|Topic Review (Newest First)|
|11-08-07 04:58 PM|
First off, I would like to apologize for the long (two month gap) between updates. I blame Halo 3 and Orange Box quite frankly.
Vash emerged from the armory, sporting a brand new plasma cannon and a wild grin on his face. A servitor followed behind him, carrying a large box of plasma charges, ensuring Vash would not need to return for ammunition for a long while. Castus had already return to his post above the gate to rally the auxilia there, and Vash was heading there to blow some things up. He sprinted up the stairs taking him to the top of the wall, and assumed a kill-zone directly above the gate.
Inquisitor Lord Garrison watched the waves of guardsmen leaving the camp, not really caring that all of them were marked for death. This was their job, dying for the emperor, and he intended to see that they did their job well. Sighing in disgust at the turn of events, he walked back into his tent and began making preparations for the second wave.
Captain Deus stood atop the gatehouse, clutching a pair of binoculars, and through the mist, could see the rough outlines of millions of bodies moving at a jog towards the Citadel. He drew his chainsword and thumbed the activation stud, the hardy weapon roaring to life for all hear. Raising it high above his head, he yelled to the defenders,
“Here they come! For Onyx!!!”
“FOR ONYX!!!” came the deafening answer. All along the miles of walls, the clacking of safeties being switched off and of magazines being loaded could be heard. War was here, and it wasn’t leaving anytime soon. Deus made a quick mental calculation, and watched the enemy get ever closer. Wait for it…wait for it…go!
“Open fire!” he roared, his voice coursing through every vox speaker in the Citadel.
That was all Vash needed to hear. He took aim at a crimson chimera, fingering the firing rune and praying the Emperor for success. A green ribbon of pure energy surged forward, shredding the chimera’s armor. It must have hit something important, because the vehicle was soon replaced by a large fireball. White hot metal laced out, laughing at the flak armor of the nearby guardsmen and turning them into so much warm meat. The kill counter in his helmet estimated one vehicle and thirty two soldiers dead, from one shot. This was going to be fun.
Castus lay prone on top of the gatehouse, picking off guardsmen with his rifle. Their armor was pathetic, he hadn’t had to use more than one bullet on any of his targets. Judging by the green lances appearing in his peripheral vision every so often, Vash was enjoying himself. The kid was racking up an impressive kill count too. That chimera must have been carrying ammo or something, cause it blew like fireworks on Emperor Day. As he blew the head off of an idiot tank commander, he couldn’t help but think that this was too easy.
“Sir, the guardsmen are being slaughtered. None of them are making it to lasgun range, they’re being picked off by snipers and heavy bolters!”
Garrison ignored the aide, knowing full well the guardsmen were going to die. There was no way around it.
“I know you idiot, shut up. Inform the Grey Knights and Stormtroopers that phase two is almost ready, and they should get to the landraiders, okay?”
“Yes sir, I’ll do that.”
Delta Nineteen was having the time of his life. So many targets of opportunity, so little time. Obviously, the bare headed sergeants were the first priority. If they’re stupid enough the think they don’t need helmets in a warzone, than they deserve an Exitus round through the head. The terminators were another matter entirely. They had those damn shields, so he was expending all of his shield breaker rounds on them, but it would be worth it if it saved a few lives. Plus, the sight of those gargantuan idiots toppling over the walls was too priceless not to attempt. The only thing he had to worry about were the scout sniper squads, and so far, they had seemed to have noticed him yet. Which was surprised, considering he’d killed thirteen terminators, god knows how many marines, and even managed to punch the arm off of a dreadnought! Did they think guardsmen were that good, or that lucky? Please…
Vash had just blown a Leman Russ to Hades when the marine next to him had his head blown off. Now, having pulled off countless shots like that for years, Vash knew exactly what had just happened.
“Sniper!!!” he yelled, diving to the deckplate. The other marines just stared at him funny, and kept firing. It took another marine being shot off the wall to make them think that perhaps the ex-marksman knew what he was talking about. Vash tapped his helmet, activating his vox bead.
“Sergeant Castus! We’ve got a sniper somewhere on wall Section 7-D.”
“What? Those cadians can’t hit the broad side of a barn!”
“Maybe it’s a Catachan sir, they’re pretty good.”
“Roger that, I’ll sweep your position.”
Castus pulled away from the gate battle and settled down, facing right to sweep the brush for Vash’s sniper.
“All right,” He muttered, “There’s Vash.” His crosshairs hovered over a figure in power armor, tending to a headless marine. He moved the crosshairs out across the battlefield, blowing the heads off of guardsmen along the way.
“This is the likely ballistics trajectory, so if I follow that…”
His path lead him to a small bush. Frustrated by the lack of results, he frowned and began to move the rifle away. However, a small shimmer betrayed the presence of a being using active camouflage. Castus keyed his mike, and said,
“Vash, I found something. I can’t tell if it’s a sniper, but he’s got active camo.”
“Roger that. Thanks sergeant.”
The camouflaged being hadn’t noticed him yet, and Castus liked it that way. He brought the scope up to his eye, and moved the crosshairs over where, according to his best estimates, the head was. He squeezed the trigger, and was rewarded with a pink puff of blood. The active camouflage dissipated, and Delta Nineteen lay in the dirt, exposed for all the world to see.
Captain Deus heard the crack of a sniper rifle, and wheeled around to face its origin. Brother Sergeant Castus lay on the roof, his rifle smoking, and a grim look on his face. Silencing his stormbolter for the moment, Deus yelled over the din,
“Brother! What is it that troubles you so?”
Castus looked up and saw Deus’ quizzical look, realizing he was a large target. He only had time to yell,
“Vindicaire!” before an Exitus round tore through Deus’ shoulder.
Delta Nineteen was pissed. Some damn scout had blown the hell out of his active camouflage generator, and now all he had to blend in was the red of his bodysuit. Still, having one of the senior commanders of the Onyx Warriors in his crosshairs did wonders for his temper. Always the hothead, Delta fired a moment too soon, not anticipating the turn. His round still hit of course, but it lashed into the target’s shoulder instead of bursting his head open. The target had, with considerable arrogance, decided to fight bare headed, and almost paid very dearly for that. Swearing under his breath, Delta pressed the scope up to his eyes again, shutting out the world as he went for the kill-shot.
“I need a terminator squad in grid 20-12/A!” Castus yelled into the vox. He lunged towards Deus, but the apothecary from the captain’s command squad had already begun to work, and shoved Castus away with the butt of his bolt pistol.
“You’re needed elsewhere brother! Find this assassin and kill him!” the marine urged him. Nodding in reluctance, Castus knelt down again and went to work. He would only need to hold him off until the terminators arrived anyway. Nothing lived where they were.
Unable to get a kill-shot off due to target obscurity, Delta resorted to blowing the heads off of random marines in anger. He wasn’t even really aiming, just moving his rifle across the wall and firing. The red paste flying through the air meant he was hitting something though, and the killing felt good. He was in power when he killed; ending someone’s life meant he was the master, not the other way around. Eventually, he got so into it that he blocked out everything around him, which explained why the thunderous footsteps of the approaching terminator squad went unnoticed.
