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Nestir V AoD, Restarting for Round 3


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#26
Neigorath

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Great writing, shame that Neigorath's grand plan was foiled a bit. At least he did get the Bears...

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Once our great father Horus led us to the gates of Terra! There he was slain by the false emperor and his weakling primarchs. Now they worship that rotting carcass as a god! Horus might have been weak and foolish, but we, his Sons, still live on! Abaddon leads us to greater glory with each of his crusades and eventually we will show our brothers that true power demands sacrifices! No-one will stand in our way, be it the lapdogs of the weakling Imperium or our brethren in the other legions! We are the Black Legion! WE ARE RETURNED! -Neigorath the Thrice Accursed, captain of the 8th Grand Company of the former Luna Wolves during the battle for Cadian Gate.


#27
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Thanks Brother Cambrius and Neigorath!
Sorry for missing out on my posting again! Came down with the flu real bad and after two weeks out of it I've had to spend a lot of extra time at the hospital. Especially with the flu going around. (Not sick at the hospital by the way. I work there, so lots of catching up to do).

The good news is that I'm finally back on the ball and hope to be posting something new up for Nestir V soon.

Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 25 February 2012 - 11:59 PM.

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#28
Something Wycked

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Glad you're feeling better, and fantastic writing, CMGM ^_^

Speaking of "something new... for Nestir V"... I'm interested in getting involved with this, when opportunities arise ^_^
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#29
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Glad you liked it! :wacko:
Unfortunately the Nestir V AoD is well under way and is closed to new players. New AoDs will be set up however and you should have no problem taking part in one of those.

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#30
Brother Cambrius

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Thanks Brother Cambrius and Neigorath!
Sorry for missing out on my posting again! Came down with the flu real bad and after two weeks out of it I've had to spend a lot of extra time at the hospital. Especially with the flu going around. (Not sick at the hospital by the way. I work there, so lots of catching up to do).

The good news is that I'm finally back on the ball and hope to be posting something new up for Nestir V soon.


Glad to hear you've gotten better form the flu you had CMG. It's been everywhere here at Uni too. I can't wait to see how Nestir V develops in the next part of the campaign. :P

Cambrius

Edited by Brother Cambrius, 29 February 2012 - 12:59 AM.

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#31
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Ok, so finally things have stabilized enough in my life that I've gotten some serious work done for the AoD again and I predict that things will get properly on track again now.

I've had time to read through everything again, including my hundreds of notes, and to write up twelve packed pages of new material so far. First is a lead up to the new battles, which explain things, forward the story and set up future battles, then come the battles between the characters in Round 3.

First up is just an aftermath story for the Fleet and Hive Primus. Not that important in the overall scheme of things, but just tying up some lose ends, and who knows, maybe there is some foreshadowing for future events as well. B)

Here we go:

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High above Hive Primus, Wing Commander Maximus Volo was leading the remaining Imperial air defence wing in space. The Imperial Fleet was making a rapid fighting retreat and while most of the Starhawks, NightHawks and Fury Interceptors had made it back to the Imperial capital ships before the ships moved out of flight range, Volo had known that his own squadron and others like his were ill equipped to reach the retreating ships it time. Besides, they would have had to fight their way through half the Chaos Fleet to do so.

Flying atmospheric fighters rather than long range space fighters, they all knew that Nestir V was their best bet, and that with the Imperial Fleet out of range, Hive Primus was the only friendly place the remaining Imperial Fighters had any chance of reaching. There was a major Imperial airforce at Hive Secundus Volo knew. - Lead by his friend Captain Jacqueline P. Harkness, hundreds of Imperial fighter planes had been active above Secundus last he had heard. There was also a large flight convoy at the Hive Tertius Ruins he knew, but he had no idea what their current status was. Besides, there was no way to contact or reach them anyway.

Knowing all this, the Wing Commander had given a general call for all squadrons to fall back to the Altitronus Space Port at Hive Primus, and loyally his squadrons had obeyed. On their way towards Nestir V, they had been forced to fight their way through a thin line of Eldar Pirate raiders in Darkstar Fighters and Nightwing Interceptors, but while they had lost twelve Marauders and thirty-one Thunderbolt Fighters to the Eldar Pirates, they had destroyed the enemy force with brute force and sheers weight of numbers. After the short battle they still had twenty-four Marauders, 158 Thunderbolt Fighters and nineteen Lighting Interceptors in the wing. To make things better there were no more enemies to challenge them as they approached Hive Primus.

Wing Commander Volo's heart was singing for this small victory and the knowledge that Hive Primus would still be able to serve as a safe haven to them in the coming days or weeks, until the Imperial Fleet returned. In the mean time, the Chaos forces would hold orbital and aerial superiority.

His joy was short lived however, for as his Marauder broke the cloud cover and the Imperial airwing approached Hive Primus from the south east, they could all see the horrible state the Hive City was in. In the snowy plains to the west of the city, huge craters lined the blackened snow and enormous fires burned in hundreds of places beyond the city walls. To the east of the city another scene of destruction was evident. Here, hundreds of Imperial aircraft lay broken beyond the city walls and Volo could see small groups of Imperial citizens risking their lives in the snow beyond the city, in an attempt to locate survivors.

Even beyond this scene of destruction, a wast eighteen kilometre long line spread out across the snowy flatlands to the east, where a Strike Cruiser had hit home on and slid along the pristine white snow. Volo slowed his Marauder down as much as possible and followed the line of destruction for a while. He could see that wreckage littered the Primus plains in the devastated Strike Cruiser's wake, and he highly doubted that anything onboard could have survived such epic destruction.

Heading back to Hive Primus again, he saw that most of the squadrons under his command were circling the hive. Even for a large Spaceport like the Altitronus it would take quite a bit of time to land all the fighter planes that had just appeared above the city. Knowing this some of the pilots had begun landing their aircraft already, even though Volo had heard no vox chatter that cleared them for such activity. In fact there was no vox chatter at all except for the occasional pilot signalling his or her intent to land.

For all the mad activity going on in and around Hive Primus, the vox bands should have been running rampant with activity, but instead there was next to nothing, and the vox silence was eerie, as if they were flying above a ghost city. Yet, the city had not opened fire on them and the Altironus' Void Shields were inactive, so it was clear that whoever were down there were indeed allowing the emergency landings.

Knowing his pilots to be professionals, it was also clear to Volo that those with the least fuel and those who had sustained damage would be allowed to land first. The rest of the Imperial fighter planes would keep an eye out for enemies, but to their amazement, no enemies had followed them in. - The enemy forces were probably to busy, Volo thought. Even now securing their orbital superiority and gloating about their short-lived victory. The Imperial Fleet would be back sooner than the enemy expected, of that Volo had no doubt. - It was the Imperium after all, the mightiest institution in all the galaxy.

Shifting his attention, Wing Commander Volo could see that there was some sort of gathering within the city's western region and what appeared to be sporadic battles. From his high vantage point he could see the city on a larger scale as well, and there were fires burning everywhere. Many towers within the city had collapsed and yet others had been clipped right bad at the top. The Void shield generators all looked dead and the harsh atmosphere of the planet was bleeding into the city itself. Then, even as Volo looked upon, another hive tower listed to the side and buckled in on itself, collapsing into the streets below. Volo was no longer certain if this city would be salvageable, and exchanging a doubting glance with his co-pilot Altus Celer, he brought his Marauder in for a closer look.

Then, after a few minutes of surveying the damage the city had sustained, a voice finally cut through the vox silence. “Flight leader, please identify yourself!”, came the rasping voice of a man. Volo smiled. Finally some semblance of civilization from the city down below. "Unknown caller, this is Super Black Eagle, Alpha", Volo replied. “I am the Wing Commander of the remaining Imperial Fleet Defence Wing. Enemy forces have taken the heavens and we are coming in for an emergency regrouping. - To whom am I speaking?”.

“This is Commander Norrington, General of the Nestirian PDF and Knight of Nestir V, on behalf of Planetary Governor Stella Ducem”, came the reply, and Volo cocked his eyebrows in surprise. “As I am sure you can see Wing Commander, we are in a bit of a mess down here. Under my command, the local Arbites, PDF forces, Imperial Guard Forces, and Legio-trained militia are carrying out emergency damage control and repairs within the city. We have our hands full halting riots from panicking people, all the while trying to fight down hundreds of fires and coordinate rescue missions. Just to name a few of the things we are busying ourselves with, so I am afraid you will have to administrate your landings yourself. - Beyond that the power grid of the city is down and the Void shields are dead. This means we will need air cover in the days to come. So, on behalf of Planetary Governor Stella Ducem: Welcome to Hive Primus!”.

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#32
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Ok, so another sunday, another story.
We continue tying up loose ends with a look at our next combatants viewpoint on what the Chaos Forces are doing:

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Apoc Everkill was rather happy for once. Well, maybe happy was overdoing it, but not exactly bored at least. The battle for the Snow Leopard's Fort was finally over and the Chaos forces stood triumphant, in no small measure due to his own efforts Everkill knew, even if he and his Underhand Marines had played it rather... safe. Yes, safe was the word he thought, but certainly not cowardly, or boring.

In space too, they had been successful. Captain Belial Neigorath and Aedan Radek had sent a messenger, one of those pesky and ever so predictable Word Bearers, to tell Warmaster Adramalech that the Imperials were fleeing orbit. Even now the messenger was telling the Warmaster that the Imperials were running and that after their raids against the Hive Cities of Nestir V, the Chaos aerial wings were returning from the planet to secure the perimeter of the Chaos Fleet in orbit.

Both their own fleet and their Eldar Pirate allies had in turn shifted their attentions towards damage control and repairs. Aedan Radek's World Eaters were apparently having a field day boarding and manning orbital stations around the planet, while Neigorath's forces were taking control of what was left of the orbital defence network, and in general securing their hold over Nestir V. - All in all it was a good day for Adramalech's Black Crusade.

All this Everkill heard from over twenty paces distant to where Warmaster Adramalech, the human pirate Yana Orkan, and Saul, the Apostle of Luther, stood surrounded by Word Bearers and Adramalech's ever so hungry Ulfenhedner bodyguards. Everkill had decided to stay well clear of the wolf-like xenos, because while they may well look more relaxed than usual, with their long claws retracted for once, their sharp teeth and malicious yellow eyes betrayed their gleeful bloodlust and hunger, as always.

Sitting down on a pile of corpses, Everkill took a deep swig of Slethorian poison wine and shifted his attention to the huge cavern in which they were gathered. In the wake of the great battle that had just taken place it smelled of burnt metal, fresh slaughter and death. Bodies and wrecked vehicles were littered everywhere. Chaos, Imperial, Eldar and Hrud alike. Though the dead Hrud were more oozing, rotten sludge than anything else, and they smelled appallingly like, really bad eggs over Nurgling dung. - “Really bad eggs”, Everkill thought. That's what they were. All of them, himself included. Really bad eggs. With this thought in mind he took another long swig of his poison wine and took a long, good look around the gloomy cave.

Far off to Everkill's right, Cryus Crom and his band of warriors were milling about like servants, securing the accursed Eldar Webway Portal, where Harok Tal's mangled corpse now lay inside it's spiked armour, beside his dead men and most of the other Chaos warriors that had fallen during the grim, bloody battle. Lord Saul's Chaos Marines were also degrading themselves in that part of the cavern, carrying and piling the dead into ordered heaps.

