I came across this short piece while cleaning up my Google Drive. It could certainly use some editing, but I figured I would drop it here for anyone to read through and enjoy. Cheers.
Death of a Dream
Our dreams died with our brothers upon the black sands of Istvaan V. Our hopes for a bright future heralded by the Emperor’s rule died when the universe went mad and our brothers betrayed us. Even if we survive the physical wounds and scars we were given on that thrice-damned world, we will never recover from this. The galaxy is consumed by a war sparked by pride, arrogance, and treachery on the greatest scale, and never again shall this universe know peace. Yet as long as I stand, I will fight this treachery. Thus is the vow of Shasdrael, Morlock of the Iron Hands, and son of the Gorgon of Medusa.
I remember the battle as if it had occurred yesterday. As it is, I am no longer sure how long it has been since that fateful day. I have been in the nauseating, time-altering realm of the warp for so long, I do not known if my warplate’s internal chrono is still functioning properly or not. It says that it has been a mere week since the massacre, yet that simply cannot be true… But no matter.
For over two centuries, I have fought alongside my father as a Morlock, one of his chosen elite warriors. We strike hard and with neither pity nor remorse, grinding xenos, renegades, and traitors to the Emperor beneath the merciless steel of our boots. In all things, we aspire to be like the Gorgon, the strongest and most loyal of all the Emperor’s sons. Of course, he is gone now, and a legion has lost its father. However, all of us emulated him. His hands, his wondrous hands, encased in living silver, were what inspired us to enhance ourselves with iron and steel, strengthening us beyond even our brothers. I have numerous minor enhancements myself, but nothing on the scale of some of my brethren, who are by now more man than machine; some by choice, and others by cold, practical necessity. To some in the legion, it was a source of worry that their brothers would choose to defile their flesh to such a degree, but most of those naysayers died along with those they mistrusted, so what does it matter anymore?
I served with honor in numerous campaigns, so I reacted with great pride when I found out that I was to fight alongside the forces of seven other legions in bringing the treasonous Warmaster Horus to heel in the Istvaan system. My father’s rage at his brothers’ betrayal spread to the ranks, and we were all eager for the retribution that was sure to come. What naïve fools we were, thinking that the Warmaster would be so easily outmaneuvered… When the time came, my legion, along with those of the Salamanders and Raven Guard, was assigned to the primary assault on Horus’s fortress. I remember well my father’s last parting words to his sons. He told us that we were the Emperor’s chosen warriors, his champions in silver and black. That we were the ones that would purge the galaxy in his name, free of fear or mercy for our foes. That we would be the Imperium’s salvation. These words were spoken to each of the Gorgon’s sons via countless vox-relays onboard the Ferrum. It was with these words ringing in our ears that wave after wave of Thunderhawks and Stormbirds deployed into Istvaan V’s tumultuous skies, escorted by countless Xiphon Interceptors.
My squadron consisted of ten other Morlocks, led by the honorable Medeon, an Iron Father. Of my squadron, I had only ever fought beside Medeon and the Morlocks Revion and Torvos before. The others were new to me, veterans of a dozen battlefield hurriedly gathered together into a cohesive fighting force. This was repeated across the entirety of the Iron Hands battleforce. The Thunderhawk Iron’s Wrath, modified to transport both a full squad of Adeptus Astartes Terminators and a Land Raider Phobos, carried us to the dreary world below us. As we came screaming into the skies of the Urgall Depression (oh, that bloody piece of wasteland!), we heard the voice of our pilot, Veteran-Brother Falek. With a note of vexation and some strain clear in his voice, he informed us that we would have to land away from the rest of the Iron Hands formation. The port engine of the Thunderhawk had become clogged with black ash, and causing the engine to stall in its entirety. Falek, to his credit, managed to land the stricken ship safely several kilometers from our assigned landing position, successfully dropping off our Land Raider, Foe’s Bane, in the process.
Iron Father Medeon was quick to take stock of our situation and, forming up our warriors, was quick to get the squadron heading into combat in the Land Raider (whose crew had stayed in the vehicle during the atmospheric entry to minimize the time needed for deployment). The leviathan was driven by Brother-Veteran Sorvos, and the mighty tank-slaying lascannon sponsons were guided by Brother Lenthus. As we were enroute to the site of Horus’s fortress, the globe-spanning vox-relay cut out, rending our communication with the main battleforce mute. Prior to that moment, reports had been flowing in (some contradictory, but mostly in favor of the loyalist retribution force): that Horus’s forces were retreating, that the Red Angel had been forced to flee the battlefield, that Angron had been slain by artillery, that Ferrus Manus was leading a counterattack against the traitors. It was with grim determination that our force approached the battlefield, but by fate, or luck, or some cosmic joke, our tank’s engine was clogged with the same ash that had downed our Iron’s Wrath. By now, a storm of the black slurry raged around us, and I swear that I saw the screaming faces of my foes raging in the dark miasma surrounding us. We disembarked, and Veteran-Brother Sorvos began repairs.