Veteran Sergeant Janus couldn’t believe his luck. The assassin was so involved in his work that he didn’t hear his squad approach, which meant less mess for him. He steadied his assault cannon, pointing it squarely at the assassin’s back, and squeezed the trigger. Red gore smacked across his ebony armor, and Vindicaire Assassin Delta Nineteen was no more. Janus keyed his helmet’s vox and sent a report to Captain Deus.
“Assassin eliminated sir.”
“Good. Take the long way back Sergeant.”
Janus grinned, interpreting the not-so-subtle orders. This was going to be fun.
Lieutenant Colonel Prious gripped the pintle stubber tightly and fired long bursts at the impossibly large fortress ahead. His armored phalanx had been ordered to assault the main gate, but nothing short of a Warlord titan was getting through there alive. His tank’s demolisher cannon wouldn’t do shit against the layers of void shields and armor that protected the only entrance to the Onyx Warrior’s last refuge. Still, his unit fired their guns defiantly, pretending that their puny battlecannons were making a difference in the long run. The Russ was moving forward at battle speed, which meant that they should be touching the walls in about ten minutes. Fierce anti-tank fire lanced back at the tanks from atop the walls, but it wasn’t the devastator squads Prious was worried about.
These damn Onyxians had formed some sort of milita. Encouraged and armed by the marines, the mere mortal soldiers were gifted with equipment that would make a Kasrkin green with envy. Carapace armor, hellguns, and the best heavy weapons the Imperium had to offer, these farmers could go toe to toe with the elite Stormtroopers and have a decent chance of survival. They even were able to take down other marines, if they worked in groups. Though most of the militia was stationed on the walls, assigned to man the impressive amount of fixed defenses the fortress boasted, teams of these fanatics were scattered all around the battlefield, hidden well and kitted with various heavy weapons. They had been a constant thorn in the Inquisition’s side since the siege began, and the surprising discipline and knowledge of target priority they showed made them actually dangerous. He had lost three tanks on the way here to a lascannon nest manned by militia, and, as the guardsmen who flushed them out reported, that had only been two men and a gun. Prious shuddered to think about how many auxiliaries there would be so close to the Citadel.
As if in answer to his thoughts, the turret on the tank next to him popped off like a premature champagne cork, spewing fire and machine parts everywhere. His XO’s tank ground to a halt, and Prious swore as the lascannon nests began to fire freely. Roaring in defiance, Prious aimed the stubber towards the nearest muzzle flash and fired an angry burst in retribution for the death of Captain Hastings. The red beams ceased to fire, but it was impossible to tell over the din of combat whether the nest had been knocked out, or if the gunners were just reloading.
“Pershing! Return fire with our plasma cannons!” Prious yelled down at the crew below. Seconds later, the side sponson plasma cannons spat angry blue ribbons at the lascannon nests. His other tanks did likewise, returning fire with heavy bolters, pintle stubbers, and autocannons. One by one, the lascannons fell silent, and Prious breathed a sigh of relief. They just might make it to the wall after all. Raising his fist in defiance, his tank surged forward, blasting away at the first tier of defenses, the outlying bunkers.
When the Imperial Fists had been contracted by Rogal Dorn himself to construct the Citadel, they used the strongest alloys imaginable, including several that are no longer common knowledge to the Imperium’s construction masters. The outlying bunkers, which Dorn’s engineers knew would bear the brunt of any ground assault, would need to be constructed of the finest materials the Imperium had available, and indeed they were. Unknown alloys sheathed them, massive constructs to which the name “blockhouse” might be a more appropriate term. Bristling with guns, and equipped with underground tunnels through which men and materiel could be fed, these independent constructs were formidable constructs, and had stood the test of Eldar pirates, rebel uprisings, and other military actions over the millennia. The demolisher and plasma cannons Prious’s tank brought to bear tore through the first one in seconds. Spurred by this surprising victory, the tank group began laying siege to the blockhouses in earnest, swiftly destroying them one by one.
Janus swore as he heard the commotion over the vox net coming from the first tier defenses. The frontal assault, ballsy enough as it was, was actually working! The first ring of bunkers were being torn apart by a squadron of Leman Russes! Leman Russes! Mere mortals were killing his battle brothers in droves!
“This is Veteran Sergeant Janus, to Predator Squadrons Two and Three. Get yer asses out of the motor pool and come engage these Russes. They’re tearing the life out of our first ring of defenses.”
“Roger Sergeant Janus. This is Captain Wai. Squadron Two is on it’s way. ETA, five minutes.”
“We don’t have five minutes Captain. These russes are going to be knocking on our front door in two!”
“Sergeant, if I go any faster, I risk damage to the engines, and I’m of no use to you immobilized inside the Citadel.”
Swearing like a Navy crewman, Janus cut the vox link and revved his chainfist. Roaring a battle cry he addressed the other four members of his squad.
“Brothers! Yet again it is up to us to fight the tanker’s fight! For Onyx!”
“For Onyx!” The elite Astartes yelled as the ran across the battlefield with surprising speed, intent on stopping the tanks before they breached the first tier.
Prious was applying a liberal amount of stubber bullets to the remains of a bunker, when a thunderous noise, almost like a cattle stampede, caught his attention.
“What the khek is that?” he yelled into the vox bead.
Before his comms officer could answer, a mammoth suit of armor landed on top of his tank, with such weight that the forward part crumpled, crippling the vehicle. Prious reacted with surprising speed, pulling an ornate chainsword out from a sheath at his belt and revving it up, the monomolecular teeth hungry for the blood of this intruder. However, at the moment, the intruder seemed to be ignoring them, more focused on cutting through the hull of the vehicle with his mammoth chainfist and spraying the inside with a generous amount of assault cannon fire. Prious heard the screams of his crew as they died one by one, and quickly came to the realization that he was the only one left alive in the tank. Pushing himself up out of the cupola, he grabbed a lascarbine bolted to the side of the turret and jumped off the tank, intent on running back towards the chimeras following the tanks and taking command there. But, the terminator caught a glimpse of his movement as he vaulted over the side of the tank, and Prious could see a look of pure hatred in the man’s eyes as he began to give chase. Firing blindly with his gun, he ran for his life, knowing full well that the only way he was going to live was if one of his potshots struck his enemy in his exposed face.
As he sawed the battlecannon off of a Leman Russ, and viciously eviscerated the man who popped out of the hatch a moment later, Janus could see one of his men giving chase to what appeared to be the commander of a disabled Demolisher. Laughing merrily at the thought of the poor bastard being brought down in a spray of blood, Janus continued to saw random bits off of the tank, mostly for his own amusement. First the lascannon, then the searchlight, now the communications array.
His head snapped up at the sound of an inhuman howl, and as he scanned the battlefield, searching for it’s origins, Janus saw the terminator who had previously been chasing the commander, lying on the ground, his face a bloody mess. A lasgun could never score a hit like that, Janus thought to himself. He scrolled back about thirty seconds on his helmet’s camera, and saw the terminator about to pounce. The guardsman fired one last desperate shot, which struck the terminator cleanly in the face at point blank range. The marine, it turns out, did not react well to pain, and brought his still revving chainfist up to his face in an instinctive protective reaction. The diamond studded, monomolecular teeth did what they were designed to do, and sliced right through the side of his face like a bolt shell through flak armor. The guardsman, bless him, was not a fool, and used this once in a thousand lifetimes opportunity to make his escape. Swearing, Janus cleaved the engine of the tank he was on in two and ran to retrieve the howling marine.
|09-08-07 02:14 AM|
Vindicaire Assassin Delta Nineteen crawled on his belly through the dense foliage, his auto reactive bodysuit blending in with the dusty red ground. After eight hours of crawling, he had reached a hill within kill range of the heretic’s fortress, and would be able to support the Inquisitorial assault when it came. Hefting his Exitus rifle, he smacked a bipod onto the bottom of the barrel and settled down in some dense foliage, waiting for the go order.
