Under the Red Sky Pat III
In the name of the Emperor
Markus Bailean sat aboard his Flagship, The Iron Angel, and looked out over the vast stretch of black space before him. The blackness ahead of him was dotted with ships of the Imperial Navy and of the Inquisition, their massive cruisers and warships ominous as they floated silently above Kranos. Bailean sat on his command deck clothed in his bone white cloak, the edges rimmed with gold and red. Around his waist was a black leather belt strapped together with a buckle made of pure gold in the shape of a winged blood drop, from his belt hung his power sword, ‘Flame of Baal’. His heavy, black boots stuck out from under his robe and a blood red cape fell about his shoulders. His short, shaved black hair was damp with water and his deep, blue-green eyes glinted with anticipation, he had a broad, blunt chin and his nose was bent where it had been broken.
Bailean drummed his fingers on the arm rest of his command chair as he waited to hear conformation from Rees Julian. The deck was quiet as the various orderlies that served the superhuman warriors of the Blood Angels Adeptus Astartes scuttled about. The command deck of the Iron Angel was big. In the center was a large data slate that was used to play back footage and to project documents for all to see. Bailean’s chair was about five meters away from the slate and closer to the command deck blast doors. On either side of Bailean’s chair were seats for Chaplain Xerxes and Brother Gorinns, the company Apothecary. Along either side of the deck were long computers that were used to plot the ships path through the warp and they were covered in flashing lights, levers and buttons. Directly in front of the data slate was a massive window that revealed the deep blackness of space to those aboard the deck. Bailean was about to stand up when he heard Rees’s vice over the vox-link on the ship.
“Markus” Said Rees’s bold voice, “all allied ships are accounted for and the leaders of the other forces are waiting to hear from you before we can make planetfall.”
“Alright, thank you Rees.”
“The pleasure is all mine” said Rees with a hint of sarcasm. Bailean flipped through the vox-channels until he found the right one. He selected the channel and began to speak.
“This is Captain Markus Bailean of the Blood Angels 4th company coming in, do you copy?”
“Copy Captain” said the voice of Admiral Kearon Gilton,
“Loud and clear Captain.” Added Lord General Alexian Havik,
“Alright Captain” said a calm female voice Bailean had never heard before,
“Finally” said the derisive tone of Inquisitor Lord Malograd Hefth. Bailean hated the Inquisitor with a burning passion, they had a long and tenuous history that they could not set a side, even for this.
“What’s the word on the system?” asked Bailean.
“Well” said Admiral Gilton, “Kranos is about ninety seven percent under our control with just the city of Merlon contested.”
“So that’s where were getting deployed im guessing?” asked Bailean.
“You guess correctly captain” said Gilton, “the ground forces will be deploying as soon as were over the city.”
“Right. What’s the status of the enemy forces in the city?”
“The city has only two small areas of control in opposite quarters, the rest of the city is a no-mans land with both forces vying for landmarks and defensible positions. The strength of their forces is estimated to be somewhere around five thousand, outnumbering the loyal men on the ground two to one.”
“Any daemons or psykers?”
“Not as far as we can tell at this point.”
“Alright, im assuming my brothers and I will be spearheading the assault?”
“Correct again captain, but you wont be going in alone, Canonness Preceptor Alena Aris will be taking her sisters down with your Astartes. You’ve been made commander of the assault. After your two forces have secured a landing zone, General Havik will deploy a number of his guardsmen to hold the locations you’ve captured.”
“Good, what of the Grey Knights?”
“Their services won’t be required until later in the campaign captain, so it’s up to you to regain control of the city.”
“I’m ready to go whenever. Just let me know and we’ll make the drop. Speaking of crop, are we looking for a lightning assault or a advancing line assault? I just want to know weather or not to use Thunderhawks and Stormbirds or Drop Pods.”
“You can use ships, you’ll be landing in friendly territory.”
“Perfect, I hate Drop Pods.”
“The Emperor is with you captain.” Bailean heard the click as the vox-link shut off. He got up from his chair and strode out of the command deck. Bailean walked along the length of the dark ship until he reached his personal quarters. He ran his hand along the ID pad and inhaled as he heard the door hiss open. He stepped inside his quarters and heard the door close behind him. The room was simple and clean with only a bed, dresser and a book shelf. The bed was bigger than average to accommodate for his Astartes bulk, it’s white sheets strewn about. The dresser was parallel to the bed and was about as tall as Bailean. It was made of solid wood and had two small drawers on the bottom underneath two big doors with little metal knobs. The book shelf was directly to his left and it was packed on both shelves with leather bound books. The books were a mix of religious works, journals and fictions, Bailean had read all of them and was looking to replace some of them the next time he got the chance.