Throughout the rest of the cavern however, the Hrud were collecting equipment and Geneseed from off the dead, both Imperial and Chaos alike. Everkill found this a bit annoying, as he and his warriors had taken the time to search many of the remaining corpses themselves, only to find that they had already been looted by the Hrud. Many of them had even been dragged away by the xenos creatures long before the Underhand Marines could get to them at all. Even vehicles were being stripped bare and carried away in record time by the flowing shadowy forms of the scavenging race. What irritated Everkill the most however was that the last stand of the Imperials had been looted first. Nothing remained there but a few scraps of vehicles and bones.

Adramalech on the other hand didn't seem to care. He had his victory. The Fort of the Snow Leopard, so long sought after was finally theirs, yet they still had to break through the icy white spherical outer shell of the Machine-Spirit's main chamber. - In essence the Fort itself. For truth be told, all they had secured so far was a big, dark, cave. The cave that held the actual fort. And so Adramalech was fully focused on getting an ordered overview of the situation so that he could get to work on splitting open the hexagramatically shielded dome before the end of the day.

The fact that he allowed the alien scavengers to continue their work was probably in part due to the distraction of this main goal, but it was probably also part of his agreement with the Hrud. After all, even those dark and mysterious creatures needed to eat, Everkil thought. He had however noted that the Hrud were also busying themselves with harvesting Pregnoid glands from the dead marines. Most of this they delivered to some of Everkill's aides, for Adramalech had asked that the collected Geneseed be stored onboard Apoc Everkill's own ship, The Consultant of Mayhem.

Naturally Everkill had agreed. He figured that Adramalech wanted the Geneseed to create new Chaos Marines and further his own goals some time in the future. Yet Everkill thought the Chaos Lord a fool for trusting him with such a luxurious commodity, for as the Geneseed was to be stored onboard The Consultant of Mayhem, Everkill could always syphon some of it away for his own dark needs as well.

Then again, Adramalech wasn't known to be a complete idiot. He probably already knew that Everkill would steal away some of the Geneseed, and so he was essentially saying it was ok for Everkill to steal some of it, just as the Hrud were stealing away many of the fallen Imperial bodies and their equipment. It was a win-win situation Everkill figured. Just Adramalech's way of saying “thank you!”. Everkill would have liked to steal all of the Geneseed, but he would have to show some restraint. Even the Hrud who were greedily stealing away resources weren't taking it all. Everkill knew that they were actually collecting quite a few of the fresh corpses near the edges of the gigantic cavern. From there they would be carried beyond the teleportation shielding of the Snow Leopard's Fort, before being teleported out for use as fresh meat for the rest of Adramalech's unsuspecting troops. It was a bloody and grim thing to do, but on a desolate ice world like Nestir V, resources were scarce and the rank and file still had to be fed.

That the looting going on all around was robbing him of resources he himself could have used was a bit irritating to Everkill, but in the end it didn't really matter that much. As a united force the Chaos armies on Nestir V had already drained away enough Promethium and riches to their ships and the far away pirate space fort Dannan-Ra, that they would all be rich beyond measure for decades to come. All he needed to do was to serve and survive to the end of the Black Crusade. After that Adramalech would have what he wanted. Imperial rule would collapse. The Nestirian sub-sector would be destabilized and under the rule of a new Demon Lord. Chaos would thrive and the whole sub-sector would be ripe for plunder.

For now though, he was still stuck in this murky cavern, and Everkill shifted his focus away from the glory of future dreams and back to the here and now again. All in all the place was messy, bloody, dark, dank and dusty. Everkill suddenly didn't feel the slightest bit pleased at all. Dust, he thought. Dust was mostly the dead remains of humans wasn't it? He shifted his gaze to where Lord Sallanum's crushed cranium lay in a heap of burned dust and bones. Dust and bones. That was all that remained of Sallanum's huge undead army now, and everyone else were happily breathing them in. Everkill almost gagged at the thought. - Sallanum truly did become a Lord of Death in the end, Everkill grimly thought before taking another long swig of poison wine. To the Warp with it all, he figured. Future dreams were better than this place any day. He drained his wine bottle in one long drink, then made certain to put his armoured helmet back on and promptly let himself fall back on a pillowing pile of corpses, to fall asleep and dream of a glorious golden future.

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Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 25 March 2012 - 10:04 PM.

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#33
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Yet another story to tie up some loose ends.

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Captain Drako Kinghorn of the Guardian Angels' Eighth Company was sitting in solitude and deep reverie within the combat lit cargo hold of his Patriarch Class Command Hawk as it thundered away above the snowy steppes of Nestir V, leaving the Hive Tertius Ruins behind at over eleven hundred kilometres per hour. With him was most of the remainder of the Eigth, including his executive officer Lennox, Venerable Chaplain Gaius, , Apothecary Sergio, Spymaster Proeliator, Tech-Adept Dominicus, the Battle Brothers Obel, Soner and Advivo, as well as nineteen other Marines, and eighteen Scouts. The huge Command class Thunderhawk even carried a Promethius Command Rhino and three regular Rhinos.

Beyond the Command Hawk, Cruento Manus, Codicer Korvac and Captain Morg of the Legio, as well as eighteen other Legio Marines were following along in their Thunderhawk Gunship. They were surrounded by an impressive twenty-two Valkyries, three Valkyrie Skytalons, twelve Arvus Lighters, and fifteen Vulture Gunships. But chief among them all was the Devourer class dropship Cillus, or Thumper as it was affectionately called by the Guardsmen assigned to it.

As a primary planetary assault craft, the Devourer class dropship transported an amazing 318 civilian workers, 482 Imperial Guardsmen, fifteen Chimera transports, four huge Crassus Transport Carriers, four Hellhounds and three Leman Russ Battle Tanks. With this loadout the dropship was emergency packed and was falling slightly behind the rest of the airwing. Yet this was not the extent of the force being transported, for another 366 Guardsmen and 97 pilots were divided across the other transports, leaving Commander Steel in charge of close to 1400 people evacuating the Hive Tertius Ruins. - Even so the Imperials had been unable to transport all the equipment and men they had at Tertius, and they had been forced to leave a massive amount of equipment behind, manned and guarded by a skeleton crew of 194 volunteering civilian militia.

It had been a difficult and unwelcome decision that the Imperial leaders at Tertius had been forced to make, but when they lost contact with the Imperial Strike Force that went through to the Fort of the Snow Leopard, and the Webway Portal wouldn't reopen, they could only conclude that their Speartip had failed and that they had all been killed in action. During this horrid realization, it also became clear that the Imperial Fleet in orbit had been forced to withdraw, and Captain Drako had reasoned that they would stand the best chance of surviving while waiting for the Imperial Fleet to return, if they made for the Fort of Occasus Niveus Montis in the Kea mountain range.

Commander Steel and the now missing and presumed dead Captain Cyprian of the Legio, had scouted out and mapped the ancient crashed Ork Spacehulk and former Eldar Pirate-Fort no more than a month earlier, and there was no question that it would serve as a much better defensive position than the exposed ruins of Hive Tertius. Yet they had been forced to relocate in a hurry, for they knew that the enemy now had to be aware of the Webway Portal at the Hive Tertius Ruins, and so must also be aware that more Imperials were trapped there with no orbital support or reserve forces to aid them. This had the Imperial leaders conclude that a large Chaos strike force would move against them as soon as the Chaos Fleet had properly secured it's superiority in orbit.

As they packed up in a hurry, the Imperials had been forced to leave the structures of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, the HQ and storage facilities, the generators and most of the tents of the Guard forces behind, as well as the small group of militiamen. The main force out of Tertius would come back for them if they could, but in all likelihood traveling through the skies of Nestir V would be to dangerous in the days to come.

The minuscule force of Lugganath Eldar warriors that had remained at Tertius had also opted to stay behind. They would remain in the Yggdrasil chamber were they would continue to guard and attempt to open the BelahRill Webway Portal, through which they hoped to return to Craftworld Lugganath. Captain Drako and many other Imperials had been tempted to slaughter them on the spot, but their alliance had been cemented by an Inquisitor of Ordo Xenos, and so they had decided to honour their alliance instead.

A blinking yellow light brought Captain Drako back out of his silent reverie as he realized they were approaching their target destination. Almost unbelievably they hadn't been challenged by enemy forces during their journey, but there was no telling if they had been detected from orbit. He unbuckled and got up to move into the forward cockpit of the Command Hawk. Once there he leaned down between the two pilots to see the snowy, ragged spikes that were the Kea mountains, and much closer, Occasus Niveus Montis itself.

Once they arrived there, they would have to camouflage their flyers, secure the old Mountain Fort, clean it up and make it a makeshift home. Then their true struggle would begin, for they were on their own against a vastly more powerful enemy. The Imperial Fleet was gone and the Hive Cities were to far away to reach safely while the arch enemy ruled the skies. So they may have to defend themselves for a long time with no relief, no backup and no new supplies coming in. - While they had brought most of the supplies from the base at Hive Tertius and already had rations both from their vehicle and personal stores, it was clear that even with strict rationing, food would run out in approximately twenty days, and if the Chaos forces found them, there was no telling how long their ammunition stores would last.

Yes indeed, Drako thought as the Imperial airwing out of Tertius came in for a landing near the mountain fort at Occasus Niveus Montis. Their struggle would truly begin now, but if there was one thing he was certain of, it was that Crusade Commander Bannister would not give up on them, and he was certain that the other Imperials wouldn't either.

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Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 27 March 2012 - 12:20 AM.

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#34
Brother Cambrius

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Very very nice writings CMG! The AoD still lives and the next round's building up slowly. Lest we forget there's a nice big contingent of the Sons of Doom still incoming to reinforce the Imperial forces and to find vengeance for the loss of Amorphous. :)

Cambrius

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#35
Reyner

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Great stories. The next round is looking interesting!

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#36
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Thanks guys!
No, Nestir V isn't dead, just plagued by RL. :D
I've finally started my easter holliday now though, and I've taken out a few extra days vacation time. That means I now have a few days I will be dedicating exclusively to Nestir V.

While there may well be Sons of Doom on the way, I don't see them arriving yet Brother Cambrius. They have a long way to travel, and at this point in the game, the arrival of a large Imperial relief force would be unbalancing to the game story as dictated by the game mechanics. After all, the story progression of the AoD is still ruled by the player character forces that are still active, and their battles.

As the game mechanics stand right now, the AoD is at 50/50 between the Imperial and Chaos side; so we may indeed be seeing the arrival of Imperial reinforcements during the future timeline, but then again, the Chaos side may get an overwhelming victory as well. If that happens it may be a bit embarrassing that the Sons had their huge fleet defeated eh? ;)

Anyway, more tidying up:


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Two days later, the Imperial Fleet was hanging at rest in wild space just beyond the Nestir V system. They had set up a perimeter and were finally done carrying out Catastrophic Damage Control. Everywhere throughout the fleet, yellow and black Bombus Class maintenance craft, or Bumblebees, as the navy liked to call them, were carrying out repairs. Silver and black Naductor Class Pilot Craft were surveying and cataloguing damage so that the repair craft could be better guided to where they were needed the most, and Arvus Lighters were ferrying people and materials to and from different hubs of activity.