Sergeant Proxeus stared out across the Citadel parapets, knowing that even now, the Inquisitorial forces were setting up a front line directly opposing the fortress’s main gates. Legionmaster Kristian had laughed off the idea of anyone breaking through them, constructed as they were of the most powerful alloys known to man and protected by more void shields than those afforded to a warlord titan. The gates would hold, he had assured Proxeus. Focus your defensive efforts elsewhere. Proxeus knew that it would be detrimental to morale, especially amongst the auxila, to voice his concerns openly, but he also knew the bulk of the siege, if not all of it, would be focused on the front gates, so he decided he must act quietly. Scout squads were dispatched every night to heavily mine the approaches to the gates, and teleport homers were placed discreetly in chokepoints on the path leading up the plateau where the bulk of the Citadel was based. Snipers would be posted in the towers flanking the paths, raining fire down on the hapless Stormtroopers and Grey Knights when they tried to approach. In the war room, the possibility of an armored assault was raised, but there was very little they could do physically in that event. Most of the sponson guns were designed to be swappable, but the larger defensive guns were fixed, allowing a set firing arc. All he could do in that event was increase the amount of anti-tank mines and hope the Titan legions arrived in time. Sighing, he cradled his helmeted head in his hands, and walked back towards the lifter chutes, nodding to the auxilia he met along the way.
The Inquisition camp was indeed making headway, being built on the backs of recently enslaved Onyxians. The prefab walls rang loud with the din of soldier’s boots walking along them, and the tent city housing elements of the 81st Cadian, 635th Catachan, and 507th Armored Cadian divisions. A separate, void shielded hab block had been erected and purified to house the Inquisition’s Grey Knights, Stormtroopers, and Adeptus Sororitas, and serve as a command center for the grouping of Inquisitors gathered here today. There were representatives from many different Ordos, including the Ordo Hereticus, the Ordo Malleus, the Ordo Sicarius, and the Ordo Militum. They were tasked with leading the Inquisitorial taskforce and coordinating with other elements of the Imperium, defending the taskforce from Daemons and investigating a possible Chaotic link to the heresy of the Onyx Warriors, requisitioning any necessary assassins for the taskforce, and as consults to watch the other inducted forces for heresy, respectively. All told, six different Inquisitors filled the room; two from the major Ordos and one each from the minor ones. Inquisitor Lords Nathe Garrison and Brent Yorrick, Inquisitor Lords Viktor Hersh and Julius Gressel, Inquisitor Lord Franz Hertzmire, and Inquisitor Lord Gaius Samson, all with extremely large egos and extremely different ideas on how to conquer the Citadel.
Hersh and Gressel, being the Hereticus representatives, led the meeting.
“So, my friends. Are we agreed that the assault will begin with Sororitas and Grey Knights leading a charge from the north up the path, while the titans assault from the east?”
Garrison slammed the hilt of his hammer on the antique conference table, cracking the veneer finish. “No, we are not agreed. You may be leading this operation Hersh, but I will not commit my Knights to a suicidal front charge without softening up opposition with some meat shields first!”
“I assume when you say ‘meat shields’, you speak of the guardsmen?” Gressel probed, knowing of Garrison’s intense disregard for human life in mass quantities, and of his “end justifies the means attitude”.
“As a matter of fact-”
Samson cleared his throat thunderously, attracting all attention momentarily to him. “I think, what needs to be done is a combination of those two plans. A wave of guardsmen and simple armor,” he said, using the beaurocracy’s term for guard tanks and equipment, “we will assault the gates with our more elite troops. This would also be a good time for those titans we were promised Techpriest.” He said, glaring at a red-robed figure skulking in the corner. Techpriest Kayle rose from his chair, his mechanical feet clicking on the cold, metal floor.
“Yes, of course.” His monotone voice droned. “The servants of the Machine God are always happy to help our brothers in dire times. But you must understand, I have had a rough time convincing the Magos on Onyx XI to come to your aid, as they have been loyal to the traitors for 10 millennia. I have received word, however, that Phabos III wishes to prove themselves loyal, and have dispatched their titans to the battlefield. They are not a large forgeworld, all told it is but twenty warhounds and a warlord, but it is something, no?”
Garrison stared at the techpriest in disgust. “And just where the feth is Phabos III?”
“The eastern fold m’lord.”
“Emperor’s teeth! They may as well be on Terra for all the good it will do us! Each day we delay costs us, and we can hardly wait five fething years for twenty warhound titans to arrive, which won’t do a damned bit of good anyway once their defensive guns start firing!”
Raising a finger, Kayle spoke softly,
“And a warlord m’lord. But it is of no consequence. I have just received word that Onyx XI pledged it’s support to the Warriors-”
“Don’t speak their name!” Hertzmire hissed, but if Kayle felt inclined to obey him, he didn’t show it.
“And their legions, which are composed of many more than twenty warhounds and a warlord, let me assure you, as well as Skitarii auxilia, are on their way right now. They should be here within a matter of hours. My hand is cast gentlemen, I bid you farewell.”
“Oh no you don’t, traitorous scum!” Yorrick roared as he ripping a bolt pistol from a concealed holster, pointing it at Kayle’s head. “If you’re not with us, you’re against us! Allow me to send you to your heretical machine god!”
Kayle nodded sadly. “Indeed.” He muttered, slamming a button on his chest, and activating the satchel of meltabombs stored inside. The room was instantly obliterated in a white hot flash of energy.
Proxeus had been standing on the parapets, awaiting the flash that meant Kayle had succeeded. He was not disappointed. A large fireball lit up half the Inquisitorial camp, engulfing the shielded barracks that dominated the skyline, and swallowing the canvas Guardsman tents as it expanded. Sighing, saddened that it had come to attacking fellow members of the Imperium, Proxeus wasn’t on his guard when a bullet shrieked through the air and ripped his left arm off. He was pushed down to one knee, blood spraying out of his torso.
Delta Nineteen smiled wryly beneath his mask, pulling the lever on his Exitus back and chambering a new bullet. When he looked back through the scope, he was surprised to see the marine still standing, albeit in a huddled position, clutching the wound with his remaining hand. As he lined up a shot on the sergeant’s helmet to finish the job, his quarry was shoved to the deck by a scout, out of view of the powerful rifle. Cursing his bad luck, Delta fired a shot in anger at the scout. This time, it was a killing blow. The young marine was thrown off the ramparts by the force of impact, and the combination of sucking chest wound and 200 foot drop ensured his demise. A meager concession prize, but it felt good to kill again. Sighing deeply, Delta reached into his belt and chambered a turbo penetrator round. Suffice it to say, he would not be content with wounding the next marine he found in his sights.
