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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by BCTheEntity
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Year: 000.M31

The Battle of Ullanor - The Dawn of the New Millenium

The Ullanor Crusade, despite its designation as a crusade, was not likely to be an endeavour of exceptional length, though it was the largest the Imperium had seen since the Rangdan Xenocides, and certainly the greatest concentration of power ever put together for a single objective. Over two hundred Titans, courtesy of the Cult Mechanicum’s Titan Legions; tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Space Marines from many different Legions, most led to the field of battle by their very progenitors, the Primarchs; tens of millions of soldiers from the Imperial Army, and in particular the Solar Auxilia at its core; the very Emperor of Mankind himself, leading the charge to such an important affair; and close to a thousand battleships of the Imperialis Armada to carry them all, not to mention the countless smaller ships of the Armada and the Legiones Astartes' contributions to such an immense fleet.

Such brutishly-amassed power would be needed. The Ullanor Sector had for a long while been the home of a great and terrible Orkish empire, which had as its core the Ullanor System, a dozen enslaved planets formerly controlled by human societies. Worse yet, the empire continued to grow ever-larger: an escalating WAAAGH! that could only spell disaster if it spilled out into the wider galaxy. The Crusade, of course, was set to end this threat. Nothing less than utter victory would suffice, even as estimates suggested the Orks would still outnumber the Imperial forces several times over.

With so many Primarchs involved in the matter, an exquisite plan of attack was inevitable, be it from one mind or many. The majority of forces would target the outer planets of the Ullanor System, drawing away as many Orks as possible in their defense to leave the true target vulnerable to a speartip strike: Ullanor Prime itself, the central keep called the Tower of Ullanor, and ultimately the leader of the empire, Overlord Urlakk Urg, alongside any Orks powerful enough to potentially succeed him. With the removal of the head, the body would surely collapse.

The initial strategy, ultimately, went down like clockwork. The armada entered the Ullanor System quite publicly, the majority of ships heading toward Ullanor’s outer planets. In turn, hundreds of ramshackle Orkish vessels built up upon themselves time and again moved to intercept these aggressors, either to crush their enemy’s ships with as much firepower as they could muster, or else deposit countless Orks on the threatened planets for ground defense, and often both. And once these had been displaced, the last fragment of the Imperial fleet moved toward Ullanor Prime, comparatively ripe for the picking.

What was left was to indulge in warfare, plain and simple. Beyond the atmosphere of each planet, the navies of both sides hammered away at one another; within the ships and on the ground, greenskins and humans clashed, men giving and receiving orders even in the heat of battle, lasfire hammering into the masses even as Ork dakka and Ork choppa took life after life. Most of all, the Astartes Legions made their dent wherever they strode, boltguns and volkite weaponry turning Orks into mincemeat and incinerated vapour, and each participating Primarch directing their forces the way they saw fit.




Elsewhere

And yet, the Ullanor Crusade was not the sole battleground of the Imperium at that moment. Across the galaxy, humanity made its mark, and the Legions who did not fight at Ullanor were nonetheless occupied elsewhere, as were those Legion elements separated from their counterparts in the Crusade, and the Excertus Imperialis’ wider forces. Not all of these battles were dangerous; not all were even crucial for the Imperium’s well-being; but for the sake of mankind’s superiority, and for the Imperium’s brightest future, the enemy was put to rout, be it an unconscionable xeno or a human empire that refused to bow down.

The conquest of the ocean planet Laeran, in particular, might well go down in history as a footnote compared to the larger combat taking place. Nonetheless, the planet was under siege by a variety of forces, not least of which was the Night Watch under Micholi Vakrain. He had plenty of reasons to see them dead, and plenty more regarding why he chose to engage them instead of destroying their planet outright, but they would not go down without a concerted fight by any means.
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Sophrus
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Ullanor Secundus

Prometheus & Usriel


Prometheus nodded to his Astartes Captains and Generals of the Imperial Army, this plan would work. It would be bloody and thousands would perish in the next days fighting but another Ork fortress would fall. Its outer walls were already burning rubble from furious and sustained artillery fire that even now roared behind the trench lines. Random streaks of las-fire and heavy bolter cut through the darkness in no-mans-land as adventurous Orks tried to close with the defenders. He catches Strategos Arlym before the briefing ends, “Strategos, send word to Ancient Deckard. See if Usriel and his Legion wish to assault this fortress with us. There are few left on this world and The Emperor will be razing Ullanor prime soon enough.”

The Commander bows “At once my lord”

Prometheus returns to the map scrutinizing the plan once again. Mastadon assault vehicles followed by Gorgon assault vehicles delivering 5,000 marines and 50,000 Imperial Storm Troopers supported by heavy armor is a strong vanguard to lead the full infantry assault. Finally The Primarch exits the command bunker and gazes out into the night watching the Ork hordes being cut down and listening to the hammering of artillery. Something was off, he couldn’t place it, he felt that the Orks were up to something but his analytical mind and gifts of insight couldn’t give him an answer.



Usriel’s Command bunker:

The dreadnaught that carried Ancient Deckard stepped to the entrance of the bunker and examined the guard standing at the door. He spoke in a booming mechanical monotone “I bring word from the Knights of Awe, I must see your Primarch.”

The guard looked at the dreadnaught, a moment of silence coming between the two before the guard stepped aside. After another moment, the doors to the command bunker slid open and a tech-priest wandered out, only stopping to acknowledge the dreadnaught with a light bow before skirting past Ancient Deckard. As the tech-priest moved away from the bunker, out came the form of Usriel. The Primarch looked at the dreadnaught before motioning to the guard, who bowed his head and walked away from the two.

“I heard that you have brought word from the Knights?” Usriel asked, his voice coming through his helmet.
“I have my lord” Says Ancient Deckard, making a motion approximating a bow for his hulking machine. “Prometheus asks if you would join in his assault on Fortress BM-9 tomorrow. If so he will send the details of the assault. I know he and his elite guard will be the vanguard.”

Usriel thought for a moment before he spoke again, “Fortress BM-9 would prove to be an advantageous place for another outpost, eventually a proper fortress would be of good use.” The Primarch nodded to Ancient Deckard before confirming, “Very well, I will join the assault. Once I have the details of the assault, I will coordinate what forces to pull from Arx Ferrum now that it is not in the direct path of an Ork attack. However, he must be quick, I do not wish to give these xenos a chance to rally before we strike.”

Ancient Deckard rotated one of his claws back and forth as though it were an unconscious motion while he thought. “Of course, The fortress will be razed by nightfall I expect. I will bring your reply to my legion” the dreadnaught says with another bow but staying in his place until dismissed.

“Thank you,” Usriel stated before turning away from the dreadnaught to re-enter the bunker, to leave Ancient Deckard with his task. As the doors closed behind him, he looked to the guard that had been outside, standing in silence before the voice of the Primarch cut through the air. “Prepare Maren and the rest of the Honor Guard, we will be striking Fortress BM-9 soon, and send word to Chapter Two at the ready for any company requisition for the assault.”

The guard bowed his head before speaking, “At once, my lord,” before marching out of the command structure to leave Usriel’s presence. The Primarch moved towards a wall, seeing the data that the tech-priest had relayed to him, however, something did not feel correct about the projections and while the Cult Mechanicus’ priests were confident that the Orks would be subdued with enough time to allow a week for the planet to prepare for Ork reinforcements, but he did not feel the same. He had little evidence to dispute their claims other than a feeling of paranoia tugging at the back of his mind, a feeling that he disliked.



Prometheus Command Bunker:

The Primarch dispatched orders for the strategic plan and the timeline of the assault to be sent to Usriel. Along with dozens of others to move imperial army artillery batteries or to begin preparations for the Terran 46th Super-Heavy Tank regiment and the Mastodon transports. Between each dispatch the thought of subtle wrongness nagged at him. Hundreds of scenarios played through his mind as minor details were dealt with, none however held that kernel of fact he could build from.

“General Haen, What do you think of the assault strategy?” says the Primarch to the now astonished Army General

“I.. uh, My lord it is as perfect a plan as any I have seen.” he replies

Prometheus nods “I know, you, the Generals and Strategos did well. After some changes it is a perfect assault and yet...” he trails off

The General studies the map confused “Well, you know I feel that the Amn 2nd Infantry should be with you in the vanguard, they are tough storm troopers tha-”

The Primarch smiles and cuts off the general “Thank you general, we discussed that, they are the lead element of the infantry assault following the armor. You know full well Strategos Arlym is right. Anyway General, could you handle these dispatches? The Phalanx and the little Raven’s assault corps need to be prepared.”

With that Prometheus leaves the bunker into the night air, scented with cordite and prometheum fumes. Before finding his vanguard the Primarch spends some time walking the trenches, speaking to Astartes and the Imperial Army alike. His mere presence bolsters morale showing each trooper that the Primarch fights with them.



Overhead, a thunderhawk could be heard, bearing the marks of the Steel Sentinels, which could just faintly be seen against the night sky of Ullanor Secundus. Quickly, it found it would land and almost just as quickly, word of Usriel’s arrival would be spread to Prometheus as a mortal soldier ran up to the Primarch to deliver the news, “My lord, Primarch Usriel has arrived with his honor guard. He is requesting to see you.”

“Very good Sergeant” he says and dismisses the officers he had been speaking with. He starts towards the landing site Commander Gaalus and the mortal Baroness Flavia falling in on his heels as an honor guard of sorts.

“Brother Usriel!” Prometheus shouts over the engine of the Thunderhawk “I was almost afraid you would be late and miss the battle!” he says with a chuckle “I trust you have had a chance to review the strategy?”

“Indeed,” Usriel answered quickly, “I have sent for companies four and five of the Second Chapter!” The Primarch of the Steel Sentinels turned back to look at the Thunderhawk as it was powering down until the time of the assault. Usriel turned back to his brother before continuing to speak, “Company Four will be acting as rearguard while Company Five will secure whatever the xenos call walls on their fortress so that once it is fully secured, proper defenses will be able to be erected. That said, both companies are bringing Aegis barricades to allow for cover on our rear and to set as we advance.”

Prometheus processes the addition to the strategy for a brief moment, “Excellent that will do nicely. Ah, where are my manners, this is Commander Gaalus, he will be leading the Phalanx Terminators. This is Commander Flavia, she is the leader of the Astarte Auxilia storm troopers” he gestures to each of them, Gaalus bowing deeply showing respect to the Primarch. Flavia however bows but noticeably less than the Astartes captain.

“I was unaware you kept mortals with your guard, Prometheus,” Usriel stated, looking at the human before commenting, “Especially one less dedicated than our Astartes.” He looked back to the other Primarch, “Regardless, the Mechanicus priests believe that we should make enough time to prepare for Ork reinforcements but…” Usriel trailed off before looking back at his guard and motioning for them to leave, his gaze returning to his brother, but remaining silent.

Prometheus follows suit waving his guard away “Think nothing of little Flavia, she spends too much time in the presence of Primarchs and Astartes I fear it has made her arrogant on our behalf, but that is not what troubles you. The assault is flawless near as I can tell, is there some flaw we have overlooked?” he says with his demeanor becoming gravely serious.

“No, the assault is not what I am worried about. Rather, it is the projections the priests came to me with, they did not seem correct and even when I made them check again, it did not seem right. I do not know, Prometheus, something does not feel right to me,” Usriel stated in an equally dire tone, before he looked back at the Thunderhawk. The glowing green eyes of a tech-priest became apparent as he exited the ship, a small unit of skiitari behind him.

“Apologies for the interruption, my lords,” the robotic voice chimed, as he bowed to the both of them, “I felt the need to interject due to the worry our calculations have caused. We believe there is an eighty-six percent chance that our projections are correct.” The tech-priest took a moment to form new data, “Eighty-seven point three percent. The only unaccounted variable is that of a contingent from outside the system, but due to scale of the Imperial fleet, it was deemed that any logical organic would deem it suicide and change course.”

Prometheus nods “That sounds accurate. There were some reports from orbit of a few asteroids near the planet, are they in an orbit that would interfere with fleet activity?” he asks the Tech-priest.

“No, my lord” he replies, “The orbits of the asteroids are well outside the operational area of the fleet, however they will be between the fleet and planet briefly during the assault and may obstruct orbital fire for a few moments.”

“Very well, apart from any surprises the green skins have inside that fortress of theirs I’m confident in this assault” says Prometheus with a smile “What about you brother?”

“I do not know, I feel as if the calculations are not right and there is something that has yet to be accounted for. After all, these things have proven to be… less than logical when it comes to conventional warfare,” Usriel commented, before a sigh could be heard through his helmet. “Perhaps, I am just being paranoid,” the Primarch said, looking to the tech-priest, “Foton, you are dismissed. Begin working with the other mortals so that the Cult Mechanicus’ interests on this world are met.”

The tech-priest bowed once more before leaving the two primarchs to their conversation, the skitarii marching in unison behind him.

“I will prepare myself for the assault, Prometheus. Clear my thoughts, and make sure that the machine spirits in my weapons are appeased. I will see you on the battlefield,” Usriel stated, turning away from his brother and marching back onto the Thunderhawk.
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Machine Gun Rex
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Dread Lords


The void was ablaze.

Battleships the size of cities clashed with scrap-metal monstrosities in an apocalyptic maelstrom of hellfire and etheric lightning. The stars were but a humble backdrop to the titanic void war encompassing the breadth of the Ullanor system. Lance fire streaked across the void, spears of raw energy that impaled the hulls of enemy ships. In their thousands the macro shells were unleashed, sowing the seeds of destruction amongst the crude formations of the xenos vessels. The ships of the XIV advanced toward the enemy, bloodlust oozing from their attack formations. The Orks responded in kind, no doubt bellowing cries to their primitive twin gods as they charged at the Legion brazen enough to challenge them. Both fleets hammered one another in volleys of munitions that would sunder a continent, microlasers slamming against crackling void shields as vast swarms of Legion interceptors duelled equally as numerous hordes of Ork Fightas like armies of mortals amidst the clash of their patron gods. Though the ships of Man were undoubtedly superior voidcraft in every perceivable manner, the Orks were maddeningly tenacious and the tide initially favoured neither the XIV nor the greenskins. And it would remain so until the first of the harpoons launched from the Dread Lord ships.

The Ursus Claws were barbaric weapons, their very existence rejecting the methodical nature of war that was the essence of modern naval doctrine. Ensnaring the Ork Kroozers, these gigantic harpoons slowly reeled in their prey and soon the Orks found themselves engaged in brutal broadside engagements against the Dread Lords. Daggers of plasma sliced through the scrap hulls of the enemy ships while the greenskins themselves loosed their caches of makeshift torpedoes though most of the improvised projectiles were blown apart by formidable arrays of point-defense turrets. The Ursus Claws had never ceased reeling in their prey however, the massive high-tension chains having been in grinding motion since locking into the enemy's ship. It was only when the Orkish craft were within a proximity of 10,000 kilometres to their captors did the XIV truly live up to their bloody-handed reputation. The insides of the Ursus Claws were hollow. Mostly. Klaxons in every XIV ship whose dozen Ursus Claws had found purchase blared, signalling the commencement of ship-to-ship boarding actions. Boarding torpedoes fired off inside each Claw, hundreds of Astartes rushing through the hollow insides, soon to be disgorged deep within the insides of an enemy ship.

First Captain Sunsu watched his brothers bring the wrath of the Emperor upon the Orks. The Astartes officer felt a spark of pride, and a prick of jealousy, at the sight though the experience was far removed from what it could have been had it been witnessed in the flesh instead of the scrawling data feeds of a holo display. He was not alone in his observations, the disciplined murmurs of a few hundred ship personnel below him a muted wave of sound slightly above that of the insistent humming emitted by the machines they operated. The bridge of the XIV Legion's flagship, the Gloriana-class battleship aptly named the Wrath, was an immensely cavernous chamber of moonlight blue, constantly flush from the maliciously dazzling, sometimes blinding, light of voidfire beyond the wide window encircling the front of the bridge. The Captain was present in the upper section of the bridge, the strategium, while the floor below him was the principal command level of the ship and where commissioned Navy personnel operated. Secondary level sub-decks lay on either side of the primary decks like miniature hivecity hab-blocks that touched the roof of the chamber and were filled with more ship personnel from cogitation officers to astropaths. Seated behind him were the captains of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th assault companies, their conversations occurring in vox. Behind them was the strategium door and it was flanked on either side by a Cataphractii-pattern Terminator in the dark maroon-blue, white-streaked colours of their Legion. The veteran Astartes within the heavy power armour serving as sentinels of the undisputed master of the XIV.

Of the myriad foes that the Captain of the XIV's 1st Company had faced in over a century of warfare, none had been more distasteful to face than the zealots. Blind faith had always been a cancerous blight upon the Emperor's Imperium. Fanatical humans in their droves, to each their own cult, all united in their rejection of the Imperial Truth. All united in their defiance of the Emperor's will. The worst of these pitiful creatures would always be those who worship the Emperor as a god. They proclaimed the divinity of the Master of the Mankind even as Sunsu and his brothers had cleaved their heads from their bodies, their lips still curved in madness. But in the pure absurdity of their fanatical sermons lay a proclamation the Captain could not help but find rather empirical; that the Primarchs were demigods incarnate. And the most glorious of all the great Primarchs in Sunsu's eyes was the one commanding the might of the XIV Legion.

The lord of the Dread Lords stood upon an elevated dais on the centre of the strategeium. Encircling the dais were numerous tactical holo displays, each scrawling with constantly updating troves of information on the ongoing void battle as well as the greater Ullanor Crusade itself. His eyes, ever so fierce like the hunting flesh-falcons of his homeworld, roamed the arrayed screens. A giant to the Astartes and an even greater giant to mere mortals, Asura Fong, Primarch of the XIV, immersed himself completely in a war of ambiguous data and symbols as his dark, majestic artificer armour hummed a soft tune. Great twin scabbards gilded silver hung strapped from his waist, the blades sheathed within responsible for the doom of billions.

"Status update on the bombardment," the Primarch spoke, his bass-deep voice harsh like the tides of a raging sea and powerful like the thunderstorm above the sea.

"Designated ordnance payloads are expended at a quarter below half, my lord," voxed the Master Ordinatum.

“Cease bombardment.”

“As you wish, my lord.”

Seated in a minor throne before the Primarch, Sunsu watched his gene-father casually summon a pict-screen of the ordnance munitions assigned to the orbital bombardment he'd commanded a hour ago on the massive Gargant yards littering the southern hemisphere of Ullanor Prime. Confirming the competency of the human in the position of Master Ordinatum all the while skimming through a dozen other holo displays, the Primarch's fingers danced across brass keyboards, continuously inputting data through interfaces at such a pace even Sunsu's transhuman eyes had to focus to keep up.

"Give me vision of Ket-9561," ordered Asura.

"Yes, my lord," vox-answered the Master Augurum.

“Adjusting for atmospheric interference,” an augury specialist said.

“Climate conditions compensated for,” intoned a naval transmechanic.

A few seconds later, a spherical tacticaria shimmered into being in front of the Primarch. Taking the form of Ullanor Prime, it rotated then presented a live geographical pict-image of the southern-hemisphere region designated Ket-9561.

"Enhance view," ordered the Master Augurum to his subordinates on the principal command deck. The holo display reduced the pict-image until it was as if the viewers were on groundlevel, minute traces of static crackling on the edges. The area shown had been a city-sized junkyard rife with greenskins and other smaller but just as nasty xenoforms. The vile creatures had been surrounding scrap monstrosities that served as crude parodies of the Emperor's Titans. Those weapons of war were arguably just as destructive too and would have seriously impeded a planetary assault by the Imperium. The resultant bombardment by the Dread Lords flagship however had caused a drastic change in scenery. Sunsu thought the place looked much better as a desert of alien ashes.

The Primarch glanced at the void battle occurring beyond the strategium's window. Sunsu followed his sire’s eyes. The Captain was no savant of naval warfare but even he could see the tide had turned in their favour. He flexed his fingers unconsciously, anticipating the inevitable ground war that came after naval superiority was established over a target world.

"Bring up tactical. Region Ket-9800," Asura commanded. This time new pict-images coalesced within the tacticaria to display an overhead view of another landscape also in ruins and rubble from the Dread Lord’s orbital bombardment. Tactical data feeds that appeared alongside the images told Sunsu that he was looking at the remains of a massive Ork fortress-city. Asura extended a hand toward the hololith and manually magnified the tactical display with the actuator sensors inside his gauntlets. Movement caught Sunsu's eyes. The Orks were known to be a particularly durable pest but to know that there had been survivors amongst the xenos made his choler swell. Like roaches from dark corners, many Orks emerged from the rubble until it became clear they were looking at enough numbers to constitute a horde.

"Xenos filth..."

Sunsu didn't need to guess who'd muttered that one. 3rd Captain Fubei had always been a brazen-mouthed one. The sons of Asura abhorred the alien and Fubei's sentiment was shared by every battle-brother in the strategium. The First Captain focused on his Primarch whose regally fierce eyes remained fixed on the hololith. They could bombard the xenos again but if the first had been ineffective then the second would be the same. The Orks were hardy beyond belief.

"How long has it been?"

"My lord?" Sunsu asked.

The bronze ironwork dais rotated around until the Primarch faced his Equerry. The Astartes captain met the eyes of his genefather. Even after innumerable battlefields together, sweating and bleeding alongside him, Sunsu was still awed by the sight of his Primarch. Asura's face was a sculpture above all sculptures, bareheaded and cleanshaven, a jawline sharper than the fangs of a Baigokian mane-wolf, lightly tanned skin gleaming with bottomless vitality and lips that hid teeth that could rip out the jugular of a battle automaton. That would rip out the jugular of a battle automaton. Sunsu had seen it happen. More than once too.

"How long has it been since we've tasted blood, my son? Do your two hearts ache for the beat of glory? Or have they been numbed by the coldness of the void?"

The First Captain pushed himself off his throne to stand before Asura. "My hunt is as eternal as yours, my lord! Even now I salivate at the prospect of blood to be spilled in your name and in the name of the Emperor."

His Primarch frowned, "Aye, I can sense your lust for battle Sunsu. The knife of jealousy you must have felt beneath your ribs watching your brothers be spat out to battle in the Claws. You wish to join them in battle. To claim your glory. But instead you are imprisoned aboard the Wrath, more useless than a bottom-deck munitions loader as you are forced to witness void war from the comfort of your officer throne."

"It pains me to be a witness instead of a warrior. But if my place is to be with you then I shall gladly endure," Sunsu said.

Asura bared his fangs in a grin, "As it should be, my son. As it should be." The Primarch stepped to the edge of the strategium's deck and looked down at the principal command deck. "Captain Shiva!"

A lithe young woman in a Navy officer's uniform adorned by medals looked up, "Yes, my lord?"

"I shall be undertaking an incursion. Ensure the Wrath is not infested with greenskins while I'm away."

She smirked, "You have my assurance that I'll do my best, my lord."

The Primarch marched off the dais he'd stood on for hours, Sunsu following closely behind. Passing out of the command bridge with the Terminator sentinels behind them, they marched through a maze of narrow, winding corridors. The human personnel they passed by acknowledged their lords with a nod though it was visible many wished to bow before the Primarch. It was only out of explicit order from Asura not to that they did not.

"Status of the assault force," Asura said.

"The 1st, 2nd and 3rd assault companies have been on standby since we dropped into the system, my lord," Sunsu said, his enhanced mind effortlessly recalling the details. "The 4th assault company has also been on standby, held for reserve."

"Prepare the 4th as well," the Primarch growled, "We will require them against the xenos."

"As you wish, my lord."



Navy personnel scrambled to attention as the Primarch entered the 1st embarkation deck. It was a deck reserved for the XIV's master and his honour guard. Along the stretching length of the deck were dozens of drop-pods fixed to their launch racks. Anvillus-pattern Dreadclaws they were and these weaponized transports were a mainstay of the Dread Lord’s arsenal.

His honour guard locked themselves into their designated drop-pods as electromagnetic railguns sheathing the transports began to heat up, the scent of oil and ozone wafting pervasively over the deck.

“Any updates on the landing zone?” Asura asked, locking himself in a Dreadclaw customized for Primarch-sized occupants. The lid doors slammed shut. The sound of magazine-checks was a tune for his transhuman ears.

“None, my lord. Climate readings remain within acceptable parameters,” voxed back the Master Augurum.

“Excellent. For the Emperor then.”

“For the Emperor, my lord.”

The Primarch switched to a fleet-wide vox frequency. His helm’s lenses glared blood red as he spoke, “My sons. The hour is upon us once more. We ride to war against xenos scum and we shall sate ourselves with their blood. Our brothers and sisters of the Legions watch us.The Emperor watches us. The Master of Mankind and our brethren Legions will witness the glory of the Dread Lords this day. We shall cleanse this world of greenskin filth. We shall cleanse by the blade! To pieces my sons!”

The XIV roared, “TO PIECES! CUT THEM TO PIECES!”

Alarm klaxons blared throughout the deck as navy personnel rushed to safety behind blast doors. Void shields opened across the fleet. Pressure rose to extreme levels. The rail launchers screamed at maximum acceleration.

“Launch.”

Like a ceremonial firing sequence, drop-pods were fired off consecutively from the 1st embarkation deck, joining their brothers from other decks in the void. The first wave of drop-pods from the Wrath were soon joined by the first wave of drop-pods from other ships in the fleet. And so it was that the bloody sons of Asura came down from the void in great tidal waves of steel and fire.
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Hidden 1 yr ago 7 mos ago Post by FrostedCaramel
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XVII Legion - Serpents of the Sun
Arel Extermination - Planet Vokun, Vokarr System


Dim red running lights cast the inside of the Land Raider in eerie shadows that danced and jumped with every movement of the formidable war machine. At the head of the troop compartment, the master-vox was alive with chatter as the battle for the capital city of Vokun raged on. Troop movements, unit conditions, positions, and several desperate calls for reinforcements and support from Imperial Army Regiments in the field rolled in over the vox channels. Responses from headquarters formations, artillery batteries, and aerial support answered in kind to those units in the most dire need of assistance, while even further support units called for position updates and route clarifications to reach evermore units in need of munitions and medical evacuations.

The muffled voice of the driver sounded over the internal vox channel and the Land Raider lurched heavily as it came to an abrupt stop, causing its sole occupant to reach for a handhold to keep steady as the sizable vehicle came to rest. A steady tone sounded briefly as the troop door unlocked and fell outwards, the whine of hydraulics easing the adamantium door to the ground with considerable effort filling the Primarch of the XVII legions ears as she ducked through troop hatch and stepped down to the mud of Vokun.

As quickly as Nelchitl had disembarked a pair of First Company Veterans took up her flanks as she strode through the tumult of the soldiers, adepts and medicae as they crisscrossed their way between tents, directed vehicles, and rushed supplies to resuscitation stations. The Primarch stopped to let a vehicle laden with wounded Imperial soldiers rush past before taking up her stride once more toward the command bunker at the center of the camp.

The pair of guards out front of the command bunker came to attention as they recognized the Primarch approaching, one of them breaking their stance to hurriedly open the blast doors of the prefabricated bunker to allow the commander of the entire Vokun Subjugation to enter the strategic center of her armies.

Entering the well lit interior of the bunker, the space was alive with the commands of officers, the information reports of adepts at vox stations and cogitator banks and the ever incessant buzz of the equipment they toiled over. There was a brief moment in which the eyes of a tired young officer met those of the Primarch as she walked to the strategium at the center of the bunker. It was at that moment that Nelchitl could practically feel the awe and admiration in the young officers as he realized the gift he had come to experience in the eyes of the demigod before him. As quickly as the officers eyes had met Nelchitl’s they were redirected with renewed vigor to the tasks at hand, the weary and exhausted face of the man replaced with determination and purpose in his every responsibility.

A group of Generals staff stood huddled around the holo-display at the center of a raised strategium in the command bunker, their faces drawn in distress and their words hushed and distressed as they attempted to sort the grim information streaming in from the front lines.

Without warning, the Primarch of the XVII Legion resplendent in her red and gold artificer armor despite the gore that adorned it, dropped her massive chainsword onto the strategium’s central holo-display with a resounding crash. Bits of organic matter and xenos blood splaying out around the weapon as it landed. Instantly the command staff of the bunker was focused upon her, all talk ceased to stare upon the Primarch with a mix of adoration and apprehension at whatever was to come next.

“This is unacceptable.” Nelchitl spoke to the room at large, anguish evident in her voice as the room hung on her every word, “Intelligence has failed us. The Arelian energy weapons are far stronger than had been assessed. But that does not make up for this stalemate that has developed. The Emperor has called upon the XVII and all her might to reinforce his undertaking in the Ullanor System, and yet we are unable to take this repugnant planet from the grip of the Xenos.”

Vox calls continued to roll in as the lower-ranked officers and vox-technicians, cowed as they were by their Primarchs initial outburst continued to perform their duties.

With the sweep of an arm at the arrayed Generals and their staff before her, wrath grew in the Primarch's eyes, “We cannot fail here. The Emperor awaits our arrival, without us victory may well be lost in Ullanor.” her hands danced across the holo-display controls before her, maps of the frontlines appearing to float in the air above the table and focusing in on a specific section, “I am mobilizing the Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth Companies from orbit to reinforce the Imperial regiments here.” a blinking symbol appeared on the holo-display above a conglomerate of regiments focused along the western edge of the Xenos capital city, “They will lead the charge to the curtain wall of the Arel capital with your regiments in close support. All other regiments are to hold the Arelian forces in combat at all costs that our spearhead can advance unhindered.”

Taking the hilt of her chainsword back in her hand Nelchitl hefted it above her head, “My Serpents will take the head of these Xenos, and Emperor willing, your regiments will stand at their side in this achievement that we may arrive to the Emperor with the winds of victory at our backs!”

Nelchitl could practically feel the atmosphere of the command bunker as it rose considerably from the shame of beaten men to that of warriors proud in their profession and worthy of their appointments to stand in the strategium of the XVII Legion, to stand at her side. “The intricacies are yours to decide upon, my Astartes await your guidance.” she lowered the chainsword and turned to exit the command bunker. Stepping down off the raised strategium the First Company Veterans fell back in at her side and flanked her return to the waiting Land Raider.



A turquoise Land Raider surged forward from behind an earthen mound and into a deluge of fluorescent energy weapons fire from the curtain wall. It was followed in close pursuit by three dozen more and the lumbering forms of Dreadnoughts bringing up the rear. The advancing spearhead of Land Raiders raked the curtain wall in lascannon and heavy bolter rounds. From above the shells of the Imperial Armies artillery rained on the battlements in a hellish barrage of high explosive and incendiary shells that cracked the very curtain wall itself. The Arel defenders unlucky enough to be caught on the receiving end of the opening barrage disappeared in clouds of superheated vapor as lascannon bolts met flesh, were torn apart as heavy bolters found their mark, or were simply vaporized in their dozens as high explosives fell amongst them. The formations of Land Raiders pushed ever forward through the still formidable amount of xenos weapons fire coming from the curtain wall. Forward toward the imposing outline of the closed gate that was to be their entrance, the Land Raiders’ weapons responding to the Arelian defenders' tenacious defense of their capital in kind.

“Major Anlin of the Iron Duke reports capacitors charged and canticles complete.” came a calm voice from the commander of the lead Land Raider over the vox net.

Iron Duke you may fire.” Nelchitl voxed as she watched the battle taking place outside of her Land Raider on a screen mounted in front of her position in the passenger compartment. The night was alight with the Arelian’s multicolored energy weapons fire, and the answering Imperial lascannons and tracer rounds.

There was no response from the commander of the Iron Duke for no words were needed to respond to the order they had been given. From nearly two kilometers distant the Shadowsword’s barrel arced with discharging energy and the venerable super heavy tank’s Machine Spirit itself whined in anticipation as it unleashed the power of its main gun on the unsuspecting xenos defenders of the city. The Iron Dukes response was nothing short of annihilation.

