Nothing could be heard beyond the rustle of leaves in the soft wind, the gentle splashing of water on the rocky shore disturbing the silent tranquillity of the dark jungle. The air was thick with humidity, the vision of normal men incapable of fathoming what lay ahead in their wake. The colour of the jungle, once a lush green, had long since fell to the ways of time, becoming a harsh, black death-world, where only those lingering on the edge of insanity would dare venture into alone.
The cloudless sky was a ghostly black, the broad mountain ranges on the horizon omitting a monotonous glare, watching down on the jungles of Calamar like a predator stalking his prey.
Only a few human tribes lived on this world, and it was not in prosperity. Whilst the tribes communicated competently, they were hunted by the deadly beasts of Calamar, and as such the tribes were always on high alert for threats. The earth’s tectonic plates were constantly shifting, resulting in large earthquakes, which added to the hostility of the Imperium’s citizens lives.
The Adeptus Astartes of the Knights of Adrastos chapter had not been to this world since the Purgation of an uprising rebellion on Calamar’s capital city, Zairia, in 141.M37. Influenced by Chaos, the city’s peoples fell into rebellion and strife, the only law; skulls for the skull throne. The Knights of Adrastos fell upon the world, and with no mercy, liberated the City and its surrounding towns with holy fire, leaving no one alive in their wake. Their objective, to destroy the presence of chaos, was achieved, but with many mutilated civilians left dead in their wake. Some had not fell to the temptations of Chaos, but the Knights of Adrastos saw this as a suitable sacrifice for the redemption of the rest of the planet, and sent them to the Emperor for His judgement.
The Knights of Adrastos had always been this way. Whenever a rumour concerning the great enemy arose, they would make way immediately to the System in concern, and if the rumours were to be true, they would purge the ruinous powers from the planet, destroying the daemon, mutant, and heretic alike. So thorough are they in this that on many occasions they have been accused of heresy by the Ecclesiarchy, due to their willingness to kill innocent people in the process of liberating chaos, but have been found to be true servants of the Emperor on every case. They regretted the death of innocent civilians, but have always thought that if just one person exposed to such a high presence of chaos is allowed to live, another outbreak will soon surface, like a plague of suffering and death raining down upon the planet.
Unlike other Chapters, they do not see the Emperor as a God. Whilst they do swear utter fealty to him, they see him as a father-figure rather than a God, and worship him in a manner suitable to this outlook. This is represented in their battle cry, ‘For the chapter master! For the all-father!’ They are a codex chapter, but do not follow it as strongly as the Ultramarines. They will defend till death the parts of the codex they do follow, and will allow no one within the chapter to say otherwise, under penalty of execution.
Captain Fenras surveyed the scouts under his command. The Master of the Fleet sat upon his command throne in the overlord class battle cruiser, Fury of Acalesvara
. He smiled to himself as he felt the ships machine spirits relaxed state. He had been the admiral of this ship for three centuries, in which time created a connection with the ship that surpassed even that of a techmarine.
He skimmed through the data-slate handed to him by a chapter serf. “My thanks, Varro” he uttered to the serf, offering a quick smile, before turning back to the data-slate. Unlike other marines, he insisted on learning the names of people who served with him, even those of the serfs. This had given him the appearance of a man too soft and merciful to be a captain of an Astartes Company in some of his men’s eyes. This was quickly resolved with a first-blood one-on-one duel with the marine in question, which Captain Fenras was proven to be utterly ruthless and strong.
Fenras looked up from the data slate. The crooked end of his nose pointed upwards as he addressed the men under his command.
”My Brothers, we have received a vox signal of a xenos excursion to the jungle planet of Calamar. We have been ordered by our Great Chapter Master himself to conduct a scouting reconnaissance mission and ascertain the status of this xeno threat. Before sending our battle-brothers into battle, we will use the skills of our recruits. Scout squads Gratus, Hydras, and Invictus shall scout the Northern, Eastern, and South hemispheres of the Jungle, respectively. Venerable Brother-Sergeant Gratus, you shall bear the honour of scouting the hemisphere of where we believe the vox to have come from, so stay on guard. Teach your scouts well.” Fenras turned his commanding presence back to the assembled men. “You are to scout the region and report back to me for following orders. Good hunting, Brothers.”
Thundering into Calamar’s atmosphere, descending on holy wings of fire, the Stormbird flew above the planet, portraying the ideology of the Angels of Death. The Stormbird began to rapidly drop altitude as it neared its destination. It had broken off from the 2 other Stormbirds deploying to the other hemispheres, to deliver Sergeant Gratus and his squad to the Northern hemisphere.
