Phew... I finally finished the story. I often experience lack of inspiration/interest in middle of my writings, but I forced myself to make an ending, because I hate to leave a work unfinished, but I guess it won't be as good as the beginning.
Chapter 6: Into the darkness.
"Our Leman Russ is lost." reported Kleitos.
Colonel Ruffius just sighted "Damn. Does anyone have some good news here? Get behind the firing line. I still may need you. " then he turned to his adjutant "Now get me an auspex scan. I want to know where these necrons come from."
"Yes sir." saluted the adjutant.
Slowly the necrons were encircling them. He saw Sidor fighting heroically with his power fist some of the enemy Flayed ones. It was slightly weird to see that natural swordsman using a powerfist, but since when Sidor lost his arm, he simply lost his touch with his weapon. A mechanical substitute was nothing like his own arm, so he just swapped for less elegant weapon. Seeing how clumsy Sidor was with his new weapon, Ruffius swore that if by some miracle they would get out of this alive, he would find him a better augmentic arm, whatever it takes. After all, he earned it even though Ruffius still did not forget how mercilessly he executed his former commander, colonel Aigar. But where was his mind? He still had a regiment to command. "Relay me to our men " he said and then gave order to regroup at the palisade.
"Sir. I've completed the scan as you ordered." told him his adjutant.
"And what did you find?" asked him Ruffius.
"They are actually just several meters beneath us."
"Damnit." cursed Ruffius. When a Necron warrior appeared behind Ruffius, his Adjutant shouted "Look out!". When Ruffius turned, he saw his ogryn bodyguard back on his feet, tearing the necron with his rippergun. Then the ogryn smiled at him and said "Me love smashin' little crons". It was actually more scary then the Necron themselves. When Ruffius collected himself from the shock, he ordered all his reserve companies to exit the camp.
When they were outside the camp, he ordered a valkyrie run on the ammunition depot to blow the whole camp up.
"You idiot! " said some trooper. "Now we're without any ammo. How are we going to fight the necrons now? We're supposed to shout at them or what?"
As an answer, he just shot him. Despite his dislike of field executions, that kind of insubordination could not go unpunished. He wondered whether the trooper was not actually right, but he was the commander not some unskilled soldier like him. If he did not bombard his own base, they would get quickly overwhelmed by rising Necrons.
"What are your orders now?" asked him one of his company commanders.
He took out a map and explained to his officers how he wanted them to spread. "And fetch me some eldar. I want to have a word with these bastards" he added, but then he changed his mind "Or rather not. Just kill them on sight. At this moment, it does not change anything."
"For the Emperor!" Gwenck heard. When he looked where the noise came from, he saw that guardsmen were coming from underneath the hill. They even brought some heavy weapons which they installed, while covered by lasgun fire. Gwenck threw a smoke bomb making an escape possible for him and his squad mates and ordered "Charlie squad. Get to the rocks, now!" When he heard that the guardsmen received order to fire at will, he shouted half the way "On the ground now!" By some miracle they survived. The bolts passed around them and finished the rising necrons.
When the threat was over, Gwenck got up and saluted "Sergeant Gwenck of the Charlie veteran squad. Glad to see you made it here." he said.
"Good to see, that my company could assist you sergeant." said the company commander. "Our orders are to get as close to the source of the necron invasion as we can and hold our ground. Do you know where are these bastards coming from?"
"I can be of some assistance." said the scout sergeant Derreck, who emerged out of nowhere and startled the company commander. "Sorry sir." apologized Derreck "I am the scout sergeant."
"I know who you are Derreck. You have quite a reputation in the regiment." answered the company commander. "Now speak."
"Look over there." Derreck pointed out. "There are several holes, that the necrons actually blew up. They are coming from the caverns in these mountains. When it was possible, I peaked in there between two necron waves and I must say that, they looked huge. There were about fifty different holes from which the necrons were emerging."
"Very well sergeant. Report back to the colonel. We will take it from here." said the company commander.
"Yes sir." saluted Derreck and got back to shadows.
"Well... down we go." thought the company commander as he lead his men into the caves. The cave was very humid and the men grew nervous about constantly hearing some drops falling on stalactites. They changed their bayonets for flashlight. It was a common joke among the veteran guardsmen, that it actually made their lasguns twin-linked. They had to tread carefully. Some holes were so deep they could not see their bottom despite the strong luminosity of their standard issued flashlights, but most of them were actually used to it. They were miners and caves were their natural environment.