Bailean walked over to his dresser and opened up the doors. Inside was his suit of Power Armor, cleaned and ready for action. Bailean took his robe off and revealed a vast expanse of muscle. His bulk covered his ribs, giving him the appearance of a slab of meat. Despite his bulk, he had a graceful look, his muscles were perfectly proportioned to his size and his torso was hairless, one of the traits of being a Blood Angel. Bailean hung up his robe and reached for the tunic that went under his armor and slowly slid it on over his muscled chest.
Bailean felt the Drop Pods belly thrusters ignite and the metal pod crash into the ground. The metal doors slammed open and Bailean charged out. He looked around and saw that his pod had landed in the middle of a wide street with tall and battered buildings along either side of it. Craters pockmarked the ground and Bailean heard the sound of battle all around him. Seconds later, Bailean’s Honor Guard leapt from the Drop Pod and joined him. Directly in front of Bailean, about a half mile down the road was a wide, flat roofed building dotted with muzzle flash along the roof and in windows.
“Rees, have Bretonia and Fulong squads meet us by that black tower!” motioned Bailean. The tower was tall and thin with a golden spike at its peak. There were windows every five feet along the walls and Bailean bet himself that there were plenty of snipers inside. Bailean hefted his bolter and ran down the street towards a barricade of sandbags that protected at least a dozen cultists, in their black and crimson robes and the icons of their gods carved into their skin.. Bailean raised his gun and fired it on semi-auto. Three bursts of bolter shells flew from his gun and two cultists went down as the bullets slammed into their chests. Bailean felt a las burst hit his chest plate rolled his shoulder to avoid the brunt of the shot. The rest of Bailean’s squad was running up behind him blasting at the cultists.
Bailean raised his gun to fire again just as a pack of cultists ran out from a building next to him and charged him. Bailean slung his bolter over his shoulder and drew his power sword.
“For Sangunius!” Bailean charged the cultists and rammed one through with his sword. As he pulled his sword from the corpse he punched another raving follower of chaos in the jaw, the man’s jaw shattering under the force of the blow. Bailean spun around and slashed open the chest of a third cultist with his sword and roared with battle lust as the man’s blood sprayed his armor. Bailean felt a heavy slug slam into his right leg and he spun around. Standing in the doorway the cultists had come out of was a pair of the black robbed lunatics hefting a big, scrap made gun. Bailean slashed his way through four more men and charged the two men with the big gun, his hackles raised. The gun went off again and Bailean felt a bolt slam into his stomach, knocking the wind out of him. He stumbled and almost fell but he swiftly righted himself and leapt at the two men. As he leapt, the pair of bald and scarred fanatics dropped the gun and turned to run. Bailean landed on his feet and tucked into a roll, as he stood up he swung his sword to both sides, decapitating one and slashing open the chest of the other.
Bailean’s momentum carried him forwards and he slammed into a wall, shaking the building around him and sending bits of loose plaster and stone to the floor. Bailean spun around and ran out the door to rejoin the melee, sword swing furiously. He reached the tight cluster of cultists and Astartes struggling and jumped into the fray. In a complex series of attacks and parries, Bailean managed to take out six of the enemy. He felt the morale of his foes crumbling under the swift and deadly strike of his squad and he went straight for the chief cultist, a tall and thin man garbed in a crimson robe with a silver eight pointed star of Chaos embossed on the back and a pike of heads strapped to his body. He had a las pistol in his left hand and a long, curved and jagged scimitar in the other. On his forehead he had carved the icon of Chaos into his flesh and the skin was sunken and infected. The man had no eyebrows and was completely bald, the sun shinning off his bare scalp. He had long gnarled fingers with long, dirty finger nails. Whatever skin was visible was covered in gaudy and grotesque tattoos and scars. He had many piercing in his ears, nose and lips with a leather bracelet around his wrist with a pair of long spikes sticking into his skin, his blood flowing freely from the wound.