As the Stormbird touched down amidst a clearing in the jungles dense foliage, Gratus shouted to his men. “As soon as harnesses are released, you are to form Defence pattern Kiro and secure our landing site!”
The squad felt the heavy landing of the Stormbird, and as one, released their harnesses. Within 5 seconds, the squad disembarked and, on high alert, formed into formation with uncanny precision. He had taught them well, Gratus thought to himself, as he watched the Stormbird ascend to orbit.
“Clear, Point 270 degrees.” Adeon called over his vox to his sergeant. Adeon dropped to his knee, bolter trained on the jungle ahead of him for any signs of activity.
Scout Midas Adeon, a scout experienced in jungle warfare in previous engagements, new only too well that they could be pounced upon by Emperor-knows what at any second. Adeon was small compared to his other brothers, but made up for it in sheer strength. Whilst his brothers teased him for his height, he saw it as a blessing. He was gifted with incredible agility, and was able to weave in and out of a close-combat situation, before ending his foe with a powerful and efficient strike from his combat blade.
His face bore the scars of his battles. Even though just a mere scout, Adeon had the same amount of scars as some of the Veterans of the chapter. Whether this was due to bad luck or clumsiness on his part, he did not know. All he knew was that he had faced great foes and triumphed, in the Emperors name.
He heard Sergeant Gratus vox to regroup on his position, scouting pattern Detra, and obeyed instinctively. As he fell in line amongst his squad, Brother Amadeus nodded to him.
“Another jungle mission then,” Amadeus remarked to Adeon.
“Aye, brother. Hopefully this one shall prove a challenge for us.”
Adeon had grown up with Amadeus on his home world, Acalesvara. They were the same age, and as such, grown a strong brotherhood, even before joining the Knights of Adrastos.
“I would not be so hopefully, Adeon. This planet was home to heretics before; I would not be surprised if this vox transmission is just an attempt to try and take us down.” Scout Zenon added his opinion.
“Zenon, do not speak so little of this planet. The corrupted were purged by our chapter, and this planet has done well to recover so quickly...”
“Vox silence on all frequencies!” came the stern and commanding voice of Sergeant Gratus. “Do something as foolish as that again, I’ll have you confined to the tower of redemption back on Acalesvara!” Suitably chastised, the squad fell silent.
Adeon surveyed the rest of his squad. Venura, the squad’s sniper, filled the back of the scout pattern, constantly flicking through different lens modes so he was able to fully view the surrounding area. Brother Kar’os hefted the Heavy Bolter on point with Sergeant Gratus, the young scout’s bulk much larger than the Sergeants, making him a suitable user of the blessed Heavy Bolter. Brothers Zenon, Argus, Ursaal, Yend, Romulus, Amadeus, Sergeant Gratus and himself were armed with the holy Bolter. The Codex Astartes stated this to be a suitable armament for a squad, and as such, Squad Gratus held this to the highest regard. Adeon had fought with this squad since his initiation. Their bonds of brotherhood were strong, and Adeon hoped them all well in the following mission.
In the depths of the jungle, hunters scoured the terrain. Fast, agile, and silent, the hunters stalked through the undergrowth, looking for their prey.
With one quick hand motion, the leader commanded his hunters to halt. Crouched down low, it peered over the fallen tree it hid behind, and smiled as it saw its mark.
The hunters knew that they were being hunted, and were adamant that they would reverse these tidings.
The leader sent some of his hunters ahead, to distract their prey before the assault.
Signalling the go, they moved out, hunting the would-be hunters in efficient, silent unity.
Scout Squad Gratus hunted the jungles of Calamar for many hours, following the exact conduct laid out within the holy Codex Astartes, as written by the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman himself. They searched high and low in the jungle, not leaving a single burrow, hill, or area unchecked. Not once did they falter in their discipline, their honour unbound, never faltering from the sacred words of the Codex.
Suddenly, just as night began to fall, Gratus ordered them to halt and drop. Gratus signalled enemy spotted, and for Brother Venura to view them with his Sniper Rifle. Adeon was praying for his Sergeants word to attack, the anticipation of battle nearly overcoming his drilled discipline.
Just as Venura saw the enemy, sudden fire rippled from behind the scout’s position. Adeon heard the cry of one of his brothers. He turned on the spot with Boltgun raised, dropping to his knee as he watched Brother Venura fall in a hail of deadly fire. Realising they were now surrounded, with the enemies originally sighted advancing towards them, Sergeant Gratus ordered over the vox to fire at will, but Adeon could not see hide nor hair of their assailants. He watched with a sudden anguish building in his chest as he saw another brother fall, his head bursting, viscera and gore hitting the floor, before his body followed.
