GARBANOWSKI HAD SEEN planets die; pounded to dust my massed fleet actions or ravaged by life-eater spore and burnt in the blink of an eye.
Today he had earned the right, to witness the annihilation of a race.
His internal chronometer recorded that it had began eleven, point three hours ago (Terran adjusted).
* * *
+ MY LORD, SCOUTS CONFIRM, IT IS THE Stel-Uit CRAFTWORLD +
Silence oozed through the bridge like quick frost, and all eyes turned to the tall figure standing beside the command chair. He was a marine, like most of them gathered on the bridge, but unlike the blue and gold livery of the Ultramarines, he wore the colours of the night.
Captain Cortez Ramirez, Komtur
of the Black Guard,
+ SQUADRON Damocles REQUEST PERMISSION TO BEGIN THEIR ATTACK RUNS +
+ La Gloire, Plongeur AND The Vauban HAVE TARGET AQUISITION, THEY REQUEST… +
“…I am well aware of the situation. Order all vessels to hove to and await further instructions”
Garbanowski moved his head slightly, so he could examine his Komtur’s mood and reactions. As part of the Commanders body guard, he was in a unique position to watch history being made.
A nudge from the rear meant that Brother-Sergeant Mittoo had seen him move.
+ Eyes front Garbanowski. You should know better +
“All groups await your orders Lord”
“No reports of any movement as far as the Kravitz Nebular”
Ramirez slammed a fist into his palm and the loud crack caused a faint gasp from all of those assembled.
“By the Throne of Terra, we have them”
Garbanowski felt the confidence flow through him like a physical wave, and for a brief second the great man’s eyes looked into his soul.
“Has Admiral Worf’s diversionary attack succeeded My Lord?” quizzed one of the Ultramarine’s, wearing tactical markings of second company line officer.
“We shall see Captain Jorvan, we shall see” He turned to a small group of naval officers who were huddled around a hololith.
“Admiral O’Connell, You may begin the attack”
* * *
Rarely does one witness such a sight.
Three Battleships, six Grand-cruisers, eight cruisers and thirty-two escort ships of every mark, opening fire in unison.
Seconds later, the first lance fire struck home, followed by lines upon lines of heavy ordnance.
Even with the flash shields lowered, the sight was blinding.
+ Falconidae to the torpedoes +
Garbanowski felt a reassuring gauntlet on his shoulder guard and was surprised to see Komtur
Ramirez. The Commander’s face, usually solemn and serious, had broken open into an infectious smile.
“Ready to kill some Eldar, Garbanowski?”
“Always Komtur. For Corax and the Black Guard”
* * *
was dying. Whatever the material it was that made up its structure, was slashed and blackened by a thousand strikes. Fires and smoke billowed from a hundred wounds and debris floated in great shoals around its frame.
Garbanowski could just about see the effects of another heavy strike before the torpedo twisted slightly to one side.
+ ONE MINUTE TO IMPACT +
+ Standard spread, you know the drill +
+ THIRTY SECONDS. THE EMPEROR PROTECTS +
White flame, molten metal and intense heat blinded Garbanowski’s senses.
+ Starcannon +
+ BREACHED, EMERGENCY BRACE +
The marine in front of him was cut in two and Garbanowski instinctively jerked left to avoid a jet of super-heated plasma. His harness snapped and he was ingloriously thrown to the deck, falling heavily against the legs of his comrades.
He felt his body moving and realised that he was now at the mercy of zero gravity. The servo’s in his boots had failed and he could not gain a hold on anything nearby.
The torpedo had been neatly sliced in half, killing all or most of the crew.
He was lucky; he was still alive and could survive the void. Sooner or later he would be picked up.
Komtur Ramirez? He was on the second tube.
Garbanowski turned, and the Stel-Uit
Craftworld was revealed in all its glory.
The Eldar world was a mighty vessel to be sure, larger than the mightiest Imperial ship, bigger even than a Planetary Defence Platform.
+ So Vast +
Swarming around the top of the Craftworld, where Garbanowski identified the topsail, were groups of small craft. Retreating rapidly away from the behemoth, trailing smoke and fire were the contrails of hundreds of Imperial fighters.
All around him, in patches and lines, were the detritus of a vast battle. Frozen corpses wearing the black and blue of the Imperial fleets, floated alongside slim figures in yellow and white. Box-nosed Marauders jostled for position next to the remains of sleek, arrow-like xenos machines.
Garbanowski grabbed a piece of debris and was shocked to find that it was the head and shoulders of a naval officer.
A vast shadow blotted out the Stel-Uit
and he winced instinctively. The huge bladed bow of an Imperial Cruiser rolled by engulfed in flames and debris. Electrical fires and bolts of lightning arced from its ruptured sides and small explosions pumped out debris and body parts in all directions.
In seconds the wreck had passed and Garbanowski turned back towards the Craftworld.
+ Terra save us +
The Imperial Fleet had gone, pounded into a trillion fragments of metal and flesh. The majestic Grand Cruiser’s La Gloire
and The Plongeur
had been surrounded by hundreds of smaller attack craft, and like stricken beasts upon the plains, surrounded by hungry predators; they were bitten and nipped until they slowly turned over and died.
lasted a little longer, but the superior sleek weaponry of the enemy, quickly wore her down too. Seconds later her magazines were struck and she went supernova.
Garbanowski chuckled to himself.
The Glorious Imperium of Man.
He saw death when it came for him, and smiled. A small craft, half the size of a Stormbird glided alongside and a beam of white light struck him like a las-shot. A hatch opened and he saw the figure of an Eldar warrior clad in their colourful livery. It cocked its head as if studying him. Green lenses glowed inside its coned helmet.
“Kaput Marine” came a voice through an amplifier, “You are all Kaput”
Garbanowski could have killed the figure as easy as breathing. It would be one more dead enemy, and one less xenos. His bolt pistol ached on his hip.
+ One day we’ll find you again, and when we do, we will destroy you all. Time, we have all the time in the Universe, but your days are numbered… xenos +