The battle on Kiavahr had been going on for seven weeks now with no end in sight. The greenskins were relentless in their advance, but it was not difficult to force them back if they suffered enough losses. If we eliminated a leader there would be a day or so of respite while the xenos worked out who was in charge by fighting amongst themselves, then they’d come at us again. Our 10th Company hindered that process by sniping the likely winner of their brawls before he could cow the others into submission.
My duties lay in the thickest parts of the battle, where stealth and field craft were a moot point. My heavy frame did not lend itself well to them. I have vague memories of a time when I wasn’t entombed in my Contemptor chassis, but they are fading more and more as the centuries pass. From what I have learned in talking to the current Master of Shadows, a young man named Kayvaan Shrike, only Bjorn of the Space Wolves has been confirmed to be older than I.
I had been slumbering away the centuries, nearly forgotten by my own Chapter, when I was awakened by Shrike and Tech-brother Dyloss to assist in repelling the xenos from Deliverance itself and Kiavahr below. They simply called me Honored Eldest, as my name has been lost to both the passage of time and erosion of my own memory. The plate on my front armor that used to display it had been blasted off by some xenos weapon or another millennia ago. What few records there are of my internment in my new shell indicate that it was ordered by the Ravenlord himself for an act of valor that was unspecified in the files. My faulty memory cannot confirm this, but my brothers view it as a source of great honor and treat me accordingly. If it is true I have been entombed in this dreadnought chassis for almost ten thousand years.
Through all of that, I could not shake the feeling that I should not have been where I was.
Deliverance itself was easy to defend from the xenos threat. We had simply lowered the atmosphere shield and watched the greenskins die by the thousands upon being exposed to hard vacuum. My brothers’ power armor kept them from the same fate, and it was short work killing off the handful of the enemy that had the means to survive in vacuum. Kiavahr was proving to be more difficult.
At the beginning of the eighth week of fighting I was reassigned to assist two Tactical squads of the 6th Company and several land speeders of the 7th in digging the orks out of a hole they had found to crawl in. The greenskins had taken up a position in a series of canyons, and it seemed they could learn something of tactics after all. They had backed themselves into a defensible position that only allowed us to approach from straight ahead and constructed ramshackle walls out of vehicles we had previously destroyed. They stationed their crude dreadnoughts out in front of the walls and were daring us to attack, yelling insults and taking the occasional potshot at our position that came nowhere near us. We could have taken the position in a frontal assault, but the inevitable losses to our own forces would have been unacceptable. Geneseed and recruits are hard to come by for the sons of Corax. So, in true Raven Guard fashion, we drew up plans to draw them out into an ambush and eliminate them.
“Eldest,” Sergeant Kassylex said over the vox channel “conceal yourself behind that outcropping while I draw the dreads away from the wall. Hit their flank as they pass your position.”
“Affirmative, brother-sergeant.” I replied. “They will be piles of scrap when I am done.”
“I’d prefer you to kill them, Eldest.” Kassylex shot back sardonically “they are piles of scrap already. Brother Ossola, be ready with your land speeder’s assault cannon on my mark.”
“Acknowledged, Brother-sergeant,” came Brother Ossola’s response “awaiting your signal.”
Sergeant Kassylex gave me several moments to make a show of withdrawing in plain sight of the orks behind the walls. They knew we were there, but could not catch a glimpse of us unless we let them. They gave a ragged cheer upon seeing what they deemed the biggest threat leave the field. Apparently it didn’t occur to them that something as large as myself could spring an ambush. I found an outcropping that shielded me from view and readied myself to attack.
“In position, Brother-sergeant.” I said over my vox.
“Acknowledged, Honored Eldest. We’ll bring you some targets directly.” Kassylex replied “Seven weeks and the greenskins still haven’t worked out how we operate.”
“Perhaps they just don’t care.” Ossola observed
“True enough, Brother.” the sergeant answered “True enough. Enough woolgathering, brothers. Brother Ossola, give their tin cans a strafing run to get them riled up, but don’t stick around for return fire. On my mark. Mark.”
At the final word Brother Ossola’s land speeder engines screamed to life and sent it rocketing toward the enemy line. He quickly left my field of view, but I could hear the roar of his twin-linked assault cannon as he stitched a line across the front of the orks’ clanking behemoths. Naturally, this prompted a reckless charge in pursuit of the withdrawing land speeder and into the jaws of our waiting ambush. As the orks reached our position the tactical squads opened fire from concealment. Their bolters cut down the unarmored ork boys while missile launchers and plasma cannons took their toll on war buggies and dreadnoughts.
I was preparing to enter the fray myself when I caught a flash of….purple? Somehow a group of ork kommandos had flanked us and dropped down on my concealed position from the cliffs above. They were armed with strange looking weapons that resembled nothing so much as a bomb strapped to a stick. It became clear that we had underestimated our foes’ cunning. Of the six kommandos that attacked, four of them died gruesome deaths almost instantly. As my power fist pulped the skull of the fifth, the sixth landed a blow on my hull that detonated his strange bomb-stick The resulting explosion reduced the attacking ork to a blob of green and red viscera, but it served its purpose. I would be out of the fight for a crucial minute or two.
The impact had also jarred loose memories I had thought long gone. In my shock I just stood stock still for a moment trying to process what the suddenly revealed memories meant.
I remembered a battlefield on which I wore armor of a different color.
I remembered seeing the colors of those I called brother through the sights of my bolter.
I remembered staring at my reflection and seeing a face look back that was not my own.
I remembered betrayal.
When I managed to drag my mind back to the present, the first thing I noticed was that the battle was not going well for my “brothers”. The orks were far more cunning than we anticipated and had concealed a great many more of their number in the canyon than we had known. Briefly I wondered how deep my betrayal ran, and if I felt any loyalty to these Marines after my epiphany. I discarded the notion immediately. The Raven Guard had treated me with respect and honor I did not truly deserve for ten millennia. The least I could do to repay that misplaced loyalty was fight by their side, to the end if need be.
After an hour and a half, only Sergeant Kassylex and myself remained. I had run out of ammunition for my assault cannon and was using it as a club for the last hour, and gore completely covered my power fist. Kassylex was gravely wounded and would not live much longer.
“The blame for this disaster lies with me, Honored Eldest.” He ground out through the obvious pain he was in “I should have known better than to assume the enemy was as foolish as they appeared.”
“Negative, Brother-sergeant,” I replied “I should not have hesitated when I did. Had I not, perhaps the battle could have been salvaged.”
“Yes, I noticed that.” the dying sergeant said “Why did you hesitate anyway?”
I thought about it for a few moments and reached a decision. Kassylex was as steadfast and courageous a warrior as I had ever known. He deserved the truth.
“ I remembered my name.” I said flatly, my vox caster lending the statement an even more mechanical timbre than normal.
Kassylex waited expectantly, saying nothing.
“Well?” he finally coughed out.
After a few moments more hesitation I uttered the phrase that I had used so many times in life: “I am Alpharius.”
If I should live another ten millennia I will never forget the look of shock, horror, and betrayal that appeared on Brother-Sergeant Kassylex’s face as his eyes glazed over in death. Once I was Alpha Legion, but those days are long behind me. I don’t recall what my purpose was in infiltrating the Raven Guard all those centuries ago, but I know what my purpose is now. In what time I have left I will seek to atone for the wrongs my brothers perpetrated upon this Chapter. And perhaps if I am lucky, I can find redemption for myself and the Emperor’s forgiveness.
Edited by Realityburn, 03 February 2017 - 10:55 PM.