The man was shouting obscenities and curses at Bailean and his men while urging his men onwards. Bailean kicked a cultist in the chest with the force of a charging rhino and he felt his ribs break as his foot connected. A cultist leapt at Bailean and he swung his left hand and caught the man in the stomach, abruptly stopping the man in mid air. Bailean threw the man to the ground and kicked his head in, the man’s brain and bits of skull sticking to Bailean’s armor. Bailean breached the line of gibbering cultists and charged the leader, a bellow on his lips. The man saw Bailean coming and leapt to the side just as Bailean reached him. Bailan rolled and stood up, sword ready. As Bailean got to his feet the man swung his scimitar down at Bailean, but was blocked by Bailean’s sword. Bailean kneed the man in the ribs and cut off his left arm, the man’s blood spurting from what was left of his arm. The man collapsed and Bailean severed his head with a flick of his sword.
With the death of their leader, the mob of cultists broke and they began to make a hasty retreat. Bailean stood his ground and cut down any survivors that crossed his path with great thrusts and swings of his Power Sword.
“After them brothers! For the Emperor!” Bailean yelled and ran after the traitors, his sword raised. Bailean became so consumed in the heat of battle that he forgot about the sandbag bunker and hit’s heavy weapons teams until he felt a heavy bolter round slam into his left shoulder. The force of the bolt knocked him to the ground and knocked the wind out of him. Bailean struggled to his feet as more fire arced across the field towards him and his squad.
“Get over to the left side of the street and take cover!” cried Bailean as more heavy weapons fire raked the ground around him. Bailean got into a crouch and moved as fast as he could to the nearest building. Bailean dove behind a concrete wall and sheathed his sword.
“We’ll never make it up there without covering fire” Said Rees.
“I know who all has made planet fall at this point Rees?” asked Bailean.
“Brother Lemis is only five minutes behind us, Chaplain Xerxes has just landed with the death company about a mile east of here, Sergeant Corthal is just across the street and we’re just landing our armor, plus four tactical squads scattered around the area.”
“Alright, tell Lemis to meet us here, bring up Lacosta squad, have Sergeant Corthal get ready to charge and get the ‘Righteous Destruction’ up here, we’ll need the artillery support.”
“Consider it done Markus.” Bailean nodded to Rees and said,
“We need to move up now, the longer were pinned here, the more time they have to take out the PDF in the center of the city.” Rees was about to speak when a massive blast shook the concrete wall behind Bailean. The blast knocked him onto his stomach and he felt his head slam into a piece of rubble. The world was blurry and slurred for a moment but Bailean recovered and looked around. He cursed as he saw the massive spider like form of a Chaos Defiler, it’s Battle Cannon smoking. Bailean hated Defilers more than almost anything. They were a new terror conceived by the traitor Abaddon to smash through the most secure imperial defenses. They were armed with a massive Battle Cannon and two guns mounted on either side. It had four legs used for walking and carrying its metallic body and another pair used for crushing and smashing its way through battle. The worst part about Defilers was the fact that inside if its metal shell was a Daemon, an angry Deamon. The Daemon drove the nightmare against its will, which made it that much more dangerous.
“Rees, where’s that support?” Bailean said with a hint of urgency in his voice.
“Their all coming up right now Markus, they should be here soon.”
“Soon is not good enough Rees, if you hadn’t noticed there’s a Defiler breathing down our neck!”
“I can’t make them get here any faster Markus, they’ll be here as soon as they can.”
“What about that artillery support? Where’s the ‘Righteous Destruction’?”
“Close, but the short range of its Demolisher cannon is preventing it from taking down the Defiler.”
“Damn, we’ve only got a few moments before that thing smashes us all to peices.” Bailean popped his head put from behind the rock and saw the daemon vehicle smashing it’s way through buildings and knocking it’s own troops aside to reach the advancing Astartes line. Bailean set his bolter on the edge of the concrete wall and fired off a few sots to keep the cultists down. Bailean felt the ground shaking as the Defiler’s massive claws tore up the earth around its feet. They were pinned and they had nowhere to go but back, and as an Astartes, he could nit do that.
“Damnit Rees, where’s the support?”
“Well Lacosta is just in the building behind us and their waiting for order, they’ve just arrived.”
“Get them down here, now!”
“Already done, as a matter of fact, here they come now.” Out of the crumbling building to Bailean’s right came ten Astartes, their blood red armor covered in a thin coat of grey and black dust. At the head of the squad was Sergeant Peter Gulis, an old marine that could have become a veteran if he wanted, but chose to stay with the 4th company.
