It Caused An Effect
This is a Horus Heresy short, it not done yet and feedback would be appreciated.
The first sign that something big was happening came when Astartes of the Word Bearers legion left the men of the Imperial 45th Army Group. Packing into their Stormbirds the Astartes offered no word as to why they were leaving, only that “A greater calling beckons us”.
As the stone gray assault craft soared into the sky seventy thousand mortal men of the 55th Expedition Fleet were left alone on a world with a war against the barbaric orks only half-way prosecuted.
As the first uneasy night fell, the perimeter patrols, tripled in number since the events of the morning, heard the first cries of the ork natives in a month. But that alone was not frightening to the men of the Glison 33rd Regulars . The fact that they were cries of victory were.
The next morning brought little comfort.
Colonel Fortensen was in the command center, a prefabricated structure designed for army commanders on campaign. Pouring himself a cup of caffeine, mixed with battery acid if the taste was any indicator, Fortensen looked out the window to see a dying yellow sun rising to bring a new day to this miserable world. The sun gave the land a sickly hue, but that wouldn’t last long. In just a few hours the second sun would appear on the horizon and bathe the world in a blinding white light that would require the men of the Imperial Army to don special eye-wear.
‘How’s the caffeine this morning?’ asked a slightly younger lieutenant colonel as he walked into what was half jokingly called the “rec room”.
‘Shitty Mortun, shitty like how you say hello every damn morning,’ said Fortensen.
‘The day I don’t ask how it is is the day it tastes like fine wine,’ replied Mortun.
‘That fails to explain why you think it’s a good way to say hello and it brings up the question as to why you think wine is a good thing to partake in in the morning,’
‘After yesterday I think we could all use a damn drink,’
‘You’re right on that account at any rate,’
Mortun grunted in response and took the caffeine pot offered by Fortensen.
‘I think we’d better just take these to the war room and not waste time here,’ said the senior officer.
‘Right right right,’ said Mortun.
Walking into the war room, where all operations for this war had taken place under the leadership of the Primarch Lorgar.
In the center of the room was a large holo-image projector table with a 3-D image of the Imperial Army base and surrounding landscape.
Gathered around the projector table were thirty Imperial Army commanders, each with a portion of the Imperial force on the world under their command. Without the presence of the Astartes commanders that had been here just a few hours ago, the room seemed almost empty. Without the Primarch, the room seemed to have been built for absent gods.
Fortensen looked around the room at the crowd of colonels, generals and other officers. Then he looked at the empty command throne that the Primarch had sat in when planning campaigns against the ferocious greenskin that thoroughly inhabited this world like a hive of insects.
Looking at the crowd of officers gathered Fortensen noticed one absence that didn’t leave him hopeless.
General Kor’Farrah, commander of the Colchis Royal Guard wasn’t here. That was good, the arrogant bastard was always using his favor with the Primarch to boss the other officers around and get whatever he wanted. Fortensen was glad of his absence.
Fortensen remarked on this to Mortun.
‘Maybe his lord took him and his men with him,’ he said.
‘No, I saw their tents out in that little eight pointed pattern they seem to be so damn fond of,’
Their curiosity was put to death when all other commanders in the room turned to the entrance and looked in the direction of Fortensen and Mortun.
Mortun looked behind his companion and himself.
‘Fort, I think we’d better get out of the way,’ he said.
‘What for?’ said the older man before turning around himself, and he saw why.
Standing just outside the doorway was Kor’Farrah, with five Astartes in dried blood red power armor providing a body guard.
‘Move aside Colonel,’ said the General.
Fortensen obliged, too taken aback by the Astartes.
What happened next took shocked him even more.
Kor’Farrah sat on the Primarch’s command throne.
Several of the gathered officers let out asps of disbelief, some of anger, all of surprise. Such a brash act could only be made by one with absolute knowledge that he could. The five Astartes guarding him would certainly lend aid to that belief.
‘Gentlemen,’ said Kor’Farrah, ‘Thank you for coming today,’ he continued as though today were like any other and there were no ork horde within a hundred miles of the Imperial Army camp that just witnessed the greater three thirds of the Imperial force leave.
‘While the great and noble Primarch Lorgar of the 17th Legio Astartes and the greater portion of his legion’s strength depart for the Isstvan system, this war here still needs to be finished, which is why I, chosen of Colchis have been left in overall command, with twenty-five Astartes and the 45th Imperial Army group at my disposal,’
Fortensen couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Kor’Farrah was a madman, a manic who reveled in shedding the blood of his enemies, even if they were human and had surrendered already, he made and ideal man to pit against the greenskin, who did not know what surrender even was, but he was a terrible man to serve under.