With his hands clasped behind his back, Sky Marshal Laertes Aldridge Kiel, who served as the Crusade's Admiral, stood before one of the huge, gothic observations windows of the Bloodied Scion's Command Bridge. Before him, the starlight shone softly on the mighty Battle Barge's dark, gothic hull. Large gargoyles, cannons and towers were dimly outlined, as was the ship's severe battle scars.

The ship had served more than twelve hundred years with the Legio, and during that time she had seen many fine battles. She had carried Legio representatives to the Conclave of Gathalamor, she had stood vigilant against Chaos Pirates at Attica Prime, served in the Gothic war and taken part in championing Imperial interests after the Macharian Heresy. She had been through much, but rarely had she taken as much damage as during the Crusade for Nestir V.

Now, adepts from throughout the Crusade were making all due haste to repair her wounds and calm her tormented spirit; but she was not alone, and she was not the worst for wear among the many ships that made up the Imperial Fleet of the Nestir V Crusade.

Admiral Kiel studied the scene beyond the gothic window in front of him. Out there he could see the Lux Astrum Phoenix and the Goldfield Voiager, but he knew there were many other ships around the Scion as well. Thousands of people were currently out there, cleaning, tidying, welding and in general repairing the ships of the fleet. Yet for all that activity, all the Admiral himself could do, was to wait.

With the worst damage under control, they were finally able to assess damage and direct repairs while planning their return to Nestir V, but they had a long way to go still, and so the Command Deck onboard the Legio Battle Barge, was among the busiest places of all. Captain Stride of the Legio, the true Captain of the Scion, with direct Navigational Command under Sky Marshal Kiel, came walking up to the Admiral and tok in the scene outside as well.

“Any news?”, Kiel asked the younger officer, and Captain Stride nodded. “Yes my lord. The logic engine estimates that repairs across the fleet will take at least a month. This is supported by the calculations of all our best adepts as well”.

“Then it is as I predicted”, Kiel said flatly. I can only hope our Imperial allies left on the surface of Nestir V can hold out that long”. “Yes my lord!”, Captain Stride replied, nodding his agreement. “Our return to the planet will not be easy either. The enemy is sure to have fortified their position by the time we return”.

“Yes,” Admiral Kiel agreed. “As we all know. Yet their noses were bloodied as well, and their fleet isn't any stronger than ours. We will stand a good chance of securing orbital anchor over Nestir V once again; if not the outright orbital superiority we enjoyed in the past. - Yet, the Emperor willing, with our next push, we will cast the enemy out for good”. Kiel allowed himself a slight smile at that future hope, before turning his attention to Captain Stride again. “Any word from the Astropaths?”, he asked, searching the young Captain's face.

“Yes”, Captain Stride said. We picked up a faint communiqué from Nestir V, reporting that the enemy send a bomb raid against Hive Secundus. The attempt seemed half-hearted however, as if they weren't really going after the Hive City. Hell Blades and Hell Talons were used against the Hive, but were met by one Captain Harkness' Airwing and the city's aerial defences. Against this show of force, the surprised Chaos airwing was unable to reach the city proper and not a single bomb fell over the city”.

“Truly?”, Admiral Kiel nodded in amusement. “Well at least we know the Imperials on Nestir V are still holding out and fighting back. - I am not surprised however, for even with orbital superiority, the aerial forces of the enemy must be stretched thin. Their true focus will be on further securing their orbital superiority, and as such they are likely to merely harass the cities enough that they can't jeopardize their fleet's position. Yet that is as it is and there is nothing we can do about it now. What I truly meant by my original question was, is there any word from the Astropaths regarding the possibility of external reinforcements?”.

Captain Stride looked stern and shook his head. “No my lord, they once again report that strong Warp currents beyond the outmost borders of the Nestir V system have been obscuring their ability to contact the Imperium at large. It seems terrible Warp Storms are brewing”.

“Yes”, Admiral Kiel replied. “And our Navigator's refuse to venture into the brewing storm, leaving us stranded here with no aid but what we can provide ourselves”. Kiel turned to observe the Command Bridge of the Bloodied Scion, where the huge chamber's vaulted ceiling was lit by candles in an effort to save some of the ship's electrical resources for repairs. Still, glowing hololithic displays and monochrome screens lit the faces of the hundreds of officers, serfs and servitors that were busing themselves with countless tasks.

Around the best hololithic display table, stood the huge Dreadnought form of Crusade Commander Bannister, alongside the much smaller Inquisitor Rugajov and one Incompertus Ferratus of the Legio. Around them, even more deck officers in black and red uniforms, watched monitors, read long scrolls and discussed the situation at hand.

“Does he know?”, Kiel asked Captain Stride, indicating the Crusade Commander. “Yes he does”, Stride replied with a nod. “He has asked that we keep trying, and he insists we work ever faster. That is nearly impossible however, as regular humans can't be pushed the way Astartes can, and we are short on servitors as is. - I'm afraid the Crusade Commander is being a bit grumpy about it. He is starting to show signs of a Dreadnought that has been active a tad too long”.

Admiral Kiel sighed at that, taking in the scent of the sweet incense that robed Tech Adepts were burning throughout the ship in an attempt to mask the stench of burning metal and death.

“Well”, he said at last. “He will just have to wait. - We all will”.


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Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 02 April 2012 - 07:07 PM.

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#37
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Three days later, in the subterrainian world of Nestir V, Adramalech was literately fuming with anger. The crystaline gems embedded in his temples seemed to be glowing with a blue flame, and his milky white eyes were flowing with frost smoke from the psychic power he had unleashed again and again. For three days he had assailed the outer shell of the Snow Leopard's Fort, but despite his relentless efforts, the protective shell had not cracked. Yet under the stress inflicted upon them, the protective shell's hexagramatic wards were glowing an icy blue, and fading flecks of power floated about like glowing snow flakes.

The Chaos Lord's albino skin was covered in black and purple veins. His blackened fingernails were seemingly suffering from frostbite, and his deathly white skin stood in stark contrast to the blood-red and copper hues of his power armour.
As the powers coursing through him died down, he realized he had weakened the outer shell of the fort, but far from enough. This was all taking too long, and it infuriated him.

In a rage he threw the silvery blade Rillie-Tageth away from himself, and the blade went skittering across the floor of the cavern with sparks flying behind it. Adramalech had confiscated the blade from Cryus Crom a few days ago, knowing that with RillieTageth and it's twin-blade YirrikZhai, he could easily open the fort's outer gates.

During the battle for the Snow Leopard's Fort, YirrikZhai had been in the hands of his current host body's supposed sister. The Imperials had been defeated and she had been killed at the hands of the Hrud swarm, yet all that was left there now were bones, and YirrikZhai was nowhere to be found. The pesky but necessary Hrud army had stolen it away, just as they had stolen the Bionnearan Raiok Hasoi Tonesh Carrecenad all those hundreds of years ago.

If it hadn't been for them, he would already have that artefact and would have been free of his spirit prison once and for all. Yet there he remained, only able to unleash the tiniest portion of his power. Enough to remotely possess a host body and to build up enough energy to carry out some spectacular psychic feats, but not enough to leave the planet, or enough apparently, to break through the seals protecting the Fort of the Snow Leopard.

Adramalech cursed and shrugged off his heavy, white fur coat, regarding his hands with curiosity. He had been forced to put his red, lightning clawed gauntlets aside while handling the sabre Rillie-Tageth, and he had known that the blade itself would harm him. It was after all designed specifically with that purpose in mind, but it had caused more pain than he had thought it alone could.

Combined with YirrikZhai, the two blades were supposed to form a new weapon. Anthatrill, which could suck the Warp energy from a creature and not only banish it, but outright and eternally destroy it; yet Adramalech had not thought that the blades would be so powerful on their own. - In his possession however, they would no longer pose a threat to him, so he had to retrieve both blades somehow. - That way he could either control, or destroy them.

Unfortunately though, his orders to search for and locate YirrikZhai had so far yielded no results. He had even tried to use both his own formidable psychic powers and Rillie-Tageth's quantum entanglement link to it's twin blade, in an attempt to track down the missing relic. As he had just found out however, he had exhausted his psychic abilities on weakening the Fort of the Snow Leopard and found that in his weakened state, he was unable to penetrate the psychic dampening field of the fort itself, or to get around the strange psychic effects that the thousands of Hrud caused in Nestir V's subterranean world. - Furthermore, the very presence of Rillie-Tageth seemed to hamper his effort as much as anything.

Yet his ultimate goal was to find and open the crystal matrix that imprisoned his Warp essence, so he could be free and take up his mantle as a god once more. To break out of his Prison of Solitude however, he had to find the damned crystaline matrix stone, the Bionnearan Raiok Hasoi Tonesh Carrecenad, or the Snow Globe as he for some strange reason had started naming it.

Finding that particular artefact however, meant getting into the cold mechanical heart and mind of the mighty machine spirit Snow Leopard. All this he had learned from the memories of his host body, Jokul, and he was almost certain the Snow Globe reference came from there too. Even now he could feel the wretch struggling for control, but even in his weakened state, Adramalech was certain that there was no chance of that happening.

The Chaos Lord was not happy about what he knew had to come next. He would not be able to break down the outer shell of the Snow Leopard's Fort with his psychic might alone, but he had weakened it's passive defences considerably, and there was another way to open it that had been tested in the past. It was risky and would take time, so Adramalech had been hesitant to employ this option earlier, but the time had come to realize that he had no other choice.

“Saul!”, he barked, turning and staring down the Apostle of Luther. The ancient Dark Angel was taken aback by the fury of Adramalech's voice, as were the Word Bearers surrounding him, who instinctively took a step away from the terror inflicting radiance of their master's mighty countenance. - Even Adramalech's seemingly fearless Ulfenhedner bodyguards backed away, but Saul, a veteran of ten thousand years stood his ground. “Yes Lord Adramalech?”, he enquired curiously.

“I have weakened the outer shell more than enough”, Adramalech stated triumphantly, hiding his frustration at not being able to break through the fort's defences all by himself. “Now, start teleporting in our most powerful explosives. Let us rig this place to collapse. That should take care of the rest”.

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Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 04 April 2012 - 01:57 AM.

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#38
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Everkill sat a bit away from the spectacle of Adramalech. For two days he had watched the Chaos Lord continually assault the outer shell of the Snow Leopard's Fort with psychic might. Mostly the attacks had been manifested as some sort of blue energy. Lightning had played throughout the spherical construct's pristine white surface, and frost had covered large parts of the cavern. Only occasionally had the Chaos Lord allowed himself any rest, and as an observer of this power-display, Everkill had grown convinced that Adramalech was in fact utterly mad. He had thought this for a long time of course, but now he was truly and utterly convinced. Especially after his latest order. There was no guarantee that an explosive demolition of the ceiling above the Snow Leopard's Fort wouldn't simply bury the fort or destroy the valuable equipment inside. Worst case it might even trap and kill many of their own troops, though Everkill had no intention of being anywhere near the cavern once the explosives were being rigged.

