A very short story I wrote on a whim. Enjoy.
The world turned.
That was the way of it.
Despite the war ravaging its surface, despite the foul legions of Chaos sullying it with their presence, the world turned, and would keep turning until the battle was through.
High above the planet, orbiting its green, murky sky, the cruiser Regulus rotated in place, bringing its bow ponderously to a new heading, and, staring from the viewport in his quarters, Sergeant Stern felt the grav plates vibrate and the ship spun on its access.
Stern, a tall, broad man, as befits an Ultramarine, stood with his hands behind his back, watching the world turn. His ice-blue eyes were fixed on the outline of the hive city, his mind considering tactical approaches, weather conditions and the Emperor's holy lore at the same time.
A dull rumble vibrated through the ship as it moved to a low-orbit position directly over the city, the viewport darkening as the ship moved towards the terminator line between darkness and light, as the system's rudimentary sun rose in the east.
'Terminator' line. How apt. Stern thought to himself, with a sly smile.
There was the sound of booted feet on the deck behind him.
"My lord. It's time."
Stern turned and followed the chapter serf out of his spartan quarters.
Behind him, out of the viewport, the world turned.
Blood. Mud. The stench of battle.
His senses gradually returned to him.
He was lying in a deep puddle, covered in the remains of a battle brother, his armour streaked with grime and chunks of flesh.
He held his hands up in front of his naked face, his helm blown off by the missile's detonation.
Blue ceramite ensconced his left hand, the fingers of the gauntlet scarred.
His right hand was missing.
The marine stared at the stump for a second, watching the blood congeal as his genhanced body fought against his flesh.
"Barrius! Get up!"
The marine, Barrius, his stunned brain told himself, rose from the hole the missile had blown in the dirty ground, grabbed his discarded bolter in his left hand and returned to the fray.
In front of the determined line of Ultramarines, the hordes of the hive, converted to the ways of Chaos by the terrible powers of the Word Bearers, charged, bloodied bodies jammed together as they ran into a hail of fire, blasphemy on their lips.
"Barrius, you live on, brother." Said the marine to his left, jamming another magazine into his battle-scarred bolter. "We need to hold this line a little longer, draw them out of cover. Are you up to it?"
Barrius shot a charging Chaos helot in the face casually with his left hand before turning to the marine.
"They shall know no fear, brother." He said, and rammed a discarded helm onto his bent neck brace, triggering the few undamaged sensors in his broken armour.
"Let them come."
Klaxons rang in the halls of the Regulus.
The Ultramarines are going to war.
"Update." Stern said as he stood in the armoury, chapter serfs and servitors crawling over him, checking systems and loading weapons.
The techmarine watching the ceremony nodded, his red armour seeming black in the red light of the room. "Sir, the horde has been drawn out, but to take the grand entrance to the hive we need to push the Word Bearers driving them from its halls."
"Deep striking." Stern said thoughtfully, as a servitor handed him his power sword, sheathed in the best black leather.
"Yes Lord." said the marine, pausing to use his servo arm to pass a storm bolter to a serf. "Teleport homers are inoperative, so you will be going in blind."
"Irrelevant." Stern said, as a pair of serfs moved towards him, his helm carried in their arms. "We are never blind."
The serfs fitted the helm, which made a hissing click as it netted with his armour's neck braces.
The serfs stepped back from the marine, staring up at the mighty Imperial Aquila blazed across the broad chest of Stern' armour.
Stern, now fully armoured, drew his power sword, and addressed the four marines arrayed before him at parade rest.
"Brothers. You do not need me to tell you what is at stake. We are the Emperor's finest and we will shall know no fear. Link sensoriums and douse running lights. We are going to war."
The Terminators, resplendent in their Tactical Dreadnought Armour, shook their power fists in a vicious salute.
"Keep moving you scum, you serve Chaos now!" Shouted Verpas, servant of the gods for almost three hundred years, as he pushed the crazed horde towards the Ultramarines' battle line.
Verpas, once a man like any other, was changed. Now a hideous mutation, the creature had grown an elongated jaw, pincers and a third eye on his back. The man-thing had served Chaos well, leading a helot batallion in the host of the Word Bearers, the creature was responsible for the corruption of the planet, and now the citizens were his own private army, and he was using them to crush the puny Ultras standing at the base of the city's mighty gate.
Power was all he craved.
"Verpas" cracked the vox, which had long-ago ceased being something he put on, and had now been absorbed into the bubbling flesh of his horribly mutated head.
"My Lord?" Answered the creature, recognising the voice of his host master.
"Sensors are showing an anomaly in your sector, kill anything you find."
"Yes Lord." It said, and signalled five of his personal guard to follow him into the shadows adjoining the great gate, hunting for the echo in the empyrean.
