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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-26-10, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Default Hellas of Lakonia

Alright, this is my attempt of making an actual story. Its basicly extra background form Sons of Hellas SM Chapter (I'll post the "official" fluff when I get it done). I'll post updates when I can (read: when I get enough time and inspiration to write more). For now I'll leave you with the prologue and chapter one. Hope you enjoy, and don't be shy to give feed back and comments (critique is also welcome). And, I apologize for the grammar mistakes, though spelling should be in order...



Prologue:

A hundred bronze bells made the large bowl shaped mountain valley ring with their music. It was packed with people, who made their way to the massive arena in its centre, known as the Arena of Dorn, arriving through the four large passages that led there. Colourful flags and banners filled its marble covered walls that gleamed pure white in the warm sunshine. Its large green grass covered grounds and sites of the coming competitions that filled the area within had massive numbers of soldiers standing in perfect formations clad in highly polished and shining armour gear. Each soldier carried large shields and long spears, that not only had a long blade but also a fire weapon attached to their end. These men were the Hoplites, soldiers of their city states, coming from all corners of Helot to compete in the many competitions prepared for the Week of Hellas. On their shields most Hoplites proudly carried the symbol of their city state, whilst others had their personal symbols adorned to them, indicating famous warriors and heroes of great deeds.

But today was special, for the Day of Dorn and the Sons was to be held this year, something that only happened every five years, and which would present the best of the field an opportunity: an opportunity to be chosen to the Sons of Hellas Space Marine Chapter. Above the young men of the cities, whom none could claim to be slight of stature, towered the mighty figures of these fabled warriors. The Arena was right below their mighty Fortress-Monastery, Spear of Ares, a place of legend for the people of Helot. The Spear was a well hidden fortress somewhere in the mountains, its entrance only known to the Sons themselves. Once, in the beginning of the Age of Strife the people of Helot had used this and a number of others like it, to shelter themselves from the chaos that enveloped their world. Now these fortresses were just a legend told in the tales of poets, bards and dusty history tomes.

The Arena of Dorn was opened only once every five years for one Week of Hellas, after wich the Day of Dorn and the Sons would commence. Amongst the dark yellow power armour lines that filled the middle of the grounds one could see the dark clad Chaplains of the Chapter, whose keen eyes followed every action of the young Hoplites, and the blue clad Librarians ever keeping their vigil for any possible sings of corruption as well as latent psykers. The two Phalanx Companies of Sons of Hellas, each Marine fully armed and armoured, stood in attention like statues.

The Arena of Dorn could easily hold hundreds of thousands of spectators, so massive it was, while thousands more would be needed to fill the fields. All people of Helot were welcome to the Games, as they were called by the ordinary folk, no matter their social class. People from as far as the other side of the planet would travel for this event, children arriving with wide open eyes and gabbing mouths, older and more experienced waiting to meet old friends and to bet on the results. As the people finally arrived, finding seats for themselves on the massive Arena, the ceremonies would commence, starting with a speech given by one of the Chaplains or Captains. But this years was to be unique. The Chapter Master of the Sons of Hellas, Xythus Christopoulos, himself would give the speech this year.

Xythus himself stood on a plateau overlooking the valley, watching the people arrive to the Arena of Dorn. His helmet was attached to his belt, allowing his white long hair to flow freely. His face could have been made of the same marble as the Arena, so pale and unmovable it was. His brown eyes scanned the fields, observing the city banners, until he seemed to find what he was looking for. Not a muscle moved on his face, but if one could have seen his glassed gaze, the observer would have noticed that he was no longer in this place or time, but somewhere else, in happier ones. So strongly did the memories invade his mind, that he barely noticed when another figure arrived at his side.

”My Lord” said the newcomer with a soft voice, hitting his right hand against his chest as a salute. He was clad in the same coloured power armour as Xythus, and his red cape bearing the Chapter insignia indicated that he was part of the Sons of Hellas First Company.

”Yes, Brother Uleyss, what is it?” Xythus asked, without turning. He locked his memories back to the place he kept them in his mind. There would be another time for this.

”My Lord, Master-Librarian Aleusam requested your presence. He said he wished to speak with you of the coming ceremony.”

