Brother Buachalla slammed another magazine into his bolter and brought it back up to the aim.
It was too late.
Six Hormagaunt warriors had broken away from the rest of the swarm and were now converging on him. He managed to fire a single round before he was overwhelmed in a flurry of movement and slashing talons. He was already dead when the plasma grenade fell from his hand and detonated.
Another sacrifice for a cause that was already lost.
Sergeant Faoláin dived flat as the Hormagaunts were engulfed in a super-heated fireball.
I shall meet you in Mag’Mell my Brother. I will not be long. Tell that hoary bastard Barra to clear a space at the table for me when I come.
He rolled onto his side as his comm-link crackled to life.
+ …re-deploy, repeat, all units re-deploy to the Space Port. Extraction protocols are now in effect +
Faoláin checked his own Bolter. It was covered in a film of yellow slime but he knew that it would fire when he needed it. He tapped the side of his helmet.
“This is Faoláin, any of the first squad still with me?”
A series of mortar rounds landed in quick succession just beyond his position. A loud moan went up followed by screams of the dying. Faoláin allowed himself a satisfied grin.
“First Squad sound off…”
+ Floinn here. I am about twenty yards from you. I am over here by the knocked-out Rhino +
Faoláin dared a glance around the ruined wall and located the vehicle. He saw movement, a hand waving.
“Move on my position Brother, we are moving back.”
There was a long pause before Floinn answered him.
+ I am sorry Sergeant. That will not be possible. I am debilitated +
Faoláin felt his choler rising. Floinn had always been an argumentative, rebellious pain-in-the-backside who teetered at the point of insubordination, but as a heavy flamer marine, he had no equal.
“In that case, I am coming over to you. Watch my back.”
An enormous Carnifex suddenly appeared out of the smoke and dust like a giant from old mythology. It was a mottled blue and white in colour and looked too large and cumbersome to do anything other than overawe everyone with its presence. Faoláin knew different. It was a living engine of destruction that would waylay this area unless they could take it out.
+ I see it Brother +
Faoláin saw a glint from the other position and then two Krak grenades exploded against the Carnifex’s carapace, ripping off shreds of its armour and causing it to rear up on his hind legs. It bellowed in defiance, and despite the audio-dampers inside his helmet, Faoláin was temporary deafened.
A pack of Raveners poured around the Carnifex like a flood of blue and white death and headed towards Floinn. They screamed and chittered and waved their deadly talons in the air like a sign for all to see. We bring you death.
There was a high-pitched hiss followed by an eye-blinding brightness and the Tyrannids disappeared in a spear of flame.
Faoláin was on his feet and running, screaming the war cry of the Raptors.
“For Corax! For the Emperor!”
He emptied his magazine into the Carnifex’s thorax which exploded in a cloud of gore and blood. Another jet of flame bracketed the beast and it rapidly caught fire and melted before their eyes. It died an agonising death, a fitting end for such an abomination.
It was a minor victory, but the enemy was now fully alerted to their position
Faoláin jumped down into his comrade’s position and knew right away that for them, the war was over. Floinn had removed his helmet and grinned up at him through white teeth. He was propped up against the hull of the Rhino with his Heavy Flamer cradled in his arms. There was nothing but a tangled mass of red meat and blood below his waist.
As if noticing his wounds for the first time he shook his head and then shrugged his shoulders.
“I regret Sergeant, that I shall not be joining you.” Faoláin mag-locked his Bolter to his side and knelt down and examined his Brothers injuries. The wounds had sealed and his body was repairing itself, but with all the toxic spores and poisons in the atmosphere, his super-enhanced physiology would eventually be overcome and he would die an agonising death.
Faoláin placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder guard.
“I have lost too many men already today. I will not lose another. I will carry you to the Space port if I have to.” Floinn shook his head and stroked his Flamer.
“A nice thought Sergeant, but I am not going anywhere,” he nodded his head in the direction of the burning Carnifex. “If you do not go soon, I will not be able to help YOU. They are re-grouping and will be here shortly. Go. Go now and save yourself.”
Faoláin removed his helmet and reverently placed it down on the ground. He ran his fingers through his mane of black hair and then smiled.
“I think not brother. The chronometer is ticking and our time here is limited. I think I will stay. Together we will reap such destruction on this vermin that it will be imprinted on their psyche for generations to come.”
“Never mess with the Emperor’s Raptors.”
“Never mess with the Sons of Corax.”
A heaving mass of Raveners erupted out of the fire like a wall of impenetrable blades. Floinn was sitting on the edge of the crater whilst Faoláin stood boldly behind him.
The two Marines would meet them head on.
But the Tyrannids stopped en masse
. A collective moan went up from the millions of Tyrannids as they linked with the Hive mind. In an instant they all became aware of their mortality. They stopped and milled around like mindless puppets.
A single missile streaked through the upper atmosphere like a blazing comet. The Marines looked at each other and their eyes flickered in acknowledgement.
“Exterminatus Brother. The complete destruction of all living things, human and Xenos. The Imperium has sacrificed this planet so the Hive cannot be fed and fuel future armies.”
“We were sacrificed, like all our Brothers.” Said Floinn. “But at least its shut the Xenos up. Listen.”
“Silence at last.”