonic frame.
Behind it, several traitors scurried out of cover to get away from the now burning building they had emerged from. With the Marines busy expending their ammunition on the Warp monstrosity, they were free to get into a spread out position from which they could mount an effective return fire. – And they did.
The Guardian Angels had really stirred up the Hornets’ nest this time!
Commander Bannister fired another two plasma bolts into the demon below. Then he was out of ammo, and flashing warning signs on his helmet’s HUD indicated that his men were almost empty as well.
Bellow them, the Bloodthirster that had stubbornly kept moving against the incoming fire screamed in rage and pain, bellowing its frustrations to the sky. Then it took a missile to its screaming face which by a fluke of fate came crashing into its mouth, breaking sharp teeth as it smashed its way forward.
The demon looked astonished and dumbfounded for a split-second before the cylindrical charge exploded with a muffled thump; leaving the demon with fire and smoke spewing from its gaping hole of a maw.
The return fire of the enemy faltered for a moment as the Great Demon’s head lolled backwards and its great body fell forward as if in slow motion before hitting the ground, cushioned only by a thin layer of snow.
Bannister’s men cheered, as did the few freed Imperial s that had dared go near the windows of the Marines’ position.
Bannister felt exaltation well up in him. – The rest of the traitors would be easy pickings.
Only two of his men had been incapacitated by enemy fire, but his Marines were even now expending their last rounds at taking down a few of the enemy’s heavy hitters.
Soon it would be a Hobson’s choice. They would have to stay here and do nothing, or they would have to take the fight to the enemy. Get up and personal. – And so they did!
With a roar of “Capitulus Patria Nostra!”, Bannister took charge and jumped out one of the building’s many windows, holstering his pistol and drawing his elegant Chainsword “Cruoris Depascor” as he fell the four floors it would take him to reach street level.
Bannister landed heavily, but steadily as his Armour’s servos whirred to absorb energy and stabilize his bulky form.
Around him other Marines came landing in much the same way and Bannister could see the enemy panicking now that their daemonic champion was down.
Many of them were turning and running, but quite a few stood their ground as well; firing at Bannisters men in crazed zealousness.
Bannistered levelled his sword at the enemy’s position and whirred it to life, then with a mighty bellow of “For Humanity!” he ran forward and into the enemy ranks.
His men followed suit, echoing his mighty battlecry as they clashed with the enemy.
Commander Bannister and XO Lennox’s teams slaughtered the enemy with vicious cuts, stabs, kicks and hits; the two heroic leaders wrecking a bloody path through the enemy’s ranks.
Bannister came running up to one enemy, planting a hard blow into the man’s face before whirling to cut down another. A kick had one heavily muscled soldier flying across the street, while yet another learned to fly as Bannister gave him a ferocious uppercut, all the while letting “Cruoris Depascor” cut, stab and slash through the enemy almost as if the sword had a will of its own.
A few meters away, the old veteran and highly respected XO Lennox, was making his own presence felt. He had no close combat weapon, so instead he used what he could find.
Lifting a huge boulder; easily hefting and throwing it, he crushed four enemies with one stone.
Then he threw his own body at another two enemy soldiers that came running at him. Pummelling them and forcing the pair to the ground under his heavy bulk. He lay sprawled upon their dazed forms, pinning them under his weight; but before either enemy could react, he smashed his helmeted head into their faces, head-butting them and leaving nothing more than a bloody pulp and red snow among the rubble strewn street.
Before he could get up however, eight other soldiers came at him from all sides, plummeting him with close combat weapons.
Lennox winced as pain shoot up through his spine. The wounds he had suffered earlier had taken more out of him than he cared to admit, but he bit his teeth together and with a mighty roar, he explodes upwards, getting to his feet and slamming into three enemies on his way up into a standing position.
The men he had hit went flying away from him while he grabbed another man by the face, locking his fingers tightly into the man’s flesh.
The enemy soldier tried to scream, but Lennox jerked him of his feet; mercilessly using him as a living club to batter the others with, before carelessly disgarding him with a simple sideways thrust.
The man flew face first into a heap of felled concrete wall that promptly ended his life.
Around the two heroes, the enemy had amazingly been able to take down three of their fellow Marines, but it was clear that Bannister’s team was winning the fight, and Lennox started moving towards yet another group of enemies when he was hit in the face, hard, by something with enough stopping power to snap his neck back and make him lose his balance.
Lennox staggered and blindly dragged his damaged helmet off to get his bearings about him.
Close by stood a young but heavily scarred, tattooed and mutated man, shakingly holding a heavy revolver with two hands. Obviously the man had expected the cowardly up close head shot to kill the Marine, but the super human Astartes warrior hadn’t gone down and now the young man, filled with awe and fear, was unable to bring himself to fire the weapon again.
Lennox glared at him, his blue eyes filled with feral hatred, his short cropped, snow white hair and sweaty bold plate shining in the fires of the nearby building. He stood up, more relaxed in front of his enemy, spat blood onto the snowy ground, then looked back at the still shaking enemy with a slight approving nod. “Almost a man”, he calmly said, then in a flash, he smashed the mutant enemy’s face in with his helmet.