The astounding light show of the assault was overtaken and drowned out by a concentrated beam of energy so powerful that the exterior cameras of the Land Raider and Astartes optics alike were forced to automatically shutter themselves lest they be rendered useless. The air above the advancing Serpents’ spearhead abruptly flared in a blinding beam of orange and yellow as the Shadowsword Iron Duke unleashed its volcano cannon upon the curtain wall’s gate.

The sky erupted in fire as the super dense laser beam made contact with the xenos structure. It stripped away layers of armor several meters thick in just milliseconds and ignited the air around it in a cataclysm few among the mortal Imperial attackers had witnessed in their lives. Pieces of debris larger than a Wolfram tank rained down in all directions crushing xenos structures inside the city and an unlucky Land Raider as they fell amongst the battlefield. Molten metal and stone slag ran in rivers from the remains of the curtain wall closest to where the gate had once stood, and a thick and toxic cloud of noxious vaporized materials hung in the air ahead of the Land Raiders.

The abrupt removal of the gate and a considerable portion of the curtain wall along with the defenders therein seemed to give the survivors pause as the Land Raiders streamed through the breach. Fire upon the armored transports was intermittent, undisciplined, and wild as the defenders seemed to be reeling and attempting to regroup in the wake of the cannon’s strike.

Nelchitl shrugged the harness from her shoulders as the Land Raider spearhead fanned out in the square that lay beyond the breach. Once more a steady tone sounded briefly to herald the opening of the troop hatch, but this time instead of a slow and steady release the door was dropped by gravity to slam to the ground as quickly as possible.

Nelchitl’s armored form hit the still steaming stone of the square already firing her plasma pistol at the defenders positions ahead of her. Beams from the Arelian weapons cracked into the ground around her and deflected off the armored transport beside her as she began to move forward. At her sides the Sisters of the Eighth Company began letting loose with their bolters and volkite rifles on the xenos scum that dared to resist their inevitable end. Quickly the Sisters of the Ninth Company joined the advance as energy weapons burnt away the outer layers of ceramite and left deep gouges in the adamantium of their power armor beneath. The Land Raiders kept up their fires, supporting the advance of their Primarch and their Sisters as they shrugged off hit after hit of Arelian energy weapons.

Dropping into a trench on the far side of the square Nelchitl mag-locked her plasma pistol to her armor and took up her chainsword in both hands. With speed and reflexes beyond that of even her beloved daughters she began to hack her way mercilessly through the Arelian soldiers that occupied the trench. As her daughters dropped in at her side they made quick work of the remaining xenos and claimed the trench as their own in only a handful of heart beats.

“Excertus Imperialis at the breach.” came the vox distorted voice of Captain Felcia of the Sixth Company.

Turning her attention to the Imperial soldiers and the Sisters of the Sixth Company as they flowed through the breach with regimental banners held proud, Nelchitl felt something akin to purpose as she watched the mortal soldiers before her run head first into a living nightmare. To give humanity a galaxy that they could call their own, free of Xenos and the need for such acts of heroism was the ultimate vision of her Father, of her God. Opening a vox channel to the Company Commanders and Officers Nelchitl quickly relayed orders to cover the advance of the Imperial regiments. She rose from the trench and once more leveled her pistol on the xenos ahead.

Several Dreadnoughts pressed past the trench line of Astartes and into the city streets beyond with weapons bristling and warhorns blaring.

“Forward!” Nelchitl bellowed easily over the deluge of fires and through the open vox channel of her suit, “For the Fifth Sun!”

The Battle Sisters of the Sixth, Eighth and Night Companies answered her warcry in unison as they rose from the trench.

“For the Emperor!” her daughters responded like thunder.
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Augor Astren
Sarghaul Tartareus
Veritas Res

in

Diversion at Ullanor Quartus


Upon the fringes of the Ullanor system towards the Galactic North, the silent and empty expanse of space outside of the Ullanor Star’s gravity was shattered with the abrupt arrival of an immense wall of ships, scything into being like the stroke of terror accompanying a heart attack. Fifteen Macroclade Fleets of the Ordo Astranoma - each one having warped in arranged in Vanguard formation, mythical Arks spearheading formations of Cruisers, all poised with deadly stillness as light surged and coalesced around the length of the barrels for their nova cannons. For a split instant after the arrival of the armada of vessels, all was still once more.

This lasted only as long as it took each of the mighty flagships to acquire targeting solutions.

All over the Northern Front of the Ullanor system, dozens of Ork vessels were instantly engulfed in blossoming nebulas or annihilating antimatter detonations. Some vessels - such as the mighty Ork Deadnots and a number of tremendous Spacehulks - were even bombarded by multiple Nova Cannon strikes simultaneously, briefly eclipsing even the Star of Ullanor itself in brightness as seething and hideous destructive energies eclipsed their frames.

As the remnant emission of the alpha strike from the Mechanicum vessels dissipated, most of the targeted victims had simply been atomized and erased from existence. A few, however, had survived. The few surviving Ork Spacehulks and Deadnots, mutilated but still somehow - impossibly - functional began to orient towards the new threats, and Ork voxcallers screamed across the system in alert.

“DA HUMMIES IZ HER! WAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!”

The Mechanicum armada of the Orda Astranoma had all emerged at an unusual ingress vector along the Northern Perimeter of the system, and had arrived further out than was strictly necessary. The distance between them and even the closest intact Ork vessel was tremendous, measuring almost more than an entire lighthour. Despite this, their crews saw no good reason not to open fire immediately. Thousands of Ork craft spat projectiles at the intruding Mechanicum fleets immediately as they spun around and began to accelerate through space. Each and every shot they fired - Ork Munitions not being renowned for their accuracy to begin with - careened off into the furthest reaches of space, never to be seen again.

But while there were hundreds of Mechanicum vessels present, there were tens of thousands of Ork vessels now slowly throttling towards them. The Armada’s nova cannons would take a substantial amount of time to recharge, even with their Mars-Pattern reactor feeds enabling them to fire the potent weapons much more frequently than any other vessel of the Imperial Navy. There was nearly an entire light minute of distance between the Armada of the Ordo Astranoma and the nearest Ork vessel, but as soon as the Orks began to charge their own drives to perform in-system warp jumps - a suicidal maneuver to anybody BUT an Ork, with practically no sense of self preservation or fear or failure - even the fractional, damaged survivors to spill from the Warp would be more than numerous enough to simply overwhelm the Macroclade fleets.

Upon the bridge of the Armada’s leading Flagship, the Ineffable Artifice - an immense Ark Mechanicum vessel to rival even Gloriana class battleships - Augor Astren, Primarch of the 12th Legion of the Emperor of All Mankind’s Astartes Space Marines, viewed the tactical display and evaluated the casualties from the transition through the warp. Surrounded by the relatively diminutive frames of his personal cadre, the nearly three and and half meter tall Primarch, augmented from head to toe with bionics and sporting a massive servo-harness of six servo-limbs and countless mechadendrites, seemed more like a massive, spindly siege engine or some chaotic extrusion of the ship itself than Human. Dismissing the tactical readouts with a twitch from one dendrite, the Primarch opened a voxcall with the commanders of the two attache groups that accompanied his armada, the disparate light and color schemes from within the other vessels casting stark contrast across what remained of the ashen-colored flesh of his face, turned a seemingly dead color from a lifetime of saturation with tailored chemical cocktails, volatile energy, radiation, and cybernetic augmentation.

“The Macroclade fleets have made a successful transition through the Warp into the Ullanor system with minimal casualties due to turbulence. Our opening volley has successfully destroyed 90% of all initial targets, remainder are speculated to be too heavily damaged to perform in-system jumps. Numerous Ork Warp Drive signatures have been detected building power for transition. The plan proceeds apace.”

The vox crackled for a moment, without a concrete signal to latch on, before abruptly falling into deathly silence. It was not the mere silence of a lack of communication, nor that of an empty wavelength. There was a dim, oppressive air to that stillness which betrayed its origin - the voxcall had been answered, and the response came from a cold, sepulchral atmosphere. After what had been only a few instants, stretched in perception by that crushing void to the point they could have felt like minutes, a voice spoke, inhumanly low and deformed by a host of intervening mechanical addenda. Besides the thick, metallic distortion of what must have been a heavy faceguard worn by the speaker, it was punctuated by a hollow churning, as if his mouth had been almost level with a watery surface.

“Understood.” A gurgling wheeze, akin to the collapse of a miniature cataract, broke through the terse speech. “The Tempests of the Ninth are keeping pace. Ensure the creatures’ force is mangled by the accorded time.”

“Proceed as was ordained,” a brief and distorted voice responded to their elaborate proceedings. “My Duolons shall follow the prepared routes once our foes have caught interest in your maneuvers.” The voice, an eerie monotone cut vapidly into the aether as quickly as it had entered. Posing an appropriately dissonant reference to the stillness provided by the one prior.

The heavier, sunken words sounded again. “Beginning course corrections to approach Ullanor Quartus. The Orks will be bound to it once the next stage of the battle is joined.” With a flicker, the transmission returned to silence.

At the other end of the vox-line, a great clawed hand tapped the ungainly steel bulk of the interface emitter, deadening a few of its lights and deepening the darkness in the cavernous command hall. A far cry from the luminescent spectacle of Augor’s seat, the bridge of the Tide of Achaeron, the titanic master vessel of the Abyssal Lurkers’ fleet, was as steeped in shadow and devoid of vital sounds as the most recondite of oceanic caverns. Only the faint glow of crucial equipment and projected spatial mapping weakly broke its stygian blackness, and the cold aquamarine eyes of its occupants’ armoured visors - eyes that had no need of light to see. The bulky forms below them, encased in dim plate, would have seemed ghostly and indistinct to anyone else, but their vitreous gazes could discern even the most weathered unit marking on each other’s shoulders.

One pair of those eyes in particular stood tall above the others, almost twice their height from the ground. Sarghaul turned away from the console, leaving it to the attention of the many-limbed acolytes of the Legion’s Forge, and stalked out of the chamber with steps that sent light tremors coursing even through the reinforced carcass of the battleship. Through the wide arched gateway that led to the bridge he went, raising his jagged forearm and giving a light twitch of his talons in a signal as he went - and the imposing forms of two Terminators, encased in Tartaros armour of a blue so deep it was almost black, who had until then stood guard to each side of the threshold, immobile as statues, stirred to follow him. Two more awaited some three metres away, flanking the ample corridor that led deeper into the belly of the ship, and so did they move to follow when their progenitor passed by them. Two more joined them after an equal interval, and then two more, and more yet, until all of the Orcus Lictors, the exalted aegis of the Primarch of the Ninth, were gathered in procession. Glimmers of force coursed along the powered talons adorning their hands in imitation of their master, and the mouths of death-spitting weaponry awned hungrily at their wrists.

Not a single soul crossed the troop’s path as they descended, so that, despite being the heart of all seven Tempests, the Tide may well have appeared as a ghost ship more forsaken than a space hulk, until, after several descending turns through a maze of branching passageways, they emerged into a veritable vault of a hangar. Though merely one of many in the sightless bowels of the battleship, it dwarfed the bridge by orders of magnitude, and without the even so ephemeral glow of control devices it was steeped in utter inky blackness, where only distant clusters of cerulean eyes flitted to and fro like will-o’-the-wisps over a fresh grave. Undeterred, Sarghaul marched towards one of those unstable constellations, the ranks of his honour guard at his heels. What he saw before himself, as clear as day, were no mere lost points of light, but a septet of Expergefactor Techmarines, heavy with the strange paraphernalia of their craft, circling around the crouching mass of a Flegias Dreadnought. The ancient was freshly awoken, still covered in briny droplets from his watery crypt, and unlike most of his entombed brethren bore signs of his age in the guise of commemorative emblems across his frame. A curious collection it was, many of them not having been in use for a long time, predating the reunion of the Tartarean Primarch with his sons, while a few had never been conferred away from Terra; though guessing at the elder’s age would have been fruitless, it was clear at a glance that he was tremendously old even among his kind.

Although the Dreadnought’s custodians could not but have heard their gene-sire’s approach, most of them did not acknowledge him beyond a glance and a nod. Only one took a step forward to meet him.

“The Venerable is awoken, lord, and he has roused the spirits bound to him,” the Expergefactor’s voice, steely and toneless in an inorganic way, could have unsettled even another among the Lurkers, “But he is not yet attuned to the path to come. He awaits your command.”

Sarghaul waved him aside and locked gazes with the opaque sensors of the living sarcophagus. It did not stir.

“Arise to battle, Rethius,” he rumbled, and gave a churning breath, “Speak.”

Moments of silence, then -

“To seek is to suffer. To await is to lie amid thorns. Know only the moment, for it dies as our foes do. It dies.” The flat, mechanical staccato of the Dreadnought’s voice grew echoing as it spun in harrowed circles. “It dies, it dies, it dies, it dies, it die…”

It died, too, as one of the attendants whispered a formula of ministation and slammed something closed on its back.

“A battle awaits that is like many others,” he explained, in a voice that seemed perfectly identical to that of the one who had greeted Sarghaul, “The Elder One has spoken no ill omens. Go with victory, my lord.”

The Primarch dipped his head in somewhat skeptical acknowledgement. He had never been one to give much weight to the oracles of the Expergefactors and their charges, but such was tradition. A faint noise from nearby dispelled those routine thoughts he had revisited before a hundred hundred clashes. Someone was writing in a dataslate, furtively, a sound that would have been imperceptible to any that did not make his home in utter silence, but struck him as an irritating droning. He glanced sideways, and an all too familiar red bionic eye stared back from under a silken hood, frozen if a mechanical organ could be. Before even he stirred to move, one of the Lictors sharply gestured away, and the robed figure, minuscule among the towering Astartes, withdrew with an anxious bow.

That pest of a chronicler usually knew well enough to stay out of the way, but the ramblings of the ancients sometimes drew her out of her corners enough to be a nuisance. He never had quite understood why. Perhaps the meanderings of their withered minds really did seem mystical to impressionable mortals.

In but a few seconds, the Remembrancer was once again all but forgotten as he walked past the now quiescent Rethius, towards files of other Dreadnoughts further away. Many of them would see war again on that day, after months, years, sometimes decades of slumber. The Expergefactor Summus really had emptied the catacombs for this occasion. And they would need it. A world teeming with Orks lay ahead.

A battle like many others, the oracle had said. In spite of all, in one way this was true.

The inhuman would perish.




Time passed. Orks screamed without pause in the void of space, firing innumerable munitions into oblivion - and then their warp drives engaged. Shimmering veils of iridescent light sheared across their bows, and thousands of the crude spacecraft vanished.

“Navigators have confirmed approximate enemy warp vectors. Machine spirits are set for timed salvos synchronized with the emergence of the first vessels. Deployment hangars are pre-jettisoning munitions.” A tech-priest relayed amongst the various fleet-groups in Lingua-Technis - the two attache groups to the armada receiving a delayed Cant Mechanicum translation of the same announcement.

“All vessels begin warp jump sequencing. Prime to jump in concert with the Merciless Service. All vessels confirm preparations.”

A flood of affirmative signals were cast between the vox-relay systems - numerous ships sent back negatives, but their subsequent requests for delay were summarily ignored. The plan had already accounted for a margin of failure in the second warp jump maneuver, and the number of ships unable to make it in time was well within acceptable parameters.

In mere moments, hundreds of Ork vessels - the first in a staggered series of craft that had gone to warp to close distance with the armada - appeared amidst the Macroclade fleets, and were immediately beset by blind-fired macrocannon and lance volleys, aimed only by the most cursory of automated machine-spirit guidance. The simple mass of fire poured into the arriving ships was enough to destroy several and cripple many - but in addition to several stray shots impacting allied ships within the Armada itself, disrupting their preparations to jump to warp, many of the Ork vessels were simply too massive and sturdy to be bent and broken by the deluge of fire. Innumerable Ork Gunners shouted out as they mindlessly directly return fire out at the Macroclade vessels…
Only to be left slack-jawed and bewildered as nearly all of their targets vanished into the void, leaving nothing behind… except for a number of Rad Tempest Void Mines. A scant instant later, they detonated, and the Northern border of the Ullanor system became awash with the incandescent light of a gamma-ray maelstrom that slowly degraded the hulls of every vessel caught within its expanse - both those of the Orks, and of the unfortunate vessels that were unable to make the second jump to safety in time. The maelstrom cascaded and persisted, and continued to churn and burn at the staggered and haphazard formations of Ork craft that arrived from out of the warp in the area.

Several lightminutes away - and now at a substantially closer approach vector to Ullanor Quartus - the Armada reappeared, and after another momentary pause, a second salvo of deadly Nova Cannon fire lashed out from its wall of flagships to thoroughly blast apart the Orkish craft warping into the artificial Rad Tempest, their shields and hulls fatally weakened by the writhing energies upon arrival.

“Second jump stage completed. Initiating high-energy propulsion burns to enter Ullanor system proper. All ships, break into preassigned Macroclade groups and approach your assigned system targets. May the Omnissiah bring us victory.” The monotonous and droning voice of the vox-announcer over the various command craft channels , which was relayed in scant seconds of unintelligible static for the members of the Ordo Astranoma, was then pain-stakingly translated into Cant Mechanicum for the benefit of the other vessels and legions present.




It was time.

Inside their swarm of drop-pods and landing craft, the silent legions of the Ninth waited. Eyes shut behind their visors, they recited the war-mantras of the via consensus in their minds, preparing to emerge from shadowed peace into the chaos of the battlefield and lose themselves in a different way. Not in the soundless oblivion of meditation, but in the unyielding focus of combat and purpose, the determination of slaughter bred into them all.

I wade into the tide of havoc, strong like an avalanche. I am the avalanche. There is no I.

I stand against its waves, firm like a rock. I am the rock. There is no I.

I smother it with a force of silent order, cloying like poison. I am the poison. There is no I.

I am duty. There is no I.

Only duty.


Beside them, separated only by the armoured flanks of larger marked pods, unthinking things of gnashing teeth and scraping claws readied themselves in their own way. They had not been fed in days. They hungered. The narcotic haze they had been shackled with for a long time was fading, and they felt the pangs of visceral desire more and more painfully.

Once, they would have hammered the walls of their prison, cried and begged, pondered and plotted an escape to their plight. Once, they had been human. But none of that remained now. They snapped and howled, impatiently flexing their claws. They craved flesh. They were Infestus, and they were hunger.

Other minds yet stood expectant in the underbelly of the dark ships of the Tempests. They were perhaps purest, bafflingly indifferent in their primitive simplicity. Vast segmented legs scraped the floor of gargantuan dropships. Recurve pincers that could have snapped a Terminator in half tapped together in idle reflex. The monstrous charybdes that gave their Abyssal masters their name did not know where they went, nor did they care. They simply went.

That, Sarghaul mused as he had come into the habit to do before every deployment, was what true Astartes should have thought. What he had been guiding his sons to with his teachings and customs. The arrogant might have thought it a degradation, to bring the human level with the bestial. But this was just that - arrogance. A proper warrior of the Emperor ought to know their place, their nature as a tool, a weapon forged for a single purpose. Anything beyond that was a superfluity and a nuisance.

A vision not just for the Astartes, but for all mankind. For a strong Imperium.

The pod around him screeched and vibrated as it was prepared for launch. Now that the way was clear, so was his own purpose in this moment. To crush the Orks on Ullanor Quartus, to pin them under the weight of his forces, choking off reinforcements to the core of the system.

There was no room for failure, but he was not anxious. He knew no fear.

With a roar, the pod launched.

The descent was a blur, then the impact. The doors slid open, and the colossal Primarch stepped out upon the scorched ground.

Around him, the assault had already begun. The eerily silent ranks of the Lurkers clashed with screaming green hordes in makeshift armour across swathes of earth charred by preparatory bombardment, imbibed with nauseous toxins and teeming with pools of coalesced viral solutions. Xeno bodies in various stages of corrosion already littered the field in mounds amid the rusty heaps of their ruined war machines, victims of the first orbital volleys, but still countless more kept coming, thirsting for nothing but bloodshed.

The Orks knew their one purpose. Of all the wretched inhumans, they were the only ones who came close to being worthy foes. He would grant them their wish.

Emerging from their own transports, the Orcus Lictors formed in a wedge around him as he surveyed the tide of battle. The bulk of the Lurker footsoldiers were already at close quarters with the enemy, their sluggish speed obviated by having made planetfall directly in the xenos’ midst. Here and there, their blue front against the green tide was interspersed with the dark brown of Truthlayer support attachments, who fought in the same grim silence as their brothers. The looming, crawling forms of Dreadnoughts and armoured charybdes went toe to toe with the clattering amalgams that were the Orkish parodies of armoured vehicles, trading thunderous cannon-fire and slashes from gigantic claws. Warped Infestus horrors teared and gnawed at flesh, leaping against charging lines of howling beast-riders. Curtains of venomously crackling green flame and geysers of irradiated sludge roiled where the Legion’s Destroyers plied their forbidden art.

Without so much as a word, Sarghaul motioned to his guard, and they charged into a momentarily exposed flank of the unruly alien mass, sweeping their claws and disgorging bolts laden with withering acid. No sooner had those greenskins whose skulls were still mostly intact rallied from the shock that the giant himself was among them. In the thick of the disorderly mob, each sweep of his titanic claws mauled and eviscerated by the dozen, as lightning coursed in jagged chains to strike at those who sprayed bullets from over their fellows’ heads.

The Orks fell upon him, heedless of how many fell in charred husks or mutilated carcasses. They chopped at his legs, clambered over him from behind, hurled themselves forward with all manner of weapons - all to no avail, as if they had been chipping away at a living bastion.

However, that blaze of commotion did not go unnoticed.

The massed ranks of the xenos were abruptly parted as a massive greenskin, flanked by several armoured brutes as large as Terminators, made his way through them, shoving his minions aside with nary a concern for where they ended up. The Warboss clacked his rusty metallic jaws in anger at the sight of the dark cuneus driven into his army, and cleanly chopped through the head of a hapless nearby grot as he brandished the monstrous ragged plate that passed for an axe in his hand.

“Rrah! Ya want sumfing done proppa’, ya gotta do it yerself!” he kicked a smaller Ork to the ground without even noticing as he advanced against the Lictors and their towering leader, “Get off ‘ere, ya runty gitz, and get dem ‘umie nobz outta da way! Da big one’s mine!”

Galvanized, the Ork mob under the lead of the Warboss’ bodyguards rushed against the Lurker honour guards. Though they fell by the scores to their talons and acidic salvoes, they were many, and now had a single bigger head to lead them. Some of the dark-armoured Astartes fell under torrents of flames and bullets and the sheer mass of green bodies, and the others were forced apart out of formation by the renewed charge. The space between Sarghaul and the giant Ork was clear.

“Dis iz how ya do it! WAAAAGH!” With a bellowing battle cry, the Warboss vaulted at the Tartarean One, crossing the gap between them in a single leap, and brought down his axe against his opponent’s side. The Primarch did not budge, though cracks appeared in his armour where the tremendous blow had struck, and retaliated with a series of scything strikes. Yet the Ork was nimbler and lighter on his feet. He dodged the wide swipes of the massive claws in a dance of agile jumps and sidesteps, now and then finding room to land a hit of his own. The gargantuan etched armour was chinked in more and more places, but still Sarghaul did not let up, unleashing swing after swing at his smaller enemy.

“Hrah, I’z almost gettin’ bored ‘ere!” the greenskin taunted with a roaring laugh that nevertheless betrayed a very real annoyance - like all his kind, he was quick to get impatient. “‘Urry up an’ die already so I gets to take yer ugly ‘ead for da pole!”

He lunged in a mighty, reckless strike, and found no defence as he cut through Sarghaul’s pauldron. But his triumph was short-lived, for he had left himself wide open in a gambit to cut down his foe with this final cleave, and his burly body fell limp as the Claws of Oblivion gouged it open from leg to throat, tips piercing into his skull from beneath his armoured jaw. With a final snap, they sliced from within through the still snarling face, letting the ponderous corpse fall to the ground.

Seeing their leader collapse, the Orks all around hesitated.

“Zog, da boss iz down!” one shouted, “Ya gitz know wot we do now?”

“I sayz we runs back an’ figures wot do, coz’ I sure can’t finks proppa’ now!” another answered, finding time to briefly turn his head and yell despite being locked in combat with a pincer-wielding Assault Marine. His distraction was swiftly rewarded with a beheading snap.

“An’ who sayz ya da boss?” one of the surviving bodyguards snarled, “We just gots to gets togetha’ an’ give dem ‘umie zoggers a shove!”

“Ya all shaddup, ya puny squigz!” the largest Nob still standing smacked an insubordinate boy over the head strong enough to send half of it flying, “All we’z gotta do iz stay ‘ere an’ keep krumpin’, else Boss Urruk gonna ‘ave our ‘eadz!”

And so, though faltering in places, the Ork horde held its ground.

Just as the plan demanded.

Sarghaul tore off an arm from one of the greenskins holding down a Lictor, giving the Terminator an opening to drive his claw through the skull of his other opponent, and turned back towards the bulk of the horde. It had been considerably thinned, but reinforcements were still pouring in from all sides. That was well. His task was to hold as many of them as possible locked in battle over this peripheral planet.

And the more of them he killed, the better he would fulfil his purpose.




“Primarch, IX is proceeding as planned; XII maintaining orbit,” echoed a voice across the vox aboard the Absolute’s bridge, the sound bouncing and reverberating throughout the vast halls therein akin to distant quakes of thunder. It’s origin, the commander of the detachment allocated to service alongside the shoulders of the Abyssal Lurkers, one of the praetorate, produced for their Primarch the final updates before the soon to be undertaken maneuver along the planned course. The ship, distantly removed, along with its fleet, from the Macroclades which it had accompanied upon its system-entry. Adrift in the distant upper-atmosphere, at the edge of the planet’s gravity well, there he listened. There he had bid his time for this moment.

He sat, his optical cybernetics linked into a vast and hulking, behemothic device of incomprehensible complexity, through a series of thick and gruesome wires. Thanks to it, and the cadre of tech-priests heralding from the closely-allied realm of Mortisimo, he could see the ship and all within it. Thanks to his sight, blessed by the Emperor’s kind hand, he could see the future within which he must travel. He stared blankly ahead of him, whilst simultaneously witnessing everything within his flagship. Balisterius Stratama stood humbled as he signed the vox communications and their assorted statistics and calcula for their overlord.

All around him, the imperial navy officers and their staff focused on all things but the Primarch who glared his sun-bright eye against their backs, shivering ever so occasionally. It was no surprise that one individual such as the Truthlayers’ Primarch, one blessed with powers such as he, would inspire both fear and might throughout his ranks. The ship’s foremost captain, Admiral Ysterov, knew far better. He stood at the giant’s side, vocal through both his tongue and his body, making all manner of aberrant gestures as he shouted at his crew to perform their best better. It was soon time, Veritas thought as he saw hundreds of men, women, and even children, pass by his bridge deck before him; shifting from one individual to the next, whilst sometimes being the same. All that he saw was useless but one, for now. He honed upon the path to be taken, and focused on the present moment, raising his voice to a cooled roar without tonation - shouting without the properties of a shout.

“Orient about; engage engines.”

“Aye, Primarch,” responded Admiral Ysterov as he waved towards the vox-operator sat directly below the vast arch-shaped window at the bridge’s fore. The intention was clear, at least to the vox-operator, as he flicked a lever with all his might, and held it in position. “Duolon Primaris, orient about! Engage maximum thrust!” Roared the Admiral, the noise of the unbelievable might of the engines shaking the very entirety of the Gloriana-class battleship under their unified might.

“Truth be brought?” spoke Balisterius Stratama, his voice shallow and hoarse, effort clearly seen with each breath drawn. He locked eyes with his Primarch, almost crushed underneath their steeled stare and unflinching resolution

“It is known,” Veritas responded sharply, the man at his side, Achaelon Omnigus, moving towards distant quarters at the phrase’s mentioning. Likewise, Balisterius bowed pointedly, as deep as his armour could allow him, before he too made his way towards the rest of the legion housed far away from the Bridge. The remainder of the praetorate, those not employed along the side of other legions and their battlefields throughout the system, followed suit.

Veritas stared, what some would consider blindly, into the abyss beyond the window which divided the realms of void and men. But what he saw was not blackness, he saw the realm of Ullanor Prime centered along the prow of his vessel. He loosened his focus, and took in all the hundreds of tactical displays amidst the vast bridge’s expanse; saw the thousands who also beheld them shift and mingle with the changing times. He saw the battlefield he would emerge on, and the orks which he would fell with his own sword.

He felt it.

He felt it deep within his core, the only thing which could make him feel. It was anticipation, anticipation of a great event to come - soon. He would fight along the emperor’s side and prove to him once again that he is worthy to build the dream of paradise just as well as the Custodes at his guard can.

He closed his eyes briefly, returning to the calmness. He felt the chatter, the distant bickering of the fore-most cogitator console operators who believed themselves too distant for the Primarch to notice.

He opened his eyes again, and stared. It’s radiant glow instilling a serene silence throughout the deck once more.

Admiral Yberov stood at his side, the last to do so after all the Astartes had left the deck for the rallying quarters entombed within the center-ship. He was unnerved yet awed at his Lord’s presence. Manifest death and victory within one vessel, he thought before swiftly returning to his mission. He continued to roar directives to the thousands of officers along the vast halls of the Absolute’s command deck.

Veritas shifted his gaze slightly, his emotionless visage leaving both no room for interpretation, whilst also being filled with the prospect for it.

He looked upon the Admiral’s silhouette briefly, coldness evident in his otherwise stellar irises..

With the engines cut, and the shaking ceased; the fleets of the Truthlayers legion were now destined for Ullanor Prime’s orbit.
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Blitzy
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Blitzy

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XVIII Legion - The Black Manticores 2nd Battle Company
M31.000
Bridge of the Dark Promise
Ullanor Quintus
Ullanor Sector


Leonarys had witnessed the vast expanse of the void a thousand times, and he would witness it a thousand more. It mattered not how many times the Praetor travelled through the swirling ocean of stars. True comprehension of it would always elude him. Gazing out from the bridge of the Grand Cruiser Dark Promise, Leonarys pondered upon how many billions were going about their daily lives, blissfully unaware of the blood being shed for their benefit on this Crusade. The true scale of the Imperium, of the all the lives it had touched, was truly unfathomable. Leonarys pushed the thoughts from his head. Wonderings fit for a scholar, perhaps. But now was the not the time for ponderance or sentiment.

All around, consoles and panels were ablaze with electric glow, the bright blue light waging war against the shadows of the otherwise poorly lit bridge. Hundreds of loyal servitors, more a part of the ship than they were their own person, spanned the decks below the raised walkway where Leonarys and other assorted command personnel stood. Their movements were relentless, keying commands and processing data. Bundles of thick electrical cables protruded from their flesh, connecting them to the ship like individual nerves of a single mechanical brain, controlling the ship in harmony as easily as Leonarys might move an arm. The hum of the raw electrical energy powering the surrounding machinery and circuitry was dull and incessant, secondary in volume only to the jumbled chatter of the hundreds present on the ship’s bridge.

The Dark Promise stood at the head of a few dozen warships tasked with bringing the righteous wrath of the Emperor to the Ork-infested world of Ullanor V. While a large contingent of the XVIII legion’s forces remained at Ullanor Prime in preparation for a strike at the core of this so-called empire, Leonarys had been hand chosen by his gene-father to lead a secondary group in the cleansing of the system’s other worlds. With Ullanor V the designated target, Leonarys had been only too honoured to accept the command, venturing out immediately with some ten thousand of his legionary brothers. He had not been counting the days since his fleet group had left that of the Primarch’s, but he was sure several had passed. For those days he had seen nothing but stars, a surreal stillness that often preluded the glory and bloodshed of battle. That prelude had reached its conclusion now, it seemed, for the view from the bridge now had the world of Ullanor V at its center.