”Very well. Tell the Master-Librarian I will meet with him shortly.”

”Yes, My Lord.” Brother Uleyss repeated his salute, and begun to climb down the narrow path that led to the plateau. Xythus stayed for a little while longer, watching the still gathering crowds. Eventually he started to leave, but just before he stepped on to the path, he looked up. The plateau was covered with green grass and a few flowers that had survived the nightly temperature drops. The place would have seemed as unremarkable to most people, and in autumn the chilling winds would bring the first frost to this altitude, killing the last of the persistent flowers. But there was one odd shaped rock in the middle of the plateau, a large boulder that was covered with moss. Xythus knew this boulder well, and still remembered the day he had found the narrow path to this place when he was but a child, come to the Arena to enjoy the Games with his family. A small smile found its way to the Chapter Masters lips, as he continued down the path. Yes, he had found the boulder, but he also discovered its secret.

The boulder, covered by moss, had stood there for untold number of years. But should the curious go near and look closer, they would discover that the boulder is not stone, but metal. Metal painted with yellow paint, and on it side it still proudly wears the sign of a black, clenched fist….



Chapter 1: Ambush

"Arrival in normal space successful. All systems working according to normal protocol. Preparing for scan of the system."

The Imperial Fist Strike Cruiser Medusa's Hand and its escort frigates, Devotion and Seeker, exited the warp. The command deck of Medusa's Hand was filled with activity, the flight crew checking their own systems while also keeping an eye on dozen more status information, making sure that the ship was at full capacity. A large yellow armoured figure entered the bridge towering above the bridge staff like a giant, striding into the centre of the bridge. Brother-Captain Alexandrius of Imperial Fists Legiones Astartes was a Space Marine, an enhanced warrior, engineered by the Emperor of Mankind. He had shaved his brown hair into a short stubble, and his face wore many scars some dating back to his youth on Terra. His brown eyes seemed to observe everything around him, and despite his mighty stature he was able to move through the everywhere rushing crew members with ease.

Alexandrius was a veteran of the Great Crusades, one of the already few original brethren that was recruited back on Holy Terra. He had been there when the Imperial Fist Legion had fought in the streets of the ancient city Roma on Terra as a humble Marine. During the Great Crusade he had risen in rank and was now in charge of a detached unit. The units task was to hunt down a warband of Iron Warriors, traitors of Imperium. Less then a year had passed since the Siege of Terra, when traitorous Astartes Legions, Imperial Army and Mechanicus had tried to overthrow the Emperor in the name of his favourite son and Primarch, Horus Lupercal. The traitors had besieged Terra and the Imperial Palace, wich the Primarch of the Imperial Fists, Rogal Dorn, had designed. The battle was almost impossible to describe with mere words, but for a short time, Earth had turned into Hell of the old religions. Brother Marine fought Brother Marine, horrifying daemons of unimaginable horror slaughtering everywhere and Titans stomping on entire groups of soldiers at a time. But the traitorous rebels had not been able to breach the mighty walls of the Imperial Palace, its valiant defenders stopping every assault. They had miraculously survived impossible odds, until Horus was finally slain. Alexandrius knew that it had been a close call, and that the price of victory had been almost too high to bear.

"My Lord, scanning is complete" Ensign Ottus, the ships First Mate, informed.

"Good, bring the information up on my screen." captain Hume, the commander of the ship replied who was sitting on the chair of his post. Alexandrius was offered another chair near by, but he declined preferring to stand. He disliked the though that on a moment he would need to move fast he would first have to pry himself up from a seat. Hume was old, bald and short, but his blue uniforms chest was filled with a number of medals and campaign ribbons. He also wore a pair of reading glasses, as he had refused any surgeries proposed to him, saying that his glasses were ’a part of his personality’.

The large data-screen in front of the captains station flickered to life, filled with the information of the scanners. Alexandrius turned his gaze and started to study the information. The system they had arrived was made of five planets, three of them nothing but dead rocks and the fourth being a standard gas giant. But the second planet of the system, along wich they had entered, was a lush world with an atmosphere, oceans and green vegetation and it seemed habitable at a quick glance. It had the only moon in the system, much like Luna around Terra, but nothing else that would have caught Alexandrius's attention. It seemed that the traitor Marines would elude him once more.

