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Nestir V AoD Round 4 Battle 1 and 2


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#1
Chaptermaster Graymantle

Chaptermaster Graymantle

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The last month I've gone out of my way to get the AoD written as quickly as I can, writing and doing research every day after work; working through the night more than a few times, and even taking out a few holidays just to work on the AoD (I've asked for more vacation days for the AoD this month too, and got three). This is all due to that we are pressed for time to get the Nestir V AoD done. It has certainly been running for a long time, and it's time to land this behemoth project. - Other people want to use this arena too. <_<

As a result of this work I've gotten 19 stories done in the last month and we are finally on to Round 4.
As we are pressed for time and it seems the AoD is at an all time low in terms of interest however, I won't be asking for votes on match-ups this time. With only 4 characters left and the war balance still standing at 50/50, I figured we could save a bit of time and hassle by letting the cubes of fate decide the fate of Nestir V for this round, so I threw the dice and the following matches came up for round 4:

Lord Hakon Greymane vs. Lord Neigorath
Xavier Crussis vs. Apoc Everkill

Based on the outcome of these battles we will get a victory for one side, or an epic showdown in one last battle. - Only time will tell!

Anyway, as the Imperial Fleet has returned to Nestir V, the epic fleet battle for the ultimate domination of Nestir V continues in these two battles. With both sides having had their resources stretched to the limit, the victor of this one last titanic fleet battle will win the war for Nestir V.
Will Adramalech free himself and regain his power as a god-like greater demon? Will his followers and champions end up in control of the Nestirian sub-sector and become filthy rich in the process? - Or will the Imperials crush their enemies, put a stop to Adramalech's plans and bring Nestir V fully back under Imperial control?

The fate of Nestir V is up to you and the fickle dice gods!

As such I ask that you submit your tactics and trash-talk to me via PM by the end of May 3rd.

Thanks!
CMG

Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 21 May 2012 - 12:19 AM.

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#2
Leonaides

Leonaides

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All time low in terms of interest? I'm already thinking about how to make a marine suitable to enter in the next one!

"most gamers (especially ones who frequent forums) are idiots of one form or another" Great Crusade 08
LPC 2009 LPC 2010  LPC 2011 LPC 2012 LPC 2013 ETL VII
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#3
Chaptermaster Graymantle

Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Ah, well that may be sooner than you think Leonaides! ;)

I'm just not hearing a lot of feedback on the stories or the AoD in general these days, so naturally I figure interest has declined.

Glad to see you're still interested! :rolleyes:

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#4
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Ok, so I figured I would let you guys know that the battles have been rolled and that I'm currently compiling my ideas and writing the stories for these battles and the end of the AoD.

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#5
Brother Cambrius

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Having now finsihed my last ever Essay in the history of my Undergrad. Career, I finally managed to catch up on the stories in recent months and I must say CMG, your loyalty and dedication to the Fate of Nestir V is something worthy of a medal and honorific! :tu: :Elite: :tu: I wish I could have contributed more in recent times, alas Uni work denied. :(

I'm looking forwards to seeing the fates of the final round. If you want some help and input CMG, I'll be glad to help out. :)

Cambrius

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#6
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Thanks Brother Cambrius! - Glad someone still appreciates the Nestir V AoD and the work that goes into it! :(
As for you're offer to help, I'm afraid I was supposed to be done with the AoD now, but I've been slightly delayed. Even so I've written pretty much everything that needs to be written by this point. - Just some small things that still need to be fleshed out and I will be presenting the last stories throughout the week. - Thank's for the offer though! :)

Anyway, here is the intro story for Round 4.
Enjoy!

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"Welcome back!", a familiar voice said, accompanied by the smell of bananas.
General Storm Hawkin Frost opened her eyes to soft light and the sound of beeping. She felt groggy and distant. Focusing was hard as she tried to sit up in the soft bed she rested in, and found that she was too weak to do much of value.
“You should take it easy”, Inquisitor Smith said with a reassuring smile, sitting on a small wooden chair close by. “You are in the infirmary onboard the Gladius class frigate Lux-Pollus. It's one of the Guardian Angels' support craft. There is a major fleet conflict going on, but not to worry, we are a bit beyond the main fighting, and we should be perfectly safe here”. Smith smiled again as he rocked back and forth on his small chair.

Storm gave up trying to sit and just slumped back in bed with a sigh of resignation.
“Are you ok? You look kinda dizzy”, Smith said, and Storm glanced his way trying to focus again. “Your one to speak”, she replied with a weak smile; “Your not even in focus”. Smith laughed. “Tell it to the Concierge!”, he said. They've given you quite the cocktail, but it should wear off shortly. The fact that you're even awake is proof of that.
“Wear off?”, Storm asked looking up at a polished steel ceiling. “No, I'm dying I should say. - Just haven't had the time to get around to it properly yet”.
Smith laughed again and stopped the rocking on his chair to lean towards Storm instead. “You're not dying”, he reassured her in a playfully insistent way.

“Tell me. Do you believe in a life after death?”, Storm asked, blinking at the ceiling above her as things were starting to get a bit more focused.

“Well, that is a complicated question that I do not yet know the answer to”, Smith said. “But what I do know is that I believe in a life before death”. “Thats hardly an argument”, Storm said, and Smith furrowed his brow in confusion. “Its not supposed to be an argument, its a statement!”, he insisted. “Oh!”, Storm replied and tried to shake her head to clear it, but found that all she managed to do was to turn her head and look at Smith again. His visage had cleared a bit, but it was still swimming. “What happened?”, Storm sighed trying to search her memory. “Battle”, she said, remembering. “Underground. - We were, loosing. A demon. Huge. - We were covered in blood and grime and there was dying everywhere. Screaming! Madness! Sacrifice! - I watched you die”. Storm locked her gaze upon Smith again and with an onrush of adrenaline, he suddenly snapped into focus.

“That whole situation? - Nah! It was floccinaucinihilipilificatious”, Smith said looking a bit more serious all of a sudden, though he tried to disguise the sorrow in his eyes.
“That's a bit rich, even coming from you”, Storm said and tried to sit up again.
“I cant help it”, the eccentric Inquisitor answered. “I don't like hospitals. - They give me the creeps”.

“The baby!”, Storm suddenly remembered and sat bolt upright, clutching her belly.
“It's ok”, Smith reassured again, and Storm stared at him, clearly disbelieving his claim.
“Here, let me help you”, Smith said, getting up to help her sit up in bed by tucking a few extra pillows behind her back. “You were affected by the Soul Devourer”, he said while working on the pillows. “We had to resuscitate you and you've been in a coma for over a month”. “As for the child”, Smith continued, sitting back down on his chair and looking straight at Storm. “Well, your unborn child has suffered a soul-tearing. It is a process in which the energy-link to the Immaterium is severed, and it is more common than you'd think. In such cases the person involved becomes a psychic null. A pariah, an untouchable”.

Stom's response to this information was one of utter horror. “Not to worry!”, Smith said, taking Storms hand. “It is perfectly normal. The tearing was not a full one, and most people this happens to go on to become perfectly upstanding Imperial citizens. Usually in special professions for the Inquisition”.