“It is upon us.” The voice from Leonarys’ right was that of Ophiel Mectus, the Chief Lorekeeper of the Black Manticores. He was a curious man, wizened and weathered despite not being vastly older than most of the other Astartes. Leonarys had always assumed his elderly appearance to be a side effect of the psychic ‘gifts’ that men like Ophiel possessed, but whether there was any truth to that notion, Leonarys did not know. Nor did he know why now, of all times, Ophiel had decided to venture beyond the safety of the Legion’s sanctum on Ictar. The Chief Lorekeeper was hardly a reputed warrior, preferring usually to do battle with the dust-covered repositories of the Librarium than the foes of the Imperium of Man. Yet here he stood, at Leonarys’ side.

“It is upon us,” Leonarys echoed, before turning away from his position and towards a large circular holo-table at the centre of the strategium, where Astartes and Imperial Naval personnel alike stood gathered and waiting. The Praetor bellowed into his vox, “Give me scans of the defences.” With a flicker, ranged scans presented a high-resolution holographic image of the planet, a zoomed in picture of what Leonarys had been observing moments before. The light bathed the room, tinting his pale skin an ethereal blue. Quickly into view came the battlefleet, the Dark Promise, Ullanor V. And the Orks. Leonarys grimaced as he took in the details of what lay before him.

Despite the fact that the considerable bulk of the Ork forces had converged on Ullanor Prime to defend their core world, it was obvious that they had not left the other planets of the system undefended. Crude Ork warships, hulking behemoths of repurposed scrap metal, floated in orbit with a grace entirely unbefitting of their cack-handed construction. Their numbers were less than, but not too dissimilar from, the Black Manticores battlefleet that Leonarys commanded; a handful of larger ships, none obviously marked as any kind of capital ship, and a smattering of smaller vessels. Unlike the Imperial force, there was no uniformity of design, and Leonarys would not have been surprised if a number of the ships before them had been hastily assembled to bolster the Greenskin forces since the Astartes had reached the Ullanor system. It seemed that was not the only thing they had been building, much to the dismay of Leonarys and the assembled officers.

On either side of the formation of Ork ships, two space stations stood sentinel. Leonarys commanded for them to become the focus of the display, staring intently at the constructs. His eyes went around the faces of those at the table, their expressions a mixture of confusion and concern. The constructs were indeed perplexing. Apparently formed from a hollowed rock, the Orks had improvised a space station by crudely splicing scrap metal with asteroids. The platforms were heavily armed, sporting more weapons than anyone could reasonably have use of. Leonarys spied Ophiel across the table to his left, grinning at the improvised stations with genuine childlike delight.

“Fascinating,” the Chief Lorekeeper said under his breath. “I had read about such things in the repositories, but to see it with my own eyes.” He gave pause. “The Orks may be crude and feral, but their ingenuity is astonishing.”

“They are a threat to the Imperium,” Captain Izral countered Ophiel, “and they will be purged.”

Leonarys raised a hand to hush them both. “Captain Addis.” The Praetor’s voice was gruff and commanding, cutting through the background noise and commanding all present to listen. The Imperial Naval officer directly opposite from the Praetor stood bolt upright, abandoning whatever thoughts had been troubling him to focus on the conversation at hand. He was relatively young for a captain if the ones Leonarys had met before were anything to go by. His uniform was clustered with multicoloured medals, however, and Leonarys had little option but to trust in this man’s abilities. “Have you completed full scans of orbit?”

“Yes, Sir.” The response was curt, but polite.

“And this is all there is? I do not wish to commit to battle only to be blindsided.”

“This is everything, sir. The Orks have mustered all available naval forces into orbit to oppose us.”

“Good. I assume, as we have not yet been fired upon, that for the time being we are out of range of those weapon platforms. The Greenskins are hardly notorious for their restraint.” Leonarys took pause to return the readout to a full view of the planet, the Orks, and all the space between them and his own fleet. Leonarys was a battlefield commander, not a naval tactician, but in the absence of one more qualified the burden of command had come to rest squarely on his hulking shoulders.

“It is evident that if we charge headlong into this engagement, the combined fire of their fleet and stations would cripple us to the point of rendering a successful ground campaign near impossible. Our goal is to secure Ullanor V for the Imperium, and dominance in orbit is the crucial first stage of that endeavour.”

“We could call for aid.”

“We could, Izral, but every moment that we languish in inaction we risk a reinforcing Ork fleet arriving.” Leonarys stared hard at the readout, shaking his head at the situation that faced him. The fleet had no choice but to face the enemy head on, that much was clear to Leonarys. While some of the Imperial forces had been dispatched in large numbers to tackle Ullanor’s scattered planets. Leonarys and his fleet were comparatively few in number. Had they found the world better defended, it was likely they would have had to abandon their pursuits. Similarly, had they been more numerous then everything would have been more straightforward. Leonarys counted himself fortunate to not be staring down a hundred or more Ork ships right now, given their tendency for forming hordes. However, in their current situation, Leonarys simply could not afford heavy casualties before even reaching the surface.

“We should seek to divide their forces,” Ophiel broke the silence. The entire table turned to face the Lorekeeper. “We can make short work of the fleet and the stations, as long as we face each as a single opponent. The Orks are headstrong and reckless, prone to impulse. If we can draw their fleet out and away from the support of those stations, we can make quick work of them with our lances. After that, the matter of dispatching the stations with transports and assault teams should be a trivial one.”

Leonarys scratched at his bare chin and ran an armoured hand along his buzzcut hair. His dull red eyes counted that the Ork ships numbered in the high twenties, while their own fleet was closer to forty. It was true that against the fleet alone, victory was assured, but a sustained engagement with the Ork fleet whilst under heavy weapons fire from the platform was simply not an option. The grim reality of the situation dawned on him. Losses were unavoidable, but the sacrifice of a few may pave the path for the survival of the many. Leonarys’ gene-father had taught them that no sacrifice was too great to ensure victory, and with that in mind, the way forward was clear. “We would need to send ships forward to draw out the Orks. We need them where we can bombard them with lance fire from our cruisers whilst maintaining a safe range from their stations.”

“That would be a suicide mission, sir,” Addis chimed in, clearly unhappy that the Astartes were planning to sacrifice his vessels and his men.

“Indeed, Captain. A glorious sacrifice in the name of the Emperor. There is none more noble.” It was obvious from the scowl on the captain’s face that Leonarys’ rousing words had done little to sway him. Yet, Leonarys was undeterred, necessity dictating his every thought. Men would die, and they would die proudly. “Captain. Send word to the fleet. All combat personnel, Astartes and otherwise, are to withdraw to the cruisers. Ask for volunteers, we will need a handful of ships to make the feint convincing. Save every possible tank, shell and bullet we can.” The Captain walked back towards the main decks, crowded with servitors and serfs, and began barking orders.

Leonarys placed both hands flat on the table, leaning in close to the holographic projection of his fleet. For a while, no one spoke while thoughts ricocheted around in the Praetor’s skull. Various serfs came and went and vox chatter echoed throughout the bridge, statistical reports of successful munitions transfers and messages from one department to another. All the while, Leonarys’ gaze was fixed on the hologram before him. He rotated it, he zoomed in and out, he highlighted targets and formulated a tactical solution to their problem in his head. And the entire time, his eyes kept finding themselves on the very edge of the readout, waiting for the inevitable ping that more Ork vessels had entered the space above Ullanor V.

Thankfully, the outskirts of the readout had remained blank by the time Addis returned to the table. “We have four volunteer vessels, Sir. Two destroyers two escorts.”

Leonarys gave a grim nod. “Reassure them that the Imperium thanks them, Captain. Their loyalty is admirable, and they have proven their character. Their sacrifices will not be in vain, and they will not be forgotten.” The Praetor’s mind wandered back to his earlier musings about the billions of lives under the rule of the Imperium. Billions of lives that would never know the names of these men, who were surely to die so that they may know safety and peace. The necessities of war were not always pleasant, but Leonarys did not balk at the thought. Whatever needed to be done, however grim, it would be so. That was what it meant to be a brother of the Black Manticores.

“Our approach will be simple, brothers.” The officers assembled around the glowing holo-projection once more.
“The Orks are erratic. When they see the audacity of Imperium ships approaching, they will hurtle forth with their full might no doubt. Our noble volunteers will lead the charge, spreading out to try and engage as much of the Ork fleet upon contact as possible. We will leave them with enough munitions to fight. The idea is to engage them around this space,” Leonarys pointed a large armour-clad finger at the readout, “where we estimate they will be at the edge of the platform range.”

“Vessels with short ranged weapons will follow behind at a distance, remaining out of range of the platforms and providing close support to our volunteers with macrocannons. They will not engage the Orks until the fleet has been drawn out to meet us and they have engaged the volunteers. Once the battle begins, our cruisers will turn broadside at the rear of the formation and unleash the fury of our lances upon them. The crude hulls of these scrap vessels will be no match for concentrated energy beams. We will eviscerate the xenos in a hail of righteous fury.”

The resolve had returned to the faces of the officers at the table, now assured that Leonarys had a sound tactical plan. All except for Addis, who had turned so pale that he almost matched the ghostly visages of the towering Astartes around him. Ophiel studied the battle plans, his expression indecipherable. Making a fist, Leonarys slammed his gauntleted right hand into the chest plate of his armour in salute, sending a thunderous noise throughout the bridge. He bellowed, “For the Emperor.”

His men responded in kind with a clangour of salutes. “For the Emperor.”
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Bright_Ops
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Bright_Ops The Insane Scholar

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The opening invasion of Laeran had started with a cunning gambit.

Rather than focus the entire expedition fleet in one area, the nature of warfare on Laeran due to the fact that it was largely an ocean world with pockets of land masses and artificial floating cities that dotted the surface and risking a single landing zone being overrun before it could be properly set up, the fleet was instead split up in order to cover three landing zones.

The ruse was that the Night Watch only intended to take and hold one of the landing zones. Rather than split the invasion force between all three drop sites, the drop pods of two of the sites had been crammed full of heavily armed and armored combat servitors whose sole purpose was to reap chaos and havoc while forcing the Laer to have to commit forces to contend with them.

The third site on one of the Laer’s floating cities likewise had a number of pods that were intentionally landed on the edges of the ‘landing zone’ packed full of combat servitors to make it appear that the site had been like the other two, while the pods inside of the servitor ring instead contained marines. Using the servitors as cover for their operations and movements, the marines moved to seize control of the floating cities outward defenses and the areas that were vital towards keeping the city floating.

With these key locations secured, the true invasion of this city and the purge of all Laer living in it began. Through resistance was heavy and casualties were high among both marine and Imperial Army elements, the purge of the city was successful and the cities usage as a foothold on Laeran secured before the Laer were able to muster a coordinated counter attack.

However while the opening invasion had been successful, the cold hard fact was that the numbers of those who had died or been injured to the point where they could simply no longer fight without intense cybernetics (and thus time to adjust to said cybernetics) had far exceeded predictions. Likewise, while the naval elements had withdrawn to secure and cover the corridor above the imperial foothold, the Laeran orbital defenses had proven much more deadly than expected, damaging many ships and outright destroying more than the Primarch was personally comfortable with.

Victory on Laeran was possible with the current forces at his beck and call, but doing so would easily result in so much of the Night Watch legion being lost that it would likely remove them from playing an active role in pushing the Imperium’s broaders for the rest of the Crusade. Such an outcome was clearly not acceptable to the Primarch… and thus he called for reinforcements.

The war of course continued while reinforcements were rounded up and sent. While the Night Watch and the Imperial Army spent most of their efforts maintaining their foothold and repelling the near daily assaults on their defenses, the real war lay in the shadows of Laeran; Night Watch squads dedicated themselves to covert operations in order to undermine the Laer’s ability to wage the war, dedicating themselves to acts of sabotage, assassinating Laer leaders.. As well as abducting Laer engineers and masters of bioengineering in order to gather as much information about both fields of Laer technology as possible directly from the living source itself.

While a regrettable number of these squads died in failure or success, their actions had proven key to preventing the Laer from being able to defeat the Imperial foothold. In fact, the Laer had lost ground; An absolutely heroic effort from a number of infiltrator squads had managed to cripple enough the anti-grav technology of a Laer city that was being used as a primary rallying point to assault the Imperial foothold, causing it to plummet into the ocean waters below.

With the arrival of reinforcements from other legions however, the war of Laeran was about to shift.

……………………………………………………………………………….


High Command: Laeran


Micholi had seen fit to welcome the new arrivals in person, giving a brief speech welcoming his fellow Imperials to Laeran and requesting that the leaders of these forces come with him to the Imperial High Command center of Laeran while leaving the task of showing the rest of the new arrivals around to Colonel Wojtyla, the tech marine assigned to him and his attendants from the auxiliaries. The colonel's dreadnaught was still undergoing some repairs from the last major Laer assault, but Wojtyla insisted on going for a walk in order to give himself a break from either looking at the intel of the war or the walls of the area that the tech priests had converted into a repair bay.

Having taken a seat in the thunderhawk that was flying them to the landing pad for his command post on Laeran, Micholi looked at the leading figures of the legions that had arrived to his aid with a look of professionalism; Not unkind, but driven by a desire to end this war as quickly as possible. “Before we arrive at our command center and start our war council proper, I must ask what each of you has brought to this engagement.”

The two figures on the other side of the vehicle, clad in dark blue, gave the merest motion in acknowledgement of the question. The one on the right had sat silent and motionless as a statue all throughout, the softly glowing eye-slits of his helmet gazing straight ahead of himself. There was something unnerving to his stillness, made only more sinister by the bizarre shape of his armour. Fragments of bestial carapace had been affixed all throughout over its surface and welded in place by an additional thin, closely fitting layer of ceramite, giving his whole figure the air of something malformed, yet at the same time inhuman from its very birth. Besides his Legion’s clawed and many-legged emblem on one shoulder, nothing denoted his allegiance, for the only sign on his other pauldron was a black circle surrounding a stylized broken skull.

His companion, though more restless, had been until then equally unresponsive. What his equipment lacked in ornament, it made up for in utilitarian elaborateness. From his upper leg plates to his wrists, his armour was constellated with veritable bandoliers of reinforced stasis vials akin to those of a narthecium, though of various shapes and sizes. As if in reminder of such receptacles’ original purpose, an apothecary’s tool did indeed adorn his left arm, bristling with a variety of spikes, blades and syringes outlandish even among its kind.

Four servo-arms radiated from his back, flaunting their own wealth of drills and bone-saws. His fingers, irregularly lengthened by an array of slender needle-like tips, quietly and dissonantly tapped against each other. Finally bringing his arrhythmic clicking to a stop, he turned to look up at Micholi from the odd spectacle that was his modified Maximus visor. The asymmetrical clusters of diagnostor eyes - if indeed they were just that - and the thick tube running from his faceplate to his power pack gave him an uncannily insect-like mien.

“Elder Fleshweaver Ormis and Grand Herald Veryan of the Ninth, to serve you,” he rasped through his mechanical proboscis, followed by a raucous wheeze, “The Second and Fifth Tempests are the most versed of our brethren in the tactics of the proelium demersum, the combat, as you might say, in conditions of high density, and they stand ready to deploy. Further, I have personally selected a cadre of my subordinates most skilled in the -” he wheezed again and expressively tapped his spiked fingertips together, “- expropriation of inhuman organic devices, living or not, and my worthy brother has assembled his hardiest acolytes to combat those aberrant psy-active constructs we were told of.”

Ever as silently, Veryan slightly inclined his head in what might have been a nod of assent.

Micholi offered the Elder Fleshweaver and Grand Herald a respectful nod of his head in acknowledgement. “It is a pleasure to have both of you here. All things considered, the Abyssal Lurkers will be playing a key role in this campaign going forward.” Clearing his throat, he turned his head to let the other representatives have a chance to speak up.

Sitting as far away from the Abyssal Lurkers as the Thunderhawk allowed, the larger of the two Golden Spears spoke next. His terminator provided a stark contrast to the Abyssal Lurker’s own powered armor. Perfectly standard and gleaming, there wasn’t a single aberration on the gold and black. He inclined his head to acknowledge the Primarch, as much of a bow as he could give from a seating position. When he spoke it was with careful articulation, never rushed or in an improper tone for the situation.

“I am Captain of the Golden Spears First Company, Chandrian. We possess the most Psykers out of all of the Companies of the Spears, and bring that considerable might to aid in securing the floating islands and destroying the non-compliant xenos within. We have two squads of battle automata to aid in this endeavour, though I would ask that they be used sparingly. From the reports we have received the Laer are going to be quickly targeting them, and the mechanicum is loath to send us more to be ‘violated’ as they put it.” A hint of amusement echoed through his helmet.

The smaller of the two Spears spoke next. His armor was not as meticulously perfect as Chandrian’s was, but a standard Astartes set up for an Apothecary. “I am Varot, Captain of the Third Company. My Company possesses the most experienced Apothecaries the Golden Spears have to offer. Primarch Kaldun, upon reading the report entailed your request for aid, decided that the two best ways to help would be Psykers to help seize the cities of the xenos and Apothecaries to minimize the losses as best we can.”

Neither of the two acknowledged the presence of the Abyssal Lurkers.

It was not lost on the Primarch that the representatives of the Golden Spears were not acknowledging the presence of the Lurkers. Politics at its most basic really… Still, there were ways to work around it. “My brother Kaldun was always rather perspective when it came to the requirements of a campaign. Your efforts will be highly welcomed for the battles ahead. As for your automata, I will try to use them wisely but if some are lost I will take accountability for it when it comes to the Mechanicum.”

Having willingly put his neck on the political chopping block as fair as the Cult Mechanicus and his sibling Augor was concerned, Micholi turned towards the last representative to share this ride with him.

Though his armor shine almost indistinguishable from the Golden Spears the towering Legate Maurinius was a sight in itself. Reaching nearly to the Primarch’s shoulders he was the second tallest figure aboard. Former Phoenix Guard and now the representative of Hyperion himself his aura is incomparable to the average Astartes..Not to mention that his presence alone already signifies how seriously the Lions Illustris must take the Laeran threat. Even though Vesta is bordering orkish invasion the Lions generously provide Mich with 5 entire Chapters. Forming the Grand Chapter Laeriae this temporary formation is under Maurinius’ command. “Your Majesty, I am Legate Maurinius Acciai of the Lions Illustris. Our lord Hyperion is currently preoccupied at Ullanor so allow me to take his place. My Grand Chapter is composed of my personal retinue and aquatic specialists. Humble it may be but we shall prove our worth!”

There was a respectful bow of his head towards Maurinius from the Primarch as he answered “Glad to have any of Hyperion’s sons on this grim task. I know that there is always a demand for any legion, so for him to donate so many of his forces to this one planet will not be forgotten, through I do hope it does not leave the Lions too stretched out.”

Before he could continue, a brief call came over Micholi’s private vox channel. Offering a simple “Understood.” in reply, he turned his attention back to the marines in the thunderhawk with him. “The Asteral Hawks spotted the remains of the Laer fleet and are moving to finish it off. Like the Stargrazers, they will be joining us later.”

A moment passed… but it seemed to be enough for Micholi to come to a decision. Leaning forward, he started talking with the confidence of someone who knew he was going to be listened to. “Alright. We’ll go over the full tactical detail of the situation and how we plan to destroy the Laer once we get to High Command. However, we can quickly go over the objectives of this campaign.”

“First and foremost, this is a xenocide. Our main objective is when we leave this planet, the Laer are nothing more than an interesting footnote in the grand history of the Imperiums Grim Crusade. All other objectives are secondary to this; If you can complete the secondary objectives great, but do not hesitate to disregard them if the situation calls for it. Enough Imperial blood is going to be spilled on this wretched world as is.”

Pausing a moment to let that sink in, he pushed on trusting that they understood. “Our secondary objectives are simple. We are here to capture and secure as much of the Laer’s bio-engineering, medical and gravitational tech as possible. If you find any other technology that the Mechanicus can tear apart to see what insights into improving human technology can be gleamed, it’s the call of whomever found it if it is worth trying to claim or not.”

“While samples of their technology itself is the primary goal of the second objective, sources of information are also welcomed. Libraires, schools, places where they will store the written data of how all their technology works. If possible, try to take medical and engineering personale captive. I will make it clear, I do not expect this to happen either because you will not be able to tell the difference or the situation will not arise for captives to be taken, but I fully intend for the final screams of the Laer as a race to be in a Mechanicus interrogation cell.”

“Any questions?”
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Terminal Rancorous Narrative Proxy

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The Ordo Astranoma
12th Macroclade Fleet
Praetor Alpha Primus Andron Axaltus



The First Universal Law


Life is Directed Motion.

The sheer volume of Human conceit that can be crammed into such a succinct phrase is so staggering that the no less than six thousand members of the Holy Synod of Mars have dedicated their entire careers to doing nothing other than writing treatises upon that single phrase. I have to permit that it is rather practically applied in a likely infinite number of allegories and parables. Such as this one:

In space, your motion is undirected and you are dead. On the ground, your motion is (usually) directed and you are alive. Inside a voidship in space, which has directed motion even though you do not, you exist in a paradoxical state of being both dead and alive at the same time, which is also true of the state of morale for most soldiers aboard voidships.

Voidship combat in particular has a way of canalizing the exact orientation of crew morale (dead versus alive) which explains how even entirely neurosynched crews can fall prey to schism and mutiny. Mutiny is, in fact, far more common amongst Mechanicum vessels than it is upon those of the Imperial Navy. Even Skitarii - as we are all adamantly loyal to our Tech Priest masters, as any of us will tell you - can fall prey to treason this way if we can but be persuaded by that single minder. So it falls to conductors of directed motion such as myself to motivate the sentiments of the Skitarii Legions and the Tachmata against such eventualities. Ironically, one of the best ways of promoting shipboard morale is via pitched shipboard combat. It tends to distract away from the larger crisis of flying through space in a giant glorified coffin which may or may not be in the process of exploding violently.

With Orks, this prospect is pleasingly simple, as their so-called 'tellyporta' have more than three times the range of even the finest Mechanicum Teleportarium. Similarly, their long-range void-weapon of choice, the voltaic 'Zapp Kannon,' has only a faintly shorter range than the Macroclade Fleet's own Nova Cannons and nearly perfect accuracy - while being, thankfully, drastically less potent. Predictably, Archmagos Explorator Mephitor has arranged for a wall of vanguard ships hosting the finest war cohort of the fleet proximal to the approaching horde of Ork voidships. When the Orks unleash their first salvo against the those vessels , and when those vessels' void shields drop and the first Ork boarding parties begin to teleport over - the entire fleet's morale will supposedly benefit from the thorough thrashing the Orks will be delivered.

The first step to securing such a victory for that cohort is to direct their enthusiasm towards the advantages of fighting the Orks in our own halls without reminding them of the nature of the flying coffins they will be fighting in and their predilection to violently explode when fought in.

"...Those ships are all filled with Castallen Maniples, so we will be getting the sloppy seconds once the Orks are done with them. We are not going in to fight them, we are going in to purge them. A reminder that Orks are resilient, their heads can be reattached just like ours, only entirely unlike us the reason they can do it is because they're too frakking dumb to realize they should be dead. Destroy theirs, and if you feel the insatiable need to embarrass your flesh, make sure to bend over and shove your own head up your ass so they can't hit it." Praetor Alpha Primus Andron Axaltus relayed the address over voxcast to the entirety of the Skitarii War Cohort at his command and the handful of Tech Priests who would serve as their neurosync minders.




The first wave of Ork boarding parties was completely overwhelming in number to the point that they started getting in their own way - they crammed the Cruisers they had targetted with so many Nobz and Gretchin they could scarcely move without picking fights with each other. A problem the utterly merciless and precise Castellen robots guarding the ships did not have. Armed with Flamers and Melta weapons, the robotic Maniples were perfectly equipped to deal with the thronging Ork hordes in close quarters - but even the mighty machines had their limits, and the Orks continually received reinforcements via tellyporta strikes while the few Gretchin who managed to evade the searing promethium volleys managed to work and work their way into every nook and cranny of the unfortunate vessels - including the voxhub. The War Cohort waited until the Ork Mekboys managed to plug into the systems to vox back to their own ships that the poor unprepared Hummies first ships had been taken.

And then the Skitarii appeared.

Silence scythed through the still air of the vessels as the Skitarii Vanguard calmly and orderly walked the halls of the ship, preceded by Sicarian infiltrators and Ruststalkers. The Ork Gretchin infesting the ships, even hiding in the ductwork and tiniest nooks and crannies, tended to simply die as the Sicarian killclades passed them by - the only symptom of their passage the abrupt loss of all sight and hearing as insidious neurostatic black noise thrummed through the ships' hulls, causing the smaller vermin to expire as their flesh bubbled and churned from the resonant dirge. The Orks themselves - made of sterner stuff - simply went blind and deaf. Even robbed of their senses however, they remained dangerous - and as the Sicarian Killclades began to butcher them, they retaliated in kind, their bodies able to endure being split open by transonic blades and turn wrath back onto their unseen attackers. This, too, had been anticipated - and as the Sicarian Killclades danced and spun with the Orks, one by one, the behemoths they could not cut down began to fall dead to the decks as a new and silent killer entered the fray.

The Skitarii Vanguard, emitting such immense radiation that not even Ork physiology could withstand it, walked calmly through the halls of the ship, subjecting any bodies they found to promethium and volkite rays. As more Orks reinforcements appeared via tellyporta, those too began to simply drop dead on arrival, the radiation levels in each ship having built too high for them to withstand.

Few plans withstand contact with the enemy however, especially an enemy as unpredictable and chaotic as Orks. There was exactly one kind of Ork the Skitarii and their Sicarian brethren could not cripple and slay with such contemptuous ease: The Mekboys who had established control over the ships. Their crude cybernetics let them detect and survive the initial bouts of the the rapidly building radiation - long enough to impossibly calibrate their shielding to protect them from the deadly energies. And though their bionic senses were no more protected from the dread song of the Sicarian Infiltrators than organic tissue, they were able to overcome the debilitating pain and register attack vectors through pain alone. Their likewise cybernetically augmented Gretchin assistants proved able to survive where others had choked on their own blood and died.

Fighting a handful of Ork Mekboys and their Gretchin would not normally have been an issue for a fighting force such as the Vanguard and the Sicarian Clades. But they were not fighting a handful. They were fighting untold thousands of them.

The only solace to be found in the situation was that as the remaining fleets of the Astartes legions joined the system, the focus of the Ork voidships broke apart and finally, at last, the never-ending torrent of Ork corpses materializing aboard the Mechanicum vanguard cruisers finally began to abate. What followed next was several days of dirty, treacherous fighting in the confines of the Cruiser as the Ordo Astranoma's armada began to disperse, its Macroclades heading for their own predetermined coordinates - leaving the Skitarii War Cohort to either live victoriously or die when the first Vanguard Cruiser's cogitators overloaded the engines in response to Orks seizing helm control. The explosion that followed would set off a cascade in all the other nearby cruisers, causing them to burst open like krak grenades.

"You had better not die or let them seize the bridge. That would be treasonous." Axaltus conveyed via voxcast at one point. "We are all due to arrive on Ullanor Tertius in a few days time to immediately fight the Ork Warbands there and being dead is no excuse for dereliction of duty to the Omnissiah."

As the days passed, punctuated in the void by ships performing line maneuvers to place additional shots with the Nova Cannons and in the ships by deadly pushes through narrow chokepoints by either the Skitarii or the Orks, Moral inevitably improved. Barring the unfortunates who were literally torn to pieces by swarms of Gretchin or had their heads stolen and whisked away to be eaten in a duct somewhere, true casualties amongst the Skitarii were few in number - as long as enough of their head remained to preserve in stasis, they could be given new flesh in the form of ceramite and battle steel to fight for the Glory of the Omnissiah once more. The Ork Mekboys were more interested in scavenging and repurposing the ships itself than destroying it, which was reflected in their tactics - and so the Skitarii Cohort slowly and surely ground away at them, purging and cleansing the Cruisers of Ork spore as they went. The battles were hardly one-sided, but victory was inevitable and in sight.




'Praetor, this is Magos Acquisitor Lictarii. We have an unexpected development. The Ork Technician omnispex readings showed as having set up in the rear anterior node relay junction access hall made a failed attempt to tap into the ship's power feed approximately two hours ago. Then are now moving directly for the reactor manifold. Their Gretchin are moving with them and many other swarms have abruptedly started to converge. We suspect an imminent, potentially hazardous act of interference with the functionality of the reactor by the Ork Technician.'

Andron Axaltus paused midswing to consider this. It was more of a figurative than literal pause, as he had overclocked by his sensory throughput and cognitive processing to such an extent that his perception of time in that moment had slowed to a crawl, in order to properly evaluate the situation along with his personal coterie, likewise overclocked and neurosynchronized with him. After a brief discussion about the placement of the nearest Maniples and a somewhat longer argument about the layout of the ship (due to a misconception by it not possessing a standardized template configuration), the edge of his power sword's energy field had finally crawled close enough to the surface of the 'Cybork' Gretchin's cranium to begin splitting it apart one atom at a time. Once they had all reached a decision, they all reset and recalibrated their feeds and processors and time screamed back to its normal breakneck pace, the screaming cybernetic Gretchin's entire body falling into a mix of organic and mechanical pieces as Andron's sword carved through it. As one, he and his entire Maniple turned on the spot and began hurriedly marching, single-file, through the corridors of the ship towards the reactor manifold, much to the confusion of the thronging Swarm of Gretchin they had been in the midst of disassembling. They continued to fight disgusting fungal xenos as they went, Mechdendrites mounted with laz and arc weapons blasting away at the diminutive creatures shooting from off the Skitarii's backs as they turned away.

It took the better part of an hour to fight all the way to the reactor manifold, with Gretchin and the occasional Ork Mekboy all seeming to suddenly conspire to abridge the Skitarii's progress. Gretchin could not fight the Skitarii head-to-head, but from ambush, sheer numbers, and ability to slip between the narrowest confines of the ship, they were able to wage a war of attrition. Skitarii would have their own weapons stolen and turned on them by them by mobs of snotlings erupting from ductwork or maintenance shafts. Sicarian infiltrators would have entire corridors collapsed on them with primitive, improvised explosives, while others would occasionally vanish through unsecured floor-hatches to be messily devoured in the dark. But as much as the Gretchin struggled, they could only inflict triffling losses on the advancing Maniple, who were relentless in their pace and broke for nothing.

Which was for the best, as when they arrived at the Manifold the Ork Mekboy had been halfway through the process of disengaging the reactor manual safety overrides by way of repeatedly smashing one of the control interfaces with a wrench while Grechin tore furiously through its mechanical innards in order to fulfill his incoherently screamed instructions.

"You hummies cannit stop us! Wez gotz all da scuzzy bits we needz to make the new tellyporta work!" The Mekboy crowed triumphantly as he turned towards the door and layed down a hail of withering arc-lightning with his shock cannon, the deadly voltaic energies grounding into the frame of the doorway and preventing entrance without the intruder becoming a lightning rod.

"I'll be taking yuz glowy WAAAAAAAAGH power thing and uze it to BLOW DIS JUNK. Gonna tellyport out wit the poz and let you go BOOM." The Mekboy continued to taunt as he hefted up a combi-bolter and started sending slugs through the same passageway just as an auger-servitor floated in front of it to gather intel from beyond the safety of the threshold.

'This one appears to be a Big Mek.' One of the Vanguard relayed over vox. 'Standard munitions will be ineffective, he has the equivalent of a voltagheist shield.'

