The Prophet's War
This was something I typed up on Bolthole, with a lot of views. Thought I would expose it here as well but with some more background.
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The Prophet has returned!
And with him he brings the word of the gods!
For the past twenty years the Prophet has passed through the broken worlds of the Darkvale; a cluster of several dozen worlds dedicated to the Old Faith, hidden in the unclaimed fringes of the galactic north east of the Sagittarius Arm between the Mordant Zone and the cursed, enemy worlds of Ultramar.
The sacred messenger walked amongst the believers, rousing the warring tribes and systems to unite, to gather for the common cause of the gods and to bring immolation to the infidel and illumination to the ignorant!
For ten bloody years the worlds resisted the Prophet and his Word and with regret in his heart and a tear in his cheek he unleashed his armies, favoured of the gods, upon those who rejected his pleas of unity.
Thus the great Cull began.
Legion warriors, armour clad giants called the Space Marines loyal to chaos returned to the Vales in force and were unleashed upon the worlds; the Prophets own loyal Huskarl Brotherhoods and the implacable Blackhand Cohorts of tithed to the Prophet by the Ancient Seven marched beside them to war.
Foremost amongst the enemies were the remnants of the Khedur Empire, the roving clan companies of the Vaanor Clanites. Besides them a thousand other martial cults and armies that peppered the wartorn worlds opposed the new messenger, but the when the Cull descended all that were against the Prophet fell dead or to his sacred feet in obeisance, for there was none who could not look upon him and feel regret for their folly and faith renewed under a chosen guide.
Ten years they fought a bloody war as the Vales were dragged into unison once more under their rightful master, the Prophet.
The sacred guide enacted laws to better the peoples, the starving were no longer hungry, the thirsty were no longer parched, technology and faith combined to leech the suffering the unending wars had bought, but the converted were belligerent and numerous and were ready and ripe for the next phase of the plan from the gods.
The prophet preached to them of their true enemy, the Corpse God and his Imperium!
The old way had soon returned, the ancient martial orders that were broken were once more rebuilt, the destructive wars had ceased, in place of battlefields weaponsmiths and forgemaster from the Maelstrom made their abodes.
The Hundred Worlds within the Darkvales armed and prepared for war as old rivalries were put aside and the black pacts made to the warp and in the Prophet’s name.
A hundred worlds cheered the name of Khas! The Prophet had returned, and the Imperium would pay as the Sacred Hosts spilled from the Vale and into the unready Imperium of man.
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The soldier travelled his evening patrol route solemnly, his weapon slung about his shoulder and his rank of subedar crest stamped on his drab red combat armour.
A medallion of the pantheon star hung from his neck and the same sigil was carved on his crimson helmet and rebreather unit. A unit patch on his brown fatigues with sigil and six blades indicated he was of the Sixth Clan Company.
Confined roads and alleys of Lorterstown’s inner blocks were annoyingly compact, but easy to guard, single man patrol was the norm as resistance was long gone from the township.
The subedar had volunteered for his squad’s rostered rotation, to the surprise of his troopers, he wanted them to be rested after the successful persecution of their sacred duties in the southern provinces.
He was a harsh taskmaster, but their efforts against the PDF were exemplary, commendations and medallions were already given out by their Sardar-Commander, what little rest they got would only be beneficial to him.
Three entire regiments of the enemy were destroyed in a major action near the southern massifs. He still remembered the day as he marched with his oathed outfit; the Eighth Host of the Sedukh Warclans, the Sedukhar, tithed to the Lord Khas in his holy war-effort. Yes, his men deserved their rest.
But the subedar had other reasons to find himself alone on a patrol, he still felt regret for losing two of his warriors, they had of course sworn their lives to the cause of the Prophet, yet he regretted the way they died. Bad deaths were never a good sign to the fortune of the squad, seeing how it had been chosen to the elite cadre after their garrison tour.
The clanking chains from the shuffling and shambling prisoners broke the subedar's reverie and he continued his circuit into the town
The prisoners overseen by interdictor-guards were whitewashing an old group of Administratum buildings of the signs and words of the Imperium.
Farther down the street a group of ordained acolytes, new converts to the True Faith, scribbled runes and symbols that assailed their minds and dreams, an after effect of the initiation rites to the Temple of the Warp Pantheon.
A floating skull shaped object studded with red visual slits and clusters of antennas scanned the writings and gleaned some information from them that was beyond the subedar.