Storm looked angry. “I know all about your precious special professions”, she said, letting go of Smiths hand and leaning back in her bed with her arms crossed before her chest. “No you don't!”, Smith insisted. “They don't all end up as psychotic killer assassins. While socially challenged, some of them go on to respected institutions, like the Brothers of Silence at the Guardian Angels' Silensium for example. They are a dedicated brotherhood of scholars and Warp Guardians that serve at the Blackwall institute. They are a highly respected organization among the Guardain Angels, much like the Librarians of other Chapters”. Storm just looked away, her arms still crossed. “I think we should change the subject”, she said, clearly uncomfortable with the whole idea.

“Ok”, Smith said, letting go of her hand and leaning back in his chair again. “Well, your Inquisitorial Storm Trooper wardens are back”, he said. “Courtesy of one Garl Rugajov of Ordo Hereticus. - Two of them are just outside the door even now”. Storm looked at Smith again and dropped her guard a bit. “What of YirrikZhai?”, she asked, knowing that her precious relic weapon may have been lost forever. “It's right there, next to your bed”, Smith said, indicating a long leather scabbard sitting on a pile of clothing and armour. Clearly freshly washed and folded. Storm sighed in relief and clearly relaxed again. “At least there is some good news”, she said, looking back at Smith again. “I aim to please!”, Smith said, smiling. “And we haven't even gotten started yet! - The night is young, dark and full of lobsters”, he continued with a mock flirtatious wiggling of the eyebrows. Storm couldn't help but chuckle at that and immediately felt better again. Quirky Inquisitor Smith somehow always found a way to make people feel better, even in the darkest of times.

“Fill me in”, she said. “What happened in the last month?”. “Well”, Smith said, looking serious. “The Orbital Defence Satellite Network has fallen and Hive Primus was almost destroyed. The Fleet had to withdraw from Nestir V, and we were trapped on the planet. We lost the Snow Leopard to the enemy, and right now the Imperial Fleet has returned. We were evacuated and currently a titanic fleet conflict is going on to reestablish Imperial dominion over Nestir V”.

“Ok, but how can we even be alive?”, Storm asked. “By all rights we should be dead”.
“Awww, come on! With a dashing hero like me on the case, how can we loose?”, Smith jibed, but Storm was not amused. “The last thing I saw before darkness overtook me was you on your knees”, she said in a tone so serious that it drew Smith back into a serious tone again too. “You were going insane and screaming gibbering phrases of incomprehensible madness while horrid demons swarmed and overran our position”.

Smith just shook his head. “Ok, first of all I wasn't mad”, he began. “My words weren't incomprehensible gibbering phrases of madness, and those weren't demons, they were a xenos race called Hrud. They were swarming our position, yes; yet not to kill us, but rather to save us”. A moments pause stretched out between the two as Storm took the information in, letting her drug rattled mind process it for a second or two. “Seriously, it was the worst rescue eva!”, Smith shot in with loud mocking humour, and Storm was once again reminded that at times she thought the Inquisitor to be utterly mad.

“Worst rescue ever?”, she asked. “Says who?”.“Says me!”, Inquisitor Smith answered with a stern look. “Oh, look who's talking”, she jibed, feeling better again. Better just for being alive. Just because Smith had a way out of anything. “Look, I have a great deal of experience both rescuing and being rescued thank you very much”, Smith said in all seriousness. “I think I know what I'm talking about”.

“So they rescued us?”, Storm asked. “No, actually I rescued us”, Smith answered, looking rather smug. Storm believed him off course, but decided to play along with the asking-game anyway. “What?”, she asked in mock disbelief. “You? - How?”. “Wibbly-wobbly!”, was all Smith said in way of answering, his smug smile creeping ever so slowly upwards while he tried to keep a straight face. Storm looked at him with a mock condescending look filled with boredom to try and let him sweat for a moment. Finally Smith sighed in light hearted resignation and gave in to continue the tale. “By telling them to rescue us”, he finally said.

“Oh, so now they rescued us after all?”, Storm asked in a deliberately exaggerated way.
Smith thought about that for a second, then cocked his head with a sheepish smile. “Yes I guess they did”, he said.

“Wait. - But... how?, why? What did you say to them?” General Storm asked with genuine curiosity in her voice. “I talked purple at them”, Smith answered. “What?”, Storm sounded as if Smith had just said the most appallingly stupid thing she had ever heard. As If she couldn't believe her ears.

Smith smiled that sheepish smile again. “I told them that the golden tunisian whale is the largest hamster above the continent of Ultima Segmentum, and that it comes in seven shades of white”, he concluded. “What? - But that is crazy!”, Storm said waving her hands in excitement.

“No”, Smith answered. “Not crazy at all, but rather a purple gamma level code phrase for Ordo Xenos Inquisitors. - How likely is it that some human would stumble into the subterranean world of Nestir V and randomly sprout those words in fluent Hrud do you think?”. Smith looked truly superior at that, leaning back in his chair, his arms crossed and a huge smile creeping across his face.

“Well if you could have done that all along, then why didn't you do something earlier?”, Storm asked, and Smith suddenly looked serious again. Sad even.
“I did try, a couple of times”, he said. “It didn't work the first times I tried it, but when doom was upon us, it seemed like it wouldn't hurt to try one last time before we were swarmed and devoured whole”.

“Ok!”, Storm said, believing him. “So then, once you had their attention, what did you say next?”. “The sun smells too loud and the antelopes are all screaming at my dinner”, Smith replied, and Storm just blinked at him and looked dumbfounded again. “Never mind!”, she said shaking her head in disbelief. “It is clear I won't get the truth out of you regarding communicating with Hrud, but, what happened to the others?”.

Smith sighed, leaned forward and stared at the floor, looking sad again. “The wise one has fallen”, Smith said, indicating that Captain Amorphous of the Sons of Doom had died. “Justicar Borroleth, Brother-Captain Melxis, Redemptor-Chaplain Sigrdrifa. Even Fir Dinillainn. They all fell to the enemy, as you may well remember”, Smith said, holding a sparkling blue gem up to the light for a moment, before pocketing it again.

“What of Captain Cyprian and the others?”, Storm pressed.
“Well”, Smith said. “While we lost the battle for the Fort of the Snow Leopard and Adramalech's forces triumphantly claimed it for themselves, Unknown to them, we, Legio Captain Cyprian, two of Sigrdrifa's Adepta Sororitas, a young Son of Doom by the name of Praetex Tatus, as well as Apothecary Jolsiam, five Imperial Guardsmen, and three Eldar Guardians were the only ones to be brought out alive from among the entire Imperial strike force”. Smith shook his head in resignation while staring at the floor and remembering the chaos and death of that battle. “After secretly having been captured, or rescued by the Hrud. - However you wish to see it, we were taken to one of the many secret hideouts of the Hrud elder counsel.