'Acknowledged. I have dispatched such an enemy before. I will need a tactical solution for my approach vector that does not involve being fatally electrocuted.' Axaltus relayed. 'I will need to get within family portrait distance of them.'

'Devising a technical solution for their arc weapon now.' One of the Rangers answered as they retrieved their arc maul from their belt and began performing a number of hasty modifications to it on the spot with their one free hand and multiple mechadendrites.

'We can lay down suppressing fire as soon as the arc weapon is eliminated.' One of the other Vanguard members indicated. 'We have three Plasma Calivers between us here, which ought to keep his focus nicely.'

'Just so long as we can do this before this Ork sends us all to meet the Machine God.' Axaltus relayed back as he edged closer to the doorway and readied his power sword.

'Executing solution now.'

The first Vanguard held out his arc maul beyond the threshold of the doorway, immediately causing the arcing lightning from the Ok's shock cannon to fixate upon it - and with a small galvanic thud, the small melee weapon overloaded and cause multiple tracers of powerful feedback to rebound on the Mekboy's caster and make it erupt in a shower of sparks. Axaltus took that as his cue to step through the doorway and begin running a roundabout path towards the Mekboy from the other end of the reactor room as three other members of the Maniple piled into the doorway and unleashed a barrage of plasma fire into the enemy. Even altogether, the Skitarii's plasma calivers could not penetrate through the Mekboy's shielding - powered by the mysterious WAAAAGH energies the Orks obsessed over, it would likely have stood up to anti-tank munitions. But the sheer volume of fire the Skitarii were able to pour into it was an ample distraction, forcing the Mekboy to turn his full attention on them and lay down return fire with his combi-bolter even as he dropped the overloading shock cannon from his other hand and began reaching towards a haphazard pile of Orkish equipment by his side.

"Krak dat Hummie cybork!" The Mekboy howled even as he kept his focus on the doorway, and immediately a swarm of nearly two dozen heavily augmented Gretchin and Snotlings seemed to spring out of thin air and scrabble towards Andron, chittering vile Ork profanities all the way. Not stopping to engage them properly, a dozen or so small mechadendrites uncoiled from various points along each of his limbs and a small array of digital weapons mounted upon each began expending their charges to unleash inferno-blasts of energy upon the creatures, incinerating them so rapidly they did not even have time to blacken and turn to ashes - they simply stopped being there as the hellish energies tore through their bodies. Of course, the same weapons would now be unavailable for engaging the Mekboy due to having to be recharged with every use, but the Skitarii Praetor had not been planning on using them for that purpose in any case. Instead as he drew close, he threw himself into a full-body lunge with his power sword, stabbing directly into the field of Orkish WAAAAGH power surrounding the Mekboy, and then burying the weapon's blade into the deck plating - forcing the vicious power behind the shielding to ground itself into through the weapon as it penetrated.

The Mekboy was instantly blasted by a storm of Caliver fire, but with a roar he pulled on the alternate trigger for his combi-weapon and sent a contact grenade to explode in the doorway amidst the Skitarii clustered there, even as he hefted a crude but massive power claw in his other hand. The fire from the Plasma Calivers had torn entire chunks from his armor and cybernetics and, in a few places, had punched clear holes through his body - but such injuries were nothing to an Ork, and he barely noticed them as he turned his attention to the Skitarii Praetor.

Having buried his power sword into the floor, Axaltus barreled forward in a rollto come up beneath the Mekboy's aim and, with a chop from his bare bionic arm, sent the Ork's bolter to clatter across the flooor. He was then forced to throw himself fully back down onto the floor to evade a vicious swipe from the Mekboy's power claw. He then rolled out of the way of the Ork's follow-up strike, sprung back up to his feet, and swayed forward inside of the Mekboy's guard in order to get close enough for a shoulder-mounted mechadendrite tipped with a dataspike to lash out and bury itself in the Mekboy's head.

Roaring with unbelievable rage and completely ignoring what would have been a fatal head injury to any other species, the Mekboy grasped at the offending protrusion with his free hand and ripped it away, tearing it clear of the Praetor's shoulder and throwing it back in the Skitarii's face for good measure before hunching over and slamming forward to tackle him. Axaltus dived out of the way, landed in a roll, and came out of it with an overhead strike from the edge of his hand to spear into the Mekboy's back. Even as the Mekboy screamed in rage and turned to lash at the Skitarii with their power claw, Axaltus brought up their other hand and grappled onto the Mekboy's back, using their free hand to secure himself while his embedded extremity went burrowing through the Ork's body. After failing to dislodge their assailant after a number of bucks and desperate flailing towards their back with their over-sized arms, the Mekboy finally reoriented themselves and slammed themselves back-first into the nearest wall. Had he been fighting a member of the Imperial Guard, such a tactic might have been effective - but the Skitarii were more metal than flesh. Axaltus simply registered the damage to his chassis and its systems with cold analytical rationale and dismissed it as non-inhibiting. His hand then finished digging through the Ork's innards and, with a single deft motion, crushed the Ork's heart inside the creature's chest.

And then, since the Mekboy barely even seemed to notice and slammed him into the wall a second time, Axaltus resorted to his weapon of last resort when fighting Orks.

"Hey Ork Boy. I'm going to punch your heart out." He said aloud. He then shoved his embedded fist forward another foot to emerge straight from the Ork's chest as the stunned creature looked down. "You're dead?" Axaltus added, with an almost plaintive tone. After considering the proposition for a good three seconds, the Mekboy's limited intellect managed to overcome its own vigor and their eyes rolled back in their head as they fell forward onto the floor, having convinced themselves that they should in fact be dead.

"Orks are the worst." Axaltus muttered darkly as he hauled his right arm out of the Mekboy's carcass. "Maniple, status report."

'Heavy external damage to all members, Praetor.' Came the voxed response. 'No actual casualties but a few of us will require stasis. We should be able to hold our position for the moment though.'

'I am arranging for two other Maniples to come relieve you and to cleanse the manifold of spores.' Axaltus cast back. 'It seems that you will all unfortunately have to miss the crusade on Ullanor Tertius until your new bodies are ready, Omnissiah forbid.'

'Some of us should be able to atte-'

'That was not a suggestion, Skitarii.' Axaltus interrupted. 'If you are seeking to endeavor in sacred service to the Omnissiah, those of you who still can may assist with the ongoing cleansing of this vessel and you will like it. The Ork Spore is resilient and who here could possibly not enjoy burning away fungal grime in service of the Omnissiah?'

'Your meaning is received, Praetor.' Came the response. There was no real intonation over the Skitarii voxcasts, as they communicated in Lingua-Technis formulated by their internal cogitators rather than anything so crude as using their actual voices - and so nobody reviewing the vox logs would have been able to question the sincerity of Skitarii's words from their tone.

Axaltus began to mentally chart a path through the ship back towards the bridge, even while continuing to field vox-calls from other Maniple Alphas who continued to battle the remaining Ork Mekboys scattered throughout the ship. They would be arriving at Ullanor Tertius soon - it would be time to prepare for planetary insertion soon.
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Archetype Zero 𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕾𝖍𝖆𝖙𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖊𝖉 𝕺𝖓𝖊

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(Collab: Archetype Zero, ReedeThe23rd, JB, Terminal)

Ullanor Sector
Ullanor System
Ullanor Prime
Orbit


The voyage had been calm and cool across the voided expanse which encapsulate the sea of stars and its intermittent nullspaces; an endless update strolled in through the vox-networks and the astropathic channels to accompany the silent beat of the stellar oceanic voyage, producing a cacophony of order in chaos as men and women aboard the bridge howled from one end to the other in preparation for the soon-coming emergence. All had been calm for his fleet, for as he had predicted, and as the plan had clearly proven, the attention had been successfully diverted, and the core-world of this depraved system lay open for the ravaging. Ruination would be the only spell cast upon these foolish creatures who laugh at the authority and rightful rule of the universe’s true stellar masters, and their perverted carcass-ships make mockery of the serene and delicate technology housed within his own dreaded vessel, the Absolute.

For as the Absolute cut its own path through the nothingness of the endless expanse, so too did its accompaniment; a fleet numbering hundreds of capital vessels, housing tens of thousands astartes prime and readied for this sole objective for months on end. They needed not think, they needed only know. Drilled so finely that each mission objective in the coming strike against the center-most citadel were subconscious aspects of their selves.

Veritas shifted his gaze across the bridge as he saw the planet of Ullanor Prime, the core of the Orks’ decrepit empire, come into view. Before him he saw his own fleet, drift against the void, and the planet come ever-closer into view. He felt himself see in present and future, as they would enter its expanse and would be forced into gruesome orbital warfare for the prime purpose of removing the foul snake’s head and make damp its slithering form so that it could be removed. But all the same, he felt a mixture at its sight, for he knew that this plan was not his own, and thus, he knew that it could lend ill towards the future to come. Orks would flee, they would spread, and they would, inevitably return. Before him he saw not only one battle, but many, concurring shifts. What felt like eons passing, and battle ravaged the world even still.

He grew silent in his thinking, harshened his grip around the nothingness entombed within his closed palm, and quickly loosened it, allowing it to softly fall against the sides of his throne at the far end of the bridge’s deck.

They had arrived.

It was obvious to all, for with their circularization and placement in upper-atmospheric orbit instilled a serene but dreadful silence, akin to calm if not for the silent thoughts of all those men and women of the Imperial Navy manning the vast vessel’s stations. First to speak up, not Veritas, but Admiral Yberov, the last of the essential personnel which the third legion’s primarch had aboard his bridge.

“Primus Fleet in orbit! Man battlestations! Maintain full combat discipline!”

His voice rang like thunder through his hoarse throat and the silence of the bridge, but was reciprocated by the center-deck foreman, as he responded and carried the word through the gargantuan expanse emboldened by steel paths and marble-like columns all throughout. The commands were repeated hundred-fold as the many stations of the bridge connected with the rest of the fleet, and the rest of the ship. An orderly repetition, Veritas thought, as he stood up, and all became quiet.

He did not interrupt, but he waited for its conclusion. His fleet was readied, and its men hardened for war. The Truthlayers had spent many-a-hundred year fractions in anticipation for its happening, and the Imperial Navy’s officer corps had expended all efforts on morale since system-entry. They were ready.

“Vox-master, communicate our presence to my siblings.”

“Vox-master! Broadcast our presence to the planet, general command frequency!” Admiral Yberov repeated with his iconic roar, the Vox-master jittered moderately, but tensed rapidly, clearly now readied for the stresses to come. He pulled at the heavy lever, after pressing harshly at a constellation of heavy buttons, and then held it in place, nodding in the Primarch’s distant direction.

Veritas stepped forth towards the vast arched window at his immediate front and stepped through the central corridor as he passed the hundreds of terminal stations at his right and left, speaking loudly so as to be perceived over any would-be conflict the others might have entered into.

“Siblings, the Truthlayers have penetrated the Orks’ lacking defenses, but yet arrived later than some,” his monotone cloaking his intentions clearly, if there were any. After twelve steps he continued, having now passed into the grand bridge hall’s central space.

“How fare you?”




He had not wanted to come here, had not wanted to leave the majority of his own forces at all, there were still thousands of worlds out there in the Milky Way that did not accept the dominance of the Imperium and its Emperor and he was charged by that same figurehead to bring illumination and light to the furthest corners of the galaxy. From his commanding position aboard the Castrum Aeterna, arguably the most advanced spacecraft possessed by the Emperor's forces, he had been concluding the pacification of a worm-like xenos species when a call had rang out from somewhere designated the 'Ullanor Sector', appearing from all angles to be a place where a pivotal event was about to take place.

Of course he had already heard of the conflict raging there, who among the Astartes legions had not, but what he had not known of was the glory that could be gained from fighting there. It was at this point that his innate ambition made itself known, the flames stoked ever higher by the knowledge that the Emperor himself would be present in the campaign, a chance to catch his eye and demonstrate the quality of he and his legion was never one that Kaelianos could give up without first attempting it.

For any other legion such a departure – so sudden, so without warning or preparation – may well have taken many months of formulation and provisioning, but for the Eighth it was as any other day. There were few legions that could match them in logistical skill, close alliance with the Mechanicum making sure that they wanted for very little in terms of material, and it was barely three weeks before several vexillationes of the legion, just over twenty-two thousand Astartes (including the Primarchs own Praetorian Cohorts) and innumerable auxiliary formations, took to the immaterium for Ullanor Prime.

The attack force arrived several weeks later, or three months in the Warp, to find themselves already outpaced by the Twelfth and Fourth legions as well as the Emperor's own forces on the surface of the infested Orkoid world - it visibly seethed with Greenskins, the legion’s haruspices divining many things but ultimately all proclaiming a cloud of 'energy' seeping from the huge gathering of primitive aliens.

Moving with characteristic speed, or celeris as they called it in Rasenan, Kaelianos and his Praetorians were the first of his legion to make planet-fall, taking a large tribe of Orks in their stride and set about grinding them to dust at once.

“My lord Primarch,” came a voice from nearby some days later, the ever-perfect face of Kaelianos turning to regard his personal standard-bearer and equerry Modius Laevinus with an expectant look, “your brother is here, Veritas Res and the Truthlayers.”

Kaelianos watched the battlefield and the movements of his sons on a luminous screen nearby, his form and that of his retinue protected from Orkish fire by little more than an adamantium bunker constructed on first landing, able to listen to the constant stream of reports and data while paying attention to the incoming message.

“Siblings, the Truthlayers have penetrated the Orks’ lacking defenses, but yet arrived later than some, how fare you?”

It was Veritas alright, that monotone voice quite unmistakable even from orbit, the dull greeting prompting Kaelianos to split his features into a consummate smile and tap the arms of the seat he sat.

“Our brother arrives at last,” came words and a chuckle that sounded like a thousand angels singing, “Praefectus Fabrum, please engage the vox and patch into a frequency capable of reaching the Absolute.”

Aulus Vetus, his red armour and robes showing him to be the highest representative of the Omnissiah in the Eighth, ran a number of prayers from his lips as he turned various dials and pulled a number of levers.

“Channel open, my Primarch.”

Kaelianos gave an inclination of his head to the tech-priest before readying himself to speak, having spoken to neither of his brother Primarchs already here, but holding Veritas in higher esteem than either of them.

“Brother!” He began in a manner of speaking reserved for the closest of his confidants, a tone that made mortals like him and most Primarchs find him tolerable at the very least, “welcome to Ullanor Prime, though you arrive later than others you are nevertheless just as welcome.”

What the Primarch of the Eighth wished to ask was whether Veritas had foreseen anything, those questions being akin to a game in the mind of Kaelianos, but he was in the middle of a battle and it seemed somewhat superfluous at this moment in time.

“I am about to join my sons in glorious battle, but always make time to listen to my most magnetic of siblings. How goes it with the Third and their farseeing master?”

Flicking the comradely jest into the vox-channel the Primarch lithely rose from his seat and held up his arms in order to allow multiple serfs to attend him, armour plating of shining gold fixed perfectly and most exact to his oversized frame while he awaited a response.




It was a rare occasion for the battlegroups of the Fourth Legion to assemble upon a single point, only the most pressing of military engagements or honorable of ceremonies would lead to their Primarch calling upon the entirety of their might. The Ork warbands of Ullanor proved to be such a threat. Ten fleets worth of ships, each enough to transport a Chapter of one thousand battle-ready Astartes and their accompanying Imperial Army regiments.

The ships of the Imperial Star League had descended upon the system just at the heels of the initial Imperial assault, shoring up defenses in the fiery battles that lit up the void, and deploying upon the planets of the system to provide echelon and rearguard support to the forces already engaging the greenskin menace.

Heading this offensive, and engaging their foe at the core of the system, was the battlegroup that converged around the flagship of the legion, the Astra Urba. Commanded by their Primarch and father, Wolfram of Parrisan, these forces encroached upon Ullanor Prime in the shadow of those helmed by the likes of his brother, Kaelianos, or their father, the Emperor of Mankind himself.

The ground forces of the Fourth Legion directed to Ullanor Prime had already landed, and were engaged in mechanized reactionary deployments formed to ensure the Imperial forces assembled were not encircled or otherwise cut off from their growing beachhead upon the world. Wolfram himself had chosen to stay aboard his command vessel, overseeing the progress of the Legion as a whole across the system, while also offering strategic support to the allied forces assaulting the core world of the system.

The command deck of the Astra Urba was bustling with activity, members of every branch of the Imperium associated with the conflict gathered in a war council, discussing strategic and logistical plans to further the conquest of the system in a rapid and decisive manner. At the forefront of this room filled with energy stood Wolfram, a silent pillar offering but a few simple words of acknowledgement when requested of him.

Seeing the greenskin forces assembled in such a fashion as that of Ullanor was perplexing to him. Such an organized effort was not traditionally in their nature, and the idea that they could achieve something of this sort threatened to reshape all he had come to know of their militaristic lifestyle and habits. Wolfram’s plans for future strategic organization would have to be revised heavily if the Orks continued to showcase this level of acumen.

As if intentionally rousing him from such thoughts, indicators chimed and flashed to notify the many individuals present of the arrival of more Imperial forces. The Third Legion’s war vessels had arrived at the field of battle, and not a moment too soon. Hailing frequencies were exchanged, the vox-systems connected, and soon the monotone voice of Veritas Res spoke from across the void to his siblings.

“Siblings, the Truthlayers have penetrated the Orks’ lacking defenses, but yet arrived later than some, how fare you?”

The master of the Eighth, Kaelianos, responded first, sharing a rousing welcome with just the faintest hint of witticism about it. The Eighth were already engaged in battle upon the planet below, so it was no surprise that the vox-call from their Primarch came from just before his entrance into the battlefield.

“The Fourth greet you as well, brother. The arrival of you and yours is a most welcome aide, regardless of when it occurs.”

As he awaited his brother’s reply, Wolfram silently began relaying word to those fighting under him that the Truthlayers had arrived. Plans would be reorganized, fronts shifted, and calculations reworked to account for these new forces. The throng of military staff and their assistants around the command deck began to move with renewed vigor, cogs in the grand Imperial war machine ever churning.




“Yes,” responded Veritas simply to Kaelianos’ initial remarks, whilst there were some amongst the Primarchs who had communicational wit and social acumen approaching the Eighth's master, the lord of the Third was not amongst them. A brief pause was had, as he took in his two brothers’ communiqués, an equally swift reciprocation following. “The Truthlayers are readied for victory, as will always be true, brothers. I am also.”

He turned swiftly, Admiral Ybarov on the receiving end of his gaze, a quick nod followed by distant roars imperceivable from jargon as far away as Veritas stood at the helm. Right besides the vox-master’s tiring yet duty-bound body as he struggled feverishly to hold down the most important lever he would ever grace his eyes upon.

He continued.

“Kaelianos, you know what needs to be done, gain as much of the Orks’ fervour as you can and demolish them,” a quick glance was had at the hundreds of tactical visors across the bridge, portrayals of the many battlefronts of Ullanor Prime playing in unison; overlapping in his gaze. He need not influence his brother’s mind with words, silence would lead the same result as the opposite. Attention instead placed on the next monitor, a fleet statistics board. With a voice echoing cold but loud once again, he turned his attention towards the master of the League. “Wolfram, I will soon make planetfall; I will align my fleet with yours once I am surface bound. The Absolute and her escort are yours to command.”

Perhaps an odd statement beyond the orthodox of any other Primarch but himself, however he knew what he needed to do. He knew how to accomplish it. Wolfram, a competent mind in a competent position, would make good use of the fleet whilst he was away. Though Admiral Yberov had been already informed as to what actions to take.

The specifics sorted, he closed his eyes and finished, “I will notify you both once my preparations are finalized.. Ending communication.” The sweat of the vox-master having long since shown, he was finally allowed momentary rest as he let go of the device. However, as he turned, he was met with the towering stature of his lord gazing down at him. He froze, but was met only with the equal parts malicious and noble gaze of a statuesque goliath. “Hail the Lectro-Maester.”

No reprieve could be allowed, war was greater than the failing muscles of the mortal condition. A replacement would be needed once the campaign had finished.

As if knowing the thoughts of Veritas Res himself, the Vox-Master, an aged man, lowered the lever with renewed vigor, a subdued nod given towards his judge, adrenaline filling him as if he was placed along the trenches.

“Lectro-Maester, your status.”

The voice that answered was accompanied by a sharp crackling - not due to any failure or feedback from the voxcast itself, but from the writhing field of electrical power the individual at the other end of the line was doubtlessly shrouded in.
“This is Artisan Malagra Veneratus Prime Numilus Grirkov. The 8th Macroclade Fleet of the Ordo Astranoma is now dispersing in orbit and we are entering the final stages of preparation for our planetary assault operations. We are at your command, Primarch, child of the Omnissiah! Speak that your will be done!” The voice, underneath the layers of static, was deep and had a booming quality to it - laced with open reverence for Veritas.

A brief silence filled their dialogue briefly, its purpose for any and all to guess, before the Primarch laid out his plan for the Artisan to hear. “Align your fleet’s orbit with the Absolute’s. During the initiatory bombardment, we shall enter the atmosphere with ferocity. You will land in the tower complex.”

“Your will be done! The 8th Macroclade Fleet is now correcting maneuvers, we will all align with your flagship shortly, Primarch! We will tear the motive force from the enemy in your honor! For the glory of the Omnissiah!”

“Ending Communication.”

Veritas turned, looking towards the Admiral as he stepped away from the Vox-Master’s exhausted form. His feet echoed with each step. Each step was one step closer to the planet’s surface, closer to the great destiny yet far too distant. “You have the helm, Admiral. Follow the will I have written and align with the Fourth once I have departed.”

“Aye, Primarch.”

Soon the cannons would rain fire and fury upon the Ork who dares proclaim an empire within the true Imperium’s domain. The false icon, the sacrilegious idol shall be expunged, and the bells of destruction will soon toll to Urlakk Urg’s demise. As he passed the Admiral, and left the Bridge, headed towards the assembly halls which his legion had long since filled in preparation for the orbital drop, he once more affirmed his belief that only one vision may rule the galaxy. And it was that of the Emperor’s.
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Hidden 12 mos ago 12 mos ago Post by Sophrus
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Sophrus

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Ullanor Secundus

Prometheus & Usriel

Sophrus & Lauder Colab


The time for the assault had come, the two companies of the Steel Sentinels had been prepped, standing behind their Rhinos which had been loaded with Aegis defenses. The neophytes had said their prayers to the machine spirits that resided within the plasma rifles that they proudly held, their astartes teachers standing on their flanks. Very few Wolfram Freki Plasma tanks could be seen within the position the company had taken, each positioned deliberately behind the Rhinos to provide supporting fire.

Usriel looked over his lines once more, making sure that everything was in place before looking to the other Steel Sentinel company who had been ready erecting rearguard defenses in case something in the assault went awry. Skiitari were lightly present, making sure mechanicum interests were being furthered, though it seemed they were not as interested in the assault itself. The primarch took a deep breath in his helmet as he turned to his honour guard, “Steel yourselves, be prepared for anything these xenos may throw at you.”

“We will not disappoint you, my primarch,” the standard beared, Maren, stated as he brought up his plasma repeater.

Usriel merely nodded before turning to a Skitarii ranger, “Send this message to Light Bringer, the Steel Sentinels are ready for the assault on his orders. Remind him to be wary of whatever these xenos may have at their disposal.”

“Understood, Lord-Primarch. Message being relayed to nearby Tech-Priest... Complete.” the skitarii responded robotically before returning its gaze to the front.

“Shall we lead from the front, my primarch,” Maren inquired, a silent nod from Usriel was the only indication for the Honor Guard to begin moving forwards, alongside Usriel. The neophytes immediately dropped to a singular knee as their primarch passed them, honoring him before returning to their readied positions. The honor guard turned to the readied line as Usriel stopped behind them.

“Let them die upon unbreakable walls!” Usriel called out to his men.

“And let us hold until the Eagle’s death!” they cried in unison.

Prometheus thanked the Techpriest as the message came acknowledging the partner legion ready for the assault. He turned and looked around the command center, dozens of generals and Astartes company captains coordinating the final pieces of the huge combined assault. Thousands of Astartes and hundreds of thousands of Imperial army stand ready to raze the ork fortress. “Engineseer, would you patch my vox into the general channel.” he said as he left the tent.

He exited into a huge muster area where the sledge hammer of the Imperium stood poised super heavy tanks and various Wolfram tanks idle noisily beside rows of land-raiders and chimera transports, white and bronze glittering in the sun. Prometheus climbed his personal command land-raider, making it rock clad in his terminator bulk.

He looked out at the amassed forces grinning in pride and anticipation. “Vox link open Lord Primarch” said the techpriest in their cold monotone as he stepped from the tent to join the assembly.

“Sons and Daughters of the Imperium! Hear me! We go into battle against this foul xenos yet again, Fear not the xenos! Hold the line and follow me! Now for wrath!” the Primarch shouts over the vox

“Now for wrath!” shouts the entire assault force in unison

“Now for ruin!”

“Now for ruin!”

“For the Imperium!” Both primarch and troopers shout as the ramps drop to load the forces. At the same time the general vox link dies. Moments later the very earth begins to rumble as the full weight of the Imperial army’s artillery flatten no-mans-land rolling steadily back and into the fortress, making a fiery shield.

“Usriel,” says Prometheus on his vox again, “Two minutes” In exactly two minutes the assault column of the Knights of Awe and Imperial army retainers roll forward exiting the safety of the extensive trench network and into the blasted wastes of no-man's-land.

When the time had come, Usriel spoke into his general vox to address his soldiers, “Forwards! For the Imperium!” With that the forces of the Steel Sentinels began to move forwards, the neophytes clinging to the rear of their Rhinos as they entered no-man’s-land behind the Knights of Awe, being less armored than their full-blooded mentors which stayed with them.
The imperial column rolled forward as the ork hordes braved the punishing artillery and rocket detonations decimating their numbers, but the green tide was merely thinned if not slowed. Moments later the armored divisions loosed their fury, battle cannons, bolts of plasma and torrents of bolter shells scythed through the ork horde slaughtering ever more. The tide pressed ever forwards.

As the orks came into range where the transports might become threatened Prometheus called into the vox “Assault ramps down! Charge!”

Transports ground to a halt and threw open their ramps, Astartes and Imperial Army charged forward unleashing a new hail of bolter fire and streaks of las fire. The forces quickly came together into a sawtooth formation, Astartes squads leading companies ever deeper into the ork lines while the center was held by Prometheus, his Terminator guard and the most elite Imperial army forces. Baneblades and Shadow Swords dispersed themselves through the front adding their considerable fire to the advancing infantry while the Wolfram tanks held the flanks with Imperial army reinforcements.

Prometheus at the center of the chaos swung his power glaive in sweeping arcs cleaving through orks several at a time, his Terminator elite cleaving their own bloody path through the horde while grenades arced over their heads to explode just beyond the front line. Gouts of flame bloomed between the hulking terminators as troopers found openings.

The plasma of the Wolfram Freki tanks arced over the advancing Knights, rending groups of Orks into nothing more than piles of gore as the Rhinos pushed forwards. Unlike the transports of the Knights of Awe, those of the Steel Sentinels continued to advance further until they were closer to the imperial troops who clung to the dirt, making their profiles smaller to avoid being hit. When their ramps lowered, it only revealed the defenses that had been loaded into them and then the neophytes went to work, rapidly unloading the Aegis and erecting them next to the Rhino which acted as a mere starting point to the defensive Steel Sentinel line.

Their plasma rang past as they covered the advancing soldiers, covering their own men as they brought forward Aegis lines to large groups of soldiers so they would not have to hide in dirt and craters. The rounds of the ork weaponry bounced off those hasty defensive works as neophytes began to connect their tanks through these defensive networks, building a wall for soldiers to stage they’re charges in more coordinated fashions. However, in the front was where Usriel would be found, firing off his plasma pistol in deliberate, timed shots, each hitting ork after ork.

“Take dis space marine!” an ork called an jumped into the open power fist of the primarch, only to be crushed and tossed to the side as if it were nothing but useless trash. His honor guard unleashed further punishment into the ork’s corpse before moving back to gun down the orks indiscriminately with their fast-firing plasma weaponry.

Usriel fought his way to Prometheus, another orks body vaporizing as a result of a plasma shot. “We must keep advancing Prometheus, the orks will only muster more soldiers at this pace,” he called to his sibling as he stepped to the other Primarch’s side. However, Usriel stopped for a moment before tackling his brother to the ground just before something as large as an artillery shell flew above the two and collided with a Rhino. As Usriel looked up, he saw the ramshackled construction of some ork vehicle, towering into the air as it stepped out from behind the fortress and teeming with orks. It was clear even from a glance that it was incomplete, but it was an orkish titan nonetheless.

Prometheus grunted as he hit the ground, the bulk of his brother and armor knocking some wind from his lungs, he stood quickly acknowledging Usriel with a nod of thanks. He then quickly drank in the details of the battle surrounding him. The strategy his generals had planned was grinding slower than was expected, and there were more orks than expected. There was a titan, a ramshackle thing raining bits of scrap metal and orks as it walked. He stepped away from the front line which closed ranks with practiced ease. He closed his eyes for a moment, processing through the entire battle in moments, it wasn’t good but he could fix it... “I must have victory” he said to himself quietly, the words drowned beneath the fury of battle.

“Usriel!” Prometheus shouted over the din of warfare “I need your Legion on the flanks! They can not envelop us!” He didn’t wait for a reply, something he was certainly going to hear about later, he continued on a vox channel bouncing between generals, captains, and commanders shifting the shape of the battle to his advantage. As he spoke a lance of plasma streaked above him reducing a land-raider to glowing slag. “The titan must fall” he said as he pulled officers onto his command channel. “Super heavies, Artillery on the titan, bring it down now.” Prometheus said in an unnaturally clipped tone frustration bleeding through his calm demeanor.

As the battle shifted slowly as orders filtered through the first impacts fell onto the titan, whirlwind rockets and heavy earthshaker shells detonated on the ork titan’s bulk cleaving away unfinished structures. The thing didn’t even have void shields, the might of the armored vehicles should make short work of it. Finally he called on the general vox “Forward! Forward! Bring them ruin!” Prometheus started forward again rushing past his Terminator elite carving a swathe single handedly through the horde, his Astartes following his example and rushing deep into the ork lines while the Imperial army followed but had to absorb more of the Orkish counter attack. Thousands were being cut down but the advance regained some of its steam.

The titan began rocking from the beating it was receiving from the titan slaying weapons of the super heavy tanks. It stubbornly stayed standing continually pelting the assault with brutal firepower, tanks and transports lay burning dotted throughout the front line. Whole companies reduced to ash along with the horde it was fighting. The Imperial war machine ground ever onwards accepting the casualties as necessary sacrifices for victory.

An Astartes fel-blade tank broke free of the ork hordes, it was soon flanked by a pair of Stormhammers who closed within nearly suicidal range of the Ork titan and began hammering it with their myriad of heavy cannons. The leg they fired upon crumpled sending the titan to the ground crushing the majority of it beneath its own bulk. The tanks however were swarmed, the crews dragged out and butchered by the greenskins.

The Primarchs both cleaved their way at the head of the vanguard through the horde of orks, lances of plasma or a stream of storm bolter fire punctuating the fluid melee. The assault’s momentum grew as the titan fell and the Primarchs lead the charge. Orks fell in breathtaking numbers as the assault finally drove into the citadel of the ork stronghold itself.

The defensive lines of the Steel Sentinels had moved to the flanks, attaching their makeshift walls to what surviving transports they had and using that as further moving cover. Their plasma fell orks, though the orks came in such numbers that it became difficult to control the machine spirits within them. Neophytes who ignored their precautionary teachings earned superheated steam to their face, often killing them outright. Those that did survive the ordeal were hastily loaded into the safety of the transport by their squad members. However, the company of the Steel Sentinels seemed to be faring much better than the spearhead of the Imperial Army, their own dead being far less present than the others.

