Added prologue, plus a bit of light editing
*INTERCEPTED: ASTROPATH LEGATUS, REAPER, DATE: 565 972.M41*
To: Inquisitor lord Fellon
From: Operative Abro
Encryption level: ultima black
After over a year of external observation, I can tell you all the rumours are true. These so-called Space Marines are violent butchers, slaughtering friend and foe alike in their quest for glory. How they have escaped judgement for so long is beyond me, they are quite blatant and open with their blasphemous ways. To help you understand lord, I've done some digging through various archives.
After the great war, when most Astartes chapters were reeling from the crimes committed against them, the Flesh Tearers immediately gave chase to the forces of the arch-enemy. They killed every single thing they met, for 3 thousand years. They recruit from a race of subhuman barbarians who hunt Carnosaurs for sport, have practically no culture to speak of and live only to shed blood.
I have gathered evidence enough of their atrocities to bury these abominations for good, and will depart for your location as soon as this message is sent.
Apologies for lack of a more in-depth briefing my lord, but I fear I may compromise myself if I keep at it too long.
I'll leave you with this thought. Their founding master named them the Flesh Tearers. Could we really have expected any other outcome?
Forever your loyal servant
*INTERCEPTED: ASTROPATH LEGATUS, REAPER, DATE: 565 972.M41*
Veteran Sergeant Cain was trying to meditate.
Trying and failing.
He sat, cross legged on the floor of his Spartan quarters clad in only a pair of charcoal combat fatigue trousers, eyes closed, breathing slowly.
His pale skinned chest rose and fell slowly, the numerous scars forming a pattern of slashes, bullet wounds and burns that stretched as his paper-dry skin moved over striated muscle mass.
He had remained immobile for over 2 days now and was dangerously dehydrated, yet had not once managed to slip into the trance taught to every Space marine as a neophyte.
It was partly because of his head. Smooth, dull adamantium was visible through a large gap in the flesh of the left side of his head where a bolter round had detonated against his helmet years before. He had been lucky to survive that encounter, even luckier to retain both eyes though now approximately half of his skull was constructed of the durable metal.
And it was vibrating.
Barely noticeable in day to day life, the background vibration of the strike cruiser Reaper’s main engine was amplified to a nearly unbearable degree when trying to meditate with an adamantium cranium, making a normally simple task infinitely more difficult.
Cain blew out a sharp breath and opened his grey eyes, staring straight ahead. The walls of his chamber were bare plasteel, as was most of the ship, it‘s inhabitants preferring function over form in terms of design. In one corner of the small room was a small ablution chamber and basin, in the other was a folded up sleep mat and foot locker, containing appropriate robes and training fatigues, as well as a comprehensive weapon cleaning kit.
Furthest from the door in the dark cell stood his weapons and armour, mounted on a simple steel frame.
The pauldrons and helmet of his armour, the latter fashioned to resemble a skull, were painted matt black with a blood drop encircled by a saw blade on the left shoulder.
The rest of his practically unadorned suit was a deep red, the colour of torn flesh.
The armour was chipped and the paint had worn away in a number of places but despite appearances was well maintained and had saved Cain’s life on occasions too numerous to count.
The mk4 suit was covered in equipment pouches and magazines containing the various different loads permitted to be used by a veteran of his status, configured to keep Cain going for protracted engagements without resupply. The suit’s single non combat oriented feature was a scroll of parchment tightly wrapped around the right thigh, secured in place by Cain’s bolt pistol holster. Common to all members of Strike force Reaper, it was something of a tradition to renew oaths of loyalty and personal honour before embarking on a patrol arc, the exact details of which being recorded on each marine’s scroll. It was viewed as a bad omen should the parchment be lost or destroyed in battle, though no particular stigma was attached to the loss for the individual.
His only blade was sheathed to the front of his left shoulder pad, a simple standard issue combat blade, the robust leather sheath embossed with the sign of the Aquila.
Cain’s main close combat armament came in the form of an unorthodox pattern power fist, armoured cables running the length of his left arm, culminating in exaggerated knuckle studs. The weapon was far less powerful than a standard power fist, but also less cumbersome, lending itself to a faster style of hand to hand combat.
The weapon‘s origins lay 20 years previously when, as a newly promoted Assault squad Sgt, Cain‘s armour bore the brunt of an arch-enemy’s heavy bolter burst at point blank range, with his power fist absorbing most of the damage.
With the weapon wrecked, Cain managed to persuade Techmarine Alamos to see if he could salvage any functionality from the device. Lacking the time or resources to affect a full repair, Alamos reluctantly agreed and stripped the mechanism from the heavily damaged adamantium casing. Jury rigged to the power supply of Cain’s armour, the power fist mechanism is configured to trigger only on impact, giving Cain’s punches explosive power, albeit far less potent than its original design.
This behaviour, viewed as tech heresy by some, had become increasingly common over recent years in the chapter as weapons and armour became rarer and the expertise to repair them was gradually lost. The desperate nature of the chapter had left things like sentimentality and compassion behind. Living for the present had become sort of an unofficial ethos the chapter had embraced, and rightly so in Cain’s eyes, given the state they were in.
