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Legio Counterstrike Story & Batreps (Part 4)


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#1
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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Round 4:

(Author: Aurelius Rex)

+++

Over the decades the Red Corsairs had become experts at boarding ships. They were renegades, cut off from the Imperial machine, their entire existence dependent on their abilities in this area. Transports taken from merchants and Rogue Traders, Navy destroyers and frigates, even a light cruiser… Tamuk Soto and his band had done more than get by; they had thrived.

But claiming an Astartes Strike-Cruiser was an entirely different matter. The Corsair assault boats and boarding torpedoes closing on the Spear of Justice soon found the wounded, ungainly craft they had expected transformed back into a svelte predator. Those it didn’t leave outmanoeuvred found themselves facing wide-spread bombardment cannon-fire. The occupants of the few Corsair craft not torn open by rhino-sized chunks of shrapnel gave praise to their dark gods as the melta-rings sliced through the hull.

But all they found inside were vengeful, black armoured Angels of Death. The Red Corsairs had committed the worst possible atrocity; they had broken their oaths to their Chapters, and to the Emperor. With bolter, chainsword and ice-cold fury the Corsair boarding parties were isolated, overwhelmed, and given the Emperor’s Mercy.

The Spear of Justice bore down on the flagship of the Red Corsair fleet. A hastily launched wave of boarding torpedoes barely cleared the tubes before they were incinerated – along with much of the Dauntless’ prow - by a salvo of bombardment cannon-fire. The Spear of Justice left the light cruiser burning from stem to stern as it swept past, and powered towards the base.

+++

It was a leap of faith for Golgotha to tightly close his eyes, both bionic and organic, and walk through a seemingly solid rock wall. Inquisitor Holst had been unclear as to if the wall was illusory, real, both or neither, but Golgotha was unnerved to feel a resistance to movement, a bone-deep chill, and the creeping dread that if he stopped, or opened his eyes it would be a path to instant fossilisation.

After what seemed an age, warmth returned to the world. His eyes opened involuntarily to show a passageway ahead of him, curving to the right. Of the Lady Holst there was no sign.

+++

‘These Entities, these ‘K’qpa‘, or‘Keepers’ are the spiders at the centre of a subtle web of corruption and heresy.’ Inquisitor Holst said, settling back in the Captain’s chair as if it was her own. ‘Their motives are alien, often seemingly contradictory, but it is remarkable how often the name ‘Keeper’ is heard during Ordo interrogations of heretics, cultists… and Red Corsairs.

‘Your job will be to act as distraction, Sergeant Golgotha. Your record is full of incidences where you have put yourself in harm’s way so your squad could quietly achieve the objective, well this is the role you will play here.’ If Holst noticed Golgotha’s tensing at the mention of his squad, all now dead on Alcmene, she gave no sign. ‘You may not see me on occasion, but have no doubt, I will be there.’


+++

As he strode down the corridor the floor beneath him shuddered. It must have been a big explosion - Golgotha hoped there would be enough left of the base to let them escape once their mission was complete. Speaking of which, it was time to play the part.

‘Keeper!’ he shouted down the corridor, ‘In the name of the Emperor I challenge you to a duel!’

+++

quisitor. This Keeper. What will we be facing?’

‘They are physically weak. No match for a marine such as yourself. All previous encounters with Keepers suggest that they are secretive, solitary, arrogantly, relying on obfuscation and illusion. Once past the outer barrier there should be no more surprises.’


+++

His challenge was answered by an inhuman chorus of pain and hunger and rage. A creature, on all fours, yet heavily muscled and standing nearly as tall as Golgotha loped down the corridor, trailing plastic feeding tubes and wires. Golgotha did not hesitate in incinerating the creature in a hail of inferno bolts, and taking what seemed to pass for it’s head with a sweep of the Apollyon, but it was only the first of many. So much for them being solitary creatures. There was no sign of this Keeper, so between the bursts of bolter-fire he continued the challenge:

‘What? I am insulted, Keeper! You are not even trying to disguise your lackeys as my Battle Brothers? My family? You are not even trying!’

The flaming bolt-rounds, and his chainsword were taking a bloody toll on the pack, but the creatures seemed oblivious to even the most grievous of wounds. The possibility that these creature were all an illusion crossed his mind, but there was nothing to be gained by not trying to kill them. Eventually the bolter ran dry, and even the Apollyon was twisted from his grip, buried deep in the chest of a creature that still would not die. Cursing, Golgotha was forced to the ground.

Only then did the Keeper reveal itself.

+++

Edited by Aurelius Rex, 01 June 2006 - 06:31 PM.


#2
Aurelius Rex

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Round 4: Hasoroth vs Onyx (Author: Joker. Rolled by Ferrata)

***

The outpost was dying.

Hasaroth quickly jogged through the passageways, making his way back to the extraction point. Golgotha's transmission had been garbled and broken, but the intent had been clear. It was time to go.

Onyx left the command center, the Warmaster's reply to his hail still ringing in his ears. Scanning of the few working security camera feeds had shown him one of the invaders moving alone, and he quickly moved to intercept.

Hasaroth turned the corner into the rubble-strewn corridor. The damage from the bombardment was more extensive here than some of the deeper parts of the base. Illume-strips along the ceiling flickered along its length and exposed power conduits sent intermittent showers of sparks and flashes of light across the narrow passageway. Quickly reflecting on his memory of the base plans shown in the mission briefing, Hasaroth set off.

Onyx waited until the interloper was halfway down the dimly lit passageway before he activated his external speaker. Stepping out of a shadow in the failing light, he laughed. The cold, heartless sound, amplified by his ancient power armor rang off the rockcrete walls, dripping malice.

Hasaroth skidded to a halt, the gyro-systems in his armor automatically compensating for his sudden halt. 50 paces in front of him stood a Traitor. Everything inside him filled with righteous fury. The Night Lord before him was not only an enemy of mankind, but one who had turned his back on the very Emperor Himself, his every breath a travesty to the Throne. In the blink of an eye, Hasaroth had raised his bolter, his thumb activating the targeter's link to his auto senses, and waited for the Traitor to make the first move.