"End of the line." said the officer when they got to a large abyss. Several phalanx of necron warriors were creeping out of it. "Get me some plasmas here. Now!" he shouted.
As an answer a hot rain of plasma killed the necrons who fell back to the Abyss.
"It's deep." commented the officer. "Trooper Greick I want you to scout this area. Get him a rope men! "Alpha squad, provide him some cover."
Trooper Greick slowly descended into the abyss, and soon vanished into the darkness. The rope got lighter and a scream could be heard. After a few minutes another phalanx appeared, but this time men were ready for it with their heavy weapons deployed. A quick salvo sent it back to the abyss.
"I need another volunteer now." said the officer. His men were all avoiding his eyes when he was looking for another trooper to scout the area.
"I will go." said Petronia breaking the awkward silence.
"Commissar you are too valuable to risk your life like that." said the officer.
"If you consider that a risk, you obviously never served with penal legions." said Petronia. "I am going in."
"If you insist." said the officer who anyway did not give a damn about her safety and said as much as was expected of him. Why Petronia did it? Krug mentality hardly accepted women in the army and despite all her rank as a commissar, she still felt some men did not take her seriously enough. By volunteering for something all men in this platoon feared to, she hoped to prove them she was just as courageous as any commissar despite being a female. She tied the rope around her waist and slowly began to descend, her bolt pistol in one hand, her flashlight in other. From time to time, men heard some bolt shots, which meant she was still alive and after a couple of minutes she got back.
"It looks like the Necrons are really coming from down there." she said. "It seems like a large dead city. An impressive sight." as if admiring the necrons , but then she corrected herself quickly "For a xeno architecture of course. From time to time some dormant necrons woke up and tried to kill me and I must say they are surprisingly good at climbing. Anyway if our goal is to destroy as many necron equipment, as we can, we should start here. Get down and put some demolition charges in there. "
"Well thank you for your advice commissar, but I remind you I am the ranking officer here, so I make the tactical decisions." said the officer
"But of course." answered Petronia. "But you see being down there gave me some more insight, so I shared my opinion on the matter."
She was subtle in it, but she made clear to the officer that, she knew he was afraid to get down there. Even with his few hundred survivors still under his command. She was politically correct not to call him coward in front of his men, but she knew. Who did she take him for? With annoyance in his voice he ordered "Men we must get down. First platoon get us some ropes and guard them the rest of us follow me."
Another ten men died while descending and the officer began to wonder how long they could last. Yes he had many men when he came, but their numbers were diminishing. But he will not be called coward. Especially not by a woman! While being covered by about a hundred lasguns, veteran squads began to melt down all necron buildings that stood in their way. Under the heat of the melta guns and explosions of demolition charges, the ancient architecture began to collapse, but from the ruins more and more necrons began to rise and it was clear they could not hold them for long. When he saw a horrifying form of a flayed one a trooper began to flee. His sergeant was occupied trying to hold off the necrons with his chain sword and did not have time to think about his unit. The trooper stopped in front of the barrel of Petronia's bolt pistol.
"Where do you think you're going she asked him." Then she shouted "Watch out!" the trooper threw himself on the ground, and using her bolt pistol, she hit a seemingly dead necron who was just about to get up. "I just saved your sorry arse, so you owe me a beer. Now get back to fight Hendrick. " she said after looking at his tag.
"Yes ma'am. " He saluted and rejoined his squad.
The guardsmen were being pushed by the necrons and soon they were cut off the way from which came. They had to take refuge in an alley that was a defensible position. After a few waves of necron phalanxes the attacks finally stopped for a moment. That left the survivors a brief respite and the officer could finally recount his men and found out that there were only forty seven men able to fight the rest were either gravely wounded or dead. "Damn. I hate this job." major Daur sighted.
"Sir, we found something." reported veteran sergeant Gwenck. "You had better look at it."
The officer looked the way that the sergeant pointed and saw a hundred of dead bodies in power armor. "So that's where the missing Space Marines are." he said.
"Search for any equipment we can use." ordered commissar Petronia "drop your lasguns and take their bolters. We will be much efficient that way."
"Isn't that a blasphemy to give holy equipment of Astartes to mere guardsmen?" asked the officer.