“Sergeant Gulis, have your rocket launcher fire on that Defiler!”
“It will be done captain!” called Gulis over the noise, “Brother Matnard, open fire on the Defiler!” seconds later, Bailean heard the hiss of a rocket as it went searing pass his head. It took a few seconds to reach the walking monstrosity, but when the rocket his, Bailean knew it was a good shot. The rocket slammed into Defiler’s autocannon and the gun exploded in a blaze of crimson flame. Bailean cheered as the Defiler stumbled and began to teeter onto its right side. The vehicle almost fell over but instead of careening over onto its side, it slammed into a building and righted itself, tearing down more chunks of the ruined building. Bailean cursed and drew his sword as he saw a pack of raving cultists charging their position.
“Charge them!” Bailean cried and he began to sprint towards the black robed lunatics. Bailean felt the earth shake as another blast of the Defiler’s battle cannon slammed into the ground and exploded not ten feet from him. He roared as he felt the red hot adrenaline of battle welling up inside of him and the black rage within him grow and slowly penetrate the weak points in his mental defenses, exposing him fully to the ancient taint in the Blood Angels gene seed.
As he neared the enemy, Bailean opened his mouth and gave a cry of rage, his sword in his right hand and his left hand clenched in a tight fist. The enemy was only a few meters away and he raised his sword high, preparing to smite the foes of the God-Emperor.
“BY THE BLOOD OF SANGUNIUS!” He creid as he slammed into the ranks of the cultists, sending several of them tumbling in a flurry of blows. Bailean felt the grim darkness of the Black Rage smothered his senses and let it all pour forth from his heart in a fury of strokes as his mind was wrenched back 10,000 years to the final battle of the Horus Heresy and the last titanic clash between Horus and Sangunius. Bailean imagined every foe he cut down to have the face of the traitorious Warmaster and he howled with rage as his blade cut through any enemy that opposed him. He felt his last vestiges of sanity being absorbed by the Black Rage and he cried in protest as he fought both the mental and physical manifestations of the enemy. He forced himself to batter away at the black spirit that was on the verge of overwhelming him and sending him into insanity while simultaneously battling the raving followers of Chaos. With each kill, he felt himself regaining control of his mind, and the blackness slipping away back into the far corners of his mind.
“RAGH!” Bailean bellowed as he pulled himself out of the black mire of despair and back into reality, the sounds of battle washing over him once more. Bailean gazed around and saw a pile of corpses where his squad had assaulted the cultists and cut them to pieces. Not one of the traitors had survived and they lay scattered around in mangled heaps of limbs and twisted muscle. Bailean jumped as he heard the mechanical hiss of a great war machine and looked up, the Defiler. Bailean had forgotten about that daemonic war machine and he cursed loudly.
“Rees, where’s our support?” he asked to his friend.
“Close sir, ‘Righteous Destruction’ will be in range momentarily.”
“Momentarily is not good enough Rees, that thing will crush us any second if we don’t get some support!”
“You think I don’t know this Markus? Theres nothing I can do about it.” Bailean grimaced beneath his red Astartes helm and said,
“All right, form a firing line men and prepare to fire on my mark.”
“You mean were gonna stand here and shoot that damn thing?” asked Rees.
“Yes, yes we are Rees.”
“You’re out of your damn mind Markus.”
“We don’t have any other choice Rees.”
“We could always fall back and at least take a better firing position, if you didn’t notice, were in the middle of a street.”
“If we fall back Rees, the cultists will retake this position and we’ll waste another twenty minutes retaking it. No, we will hold here.”
“All right, but I do this under protest Markus.”
“I’m not asking you to like it, I’m asking you to do it.” Rees scowled and said,
“Where do you want me Captain?”
“Alright brothers, form a single man line across the street and get into firing stance.” the Astartes with Bailean obeyed and they began to fan out across the wide main street, hefting their bolters and checking their ammo as they moved. It took only a few seconds for the men to get into their places and Bailean moved into the line next to Rees and said,
“How many times have we made it out of worse decisions than this Rees?”
“Too many to count.”
“And how many of those did we think we’d get killed doing?”
“Most” admitted Rees.
