Cheers lads, appreciate it
here's the next part, all of these seem to end abruptly but don't worry, it is fine
The birds before him cawed as they landed in the dew covered grass, tilting heads at the giant amongst their feeding grounds. Each was a crimson and blue feathered being the size of a small dog, and their angular beaks were dangling with warm meat. Predatory, clearly. One drew near to Raymond and inquisitively bit down upon his leg, drawing a thin crescent of blood from beneath his robes. Raymond let it do so as his body compensated for the pain and his cells sealed the wound. His ancient body could barely help him although, and he felt stifling pain envelope his entire right leg.
The Templar went down onto his haunches and gripped the crested head of the creature and it lashed out around the wrist of Raymond who grinned weakly as it yanked and a string of flesh came free. With a mere flick of is wrist the neck of the avian snapped audibly and blood leaked around his hand. He tossed away the lifeless corpse and it bounced, wings twisting beneath it. Raymond had fought foul amalgamations of bird and man before upon various worlds of the Mastodonian Cluster and those were some of his finest tales, albeit ones which he did not wish to retell.
There was a sudden hubbub of activity and a long blunt shape shot in low over his head, ruffling his robes wildly. Raymond angled his head upwards as the object banked back over him with a foul smell of burning petroleum and other crude oils. Upon the nose of the vessel was a stylized pearl cross surrounded by a golden wreath; the tips of the cross each ended in the point of a blade. Within the centre rested the Chapter badge of the Black Templars. Raymond paced around as it landed, his hood thrown back.
When the forward ramp fell down with a calamitous clang, Raymond knew who would be coming for him instantly. Clad in a tightly fitting black bodysuit that portrayed his muscles largely, the figure wore a white cloak upon his shoulders that flapped in the wind behind him. He was devilishly handsome despite the scar which had sealed his right eye close and forever curled his lip upwards. A mane of black hair was tied into a high reaching topknot and it dangled back down ponderously, rocking back and forth in the wind. At his side he carried a giant blade that shimmered in the light, and Raymond could here its annoying tapping against the metal boots of the man as he drew near.
‘I knew you would come’ Raymond declared, his voice barely a whisper over the dulling engines of the Thunderhawk.
‘And I knew you would be expecting me’ replied the Templar as he got within a matter of feet away, rubbing his mailed gauntlets together so that it made a continuous rustle.
‘Stop that now.’ warned Raymond intentionally, looking into the single regal eye of his fellow.
‘Come mast-’ the Templar said, but he was rudely cut off mid sentence by Raymond.
‘I am your master no more Guy! Not since you became Castellan! Do not call me but that mockery!’ Raymond’s voice was a harsh bellowing, and his former Neophyte stepped back with balled fists.
‘No.’ Guy muttered quietly through gritted teeth ‘You have not been my master in a long time Raymond, not in a long time….’
Two Hundred and Ninety Eight Years Previously, Death-World “Hell’s Teeth”
Raymond and Guy slowly trudged through the knee deep mud, dragging their robes across its slurping surface. Behind them came Imitates Robert and Gregor both followed several metres towards the left and right respectively, and next to them came their Neophytes; the burly Leopold and the shockingly tall Tancred. Gregor had took seven standard Terran months before he had chosen another Neophyte, and Tancred had instantly became good friends with his mentor. Robert and Leopold were both young when compared to the others, and that was shown in their showoff like movements.
‘These damned Leeches are everywhere’ growled Leopold as he skewered a long serpentine like thing upon his combat blade, lifting it up to his face as he did so. The Leech reached for him with dozens of flexible teeth and Leopold split it in two, tossing the sickly halves back into the mud.
‘Be quiet you fool’ warned Gregor as he panned left and right with his Bolter, searching the razor-leafed foliage for any signs of movement.