While we impatiently awaited the continuation of our advance, Alikar spotted a distant group of figures approaching, accompanied by the threatening bulk of an armored vehicle. We trained our devastating arsenal upon the approaching group, waiting with fingers resting lightly upon the triggers of our weaponry. As they approached within fifty meters, the color pattern upon their shoulder guards became evident: black and yellow hazard stripes framing an iron skull. Iron Warriors, then. There were twenty tactical marines, equipped mainly with bolters. However, many were armed with special weapons; Heavy Volkites, Multi Meltas, missile launchers, and even a pair of autocannons. Accompanying them was a weathered Legion Sicaran battle tank. As Medeon strode towards them, his power fist raised in salute, I swallowed a sense of unease. It was right then that I felt a hand grab onto my vambrace. I spun around, my chainfist roaring into life, and nearly vivisected Veteran-Brother Sorvos.
‘Brother’, he spoke, a tremor evident in his voice even through his battle helm, ‘the vox-relay was back online, for a single second. There is no order or cohesion in the forces of the Salamanders, Raven Guard, or Iron Hands. Something is wrong. And worse… There is a report from First Company that the Gorgon is fallen!’
At those world, the putrid skies of Istvaan spun above me. The Gorgon, slain? Such an act was unthinkable, unspeakable! I prepared to berate Sorvos for daring to speak such words, when I heard the ominous ‘clunk-clunk-clunk’ of a Herakles-pattern accelerator autocannon spinning into action. Turning once more, I saw the leader of the Iron Warriors, a centurion by the battered crest topping his helm, observing us, his power sword raised.
‘No’, I screamed, ‘We are not the enemy!’
My words fell on deaf ears, as the centurion swept his sword down and the Sicaran tank opened fire, its guns spitting a hail of rounds at Medeon. Dozens of rounds smashed into the noble warriors, his legs shredded to pieces by the merciless fusillade. Not even Cataphractii plate is any defense against such an attack! As one, we roared our defiance, and opened fire. Five of the Iron Warriors were cut down in a savage fusillade of bolt rounds, plasma, and missiles. The other returned fire, the reason for the surplus of heavy weapons among their warriors blindingly obvious. Brothers Tivus and Morvikael fell, the former’s warplate crushed beyond recognition by a direct hit from a grav-gun, the latter’s eye-piece pierced by a well-placed bolt round that blew his skull to pieces. The Sicaran kept firing, cutting down Brother Obras.
‘Cover me’, snarled Iulus, who stepped from cover with his underslung plasma cannon already glowing.
We covered him as best we could, and three more Iron Warriors fell. Iulus fired three shots into the Sicaran before it tore him to pieces, opening a glowing gap in its frontal armor. His sacrifice was vindicated seconds later, as Brother Lenthus fired the Land Raider’s lascannons into the wounded iron behemoth, which promptly exploded. The was no time to celebrate, as an expertly placed missile from one of the Iron Warriors slew the tank and inadvertently caused the deaths of Brothers Lenthus, Sorvos, and Paseon in the ensuing explosion. A stray bit of metal went through Brother Jurkos’s gorgot, piercing deep into his throat. He fought on, but was swiftly torched by a Heavy Volkite.
‘The Iron Father’, cried Revion, ‘He yet lives! We must reach him, brothers!’
Thus it was that our remaining warriors, numbering only five now, charged our many foes to rescue our leader. Brother Uron was speared through the torso by a lascannon immediately after breaking cover, but slew his attacker and one other in a torrent of rounds from his combi-bolter. A wild volley of missiles from Revion’s cyclone missile launcher forced the remaining foes into cover, and Revion and I made it to Medeon’s prone body. Despite his grievous wounds, he still clung to life, and grunted in agony as we began to drag him back, back into the hell of Istvaan V.
‘Go’, yelled Brother Gedus, who along with Brother Kellik, was the only surviving member of the squadron besides Revion, myself, and Medeon (barely). ‘We will hold them, brothers!’
Before we could even argue, the two brave warriors charged the ten remaining Iron Warriors. Gedus slew three, two with his combi-melta and one with his power fist, before he was brought down by a melta-bearing legionary. Kellik slew another two with his reaper autocannon, before confronting the enemy centurion. The centurion saluted Kellik in the manner of the old legions, with his blade upraised, before launching into a blistering series of attacks that Kellik desperately parried with his power axe. However, he was pitifully outmatched, and after 7 exchanges and twenty-three point six seven seconds, he was decapitated by a particularly vicious backswing. By now, Revion and I were nearly out of sight, dragging our fallen commander with us, his bleeding mercifully ceased due to his body’s Larraman cells. Thus, we left no trackable trace of our presence behind us. It was then that the Iron Warriors centurion spoke, somehow overriding our squad vox channel. His was the last voice I heard on that accursed world.
‘You fought well, Iron Hands’, he said mockingly, ‘I should have brought more brothers with me after all. I am certain we will meet again…’
After the massacre, we somehow stumbled to Iron’s Wrath, which had stayed undetected by the Iron Warriors. After several hours, we launched into orbit. Miraculously, the Raven Guard frigate Final Hope had escaped the guns of the enemy fleets and was hiding in a nearby asteroid formation. As we flew to our salvation, I remembered the words of the centurion, and the news that our father was dead. Seeing the carnage that remained of our fleet in orbit, I knew in my hearts that the news was true.
Thus have I sworn vengeance, upon both the Sons of Iron and the dogs of Chemos. They will pay for their treachery. I will send their souls screaming to their gods. They shall die, burning in the same flames that consumed our hopes, our goals, our dreams. This do I, Alikan Shasdrael, swear.
Edited by Tarvek Val, 30 April 2020 - 06:45 PM.