Alexandrius had been given some 100 of his Brothers and 200 soldiers of the Imperial Army under his command. Each of the Marines was a veteran of several campaigns, and even the soldiers had earned the trust of the Astartes during the hunt in the skirmishes they had waged. But this hunt of the Legions hated enemies was proving exhausting. This was the fourth system they had entered since their departure from Terra, and each system they were encountered numerous cultists and traitor soldiers, but not the ones they were chasing after. Each of the inhabited worlds they had arrived to had been split by civil wars, but with the aid of the loyalist populations of these planets the small detachment had been able to thwart the rebels on every planet in a short order. And now they had arrived to an apparently empty uncharted system, following the only clues they had managed to extract from the traitors in the previous systems. Alexandrius pondered if they were given false information. Perhaps...

"My Lord!" one of the monitor surveying crew members shouted. "Unidentified star ships emerging from behind the gas giant! Closing in fast!"

"5 unidentified star ships! Imperial classed Oberon class Battleship and 4 Frigates! Markers match known Iron Warrior vessels!", yelled another crew member.

"An ambush!", the truth struck in an instant Alexandrius. He started to give order with a calm voice. "Inform Seeker and Devotion. We have to get behind the planet and see if we can lure them into a trap of our own."

"Yes Lord. Ensign Ottus, give me the best speed! All hands on deck! Open com-channels with Seeker and Devotion!"

While the crew ran to their posts to prepare the ship for an escape and battle, Alexandrius considered this new event. It seemed that they had not been led astray, but baited to this trap. The loyalist fleet could most likely match the four frigates, but a battleship would be too much. The only thing the Imperial Fists could do now was to try to get back to warp space, and call in more reinforcements. They had an astropath on board, so this was certainly a possibility. Furthermore, the number of enemy ships could mean a much larger traitor the second planet could easily provide the Iron Warriors an unlimited number of reinforcements. Rogal Dorn was to informed, and...

"My Lord!" a crew member entered the bridge, his face pale and eyes wide open. "The Astropath…he...he...is dead, my Lord. Started shouting all of a sudden and then he just kind of...I don't know Lord, I think he killed himself."

Alexandrius showed no emotion, calmly nodding for the crew member as a thanks for the information, before sending him back to his station. One less option now then, Alexandrius thought. He should have seen this coming. When he was informed that all the Navigators had lost consciousness, he was even less surprised. Who ever had made this trap had indeed planned for everything. For now it would be a matter of time, whether the enemy fleet could catch them, or if the Navigators would be able come to before that. He hoped for the later.

"My Lord! Three more enemy vessels, they appeared from behind the moon! They are within weapons range!"

”Launched torpedoes detected, impact in 25 seconds!”

”Evasive manoeuvres! All hands, brace for impact!” Hume shouted over the comms of the ship.

Alexandrius grabbed a close by handrail, preparing himself for the hit. The warning sirens and lights were brought to life as the torpedoes closed the ship. Everyone on the bridge could feel the ship shaking, as few of them managed to penetrate the ships shields. Fractions of a second later came the booming sounds of the explosions, muffled by the distance and numerous layers of metal.

”Damage report!”

”Minimal damage on lower decks. Casualties currently unknown.”
Ottus added, ”Devotion was able to avoid all damage, but Seeker reports minor damage to her engines.”

Hume cursed, and turned to Alexandrius. ”Orders, my Lord?”

Alexandrius pondered for a second. ”We cannot fight on two fronts. Give us the best
speed, and prepare to return fire.”

”Yes my Lord. We are already within range, tough just barely.”

”Bring us a little closer, then send out the fighters. Make them regret that they decided to stand in our way.”

”Yes my Lord” Hume started bellowing orders to the crew.