The Colonel spent the rest of the command meeting only half listening to Kor’Farrah, he was too preoccupied with thoughts on how to get his men as far away from here as possible. There just wasn’t something right about the new commander and he didn’t want to know what it was, he just wanted to be far away from it.
When the meeting was adjourned Fortensen stalked out of the command bastion as fast as he could, with Mortun right behind him.
‘This is all bullshit,’ said the younger man.
‘You’ve got that right kid,’ said Fortensen.
‘What the hell are we gonna do with that madman in charge now?’
‘I do not know, try to survive this war, get a transfer to another expedition fleet would be the best option I think,’
‘That’s the only option I think,’
‘Right again. Just get to your men, tell them what’s happening and get them ready, we don’t know when Farrah is gonna send us into the meat grinder,’
‘Weren’t you listening?’ asked Mortun
‘Somewhat, I was too distracted, why?’
‘Both our regiments are going straight to the front for the next phase of the operations here,’
‘Shit,’ said Fortensen.
Shit was right.
Howling like daemons the orks swarmed into the defense trenches amongst the men of the Glison 33rd Regulars. Spearing bayonets into their bellies and firing their lasguns full auto the Regulars took many orks with them, but it was a hard fight, and many Regulars would not fight again.
Private Clarkson thought as much as he hurled a frag grenade down a section of trench that had been taken over completely.
Flame and shrapnel ended many orks and their death cries pounded the ears.
‘Take it back!’ shouted sergeant Hansen and forty Glison Regulars charged into the stretch of trench and stabbed any orks they found, some men abandoning their lasguns when they ran out of ammunition picked up the mare barbaric greenskin weapons.
Clarkson charged with the rest unloading on the enemy and beating them back over the top of the dusty earthen trench.
‘Push them back!’ shouted someone, somewhere.
As if they had been inviting the greenskin in for tea and biscuits earlier.
As more orks were cut down by las-fire more and more poured into the trench.
‘Where’s the damn artillery?’ shouted someone, Clarkson had no idea who and cared even less. It was a valid point though.
In answer to the question the sound of incoming fire washed over Clarkson’s ears and he risked looking up, away from the fight, even though he knew it would be impossible to see the shots fired.
He felt their impact though.
Crashing into the ground just in front of the trenches the artillery shells blasted apart scores of orks, but more importantly, blew the earth apart as well.
Rock and earth blasted into the air in all directions, some landing in the ork horde, some coming down to cover the embattled Imperials.
Clarkson raised is arm to shield his eyes from the stinging dust just as the force of the explosions knocked him and his comrades off their feet.
The rocks and the hard earth dug into Clarkson’s back and pained him even as he tried to get back on his feet, but a massive ork was charging towards him just as he opened his eyes.
He tried to grab his lasgun but it was just out of reach of his outstretched arm, his fingers just barely managing to touch the blazing hot barrel.
He reached for his sidearm instead, knowing it couldn’t possibly stop such a brute, but refusing to go down without fight all the same.
He blasted away with the laspistol, firing five shots at the greenskin’s head and doing little more than burn it.
The creature gave a barbaric warcry and raised its chainaxe above its head.
Clarkson closed his eyes in anticipation of the end of his life.
The axe came down.
But Clarkson felt no pain.
He heard a ringing in his ears and looked to the left, there the axe was, embedded in the ground and the haft quivering.
He looked back at the ork that had just been about to kill him and saw that where once a head had been, there was nothing but a burnt and smoking crater between the shoulders.
Clarkson looked behind him and saw Colonel Fortensen, one hand holding his power blade, humming with deadly energy, and the other holding a plasma pistol aimed at space the ork’s head had formerly occupied.
Fortensen didn’t spare him a glance as he ran past him blasting away with his pistol into the ork horde charging through the breach into the trench. The men of the Glison 33rd followed, lest their beloved commander fall.
Clarkson fought his way to his feet, picking up his lasgun as fast as possible and bringing it back up to his shoulder to fire once more into the ork horde.
‘Damn that man, damn that man!’ shouted Fortensen, ‘he knew he was firing too close to the trenches and now we get the shit,’
Clarkson didn’t know who he was talking about, and he would have pitied that man, whoever he was, had he not almost been responsible for his death.
Fortensen raised his voice once more for him command vox.
‘Mortun, now would be a damn fine time!’ he shouted.
Clarkson didn’t hear what the other man had to say, but he did hear the roar of a squadron of Vulture gunships as they soared low over the battlefield. He watched as they looped around over the ork horde and unleashed their deadly capacity for death.