The Tyranids had been hunted to Hell’s Teeth by the Black Templars and Ultramarines and they had forced the eight or so ships which had escaped Macragge too crash land. The Ultramarines were moving through the equilateral mountain ranges while the Templars were sweeping through the mist-hidden jungles beneath. Raymond felt his feet slip deeper and he nearly tumbled, barely managing to regain his composure. Guy chuckled beneath his helm and it echoed through the Vox loudly, vibrating the earpieces of Raymond.
‘As fun as this is, I would much rather be indulging myself in wines and fruits’ groaned Tancred as he moved aside a leaf with his Bolter and looked into the jungle rise above.
There was a harsh, guttural chuckle at that. Each of the Marines had erupted in a deep mirth and had all but halted, the sucking sludge beneath them growing tighter around their legs. Leopold gave his fellows a worried look, his half-helm not hiding his goggled expressions good enough. And then he was gone. The mud expanded around him in a ball and he collapsed, screaming, his armoured fingers digging deep rivets from the wall of brown-green around him. Robert bellowed something and reached after his fellow, his scripture covered helm bobbing from side to side.
Gregor was already half hopping half running towards him, his robes dirtied and dripping. Before he could get near though the hole had already spun back around and was gone, leaving a panting Robert standing over it with his Bolter clutched tightly. Gregor stepped away slightly and paid his respects, bowing his head and allowing his smile to be lashed from his face. Tancred was snapping branches nearby in a rage, having served with Leopold since he was a child, having both been recruited upon the same world.
‘Out of this place. NOW!’ roared Raymond and the Templars moved towards the nearest embankment, all save Robert. He was know on his knees, his Bolter pushed beneath the putrid smelling surface. Raymond moved over towards him cautiously and gently rested his gauntlet upon the colourful pauldron of his Brother.
‘We must continue Robert. Leopold will be greatly missed, as is every Neophyte by his Initiate. Leopold would have wanted us to seek the Hive-Ship, that is where you can vent your rage. Come Brother, let the Emperor guide us into the belly of the beast’ offered Raymond quietly, trying to respect his fellow.
‘I cannot leave his body Ray, he may still live. It was dry! I saw the walls, it was some kind of….Tunnel….Please, let me find him! He is as true as any of us. If the Tyranids have got him, I swear I will tear down their damned colony with my hands alone!’ his last words was a promise enthralled with rage, and Raymond looked around with a sigh upon his lips.
And then he saw them. Tancred, Guy and Gregor were standing upon the embankment nearby. Each had removed their helms and held them in the crooks of their arms, their faces looking apologetic towards their fellow. The six of them had been a closely knit group since they had first come together and thus the loss of Leopold was a great thing. They looked distant as Raymond dragged Robert up and over towards the embankment, staring at them with half-rolled eyes.
Gregor gripped his other pauldron and pulled him up, laying a had compassionately upon his shoulder. With Tancred and Guy leading the way, the five Marines set off into the jungle at a slow pace, their Chainswords cutting through anything which stood before them. They moved in silence, bar the crunching of weeds, vines and the occasional bug beneath their giant boots. Silence that was, bar the quiet, mournful whimpering of Robert. That terrible, mournful whimpering.
They continued their advance un-helmed up a steep incline dotted with shrubs and thin bodied trees studded with flesh-rendering spines. Evidences of battle, the odd Bolter casing or chip of ceramite dotted the environment and the Marines grew even more tense. Fluttering birds hovered over head, circling the small group at quite a haste. The twin suns that Hell’s Teeth orbited were flaring brightly. Raymond knew that the Imperial fleet above would have been trying to inflate them too deny the Tyranids their prize. It was probably failing, but that did not matter to the Templars.
‘I am growing tired of footslogging, can we not call in a Rhino?’ groaned Tancred as he lazily pulled himself up onto a long rock, his Bolter held loosely.