He threw his camo cloak over his head and fell to a prone position. He could see them now. Intelligent alien technology covered them from clear sight, and he cursed the foul xenos as he saw shrapnel tear his Sergeants limb from his body. He felt a huge surge of courage and pride as he saw his Sergeant firing his bolt pistol into the enemy, even through his injuries. He saw 2 of the xenos fall, before firing a Bolt round threw another aliens Helmet.
Time seemed to slow, as in quick succession more of the scouts fell. Brother Argus was wrenched off his feet, taking a full round into his chest. Brother Ursaal was engaged in close combat with one of them, but was too slow to draw his combat blade, as his head was decapitated from his body. Adeon put a vengeful round into the alien, yet felt little veneration at the alien’s death. He saw 2 more aliens die from his sergeant’s never-ending storm of fire.
“At them, Brothers!” Sergeant Gratus howled. Whilst his battle cry may have roused the scout’s spirits, it did the sergeant no favours as the aliens attentions drew to the sound, and he was brutally murdered in front of Adeons eyes. Brother Yend ran to his sergeant’s aid, but was blown apart as an alien grenade shook the area. A quick look showed only 3 scouts and himself remained, whilst 4 of the xenos lived. Brother Romulus, assuming command, ordered a retreat into the forest, dropping a smoke grenade as they fell back. Brother Kar’os threw a krak grenade into the enemy, howling the chapter’s battle cry, but was gunned down in the process, the words dying on his lips. He took three of the scum with him, who had been foolish enough to group themselves into a tight formation. Only one of them remained, and it was he who killed Brother Amadeus and Romulus in quick succession, who fell silent. With this, only one scout remained, Adeon himself.
Realising he would die before he could avenge his brothers if he faced the alien head on, he fell prone again and draped himself in his camo cloak, praying to the Emperor for his salvation. The alien surveyed the area, noticing no enemies, and turned to flee the battle scene. He thanked Brother Romulus for dropping the smoke grenades, which surely had saved Adeons life, and offered a short prayer to the Emperor for his fallen brothers. Adrenaline fuelling his muscles, mind controlling his actions, Adeon followed the murderous alien, pure hatred and sorrow burning into his mind.
An object, barely visible, left the dense foliage of the jungle, venturing cautiously towards the waters edge. It ducked low under a fallen black-scorched tree, before moving towards the rocks in a seemingly effortless glide, constantly surveying its surroundings for threats.
Adeon watched the foul xeno with a burning hatred. The young scout had never felt such a wrathful bloodlust as he now did gazing upon the abomination who defied the Emperors will. His body raged with an almost uncontrollable fury. So great was his anger, he nearly crushed the handle of his combat blade, which he had lovingly and painstakingly forged on Acalesvara. He slowed his breathing, quietly surveying the xeno.
He watched as the creature removed his helmet. He smiled as he saw blood trickling down the alien’s face, a wound one of his brothers must have given it before it retreated. Typical of cowardly filth such as this, Adeon thought to himself. He waited until the creature put down his weapon, before advancing towards it.
Draped in his camo cloak, he was almost entirely invisible. He placed his faith in the light-absorbing material of his camo cloak to keep him in the shadows, hoping that after all this, he would not be spotted. He had vowed to destroy his squads killer, Amadeus’s killer, and would have his soul condemned to the horror-filled nightmare of the warp should he fail.
Adeon had followed the alien for about 1 day now, judging by the planets Luna cycle. This was by no means a reliable method of time-keeping, but it was all the young scout had. He had marshalled his actions, to try and find out as much as he could about the aliens presence on this Imperial world, but to no avail. He silently left the foliage, and stalked towards the alien. Sweat creased his face, and he licked his lips at the thought of alien blood being shed by his hand.
By the time the warrior realised another presence was near, it was too late. With a battle cry on his lips, Adeon thrust his combat blade into the xenos skull, and he felt the rewarding spurt of warm blood on his face. The body fell; as Adeon looked into the eyes of the creature that had killed his squad, he felt a sudden reverie of justice spread threw him.
The Saim-Hann Eldar warrior fell under his blade, its blood running freely into the river.
I took in what you guys said, and I think this is a lot better, thanks! The first was a draft, and I extende don the idea, taking in what you said for consideration...so what does everyone think? It's about 2500 words, which is not quite as long as a chapter, but a suitable length for a prologue, I think