Round after round of solid ammunition streamed from the miniguns slung to the wings into the mass of greenskin, chopping them into smaller and smaller pieces.
Underslung missiles screamed as they were launched at the ork vehicles, few as they were.
Explosions became the punctuation marks that ended the short sentences that were the lives of the orks charging into the breach.
‘That’s all nice and pretty Mortun but it won’t be enough,’ shouted Fortensen.
As if on que Valkyrie drop ships found their way above the breach and added their fire to the Vultures’.
The Vultures and Valkyries continued firing into the horde as dozens of repelling lines dropped from the troop ships.
Black carapace-armored troopers slid down from the lines, keeping hold with one hand on the repelling mechanism and other on their hellguns, firing into the ork mob below.
‘Make room for them men!’ shouted Fortensen.
The men of the Glison 33rd let out a triumphant yell at seeing their brothers in arms and charged forth, cutting down orks left and right.
They couldn’t clear out the orks fast enough though, and some still crowded the drop space for Lieutenant Colonel Mortun’s Flying Jackels.
Clarkson, towards the back of the human mob saw a black armored man, more decorated than the others, repel halfway down the line and then leap into the ork horde below, a power saber flaring with a new inflow of energy rushing up the blade.
‘Damn that man to,’ Clarkson heard Fortensen say, though he didn’t quite sound as mad as before.
The men of the Flying Jackels made it to the ground more or less in one piece and joined the fight in full force.
Forming into phalanxes the thirty-six storm troopers of the first wave fired none stop into the orks, pushing the howling beasts back.
Someone with a flamer opened up and poured fire on the greenskin.
The combined force of sixty or so Jackals and Glison Regulars fought their way through the ork horde and found the man that had leapt from the Valkyrie.
To Clarkson’s eyes he didn’t need rescuing.
Standing on the backs of two slain giants Lieutenant Colonel Mortun swung left and right with his power saber as he fired into the horde with his hell-pistol.
Laughing as he parried an ork blade before reversing his grip and stabbing the offending party, Mortun was Imperial valor incarnate.
The men of the two regiments were able to get to him before he was drowned in the tide of orks.
‘Next time, you can save yourself,’ said Fortensen.
‘Just setting an example for the children,’ said Mortun.
‘This needs to end now,’ said Fortensen, firing off three blasts from his plasma pistol.
‘I agree,’ said Mortun before raising a hand to his command vox ‘Major, I think firestorm pattern Foxtrot would really come in handy at about this time,’
‘Yessir,’ came a static riddled voice on the other end.
Mortun turned and looked at Clarkson who stood in awe of the officer.
‘Watch this kid, hopefully you only have to see it once, best lower your shades to,’ he said.
The Jackals had already lowered their shades when they heard their commander give his order on the vox, but the Glison needed more instruction for the sake of their ability to see.
Just as Clarkson and the rest of the Glison lowered their helmet shades a dozen squadrons of Vulture gunships soared out of the sky, dropping their payloads and lighting the battlefield up like the eyes of a god.
The orks vanished in the fire, vaporized by the heat.
Hundreds of Glison across the entire first defense line let out another triumphant roar and rose from the trenches to lend their fire to the slaughter.
More Valkyries dropped from the sky to unload scores of more deadly Jackals.
The men watched as Vultures strafed the field, obliterating the orks and bringing victory to the Imperial forces by nightfall.
As roving patrols of the Glison and Jackals mopped up the last few bands of orks that clung to the rocky terrain Fortensen and Mortun had a brief moment with naught but loyal ears close to them.
‘I don’t think we were supposed to survive today.’ said Mortun, as they patrolled the outer perimeter. He held his power saber and hell pistol at the ready, but powered down for now.
‘I don’t think so either, that artillery fire was too close too often,’
‘What the hell are we gonna do about this?’
‘I don’t know, Farrah’s probably trying to figure out the same thing,’
‘Hmm. What if we commandeer one of the Navy ships?’
‘Won’t work, we’d need a troop carrier for that and Farrah’s got the Astartes, along with his own men, guarding them. No one gets on one without his permission,’
‘Wait,’ said Mortun. They, and their escort, stopped walking altogether.
‘Do you think the Astartes know?’
‘I haven’t thought about that,’ said Fortensen, his eyes widening in horror.
‘If they are that would mean the Primarch set Farrah down this path he’s on, that he’s ordered our deaths,’
‘But why the hell would he do that? We are loyal subjects of the Emperor, if anyone should be put to death it is Farrah, he’s almost a complete religious zealot,’
‘He’s also from Colchis, along with the Primarch,’
‘Favoritism is not beyond the reach of even His sons I suppose,’
‘No I suppose not. But if the Primarch want us dead what does that mean?’