They simply didn’t have the time.
Placed to one side of the armour, on it’s own stand, was Cain’s only coveted possession. As unimpressive to look at as the rest of his wargear, Cain’s bolter was the epitome of practicality, a Mk2 Mars pattern weapon dating back to the great crusade itself. After Millennia of use it’s action was still smooth and it still fired straight and true, it served as a testament to the skills of the artificers of the Mechanicum. Cain treasured the bolter as it was one of few weapons as old as the chapter itself, rumoured to have been wielded by one of Master Amit’s personal guard when he served as a Captain in the Blood angels, defending Terra against the hordes of Horus.
Cain Closed his eyes again, a deep frown creasing his brow, and gritted his teeth.
Though the Vibrations in his skull were annoying, Cain could deal with them easily enough, they weren’t the main reason he could not find peace.
It was the rage.
Not for the first time in the last few days, he bared his teeth and let out a barely audible snarl, clenching his fists so hard that blood began to seep between his fingers.
The desire to maim, to destroy, to kill every living thing around him threatened to consume him again and he fought the urges down, his entire body shaking with pure force of will.
Now sweating profusely, Cain’s nose twitched of its own accord as he smelled the odours just outside his cell. The flesh and blood of Serfs moving up and down the corridor assailed his senses, his head nodding rhythmically as he sensed their weak heartbeats as they passed.
Cain begun to salivate uncontrollably, every cell of his being wanting to rush out into the corridor and butcher the slaves, to drink their blood and devour their remains.
Still, he shook in silence.
After an indeterminate amount of time the minor seizure faded and Cain opened his eyes once again. Letting out another breath, slower this time, the Veteran stood up, a sense of finality filling his soul after this latest outburst.
He stepped over to his basin and pushed the activation rune, resisting the urge to lick his hands free of blood as he cleansed them under a steady stream of cold water.
Realising that now his thirst was more instinct than rage, he leant down and drank directly from the tap, enjoying the sensation of cool water as though for the first time as it passed his lips.
Once he had quenched the more innocent of his thirsts, Cain looked at himself in the small mirror bolted above the wash basin. A young man scowled back at him, wiry and thin for an astartes, though heavily muscled by any human standards. His dark hair was cut high and tight in a severe military crop, his heavily scarred face eternally young thanks to his Blood Angels genetics, his face barely appearing to be in its twenties.
Though at 100 years old, he was reaching middle age according to Flesh Tearer average life expectancy.
He quietly uttered a phrase to himself, one that had become a mantra for all Lucid Flesh Tearers to live by.
“We don’t have time.”
Cain flinched as the Reaper shuddered violently without warning, the motion sending a shock wave of pain through his skull.
He instantly recognised the feeling, the strike cruiser was dropping out of the Warp.
Too early, much too early, the ship’s navigator had predicted another 3 months before Reaper would reach Cretacia. The 1st company were meant to be returning home to re-arm and hopefully reinforce after their 3 year patrol arc, and there was the none too small matter of formally replacing the Company Captain after Captain Slaught fell to the Rage.
Whatever the reason was for dropping into real space, it would be an inconvenience.
The Strike cruiser’s tannoy burst into life, the distorted sounds of Reaper’s Captain, Andir blaring all over the ship.
“General Alert, Warning order. Distress signal received from Planet Ryanthis, am responding. All brothers prep for battle, Squad Sergeants report to war room in three zero minutes. Acknowledge.”
Cain hit the Acknowledge rune on the console next to the door leading into the main corridor, then hit the request rune below it.
Right now Marines, Serfs and servitors would be hurrying about the ship, the former suiting up for the coming battle, and Cain was no exception. Assistance would be required to put on the heavy battle plate of an Astartes, and Cain begun to work his way into his boots as his mind focused on the task ahead.
This was unexpected, but as Loyal servants of the Imperium, the Flesh Tearers 1st company was duty bound to respond.
The war room was a simple affair, just large enough for a company’s worth of commanders to all fit around a central holo-projector. Brother-Captain Andir stood at the top of the room, next to a servitor tasked with controlling the projector console.
The venerable Captain was a mess of a man, his war ravaged body an amalgam of armour, prosthetics and support systems. Suffering heavily at the hands of the Orks on Armageddon, he had once been given the choice of living out his days as a Dreadnought, one of the Chapter’s most revered brethren but had declined, preferring to confine himself to his ship. It was here that he let his true talents as a Strike cruiser commander take priority, shunning the glory of battle for the good of the chapter.
In the absence of Captain Slaught, Andir had overall command of the 1st company strike force, though due to his inability to deploy, command of forces on the ground fell to Sgt Cain as senior Sergeant.
Cain stood in full battle plate, as did his brother Sergeants, minus his helmet. He looked around the room and nodded greetings to all present. Adjacent to himself, standing the other side of Captain Andir was Sergeant Saur. The hulking Assault marine grinned back at him, flashing his prominent fangs as he patted the chain axe sheathed at his hip. He carried the immense weapon alongside a bolt pistol and a plethora of grenades, as well as 2 combat blades sheathed across his chest plate. As Cain’s oldest friend and second in command, the battle would become his responsibility should Cain die.