As they reached the citadel, the Sentinels used the primitive orkish walls as a basis to extend their defenses, quickly shifting the Aegis to form a position that could be defended from all angles, turning the outside of the walls against the orks who dared charge them. Usriel oversaw this to the best of his ability but it grew harder as the horde of orks seemed to be never ending, and it seemed that the battle was growing more costly every second that past. However, it quickly became clear that the Sentinels had established a nominal safezone just outside the ork fortress.

“The time to take the fortress has come!” Usriel stated into his vox, looking to Prometheus as his guard took up positions at the ‘gate’ of the fortress.

Prometheus agreed broadcasting to make the final push across the vox network which was answered by a roaring cry “And the ground shall tremble!” both primarchs, honor guard and the Knights Terminators streamed through the gate leveling all that remained of orkish resistance. Even the warlord who held the keep was no match for the forces arrayed against him being brought low by a hail of plasma fire from Usriel while distracted fighting Prometheus.

The cacophony of battle slowly began to fade when the warlord lay dead at the Primarch’s feet. Many thousands lay dead or dying in the battlefield each a tale of bravery and heroism. Slowly the front line began falling into the fortress to prepare defenses and rest after the long siege and final assault.

Prometheus made a very formal salute to Usriel “Thank you brother, This battle would have taken many more lives to see it through had you not been here. I know you care not for the lives of mortal men but they are precious to me and thousands more would have had to die taking this fortress. Oh, and please send me the record of your fallen this day. They will be added to the names of the honored fallen, watched over by the Ancient Deckard and his Knights of Mourning.” he said as the pair slowly made their way back to the courtyard, such as it was, of the citadel.

“Very well, Light Bringer. Those who have not had the machine spirits turned upon them will have their names sent to you, the others would only bring shame,” Usriel said coldly as the two walked. “However, the arrival of that abomination was… surprising to say the least, but you seemed to be able to adapt to the situation well enough,” he commented as his gaze went to the collapsed corpse of the orkish titan, barely able to be seen over the walls of the fortress.

“That it was... “ Prometheus said quietly “it was fortunate the machine was unfinished, It may have stalled the assault if it was like those destroyed by our friends in the Legio Titanicus.” Prometheus watched as dead and wounded were dragged into the safety of the fortress, one scene caught his eye as a whole squad of Auxilia troopers carried a dead Knight through the gate an ork Choppa still embedded in the breastplate. “Still a costly assault, I will be happy when the ork is finally obliterated from our galaxy.”

“And I will be happy when we do not need to rely on the weakness of man to carry us to victory,” Usriel stated as his own gaze turned to the scores of dead mortals that littered the pathway to the fortress. The soldiers of the Steel Sentinels only carried in Astartes and other neophytes who had fallen honorable in battle, however, the fallen men were otherwise brought in by the scruff of their necks and dropped into a pile unceremoniously.

Prometheus frowns at Usriel “Weakness? They are our strength brother, if not for them your legion would not exist, nor mine. Their strength is the Imperium. We Primarchs and the Emperor are immensely powerful but our dreams of a united galaxy do not depend on our strength, but theirs.” he says gesturing to the hundreds of mortals tending to the wounded and filling sandbags for temporary defenses. “You should have at least some respect for them. They charged with us today, fought with the same resolve and fury as our Astartes, without battle plate or augmetics. That is proof of their bravery.”

“If that is what you chose to believe, Light Bringer. These men have shown that they can follow orders, yes. They have shown that they may be brave, but do not let that sight fool you,” Usriel said, his voice cold and emotionless behind his helmet. He looked to those men who still lived, “Anyone of them could be a dissident, a traitor waiting for his chance to strike,” he turned the Prometheus, “It is not their lack of bravery that is their weakness, but it is the lack of loyalty. That is what has reduced my legion to using Neophytes as foot soldiers and it was that lack of loyalty I have had to put down before.” His powerfist clenched as he spoke, perhaps the only sign of proper emotion from him at that moment.

“I would watch the mortals closely, brother,” Usriel advised, the final word from him echoing hints of antipathy before the primarch stalked away.
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Bright_Ops The Insane Scholar

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High Command: Laeran


Micholi’s head was bowed, his eyes closed and his breathing steady as he attempted to meditate and center himself in the early stages of the storm building around him. The operations to bring the war on Laeran to its conclusion hadn’t officially started yet; The aquatic forces of the Lurkers and Lions were in the process of sinking into position quietly for the important second stage while many of his own legionaries moved around the planet to prepare for the chaos of the first stage. However, such preparation had a price.

Since they had established their foothold, Micholi had sown a campaign of misdirection against the Laer with a very important goal in mind.

From the start, he had known that the Laer’s underwater cities and facilities were going to be one of the hardest fortifications to try and take, even more so if he had pushed an aggressive war on the surface; Forcing them from the surface to retreat underwater would just make an already difficult to attack fortification harder to breach since they would have more bodies and they would be better suited than the Night Watch when it came to fighting in such an environment.

So he had made a show of the Imperium being… unwilling and inexperienced at waging warfare underwater. He had intentionally set up the defenses of their foothold on the world so originally the defenses aimed towards the sea itself were a weak point, through several well chosen positions further in were fortified enough to make up for it while still giving the appearance that when the Laer had launched their seawards assault, it was simply the Imperium responding quickly to their invasion rather than expecting them for some time.

He had also sent a variety of dummy ‘spies and scouts’ into the waters, taking advantage of the Imperium’s servitor supply in order to do so in order to spare actual lives where possible. They ranged from probes that were as easy to spot as the star in the sky to scanners that had enough stealth tech that it gave the appearance of the Imperium getting better but nowhere near enough slip past the notice of the Laer. All of these dummies were discovered and destroyed as planned.

They served their purposes through; The Laer were now overconfident of their ability to beat the Imperium if it tried to blindly assault their underwater holdings… and the dummies distracted them from the actual reconnaissance units and drones he had sent down with the good stealth tech to locate said facilities and scan the area around them. The Lurkers and Lions would not be wanting for information on their targets.

The fact that most of the fighting had happened only on the surface of Laeran over the last few months had resulted in the Laer pulling more of their forces up from the depths to the surface. Said underwater facilities were still no joke when it came to their defences and the dangerousness of their defenders, but they were now arrogant in their overconfidence and the amount of defenders was as light as it was going to get.

However, all that preparation and work would be for very little gain if the Laer were free to take troops from the surface and plunge back into the depths; Sure some cities and fortifications would be taken by the Lurkers and Lions, but the remaining ones would simply get reinforcements. So logically, for the operation to work… the Laer couldn’t be allowed to be free to redeploy troops.

Almost a third of the Night Watch legion forces on Laeran had been assigned a variety of squad missions, ranging from simple sabotage and intel ‘recovery’ missions to assassination and terror strikes aimed at killing as many Laer as possible (be their civilian, military or otherwise). Their collective job was to cause as much chaos in as many places at once so that the Laer would find themselves with few soldiers to spare when word from the cold depths finally reached them.

However, Micholi could easily hear the reports coming in. The Laer were not fools and they had months of experience dealing with the Night Watch’s brand of stealth missions. A distressingly high number of squads had been uncovered before they had reached their intended targets.

Of course, they were trained to adjust to changing conditions and had changed their personal squad objectives to continue along with the overall goal of chaos, confusion and pinning down Laer forces, but the death toll so far was higher than Micholi would have liked… but sadly still well within predicted casualties.

Breath in… Breath Out…

“Primarch, the amount of Laer movement and chatter in areas where squads haven’t taken out their comms is increasing by the minute.” Roban, one of the Tur who was monitoring intel as it came in spoke up. “From what we’re seeing, it seems like the scale of our activity has caught them off guard, but they’re recovering quickly and moving to try and stamp it out.”

The sound of power armor as an unseen marine moved to look over Roban’s shoulder to double check the information and confirm easily reached Micholi’s ears… as well as the fact that nothing was said when said marine moved away to return to their position; The assessment of the situation was good.

Finally, Micholi himself spoke. “Status on the rest of the Night Watch?”

A different officer of the Imperial Army, a human lieutenant named Jacobs answered “First wave is prepared to take off and begin their assault. Second wave is prepared and waiting, Primarch.”

Micholi nodded as he tightened his hold on the shaft of Unity. Opening his eyes, he finally stepped away from the tactical map and turned towards the door. “First wave is clear to launch. I’m going to join the second wave, which will launch once the Lurkers and Lions are in position and have started their assault. General Nelinho, Command is yours.”

The door closed shut behind the Primarch as General Nelinho stepped up, the veteran tech marine easily taking control of Command as the first wave of Night Watch and Imperial Army ships started their offensive; If the Omnissiah was truly with them, the Laer would be so caught off guard by the first Imperial offensive since they made planetfall that the element of surprise would carry them far.
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XVIII Legion - The Black Manticores 2nd Battle Company
M31.000
Bridge of the Dark Promise
Ullanor Quintus
Ullanor Sector



It took several precious hours of careful manoeuvring, but at last, the Black Manticores battle fleet above Ullanor Quintus was in position. Hulking starships formed Leonarys’ spear. The volunteer vessels hung in the black of the void at the tip of the formation with nothing but empty space and time between them and their inevitable demise. A strong core, an amalgam of frigate and destroyer class vessels, comprised the bulk of the force behind the damned. And finally, at the rear of the formation, the Dark Promise sat flanked by its two sister cruisers. Upon its bridge, Leonarys gazed out over his fleet, steeling himself for the battle to come.

He had commanded his officers to reassemble in the strategium aboard the bridge where they had drawn up their plan hours earlier. Ophiel Mectus was the last to arrive, muttering to a decrepit calligraphus servitor that had to take two steps to match his every one. The dull green eye lenses were lifeless, but his plethora of scrambling mechanical limbs were certainly alive, transcribing the Chief Lorekeeper’s every sentiment onto various data slates. Ophiel was likely keeping a personal log, or logging his own musings, or both. Either way, as he approached the hololithic projection on the central table of the strategium, he dismissed the servitor and greeted his fellow officers.

Leonarys turned away from the viewport. Despite the blackness, space always seemed bright in comparison to the grim electrical lighting of the bridge. The dark metallic walls and ceilings were lit by the ghostly pale blue of the projection and scattered off-white lumen lamps held in black iron sconces. He counted the heads at the table, ensuring everyone was present, before keying into his vox to run final operational assessments past the various responsible parties. The Enginseer had reported all clear, and the Master Gunner had reported that the Dark Promise was operating at 100% combat effectiveness with more than a twinge of excitement in his robotic voice. Other ships voxed in, reporting their own readiness. Some had not yet, but there was no more time to waste.

Leonarys strode powerfully and with purpose from the gantry, his crimson cloak flowing gracefully in his wake. The heavy thud of his power armoured boots gave all the signal the officers needed to end their muttering and fall silent for their Praetor. Captain Addis stood away to one side, staring furiously at the flickering gothic runes upon a data slate in an obvious attempt to avoid eye contact with Leonarys. He was gripping the slate with such intensity that his knuckles had lost their colour and his frame was visibly shaking, likely with a mixture of anxiety and frustration that the Astartes were so willing to sacrifice his men and ships for their mission. Still, the captain understood the importance of their mission and had ultimately resigned to the will of the Emperor’s superhuman servants.

Addis obviously noticed the approach of the towering Astartes Praetor but did his best to not acknowledge him. The captain jumped as Leonarys’ gauntlet landed on his shoulder. “Come, Captain.” The man finally looked up from his data slate and met the gaze of the space marine. Despite being tall for a human, he still had to crane his neck upwards to see Leonarys’ face. “Let us revisit our strategy one last time.” He gestured to the hololithic projection and the two joined the remaining officers. Leonarys knew there nothing he could say to allay the captain’s reservations, but the will of the Emperor demanded sacrifices.

A dozen or so pairs of red eyes fixed on their Praetor. Leonarys relayed their plan of attack one last time; the volunteers would go ahead and draw the Greenskins into open space, where the remainder of the fleet would be able to dispatch their vessels with ease out of range of the modified asteroid space stations. After that, they would be able to deploy teams to take the stations from the inside, and then head for the surface of Ullanor Quintus. The Astartes all nodded their approval of the plan, and Addis added his own, although the captain’s disingenuity was evident to all present. Leonarys walked back to his perch on the viewing platform, taking one last long look over the fleet. He keyed into his vox. “Captain. Begin our attack.”

Almost instantly, the rows of servitors seemed to jolt into action. Their mechanical fingers swarmed across their consoles, keying at runes and processing readouts. The cables wiring them into the ship hummed and pulsed periodically with energy, feeding their thoughts into the ship and relaying to each other with a cacophony of abhuman clicks and whirrs. Flittering serfs scuttled under the grimy white light of the bridge, carrying messages and data slates to and from. The deck rumbled as the engines of the cruiser flickered, stuttered, and then roared alight. Looking out of the viewport, Leonarys could see the ships in front of him doing the same. The Praetor keyed into his fleet-wide vox channel to address his forces.

“Men and women of the Imperium,” he started, his booming voice cutting through the nervous chatter aboard the decks of every vessel. Ubiquitously, crewmen, serfs and officers turned their attention, attending his every word. “The ferocity of the Greenskins knows no bounds. Their presence in this galaxy is a ravening plague upon our noble Imperium. Today, we punish their insolence and visit the righteous wrath of our Emperor upon these Xenos parasites. Men and women of the Emperor, I charge you henceforth. You are the Emperor’s shield, and you are the Emperor’s sword. On this day, you will do battle in His name, and you will know victory. For the Emperor.” Across the ships, thousands of clamouring voices echoed the salute in chorus, their shouts filled with immense pride and zeal. Glancing over his shoulder, it appeared even Captain Addis had stood straighter, his resolve apparently steadied somewhat.

The volunteer vessels at the spear tip of the fleet began their death march toward their foes. Leonarys keyed at his vox runes to address just the forlorn frigates who knew they were venturing to their doom. “Noble volunteers. On behalf of the entire Imperium of Man, I thank you for your nobility, courage and unflinching dedication. Without you, our mission on Ullanor Quintus would have failed before it began. I give you my word, your deaths will not be in vain and your sacrifices will not be forgotten. May the Emperor bless you with his protection. Good luck.” At that, he let the channel fall silent with a meek crackle, removing himself from his vox and refocussing his attention on the scene ahead of him.

The fleets crawled towards one another, the distance between the volunteers and the rest of the fleet growing as they raced towards the haphazard assemblies that the Orks had the audacity to call vessels. As soon as the Orks had seen their advance, they had matched it with their own, firing all of their ships into action and hurtling at their opposites with their signature aggressive disregard. By the ship’s scans and cogitations, Addis had confirmed, the Orks would meet the Imperial vessels just out of range of the asteroid weapons platforms.

The volunteer vessels reached their destination and began to turn, rotating to expose the onrushing Orks to the macrocannons that lined their gundecks. The Orks did not turn to do the same. Missiles and plasma shots launched across the space between, little more than a symbolic resistance, a roar of defiance in the face of the executioner’s down-swinging axe. At any moment, the Orks would turn to meet their fire and make quick work of the volunteers but expose themselves to the remainder of the fleet in doing so. Yet they did not turn. Their vessels hurtled on with reckless abandon. The background noise faded out and Leonarys’ vision tunnelled to the scene. Everything seemed to freeze for a moment. And then the first jagged hull of an Ork vessel rammed at full tilt into the side a frigate and cleaved the vessel in two.

Leonarys felt rage boiling up from within him as the other two volunteer ships fell to the same fate. Rage at his foe, and rage at himself. He had gravely underestimated the recklessness of their foe. One could not form a logical strategy against an enemy that knew no logic themselves. He shook himself from his angered stupor as the Ork fleet continued its reckless assault, its bestial gaze fixed firmly on the remaining Imperial ships. Leonarys could see their ships now in detail; scrap metal panels spray painted in reds and yellows and alien symbols scrawled hastily across their hulls. They were poorly constructed, yet terrifyingly effective.

“Addis! Send orders! Do not face these ships broadside or they will ram you. Order all combat personnel onto high alert and prepare for boarding. And by the Emperor, open fire!” Addis did as he was bid, and the black of space was set alight with munitions fire. Searing lances carved their way through the black, melting away the ramshackle plating of Ork vessels and penetrating into the interior, sucking out helpless Greenskin crewmen to suffocate in the vacuum. Plasma blasts charred hulls and macrocannon fire boomed. Some smaller Ork vessels erupted into flaming wreckages, debris scattering across space. Some larger vessels took the immense Imperial firepower in their stride, shrugging off shells bigger than an Astartes like bothersome insects and continuing their charge. The Dark Promise shuddered as an Ork shell collided with their voidshields, rocking them but in no danger of penetrating from such a distance. The cruiser returned in kind with a volley of concentrated lance fire that danced across the void, and then tore into the frigate’s hull, igniting fires across the starboard side and removing several gundecks form the battle. Leonarys looked on stoic from his viewing platform at the utter carnage in front of him. The blazing reds and yellows of explosives and fires painted his pale skin in the colours of battle. The volunteers, he knew, would not be the only ones to make sacrifices this day.


XVIII Legion - The Black Manticores 1st Battle Company
M31.000
Southern Hemisphere
Ullanor Prime
Ullanor Sector



Blood sprayed across Tymos’ face as he jerked his talons free from the limp body of an Ork. Before the Greenskin corpse had hit the floor, he whirled around and found another target, his powered claws rending green flesh with devastating elegance. The red-soaked lightning talons hummed and crackled as they tore through skin, muscle and bone alike. A crude axe clanged off of the Primarch’s armoured shoulder, barely even scratching its surface, and Tymos retaliated in kind by opening the Ork’s belly with one hand and stabbing through its throat with the other.

To his right, Tymos saw Morael deflect a vicious blow with his storm shield, and return with an upward swing of his axe that sent his aggressor flying into the air in a spray of viscera, crumpling on the ground in a mauled heap. The familiar thud of bolt shots meeting flesh rang out around them as the marines of the Black Manticores set about their bloody work, dismantling their Greenskin foes in a blur of frenzied attacks. Tymos and Morael disposed of yet more Orks, slashing and slicing through the onrushing green bodies as if they were made of paper. Severed limbs and pooled blood adorned the ground by their feet, congealing the dirt into a clotted red-brown mess.

The fighting ended almost as suddenly as it had begun, lasting only a matter of minutes. Their ambush had been a resounding success; Tymos looked around and noted all of his black-clad sons still stood, although some had suffered wounds at the hands of the ferocious Xenos. Around him, the Black Manticores marines prowled the rows of bodies, ensuring each and every one of them was dead before decapitating them and collecting the heads, both to prevent their return and to add to their trophy collections. Some set about unclogging their chainaxe blades of the flesh their teeth had gorged themselves upon, and others set about ensuring their boltguns were loaded and their spirits appeased.

"Fourteen," a voice from behind the Primarch said with pride. Tymos turned to Morael as he approached, the arms and torso of his heavy armour coated in a thick dark red ichor. His pale head was shaven bare, but his mighty beard was wilder than ever, blood-soaked also and marked with scattered rings and adornments tangled into the matted hair. His left pauldron bared the mighty symbol of his Legion, while the right denoted his rank as an esteemed Praetor of the Black Manticores.

"You are becoming slow, Morael," Tymos responded with a wicked grin. "Eighteen." Tymos smiled at his friend, enjoying the look of disappointment on his face as he stooped the wipe the blood from his talons on the ragged cloth clothes of a fallen Greenskin before it had a chance to congeal in the joints of his weapons. "Was their leader among the dead?"

"No. It appears he does not sully himself with simple transport work. He is either smarter than we give him credit for, or he is a coward."

"Cowards do not rise far among these vile Xenos, Morael. He is wise not to expose himself so easily. Unfortunately for us." Tymos went to scratch his chin in thought, stopping short as soon as he remembered all his fingers were currently ferocious, needle-like blades. "Search the supplies and see if there was anything of importance among the shipment, any clue of where it was headed and why." Morael nodded his compliance and bowed before the Primarch, then took his leave, barking orders at this legionary brothers.

Their search bore no results of any tangible use to them. The supplies were mainly weapons and ammunition, which Tymos swiftly ordered his men to destroy. In good spirits, the squad trudged back to their transport, a Wraith-Pattern Stormbird. The black hull of the great aircraft shimmered in the light of the setting sun, its engines igniting with little more than a muffled hum and the ramp to the troop compartment lowering into the dirt with a soft hiss. Tymos climbed the ramp into the bright interior, lit with bright lights only slightly paler than his own ghostly flesh. His men followed him into the Stormbird, the ramp closing behind them.

The ship took off with a slight rumble, and then returned to smooth flight, floating through the skies with hardly a sound. The men inside bantered back and forth, comparing the trophies of their minor victory and brainstorming the best uses for the Ork skulls they had collected. Tymos sat in silence and solemnity, pondering. The war for the Ullanor Sector had been a curious affair thus far. He had recieved little communication about how the other Legions were faring. The Black Manticores had been orchestrating an extensive campaign of disruption and terror across positions away from the capital, doing their best to prevent supplies and reinforcements from reaching the main Ork positions. Orks amassed around their leader were difficult to scare, but no living thing was immune to hunger. As such, Tymos and his sons had destroyed dozens of convoys, ambushed reinforcing Orks on their way to the capital, and torn down numerous smaller strong points like scattered outposts. Yet their foe was innumerable, and the Xenos tide seemed to replenish itself with two more savages for every one that fell.

His thoughts were interrupted by the crackle of his vox. The voice of the ship's pilot came through. "My Lord Tymos. Our Astropaths have recieved word from Lord Leonarys. He says they have been victorious over Ullanor Quintus, but suffered losses in the battle above the planet." Tymos considered the words carefully. The Greenskin resistance at Ullanor Quintus must have been greater than they had anticipated. Leonarys had been successful, but from the sounds of his communication, he would likely be unable to take the planet with his remaining forces.

"Relay a message, pilot. Inform our Astropaths to tell Leonarys that I will petition my brothers for reinforcements. With the Emperor's blessing, they should arrive before any Ork reinforcements do." The pilot acknowledged, and then cut his vox communications. Next to the Primarch, Morael shuffled expectantly. "Leonarys was victorious over Ullanor Quintus." Morael grinned wryly. "He needs reinforcements, however. Once we return to our ship, we will have to pursue assistance from the other Primarchs." Tymos sighed. With the Astartes forces spread so widely across the system, finding someone who could divert the resources to aid his men would not be a simple task. Getting help from his brothers and sisters rarely ever was.
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Dread Lords


The XIV's bombardment had gouged vicious scars upon the firmament and earth, veteran scars that would mark the world for millennia to come. And into the aftermath of destruction had the angels of death flown. Their Dreadclaws had ripped apart the intoxicated clouds in streaks of fiery titian. Once an adequate altitude was attained, archaic rockets paved their malevolent descent. 4 thousand sons of Asura stepped foot on a landscape of vague reminiscence but overall, wholly devoid of certain familiarity to a man.

The Astartes were in the ruins of a vast fortress-city, crudely akin to barbarically ramshackle cities of Ursh from the Age of Strife, framed by the shadow of a mountain range of burnt sienna that rivalled the great volcano plains of Baigok in immensity, the largest of its monstrous kind in the hemisphere. The rot of nucleonic fire was evident on the masses of corrugated metal structures around them. The millions of foul denizens that had called this distasteful place home had been reduced to billions of ashes infesting the stale air of the alien world, the stench of manmade doom fresh and unadulterated. They were surrounded by the remnants of alien civilisation. Only moments after insertion did the xenos make themselves known though it had been in a manner no one, maybe not even Asura himself, had foreseen.

The mountains had erupted in a roaring avalanche of green.

Sunsu woke up beside Death.

His lenses were wet with the ooze-like blood of his enemy, his armour coated in viscera. His enemies blown or torn apart into mincemeat, the First Captain forced his way out of concrete and metal, trampling the ground of green corpses strewn around the missile-hollowed edifice he'd emerged from. He revved his chainaxe thrice, the engines struggling to dispel the chunks of gooey meat clogging the crevices between each fanged blade.

“Sunsu to the First. Sunsu to the First.”

Static replied. Interference from the Orks was isolating his men but the Legionaries had planned beforehand to regroup after each squad had achieved their tactical purview. The whole place had gone to hell after the Orks had launched salvos of long-range ballistic missiles from the mountains onto their former city. Separated from his company after the most recent salvo, the Astartes officer was alone for now. He had to pick up the pace. His armour hummed louder than a pair of data storage servitors at full power. The Astartes warrior marched through ravaged “streets”, the word generously used, concrete and metal debris connoting an abstract depiction of his Primarch’s vision for xenos kind; utter annihilation.

Guttural snarls were issued from the corners of his vision. More greenskins and much more of their lesser sized but no less detestable brethren. From the dark interstices between broken buildings they came. These were the survivors the Astartes had come for, survivors of the XIV’s bombardment. All were bearing scars or missing limbs but the greenskin species were a hardy species and injured or not, the beasts were intent on killing the lone Astartes before them.

Responding with a growl of his own, the First Captain of the XIV leaned into a battle-stance. His chainaxe clogged up, Sunsu instead bludgeoned the first of the many xenos that charged him. He moved with impossible grace for one so large, weaving through the foe, chainaxe in one hand and combat knife in the other. He sliced their thick throats. He mutilated their thick arms. Darting excruciating inches away from filthy xeno blades, he’d riposte with a brutal crushing of their skulls, turning alien bone to alien powder. The arrogance of the aliens betrayed them and within moments their numbers had been reduced to the digit. The last of them was no different from the first and its end was no different from the first either.

A trail of corpses left strewn behind him, Sunsu stomped further through the ruined world. When contact was finally established, it was established on the remains of the fortress-city’s walls. Standing atop a valley of wreckage, he awaited the reparations of his weapons from his personal serfs. His Sergeant had been prompt to attend to his Captain.

“The company's objectives have been achieved sir," Sergeant Fao reported.

Sunsu glanced at his battle-brother then turned his gaze on the sandstorm coalescing on dry red desert plain beyond, “As expected. Any casualties?”

"A few were killed from the retaliating bombardments. The Apothecary has recovered the fallen's seed."

“Acknowledged. Status on the other companies.”

“The 2nd is positioned to our eastern flank, the 3rd to our west. The 4th is still regrouping, they suffered heavily from the missile attacks.”

Sunsu spat out his anger, the glob of acid expelled from his mouth disintegrating the metal beneath him. “Those xenos scum will pay for this!”

“That they will, my son.”

Both Astartes spun around to face their gene-sire. Though he was coated in a sheen of grime and xenos viscera, the gruesome stains somehow made him appear more resplendent. He was a war god in the flesh.

Bending the knee, Sunsu said, “I have failed you, my lord!"

Asura raised an eyebrow, "Is that so?"

"My company has suffered because of my inability to perceive the threat in the mountains. My incompetence has cost the Legion and I offer my life in recompense!"

The Primarch laughed, a rough but warm sound. He beckoned his First Captain up, "The burden of your brothers deaths lies on my shoulders, Sunsu. It is a weight I must carry for the rest of my life. I gave the order to make planetfall and in my bloodlust-ridden haste to purge the xenos remnants, I became blind to other threat vectors. Perhaps redemption may be found in the battle to come."

The Captain looked up, "Do you intend to assault the enemy's mountain strongholds, milord?"

"Why come to them when they come to us? Look beyond, my sons."

In the plains beyond, the Captain and Sergeant saw an encroaching sandstorm, albeit a massive one. Sunsu frowned and enhanced his photolenses. Now able to see clearly past the wall of dust particles, he found himself instinctively unsheathing his combat knife at the sight before him. There was not an inch of land not covered by the outlines of beast or machine. It was a horde so large that their movement had created the sandstorm around them. Sunsu's transhuman mind estimated the size of the enemy army. It was easily in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps even a million-strong!

"We must signal for reinforcements!" Sergeant Fao exclaimed.

Asura nodded. "That would be a wise decision. But from who? We cannot recall the companies engaging in boarding action so quick nor will the fleet be much help for the void war continues still."

"Perhaps your brothers and sisters may lend us strength, lord?"

"Hmph." Asura took a moment to retrieve twin sheathed swords from one of his honour guard. Fang and Edge they were named and aptly so. Even sheathed, the twin power swords exuded an aura of vicious martial potency. There were few power weapons in the Imperium of the same class.

"Much of my siblings are preoccupied with either trying to impress Father or prosecuting their own wars. It will prove fruitless contacting them. And there are even fewer who will lend their sons and daughters to the XIV once they hear of my intentions."

"My lord?" Sunsu asked.

In a single motion that was a blur even to the enhanced eyes of the Astartes, Asura unsheathed Fang and thrust the tip of the power scimitar toward the rapidly encroaching Ork horde. Opening the vox channel, the Primarch spoke to all his sons.

"We are the Dread Lords. We shall strike swiftly into the heart of the enemy in a single thrust. Recall the Dreadclaws and prepare to for reinsertion. Danger-close conditions. We will decapitate the head of this horde and present it to the Emperor!"

Turning to Sunsu, Asura commanded his Captain, "Send out a system-wide distress call. The XIV shall request aid from its brothers and sisters and it is by their coming that this battle will be won. Yet, let it be known the Legion did not shame itself in front of them by awaiting their arrival. We will engage this mass of xenos filth in open battle my sons and we will fight our way to their warboss whose head shall be cleaved off its hideous body by the end of this solar cycle. In the name of the Emperor it shall be done!"

The companies would begin reassembling into the Dreadclaws. Unlike ordinary droppods, the Dreadclaws were vicious assault boats that could fight the enemy post insertion. Hundreds of Dreadclaws would lift off into the brown skies of Ullanor, disappearing into the murky clouds.

Like lightning they struck, waves of Dreadclaws descending down onto the vast Ork horde, the assault boats unleashing their arsenal of incendiary rockets that seared green flesh from bone and armour-piercing autogun fire shredding Gorkonauts and Deff Dreads. The Legionaries of the XIV emerged from their Dreadclaws in assault formations, bolters barking ferociously, chainswords and chainaxes roaring a roar of doom. Even in the chaos, there was a precision to the Dread Lord's attack. Reckless as it may be, the thousands of Astartes that were ripping their way from within the vast Ork horde were operating in tandem. They were a blade plunging deep into a great filth of green flesh. And the tip was their Primarch.

Asura was a maelstrom within the storm. His twin swords sang in alien blood, the blades wreathed in auras of lightning and swung with supernatural speed. The Primarch was a juggernaut of battle and he massacred the Orks before him without so much as a bead of sweat staining his bloody beauty. His honour guard followed the path their lord cleaved, the elite warriors proving their worth in a mounting tally of Ork skulls. They were the tip of the Dread Lord's assault, their flanks covered by the First Company.

"For Asura!" Sunsu bellowed as he slammed the running teeth of his chainaxe into the head of an Ork before swerving about to jam the barrel of his bolter-pistol into the mouth of another. "Tolerate not the xenos!" He raged, alien viscera coating his helm from the resultant explosion.

Overhead, the Dreadclaws washed whole swathes of alien in chemical fire while simultaneously engaging duelling Ork Fightas. Covered by their assault boats, the heavily outnumbered and outgunned Dread Lords went berserk within the Ork lines. Their prowess judged by the deathcounter, an archaic technology that tallied the number of kills each warrior amassed, the Astartes vigorously partook in an organized slaughter of xenos. The Dread Lords advanced forth as a juggernaut, deeper and deeper until the first of the Nobs appeared.