"Technically yes." answered Petronia "But if you think, that the Emperor is looking at us down here, then you are very over confident of your importance and even if he was, I think he would understand our dire situation and gave us all his blessings."
"Well men. Do as she said. Take their bolters and kill as many of them as you can." and then he he picked up a data slate, which he found on the Space Marine Chapter Master and began to read it.
"First day after deployment. After Sicilla campaign, we have taken heavy loses, and I must confess, that I am very afraid for the future of my chapter. I am one of the few battle brothers who survived the attack on the ork bastion and as a highest ranking survivor I became chapter master Elean Dreyfus, the Red Lion. I swore an oath to chaplain Raychim, that I will uphold our chapter's tradition, but it seems so empty now. Our traditions will fall with our chapter, so we need to fill our ranks as quickly as possible. I have made a deal of which I am not proud, but essential to the survival of our chapter. There is a group of techpriests, who focus on study of organic life. Many puritan factions of Adeptus Mechanicus consider them tech heretics and they pursue them. They sought refuge in our domain. They promised us their cloning technologies. Our side of the bargain is to protect them during two Terran years. I agreed, because training and finding new recruits would take much longer.
The group of techpriests with which we are now associated is looking for intelligent life to study. Their laboratories are full of screams and sometimes their vile heresies are more disgusting then what the fallen Chaos Space Marines ever did. We now disembarked on an unknown planet in search of more xeno intelligence. Despite the tech priests analyses, this planet seems to be devoid of any intelligent life. But they are insist, that there are some.
Second day after deployment. It was a terrible mistake to leave our battle barge unguarded. It has been infiltrated, we do not know yet how and destroyed. I do not like to say this, but for once, the Codex Astartes gave a piece of good advice, we should have followed. As if it had not been enough, we had been attacked by necron warriors. If these are the intelligent 'life' forms the tech priests have been looking for, then Emperor preserve us.
Third day after deployment. We have sent a distress signal. I have avoided telling the details, because I do not want me and my battle brothers be branded as heretics. If any help comes, I will deal with the consequences later. Until then we will do our best to contain these necrons. Auspex scans show, that they are coming from some caves under mountains. We are headed towards there.
Forth day after deployment. More and more necrons awake with each hour and we are slowly being overrun. I believe this is the end. The Emperor certainly punishes us for the heresy we have undertaken. So be it. We will redeem ourselves in our last stand. We are His Space Marines... and we shall know no fear.
"How can we prevail, where even the Space Marines failed? " asked the young boy Rius, who obviously was the first to realise that this was a suicide mission.
Everyone looked towards their commissar for reassurance. They hoped, she would say something like that these Space Marines were weak heretics, but she did not. She was too realistic and saw the end coming very soon.
"We can't" she answered. There was no point in lying now anyway. "Our communications are disabled and our astropaths dead. We can neither call for reinforcements or flee even if we wanted to."
"But,... that means..." Rius babbled and Petronia could see tears in the boys eyes. The rest of the men just looked at her shocked.
"Well yes we are to die here," she said "but ask yourselves: does that actually change anything? You know as well as I, that when a guardsman performs his duty, death finds him on battlefield on day on another. All that we can do is to make our death the most useful one and by the Emperor we will make our sacrifice were useful. Not a damn necron will pass our defense till the last guardsman still draws breath. I will see to that. By discipline and inspiration, I will make of you the tools of the Emperor. We will avenge these Astartes and by doing so we will meet them at the right hand of our glorious God. So prepare yourselves guardsmen: by giving our blood we will show these heartless xenos the true meaning of courage. For the Emperor, for the Imperium."
This was the happiest moment of her life. She longed for a heroic death and even though no one would remember her last stand, the Emperor would see it and that was more than enough.
"Sir, I've spotted some kind of pylons." reported scout sergeant Dereck. "It seems to be heavily guarded. "
"Can you see any aircraft defense?" asked the colonel.
"No sir, but it could be concealed. I have already seen too much of eldar trickery today."
"Very well, keep me updated." said Ruffius and he ordered a bombing run on the place. A few of his air crafts were shot, but it did not matter much at the current situation. Whatever the eldar were doing, he would have them paid.