Proxeus awoke in the Medicae building, the white robes of an Apothecary betraying his injury to him. He attempted to push himself up, but found the lack of a left arm made it difficult. Apocethary Viduus pushed him down firmly, sternly admonishing him for attempting to rise before a suitable bionic replacement had been procured. Proxeus was only half listening though, and, nodding to settle the ruffled medic’s mood, lay back and pretended to sleep.
“They did what?!?!” The voice of Inquisitor Garrison filled the room, and his staff cowered before him, each one eyeing each other, hoping anyone but them would have to take the fall for the bad news they bore. The Inquisitor, recently released from the Medicae tent, still had a massive bandage wrapped around his head, and now sported a bionic arm for his troubles.
“Seven of the Emperor’s holy Inquisitors are dead?! You dare come before me and inform me of this?” He grabbed one of his aides, pulling her long hair until she cried out in pain. Fumbling with the holster on his hip, he pulled his beloved bolt pistol out and pressed it under her chin, grinning as her eyes watered in fear and confusion. He turned to the others assembled in the room, and spoke harshly.
“Let this one’s death be a lesson to you all!” he screamed, the roar of the bolt pistol and the splatter of gore on his face further punctuating the gravity of the situation.
“What do our current forces number?” He said, calming himself enough to talk in a normal tone.
One aide, clutching a data-slate, approached. Garrison shot an icy stare at him, but it did not register with the man.
“My lord, approximately thirty two percent of our forces were destroyed in the attack.”
Garrison looked incredulous, and spluttered, “Thirty two…it was a fething satchel of melta bombs, for Terra’s sake!”
“Yes sir, but the room you were in happened to be right above a room used for promethium storage. The promethium catered to the explosion, making it big enough to set off one of our secondary ammunition dumps. And then, once it hit those tents, it just spread like wildfire. We were actually quite lucky.”
Garrison sighed, drawing deep within himself so as to reassert the ability to conjure up coherent sentences.
“What uh…what is our status for attack right now?”
“Well, about a fifth of the Cadians are dead, and we lost about 200 catachans as well. No armored vehicles were destroyed or damaged, thank the Emperor. And we lost 20 Grey Knights, in addition to our entire complement of Sororitas. The Vindicaire thought we were attacking, and reported in that he wounded one marine on the wall, and killed another.”
“Damn it, that’s inconvenient.”
“Yes sir. We have received word from the Dark Angels that they do not wish to participate in this fight, citing the Warrior’s rescue of a doomed Rhino convoy. Politics as usual sir?”
“Yes. It appears the Grey Knights will have to make do. All right then, here’s the plan…”
Sergeant Castus gazed out across the foggy horizon, watching the sun shatter the darkness. His sniper rifle was leaning against the battlements, as was he, clutching a cup of re-caf to ward away the morning chill. The Warriors had just received word that one of those damned Inquisitors had survived, and was due to attack this morning. Naturally, this had the entire fortress on alert. Castus’s squad had been dragooned to train some of the civilians inside the Citadel basic military skills, such as firing a gun, and this left Castus the go-to man for sentry duty, with Proxeus in the Medicae. The Apothecaries refused to rate him battle ready for three days at least.
Frowning into his mug, he took another swig, and grabbed a pair of binoculars to scan likely places of assault once more. So absorbed was he, that he almost missed the gate guard’s call of,
“Friend or foe?”
Spitting out the remainder of his re-caf in surprise, Castus tossed the mug over the wall and ran to the bunker which housed the gate guard. The marine looked up in acknowledgement, and Castus nodded impatiently, wishing to dismiss the usual rank based formalities.
“Who demands entrance Brother?”
“There is a marine at the gate, clad in Mark VI plate painted in our colours. He says his name is Vash, and is attached to Sergeant Kenth’s devastator squad. Only problem is sir, Sergeant Kenth and his squad were the ones shot down by the Inq-”
“I know Brother. Let him in.”
The marine looked up in shock.
“What? But he could be a Grey Knight, seeking to gain entrance to the Citadel!”
“He’s not. I trained this one personally, and I gifted him that armor. Do you doubt me?”
“No sir.” The marine said, his fingers tapping the control board in front of him, sending a signal to the control room to open the gates. There was a deafening grinding sound as the ancient gates slid up a few feet, allowing enough room for Vash to crawl under.
Smiling, Castus walked to the lift and went to greet his former protégé.
“Go.” Garrison said. He watched in satisfaction as the columns of troops rumbled off into the morning fog.
As the gates closed, the Citadel’s proximity sensors were tripped by the oncoming tanks, and klaxons began wailing incessantly. Castus had to yell to be heard in the courtyard,
“Vash! It’s good to see you alive! Sounds like we’re about to have some fun, no?”
Grinning, Vash ran after Castus towards the armory, itching to use his plasma cannon on some Inquisition armor.
|09-08-07 01:48 AM|
Thanks. That means a lot.
I am working on chappie number four as I type this, and I hope to have it up tonight. Just primed some scouts too, so you'll get to see the onyx warriors in the flesh (as it is) for the first time, coming up real fast!
|09-08-07 12:47 AM|
|Elchimpster||Nice. I wish more folks wrote stuff like this.|
|08-21-07 06:43 PM|
Okay, so the new chappies up 13 days later than I promised. Again, I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of ADD and laziness. Enjoy.
The flaming transport dropped like a rock through the sky, trailing bits of debris behind it as it fell towards the rusty surface of Onyx Prime. Inside, the pilot servitors were still trying in vain to stabilize the craft, and Sergeant Kenth, despite being restrained by his crash webbing, was letting loose a stream of curses that would make any underworld ganger proud. Vash had managed to secure his webbing, and now sat with his back pressed against the troop bench, clutching the bolter so tight the pistol grip was deforming. All he could think about was that he had finally been promoted to battle brother, and now, instead of dying on some alien battlefield for the glory of the emperor, he would die, nameless and forgotten in a fething thunderhawk crash! On his own planet for Terra’s sake! He closed his eyes and prayed to the Emperor to deliver them from the sorry situation, and, as if in answer, the servitor growled over the vox,
“I’ve been successful in my endeavors to stabilize us enough so that we may land in Lake Deus. All personnel, prepare for a water landing.”
Kenth seemed to settle down; he quit bucking at the straps of his restraints, and leaned back against the bench, reaching to the shelf above for his helmet. He slammed the Mark IV helm home, the soft hiss informing him that his suit was now airtight.
“All right men, you’ve been trained for this, and I expect you to do it right. You ain’t pansy Ultramarines, you’re Onyx Warriors! We will come out of this alive, or by Terra, I’ll storm the Holy Palace and kick yer asses myself!”
The squad nodded, their helmets bobbing as they pressed hard against the bare metal bench.
The air screamed through the dying transport as it rocketed towards the surface, propelled by its dying engines. Vash gripped the pipes snaking along the ceiling tightly, crushing them in his superhuman grip and dripping subzero coolant on his head. The servitor was counting down to the estimated time of impact, and he had now reached the single digits.
Vash closed his eyes and prayed to the Emperor for salvation.
The pipe burst, spraying coolant everywhere.
Vash slung the bolter over his shoulder; damned if he’d be caught wounded and unarmed.
He could see the lake coming up rapidly through holes in the ‘hawks walls. A crystal blue oasis on the red dusty plain.