One of the interdictors raised his free hand in a salute with a clash of his mailed fist over his heart.
The Subedar nodded in return and walked on.
A half track carrier advanced down the main central road and the driver gave a hearty wave and halted the carrier. The Subedar recognized the four eyed driver named Vargu as his squad’s assigned driver during their southern campaign.
“Subedar Haum, by the gods it is well to see you, what brings a leader amongst the wretches?”
The Subedar nodded and studied the scaled face of the driver, “Well to see you, Var, I am on patrol duty for now.”
The driver looked surprised, “A Subedar? A Serapis even, serkar?”
“Why not? Only fair that my warriors sleep while I share their burden, and my familial name is for me alone to speak,” he chuckled, “Lest I rip your tongue and feed it to my dogs.”
The driver nervously smiled exposing brown, dirty teeth. A random vox blurt distracted the driver for a moment and he reached the cabin vox and began twisting the dials, “Damned thing, signals' been playing havoc all morning, serkar. Fleet was on alert was the notice, now it is all jumbled.”
Haum was about to ask why, when a blinding explosion ripped through the building across the street, vaporising a group of interdictors and a dozen of the chained acolytes working on the walls.
The subedar was thrown from his feet and fell hard onto the wall of the old hab unit ten meters from where he stood.
He began to sink into blackness an abyss of nothing, his mind aflame with searing heat. A sudden flash brought him back from the brink as a bang sounded somewhere close to him.
Something hard smacked into his rib, winded and half-conscious Haum began to gain consciousness from the pain of the impact.
Instinctively he started to crawl away from the firestorm he felt in front of him through his faceplate, shots smacked the ground about him, a lancing pain shot through his ribs once again and then dissipated, he felt something hard ricochet from his helmet, jerking his head back, but he crept on without pause until he got to the foot of a building, he craned his aching neck up to see a blown out and open window.
Cover, his mind intepreted the tactical situation.
Using all the strength he had left the Haum Serapis dragged himself into the window of the building he was thrown against; shots chased his retreat and puffs of plascrete and pulverized masonry spat from the abused walls of the place.
The Subedar was slowly gaining his wits and groped for his rifle strap, he found the strap, but the rifle was missing, he cursed under his rebreather and threw the strap away.
He felt a sudden sharp pain and reached down to his aching rib feeling a still hot gash through his gloves, las round, he assumed.
Intense weapons fire sounded outside followed by the rush of boots and shouting men.
Something heavy crashed against the door of the building, ten meters from where Haum barely sat, again something crashed at the door, he realised he was hearing the sound of boots ramming against the frame of it.
The enemy was trying to get in.
He needed a weapon, the subedar reached for his sidearm and pulled it from its holster, he checked the charge of the laspistol, it was a full green, ten shots on maximum charge, and he had to make it count.
Suddenly the door blew off its hinges and men in light blue and white urban combat fatigues and flak vests barged in rifles to their cheeks.
They definitely weren’t from his outfit.
The subedar took aim and fired, the pistol cracked and whined in his hand as he put two cauterized holes through the visors of the first two troopers, the third leapt away from the door toward a cabinet and flipped the nearby heavy table over as cover.
The Sedukhar was on his feet and he ran behind a couch adjacent to him, as a dozen las shots splintered the wall he was leaning on, just a second ago.
Something clipped his shoulder pad and the sizzling smell of blood entered his nostrils.
Ignoring the pain Haum raised his profile up to a crouch; his pistol aimed at the approximate area of the third trooper and fired three shots.
Haum heard a howl and the trooper broke cover with a bayonet affixed lasrifle and charged at the couch the subedar was behind, just then two more soldiers ran into the building weapons up.
The Subedar weighed his options within that moment as lethal lasbolts flew overhead, none of the options were good, he was bleeding, nearly out of ammunition and he was sure that the world had just been invaded by the Imperials, oddly he realised also that the poor bastard Var and his beloved carrier had shielded him from the worst of the explosion.
So as pragmatic as he always was accused of the subedar drew his ritual war-knife, consecrated and forged with his blood mixed in the steel and gave a short prayer to the Warp Powers for a worthy death.
With a terrible battle cry to Khorne, the war god, Haum leapt over the shot up couch and laid into the advancing trooper.
The bayonet wielding imperial lunged at him, the strike was weak and confused in the rush of the charge and the blade scraped the combat armour and slid over Haum's shoulder guard.
