Vessel Class: Astartes Strike Cruiser: Aria of Blood
Location: Edge of Baal system, docked at Styx Station, primary warp translation point of the Baal System
++Ave Imperator. Mark VII power armor self diagnostic initialization beginning++
Brother-Sergeant Malach HaMavet barely paid attention as he stood upon the diagnostic platform surrounded by motes of light which represented the functions of his major bodily systems and organs. He was attended by the techmarine Ikarus and a tech servitor as they guided his new suit of power armor through its initializing routine. The armor, already clad in the trademark blood red color used by the chapter since the days of the Great Crusade, the armor was adorned upon the breast with the winged skull motif. The wings of blackened adamantium, the skull at the center of purest gold. His new position was recognized on his armor with ebon pauldrons, the left bearing the gold symbol of the the chapter, a sacred drop of the blessed blood flanked on each side by his wings, the right bearing a jeweled emerald blood drop signifying his belonging to the forth company.
Hamavet’s previous suit of armor was destroyed beyond the repair of the chapter techmarines on Iactu III in the same attack that killed tactical squad Haemus’ previous sergeant Venezia. The hologram displaying his augmented cardiopulmonary system showed the spike in his heartbeat as his thoughts went back to the day the ork vehicle attack made his promotion necessary. In typical orkish fashion the attack was loud, brutal, and deadly, as the crude flamer weapons wielded by the greenskins exploded as they bore down on the squad, killing all of the orks on board, as well as his sergeant. Malach paused to remind himself, he was the squad sergeant now. The memory of the event which brought his promotion into fruition seemed to cause a sympathetic twinge in his second honor stud, freshly drilled upon his return to Baal signifying one-hundred years of service to the chapter. He had no doubt of his ability to lead the squad. Such doubts were beneath a space marine who served such a period of time, bringing war to those who would threaten mankind. HaMavet however did hold complaint with the way of his promotion. That his own sergeant would have to perish in order for him to be promoted rustled echoes of emotions that he had not felt in the centuries since his ascension to the ranks of the sons of Sanguinius. Guilt over the loss of his sergeant, coupled with the insecurity of a rise in rank due to nothing other than the vagaries of fate upon the battlefield.
As the techmarine began the warm up sequences for the servo muscles and nerve fiber bundles carried pulsing sensation over his body he calmed the passion of his emotions that were still left to him with the harsh white light of rationality. Sergeant Venezia, like all Blood Angels would have preferred his death on the battlefield, doing the work tasked to him by Sanguinius and the Emperor. Better to be killed in action striking down the greenskins than being stricken by the curse of Sanguinius. The thought of the Black Rage brought a near imperceptible shudder to Malach’s flesh and blood muscles, to which the dour techmarine replied,
“Brother-Sergeant HaMavet, still yourself until the servo muscle network has achieved full synchronicity.”
Before Malach could offer an apology, the techmarine returned to his duty. With no conversation to be had with Ikarus, his thoughts returned to the aftermath of the explosion on Iactu III, and the fall into madness of his squadmates Rikard and Antor after witnessing the death of their sergeant. A subdued portion of Malach’s brain recognized the pull on his psyche that preceded the fall into the blackness, having been warned of the signs by the Sanguinary Priests as all neophytes of the chapter were. Perhaps the sudden death of the sergeant was not a sufficient enough trauma to trigger a complete shift, or perhaps it was the will of the primarch himself. Malach HaMavet did not know. All he could do was carry out the Emperor’s will, and execute the foes of man.
++Scourge the heretic, purge the xenos, incinerate the unclean. Helmet visual spectrum test beginning.++
Malach’s thoughts shifted yet again as he watched his armor’s visual readout shift between modes. From nightvision to infra-red, to heat vision and every spectrum in between. The voice of Captain Castigon still rang in his mind. His admittance to the war council of the forth company his first since his promotion. In the company barracks on Baal, the sergeants of the forth company met in Castigon’s private quarters.
“Brothers, it has been too long since the Knights of Baal have ventured forth to defend our galaxy as is our writ. But the Emperor, blessed be his name, has seen fit to end that period.”
All of the sergeants of the forth company leaned forward in their thrones that surrounded their captain has he marched around in a circle, orbiting the holo-projector which was mounted in the center of the room.