Moving slowly, Onyx began to walk toward the enemy.

Hasaroth took two steps back, centered the sights of his bolter and began to fire. As the retort sounded, Onyx leapt into action. Throwing himself into the air, he flipped his body, planted the soles his armor on the far wall, and bounded back into a run, moving to quickly close the distance between the two combatants. He raised his bolt pistol as he ran, firing.

Streaks of bolt contrails filled the narrow corridor. Caseless rounds exploded in the wall as the revered suits of power armor deflected incoming fire from both marines. Steady, Hasaroth took a deep calming breath and depressed the embedded stud on his power spear. As the weapon hummed to life he fired his last shots before the Traitor would be close enough to engage. Onyx fired a burst from his bolt pistol in the same instant.

Hasaroth's bolts flew true impacting the Night Lord foil in the chest, and knocking him out of the air, only scant paces away. Before he had a chance to advance, the shock of impact also struck Hasaroth. The bolt skipped up his chestplate and tore through the elasti-seal beneath his helmet. The flesh and sinew from the center and left side of his neck was torn away as the mass-reactive projectile continued out the rear of his body.

Pain filled his mind as Hasaroth collapsed against the wall, blood pooling in his helmet. Gasping bubbles, he reached up to release the pressure seal and removed the helmet. The power spear clattered to the floor, forgotten. Pain-killers flooded his body as his advanced immune system fought to deal with the damage. Sagging, Hasaroth half turned to look to look at the traitor lying on the floor.

He was gone.

Onyx stepped up behind the Loyalist, two smoking craters is the chestplate of his armor. He kicked the targeter-equiped bolter from Hasaroth's hand and seized the dying Marine in an iron grasp. Pinned against the wall, Hasaroth could do nothing. Using his body weight to hold the Loyalist in place Onyx reached up and pulled his own helmet off. Dropping it to the floor, he resumed his grip and activated his power sword. He leaned in close to whisper in Hasaroth's ear.

"Child, I remember the Great War, the way the sky burned, the faces of Angels I destroyed. That was 10,000 years ago. You are nothing to me, a puppet of the Corpse. Know this- As you die, your seed dies with you."

In one swift move, Onyx drove the glowing purple sword upwards into Hasaroth's body, the energy surrounding it cutting through sinew, ceramite and bone with equal ease. The motion of the blade carried it through both progenoid glands, both in Hasaroth's chest and his tattered throat.

The last thing Hasaroth heard was the Onyx's quiet chuckle inches from his ear. Black despair filled his soul as the darkness consumed him.

***

Victory to Onyx

Edited by Aurelius Rex, 16 June 2006 - 04:37 PM.


#3
Aurelius Rex

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(Author: Aurelius Rex)

+++

Brother Fautor cycled the airlock and stepped back into the base.

He had wrestled with the decision to return after he had strapped Durus’ into the boarding torpedo next to the unconscious Sergeant Domadeus - the order to evacuate had been categorical - but the mission was incomplete.

Completing the mission was everything to Fautor. He had achieved his own primary mission, the destruction of the defence laser array, with the speed and efficiency demanded of a Castigator, and his secondary mission had been similarly successful. If his new Battle Brothers in the Legio had been as rigorous in their battle-rites as he demanded of himself, then the escape pod and shuttle bay would have been wrecked long before he got there.

The mission was everything, and the destruction of the renegade base was assured. But the larger mission, the one that the Inquisitor and Sergeant Golgotha had undertaken was unfinished. There had been no signal from them in far too long, and Fautor was not about to see such an important mission fail.

The only thing that had held him back was that he seemed to be the last survivor, and to return would have also risked the fates of Domadeus and Durus, but the return of Beyaert had sealed his decision. Beyaert was disgraced and badly injured, but Fautor was superb judge of character, and one look at his mortified, shamefaced expression told him that the Fiery Lion would not be letting his Brothers down again today.

Golgotha had been heading for the sub-levels before communication was cut off. Brother Fautor moved deeper into the devastated base. He would see that the larger mission was successful.

+++

Onyx didn’t know what link there was between the Warmaster and this Inquisitor, but from the prize he had been offered for her capture, and the threats if she escaped or was killed, she must be important to his plans.

Time was running out. Inquisitor Holst and her minder had been caught on security monitors moving into the deepest bowels of the base. Not a place he wanted to have to enter with the base tearing itself apart, even with the amusing diversion of teaching stray Legio whelps the art of close-combat butchery. He suppressed a cackle and pressed on.

Perhaps he would even have time for a little fun with his prey before the Warmaster and his fleet returned.

+++

This was the third exit route that Brother Eshara had found to be impassable. The Lord Dorn could not have asked more of him - he had gone out of his way to recover the body of Brother Ramiel from where he had left him - but it was as if the base itself was conspiring to trap him. The Dorn’s Fist marine shifted the weight of his dead brother on his shoulder, and thought back to the blueprints that he had been shown in the mission briefing.

With a smile borne of inspiration, Eshara moved carefully back down the corridor to the stairwell. If he cut through the sub-levels he could circumvent the worst of the damage in this section. Perhaps he would also be able to re-establish contact with Sergeant Golgotha once he got down there.

+++

With Golgotha pinned down by the mutants, some little more than charred walking corpses, the far wall of the chamber melted away to reveal an inner sanctum, and The Keeper.

This one followed the physical pattern of the others that the Inquisition had uncovered; outwardly frail; humanoid; grey-green skin mottled with age and bulbous head. It’s menagerie of creatures was a disturbing twist though, but Embeth Holst pushed it, and the fate of Sergeant Golgotha from her mind. The Concentration required to cloak herself from view was significant, and she was not about to repeat what had happened the last time she had been in combat, five months ago among the engines of the Divine Hunter.

Feeling her concentration wavering, she wiped the Divine Hunter from her mind. There would be time for that later.