“We’ll be fine.” The Defiler was now within firing range and Bailean called to the Astartes around him,
“Open Fire! In the name of the Emperor, open fire!” A thick salvo of bolter rounds peppered the Defiler’s armor and the massive machine shook off the hits, the powerful rounds merely scratching the armor. Bailean and his Space Marine brothers fired off another round of shots towards the machine, this time, accompanied by a rocket. Once again, the bolter rounds, a .48 caliber bullet, bounced off the amror, but the rocket slammed into the Defiler’s ‘head’ a metal representation of the face of the Daemon bound within, and it exploded. A terrifying roar emmited from the Defiler as the Daemon howled in pain. That was one bonus at least; each hit scored on the Deifiler hurt the Daemon inside. The Defiler dropped all its guns and started charging towards the thin line of Astartes as fast as it could. Bailean growled as the massive machine ran full tilt towards them, an otherworldly howl emanating from its armored shell.
The Space Marines got one more round off before the Defiler reached them, tossing them effortlessly aside with its powerful fore claws. Bailean felt one of the claws connect with his body and he was cast aside and he slammed through the wall of a nearby building. The world was a haze as Bailean regained his senses and slowly clambered to his feet. He looked out through the hole he had made in the wall and saw the Defiler slam one of its claws down on one of Lacosta squads members, crushing the stalwart Marine under the force of the blow. Bailean saw Rees charging the Defiler with his chainsword raised. For a moment Bailean thought that Rees would reach the possessed war machine but at the last second the Defiler kicked out with one of its legs and Rees slammed into a crumbling building. The force of the impact finally broke the last bits of structure the building and as Rees slammed into it, the building collapsed and buried Rees beneath a mountain of rubble.
“REES!” Bailean cried as he saw the dust settle from the collapse. Bailean jumped over the wall and charged the Defiler and unclipped the melta-bomb from his belt. Bailean sheathed his sword and pulled on the handle of the melta-bomb, twisting it as he pulled. He heard the hissing as the bombs automated timer began to count down and he hurled the bomb towards the monster. The bomb rolled for a moment as it landed and then exploded in a blast of orange flame next to one of the Defiler’s legs. The monster within howled in pain as one of its pseudo legs was destroyed and it fell over onto its side. It lay there for a moment, but its incredibly flexible body managed to scramble back onto its feet.
The Defiler looked around to see where the explosion had come from and saw Bailean charging it. The Defiler turned its attention to him and charged at him, slower than it had been before, but no less dangerous. Bailean roared and unsheathed his sword, gripping it in both hands as he ran head on at the charging warmachine. Bailean was only meters away from the Defiler when it raised it’s claws to crush him and he prepared to dodge the attack. But as the Defiler started to bring down its claws, a massive explosion rocked its right side. The force of the blast knocked Bailean to the ground and he felt the earth shake again as another massive explosion slammed into the Defiler. Bailean looked around and saw the Vindicator Battle Tank ‘Righteous Destruction’ plowing its way up the street, its Demolisher cannon smoking.
The Defiler spun to face this new attack and started to step towards it but before it got far, Righteous Destruction fired again, this time slamming into the Defiler’s front. The monster howled as the shell blasted apart its front armor and burned through its skin. Seconds later another shot slammed into the machine, this time severing its chest from its legs. As the metal chaise came apart, the Daemon gave one last monstrous cry and disappeared in a crimson blaze as the power of the warp pulled it back into its arms.
As the steel shell of the Defiler crashed to the ground, Bailean ran over to where Rees was buried under the pile of rubble. Bailean reached the pile of smashed rocks and metal and began to pull away large chunks of the debris as he searched frantically for Rees. After a few minutes, Bailean saw Rees’s red armor and started digging even faster. In a few moments Bailean had uncovered most of Rees’s body and started to pull him out, the grey and black rocks rattling as they shifted. He set Rees down on the ground and glanced at his friend. It only took him a minute to realize that Rees was alive and that he was unconscious. Bailean set about reviving his friend while they were safe, he needed Rees.
Bailean and Rees had been through nearly 250 years of war together and they were as close as they could get. Bailean had been in the scout company for five years when Rees showed up. Rees was placed into Bailean’s squad and they had quickly developed a close bond with one another and as the years passed they had become practically inseparable. Bailean had lost count of how any times they had saved each others lives and how many battles they had fought side by side. When Bailean had been made captain of the 4th company, Rees had been his first choice to lead his personal guard and to command the company in his place.
It only took a few moments for Bailean to revive Rees, who came up coughing.
