In the Ashes of the Thorns
And who are you, the Tyrant said, that I should bend the knee
Twelve high Lords on a far-off world, ‘tis all that I can see
By a gilded seal, or a silver’d one, a Lion has his Claws
And mine are cruel and sharp, my Lords, more cruel and sharp than yours.
The war was brutal and bloody, with countless tales of equal parts valor and dishonor. These stories are too numerous to be told in full here. But even among every engagement throughout the war -- the Fires of Sacristan, the Angstrom Incident, Crow's World, and numerous others -- there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest by the sheer measure of its violence and the gravity of its consequence. I speak, of course, of the final battle, the Siege that ended the War. I speak of the moments after the Tyrant found himself to stand alone among his manse in defiance of the Imperium of a Million Worlds upon his shadowed Throneworld. I speak of the Siege of Badab Primaris, and the Fall of the Palace of Thorns, when Lugft Huron, the Lion of Badab, died, his Claws with him, and something terrifying and black-hearted born into his place.
Long and hard had been the war, and many had already died among the Chapter. Yet more would die before the end. The smoke rising from the south meant that Surraek’s force had encountered the enemy. Most likely he and his charge of the Chapter now numbered among the honored dead, if the reports of the ferocity of the Carcharadon Astra were to be believed.
Bashar Reyne glowered at this realization. This meant that unless the unlikely happened and they were reinforced, or the impossible happened and Surraek had actually survived the assault, he was the ranking officer in this sector. Turning away from the spiked parapet he stood at, he faced his command. Two depleted Tactical Squads lay at his disposal, his own and Cinnebre’s. Not enough. Not nearly enough, he thought. The Sharks had been reaping across Badab for days now, leaving a red wake behind, and they would be here in a matter of hours. The Claws would die here, he knew. There was no escape. Not now. Perhaps years ago, in the early days of the war, there might have been the possibility. But after ten years of fighting those loyal to the High Lords, ten years, brutal and bloody and restless, there was no return. The die had been cast and nought would change the number it showed upon its upward facing, save for the sweet release of death. So here the Astral Claws would make their final stand – upon the surface of their home – and so here they would die, but not before they reaped a terrible price from their attackers.
A feeling came over Bashar Reyne then. Throughout the brutal centuries of his life, from the day he was first chosen to be a Neophyte of the chapter, through his days as a Marine of the Line in Tactical Squad Kherradan, through Veterancy and through his days serving first as a Sergeant, and later the honor of Veteran Sergeant, it was a feeling he had never known throughout war and strife.
Reyne very nearly smiled at this realization, that he had accepted his final fate, but outwardly the grimace upon his face may well have been chiseled from stone from all it showed. A careful observer might have noted a slight shift in his eyes with this thought, but been unable to recognize it. Such a thing requires context, after all, and Bashar Reyne was not a Space Marine known for levity, but rather harshness and ill-compromise.
To his men, only one thing he had to say before the end.
It was a promise, as much it was an order.
As the lights of hive spires began to go out as a wave approaching, heralding the arrival of some great cthonian marine predator, and a deathly silence began to replace the sounds of gunfire in the distance, Bashar Reyne ignited his power maul and awaited his end.
Requiescat in Pace
Veteran Sergeant Bashar Reyne of the Astral Claws
Depicted as he was after taking overall battlefield command after the death of Tyrant's Centurion Surraek, Badab Primaris <urban combat//Zone Mortalis>, 913.M41.
Confirmed KIA. Body found dismembered.
Edited by Soldier of Dorn, 28 October 2017 - 02:06 AM.