Gritting his teeth, he screamed a defiant, guttural roar as the dead transport hit the water like a bolt shell.
The lone grey knight approached the small village. Situated near a clear blue river that cut a swath through the rusty red plain, this village was barely more than a small collection of thatch huts and mud brick buildings scattered about a cobblestone town square. Despite being extremely feral, the villagers were fiercely loyal to the Imperium, paying more than their fair share of taxes and levies, and truly believing that their meager contribution, usually simple iron ore and foodstuffs, made a difference in the state of affairs in their sector. Being situated on a planet that was home to a space marine chapter only served to further increase their pride and loyalty towards the Imperium. When they had collected enough resources, the village council voted to erect a large marble statue of the Emperor. It was a crude thing when you compared it to the precise, laser cut works of art on core worlds like Terra, but it served as an example of the people’s devotion to the mysterious god-emperor. They had been out of contact with elements of the Imperium for decades, merely leaving their tributes at the arranged drop off point on Tax Day, where it would be gone in the morning, whisked away by one of the glorious flying machines. So, when the holy servant of the Imperium walked down the dirt roads towards the center of town, all of the villagers were overwhelmed with happiness. Of course, they didn’t know anything about his status as a grey knight, merely thinking he was a space marine bedecked with many battle honors. Even so, they took it as a sign that great things were to come, and greeted the servant of the Inquisition with a grand banquet and festival, complete with all of the entertainment the village could muster. As was only proper, the grey knight sat in a chair carved of rare valewood, and adorned with gold gilding. This was normally reserved for the village chief, and only used in special occasions, such as weddings and funerals, but naturally the Emperor’s chosen servants took precedence over a simple village chief! The grey knight sat, never removing his helmet, and said nothing as the festivities played out around him. At the climax of the ceremony, during which the village’s adolescents had been brought out to perform for the soldier in the hopes he was on a recruiting mission, he slowly stood, and everyone instantly ceased their noisemaking. Pulling a scroll of yellow parchment from his belt, he unrolled it slowly and began to read.
“Citizens of Imperial Village 214892, of the 1st planet in the Onyx system. Your village is situated danger close to a recent rumored daemon sighting and extermination, ergo, you and the land your village is situated on is to be purified. Please, do not resist, it will only prove your guilt in the eyes of the Imperium. Go quietly, and some of your reputation will remain untarnished.” He unslung the incinerator from his shoulder, and, after dropping the scroll to the ground, reduced it to ashes in a burst of blue flame. The townspeople were exchanging confused looks, and finally, one stood and said,
“Holy servant of the God-Emperor of Mankind, what is it you are trying to say?”
The space marine shook his head. These village people were so simple; so naïve when it came to matters such as this.
“You are to be exterminated.” He said simply, the pilot light on his incinerator glowing a cold blue. On cue, Inquisitorial Stormtroopers stepped from the shadows, armed with hellguns and incinerators. Their armor was painted in the crimson and black of the Inquisition, and they stared grimly at the doomed townspeople from behind their mirrored visors. The marine nodded, and the Stormtroopers snapped their weapons up to their shoulders.
Ruby red beams shot through the night, cutting down the hapless villagers and gouging craters in the buildings. The incinerator squads went to work, jets of blue flame licking out and engulfing groups of the townspeople, instantly reducing them to purified ash. The grey knight stood and began incinerating the tables and chairs he had been sitting at. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a young man running through the forest, clutching what appeared to be a picter. The marine turned on his heels and yelled,
“Sergeant, take that man down!!!”
The Stormtrooper sergeant raised his boltpistol and fired a quick volley of three shots, the pistol barking loudly as the shots sliced through the darkness. Two of them went wild, but one nicked the man in the shoulder, failing to explode. He stumbled, and the picter swung wildly on the thin leather strap around his neck. The sergeant frowned and pulled back on the pistol’s release bolt, an empty ammunition magazine falling to the grass. He fumbled with a new magazine, finally slapping it into place and cocking the pistol. By this time, the man was almost to the treeline marking the edge of the forest. The grey knight rolled his eyes beneath his visor, cursing the idiocy of his troops, and yanked a hellgun from the hands of a nearby Stormtrooper, snapping it to his shoulder and firing one shot, aimed at the picter. The crimson beam struck the small camera in a shower of sparks, and the man dove to the grass instinctively.
“Sergeant, once you are done fondling your pistol, send two men to ensure that the man is dead.”
The sergeant nodded eagerly, not wishing to disappoint a grey knight. He snapped his fingers, and flicked his hand toward the area the man had fallen. Two Stormtroopers ran towards the fallen villager, intent on purging him once and for all.
The hologram froze on the image of the two Stormtroopers, and Captain Xander of the Onyx Warriors 3rd Company shook his head.
“They found the man, and executed him shortly thereafter. What they did not find, however, was this tape, which you just saw. Apparently, that man, Emperor save him, was a decoy, so that another villager with a second picter could slink away and record whatever happened to the first man. He approached our camp this morning, offering proof that the Ordo Malleus was up to no good. After a thorough interrogation, he presented us with this film. You men are the first to see it. Now this, combined with the “accidental” thunderhawk crash, makes me extremely worried that the Inquisition has crossed the Rubicon, and doesn’t give a shit. Any questions? Comments? Concerns?”
Captain Deus of the Onyx Warriors 18th company spoke softly.
“Imagine, our brothers have been doing this the entire time.” He said, referring to the Grey Knight seen in the pic.
“The Grey Knights are not our brothers!!!” Brother Sergeant Proxeus of the 1st squad, 7th company spoke sharply, but it was true. The Grey Knights always carried with them an air of self importance, which was interpreted by most other chapters as snobbishness and arrogance.
“The Grey Knights make the Emperor’s Children look timid and shy.” Scout Sergeant Castus said plainly. “But that is beside the point. What we have just witnessed is genocide. Something which the Emperor would never have condoned. We must do what we can to stop it.”
“Aye, I agree with Castus. That, coupled with the firing upon one of our thunderhawks, makes me so angry I can’t see straight! They can’t wantonly slaughter innocents and expect us to sit in our fortress and do nothing. It’s our planet for throne’s sake! We have a duty to these people!” Deus said.
Everyone nodded, but Proxeus put it best when he said,
“Onyx first, the Inqusition second!”
“Aye, for Onyx!” Deus bellowed.
“For Onyx!!!” the marines cried.
The Onyx Warriors maintained an extensive fortress on Onyx. It was really more like a network of fortresses, all converging on one central keep. Commissioned by Rogal Dorn himself as a legion founding gift, back before the Horus Heresy, the outer walls were built with the strongest materials available at the time, meaning it was all but impregnable now, and the fortress bristled with guns. Anti-aircraft cannons dotted the towers, and Earthshaker cannons were spaced evenly every five hundred feet. Manticore missiles were arranged in blow away silos all over the place, and point defence lasers, strong enough to cut through the void shields of a titan just with a graze, were placed in the tops of the mighty towers. There were plenty of pintle weapons bolted to the battlements, all crewed by servitors and Onyxian militamen, and the fortress held enough ammunition and supplies to last ten years. Plus, it boasted a fully-fledged spaceport for large landing craft and such to land well inside the perimeter and resupply the base. The chapter’s substantial fleet of Thunderhawks was berthed in underground hangers and could be scrambled to deploy in minutes. By all means, the fortress was considered impregnable, and this gargantuan place was where the Onyx Warriors were going to make a stand against the Inquisition.