The Keeper was interrogating Golgotha, asking him - through the mouth of one of it’s mutant slaves - how he had found them. Taking advantage of the continued diversion the Sergeant was providing, Embeth carefully moved behind the Keeper, and in a fluid, practiced motion, whipped the skull round and heard it’s flimsy spine crack.

As Embeth expected, the most grievously wounded of the mutants holding Golgotha dropped like puppets with their strings cut. In addition to their ability to corrupt and spread heresy, Inquisitor Ghoyer had posited that they could keep their subjects alive way beyond the bounds of sane physiology. Concentration broken and ignoring the renewed battle between Golgotha and the mutants, Embeth drew her powerknife from it’s sheath to make sure…

The psychic shockwave hit her like a vat of iced water and sent her sprawling to the floor, paralysed. With a sickening crunch of vertebrae The Keeper brought it’s head back to a more normal angle, and hobbled over to her. Embeth desperately tried to lash out mentally, to break the paralysis, even to shroud herself from view, but each attempt was blocked with a contemptuous and dismissive flick of the creature’s wrist.

Trapped inside her unmoving prison of flesh and bone, Embeth could only squirm inwardly as The Keeper ran a gnarled hand over her pregnant belly. The creature wanted her baby.

+++

The figure moved quietly, purposefully through the catacombs. While the marine did not consciously know what he was searching for, the hook at the back of his mind was inexorably drawing him towards the chamber. The Keeper had need of his skills…

+++

Edited by Aurelius Rex, 01 June 2006 - 06:34 PM.


#4
Aurelius Rex

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Round 5:

(Author: Aurelius Rex)

+++

Six weeks before…

There were times when Embeth was barely conscious, but certain phrases stabbed into her brain.

‘… gross violation of protocol…’

‘… misjudgement of youth…‘

‘… straying from the Puritan ideals of our Conclave…’

The blinding spotlights were just one of the methods used in the Star Chamber to isolate and disorientate, but the voices were unmistakably d’Reyes, the Ordo Xenos representative, and the gruff, affronted rumble of Hoeth from Malleus. Given the circumstances she had expected two of the five chairs to be vacant, quietly excluding the Scions of Dorn envoys on this occasion, but for a Quorum there must be a third Inquisitor sitting out there, beyond the lights.

Embeth had been in the Star Chamber many times as an aide to Lord Ehrlich, and as the subject once before, a year ago during her elevation to full Inquisitor. Viktor - Lord Ehrlich - had been a mentor and the closest thing to a father she had ever known, but the look of disappointment and disbelief in his eyes when she had confessed what had happened still haunted her. Was he sitting out there now in silence, seething with anger, or had he sent someone in his stead?

Then came the word that Embeth had been dreading, and unsurprisingly it had come from Hoeth:

Termination.

Despite the psionic inhibitors and fatigue it was as if a dam had broken in her mind. All that had gone before overwhelmed her, from the first spark of forbidden attraction to the awkward, passionate coupling, the disbelief that a pregnancy was even possible, and the loss at his death, and finally the overwhelming protective maternal instinct. No-one was going to hurt her baby.

She opened her mouth to scream, but was cut off by a familiar, authoritative voice of Viktor…


+++

The gravid female had some measure of power, but it was unfocussed, and hardly a challenge to it. The Keeper smiled. Despite all the destruction she had wrought, this might be an opportunity to take a new approach. The male was putting up a spirited performance against his creations, but they would all have to be destroyed anyway, and its catspaw would be here in moments to finish the job. Perhaps the next batch of subjects could be a study in unlocking the potential of the mind.

It stroked a sharpened claw across the stunned female’s swollen belly, and gave what among lesser races might be considered a laugh of triumph. With the careful application of certain mutagens, the unborn would be the first of his new test subjects.

With a start the female broke free of the psychic lock and gripped the clawed wrist. The Keeper looked up into eyes filled with rage and defiance and tears of blood.

The last thing The Keeper heard before its eardrums burst and the flesh was psychically incinerated on the bone was the female screaming that no-one was going to hurt her baby.

+++

With their puppet master dead, the brawny mutants seemed to lose coordination. During the pause, Sergeant Golgotha was finally able to retrieve the Apollyon from the ogryn-like torso one of the creatures and carved his way over to the fallen Inquisitor.

Praise the Throne, the Lady Holst was alive, but unconscious, her breathing shallow but even. With great care, so as not to hurt the baby, Golgotha picked her up. With the Keeper dead the mission was over. The rest of the Kill-team should be taking off to rendezvous with the Spear of Justice by now, and he could not even spare a moment - or a bolt-round - for these pitiable catatonic mutant wretches. He just hoped there was a boarding torpedo left when he got out of the base.

The sharp bark of bolt pistol-fire, the wet sound of detonations inside meat, and a barbaric howl from the curved corridor ahead gave him just enough time to turn, shielding the Inquisitor from the hail of bolt-rounds with his power armoured body.

Golgotha caught a glimpse of black and red armour between the shambling group of mutants. In case it was a Legio Brother he shouted the mission challenge phrase, and still using his body to shield the Inquisitor, levelled the boltgun one-handed on the corridor.

+++

He wasn’t clear on how or why he was down in the catacombs, but the fog that had clouded his thoughts had cleared at last, and he was angry.

The energyfield that surrounded his powerfist crackled smoothly as he brushed aside the mutants that stood in his way. This far into the asteroid there would be little interference from the damn generator to disrupt its operation.

The damn loyalists had sabotaged his base, killed the marines under his command – he could remember that much from his somnambulist wanderings – at least fate had guided Tamuk Soto to a place where he could exact a measure of vengeance.

Blood was going to flow.

+++

Edited by Aurelius Rex, 01 June 2006 - 06:35 PM.


#5
Aurelius Rex

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WIP - Round 5: Eshara vs Onyx (Author: Brother Tyler)

Eshara paused to maintain his footing as the asteroid shook violently. Encumbered by the still unconscious form of Ramiel, his progress was slow. Now, moving through the darkened catacombs of the base, he had to be careful. As the tremors subsided, he resumed his advance. Somewhere nearby, Sergeant Golgotha and the Inquisitor were engaged in deadly combat, fulfilling the final element of the mission. Activating the vox net, Eshara queried, “Brother Sergeant, this is Eshara. I am en route. Can you provide guidance?”

