A tale of overcome
Last man standing
Word count: 1075
Derano Creek had been a town full of Emperor fearing citizens, their duties fulfilled and, in the shadow of the great statue of the mighty Primarch Corax they had toiled hard.
Ten thousand years ago they had been found by the lord of ravens and brought into the Imperium of man. When the Heresy had broken out they had sent men and women to aid the beleaguered Raven Guard.
Now all that was a footnote in the bottom of history. Seventeen weeks ago cultists had besieged the once loyal town and the whole world had gone to hell, literally.
The cultists had the symbols of the fallen son Lorgar tattooed on their skin and one by one the PDF had been forced back into Derano Creek, the last loyalist bastion on the entire continent,
Captain Jacob Jennings and one hundred of his men and women had survived to live this long but now as he surveyed the skeletal remains of the town he realised that, unless help arrived soon then they were going to be confined to a miserable and ignoble end.
There was however one glimmer of hope. The two hundred Arbites that were stationed here and they had taken command of the situation. The Judge, a tall dark haired no nonsense woman by the name of Teshena had certainly taken charge of the situation and what civilians were left were all given duties to perform.
Those with medical knowledge were set up in the remnants of the Medicare centre dealing with the wounded and the dying. Those with any farming experience were sent to the grain store to make sure that the people whilst on rations were fed.
Anyone who could wield a weapon was on the walls of the town doing just that. Jennings glanced at the walls. He was reminded of an old Terran castle and her battle tested walls.
They may not have been of Imperial Fist design but they were standing and that was all that mattered. From the tallest turret two Arbites stood keeping watch for the heretics.
In front of the gates his men and some of the men of the town had dug trench lines and mighty guns were stationed across there to bring the Emperors wrath down on the heretics. He had deferred to the Judges’ command; he had never met anyone that did not defer to the Judge’s command.
For after all he was Planetary Defence and she and her brothers and sisters were the law of the Holy Emperor, governorships rose and fell by their command. They could walk into the ruling elite and execute every last one of them without trial if they felt they had failed the God-Emperor in any way and that is exactly what she had done.
Now they stood here shoulder to shoulder on the battlements watching the tide of heretical humans make their way across the fields of fire. It did not bother any of the heretics when their brothers fell to the guns or were blown to pieces by the mines left there when the PDF retreated into the town.
They just kept coming.
And so it was for weeks more, as many as they took out the heretics took their toll on soldiers, civilians, and Arbites. Jennings had lost cont of how many men and women had fallen to the heretics’ guns.
They had eventually brought up their own ordnance and begun blasting at the walls. He had seen his second perish in one of them, the third turret from the gatehouse had been blown asunder, and he had seen shattered bodies blasted into emptiness.
Time and time again he hoped and prayed for deliverance, for some help to come from the Imperium but somehow he did not believe it would come. Those ideas were confirmed when the Astropaths had been found dead.
Twisted by whatever hellish visions they had been experiencing there would be no rescue, they were alone.
Jennings was a tall thin man with former Imperial Guard service. He had been mustered back here when Orks on Ulas IX had wounded him. Unable to leave a life of soldering behind he had joined the PDF and rose through the ranks to become their commander.
His hair was all but gone leaving a sun burnt pallet and his grey eyes had lost their sheen and instead reflected the horrors he had seen in his time. He was not a native of this world but he had come to love it like his own. He did a quick head count.
Of the six hundred that had been defending the town there were now one hundred and fifty.
“Judge we are running low on ammunition and bodies” he had told the Judge.
“If we are to die here then so be it but not without taking them with us.”
That had been the last conversation he had with her, she had ordered the mighty Leman Russ tanks at her disposal and the massive gun mounted APCs and Riot control vehicles out and told them where to go.
They had done a mighty fine job of carving out the enemy but they had all been destroyed within two days. Sorceries magicks and psykers had caused the crew to turn on themselves.
Jennings took his place on the wall by the gatehouse and with a prayer to the Emperor began to fire. Making each shot count, it had to count there were hardly enough of them left to make any difference.
By dawn the Judge was dead, her body having been crushed by the falling gatehouse and with the few Arbites and PDF men and women left they made their way back into the centre of town.
Their guns fell silent as the few remaining heretics burst through the doors and as one the survivors commended their souls to the Emperor and began to fire.
It was bloody and it was long, bodies were ripped asunder, limbs were cut apart. Heretic, Arbites and trooper alike forgot their humanity and fought for survival the ground soaked up the blood turning it into a mud caked gore factory.
Suddenly it fell silent. Jennings wiped his eyes, his ears still ringing from the sounds of battle, all around him bodies lay, loyalist and traitor alike. He lay back on the statue of Corax and looked up.
He was the last man standing, with a god at his shoulder.