The subedar taking advantage of the poor skill thrust his blade into the exposed neck of the trooper, with a gush of blood the tip erupted on the other side, severing the imperial soldier’s spine.
There was a momentary struggle then the body fell limp the weight of it shifting on to the subedar.
Gathering his last reserves of strength Haum pushed ahead with the body as a shield, the other two troopers fired and the subedar fired the last of his shots in reply all the while advancing at them.
The two remaining imperials fell dead one shot in the neck the other through his visor, the subedar stood there, the limp body resting on him, his knife still stuck in the enemy throat and wondered how he is still alive.
“Blood for the blood god!” Haum whispered as he pried the knife out of the imperials neck and let the body drop like a sack of spoiled grain.
Haum discharged the expended cell from the pistol and retrieved a spare cell for his weapon, slotting it home with a click and whine he checked the scene once more.
Learning from the enemy dead was a tactical as well as practical priority; the persecution of this crusade and war itself against the Imperium would only succeed through the understanding of the enemy. The theories and lectures given by the Heralds of Khas said as much, to fight any threat; one must first know what it is.
Haum noticed that they all wore the same fatigues and armour; most carried a lasrifle of a pattern he was unfamiliar with. However he did identify them as guardsmen and the patched on their shoulders indicated that they were Elysian, it meant nothing to him.
Haum grunted in pain as he bent down and picked up the weapon, a sudden thunderous quake shook the building and heard more of the weapons fire and the rattle of tanks outside, he paused.
Something wasn’t right here, slowly Haum approached the window he came through and peered out at the smoke and fire filled street, mobs of Imperial Guardsmen were racing through it and a couple of immense beastly tanks in rust brown and beige began rolling steadily and firing at distant targets.
The subedar was still amazed at how the Imperials had so thoroughly vexed the planetary defences and landed right into the heart and meat of their occupation in the north-eastern sectors.
Something began clicking in his ear, he realised his vox was still online, he thanked the Gods and dialled his squad code, he got static in reply.
He dialled his company code, nothing.
Haum began fearing the worst now.
He feared that he maybe alone, surrounded by enemies.
The world of Kanith was a cold and ruined battlefield, one of the many worlds fallen to the sweeping advance of the Chaos armies within the sub-sector from the Vales.
A reply from the Prophet, beloved of the Gods, for the dishonour they did to him and to pursue the destiny of return; the conquest of worlds that would start the fall of the Imperium.
Fire, war and riches awaited them beyond the Vale, an entire empire decadent in their ways and corrupt in faith, at the verge of dying yet powerful in arms.
The promises, the pacts, the sheer amount of sacrifices that each of the worlds had made were immense, the conversion of entire populations in to the war machine of the prophet.
Such glories and horrors he had seen, all in the name of the True Gods, the monoliths of the warp who ruled and saw all.
The subedar considered these things when he awoke that cold, ruined morning under a roof full of the dead enemy.
But the reality was worse than he had expected, the firefight was still in full swing outside, with his stolen lasgun and a dozen clips, he deigned to break out and find a way out of the town.
First he needed to get a bearing on how to get out of the town and where to run; he fished into one of his pouches and came away with an old cracked map that came with his garrison order.
He splayed it flat on the ground and began to trace his hand on the street lines and crude markings that constituted the parts of the town and the roads out.
According to what he remembered before the attack he was on the single large main street that bisected the town into two sections, the north section and the south section. Haum reckoned himself to be somewhere near the north west of the northern section, three hundred meters from the north-west barracks.
He began checking all the landmarks he could see from the windows of what he found were a leisurely two storied summer house of the previous owners.
Haum spied a firestorm over the north-west barracks, to the south near his barrack there was smoke plumes leading toward the watchtower near his barrack, there was heavy fighting and explosions all about that area, seemed that the barrack was holding, but distant lumbering forms of tanks and collapsing buildings indicated it won’t be for much longer.
Haum observed that his only way out was the south-east; the fighting hadn’t spread toward the area for some unknown reason, he hoped that was because it was still in garrison hands.
The subedar collected his weapon and slowly crept toward the door, cautiously aiming his weapon at the street outside.
As he reached the door frame the subedar swung his rifle up and checked either stretches of the road, he carefully stepped outside and saw two enemy troopers jogging away from him.