In the mean time, a massive aerial battle was fought above and around Hive Secundus. I've later learned that my old friend, Wing Commander Jacqueline P. Harkness, lead the Imperial air defence wing and that they were successful in driving the Chaos aerial forces away from the city. - Even despite that the Chaos forces now held sway over the orbital space of Nestir V”. Storm nodded thoughtfully, recognizing the major feat that the well known Wing Commander had accomplished in doing that. “After that day's events”, Smith continued. “The riots in Hive Secundus finally died down. The population was scared, naturally, but not in a state of extreme panic. As true Imperial citizens, they stood united, and the city remained both intact and strong while its defenders worked hard to secure the city even further. - In the mean time, Wing Commander Max Volo fought his way through enemy fighter squadrons in orbit, to aid and be aided by Hive Primus”.

“Ok”, Storm interrupted. “This is all well and good, but what about our story? What about the others you said were captured by the Hrud?”. “Well”, Smith answered. “The Guardsmen have suffered psychic shock, but have recovered over time. Largely due to my own aid I might add. Unfortunately some of them suffered expedited ageing due to the Hrud presence. - It has something to do with the Hrud physiology, though I'm not certain how it works”, Smith said, looking thoughtful. - “Must remember to investigate that one further”, he mumbled to himself. “Anyway, Cyprian, Jolsiam and myself are the only ones truly back on our feet yet. Praetex would be too, but it seems he will be in need of some heavy bionics work. - As for Cyprian, well, he is currently at a briefing room getting ready for another mission. The rest of the survivors are still here in the infirmary resting up. Some of them in artificially induced comas that will let their wounds heal faster”.
“good to know!”, Storm said, feeling a bit overwhelmed and dizzy again. She decided to rearrange her pillows and to lay back down in bed to stare up at the ceiling. “What else has happened?”.

“Well, after we had been brought to their secret lair, we were caged and treated as captives”, Smith continued. “You were in a coma, others were unconscious. Some were panicking, and there were wounds to attend to. Cyprian, robbed of both his weapons and armour was fuming, but though treated poorly, we had been whisked away in secret and for the time being we were safe. It took me a while to get the situation under control, but some of the Hrud were honourable and remembered why we were there. - I had invoked an ancient agreement between them, the Hrud of Nestir V, and Ordo Xenos. - You see: Ages ago my Ordo had a chance to decimate the Hrud population of Nestir V, but we decided to use them instead. Knowing we could never fully eradicate them, we decided to lord it over them with threats. The Ordo hunted them down, but eventually went into an agreement to spare their lives for an opportunity to call in favours in the future. - That is what my so called mad gibbering was all about. We were to be taken before the elder counsel to see if we truly were who we claimed to be. - Luckily the Hrud have a long memory based on story telling, and they are largely honourable in their agreements.

Unknown to most, they have a large empire beneath the snowy crust of Nestir V. Even so, they pose little threat to the Imperials of the planet, for the Hrud see us as restoring their ancient empire, by draining the Promethium sea from Nestir V, and thus reopening ancient caves, tunnels, caverns and grottos that the Hrud used to occupy as homes. - Basically there are entire cities down there, hidden within thick promethium sludge”. Smith paused again, taking a short break to get a drink of water before continuing.

“Anyhow”, he finally said. “While we waited to see the elders, Adramalech's subjects started collecting equipment and Geneseed from off the dead at the Fort of the Snow Leopard. - I learned about this through a few Hrud spies, and when Adramalech had his supposedly loyal army of Hrud work on this task for him, some of my allies were able to steal away a good portion of the Astartes Gene-Seed that the enemy was extracting. This was hurriedly brought to me in my cell, and I was able to use my Jokaero coat to store it responsibly”.

“Wait!”, Storm said, stopping Smith. “You have an alien made Jokaero coat?”. “Yes!”, Smith answered matter-of-factly. “That you can use for cold storage?”, Storm continued. “Yes”, Smith answered again while nodding. “Isn't that against your Ordo's teachings?”, Storm asked, and Smith looked bothered. “Well”, he said. “Some may claim that it is, while others would say that it is entirely ok. - Do you really think I would let you keep your little Eldar sword, or even work alongside you; or that I would use Jokaero digital weapons, or negotiate an alliance with the Lugganath if I was opposed to such things?”, Smith asked with a sly smile.

“No I guess not”, Storm had to agree, feeling curious to know more. “What else can that coat of your do then?”, she asked, and Smith smiled, looking secretive. “Well”, he said, drawing the word out. “It gives environmental protection, the pockets are, shall we say larger than they appear. It repairs itself, can become a tent, is proof against many types of projectiles, is fireproof, and well, it does a few other things too. - Lets just leave it at that shall we”, he concluded, and Storm nodded in agreement, not wishing to press the issue too far.

“Ok, so you got some of the Hrud working for you”, Storm said in way of summary to get the story going again. “Then what?”.
Smith looked thoughtful for a moment. “Well”, he continued. I just learned this myself while talking to Apothecary Sergio, but the remainder of our troops trapped at the Hive Tertius Ruins learned that we had failed and that the Imperial Fleet was withdrawing from the Nestir V system, so they had to work fast to relocate to the mountain fort we learned about earlier, from Adramalechs captured army element on the Occassus plains. They have largely stayed holed up there until now. - Only a small number of them remained at the dig-site camp at the Hive Tertius Ruins. - But more about that later”. Storm nodded again, but found the story hard to follow. She was still tired, her mind still dulled by drugs, but she indicated for Smith to continue his story anyway, and so he did.

“After a night's uncomfortable sleep in our cages, we were finally brought before the Hrud Elder Counsel. We were brought there for judgement due to the code I shouted during the battle for the Snow Leopard's Fort. Due to my training as an Inquisitor of Ordo Xenos, I was the only one among us who understood what was happening, and the only one tentatively capable of conversing with the strange xenos species. Though I had tried to explain some of what was happening, naturally the others in our small group remained nervous and on their guard. Brother Cyprian, disarmed and un-armoured stood shamed and furious before the gathering, ready to unleash his fury on the xenos at a moment's notice, but he restrained himself because of my presence, and largely also, I suspect, because he remained securely locked in thick chains. The other Astartes were in such bad shape that there was little they could do, and what little strength Apothecary Jolsiam had left in him, he used to care for Brother Praetex and the others, fully trusting in my expertise to handle the situation.

For over an hour I recited an ancient oath that binds the Hrud of Nestir V to Ordo Xenos; a story in which the Ordo spared the Hrud of the planet from extinction, but in which the Hrud in turn would be honour-bound to serve the Ordo when we came to call in on the debt. Naturally, what I said caused quite a bit of turmoil within the Hrud gathering, as I went on to tell them of Adramalech, of the Chaos Forces, the Imperials on Nestir V, and of their current predicament. In turn I learned of how Adramalech had presented himself as a God to the Hrud, as a friend, a hero and a saviour. I learned that there are nearly 370 000 Troglydium Hrudii, spread out over six subterranean cities within Nestir V's underworld, and that out of this number, at least 130 000 Hrud Warriors serve at Adramalech's beck and call”.

Storm looked shocked that such a number of aliens could live in Nestir V, unknown to the Imperial forces there, and that such a number of them could have sided with their demon lord enemy. Smith however didn't seem to notice and simply carried on with his story about what General Storm had missed while in a coma.

As Smith continud his story, Storm learned of how he had exposed Adramalech for a traitor and a demon. Some of the Hrud had been ready to believe him, while others had called him a liar. Some wanted to honour their age old agreement and aid the representative of Ordo Xenos, while others had argued for honouring their agreement with their new god, Adramalech. The debate over what to do had become so heated that it eventually turned into a fight, then into a terrible battle, and before the end of it, a Hrud civil war had erupted.