The creatures were massive, some dwarfed even an Astartes in Terminator armour, and they charged out of their own lines, a stampede of the strongest Orks in the horde that trampled their lesser brethren as they rushed at the Astartes. Already engaged in the grind of close combat, the Dread Lords were unable to meet the charge with a charge of their own nor were most of the frontline able to even brace for it. Sunsu was hurled back by the brunt of a Nob, crashing into his brothers behind. He barely had a millisecond to react as the Nob swung a massive, spiked mace, the force of which would have lopped even his helmed head clean off. Ducking under, the First Captain sliced thrice against the Ork's stomach then expended his remaining bolter-pistol clips into the beast's chin. The Nob stumbled backward but it did not fall, even with its guts spilling out and his lower face turned into mincemeat. It's eyes glinted at Sunsu and it lunged forward once more. Sunsu parried away its mace while a battle-brother came up from the side to decapitate the thing's head. The Nob's body kept swinging until the two legionaries proceeded to mutilate it further.

Sergeant Fao's voice cried out within his helm, "Captain! Our lines have halted!"

Sunsu grimaced. The Legion could not lose momentum. Not in the position they were in. The rear, being held by the 3rd and 4th companies, was already holding back Orks in the tens of thousands. If they stagnated then his battle-brothers there would soon be ripped apart.

"Push back brothers! Push back!" He shouted into the vox while his vox-emitter amplified his voice tenfold in the immediate vicinity. "Kill them for the Emperor! Kill them all for Asura!"

The desperation in his voice was evident. He had lost sight of the Primarch and the Honour Guard. Battle-brothers were beginning to die all around him, death-runes blinking repeatedly in his helm's interface. He was Astartes. He knew no fear. But a Dread Lord knew dread.
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Due to a player leaving, this post is no longer in continuity with the story. The Serpents and their Primarch are still prosecuting the Arel Extermination rather than being present during the battles for Ullanor.

Serpents of the Sun


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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Monochromatic Rainbow
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000.M31
Akhiina System
Saravata Subsector
Ultima Segmentum

LEGIO I et LEGIO XVI





Iniephor felt the howling in his mind abate as they left the Vast Sea. Akhiina System, Saravata Subsector. A new xenos race, and one that the Edict of Tolerance did not encompass, and so, the Imperium did what was needed to ensure mankind’s physical survival. One of his siblings had already found themselves carrying out the grisly deed, but he had been relatively close by- a few weeks Psailing at most, and the opportunity to document and research a race before their mark on the galaxy was irreparably erased was too juicy a chance for him to pass up. As his capital ship- The Glory of Wisdom, fully exited the Sea, he would arise, and with but a careful thought serfs would come running. His armour was not needed for this, but he still needed to look his best.

Soon enough, he was prepared. Purple robes clothed his form, adorned with golden chains and the fetishes of a Knosson magus. A magnificent cloak, colours shimmering even in the flat light of the vessel was affixed to his back, and in one hand he grasped a long, thin golden staff, sigils and runes carved into it. By his side walked his sons- honour guards, force glaives and arcane works in hand. He supposed, as this was his first meeting with a new sibling, he ought to take a gift, and as he had done with every previous one he had met he knew what he would offer.

Bound in leather, the front stamped with the symbol that more and more legions were using to represent their psykers- his horned skull. Some might find it insulting, he merely found it amusing. The skull was but a vessel for the glory of what was contained within, nothing more, and nothing less. If it had been up to him, he would have made the symbol a stylised brain, but nobody ever got everything they wanted. Grasping the book in his free hand, he would step from the Glory onto a smaller shuttle, and once all were aboard and the mag-locks were cast off, he would be on his way to meet this sister of his.

__________________________________________

“My Primarch, we have received word via your astropath of the imminent arrival of another of His Sons.”

The words filtered in through a dizzy haze of pict-feeds, comm-links, and auspex readings. The maelstrom of information fed its way through the cables implanted in the base of her skull, where the Primarch sat enthroned. Her eyes stared at everything and nothing as she monitored and coordinated the battle on the ground. From her mind flashed orders to the commander of the eighth Desayta, to hold fire until the assault craft of the 9th had finished their strafing run. Xenos war suits, resembling the hunched over primates of Terra… gorrillas, they were, erupted in flames as the diamantine tipped shells of Avenger strike fighters tore fiery gouts in the armor of the invaders. At a missive from her, fed through the comm-links of the artillery of the 2nd Battlegroup, the vast batteries of earthshaker cannons and other ordnance opened fire. Great eruptions of dirt and the mangled corpses of xenos invaders ballooned from the planetary surface as the fighters pulled up from their dive, and the rumbling and squeaking of the treads of Dracosan transports spinning into gear as the eighth and ninth Desaytas prepared to pinch off the salient they had prepared upon the planetary surface. This arm of the incursion had been soundly defeated in the void, and all that remained was to excise their presence from the world upon which they had been landed. And then would commence the next phase of the operation. And the next. And then the next. Until the vile servants of the Malevolent had been pushed back from Imperial space and returned once more to their rightful place within the stars.

Almost as an afterthought did the Primarch speak aloud, her attention scarcely budging from the constant stream of information. “Who is it, Rhena? Please do tell me it is not that loathesome crustacean. I have no desire to speak to him, nor do I believe we have sufficient butter stored within the ship’s larder for a crab dinner.”

“Er, no, my Primarch.” Came the response. “It is your Brother, Iniephor. He wishes to meet with you.”

A frown pierced her taciturn expression, and from the ship’s databanks into her mind flashed all of the information available on the other Primarch. She had never met this one before, that much was self evident, and thus it would be unacceptable to merely communicate via vox, let alone Astropath.

An audible sigh passed her lips, and quickly information relayed to the commanders of each Battlegroup. Additional coordinators stood ready at her signal, likewise plugged in via neural connection to the unfolding events on the ground - though there were far more. The Primarch herself could handle the mind boggling array of information, no single mortal mind, no matter how augmented, could handle such a deluge. In truth, this came at an inopportune time. Had her brother arrived merely a dozen standard hours later, the affairs upon the planetary surface would likely have been resolved, and she would not be forced to delegate the coordination of the military to her subordinates. It pained her to think of a single life lost due to the inefficiencies of the decentralized coordination, but the potential cost in spurning the first meeting between sibling Primarchs could cost far, far more in the long run.

At a signal, marked by grunts or hisses of discomfort from many, the data stream shifted and split, and her mind was free. A tech-priest hurried over, whispering silent cants under his breath as he performed the delicate procedure of disconnecting her implants from the ship. She winced as a spike of pain marked the final disconnect, and rose from the chair, massaging her neck. “Really, Serkei, could you not give some warning next time? It is unpleasant enough without not knowing when it will come.” She raised a finger before he could utter a response, a small smile on her lips. “I am not above petty vengeance, you know.” Came a whisper to him and him alone. “For I know there are more sacred unguents you keep in your quarters, prime targets for a little tampering.”

Beckoning the Ensign who had alerted her to her brother’s arrival, she began to walk from the Bridge, making her way to where her armor was stored. It would not do for the first meeting to be her in but her simple bridge-clothes. “Please, enlighten me further while I dress.”

____________________

Armored, now, she stood waiting for her brother’s arrival. The ensign blinked nervously, her pristinely starched uniform streaked by cold, anxious sweat that beaded from her low cropped military hair. “My Primarch, are you sure you do not wish some of your Daughters to accompany you?”

“I am certain.” Eiohsa replied calmly, “This Brother of mine is no barbarian like some. I doubt he will care, overmuch, whether we meet in the bridge itself or in some small mortal cafe upon the most insignificant of urban worlds.” She paused, before smiling, “And even if it is not so, I have you to protect me, do I not?”

The Ensign gulped, and looked ahead once more to the chuckling of her commander.

__________________________________________

Two by two by two entered the honour guard. With their glaives and their books and their fine gilded robes they looked as regal as the Emperor’s own custodes, but they fell to the sides of the gangway quickly and cleanly as the tallest figure strode out from behind them. Horns curling upwards, moustache and goatee meticulously curated, chains jingling slightly, Iniephor would bow at the waist, offering the book he held out with two hands.

“Greetings sister. I am Iniephor, Sorceror-King of Knossos, known as the Scholar. Please, take this- a small token of how glad I am to meet a new sibling of mine, and I hope that it’ll serve not only you, but also your legion well in the centuries to come.”

Eiohsa winced slightly at the brightness, the sheer power of her Brother’s soul. It glowed brilliantly within the warp, a beacon of psychic energy that outshone all others she had glimpsed. All but one. The Emperor.

“So, you truly are as they claim.” She said to him, inclining her head slightly in respect. “The greatest psyker amongst our number. Second only to the Emperor. Forgive me, your presence is… bright.” She took the proffered book in hand, gazing idly at it with some interest. “A treatise I take it?” She mused, feeling its heavy weight in hand. “Collection of your insights into the Supermaterium, perhaps? We will use this knowledge well, I thank you.”

“Ah. You have pelagic vision then. I had rumours.” He would wait a moment, then nod, causing his chains to jingle again. “Indeed. You call it the Supermaterium, I call it the Vast Sea, but it is the same thing. Composed during my time prior to my meeting of the Emperor, although it lacks some of my more recent studies into Mind Sharks.” He would wave a hand dismissively. “If you require further copies, feel free to contact my legion. Our Librarius is filled with them, but none as beautified as that.”

He would turn to one of the bulkhead windows, and stare out at the planet below. “I must admit, that whilst I was fascinated to come and meet one of my siblings, my predominant reason for coming here was what lies upon that planet. The xenos you’re fighting will soon stop existing outside of history books, and I hope to be the one to write said history book. That being said, politeness and courtesy costs nothing.”

“We call it merely Sight.” She responded, nodding solemnly. “The rumours are correct, every single soul upon that world, I feel them live and die. These xenos… they… they are not those whom I would save. Much as it pains me. The serve the Malevolent, I fear. Knowingly or not, their existence in its current form is a blight upon the universe. Perhaps there was a time they could have been saved, but when I look upon them I see nought but devastation for my people. And so I will fight them. We have obtained many corpses in excellent condition for study, you may have full access to them as well as my scientists’ findings.”

A nod to her Ensign, and a dataslate brimming with information sat in her hand. A high resolution pict-gallery displayed detailed three-dimensional scans of their anatomy. “They bear a cursory resemblance to gorillas of old Terra, but are hairless in entirety, and seemingly amphibious. What we have recovered of their suits indicates they contain liquid water to moisturize the skin. Their weapons technology is impressive. It is reminiscent of some of our own mass-driver technology, but considerably more compact and reliable, and utilized at small scale. We are hopeful that, if nothing else, this technology can assist in the improvement of our bolt-weaponry.”

“Gorilla like and with advanced technology. A distant relative to the ever-useful Jokaero, perhaps?” Iniephor would consider it for a moment and then shake his head. “Never mind that. My researchers will have more than enough time to be able to examine the intricacies of this race on their own terms. For now, I know very little of you, and you in turn presumably know less of me. Is there a place we can go, to talk privately among ourselves? My honour guard shan’t be staying for much longer.”

“My private quarters, if you wish it.” Murmured Eiohsa in response, nodding in turn towards Iniephor’s honor guard. “I bid you well, sons of my brother.” To her Ensign, likewise, she nodded. “Thank you for your company, Rhena, I will meet with you again on the bridge. I have matters to discuss with my Brother. Please confer full operational autonomy to the general officers.”

She turned back to Iniephor, “Please, follow me - unless you wish to converse upon your own vessel?”

The honour guard offered a curt nod to show that they had heard and acknowledged their aunt-in-arms, before turning and marching back into the ship. “No no,” Iniephor would insist. “T’is a simple shuttle, not suited for the talk of superhumans.” He waved his hand dismissively, and then fell into lockstep with his sister, eyes panning across the ship as the pair walked through its halls.

Eiohsa shrugged, “If you say so, though I referred to your own flagship. My apologies.” She beckoned him, and set off at a quick stride, deftly maneuvering through the streams of officers and other personnel aboard the ship, cutting through side passages and shrinking her form to duck through a small hatch. Her quarters were located deep within the vessel, far from the potential for an enemy projectile to impact. They were simultaneously plush and utilitarian, the bed itself was a simple affair - olive drab sheets and plain cushions. An enormous desk of sturdy make and brutalist aesthetic dominated the room, at which sat a wide array of pict-screens wired to a powerful cogitator that hummed quietly. Piles of tomes and myriad mechanical intricacies adorned the shelves and a workbench set into an alcove, bristling with tools and the disassembled components of the Xenos’ rifles. A thin privacy screen hid another part of the room from view. The walls were adorned in artwork from her homeworld, many of them surrealist in nature or evidently religiously inspired. A vast chart of the galaxy filled nearly half of one wall, dozens of pins placed on it and connected via notes and threads.

“My quarters. Larger than I need, in truth, but comfortable I think.”

In truth, Iniephor was a little astonished that she shifted her form so casually. He could manipulate his size as well, but, if he was honest, he found it to be not only discomforting, but also rather disconcerting. In his life he often stared into things alien and abominable, but it was when he himself changed that he most often felt dysphoria.

Her quarters as well were quite different to his own inner sanctum. His was books, data slabs and magical artefacts, hers… Well, it was different he had to say. Taking a seat, he would stretch himself out, chuckling a little as she described how she thought the room was a little larger than she needed.

“In truth, I appreciate a little lavishness. I grew up in palaces, something like this seems almost drab to me.” Reaching to his hood, he would let it tumble down onto his shoulders; revealing his visage to his sister properly. From the blonde ends of his mane to the horns that jutted out from his temples he had the slightest touch of the bestial to him, but the rest- the kohl around his eyes, the carefully trimmed moustache, was far too tamed to truly give the illusion of a uncivilised savage off.

“So then. Where are we to begin?”

Eiohsa smiled, “Well, brother-mine, tell me of your homeworld. I know so little of you, our databanks are practically bereft of any and all information of you. I can see that you are a prodigious psyker - obviously the greatest of us all. But what homeworld did you fall on to enkindle such learning and wisdom of the Supermateri- ‘Great Sea’ that you could write such a tome on its nature?” She raised an eyebrow, beckoning to a plain looking but evidently well used chair in the corner of the room, “Please, sit.”

“My homeworld…” Iniephor reached up, twirling the hairs of his moustache, lip curling slightly into a half-amused smile. “Knosson.” He would say, definitively, silence hanging in the air for a short while after. “Well, you must understand that my homeworld had little consequence towards my mind. Knosson was a world caught between its past and its future, and I represented the best of both.”

“I uncovered the past of my people whilst guiding them towards the future, and it was with every dig that I realised that despite its isolation, Knosson was far from uninhabited before its current settlers made it its home. My explorations into the great sea came later- after I was crowned but before our Father found me.”

Eiohsa nodded, her eyes scanning the form of her brother, picking out every eccentricity in his form. She digested his words slowly, “Then you have stood upon the shoulders of giants to gaze deeper into the mysteries of the warp. Who were these earlier inhabitants that not only predate Knosson’s current inhabitants but spurred you to such curiosity? Do you know?”

“Hardly. The people of Knosson knew not of what had made the vast, what were to them magical walls that kept them safe from the storms and crashing seas. They understood little of what had scored the surface of her moons, and what lay underneath their feet. They were barely feudal.” He scoffed slightly.

“Knosson had been resettled three or four times by humanity; and it was the third one that had stuck the best. They had put up some kind of tidal controllers that kept the cities safe, but then a catastrophe or malady had claimed them and society had degenerated… But beyond the signs of humanity, I found signs of xenos, and then, when I landed on her moons… I met xenos.”

Eiohsa raised an eyebrow, her posture shifting visibly as she redoubled her focus. “And, pray tell, what did you do upon meeting them?” She asked, frowning. “Please do not tell me you are yet another Brother who seeks naught but death and annihilation for that which does not share similarities in the temporal form? Do these xenos you met still breathe, or were they destroyed? You seem unlike the others in many ways, so I pray it is the former?” She paused, “And for that matter, who where they?”

“I spoke with them, as best I could. They warned me that to investigate the planet would invite doom upon my people, and then we amicably parted. As to what xenos race they were… I do not claim to be an expert on xenos races, and this was but a few minutes of an encounter, and so I cannot truly say. They were tall and lithe; humanoid and graceful. I would not mind meeting them again and talking to them.”

“Eldar…” Murmured Eiohsa, her eyes widening in surprise. “They were Eldar, brother. Hated by many within our Imperium. Loathed, purged whenever they’re found.” She frowned, “It is lost upon many that they, like many xenos races we encounter, are not some unified hive mind of malevolence. Those who raid our settlements for slaves and plunder are nothing like those clad in white armor. And yet they look and act different and some of their ilk have committed atrocities, thus they must be purged.”

She sighed, “I take it you have had no further contact with them, then? Their presence in the warp is… it is impressive. I know many in the Imperium would seek my end for saying this, but I believe you are not so blind. I hope to learn from them, in truth, the nature and mysteries of the warp and the forgotten, hidden realities of the universe.”

“I submit to your authority on this matter then… But enough about me and my homeworld, what about yours? Your daughters are… Peculiar, by the standards of our ostentatious father, and I suspect that there is something lying behind all of that.”

Eiohsa raised an eyebrow once more, folding her arms semi-defensively. “Do you refer to our wargear, brother? My Legion sources the bulk of our material from our realm of Saravata, and we found the production of standard Astartes power armor burdensome and overly complicated. The design was fraught with numerous instances of unnecessary waste and material usage in place that conferred almost zero advantage. Thus, utilizing many of the same STC designs and the ingenuity of my own people, we constructed suits of armor that, while somewhat less protective in limited areas, cuts down on the wasteful production techniques and results in a far more cost-effective design. We have further limitation, that the tech-priests of Mars are loathe to grant us more supply than we absolutely need, is the reason for my legion’s utilization of Dracosan pattern fighting vehicles in place of Land Raiders, among other differences. We do not paint our armor in garish colors that do little but signify to enemy forces that we are present. It is a matter of pragmatism, that is all.”

“Hmph. It certainly takes a special kind of individual to accuse the Mechanicum of being inefficient to their face, as opposed to merely acknowledging the fact in private. As for colours…” He would shrug. “For the Lantern Bearers, our colours are our pride. Our powers and tactics are not conducive to sneaking through woods, and nor would we wish to adapt them to such. We are the hammer of our Father, and we will smash through with mental power never before seen. But, then again,” he would finish with, grinning a little and displaying perfect pearl white teeth; “different strokes.”

Eiohsa returned his grin with one of our own. “I would hardly call the tactics my Daughters use ‘sneaking’. We simply see no reason to give the enemy even more of a target.” Her smile broadened, “Though in truth it is hard to maintain accurate fire when under bombardment from thousands of earthshaker cannons, so that may also be a contributing factor.” She paused for a moment, before continuing. “We utilize rapid mechanized assault tactics with heavy artillery and close air support. There are those who would describe themselves to be hammers, yes. I would describe my legion as a bulldozer.”

So the conversation would continue; discussions about this and that, later and later, until both Primarchs had gotten thoroughly acquainted with each other. It was a pleasant scene, so pleasant that it was easy to forget that below them men and women and xenos alike were fighting and dying by the droves, but such was the way of the Imperium. With a shake of their hands and a promise to work together in the future the two would depart, and thus, the galaxy’s fate changed the littlest of paths.




... End log
... Terminating connection
Thought for the day: Abhor the Malevolent. Cherish the Good. The Fate of All rests upon thy shoulders.
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The Fields of Ullanor Quartus


Ash. Blood. Death rode on the wind.

Around him, the breeze stirred the defiled earth, wrought loose by the steps of steel leviathans and the blasts of tremendous weapons. The crumbled remains of flesh and metal moved lazily upon it, burned by unnatural flame, tortured by blades and monstrous claws, consumed by alchymical poisons that no cognizant hand would willingly have wielded. Man and xeno, beast and machine lay in a gruesome mosaic of carnage that stretched to the visible ends of the field. Already decay was setting in, hurried on by viral corruption, and its sweet, cloying notes came to join the chorus of filth and violence that hung heavy over the murky soil.

Like a pack of ghouls, his warriors prowled among the mire of corpses. Few of his kin understood the significance of the time after battles - or between them, as it was now. Not gathering, counting their wounds and arraying themselves for the next clash; that was a matter of course. Not mourning the fallen; that was a habit of weak mortality, unworthy of Astartes. No, the hours and minutes after the roar of gunfire had died down, and when friend and foe alike lay wheezing in pools of their own blood and foulness, were like vespertine meditation after a day of labour, a time of closure and rebirth alike. That which was fallen was cut down and cast away, to be forgotten. That which lay crippled was like the crops at harvest, inert but ready to be taken and given new purpose.

Lone figures, their armour decorated with the symbol of a skeletal hand in flames, trudged where greenskin bodies littered the ground most thickly. They pushed the carcasses together, without wasting time to pile them in mounds, then aimed their heavy, dark tubular weapons and spat sweeping gouts of irradiated balefire onto the masses of dead flesh, like underhive sanitizers dispatching particularly troublesome concentrations of refuse. The duty of the Hecatombion was not an enviable one. In battle, they were called to wither the enemy while it still lived, and victory earned them not well-deserved rest, but the new duty of eradicating all trace of the fallen, which in the case of Orks had a more than symbolic importance. All the while, the contamination of their weapons spelled a slow death for them, seeping through their respirators, rotting their bodies from within. Yet no word of lamentation came from them, not now, nor ever before. As it should be. There is no I. Only duty.

Elsewhere, where fungal green turned to the blue of power armour and the grey of organic carapace, scavengers of a different sort were at work. Fleshweavers, bristling with servo-limbs, dug through the mangled bodies of their brethren. Those who were intact enough to merit the gamble of an augmentic graft for their survival were hauled up, their wounds injected with malodorous coagulants, and dragged off by impassible attendants. Those who did not fell brutally prey to the narthecium, the only final grace accorded them being the painless embrace of the carnifex. They had served their due and earned a peaceful road to blessed oblivion; no reason to waste anything more than that on them. Their armaments and ammunition, where still functional, were more valuable than the lifeless hulks they enclosed now.

He would have the Hecatombion burn them along with the dead Infestus when the salvagers were finished, he thought. With the Lord of Mankind so close, it was best to reduce them to the same cinders as the Orks. The triumph of his liege should not be marred with the traces of the transgressions which had been necessary to pave the way to it.

His shadowed gaze followed as the remaining packs of wretches were herded by their Mancipes towards the next advancing frontline. Those who lingered hungrily over one corpse or another were punished by crackling jolts. They had to remain ravenous. The battle was not yet over.

Sarghaul raised his eyes to the horizon beyond the newly mustering ranks of his legionaries. The rising wind had collected a shroud of dirty black clouds over the sky, polluted rain mingled with smoke belched by the horrors that passed for orkish factories, and he could look into the distance without squinting in the daylight. The survivors of the first horde had withdrawn that way, presumably to regroup. On its own, that was not a matter of concern. The greenskins’ reluctance to stop fighting had ensured that a precious few had scampered away from the field alive once their bulk was broken. However, the xenos’ tendency to cluster together suggested that the next major wave would advance from that direction, and so the Lurkers’ battle-lines had begun to turn, preparing to meet the foe in frontal combat. Detachments had splintered off from the main force, setting themselves in position for encircling movements, but given the magnitude and disorganized chaos of the Orks’ formations, catching a flank was a matter of luck as much as anything.

And already, they came. Far ahead, a lower, thinner cloud moved beneath the overcast heavens, the storm of dust and debris raised by a horde on the move. Large, much too large. The approaching force must have been greater than the one the Lurkers had first engaged by orders of magnitude. Barbaric as they might have been, the Orks were clearly not unprepared for a planetary assault.

The gargantuan Primarch turned from the menacing plume and stalked over to where his gene-sons had assembled a rudimentary field command, directly adjacent to where their supporting Truthlayers had claimed their own ground to arrange their numbers. It was not something any seasoned Imperial Army commander would have dignified as worthy of that name: half a dozen towering charybdes stood in a semicircle, idly grazing on the plentiful bodies that weighed upon the earth. On their backs were not cannons, bolter nests or missile racks manned by crystalline-eyed servitors, but tangles of transmitter antennae, auger array visors and power cables, jutting into the sky like the spires of small alien cities. Their feeding conduits disappeared beneath the beasts’ underbellies, lost in the wilderness of the fastenings that bound the structures - precariously, as it seemed - to their clamped-on armour. A troop of Expergefactors busied themselves about the machinery, their liturgic droning less an invocation to the hive of spirits than a continued exchange with them.

“What do you see?” the telluric rumbling of Sarghaul’s voice broke through the toneless litanies, drawing several scores of mechanical eyes to him. The elder Techmarine, distinguished by the profusion of cogs and skulls on his livery as well as his privileged position atop the central invertebrate monstrosity, inclined his head before replying in a reverberating thrum.

“Machines, Lord Progenitor. The inhumans move a host of their foul soulless husks against us. Aberrant things, bereft of true spiritual essence, but numerous.” The cyborg flexed a segmented steel claw and a spark of azure current rattled through it, the only properly perceptible way for him to display his scorn. A waft of ozone briefly blew through the air. “A large presence is with them, no doubt one of those walking scrapyards the beasts call ‘Stompas’. These necromancers of metal” he spat out the word as violently as his vocaliser would allow, “must have mobilised their whole assembly line.”

The Primarch raised a hand to stop any more disgusted rattling and ruminated the report for a moment. A Stompa so close to the frontline was both good and ill tidings. On one hand, the core of the Orks’ crude facilities must have been close, which confirmed the pre-insertion auspex scans. If the Lurkers struck at those focal points, the whole enemy force on Quartus would have been all but certainly pinned to the planet. On the other hand, the monstrous machine now stood directly in the way of that plan.

“Can we cripple them from orbit?” He motioned to the group tending to the transmitters.

“The fleet has done what it could,” one of the Expergefactors at the vox controls replied, raising a set of eyes, but not the rest of its head, from its work. “Enemy numbers will have decreased by sixteen to thirty percent by the time they engage our vanguard, but the chances of decommissioning their abominable titanic simulacrum before then are extremely low.” It paused as it observed something on a visor, rotating its photoreceptors, then added, “Barring sustained bombardment at risk of collateral damage to our positions.”

“Unnecessary.” The Tartarean churned beneath his helmet. “Let them cease and prepare for the next targeted strikes. What is their status?”

“Nominal.” Some turning and tapping. “Imbrifex Rimnal requests permission to take the Fourth’s reserve forces to assist Imperial operations in the outer system.”

“Granted.” While half a Tempest was far from insignificant, its absence would not detract much from the orbital presence of the Lurker fleet’s bulk. No doubt they could make themselves more useful in supporting offensives on the rest of Ullanor’s worlds than they would have been here. “Relay to all groundside troops. Assume sparse formations. Prime artillery and fire as soon as the xenos are close enough.” He glanced upwards for a moment before scraping his talons together. “Prepare the ancients for Titanomachia. And tell Akhron to make sure Opis and Clymene have eaten their fill.” A spectre of something that could have been mistaken for warmth momentarily passed through the Primarch’s voice.

“Their legs will be the ones that carry us to victory today.”

***


The green tide came. Through the ground-shaking blasts rained down by the fleet overhead, through the towering clouds of plague and flesh-eating venom that burst from the missiles as they erupted, the Orks trudged ahead, fueled by sheer stubbornness and bloodlust. Warriors stumbled and fell dead in their tracks as the foul barrage overwhelmed even their inhuman vigour. The clattering limbs of roaring Deff Dreads rusted in a blink, devoured by rad-shrapnel and chemical corrosion. Grots choked and collapsed at their posts, falling into the gears and furnaces they were tending. But nothing so much as slowed the horde. With snarls and curses, guffaws and jeers of “wotta panzy git!”, they marched, intent on giving the ‘ard umiez the scrap of their lives.

Like a walking tower, the Stompa loomed over even the most imposing war machines, its steps sending out quakes to rival the impacts of the bombardment. The colossal mechanical effigy of fungoid gods bristled with all manner of weaponry - cannons, rockets, gatler-guns, everything that could possibly be fastened to its bulk, and some things that straddled the limits of both decency and physics, had been bolted on and covered in the greenest paint to be found on the planet. A ragged banner topped by the skull of a massive squig surmounted its head, and at its foot the master of the scrapworks bellowed out orders to his army, rabid froth flying from his rusted cybork tusks as he raged in anticipation.

What doubtlessly angered the Ork even more was that none of his commands seemed to have any effect. It was only when the first volleys of artillery fire from the Astartes’ groundside forces began to pummel his vanguard that he realised he had been speaking without an amplifier the entire while. When it finally occurred to him to retrieve the improvised beaten metal cone that served that function, he was fast to make up for the lost time.

“DREADS GO A’EAD, YA ZOGBRAINZ! DREADS GO A’E- WHADD’I SAY? DAT BLUE IDJIT OVVA DERE, GET OUTTA DA TRUKKS’ WAY! WOT? I DUN’ GIVE A ZOG IF ‘E’Z-”

A stray Whirlwind missile crashed into the force field surrounding the gargantuan vehicle, drowning out the next words in a fiery blast. The shimmering aura of greenish energy gave a pulse and faded away with a fizzle. Something creaked in the Stompa’s underbelly.

However, it was a poor Ork that was daunted by explosions, and the shouting resumed almost immediately.

“KUSTOM FIELD’Z GONE? WOTCHA YA TELLIN’ ME FOR, I CAN SEE DAT MESELF! OI, YA DOWN DERE, DUN’ FINK I DON’T SEEZ YA! LOOTIN’ COMES AFTER DA SCRAP, UNDERSTOOD? MARSCH! AND GIT DA FIELD UP AGAIN, OR I’Z COMIN’ DOWN TO SORT YA OUT!”

More rockets rained down among the Orkish ranks, scattering the brutes in howling masses and engulfing their leaking vehicles in infernos of flame. More toxic clouds bloomed across the earth, and the noxious fires of phosphex sprang up here and there like the growths of an infesting weed. Rad-missiles tainted the soil and air where they fell. Vengeance warheads scattered mangled limbs and vaporised blood on the wind.

For the greenskins, the fun part was only just starting.

“OI, YA RUNTY UMIEZ!” the manic roars of the Stompa’s master thundered over the clamour of weaponry, lashing over the Lurkers’ ranks like the sound of an approaching cataract, “YA FINK YA’Z TOUGH CUZ YA KRUMPED DAT GIT RAZTUSK? WELL YA AIN’T! ‘E WUZ A DUMB SQUIG’EAD WHO SAID ‘IZ DUMB CHOPPA WUZ KILLIER THAN ME SUPA-GATLERS! WOT?”

Some dissension seemed to have arisen on the command platform, because a pause punctuated by inarticulate sounds followed.

“WHY ‘E’Z A DUMB SQUIG’EAD? CUZ I SAYZ SO! ANYWUYZ, WOZ’I SAYIN’? YAH, I’Z NOT SOME IDJIT SLUGGA BOY! YER WRANGLIN’ WITH BIG MEK ZAPGOB NOW, AND I’Z GOT DA MOST DAKKA DERE IS ON DIS STINKIN’ ROCKBALL! ARRA’! LET ‘EM HAVE IT!”

The Stompa’s forest of weaponry whirred to life with a ringing and clattering that made most nearby Orks wince and cover their ears, and then, in a single flash of stupendous violence, it let loose. A storm of steel and flame surged from the mechanical titan, a veritable compact wall of howling death. Shells of all sizes, etched with obscene taunts, scratched and rusted, flaming before they left their barrels sliced through the air alongside rumbling rockets steered by screaming grots, heedless of how many pieces they might end up in as long as they got to make a proper blast. Around the skull-mounted banner, shokk guns buzzed and spluttered, firing out a barrage of crackling energy, scrap and haphazardly teleported gretchins.