Next to him stood his tactical squad sergeants Phaeron and Nicholye, both wearing the same humourless expression. It had been joked that they were twins, they always seemed to be able to pre-empt the other’s thoughts which constantly worked out to their advantage in battle.
Standing to Cain’s immediate right was Lorzen of the Sanguinary guard, his unblemished, patrician features totally at odds with his fellow flesh tearer’s ragged appearance. Standing immobile in his deep bronze artificer armour, Lorzen’s chosen elite were not technically under the command of Cain but still followed his commands to the letter as a fellow brother and oath bound member of the Strike force.
To his right was Cortez, commander of Strike force Reaper’s second assault squad. Quiet and unassuming on ship, Cortez turned into a frothing madman in battle, easily rivalling Saur’s fury, if not his physical presence. His age betrayed his nature, for he was the second oldest marine in the strike force at 237, next to Captain Andir. To spend that long in an assault squad spoke volumes about a man’s character. At the other end of the projector table stood Daemos and Turth, Devastator and scout squad sergeant’s respectively. They would be taking a reserve role in the coming battle, for their particular talents were not deemed necessary for Cain’s initial drop tactics.
“Brother-Sergeant Cain, account for your men.” Andir wheezed, his tortured voice box robbed of inflection.
“All present Captain, minus Chaplain Gornt, who tends to the Death company as we speak.” Cain’s voice was low, a throaty growl common to those who have spent years screaming in rage as an assault marine, as most Flesh Tearers had.
“Very well then, allow me to begin.” The Captain continued without further pause.
The servitor brought up a holo display of the planet below, the rough image hazed around the edges momentarily before showing a steady green orb, rotating slowly.
“We are currently in high orbit around the planet Ryanthis, a mediocre world at the centre of the Segmentum. The Governor has sent a distress signal for immediate assistance to which we, as you all know, must respond.” The hololithic display showed a planet with vast oceans bisected by 2 major landmasses. Climate was temperate, with snow at either pole and a tropical band around the equator. Various streams of data reeled off from the display, covering everything from locations of major population centres to air quality, from the planetary governor’s blood line to the specific quantities of the last tithe, which in the case of Ryanthis was mainly foodstuffs and a relatively small mineral output.
“From what we can gather, forces opposed to our rightful rule have attempted a coup, thinking themselves above the Rule of the Immortal Emperor. At this time, a taint of the cursed ruinous powers cannot be confirmed or denied, it is too early to tell.”
Brother-Captain Andir pointed an augmetic finger at a sector of the Western landmass, which zoomed in to show the local topography, with a large urban area Labelled ‘governor’s palace’.
“The city of Ryan Primus and the Governor’s palace contained within are under siege, with approximately 70% of the local PDF having turned renegade.” Andir paused to take a laboured breath.
“We are not interested in this objective at this time.” He motioned with his hand, causing the planet to rotate to the South some 200 kilometres.
The green image steadied itself, then zoomed in further to show what was obviously a large space port, with hangar complexes, a multitude of open flat permacrete areas and a control tower all situated around an immense, 3 story structure.
The central hub. The North of the civilian site linked up closely with the border of a city, it’s blinking tag read Cortunna.
“We will secure the planet’s primary Spaceport, creating a beachhead for further imperial forces to land and form a staging area.” He breathed again.
“Already, there are other Astartes forces in the area. The Sons of Ultramar have made planet fall and are liaising with loyal PDF units in order to push North towards the Capital.”
“We will get there first.”
The Captain was interrupted by a blurt of speech over the ship’s internal speaker system, an automated servitor programmed to relay priority messages.
“Sons of Ultramar Strike cruiser Guilliman’s Vengeance, hailing this ship. Recommend immediate respo-”
“Ignore it.” Andir interrupted, receiving a burst of machine code in acknowledgement by means of reply.
“We estimate that the Ground forces of our Astartes cousins will be approximately 7 hours behind us upon initial drop, the details of which I will leave to Brother-Sergeant Cain.”
Cain nodded in thanks as Andir stepped back from the display, servos whining in protest as his augmetic body moved out of the way.
Cain moved next to the servitor, his armour humming quietly with his movements. It’s efficient systems in stark contrast to the noble Captain’s ruined body.
“Let me begin by iterating the most important point.” Cain said, his quiet voice struggling to fill the room, but still easily heard by every Astartes present.
“We have no idea what nature of rebellion this is, or the exact numbers of enemy we will encounter. To this end, I’ve decided that all forces encountered be deemed hostile until further notice. Understood?”
Cain detected an expected pheromone spike in the room at this order. The distinct smell of testosterone and adrenaline was emanating from the 2 assault squad commanders in particular, with Saur’s face fixed in a feral grin. This time the expression was completely devoid of any good natured intention, his teeth gritted in barely suppressed rage.
“Good, then listen well brothers, as we don’t have time for mistakes.”
He spoke a phrase under his breath as Cain outlined his plan, being careful not to interrupt his brother’s orders.
“Flesh will be torn.”
Edited by Darkchild130, 08 September 2011 - 07:59 PM.