The Imperial survivors had quickly been escorted away to safety by the veteran guard of the elder counsel, and hidden away from their enemies. Their equipment and weapons had been returned to them, and it had become clear that some of the Hrud were indeed willing to aid the Imperials in their war against Adramalech and the Chaos Forces.

Smith paused in the retelling of what had happened, to get a glass of water again, and to let Storm have some time to mull over his words. Then after a few minutes pause, he returned and sat back down, once more ready to continue the story.

“From our Hrud allies”, he continued. “I learned that with a guide, we would use at least seventy-two days to reach the surface of Nestir V. Being injured, outnumbered and undersupplied, with a comatose general in the party, we realized that it would be a nearly impossible journey, and opted simply to relocate and wait for the Imperial Fleet to return. Guided by our allies we were then taken to a hiding place outside one of the subterranean cities of the Hrud.

From what I have learned later, it was the day after this turmoil that the Imperial Fleet finally finished their Catastrophic Damage Control in deep space. Two days of emergency repairs finally left the fleet able to assess the rest of their damage, and to begin proper repairs while planning the return to Nestir V. In the mean time, the enemy sent a bomb raid against Hive Secundus, but the airwing there was again able to fend the enemy off. Following this attack, an emergency government was put into place within Hive Secundus. This government was however only meant to last until they regained contact with the new Imperial Governor at Hive Primus. - Further, it was nobly decided that the population of Hive Secundus, in spite of suffering attacks themselves, would prepare to aid the Imperial Fleet, should the time come that such aid would be possible”.

Storm seemed more keenly interested in the story by this point. She was interested in what had happened, but her medication still had it's effects, and she still found the story a bit hard to follow. This all meant that she wasn't too keen on having the story diverting away from their own ordeals too much. Hearing about what had happened to the Imperial army as an overall status report was necessary, but for the moment she was more interested in what had happened to her and those closest to her in the underworld of Nestir V. Signalling for Inquisitor Smith to halt the story, she struggled to sit up properly in bed again and looked at Smith with a sigh. “Please”, she said. “I can always read the reports of what happened at the fleet and at the hive cities later, but for now I'm more interested in what happened to us and the survivors of the speartip that we sent to the Snow leopard's Fort”.

Smith nodded in understanding. “I will try and keep the diversions to a minimum”, he smiled. “Some of them are necessary to understand what happened to us, and I do tend to get carried away, but please bear with me”.
“Oh, have a heart!”, Storm said jokingly. “I do! I even have two!”, Smith replied with a sly look, and Storm stared at him to see if he was joking or not. She was just about to say something when the strange Inquisitor held up a finger to silence her. “Before you scream alien, just note that all Astartes have them too”, he said.
“I do. I even have two!”, Storm answered with laughter in her voice. “That rhymes”. Smith looked thoughtful for a moment. “Hm… and so it does”, he said.
Storm thought about pressing him for more information regarding wether or not his claim at having two heart was true or not, but she immediately figured it was not beyond an Inquisitor's power to have a back-up heart installed. - They were individuals of extreme measures for extreme situations after all, and Inquisitor Smith was just eccentric enough that he might have gone through with something like that. She decided to drop the issue and asked Smith to continue the story instead.

Smith nodded with a smile, leaned back in his chair and continued the tale.
“While the fleet was carrying out repairs, the civil war between the Hrud had spread and battles were breaking out throughout the Hrud's subterranean nation”, he continued. “For more than a week we travelled from hiding place to hiding place while the civil war among the Hrud grew. Later I've learned that during this time, Hell Blades and Hell Talons followed Orbital Bombardments against Nestir V's hive cities, but while the cities were shaken, they were not broken. The rest of our spear-tip from Tertius were holed up in the hidden fort of the Occassus mountains”.

Storm demonstratively cleared her voice to indicate that he was going off the main story-line again, and Smith paused himself. “Sorry!”, he said with a sheepish smile. “Its just. Well, you know I'm strongly dedicated to being excited!”, he said. “Right now I'm excited that I can even tell you this story.
“Ok”, Storm nodded. “Just carry on”.

Smith nodded again and looked thoughtful. “Ok, I guess I should skip a bit. Hm... Now where was I? - Ah yes!”. Smith peered down his nose at Storm again, who had gotten fully up to a sitting position in her bed again, her medication obviously wearing off.

“Finally, ten days after our loss at the Fort of the Snow Leopard”, Smith continued. “Captain Cyprian and I were guided back to the Cavern of the Snow Leopard by a pair of Hrud warriors. We snuck back to the outskirts of the cavern, and there, from our hiding place in the ceiling of the gigantic cave, we witnessed and recorded the spectacle of the Chaos forces as they found themselves under attack by the Snow Leopard Machine Spirit's own robotic army”. He noted Storm raise an eyebrow at that.

“We didn't see much, as most of the battle happened inside the fort itself”, he continued. “But I've later learned that the Snow Leopard also took control of Nestir V's orbital defences at that time and seriously damaged the Chaos Fleet in orbit. Following this reconnaissance mission, we returned to our safe-house to mill over what to do next.

The next day we were notified by Hrud Scouts loyal to the Elder Counsel that the Chaos Forces had moved on, and so we all relocated again, returning to the Fort of the Snow Leopard to see what we could learn there. Upon our arrival we found the entirety of the Snow Leopard's once so mighty fort destroyed by explosives and fire. We searched the ruins for hours, looking for tidbits of the mighty machine spirit that might be salvaged and used, but there was next to nothing left”. Smith looked sad and pulled out a small necklace he had made out of old, burned out machine components. It was obviously a sort of reminder to him of how they had failed. He thoughtfully looked at it for a while, then finally put it away again.

He looked at Storm whom seemed much better, more awake, and hungry to know what she had missed while comatose. “Well”, she eventually asked. “What happened next?”.
“Hm...”, Smith said with a sigh. “With the aid of the few surviving Lugganeth Eldar in our party, we were able to reopen the BelahRill Webway Portal and return to Hive Tertius again. The Imperial base there was largely abandoned and naturally we presumed the worst. Luckily though, we found that there was a skeleton crew there still, and based on their accounts we learned about what had become of the rest of the Speartip. We were also certain that the Imperial Fleet would return for us, so we set up in the largely abandoned Imperial base at the Hive Tertius Ruins and waited.

During this time of waiting, we upheld radio silence as not to give away our position. You were still comatose off course”, Smith said looking straight at Storm. “You had gone through an extra rough time in the underworld, with little medical care or nutrition, all the while being hauled around from safe-house to safe-house by Captain Cyprian and Apothecary Jolsiam; but once we were back at the camp site at Tertius, we were finally able to give you and everyone else proper medical care within the Mobile Army Hospital at the Hive Tertius base.

While we decided to stay among the Tertius Ruins, the surviving Lugganeth Eldar decided to use the reopened BelahRill Webway Portal again, and to withdraw to Craftworld Lugganeth. The others in our party wanted to slay them on the spot, put I convinced them that it would only harm our alliance with the Eldar and probably cause us to give up our position. So, we let them go and waited while trying to make the best of the situation. - Naturally there was a lot of worrying, and even more card playing going on during this time”, Smith smiled.