“Our corps of Adeptus Telepathica psykers has received a plea for help from the XIII Gascar Incinerators of the Imperial Guard stationed on the world Invidia located in Segmentum Obscurus. Contact was lost soon after, but not before the nature of the foe was explained to us. The so called, “Dark Eldar”, have shown the gaul to once again impugn upon the Emperor’s galaxy. Regardless of sect or creed, xenos is xenos and we shall not suffer them upon any world in the Emperor’s domain. The forth will assemble and excoriate the foe from the face of Invidia.”
The Veteran Sergeant of the forth company, Dorus stood from his throne and addressed the captain.
“Sir, with what method shall we persecute the mission at hand?”
The captain, prepared as always for any query while in a war session, gestured to a servitor in the shadows. The flesh metal amalgam came forward and activated the projector after a brief prayer to its machine spirit. The orb of Invidia appeared in the center of the room and rotated slowly upon its axis. The image quickly zoomed in upon the main continental landmass, bringing it into finer detail.
“The area of the planet which concerns us, is upon the continent of Arcas. As you can see it is a mountainous region that for centuries had been plagued by roving bands of orcs. The XIII was tasked with cleaning up the infestation of greenskins, and was on the cusp of success, before the surprise attack by the Dark Eldar. Our mission is threefold: We must establish contact with the surviving elements of the XIII. Our Devastators will be circling the peaks of the range providing heavy support, the largest of which is called Tartarus. Myself and our assault squads will directly attack the hab-units upon the peak of Tartarus, the most likely location of the bulk of the xenos raiders. We will free any human hab-workers as soon as possible. The tactical squads will insert at the base of the mountain via drop pod. They will push to the top, cleaning up any scattered resistance as well as seizing and holding the passes which control access to the peak. These are your tasks brothers. Inform your squads of their duties. See to your wargear. Trust in the Emperor and we shall succeed. In Sanguinius’ name.”
The sergeants all repeated Castigon’s refrain then went to prepare the company for war. After the Thunderhawks ferried the company to the cruiser awaiting in orbit, the Aria made way to Styx Station. Styx was the primary hub for all heavy tonnage craft entering and leaving the Baal system. Ships departing the system were given final checks and topped off on weapon stocks. Incoming vessels were scrutinized and searched. This docking was planned to coincide with the ingress of the Mechanicum forge ship, Ommnisiah’s Anvil, upon which dozens of suits of Mark VII power armor were en route to Baal for chapter resupply.
With the visor modes diagnostic finally complete, Ikarus once again intoned,
“Unholster your weapon, Brother-Sergeant, and activate it please.”
This particular forgeship’s cargo happened to contain more than just armor resupply. Malach smiled to himself as he took the brand new plasma pistol maglocked to his leg into his left hand. Due to his increased access to the armory with his rise in rank, Malach decided to trade in his bolter for a plasma pistol. Better to wield in tandem with the chainsword he would now be using. Sensors in the palm and fingertips of his gauntlet read the weapon as a single-core plasma pistol. The small icon representing it in the bottom left corner of his HUD quickly cycled from red, to yellow, to green as the weapon powered up, the conductor coils along the top glowing a bright teal. His grip, strong enough to bend plasteel, was still sensitive enough to feel the plasma pistol’s cooling systems cycling super cold liquid along the gun’s length. He then took into his right gauntlet the chainsword given to him by Captain Castigon. He took the Mark VI, ‘Redemptor’ pattern chainsword through its different speeds, each setting faster and more damaging than the next. His helm’s auditory compensators automatically dampened the sound of the mini engine within his chain weapon. The sword was as much a weapon, as a symbol of office. Though it lacked the artificed precision of a power weapon, the cruel mono edged steel alloyed teeth were still potent enough to butcher all but the most powerful of fiends. With the enthusiasm of a neophyte, Malach saluted with the weapon and swore along its fell teeth, it would carve into xenos flesh before long.
“By my pistol, Tears. By my sword, Lucifer. I will strike down the enemies of my chapter’s enemies in Sanguinius’ name.”
The phrase spoken to himself filled him with the pure battlelust of the Angel Himself, red and rich, cresting with each beat of his twin hearts. The holos surrounding him on the platform faded and Ikarus spoke,
“ Your armor is fully attuned to the black carapace. I have been informed by Brother Incarael that the next suit of armor you wear that is destroyed completely, you will have to journey to Mars itself to reforge.”
Malach stepped off of the platform with a suppressed grin creeping off of his face. Techmarines telling jokes now? He would have to put the cog boy in his place later, that would keep. He had a drop pod insertion to plan.