Soon the three loyalist ships were on near collision course with the enemy vessels. Hume waited to the last possible moment before ordering the three ships to open fire on the traitors. Their volley was more effective, Medusa’s bombardment cannon crippling one of the enemy vessels, and another one left badly damaged. The remaining vessels returned fire, but in vain. The Imperial fighters and the Fists Thunderhawks raced to finish off the crippled vessels, while the ships concentrated on the two remaining ones. The traitor vessels send out their fighters as well, and soon the space was full of twisted and charred remains of destroyed fighters.
Alexandrius knew that the battle had to end quickly or the larger fleet would soon catch up with them, and then there would be no escape.

”Master Hume, what is the situation of the enemy main fleet?”

”If we do not get rid of these bastards ahead of us soon, we’ll be making a very nice looking junk pile on this planets orbit. My Lord.” Hume was giving orders as fast as he could, coordinating the three main ships fire and keeping the fighter squadrons in check.

Soon Ottus shouted with an alarmed voice, ”Captain, the Seeker has received heavy damage and reports that its engines are almost unusable. They request permission for boarding mission.”

Hume was silent for a moment, before nodding as an approval. His grim face showed that he knew what the commander of Seeker intended. Alexandrius also knew very well that they had chosen death. He also knew that this would mean death to them all soon, if something was not done.

”Master Hume, what is Devotions status? Are its engines still functional?”

Hume turned to Alexandrius, frowning and a confused look on his face. ”Yes, my Lord, her engines are still intact and it has received only minor damage.”

”Good. Inform Devotion to disengage, and to retreat. Tell them to make a warp jump, and inform Primarch Dorn of the situation.”

Hume’s eyes were wide open and his face pale as he slowly realised what Alexandrius was asking of Devotion, as well as him. For a moment he hesitated, but then his eyes gained back their focus and the steel behind them.

”Yes, my Lord. Ensign Ottus, inform Devotion of the plan. Also, bring us to effective range of a drop mission.”

Alexandrius looked at the old captain, allowing a small approving smile on his lips and their eyes met. Hume had served a long time for a normal man, and was not afraid to die. But the Space Marines still had a mission to perform. They were the top priority, and in space they could only find a vain death. Alexandrius raised his hand to a salute. Hume stood up and retuned the salute. Then, Alexandrius allowed his hand to fall and left the bridge. What a fine man we lose this day, he thought. What a group of fine men. He activated the communication links in his helmet as he quickly walked down the red light corridors.

”Brothers, we are to make planet fall in plus 10 minutes. Prepare for drop pod deployment. May the Emperor watch over us. Alexandrius over and out.”

Last edited by WarWolf88; 04-29-10 at 08:27 PM.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-27-10, 10:09 PM
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moved to Original Works.

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The Founding Fields

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-27-10, 10:42 PM
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Going to do a quick (and hopefully thorough) review/criticism for you. I can be a bit anal when it comes to small details, so be forewarned! Hopefully you can glean some useful input from my comments:

Quote:
A hundred bronze bells made the large bowl shaped mountain valley ring with their music. The valley was packed with people, who made their way to the massive arena, known as the Arena of Dorn, in the centre of the valley, arriving through the four large passages that led there.
Already, a big red flag for me. Something I try to steer clear of is repetition (unless it's with a purpose). Using the word "valley" three times in rapid succession is a bit grating. Either try to find a substitute, or run the ideas/descriptions together in order to minimize having to use it too many times. Also, the second sentence feels a bit awkward. It's gerunds with prepositional phrases galore, making the natural cadence of it very halted.

Quote:
Colourful flags and banners
filled its marble covered walls that gleamed pure white in the warm sunshine, while the large grounds and sites of the coming competitions that filled the area within had massive numbers of soldiers standing in perfect formations clad in highly polished and shining armour gear, carrying large shields and long spears, that not only had a long blade but also a fire weapon attached to their end
While I applaud attempting to make complex sentences to vary structure, this one is a bit loooong. Try to break it up a bit.

Quote:
Above the young men of the cities, whom none could call to be slight of stature, towered the mighty figures of these fabled warriors.
I think "claim" would work better here.

Quote:
Once, in the beginning of the Age of Strife the people of Helot had used this and a number of other like it, it is said, to shelter themselves from the chaos that enveloped their world.
Other should be others. The "it is said" portion is unnecessary and breaks up the flow of the sentence.