The echoes of the cooling guns had not yet faded when an even louder rumble picked them up. All around, Orks shouted and cheered as they fired everything at hand in the general direction they saw the enemy to be. Shoota volleys darkened the sky, and under their shadow crimson speed freaks rode ahead on smoking warbikes, all regard for where they steered their engines lost as they finally closed in on their foes. The lavine of trukks, Dreads, Kans and innumerable boyz followed, guns discarded in favour of blades and mauls and snapping power klaws. The battle was joined.

Arrayed against them, the Imperium’s warriors did not stand waiting for the screaming tide to cover them. Scattered wedges of blue-armoured Lurkers marched forth under the cover of their Aestus shields, fending aside the whirlwind of bullets before colliding with the charging mobs, like thorns seeking weak points in the enemy’s body to batter through. Many were caught by the Stompa’s gargantuan barrage, single massive slugs sending dismembered Astartes bodies flying on impact. More yet were sundered and thrown to ground in a rain of shrapnel by bursting rokkits. But most of the Orkish fire went wide, wildly raining into the ground between the dispersed Gales, and the decisive struggle was fought at close quarters.

The Infestus were first into the fray. Shock-whipped into a frenzy by their handlers, the hybrid aberrations leapt into the greenskins’ thick with ravenous fury, and in places even the savage Orks staggered under their feral onslaught. Serrated claws tore through skin and flesh, many-rowed teeth bit through bone and metal alike, chem-enhanced muscles tossed swarming gretchin like twigs. Maddened by the taste of blood, the monsters converged where they found the most to feast, ripping through battle-squigs and lightly armoured grunts. Yet, as often as not, they met the acrid metal of war machines, and Dread pilots cackled madly as they beat the gibbering abhumans aside.

In those foci of resistance where the first wave of fang and chitin broke against steel, the space marines descended to do battle with the hardiest adversaries. Some, held aloft by their jetpacks, dropped onto the shoulders of walkers and roofs of trukks before slicing them open with power claws. Others traded blows with the rugged constructs on foot, with sword and chainfist, bolter and talon. Armour cracked under the superhuman might of both sides. Among the chaos, charybdes stood out like creeping bastions. The autocannons on their backs spat out death in salvoes, and their augmented pincers scythed down Ork and vehicle alike. They fell, crumpling under the Stompa’s blasts or under clambering mobs of xenos, but more and more kept crawling ahead, as if the gateway of the abyss had been opened.

The Truthlayers had not failed to present themselves in this exchange, supporting and aiding the lines from the rear, laying down their own variable wall of intense bolter fire from above the shoulders of their battling cousins. Wherever the Stompa had laid enough fire to weaken the frontlines, they presented their own blades, and ran to the fore, fighting side-by-side along their equally silent allies, all the whilst vocally overwhelmed by both the chatter and blasts of Ork screeches and weaponry. In direct contrast to the Orks’ brutish ilk, the battlelines of the Space Marines were as brutal as they were thorough, the Truthlayers’ support directed from a single individual gifted the authority of leadership by Sarghaul’s own brother.

But whilst their presence allowed their blue-plated cousins reprieve from the infinite onslaught of the green tide, with their cannon fire, and their Terminator Veterans spraying fire and fury through both Reaper autocannons and Cyclone-pattern missile racks, for every foe slaughtered mercilessly, five filled in the abhorrent mockery of what the Orks may consider as ranks. All the while the Stompa, whilst now unshielded, continued to put down its hurt upon the Imperium’s most resolute warriors. From the foes perspective, undoubtedly it seemed like the tides were about to turn, and the immense wave of the Abyssal Lurkers would eventually be swayed.

Needless to say, from the frontline command site of the combined offensive, things were hardly so nefarious as to deem the assault a failure; far from it. They were simply waiting, and with the solemn reminder of their grey-green allies’ commander, Praetor Sextus, and his seerdom, the cogs would soon shift in the Lurkers’ favour once again.

“Lord Tartareus,” he spoke, shifting his blind eyes and many-eyed, visorless helm from the fore and towards the towering goliath at his side, surrounded by both the command staff of Truthlayers’ sixth chapter as well as the Lord of the Deep’s own gene-sons, “they come.”

“Then it is time we end this.” The giant motioned to the cluster of vox-operators behind him, and their encoded litanies rose to a feverish pitch. Without sparing them another glance, he strode ahead, raising a claw in summons, and the Orcus Lictors, who had encircled their position as motionless sentinels, sprang into motion in his wake. Larger shapes yet stirred ahead of them, as the hulking forms of venerand Dreadnoughts reared themselves on their segmented limbs. They were many, full two dozen held in reserve until the battle reached its apex. As they stirred from their lifeless sleep, their fragmented modulated voices rose in a chilling discordant chorus of nightmare-warped battlecries.

“SILENCE BE MADE IN AETERNUM! VOID AND ANGUISH!”

“NO VOICE, NO SOUND, NO SUN TO SHINE ON THEIR BONES!”

“OBLIVION TAKE ALL IN ITS BLACK MAW!”

“TO BATTLE I ARISE! LIFE MY PRISON, SLAUGHTER MY FREEDOM!”

“DEATH, SHOW YOUR MERCIFUL FACE!”

“IN DAMNATIO VITAE! AD ABSOLUTIONEM VACUI!”


Unprepared for the cataclysmic violence of the Ninth’s most exalted warriors, the nearest Orks well-nigh ceased to exist under their sudden assault. The Lictors’ talons and corrosive bolts rent flesh before the ancients’ immense cannons and pincers devastated armour as if it were porcelain. In their midst, Sarghaul trampled ahead like a juggernaut of war, uncaring of the shells and blades that rained onto him, and every step sent a sickening crackle of bones and agonized howls to the sky. Burning through the greenskins like a thunderfist through molten plascrete, the cuneus forged its way to the Stompa, where the Orks’ leader was straining his throat to extremes only made possible by cybernetics as he directed his troops.

The titan began to raise one of the crushing platforms that passed for its feet in order to make good on its name and stomp the approaching enemies into the ground, but the combat forelimbs of the head Flegias Dreadnought clamped onto it before it had been pulled up too far. Machine struggled with machine for a moment, the crude yet stupendously potent engineering of the Orks fighting the immemorial craft of mankind’s long-lost apogeum, before another ancient warsuit sank its claws into the foot, and another. The titan was pinned in place.

“YA WANTZ A REAL FIGHT? I’LL KRUMP YA TO PIECES!” The Stompa’s left arm, little more than an immense chainblade, swung down as if intending to slice the entire world in half. It caught a Drednought directly, even its unbreakable body proving little obstacle to the enormous weapon nearly cut it in twain. Yet, even in his final throes and the haze of a long-overdue demise claiming him, the elder held true to his duty. The sarcophagus’ arms snapped upwards, punching through the surface of the blade and crutched onto it like grim death. The choppa’s teeth whirred furiously and its supporting arm pulled and twisted, but in vain - it was caught.

As the great walker continued to rage and blindly spew its firepower, the Tartarean and his sons latched onto its base like the stubborn oceanic predators they resembled. Ponderous Asphodels sank their power claws into the rim of its armour, dragging it down with their bulk. Terminators ripped their way through the wall of steel, emerging into the depths of the machine to the surprised bellowing of Mekboys and fearful chittering of grots. The Primarch himself plunged his talons into the mechanical beast’s hide, and ripples of lightning force wracked it, tearing off joints and guns in fiery short-circuit blasts. Sextus not far behind, delivering with one swift swing two willful Boyz seeking to claim a price far out of their own reach. His movements as rapid as the electricity which cloaked Sarghaul’s claws, hastened by the mental machinations of the his own ephemeral will, culminating in what could only be described as a blur as he and his entourage took to the perimeter of the metallic beast, allowing the Lurkers to delve ever deeper into its cruel heart and dislodge it.

All of a sudden, a loud grinding sound rang out from behind the Astartes lines. Overshadowing the rows of transmitter spires and swarming sternguard reinforcements, two imposing silhouettes rose into the ash-choked sky, metal and chitin blended in a fearsome vision to rival the revelations of the Immaterium. Opis and Clymene, favoured daughters of Carcinus’ depths, had finally arrived upon the battlefield, and their sight made even the most dimly fearless greenskin gape for a moment. So vast were the creatures that it seemed patently impossible they should have an origin in any way natural. Their gnarly, segmented legs spanned the breadth of a cathedral, and it seemed that whole palaces could have found their place on their ridged, carapace-bound backs. Their pincers could have torn down century-old reefs.

But it was what they bore on imposing harnesses bound to their bodies that raised the most cries of alarm mixed with admiration from among the xenos. Though the shape of the engines marked them as Medusa siege cannons, their size far exceeded the usual emplacements found of the Imperium’s combat vehicles. Those were no mere implements of disruption and field bombardment. They were tools wrought to bring low the most titanic of foes.

For an instant, all sound disappeared and the planet was plunged into the ancestral silence of its cosmic infancy as the two monstrous guns fired in unison. Their aim, adjusted by the superhuman eyes and minds of servitors over precious minutes bought at the cost of Astartes lives, was true. Without its shield to weaken the brunt of the impact, its arms and feet pinned in place, the Stompa was all but defenceless before them. One warhead shredded through its head, shattering its flag-bearing command platform and silencing Big Mek Zapgob once and for all. The other blasted apart its right shoulder, and the deadly supa-gatler fell to the ground as an inert heap of scrap. As the colossus still staggered, the next two shots struck together into its chest, and its upper half exploded in a hurricane of torn metal. When the smoke and shrapnel cleared, the Stompa had lost about half its height, and the victorious forms of Space Marines stood where once had been the core of its consuming furnace.

From then on, the outcome of the battle was assured. The Orks still fought with reckless courage, but without a leader to direct their attack they stumbled and trampled over each other as often as they struck the enemy, and without the mighty fire support of the titan the horde had lost much of its destructive power. For their own part, the Astartes pressed their advantage wherever confusion arose, scattering the xenos and felling their contraptions. Continued fire from Clymene and Opis tore apart greenskins by the hundred. Sarghaul was once again at the head of his sons, and no Deff Dread was so sturdy as to withstand his blows. Soon, the Ork army was crumbling, broken into warbands that were grimly stamped out one by one.

The numbers of the green tide were never truly exhausted, and its strongholds and fortified scrapyards still lay ahead, but upon that world its back had at last been broken. The fate of Ullanor Quartus was sealed.
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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Lauder
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Lauder The drunk kind of hero

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The Battle of the Rok

Usriel and Prometheus


Prometheus oversaw the movement of soldiers into the broken Ork fortress, a colossal effort given the scale of movement. Tens of Thousands of Astartes warriors and millions of Imperial Army soldiers, their tanks, artillery and transports made the movement slow. It would take at least a day, probably two before the lines had been restructured with the fortress of as a hard point. The Steel Sentinels begin fortifying while spare Imperial army regiments dig trench lines into the blasted ground beyond the new fortress.

This went on for several hours before a vox from the fleet came down. Prometheus was called for by his master of fleet Lord Admiral Surov. The transmission was broken up traveling through the debris and smoke of war. “My Prim-, A --- Ork flee- has --- the moon. We --- best them b- you --- witho-t naval sup-t ---. Our --- a disadvantage. There is --- asteroid --- center of th- formation, ausp --- tator predictions have it imp- n- your current posit--”

Prometheus frowned at the vox, annoyed at the interference. He could piece the situation together but if the interference grew more serious it might leave him in the dark. The asteroid though concerned Prometheus, it could be dangerous. If it fell with enough speed it could leave his army as nothing but bloody vapor at the bottom of a crater. However, he suspected a more cunning threat. The orks could be using it as a lander, their savage cunning and… recklessness makes it a possibility.

After a short moment, Usriel came to his brother, the powerfist that had been put onto him having been unequipped after the battle. A tech-priest followed closely, speaking to the Primarch even though it did not seem that Usriel was listening to the robotic speech patterns. “Prometheus, I have received a vox, however, it is heavily broken up. I feel as if the Orks may be attempting something, especially if they might be moving with some asteroid,” he stated, the tech-priest silencing himself with a light huff after being disregarded.

Prometheus nodded, “Yes. I suspect you are right. I… believe they are doing something creative shall we say” He says while hiding the source of his concern, his psychic powers manifesting in their subtle way. “It's a landing craft… They are going to land a horde, a whole tide of the greenskins.”

Usriel remained silent for moment, thinking to himself before turning and looking at the tech-priest, “What are the possibilities of that happening?”

Silence overtook Tech-Priest Foton before reporting the odds to the Primarchs, “It is not well documented on these class of ‘ships’. If it were to be used as a landing platform then it would likely cause immense destruction to itself and be otherwise useless and inefficient as such. However, an asteroid used for planetary extermination would be more potent.” The glowing eyes of the priest looked from Usriel then to Prometheus.

“Then the odds of a bombardment are more likely. However, these xenos have been known to… defy logic,” Usriel said as he looked back to his brother.
Prometheus regarded the tech priest for a moment, “That is a reasonable conclusion” acknowledging his opinion. “However, if it was to be used as an exterminatus weapon they could not have caught our fleet by surprise. It would take time to accelerate to that velocity and if I recall the moon’s orbit correctly it would provide a poor vector for such an attack.” he says to the tech priest though more as an explanation for Usriel. “We will need to turn our front and prepare for an assault. Unlikely as it might seem..” he says to Usriel this time “We will not have long to prepare once it strikes the surface.”

“If you insist. I will have some fortifications erected alongside the front where the projected landing site is, assuming that there are any xenos. However, I will be taking command of the defenses,” Usriel stated, turning away from his brother, to look at some of his neophytes carrying equipment nearby.

“I am unsure where it will impact exactly, though we may have some warning before it does. It may be prudent to have a force prepared for rapid deployment. I will organize the Legion and Auxilia to screen while the front is solidified.” says Prometheus as he departs, starting to speak into his vox and shouting orders to officers as he passes them.

Usriel stalked into the fortress to direct his legion to prioritize defensive emplacements. While the Imperial Auxilia would be digging trenches, his soldiers would be setting up ad hoc bunkers and other hardpoints, along with the Furorems that the two companies had at their disposal. No matter how much time they had, they would make the ramshackled Ork Fortress into something that could shrug off whatever assault the greenskins would dare to throw at them.

The Imperial forces prepared themselves, but they had very little time to prepare. Before an hour had passed the infernal glow of reentry began to grow on the horizon. Not long after the Rok impacted several kilometers outside the recent battle site. The very planet seemed to shake, dust and rock erupted into the sky in a foreboding mushroom cloud. Prometheus surrounded by a reaction force voxed the exact coordinates to his own officers and Usriel. The 3rd company Knights of Awe and their attached forces launched forth to make a fighting retreat buying time for the rest of the imperial forces to organize.

The tanks and super heavies roll making a hellish fusilade of fire and death. Cleaving down thousands of orks each moment. However the orks moved as a tide absorbing the losses with ease. Slowly the ponderous gears of the Imperial army engaged, shifting their position and aligning thousands of basilisk and bombard artillery to the advancing horde. Whirlwind tanks locked in the coordinates. Prometheus voxed his officers “The Xenos are upon us! Let the ground tremble with our fury” as he finished the horizon blossomed in fire as the many guns of the imperial army created a wall of fire and shrapnel.

Prometheus voxed Usriel next “Brother, the xenos will be on you in the hour. You are The line in the sand, I will join you when the Imperial Army has finished retasking.”

“Understood. The final preparations are being set in place. Let the die upon unbreakable walls, Prometheus,” Usriel responded through the vox, as he looked over the defenses once more. Neophytes sat upon the walls with their plasma rifles trained at the horizon, with a few teams manning furorems, their full-astartes teachers watching over them and inspecting how they treated the delicate machinery. He looked back into the few spires and could see the glint of scopes, the Flares, which sat ready to pick out the savage leaders or disable whatever vehicles they might happen to have.

Meanwhile, the Imperial Auxilia sat in the trenches below in their freshly dug trenches with some of their ad hoc bunkers being fashioned out of Aegis defensive lines supplied by the Steel Sentinels, some of the company even manned these bunkers alongside the bunkers but he could still here some of the Astartes bickering about sharing them. Las cannons sat at the ready, along with the many guns of the standard soldiers. He knew that holding this fortress was going to be a long and tedious affair against the amount of Orks that may be coming their way, knowing that an asteroid’s worth of Orks was going to be a force of nature that they could only delay until reinforcements could arrive.

The Knights Astartes collected imperial forces making a steady stream of reinforcements into the Steel Sentinel defensive line. Thousands of Imperial Auxilia storm troopers fall into the trench lines interspersed with the bright white and bronze of the Knights. As the Ork encroach on the line the heavy armor slowing the advance pull away allowing the defensive line to halt the charge. The green tide charges forwarward with an enormous “WAAAGH!!!”

Usriel watched for a few moments, watching the green wave advance but not ordering for weapons to open fire, not yet. He watched as the Orks dragged out a team of tank crew members and butcher its operators and still did he not order anyone to fire. After one more moment, he gave the order, “All units, open fire! Hold until the Eagle’s death!” A synchronized wave of red lasgun fire and blue plasma fire impacted the orkish line, cutting through them like a scythe to wheat. Artillery shells rained into the green mass and fountains of the xenos blood rained upon their own savage forces, but even still did they not relent. For just as quickly as the Orks died to the volley of fire, the next one would make it close and closer.

“Furorems, fire at will,” Usriel ordered, beams of light coming from the walls of the orkish fortress and, quite literally, making the orks disappear into as or mere being cut through with little resistance. He watched from the walls as the Orks numbers dwindled and dwindled only to continue to see nothing but green behind them. Then, the Orks began to open fire on the fortifications.

A wall of bullets collided with the walls, some hitting the dirt in front of the trenches, and some still finding their marks and killing the less fortunate. That was not the worst the onslaught had to offer, however, as Orks lept from the ever closer horde with their ramshackled jump packs. These Sormboyz landed in the trenches, some even daring to land on the walls, and hacking at the closest thing to them, only to be struck down by the chains of the Knights of Awe in order to protect their human comrades or being subdued by a dutiful teacher of a Steel Sentinel Astartes. However, disruption seemed to be their plan as the quick lull in gun fire was enough to allow the Orks to get close enough to where aiming merely did not need to occur.

“Front trench, begin to evacuate. Artillery shift to cover them on section 51A-Z,” Usriel ordered, some of the artillery silencing their weapons for a short moment before reigning down in front of the trenchline, Orks charging into a hail of shrapnel and gunfire. Flames from the Knights of Awe sank into the Orks, killing some outright though others still threw themselves into the trenches.

This process repeated and repeated, with each force that manned the trenches and ad hoc bunkers pulled into the Orkish fortress that now served as their only line of defense against the horde that began to encompass them. “Das right ‘ummies! Run! Away from our dakka!” Usriel heard, his helmet shifting until he found an Ork standing atop one of the bunkers. The ork was adorned with armor and had strange weapons that seemed to defy their logic, however, a single round from a Flare tore the being in half.

“Prometheus, order your men to prepare for a counterattack. I believe one of their leaders has been killed,” Usriel stated into his vox as he watched the Orks begin closing on the trenchline closest to the fortress.

“Aye, by the Emperor we shall break them.” Prometheus replied, he turned to the generals and Astartes captains. “Now warriors, For the Emperor and the Imperium, CHARGE!” The weight of the Imperial Army and Astartes legion rolled forward with Prometheus at the head of his Terminator elites. Flamers and bolters roared their fury sweeping the Ork horde back off the fortress walls.

The true might of the Imperium followed after the trench lines had been swept clean, Wolfram, Baneblade, and Fellblade tanks carved their way through the Xenos leaving not but broken bodies and blood beneath their treads. The infantry fell in with the tanks keeping the armor clear of orks climbing into them.

The battle devolved into a grinding battle as the Imperial forces slowly fought their way towards the cratered asteroid. It was not long before the bolt shells and energy cells ran short and the battle became a bloody melee with bayonet and chain-sword. The artillery however kept pace, shelling the ork hordes into submission and thinning the strength reaching the Knights of Awe.

Then came the forces of the Steel Sentinels, Usriel at its head with his honor guard preparing groups of soldiers with their rifles pointed towards the melee. “Prometheus, disengage, the Sentinels shall finish the Orks on this day,” the Primarch stated, as the firing lines readied themselves.

The order from Usriel was broadcast across the Knights of awe forces. The Imperial army forces fell back along with the armor. The Knights of Awe hold line as the other forces withdraw. Prometheus however growls into his helmet vox as he butchers the xenos “Knights, Fall back!” switching channels broadcasting to Usriel and Strategos Gaalus. “The Phalanx and I will not. You will not shoulder this assault alone” He says with a modicum of diplomacy. Realistically, he could not bring himself to retreat, Gaalus and his honor guard would be dishonored not following his Primarch into the fires of war.

“Very well,” Usriel said with a bit of disdain in his voice before a line of plasma buried itself into the Ork lines, the plasma fire being calculated to its massive effects as the Orks fell. Once the herd was thinned, Macro Plasma Incinerators spewed their holy deliverance upon the greenskins as the Terminators as the Steel Sentinels moved past the Knights of Awe, Usriel following suit. “It was ill-advised to have stayed, Prometheus. My soldiers did not have a clear shot to the Orks in front of you,” Usriel stated with a cold disappointment.

Prometheus scoffs into the vox, “Brother, these greenskins will fall! They can not stand against us!” It was dismissive, but the orks were breaking themselves against the Knights Terminator elite. It slowed the advance, but Prometheus didn’t care. Retreating from the battle was tantamount to surrender or defeat and such things would be unbefitting a Primarch.

The assault ground on, bright with flashes of plasma and las-fire rather than flame and bolter. Orks fell in the droves and the Astartes grew ever closer to the Rok still disgorging foul Xenos. Prometheus barks orders periodically advancing artillery to keep the worst of the tide crashing on the Astartes. Armor slowly rejoined the assault after reloading and refueling, driving the orks back yet further.

Before long the Orks had been driven back around the rok and were ringed in. The rok was slowly pounded into a new crater and sterilized. It took hours before the horde was driven into and sealed within the rok, and several more until the asteroid was reduced to molten slag by the stellar fury of plasma. The whole battle Impact to the final stream of plasma took nearly a day of hard fighting. Hundreds of Astartes and thousands of mortals lay dead in the field. Many fell holding the line and of these thousands dead, a Knight who fell holding a bunker of the line was interred into a Dreadnaught.

Usriel looked over the battlefield, walking amongst the corpse ridden field outside of the fortress, each of his steps crushing an orkoid that had died hours earlier. He could see their green bodies being hauled into piles for future incineration, but the issue was seeing the bodies of Astartes, Knights and Sentinels alike, seeing some of his Neophytes being carted away. It was a sight he was all too used to, a sight that he knew would continue to plague him so long as he served the Imperium. It was a necessary reality, unavoidable so long as the xenos continued to threaten the likes of humanity. At least on this planet, the Primarch knew that they were able to contain the threat of Orks and now it was only a matter of time until the crusade in Ullanor finished.
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Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Archetype Zero
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Archetype Zero 𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕾𝖍𝖆𝖙𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖊𝖉 𝕺𝖓𝖊

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(Collab: Archetype Zero, Terminal, Ora (Orks))

Ullanor Prime

Amidst space, the Absolute and her fleet’s macrocannons laid out their most brutish of cannon rounds upon their destined foe, those who disgrace the Imperium with their joke nation, they who crave ruination under Urlakk Urg’s employ. Due to the absence of their strict overseer, those whose otherwise monotonous task consisting exclusively of the harsh labour of loading and maintaining the cannon, were given a sense of reprieve from the standard procedures; graffiti and individualization of shells becoming mainstay as the barrage simply continued, and the dominant eyes of their Primarch was destined further and further from them..

Unbeknownst to the rabble, those told nothing of neither plan nor purpose beyond service, those of the Truthlayers and their supporting Mechanicum allies were primed and readied for the coming sequence. The foremost of them, repeatedly going over their battleplans, coordination, and pre-planning with vicious efficiency. All the whilst their droppods remained eerily silent to those servicemen of the Imperial Navy unfortunate enough to remain on station to drop the pods, venturing the crosswalks.

The bombardment had began and continued to rain down upon the Spire, whatever rudimentary defenses the Orks could have mustered in response having been adequately overpowered and suppressed, if not outright obliterated. The Truthlayers who once spoke indecipherably across the comms, quickly being silenced.The weight of the shells and the punishment they would enforce upon the land sufficient to mold the landscape like a mastersmith mends their iron, were it not for their despicable shield. Certainly, however, their expulsion truly shook the ship’s interior, and echoed through its many halls.

In the foes’ favour, a single powerful make-shift reactor inconceivable to all but the most brutish minds as to its function, and the shield it somehow erected around the spire’s immediate compound; a vast, brutish civilization protected only by the momentary mercy of the fleets’ calculated bombardments.

Little did they know that the bombardment they suffered was meticulously coordinated pre-arrival, saturate the shield, and utilize whatever openings were present for orbital insertion. It was no simple task, and death a likely outcome; but Veritas knew it all too well. There were those who would die, and those who would, will be replaced. Those were his solemn thoughts as he ended his recollection from within the iron tomb he found himself strapped into; destined only to descend, alone, into the Spire’s most populated district. Forced to fend for his own, due to the machine’s inexplicable malfunction midflight. Survival demanding a miracle on his end.

A miracle, most would think, was so distant, but he saw it differently, and more as a given. From within his own drop pod which, through time, would see its use repeated time and time again. Into immemorium.

But all thoughts were silenced, even his own silent ones, as the alarm rang for the second time, and the ship shook viciously against the void. The Drop Pod’s thrusters fired off as the sling arms within the compartment propelled it kinetically into a descending orbit.

Everyone had already been told, no reason to reiterate. All that was left now was duty, and purpose. A new claim, in the Emperor’s name, would shine. An golden talon shall soon hold within its palm another great world for humanity’s destiny to be imparted.

Against the void, there was little noise. Amongst the Truthlayers, all was silent. But the Drop pods rumbled furiously, as they fought their way into their typically aggressive descent. Only periodic reports and confirmations relayed over vox-channels fought the silence of the drop - interspersed by the white noise of static. The Truthlayers knew that under the white noise, their Mechanicum allies communicated amongst each other in techna linguis, their sacred and dogmatic language, as fast as their cogitators were able to handle. During other operations, which Veritas himself did not oversee, the same devotees of the Emperor may well have insisted on a secondary vox-channel solely for the purpose of litanies performed in Cant Mechanicum for the ‘betterment’ of unenlightened Adepts who did not worship the Omnissiah, who might have had no better means of placating Machine Spirits other than parroted canticles - a practice that was abandoned here and now, with those forces having subjugated themselves to Veritas - for as a Son of the Omnissiah, not only was it expected he would be obeyed without question, but to perform BEYOND his instruction was likewise unthinkable.

More than anything else, that was perhaps the core of the common bond between the Truthlayers and the Stargazers: Both held utter, complete, and unwavering faith in the inviolate authority of the Primarch.




The bombardment from Veritas’ assembled armada hammered at the zapp-shields of Warlord Urlakk Urg’s spire in coordinated, staggered waves - precalculated to weaken and dissipate the shield layer in a predictable fashion upon the final salvo. The Ork hordes dwelling within the confines of their massive fortress city shrouded in the dome of writhing WAAAAAGH energies chortled and laughed at the pathetic Hummies’ attempts to bust up the shield - an expanse of cheer that was abruptly abolished when the sky alit with flame, the whole horizon flaring as if a new start had been borne above the city as the Primarch’s fleet unleashed its final, coordinate strike. Countless macrocannon rounds slammed into the sparking barrier, causing equally countless arcs of snapping power to surge with a blinding radiance - and then a split moment later, sections of the shield popped like a bulb breaking, faint filaments and showers of sparking power raining down atop the fortress settlement in the wake of dozens of macrocannon shells.

The bombardment strikes that had managed to penetrate the shield, either by intent or inadvertent good fortune, blossomed into fiery detonations on impact that sent entire ramshackle Orkish blocks and shacks flying through the air, disintegrating and tearing themselves into debris as they went to scatter all across the city.

Just as the glare from the bombardment strikes died down, then came the Steel Rain.

The assault was far too rapid for the already inaccurate and sluggish Ork defenses to track or attempt to intercept. The only drop pods that pierced down from the armada above that did not make contact were the few which struck the edges of the Orkish Zapp-Shield, disintegrating into concentrated hail-streams of flash-boiled metal. The vast majority of the pods, however, impacted the designated bombardment zones, cratering the already devastated fields of debris. Some, fired at on a parabolic arc, crested right beneath the lip of the weakened shield dome to arc over the length of the spire complex and touch down further out from the main cluster of pods. Only a scant handful of seconds had passed between the coordinated final salvo of Veritas’ armada and the touch-down of the pods - where previously had stood a massive, sprawling, multi-layered industrial slum of Orkish shacks, motor pools, and barracks, there was now simply mangled, jagged metal, split and sundered and buried in the earth like discarded daggers abreast the lip of the bombardment site - and elsewise, there was only swirling haze and smoke. It was as if a city-buster warhead had been dropped through every individual breach in the settlement’s overhead shield, cleansing each zone of any and every ramshackle structure and blowing away every living thing in range like dust in the wind.

There was no respite to be found between the drop pods’ fall and the disgorging of their lethal occupants. All across the spire complex, armored blast-sections slammed down into the abused earth - and like vengeful warrior angels, the Astartes of the Truthlayers and the Stargazers swept through the whirling clouds of pulverized metal and earth, immediately forming up into organized squads. Formations of cybernetic warriors clad in Martian-red robes and bearing the insignia of the 12th Legion swept out and around the Marines, guided by Tech-Priests drifting overhead by the grace of Abeyant harnesses. Maniples of towering, Martian-Red automata - Kastelan robots - surrounded the formations at regular intervals, their powerful Repulsor fields shielding the assembling Tachmata and Marine Squads from any opening salvos - of which there were few. For as irrepressible and eager to leap into the jaws of death as Orks generally were, and despite the echoing and furious cry of WAAAAAGH that filled the air from every side at each drop-site, most of the Orkish bands nearest the edges of the impact craters for the initial bombardment died the instant they ascended the ridge. For at the outermost fringes of each crater were the custom drop-pods fielded by the Skitarii of the Stargazers legion, from which had emerged their famously potent Onager Dunecrawlers, accompanied in turn by Sicarian Killclades. Their mounted eradication beamers swept thin yellow rays of power across the crest of the bombardment zone, and any material thing that entered those seething and dim yellow patches of light was atomized instantly. The few volleys of fire and munitions that managed to evade the scouring light was either deflected or incinerated by the Emanatus force shielding around each of the mighty machines - and the fewer still that passed between those fields found themselves intercepted by the stalwart Kastalan Repulsors.

A ways North of the base of the spire itself, the rapidly swirling and heated dust of the impact zone abruptly stirred as a harsh and violent crackling tone cut through the air. With a yawning crescendo, a wave of static ran from the epicenter of the crater, carrying the dust and smoke away with it like a great stormwall. At the center of the assembled forces, five squads of twenty Electro Priests each had assembled into a pentagram Maniple formation, facing in five directions and chanting litanies in Cant Mechanicum as their commanders recited Canticles of Command, Duty, and Annihilation. The whole battlefield resonated with their hymns, projected from servo skulls and auger-probes mounted with vox-speakers, their rapturous voices both stirring the faithful to action while condemning all opposition to slaughter and obliteration.

Standing at the core of the formation atop a pedestal-dais configuration Abeyant, Artisan Malagra Veneratus Prime Numilus Grirkov - agent of the Prefecture Magisterium amongst the Stargazers Legion and commander of the Corpuscarii amongst them - beheld the majesty of his assembled choir of the Omnissiah’s holiest, most peerless, and purest warriors evoked the Motive Force from the savage and beaten surface of Ullanor Prime, fields of dazzling static energies popping and sparking with cascading showers of embers and light surrounding them as their capacitors charged and their sermons grew in fervor and intensity.

