Legions: Sons of Solstice, Eagle Warriors
Time: Time of Retribution (Siege of Terra)
Words flickered back and forth across the chamber, both flesh made and audio-emitted, gestures made in full presence and through the visages of hololothic displays of varying complexity and quality.
Primarchs, Archimandrites, Admirals, Priceps, Imperial Army Generals and a hundred more besides gave voice to this council of war. For weeks they had discussed the path of the campaign towards terra, of the blood that would be spilt, of the steps necessary to ensure that what was once called the Imperial Palace was breached before the accursed could enact the ritual he had spent decades planning.
The war they would bring to Terra would accelerate the ritual, of that they were certain. The alternative was leaving the corrupted thing that now ruled there unopposed, until his reavers and despoiled servants could bring him the blood required to complete the ritual anyway. The assault would be a risk, but only through it could they close upon the source of the infestation that gripped the Imperium to tear it from their civilisation’s heart. Every day they delayed, was a day that more flesh-hulks dragged their way into Teran docks bearing a cargo of sacrifices and devoted soldiers.
It was during the flow of discussion that the Primarch Azothastra received an independent notification from the Speaker of Ataginak, a Forge World that had long been aligned with his Legion, and thus now the Loyalists.
Azothastra could see the Speaker in full view, seemingly engaged in conversation already. Of course, one could never tell how many different conversations a high adept of the Mechanicum might be having at once, or how many different fragments they had partitioned their mind into to do so.
He routed the signal through closed comms to his helmet, and at first the conversation seemed oddly banal.
+++Sire, are you familiar with the Category Loxadon of Titans and Ordinati?+++
“I am. Every Forge World that answers to the Emperor will be deploying their Legios and Ordinati in this campaign Speaker. The battle for the Beta-Garmon Cluster will be costly in the extreme for them all, and I suspect many once in the Sol System will attempt to land and contest the heretek grip on Mars. Your contributions are appreciated to the utmost by me but…”
+++Intention misunderstood. Loxadon lineage is derivative of Loxadon Primus STC theoretical. Resources+Logistics+Technological Limitations+Limited Purpose=Prior production unfeasible. Inter-Forge World Cooperation+Requirement for rapid breach of Terra’s walls=Within range of necessity for construction.+++
Azothastra paused for a moment.
“What exactly are you proposing to the war council?”
The Siege of Terra- Date Uncertain
Xacotzal T’Pish saw through the eyes of the Neverborn, yet still he could not make sense of what he saw. The Kheyvik region, though not far from the Great Work’s northern quadrant, was a barren wasteland. They had built no ritual sites there, no fortifications. It’s strategic value was low, yet he saw it blossom with fire. The flare of melta warheads, discharged into an empty landscape.
With a shudder, Xacotzal wrenched his sight back into his body, and opened his eyes within the small command chamber.
“Have we identified the source of the bombardment.”
Display consoles were flickering banquets of colour, leering faces and screaming figures briefly hurling themselves between the lines of data. The personnel stationed there seemed to read them well enough though, despite the fact that their eyes had been sewn shut.
“We have. Four Ordo Reductor Galleases. They’re in close proximity to the XX-3 vessel. Siege Barques and bombardment frigates are still suppressing any of our batteries within striking range. Aerthic interdiction has proven unsuccessful.”
Mechanicum then. The behemothic craft the divinely attuned had designated as XX-3 was of unknown purpose. Despite its potential firepower it had hung at the back of the intruder’s fleet, with a defensive convoy that could have constituted a front line battleforce. So why was it so close now? Many of the Mechanicum on both sides were warring on Mars, where those who had opened themselves to the Primordial Annihilator worked on their own great projects, enough of both were here to constitute a significant factor. Other locations were under bombardment of course, sometimes simply to drive the Neverborn back so that the unblessed could establish staging zones. Yet, why would no less than four Mechanicum vessels devoted to the so-called Unmaker God be applying their renowned skill to a barren patch of earth.
The instant the eagle Warrior’s mind found the answer, he felt the whispers of the Neverborn shift in tone.
“They’re creating a landing zone.”
