Delafare could only watch with barely contained awe as the three Sisters and the Confessor - his speech as fine as his facial hair - launched themselves into action, his own Troopers being put to shame with every passing second. The Corporal was what one on Cekrov may consider a 'veteran', as in he had seen combat other than just small-scale skirmishes, but never before had he got to fight alongside and witness the capabilities of the Ecclesiarchical fighting force that were the Adepta Sororitas.
"Rally yourselves!" He yelled as loudly as his voice would allow, the heat from burning buildings and the stench of burning bodies making his unprotected eyes water, his throat causing him to choke partially on his words even as he squeezed them out, "soldiers of the God-Emperor, to me! To me!
The ingrained conditioning of following orders, and the very real devotion to the Cult Imperialis - a form of worship embedded in them since childhood by red-robed priests and even redder-faced schoolmasters - gave the withdrawing Guard a jolting backbone of steel, scattered soldiers forming together once more with Delafare as an anchor; moments later and he had organised them into a ragged but formed line of bristling las-weapons, fixed bayonets reflecting the crackling flames of the ruined village.
"Soldiers of Cekrov, for Sarton, for the God-Emperor... To the Confessor, Charge!
His own ornate chainsword whirred into life as his thumb knocked the activation stud, the noble features twisting beneath his cap into one of fanatical hatred of these unclean and impure cultists. One thing was indisputable; he would die before shaming himself in the eyes of his God and his chosen warriors.
Even as the loyalists flung themselves at the Archenemy soldiers, and as Lisbeth showed her piety by shedding more than her fair share of blood (hopefully this would not become a habit...) Victorine was making her way around the conflict, having slunk away just before the combat have devolved into close-quarter brawling; she had decided that rather than seeing the searing cottages as an obstacle she would use them as cover and a place of unexpected ambush.
With one hand wrapped tightly around the hilt of her powersword, the other relaxed but ready on the trigger of her bolt pistol, she forced her armoured bulk from one side of a nearby building to the other. Now, while it was known that Sororitas armour did not provide the all-consuming protection of their Astartes allies, the pattern of armour she clad herself in was enough to stop her burning to death, becoming a living candle as so many heretics had become by her own hand, and more than enough to splinter obstacles and walk with purpose through weakened walls between rooms.Ave Imperator.
An unexpected sadness overcame her as her visor picked out the crumbled human forms pressed against one wall, a man with his arms wrapped about a smaller female figure, both now no more than charred remains; why with their armour could not the Sororitas have been given the transhuman and unfeeling emotions of the Space Marines as well? Would she really
have wanted to feel nothing as she looked upon the pitiful corpses, probably farmers of this village who had done no wrong or harm to another.God-Emperor grant me vengeance.
When she finally emerged from the inside of the cottage covered in a layer of debris made of ash, paint and plaster, she took some small measure of joy in imagining the looks of surprise and shock behind those hand-carved masks - suddenly a servant of the Emperor had burst through a wall, out into the alley connecting the village green to the edges of the settlement, her blade already flicking out to catch a stilled adversary in the throat.
Somewhere to her right she could hear the Imperial forces pressing into the orange-clad butchers, their resolve already weakening and only diminishing with ever passing moment, while to her left - at the entrance to the passage - she expected the second flanking force to arrive at any moment in support of their comrades.
"Flee for your lives traitors, for I have no mercy to give."
Much like Alexa her voice was robotised by the vocaliser of her helmet, the words coming out as more of a bellow than a spoken sentence, the closest heretic drawing back as her prescence eroded the religious indoctrination of the Ruinous Powers, others preparing to sell their lives as dearly as possible before meeting their uncaring deities.
A trio of nasty looking bastards took it upon themselves to risk the Celestians wrath, a broad women and two men encircling her like carrion around a corpse.
The first did not even have time to raise his stubber before a bolt imploded his face in on itself, gore and brain matter flying everywhere as his body crumpled to the ground, his compatriots given enough leeway for the second man to bring a studded club down on Victorine's outstretched arm even as the woman opened up at close range with a six-shooting stub pistol.
Both closed in as Victorine kept her (she suspected broken) arm at her side, sharp breaths making their way in and out of her lungs - made so by the solid rounds punching into her gut but failing to penetrate through into flesh.
As the man raised his club to beat her over the head, Victorine doubled over fleetingly, she lunged forward and skewered him in a sizzle of cauterising flesh and blood; the look on his masked face was like enough one of angered shock as he died.
"You bitch!" Screamed the wide-shouldered woman, lifting off the mask to reveal a screwed up visage of pure hatred, eyes burning into Victorine worse than any bolt or blade ever had. It could be that rage and emotion blinded her, but rather than firing into the struggling Celestian she instead went to pistol-whip her senseless. Victorine could not truly believe her luck, releasing the hilt of her sword and bringing one circled fist right into the face of the already repugnant woman while the other grasped hold of her incoming wrist; slowly-but-surely she crushed the wrist, the feeling of snapping bone giving her immense satisfaction, her free limb drawing back and hammering into that face again... and again... and again... and again..
Having been paying little attention to her surroundings, a rookie mistake that she would chastise herself severely for at a quieter time, Victorine was relieved to see flashes of purple making their way through the orange - the Cekrov Troopers had made their way from one side of the village to the other in the nick of time.God-Emperor be praised.
“I guess we'll be heading into the mountains next then?” It was both a statement and a question from Corporal Delafare, surprisingly the highest ranking officer left of the Cekrov Guard escort, his face a mask of well-concealed concern, “for that is where they have fled too.”
Once the enemy forces had routed, stragglers cut down by blade or blast and without mercy, a concerted effort had been made at an ad hoc cleaning operation. Everyone from the surviving inhabitants to the Sisters had done their part, Delafare wisely using the time to request further reinforcements for an expected pursuit into the Cekrovian 'Wynrock Hills'; these were much less hills however, instead being a series of towering mounts riddled with more holes than a heretic after a firing squad.
“I do believe so, Corporal,” answered Victorine in affirmation, the Celestian seated atop a crate taken from one of the transports, her arm tied close to her body in a sling – not fully broken but not entirely whole either - “although from what you have described it will
take an army to traverse all the furrows and passageways of the Wynrocks.”
“That is lamentably true, my lady; we would find the cult eventually, of that I have no doubt, but...”
He could only shrug, a gesture that Victorine generally despised, it meant that no-one truly had any idea how long it could take or what the ramifications could be come the eventual end.
A sigh escaped her lips as she rose from the crate, now at least a head taller than Delafare and giving him the briefest of grim smiles, turning away from the rudderless man and striding across the village green to where a temporary medicae post had been assembled. It was here that the wounded Troopers were taken, as well as Sister Dominicia, Sister-Hospitaller Christina doing all she could for the lot of them and more.
“Thank you for this,” she said by way of greeting and making herself known, lifting her arm an inch or so from her chest, moving to stand beside the giantess of a warrior-healer and surveying the bodies – those that moved and
those that did not – with eyes as dark as mahogany and as deep as a calm body of water.
“How goes it? How is our foolhardy sibling?”
Although she asked the questions, and genuinely cared for the answers, her eyes went not for the first time to the weapon that Lisbeth wielded in disregard for proper command structure, armament regulations, and that seemed to get here into so much trouble – that sword, Persephone... They would have a talk about it, once she recovered, of that there would be no doubt.