Haum took aim and fired, the subedar found that the weapon was light and did not kick as much as the rifle he used; the lasgun sprayed a brilliant flash of solid blue rounds that ripped and shredded the unwary guardsmen, both fell ignorant of their killer.
Wearily, Haum approached the bodies carefully covering all corners of the nearby buildings and alleys, advancing down the ruined street his rifle up to his chin and his posture intent on harm.
He kicked over one of the bodies and saw that they were wearing a different set of fatigues to the dead Elysians, he couldn’t identify the patches as they were burnt and scored by his las shots, he kicked the other one over.
This one wasn’t dead and gurgled something, Haum put a round into his heart as soon as he memorized the patch; the two were from the 74th Hekartus Armoured.
A sudden noise startled Haum, his rifle raised the subedar began scanning the long stretch of road before him. He heard the clattering and grunting of a engine.
Two buildings over a palisade collapsed as an armoured vehicle crunched onto the street on broad tracks.
Haum was immediately on his feet and running, in the opposite direction.
The tank's turret gears whined as its cannon turned toward him, then with a wash of flame and a loud bang it fired.
The shell went over his head and hit the terrace of a building adjacent to Haum, autoguns and las bolts chased his retreat as he turned into an alley and gathered speed to vault a chain fence.
Haum felt his chest compress as he laboured himself, the wound at his ribs ached; his booted feet propelled him forward, he grabbed the top railing of the fence and hauled himself over the fence on to an opposite street.
He checked the street and found it abandoned, he turned to his planned route and began advancing to the south-east.
Within a few moments Haum came across three dozen dead, all imperials gunned down in a compact alley.
The next street over, Haum came across Subedar Rushil and his squad, all dead and before them lay the three ruined Chimera carriers and two dozen dead guardsmen.
A good account, Haum concluded as he picked through the dead comrades. He discarded his stolen weapon and took Rushil’s more familiar pattern lasgun stamped with the icon of the pantheon star and the bead charms of Rushil’s clan; he also took the explosives on the soldiers and a rocket launcher he slung across his back.
In one of the packs he found a small chapbook stamped with the black sigil of the Prophet, the chaos star over the Eternal Flame.
In a silent moment of loneliness, he kissed the book and touched it to the temples of the dead and muttered a short prayer before leaving.
He found his lonely walk exhausting and futile at times.
Street after street was littered with the dead and dying populace or defenders of the town, he came across a few scampering locals who grovelled and prayed to him for protection, he shot the first few so the others wouldn’t approach him, after that they kept out of his way.
Within the hour of his trek however he came across a firefight between a throng of Sedukhar troopers and a company of Elysian guardsmen with a behemoth tank with different crests to that of the Elysians.
The troopers were stuck in a wide clothing complex and were hemmed in toward the central plaza where they held against the assaulting Elysians, the tank was firing volleys into the building weakening its structure intent on burying the warriors inside.
Knowing his vantage in the firefight, he approached the rear of the engaging unit, he noticed that in the haste to assault they had not covered their rear and were wide open to insurgency, he smiled.
The first two troopers beside the tank wielding long las sniper rifles, did not hear him approach, with two quick shots he put them down, a fire team adjacent them in cover; noticed the lack of suppressing fire from nearby and turned to see the Subedar aiming his rocket launcher at them, before they could react the fire-team erupted in a wash of fire and blood.
Without losing a moment he shot down another three of the Elysians before approaching the tank, he removed the explosives from his belt and set it near the growling engine block of the vehicle’s rear.
Haum set the timer and looked up to see a dozen Elysians advancing toward him, he smiled and ran.
The guardsmen began firing and advancing toward the doomed tank as Haum ran to a nearby husk of a once-vehicle and threw himself behind it; the tank erupted in a massive fireball within moments and the clutch of guardsmen after him perished in the fire of the tanks death.
The confused Elysians’ fire began to drop as they tried to find the source of their tanks death and began to fall back.
Right toward Haum’s cover, he cocked his rifle and prepared to kill affixing his war knife to the rifle he charged out and shot three of the enemy, bayoneted the fourth kicked the fifth down and shot him in the head, two shots punched his shoulder plates and another pinged on his face plate and cracked his glare-visor, more shots drove him back to cover behind the ruined land car.
Haum checked himself and found no new wounds, other than an aching jaw and a malfunctioning rebreather, otherwise he was combat ready; replacing his spent las cell Haum took a firing position began to gun down the approaching Elysians.