Siege of Terra-Date Unkown
What had once been the Imperial Palace was now a sprawling mass. In places it seemed to bleed, or the encrustations of weapons batteries could not be distinguished from pulsing nodules of blistered flesh. It loomed over the landscape, and where it’s shadow fell the very earth seemed to rise in revolt, twisted beyond recognition. Closest to the walls infernal flames roared, denying access to any form of infantry that might march those routes. On a vast plain scoured clean of taint by the heaven’s fire, a hundred different armies waited. Mortals from a thousand worlds, in chainmail and carapace armour, armed with everything from pikes to Kalibrax las-rifles. Tanks sat in ordered rows. The silent servants of the Machine-God, forms bizarre but still grounded in reality placed in patterns according to divine calculi. The strength of the Legiones Astartes, their transhuman forms seeming an unbreakable rock amidst a teeming mass of mortal disparity, regardless of which Legion’s colours they bore or none at all.
The proximity of the Palace took its toll on all of them. In its direction one could hear the sound of fighting as vanguard elements and hastily arranged fortifications held roving daemons at bay. Loyalist Mechanicum automata and Astartes Seeker Squads prowled constantly through the assembled forces in case any might have slipped through.
At the moment, none of them were looking at the Palace.
One by one, steady peals of thunder seemed toroll across the marshalling site. Below it was a lower and more frequent rumbling. Donjon pattern Siege Engines brought up the rear, carrying their cargo above where the flames would lap. An honour guard of Titans, not drawn from any one Legio but rather the exemplars of many, strode along the flanks. Their forms towered over their observers.
Yet no one was looking at them either.
They were looking at the single figure that toweere over even them. Quadrupedal like the Donjons, yet armoured heavier than even the Warlord Class Battle Titans. It’s body was more akin to a building, fortress that on its own would be the pride of many a world had they sought to build it, and above its back shimmered the discharges of vast void shield arrays. From the front jutted a monstrous head that alone rivalled a Warlord in size, colossal armour plates forming a vast battering ram. Below it a flexible boarding chamber lay unfurled, and from either side of that jutted colossal cannons, as if to resemble the mythical pakyderms of Ancient Terra.
These were features that were familiar - barring the sheer size - to those familiar with Ataginnak’s Loxadon based constructs, but here the glory was not in its artistry.
The ceramite armoured plates that adorned it came from the forges within the Mycenean Domion, the vast cannon from those of the Three Fires. Each leg had been commissioned from one of the four forge worlds of the Acathioan Circuitry, diminishing their overall output by a quarter. Ataginak itself had provided many of the components that now lay in the creations head, but arcane technologies sent from a dozen other forges had been needed to make it work. More industrious worlds yet had provided the shield generators, reactors and overall frame of the body. It was a feat of such cooperation among the Mechanicum that was allowed only be acknowledgement of an impending doom, and a feat that might never be seen again.
Somewhere, amongst the teeming mortal masses that gazed upon this figure, someone raised their weapon. They cried the great beast’s name. They did it again, and again. Other’s joined. The chant spread, until it was a thunder to match the beast’s own. Astartes too raised their weapons, adding their voices to the roar. Only the servants of the Omnissiah seemed motionless and silent, but through noosphere and infosphere alike they sang their own binaric praises. The great behemoth’s name spread before it, until even upon those dark walls distant the traitors could hear the name of what came for them.
Through hellfire it and it’s escort strode untouched. Every gun arrayed against it saw their fire broken upon it’s shields. Corrupted Titans that sought to flank it were forced to weather it’s auxiliary flank batteries until their shields dropped and the Loyalist Titans smote them even as they duelled the guns upon the walls. Swarms of bombers that soared towards it were torn from the sky by its flak batteries, or else pounced upon by Loyalist fighters lying in wait.
Still its forward guns did not fire.
There was no forewarning. No ominous hum permeating the air. No sizzling discharge around the barrels as it powered up.
One moment there was nothing. The next there was blinding light, and a roaring sound that ruptured the eardrums of the defenders.
Then the portion of the wall in front of it was gone. Pieces of debris could be seen scattering backwards, doing further damage as they were hurled into the further walls. For a moment all seemed silent, as if the weapon had torn sound from the world. Then, the battlegroup advanced.
The Colossi and the Donjons seemed to blaze with light. From the latter, Oniscarii Drop Tanks and short ranged ‘hurlers’ thrust their way into the air to crash down upon nearby walls, forces leaping out to engage a scattered enemy.
From the former, it was the light of hundreds of jump packs. Destroyers, Assault Marines, Imperial Amy Jump troopers, Thallax, Ursurax. Like a thousand embers they seemed to drift, and burn the foe wherever they landed. Further flares of light revealed themselves, terminators teleporting from the construct’s bowls. From its feet and dropping from its trunk a hoard was disgorged, Infantry Cohorts of the Solar Auxillia, Astartes Breachers, tactical and Heavy Weapons Squads. Above them further still, the sky grew black with gunships and transports that sought to take advantage of the enemy’s disarray.