The reply was the unmistakable voice of Golgotha, although he betrayed the exertions of combat, “What is your exact position?”

“I’m not sure. I passed a door with blasphemous marks and turned left at an intersection about two hundred meters back.”

“Go back and take the right hand path. It will go down about two levels, then take the second left passage. You should be here in about two minutes.”

“Brother Sergeant, I have Ramiel. He is unconscious.”

“Then I’ll see you in four minutes. Out.”

+++

Elsewhere in the catacombs, Onyx heard the transmission. The encryption protocols prevented him from discerning the exact conversation, but he was able to triangulate the sources.” With a quiet growl, he set off in pursuit. The inquisitor was nearby and Onyx had to retrieve her for the Warmaster. The Legio Space Marines were of little concern.

+++

Moving as quickly as he was able, Eshara followed his Sergeant’s instructions. Something gnawed at the back of his mind as he progressed, though. Pausing for a moment, he placed Ramiel down at a nook in the tunnel, then back-tracked about twenty meters. Pulling his combat knife from its sheath, he removed a frag grenade from his belt and set up a trap for any unwary pursuers. Something was right here and he didn’t want to be caught unawares from behind. Once completed, he quickly gathered up Ramiel and rejoined his advance on Brother-Sergeant Golgotha’s position.

+++

The Night Lord estimated that he was less than three hundred meters from the location of the Inquisitor. He was nearing one of the Legio lapdogs, so his pace slowed in order to provide stealth. The sudden change of pace was fortunate, for he barely detected the trap on prevented himself from tripping the line. These loyalists were getting more and more tricky and the Long War continued. The Legions loyal to Horus, however, had perfected these tactics long ago and weren’t to be caught so easily. Onyx stepped over the line.

And was thrown violently into the side of the tunnel as a second grenade exploded.

+++

Even as he hated his progress being slowed by another of the base’s defenders, Eshara had to smile at himself. The first grenade had been a decoy, easily detected and avoided. The act of avoiding the trip line, though, would cause the victim to step on the loose slate that held the second grenade’s spoon in place. Once stepped on, the fulcrum of a loose rock lifted the surface of the plate just enough to release the spoon, causing the grenade to explode. Although he doubted very much that anyone in power armour would be injured in the blast, Eshara could always hope that his pursuer was one of the normal pirates that defended the base. Listening intently, he waited to determine whether or not his pursuer still lived.

The eerie laughter echoing down the tunnel told him that he had a fight ahead, or rather behind, him.

+++

Onyx chided himself for his foolishness. The lackeys of the Emperor were indeed becoming more and more clever. That booby trap was a trick that the Night Haunter and Alpharius would have approved. Picking himself up off the floor of the tunnel, he knew that his presence had been given away. Activating the external address speakers, Onyx sent a message to his would-be adversary. The lessons of the Night Haunter had been to use terror as a weapon. As ancient human warmasters had taught, the spirit was of inestimable value in war. When one side lacked that spirit, it lost, even if it outnumbered the other. The Night Haunter had learned this lesson early, and had made it central to the teachings of his Legion. As the Long War continued and the Night Lords fought on even after the treacherous death of their Primarch, the sons of the Conrad Kurze had instilled terror in their enemies.

Though it was said that the Adeptus Astartes had no fear, Onyx knew that could. They were utterly convinced of their superiority, of the blessings of their corpse-Emperor. It was when their superiority was proven wrong that they finally knew fear. Onyx himself had killed scores of the still-loyal Space Marines, and had seen fear in their eyes. Now would be no different. The upstart up ahead probably thought that he had killed a pursuer. Onyx would teach him the error of his ways. The fool had only changed his death from a knife in the back to a death by gutting. Onyx would show him what it meant to face a son of the Night Haunter.

So Onyx laughed. It was a laugh that would inspire dread in any foe, and it reverberated through the tunnel.

And as he laughed, he sprinted down the corridor, weapons ready to eviscerate his foe. He laughed as he ran.

+++

Whoever it was that he had caught, the grenade had apparently done him no harm. Eshara estimated that he was only a few hundred meters from the source of the laughter. Ramiel would only slow him down, so Eshara placed the unconscious battle-brother down, leaning his torso on the wall in order to facilitate retrieval later. Eshara then stepped back up the tunnel a few meters, readying his bolter and chainsword.

There. The figure was barely visible in the gloomy depths of the base, but Eshara could see that he was moving fast. The targeter indicated lock, so Eshara squeezed the trigger. The distinctive report of a bolter being fired sounded in the tunnel.

Onyx heard the bolter fire, but realized that there wasn’t enough room in the tunnel to dodge, and he was moving too quickly to dodge effectively. As the bolt sped toward him, all he could do was twist his body in order to avoid the blow.

The bolt slammed into his left shoulder, penetrating his power armour and exploding. The force of the impact twisted his body around and the explosion pitched him off balance, throwing him to the ground.

Eshara called out on his radio, “Brother Sergeant, I’ve been engaged with one of the traitor Marines.”

Either Golgotha was ignoring the vox net or he was unable to reply. Either way, Eshara felt the urgency of concluding this combat. He carefully aimed in on the figure on the floor and squeezed the trigger again.

Onyx rolled rapidly to the side, coming up to his knees and throwing a grenade in one fluid motion. The bolt impacted harmlessly where he had been moments before, ricocheting off the floor and continuing its path up the tunnel until it detonated in a wall.

Eshara hardly noticed the grenade thrown his way, distracted as he was watching his bolt wasted upon the tunnel. The grenade landing meters in front of him, bouncing off the floor and rolling to his feet. Realizing what it was, Eshara’s combat reflexes kicked in and he leapt back, turning his back to the blast as he compressed into a small silhouette. The frag grenade detonated, throwing shrapnel and rock particles into the air. Though he was peppered by the blast, Eshara’s armour held firm.