He let his gaze glide across the gloomy cavern they were in again and felt miserable. He had slept through the first day, dazed and in a stupor, but when he awoke fully once more, he had found the cavern transformed. Most of the corpses had been removed and a small tent city had been erected with a criss crossing web of high torch-poles lighting the place in a flickering orange hue. But all his alcohol had gone and Everkill longed for his ship. Naturally there were few humans in the cavern, as most of Adramalech's loyal human servants had stayed behind in their three separate subterranean tent cities. From what they had heard though, one of those had been destroyed by the accursed corpse lovers that dared call themselves Imperials.

No, there were few that were still worthy of calling themselves Imperials. Few that had truly seen the grand vision that the Emperor once held, but that he had so foolishly thrown away. There were those in Adramalech's motley band of warriors that had known those days, but even they were few and far between. Down here in this gloomy cavern, this ragtag tent city filled with Astartes warriors of old, this was the closest he could ever come to a true Imperium ever again, he thought. - Unless he built one for himself.

He could do that off course. After all he had built up his Underhand Marines army from nothing, and had done so while being drunk most of the time. He had no idea why he kept staying alongside the foolish Chaos Lord really, but he had done good for himself so far and there was still the potential of becoming filthy rich and powerful from this mad, mad venture. Besides, he figured it was better not to test the Alpha level psycher's powers in an attempt to run away.

Run away, Everkill thought again. Running away like the scared little mice that they were; that is what the Imperials had done. Their fleet had turned tail and run, while the rest of their pathetic kind had scurried down their decaying little holes to hide. Hide, hide and run away. Just like the cowardly Hrud had been doing at the sight of Adramalech's “magic”. They mostly kept to the outskirts of the cavern now. The outskirts and the tunnels.

For some reason that reminded Everkill about Caenargeon, the Diplomat of Zha Hadumm. The “Slayer of loyalist mice!”, Everkill had called him, but he was long since dead in this campaign. - Everkill missed him. He needed someone to taunt, and Caenargeon had always made a tempting target for some reason. Ah well, he always had the Hrud he had captured, Everkill thought and turned his attention to a tied up Hrud in front of himself. He had caught three of them attempting to steal from him, and while excruciatingly difficult, he had managed to tie them up in such a way that even their flexible forms were unable to wriggle free and escape. - Actually he wasn't certain that these were the correct three, but that didn't really matter. - He just needed a bit of sport.

Everkill had tried to relocate some of the Imperials he had fought and killed during the earlier battle, especially that damned sod he had fought, but he couldn't remember where he had died, and besides the Hrud had stolen their bodies too.

For that alone, the three Hrud he had captured deserved their fate, and he had already made living scarecrows out of two of them. They had died slow, excruciatingly painful and entertaining deaths to the apparent horror of the remaining captured Hrud.
Everkill had ordered that one to go fetch him something to drink, proclaiming loudly that he would make a meat puppet out of the poor creature, to perform for all the Imperial citizens, if he was denied in his request. Naturally the captured creature was unable to comply, and Everkill had wandered off looking for Imperial citizens he could entertain, forgetting momentarily that there would be none to be found.

That was just as Adramalech had stopped his spectacle and demanded a supply of explosives. Now, Everkill turned his attentions back to that particular Hrud again, and looked at it with a disapproving stare. “You didn't get me things”, he said with a slur, fishing out a small bottle of rum, but found the bottle, for the fifth time in a row, and to his great surprise, to be empty.

He looked guiltily at the Hrud again. “Why is the rum always empty?”, he asked the uncomprehending creature and shone a sideways smile. “You know”, he continued. “I will make you a meat puppet for that. A meat puppet to perform before all these bloody warriors, and any who dislike my performance shall be made into meat rations”. He stopped and looked thoughtful for a moment. “Who am I kidding, they'll all end up like that anyway".

“Well, ok”, Everkill continued, looking smug and wondering how the creature had ended up tied up on a stake down a man sized hole. - Had he dug that himself? Everkill studied his hands in wonderment. No, he had probably ordered his men to do it, as well as to get the huge boulder behind the hole. - The hole, the hole. He suddenly remembered the creature in the hole again. “Oh!”, he said apologetically to the creature. “What are you doing down there? - Come, let me help you up”. Everkill started moving forward but stopped himself. “Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery”, he mumbled to himself, then shook his head as if awakening from a dream.

“Meat puppets!”, he said out loud to no one in particular. “I will make you a mea... - No wait, I already did that. Or did I just say it?”, he asked himself. “Ah well”, he said, addressing the Hrud in the hole again. “Maybe I will just rip out your spine and tie you up with it before boring you to death with a lecture on how pathetic corpse worshipping marines are. - Standards have slipped you know”. Everkill looked thoughtful again. “But no, that wouldn't work on you lot would it?”, he asked the now terrified creature that had no way of understanding what the raving madman above it was saying.

“What would you do if you were tied up in a hole in the ground with a giant boulder about to fall down and crush you to death?”, Everkill asked the poor creature, fully expecting an answer, despite that it was both tied up and gagged.

Everkill stared at the Hrud for a while, but finally realized that no answer would be forthcoming. “Boy are you stupid”, he told it, and went on to give it the answer. “Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far”, he said sanctimoniously. “Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems far more likely; consider how lucky you are that it won't be troubling you any longer”. With that he gave the huge boulder over the hole a mighty push and the giant rock fell down to make a wet stain of the poor Hrud.
“Besides”, Everkill told the hole with a rock in it, while climbing up on the boulder to get a new, interesting place to sit. “Know that you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should”.

“It is still a beautiful world”, he mumbled to himself settling into his new perch atop the boulder, while staring up at stars that weren't really there. “Be cheerful and strive to be happy”.

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Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 04 April 2012 - 02:17 AM.

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#39
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Five days had passed since the Ursa Minor hit Hive Primus, and finally all the fires left in it's destructive wake were under control. The structural integrity of the city was compromised, but stable, and the people of Hive Primus had finally calmed down. There had been no more attacks from the enemy, and the situation at large seemed more manageable.

Across the still inhabited parts of the hive city, wood and promethium had been taken into use as fuel for furnaces, to keep the people warm and the streets lit. This was all good Commander Norrington thought as he stood just outside the fortifications built by Crussis' Legio Militia teams in the Underhive; but today marked a special occasion. The repair teams of the city had been working around the clock, and today the power grid of Hive Primus would finally be brought back online again.

Standing in the lower parts of the burned out underhive, Norrington thought it strange that this place had been swarming with mutated undead not that long ago. The place was burned to a crisp in the explosive underhive fire that had followed, and swept through the place in a torrential inferno. Since then, most of the bodily remains left behind had been gathered up and transported to Primus Cemetery in the Cathedral district, where priests had worked overtime laying down blessings in the name of the Emperor. - That seemed as if it was ages ago now, but truth be told it wasn't that long ago at all, and the burned out wreck of a Landraider nearby, marked with a single wolf skull on a huge Crux Terminatus, served as a stark reminder of that.

Norrington stood surrounded by all sorts of rubble modified to create fortifications and a makeshift fort. The lowest part of the Nex Spensa tower has been converted and reinforced to serve as a command bunker and makeshift headquarters for the Planetary Governor and the remaining troops of Hive Primus. This fortress stood guard over the entryway to the collapsed Landtrain tunnels under the city, and just beyond it, thousands of civilians had taken refuge from the harsh environment of the exposed city above their heads.

The place was well staffed by guards, and the 833rd Dragoons out of Kíchuty Prime had been especially helpful in staffing the place properly. Luckily though, the civilians in their ramshackle shelters and tents were calm and not making any problems. Commander Norrington had stepped outside to grab a smoke and was currently enjoying an unusually fat lho stick while casually observing the tents and fires of the nearby civilian shanty town. He took another deep breath of the lho stick and rather enjoyed it's sweet sting. Strange, he thought. He had never had a taste for the things before the war.

Standing where he was, he had found a spot where, if he looked up at just the right angle, he could spot a clear night sky and stars, through several layers of protective steel mesh. The city stretched on for kilometers above his head and mostly all he could see was concrete and metal, but just at this spot he could see stars; and they were moving.

“We are the thin line that protects the Imperium against the horrors of Chaos. We shall not be swayed or be undone by your evil deeds traitors!”, he spat at the empty air and felt disgusted that the arch enemy had taken over the heavens. He had no doubt the Imperium would return to contest that position, but in the meantime, they would be forced to carry on by themselves.

“Who are you talking to?”, a voice asked just beside the distracted Imperial Guard Commander, and Norrington jumped. He hadn't heard his second in command coming out after him. “No one in particular”, he answered. “Just chastising a cruel and uncaring universe”. The younger officer nodded in understanding, blowing on his hands to keep them warm in the cold.

“How goes the work at Primus Generatorium?”, Norrington asked, and his Second in Command beamed. “Thats why I came out here”, he replied. “The repair teams throughout the city have finally finished their secondary safety tests, and the teams at the Generatorium report they are ready to fire her up again. - That means we will get environmental controls again, void shields, lights, vox contact with Secundus, everything! - If we are lucky we will even get the Primus Machine Spirit back online to aid us in assessing damage and directing repairs and defences”.

With a mischievous smile, Norrington chewed lightly on his fat lho stick. “By the Eye, it's about time!”, he said, following the younger officer back into the Nex Spensa.

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Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 04 April 2012 - 09:52 PM.

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#40
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Just as the lights came back on throughout Hive Primus, Adramalech opened his eyes atop the crystalline slab of rock he used as a bed. He had overexerted himself in weakening the shielding around the the Fort of the Snow Leopard, and as a result he had been forced to retreat into his command-tent. Both it and the psy-conducting slab of crystalline rock he rested upon, had been brought into the tunnels beyond the main cavern, via teleportation. As had most of the tent-city that currently served as the primary Chaos force's base of operations. - Moving things about had become so much easier with the Imperials no longer challenging them in orbit.

In the middle of the large tent was a beautifully ornate table, full of maps and notes on troop movements, objectives and how to achieve them; but also notes on possible obstacles, and how to counteract them. Late in the evening the day before, if the subterranean world of Nestir V could be said to have such things, he had learned from his trusted acolyte Yana Orkan, that three Hrud envoys had asked to meet with their divine lord and master.

Adramalech had granted their request, and from the three creatures, he had learned that a prophet of the Hrud had returned to the their people as foretold in ancient stories, and that this event was threatening to cause a civil war within the Hrud nation. Though he hadn't let it show, Adramalech had been exhausted at the time, and his mind had been so distracted by the task of breaking open the Fort of the Snow Leopard, that he had dismissed the whole report as exaggerated and unimportant. He was certain the whole thing was something as simple as religious fervour and a political struggle for a shift in power among the Hrud elders. The Hrud worshipped the Chaos Lord as a prophet and a god in his own right, that is how he was able to control them so effectively, and naturally that didn't sit well with certain factions of power within the Hrud nation.

Angered by what the Hrud envoys had said, he had told them to spread the word to all his loyal Hrud Warriors, that there was no prophet, nor any god for the Hrud, if it was not Adramalech, and that he would rain down destruction upon them if the usurpers and false prophets of the Hrud weren't destroyed immediately. Too tired to bother with the issue any further, Adramalech had ordered the Hrud envoys to stop bothering him and to instead increase their efforts in tracking down the thieves that stole his sabre's twin blade, YirrikZhai.