“Anyhow. Three days after leaving us at Hive Tertius, the surviving Eldar finally reached Craftworld Lugganeth again. Shortly after this, our Lugganeth Eldar allies contacted the Imperial Fleet and thanks to their report, the Imperial Fleet learned the truth about the fate of the Imperial forces sent to the Snow Leopard's Fort. They learned that we were camped out at the Hive Tertius Ruins, and that there were still a large number of warriors at Fort Occassus. They also learned that the Chaos Fleet had been damaged by Nestir V's own orbital defence systems and that the Hive Cities were holding their own.

With this knowledge in hand, the Imperials of the fleet redoubled their efforts to return to Nestir V, and within four days the Imperial Fleet did just that, in a spectacularly risky military grade Warp jump. That was earlier today. While the rest of the fleet engaged the enemy in combat, the Guardian Angels sent Thunderhawks to transport us back onboard the Bloodied Scion for a debrief, but on our way there the Scion came under attack and we were rerouted to the Gladius class frigate Lux-Pollus, in the outskirts of the major fleet-battle that is going on all around us even now”. Storm nodded in understanding, looking fully awake again now that she understood their situation.

“The ship we are on is one of the Guardian Angels' support craft”, Smith continued. “It is part of a larger battle group, and currently we are in the infirmary onboard. With access to fully equipped and staffed medical facilities, the medical personnel were able to give you better treatment, and about an hour ago they gave you the medication needed to reawaken you from your coma. - You probably still feel weak, but that will pass”.

Storm nodded and sounded a bit hoarse upon replying. “Well, ok, so now I know what happened, but what can we do?”, she asked just as an orderly came into the room with a tray of soup, pie and some bread.
Smith smiled at the orderly and thanked him for the food. “We are already doing something”, he replied to Storm. “We have launched a counter attack against our enemies, both in space and planet-side. Naturally, our fierce warriors will file our enemies away in a cabinet à la turque. - I hear that practice is all the rage these days. - All you need to do is regain your strength”.

Storm looked at him with something approaching anger at that, but Smith didn't seem overly bothered by the harsh look she sent him. Instead he simply reached for a piece of buttered pie, while the orderly offered Storm a bowl of soup. “Nonsense!”, she said, simply waving the orderly away. “I wouldn't miss this for the world. Give me some stimms. I want to go to the bridge, an observation deck, the ready room, the hangar bay; anywhere but here. I cant stand doing nothing while my allies and soldiers are dying around me. - In the very least I can try to inspire our soldiers, or offer advice to the Imperial Admiral”.

Smith grinned. That's the spirit! He said, imitating a squat dialect, holding his piece of pie up for inspection. “We will serve our enemies a deadly slice of bullet riddled Imperial pie. But first, you will eat your soup”, Smith ordered, and the orderly was more than happy to agree.

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#7
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Captain Alexander Holus of the Legio was exhausted and he felt as if though he was dying. His skin felt icy, as if though he was left naked upon the cold, wind swept plains of Nestir V itself. His hands felt as if though they had been frozen to bare metal in the freezing winter, and his head swam with uncontrollable bursts of memories, dreams and visions. Then there was the strange Eldar. Xamanth. Whenever that lithe creature showed itself, Holus' thoughts would collect and his focus would sharpen. Warmth would start creeping back into his limbs, but the ever present, yet far away feeling of imminent death never left his side.

Xamanth's voice would glide into his thoughts like a warm whisper at his ear. At those times Holus would remember where he was and how he had gotten there. He had no idea how long he had been gone from the Imperial Fleet, but he did remember the battle in space above Nestir V. That frozen ball of ice that had rotated ever so slowly, beneath the fires of war raging above it's surface. Then a bright flash had whisked him away from the bridge of the Bloodied Scion, and darkness had taken him. Upon reawakening, he had found himself lost in frozen wastelands, and he had followed strange creatures he could never catch up with. - Not until Xamanth. That strange Eldar had guided him out of the endless white. Had shown him hills and mountains, before guiding him to a shiny towering city of ice and glowing lights. A majestic Aurora Borealis had played around and throughout that city, and Holus had rejoiced for having found civilization again.

Having returned to what he thought was Hive Primus, he had soon found that the place was not anything that mundane. Warmth had flowed over and through him, Spiritual warmth. He had felt as if though he had been floating within warm liquid and he had been introduced to Xamanth. Every time that enigmatic creature had showed up since then, a strangely etherial face of alien beauty would swim into focus and fill Holus' vision, just as Xamanth's warm voice would fill his head.

From Xamanth he had learned the tragic tale of an Eldar Farseer who had lost everything to the great enemy, and who had shifted his path to become one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful Spirit Seer ever to walk amongst the Eldar race. This he had done to defeat the great enemy and remake his past. He had traveled far and wide, learned all that he could learn and eventually he had even conquered Hell itself, bringing back a part of it to fuel his ambitions. But he had been betrayed by his own and all his allies. He had been cast adrift and left to become that which he hated the most.

Over time the enemy within, his Demonic Heart of Winter, had taken control, until one day he had stopped being Xamanth and had begun being Adramalech. Yet his own kin had forged an alliance against him, and great wars were fought to weaken him, to split his essence and to trap him within an eternal prison. His Cage of Solitude. - And that is where he was trapped still. Too weak to escape, he had been trapped there for at least a thousand years, he and his Warp Dragon. His Demon. His Heart of Winter. Yet something had upset the balance. A crack in the void matrix of the prison. Souls and spirits had leaked in to sustain the great Wyrm and Xamanth himself. They had grown stronger together until the demon could break through, into the world beyond, into the real.

There it had found victims, sometimes willing, sometimes not; until it had come upon a mind powerful enough to serve as a constant vessel. Xamanth had remained helpless to stop it, trapped as he was, and all he could do was whisper words of influence into the demon's mind. Yet it had done little good. Adramalech, free of his prison, yet chained to it and weakened by it, had called allies to his side and set about a plan to truly be free again. Xamanth had tried to instil some measure of leniency in the demon, and had even succeeded to some extent, but was not able to take control in full, as he had in the past, and so the demon roamed free. - Or at least nearly so.

Captain Holus had come to understand the situation, yet he found no real sympathy within his hearts for the creature. Those who dabbled in xenology were always damned. Those who dabbled in the demonic, doubly so. Yet even now Holus found himself forced to witness both those unholy concepts. The Xenos and the Demon. It came to him again, gliding into his mind like a whisper, and that face, that damnable etherial visage of alien beauty filled his vision like the face of an angel, bathed in a luminescent sea of white.

“This place. This place is what is inside”, came the sweet whisper of the voice and Holus felt warmth charging his libs again. “I know”, he distantly answered, half comatose in the sudden and relaxing absence of biting cold.

“I am everybody's fool”, came the whispered voice again, but this time the voice was tinged with a sour undertone that entered Holus' mind like an acidic, searing, biting pain. That jerked him fully awake again, like a nerve laid bare, and Holus felt life filling him once more.

