Gregory’s chest heaved with the exertion of his heart. He lay sprawled on his back, amongst a pile of plastcrete and debris. The dust was prevalent in the air, and his previous brown manufactorum uniform was a fine shade of granite grey. More and more dust was lifted with each passing moment, Throneworld… Terra itself was besieged. Gregory froze from the thought. For hours now, he chanted it as a mantra. This a nightmare, this is a nightmare, this is a nightmare… it cannot possibly be real.
Though real it was. The Warmaster had arrived, and with him came him billions of auxiliaries. Thousands of tanks… hundreds of titans, though most terrifying of all, the angels of death.
The whole hive echoed with the sounds of war. Whistling shells, zipping bullets, the tread of distant titan god-machines. Unless it was within eyesight of your own body, everything seemed to be in a limbo of too-fething-close, and too-fething-far.
Gregory exhaled through his teeth and rolled over. Tilting his head around allowed him a view down the hablocks street. It was difficult to tell the time of day in the hive, but with the city itself ablaze and sieged it was now impossible. He reckoned it was near dusk. Movement behind him saw him jerk and retract his limbs closer to himself, nearly fetal. It was the other workers from his manufactorum, the boys.
Gregory wasn’t an old man by any means, though the other lads teased him and called him gramps by virtue of him surviving to be in his mid 20’s. The hab work was punishing and one small unattentive motion would see a man dead in milliseconds, reduced to mulch. Most of the manufactorum was indentured young boys, too young to be conscripted into the auxilia or navy corps. Those very same young faces looked up at Gregory now, in their overly large brown-grey hab uniforms. Those same young faces with sweaty and dirty cheeks and panicked eyes bored into him for guidance.
“Psst… gramps. Gramps. Gramps!”, one called to him.
Seeing that it was just the lads, Gregory untensed his body, though a cramp in his shoulder signified that his nerves were on very edge of fraying. He did a slashing motion with his other arm, signifying to hush.
“Gramps, what do you see?” whispered, another.
Grergory had half a mind to abandon them, and the other half of his conscious had adopted and embraced his role of protecting the boys. Just as he had done for hours, he mentally prepared himself to just run away, leaving them to their fate, when he heard a noise that halted his decision.
Treads, rumbling armor. Tanks again? Gregory swallowed dry dust and dirt, and inhaled. Rolling back over onto his stomach, he gingerly peeked around the debris. Further up ahead, at the cross section of the hab, he saw the source of the commotion. A leman russ tank, with troops supporting it. The light torches from the soldiers rifles were stabbing pinpricks, swaying and straying on every cranny and corner. One passed over the pile he was hiding behind, and whatever air he had, was flushed out of him as he reeled his head back. Gregory froze and wondered if he had been spotted. He had no time to identify if the tank bore Loyalist markings or otherwise. His musing was interrupted short by sticatto booms. Were they fighting? Was this a case of too-fething-close or too-fething-far this time? Gregory chanced another peep.
The soldiers had dropped to crouch's and were returning las-fire down the street. He heard the stacattoo boom and the leading three men in front of the russ… disappeared. Rifle, helmet, equipment, and human chunks dropped to the plastcrete. The schlopping sound of viscera hitting the ground was definitely a case of too-fething-close. Bolters. Gregory watched as more shots slammed into the tank, and the turret began to rotate. Two more soldiers died in a shower of gore, the last ones retreating to the back of the tank, all sense of fire discipline seeming to have been lost. He noted that the colors of the russ were that of loyalist troops, so what were they…?
Gregory risked exposing more of his head to glance at what was coming for the soldiers. He wished he hadn’t. Giants, monsters. These were astartes, treading forward in an unhurried gait. They wore dark blue plate with heaving armaments on their shoulders and carapace, their colors punctuated by gore and other things besides. As he stared, two of the giants steadied their stance by widening their feet. The boxes upon their backs emptied. Shrieking wails, punctuated by whooshing rockets bolted from them and flew down the hab-block. Gregory flinched as the russ, in perfect mimicry of its fleshy escorts ruptured from within. Black, dark smoke escaped from every possible exit of the tank. There was no more bolter fire, no more las-gun shots, and Gregory stared transfixed at the smoke billowing from the tanks. Were his last nerves abandoning him in this moment, or did he see faces… in the smoke? There was no such thing as an afterlife, or so the schola taught them, but he definitel-Gregory felt his whole body freeze. His eyes shifted back to the giants. They were advancing towards the armored corpse of the tank, or at least four of them were. One of the monsters’ attentions was elsewhere, staring, staring straight at Gregory with bolt-gun trained on him. Though he was many paces away, Gregory now saw in full horror, just what adorned the astartes battle plate. Human… parts, like a strewn collection, adorned the figure. Skin flapped from greaves and pauldrons, a panoply of severed hands and arms hung from belts and straps, and even a head or two suspend on chains. The worst part were the piercing shine of the red eye lenses. Too-fething-close. The giant lowered the bolt-gun and began to stride towards him.
Instincts that had seen him survive the last hellish hours thundered in Gregory’s head. His body acted on its own, and he was on his feet, shoving past the boys as he shouted.
“RUN, RUN NOW.”
Woah boy, been a while huh. So I added yet another 5 terminators to the ranks of the 42nd company. Mobile artillery and defense position busters. These lads were rescues, so their poses wasn't something I had control over. Stay tuned! I also have managed to finish a dreadclaw in my hiatus from posting, though no pictures of it yet. On the workshop table is a tactical/veteran squad... and you will definitely want to stay tuned for that. Later this week, keep an eye out!