That was nearly eighteen hours in the past however, and it felt like an eternity. Now that he was rested and at ease again however, he wondered if he hadn't been a bit hasty in dismissing the notion of a religious and political shift within the subterranean Hrud nation. Without their support, he would loose his foothold in the Eternal Night of Nestir V's Underworld and the consequences could be catastrophic. A civil war amongst his Hrud allies may weaken his martial power as well, maybe even twofold if he was forced to make war upon the Hrud and the Imperials alike.

The Imperial Fleet would return, of that there was no doubt, and when that happened Adramalech's forces would need a strong ground base in addition to the orbital base of operations they already had. With that thought, Adramalech threw away his fur covers and got to his feet, covering his pale flesh in a heavy red and black robe that used to belong to some sort of leader among the Word Bearers. He contemplated putting his armour back on, but decided against it for the moment, and instead went to get some breakfast from a tray on a nearby table. - Outside his tent, he knew, the careful work of rigging the cavern with explosives continued tirelessly, but it would yet be days before the work was completed.

Sitting down at his planning table, breakfast in hand, Adramalech poured over his plans and reports from throughout the whole of Nestir V. Given their success in driving the major Imperial players out, he would have to consult his Captains on whether or not to try and retake one of the planet's two Hive Cities. - On further contemplation though, Adramalech thought that Hive Secundus was too intact, so taking it would be too costly at this point of the campaign. Hive Primus on the other hand was a bit too damaged to be of any real strategic value, so rather than going fully after the cities, he thought it far better to continue using their already secure underground facilities as operational bases for now.

Even so, he had already ordered another bomb raid against Hive Secundus. The last such raid had been unsuccessful due to the city's aerial defences and the strong airwing that the Imperial Fleet had left behind there. To counteract that happening this time, Adramalech had ordered the use of orbital bombardment in the opening phases of the bombing raid. If executed correctly, this would deny the city's defensive airwing their ability to launch a counter attack against the Hell Blades and Hell Talons bombing the city.

These raids would keep the Imperials down and on the defensive while his own forces continued their work throughout Nestir V, and they would also weaken the defences of the cities in case they needed to conquer them later. - Even so, while Secundus would be shaken and the Imperials there would be kept under the heel of the Chaos war machine, Adramalech doubted that Secundus' voids shields would be broken in any serious way. Then again, there was no point in destroying the city, as there was no doubt that he would succeed in retrieving the Snow Globe now that he had taken the Snow Leopard Machine Spirit.

At this point it was merely a question of time before he could release his true essence upon the material universe again and return to his full potential. When that happened, the Imperials wouldn't stand a chance, whether they had a fleet in orbit or not; so it would be better to focus his army's efforts towards getting the Fort of the Snow Leopard open, and on retrieving the Snow Globe. - Yes, Adtamalech thought. It would be better to save the hive cities as future bases for resources. Within them lay future slaves, worshippers and the potential for even further resource extraction and refinement, once the war had been won.

For now though, the possibility of a Hrud civil war breaking out had begun to trouble the Chaos Lord. He hoped the problem would resolve itself, but knew that a Hrud civil war may pose a real threat to his position and power. He would need to order the two subterranean tent cities of his remaining human army to stand too and make ready, as well as to reinforce his alliance with the Eldar Corsairs, and his Chaos Captains.

With that thought, Adramalech got up and started donning his armour. It was time to summon his Captains for a tactical meeting.

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#41
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Holus could hear bells ringing. He opened his eyes and immediately regretted it, as his visual cortex was assaulted by an unbearable whiteness. As quickly as he could, he shut them again and groaned. The ringing stopped and instead turned into a terrible headache. Laying back for a moment more, he dared to open an eye half way and saw nothing but a swinging soup of white light. - Where was he? - Had he been draining fenrisian ale-barrels with the wolves or something insanely foolish like that? - No, he remembered. Snow, snow, snow and even more endless planes of snow. That is what had followed him ever since he had been... What? - He couldn't quite remember anymore. He had been on the bridge of one of the Legio's most powerful battle barges, the Bloodied Scion, then pain and nothing.

He had awoken in the snow on Nestir V. - At least he thought it was Nestir V, though weeks, or maybe even months of walking had lead him through nothing but white snowy lands filled with shimmering crystal and a glass sky flowing with colours; or had it been a gloom. - He was uncertain. Everything seemed so... unreal.

He had been walking and walking, growing ever weaker and more lonely. Then people had appeared, or spirits, or... something. Yet for all his efforts to reach them, they had always slipped away, leaving him alone in the white void, and he had felt his sanity flowing away, like sand from a broken hourglass. - The Eldar!

That is when the Eldar had come. At least he thought the creature was en Eldar of some sort, but he had been stark naked in the cold. - Or had he? - His presence had been fuzzy somehow, unclear and always far away. Besides he had no idea if it really was cold, because he was unable to remove his armour. Or? - Holus reached for his face and felt the touch of clammy, yet warm skin. His armour was gone! - Shocked he bolted upright and immediately regretted it. Feeling nauseous he wanted to throw up, but felt utterly empty and found he was unable to. He crashed down to a laying position again and groaned even louder than before, feeling horrible.

Where and how had his armour gone, and where was he? - Then he remembered. The huge glowing crystal tower of a hive city. - Hive Primus! He had been so sure of it. He had searched it's outskirts for days looking for a way in, and he had found one. He had crawled inside, and then... nothing. - He had to be there now, he thought, and carefully opened his eyes to the bright light of the exterior world again. - Above him, an etherial face of alien beauty swam into focus as he forced himself to continue staring into the light. “Who? Are you?”, he croaked at the face, and was met by a warm smile. “I am Xamanth”, the voice replied, and Holus frowned. “Who?”, he managed again, but was overwhelmed by weakness and his head fell back again, floating, as if on something soft and warm.

“I am Xamanth”, the smiling face said again as Holus felt himself slipping away once more. “You will learn, soon enough”, the voice said, echoing into the distance, as the world once again turned dark and Holus gratefully let himself be embraced by it's nothingness.


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Sitting inside a salvaged Imperial Chimera, in the tunnels just beyond the cavern of the Snow Leopard's Fort, Adramalech opened his eyes. His mental calculations complete, and his daily meditation finally done. - For the last couple of days, Chaos bombing raids had been hitting Hive Primus, as bombers attempted to take down key areas of the hive city. The city's ion cannon, the Altithronus space port, void shield generators, and anti air defences. All this the Chaos forces had done on Adramalech's orders, to force the Imperials of Nestir V to keep their heads down, and to keep them from interfering with Adramalech's primary operations.

Similar air raids had hit Hive Secundus, and as had been reported to the Chaos Lord, the defensive airwings of both cities had been activated on nearly every occasion. The Chaos bombers had been successful in weakening the air defences of the cities, and in spreading terror to their populations, but had achieved little else. The Void shields of the cities had not been broken, as again and again, the Chaos bombers had been driven off. - Yet it mattered not, for their goal had only been to distract and oppress. The main efforts of his forces, Adramalech thought, had been concentrated on strengthening their position in orbit, as well as on this, their most important task.

Over the course of the last eight days they had toiled relentlessly to rig the main chamber of the Snow Leopard's cavern with explosives, then they had worked throughout the last day to pack up and move their equipment out of the main cavern and into the tunnels beyond. Now they were done, and the time had finally come. Having finished todays meditative contemplation, Adramalech had gone over every detail in his mind's eye. Every cord, primer and explosive charge had been controlled. Every minute detail checked and now he was finally ready to face the day's most momentous deed. “Do it!”, he ordered, and Captain Belial Neigorath, servant of the Black Legion nodded in acknowledgement. The Terminator-armour clad veteran wound up the charging mechanism in his lap and casually depressed the ignition button.

At that tiny movement, the earth shook like an Ambull trying to throw it's rider; the world all around them was drowned out in the roar of an ear-deafening crescendo, and the air of the tunnels burned with fire. Beyond the tunnels, a huge chunk of the ceiling caved in and the the main chamber was choked with dust and smoke.

After eight days, Adamalech and his forces had finally broken through the defences of the Snow Leopard's Fort, bringing down tonnes of rock above the fort and effectively cracking a hole in the spherical structure that made up the protective outer shell of the Snow Leopard's housing. - All they had to do now was to clean up, walk in and restart the sector's mightiest machine spirit.

Yes, Adramalech thought. Today was truly a momentous occasion!


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Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 07 April 2012 - 04:54 PM.

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#42
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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A few hours past midnight, Adramalech and his forces had finally cleared the area around the Fort of the Snow Leopard, and it became apparent that the huge white dome surrounding it had been cracked wide open. Carefully, Adramalech and his captains approached the conical structure within, which lay dark and dormant in the ruins of the cavern.

Studying the broken outer shell of the enormous structure, Adramalech could clearly see that it had been constructed, or rather, had been grown, from Eldar Wraithbone. The outside of the protective shell was as smooth as an egg, but inside of the broken shards there was a textured mesh of large hexagons, each perfectly formed around an Eldar rune. - Small wonder that the outer shell had resisted his psychic attempts to break it down, Adramalech thought; or that the Warp was thinner inside the cavern. - Given the Warp technology of the Eldar, the living outer shell might even repair itself over time.

Following in Adramalech's wake, Captain Belial Neigorath, Apoc Everkill and Sauel, the Apostle of Luther, stepped inside the outer barrier of the fort. Each of them had brought a few warriors along, but Adramalech's Word Bearers, and his Ulfenhedner bodyguards were undoubtably the most numerous of the forces. - At Lord Adramalech's request, their remaining forces were waiting within the tunnels beyond the main chamber. - Aedan Radek and Cryus Crom's forces were however not present. They had been tasked with keeping an eye on the fleet, while carrying out bombing raids against the planet's hive cities. - A task they had more than gladly accepted.

When the powerful Chaos leaders finally crossed the fallen gates that lead into the inner courtyard of the fort, they all saw the three golden apples of the McPommum Corporation emblazoned on the inner fort's outer wall. - As a three part Umbrella corporation, each apple represented one of the McPommum Corporation's three separate divisions, and one of these was the subsidiary company: Idun incorporated. - Beneath the huge golden logo were the letters: M.O.S. Gen. 3.5, and below those words again were smaller letters that proclaimed: Shell security: Rev. 6.15.

Upon seeing that golden emblem, memories came unbidden into Adramalech's mind. Some of them were based on his own knowledge. Some of them were the remnant memories of his host body, and some he thought, may well be echoes from the Warp itself. - The golden apples symbolized knowledge, wisdom and a truly ancient Mechanicus organization.

That once so mighty Mechanicus establishment had helped build Hive Cities within all the Nestir systems. They set up Nestir V's wast network of subterranean pumping stations, and had once enjoyed a powerful political hold in all three hive cities of Nestir V. - Thanks to this, the organization also had its fingers in some truly amazing technology. They had been instrumental in setting up the Void Shields and Geo-thermal Plasma Cell Power Stations within the planet's cities, and later they had even been heavily involved in advanced Machine Spirit development, claiming to be using information from rediscovered STC data. During this time they were among those responsible for moving the so called Snow Leopard from an undisclosed location elsewhere in the Imperium of Man, to Nestir V; and in installing it deep beneath the fortress-like Hive Tertius. - Naturally they had not known at the time, that they were not only working with arceotech, but also with xenotech.