Tancred was a redhead. His hair was braided into six prongs along the sides and centre of his head, each one glistening with globules of sweat. A fiery beard pooled out across his barrel chest and each individual strand was dipped in black oil so that the tips shorn obsidian. A single scar spread diagonally across his nose from a training accident that had left the cartilage of his nose split in two. It was an ugly mark but one that Tancred bore proudly. Both of his eyes were grey globes that slowly seemed to shift as he stood with his hands behind his back, staring downwards. Raymond liked Tancred, he was a noble and abiding Marine and a relatively friendly one at that.
‘We are Templars. We ride into battle when needed, it is not needed Neophyte. Besides, this ground is far to hazardous to bring in armour’ retorted Gregor as he pulled his foot from a sinkhole that he had stumbled into, his scarred features falling upon Tancred distastefully.
‘Both of you hush’ warned Raymond and went down onto his one knee, placing one gauntlet on the ground ‘The earth…..It is vibrating’
His eyes went wide, but before he could shout a warning Raymond was tossed back down the incline violently in a spout of rock and earthen materials. A sudden flurry of Bolter fire opened up into the pillar of debris, blowing it into tiny flecks against the bright sky. A tremendously awful cry sounded and something long and coiled threw itself from within and barrelled into Tancred. The Neophyte screamed as his chest was torn open, leaking fluids downwards and he slammed into the ground hard, cracking hard.
The scarlet and aureolin creature which was wrapped around him angled its head towards Gregor and dripped liquid flame onto the downed Tancred, who quivered and roared. It was roughly three metres of interlocking chitin and sharp appendages, with a diamond shaped head covered with bulbous eyes. Rows upon rows of dagger like teeth filled its maw, each encrusted with dried blood and other foul liquids. A fat purple tongue twisted in its mouth, a orifice-clad thing that leaked hissing flames across the ground. Tancred was a squirming black and white mass, his face hidden beneath a mask of blood and pain.
Guy was already charging before Tancred could hit the ground. With the butt of his Bolter he struck the creature in the arch of its curving back, and it screamed and rolled away from Tancred. The Templar let his head collapse into the ground, and sighed weakly. Robert charged next, Chainsword spinning in his hands. It tore into the creature and erupted a spray of orange vitae from its flesh. It yapped and lashed out, wrapping its mouth around the forearm of Robert. The crunch of his armour grew louder as more pressure was placed down, and Robert found himself faltering.
Gregor was unleashing a magazine of rounds into its flank, venting its insides. The creature moved spasmodically and Robert screamed as his arm was lacerated and burnt, the creature finally yanked and fell away though, wrapping into a ball as it rolled. Raymond met it head on. With his fists balled around a pair of grenades he struck one of the dripping wounds in the creatures flank. His hands dug deep and retracted a few seconds later, empty. The Tyranid looked at him strangely, and Raymond pivoted around on one leg and threw himself back down the hill.
Behind him the beast shrieked as it burst like a ripe balloon, spraying gore and fire in all directions. Raymond could see the Templars helping Tancred up, who had three crimson rents across wide chest. His armour was slick with blood, thick droplets slipping from the curves and carving brown-red paths across the half-destroyed Aquila upon his torso. Propped up by Gregor and Guy, he spat a ball of yellow phlegm mixed with orange blood until it looked pink, and allowed himself to close his eyes. When Raymond drew nearer, shaking his hands to rid himself of the foul smelling blood on his hands, he could heard Tancred laughing. The Marine was actually laughing!
‘What’s so mirthful Tancred?’ demanded Raymond, his Bolter clacking against his hip with each step, a monotone annoyance to its owner.
‘Not even the Tyranid scum can kill me. Not even a claw! These bastards are in love with me, I swear it!’ came the reply loudly, and Raymond couldn’t help but to crack a grin at his Brother. He was still in a good mood then.
‘We should continue, the Tyranids will swarm this entire area in a matter of hours if that cur still lives.’ offered Gregor, a bloody handprint from Tancred now showing brightly upon his shoulder. Raymond nodded and the Templars set off in silence once again, continuing their ascent.