"No! What have these fools done?" cursed the farseer. All his meticulous work was crushed under those crude bombs. Now that the necrons were awaking, these pylons were critical. As the enemy troops were approaching, he knew there was no time to do any foretelling. He did the course of action, that seemed the most reasonable to him now. He surrendered himself to the Mon' Keigh.
"Sir, something strange is happening." reported sergeant Ian Mc Kruu to his platoon commander. "We have the eldar witch advancing alone towards our positions. He threw away his weapons and looks like he wants to surrender." Mc Kruu was one of the most psychotic soldiers of the fifth regiment. He was always eager to hear the order to charge or at least always hoped his squad would get charged. He personally slew an ork boy with his chainsword and his squad would never forget this bloody image of him covered in blood, shouting the most foul insults toward the xeno. It was known, that he kept his head as a trophy. If it was up to him, he would add the head of this eldar to his collection.
"This could be a trap. Wait for further instructions." said the platoon commander and contacted his colonel.
When Ruffius learned, that the eldar was surrendering, he suspected a trap as well, but... what had he to lose? His regiment was on the verge of defeat anyway. "Bring him to me." he ordered.
Not even chains could break the eldar's pride. He stood in front of Ruffius and his senior officers, stripped of his weapons and his armour and no fear, only contempt was visible in his eyes. Had he not surrendered, Ruffius would even admire him. "Human. Do whatever you please with me, but first heed me, for I have foreseen a terrible doom for both of our races." said the farseer in very elegant high gothic. Few were the humans, who mastered this language with such eloquence. It was insulting to hear this crude xeno speak with such a perfection. Nevertheless Ruffius had other things to worry about, so he let the xeno speak.
"I am what you humans call a renegade. I left my own craftworld, because my own kind did not believe in my interpretation of prophecies. My choice was to fight fire with fire. I used the pylons you destroyed to control the awakening necrons. Now that no one controls these beings, they will go and fulfil their original purpose. Kill al life. "
"Are you really that weak, that you need to use other races to win your fights?" asked Ruffius with contempt.
"You presume too much human. Despite your insolence I will offer you my help. But do not be mistaken human. I am only doing it so that you stop the necron threat. I can send an astropathic message to your army. Call in for reinforcements hoping that they will be able to hold against the necrons with your inferior weapons. "
Ruffius answered "Are you out of your mind witch? I am not going to entrust our access codes to a xeno."
"The problem is human..." said the eldar with a smirk "that I have already read them from your mind. But fear not. Now that I have failed my mission. I do not need to harm you. On the contrary the more of your armies come, the better chances you have to stop them. "
"You disgust me witch and I am not going to take any chances. Men: execute him now. " ordered Ruffius.
"Rest assured human, that the feeling is mutual. " said the eldar before being shot.
The far seer was however true to his word. Due to some anomaly in the warp, the reinforcements were en route before he even sent the message and arrived an hour later.
It was decided to make an exterminatus on the planet, since it had no valuable ressources for the Imperium. Fortunately it was done before the necrons were able to defend themselves. The Imperial fleet was magnanimous enough to evacuate the surviving Krug. They had taken too many loses however and had to be mixed with another regiment from the same planet.
"May I ask you a personal question?" asked a techpriest Sidor, who was lying at the infirmary.
"Please do." answered the commissar.
"Why do you insist so much on growing a crude biological arm, when I could make you a much better augmentic one? " asked the techpriest.
"I was the best damn sword fighter, before loosing my real arm in a fight with a Chaos Space Marine. Now with those crude augmentics I am barely able to beat my own troops in sword fighting. "
"These augmentics are indeed crude, but I could make you much better ones." said the techpriest "Instead of growing some imperfect biological arm."
"No thank you. I want to feel the sword in my hand again." answered Sidor.
"As you wish." answered the techpriest still unable to understand how could someone prefer imperfect flesh over metal, but since colonel Ruffius donated a large sum to his biological research, he had to as he wished.
Petronia was looking from the command bridge at the bombarded planet. The sight of the massive fire power, that the fleet could deliver made her feel proud to be human. She witnessed the uncompromising might of the Imperium and it really made her spine shiver. It was the first, and probably the last, time she saw an exterminatus and it was a magnificent sight indeed. As soon as the planet was nothing but dust. The fleet left the star system for a new battlefield. This time she felt that the Krug were ready for any horror, that the universe could throw at them. They were no longer greenhorns, but real guardsmen.