They had also experimented with an arceotech stasis ship not much larger than a coffin. A small blue and bronze box capable of sustaining a body in stasis while it's mind was free to roam an imaginary world within. Hooked up to this ship, an individual would experience a long and time consuming journey as much shorter than it really was. This was thanks to that the individual was placed in a form of stasis, and true time was only activated shortly, between long periods of inactivity. - While the world outside would continue on at it's normal pace, the person inside would hardly age at all. Within this ship, a traveller could sleep through the passage of time, suspended to reawaken at a given place and at a given moment. - That had in fact been how his current host body, Jokul, had come to arrive at Nestir V, Adramalech knew. Given sufficient energy, an individual using such stasis technology could in theory reach near immortality.

The promise of immortality is also what the Spiritseer Xamanth of Craftworld Lugganath had used to sway the corrupt officials of Idun into building an advanced machine capable of tapping into the “Lir Rhiantha”, and in so doing, they had rediscovered the Warp Dragon, “Quass Arathinos Cae Angau Braega'in”. This had allowed Xamanth to reawaken the ancient Warp Entity, that was even now, the true source of his power. With his connection to the Lir Rhiantha restored, Xamanth had assassinated the foolish officials of the Idun corporation on Nestir V, and in their stead, he had secretly continued to rule the organization on the planet for quite some time.

During this time, Idun incorporated had even been instrumental in developing the semi-Warb-based, and now illegal dark carrier virus S.V.R.E., that Adramalech had later acquired, stock-piled, and used against the citizens and defenders of Hive Primus.

Guided by an unknown Inquisitor, “Stephanos Exerceo”, the headmaster of the McPommum corporation had however learned about and was shamed by what his officials on Nestir V had done. So under the guidance of the Inquisitor, he had agreed that his organisation would set things right. - After this, the McPommum Corporation at large, had been involved in creating the Warp Slayer Swords Haegl and Isa; known as the Vaul-Swords Yirrik-Zhai and Rillie-Tageth amongst the Eldar. - They had also helped create the inter-dimensional Warp Prison that had trapped the Lir Rhiantha, and Xamanth's spirit. - This prison, nick-named The Snow Globe, held Adramalech's Warp Essence, his Heart of Winter; and it was why he was here now.

That thought snapped Adramalech out of his reverie, and he searched the ruined courtyard of the Snow Leopard's Fort with his eyes, half expecting some sort of defensive army to appear and challenge his presence, but the place was as calm and quiet as a mausoleum.

“Are you gonna be standing around all day, or are we gonna get to it mate?”, a clearly irritated Apoc Everkill asked in a slightly slurred voice. Adramalech whirred around and glowered at him, but quickly turned around again and confidently continued his stride towards the cone shaped main complex of the fort.

Less than a minute later they were standing before the fort's inner gates, but just like the outer gates had been, these too were shut. The gates were divided in the middle, yet unified in the centre by a single relief seal, depicting an ice crystal within a circle. This was the symbol of the Snow Leopard, and of Nestir V. - The huge bronze gates themselves were carved with the relief of two Seraphim facing each-other and holding the snow crystal seal between them. Above the gates was the inscription “Liber de homine liberato, Domini est salus”, and at the bottom of the gates were the letters 15A1 and AH6:2.

Adramalech cursed inwardly again as he remembered the crystal seal formed by the combined pommels of the two sabres Yirrik-Zhai and Rillie-Tageth. In the form of the slayer sword Anthatrill, the two blades could probably have unlocked this place, but without both blades he was lost. Again he cursed the fact that he had learned this tidbit of information too late from Jokul's pathetically weak mind, and he cursed too that the damnable Hrud yet again had stolen that which rightfully should have been his. - He would have to remember to punish them severally for not retrieving YirrikZhai yet.

Even so, once upon a time, those Hrud that had stolen away the Snow Globe from a severally damaged Fort of the Snow Leopard, had found a way in. Granted the place had repaired itself since then, but there may still be some way to duplicate what those pesky creatures had seemingly accomplished with such ease. - Maybe he would find a way in on the roof, Adramalech distractedly thought while studying the large gates of the fort. Out of curiosity, he stepped closer to better examine the snow crystal emblem, but as he did so, a terrible presence sprang into existence before the two gates.

Above him, three enormous, burning seraphim angels suddenly appeared, each with six wings. They covered their faces and their feet, and appeared to be flying. As they hovered above the surprised Chaos Captains who all reached for their weapons, the three angels called out in unison: “We are Seraph, the keeper of the gates, present the key!”. Each in turn they said this. First in High Gothic, then in Eldar Quess, and finally in the terrible language of the Omnissiah. They repeated their request three times, then began chanting, each with different hymns, and each in their own language. - The whole cavern shook at the sound of their voices, and the inner courtyard before the gates seemed to be filled with fire.

Each of the Chaos Captains and all their men instinctively backed away. All of them except Adramalech and Everkill. Adramalech had already seen through the harmless hololithic image for the illusion that it was. Yet he had no idea how Everkill had dared to remain standing before the sudden and quite surprising spectacle, when everyone else instinctively stepped away. - The truth of the matter however was that Everkill was simply too surprised and too curious to retreat before the sight.

Adramalech threw a hand backwards and snapped his fingers, demanding that Rillie-Tageth be delivered to him immediately. “The sword!”, he said impatiently and snapped his fingers again, not taking his eyes off the burning angels to his front. Neigorath, who had carried the sword in a sealed scabbard on his back, quickly went forward and placed the sword into the palm of Adramalech's waiting hand. - Immediately Adramalech's armoured gauntlet began to smoke and hiss with the contact of the Chaos Lord's nemesis weapon, but that did not stop the determined Chaos Lord. Instead he grabbed the sword by the heft of the blade and confidently strode beneath the Seraphim, going straight through their wall of fire. Reaching the gates themselves, he unflinchingly inserted the pommel into the right half of the seal, and spun on the enormous burning monstrosities hovering up above.

Above the courtyard before the fort, the Seraphim seemed to turn their attentions towards Adramalech again, and in unison they suddenly pointed to his lone form before the gates. “Only half the key has been presented”, they loudly proclaimed in all their languages at once. “We will challenge you, and you will authenticate. To fail is to die!”, they thundered. Adramalech's confidence faltered momentarily upon hearing that, and he had to remind himself that it was entirely unlikely for any machine to be powerful enough to actually kill him. - Besides, he had the mind and memories of Jokul at his disposal, one of his main captors, whom he was certain that this type of authentication process was meant for in the first place.

Adramalech braised himself as the first angel asked the first question in High Gothic.
“What is your true name?”, the angel said in a booming thunder of a voice.
Adramalech thought about that for a second, then gave the name of his host body. “Jokul of Frost”, he yelled to be heard over the noise of the angels and the illusion of an inferno. Everkill was the only one to hear that reply, and he raised an eyebrow at the unexpected answer.

“Name the true key!”, the second angel demanded in Eldar Quess; and Adramalech needed no time to think about that one. “Anthatrill, the Frostblade”, he replied in flawless Quess.

“What is the real name of the one imprisoned within?”, the third Seraphim asked, his voice booming out in mighty High Gothic once more. This time Adramalech paused before replying. Uttering a daemon's real-name within the material universe could be dangerous, even if he was tied to that daemon, and even was part of it in some way. - Besides, the daemon was no longer imprisoned here. Then again, Adramalech seriously doubted that these primitive challenge-authentication machine spirits had any knowledge of that. - After all, the main machine spirit, the Snow Leopard, was offline. Taking a deep breath he decided to give his answer.

“Xamanth Shenestra Sistau, Quass Arathinos Cae Angau Braega'in, Adramalech”, he replied. At the utterance of that name, all the fires of the place suddenly died, and the Seraphim faded to nothingness. At Adramalech's back, the ice crystal seal rotated full circle before coming to a halt. Then a series of loud clicks and booming noises echoed throughout the chamber as the huge bronze gates of the Fort of the Snow Leopard unlocked and opened.

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#43
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Igniting torches to light their way through the gloom of the inner fort, the Chaos force prepared to move in. On Adramalech's orders, Saul the Apostle and his men were the only ones that stayed outside to guard the entrance. Everkill had scoffed at the idea, thinking that everyone should stop treating the place like some sort of haunted mansion, insisting that there was nothing else out there that could attack them. - The Imperials were dead after all, the Eldar Webway Portal was inactive, the whole darned Hrud race was nothing but a bunch of cowards, and the cavern beyond was in ruins.

Even so, Captain Belial Neigorath argued that they never knew what might happen. There may be jealous traitors among their rank and file waiting to get them into a confined space before striking. The Eldar Webway may reactivate, or they may need external assistance for something else. The options were many and it was better to be prepared. - Something they all knew to be true. Still, debating for or against leaving a guard force at the entrance was pointless, for it had already been settled. Adramalech had given the order, and for better or worse, he was still the Warmaster of the Black Crusade against Nestir V.

Leading the way into the fort, Adramalech went straight along the main corridor, ignoring all side corridors as they made their way deeper into the main complex. Though they were cautious in their advance, they reached the fort's central chamber in just over a minute and a half, stopping just beyond the main chamber to marvel at what they were seeing. The central chamber, though unlit, was perfectly circular and clearly made out of some sort of glossy white material. The chamber itself was about seventy-five meters in diameter, and it stretched around a centre hole that was at least seventy meters across, surrounded by a railing that seemed to be made out of pure gold. Above them, the chamber stretched upwards in a conical fashion for about a hundred meters, and advancing to lean over the rail, the Chaos Captains could see that the main chamber stretched at least the same length, and in the same way downwards.

The place was relatively dark, as it was lit by nothing more than the torches of it's unwelcome visitors, but the glossy material within the main chamber reflected the light, making it seem brighter. As their eyes adjusted more to the gloom, they could see what appeared to be protruding machines in the depths of the chamber. These same machines were mirrored by identical machines up above, looking somewhat like gigantic anti-grav plating of some sort. The inner wall was also proudly marked by the three golden apples of the McPommum Corporation, and on one wall, huge grey letters proclaimed the place to be: DX Machina 786.

Turning their attention to the inner wall of the main chamber, the Chaos leaders found that four sides of the inner circle held long golden ladders that reached up towards the ceiling. Adramalech searched his memory of the place and found that Jokul had been there before. Gathering his Word Bearer disciples, he ordered them to move into the innermost of the main chamber's surrounding corridors. The corridors would run around the main chamber in concentric circles, and in the innermost circle they would find levers. These levers were the main circuit breakers of the fort, and they were all to be reset to their upright position in order to reactivate the fort's power grid.

From the fleet, Adramalech had also had five scrap-code generators, as well as a handfull Heretechs teleported into the outer tunnels the night before, and lead by Adramalech's personal adjutant, the warrior Yana Orkan, the Word Bearers and Heretechs from the Dark Mechanicus were to set four of these up at key junctures along the circuits of the inner corridor. The last scrap-code generator however, was carried by Adramalech himself, and it was to be set up in the main control chamber at the top of the inner dome.