Sergeant Proxeus walked along the battlements of the first layer of walls, the hovering servo skull beside him checking off a list of defensive essentials. The veteran sergeant, who had refused more battlefield commissions than anyone could remember and had been dragooned by the Ordo Xenos to serve as a member of the Deathwatch, was a better choice than anyone to organize the defenses of the Citadel. He knew more about the ways of warmaking than most of the field commanders did, and had known several dreadnoughts since back when they too were marines. He was a living legend, the rallying figure around which countless counter attacks and last stands had been based, and he was worried to the extremes right now.
If they truly believed them to be a threat, the Inquisition would not stop until the Citadel had been ground into a fine powder; its defenders, a paste. There were several reports from the milita garrisons of lone figures in power armor slinking about, and of villages mysteriously burning to the ground. Unless the Salamanders were playing some cruel joke on them, then Onyx Prime had clearly been infiltrated by the Grey Knights, and Emperor knew who else. Scouts dispatched to those villages had found weapon discharges that were inconsistent with boltguns, and the picter clearly showed soldiers wielding hellguns, so it was safe to assume that, wherever the Grey Knights were, they had brought Stormtroopers as well. Legionmaster Kristian had already enacted a planetwide quarantine, with the only starport remaining open being the one in the Citadel. Proxeus doubted that would do much, other than create panic among the civilians. However they had got to the surface, it clearly wasn’t on the public shuttle system. Emergency housing was already being constructed in the Citadel, to allow any refugee who so wished a safe place to live during the conflict. And an emergency emissary to the Adeptus Mechanicus had been dispatched, with a copy of the tape and a plea for assistance. With time and luck, the Skitarri and Titan Legions of all the Forgeworlds in the area would be on their way. The titans of Onyx XI had already been put on alert, and were making their way to the Citadel even as Proxeus walked along the parapets. Eyeing a pair of militamen manning a pintle mounted lascannon, Proxeus walked over, smiling warmly to lift the frightened men’s spirits.
“Private, how goes the watch?” he asked the gunner.
The soldier loosened his grip on the weapon, and looked up at the hulking warrior before him.
“Uhh… sir, good to see you!” he stammered, snapping to attention.
“At ease trooper, there will be little time for that soon, so you may as well kick the habit now. I am out inspecting our defenses, and you militamen are an extremely important component of them. Are you men receiving everything you need, or are there other things you need to better serve in the defense of your homeland?”
The soldiers beamed at such praise, and the loader said,
“Well sir, our lasguns are extremely high quality, and the boxes of power packs spaced along the walls ensure that we will virtually never run out of ammunition. The only thing I can think of is perhaps some harsh weather gear, as these walls are extremely exposed, and it’s hard to fight in such minimal conditions. Uhh… that is, if you are able sir.”
Proxeus nodded. It was hard to anticipate the needs of mortals sometimes, but the man brought up a genuine point.
“I’ll have an emergency order placed immediately. They should be shipped from Onyx XI in a week. Also, a freighter just arrived with a new shipment of carapace armor. It’s been earmarked for you men on the walls, so when you get a chance, head down to the spaceport and pick up a pair. Could save your life someday.”
The soldiers nodded, smiling in appreciation at the idea of better protection than the flak armor they had been wearing so far. Although of the highest quality, making most guardsmen green with envy when they saw it, it was nowhere near as good as the full body carapace armor suits their space marine masters had somehow managed to procure for them. They thanked Proxeus, and wished him luck in his endeavour.
“The same to you my friends.” Proxeus said.
Lake Deus, named after one of the sharpest commanders in the Onyx Warriors, was now home to the smoking wreckage of a thunderhawk. The crystal blue water ran black with oil, and bits of armor and weapons floated in the lake, choking its pristine beauty with pollution.
An arm broke the surface; an arm clad in Mark VI plate. The hand flexed for a moment, testing to see that it was above the water, and then the arm was swiftly followed by a head, a torso, and another arm. The marine peeled off his helmet, taking a breath of the cool, Onyxian night air. Then, slamming the helmet back on, he began the slow and arduous swim towards the shore.
|08-08-07 05:52 AM|
heh, no you can't. part of the reason i'm strangely drawn to them.
next chappie should be up in a day or two. Work starts late for me tommorrow, so I might have it finished by then.
|08-07-07 09:00 PM|
|Jacobite||Lol why thank you. You can never trust those =I= bastards can ya|
|08-07-07 04:57 PM|
Without revealing anything:
You're a sharp one...
|08-07-07 10:06 AM|
Its very well written dude - you have a good knack for not repeating favorite phrases etc.
The only thing I don't like about it is the tone of the story. If the main subjects were IG it would be perfect but its not really arrogant enough for Space Marines if you know what I mean?. Theres not really that much reverence in the piece.
But thats just personal preference mind. Theres nothing technically wrong with the piece in the way of writing its just the portrayal that I'm 100% behind.
Keep on going though dude I want to see what happens next. I imagine the =I= has had enough and attacked despite the AM's veiled threats.
|08-05-07 07:04 PM|
When the ceremony was over, Vash and his squad were dismissed from the hall and sent back to their barracks. Before he could leave the room, Castus was pulled aside by Reaper. The commander of the tenth clapped his hand on Castus’s shoulder, and spoke in a soft voice.
“Hey Eugo, you did a good job with these ones. They have some real potential.”
Castus chuckled and turned to face his old friend. “Thanks Drej. Coming from you, that means a lot. What’s the word from up top?”
“Well, the legion master is as tight-lipped as ever. He won’t even tell the first captain what he’s got planned battle wise, but I know it’s something big.”
“How do you know that?”
“Klebold and I are good friends, so I get to hear some things that ordinary people don’t.” Reaper smiled.
Xander Klebold was the Techmarine in charge of caring for the legion’s vast contingent of servitors.
“So, you have drinks with Klebold. What does that matter?”
“Admit it, when there’s a servitor in the room, you carry on like there’s no one there, am I right?”
Castus nodded slowly.
“And so they take in everything, and then Klebold gleans the interesting bits.”
“Ah, so you use them as your own personal spy network?”
“Yeah, pretty much. By the way, you may want to stop using the sparring cages after hours. Klebold kind of frowns on that.” Reaper grinned.
Castus laughed. “Damn servies, they’re everywhere aren’t they?”
“Yeah. Listen, I don’t want to keep you, but as the company commander, I need to give you your next assignment.”
“You’re are being assigned to train 9 neophytes this time.”
“Oh bloody hell…” Castus muttered.
“Yeah, I know, the large squads can be a problem, but I think you can handle it. You’re pretty experienced. Anyway, you’ll find them on C deck, barracks number 42.”
“All right, thanks Drej. Time to go be a hardass.”
“Hey, good luck to you.” Drej said. “Seriously.”
“You as well brother.” Castus saluted his old friend casually, causing Reaper to break into peals of laughter. They slammed their right fists together in the traditional Onyx handshake, and departed.