“My spirit is sleeping somewhere cold and I cannot wake up”, Xamanth said, and Holus suddenly remembered clearly again that he too was trapped within the Cage of Solitude, yet Xamanth was trapped even further than that. The alien was trapped within the demonic Heart of Winter and that maelstrom of demonic energy was slowly ripping his spirit apart, devouring it like it had devoured so many other souls in it's quest for power and freedom. Only Xamanth's own powers saved himself and Holus both from being ripped apart by the powerful greater demon.

“I've been sleeping a thousand years or more, never to open my eyes”, Xamanth continued. “I've been living a lie. Convincing myself that I could take ultimate control, yet I'm cold now, running on empty, and there is nothing inside. No soul, no spirit. I have become a thing of the Warp, myself becoming a demon. No breath, no voice, no hearing, no smell, no taste, no feeling, no emotions. Only rage. Blindness has taken me. Trapped in myself, my spirit is a living Hell”.

Holus suddenly felt a pang of sorrow for the creature, and a regret that he himself had been so cold towards the entity that was Xamanth, and for what? Because he was an alien? A demon? - No, Holus realized. Xamanth was none of that. He may believe he had no spirit, no voice and no emotions, but his very presence betrayed the truth. Xamanth was fighting back. He was a fellow warrior trying to defeat evil, and Holus suddenly realized he must help. The creature was keeping him alive for a reason and it was out of more than self-pity.

“You wish me to save you from the nothing you have become?”, Holus asked and for a moment silence engulfed him. Then the answer came, rushing into his mind, filling it with strange thoughts of far gone places and future possibilities, “Yes!”, Xamanth hissed. “Save me from myself. I miss the winter, the howl of the wind, the rain on my skin. Bring me to life. Set me free so that I can set things right.
- I want to die!”

“But that makes no sense”, Holus thought. “You wish me to bring you to life, only so that you may die?”. For a moment silence greeted him again, but then more thoughts flooded his mind and Holus suddenly understood that Xamanth wished to live beyond the Cage of Solitude again. He wished to escape the universe in which the demon reigned in near superiority. To reenter the Real, where he may defeat the Warp Dragon that had stolen his spirit. A task he may only accomplish by sacrificing himself and breaking the demon's link to the Material Universe.

“But how?”, Holus asked. “How do I save you? How do I free you?”.
“Locate the Bionnearan Ra-iok Hasoi Tonesh Carrecenad”, came Xamanth's whispered reply. “The Snow Globe, my Eternal Prison of Solitude”.
“But you are chained to it”, Holus thought. “Should you not be able to locate it yourself?”.
“No”, Xamanth whispered like a distant thought. “I am trapped and it is warded against such entities as me, such entities as Adramalech. - I can not find it, but from the real, Adramalech can. Adramalech has, and Adramalech is making his play for it even now”.
“Yet I remain trapped here too”, Holus said. “How can I be of any more help than you?”.

Yet again silence met Holus' mind. It seemed to last for minutes, but then Xamanth's voice came again. “You are dying! Your body is still in the real, and you are linked to it. I am trapped here, where as you are merely a guest. I have kept your body alive with spirit energy, yet even so you can only last so long Holus of the Legio. When the time comes, the Angel of Death shall arrive. You shall find strength in your brothers and your brothers shall find strength in you. When that time comes, call my name and save me from myself”.

“What do you mean?”, Holus thought. “How can your name save you?”.
“There is power in a name”, Xamanth replied. “It will split the Warp essence and separate spirit from demon”. At those words, Holus' thoughts were filled with the Warp Dragon's true name, as it seared itself into his mind like glowing embers behind his eyelids. So armed with knowledge of the demonic, Holus was gifted with power over it, yet the knowledge burned him and left him feeling nauseous. “Why are you doing this?” he asked aloud, rearing in pain.

“What is better? To be born good? or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?”, Xamanth replied, and Holus suddenly felt exhausted with the effort of the extreme burden thrust upon him, and the forbidden knowledge entrusted to him. With that, Holus closed his eyes and felt himself fade away once again.

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#8
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Deep within the cavernous tunnels of Nestir V's underworld, Adramalech opened his eyes after a short rest. For a moment he had felt as if his consciousness had been divided and as if he had floated away from himself. In this state, a forgotten memory had stirred deep within his mind. Another entity. The memory of his host body's consciousness. He had felt weakened by it and somehow felt a premonition that something more was going on, than he knew nothing about. That was rare, and Adramalech didn't like it, not the least little bit. The feeling had also left him with a sense that his Chaos and Eldar allies were somehow in peril. - Perhaps the Imperials had returned, Adramalech thought. But even if they had, there was nothing he could do about it now. He was set on his path to return from the underworld of Nestir V, and to reemerge on the planet's snowy surface. Until such time that he had walked that distance, he was trapped in the subterranean world surrounding him, with no external contact possible at all.

That thought had awoken him from his trance-like state, and he had found himself sitting in a meditative posture, contemplating the future of his play for freedom. During the war so far, he had lost many of his allies, and he feared more would yet fall, or that his remaining allies would abandon him now that they had uncovered so many riches and was so close to achieving his ultimate goal. - No, Adramalech thought. Most of them had remained loyal so far, and they would remain loyal to the end. If not to him, then to the riches spirited away to Dannan'Ra.

His Chaos warriors and human soldiers were one issue, but the Hrud civil war was something completely different. With his human army close to depleted and his Astartes warrior force severally weakened, he had hoped to lean more heavily on the Hrud for his troop needs, but something had gone astray had he would have to find some way to remedy that. His Eldar allies were naturally still loyal, as always, as were his Ulfenhedner, but their numbers too had been hit hard, and last he had heard the Eldar Corsairs had been forced to withdraw with most of their force due to the unfortunate attack by the Machine Spirit Snow Leopard.
At least the damned machine had given up its secrets before it had been destroyed by the Heretechs, Adramalech thought. It had been a shame to loose it, for it could have been a formidable ally if he could only have convinced it to see the universe as he himself did, but that had not come to pass. Even so he had learned the location of the so called Snow Globe, or the Prison of Solitude as he himself called it. He had even learned that the Eldar called the damnable thing “Bionnearan Ra-iok Hasoi Tonesh Carrecenad”, and that it was based on his own ancient design for the Carrecenad Way Stones. - Or the design of the one he used to be, he thought. Xamanth, the ancient Spiritseer. - That was a long time ago, and he had changed since then. - Now it was nothing but an old memory of an other life in an ancient, and now dead, Eldar civilization. - Though at times those memories still plagued him.

Another ancient thing of the Eldar that plagued him was laying right next to his prone form, hidden in a solid metal sheath and wrapped in thick leather covers as not to hurt him. For hurt him it could. In fact it had been engineered specifically with that purpose in mind. Forged by the Eldar, humans and other races in unison, not only to kill him, but also to eternally destroy him and his very essence, his spirit, his soul. The Warp Slayer Vaul Sword Rillie-Tageth. He hadn't know what it was until he had learned about it from the memories of Jokul, his host body, and he had learned even more secrets about the artefact weapon from the tortured mind of the Snow Leopard. The weapon had a sibling, one called Yirrik-Zhai. It was lost in the Underworld; somewhere in the Deeper Dark. If it hadn't been for that his enemies in the Hrud army had stolen it away, he would have had it in his possession already, but despite their trouble with a civil war, Adramalech was certain that his loyal Hrud warriors would return the sword to him soon enough.