The Night Lord had used the grenade to gain time. The moment he released the explosive orb, he launched himself forward.

Eshara knew that he didn’t have a moment to lose. Turning quickly, he sought to reacquire his target. The dust thrown up by the grenade’s explosion, however, obscured his vision. He back-pedaled quickly, seeking to gain more time. His exertions were answered by a mocking challenge, “Yes, fool, run away. Your fear is palpable as you retreat from a son of the Night Haunter.” Eshara answered by firing his bolter, although he doubted that he hit anything.

Suddenly the dark figure emerged from the dust and darkness, running full tilt. The traitor was almost upon him, bolt pistol leveled on his chest as the faint odor of ozone betrayed the charged power weapon in his other hand.

Eshara thumbed the activator on the bolter, spraying the tunnel with deadly bolts. Even as he fired, the renegade’s own pistol answered. The cacophony within the tunnel was deafening, echoing within the catacombs.

Eshara felt a bolt slam into his pauldron, auto-reactive armour compensating for the attack by pushing out. The bolt failed to penetrate entirely, though, and exploded as it was lodged in the ceramite. The force of the blast buckled Eshara’s knees.

The Legio battle brother had the satisfaction of seeing his own bolts, however, hit home. Both had been targeted at the torso, one hitting the upper chest and the other at the upper abdomen. The first exploded in the upper chest as the second hit a little high, striking the solar plexus. As the second bolt exploded, the traitor’s external address speakers, still activated, betrayed the pain suffered in the bolter fire.

Still moving forward even as he was struck by the bolts, Onyx lashed out with his weapon, seeking to take Eshara with him into death. Eshara dove to the ground, though, dodging the deadly attack by the merest fraction as Onyx fell to the ground. Quickly rolling towards his adversary as he again withdrew his combat knife, Eshara used released his bolter and used the free hand to arrest the Night Lord’s wrist. As his knife pressed against the throat of the attacker, Eshara’s leg kicked the bolt pistol from the traitor’s other hand.

The struggles of the renegade subsided, so Eshara punched up roughly with his knife-hand, tearing the helmet from the Night Lord’s head. The face of his opponent was revealed, a countenance that showed the touch of Chaos. Madness was the province of the Dark Powers, and damnation was the destiny of all those who served them. This Night Lord, once one of the loyal defenders of Mankind, had turned to the Lords of Darkness and had fought against his Emperor. Though his mouth and nose were stained with blood, the eyes of the traitor were still defiant.

Though his body was wracked by pain, Onyx’ only thoughts were on his failure. The Warmaster would not be happy. Unable to fight back, Onyx could only look into the eyes of his slayer and sneer, “Damn you!”

Eshara drove the blade of his knife up beneath the chin of the traitor, thrusting through the jaw and penetrating into the brain. The eyes of his opponent opened quickly at the onset of the attack and the body jerked. Then the eyes dulled and the body stopped. Eshara twisted the knife, just to be sure, then withdrew it quickly.

“Brother Sergeant, I have killed my attacker and am again en route.”

“Quit stalling and get in here, Eshara.”

Eshara again lifted Ramiel’s body up, carrying his battle-brother to rejoin their Sergeant.

Victory to Eshara

Edited by Brother Tyler, 14 October 2006 - 12:42 PM.


#6
Aurelius Rex

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WIP - v. Golgotha / Soto duel part 1 (+++ Missing! +++) (By Aurelius)

#7
Aurelius Rex

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(Author: Aurelius Rex)

+++

The impact against the steps to the Keeper’s inner sanctum brought Golgotha sharply back to consciousness. Even the glancing blow from the power fist had caved in his chest plate and re-broken his ribcage. It had barely knitted back from the beating he had taken on Alcmene, and with every breath he could feel the jagged, reinforced shards of bone shifting, tearing him up. Inside his corvus helmet he could taste the familiar, coppery tang of his own blood.

An amplified roar of anger drowned out the rumbling explosions from above. The traitor was on him again, fist raised. The Apollyon’s gyroscopically balanced cutting surfaces whirred to life, and the chainsword rose to block the strike.

A chainsword - even an Apollyon - is just mundane matter, no match for the energy field surrounding a powerfist. Predictably the Apollyon tore itself apart in an expanding cloud of monomolecular shards and whiplashing drive-cable. Even protected by bonded ceramite, Golgotha’s lower left arm was scoured to the state of an anatomical specimen.

Less expected was the effect on the power fist. Perhaps one of the shards caught the power field at a weak point and damaged the mechanism within. Perhaps the reactor above chose that moment to ‘spike‘, or perhaps the Apollyon‘s spirit simply raged against the thing that had destroyed it in a final act of defiance. Whatever the cause, the effect was a catastrophic feedback malfunction which turned the energy field inside out, and reduced the arm inside to a charred stump.

+++

Tamuk Soto channelled all of his anger and hate to block out the shock and agony of losing his arm. It took him a second to realise that in his rage he had been squeezing the trigger of his bolt pistol, and that the magazine was now empty. Before he could stop himself he hurled the useless lump of metal across the cavern, planted a foot on the chest of the unconscious Golgotha, and grabbed at the bolter. If he couldn’t kill Golgotha with his own chainsword, he could at least do it with his bolter.

The grinding heel snapped Golgotha awake once more, and the two marines fought one-handed for control of the weapon. Golgotha twisted it awkwardly to the side, and while Soto was careful to keep it pointed away from him, the bolter still spat out a salvo of inferno rounds.

‘Better… she dies than… is interrogated…’ stuttered Golgotha, giving out a laugh that transformed into a racking cough.

The realisation at what he was saying cut through Soto’s rage. He stumbled back a step and turned to stare at the pyre of bubbling flesh across the room…

+++



Always keep the enemy off-balance. Distract them with flashy diversions while you quietly get the job done. Find out their motivations, and you had them.