“I’m glad to see your alive” Said Bailean.
“Good to know that I can count on you to dig me out of big piles of rubble in the future” Rees jested. Bailean grinned beneath his helmet and grabbed Rees by the elbow.
“C’mon, let’s go. We’ve got a city to conquer.” Rees nodded and scrambled to his feet, bits of rock falling off his armor as he shifted. Bailean signaled for the marines to regroup around him and when they all arrived he spoke.
“If you all look to the east, you’ll see a large black tower.” The men looked around and nodded when they found the tower. “That tower is the highest point in the city and is an excellent vantage point for enemy commanders and snipers; I’d like to take a brief detour and pay it a visit before we move on towards the center of the city and secure it if there are any enemy troops inside it. Fulong and Bretonia squads will be waiting for us there and once we’ve cleared out the tower we’ll move on and take out that building there.” Bailean signaled towards a low, flat roofed building roughly a mile off. “That’s where their commander is based according to the PDF reports and if we take him out their army will fall apart, form up across the street with Sergeant Corthal and Righteous Destruction taking the center of the street, Lacosta Squad moving up the left and myself and the Honor Guard moving along the right side, make sure to take cover behind anything you can, we don’t know the full layout of the enemy force so they could have men hiding anywhere, now move out.”
The pack of Astartes split off into their separate groups and darted along the street, the orange evening sky still peppered with drop pods and landing craft. As they ran Bailean finally got a good look at the city he was fighting in. It was like every other Imperial city he had fought in, big, grey and intimidating. The sheer scale of some of these cities amazed Bailean, he had lived on Baal Secundus all his life, a barren wasteland of a planet, but when he was required to fight inside of a city, he was always speechless. Their colossal beauty reminded him of the power of the Emperor that only under his guiding hand was all this possible. The most shocking part of all was the vast numbers of people who lived within the cities. Millions of people all living in the same space and sharing the same air. While he was fascinated by cities, he still preferred the open air of the desert. Most of the surrounding buildings were made of grey and black stone with touches of color every once in a while. Several of the buildings appeared to be made purely out of glass except for the interior which from this distance, looked like the inside of every other building Bailean had ever seen. Many of the buildings bore the mark of the Imperium of Man, the twin headed eagle or aquila and several of the structures exteriors were littered with pamphlets and flyers. The wide streets were strewn with rubble and debris.
As they ran towards the tower, Bailean saw several faces poke out from behind walls and from beneath windows. Bailean knew they were civilians right away, their enemy wouldn’t be so stupid as to let them see him unless there was no other choice. Bailean wondered what it would be like for these people to see the Blood Angels Space Marines running through their streets fighting in the name of the Emperor, their weapons hot and their hands bloody. Bailean was running along the sidewalk of a street when an old crone hobbled out of a house ahead of Bailean
“Stop! Please stop!” she called to Bailean as he ran forwards. Bailean came to a slow stop, motioning to his brothers to do the same. Bailean halted in front of the old woman and said,
“Yes miss?” the old woman looked terrified by the sight of the massive Astartes warrior and for a moment Bailean thought she wouldn’t speak, but then she spoke,
“Thank you for fighting to defend our city from these corrupt followers of false gods.”
“It is my duty to protect the innocent and my honor to slay the heretic, my life is nothing without war, my soul empty without vengeance. It is my fate to defend the Imperium.”
“Take this” said the woman as she pulled a dirty and torn cloth from a pouch on her long, brown robe, “It was my sons before he was taken away by the heretics to be made a sacrifice to their foul gods. He always wished to see an Astartes before he died, this is the most I can do to honor his memory. Please sir, take it, for my son.” Bailean reached down and gently accepted the offering from the old woman, when his hand made contact with hers; he realized how small she truly was and how much of a giant he must seem to her.
“Thank you Astartes, thank you much. I will tell all the Imperium of your goodness.”
“I am just a simple soldier, nothing more.”
“What is your name Astartes?” the old woman asked as she looked up into his eyes.
“Bailean, Captain Markus Bailean.”
“Thank you Markus Bailean for honoring the memory of my son.” As she spoke, she turned around and ran back into her house, a small trail of dust following her as she ran.
“Now that that’s over with” said Rees, “Can we get going?” Bailean nodded and signaled for the men to continue their advance towards the tower and they all began to sprint down the road.