“CHOSEN WARRIORS OF HUMANITY!” His bombastic voice shuddered through hundreds of vox-speakers about the site all at once. ”THE OMNISSIAH HAS DECREED THE MINDS AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE XENOS TO BE PERVERSION! FOR THE IMMACULATE GLORY OF THE MACHINE GOD, THE ISSUE AND SPORE OF THE ALIEN HERE ARE TO BE CLEANSED!”

As he neared the end of his declaration, the Magos leveled his oversized Voltaic Blaster southward, aiming towards the Ork Warlord’s tower.

”CHARGE!” As he uttered the imperative, he fired the weapon, its crackling energies sailing overhead and illuminating the direction of the advance.

Behind him, the misguided drop pod of the Truthlayers’ Primarch’s support element finally opened its thick doors, and slammed against the earth with weight immense enough to displace the already weakened earth around its flowery figure. From within, only two advanced from the clearly dysfunctional interior, an unfortunate shell impact the only answer as to its now stranded position. Of the two, one spoke firstly, towards the venerable servant of the Omnissiah, “Allow us to assist you in your advance.” The Malagra would no doubt be capable of immediately identifying them with the assistance of his integral cogitators - they were the master of the Third Legion’s champion and his personal apothecary, no doubt seeking a rendezvous with the distant, and isolated pod which had descended far to their front.

“Dominus Achaelon and Apothecaris Sevyristus!” The bombastic Maester called down to them before maneuvering his Abeyant dais to drift over and settle on the ground before them. “By what design are you made to have landed all the way over here? I had believed you would accompany the holy son of the Omnissiah into battle.”

All about the trio, the assembled formations had already begun to advance. The Space Marine Squads all implacably striding out to spearhead the cone of the advance, while the Skitarii Legion, supported by the Kastalen Maniples and their devastating Onagers, charged forward to immediately bring the bulk of the battle to the Orks. Three of the Electro Priest Squads from the center of the formation advanced as well, still singing litanies and prayers as they went, the air seeming to singe as their capacitors tore the motive force from it where they passed. Only two of their squads remained behind, immediately moving to provide cover around the Maester and the two displaced Marines - likely in accordance with neuro-synced orders directly from Grirkov himself. Their cants softened and lowered in volume as they approached, giving way to the exchange between the three individuals they surrounded.

“Malagra, the despicable will of Ork iron dislodged our course,” the apothecary reciprocated as his brother, Achaelon, took a more readied posture clearly intent on a hasteful advance of his own. “It is known, however.” Sevyristus added, as he raised his own power axe briefly towards the northern expanse beyond the crater. “The Lord Primarch is doubtlessly delivering death far closer to the Spire base.”

“Doubtlessly, and approaching proximity to the Omnissiah himself no doubt! It would be my privilege and honor to see you two to the side of the Primarch once more, Lord Astartes!” Grirkov announced. “Permit my Electro Priests to attend your flanks, their Voltageist fields will shield you from the foul munitions of the Xenos! Attune the frequency of your vox-systems to my channel, we will establish communications with the remainder of the third Legion!” With that, Grirkov’s Abeyant Dais rose from the ground once more and began to convey him towards the frontline - one of the squads of Electro Priests, their chants now renascent, fell into procession beneath him. The sole remaining squad bifurcated, its members forming into two columns flanking each of the Astartes - still murmuring quiet, zealous prayers. The two Marines’ sensors reported immense amounts of ambient static snapping across the surface of their armor - harmless but omnipresent.

It was not the first time that this sensation snapped across their sensors, for both of these warriors had known war along the ranks of the Mechanicum in wars long past and destinies since fulfilled. As the two stepped forwards, towards the crater’s end, they readied their armaments as the apothecary spoke his last words of acknowledgement towards the Malagra so venerably dutiful as to shift his own battlelines in their favour. “Malagra, you are wise. But I would be unwise to disturb the foresightful concentration of either the Praetor Supreme or the Lord Primarch.” His voice mellowed briefly, before it continued as he crested the crater alongside his compatriots, “Me and my brother are destined towards our Lord, but we are so in silent service.”

“As you say, Lord Astartes. If it is the will of the son of the Omnissiah, it shall be observed!” Came Grirkov’s reply through their vox-receivers. “I shall do the best I can to direct us to our fated rendezvous using only aggregate telemetry.” A statement whose reciprocation was merely a dual nod from each of the third legion’s Ancients, already in-tune with the hymns of war.

Grirkov then proceeded to lead the two Astartes across the battlefield from atop his floating Abeyant platform, and they fought their way ever closer to the base of the Ork Warlord’s spire. With the amassed vanguard of the main landing party that had already advanced ahead of them, they were left to deal with Orks and swarms of Gretchin erupting from underground tunnels to flank the forward lines, or else small packs of Orkish Deff Dreads and Killa Kans that had managed to break through. The sprawl of multilayered Orkish architecture was battered and sundered wherever the party went; towers of jagged steel collapsed upon one another, barracks ruptured from the ceiling out to create ragged labyrinths, and tangled lengths of primitive and possibly entirely nonfunctional pipework creating a shattered forest of metal.

The Electropriests accompanying Grirkov and the two Astartes continuously moved in tried and true battle patterns. The Fulgerites would stride in advance of the others, grounding their staves into the ground and amplifying their Voltagheist shielding with shouted battle-prayers and litanies, causing Ork munitions- already inaccurate to begin with - flying off in every direction, sent awry as they came into contact with the voltaic shields and were arc-shocked with electro-kinetic blasts of energy. Then the Corpuscarii, covering their faces with crossed arms in devout signage, would advance and let loose a barrage of ruinous lightning from their gauntlets that would chain between the various metal structures and Ork combatants like a crossfire hailstorm, bolts of energy often tearing straight through and leaving cauterized or glassy holes in combatants and armor alike. And then, again, the Fulgerites would step forward with softer hymns and canticles, striking the riven bodies with the ends of their staves and siphoning off the motive force of the slain xenos and their artifice.

Grirkov himself seemed to serve a trifold role of scout, bannerman, and bulwark for the group. Standing perched high above the rest of his Abeyant, he had the best view of the battlefield and served as a convenient point of convergence and networking for the multitude of servo skulls and auspex readings. Often he would call out the approach of the enemy or warn of breaches in the forward lines, or direct the Corpuscarii and the Astartes down alternate routes through the heap of ruined Orkish architecture. And then, of course, through simple dint of the fact that he in turn was visible from furthest afield, he would inevitably bear the brunt of the Orks’ opening salvos and volleys, the reinforced shielding of his Abeyant Dais and his own voltagheist field casting aside all manner of Ork projectiles, from bolts to Zapp Kannon strikes. All the while he would cry and shout in bellowing roars, his words reverberating from dozens of servo-skull mounted vox-speakers, screaming condemnations and belittlement at the enemy whilst chanting to raise the fervor and enthusiasm of the faithful.

With the aid of Grirkov’s machine-enhanced intellect, the Astartes allowed themselves to be moved and directed as the battlefield necessitated; leaving neither grunt nor displeasure in their wake. Achaelon’s silent fury rained far and encompassing, as his Reaper autocannon lay waste to anything which managed to survive even the Mechanicus’ elaborate battle strata with frigidly cold ease. Each round enough to shatter even an Ork’s enhanced physiology. All the whilst Sevyristus felled many of the Gretchin and exceedingly sneaky Orkz who would crawl between the debris left in the group’s advanced through the orderly chaos, leaving their wretched efforts null and void. Through no words of their own, the two Astartes would deal with the slow-approaching horde of the fell-green ones to the rear, whilst Grirkov would ensure their rapid, and potent, advance to continue.




The Orkish ‘hiveworld’ remained a mockery to everything mankind stood for, and prided itself in accomplishing. A maze of shack, steel, and discarded technology, some of which should never have surfaced in the system of Ullanor had proper procedure persisted.

An observation made from a single being’s perspective who, akin to the one who he is immediately subservient, saw all.

The drop pod might have seemed to derail from its designed course, but not to him. As the doors opened, and crushed beneath it a horde of gretchin trying their utmost to unearth the strange sarcophagi’s contents, a single slash was delivered from its innards. A slow slice, one who should have no expectation of letting blood, but one which did, and did so immensely. A swathe felled with a single motion, and a single step in accordance revealed the one who had yet to enter the field. The master of the Third Legion, the light which the Truthlayers followed. Truth.

As the blighted sun of this abominable system laid its own light-fleshed tendrils across his face, the Orks were met, in their stupor and surprise, by a face which lacked much. An uniconic figure, made special by only his size and immensity, and the eyes which with he sees the world which is and isn’t yet to be, but soon will be.

“I have arrived,” he spoke without tonation, without excitement nor anger, without anything but a voice. The destiny of his transmission for none to know but him, and the one who knows all. His father, the Emperor of Mankind. “The Spire festers, my Lord Emperor, and the Serpent who slithers shall soon reveal itself.”

The Orks, now rallied from the surprise of a large foe at their doorsteps, went into a ragged frenzy, directed only by those stronger than they next to them. A seemingly random assortment of hierarchy formed under Veritas’ presence, as the boltas soon ferried rounds untold upon his location submerged within a moderate crater surrounded on all sides from now encroaching berserkers.

His eye shone, as bright and as translucent as the Sun which ruled the Ullanor System. With it, he saw his path, as he walked forward, destined for something none who were here could see. The boltas’ fire and fury, as numerous as the stars, did not touch him, as he walked his steady and ponderous pace, each heavy enough to disturb the hardened earth below him. His form would seem phantasmal as each coming wave of fire would invariably miss him, as if he walked a path removed from the material. He walked through a storm, unharmed, and as the Orks closed in for their choppas, he moved his arms slowly, and callously, as he rent the hearts and innards of those who dared encroach with a slice delivered by his sword as if destiny itself demanded the Orks’ death.

But Orks were not bred equally, amongst them, there were some who realized the potency of the Primarch’s swings, and awaited the moment where he would over-extend himself, something easily done when wielding nothing but a sword, and in one hand. No matter how mighty it be, it cannot help when it cannot deliver a killing blow. Having now seen the horde’s immediate combatants slain, they bolted against the Primarch with inhuman speed, possible only due to the Orks’ enhanced physiology. With leaps and sprints, they aimed at the Primarch’s side with their varied assortment of close-combat weapons, but their vision was soon blackened.

The Primarch saw them, even if he did not look, he knew. Whilst his sword was indeed beyond the limit with which he could immediately deny them their chance, his remaining arm was not. And as such, in synchronous motion, a hand most malicious grabbed onto the first amongst the veteran Nobz by the head, and ferried him into brutal collision with his peers, their innards collapsing under the mounting force of each subsequent impact until the Primarch at last lifted his monolithic grasp, allowing the now-grown pile to fall against the dirt. He raised his foot, and brought down his imperial heel upon them, crushing them underneath the infinite weight of the future which stands upon his shoulders. Leaving their blood to pave a most crimson road towards the spire’s approaching courtyard for him to follow.

All the whilst, the hymnic command of the Praetor Ultimatum filled his ears as the forces behind his present position were orderly coordinated by both the Third and Twelfth Legions. The many dropsites had organized under a unified structure, and were now pressing forth towards him. It was a worthy song, he mused briefly, without much intent beyond his own advancement towards the Spire’s complex in mind. It was merely to be expected of the Imperium’s finest, to match his own advance, and play their roles according to the great plan of the cosmic board.

He saw them, not now, but soon, at his side, bringing death upon a most heinous foe, and the imperial aura of the most profound would fall upon the world and bring ruin unto yet another evil empire, in accordance with his own vow to the Emperor of Mankind. The Orks would crumble, but not now, soon. All he could see now, were a sea of green, and flood of red which would soon follow. Not merely by his own hand, but equal amounts those below him.

Whilst he could not defeat this army alone, he could occupy it. In accordance with the truth which had presented itself before his eye most ethereal, and he would do so under the purview of his eye most material. An eye which glowed red and consisted of machine-make most intricate, an eye which allowed him to walk in two worlds.

Continuing to advance, his personal assault far too unexpected to be expected by the Orks and warrant the deployment of any form of Orkish machination beyond what they typically carry. But they would come. It would matter little, as they who followed in his wake would link with his own stride in perfect accordance with the arrival of machinations neither profound nor sophisticated, yet given life by the cosmic will. His thoughts were neither occupied or disturbed, mere Orks could not possibly accomplish such feats, as he felled many more with each step, with sword and hand, his ambidextrous onslaught yet unimpeded, a perimeter around him formed as he laid swift death upon all foes to his every side. His steps slowed only because they were meant to be by the Truth he served. The Good Destiny demanded it, for in his slowness, the haste of the Imperial forces across the planet would link up in perfect accordance with the primordial will which grants the Imperium of Man its ultimate victory.




“Grwah! More at ‘im! More dakka! More krumpin’!”

As many of them as may have been cut down by infallible blows, the greenskins continued to pour forth from their fortress, jumping and tripping over each other in their eagerness to reach the front line. Most did not so much as ask themselves the question of whether they were doing anything useful - the thought of getting into a fight was enough. They were Orks, and they were made for fighting and winning, so what else was there to think about?

Some, however, were blessed with the occasional moment of clarity in their dim skulls.

“Oi, boss!” a squat Ork wearing a looted helmet that had been cracked open to fit on his head over a pair of filthy goggles elbowed the massive Nob near him, “Ya see that dis ain’t workin’?”

“Ghrghm? Wuzzat?” The metal-jawed brute turned his head to get the smaller smartboy, the creaking of his rusty cybork hinges almost as ominous as his annoyed growl.

“We just ain’t hittin’ dat git! How’z we gonna krump ‘im if we can’t hits ‘im?”

“Hrrm.” The Nob scratched his head with an oversized power klaw, miraculously not slicing off his one remaining ear in the process. After a few moments of contemplation, his non-mechanical eye lit up with realisation. “Then we just brings more dakka! When we can’t hit sumfin’, it’z dat we ain’t got ‘nuff dakka!”

“Dat’s right,” the smartboy continued, scrubbing the least cracked of his goggle lenses and squinting at the battlefield through it. It did not seem to occur to him that he would have had an easier time seeing without the goggles altogether. “But da boyz ain’t got ‘nuff dakka. We’z gonna need to get Boss Gharog with ‘iz real big shoota.”

“So get ‘im! Why da zog ain’t he ‘ere already, anywuyz?”

“Beats me. Ya runts, go fetch ‘im!”

The pack of gretchin clustered at the two Orks’ feet, who were doing their best to look important and avoid being sent into the battle raging below, were scattered with a kick and sent scampering into the awning door of a nearby hangar. A minute and some loud bangs later, a considerably smaller number of them crawled back out.

“Well?”

“‘E’z sleepin’, boss,” the lead grot jabbed a finger back at the door, “Blasted off half’a us when we poked ‘im.”

“Dat lazy git gonna sleep through half the fights he been in,” the Nob grumbled, “Ya go get ‘im, Gutrip!”

“Aye, aye, send me to do a grot’z work, will ya,” the smartboy grunted in return, but off he shuffled.

The inside of the hangar was dank, unlit, smelling of rust and spilled oil and full of assorted scrap, but none of that troubled the huge green mound that lay in a hammock at the far end of the chamber, snoring as loud as a battlewagon engine. Gutrip trudged up through the piles of garbage, cursing as he stumbled over scattered wrenches and cogs, and gave the mound a shove, reflexively ducking as he did. This saved him from the wild discharge of bullets fired by the still sleeping Ork directly over his head.

Another shove, and a huge tusked head finally rose from the bundle of rags that filled the hammock. Gharog tore his bloodshot eyes open, drops of caked grime falling from their corners, and snarled an unwelcoming “Well, wodya got?”

“Dere’s a git out dere,” Gutrip pointed over his shoulder, “we needs more dakka to get ‘im.”

“And I’z da only one of ya zogging sorry lot as gots that much, I gets it.” With a malodorous yawn, Gharog tumbled out of his hammock. When he picked himself up, his arms had disappeared under two metallic contraptions of stupendous size. They could, with a stretch of intuition, have been called guns, but that would have been as grossly inaccurate as naming an Ordinatus tank a buggy. They were impossible machines of war and death, with a dozen throats large enough to lay waste to the most imposing of tanks and a multitude of smaller barrels all around. It was not clear how Gharog even managed to stand upright under their weight, but the huge Ork loped over to the door as if lugging around these monstrosities had been the habit of a lifetime.

“Well, iz ‘e koming or wo-”

The Nob’s words were drowned out by a savage roar that rolled out of the hangar and over the field, giving momentary pause to every greenskin around. Murmurs of “Aw zog, it’s Gharog!” immediately spread through the horde, and for the first time since the battle had been joined, the Orks began to move in a direction that was not straight ahead. They were clearing a path.

Those that had scrambled first were the lucky ones. No sooner had the roar faded that a whirring and rumbling rose, and the engines built into the two gigantic shootas flared to life. The vents on top of the barrels spat tongues of flame. Gharog shouted again, and this time he did not stop as rivers of scalding lead poured out of every orifice on his guns. The heads on a couple of grots popped like ripe fruit from the sheer cacophony of howling, buzzing, burning and firing. With a superhuman effort, the Boss Shoota tightened the aim of his weapons, and an uncountable number of slugs of all shapes and sizes converged onto Veritas.

“Now ya see,” the Nob shouted into Ripgut’s ear. Both of them having dropped facefirst to the ground as the storm of fire and metal raged over them. “Dat’s wot I call real dakka!”




No sooner did the hangar flare up into a hailstorm of fangs and horrors, than did Veritas’ foresight reveal the task which needed to be accomplished. Having already tossed the upper torso of a yet-struggling Nob directing at the Boss Shootas now obvious position, its flailing and bloodthirst would at least grant him moderate reprieve whilst the gun-monster shattered its corpse to pieces. Whilst under normal gunfire he would be able to move freely and with ease to avoid the meddlesome disturbance which ammunition posed itself as, there was always one step which proved too much. But this step was also foreseen; immediately as he had tossed the flailing Ork at its soon-awoken superior, thanks solely to the gene-physique of his own equally monstrous body, Veritas had already followed the fleeing Orks in their vain attempt to make way for Gharog’s indiscriminate massacre.

It seemed a hopeless maneuver, for the now lead-excrementing Ork Boss, as Gharog shifted his stance in accordance with the Primarch’s movements, fire and fury unceasingly flying any which way in a cloud of death thicker than a Gargant’s plate. But there was yet distance between them, and mass to receive mass. Whilst one Ork could easily be penetrated by the Great Shoota’s powerful weapons, hundreds yet stood in the way between their fateful duel. Metal upon metal, all haphazard and scrapyardish, brandished across the torsos and heads of many of Gharog’s lessers, disappointingly splintered the Boss Shoota’s dakka over the many Orks it penetrated with brutish fervour. Producing clouds of red and fiery explosions at scales far more comparable to war-engines than any ordinary Ork. But naturally, Gharog was no such ordinary Ork. From the more potent heavy-cannons linked into his abominable amalgam, vast swathes of Boyz exploded into vicious infernoes of fire and flesh, the superdakkas explosive potency sending yet more of the already scattering horde aloft and agasp. Frenzy and chaos ensued, far greater than any which had preceded it during the Primarch’s solemn assault, but one which proved itself useful to Truth’s purposes.

For whilst the Ork’s cacophony of death still rang loud, it’s monstrous tunes were out of harmony, for as powerful as a gun is, it always, invariably, retains one weakness. Hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of rounds blared through the inferno, the dakka indisputably insurmountable to any mortal being. Their destructive potency so immense that the dust culminated and grew into clouds, and soon into a sea of disrupted vision, growing more crimson with every round unleashed from the furnaces of death adjoined to the Boss Shoota’s two arms.

“WRAAAARGH!” The Ork’s bellowing finally found a minimum of cohesion, morphing from disconnected bestial sounds to something approximating a battlecry, and then even individual words. “IZ ‘E STILL IN DA SAME PLACE? I CAN’T SEE FOR ZOG!”

After a few moments of uninterrupted gunfire, an adventurous boy poked his head out of a heap of corpses and looked around to gain his bearings. “‘Old on, I finks ‘e iz-”

A phantom presented itself from within the mist, appearing from nothingness only to deliver swift death upon yet another innumerable foe. The boy was swiftly beheaded, the helm of which he wielded soon to prove itself useful as the force from the Sword of Damocles brought it skybound. With yet another solemn grasp, the head and its adjoined helmet were tossed with immense force at the Gharog’s cannons from within the cover of the cloud, the Ork quickly redirecting his hailstorm.

But it not rapidly enough. For as the head lodged itself within the largest of Gharog’s many cannons, the collision between his shells and the still-conscious Ork head’s screeching had an explosive result. Mimicking the effects of a concentrated melta-bomb. Needless to say, Veritas now began to close some proper distance between him and the hereto greatest foe.

He had utilized an extravagant angle, from within the blinding dust, to attack the Ork beast from its side, now undergoing a most cataclysmic malfunction within Gharog’s undoubtedly handmade scrappy machination. And of course, with his eyes, Veritas was never blinded. For as he closed the distance between him and a fervently roaring Gharog, made momentarily inert by the sudden eruption of his left weapon-arm into a veritable volcano of ammunition discharge, his eyes were those of clarity of purpose, an intent supernatural in its nigh malleable texture clearly interwoven with his every step. He needed little, for as his now rapid steps carried him across a few hundred feet within moments, his sword was poised for the final stroke of the initial phase of the Spire assault.

It was an anticlimactic end to an ordinarily great enemy. Its silencing almost making mockery of what ordinarily would have held entire cadres of regular Astartes legionaries at bay. But it was an end which Veritas had seen the moment he had laid eyes upon the field. For as the Sword of Damocles finally brought down its impending doom across the pointlessly reinforced neck of the Ork Boss, his own hand was already poised to toss the soon-to-be corpse aside and to the ground. It’s vainglory at last stifled and shattered.

Another step was then taken, Veritas looking upon the now scattered Ork resistance, and before him he saw nothing but an infinite tower reaching far beyond what the eye could perceive, a great gate which soon an even greater foe would emerge. And at the same time, he saw a clear sky; void of tower nor resistance, a great calm, soon roiled into future conflicts to come.

There were some amongst the Orks who yet had fighting fervour, and as they roared at him, with his monolithic grasp, he crumpled limbs, shattered heads, and rendered death indiscriminately. With the Boss Shoota vanquished, the ramshackle and uncoordinated fire of the shootas that remained proved inconsequential.

Within his ears he heard the expected voice of the Praetor Ultimatum, equally as calm, and equally as uncaring as his own: “Approach the Courtyard.”
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Depths of Laeran


Silence.

The cold stillness of the depths enveloped the sparse ranks of armoured figures as they marched, with slow, soundless steps, over the pale sand of the ocean’s underbelly. Towering as they might have been among men, they would have appeared minuscule to an onlooker then, faded spectres lost in the writhing darkness. No lights pierced the murk to herald their movements, no blinking electronic eyes. Like creatures of the abyss, they saw through the watery shroud around them, smelled and tasted through it, found meaning in the whispering of its waves and surges.

Like denizens of the deep they appeared, too, strange and manifold in shape. Dark-garbed wraiths, faceless in their visors, bristling with claws, spines, curiously shaped chain-blades, strode alongside imposing colossi of mechanical plating, husks so massive that it could have been difficult to believe a single body, however superhuman, could don them as mere armour. Their sunken heads, looming spinal carapace and rounded, spike-studded pauldrons made them seem malformed, horrid stalkers of the seafloor, hunched like ghouls and incrusted with fanged teratomas, yet they scarcely were out of place in the shadowy procession.

For among them, between the outlandishly armed legionaries and the tremendous Scyllas, crawled beings more inhuman still. They dragged ahead on crooked, segmented legs, oceanic shapes grown hideously out of proportion, cannons and torpedo batteries sprouting from their backs like strange parasites. They glacially forged ahead as massive metallic simulacra of creeping life, raising clouds of sand with every stomp of an armoured foot, driven by the maddened will of undying warriors. They covered the seafloor like a plague of flesh, dragging themselves forward with hooked claws and pushing off in weightless leaps with hard-shelled limbs.

Ahead of them, blurred through the masses of water even to the piercing eyes of those who still had any, lay an impossible city. It stood, enduring, under the crushing weight of the global ocean, yet it clearly had not always been that way. Not with those spires, or those slithering domes that could not have been built by human hands. Like a corpse exhumed and brought back to unnatural life, its dry bones covered anew with flesh, it seemed as if a drowned relic had been reinforced and revitalised with alien ingenuity, no longer rusting and crumbling but once more teeming with life.

That was not to last, Morrek thought as he readied his bolter and motioned for part of his unit to break off to the right. Not for one day more.

Though he knew as well as any that distances in deeps could be deceptive, the outer sprawl of the city seemed close enough now, narrowly within reach. By his reckoning, his force was still safely outside the range of any precise spotting system, but the fact that he knew too little about these xeno beasts still gnawed at him, as it had from the outset of that expedition. They could cast their senses impossibly far, that much was clear, but how far exactly? Such questions might have sounded like minutiae, but in combat they were far more crucial than whatever insight into the breeding of those things the Fleshweavers had pried from the few bodies available to them.

They have their duty, and I have mine. No more time for reflection. If the enemy’s augmented eyes really were so prodigious, advancing any further was a pointless risk. He silenced all thoughts but the litany of the consensus. There is no I. Only duty.

Morrek raised a hand and lowered it in a slicing motion. Fire.

From the backs of crawling beasts, from heavy steel throats mounted on ancient sarcophagi or carried by entire Devastator squads, missiles whirred to life and shot out in eruptions of tempestuous currents. Their rippling trails streaked towards the buildings ahead, twisting and interweaving before crashing into their targets. The blasts were difficult to see, though the surreal flaming lights of phosphex blazed to life on some of the peripheral structures.

The enemy had indeed been caught by surprise. Serpentine shapes swarmed out of distant awning doors, rushing between the impact points like a disturbed nest of wasps. Groups of them split off to meet the advancing Lurkers as they emerged from the turmoil of sand and shadow, and soon beams of bright green energy cut through the water, answered by salvoes of gas-propelled bolts. Bodies on both sides were ripped apart and left drifting, spreading clouds of augmented ichor. None shed true blood.

Though momentarily disoriented, the Laer were more numerous, and their fire struck true. This does not matter. As long as the splinter group was able to get in position, the current odds were inconsequential.

Morrek’s vox-captor thrummed, more vibration than sound, once, twice, thrice. That was the signal. The beacon had been planted, close enough to the designated point.

Soon, the true assault would begin. Hopefully his Lions counterpart Maurinius also met with success.

Legate Maurinius chose a far more direct approach as swarms of modified boarding torpedoes crashed against the ocean. Working like improvised submersibles the torpedoes speedily descended down to the depths, outrunning any chasers. No Laer could swim as fast these sinking hunks of metal. The first phase of Operation Steel Rain was a resounding success.

Once at sufficient depth the torpedoes assumed formation, ready to take on the Laer counterattack. Being mere boarding torpedoes the craft had little defenses but rather they held a hidden ace, Terminators. Wearing the unique Saturnyne-pattern armour modified for aquatic assaults, these heavier than normal Terminators were anchored to the torpedoes’ hull during transit but now they are let loose. A number of torpedoes split off early, taking on their role as scouts and advance guards. Housed within the lead torpedo Legate Maurinius Acciai listened to the non-stop feed of Vox reports. One of the scouts was already lost, them being surrounded and then choosing to go down in blazing glory. Even if used like makeshift submersibles, a boarding torpedo is still a torpedo.

The Legate intently watched the craft’s Auger. One ping, two rapid pings, one ping. That was the signal. He ordered a strike team of 6 torpedo craft to back up the 1012th Squad immediately. As soon as their departure was covered he ordered the rest of the Aquatic Taskforce to form up in a circle. They took up defensive formation using the thick hull of the torpedoes like fortifications. Subsequently the craft unloaded its deadly cargo of 8 companies of legionaries. Aside from Maurinius and his elite company all of them belonged to the proud Mergulus Chapter of Lions Illustris. With underwater as their natural environment they shall not be bested by inferior Xenos.

All of a sudden, the Laer found that a fortress had appeared in the midst of their own city. It was a makeshift one, for sure, and not one that would have endured a lengthy engagement with a proper force, but the hulls of boarding torpedoes were not something that could be cut through all too swiftly by the scrambling defenders. And it held a mighty garrison, one that now sallied forth in brief darting strikes, now retreated into the cover of its circle, harrying and disrupting the enemy’s focus. The xenos swarmed and shifted around the formation, and where a weak flank was exposed for so much as a moment, deft Shieldbreakers struck out, carving dents into the bulk of their foes under the cover of the Lions’ line of fire.

Not to be outdone, the aliens whipped and darted about with lethal grace and agility, turning to face the marines’ assaults with dizzying speed and lunging wherever their unnaturally sharp senses saw an opening. Power blades clashed with augmented claws, and as the battle ground on armour as well as reinforced flesh was marked with vicious gashes. Barrages of energy blasts punctured the metallic walls of the impromptu fortification, infallibly striking its weakest points and leaving behind gaping charred holes. The tide of strife swayed back and forth, now threatening to spill over through the gaps in the circle and overwhelm the defenders inside, now rolling back, repelled by a daring counterattack.

However, the inner front that had opened up within their walls was not the only one that kept the Laer occupied. All around the city, ranks of dark-armoured Astartes continued to emerge from the shadows, accompanied by packs of stalking and loping beasts. What had at first appeared to be a mere exploratory force was now steadily revealing itself to be a full-fledged battle force, hundreds, nay, thousands of warriors converging onto the besieged walls. Torpedo missiles continued to rain from the backs of charybdes, careful not to aim too close to the Lions’ insertion point. Spires and ornate walls continued to chink and crumble.

The vanguard had already reached the outskirts, and the xeno defenders poured out to clash with them. Though at first the two sides had traded fire over the rubble of collapsing fortifications, soon a chaotic, brutal melee was joined, and truly to an observer it would have been unclear who between the warriors of mankind and Laeran was the least human. Unlike the Lions’ quick, accurate strikes, the Lurkers eagerly plunged into the mire of sustained combat, and their own claws and pincers came forth to match those of the enemy. The Laer’s artfully calculated and targeted blows were matched with stubborn ferocity, steel clutches ripping out chunks of flesh and tearing into limbs and eyes. For once, the Abyssal legion had met an enemy who did not waver before its brute force, and returned every blow in kind. A bloody murk soon rose to cover the thick of the fighting.

Beyond a doubt, the Laer were one of the fiercest foes humanity had met through the long years of its conquest across the galaxy. Even caught on two fronts and faced with the strength of the Astartes, their tactical wit did not fail them, and they coiled between one Legion and another, striking back and forth with serpentine grace, not yielding a single inch without a toll in blood. Yet even they had their limits. They had not anticipated an offensive of that magnitude, not there, not then, and as their forces began to wane in the face of the invaders’ relentlessness, the signs of defeat became evident. The gliding swarms of their warriors broke apart and dispersed, reaching for the safety of the upper seas. The city’s inhabitants, not bred with the same awesome physical might, swam about in panicking disorder, hampering the troops’ movements. Buildings continued to burn and fall around them.

And, finally, they broke.

A mighty collected charge of the Lions, who came darting out of their torpedo circle in a massed shock assault, scattered the inner ring of defenders at the same time as the waves of Lurker forces surged over the exterior walls. From then on, the battle became a slaughter, as the Astartes’ coordinated action wiped out the last pockets of resistance and set loose upon the foe, now in full retreat. The city had fallen, and many more were soon to follow.
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