Vash walked down the hall, riding a wave of emotions that made him feel all giddy. It almost felt like the time he and his squad had bummed a box of Lho sticks off of an Imperial Guard squad, during some field exercises. He practically ran down the hall, wanting to see his new suit of power armor and plasma cannon. He swerved between servitors and other scouts, finally skidding to a halt in front of his barracks. Gone were their sniper rifles and carapace armor; in the place of the lesser weapons was the wargear that Vash and his fellow marines would be using for the rest of their lives. Nolan walked over to his bunk, where a chainblade and bolt pistol were laying neatly arranged on the smooth cotton sheets. A disassembled suit of Mark VII lay nearby on a weapons desk. Eurebus found nothing on his bunk but a rust red cloak and a bolt pistol. He nodded, and quickly exchanged his green and black fatigues for the looser, more ornately woven cloak. Vash walked over to his bunk, in the corner of the barracks room, and was pleasantly surprised at what he saw. A suit of Mark VI armor was in pieces on the floor, but it wasn’t the ancient armor Vash had been blessed with that caught his attention.
A large backpack was leaning against his bunk. A fat, silver cable ran from the backpack, snaking across the floor, and eventually connecting with the weapon he’d dreamed about for years, a plasma cannon. His plasma cannon was lying on his bunk, along with a box of plasma charges and a bandolier to carry them in. If he remembered correctly from basic training, each charge had about six to eight shots in it, depending upon many factors, such as how stressed the machine spirit of the gun was, the temperature of the gun, the surrounding environment’s temperature, and whether the gun had been rapid fired recently. When he could finally tear his eyes away from his new weapon, he saw a small note sitting on his endtable. He slit it open with his combat knife, and read it.
Battle Brother Vash:
You are to report for advanced training with the plasma cannon when your battle barge reaches the legion fortress.
10th Company Commander
Vash crumpled the note and threw it into the incinerator on the wall. This was to be expected. Up until now, he was a sniper, and now that he was being reassigned as a plasma cannon operator, he was pretty much obligated to train and become the best he could in his assigned weapon. He gingerly moved his new weapons, setting them on his spartan desk, and walked over to his former squadmates.
“Hey, are we ready for the feast now?” Vash asked.
Eurebus looked up. He was proudly sporting the rusty red robe of a Mechanicus adept, and he nodded. “Yeah, I think so. Talk to Nolan though, he’s still messing around with his chainblade.”
Upon hearing that, Nolan looked up. “Hey, I’m hungry!” he said, setting the deadly weapon down.
Vash nodded. “Okay, then lets call Sergeant Castus.”
The feast was a tradition amongst the Onyx Warriors. All newly anointed scouts held a dinner were they could talk and share memories. It was also the first time an Onyx Warrior was allowed to drink alcohol, and there was plenty of heavy drink at these parties. They were usually small affairs, with just the scout squad and their sergeant. Very rarely, if the legion had a particularly large graduating class, or if several scout squads happened to finish their training at the same time, then a grand feast would be organized, with as many as twenty scout squads all together in the main dining hall of their respective battle barges.
The three scouts arrived at the dining hall dressed in their new gear. For Eurebus this meant his rusty red Mechanicus robes. Vash and Nolan each sported their suits of power armor, Marks VI and VII respectively, helmets carried under the crooks of their right arms. Castus was waiting for them, dressed in his green and black carapace armor, and carrying a small, varnished cherry wood box under his arm. He nodded to each of them, and they took their seats. Castus was seated at the head of the table, with Eurebus and Nolan seated to his left, and Vash seated to his far right right. The seat on Castus’s immediate right, the position of highest honor, was empty, representing the fallen member of their squad, Brother Scout Brock. Castus cleared his throat and spoke,
“Brothers, your time is here. You are scouts no longer. We will begin the festivities in a moment, but first, let us remember our fallen comrade, Brother Scout Brock.” Castus bowed his head in silence and crossed his palms across his chest in the sign of the Aquila. The other marines followed suit. Many minutes passed before Castus raised his head and nodded.
“Very good men. Now, on with the celebration.” He gingerly lifted the lid of the box and removed a dusty bottle of amber liquid from a purple velvet sheath. Pulling five small tumblers from the box, he gave one to each marine. He placed the fifth in front of Brock’s empty seat. Deftly, he removed the cork from the bottle and poured a few fingers of the strong alcohol for each man. Raising his glass, he smiled to the newly minted marines and chorused,
“For the Emperor!”
“For the Emperor!” the Marines repeated, and downed their glasses in a single gulp. Vash, Nolan and Eurebus immediately keeled over, hacking up a storm as the amber liquor washed down their throats, burning the naïve organs. Castus smiled knowingly, having merely taken a small sip of his, and said,
“Yeah, I kind of expected you to do that. That’s 300 year old Terran whiskey. It’ll melt your tonsils off if you drink it too fast.” He said laughing.
“Throne, but that stuff’s awful!” Eurebus wheezed.
“Ah, you get used to it. Nolan, you’ll be wanting another glass. In the assault corp, they’re pretty heavy drinkers, and it’s good to build up a tolerance now.”
“Joy.” Nolan said, sarcasm dripping from his voice as he the sergeant refilled his glass.
“Vash, the devastators don’t drink that much; it messes up their accuracy, so your next glass is optional.” He said.
“I think I’ll pass.” Vash muttered, eyeing Nolan as he choked down another glass of whiskey, his face red like an overheating plasmagun.
“Suit yourself.” Castus said, taking another small sip of his glass. “I’m rather a fan of it actually.”
The drinking part over with, Castus snapped his fingers, summoning several servitors laden with platters of food from all over the universe. There were delicacies from each of the scouts' home planets; for Nolan, wild Terranosaurus from the jungles of Catachan. Eurebus received a plate laden with small grub-like things. The others stared at him, their faces pale as he smacked his lips in delight and tucked a napkin into his shirt.
“What? Don’t tell me you’ve never had Xaip grubs? Oh, they’re delicious! A veritable delicacy on my home planet! Here, try some!” he said, holding the platter high for the others to spoon some onto their plates if they so desired.
“We’ll pass, thanks.” Vash said, holding his hand up. The look of disgust quickly left his face as an ashen faced servitor set a platter full of grox meat down in front of him.
“Mmm… nothing better then a fresh grox steak. Uh, my good man?” he said, tapping the servitor on the shoulder as it turned to leave. “How about some barbecue sauce?”
“Of course sir.” It said in the monotone voice that characterized all servitors.
Castus, meanwhile, was digging into a bowl of fresh salad, made up of greens from his home planet.
“Hey sarge,” Vash said between mouthfuls of steak. “What planet are you from?”
“Cadia my friend. We’re encouraged to eat lots of salad there, so that we’ll be fit once we enter the Imperial Guard. Even though I was recruited by the Space Marines, the habit never really left me. And it tastes a might better than that ration gunk they serve you normally!” he grinned as he downed another mouthful of leafy greens.
Vash nodded, digging into his steak greedily, and reached for the water glass near him to wash it down. He sighed, and leaned back in his chair, contented. Castus finished his salad and watched as the other marines slowly stopped eating their food as well. Snapping his fingers, he summoned a squad of servitors who came and removed the soiled dishes from the table, and replaced the empty water glasses with fresh ones. Castus began to talk about how proud he was of the squad, and shared a few of his favorite memories of their exploits. Pretty soon, everyone was chatting and sharing tales of exploits both on the battlefield and off it. They stayed up talking until the early morning.