As they ran, Bailean began to feel a strange sense of foreboding that pervaded from every building they passed, as though the houses were inhabited by some otherworldly creatures that meant to destroy all of them. The group ran through the streets and as they reached they reached the tower, they came to a halt and looked up at it. The tower was huge, at least three hundred meters tall and half as wide. It was solid black and a purple light emanated from all the windows and cracks in the building. There were many windows along the exterior of the building and each was covered in metal bars as black as the building they were part of. At the very pinnacle of the structure was a long, golden spike that jutted up towards the sky and bore a strange symbol, a circle on the end of a thin line with two crescent moons, each facing a different direction, the symbol of the Chaos god Slaneesh. The building looked more like it had been grown that had been built and as they grew nearer to it, emanated a faint groaning sound.
Bailean signaled for them to halt and they stopped behind the remains of a crumbling building. Bailean crouched down behind a wall and peered over the shattered edge. The courtyard around the tower was empty, not a soul to be seen.
“Alright, here’s the plan” Bailean said as the men gathered around him, “Righteous Destruction and Locosta, you’ll stay out here and make sure nobody enters the building, Rees and Corthal, you’ll bring your squads with me and we’ll storm the tower.” The soldier nodded and broke off to accomplish their assigned tasks.
“Markus, I have a bad feeling about this.” Said Rees as Bailean hopped over the wall.
“Me too Rees, but it must be done” replied Bailean.
“Let’s just have the Thunderhawks bomb it and move on.”
“I have a suspicion that that won’t work.”
“Let’s at least try? Just to make sure were not going in needlessly.” Bailean nodded and signaled for Righteous Destruction to fire on the building. Seconds later, the Demolisher Cannon mounted on the hull of the Vindicator fired and the massive, steel shell. The projectile slammed into the side of the tower and exploded in a great burst of fire and smoke. It took a minute for the smoke to clear, but when it did, it revealed flawless spot where the shell had struck the building.
“As I suspected, nothing” Bailean commented.
“Damn” Said Rees. Bailean chuckled and said,
“Were you expecting anything less?”
“Not really, just hoping. I hate dealing with daemons.”
“Same, despite the fact that the PDF reports said there were no daemons on the planet, doesn’t mean that there won’t be.”
“My point exactly.”
“Well, there’s no point in sitting around doing nothing, let’s go in.” Rees nodded and Bailean signaled for the squads to follow him. The band of Astartes darted across the open ground surrounding the tower until they reached the entrance, a large, black door about six meters high and two meters across. The handles were ornately wrought with gold filigree and leaf and were formed into the shape of a screaming face.
“This is a good sign.” Rees added as the group fell silent. As they sat in silence the moaning from the building grew louder, as though it knew blood would be spilled inside its corrupted halls. Bailean tried the door knob and found it to be open. He pushed on the door and it slid open silently revealing a great room immediately inside the tower.
The room was enormous, taking up at least a third of the towers height. The room eminated a faint hue of violet and crimson torches burned around the circular room. In the center of the room was a massive statue, a twisted and mangled figure of steel wood flesh and bone. It appeared at first, as though the statue was stationary, but after further examination, Bailean discovered it to be shifting and changing, pulsating with the rhythm of the moaning. Along the walls of the room were images of complete, brutal pleasure. Men standing atop massive piles of corpses, their bodies drenched in the blood of their foes, writhing masses of people engaged in ritualistic orgies soaked in the blood of the participants, men being drawn and quartered as they cried in pleasurable agony and men laughing as they cut off their own limbs. This was truly a house of Slaneesh, the Chaos god of excess.
Bailean stepped closer to the statue in the center of the room, the moaning becoming more intense. As he got closer, the speed of the statues pulsing and movement increased and the ball of flesh, bone, metal and wood began to grow slowly, larger as if taking power from the presence of the Astartes.
“Bailean, be careful.” Said Rees as Bailean drew ever closer to the writhing mass.
“I am, what do you think this is?” Bailean replied as he halted and began to gaze more intently at the object.
“What ever it is, it’s not good, so let’s get moving shall we?”
“Good idea” Bailean said as he turned and stepped away from the statue, “we need to ge-“ Bailean was cut off mid sentence as a powerful something slammed into his back, knocking him flat on his stomach. Bailean hit the ground hard and as he landed he saw Rees and the others open fire. Bailean rolled over onto his back and saw the statue shifting even more, taking on a human like shape.