Lennox stopped for a minute and drew in a lungful of cold, bittersweet air, pungent and tainted by the smell of soot and blood, but still sweet. Then he froze, a chilling itch crawling up his spine as a mighty roar blocked out every other sound in the region.
Fighting all around slowed and halted for a minute and Lennox turned slowly to look upon the newly risen Blood Thirster getting to its feet just a few meters away, it’s terrible wounds already well on their way to being fully regenerated.
Lennox threw himself to the side, narrowly dodging a clawed hand and landing in a curled ball a few meters away. He expertly uncurled himself as he rolled and landed back on his feet, running, crashing into an enemy position and diving into cover just as a large chain snapped like a giant whip, down at where his head had been just a second earlier.
A few other Marines hadn’t been so fast though and now they went flying into the air as the frenzied Demon, clad in a multitude of metallic chains, rampaged through them.
Lennox could hear the cultists scream in exaltation and religious fervor.
One of the mad cultists near Lennox was ecstatic. “Alice is back from the dead!” he screamed. “Now she will kill them all!”
Amid the chaos, Lennox got to his feet and with a backwards elbow-thrust, he quickly snapped the man’s neck before bringing his clenched fist down like a club on another cultist nearby.
Then he delivered a mighty kick to a third cultist’s groin and watched the man sag like a rag doll as his broken hips ceased to support his weight. The man’s face was contorted in pain, but Lennox was certain the man’s tormented look was not being caused by his hips...
He didn’t have time to finish him off however as yet another Marine came flying past him and he could hear heavy footfalls from behind.
Lennox started to move away, but another flying Marine hit him hard, entangling him and before he knew it, the ground came rushing up to greet them.
From this clumsy and locked position under the other Marine, Lennox could see the Greater Demon coming for him, but then a streak of black and white came shooting out of the side of his vision and a moment later Commander Bannister was hanging on tightly as the Demon thrashed wildly with Bannister’s sword thrust deep inside its body.
Bannister could no longer hold on and fell to the ground, the Greater Demon quickly whirling on him and lifting one mighty foot gleefully to stomp the Astartes Commander to death.
But just as it lifted its foot, a loud crackle of gunfire could be heard as a virtual stream of fire poured into the Daemon’s chest. Tracer round after tracer round of Assault Cannon bolts, clearly showing as a solid line of fire, smashing into the Demon’s torso.
The Marines cheered as the Demon staggered backwards and they saw the cause of their newly arrived fire-support.
Venerated Dreadnought, Hero and Arch Angel “Oriel” was even now moving top speed at the Demon, firing all his weapons as he went. – He must have landed off position just like the rest of the team and had just now reached the fray.
“I have arrived!” he loudly proclaimed as he ran forward.
Bannister rolled to the side as the huge Dreadnought came crashing through his position near the great enemy.
“The wrath of humanity is here to banish you foul Outsider!” Oriel bellowed as he smashed into the Greater Demon, bringing the creature down onto its back with the powerful impact of several tons of Adamtine reinforced Plas-steel.
The huge Dreadnought proceeded to pummel the Demon with its great Hammer-“hand” used as a close combat weapon.
The demon tried to defend itself, holding its arms up in a protective manner, trying unsuccessfully to ward of the heavy hammer blows.
In desperation the Demon kicked out and hit the Dreadnought in its stubby mechanical legs, bringing it crashing down on top of it and catching the mighty machine in a Bearhug of crushing Demonic muscle.
With a clawed hand the demon ripped at the Dreadnought’s front plate, ripping it open to expose its softer inner workings.
With the pilot exposed, the Demon barred its sharp fangs, biting deep into the ancient Marine and ripping a large chunk of his body away, but in one last desperate act of defiance, Oriel brought his hammer down, smashing the demons face flat.
The demon fell limp and with nothing holding him up any more, Arch Angel Oriel slid off the Demon’s red chest, rolled and fell heavily onto the ground.
The dreadnought body lay unmoving on its back with Oriel hanging partly out of its front plate. Bleeding and dying.
All around the battlefield, the Guardian Angels were still battling the insurrectionist traitors, but Bannister only vaguely registered this. It was as if though the world had stopped.
Everything seemed muffled and slow. As if though he was immersed in water, but he wasn’t he knew.
The sensation came from seeing one of his oldest, most trusted mentors ripped from his heroic frame while getting chewed almost to the brink of death.
Bannister leaned in by his dying old friend and taking his hand, he breathfully swore an oath to Oriel: “By Wrathworg’s Hammer, you shall be... avenged!” he said through clenched teeth, his chin shaking in the obvious fury of grief.
Then he wrenched loose the gigantic Battle Hammer the Dreadnought used as a close combat weapon. Hefting the Legendary Wrathworg’s Hammer, he calmly strode over to the still dazed Blood Thirster and lifting the hammer high above his head, he paused for a second as a incoming message over vox was relayed to him through the bead in his ear; But then, with both hands and grim determination, he brought the Hammer down onto the huge Daemons flaming red skull.