That was precisely what Golgotha had done as he put three rounds each through the weaker rear armour of the traitor’s knees, dropping him like a stunned grox.
Golgotha looked over at the burning mutant, and then at the Inquisitor lying off to one side. Masclyne, his old scout sergeant would have been proud.

A message crackled over the comm-net. Eshara had dealt with the renegade that had been stalking him.

“Quit stalling and get in here, Eshara.” he muttered, each word a knife in the chest. It was way past time to leave.

As if to emphasise this sentiment the floor bucked as an explosion in the base above caved in the exit tunnel. When the millions of tons of rocks finally settled, all that was left was the bitter laugh of the incapacitated traitor. They were sealed in, with no hope of escape back to the surface.

+++

#8
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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(Author: Aurelius Rex)

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Blinded by the darkness and dust and deafened the thunder of the collapsing tunnel, Eshara staggered through the catacombs. He had to keep going, to keep ahead of the rockfall, and trust in his innate sense of direction to get him out of this maze, and back to the boarding torpedoes.

The impact of the falling rocks was like being stoned for his failures. He had been too late to get to help Sergeant Golgotha - a fellow son of Rogal Dorn - and the Lady Inquisitor. They must surely be dead now. He had made a promise to himself to return Ramiel's body to his Chapter, but that was broken too. After carrying it for so long he had dropped the corpse in the chaos of the explosion and scrambled away without looking back.

When he got back to the Strike-Cruiser, Eshara would scrimshaw the names of Darka Ramiel, Antonius Golgotha and Embeth Holst into the bones of his fist to make sure he never forgot them.

A shape loomed out of the gloom, and his finger was tightening on the trigger before he recognised Brother Fautor.

'Go!' he shouted over the ever-increasing rumble of collapsing tunnel. 'We have to get to the boarding torpedoes. This mission is over and everyone's dead!'

With a curt nod, and a slight slump of the shoulders the Castigator turned and stalked into the darkness.

+++

#9
Aurelius Rex

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With Tucked Tail…

(Author: Daeothar)

When Beyaert had finally reached the boarding torpedoes, stumbling and near the end of his powers, the Castigator Fautor had collected a bolter and had headed back out, towards the base. They exchanged no words but the brief moment their eyes locked, Beyaert could almost sense something akin to understanding, strengthening his resolve somewhat that he might yet salvage his position within the Legio.

He had wrestled himself into the torpedo he had been assigned to at the beginning of the mission and was greeted with the sight he had been dreading ever since he set back out to the rally point; five empty seats. Four marines that would not be returning. Four marines that had counted on him doing his job. Four marines now dead because he hadn’t.

He eased himself into his seat and ran a quick check of the torpedo’s machine spirit and systems, distractedly giving praise to the Omnissiah as he was supposed to. Not that the Machine God was really part of his beliefs, but he had been instructed to do so every time he handled the ancient machineries maintained by the Techpriests. That was long ago, back on the Fiery Lions fleet he had served on first and old habits die hard.

Suddenly his eye caught movement on one of his vidscreens and his musing ended. Something out there was moving and he strained his eyes to see who it was. More of the Legio marines returning after all? Could be, but he did not get any signal on his tactical displays. There was a chance one of them had had his armour’s systems damaged in such a way the identification encryptions were destroyed. A fleeting image in his head of a hulking, power armoured figure was all remained and it might well have been imagined.

But he could not take that risk. Not only were the torpedoes valuable artefacts that were vulnerable to sabotage, they were also the only possible way off this rock for any Legio brethren still out there. If whoever was out there had bad intentions, there was a chance even less brethren would make it off the asteroid. Beyaert had forsaken his duty enough for one day.

He grabbed another bolter from the rack on the wall, slammed home a drum magazine, donned his helmet and awkwardly exited his seat and the torpedo. Luckily the base’s gravity generators did not reach as far as their landing site and movement was made a bit easier for Beyaert, still struggling to get to grips with having only one leg again to move around with.

Outside of the torpedo, he sluggishly headed into the direction he had seen the movement, behind the second torpedo on his right; the rightmost torpedo of the four. Holding the bolter out in front of him, he leaned on his damaged chainsword to get a better view before moving around the torpedoes, when he caught sight of another, slight, movement. This one inside the torpedo between his and the one he intended to investigate.

Hopping towards the small view port in the torpedo’s reinforced door, he peered in. Two battle brothers were strapped in. One appeared dead, missing parts of his armour and desecrated by whoever he had bested in battle. The other’s movement had been what had caught his eye through the small view port. The lulling head of sergeant Domadeus, strapped into his seat, drifting in and out of consciousness, but alive nonetheless.

That had been why the Castigator had been guarding the torpedoes. The sergeant unsteadily lifted his head and looked straight at Beyaert, outside the torpedo. He slowly mouthed some words, with some urgency obviously. But Beyaert could not hear what the wounded marine was trying to tell him. Gesturing for the sergeant to put his helmet on, Beyaert began the short sequence to open the torpedo door, giving him access to the inside of the boarding torpedo. Slowly and obviously in pain, Domadeus managed to secure his helmet and gave Beyaert the okay signal.

Pressing the final rune, the door opened with a hiss of the last escaping air, after powerful pumps had secured most of the torpedo’s air supply, which must already be low, since the torpedo had been opened and closed a number of times already since their landing. Making the best of his disabled form, Beyaert managed to get himself inside of the torpedo and locked the door. Air was let into the small compartment again and it took almost a full minute before a green light sprung on and both men took off their helmets.

Domadeus’ voice was unsteady and weak; ’where are the others?’ The sergeant had been wounded early in the battle and did not know of Beyaert’s wandering off on his own. ‘I’m afraid there’s only a few of us alive still sergeant’, replied Beyaert. The full realisation that they might well be all that remained of the strike force hitting him hard. He had been relieved not to find the stern sergeant Golgotha at the landing site, as he had dreaded. But now, the loss of so many, even him who might have him punished was keenly felt.

Beyaert started up the Torpedo’s systems, giving the same blessings he had given just minutes before in the other craft. He checked the vidscreens again, keen on anything out of the ordinary but could not see anything else moving outside again.