Captain Verunas of the Imperial Navy stepped onto the deck of his command ship, the Xenosbane, and straightened his cap before walking to his command chair. Returning the salute of his executive officer, Lieutenant Smith, he took a seat and accepted a data slate filled with the latest stats about the fleet from a hovering servo-skull. The slate contained information about the fleet's current position, estimated time of arrival, astropathic communications, and various voxes that had been flagged for his attention. His eyes lingered on the fleet's coordinates, making sure that they were on the correct course, and then pressed the erase button, wiping the slate clean of files. Tossing the slate aside, he stood up and addressed the bridge crew.
“Men, I’m told that we’re now in orbit over Onyx Prime. Order the fleet to begin troop debarkment, and have the Medicae ships enter into a stable orbit above the planet. I want these ships unloaded in four hours.”
The crew immediately began buzzing around the bridge, attending to their various concerns, and Verunas sat, watching the fleet arrange itself in an anchorage pattern through the forward viewing screens.
Vash lay on his cot, relaxing for the first time in days, when the overhead lamps switched from a cool white to an amber colour, and every man in the room dropped what they were doing. This was the signal to disembark, and sure enough, a rough, mechanical voice came over the vox a moment later, blaring out orders with machine-like efficiency. Vash was suited in his armor in a matter of seconds, and strapped the backpack generator for his plasma cannon to the rear of his armor. He hooked the plasma cannon to his back, and clamped his helmet down around his head, mating it with the neck seal. There was a slight hiss as the suit pressurized itself, and as soon as the runes in his helmet turned green, Vash ran out of the room and down the corridor. He was being ordered to debark with the devastator crews in Bay 11, and had to find his way there in the five minutes before the ship left. He passed countless ship personel, clad in grey jumpsuits and carrying a various assortment of handheld items. All paused and stood against the wall as he ran by, out of respect to the Astartes. He arrived, out of breath, in Bay 11, three minutes later after running from the bow of the ship to the stern-most launch bay on the port side. If he ever met the moron that had assigned him this launch shuttle, he’d throttle the bastard. Drawing himself up to his full height, he took a moment to compose himself before he strode across the landing bay to greet his new sergeant.
“Borther Sergeant Kenth, I’m Battle Brother Vash, your new plasmagunner.” He said, making the sign of the aquila across his breastplate. Kenth stood next to the thunderhawk, holding a data-slate manifest with his left hand and drumming the bionic fingers of his right on a bolt pistol holster. He looked up, and eyed Vash, sizing him up with a glowing red mechanical eye before nodding.
“Vash, right. I’ve been expecting you. Haul ass and grab a seat on the ‘hawk, I’ll brief you inside. Stow your gear in the cargo bay underneath.” Sensing his hesitation at being unarmed, he added,
“There’s a bolter rack inside if anything happens, now get to it trooper!”
“Yes sir!” Vash said, banging his fist on his breastplate in a quick salute. He reached behind him and released the mag-clamps holding the plasma generator to his back. Deftly, he caught the backpack before it hit the ground, and carried it to the open cargo bay beneath the waiting transport. Vash slid the weapon underneath, and slammed the hatch shut. He ran around to the other side and jumped into the thunderhawk, landing with a muted clang as his boots hit the deckwork.
The other members of his squad eyed him as he entered the ship, and he nodded to them as he took sat down. Taking a seat, he grabbed a bolter from the rack and cocked it. His squadmates eyed him uneasily, and the man sitting next to him said,
“Hey newbie, this isn’t a combat drop.”
Vash nodded. “I know, but I always get a little antsy without a weapon in my hands.”
The other marine nodded understandingly, and leaned back against the seat, waiting for the ship to launch. Sergeant Kenth jumped inside the ‘hawk, and eyed them all with his bionic eye.
“Men, we’re to report for a rotation of duty at the Citadel, and for further training with the Mk. VI plasma cannons. We also have a new member, Battle Brother Vash. Fresh out of Sergeant Castus’ squad.” He grabbed Vash’s plate sheathed arm for the squad to see, and raised it high. The men murmured approval. “So, a short flight and we’ll be on the deck at the Citadel. Report for training tomorrow bright and early.”
The squad groaned, but Kenth cut them off with a terse glare and a raised brow.
“Are you space marines or not? I expect better from the best warriors in the universe! So, let’s try again. Report for training tomorrow bright and early.”
This time, the squad all nodded brightly and made pleasant affirmatives to each other.
“Excellent!” Kenth banged his fist on the ‘hawk’s roof and yelled something at the cockpit.
“Pilot! Get us out of here!”
The gravelly voice of the servitor in the cockpit scratched over the vox as it responded an affirmative.
“Yes sergeant. We’re beginning our pre-flight checks now, and expect to be underway in a few minutes.”
Kenth nodded to no one and sat down on the troop bench, fiddling with his bolt pistol as he waiting impatiently for the craft to take off. A few minutes later, Vash felt the rumbling of the main engines beginning to warm up, and his teeth rattled as they began burning in earnest. He could picture the gargantuan cylinders, flames roaring out of the dispersal shafts and down the launch tubes of the troopship. Suddenly, he was pressed into his seat as the thunderhawk shot forward and screamed down the launch tube, the pressure doors opening an instant before the craft was due to pass through them. Vash breath a sigh of relief as they reached open space and the engines slowed down to a puttering burn. A large red sphere loomed in the distance, dotted with craters and the occasional singular mountain. Onyx Prime, the birthplace of their glorious legion and the location of The Citadel, the Onyx Warrior’s legionary fortress. Visible from space, this massive piece of architecture sprawled across the land below, enveloping plains, mountains, and water features. It was all ringed by a massive system of walls, dotted with gun emplacements and landing pads to allow reinforcements to quickly reach troubled areas. Vash grew misty eyed as he thought of the place he had called home for so many years, and the idea of returning to it gave him an intense feeling of happiness.
“Oy! Listen up! We’re landing in a few, so look sharp Razor squad.” Kenth had clearly not been rattled by the less-than-desirable thunderhawk launch, as he was just as sharp as he had when Vash had met him. Leaning back against the non-existent headrests, Vash closed his eyes and waited for the feeling of the thunderhawk’s landing skid’s hitting rockcrete.
It did not come. Instead, he heard a shrill alarm and a tinny voice coming over the vox, as the servitor pilot coolly warned them of an incoming krak missile. Vash sat up with a jolt. Did he just say krak missile? This is Onyx Prime for fething sake! Who’d be stupid enough to shoot down a space marine thunderhawk on its legion’s home planet?!
Kenth jumped to his seat, and grabbed hold of the crash webbing hanging limply there.
“Razor squad! Brace for impact!” Vash fumbled with his own crash belt, finally securing over his breastplate and pulling the tabs tight to secure it. By now, the alarms were incessant, and the servitor seemed to have given up hope of evading the missile. Vash braced for impact with the missile, and wasn’t disappointed. The small warhead ripped their tail assembly off with the signature KRAK-BANG characteristic of all krak weapons, and suddenly, they were falling. The missile must have cut the engine coils, because they had just flared out. They were falling, high up in Onyx’s atmosphere, with no possible way of surviving.
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