Bringing Belial Neigorath and Apoc Everkill along, Adramalech started climbing up one of the main chamber's golden ladders, and his Ulfenhedner began climbing with him. - Mumbling, Everkill complained about why the oh so mighty Adramalech, with all his power hadn't just teleported them, or levitated them to the top, but secretly Adramalech dared not employ such risky tactics here, for though mighty as he was, he was still limited, and especially within the Warp shielded walls of the Snow Leopard's Fort. - The truth was that had the mighty gates of the inner fort swung shut, their connection to the Warp would have been nearly entirely cut off, and Adramalech would probably have lost the connection to his host body, freeing Jokul's soul, and fully incarcerating Adramalech within his Prison of Solitude once more. - For a moment, Adramalech regretted not destroying the gates of the fort, but there was no time for that now he thought, as they finally reached the top of the innermost chamber.

Climbing over the lip of the upper walkway, Adramalech stepped off the ladder, and into a circular room surrounded by glass walls. His captains and bodyguards following mere seconds later. The room was filled with cogitator consoles, worn down servitors and dust.
Adramalech's Ulfenhedner followed, and after them came a few of the Heretechs that Adramalech had brought along for tech-support. Reverently handing over the last scrap-code generator to their leader, Adramalech looked upon as the Heretechs seemed to float about the chamber, searching and cataloging. His captains too seemed curious about the place, as did half a dozen servo-skulls that suddenly floated into the large room and started moving about, carefully, like curious cats.

In the dark corridors down below, the party's other Heretechs and Adramalech's Word Bearers were finally set to reactivate the power grid of the place, and so the lead Heretech of the control room set down Adramalech's scrap code generator on a table that one of his mechandrites had taken great care to wipe clean. Opening the small, flat box, it became apparent that the device was a cogitator as well. - In fact it was a top class Murder Cogitator. - In the eyes of the Adeptus Mechanicus, this type of artefact was an abomination abhorred more than most forms of tech employed by the Dark Mechanicus. Even among the Heretechs of the Dark Mechanicus it was highly respected and treated with great care due to it's destructive potential. Yet it was also a necessary device for this particular mission.

In the rest of the control room, the other Heretechs, as well as the servo-skulls had worked with uncanny speed and efficiency to set up a web of cables going between different data outlets and cogitator inputs. Then, from down below, Yana Orkan signalled his team's readiness to reactivate the fort's power grid. On Adramalech's order, the work to corrupt the mighty Machine Spirit Snow Leopard began. If his minions were unable to succeed in this, then he would kill it and extract the secrets he sought from it's ruined digital mind.

In the corridors down below, circuit breakers spat and hissed as they were reactivated and started drawing power from the fort's thermal generators once again. Light came back online, then cogitator screens and a multitude of instrument panels. The Heretechs of the control room took their places in front of cogitators, one driving a long, sharp mechandrite through the skull of a long dead servitor that had died at it's post. Then the main chamber lit up even more, and it's clear white walls began humming as they started cooling down the place in order to keep the main machine's components at the low temperatures needed for it's machine spirit to function within optimum parameters. - Within minutes ice had begun forming on the walls beyond the control chamber, and thick glass doors slid into place, protecting the control chamber from the cold.

In the middle of the control room an elevator suddenly lit up within a large glass tube. A long row of data stacks came alive as enormous data-looms in the vaults below came back online, and one wall lit up with a projection of the system's reboot sequence.

DX Machina 786 - Snow Leopard, it read at first. Then even more words followed:
MS Logis Engine D. 7.6. Rev. 1.14.
Idun McPommum inc. Machina: Gen. 3.5. - Mk. 10.27.
The text filled the screen for several moments, then numbers appeared, counting upwards, before they were replaced by millions of characters flashing by in mere seconds. Then as suddenly as they had appeared, they were replaced by the words: Please input recognition codes to reactivate DX Machina 786, designation Snow Leopard.

The main Heretech with the group squealed something in machine code and all the other Heretech's frantically began working at their respective cogitators. Then they activated the primary scrap-code generator and the thing screamed for a few seconds. On screens throughout the room, the same characters appeared everywhere, then suddenly disappeared. On the main screen, the characters were instead replaced by a greeting: “Welcome Tempus Dominus!”. The Heretechs all squealed, apparently rather pleased with their work, but then quite suddenly, they all stiffened. In the glass enclosed main chamber, the snow white machine, now as slick and glossy as ice began glowing slightly as the hololithic image of a giant Snow Leopard appeared with angry blue eyes. Surrounded by real snow flakes forming in the ice cold chamber, it turned and seemingly looked straight at Adramalech and his followers.

Throughout the complex, oculars turned to regard it's intruders and the Heretech's of the main chamber seemed to go rigid. Their Machine Spirit summoning ritual didn't seem to have gone entierly as planned. Then an alarm sounded and thick metal doors slammed shut throughout the place, while metal shields fell into place all around the glass walls of the control room. Red alarm-lamps started going off, bathing everything in blood red strobes, and all at once Adramalech's Heretechs went slack, falling over. Only the main Heretech remained upright long enough to punch a series of codes into the Murder Cogitator, and the infernal device went to work.

Outside the fort, Saul the Apostle of Luther heard commotion from within and understood that he might be needed inside. He lead his men, weapons raised, through the outer gates and into the complex itself just as the outer gates automatically began closing behind them. The Marines tried to halt the doors from closing, but it was a useless effort, and lead by Saul they instead moved deeper into the fort. What greeted them a mere twenty meters deeper in however, was a wall of steel, as twenty-five Castellan class Imperial robots advanced on their position. A terrible firefight erupted within the walls of the Snow Leopard's Fort, and as the outer gates finally slammed shut, Adramalech felt himself weaken tremendously. He went down on one knee, then fell over and lost consciousness, his Ulfenhedner immediately setting up a perimeter around his fallen body.

Back at Hive Primus and Hive Secundus, hidden defensive ion cannons came online and automatically started tracking targets in orbit. Though much of it had been destroyed, the defensive orbital satellite network of Nestir V also reactivated, as manual control was overridden and the entirety of Nestir V's remaining orbital defensive network opened fire on the Chaos and Eldar Corsair Fleets.

The Snow Leopard had sprung it's trap at last!

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#44
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Out on a night-time scouting patrol, near the Fort of Occasus Niveus Montis, Spymaster Umbra Proeliator and four other Guardian Angels Scouts were trudging up a steep hill covered in deep powdery snow; while up above, the sky was crystal clear and the night stars shone out in stark clarity to light their way. As remnants of laboured breathing, puffs of frost hung in the air for long moments while the scouts made slow but steady progress up the hill, for moving through the icy cold in such deep snow was heavy work.

As the scouts neared the top of the hill, they lowering their stance until finally, when they reached the top, they were crawling through the thick snow. Their white, grey and black camouflage clothing made them almost indistinguishable from the terrain, and as they reached the very top, they halted for a moment to take up surveillance positions and to scout out the lowlands that stretched out before them. It was truly a magnificent sight, and for a fleeting moment the scouts allowed themselves to marvel at the mountainous landscape's starlit majesty.

Then, while there, something else drew their attentions. In the clear night sky several stars were moving at their own accord. Most likely orbiting ships, the scouts concluded and cursed, for if their heat signatures were spotted from orbit, then their position and the position of all the imperials holed up in the mountain fortress of Occasus Niveus Montis may well be compromised. - But the moving dots of lights in the sky weren't at all interested in a few small speaks of heat on Nestir V's otherwise cold surface, for as the scouts looked upon, lance fire struck out between the moving stars, as the Snow Leopard Machine Spirit took control and reactivated Nestir V's orbital defence satellite network. The planet spanning Ai was attacking the Chaos and Eldar Corsair fleets in orbit, and caught completely off guard, the surprised ships were forced to defend themselves against a series of orbital weapons they had initially thought to be under their own control.

Excited with the possibility that this might mean the return of the Imperial Fleet, the Scouts of team Umbra listened in for possible vox chatter, but found none. Even so, the more advanced vox equipment at Fort Occasus may have picked up something, and if so, then they were certain to be gearing up to aid their allies in space. With this thought in mind, Umbra Proeliator and his team quickly began moving back towards the hidden mountain fort. As they moved rapidly back towards the fort's camouflaged gates however, the Lance Fire in the sky fell silent once more.

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#45
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Several hours after the Snow Leopard's attack upon their forces, Adramalech and his Captains were gathered in the Command Tent preparing to leave. The Chaos leaders had just concluded their debriefing, and outside, their forces were packing up, getting ready to leave.

It had taken the forces within the Snow Leopard's Fort nearly half an hour to regain control over the situation within the fort itself. Saul's Chaos Marines and Adramalech's Word Bearers had suffered the worst of the Snow Leopard's attack, as facing off against twenty-five Imperial robots of different classes throughout the fort, as well as inner automated defences, Saul and the Word Bearers had lost nearly two thirds of their forces before finally destroying the last of the enemy. Saul himself has been injured in the battle, but not so badly that he wasn't still standing.

Within the control room of the Snow Leopard's Fort, the other Captains had been trapped behind thick steel doors while the entire complex was filled with poison gas, but wearing power armour and being blessed with Astartes physiques, the poison had not done much to deter their efforts within the chamber. Everkill had in fact relished the buzz it gave him, as he and Captain Belial Neigorath rigged explosives, fired bolter rounds into and ripped apart the thick steel doors that trapped them within the control room.

Adramalech's Ulfenhedner bodyguard had not been as lucky however, as both they and nearly every Heretech within the fort spasmed and died from the poison gas; their nervous system overloaded to the point that muscle spasms broke bones and snapped vertebrae. All of the Ulfenhedner that had joined Adramalech within the fort died gruesome, terrible deaths, and only two of the Heretechs were sufficiently upgraded with mechanical parts not to suffer the same fate. In the end, those two remaining Heretechs had done their job admirably though. The Murder Cogitator they had brought along had continued it's destructive work, disrupting and corrupting the Snow Leopard's mind until it was finally fully under their control.

Though it had taken nearly four hours to accomplish, the Snow Leopard's defences had been defeated and control had been enforced. With its mind corrupted, the Snow Leopard's hololithic image had been corrupted as well. Though it still somewhat resembled a snow leopard, it's heads and hairs as white as snow, it had grown four wings and four heads, its eyes flaming with red fire as decaying code and machine components put it into increasing madness and an ever deepening rampant state.

Excerting control over the mighty Machine Spirit and diving into it's memory banks, the remaining Heretechs had shut down it's planet-wide defences and reopened the Fort's many sealed gates. With this the fort had no longer been cut off from the Warp, and Adramalech had reawakened within the fortress, just as the attacks of the orbital defence network upon the fleet had finally died down and ceased.

The Chaos Fleet in orbit had suffered under the sudden attack, but by chance the fleet of the Eldar Corsairs had taken the heaviest of the damage. - Adramalech's old Eldar Pirate friend Ard-Iadanna had been slain during the battle, and it had been decided that Yana Orkan, who mysteriously had been unaffected by the Snow Leopard's poison gas, would take his place as Admiral of the Eldar Pirate Fleet. Unfortunately however, the Edar fleet had been damaged to such and extent that it was no longer combat effective. Therefore, the Chaos Captains had agreed that Orkan should lead most of the heavily damaged Eldar Corsairs Fleet back to Dannan-Ra for repairs that could not be carried out at Nestir V.