By that time he would probably have reached the surface again, though he had close to four weeks travel time ahead of him still. Once there his allies would have an escort of flyers standing by to pick him up, while his fleet would have defeated the Imperials for good and would have set up perimeter defences to hold any relief force the Imperials could call in at bay, for long enough that they would be able to complete their task. He would travel to Mount Kea, to the ancient temple there, and the resting place of the Prison of Solitude. Once free again, nothing would be able to stop him, but first he needed to get hold of Yirrik-Zhai, for he would need both blades to open the “Bionnearan Ra-iok Hasoi Tonesh Carrecenad” and destroy it for good. From there he would be free to do anything he'd like. Twist the world of Nestir V to his own needs, travel the galaxy, gather an unstoppable army, build his power and wealth, become a god, gain even more power and defeat the one true enemy at last. - Maybe he could even recreate his old family and Empire, he though with a fleeting thought of melancholy, but he quickly pushed those thoughts away. Now was not the time for sad old memories. The future was bright, the possibilities endless, and for those that served him, there would be riches and power in abundance.

Adramalech smiled at that, picked the leather bundled Rillie-Tageth up in one hand and rose to his feet once more. With a single gesture he motioned for his Hrud guides and guardians to follow him again, and the creatures, which had been nearly invisible in the gloom seemed to melt out of the walls themselves to follow him in silence, like shadowy wraiths out of a nightmare. Adramalech payed them no heed. He was completely focused on the task at hand again and had no other thoughts but to get going, and to get free.

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Edited by Chaptermaster Graymantle, 23 May 2012 - 06:42 AM.

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#9
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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In the past few hours, both sides of the war for Nestir V had been hit hard, and for the moment only small skirmishes were being fought throughout the Nestir V system, as both sides reallocated their forces. There was no doubt that the Imperial Fleet had been dealt a serious blow when the Malevolent Spirit destroyed the Divine and decimated the Scion, so with the Bloodied Scion crippled and on fire, and with her starboard weapon batteries out of commission, Imperial High Command had been evacuated to the Space Wolf Strike Cruiser Stormwolf, while the support element of the Guardian Angels' 8th Battle Fleet had been brought in as perimeter guard.

The Stormwolf was not the fleet's largest ship, but she had served as the Imperial Fleet's Flagship before, and as such she was well equipped for the task. Other ships had moved in to support her, and were sending their representatives to her in transport craft as quickly as they could. The Chaos Fleet had already regrouped and was manoeuvring into position once again, so the Imperials would have little time to plan their next moves, and they were all painfully aware that time was of the essence.

Onboard the Space Wolf Strike Cruiser, the Great Hall of meeting was once again filling up with the Crusade's many leaders, including the Dreadought form of Crusade Commander Bannister himself. The hall was not as full, nor as merry as at their last meeting, but despite their losses, many of the Imperial leaders had found their way onboard to plan for the next stage of the fleet battle.

As before, snow-covered pine trees could be seen within the ship's biodome training grounds, while crackling torches and flickering candle-light, lit the Great Hall in a solemn atmosphere that allowed sparkling stars to shine through the overhead glass dome. Bannister had taken up a place near the great hall's huge fireplace, which was lit for the occasion. There was a hushed atmosphere, and even Inquisitor Smith kept quiet as he and General Storm entered through the halls's grand, ornate oak doors.

Inquisitor Rugajov noted the entry of the two prominent figures and the Inquisitorial Storm Trooper guards following them. Glad to finally see the two up and about again, he went over to greet them, just as serfs began milling into the hall with roasted meat and kegs of mead. There may be a food shortage after the loss of the Divine Messenger, but the Space Wolves would not cut back on their hospitality as long as they still had something to serve.

Rugajov and Smith shook hands, and Rugajov smiled at Storm who stood to the side. “Glad to see you again!”, Rugajov proclaimed, genuinely meaning it. “I feared we had lost you at the Snow Leopard's Fort. - You must indulge my curiosity in telling me how you escaped some time”, he said, and Smith nodded, letting go of Rugajov's hand and clasping his own hands tightly behind his back. “I will be sure to do that”, he said, tipping up and down on his toes a couple times. “As for now though, I am sure we will be more than busy hearing the Crusade Commander's plans on how to acquire a lasting victory”.

“We will have a hard time doing that”, Storm interjected, noting the many faces of Imperial leaders from throughout the fleet, and noting also the many that were no longer present. “Hard, yes, but not impossible I assure you”, Rugajov said with a smile. “You are beginning to show a bit my dear”, he noted, “though I dare say you've also lost a bit of weight”. “Yes”, Smith answered. “Our time holed away within the Deeper Dark of Nestir V's Underworld was harsh on us all, and on Storm especially”. Storm looked drawn at that. She didn't like being spoken for, but she had been in a coma until a mere few hours ago, so it was only right that Smith, who knew more about those days, should answer for her. As for Rugajov's other comment, that was her own domain.

“Thank you Inquisitor Rugajov!”, she said, uncontentiously feeling the slight bulge beneath her uniform shirt. “You look a bit fatigued yourself”, she commented, and Rugajov sighed in agreement. “Yes”, he said, nodding. “The last month hasn't exactly been kind onboard the Fleet either. - Not on any of us”. He indicated the rest of the gathering, and the trio's attentions went towards the rest of the room again. Among the polite serfs that entertained the guests, the other gathered leaders had also begun to speak to each other in hushed words of anticipation. The three could see a representative for the Admiral of the Sons of Doom's Fleet, a man none of them had met before. Then there were a handful of Ships Captains, three dozen Imperial Guard officers, as well as the Guardian Angels' Captain Drako and his support staff. From the Legio they saw Incompertus Ferratus of the Astral Ravens, Cruento Manus of the Bloodied Hand, Captain Cyprian of the Infernals, Captain Scriptor Tharxes of the Swords of Orion, and off course Captain Xavier Crussis of the Imperial Fists. Sky Marshal Laertes Aldridge Kiel made an imposing figure next to Crusade Commander Bannister, and they were both talking to the Stormwolf's master himself; Lord Hakon Greymane of the Space Wolves.

“Excuse me, but I need to address the Crusade Commander”, Storm said as she began walking towards the front of the room, leaning heavily on a wooden cane as she did so. “Yes, I believe we all feel that need at this time”, Rugajov agreed, grabbing two glasses of bourbon from a nearby serf, before downing one in a single swallow. Then he and Smith exchanged a glance before they too moved forward to join Storm in her discussion with the Crusade Commander and his Admiral.

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A few minutes later Bannister addressed the gathered officers at last and the place quieted completely as the Crusade Commander's voice rang deep with authority. “Welcome!”, Bannister said, General Storm, Admiral Kiel and the two Inquisitors of the Crusade at his side. “Thank you for coming, all of you!”, Bannister continued. “We have come a long way in this Crusade to decide the fate of Nestir V and the whole of the Nestirian sub-sector. If we fail here today, then the arch enemy will have opened a whole new sector for themselves, and we will not, cannot let that happen. We have lost many and our strength in waning, but the enemy has also lost and we are the Imperium, we serve his majesty the immortal God Emperor of all Mankind, we are stronger than them, and we will not go gently into the night! No, we will go into full blown attack mode and we will unleash Hell! - Today we finish this!”.