The shadows were deep this far inside the great gatehouse, columns of forged steel and rock holding aloft the high ceiling, a long echoing hall of darkness and echoes.
Verpas and his six helot moved through the gloom, weapons held aloft and tracking through the shadows, drool spilling from long tongues, bloodied tracked left in their footsteps.
There was a crackle of energy in the darkness, a vague yellow glow in the distance.
"Lord?" queried Fogor, Verpas' indentured slave.
"Come." muttered the creature, starting to run through the shadows.
The yellow glow was getting brighter, the dust of the hallway shifting as if in a light breeze.
The helot ran closer.
The glow was blinding now, the sound of rushing wind deafening, dust whipping into storms on the ground.
There was a loud crack of thunder.
The glow faded.
The dust stilled.
And Verpas suddenly had five helot.
The creature glared at his host. "Where's that snivelling maggot Ghoj gone?" He demanded.
The helot didn't answer.
Verpas felt an emotion he hadn't felt in 200 years.
"Guns up, stick together." He ordered, and led the way further into the gloom.
"Lord, I.." started Fogor.
"Shut up." Ordered Verpas, all three eyes scanning the shadows.
There was a muffled 'thump' behind him.
Verpas whipped around, quick as a snake.
Only Fogor was standing behind him.
"What in the blazes of Khorne?" Verpas said to himself, and stooped to examine a trail of blood and gore which led into the shadows off the path the six had forged.
"Lord, there's something here!" quaked Fogor, his tentacles clutching his lazrifle to his chest.
"Shut up you maggot!" Verpas shouted. "We should report this. Call it in."
There was no answer.
Verpas looked up.
Fogor was gone, his abandoned lazrifle lying in the decades-old dust.
Verpas was alone in the shadows.
He ran back along the path, his mutant body protesting at the speed, his aged boltgun heavy in his hand, the sweat running down his scarred form.
Then he ran into an impossible wall of armour, pinged off, and fell into the dirt.
His boltgun bounced away, out of reach.
The mutant creature rolled onto his back, his body quaking.
Above him, a man stood.
Thick plates of armour covered his whole body, massive shoulders rose above arms clutching weapons, and a bright Imperial Aquila gleamed in the half light.
A pair of sinister eyeslits gleamed red with an internal light.
"Wh...what are you!" Screamed Verpas, staring up at the demon before him.
There was a hissing 'crack' and the demon's jagged helm retracted into his armour's neck braces, revealing a bald-headed man with ice-blue eyes, and an expression of total calm.
Four more massive forms approached from the darkness, their armour streaked with blood and gore.
"Terminators." Said Stern, and shot the creature between the eyes.
Barrius pulled his combat knife from the helotís neck and kicked the corpse away with his armoured foot.
"Having fun Barrius?" Asked the marine to his left, who had just fired his missile launcher at a squad of Chaos Marines, leaving just a meaty paste in their place.
Barrius crouched back down behind the makeshift barricade and reloaded his bolter one handed, "Naturally, brother" he quipped, "I can't help wondering when our colleagues are going to join us though."
The devastator marine let out a guttural laugh and tossed a grenade into the next batallion of corrupted humans running at the battle line.
There was a hissing 'snap' as a voice cut into the vox channel, and Barrius felt his back straighten reflexively at the voice that barked across the airwaves.
"Marines, clear the great gate."
Barrius balled his one remaining fist and signalled a tactical retreat.
As one, the 400 marines holding the line each left their bolt holes and moved back in good order towards the reserve lines, leaving behind one frag grenade each.
30 seconds later each the 400 grenades detonated, throwing the advancing horde into disarray and turning the battlefield into a mess of mud and dust.
The horde, now lost in the melee, seethed and turned on each other.
"Stand clear" barked the voice once more, and the Ultramarines threw themselves into the dirt.
A second later the world turned red, the earth shook, and a horrendous explosion ripped the sky apart.
Barrius raised his head from the dirt, and brushed away the dirt from his photoreceptors.
The scarred and broken doors of the great gate shook, decades of dust pouring from their grooves.
Ponderously, the two mighty doors of the fell.
The pair, weighing more than a Battle barge each, toppled in a melee of dust and broken bodies.
And pounded the entire horde into dust.
Barrius forced his battered auspex to focus on the great gate.
Standing atop the fallen doors, five Terminators stood, awaiting their battle brothers.
Terminator Sergeant Stern raised his sword above his head, opened his helm, and shouted to the sky.
"Brothers. The hive city awaits. For the Emperor!"
As one, the Ultramarines advanced.
High above, the Regulus launched wave after wave of Thunderhawks, Titan landers and drop pods.
And the world, turned.