The blow was shatteringly powerful. Strong enough to stop a Battle Tank in its tracks, but despite its enormous power, the hammer-blow merely dented the Daemons already damaged skull.
Bannister struck it again and then again with intensifying furiosity, but then at the eighth blow the Daemon seemed to reawaken from some drunken stupor and throwing its arm out in a reflective, defensive gesture, the thing hit Bannister with enough force to send him sprawling.
Getting to its feet, the greater Daemon took two drunken steps backwards and shook its head, then stood steady and roared a challenge to the world!
Bannister to stood back up to his feet and roared right back at it.
For a few fleeting moments, Greater Demon and Super Human stood facing eachother, then as if it had made up its mind, the Demon strode up to Bannister and gave him a backhand slap that set the Commander flying through the air
Bannister’s Strike Team, that had been lured away from the Bloodthirster while they busied themselves with battling the cultists and lesser demons that had appeared out of nowhere, hardly noticed the Bloodthirster’s deafening roar now. Instead they watched on in awestruck silence as one of the Chapter’s oldest heroes lay dead or dying, and now their long time leader flew, in what to them seemed like in slow motion, through the ice crystal filled air; colliding almost esthetically with snowflakes as he flew .
The blow hadn’t been powerful enough to do more than crack the reinforced chest-plate of the Commanders Artificer Armour, but still it had sent him flying, and the unstoppable parabola of his trajectory was a deadly one...
The Commander flew high in a flight that quickly became a fall; a fall that brought him over the edge of the upper hive’s outer spire railing, and the Commander disappeared out of sight, falling to his death from the high upper spires of the Hive.
No one could survive such a drop, they were simply to high up for their Commander to have any hope. – Their long time leader, mentor, saviour and friend was gone... forever.
All the Marines in the strike-force where saddened to the core and for a second a mighty helplessness washed over them all, but then their sadness turned to anger and they steeled their hearts, redoubling their efforts in slaughtering the enemy.
But even this would not be enough they realized as the Bloodthirster fixed its gaze firmly upon them again and started its long, slow gate towards their position, its wound regenerating at an alarming rate.
Executive Officer Lennox addressed the Marines. “Worry not about your Commander now!”, he bellowed.
“True Heroes refuse to die! – We must fight on!”.
He was in charge now and it was imperative that he keep his Marines in the fight.
He ordered the Marines into an organized fall-back. – They would reposition themselves into a more defensible position in which the Daemon would be less likely to simply waltz through them; but just as the Marines started to reposition themselves, they heard a low rumbling from the street.
– No they realized. Not from the street, but from the side of the Hive itself.
A second later, two fully armed Thunderhawks lifted over the side of the Hive’s outer perimeter, Commander Bannister standing with legs set firmly in front of the middle Thunderhawks cockpit.
He made an obvious firing gesture to the Thunderhawks crew; like a cavalry Commander ordering his tanks to unleash Hell.
Immediately the ground shook as the Thunderhawks launched everything they got at the Bloodthirster, sending a good portion of their missiles streaking into the creature’s chest and following it up with streams of heavy bolter rounds.
Under this torrent of fire, the huge monster of a daemon simply disappeared in a striking fireworks display of light and explosions, taking many minor daemons with it in the concussive warp-force feedback its death created. – An ear-shattering thunderclap following in its wake.
This amazing display of firepower completely unnerved most of the enemy cultists who turned their backs and ran for cover, their nearby Marine adversaries quickly forgotten at the sight of their “god’s” death.
But the Marines had certainly not forgotten about the cultists and seeing their Commander return from certain death, they were even more vigorously inspired to cut down their foes, then ever before.
With the Thunderhawk reinforcements of Chaplain Gaius, it was not long before the enemy was defeated and this section of the hive at least was free of its evil invaders.
Striding down from the now landed Thunderhawk, Commander Bannister picked up the dropped Battlehammer he had attempted to cave in the Bloodthirsters head with.
He handed it to Chaplain Gaius who walked into the waiting Thunderhawk, placing the old relic reverently inside one of the machine’s cargo holds.
The rest of the strike force soon followed, carrying wounded comrades, their fallen dreadnought and the prisoners they had rescued, into the Thunderhawks hull.
The Marines having loaded up on supplies and having seen to that their support vehicles were safe on the ground, exited the Thunderhawk again; and pretty soon the lone gunship shot upwards into the sky behind them, heading for the Legio’s Battleship, “the Bloodied Scion”, and then later, for home.
On the ground, the Marines finished their rearmament, regrouped and, prepared to continue on to their real objective, their real mission.
The Angels of Nestir had landed.
* * * * *
TO BE CONTINUED!
In the upcoming Battle 6 of the AoD.
Well, I'm certainly hoping this will inspire people to read some more of the stories that are going on over at the AoD.
Be inspired and make artwork, stories, music and such.
Or just read the stories, get to love the Characters and enjoy the ride as the story progresses.
Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 07 March 2008 - 09:34 PM.