With that the whole room exploded in applause and everyone felt uplifted, as if a great burden had been taken off their shoulders. The Crusade Commander believed in victory and so would they all. As the cheers died down again, Crusade Commander Bannister continued. “You honour all of Humanity with your courage and steadfast sense of duty!”, he said. “You have not faltered on the long road we have walked and have no doubt, we are here to win!

To us, warriors of the Imperium all, we do not and will not abandon Nestir V or her people. As we have seen with all those who have gone before us, it matters not whether our war leads to a hero's death, for in the process we are building a glorious victory! This world belongs to the Emperor, to Mankind, and it shall not, will not fall into the hands of the enemy!

My Admiral and all my advisors tell me that ultimately this war will be won here and now, in space, and Admiral Kiel tells me that he and the other Admirals are more than capable of winning this war with our support. - But we still have work to do planetside as well, and as such I have decided that we will begin landing troops again, to support those places we can. Furthermore, the Astartes will continue to support the Fleet action, and as the Admirals are the best at what they do, and I can do no more, I realize that the leader that stays in the rear, takes it in the rear! - Its time I saw some frontline action again!”.

With those words the room started cheering once more. The last time the Crusade Commander had joined directly in the battle for Nestir V, he had destroyed hundreds of enemies, slain a greater demon, freed a large portion of Hive Primus and returned from the dead to lead them all in battle once again. “Capitulus Patria Nostra!”, Bannister roared, and the whole room roared it with him. The Guardian Angels' motto. The Chapter, our fatherland.

“Ok”, Bannister said, again quieting the room with a mighty steel fist. “We are here to win, and here is the plan:

Even now the arch enemy is licking their wounds and regrouping , but it is expected that they will be turning about to come at us again any moment now. If they do not, then we will be going after them. They believe striking the Scion crippled us, but we are still strong, and we will use their false sense of security in the loss of the Scion against them.

Even now the Sons of Doom's Battle Group is chasing off the enemy's Eldar Pirate allies and forcing the Chaos Fleet to regroup. This will ensure that the enemy will be coming at us again. Once this plan is well executed, we will meet the enemy head on with the rest of our fleet as well, and the Sons will split up to aid the rest of us, as well as to guide the ships of the The 44th Autonian Imperial Guard Regiment into geo-stationary orbit above Primus and Tertius. There they will begin unloading supporting troop personnel to the ground war”.

The Admiral's representative from among the Sons nodded with a smug smile playing on his face at that. The Sons may have lost their ground troops, and it had been a sad day to learn that, but they still had a mighty role to play yet, and the support personnel of the Sons would not let Captain Amorphous' sacrifice be in wane.

“My own Company”, Bannister continued, “will be lead by Captain Drako in boarding actions. I will join him onboard our battle group and together we will take the fight to the Steel Dragons' Gladius Class Firgate Flamestorm. The Steel Dragons have allegedly not yet fallen to Chaos, they are merely renegade pirates, and so we hope to be able to recover the Flamestorm for use within the Imperial Fleet itself. - One more ship on our side may yet turn the tide.

From there the Guardian Angels' 8th Battle Group will support the Astral Ravens Battle Barge Falcon of Achilleus, and Legio Captain Incompertus Ferratus in leading Legio warriors in their task to engage the Steel Dragons' Slaughter Class Cruiser Grantos, and the World Eaters Infidel Class Raider Predator of Blood. - A ship believed to have been under the command of one Caenargeon of Zha Hadumm, who was confirmed killed earlier in the Crusade.

Following the success of this action, we will move on to protect the Cetaceus Class Bulk Carrier Dropship Psychopompos while it lands troops at the Kea mountain range and the ice fields surrounding it. In the mean time, Legio Captain Xavier Crussis is to lead his Imperial Fists and Legio Marines onboard the Chaos Devastation Class Cruiser Consultant of Mayhem, then to cripple and crash her into Nestir V's asteroid belt.

Lastly for the war ships, the Malevolent Spirit took down the Divine and crippled the Bloodied Scion. This damned ship is lead by one of the Black Legion's own. A traitorous old Marine by the name of Neigorath, who likes to talk too much during battle. We will make it a priority to take the Malevolent Spirit down, and to complete this task, we will be sending the Stormwolf and Lord Hakon Greymane after her”. At that the Space Wolves all began to growl and howl their joy at the Crusade Commander's choice of battle for them. “Bannister nodded and let them quiet themselves again before continuing. “Greymane will lead the attack and chase after the Malevolent Spirit. Then he will lead the full force of the Wolves onboard her to take her down”.

Finally, The Goldfield Voyager and her support ships, not being true warships, will stay on the sideline near Nestir V. This battle group will be lead by Inquisitor Rugajov and their task will be to picks up survivors and serve as close support and as hospital ships.

The Imperial Guard will be lead by General Storm, Commander Steel, who is currently planetside, and by Inquisitor Smith, who I'm sure will give you all a morale boost”. Bannister stopped to observe the still hurting, but still battle ready General Storm, and finally addressed her. “Do you have any words for your troops before we set to work?”, he asked her, and Storm took a step forward regarding the many Imperial Guard officers, as well as their retinues and bodyguards within the hall.
“Like the Crusade Commander says, we have come a long way”, Storm began. “But we are at the end of days now. We have all seen friends and allies die, but we have held the enemy at bay and we have kept the very maw of Hell closed for the good of the Imperium. We have sacrificed much and we are all exhausted. I know it is much to ask, but I ask you now, not to take a single step backwards, but to die with dignity and honour for the Emperor and more importantly, for Humanity! - Will you take up arms and stand to fight with me one last time?”, Storm yelled, drawing her sword. “To lay your lives low if need be, and to hold the line, against the darkness?”. Faced with that question, the whole room, not only the Guardsmen roared approvingly. “For the Imperium!”, they screamed. “For Humanity! For the Emperor!”.

If the Dreadnought form of the Crusade Commander could have smiled at that moment, he would have done so like the other officers, but instead he simply remained steely eyed and stoic. “I would witness the will to do something great!”, he roared over the din of battle ready warriors. “I would witness the will to do something thought impossible! - The drive to go above and beyond the expected! - And that is what I am witnessing. - it is in you, all of you! - You make me proud, and I know you will walk into the fires of battle and return victorious with the enemy purged! - Now, Go Get'em!”.

+ + + + +

Next up R4B1:
Lord Hakon Greymane vs. Lord Neigorath

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#10
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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An finally, the battle of Lord Hakon Greymane vs. Lord Neigorath is up.

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#11
Neigorath

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Vae victis!

For the dark gods but that was a thrilling read.

Soon, it will be over.

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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.


#12
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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Thank you Neigorath! - And yes, soon it shall be over.
Finally! :)

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#13
Chaptermaster Graymantle

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And now, finally, the last battle of Round 4.

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