The first breach in the walls of Terra had been made.
Siege of Terra-Date Unkown- Loyalist Command Centre communications retrieval.
“The other breaches are being secured. The orbital bombardment point in zone theta, the Mole incursion at epsilon, the Ordinati and Titan bombardment at Gamma. The Legions seemed to have gained a foothold on the southern palisade through blood alone.”
+++Statement: The latter would not be possible unless hostile forces were being directed elsewhere. Conclusion+Data Analysis: Hostile forces focusing upon initial breach. Conclusion: Initial breach is in danger of being overrun.+++
“They’re correct. Almost all of them, they’re focusing on the Loxadon. All of our infantry there has either withdrawn within the construct itself or been slain.”
“Then we’re going to lose it. Authorise final protocols.”
Siege of Terra, date unknown. Initial breach site.
It was in pain. It’s princeps cadre felt it too. It was bleeding, burning.For a second it was tempted to lose itself in the memories from beyond, when it had felt the praise of an army run through it. From before, when its guns had first roared and it had bright ruin to the foe.
No. It’s purpose was now. Born for this, to die in it if necessary. Princeps and Machine Spirit flowed as one. To die in fulfilment of Omnissiah given purpose was the greatest honour. A God-Machine was not meant to sit silent while war passed it by. In death they would live on, through the ruin they had wrought upon the enemy.
That meant facing the pain. The Donjon siege engines had burned first, torn apart. The last of its closer kin, it’s noble handmaidens and hunter-wards had fallen an hour before, fighting valiantly against the foal things that now tore at its hide. It could feel their guns plunging its flank, claws raking its skin whilst Megabolters pummelled its defenders at close range. Some had fallen to the bravery of Astartes and Machine constructs that had leapt from within it, like hornets on a hive, to land upon the tainted engine’s faces and claw their way into the foe-machine’s skulls. In doing so they were exposed. In doing so they were killed.
That wasn’t the worst of it. It could sense the enemy, like a whirlpool centered on itself. Below it the ground was littered as much with the corpses of those loyalists that hadn’t been able to draw themselves within itself as the enemy. It was now seething with the living foe. Fire dropped upon them from above, but more came. Tanks shot up, targeting and disabling the under-batteries. It could feel the seething horde forcing its way inside it’s legs. The fore-starboard leg was near overrun with daemons, sanctified isolation protocols rendering it numb to the machine-spirit’s senses and only the efforts of a score of Nullificators was the taint kept from spreading. The things were even crawling up the outside of the legs, scuttling daemon and mag-locked traitors, oblivious to the number of corpses that hung limply like parasites where they had died.
The forces that had departed its body as embers earlier were being repaid tenfold, and with them came winged fiends to gorge themselves and glut upon souls of flesh and steel alike. Entire craft, gunships and cargo barges dove with flaming engines to smash into its body. Many saw their cargo killed on impact. Many more saw unnaturally resilient foes pull their way free from the wreckage.
It was dying. Slowly. The minds of the Princeps reached for words. They came back with poison, infection. Spreading through its veins. A slow and agonising death, unbecoming for a war-machine such as it.
Pain cut through, sharper than anything before. The rear-port leg, the last for the defenders to have majority control over, was gone. A hostile Warhound, crippled to near death, had detonated its reactor. The whole thing seemed to lurch. It could feel attackers and defenders alike topple inside it, thrown against each other and crushing bulkheads.
Something else cut through. A message from afar. Permission.
The God-Machine let go.
Siege of Terra, date unknown, initial breach.
It had been born for one purpose. It’s existence had been short. There could be no greater pyre for it, its own fury unleashed to the utmost in one final act.
For a little while, a sun burned on terra. It shone upon the palace far brighter than the system’s sun ever had before. It’s light seemed to drive away the shadows, consuming mortal frame and warp phantasm alike.
In time, seconds distilled into hours in the eyes of those who watched, the light faded. The breach made in life had widened with death. An army, a vast army, had died with it. The pyre was not for them. They were motes of dirt, too insignificant to name. The pyre was for the thousands of embers that had gone before it. It was for the god-machines that had perished at its side. Most of all, it was for the Loxadon.
So they entered the Chime of Aeons.