The two Sedukhar squads freed from the enemy suppression advanced across the open entrance of the building and caught the retreating Elysians in disciplined volleys, a stubber team set up and hosed the area gunning a dozen guardsmen before changing position.
The troopers cheered as they advanced against the Elysians, their war knives in hand throwing grenades and howling oaths to the gods. Two of them fell to the few Elysians still keeping their wits.
Haum lobbed a few grenades at the Elysians and readied for a second charge, he gave a small prayer and erupted from cover firing from the hip until his weapon clicked dry.
Within moments last of the Elysians were dead or dying; the troopers cursed them and laughed praising the gods for their deliverance.
Subedar Haum advanced slowly toward the cheering troopers, his rifle gripped across his chest his finger on the trigger, “Who leads here?”
The surprised troopers looked at each other unsure of what to make of the new comer.
“And who are you of the sacred Hosts to ask us that?” asked one of the soldiers.
Haum tapped his battered breastplate’s sigil, “So fast you forget to recognize by rank, warrior. Subedar Haum.”
The troopers suddenly felt cowed and bowed their heads in compliance, one of them stepped forward; this one wore an open faced helmet like his kin and had scarred armour and a young, dirt streaked face, “We apologize subedar, the blood of battle courses through us. This is our first time and the Blood Lord’s call echoes in our skulls.”
Haum grunted in amusement, “You are fresh bloods?”
The youth bristled at the title, “We are hunters all, but warriors we are not yet.”
Haum chuckled and shook his head, “What clans do you oath to?”
The soldiers all looked at the helmetless youth, “Keshar house, Subedar Haum. I am Reigner Kobutha’s first son, Kolan. These are my brothers and sisters oathed with me, born on the same day and all oathed to my father.”
Haum unclasped his damaged helm and uncoupled his rebreather set and threw it on the ground, he took a deep breath of the burning, bloody air.
“It is suffocating wearing that all the time. You have the right idea, Kolan, an open helmet without the damned gear”, he said indicating at his ruined helmet.
The youth studied Haum’s leathery, scarred face carefully, the bronzed skin and the reptilian eyes and the ridged chin indicated he was one of the warriors from the central clans of their homeworld Khedur, possibly a clansmen from the venerable Serapis hordes.
“We...were certain we would perish here. But for the miracle of the metal beasts death.”
“Metal beast...the tank you mean? Yes? No miracle that. I did that.”
The troopers’ eyes widened in surprise, “You are of the bravest clans then, my subedar.”
“I suppose I am,” Haum replied with amusement in his tone, “You are now nominally under my command.”
The warriors all drew their blades in a ceremonious move. Haum raised his gloved hand and stopped them.
“Oaths are during the eve of wars and battles, not in the middle of a war. Now tell me this, what in the warp is happening here? My vox set is malfunctioning and the sudden appearance of all these guardsmen vexes me.”
“The enemy fell from the sky, much like how we came here, except that they flew with metal boxes on their backs, subedar,” the youth explained, “Weapons on ships bigger than mountains shot out pieces of this place to hell. I saw them float west in the sky.”
Haum nodded and considered the information for a moment; the boy was describing orbital strikes by ships in-atmosphere, that must mean the fleet was compromised he listened to the others explain how the ‘sky split as loud birds spew men at them,’ yet he could not make sense of the time frame or the sudden assault so deep into the conquered system.
He must have been knocked out for a long time for the imperials to touch down right after an orbital strike. He shook the thought from his head and looked back at the troopers.
“Why are your lot and you here? I don’t believe young warriors are sent to garrison duties.”
“We were here on a combat purge in one of the outer hamlets, subedar, under the command of Sardar Feghan North-West barracks.”
Haum tutted, Ferghan was a senior commander of the 3rd Clan Company, “He is most likely dead. Last I saw his barracks, it was on fire.”
Kolan looked upset at this and whispered something.
“You can pray later, young blood. Now our task is to leave this place and warn our brother hosts that the enemy is come.”
The young Kolan nodded, “Lead us then, subedar. We will follow you and learn.”
Haum smiled and waved them to follow him.
Now all he had to do was find a way out of the doomed town, Haum thought bitterly.
There is no intelligence. Only degrees of Idiocy.
Last edited by Exitus_10; 07-11-13 at 02:23 AM.