Within moments it had formed a colossal monster, the bone and wood used to sustain its structure while the skin and metal had formed its flesh. It was at least twenty feet tall and was awkwardly built. One arm was bigger than the other and its chest muscles were so twisted that they were breaking through the skin in places. Its legs were short and appeared weak, but in Bailean’s experience, nothing about a creature from the warp was weak. One hand was identical to a human hand except that the muscles underneath it were so large they were on the verge of splitting the skin. On the larger arm, the hand was a massive four part claw, each pincer lined with jagged and uneven spikes. Out of the left shoulder a massive, curved bone spike split the skin and was covered in green pus that dripped onto the floor. Its head was similar to that of an alligator but it was shorter and had a distinctly malevolent appearance. Its two large eyes had no pupils and glowed so fiercely pink that the light from them shone into the room. Its pink skin was covered in a thin film of blood that appeared to come from nowhere and that formed pools on the floor.
As the monster finished forming it gave one great howl, raising its head upwards and gnashing its teeth. Bailean jumped to his feet and hefted his bolter,
“Open fire!” Bailean called to the astartes around him and in second the sounds of bolter fire were echoing around the hall. Bailean watched as many of the shells peppered the creature’s hide and exploded in bursts of blood. The creatre roared in rage and charged the band of space marines, its massive head lowered. Bailean jumped aside as the monster attacked and rolled to his feet and drawing his sword in one fluid motion. As the creature barreled by him and slammed into brother Gergorio, knocking the astartes into the far wall, Bailean plunged his power sword into the creatures hip, the sword tearing through flesh and searing anything it touched. The monster howled in pain and swung its arm around and slammed it into Bailean. Bailean tried to dodge the attack, but was caught off guard and he was flung awkwardly through the air.
As he came to rest, Bailean stood up and raised his sword to attack. The daemon was engaged with the rest of his battle brothers and he charged it from behind. Just before he reached the monster, it scooped up Gergorio in its massive claw and crushed the astartes in n explosion of blood and bone.
“Brother Gergorio!” Bailean cried as the creature tossed his comrades shattered body to the floor. Bailean saw one of Corthal’s squad; smash his power fist into the monsters side, tearing open a massive wound in the monsters chest. Bailean roared and charged the creature, swinging his sword wildly, its white and blue energy crackling as it passed through the air. Bailean brought the blade across one of the creature’s frail legs and he felt as the blade severed the limb, a trail of blood flowing from the wound. The daemon cried as it collapsed to the ground, swinging its arms wildly. As it toppled to the ground, it grabbed one of Terminator squad Herois in its claw and cut the astartes in half. Bailean darted along the length of the creatures body until he reached its head, where his sword and plunged it into the monsters throat. As the sword tore open the jaw of the daemon, the monster gave a loud cry of pain and fell apart, its body collapsing and turning into a useless pile of rubble.
“How are we?” asked Bailean as the last of the daemon clattered to the ground.
“We lost two” said Rees, “brother Gergorio and brothers Hulof of Herois, other than that we’re doing fine.”
“Right, let’s get going and see if we can’t find a way up to the higher levels of the tower.” As Bailean finished speaking he heard a sultry and smooth voice call to him form behind.
“There won’t be any need for that Captain.” Bailean spun around and saw a thin mist forming in front of the towers entrance. “You won’t be going anywhere for a quite sometime actually.” The voice said and the mist began to take on a more corporeal form, it grew tall and thin, forming arms, legs and a head. As the mist took shape, the moaning of the tower grew louder and louder, till it was almost a scream drowning out all noise except the voice of the mist.
The mist began to solidify and take on a color as the moaning grew louder. It’s legs formed first, each one taller than Bailean, they were like the hind legs of a horse except that they were milky white, with black and purple mixed in. Next it formed the torso, a large replica of a human female’s torso, except that there was only one breast. Then the arms, two of them sported black, pincer hands while the other two were large and gnarled versions of human hands. Then the head formed, it was the head of a mule but instead of ears it sported massive horns and in its mouth was rows upon rows of pointed teeth. As its body coalesced into a Keeper of Secrets, a greater daemon of Slaneesh, a massive sword formed and floated in the air next to it. It reached out and grabbed the sword and spoke,
“I am Ulno’ Berthis and today you will all die.”
WE ARE THE SONS OF SANGUINIUS AND WE KNOW NO FEAR
Back in the 40k saddle after a long break.