Fortensen thought for a moment before the horrifying conclusion came to him.
‘He is no longer a loyal servant of the throne,’
‘Is that why he left? To wage war against it?’
‘Why are you asking me? If I had known I wouldn’t even have allowed my regiment to be in the same sector as the Primarch, and that would have been the least of my actions,’
‘What could have possibly turned him away from his father?’
‘I don’t know, but we’ve been out of contact with the greater, and less remote, part of the Imperium for quite some time now in this system, we don’t know what’s been going on,’
‘Could there be a rebellion against the Emperor?’
‘That’s not something I want to think about right now, let’s just concentrate on getting off this rock in one piece,’
‘Right,’ said Mortun, clearly shaken at the thought of rebellion against everything the Emperor had created.
‘Markus,’ he said to one of his Jackals.
‘Yessir?’ asked the trooper, his voice quivering and fearful from what he had heard.
‘Are you a loyal soldier of the throne?’
‘Would you give your life for the Emperor and his Imperium?’
‘Would you walk through the fires of forgotten creeds for it?’
‘Yessir I would,’
‘Good, then give me some of the contraband smokes I know you carry with you,’
‘I think I’ll have one to,’ said Fortensen.
‘And one for him to,’ added Mortun, pointing to his friend.
‘Anyone else?’ asked Markus.
Not one man in that patrol returned to base without having inhaled the drugs.
That night Clarkson was in his battalion barracks, gathered around the center of the room where the battalion’s commander, Captain Hicks, spoke as quietly as he could to the men. After the events of the last day, he didn’t have to raise his voice to be heard by everybody. Imperial artillery fire and orks made unusual, but not ineffective, allies when it came to murder.
‘Word just came down from the Colonel,’ the Captain said, ‘we need to go on full alert, enemies other than the orks could come for us during the night and we need to be prepared for that,’
‘But sir,’ said sergeant Hansen ‘the Astartes made us turn in our weapons earlier for inspection and maintenance by Mechanicus, we’re unarmed,’
‘I know, which is why we need to get them back,’
‘What are the Jackals doing?’ asked a lieutenant.
‘The Colonel said Mortun and his lads are preparing their drop ships for a mass evac, quietly, so it might not be as effective as could be,’
‘Maybe not,’ sergeant Hansen threw his weight into the conversation ‘the Mechanicus were never allowed near those things by the Jackals, they have their own motorpool for what they’re doing. Hopefully they still have control over it at least,’
‘That’s right, but its got little to do with our weapons situation,’
‘Yeah what do we do about that?’ someone asked.
‘Well first you wait for your commanding officer to explain the plan before interrupting him, and if you absolutely must do that, you add a sir,’ said Hicks.
That shut everyone up.
‘I will lead a small group of volunteers out of the barracks, our first mission will be to take a portable vox mast or some flashlights at the least, in order to establish communication with the rest of the regiment. General Kor’Farrah, it seems, is doing his damn best to make sure we can’t talk to each other no matter what,’
‘And after that sir?’ a lieutenant asked.
‘Then we find out what the colonel want us to do, and during the meantime we will be avoiding camp patrols under the direct command of Kor’Farrah, and this may include some of the Astartes that were left behind to cement his command, who will throw us in the detention center with no rations at best on some trumped up charge at best, and we don’t even know what they will do at worst yet. Any volunteers?’
Clarkson wished he hadn’t raised his hand to volunteer. Hiding from a searchlight under the support beams of a barrack structure inhaling the rough dust of this world with all sorts of probably poisonous insects crawling around was far from comfortable.
‘This just proves what the Captain was talking about,’ whispered sergeant Hansen as he crawled up alongside Clarkson.
‘What do you mean sarge?’ asked Clarkson.
‘The searchlight, its not focused on the perimeter, its looking down the gird lines,’
‘Come on, the lights about to pass the ground in front of us, when it does we’ll have about fifteen seconds before it comes back, we’ll have to get to the next building in that time,’
With that they crawled forward, moving just under the edge of the building, just out of sight of the searchlight operators.
‘Not quite what you had in mind when you enlisted eh?’ asked Hanesn.
‘No sarge I suppose not,’ said Clarkson as the light passed on the ground right before them.
They moved, just as darkness came back to the path before them they moved, not wasting a second they could not get back.
Last edited by Worldkiller; 06-18-10 at 05:25 AM.