Luckily the surviving Heretechs had not only been able to take control of the Snow Leopard and halt it's defences however. They had also been able to extract the knowledge that Adramalech sought, before the ancient Machine Spirit had finally succumbed to decaying code and rampant madness. In the end the once so great machine had died, but before that, it's surveillance satellites had been able to track the signal of the Snow Globe, and pinpointed it's location to within a hundred meters, deep beneath the long since devastated temple of Mount Kea. The Snow Leopard had even given up the codes and procedures for reopening the Warp energy prison holding the Heart of Winter, and it was made clear once again that Adramalech would need access to the Vaul Sword YirrikZhai.

With this knowledge finally safe at hand, the Captains had returned to Adramalech's command tent and giving the order for the rest of their forces to pack up, before assembling to plan out the rest of their campaign. Adramalech had ordered his Hrud allies to stop at nothing in their god given task of tracking down and returning YirrikZhai and the thieves that had stolen it. - Adramalech's remaining Ulfenhedner bodyguards had clearly been upset with the brutal loss of their kin within the Fort of the Snow Leopard, but even so they remained loyal and had offered to join the Hrud in their search for their god's mighty weapon. Adramalech had refused this request however, telling them instead that he would be returning to the surface of Nestir V, and that they would be joining him. Alongside Hrud guides they would once more transverse the tunnels of the Deeper Dark and Nestir V's subterranean Promethium sea. - Though they would take a longer route back to the surface than the one they had used to reach the fort of the Snow Leopard, Adramalech would use his mighty powers to get them faster topside again, and expected that it would take less than a month to walk the distance.

Adramalech's Captains would go where his own planet-bound form could not, as they would teleport out and return to their remaining fleet in orbit. There they would continue working towards further strengthen their orbital superiority by rigging weapons on many of the gigantic rocks that made up Nestir V's asteroid belt. In order to fulfil their final goals they would also need to reach the Mount Kea Temple ruins however, meaning they would begin the work of tearing Mount Kea open with orbital bombardments, explosives and digging equipment. Following the opening phases of this operation, the Chaos Forces would then begin landing their approximately 4000 remaining human troops on Mount Kea, where they would set up a base of operations and prepare the place for huge drilling rigs. - This also meant raiding Imperial settlements for the digging equipment and slaves they would need to complete their plan; a plan that both Aedan Radek and Cryus Crom alike, relished with uncanny bloodlust.

With this plan being executed, Adramalech ordered his men to destroy the dead Snow Leopards now useless subterranean fort with explosives, and to booby trap it's ruined remains. Adramalech's Heretechs and his Captains both grumbled at his orders, obviously not pleased by this turn of events, but he had taken them this far and so they once again carried out his orders. The Fort of the Snow Leopard was rigged with explosives and set to detonate.

With this work complete, Adramalech left the huge cavern of the Snow Leopard alongside his Ulfenhedner bodyguards and Hrud guides, heading back out into the tunnels of the Deeper Dark and Nestir V's Underworld. In the meantime, his Chaos Captains withdrew back to the outskirts of the cavern's outer tunnels, before teleporting back to the Chaos Fleet. Shortly after this, all the Chaos forces had been withdrawn from the area and powerful explosive charges detonated, destroying the Fort of the Snow Leopard once and for all.

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#46
Chaptermaster Graymantle

Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Three days after the destruction of the Fort of the Snow Leopard, Spymaster Umbra Proeliator was once again out on a scouting patrol near the plains of Ocassus Noveo Montis. With him were the scout specialists Soner, Advivo, Venandiel, Lembos and the marksman Obel. For the last couple of weeks they had been on many hunting and scouting trips, for they had discovered many dead Yeti amongst the amazingly beautiful landscape of sharp, jagged mountains and deep, snowy valleys. The shaggy beasts had all died from affixation during the arch-enemy's earlier burning of the Promethium fields, and thanks to the cold, the flesh of the beasts was still fresh. This meant that the scouts out of Occasus Niveus Montis had been able to supplement the rations of the forces holed up at the mountain fort, but even so, they were running low on food and supplies.

The Imperial Fleet had better return soon, Proeliator thought as he reached the top of a particularly high cliffside and halted to catch his breath. Snow crystals had caught in his beard as he breathed, while his red-glassed snow-goggles reflected an amazing vista from the vide valley that stretched out hundreds of meters below his position. The rest of his figure, and that of the Scouts forming up around him, were largely hidden beneath layers upon layers of cold weather clothing and camouflage overalls. Even their backpacks were covered in snow camouflage covers, while their heads were hidden behind balaclavas and fur-lined hoods protecting them from the harsh mountain winds and the microscopic icy shards those winds carried.

This was their eighth hunting trip this week, as they had been forced further and further from the main complex in search of their game. Earlier in the day they had parked and camouflaged their snow-bikes near the bottom of the mountain to take to higher ground, and luckily things had gone smoothly. - Not like a few days back when they had almost been dragged under by an avalanche, or that other time, when the only thing that had saved them from a long and deadly fall into a ravine, had been the safety-rope they were tied together with.

“Beautiful!”, Advivo said as he took up a stance next to the patrol leader. In the distance the sun was getting close to setting, and golden streaks were beginning to show in the sky as it's rays hit the atmosphere. “Yes”, Umbra agreed distractedly, looking at a safe mountain wall that stretched out to his right, then at the steep drop to their front. There was no way they could make it down in the dark, so it was time to think about halting for the night. “I think we should move in between those walls over there and dig a hole”, Umbra said for the whole team to hear. “Set up camp already?”, Soner jested with a sly smile. “Where's your sense of adventure man? - We've only been out here for fourteen hours”.

“You not tired yet? - Want some more adventure?”, Umbra asked with a sly grin of his own as he unslung his telescopic shovel and threw it over for Soner to catch. “You can start by digging a hole for our tent”. Soner looked hurt. “Bring those two along”, Umbra said, indicating Venandiel and Lembos. “Their turn!”, Advivo agreed with a nod. “As for me”, he said with dreamy eyes as he gazed out over the horizon, “I'm looking forward to some nice warm tea”. Umbra smiled at that, but just then, a flash lit up the sky in the distance, and many miles away a thin needle of light stretched down from the heavens to strike the snowy top of a far distant mountain. Then another needle of light appeared, then another, and another. Then came the thunder.

Obel hefted his sniper rifle as all the scouts halted what they were doing and stared towards the distant spectacle. Looking through his sniper scope, Obel adjusted his optics and searched the horizon for long moments until Umbra finally couldn't bear to wait any longer. “Well?”, he asked, but Obel didn't lift his gaze to look at his comrades; instead he just kept studying the scene. “Repetitive orbital lance strikes against Mount Kea”, he said. “All at the same target from the looks of it”, he continued and shifted his scope again.
“We should go back and warn the others at Ocassus”, Lembos said, but Umbra simply shook his head. “No”, he said. “We would be at too much of a risk going back down the mountain in the dark. We will stay here and observe, then report back at first light”. With their experienced leader's mind set and his orders given, the scouts got to work again and set up their camp for the night.

Several hours later, Umbra himself was on post alongside Obel. The two were both watching the continual bombardment in the distance, while the rest of the scouts were resting up within their half buried tent. They had even risked a small fire at the bottom of a frost pit within the buried tent, so Umbra was enjoying a bit of warm, sweet tea out of a thermos, while Obel was chewing some nuts to keep his jaw from freezing. Morning was coming fast now, but the orbital bombardment had continued throughout the night. It was almost as if though the Chaos forces were trying to blow a hole straight through Mount Kea, Umbra thought as he continued to observe. Then, just as morning light began hitting the snow below, and the scout team began stirring within their tent again, the distant bombardment finally ceased and Obel indicated that he could see flyers far off in the distance. Through their scopes, the scouts could see the enemy moving into the bombarded area, where they continued to unload thousands of small dots that could only be troops. Mount Kea was supposedly empty, but even so it was being invaded. “Why?”, Umbra wondered as he got to his feet, feeling the stiffness of his body and the cold get to him after staying so long on post.

“What in the Emperor's name are they doing down there?”, Obel wondered out loud as he too got back to his feet. “I don't know, but we have to report back on our findings”, Umbra said, turning to the rest of the scouts who had already packed up.

“Come on, time to go!”

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Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 14 April 2012 - 10:43 PM.

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#47
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Four days after the Chaos forces displayed the power of their orbital superiority upon Mount Kea and landed more than four thousand human troops there, another set of troops were busy restoring order in Hive Primus. These were Commander Norrington's men from the Imperial Guard and Nestir V's new planetary defence forces. With help from Nestir V's civilian government and an ever increasing number of volunteering citizens, they continued to rebuild the devastated city's defences, for it had become clear over the past weeks, that the Chaos forces were going to continue harassing them with bombing raids. In the last few days those raids had increased in frequency, and ever since the city's machine spirit had disappeared just over a week earlier, they had been forced to conduct a lot more of their own surveillance work, as well as being forced to operate the city's heavy aerial defences largely by hand.

It had been strange how concealed ion cannons had come alive within the city to open fire into open space a week back, but ever since then, those same defences had stopped dead. - It was as if though the city's machine spirit itself had died, Norrington thought as he strolled the battlements higher up in the devastated Imperial city. The city may be in shambles he knew, but at least it was still there, and in Imperial hands to boot. Even so, they would need reinforcements soon, for though the Imperial headquarters of the Planetary Governor and the PDF in the city's underhive was as safe as it could get, Max Volo's air force had suffered tremendously in the last few days, loosing many more men than expected, and as a consequence, Chaos bombers had even begun to reach the city itself with their payloads. The repaired Void shields were holding for now, but they were on the fritz Norrington knew, and once they went down, there would be no stopping a Chaos invasion.

Hive Secundus was doing far better. The enemy was hitting them too, but they hadn't gone through the destruction that Primus had. Their equipment was still intact, they had more people, and those people had better moral. At least Primus now had an open vox link with Secundus again, curtesy of only the Emperor knew how many miles of copper land-lines, Norrington thought. He stopped and sighed as he looked out at the traces of destruction reaching away across the snowy plaines beyond Hive Primus' protective walls. If only there had been a way to evacuate to Secundus, he thought. But that would not happen any time soon, if at all, he knew. They were all alone now, a small island in a frozen sea filled with evil predators ready to strip their flesh from their bones and to rob them of their very souls.

As he stood there the city's air raid klaxons suddenly sounded again, and Norrington rolled his eyes in despair. It had been less than two hours since the last air raid, and now they would all have to run for shelter again while their gunnery crews and pilots scrambled to get their defences ready. As expected, a vox unit on Norrington's back sparked to life, and moving rapidly towards his nearby Tauros command vehicle he answered it. “Yes, yes HQ! I know, it's another air raid”, he said into the vox transmitter as he boarded his waiting command car, his driver immediately going full throttle for the exit ramp. “It's not only that sir”, the reply crackled back at him, and Norrington froze in his seat. “It's the Imperial Fleet sir. - They're back!”.

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