‘Brother beyaert, we must make haste’ Domadeus whispered weakly, ‘the countdown has ended, we must assume we are the only ones left. It is our holy duty to return to the Spear of Justice to report on the tragedy that has occurred here’. Beyaert was about to protest, when the torpedo shook violently and rolled over a couple of degrees to the side, as powerful tremors shook the asteroid.

Checking his screens, Beyaert could make out a huge cloud of debris, where the entrance to the base has been. It appeared there was just a crater left, and a huge part of the base had collapsed in on itself. Stunned, both Legio marines watched in horror as the scene unfolded on the screens in mute clarity. No part of the surface area of the base remained standing but for some jagged spires and broken walls. It would seem the entire interior of the base had collapsed under the violence of the repeated demolition charges places all over the base.

Beyaert was certain none of the individuals planning this operation could have foreseen this immense destruction, which must have been caused by a strange combination of destructive explosions at key points and a hidden weakness in the base’s superstructure. At any rate, it was clear nobody would make it out alive now.

As sergeant Domadeus let his head fall back into his seat from exhaustion and grief, Beyaert finally punched in the codes that would start the Torpedo’s take off sequence. The final keystroke barely passed, the vectoring jets kicked in, throwing them into their seatbelts, as the torpedo violently launched backwards, as if releasing itself from the side of a ship.

Altering its course, the torpedo angled away from the surface of the asteroid and gave a short, powerful burst with its escape jets. Beyaert, now looking straight down on the surface of the asteroid suddenly spied the power armoured figure he had seen moving around the torpedoes, entering the one on the far right, which he had intended to investigate. There was something familiar about this marine. But before he could discern who it was, billowing dust clouds thrown up by the torpedo’s engines made him loose sight of the other craft altogether.

It appeared they hung there for an eternity, the asteroid only slowly moving away from them, even though Beyaert knew they were still accelerating away, through the black void of space. Looking down on the diminishing features of the asteroid, he could see the bursts of manoeuvring jets inside the gray dust clouds thrown up during their own takeoff. He anticipated the moment the torpedo would break free of the cloud and follow them up and away from the asteroid.

But that too, seemed to last forever. Then, just when Beyaert wanted to adjust the zoom of the vidscreens to keep a better view of the cloud and the oncoming torpedo, when a loud clang rocked their craft and sent it spinning wildly through space, the asteroid swirling in and out of view, the starts blurring into circles of light, as the torpedo spun out of control. Huge clouds of debris had been blown free from the weak gravity well of the asteroid because of the explosions and were now speeding away from it. The torpedo had overtaken and hit some of the larger ones apparently.

As Beyaert worked the controls in a practiced manner, as he had done so many times before, he managed to stabilise their course and turn the torpedo around, facing away from the doomed asteroid. Furiously managing the controls through instinct and years of training, Beyaert had no time to check the viewport, until the wounded sergeant behind him exclaimed: ‘by the emperor, look! We truly are in his blessing. We are saved’. Beyaert looked up, and was met with the sight of the kilometres long strikecruiser Spear of Justice, straight ahead of them.

With mixed feelings, Beyaert went through the routines to ready the torpedo for retrieval by the Legio vessel. He knew the dire consequences of his actions would be overtaking him at last and even though it was the way of the Pride to accept one’s fate without hesitation, for a moment he regretted his return.

He had lost so much; the hunt had only been a partial success, he had abandoned his battle brothers to their fate, he had lost his battle with his most important quarry and was badly wounded in the process. And now he limped home with nothing to show for his actions but shame. Beyaert was not looking forward to his return. No; not at all…

Edited by daeothar, 08 July 2006 - 07:48 PM.


#10
Aurelius Rex

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Fautor and Eshara were whisked out of their boarding torpedo by Sergeant Aiakos before their vessel had even been properly secured. Their presence was urgently requested by the Captain on the bridge. They received little more than a cursory glance from Apothecary Capel before he returned to treat the three other survivors of the Kill-team, and then they were on their way.

The Strike-Cruiser showed the familiar signs of battle. It was obvious that the team sent down to the base had not been the only ones to have fought the Red Corsairs today. On several occasions Brother-marines called out to them in greeting, asking about the mission, if it was true about the others, and about Sergeant Golgotha. Each time Aiakos silenced them with a look.

On the way up the deck started to shudder. Eshara was reminded of the repeated explosions that rocked the Corsair base, but it was only the reassuring bass thud of the Cruiser’s massive bombardment cannons finishing the job they had started. The mighty blast-doors ground open to admit them to the bridge, and through the durium-laced glass of the observation windows they saw the base being reduced to a pitted crater in an ever-expanding cloud of debris.

+++

He forced himself to watch every impact, every explosion. Aenides owed it to each of the fifteen members of the Kill team that had died on that rock. Even though there had been no chance to retrieve their bodies, he would not let their cremations go un-witnessed.

Inquisitor Holst had briefed him about this ‘Keeper’. It was tied into heresies across the Segmentum, and had taken decades to track down. When he had proposed that the Spear of Justice use it’s bombardment cannons to scour the base from existence she had waved the offer aside and come out with some fanciful hypothesis that the creature was like a toad in a stone; even if they reduced the entire asteroid to rubble it would slip away. The only way to be certain was to track it down and kill it personally.

Well, she had given her life, and that of her unborn child for her convictions. While Aenides had never warmed to the woman, he had to admire her courage and dedication to the Throne.

Even with the arrival of Eshara and Fautor the Captain did not look away. Both had been close to reaching Holst and Sergeant Golgotha before the tunnel collapse, but neither could tell him if the Keeper had been eliminated. Aenides sighed, and thanked them, but bade them stay to watch the final moments, as the asteroid split in two, trailing chunks of rock the size of Thunderhawk gunships.

With that, the big guns fell silent. Aenides would have preferred to crush the asteroid to dust as a testament to the fallen, but their actions in destroying this important staging post had stung the Warmaster, and even now Tomax Hell was returning at the head of a fleet of warships. A time would come to face him, but it was not today.