Quote:
The Arena of Dorn was opened only once every five years for one Week of Hellas, after wich the Day of Dorn and the Sons would commence.Amongst the dark yellow power armours that filled the middle of the grounds one could see the black armours the Chapter Chaplains...
Wich = which, simple spelling error. The word "armour" I don't really think can be pluralized with an "s."

Quote:
His helmet was attached to his belt, allowing his white long hair flow freely.
"To flow freely"

Quote:
His blue eyes scanned the fields...but if one could have seen his brown eyes
I'm not sure if the color change was intentional, being alluded to in his use of the warp, but you may want to clarify this.

Quote:
the observer would have notices that he was no longer in this place or time, but somewhere else, in happier times. So strongly did the memories invade his mind, that he barely noticed when another figure clad in the same kind of armour as he, arrived at his side.
Verb tense error with "notices," should be "noticed."
The last sentence you could fix one of two ways:
"that he barely noticed when another figure, clad in the same armour as he, arrived at his side" or just remove the highlighted comma completely.

Quote:
”My Lord.” the newcomer said with a soft voice, hitting his right hand against his chest as a salute.
When completing a statement (not an interrogative/exclamation), end the quotation with a comma instead of a period.

Quote:
repeated his salute, and begun to climb down the narrow path that led to the plateau.
"Begun" is used as a past participle, so following have, had, has. You need to switch it to "began."

Quote:
The plateau was covered with green grass and a few flowers, that had survived the every night temperature drops. The place would have seem as unremarkable to most people, and in autumn the chilling winds would bring the first frost to this altitude, killing the last of the persistent flowers. But there was one odd shaped rock in the middle of the plateau, a large boulder that was covered with moss.
The first comma is unnecessary. "Every night" would sound less awkward as "nightly." Change "seem" to "seemed,"

That concludes the prologue, I'll get to the rest tomorrow, the eyelids are closing...Not too bad so far, the main concern I have is the extreme length of some of your sentences. A few errors here and there, but nothing that a read-through wouldn't solve (I have a bad habit of not proof-reading my own stuff...That's why I've hired Inquisitor Varrius )


Heresy-Online's Expeditious Stories Challenge 13-06: "Serenity" has started, get your stories in by July 11th!

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3. Nothing Boc said should ever be taken seriously. Unless he's talking about being behind you. Then you run like fuck.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-27-10, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, well, I forewarned that there most likely would be some grammar issues, now didn't I? I guess we're even, right?

And thank you Boc for a quick reply. I'll try take your advice and be more careful with those things you mentioned, and fix the worst errors you pointed out so far. Hopefully tommorrow. I'm also finishing Chapter two, and I should be able to post it soon as well (I think you'll notice that space battles are not my strong point, but things should get much more interesting once our brave Captain and his lot hit groundside )
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-29-10, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Alright, the promised second chapter is here. I also did most of the corrections Boc suggested (thanks again), and also went throught the first chapter with a little more care, also trying to root most mistakes out. Well, that's that. Hope you enjoy, and comments are always welcome!


Chapter 2: Planet fall

Alexandrius made his way to the launching bay through the corridors that were lit only by the emergency lights, making them quite dark. But this was no hindrance to a Space Marine enhanced senses, and he quickly arrived at his destination. His Brothers were already assembled and in full parade formation, each equipped with full armour gear and their helmets, a boltgun held firmly in front of them at chest height. The large bay was almost empty except for the Marines, its few still remaining crew and servitors hurriedly finishing their tasks to get to finish the next dozen other jobs. It was lit by bright lights, and the few black spots on the walls and floor reminded of the small fires that had spread this far before the fire crew had extinguished them. Alexandrius slowed down only to give his men a salute which was answered by a deafening sound of a hundred fists hitting power armoured chest. Techmarine Demer inspected the drop pods along side the servitors, and so far had not found any flaws he could identify. Apothecary Ilius was also doing his last minute inspections on his Brothers, as Alexandrius reached him.

”What is their condition?”

”There are no injured amongst our numbers, Brother-Captain. I…” his sentence was cut short by another impact that shook the ship. The battle seemed still to be in full swing. Before Ilius could continue, Demer came to give his report.

”Captain, the machines and their spirits are ready and able to leave as soon as you command.”