The respectful silence was broken by the tinny squeak of a vox-net, and Aenides eyes finally left the asteroid as he searched the bridge for the intrusion.

It was coming from both Eshara and Fautor.

‘Brother-Captain,’ said the stunned Castigator, ‘it’s Sergeant Golgotha… He says he found the Keeper’s escape craft, and is requesting retrieval.’

+++

Aboard the disguised escape craft, Golgotha fought back the encroaching darkness and fire in his chest. His secondary heart fluttered and finally gave way to the damage, but the primary continued to beat His Brothers would hear the signal. They would come…

+++

Edited by Brother Tyler, 15 October 2006 - 08:54 PM.


#11
Brother Tyler

Brother Tyler

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Epilogue: Last Man Standing (Author: Aurelius Rex)

Legio Honour Duel: Eshara vs Fautor

+++

More than two weeks had passed since the attack on the Corsair base, and life for the marines had settled back into the routine of close-combat practice, firing rites and prayer. Apothecaries and artificers tended to the wounded flesh and reconsecrated damaged wargear, while the Sergeants and Chaplains gave guidance and counsel for the soul.

Despite the losses, it had been a very successful mission. A xenos instigator of heresies had been purged, the Red Corsair base and much of its fleet had been destroyed, and intelligence vital to the reconquest of Antioc was being extracted from the renegade commander.

Abaddon’s latest Black Crusade and the actions taken to locate Tomax Hell’s forces had left the Legio stretched and often undermanned. The attack on Alcmene had finally revealed Antioc as his base of operations, but the death of Captain Lycurgus at the hands of the Night Lords necessitated that Captain Ćnides should command both Legio companies for the duration of the Counterstrike mission. Well, the mission was over, and the Spear of Justice was less than a day away from the Legio enclave, and enough recruits to bring both companies back to operational strength for the Antioc Crusade.

A replacement for Captain Lycurgus had also been chosen from within the company.

+++

It was the final night cycle of their journey aboard the Spear of Justice, and the cavernous training area was deserted apart from four figures. Honour-duels were not uncommon amongst Astartes. Indeed, among some Chapters they were positively encouraged because of the bonds of respect and competition that they forged. Honour-duels normally drew a large crowd, but this time only the new Captain and Apothecary Capel would bear witness. The blades might be unpowered and the ranged weapons adjusted, but even stationary the teeth of a chainsword could tear through flesh with ease, and the presence of the Apothecary was only prudent.

High above in the observation pulpit the Captain held out the heavy iron ball with his good right hand, before releasing it to start the duel.

+++

At the sound of the iron ball striking the deck, Brother Fautor dived to the left, and into what scant cover the arena had to offer. His personal honour, and the honour of the Castigators was at stake, but he would not sit back and shoot; this fight should be decided in close combat. The feint caused Brother Eshara’s first rubberised bolt rounds to fly past him, but the second glanced harmlessly off his armour as he vaulted over the barricade. Sensoria within his armour would activate if he was struck with what it judged to be sufficient force to cause serious damage. The second time the marine took a wound the battle would be over.

Fautor landed on the other side of the barricade and rolled aside to throw off Eshara’s aim, and while he was struck, they again glanced away harmlessly. He responded by unleashing a plasma bolt - weakened, of course - in his Brother’s direction to keep his head down and allow Fautor to get close enough for the real battle.

The spray of plasma had not been enough though, and Fautor found himself under heavy fire, pinned down behind a mound of brick rubble. Although he preferred the elegant simplicity of a bolter to the unpredictability of a plasma pistol, Fautor could not deny how effective the weapon had been against the Corsairs. Rising smoothly from behind the meagre cover, Fautor took aim at Eshara and fired…

+++

The desperate, headlong dive to avoid Fautor’s plasma-bolt left Eshara sprawled across the deck, and an easy target for the follow-up shot. Eshara rolled to his feet, expecting at any moment to be bathed in actinic fire, but he rose – unharmed – to see The Castigator struggling with the malfunctioning weapon.

Eshara took advantage of this good fortune and pulled the trigger. The rubberised bolt-rounds caught his opponent solidly in the chest, the high-pitched sensor shriek announcing that a serious wound had been caused.

+++

Fautor ignored the jolt and shriek from the armour sensor and charged. It was time to end this in close combat, as honour demanded. The sparking, pulsing plasma pistol left discarded amongst the pile of shattered bricks, he brought round the trustworthy, reliable chainsword in a vicious two-handed swipe. Sheer momentum drove it deep into the shoulderpad, buckling the Legio chapter symbol and the sensors registered a wound. The unpowered blade came away bloody – he had not intended to do such damage – but Eshara shouted to continue.

Relying on his natural superiority, Fautor continued to force his Brother back towards the arena wall. From the way the bolter hung useless at his side and the laboured nature of his breathing it was obvious that Eshara was seriously injured, but unwilling to stop the fight. For the sake of his Brother’s health, Fautor had to stop the duel.

He aimed the chainsword at the arm holding the bolter. Doing it when his back was against the wall would have been optimal, but time was of the essence.

Against all expectation, the bolter sprung up with remarkable strength to knock aside the blow. The realisation that he had been tricked hit him at the same time as Eshara’s chainsword. The sensor on his side howled; the duel was over.

+++

‘A fine contest, brothers.’ said Golgotha as he strode into the arena. While the Apothecary tended to Eshara’s shoulder, Golgotha pulled Fautor aside and offered him the place in his command squad. It would mean swapping the plasma pistol for the bolter, but from the look on his face it was clear this would be a relief.

He also told Fautor what Inquisitor Holst had told him about the Keeper. They had unfinished business.

While Fautor stalked off, stunned, Golgotha approached Eshara. The sixth Tactical squad needed a sergeant, and Eshara – Sergeant Eshara - had proved himself the man for the job.

+++

Victory to Eshara, Last Man Standing and Winner of the Legio Counterstrike Arena of Death