”Good.” Alexandrius waited for a moment to see if Ilius still had something to say, but the Apothecary kept silent. The Captain then nodded, and walked in front of the assembled troops.

”Brothers, we have found our prey, but it seems that the traitors were waiting for us.”
Alexandrius was always very honest with his men, and now waited for any reaction from his men. There was none, only the sounds of the clanking machines and the hushed sounds and voices of the working crew members filling the echoing bay.

”Our situation is quite dire. Our ships are outnumbered, and even more are coming. One of our ships has left in the hopes of reaching our brethren and telling of this place. The chances of its success are slim, and we are still here.”

Again, the Marines stood silent, holding their formation and stance. If they did not breath one could have thought them to be giant statues.

”We are still here. And we are still able to fight. In space we are as powerless as any man, and we could only waste our lives trying to board our enemies ships. There is a third option. Boarding those drop pods, and making planet fall on the world below us.”

”Brothers! What is our duty?”

”To fight the enemies of Mankind!” came a thunderous reply from a hundred throats.

”Brothers! What is the fear of death?”

”To die our work unfinished!”

”Brothers! What is the joy of life?

”To die knowing our work is complete!”

”Brothers! What is the price of treason?

”Death! Death! Death!”

”Brothers! Will you follow me? Will you do you duty? Will you fulfil your duty to Mankind? Will you fulfil your duty to our Primarch? Will you fulfil your duty for the Emperor?”

”For Mankind! For our Primarch! FOR THE EMPEROR!” Each Marine shouted at
the top of their lungs. At that same moment the bay was filled by the flashes of green light and the sound of alarms that meant that Medusa’s Hand was on a stable orbit, and ready to drop the Emperor’s finest into the unknown. Without another word, every Imperial Fist turned around and entered their drop pods.

Alexandrius entered a drop pod with nine other Fists, preparing the harness that would hold him still through the rough fall. Normally a captain would have a bodyguard squad of the more experienced Brother Marines, but Alexandrius had always preferred to keep such squads as part of the main line, he himself freely moving amongst the ranks as need be. As the pods arms were closed Alexandrius felt a little nervous. Even though he and his Brothers had practiced this hundreds of times, and preformed it dozens more, Alexandrius felt that he would never get used to these metallic coffins that would drag them feet first into Hell or worse. Feeling a little frustrated with himself for allowing such a weakness make home in his mind, he cleared it of such thoughts and concentrated on the present, checking his harness was in place, and using the control node and the small screen in front of him. After writing in the correct orders, he was allowed a situation report and a live picture feed from the Medusa’s cameras. He could see the planet beneath them. It was a relatively small planet, smaller then Terra, but still more then two thirds of it was covered by a large ocean and what Alexandrius believed to be lakes. The land was mostly shore line, with some green flat lands. Its equator was filled with mountainous terrain with some valleys. The Imperial Fists drop site was mentioned in the report and marked on a strategic map layout attached to it. It was the largest of the valleys, just a little north of the equator. It was bowl shaped, at it had relatively little trees and other large vegetation compared to most other valleys Alexandrius could see.

Alexandrius changed to another camera, to see the still raging space battle. Seeker had successfully manoeuvred next to one the enemy frigates, and no doubt fierce close quarter battles raged within both ships. Devotion was also managed to disengage and headed out of system to make a new warp jump. Alexandrius could only hope that the Navigator had regained his senses, or Devotion would have to make a blind jump, wich was not only difficult but down right dangerous. A quick glance at the other two enemy frigates confirmed that they were still immobile and harassed by the Imperial fighters and the Fists own Thunderhawks. Alexandrius was not happy about leaving his men behind, but their sacrifice would not be in vain. The last frigate was instead headed straight for Medusa’s Hand, but Alexandrius knew that it would not be able to reach the Imperial vessel before they would be dropped.

A third camera showed small dots against the blackness of space. Even though it was impossible even for the enhanced eyes of an Astartes Alexandrius could almost swear he could make out the symbol of the Iron Warriors on the vessels. For now they would be no direct threat though, as they were not even in weapons range yet.

Over the comms an emotionless voice begun to speak.

”All non Astartes personnel, clear the launch bay. Launch will initiate in minus 35 seconds. Repeat, all non Astartes personnel…”

Alexandrius took as comfortable stance as he could. The drop pods were without a doubt made for quick deployment but the fact one was forced to remain up right inside them was not the most comfortable way to go. Damn tin cans.

”Launch minus 25 seconds. Repeat, launch minus 25 seconds.”

Alexandrius closed the screen. The drop pods were dimly lit by blue lights. An Astartes could still see in pitch black, but these lights always begun to sting Alexandrius’ eyes. He quickly detached his helmet from his belt and put it on. Not only would protect his eyes, but also his lungs should the planets atmosphere have toxins the initial scan had not noticed. This would be the first time for such a thing to happen.

”Launch minus 15 seconds. Repeat…”

Alexandrius finished attaching his helmet, and as its visor began to work and synchronize, he took a deep breath, and started to chant a litany that was meant to ensure that the Machines Spirit of the pod would function correctly and deliver them safely down. He heard his Brothers join him. He could also feel as the engines around him begun the work, preparing to launch them into space.

”Launch in 5 seconds. Praise the Emperor. May He forever rule Mankind.”

Alexandrius kept chanting, the noise of the machines outside the pod becoming more intense. Then, with a loud thump and a whoosh-sound, he felt as if a huge weight were pressing against him, and the drop pod was hurled out of Medusa’s Hand. Alexandrius did not need to wait for long as the feeling of weightlessness of space was again replaced gravity, as the pod entered the second planets atmosphere.
The Legions drop pods were equipped with heat absorbing materials and machinery to increase their effectiveness, but the men inside still sweated as in an oven. Their power armour did have machinery to do with such temperatures as well the heavy sweating, but it barely made the hellish trip any more comfortable for the Marines, who were gripping to their weapons and seats, continuing to chant without a pause.
The drop pod shook violently, making Alexandrius bang his head against the padding of his helmet. Ever downwards they went, the heat, shaking and screeching sounds of the metal hull being the only thing the men inside their pod could sense or hear. Yet still they kept chanting.

Slowly at first, the speed seemed to slow down, the gravity feeling a little weaker and the shaking calming down. Alexandrius knew that the drop pods thrusters must have finally been activated. This meant it would be only a few more seconds until they would hit the ground. He readied himself for the impact.

The sound of the pods thrusters became louder and louder, while the vibration had almost vanished along with the heat. Then it hit the ground with a defining boom, sooner then expected. The thrusters must have malfunctioned, Alexandrius though, as his whole body was violently thrust downwards because of the impact. With a loud hissing followed by a bang the drop pods hatches were opened. Alexandrius hit the lock of his harness, and as soon as he was free he jumped out of his seat and ran down the ramp that the arm had created.

And he almost jumped down a cliff. His drop pod had landed on a small stretch of land above the bottom of the valley. The plateau had been full of exotic flowers and green grass that was still wet because of a recent rain. Now there were only partly burning grass and flowers, muddy ground spread around the area and an impact crater around the base of the pod. Sun was just setting, giving everything a yellow tinge.
Alexandrius quickly recovered from his surprise, and a quick check confirmed that his Brothers had survived the trip just as unharmed as he had. Then, they started to stare at the sky above them. Alexandrius’ helmets sensors could pick up twelve more yellow and black painted drop pods falling from the sky. One had almost touched down, while the last was still in the lower atmosphere.

The valley did indeed not have much in the way of woods, with only a few more densely packed tree formation far apart from each other. It was surrounded by tall mountains on all sides, and Alexandrius could see no entrance or exit way at the time. The valley floor was green with long grass, dotted by many coloured flowers, that would now burn under the dense heat of the thrusters that slowed down the drop pods. One by one they reached the ground, and from each a dozen Imperial Fists poured out.

”Captain to all Brothers” Alexandrius spoke to his comm unit. ”I want all units to report at Brother Ilius’s drop pod in 10 minutes. Emperor protects, Alexandrius over and out.” He turned to the nine Fists with him. ”Let’s see if we can find a better way out of here then that cliff. I would prefer not to learn to fly this day, as we’ve already survived one crash landing.”
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